My Personal “Most Fun Cities” List

Recently timeout.com made a list of the most fun cities in the world. This list included 18 cities, and I’ll admit, I’ve only been to about a quarter of those places.

Still, I don’t really agree with some of their choices, and while I sadly have to limit my list to North America and Europe, I can’t pretend that I’ve yet been able to satisfy my dreams of visiting Great Britain, Norway and Sweden, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Japan, Australia, and Thailand…at the VERY least. That said? I know I’ve been lucky to travel as much as I have. Privileged, even. So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the chances I’ve had to explore this world and I hope that I’ll have more of them 🙂

But I still have my own opinions about the most fun cities out there, and I also don’t think 18 is a high enough number…even if I were to include every city in the Time Out article. Again, this is coming from someone who has been to many Caribbean islands, almost 3/4 of the states in the U.S., and a dozen European countries. I’m sure there are likely Asian, Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, African, and/or Australian locations that should be added…but I stand by my personal North American/European selections for now.

While I do believe that some of these cities are more fun than others, I couldn’t possibly put them in any order that I’d be 100% satisfied with, so instead I’m just going to list them alphabetically 🙂

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
My sister and I spent several days in Amsterdam in 2007. It was a long time ago, but on my first day there I knew that this was one of those cities I would be obsessed with returning to at some point in my life. We experienced art, we experienced history, we experienced food, and we experienced partying…partying in ways that can’t be described, ways that you can only experience in Amsterdam.

Most Fun Cities Amsterdam

Berlin, Germany
Berlin was one of those places that I considered a stop on the way to somewhere better, and to be honest, even after spending several days there I was ready to move on. (It didn’t help that a lot of our time was spent doing things like walking up and down the Berlin Wall, visiting a nearby concentration camp, and other such unhappy historical things.) Anyway, what’s important is that after I moved on, I couldn’t get Berlin out of my head. I still can’t. It is, like Amsterdam, one of those places I’m dying to visit again.

Most Fun Cities Berlin

Boston, Massachusetts, USA
I’m from New England, so I had to include a New England city, of course! While I’ve had amazing times in Providence, Rhode Island and in many little New England towns scattered throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine…Boston is always the place that stands out. The breweries, Boston Common, the Freedom Trail, Cambridge but also its *nightlife*, and of course Fenway (especially if you can see a Red Sox game). And honestly, combine the breweries and a Red Sox game and some of that nightlife and you can’t help but have a great time.

Most Fun Cities Boston

Budapest, Hungary
There’s a lot to love about Budapest. The crazy public transportation, the confusing money, the castle on its hilltop (and the cellar wine tastings that can be found up there), the thermal baths, the beauty combined with a lively vibe that you almost wouldn’t expect…add all of that together and I can’t imagine not having a good time in this gorgeous city.

Most Fun Cities Budapest

Charleston, South Carolina, USA
There’s literally nothing better than a random weekend in historic downtown Charleston. I’m not big on shopping, but doing it here is a total blast, mostly due to the open market – but there are also some great art galleries/stores spread throughout the historic district. There are carriage tours, walking tours, even tours by car that will tell you everything you want to and more about the city…and at the end of the day, there’s “The Original” Pub & Brewery Tours of Charleston, which offers the best historical pub tours and brewery bus tours in the city, as well as other events throughout the year. I’ve been on three of their tours and I can’t speak highly enough of them! (P.S. Charleston has great beer and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!)

Most Fun Cities Charleston

Chicago, Illinois, USA
After several trips to Chicago the best thing I can say is that I still don’t feel like I’ve experienced enough. The museums, the lakefront, and the Miracle Mile are all great; but that’s nothing compared to a Wrigleyville party, a pizza pot pie and some wine or beer paid for in cash at Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder, a night at Second City, or a baseball game. Chicago is easy to navigate and there is something for everyone and I know I’ll return again and again.

