Spooky Snacks

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Since the summer season of sodas and snow cones has come to an end, festive fall foods are finally flourishing! With the 31st of October quickly approaching, here are two tantalizing treats that tend to the typical trend.

Halloween Candy Bark

Ingredients:1

  • 3 cups of bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups of assorted candy, cut into bite sized pieces

Instructions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pour the chocolate chips into a glass bowl and melt them in the microwave.

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Pro tip: Make sure to stir the chips every 10-15 seconds and continue checking on them to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn!

 

  1. Pour the chocolate onto the parchment paper, and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer about ¼-inch thick.
  2. Sprinkle the chopped candy on top of the chocolate and place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for 30-40 minutes, just until the chocolate has fully hardened.

3(College students beware: you may have to borrow some of your roommate’s fridge shelf to fit that whole sheet in the fridge!)

  1. Remove the bark from the fridge and carefully slide it (including parchment paper) off of the baking sheet and onto a cutting board.

Pro-tip: A spatula may be helpful to separate it from the paper.4

  1. Pull out your biggest knife and creatively cut the bark into irregularly shaped pieces.
  2. Serve immediately or save it for later by storing the bark in an air-tight contai
  3. ner.

Texas Tip: DO NOT leave your candy bark outside or in a warm car for more than two minutes unless attempting to make a Halloween Candy Lake.

 

Having a healthier hoopla? Consider Candy Corn Kebabs!

Candy Corn Fruit Kebabs 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 papaya
  • 1/2 pineapple
  • Toothpicks (AKA mini Kebab sticks)

Instructions:

  1. Peel your banana, pineapple, and papaya.
  2. Cut pineapple and papaya in half length-ways. Repeat on the pieces you just cut so that each fruit is sliced into four equal pieces.
  3. Now, core/deseed the pineapple and papaya.

READ CLOSELY HERE:

  1. Slice each piece of fruit horizontally at the same width (about 1 cm or 1/3 inch).7
  2. Cut the banana slices into six even triangular pieces. Cut the pineapple and papaya into curved strips.
  3. Now the fun part! Place fruit on the mini Kebab sticks. First pineapple, then papaya, and last but not least… the banana!

Eek! Entertaining is easy with these exceptional eats! Enjoy these envious editions at any evening event.

Written by Leah

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The Joy of Writing an Introduction

Hi, I’m Meredith Rose, and for the next several paragraphs, I’ll be your host as we discover the joy of writing an introduction. Composing an introduction can be intimidating, sometimes even more so than writing the body of the paper! However, my good friend Bob Ross and I are here to tell you that fretting over your introduction is not necessary. As this wise old artist once said, “All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.” The same rings true for introductions: “All you need to write an introduction is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind.” So… let’s write a happy little introduction together!

The Almighty Introduction

Look no further than the first season, first episode of The Joy of Painting to find Bob’s greatest lesson on writing an introduction. In the first two minutes of this episode, Bob lays out a simple yet almighty example for how to introduce any essay. Click on this link and watch from 0:00-2:10 before we discuss Bob’s technique.

inverse pyramid of introductionWelcome back! Let’s break this down a little. Bob uses what I like to call the Inverse Pyramid of Introduction in this first episode. As the graphic depicts, the four sections of an introduction are: topic, attention, background, and thesis. In addition, the inverse pyramid demonstrates how each section of an introduction becomes more and more specific to the central discussion of the essay. If you follow Bob’s example and use the inverse pyramid technique, you are sure to write an almighty introduction every time!

Now, time to drag out your old #2 pencils and composition books as we discuss the four sections of an introduction.

Topic

As you saw, Bob begins his introduction by stating, “Hi, I’m Bob Ross, and for the next thirteen weeks, I’ll be your host as we experience the joy of painting.” Before going any further, I would like to extend a warning that Bob Ross is undoubtedly a friend of Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). By this, I mean that he too is a fan of non-academic language. (If you have no idea what I am referring to, please click on the following link to familiarize yourself with our last Writing Process blog entitled “Academic Writing: A Time to be Thor, not Iron Man.”) With this in mind, it is still possible to learn from Bob’s example, if not his actual word choice. You’ll notice that Bob’s first sentence is broad. He does not include any details about how or what he will be painting. He simply introduces the topic.

So, tell me, what is it that you’re writing about? Have you been asked to discuss the cause and effects of the Great Depression? Or maybe your assignment is to analyze the poetic devices of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18”? How about a prompt to examine the marketing mix used by Dollar Shave Club to reach its target market? Whether you’re writing a cause and effect essay for history, a literary analysis essay for English, or a research essay in marketing, you should always begin by introducing the topic, the work, the event, or the person you’ll be discussing.

