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How to Survive a 15-Hour Car Ride

roadtrip DSC_0419DSC_0421spotify // instant camera

Happy Monday, everybody!

How are you? How was your week? Did ya have a good weekend? I’ve been out of the loop since I was on vacation, so I’d really like to hear :D.

As for moi, I had an  a m a z i n g  week out in D.C. and Williamsburg and am kinda of alarmed at just how fast it went. (If you’d like to hear more on that, as in, a whole post on the trip, comment below! :) ) Also, the fact that school starts in three weeks and I still am barely half way done with my homework. I digress. 😛

Back to vacation. So we drove, all seven of us in one black minivan, out to D.C., and we did it in one day. From where I live, it totaled to be about fifteen hours from start to finish. We had breaks, of course, but a twenty minute bathroom break at a gas station in small-town Kentucky does not do much to make the time go by faster. 

This was not our first rodeo, however, lemme tell you. We’ve driven out to Wyoming (most. boring. drive. ever.), Niagara Falls, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Vero Beach (in Florida), just to, y’know, name a few. 😉 Because of all of these hours spent in the back seat of a car, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for how to make the time go faster (or at the very least, make it a little more enjoyable!). 

  1. Read. This may seem a bit obvious, but it works! Check out a book or two from the library, bring along the novel you’ve got to read for school, and heck, throw a textbook or two (okay, maybe just one. They’re kinda heavy) in the mix to get some reading out of the way. If it’s a good book, it’ll suck you in and the hours will fly, and if it’s more of a chore, reward yourself at little checkpoints with a small snack or a nap. After reading twenty pages about fifteenth century European expansion, I took a forty-five minute nap. It works out, right? 😛
  2. Food. This one’s kinda strange, but having a couple of fun snacks that you wouldn’t normally have (it is vacation, after all) makes it more enjoyable. A bag of peanut m&m’s, some fruit snacks, those frosted animal crackers with sprinkles (so good), whatever you like! Also, eating lunch or dinner in the car is almost better than stopping and eating, because you’re still driving and making progress while you eat your food. It’s a win-win. 
  3. Music/Podcasts. With a good playlist and some noise-canceling headphones, time can go by like that. If you’re driving through a pretty area (Pennsylvania is gorgeous, by the way), the music acts as your own personal soundtrack. Fun, right? Or, some relaxing music can help you fall asleep and cancel out the giggles and shouts and other noises made by your four siblings in the car with you. Spotify is my favorite app by far for this. If you don’t have it, definitely check it out! A podcast can be great, too, because it doesn’t eat up data the way a movie or video streaming can, but it’s just as entertaining. We listen to a lot of Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan in the car–both are hilarious. 
  4. Taking pictures. It might be fun to take a picture every time you cross into another state, or the different places you stop, especially if you get to use a camera like my little instax. It breaks up the time, too. 😀
  5. Napping. Sometimes, plain ol’ sleep is the way to go, especially when you have to wake up at five in the morning. Like I said, some noise-canceling headphones and a blanket can go a long way. :)
  6. Get crafty. Be it making friendship bracelets (who says you’re too old for that?), drawing, making a collage, or, in my case, crocheting, creating something handmade while in the car can serve as a souvenir of sorts. Also, you’ve got all that time on your hands–why not pick up a new skill? I’m working on a granny-square-turned-blanket that I’ve taken with me not only on this trip, but when we went to Mexico over spring break as well. 😀 
  7. Play a game. You can play the classic roadtrip games (punch buggy was banned because it got a little out of control, if you will), or you can do what my siblings and I did, which was download them onto the iPad and play until it died. The Game of Life was a fave, as well as checkers, oddly enough. 

Those are all my tips so far! I’d love to hear how you guys pass the time in the car, or on an airplane. Any suggestions are much appreciated–there’s definitely more roadtrips in my future!

Have a great day! 

– Grace

 

 

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Baked (Peanut Butter Cup!) S’Mores Dip

smoredip2DSC_0399I love a s’more as much as the next person (as evident in this post, this postand this post), but they’ve never been my absolute favorite

That is, until someone suggested I put peanut butter on them. 

