It's about being an adult

When speculations become rumors

At a university that shall be referred to as Cornucopia, a staff member disappeared and no one knows why. It was a normal Friday in April and the day was unwinding, Jane was in her office for the last time. That day, something happened that provoked her sudden departure, but it is unclear if it was a decision she made or if the school made it for her.

The following Monday, Rosa the assistant came in and noticed something very unusual. Everything that decorated Jane’s door was gone. The sad part was that no one bothered to tell Rosa and it became evident that no one bothered to tell anyone. An email went out to select organizations, but people stopped in asking for Jane and no one gave a straight answer.

Sure, there are contracts signed and protocols to be followed, but there was a lack of professionalism that happened and no one seemed to care. While rules and regulations should be followed, there should also be some sort of respect made with regard to the person and the people they interact with.

Instead of explaining why Jane was no longer responding to her phone calls or emails, or letting the school know that a director has left… they allowed people to speculate.


I’m sure a lot of people still don’t realize Jane is gone or why, but the school doesn’t care. They don’t care that people are still trying to reach her and are thinking, Jane is really unprofessional because I have not received a response back from her. The school also doesn’t care that no one seems to know who to reach once they realize Jane is gone and they aren’t supposed to ask about her. There is no protocol in place for those who are left asking, why?

Cornucopia reminds us to follow the faith based views that the university was built on, but falls short of realizing that it has failed to practice what it preaches:

Competence, compassion, and servant leadership.

People are not daft and will eventually know the truth, by then it may become evident that no one is safe from a fate like Jane’s. I hope it is also evident that there are people who suffer from Cornucopia syndrome, they study here and get hired here, but have no real world experience or social skills to interact with those who live outside the bubble that is Cornucopia.

I hope that fictitious Jane knows that the university lost not only an important asset that understood diversity, but also an individual who reflects the mission and vision in a way that is not hypocritical as those who removed her.  The campus will miss you and although there was no proper goodbye, there is still a place that will forever be known as Jane’s office.


CUC and Cache Creek Rescue help homeless dogs find forever homes

For a minute, the stress went away and it seemed as if everyone forgot the semester was coming to an end. Students, faculty, and passersby all gathered around the five crates each holding a dog eager to play and meet a potential family. One by one the dogs were let out to be: cuddled, pet, and walked across the campus.

The dogs were on campus as part of an adoption event organized by senior Roma Avila with Cache Creek Rescue. The rescue group operates a non-for-profit, no-kill shelter in New Lenox, IL that relies heavily on help from volunteers to set up events and transport animals to each adoption site. The organization knows all too well what it’s like to lose a home and does everything possible to relocate the animals it takes in.

Mary Jo is a volunteer who donates her time and resources to help the shelter when she can. She has done this before, but this was her first solo event. Because she is alone, she can only bring as many animals as she can manage and that can fit in her vehicle, luckily she owns a truck. She showed up promptly at 11:00AM and had the dogs ready to go in 20 minutes with the help of a few students.

This was the first campus event for the rescue group; they are used to working with pet stores and clinics to promote the adoption of their animals. There is some skepticism about the event on campus because student residents are not able to keep dogs or cats as pets at the university. However, there are plenty of students who commute and there is a lot of interest from faculty, staff, and people off campus. The shelter is happy to do the event whether or not an animal is adopted in order to promote the shelter and raise awareness, as well as take the dogs out for a ride. The adoption fees are $300 or less for the dogs on site:

Bailey – Labrador mix (female) 

Cassidy – Labrador mix (male) 

Eli – Pit Bull mix (male) 

Lulu – Terrier mix (female) 

Rascal – Labrador, Pit Bull, Boxer mix (male) 

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Because the rescue offers on site adoptions, dogs that meet eligible owners can be taken home after adopters are screened instead of going back to the shelter.

Bailey was the first to say goodbye as CUC faculty member Ashlee Davis Middendorf and her husband came and without hesitation, made Bailey a part of their family. Once all the paperwork was done, Bailey was off to a home with her own bed.

Cassidy was next. The smallest and youngest puppy found a home after a staff member shared his picture and within minutes he was en route to a permanent roof and bed of his own.

The last dog to say farewell was Rascal. As Mary Jo began to pack up, student and senior Kelley Guastella came by and did not want to go home without the puppy.

Although the dogs parted ways with the shelter, it is the best goodbye Cache Creek can hope for. The event was a success and even raised a little money for the rescue group. Mary Jo left the campus with a happy heart knowing there would be more room at the shelter for new faces in need of new beginnings and a “furever” home.

