All posts by Paige Smith

Don’t Be Cliche on Valentine’s Day!

Written by Guest Blogger: Amanda Burrill, Travel Channel host, chef, athlete and freelance writer and copyeditor.

Five near-NYC weekend ideas, and a pet care solution that will change your life.

Flowers, chocolate and a dinner reservation on Valentine’s Day? Yawn. You’re better than that! This year Cupid’s bow strikes on a Saturday; the perfect opportunity to indulge in an entire weekend of kissy-face with your significant other. Before you start making excuses, I’ve dug up five great options that still have vacancy.

1. Rustic Getaway

Just 75 miles from NYC, the Malibu Dude Ranch in the Pocono Mountains has been a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner three years running; a perfect getaway from the city grind with scenic horse-riding trails over 800 acres. There are dozens of (complimentary) activities to keep you busy and cozy options like board games, stargazing and nuzzling by the fireplace.

The main lodge features western decor and houses the dining hall, indoor heated swimming pool, game room, gift shop and saloon with entertainment each weekend. Guess rooms are on the second floor, or opt for a private cabin among the trees or boat house on the lake.

The Valentine’s Day Romantic Escape package is Friday, February 13th through Sunday, February 15th and costs $325 per person. Another perk: kids stay free! Malibu Dude Ranch has a no-pet policy (with the exception of service pets) but no worries, because below, as promised, I discuss your pet care savior., reservations: (570) 296-7281

2. Sporty Getaway

Nestled in the northern Catskills is Windham Mountain Resort, which just underwent $11million in capital improvements. Just two hours away from NYC you’ll find the resort’s 1600 vertical feet of skiing, served by twelve lifts, including two high speed detachable quads. The central base lodge offers nourishing fare between slope runs. A spa and three restaurants will keep you busy when you’ve hung up your skis for the day.

You can book a room at the Winwood Inn and ski/ride Friday – Sunday starting at $120 per night, per person. The same deal at the Winwood Condos starts at $148 per night, per person and includes lift ticket, lodging, complimentary breakfast and free shuttles to and from the mountain.

3. Romantic Getaway

Gideon Putnam Resort, just over three hours north of Manhattan, offers a secluded getaway in the foothills of the Adirondacks. The resort, situated on 2,200 acres among the pines and oaks of Saratoga Spa State Park, boasts historic charm and elegant features.

Book services at the legendary Roosevelt Baths, cross-country ski or snowshoe the trails (snowshoes are complimentary) or check out the local cuisine and micro-brews of Saratoga Springs.

Ask for the Romantic Weekend Package or Valentine’s Day Getaway Package., reservations: (866) 890-1171

4. NYC Luxury Stay-cation

Both Manhattan Gansevoort locations are synonymous with urban oasis. A place to see and be seen that caters to your every luxurious need.

The Park Avenue property is home to Ristorante Asellina, a 10,000-sq-ft traditional-meets-modern Italian trattoria. The trendy Gansevoort Park Rooftop offers six venues with unparalleled views of the Empire State Building.

The Meatpacking location offers downtown bustle but the feel of uptown luxury. A great launching pad for club hopping, this hotel is the hub of the NYC nightlife scene. Catch a beautiful Hudson River sunset from your room, grab a bite at inspired American eatery The Chester, and then hit the dance floor.

Both NYC Gansevoort locations offer the “Get Intimate” package which includes, champagne, roses, and much more.

5. NYC Budget Stay-cation

The Pod Hotel, with two budget-friendly Manhattan locations, offers minimalist comfort starting at $89 per night. The rooms are bright, modern and completely connected. Shack up, stream some movies and then explore the neighborhood, all without breaking the bank.

So what do I do with my dog?

Pets; we love them, but they can really get in the way of romance. Pet care logistics and costs are one of the primary reasons couples forego weekend getaways. I have the perfect solution for Fido.

New app DoggyBnB  allows you to utilize your social network, i.e. people you actually know, to find reliable pet care. Build a network by adding and organizing the people you would turn to naturally, your friends. Send pet care requests to your entire network in a matter of seconds and contacts can choose to “fetch” your request. No more leaving your best friend with someone you don’t know or even worse, in a kennel. This is the future of pet care!

With five varied choices and a doggie plan you now have zero excuses. Have a private, worry-free weekend with your special someone.

Keep up with Amanda’s culinary and fitness adventures at and follow her on twitter:

Antar Gamble Hall Winner in First-Ever White House 3D Printed Ornament Design Challenge!

We would like to congratulate Instructor Antar Hall on his winning 3D ornament!