Most Fun Cities Chicago

Denver, Colorado, USA
Denver is another place that surprised me when it came to mind as I made this list. But then I realized that it’s close to a major airport, close to amazing skiing, and has its own fun draws as well. If you’re up for a toke, for instance, pot is legal…but the last time I was there the most fun thing was to map out a brewery tour that left from my hotel and circled back around to it. The best thing? This tour allowed me to walk no more than a half mile at a time (and even that longer distance only happened twice between stops), visit (in the end) half a dozen Denver breweries, and just generally lead me on a fun tour of the city. There is so much to do in and around Denver that I can’t imagine anyone not loving this place.

Most Fun Cities Denver

Dublin, Ireland
I’ll admit, I visited Dublin just once…and it was over 16 years ago. But the fact that it hasn’t faded from my memory even after all this time is what says a lot. I was awkward and shy in high school, and I’d only just started coming out of my shell when I ended up in a college that shoved me right back into that shell…only thankfully, around that time I had the opportunity to go to Ireland for spring break as part of a study program (including a scholarship that paid for most of the trip), and I fell in love with Dublin the moment I stepped off the bus from the airport. It was March, it was dreary, and it was beautiful. The Guinness brewery was a ton of fun, the Temple Bar area was great, and everywhere I went, people wanted to talk to me. I don’t mean for that to sound stuck up; I was used to being in the background, feeling awkward at the least and anxious at the worst. But suddenly, in Dublin, I felt *alive*. I felt like I was part of things. And that memory has never left me.

Most Fun Cities Dublin

Greenville, South Carolina & Asheville, North Carolina, USA
I think I would be remiss if I didn’t include Greenville, because despite growing up in Connecticut and living in Massachusetts, Virginia, and the Orlando area off and on, Greenville is the one place I always go back to. Sadly, while I can’t admit that it deserves an entry all its own, by combining it with Asheville (which also doesn’t deserve an entry all its own), everybody wins. Greenville has some great restaurants, bars, and breweries – and if you’re a Red Sox fan, seeing their farm team (The Greenville Drive) at Fluor Field is a must. Combine that with even more breweries in Asheville, the Biltmore House (which has a winery and a tour that includes samples), and the generally picturesque surroundings, and you can have an amazing long weekend and still not experience everything that this area has to offer.

Most Fun Citites Asheville

Most Fun Cities Greenville

Key West, Florida, USA
You know what the most surprising thing about Key West is? Technically, you’re *not* supposed to have open containers on the streets! But you know, just don’t be stupid and you won’t have to worry about that 😉 That said, there are tons of other awesome things to experience here…the Southernmost Point, the Hemingway House, Blue Heaven for brunch (great Bloody Marys!), Cuban Coffee Queen if you need a pick-me-up, Sloppy Joe’s or the Green Parrot for late-night bars, and Fort Jackson if you want a good beach. Most of the historic district is walkable, there’s plenty of other stuff to do, but let’s not lie – Key West is mostly about the party.

Most Fun Cities Key West

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Does. This. Even. Need. An. Explanation?
I could say gambling, clubs, great restaurants, no open container laws, champagne brunches, shows, and more, but…
The answer is no. You really only need pictures. (And I’m only going to include one picture each from my last three Vegas trips – just FYI, I’ve been twelve times!)

Most Fun Cities Las Vegas

Most Fun Cities Las Vegas

Most Fun Cities Las Vegas

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
I’ve been lucky to have not one but two amazing trips to NOLA. The first time was during Mardi Gras season – not over the holiday itself, but as it happened we were there when the Saints won their first ever (and so far only) Superbowl…and the second time was for Halloween, which was a complete blast, if not quite as epic as my trip there in February 2010. Regardless, there’s so much more than Bourbon Street (although that’s quite a party) and the French Quarter…there’s Frenchmen Street if you want some great music, the Garden District if you want to see gorgeous houses and other historic sites, Tipitina’s for even more great music…and one more quick French Quarter shout out, Napoleon’s for the food and the Pimm’s Cups. The people are friendly, there’s history and nightlife…what more could you want?

