A Guide to New York City: Day II part I

After a very jam-packed first day, Ruthie and I were ready for another!!! We relaxed during the morning and ate breakfast at home. Because of how much we wanted to fit in, we decided to get to our first destination, the Highline, that we would take the subway as the attraction is in the Chelsea/West Village area which is diagonal across the peninsula of NYC and north. The 4 subway is 5 minutes from Ruthie’s apartment, so the trip was easy-peasy. We hopped on the subway and were at the Chelsea Market in about 25 minutes.

The Highline


The Highline is an architectural masterpiece. It is REALLY relaxing and beautiful-a really interesting way to provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC. To get on the Highline, you go up some stairs that are on the street and then enter the elevated walkway. The walkway is very lush (first picture). It is overflowing with greenery and intermittently doused with cool art pieces. The views of the city are really fun. On one side you can see Hoboken, New Jersey across the Hudson, on the other is the posh and artsy district of West Village. Ruth and I walked the entire Highline and took in the cool architecturally-pleasing apartment buildings and the glass viewing areas (fourth picture).

Overall, this place is a must see! It’s the perfect attraction for the morning post-breakfast and pre-lunch.

Speaking of lunch… after the Highline, Ruthie and I decided we weren’t hungry quite yet, so we walked to the Friends apartment (outer view). That was really fun to see! And then stopped in our first little cafe, “Emily.” There, we got a drink and some really yummy spicy cheese fries. This place is known for their pizza, but we weren’t in the mood. The second place on our West Village restaurant must-dos was by Chloe. By Chloe is a vegan restaurant – yay – that is very trendy. There are a few locations around the city and a few in LA. Filled with rope swings and cool neon signs, this place was packed. We just wanted to try, so I got the small pesto pasta (pictured) and she got the small vegan mac and cheese. We both sampled each others. They were really good!!! Next time, I’m definitely trying their burgers as there is nothing better than an awesome vegan burger.

Dining in West Village

We got our food to go (there was no seating) and ate it in Washington Square Park, which is a favorite Gossip Girl filming place (the one with a replica of the arc de triumph). That park is really beautiful and thriving with lots of energy! It is right in the heart of West Village where NYU is. There were a lot of students. I totally get the NYU hype now- such  a fun area! I’m sure if you live there, though, it’s probably not as exciting. Touristing is a total yes!

The next place to go to was my personal must do, DŌ – cookie dough confectionary. Oh my gosh!!! I have a problem. If I went to NYU I’d have a serious weight issue. This place was definitely worth the hype. I’d also like to mention that the line really wasn’t bad. We went at about 2-3pm and it took us 5 minutes to get in and start sampling!!!

IMG_0989Pro tip with DŌ – it is REALLY decadent. The picture is the smallest size and it is huge. It took Ruthie and I about 2 more days to actually finish the entire portion. I also got one to go, because I just needed to try another flavor. Overall, I definitely recommend! The flavor picture is the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor (simple is always better). Ruth got vegan chocolate chip cookie dough, which was equally as good. They have something for everyone.IMG_0984.jpg

To burn off all that food, we decided to walk home. It took about an hour & we got to see lots of sights! Definitely travel by foot in NYC as there is so. much. to. see.

We got home and took a much needed break. Charged our phones. Chugged water. etc.

If you could even believe it, there was an equally amazing part two to our day. I was dying to go on a NYC ferry, so we impromptu decided to spend our evening in Brooklyn.

Which…. will be a second post! There is just so much to talk about and share with you guys.

baci baci ciao ciao for now

Washington Square Park



Reconciling my time in Bosnia & Herzegovina (part I)


Our first day in Bosnia… wow this day was hard. Our first stop coming via bus straight from Belgrade, Serbia was an Eastern Bosnian town called Srebrenica. Here, a horrible genocide took place killing thousands of Bosnian Muslims. The genocide here was atrocious and still makes me sick to my stomach to think about. I am happy I got to learn about it though, in hopes of being a part of change and acceptance in this world.

On this day, we went to the Srebrenica memorial cemetery where we truly saw just how many men and boys were unnecessarily murdered during this short period of time. Following, we toured another important memorial site: the Dutch UN base. This is where hundreds of Bosnian Muslims tried to find refuge from the Serbians. Eventually, the occupants of the Dutch UN made them leave the safety of the base, which practically walked hundreds to their death-right into the Serbian’s arms. Today, a very raw and moving memorial/museum is inside the garage of the base that honors the ones that we lost. Although the Bosnians are so humble and try to make everything uplifting, the entire experience was very very heartbreaking. The worst thing for me to recognize was that this all occurred while I was alive and that many people my age (and younger) died mercilessly because of their race and religion.

