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#AdventurousApril: Brunch Time

19 Apr

One of the great things that I love about living downtown is that I have easy access to a lot of amazing restaurants. Living on a college student budget means that I don’t get to go to these nice restaurants very often, which means that I get ridiculously excited when I do have the time and money to go.

I had never been to brunch before. Sure, I’ve gone out to breakfast and I’ve gone out to lunch, but never brunch. One of the reasons is because I’m very picky about when I eat eggs and the foods I combine eggs with. This month, I was feeling super adventurous and so found a place to have brunch. My roommate and I were up early last Sunday morning, and we hadn’t been grocery shopping in a while, so our food options were limited. I turned to my roommate and said “Why don’t we go out for brunch?” This surprised her, but she didn’t want to let the opportunity pass and happily agreed to accompany me to brunch.

We went online and search for good, reasonably priced, convenient places to go for brunch and we found Nook. The restaurant was within walking distance and their menu looked bomb. We got dressed quickly and headed out. It was quite the journey getting there because we weren’t exactly sure where it was. We walked and walked until finally we found it. We chose to sit at the breakfast bar so that we didn’t have to wait, and it was the best decision ever.

I love cooking shows and basically anything food related. I love to cook and try new things. When we sat down, I looked over to my left to see another guest receive her food and I immediately knew that I wanted the same. It was a beautiful platter of eggs, potatoes, and steak. It smelled like heaven. When it was my turn to order, I asked for a lemonade and the steak platter. While we waited for our food, we watched the chefs skillfully construct all these decadent dishes and talked about graduation. The lemonade was perfect. It was just sweet enough and not too sour. My food was to die for. It was perfectly cooked and deliciously seasoned. This was my first time having brunch and I cant wait to go back. The next time someone wants to go out for brunch, I’m recommending the Nook.

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Worst Moment Ever

15 Apr

It was the Spring Semester of my first year at the U of A and I felt like registration was going to be a breeze. Registering for my Spring courses had been easy. I orchestrated a nice schedule for myself, got up early with my roommate, clicked the finish enrollment button and within minutes I had all the classes I needed.Unfortunately I was wrong. This would be the worst registration experience of undergraduate career.

I woke up early, put on my glasses, washed my face, brushed my teeth, grabbed my laptop and walked downstairs to the common room with my roommate. We both grabbed donuts and hot chocolate and settled in at a nice table. I logged into UAccess and pulled up my shopping cart. I had 5 minutes to spare, so I ate my donut and sipped my hot chocolate. At 5:59am I refreshed my page. At 6:00am I pressed finished enrollment. At 6:03am I was redirected to a page and was blocked from enrolling. At 6:10am I had logged in on 3 different devices and tried to finish enrolling countless times. By 6:15am my R.A. was helping me figure out why I wasn’t able to enroll. Turns out I was already considered a sophomore because of all the Advanced Placement Credit I had come in with and all the units I had already completed. I was devastated.

Missing my enrollment period was the worst thing that could happen to me in that moment. Being a science major, there was a very specific order I needed to take my classes in, and it also meant that many of my classes were in high demand, making the whole situation even worse because of the competition for seats in my classes. I felt stupid and dumbfounded because I thought I had everything under control. I thought I could do it all on my own. I didn’t really have anyone in a position of authority I felt comfortable approaching to ask questions. I planned to have my advisor meeting after I had registered so that we could just double check things. I didn’t know that I would actually need help. I was also a little angry because I didn’t even know where to look to find out what was wrong. I felt under prepared and disappointed.

Thankfully, I was able to scramble around and pull things together over the next few months so that in the Fall, I had all the classes I needed. I would check UAccess multiple times a day to see if the classes I needed opened up, and I was fortunate enough to make the cut at the last minute. My schedule was not sexy at all. There were 8ams and art history classes and nothing was convenient or easy, but I learned how to push myself and to stay focused on what matters most. I do not recommend missing your enrollment period at all, it is hectic and just awful. All I can say is that I made it through, and I never messed up on registration ever again.

#MiddlingMarch: Spring Cleaning

30 Mar

Spring has always been a great time for me. It is when I am the most inspired, motivated, and driven. What gives me the most trouble during spring is Spring Break. Spring Break is both a blessing and a curse because it is just the vacation you’ve been begging for but also a very good way to kill your motivation. Most people either come back from spring break highly motivated, or completely over school. To remain a part of the first group, I went ahead and pushed myself to stay productive over break.