Most Fun Cities New Orleans

Orlando, Florida, USA
Walt Disney World. Universal Studios Orlando. Church Street. Lake Eola Park. Some of these things surely sound familiar to you while some of them may not, but all of them are amazing. Is Orlando historical? No. Is it beautiful? Not really. But if you want to have some fun, you can drink around the world in EPCOT at Disney, try brews in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at Universal, hang out in the Church Street Station area, or even just take a walk around Lake Eola Park and check out some of the bars and restaurants in that vicinity. But hey, let’s not lie, you’re more likely to come here for the theme parks qwe454or a convention 😉

Most Fun Cities Orlando

Most Fun Cities Orlando

San Francisco, California, USA
I think the best part about San Fran is that you can visit all of the touristy places and also fit in a few less likely stops in just a few days…and in those few days, there are plenty of fun options that don’t involve the touristy stuff. But really, how can you convince yourself not to visit Haight-Ashbury? Or if you’re a geek, find George Lucas’s house with the faux robot out front? And don’t even get me started on hanging out in Alamo Square to get a picture of the Full House house in the background. If you’re a baseball fan and can afford the drinks, the Giants stadium is gorgeous (with a great view) and they keep the alcohol flowing. Then there’s the usual stuff like Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. I honestly can’t even imagine visiting this city during Pride; it would probably be the most amazing experience of my life. Everything about San Fran is fun and welcoming and there always seems to be some sort of party going on.

Most Fun Cities San Francisco

Vienna, Austria
There’s these sausages you can buy. They hollow out a small loaf of French bread, pour some sort of life-changing mustard sauce in it, and then insert a cheese-infused sausage. And it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. It’s the perfect late-night snack, or hey, you can have it for lunch (with a cold beer) in the middle of the day…all while exploring the gorgeous sites of Vienna. The Spanish Riding School, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the Schonnbrunn Palace, just to name a few. There’s also the infamous Vienna Schnapps Museum, and, if you’re looking for nightlife, the area they call “The Bermuda Triangle“. I sincerely believe that there’s something for everyone in Vienna, and when I explain it to people I call it “the other Paris” – where people are more friendly, accommodations are cheaper, and you can actually experience the local festivals without fighting to be there in every way possible.

Most Fun Cities Vienna

Maybe this is too little too late, and above all please excuse me for using so many pictures of myself. One never knows how one’s friends will take to being featured in a blog entry, after all 😉

I’d love to hear some input on the best Middle Eastern, African, Asian, and Australian cities, so please feel free to leave a comment. There are a lot of places on my “to visit” list, but it can’t hurt to make that list longer and hope for opportunities! For instance, I didn’t list any cities in Alaska or Hawaii, which are both must-sees in my opinion, but sadly don’t include a “most fun city” (at least in my opinion). Like I said, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

We All Get Sick Sometimes

I was really disappointed when I had to cancel my trip to the Miami Book Fair this past weekend…sadly, I’d been sick for nearly two weeks, a sinus infection turned bronchitis at the very least, possibly even walking pneumonia.

I really am far too human for my own good 😉

The sad thing is, my illness affected more than just the Miami Book Fair. While I’m still participating in NaNoWriMo, I don’t really expect to win – I was ahead at the beginning of the month, but the past week has seriously affected the amount of time I’ve had to write, so at this point it’s a very big “we’ll see” with the probable outcome being no, I won’t make it to 50,000 words.

Really though, I’m okay with that. I’m going to keep writing, but if I don’t make it this year, hey, it’s nothing that’s never happened before 😉 Considering I have a nearly-finished manuscript that I was working on before November hit – and another one that’s in the final stages of editing – I know I haven’t been slacking, and for me that’s the important thing.

I’ll be honest, a big part of why it took me so long to feel better is the fact that I would rest for a few days, and then “play hard”, as it were. I came back from MegaCon Tampa Bay, started feeling awful that Wednesday, and then that Sunday I spent the day at EPCOT with friends.

Last weekend was Pride, which I absolutely couldn’t miss considering it was originally scheduled for when I was in Vegas and was REscheduled for November 12th because of the hurricane.

A Geek Saga Orlando Pride Come Out With Pride Pride Orlando

A Geek Saga Orlando Pride Come Out With Pride Pride Orlando

And then I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet up with Sam, my best friend from high school, last week. I don’t even want to admit how long it had been since we had seen each other, but I had an amazing day hanging out with her, her husband, and their two beautiful children! I even got to say hi to her parents, which was awesome!

