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Restaurant owner criticized for offering stereotypical special on MLK Jr. Day

A Texas restaurant owner said she didn't think she did anything wrong when she promoted a holiday special on Facebook.

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Sabrina Pyle, owner of Azle Café in Azle, Texas, was hoping to draw in more customers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day when she offered a unique meal.

"I came up with this incredible, ingenious idea for what I thought would bring people in for lunch," Pyle told WFAA.

The special consisted of chicken and waffles with a side of watermelon. 

Social media users quickly pointed out that the offering was problematic. The stereotype that black people have an affinity for fried chicken and watermelon emerged during times of slavery in America and after the Civil War to portray people who belong to the racial group as lazy and dirty.

"It's a way to express racial (contempt) without getting into serious trouble," a University of Missouri professor said in a 2013 NPR interview. "How it's possible to be both a taboo and a corporate mainstream thing just shows how complicated race in America is."

"To use something like chicken and waffles and a side of watermelon as a Martin Luther Ling Special is disgusting," Brad Pelt told WFAA. "It's not okay."

Pyle said the action was "distasteful" on her part. 

"I just didn't think it through," she said. "I wasn't thinking about the historical (context). I was thinking, 'We have margaritas and tacos on Cinco de Mayo, so, let's have some fun with Martin Luther King Day.'"

Pyle, who was called a racist by social media users, deleted the post on Monday. 

"I am, by far, not racist," she told WFAA.

White House photographer shares his favorite pictures of the Obamas

White House chief official photographer Pete Souza has shared many photographed moments of the Obamas.

Over the years, he's repeatedly been asked to name his favorite photo. So, as he gets ready to leave the White House, he decided to share that favorite moment.

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It came in 2010, when Washington, D.C., was covered in snow, and Souza was forced to sleep in his office at the White House because he knew he probably couldn't drive there in the morning.

"People are always asking me to choose my favorite picture of the President. But I just can't do it," Souza wrote on Instagram. "So let me tell you about my favorite day. It was a Saturday in February 2010. Washington was under siege with snow. I slept in my office overnight, knowing I probably couldn't drive to the White House the next day. And then I guessed...and yes, hoped...that the President of the United States would be a dad and play with his girls in the snow. And he did."

A photo posted by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Jan 17, 2017 at 7:22pm PST

He followed up his original photo with two more of the same special moment in time, each showing President Obama playing in the snow with his daughters, Malia and Sasha. The first was captioned, "Snow angels. 2010."

Snow angels. 2010. A photo posted by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Jan 17, 2017 at 7:24pm PST

The next was captioned, "Snowstorm 2010. The President with Sasha and Malia."

Snowstorm 2010. The President with Sasha and Malia. A photo posted by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on Jan 17, 2017 at 7:25pm PST

These Stunning Looks Show What Anxiety and Depression Feel Like

By nature, most of our battles with anxiety and depression happen in our heads—and it’s really, really tempting to keep them hidden there. But beauty blogger Yasaman Ghedi wants to make those mental health struggles visible. That's why she started the #InsideOutChallenge on Instagram, which encourages people to use makeup to give a face (literally) to those struggles.

Yasaman’s formula is simple: Apply your everyday makeup to half of your face, and then depict what living with mental illness feels like on other half. Here's Ghedi's finished product:

The results are, of course, as haunting as they are beautiful. (Check out examples of other people's take on the #InsideOutChallenge below.) Most importantly, though, they’re a reminder that the stigma and secrecy that so often surround mental illness are both major issues we need to fight.

94-year-old woman graduates college with honors

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.

A 94-year-old woman got a big surprise after earning her bachelor's degree online with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

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Amy Craton, of Honolulu, has been keeping herself busy by taking online classes at Southern New Hampshire University.

Now, Craton is one of the oldest graduates to earn a bachelor's degree in the world.

"I couldn't see just sitting there watching Netflix all the time," she told WPVI.

Craton, who is a great grandmother, first enrolled in college in 1962. She didn't initially finish her collegiate career because she put her education on hold while she worked to raise and support her family. 

