Sunday, December 9, 2012

Unconditional Love: Thoughts While Taking a Study Break

As a study break today, I went through Netflix and stumbled upon a section of bridal shows. One called Bridalplasty, which I'd seen a couple episodes of before, was on there and I thought, 'why not watch a trashy show for this break?' Oh my gosh, y'all. This is worse than shows like Teen Mom and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The premise of this show is for 12 engaged women to compete for plastic surgeries leading up to their wedding. The winner gets a full-body makeover and a celebrity style wedding and honeymoon; said wedding is the first time that the fiance will see his new, plastic bride.

Watching this show is just so eye-opening to how great my parents are. I have grown up knowing that not only am I beautiful, but I am worth more than looks. Perhaps other people would disagree with me thinking I'm attractive, but at least I was given the ability to have that confidence in myself. These women apparently did not get that opportunity...

And then I was thinking, what if someone is pretty, but not so smart or talented elsewhere? Or what if they're really smart, but aren't necessarily attractive? So I realized, it's one of those issues where if you say one thing is good, it demeans all the other things. And really, neither of those things are important. It is great if you have a good brain and/or good looks, but I think the most important thing is to just love other people. If you love someone and make them feel worth it, then it doesn't matter what else they can do.

Loving unconditionally is definitely part of living zealously. Enthusiastically seek out people to love, and care about them for who they are right now, not what they can do for you or who they have been or will become. Love them simply because they exist and make sure that everyone you meet knows that they are worth it and that they don't need to go to the extremes that the women on this show are going to just to feel good about themselves. No one should have to have surgery in order to feel like they can face the world--if you love them anyway, if they are not conventionally attractive or not very book-smart, and you love them anyway, then they will be facing the world confidently, and with a confidant by their side.

If you need a person to do that for you, tell me, and I will legitimately give you the encouragement that you need every day. And if no one asks for it, then random people are going to be getting those encouraging words anyway, and I challenge you to do the same. Especially in this holiday season of giving, I would urge you to give out at least three uplifting comments everyday until the new year (and maybe continue doing so after that :] ). Not just physical compliments on clothes and such either, but also encouragement in people's studies during finals or doing a random act of kindness by helping someone pay for Christmas dinner. There are so many easy ways to lift people up and let them know that you care about them and they matter, so go and zealously seek out those opportunities!

What amazing realizations from watching this crazy show. Thanks Netflix!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Recipe: Peanut Brittle

For as long as I can remember (and even before that, actually), Christmas for me has not smelled of cinnamon and evergreen as it has with other people, but of sweet, buttery, nutty peanut brittle. Ever since I was small, I've stood in the kitchen with my mom watching, stirring sometimes, and always smelling as she made this sweet treat. Today, I'm sharing with you this perfect recipe so you can start smelling it, too! :]

I will start by telling you that your house/apartment/whatever cannot be humid while making this. It makes it verrrry sticky and that is not what you want at all.

Nothing can be like my mom's, but, from the Texas Peanut Producers Board in Gorman, Texas, the Never Fail Peanut Brittle recipe (you can order the peanuts for this recipe from them and get a little recipe card like this with the box):

Can you tell it's been used a few times?

  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 1 cup of light corn syrup (the picture above specifies Karo, but my mom always says it's too thick (viscous), and momma's always right.
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 cups of raw Spanish peanuts
  • 3 teaspoons of butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda

I love my sugar tin from Ikea!
I did not get Spanish peanuts :/ I could have sworn I saw some at Walmart the day before I went shopping for this, but the next day, even though I retraced my steps at least three times, I could not find them anywhere. I went to the baking aisle and found similar looking raw peanuts. I use margarine instead of real butter, and I just grabbed an off-brand of light corn syrup--it's called Griffin's, I believe--but it was also pretty thick like the Karo is.

I measured out the peanuts. The recipe calls for 3 cups (wayyyy too much), my mom uses 2, and I filled my measuring cup up to just below 2, and it was still a little too much peanut for me. If you like it to have a lot of nuts, put more in; if you like less, put in less-you really can't go wrong here.

Measure out the sugar and put it directly in your large pot. Mine is a 5 quart (I'm pretty sure) and it was plenty big. I think 4 quarts probably could have worked.

I measured the corn syrup and then the water in the same cup. I thought it looked fun. Go ahead and measure this now, but don't put it in the pot yet.

Baking soda beneath salt and butter on top. All in one little bowl. If you do it separately, the last step is going to be much more difficult.

