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There's no other way to finish the year without reading some classic winter novels. Let's be real, a variety of us probably haven't read in a while, so why not start now! Here are some amazing books that can help you escape reality while enjoying some delicious hot cocoa. 

Snowbound by Harry Mazer

An immature teen, Tony Laporte, decides to teach his parents a lesson after his parents throw out a stray dog he found, by running away to go look for it. On his way, Tony encounters a girl named Cindy Reichert, a hitchhiker, and takes her in. As Tony tries to show off his driving skills, he ends up wrecking the car leaving both of them stranded. From there on out, they realize they have to team up in order to survive.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The story is about a dog named Buck, who is abducted and thrown into the chaos of Klondike Gold Rush to work as a sled dog. As soon as Buck gets there, he seems to be familiar with the wilderness and is forced to fight to survive, while growing more fierce.

Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen 

This is the third book in Gary Paulsen's Hatchet's series, which talks about a young teen, Brian Robeson, whose plane crashes down leaving him lost and helpless. Brian is then forced to learn to survive in the Canadian wilderness with only his hatchet. Even worse, it's winter and Brian struggles to find food and keep warm, he also faces multiple threats of nature, including a bear, mosquitoes, moose, and a tornado.

A Chrismas Carol by Charles Dickens

There is a reason this story is well-liked, there are not many novels that can capture how essential it is to be generous and warm-hearted during the holidays. This novel talks about an old miser, Scrooge, who isn't exactly the best man to invite to Christmas parties. On the night before Christmas, Scrooge is visited by three spirits, starting with his former business partner that died. 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is a tale of an Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago who searches for a treasure buried in the Pyramids. In this adventure, he learns how significant his dreams are and how he should listen to his heart.



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December is the month of festivity and amusement, but it's also the month of stress and anxiety for students that spend hours and hours of studying for their final tests. If you are one of those people and need advice on how to get ready for those tests, here are five steps to help you succeed!

Step 1: Plan your schedule early

Begin by creating a schedule for the day and time that you will be reviewing your notes for your test. Try to plan a schedule as early as possible, like one week before finals week, because it will help you stay organized on how much time you need to spend studying on each subject. Set reminders on your phone or write on a calendar to help you stick to your plan.

Step 2: Study creatively

Create your own study guide, it can help you understand the material better. If you prefer to study with friends or another person to quiz you, make flash cards that have phrases or keywords that will help you remember the vocabulary, then ask them to quiz you. Take advantage of any free peer mentoring programs that are offered or tutoring.

Step 3: Take five

As much as you need to spend time examining your notes, you need to take a break every once in a while so you don't fry your brain! Balance your time to relax, so when you go back to work you can concetrate and memorize more information better.

Step 4: Take care of your body

Make sleep and food a priority. Trust me when I say this, pulling an all-nighter will not benefit you at all, even if you think that staying up to cram in all the new things you learn will help you, it will not. You will most likely forget all the information by the time of the test and you don't want to add more stress. A good night's sleep will help you have complete focus on your test, same goes for a full stomach. Remember to eat to have enough energy, then you won't have to worry about your stomach making weird noises during the exam.

Step 5: Relax

The final step is to relax, do not let panic overwhelm you, it will not fix or help anything. Regardless of how you feel as you work on your test, the key is to stay calm and remember that you have studied and know more than you think you do. Take your time on the exam, a couple of minutes won't hurt if that's how much time you need to look over your answers.

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Waking up on Christmas morning to see gifts under the tree has always been an amusing feeling, but seeing the look of the person you gave a gift to, can truly melt your heart. Although many of us don't have money growing on trees, there are still so many creative ways to give back this holiday without beating up your wallet.

Donate your clothes

Take some time to sort through any clothes of your's or your family members and donate them to Goodwill if they don't fit you anymore and they are gently used. 

Donate your time

A great way to give back, especially if you don't have any money to spend at the moment, is by volunteering. Visit a homeless shelter and meet the people that you will serve meals to or prepare food for. There are several other places you can help out too, and it doesn't always have to be public it can be helping family members or friends too!

Write a letter to the military

This time of the month can be difficult for our heroes, especially since they spend a lot of time away from their family. A small letter showing your gratitude can change their mood quickly, as it reminds them how grateful we are for their service and how much they have sacrificed for us.

Share pastries

Bring cupcakes, cookies, pies, or other baked sweets to your neighbor. Everyone stresses out during the holidays, so giving a small treat to your neighbor, when they most likely need it, can go a long way!

