Friday, August 29, 2014

Welcome Week

I am nearing the end of my first week at college, yet it feels like I have been here forever. Of course, there have been various activities for freshmen throughout the week. The first night that I moved in we had a floor meeting followed by dinner and then the President's convocation over at the Bryce Jordan Center where the basketball team plays. Each freshman was given a different colored T-shirt to wear representing the college that their major is in. The College of Arts and Architecture was a periwinkle color. It was cool seeing the rainbow of students. You would be shocked seeing the insanely large number of freshmen all in one room. Although there was a lack of periwinkle in the room, there were a ton of undecided and engineering students. Representatives from each college walked in. The new President and student body President welcomed us to the school.
The next night I went to the pep rally for the freshmen. The event was called Be a Part from the Start. We all got free pom poms and posters of the football team. It was only an hour, but it was tiring standing the whole time. Yep, I know what you're thinking. Football games in the student section are going to be rough. We did the wave, watched the dance and cheer team perform, listened to the band, and other things like that. The hockey team and football coach came out at one point. The event ended with all of us singing the alma matter. I really enjoyed it!
Monday through Thursday I checked out the Involvement Fair each day. A bunch of clubs and organizations set up booths and clubs to try and get you to sign up. I was interested in the Cooking and Baking Club, the Event Planning Organization, Homecoming Committee, and clubs involved with THON. For those of you who don't know, THON is a 46 hour dance marathon put on in the spring to raise money for pediatric cancer. Last year I think the school rose over $13 million. It's the biggest event of the year.
Yesterday night, I wanted to go to the late night Target event where they give you a bag of free stuff and you can shop after hours for last minute dorm supplies. But, it was so late and I was just too tired and exhausted from my architecture class to go. More on my stressful classes later. I was also slightly sick, so to say I would have been able to stay up that late is probably wishful thinking.
Have a great weekend! I'll be volunteering on Saturday and doing homework Sunday and Monday.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PSU FastStart Mentor Program Orientation

Today's post is all about getting all my stuff from Cali to PA, as well as my first day on campus as a student. I once again apologize for my lack of pictures. If you haven't realized already, highly stressful situations prevent me from photographing. 
On Thursday, my mom, dad, and I flew into Pittsburgh to move me off to college. I packed two boxes and five suitcases along with  a backpack. Shortly after we landed, we made our rounds to pick up dorm stuff from Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. After buying everything, we stopped in for a quick dinner at Boston Market before zooming away to State College. As we were driving, thoughts were spinning in my head. I thought it was crazy that I was going to be stuck there for three whole months. After a little over two hours of driving, we checked into our hotel for the night.
The next morning, I had to attend this orientation day for a mentor program I signed up for. I was certainly not looking forward to knowing absolutely no one.  The program, called FastStart, started at  8:15 A.M. The catch is that I wanted to pick up my room key before so I could claim my bed, but they didn't open until 8 A.M. I brought one round of bags up and briefly met my roommate, who I am certain had been in the room just two minutes before me. I was dying to have the bed that wasn't right next to the door, so my heart sank when I saw her. I asked her which bed she wanted, and she said she wanted the one I did not want. I wanted to shout from the rooftops! So, after getting too caught up in my celebrations, I practically sprinted across campus not really knowing where I was going. I turned the corner and saw two buses waiting. Not knowing if I should hop on or find where to check in, I walked past them praying they wouldn't leave without me. Luckily, I was able to check in with tons of time to spare. We then proceeded to drive about forty-five minutes to a camp.
As soon as we arrived, we had a challenge waiting for us. Every single one of us had to line up in the order of our birthdays without talking in just three minutes. If someone was out of order, he or she had to do pushups. Luckily, I passed the test.
Next, we were counted off into four groups. With our new group leader, we walked into the woods to do some team building activities. The first activity entailed everyone walking around a circle of stumps. The object of the so-called game was to circle around to your original stump without falling off. If you fell off, you had to start all the away over. Believe me it's a lot harder than it seems. Some stumps were slanted, small, slippery, or there were even some that had a huge distance between them. There was no way you could walk all the way around without getting help from your neighbors. Indeed, I walked all the way around without falling off in true beast mode fashion.
We also did some balance and rope swing activities that were pretty easy for me, but not so easy for some other people. Of course, we had to all try to help the stragglers. Really, that's what all the exercises were about. Exercises like these always show how much humans are willing to help each other, even with all the bad in the world, and also how much can be accomplished by working together as a team. It was a good reminder of the good nature of the students I am going to be surrounded by for the next five years.
Moving on, a mashed potato bar where you could adorn your potatoes with chili, broccoli, chicken, cheese, bacon, and even sour cream was on the menu for lunch. For dessert, we had some ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies. All the food was so unexpectedly delicious!
Later, we did some other group activities, including a game like Telephone. Instead of whispering a word, you go down the line one by one to act something out. It was hilarious because you could see how the idea got so skewed.
After we were handed out a goody bag complete with items like a free t-shirt and water bottle, we drove back to the alumni center to mingle with our prospective faculty mentors. I went around and had enough time to talk to about eight people before I had to write down my top three. Today I'll attend a welcome dinner where I get to see who my match is.
At 5:45 when we ended, I walked downtown to dinner to meet my parents at Allen Street Grill. They had been shopping all day to get the rest of the stuff for my dorm. We then got some rest for a crazy move in day the next morning.
Despite my nerves, I am glad I went to the orientation because I was able to meet some of my fellow students. There's definitely more to come of my time so far at college. I have planned posts about my dorm room, welcome week activities, and my first few days of classes. I'm doing well so far. Fingers crossed it stays that way!
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Monday, August 25, 2014

