Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What-To-Know Wednesday : Coming Prepared for a VT Winter

Hello all!

On the last parent Knightchat on Monday the 23rd, we got a lot of questions about the snow, the cold, and winter in general up here at St. Mike's.
I can completely sympathize with those of you intimidated by these notoriously cold Vermont winters, especially if you're coming from some notoriously warmer places. But on today's What-to-Know Wednesday, I'm here to provide you guys with an honest analysis of a real VT winter, coming from someone who's actually living through one currently! So without further ado, here is everything you need to know about a VT winter, preparing for one, and moseying around campus in one!

Here's the truth: it can get pretty cold. I won't bother to sugarcoat it, because that's just about as real as it gets. On the brighter side of things, here's another truth: since we're pretty close to Lake Champlain over here, snow isn't nearly as intense as it could be. (My family has 10 ft. snowbanks building up in their driveway right now, and they're in Massachusetts. Compared to that, we've got nothing here at St. Mike's! I would say that I'm jealous, but I'm perfectly fine over here not shoveling that mess.)
The snow aside, it can still get pretty cold and windy on campus during the winter months. However, most of the time, the temperatures aren't all that different from what they are back home in MA. (The wind from the lake is the real killer in this situation.) But if that still doesn't console you, here's a bit of good news: you'll never be walking more than five minutes from point A to point B on main campus, and when I'm bundled up properly, five minutes has never been an issue for me, even on the coldest and windiest days!
So, I cannot stress it enough- bundle up, people. And trust me, it's not difficult. 

First thing's first, you're going to want to invest in a good winter jacket. I have an insulated ski jacket from Mountain Hardwear. It zips up pretty far, and it's got a nice big hood that will come up over any hat. The important thing about jackets is to bring up a couple of different ones of varying intensity, and bring them up early. You never know when those first few cold days will start kicking in, and you don't want to get stuck with an insufficient wardrobe until the next break. I have a Patagonia jacket for the more brisk fall days, and then I switch to my ski jacket when winter truly kicks in.  

The next thing that you'll definitely want to invest in is a good pair of winter boots (whether you're a boy or a girl). I usually get mine from Sorel: they're warm, they come up nice and high so you can trek through just about anything, and they're pretty versatile with different outfits. Honesty time: save your cute leather boots for the fall, ladies (unless you're in any mood to ruin them). Between the snow and the salt, you're going to want something a little more substantial on those feet. Make sure you've got something that's made for all of that. 

A hat is necessary for those windy days when pulling up the hood just doesn't cut it. I know this might be a particularly dorky one, but it's the warmest I've ever had, so stop laughing! ;)

In addition to your little flimsy pair of emergency gloves, you're going to want some heavy duty mittens for those times that you've just got a dusting to wipe off of your car. Don't leave anything up to chance with your flimsy emergency gloves! Go mittens or go home. 

And, once again, as I mentioned earlier in the post, the most important thing out of all of this is to make sure you bring everything early. Don't wait till after Thanksgiving break, and definitely don't wait till after Christmas break (but I don't know how that would even be possible, honestly). I feel like I've made the same mistake two years in a row- hoping that it'll be summer for a few extra weeks, I don't really come too prepared at the beginning of the year in terms of jackets and warmer clothes. The moral of the story is, get ahead of the game, and always be ready for a few surprise cold days early on! You'll be glad you came prepared, and if you are prepared, there's honestly nothing to fear about these VT winters!

Until next time, folks- be sure to stay tuned for the next Sum-it-Up Sunday on the 1st!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sum-It-Up Sunday : Week #6

Hello all!
It's been another great week here at St. Mike's, and despite all the freezing temperatures and snowfall throughout the week, we've climbed up into the high 30s today! I'm close to pulling out the bathing suits for a tanning session, because it might as well be Spring.
But before I get myself too excited, it's time for the weekly update!

A spontaneous trip to McDonald's for our first Shamrock Shakes of the season earlier this week. (Unlike today, this was a particularly bitter day.)

A sky shot on the walk to breakfast earlier this week.

These days, icicles are'll find them on every building on campus. In this particular shot, they teeter precariously on the library.

