Do actions speak louder than words?

Its the end of the year and the Seniors are graduating this Wednesday! I couldn’t be more excited for my friends but it saddens me that so many of them are leaving and the people I’ve looked up to all year aren’t going to be here next year.

Have you ever felt like you wanted to explode with emotion and tell someone something, but you couldn’t express how you felt? Like all these feelings are bottled up inside and you’ve already ran a conversation in your head at least 10 times, but when you go to speak, nothing comes out? Or it goes all wrong and nothing turns out how you expected it to be.t

It’s hard for some people to express themselves using words. Its hard to choose what to say when and sometimes a simple action of gratitude towards someone can impact a person a lot more than a whole thank-you speech.

Take Holden Caulfield for example. He’s the narrator of the Catcher in the Rye and in that story which spans over two days of his life, I got to know how strong his love for his kid sister Phoebe is.

The next part contains spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book, look away!

Towards the end of the novel, Holden comes to visist Phoebe and she’s devastated when she hears that her older brother is planning to run away from home. So she decided that she’s going to go with him and she’s very stubborn about it till Holden reassures her that he’s not going anywhere and that he’s actually staying at home. Throughout the novel Holden constantly talks about how phony everyone is but how his sister is different from all of them.

Phoebe never says that she loves Holden, and what effect would the words “I love you” coming form a 4th grader have on the reader? Not much impact. But when its raining at the end of the novel and Phoebe does something Holden wouldn’t  expect, it shows the reader how much her actions speak her thoughts; how much she loves her older brother.

“The all of a sudden she gave me a kiss… then what she did- it damn near killed me- she reached in my coat pocket and took out my hunting hat and put it on my head.”

My sisters and I share a tight sibling bond at home. Even though we constantly don’t say “I love you” to each other every single day, we show our love in different ways such as making cookies for each other when one person is asleep, or cleaning the other person’s side of the bedroom.

My AP language class this year taught me different forms of expression. I’m not a shy person, but I definitely do not dominate class discussions and I make up for a lot of it on twitter or by writing blog posts on my other blog: ATIC STATE OF MIND: act, think, innovate, create.

It’s debatable. Do actions speak louder than words? For great writers that convey a deep message through their work, a probable no. But for most people around the world? Yes.

“All our struggles are part of a bigger plan and happy endings do exist”

Its 1 am and I’m awake thinking about school. Instead of sleeping and resting my body for my math test tomorrow, I’m stressing out about raising my average and counting down the number of tests I have till my final exam.

Does that sound like you? That’s been me for weeks now, and not just with math. Its been hard to find an outlet to let the stress away, especially since the weight of the classes seems to pile on me. My parents even requested me to stop baking till my grades go up but I’ve stated a baking company called Miss Khan’s Cupcakery and I’m actually getting orders. I’ve held off on all my orders till summer because I can’t afford to waste a precious minute of my week.

It’s crazy how the end of my junior year is here. I’m finishing this year in less than two weeks and I have so many grades to raise and so many things to do excel in. My SAT is this Saturday and I’m getting butterflies in my tummy thinking about it. I’ve prepped all year for it, but to be honest, I’m not a good test taker. I’m a better writer and I prefer taking essay tests rather than bubbling circles to measure my knowledge.

I’ve actually been feeling really sad for a couple of weeks. All the hard work, effort, and time that I’ve put to my work isn’t being paid off. Take my AP bio class for instance. My group and I were working on a project about morbillivirus infecting dolphins and I spent so much time on that project, more time than my whole group, but my teacher gave us a group grade based off of one random person’s presentation. I didn’t think it was an accurate representation of the grade I should have received on the project, especially since our score was so low.

Coming to school everyday and pretending that everything is okay and hiding my struggles is hard. Especially when life keeps crushing on my head and there is no where to turn.

But that’s why we have best friends.

Meet Rachel Nguyen. She’s one of my best friends.

Happiest when I see her early morning.

Happiest when I see her early morning.

