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Budapest, Hungary Day #2

The morning after the Sparty I woke up in a daze. The night prior had been so surreal, swimming and drinking in one of the oldest thermal baths and spas in the country to strobe lights and a DJ had been one of the most extraordinary nights of my life. This being said, it wasn’t a surprise that the only thing I felt like doing the next morning was munch on some breakfast and float around in another thermal bath and spa.

These plans were met with opposition by my boyfriend, who kept reminding me that it was our last full day in the city and we still had so much to see. Agreeing to go out to breakfast and join a walking tour (which was close to four hours long!) I downed a few Advil and we were on our way.

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The walking tour began in the main city center of Pest (“Pesht”), which was where we were staying. We walked away from the city center, where there was a children’s puppet musical going on in the square and marketplace, and headed down the East bank to admire the view across the Danube that stretched out in front of us.

The walk around the main streets of Pest were gorgeously eerie. The architecture of the buildings could be compared to those in Rome. Full of meticulous detail, marble and magnificent statues, the streets home to the opera house and parliament buildings were adorned with the majesty of the past, yet glazed over with the emptiness of the present. It is clear, just by a quick stroll, that Pest was once a prosperous and bustling city, which has now been reduced to a low-populated yet beautiful tourist attraction.

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This emptiness became a cause for reflection, however, and added another layer of mystery to the unsung natural and man-made beauty surrounding us. The tour continued along the Danube until we came to the incredible bridge that connects Pest and Buda. The walking tour guide spent the entire bridge walk spinning a story about the famous architect and his tragic death only to end with the possibility that none of it was true – strange.

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It wasn’t long before we had reached the hill-filled and mountainous side of the city. While Pest had the opportunity to build upwards through architecture, Buda had the natural advantage of higher ground. We took a quick break for lunch and then took the Budapest version of the Italian “funiculare” up to the top of the hill.

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This had been where the royalty had resided years and years ago, and it was still the center of government on that side. Embellished with beautiful flowers, statues and a breathtaking view of Pest, the main center of Buda left little to want for. The main church and cathedral were at the top of this hill as well.

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The roofs had been adorned with yellow and caramel-colored mosaics, stationed on a teal base. The overall impact of this architectural surprise was delightful and we took in the beauty from all angles of the cathedral.

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Our last visit on Buda was an abandoned monastery close to the cathedral, that overlooked the Danube and Pest side of the city. Everything in Budapest is simply gorgeous.

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This side of the city was more expensive than Pest by far. It seemed as if the Buda residents felt their higher ground gave them justification for higher prices. After the tour had ended we splurged on $15 ice cream cones and decided that it was time to head back to other side.

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After making it across the bridge two things became indelibly clear. The first was that we were starving and needed food right then – if you know me, this is a frequent occurrence, especially after I started doing HIIT workouts… #alwayshungry. The second thing that was clear was that in the time we had been exploring Buda, Pest had been overcome by a triathlon, and many of the main streets had been closed to both cars and pedestrians. Hungrily, we ended up following along with the marathon in search of an open side street that wasn’t guarded with police. After another 40 minutes of walking we found our opening… across the street and across the marathon. Waiting until the quicker runners and bikers had passed, Ben and I sprinted through the marathon onto the other side of the road.

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We began walking in that direction, happy to be able to follow our own route instead of one marked by blockades and marathon tape. It was not long before we came across an authentic Hungarian restaurant, where we gobbled down some very heavy goulash, gnocchi dumplings and beer.

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As is customary after eating a heavy Hungarian meal, a nap was penciled into the agenda. A few hours later we made our way back to the main square on Pest, which had been transformed from puppet show hub to nightlife center. We joined in on a Hungarian pub crawl, which brought us to many incredible ruin bars and pubs in the Jewish quarter. It is truly a shame that I had not been able to snap better photos of the atmosphere, but the lighting was dim and the images were unable to come out clearer.

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However, the ruin bars were one of the amazing additions to the mysteries of Budapest. The buildings had taken a hit during WWII, yet had never been demolished. Instead of tearing them down and building up brand new exclusive bars and clubs, the Hungarians had taken to redesigning the homes and spaces into gorgeous yet ghostly nightlife havens. Ruin pub after ruin pub, I wondered what the building had been like a hundred years ago. Who had lived there? What had it been used for? And of course, what had happened there?