Eli and Lulu along with several other dogs and cats still need homes, please visit their website for details and location information. The rescue has a variety of dogs and cats that may not be present at events, but are available for adoption, so be sure to like them on Facebook for updates.

A shelter and its animals get back on their feet

Cache Creek Animal Rescue knows what it’s like to be homeless. Before finding a permanent location in New Lenox, the nonprofit organization found itself in the same situation as their animals, homeless. In December 2014, the shelter received an eviction notice just before Christmas and was in desperate need of help. After a GoFundMe was set up, the shelter was overwhelmed with help and was able to keep its doors open to animals in need.

Marshmallow is a Great Pyrenees who has had trouble finding a home due to his size.

The organization is run by a very small staff and lots of volunteers. They can never get enough people to help whether it’s: walking dogs, interacting with the animals, setting up events or providing transportation, they are always happy to see a helping hand. The no kill shelter will take in just about any dog or cat and recognizes that senior pets need the most help. Senior pets are more likely to get overlooked and  euthanized, but the shelter makes every effort to help seniors find homes despite their ailments.

Since their new location was much bigger than their previous facility, they have been able to accommodate more animals and have been promoting more events with on site adoption. Cache Creek has become increasingly popular and has even booked its first ever campus event scheduled for April 21 at Concordia University in River Forest.

You can also contact Cache Creek to volunteer for an event or help out at the shelter. If you are interested in adopting an animal from the rescue, you can visit their website and attend one of their events including the campus event to meet and apply for an adoptable pet.

Ari watches as people walk past her during an event in Naperville, IL.

April Adoption Events: 

  • Tuesday, April 19th, 2016: Concordia University Adoption Event (7400 Augusta St, River Forest, IL 60305) from 11:30-3:30pm
  • Saturday, April 23rd, 2016: Petco New Lenox (495 E Lincoln Hwy, New Lenox, IL 60451) from 9:30am-3:30 am
  • Monday, April 25th, 2016: Anytime Fitness Frankfort Adoption Event (21134 S La Grange Rd, Frankfort, IL) from 5pm-7pm
  • Friday, April 29th, 2016: 2 Paws 4 U Store Anniversary Event (24600 Rt. 52 Hwy Manhattan, IL 60442) from 2-7pm
  • Saturday, April 30th, 2016: Petsmart Naperville (3111 111th St, Naperville, IL 60564) from 10am-5pm

Purple Rain, Purple Rain — Baxterfront and Upside Down

The recent news about Prince is sad, but others could write more fondly of him than me. As for me, I’ll stick to what I know. I’m going to write about cocktails. I can’t help being reminded of student days, many nights spent in cheap, sticky bars shouting at my friends over the loud cheesy […]

via Purple Rain, Purple Rain — Baxterfront and Upside Down

Do you have any olives?

If you’re hungry, make sure you eat. Olives and cherries are not kept behind the bar for sustenance.

Yes, I have thrown people out, called the cops, cleaned up vomit, and dreaded working behind the bar. I decided to explain some of these, because chance are if you have ever bartended, these are the people you have met and have cleaned up after.

  • You forgot your id

Here is the biggest problem with you walking into a bar without an id; if a bartender is caught serving you and it turns out you are not 21, they can get fired, fined, and go to jail. The establishment also faces fines and can lose their liquor license. A business that caters to a 21+ crowd reserves the right to remove you from the premises, so don’t fight with the bouncer because you went to a bar without an id. If you have your id and you are asked to remove it from your wallet (which you should) it is because they are checking to make sure you aren’t trying to use a fake – don’t show them, don’t get served.

  • Why do you have to hold my card?

This varies from establishment. I’ve noticed this as more common among places that get most of their revenue from alcohol sales. They don’t want you to skip out on the bill or forget to pay when your Uber shows up and you have to run.

  • I want the best or the cheapest

Sure, but it will cost you or you may be better off drinking at home. Don’t ask for a surprise drink or something expensive if you are going to complain about the price. There is nothing wrong with drinking on a budget, but be smart about it. Let’s say you order a shot of Bulleit for $8 (standard size is one ounce), but you notice a martini that is ten ounces for $20. Looks like you can keep ordering shots or get a deal on that bourbon. Of course, this doesn’t stop people from complaining about a $20 martini (do the math).