This Friday (as a belated Valentine's dinner-oriented adventure), we made our first trip to Sweetwaters on Church Street! It was a very cool, classic atmosphere, and it was a huge place, so walking in was no issue whatsoever. I got cheese tortellini with a red pepper cream sauce, asparagus, oyster mushrooms, and goat cheese, and Jared got ribs with a raspberry barbecue sauce (!!!), cornbread, and fries. Both were delicious (yes, of course I sampled that raspberry barbecue), and for the first time in a long time, I can say that both were properly portioned to the appetite of a normal human being! Yes, you heard me correctly, we both finished all of our food. Imagine that. Yum!
(Oh, and by the way...not pictured? Our buffalo chicken nacho appetizer. I mean...yeah.)

Towards the end of dinner when we found out that My Little Cupcake was open till 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights, we already knew what was for dessert. This time, we got a Mint Chocolate, a Red Velvet, two Strawberry Blondes (a vanilla cupcake with strawberry buttercream), and two Peanut Butter Chocolates. And yes, they were all phenomenal. 

Saturday skiing, as always! It was another bitter day at Smugg', but the pristine snow conditions and super clear weather conditions made for both great skiing and picture-taking.

This afternoon's walk to the academic buildings. Can't you feel the warmth?! After weeks of bracing myself before walking outside, today has been a wonderful break. 

As usual, we've all got another busy week up ahead. Let's hope these balmy temps stick around! 
Until next time, folks- make sure to stay tuned for the next What-to-Know Wednesday on the 25th! 

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What-to-Know Wednesday : Keeping the Perfect Planner

 Hello all!
On today's What-to-Know Wednesday, I'll be discussing what just might be the most important element to staying organized in college: your planner!
Whether you're an "I'll remember everything" type of person, a newcomer, or an avid planner-user, take a good read through my tried and true tips for keeping a well-organized planner.
The better you organize your planner, the more effective it will be towards helping you stay on top of your busy schedule!

1.) Picking the Right One

When searching for the ideal planner-purchase, here are a few key questions to ask yourself before buying...
  • Does it have a place-holder?
  • How big are the spaces for each day (and how big should those spaces be for what I plan on filling them with)?
  • Is it too big/small to store in my backpack/on my desk?
  • Is it simple and convenient? (In other words, does it have any fancy ties you'll have to hastily untie when trying to catch an assignment/announcement? Is it covered in glitter or other accents that will inevitably end up everywhere but on the planner itself? etc. etc.)

2.) Some Assembly Required

Once you've secured the perfect planner purchase, there are a few things you'll want to set it up with from the get-go.
Once I buy my planner, I like to take some action before the semester starts. I flip to the inside cover and write out some key information that I don't want to forget:
  • My class schedule
  • Usernames/passwords for different accounts made for classes
  • My contact info, in case I lose it somewhere!

3.)  How to Use It in Everyday Life 

A good rule of thumb for putting your planner to its maximum use is simple: write down anything and everything you have to do. This includes, and certainly isn't limited to:
  •  Homework assignments
  • Meetings
  • Reminders
  • To-Do lists

I hope you all found today's What-to-Know Wednesday helpful, and be sure to stay tuned for the next Sum-It-Up Sunday on the 22nd!

Now let's get organized!!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sum-It-Up Sunday : Week #5

Hello all! It's been another eventful week up in our neck of the woods. Between more busy classes, Valentine's Day, and our first trip to Stowe, our calendars have been packed!

Surprise (early) Valentine's flowers!

This Friday, we headed up to Stowe for a weekend at a condo with family. This was our first time going to Stowe, so expectations were high! 

 [Heading up to Stowe]
My first ever complete Instagram selfie... #BigDoins

 Ok...blatantly-honest-review time. Stowe was a great experience in that we finally got to try it, but it was very crowded, and therefore pretty icy, despite the falling snow. In terms of the lodges, Stowe trumped Smugg's (whose one lodge is very small, and not very accommodating to the typical crowd). But in terms of the skiing itself, Smugg's trumps Stowe. Even when it had been snowing, the safest trails were your standard blue circles; not even the glades were a satisfying getaway.
All in all, it was great to finally try Stowe and have a nice weekend away, but we probably won't be going back any time soon.

Considering that my last Checkers experience was probably with Dino-Checkers way back in the day, I never really stood a chance from the beginning. Talk about a crash and burn. 

