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!


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!




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 🙂


Summer 2016 Bucket List

It’s the official FIRST DAY OF SUMMER 2016!

What a joy my last month and a half have been back at home.

This year, my personal goal is to be more intentional every single day. Since starting college at Loyola Chicago, it seems to me that time has been flying by so fast! I’m especially reminded of this when I’m home and I drive by my old High School.

Last Summer, I felt as though I didn’t get to do all the things I wanted to because of work, or time, or this or that. Instead of letting that happen again, I created a bucket list of the things I want to accomplish during my Summer.

None of these “must do items” are hard to accomplish for me. Everything is very local and budget-friendly! Some items are as simple as trying a new restaurant, others are a hike or just a visit to mundane shopping destinations.

Nonetheless, this is my fortified Summer “must do” list.

 Summer 2016 in Portland Bucket List

  1. Create a reading list 
  2. Have Brunch at Salty’s 
  3. Hike: Opal Pool
  4. Hood River day trip with stops at Doppio Coffeeshop, Mike’s, and Full Sail Brewery 
  5. Willamette Jetboat tour √
  6. Finish START my Scrap Book
  7. Print new photos from study abroad and Loyola   √
  8. Hike: Munra Point
  9. Watch a sunset from the Skidmore Bluffs
  10. See the movie “Nerve”  √
  11. Tree-to-Tree Adventure park
  12. Antiquing at Stars with my Mom  √
  13. Oaks Park for old times sake 
  14. Try every Ice Cream shop in Portland 
  15. Eat at Apizza Scholls 
  16. Eat at Pine State Biscuits  √
  17. Do a hike on the Washington side
  18. Visit Leach Botanical Garden (the Portland Secret Garden)
  19. Go to the Drive-in on 99W
  20. Go to Salishan with the family  √
  21. Be able to run 5 miles without stopping

I hope that by sharing my Bucket List you may be inspired to go out and do some fun adventurous things this Summer! Don’t let time pass by before you get to do, see, experience the things you want to.

Life is too damn short.

Thanks for reading,


*Update: 12/22 complete as of 8/7/16

My start at Oregon Summer musings

PDX Post 1

Long time no write….I know, I know. The time since I’ve been stateside has just flown by (over a month since I’ve been home)! I have been living life happily and healthfully since Italy, but I still cannot fathom that it’s over.

My best friend Cassi (who studied in Prague) said it best when she said it feels like living in Europe was a dream. I wonder…was I ever even living in a wonderful and wild country like Italy? I am so lucky to say that I was.

Summer has been sweet. I am working three jobs that randomly landed in my lap. I am doing organizational management and office work at a massage therapy office, a law firm, and privately at individual client’s homes (tell your friends)!

Seriously I am in a strange place between thriving and feeling like I’m drowning. I love being busy and I do not do well with excessive down time. BUT, I also get caught up in the waves sometimes and I find that extremely unhealthy.

This Summer, I am a morning person. I am a runner. I am hard working. 
I am fun & wild & young. 

I am feeling the most "Cassie" I have ever felt.

Today is a gloomy and quiet day. I am happy to have finally found time to writr post because this is a way I can express myself and document my adventures.

I was especially motivated to finish my first Summer post after an amazing day yesterday. I got to hike with new friends and old, go on an awesome flight with my 2 best friends and boyfriend, and I finished the night off with Pub food and GOT with other friends. It was a social and delightful day.

When reconnecting  over Queen Anne sandwiches at the McMenamins near PSU, my friends and I got really inspirational and hilarious. My friend Shannon is so incredibly poised and intriguing (plus… I am hoping she’ll start a podcast). Her creativity inspired me to get back into my writing post-study abroad.

My friend Victoria is so tech savvy its intimidating. I’ve known her since we were tots and she’s so so cool! It was so nice getting to see her happy and flourishing. She does what she wants and does it so damn well. These girls rock & give me joy.

My best friend Cassi, who you’ve met on the blog before, joined us at dinner and for our GOT screening as well (even though she isn’t a fan). I don’t think I could do just 1 sentence on what she and my other close friends mean to me. Maybe I’ll do a blog post just for her on January 14th!


I am so thankful for all I have been given & the people who have supported me unquestionably….

My beloved Roman friends, those who welcomed me with open arms in Chicago, and my friends and family from Lake Oswego….

How can I show you my love and gratitude?

Note* this post is all over the place-but it is titled 
"Summer musings"


Cheers to more fun & adventure.


