travel

Ireland 2019

Growing up, travel was never something that my family prioritized. A vacation was a week at the beach, or going somewhere close by but relaxing enough to unwind. I, however, was always fascinated with travel and felt in my heart that I was destined to explore. As a child, I was particularly enthralled with Italy, feeling a deep-rooted connection to my heritage and the beauty of the cuisine and warm, hospitable atmosphere.

When I was sixteen, I was finally given the opportunity to head abroad on a school trip. We spent two weeks gallivanting across Europe, and I was in my glory. The food, the culture, the meeting of new people- it all fascinated me. I vividly remember the burning desire I had to return, the moment I hopped off the plane.

When given the opportunity to travel- it is something I take full advantage of. I am so grateful to have been able to explore so many beautiful places, and yet I always have this insatiable desire to see more. Luckily, my boyfriend is equipped with the same passion (perhaps even more so), and is constantly looking looking where we should head next. We of course, are college students and unfortunately do not have an indispensable amount of cash to travel in excess or luxury, but in simply exploring any new places we can- we make it work.

This is a long overdue post- but this past March, we decided to book a trip to Ireland. With flights being pretty cheap, and in finding a reasonable hotel- Sam and I snuck in a five day getaway in the midst of my unusual college schedule.

I have a three day weekend every week for school, and without a formal spring break, I was willing to sacrifice a day of school for this adventure. We left on Friday afternoon, and returned Tuesday night. In going to The Culinary Institute of America, Stewart International Airport is only about forty minutes away from me. We booked tickets for Friday night, so that we could leave for the airport right after I got out of class and maximize our travel time. With only a carry-on each, we boarded the plane and woke up in Dublin (well, Sam woke up in Dublin… I cannot fall sleep on a plane). We arrived around 7 am. local time, and were eagerly ready to hit the ground running upon arrival. We took the bus from the airport to the city center, and checked in at our hotel, Temple Bar Inn. It was the perfect location, right in the heart of the Temple Bar quarter, in a bustling neighborhood of pubs, shops, and lively action at all times of day. We began to check out the area, and sat down for a pint of Guinness and some fish and chips… at 11 am. I quickly found out that Guinness is NOT my thing, but I scarfed it down anyway (when in Ireland, right?).

The first thing we learned about Ireland, is that the weather is incredibly unpredictable. Rain could come out of nowhere, clear and sunny skies turning into torrential downpours. Not even nice and mellow rain, I am taking the kind that turns umbrellas inside out. To keep our trip economical, we relied on primarily walking and taking as few Uber/ Taxis as possible. On our first day, we checked out Saint Patricks Cathedral, Saint Stephen’s Green Shopping Center, and eventually the Guinness Storehouse. We booked our tickets for the storehouse online, and were able to skip the long line upon arrival. The actual exhibits itself were informative and entertaining, but the best part is the top floor with a 360 view of Dublin. With each ticket, you receive a ticket for a free pint, so I tried my best to gulp it down, but I was over it and Sam gladly accepted it.  I did, however learn how to properly pour a Guinness (pictured below). I was just happy to be taking in the incredible view that we unintentionally booked for sunset. Being up for 48 hours at this point, we grabbed burgers and called it an early night.

 

The next day, we took a chance and booked seats on the Paddy-Wagon Bus Tour. A bit skeptical, we met for the bus around 8 am. We boarded the bus, unsure what to expect, and quickly became pleasantly surprised when we took off with tour guide, Val. We booked the Cliffs of Moher Tour (approx. 2 hours away from us) for a mere 45 euros, and were granted admission to the cliffs and also stops at Doolin Village, Kinvara, Bunratty Castle, and the “mini-cliffs” at The Burren. Along the way, our tour guide gave a locals perspective and informed us on the history of each place we went. It was TOTALLY worth the money for us, as we were entertained from 8am-10pm, and were able to do our own thing, not being tied down to listening to a speech all day. At each location, you are dropped off, able to do whatever you’d like, and simply expected to be back on the bus at the given time. We loved the Cliffs and were truly taken aback as to how grand they are. It was pretty windy and rainy out, and very slippery. There is no fence or railing, and our tour guide made it very clear that there are no safety nets to catch you if you fall. We got back on the bus, made a few more stops, only to get caught in a rare snowstorm. Yes, as if we couldn’t escape the snow from New England, it just had to follow us across the world. This was the reason we arrived back two hours later than expected, but we still were ready to hit the pubs when we got back.