This Spring Break I did a little spring cleaning. I love the idea of spring cleaning-getting rid of all the dirtiness in your life, getting rid of clutter, and starting new. Not only did I do some literal cleaning, but also some mental and emotional tidying. I am a pretty clean person to begin with, I take out the trash often, I do laundry once a week, I put things away after I use them, I do dishes, and I don’t like clutter so everything has a place. Even though I am clean, deep cleaning is something I don’t get a chance to do often. Over spring break I reorganized my closet, recycled old papers, packed up a lot of my winter clothes, and changed out some artwork. I also took advantage of being alone in the apartment by cleaning the common area. The living room needed a lot of work, so I took care of it and rearranged things a bit. The act of cleaning is very therapeutic for me. Its a great way to give my brain a rest while I do manual work, or it gives me the time to day dream and problem solve. My friends laugh at me when I tell them I enjoy cleaning sometimes, but it works for me.

The most important part of my spring cleaning was the emotional aspect. Before spring break I decided to end a relationship I was in. Things were okay, and I really liked the person I was with, it just wasn’t great. I needed more. More attention, more time, more communication. I knew that it wasn’t working for me because it felt like I was always making the effort by myself. Its really terrible when you have to end things because you want more than your partner can give you, but sometimes its the best thing you can do. I took the time spring break gave me and reevaluated what I want and mourned what was. Sometimes we need to take the time and sit with feelings. Dealing with things can be painful but necessary. Now I am refocused on finishing out the semester strong and taking steps to be happy.

Spring Cleaning

7 Mar

Spring is supposed to be a time for new beginnings. This is why we have Spring Cleaning- so we can clean up our lives and get rid of all the icky stuff. Sometimes this means letting go of bad relationships and bad habits.

Spring has always been a time of productivity for me. I usually take on multiple projects and really hit my stride. The spring semester of my junior year was the first time I truly embrace the idea of spring cleaning, and tried something new for myself.

During the fall semester of my Junior year, I had a falling out with my roommate, who happened to be my best friend, it was my first semester working, and it was just a difficult time for me. When spring finally arrived, I was motivated to make a change for myself and focus on my personal growth. I decided to stop holding on to all the hurt my ex-bestfriend had caused, I chose to get more involved at work, and I stayed on top of all my classes. Doing this was difficult. Hitting a bad patch in life is extremely hard because it taints all areas of your life. I had never felt more alone than I did during the fall semester my junior year, but as I started to focus on work and classes my loneliness started to dissipate. I made new friends from class and work, I felt productive as my grades started to improve, and I started to appreciate myself more.

Trying new things can be stressful and may seem unrewarding at first, but stick it out and things will get better. I needed time to focus on myself and replenish my supply of inner peace. I am much better off now because I took the time to check in with myself and reorganize my priorities. It is now my the spring semester of my senior year and the good habits I created a year ago are still paying off. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and make changes. You deserve to be appreciated and cared for, and it’s okay to take the time to appreciate and care for yourself. Always keep fighting, and embrace spring cleaning.

-Erika

#FearlessFebruary: Awkward Conversations

1 Mar

Sometimes relationships get tough, and that’s when things get awkward. I have been living with my roommates for 6 months now, and a constant aggravation has been their cleaning habits. One of my roommates doesn’t use our common space, except to cook her meals. This wouldn’t be a problem if she didn’t take my dishes to her room and leave them there for months on end. My other roommate is the opposite. She uses the common space more than anyone, is messier than all of us, and doesn’t clean unless I pester her for a week.

This is the 6 month point in our relationships and I am fed up with it all. In handling my issues with my first roommate, I have gotten my dishes back and decided to try and nurture a more amiable relationship with her by doing things together.

My second roommate proven to be much more difficult to talk to. It doesn’t help that I have been sick and overly emotional as of late. My issues with this roommate run much deeper, as we have become close friends. Over the last month I have realized that our friendship is very uneven. I drop everything to help her when she is in need, yet she can’t find the time to keep her word and follow through with the favors I ask of her, like bringing me medicine when I’m in the middle of having food poisoning. I am tired of cleaning up after her and limiting my time in my own apartment because I don’t want to be around the mess. Its unfair to me and it needs to stop.