Now that we have all the ingredients measured, pour the water and corn syrup in with the sugar and heat on high until a sugar thread spins. If you don't know what it looks like when sugar spins or how to look for it. . .I tried to find a video for you, but it only brings up spun sugar, which is different. There is "Aunt Merle's Peanut Brittle" which may help, but you can't see the spinning very well.

Anyway, the best way for me to describe it is that in the above picture, the sugar isn't completely dissolved, so the mixture is more opaque;

When your boiling mixture gets transparent, hold up the spoon with some of the mixture on it and watch the drips. You will see a thread spin from the spoon. My mom describes it as "a wisp from a spider web floating behind the spoon." If you don't see it, try again after about 20-30 seconds (stirring in between attempts). If you still don't see it, just look for the mixture to be fairly runny and completely transparent (aside from the bubbles which obscure that a little bit).

Add the peanuts. This is what it looks like raw.

And this is what it looks like when "golden brown." This is the point at which you should be smelling roasted peanuts. If you don't know what that smells like, I would suggest paying close attention to how it smells throughout cooking, and when it smells different, it's probably roasted. Because of how my mom makes it (sets a timer for 16 minutes, adds the nuts around 11.5 minutes left, it's ready to pour around 2 minutes left), I thought it would take much longer and almost burned mine (silly electric stove causing problems for me), so really go by the smell and don't question it if you think it's ready.

Remove from heat and toss in the butter, salt, and soda (but not the bowl, which has happened to my mom before!). Stir stir stir until the butter melts and it's well mixed, and immediately pour into a baking sheet (one with high sides). Spread it a little bit. . .

And enjoy one of my favorite parts, the spoon! My sister, Raychel, and I would take turns getting the spoon when my mom was making multiple batches in a day. The little strings of sugar are the best part! Yummy sugar strings happen when the brittle starts to cool and sticks to one thing (generally the pot) and you pull it away. Yum!

Here is the brittle when it's still really hot. It's slightly lighter in color than when it sets.

And hours later when it was completely set (it shouldn't take more than 20-30 minutes to completely cool and harden, but I had to go to a class right after pouring it).

I used my hands to break it up. So crunchy and sticky!

All broken up.

My awesome new Christmas shirt and me with the spoon, now kind of a lollipop because it hardened as well.

Bag up the big pieces and store in the freezer until you can share with friends (or eat it for breakfast :P ).

Leave the smaller pieces in the pan for snacking on--every time you go in the kitchen.

To clean the spoon, pot, and cookie sheet, simply soak in hot water and the sugar will melt and dissolve for easy cleaning.

Enjoy my momma's recipe!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hump Day

There are weeks when you really have to celebrate the little things, like making it past Wednesday. So far this semester, if I made it to Wednesday afternoon without completely freaking out, I knew I was going to make it through the week just fine and could look forward to the weekend. Yesterday morning, I woke up and one of my first thoughts was "It's Wednesday! I can get through today and then it's downhill from here!" I was so excited to have made it halfway. And today I feel awesome! I went to bed late last night, but once I forced myself out of my warm bed and dark bedroom I have been in a great mood and am even better now that I did a RAK (Random Act of Kindness) :]
We're also over the hump of being halfway through the semester. It's incredible that I have less than 24 weeks of undergraduate coursework left. It's truly unbelievable to me. I still feel like I'm 16 sometimes-though I'm terribly grateful that that isn't the case. 16-year-old me was kind of naive and somewhat annoying when I look back at notes I passed with friends and other similar artefacts.
Anyway, congratulations on making it halfway! The rest of the week should be smooth sailing :]

Cowboy football and pumpkin carving this weekend!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


The first week of this month I was pretty focused on the fact that Thursday was the 4th. I got into my first serious relationship October 4, 2008. The very next day, my parents and I drove to Oklahoma to visit OSU for the first time. It didn't seem like such a big deal then, but looking back, if those two days were any different, my whole life right now would probably be completely altered.