Before heading back to St. Mike's today, we made a quick stop at the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury for a tour and a pint... your jets, not that kind of pint. ;)
And for those of you who read faithfully, you'll know I've bought this very pint before, but it was so good I just had to go for it again! (It's stored away in the dorm-freezer for a perfect Walking Dead snack later tonight!)
It was a great tour, cheap and quick, and we got to see the inner-workings behind what just might be the greatest brainchild of our second home here in VT!

I hope you all had as great of a weekend as I did, and however you spent your Valentine's Day, I hope everyone had some sweets, wore some pink, and absorbed all the love around them (whoever it was from)! 

*** Before I sign off for the day, I want to make a quick announcement!
The St. Mike's blogging program has just set up an Instagram account that will be run by a different blogger every week! Follow @knightlifevt to get a digital sneak-peek into the weekly life of a different St. Mike's student each week!

Also make sure to stay tuned for the next What-to-Know Wednesday on the 18th! Until next time folks!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What-to-Know Wednesday : St. Mike's Favorites!

Hello all!
I've decided to take today's What-to-Know Wednesday to tell you all about some of my favorite things in, around, and involving St. Mike's. This will definitely cover a wide span of categories, so bear with me, but I hope you all enjoy, and I hope this post will turn you on to some of your own future St. Mike's favorites!

1.) Favorite Class

Right now, my favorite class of the semester is my Chinese history and culture class, "The Great (Fire) Wall of China". As many of you probably know from my study abroad post, I'm taking this class in preparation for my 2-week study abroad trip to China this May! (If you're interested in learning more about why I chose to take this trip and what it will entail, click on the link above!)
In case you were wondering (which I was when I signed up), the class is called "The Great (Fire) Wall of China" in reference to China's strict internet surveillance policies. (Get it? Firewall?) Also, it's kind of a play on words, because if you take away the "fire", you're left with "The Great Wall of China", which, by the way, yours truly will be exploring in a few short months!
In only a few short weeks, I've already learned so much about China, and it's making me more and more excited to finally go!

2.) Favorite Study Spot

While most flock to the library or Dion, I prefer to have my own space, so I like to do my homework in the academic buildings. (Either Jean Marie or St. Ed's.) What's great about doing homework in a classroom is that you don't get distracted by all the people walking by or talking. Or, maybe you do want to be able to talk to your homework buddy, and that goes over much better in the privacy of your own space. You can spread out all your stuff, you'll never be scrambling for a table, and you'll be in a much more focused mentality since you are, in fact, in the some of the same rooms where you have your classes.

3.) Favorite Place to Hang Out On-Campus

 I've never been to Gilbrook Forest when there's snow on the ground, but this is without a doubt my favorite place to go when it's nice and warm outside during those first few months of a fall semester. Whether you're just taking a walk, going for a run, or taking some pictures of all the gorgeous foliage, Gilbrook is a nice removal from the weekday stresses of campus, even though it's right across the street!
Nothing quite like a nature stroll to clear your head!

4.) Favorite Place to Hang Out Off-Campus

This one's pretty tough, because there are so many great parks and beaches and mountains to see, so many cool stores and shops, it's endless. So, I'll give you the one I've probably been to the most...

 If it's not too cold to brave the walk down, I always make my case for the Champlain waterfront every time we go into Burlington. No matter the time of day, no matter the weather conditions, it's always a breathtaking view. It's fun and relaxing whether you're strolling along the boardwalk or people watching on one of the swinging benches. 

Some honorable mentions are...

Smugg's, of course!

Shelburne Orchards! We fell so deeply in love with this place that we went twice this fall.

North Beach: a perfect blend of foliage, mountains, sand, and surf!

5.) Favorite Sit-Down Restaurant
This was another tough one, but I'm gonna have to go with Our House! We have to keep going back to try a new crazy mac & cheese. Plus, it's right down the street from St. Mike's! 

 6.) Favorite In-and-Out Restaurant

Easy- Chipotle, no questions asked.

7.) Favorite Place to Order From

Dominoes always has great coupons to choose from to get some awesome deals when ordering online, and there's never anything wrong with a little late-night pizza delivery to accompany a movie or your favorite TV show! Our go-to order is two medium pizzas and a bacon-jalapeno-cheesy-bread. A close second, of course, is Wings Over Burlington. (Which place we order from definitely depends on the occasion! Football game? You're gonna want those boneless wings.)

