Sydney Swafford

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Sydney Swafford is a sophomore at UNC Charlotte pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree accompanied by a Women's and Gender Studies Minor.

DIY: Clay marbled jewelry dishes

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

In an effort to make this Mother’s Day more memorable than the last 19, I wanted to go hand made. If your mom is like my mom, then she still has the macaroni picture frames you made her in kindergarten. After finally forcing her to get rid of those tragic time pieces, I decided to make up for it. I came across this clay marbled jewelry dish DIY on Pinterest and wanted to give it a try in order to make this Mother’s Day extra special. These small clay dishes are simple to make and fun. Plus if you’re not artistic there’s no way to go wrong because every imperfection makes the piece unique.

I needed only two products in order to make this DIY happen, oven-bake clay and a glaze. Sculpey III is the brand of oven-bake clay that I bought at Michael’s for about $12. I bought a pack which includes 12 different one ounce bars of clay in a variety of colors and instructions on the back that specify how to bake the clay properly. Michael’s had a huge variety of packs and individual bars of clay in almost every color I could think of. The only other product I needed was a satin glaze to paint over the clay dishes when they’re finished so that they’re shiny and smooth. The satin glaze I bought is also Sculpey brand and is 1 fluid ounce, which was more than enough for all of the clay dishes. Additionally, for a little extra detail, I used a bronze sharpie marker I had laying around to write initials in the bottom of some of my dishes and outline the rough edges on some other ones. Although it’s not a necessity to get the DIY done, the sharpie detail makes the project more personable and cute, so I would definitely suggest picking up a color or two. Some tools you’ll need are an oven safe bowl, knife, paint brush and rolling pin. These will all be used to help shape the clay and bake it.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Roll 1/2 of a clay bar into an 8″ long snake. Do this with two to four colors of clay.
  3. Twist the snakes together and roll into one larger log. The marbling effect should be able to be seen once rolled into the larger log.
  4. Fold the larger log in half and continue rolling to create more marbling. Repeat as desired.
  5. Roll the log into a ball and begin flattening the ball with your hands.
  6. Once semi-flat, roll the clay thinner and thinner to desired thickness with rolling pin or other round object. I left my thickness about 1/4 inch.
  7. Cut out a circle using a plastic lid or bowl of desired size and put excess clay aside or use for extra detailing.
  8. Place the cut out carefully into an oven shaped bowl. Make sure it’s the exact shape and size desired because after baking there’s no way to change it.
  9. Bake the clay for about 15 minutes depending on thickness. Be sure to look at the specific instructions on your clay.
  10. Let the clay dish cool completely, then flip the bowl over and extract the clay dish. Some of mine got stuck so I left the bowl upside down for a few minutes and let it fall out.
  11. Add sharpie or paint detailing as desired.

I was very pleased with my finished product, but next time I would definitely step it up a notch. If I were to do this DIY again I would change several things. First off, I had a ton of extra clay from the cut out stage that could have been easily used to make cute shapes or extra detailing on each dish. Also, I would’ve found things around my house with different patterns and textures and made imprints on some of my bowls. A lot of people on Pinterest used lace doilies to make imprints in the pottery which looks amazing once finished. Another detail I could’ve changed is the shape of the bowls. By using cookie cutters, the shapes of bowls are seemingly endless.

A look inside Radio Free Charlotte with Katy B.

Photo by Jeremy Bohannon. Used with permission.
Photo by Jeremy Bohannon. Used with permission

UNC Charlotte junior Katy Brabham is hosting a new radio broadcast called “Sting!” that allows students to unwind through music and conversation. Every Monday from 2-3 p.m. Brabham takes over UNC Charlotte’s student run radio station, Radio Free Charlotte, in the hopes of connecting with fellow classmates and brightening their mood for the rest of the week.

Finding free time is one of the many challenges all college students are faced with. Taking advantage of small moments can make a huge difference in overall attitude and happiness. Whether you’re stuck in traffic or trying to focus while finishing up some work in the library, a great way to combat time is listening to the radio. Listening to great conversation and soothing music played by Brabham will help students and faculty relax and destress for the beginning of the work week.

Through Brabham’s one-hour broadcast she doesn’t limit her topics of conversation. Leaving the door open to any and all current discussions, she encourages students to text, tweet and call to talk about difficult situations, funny stories and events happening local to campus. In between breaks in conversation, Brabham hand picks songs that she says, “either helped me feel inspired, helped me when I was feeling sad or put me in a really good mood.” Motivated and encouraged by family and friends, Brabham wants students who listen in to feel included, safe, unjudged and a part of something. Brabham has always wanted to become involved with broadcasting and is excited to be living out her dreams here in Charlotte. Charlotte provides the perfect mix of busy city life full of new experiences while still holding onto that hometown feel everyone yearns for.

Photo by Jeremy Bohannon. Used with permission.
Photo by Jeremy Bohannon. Used with permission

If you’d like to become involved with broadcasting or Radio Free Charlotte, Brabham suggests being personal in your approach saying, “If you physically go in person and show that you have dedication, it’ll really resonate with people how serious you are. You’ll most likely get the opportunity you want, and you’ll usually be the first person they go to if they need help with something, which can only help you further.” The Radio Free Charlotte office is located in the Lower Level of the Student Union, or email radiofreecharlotte@uncc.edu for more information.

