Sunday, September 14, 2014

Campus Cuisine: Getting Crafty in the Dorm Room

Hello all!
Now that we're a couple weeks in, I've decided it's time to put my Industrious Hat on. But before I reveal my culinary insight, here are a few shots from my week:

 I've been going crazy with the moon shots lately. But I can't get enough!

The stone arch is complete! It was started this summer by donation; such a gorgeous addition to the Teaching Garden.

A trip to Spencer's is never a trip wasted.

A rainy Saturday jaunt to Kountry Kart Deli in Burlington. It was a breakfast sandwich type of afternoon. (These are THE best sandwiches, and cheap to boot.)

First stop of the year at the Champlain waterfront. Even on a cold, drizzly day, it's still my favorite part of a Burlington trip.

Signs of Fall! So much for any hope of a beach day.

NOW let's get to it!
If you're anything like me...or, quite honestly, most college'll get sick of even the most impressive dining hall food after some time. Now don't get me wrong, Alliot (the main campus dining hall) is chock full of options and tasty treats. But sometimes, on a cozy night in with a movie or maybe just a rainy day, it can be fun to get creative and shake things up. Trust me, there is so much more out there than just Easy-Mac (thank god). So without further ado, here are some of my favorite dorm room recipes to be crafted quickly and simply in the microwave!

1.) Single Serving Chocolate Chip Cookie

Missing homemade baked goods? Yeah, me too. And if you ask me, it's pretty hard to beat the classic chocolate chip cookie. 
Around the middle of freshman year, my mom forwarded me an email she'd received from a friend with a microwaveable chocolate chip cookie recipe. Naturally, I wanted to try it ASAP.
It came out AMAZING, so soft and gooey, and just small enough so that we didn't feel guilty after. 

Find the recipe here!
(I didn't use this exact one, but it was pretty much the same thing.)

 2.) Nachos

Obviously, right?! Well, maybe not, because it just happened to slip my mind all through freshman year that I could make nachos in the microwave.
But the important thing here is to excuse yourself from the lazy chips, cheese, and salsa recipe. Come on. I know you can do better than that. 
Lately, I've been throwing a few extras into the mix...some tasty suggestions are black olives, and best of all, single-serving packets of guacamole found in the grocery store!

Just squeeze one of these bad boys on there, and you'll wonder why you don't have this for dinner every night. (Just kidding, definitely don't do that.)

Also never forget that cheddar cheese isn't the only option out personal favorite is pepper jack. Yum!

3.) A Crafty Man's Ramen Noodles

Oh, my good friend Ramen.
Chances are you'll find yourself knee-deep in this stuff more than anything else when it comes to dorm room cuisine. But fear not, there's no need to keep it simple! 
A couple of different ways that I get crafty with this freshman-fifteen-staple involve Tabasco sauce and, don't freak out...WINGS.

Throwing three or four splashes of Tabasco on there after microwaving gives Ramen a nice kick that veers your palate from the overwhelming salt, salt, and salt. 

In addition to that, we also often find ourselves with some Wings Over Burlington (HIGHLY recommended) leftovers. Our go-to order is a pound of boneless Jamaican Jerk wings. (I'd never heard of Jamaican Jerk before Wings Over, but I'm telling you right now that it's worth trying. Maybe a few thousand times.) So, long story short, break those leftovers into bite-size pieces, toss them right on top of the noodles, and all of a sudden you're at an elevated state of Ramen. A serious upgrade, believe me. 

**NOTE: Minus the heavy chicken additive, this makes a great sick day remedy when there's no homemade soup around. Add a few extra drops of Tabasco for supercharged sinus-clearing power!

Once the weather gets colder, I plan on experimenting with a few more mug-dessert recipes. There are about a billion out there, surprisingly. I will be sure to post pictures and recipes once that happens! 
In the meantime, stay tuned next Sunday the 21st for more!