That night, we realized that it was most economical for us to book another tour because we wanted to explore some other parts of the country. We headed to The Blarney Castle for day two of the Paddy-Wagon, and it was a perfect day weather-wise. We actually got to spend several hours in Cork, where my grandfathers family was from which was pretty great to see. We got back relatively early, I believe around 6ish, and got ready for our last night out. We had an awesome dinner of beef stew, mashed potatoes, and cider at The Merchants Arch. We sat on the balcony, listened to the live music, and just took in all that we had encountered so far.

For our last day, we had breakfast at a quaint little cafe, paid a stop to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, and began to pack up and head to the airport. We were there a bit early, so we had a nice lunch and said farewell to one heck of a city. Ireland was good to us.

cia, travel

top five spots at the CIA

As you know, I have wanted to attend the CIA since second grade. This past week, I was informed of a fifth grader from Texas who wrote to the school with the same intent, along with a little “Flat Stanley” cut-out of herself  asking for pictures of it around campus. I am so excited to share with you this little video I had the opportunity to work on showing off our pretty campus!

  1. Anton Plaza

This is the true heart of campus and probably the most recognizable location. Its scenic views and direct view of both Roth and the Hudson makes for a beautiful sight. In the warmer weather, the fountain is in full effect, making it the perfect place to relax on a bench with a cup of coffee and some homework (optional).

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2. Roth Hall

Personally, I spend the bulk of my time in Roth. Each of my classes are located here as well as my job in digital marketing! Fair warning, it can be a maze the first few weeks of school. SO many hallways and corridors, stairwells and rooms, that it can be a little confusing. I am still figuring out shortcuts to classes! The only downfall to Roth is its abundance of stairs… classes on the fourth floor will have your legs crying for a break. However, I am so glad this is where all of my classes are, as in the winter weather there will be no reason for me to head outside. This is also home to several of our restaurants including American Bounty and Bocuse.

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3. Farquharson “Farq” Hall

This is our unofficial “dining hall.” Yes, you may be wondering why it looks like a church… it was a former Jesuit hall and is elaborately decorated with stained glass, murals, and beautiful architecture. After grabbing food from one of the production kitchens, students can dine here with friends. It is open all day, and is famously known among students for the lovely little alcove with a plethora of plated desserts. The limitless options of free confections has proven to be very dangerous when you have a sweet tooth.

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4. Apple Pie Bakery (& our many restaurants on campus)

Oh my… Apple Pie is quite possibly the most convenient place on campus to meet your midday snack needs. Almost every day I grab something in between classes. Whether it be a tea, some cruditè and hummus, or on the days I feel like treating myself- a lovely chocolate croissant. You can be assured that everything here is made to perfection. Students are responsible for baking and running this shop.

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5. The Egg (+ its amazing view)

When I am not in class, chances are I am at our student center- The Egg. The gym, lots of food, games such as ping pong and pool, as well as comfy seating can all be found here. I personally am an avid yoga class participant, which occurs three times a week. Other classes such as spinning, intense workouts, and Zumba are offered as well. I get most of my meals here, and I am especially a fan of the breakfast spread that is put on everyday. The Egg serves all three meals, as well as snacks, desserts, a coffee bar, and a market to pick up some groceries or snacks for the room. This is essentially the hub of student life on campus.

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food

holly dolly

Believe it or not, Christmas Eve is actually my favorite holiday. (Strange right?) Don’t get me wrong, Christmas Day and presents are great, but something about that day before really feels magical.

It always begins with waking up early and awaiting the opening of the little Italian bakery my family has been going to since way before I was born. The line often wraps around the block, and getting cannolis becomes even more exciting than usual. The crowd waiting in line is always chatty, as we make conversation in the cold. The bustling movements of the crowded little shop paired the the delightful smells of holiday confections is a sight to see.

We then visit my grandparents where tins upon tins of Christmas cookies adorn her counter, and even begin to take over various rooms of the house. Between the anginettes, greek cookies, and press cookies, I bet there’s over a thousand. The crazy thing is, almost all of them go over the course of holiday celebrations!

Following all the fun of Christmas Eve during the day, we head to my aunts for dinner and festivities. This is always such a fun time with my family and I look forward to it each year.

