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#DreadedDecember: Winter Cleaning Session

26 Dec

For my Dreaded December blog, I decided to do something I ABSOLUTELY HATE.

Cleaning out my wardrobe.

This is something I truly dread every time my mother tells me to clean my closet at home. I really like to hold on to things. I am a very sentimental person, and because of this nature of mine, I really never let go of things like clothes. I also hate wasting things, and since I buy most of my clothes from thrift shops, I find letting go of items that were so cheap to be difficult. I always convince myself that maybe I will end up wearing a random piece of clothing later on, or maybe someone will want to borrow my obscure band t-shirt.

The reality is, you have to remind yourself none of that will ever happen, and if you continue to make excuses, more often than not it will just create more of a mess for you later.

All of this makes cleaning out my closet a real trouble for me, and something I truly put off for as long as I can. The first step I did was take all my clothes in my closet and put them on my bed. After rummaging through everything, then I started separating clothes into piles and throwing the ‘undesirables’  on the floor. There were little piles everywhere that you couldn’t even see the floor. I had to separate everything once my bed was completely filled.

I had piles for my pants. Piles for my shirts. For my dresses. For my shoes. There were so many piles I was starting to lose track.

Once I had separated everything, I had to try on some things I wasn’t sure about, and this is what took the longest and was honestly the most painful. Regardless I trudged on and kept going since I was so close.

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Clothes were flying left and right as I was trying things on, and I guess you don’t realize how much you’ve grown until you see clothes from 4 years ago buried in your drawers. Regardless, the whole process took less than two hours, which surprisingly isn’t that much time.

After I had gathered a nice-sized clothes monster at the end of this process, I placed everything in a plastic bag and now I am off to sell these clothes at Buffalo and make a nice little chunk of change for myself. I try my best to hold on to clothes and to only shop and trade clothes to reduce waste, and this is truly a necessity if I want to continue this process. It would have been fun to go through my clothes with a friend since I am letting my friends go through them and pick what they want before I try and sell/donate my clothes. I will have to remember for last time. Nonetheless, this was a great exercise in organization and determination, and I highly recommend doing this at least twice a year!

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Make sure to clean out your closet every once in awhile, you might be surprised by what you find 🙂

~Mandi

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Top 20 Movies to Watch Over The Summer

10 Jun

 

Shannon’s Picks                                                              Chrissy’s Picks

Action:  

 The Bourne Identity                                                          Dracula Untold

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Adventure:

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows                       Bridge to Terabithia

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Animation:

How to Train Your Dragon                                            Lion King

drag

Comedy:

The Hangover                                                                    The Intern

hang

Drama:

Cast Away                                                                            Sense and Sensibility

cast

Family:

The Sandlot                                                                         Howl’s Moving Castle

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Fantasy:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey                           Harry Potter

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Horror:

The Shining                                                                         Shrooms

shin

Romantic Comedy:

The Wedding Singer                                                         The Ugly Truth

rom

Science Fiction:

iRobot                                                                                    Blade Runner

rob

Chrissy’s Summer Reading List

10 Jun

Summertime,  the most relaxing word a college student can hear, say, or think. Summertime opens up a plethora of opportunities that are not available during the school year: sleeping until 1pm, going on random road trips, and of course reading fun books. I don’t know about y’all, but I find that during the school year I am way too busy reading the various assigned readings to  actually get any fun reading done! So, I made a list during the school year of all the books I would like to read during them summer and I am now steadily working my way through them! Here are my top 10 books that I would like to have read by the end of the summer. I included short summaries of the books that I found on the publishers’ websites.

Please note that most of these contain adult themes and violence. Please read at your own discretion. 

10. Ella Enchanted: Gail Carson Levine

How can a fairy’s blessing be such a curse?

At her birth, Ella of Frell was given a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it’s hopping on one foot for a day or chopping off her own head!

But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. She goes on a quest, encountering ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, fairy godmothers, and handsome princes, determined to break the curse—and live happily ever after.

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9. Dracula: Bram Stoker

During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire.  Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.

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8. The Blood of Flowers: Anita Amirrezvani

Both a sweeping love story and a luminous portrait of a city, The Blood of Flowers is the mesmerizing historical novel of an ill-fated young woman whose gift as a rug designer transforms her life. Illuminated with glorious detail of Persian rug-making, and brilliantly bringing to life the sights sounds and life of 17th-century Isfahan, The Blood of Flowers has captured readers’ imaginations everywhere as a timeless tale of one woman’s struggle to live a life of her choosing.

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7. The Iliad: Homer

Dating to the ninth century B.C., Homer’s timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods wrestling with towering emotions and battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves inexorably to the wrenching, tragic conclusion of the Trojan War. Renowned classicist Bernard Knox observes in his superb introduction that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it coexists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace

The iliad

6. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time.
By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans.
Emigrées to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn’t want to be identified, they just blended in.
Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.

