Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Part 1, Complete!

*Warning! I realized after writing this that it has tons of food references so if you're fasting, you should probably avoid this post until after Iftaar :)*

Ramadan Mubarak! :) The first third of summer is done and the second third will now be full of fasting, family, and other activities. Normally my summer is about 2 months long, but this year with the transition to university I'm looking at about 2 months still left in my vacation!

The first month or so that has passed could probably be classified as relaxing and full of family time. I got to spend lots of time with my sister's son. I *think* he likes me :p It's fun because he's only 8-9 months old so he's slowly learning to do things like crawl, stand up, and walk soon Inshallah! Seeing his skill set grow is very cool. He also makes the cutest faces that can brighten up anyones day!

He didn't own any shoes until recently so I convinced my sister to buy these! Aren't they adorable? He's not always a fan of wearing them but at least he doesn't have to be barefoot in formal events now :p
Along with hanging out with the baby nephew, I've obviously been spending a lot of time with my sister who is here for a while. We went shopping a few times, as well as eating out or just grabbing a McDonald's Mocha Frappe on our way back from something. It was funny because the days before Ramadan my sister really wanted to make sure we enjoyed our last few days of eating out for a while, so we had Taco Bell and pizza and Mocha Frappes! :)

My favorite Pesto Cavatappi from Noodles and Company! We discovered this day that the Green Fanta is REALLY good. :)

So much starbucks! I'm not actually a huge Starbucks fan, but this is from when I went to Orientation for college and all of us group of friends got some Starbucks.

The fun thing about summer is that you can experiment and have fun with home eating too. I've been drinking TONS of Tapal Jasmine Green Tea! I don't know why I became a Green Tea fan but I'm pretty sure I've had more of it this summer than just plain chai.
Mango Milkshake/Lassi sorta! First time making it so it wasn't amazing (very cold!) but still pretty good.
One thing we've done for years now is make Strawberry Banana smoothies whenever strawberries come into season. I think we started doing that because we got a blender which came with a ton of smoothie recipes so we thought we'd try one and this one really clicked. We've perfected the recipe for our tastes over the years so it normally is really good!

Two big cups of halved strawberries, 2 bananas, milk covering the two, 2-3 generous scoops of vanilla or strawberry ice cream, a cup of ice, 2+ big spoons of sugar, and you have a really good Strawberry Banana smoothie!

I also remembered a few weeks ago that there was still Almond Bark in the closet from when I made Oreo Cookie balls. So I melted a piece and had chocolate covered strawberries, bananas, and apples! It was sooo good :) Who needs a chocolate fountain? haha

This June also had TONS of weddings. My sister was joking that there were no unmarried people left in or our state. :P We went to several of the weddings and had fun seeing the different combinations of American and South Asian traditions. I feel like every desi wedding here has at least some American wedding part in it, whether it was 'bridesmaids' or assigned seats. It's also a lot harder to maintain some simple traditions, like rose necklaces (which have to be made by hand; most people just sew together roses instead of rose petals). But in the end getting to see months of planning being put together is always fun. :)
Pretty centerpieces!

One of the weddings was my best friend's sister. So my sister did her sister's henna, and I did my friend's! (This is one of the designs I did)

My sister's amazing henna/mehndi! 

The thing we've done least this summer is take walks around our neighborhood. But the weather has still been quite beautiful so when one of the parties we went to was at our local community center/mosque, my sister and I took a bit to go outside and swing on their swingsets. :P
Swinging awayyy :)
There's kind of this joke among my family because when I was younger I really wanted a swing set. But my dad refused because he said I'd only use it for a few years before growing out of it. Plus all my siblings were way past swingset age so it wasn't like I had younger siblings who would use it. But now I always joke that I would *still* use the swingset and I still love swinging. :) Which is true...I'd be fine with an "adult" porch swing too though :p

Silverware dispenser at my college that I was very amused by :p

And that's been my summer so far! :) I had Orientation last week so the past week has been a lot trying to tweak my fall class schedule and not drive my crazy over it.

Listing out med school requirements, major requirements, AP class credits

I wish the following month of Ramadan is full of blessings for all of you! Inshallah may we all find peace and guidance in this month. I also hope all your fasts are easy yet rewarding during the hot summer months! :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Open Houses!

One fun thing about graduating high school is attending tons of open houses! I *only* went to about 10, saying only since most people go to a LOT more and I was surely invited to way more than that. But I dropped by a few of my close friends and really enjoyed the casual, fun atmosphere that inspired good conversation and really closed off high school.

A few of my favorite things about the open houses I attended:

1) Chocolate fountains!
I mean really...chocolate fountains are amazing things. :) My favorite is strawberries covered in chocolate, but I enjoyed the variety of things people had to offer (bananas, pineapple, pound cake).

But really, food in general in open houses is pretty good.

