Baby, it’s cold outside


Furry friends warm your body and soul.
Furry friends warm your body and soul.

Let me tell you what Internet world. If you’re living in Iowa or anywhere in the Midwest, winter has hit. And it hit hard.

But when you live in the frozen icebox that is Northeast Iowa, you aren’t expected to just change your thermostat, but also your entire wardrobe. Being the Pinterest-y girl that I am, I love looking for a little warm outfit inspiration. Key word being warm.

During my trip down Pinner’s Lane (also called the Women’s Clothing tab), I have come to a shocking realization. Either the majority of “winter clothing” was selected by the inhabitants of a tropical isle or fashion and function have yet to meet for the winter season.

There are four inches of snow and ice on the ground, folks. Sweater leggings from Etsy aren’t going to save you from frostbite. And those  cutesy fur booties that are “winter wear?” Please don’t be surprised when you land smack on your tailbone because they have zero traction.

Now I’m not suggesting that we abandon all sense of style and wear insulated coveralls and Carhartt coats, granted that should be your snowpocalypse outfit of choice. But we should not be staking our comfort, health and possibly safety just to be on trend.

As the temperature continues to drop, here are some fashionable and functional clothing you should be switching into rotation.

1. SWITCH: Leggings for flannel lined jeans

Legging aren’t pants. When the temperature drops to  15 degrees and with an added wind chill, they’re even less like pants. Do yourself a favor and keep your legs warm so you can show them off in the summer. Bonus points if you burn your Christmas patterned leggings for extra heat.

2. SWITCH: Ugg/fashion boots for snow boots

Unless you were raised by mountain goats, Uggs or fashion boots will not provide you with any type of traction on snow and ice. You know what’s worse than slipping and falling on ice? Realizing your pride for looking cute didn’t cushion your fall. The likelihood of slipping or having wet feet can be lessened if you grab a pair of boots with a thick tred and non-slick soles, your pride and tailbone will thank you.

3. SWITCH: Layered sweatshirts for actual coats

Yes, your favorite sweatshirt is cozy. But bite the expensive bullet and get a solid winter coat. A high wool percentage wins against biting cold and a classic cut will last you a couple years. Bright, solid colors can make it fun and help emergency crews spot you when your car is stranded in a snowdrift.

IMG_14314. Head, shoulders, hands and toes

November temps are actually colder in the Midwest than last year during the polar vortex. This means your phalanges (fingers and toes) shouldn’t be put at risk. For the love of your texting ability, put on gloves or mittens. Bare skin runs the risk of frostbite in 30 minutes if not properly covered.

Wear thick socks when out and about. Bonus: they look great next to a fireplace for your next #cozy Instagram.

Grandmas everywhere are rejoicing for chunky hats and scarves are making a comeback. Dig out your Gammy’s handmade creation and sport it proudly. You’ll gain Grandma Karma, which is the main influencer for Santa’s naughty and nice list.

I hope you stay warm and safe in the coming weeks and just remember…We only have roughly four months left of winter. Just four. Whole. Months.


Students are hangry

As I sit down to enjoy some much-needed free reading time, I hear my stomach rumble at such a pitch that my roommate calls from the other room, “Haven’t you eaten yet?”

The sad truth? I have. Just 15 minutes ago. I’m hangry.hangry

I’m not the only one. If you troll college students tweets, Yik Yaks or listen to any conversation for more than five minutes, one quickly learns the cafeteria food just isn’t up to par. In a major way.

In fact, the website College Grotto completed a survey of 1,000 student to figure out what the top ten complaints were from students. Not surprisingly, gross cafeteria food ranked number three. Strangely, poor WiFi connections didn’t make the cut.

Now while I also lament about the struggle of finding an adequate or sometimes even a hot meal in a college cafeteria, I do believe that as a creative generation and one which has an expanse of cafeteria food at our disposal, we can create a meal which can be both satisfying and tasty (gasp).

To get the ball rolling, here are three of my favorite “homemade” meals:

1. Hidden Chicken Parmesan

Hidden Chicken Parmesan. See, it's hidden under all the cheese!
Hidden Chicken Parmesan. See, it’s hidden under all the cheese!

You see that breaded chicken breast laying lifeless on the warming table? I see a fricken Olive Garden in a microwave.

Reproduction recipe:

One breaded or grilled chicken breast

Marinara sauce

A single slice of cheese (whatever type you prefer)

Lay chicken on a bed of pasta or rice and cover with marinara  sauce. Place cheese slice on top and microwave for a minute and thirty seconds.

2. Hot ‘n’ Ready Tuna Melt

Hot 'n' ready tuna melt
Hot ‘n’ Ready Tuna Melt. I can’t even.

For those who like fish. Or because this is coming from your college cafeteria, faux fish.

Reproduction Recipe:

Hamburger bun or any type of bread


Slice of choice cheese

Toast hamburger bun and heat tuna in a microwave bowl for about one minute. Spread now smelly tuna on toasted bun and place a single slice of cheese on top. Nuke in microwave for another 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Top with paprika if available. But realistically, it’s probably not.

