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Retail Therapy

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So yes, I have gone back to college. And already, I’m missing the slower-paced days of summer. Tell me if this happens to you: By the end of the summer, you’re totally ready for school to start again… but then, two days into the school year, you want summer back!

Lucky me, I’m only 5 minutes away from a major mall and a bazillion shops. Talk about the perfect antidote to draining class work and studying. Whenever I need a break from the monotony of college textbooks, I hop in my car (or bike, if the weather’s nice and I don’t have a ton of items to buy) and engage in some retail therapy—Urban Outfitters, Barnes and Noble, Sports Authority, the mall, Whole Foods… I’m not picky when it comes to shopping. Often, I don’t even buy anything; just the act of getting out of the house refreshes me enough to come home and put the nose back to the grind. Or, like a few days ago, come home and make some dinner: This dinner literally took me 10 minutes to prepare. Normally, I’m not big on “meaty”-type vegan foods.

But every once in a blue moon, I find myself craving Italian-style tofu from White Wave.  The taste is robust, the texture is chewy, and you cannot beat the convenience. Just slice and go.


And lately I’ve been eating coleslaw with sesame dressing like it’s nobody’s business. Looks pretty darn gorgeous for being thrown together in about 10 minutes flat (the zucchini fries are leftovers from the day before). Such gorgeousness deserves a close-up shot, no?


(As much as I really don’t care if my food looks ugly, it’s always nice when something that tastes good also happens to look good!)

Rounding out the meal with a chilled glass of Cashew Cream Milk


To the 2nd anonymous commenter on yesterday’s post: You should totally try this recipe. It’s a delicious way to get in some healthy fats. 😉

Question of the day:

I coasted through elementary, middle, and high school. My friends hated that I could ace tests without ever opening a textbook. In college, however, I met my comeuppance. Studying? What’s that? How are you supposed to do it? Very quickly, I was forced to teach this old dog a new trick. Luckily, I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

Have you always been good at the art of studying, or did you pick up the habit later in life? I’d love to hear your study tips and tricks. What do you do when your mind finally rebels against any more working/studying? You know: when you’re so tired or bored that even after reading the same page three times, you still have no idea what it says! I’ve always heard that people who take breaks (as opposed to studying non-stop for hours) actually end up being more productive. So go out and engage in some retail therapy, sans guilt!

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. Marina says:

    Shopping is a wonderful therapy :)
    I’ve always studied my ass off, but the way of studying has really changed when I started uni.

  2. Cashew milk sounds good! I’ve only ever made almond milk, but I think I’l try that next time :)

    And I am just like you, I never studied during junior high or elementary school…but now that I am taking advanced classes in high school, studying is a must!

  3. Caitlin says:

    SAME! In college it helped to attend every class and take thorough notes (English major), but I never came up with any groundbreaking studying methods. I think being a diligent student from day one is the most effective learning method.

  4. abby says:

    i have friends like that too! i was always jealous of them because i would study my butt off, especially in classes like spanish, and they’d STILL get a better grade! glad to know they probably met their match. sounds mean, but it makes me feel a little better ;).

  5. Valerie says:

    I’ve tried that tofu too. I HATE HATE the Thai one. You’d think something Thai would taste like coconut or peanut, but this one tastes like rubber. Have you tried the Thai one? I trust your tastes, because they’ve never steered me wrong before, so I’m willing to give the Italian one a shot.

    1. I haven’t tried the Thai one. But I DEFINITELY recommend giving the Italian a shot, because the Roma one was just like you said: rubbery and awful. But the Italian Herb is quite different.

      1. Lisa says:

        I’ve tried the Thai one, and I agree with Katie: The Italian one is worth a shot even if you hated the other one. It’s my favorite of them all.

  6. Namaste Gurl says:

    Your day looks a lot like mine– all my favorite shops, fav eats (I DID have coleslaw yesterday!) and thoughts….

    Again, we’d be GOOD friends :)

  7. Leslie says:

    That bowl does indeed look pretty :). Nice when pretty foods also taste good. I’ll go even further and say sometimes if it looks nice, it tastes good even if it really doesn’t. Does that make any sense?!

  8. Saraishealthy says:

    The cashew milk sounds delicious! As does the tofu. I love convenience items like that. I’ll have to look for it!