*FUN FIND OF THE DAY* (I'll have to try some of these!)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Survival in General: Learning From Amateur Mistakes

Hello all! Boy oh boy, has this first week been a wild ride. Just as expected, I've launched right back into Saint Mike's life, and aside from a few moments of (un)packing-panic and first week fatigue, it's been a pretty seamless transition. Here are a few shots from my first week:

 My kingdom! 

School supplies shopping! Just kidding, bad decisions at Walmart. 

It's a guy thing. 

Pretty views from study nooks. Makes it pretty tough to study, actually. 

Sniped at my worst. And yes, to answer the question, I was. 

Sunsets over the 300s field.

Stepped outside to snap a quick shot of the moon with my zoom lens.

Green, green, green.

Spotted: pasta salad, anyone? 

 A nature stroll at Gilbrook Trail while the weather was nice.

Now that classes have officially begun and you've hopefully started to get into the swing of things, it's time for some more personal tips and tricks for you incomers (prospective students, take note as well!).
Freshman year of college is scary and wonderful all at once. Mostly wonderful, of course. I considered it the best transition of my life, and still do, but now that I've been in and out of freshman year, I've come to realize lots of things I could have done differently.
Getting tossed into such a new, foreign environment can often land newcomers into a lazy routine. At least that's what happened to me. So thankfully, this is going to be something that not only I can learn from in my oncoming sophomore year, but that you newcomers and prospective students can also learn from ahead of time!

1.) Balance School and Fun.

I know what you're thinking: "obviously go to class, do your homework, blah blah blah etc." But that's not the route that I'm going to take. Of course it's going to be in your best interest to do those things, but I'm trusting you know that already. What you may not know now, however, is how easy it can be to get stuck in a weekday routine of go to class, get homework done, nap, eat, sleep. The important thing in these particular years of our lives, however, is to learn when to give ourselves a break. Stay spontaneous, get out, meet lots of people, have an adventure. That's what it's all about!

2.) Keep it Clean!

Take it from someone who let herself go a little bit in the laundry-doing and bed-making departments. On the days that I did have a neat and clean room, however, I felt more prepared for my day, and I just felt better in general. It can be really difficult to bring yourself to do anything productive (or go about your day normally, for that matter) when you return to a black hole after class. So don't let things get too out of order in there, and take twenty minutes each week to get things back to their neatly stacked, color-coordinated state. Tackle that pile of dishes, vacuum the hairballs off your carpet (girls, you'll know what I'm talking about soon enough!), and dust the desktop. You'll be glad you did! (I typically got this taken care of on Friday afternoons, before the weekend came into play!)


You know how the saying goes, but trust me, it's true. Those early morning classes are painful no matter what, but we have enough to worry about without having to make a conscious effort to keep our eyes open. And coffee alone isn't going to cut it! Those gross, groggy, still-have-eye-boogers feelings are much less after a little Alliot time. Fortunately, Alliot (the main campus dining hall) happens to do breakfast really well. You can find me at the grill ordering my eggs, chugging down some of Alliot's famous chocolate milk! (Just wait till you try it...amazing.)

4.) Look Good, Feel Good!

I think we can all admit that we feel much more motivated when we know we're looking snazzy! However, sometimes the last thing we feel like doing when that alarm goes off is to make ourselves look presentable. And though sweatpants and Uggs are perhaps most highly accepted as daily-wear at college, it can be a nice mood boost to remind people that's not all we own every once in a while. 
Along the same lines- on a "slept through my alarm" day, gum and perfume might be all you have time for before class. But on any other ordinary day, they are not a shower substitute. You will regret making them one.

5.) Take Care of Yourself.

The freshman fifteen comes for all of us in the end. But fortunately, feeling gross in general can be minimized. While the shortest lines often involve pizza and fries, be sure to visit the salad bar often and take it easy on the grease. You'll be glad you did. Take it from someone who made way too many ginger ale runs in attempt to forget all the mayo she'd just shoveled down with her french fries. Sorry for the graphic's a point that needed making. (PS, you will have free gym access. Between the Ross Sports Center and the cardio gym in Dion, you're out of excuses already!)