3. Take It On Tea

College is a cesspool of germy germs and this winter season is no exception. Counter a sore throat with ALL of the vitamin C.

Reproduction Recipe:

Three to four lemon slices

Two cups of hot water

Two to three tablespoons of honey (or to taste)

Place slightly squeezed lemons in a normal glass (a mug usually isn’t big enough) and pour the hot water over them. Add honey and stir until mixed. Drink and act as if you’re in a Halls Cough Drop commercial. Refreshed.

If you’re looking for further inspiration or just enjoy lists, check out the Daily Meal’s list of the 75 Best Colleges for Food 2014. Yeah, my college didn’t make it on there either.

What are some of your “homemade” meals? Any tips or tricks?

It’s the doggone truth

My other black lab, Mocha and I during my senior pictures.
My other black lab, Mocha and I during my senior pictures.

When I am home, I have a wake-up call service. No, it’s not my mother nor is it an alarm clock with an annoying electronic buzzer. Mine is of a fuzzier state.

Rosie, my seven-year-old black lab, comes into my room around 6:30 a.m. every morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Wet nose nudges and an occasional paw to the face greets me each morning.

During the weekdays, I find this habit adorable. But to be woken up at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday? Inhumane. Isn’t there a saying about this sort of situation? “Don’t wake a sleeping teenager?” Or perhaps it’s “don’t wake a sleeping dog.” Either way, when the sun rises Rosie will prod open my bedroom door and happily push her face in my mine.

Dogs are easily one of the most popular pets on the planet.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, here are 83.3 million dogs which have a place to call home. And for most dog owners, Fido isn’t simply a fluffy friend, but a member of the family and therefore needs to be spoiled appropriately.

Americans spend an estimated 50 million dollars on their animal family (cats, dogs, birds, horses, lizards, all included).

Rosie is the only fan of my ukulele playing.
Rosie is the only fan of my ukulele playing.

I sometime wonder if I could trade spots with those dogs.

My dad gave me an excellent piece of conversational advice when I first went to college.

“Ask people about their dog,” he said. “Everyone always has a dog story.”

To this day, that advice has held true. People love their pets in general.In return, they provide us with an unconditional love and unquestioning loyalty.

If you question this, lock your dog and your significant other in a trunk together and guess which is happier to see you when you let them out.

Loving to hate – I quit complaining for a week

Biting my tongue all this week in an effort to not complain.
Biting my tongue all this week in an effort to not complain.

Hello, my name is Jeanne and I am a complainer.

In fact, and I do feel a bit proud of this, I complained about the length of the lunch line for so long that when I stopped, the ticket taker was smiling and waiting to take my card. That’s when I realized I had a problem.

The line for food, the test you just took or the person constantly sniffling in class. There is a lot to complain about and as students we make the most of it, myself included.

This is why I decided to challenge myself to go cold turkey and stop complaining for a week. The rules were simple; from Saturday to Saturday nary a negative comment would pass my lips. I imagined myself emerging from this experience with Gandhi-like wisdom and a minor in humanitarianism.

As it turns out though, not complaining is hard. College counselor Stephanie Newsom said not complaining is like going against biology.

“We are wired for negativity. The average person has 45,000 negative thoughts a day. Isn’t that astounding? We have 60,000 thoughts total, and 45,000 of those are negative, way over half,” Newsom said.

Verbalizing those negative thoughts can lead to a never ending string of complaints, which not only can increase your likelihood of depression and negativity, but can be contagious to those around you as well, Newsom said.

“People can get tired of negativity. I also know that sometimes it feels like negativity can be contagious,” she said. “So one person in a group or a team or whatever, bringing lots of negativity, can sometimes be contagious, and make that group sort of a sick, ill group.”

By Monday evening, I realized complaints were my go-to conversation starter. When asked by close friends about my day, I often began with, “You won’t believe what happened today.” Just call me Captain Gripe. I was there and ready to grumble.

As I held fast in my promise not to gripe, my eyes and ears were opened to several startling facts:

Certain social media apps like Facebook and Yik Yak can be cesspits of negativity. Anxiety UK made a survey about social media use and how heavy use of social media apps like Facebook affected the emotions of users. The survey found 53 percent of participants said social media sites had changed their behavior, while 51 percent of these said the change had been negative. Follow people who aren’t habitual post complainers.

People form relationships solely based on loving to hate. Their bonding agent? Complaining. While common complaints can serve as icebreakers, a friendship founded on criticisms is not beneficial to either party.

And lastly, there is a difference between complaining and venting Newsom said.

“Venting is ‘I just need to process or talk through a situation that I am frustrated with or with someone’ and then you can move on. Complaining, when people sit around and complain, and the next time they sit with somebody new and complain about the same thing, it is a lot of negatively,” she said.

So while a venting session with friends can serve as stress relief, don’t allow it to become the only thing you do.

Found on
Found on

And now for a challenge: I challenge you to go 24 hours without complaining. You may go on a rant accidentally, but do not give up. Be mindful and follow Ann Bradford’s wisdom.