The Bedlam Experience 2016

The Bedlam Experience 2016

(Odyssey Article 20)

Once again, it’s a great year to be a Sooner!

It all came down to this…

Between early losses, explosive wins, and a questionable ranking system, the #9 University of Oklahoma Sooners took on the #10 Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Bedlam match-up of the decade.

This game not only decided the winner of the state rivalry; it also crowned the Big 12 conference champion and named the team headed south to compete in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

However, with both teams 9-2 going into the big game, it was a red dirt toss up who walked out with the Bedlam bragging rights, the double-digit win, the conference championship, and the ticket to New Orleans.

When you woke up, and it was Bedlam time…

Baker Mayfield Dancing

When it was time to go into the stadium…

Trey Millard Running

When you watched pre-game and Bob said, “There’s only one”…

Excited OU Fans

When it was time for kick off…

Number One Finger

When OSU scored first…

J.R. Shaking Head

When Dede ran it in to take the lead…

OSU Fan in Winter

When Baker let it fly…

OSU Fans in Disgust

When Joe left everyone behind…

OSU Fan in Shock

When Samaje took a knee…

OSU Fan in Denial

When we knew we had it in the bag…

Baker Mayfield Celebrating

When we won the Big XII Title…

Ten Fingers for Ten Big 12 Championships

Ahmad Thomas Carrying Big 12 Trophy

Big 12 Championship Trophy

Group Photo of 2016 Big 12 Champions

We’re going to New Orleans! Boomer Sooner!

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The Best Thing(s) I Ate Thanksgiving Weekend

The Best Thing(s) I Ate Thanksgiving Weekend

[Odyssey Article 19]

Just living the foodie dream.

Y’all know by now I’m a foodie through and through. I love food, and I love sharing my “foodventures” with you guys. Needless to say, and apparent in my previous article, the holiday season is a foodie’s favorite time of year, and this year’s Thanksgiving goodies did not disappoint.

I’m from Norman, Oklahoma, but I always spend Thanksgiving with family who live out of town. Most years, we travel south to my aunt’s house just north of the Oklahoma-Texas border; however, with my parents recently moving from Tennessee to Missouri, I spent Thanksgiving this year in the Springfield area.

My mom made Thanksgiving dinner, and she stuck to the traditional dishes, as usual. We had turkey, cornbread stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, Hawaiian sweet rolls, a simple gravy, and the star of the show – my crispy, crunchy green bean casserole. (All the fried onions…)

For dessert, she made a no-bake cherry cheesecake (which my fiance inhaled) and our family’s gelatin salad recipe. The gelatin salad isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing dessert, but it tastes great, and it’s special to me because my mom only makes it this time of year, and it reminds me of all the holidays growing up.

We spent Friday at Silver Dollar City in Branson, and if you aren’t there to ride rides (we weren’t), it’s a foodie’s paradise. I had two types of succotash: a harvest skillet [country ham with a green bean and carrot base] and a southwest skillet [seasoned chicken with a corn and okra base]. However, my mom and I kicked ourselves because the succotash we really wanted hid in the back by the barbecue restaurant, and we were too full by the time we got there. It had brisket with a drool-worthy skillet potato and onion base.

Aside from the skillets, I indulged in some of the best apple cider I ever had (but their wassail is better), various types of fruit butters including blackberry and cherry, the flaky goodness that was a caramel apple turnover, a caramel apple with nuts, house-made fudge and peanut brittle, a ranch burger and fries, and my favorite treat of the day… a giant s’more.

Let me tell you guys about this s’more though… First and foremost, you can get a combo with a large hot chocolate. (It was cold, so I was all over that.) However, the real magic is the s’more itself. They make it with two, thick chocolate chip cookies inside of graham crackers, and then you get to roast your own marshmallows!

Saturday, we bummed it on the couch and watched football games all day, but my mom still made a fabulous beef stew for lunch (one of my favorites), as well as an easy Velvetta queso with chips.

Yet, without question, Sunday gave our stomachs the true test…

We ate a light breakfast (eggs, bacon, Texas toast with fruit butter), and then we had early dinner at Lambert’s Cafe in Ozark, and you never leave there hungry.

They serve stick-to-your-ribs country classics in huge portions, but they’re most famous for their table to table appetizers or “pass arounds” [black eyed peas, fried potatoes and onions, macaroni and tomatoes, fried okra, sorghum, and apple butter] and their “thrown rolls”. (Yes, they literally throw them at you.)

