Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Well, it's almost that time again! Santa Claus is comin' to town! And before I go to sleep, to welcome visions of sugar plums to dance in my head, I thought I'd bring you all up to date of my Christmas season adventures, my latest appearance, and some exciting news!

As I look back upon the holiday season, I am glad to report that I finished my Christmas shopping early, well not early, but surely much sooner than some of the people whose gifts I wrapped at Borders today! I can't imagine the stress of waiting this long, but I suppose for some, the pressure is helpful! Just watching Jingle All the Way stresses me out! Anyway, as I was saying, today I had some holiday fun with Kaili, Shelby, Sue, and Gary, wrapping presents for last-minute gift-givers and Santas at Borders Bookstore at the Salmon Run Mall. The spirit of Christmas really shone through with each person who donated to our scholarship fund in exchange for a gift wrap! One little girl in particular really put us to work for a big hunk of change, literally, and really challenged our expert gift-wrapper Super Shelby with small items like packs of trading cards and even a rubber duck!

We even got to spend some quality time with Ann Walck Ianotta, Miss Thousand Islands 2005 & 2007 and her husband and Miss TI Pageant Stage Manager, Andrew. Oh, and we saw Leslie Stackel, my Zipper Master Hostess! We exchanged gifts with Sue and Shelby - I got an I <3 Miss NY t-shirt, and LOVE it. Actually, I'm going to go put that on with my new Christmas jammies! Thanks, ladies!

Now, for the exciting news! Drum roll please....I have chosen my song for talent, finally! I can't tell you what it is, of course, but I will tell you that it is going to be awesome!

And now, it's time to go watch some Friends and get to sleep early, because even though my brother and I are 16 and 20 years old, we somehow can't sleep much past 8 on Christmas! So, a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!!

Oh! And a very happy one year anniversary to my wonderful and supportive boyfriend, Tony! :-)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Footloose in Watertown!

Just saw this posted on 7News! If you're in the Watertown area this weekend, check it out!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh! The Places You'll Go

I'm sure many of you have read this poem before, but I wanted to share it anyway. While it is not between the whimsical, brightly colored cover of the Dr. Seuss book, the message in this children's poem, is profound to people of all ages. I am currently in a poetry course, and while browsing famous poems to read for a class assignment, I came across this piece, and although I had read it before, I really enjoyed and found meaning in it. So, here it is.

"Oh! The Places You'll Go!"
by Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction
you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know
what you know. And YOU are the
guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets.
Look’em over with care. About
some you will say, “I don’t choose to
go there.” With your head full of
brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down a not-
so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll
want to go down.In that case, of
course, you’ll head straight out of
town. It’s opener there in the wide
open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right
along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar
to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll
have the speed. You’ll pass the
whole gang and you’ll soon take the
lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be
best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s
true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly
perch. And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump. And the
chances are, then, that you’ll be in a

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re
not in for much fun. Un-slumping
yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the
streets are not marked. Some
windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could
sprain both your elbow and chin! Do
you dare to stay out? Do you dare to
go in? How much can you lose? How
much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left
or right…or right-and-three-
quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or
go around back and sneak in from
behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid
you will find, for a mind-maker-
upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll
start in to race down long wiggled
roads at a break-necking pace and
grind on for miles across weirdish
wild space, headed, I fear, toward a
most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to
come, or a plane to go or the mail to
come, or the rain to go or the phone
to ring, or the snow to snow or
waiting around for a Yes or No or
waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or
waiting for wind to fly a kite or
waiting around for Friday night or
waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle
Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better
Break or a string of pearls, or a pair
of pants or a wig with curls, or
Another Chance. Everyone is just

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that
waiting and staying. You’ll find the
bright places where Boom Bands
are playing. With banner flip-
flapping, once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun
to be done! There are points to be s
cored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do
with that ball will make you the
winning-est winner of all. Fame!
You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world
watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because,
sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll
play lonely games too. Games you
can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone
will be something you’ll be quite a

And when you’re alone, there’s a
very good chance you’ll meet things t
hat scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the
road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t
want to go on.

But on you will go though the
weather be foul. On you will go
though your enemies prowl. On you
will go though the Hakken-Kraks
howl. Onward up many a frightening
creek, though your arms may get
sore and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike. And I know
you’ll hike far and face up to your
problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as
you already know. You’ll get mixed
up with many strange birds as you
go. So be sure when you step. Step
with care and great tact and
remember that Life’s a Great
Balancing Act. Just never forget to
be dexterous and deft. And never
mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or
Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van
Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On a cold December evening...

...Kaili & I rode in a convertible. It had to have been below 20 degrees in Clayton last night for the Clayton Christmas Parade but as we rode, #46, behind a trailered boat lit up with Christmas lights, "driven" by a large inflatable nutcracker, we sang with Shelby's Christmas mix, bundled up atop Gary & Sue's convertible, waving, throwing candy, and wishing the hundreds of people Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas. Now, I have been in the holiday spirit for a while now, turning on my Pandora Christmas station, full volume, as my roommates and I get ready in the morning and decorating our entire apartment, complete with a mini Christmas tree. Anyway, this parade was so exciting and if it is possible, made me even more excited to be celebrating the Christmas season! There were some awesome floats - from what I saw, I have to say I really liked the mini Thousand Islands Bridge, all lit up, and the Coyote Moon Winery float. Despite the cold air and long waits, I really enjoyed myself and now, even more than ever, I am ready for the holidays!

Here's a link to a video of the parade featuring my two favorite floats and Kaili & I!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

For those of you reading this from a screen in the Thousand Islands, were you one of the many spectators lining Washington Street in Watertown today for the annual Christmas Parade? If you were, did you spot Kaili & I riding in Sue & Gary's awesome convertible PT cruiser? It was so great to see the parade from our perspective - in the middle of it all - seeing the excited children, ready for the holidays and of course, Santa. Personally, I think that we were ALMOST as exciting as Santa. As we rode down Washington Street, children, young and old, shouted, "it's Miss Thousand Islands" and "look at the princesses!". I have to say, the most difficult part of this (I know, what can be difficult about riding in a parade?) was the candy throwing. It seems pretty easy, but there is a lot to think about - don't hit the people, look graceful, get it close to the sidewalk, etc.

With Mayor Graham before the parade started!

With Sheriff John Burns - a little closer to moving!

More pictures to come!

Now, it's back to the grind. I just arrived at my apartment in Ithaca after a two and a half hour drive from Chaumont. I have to admit, I'm really not ready to go back to classes tomorrow after a 10 day vacation. But, I guess I really don't have much of a choice. Luckily, most of my big projects are almost completed, and there isn't much left to do. I'm already so excited for Winter Break, even though I have to take two classes! Even though the holiday season has officially begun, it always feels more holiday-ish at home, than it does at school. Anyway, on my way down to Ithaca tonight, I noticed so many houses decorated with lights, Santa Claus statues, and reindeer. There is one house in particular that was not only decked out for Christmas, but is ALWAYS showing holiday spirit, for EVERY holiday, covering their front lawn with hundreds of decorations. Tonight, I noticed flashing Christmas lights, of every color, and several Santas and reindeer and snowmen. That said, we obviously all have our own ways of celebrating and getting in the holiday spirit - whatever your holiday may be - but I got to thinking, what is it that inspired the most common Christmas traditions like putting up lights, a tree, buying presents, etc.? Some may be more obvious than others, but I decided to do some research and I want to share it with you.

Origin of Christmas Traditions:

I couldn't find much about where the tradition of hanging Christmas lights began, but I like to believe that they represent the bright North star that led the shepherds and Three Kings to the manger on the night when Jesus Christ was born.

The Wreath, now a common decoration that is hung on doors, comes from the belief that the crown of thorns placed on Jesus Christ's head was made of holly, and that the berries, originally white, turned red from the blood. Also, evergreen is said to represent eternal life because it does not die or go brown in the winter.