This day really made me think about how I view the contemporary issues of today.

After the museum, we went into the main “town” portion of Srebrenica. The town is still tattered-strewn with dozens of bullet holes. It is devastating to see how bad of shape some parts of Bosnia is in even all these years later (approx 10 years since the war). But the people we met there were so incredibly nice and are rebuilding their lives piece by piece as they try to come to terms with their losses.

Families come back to repair their houses in these war torn towns, but do not move back because their lives there are gone forever.

Moral of my experience… learn as much as you can so you can change the world. Listen. Take action. Reflect. Mourn. and then rebuild.


A day that was completely opposite in feel….filled with Turkish delights (addicted) and the traditional Bosnian dish called Burek. Unfortunately because of my food poisoning on the way to Croatia I don’t think I could ever stomach eating Burek again, but at the time it was fun to try the traditional dish!

After enjoying downtown Sarajevo, we adventured to the site where the 1984 Winter Olympic Games were. Something cool about Sarajevo is that it is literally a canyon. There is the river and then two steep hills surrounding it and it is absolutely gorgeous. This day, we experienced the great mountains around the heart of the city. We walked the entire Bobsled track that is now covered in graffiti and is left unused. It was very cool to be there as I have never seen anything Olympic related in my life but it was sad to see how such joy was held in Bosnia only a few years before the war began.


After our adventure in the mountains some dedicated tourists and I enjoyed a walking tour with Armenia whom was a very sweet Bosnian woman. She survived the war by spending time in France with her family. But afterward she did humanitarian work for Catholic services (as a Muslim). She told us about all her favorite places to get sweets in the old town of Sarajevo and we had a lovely time hearing her stories.

She also told us about some of the sad parts of modern life in Sarajevo. The youth are being influenced by the stresses of their parents, who can’t find jobs in a hard economy, so they pick-pocket and are violent toward each other. We were walking down the street and saw one young teen boy roundhouse kick another in the face. A fight broke out and then disbanded. It was really crazy.

After this, my friends and I did A LOT of shopping. I bought 5 scarves, a couple pounds of turkish delights, and other ~necessities~.

That night, we all went out to dinner at Dzenita. It was very much meat based, so I didn’t eat too much. But the conversation with friends new & old was for the books.

After dinner, the SLAs and the group went to a traditional Bosnian Hookah bar. I am not a smoker, but I think that doing something like this is part of the cultural masterpiece. The Hookah was a little disappointing and not too notable. We tried the flavors apple mint, peach, and cherry.

The cool part was that we learned to blow rings but we all felt like death afterward.


Woke up, got ready and ate some more Pita and then grabbed some Bosnian coffee-which is THE BEST. It is different because you get rich black coffee (with grounds) and then you add your favorite form of sugar and drink it black. It’s phenomenal and so flavorful. My favorite part of this particular shop is that it comes with a side of rose flavored turkish delight, which I genuinely cannot get enough of.


After coffee, we left early at 8:30am for our greater tour of Bosnia!!!

We enjoyed snapchats new face swap feature to entertain ourselves before our car narcolepsy set in and we all passed out.

This was a BIG day & it was spectacular. I saw so many cool places I could only dream of.

WHICH you can read about in my next post….

Baci Baci e Grazie Mille!



Cheers to Sarajevo!
Me overlooking the city

A Guide to New York City: Introduction & Day I

After my internship this summer, I wanted to treat myself to a trip. Because I hadn’t been to NYC since my freshman year of high school, it was the perfect place for me to end my summer. Luckily, one of my best childhood friends had just moved to New York post-graduation for a new job and another friend, Kerry, lives close by in New Jersey, so it was a 2:1 double dunk idea. I booked a flight in June for four nights in late August, and off I went!

The flight from Chicago to New York is about two hours. From LaGuardia I took an uber to my friends place on Front street directly under the Brooklyn bridge. But, I later found out that there is a airport shuttle company called “NYC Airporter” that is about 2/3 of the price. I took that to LGA on my return flight. One way from Grand Central station to LGA is $15.00. My Uber from LGA to my friends apartment was about $30.00.

I had loosely planned out what I wanted to see, do, eat, and experience in NYC a week beforehand. The best way I know how to keep track of what I want to do when traveling (or even when creating a “must see/do” list in Chicago) is by using Google Maps. I mark each place I want to go with the green flag that indicates “want to go.” After I visit the place, and I like it, I take off the green flag and mark it with the star. That way, I can keep track of what I’ve done so I can provide travel recommendations to peers or write my travel blog posts!

