Wednesday, February 29, 2012

NEXT UP: Sunday Brunch at Top of the Hub, Downtown Boston

Any college student knows that the best part of your parents coming to visit is the free restaurant meals and getting driven to CVS to buy the otherwise cumbersome 16-pack of toilet paper.

Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating. While it's definitely not the reason I love when my parents visit, it is fun to go out to nice restaurants while a parental unit is in town. Recently, my dad and I chose to eat at Top of the Hub in Downtown Boston.

Situated on the top floor of the Prudential Center, Top of the Hub rests 52 floors above ground. It boasts an array of fancy food and an amazing view of Beantown.

I took this photo myself. Doesn't it make you want to visit Boston?

My dad treated me to the Sunday Brunch which consisted of a Prixe-Fixe menu. Granola? Cinnamon Bread? Chocolate?? Don't mind if I do.

We started off with mimosas and granola. The drink was tasty, but the granola was nothing special to write home (or to write in a blog?) about. Fear not though--I ate the whole thing. For appetizers, I was drawn to the sweet Grapefruit Brulee while Dad picked the savory Arugula Salad. We decided to share (read: I stole food off Dad's plate) and determined that both choices were delish.

Granola; Grapefruit Brulee; Arugula Salad

Up next: eggs! I ordered the Grilled Vegetable Frittata; Dad ordered the Eggs Meurette. Father knew best for this one. I found his dish to be more interesting and unexpected. My frittata was just...a small frittata. A great one, but still.

Vegetable Frittata; Eggs Meurette

My favorite part of any multi-course meal did not disappoint. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or maybe it does, since my dad's an aerospace engineer) to know that you should order both dessert options when presented with just two choices. I called the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Profiterole. Dad's Chocolate Panna Cotta came out with a birthday candle on it!! I wonder how the waiters knew...

Ice Cream Profiteroles; Chocolate Panna Cotta

The profiteroles were hands-down the best part of the meal. I may even have licked the plate (what, you don't do that in fancy restaurants?). While each portion was modestly sized, I was completely, happily full at the end.

My Conclusion: Top of the Hub's brunch food is great, but I could probably get a more amazing meal at a similarly priced restaurant. However, the jaw-dropping view at Top of the Hub is what really makes the experience worthwhile.

The view, and the amazing company. :-) Love you Dad!

Would you rather splurge on a restaurant with okay food and a breath-taking ambiance/view? Or vice versa? Have you been to any fancy restaurants lately?

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NEXT UP: Controlling Your Blog Addiction

It seems appropriate for the first post on my fourth blog to be about my blogging addiction.

Yes, you read that right. Fourth blog. Blogging addiction. I suppose I'm being redundant.

I can't help it. I love to write. I love to read blogs. I currently have 83 blogs in my Google Reader, and that's after narrowing down the list.

Now before you sign me up for Bloggers Anonymous, ship me off to blogging rehab, or scold me for being one of those people who start a blog, snatch up a blog URL so no one else can use it, and then never use said blog again (you know who you are!)...give me a chance to run through my past blog affairs.

Where it all began: 365 Days of Art

My very first blog was born out of a personal goal. As an art-lover, I thought it would be fun to create a blog in true Julie & Julia style. I challenged myself to blog a new piece of personal art every day for one year. That meant daily posts.


What was I thinking? It's hard enough to write a blog post every day, but to commit to writing a blog post AND creating a piece of artwork every single day? Committing to marriage would be easier! (Remind me I said that in 10 years...)

Okay. So I failed at the whole daily-posting-because-I'm-a-young-idealistic-blogging-newbie thing. However, I did not fail with this blog. In fact, I am still in the process of updating it, having just reached my 103rd post. As long as I am interested in creating art (always) and still feel a determination to finish my challenge (duh), 365 Days of Art will remain an active, growing blog. I don't write this one for a particular audience or to acquire many followers; I write it for myself.

The Class Assignment: Enjoy Your Cheerios

I started this blog under duress! It was against my will! Blame my professor! He's the blog-addiction enabler!!

Ha. In all seriousness, this blog was started as a project for my New Media & PR class, but I ended up loving writing this one. It actually solidified my interest in contributing to the blogosphere. Not only did I have to create a blog, but also I had to research different blogging platforms, learn search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, utilize Google Analytics to improve popularity, and more.

The tagline sums it up: A look at healthy living for busy college students. I posted daily (*gasp!*) on weekdays (*hesitant sigh of relief*) on certain topics: Munchies Mondays, Tune-In Tuesday, Whatever Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, and Frugal Fridays. I even gained a pretty loyal readership--I ended up with over 130 comments and 5,000 page views.

However, my love for Enjoy Your Cheerios was not strong enough. When the class ended, so did this blog. I didn't have time to mourn over its death, though, since the next few months of my life were spent abroad. Great segue into Blog #3....

The Travel Blog: Where in the World is Jenny?
Alternate title idea: Does Anyone Else in the World Read this Blog Besides Jenny's Family?
How does a 21-year-old student studying abroad stay in touch with her family back home? She starts a blog, of course!

Besides, typing up my travel tales and inserting pictures into a webpage was much more appealing to me than pulling out a journal. Privacy died with Web 2.0! (Is there a special font to indicate sarcasm?)

This blog chronicled my time studying in London and taking weekend excursions across Europe. Honestly, I still look at this blog frequently to reminiscence about my amazing experiences that semester. I considered continuing this blog after I returned to the United States, but it seems more fitting to limit it to just that one semester.

So there you have it. My reasons for having three other blogs. I feel like Ross explaining why he's been through three divorces. Not as bad as you thought, right? Besides the first one, the blogs were doomed to last for a limited amount of time. Hence why I am so excited about Next Up... On the plus side, my past blogs taught me some important things about How to Succeed in Blogging for a Long Period of Time (I just got a GREAT idea for a musical...).

  • Don't commit to posting every single day. Unless you are a hardcore blogger, posting at least a few times a week should be enough to keep a consistent audience.
  • Give your blog a specific voice, but don't confine yourself to one narrow topic. You can have a niche without feeling too restricted. Make sure you have some creative freedom.
  • Build off reader feedback. If you're not getting much feedback despite staying active in the blogosphere and using SEO tactics, start a dialogue with your readers. Be willing to adapt. Listen to their needs. You don't have to be a slave to their desires, but make sure your content is not only applicable to you.
  • Engage with other blogs. Don't become so focused on your own blog that you ignore others. Half the fun is becoming part of a community. If you find yourself losing interest in writing your blog, make sure you're not putting blinders on to other blogs out there.

Do you have a blog? (Share your link!) Did you have a blog that died out? Are you a fellow recovering blog-aholic?
Or if you were to start a blog, what would it be about?

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