Although Craton wasn't able to attend the recent graduation ceremony in person in New Hampshire, SNHU's president, Paul LeBlanc, hand-delivered Craton's Creative Writing and English degree on a special trip to Hawaii. LeBlanc even surprised her with a party.

"Amy is an extraordinary student. At the age of 94, she earned a degree that was 54 years in the making and with a 4.0 GPA no less," LeBlanc said. "Amy is the epitome of a lifelong learner, and my hope is that her story will remind others that it's never too late to follow their dreams or learn something new. The entire SNHU community could not be more proud of her accomplishment."

"It feels good to graduate, but in many ways I feel I am still on the road," Craton said. "I have more to learn."

Craton said she plans to get her Master's degree next.

"I'm trying to live my life to the fullest," she told WPVI. "You have to live. You have to learn as long as you can. Go to college, go to college. Don't be afraid of it."

Why pit bulls have a bad reputation

You may have heard bad things about pit bulls. More than 700 cities across the country have placed bans on the breed. Stories of attacks, bad behavior and strong bites have made people fear the once-beloved breed. 

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Experts say the culture of dog fighting has contributed to the pit bull's bad reputation. The dogs are often conditioned to make them more angry and aggressive. 

As of 2014, pit bulls were responsible for 68 percent of dog attacks and 52 percent of dog-related deaths since 1982. 

>> Montreal's pit bull ban goes into effect

However, before they were categorized as a fearful breed, pit bulls were popular as household dogs. They were known as loving protectors for children and families. 

Pit bulls make up a large number of sheltered dogs and are euthanized at high rates.

7 Pieces of Relationship Advice That Go Against Everything You Assume

When a couple comes to see me for relationship counseling, most of the time it's for help with communication, either in general or surrounding a specific event. Asking for help with communication within your relationship doesn't mean it's doomed to fail; it means you're a normal human couple. Of course, my partner and I are both mental health therapists, so we communicate perfectly 100 percent of the time... just kidding. We have our own issues, like every other couple.

In working with couples and in my own relationship, I've found that a lot of relationship advice tends to be ineffective and unrealistic. Since we're all imperfect humans, we're going to make mistakes, require time to cool down, and need to ask questions of ourselves and our partners in order to grow together. I've rounded up some of my favorite communication pointers that can genuinely help you out the next time you find yourself in a misunderstanding with your partner.

1. Go ahead and go to bed angry.

Chances are, you've heard someone say "never go to bed angry" when talking about fighting within a relationship. I'm here to tell you that you should absolutely go to bed angry. Arguments at the end of the day are often exacerbated by built-up irritations or small miscommunications. Rather than trying to communicate when you are tired and spent, get a good night's sleep and tackle it together in the morning. Many times, with a little rest, you'll find the situation seems more manageable in the light of day.

2. It's good to let each other get away with stuff.

OK, we shouldn't encourage one another to become inconsiderate monsters, but we also need to remember that no one is perfect. For example, my partner leaves his shaving stuff on the bathroom sink, and I leave my shoes in the middle of the entryway. We're both absent-minded at times, and we're working on that, but it's not OK for me to fly into a rage at him over his razor, especially since he is kind to me despite tripping over my ballet flats on more than one occasion. A more content and loving partnership is built through gentle reminders and patient understanding, rather than passive-aggressive comments and constant criticism.

3. Don't hit that send button! Fighting over text is terrible...

Fighting over text message often leads to further miscommunication and misunderstanding. When we text, we can't fully interpret the messages we receive; the clues that normally help us decode our partner's true intent (like body language, voice tone, and eye contact) are absent in text messages. So as we attempt to understand these messages—not only the words, but the meaning behind them—our imaginations fill in these blanks. This is why text message disputes can blow out of proportion, leaving both parties baffled by how a small disagreement could end in a huge fight.

4. ...but writing out your thoughts before talking is pretty great.

