Sorry! (Again)

I just wanted to pop in to apologize for my recent lack of posts. I started a new job back in March and have been so busy and worn out lately that I’ve had trouble mustering up the motivation to work on my blog. I hope soon to be able to get back into the swing of things and begin making regular posts again. I have an idea for a post that I meant to write ages ago, so I will work on that and try to get it up pretty soon. I think for the near future I will drop the “new posts on Fridays” rule and try to get posts out whenever I can, be that two in one week or one in two weeks. And hopefully soon enough I’ll get the hang of this new stage in my life and be able to devote as much time to this blog as I would like to. Thank you for reading!

Happy Learning!



“How I was Kicked Out of College Because of My Allergy” By Kelsey Hough AKA The Crunchy Cook

How I was Kicked Out of College Because of My Allergy. Please read and share this post, it was written by a friend of mine who has a severe and life-threatening peanut allergy and was basically driven out of her dream school because they felt her allergy was too much trouble to deal with. Kelsey is an amazing girl who deserves to be able to go to school. She’s never had the option to say that this allergy of hers is too much trouble and just stop dealing with it. I find it appalling that the Chancellor would treat her with such open hostility. Of course the world will never be completely safe, accidents happen, people make mistakes, Kelsey has to deal with other peoples’ mistakes all the time. But a school should care about its students enough to at least make an effort to try to keep them safe, rather than driving them out because they’re afraid of the liability. I hope that by spreading the word about this incident, UW and other schools will become more aware of the need to provide a safe environment for people with allergies. Kelsey is not the only person out there with allergies like this, and people like Kelsey should not have to feel like school is not an option for them because of their allergies.

Almonds and Cashews: The Nuts That Aren’t Nuts

Picture this: You go to the grocery store to buy a can of mixed nuts. If you open that can, what’s inside? Cashews, almonds, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and maybe one or two other nuts. Did you know that most of the “nuts” in your can of nuts aren’t even nuts? You might have already known that peanuts are not a nut but rather a legume, related to beans. Did you know that those cashews and almonds aren’t nuts, either? The truth is, they’re actually both fruits! Read on and we’ll look a little more in-depth into exactly what these fruits are.

Almonds are a member of the genus Prunus, which includes fruits such as peaches, plums, and cherries. The almond “nut” is the seed of the almond fruit, unlike the seeds (commonly known as pits) of many of its relatives, the almond seed is edible. Another difference between almonds and their relatives is the fruit. Unlike the thick, juicy fruit that surrounds the pits of peaches, prunes, and cherries, the almond seed is surrounded by a thin, green, leathery skin. This skin is peeled away to reveal a woody outer shell, and inside the shell is the almond seed.

The cashew nut is a part of a large fruit of the same name, originally native to Northeastern Brazil, but now widely grown in many tropical climates. The cashew is a member of the family Anacardiaceae, which includes genera such as Mangifera (to which the Mango belongs) and Pistacia (of which the pistachio is a member). The cashew fruit (commonly known as the Cashew Apple) is rich in nutrients and is often eaten fresh or used in cooking in many countries, it is even considered a delicacy by the natives of many parts of South America. While cashew apples are eaten in many parts of the world, they are not popular due to their astringent taste.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post leave a comment to let me know what you think! Have any interesting facts to share? Feel free to leave those in the comments, too!

Happy Learning!


Mini Lesson: Shortening St. Patrick

I hadn’t planned on doing a St. Patrick’s Day lesson, but I had a last minute inspiration, so here goes!
As you’re going about your day wishing people a happy St. Patrick’s Day, you may find yourself calling St. Patrick by his nickname. But you my have noticed that there seems to be two common ways to shorten St. Patrick: St. Paddy and St. Patty. Which one is correct? Is it really a big deal? Well, if you’re dealing with any proud Irishmen, it is. In Ireland, the correct nickname for Patrick is Paddy. This is rooted in the Gaelic spelling of Patrick, “Padraig.” Furthermore, any Irishmen that see you using the incorrect spelling will cringe and be quick to tell you, “Patty’s a girl’s name!” So, as you go about your day today celebrating Irish heritage and wading through a sea of green, have fun wishing others a “Happy St. Paddy’s Day!” And if you choose to celebrate the holiday with your favorite Irish spirits, please be safe and responsible, don’t drink and drive!

