New major- new me

All throughout middle school and high school I was always the girl who was good at math. I picked up the concepts faster than most of my friends, and it was the one subject in school that was challenging enough to keep me interested.

All throughout middle school and high school I was also always on the stage. I did theatre, I danced, I played instruments. Creativity was an important part of my life. But since I was only ever average at all of these activities, I didn’t even consider them when making my college plans.

I knew for years I had to be an engineering major in college. If I didn’t I would be letting down my teachers and friends for not “working to my highest potential.” So much pressure is put on students to choose a major where they will be the “most successful.” I believed that this meant majoring in something that I knew I would be good at (and that would make me a lot of money).

For two years I worked my butt off in engineering. I passed all of my classes and maintained my high GPA. The further I got into my major though, the more unhappy I was. Nothing sparked a passion in me. I noticed that most of my friends were falling more and more in love with their major with every class they took, and I was falling out.

After withdrawing from a class about the internal stresses of beams (that made me fall asleep just reading the syllabus), I did some soul searching, got over my fear of letting people down and thinking I was a failure, and realized what was missing in my education- creativity.

After reading the course catalog for just about every major UCF offers, I finally decided to major in advertising and public relations. This was a big step for me because so much of this major is about writing, and that is the one skill I am most self conscious about. It has been about a year and a half since I decided to do a 180 in my college career, and I haven’t regretted it once.  Turns out, people that aren’t FCAT graders or my AP English Language teacher actually like my writing. My classes now challenge me in ways that my engineering classes never did. I am finding creative solutions to problems and not just following a formula. I am speaking up in class and asking questions and giving my opinions rather than locking myself in my room until I figure out a problem on my own. Each class I take gives me so much hope for my future. No matter where I end up in my field, I know I will be surrounded by individuals who share my compassion for creativity and who will challenge me to grow in my work and as a person.

More Favorite Things

Back at it again with some of my favorite products. Today I want to share some of my favorite items in my apartment.

1. Anthropology volcano candle

This scent has been one of my favorites for years. It’s hard to describe because it’s not sweet smelling or fruity smelling, and the closest I can get to describing it is a blend of hip successful women and lemon zest. If you’ve ever been in an Anthropology you know what I am talking about. Every time I light mine I feel like I can conquer the world. Also, because this candle is from Anthro, its presentation is beautiful. There are pretty gold candles with marble lids, molten silver candles and white opal candles. I feel fancy just looking at them.

2. Roku

It’s 2016 and cable is out. My Roku stick plugs right into my tv and connects to my wifi so I can stream Netflix, Hulu and the rest. With a cable login from my grandpa (because he’s the only one who still pays for a full cable package in my family) I am also able to log into every other major cable app on the Roku. We’re talking HBO, ESPN and Lifetime (ya girl loves Project Runway) for only the cost of buying my Roku. This is a college girl’s dream.

3. RASKOG Ikea bar cart

We’ve all seen those hip bar carts on Pinterest, and when I moved into my new apartment I knew I had to have one. I honestly didn’t think it would be that practical, I just thought it was cute, but boy was I wrong. It is so great to have one consolidated place to put all of my alcohol related items. No more bottles on top of the fridge. No more bottle openers in the drawer. No more wine glasses cluttering my cabinets. Life is good with a pretty bar cart, y’all.

 

Go Hockey

This weekend Gamma Phi Beta had our first ever Father-Daughter weekend. Ricky, being the great step-dad that he his, drove the long seven hours through boring Florida interstates to see me for just one short day for the event. The plan was to spend all day Saturday in Epcot, and then head down to the Amway center to watch the Orlando Solar Bears take on the Florida Everblades in the fist hockey game of the season.

The day was more perfect than I could have ever imagined. Orlando had its first cool-ish day of fall with the high less than 80 degrees, which literally never happens. Epcot was crowded, but we didn’t even mind because of how nice the weather was. After a few hours eating and drinking our way around the world, we went home to rest up for the game.

Now, the last time I went to a hockey game, I was cheering on my cousin’s high school team, and the only thing I remember is lots of teenage boys tripping over each other on the ice. So you could say I’m a hockey expert. Ricky had just about as much knowledge as me going into the game too, but we were both excited just the same. The arena was about 20 degrees when we got there, which led to very little concentration from me on the game, and lots of concentration on not getting hypothermia. But after two beers, I was feeling good again and ready to cheer on the bears. Unfortunately the Bears aren’t very talented, but I had fun yelling “go hockey” and “do better” to them all the same. Ricky and I eventually started picking up on some of the rules of the game, and he told me to shout “go bears” instead of “do better,” and I started feeling like a true sports fan.  I quickly found out that sports are stressful and I do not handle a 3-2 scoreboard with less than a minute on the clock very well.

