Sunday, October 26, 2014

Busy Weeks: How to Keep it Together

Boy oh boy...between writing my article for The Defender (link will come next Sunday!) and various other festivities of the week, things were absolutely crazy! It was definitely the busiest week I've had this semester. Thankfully, I made it through unscathed, completely intact.
It's incredibly important during these busy weeks to have some sort of plan to help yourself get through it all. But before I get to that, here are some shots from my crazy week!

Some more foliage: this was perhaps the only moment that it wasn't raining this week.

The biggest event of the week, and perhaps of the year: Foster the People came to St. Mike's for the Fall Concert! 
We were lucky enough to get a spot in the front (we got there the second the doors opened), but that also meant there was a lot of pushing and shoving to endure. There were way more diehards than I'd expected! 
Extreme coziness aside, Foster the People did an amazing job. They were great performers and sang excellent live. I wish I'd gotten a video, but to be honest, I was afraid of dropping my phone amongst the fist-pumping and never seeing it again! So I only made it out with a little documentation.

...I made it out with the one guitar pick they threw into the crowd at the end! It now resides safely in my little jewelry container. So glad for this souvenir! 

In other less exciting news, we made it out to Olive Garden for a cheap college student's night out...the never-ending pasta bowl! Highly recommended for one of those nights that you're craving something new and different. 

And now, for the cutest event of the weekend, and perhaps the most innovative Saturday idea we've ever had...

We visited the adoption center at Pet Smart and had some bonding time with Toad, the 15-week-old kitten! These photos hardly do his size justice. He was such a cutie. Unfortunately, we felt bad staying too long because he was clearly sleepy, so it was quick, but worth it!

Another trip to Burlington! This time it started raining just as we were getting down to the water, so it was a few quick pictures and then a run back to the car! 

After some Halloween-costume-prep (which will all be revealed next Sunday!), the weekend was complete.

Needless to say, I pretty much just documented the fun stuff this week. But believe you me, the planner was full:

...and the question remains, how do we make things easier on ourselves?

1.) Know the Week Ahead of You

A lot of the time, we know some of the events of our busy week before the week begins. For example, I had several interviews lined up for my Defender article, as well as different deadlines for different drafts of the article. Mentally preparing yourself with the things you already know are going to happen helps to gain a sense of what the week is going to be like before you dive into it.

2.) Write it Down

The second you know a date for a quiz, an assignment checkpoint, a meeting, or just something you want to remember: write it down. The second you think of it or know about it. Whether you rely on a To-Do list, a weekly planner, or even just the Notes feature of your iPhone, it's important to keep up with this written schedule. When one thing after the next comes up throughout your week, you'll be glad you're writing them down as they come. That way, you can release them from your racing mind until you have to get them done!

3.) Cross it Off

Once you get something done on your list/planner, cross it off! That way, the only things you're seeing are the things you still have to get done. This minimizes the pressure immensely, as well as eliminates any confusion as to what you have and haven't already taken care of. Think about it...would you feel better glancing over a To-Do list of ten tasks, or three? I think we all know the answer to that.

4.) Get the Little Things Out of the Way

This year, I've gotten into a habit of getting things done as they come in. That way, they're out of the way, and they're not hanging over my head. If it's a bigger project that's going to take some more time, break it up. Do one part Monday, the next Tuesday, etc. Plan it out in chunks, and still try to get it done as soon as you can. Once you're done with it, it's one less thing to worry about.

5.) Stay Organized

When you're on a tight schedule, the last problem you want to run into is forgetting where you put something. That's valuable time out the window. You don't have time to clean up a messy desk, so don't let it get messy in the first place! Stay on top of things, and you'll have everything where you need it, when you need it. 

It's possible! You will survive! In my personal experience, I've found that I'm less stressed, more motivated, and more prepared when I know I'm on top of these five things. Don't let your work get ahead of you, and know you are in control. Then, it's only you and your fabulous planner taking over the world.
Good luck, and stay tuned next Sunday the 2nd for more!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Long Weekend: Keeping Yourself Relaxed AND Busy

This weekend, we finally got our first day off from classes at Saint Mike's! Though the academic calendar refers to it as "October Break", all I could keep telling myself this week was "Long weekend! Long weekend!" Needless to say, it was a much needed and long awaited break, and we definitely made the most of it once it finally came around.
But before I unveil how to have a relaxing break without turning it into a complete bum-fest, here are a few shots from my week:

Earlier this week, Alliot had a guest chef from Germany come in to make both meals and desserts throughout the day. For dinner, we had beef, potatoes, brussels sprouts with bacon, and pumpernickel bread. This was my first ever brussels sprouts experience, but how can you be intimidated by anything that's covered with bacon? You can't. And they were sensational. Best of all, dessert included a smoothie-esque strawberry cream, and a sour fruit jelly with blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Different, but delicious!