Long story short, have your lazy days. Have a whole bunch of them, even! Just don't forget to remind yourself every once in a while how good you deserve to feel. Let your best, most confident self shine through, and you'll be unstoppable!

**HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS, these are all tips worth taking note of for sure. When I was in your position in the fall of 2012, I pictured a college kid as a fully formed, figured-out being with all the answers and none of the doubt or questions. Perhaps having that picture in my head was the biggest mistake I made entering freshman year here.
If you guys learned anything from this post, I hope it's that not one of us, even at this incredible school that is Saint Mike's, comes close to matching that image. Because college is a place to grow and evolve, and that often comes with a lot of doubt, questions, challenges, and hurdles. The perfect thing is, however, that Saint Mike's couldn't be a better place to face those obstacles that encompass this part of your life's journey. Because amidst everything hard, there is so much support, love, and adventure. You won't find an experience quite as magical anywhere else.
On that note, good luck with your final year of high school, enjoy it while it lasts! After all, you'll never be in high school again. Keep working hard, keep making memories, and keep Saint Mike's in the back of your mind! I'm sure glad I did.

Hope this was enlightening for all, stay tuned next Sunday the 14th for more!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Move In/Room Tour!

After a grueling four hours of hauling and taping, I'm officially moved in! The next few days will definitely have a lot of organizing time put aside, but it'll be worth some well-deserved relaxation time today.

Now that the hard part is out of the way, I’d like to share some dorm-living tips with you all. For those of you no-longer-prospective-students who have already moved in, these still apply to you! Note: rooms are always subject to re-decoration/re-organization!

1.) Décor

If you’re like me, you prefer personalized decorations over a collection of random posters that any given dorm room could be plastered with. I kept it simple:

This way, you can add a touch of home home to your college home. Plus, I feel a little craftier this way (a trait I’ve always wished I had more of!). I feel like these decorations represent me way more effectively than a Josh Hutcherson poster could (don’t laugh, but that one lives at home home).

  My cousin Brenna painted this cute Emerson quote for me as a going-away gift before freshman year started. Having this not only gives me a piece of family at school, but it’s a daily reminder to stay spontaneous and fun in this gorgeous location of ours!

If you read faithfully, you may remember my last post of the school year in May, when I lost my good pal Lucy. I’ve brought her with me this time, since she’s no longer around at home. :(

  In the last waking moments of vacation, I decided I had way too many adventures this summer to not bring along a reminder of them all. Things were very different this summer than in summers past, and it made for an amazing ride. Throughout the collage are sprinkled memories of Aruba, camping, white water rafting, my favorite little beachside breakfast joint, BB guns in the backyard, 4th of July fireworks, egg on a spoon with my best friend, and so much more. Couldn’t be happier to have this here. 

It’s never a bad idea to keep a bulletin board at your disposal. You never know when you’ll get a school announcement you want to hang on to, a funny card from home, or a cute memento you want to remember. 

2.) Desk

Keeping a neat, thoughtfully decorated desk helps to anchor you there when the temptations of smoothie-runs and friend-visits call the loudest.

Graaaanted, I didn't quite have all the time, patience, and sanity today to get things all nice and color-coordinated as I'd previously imagined. But I've got a few pictures anyway!

With far more limited storage space this year, my desk has taken on a much larger responsibility! I like to keep my laptop front and center, with all my books/notebooks/binders on the side. Add a few decorative pieces, and you're in business! I kept a change jar on my desk all through last year (that's the big Mason jar in the back), and it managed to yield $60 after counting this summer! A highly recommended saving tactic, plus it doubles as a cute accent to all the textbooks!

 Before I come up to move in, I like to pre-label my notebooks and folders for the classes they'll correspond to. It saves some valuable time (especially with class bright and early tomorrow). Now they're all ready for action! Throw them right in the backpack with your planner and pen, and all set.

As for the rest of your room, things typically have their own way of falling into place. You'll slowly but surely discover certain things that you need to be in certain places, what matters and what doesn't quite as much, etc. etc. Nobody's room looks Pinterest-perfect right from the start. Give it a few days! (This is advice to myself just as much as it is advice to you!)