Give small gifts to your local hospital

Many children should be comforted in any way possible when they are going through a sickness or injury at the hospital, a gift like a balloon or a fun toy will for sure break a smile. You most likely will not be able to personally give them the gift, due to privacy policies, but you can ask a nurse to deliver it to them for you, along with the permission of their guardians.

Adopt an Animal

Christmas can be a good time to surprise your family with a new member, or you can just spoil yourself and adopt a furry best friend. If you are a photographer, you can help out too by advertising the animals and showing the public what a wonderful pet they will be.


Recently the Trump administration lifted a ban that prohibited Americans from bringing their elephant trophies from Africa to the United States. Several celebrities, scientists, and other people who are invested in preservation are appalled because hunting can cause these push elephants even closer to extinction. 

They have expressed that hunting is a fiendish idea that will not help benefit conservation. After Trump's announcement, a variety of people tweeted their personal opinions about the situation while sharing links to a series of petitions and campaigns that are against this movement.

Ellen, a comedian, and talk show host devoted the beginning of her show to talk about the endangered species. "Elephants show compassion, sympathy, social intelligence, self-awareness, they're excellent at learning abilities, all things I have yet to see in this president," Ellen said.

Ellen first clarified that by lifting this ban he was encouraging Americans to kill elephants, then ended by sharing a hashtag #BeKindtoElephants asking her viewers to repost it on social media to help her raise awareness.

Another celebrity, Sophia Bush, raged, "Why would Trump do this?WHY?! This sentences defenseless, endangered animals to death. This surely guarantees poaching and the kinds of criminal activity that come with it, which destroys the lives of people as well, will explode again. This is inexcusable."

The president and chief executive of Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, also remarked on the Washington Post that it is, "a venal and nefarious pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry."

Save Our Planet, also declared on Twitter,  "I refuse to stop tweeting about this until it goes viral, this story has to be heard!!! Donald Trump just reversed an Obama-era ban to import elephant remains to the USA."

A numerous amount of people are publishing some old photos of Donald Trump's sons on a hunting trip expressing how inhumane they are for viewing hunting as fun. The world presumes to enrage at this movement but is certainly increasing conscience towards the Trump administration. On November 17, Trump updated the decision of lifting the ban and explained how they are putting the act on hold until they make further research. 


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Whether you're like me who doesn't like to stand in long, horrible lines, and prefers to stay at home to online shop, or you are secretly purchasing items online during work, these are four tips that can help you prepare for Cyber Monday so you don't miss out on any amazing deals!

1. Shopping cart

Just like a list, pre-loading your shopping cart helps you have an idea of what items you're interested in buying, while also comparing several prices for similar items in other places. Loading beforehand also gives you the chance to purchase your things before they are sold out. In the end, it can still get you to check out quickly.

2. Plan B

Having a Plan B is always helpful at times where that big screen TV you wanted, sold out in a second. Look for similar offers and other places the item can be found. Along with your research, make sure you are also checking the reviews and other details to verify that you're receiving a quality item.

3.Register for shopper accounts

Take a moment to sign up for a customer account in advance if you are planning to shop at a store you have not ordered things before. With an account already created, your shipping information will already be on file, and there will be fewer delays when you check out your gifts. This step requires you to fill in some extra information, but it becomes a huge help in transitioning you to your other websites that you are shopping on!

4.Protecting your identity 

Finally, regardless of where you're shopping, it's always important to secure your identity and any valuable information you might have on your credit card. With these steps, you can have a better understanding of how you can shop safely on Cyber Monday. 

-Ensure that the URL has an "s" in https://

-Clicking on ads are riskier, so go directly to the stores you want to shop at.

-Double check the URL on the website just to be safe because there are hackers that can set up fake websites.

-The last step of advice is to use a credit card rather than debit if you have the chance because they have stronger fraud protection.

As you are online shopping, use strong passwords, watch out for bank statements and your credit, and avoid using too much personal information.

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Thanksgiving is usually remembered with turkey dinners, families gathering together, and watching football games. Although we enjoy these things annually, Thanksgiving is meant to be memorable, it's something that needs a touch of our own personal customs. 

Whether it's something new a family is trying out or something they have been doing for generations, traditions make the holiday much more special. I asked some of my friends and family how they celebrated their Thanksgiving, and their responses were unique. 

Thanksgiving stroll

"In my family, we take a walk after eating dinner, because everyone is usually really bloated and in need of fresh air. Regardless how cold it is outside, we will all walk together for an hour or two, until we feel like going back outside, other than that we just enjoy being together having long conversations and strolls!"