Take my example italicized above. The first sentence of this essay’s introduction might read, “The marketing mix includes product, price, distribution, and promotion, and it is integral to the success of all businesses.” Notice that this sentence, just like Bob’s, is broad. It does not specifically mention Dollar Shave Club or how they utilize the marketing mix. Rather, it simply introduces the topic and leaves specifics for later sentences.

Attention

The most versatile section of the Inverse Pyramid of Introduction is attention. There are countless ways to grab your audience’s attention, but the method that Bob used in his almighty introduction is making a claim. A claim is asserting a statement as fact, preferably something unexpected. While Bob rambles on and on in the attention section of his introduction (there’s that non-academic language again), it can be summed up effectively by one of his statements: “I think there’s an artist hid in the bottom of every single one of us. And here, we will try to show you how to bring that artist out to put it on canvas, because you too can paint almighty pictures.” Did you hear that unexpected assertion? You too can paint almighty pictures! I don’t know about you, but that’s quite a claim given my prior artistic endeavors, and it sure does grab my attention!

So how can we follow Bob’s example in our own academic writing? Let’s return to my marketing essay example. Perhaps the next two sentences of the introduction would read, “Dollar Shave Club, a subscription-based shaving service founded in 2011, created a marketing mix that satisfied its target market. This strategy resulted in the company selling out of inventory and acquiring 12,000 subscriptions just six hours after its first promotional video was posted on YouTube.” Notice that this sentence both grabs the reader’s attention by making a startling statement and further narrows the topic of discussion. While the first sentence of the example introduction mentioned only the marketing mix and its components, I have now named Dollar Shave Club as the company whose marketing mix I will discuss.

Background

The next section of an introduction further explains the topic before the thesis is stated. As you watched, Bob includes some pertinent background information with his audience before the show begins. “I’d like to go over some of the equipment we’ll use before we start,” he says. Bob then informs his audience about the types of brushes he’ll use, describes important aspects of the pallet knife, and names the colors that he’ll paint with. He also informs the audience that they will paint freely without tracing patterns. All of this information serves to explain the topic of painting before Bob states his thesis for The Joy of Painting series.

I can follow Bob’s example by adding these two sentences to my marketing essay introduction: “Michael Dubin and Mark Levine, co-founders of this revolutionary shaving service, clearly understand the importance of the marketing mix and know how to manipulate it to make a profit. Today, the firm estimates $140 million in sales, has two million online subscribers, and ships fifty million shaving packages every year.” These background details about Dollar Shave Club give my readers a clearer understanding of the company and demonstrate why the firm is a good example from which to learn.

Thesis

There are many important things to remember about the last section of the Inverse Pyramid of Introduction. First, every good essay has a thesis. Without one, readers have no idea where specifically the paper is heading. Second, every good thesis guides the reader through the points that the body paragraphs will discuss. A thesis that does not do so… well, is not really a thesis! Lastly, in every good introduction, the thesis statement is the last sentence of the paragraph. While we can debate what order topic, attention, and background should come, the thesis always concludes the introduction.

Now, take a look at Bob’s thesis: “We start with a vision in our heart, and we put it on canvas. And we’re here to teach you to be able to do this too. So let’s do it! Let’s paint a picture.” Bob is an excellent example to follow when writing an introduction, but not so much when it comes to constructing a thesis. In the true spirit of his show, Bob fashions an ambiguous thesis statement full of non-academic language. After all, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy accidents!” Oh, that this famous Bob Ross quote was true for essay writing too. Unfortunately, we students must write and revise our work with a more critical eye than Bob used to paint. For more information on how to properly structure your thesis, I encourage you to stay tuned for next week’s blog, “The Fulcrum of Academic Writing.” Michelle’s expertise will guide you far better than Bob can!

In addition to reading our next Writing Process blog, consider this example thesis, which concludes my marketing essay introduction: “This success is fully credited to Dollar Shave Club’s use of an innovative marketing mix that includes differentiated products, low prices, online distribution, and unique promotion.” Do you see how this sentence completely narrows the topic and identifies the four points that the essay’s body paragraphs will discuss? While Bob’s thesis is general and vague, it does capture what The Joy of Painting series will be all about. Likewise, this specific and direct thesis provides a snapshot of what the rest of the marketing-mix essay will discuss.

Time for the moment of truth. Did following Bob’s example aid me in writing a happy little introduction? You judge for yourself. After putting together each of the sentences I wrote, what I have is the following:

The marketing mix includes product, price, distribution, and promotion, and it is integral to the success of all businesses. Dollar Shave Club, a subscription-based shaving service founded in 2011, created a marketing mix that satisfied its target market. This strategy resulted in the company selling out of inventory and acquiring 12,000 subscriptions just six hours after its first promotional video was posted on YouTube. Michael Dubin and Mark Levine, co-founders of this revolutionary shaving service, clearly understand the importance of the marketing mix and know how to manipulate it to make a profit. Today, the firm estimates $140 million in sales, has two million online subscribers, and ships fifty million shaving packages every year. This success is fully credited to Dollar Shave Club’s use of an innovative marketing mix that includes differentiated products, low prices, online distribution, and unique promotion.