Words of advice for future JFRC students

Alright so the time has come for me to pass down my knowledge to all the future JFRC students. A special shout out to all the people who contributed some of these tips!

I will be adding more and more tips as they come to mind.

Background information: The JFRC is in the Balduina (on Monte Mario) neighborhood in Rome. Monte Mario is considered the 8th hill of Rome (the 8th of the original 7 hills of Rome). It is about a 30-45 minute bus ride to the downtown city center of Rome.

The building houses the classrooms, dorms, gym, and mensa. Everything is in the same building which makes it a very small community. Pictured to the left is the courtyard. 

Don’t be freaked out about the dorm rooms-they’re nothing like the luxurious spaces of Georgetown or Fordham, but you’ll learn to call them home (or at least your place of slumber). Additionally, if there is a problem just email JFRCproblem@mclink.it and they’ll come and solve it ASAP. Submitted by Rachel Babbits

Don’t panic about the wifi-you’ll come to love not having wifi all the time and you really don’t need it (other than homework and the occasional social media update for the parents). Be present & love your time here! I IMPLORE you to not just stay in your room all day. Get out and explore Monte Mario, or at least sit and drink a Cappuccino at Rinaldo’s. Make yourself available without the distraction of social media. Submitted by Julia McCauley

Be confident when using your Italian-even the small things you learn the first few weeks while here. Overall they don’t care if you’re right, they just care if you’re trying. Italians are very friendly and love to chit-chat, so show them you are interested in their culture and you’ll be instant friends. Submitted by Aaron Carlson

Get to Mensa early-if you want the best yogurt and fruit options you gotta get there early. I have went ahead and posted the hours below for your convenience! Submitted by Kiki Peterson

The academics are not as much of a joke as people make it seem-especially as a Loyola student. You’ll have to readjust how you balance and use your time and live your life. Some of the other schools are just Pass/Fail or have audited classes, but for Loyola all your grades count. Make this your all As semester. Don’t overload yourself or take it too seriously, but understand that these things do follow you back to Lakeshore CampusSubmitted by Aaron Carlson

Do not judge the study trips by their price. Speaking from experience, no price could quantify the knowledge you gain by partaking in a SLA led study trip at the JFRC. Also, in reality, travel is expensive and you need to understand this before coming. Yes you can find cheap Ryanair or Vueling flights, but the costs add up. Don’t be nervous about this, just accept it and make the most of your time. Set goals for yourself and be confident that studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you just can’t put a price on.

Be patient & set limits. There are no secrets at the JFRC. The JFRC is incredibly small. I never thought that it would feel this small. But essentially, like I said before, you are living, eating, and schooling all in the same small building. There are no secrets at the JFRC, so get off campus & enjoy Rome. Also, take time to yourself. Take time to reflect on your experience in Rome & traveling and don’t just listen to what others say.

Even if you do have Wifi, do not just sit in your room. Jump around the building and find new spots to enjoy. I personally love sitting in Rinaldo’s Bar as it is very social.Use your time here intentionally as it goes by way too fast.

Practice your Italian. You’ll need it and you just can’t avoid it. Be confident & do your best to at least try to speak Italian to the locals. They’ll appreciate you more for it.

Get to know the SLAs & Staff. They have the best recommendations for places to see. Ask them questions and use them as a resource. That’s why they’re here. They have a lot of really cool things to say so listen up!

See more than Shari Vari and the Abbey. Some personal favorites are Fabrica (amazing drinks and appertivo) and La Buca di Ripetta (amazing authentic restaurant by Piazza del Popolo). For the best cappuccino in town, go to Melí Melo behind Villa Borghese.

Get to know the Buses and Metro. They’re your only lifeline to the real world of Rome. Yes, despite popular belief, the JFRC is not right in the center of Rome. It takes effort to get off campus and go explore. Learn the public transportation systems so exploring will be a piece of cake.

Important Maps & Guides:

For reference, here is the map of the Metro underground train. The red A line is the one with the stop closest to the JFRC campus. The stop closest to campus is Cipro. I, however, prefer getting off either the 913 bus or 990 bus at the stop Giulio Cesare/Ottaviano and boarding the Metro at “Ottaviano.”. It is less of a walk and a simpler transfer. Plus if you need a snack-there are some great restaurants and shops by Ottaviano! A Metro ticket is 1.50 per ride. You can use the ticket (once scanned) for 100 minutes on other busses and trams, but you can only use it to enter the Metro 1 time (always read the fine print)!

