vacation leftovers | liberation break

In italy, all schools are let out for a week in the month of April for something called, “liberation break,”¬†which is basically a national holiday celebrating their independence as a country! (Yes, they get a whole week to do that.)

My roommate’s boyfriend, along with his brother and best friend, came during that time to backpack Europe, so we spent the break together touring Rome and Cinque Terre, Italy. Here’s a little video I made of the trip. ūüôā The quality is very low budget, and I had no understanding of how to manually focus or use the zoom, but its still fun to look at. If anything, the music is pretty catchy!

GODERE! (:

Spring Cleaning.

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The month of March was a fun one. Traveled with new friends, caught up with old ones. Visited five different countries. Played in the rain, played in the sun. Got my phone stolen (twice). Watched an English musical, watched Spanish flamenco dancers. Rode a gondola in Venice, rode an ATV in Greece. You know, the usual. (:

Now, it’s starting to look a lot like spring around here. Flowers have started to bloom and patches of dirt have been newly replaced with fresh green grass. My favorite part? Looks like flip flops are out for good.

But a change of season means more to me than just pretty nature. Like fresh laundry and new sheets or a clean page in the journal, spring is the opportune time to turn a new leaf in my own personal life. A total spring cleaning.

New priorities, new goals.¬†This month of April, I want to actively start adding healthy habits and good decisions into my daily life. And it will look a bit like this…

  • Get back to the heart of worship. Recently I heard that what we know about God is, and will be, the most important things about ourselves. That is a very strong claim, but I am an absolute firm believer in it. With all the travels and craziness that consumed my life in the past four months, my pursuit to know my maker fell into the backseat more times than I’d like to admit. But, Jesus has reminded me of his infinite grace and love; and in response, I am shaking the dust off my hands (again) and fixing my eyes back on Him. ¬†What will that practically look like?¬†Fill my brain with more truth, less garbage. I would be kidding myself if what I read, what I watched, or what I talked about didn’t influence my thought process and eventually, actions. I know alllladat is very closely interlinked. So, I want to start spending more of my free time reading encouragement and truth, reading the word, listening to sermons, and enjoying/pursuing interests the Lord has placed on my heart.
  • Take care of my body.¬†I never had a healthy eating habit. Most of my meals were consumed in the car ordered from the drive-thru, or past midnight, or purchased from the bakery of the grocery store. Now that my body is decaying and my metabolism is slowing at an uncomfortable rapid rate, I need to start taking care of myself better. What will this look like? Eat less carbs, more veggies. Stop snacking or eating out of boredom. Eat more meals at the table, not on the couch. Pour less sugar in the coffee.¬†
  • Work out every day.¬†I picked up pilates this past month. Nothing extreme, just some youtube videos I found online, but I’ve actually noticed difference in toning and posture ‚ÄĒ and body image as well! I dread Insanity and I dread running even more, so it’s nice that I’ve found a work out I enjoy! (:
  • Read two books.¬†I don’t work too well without a deadline, so I’m going to add some pressure and try to read two-three books each month. This month I plan on finishing two books before the calendar turns.
  • Journal. I come home in exactly 26 days. Before I know it, life in Europe will only be a memory, and the only thing real I’ll have left are these blog posts, photos, and faded memories I manage to retain. And to help that retention, I want to journal each day ‚ÄĒ feelings, funny moments, interesting foods, lessons learned ‚ÄĒ to really make the days count.

Polka Dots in the Water

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When we arrived to Barcelona, we were greeted with brisk wind and abundant sunshine. After all the rain and fog Italy had been receiving, it was a nice change of pace. We embraced Barcelona’s sun with open arms and decided to¬†capitalize¬†on its perfect weather by staying outdoors. We walked along the main streets, took a short boat ride gaining an incredible view of Barcelona gems, and then relaxed with cold cider on the beach.

To dress for the¬†occasion, I wore bright, bold colors and paired them with equally bold prints ‚ÄĒ a polka dot collard tank and a cheetah print belt. Take a look:

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XO.

Friday Five

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Magical dusk at Barceloneta Beach.

This week was filled with several special moments, including celebrating a friend’s birthday, visiting Vicenzia, finding a new favorite cafe, and appreciating time for rest. I leave for Rome Saturday and friends of friends have graciously welcomed us to stay at their home for the night and even offered a ride to the airport. On Sunday, we leave for Greece where we’ll spend the rest of the Easter Break. Hopefully I’ll return with some color on my skin! It actually feels a bit strange that I won’t be celebrating this Easter at home. My church hosts a “passion week” revival and an¬†extravagant¬†Easter dinner each year, and although I can’t join them, I will keep this holiday in mind and be joyful nonetheless. Jesus has risen, people! Hallelujah! (:

Here are my five favorites of the week. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

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Sail boats were everywhere in Spain and it ignited a new¬†desperate¬†desire in me to find a sail buddy. Where’s a Nolan when you need one? (“Revenge”, anyone?)

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Coffee gelato + girl talk @ Amorino.

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We celebrated a friend’s 21st birthday with 21 gelato pops! (Scoops of gelato dipped in chocolate, then frozen) I tried the custard and mint — both were delicious. Now I’m looking for a reason to make my way over there and try more flavors.

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A new store has opened in Verona; it’s comparable to a Nordstrom or Whole Foods. The first floor is a sophisticated eatery complete with an oyster bar, sandwich counter, fresh produce, and more. The design is phenomenal and I found myself equally enchanted by both the food AND branding. I plan on copying this hanging clipboard design to showcase print in my future apartment.¬†

Happy Friday!
XO.