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The sheer magnitude of the semblance of the past connected with the attitudes of the present gave the ruin pubs a special quality that I haven’t come across before or since. The night ended at a ruin night club, deep in the Jewish quarter yet surprisingly close to our hostel. Just before going in, we realized we needed a snack and snuck away from the group and into a “halal” restaurant. Ordering Ben’s favorite, “chicken over rice” we sat down and waited for our food. A few minutes later the waiter came over with chicken over fries, apparently mishearing us. We didn’t complain, it was actually pretty good and tourists and Hungarians alike came over to our table to ask what we had ordered… heehee.

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The ruin club was truly incredible. There were at least five different floors, whose walls were covered in colorful graffiti and vintage art work and décor. Each floor had a different atmosphere and the entire club was a maze. It was nearly impossible to find a room again after leaving it, because there were so many others to explore.

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Each room played different music to a different crowd. There were people dancing in groups of bachelor and bachelorette parties, old people, young people, tourists, locals, DJs… There were different game rooms where you could play “escape room” where you had to find your way out of the pitch black room in small groups, foosball, pool, ping pong… People dancing, people engrossed in intellectual conversations, people sitting at the bars, on the couches, standing in the middle of the dance floor. It was the type of place that could make time stop for hours, that could merge past with present in one fluid motion, that could connect one person to another though they had absolutely nothing in common. This was one of the most diversely European experiences I had come across in the last few months.

Stay Classy! xx

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Back To School Series ’16/’17: My Top Three Favorite Protein Supplements for Women

Back to school season is practically a month long (and warmer) New Year’s Day. You’re super psyched about getting back into a routine of fabulous friends, learning, socializing and figuring out your place in this world – emphasis on the last one! Going into a new school year is an awesome time to get re-motivated and achieve those New Year’s Resolutions you made way back in January, followed for a little while, and then continued living life without the added pressure to be better at whatever it is you’ve chosen. My goal the last few years has been to live a happier and healthier lifestyle, and I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come – especially these past few months.

During my fitness and wellness journey something I rarely came across on the market were protein supplements for women and girls. Most websites market protein supplements solely to men and occasionally to a co-ed consumer base. Some proteins specifically made for women focus on helping a women become sexy instead of strong, while most of the females consuming protein shakes are dedicated to working out and pushing their limits. Marketing issues aside, what really matters is what the protein is made out of and the impact it will have on your body.

Protein supplements are most frequently made from soy or whey. A recent review article in “Frontiers and Bioscience” found that consuming soy protein and soy products can decrease cholesterol levels in women. The same review article reports that soy consumption can actually relieve symptoms of menopause and osteoporosis. And like most proteins, soy-based protein aids in muscle recovery and maintenance. It is an awesome protein option for vegetarians and vegans!

I personally prefer using whey protein for my post-workout or breakfast shake. According to a study published in Nutrition and Metabolism, people who consumed whey protein supplements “lost significantly more body fat and showed a greater preservation of lean muscle.” I have seen these results while using whey protein supplements in my own daily routine, using just 1-2 scoops a day. Whey protein is also known to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and risk for cardiovascular disease.

Here are my top three favorite protein supplements for women:

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1. Greek Girl Beauty Protein

You’ve totally seen this protein included in many of my smoothie recipes – and it is for a good reason! This honey-vanilla blend is whey-based and made specifically with women in mind. In addition to providing a great protein supplement, it includes all of the essential vitamins and minerals that your diet needs to strengthen your hair and nails – in addition to your muscles! Plus, two scoops added to 8 oz. of water is just 50 calories. It retails for $52.99 and can be purchased here.

2.  Designer Whey Gourmet Chocolate Protein

If you have a sweet tooth like me and crave chocolate once in a while, this delicious and efficient protein would be a great addition to your pantry! I love mixing it in a shaker bottle with coconut water or almond milk. If I have a bit more time I’ll mix it with banana and almond milk to make a yummy protein smoothie! A 2 lb container retails for $50 (but it’s currently on sale for $25!) and you can purchase it here.