A huge thanks to Gamma Phi for inviting all of our fathers to see the organization we all hold so close to our hearts. Ricky loved every minute of being a G Phi dad and wearing our letters almost as much as I did.

Why Gamma Phi

If you would have asked me four years ago if I thought I would be in a sorority you would have heard a big ole “hell to the no.” High school Brady thought sororities were only about themed parties and sparkly glitter, and boy am I glad she was wrong. During my first semester in college I met maybe three new people, I hung out with my same four friends who I came to UCF with, and I binged more Netflix shows than I could count. After many nights locked up in my dorm with just Meredith and Derrick to keep me company, I decided I might need to extend my social network a bit. I tried hanging out with my roommates and going to a bible study, but it was a coffee date with an old friend from home that completely changed my college experience for the better. This friend told me all about this new sorority on campus that she helped charter and the legacy she was going to help create through it, and it got my attention. A few days later and I received a bid from this very same chapter. Gamma Phi Beta is an organization like no other. The women I have met through it encourage me to be a stronger woman each and every day. Now, high school Brady was right in the fact that sororities have themed parties and sparkly glitter (both which I now adore, ugh), but Gamma Phi Beta has offered me so much more. Built on the values of love, labor, learning and loyalty, this sorority has allowed me to work with women who share my passion for instilling confidence in the girls we volunteer with, with Girls on the Run. They hold me accountable to maintaining a top GPA and to always strive for more. They are true and constant friends who I know will encourage me to always be the highest type of womanhood.

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Hello it’s me again! This week instead of another post about Epcot (because I’m sure you are all tired of me talking about Food and Wine Festival) I have decided to share a few of my favorite products with you all. These are items that make being a college student just a little bit easier for me, and hopefully can help you too!

Simplified Planner by Emily Ley

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People always tell you that a planner can save your life if you have a busy schedule, and they aren’t lying. I started using a weekly planner about a year ago and had to scribble in the margins to find enough room to write down everything I needed to. I heard about the Simplified Planner because my third grade teacher’s daughter is the one and only Emily Ley. I thought about getting one for a while, but they sell out so quickly that I wasn’t able to get one until last year for Christmas. When I finally got my hands on my new planner I thought I was going to cry. To start, the packaging on these bad boys is KILLER and makes you feel very fancy and put together. Then you open the planner and see the FULL PAGES FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR!! There is one column for your daily schedule, one column for your to do list, and spaces for you to plan your dinner and make random notes. This planner is a game changer and you should all go out and get one asap.

Chacos

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Okay so everyone who knows me knows i love my Chacos. People like to make fun of me for having “Jesus sandals” or for “wearing hiking shoes in Florida” but honestly they can make fun of me for the rest of forever and I won’t have a care in the world because I’ll have nice, supported feet. As someone who danced for 15 years of her life, I have very high arches that need lots of support for me to not want to chop my feet off. The Luv Seat (their name for their sole) of the Chacos is everything.My arches never hurt, my heels never hurt, and I get a killer zig zag tan line across the top of my feet. They rock.

Basin Bath Bombs

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There’s nothing like a good bubble bath with a glass of wine and an episode of Friends to help relive some stress after a long day of class and work. And there’e nothing like a bubble bath without a nice fizzy bath bomb. While I love LUSH’s bath bombs, those things are hella pricey for someone with my budget. At Basin in Disney Springs I can get three bath bombs for the price of one LUSH bath bomb- and that’s the kind of math I like. The bath bombs at Basin are still made from natural products like LUSH’s are, and smell just as delicious so you aren’t really losing any value. And as an added bonus, some of the bath bombs have Mickey shaped confetti that gets released in the water too!

Gotta Get It

Well folks, Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival is open and crowded as ever. But just for you, I braved the heat, almost passed out, rallied, and tried my fair share of snacks and drinks so I could tell you what not to miss on your next trip!

