I am an incredibly organized person who writes checklists and to-do lists and uses entirely too many Post-It notes, checks her email every ten minutes and can’t go anywhere without her planner. Nothing against organization, but it gets old after a while. I have a hard time breaking away from my routine and doing last-minute, random or spontaneous things. However, I know they are good for me and they certainly are enjoyable. I made a New Year’s resolution to be more spontaneous and so far it has been working nicely.
Last weekend, I was talking to some friends about how awesome my home state of Wisconsin is. While bragging about the cows and the cheese and the amazing frozen custard, I decided that a visit to Dairy Land was in order.
We hopped in the car and drove due north, stopping at the infamous Mars Cheese Castle to pick up some fresh cheese curds (delicious). Then we went to Oscar’s for some frozen custard (mint chocolate chip). On our way back, we stopped at Pick ‘n Save to pick up some kringle (a Danish pastry—think thin, fruit-filled croissant).
A great night was had by all and I enjoyed a refreshing break from my routine.
Give spontaneity a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Sometimes I get tired of being an adult. With all the internal and external pressure to be mature and responsible, sometimes the simplest things are the most relaxing. The other day I made myself a good old peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and munched on Goldfish crackers and baby carrots. It made me feel like a little kid again, if only for a moment. I still enjoy coloring with crayons and playing with playdough and sometimes all I want to do is put on my pajamas and watch Disney movies.
As the semester begins, I miss the simplicity of winter break—goofing off with my family, visiting friends and watching entirely too much TV. Now the real work is about to start and I am excited and a little scared.
I attended a leadership conference at Dominican today and it really helped motivate and energize me for the semester ahead. One of the sessions was about balancing obligations, schoolwork, sleep, work and all the other things college students cram into their busy schedules. We concluded that there is enough time in a week to get everything done; it just depends on how we prioritize our tasks.
Academics are at the top of my priority list, followed by work and meetings. For me, sleep is a big priority because I get cranky if I don’t get enough. Exercising and eating well are also very important because they help me stay healthy and energized for the long days of working and studying. Family time, social events and alone time usually fall to the bottom of the list but they are also very important. We all need time to relax and de-stress and simple things like dinner with a friend or watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother are a welcome break from a hectic schedule. It is important to take time away from obligations and spend time doing something we want to do amidst all the things we have to do.
College is a wonderful time of exploring and discovering academic things and also personal things. I learn something new about myself every day. Something I learned recently is that simple things make me happy. Whether that means talking with a friend or taking “me time” to read a book, it is important to spend time apart from my routine and re-energize myself for the day ahead. Whether or not this involves pre-school level craft projects is entirely up to me.
When I toured Dominican, I immediately fell in love with the people, the architecture, the location and everything else there is to love about this place. But what really sold me were the kitchens.
I love cooking and hope to make a career out of it someday. When Judy Beto, then head of the nutrition department, gave us a tour of the beautiful Parmer kitchens, I imagined myself creating beautiful works of culinary art to impress my friends and family. I was thrilled that the nutrition program involves hands-on kitchen experience and, as a budding chef, I knew I would feel right at home.
I am now half way through my second year in the nutrition program and I love it. Nutrition students take three “kitchen” classes—Fundamentals of Foods, Quantity Foods and Experimental Foods. I took Fundamentals of Foods last year and we did a lot of sensory work, food tasting and basic food preparation. We made and sampled everything from lamb chops to peach fritters. At the end of the semester we took a field trip to the Institute of Food Technologists convention in Rosemont, where we sampled the newest and craziest food products on the market like pear and sea salt caramels and spearmint flavored potato chips.
Experimental Foods involves designing and creating a food product with a specific health emphasis, such as a high-fiber granola bar. Students work throughout the semester to fine-tune their product and then create a packaging and present it at the end-of-semester showcase. I am very excited to take this class next semester and develop a product of my own.
I am in Quantity Foods this semester, which continues the 50 year tradition of Dominican’s Recipe Box Café . Every week, the class prepares a gourmet, three course meal with a specific health emphasis. The meal is open to students, faculty, staff, friends, family and the local community. Usually between 40 and 60 patrons attend these delicious meals, many of them returning week after week.
Every week there are one or two managers who design, plan and oversee the meal. Last week my classmate Gabby and I managed the meal. We wanted to include a variety of fruits and vegetables and explained to the patrons how it important to “eat a rainbow”.