Happy Learning!


A Little More Disney in My Life

March 15th Title ImageSo, since I love Disney, and love writing about it, I thought it was time to write another Disney post. And I feel like the fact that my last Disney posts was one of my most popular so far kind of justifies another post. 🙂
So, here we go with 5 more tips on getting the best out of your Disney vacation.

1. Start from the back of the park- When you walk into and Disney park, it can be easy to instantly get caught up in the magic of your surrounding, and it can be tempting to go to the first interesting thing you see, but I encourage you to head towards the back end of the park instead. This tip applies mostly to those who are getting to the park in the morning soon after it opens, but it applies for several hours after opening. You’re not the only one tempted to visit the first attraction you see, many people will start at attractions near the front of the park, leading to congestion and long lines. If you head to the back first, you will find shorter lines and smaller crowds while everyone is still gathered near the front. Enjoy some attractions, shops, restaurants  etc. in the back of the park and then work your way forward. By the time you make it back to the front, the crowd will have spread more evenly through the park and you can enjoy yourself without having to deal with the beginning-of-the-day crowds.

2. Head to the left- While many attractions have only one line to get in, there are several that have two or more lines. When you find yourself at one of these attractions, choose the line to your left. For reasons I do not know (but are probably explained somewhere out there by some statistic genius) people tend to gravitate towards lines on the right, so if you head to the line on the left, your wait can be shorter. This is not always true, sometimes you may run into a group of savvy disneygoers who also know this tip, or sometimes people may just be more aware of what’s going on and realize that the left line is shorter, but typically you can save a bit of a wait if you head to the left. From what I have heard, this tip applies most when the crowds are higher.

3. Try some of Disney’s signature treats- There are some treats that are famous among Disney Resort fans that you often can’t easily find at home, make sure not to miss out on these. If you’re in Disney World, one of their most famous treats is the turkey leg. You can find them at many food kiosk throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, and if you enjoy some nice juicy turkey (dark meat, of course) then this is a tasty, and quirky, treat to help keep you fueled. Another treat famous at both Disneyland and Disney World is the Dole Whip. The Disney Parks are some of only a few places in the world that serve the Dole Whip, so make sure you try one while you have the chance. Dole Whips are a lactose-free pineapple soft-serve dessert (although there are other flavors available depending on where you get it, the Disney Parks serve pineapple and vanilla). This chilly treat is great when you need a cool, refreshing snack. If you’re adventurous enough, don’t forget to try my favorite way of eating a Dole Whip, the Dole Whip Float! A Dole Whip Float is made by pouring pineapple juice over the Dole Whip. It’s a fantastic tropical treat that really helps you get into the Disney mood. Another treat to try if you’re visiting Disneyland is the Mint Julep. Mint Julep is traditionally a minty cocktail famous in the Southern United States, but many years ago, Disneyland came up with their own non-alcoholic version which they serve in several locations in New Orleans Square. Mint Julep is a wonderfully cool, refreshing drink that goes wonderfully with the ambiance of New Orleans Square. Lastly, One of the most famous can’t-miss treats is the Disney Parks is really more than one treat. I’m talking about Mickey-shaped treats! Disney loves to honor the lovable mouse that started it all, ond one of the ways they do that is by making mickey-shaped snacks of all sorts. Some favorites to try are pretzels, waffles, ice cream bars, and beignets (a fluffy doughnut-like treat popular in the South-Disney’s version can be found in New Orleans Square in Disneyland).