Mistletoe comes from a pagan tradition during the celebration of winter solstice.

Christmas Trees have been said to also be a pagan tradition, however there is some Christian reasoning behind why we put up a fir tree. Whether your tree is freshly cut, purchased from the local tree farm, or assembled from three pieces, creating the illusion of a perfect tree, it is said that the triangular shape of the fir tree, and probably the belief that evergreen represents eternal life, inspired the tradition of Christmas trees. According to an online article, "In Germany during the 7th century, a dedicated monk went to spread God’s word. In order to simplify the Holy Trinity, a fundamental tenet of Christian faith, for new converts he compared it to a Fir tree and its triangular shape. New converts he encountered began to associate the tree with God. This association gained popularity, and five-hundred years later, the custom of displaying trees during the Christmas season became widespread."

What are your Christmas traditions?

In my house, probably the biggest Christmas tradition is something that my mom does. A top-secret recipe for homemade caramels, passed down from my mom's grandmother, is brought to life each Christmas season. Throughout the month of December, several square sheets of caramels are cut into hundreds of bite-size buttery drops of goodness, and wrapped individually in squares of wax paper. When we were little, my mom was able to make the caramel wrapping into a game, but as we have gotten older we have realized that it is a chore. Nonetheless, somehow the majority of caramels get wrapped and given to friends and family - something that is now anticipated. It's a busy season for our family this year, so I offered to help make the caramels, knowing that I will someday have the privilege of making them myself.

So, as we approach this holiday season, whether you are celebrating the first night of Hanukkah this week, or bringing out your advent calendar, remember the reasons behind the things we do to celebrate.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving ABCs

A little late on this, but I want to wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving and an on-time Happy Black Friday! Last night, after a HUGE and delicious dinner of the Turkey day works, I was thinking about everything that I have to be thankful for. I am so blessed with an amazing and supportive family, boyfriend, and friends (who are like my family), I have also been given this wonderful opportunity to be Miss Thousand Islands - a journey that I have only partially traveled thus far, but one that I am SO thankful to have. I thought I would jazz up my thanks a little bit with some Thanksgiving ABCs!

A - Aspen (my GIANT Alaskan Malamute & German Shepherd "puppy")
B - Being Miss Thousand Islands
C- Church & Spirituality
D - Dad
E - Eating
F - Friends
G - Grandparents (Bee, Bud, & Nan)
H - House
I - Ithaca College
J - Jobs
K- Knowledge
L - Lyme Community Foundation/Theatre, for helping to make my ideas and dreams reality
M - Mom
N- Nature
O - Opportunities that I have been afforded
P - Pageant Family (Shelby, Sue, Gary, and everyone else!)
Q - Q is hard, but if you flip the letter upside down, it looks kind of like an Apple - so, my Macbook Pro
R - Roommates
S - Skyler, my little brother
T - Tony, my boyfriend
U - Uggs
V- Voice (Singing)
W - Water - that we drink AND play in
X - Xcellence
Y - You all - my readers & supporters

For the above and so much more, I am thankful. Remember to think about thanks, and that not everyone can say they are thankful for the things we sometimes take for granted like food, water, shelter, and clothing.

Enjoy your Black Friday and the beginning of the Holiday season! :-)

Good Ol' LCS

In June 2008, I graduated from what I thought was the smallest and most drama-filled, yet BEST school, Lyme Central School. When I tell people that I graduated with a class of 40, one of the largest in Lyme history, and attended a school that is Pre-K - 12 with less than 500 students total, their jaws fall to the floor. It's not often that students know most everyone in their school, including at least 50% of the elementary - because they are either relatives, relatives of relatives, or your best friend's younger sibling. It's even more rare for faculty and staff to greet each student by name in the halls, whether they've had you in class or not. Even though I sometimes wished that I went to a bigger school with more opportunities to foster my passion for theatre and music, I look back at my years at LCS and could not ask for a better educational AND social experience.

Now, I lay here on my couch, blogging about the two days earlier this week spent with Pre-K - 5, 6 - 8, and a small group of seniors at Lyme. So much has changed at the school and navigating the small school, now undergoing construction, with classroom swaps was very surreal. I suppose you could say it was a bit nostalgic to be back in the halls of my alma mater, especially the elementary wing, and almost strange to see how much is different. Nonetheless, I am elated for the current students, especially the young ones who have many years to come at Lyme, who, as a result of the physical changes, will benefit greatly educationally.

When I was asked to visit Lyme as Miss Thousand Islands, I was so flattered and excited. I always enjoy going back to Lyme for visits with many of my influential teachers, some who I can now call friends. It means a lot to me to know that I am seen as someone who is both credible and inspiring, and so much so that I would be asked to speak to students.

Starting with an 8th grade English class Monday morning, I kicked off my visit to Lyme by talking to middle schoolers about bullying. Although this is not my platform, the school asked me to address this topic due to the recent tragedies caused by bullying. Thanks to Claire Buffie (Miss NY '10) for giving me some ideas for these presentations! We talked about bullying and the different types, and realized that at one point in time we had all been bullied or been the bully. So many insightful and thoughtful comments were made by the students and even I learned a great deal about what bullying means to the students, especially in middle school. Fortunately, because Lyme is so small and so is its hometown, Chaumont, the students said they hadn't experienced any serious acts of bullying. It was interesting however, that during an activity that required the students to split into groups, the teacher and I witness something that could probably be called quiet bullying. As their teacher split the 8th graders into cooperative learning groups, we noticed that certain students would complain that they did not want to work with a certain other student. Because many of the students were saying things under their breath about having to work with someone who they do not like, it was not immediately evident to me that anything was wrong. However, the teacher and I discussed this with the class and I think even they were stunned that this is a kind of bullying. Luckily, the activity was flexible, and I was able to alter the way that it would work, ceasing to split the remaining classes into groups, and rather working as a united group to brainstorm and complete the activity. Overall, I think that my presentation was very effective with most of the students, and I hope that discussing this topic openly will have a positive impact on their interactions between one another and on the school as a whole.

After lunch on Monday, I was scheduled to speak to a very small group of seniors - 8 to be exact, only 5 showed up. Having been warned that the group would probably be smaller than normal, and also because I am familiar with many of the seniors, I decided to make my talk with them very informal, focused on what is important to them, while sticking to the topic that the school had requested - civic responsibilities ( as Miss Thousand Islands). I was hoping to get some of the girls pumped up about getting involved with pageantry, but their turned out to be only one female student, and the boys certainly weren't interested in hearing about pageantry. Regardless of the size of the class and the lack of interest in the topic, I think it was nice to just have a conversation with them, and I think that even though most of the students seemed to lack enthusiasm, they really enjoyed telling me what was important to them and their ideas to implement their interests and passions into their community.

Tuesday was my day to visit all of the elementary classrooms. I knew that the younger students would be more responsive, with more questions or stories to share with me. I have to admit, I was a little nervous but also excited to meet the kids! Anyway, with my mom's help (she is a teacher), we prepared two character education 'lessons', one for the younger grades, and another for the older. I had a crazy schedule - visiting an entire grade each period, with the exception of two. I started out in kindergarten where I read "Rainbow Fish", answered many questions, and mostly listened to what the young students had to say. Things like, "my cousin is in college", when the teacher told the students that I am in college, or "I have a dinosaur toy." At the end of the visit, I put on my crown and took a picture with the whole kindergarten and left autographs for each class, something I did for every grade. I visited 5th grade next, and as we ended a little early, the entire class wanted to try on the crown. The rest of the day was very fun, with unique students, questions, and happenings in each grade. In the 2nd grade, I joined the class in song while they practiced their holiday concert songs, "Let there be Peace on Earth" and "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth." I remember singing the latter when I was in elementary school, but I was a little rusty on the words. They sounded great though! My second to last stop for the day was Pre-K, who was in the middle of nap time when I arrived. As they all circled up on The Rug, I was astonished at their tiny size. So cute! Some of them must have only been 3 - still just babies! Nonetheless, when I asked them what they learned in school, without prompt they sang the Alphabet Song in unison - wish I had that on tape!