Tablecloth of memories

"Growing up as a kid, I moved a lot, so we definitely had a variety of friends, and we always had Thanksgiving dinners with a lot of different families, and the sad part was that we hadn't remembered all the people we had encountered along the way. One Thanksgiving, we bought two to three tablecloths and asked any visitors we had over for dinner, to sign their name and share a memory they had with us that they were thankful for. We have been doing this for five years already, and it's one thing I'm always grateful for every year."

Cultural film night

"My family and I watch Nollywood, which is Nigeria movies, and we eat popcorn, candy, soda, for a whole 18 hours. No turkey or big feast, just our Nigerian movies and a variety of different junk foods." 

Classic Thanksgiving toast

"In the morning we all wake up and eat breakfast while watching the Macy's parade, and we say one toast before breakfast for the things we are grateful for. As the day goes on we watch football, while cooking dinner. Once the sun goes down, all the food is prepared and laid out on the table. We pray and raise any drink we have and say the second toast of the day, then we feast as a family."

Thanksgiving adventures

"No one in my family really liked staying at home, we liked to go out most of the time. One year ago we began a tradition where we wake up six in the morning and we drive downtown to visit any new exhibits in museums. After, we return back home around 8 to have dinner."

However your family decides to celebrate Thanksgiving, make sure everyone gets a taste of what this beautiful holiday is in your family.

What is the main reason your family celebrates Thanksgiving ?
You are encouraged to vote and also add your comments.

The Trump administration verified an announcement on Thursday, that it is permitting hunters to import the remains of endangered elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia to the US legally. In 2014, a rule was made by the Obama White House, banning all elephant trophies hunted in these two African countries, to be brought into the US.

The Law was created at first because there was a significant drop in the elephant population in Zimbabwe, and it benefited the conservation of the species that were going extinct. Now, that law has been reversed by the federal government for the purpose that it will help enhance the survival of the species. 

Although the African bush, also known as the African Savanna elephant, is at risk of becoming extinct, a provision under the Endangered Species Act allows the government to give permits to hunters so that elephant ivory can be imported if, it can be proved that the sport plays a role in conservation.

The permit system is strict in quite a few African countries, where trophy hunters will have to pay large fees in order to have permission to shoot elephants, rhinos, lion, and leopards. It was also stated that a significant source of revenue can come from those fees.This idea has had an international counteraction, the Animal rights group and several others were triggered at the Trump administration's move.

The President and Chief executive of the Humane Society of the US, Wayne Pacelle, stated on a post on his blog, "What kind of message does it send to say to the world that poor Africans who are struggling to survive cannot kill elephants in order to to use or sell their parts to make a living, but that it's just fine for rich Americans to slay the beasts for their tusks to keep as trophies?"

Earlier around 2015, in Zimbabwe, a famous lion, Cecil, was killed in a contentious hunt by Walter Palmer, which caused many people to call for the dentist to go to prison and create petitions in order to spare the lives of thousands of animals from cruel deaths, including these threatened elephants. A petition to ban trophy hunting ha already received 146,000 signatures.

Trump's adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, are big game hunters who could benefit from this rule change, the two were photographed in a hunt in Zimbabwe, 2012, where it revealed both of them posing with the carcasses of various dead animals.

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We all have our comfort foods, it comes in all smells, shapes and sizes, would it be wrong to share another one to add to the list? Lately i've been having a thing for Tinga tostadas, just like many other recipes, it's not as complicated to make and will without doubt, satisfy your tastebuds. This authentic Mexican dish is made with delicious chipotle sauce, onions, tomatoes, shredded chicken and refried beans, all piled up on a crispy tostada, that will serve up to ten people!


1-2 chicken breasts

2 cups of chicken broth

2 cans of diced tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic  

2 large onions

chicken flavored bouillon

1 can of refried beans

2 tbs. of olive oil (to fry the onions and tomatoes together )

chipotle sauce

A blender

salt and pepper (optional)

as many types of toppings as you prefer!


1. Place chicken breasts in a large pot and add enough water to cover it 

2. Set stove to medium or high, and in the pot you add one spoon of chicken flavored bouillon, and half an onion to add flavor. After you've added those ingridients, set the stove to 30 to 40 minutes to boil.

3.While the chicken is boiling, set the stove to medium and pour 2 tablespoons of oil. After that, dice the other half of the onion we used and saute on a large frying pan until the onions have browned around the edges. Start to add 3 cloves of garlic, then 1 can of diced tomatoes, stir occasionally for 5 minutes. 

4. As that mixture is cooking, Take out a blender and put in 3 tablespoons of chipotle sauce, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 2 cups of chicken broth, and blend for 1-2 minutes.

