Archive | August, 2013


22 Aug


You only Notre Dame once. That’s the message I had for the then-incoming freshman Class of 2016 exactly a year ago. It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year since my senior year at Notre Dame began — a year I’ll never forget (or ever remember large portions of). In honor of this glorious anniversary, I’ve got my column from last year’sfreshman edition of The Observer. Enjoy.


So Class of 2016, you’ve arrived to the tropical resort paradise known as South Bend, Indiana. You’ve moved into your dorm, met your roommates and are about to embark on the greatest four-year journey of your life. Undoubtedly, friends, family and chance acquaintances have thrown you way too much advice on how to approach your college experience — ask questions, don’t be shy, talk to your professors, be outgoing — and yes, most of this is true. But there is no uniform recipe for a triumphant freshman year. Every one of you is different (despite it seeming like the admissions office recruited an army of North Face models) and it would be remiss to think there is some formula to “winning” freshman year. I tried to do all the things I was told to do — yet still, there were periods during my first year at Notre Dame that were the most emotionally draining times of my life.

While there might not be a universal game plan that will indisputably yield straight A’s, a gaggle of friends and the avoidance of the Freshman 15, approaching college with a certain mentality is key.

That’s where YOLO comes in. Much has been made of this ubiquitous phrase. While many toss it around with such regularity you would think their life depended on it (myself included) others scorn its usage (like my friends, who have placed me on astrict cap of five YOLO’s for every time we hang out.)

For the uninitiated, YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once” and it perfectly epitomizes what freshman year is all about. YOLO’s immediate meaning urges one to live life to the fullest, otherwise one might suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out.)

For instance, go ahead and go out on a weeknight. Hang out with your friends instead of studying for that test you know you’ll do fine on anyways. Don’t hold back, eat that cupcake in the dining hall (actually, hold off — the Freshman 15 is a real thing.) You do only live once, so do all those crazy things you want to do!

But lost in the kitsch and obnoxiousness of YOLO’s primary meaning is its true value to all of you members of the Class of 2016. Sure, you can say “YOLO” before you have that non-alcoholic drink you know is going to put you over the edge, or before you engage in a DFMO at your first dorm dance (I’ll let you figure that last acronym out for yourself.) But Notre Dame offers some of the most incredible opportunities to undergraduates of any university in the world. The thing is, you do only live once. On that note, You Only Notre Dame Once — YONDO, if you will — and it would be a terrible waste to cruise through four years of college without taking the University up on some of its offers.

So in this Fighting Irish version of YOLO — YONDO — go out there, and do everything knowing you’ve only got one shot at college. Go on the Appalachia Seminar. Go to the Career Fair. Play a club sport. Write for the student newspaper (If you can string a couple of nouns and verbs together cohesively, we’d love to have you.) Take interesting classes — I bet you didn’t know we have probably the best Medieval Studies program in the United States. Be passionate about something, anything. Basically, get off your bum and be active in the Notre Dame community.

YOLO, YONDO — it doesn’t matter how you say it. You’ve only got one shot at college.Class of 2016, treat it as such.


24 Cats Who Are Celebrating Shark Week

8 Aug

24 Cats Who Are Celebrating Shark Week

A little post I did for BuzzFeed on felines and sharks. Cats and Sharks — this is EXACTLY what Al Gore had in mind when he invented the Internet. 


Red Velvet Cupcakes

6 Aug

I love food — eating it, making it, sharing it. My passion for the kitchen — especially baking sweet treats — inspired me to start a video blog for The Observer, Scene Around Campus, along with a cooking column for the Scene section, Cupcake Boy. In this Valentine’s Day edition, my good friend Kicki and I make sinfully delicious red velvet cupcakes.

Cupcake Boy: Valentine’s Day Edition

American capitalism may try to pitch the concept of Valentine’s Day to consumers as one of love and passion to sell flowers, jewelry and cards. But I’m not buying it. The only thing I love come V-Day is sugar and lots of it.

That’s why Scene writer Kicki Astuno and I chose Red Velvet Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting as this week’s “Cupcake Boy Recipe.” With their brick-red cake, creamy white frosting and red sugar sprinkled on top, these are the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day. Remember: A cupcake can never disappoint you, but a boyfriend or girlfriend can.

Whether you are celebrating today by spending time with that special someone or staying in to enjoy the company of your Netflix account and your cats, these cupcakes are the perfect treat to cap off your day. The best part is they are super easy to make and taste scrumptious. Why be lazy and by stale store-bought baked goods when you can make your own tasty goodies at home?

So what are you waiting for? Fire up that oven because you have some Valentine’s Day treats to make.

This recipe is adapted from Serious Eats and makes a dozen cupcakes. You’ll need a mixer and a cupcake tray. Be sure to check out a video demonstration Kicki and I as we make these cupcakes on!


1 3/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided

1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1 tablespoon red food coloring

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

3/4 cup milk

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon vinegar

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

1/4 cup red sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line the cupcake tray with cupcake liners. Mix the cocoa powder and flour in a medium-size bowl. Using the mixer, cream six tablespoons butter, the sugar and salt on medium speed for two minutes until light and fluffy. Beat the egg, food coloring and one teaspoon of the vanilla until combined. Mix in the flour/cocoa powder mixture and milk, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the flour/cocoa powder. In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into the vinegar, letting it fizz. Immediately add it into the batter.

Using a spoon or scooper, distribute the batter between the cupcake cups. Bake for 17 minutes until firm to the touch, turning the pan halfway through. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for five minutes, then remove and let cool completely before you frost them.

To make the frosting, use the mixer to beat the cream cheese, four tablespoons butter and confectioners sugar on medium speed for three minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the white chocolate and remaining teaspoon of vanilla until just combined. Using an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes (there will be plenty of frosting for each.) Sprinkle the red sugar on top to garnish.