All in all, it was a really fun two days during which I actually learned a lot. As some of you may know, I am currently a 3rd year senior at Ithaca College, majoring in communications. I decided recently to pursue a Masters degree in Childhood Education, beginning the program next fall. Although I am already a substitute teacher and swim instructor, I realized some of the challenges AND rewards that come from not just teaching, but spending time with students. A big thanks to Lyme Central and all of their students and teachers for inviting me to come!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A2O Environmental

Thanks to my cousin Juan, I am now aware of this great cause and non profit organization - A2O Environmental. I recommend that you check out their Facebook page at and their website According to their Facebook,

"A2O Environmental is a non-profit organization that utilizes local community resources to educate residents of our fragile coral reef ecosystems. Providing a hands-on approach to lowering community emissions is another one of our goals coupled with reducing the nation's carbon footprint as a whole. Along with rainforests, coral reefs are the most diverse ecosystems in the world. They make up the foundation of the food chains in our oceans. Just as trees in our forest's and jungles, coral produces oxygen and are crucial for the survival of fauna in our oceans. Our plan is to procreate change in the way we handle these natural gold mines by raising awareness amongst boaters, divers, and others in close contact with coral reefs. If we can save our reefs, maybe we can save our planet too."

I remember when I vacationed in St. Croix, it was my parent's second time visiting, and we were going snorkeling. They had snorkeled when they were in St. Croix 25 years earlier and my dad was excited to do it again. He described the coral reef to be brightly colored - red, purple, green, blue, yellow. His expectations were not met, and the realization that in less than three decades a reef can die was so disheartening. The message and purpose of this organization is one to keep in mind no matter where you live.

Nice work, Juan! :-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Just a quick update to congratulate two new members of the Miss New York Class of 2011 - MIss Staten Island 2011, Maria DeSantis, and Miss Richmond County 2011, Amanda Lee Alicea! Also, I somehow missed the Miss Brooklyn 2011 pageant - so I would also like to congratulate Christina Moore, Miss Brooklyn 2011 and also Carmen Mendoza, Miss Kings County 2011! It's a good thing for Facebook!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Appearances, appearances, appearances!

One of several fantastic and exciting things about being Miss Thousand Islands is being able to make appearances. As many of my pageant sisters know, a great deal of these appearances include parades and community events. Additionally, the other portion of appearances are platform based and fundraisers for either Children's Miracle Network or the scholarship fund, in my case the Miss Thousand Islands Scholarship Fund.

I try very hard to update my blog about all appearances, and keep you all posted about upcoming events. While 'appearances' could be construed as titleholders walking around with their crown and sash, just being seen, signing autographs and taking pictures, there is really more to it than that.

If you have ever looked at a Miss America style tiara closely, you know that there are four distinct points, making the crown very different than those of the other pageant systems. The Four Points of the Crown each stand for a character trait that is to be emulated by the woman wearing the crown. They are: Scholarship, Service, Style, Success. While knowing these four points is really great for an interview, the importance truly lies in the meaning and implementation of each word. Thanks to our crown sponsor, Waterbury Jewelers, I have a beautiful crown to wear and represent the four points.

Appearances happen to fall under Service. All Miss America titleholders, local, state, and Miss America herself, participate in, as I said, several appearances through her year of service. Although there is usually lots of photo ops and signing autographs, the title holder is usually present at an event as a way of showing dedication to her community.

So far this year, my service has included having a pink streak in my hair to support breast cancer research at the Ritz Spa & Salon in Watertown, an event that benefitted the American Cancer Society, helping out at the Lyme Community Foundation's Chaumont Harvest Festival at the Copley House, and last Saturday I was the Keynote Speaker at the North Country Arts Council Art Show.

Today, we helped to raise money for the Miss Thousand Islands scholarship fund at the Bon Ton Community Days at the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown. The Community Days in a one-day event at the Bon Ton during which local organizations are placed throughout the store and sell coupon books, $5 each, with all the proceeds going to their particular organization. Sue, Kaili, and I got a table right in the front of the store, and trying our hardest to be strategic salespeople, we ventured outside of the store front, catching the shoppers' eyes with our crowns. We were only there for an hour, but surpassed our goal, and raised even more than last year. I'm not sure of our final total, but nonetheless our sometimes intimidating and awkward efforts asking each passerby to purchase a coupon book, some of them trying to take one without paying, worth well worth it. Our very first sale was to an individual who was obviously a well-seasoned shopper. Before purchasing a booklet, she looked through the store to make sure she was going to get a deal - I thought this was smart, and something I would probably do myself. Anyway, she came back to purchase a booklet, and went on her way...or so we thought. After she had left, my kindergarden teacher, one of the nicest people on this planet, came to say hello and although she had already purchased a coupon book, she spent another $5 and gave the coupon book to me. I had set it down on the table while I was talking to her and as she walked away I noticed our smart shopper was back, looking through a coupon book trying to make sure she was getting the best deal. Noticing that mine was gone, I assumed hers was buried deep in her purse and she was just using my for reference. Anyway, I went to greet another customer and when I cam back, the booklet was gone and so was the woman! I couldn't believe it! Well, it is what it is, and I probably wouldn't have used it anyway, but it saddened me to know that after such a giving person had spent extra money to support our organization, that someone else would take extra coupons for herself. Personally, I just give her the benefit of the doubt that she truly needed the booklet, and she would use it anyway, or maybe that she accidentally took it with her. But with all of the holiday spirit among the shoppers in the mall and the decorations, this was an experience that reminded me of what truly matters in life. Today, I saw that importance of service as something that actually matters.

As I approach these next few weeks, I am faced with a busy schedule, but the scents of Thanksgiving and knowing that soon, I will be home for five weeks for Winter Break - which also mean Christmas, my stress is eased a bit. Aside from my busy schedule at school, my Miss Thousand Islands schedule is equally as busy, but much more exciting!

November 22 & 23 - Speaking to grades 1- 5, 6 - 8, and 12, at Lyme Central School on various topics including my platform, the four points of the crown, service in particular, and anti-bullying/building confidence
November 28 - Christmas Parade in Watertown, NY
December 4 - Christmas Parade in Clayton, NY
December 18 - Holiday House Tour in Chaumont, NY to benefit the Lyme Community Foundation
December 24 - Wrapping Gifts at Borders in the Salmon Run Mall, Watertown, NY

If your organization would like to schedule an appearance, you should contact Sue Pilon, my executive director!

Lastly, I wanted to let you know about an ongoing fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network, which is an official partner with the Miss American Organization. In order to compete in Miss America pageants at the local, state, and national level, contestants must raise a minimum dollar amount, based on the level of competition, for CMN. In the past, I held a basketball tournament to raise money for this amazing cause. This year, I am planning another great fundraiser, but in the meantime, I will be using an online profile to collect donations. To visit my profile, to learn more, and to make a donation, please visit:

I'll keep you updated about my progress and when I have more details about a physical fundraiser.

Thanks for reading! Now I'm off to a birthday dinner for my little brother Sky, who just turned 16, at Texas Roadhouse - a family favorite!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy & Healthy Holiday Eating

I just received an e-mail from the American Heart Association with information on how to avoid gaining weight and staying healthy over the holidays and I wanted to share some of the advice, and add some of my own. In preparing for Miss New York, I knew it was necessary to really pay close attention to everything that I intake in order to get in shape and maintain a healthy weight, in addition to exercise.