I ordered the roast beef with mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn, and then I sampled some fried potatoes and onions, fried okra, and (of course) the hot rolls.

I honestly didn’t think I could down one more bite… until I remembered they had blackberry cobbler with ice cream (a.k.a. our kryptonite). However, I was glad my dessert stomach came through because it could honestly be the best I ever had.

(Not sure if you guys are as much of cobbler connoisseurs as I am, but the crust is what makes a good cobbler, and this cobbler had the perfect crust.)

My sweet tooth is huge, so it’s no surprise the desserts topped my list, but fried things always come in a close second (tied with wine spritzers and mimosas). All in all, my stomach and I are pleased with the holiday weekend. Nothing is better than family, football, and festive food.

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A Foodie’s (Ideal) Thanksgiving

A Foodie’s (Ideal) Thanksgiving

[Odyssey Article 18]

A collection of our favorite Thanksgiving foods and food recipes.

Mikayla and I might be long distance best friends, but the holidays always bring people together. We also make the perfect pair because Mikayla likes to cook, and I like to eat. (No shame.) We always talk about food and recipes, so with the holidays right around the corner, we decided it’s only fitting we put all our favorite traditional recipes and food finds in one place. If we had it our way, this would be our perfect Thanksgiving feast. (Just try keeping your mouth from watering!)


Thanksgiving Appetizers

Mikayla: “Apps are awesome, but I always eat way too much of them and forget to save room for the main course… Regardless, I like switching up the appetizers. They’re generally quick recipes, so it’s easy to make a small variety. Here is one of my go-to’s.”

Carson: “You can’t go wrong with a good veggie tray and creamy ranch dip. However, my cousin often makes amazing cream cheese and bacon-stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers to start the meal.”

Main Course


Roasted Turkey

Mikayla: “I love cooking, and I look forward every year to what I’m going to do with my Thanksgiving turkey. I started brining them a few years ago, and I’m a pretty big fan of the brine technique now. This is the turkey recipe I’m trying this year. I can’t wait!”

Carson: “Turkey is the Thanksgiving staple, but my favorite turkey, aside from the one my uncle deep fried a few years back, is actually from a barbecue place called Rudy’s. (Pair the smoked turkey with their house pickles, and you’ll never go back… except to buy more.)”


Roasted Ham

Mikayla: “I’m not a huge fan of ham (except on rare occasions). However, this recipe sounds pretty ‘ham’ good.”

Carson: “Honey ham is one of my all-time favorites. Throw a couple slices of pineapple and some Hawaiian sweet rolls into the mix, and the taste buds will sing your praises!”

Side Dishes

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Mikayla: “This dish isn’t one making my leftovers list. Like Carson mentions, it’s just not the same without that fried onion crunch. Nonetheless, this one with fried shallots looks great!”

Carson: “To me, green bean casserole is special because it’s only as good as it tastes on Thanksgiving day. Otherwise, the onions (my favorite part) lose their crispy crunch. My mom makes this easy and delightful recipe.”

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Mikayla: “I could live off just potatoes for the rest of my life and not complain. But even to that extreme, I never get sick of my mom’s mashed potatoes. She “secretly” puts in a little bit of ranch dressing when mixing them up… (but you didn’t hear that from me.)”

Carson: “I’m what you call an ‘equal opportunity potato eater’, and I never met a potato I didn’t like. (Y’all know what I’m talking about.) However, I do prefer my mashed potatoes with the skins and then loaded up with cheese, bacon, and the works.”

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole

Mikayla: “Sweet potatoes are awesome. As much as I love standard potatoes, you must have both on Thanksgiving. Here’s another recipe finding its home on my table this year – Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon.”

Carson: “My mom typically makes a really simple, pecan-less sweet potato casserole, but I saw a video the other day for these sweet potato bites, and they are too cute not to mention!”


Rainbow Carrots

Mikayla: “I’m usually not a fan of cooked carrots. (Raw and covered in ranch dressing, I tolerate them.) However, this recipe was killer. It even made my cousin, who hates carrots, go back for a second helping.”

Carson: “Like Mikayla, I’m not a big carrot person, but this recipe for whole honey-roasted carrots on Pinterest definitely caught my attention.”