A Geek Saga High School Best Friend

The very next day, tickets went on sale for Beach City Con! I also had tickets to an early screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that night, so it was just “one of those days” all around…

A Geek Saga House Hufflepuff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

If I thought things would slow down after that, I was wrong. I’ve had a lot of writing to do, a lot of shows to catch up on, and I’m *still* not over this cough from whatever illness I contracted. On top of that, I’m *months* behind on my “This Week on The Geekiary” posts…so for now, hey, if you’re on Reddit, please subscribe to our sub! I share what I consider my best articles there, anyway.

At least I’m finally, let’s sat…95% better. Perhaps the amazing Beach City Con ticket sales have helped? Or the fact that we’ve had a successful Ice & Fire Con ticket push, too? Between that and my writing, it’s hard not to feel great right now…and as always, if you have questions about either of my conventions, I’m here to answer them!

A Wonderful Day of Food & Wine at EPCOT

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I am so lucky to have the friends that I do. Last weekend I got to visit EPCOT, which was cool in and of itself because it’s Food & Wine Festival time right now…but even more exciting was the fact that I got to see my friend Melissa run one of the official Food & Wine cooking demos!

We started the day at Disney Springs – it was only a brief stop, but I got to visit the Star Wars and Marvel stores. The former had so many awesome things for sale that I can’t wait to go back if I ever have money to spend (ha) – the latter seemed a bit thrown-together, but man, I do want that Avengers Dooney & Bourke purse that they had on display! (Oh, and this set of BB-8 Mickey Ears is an eventual necessity. Yes, the shirt and purse are already mine.)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

From there we went to EPCOT, and wow was it crowded. I blame this on it being the second to last weekend of Food & Wine and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend. Thankfully we still got to ride the new Soarin’ (I didn’t even know it was changed to Soarin’ over the world – or if I did, I’d forgotten about it), *and* wander back and forth through the World Showcase, sampling food and drink. (A lot of drink.)

But of course the highlight of the day was seeing Melissa’s presentation! She made vegetarian ‘chicken’ pot pie with cheddar drop biscuits. Sadly they ran out of the pot pie portion of the meal before they got around to our table, but we did get a whole ton of biscuits and extra wine, both of which were delicious 😉

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Sorry not sorry for the picture dump – I’m just really proud of Melissa! She was on the College Program when I was a Restaurant Guest Service Manager for Sunset Ranch Market at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and she was one of the best CP students we had. She returned to school, got her degree, held leadership positions at restaurants outside of Disney and Orlando, and then returned to WDW and rocketed up to where she is now. She’s a hard worker who deserves everything that comes her way. (Oh, and her husband Adrian, who also worked for me at SRM, is pretty great, too!)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

After the demonstration, we wandered a bit more, got more drinks, and even eventually went on Test Track. Food-wise, I tried the Greek cake (which was not as good as the fried goat cheese with honey and pistachios, sadly) as well as the Escargots Croissant (again not as good as the single-bite escargot pastries they used to have). Thankfully the pierogies from the Poland installment were still the same!

Oh, and I’d forgotten that they let you “build” your own car for Test Track now, and that you compete against the others in your group. Brian and I with our car “CHEVROLET MECHANICORE TANK OF DOOM” went up against Melissa and Adrian’s “Lisa Frank DOMINANT” and Andrew and Merrilynn’s “Clifford the Big Red Car”. Every single one of our vehicles looked ridiculous (though I think the others looked way crazier than MECHANICORE, but no matter how balanced they tried to make their cars, it turns out that power is what really wins in the end, and we dosed MECHANICORE with a lot of that. (Oh, how sadly appropriate that is right now…power is what really wins in the end. Ugh.)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Test Track

Anyway, I hadn’t been to Disney since this past January and it was a welcome Sunday getaway from the “real world”…that being a shitty Walking Dead episode and a shockingly horrid presidential election.

But hey, “Forward always. Always forward.” Until the next adventure, I remain, your pansexual SJW female entrepreneur buddy,

Tara Lynne

Not a Con 4.0: VEGAS WARS

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Soon after the very first Ice & Fire Con in April 2013, a group of friends and I planned a trip back to the convention’s first location, Ravenwood Castle. It took place in October of that year – about halfway between Ice & Fire Con 2013 and 2014 – and even though the “attendees” (and now the location) have changed, Not a Con continues to be an annual tradition that I wouldn’t miss for the world.

