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My 2017 Summer Reading List

My 2017 Summer Reading List

I’ve really been slacking on reading. You can check out my pitiful amount of books I’ve read so far this year here. My goal of reading 52 books this year — AKA, a book every week — isn’t going so well. For some reason, I’ve […]

What’s in My Bag?

What’s in My Bag?

Nothing makes me feel more refreshed than organizing my items and space. Mid-spring is the perfect time to clean my closet, moving the heavily layered items to the back and the light, bright-colored ones to the front. In addition, cleaning out my bag — and even […]

Visiting the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

Visiting the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

On my recent trip my Miami, my friends and I spent a majority of our time relaxing and drinking adult beverages. However, one of the highlights of the trip was an unexpected good time: the historic Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.

Before going, we researched this spot a little, keeping it in the back of our heads as an activity to do. Luckily, it rained throughout the afternoon one day, so we used that day to hit the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Since we were staying on Miami Beach, we had to take a Lyft. The drive took a little less than a half hour each way, which really wasn’t too bad. Going to the estate was a good call on a rainy day; it’s mostly indoors, but even in the gardens, the rain wasn’t a big deal.

Vizcaya was the winter residence of James Deering, a millionaire who gained his wealth from his agricultural manufacturing business. He owned homes all around the country, but decided to build the Vizcaya estate during his retirement. Deering’s construction of the home occurred in the early twentieth century — think Downton Abbey times — and he only lived there for 8 years before his death.

Vizcaya Museum gardens
The Barge, a spot used for entertaining (with the help of a boat to take guests out there)

If you plan on going to the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, definitely wear comfortable shoes. I got a surprisingly high amount of steps on my FitBit during our visit, so I was glad I wore good shoes for walking. In addition, we covered the entire estate, except one section that was closed for restoration). Plan ahead to stay for a few hours. There’s a cafe with coffee and food, so making a whole day of it isn’t a bad idea.

My friends and I decided to go through the estate on our own, so we could spend more time in areas that were more interesting to us. However, they do run hourly tours throughout the grounds for an additional price. I assume the guided tour has more history attached to it, but I feel like we got our money’s worth independently.

Vizcaya Museum Gardens Courtyard
The Courtyard, which features columns and arches, clearly of a Mediterranean influence

The Home

The style of the home derives from eighteenth century Italian architecture and style. The courtyard, which is the central part of the home, originally had no roof; this is one way in which Deering utilized the subtropical climate in his design. Vizcaya is located on the Biscayne Bay, making it very easily accessible for Deering’s visitors.

Vizcaya Museum Gardens
The Living Room
Vizcaya Museum Gardens
The Reception Room, where any visitors waited to meet with James Deering

The juxtaposition of the modern and the traditional shows in the home’s design and features. Vizcaya’s internal appearance resembles the Baroque style, a very traditional trend, but some of the estate’s technology was very forward-thinking for the time. The estate has 2 elevators, which is even very extravagant and modern in homes in the present time. The architects also built the home from reinforced concrete, a modern technology of the time; part of the reason the mansion is in such good shape today is because of this strong material.

Vizcaya Museum gardens
The Dining Room

There seems to be an intermingling of different cultures through the Vizcaya estate. Artifacts from various countries, including Italy, France, and even China, and styles from the Neoclassical, Rococo, and modern periods decorate the home. The principal artistic director, Paul Chalfin, inspired different rooms around different Italian cities. For instance, the Music Room is inspired by Milan, 2 of the bedrooms are inspired by Venice, and so on. The style’s lack of succinctness is due to the home’s whimsical atmosphere; since it was Deering’s vacation home, Chalfin and Deering wanted it to remain playful and light.

vizcaya museum gardens music room
The Music Room
vizcaya museum gardens
Another angle of the Living Room, with an organ in the corner

The Gardens

Though the house itself is elaborate, it pales in comparison to the intricate gardens. This space is split into multiple sections, or “rooms,” including a Theatre Garden, a Maze Garden, and a Fountain Garden.