Phi Mu/PIKE house dec at the greatest homecoming in the nation!
Somehow, in my crazy thought process, that gets me to living zealously. If you don't live zealously, enthusiastically, eagerly, how are you going to experience any life-altering events? If I wasn't eager to start a relationship or enthusiastic about continuing my education, it's possible that neither of the events of that October would have happened. I probably wouldn't have ended up at Oklahoma State. If I wasn't at OSU, I wouldn't have met all the amazing people here-I may have met other amazing people, but not the ones here that have become so important to me and served such a great purpose in my life. I may have gotten into a relationship, but it's doubtful it would have been very important to me. If I hadn't begun a serious relationship, I would not have ended said relationship last winter and wouldn't have had the crazy (for me) semester that I did this past spring. If that semester hadn't happened, I truly don't think that I could've been happy to be in a relationship right now. I wouldn't have had those experiences that I realized I was missing from my life during my past relationship.

At a bonfire near Yale, OK after the hoco game. I got to play a congo!
I think that if I had been unenthusiastic and very lackadaisical (I thought it was "laxadaisical,". . . Whatevs) about deciding where to go to school, I probably wouldn't have gone out of state, possibly not even out of the city I graduated high school in; I definitely wouldn't have been doing as well as I have in school. That would cause me to not get into grad school, which in turn would keep me from getting into the career that I want.

Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University
Guys, there are so many things that can go wrong and make your life different. I don't think that it could be like the Butterfly Effect-the cereal I decide to eat isn't going to change my entire life, but pretty much any decision that is bigger than that can change the course of everything.

Two very dear friends and I at last year's Bedlam game.
Be intentional with your daily life and be earnest in seeking the things that you are passionate about. If you aren't actively searching for those things, you will not get them. This is my sophisticated form of YOLO. You really do only live once-make it count.

Here's to many new Octobers and moments to make it count.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Out of Body

Have you ever taken a psychological test and had to answer a question about if you ever feel like you're out of your body or watching your life from the outside? I always thought that was a weird question until recently when I started feeling that way. Pretty much constantly. I'm just so exhausted all the time and I'll think, like I did immediately before starting to type this, that it would be nice for someone to just come do life for me for a little while until my real life starts. 

August 11; Sunrise at Trail West Lodge in Buena Vista, CO
And then I get into the whole this-is-real-life/you-write-a-blog-about-embracing-life-how-can-you-say-you-don't-want-to? kinda thing. Which makes me even more tired, but it does make me step back and think: Why are you tired? (I stayed up late and watched a movie/played games on my phone. Also, I cleaned, did homework, went to a full day of school) What can you do to change that? (Go to sleep earlier/no TV at bedtime/no phone at bedtime. Have better time management skills so I don't have to do all of that on one day) Are you thankful for what makes you tired? (For my phone and TV, sure. For getting a wonderful education at a great university? Absolutely!) Does what makes you tired glorify God? (Watching TV and playing on my phone, not so much. My career will someday glorify God because I'll be helping people...) Are you embracing feeling tired? (I let myself fall into it and go to sleep :P )

July 25; the Continental Divide
That second-to-last question really gets to me. Does X activity glorify God? And my answer of "it will in the future," bothers me a little bit. And I know in my head that I should be able to glorify God right now, not in the future where I'm out of school and have everything figured out (which would never happen anyway). That's what's really making me feel like I'm living outside my body; like I'm watching everything that I do, rather than actually partaking in it. I am so focused on the future and just getting to where I want to go that it makes it hard to be present today and live for today. And again, I know that in my head-I'm just having trouble taking that thought process and solving the issue. How do you transfer that idea from just an idea to actually feeling present and alert to what is happening right now?

March 30; Anadarko, OK sunset while at Phi Lamb retreat
I have noticed that the times when I am most susceptible to feeling like this is when I'm tired or bored. If I am fully awake (rarely happens), if I am doing something I really enjoy (a few times a week), or if I am with someone I really want to be around at that moment (rare, but not exceptionally) I don't really experience the out-of-body thing. I guess I'm just going to have to make sure to like everything that I'm doing and everyone that I'm with while I'm doing it!

March 17; View from the plane from Charlotte, NC to Orlando, FL
Other than that, the best thing that I can do for this right now is to continue to remind myself that I'm not in the future yet, and that I shouldn't wish time away. Every time I catch myself thinking that I can't wait for something to happen in the future or like I'm living outside my body, I take a moment to breath, close my eyes, and appreciate what is currently around me. Taking that moment of silence to gather myself really helps me focus on whatever I'm meant to be working on and be thankful for being tired; it allows me to take pleasure in the little things and try to soak up this last year of college till I'm the fullest sponge out there. I don't want to forget a second of this precious time in my life, and the best way to ensure the memories is to feel like I'm actually a part of them.

Not sure what date, but it was August; Rainbow from the deck of the Rayburn Room at Trail West
 Now would anyone like to go grocery shopping for me? 