When you take the time to write out your thoughts, especially your responses to topics that you know may get heated during communication, you're able to process difficult feelings before you discuss them. This gives you the opportunity to approach the subject at hand more calmly, rather than attacking your partner out of anger or hurt. By writing about your feelings, you may also be able to identify exactly what causes you to feel intense negative emotions and why. For example, if your ex used to compare you to other people, that might explain why you become upset when your partner praises another person's accomplishments. Being able to identify that issue and communicate it to your partner can increase trust and closeness.

5. Express your needs… even if you think you sound "needy."

When a client says to me, "Lauren, I need something, and my partner isn't doing it!" I ask, "Have you told your partner what you need?" The response is often a resounding no, followed by, "I don't want to seem needy," or "They should know what I want without asking."

Having needs does not make you needy; it makes you a human. And while I understand that directly asking your partner to, say, massage your shoulders after a long day may not be as romantic as them automatically knowing what to do, your partner isn't a mind reader. Ask direct questions and make clear requests so that your partner knows exactly what you want and need without the guessing games. There is something incredibly sexy about having your needs met by the person you love... even if you had to give them a little guidance.

6. Don't cook for your partner.

When I say "don't cook for your partner," I mean, "don't cook for them unless that's something that's important to them." Let's extend this food analogy: Say you take the day off work to spend a whole day making cookies for your partner. We're talking about that from-scratch, special-occasion kind of baking. Your partner gets home, the kitchen is a mess, and there's a smudge of flour across your face. "Look, honey!" you say. "I spent all day making cookies for you!"

Your partner looks puzzled and says, "Thanks, but... I really don't like cookies. I like pie." It's a nightmare scenario. You've exhausted your resources, but neither of you have your needs met. Instead, everyone gets a helping of hurt feelings and frustration. How could your partner not appreciate your cookies? How could you not know your partner prefers pie?

I'm here to tell you that you should absolutely go to bed angry.

This is why communicating is so important. A helpful model that I use on a regular basis is called The Five Love Languages, developed by Gary Chapman. The Five Love Languages are five ways to experience and communicate love to a partner, which are: Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time. There's a quiz you can take to discover your love language; most people have a primary and secondary love language.

My love language is Quality Time. I need someone to give me eye contact, to hang out with me without distractions, to go places with me, and to simply spend time together. In a previous relationship, I was with someone who communicated through Acts of Service. Instead of listening when I said I needed time together, he would bring up all the times he did the dishes or took my car to get the oil changed. True, he had made an effort and was helpful in that way, but it wasn't what I was asking for or what I needed. My needs weren't being met, he felt his efforts were unappreciated, and we were both frustrated.

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Maybe your partner would rather eat takeout than a home-cooked meal, but wants a cheesy Hallmark card. Maybe your partner can wash their own car but needs to spend four uninterrupted hours with you on a Saturday. Or maybe your partner would pass on a bouquet and would rather you go to the grocery store so they don't have to. Avoid spending time and energy on efforts that won't fulfill your partner, and instead communicate with one another about specific wants and needs so that the time and energy you do spend is productive and meaningful.

7. Disagree with each other.

So often, disagreements are seen as threats to the stability of the relationship—some couples will avoid a disagreement at all costs, even if it means stuffing their feelings down and being quietly unhappy. Rather than seeing disagreements negatively, issues can be seen as natural, normal, and part of any healthy relationship. Disagreements are an opportunity to communicate, understand, listen to your partner, and grow together. Disagreements can lead to healthier communication patterns and a stronger relationship overall.

One of my favorite communication tools to use in the midst of an argument is called the I-Message—no, not the blue bubbles on your phone screen. In this context, an I-Message is a type of communication that places the focus of the conversation on the feelings of the person speaking, rather than using accusations to communicate their discontent.

The standard formula for an I-Message is as follows: I feel [feeling word] when [talk about scenario that made you feel this way, then talk about the result you would prefer.] For example, "I feel overwhelmed and exhausted when I do the cooking and the cleaning. Is there any way we could work together to get it done?"