Side note: Bartenders cringe when they hear, “happy hour“, “what’s your cheapest”, “I only drink premium” – these are most often people who don’t tip well. Awesome bartenders will be awesome regardless, but these stereotypes exist for a reason.

  • What do you like?

This is a common question and I usually just turn it around. What I like is bourbon, what you like might not be. Tell the bartender what you like, and they can narrow down the drinks for you.

  • Shots!

I can walk into a bar and ask for anything my heart desires. That doesn’t mean the bartender knows what the hell I want. People make up names all the time and what you think is cool and popular might just be a phase or a regional thing. Know what you are drinking and never assume you get free anything on your birthday or any occasion. Most bartenders are happy to celebrate and but you a drink, but they also have a job to do and the bar is not theirs to give.

  • I know the owner.

This is my favorite line. I usually smile and let people know, everyone knows the owner. My employer sits in the bar and loves to chat with customers. He also hates freeloaders, who doesn’t? No matter how many times you frequent a bar, you are never entitled to anything nor should you disrespect a bartender because you didn’t get comped on your bill.

I just spilled my drink.

Are you drunk? If you are, you are getting tossed out. If it was an accident, that is up to the bar to give you another, but expect to pay for it. Booze is expensive.

  • There goes your tip.20160329_171732

You got cut off and now you are pissed. Remember, you are a liability, so you might want to stop slurring your words and swaying in your seat. You also shouldn’t sleep in the bar or throw up in their bathroom. But, if you want to take it out on someone else that is fine, but don’t be surprised if your reputation follows you to the next bar.


Learn some terms –

neat: your liquor is leaving the bottle straight to your glass, no ice or chilling.

short vs tall: ordering a tall means more mix, not more alcohol. If you want a stronger drink, get a short or ask for a double (this will cost you more, duh).

dirty: If you want a dirty martini, olive juice is added. Asking for it extra dirty means adding more olive juice. I had a customer order a filthy martini, and then returned it because it was too salty (insert smiley face here).

Learn some etiquette –

Don’t wave money around, it will not get you faster service. A busy bar is a busy bar.

Snapping your fingers, whistling, or waving frantically make you look crazy and rude. Please don’t do that to any human being.

Everyone can see you and if you think no one is watching, there are probably cameras [giggle]. Don’t have sex in the bar, ever.

Don’t be a cheap tipper. Minimum wage laws for tipped employees are different, servers can make as little as $2.13 per hour. That will make you think twice about working in the industry.10606614_911548632717_3693378775201445290_n

Treat people with respect. Bartenders should always be respectful and you should reciprocate.

NM 4/1: Rome

Vatican city | photo credit:
Colosseum | photo credit:
Sistine Chapel |
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Western style restaurant in Rome | photo credit:
Outdoor cafe in Rome | photo credit:

Garden Rocket — The Gypsy Tippler

Did you know another name for arugula is garden rocket? Makes that leafy substance sound so much more badass. Spring is around the corner and garden rockets are blasting back out into season. My mom always told me to eat my vegetables, but I think I’ll drink ’em instead. Also, what better way to toast to […]

via Garden Rocket — The Gypsy Tippler

You’re graduating college soon…

Congrats, so what’s next?

Have you thought about your credit score and what the loans will look like after your six month grace period is over? Did you buy an interview suit and practice your elevator speech? Is your resume current? What about grad school, did you think about that?

The questions are flooding and the tension is getting to the point where a butter knife is needed. You will probably exhaust all the to do lists and still feel like deer in headlights. Breathe.

  • Keep track of your student loans. 

It is going to be painful, but before the 6 month grace period is up, it is wise to look over your loans. Be sure to keep track of both your private and federal loans; if you figure out what you owe, you can figure out what you need to earn. Some employers may request to see your credit history and landlords will want to make sure you are reliable. Be sure to check your credit report and score: your report is comprised of three reporting agencies and your credit score is a three digit number representative of your credit history. You can check you credit report once a year for free (beware of third party companies that will try to charge you) through annual credit report so you know where you stand and you can dispute anything that isn’t consistent with your record.  For your credit score, check with your bank or credit card directly as some offer it for free.

  • Practice makes perfect.

Use the internet as a resource. There are lots of employers willing to give feedback on what they are looking for and what they absolutely hate when interviewing. Practice your elevator speech and get used to speaking in public, toastmasters is a great way to practice public speaking and get the butterflies in your stomach used to a room full of strangers.  That being said, make sure your resume is up to date and be ready to answer questions about it; think teamwork, there’s not “i” in team.