If you missed “Sting!” this week, try catching it next week by downloading the Niner Media app in the app store. This will give you free direct access to Radio Free Charlotte any time, any place. If you’d like to know more about Brabham or her show, feel free to contact her directly through email at kbrabha1@uncc.edu and follow her on Twitter, @KatyBrabham or Instagram, @katybrabham.

Photo by Jeremy Bohannon. Used with permission.
Photo by Jeremy Bohannon. Used with permission.

Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet Kristen Baker

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

“It is an honor to be Panhellenic President because I am finally able to show our campus that not all sorority women are the same. I’m a sorority woman, but I’m also independent, ambitious, outspoken, an activist and a feminist—I don’t think any of these attributes are mutually exclusive. I’m proud of who I am, and proud to defy stereotypes. I hope that someday feminism is synonymous with sorority, and that I always shock people who underestimate me.”

Winter recipes: German chocolate cookies

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

I’ve been trying to stay away from everything greasy, salty, starchy and sweet. My resolution for the New Year is to lose weight like so many other Americans. But unfortunately there’s this thing called Pinterest. Pinterest forcefully thrusted upon me this recipe for German Chocolate Cookies. I’m also not a fan of cake, so this recipe was truly calling my name. If you’re looking for the delicious flavor of traditional German Chocolate Cake but want an easier and faster way of getting it, this is the recipe for you.

It’s really difficult to find a unique cookie flavor. Everyone either makes traditional chocolate chip or sugar cookies. This recipe is surprisingly easy and delicious, making it the perfect treat for any party, family gathering or Netflix and chill date. Not only will the flavor impress your guest, but the look of the cookies is impressive with little effort.

Cookie Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Topping Ingredients:

1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 heaping cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 ounces chocolate, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Once combined until smooth, add egg, egg yolk and
  4. Mix together the two bowls, adding chocolate chips when desired to make a thick dough.
  5. Drop tablespoons of dough onto lined pan and bake until done, approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes, then an additional 10 minutes on wire racks.

Directions for Topping

  1. In a small saucepan, mix milk, sugar, egg yolk and butter over medium heat.
  2. Let thicken for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Remove from heat and add pecans, coconut and
  4. Let cool until thick enough to spread over cookies.
  5. Once cooled, ice cookies sparingly. Then, microwave extra chocolate chips and pour melted chocolate into a plastic bag.
  6. Cut a small hole in one corner of the Ziploc bag and drizzle chocolate over cookies.
  7. Enjoy!

If you want to make these cookies look their best, try cutting the smallest hole possible on the Ziploc bag in order for you to have more control over the chocolate drizzle. This will allow you to make detailed patterns instead of it looking like someone spilled chocolate on the cookies by accident. If you’re not into the topping that gives these cookies the traditional German Chocolate flavor, try mixing up icing flavors to fit this yummy chocolate base to your needs.

 

New Year’s traditions around the globe

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Photo by Sydney Swafford

Each and every year, at the end of the year, Americans gather together in celebration for the New Year. Even though we each have our own corky traditions, it’s about the same from house to house in the United States. Champagne, confetti and party hats are sold off the shelves in just about every store. Televisions are turned on full volume for the party music and celebrations shown across the nation. But have you ever stopped to think about what everyone else across the globe is doing? Does their calendar even align with the calendar most Americans use? As the sun sets on one side of the planet, it rises in another and people celebrate all the same. Below are some of the coolest and strangest, depending on who you ask, traditions and celebrations that happen every New Year around the world.

