You Can Call Me The Girl Who Ate the World

It was my creative writing class this semester that gave me the final push to return to my abandoned child of a blog. It reminded me that it’s not about what exactly I write but that fact that I am writing at all. The following personal narrative, and my final for the class, brings me nothing but pride and hunger for both food and adventure

Of all the posts to return to CC with, I think this is a curveball for all of us but enjoy!

The Girl Who Ate the World

By Casey Irwin

I plan on eating the world. Our planet we love and live for, I plan on devouring—and I don’t just mean I’m going to eat at the “Top Ten Restaurants in Rome”.

I am going to eat Rome.

Devour Moscow.

Consume Toronto.

Throw in some Hong Kong and even Vienna for dessert. I am going to eat the world until nothing remains.

I left Chicago because there was nothing left of it. I was eating away at it as I grew up, really learning the best mindsets when setting out to explore my city, person, or plate before me. My family nurtured me with putting experiences over everything, which showed me the best approaches to satisfying my hunger. I started off slow, not completely taking it in until the picky eater in me faded away and a big appetite took its place.  Even as I visit, returning only after it has had a chance to rebuild itself in my absence, I eat all that I missed and more of the surrounding areas. Eat one city and it is as if two grows back in its place. There is always something new to try while too much of the same also remains.

Next I will be on to Spain. I go. I try the Paella. The Jamón. The Tapas. But I don’t stop there. I consume the smiles that join me for every meal. I am given energy by the flowing conversation around the table. I snack on the satisfaction of a meal out, with a buzz from a coffee and a life-high hangover. Every element of Spain fuels me for my next trip, repaying the meals that my host family feed me with the filling feelings of appreciation and love. I leave without a regret; not a corner unturned.

Maybe India is next. India might be a bit harder to swallow, but I will take on any challenge if it means a full stomach. To some people it isn’t as pleasant as other places, but throwing enough spices on anything will make it tasty. I will be bloated by the rivers, and I’ll need to run off those festivals and traditions later. Social media will capture it all before there is nothing left to capture. Consuming India is a more intimidating idea, more than just the different table manners that come with a different place. It can take a lot of energy to step into a place without letting expectations and other people’s judgments take over, but what you get out of it is so much more. I won’t let the over crowded streets clog my arteries when there is something so satisfying about sharing a meal or traditional chai tea with someone that expects nothing from you except a smile.

Again I will be forced to question myself as I make my way to Egypt. History is like the bran muffin of subjects to some people, while to me the thousands of years of being marinated in conflict and culture have left Egypt ready to be cooked and consumed like a fine steak. My tongue may grow tired from trying to speak the native language, only to have my appetite grow with the humorous conversation around my mispronunciations. The tourist filled pyramids won’t stick with me, like how carbs never manage to keep me full for long. It’ll be the authentic restaurants and people that will carry me from one adventure to the next.

It’s then that I am ready for Melbourne, Australia. One of my high school best friends was from here, but I would like to think she would be encouraging and even helpful as I nibble away at it. The artistic support that has been created by the beautiful city, whether it be through the discussion around cafés or street art, will make it go down so smoothly. The intriguing thoughts brought up enrich my body more than any vitamin could.

Can’t leave out South America. I’ll make my way through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile,

Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela by way of the Andes Mountains. The rough terrain has nothing on my chompers, making my way through small villages and vast cities. You would think that I would get tired of it after so many countries, but people tend to forget just how different the Latin American countries are. Only once I take a sip of satisfaction where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet will I move on.

To Baklava in Athens.

Korean Barbeque in Seoul.

Matriarchy in Mosuo, China.

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

Equality in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Only the penguins of Antarctica are safe. One sided conversations leave a bad aftertaste.

I will travel them all, picking my teeth clean of them one by one, until I have licked my plate clean and eaten it too.

~          ~         ~

 I would eat the world if I could; for I think it would taste pretty damn good.

That is the thing though. Food isn’t just food. We don’t just consume and grow from what we put in our mouths. Food is the conversation around the table. Food is the energy of whoever you care to share a meal with and the culture that surrounds its roots. Meals are remembered by the place they are eaten and who they are with. Food is an experience that can be done alone, but is so much better with people by your side to complete the experience.

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Join Me: A Foodie Roadtrip Dream

Two of my favorite things in life are food and traveling, so my dream would be to combine those in a career somehow. While I wait for the opportunity to make that happen, I would love to take to the open road on what I call a foodie road trip.

What is it?

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NDB in Newark

Instead of driving to the nearby city to visit a friend or checking out another beach, I find nothing wrong with planning a whole day to drive from one cute food place to another. I am not sure if this is a regular thing, but planning the trip so that you go in a circle and make your way home at the end of the day, stuffed and satisfied, sounds like a day well spent. There’s no hotel struggle, just one day and done.