vizcaya museum gardens
The main section of the garden
vizcaya museum gardens
Deering had ivy planted around certain spots to create an aged look

To maintain the appearance of a traditional, old garden, Deering and his builders brought in aged sculptures to decorate the yard and planted old trees. However, a great deal of modern architects created pieces for the gardens as well. The swimming pool is an especially modern piece featured in the Vizcaya estate.

vizcaya museum gardens
Cacti, an example of some of the plants making up the garden grounds
vizcaya museum gardens
View of the home from the garden
vizcaya museum gardens art sculpture
An example of traditional art that decorates the garden
vizcaya museum gardens
A staircase behind the “Casino.” No gambling there, sadly
Vizcaya Museum Garden
One of the many man-made bodies of water on the property

If you want to learn more about the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, check out their informational website. For our adult tickets, we paid $18 each, but guided tours cost extra. If you experience a Miami day with less-than-desirable weather, check out this historical, beautiful place!

vizcaya museum gardens
Inside a Cupola

 

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17 Tips for the Best Vacation to Miami, Florida

17 Tips for the Best Vacation to Miami, Florida

My recent trip to Miami — which I also wrote a post about here — was exciting, fun, and very relaxing. That being said, I definitely could have done a little more research before the trip. With my birthday weekend right before the trip, I was […]

Ch-Ch-Changes: Life Update, May 2017

Ch-Ch-Changes: Life Update, May 2017

I wanted to post a quick update about two new and exciting things in my life. As of now, I’ve been working my current job since October and living in Boston since November. However, as a 23-year-old, my life is bound to go through some […]

My Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

My Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

This weekend, I went up to my college city, Burlington, VT, for a short visit. Months ago, my friend Troy bought tickets for the two of us to see Barenaked Ladies downtown. Since the weather was nice and a lot of other alumni were going up, I was able to convince Matt to join me on the trip. Plus, a band he loves — Start Making Sense — had a show in Burlington on Friday, so it really wasn’t too hard to convince him to come.

I graduated from Saint Michael’s College, a tiny liberal arts school in Colchester, Vermont, which is practically spitting distance from Burlington. 4 years in this lovely place just wasn’t enough, and I find myself looking for every chance to get up there again. I haven’t visited since September, for my college’s alumni weekend, so my desire to get back to Burlington was at an all-time high. This blog post is dedicated to my weekend in my second home, Burlington. The weekend was full of too much food, great music, and reunions with good friends.

Friday, April 28

I took the full day off work — Floating Holiday for the win! — so we could take off before dark. Matt had to meet with someone around noon, so we didn’t end up leaving Boston until after 2:30. With 2 stops and a little traffic in Boston, we got to Matt’s friends’ place at around 7:00. Since Start Making Sense wasn’t taking the stage until around 9:30, we had a little time to relax and have a few drinks.

Start Making Sense, the contemporary Talking Heads cover band, got its name from Stop Making Sense, a famous Talking Heads concert movie. Their style of dress and movements was reminiscent of the Talking Heads, and their sound was pretty damn close. They played a lot of the big hits and even threw in “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (by Whitney Houston, but you should feel ashamed if you didn’t already know that). Higher Ground, one of the famous concert venues in the Burlington area, was a great setting for Start Making Sense, as it wasn’t too large but gave everyone more than enough room for dancing.

start making sense burlington vt higher ground vermont talking heads tribute
Concert lighting isn’t the best for a good couple pic

Saturday, April 29

We woke up on Saturday to a surprisingly nice day outside; it was projected to rain in the afternoon, but there was only a light amount of rain in the morning, followed by a warm, partly cloudy day. For breakfast, we were really craving a classic diner breakfast, so we hit Athens Diner, a favorite of St. Mike’s students. I got my usual, the All Meat Skillet and a few cups of coffee.

Athens Diner Colchester VT Vermont all meat skillet
Their skillets aren’t the most photogenic breakfasts but they’re incredible. The skillet is filled with homefries, Vermont cheddar, various toppings — sausage and bacon in my case — and topped with eggs (any style) and toast.