  1. United States of America
    The first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square in New York City was held in 1904. Fireworks were a staple the first two years until they were banned in the city. Fireworks are now replaced with a giant ball just under 12,000 pounds that lights the street and slowly drops along the last minute of the year. Celebrations are traditionally accompanied by champagne and kisses at midnight to bring good luck into the New Year.
  2. China
    Although the Chinese New Year is a spring festival taking place over a period of 10-15 days, the good luck traditions aren’t any less exciting. Each New Year is marked by one of the twelve zodiac animals, alternating each year. As the Chinese zodiac symbols recur every 12 years, your zodiac symbol will recur when you’re 12, 24, 36, etc. It’s said that on those years you will have bad luck and to avoid this you must always wear something red. During the festivities, the color red makes more than one mark on the Chinese culture. Citizens are often seen painting their doors red to symbolize happiness and good fortune. Red envelopes with money inside are also exchanged to ward off evil spirits. The most superstitious Chinese tradition for the New Year is to hide all sharp objects like knives and scissors to avoid anyone cutting themselves over the celebration period.
  3. Germany
    As the New Year approaches it’s not uncommon to wonder what lies ahead. For countries like Germany and the few surrounding, molten lead holds the answer to their questions. Heat up lead in a spoon and then when it’s melted pour it into a cool glass of water. It’s said that the shape the lead takes once it’s hardened will determine what kind of year you’ll have. Although the shapes are open to interpretation, some traditional beliefs include heart shaped meaning love, circular shaped means good luck, anchor shaped means you’ll need help along your yearly endeavors, and a cross shape means you’ll see a loved one’s sad demise.
  4. Denmark
    Ever smash a plate on your neighbor’s door? Yeah, me neither. But, for the Danish this is a yearly occurrence that doesn’t make your neighbors hate you. Smashing plates is a symbol of loyal friends and whoever has the most smashed plates, glass, cups and more is considered to be the luckiest because they have so many loyal friends. Another tradition expressed every midnight is jumping off chairs. At the stroke of midnight, in unison, everyone jumps off the chair they’re standing on—literally jumping into the New Year.
  5. Spain
    If you don’t like grapes, then Spain is not the place for you on New Year’s Eve. The twelve grapes of luck are an old tradition throughout the country where at the stroke of midnight everyone eats twelve grapes off of a stick in representation for the twelve new months ahead. In most cities there is a bell that strikes twelve times and people eat one grape with every bell stroke. If there isn’t a bell, you can catch a TV broadcast of the festivities.
  6. Mexico
    Just across the border in Mexico you’ll find a ton of residents carrying around empty suitcases on New Year’s Eve. These suitcases symbolize the many adventures and travels ahead in the New Year. Keeping their suitcases empty will leave room for all the new fun.
  7. Scotland
    Also known as Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year is a celebration that takes place under the second day in January. The most popular tradition is the first-footing. The first person to enter the house after midnight, ideally a tall, dark man, brings gifts and good fortune to the household. If you’ve recently had brain damage, you might consider joining in with locals as they take a cool dip in the sea. Locals gather for the chilly event to help raise money for local charities and have some giggles along the way.
  8. Puerto Rico
    Rolling a coconut around your house and then throwing it into the ocean is considered good luck in Puerto Rico. Children also take buckets of water and toss them out of their windows at the stroke of midnight in representation of washing away evil spirits.
  9. Japan
    At the stroke of midnight, Japanese residents will hear bells ring across the nation exactly 108 times, representing the 108 earthly temptations one must overcome to reach N The Japanese also slurp down extra-long noodles in symbolization of longevity.
  10. South Africa
    If throwing old furniture out your window is your idea of fun then you might want to make the trip to South Africa. Be careful walking down the streets on New Year’s Eve, because citizens will actually toss out the old in favor of the new. Authorities have reported seeing large appliances falling from high rise apartments and so much more. If you’re looking to laugh, it’s worth a Google search.

25 unique gifts for the holidays

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

We can all admit we’re not the best gift givers. Without the time or money to go searching and spending on that perfect gift, we’re bound to disappoint. But look no further then this guide to gift giving for every forty niner. Whether you’re in need of a last minute gift or don’t want to break the bank, this list provides a ton of unique and inexpensive holiday gifts for everyone on your shopping list.

  1. Hair Tie Bracelet
    Hair ties too tight around your wrist? They’re annoying and painful. So, if you’ve got a girl in your life, help her out by getting her this cute yet functional way to style a necessity. The product comes in silver, gold and rose gold, and can be found here.
  2. Wall Phone Holder
    Make life a little bit easier by using this nifty pouch to help keep your plugged in devices organized, off a dirty surface or use it as a night stand, found here.
  3. Anti-Slip Ice Shoe Grips
    Wearing these on your shoes is a lot less humiliating than falling down the mountain of ice that is UNC Charlotte in the winter time. The product was tested in Norway and ice approved, found here.
  4. Accessory & Flat Iron Holder
    Between all the bobby pins, makeup brushes and hair styling products there is way too much crap to carry back and forth to shared bathrooms and to have any open counter space. This great product will help, found here.
  5. Cord Organizer
    Unruly cords everywhere is a controversy every college student has and it doesn’t help if you’re a little OCD either. Help destress that OCD friend by buying this cord organizer for a clean look, found here.
  6. Whisker Dam for Moustaches
    For that one friend who participates in no shave November year round and often gets confused with the Monopoly Man, help protect his moustache, found here.
  7. Oreo Dipping Spoon
    Just buy this one for yourself, found here.
  8. Doggie Rain Poncho
    Dogs are people too, this dog gear can be found here.
  9. A Personalized video of a guy covering himself in condiments
    Just send this one, no questions asked. This strange guy can be found here.
  10. Carolina Reaper Pepper Growing Kit
    Make your winter a little bit hotter, literally. See how much heat your friends can handle with the hottest peppers in the world grown right in your apartment, found here.
  11. Star Wars Han and Leia Towels
    Couples are people too and the new Star Wars movie comes out on December 18th, found here.
  12. Lego Mug
    Help friends procrastinate while doing homework by giving them this irresistible mug they’ll want to play with instead of focusing, found here.
  13. A Christmas Story Leg Lamp
    Traditions should never be lost, so if you can’t fit a Christmas tree through your door fit this lamp instead, found here.
  14. Corgi Calendar
    A corgi a day keeps the doctor away, right? Everyone needs a new 2016 calendar anyways, so here’s a cute way to gift it, found here.
  15. DIY Christmas Sock Making Kit
    Weird socks are always a necessity. Buy a few pair and grab a pizza with some friends for a holiday party, found here.
  16. Otter Tape Dispenser
    Okay, I don’t have a reason for this one but you can find it here.
  17. Minecraft Torch
    Set the mood with this Minecraft torch. Use it as a lamp beside your bed or freak your building out by starting to walk around with it 24/7, found here.
  18. Nontoxic melt-in-your Hand Gallium
    Hopefully you’re good enough friends with the person you’re gifting this to and they’ll let you play with it. We all want to experience the chemistry, found here.
  19. Bloody When Wet Bath Mat
    Buy this and don’t tell your room mates, found here.
  20. Pyro Pet Melting Candle
    Whether you want to be festive with the reindeer candle or get something more year round friendly, like a cat or bunny, these candles will last even after they’re melted, found here.
  21. Nose Body Wash Dispenser
    Not only will this help stop the soap from falling, but it’ll help get a laugh from all your guests, found here.
  22. Loch Ness Monster Ladle
    Slyly tell your roommate to cook for you by getting them this cute stand-alone ladle, found here.
  23. Polaroid Camera Toilet Paper Holder
    Film majors and minors unite, found here.
  24. Random Carp ‘Organizing’ Bag
    A slick way to tell your roomie to clean up their stuff, found here.
  25. Fish Apartment
    No furry pets on campus is a sad reality. If you’re desperate for affection get a gold fish and hook it up with its own apartment, found here.