Roasted Corn Cobs

Mikayla: “I live in Wisconsin, and the second you leave the city, it turns right into corn fields. Granted, sweet corn is WAY better when you have it fresh-picked in summer, but I have nothing against creamed corn either.”

Carson: “When it comes to corn, y’all… I’m on a starchy cloud. One of my favorite creamed corns also comes from Rudy’s (copycat recipe here), but I do have a weakness for buttery, parmesan-crusted, grilled corn on the cob, as well.”


Dinner Rolls

Mikayla: “I don’t bake much, but my dad, brother, and I have a tendency of making everything possible into a sandwich. Thanksgiving is no exception. Toss me a roll, and watch me go!”

Carson: “If you guys didn’t realize by now, all carbs are fair game, so any form of bread is the same story. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit has dinner rolls on another level, but (on a side note) I do miss J.R.’s Bar-B-Q’s sweet, jalapeno cornbread muffins which were out of this world.” (J.R.’s closed its doors awhile back, but here’s another scrumptious jalapeno cornbread muffin recipe to satisfy your cravings.)

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Mikayla: “I can go for a smooth or chunky cranberry sauce, but if you look to switch it up, you should try these sugared cranberries. They’re incredibly photogenic and give you the perfect combo of tart and sweet.”

Carson: “I prefer smooth, jellied cranberry sauce over the chunky kind, but you can give your cranberry sauce an upgrade with a little port and orange!”




Mikayla: “Due to a series of unfortunate events (a.k.a. college), I refuse to eat box stuffing ever again. However, I still love stuffing on Thanksgiving, and this apple cranberry rosemary stuffingpairs perfectly with my turkey for this year.”

Carson: “Whether you refer to it as dressing or stuffing, I don’t care for mushy bread, so feel free to call it whatever you please. Nonetheless, don’t think I left you hanging! Here’s a recipe for a delicious (looking) French bread stuffing.”


Brown Gravy

Mikayla: “My advice: pour it on everything, and (a little leftovers tip) hot gravy and cold turkey together are a new kind of wonderful.”

Carson: “Before it closed, we had a seafood restaurant down the road called The Shack. It had what my mom referred to as “crack gravy”, and (true to its name) it was the best gravy to every touch my tongue and clog my arteries.”


Pumpkin Pie

Mikayla: “I eat my pumpkin pie the right way – smothered in whipped cream. Yet, if I had my number one dessert pick, it would be an apple-cherry crisp. This recipe is pretty close, but I suggest using your favorite kind of apple (about half to three quarters the amount) and then adding tart cherries.”

Carson: “I know pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan pies are traditional, and I do like them, but they aren’t my number one pick. At the end of the day, Marie Callender’s cherry pie is my absolute favorite, and I’m super sad the one by my apartment closed down. (R.I.P.) However, if we aren’t talking pie, I’m completely hooked on my aunt’s 7 Layer Delight.” (Check out a similar recipe here.)


Thanksgiving Leftovers

Mikayla: “Put EVERYTHING on a sandwich. That’s what I always do, but you must layer it just right, so the gravy ends up in the middle. Otherwise, it’s just a sloppy mess leaving you feeling like you wrestled a turkey… and lost.”

Carson: “My mom likes to eat her Thanksgiving leftovers cold right out of the fridge (*gag*). I have to at least throw them in the microwave… but if you feel fancy, definitely give this turkey panini or beer batter fried turkey recipe a try!”

The holidays will be here before we know it, but let us not forget the true spirit of this time of year. Spend time with the people who mean the most to you, sample all the foods you enjoy, and live/love every moment. It’s time to get away from the hustle and bustle of summer and fall and slip into the comforts of the upcoming new year. Happy Holidays, everyone, and good eating!

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Insanity Cubed

Insanity Cubed

[Odyssey Article 17]

An old (nerdy) essay brought back to life.

The other day while randomly looking through the About Me section of my Facebook profile, I strumbled across an old essay I wrote for my AEGIS English class in high school. While I completely forgot how to solve my Rubik’s Cube, it is still something near and dear to my nerdy heart. With a few touch ups, I present to you (in all its geeky glory) “Insanity Cubed”.