I think it’s safe to say that Bob has done it again; that’s an almighty introduction. So go get crazy! Make a big decision! And always remember Bob’s greatest advice as you begin writing: “Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.”

Written by Meredith

For more information on writing an introduction and other writing subjects, check out our Writing an Introduction handout and the Quick Reference Flyers page of our website!

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Love Around the Clock

Inside the bedazzled, windowless walls of the University Writing Center, visitors and staff are sure to be bombarded with the pleasant aroma of roasting coffee beans and the most recent choice of Bath and Body Works scents. While engaged in their regular responsibilities, staff members may periodically tune into the bouts of sarcasm and wit shared amongst comrades or take pleasure in hearing the office Alexa tell a terrible joke. If staff members should become chilly, something we in the office believe is due to a lack of natural light, they could easily bundle up in a blanket, which are draped conveniently on the back of each chair. Best of all, workers are afforded a few moments throughout the day to put down their work in order to play. Items like Etch a Sketch, coloring books, squishy sand, and trinkets are staged around the room, inviting all to take a moment to relax. Small yet thoughtful office additions such as these not only make working in the UWC more enjoyable, they are a reflection of how considerate and caring the boss is.

Kā understands that her employees are more than writing tutors and data keepers; they are humans with feelings. In fact, the staff has many times been banished from the office during slow hours to go walk, stretch, or admire the art around the building to find a moment of relief. She bridges efficiency and productivity with stimulation and emotional self-care, which doesn’t seem to be the case in most 9-5 jobs.

She distinguishes herself from other employers by encouraging her staff to be great employees and great people in general by combining professionalism and empathy. Her desire for her employees to be the best they possibly can shows immensely as she models a great balance of supervision and mentorship by allowing staff members to transition into leadership roles and providing career-building advice.

My boss finds it invaluable for our staff to be continuously improving, encouraging us to attend writing center conferences, gain national tutoring certifications, and regularly attend staff meetings. Beyond the demands of work, she takes interest in our personal lives. Of course, that doesn’t mean mani-pedi’s every weekend or inappropriate dilly-dallying. But she does invite individuals to sit in the plush blue chair nestled in her corner of the office, and she listens with the compassion and sensitivity of a mother with her own child. Many can recall her often tearing up when being overtaken with passion and empathy for the staff she loves so much. Beyond the requirements of this 9-5 job is a boss that loves and cares for her staff around the clock. Happy National Boss’ Day, Kā!

Written by Ashley

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Academic Writing: A Time to be Thor, not Iron Man

A good lesson in academic writing must begin with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Specifically, we should consider the two vastly different characters: Tony Stark, AKA, Iron Man, and Thor, God of Thunder. If you’re a Marvel connoisseur like me, you probably already know where this is going. For you non-Marvel fans, here’s the only conversation you really need in order to understand the contrast between the two, per their first meeting in the movie The Avengers:

thor and iron man

Thor: “Do not touch me again!”
Iron Man: “Then don’t take my stuff.”
Thor: “You have no idea what you are dealing with.”
Iron Man: “Uh, Shakespeare in the Park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”
Thor: “This is beyond you, metal man. Loki will face Asgardian justice.”
Iron Man: “He gives up the Cube
, he’s all yours. Until then, stay out of the way. Tourist.”

Thor is not from around here, and it’s safe to say he is somewhat unfamiliar with Earth culture and the regular use of the English language. His speech is characterized by an air of formality (“do not touch me”) and blunt directness (“This is beyond you, metal man”). Stark is essentially the exact opposite. He is as informal as possible (don’t take my stuff) and communicates in an indirect, illustrative way (“Uh, Shakespeare in the Park?”).

In short, Thor represents academic writing, and Tony Stark is pretty much everything else. Advertisements, magazine articles, everyday conversations, and this blog: most of the world communicates in Iron Man fashion with contractions, figures of speech, slang phrases, pop culture references, first person language, and a slew of “normal” language devices that keep language interesting. Academic writing is, if you will, the Thor of the writing world; it does not make use of the fun and creative phrases people use most everywhere else. However, that does not necessarily mean academic writing has to be boring. The following examples address three of the most common academic language errors and some not-too-dull ways to revise them.

First or Second Person Language: Words such as I, we, my, us, our, you, and the like are never acceptable, which can be challenging when writing an opinion based essay, but certainly not impossible.

Iron Man Version: Throughout my research, I was unsurprised to discover that New York has a higher risk for alien invasion than any other American city.

Thor Version: Extensive research has proven what many people assume to be true: New York has a higher risk for alien invasion than any other American city.