  9. keegan says:

    I was pretty similar to you. Coasted through, with some pre-test studying, all the way through college. Then I hit med school and my world flipped upside down. It was a hard adjustment that had to be made fast. Luckily, I’ve survived, and only 7 months away from the end :) You’ll get through it too!

    1. Ooh wow, congrats (a few months early)! :)
      I would never be able to get through med school! Basically, science was the reason I had to learn to study!

  10. Kelly says:

    I was too paranoid *not* to study in my pre-college days even though the material was generally quite easy for me. Still, I definitely didn’t *need* to study as much as my friends… one friend in particular often seemed a little miffed that she and I tied for valedictorian when I allegedly “didn’t study” for anything. Hmph.

    College definitely required more studying, but I’m pretty disciplined and had no problem with that. I do recommend taking breaks – I would often force myself to do 45 minutes to an hour of work and then “reward” myself with something like baking or surfing the web for 15 minutes. Group studying is also helpful (as long as everyone in the group is fairly focused) since talking through concepts can help you think about them from another perspective. As far as reading 100+ pages of a dry text in one night… well, I’m not sure there’s any good approach for that! Even the reward system fails when your brain refuses to take in what you’re reading. I guess jotting down quick notes as you read can reinforce the major concepts if you can identify them as you go…

    1. Yeah, I have a different way to get through 100+ pages of dry text… but I don’t recommend my strategy: completely ignore doing the reading, then make up a bunch of stuff for your essays and be SURE to speak up in class when you DO have something to say so the prof will never call on you when you don’t hehehe :). Oh gosh, I hope none of my profs read that!

  11. Maria says:

    I didn’t have to study until high school, when I was introduced to Chemistry. Suddenly it was like hello school books, goodbye social life!

  12. Inspired says:

    Mmm I’m craving coleslaw. Thanks for giving me a dinner idea!

  13. Caroline says:

    Your milk sounds so refreshing. What a genius idea!

    As for studying, I tend to fall asleep if I’m passively studying, as in just reading things. When reviewing chapters, I might read the chapter once for the lay of the land, and then go through the whole chapter again to make a study guide. By the time I’ve made the study guide, I usually have remembered everything. It won’t go to waste, though. Come exam time, I can open my folder for each class and print out every study guide I’ve made.

    Doing practice problems (or conjugations, etc. for languages) is also the best way to study. Active studying is more fun (for me) and keeps me awake. I also have tons of confidence going into the test if I know I could do every problem at the end of the chapter.

    That was high school. Can’t wait to meet the curve-destroyers in college.

    1. Ooh wow, Caroline, the comment you just left on my other post sounds delicious!

      I *just* created (not posted yet) a new “cashew butter cheesecake” recipe (with zucchini, no less lol), but I never thought to use cashew butter in cashew milk. I am actually going to try your variation as soon as I finish typing this, because I have a little bit of free time… and a lot of extra cashew butter!

  14. I never had to study a lot, even in college, because I just paid really close attention in class and took lots of good notes. Then right before a big test, I reviewed my notes. But I feel like the entire act of writing them down burned the info into my memory anyhow, so I barely needed the review. Good note-taking is the best college study skill, in my opinion.

  15. Dianne says:

    I was always a TERRIBLE studier. No attention or time for it! Fortunately for me, there was only one or two classes in college for which I really, really had to study…like up all night, calling a friend for help studying. The good news is, now it’s over!

  16. Another Annonymous says:

    Oh wow, thank you for the shout out! :) :) :)
    If I get the courage, I’ll surely try out your cashew milk :).

  17. Erika says:

    Sometimes the ugliest meals are the yummiest ones! :-)

  18. I would kill to go back to college…I still miss it!

    Like you I did very well in elementary, middle and high school but university was a different story. All I wanted to do was have fun which made studying and doing well quite difficult. I pulled myself together during my last year though, but I still would have loved to do better.