Here’s what I found:

Twining’s Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte With Vanilla Vodka (Ireland)– Holy moly was this delicious. I already had high hopes for this drink because I love me some chai tea, and I was definitely not disappointed. This tasted like boozy fall in a cup. It was creamy, cold, and not too strong (even my step-dad liked it and he doesn’t like any alcohol). FWF has started serving all kiosk drinks in smaller cups this year, which is great for this particular drink because it was sweet enough that you couldn’t have more than a few sips anyway. Overall, I highly recommend paying the $10 for the five sips you’ll get of this drink because I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Grilled Beef Skewer with Romaine, Apricots and Feta Cheese (The CHEW Collective)– I will eat anything with feta cheese in it, so when I saw this on the menu I knew I had to have it. This was a pretty good value for what you pay for it because you get about three decently large chunks of beef with a nice small salad under it as well. The meat was decently coked and seasoned, but with the feta and apricot it was perfect. This is also a great dish to fill up with and not feel guilty about it later!

Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Farm Fresh)– While I didn’t try this dish myself (not a bacon fan, sue me), my boyfriend said it was one of his favorite dishes of the day. The bite that I did try (sans bacon) was delicious and creamy and flavored nicely with peppers and green onions. This was a festival favorite last year, so it was no surprise that it was a hit this year as well.

Two Henrys Elderberry Hard Cider (Florida Fresh)– OK, so I am generally not a cider fan, but after reading positive reviews about this one, I decided to try it. It was surprisingly not too sweet and extremely refreshing and cold, which is all I can ask for on a hot Florida day.

Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 Pale Lager (France)– This was the one drink my mom and I refused to share because we loved it so much. This beer is everything. It’s light and fruity and not too sweet and not too bitter. Honestly I could just stay in France and drink this and passion fruit martini slushes all day and be perfectly happy.

You should also check out the Artisan Cheese and Wine Plate (Wine & Dine Studio), the Orlando Brewing Orlando Weiss (Craft Beers), the Spanakopita (Greece), and of course the Passion Fruit Martini Slush (France) because they are also pretty damn delicious.

So everyone grab your passport and head to the World Showcase soon! The festival will end before you know it and I promise you won’t want to miss it.

 

 

Around the World in 8 Hours

Brady, all those tips you gave us were cool and all, but what should I drink??

Glad you asked! Last year I spent my 21 birthday at Food and Wine and have spent just about every other weekend since in Epcot, so I have had my fair share of expensive drinks. Now, I know the menu changes every year, but here is what my friends and I would suggest (and also warn you to stay away from) from our experiences!

  • Mexico: Passion Fruit Margarita (not available anymore)- This was my first legal alcoholic drink and honestly it was a let down. Nothing to write home about. Tequila Flight– So good. Three different chilled tequilas with salt and a lime. All three were very smooth and easy to take, and I don’t even like shots. But I also love tequila, so take my advice with a grain of salt and maybe a lime wedge. Frozen Lime Margarita– sweet but delicious, especially on a hot Florida day. This is one of my go-to EPCOT drinks.
  • China: Happy Peach– Literally tastes like the juice at the bottom of a peach cup. Kung Fu Punch– Literally tastes like you are biting into a mango. China really has the whole “make drinks taste exactly like fruit” thing down.
  • Germany: Bärenjäger Honey & Bourbon shot– I hate shots, so my opinion on this is probably invalid. But my friend loved it.
  • France: Here’s where things get good, folks. Kronenbourg Blanc 1664– light and refreshing. My favorite beer in World showcase. Orange Slush– Wow wow wow. Tastes like an alcoholic creme sickle. I can’t go to EPCOT and not get one of these. I even tell strangers in the park about it. Passion Fruit Slush– THIS IS MY FAVORITE DRINK. This is very similar to the orange slush, but slightly less sweet. Which means you can drink four and not get sick of them. Don’t ask me how I know that. These are only available during the festival though, so this will be my first stop when I go next weekend.
  • Italy: Limoncello Shots Very sweet, but that makes it easier to take it as a shot so I didn’t hate these??
  • United Kingdom: Welsh Dragon– Okay you guys, this was by far the weirdest drink I have ever had. It almost tasted like mouth wash? But like fruity and minty mouthwash mixed together? But maybe if you’re into that sort of thing you’ll like it?

My first trip to Food and Wine is next weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited. Here’s what is first on my list to try. Be sure to check back next week to see what I thought!

