Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello all!
Here's hoping everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving- I have returned to St. Michael's, unpacked, and prepped for the last few weeks of the semester.
Thanksgiving was a good break (about a week and a half), just enough time to reboot my brain and get psyched for finals- papers, exams, presentations, the whole nine yards. But I had plenty of rest, fun, and food over break that I'm ready now more than ever!

Right before Thanksgiving hit, so did this epic snowstorm!! And to think we used to feel lucky if it snowed by Christmas.

Thanksgiving was amazing- complete with family, fire, and food. 

We had an amazing sky the other night...and according to Instagram, it seemed to be all over New England, not just at home!

A little baking for break- just store-bought though, nothing fancy. However, we did make some modifications to that grainy, heavy store-bought frosting. TIP: Add a little milk and whip it up with a mixer, and you have an entirely different (and totally better) frosting!

Then, the Cavanaugh's big annual pre-Christmas party came around!

It was a great night with great food, great people, and great sweaters. I got to see friends and family who I haven't seen in months, and in some cases more than that. 

Now that break has come and gone, it's important to get back into the school mindset! We have a few more weeks of go-go-go...lots of hard work and lots of library time loom ahead in my near future. Thankfully, it's only a few weeks, then we're released for Christmas! That'll definitely be sufficient study motivation.

Stay tuned next Sunday 7th the for a peak of my crazy schedule to come (and my first ski day of the season!!).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Taking Full Advantage of Your Break

Hello, all!
Currently, I'm writing straight from home sweet home! Thanksgiving Break has commenced for St. Mike's, and this is the first time I've been home since summer.
It will be nice to sleep in my own bed again, have some home-cooked meals, and see family and friends who I haven't seen in months, but there's an entire other side of break that typically isn't associated with the word "break".
Before I get to that, here are a few photos from the past week!

At last, Alliot had Thanksgiving Dinner on Wednesday. There wasn't a single seat unoccupied, I even saw a few people sitting on the floor. But it was probably worth it- everything was delicious!
We finally got our ski passes for the season! The cheapest one offered by the school is for Smuggler's Notch, a quick 45 minute drive from campus, and it's only $65. Yes, I'm serious. And yes, you do pay that off with a single day of skiing. 
Bathroom blackboard art texted from home: my mom's favorite passage from The Grinch.  
The drive home! Always a pretty one.
First home-cooked meal of break! Homemade pasta with sausage, zucchini, and more. So tasty.

Nalgene modifications! Tons of new stickers and a nifty little insertion that doesn't dump water into your lap whenever you take a sip!
First homemade breakfast of the break! Been craving pancakes since summer.
A trip to Maudlsey State Park with the fam.
New ski boots! I also got my new skis into the shop to get bindings mounted. So excited!
A late afternoon snack after getting back from the ski shop. "Got runs?"

And, finally, a brother-sister-cupcake-adventure last night. We made vanilla cupcakes with a peanut-butter buttercream! So good.
I've already gotten a lot of things done in the day that I've been home, but there's still much more to keep busy with!
That brings me to how exactly one takes full advantage of a break.
Before I left for break and before I got busy packing my life away for the following week, I made sure to write a list in my planner. (If you read faithfully, you'll know that I rely on my planner...and lists...for pretty much everything!) The list consisted of two parts: things I need to get done over break, and things I want to remember to bring back to school after break.
While breaks are always good for seeing family and friends, eating food from home, and relaxing, breaks are also the perfect slot of time to play a little catch-up.
Things to catch-up on may include homework, gathering all your winter gear, appointments, and of course, thinking up the perfect Christmas gifts.

All this being said, it's important not only to see everyone you want to see, but it's just as important to take full advantage of this opportune time to cross all those things off your list. You'll be glad you did when you get back to school right on time for finals!

Stay tuned next Sunday the 30th- I'll be back at school and filled with Turkey-day memories to share!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Skinny Pancake, Gregory Douglass, and More

As Thanksgiving break gets closer and closer, things get busier and busier. Professors push to get all that last minute information in, students run like chickens with their heads cut off to keep up with it, etc. etc.

