Category Archives: Lifestyles

Black Friday: A Firsthand Experience

By Amanda Webster

I have kept a retail job since I was 17 at a well known chain store, Old Navy. Since becoming a full-time college student I only work my retail job over breaks and holidays when I have the extra time.

After working retail during the holiday season for four years I know that the mere mention of “Black Friday” can cause a feeling of dread to creep up on any individual who stands behind a register. However, if you enjoy working with your coworkers it helps make the day a touch less terrifying and at times can even be fun. For those of you who have never had the need to work during Black Friday here is a first hand account from an Old Navy sales associate on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Our store, like many others in the mall, opened its doors at midnight. As expected Old Navy had a line of people eagerly awaiting to shop the door buster sales before the doors were even open. The lucky first twenty or so people in line were given a free Wii-U game. I stopped in to check things out a little before 1 am and to give my coworkers some encouragment.

I just barely got through the doors. Our store became so crowded that my manager had to tell people to wait for others to exit before entering because it was a safety hazard. One woman passed out while waiting in the checkout line.

By noon the store was nowhere near as full, but the line of people waiting to purchase their five dollar fleece and marked down denim was always constant. I spent my first two hours ringing people out without missing a beat. By the time my four hour mark hit, the faces and products began to all blend together into one giant never ending transaction. The only thing that broke up the monotony was a coworker weilding a bull horn to hand out coupons for customers in line.

I was eventually asked to help recover the store. Women’s shirts and boots were carelessly thrown throughout the store and customers kept looking at me with eyes filled with pity. A few even apologized and said that they felt sorry for me. I have come to expect these remarks and always laugh them off. Old Navy’s top priority is customer service, so customers should never be made to feel like they are a burden or creating a problem for associates. For the record though, if you are shopping and go over to a table that an associate is folding and they ask if you need help they really just mean, “Please don’t ruin this, I just fixed it. Let me get you what you want.” Let us help you, seriously.

At my ten hour mark our store was finally closing. As the last customer left, shopping bags in hand, my coworkers and I looked around and could not help but laugh at the task in front of us. Piles of clothes needed folding and waited to be put back on the shelves and garbage was strewn about the store. I, along with my manager and one other associate, began what would turn into an almost two hour task of counting a cash deposit large enough to buy a new car.

Overall, I considered the day a success. No one was trampled, customers were for the most part polite, the store managed to close on time and I got to catch up with some coworkers while we spent hours folding clothes together. I know it could have been worse, I could always work at Wal-Mart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dishin’ It: Turkey Bombes

By Alyssa Pattison

With the holiday season approaching, you may be thinking about festive ways to contribute to the upcoming events. Holiday gatherings with family and friends are a great time to try out a new recipe and receive an immediate reaction to your new ideas.

To really stand out among the typical holiday go-to desserts, perhaps attempt something different this year, such as this dessert recipe festively dubbed the ‘Turkey Bombe,’ created by Clinton Kelly (of TLC’s What Not To Wear) and Carla Hall. This recipe was featured on ABC’s The Chew earlier this month.

Of course, if you plan on giving a recipe as a gift, be sure your gift is delicious! Creating a test batch to be sure you’ve reached the intended outcome of your recipe is highly recommended.

 

Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall’s Turkey Bombe (Featured on ABC’s ‘The Chew’)

Skill Level: Moderate

Time: 30-60 min

Serves 12

 

Kitchenware needed: Cupcake liners, dry and liquid measuring cups, cupcake tin, mixing spoon, large mixing bowl, rubber spatula, pastry bag (a zip-top bag will work, also), sifter, and hand mixer

 

Ingredients

  • For the Cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 12 tablespoons Butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream

 

For the Whipped Cream Filling:

  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/3 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves

 

For the Icing:

  • 32 ounces Cream Cheese (4 blocks softened)
  • 4 sticks butter (softened)
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dark Rum

 

To Top:

  • 1 cup Sweetened Coconut (lightly toasted) or
  • 1 cup Chopped Walnuts (lightly toasted)

 

Directions:

Step 1: (Refer to ingredients for the whipped cream filling.) Whip cream into soft peaks, add sugar and spices and continue whipping to achieve medium peaks. Gently fold in pumpkin puree. Transfer to a pastry bag or zip-top bag fitted with a piping tip.