Kick-start to a healthier new year

Like many of you, I am guilty of following gym buffs on Instagram because I’m envious of the bodies they have. However, weight and muscle aren’t always an indication of good health. We all need to focus a little more on improving our bodies both inside and out. During the holiday season, it can be hard to get to the gym and eat healthfully with all the home cooked meals and baked goods. By not focusing on the number in between our feet, and instead focusing on small improvements, we can all start the long trek to good health. Grabbing a head start on New Year’s health goals can help improve exam scores and help you to be in a better mood to start out the upcoming semester.

Water encompasses over 60 percent of the human body. The brain alone is made up of 92 percent water, making your cognitive abilities dependent upon water intake. The daily recommended water intake is 64 ounces of water. Like most, I don’t even get half of the recommended daily water intake. Setting goals is the easiest way to force yourself to do better. Try telling yourself you can’t have any juice or soda until you’ve had at least two full 16 ounce water bottles. This will help enforce rules and keep your body on track. If there’s no way to get down the daily recommended amount of water because it’s just too boring, try adding flavoring packets to help ease the pain. Making this small change can cause an initial five pound drop in water weight your body has been storing for safe keeping. Another tip to improve water intake is to buy a water bottle that holds 64 ounces of water. These water bottles are relatively cheap and can be found on Amazon for about $5, or with UNC Charlotte logos at the bookstore for less than $20. These are great stocking stuffers for your gym partner to help them get a kick start on their long lasting results.

Just like water, sleep is an essential part of human life. The right amount of sleep not only improves signs of aging and brain function, but also reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease. With cramming in procrastinated assignments and study sessions, sleep may not be a priority. The recommended amount of sleep for the average college student is between eight and nine hours. Obviously sleeping this much just isn’t feasible sometimes, so to improve sleeping habits, I’ve come up with these tips. Try setting a recurring alarm on your phone telling you it’s time to get ready for bed. This gives a warning of how late it’s getting while still giving some time to do some last minute things before bed. If getting more sleep just isn’t going to work, try improving sleep quality by showering at night or testing out essential oils for sleep. One known essential oil used in aromatherapy for sleep is lavender. Lavender helps alleviate headaches and reduce stress. Stores like Bath and Body Works sell aromatherapy lotions, soaps, candles and more in order to help improve sleep quality. Another good option is to try buying local and handmade essential oils from sites like Etsy.

Snacking. This word can be very good or very bad, depending on the time of day and type of food involved. Everyone should set a time when they’re going to stop eating for the night. Making sure this time isn’t unreasonable and giving yourself a little lenience when cramming for that one test is important. A healthy hour to stop the intake of food is about 6 p.m. Give your body time to process the foods you’ve eaten that day before eating more. Timing isn’t the only key here, portion size is also an important factor. Eating more frequently and in smaller quantities will help your body process foods more efficiently and keep you less hungry. Binging on unhealthy foods will only make you hungrier, so try to eat consciously. Also, as we’ve all heard a thousand times, get rid of the junk foods. Instead of eating chips, try snacking on popcorn. Replace all the cookies and crackers with healthier options like cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, celery, fruits and nuts. Making small changes like these will help improve bodily function, mood and weight loss.

Finally, go to the gym. Next time you’re dying to watch one more episode of “Blacklist,” try walking on the treadmill while watching instead of sitting in bed. Although this won’t help major weight loss and muscle improvement goals, the changes will be noticeable. Instead of taking the bus, try walking to class, and instead of walking to campus, try investing in a bicycle. Biking is faster and much more beneficial than walking. These changes will push you closer to those long awaited results.