2) Attention to Detail
Take a fun picture of yourself with the polaroid camera and leave a note!

Most open houses take place in someone's home and have a wide array of hours where people can just drop in, say hi, and grab some food. People really go out of their way to make their open houses cute and fun looking though. Above is one of my friend's labels for her cheese! Lots of accomplishment tables and fancy slideshows and picture sequences are found in every house, which is always fun!

3) Good Weather :)

This isn't the most beautiful picture ever's peaceful :)
Beginning of June is a beautiful time here and almost all the open houses I went to had some sort of outside aspect and it was so nice to sit in nice weather with childhood friends with fun food. Good weather just makes your mood so much brighter :)

4) Hearty Conversation
As I said in my previous post, graduation was a bittersweet time for me. Saying goodbye to people and places you've spent your whole life with can be difficult and sad. But spending time with people in these parties and talking about our future plans and other more random topics really created a smooth transition into summer in some weird way. I'm glad that sort of tradition exists because even if graduating High School isn't that big of a deal now, these parties are a fun way just to appreciate the time and experiences we had together. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Graduated!!!

A few weeks ago actually. :) haha...but it was a very fun day as far as graduations go.

The morning started off pretty early. We didn't have classes on graduation day, but we did have to come to school around 9am (one hour after normal school day starts) for graduation practice. I was up much, much earlier than that to finish up some last minute things (finishing up my high school career in the way I did most of it ;) and opened my door early that morning to a very nice surprise...
A great way to wake up early on graduation day :)

"Behind the Scenes" picture my sister later sent
A few funny things about this:
1) Apparently, my sister had wanted to do this on my 18th birthday six months ago, but I was awake way too late that night for her to be able to do this sneakily. I went to sleep pretty early the night before graduation, so she quietly blew up all these balloons and did this! It is technically Pinterest inspired but she decided not to use a trash bag, and it was much nicer that way.
2) I'm a pretty sappy person and was not excited to graduate like every other person. I love my High School and all the experiences I've had during the 4 years, so I was basically tearing up all through graduation week. But opening the door to this fun surprise made me smile/chuckle, and that was nice. :)
3) My sister obviously has magical breath because these balloons are stilled blown up...3 weeks later.

After finishing up some stuff I actually first went to my former Intermediate school to visit my 6th grade teacher. It was an interesting experience, one because upon walking into her classroom it seemed like her day brightened up a lot to see an old, familiar face and that made my day. Then after talking to her for a little bit I dropped into another old teacher's room and all her 6th grade students were so awed at me because the teacher made a huge deal out of my rank and stuff and it was a weird moment because I remember sitting in those same desks in 6th grade thinking of graduation being soooo far away. It was like a weird mirror into the past, realizing all that lies ahead of these 6th graders and how far I'd come.

After that was graduation practice! We were escorted by police cars as we traveled in 12 buses to the place our graduation would take place. I was pretty convinced we would mess something up because no one seemed very serious at practice...haha. It was also moment I realized I don't mind not seeing some of those people ever again. :)

After practice we were dropped off at the High School, and I said goodbye to my dear HS for the last time. :'( It's weird that you spend hours upon hours in a place for years, and then all of a sudden it's the last time you'll ever be there.
Yeah I blacked out the school name... :)

Then my friends and I went out for lunch! :) I love Panera but I totally ordered the wrong type of salad...I meant to order Greek and got Caesar, which is basically just lettuce. Oops. (#FirstWorldProblems) Oh well, it was a very enjoyable lunch with a bunch of great friends.
BAD SALAD. But I still love my favorite Med Veggie :)
After lunch and some ice cream it was time to go home and get ready! In true Maria fashion I didn't leave when I should have and got stuck in some wonderful traffic. We're not in like LA where traffic is terrible everyday, but you should really leave early on graduation weekends when thousands of people are headed the same place you are. :p

Yay traffic. Hey it's my favorite building!
But my friend and I weren't actually that late because a lot of people were just hanging outside the check-in place with family. :)
Picture of the lines of graduates waiting for the ceremony to begin!

I actually really enjoyed our ceremony. I've been to all 4 graduations during my time in High School (my brother's and then 2 for this volunteering ambassador program) and I thought mine was the most entertaining, but that might have just been because it was my own. Everyone seemed to have so much personality on stage and we gave a standing ovation to a student who graduated that has down syndrome (I believe, not 100% sure) and that was a very sweet moment.  With over 600 students to hand diplomas to in less than 2 hours, it's notable when people make fun faces on stage or we take a moment to give a standing ovation to a deserving individual!
Before I went up

After I went up :)

Being artsy? haha 
I left near the end when the whole place was nearly empty and quiet and it was almost a weird foreshadowing (?) closing to High see it go from super crowded/hundreds of people to completely empty, dead silent. Normally this is the very last school thing for graduates, but due to all the snow days we had, we had on more Senior event the following Monday where we got to see each other.
Last school event, Senior Breakfast!