No? Just leave a comment then :] I'd love to hear your input on this!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why be Zealous?

After typing that title, I definitely said (in my head) "why so serious?" like the Joker from Batman. Oh Heath Ledger-you are missed. Which actually segueys quite nicely into what I actually wanted to talk about! Good job, brain!

Yesterday morning, at 7:50, a gunshot was heard through the hallways of Stillwater Junior High (8th and 9th graders). A 13-year-old boy, Cade Poulos, killed himself in the middle of his school, witnessed by many of his classmates. 

As far as I know, there hasn't been a note found or anything like that, but I think it's still safe to say that this boy needed love. That's one of the main things I see in living zealously. It's not about being happy all the time, but knowing that there's hope when things look bleak and to be joyful in the fact that Jesus died to let you experience those feelings of despair. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full," John 10:10. "To the full" doesn't mean getting every little thing you ask for or living luxuriously-it's using the physical body you have to feel every emotion possible and experience all the things you can on this earth, and finding great joy in that. In this joy, you show people the love of Christ-his perfect, unfailing, unconditional love. You prove that even in the worst of times, you have something greater-you are not of this world because you are of the spirit. That can provide such hope to people who need it.

A facebook page was made to remember and honor Cade's life, and in reading it, I saw that a couple people did say that he took the easy/coward's way out. The truth is, when you feel despair, if you have no faith to fall back on, death definitely can feel like the only way out of whatever situation you are facing. The fact that this child felt so downhearted that he couldn't see the light anywhere just tells me that a lot more people need to be more eager in experiencing life to the full and sharing that idea with others. Find the silver lining. Look for the lesson your hardship can teach you. Love each other. Be kind. Share life. To the full. 

That's my challenge for you in the next few days/weeks/months. The holiday season seems like a perfect time for this, no? Even as the seasons change from bright and green spring and summer, to the colder, darker fall and winter, be a light. Bring warmth with you everywhere in the form of joy because He is sufficient and He makes you enough and He loves you even when you think that no one could. Take that and use it to give you strength to fully experience the abundant opportunities you have in your short time here.


P.S. I didn't know until finding those articles to show you just now that he was dressed up as Two Face from Batman for a spirit week the school was having. That makes my comment at the beginning of this post kind of creepy. I'm not enjoying that I unknowingly did that. Weird. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Love, Texas

As you read this blog/as I post more and more, you'll come to realize that I am a huge fan of my homestate. I have loved Texas ever since I knew about states and countries. And I loved it even more when I learned about how awesome of a state it is and that we have a reason to be proud. We can still secede from the US, we can fly our flag at the same height as the US flag, and if we want to, we can become 5 separate states! None of those things are really exciting or logical to be proud of, but the fact that we are the only state to have any of those rights is pretty cool.

Photo from here
Because of my affection for this great state, it comes as no surprise that I was excited to be back in Texas for a weekend. While I go to Oklahoma State University in north central Oklahoma, my boyfriend attends Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. I'm in a different state than my hometown, but it takes me less time to get there than it takes Boyfriend to get to or from school-because Texas is that big (awesome!). Anyway, I got to come visit him this weekend to see my two loves-Texas and Boyfriend :]

Senior year homecoming; best friends :]
Tech started a week after I started school for the semester, so Boyfriend drove his own car to OSU with me to finish moving me in and help get me settled for the year. Because it had been four weeks since we'd last seen each other in person and he was the last one to drive to see me, I made the six-hour trek to Lubbock last Thursday. The plan had originally been for me to come on Friday, but Boyfriend had gotten a sinus infection and sounded absolutely pitiful when we texted and facetimed. I felt really bad for him, so I changed my plans, contacted one of his roommates, and surprised him by coming a day early :] He was so in shock that I was here that he kept just touching my hand or my arm for the first couple of hours to make sure I was real. It was so sweet and made me feel appreciated for the surprise.
This is Oklahoma; who knew it could be pretty, too?
I missed Texas, and loved seeing the sun setting on my drive west. I even got to be surprised by how beautiful Oklahoma can be also! I was telling a friend that because all I ever see of OK is what you see from I-35 and what you see from 51 on the way to Tulsa, so it isn't anything impressive/different from what I see in Dallas. Going the other way shows you so much more. It was really pretty and the drive didn't seem nearly as long because I had something interesting to look at.
At my apartment in Stillwater
Since I've been here, I've met all of Boyfriend's roommates, who are all wonderful; met a couple other of his good friends, who are also awesome; and enjoyed some much needed quality time in person with my love. We've mostly been chilling on the couch with the orange blanket I mailed him a few weeks ago, taking walks to the little market up the street, and watching movies and sports with his friends. It's just what we needed to continue on the long-distance thing without going crazy, though craziness may ensue tomorrow when I have to get in my car and drive back to Stilly. We're just not going to think about that right now.