Stylish Back to School Planners

Today is my first day of college. So, in honor of today I will be sharing some great planners. I am a big believer in the importance of organization, and I think that a planner plays a big part in staying organized. No one ever wants to be overbooked right? So, today I rounded up a few of my favorites from across the web. These lovely little books are handy for recording homework, your upcoming plans, meal planning, blog post schedules, and everything in between. Aren't they all just adorable?
ONE//TWO//THREE//FOUR//FIVE
I personally love to pencil in my upcoming schedule. Do you use a planner or just your iPhone calendar? 
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Schenanigans

This summer was the first summer in my life that I did not have any set activities planned. I didn't have summer school or sports or summer camp taking up my time. Thus, I declared summer 2014 my summer of leisure. Here's what's been happening these past ten weeks:

1. Six Flags
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One day, our graduating class of 2014 went to Six Flags as part of our senior week activities. I opted for the half day, so we only went on a few rides that I thought were all painful. I went on Batman, Riddler's Revenge, Colossus, and one another roller coaster. Our school had also reserved the picnic area for us.
2. Kyle's Graduation
My fourteen year old brother culminated from middle school on our football field the night before I graduated at the exact same place. I just remember the super long student speeches.
3. My Graduation
June 12, 2014 was the day I graduated from high school. I walked beside a foreign exchange student to my seat. At the end of our ceremony, we broke out into a dance to . The one thing that I did not like was that we had absolutely no time to take pictures after because we had to rush off to grad night.
4. Grad Night
Our grad night was a surprise, so we boarded a bus not having any idea where we were going. For some reason, they extensively padded us down before we were able to board the bus. I was praying we would go to Disneyland like the previous three years had. Well, we ended up ten minutes away at Knott's Berry Farm, which I had never really been to. We had the whole park to ourselves, and there were about eight rides open. I went on every single one, thoroughly enjoying the log ride. There was food and a dance floor along with tattoo artists inside.
5. Father's Day


We spent this Sunday at my grandfather's pool while chowing down on some ole' barbecue. I made my dad this little "card" with a note rolled up as a straw telling him that his Penn State swag was on its way. The adorable printable is found here.
6. Books

I usually do not read leisurely, but since I thought I would have so much time on my hands this summer, I decided to read one book a week. Well, that went well until I was assigned a summer reading book. Sigh.

7. Family Graduation Party
About a week after my graduation, the whole family came to celebrate with lunch at the Malibu Cafe. I actually wanted brunch, but its only served on Sundays. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the outdoor seating complete with corn hole, chandeliers, a pool table, giant jenga, chess, and more!
8. Celebrating Birthdays

We celebrated my grandmother and both of my cousins birthdays. We also celebrated my birthday early since I'll be away at school on September 10.

