Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Nostalgia

I've been cleaning and sorting through clothes to my Christmas playlist. In between Celine Dion's high-note-shrieks when I have to turn the volume down (I do love her, though), some great x-mas tunes come on. My all-time favorite Christmas CD is- get ready for it- Snowed In by Hanson. Yup. It is pure boy-band greatness, circa 1997, and is much better than that stupid N*SYNC Christmas CD that everyone likes. I even heard it playing at the grocery store last week.

Also some of my favorites: all the songs from the Love Actually soundtrack, especially White Christmas by Otis Redding and the little girl's version of Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas; Bing Crosby stuff; my roommate Emily's mom's piano tracks; and the Notre Dame Glee Club songs, which took me right back to South Bend, Indiana.


There weren't too many things I loved about the other side of the street, but I did love going to the Glee Club's annual Christmas concert. I can remember them coming into the still-dark auditorium singing Wassail. A couple times I got to hear Lux Aramunque, an Eric Whitacre song that I loved  from my high school chorus-groupie days (I didn't ever sing, but basically all of my best friends were in chorus). It was also great when the Glee Club came caroling at each of the dorms at Saint Mary's, singing all the carols with funny twists- making a tunnel for unsuspecting girls that wandered in during the singing,  And oh man, how I miss my old dorm, Holy Cross, with it's huge entryway featuring a double staircase, St. George slaying the dragon statue, and dark, dark, wood everywhere. So when one of their songs came up on my playlist, I got that nostalgic feeling for school that pops up every now and then. Those songs are what winter in South Bend sounds like to me.

So this is dedicated to all you SMC women who I know are feeling the same nostalgia... and to that awesome tree (first picture) on the island that they cut down. I took these pictures 4 years ago, when we were little freshie babies not yet knowing the winter wrath South Bend could unleash (what were we doing out in the snow in formal dresses?).

Geesh. Who knew it would be possible to actually miss being in a South Bend winter?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Operation Organize Life

1. Clean room (really, this time)
2. Get rid of more clothes to giveaway to charity
3. Do the handwash laundry that I hate to do
4. Send thank you letters and emails to all the wonderful people that let me stay with them in Amsterdam, Belgium, Italy, UK
5. Send catch-up emails to those on my list
5. Think about a "real" job
6. Ponder what a "real" job that I would actually like might be
7. Search for "real" job
8. Find more temp work in the meantime
9. Create an online photography portfolio
10. Look for local art fairs
11. Experiment with printing my photographs from different online sources
12. Find an old school darkroom
13. Find out how long it is until Christmas
14. CRAP. Only 13 days and 45 minutes?! Write Christmas list down from the ideas in my head
15. Buy presents
16. Make presents
17. Do stuff on the computer then GET OFF.

Estimated time of completion: 2015.

My motto:

Image source
Really though. I accomplish more this way. Example A: I have 9 tabs open on Firefox right now. You see how much I'm getting done, right?

CRAP. Only 13 days and 32 minutes til Christmas now...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Longwood Gardens

On Thanksgiving day I ran around with some of the family at Longwood Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware.
Isn't it gorgeous? We got to go in a bunch of huge treehouses. When it got dark, everything was glowing in Christmas lights.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dinner: Linguine with Spinach, Etc.

I've been trying to eat more healthy spinach lately. You can throw a whole bag in the pan and it will wilt down to hardly anything in a matter of minutes. The other day I cooked up some linguine and paired it with sauteed spinach and garlic in roasted red pepper bruschetta topping. It was delicious.

I made a slight variation of that dish for dinner last night: sauteed spinach with roasted red peppers, chopped onions, a bit of extra jarred spaghetti sauce, and some left over red wine. I like to throw the pasta in the skillet before serving it. That way it gets better coated with sauce and picks up and extra juices or flavors left in the pan.

Pair with parmesan cheese and a bit of lonely and delicious prosecco won from a work training the other night, and you have yourself a delicious dinner.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Calendar for December

I accidentally missed a work shift last week (very bad). To keep myself more in check, and because beautiful/interesting calendars rock, I decided to make my own. OK, so it's not a whole calendar, but it is this month: December.

I set up a work station on my desk armed with: paper, a bone folder (for ripping the sheet of paper in half), blue and silver ink, quills, watercolors, paint brushes, a pen, and a cup for water (Pascucci! Yes. See this or this oldie.) I'm still figuring out just how to use a quill, but here goes...

