December 26, 2010

Back With A Vengeance!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, I am back!

And I have missed you!

After two weeks of hermit life studying for finals, and then a whirlwind week of holiday preparations I am finally back with some regularity. Aren't you thrilled?

I had this whole post planned out about how I was leaving for California today, and how I was going to be blogging all week about the wonderful west coast and the sun, and then how I was going to Minneapolis and blog about Molly and all the snow and the Mall of America, it was going to be wonderful, BUT...

But then the North East got slammed with this ridiculous snow storm, my flight got canceled, and due to all the backed up and delayed flights we won't be able to leave before Wednesday. Boo.

My Life

 Which means that not only is our vacation going to be half as long, but I won't have exciting Californian adventures to blog about for the next couple of days. Double boo.

Not my life... until Wednesday at least.

You'll have to make do with my snowy Cambridge adventures and the few crafty posts I've had up my sleeve since before I went hibernating for finals. And some laments about how I'm not in California yet. Triple boo.

But, travel inconveniences aside, it's truly wonderful to be back!

I wish you a wonderful Boxing Day!

{images via weheartit}

December 24, 2010

Joyeux Noël!

 I wish you all Wonderful and Joyful and Merry Christmas!

After weeks of hibernating and studying and hiding under my books, it is glorious to finally come out, see the sunshine, see the sun hiding behind the clouds, see the snow falling, and see my family, and finally have a little time to relax and not use my brain for anything! And I can't wait to get back to properly get back to blogging!

I've missed you guys!

I hope these holidays bring you the gift of happiness and love!

{all images via weheartit}

December 20, 2010

How To Find Your Inner Philanthropist

I posted this last year in December, and as much as I'd like to write a whole new post with essentially the same message, I'm still finishing up finals, so I don't really have time. But I wanted to get the message out there since it's already December 20th! So whether you're reading this for the first or second time, remember to think of others this holiday season!


The holidays (between the thankfulness of Thanksgiving and gift-giving of Christmas) are a time for us to realize not only how lucky we are (and if you're reading this, just by having access to a computer you're luckier than probably about 90% of the world's population), but how many other people need a hand just to make it from day to day. Especially now, when those in need are no longer just abstract starving children in the third world (which sounds insensitive, but that's actaully the way many of us perceive problems in the third world - as abstract), but an increasing number of people in our very own "developed" nations, with whom we have contact every day, who find themselves in dire straights, it's a time to think about what we can be doing for others to try to improve their situation in the little ways we can, and to make the world a better home for everybody.

I got this wonderful list of outlets for your inner philanthropist from JennyMac over at Let's Have a Cocktail (so I can't take credit for compiling the list of sites), and I thought it would be a good idea to try to pass around these resources to as many people as possible so we can all try to do a little bit for someone else. Feel free to copy the list and post it yourselves; the more this information gets around, the more people will do it. And for even the most cash-strapped among us, there's an option to make a loan (see number 25) that you'll get back So there's no excuse to not make a effort for the greater good :). (And for those without even the liquidity to make a loan, you can donate your used books, clothes, time, or even your blood!)

Here's a list of different ways you can make your contribution. As a Scottish proverb says, "charity begins at home, but shouldn't end there." So get outside your homes and give some charity.

How to Find You Inner Philanthropist:

1. Get involved. A super easy website: can help you find service projects in your zip code. They also encourage you to engage your teenage family members to get involved in philanthropy. Their aim is to inspire the next generation of “doers”. You can also find local events/charities/nonprofits to support at

2. Mentor/coach/tutor a future John Grisham, Louisa May Alcott or Stephanie Meyer at which is 7 nonprofits working to celebrate and advance creative writing in students age 16-18.

3. Go to your book case and clean it out. Instead of donating to the library, take those books to a local literacy program.

4. You can also join for free and send them to troops.

5. Give blood. To find a local blood bank:

6. Send a holiday card for FREE to a soldier abroad through a Xerox sponsored program

7. Save all of your magazines from the month and donate them to a local women’s shelter.

8. Call a local retirement community and schedule a visit. You can spend an hour or two calling bingo. We have done it and it is a total hoot. One of the elderly ladies won and yelled “OH SWEET JESUS”. I crack up now thinking about it. (You can also take your sassy OPI or MAC nail polish instead and do some fun manicures. )

9. You can donate baby blankets, stuffed animals, and children’s books to which helps homeless children.

10. Donate your old cell phones to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Go to and look under Take Action and then Donate.