The Shelburne Museum had publicized an exhibition called Backstage Pass, which featured uncommon photos of famous musicians throughout the decades. The photos went in chronological order for the most part and could be fact-checked with a guide book that the museum provides. It was pretty cool and definitely made me want to listen to some old ’60s rock. If you want to check out the exhibition before it goes away, you have until May 7th!

Shelburne Museum Backstage Pass

Later that evening, Matt and I went to dinner with Troy, one of my favorite humans (and my companion for the BNL concert). Naturally, Our House Bistro was the choice for our meal. Our House is another local favorite, since it’s super close to campus and has a menu filled with “twisted comfort food,” as they proudly call it. I went for something I’ve gotten before and loved, the Chicken Pot Pie mac and cheese. Of the 4 or 5 different types of mac and cheese I’ve gotten at Our House, this has been my absolute favorite. We sat at one of their outdoor tables because it was still warm out.

our house bistro winooski circle vt vermont mac and cheese chicken pot pie
Chicken pot pie mac and cheese. I could only eat half!

After dinner, Troy and I grabbed another drink before the concert at Manhattan Pizza, a bar and pizza joint right by Church Street and the Flynn Center, the concert venue. I got my Citizen Cider fix, so all was good in the world. (Yes, they sell Citizen Cider at certain liquor stores in Boston, but there’s something so special about Citizen on draft.)

I’ve seen multiple shows at the Flynn before. I was a Theatre major, after all! Just to name a few, I saw the Broadway tour of American Idiot, a global music concert for a study abroad re-entry course, an acid trip of a show for an Honors Program course, and a concert performance by Patti Lupone for a Costumes course. I’ve never come close to seeing a rock show at this theater, so I wasn’t sure what the vibe would be. Rumor has it, the audience isn’t supposed to stand, dance, or sing along at the Flynn. However, as soon as Barenaked Ladies walked onstage, they rejected these rules. They said that following those rules would make it a pretty lame rock show; I couldn’t have agreed more!

The audience danced and sang along as they played hits and some of their more obscure songs. Toward the end of the show, BNL even threw in a medley of contemporary songs, from the Game of Thrones theme song to “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran. The guys of BNL had an incredible stage presence during and between songs; these funny guys kept the audience laughing as they tuned and prepared for the next song. Overall, being able to stand and dance made me forget about the rows of seats. The acoustics of the Flynn were great, even in the back of the theater. The venue kept the show loud without making me feel like my ears were ringing.

After the show, we made a few stops for drinks, at JP’s to listen to some karaoke, to Ri Ra, and to Ake’s Place, a Saint Mike’s student and alumni hot spot.

Sunday, April 30

I accidentally slept in later than intended, so I had to rush to get ready for brunch. I met with 2 of my friends from college, Mollie and Taylor. At school, I saw them both every single day (and actually lived with both of them). However, I hadn’t seen either of them since my last visit to Vermont in September. Crazy! We went to Sneakers Bistro, one of the most popular breakfast places in the area. (Fortunately, they use an app that allows people to make reservations. Definitely a much better alternative to a 2-hour wait!) I got the California Eggs Benedict and a cold-brew coffee.

california eggs benedict sneakers bistro winooski circle vermont vt
California Eggs Benedict: poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce over veggie sausage, spinach, avocado, tomato, and portobello mushrooms, served over a croissant and with a side of homefries

It was really nice to catch up again. There’s something about hanging out face-to-face — preferably with a delicious brunch in front of you — that beats texting any day.

We left for Boston at around 3:30 and got back to the city right around 7:30. I love Burlington with every ounce of my being, but I’m definitely more of a city girl now.

There’s still so much I haven’t done in this nostalgic city. Even though it’s a tiny city, I discover something new every time I go. I can’t wait for my next trip to Burlington! (Hopefully, if my schedule stays the same, it will be relatively soon!)

