Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 2016 | Spotify Playlists

Hello!

 As I said in my last post, I was thinking of creating monthly Spotify playlists to show my music favorites rather than monthly item favorites. So, I have created my first music playlist of the new year!

 I think I will post my playlists on my blog towards the end of each month, because I will be adding music as the month goes on. I thought I'd go into depth on some of the songs that have some meaning behind them; I hope you enjoy! Here is my January 2016 playlist:

Full Circle | Quinn XCII
The Rain | Aer
Gold | Years and Years
King - Acoustic | Years and Years
Love Yourself | Justin Bieber
Here - 2:00 AM Version | Alessia Cara
The Girl - Acoustic | City and Colour
Bloodstream | Ed Sheeran
Heartstrings | Leighton Meester
Loneliness | SIAM
Safe & Sound | Taylor Swift ft. The Civil Wars
End of the Day | One Direction
Electric Love | BØRNS
Breezeblocks | alt-J
I Hate U I Love U | Gnash ft. Olivia O'Brien
Hollow | Tori Kelly ft. Big Sean
Camouflage | Selena Gomez
Raise Your Glass | Dena Deadly
Dream | Imagine Dragons
Dopamine | BØRNS


The Rain | Aer - My neighbor drives me to school every morning and she has the best music taste. Her music is so good that I've created playlist strictly for songs that play in her car. You can listen to it here! Anyway, when I heard this song I instantly fell in love with it. 

King - Acoustic | Years and Years - I'm a very, very big fan of Years and Years, so when I discovered there was an acoustic version for King, I freaked. It's so gentle, pure, and definitely carries a lot of meaning. I've noticed that I interpret the meaning of lyrics more when listening to the acoustic version of songs.

The Girl - Acoustic | City and Colour - You may know that a couple months ago I finished the show One Tree Hill. It was without a doubt one of the best shows ever. This song was performed by City and Colour live for one the episodes and because I love the show and characters so much, this song holds a special place in my heart. Again, I love acoustic songs!

Bloodstream | Ed Sheeran - I listened to this song for the first time while in Israel after shuffling Troye Sivan's Sweet Stuff playlist. I love it.

Loneliness | SIAM - This song played when I shuffled one of Jack Baran's playlists. I think the lyrics are really special and are quite deep. They kind of made me reflect on modern day society. Plus, Jack has some of the best music taste.

Electric Love | BØRNS - Garrett Borns is probably my favorite artist in January (apart from Charlie Puth, who just came out with a new album that you must listen to!). Electric Love is such a good song to try and sing. Notice I say "try" because I have no clue how he hits those high notes so perfectly.

Dream | Imagine Dragons - My friends and I had a Star Wars marathon earlier this month because I had never seen any of the previous movies and boy am I a HUGE fan now!! I stayed up all night watching Star Wars vines and edits. My absolute favorite was an edit of Anakin and Padmé with this song playing in the background. Every time I watch it, I end up crying. Both the scenes included in the edit and the song itself add up to so much emotion. So, naturally, I played the song on repeat for days on end. Star Wars is such a beautiful and intricate saga. If you haven't watched any of the movies, I definitely recommend them!

Dopamine | BØRNS - Another favorite form Garrett's album. The chorus is really fun to sing in the shower, lol. It also reminds me of learning about neurotransmitters in Psychology ;)


 I love this playlist so much and can't wait to make more! I think creating playlists for any time of the year, feeling, event, etc. not just a specific month, is a great way to express yourself through a unique outlet: music. I can come back to this playlist later and be reminded of January 2016's events. I've already started my February 2016 compilation :) If you want to follow me on Spotify, my username is harel00. 

 Let me know if you have a Spotify or any playlists you want me to listen to!! Also, if you listen to any of these songs, tell me what you think in the comment section!

XOXO
Harel

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Our Own Mental Diary

Hello!

 Exam week is O-V-E-R! Well, at least for first semester it is. I'm coming to you today with something that has recently become very important to me: my eyesight.

 Today I tried contacts for the first time. Good news - I love them! I put them on and took them out correctly on my first try (pretty proud of that as I was kind of scared, haha). I've had glasses since age 7. I've gone through about 4 different pairs, and the ones I have now are the ones I am most happy with. Even though I love them, recently, my glasses have sort of become a shield.