The media can be deceiving, so knowing that health doesn’t mean you look like a Kardashian is important. Being healthy is much more than just weight. Know your limits and improve them through some of the tips provided above. If you’re wanting to really kick start your health, try talking to the nutritionist on campus who provides free help to UNC Charlotte students.

Fall recipes: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Cheese Ball

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

Thanksgiving is a day when all gather around a table full of home cooked dishes and desserts, visiting with family and friends they haven’t seen in months. Make sure you don’t show up empty handed to a loved one’s house this holiday season by making this simple dessert recipe that yields enough servings for a huge family of twenty. I found this recipe for a Reese’s peanut butter cookie dough cheese ball on Pinterest and had to try it. It looked so good and like nothing I’ve ever tried before, so I figured I’d give it my best shot.

The recipe is really easy, but make sure to have enough time for all the freezing before your party arrives. The whole process takes about four hours, with only a half hour of actual mixing and stirring on your end. I made this for some of my friends for a board game night and we devoured it. The final product was great, but I tweaked the original recipe slightly for more flavor and overall look. The size of the cheese ball is very large. Paired with vanilla wafers, the ball could probably feed about twenty people as a good snacking item paired with other desserts. It’s much more filling than it looks and has a very strong peanut butter taste. The primary ingredients are all peanut butter based so I would be sure your crowd approves before bringing it to Thanksgiving.

My recommendations for this recipe would be to freeze it, not refrigerate. I tried both ways with the leftovers and it gets too mushy and falls apart in the fridge. Keeping it in the freezer helps it maintain shape and forces you to make small scoops for a longer lasting treat. My other recommendation would be to make sure the butter and cream cheese are fully thawed before starting to mix the dish together. I had to soften my butter in the microwave and its consistency was much softer than it should’ve been.

I will one hundred percent make this dish again. It’s easy and delicious. I’m a huge fan of Reese’s Pieces so I thought it was a fun and tasty touch to cover the cheese ball with them. This dish will help you fool friends and family into thinking you’re a professional chef and keep the holiday drama to a minimum.

Ingredients: ½ cup softened butter, ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup peanut butter, 1 package softened cream cheese (8 ounces), ¾ cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 ½ cups chopped mini Reese’s peanut butter cups and 1 cup Reese’s pieces.

Directions:

  1. Mix softened butter and brown sugar until consistency is even throughout.
  2. Add in the cream cheese and peanut butter and continue to mix until fully combined.
  3. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla to the mix until you get one thick mixture.
  4. Chop up peanut butter cups and stir them into the mixture.
  5. Place the mixture into plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 ½ hours or until firm.
  6. Take the firm cheese ball and roll it in Reese’s pieces until completely covered. Be sure the displayed side of the ball has the most candies for a presentable look.
  7. Place the covered cheese ball back into the freezer for about two hours or overnight for the next day. Let thaw for a half hour before serving.

Local wonders: Coffee Cone Café

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Photo by Sydney Swafford

Nestled right on the outskirts of the University, Coffee Cone Café is a hot and steamy hit for the local community. Half coffee shop and half ice cream parlor, this cozy spot is one of the best hidden secrets in Charlotte. Located behind Exon in the University Plaza shopping center on University City Blvd., it makes a quick morning stop on the way to class.

The owner greets customers with a friendly smile and happy hello every time the door swings open, knowing the regulars and meeting the new comers. Workers are more than educated on menu items and happy to say they could combine anything I wanted into a handmade drink. Their prices are low and their quality is worth the investment. It took a good five minutes to decide which of the twenty plus flavors to choose from. The weekly specials and holiday themed items were tempting, but I decided to go with pistachio nut. I ordered a small latte to find the cup is double the size of Starbucks’ tall size and over a dollar cheaper. The pistachio nut flavor was scrumptious and mouthwatering, making me wish I had ordered the largest size. On my most recent visit, I ordered the seasonal flavor of gingerbread and was pleasantly surprised. I’m not too big of a fan of the spice flavored drinks, but I think this is my new favorite. It’s got a subtle spiced undertone with the traditional coffee flavor and a strong hint of cookie, making the latte sweet and savory. Alongside the seasonal flavor of gingerbread, they just got in eggnog and fresh apple cider to help feed your sweet tooth.

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

If you’re not a coffee person, don’t worry. The diverse menu includes teas, hot chocolate, milkshakes and smoothies. They also have more than 24 soft serve flavors of ice cream and homemade paleo inspired ice cream for those weird, all natural people. Make sure to look for specials advertised on their Facebook page prior to leaving the house so you don’t miss out on any great deals. If there aren’t any Facebook deals going on, you can also grab a customer rewards card when you pay. The customer rewards program allows customers to collect stamps based off of the number of drinks they buy. Once you collect a certain number of stamps, you earn rewards like free drinks. The cozy couches are the perfect spot to sit back and finish some studying or charge your phone and laptop while enjoying free Wi-Fi.

