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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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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Never Grow Up

Ever been to Disney World? If not, then I seriously recommend and encourage you to do so. I have been four times in my lifetime, and all four trips have been fun-filled and simply magical. (I know that’s cheesy, but it’s so true.) Lots of people may consider Disney stuff “just for kids,” but I believe Disney is for everyone. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy letting their inner child shine for a bit? The last trip to Disney World I made with my family, I was 20 years old and my younger sister was 17, but we acted like we were 6-year-old children.

Before we even arrived at Disney, my sister and I were so excited we could barely keep ourselves from bouncing off the walls. We decided to bring as many Disney stuffed animals as we could, or more accurately, as many as our parents would allow in the car. The road trip was about 18 hours with a couple of rests in between, but we started to listen to more and more Disney music the closer we got to Orlando. I’m not talking about only the princess songs like “A Whole New World” and “I See the Light.” I’m talking about soundtracks to all Disney movies from “April Showers” in Bambi to the overture of Monsters Inc. (My whole family is really into all things Disney.) You’d think we would have gotten tired of it all, but we definitely did not. Each song only amped us up more for the experience to come.

There were so many things to do at the parks. Each park is so unique and incredible. So many shows to see, coasters to ride, games to play, foods to eat, and characters to meet. My family and I stayed for a week and didn’t have the chance to do everything that we wanted to do. But the activities we did do were amazing.

Magic Kingdom was one of the first parks I went to. Of all of the different rides here, my favorites were the Mountains: Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain. Don’t let the names fool you; these rides are very different. Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster that is supposed to look like you’re whizzing through outer space. I saw stars inside the Mountain and after riding it. Thunder Mountain is a tamer coaster that’s outside and made to look like an old Western mining site, so there are lots of explosions. My sister and I would take turns squashing each other in the one big coaster seat by leaning dramatically on the larger curves and turns. Splash Mountain is the wettest ride in Magic Kingdom, as implied by the name. Most of it is pretty relaxing except for the 50 foot drop at a near 90 degree angle. My family decided to ride this one at the hottest point of the day, so luckily we were quite cool for the rest of the time we spent in the park.

But not everything is about the rides. My sister and I loved meeting different characters from our favorite shows. My sister had the opportunity to meet and chat with Peter Pan. Both of them were very uppity in their conversation, and I think my sister may as well have been flying after that interaction she was so happy. I think meeting Chewbacca and getting a hug from him was my favorite part of the entire trip. (I am a HUGE Star Wars fan, so I was excited to see any of the characters.) I had no idea what he was saying, but I am sure it was nothing but polite and complimentary. We even had a few run-ins with some storm troopers who were “punishing” rebel sympathizers, meaning they would find people who were wearing anything to do with the rebel alliance (symbols, pictures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi robes, etc.), then put them in a random corner, and walk away. It was quite a hilarious sight to see.

I could rave on and on about what I saw at Disney World. I could tell of how I oohed and awed over the fireworks every night, how my sister and I tried on every single silly hat we could find in the gift shops, how we also almost made ourselves sick in the spinning tea cup ride, or how I teared up when we had to leave to go home. I have so many fond memories from these child-like experiences with my family. And I think that is because at Disney World, I’m allowed to be a little kid again.

Written by Taylor C.

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Do Bees Have Knees?

If you grew up in the south like I did, you’ve probably heard more strange idioms than you can count. It seems as if the qualifications for being a southern grandma include having a name like Mamaw and meeting a nonsensical idiom quota. However, have you ever stopped to wonder what these sayings mean or where they come from? Well, I’ve got the answers for you. Here is a list of some strange idioms and adages and what they really mean.

  1. “Don’t wear white after Labor Day.”

As it turns out, this phrase stems from an upper-class sense of superiority in the late 1800s. In order for affluent women to distinguish between themselves and lower class impostors, they created a series of absurd fashion rules that only rich women knew. Not wearing white after Labor Day was one of them.

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  1. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Most people who have heard this phrase understand it to mean that you can’t “have it all.” The phrase comes from the mid-1500s, with the first documented use being in 1546. Essentially, it means you cannot both eat the cake and still have it; you have to choose between the two things.

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  1. “One in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

This phrase is fairly simple. It means it’s better to hold onto what you have than risk it for the possibility of something better. The phrase originated from medieval falconry practices in 16th century England. Fun fact: the original phrase was written as “Better one byrde in hande than ten in the wood.”

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  1. “Selling like hotcakes”

It is believed that this term came about in the mid-1800s because pancakes, or hotcakes, were common food at fairs and socials. At these busy events, the crowding resulted in a rush at the pancake stand. The phrase most likely developed as a slang term from such occurrences. It simply means to be in high demand and sell quickly.