Remember when everyone tried to get you to do something or be involved? Now is the time to thank yourself because those were networking opportunities, so find those contacts and connect. Just like your resume, your LinkedIn profile should be up to date with information about your work history and things you are involved in. The website can match your skills with employment opportunities based on the information you provide. It is also a great way to look for a job, follow companies, and keep up with contacts.

  • But I want to go to grad school.

Great. Make sure you meet the deadline for each school and fulfill any requirements such as: GRE, GMAT, or any grad level exams. By checking your school’s deadline, you can ensure that test scores are reported on time. Be sure to check out the school website for deadlines and testing sites so you aren’t scrambling to take a last minute test.

  • I’m taking time off.

You’ve worked hard and there is nothing wrong with that, so do it. Travel the world now because when you start working, it may become harder to take time off. Remember all those skills on your resume? Put those skills and experiences to good use and earn some cash or volunteer in exchange for a free stay around the world. Workaway lets you sign up as a volunteer if you are looking to get away in exchange for a little work, or register as a host if you want to earn some extra cash. Never stop learning; sign up for something that can come in handy and be a resource for you to engage in new experiences, teach others, or create an opportunity for you to be where you want.

Whatever direction you take and no matter what people say, only you can decide what is best for you. If you completed this milestone, don’t stop yourself from the next.

Cheers to a new chapter.

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There’s bourbon in the rum

I’m a big fan of bourbon, so when I found out there was a rum distillery aging it’s rum in charred oak barrels to get that bourbon finish, I had to try it out. Luckily, I was going to Florida for spring break and found myself in Cape Coral, home of Wicked Dolphin.

Wicked Dolphin’s complete product line.
Locally sourced sugar.

The distillery has free tours that can be booked online for every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday night, and Saturday with free rum tastings during the hour-long tour. Our guide’s name was Paul and he started us off with a “Wicked Punch” cocktail using their coconut rum; they use natural and locally sourced ingredients such as coconut water and sugar – Florida is the nation’s largest producer of cane sugar.

Another local ingredient they really capitalize on: oranges. The Florida Spiced uses the orange peels and infuses them with honey and other spices to produce their signature, gold-toned rum. If you are wondering what happens to the rest of the orange, worry not because the distillery does not believe in being wasteful.

RumShine is made with different fresh fruits like oranges, strawberries, and blueberries. The 100 proof spirit is made with small batches of its aged rum to make a 50% ABV drink – the fruit alone requires a shoulder or wall to lean on.

We moved on to my attraction and their award winning: Florida Silver. The silver rum is aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels; the barrels are only used once for each process and then shipped on to the next artisan. This is because the flavor acquired from the barrel cannot be obtained a second time, but the barrel still has some use, so they might be shipped to a craft brewer looking to produce a beer with a hint of bourbon and rum.

The silver rum is what started it all, JoAnn Elardo was working in retail when she decided to retire and move to Florida. After a couple of weeks, she was bored and found herself trying to enter a market that she knew very little about. Elardo recruited her nephew Dan Termeni, so he quit his job in New York and moved to Florida; together they learned everything they needed to make rum and Wicked Dolphin was born in 2012.

Pallets of rum ready for distribution.

The small batches produced in copper stills were so popular that JoAnn decided to enter the 2013 Rum Renaissance Festival, the world’s largest rum expo for producers held in Miami. There was no sign to identify their rum, just a tiny table sitting next to the Bacardi tent. After all the participants enter their most popular rum, a blind tasting is done and judging takes place, JoAnn walked away with the Rum XP Gold award for best in class. Wicked Dolphin has won awards each year since and took home their second gold award at the 2015 Rum Renaissance Festival.

After they talked up the rum, I had 2 questions for Paul: Where did the name Wicked Dolphin come from and when can we try the rest of the rums…

JoAnn noticed her dog barking late one night, but couldn’t find a reason. Her husband decided to investigate, so the following day, he readied a cooler full of beer and hung out while the sun set. It wasn’t long before a dolphin came around and began taunting their dog – mystery solved.

After Paul told us the story, he led us away from the barrel room and into the storefront so we could sample the apple pie RumShine as well as the other rums. After trying each out, I decided to come home with their Florida Silver and one not available for tasting, the Brewer’s Series Double Barrel. If and when you try it, be sure to serve it neat to fully appreciate the hops and oak finish.

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