(Although I guess technically it’s being replaced by Beach City Con next year, but I swear we’ll have a winter Not a Con to make up for that!)

We held three Not a Cons at Ravenwood; in 2013 we went with a pirate theme (for the most part, anyway); 2014 was A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones; 2015 was Harry Potter. While we didn’t go all-out with the theme this year like we did the first three times, that was mostly due to the fact that Not a Con 2016 took place in Las Vegas. Still, we threw a bit of Star Wars into the mix and therefore dubbed Not A Con 4.0 “Vegas Wars”.

Not a Con Vegas Wars

So what do you get when you mix four nights in Vegas, a Mirage hospitality suite, ten amazing people, and a whole lot of crap…s?

Well, one of the best Vegas trips I’ve ever had, that’s for sure.

While I used to visit Vegas more often, the past few years I’ve limited my visits and instead made sure that when I do go, I go all out. This time around, I hadn’t been out to this crazy city for almost two years (the last time being over New Year’s 2014-2015), and thanks to the fact that my friends were willing to go along with so many of my crazy schemes, we stayed in an amazing suite *that had a pool table*, I got to spend an evening riding around in a limo, we all took a day to laze and drink at a pool party, see the Chainsmokers perform, and then we wrapped up the trip by experiencing an absolutely perfect VIP table at HYDE Bellagio (with a view of the fountains and all).

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Oh, and yes, we played (or watched other members of our group play) a lot of craps.

So without further ado, I bring you the basics of this Vegas trip, because to tell any more would be to forsake that infamous rule, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”…

NOT A CON 4.0: VEGAS WARS

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE THEME
Star Wars…sort of

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE CAST
“Auntie Tara” a.k.a. the one who got stuck with a $14 charge when someone touched the mini bar in our suite
“Brian E” a.k.a. Chocolate King
“Katherine” a.k.a. The Newb
“RJ” a.k.a. The Responsible One
“Jasmine’s Brian” a.k.a. The Quiet One
“Jasmine Venusaur” a.k.a. The Slot Queen
“K2D2” a.k.a. The Napper
“Frank” a.k.a. Poop Trousers
“ASHURISAN” a.k.a. The Best Selling Author of “If I Did It”
“Ser Dunkin Keith” a.k.a. The White Castle Culprit
* With special guest appearances by: *
PHYLLIS JAGER
&
CHUCK MALCOLM

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE LOCATIONS
Basically everywhere on the Las Vegas Strip but mostly…
– The Linq
– Harrah’s
– Any “Shoot to Win” Craps Machine
– The Mirage (specifically suite A22)
– Sephora at The Shops at Caesar’s
– Mon Ami Gabi at The Paris
– That shady casino across from The Mirage
– The Las Vegas sign
– Fremont Street
– Some Brazilian Steakhouse
– A horrible California Pizza Kitchen
– Chuck Malcolm’s ledge at Hakkasan
– The Rockhouse at The Venetian…or the Palazzo…whatever, I can’t remember
– The Drunk Canadian Tour Guide’s Luxor Experience
– HYDE Bellagio
– Cravings Buffet at The Mirage

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE EVENTS
Drinking
Gambling
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
A couple decent meals
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
Awful late-night snack decisions
The Bathtub Incident
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
Oh and dancing, there was dancing too
(And a lot of walking. Like almost too much walking, even for me.)

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

All I have to say is that this was definitely one of my best Vegas trips ever – certainly in the top three – and that I can’t wait to plan another Vegas trip, OR another Not a Con…though next time I think we’ll continue our trend of visiting different places. Let’s just say that I’m still pushing for Not a Con 5.0 a.k.a. SKI KHAAAANNN 2.0 in Colorado in early 2018 😉

Find Me at MegaCon Tampa Bay This Weekend!

