Accomplishing A Stylish Lifestyle.

I fully believe that anyone can look great or at least good with the right clothing and hairstyle. It doesn’t matter what your body type is, or the size and shape of your eyes/ears/nose/mouth, or how unmanageable your hair is. It’s hard to tell what the right clothing is, though. Especially when you don’t really pay attention to fashion-y stuff, or try to copy other people’s style. That’s not going to work. They (probably) look completely different from you. You need to know what looks good on you.

What’s your body type? Check out the recommendations for your body type on the website. What skin undertones do you have? Are you long-waisted or short-waisted? Stuff that fits you will always look better than stuff that is too tight or baggy. Just because it’s in your size doesn’t mean it fits you. Use the fitting rooms! Also, get comfortable stuff. Even if an uncomfortable shirt looks great on you, you will never wear it. If you can’t clasp your hands behind your head without the shape of the shirt changing overtly or cutting into you anywhere, it’s too tight. If the shirt’s neckline slides over your shoulder or the shirt is loose enough that you can wrap your hand in the leftover fabric, it’s too loose. Find a happy medium.

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In general, a scarf will make an outfit look much more put-together and stylish. Find one in a color that sets off your eyes. Cooler colored eyes look well with warmer colored makeup and scarves. I have green eyes and a maroon scarf, which doesn’t clash with my cool skin tones but does make my eyes look brighter. I can wear that scarf with anything and it makes it look better. Neutral clothes, like jeans and anything with a simple cut and no pattern in white, brown, black, grey, or beige, are really good for basic outfits. You can wear the same jeans with a dozen different shirts a dozen days in a row, and almost nobody will notice because jeans are basically invisible. Save your cool brightly-colored pants with the embezzled seams or ruffles for outfits with plain shirts, so it’s not overwhelming.

Where can you get all of these cool things without ending up broke? Thrift shops. I’m not kidding. Thrift shops are cool. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt. The Savers SuperStore is a great thrift shop with hundreds and hundreds of clothes to choose from. Browse through the stuff in your size range, and try everything on. Five to ten bucks per clothing item. Half of my wardrobe comes from thrift shopping. Search for thrift stores near you. Remember, a lot of the clothes in your size range will be ugly or won’t fit you right, but it’s worth it for the rare gems.

No thrift shops in your area? Check the bargain areas of stores for good deals. Kohl’s has massive sales racks in the back of each clothing section, with up to 80% off the tag price. I got a pair of black skinny jeans for eight bucks at Forever 21. Target usually has some sales as well. Make it happen.

Gingersnaps Fit For A King

Brown-bag school lunches are boring and monotonous, for the most part. I don’t know about you, but I tend to eat peanut butter every day during the school year. Every. Day. And peanut butter sandwiches get all weird tasting and limp after a couple of hours in a bag in your backpack. Probably because I keep accidentally sitting on my backpack and squishing them. As a result, I’m on a campaign to improve the quality of my school lunches through baking and fruit and vegetables. HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS LUNCHES OR BUST!

Today, however, we have something which is not very healthy at all. Mm-mmm. All sorts of things like butter and sugar and molasses in these cookies. They’re still better for you than Oreos and Nabisco, though, seeing as they have no corn syrup. And anyway, they taste so good it doesn’t matter.

These cookies are pretty difficult to mess up, so they’re perfect for the beginning baker, and they’re the best cookies you will ever have, bar none. Well. Maybe, someday, you will come across a cookie that tastes better than this. If that ever happens, please contact me so that I, too, can share in the cookie bliss.

Without further ado, THE RECIPE:

Finished Cookies

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour                            1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking soda                                      1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt                                                    3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar                                                    1 egg

1/4 cup dark molasses                                           1/4 cup cinnamon sugar (1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Sift the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture to blend evenly, and sift a second time into another bowl. If you don’t have a sifter, you can use a whisk in order to get the ingredients to the right consistency and mixiness.

Place the softened butter into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy, with either an electric mixer or a whisk. Gradually beat in the white sugar. Beat in the egg, and dark molasses.

Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Sift in the remaining flour mixture, and mix together until a soft dough forms.

Pinch off small amounts of dough and roll into 1 inch diameter balls between your hands, around the size of a small bouncy ball. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. An average baking sheet can hold about twenty cookies comfortably, without spreading into each other

Bake in preheated oven until the tops are rounded and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.