Do androids dream of electric sheep

5. 13 Reasons Why: Jay Asher

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

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4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

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3. Brave New World: Aldous Huxley

The astonishing novel Brave New World, originally published in 1932, presents Aldous Huxley’s vision of the future- of a world utterly transformed. Through the most efficient scientific and psychological engineering, people are genetically designed to be passive and therefore consistently useful to the ruling class. This powerful work of speculative fiction sheds a blazing critical light on the present and is considered to be Huxley’s most enduring masterpieces.

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2. The Other Boleyn Girl: Philipa Gregory

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

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1. Poison Study: Maria V. Snyder

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dusté and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear—.

Poison study.jpg

Vacation vs. Staycation

12 May

Every summer I am met with the same struggle, should I spend a ton of money going on a vacation and having fun with my friends, or should I stay at home and work. Let’s be honest, usually I stay home. Not only do I not have the money to go on vacations, but vacations, at least mine, tend to be more trouble than they are worth.

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It doesn’t matter who I go with, whether family or friends, there is always so much drama that I would not have had to deal with if I had stayed home! I don’t know what it is about vacations, but they tend to bring out the worst in people. This year though, I have decided to brave the dreaded vacation, but only for a weekend. I am going to go to California for 3 days with a few friends, and hopefully it won’t be a huge mistake.

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Usually though, I have a staycation. For those of you who do not know, a staycation is a vacation you take without going anywhere. I tend to be a bit more strict with my staycations than most, I don’t allow myself to use social media, I do not watch T.V. shows that are currently on; instead I re-watch classic movies, I get caught up on books, and I sleep and sleep and sleep. Now, my staycation only lasts about a week because I take summer courses and work, but for that one glorious week I have no worries and no one can bother me. I am not trying to say that you have to do your staycation the same way I do, that’s the beauty of the staycation, it differs for every individual!

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The rest of my summer is usually spent working and taking classes which for some is not relaxing, but having the same routine I have during the school year is quite nice for me. I tend to take online classes so I can do my homework by the pool or while watching A League of their Own for the thousandth time, and work tends to be a bit more relaxed in the summer, so in the end I do have a nice relaxing summer.

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Now, whether you choose to vacation with family or stay at home and relax there, just make sure you do relax a little bit this summer. Students really do need the time to reenergize themselves.

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-Christine

#FearlessFebruary: Filing Fears

29 Feb

This month, I did something just about every adult in North America does this time of year: taxes. While this might seem to be a mundane task, it was quite frightening for me, as it is for many first time filers. Now that I have filed though, I see that it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be and I started wondering where the stigmas and fears come from.

Part of the fear stems from the fact that this is something “adults” do. While I am over the age of 18, it has not seemed to hit me yet that I am considered an adult. I am still in school and doing many of the same things I was doing when I was underage; as a result, I have not yet fully transitioned into “adult mode”.

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Another part of the fear comes from the stigma that filing taxes is hard and takes a long time. Growing up, at least for me, February-April was a time of stress and anxiety. My parents would pour over every receipt looking for ways to get more money back, and as a result they noticed all the frivolous money they had spent over the year and the tension in the house was high. Luckily for me, I keep a pretty good track of what I spend, and the actual filing was fairly easy because I used an online program. I filed mine within two hours, which considering I had no clue what I was doing, it went pretty fast.

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The final fear people have when filing their taxes is that they will mess up and they will owe money or be accused of fraud (or at least this was my fear). In the end though as I said before, filing was fairly simple and while you may end up owing some money, every case is different, at least you’ll know that you passed this large milestone.

Taxes Blog 4

-Chrissy Ellis

New Year, New Me?

21 Feb

Starting Spring semester is always a wake up call for me. I am not sure why, but I am never as motivated in Spring as I am in the Fall. This Spring semester seems to be the worst one of all because I am taking a lot of units and I have my annual laziness epidemic going on. Personally, I think I, and students in general, have a harder time staying focused in Spring because the weather gets better, and everyone wants to be outside. Regardless of the causes, what I need to do this Spring is to get myself organized and set up personal goals.

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The most important aspect of a goal is that it is achievable, so while it is nice to think that I can take 21 units and work 20 hours a week, this is really not possible for me. So, my first goal is to work enough to keep me busy, but not so many as to overwhelm myself. I have actually already achieved this goal, I found that working 13 hours a week is best for my current schedule.

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My next goal for the semester is to study on the weekends. Often, I have the mindset that the weekend is my time to relax from school, and while I might not have to go to school, I can still do school work. Doing work on the weekend will make my daily work less stressful and help me stay more motivated.

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My last goal for the semester is to socialize a bit more. I am not sure how it has happened, but since I have come to college, I have become a recluse. It doesn’t matter if it is just hanging with friends at my apartment, having any kind of social interaction will help me not procrastinate as much.

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Look, I know motivation in the Spring semester is hard to come by, but if you make goals for yourself, we will find a way to get through it together!