The process:
-Rip paper to a good size
-Paint "December 2011" in watercolor
-Create ink splatters
-Draw lines for days in pen, spaced about 1cm apart
-Write dates and day abbreviations in ink (distinguish weekends with dots)
-With the extra line add a quote pertaining to December
-Add important days

Not perfect, but I think it turned out pretty well. If I had to do it over (or for next month), I would scratch the watercolor and change the "December 2011" to ink to match the more thin, delicate nature of the rest of the calendar.

 "In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." Albert Camus (Inspired by this beautiful set of work.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In Honor of Rainbows

A couple of nights ago I had a hankering (what a word) for something sweet. So, in honor of chancing upon a beautiful, bright, double rainbow, my cousins and I decided to make rainbow cupcakes!

Peter and Kathleen had a blast blending the colors. It was a perfect activity for both a 12 year old and a "5 & 3/4!" year old. With Kathleen's help measuring, we made a vanilla batter from scratch. Then we divided the batter into four bowls and they each picked two colors to create using food dye. They mixed up purple, green, yellow, and a lovely peach color. Then we spooned the batter into the cupcake liners in various patterns: all four in a rainbow, two colors, mismatched, etc.

So fun!

P.S. We also spent the night by Kathleen teaching me the moves to this song they are learning at school. I love it! See if you recognize it too...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


A first look back at beautiful, sun-drenched Roma!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Back to the U.K. to spend time with relatives! Hannah and I were met with delicious tea (milk and two sugars, please)... and scones with clotted cream and raspberry jam.

Fun fact: clotted cream must have at least 50% fat. Perfect.

It's great to spend time with the English cousins! Tonight was full of cake, balloons, laughter, and an explosion of PINK. Can you guess which one is the 2 year old birthday girl?

Sorry for the blogging hiatus... reports on Rome to follow, of course!
P.S. What do you think of the new layout? Goodbye Dutch!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Back In Italy!!!!

I'm back in Italy!! I can't tell you how excited I am. I've actually been here since Sunday, but Italy has terrible internet access generally- one thing I forgot about. A couple things while I have the internet:

I flew Ryanair into Rome and took a train to Naples. Yes, they still have that trumpet da-da-dah! sound when you land to say the flight was on time. And no, nobody clapped this time! Sad. I could see Rome from the plane and I'm pretty sure my heart skipped a beat when I spotted the Pantheon! Everything looked so tiny from the plane. I passed right through Rome, but I go there officially on Sunday, for one week, with Hannah. I can't even describe how excited I am to return to the city where I studied for 2 semesters. It was such a significant time for me. More on that later!

I spent the last couple of days on the beautiful island of Ischia (off of Napoli) with two of the interns, Eli and Vince, and Vince's wonderful, big, loud, loving Italian family! I can't wait to share more later! For now, here are some previews!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Croissants and Hot Chocolate

I could live off of croissants forever in their buttery, flaky deliciousness. Especially pain au chocolat!  I may or may not have eaten upwards of 3 of these one day...

Today I had one that was brushed with some sort of sugary coating on the outside. It was SO GOOD and even better than a plain croissant. The slight sugary coating sealed the deal.

Isn't this hot chocolate interesting? I've never quite had it served like this: hot milk with some chocolate bits in the bottom that were starting to melt. To make it drinkable you just stir it up. It was really good and creamy! Better than powder any day, but still not as chocolaty as straight melted chocolate, no milk, like some of the chocolate shops here do.

I didn't have the croissants with the hot chocolate, but that would have been vraiment delicious. (I have French words stuck in my head this week from working to understand all the French being spoken around me.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Scenes from Brussels

Yes, I had to get the obligatory Belgian waffle (gaufre). Since it was only about 3 euro though, unfortunately it wasn't that great. Looking into the chocolate shop windows and smelling the deliciousness inside- that was great!


One thing the city is famous for is the Manneken-Pis- a statue of a little boy peeing. Supposedly he gets outfits from all around the world to wear! When I saw him he seemed to be in some sort of cleaner's outfit. Pretty sweet city mascot if you ask me!


One fascinating thing about Brussels/Bruxelles/Brussel is that it's a bilingual city. Belgium is split between the Dutch (Flemish) speaking north and the French speaking south. Though Brussels is in the Dutch part, the city's main language is French. Every sign has both French and Dutch, like this sign ("Sword Street"). I can understand way more French, but it did help me to translate words into Dutch. After 2 months in Amsterdam, the Dutch almost looked more familiar than the French!


Allors, no pictures, but I did score a box of delicious looking Belgian chocolates, each of which I picked out myself! Picking out weird truffles to try is one of my favorite things. Mmmmm...