Less isn’t So Bad Afterall

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The crust is my favorite part of the pizza. I’m a firm believer in the idea that “the best should be saved for last,” which is why the inventors of pizza placed the dangerously delicious doughness we now call “crust” around the END of the pizza. (Because it’s the best.)

This belief might be due to the fact that I’m from Chicago, home of the incredible¬†deep dish pizza.¬†(Miss you, Lou’s. I’ll be back one day.) The deep dish pizza — one slice’s width, length, depth all bigger than the palm of my hand, requiring silverware in order to enjoy it. My need for a fork and knife is probably a good thing so I don’t step over the barbaric line in public and just inhale the whole thing. The past three years while I was on campus in Champaign, deep dish (done well) was always difficult to find, so I would religiously make a trip to Lou Malnatis, my favorite pizza joint, every time I visited home. One deep dish pizza, Lou’s salad, and a side of pepperoncinis always did just the trick.

So once my bags were packed and we said our good-byes, (Me and Lou Malnatis, that is), and made the difficult decision to go live in Italy for a semester, you can imagine my disbelief when I found out that Italians enjoyed their pizza THIN-CRUST!!!!

“Wait a minute. You mean to tell me, there’s¬†LESS¬†crust? LESS?! I just don’t understand… What’s the point?”¬†

Simply put, I was pretty upset.

Anyway, trying to be the open-minded and not-typical- ethnocentric-American individual I am, I gave it a try.

Confession: I actually liked it. 

My roommate from sophomore year and oldest friend came to visit Italy for her spring break. For her first night, a few of us from the same hometown decided to all go out to dinner and celebrate. We chose San Matteo as the venue because it was highly recommended across the board to be THE best pizza in town. Plus, apparently news had broken out that one of the employees was a former model, so not only was it famous for its pizza, but also for the adolescent girls flocking for some eye candy. Both reasons were enough for us to make a visit. Dinner and entertainment? Done.

The menu was long and extensive with pages after pages of different pizzas. The four of us are very indecisive individually, so collectively, it took that much longer to order a dish. We each perused the menu carefully reading each description under pizza name, and finally settled on three that we decided to share family-style.

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{ Italian thin crust is something entirely different from Chicago style. The crust is thin and chewy, crispy around the edges. The sauce is light and fresh as opposed to the usual thick and creamy tomato sauce. This one was topped with shredded cheese, pepperoni, and mushrooms. Despite the thinness, it was actually very filling! }
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{ Fresh¬†mozzarella¬†and prosciutto shaped in a heart. I didn’t fancy this one too much because the prosciutto made each bite a little too salty, but the other girls really liked this one. Despite the thinness of the pizza, it was surprisingly very filling and satisfying. Between the four of us, we were struggling to finish the last slices! }
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{ Cooked spinach and fresh mozzarella  This one was one of my favorites. Between the thinness and freshness of the ingredients, it really brought out the complex flavors of cheese, tomato, and buttery goodness. }
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My lovely dinner dates. 

I keep finding myself craving for thin-crust pizza now. My palate has expanded — not that I’m abandoning my first love by any means — there’s enough [ food ] love to go around for this chick.

Currently…

Spring Break was this past week and I celebrated with some girlfriends in Spain! We started in Barcelona, stopped by Valencia to catch the end of the¬†Las Fallas¬†festival, and then made our way to our final destination, Madrid. It was nice to escape the rain in Italy and be surounded by the sun and palm trees of Spain. It wasn’t quite hot enough to jump into our bikinis, but there were some days we dozed off on the beach. I guess I really shouldn’t complain about weather though to friends back in the midwest. I heard there was a terrible snow storm last night?! Glad you were at least rewarded with a snow day though, right? (:

I have one week of “normalcy” AKA staying home in Verona, and then next week is Easter vacation. Starting Sunday, I’ll be in Greece!¬†Pretty much everyone from my program made reservations at¬†the pink palace¬†in Corfu. It’s supposed to be this fun-loving resort that provides living¬†accommodations, breakfasts/dinners, group activities like booze cruises, snorkeling, beach volleyball, and more IMPORTANTLY, one complementary pink toga for each guest. (: I know, that alone sold me.

I’ll try to squeeze in posts of my adventures in Paris, London, and Spain before I head off!

* side note: I have exactly five weeks and five days left in europe, and then it’s back to the states! man, how FAAAST did time fly! i also do have exciting plans for this summer. starting june, i’ll be interning at the chicago office of HAVAS WORLDWIDE through the 4A’s MAIP program. not only will I be in the office +40 hours a week, I will also fly to NYC twice this summer to attend ceremonial dinners, participate in weekly seminars, and be a new member of the MAIP network. i’ll be trading easy italian gelato for starbucks coffee, walks on cobblestone streets for rides on the metra, and 4-hr lectures for 8-hr work days. as much as i want time to just slow down right now so i can milk each and every experience while here, i’m also ecstatic and ready to be in a regular workflow. ready to be consumed with conversations on consumer behavior and insights, brainstorm sessions with our feet up and take-out in hand, late nights before big pitches, preparing research decks and documents… i’m ready to be in my element. but again, italy, don’t take it the wrong way and slip out of my hands quite yet. (;

i think this is what growing up starts to look like.