 Well, as much as I'd love to drone on some more, it's been a busy day, and I'm ready for some low-key time. Good luck to the freshmen, I'm sure orientation went amazing, and stay tuned next Sunday the 7th for some more life-living tips and tricks!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Almost There!

A little earlier than I'd planned, but I just had so many stories to share I couldn't help but write my first post of the year a couple weeks ahead of time!
This has most definitely been my busiest summer yet...I feel like I haven't stopped for a second! The best part is, I have all sorts of memories to share with you all. Stick around till the end, where I'll share a few of my tips for a successful move-in and orientation! But first...


Hey now. One short week into summer vacation, my friend Mikayla and I ventured on down to beautiful Aruba for nine days! I had my first snorkeling experience, burned the life out of my stomach, and absolutely blew up Instagram. (Sorry, everyone.) Here are a few highlights...

 We stayed at the gorgeous Costa Linda Resort, with this at our immediate access all day long! Not a bad view at all. 

I couldn't seem to get enough sunset shots. If there was a time to go crazy with the moment-capturing, this was certainly the place to do it.

Our wild dog (yes, wild dog) friend at Baby Beach, where we paid $8 for a chair, and $1 plus a mile walk for the bathroom. We snorkeled for about ten minutes before we realized we weren't going to see anything good unless we braved the open ocean beyond the reef. May have been an opportunity missed,  but we still made it out with our lives and a few disposable camera shots of translucent fish.

The California Lighthouse- nearly crashed an engagement photoshoot for this shot, but I'd say it was well worth it. 

2.) White Water Rafting!!!
I was back from Aruba for a week before I was at it again. A group of us made our way to Millinocket, Maine, yanked on some wetsuits and rafted the Penobscot River for the weekend. This was my third year in a row of rafting, but I have to say, this was the most treacherous trip yet. With the water level a tad lower than it had been for us in years past, each rapid became bumpier. That being said, we had our very first raft-flip at a daunting 13 foot waterfall...not an experience I would care to repeat. However, we've all lived to tell the tale, and I made it out with plenty of photo documentation, as usual.
 The Penobscot around sunset, taken from where we'd set up camp for the night.

The very waterfall that sank our ship. See that stretch of water that sort of drops off below the sun? That's right about where right-side-up became upside-down. Goodness gracious.

A quick adventure to this gorgeous view of Mount Katahdin.

3.) Work

After returning from the Penobscot, I finally buckled down and started my regular work schedule for the summer, lifeguarding at the YWCA of Greater Newburyport Monday through Friday. This was my first summer working that many hours, and it was uplifting to finally feel like a big part of things around there. I worked with an amazing group of people who I became very close with, some who sadly won't be returning next summer. But the moral of the story is, I had an amazing experience in which work no longer felt like a burden, but instead a part of my summer.
 Our last day with the full crew, captured with the utmost class and style.

The Yankee Homecoming Bed Race, 2014...a Newburyport tradition in which local businesses decorate a "bed" of sorts (on wheels), dress up according to theme, and haul down Federal Street. This year we decided to enter as a staff, designating yours truly as the "rider". So, doing my very best to take one for the team, I mounted our flimsy stretcher of a "bed", begged them not to run too fast, and held on tight. Once again, I live to tell the tale. ("Why worry when you've got a team of lifeguards by your side?" was not as comforting as it should have been.)

4.) A few more adventures...
 The final year of the Danvers 3rd of July Fireworks...a family tradition that will surely be missed.

Exploring Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, MA...easily one of the most picturesque towns I've ever been to. 

Kayaking Loon Pond in Acton, it just me, or does this give off a Notebook vibe (minus the swans)? I definitely felt like Rachel McAdams that day.

Camping at White Lake State Park in Tamworth, NH. Always an Instagram-worthy sunset here.

Ziplining at Wildcat Mountain...and yes, I took my phone along for the ride to document. A risk worth taking for sure.