3. Iconic Protein

When your workout schedule only allows you to workout at 6 a.m. 5 days a week, every post-workout minute becomes essential to help you look presentable while also making it to work on time. When I’m running a bit late in the morning and don’t have enough time to mix up a delicious protein drink, grabbing one of these shakes makes my life SO much easier. In addition to being convenient, this protein is also grass-fed and includes natural and organic ingredients. A variety 12-pack retails for $45.99 and you can buy it here.

Stay Classy! xx

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Back To School Series ’16/’17: 5 Nutrition Tips To Kick Start A Healthy Semester

Especially when you’re on a school meal plan, sticking with a healthy and balanced college diet can be a difficult feat. Many schools offer semi-healthy options, but choices are rarely fresh or cooked in the healthiest way – like you can do on your own if you had a kitchen in your dorm! Regardless of your meal options, there are other ways to ensure that this upcoming school year will be your healthiest one yet! I had the chance to talk to Lanette Kovachi, a dietician for SUBWAY, about her top 5 tips to help students avoid gaining the “freshman” (or senior) 15!

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  1. Make Time For Breakfast

Breakfast is the fuel and nourishment the body needs to get ready for the day’s physical and mental activities. Morning nutrition also plays an important role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Make sure your breakfast includes something rich in protein – eggs, egg whites, yogurt, low fat milk or nut butter.

My recipe for Egg-Crowned Quinoa is yummy and packed with protein!

  1. Avoid the Late Night Munchies

Try to skip late night snacking, or instead reach for something lighter like fruit, light popcorn, trail mix or hummus.

One of my personal favorites is a few spoons of non-fat greek yogurt with granola! I’m currently loving the Banana Walnut flavor from Viki’s Granola.

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  1. Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand

Stock up on nutritious snacks like fruit, whole grain crackers and mixed nuts. These options will fill you up and can all fit in your dorm room! Also be sure to carry a snack with you as you’re going from class to class, you never know when you’ll be hungry!

You can find some of my favorite healthy snacks, here! 

  1. Schedule Exercise Like It’s A Required Class

Eating well is just one part of the equation to maintaining a healthy weight at college. It’s just as important to keep up or even increase activity levels. Make it a priority to fit exercise into your regular schedule.

(I’ll be posting some of my favorite workouts, fitness equipment and tips over the next few days on Class and the City!)

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  1. Make A Refillable Water Bottle A Permanent Accessory

Whether you’re studying, listening to a lecture or sitting down for a meal, keep water on hand as your primary beverage. Staying hydrated is important to keep your energy up, reduce hunger and help you avoid sugary and unhealthy drinks that can add on unnecessary empty calories!

The water bottle above supports Breast Cancer Awareness and has a mist component as well!

Stay Classy! xx

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Pretty In Pink Recharge Smoothie

There are some days when I just can’t seem to get myself motivated. I’ll have a list of exactly what I need to do, but somehow manage to keep procrastinating until enough time has passed that there’s no way I will finish everything in time. This is totally unproductive and a bad habit that I’m trying to break! I’ve noticed that more times than not, this laziness occurs on days where I’m exhausted either physically or mentally. I created this smoothie to recharge my physical energy levels by feeding my muscles some extra protein and also my mental energy with a variety of berries, fruits and hydrating coconut water. xx

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Classy Cookbook Logo

Pretty In Pink Recharge Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 Minutes        Cook Time: 1 Minute        Total Time: 6 Minutes

Let’s Get Started:

8 strawberries
13 raspberries
½ an apple
½ a banana
½ a cucumber
a handful of blueberries
1-2 scoops of Greek Girl Beauty Protein (optional)
¼ cup soy milk
¼ cup coconut water
a handful of dried coconut

Let’s Get Cooking:

Blend fruit, protein and liquids with a few ice cubes. When desired thickness, pour into glass and garnish with coconut. Enjoy!