I was lucky enough to be a guest at MegaCon Orlando earlier this year, and I’m super excited to have the opportunity to attend MegaCon Tampa Bay this coming weekend as a guest, as well! I’m still tossing around cosplay ideas, but I’m pretty sure I’ve finalized my daytime schedule with Pearl from Steven Universe, Cersei Lannister in mourning from Game of Thrones, and Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park. I may end up switching which days I wear what, but keep an eye out for me nonetheless!

Tara Lynne MegaCon Tampa Bay Cosplay

I’ll also be on a panel Saturday at 2 PM – “Cosplay for Beginners” in Room 18. But I have to be honest, I’m most excited about the official MegaCon afterparty on Saturday night. It’s being held at Orpheum in Tampa’s Ybor district, and yes, there will be a cosplay contest! Tickets are only $15 in advance so I highly suggest purchasing yours soon if you plan to attend. I know I’ll be there, along with some of the other cosplay guests…and who knows what celebrities might show up 😉

MegaCon Tampa Bay

(Of course, now I’m trying to decide what cosplay I want to wear for the afterparty…if I can dig up Playboy Bunny Effie Trinket, that’s a possibility…though I also have Katya from Archer laying around, or I can always go more comfy with Starbuck from BSG or Wendy from Gravity Falls…I’m not sure if I have too many options or not enough of them!)

Meanwhile, if you’re wandering the convention floor and want to stop by and say hello, you can find me at booth #535, which is on the aisle where the Community Zone abuts Artist Alley. I’ll be selling copies of my novel and promoting some of the conventions on my 2017 schedule – including Ice & Fire Con and Beach City Con, of course.

MegaCon Tampa Bay Tara Lynne

 

Are you attending MegaCon Tampa Bay? What about the afterparty? (Which is bound to be the best Halloween party in Tampa, let’s be honest.) If so, I hope to see you there!

Spicy, No Onions, & Italian? Challenge Accepted!

I owed someone a favor and wanted to cook that person dinner. The only requirements were that it would be spicy and/or Italian, and not include onions.

Needless to say, I was stumped. I knew that I also had to limit cheese, so I went to Google…and found Real Simple’s recipe for Cauliflower Penne Puttanesca.

Granted, I changed a few things about the recipe, but here’s what I ended up with 🙂

Recipe Cauliflower Penne Puttanesca

CAULIFLOWER PENNE PUTTANESCA

  • 3/4 lbs Penne pasta, cooked by package directions
  • 3-ish tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. cauliflower, cored and chopped into small florets
  • Salt & Pepper, to season
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • One 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (DO NOT DRAIN!)
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata (calamata) olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

– While pasta is cooking, head up olive oil over medium high heat. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook 5-6 minutes (tossing occasionally until slightly browned).

– Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.

– Add the tomatoes and their juices, the olives, and the capers. Cook approximately 10 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes and stirring every couple of minutes.

– Toss the pasta with the sauce and then gently mix in the parsley. Serve with grated Parmesan if desired.

Throwback Thursday: Emotional Wellness with Alpha Sigma Tau

So back in college I was in a sorority – Alpha Sigma Tau (trust me, if you’re surprised to hear this, you’re not the only one who has been). Was it the most amazing experience of my life? Well, to be honest, no – at least not in terms of the people. But I really enjoyed being Recruitment Chair and Social Chair and the work those positions involved, and from time to time it has provided me with some networking opportunities post-college.

All that said, I was contacted last year about the possibility of being featured in the Fall 2015 edition of The Anchor, our sorority magazine. This issue focused on the “six dimensions of wellness“, and I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent emotional wellness. In this respect, emotional wellness is defined as having “a positive attitude, high self-esteem, a strong sense of self, and the ability to recognize and share a wide range of feelings with others in a constructive way”.

The thing is, I don’t always fit that description, but apparently a fellow alum thought highly enough of me to suggest me for this feature, and after speaking with my interviewer and reading her article, I’m really happy that I was able to participate. So for today’s Throwback Thursday, here is the full article that was published last year 🙂

Throwback Thursday Alpha Sigma Tau

Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

I think it’s about time that I announce that I’m giving in and voting for Hillary, despite the fact that I’m not even voting in a swing state, but one that is solid red.

Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton

I don’t want to vote for her – I was a solid Bernie Sanders supporter and hated how this year’s primaries turned out, and even when Bernie told us we should vote for Hillary, I still couldn’t bring myself to make that decision. I don’t like her. I don’t like many of her policies. She is on the worst end of the career politician spectrum. I do not doubt that she will screw up quite a bit when she’s in office.

But I would rather have four years of Hillary than four years of Donald Trump. The man is a menace. We’d be lucky if he didn’t cause World War III. At best we would have to face four years of him demeaning literally anyone who isn’t a white male.

And hey, remember the election in 2000? If you are too young, let me [very briefly] explain what happened: There were so many issues with certain states ::cough cough FLORIDA:: that Bush only squeaked by in winning the election BY ELECTORAL VOTE.

I honestly can’t vote third party right now because if I do and that means that Donald Trump SOMEHOW, some way, eeks out a popular vote or electoral college vote “win”, then I would be one of the people who caused that, and I would seriously dislike myself for having done so.

Hillary is horrible, but she’s not the worst. And there are plenty of exaggerations and lies being spread about her, and people trying to make her sound worse than she actually is, while we have physical evidence of Donald Trump ACTUALLY BEING THE WORST.

Please, I’d just rather you not vote at all (or, if you just REALLY have to, vote for a third party candidate) than vote for Trump. Look into your heart and ask what you stand for, because if it’s anything like what Donald Trump is, then honestly I’m not sure if I care to have you in my life.

Thirsty Thursday: Tara’s Pumpkin Pie Martini

I’ve actually been cooking a lot lately. It’s something I did several times a week for many many years, but the past couple of years I slacked off a lot. There are a lot of reasons behind that (not the least of which was depression), and I’m still working at really getting back into the cooking groove.

Of course cooking only rarely meshes with the “geeky” side of my life, but it is something I love doing. I’m probably better at cooking than I am at mixology, but I still have fun making new drinks once in a while…so I figured I might as well make a Thirsty Thursday post!

I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to keep up with Thirsty Thursday every week, but I’m going to do my best to post one of these…let’s say at least every month?

As it’s October, I figured it was the perfect time to bring up one of my very own creations…my personal version of a Pumpkin Pie Martini 🙂

Tara's Pumpkin Pie Martini

I stumbled upon Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur many years ago, and I even though I’m not big on pumpkin SPICE, I thought that I could probably make something generally-pumpkin-PIE flavored work. Of course I brought it home and realized that most recipes called for Baileys and other liquors/liqueurs that I simply didn’t have. So I made up my own recipe and thankfully it was delicious!

Tara’s Pumpkin Pie Martini

  • 1 (slightly overflowing) shot Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur
  • Approx. 2/3 shot Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka
  • 1 shot regular Vodka
  • 1 shot half and half

– Put some ice in a shaker, add all ingredients, shake well and pour in a Martini glass. Drink immediately and then make another one and drink that too. Repeat. (haha)

Recipe: Chicken Broccoli Ring

This recipe may not be super healthy, and yeah, it’s a bit of a pain to put together. You definitely won’t see some fancy Buzzfeed-style videos of me making something like this (or really anything) with seemingly no effort at all.

But this meal is delicious, and can be easily halved if you want to make a smaller portion. It can also be sliced into neat little triangle appetizers…but if you can make it and eat less than three sections I applaud you 😉

Chicken Broccoli Ring recipe

CHICKEN BROCCOLI RING

  • Two 8-oz packages of Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 2 cups boiled chicken breasts, pulled/chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh broccoli florets
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Miracle Whip
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves…a little more is never too much!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees
– Place chicken breasts in large pot with room temperature water; set burner at high and let sit/boil for 20 minutes before pulling/chopping
– Combine chicken, chopped broccoli, cheese, diced red bell pepper, mayo/Miracle Whip, dill weed, garlic, and salt in a large bowl; mix well.
– Separate the crescent rolls into triangles and arrange them, slightly overlapping, in a circle on a baking stone, with the wide ends approximately 2 inches from the edges of the stone. The points will extend off the edges!
– Scoop the filling evenly over the dough in a continuous circle.
– Bring the points of the triangle up over the filling and tuck under the dough at the center to form a ring.
– Bake 25-30 minutes (until deep golden brown).