Consequently, this week's post will be a slightly quicker one, encapsulating my ever-so-eventful week, and even more eventful weekend.

At last, the first official snow of the season hit us on Thursday night. Though it didn't yield much, it was still very exciting! It flurried a bit on and off through Friday as well.

Friday night, we made it out to Majestic 10 again to see Interstellar, the new space movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Matt Damon. Though it was long (about three hours), it was undeniably worth it. It was thrilling from start to finish, filled with twists and turns. Very thought-provoking to say the least. Leaving the theater, I described it as an Inception/Armageddon/Apollo 13 hybrid. 

Then, a brisk, however sunny Saturday rolled around, as did our very first trip to The Skinny Pankcake! (If anyone else knew we'd just made our first trip there, we'd probably be severely scolded. So shhhh!)

Yum! I got the "Atlantic Monster", a scallion crepe filled with salmon, spinach, a fried egg, and a spinach-cheese-spread. Jared got the "Garlique Chic", a plain crepe filled with pesto, chicken, carmelized onions, and red peppers. With some coffee and hashbrowns to complete the meal, I'd say it was a very successful and delicious first trip!

Next, we made our way over to L.L. Bean with my freshly ripped slippers that I'd gotten as a gift last year. :( Since the ever-wonderful L.L. Bean promises a lifetime warranty with every purchase, I received a gift card in exchange for my slippers and ordered a new pair! Now that this new store is in the mall, I'm becoming more and more obsessed by the day.

Following a new tradition, we also stopped by Williams Sonoma for a sniff and a sample. They're always cooking up something in there, and on this particular day, they cooked up gravy. Beats the crippling cologne aromas emanating from Abercrombie on any given day by a landslide. Before we left, we made sure to grab a free sample of their peppermint hot cocoa. I didn't think I'd be a fan, but boy, was I wrong. 

Next, I decided to veer away from my usual order at Starbucks (Salted Caramel Mocha), and went with a classic Vanilla Latte instead. I think I may have found a new usual. It was like drinking hot whipped cream the whole way through, which I had no problem with.

Finally, we made our way to the waterfront, and it sure was a beautiful day for the boardwalk.

To finish off the day, we headed back to St. Mike's and ventured to the Roy Room of the Dion Family Student Center for a performance by Gregory Douglass, a Burlington-based singer-songwriter. He was invited by Common Ground last year, and Student Activities this year. Food from Tiny Thai was served, so I loaded up with dumplings and egg rolls, readied my camera, sat back, and enjoyed the show. He was an amazing performer, and such a personable guy...which you can all get further insight into when my next Defender article comes out! Before Saturday night's performance, I was able to connect with him personally via phone interview. He was super nice, super relatable, and to top it off, he had an incredible voice. 
I'll be sure to link when it's published! 

A couple of photos I snagged:

Openers: St. Mike's students D.J. Tetreault and Bailey Jeffko.

Gregory Douglass himself!

Needless to say, I will definitely be seeing him if he comes to campus again!!
Be sure to check this guy out! You'll be glad you did.

Stay tuned next Sunday the 23rd for more!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Planning Your Semester Schedule

Hello all!
It crept up faster than ever this semester: class registration for the Spring Semester!
Through the past couple of weeks, St. Mike's students have been looking through classes, deciding which they need to take, consulting with their advisors, and registering.
For any given student, there may be several different reasons why he or she has picked certain classes, depending on what their major is, if they have any minors they want to pursue, what liberal studies requirements they still need to take, etc.
But before I get into these essential things that you need to keep in mind when registering for classes at St. Mike's, here are a few highlights from my week!

I just cannot wait till these red leaves get coated in a thick layer of snow for the first time this season!

 We did get a bit of a flurry the other day, even though it was mostly a slushy mix of rain and snow falling from the sky. Far from satisfactory. I for one am not counting it as the first snow of the season! Especially considering all it left on the red leaves were pitiful water droplets.