 Every time they're on, I feel restricted, in a way. It feels as though they are blocking me from seeing the world (clearly) through my own two eyes - even though with out them that wouldn't be possible. I know they are what help me see better and I know that they can be very beneficial when I'm squinting, trying to see what the board says when I'm in the very back of the classroom, but the feeling I got when I put the contacts on was indescribable. I felt like everything was clear - not just the tangible things right in front of me.


 Now, there are probably a few different things that could be going on in your head: One, contacts are just like glasses, just physically on your eye, so aren't they a shield, too? Two, glasses don't seem like "shields" to everyone who wears them. Three, what the heck are you on about?

 I get that what I'm saying may sound a bit strange, but through wearing these tiny, plastic things, I have realized how amazing sight truly is. I walked outside, wearing my contacts, to take the trash out. I looked up and was actually in awe at how amazing the world looked. It was a feeling I had never gotten with my glasses. I had perfect vision, with out having to wear frames on my face - and I was so utterly happy.

 Some people wear glasses and love them just as much as I love contacts. That's awesome! Today I came to the conclusion that I love contacts because they give me a new perspective. It felt so good to open my eyes and be able to read the bulletin board across from me with out having to put on my glasses. Yes, I realize you probably still don't get what I'm saying.

 I've said this before, but my blog is an open and free space I go to to express my thoughts/what's going on in my head with out having to worry about judgement. So, I thought I'd put this out there because it's what I'm feeling and I was just really excited in those few moments I was outside, lol.

 That moment, when I walked outside and looked up to be met with a clear picture of trees and skies, I realized that when we look at anything, we've basically just written a diary entry. Everything around us has it's own beauty and it's so cool that even if we haven't taken a photo of the scene, it was still "written down." That fascinates and excites me.

 It's not just our eyesight. Anytime we hear, smell, touch, taste anything we've basically written in our mental diary about it. Some people might say, "You're just describing our memory system - encoding, storage, retrieval, blah, blah, blah.." But it's more than that. Our senses put together are like a diary that we can look back on whenever we want - I mean, how amazing is that?

 Thanks for sticking to the end of this weird, yet (hopefully) insightful post.

 My 7 year old sister, Danielle, suggested writing about this topic when I was out of ideas. So, thanks Dani.

 Thank you for reading and I'll talk to you soon.

XOXO
Harel

Thursday, January 14, 2016

7 Tips to Ace Exams

Hello!

 First off, sorry for my absence the past week. Finals have begun for this semester and I've been busy, busy, busy. Busy studying, that is. We are halfway through with exams, though! So far, so good - I am confident in myself and am not too worried.

 How are you? Have you had exams/any stressful school or work (or anything in general) situation recently? If you want to rant or talk, you can e-mail me or leave your message in the comments :)

 Because it's exam week where I go to school, I thought I'd do a post about my exam tips/advice!

   1. Don't Cram

 Sometimes, I am guilty of this. The only thing that ends up happening as a result of cramming is me stressing and wearing myself out. In my AP Psychology class, we learned about the spacing effect - if you rehearse knowledge more frequently and over a long period of time, you will learn the material more easily. Cramming might keep the knowledge in your mind for a day or so, but studying several times over a longer period of time will produce a better retention rate.

   2. Use Resources (Online and Off)

 The Internet is such a vast place. You can find textbooks, worksheets, notes, diagrams, practice tests, and so much more - all through your computer screen. I will usually find a released exam of the subject I am studying for and complete the practice questions. It can sometimes give me an idea of what I'll be tested on/the format of the exam. You also have class notes. Those are probably your best bet. For example, I took the practice quizzes in my Psychology workbook to test my knowledge and read through my World History notes to refresh my memory.

   3. Get Enough Sleep

 The night before exams began I got a good amount of sleep (for a teenager, lol). Last night was a whole other story. I slept a lot less and it definitely had an impact. I could still remain focused on taking the test, but I was yawning constantly and fell asleep once I had finished. Sleeping allows your body to recuperate, reenergize, and get ready for the next day. It's important that you are awake, focused, and concentrated while taking an exam. It is recommended that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep each night, but we all know that isn't a reality. Go home, get done what you need to get done, and put your body to rest.  