    Yes, taking study breaks helps. I learned in my psych class that you take a break every hour! Even just a quick one. It helps you to regroup and come back feeling refreshed.
    I also like to reward myself for studying. Like, if you finish _____ assignment today, you can buy yourself a new shirt! Or if you get over_____ grade you can book yourself a massage! I don’t know, I always found that motivating 😀

  19. glad to see i’m not the only “coaster”! i barely did any work throughout my school years, high school was the worst. i went to a private/homeschool academy. it wasn’t even accredited as a real school (of course, they didn’t tell us that)! class was 9 to 12 monday to thursday and you can bet your sweet chocolate covered booty that i didn’t have to lift a finger to pass. college is a bit tougher, but i’m still relatively coast-ish. i did study my arse off for biology, psychology, and math though! i don’t enjoy gen ed requirements :(

  20. Katelyn says:

    I have to try zuke fries!! Those look delish.

    When it comes to studying, I believe strongly in taking breaks – but often, I end up getting distracted and completely avoid the studying part :) So often, when I have a big project or assignment, I just dive right in and do the whole thing at once. I get super into it and then end up with something amazing and think to myself, “Did I really just write that?!”. It’s the best feeling! :)

  21. yum that cashew cream milk looks so good! do you know how long it keeps? (2-3 days?) i didn’t hardcore study until i took organic chem 1 & 2 in college haha. i had to review and study for stuff but nothing like the dedicated time i took every day for that class. crazy hard!

    1. The last time I made it, it kept perfectly nicely for three days :).

  22. I am only good at shopping for food and kitchen stuff. I hate shopping for clothes. I was ok in school growing up. College was the only time that I didn’t have to study much, but it was culinary school and I loved what I was learning. Your eats look delicious. I love the coleslaw mix!

  23. fruitsveggieslife says:

    I was definitely not a studier through high school, and college has definitely proven to be difficult at times because of that. However, I’ve learned how to learn (ha!), and now I’m a study whiz. :)

  24. mckella says:

    I pick up on some things really quickly, but others require a lot more work. I had a rough time in some of my lit classes though, because I could read the entire chapter and then realize I had no idea what I just read. Not that I can’t understand, but if something I’m reading really doesn’t grab my attention, I can still read and zone out at the same time. I don’t know how I managed to get an English degree.

  25. I’m afraid I don’t much tips, I was a very lazy student who always found herself studying at the last minute in panic and then improvising in tests 😀

  26. I REALLY learned how to study during high school. I went to a very competitive (public, believe it or not) school and had a good 5-6 hours of homework every night. It was ridiculous. College actually seemed like less work after that!

    1. Woah, 5-6 hours?! Holy yuck!

  27. I was never one to study up through high school, but once I hit college I, too was given a reality check. I definitely had to adjust to this new thing called studying, which is certainly not my favorite activity. I still don’t study very often, but once in a blue moon I do crack open the books. Retail therapy certainly does help, though!

  28. Kiki says:

    First paragraph = same thought that went through my brain about 45098 times during school today!

    And I just recently learned to study, but that’s probably because I just recently took my first AP class! I mean, I would do okay if I didn’t study, but I’m aiming to keep my straight A’s :)

  29. Stefanie says:

    I was never big on studying until senior year of high school. It was my English class that got me to study more because of everything I needed to know. College has me studying more as well. When I need a break from school work I surf the web, make a quick snack, sew, or watch television. Just stepping away from the material helps clear my mind and puts me in a better mood.

    Retail therapy is fun. I prefer to window shop and it makes me happy.

  30. deisegirl says:

    Ha I work near lots of great shops and I go out nearly every day. Sometimes I spend waaay too much but other days I just have a look around. I get cabin fever if I stay in the office over lunchtime…argh!

  31. hippierunner says:

    Getting the information I need to into my head via ways besides staring at a book and taking notes works for me. I sometimes say the stuff out loud as if I were having a conversation with someone about it. Or I realy do discuss with someone.

  32. 40apples says:

    Oh man, the epic quantities of reading I had in college ate up every last spare moment of my life. I averaged about 400 pages per night! And no, there was no way I could thoroughly read all of it. I learned how to be strategic in the WHAT (totally ignored certain articles) and the HOW MUCH (skimmed a lot of the rest) of heavy-duty reading. Unfortunately, most of my reading involved novels, which were in no way optional – but at least they *tended* to be more engaging than the straight up academic essays!

    My best tips: exercise right before you embark on a lengthy study sesh!! Seriously, this technique in itself probably boosted my GPA several notches. Almost every day I would go to an intense spin class or something like that after my classes ended for the day (around 5 pm) – then I’d come home, eat dinner, and be READY for a long night of studying. That way I was able to get really focused, energized, and not feel totally antsy for the 4-5+ hours of desk-sitting ahead of me.