I know I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner, and special appetizers served at parties throughout the holiday season all year long, and I'm sure most of you do, too. It's not a matter of self-control, but I believe this desire for delicious food is something that is engrained in us, and if it's just me, (Big Hungry) Shelby knows what I mean. But as I learn to fight these temptations and prepare for cravings for crescent rolls, ham & cheese pastry, homemade mashed potatoes, Christmas cookies, and my favorite, Pumpernickel dill dip...yum. I'll be the last person to tell you to avoid these and other delicacies of similar deliciousness, but I do know it is important to our health and physicality, to know how to enjoy these as a treat, in lesser portions.

So, I have developed a list of guidelines that I challenge you all to follow, based on tips and information from the American Heart Association and the South Beach Diet (eating lifestyle).

1) From the AHA, eat healthy and filling snacks before you leave your house. When you get to the party, don't head straight for the food table, but get a drink, non-alcoholic, and that will help you to feel full, and less inclined to mingle with the snacks rather than the people. But of course, it would be impolite to completely avoid the food, which someone probably slaved over by your host for hours, so remember to sample a little of what looks to be more satisfying.

2) Exercise. If you live in Northern New York, or any part of the Northeast, you know that the snow is a common excuse to hunker down with a blanket and relax on the couch, essentially hibernating. As we learned in elementary school, when bears hibernate that sleep all of winter, they get fat so that they can live without food for the length of winter. Anyway, we don't want that. Here are some exercise ideas to warm you up and burn calories and Christmas cookies:

- I'm a ZUMBA instructor, so I'm biased, but it's an awesome workout! As they say, "lose the workout, join the party!" It's so much fun you forget you are working out. Check with your local gym or in community centers to find classes in your area. Or visit! If you live near Chaumont, check out my winter classes in Three Mile Bay! :-)

- Get a gym membership! A month at the YMCA is usually less than $50, and totally worth it. A wide variety of machines and workout classes to choose from. Tip: Get a gym buddy to keep you motivated and dedicated to your regime.

- If you prefer working out alone, not in public, try workout tapes. They can be very effective if you stick to them. Personally, I do best with motivation from others.

- When you do indulge, because that is OK once in a while, especially if you are working out daily, you should remember some tips:

1) Whole wheat is better than white. Anything starchy, especially baked goods and other treats made with flour, are loaded with carbs. Try to eat whole wheat, and use whole wheat flour, when possible. (South Beach)

2) Sugars - you know the rule. Not too much! Things like sugar free jell-o or treats made with Splenda have less calories, carbs, and sugars. (South Beach)

3) Be a label reader! If you have access to the labels of what you are about to eat, check them out. When looking at ingredients, I always look for words that are hard to read or pronounce. My roommate told me the other day, "If your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't eat it!" Obviously it is hard to avoid these things all the time, and I like the saying, "everything in moderation."

4) For those of you who are 21 and older, keep in mind that not only are there many empty calories in alcohol (remember to avoid ALL empty calories, in food, too!), but it can also make you hungrier and more likely to make poor eating decisions. (Also from AHA)

- Lastly, if you want to lose a few pounds for the holiday season, I personally recommend the South Beach Diet (not really a DIET). Read the book! It's easy, written by a doctor and approved by other doctors, healthy, and effective! And of course, ZUMBA is a great workout! :-)

I hope this advice is useful and helpful and I strongly encourage you all to think about eating, while still enjoying those special treats!

Before I go, I would like to extend an HUGE thank you to our troops, and our veterans. My grandfather is a veteran of WWII and my cousins and I have been lucky enough to hear lots of war stories from him. He has accomplished so much in addition to his success as a performer. Watch the video below to see him!

Also, I want to wish my little brother Sky, a very HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY! :-)

Alright, that's all for now!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What a weekend!

I admit it - I am watching the pageant DVD for the second time today. Ok - I didn't actually watch the entire thing yet, but I am a little obsessed. Thanks to Juliann Schindler for an awesome memoir and a great resource! As I watch, I am looking for my strengths and weaknesses as a contestant, while enjoying the pageant like an audience member, something I rarely get to do. If you would like to order your own copy, check out the Miss Thousand Islands website for more information! It's definitely worth it, and the proceeds of course benefit the scholarship fund. Ok, enough about the DVD - onto my weekend!

Well, my weekend started prematurely when I had to be picked up and taken home from school by my dad, due to a case of what Jess Renzi might call the 'plague'. After four days of sleep, I was up bright and early on Saturday morning for a full day of Miss TI happenings and pageant family reunions. The day started out with a breakfast meeting at the Clubhouse, during which I guzzled hot tea for my sore throat, while we discussed the Alphabet of Pageant Prep - something Shelby, Sue, and Corri invented to efficiently run our meeting, without forgetting anything. It was really helpful to me because I was able to take each pointer and bit of advice, process it, and then prepare for the next. Afterwards, we headed back to Sue's for a quick pit stop before meeting up with April McClintock to see proofs from my photo shoot! So exciting! I have been looking forward to this for weeks, especially after seeing the two teasers on April's Facebook page, but I have to say, I think Shelby and my mom were even more excited. The pictures all turned out wonderful, and I just want to thank April again for her creative eye and for working with us! The photos are truly fabulous. Sorry to say, you'll have to wait to see them! :-) Once we were done looking at the pictures, we visited with Kathy Lettiere at A Touch of Grace, our gown sponsor, for some preliminary dress shopping! Even though I was feeling a little tired and under the weather, I was more than happy to try on every dress that we laid eyes on. I will say that we found at least two dresses/styles/colors that are on our list of potential evening gowns! Wooo! Now, I could probably dress shop all day long, but Saturday night was my first big speaking event, and I still needed preparation, so we headed home. I have to add here, that when we left the shop, it was SNOWING! :-)

Alright, on to the big event! Because my platform deals with the importance of the arts, Jess Renzi, former Miss New York State, and resident of Watertown, had contacted me soon after I was crowned with an awesome opportunity to team up with the North Country Arts Council. I was elated when I was asked to speak at their Fall Art Show on the importance of arts in community. For me, this is a topic very close to my heart. We were invited to attend the reception prior to the awards ceremony, which is when I would speak. I was lucky enough to be able to check out all of the artwork on display in the State Office Building and meet and greet with some of the other guests before going on stage to speak. The speech went very well, and it was a great learning experience overall. I was really happy to have the opportunity to demonstrate my public speaking skills while talking about something that is so important to me. Thank you to Jessica Renzi, Kari Robertson, and the North Country Arts Council.

Before I go, I would like to give a quick shout out to all of my pageant sisters who just appeared on the DVD - yes I am still, watching. The famous Irish Step Dancing Walck's are doing their thing, so until next time!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Break

Hi everyone! I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend - I know I did! At Ithaca College, we don't get Columbus Day off but we do get a long weekend called Fall Break. It's always such a nice break after the craziness of midterms (waiting to see my grades still!!!). As most of you know, I always seem to be busy, with school or work or other obligations, so as you can imagine, my break was not necessarily relaxing, but still very fun! Over the weekend I had my photo shoot with April McClintock (sneak peek to follow below!!!), added some pink to my blonde hair for a great cause, and spent quality time with family, friends, and Tony, on my downtime.