If you’re a coffee or ice cream lover, stop in to try the treats available at Coffee Cone Café. The comfortable and welcoming atmosphere make a great place to sit back and enjoy the aromas of fresh brewed coffee. If you enjoy what you’ve ordered, make sure to like their Facebook page and give them a review so others will know what to order too.

Restaurant Review: Sabor Latin Street Grill

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

Dalton Espaillat had a craving for the delicious Latin food from his upbringing. Disappointed that the Queen City didn’t have any authentic Latin American street food, he opened Sabor Latin Street Grill outside of Uptown Charlotte in order to bring his heritage to the area. After trying my first empanada at the UNC Charlotte International Festival this past month, I became obsessed to say the least. Like Espaillat, I found it surprisingly hard to find authentic Latin food in Charlotte until I stumbled across Sabor. This fresh and authentic street food grill will wow anyone willing to try it.

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

The whole parking lot smells like you’re actually in a Latin country when you arrive at Sabor. I went on a Tuesday, and I’m glad I did because they celebrate Taco Tuesday every week by selling tacos for only one dollar. I tried the beef and cheese empanada with one authentic taco. The beef and cheese empanada was mouthwatering, but could’ve contained more cheese to have an improved balance of flavor. The taco, on the other hand, was perfect. The beef tacos contain toppings of onions, cilantro and a lime wedge that added outstanding flavor to the hot beef and salty, soft shell. But I couldn’t stop there. Before saying goodbye, I ordered churros with strawberry ice cream, their only dessert item. The churros were filled with a Bavarian crème, and mixed with the flavors of the strawberry ice cream miraculously. I’m not one for any kinds of fillings in doughnuts, cakes or anything really, but this filling didn’t over power the crispy cinnamon crust, making it a wonderful end to any meal.

With brightly painted wall murals, updated décor and cute small town touches throughout, the ambiance is warm and welcoming. The only downside to Sabor is the size of the restaurant. I’ve been twice and both times the parking lot was completely full–and I mean completely full. Not only is parking limited, but the tables inside and outside are also constantly slammed. Although it is worth the wait, if you’re not looking to wait for parking or a table, I would order online or call in a to-go order instead. The easy to use online menu is an amazing added feature that makes eating at Sabor a delight. Sabor also offers several vegetarian options including beans, veggies and tofu in place of meats. I’m rating Sabor 4.5/5 stars. I was a little disappointed with the empanadas’ lack of cheese and the overcrowding, but the food is fresh, fast and well-priced. My boyfriend and I were able to leave with a bill less than $20 including dessert and drinks, which is almost impossible these days.

The radiant smells, friendly staff and fresh ingredients make this a must visit spot in Charlotte. This past August, Foursquare rated Sabor the number one place for empanadas in Charlotte, and I won’t argue. With three locations in Matthews, Charlotte and Indian Trail, Sabor has a relaxed environment that takes your mind away from the rush of city life and into the lifestyle south of the border.

App Review: Beautylish

beauty titleMakeup has always been one of my favorite things to experiment with. Trying new daring colored lips or attempting and failing, to highlight my face has always been a fun getaway for me. I think my makeup peak like most adolescent girls was in mid high school. Pinterest gave inspiration for outfit ideas and color combos while YouTube was my tutorial go to for all things hair and makeup. It was honestly a little annoying to have favorited videos, pinned pins and shared messages with all the different styles I wanted to test. It wasn’t until I stumbled across an advertisement for an app called Beautylish that all my beauty needs were finally in one spot. Beautylish is a free app that connects pictures, videos, reviews and so much more on all things beauty related. This app is truly every girly-girl’s dream.

IMG_7542When signing up for Beautylish, you are asked for eye color, skin tone, hair color and texture to help personalize all videos, products and photos to people who actually look like you. This personalized approach is shockingly successful. All of the YouTubers I follow ended up on my Beautylish feed. The videos section encompasses various videos from hair tutorials, makeup routines and holiday specials. The photo section very similarly shows selfies, hair, nail art and sometimes just artistic beauty. All of the products talked about or tagged in the videos and photos end up in the review section. This section allows beauty gurus to rate the products on a five star scale so you don’t waste money on unworthy products. If you’ve fallen in love with a specific item, try going to the brands section and looking at all the other rated products made by the same company. Not only can you search rated brands and products, you can easily add them to your cart and purchase them right on the app. Editorials are also linked—through this section you’re able to read Buzz Feed type articles about beauty and how it relates to you. Finally, the last section, Talk, is a forum where users like you and I can ask questions and get opinions on beauty secrets they have tried.

All in all, Beautylish connects users together easily and internationally to provide the best reviews and resources for all things beauty. I rate this app an easy five out of five because it’s free, has a sleek design and I use it almost every day instead of scrolling Twitter for hours on end. The app allows you to put your voice and opinions out there while simultaneously getting great feedback from trusted users.