And that was the end of my High School career. It really was an amazing time full of great people and opportunities, and created a strong base for wherever I go next. Now I have about two months until I head off to college and travel new paths. :)

Graduation Flowers from family :)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Exams, Estudiar, and Ends

These are kind of in a random order so sorry about that. But here's some random updates from the last 2 months :)

Studying studying studying and more studying for AP exams. This is an Econ practice exam I believe (supply/demand graph? haha) with my fun tricolor pencil

Drew fruit outlines for my nephew and discovered my drawing skills are pretty terrible :D

There is a canal walk about 30 minutes away from my house that is really nice to walk through. My parents and sister went on it a few weeks ago and also got this beautiful picture :) 

Filling out biodata for exams. This question is always funny because technically I know English waaaay better than Urdu (considering I fluently write, speak, read English whereas I can only fluently speak Urdu and reading/writing is like 2nd grade level) but occasionally still put this slightly false answer :p

The biggest event the Student Government at my high school does was in April. It's a Dance Marathon for our local Children's Hospital. This year we raised $23,900 which was's bittersweet to do something you've done for 4 years for the last time (although the college I'm going to raises million for the same cause through the same event, but I'm not sure if I'll be involved with it there).

One thing that really helped us raise $23,900 was a video that got national news attention and ended up raising about $4,000 alone. This is a shot from above when ABC News wanted to record us for their #AmericaStrong segment...very very cool.

We went on a Field Trip to an international market nearby called Jungle Jims. They had sugar cane! It was really cheap so I bought one green and one purple one...ironically the green one (which is the more common variant in Pakistan) was not as sweet as the purple one. Florida Sugar Cane is different I guess?

New phone! :) haha which may be why i have more random pictures from just the last 2 months alone :)

After AP Exams = how several classes will be now. (others find this the perfect time to bombard us with projects :/)

End of AP exam celebration! AP Exams are ~3 hour exams for AP classes. If you pass an AP exam, you can get college credit for that specific class which equals money and time saved. After 2 weeks and 7 exams, several of my friends and I went to Orange Leaf (Frozen Yogurt!) after school to celebrate. :) Only 2 weeks until graduation!

End of class = Maria completely lost in her phone. haha...

Pesto Cavatappi (spelling? haha) and Thai Curry Soup from Noodles and Company with my sister. :) This along with Qdoba and Panera are some of favorite places to eat out together. Fun stuff

Next time this type of post comes along it will probably be filled with COLLEGE COLLEGE COLLEGE. :) Only two weeks until High School graduation! It's a bittersweet time that is flying by...interested to see what the next several months bring. :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Food, Fun, and Frostbite

School hosted a food drive early December that I helped organize/ to participate in community heartwarming events things like this. This is a pic from the last day from the winning teacher who brought like 1,000 food items on the last day alone. :)

A "Christmas tree" I made to decorate the display case with info regarding the Food Drive. Pretty decent for not having a clue about Christmas Trees, right? :p
Got accepted to my fav college :) :) :) They sent the acceptance letter sealed with a WAX SEAL. Obviously I'm a bit easily impressed's soo cool! Now it's just a matter of getting scholarship money so I can *hopefully* go there!
PUPPY CHOW/MUDDY BUDDIES ARE SO GOOD. For those who don't know, it's Chex cereal covered in a chocolate/peanut butter mix and then rolled in powdered sugar. SO. GOOD. finally made some! :)
Birthday was in adult now! That's kindda crazy because the tagline of my blog for so long was "Pakistani American Teenager" and I'm not quite sure if I'm still a "teenager" now. Does that end at 18 or 20? Anyhow, i find it cute that Google "makes" a Google Doodle for you on your birthday if you're logged in
Part of the college process is scholarship apps! One of the scholarships I found was design a greeting card, so I thought of doing a henna-y Christmas Tree. Sister said one on left is better...gonna add some color and submit it soon :)
Sometimes you get bored and spell your nephew's name out of his kid lego things. :) (I've been trying to teach him to spell/recognize his name for like 2 weeks and it's...a slow process. haha)
My sad snowmen friend :p all my friends were busy so I went sledding ALONE (I know, sad life :p) and made myself a friend...hehe. The snow wasn't as packed this day so that's why it's so...oddly shaped. You can vaguely see the sledding pathways in the background

This is a google automatic GIF affect, but we did get 12+ inches of snow this week! School was cancelled for the whole week (roads just were not clean at all ALL week) so that was nice/made me appreciate school. :p It was so cold earlier this week that they said being outside for 10 minutes would get you Frostbite, so that was a little scary. 

:) Back to school after an extended winter break Monday! Last semester of grade school :'(