The Photo Shoot

I was so anxious for this appointment - excited, but a little nervous. I spent all of Thursday night consulting with Shelby, and packing outfits, shoes, and accessories for the big day. By the end of my packing spree, I had stuffed at least 30 dresses, including evening, cocktail, and casual 'shopping' dresses, into two garment bags, and everything else into the largest suitcase I could find (so big that I bet I could fit inside of it, when it is empty of course). And I still felt like I was forgetting something. Anyway, I woke up early on Friday for a hair and make-up appointment with Rosie at the Ritz Spa and Salon in Watertown, one of our sponsors. Rosie has done work for some of April's other clients before and I typically go to Rosie for my regular hair appointments, so I felt confident that she would make me look and feel my very best. I headed to April's studio located in the Paddock Arcade on the Square in Watertown, and lugged my suitcase and garment bags in, in the rain, all while wearing heels, to her beautifully unique and creative studio. Luckily, my hair only suffered a little from the rain, and I put my trust in April and her assistant to assure that I looked great in the photos. My mom was unable to be at the photo shoot, and fortunately, Shelby was able to come from Binghamton to the studio to be with me and help with everything. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend April as a photographer for anyone looking for portraits or photographs to be done. She is so creative and very fun to be around. She made me feel so special and this truly helped the success of the shoot. Thanks again to April McClintock, our photo sponsor for Miss Thousand Islands! Visit her website at
or on Facebook. FINALLY, below is a sneak peak of the photo shoot! I can't wait to see the rest on November 6! Enjoy!

Didn't she do a beautiful job???

Saturday was also very exciting for the Miss Thousand Islands family! Kaili, Miss Thousand Islands Outstanding Teen, and I had pink streak extensions put in our hair at the Ritz Spa and Salon to support Breast Cancer Awareness and Research. This is something that the Ritz has been doing since September, and it has been a huge hit! So far, they have raised over $34,000 for the American Cancer Society. As much fun as it is to have pink in our hair, it is important to remember why the pink is there in the first place! So many people are affected by breast cancer, and cancer in general, and I applaud the ladies at the Ritz Salon for what they are doing to help! Check out their website for more information -

Shelby crowns Sherri Munson, one of the owners of the Ritz!

Sherri puts the pink extension in - only takes a few minutes!

Voilá! Sherri and me with the pink streak!

Me and Cindy, the other owner of the Ritz!

Kaili and me!

Kaili and I pose with Sherri and Cindy, owners of the Ritz, one of our sponsors. :-)

Pretty in Pink at the Ritz!

Other highlights included lunch at a new franchise restaurant in Watertown, the Tilted Kilt, with Shelby, where I got to take part in her food review for her blog, and enjoyed a delicious French (they mean Irish) Dip Sandwich, one of my favorites! I was able to attend my younger brother Sky's last in-season soccer game - their team is #1 in their league, and 4th in their section! This is really exciting because when I was in high school, my soccer team took the title of State Champs for our Division, so it would be really cool if Sky's team went that far as well! Good luck, boys! I also supported Sky at the First Frost AIDS Walk at Thompson Park in Watertown on Sunday. Sky was there walking as a part of a health class he takes, and it was really neat to see how excited the walkers and runners were to be part of such a powerful event! If I had known about this event in advance, I would have liked to run! Other than that, I enjoyed Mom-cooked meals, a few new movies, being able to see my friends and boyfriend, and of course, ZUMBA!

Upcoming happenings...

November 6, as I mentioned earlier, is the day I go to see the rest of my photos, and also my first interview practice session at the Clubhouse. Also, I have been asked to speak on the Importance of the Arts in Community at a North Country Arts Council event! This is really exciting as I have never had this kind of opportunity before and I am looking forward to talking about my platform, which involves the importance of the arts, and about my involvement in the Lyme Community Theatre.

On November 13, we have the Care and Share Event at the Bon-Ton as a part of their Community Days. This also sounds like it will be a fun day and a great fundraiser for the Miss Thousand Islands Pageant!

And finally, on November 19, I will be traveling home for Thanksgiving Break! I absolutely love Thanksgiving - the food, the start of the holiday season (still debating whether I will try Black Friday again this year...), and a break from school! This year, I have decided to run in the Turkey Day Run, aka the Turkey Trot! I will be doing the 5K race with my brother and friend Terra. I hope some of you will consider joining me! I enjoy running and I think that this will be a great motivator and help me in my journey to the Miss New York State Pageant, not to mention, I won't feel as guilty for eating seconds, I mean thirds, at Thanksgiving dinner!

That's all for now - thanks for reading!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday, Monday, Monday.

TGIM?! It’s another rainy Monday in Ithaca, and I’m battling sleepiness with Pumpkin Spice coffee, and trying to focus on my classes despite being extremely distracted by my excitement for this weekend! I would like to remind everyone that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and to support research, Miss Thousand Islands Outstanding Teen, Kaili Schindler, and I will be having pink extensions put in our hair Saturday, October 16, at 9:30am (we have had a few date mix-ups, but as far as I know, this is correct) at the Ritz Day Spa and Salon. We are both very much looking forward to this experience not only because we will get to have pink in our hair, but also because the proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. So many of us have been effected in some way by this disease and it is important to do our part and work towards a cure. Last Wednesday, two of my best friends lost their mother after a three-year battle with cancer. Although her particular case was not breast cancer, I will be thinking of her and her family while I get my pink streaks. I invite you to join Kaili and I on Saturday the 16th , or any time this month in the fight against cancer. Below is a link to a video from WWNYTV 7 News with more information.

After ‘going pink’, I will be attending the Fall Festival at the Copley House in Chaumont. The annual celebration of autumn is hosted by the Lyme Community Foundation and began about a decade ago, shortly after my mom founded the not for profit organization. For me, the fall festival has become a tradition and I am very excited to attend this year as Miss Thousand Islands 2011, especially because I am the first Miss Thousand Islands from Chaumont. Another Chaumont titleholder, Miss Ireland 2010, Brittany Sharlow, may also be in attendance. There will be food and games, and much more – I hope to see you there!

The series of events doesn’t stop there, though. Saturday afternoon is my high school cheerleading coach’s wedding! I’m really looking forward to seeing old friends and celebrating Coach Mo’s special day. Congratulations to her and her soon-to-be husband! ☺

After the wedding, I’ll be heading to IHC to watch my younger brother, Sky, in his under the lights soccer game against IHC. My brother is so very dedicated to his team and to the sport, and is one of the most driven players I have seen. This is his first year on varsity, and because I am away at school, it isn’t very often that I get to see him play. He definitely was blessed with the athletic gene! Go Lyme!

The busy weekend will end with a relaxing Sunday, a drive back to Ithaca, only to turn around and come back for Fall Break on Wednesday. That’s all for now!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Autumn!

Hello everyone! I hope you are all finding a way to enjoy the first day of fall. It's true, yesterday was the last official day of summer. It truly was a wonderful summer full of sunny weather and personally, I had many accomplishments including successfully re-launching the Lyme Community Theatre and playing Cinderella in the summer musical (a dream come true) and of course, being crowned Miss Thousand Islands 2011 (also a dream com true). I also had a really great job working with kids, instructing swim lessons, and spending the majority of my day in the sun, on the water, which contributed to a great tan...for the most part - one piece swimsuits don't make for the best pageant tans! Anyway, as I reflect on the summer of 2010, it really brings a smile to my face to think of all the wonderful, simple memories I made with my friends, family, and boyfriend. As you have probably gathered, I feel so very blessed to have had such amazing, life changing experiences, and a really fun summer overall. Thank you to all who were part of it!

So, we begin fall, on a rainy day here in Ithaca, which I like to call lazy days. Lazy days call for rain boots and warm, comfortable clothing. In the past couple of weeks I have been busy with schoolwork, of course, but also with planning some special things for Miss Thousand Islands - my photo shoot with my photo sponsor, April McClintock, and a mini-event with Miss Thousand Islands Outstanding Teen, Kaili Schindler! I am so excited for both and will tell you a little bit more below...

First of all, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to April McClintock for sponsoring my photos, which include state head shots and of course some really fun and creative shots in beautiful outfits. I am really looking forward to the shoot and seeing the ideas that April, Shelby, Sue, my mom, and I have come up with come to life! I think that it is going to be a really fun day and I can't wait! The shoot is scheduled for October 15, during my fall break. My hair and make up will be done by Rosie at the Ritz!

I will share photos when I have them!

Visit April's website:

Also coming to the Ritz Salon in October...