Why?

Life is too short to eat the same food all of the time. More than giving you stock for the next three weeks on your Instagram, a road trip will bring you closer to whoever your with and give you so many amazing, delicious memories. It’s something different, a worthwhile adventure, and i’ve personally got nothing to lose.

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How would I plan it?

The easiest part is knowing I would need to start and end at home.  With that in mind, the rest is a bit more complicated. It would go something like this:IMG_8576

  1. Check Instagram. That would give me the option to look for food pictures near my current location or looks for tags that relate to food and the area-probably done while hungry.
  2. More Research. Can’t waste this day, so I would also end up on Spoon University because that would be an easy reference for how far the food is from me. I would also need to follow up on what I found on Instagram.
  3. Consider Eating 6 Meals in One day. My nutrition teacher taught us that it is best to east every 4 hours. Whether that is correct or not, that seems like a good way to limit myself when it comes to narrowing down places to go.
  4. MapQuest it all. GPS is a valid option on the day of, but getting a good idea of the finals restaurant selections and their locations would be important.
  5. Find an understanding companion. Not everyone will understand a day revolving around food. Once I find someone willing to handle the day, it would be time to pick a date and hit the road!

You could always take the more spontaneous route and just choose a town or route and hope it leads you to some mouth watering food, but I like some methods to my madness. I should probably figure out a car workout routine to combat all of this stationary eating.

Anyone else ever thought of doing something like this? Let Me Know!  Also, check out my new food Instagram @penneformythoughts

Catch me cruising,

Casey

 

The Five Ingredients to My Perfect Summer

I love summer. My allergies have finally adjusted to the beautiful flowers, my birthday is plopped right in the middle of Labor Day and Memorial Day, and everything is just more relaxing. What makes this summer special is that I am living on my own for a good part of it, and I am prepared to make it as great as I can. It’s one thing to be off of school, but it’s another to make the most of your time.

I was going to write up my five goals for summer, but I realized I didn’t want to pressure myself or hold myself to a to-do list like I do during the school year. This list is more of a reminder to myself, and others, for what summer is all about.

1.  Time to be CreativeIMG_7743.jpg

School does not leave a lot of time for writing for fun. It only really left time for my Spoon Articles, but summer gives me time to tackle both SpoonUD and my blog. More than that summer means summer cooking, baking, and photographing.

2. Beach Bumming it

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Ten years ago, I never would’ve imagined how much I love the beach after I used to leave it burnt, dirty, and tired. Now I hope to spend as much skin-healthy time at the beach as I can. Game are fun, but the real beauty is in just lying there. Just me and the waves–The savage seagulls I could do without.

3. Work Work Work

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Now I can’t actually spend every day at the beach. A lot of my time is going to be spent at working at a coffee/ice cream shop, and I am extremely excited about it. The lessons learned will last a lifetime while the money I earn in the summer buys me more fun for the rest of the year. I find working empowering, especially when it’s better than doing nothing compared to having an internship.

4. Keeping it Simple

A Simple Summer is a summer I like, and not just for the alliteration. Things seem to move slower, giving me time to sort through all of my things and thoughts in order to get rid of what I don’t need. I’ve realized how much I hate clutter, so summer is the perfect time to get rid of annoyances like that.

5. Adventures

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Nothing says summer quiet like adventures. I am not very familiar with my new Jersey shore home, but I plan on getting comfortable with my surroundings. It might be tough to drag yourself out of bed, but getting up early is so worth a day of exploring a new place.

I could not be happier to be back in the blogging game now that it’s time for summer. Same drill as before–I’m still growing up and figuring out what I want to write about.

Hope you’re all still interested in joining me.

Still sharing my conscience,

Casey

Tried & True: Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies

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Finally back at it again with the #FoodieFridays! Food has been such a big part of my life lately but not in a way that I could write about it on my blog until now. Thanks to my lack of warm weather plans, I took to the kitchen during my few days back at home this past week.

I wanted to make something different, but not too timeIMG_0908.jpg
consuming. Cookies seemed like a good way to go, but I wanted something more than my basic chocolate chip cookies. This led me to deciding to make yet another Pinterest find, Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies from Betsylife. Luckily for all of us and my family, I was very happy with how they turned out.

Highlights:

  • Dark chocolate is really underrated and I used to consider caramel overrated, but the combination is perfect. These cookies specifically have a great ratio so that you’re never stuck with a caramel-less bite.
  • These cookies still manage to not be over chocolate-y, so you can shovel down more than a few without immediate guilt or that death-by-chocolate kind of feeling.