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  1. “The big cheese”

This phrase originated in England in the 1800s as simply “the cheese.” That phrase by itself was a slang term meaning something was a big deal. Experts suggest that the phrase came about when English colonizers misheard the Hindi word chiz, which means “a thing.” When it crossed the pond to America, we added “big,” likely because of the large wheels of cheese produced in America at the time.

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  1. “Take it with a grain of salt.”

As it turns out, this phrase came from a 17th century recipe for a poison antidote. The grain of salt was added to a mix of nuts, herbs, and fruits. The meaning comes from the idea that with this mixture in his or her body, a person could disregard potential poisons he or she might encounter. Thus, if you take something with a grain of salt, you can disregard it.

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  1. “Dead as a doornail”

Obviously, this phrase means something is very dead, and most people probably recognize it from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The phrase was first used in the 1300s to mean dead, and was popularized later by William Shakespeare. The reason doornails are considered dead is because the process of hammering one into a door and bending the protruding end to keep it from falling out would render the nail useless afterwards.

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  1. “The bee’s knees”

This phrase simply means cool or in fashion, and was popular in the U.S. in the 1920s. It originally was supposed to mean “nonsense” because it was a nonsense expression. The reason that the phrase now means “cool” is unknown. It likely evolved from local slang.

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There you have it, folks. Now you can consider yourself well-informed and share this knowledge with the world. And, next time you use one of these phrases, you can relish in the fact that you know where it comes from.

Written by Taylor H.

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Four Pranks You’d Be a Fool Not to Try in April

Four Pranks You’d be a Fool Not to Try in April

Ah! April has returned, bearing the fruits of a new season. Oh, the lovely spring showers, colorful meadows, and plenty of pranks to try out on April Fools’ Day.

It is said that April Fools’ Day began in France with little children tapping fish heads on their peer’s backs and calling the day “Poisson d’Avril.” Scotland used their two-day rendition to kick off the first “kick me” signs. With great American appreciation for the first day of April, I give you my top four pranks for April Fool’s:

  1. Idle iPhone- For this prank, simply grab a friend’s unlocked iPhone and take a screenshot of their primary home screen page. Next, hold down an app until it begins to move and slide the apps to one of their secondary home screen pages. Next, set the screenshot as the background image for the phone. Voila! Now you may enjoy the next ten minutes of your friends techno tantrum.  You’re welcome!
  2. Freshly Squeezed Cheese- Ah! Ah-ha! The day is new and your roommate has just peeled his or her head off the pillow and is clearly in need of some morning motivation. Be a good roomie and fetch some breakfast. Maybe make some eggs and bacon served with a tall glass of orange juice. Instead of pulling out your carton of Minute Maid, serve something a bit less tasty. Grab a box of macaroni and cheese and remove the cheese mix from the box. Pour the cheese mix into a pitcher of water. Add more water if needed to dilute the color until it looks like orange juice and serve. That surely will wake up the deepest of sleepers and make for an interesting reaction.

Looking to turn up the heat a notch and be a terrible friend? These are for you:

  1. “Did I do that?”- Act as if you are clumsily ruining a friend’s life by pretending to wreck his/her gear. One idea would be to stage a spill on an open laptop or computer. Pour out some nail polish or bottle glue onto wax paper and let it dry. Afterwards, remove the dried substance and place it on the keyboard along with an empty bottle of the items so that it appears to have just spilled. You’ll adore that ghostly look on your BFF’s face when she considers the damage you’ve done. She’ll love you!
  2. “I see you!”-  Print colored pictures of scary characters and realistic looking hands and tape them in high traffic areas partway behind curtains, around walls, and other objects. Anyone who falls victim to noticing these peeping figures will surely despise the soul who almost made them wet their pants.

For the best pranks, take stock of your friend’s personalities. Be sure to know what they might find amusing and what might be downright offensive or hurtful. If you want to be known in your friend group as the mischievous and clever prank king or queen and still have a friend group, take caution before pranking your friends. These pranks are meant for everyone, including the “victim” to enjoy, not to be insensitive, disrespectful, or hurtful. “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV). So, use caution before proceeding!

Written by Ashley

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Take Care of Your Characters

Have you ever been writing a story and get the worst writer’s block? Maybe you simply can’t figure out where the plot should go or why your characters are even in the situation in the first place. If you’ve had this experience, don’t worry. You are not alone. (If you haven’t, then I am jealous of your talent.) A good method to use when you get writer’s block is to focus on your characters. The plot is definitely the main element of a story, but the characters have a huge impact on where the plot is going.

If you’re like me, then you can get caught up in all the plot details like how Person A and Person B will finally fall in love and be together or how the hero will climb out of the hopeless situation he’s been thrown into. These, along with many other types of plot details, rely on characters. If you can figure out what you want your character’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations to be, then you can figure out where your story is going.

