20 Hours in Pittsburgh Through Photos

Road trips with my family have always meant a mix of too much time together and countless fond memories. The past few years, road trips have turned into a time to bond with either my mom and dad in order to get my car to and from Delaware. Slowly I have developed a urning to do the drive by myself, and by some miracle my parents agreed to let me do so.img_8325

I originally divided my solo drive from Delaware to Illinois with a stop in Cleveland to visit my friend Caitlyn. I loved experiencing that city, but I wanted to switch it up on my way back. Pittsburgh, which my family had stopped in to break up our drive before, struck my fancy. It is about 7 hours in to the 12 hour drive, making it the perfect location. I was fortunate to have my parents pay for a hotel for the night, but I took it upon myself to explore a bit while I was there.

Pittsburgh gave me a good vibe as soon as I was within city limits, with the bridges and buildings making the drive to my hotel different from what I had expected. I had never been in an American city with mix of mountains and roads before. Snow started to fall soon before I entered the city, so I was excited to wake up to a heavily dusted version of my hotel view. The next morning I visited a highly recommended coffee shop and took it upon myself to explore the streets as I did. Here’s what I found.

Commonplace Coffee On Buena Vista Street

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In true anxious fashion, I went in and out of this unfamiliar coffee shop quicker than planned. Maybe it was my day-two-of-the-roadtrip-“bum” look, or it was my fear that my car was somehow illegally parked, but I only took a few minutes to take in the interior of the shop. That was still enough time to appreciate some of what it had to offer. My dirty chai was a solid 6/10, and my blueberry muffin a 9/10. If I lived in Pittsburgh, I would definitely spend a lot of time here.

The Rest of the Mexican War Streets

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Up the street from the coffee shop, I found some beautiful buildings. I was stunned by their bright, rich colors. I took the opportunity to whip out my Nikon and take some shots. I explored a few snow-covered streets and did not care whether people questioned why I was photographing their comes. They must know what they have, right?

On The Way Out

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I placed my Nikon on the dashboard of my car and occasionally pressed the shutter button, while keeping my eyes on the road, to see what would happen. As expected, most of them were blurry or boring. I was pleasantly surprised by this shot that captured the snow and the diffused light.

I can’t wait to hit the road again, whether it be alone or with some company. Tackling the road alone created a sense of accomplishment that I had never felt before. Having that feeling again, or experiencing a new route and place with friends, is something to look forward to.

I am forever thankful it was a smooth trip both to and from Delaware.

 

Casey

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Granada, Spain: First Impressions

And just like that I’ve been in Spain for three full days. I keep having to recount on the calendar from both shock and exhaustion. I slept like a baby the first night here, leaving me somewhat ready to live the sleepless life of a Spaniard while taking in as much as possible. Between the walking tours and host mom bonding, I have some thoughts on this beautiful city:

Architecture // Arquitectura

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While I fell in love with UD for its “old” brick buildings and style, Granada takes that love for old architecture to another level. There are plenty of modern buildings to appreciate, and I won’t romanticize the simple apartments, but the historical buildings and albayzín take me through time and space with their many influences and styles.

Coffee // Café

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I’ve seen just one Starbucks since I stepped off my plane, and it was in the Madrid airport. I’ve passed a Dunkin’ on the daily as we’ve explored, but I am continuously drawn to every single small coffee shop we pass. I’ve managed to surpass my host mom’s expectations by not just not having the jitters from their “strong” coffee but also needing more coffee throughout after the cup she gives me with breakfast. My cortado experiences haven’t failed me, but more importantly the black coffee is also much smoother than in America.

Food // Comida

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Not everyone here eats breakfast, but when they do it can easily be a cup of chocolate and fresh churros without judgement. I could go for a syrup soaked french toast any day in America, so that sweet alternative is nice for when the typical coffee and toast doesn’t cut it.

The unspoken motto here is that lunch is the most important meal of the day, which so far have consisted of a rice-with-red-meat-sauce and then carrot puree with chicken wings. With nothing too terrifying (yet), I’ve taken on that big meal every day with open arms and a mouth open wide. Don’t even get me started on the magic of tapas.

Other // Otro IMG_8444.jpg

It’s been an overwhelming couple of days, but I could not be happier to be here. I knew coming into this that I would go outside of my comfort zone, and here I am waving at it from a distance–churro in hand. The biggest surprises continue to be the struggle of showering and how quickly I go from understanding my host mom to being completely lost. It’s more apparent to me now than ever that a smile means the same thing everywhere. I can only imagine that my Spanish discussion class will help me, only after the initial pain of getting into the swing of things. It’s been easy to forget I’m actually going to come out of this trip with another grade on my transcript.

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It’s flown by more than anything, but I already have great memories to show for it. Bring on the next 4 weeks.

Hasta luego,

Casey

Tried & True: Panera Bread Coffee Cake Dupe #FoodieFriday

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I used to think you could only eat coffee cake with coffee. Like you could have coffee alone, but not the cake without coffee. This all changed in seventh grade when Charles H. brought in coffee cake WITHOUT COFFEE, and it was delicious. I never found out exactly where it was from, but my mom soon picked up one of Panera Bread’s Coffee Cakes to try and that was close enough. It was probably the same cake for all I know by now. Over the next several years my mom occasionally brought the infamous cake home for me to devour, and I was always grateful.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 7.45.04 PMAs an avid cake maker and eater, it finally occurred to me this summer that I should make my own coffee cake instead of buying it. I prefer to know what I am eating and it would just be more fun. Returning again to Pinterest I found a recipe with a very appealing picture. It was a simple recipe from the good ole’ Martha Stewart. I gave it a shot for the first time two months ago, and (spoiler alert) I recently made it again because I love it so much.

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The first time I made a couple mistakes due to my own stupidity, so make sure you read the recipe carefully. I missed the whole part about putting the streusel part on before putting it in the oven, but putting it on afterwards still turned out okay. The cooking time was also off, but that is usually the case for my oven in particular. I really appreciated not having to alter anything from the actual recipe on my second go around!

I had the hardest time getting the cake out of the pan on my second try. I do not know if it was because I was eager so the pan was still hot & the cake was less stable or that the streusel on top (that I actually did correctly this time) was making a mess. After some frustration I finally got in on a plate to glaze, which was my favorite part. Seeing it melt onto the cake was beautiful. IMG_6943

So this recipe was tried & true to a tee. I loved it with some black tea. This cake is basically Tea Cake because I don’t drink coffee unless it’s part of a sugary Starbucks Frappucino, but I have heard it is delicious either way.IMG_6945

I would love to hear what you think of it if you try it!

Casey