    1. Caitlin says:

      Ah, another reason I need to get into an exercise routine!

    2. Katelyn says:

      That is so genius! I’ll definitely be trying that out this semester :)

  33. Caitlin says:

    Yummmy! It looks so colorful and delicious. I love cabbage, purple cabbage especially!

  34. I’m just so, so thankful my college years are long behind me. I hated studying, but I was a straight-A student who couldn’t stand to fail anything….so my solution was probably not the healthiest — diet pills! Yep, back when they put the good stuff in ’em that’s, like, illegal now. I’m much healthier these days! The cashew cream milk sounds yummy, and I’m intrigued by crack dressing!

  35. That cashew milk sounds so delicious and easy too!

    I was a dork and remember being excited in third grade when we were supposed to “study” for a test for the first time. Got over that quickly. My high school was really tough and so I was used to studying for hours every night before I got to college. The best study break for me is something active like going to the gym, taking a walk, or doing some yoga.

    1. I was a dork too… I used to LIKE doing dishes when I was a kid 😕

      1. Ha! I just saw this and it made me laugh, so cute! Do you like doing dishes now though??

        1. Not at all! I am forever indebted to the inventor of the dishwasher! 😉

  36. There is a secret to retaining information while studying. Cocoa Mole Larabars… I am convinced that they have helped me ace at least five finals! 😉

  37. Hi Katie! I was never the study type. I don’t know how I did it now that I think back, I was a “cram it all in” type, shhh don’t tell!
    I love your thoughts on taking breaks and I can agree-that is a great way to not get super burnt out. I like cat naps too. Looks like we will know where to find you…Shopping away(or at least window shopping!)

  38. Cashew cream milk YUMMMM

    I was always a person who had to do homework and study. Learning was easy for me but taking test was not. I had to plan out and review my notes A LOT! I had friends who never really had to study and did great, grrrr haha

  39. BroccoliHut says:

    I was the same way–never cracked open a book until at least high school.

  40. I was exactly the same, maybe worse. I coasted through public school no problem. It was so easy for me that I frequently did homework in class for other classes, not even paying attention to what was being taught.

    I went to college for a degree in CS and no longer even need to put in the attempt of paying attention, I could just cool my heels at the dorm. My freshman year first semester wasn’t too horrible, though I did get a B+ (which my family ribbed on me forever about). My second semester was a disaster. I didn’t go to one of my classes AT ALL that semester and I ended up with a C+.

    Talk about a wake up call. I started attending my lectures, studying, going to office hours when necessary. I turned it around quickly, getting straight As in even my toughest classes. That being said, to this day I’m annoyed with that freshmen year. If I wasn’t such a dolt, I could have had an even better GPA. Oh well, it was a lesson worth learning. :)

    1. Yup, during class, I always did homework for other classes. In some ways, I feel like the people who couldn’t coast through are luckier… they didn’t have to re-learn good study habits!

  41. Elementary-high school was a breeze. I remember every year the teachers would say “it wont be so easy next year!” But it’d stay that easy..just sailing through, never eve had to look at the book with easy A’s. But once I got to college, it all changed. They honestly don’t care if you pass or fail, come to class or not. So I definitely had to learn how to study. havent perfected it yet..but it’s coming along. 😛

  42. Meghan says:

    The only time I ever really had to study was my college biology class. It was so tough, but I pretty much coasted through high school and most of college. What I find helpful is writing things out. Even if I am simply copying over my notes or even copying things out of the textbook, I find doing something active (like writing) keeps me engaged and helps me remember things more than just staring at a page or re-reading my notes. Then I would go back and highlight or color code things as I read my newly written notes over. It might not work for everyone but it worked for me.

  43. ecogrrl says:

    Italian tofu? Are the soybeans grown there or is it just prepared differently?

    As for studying, I was always a crammer. Funny, if under the gun I can write a paper in 20 minutes and it’s often better than if I’d done 25 drafts. My favorite class? We had to write essays on a topic in class. The biggest regret was at Brooks, I had a teacher who didn’t record grades on anything we did in class til the very end, and said we could pick them up on the last day of class. Guess who ‘lost’ all my treasured essays? Heartbreaking. Ahh, thank goodness for the blog!