One thing I like to do in order to keep everything organized in my brain and give me a visual aid is make character sheets. I compile a list of all the things I would want to know about my character. And this isn’t limited to a simple description like eye color, hair style, body type, and clothing. Although appearances can give certain clues to the identities of people, they do not tell the entire story. You can also list personality traits. What mood are they in most of the time? Give both the good and bad side of their character. Also, list some other random facts about them. What annoys your character to the nth degree? What can they simply not resist? What is their sense of humor like? What are their greatest fears? Do they have any deep, dark secrets? All of these attributes can affect your characters’ actions and therefore guide the plot of your story in a specific direction.

If you’ve got all this stuff down already, then maybe it’s time for a plot twist of some sort; you may need something unexpected to happen. Well, this may sound harsh, but to do this, you’ll probably need to put your character through a little (or a lot) of turmoil. But don’t be afraid to be mean to your characters. A lot of the time, the most influential moment in a novel or short story is when something negatively impacts the characters, especially the main protagonist. If they take something for granted, take it away, whether it be an object or a person. It will cause them to either change routes or test their commitment to a certain path. Maybe they have a belief or a certain someone or something they believe in. Make them doubt it. Make them confused. They may choose to seek out another truth or maybe they will overcome it and have a new, stronger faith. Remember their worst fears? Use them. They could fall in defeat or overcome it.

I used a couple of these methods when I was in one of my creative slumps as I was writing one of my fantasy stories. I specifically turned to my protagonist’s loved ones. My young, orphaned heroine had recently begun to form a positive and growing relationship with her newfound father figure and mentor, and she couldn’t have felt happier or safer with him. The plot grew to a standstill because the protagonist felt too safe and had no reason to move forward in her quest, so I decided that this was the time the villain should strike and take away this new safety from my heroine. I didn’t exactly kill the beloved mentor off, but I left barely enough hope for the heroine to hold onto so that she would have the motivation to continue her quest and fulfill her destiny in my story. Saving him and the goal of her quest became the same, so if she believed that she could save her mentor, then she would have the motivation to fulfill her destiny in completing her quest.

You can use these concepts and techniques to both develop your characters’ identities and push the story forward. Thinking about your characters, their actions, their beliefs, their fears will help aim the plot of your story in a certain direction. Without your characters, there would be no story.

Written by Taylor Hayes

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Sesame Street Around the World

Being in tune with different cultures around the world is incredibly important in order to understand the people who come from various cultures. They have different customs, traditions, clothes, foods, movies, and television. Specifically children’s television. To be even more specific, the kid’s show, Sesame Street. Yes, Sesame Street can be instrumental in understanding the cultures of various nations and relating to the people thereof.

Sesame Street has been shown in over 140 countries around the world and has 34 international co-productions. And each of these productions is unique in its own way. Many don’t even go by name of Sesame Street. In the Middle Eastern country of Jordan, the program is called Hikayat Sesame, which roughly translates to “sesame tales.” The Philippines just has Sesame! The one in Australia is Open Sesame. Northern Ireland’s show doesn’t even take place in a city or on a street, but it does takes place in Sesame Tree. And then there are the countries that keep the same title but translate into their own language, like Sesamstrasse in Germany.

But what’s in a name, right? Well, each of these countries presents a title that relates best with the children who watch it. Most kids are familiar with cities and streets in America and Germany, but kids in Norway may know more about trains since that’s a popular way to travel there. So, their show is called Sesame Stasjon, which translates to “sesame station.” There is enough difference even in the names to establish a certain aspect of a specific culture, but it’s still possible to relate to the show and those who watch it.

The other similarities and differences that define each country’s version of the show consist of the characters themselves. Most productions have the same main characters like Elmo or Grover, but sometimes other characters get a makeover. For example, several programs have a grouch similar to Oscar, the green, grumpy muppet who lives in a trash can. In India’s Galli Galli Sim Sim, Khadoosa is a similar grouch but loves to take care of his garden and is quite proud of his flowers. Another is from the Rechov Sumsum show in Israel: Moishe Oofnik, who is brown and furry and lives in a broken car. (I guess that’s better than a trash can, right?) There are so, SO many more. And of course, all of their names pertain to the language of country where the program is shown. But just because they are in different languages doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the show with someone from a different country.

For example, I found out from a friend, who grew up watching Plaza Sésamo in Mexico, that instead of Big Bird, he knew Abelardo. Abelardo is not the big, yellow bird that Americans know, but he is a large, more colorful bird with bright green and red feathers, who is roughly the same character as Big Bird. These characters are different because of the cultures in which they are portrayed. Big Bird is supposed to be a canary, which is an American bird, and Abelardo is a parrot, which is more popular in the Latin America culture. It’s these types of seemingly little differences that can distinguish various cultures while also bringing people together.

So maybe the next time you talk to an international student or someone who was raised in a different country, try asking about Sesame Street. It can be a pretty entertaining topic. The show tells a lot about the culture of different societies, so you may learn something! At the very least, it serves well to strike up an interesting conversation.

Written by Taylor Hayes

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