Rachel and I got to know each other last August, when I first met her in my zero period journalism class. We instantly clicked on the first day we started talking and I could see a potential best friend from the beginning. Its crazy to see how alike we are in everything we do. From personal interests to school, we help each other out and sacrifice so much to see each other happy.

Rachel is the first person I see when I get to school at 7 am and I think I’m so lucky that she understands me so well. We’re both such passionate journalists who love writing and motivate each other a lot. When I’m really stressed out about my grades, worried about a math test coming up, struggling with a lab,  or have too many projects booked in a week, she’s the first person I turn to, and she always responds so positively.

The most important thing I learned from her this year is to be happy and always encourage people. Rachel emits a contagious happy vibe and people around her notice it as well. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone where she’s unnecessarily upset or complaining.

It’s the last week for seniors at school and I’m sad to see her go. I’m not losing a best friend, because I know we’ll be close forever; but I’m just going to miss her a lot because I love her so much.

Trust me, they don’t say junior year is the worst for no reason. But best friends know how to make life better.

Khanfectionately,

Zainab

Learning from Godin

A couple nights ago, I listened to a podcast interviewing Seth Godin, who is a marketer, entrepreneur, and a public speaker. Godin made several statements and claims when he was being interviewed by Krista Tippett on On Being, but the claim that stood out to me was when he said

We are all artists.

These four words are so powerful. I am an artist. I express my art skills in various forms, especially in writing. In my AP Language and Composition class I write essays about the things I am most passionate about: my family and baking. Writing is a special form of art for me because it combines many forms of art into one. I’m a writer, a baker, and a photographer. I’m lucky to be in an English class where I get to do all of the three things. Most of my creative writing essays in English circle around my family and baking. I, along with three of my other friends are in progress of writing a book containing essays of everything we love. Its an exciting journey and every essay I write in class I put my full effort and passion into.

So I take her to the kitchen and pour her favorite cereal. It’s Honey Bunches of Oats with sliced Almonds. It’s funny to think that all kids are crazy for Froot Loops or Coco Pebbles in the morning but my sister likes the same cereal as me.

-Morning Adventures

Writing is my strength. A couple of months ago I wrote a narrative essay, which I spent a load of time on, and I had my peer editing group in English review it. After being criticized, edited, and being brought back to life, Morning Adventures, an essay about my baby sister and I baking cupcakes, officially became the sweetest essay that I wrote. And my teacher gave me an A 🙂 which made me love writing even more.

The book that is soon-to-be published excites me because I can express myself as not only as ‘Zainab the writer and baker’, but also as ‘Zainab the artist behind the camera.’

YES, I get to have my pictures featured in there. On a recent post on my group’s publishing house blog, I wrote about the reasons I write. As the featured image for that blog post, I posted a picture of Red Velvet cupcakes I made. It wasn’t a big deal that I posted a picture online, (I do it all the time on this blog!) what mattered was that I was using my pictures on a shared blog that had a different audience.

That brings me to the next point that Seth Godin said

Technology empowers change.

Techonolgy allows me to connect with so many people, people who I don’t personally know, and it can be people who have the same perspective as me. Technology is an amazing tool that connects us all with a thread of ideas. It provides me with information and keeps me updated throughout the day. I have “twitter chats” in my English class to discuss novels and put our ideas out there in the world. Twitter Chats are effective because people can share and post ideas individually or collectively and since no one has to raise their hand and speak aloud, even the quiet students feel comfortable. I saw the impact my English class left on twitter that day. Our hashtag #linin6 was trending on twitter!
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Towards the end of the podcast, Godin addressed the parents concern on their children using social media. This part was most interesting for me because my parents are concerned about my social media.

And the choice is — keep your kids out of the connection world and isolate them and make sure they’re “safe.”

-Seth Godin

About a year ago when I asked my parents, “Can I create a twitter?” their response was “Why?” Unable to come up with a sufficient response, my only reason was “because my friends have it.” My parents didn’t buy it and I didn’t ponder too much about it. However as the months passed, it became mandatory in my English class to have a twitter and my finally gave in.