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-Chrissy

#JumpStartJanuary: Organizational Tools Galore

29 Jan

There are a lot of different ways people organize their life. As a college student, finding the way that works best for you can be quite challenging, but it is essential to college success. I am going to go over a few different kinds of organizational tools and how they could potentially be used.

The Planner

  • This is one of the most commonly used organizational tools in college. Students go through and write down assignments that are due each day. Ideally, the student will carry it with them everyday and add to it as more assignments get added. This tool is great for students that are on the go; it allows them to double check assignment due dates on the drop of a hat.

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The Post-It Notes

  • These tools are less common. Many times students will use these to make lists. This is more of a short term tool, meaning most students will use them for day to day lists, but they will not have their entire semester planned out on one. This tool is useful for a student trying to stay focused. Having a to-do list right on their desk often helps students remember what they need to do immediately.

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The White Board/ Mirror

  • Much like the Post-It Note, the white board is often used for lists, but on a much bigger scale. Obviously, there is a lot more room on a white board or mirror compared to that of a Post-It. Often times students will utilize this tool when they have large projects, or many assignments in various classes. This helps organize assignments into a bigger picture.

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The Teacher’s Calendar

  • Personally, I find this tool to be the most useful. I have used a teacher’s calendar every year I have been at school and it has helped me tremendously. The teacher’s calendar or desk calendar as some refer to it is a larger than normal calendar that one can hang up on the wall or put on their desk. Many times, students will go through their syllabus and write down important dates (such as exams), assignments (including but not limited to readings and essays) and note important dates for the class. Using this tool can be helpful because it allows students to see upcoming assignments well in advance and can aid in planning for projects.

Calendar final

The Carrier

  • While this might sound like a contagious disease, the carrier is actually just a name for a person who carries (get it?) around their syllabus to their classes. While most people don’t use this tool, those that do have an added benefit of always having access to assignments. Most people do not carry physical copies of their syllabus to class, instead they have them saved on their phone or other electronic devices.

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Now, of course these are only a few of the many many many different kinds of tools that students use to become more organized. While I strongly promote the use of a calendar, that might not be the best tool for you, but it is important to find what does work and to utilize it; there is no point in having a planner if it sits at home collecting dust. So go out there and get organized!

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-Chrissy Ellis

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.

#NovembertoRemember: Birthday Bliss

30 Nov

Picking an event in November was possibly the easiest thing I had to do this month because it was my 21st BIRTHDAY!!! 

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My actual birthday was on Thanksgiving, so I spent the day with family. So I did not have to cook, we went out to eat and afterwards we went back home and watched one of my favorite movies: An American Tale.Birthday Celebration 4

The following day I made my birthday cake (carrot) and I went to Glendale Glitters with a few of my friends. Afterwards we played pool and sang karaoke. It was a lot of fun spending time with them since I hardly get to see my friends from Phoenix.

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I spent the next two days having fun at a hotel with a few friends. I know this does not sound like a lot of fun, but it definitely was. We started off with grabbing dinner at the restaurant in the hotel, and then we went swimming in the indoor pool. We stayed up all night watching movies and talking, and then the next day we played bingo.

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Overall my 21st birthday was awesome, it was made even better by spending it with those that mean the most to me.

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-Chrissy

Searching For A Spark In The Dark

17 Jul

Though we may be more than halfway through the summer, it’s never too late to be productive! I know from personal experience, the word productive can often be related to a negative connotation (i.e. essays, projects, studying) but I would like to propose some ways that are far less scary to think about.

1) Transform your bedroom into a blissful place that you’ll never want to leave. During my first summer after moving into my apartment, I wanted to “nest.” I really wanted to get comfortable in my new environment (and yes, I get funny looks from my friends whenever I use this term). Though I did splurge on a mattress pad from Target, I was pretty thrifty when it came to the actual decorating. I gathered magazines, some painter’s tape, and went to town! I did something very similar in my dorm during freshman year…

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2) Make playlists/burn CDs for yourself and friends. Okay, I know this one is a little old school but it’s a great way to rediscover old music on your iTunes and share your music taste with others. I have done this several times with my friends, boyfriend, and even his siblings! Yes, I have actually succeeded in spreading my love of Korean Pop and Japanese Rock. Though these particular genres may be a little out there, it’s incredibly addicting. If you’re at all considering checking it out, may I suggest EXO and ONE OK ROCK 🙂

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3) Be crafty with crafts! *buh dum tsss* It’s so relaxing! If you don’t have any access to markers or glue, may I suggest learning some origami? While I was living in a dorm, I also learned how to fold paper cranes (and other animals but I had the most fun with the cranes). Since I also had some extra thread, I decided to attach each of them to our ceiling so it appeared as if they were “flying”. And it actually turned out looking really cool, so I did it again in my apartment.

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I hope you take my suggestions into consideration, you won’t regret it!

Enjoy the rest of your summer 🙂

Best, Casey