Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to the Old

On the off chance that you have found this blog without being directed here by my other blog, you should perhaps be aware that this blog is now officially done. I have returned to my other blog, Sail Away, which originally chronicled my my first year in Italy and served as my Gilman Scholarship Follow-On Project. I originally wanted to keep my follow-on project separate from my later time in Italy, but Sail Away, and the time it documented is so much apart of who I became after I left Italy, that it felt wrong to leave it abandoned.

I'm in the process of pulling blog posts from this blog over to my old one, and hopefully will (eventually) consolidate all of the posts onto my old (current) blog. If you're interested in keeping up with my current shenanigans, you can take the link below.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

suspension of disbelief.

 I am a Disney fanatic. There, I said it. I love Disney in an unhealthily intense way, particularly Walt Disney World. I haven't been back to Disney in about three years, but I follow blogs, trip reports, and pinterest boards. Every three months or so I try to convince one of my parents, my friends, or my cousins, to go to Disney World with me. With my family I always get the same response: Don't you want to go somewhere else? Yes. I want to go somewhere else. I want to go to all the somewhere elses there are in the world. And I also want to go to Disney. If I had my way I would spend two months of the year in Texas, 4 months in Florence, 2 weeks in Disney World, and the rest traveling all over the world.

And yes, I understand that Disney is a huge corporation which uses ethically questionable practices to support its bottom line. I realize that touring the World Showcase is nothing like touring the actual world. I know that the princesses are really just girls in wigs and shiny dresses.

But listen, I am also a lover of books. And books ask of us the same thing that Disney does: to forget, for a time, the realities of science, the world, and our own lives for the sake of stories and imagination. In literary terms this is called suspension of disbelief.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

pumpkin carving.

My eternally awesome roommate is a Halloween lover. In fact, she's a general holiday lover, which goes swimmingly with my attitude towards life. Our door would win any decorating contest in the building. In fact, our whole (tiny) apartment is completely covered in Halloween decorations (soon to be replaced with Thanksgiving decorations).

I digress. My roommate carves pumpkins every year. I assume this was a family tradition, as it is with many families. My family carving traditions stopped when my brother and I hit the double digits and we've had plain pumpkins ever since. Which is fine. There's nothing wrong with a good plain pumpkin. Plain pumpkins make the world go round. But it means I haven't carved a pumpkin in a good ten years.

Last Sunday we took it upon ourselves to turn our living room into a Pumpkin Carving Workshop. We laid out trash bags and butchered our poor pumpkins into something resembling faces, using normal knives (college students have no money), mixing bowls, and lots of paper towels.

This was the result. Roommate's pumpkin is the cool one. Can you see she's had lots of practice? I went for a more traditional carving. With a gap tooth. Gotta have a good gap tooth.

I apologize for the quality of the pictures this week. As it turns out it's not so easy to use a camera with pumpkin guts all over your hands. And the last picture was taken with my camera phone. I have no excuses except laziness.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sleepy Hollow Hotels: Tarrytown House

The name of this post is a bit of a misnomer. As far as I can tell, Sleepy Hollow itself has no hotels. Seems like a bit of an oversight, but whatever. The neighboring town, Tarrytown, has plenty to choose from. Last weekend we got the chance to stay at Tarrytown House Estate, a beautiful hotel on the grounds of what was once two separate estates belonging to the Biddle and King families.

All of the families' old buildings appear to have been kept more or less intact, providing a wide variety of rooms for guests to choose from. That said, affordability is a factor, the normal guest rooms range from about $250-500 per night (give or take) and the guest rooms in the original buildings cost considerably more than those in the recent additions. Not being Rockefellers, we chose one of the newer buildings, which was a pretty standard hotel room. However, if you're willing to spend the money you can stay in King's House (white mansion), the cottage, or one of the other pricier options.

What sets Tarrytown House apart from a normal hotel is the details. Of course, the property is beautiful, but it's pieces like the exquisite statues and interesting old telephones that make it special. All meals are served in the Biddle Mansion (top photo), which provides huge windows and spectacular vistas. There are a variety of activities outdoors and a heated indoor pool to enjoy on colder days.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

scenes from the weekend: trees

I've always had an odd fascination with trees. I used to draw them all the time and when I was nine I realized that if I kept splitting each branch in my drawings over and over, they would start to look a bit like the live oaks which had so long been the sturdy playhouse for my imagination. Even now when my hands reach for the pencil they start to draw whirling and splitting branches in the same patterns they've been making for over a decade.

This weekend my family came to visit me and we got out of the city, traveling via train up the Hudson to where the leaves have started to change. We picked apples, wandered cemeteries, ate the last ice cream before winter, and all the time my camera was constantly at hand, ready to snap pictures of new trees.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Florence Eating: Le Bertucce

During my last semester in Italy I lived in an apartment on a tiny street called Via Sant'Elisabetta. The Medieval and Renaissance streets of  Florence's historic center are all tiny--meant to accommodate carts and horses instead of cars--but Via Sant'Elisabetta is especially so. As a tiny off street near Piazza del Duomo, it escapes a great deal of tourist foot traffic.

Our little apartment's kitchen window opened out onto the street, right across from a little pizzeria called Le Bertucce. In the evenings we would call down to our favorite server, Ricardo, the other girls testing their first Italian sentences, while I translated the conversation for them. We threw paper airplanes, attempted to share our s'mores, and ate a hell of a lot of pizza.

Le Bertucce itself is a small little restaurant serving pizza by the pie or the slice, calzoni, and panini to order. A favorite of locals, it is home to some of the best pizza in the city center. The lines are long during lunch hours (but worth it) and almost non-existent the rest of the day. All the pizzas are made in a stone pizza oven, and slices are often reheated in the same place. (If they try to put it in the toaster oven, ask for the pizza oven instead, it's much better.) If you're stuck making your choice, try the Pizza ai Quattro Formaggi, which is by far their best option.

Pizza is 2 euro a slice or 6 euro for a personal pizza. Calzones are 2.50 and panini depend on the ingredients.

Le Bertucce
+39 055 285595
Via Sant'Elisabetta/ Via delle Oche

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

twenty two.

I recently had my 22nd birthday. It's my last birthday as a student and yes, in case you were wondering, I am freaking out. And no, Aunt/Uncle/Parent's Friend/Random Person, I don't really know what I'm going to do when I get out of college.

Despite paralyzing fears about my future and stress about getting through this semester, I've been trying to take some time to be grateful for all the experiences I've had in the last 22 years. Because I have to say they've been a pretty excellent set of years. I'm lucky to have thoughtful people in my life who remember my birthday, and here are a few of the lovely things I've been enjoying.

The print was sent to me by my best friend. I had posted it on Facebook about a year ago and she bookmarked it to get me for my birthday. Isn't in lovely? The artist is Stella Im Hultberg, who is incredible. (You can find her here.)