   4. Power Boost Breakfast

 I am someone who eats breakfast every single day. Some people don't, and I don't get how. I love breakfast. I'm sure you have all heard that it's the "most important meal of the day." It really is. When you eat breakfast, you are feeding yourself and your brain. You're giving your brain the fuel it needs to do it's job - think (among other things). I usually eat scrambled eggs with toast. I'll also usually spread cottage cheese on the toast. Eggs and cottage cheese are protein-rich foods, so they will help you when solving tough questions. If you're a cereal lover like me, and you have to have your cereal in the morning, I'd recommend adding some fruit to it or on the side. I'd recommend some sort of berry.

   5. Hydrate

 This is not just an exam tip, it's an everyday tip. Water is so important to maintain internal balance. Make sure you are drinking water every day, throughout the day. It will refresh you and may even help you regain your focus.

   6. Read Carefully 

 This tip is for when you actually take the exam. On almost every assignment in elementary school, we were told to read the directions. This is probably one of the best pieces of advice ever. Read the question word by word, read every answer choice word by word, and don't skim. While I was taking my psychology test, I stared at a question for 2 minutes because I didn't understand it. When I went back to the questions that I left unanswered, I read it again and realized I completely missed a word that was essential to the question, and I was able to find the answer with ease.

   7. Use A Variety Of Strategies
 
 Whether it's process of elimination, annotating/marking up the text, summarizing the passage, writing down all your formulas in the first page of your booklet, or highlighting key words in the question, use tools to help you come to a conclusion on which answer is correct.

   8. Manage Your Time

 Where I go to school, our exams are timed. We have to get the test done in x amount of time, so it's important that we set ourself realistic time limits for each question. Look through your booklet, judge how much time you should spend on each question, and try to stick to that. If you're stuck, skip the question and come back later! You don't want to end up with a bunch of blank circles on your answer sheet because you focused all of your time and energy on a few questions.

   8. Don't Stress!

 Lastly, don't stress. Exams are not (I repeat, not) the end of the world! Sometimes, I definitely feel like they are. But in reality, that's not the truth. Do the best you can, put in all of your effort (into both studying and actually taking the exam), breathe/take mini breaks while testing if you feel overwhelmed or frustrated, and remind yourself that: it will be over soon, you'll be free once it's done, and you did the best you could - so there's nothing else you can do.

 I (try) to use all of these tips while taking exams. They might seem simple, but they definitely do make a difference. I hope they helped, or will help, you.

 Good luck on exams if you have them!

 Thank you for reading and I'll talk to you soon.

XOXO
Harel

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Welcome to the New Year

Hello!

 Welcome to my first post of the year 2016! I am so excited to embark on another year of blogging and am so glad you will be joining me!

 I had some ideas of posts I wanted to write this year, and changes I wanted to make to my blog. That is what this post is for. I'm just going to list the different ideas I have in mind, and would love to know what you think in the comment section.

 ***

 As some of you may know, I went to Playlist Live Orlando (a YouTube convention) last year with two of my very best friends! And all three of us will be going again this year. Last year, I documented the adventure with three separate blog posts about my experience - one for each day of the convention. I am definitely going to write those posts again this year for my second year attending Playlist Live. I will probably also film a few videos with my friends about Playlist Live tips and tricks + a survival guide. Leave a comment below if you'd be interested in reading/watching those posts and videos!

 I also want to continue with my high school post series. I say series, but there is currently only one post in it. Basically, I plan to write a post at the beginning of each year of high school (with my anticipations, expectations, predictions, feelings beforehand, etc.) and then one at the end of each year (experience, tips, feelings afterward, etc.). I've already written my first post about freshman year which you can read here, and in 2016 I will also be writing my post-freshman year post and my pre-sophomore year post. Through these posts, not only do I want to document my high school experience, but also help some of you with common issues teens have.

 Another thing I plan to do this year is video-hauls. As of now, I've hit the pause button my YouTube channel (apart from the Playlist videos). But, I still want to do hauls. What I'm thinking is, filming a haul, making it "unlisted", and only putting the link on my blog. I feel like I can express what I want to say in hauls better if I'm talking it out + I can show you the product/clothing item/accessory better if I am holding it up and you are seeing it in video form. What do you think of the video-haul idea?

 As for favorites posts, I may do seasonal favorite posts rather than monthly. That way, I will show you what I have been loving/using nonstop during that specific season. 

 I know Blogmas 2015 just ended, but I thought I'd put this in here because it seems fitting. I do plan to take part in Blogmas 2016. I don't know what will happen in a little less than 12 months, but as of right now that is the plan.