On October 16, Kaili and I will be having pink extensions put in our hair to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are both extremely excited about this! This is a month long event that the Ritz is holding, so consider getting your pink streak. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. It's a great cause that is close to many people's hearts. I firmly believe in showing support for causes like this, especially in such a unique way! Plus, we love pink!

Check out the Ritz Day Spa and Salon's website for more information!

Now, to back track a last post was all about my birthday plans and so I thought I should tell you about my birthday weekend! My 20th birthday weekend kicked off with a dinner at Chili's with my roommates and friends. I drove home on Friday and spent the afternoon with Tony (and opened my present!), and then we joined my family including my cousin, Kelly, for dinner at my house. Saturday started bright and early at the Clubhouse in Watertown where my mom and I met Shelby and Sue for my first breakfast meeting. We discussed all sorts of things including appearances, photos, and pageant prep over a delicious comfort food breakfast. Yum! After breakfast, my mom and I spent the morning and early afternoon after the Burrville Cider Mill, one of my favorite places in the world and Nothern New York's 'best kept secret', and birthday shopping! As much fun as it was, I was sick with a bad cold, so I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon on the couch, watching TV with Tony. I do have to mention that he made me a really great lunch and took extra special care of me! That night we celebrated with a birthday cake made by my mom - Lemon Raspberry Cake with homemade whipped cream frosting (the same birthday cake I had on my first birthday). Determined to overcome my illness, especially on my birthday weekend, I pushed myself to have a fun night - and even though I spent a lot of it on the couch (again), I did see some friends that night! Sunday was ZUMBA day! My mom woke me up that morning, very early, and brought me to the dining room that was decorated with balloons and I opened a present - ZUMBA gear! As you can imagine, I was super excited to ZUMBA my birthday away, but with the cold, I wasn't as chipper as I usually am. Nonetheless, my friend Ashley Lothrop (A-Lo) and I worked very hard that day and after almost 7 hours of ZUMBA, we left as licensed ZUMBA instructors! I have been doing lots of ZUMBA and will start to work on choreography soon - I hope to have my own classes over Winter Break, and I hope to see many of you there!!! After 7 hours of ZUMBA, I was ready to I enjoyed my mom's creamy shrimp pesto and two types of birthday cake - leftovers from the Lemon Raspberry cake and a colorful and delicious ice cream cake from Tony. Then, we of course, opened more presents, relaxed and talked the rest of the night. Overall, it was a fabulous 20th birthday, sick or not! Quick fun fact...did you know that Sue (my ED) and I share the same birthday? And that Shelby's is the 16th, just a few days after? :-)

Oh, and I can't forget to thank Lillian of Lillian's Alterations on Arsenal Street in Watertown for a special birthday present - a $300 gift certificate for alterations for my state wardrobe. This is so wonderful of her and I really appreciate it!

That's all for now! Thanks for reading.


Thursday, September 9, 2010


Hi everyone! Sorry it has been so long since my last post - it's been a busy couple of weeks! Now that I have some free time before work in the Journalism Department, I have a few things I'd like to share with you.

Last weekend, I received and e-mail from an Ithacan writer. The Ithacan is a student-run publication at Ithaca College. The writer told me that she was doing a story on pageants for the widely read newspaper. Thanks to my pageant sister, Lauren Crandall, for giving her my name! :-) Naturally, I was very excited, and after consulting with Shelby and Sue, I agreed to be interviewed. Earlier this morning I met with the writer and we had a really nice conversation about pageantry, my experience in pageants, within the Miss America system, benefits of pageantry, how I became involved in Miss Thousand Islands and others, and of course, one of the questions was, 'What did it feel like when that crown was put on your head???" While it was really nice to flash back to my crowning moment and share with her how ecstatic and shocked I was (remember the face? :-O), I really enjoyed being able to tell her what pageants are really like - not Drop Dead Gorgeous, even though I (and Corri Dartnell) love this movie! We talked about my talent, too - NOT lip syncing to "Don't Cry Out Loud". Anyway, I am really excited to read the article and I hope that it will help to show what a wonderful experience pageants are, and I hope it will encourage other girls to participate in pageants as a way to gain scholarship money and of course, friends and fond memories. I made sure to express to the writer all of my skills that have been improved through pageantry as well, such as public speaking, self confidence, self expression, and so much more. Did I mention there's a photo shoot??? So excited for that! I'll keep you all updated on that and make sure to post a link to the online article!

Other than that, I will attend my first breakfast meeting with Shelby, Sue, and Gary this weekend and I am really looking forward to that...especially breakfast! :-) Unfortunately, the Miss Italia Pageant has been postponed, but I am looking forward to appearing at the pageant, hopefully next month. Oh and there is another very important date this weekend - MY BIRTHDAY!!! On Sunday, September 12, I will turn 20 years old! seems like just yesterday I was turning 18 and thinking that I was, two years later...I'm no longer a teen! I am really excited to spend the weekend home with my family, friends, and boyfriend, Tony. It's going to be a busy weekend, but if you know me, you know that I'm ALWAYS busy. Anyway, my birthday weekend starts tonight (I lobbied for a birthday week but it didn't work) with a fun dinner at Chili's with my roommates and friends from school. Tomorrow, I will head back to the Thousand Islands, and spend time at home. Saturday starts bright and early with a Miss TI breakfast, and then will be spent going to the Burrville Cider Mill (one of my favorite places...ever) to indulge in fresh apple cider, DONUTS, Croghan bologna, and cheese curd, shopping at the Silver Shoppe with my cousin Kelly (another favorite Thousand Islands exclusive), and an assortment of other places! I'm really looking forward to bundling up in sweats and sitting by the lake, at a bon fire with all of my friends on Saturday night. Finally, Sunday, my actual birthday, will be spent at the Carthage Augustinian School, becoming a ZUMBA instructor! I am thrilled to be able to spend my birthday doing ZUMBA (especially since this weekend will surely include delicious food), even though it is from 9am -6pm. Nonetheless, I am really looking forward to this experience and being able to teach ZUMBA classes, meaning I will get paid to work out - perfect preparation for Miss New York! The weekend will commence with a family and boyfriend dinner at the restaurant of my choice, and then it's an early morning drive back to Ithaca on Monday.

I'm sure this weekend will inspire a new blog post - talk with you then!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Some random rambling...

Happy weekend everyone! The first official week of school, even though we only really had two days of classes, is complete. I really like all of my classes and I think, based on the syllabi and first impressions, that my course load will be well balanced; some courses are going to challenge me while others will serve as 'easy A's' and 'refresher' courses. My biggest disappointment so far has been that because I am a junior and in higher level courses, the professors don't feel it necessary to have us introduce ourselves. The way that this usually goes is the professor gives us a formula for our introduction: Name, year, major, hometown, and FUN FACT. Normally, I can never think of a fun fact, but this year, I really wanted to be able to say, "My fun fact is that I am Miss Thousand Islands 2011!" Oh well!

Now, as I'm sure many of you have heard, Miss Thousand Islands 2010 Kristina Ferris's crown has been stolen. It was one of many items stolen in a burglary spree in her neighborhood. I wanted to take the time to first of all express my devastation for Kristina and the loss of her crown. Although the crown is 'just a thing', it is truly so much more than sparkly rhinestones. Not only does the crown stand for Style, Success, Scholarship, and Service (the Four Points of the Crown), but it also represents a titleholder's year of service and all of their accomplishments. As Kristina has stated in interviews with the media, the crown is not really worth much money, so to anyone but her, it is not very valuable. I am hopeful that the crown, along with the other possessions stolen in the string of burglaries, will be returned to their rightful owners.

