10 cheap, easy holiday gift ideas

Holiday shopping can be tough – especially if you’re on a college budget and have a long list of friends and roommates expecting gifts. Here are 10 cheap, easy DIY gifts that will help you check off your shopping list and stay within your budget!

1. Hot cocoa kit

Layer hot cocoa mix, chocolate shavings and mini-marshmallows in a jar. Tie on some festive ribbon and attach colorful straws or even a mini bottle of Bailey’s.

Hot cocoa in a jar

Hot cocoa in a jar

2. Ornament

You can take this in many different directions. Get a simple glass ornament and fill it with sand from a beach vacation you and your bestie took together. For a rustic ornament, buy pre-cut wood slices from Hobby Lobby, screw eye-hooks onto the top, decorate it with sharpie, and spray on some clear sealer. Tie some twine onto the eye-hook and you’re done!

Wood ornament

Wood ornament

3. Pedicure in a jar

Who doesn’t love a pedicure? Give your friend a “pedi in a jar” by filling a jar with nailpolish, mini foot scrub and lotion, a mini nail file, cozy socks and Hershey kisses.

Tie on a tag that says “Wishing you warm & cozy ‘mistletoes’ all winter long.”

Pedicure in a jar

Pedicure in a jar

To read the rest of the list, click here.

Adventure the Great – Auburn students turned Rockstars

Adventure the Great

Adventure the Great

An odd collection of people and instruments scatter the stage. They don’t look like they would be friends, let alone band mates. But when Adventure the Great begins to play, it all makes sense.

“It’s an inside joke that we don’t look like we belong in the same band because we’re all totally and completely different,” said Capi Jenkins, 22, violinist and vocalist. “But somehow as a band we have really good chemistry.”

That chemistry produces a sound that is unique to Auburn. Jenkins described it as “baroque pop.”

“A lot of the strings are classically trained, so many of the melodies are classical,” Jenkins said. “But the guitar parts are inspired by grunge and folk.”

Read the rest my article about Adventure the Great here.

4-H Goes High-Tech with Digital Badges

Youth participating in Rockets to the Rescue!

Youth participating in Rockets to the Rescue!

4-H got an upgrade with the use of digital badges for their National Youth Science Day experiment, Rockets to the Rescue!

4-H National Youth Science Day connected thousands of youth across the country through a mutual experiment. 4-H NYSD began in 2008, and since then over 5 million youth have participated in experiments from robotics to alternative energy.

“It gets kids engaged in a learning experience that affects science, technology, engineering and math,” said Dr. Tony Cook. Cook is an Alabama Cooperative Extension System 4-H specialist.

Read my article about Rockets to the Rescue! and digital badges here.

Annual Auburn Downtown Trick or Treat

family on Halloween

A family at Downtown Trick or Treat

City of Auburn Parks and Recreation and the Auburn Downtown Merchants hosted their 14th annual Downtown Trick or Treat on Halloween, Oct. 31 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Downtown Trick or Treat is an alternative to door-to-door trick or treating for families and children 12 and under accompanied by an adult.  The “Monster Merchants” passing out candy were signified by a poster in their window.

“Most merchants participate,” said Dana Stewart, special programs coordinator from Auburn Parks and Rec. “The merchants and the City of Auburn provide the candy.”

To read my preview of the event, click here.

The Brony Club Brings Diversity and Friendship to Auburn

Brony club

Bronies at BronyCon

Most Auburn students are familiar with clubs like the Student Government Association and University Programs Council, but many students may not have heard of the Brony Club.

The Brony Club formed for the appreciation and enjoyment of the television show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The name “brony” is a combination of “bro” and “pony,” although the club is open to females as well.

The Auburn bronies meet every Friday at 6 p.m. in Student Center Room 2225. The club has approximately 20 members, and usually 13 to 15 show up each week. At the meetings the bronies watch episodes of My Little Pony and admire fan artwork on websites like 4chan and Reddit. The club’s artistic members bring in their own computer-generated animations of characters and scenes.

Click here to read more about the Auburn Brony Club.

10 Things Everyone Says While Studying Abroad


Whether you’re in Brussels or Barcelona, be prepared to say all of these.

1. “Do you have Wi-Fi?”

One of the biggest dilemmas study abroad students face is how to use their cell phones. International data
plans will rack up hundred dollar charges in a matter of minutes, so most students can only use their smartphones when Wi-Fi is available. This results in asking, “Do you have Wi-Fi?” at every restaurant, museum, store, or really any building you enter.

2. “How should we split the check?”

Often followed by, “Do you have a 2 euro coin?” Splitting checks is an American phenomenon, so in most foreign countries the responsibility is up to you. Unless you have a wealthy friend that will foot the bill, you will usually have to fork over an oddly specific amount in cash.

3. “7 hour bus ride? That’s not too bad!”