Step 2: (Refer to ingredients for the icing.) Whip together softened cream cheese, butter, powder sugar and rum until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag or zip-top bag fitted with a piping tip. Chill until ready to use.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.

Step 4: (Ingredients: ¾ cup Coca powder, ¾ cup All-purpose flower, 1/2 tsp. Salt, 1 tsp. Baking powder.) Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder together in a bowl.

Step 5: (Ingredients: 12 Tbs. or 1 ½ sticks of Butter, 3 Eggs, 1 cup Sugar, 2 tsp. Vanilla extract.) Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Continue mixing and add one egg at a time until incorporated. Mix in vanilla.

Step 6: (Ingredients: ½ cup Sour cream.) Alternate between the flour mixture and sour cream, mixing slowly to combine.

Step 7: Evenly distribute batter among muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan until cool enough to handle. Finish cooling on a wire rack.

Step 8: Use a knife to trim the bottom of the cupcake to round off.

Step 9: Pierce the bottom of the rounded cupcake with the pumpkin whipped cream filled pastry bag and squeeze to fill cupcake with a few tablespoons of mixture.

Step 10: Cover filled cupcakes with icing, smoothing to achieve desired look.

Step 11: (Ingredients: 1 cup Sweetened coconut – lightly toasted or 1 cup Chopped walnuts.) To top: Roll in your choice of coconut or walnuts.

Winter Fashion

By Erin O’Donnell

Having already experienced the first snowfall of the season, it is time to say goodbye to autumn leaves. Jack Frost has made himself welcome with the unexpectedly harsh Nor’easter in the first week of November. Around CCSU’s campus, students are now bundling up with thick layers of coats, sweaters and scarves.

Summer of 2012 is long-gone and so are the days of tank tops and shorts. But the exciting time of the holiday season is just beginning and so is beautiful winter fashion. Embellished tops, velvet, lace up shoes and classic skinny jeans are all trending this winter, and the right coat on top makes all the difference. Scarves and mittens are essential too, and especially popular this year are beanies.

Some would argue that it is too difficult to have personal style in the cold weather under layers upon layers of clothing, but it can be done with the right pieces, at any price point. The key is to stay warm and stylish with the right jacket, boots and accessories.

The classic pea coat is a sophisticated staple to any student’s wardrobe. These tailored coats can be styled with a variety of different outfits. Whether it’s houndstooth pattern to a traditional red, these coats are adaptable to anyone. A slim pencil skirt with knit tights and a chunky sweater goes great with a pea coat, and keeps you warm in the winter and walking around campus.

The right shoes are also very important in the winter. Not just for protection anymore, shoes have come a long way in style and expressing personality. The choices are endless with ankle booties, knee-highs, riding boots, furry UGG boots and so on. Newly popular this year are “combat boots.” Usually black leather with buckles, they can be worn for a slouchy rugged look or make a very girly outfit more edgy.

Another staple for looking well dressed this winter will be the right accessory. It can add that last touch to send the outfit over the top. Collars have been seen in every store this season and are very versatile. They come in all shapes and styles, whether you’d prefer a sequin jeweled collar or a dressy pearl collar necklace. Simply throw a collar on over a crew neck sweater and it instantly adds an embellishment that pulls the look together. Additionally, collars can be seen from Forever 21 to Nordstroms so they come in a wide price range.

A look that compliments everyone is a bold red lip. The key is to keep any other makeup on the face toned down, so it’s not overpowering. Especially popular this winter are deep berry hues. This look can really spruce up an outfit and brighten the face instantly.

Putting pieces together for the brisk air can be easy with layers, and topping it off with the trimming of an accessory completes the look. Keep the winter blues at bay with the trends of the season, while looking stylish and staying warm.