In this world history calls “barbaric”, science calls “evolutionary”, and literature calls “madness”, math is everywhere. Yet, whether equations, theorems, or equalities are relevant in everyday conversation is an entirely different personal essay itself. However, I find it interesting, though a person might not favor or even particularly like math, his or her interests often revolve around a mathematical point. Take athletics, for instance. The team, individual player, and coaching statistics (numbers, essentially) are generally all that matter. Scores of games (past and present), rankings, and how many gold trophies are housed in a shadow-boxed case for all strolling past to admire are the basic building blocks of a respected sports program. Those numbers shape a tradition, and thus, a confidence and a mindset. Math may not necessarily create a state of mind, but it surely affects one. This is most certain when observing people attempting to solve one of the oldest and most brain-challenging nerd toys of all time… The Rubik’s Cube.

I found in watching and trying myself to solve this multi-colored, six-sided conundrum, three different reactions arise from one who has the cube in his or her hands. The first group of reactors is called the Obsessers. These people stop at nothing to complete any and/or all ten or so various algorithms of the squared brainteaser set in front of him/her. Members of this group are often seated in class beside people who are irrelevant to this paper, and those unimportant persons become annoyed when Obsessors doze off due to Physics-induced sleep deprivation and begin mumbling, “White face, second layer, yellow cross, yellow fish, yellow face, seven move, solid face and matching pair, done,” in effort to complete the pattern in their slumbers. (These people are also known to solve the cube while blindfolded, using only one hand, and while participating in underwater basket weaving.)

Between Groups One and Three are the Droolers. Members of this group merely hold the cube in their hands and gawk at it in awe, mouth agape. At times, a Drooler looks upon the mottled box as if, stared at long enough, the toy might metamorphose into a beautiful butterfly with all of life’s answers displayed brightly on its delicate wings. Sadly, this is not so, and that is too much for Droolers’ minds to handle. The Rubik’s Cube sends members of this group into an almost altered condition. Droolers become disoriented, glassy-eyed, and drift into a vegetable-like state.

Last, but not least, are the Destroyers. These people feel the need to make life a living hell for the Rubik’s Cube. This way, no suffering from the puzzle emanates, resulting in no further negotiation for the cube to happily solve itself. Destroyers only care about the bragging rights earned from success, and they are greatly angered when things do not go their way. The relationship between Destroyers and the Rubik’s Cube bases purely on hate. The Destroyers initially sit down to solve the cube, but upon realizing they can not figure out the pattern, Destroyers explode in a snarling fit of rage. They will scream, smash, kick, spike, and/or throw the defenseless toy against the wall as to shatter it into a million pieces. (In addition, you may find a Destroyer peeling the colorful stickered flesh from the cube in impatient desperation.)

At one point in time or another, I was a member of each of these groups, but as I grow in my intelligence and discipline, I find myself a proud member of the Obsessors group. (Granted, I can function throughout my day without touching my plastic pet.) I’m just constantly striving for a faster record and a more difficult challenge, and at times, this search unintentionally influences my mental stability. Nevertheless, if you call me a nerd, my brain will not argue. I gladly agree because I can not deny what is in my heart. I am crazy in love with a little, colored cube named Rubi.

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20 Words I Didn’t Know I Was

20 Words I Didn’t Know I Was

(Odyssey Article 16)

Logolepsy: An obsession with words.

NERD ALERT: I love words.

I love reading. I love accents. I love definitions. I love speech.

I just love language and all the words (familiar and foreign) that come along with it.

Recently, I came across the article “30 Things I’d Rather Be Than Pretty“, and it sparked my search for new words to add to my vocabulary. While I borrowed a couple from the article’s author, I found myself enjoying the research and discovery of even more ways to describe myself. Hopefully, some of these relate to you guys, too.

1. Belesprit (French)

a person of great wit or intellect.

2. Sonderous (French)

one who realizes each random passerby lives a life as vivid and complex as his/her own.

3. Occhiolic (English)

a person aware of the smallness of his/her perspective in the scheme of the universe.

4. Eunoia (Greek)

well-minded; beautifully thinking.

5. Atychiphobic (Greek)

fearing failure; fear of not being good enough.

6. Bawdy (English)

humorously vulgar.

7. Abliguritious (Latin)

one who spends an excessive amount of money on food.

8. Couthy (Scottish)

a warm and friendly person.

9. Polyhistor (Greek/Latin)

a well-educated person; varied learning.