If you've been the one doing both the laundry and the cooking, and it's been frustrating you, this format might not be your first thought. You'd probably be more tempted to say, "You never do anything around here!" or even "It would be nice to get some help in the kitchen for once!" But framing the situation like this can make your partner feel attacked, leading them to become defensive. Formatting these feelings of frustration into an I-Message may feel counterintuitive at first, but it does increase the likelihood of a more positive response from your partner, and can help you both grow closer through stronger communication.

While a perfect relationship is impossible, a healthy, fulfilling relationship is something each of us can achieve with a supportive partner and the right communication tools. When two people work to fight fairly, express their needs, and foster understanding, the result is a strong and happy relationship built on trust and open communication.

Lauren Hasha is a writer and mental health counselor living in San Antonio, Texas. Visit her website or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

7 Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipes That Would Make Your Grandma Proud

So, you’re not exactly a Top Chef in the kitchen... no biggie. We’re all about the small wins, anyway. One fairly painless (and healthy!) way to own dinnertime? Swap out that jar of spaghetti sauce for a homemade version. We’ve rounded up recipes to suit every taste—spicy, sweet, vegan, meaty—that are, as always, super simple to make. Sure, it takes a little more work than just opening a jar, but you’ll wind up with way fewer preservatives and salt than the store-bought kind, and get the satisfaction of a truly homemade meal. Serve over pasta, zoodles, grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, or even scrambled eggs (yep, try it, it’s great).

1. Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Vegan pesto? Yes please. This fresh sauce could be spread on toast and still enjoyed—it’s that flavorful. Don’t be intimidated by the homemade vegan Parmesan; it only requires four ingredients (cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt). 2. Chickpea Tomato “Meat” Sauce Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just trying out Meatless Mondays, this pasta sauce has just enough texture to make you feel like you’re eating a hearty meat sauce, minus the meat of course. Blended chickpeas are the main substitute, while carrots, onions, and crushed tomatoes up the veggie count. 3. Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce Purists, this one’s for you. It’s a no-frills, only-the-good-stuff kind of recipe. All you need are tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, salt, and pepper. This recipe makes a pretty big batch, but it keeps in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for up to four months. Yay, meal prep! 4. Meat Sauce With Peppers and Carrots Puréed veggies are kind of a genius way to get an extra serving or two into picky eaters (kids, husbands, yourself… ). This recipe blends carrots, celery, red bell pepper, onion, and spinach, then adds the mix to crushed tomatoes and lean ground beef. Swap the marinara sauce for fresh or more crushed tomatoes to cut down on the sugar and sodium. 5. Crock-Pot Veggie Tomato Sauce Crock-Pots are major time-savers and a perfect compromise for a lazy Sunday (you’re making dinner for the week, sort of!). Throw all the ingredients in the pot and cook on low for four hours… just enough time to get some laundry done, clean the kitchen, or binge-watch half a season of your fave show. 6. Turkey Bolognese Sauce Ground turkey takes pasta sauce up a notch in both the protein and taste departments. We love that this recipe uses cinnamon instead of sugar (one of our favorite healthy swaps) and chicken stock for even more flavor. 7. Puttanesca Sauce This classic Italian dish is best served over pasta, but also works great on top of a plain ol’ piece of chicken breast—trust us, it’s far from short on flavor. Anchovies are a bit of an acquired taste, so feel free to leave them out if they’re not your thing. Olives, capers, garlic, and plum tomatoes make up the rest of the salty-sweet sauce.

I Spent 20 Years Following My Dream… but Quitting Made Me Happier

From the last batch of headshots I ever took, when I was clearly totally miserable and exhausted. I spent almost two decades pursuing my dream of becoming a working actress. In my bleaker moments, such as driving home from an audition in which I had to dance like a chicken in a bikini, I imagined what it would be like if I quit. In my fantasy, walking away from acting felt monstrous and fittingly movie-moment climactic: a grand proclamation ("I AM GIVING UP ON MY LIFELONG DREAM"), a grief-filled packing of my car, a defeated retreat to my parents' basement in suburban Virginia. But like so many potential dramas, quitting acting was nothing but an almost imperceptible shift of gravity. It didn't happen in an instant. It was gradual: missing a class, the quiet tucking away of headshots, letting my IMDBpro membership lapse.