    1. I think it’s just Italian-style (i.e. Italian seasonings). I wonder if they grow tofu in Italy… if they did, I bet it’d be good (just like everything else they make!).

  44. I LOVE ugly food that tastes delicious :) It makes me smile. Plus “weird” combinations are even better..

    I was the same way. In college, I had to discover the joys of actually reading a text book and learning how to study. Learning to study was more work than my actual homework.

  45. Nichole says:

    I am such a sucker for retail therapy. That tofu looks delish. I need to buy it more often. It has been about 6 months AT LEAST since I have cooked with it at home.

  46. Christina says:

    I totally understand the I-have-to-read-this-10-times-to-understand-it-because-I’m-so-bored thing. Oh, political theory, I do not miss you.

    That said, I too coasted through school…even college. I’m a good writer, and as a history major that got me through pretty much everything. I graduated this past May with a high GPA and lots of extra curriculars…definitely was not worried about the future as far as school went (I’m taking a year off at the moment).

    Then I started studying for the LSAT. I’m terrible at standardized tests, and the LSAT is one big standardized mind game that analyses how you think. I’m starting to have day-mares (when I get bored and have too much time to think) that I won’t get into the law school that I really, really want to go to. Which is why I’m studying A LOT, EVERY day. The next month is going to be a nail-biter!!

    So tomorrow I’m gonna make some of that cashew milk to make myself feel better, and to fire up my brain for studying, lol.

  47. Rebecca says:

    I totally 2nd the need to get out and hit a store—even if you don’t buy anything. It is oddly calming to stroll through the aisles (I actually really love to do this at the grocery store, home depot, and the fabric store…used to drive my parents crazy!)

    As for the studying here is what has worked for me (I am “interesting” in that I have always actually enjoyed studying. However, I must admit that when college-time came around I got a bit lazy. Probably the first time I ever received a “B” in my life. Oh well, I continue to tell myself that learning life and social skills was much more important during that time in life. Sort of like preschool–ha ha!):
    1. If you read/study/glance over your notes or readings the night before and exam and then quickly go over them as a “refresher” in the morning I SWEAR you remember an INSANE amount of information. Sounds like it doesn’t make a huge difference but TRUST ME, it does. (I guess this could also apply to studying in general but it made a huge difference when it came time to cram)

    2. Warning: This takes discipline but it is also one of the easiest, most effective ways to get killer grades (and learn a whole bunch of info to boot! And, after all, isn’t that the point?): After you are done with classes for the day go home and type up your notes. You could hand-write them also if that is your thing but my handwriting is atrocious. Beyond having an organized, neat set of notes, by reviewing them while the information is fresh in your mind you will really solidify all the new facts, figures, and concepts. Also, you will see if there are any wholes in your notes that you can easily fill in either by looking them up, talking with a classmate, or asking your prof./TA.

    Man…how I wish I was back in college….really!

    Hope this helps!

    1. Thanks so much for the tips. I am not disciplined at all, but I will try really, really hard to use your “type notes” trick next time I have a super-difficult exam!

  48. Fi says:

    I coasted through primary school too, when I got into second year of secondary school, when I was like 13 , I learned to study because i failed a lot of my exams in first year. I write notes, condense them down, learn them off, do mind maps, tell people what Im learning about-whether they want to listen or not ;D

    Find your best time of the day to study and stick to that, mornings are good for me, and late at night, but Im terrible during the afternoon.

    That bowl u had your dinner is is fab and it looks yum too-the dinner, not the bowl ;D

  49. its raining cats and dogs here and let me tell you, retail therapy is in order even if i spent all of yesterday doing the same thing. rainy days equal shopping.. and i definitely get meaty cravings veg or not on shopping days lol.

    ur tofu is so thick and i know just how delicious a cabbage and tofu can be <3


  50. Tracy says:

    Ok, I know this is an old post, but the coleslaw with the “best dressing ever” link isn’t working and I would love to have the recipe! I have to say that I have spent far too many hours browsing your blog and catch up on what I’ve missed for the last 4 years- incredible.

    1. Oh wow lol my old blog posts are so embarrassing!
      Anyways, that dressing was called Galeos. Apparently the company was misleading people, though, and I think they went out of business!