At this point in our conflict, she is staying at her boyfriend’s house until we can find a time to discuss things. My plan of action is to write her a letter detailing all the things that are bothering me that way we can talk things through. I plan on waiting until I feel better so that I can approach things calmly and with a clear head. Tackling awkward conversations can be painful, but we have already taken the first step by admitting that things are broken.

 

10 Random Facts You Need To Know About Codi

12 Feb
 
  1. Her favorite movie is Gone With The Wind, and she would love to play Scarlett O’Hara in a remake of the film.
  2. Her tongue can touch her nose.
  3. Her dream in life is to own a yacht and sail from California to Argentina and then to Australia.
  4. She just met Erika Lerma over the summer, even though everyone thinks they met years ago.
  5. Her dream job is to manage a hospital and contribute to cancer and diabetes research to find a cure!
  6. Codi once was dared to jump out of the back of a truck, she was only 13 and she did it! This certainly proves that she does not back down from a challenge.
  7. Codi is so beloved that she even has a goat named after her that currently resides in Phoenix, his name is Codi Jr.
  8. At the age of 11 Codi traveled to Australia and while she was there she got to hold a Koala and baby alligator!
  9. Codi got feathers in her hair to attend a Ke$ha concert.
  10. Codi was prom and homecoming queen at her high school.

#JumpStartJanuary: Baking Is Life

1 Feb

I didn’t choose the baking life, the baking life chose me. Baking is one of my most delicious hobbies. It helps me get out of my head and work with my hands, which is a tremendous stress reliever. I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions but this year I decided to push myself to learn at least 1 new recipe per month.

Since it is Jump Start January, I decided to get started early and choose my first recipe. My first recipe of the year was Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. A friend of mine requested this specific type of cookie, and because I don’t often eat what I bake, it was perfect to know that the cookies would not go to waste.

I found a quick and easy recipe online that outlined everything from ingredients, to prep time, and baking time. I did not have most of the ingredients, but thankfully I was heading to the grocery store that day. I was a little nervous to try the recipe because I had never worked with brown sugar or oatmeal as my main ingredients. I was very strategic about my baking process because I wanted to make sure that the cookies came out correctly. The one hiccup I had was when I wasn’t sure how fluffy my wet mixture was supposed to be before I added the dry ingredients. After paying close attention to what the mixture did as it sat for a few minutes, I realized what level it should rise to and I moved forward. I did a little experimenting with baking times so that I could figure out how to cook them properly in my oven. I found that they needed to be cooked a few minutes longer than the recipe called for.

I am happy to report that my cookies were a hit. They were crispy around the edges and soft and chewy in the middle. The recipe made around 24 cookies or more, but they were devoured in less than 2 days amongst 4 people. I plan on keeping the momentum going by learning how to make apple pie in February.

Erika

Fitting In Is Hard

22 Jan

As an introvert, it has always been a struggle for me to push myself outside my comfort zone and connect with others. By the time I was a high school senior, getting involved was no problem. I had walked down the same halls for 4 years and it was clear where I fit. Coming to college was like facing high school all over again, only the stakes were much higher. I was scared, confused, and alone.

Being the over-thinker that I am, I saw how difficult it would be to make friends and get involved so I joined a leadership club to help get started. The Blue Chip Leadership Program became my jumping off point. I lived in the learning community my first year and met lots of nice, intelligent, kind individuals. Blue Chip was great for my first year because it taught me a lot about myself and how I work best. My sophomore year in the program proved to be more difficult. Living off campus led me to feel less connected to campus and my friends.  It soon became clear that although I had learned so much from Blue Chip, and I enjoyed myself, it was no longer the right fit for me.

Junior year was my year. Blue Chip had given me enough experience and confidence to try something new-getting a job. I applied to be an ASA Peer Mentor in the Spring of my Sophomore year, and began my position in the fall of my junior year. Working for ASA was one of the best things that happened to me while here at the U of A. It pushed me to be creative and challenge myself to be better. It allowed to move on from my past mistakes by helping first year students navigate their way through college, and it became my home away from home. It took me 2 full years in college to finally find where I not only fit in, but flourish.