To completely jump topics to something more positive, I am very excited to announce my first appearance as Miss Thousand Islands! I will be attending the Miss Italia 2010 pageant in Watertown, NY on September 10. The Miss Italia pageant is a part of the Bravo Italiano Festival that is held in Watertown every year. I have never been to the festival or the pageant before, and I am really looking forward to seeing a non-Miss America pageant. I hope to see you there! Although the winner of this pageant will not be a part of the MAO pageant family, I am excited to welcome in a new pageant sister to the Thousand Islands and Watertown area pageant family! OH...I'd also like to congratulate Allison Carlos, Miss Forest Queen 2011! Miss Forest Queen is a festival pageant, but she will be competing in Miss New York 2011 with me! Welcome to MNY Class of 2011, Alli! :-)

Before I go, I'd also like to give a quick shout out to Alison Stroming, Miss New York's Outstanding Teen who is competing in Miss America's Outstanding Teen pageant tonight in Orlando. She has been competing all week and won a preliminary talent award! I was lucky enough to meet Alison during Miss Thousand Islands and she is very deserving of this crown! Tonight is the big night, so send thoughts her way!

That's all for now!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Some advice for college freshmen...

After I posted last night, I was laying in bed, anticipating today, the day I go back to school. This year is of course different than any other year, and the change from dorm room to apartment is certainly a lesser change than going from home to dorm room for the very first time. I thought back to this same time, two years ago, when I left home for the first time and moved in to my college dorm room. For some, the transition seems easy, while for others, it is much more difficult. For me, it was the latter.

I remember crying when I left my house, almost all the way to Watertown, and then falling asleep for the entire ride to Ithaca. Once I arrived on campus, the biggest step, even though physically it would be the easiest, was getting out of my car. Immediately, we checked in, and started unloading the car. I was living in one of the two Towers, on the 9th floor. Luckily, there were elevators, and luckily there were upperclassmen and giant laundry carts to assist us in the move. Although I was still sad to leave home, my friends, family and the guy who was, at the time, my boyfriend, moving in was sort of fun. Now, not to say that I had the coolest dorm room, but my mom and I really took the ugly dorm room and its just as ugly furniture and made it look beautiful. So, the tiny dorm felt a little more like home, but until we went to dinner, it hadn't really hit me that I wouldn't be leaving with my family that night, and that I wouldn't be going home for a while.

I had a beautiful view from my first dorm room, and alongside Cayuga Lake was the highway out of Ithaca. Even though it was too far away to actually know if one of the set of lights that grew smaller and smaller was my family in our van, I perched myself right near that window, crying on the phone to my mom, watching and watching. She kept telling me that I needed to have fun and that I couldn't let my homesickness get the best of me. She told me that I would come home soon but that I had to push through the next few weeks. Looking back, this is advice that really applies to any type of trivial situation and honestly, anytime I am stressed or worried or sad, no matter what the occasion, she tells me basically the same things. As much as I appreciate my mom's advice, the painful homesickness really had already gotten the best of me and I didn't want to listen to what she said. Also, although her advice is good advice, it is really hard to follow when one first arrives at school and is left there. Now, I am a Junior and I have had some time to figure college out and I have some advice of my own that I still follow when I get a little sad...

1) STAY BUSY. For me, this is extremely important. Luckily, my major keeps me very busy with schoolwork, especially group projects, which are not only time consuming, but they allow a group of people who might not have met otherwise, really get to know each other and I have met some great friends through group projects. Check out the activities and groups on campus. Trust me, you will feel a lot better if you stay busy, rather than sit in your room doing nothing.

2) GO TO THE GYM. When you work out, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Plus, getting in shape is not only fun, but it makes you feel better about yourself. Taking care of your body by eating right and working out definitely helps to change your mood. Remember, you don't have to be athletic to work out. Even if you have never set foot in a gym, start out college and your life right by working out and staying fit - there are not only machines and weights, but lots of fitness classes too!

3) STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. This is a big one. College is full of opportunities waiting for you, but you have to find them. Most of the time, opportunity doesn't come knocking at your door. If you get a chance to do something, even if it is going to what you think will be a boring lecture, do it. You never know what great things could come from it. Now, don't be discouraged if you go to a lecture and don't leave feeling like a new have to expose yourself to lots of lectures and events and you will see, when you are in my shoes, how the bigger picture has been effected by stepping out of your comfort zone.

4) BE WITH PEOPLE. This goes along with staying busy. As much as we need time to ourselves and to be alone, during your freshmen year, many of us are plagued with vulnerability and being alone all the time is not going to help. It's not as easy to be alone when you have a roommate, but because I ended up living in a single after a falling out with my roommate, I had to learn to get myself out of the room even when I really just wanted to stay in bed. You will make friends in class, in your dorm, and all over campus, and in groups or within your major. Spend time making friends and not sitting alone.

5) VISIT HOME often, but not every weekend. My mom was do have to push through, especially the first few weeks because this is prime bonding time when you will meet the people who will end up being roommates and friends for life. When you visit home, make sure that your parents cook you your favorite meal (b/c dining hall food isn't always the best...) and that your laundry gets done, and that you see your friends. But don't forget that you HAVE TO go back to school and that you HAVE TO get your work done. If you think going home will make you want to stay home more, then do not go.

6) GET IN A ROUTINE. Get up more than 20 minutes before your first class, whether it starts at 8AM or 12PM. Give yourself time to get up, SHOWER, get ready (yes, actually fix your hair, make-up, and wear something other than sweats), eat breakfast, and get to class early enough to get a seat in the front (this keeps you from getting distracted and keeps you on task because the professor is right there). I thought I would try being a 'cool' college kid and just rolling out of bed a few minutes before I needed to leave my dorm to make it to class 'on time" (which Shelby would actually call late). I found that I didn't feel happy when I was dressed in baggy sweats, un-showered. Now, if you tend to normally dress in baggy sweats and you don't shower, I'm sure this won't be a problem for you. For me though, I LOVE getting ready and looking nice for class, so I don't know what I was thinking. Go to your classes and try to be excited about it, even though it sometimes is hard. EAT. EAT. EAT. Go to the gym or work out in some way. Do your work and don't procrastinate. Go to bed as early as you can, even though sometimes this is 5am. Basically, wake up each day ready for a new challenge, and keep a smile on your face.

Now for my pageant sisters, when college becomes difficult and you are feeling frustrated or sad, and you really don't want to do what you know you need to do, think, "What would Miss America do?" I know it doesn't seem like Miss America would come across these situations, so it might be hard to imagine what she would do...Miss America emulates true beauty. She is not only beautiful from the outside but from the inside too. She is a strong, confident women. She demonstrates the Four Points of the Crown each and every day and we must always think about this because it truly does help.

To my freshmen friends:

Whether you are going away or staying home, college is going to be a big difference and will present you with trials and tribulations that sometimes might seem unbearable. Listen to the advice above, listen to your parents and you will be just fine. I would like to wish you all good luck as you begin your college journeys. In these first weeks, know that I am thinking about you, and you are in my prayers! Have fun & be safe!

On a quick Miss T.I. note, I just wanted to share that I received a congratulatory letter from Congressman Bill Owens. I thought that was pretty awesome! :-)


Saturday, August 21, 2010

A week as Miss Thousand Islands...

I believe that as a titleholder it is very important to publish a blog post at least once a week, to keep my followers and readers up to date on my life and my plans for Miss T.I. I also really enjoy writing and by writing for fun, not just writing papers and essays for school, I am improving my writing skills, which Shelby would say is highly important, not only as a titleholder, but as a Public Relations professional and a successful person in general. So, although I have yet to make a Miss T.I. appearance and am unsure when I will first get to wear my crown and sash publicly, I have had a busy, yet wonderful, last week at home, that I would like to write about.

Tomorrow, I will be driving to Ithaca with my family and boyfriend, Tony, to move into my very first apartment where I will reside for the school year. Before I tell you about this, let's rewind back to Monday.