Magic, I tell you. Irresistible with a capital “i”. 😀

So naturally, when my mom Facebook messaged me a short little video demonstrating the recipe above, it was calling my name. Super-duper easy, bakes up quick, looks kinda gorgeous, tastes amazeballs, and is perfect for parties. What’s not to like? Plus, if you’re allergic to peanut butter (or don’t like it :P) you can substitute your favorite brand of chocolate instead (*cough* Ghiradelli *cough*). 

If you’re still not convinced, just look at the pictures above. Yep. Keeeeeeeeep looking. Those golden, melty marshmallows mixed with gooey chocolate and peanut butter, served warm on a crispy graham cracker with a tall glass of milk. Mmmhmm. That’s about right. 

Recipe below! 😉 

Oh, and feel free to comment your favorite way to make a s’moreCharred marshmallow, or barely toasted? Milk, dark, or white chocolate? Chocolate chip cookies instead of graham crackers? A rolo instead of a square of chocolate? The possibilities are endless! 😀

Baked (peanut butter cup) S'Mores Dip
A super-easy dip made with peanut butter cups and marshmallows served with graham crackers.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 bag of Reese's peanut butter cups (minis, wrapped)
  2. 1 bag of regular-sized marshmallows
  3. 1 sleeve of graham crackers
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan.
  2. Unwrap all of the peanut butter cups and cover the bottom of the cake pan with them, making sure they don't overlap.
  3. Top with marshmallows until peanut butter cups are no longer visible.
  4. Bake for 4-6 minutes, or until marshmallows are golden brown.
  5. Break graham crackers in half. Serve dip warm.
  6. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you are allergic/dislike peanut butter cups, feel free to replace with the equivalent amount of your favorite chocolate.
Sweet Grace's Life http://www.sweetgraceslife.com/
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A Short Rant on Summer Homework

I sit here with a slightly throbbing hand after just completing over five pages of history notes and reading about twenty-three pages of tiny text. I now can cross off one chapter from my list of summer homework, leaving two more chapters to read and take notes on; five themes to analyze and summarize; fifteen current events to find to go along with those themes; not to mention a lengthy book I’m supposed to read (I’m actually kind of excited about that)–oh, and there’s questions to go along with that, too. 

What exactly will I gain from all of this? 

That remains to be seen, but I’m guessing a healthy participation grade in class and a good grade on a test we’ll be taking the second week of school. 

Now, depending on who you are and where you go to school and what courses you’re taking, this may seem like nothing, or it may seem like a lot. Either way, the effectiveness of this method of summer homework seems to be questionable, at least in my eyes. 

Don’t get me wrong–I understand why it’s assigned and the arguments for it.

  1. It’s a harder course so there’s a larger workload, there’s more ground to cover, just can’t fit it all in, etc.
  2. It’ll give you a head start next year.
  3. Can’t let your brain get out of shape over the summer!
  4. It’s great preparation for college!

As sarcastic as those sound, I do understand that there’s legitimate reasoning and logic behind it. 

But. 

At the same time, people go to school for a reason–they can’t teach themselves. I will most likely forget most of what I read and took notes on in the space of a few days, if that. Reading something and scribbling down the main ideas and important figures and dates is not learning the information. If I’ve got questions, I’m going to Google it, click the first or second link, and go with it. I didn’t gain a new perspective on that time period, or really grasp the concepts in the chapters because all it is is black type on a white background. Wouldn’t it be better to maybe cover less content but really learn the information that we do cover throughout the school year? Quality vs. quanity? Ah, but that’s a different debate for a different day. 😛

Plus, to add insult to injury, it’s a gorgeous day outside, one that I’ve spent hunched over my desk in my room, lit by the light of a fluorescent bulb, trying to cram as much as I can because we’re leaving for vacation this weekend and I know I have to work all day for the next couple of days. Yes, I know I’ve had all summer to do this, but, between camps and family trips and working and doing everything you can’t do during the school year, y’know, like having a social life and blogging and being fifteen–there’s not a whole lot of time left for homework, is there? 

And I know this isn’t that big of an issue and that I’ve got a pretty darn amazing life that I wouldn’t trade for the world, but it’s something that kinda makes me frustrated.  #firstworldproblems

Welp. I guess it’s best to just get it done. In the mean time, though, I’d love to hear about how you guys are handling your summer homework (if you have any, that is–if you don’t, lucky duck!) and your thoughts on it. 

Enjoy your summer, folks! 😀

– Grace