5. After you have blended the mixture, pour it in the pan with tomatoes, onions, and garlic and let it boil for 5 min. After 5 minutes add the chicken already shredded, and stir the chicken into the sauce until warmed through, and boil for 40 minutes.

6. To finish up, smear the delicious, warm refried beans on a tostada, then the chicken mixture, and top with cilantro, cheese, cream, lime for a little more flavor, and any other toppings you'd like.

7. Last step would be to enjoy!

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Have you ever heard of a cafe with it's own holiday? Now you have, Norma's Cafe celebrates their most famous food, chicken fried steak, on October 26! Although, this would not be possible without the help of Ed Murph, owner and cafeteur of Norma's Cafe, who had a hand in getting the Texas legislative to celebrate National Chicken Fried Steak Day on the 26 of October, 7 years ago. Four years later, Norma's Cafe started a Charity Bus Tour in honor of this holiday, where Norma's Cafe teams up with Dallas Stars foundation giving back to the community by eating chicken fried steak and raising money for charity.

In the past years, Norma's Cafe has raised more than $25,063 for the organization and are very excited to continue these upcoming years to proceed benefiting the community and other programs. In this exciting tour, raffle tickets are sold for a chance to win 2 seats on the bus tour for Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day. Other opportunities are also given, like winning Dallas Stars Platinum Level seat tickets, signed memorabilia, fun merchandise, Norma's Cafe gift certificates such as Pie of the Month Club memberships and Chicken Fried Steak for a year, and more dazzling prizes! Every $1 from the raffle tickets will go directly to the Dallas Stars foundation to benefit the lives of children in need.

Another way Norma's Cafe celebrates Chicken Fried Steak Day, is with a delicious "Dallas Stars Pie" for the beginning of the Dallas Stars Season. This pie is made up of graham cracker crust, green sprinkles, homemade whipped cream, and it's chocolate mint too! Money that is raised from these pies, will also go towards the Dallas Stars foundation. 

With that said, nothing brings people together like good food, and Norma's Cafe of course! They are not just a regular cafe that satisfies your appetite, they're the type of cafe that gives back to the people of Texas and it's customers, once they walk through their doors, they make the people their priority.

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The possibilities of ending up where you desire to be are endless, just like Mr. Young who was taking a different major in college before he realized his heart followed a different path. Family and friends believed Mr. Young was very talented in art, and had encouraged him to choose a career that involved art, although they suggested careers, where his income would be higher than most regular artists, "they said the only way to make money as an artist, was to be a commercial artist, so I started majoring in graphic design, and quickly realized in my freshmen year that I didn't want people telling me what to do with art." Mr. young explained how these types of artists were restricted with their options, "Graphic artists have clients like, Coca Cola or Nike that says I need an advertisement design, here's how we want it, so it was really limited." This influenced Mr. Young to look for a different goal, one that actually allowed him to perceive what he truly wanted to become. It was in Colorado where a couple of photographs caught his attention and really fascinated him, leaving him to take another direction with the career he wanted to major in. Mr. young began to take classes for photography around his sophomore year in college, and it helped shape him to who he is today.

As a visual arts teacher, Mr. Young has a variety of different classes he teaches, and is currently helping one prepare for a big upcoming project. This project is specified for AP students where they create a portfolio that have two sections that includes 24 pieces, 12 are about breadth and the other 12 are about concentration, along with a short artist statement at the end. The concentration photos revolve around a certain theme, and an example Mr. Young gave was how a student he had last year, chose growth as her theme, he stated that, "she explored all the different ways she could represent the idea of growth in photography". The other 12 shots, the breadth section, are not meant to relate to theme in any way, he responded how "they have to show you that you have mastered the ability to make a good photograph". The students would shoot one section during the fall and the other during the spring, and would gather all those pieces at the end to build their portfolio.

When I asked Mr.Young what his main goal towards his AP students was, he responded "To make sure everyone gets a 4 or preferably a 5 to earn that college credit, and so you've learned and gotten the most out of the class than you can". When he talked about his regular students, he mentioned how he wanted them to transfer to AP, to push them out of their comfort zones. In any classes you take, you are always going to have strength and weaknesses, it helps you follow your aspirations even though there are bumps along the way and allows you to strive to do better. Quoting Mr. Young, "As long as your motivated, you'll tend to learn quickly", everyone has potential, it's just a matter of keeping that potential to keep progressing until it becomes a habit.  After listening to Mr. Young's story of how he evolved, and his position as a photography teacher, I want to challenge everyone to continue to explore so you can get to the path that suits you best and use it to help others create paths for themselves.