Let’s Get Creative:

The more fruit you add, the better!😉

Stay Classy! xx

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Back to School Series ’16/’17: New School Year, New Signature Scent

If you have a semi-Type A personality like me, (okay fine, a very Type A personality like me) you know there can be a lot more planning that goes into starting a new school year than just room décor and textbooks. A fun tradition that I started my freshman year of college is that for each school year I’d purchase a new perfume – which would then become my go-to scent for the year. Freshman year was La Vie Est Belle by Lancome, Sophomore Year was Romance by Ralph Lauren and Junior Year was W by Ted Baker London… If you know me personally, you’ll see that it’s a bit eerie (and crazy) how spot on these scents set the tone for each year!

That being said, I’m not quite sure what my latest perfume acquisition means for my upcoming senior year (again, how is it already senior year!?), but I’m totally in love with everything about Ariana Grande’s new fragrance “Sweet Like Candy” and it’s already sitting on my dresser, waiting for move-in day!

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This perfume actually just launched last month at Ulta Beauty. It retails between $20 (if you’re just looking for the hair mist) and $59 (for a full-size 3.4 fl oz bottle). I actually have the 1 oz bottle and it’s the perfect size for the school year! What I really love is that the bottle design matches the fragrance. The scent is soft and full of sweet berries and fluffy marshmallow – but there’s a faint hint of floral to balance it out. The bottle mirrors the smell with it’s matte ballet pink dipped exterior, indented like a candy jewel. It’s topped with a fluffy pink “cotton candy” pom pom, bringing together design and fragrance.

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As much as I’m enamored with the bottle, it isn’t something I can carry around with me all the time – to class, work, the gym, yoga class, etc. I keep it on my dresser and spritz before I leave in the morning or go out later in the day, but I’ve started using a on-the-go perfume vaporizer and it’s truly a game changer! The Classic HD Travalo can hold up to 5 ml of your favorite fragrance and is TSA approved (YAY). You simply pump your favorite perfume into the vaporizer and you can take it with you anywhere. It’s awesome for travel and post-workout session hangouts. It comes in various designs and colors and retails for just $19.99. It’s not exactly a “dorm” essential, but you’ll definitely use it every day!

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I hope you all have a sweet semester!😉 Stay tuned for more Back to School Series ‘16/’17! P.S. Don’t forget to enter the Invisible Glass Giveaway!!!! 

Stay Classy! xx

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Back to School Series ’16/’17: Let’s Get Cleaning + GIVEAWAY

When I start thinking of back-to-school shopping, new cleaning supplies are definitely not what I’m most excited about getting. Though they’re usually the last few items to pick up at the store, if I’ve learned anything from living in a forced-triple dorm room (a room sized for two people except they throw in an extra roomie!) and two double dorm rooms, it’s that space is limited. You’ll be trying to figure out ways to cram as many of your precious and necessary (no, there’s no way I’m leaving that at home!) belongings into this room as possible and the last thing you want on your mind is how much dust or dirt you’re inhaling, or what type of bugs and little creatures your poor dorm hygiene is attracting… I know, worst-case scenario am I right?

THANK GOODNESS the latter has never happened to me (despite how filthy one of my roommates in the forced triple kept her few square feet of the room) but last year someone in my dorm thought it would be funny to place plastic cockroaches on the stairwell and down the hallways and it FREAKED ME OUT. Believe me, you do not want them in your room – fake or real!

So to avoid said horrors and to ensure that you’ll be living in clean and healthy conditions next year, I’ve put together a list of dorm cleaning essentials that don’t take up much space, but will definitely come in handy! As soon as you get to school don’t forget to make a cleaning schedule with your roommate(s) and STICK TO IT. Whether you clean once a week, bi-weekly, tri-weekly, every day (if you do, you’re awesome), make sure everyone’s actually doing their part or else things can get gross pretty fast…

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  1. Black & Dekker Hand Vacuum

Taking up much less space than a full-size vacuum, the Black & Dekker Hand Vacuum with Washable Filter is perfect for picking up the crumbs, dust and dirt that so easily accumulates on a dorm room floor. I’ll be bringing mine to school with me in a few weeks! It comes in a variety of colors and retails for $21. (Plus you get free 2-3 day shipping with an Amazon Prime Student Account!)