  • Grilled Sweet and Spicy Bush Berry Shrimp with Pineapple, Pepper, Onion and Snap Peas
  • Canadian cheddar cheese soup served with a pretzel roll
  • Moosehead Lager
  • Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
  • Twinings® Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka
  • Frozen Mojito
  • Bohemia Pilsner with Floater

 

Every Person Comes Out Tipsy

Well it’s everyone’s favorite time of year again, and I’m not talking about football season. It’s time for EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival!! Nothing gets me more pumped than making my way through the World Showcase on a cool fall day with a fruity pink drink in my hand. But it can seem to be a little overwhelming for those Food and Wine newcomers. So I’m here to give you my best tips on how to make the most of your trip around the world!

1. Budget. Budget. Budget. Please budget. 

Theme parks are expensive. Alcohol is expensive. Fancy food is expensive. So fancy drinks in a theme park are super extra hella expensive. Drinks in the World Showcase can range anywhere from $8 for a beer, to $15 for a nice margarita. Now, on their own that might not seem like much. But combine your drink with a $5 snack and things start to add up. Not to mention that EPCOT is home to 11 permanent pavilions, and 30 special festival booth, each with a new and delicious treat that you won’t be able to resist. Your trip around the world is going to be expensive, but as long as you planned to spend those few extra dollars this weekend, it will be so worth it.

2. Pregame (with some high quality H2O).

Florida is always going to be hot, even in the middle of fall. Because of this you’ll probably have a nice Florida glow (aka a layer of sweat) on you all day. Between this and some alcohol consumption, you are bound to get a little dehydrated. And once you have put back a few beers in Germany, there’s no telling whether or not you remember to buy a bottle of water at the next pavilion. I have found that if you drink enough water the day before, and drink a bottle of water on the way into the park, you are going to feel so much better throughout your trip. (You should also really try to remember to drink some after every few drinks though, because dehydration is the wOOo0OorStt.) A cast member once told me that EPCOT stood for Every Person Comes Out Tipsy, so make sure you come out tipsy and not sick!

3. Plan your little butt off. 

I am a planner, always have been, always will be. Because of this, I start planning my Food and Wine trip as soon as the official menus come out. You can find this year’s menu here. I would suggest printing it and highlighting everything you definitely want to get to during your trip. Then check out the map when you get the park of where all of this year’s booths are located so you don’t miss anything important!

 

 

Hope you take all of these tips into consideration when planning your next trip to EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival. Come back soon, because I’ll be sharing all of my favorite drinks from EPCOT trips past!

 

How’d I Do?

I was always straight A student (well until college at least), and I thrive off of good grades and feedback about my performance. This doesn’t just apply to my academic life, but to my online social life as well. Lucky for me, most social sites, including this one, have built in analytic reports to track how well a post performs. Now, as someone who mostly blogs for school purposes, my metrics aren’t quite as impressive as I would like, but they’ll do for now. My posts about social media or advertising haven’t performed that well, but my Empire State of Mind post did better than I thought it would. There are a couple of reasons I think this is true. For starters, I shared a link to this post on my Facebook account so all of my friends and family could read it. I also used tags that more people search for when looking for blogs to read (i.e. travel and New York). This is evident in the March analytic breakdown, when my article was published. Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 7.39.42 PM.png

As you can see here, my post about spring break received over three times the amount of views as any other page on my site. You can also see that Facebook referrals are exceedingly higher than any other referrer. I also posted a link to my site on my Twitter account, but as you can see above, the Facebook referral traffic performed at a much higher rate. This can be for a few reasons, but the most important of which is that I have almost 1000 friends on Facebook, whereas I have only 245 flowers on Twitter. Also, with Facebook’s algorithm, my post with my blog link gets more time on people’s newsfeed when mutual friends like or comment on it, giving me more chances to get views on my blog.

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Here’s where I really want to improve. At the beginning of the semester I set a goal for myself to start a blog to use as a portfolio for myself when I start the job search after college. This is most possible when I have the most amount of people seeing my blog. The more people that see my posts, the more likely one of them can offer me a job. Above, you can see that I have only had 93 visitors on my site- a mere fraction of the number of followers I have on my Facebook account who should have seen my post. A few ways I can improve these metrics are first, by writing and sharing more non-school related posts that my followers are interested in reading. The second is to link my blog site to all of my other social sites (including LinkedIn for future employers!). By writing more relevant posts, and using more relevant tags, I am far more likely to get more unique visitors to my site. My newest goal is to start writing a new post every week or two to increase my portfolio and increase my site visits. So now it’s time to get to work!

Sincerely,

B. Kirbs