Aside from using my twitter for twitter chats, I use it to be updated with news all over the world. BBC. CNN, WSJ, Al-Jezeera are my main NEWS feed. I follow contestants from Masterchef USA to keep updated with their journey through the competition and I follow so many baking accounts, my favorite being @SallysBakingAddiction.

of course my parents were worried about me at first. They worried about the content I would be viewing, the time I would be wasting, and the people I would be interacting with. But they trusted me. They trusted me when they handed me my Samsung Galaxy and allowed me to have a twitter.

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Tweets from my Institute of Knowledge Conference

I don’t tweet a lot, but when I do, I try to make it meaningful.

The final thing Godin talked about was how people are afraid of being wrong. I agree with him on this point because I feel that way a lot in most of my classes. I think twice about the answer I’m going to say infront of the whole class because who wants to be known as the person who put in “good effort, but that’s not the right answer.” No one likes to be judged and I really liked an activity my English teacher did with the class when we were analyzing ads. He paired us in groups of 4 and we went around the class writing on a poster the Subject, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, and Tone of the advertisement. The ads ranged from anything between chapstick to anti-bullying. What the small groups taught me was confidence. Confidence in my answers. My teacher walked by us once in a while, but other than that, we were on our own and no one felt pressured. After this ‘practice’ session of analyzing the ads, I analyzed an IKEA ad at home using the same techniques we did in class.  IKEA Ad Analysis

The podcast by Seth Godin is one that I recommend everyone to listen to and you can find the written version it here. The podcast is 50 minutes long but trust me, its so great that you’ll be grabbing a pen and paper to jot notes down.

Godin wants us to bring the inner artist out from within ourselves. Zero drafting helps bring out the passionate writer inside of me. I go through the process of zero drafting once every week and it helps me collect and formulate any ideas that are running through my head. A zero draft is an outline/draft that is written in 10 minutes about a topic which is generally broad. The only rule you need to follow before you write a zero draft? Don’t pick up the pencil or even pause for a second. Making full use of the ten minutes is best for maximum amount of ideas and its actually surprising how fast the time flies!

Zero drafting is a technique my teacher uses to arouse our minds and get us thinking. I really wish that Godin would expand and show how art is something any one of us can do. I like it when he explains ‘group art’ because I do a lot of that every week with my publishing houses group. We work together and count on each  other to create something bigger than ourselves.

Bring forth the artist inside of you,

❤ Zainab

Individuality in a community

In what ways does a community positively or negatively affect an individual?

Communities are circles for people to feel connected and safe. Communities are supposed to be  places that people can interact with and share similar values. However, this is not always the case. In my AP Language class we read the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

For those of you that haven’t read the book, The Scarlet Letter is about Hester Prynne, a young lady living in a conservative Puritan society who has an affair with the minister. She immediately becomes an outcast and becomes shunned by everyone, including her close neighbors. Hester’s community didn’t support her because she went against the Puritan values which is acceptable for a community to do so if they have specific guidelines. However, her society takes it further and brands her with the Scarlet Letter A on her chest to forever remind her of her guilt.

the-scarlet-letter

As the novel progresses, it Nathaniel Hawthrone talks about how lonely and isolated Hester’s life is and how Hester looks to the forest for support and comfort because that is the only place she can be herself without anyone one judging her. At one point in the novel, Hester takes off her scarlet letter in the woods and at that moment she feels freedom from all the confinement that she had faced for several years. The Scarlet Letter A is a symbol of her community publicly oppressing her. When Hester wears the scarlet letter, she is where her community wants her to be:an outcast. The community does its best to shred her individuality and partially succeeds. Hester lives in isolation, works in isolation, and raises a child in isolation. Through a period of seven years, she does her best to fit in with the community doing noble and charitable acts, but even then her community looks down upon her. Although hester is alone, she still manages to live her life with out complaining. She volunteers, helps out her community and tries to make good public appearances. Although everyone does their best to surpress her individuality, she pushes them aside and goes by her own ways.

During most of the novel Hester’s community responds to her needs in a negative way, but near the end in chapter 24, they finally began to accept her because she admits to her sin. Her community recognizes the hard work and effort she put in to building her character and her trying to do good by volunteering.