9. Movies
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I'm not really a movie person because I mainly only like chic flicks, but How to Your Dragon 2 was adorable! I also had plans to see 22 Jump Street, but they fell through at the last second.
10. Tea

The girls went to tea to celebrate Graham's birthday at the in Beverly Hills. It was the first tea I had been to.The thing is that I'm not really a fan of tea, but I had a non-caffeinated Hawaiian one that was tolerable. But, I put on my tutu, and ate all the little treats from the scones, to the sandwiches, to the decadent desserts. It made me want to host a tea one day. 
11. Beach
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I went to Zuma several times this summer, once as another one of our senior activities. We even played a little game of ultimate frisbee. However, I did lose my sunglasses in the ocean as well as a little sunburnt, but I think it was definitely worth it to enjoy my last few months so close to the water.
12. Shopping
Every summer must entail back to school shopping. I did have a very successful back to school shopping experience at the mall this year. In addition, I was super excited when the new Target near our house opened, so I could scout out some dorm decor. In fact, we went two days in a row the first weekend it opened.
13. Fourth of July
I love any holiday, and the Fourth of July is no exception. I enjoy all the patriotism. This year, I showed by spirit by sporting some red nail polish, white sandals, and a blue maxi dress. And, of course, we saw fireworks at the beach by my cousins house. I love it because while we have our toes in the sand, we can see all the other fireworks going off along the coast before our show even starts.
14. Baking


I always looking forward to whipping up some tasty treats. This summer I made some peanut butter butterscotch bars, chocolate chip cookies, and s'mores brownies along with other various yummies. Check out the recipe to the s'mores brownies I made here.

15. Orientation




























Orientation was possibly the most nerve wracking experience of my life. You can read about Part 1 and Part 2 in my previous blog posts.

16. Baseball Games
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This summer I went to one game at Dodger Stadium and one game at Angel Stadium as part of my father and grandfather's Father's Day gifts. I had not been to the newly renovated Dodger Stadium or Angel Stadium either. I enjoyed having sushi for dinner while watching the Dodgers win by a walk off home run.

17. Museums




























My friend Audrey and I decided to go to the Getty Villa one day. I loved the gardens. You can read about my post on it here in case you missed it.

18. Going Out to Eat





























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I ate many meals catching up and saying goodbye to my friends. We hit up Islands, Stacked, Blue Stove, Wolf Creek, the Agoura Deli, CPK, and more. Sadly, this is where all of my money has been going.
19. Organizing

I enjoy neatness and order. So, with all my free time I put myself to good work. As you can see I organized my dad's hats when I saw the messy chaos one day as I walked by them. And, this isn't even all of them. There are many stacked behind each other that you can't see, and some are located in other places. I also took on the tasks of our guest bedroom closet, my desk, and my bookshelf along with my all my high school papers.

20. Painting


My friend Jennifer and I painted canvases for our dorm room. I painted five that I plan on making into a gallery wall above bed. Stay tuned for some pictures.
21. Hiking

One day my friend Rachel and I decided to hike to Paradise Falls. It was super hot that day, but we made it! I also enjoyed the teepee on the way. Unfortunately, no one was there to take a picture of the both of us.
22. Vacation




























This year we went on a family vacation with my dad's side of the family to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. Activties included whitewater rafting, hiking, a wildlife tour, and more. Read about Days 1&2, Days 3&4, Days 5&6, Days 7,8,&9 or watch my video.

23. Spa































In Teton Village, we had a spa day where I got a great full body massage. I feel spa days are definitely necessary every now and again.

24. Said Goodbye to our Cat



Nala had a tumor in her stomach, so the family decided it would be best to put her down. Now, Simba  has the house all to himself.

25. Wisdom Teeth Removal
This was by far the worst part of my summer. I had all four wisdom teeth removed last Monday. I hated not being able to eat.

26. Appointments



























It seems like every week I had some appointment from the doctor's to the dentist to the orthodontist to the oral surgeon's in addition to hair and nail appointments. In fact, the last three days before I left, I had five appointments.

27. Driving
I was basically my brother's chaufer all summer long taking him to and from cross country, summer school, camp, and appointments.
 