IG home products

  1. Invisible Glass + GIVEAWAY

From the windows to the wall (mirror) you’re definitely going to need this Invisible Glass EZ Grip Spray Cleaner for your dorm room. I especially love this one because it eliminates the need to waste paper towels or tissues to clean with! It comes with a Reach and Clean Tool, which you can use to reach higher up places and get an even brighter result. The Reach and Clean Tool retails for $14.99, the EZ Grip Spray Cleaner retails for $7 and the Lens Cleaning Wipes retail for $10… BUT  you can enter to win the EZ Grip Spray Cleaner, Reach and Clean Tool AND Lens Cleaning Wipes through Class and the City!

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Just make sure you are following this blog via WordPress or E-mail and comment your past or present college mascot. xx

  1. Swiffer + Wipes

The epitome of dorm cleaning supplies is the treasured Swiffer and Swiffer Wipes. When you’re looking to do a thorough (but quick) room clean, this is exactly what you’ll need. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to “Swiffer” the room but the results (and amount of gross dirt you pick up) will make you wonder why you don’t do it every other day… The Swiffer Starter Kit retails for $16 and Refill Wipes retail for $12.

  1. Cleaning Wipes

These wipes are so cost-efficient and overall useful. Even on days when you aren’t dedicating 30-45 minutes to thoroughly cleaning your dorm room, you can wipe down your personal items in just a few seconds. I make sure to wipe my desk, dresser and bookshelf every two or three days. It is truly amazing to see how much dust and dirt can collect in such a short time! You can find them at just about any convenience store, but I love using these. The Clorox Cleaning Wipes retail for $10 for a pack of 3.

WELL KEPT

  1. Lens Cleaning Wipes

This is not necessarily an “essential” item, but it does help a lot. Just by giving my laptop screen a quick wipe every so often with one of these lens cleaning wipes I notice a difference in my screen visibility. As someone who wears glasses and contacts I know how to appreciate what it means to see clearly! I’ve been using the Well-Kept Screen Cleansing Wipes above retail for $6. I’ve also tried and love the Invisible Glass Lens Cleaning Wipes retail for $10 and can be used on computer or phone screens, glasses or camera lenses – And you can enter the giveaway to win them for free! 

  1. Broom/Dust Pan

Especially if your room has a hard-wood floor, this will come in handy. If you get a small set like this one you can store it in a bin of cleaning supplies and whip it out as needed. This set retails for $5.

  1. Garbage Can(s) & Bags

The secret to keeping uninvited “guests” out of your room is an organized garbage and recycling system in room that gets emptied just about every day. Most dorms offer garbage rooms in every hallway or on every floor and making sure that your garbage is empty contributes many positive things to your room. Again, you’ll be living in limited space and you want this to be as clean and fresh smelling as possible! These Mesh Metal Wastebaskets retail for $6 each.

  1. Air Fresheners

In case the above system fails – or you just enjoy living in a room that smells good – I would definitely suggest investing in an air freshener or two. You can’t go wrong with Febreeze sprays and I also really love the Air Freshening Beads and wall plug-ins. These retail for $5.09 for a pack of two, $3.89 and $12.99, respectively.

Hand San

  1. Hand Sanitizer

I always keep at least one mini bottle of hand sanitizer with me at all times. Especially living in the big city this is so important with the zillions of germs going around! It’s also really helpful to keep a bottle in your dorm room, especially if you’re sharing a communal bathroom that’s down the hallway and inconvenient to wash your hands before snacking. The mini retails for $1.75 each OR 5 for $6 and the large retails for $6.99.

  1. Dish Soap + Sponges

Even if you don’t have a kitchen in your room, you are definitely going to need dish soap. Whether you have a teapot or Keurig in your dorm, you’ll be using and washing cups and mugs, plates and utensils ALL the time. You can find them on sale at most convenience stores, grocery stores and department stores. They retail for around $1-5.

  1. Paper Towels

You won’t know why you’re getting them for your dorm room when you do, but when something spills you’ll be so glad you did! I wouldn’t suggest bringing more than two rolls with you to school because they’ll just take up space until you need them, plus they’re sold in most stores that you’ll have on or around campus. They usually retail $1-3.

