January 29, 2010

Weekly(ish) Photo Essay: First Impressions of Madrid

In other news (I was going to include this in the previous post, but then it became a weekly(ish) photo essay and I gave it its own post), my beginning in Madrid is going just swimmingly. Today I applied for jobs and looked at apartments.  I feel so productive. But of course, that's what to be expected of a newly minted 25-year-old :) 

But it's not all work and no play. In the last few days I've discovered wonderful tapas bars, a beautiful park, neighborhoods full of lovely 1920s Art Deco style architecture, and a little hole in the wall with delicious six euro pitchers of Sangria, and wise, philosophical quotes painted on the walls. 

The view from the plane on Tuesday. 
It  had just snowed, and everything around Madrid looked like a patchwork quilt.


Once in the city, it's whole different story.


This bear is the dead center of Madrid:

Paolo and Lorenzo staring off into the distance:

Lorenzo and myself on the night of the big two-five (in the delicious Sangria bar):

Some food for thought:

{There is no cure for birth and death except to take advantage of the time inbetween}

{While the foolish decide, the intelligent debate}

 {Knowledge and reason speak, ignorance and error yell}
Arthur Graf

And these are just  a fraction of my photos from the first two days. So brace yourselves for the upcoming avalanche of photos I'll be posting of the city I now call home.a

Finders Keepers: Fill-In The Blank Friday

Together with Sam's Follow Along Friday, Micaela's Fill In Your Answers,  and everyone else who's doing it, I think we're making Lauren's  Fill-In The Blank Fridays quite a little Friday thing! So here I am, jumping on the bandwagon again with my own spin off.
1.  If I weren't an about-to-be grad student/English Teacher  I'd love to be   the owner of a paper goods and/or gourmet foods shop   .

2.  When I'm super upset I  put on back-to-back episodes of friends, while trying to rationalize my issue in the back of my mind.

3.  My favorite thing about myself is  my the-glass-is-half-full attitude about life... and my long eyelashes .

4.  If I found a $100 in the pocket of last winter's coat I'd spend it on   a delicious meal or a pair of luscious suede boots.

5.  Even though some people might consider this a flaw, I love my slightly aquiline italian nose .

6.  I love the way I feel  when I finally get together with a best friend who I haven't seen in almost a year and we're tripping over each others' words because the stories are just gushing out .

7.  I love my hair most when it's   feeling voluminous but not frizzy, and my bangs aren't being stupid .

January 27, 2010

My Quarter Century: The Big Two Five

It's midnight, here in Madrid (although only between three and six in the afternoon for you North Americans), and I just turned 25.

Surprisingly, I don't feel any differently. Yet I'm officially on the path to old. Burrowed firmly in my mid-twenties, I can no longer claim to be a young early-twenties lass. Nor can I check off the 18-24 box anymore. I'm officially in the 25-34 box. Now that hurts.

You might be asking yourself, what am I doing at my computer at midnight, on the eve of my birthday. Well, I'm in Spain, and here everything is done later (I had lunch at four and dinner at nine thirty). So we're actually pre-gaming (man I haven't used that phrase in a while!) before heading out to Cafe Orange for a night of mayhem.

Thirties, I'm on my way. You've been officially warned.

January 26, 2010

I'm Bored So I Made An Award (Hey, That Rhymes!)

So I thought today would be all about going out and visiting the city. But I forgot that Spain operates on a schedule that lags behind that of the rest of Western Europe's by a few hours. And the whole siesta thing.

After going out to get food (which turned out to be Chinese, not Spanish, but that surprisingly hit the spot), we came back to the apartment, ate, hung out for a bit, and then Paolo and Lorenzo went to take a nap. I guess it makes sense, since they were up until six am and then woke up at nine to come get me at the airport. Plus apparently we're not going out to city-seeing until after four, when we're meeting up with some other Italian people. I wanted to take a nap too, but since I went to bed at one am and woke up at four, I didn't think I'd be able to wake up after, so I thought I'd stick it out until tonight, and then go to bed early.

So here I am, at my little laptop while my cousins are siesta-ing, and I got bored. So I started skimming through google reader (while doodling in Paint). To all you readers out there who have a blog that I follow too, thank you. You save me in moments of dire boredom (at least when I have an internet connection - you're no help in the Heathrow Airport). My gratefulness, and the fact that I was having fun doodling in Paint, inspired me to design and start giving out a blog award to blogs that keep me entertained and boredom-free. I thought it should be a weekly, one-awardee award, initially given by me, but then also passed on, one person at a time.

The award is the Pearl of the Blog World (hey, that kind of rhymes too!), because the blogs I give it to are like beautiful little pearls in a sea of blogs, and if you haven't noticed, I kind of have a theme going on here that I'd like to stick to. (Although don't start thinking of my as one of those girls that wears pearls and Lilly Pulizter. I think pink and green are the worst possible combination of colors. And embroidered pastel ankle pants look ridiculous on just about everyone). (And please excuse the ghetto fabulous quality of my Paint art).

And of course, like every award, there is a question that goes along with it. But just one.

The world is your oyster, and you are looking for your pearl. What is it?