First Lady Fashion

By Erin O’Donnell

During the 2012 Presidential election, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney had all eyes on them as to what they would wear to the presidential debates. Standing aside their husbands, they both shined in their own light with selections from big name fashion designers.

In the first debate on Oct. 3, millions tuned in to see not only the presidential candidates duke it out on stage, but as well as the First Lady’s and potential first lady’s fashion picks for the night. In Denver, Colorado both first ladies wore sleeves and shimmering smiles to address the crowd. Ann wore a light cream-colored suit jacket and skirt, while Michelle wore a comparable suit jacket and skirt in a deep purple hue.

The real statement came on the second presidential debate. Among a crowd of black and navy suits, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney both wore vibrant pink. Some reports say the Michelle Obama and Ann Romney displayed pink ensembles to support Breast Cancer Awareness month. This was the second debate of three that took place in Hempstead, New York. Michelle Obama wore a pearl necklace while Ann Romney adorned a beaded necklace, both suited to their outfits.

On the third and final debate in Boca Raton, Florida it seemed like it was their goal not to match as they did in the second debate. It can’t be denied that the two have similar taste as they both wore a floral pattern. Michelle Obama wore a black and gray floral printed dress designed by Thom Browne. The cap-sleeved dress accompanied a black sash and sparking ribbon pin. This dress was actually first seen on Michelle during her husband’s Democratic National Convention last September.

Ann Romney sported an Oscar de la Renta floral dress with a solid green bodice and floral printed skirt, as well as a thick belt, beaded necklace and sophisticated gold watch.

As election night emerges, the image of these two icons will remain and inspire voters to adorn some First Lady fashion with any occasion.

Wallingford’s Trail Of Terror Continues To Spook Its Guests

By Erin O’Donnell

It is just after sunset, while walking closer and closer to the entrance, distant screams of startled patrons are heard. The Trail of Terror of Wallingford, Conn is one of New England’s largest Halloween attractions, and simply calling it a “haunted house” would be an understatement.

The Trail of Terror’s line entrance is accompanied by Dracula, who directs you to the proper line, whether it’s general admission or speed pass. With general admission being $10 and the speed pass $20, it is an affordable, charitable attraction since many of the proceeds go to the Red Cross.

Even waiting in line is part of the attraction. Characters quietly lurk through the lines and trigger a chill as they make an appearance to unsuspecting guests. Heavy metal music and performances deter from the wait, building the anticipation of reaching the entrance. There are even refreshments such as hot chocolate sold in line. All of these efforts make the wait enjoyable.

Going through the attraction takes around 30-45 minutes to walk through, whether you’re with a group of friends or brave enough to attempt it alone. To give an idea of what lies inside the terror of The Trail; it isn’t for the faint of heart.

The Trail of Terror is supported by hundreds of volunteers who don’t merely dress up in costume, they become their character. Ghoulish looking faces, frighteningly happy clowns, creepy life-like dolls and deadly zombies are all apart of the performance every weekend in October. The enthusiasm of the volunteers and the convincing sets are what makes this attraction so enormously thrilling.

Ultimately, what makes the Trail of Terror so unnerving is the fear of the unknown. Walking through The Trail is a mystery; you never know what awaits you around the corner.

Wayne Barneschi, the director and creator of The Trail of Terror said that it has improved each year, at what started out as a small attraction in Barneschi’s backyard. When asked about the birth of The Trail, Barneschi says that it’s been 18 years, and three years in his backyard before that.

This year has been claimed to be the best year yet, as The Trail of Terror gets new scenery every year.

“We get together and present new ideas around January to February. We take into account sight, smell and visually what really scares people. We strive to make it more of an experience than something you just look at.” says Barneschi. “We sold out just about every night.”

The Trail impressively acquires an abundance of customers every October and continues to grow with each year. The Trail of Terror brings nightmares to life and haunts guests that leave them coming back each year for more.