11. Donate shoes (you know you have more than you can ever wear!) to

12. Mentor an at-risk teen online at

13. Become an online reading mentor and penpal for kids in 3rd – 5th grade at

14. Volunteer at a National Park.

15. Donate your unused airline rewards miles to Salvation Army, Make A Wish, or others.

16. Play and every correct vocab word you identify, 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program

17. You can also go to and for every answers, you send 10 pieces of dog food to an animal shelter in need

18. Donate gift cards you won’t use to

19. If you knit, you can send squares to The squares will be knit into afghans and donated to battered women’s shelters.

20. Sign up to volunteer at and become a one on one volunteer to teach kids with disabilities about noncompetitive sports.

Small Donations and Related Goodness

21. Every dollar donated to promotes children’s literacy.

22. Donate a minimum of $10.00 to which provides jammies and books for kids in orphanages, group homes, and shelters.

23. Buy some gourmet bean dips, salsa mixes, or spice rubs (among other things) from which provides jobs and job training to homeless women. And they just celebrated their 20th anniversary.

24. Lend $25.00 to which takes your loan and helps woman all over the world start businesses. You can choose your cause and the money will be paid back.

25. Give $25 to Puppies Behind Bars: a program teaching inmates how to train puppies to be service animals.

26. Buy beautiful handmade jewelry from which is combating human slavery and trafficking by providing training, job skills, and life skills to women freed from sex slavery.

27. A $35 donation to Sleeping Children Around the World provides a BedKit that consists of a mat or mattress, pillow, sheet, blanket, mosquito net (if applicable), clothes outfit, towel and school supplies for a needy child.

28. Give a $35 Gift of Hope to women and children rescued from Sex Slavery and Sex Trafficking at

29. $35 dollar will also feed a needy child for one month with Share Our Strength at

30. Make an online donation to which provides aid in almost 60 countries to people suffering from abuse, neglect, famine, malnutrition, lack of health care and natural disasters. $35 will provide 35 vaccines.

31. And finally, because there are so many people on this Earth without clean and safe drinking water, you can donate $20 to and give one person drinking water for 20 years.

December 16, 2010


I'm back under my pile of books (studying for finals) and I'll be here until Monday.

I can't wait to come out, I miss you guys!

Have a great weekend!


December 10, 2010

Using Words to Fill Blanks

Happy Friday Everyone!

I have a feeling that today is going to be a great day! Don't you just love that feeling?

Yesterday I closed a door, and today I'm opening the window onto the last ten days of my first semester of grad school! It's going to be a very intense finals period, but I think I'm ready for it, and I can't wait for it to be over!

I'm going to power through my work as efficiently and quickly as possible because after that I have plans that include Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Washington D.C. - all before January 15! (And if we extend that to March, I get to include Guatemala!)

And I can't wait! I've been stationary for that last four months, and I'm starting to feel a bit claustrophobic. I've got the travel itch.

But, I still have to get through these ten days of finals (two papers, two exams, and a presentation) before I can't start daydreaming about my travels.

In the meantime I can take a little break from my productive (not) morning to fill in some blanks. As usual, don't forget to link up with Lauren!

1.   I wish      it were already next Monday! I'd be at home, with my first semester behind me (hopefully looking forward to a few A's), probably cooking something delicious with my mom  .

2.  Yesterday I   went to the Christmas party at school and stole three of the decorative bows off the walls to decorate my friends' and my hair .

{I'm the short one on the right, and the other two are definitely crouching down
so that I we can all be in the picture. I have such good friends.}
3.  Today I will    start a paper, do some econ, take a practice exam, go home, make myself pretty, and then go on a date downtown with a nice boy to a lovely French restaurant.

4.  Tomorrow I will    write some more of my paper, and then spend the day with the Mommy Keyfree and the little Keyfrees making lemon curd and hazelnut praline .

5.  Maybe    I'll actually be able to get more than 6 hours of sleep per night this weekend!

6.  Someday      I'll be able to wake up in the morning without hitting snooze eight times  .

7.  I love     being in a good mood and feeling like I can do anything   .

Have a glorious weekend!

December 9, 2010

Letting Go

 Let Go.
What, or whom, did you let go of this year? Why?*

This is something I've sort of avoided writing about, because as much as this is a personal blog that rises and falls with my successes and disappointments, it's not a personal personal blog.

I don't often talk about my private feelings, and I don't discuss the daily minutiae of my life and the lives of those around me. Partly because I'm not always comfortable discussing it, and partly because I've purposely kept this blog isolated from certain aspects of my life - it's a place I like to come to without being reminded of all the noise.

But I feel like I left something hanging. And although I don't feel like I owe any of you an explanation, I feel like if The World Is My Oyster is going to properly chronicle a certain part of my life, all open parentheses must be properly closed. I don't like loose ends.

