Christmas Break: Jabba the Hutt, melted spoons and seed beads

by theadventuresofbeka

Thanks to graduate school, I have extended the luxury of having a student schedule for 2-3 years. It is a blessing and a curse. (Don’t tell me I will change my mind when I work a big girl job. I want to complain about my student life occasionally.) I have worked during most of my studies, but I work for the university. Translation: when I am not in school, I am on vacation. I typically get 2-4 weeks each summer and a month for Christmas and New Year’s. I know, it sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

There has been a cycle to my student life. I begin each semester filled with a mixture of motivation and fear. I work really hard for the first month. I commit myself to lots of things and go above and beyond as I study. Then I begin to tire, and I limp through the next two months. I pull myself together and finish the last month exhausted and burnt out. I begin break with a strong desire to sleep and not use my brain. I visit my family and drive them crazy by sleeping twelve hours each night and spending my days playing mindless internet games and reading quality websites like Buzzfeed. By the end of break, boredom drives me to put on some real pants and hang out with a couple of friends. I might even read a few books and go to the beach. I reach a point where I’m ready to go back to school and do interesting things again. I return to school to start the cycle over again.

I no longer suffer from the major burnouts, but I still find myself turning into a creature with about as much movement and energy as Jabba the Hutt each break. I have tried to keep myself busy this time. Don’t worry, I have still achieved an average of 11 hours of sleep per night. In the past month I have managed to: see The Hobbit (and ranted discussed it extensively), go hiking, receive my first speeding ticket, help throw a tacky sweater fun run, bake cookies, attend a Christmas party, clean my room, go to a dog park, make homemade caramel sauce and chocolate sauce as Christmas presents, spend a whole day driving, run a 5K (right after the day of driving), shop for items like hats that I need for this thing called winter, go to the beach, read 8 books, and celebrate Christmas and NYE with my family. At this point, I reached extreme boredom and sluggishness. I spent the beginning of 2014 in a vegetable state until I decided that I needed to do something again. I then sat in a coffee shop, took photos, watched the first 5 episodes of Firefly, saw Anchorman 2, practiced yoga regularly, read 4 more books, and started an unplanned jewelry project involving size 11 seed beads. For some reason, every time I sit down to write a post, I get distracted by something way more “important” so blogging hasn’t really happened.

My sauce endeavor was probably the most blog-worthy aspect of my break so far. I started with this hot fudge recipe, and it worked beautifully. This stuff tastes like a liquid brownie. I highly recommend it. I then tried to make this caramel sauce recipe. I learned an important lesson.

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Plastic spoons melt faster than sugar. Photo credit goes to my roommate – the same one I wrote about previously. I started over again and learned my second lesson. The combination of salted butter AND salt makes caramel sauce that is way too salty for the average caramel consumer. Follow the recipe or consider the changes you are making. I kept this batch for myself, because I love really salty things. I then modified the recipe (I continued to use salted butter but did not add additional salt) and successfully made the best caramel sauce I have ever tasted. Seriously. Use wooden or metal utensils and make this stuff. It’s delicious.

Because I have a brother and a sister who cannot eat dairy, I attempted to make dairy-free caramel sauce without using corn syrup. I learned another lesson. Coconut milk will burn when added to melted sugar, burn your hand, and make your sauce taste like burnt coconut. I ended up making this recipe, and my brother loved it. In my opinion, it doesn’t taste like caramel, but it is pretty good.

I have a few more things I hope to do before school begins again on Monday. I can’t actually complain about break because I’ve enjoyed it, but I am looking forward to having a schedule again. Hopefully the next time I get a break, I will spend even less time sitting on the couch like a giant slug.

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