 I also want to start writing more posts about music. Music is one of my biggest passions, and I want to share that passion with all of you. I want to discuss different types of music with you, and introduce each other to new artists and genres. Maybe instead of monthly tangible item favorites, I will do monthly music favorites - kind of like monthly playlists!

 I think I will add the poll feature back onto my blog. I'm not sure where I will put it up yet, but I want this blog to be an interactive space for you all. I will put up a new question (probably) every week and I think it will be a fun way to see everyone's interests, opinions, etc.

 Finally, I might buy a blog template in the future. It will change the appearance of my blog and make it look more professional. I also might screenshot a couple options and ask you guys what you think!

 ***

 Right now, that is what I have planned for 2016. I cannot wait for all of these future posts! Please let me know what you think of my ideas in the comment section and add any idea you have as well!

 Thank you for reading and I'll talk to you soon.

XOXO
Harel

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Hello!

 Wow. Today is the final day of the year 2015. This year has gone by unexplainably fast. Although, I feel like there were some moments throughout this year that I thought 2015 couldn't go by any slower, haha.

 I thought I'd do the New Years tradition of listing my resolutions for 2016. These are things that I truly want to change and know that if I make these changes I will be happier with myself, and happier in general.

 So, here are my New Year's resolutions for 2016:

♡ Stop letting other people control me or make my decisions for me
This year, I found myself letting other people influence me in ways I didn't like. Even so, I let them take over. Not in very serious matters, but smaller things. Even so, those smaller things are important to me and I want to be someone who is independent and can think for themselves. In the new year, I am going to take control of my life.

♡ Make more conscious decisions
This kind of goes along with the previous resolution, but I want to make more conscious decisions and become more aware of, well everything. I find myself always getting distracted and not paying attention to things I should be. So, along with making my own decisions, I want them to be smart decisions.

♡ Continue to explore new things
In 2015 I began stepping out of my comfort zone. I actually wrote a blog post on this topic a while ago; you can read it here. Anyway, the joy I got out of doing things I wouldn't normally do was exhilarating and I want to continue feeling that feeling.

♡ Start being more positive and find the light in dark situations
Whenever I have a problem, I go to my mom. And she always seems to have the right answer - no matter what I'm coming to her with. She always looks at the glass half full and sometimes I can't understand how, haha. But I want to do the same - stop focusing on the negative and wasting my energy on things that don't matter, things that already happened. I want to have the mindset of - If there's a choice between looking at the dark or bright side, which there always is, why would you choose dark?

♡ Lastly, enjoy life. I don't think this one needs much explanation. 

 What are your resolutions for the new year? Leave them in a comment below. I hope you have an awesome, bright, and safe new year! Here's to 2016; lets make it a great one!

 Thank you for reading and I'll talk to you in the New Year!

*computer hug*

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Grandma's Cookie Recipe

Hello!

 It feels kind of weird not inserting my Blogmas banner at the top of this post, haha. If you didn't know, I blogged every day in December up until the 25th (a.k.a. Blogmas)! And I had a little Blogmas photo at the top of each post :)

 Anyway, today I am bringing you the recipe for my grandmas classic cookies. They're simple and plain, but she makes them every time we come to Israel, sends them to our house when we are not in Israel, and always has a jar full of them in her kitchen. So, as we made them together the other day, I thought I'd share the recipe with you. Plus, it's been quite some time since I did a food/baking post!

 My Grandma's Classic Cookies:

 You will need:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
3 packets vanilla sugar (or, if you don't have it, vanilla extract to taste)
2 packets baking powder (or about 4 teaspoons)

*We didn't use an exact "cup" measurement. We took one small glass and used it for every ingredient so it would be the same unit of measurement. But, you can use an exact cup if you'd like or what ever you have lying around.*

 Also, this recipe makes about 70 cookies. Yes, you read that right - 70. Even though that sounds like a huge number, they are fairly small and in our house they are finished like that! Maybe that's because we don't get to eat them that often, haha. Anyway, you can freeze some of the dough and save it for another time if you don't want such a large number.

Step 1: Pour the flour, vanilla sugar, and baking powder into a large bowl. Although we put flour in first, my grandma says it's actually best to put eggs in first (and all other wet ingredients) and gradually add in the flour.


Step 2: Add in the eggs and oil.


Step 3: Finally, add in the regular sugar. Our recipe says 3/4 cup sugar, but you can increase or decrease that amount to your preference. 