Today I want to share with you a cookie that is very near and dear to my heart- the “Holly Dolly.” Yes, I am aware that some may call this a seven layer bar, however my mom (pictured left) has adapted the standard cookie and made this recipe her own signature confection. Today I am sharing this recipe with you + I hope you enjoy 🙂

Ingredients:

1 stick butter, melted

1 package graham cracker crumbs

1 package chocolate chips

(optional: 1 cup nuts)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 package shredded coconut

Directions:

  1. Mix graham crackers with melted butter and press mixture in bottom of 9×13′ pan to create crust.
  2. Layer ingredients.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 25-30 minutes.
  4. Cool & cut into small bars.
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gather

Gather; defined as “bringing together and taking in from scattered sources.” This year more than ever, I am recognizing what this truly means. Growing up in a relatively small town surrounded by family, I have never felt as if I was ever detached from home. I was constantly around those I loved, and therefore it never required any work to see my friends or family because chances are, I would run into them at school or at some point during the week. Being away from home, I have recognized how amazing it is to intentionally align ones schedule to allow for time together. Schedules become conflicting as life begins to move faster, and suddenly the people you saw everyday become faces you only see on occasion. My friends are spread all over the country now, and to be brought together for this magical time of year is going to be very exciting. I talk about this in Adjustinghaving that feeling that you are so unfamiliar with what the new normal is. Now that I am happy and comfortable with being at school, its almost surreal that I get to visit what seems like a different life. I will be with my friends, family, familiar surroundings, and more than ever- I am grateful (& ridiculously excited).

Plain and simple, I am a family-oriented girl. There is nothing I love more than being with my relatives and I consider myself extremely lucky to have such a supportive and loving family. I call my grandparents and mom everyday (yes, even here at college), simply because I enjoy hearing from them and appreciate their advice. At home, I live five minutes away from my immediate family, so the now two-hour trek has made those moments we share together much more special. That being said, I am really looking forward to the upcoming holidays and being able to spend time with my loved ones.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays not only for the food, but also the excitement around it. Growing up in my town, this time of year is known for homecoming, the Thanksgiving Day game, and most importantly- a game we call Powderpuff. Being the town in which actually originated the game, it is something taken quite seriously and brings a sense of nostalgia regardless of how old you are.

Between the high school football games creating excitement, family members traveling home, and just being in the presence of friends- it feels that all is right in the world. The icing on the cake is that this holiday is centered around food! The preparation that goes into it by every member of the family provides a feeling of love and comfort. When it comes time to share that meal around the table, focusing on consciously being grateful is truly something wonderful.

Immediately after eating on Thanksgiving, the sweatpants get put on as my cousins and I play board games (barely able to move after eating copious amounts of turkey and potatoes) before the shopping craze begins. These simple little moments of gathering are what I look forward to year after year. I hope you take a few minutes on your holiday to look around and appreciate all that you have.

 

 

travel

nyc: hospitality trip

This past week, I along with my peers in the Hospitality Program at the CIA were given the opportunity to head to New York City to visit several properties in the field. We began our day bright and early at the Morgan Stanley Headquarters where we explored how Restaurant Associates operates multiple culinary outlets within the facility. We then proceeded to their catering branch, CxRA where we were able to see the preparation firsthand of two large-scale events at The Lincoln Center and David Koch Theater. This was especially exciting to me, as I am interested in the event planning aspect of the industry. Lastly we visited the Marriott Marquis Hotel located in Times Square. This location is particularly known for being the location of the famous New Years Eve celebration, as well as hosting the Grammys After-Party. The hotel is composed of fifty floors and boasts the only revolving restaurant in the city, complete with skyline views.

This exploratory trip was helpful in conceptualizing what career paths are possible upon graduating. We were able to connect with highly experienced professionals who shared their wisdom and knowledge with us. Personally, from this outing, I was able to recognize that working a managerial position at a hotel is probably not up my alley. Rather, I was fascinated with what went into creating the events that CxRA produced. What struck me most is how much of an individual feel they had. We were able to witness two different events in separate locations, each having a completely different feel, but equally as classy and grand. In hearing how much the staff was passionate about their jobs, this path only interested me more.

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Overall, this was an incredible opportunity to see what this industry has to offer as well as bond with my classmates. Our trip brought awareness to the fact that the careers that may come from this degree can range extensively. I truly believe that our group brings such diversity to the table and am really looking forward to seeing where we all end up.

style

behind the scenes: halloween hacks

As you may or may not know, I have had the opportunity of filming televised baking segments with my local news program, Connecticut Style since I was in 7th grade. It initially began with a wild thought I had to go out on a limb and email one of the anchors simply to see if they could put the name of my blog on their website. I did it with the intention of possibly gaining a little audience more than just my family and friends. I have always had the “it doesn’t hurt to try” mentality, and knew the worst thing that could happen would be that I would not get a response. What do you know, the next day I had received an email back basically telling me they would put me on for my own segment. Shocked as a seventh grader with absolutely no public speaking, never mind television experience, I vividly remember calling my mom while I awaited my school bus telling her “Uhhh… I think these people want me on TV.”