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  1. Tissues

The same as paper towels, tissues are more of a precaution that can become an essential all of a sudden. Switching from the heat of the outdoors to the freezing AC of the indoors and vice versa, it won’t be hard to catch a cold. This combined with seasonal allergies make tissues a pretty great investment, because there’s nothing worse than needing a tissue and not having one handy! They usually retail $1-4 for travel packets and full boxes. The Kleenex Perfect Fit Tissues above double as bright decorations and fit in small spaces! A pack of four is $6.59.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!🙂 Stay Classy! xx

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Back To School Series: ’16-’17: Wrinkle Free Style + Dorm Essentials

With move-in day right around the corner, I’ve been getting my back-to-school shopping out of the way – including room decorations, cleaning supplies and my fall wardrobe. As I’m an upperclassman (how is it already senior year!?) I’m moving into an apartment in a few weeks, which makes my shopping list EXTRA long. Now in addition to bedroom and bathroom supplies I need things for my living room and kitchen… and enough of it all for my four roommates and myself! I’m sharing some of my favorite back to school essentials on here the next few weeks and I hope they’re helpful!

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After three years of using the same hangers – and a wardrobe that’s been known to be so full it’s not uncommon for my hangers to break – it was time for a new collection. I’m sure by now many of you have seen the movie “JOY” featuring Jennifer Lawrence’s award-winning role. It came out last year and was inspired by inventor and entrepreneur, Joy Mangano. Mangano’s home goods collection is expanding this summer with her dorm essentials!

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For my closet next year, I tried out Joy Mangano’s Huggable Hangers in purple, which come in a 6-pack of shirt hangers and a variety of different colors! The hangers are actually an incredible deal right now because they are on clearance for $3.95/6-pack and if you sign up for e-mails you get an additional 15% off your purchase. Although something that might be overlooked, hangers are an easy and practical way to help coordinate your dorm – making move in a bit less stressful! I’ve tried out these hangers and will definitely be bringing them to school with me in a few weeks. Not only are they one of my favorite colors, but they’re sure to keep my clothes from falling down amidst groggy mornings of getting dressed. It’s a small convenience like this that can go such a long way throughout the course of your day!

I’ve done a bit more exploring on the Joy Mangano website and fell in love with the “My Little Steamer” which is an awesome alternative to ironing. Especially right after unpacking my luggage on move-in day, I find that the majority of my clothes are so wrinkled that they aren’t wearable. This steamer is the perfect quick-fix to a wrinkled outfit and takes much less time to use than setting up an iron and ironing board. It is definitely going to be a go-to problem solver for me next year.

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In the photos you guys can see some of my favorite fall clothing staples (happily hanging from the purple velvet Huggable Hangers). I was so excited when I found this nude and rose embroidered silk and sequined shirt from Zara. It’s been on my wish list for a while (waiting to be purchased in my online shopping cart for weeks) and I happened upon it in the store the other day – yay no shipping cost! I’ll be pairing it with dark jeans and leather booties… if only this heat wave would cool down! I’ll be putting up some more fall style posts soon. Are there any particular outfit styles you guys would like to see?

Let me know in the comments or via e-mail!

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Featured:

Joy Mangano “Huggable Hangers” (Retail for $3.95/6-pack); Joy Mangano “My Little Steamer” (Retails for $29.99); Silk and Sequined Shirt, Zara (Retails $19.99); Cocktails Silk Shirt, Zara ($49.99), Black and White Striped Off-the-Shoulder Shirt, Nordstrom ($21).