With the majority of the summer come and gone (very quickly, I might add), it's time to start getting excited about heading back to St. Mike's. But let's get real...I've been excited since I left in May. So without further ado, here are a few tips for a smooth move-in day and orientation weekend! Incoming freshmen...I am so excited to see all your brand new faces!

1.) Relaaaxxxx
I only say this because I didn't. I felt like one way or the other,  I was going to end up missing something with all the bustling energy that was move-in day. But the truth is, moving in takes way less time than you would think. So enjoy those last few hours with the fam before you part ways for a little while, you'll have the rest of the weekend to run around like a crazy person making all the friends in the world! 

2.) Get Out and About!
The majority of the meeting and greeting happens during orientation weekend. You'll find that most everyone is bouncing from room to room saying hi, or engaging in a lively game of Clap-Ball on the lawn. Join in! Everyone is in the exact same boat as one is best friends already, and no one is going to turn down the chance to meet yet another someone new!

3.) Keep Getting Out and About!
If you happen to make a really great pal especially early on, that's fantastic! Keep hanging out with them, texting them, and meeting up at Alliot. But whatever you do, don't take it as an invitation to stop meeting new people. The people you meet here will most likely be the people you'll be around for a good long while, so water all the seeds and see which ones grow!

3.) Go to the Events!
I was very surprised to find that anyone would want to skip out, but there's always a party pooper. Don't be that guy/girl! Such an unbelievable amount of bonding happens throughout the events of orientation weekend (which I won't get specific about, because you should be surprised!), so you don't want to be the one that's too cool for it all. Trust me, it's an amazing time. Get into it!

4.) Take Pictures!
I know I might sound a little biased here, and I do love a good photo-op...but you'll be happy you documented the earliest moments of freshman year. Looking back on my own photos, I'm amazed at how far we've all come and how much has changed in just a year. These are the memories you'll want to keep! 

All that being said, I hope all you incoming freshmen have an amazing move-in day and orientation weekend! It is by far the most exciting, enthusiastic weekend at St. Mike's...or quite possibly the most enthusiastic weekend you'll have in your life! Make the most of it, and stay tuned for a few more life-living tips on Sunday the 31st. 

See you soon!!! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Wrapping it Up

I'll start with noting that sadly, this will be my last post of the year! It's been such a great time; I'm very sad that it'll be a few months before I'm blogging again. The good news is, I'll have plenty of great new ideas, stories, and photos to share come September!
The last few days have been both exciting and busy...I got one final out of the way, with one more to go on Tuesday. To celebrate the last weekend on campus, we ventured to Burlington one last time. Strawberry smoothies, playing with the lava lamps at Spencer's, puppy-petting on the boardwalk, and some more ski-drooling made for a great last trip.

Gonna miss this view for sure! 

In other news, the Cavanaugh family lost a valued member this weekend.

Loveable, energized, and fun till the end, Lucy will undoubtedly be missed. But thankfully, it was a quick escape to Gilbrook Trail (right next to campus) for a head-clearing hike.

Amidst everything going on, we've all made our last few days fun and chock full of great memories. It will be a long summer away from this place, but I know that returning will be even more glorious with a set of new faces to discover! As you prepare for your transition to St. Mike's throughout the summer, remember to continue making a few more high school memories.
On another note, I hope lots of you have begun considering the summer orientation options, WOW, POW, SOAR, Knight Overnight, and the Service Weekend. I went on POW, and as my first official St. Mike's experience, it was certainly an unforgettable one. I got the chance to meet several of my soon-to-be classmates, and I even met my very best friend Jared. It was an incredible weekend away that served as the perfect transition into starting my first semester of college. Already knowing a few familiar faces on move-in day was an invaluable comfort! Consider it very highly recommended! More information on POW and other summer orientation programs can be found here.
Lastly, as you pack and prepare, please try not to stress! St. Mike's sends plenty of reassuring information, packing lists, confirmation, etc. throughout the summer, so you will never be left behind or out of the loop! I cannot wait to meet you all in the fall!