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Tips:

  • IMG_0848.jpgUse the full 9 oz bag of Toll House DelightFulls. It seemed like too much so I did not initially add all of them, but after doing my first batch I added the rest of the bag to the dough I had left and it really added to the rest of the cookies
  • Be cautious but generous with the salt. I personally do not like a lot of salt with caramel, but I was a little too cautious with these cookies.
  • Judging these cookies in the oven was tough because they start out dark anyway, so I personally just trusted my gut. They do not spread very much, but you will start to see them almost crack open a bit like a load of bread when they’re done.

My family found the appearance of these cookies in relation to how appetizing they are debatable, but we all loved them for their taste. Heated up and mixed with vanilla ice cream is an extra special treat!

Let me know if you try this recipe! Also, does anyone have any tips for how to come up with my own recipes? I can’t just talk about other people’s creations forever!

Crazy for Caramel,

Casey

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

Starved Rock State Park

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Every week approaching summer seems to get longer as we have to stare at beautiful days from inside buildings. One thing that I didn’t think I would miss about warm weather is being out in it. I never used to be an outdoorsy person, and I don’t think I would put that in personal description about myself now, but cabin fever has me dreaming of fresh air and long walks. Now the beloved beach is a different story, but the woods are a new thing for me. It leaves me reminiscent of my day trip to Starved Rock State Park in Olgesby, Illinois this past summer. The midwest is not known for much other than strange metal beans and pizza, but I will give it some credit for maintaining our nation’s natural beauty at a few more hidden gems.

Why Make the Trip to Starved Rock:IMG_6456.jpg

  • That moment you step out of the car, whether your from one or 10 hours away, is going to be a great feeling. Before the heat hits you, but after the air conditioning has been giving you goosebumps, is pure bliss–and you don’t quiet know what is ahead.
  • The views are amazing from the top of the highest mountain or the deepest part of a valley.
  • Horseback riding and boat tours are apparently offered and I am sad I missed them but you shouldn’t.
  • You can’t get a better workout than running from a giant spider or searching for that one hidden trail.

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Specifics:

  • Waterfalls: I never thought I would see a waterfall in a place so close to my everyday suburbs. I believe my friends and I made it to the biggest one, and while it was still not huge it was still breathtaking.
  • Lodge: Starved rock isn’t just a bunch of trees, but an occasional wedding destination or lunch outing. Taking cover for an hour or two in the lodge is perfect for getting reenergized for the next trail, especially when they have a great menu.
  • The River: Some of the trails go right along the water. It’s no ocean, but the breeze coming off the water and openness comes as a nice second.

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I can imagine my experience would have been even better if it hadn’t been the hottest day of the summer when I trekked through the woods. Now you definitely won’t see me camping anytime soon, but I am ready to hit some East Coast hiking trails soon! Being around actual mountains is a real treat that I could get used to.

Have any of you ever been? How about East Coast destinations? 

Constantly Curious,

Casey

 

A Full Natural-Curls Hair Routine

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I recently wore my hair straight for two days, and as fun as it was to be almost unrecognizable, returning to my curls felt great. I’m known with the girl with curly hair,and I love that. While my routine can be kind of high maintenance, I know it is a lot simpler than putting 300+ degrees to my hair every day just for it to get frizzy with one drop of moisture. It’s taken me several years, but i’m happy with my hair most days and I thought I would share my routine with you all, just in case anyone is struggling with taming their mane.

Night:

  • I only use shampoo about once or twice a week. I still shower every single night,
    but I usually go right for the conditioner. A stylist told me this tip years ago and I think it helps with frizz!
  • Coconut oil is my only nighttime product. I put in and flip my hair around to let it dry a bit before I braid it back–which I do overnight or else I would have to shave my head from the ensuing rats nets.

Day:Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 7.51.01 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-06 at 7.50.54 PM

  • Each morning, I stick my head under the sink and wet my hair. I also have a spray bottle full of water that I used to the hard to reach spots so that all of my hair is wet. You could shower instead, but I am just someone who has to shower before bed!
  • Moroccan Oil Curl Defining Cream and John Frieda Curl Reviver Styling Mousse are next, in that order. After years of trial and error, I have found these are great for preventing frizz and helping my hair not get weighed down by itself. I always flip my hair around a bit and scrunch it a couple times with my hands afterwards to help the product evenly cover my hair.
  • I let my hair dry a bit before styling, typically in a Snookie-style half-up look, that is a perfect time to do my makeup.

Everything in BetweenIMG_8713.jpg

  • Half-up hairdos are my go-to, but i’ll wear it all down if I know I won’t be out in the wind a lot.
  • Headbands and Beanies are iffy, but can occasionally work
  • Ribbon hair ties and small clips are my best friends.

Everyone’s hair is different, but all of the products I use have
something to offer. Embrace your curls in any ways that you find suits you!

That girls with curly hair,

Casey