4. Try your hand at Pin Trading- One of my favorite things to do at the Disney Parks isn’t a ride, show, attraction, or restaurant, it’s Pin Trading! Pin Trading is a popular Disney pastime, and can be a fun way to get an especially memorable souvenir. Collectible pins are available at pretty much any gift shop throughout the Disney Parks (many shops have special exclusive pins, so be sure to check for new pins in every shop you visit). You can collect your pins on a lanyard (also available at most gift shops) and display them as you walk through the parks. You may notice as you explore, that cast members have their own collections of pins. If you see a pin you like, feel free to walk up to a cast member and offer one of your own pins up for trade, there’s no need to fear rejection, cast members are required to trade with guests (and don’t worry about possibly taking their favorite pin from them, the cast members’ collections are supplied by the parks and are not the cast members’ own pins). Sometimes you can find rare pins from other Disney parks around the world, or rare limited edition pins no longer sold in the parks. It may feel awkward at first to ask a cast member to trade, but before long you’ll be eyeing every lanyard you walk by and trading left and right. You may even come across fellow park visitors willing to trade, just don’t get pushy. Guests are under no obligation to accept your offer, so if someone says “no” to a trade let it go and let them enjoy their day at the park. Pin Trading is one of my favorite things to do at Disney because not only are you collecting souvenirs, you’re collecting memories and stories that help you to look back fondly on your trip for years to come.

5. Don’t feel rushed to leave at closing- Something I was not aware of until a year or two ago was that the Disney Parks do not actually close completely at “closing time.” The official closing times for the parks apply to rides and attractions, but the shops stay open for about an hour after closing. If you’re not ready to leave right away, feel free to linger and check out the shops while the rest of the guests make their way out. This is also a great way to avoid the mad rush to leave at closing time, and if you’re staying on Disney Property, this is a great way to avoid the big crowds at the monorails and busses. And if you’re still not ready to go back to your hotel after the parks close completely, head over to Downtown Disney (known officially as “Downtown Disney District” in the WDW Resort and “Downtown Disney Area” in the Disneyland Resort) these locations are open late into the night and offer many fun activities to keep the magic going.

Well, that’s all my tips for today, I hope you learned something useful for your next Disney trip. Do you have any tips of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments. Have a favorite Disney treat you absolutely must have every time you visit? Tell me about it! Have a favorite Pin Trading story? I’d love to hear about it. Until next time,

Happy Learning!


“To Be,” or “To Be,” What’s the Difference? Time For a Spanish Lesson!

March 8th Title ImageAs a Spanish tutor, I get all sorts of questions about grammar, there can be a lot of things that seem confusing to people who grew up their whole life speaking one language and are now trying to learn a new one. One of the most common problems I run into with my students is the confusion of ser vs. estarmac. Both words can be translated into english as “to be” but have very distinct uses, and it can be hard to keep track of which word to use when. So that’s what today’s post is for, I am going to do my best to explain the difference. If you’re taking a Spanish class in school, trying to learn the language on your own, or just curious to learn a little tidbit about another language, hopefully today’s post will help you to learn a little something new. Often when I have students that are confused about ser vs. estar, I point them to’s explanation, they use really great acronyms that help students to remember the difference between the two words. For ser, uses the acronym DOCTOR, which stands for: Description, Occupation, Characteristic, Time, Origin, and Relationship. For estar, uses the acronym PLACE, which stands for: Position, Location, Action, Condition, and Emotion. (see link above) provides a wonderfully clear explanation of these acronyms, and I find that many students who take the time to read it have a much easier time understanding how to use ser and estar.

Next, I want to address is a mistake that many students make in their attempts to differentiate the two words. I have talked to countless students who try to describe ser as relating to permanent things, and estar as relating to temporary things. This is incorrect and will cause you plenty of confusion. One example my spanish teacher liked to give of how this distinction does not work is the phrase “to be dead.” In spanish, this phrase would be translated as “estar muerte.” For example, if I were to say “My grandfather is dead,” I would say “Mi abuelo está muerte.” Now let me ask you a question: Is death temporary? Typically, unless you’re Jesus or a zombie, once you’re dead, you’re dead. Another example of estar being used to describe something permanent is some cases of location. Yes, there are cases of location that are temporary (For example, “Estoy en un avión” which means “I am in an airplane.”), but there are also cases in which location is permanent, such as the location of countries. For example, if I were to say that the United States is south of Canada, I would say: “Los Estados Unidos están al sur de Canadá.” In this sentence I used estar, because I am describing the location of one country relative to another. Now, unless some major geological or political event occurs, The U.S. will always be south of Canada, so here we have another case in which estar is not describing a temporary situation. So, I beg you, please do not try to simplify the difference between ser and estar by saying “Ser is permanent and estar is temporary.” It will cause you far too much confusion and trouble in your attempts to properly use the spanish language.