I think a lot about my 13-year-old self, full of that uniquely 13-year-old psychotic fervor. At that age, I'd proclaim to anyone who might seem like they were listening that I would never, ever give up on my dream of being an actress, that this was my destiny, that I was that one in a million! According to 13-year-old me, I would star in The X-Files, get married to Leonardo DiCaprio, and do Maybelline commercials ("Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Maybelline… NOPE, SHE'S MARRIED TO LEONARDO DICAPRIO. SHE WAS TOTALLY BORN WITH IT.")

I did not get cast in the X-Files, however. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park. Now I wish I could creep on my 13-year-old self, a la A Christmas Carol (Ghost of Christmas That's Totally Creepin' on You), and tell her that all those years equating her worth with her work would wear her down and strip her of everything she valued about herself. I would tell her that the time she spent worrying that she wasn't pretty enough or thin enough or appealing enough would come at a terrible cost to her sense of self-worth. I'd explain how uncomfortable she would be promoting herself, how dirty she would feel befriending people who might be able to help her get ahead.

I'd like to note here that I don't mean to denigrate my actor friends; it's bold and gutsy to believe in yourself enough to survive in that industry. I've just never had that particular brand of moxie, and that's totally OK too. I have other very nice qualities.

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For me, the grind of auditioning slowly suffocated my love of the art until it was gone, but I still pushed on, terrified to acknowledge the loss. My latent depression sensed the blood in the water and surfaced, feeding off every rejection, every perceived failure, turning me into someone my 13-year-old self would barely recognize, someone fearful and jealous and bitter and sad.

I still don't regret any of those very difficult years; they shaped me into a much wiser—and gentler—person. We are so many different people in a lifetime; we change so very much, things affect our lives in ways we can't anticipate, and it doesn't make any sense to maintain some sort of token loyalty to a dream to which we pledged ourselves a million selves ago.

And it is. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park.

Being an actress was never my identity; being an actress isn't an identity at all. But it was only when I stopped defining myself that way that I rediscovered all of the things that I actually am: loyal and funny and strange, and surprisingly resilient.

If I were to go back to that 13-year-old, I'd encourage her to be kind, because I wasn't very understanding at 13, and the decision to give up acting didn't come without a cost. I watch the people from my former life in movies and on TV, living the dream I wanted so long for myself. I wonder how long it might have taken, if I would have gotten there myself had I just pushed on for a little longer. I once heard that when a great love is over, it takes half the length of the affair to truly heal from it. But I'm not worried, because I've also learned to be patient.

Best. Makeup. Ad. Ever. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park.

I know I've been acting like I really wish I could tell my former self all of these things, but I'm pretty grateful I don't have to because, as I said, I wasn't super understanding back then, and I don't know that as a teenager I would have truly understood exactly why being a grown woman dancing like a chicken in a bikini is so disheartening. I would probably just give her a big hug and tell her everything is going to be just fine, because that's really what you need to hear when you're 13. I know that because now that's what I tell my dreamer students at a job that I love that pays for an apartment all my very own.

It's been difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I have fallen out of love with my dream, and I think that, if maybe I had read something honest and (hopefully a little) comforting, maybe it would have made it easier to face. So if you're facing, or trying not to face, something similar, I hope you can pat yourself on the back, and give your poor little heart a huge break. I hope you can remind yourself that we should all feel incredibly grateful that we are not held accountable to every dream we had when we were kids. But some dreams, of course, are timeless (Leo, I'm looking at you.)

Mikayla Park is a teacher/nonprofit creative person residing in the slums of Beverly Hills. Find her, and her two charming rescue dogs, everywhere at @mikaylapark.

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