Stay Classy! xx

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Endless Summer Dip

As summer starts winding down – I know I know, let’s just not talk about it – it’s time to start penciling in the last few BBQs and get-togethers before the first cool fall wind. This healthy summer dip recipe has been my personal favorite this summer and I’ve borrowed it from my mom to share with you guys! It is a delicious combination of fresh veggies garnished to taste with EVOO, salt, pepper and cilantro. It’s a great source of protein and makes for a pretty appetizer that looks as good as it’ll make you feel🙂

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Classy Cookbook Logo

Endless Summer Dip

Prep Time: 5 Minutes        Cook Time: 0 Minutes        Total Time: 5 Minutes

Let’s Get Started:

1 can black beans, rinsed
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 bag sweet corn, frozen
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 handful fresh cilantro or as desired, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Let’s Get Cookin’:

In a medium sized serving bowl, combine chopped vegetables. Mix in cilantro and a few teaspoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Let’s Get Creative:

There’s not much that could go wrong with adding a few more yummy veggies to this healthy summer dip! Chopped peppers, snap peas and carrots are just a few veggie options you can add. I loved serving them on the Kontos Cocktail Flatbreads and also in this adorable pinwheel quesadilla!

Stay Classy! xx

PS – This week starts the Class and the City 2016-2017 Back to School Series! Mixed with a few (very very late, I apologize!) travel posts and recipes, I’ll be showcasing my favorite dorm essentials, outfits, health and fitness tips and beauty products for the fall! Get excited guys, I know I am!🙂

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Budapest, Hungary Day #1

Before jumping right into Budapest and the 7-hour journey to get there, I feel like we need to rewind a little bit back to Prague. In my last European travel post I left off with my last night in Prague, spent at a few casual bars and ending at Anonymous Bar. Ben and I trekked through the gorgeous Jewish quarter back to our hostel to get ready for the long journey ahead of us the next day.

We woke up a little before seven a.m. to get to the bus station. The hostel was amazing and scheduled a cab to pick us up the day before, warning us that the drivers sometimes try to charge exorbitant fees to tourists. As we were sleepy and out of Kroners, we got lucky that our driver not only accepted card payment but also was more interested in what we were doing in the Czech Republic and why we would ever leave New York City, instead of charging us extra. We made it to the station with time to spare, unlike in Amsterdam where we almost missed our bus because we had somehow skipped passport control. This ride would be shorter, but only by a few hours.

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Like any lengthy trip taken on public transport, little room is left for belongings and the space that is left is reserved for frustration. There were about 15 stops before we arrived in Budapest and contrary to popular belief, the driver did not permit passengers to exit the bus unless they were getting off for good. This led to 7 hours sans a bathroom break (the bathroom on the bus was so gross it was not worth it) and sans lunch – or in our case, breakfast and lunch. By the time we arrived in Budapest, our body’s hated us for rationing three Belvita bars and two apples over the course of the 7 hour ride, plus the time it took for us to wake up and arrive at the bus station… It goes without saying that I ALWAYS carry a snack with me now, even if I’m just going out for a few hours.

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Despite all of this, the 7 hours also went by quickly at times, while we were napping or taking in incredible landscapes as we drove through the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Windmills and lush green terrain swept across the outer areas of Bratislava, Slovakia and through the hill and mountain towns outside the main city. As I have ancestry in Slovakia, this is a trip that I hope to come back and do fully; spending more time soaking in the country’s beauty, food and culture.

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Unloading the bus we listed our priorities and set out for the nearby metro station. We tackled the bathroom and ATM before figuring out that there was zero chance of us figuring out how to reach our hostel by train sans an Internet connection, so we defeated (and hungrily) took a cab.

We stayed in the Essential hostel, a converted apartment building with a spiral staircase, marble floors and a gorgeous exterior. The staff was incredibly helpful and when we asked where to go for lunch they directed us to a traditional Hungarian buffet a few blocks away…

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Already used to the heavy potato-based dishes of the Czech Republic I was hoping to find something on the lighter side in Hungary. Yet it seemed that the further south in Europe you go, the heavier the food is made. The buffet offered simple and traditional Hungarian dishes such as Goulash and blood sausages – something I ate without realizing what it was for the first few bites, as the labeling signs were in Hungarian and I was unable to decipher them. I had a sampling of these foods as well as pasta that looked something like mac and cheese but tasted nothing like it, and a selection of yummy deserts and beer. In total, for two people to eat all of this food and alcohol was a grand total of about 5,620.00 Forint – which though seemingly exorbitant, when converted into USD was about $21. What a nice break from the crazy Pound to USD conversion rates!