Credit to Marie Ayers, who posted her grandmother’s famous recipe on Allrecipes.

How To Find Your Dreams.

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My blog is about giving teens a happy life, mostly through helping them follow their dreams now, not later, as I try to do the same thing.

It took me ages to figure out what I wanted from life, and there were times I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian or a politician, but eventually I learned that I love to write, and being a writer would support my ideal lifestyle. That means that the dream I’m going after right now, the one I’m focused on and working towards, is becoming a writer. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my other dreams. The main reason I wanted to be a vet was so I could be around a lot of animals and help them. I can volunteer at an animal shelter for that, but it isn’t my main goal. The main reason I wanted to be a politician was so I could change the world, and also because politics are pretty cool. If I can get a good enough article in a big enough newspaper, I can change people’s minds, which usually works better than changing laws.

One of the things that helped me most when trying to figure out what my dreams were is a sort of visualization of my ideal life. When you grow up, what do you see yourself doing, ideally? Maybe you want to stand on a platform and give resounding speeches that will touch everyone’s hearts and get into the newspapers and maybe even the history books. Maybe you want to live in a little country house with a big garden full of lavender and tomatoes. Maybe you want to cook and bake and then earn money from it. Maybe you want to be on TV. Picture it. What would your ideal day be like? If you have two different lives you’re picturing that both sound great, is there a way to balance them?

I want to live in New York, but I also want to travel all over the world, so I thought, hey, you know what would be cool? Living in New York and taking off for trips to other countries for months at a time. Of course, I’d need a flexible job that will pay me for traveling or at least pay me enough so I can travel. Like, for example, freelance journalism. You think of an idea for an article, you send out the proposal, someone accepts it, you write the article, you get paid. You don’t have any boss to tell you not to go to Fiji. Go to Fiji. Write an article about Fiji. Write many articles about Fiji.

Dreams don’t have to be just careers. What’s missing from your life right now that would make it more like your ideal life? (Apart from a car/ability to make your own legal decisions/money.) Go for the thing that’s missing. Find out what you would have to do to create your ideal life.

And, when you’ve figured it out, shoot me a comment below. Let’s see what I can do to help you.

Teen Fantasy Books: The Must-Reads.

I was just at the library, flipping through books to look for ones I haven’t read before, and I thought I’d recommend a few books for you guys. These are most likely the best YA fantasy books you’re going to come across, although a few of the Robin McKinleys and Terry Pratchetts live in the adult section. That’s okay. None of them are overtly inappropriate, and you can tell your mom I said so. All of these books are High Fantasy, and the summaries are taken from Goodreads.

Chalice, by Robin McKinley.

As the newly appointed Chalice, Mirasol is the most important member of the Master’s Circle. It is her duty to bind the Circle, the land and its people together with their new Master. But the new Master of Willowlands is a Priest of Fire, only drawn back into the human world by the sudden death of his brother. No one knows if it is even possible for him to live amongst his people. Mirasol wants the Master to have his chance, but her only training is as a beekeeper. How can she help settle their demesne during these troubled times and bind it to a Priest of Fire, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone?

Five out of five stars, as with all of Robin McKinley’s books. Her prose is descriptive, but not overwhelming, and her characters are very alive. It has the feel of a fairy tale. I’m not going to list all of her books, so assume that they are all amazing and find them at your local library.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson.

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Once again, five out of five stars. It has all of my favorite things, including a very strong, capable princess, a fat WOC main character with a positive attitude, spies, a war, and sequels. The story gets progressively better with each book, and, without spoilers, I will say that Elisa is my favorite royalty character ever. There is a religious aspect, with the Godstones, and prayer is important, but it’s not preachy at all, and is more like a mythology than anything. One of my favorite books.

The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett

A nightmarish danger threatens from the other side of reality . . .

Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help: the local Nac Mac Feegle—aka the Wee Free Men—a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men.

Together they must face headless horsemen, ferocious grimhounds, terrifying dreams come true, and ultimately the sinister Queen of the Elves herself. . . .

A Story of Discworld

Again, five out of five stars. I’m recommending my favorites before anything else. Practically all of the Discworld books are ridiculously amazing, and have influenced my writing immeasurably, but the Tiffany Aching arc of stories were my first introduction to Discworld and are still my favorites, although, admittedly, I have not read as many Discworld books as I’d like. (I’m blaming the local library.) Any of Terry Pratchett’s books about witches are phenomenally feminist in the sense that it’s difficult to find a book that passes the reverse Bechdel Test (Two named male characters talk to each other about something that isn’t a woman.) In this first book, the main character is a feisty, sensible nine-year-old girl, and she is one of my favorite characters ever.

Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones.

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Let’s just assume all of the books I recommend are amazing and move on, alright?

Now, Diana Wynne Jones is a pretty decent writer. Not stunningly brilliant, but I’ve liked all her books. This book blows all of her others out of the water. Sophie is amazing, Howl is somehow a sweetie and a bastard at the same time, the relationships are all great, the magic system is wonderful, and I really can’t tell you anymore without spoiling it. There’s an animated movie, too, by Hayao Miyazaki, which is nearly as good although it’s completely different.

Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

This book is a lot darker than any of the others I’ve recommended, with things like child abuse and seduction and child brides and assassinations. Probably not appropriate for under-14s. (Yes, Mom, it’s in the YA section, and it’s appropriate for me, God.) It’s a vicious, alternate-history type book, but it has magical powers involved so I’m letting it squeak by as a High Fantasy book. It’s still very good, though.

Terrier, by Tamora Pierce

Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost’s Guard, commonly known as “the Provost’s Dogs,” in Corus, the capital city of Tortall. To the surprise of both the veteran “Dogs” and her fellow “puppies,” Beka requests duty in the Lower City. The Lower City is a tough beat. But it’s also where Beka was born, and she’s comfortable there.

Beka gets her wish. She’s assigned to work with Mattes and Clary, famed veterans among the Provost’s Dogs. They’re tough, they’re capable, and they’re none too happy about the indignity of being saddled with a puppy for the first time in years. What they don’t know is that Beka has something unique to offer. Never much of a talker, Beka is a good listener. So good, in fact, that she hears things that Mattes and Clary never could – information that is passed in murmurs when flocks of pigeons gather … murmurs that are the words of the dead.

In this way, Beka learns of someone in the Lower City who has overturned the power structure of the underworld and is terrorizing its citizens into submission and silence. Beka’s magical listening talent is the only way for the Provost’s Dogs to find out the identity of this brutal new underlord, for the dead are beyond fear. And the ranks of the dead will be growing if the Dogs can’t stop a crime wave the likes of which has never been seen. Luckily for the people of the Lower City, the new puppy is a true terrier

My favorite Tamora Pierce book yet. It’s kind of a police-mystery-fantasy book, set two hundred years before Alanna: The First Adventure, and Beka is an intensely realistic and amazing character. It’s told in first person, which I usually don’t care for, but it’s in diary format, so it’s okay. I’ve probably read this book at least five or six times, and it’s just as good every time. The language is slang-y and full of creative fictional curse words, like “Poxy, horse-swiving Rat” and other things, which made me grin.

Now, again, these are only the high fantasy book recommendations, and you are strongly encouraged to read other books by these authors.

A Clean Slate.

For my New Year’s resolution, I have decided to start taking this blogging thing seriously. Unfortunately, it’s kind of hard for me to do that right now, because this blog (Adventures Of A Teen Writer) is all over the place, I don’t have any kind of niche like the experts recommend, and the posts don’t fit very well into the categories. Also, the aforementioned posts are pretty low quality, because I have to pump them out in massive quantities in order to reach my once-per-day quota.

I want to become a freelance writer, so this stuff is really important to me. I need to build a professional-looking website with some quality articles. This blog was recently suspended by an automated spambot, and during the interval between sending the WordPress people a message about it and waiting for them to get back to me, about two days, I started a new blog. It’s called OneTeenLiving, and it’s geared towards other teenagers, specifically teenagers who have big dreams– Or no dreams at all– and want to start working towards them now. Screw waiting to grow up.

I’ll be posting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting on Wednesday December 31st, 2014. (Today!) Tuesdays and Thursdays you guys might get reblogs, but I’ll be using those days to edit my unpublished posts in an attempt at brilliance.

I’m taking the Blogging 101 course WordPress is providing, and I’ll be recycling some of my more pertinent posts from this blog, edited, of course, and geared more towards teens. If you want to preemptively follow my new blog before I’ve got any posts up. I would be delighted to have you. Here’s the link: OneTeenLiving.

Also, comment below if you’d like me to follow you under my new account. Ciao, guys.