That's all I have for you guys today- I hope you enjoyed today's What-to-Know Wednesday, and here's to all the new favorites I'll be discovering soon! Be sure to stay tuned for the next Sum-It-Up Sunday on the 15th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sum-It-Up Sunday : Week #4

Hello all!
Greetings from the long weekend here at St. Mike's.
It's been a long week waiting for the this extra special 4-day weekend, but we're finally here! With no classes tomorrow, we took advantage of this weekend to relax and have fun.
First, we spent Friday night putting some more gift cards to good use.

 Olive Garden is never a bad idea. [Asiago alfredo with grilled chicken and whole garlic cloves!!]

The next day, we braved the snow for another amazing, powdery day at Smugg's!

Today, since we had no homework to worry about for the first time in weeks, we snailed into Burlington through the slushy mess that was the road, and tried out a little Burlington hot-spot that I've been dying to try for months...

My Little Cupcake, a sweet little shop on College Street, right off of Church Street. [Top row, left to right: Salted Caramel, Lemon Raspberry, and Rocky Road. Bottom Row, left to right: Red Velvet, Turtle, and Boston Cream.] We're trying to savor them, so I've only tried the Lemon Raspberry so far... but it was delicious!!! Whichever flavor you're trying, my recommendation goes out to all of you!

After securing our cupcake purchase, we made our way over to lunch before we tried any.

Horrible picture, amazing food. What I probably like best about Al's French Frys is that you don't leave feeling like you just ate a basketball, even after a double cheeseburger and fries. Three words: yum yum yum. 

For all you St. Mike's folks enjoying the long weekend, make the best of it! And to the rest of you, enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and everyone be sure to stay tuned for the next What-to-Know Wednesday on the 11th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What-to-Know Wednesday : What's in the Bag?

Whether you're going to class, going to Alliot, going to study, or going to hang out, it's important that you're always prepared for every situation.
So on today's What-to-Know Wednesday, I'll be going over some key items you'll want to have on hand depending on where you're headed.  

1.) To Class // To the Library

 It's all about the backpack (duh)!

First thing's first, always have a water bottle, and if you're headed out to your first class of the day, don't forget your travel coffee mug. Both are absolute musts. 

Next on the list is your handy dandy planner (I'll probably be dedicating an entire What-to-Know Wednesday about this soon). Whether you're going to class or headed to the library, keep your planner in your backpack. You never know when you'll need to make a note of a meeting, a reminder, an assignment, etc.

 Other must-haves for inside your backpack are...
1.) A pencil case: Keep a pen, pencil, highlighter, flash drive, white-out, hand-held pencil sharpener, and hand sanitizer in there at all times. These are the things you'll probably find yourself reaching for the most, and like your best buddy, it's nice to know they'll always be there in your time of need.
2.) A stapler (preferably a mini one, but I'm still working on that): After hastily printing your assignments wherever you happen to be doing your homework, it's good to have a stapler on hand. If you wait to get back to your room to staple everything, you leave it up to chance that you'll forget, and end up showing up to class the next day with a stack of loose papers. Womp, womp. 
3.) Headphones: Maybe you like to listen to some tunes while you do your work. Maybe you have a movie to watch for an assignment. Or, maybe you're just waiting an extra couple of minutes for your homework buddy at the end of a session, and there's always a Buzzfeed video or two to occupy yourself with. Whichever situation applies to you, it's always nice to have your headphones on hand just in case. 
4.) Flash Cards: I've mentioned before that flash cards are an absolute must in my personal study routine, so I mostly keep them in my backpack so I don't have to try and remember to grab them on a particular night that I'm studying for a random quiz or test. 
5.) Lady Supplies: Sorry fellas- it had to be said. Girls, I can't begin to explain how invaluable it is to keep something in there at all times, just in case. We all know what it feels like to get stranded somewhere unprepared, so it's best to avoid that situation at all cost!!

During these winter months, I'm gonna be honest with ya...St. Mike's gets pretty darn cold. Thankfully, you're never more than a five minute walk from your destination on main campus, but it's always a good idea to keep some gloves on hand just in case (pun not intended).

[All of the above, of course, excludes the books/notebooks/binders/folders you'll be bringing for the classes you're attending or doing homework for.]