When I started blogging, in September 2009, I was living at my grandmother's house in Rome, and dating Valerio. I've mentioned him occasionally - mostly when traveling with him or when he came to visit me in Spain - but I've never really elaborated on our relationship.

We stayed together when I left Italy, while I came home last winter, and even when I went to Spain. Then I got into grad school which essentially cemented the topic we'd been avoiding: that I was going back to the states, definitely for two years, probably longer.

There was talk of him quitting his job and coming to live with me to learn English. But then it worked out that I could live with the Keyfrees, and so living together was no longer an option, and he got promoted, so quitting his job wasn't an option either. Then there was talk of staying together anyway and doing the long distance thing. We were both wary of it, but we thought that Spain would be the perfect trial period - we'd be apart, but only a couple of hours and a couple of hundred euro away from each other, nothing unmanageable.

But then we actually tried. And as everyone who's done the long distance thing knows, it is not easy.

Not one bit.

There were good times, there were bad times, there were sad times, and there were ugly times.

To make a long story short, after six months of long distance that were harder than they were easier, we came to the difficult conclusion that when I left for New York it would be impossible to stay together.

{via weheartit}

Would we have stayed together if I had never left Italy? Maybe. Probably.

Would we have stayed together if I had gone back after living in Madrid? I don't know. Too many things had already changed in the course of dealing with the distance.

But was I ready to let it end, even though we still cared a lot about each other? Not really.

I just had to open up and let him go. And he had to do the same for me.

I realize now that it might have been easier on both of us if one of us had been stronger and walked away. It would have been harder at the beginning, but it would have been a cleaner cut. Ultimately, after I'd already been back in the states for a couple of months, that's what ended up happening. Being in touch, but not together, was just too hard.

My mother once told me that sometimes two people's trajectories intersect, and they might even overlap for a while, making it seem like they're heading in the same direction. But if they're not exactly parallel, eventually they'll separate, each trajectory going off in its own direction.

There were times when I was living my life in Rome with Valerio, in my grandmother's apartment, with my cuddly little cat, when it seemed like it could go on forever.

It was such a time of here and now that it was hard to see what would happen when it wasn't anymore.

I was blinded by my rose-colored glasses.

I think that in the end - because I was the one leaving, I was the one moving to a new city, I was the one taking off for a new life - it was easier for me. I hadn't placed as many building blocks on the foundation of our relationship, maybe because a little part of me had always known that if I left it would all crumble.

If I'd known then what I know now, maybe I would have done things differently. But as things are, I don't regret a thing.

I don't regret what we had, I don't regret what we lost, and I don't regret that I had to let go of it.

But that doesn't mean it hasn't been hard. 

And although I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, I know that I made the right decision. 

via weheartit}

What, or whom, have you let go of?

*I don't actually plan on participating in Reverb: 10 - at least not regularly.
But this one piqued my interest, so I took inspiration from the prompt for December 5.

December 8, 2010

Wee Bit Wednesday Night

When finals are over in a couple of weeks I hope to be back here more often. Unfortunately, it always happens that I'll think about blogging on Monday morning, and by the time I get around to it it's Wednesday afternoon.

C'est la vie!

Right now I should really be reading for my International Human Rights Law final, but I have an hour before I have to go to a group meeting and I think I'll take it easy. Plus I missed last week's Wee Bits, so I really want to make sure I do them this week.

Don't forget to link up with Leigh!

{one} if you were granted three wishes, what would they be?
The first one is cliche, but it's only cliche because it so badly needs to happen: 
World Peace and Prosperity
Happiness and personal satisfaction in all my endeavors.
To never lose my waistline.

{two} who is your favorite author?
This is a very very difficult question. But if I had to chose, I'd say Paul Auster.
Oracle Night took me to a different place for an afternoon,
and The Book of Illusions is spectacularly written. 
I highly, highly recommend both books..

{three} what crowd were you involved in during high school?
My crowd didn't really have a name. We all did sports but weren't jocks, 
we were popular, but not mean girls,
we sometimes defied our parents, but we weren't bad kids,
and we all got good grade, but weren't nerds.
We were unclassifiable.

{four} what is your favorite thing to do when you have time to yourself?
Curl up with a good book and a cup of Earl Grey,
Or hit the town with my friends in a great pair of shoes.

{five} do you have any hidden talents?
I can sew, which I guess isn't such a hidden talent here, since I blog about it all the time, 
but few people I know in real life know about it. 
I also played jazz piano for ten years when I was younger.

{six} can you fake any accents?
French and Italian, since I grew up with those accents at home.
I can do a half-passable (though not to a native) British accent.
But when I try to do an Irish one it comes out Jamaican, and vice versa.