From that point on, I became increasingly more comfortable in conveying my ideas on camera. I still laugh looking back at my first segment as a nervous fourteen year old. The staff at CT Style has helped me in so many ways, and they are truly a great group of people. In watching my progression over the course of seven years, I have been able to learn from my mistakes and become more self-aware. I am no professional, simply a girl who likes to talk… and eat of course.

That being said, when I came to the CIA, I had a little dream to do something very similar here. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon an opportunity to partner up with digital marketing and utilize the set kitchen to create my own segments. My intentions are to keep these videos simplistic, and provide little ways that anyone watching could take something away from. Also, in being a hospitality student, I may not do everything “by the book”, but I hope that my approachable and fun ideas will transfer and offer viewers some inspiration.

My first series “Halloween Hacks” has been a great learning experience. Alongside my boss and “producer” Josh, we have created this entire concept, developed each recipe/hack, filmed, and edited, all within the several two-hour windows of time my schedule allots per week. We are learning as we go, with this entirely new series for the CIA. A couple intentional choices we have made along the way include filming vertically, and creating items that need little to no prep. We chose vertical filming (which has proved quite the daunting task), due to the fact we are aware most of our viewers are watching via smartphone. Believe it or not, this orientation of the camera is actually trending. It has been a challenge because we need to film on a phone, making use of the tripods we have which are not exactly compatible. Using everything from rubber bands to more than one tripod, we have managed to make it work. It was also important that we choose treats that require minimal prep. As we walk across campus to reach our filming destination and must meet, gather ingredients, walk, set up, get the camera situated, film, clean up, and retreat to home base all in a two-hour time period that I have before class.

It has been such a fun experience so far, and I look forward to creating videos for the upcoming holidays! You can check out my first Halloween Hack here.

 

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style

adjusting

Ah change… how I love to hate it. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a planner, organizer, detail-machine and nothing satisfies me more than having structure. I like knowing exactly what needs to get done and especially the immense feeling of accomplishment I receive from checking something off my list of things to do. This being said, as you could imagine college was a land of uncertainty. I couldn’t wait to get going simply so I could know what to expect. After all, I have wanted to attend since second grade. The excitement leading up to move-in day was immense.

I arrived, moved in, and said my goodbyes all in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Being a very independent girl, the last thing on my mind is that I would struggle adapting. I thought the transition would be nothing short of effortless, and was completely thrown off when it wasn’t as easy as I had expected. While the first few days were fun and new, it was quite honestly overwhelming. So many changes occurring simultaneously had me in a tizzy. I found myself desiring routine more than ever. Time and time again the first few weeks I was asking myself “am I doing this right?”

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It wasn’t until I talked to my friends who are spread all along the east coast embarking on their own journeys at college, that I realized the exact uncertainty I feared is actually part of the beauty of this phase in life. I recognized that no one knows exactly what they are doing as a college freshman two-weeks in. The “fake it ’till you make it” mentality kicks in and we are all just trying our best. Taking notice to this allowed me to see that I do not need to have everything planned, and as a matter of fact I shouldn’t. I should be taking everything in that I can and focusing on finding what works for me.

Around the second week in, I began to embrace the “new normal” and once my mindset changed, I started to really savor this experience. I started living day-to-day as opposed to being daunted by the big picture. In being pushed so far out of your comfort zone, the only ability you have is to grow. It causes you to build new relationships and develop as a person. While it allows you to make your time at school more enjoyable, it also makes you cherish what you leave back at home. Being somewhere unfamiliar forces you to strengthen the relationships you already have because it is an effort to maintain. It allows you to prioritize who in your life is important. The calls home become so much more meaningful, and it wasn’t until I got here that I realized just how lucky I am to have an incredible support group.

As I hit the one-month mark of being on campus, I can honestly say that I feel comfortable. I appreciate the little things in my day, whether it be my cup of coffee in the morning, laughing with a friend, or taking in the beautifully serene views the Hudson has to offer. I have my little routine, my group of friends, and hobbies that I enjoy. I wake up each day excited for what it presents, and embrace the challenges that come along with it. So while you will still see a constant stream of sticky note lists adorning my desk, I have definitely allowed myself to realize that it is okay to have some uncertainty.