 

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Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Miami, Florida

Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Miami, Florida

I just got back from a 6-day trip to Miami and I just wanna talk about it! In my first of multiple upcoming blog posts about my vacation, I’m going to cover the essentials that every twenty-something visiting Miami needs: good food, strong drinks, and nightlife […]

My 23rd Birthday Weekend

My 23rd Birthday Weekend

I aged one year since my last blog post! That’s right, this girl is now 23, which, according to Blink-182, means nobody likes me. But that’s okay! My birthday week was pretty busy and exciting, so I decided to dedicate a blog post to recap […]

Visiting the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Visiting the Harvard Museum of Natural History

This Friday, I was able to take a half day (hooray for vacation rollover!), so I decided to use my time off to do something fun and different. Earlier that weekend, my boyfriend, Matt, found out about the Harvard Museum of Natural History while looking up fun things to do in Boston. I was surprised that after several months of living in Boston (and 22 years of living in the Greater Boston Area), I didn’t know this place existed. Since the weather was less than desirable — AKA, several inches of heavy snow — we figured spending time walking around a museum would be a good way to go somewhere cool and different but stay shielded  from the snow.

LOCATION AND ACCESSIBILITY:

The museum is a short walk from the Harvard T stop and practically steps from Harvard Yard. The museum is located at 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, which sounds like a very British address to me. Various buildings of sciences, from zoology to computer science to chemistry, surround the museum; this is no coincidence, as many contributions to the museum are from student and faculty research.

Harvard Museum of Natural History
This section is part of the Earth & Planetary Sciences exhibition.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
This section named each of these rare and interesting rocks and named the country in which each was discovered. I was surprised by all the cool varieties in the U.S. alone!

THE MUSEUM’S EXHIBITIONS:

The exhibitions, though very different, are very interesting, with a great amount of artifacts and replicas. I found myself immersed in the animal kingdom of Africa, in a New England forest, in Native American villages, and in prehistoric times through the highlight of sights that make up the museum. Anthropods: Creatures That Rule is another highlight; this exhibition includes a honeybee installation at certain times of the year. Finally, the famous glass exhibitions, Glass Flowers and Sea Creatures in Glass, are captivating and memorable spots.

Peabody Museum
This exhibition, which was part of the Peabody Museum, called Arts of War, included weaponry, armor, and helmets used throughout various periods and cultures.
Peabody Museum
The Peabody Museum also features ceramic pieces from different nations, cultures, and eras.
Peabody Museum
One ongoing exhibition features artifacts from different Native American tribes. It was fascinating to see differences in their day-to-day lives, transportation methods, and housing styles.

ADMISSION:

If you have an active Harvard ID, admission to the museum is free. However, if you aren’t an employee or student at Harvard, admission is $12.00 for adults, or $10.00 for students with a non-Harvard student ID. (Unfortunately, my college ID says “Class of 2016” on it, so I can’t milk those discounts anymore. So sad.) Admission to the Peabody Museum Of Archaeology and Ethnology, which is next door and attached, is included in the purchase of entry to the Museum of Natural History.

Harvard Museum of Natural History
Equus: a genus of mammals in the family Equidae, i.e. horses, donkeys, etc. Also, the play that featured a naked Daniel Radcliffe standing beside a horse.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Even some prehistoric animal bones make up a prehistoric exhibition. This guy is the world’s only mounted Kronosaurus, a marine reptile at over 40 feet. I definitely wouldn’t want to come face-to-face with that thing.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
The Evolution exhibition explores Charles Darwin’s famous theory.

HOURS OF OPERATION:

The museum is open almost every day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, with the exception of a few holidays. However, they stayed open a little later than 5:00 when I went; people were coming in and out when Matt and I left around 5:15.

Harvard Museum of Natural History
Several rooms are designed to immerse you in different ecosystems and animal habitats. This one, which reminded me of trips to Canada in the summer as a child, is intended to be a New England forest.

 

If you decide to visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History or have been there before, let me know what you think!

 

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12 Podcasts to Make Your Commute Not Suck

12 Podcasts to Make Your Commute Not Suck

Anyone with a long commute understands how much of a time-suck it is to get to and from work. Just listening to music or sitting there idly makes me feel like I’m wasting so much time in which I could otherwise be productive. In addition, people with […]