 This shot does not do this sunset justice. But isn't that always the way?

Got this blast from the past in a Snapchat from my cousin, who'd clearly been strolling down memory lane, photo album in hand. What a pick-me-up that was. Classic!

Anyway, it seems like the shortest weeks take the longest, just because you're at the edge of your seat waiting for them to end. But that didn't stop any of us from having a productive week! 
However, just as the weekend kicked off, I'd need to squeeze out one final burst of productivity. Probably more than I had available to squeeze. This week was my week to pick up a story-pitch from The Defender, Saint Mike's' school newspaper, for my Reporting for Media class. Luckily, I was able to claim a great topic that corresponds perfectly with my current study abroad plans. I won't give any more away, because I want you all to keep an eye out for my story in the upcoming edition (link to the paper above).
Regardless, my anxious search for sources to interview made a pretty big impact on my Thursday, but I got very lucky and was able to set up five interviews by the end of the day. With the toughest part of writing a story out of the way, the long weekend commenced!

After a relaxing Thursday night watching Bad Grandpa and munching on pizza, our Friday-off began with another trip to Shelburne Orchards, where we were told from the get-go that we probably wouldn't find any more apples that day.
But since it was such a nice day in such a beautiful place, we took a stroll through the Orchard anyway. And sure enough...

...apples would make an appearance after all! Though some intense branch-shaking, reaching, and lifting were required, we found the perfect apple amongst all the little baby ones up top (and the rotting ones on the ground, of course).

A gorgeous day at the Orchard ended with a gorgeous donut (maybe six) just can't beat a Cider Donut from Shelburne Orchards. And speaking of donuts...

I captured him!!! Mr. "Don't Feed Me Donuts" himself. He was scouring the ground at a pretty good pace, so I couldn't even get his face, much less his "Don't Feed Me Donuts" bandana. But he's been documented nonetheless! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, get the story on this adorable Shelburne Orchards regular here.

Sadly, something tells me that was the last time we'll be able to make it out to Shelburne Orchards this year, and it'll definitely be missed. But I can say with confidence that we'll be back as soon as possible! 

After lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and a trip to Walmart to find the silliest game to spend the rest of our afternoon with, we made it back to campus with Left for Dead, a zombie-slaying video game. (Just to get nice and amped for tonight's new Walking Dead episode!!!)
I'm far from a video game expert, so it took me a little while to get the hang of things. Though my avatar did die eventually (it was only a matter of time), I did manage to slay a few zombies on the way. It was truly the best I could ask for.

Although we didn't make it out of the Orchard that day with any apples, we still had two leftover from our first trip a few weeks back. So, we made the best of what we had left of those and our leftover crust...

Dorm-baked beauty! At what was no more than a five inch diameter, this pie was by far my cutest creation yet. (The basket weave and fork-detail were cute-factor essentials.) Between this and our pizza leftovers from Thursday night, we quickly became completely done with food for the day.

Saturday brought the rain. I swear it's a curse. Regardless, we made the best of it, as always! We made it to the gym for a workout and the library for homework (yup, we're superheroes), and saved the fun-stuff for that night. Before that, however, I snagged a shot of the biggest, brightest rainbow I have ever seen!

Still no justice done. I literally ran to get this before it faded. Sorry to anyone I likely creeped out along the way.

Long after the rainbow faded and the night came around, we made our first trip to Majestic 10 Cinema, and after sneaking in a few gas-station-snacks, we sat down in a packed theater to watch Gone Girl. A quality production and a creative, edge-of-your-seat plot for sure...but I wouldn't recommend it to the faint-hearted or weak-stomached. Or anybody with a soul, for that matter. Deeply unsettling to say the least. Won't be forgetting it any time soon, I'll give it that. 

Now that Sunday has rolled around (along with a shocking burst of cold), the long weekend has come to an end. 
Thankfully, there are so many places to discover and adventures to be had around here, that it's impossible to ever have a boring break. I'll say it now and I'll say it again...always make it a point to relax, explore, and get things done. Now that's a break worth your while! 

Stay tuned next Sunday the 26th for more!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Beginning the Process: Study Abroad

An idea that's been so foreign and frightening to me for the past year has finally become exciting and thrilling in my mind, and I couldn't be happier.
But before I get into the awakenings of my study abroad planning, here are a few shots from my week/weekend:

 More distracting studying spots...if you follow me on Instagram and Twitter (find those links in the "Contact Me" tab), you'll see how often I'm tempted by the outdoors while parked in front of a laptop.