Contractions: I know. Your fourth grade teacher forced you to learn all of these, and now I’m telling you they aren’t acceptable in academic writing…despite the fact I used two in this sentence alone. Spelling out words can feel uncomfortable when you are used to the shortened version, but it is not as hard to transition as you might imagine.

Iron Man Version: Scholars don’t consider Spider-Man a contender for the title “Strongest Avenger,” but many citizens can’t imagine why this is the case.

Thor Version: Scholars do not consider Spider-Man a contender for the title “Strongest Avenger,” but many citizens find it difficult to understand why he has never been considered for the position.

Slang Phrases: This includes a host of different sayings such as clichés (blind as a bat), idioms (it will be a piece of cake), and colloquial words (lit, very). Slang is one of the trickiest mistakes to avoid, but an easy way to spot it is to ask yourself: if someone was new to the English language, would he or she know what this phrase or word means?

Iron Man Version: Research pinpoints the start of the Avenger’s Civil War to the fact that Captain America got bent out of shape over the Sokovia Accords, and he refused to put his John Hancock on the document.

Thor Version: Researchers attribute the start of the Avenger’s Civil War to Captain America’s indignation over the Sokovia Accords and his refusal to sign the document.

When in doubt, remember that, as wonderful as Tony Stark may be, writing academic papers is a time to be Thor, not Iron Man. Because that’s what heroes do.

Written by Savanna

For more information on academic writing and other writing subjects, check out our Characteristics of Formal Academic Writing handout and the Quick Reference Flyers page of our website!

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5 Lethal Mistakes Freshmen Make and How to Avoid Them

As a sage senior and soon-to-be-graduate, I have a lot of knowledge in my noggin. It’s not necessarily the traditional text-book kind of knowledge, but rather an acute awareness that only time can provide. Basically, this is my fourth year around the collegiate sun of observing bushy-tailed freshmen navigate their new habitat. Seniors often joke about the silly quirks all freshmen students have until the passing of their first Christmas break seasons them a little. And lately, with all these fresh-faced young ones eagerly roaming the campus around me, so blithe, so nimble, so…frightful, to be honest, it got me thinking about all the quirks and misconceptions about college I had as a young freshette. To be a little less of that typical freshman on campus, heed the following tips, and you’ll trick people into thinking you know you what you’re doing.

  1. Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m a senior! When it seems as if everyone on your hall is far more familiar with the campus, the people, and the whereabouts of everything cool to do and see than you are, there is a 100% chance that person is as clueless as you. The biggest fault of freshman is not that they don’t know things, it’s that they pretend as if they do. Trust me, you’ll come across much more mature and reasonable if you ask questions about the things you don’t know.

  1. Nobody Has Friends Yet

Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration. Some people really do stick with the friends they made during freshman year all throughout college. But it’s rare. In fact, it’s natural and expected that by the time you graduate, you’ll have a totally different crew of friends, true friends, to do life with. It’s natural because building friendships takes time. Freshman feel pressured to be sociable 24/7, never be caught doing anything alone, or worst of all, eat alone *gulp* But the fact is, even if looks like everyone around you already has a gaggle of friends, chances are they’re doing the same thing as you: buddying up with randos to look like they know and love everyone. It’s okay to do stuff alone. In fact, you might make friends with a few upperclassmen by going to things alone; they’ll think you’re one of them.

  1. Wearing Your I.D Around Your Neck

Don’t do it. Just don’t. Back pocket? Fine. Wallet? Fine. Attached to a lanyard hanging around your neck? Never.

  1. Don’t Dress Like a Slob for Class

On your first day of classes, you saw them: girls hopeful for a ring-by-spring wearing a full face of makeup, sporting freshly straightened hair while wearing…Nike shorts, Chacos, and an over-sized t-shirt. Ya know what will make not only a favorable impression with your professors but also with your fellow students? Dressing up a little! We know that you care, so dress like it. It’s okay to be sloppy every now and then, but there will be ample opportunity for that come finals week. You’ll fit in much more with the wiser upperclassmen if you slip into a blouse instead of a t-shirt every once in a while.

  1. You Don’t Have to Go to Everything

Go to every class, but don’t go to every event. Enjoy your college experience, take advantage of the free time that you have, but you don’t have to go to every school event unless that’s truly how you roll. A lot of the “college experiences” you’ll look back on with fondness are going to the movies on a weeknight and staying in and eating ice cream with your roommates.

Freshman year can be a lot of fun, and as cheesy as it sounds, the key is to be yourself. Do what’s fun for you. Be patient with finding friends you truly connect with, and they might become pals for life. You’ll encounter some of the most trying times of your life, and also have some of the best times; don’t waste it! We all made and will make silly mistakes due to inexperience, but I can guarantee that by heeding these tips, you’ll come across a little wiser and enjoy yourself a lottle more.

Written by Karoline

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