Lastly, I want to demonstrate the importance of choosing the correct “to be” verb. Many adjectives can be correctly used with both ser and estar, but your choice of verb can drastically change the meaning of the sentence. One of the best examples of this concept is the adjective “aburrido,” which means bored or boring. If you’re telling your friend about how boring your new history teacher is, you might say: “Mi profesor de historia es muy aburrido” (My history teacher is very boring). On the other hand, if you’re sitting in your history class and want to tell your friend how bored you are, you might say: “¡Estoy tan aburrido!” (“I’m so bored!”). If you’re not careful to use the correct verb, you might end up telling your friend that you are boring (“¡Soy tan aburrido!”) which coule elicit some laughs and teasing from your friends.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and found it useful, if you have any comments or questions feel free to share them in the comments section. Are you currently studying Spanish? Have you studied Spanish in the past? What are some things that you struggle with in learning this language? Feel free to share them below and I’ll do my best to address them in future posts. Do you have any tips of your own? Share those, too!
If you’re studying Spanish, what are you studying it for? Are you simply taking a spanish class so you can graduate? Are you studying in order to pursue a career such as translator, interpreter, or something else? Are you studying spanish just for fun, or maybe you’re planning on travelling to a hispanic country and are learning the language so you can communicate better? I’d love to hear about your experiences with learning Spanish (or any foreign language), please share your stories in the comments.

Happy Learning!


Time-Saving Treats (That Still Taste Great!)

Title imageEver find yourself in the mood for a homemade sweet treat, but just don’t have the time or energy to make Granny’s Heirloom Fudge Recipe, or Aunt Marge’s Famous Chocolate Cake? Here are a few made-from-scratch treats you can make with minimal effort.

Microwave Fudge:

This recipe has been my family’s secret weapon for years. Whether you were assigned snack duty for the weekly book club, or just want a quick way to treat family and friends, this recipe is sure to please (without slaving for hours over a hot stove!)


2 cups chocolate chips (or any flavor you can find, I’ve made this recipe with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and butterscotch chips)

1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk (to make it even easier buy the kind with the easy-open lids so you don’t have to fight with a can opener)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Optional: chopped nuts, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, or other mix-ins


1. Line an 8×8 square dish with tinfoil or parchment

2. Pour the chocolate and condensed milk into a large, microwave-safe bowl, microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. When chocolate is melted, remove and stir until smooth.

3. Add vanilla and any optional mix-ins and stir until well-distributed.

4. Pour into pan and place in fridge for 2 hours until firm.

Some people say that this fudge is a little soft for their liking, I personally like it the way it is, but you are free to add more or less chocolate chips to get the consistency you desire.

There is also another microwave fudge recipe variation which uses frosting. I have yet to try it properly myself (I had one failed attempt involving a shortage of ingredients), but you can try it out here.

Mug Cakes and Cookies:

I discovered these awesome single-serving treats while housesitting, I was craving a sweet treat, but didn’t want to make a mess of the kitchen baking a whole batch of cookies, so I found some mug cake recipes online and made myself a sugar cookie. It was tasty, quick, and made from scratch.

Here are 10 great recipes for different flavors of mug cakes, including the internet’s favorite flavor: Nutella!

This recipe is great if you’re feeling fancy.

Here is a Christmas Cake that look absolutely heavenly.

Here is the sugar cookie recipe that got me started on desserts in a mug (this blog also has two more mug cookie recipes here and here).

These recipes are great for when you come home from work and want to plop down on the couch with a tasty dessert. They come together easily in just a few minutes and taste great!

Banana Ice Cream:

This treat has been making the rounds on Pinterest for quite a while now. It’s amazing how simple it is and how much it tastes like the real thing! (Bonus: in addition to being quick and easy, this is also a great alternative to ice cream if you are vegan, allergic/intolerant to dairy, or just want to eat healthier)

The recipe is simple: slice up ripe bananas (Amount depends on how much ice cream you want), then put them on a plate and freeze them. Once your bananas are frozen, just blend them in a food processor or high-powered blender until smooth and silky. Voila! You now have a smooth, creamy banana ice cream. You can eat it fresh out of the blender for a soft-serve texture, or stick it in the freezer to let it firm up a bit.

You can find some tasty variations on this recipe here.