{seven} have you ever been mentioned in the newspaper?
When I was in high school our Mock Trial team was featured in the local paper.
And this week the email sent to Columbia SIPA students about wikileaks and the State Department has gone viral,which isn't about me in particular, but I do have an original copy of that email in my inbox.

{eight} have you ever been arrested?
No. Knock on wood.

{nine} what is your favorite job you’ve had?
UNICEF was amazing - really educational and my coworkers were so nice and supportive.
And I loved working with kids in Spain, although it was tons of work.

{ten} do you have any scars?
The typical smorgasbord of childhood scars. 
One under my chin, from hitting a bookshelf after falling backwards off of a rocking chair,
One on my shin from falling off a bicycle,
One on my ankle from getting my food caught in a bicycle wheel.
One on my wrist from falling down.
I was a pretty accident prone kid apparently!


Ok. Back to the books. Have a great week everyone!

December 5, 2010

Sunday Sweets: Wish List

Dear Santa, 

I think I've been pretty good this year. I even got my first A this week! Aren't you proud?

I don't even bother my little brother anymore. I give him lots of hugs every time I see him. And I've been extra nice to my mommy and daddy. And this one time, I even held the door open for a little old lady, even though it took her forever to get there.

So what do you think? Can I have a couple of presents this year? (Or ten?)

How about I make a list of thinks I really love, and you can decide what I deserve, deal?


This sweet, soft bag, perfect for winter

This delicate circle necklace

Adorable recipe books
This luxurious cream ruffle coat
These flighty swallow earrings

There Louboutin Ankle Booties (I wish!)

Ok. I think I'm done thinking about myself. And I know I won't get most of these things, but it's nice to dream.

Oh, and if you could work on World Peace and eradicating child hunger that would be great too. Thanks!



December 3, 2010

Fill in The Holiday Spirit

Time for another round of Fill-In the Blank Friday! Don't forget to link up with Lauren

1.   Holiday spirit     is not sincere enough. Remembering others and being selfless is all too often forgotten in the confusion of gift-buying and vacations to warm places .

2.  The holidays are incomplete without   family and delicious food. And lots of pretty candles.

3.  My favorite things to do around the holidays is      wrap presents. I love it.  I love making beautiful bows, and folding crisp corners of wrapping paper around boxes, and writing little gift tags. It's almost zen-like .

4.  A holiday tradition my family and I have is     opening a present at midnight on Christmas eve, and putting little baby Jesus in the nativity manger.

5.  Holiday music is     cheerful in limited quantities. Otherwise it makes me stabby .

6.  This year, I'll be spending the holidays      at home, until right after Christmas, then LA until right before new year's eve, and then I'll be in Minneapolis for new year's with my bestie Molly .

7.  Holiday wish list       cute ankle books and a spring break trip to Guatemala   .

December 2, 2010

Seasons Change, Mad Things Rearrange...

(On a side note, I miss the Fugees. Don't you? What excellent music. It really defined a whole era of my adolescence, one Italian road trip in particular that involved cliff beaches and a car accident! But that's another story for another time)

But back to the seasons thing.

Who knew that as soon as I got back from thanksgiving Christmas would promptly smack me in the face with all its pine-scented, holiday-light-bespangled, salvation-army-bell-ringing glory!

Not that I'm complaining. I haven't heard a single holiday song or braved a single crowd of crazed holiday shoppers yet so my sanity is still intact. (well, except for Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey, which I may or may not have already played six or seven times.... before thanksgiving)

(which I will include here for your viewing pleasure)

You're welcome!

 Anyway. Maybe my claim about having been smacked by Christmas was a bit hyperbolic, since I've really not had to deal with any of the irritating holiday stuff. Maybe I've just been caressed by the pine-scented, holiday-light-bespangled Decemberness of New York.

I have to say that walking home down a Christmas tree-lined street is not at all unpleasant. And trees wrapped in Christmas lights are really pretty. And even those cheerful bell-clanging Salvation Army guys make me smile.

And things are rearranging. Most notably the weather.

Yesterday is was 65 degrees and pouring rain. It looked like an insane September hurricane hit NY.

Today its like 45 degrees and crisp and sunny. A perfect New York winter morning.

I've been dreading the snow (mostly the subsequent slush), but I have to say, I won't be that miffed if the forecast for flurries next Tuesday turns out to be accurate. All in all, I'm delightfully surprised by how much I'm looking forward to the next month (two weeks of finals notwithstanding).

I'm in the mood for a winter wonderland!

What are you looking forward to this Holiday Season?
What are you dreading?