Day 1: Lower and East Manhattan

I got to my friends place at about 3:00pm EST. We caught up for a while and then decided to freshen up and hit the town. Because her apartment is located in the Financial District, or “FiDi’ (Fye-Die), we decided to do a winding walkthrough FiDi to visit the famous wall street bull statue. It was so crowded that I couldn’t even see the bull. My verdict is that the monument is a pass-by stop, not a destination.

IMG_0901.jpgFrom there, we continued our journey west and then north through Tribeca and then Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho (South of Housten street) and Nolita (North of Little Italy). We coo-ed at all the cute instagram-able restaurants (see NoLita for the best trendy shots) but continued on to  East Village which is my friend’s personal favorite NYC neighborhood. There, we stopped at an awesome restaurant called “B Café” and got a drink and the BEST chips and salsa. Seriously, we are both now obsessed with this salsa. I ordered a sparkling rose and her a local brew.

IMG_0902.jpgFrom there, we were ready for real dinner. We originally wanted to get into this one really hip ramen bar, but because of an hour plus wait decided to go to a different hole-in-the-wall place called “Minca.” This was actually my first ever ramen experience! It was really fun and I liked the food. The best part was how small the restaurant is and how it is open kitchen so we could watch them make it.

IMG_0906.jpgFrom there, we decided to meet up with another friend and hit the trendy rooftop bar “Mr. Purple.” The view was incredible. The bouncer said the wait would be about an hour and a half, but we got in after thirty minutes. The crowd was good, but the best part was that not too many people are let up so there is room to relax and the view is a 360 degree panoramic of the Manhattan skyline.  I didn’t order a drink, but we enjoyed relaxing on the extremely comfortable outdoor furniture and chatting amongst ourselves and others. The highlight of the night was certainly the crazy drunk girl who engaged in lively conversation with me, but that’s another story.

After an awesome first day in the big apple, we called a Via (definitely recommend via in NYC) and called it a night.

Miscellaneous photos from the day:

The fearless girl statue featuring way too many tourists!
The NOLITA side streets are stellar


1am thoughts: “Thank you”

I feel incredibly happy but I feel incredibly sad. I have always struggled with adapting to change, but the changes to come very soon have been especially hard. In one year from now, I will be graduating undergrad. Today, some of my dearest friends are.

I have asked this question before. I asked it when I left Rome. What will it be like for this part of my life to be over? What will it be like to not have classes with my graduating friends? Will our relationship continue after college?

These are all questions I don’t know the answer to. But I will soon. That’s the craziest part. I mourn the end of an era. But I also rejoice in the fact that I am so proud of the people in my life. I am so honored to have been given the opportunity to meet and know some of the most influential, honest, kind, and special people on this massive planet.

You, you know who you are. Congratulations.

Thank you

Here’s to you!

Life Update: September in Chicago

Chicago sunset from the LondonHouse rooftop bar

Well I’m back. The more days that pass, the less and less familiar the memories and times of living abroad feel. The weirder part is that it doesn’t even feel like my summer happened.

Being back here has been one busy whirlwind! From being President of my fraternity to 18 credit hours (at an honors level) to managing seeing all my new friends… it’s a lot! But that is essentially what college is for-having too much to do and no time!

I love the crazy ride though.

The hardest part of living in the city for me is the commute. I love being downtown and I love being in Roger’s Park at my apartment. It’s hard to split my time..not to mention it’s exhausting. Somedays I am so done but then I have to take a 40 minute shuttle/bus/L ride + walk 1o minutes to finally be home. Some days I don’t want to be home at all-I wanna be out and about exploring this amazing city!

As for school: I am still an HR major with a Finance minor and I’m loving it and very reassured that this is the path for me! I am in the HR classes regarding Compensation and Employment Relations right now. Although I am not connecting 100% with the professors, I am really enjoying the class content. I feel like I am building a great foundation this semester for me to pursue my chosen career!

As for fun… my roommates and I have been enjoying cooking and baking! We also have enjoyed decorating our place and making it our home 🙂

My October adventure goals are to:

  1. Try a new coffee shop
  2. Go to second city
  3. Go to Rocky Horror (again)
  4. Have an awesome halloween!
  5. Go to Lincoln Park Zoo Fall Fest

Thanks for reading my little life update!

XO Cassie

The Mariani Wedding

This summer I was gifted with the opportunity to photograph a family friend’s wedding!

This was an important opportunity for me as I’ve always wanted to take my photography to the next level. The unfortunate deterrent is the hefty start up cost for photography. From buying new gear, to practicing for free, to high client standards and seemingly low pay, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of truly pursuing photography as a potential career. And it still is. Fortunately my friend allowed me to borrow her nicer lenses for the wedding as I haven’t updated my equipment in years. Although this is my passion, I am unsure if I will truly ever pursue photography how I wanted to-If I’m being candid.