28. Reality TV
































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If you know me, you know I'm pretty much watching every night. Sad, but true fact. I've been loving Bachelor in Paradise and a new Bravo series called Jersey Belle. Obviously I have also been watching the Real Housewives of Orange County, New Jersey, and New York as well as Keeping Up with the Kardashians. But, don't worry I only named a few.
29. Packing



I filled up five suitcases, a backpack, and two boxes of college stuff. My dad thought it would be a good idea to rent a sedan, but all the bags didn't fit, so instead we've been cruising around in an embarrassing mini van.
30. Blogging



And, last but not least, I took the leap and started The Dorm Diaries for you all to follow along with my life in college. I thought I'd give a little preview part way through summer though. ;)

I'd say the summer of 2014 was pretty good! Unfortunately there were a few items on my summer bucket list that I did not get to including the county fair, Disneyland, Beyonce and Jay Z's On the Run Tour and Justin Timberlake's concert. Oh well, there's always next summer.

Today is my last day of summer because my first day of college is on Monday. Eek! To say that I'm sad that summer is almost over is an understatement. However, I did really enjoy reminiscing over my summer while putting together this post. What have you been up to this summer?
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jackson Hole & Yellowstone {Video}

I leave tomorrow to move in. I'm so exhausted from packing right now, so today I am just going to share a little video I put together from our trip. It's not perfect, being I taped the footage on my iPhone, but you get the idea.


Do you guys enjoy the video? I'd love to hear your comments.
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Jackson Hole & Yellowstone {Days 7, 8, and 9}

And, we're on to the last three days of our trip. If you missed Days 1&2, Days 3&4, or Days 5&6 click on the links. But, for we begin, just a quick disclaimer: I apologize ahead of time for this rather lengthy post. Feel free to just skip ahead and look through the pictures to do the story telling if your strapped for time.
Friday was the seventh day of our trip. On this day, we mainly just drove around and looked at lots of the attractions if you will. Our first stop was the Information Station, where the Rangers helped us map out where we should go around the park. Our first attraction of the day was Gibbon Falls, a waterfall just as its name suggests.
Next, we stopped at the Artist's Paintpots. They were so talked up that I was excited to see them. We had chosen to go to the ones that had four different colors. Well, after we had walked the loop, the four colors were unclear. I was expecting like a red, a yellow, a green, and a blue one. It seems that there was a red, light blue, dark blue, and white one? Maybe a brown one? It is definitely unclear. I let you take a look at my pictures so you can judge for yourself.


After my disappointment, we went to a stop with some more geysers. Yippee!  We get to see more steam and water come out of a whole in the ground like a natural fountain. Woohoo! Let the fun begin, or shall I say end after the one hundredth one. Thank goodness the blue and green colors in the water at this stop could distract me from my being so done with geysers in the first place. As you can tell, I felt no need to take pictures of more geysers, so I opted to focus on the water.



At this point in our day, we were starving. We wound up at a "Soda Fountain" super late, like I'm talking we didn't finish eating until 3 o' clock. It was a cool place though. It had tables that kind of snake around so the waiter would come down the center of two rows to take our order. I decided to go for the black bean burger. I had never had one before, but it seems like a great healthier and vegetarian option.

Across the way was another visitor's center. This one was no exception. My dad forced us all to go in and watch another lame video. Keep in mind that this was the third one in seven days.
After we survived our last visitor's center video of the trip, we moseyed our way over to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, which also had falls at the bottom along the river at one point. We stopped at multiple points to get different views. At one lookout, there was a huge deer creature right beside the sidewalk. You would be amazed at how close people were getting and how undisturbed the animal seemed. There were tons of people at these stops, which reminds me... I almost fell to my death at one of the lookouts. I was taking a picture of Sarah in front of the sign, but I couldn't get everything in my shot, so I backed up and practically fell down the side of the canyon. Luckily, my foot was fat enough to not fit between these two rocks, so I was saved. I kind of just freakishly laughed off my near death experience and breathed very deeply in my mind thinking well that would have been a dramatic way to say goodbye.




So, since I survived, we drove all the way to the other side of the bottom loop to the Grand Prismatic Spring per my request. Becca and I had been dying to see it after drooling over all the pictures we had seen of it in the various visitor centers. It was amazing! The materials of the natural ground formed a rainbow! As magical as it was, there was lots and lots of steam coming from it so it wasn't as clear as the pictures led us to believe. However, we heard that you can hike up the nearby mountain to see a better view from overhead.