In contrast to Hester oppressive community, Lori Arviso Alvord’s community was one that influenced her positively and helped her adjust to her surroundings. The essay “Walking the Path between Worlds” is about a Native American Navajo student who goes off to Dartmouth college far away from her community. Lori’s Navajo tribe had a strong sense of connection and bonded through rituals and gatherings. When Lori was placed on Dartmouth campus, there were only 50 Indians that attended that college and so she felt ignored and invisible to everyone else. For the first year of college Lori experimented with different cliques in didn’t feel like she belonged. In  her second year she made friends with other Native Indians and created her own tribal-community. Lori described her Native American group at Dartmouth as a “solid community that did almost everything together…we were friends, lovers, rivals, enemies. I had been part of many other groups since then, but nothing compared in intensity to the experience of being a member of the Native American student group.”

Communities can offer a great deal to individuals to help guide young students to their future careers. When communities offer young students opportunities to volunteer and gain experience in certain fields, students can get hands on experience in work environments similar to that of their future career. Thirteen year old John Prueter volunteers at the hospital at an assisted-living home in Hampton Township, Detroit. As Prueter takes advantage of the opportunities offered to him, his community affects him positively by giving him the experience he needs to go in the field of nursing. I believe that this is one of the most important things a community can do for an individual. Whether it be that the community offers internships, volunteer opportunities, or even part time jobs, it helps shape a person to who they shall be in the next few years and guides them to their future career.

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The people I surround myself with are my community. I am heavily involved in my community and volunteer at my local mosque which helps bring out inner individuality. I’m a baker and I have a passion to create, decorate, and design. I was able to do just that last year by starting a foundation called Baking for Benches where I, along with my friend, baked goods and sold them to fundraise money to get new benches at our mosque. My mosque is the main string that ties me with my family and friends. Over there we have basketball competitions, carnivals (where I won third place in a cake decorating competition!) and food festivals. When I pray there I feel connected with God and thank Him for placing me in such a blessed society with surrounded by so many people who love me and have a positive influence on me.

Khanfectionately,

Zainab

Confessions of a Passionate Blogger

Morpheme of the month:

am/ami- love

Recently WordPress sent me a Happy One Year Anniversary notification. I began blogging last October and I have grown to love my blog and have increased my passion for baking. I started off with my first post about Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes and here I am today, having tried so many new recipes and made everything from Orange Pistacio Kulfi to the Rosed Water Cupcakes. In the past year I tried perfecting new recipes with trial and error such as my Red Velvet Cupcakes and I blogged the whole process so that you knew exactly where I was each week and what I was struggling with.

I took this summer off from blogging to spend time with my family, volunteer, do summer assignments, and of course bake! Blogging reminds me of how much I miss writing and sharing my thoughts and recipes with the world. I also miss being happy when I get Wordpress notifications on the number of likes on my post. 

Yet here I am, back again at blogging. And I love my blog more than ever. This year I’m going to be posting so many recipes, tutorials, and things I’ve learned from my AP Language and Composition class.

Yes, I’m going to be blogging about my AP English class.

Wait, why is she blogging about her English class? (Well that’s not a rhetorical question so I’ll answer it)

Last year, I posted a lot of RE:FRAMED posts, were I took information that I  learned in my Honors English class and applied it to the real world. This year, I’m going to be doing the same, but at a more advanced and in-depth level.

Take this for instance:

“We eat food just as we read books. Words & ideas become us just as food does, fueling, sustaining, sickening us”

-Daniel Coffeen

Aside from the fact that it is obvious to all humans that we need food to live, it is important to acknowledge the fact that knowledge is important. Books contain the knowledge that inspires us to do things and even though we sometimes don’t see it coming, a lot of the decisions we make are influenced by the books we read.

 

I took a picture of this as soon as this came in the mail! The excitement after receiving this book could not be contained!!

I took a picture of this as soon as this came in the mail! The excitement after receiving this book could not be contained!!