Looking beyond your comfort zone and finding your own path can be extremely difficult. It is okay to be lost and afraid, but it is not okay to give up. Try new things and make changes along the way. I knew Blue Chip wasn’t where I fit in best, but I took every opportunity to learn from my experiences there. I know myself as well as I do now because of Blue Chip. So remember to always keep fighting, because one day you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Erika

#DreadedDecember: Full Car

23 Dec

After pushing through to the end of the semester, it is always nice to take a breather and enjoy the peace. This usually only lasts a few days before I am thrown into panic mode, trying to gather all my things to go home for the holidays. This year has been the most hectic year of all because not only do I have to clean and pack my things, I have to prepare my lovely guinea pigs and our new dog for the journey.

I love our animals, but getting them ready for travel is exhausting. I have to clean the guinea pigs cage and bathe them-which is even more difficult than bathing the dog. Then their food needs to be package properly, no one wants guinea pig food pooled at bottom of their suitcase, their toys and snacks need to be packed, and their blankets need to be washed, folded and packed as well. This process takes about 2 hours to complete by myself. Thankfully, I have a cage already set up back home for them, so I don’t have to deconstruct the one they use now. Traveling with the guinea pigs is usually easy. They don’t really fuss and they sleep most of the way, the dog is a whole different story.

This is the first year I will be taking the dog home with me. Her name is Kittie and she is a big dog, and big dogs need lots of supplies. Kittie needs to be bathed, fed, and walked right before travelling. Feeding her and walking her takes about 1.5 hours, which means that it needs to be done right before we leave-making things extra stressful.  Kittie has a lot of needs, which means that I have to haul her 30 pound bag of dog food, treats, toys, dog bed, booties, and teddie along for the ride. Packing all of her stuff (while she follows me around the house) will probably take another hour by itself. Kittie has traveled from Tucson to Phoenix before and she doesn’t get car sick, which is nice. My only concern is that she won’t want to get in the car next to the guinea pigs because they scare her.

As for myself, I have tons of laundry and cleaning to do before I can even pack. I am the only person in our apartment right now willing to clean, which means that it is up to me to make the place look decent before my mom arrives to get us. This is frustrating and unfair, but the cleaning needs to be done. I am so grateful that my mom is coming to get us, because I can just sleep on the way home. I have a lot to do before I leave, and it looks like I should really get started….like now.

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Erika

Holiday Gifts in a Jar

18 Dec

Finals are over! Now it is time to get to those pesky holiday gifts you’ve been putting off. Mason jar gifts are fun, easy, inexpensive, and really trendy right now. Go ahead and give these sweet holiday gift recipes a try.

Hot Chocolate Mix

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Hot Chocolate is the perfect treat for cold weather. Aside from the ingredients, all that is required are a pint wide-mouth mason jar, some ribbon and an instructions card-which can easily be hand written or printed.
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons powdered creamer
  • 6 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons candy canes, chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup mini marshmallows
Instructions

Pour in the powdered creamer, then powdered milk, followed by the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Feel free to pack down the ingredients with a spoon or other tool. Then add the toppings. The picture shows chocolate chips, candy canes and mini marshmallows filling the additional space in the jar.  Lastly, just add the lid and a recipe tag.

Here are the instructions for brewing the hot chocolate: Remove the marshmallows from the top of the jar and mix the remaining ingredients together. Add ½ cup of the mix to 1 cup of boiling water in a mug and stir until completely combined. Top with marshmallows and enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Homemade cookies are the best, and way more impressive, but they can also be draining for people who are always on the go. Give your friends and family the gift of delicious, fast, and easy homemade cookies.

Ingredients for a one-quart jar:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cups of white sugar
  • 3/4 cups of (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and pour into your mason jar. Pack down with a spoon or fingers. Repeat with the white sugar, followed by the brown sugar-packing down each layer. Lastly, add the chocolate chips, seal the jar, and add a tag.

Instructions for the tag:

Preheat oven to 375. Remove the chocolate chips and set them aside. Beat 3/4 cup of softened butter, 1 large egg, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Add the cookie mix and mix until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and drop rounded dough onto pan. Cook for 9-11 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Peppermint Brownies 

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Who doesn’t love brownies? Check out this holiday inspired peppermint brownie mix below.

Ingredients

  • 1 and 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup Andes peppermint baking chips
  • Additional ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Layer granulated sugar, cocoa powder (wipe the inside of the jar after the cocoa layer), then flour mixture. Add baking ships and chocolate chips on top.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 13×9-inch pan. Mix brownie mix with wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Spread into prepared baking pan. Bake for 18-25 minutes.

Hopefully these recipes have inspired you to get on the ball and try some fun and easy gifts. Happy Holidays.