2.) Class // Library //  Friends' Rooms  // Alliot // Off Campus // EVERYWHERE

A small purse/wristlet/wallet should be coming with you wherever you go! On top, you'll find the type of thing that girls typically carry around, and on the bottom, what boys typically carry around.

I love carrying around a wristlet (you can find some awesome ones from Vera Bradley, which is sold in the campus bookstore, but I got mine online). I like to have a little bit of cash, my Knight Card (student ID), my driver's license, my phone, my keys (dorm room and mailbox), and a couple of spare hair elastics with me wherever I go. A wristlet is a small, easy thing to carry around, and it's just the right size for all the bare necessities. If you're one of those girls who doesn't find the need for a big purse like me, a wristlet is the perfect option for you. 

As for the boys, if you're leaving your room or leaving campus, your wristlet equivalent will most likely be a wallet and a lanyard. Your wallet for cash, your driver's license, and cards, and a lanyard for your keys and Knight Card. 
PSA: When I say take these (wristlets/wallets) wherever you go, I really do mean wherever you go. You'll avoid locking yourself out of your room, losing your phone, losing your keys, losing your Knight Card, and most importantly, you'll avoid ever being stuck somewhere without these few things that you need to freely get around campus. Late for a meeting? You've only got one thing to grab and you're off. Fire drill in your dorm? It's a comfort to know that everything you need to get around campus and stay in contact with everyone is all right there in one thing. Simple, quick, easy, done.

So there you have it- what's in the bag(s) for moseying in, around, and off campus. Be prepared, be ready, be victorious!

Hope you all enjoyed today's What-to-Know Wednesday...stay tuned for the next Sum-It-Up Sunday on the 8th!

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sum-It-Up Sunday : Week #3

Hello all!
Once again, we've left behind yet another busy week. And, most tragically of all, most of us have left behind our hometowns...which were absolutely slammed with snow this week. While good old Newbury, MA got just about three feet, we only got about five inches here.

[A shot sent from home...**cue jealousy here**]

But all that aside, it's been another great week at St. Mike's. Keep this on the down low...but of all the Instagram photos I see from friends at other colleges, while all have been gorgeous, I still think St. Mike's is one of the prettiest campuses when blanketed with snow.

Dear Mother Nature: if it's not gonna be green and lush, lay down the snow. All the snow.

To end another busy week, we made our way into Williston on Friday night.
A quick PSA: As I've discussed in a previous blog, while Burlington makes for a classic night out on the (college)town with its wide variety of restaurants, a lit up Church Street, and bustling atmosphere, Williston provides a great alternative in many ways.
In Williston, not only do you have a Walmart (a cheap stop for all your snack-eating, house-warming, and simple life-living needs), but you'll also find a lot of the restaurants you know and love from home, most of which are much cheaper means of treating yourselves than some of the means you might find in downtown Burlington.

So, we took advantage of some Christmas gift cards and set out for Longhorn Steakhouse. (Any soon-to-be-college-parents out there? This is a stellar gift. Some well-loved restaurants in a reasonable radius from St. Mike's are American Flatbread, Our House Bistro, Chipotle, Olive Garden, Buffalo Wild Wings, Five Guys, and even Longhorn and Outback Steakhouses for a bit of a fancier date night.)

[Sweet chili calamari appetizer]

[Jared with a couple of his longtime faves: a T-bone with the steakhouse bacon mac and cheese.]

Needless to say, we could have rolled home after all that food (not pictured: our requested second bread bowl and Caesar salads.) Thankfully, we'd gone for a pre-steakhouse-gym-session a few hours prior (Dion cardio gym for the win) and we were headed for a day at Smugg's the next morning.

It was a painfully crowded day at the mountain yesterday. Between the ski races going on and the fact that Saturday, in its single digit temps, would be the warmest day of the weekend, it was a zoo around every corner. However, it was worth it for some amazing powder skiing through the woods and all over Madonna and Sterling. You gotta take those days when you get them. 

Alright folks...due to the pressing nature of the upcoming game tonight, there's homework to be done before we order our Wings Over Burlington a good three hours in advance. Hope you all enjoyed today's Sum-It-Up Sunday, and I hope you all have fun at whatever parties, sports bars, or man caves you might find yourselves in tonight, whoever you're rooting for!

Stay tuned for the next What-to-Know Wednesday on the 4th! 

Let's Connect!
Instagram: @claire_cavanaugh
Twitter: @CavanaughClaire