10. Esoteric (Greek)

understood by or meant only for the select few with special knowledge or interest; private, secret, confidential.

11. Scripturient (Latin)

having a consuming passion for writing.

12. Philocalic (Greek)

a lover of beauty.

13. Quiescent (Latin)

a quiet, soft-spoken soul.

14. Clinomaniac (Greek)

one with an excessive desire to stay in bed.

15. Finifugal (Latin)

a person who hates endings; tries avoiding or prolonging the final moments of a story, relationship, or some other journey.

16. Selcouth (English)

unfamiliar, rare, strange, and yet marvelous.

17. Eccedentesiast (English)

one who hides pain behind a smile.

18. Recherche (French)

“carefully sought out”; carefully chosen, rare, or exotic.

19. Solivagant (Latin)

wandering alone.

20. Logastellus (Greek)

a person whose love of words is greater than his/her knowledge of words.

Even if you can’t find yourself in any of these, put them to good use in a paper or in everyday conversation. (You never know what might happen.) As well, if you want even more words, check out The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Happy hunting!

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The One Netflix Series I Will Never Get Over

If you need a new show to binge, and you enjoy having your sanity torn to shreds and then having your heart ripped out and spit on, this is just for you!

The One Netflix Series I Will Never Get Over

(Odyssey Article 15)

A Review of ‘Black Mirror’, A Netflix Original

Let me tell you guys something…

I watch “Grey’s Anatomy.” I watch “Game of Thrones.” I watch “The Walking Dead.”

However, nothing had me feeling some type of way like “Black Mirror.”

Netflix describes the series as: “The sleek world of tomorrow offers opportunities beyond our wildest dreams. At a price of our worst nightmares.”

(In a nutshell, the show takes the idea of technology advancement in the future, but it also adds in the aspect of everything possible to go wrong with that technology.)

Charlie Brooker’s “Netflix Original” anthology series is not only a sci-fi lover’s dream; it is also humanity’s greatest horror. Three seasons and five years in the making, Black Mirror is truly like nothing else on television.

If you also watch TWD, refer back to all the emotions you felt in the pit of your stomach during the Season 7 premiere episode, and that is how you feel watching each episode of Black Mirror. Out of 13 episodes, only one has a happy ending, so if you enjoy having your sanity torn to shreds and then having your heart ripped out, chunked on the ground, stepped, and spit on, this show is just for you!

Fair warning, Black Mirror is for adults only. Between the language, sexual content, gore, and disturbing ideas/images, it is very graphic. However, I do recommend the show for couples or best friends because it is an experience in itself, as well as a reliable conversation starter.

I can’t say much about the series specifically without spoilers, but it is an anthology series, so each episode is unrelated to the next. It’s a compilation of stories with minute references from one episode to another. Yet, that aspect is one of the best parts of the show because you never know what you get next.

All and all, Black Mirror is an emotional roller coaster with totally unforeseen twists, turns, drops, loops, barrel rolls, and complete 180s making you beg for it to stop while simultaneously wanting it to never end. It’s a televised train wreck – you don’t want to look, but you can’t look away.

Please binge watch the series, and let me know what you guys think! You won’t (and will) be sorry you did!

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Hidden Gems for Foodies in the OKC Metro (Odyssey Article 14)

Hidden Gems for Foodies in the OKC Metro

Because food is life.

If you love food (like me), you know nothing’s better than experiencing a restaurant for the first time. The atmosphere, the food, and the feelings are all brand new. Luckily, through curiosity and hunger, I discovered a few special places tucked away in the hustle and bustle of the OKC Metro.

So fellow foodies, sail away with me into food paradise as we uncover the treasures that are these hidden gems, and don’t forget your taste buds!


Ozzie’s Diner


Concealed inside OU Westheimer Airport in Norman, Ozzie’s Diner is a staple in this college town. Serving traditional diner cuisine, the restaurant is best known for its All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast (which includes their famous Biscuits and Gravy). Bring your appetite, but leave your plastic at home because Ozzie’s is cash only!

Juan del Fuego

Juan del Fuego

Tucked away in the Red Bud Plaza aside Sam’s Club in Norman, Juan del Fuego offers breakfast favorites with a Mexican twist. I recommend the Fiesta Plato with Fuego Fries (house skillet potatoes) or the Ranchera Omelet. Both are so good, you’ll lick your plate clean!