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Tummies full (and starting to hurt) we walked around a small downtown area before heading back to the hostel for a nap. Our room – a four bed dorm – was the largest hostel room we had stayed in and it had a lovely view of the street below. After a quick nap we changed and decided to go out for some nighttime exploring in a nearby part of the city by the Danube River. It was this short hour of casual sightseeing where I fell in love with Budapest and it became the favorite trip I took outside of London.

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Along the waterfront, Budapest at night is simply incomparable. Each side of the river represents half of the country. Across from where we were walking on the West Bank was “Buda” and the side on which we were walking on the East Bank was “Pest” – pronounced “pesht”.

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Originally a Celtic settlement, the two cities, along with “Obuda” or “Old Buda” fought between one another to see who could build the tallest, most relevant and most beautiful city. Each side of the river tried to outdo the other, eventually becoming one united country in November 1873 and the result is an unfathomably splendid sight to see.

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The deep gold lights on Pest’s Parliament buildings reflected into the Danube and connecting with Buda is something so beautiful that it made me wonder how I had been so blessed to see it for myself in person. Budapest is truly a place of surreal beauty.

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After our stroll Ben and I stopped at an outdoor beer garden for appetizers and a pint or two – the Hungarian version of a pint is the equivalent of a huge German beer mug… a lot of beer! We had just another half hour before hopping on the Metro and going to the event we had decided to splurge on… the Sparty.

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I will go more into detail about the history behind Hungary’s thermal bath culture in my next post, but the country’s thermal spas are a huge draw for people from around the globe.

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The “Sparty” is a huge party that happens just a few times a month on Saturday in Budapest’s largest thermal bathhouse – Szechenyi. It is an experience that is truly once in a lifetime. There was a DJ in the pool and people from all over the world stripped down to their bathing suits and swim trunks and swarmed the bar and the pools.

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I feel like this was the epitome of a crazy European college kid experience and had so much fun that for the first time I forgot to get a picture of myself in front of the craziness. However just before heading out I did take a few photos of the Sparty but not even a picture can capture how cool the experience was.

Stay Classy! xx

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Classic PB&J Muffins

I’ve been feeling under-the-weather the last few days – how did I manage to catch a virus while on vacation?! – and have been eating really plain. I was looking for a sweet snack that was also healthy and decided nothing could be more versatile than muffins.

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These PB&J Muffins remind me of the PB&J obsession most people go through when they’re younger, only to come back to it years later when they’re trying to “adult” and end up making PB&J sandwiches for lunch most days due to time constraints. The muffins are great for a snack or with breakfast (or if you’re really trying to tempt me, with a scoop of ice cream for dessert).

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This month I’ve promised myself to eat the most natural meals possible. I am cutting all processed sweets and junk food out of my diet and have kick-started the last few weeks I have left of the BBG program complemented with Yoga classes and cardio. Working out this much makes me hungry literally ALL the time – so the last few days have been awesome when I can grab a homemade muffin as a snack and know it isn’t a cheat treat! xx

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Classy Cookbook Logo

Classic PB&J Muffins

Prep Time: 15 Minutes     Cook Time: 20 Minutes     Total Time: 35 Minutes

Let’s Get Started:

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups fat-free milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg (or ¼ cup egg substitute)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup jelly (any flavor)

Let’s Get Cooking:

Preheat oven to 400*. Combine flour, sugars, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk.

Make a well in the center of the mixture. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla); add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups. (I was able to make 18 by making them a bit smaller.) Fill each cup half full with batter. Spoon ½-1 teaspoon jelly into each cup. Spoon remaining batter on top to cover jelly.

Bake at 400* for 20 minutes or until muffins become golden. Let cool and enjoy!

Let’s Get Creative:

These muffins feature the classic ingredient pair and are delicious because of it. You can of course shake things up a bit by adding some other delicious ingredients, like Nutella and marshmallow fluff – but the original recipe will definitely be the healthiest!

Speaking of healthy, you can substitute ¾ cup all-purpose flour for ¾ cup whole wheat flour. You can also substitute 1 egg for ¼ cup egg substitute.

Stay Classy & Enjoy! xx