 More Fall foliage...Vermont is just killing it nowadays.

Yesterday, we made our way out to Oakledge Park. Though it was a bit cloudy and brisk, it was still a gorgeous spot that we couldn't believe we'd just discovered.

 After admiring the water, we found a neat little (well, not so little) tree house, complete with initial-carved benches and a door of woven sticks. What a cool place. We'll definitely be back!

Annnnd, perhaps the highlight of the weekend...

 I finally got new skis! They're long overdue, with my old pair chattering beneath my feet and progressively bending as time goes on (they won't even clip together anymore!).
After a long, daunting search through online sales, I landed on a great deal with the women's 2014 Solomon Lumen: utility-rockered and super wide, I'll finally be able to get into some Vermont powder and navigate some glades with far more ease than before! (Not to mention these will actually clip together when the day is done. A relief for sure!) Passes will be coming out soon through Saint Mike's (I'll note more detail once that happens!) and before we know it, trees will turn from red to white, and ski season will be upon us. With my brand new ride on their way, I'm more excited now than ever before to get back on the slopes! 

And not long after that, I'll be putting the finishing touches on my study abroad prep. But right now, it's just beginning.
As many of you may already know, the Media Studies, Journalism, and Digital Arts major requires its students to study abroad. And I'll admit...up until quite recently, that fact weighed down on my shoulders like a ton of bricks each and every day. The worst part was, I knew that as time flew on by, I really needed to start thinking about it, finalizing what I wanted to do, and planning it. But that was the last thing I wanted to do...I wanted to get it out of my mind, because I knew that once that process began, things would start getting very real very fast. I felt helpless and torn...that is until a friend of mine confronted me with some paperwork she'd picked up at an info-table in Alliot that day.
Listed throughout that paperwork was a set of pre-planned trips led by faculty with various focuses. For quite some time, I knew that one of my favorite professors would be leading a trip to China. However, I never thought that these trips at the beginning of Summer 2015 would count as the study abroad credit.
I was wrong, and never more thankful to be. 
As of now, I'm working to become one of a very small group that will be traveling to Beijing, China this May for a program titled "The Great (Fire) Wall". Throughout the 2 week program, we'll be examining cross-cultural digital media platforms, and how our fellow international media-users interact, entertain, and inform through digital media. As this trip focuses on a field I hope to pursue, is led by an amazing professor that I've already learned so much from through just two semesters, and is set in a country I'd never imagined myself being able to travel to, it's something that I've become very excited and hopeful about. 
All of a sudden, meetings popped up left and right- both for Media major sophomores and for prospective-China-goers- and the prospect of study abroad became more and more exciting by the minute. Crowded in a room with all my fellow Media majors with the heads of the program, we were encouraged to reach for a place we'd never picture ourselves going, and not for a vacation. We were ensured that this was the time to be branching out as a global media citizen, forming understanding of cultures around the world. As the meeting progressed, images of me navigating through the bustling city or whipping out my Canon lenses over the Great Wall flashed through my mind. And I finally actually saw myself going somewhere. I'm finally going after something, and not shying away with hesitance. 
The first meeting for prospective-China-goers is this Tuesday, and thanks to the many options and inspirations from the Media department, I'm itching to get there and get this all moving. 

For those of you prospective Media Studies majors who may be feeling some hesitance towards the study abroad requirement, here's a big "trust me, don't worry" from the biggest worrier around. Trust me, don't worry. It's a big world out there, and there are so many options. Saint Mike's leads you through this process and helps to narrow things down, while simultaneously conveying the huge, thrilling expanse of what lies before you. While study abroad may be intimidating at first (which is perfectly fine, by the way), you will all find the path for you. And once you do, all that fear and worry will float away with eager excitement. 
As for China, I'll keep you posted. ;)

Until then, stay tuned next Sunday the 19th for more!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rainy Weekend Festivities: What to Do?

It can be a harsh slap in the face waking up to rain on Saturday morning, the day you've been eagerly awaiting through a long week of classes. Unfortunately, I've just painted you a picture of my morning yesterday.
Fortunately, however, I've learned (after several rainy Saturdays thus far) not to let the dampness put a damper on my day. But before I get to that, here are a couple shots from my week:

Sunsets and red leaves! As you can probably tell from my previous blogs, I'm taking as much advantage of this beautiful weather as I can before it's blanketed in white! 
For more photos like these highlighting our beautiful campus, areas around it, as well as fun things to do in and around campus, follow my Instagram @claire_cavanaugh
Also keep an eye out for some of my shots with #smcvt!