Victoria’s Pasta Shop

Victoria's Pasta Shop

Back in the winding one-way streets of OU’s Campus Corner (and nestled next to Crest off 104th Street in SW OKC), Victoria’s Pasta Shop puts a modern twist on Italian classics. Their Two-Piece Cheese Bread takes up an entire plate, and the Lasagna Rolls are a must have. You won’t regret anything, except wishing you wore bigger pants.

The Stuffed Olive

The Stuffed Olive

Next to Brown’s Driving School off Penn in a fairly remote little business plaza in West Moore/South OKC, The Stuffed Olive is a foodie’s dream come true. Everything on menu is made from scratch daily, and the menu also changes seasonally. The chef-owner has a set menu; however, you can come back each day for a different, delicious special. I never ate anything from here I wouldn’t order again.



Hidden in the “Storage Strip” off 19th Street in Moore next to Showplace Market, Nosh is sophisticated home style cooking. In addition to the usual beverages, they have a hot/cold tea service, a daily fruit infused spa water, and a daily flavored lemonade. On my most recent trip, I enjoyed Wednesday’s Pineapple Lemonade (I had three… or four… glasses), The Best Chicken Sandwich in the World (They aren’t lying) served with Ranch-Dusted House Chips, and we ended the meal with their seasonal Pumpkin Tart a.k.a when a cinnamon roll and pumpkin pie have a baby.

As Nosh is my favorite restaurant on this Hidden Gems List, I also recommend their Pot Roast Pot Pie and Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac and Cheese. (They have a featured Daily Mac every day, but you can request any of them on the days they aren’t featured.)


McNellie’s Abner Ale House


Squeezed next to Syrup Breakfast Boutique in Downtown Norman, it’s easy to miss McNellie’s among the neighboring shops, unless you look for it’s bright red paint job. While the pub is mostly known for it’s 200+ beer selection, it also offers quality bar food. I suggest going on Wednesday for their $4 Burger Night. The Charburgers are fantastic when paired with Beer Battered Fries and your cocktail or ale of choice.

Jamil’s Steakhouse

Jamil's Steakhouse

Veiled among the business and medical buildings of Lincoln Boulevard in OKC, Jamil’s Steakhouse is small, but it is mighty. The restaurant serves conventional steakhouse fare with an added Mediterranean flare. Their in-house pita bread was the best I ever had, they cooked my tender steak to perfection, and my baked potato was just the right amount of crisp on the outside and velvet on the inside.

(Jamil’s is on the pricey side, but they offer a half price Steak Dinner for Two or a discounted Lobster Dinner for Two via Groupon.)


Vast OKC

This restaurant is better known in Downtown OKC; however, it’s location makes it a perfect addition to this list. Vast, housed on the top floor of the Devon Tower, is prime spot for a date night, anniversary, or special occasion. It is expensive, but it’s well worth it. The food and cocktails are on point, the service is excellent, and the view is breathtaking (especially at night).


il Dolce Gelato

il Dolce Gelato

Located discretely in the Robinson Crossing Shopping Center in Norman, il Dolce is as cute on the inside as it is sweet (literally). The dainty shop offers 24 flavors of gelato daily, as well as Italian Lavazza coffee and espresso. It’s the perfect place for a study break or an after dinner sweet treat. (I recommend anything with chocolate!)

Crimson & Whipped Cream

Crimson & Whipped Cream

Right next door to Victoria’s Pasta Shop on Campus Corner, Crimson & Whipped Cream is the bakery to make all your sweet dreams come true. They serve a variety of coffee and baked goods, including five different types of cookies per day, and then various daily specials. Nonetheless, my weakness is cupcakes, and they have the best Red Velvet I ever had.

I highly recommend all of these lovely and local restaurants and shops, so if you haven’t visited them all, you have places to be! Also, keep your eyes peeled for other secret eats because, as you know, they’re always bigger than your stomach. Bon appetit!

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Advice from the Girl Who Can’t Take Her Own Advice (Odyssey Article 13)

Check out my Odyssey article for this week, and some advice… Have a great weekend!

Advice from the Girl Who Can’t Take Her Own Advice

Just like the New Girl crew, my ducks are MIA.

We all know that girl who gives great advice, but she never seems to have the ability to apply it to her own life. She’s smart, unbiased, and a good listener, but she just can’t get her ducks in a row. That girl would also be me.