Arts and Crafts at their finest. Jared got a care package of 36 jumbo-sized Butterfingers as a pre-birthday treat from his mom, so we decided to take advantage of them before they all disappeared!

At last, the Church Street Mall's L.L. Bean finally opened this weekend! It's been months in the works. Before we elbowed our way into the store itself, we met up with the Bean Bear who was posing outside with other soon-to-be-shoppers. We got this picture while waiting in line for the Boot Toss: if you got at least one Bean Boot out of three into the target ahead, you got to spin a wheel for a prize! Lucky me, I got two into the target. So I spun the wheel and got it stuck in the "special slot", earning myself an L.L. Bean mini-Nalgene!

Since I wrote last, I published my final Lake Champlain research article to a blog dedicated to the project. (This was for my Environmental Journalism class, which is turning out to be my favorite class of the semester!) I had a lot of fun looking into a topic that I previously knew nothing about, talking to various sources, and learning different angles on the situation at hand.
Interested in reading? Check it out here!

Speaking of classes, it's time to get down to it!

Picking the four classes you'll take in the upcoming semester is a daunting task, I won't deny that. There are lots of components that go into which classes you'll aim to get into. But not to worry, I'm here to outline all of those components for you! And trust me, if we all figure it out every semester, you'll be able to as well! First thing's first...

1.) How Registration Works at St. Mike's

Towards the end of each semester, your advisor (who will be assigned to you from day one at St. Mike's) will send you an email reminding you to sign up for a meeting. Mine always has a sign-up sheet on his office door, and since I'm in that building all the time for my Media classes, I just sign up for a slot when I'm over there. During your advisor meeting, you two will likely discuss the classes you're currently taking, what you like or dislike about your professors, how you're doing grades-wise, and the classes you hope to take in the upcoming semester. From there, your advisor will be able to give you advice about professors that students have done well with in the past, getting your major requirements done, getting your liberal studies requirements done, and things of that nature. At the end of the meeting, your advisor will get onto his computer and clear you for registration. 

Not long after that, you'll get an email from the school assigning you a registration day. Each class has two registration days: senior days come first, then junior, then sophomore, then freshmen. But don't worry, only a certain number of spots in each class are opened for each registration day, so there's slim chance of a class filling up before you can get to it. And if worse comes to worse and there's no more space in a class you want to get into, you can always pick up a petition form to formally request a seat in that class. Everything always works out!

2.) Knightvision

Accessible through your MySMC portal, Knightvision covers everything academic. You have your schedule on there, your GPA, your current standing in completion of your major requirements and liberal studies requirements, and all that good stuff. Additionally, Knightvision is where you'll look up classes you'd like to take and register for them. You'll be able to see who teaches the class, what time it meets, any prerequisites it may require, and a general synopsis of what will be covered in the class. From there, you can load all your class choices into a queue in preparation for clicking "submit" on your assigned registration day.  

3.) Liberal Studies Requirements

While it'll be easy to keep up with which classes you'll need to take for your major each semester (typically your program will hand out an outlined plan with recommended classes to take each year), keeping up with your liberal studies requirements is more of a path you walk alone. But that doesn't mean it needs to be difficult! 

For those of you wondering what liberal studies requirements are, they're the general math, science, history, English, foreign language, humanities, arts, etc. classes that liberal studies schools like St. Mike's require students to take in addition to their major requirements. This ensures a well-rounded education.

Often times, however, people put them off because they don't want to distract themselves from their major. The way I look at it, however, is just get them done! It's far easier to get them out of the way as soon as you can, that way, when you're all done with them, all you need to focus on is your major! They also bring a nice variety to your schedule, which definitely isn't a bad thing!

4.) Back-ups

As you're looking at classes you want to take in preparation for registration, it's always a good idea to have a few back-ups in mind, especially if you think one of your preferred classes might be a little tough to get into (maybe it's a small class, a popular class, etc.). That way, if you don't end up getting into one of your preferred classes, and if you can't petition in, you don't have to worry about scrambling to find a substitute class amidst everything else going on in your current schedule.