Not only was this week my last week at home, it was also my last week of work. This summer I was employed by the Crescent Yacht Club Junior Division, Inc. Junior Division, for short, is a Swim and Sail day camp program that is run on Lake Ontario at the Crescent Yacht Club in Chaumont, NY. I was the Senior Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor (which is the reason I had a terrible racerback tan line for the pageant!) So, aside from teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding, my job basically entailed supervising a group of awesome kids, ages 6 - 16, and hanging out in the sun on the lake all day. Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, in our last week we try to have as much fun as possible. The week started out with swim tests, which were a breeze compared to swim lessons, and then finished the week off with sponge dodgeball, water wars (which took place on Sawmill Bay while the campers sailed and the counselors were on the motor boats), and Watermelon Olympics, which entails covering watermelons in Crisco and then completing a series of events - the team whose watermelon breaks first, loses. Even though the Crisco left a big mess on our picnic tables, the activities were all a lot of fun. The week ended with the annual Awards Ceremony. Although this was my first time as a staff member, I had attended the ceremony for many years as my younger brother, Sky (who is also on staff), was a camper for many years, and I was in the program for a short time as well. As the swim instructor, I had four awards to give and present - two Most Improved, and two Best Swimmers (one for the younger group, one for the older). For each award, the staff member who is presenting, writes a brief, suspense building speech, and reads it to the group of campers, family, and friends, before announcing the recipient. Just a quick and interesting note about these awards: the Swim & Sail program is 79 years old and many of the awards which are trophies and plaques have been around since the beginning of the program. When a camper wins an award, they get to keep the trophy or plaque, carefully of course, for a year and have their name and winning year engraved before returning it the next year. Many of the trophies have winners dated back to the first year and many times, campers win an award that their parent or grandparent may have won many years ago! All in all, the entire ceremony was lovely and I believe that the recipients of my swimming awards were very grateful and I hope that I made them feel as special as I did, and still do, about winning Miss Thousand Islands.

With the rest of the CYC Jr. Division Swim & Sail Staff (From L to R: Me, Mark Derbyshire, Tommy Barber, Luke Norman, Billy Monks, Kent Derbyshire, and Sky Bocciolatt; not shown, Nick Sellers.)

With my brother, Sky :-)

So, now that the craziness has halted for at least today, I am rushing to get ready to go back to school. As I said earlier, I will be moving into an apartment. Even though my apartment is an on campus apartment, it will be a big change from the dorm rooms I have lived in for the past two years. I will be living with three of my friends, Lindsey, Monique, & Cassidy and since I lived in a single dorm room for the past two years, I am excited to have roommates! It has been a lot of fun shopping for the apartment, although I still have lots more that I need to get. Because of my busy summer with producing and playing Cinderella in Cinderella, and then preparing for Miss Thousand Islands, on top of my 40 hour a week job, I really hadn't had much time to shop until this weekend. Luckily, I have a few days before classes start and I will have time then to shop and buy any last minute items. Currently, I have nothing packed and we are set to leave for Ithaca around 11am tomorrow. I usually would try not to put something like this off, but I really don't like packing, especially for school because I never want to leave anything behind but don't have enough luggage to carry all of my clothing and other possessions! Well, with that said, I suppose I should try to at least unzip the suitcases... :-)

Pictures of the new apartment to come!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A few pictures...

Just a few pictures...

My first few days as Miss T.I...

Well, I'm not sure where to start. The past few days have been such a whirlwind of excitement that I have hardly had the chance to sit and process the fact that I am now Miss Thousand Islands. I couldn't be happier. I'd like to start this first post by telling you a little bit about my journey to become Miss Thousand Islands.

As I said to the judges in my interview on Saturday, "third time's a charm." I began competing in pageants following my graduation from Lyme Central School in 2008, my first pageant being the Miss Thousand Islands pageant. I had no experience in pageantry, and had never intended on competing. My mom was really the one who ended up convincing me that doing something I love, performing, for a chance to win scholarship money, wasn't such a bad idea. So, with my senior prom dress, an Italian aria I had learned for my NYSSMA solo, a normal bikini, and some painful shoes from a regular shoe store in the mall, I arrived on the day of my first pageant feeling very prepared. Little did I know, the pageant world was much more than I thought. Although inexperienced, I walked away with a few hundred dollars in scholarships, new friends, and had won 1st runner up! I think the most important lesson I learned from this pageant was to have fun, be confident, and let God's will be done. I ended up competing in a second pageant before going back to Miss Thousand Islands the next year. I decided that I wanted nothing more than to be Miss Thousand Islands. I spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on pageant 'stuff' and was ready to win. The outcome of the pageant was not what I had expected, and I was devastated. After days and weeks and months of contemplation over this, I realized that what I had lacked in the pageant was confidence and I had taken it too seriously, and didn't let myself have fun. After competing in another 'practice' pageant, I came back this year not only armed with a lovely pageant wardrobe, but also with my true self and my confidence, and most importantly, I had a blast! I have absolutely grown and learned so much from the pageant world, and have realized that although the ultimate prize is the crown, I have gained so much from being involved in pageants.

I can't even describe how I felt when my name was called, and I was announced as Miss Thousand Islands 2011. I have to mention, and I am sure all of my had pageant sisters can relate to this: some of the most nerve wracking moments I have ever experienced have been on stage in pageants, waiting for the winner to be announced. The night I was crowned, I told someone that while waiting, it felt like my heart was going to pound itself out of my chest and roll out the opera house doors into the river! Looking at pictures, I feel as though I had a pretty typical pageant queen reaction, although there was no face fanning. It's hard to imagine what it will feel like to win or how one will react, and I must admit, I never saw myself as a crier - however, there were tears along with lots of smiling! Now, as we all know, pageant guru or not, there is always the first walk that follows the crowning (which is more like a wall squat - thanks Kristina :-)) during which the winner waves to the audience. According to Shelby, it is bad luck to practice this sequence, and while I am glad I didn't taint myself by practicing, I have to admit I was turning back to Kristina to ask what I was supposed to be doing. Let's just say, my wave needs some work! :-)

In terms of Miss T.I. duties, I have only had one and it has been to sign the program books for our sponsors as Miss Thousand Islands. As my first duty, I felt special sitting in my E.D.'s living room signing my 'autograph'. I'd like to take the time to thank all of our sponsors and the people who make this pageant a reality, especially Sue, Shelby, Gary, and the Board of Directors. You are all amazing and I am so excited to spend a year working with you all!

I'd also like to thank a few others for special gifts that I received as Miss T.I. Thank you so much to Sherry, Cyndi, and the girls at the Ritz Salon for the amazing gift basket - I love it! Thanks to Barbara Yerdon for the Mary Kay gift certificate! Also, a big thanks to Darcy Burns for the beautiful blue jewelry! To Kristina Ferris, Miss Thousand Islands 2010, thank you for your support, advice, and your special words left in my crown box. You will forever be in the Miss T.I. family, and always Miss T.I. 2010. Your warm welcome into the Miss T.I. family means the world to me (and by warm, I mean the burning of my thighs as you crowned me ;-P) Thank you to, of course, my family and friends, and to all of you who have been so supportive and left congratulatory messages for me - I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And to all of my pageant sisters, especially to those of you with whom I competed on Saturday, you are all some of the most talented and beautiful girls I have ever met and I want to say thank you for making my pageant weekend even more special and I hope that you all had fun, and will come back next year, and that I might see some of you at Miss New York!

As I begin my first week as Miss. T.I., I am preparing to go back to Ithaca College, where I am a Junior Communication Management and Design major in the Roy H. Park School of Communications. I will be living in my very first apartment and am very excited! It is also my last week of work as a Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguard at the CYC Junior Division Swim and Sail program in Chaumont. So, with a busy week ahead of me, I need to end this post by thanking you all again. I will be posting as much as I can, hopefully at least once a week, and hope to hear from many of you!

All the best,


Miss Thousand Islands 2011