I hope you found a treat here that hit the spot! Which one was your favorite? Do you have any go-to recipes for when you need a quick snack?

Happy Learning!


New Plan

Okay, so I’ve decided to start blogging on a schedule. From now on, I aim to put out a new post every Friday. Having a deadline should help motivate me to keep up with my blog and not just post “whenever I feel like it.” It also gives current and future followers a particular day to look forward to seeing a post, rather than just wondering when the next one will come and randomly checking for updates. I just put out a new post today, and already have next Friday’s post written up and scheduled to come out at 12 next Friday (If I understand WordPress’s scheduling thingy correctly, that’s 12 noon). In addition to weekly posts, I may pop in here and there with mini posts or little updates on life or the blog.

I hope you are enjoying this blog and looking forward to this new schedule as much as I am!

Happy Learning!


Let’s go to Disney!

Cinderella's Castle at ChristmastimeI’ve had Disney on the brain ever since hearing about New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World (WDW), so to combat my Disney withdrawals I thought I’d take Kelsey’s advice and make a Disney post! I’ll be sharing some of my favorite tips and tidbits about the Disney parks. Hopefully you’ll find a useful tip to make your next Disney trip even better, or maybe you’ll learn something fun you didn’t know before. Without further ado, here’s 5 tips for a magical vacation. 🙂

1. Hunt for Hidden Mickeys- Maybe you’ve already heard this one before, but I thought I’d include it anyway. You can find Mickey Mouse’s familiar silhouette hidden in many forms throughout the Disney parks. It can be fun to look around and see how many Mickeys you can find. You can learn more about Hidden Mickeys, and even find a book about them here!

2. Make good use of Fastpasses- Fastpasses are available at select rides and attractions throughout the Disney Parks and allow you to bypass the regular lines for a shorter wait. They come in the form of tickets that you can print out by inserting your park ticket into electronic kiosks near the ride queue. The Fastpass lists a time window in which you can come back and redeem it in order to enter the Fastpass line. You can get a lot of enjoyment out of using Fastpasses casually, just printing them out when you come across a ride you’re interested in, but you can get even more out of them if you plan ahead. Before you go to a park, plan out a few rides that you really want to go on. When you get to the park, go straight to the rides you want and print out your Fastpasses. Fastpasses come in limited quantities, so if you wait too long, you’ll end up with a longer wait to redeem your passes, and some of the more popular rides can even run out of passes. After getting your passes, you can wander around the park however you like, go on whatever rides you want, and then come back in your assigned time window to redeem your Fastpass. For the official explanations of Fastpasses, as well as lists of the rides and attractions that use them, click here and here.

3. Consider staying in a Disney hotel- Staying at a Disney hotel may sound like an extravagant waste of money, but it has its perks, and it may not be as pricey as you think. Disneyland and Disney World are a bit different from each other in terms of hotels. Mainly because Disney World, being much larger, has a lot more of them. This size difference allows for a greater range of styles as well as price ranges. Disneyland has three hotels, each with different prices ranges, but all costing about as much as a luxury hotel. Disneyland’s hotels are a bit pricey, but come with some perks that can make it worth it. All three hotels are located on Disneyland property, less than a mile from the entrance to both Disneyland and California Adventure (The Grand Californian Hotel even has a private entrance to California Adventure that can be used by guests of any of the three hotels). This proximity makes them a very convenient place to stay, and if you don’t plan on venturing outside of the Disney parks during your vacation, you can save money by not having to rent a car or use public transportation. Disneyland also offers free shuttles to and from the airport if you are staying at one of their hotels, this service can be scheduled when you book your trip on the Disneyland website, thus saving you the cost and hassle of finding your own transportation. Staying at a Disneyland hotel also offers some other convenient perks: You can charge your purchases to your room (I personally prefer paying in cash or gift cards, but some people find this feature more convenient), you can have your purchases sent back to your room so that you don’t have to bring them back yourself or carry them around the park all day, and you can purchase a Disney Dining Plan (which I will discuss more later). If these perks sound worth paying a little bit extra, then I encourage you to look into staying at a Disneyland hotel. Check out the Disneyland website to see their overviews of the hotels, and check out third-party reviews on sites such as to decide which hotel may be right for you! Disney World has a much wider range of hotels than Disneyland, including several that are very affordable. Depending on the season, some Value hotels can be less than $100 a night. Like the parks, the Disney World hotels are spread out all over the resort, some are within walking distance of one or more parks, but all of the hotels offer convenient and free transportation to all of the Disney World parks. Some hotels even have their own monorail stops! Features vary from hotel to hotel at Disney World, so to check the features of a particular hotel, visit the Disney World website. Like the Disneyland hotels, all Disney World hotels offer free transport to and from the airport, and the option to purchase a Disney Dining Package. You are also allowed access to Disney hotels other than the one you are staying in. Feel free to visit the gift shops, restaurants, lobbies, pools, etc. at any of the other Disney hotels. For a list of pros and cons of each Disney World hotel, click here. Both Disney World and Disneyland also offer access to Extra Magic Hours for guests staying at a Disney Hotel. This means that guests are allowed an extra hour in the park (either before opening or after closing depending on the day) on specific days during the week.