The fact is, I love taking photos and inspiring people through my work. I love seeing people feel special and beautiful after seeing just a few great photographs that were taken of them. I think a picture truly does speak 1000 words-especially on such a day as a wedding. It creates a vivid memorial that one can treasure forever.

It was such a marvelous and beautiful day for Andi and Gary. It really embodied real and lasting love-and that you can find it at anytime in life! There was nothing over the top. It was true hard work and love that centered the wedding. Everything was beautiful and everything was simple.

Below are a few of my favorite shots to sum up the perfect summer evening:


Thank you to Andi + Gary for allowing me to capture your special day! What a treat.

I am truly inspired!




Exploregon: Elowah Falls & McCord Creek Trail

Elowah Falls is located near John B Yeon Park. There are a lot of great hikes right in this area including a popular viewpoint hike called Munra Point. This recreation area is about 50 minutes from Lake Oswego if traffic is light.

My story:

Unfortunately traffic West on the I-84 was incredibly dreadful, which made correcting our directional mistakes extremely stressful. Getting to Elowah and Upper McCord Creek Falls was a challenge as the directions provided to us by Google Maps were extremely vague.

This is what inspired me to write this post.

Follow I-5 to the I-84 and take exit 35. Turn left and get onto highway 30 or the Columbia Scenic Highway. From there, you will see what looks like the end of the 30 (it leads back onto the 84 for a bit). If you’ve passed this you’ve gone too far. You should see a car parking lot before the 84 picks back up. Park here and this is the trailhead.

From this trailhead, you can enter part of the PCT, Upper McCord Creek trail, and Elowah Falls. The hike to Elowah falls and back is about 1.6 miles so it’s very short. That is why it is nice to have options to continue to the other trails from this trailhead.

Below is a picture of the 30 where we parked along the road.


The trail–surrounded by amazing firs.


And here is a picture of Cassi and I loving Elowah Falls.

This waterfall was very different from the others I have been exploring this Summer. Waterfall hikes are my favorite because I love to enjoy the water and practice my high intensity motion photography skills. Also, we brought Rayne (my 8 year old Border Collie) and he loves to run and play in the water.

Elowah Falls was HUGE. It was comparable to Multnomah moreso than other falls I’ve seen. This is a rather un-populated hike with a lot of space to take a lunch break. It’s hard to draw your eyes away from the vastness of this little hidden pocket.


Hopefully this might be helpful to someone. If not, I mainly use my blog to document for myself.

This was a fantastic day that ended with Eastwind Drive-in in CascadeLocks. This place is the BOMB with quick drive thru food options and awesome shakes and epic soft serve. Definitely go here if you drive through the locks.

Thanks for reading!


Cassie’s egg, dairy, and guilt free cookie recipe

Hi hi!

Thank you for clicking & reading my new post!

Today I am posting my special cookie recipe that I have manufactured to fit my diet choices and satisfaction.

I do not have a culinary degree or really much baking experience, but these are cookies that I serve that my friends & family have gone crazy for! I created this recipe all by myself after being inspired by a mostly vegan and low cholesterol diet.

The best part about this recipe is that the dough is 100% edible while raw. It even keeps for a couple of days in the refrigerator if treating yourself to cookie dough is your dessert fancy.

I hope you try these out and if you do…let me know!

First things first….

Separate the wets and the drys into two bowls (ingredients below)


½ cup canola oil

½ cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of water (add more or less depending on your desired level of wetness)


½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup splenda

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 cup oatmeal

1 ½ teaspoons baking power


½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

then… mix the two together after all ingredients are distributed and…

Add in:

½ cup peanut butter and 1 cups chocolate chips (vegan, semi sweet, etc.)



Cook at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes

Personal Notes: I usually use a fork, a spatula, or even my hands to mix this dough. This is mainly because I do not have a mixing bowl at school-haha. Depending on how much water you add, the dough will either be very dry and very rich in a honey consistency (which means the chocolate chips won’t stick) or it will be pretty soft. Either way, it ends up baking just fine with the measurements I provided.

If the chocolate chips don’t stick to the dough, I just pile them on top while they bake or kind of push them into the dough balls.

I hope you find ways to make this recipe even better than I have but here’s a good start! There are many modifications you can make to fit your needs.

If you aren’t an oatmeal fan, you can add an additional cup of flour instead. Same goes with the Splenda-just use 1 whole cup of brown sugar. Add nuts, candies, etc. Alongside the peanut butter, I sometimes add a mashed banana.

The best part about baking is finding ways to create a goodie that satisfies your sweet tooth. Make these your own 🙂

Happy baking 🙂