Step 4: Mix, mix, mix! We used our hands, which did not take long at all before the dough formed, but you can use a mixer if you choose. Mix until a dough has formed; it shouldn't be very sticky once it's done and should form one large ball. Knead the dough to make sure it's smooth and all the ingredients are completely mixed/blended.

I got an action shot of my grandma mixing, lol.

Step 5: Form the dough into (very) small balls/pieces. Just pinch off a piece of dough with two fingers and that should be enough! 


Step 6: Roll out each ball into a wormy shape. Make sure it is not thin enough to break off into two pieces. 


Step 7: Bring both ends of the dough worm (lol) together to form a circular shape and pinch the ends together.


Step 8: Line two trays with baking/parchment paper and place the cookie dough on it. There should be a small bit of space between the cookies, but you don't need much because they do not expand a whole lot.


Step 9: Bake at 180° for about 15-20 minutes. Make sure to watch your cookies and take them out of the oven just as they turn a golden brown color and have thickened up (picture below); the time will vary so make sure you keep an eye on them because we ended up burning part of the second batch :( 

before
after

Step 10: Let the cookies cool for around 10 minutes. Here is what they look like once they are out of the oven. On the outside, they have a sort of airy texture with some little bubbles (as I like to call them)/dots.


Step 11: We put our cookies in a big jar and tied it off with some polka dot ribbon :)



 That is it for my grandma's classic cookies! I loved making these cookies and I also loved writing a recipe/baking post; I hope you enjoyed! If you decide to make these cookies, let me know!! I'd love to see pictures. Thank you for making these with me, grandma <3

 Thank you for reading and I'll talk to you soon.

*computer hug*

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year - Blogmas Day 24


Hello!

 Wow, the final day of Blogmas 2015! Writing posts 24 days in a row has been so much fun - I've been able to test myself and see if I could come up with enough ideas to last the whole month, lol. All of your lovely comments motivate me to keep going and I have loved reading all of your wonderful posts as well, those of you that blog.

 We are only 8(ish) days away from the new year! I thought I'd sort of reminisce about the events of 2015. One of the biggest was going to Playlist Live Orlando with two of my best, best friends. That was an experience of a lifetime, and I can't wait to go again next year - only 120 days!! I also started high school this year, which has been both good and bad. But, more on that on the post I will be writing at the end of freshman year. My blog also celebrated its one year anniversary this November. I didn't think I'd get this far when I wrote my first post more than a year ago, and I am so thankful to those of you who have been there since the beginning, since the middle, even since right now.

 I hope 2015 was an amazing year for you, but I also hope 2016 is even better. I guess I'm speaking to both you and myself, haha. If when you look back at this year and all you think of is bad memories, focus on making 2016 the best year ever, filled with happier memories. Who wants to recall their past when they're older and only remember the horrible things that happened? I know I don't, so I'm going to try and put those bad things behind me and remain focused on the beautiful things I am blessed with - the happy things. That's pretty much a New Years resolution, so I'll have to keep my word ;)

Happy (almost) New Year!!

 To everyone who has celebrated or soon will be celebrating the holiday season, happy holidays! As I said yesterday, I hope you are all in the company of those you love and long to spend time with. Cherish and appreciate the time you have together. That time will hopefully be one of the happy memories you look back on in the future!


 Thank you, again, to all of you; my readers. It means the world that you take the time to click on my blog link or type in the website and read what I have taken out of my brain and put out on the internet. If any of you have a blog, make sure to link it below in a comment, so I can give back to you and read your amazing words. In this new year, I will be working to expand & improve my blog and I hope you will continue to join me on this magnificent journey.

 Yes, this post was kind of sappy and heartfelt, but nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed.

 Well, that is it for Blogmas 2015. I will talk to you again probably in a couple days in a new post! I won't be blogging every day (until next December I'm guessing), but don't you worry! You will be seeing more posts from me soon!

 Also, I've added falling snow onto my blog! On your phone, it will probably look like the snowflake emoji (on iPhones, at least), but on computers it looks like red snowflakes of different sizes. Sadly, I don't know how to change it so they will look the red ones I programmed them to look like on phones, but here's a picture just so you can see :) They will probably stay up through February - I think they make my blog look quite festive!


 Thank you for reading and I'll talk to you soon. Happy Holidays! xx

*computer hug*

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