The Dorm Rooms & Courtyard



Final thoughts: Roman Catholics, Protestants, and how the two come Together

Roman Catholics, Protestants, and how the two come Together

 If there is one thing I’ve learned this semester it is how incredibly complex Roman Catholicism is. From the saints to relics and from the arts to the Pope, there is a lot of history to understand and questions to be asked. Coming from a Protestant background, this is all new material for me. But, I have really enjoyed figuring out what it means, for different people, to be a Catholic.

Both Catholics and Protestants can easily distinguish how different the two traditions are. In the beginning of his book, Peter Stanford, author of Catholicism – An Introduction, says, “Catholicism places a greater emphasis than other Christian denominations on the force of its own traditions” (Stanford 569). An example would best be seen through the analysis of the act of prayer. In a typical Catholic home children are taught to pray every night before bed. Both children and adult Catholics traditionally pray before bed at home by kneeling aside their bed with their hands in prayer formation. Additionally, in Mass, prayers are often memorized and recited ritualistically such as the Hail Mary, Praying the Rosary, or the Lord’s Prayer. These Prayers are one of the strongest traditions in the Catholic Church. Stanford says, “the ‘liturgical prayer’ approach was used throughout the Church’s history to allow its leaders to place, above the views of individual believers, an officially sanctioned interpretation of the extracts from scriptures included in the cycles of readings to be used in the Mass” (Stanford 564). In addition, Catholics are expected to participate in the liturgy at mass, but personal prayer and daily devotions are personal matters and vary from Catholic to Catholic. In contrast, Protestant prayer tradition is much less structured. Protestants more commonly pray when inspired. For example, one may feel moved to pray to God when in the presence of a beautiful view or in a time of trouble. Although the two are praying to the same God and follow the same Bible, the Catholics and the Protestants evidently practice their faith through prayer in very different ways.

The differences between the two, however, do not stop there. Traditionally, Roman Catholics experience the Bible mostly within the setting of mass or formal Bible Studies. During this time, many Catholics rely on the Clergy’s interpretation of scripture and in most cases take the Bible literally. The most critical example would be how Catholics rely on the Biblical interpretations from the Pope as an appointed speaker of God. Instead, Protestant denominations typically encourage their pupils to pursue personal time reading the Bible. In addition, Protestants are encouraged to interpret and find meaning from the Bible on their own instead of just listening to the word of the Clergy. Protestants do not follow the direction of a Pope like figure, but instead rely on personal interpretation of the Bible for guidance through a faithful life. But for both denominations, Gerald OCollins, author of Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction, says, “As an inspired text, the Bible illuminates for millions of Catholics and other Christians the deepest reality of God and human beings” (OCollins 985).

In addition to the difference in Prayer-style and Biblical interpretations, a main difference between the two can be seen when entering a church. In regards to a Catholic entrance of a church Stanford says, “Outside of the sacraments, there is a variety of other devotions which have long been a part of Catholic life…making the sign of the cross as you enter a Catholic Church, with holy water from a stoup near the entrance. This is a form of cleansing and reminds Catholics of the baptismal vows” (Stanford 2527). On the contrary, Protestant denominations do not do this. Contemporary Protestant churches do not focus on ritualistic ideals such as a memorized prayer or using holy water to sign the cross. Instead, they focus their worship through passionate song, strong community, and deep reflection. Instead of simply glorifying and praising God, the essence of a Protestant Church service is to build a real and authentic relationship with Jesus. For some people, Catholicism can be considered “stuffy” or “impersonal” because of the traditions. Others, however, condemn Protestant churches for losing focus on God’s grace and lacking traditional structure.

The differences between Catholics and Protestants are clear and there are many others—including, for example, a difference of views on divorce, birth control, and heaven, hell, and purgatory. But, what hasn’t been recognized yet is how beautifully the two traditions can come together to create understanding. What once was a bloody and vengeful war between the two is now a peaceful coexistence. This coexistence is the leading example of reconciliation and genuine understanding between two different religious sects in today’s World. In particular, Pope Francis has been incredibly influential in promoting acceptance between all religions and coming together to promote love and peace. No matter the religious denomination—whether it be Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, or Atheist, experiencing a historical Catholic site, such as Saint Peter’s Basilica, is equally awe-inspiring because the arts have always been, since the beginning, incredibly important to Catholics. One can see this simply through the ornate Basilicas drenched in rich architecture. These houses of worship hold some of the most extravagant paintings and sculptures by many of the most famous artists. All of these detailed artistic features aim to celebrate the greater glory of God and reflect His holiness. Although this may not be personally important for one to become faithful, any person can recognize that for many these traditions bring joy to people and that it is something for all people to celebrate.