Resume 101: language, design, color and what NOT to do

resumeI’ll never get the job I want. That was my first thought after taking a look at my leftover high school resume. Butchered format, colorless and less than a half a page, I had nothing to show for all my hard work. Some of the emptiness was on my part. I wasn’t as involved as I probably should’ve been, but on the other hand I just didn’t know how to make a resume. Apparently neither did my high school teacher when she slathered a red ninety-eight on the top of the page two years earlier. After researching the what to do and not to do of resume building, I thought I’d share my new found knowledge to help every college student’s resume standout.

Design is key. After reading hundreds, maybe even thousands of resumes, whoever’s reading about you needs something to catch their eye. Don’t get confused. This doesn’t mean fluorescent paper and cuss words, which have worked in the past for some people. The best way to catch someone’s eye is with soothing colors and linear design. People automatically organize everything in their brain, which is why song lyrics get stuck in your head and why babies can differentiate between languages before they can even talk. Having a layout with an equal design on both sides of the page will help the mind be attracted to the resume. Keep everything on the page symmetrical and don’t let anything become off centered. If you’ve got more than one column on the page, make sure to keep them similar in length for a clean look. Make sure all the text has similar spacing and any lines dividing the page are the same size and proportional to the page. Never use more than two colors. Stick to one or two main colors with the black font and white page. If you don’t want color on your resume, try making the resume unique with a personal design. I would never put a photo of myself on my resume for multiple reasons, but it seems to be a popular trend. Since I’ve never used a resume with a photo, I can’t say whether it’s better or worse, so do what you think is best based on your personality and research, as well as the job you’re applying for. If you’re sticking to the classic no photo look, think about the placement of your name instead. Placing your initials in the top left corner looks sleek and will make your resume stand out. I wanted my whole name so I made a dark charcoal banner at the top with my name centered in the middle. Make sure to accompany your name with your contact information.

A general rule to resume building is to keep it to one page length. If you’re one of those flourishing individuals, try cutting the page length down by lowering font size, cutting out less important high school information, or eliminating headers. I’m sure you’re all familiar with Times New Roman and probably a little tired of it as well. Although many resume writers suggest sticking to the old school font, I much rather prefer sans based fonts, including Open Sans and Slab Sans. These fonts aren’t so boring but will still carry the reader’s eye along the page. Stick between 10 and 12 point fonts. Going a little smaller than the standard 12 point is fine if you’re cramming everything in, but don’t go any bigger than that, it’s better to have your resume look less developed than like a Dr. Seuss book.

There should be three to four section headers. These are what divide up your resume for easy reading. My resume is split up into three: Experience, Education, and Skills. Other popular sections are Leadership, Objective and Awards. After every section, you’re going to put all your previous jobs, accomplishments and skills into bullets. Keeping things short and sweet will let your resume be read quickly and easily. Remember to always tell the truth, because it’s important to be yourself. Of course you want to show off all you’ve got to offer, but if you don’t have much to offer, don’t worry. Focus on categories like Objective and Skill and highlight what you could offer instead of previous accomplishments. If you’ve got too much to offer and your resume is becoming way too long, try getting rid of sections like Objective and putting them in your cover letter to save space. Don’t dwell on any high school accomplishments less important than your college accomplishments.

The thesaurus is your best friend. Changing sentences like ‘gives good feedback’ to ‘generated feedback to improve company efficiency and employee success’, will make the biggest difference. Start by writing down everything you’ve done in your life. Volunteering, education, previous and current jobs, etc. Don’t worry about the language you’re using until you’ve got everything written down in casual language. Reword all of the casual inexperienced language to make your resume seem advanced and adult. One of the best resources I’ve found and used is one hundred and eighty-five powerful verbs. These verbs are organized into groups based on their usage and can be found here.

If you’re still confused on what to put and not put into your resume to make it the best your employer will receive, search online for example resumes to look at. Looking at examples always helps me conceptualize the information I hear. If you’d like someone to look over your resume from a professional viewpoint, check out the University Career Center located to the right of Atkins Library.

Fall Recipes: Halloween Bark

Photo by Sydney Swafford
Photo by Sydney Swafford

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I’m finally allowed to play dress up, carve pumpkins and indulge in way too much candy. With Halloween approaching fast, I wanted to make a dessert that would be easy to make and take on the go. My sweet tooth is unreal, so I decided to make a chocolatey treat I call Halloween Bark. This recipe is fast and super easy to make for a late night snack or last minute party treat every chocolate fanatic will die for this Halloween.

You will need to buy Melting Chocolate, Oreos, Candy Corn, Pretzels and Sprinkles. I bought milk chocolate because I’m not a big fan of white chocolate, but you can easily change to your favorite type of chocolate to make this recipe more personalized. You can use melting chocolate or you can use chocolate chips, I personally find melting chocolate easier to use and harder to burn than chocolate chips. I also used white chocolate covered pretzels because I thought it would add an extra yummy flavor into the mix instead of plain pretzels. Most grocery stores are currently selling Halloween Oreos, which are just regular Oreos with orange colored filling. The orange filling adds more color to the mix and makes this treat really feel festive.