After reading this book in August, I made so many cookies for a week. I tried different kinds of cakes and even a delicious Blueberry Smoothie! (Tutorial coming soon)

Was it a coincidence that I baked so much after reading a book all about baking? (That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyways.)

No, it was not a coincidence.

That’s the same effect I’m going for in my AP English class. With the new knowledge that I will be acquiring in that class, by blogging I not only want it to stay with me in my mind and for me to remember what I wrote, but also so that I share my knowledge with the whole world.

So I started this week with a morpheme. A morpheme is the smallest unit of language that cannot be divided any further. Each blog post containing a “Morpheme of the Month” will have content in the post relating to that morpheme.

I’m excited to see what this year brings forth.

Khanfectionately,

Zainab

Living a HEALTHY and STRONG life.

We live in a generation where crazy sayings are led to teenagers being mislead and believing:

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”

Sorry Kate Moss, you’re wrong. Why should being very skinny ever be a compliment? A person shouldn’t starve them self just to look “fashionable” and attain a “model status.” Why not choose to be healthy and strong rather than skinny? I’d rather be living a healthy lifestyle and being fit and active than be anorexic girl and starve myself from eating a foods I love.

Rockybalboa

His unique training routine includes boxing raw meat….

Continue reading

DIY Butterfly Cake

IMG_20140412_174028 (1)

I’ve waited a long time to post this DIY cake. At first I wasn’t sure why, but now  I have realized why I keep posting. Its the audience. The feedback I get from my wonderful readers means so much to me and the comments and ‘likes’ make my day. So I wanted to say a quick thank-you to everyone before I posted this simple DIY Butterfly cake tutorial.

The cake has a huge story tied to it. Involves anger, frustration, and sisters. The exciting part is that this cake was entered a Candyland carnival for a cake decorating competition and it was awarded third place:)

Abbreviated story:

Two months ago

I received a flyer for a cake decorating competition and was thrilled at this opportunity. I had everything planned: the type of cake I was going to make, the color of frosting I was going to use and all the decorations laid out. The only thing I hadn’t prepared for was the unexpected; and when the catastrophe took place, I was in utter panic. The morning of the competition was one of the most stressful mornings I have ever had.My electric hand mixer stopped working.

Yes it broke. Continue reading

Nutella Buttercream Frosting

This is probably one of my most demanded posts. I’ve had so many people asking for this recipe, begging me to post it, well here it is 😉

This is my to-go frosting. It pairs up with almost any flavor of cupcake I bake. The reason I love it so much is because it has the perfect balance of sweet and saltiness. Its not overly sweet, its just right. It;s absolutely PERFECT.

 

So if you’ve never made buttercream frosting before, this is the first recipe you should try! I’ve made it numerous times and it has always achieved to make me (and anyone that has tried it) happy.

Of course there are different versions to every recipe and I haven’t yet tried a dark chocolate base buttercream (I personally think it is slightly too heavy for chocolate cupcakes), feel free to experiment various recipes to find your one and only. 🙂

Recipe for (best ever) Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Yield: Enough for a dozen cupcakes.

1/2 cup salted butter AT ROOM TEMP.

1/4 cup nutella (plus one extra tsp for all the nutella lovers)

2 1/3 teaspoon unsweetened HERSHEYS coca powder

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 tsp heavy cream

 

The visual Steps:

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1. Beat butter in a bowl until it is light and fluffy. This process alone takes FIVE minutes to get the desired buttery fluffiness. Do not cheat on this step because it can make or break your frosting.

After beating the butter, add coca powder and confectioners sugar. After it has just combined, add your nutella.

 

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Whip the frosting till it is extremely light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract and a few tsp of heavy cream along the way. The frosting shouldn’t curdle but at the same time it should be whipped to the PERFECT consistency. Trust me, you’ll know it when you see it.

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Now that your frosting has reached its desired consistency, its ready to be topped on the cupcakes.

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Cupcakes ready to be devoured 🙂

Try this recipe and tell me how it turns out!

I want your feedback on your favorite frosting. What type of frosting do you want me to make next?

Khanfectionately,

Zainab ❤