Now for the weekend! 
Friday was beautiful: sunny and warm, with just enough of a Fall crisp to the air. After classes came to an end for the week, we took advantage of the perfect weather to go for a run in Gilbrook Forest. The full loop of the trail is about a mile, so it was just enough for me (not an avid runner by any stretch of the imagination). 

Above: excuses for  walking breaks, which I did not take many of, despite how it may look. (Stop laughing.)

After the run, we rewarded ourselves with a jaunt into Burlington for some dinner at American Flatbread (if you don't know by now, it's the best restaurant in the universe). First, however, we had to make a stop at Lake Champlain Chocolates for our Burlington-trip-tradition: Chipotle-Cinnamon truffle squares. If you're a fan of the spicy, these are definitely for you. Even if you aren't a fan of the spicy, they're a deliciously surprising flavor combo. You can always trust a chocolate shop that makes their fudge right before your very eyes.
Finally, we were seated at Flatbread. 

I always start with their "Evolution" house salad, with goat cheese as my topping of choice. Easily the best salad you'll ever have. No kidding. I don't care if you don't even like salad. This stuff is the Matthew McConaughey of salads. 

Next, we indulged in a large pizza: half pepperoni, green pepper, and onion, half meat special. The meat special on this particular evening was definitely one of my favorites yet: ground beef, corn, poblano peppers, tomato, smoked cheddar, and lime aioli sauce. Perfection.

After finishing the entire pizza without much difficulty at all, we made our way to Ben & Jerry's, greeted by a line out the door (typical), but not deterred for a second. 
I decided to go all out (hey, I ran a mile, which you'd know is pretty serious if you knew me personally). So, I indulged in a chocolate dipped waffle cone (which they make homemade, right then and there), filled with a hefty helping of Banana Peanut Butter Greek frozen yogurt. Zero regrets, just for the record. 

The next morning, I woke to the dismal gray light peaking through the shades, which can only be indicative of one thing. But, I decided right then and there that I would have a blog-worthy Saturday, if it was the last thing I did.
First, I started the day like I do any other Saturday: brunch at Alliot. I toasted up a bagel and piled on some ham, salami, cheddar, tomatoes, spinach, onions, mustard and mayo. Next, I made my way back to the dorm and brewed my favorite Coffee-Shop K-cup in my Keurig, complete with some hazelnut creamer.
At that point, I was ready to take care of some business. We stopped at Walmart and Hannfard's for a few late-afternoon-recipe-experimentation ingredients, as well as at Home Depot for a new power strip. (Earlier this week, mine died tragically mid-blow dry.) 
After that, we made our way to a newly discovered Chipotle restaurant in Shelburne for a late lunch.

This was only my second Chipotle experience ever, but both times I've gotten a Burrito Bowl, no questions asked. Chicken, green peppers and onions, fresh salsa, black beans, brown rice, guacamole and lettuce...I mean, why wouldn't you go for it. Plus, everything's so fresh that you don't even feel those classic Mexican food after effects. Just pure amazement.

Finally, we made it back to the dorm with a mission in mind. Earlier that day, I'd found a recipe for Apple-Cinnamon Cake with cream cheese icing, and I made it my goal to have it in my belly by the end of the day.
So, I laid out my ingredients and got to work.

In not long at all (like, we're talking a few minutes), this would become...

...SOOOOO worth it.
Definitely not as pretty as it was on the blog I found it on, but it tasted amazing. The frosting was a nice compliment to the crumbly cake, and its smooth creaminess accented the cake's rich cinnamon flavor perfectly. I'm a HUGE fan of cream cheese frosting, but I'd never heard of it being combined with anything apple-oriented, so I just had to give it a shot. It was inexpensive, quick, easy, and the small portion was just enough- it was quite filling. 
**NOTE: Instead of buying apple sauce, I mashed up about half of an apple leftover from our Shelburne Orchards adventure: it came out perfect!
This was without a doubt my most successful mug-recipe experiment yet! I can't wait to keep trying more to share with you all. 

After our busy Saturday, it was nice to have a relaxing night with a movie as the rain roared on. All in all, I'd like to think we made the best of a dreary day! 
The moral of the story is, never let a little rain make a lazy slob-fest of your Saturday! It doesn't have to be that way. Relax, of course, but I always try to make it a point to have at least a little adventure. Never waste these precious Saturdays! 

On that note, stay tuned next Sunday the 12th for more!