Antar pictured with tree and ornament in background
Antar pictured with tree and ornament in background

Congratulations Antar!! What was your initial reaction when you found out?
I was incredibly excited and had to share the news with my parents right away.

Presidents of Christmas Past & Present rendering
Presidents of Christmas Past & Present rendering
Hall family tree with 3D printed Frosted Detail ornament from
Hall family tree with 3D printed Frosted Detail ornament from

Has winning this award changed anything for you?
It’s garnered a lot of attention for me and my use of 3D modeling software and 3D printing from people I know and many I don’t, both in the U.S. and globally. A lot of this is thanks to being on LinkedIn allowing the news of my ornament to reach people I typically would not have access to or communicate with if I were not on LinkedIn.

Iconic White House Exterior up close
Iconic White House Exterior up close

What was it like to be in the White House during the Holidays?
Going in the White House was amazing. The architecture and decorations were stunning. Inside there were 26 lavishly decorated Christmas trees, lights galore and both high tech and traditional Christmas decorations throughout the many halls and rooms. My ornament was on a tree inside the State Dining Room, next to a richly painted portrait of President Lincoln hung above a fireplace mantle. To finally see my ornament in front of me was such an incredible and somewhat surreal moment. I stood there gazing for awhile and speaking with my mom about it and after taking a few pictures and smiling more with my mom we went on to the remainder of our tour. Among the decorations, we saw many masterfully painted portraits of past Presidents and First Ladies and even saw musical performances by a classical quartet and jazz ensemble. When we came to the end of our tour, exiting the White House was just as magical as entering it and knowing how historical a place you were just in made for an over the top experience gifting memories to cherish and last a lifetime.

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If you are able, will you enter the contest again next year?
Yes, no harm in trying my luck twice!

You are an Alumni and Instructor here at FIT, is there anything you’d like to share with our readers? Words of wisdom?
Anything is possible to achieve with a combination of hard work, strong belief in your abilities and determination to overcome obstacles to reach your goals. Family, good friends and mentors are invaluable and some good fortune along the way doesn’t hurt. Lastly, I’ve found helping others to achieve their goals can create a win-win situation for all.

Thank you for sharing your photos and once in a lifetime experience with us and we will see you soon for your next class!

Antar Hall teaches CTD 429 Intro to Rhino for the CAD Novice

Illustration Interview

Meet our Instructor,  Joan Chiverton!

Joan Chiverton

So, tell us a little about yourself…

I’ve been an artist and illustrator my whole life. Recently I’ve discovered I really enjoy etching, monoprinting and silkscreen printing. I make it a point to sketch wherever I go. I often bring etching plates to concerts and jazz clubs and work directly on them at those venues.

I’m currently represented by The Old Print Shop, where I’m showing a new series of musician etchings this fall.

I’m on the Board of Directors of the Society of Illustrators. I teach at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and Harbor VA Hospital. And I organize a special sketching program at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery. My work has been in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and numerous other publications.

I’ve also worked with numerous ad agencies and corporations as an award-winning art director and designer.

I can’t remember a time I wasn’t painting and drawing. My father, Albert Pels, was a fine artist, my mother, Gertrude Pels was an artist and children’s book writer. I’ve also managed to make time to raise 3 amazing children, Michael, Peter and Julia.

etching of musicians
Etching of musicians

Was there a project or accomplishment that you consider to be significant in your career?

I won Art Director’s Club awards and One Show gold awards as an art director in New York City before becoming creative director at several ad agencies in the Albany, NY region, including owning my own business. During that period, my companies won hundreds of creative awards. I also had a close working relationship with the New York State Children’s Theater in Albany, a pioneering theater group that saw the debut of many important plays and musicals.

Since my return to New York City, I’ve concentrated on illustration, my first love. The city is, and has always been my favorite subject, and I’ve been creating work that captures its people and its music.

concert sketched on location by Joan Chiverton
Concert sketched on location

Tell us about your current/upcoming exhibits…

Recently I’ve had exhibits and been part of shows at the Society of Illustrators, NY Society of Etchers, New Jersey City University and the Mehu Gallery. I am represented by The Old Print Shop on Lexington Ave and 30 Street.

sketch at Bark Dog Walk for Cancer Society
sketch at Bark Dog Walk for Cancer Society

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

When students start to draw they observe their environment and see the world differently. It literally changes their lives. I especially enjoy seeing some of my students progress professionally and gain recognition in the arts. And of course, I love to see students using the talents and skills they’ve learned with me, to enrich their lives and professions, whatever path they choose.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us!

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Joan Chiverton teaches SXD 635 Quick Sketching for the Pet Product Business and SXG 140 Life Drawing Basics for Costume Design.