What can I say? It’s a character flaw. (Hopefully not a fatal one…) Regardless, I still have advice worth giving because I want all of you to succeed and be happy in life, even if it kills me…

Everything has beauty.

Just like every cloud has that (at times invisible) silver lining, every thing, every person, every situation has something beautiful and/or something good associated with it. You just have to open your eyes to see it.

Schmidt Beautiful Soul

Learn something new every day.

Like I told my friend the other day, “The world is your oyster.” From the moment you fall out of bed to the instant your head (or your face) hits the pillow, you have opportunities to gain knowledge and life experiences. You never know what life might throw at you.

[New Girl Fun Fact: The writers intentionally omitted the rules for True American from the show; however if you want to know how to play, look no further.]

Jess 1234 JFK

Laugh at yourself.

Let’s be honest… Everyone does dumb stuff, but it’s so much easier when you laugh it off than sit there feeling like an idiot about it. Life isn’t that serious. Have some fun.

Jess Laughing

Learn the value of silence.

Not just because silence really is golden, but you don’t always have to have something to do or say. Being honest and straightforward is a good thing; however, you also need to understand when saying nothing is better than saying anything.

Cece's Advice

Eat the f**king cake.

Or don’t. Do whatever makes you happy because as much as I wish I enjoyed eating salads (my waist line does, too), they’re no match for the heart’s true desires: chicken nuggets, pie, and sweet tea.

Jess Loves Food

It’s not about them; it’s about YOU.

Here’s the thing about doing what makes you happy… People will always try to make it about them. However… NEWS FLASH! It’s not. They guilt trip you and try making you feel bad, but you have nothing to be sorry for. You do you!

Winston Saturday is For Sleeping

Because you said so.

I’m so tired of people thinking “no” means “try harder”. SCREW THOSE PEOPLE. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. Really think about this… No one can make you do anything, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation either.

Nick and Jess

Forgive but never forget.

Forgiveness is about you, but you can forgive people (and you should) without completely dismissing it all. Keep tabs. They usually come in handy for future reference.

New Girl Group Hug

Love yourself.

I know things are always easier said than done, but at the end of the day, only you have you. It is your body, your mind, your soul, your heart, and your life. Do what you please and love every second.

Nick Jamming Out

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My Quarter Life Crisis is Happening (Odyssey Article 12)

Have no idea what you’re doing with your life? Me either!

My Quarter Life Crisis is Happening

Growing up freakin’ sucks.

At the end of September, I participated in a panel (with six other young adults) speaking to a group of under-motivated high school students wanting to know why it is important to finish school and what it’s like growing up. I told them, “Adulting is like getting everything you ever wanted as a kid from Santa Clause, but then, he also brings you a sack full of things you didn’t ask for and you have no idea what to do with.” The kids didn’t enjoy my joke as much as the rest of my peers and the teacher, but I couldn’t come up with a more accurate analogy.

When you imagine graduating high school, graduating college, or even life after college, your mind paints this image of immediate success. You move from one goal to another, and you feel on top of the world. You feel like you can accomplish anything. However in reality, you quickly realize things don’t always happen the way or at the speed you expected.

I don’t cry in front of people. (It’s just not how I am.) Yet later during the panel, the teacher asked a question about my parents, and as I got into my response, my voice suddenly cracked, my chin quivered, and the tears welled up in my eyes. Up until that point, I remained composed whenever people asked about my parents. Two years ago, they moved 10 hours away from my sister and me (both in college), and of course I miss them, but it wasn’t until someone asked me about them in the context of growing up that it really hit me hard.

I’m 22 years old. I’m an “adult”. I should have my life together, but there I was, in front of friends and strangers, crying about my parents… What the heck is wrong with me?

Since that moment, sitting as the fractured, emotional mess I never knew I was, I started thinking about where I am in life, and I questioned everything happening around me. My thoughts flooded with so many questions, it made my head spin.

Am I making the right decisions with my life currently and for the future?

Am I satisfied with where I am and where I’m going?

Am I happy with my relationships?

Am I living up to my full potential?

And as my stream of consciousness progressed, I quickly discovered I have not a single clue what I’m doing with my life.

All these questions and I had no answers. I broke down.