5.) Keep YOU in Mind!

As you're scrambling to find classes you just need to get done, it can be easy to forget that these classes will be your weekday life next semester. Got five 8 AMs in a row lined up? That may be worth re-considering. Have all your classes lined up for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday only? Yeah, it might sound great now to have two days off in the middle of your week, but do you really want four classes back-to-back on days that you have them?  Do you really want to think up things to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays while all your friends are in class? Don't have any classes till noon? It's likely that you don't want to get stuck in that kind of sleep-cycle. The moral of the story is, classes aren't just checkpoints to cross off your To-Do list: they'll be your life in the upcoming semester! Don't forget that amidst all the planning.

Next semester, I'll be taking Media Law & Ethics in a Digital Age, Photojournalism, Philosophy of Society, and The Great (Fire) Wall (the Chinese culture class to prep for the trip in May!). 

I think it's going to be a great schedule, and I think they're all going to be really fun classes!
I'm excited to see what next semester brings.

Stay tuned next Sunday the 16th for more!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Homemade Halloween!

Hello all!
Halloween at St. Mike's has come and gone...and as many have pointed out on Facebook and Twitter, the Christmas Carols may now commence!
Before I get into the festivities of Halloween, the process of picking, creating, and rocking a costume, and the inevitable benefits of going homemade, here are a few shots from my week:

 Voila! Last week's issue of The Defender, including my article, was published on Wednesday! 

Winter is definitely making an early appearance this year, especially within these past couple of days. And yet, it snows at home, but not here! So jealous. Had Mom send up a few pairs of gloves. (I guess the wishful thinker in me hoped that if I didn't come prepared, it would be summer until Thanksgiving.)

Sure doesn't look like winter yet, though!

We had ourselves a crazy sunset here the other night...I'm obsessed with this shot!

Another well-deserved lunch at Vermont Pub & Brewery: corned beef sandwiches with garlic mayo, and a side of cheese fries with onion gravy.

...soooooo cheesy.

Now for Halloween! Or, should I say, Halloweekend. Here at St. Mike's, Halloween isn't just October 31st. Most students make a weekend out of it with a different costume for each night, but this year, we decided to pour our creative juices into one especially great idea.

Deciding pretty early on that we wanted to take a spin off of one of our favorite movies, The Purge: Anarchy,  we took a stroll down to Party City and bought a few basic supplies. 

Even though we bought the essential building blocks of our costume, I still consider it very much homemade. We started with plain masks and some face paints, and got to work. 

A tester photo after we finished. 
While the white mask on the left was a direct re-creation of one of the masks from the movie, mine was more of an improvisation to ensure that people knew who we were supposed to be. Plus, I think it was also pretty creepy.
Since we were working with face paints on plastic masks, we set the paint with corn starch and a makeup brush. This essentially made the paint a part of the mask, and also prevented any risk of smudging. 

A more staged, fully dressed photo on Halloween. 

I mean...come on. 

As we hoped, we managed to scare quite a few unsuspecting students out and about. Could have done without being asked if I was a girl while waiting for my chicken patty at the grill, but hey, I guess that's what you get for taking the scary route!

It's always been a Halloween philosophy of mine to go the homemade route, and this experience definitely confirmed that for me. For starters, making your costume is not only a fun challenge, but it also makes Halloween a more inventive, authentic experience! Additionally, going homemade guarantees that you'll have a completely unique costume: no one else will have exactly the same one! 

If I have any advice for future Halloweekend-ers at St. Mike's, it's to not be afraid to veer from the cutesy stuff every once in a while (although, I'll give them a hand, because they all looked great), go for something different, and go homemade! Take it from me: aside from the gender confusion at the grill, we received many a compliment (and shocked, deer-in-headlights look) on our costume! There's nothing like the reward of gratification for all your hard work!

Overall, the moral of the story is, have fun with it, and dress to impress!

Stay tuned next Sunday the 9th for more!