Cheap travel is synonymous with long bus and train rides. While you might groan at the idea of spending 10 hours on a bus in America, the low prices are too good to pass up when you’re traveling overseas.

“During your first few weekend trips, you may think a five hour bus ride sounds miserable, especially when you arrive at 3 a.m. But after a few weeks, it becomes routine. Soon enough, you’re doing 12 hour bus rides and it’s nothing!” said Ally Arrigo, a junior at Ole Miss who spent her summer in Florence, Italy.

Check out my article on Auburn Family to see the rest!

Second Annual Music City Food + Wine Festival Huge Success


(This is a proof-of-concept post to illustrate the creation of a social media release. It is not an actual release.)


The second annual Music City Food + Wine Festival, on Sept. 20 and 21, brought together world-renowned chefs and winemakers with local talent for a truly spectacular weekend in downtown Nashville.


The Music City Food + Wine Festival began in 2013 as a way to combine Nashville’s prominent music scene with Music City Food + Wine Festival Signgourmet foods and wines. It is the creation of Caleb and Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, world-renowned chef Jonathan Waxman, C3 Presents, and Ken Levitan and Andy Mendelsohn.

This year’s festival included two parts. The day included demos and panels along with the “The Grand Taste.” The Grand Taste boasted 25 of Nashville’s top restaurants and more than 40 wine, beer and spirit exhibitors. “Harvest Night” included dishes from world-famous chefs and live music chosen by Nashville’s own Kings of Leon.


The event took place at Public Square Park & Walk of Fame Park in downtown Nashville, Tenn.

The 2014 talent was Andrew Zimmern, Trisha Yearwood, Michael Symon, Masaharu Morimoto, Jonathan Waxman, Tyler Florence, Amanda Freitag, Tim Love, Tandy Wilson, Aaron Sanchez, Mike Lata, Frank Stitt, Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, Ashley Christensen, Sean Brock, Alon Shaya, Kahlil Arnold, Levon Wallace, Roderick Bailey, Matt Bolus, Larry Carlile, Tyler Brown, Carey Bringle, Chris Carter, Lisa Donovan, Daniel Dillingham, Trey Cioccia, Matt Farley, Sarah Gavigan, Giovanni Francesscotti, Jay Flatley, Robert Grace, Hal M. Holden-Bache, George Harvell, Josh Habiger, John Lasater, Andrew Little, Pat Martin, Todd Alan Martin, Margot McCormack, Trevor Moran, Arnold Myint, Deb Paquette, James Peisker, Nick Pellegrino, Barclay Stratton, Karl Worley, Jake Strang and, of 15147381567_2ba7006228_mcourse, Kings of Leon.

The event was 21 and up.


“The people of Nashville are hungry for great food, and to come together in one festival with music is an amazing thing,” said Chef Jonathon Waxman.

“This is my second year doing the festival, and I absolutely love doing it,” said Chef Michael Symon.


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15333914345_cc52c1d5b3_m  People at Music City Food and Wine Festival

All photos by Cambria Harkey. For more photos, click here.

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For more information, email info@musiccityfoodandwinefestival.com.




Maestro 2300 Hosted Wine Dinner on Nov. 5


Wine featured at the dinner

Maestro 2300 hosted its first wine dinner of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 5., featuring wine from the Nickel & Nickel family of wineries in Napa Valley. The dinner was five courses, including a salad, two appetizers, an entrée and a dessert. Each course was paired with a different 100 percent single vineyard 100 percent varietal wine.

Maestro 2300, located at 2300 Moore’s Mill Road, has won the prestigious “Wine Spectator Award of Excellence” for four consecutive years and won OpenTable’s “Notable Wine List” in 2014, which was voted on by diners. The management and staffed was thrilled to feature Nickel & Nickel wines.

Read the rest of my preview of the event here.

Be a Proactive Planter: Fall is the Best Time to Plant Trees and Shrubs

Red tree

Fall color of Red Maple cultivar October Glory

Halloween, Thanksgiving and holiday commercials are around the corner. You should be more concerned about finding a Christmas tree than planting a tree in your yard, right? Wrong! Fall is actually the best time to plant trees and shrubs.

Although most people wait to plant until spring, fall is the optimum time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials that will last for years to come. Check out my article on Extension Daily to find out why fall is best, and how to properly plant your trees and shrubs.

Liveoaks Restaurant and Patio Bar to open this Fall

Liveoaks sign

Although Toomer’s Corner lost its famous oak trees in April 2013, a new “Liveoak” will be coming to Auburn this fall.

Liveoaks Restaurant and Patio Bar, located at the intersection of Glenn Avenue and College Street, is slated to open the weekend of Oct. 25.

Auburn diners can expect a diverse menu with eight to 10 entrees that will change every few months, seven to eight appetizers, and three desserts. Most items will be under $18 to fit a student budget. The most expensive item will be a $25 rib eye.

To read more about Liveoaks, click here.