As I wrote this, I’m still so certain about being uncertain, it ties my stomach in knots, and my heart is heavy. I have so many things to do and choices to make, I have so much expected of me, and I’m unsure about it all.

I miss seeing my family every day. I miss seeing my friends every day. I miss the routine and the feeling of achievement from school. I feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty. I feel isolated because talking about it all only brings judgement, bias, burden, or pity.

I feel like I’m in the middle of the path life has for me, but I’m standing completely still, and I have no idea which way life wants me to go. It’s scary, it’s frustrating, and it’s really lonely when it seems like everyone else is moving forward. Even after I speak or after I pray, a weight still sits heavy on my chest. I don’t know whether to have a whole bottle of wine, a whole gallon of ice cream, or a whole box of tissues.

How do I keep from completely losing my mind?

I finally spilled everything to my friend, and she told me, “At the end of the day, you walk the path alone, and yet, you are surrounded. You are guided and protected, and everything is all laid out for you. In the moment, we may face the greatest challenges and struggles we can imagine, but life can’t give you anything you can’t make it through. Sometimes, you must fall down a hill to get to the top of the next one, but that failure and those struggles end up being the best rewards, lessons, and triumphs possible.”

I responded, “I know you’re right, but it’s not helping me feel much better at the moment.”

I calmed down since the conversation with my friend, but those feelings still linger in my spirit. Feeling like your goals are unobtainable and true happiness isn’t possible is not uncommon. It may seem like a dark cloud constantly hovering over your head, but I realize now you never know when the sunshine will break through (if only a single beam of light at a time).

Just know in your darkest moments of uncertainty, when you panic and you feel like you hit rock bottom, a plan still exists for your life. The only person stopping you is you. During the race of living, life puts hurdles in front of you, but only you can jump those hurdles and sprint to the finish in all its glory.

However, it’s still okay not to be okay. It’s okay to cry or scream or lock yourself away for a moment. Times get tough (and growing up sucks), but take a deep breath. Life put our blinders on, but a light still shines bright at the end of the tunnel.

We will make it through because we can do anything. Give it time.

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When You’re a College Student (Odyssey Article 11)

When You’re a College Student

As Told By Bob’s Burgers

College is the most wonderful and most stressful time in life. You’re stuck between being too young to know what you want and too old to not know where you’re going. However, for most of us, college is where you really find yourself. You challenge yourself, and you grow, and you blossom into a beautiful flower of knowledge and experience with drooping petals of student debt. Alas, you are not the only one. The world is a meadow of broke, flowery friends.

This is life as you know it when you’re a college student.

You bargain with yourself about going to class, and it feels like making deals with the devil.

“Okay, if I go to class today, I get to skip on Thursday… and Friday… and the rest of the semester.”

You can never find a parking spot on campus, so you just drive around in circles for hours like…

Tina Driving

You walk through the rain to class eating mac and cheese because sitting down to eat is completely overrated.

“Who has time for that??”

Linda Eating Cake

You sprint to class because you lost track of time while typing a heated rant on your online class’s discussion board.

“It’s fine.”

Tina Running

You feel like the dumbest smart person in your class because you probably are.

“I can’t even pronounce the title of my textbook…”

Gene I'm Not An Antelope

You always get hopelessly lost in the library.

“Every. Single. Time.”

Gene, Louise, and Tina in Library

You eat stuffing for dinner because you literally have nothing else.

“Help me. I’m poor.”

Linda Hitchhiking

You spend most of your money on alcohol because you don’t have the money, time, or energy to go out with your real friends.

“Just hanging with my best friends Jack, Jim, and Johnny.”

You invest in an industrial-size bag of Pizza Rolls because you’re an adult, and you do what you want.

Linda Dancing

You cry because you don’t know what to do with yourself.

“Because you’re an adult, and you do what you want.”

Linda Crying

You take a nap when you have real responsibilities because adulting sucks.

“I have 3 papers due today, so…”

Gene Sleeping

You get all the free things, but you trade them for your sanity.

“I got free tacos today, but my hair is falling out.”

Louise Eye Twitch

You don’t know how to answer people’s questions about your future because you have no clue what you’re doing with your life.

“Grandma, how am I supposed to find a husband when I can’t even find the motivation to get out of bed?”

Tina Slides Off Chair

You don’t understand how other people have so much fun in college because you lost your will to live.

Tina Laying on the Floor

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