4. Buy a Disney Dining Plan- The Disney Dining plan is offered to guests of Disney Resort Hotels. At Disneyland, there is one type of dining plan that can be purchased in 2-5 day packages. This dining plan provides vouchers for two meals and one snack per day. Details on the Disneyland Dining Plan can be found here. I have not used the Dining Plan at Disneyland, but from what I have heard from others, it is basically a way to prepay for some of your meals at Disneyland, it doesn’t really save you money on your meals (unlike Disney World’s dining plans), but allows you to budget for your meals ahead of time. Disney World’s Dining Plan is very different from Disneyland’s. First, there are multiple levels of dining plans for various price ranges. For details on the various packages, click here. Each plan saves you money on your meals, with the higher-level packages offering higher saving. The dining plans also allow you to order meals you probably wouldn’t have if you were paying for your meals out-of-pocket. I have not used the current version of the Dining Plan, but on my first trip to Disney World my family purchased a predecessor to the Disney Dining Plan (I believe it was called the Wishes Package) this package was essentially the same as the current Premium Dining Plan. With this plan, much like with the current dining plans, we were allowed to order basically anything on the menu at participating restaurants, since we didn’t have to worry about the price of the meal, we were able to order things we usually wouldn’t (my brother basically ordered surf-and-turf at every restaurant that offerred it). If you’re staying at a Disney hotel, especially in Disney World, I highly encourage you to consider buying a dining plan, at the very least it takes away the hassle of planning out your food budget from home, and it can even save you money and give you access to fabulous dining experiences!

5. Time your trip carefully- If you have a pretty busy schedule, you may be limited in when you can take your vacation, but if you have a little wiggle room, you can plan your trip around certain times that offer perks such as lower prices, lower crowds, and better weather. It’s pretty tough to find information online regarding the different pricing seasons at Disneyland, so I can’t say for sure when the best deals are, as a general rule, it typically costs less to go during the less busy times, as they lower their prices to attract more visitors. Some of the best times for lower crowds are before and after holidays and typical vacation seasons. Guidebooks such as Birnbaum’s Guides and The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland typically have information about crowds and prices, so these can be a good place to look for more information. There is a lot more readily available information online when it comes to Disney World, so I can give some more precise suggestions. As far as value season, the most inexpensive time to go to Disney World is January through early February, excluding holidays such as President’s Day. January-Early February is also a good time to go as far as crowds, but there is a trade-off. As much of Disney World’s maintenance happens during this time period you may find that some of your favorite rides are closed, so double-check the ride closures and if there are any rides you absolutely have to ride, you might have to consider paying a little more and braving a bigger crowd to go at a different time. has a nice list of ride closures here. Aside from January, some other great low-traffic times to visit are: April and early March (although there is a risk of encountering hurricanes), late August, most of September, October, and November, and the weeks in December that come before Christmas Week. There are lots of great websites that offer detailed crowd calendars and planning help. My favorites are, (great for first-time visitors, but also a great resource for repeat customers), and (which also offers an iPhone app that’s great for use inside the parks).

Well, that’s all for now. Did I miss anything? What are some of your favorite Disney vacation tips? I’ve got plenty more tips of my own, so be on the lookout for more Disney posts in the future!

Have a good weekend, and Happy Learning!