Spain Countdown: 2 Weeks

One year ago, I was bouncing around the idea of studying abroad during a winter session.

Eight months ago I found out that I was accepted into the program.

Two weeks from now I will be on my way to Spain.

The process to studying abroad is a slow one, but it has still been barely enough time for the fact that I am living in Granada, Spain for a month to sink in. I’ve taken action on something Idsc_0815 had talked about doing for years but with a twist.

I never thought I would study abroad in Spain. The plan was always London and only London. The UK is not off my list, but I couldn’t wait until junior year of college. I also wasn’t about to have my first experience abroad be for a full semester. That brought me to the magic of a month in Spain, with a host grandma to lessen the strains.

It’s this huge leap of faith outside of my comfort zone, into a Spanish speaking country that will support my minor and nurture my terrible accent, that I am eagerly counting down to.

As I prepare for all of tricks and turns of travel, I am kept awake at night by a few particular ideas:

1. Familia de acogida

If there’s one thing that moving halfway across the country for school taught me, it’s that there’s nothing like family. Or family-like figures. The idea of my host family, which is essentially three generations, is so comforting. I might still be overly optimistic in hoping that I’ll develop some incredible bond with all of them.

2. Hablando Español

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Taking up a Spanish minor is mostly for my own enjoyment, no matter how un-naturally the language can come to me sometimes. Time for me to embrace how terribly I sound in the start in order to not just get by but enhance my skills.

3. La comida

Get back to me on this after I make eye contact with what’s on my plate, but the authentic cuisine and endless coffee that I am bound to enjoy already make my tastebuds water.

4. La belleza pura

Everyone I know can expect a lot of Instagram posts, and this trip was my main motivation for purchasing my Nikon, but pictures are really only worth taking if I have a beautiful subject. It’s not hard to be better than my current polar vortex location, but Granada is going to have a type of classic European beauty that I have not yet been able to witness.

5. La perspectivaimg_7908

I used to have this idea that traveling would change me. That every stamp on my passport would practically bring me to enlightenment. I’ve changed my tune a bit, or perhaps just my wording. Spending a month in Granada will give me the perspective I need to grow as a person. That growth, no matter how big or small, will allow me to enjoy not just my month in Granada but all future endeavors. Whether it be more independence or appreciation for what I have, Granada ought to teach me a little something more than what my SPAN208 class has to offer.

~Be on the look out for more travel posts~

Constantly excited,

Casey

Follow my travels more on social media! @caseyirwin97 @penneformythoughts

 

5 Rules I’m Following for My Professional Instagram

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 8.39.04 PM.pngSocial media continues to be a big part of my life, so I have been juggling with the idea of starting a second Instagram for months. I was not sure if I should take on the small commitment, if it would get too complicated, or if I should focus it more to food. I finally took the leap when I realized I needed to better separate my personal and professional life. The thing was that I do not want to separate them too much. I had to decide what I wanted to post in order to make sure the account did not just become another thing with my name on. It has finally come down to these few rules that I stick by:

5. Follow (almost) EveryoneIMG_0421.jpg

I’m constantly following new people in order to get my name out there or to have a more exciting feed. Following back requires more caution, but I try to be good for a follow and like.

4. Connect to Other Platforms

Not that this has helped me so far, but connecting my photos to my twitter or even this very post keeps everything connected and simpler. It creates a big picture that allows my friends, family, and future co-workers get to know me better.

3. @CaseyIrwin97 is basically @conscienceofcasey

I didn’t make a strictly blog-related Instagram because I wanted to encompass more of myself as a brand and not just post there when I post here, but I will always incorporate the two. On top of everything, Instagram in another way to promote my blog and another creative outlet that ai try to post on as much as possible. 

2. Keep it ArtsyIMG_0724.jpg

One of my favorite things about Instagram is the creative part of it. While my personal
account is still creative and pretty, my professional platform will have no boundaries and I will let myself have more fun with it.

1. Be Professional First, Myself a Close Second

My personal Instagram could easily be a professional one, but as I network and develop my skills I don’t think my friends would find conference photos quiet as entertaining. My professional instagram will incorporate my personal life and professional life into an feed that highlights my skills and social media interests.

I would love it if you could check out this Instagram I just rambled on about!

Constantly Captioning,

Casey

Years In The Making: Tried & True Birthday Cake

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Cake was like my first true love. I’ve baked on and off for years, but when I started making cakes from scratch something really clicked. The decorating is still a challenge to me, but I love creating the more important part of the inside. Cake usually signifies an important event, whether it be a birthday or sporting victory, and I love being a part of that to this day. I eventually made some cakes for family events and friends’ parties. After all of that I have perfected my chocolate cake, but I struggled until just recently to get a perfect vanilla cake.

IMG_9686.jpgMy face completely lit up when my dining hall had vanilla cake today, and it was surprisingly moist and delicious. This reminded me of the last thing I baked before I left home–a vanilla cake with chocolate icing.

I make the cake with a recipe from BuzzFeed, of all places. I could spend hours watching those several-second Tasty and BuzzFeed videos, but I finally took the time to makes one of the recipes that I had seen.

Props for BuzzFeed:

  • This cake is actually moist. All the recipes I have tried, including the almighty Cake Boss’s, turned out dry. IMG_9720.jpgThis recipe does not need a single extra oil or egg yolk; it is perfect the way it is.
  • The recipe was easy to follow. No difficult techniques or requirements for leaving the cake to set in order for it to get the right shape.
  • This cake is HUGE. It is supposed to be three layers, but even just separating it in two was huge.
  • The flavor reminds me of a boxed mix, which I do not consider a bad thing, but that does lead me to my one critic: Instead of 2 teaspoons of vanilla, try about 1 tablespoon instead. I have not done this myself, but the cake was missing the true vanilla flavor when I made it. That extra 1 1/2 tablespoon would probably do the trick.

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I did not personally try to make the icing, because let’s be honest 12 oz. of bittersweet chocolate can get expensive, but Duncan Hines chocolate icing did the trick! I decorated with some white icing and UD colored sprinkles because I knew I couldn’t mess it up. I actually think it turned out pretty cute!

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I have only made this recipe once, but my whole family was just so pleased with the results that I wanted to share! This cake would definitely make a perfect birthday cake, or you could make it on a boring, cold winter day like I did!

I would love to hear about and see your results if you make this! Tweet me @caseyirwin97

Your not-quite-cake-boss-but-cake-manager,

Casey