Photo by Raychel Yearsley, 2007
What did you do this weekend? I hope it was stellar :]

Photo from here

PS; I'm working on not posting so sporadically and am hoping that that makes my posts more thought out and less rough-draft-ish. Rereading this, it doesn't really even make a lot of sense at first, and that will change asap. I just get into a mood where I'm like "I have to post right now!" and then I don't write as well because I'm just trying to get it out on paper the screen before I lose my train of thought.
Anyway, enjoy your Sunday! Remember to give your loved ones a hug because I don't always get to do that with mine. :]

Friday, September 14, 2012


I had such a rough week. It was my first time observing my first client in the speech clinic on campus (I really got an adult? :[  ). It was my first week babysitting my pastor's daughter (after an already long day). I had an anxiety attack that lasted from about 7pm one night until after 2pm the next afternoon. I had my first two midterms of the semester (in two of the hardest classes of my major). It was trying and tiring. After all that, I also have my GRE in 3 days. Excuse me, what? A test that could navigate my future for me and it's on a Monday, at 8:30 in the morning, the week after the toughest week I've had in months? Ugh.

But I feel so blessed here at the end of these exhausting few days. I signed up for a mentorship program through ASHA (the American Speech-Language Hearing Association which certifies speech pathologists and audiologists). I got a card from a family I met from the time I spent in Colorado at Young Life's Trail West. And today, I got to spend time with my wonderful phamily from Sigma Phi Lambda, a Christian sorority on many campuses across the country.

Even as a senior, I still get asked how a girl from the city ended up in little Stillwater, OK and I tell them it was because of my major and because I got in on my SAT scores alone, but I know that it's because I was supposed to be here. I have been so blessed by the relationships God has put into my life since coming here and from the opportunities I've gotten that I may not have had elsewhere. I can't imagine for a moment what my college career would have been like without my littles, Laura and Karrah. They have so much wisdom and are such bright lights to everyone around them. Even on their worst days, they make me smile. They know how to be mama hens when I need one, but they also know that they can come to me for the same. Spending time with them, and the other girls in my phamily, always makes me happier and helps me to realize that there is so much joy in the world, and I've been so blessed to experience it with such awesome people. I can't wait to welcome a new baby lamb to our group this weekend and have a year to make memories with her, too!

My encouragement for you today is to go and look for the joy out there! Look at all you've been blessed with and know that it's because of the trials you've suffered-not in spite of them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hello, my name is. . .

Lauren! From  PS I Craft :]
By making PSIC, I thought I was going to start crafting more because I'd want to post what I made, but that's not what happened. I never could come up with anything cool to post, and then I'd just feel bad for having it, but not posting. It's not as gratifying for me to make something because I need to post. I love having the ability to want to make something and just dive in and go for it, without having to think about the steps I'm taking or finding a background for pictures.
Anyway, I've realized that while I'm in school, I'm not going to be able to craft very much. Plus I really don't think I'm that great at it-and won't have the time to practice until I don't have homework due and tests to study for.
I think that when you have a blog, or any public space to express yourself, you need to be passionate about it/your message, or it won't be honest. One of my biggest passions is just to share life with people; I can't do that properly if I'm worried about making sure I have all the steps of a craft photographed and that everything is perfect for publication. Life doesn't have to be perfect, it can be hard, or easy, happy or sad or angry, stressful, or carefree-and that's why it's so perfect to write about. I believe wholeheartedly that we were put on this earth to experience it to the fullest, so I attend life eagerly and look forward to feeling every part of life-the happy, sad, and angry, the stress and the ease. I cry when I need to, sometimes when I don't; I laugh when it's called for, and often when it's not. I'm excited to try new things, and shake it off when I don't enjoy them, even though I really wanted to. I know that every cloud has a silver lining, and that within each hard shell, there's a pearl to make it beautiful. So that's why I'm here-to share all of that with you.
"She attended life with her accustomed zeal."
Thanks Curly Girl for the title of my blog :]