Ingredients: Melting Chocolate, Halloween Oreos, Candy Corn, Pretzels, and Sprinkles (optional)

Supplies: Brownie Pan, One Bowl, Wax Paper, and a Refrigerator

Directions:

  1. Start by placing the desired amount of broken Oreos, broken pretzels and candy corn into a bowl and place to the side. Broken pieces should be about the size of a nickel for easy eating.
  2. Line the brownie pan with wax paper. Make sure the wax paper will not allow any melted chocolate to escape onto or out of the pan.
  3. Place one package of melting chocolate or one bag of chocolate chips in a bowl or pot and melt according to package directions.
  4. Pour melted chocolate into lined brownie pan. Make sure the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout the pan for even pieces of bark later on.
  5. Take bowl with mixed crushed ingredients and sprinkle the pieces into the melted chocolate. The chocolate will harden relatively quickly, so make sure to do this step in a timely manner.
  6. Sprinkle the sprinkles on top of all the chocolate for an added touch.
  7. Place brownie pan into the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour or until hard.
  8. Once hardened, lift wax paper out of the pan. The chocolate bark will be one large pan sized piece of chocolate.
  9. You may now cut or break the bark into bite sized pieces for snacking.

With every new recipe, there are mistakes. I personally started by laying all of the crushed ingredients at the bottom of the pan and then poured the melted chocolate over them. This really covered up the Halloween colors in the Oreos and candy corns and I found myself adding more colored pieces to the top. Once I added the color to the top, it turned out really cute looking, but did take some extra work on my part. The next time I attempt this, I will try pouring the chocolate in the pan first and then placing the crushed pieces on top. Another essential tip I would take is to make sure the chocolate is spread thin, some parts of my bark were very thick and nobody wants to bite into that.

Flavors are the most important part of any food or drink, so I was a little worried that all the different flavors wouldn’t blend. I was pleasantly surprised with the overall taste of the bark. I love the salty sweet taste when you hit a pretzel the most. But one of the best parts of this recipe is its ability to be customized. Not only can the creator add whatever their favorite ingredients are, but they can theme this bark to fit any holiday or event. Buying colored melting chocolate or different colored Oreos and candies can easily change the whole look and flavor of this treat.

Op-Ed: Gender Socialization and Guns

A group of young women console each other during a vigil on Oct. 1, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore., after a shooter opened fire at Umpqua Community College, killing 10 people, including the gunman. The attack reignited the debate over gun control in the United States. (Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard/Zuma Press/TNS)
A group of young women console each other during a vigil on Oct. 1, 2015, in Roseburg, Ore., after a shooter opened fire at Umpqua Community College, killing 10 people, including the gunman. The attack reignited the debate over gun control in the United States. (Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard/Zuma Press/TNS)

With the unfortunate shootings that occurred at Umpqua Community College at the beginning of October, heightened talk about gun violence has raised much needed attention. But how is it that the conversation about gun violence, regardless if you’re on either side of the argument, is never directed at the real problem? Gender.

98 percent of shooters are men. 86 percent of armed robberies are committed by men. 77 percent of aggravated assaults are committed by men. 87 percent of stalkers are men. 86 percent of domestic violence incidents involving physical injury are perpetrated by men. 99 percent of rapes are committed by men. 90 percent of murders are committed by men. I think you get the point I’m making here. Women make us more than half of the human population, so where are they when all this crime is happening and why aren’t they committing as many crimes? Men are the main perpetrators and it’s not because they have more testosterone or because they play more video games. It’s because they’re men. Men in the United States are raised to toughen up, not to cry and be the bread winner, when in reality these standards of masculinity are absurd. In modern society where boobs are over-sexualized to the point where women can’t breast feed and advertisements are photo shopped to unrealistic Barbie bodies, gender socialization is the real issue. Gender Socialization is the process of knowing and following one’s prescribed social roles. For example, men are the breadwinners and women must wear makeup. Although these socializations are challenged every day, they’re still rather prominent in America and around the globe.

Young boys in America are automatically taught to toughen up and not to cry. They’re taught not to express their feelings and if they do that somehow makes them less of a man, jeopardizing their sexuality and masculinity in the eyes of other men and women. Boys exhibit characteristics like posture, risk taking, and gratuitous violence to keep up with and compete with other male dominance. Males put on a constant hyper-masculine performance to show they’re still men regardless of everything else that has been taken from them. We see this reinforced through GI-Joe biceps being expanded over double their original size in the last fifty years and the accepted brutality of women see in all kinds of media outlets. With society constantly pushing this manly bravado onto young boys, how can we expect them to grow up normally without any emotional issues? Normal boys will grow up thinking they have to be tough and move on. Others may grow out of the boys will be boys stage and learn they don’t have to be manly at all to be a real man. But, unfortunately there is a small percentage of boys who grow up over-conforming to these definitions and expectations of manhood. This small percentage of individuals are the group that inflict violence.

The exploitation of male and female insecurity promotes the continuation of gender socialization in the American culture. Violence is a taught behavior. Babies are not born throwing punches, buying guns and being tough. Gun violence is solvable. Through teaching young boys being a man isn’t different than being any other gender, young boys will grow into men being themselves and not a Godfather look-a-like.