Because of the rich cultural experiences studying Roman Catholicism has brought me, I have learned that it doesn’t necessarily matter what denomination or sect of Christianity you identify or don’t identify with. Instead, being a person of the World gives you an unquestionable duty to continually seek understanding of other people’s beliefs and to constantly challenge your own. This is truly what life is about.

Works Cited
OCollins, Gerald (2008-11-27). Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Kindle Locations 985-986). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Stanford, Peter (2010-06-25). Catholicism – An Introduction: Teach Yourself (TY Religion) (Kindle Locations 2527-2530). Hodder & Stoughton. Kindle Edition.
Jarrell, Cassi. Personal Interview. Raised Catholic.
Sohlberg, Amy. Personal Interview. Raised Protestant.

Experiencing Roman Catholicism part 6

Another rough wake up. No worries crossed my mind, however, because I was very excited to finally experience for myself the mystical Bone Church. Traveling to Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini was easy. I feel as though I am finally getting a hold of the Roman transportation system (which is an extremely daunting task-even for a Chicagoan)! I hope you enjoy my sixth day experiencing the splendors of Roman Catholicism in its birth place, Rome!

I learned a lot on this day. The Bone Church was unlike anything I imagined or have ever seen before. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed. I, however, will deem this site as a must see for any Roman tourists.

The actual church entrance (museum) was fascinating. I have always been keen to learn more about the different sects of Roman Catholicism. I enjoyed reading about the history of the Cappuccini-or the Franciscan Order. A funny thing is a single Franciscan is called a Cappuccino! Here, I finally learned the significance of the pointed hoods (which I had been wondering about since the Easter Processions) and the way that the Franciscans dressed (they dress in a cross shaped robe with tie around the waist). I also got to read a little more about Saint Francis of Assisi whom I have heard so much about while being at the JFRC.

I really enjoyed seeing another Caravaggio painting. This Church housed the portrait of Saint Francis himself. Caravaggio is one of the crowd favorites here in Rome and it’s easy to see why! For reference, his most famous painting is the crucifixion of Peter-which I finally got to see in person on this day!

Proceeding into the Ossuary Crypt (or the Bone Church), I was blown away. I will admit I was a little creeped out, but the Bone Church also intrigued me. A fact about the Bone Church I found cool was that the Earth in this “cemetery” is apparently straight from the holy land. The Catholics never cease to amaze me. Another thing to note is that this is a crypt for the Franciscans, so all the bones are of their brethren.

Next we had a quick viewing of the Santissimi Trinita dei Monti. I really enjoyed walking to this site because the weather was so beautiful. Of course, the Spanish Steps are also always a sight for sore eyes. We didn’t go in this church, so we proceeded to Santa Maria del Popolo. This church was pretty cool as there are two more Caravaggio’s housed here (saint Peter’s Crucifixion and the conversion of saint Paul)!

Next came Gesu e maria al Corso which I learned had an interior that was inspired by the famous Roman artist, Bernini. It was easy to tell upon entering that this cathedral is very influenced by the Baroque artistic period. After wandering this church, we ventured to Chiesa Di san Giacomo in Augusta which I have actually stopped in a couple of times! It is very popular and always crowded as it is on Via Del Corso. I really like this church because of the ceiling. The ceiling fresco has magnificent colors and paints a beautiful theological picture. I think this was one of my favorite stops because of the prayer. I got to reflect on the quote of the Jubilee year ”be merciful as your father is merciful to you” or “Mesecordia come padre.”


Our final stop of the sixth on site was at Sant’Ambrogio e Carlo al Corso. The relics of the Catholic Church always interest me-I enjoyed seeing Peter’s chains and the shroud of Jesus. But it was very interesting to see Saint Charles’ heart. It was also kind of gross, but I am learning to understand the relics better after taking part in this class. At this site, we were asked to read the prayers at each side alter as they were in English. I found these very endearing. I used them as a platform to pray for my family members and loved ones, but also for those who need prayer that don’t often receive it.

In conclusion, this was my favorite on site to date. It is so lovely learning about the traditions of the Catholic Church, especially on a beautiful sunny spring day in Rome. These are the times I feel very connected to my spirituality and my university.


The Relic of Saint Charles’ heart


Thanks for reading!