After a long day of climbing in and out of Donavon, we drove back to Yellowstone for some pizza. Of course I got pineapple in mine. We also made a quick store run before calling it a night.
The next morning was the beginning of our eighth and final day in Yellowstone. We "slept in" a little and hit loads of traffic just trying to get into the west entrance. It was Saturday after all. Due to the long wait to get in, our first destination was a picnic lunch. I made some Huckleberry Brownies from the mix I got at a gift shop for the lunch. The berries were a pretty strong addition to the taste of the brownies. I ended up making them in pie tins because our rental did not have the right size pan, and when my mom went to cut them up they sort of just crumbled. Needless to say we passed around crumbles in a bag.
As soon as we were done pouring brownie crumbs into our mouths, we took a walk down to the Boiling River. At a certain point along the way, the Boiling River meets an ice cold river. Their waters mix and form natural hot tubs. I mean as natural as people moving rocks to form more of a tub. I loved it because I am already kind of obsessed with hot tubs to begin with, but hot tubs formed by nature, truly amazing! It was kind of hassle in some ways because you would get extremely hot streaks and extremely cold streaks at times, but I was loving every minute of it.

Shortly after drying off and changing in our trusty Donavon, we headed to Mammoth Falls located just up the hill. We passed some wildlife sunbathing on the grass along the way. Us fellow LAers thought Mammoth Falls looked like the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. They were spectacular. And, of course we saw an ice cream sign, so we had to stop in. Of course, I chose a huckleberry ice cream cone.


As we finished up the last of our cones, we went and looked at another waterfall. In true Dale fashion, my dad wanted to hike to see another view of the falls, but no one else did. Thus, we decided to wait in the car as he strung my brother along for "250 steps" there and "250 steps" back.

Once my dad's hiking desire was fulfilled, we took a five mile or so scenic drive recommended by the ranger at the information station. It was beautiful. It was along an unpaved travel that seemed so secluded with no one around. We got lucky and spotted lots of wildlife here and there. The drive was so picturesque that it seemed it was out of a fairytale.




























After exiting our little nature heaven, we wound up at the petrified tree. Basically, it was a tree stump with a fence around it.
Finally, we chose to spend our last time in Yellowstone driving along a road said to be filled with animals left and right. And, it did not disappoint. There were tons and I mean tons of bison. At some points, they even held up traffic as they decided to calmly walk across the road as if the cars weren't even there. I heard the road was bear central, so I was on the look out. Sadly, we did not see any after hearing it was pretty much a guarantee. We also heard there was a wolves den along the road, but we didn't see any either. Luckily, we had our bison so the rather long up and back drive was worth it.



























At ten o' clock or so we walked into a cafeteria for dinner. I chose the barbecue chicken and mashed potatoes complete with huckleberry sauce. And, my my, it was delicious. So, that my friends ended our time in Yellowstone.
The next morning we loaded Donavon up with our eleven pieces of luggage, nine backpacks, and one tote bag. And, we went on our way to Salt Lake City. It was only about four hours of driving. For some reason I was expecting it to be longer. We stopped for lunch a little more than halfway through our drive at a place more or less like a truck stop. It was such a lovely meal let me tell ya. We sat across from some parked cars beside a freeway and ate the last of our food. It was just great.
We realized we had some time to spare, so we decided to head into the city. We ended up at the main Mormon temple. It was stunning. It was so pristine with its white exterior and tall towers. The square outside of it was adorned beautifully with a variety of colorful flowers, bronze statues, and fountains. It would have been so neat to go inside of it, but it was closed because it was a Sunday. And, let me tell ya, it felt like the whole town was sleeping. I had never seen anything like it.


Shortly after gazing at the temple, we made our way over to the airport. It was tough letting Donavon go, but we had to just rip off the band aid sooner or later. He was so good to us that Donavon. We will be truly missed. Sadly, we also to say our goodbyes to Graham because she was booked on a later flight. But, we went on and flew the short flight home feeling like two of us were missing.
So, there you have it. That was the end of our trip. I hope you have enjoyed joining in on the fun. On Wednesday I will be reflecting and recommending our activities in Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, as well as debuting a video of our trip. You won't want to miss it!
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