Our menu consisted of a beet and orange salad, baked fish on top of risotto with red pepper sauce, and berry panna cotta for dessert.
Serving 62 people three courses of food is not an easy feat but, with the help of our wonderful classmates, everything went very smoothly. It was a dream come true for me, who felt like a real chef for the night. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I was looking forward to Thanksgiving break with eager anticipation, counting the days until I could go home and see my family. After weeks of tiresome patience, the day finally arrived. I packed my bags and drove north to the tiny, rural Wisconsin town I call home.
I have lived in Wisconsin my entire life and feel deeply connected to the cheese-loving, Green Bay Packer-fanatic, ice-fishing and deer-hunting state. If you’ve never tried real, fresh cheese curds, you seriously should. They are marvelous and really do squeak! My hometown is so small they don’t bother counting its inhabitants. The cornfield-turned-subdivision is sandwiched between farms and cow pastures, surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills. The closest big-name store is a 20 minute drive. The closest large city is an hour in either direction.
Needless to say, big cities overwhelm me. Before coming to Dominican, I had never used public transportation and rarely been in a city larger than Milwaukee. I was not used to navigating large crowds and lacked any semblance of map-reading skills. However, I had no idea how much I would love living so close to Chicago. Dominican is in a great location, nestled in a charming neighborhood just blocks from the fairly substantial village of Oak Park and a short Green Line ride from the city.
Although I have inserted my CTA transit card backwards more times than I care to admit and I can’t seem to maintain my balance on the ‘L’, I am getting better. I go downtown whenever I get the chance and enjoy exploring new parts of the city. I have seen Broadway plays, walked the lakefront, visited Navy Pier several times and eaten dim sum in Chinatown just to name a few. On my bucket list for the winter: the Willis Tower Skydeck, Christkindlmarket and ice skating in Millennium Park.
As I schlepped my stuff back to school after a wonderful week at home, I was sad to say goodbye to my home and family. At the same time, I was happy to return to my second home—an exciting place full of wonderful opportunities, great friends and good times.
It’s hard to find a word suitable to describe this day. Nice…beautiful…lovely…none of these really do the day justice. Today deserves a special word. Glorious.
I have to admit, I was more than skeptical when the weather report said it was supposed to be 75 degrees today. But, as any Midwesterner knows, the weather loves surprising people. After a good two weeks of low to mid fifties and two entire days of rain and gloom, today’s Indian summer is just as welcome as it is random.
Dominican’s campus was alive with activity. I was thrilled to see many students taking advantage of the weather. Shorts were pulled from the depths of drawers and donned with eagerness. Students were sprawled out in the quad, strumming their guitars and having impromptu jam sessions with their friends. Students lined the many benches across campus, previously chronically unoccupied. Everyone seemed extra industrious and thrilled with life.
Days like these make me unbearably happy. I donned my whitest skirt and my reddest sweater and practically skipped to class, a giant smile on my face. We flung the windows open in German class and breathed in great gusts of fresh, warm fall air. I plucked a few flowers from the flower beds—probably not a habit I should get in to, lest the grounds keepers find out, but I could not resist.
Today I was reminded of the phrase “carpe diem” which is Latin for “seize the day”. To me, it is virtually impossible not to carpe diem on a day like today—a day when the campus is alive with a flurry of activity, the sun is shining with beautiful intensity and it is literally the perfect temperature. It’s much harder to seize the day on a day like yesterday, for example, when the rain and clouds seemed to depress everyone’s mood (or mine, at least). As far as I’m concerned, this is just fine. After all, if we didn’t have gloomy days we would never be able to appreciate the glorious ones.
Studying hard for an exam or passing a test or volunteering your time—these are all ways to seize a day (even a rainy one). Don’t let anything (or anyone) hold you back. When people give you strange looks for being so happy, smile back at them. If someone says that you can’t achieve something, don’t listen (unless it’s something like hang gliding without a parachute…). And always remember that there is no such thing as being too excited about something.
Dominican is the perfect place to carpe diem. There is always something beautiful going on, whether it is a good deed drive, a musical concert or mass in the Rosary chapel. The campus is constantly beautiful, no matter what the season and the faculty and staff are chronically helpful and optimistic.
Glorious days like this one refuel and reenergize us. We can store up this energy and use it on the not-so-glorious days. If we seize each and every day, we can turn gloomy days into glorious ones with a pinch of optimism, a sprinkle of happiness and a dash of joy.