Happiness? The Meaning of Life? Riches? Adventure? Love? What is it you're looking for?

And now, the first ever Weekly Pearl of the Blog World Award goes to (imagine a drum roll, please)


Although there are many blogs I'd like to honor, Lauren gets to be the first winner because when she made an award she gave one to me, so I thought it would be only fair to give her one I made. Plus her blog is a shiny little pearl that brings a smile to my face every time I stop by. It's a pity that there are something like nine thousand kilometers between us, because I'm sure that if we met we would be fast friends!

So Lauren, what's the pearl you're looking for in the oyster that is your life? Grab the award, answer the question, and then pass it on to a blog that you look forward to reading every week.

And now I get to go wake up my stinky cousins and drag them outside to see some city!

Madrid: My New Home

I've arrived, safe and sound, in Madrid - after waking up at 4 am (!!!) for my excruciatingly early 6:25 flight - and I've arrived - quickly, thanks to Madrid's excellent Metro system - at my stinky boy cousin Paolo's "Auberge Espagnol"-type apartment in the center, after having been happily greeted at the airport by him and Lorenzo - my other stinky boy cousin* :o) who is visiting Paolo as well.

I think the first order of business is to get me some delicious Spanish food, and then explore the city a and get acclimated to my new home. I'll be back with more exciting news soon!

* I kid. Neither of them are stinky. But they are boys. Quite lovely, friendly, chivalrous boys, in fact (there's talk of them sleeping on the floor and giving me the bed), who also happen to both be available, in case any lovely ladies are interested in a nice Italian man-friend. Any takers? Hm? Well, let me know.

January 25, 2010

A Tardy Recap of My Cambridge Creativity

I'm sitting in my aunt and uncle's house, waiting for Valerio to come pick me up I can bring the stuff I don't need to the beach house, and pick up from there what I need for Madrid and don't have with me.* Apparently I'm only allowed to bring two 15 kg bags on this stupid Ryan Air flight, so I have to carefully consider what I can and cannot take. Going through my luggage, I found a couple of things I made while I was at home over the holidays, and I thought I'd share them  here. I made some other stuff too, which I left in Cambridge, but these were the two things I sewed which are my favorites, especially because the item of clothing is what made me realize how easy it is to sew if you have a pattern (I'm not sure how I imagined people sewed things without patterns, but I guess I didn't really think about it before I started zipping away on the little Singer), and how easy it is to see something I like and imagine making it for myself.

I really liked the Buttercup bag I made before, but I wanted something a little roomier. So I modified the pattern to make a bigger bag, and I reduced the number of pleats to just one center pleat:

I found this fabric at one of my two new favorite fabric stores in Cambridge, "Sewfistication" (I kid you not), and only after buying it did I realize that it was reversible (the other side was green spirals on a blue background, instead of blue on green), which gave me the idea for the contrasting top pieces and strap:

(sorry for the crappy photo quality)

And I couldn't decide on a complimentary color for a lining, so I finally decided to go with contrasting, and found a lovely chocolate satin for the inside.

But the Pièce de Résistance is my cape, made with a lovely grey and aubergine tweed I accidentally stole from my mom's New Year's party found.

It's actually a piece of clothing I'll probably wear often (unlike the skirt I made - also from "found" fabric - that I need to make a few adjustments to before it fits well - photos when I finally can wear it without looking lumpy), because it's cute, warm, and sort of funky!

And I lined it was a very pretty silver satin, that works beautifully with the grey in the fabric.

This cape was actually surprisingly easy to make, but only after I figured out how to add in the lining myself - which the original pattern doesn't call for (it suggests using interfacing around the collar and front opening). But I thought it needed a lining, both esthetically and because the tweed was itchy. It's essentially a giant cloth circle with a hole and a slit. A pretty easy concept. If anyone is interested in the pattern, let me know and I can send you the link or pdf file! I think it was a freebie from Bruda.

Ok, well I have to get packing - I have a flight to Madrid tomorrow morning at 6:25! Yay! I guess I'm nearing the moment when my "upcoming stint in Madrid" goes from tentative to current!

p.s. I know it's high time I give you a recipe post, but after all the frantic cooking I did over the Holidays at home with my Mom (for which I often and stupidly forgot to take pictures) I'm not going to have a kitchen for my very own for a bit. But I promise that as soon as I get settled in Madrid I'll whip up something (maybe some Tapas? Very geographically appropriate) and post about it!

*That was actually yesterday morning, and I've really been writing this post since Saturday, but I haven't gotten around to posting it until now.

January 22, 2010

Fill-In The Blank Friday

Before I start, I have to mention that this is totally stolen from Lauren, over at The Little Things We Do. But I only stole it because she said I could. I promise :)

1.  Today I am feeling   anxious that I only have 4 days left before I leave for madrid and turn my life upside down!

2.  If I were you I'd   go get a massage - I've been talking about getting one for so long but there are always more pressing (responsible) things for me to spend my money on.

3.  Love is:  a mystery I'm continuously trying to decipher.

4.  I always   make sure I have everything in my purse, esp my sunglasses  before leaving the   house.

5.  I feel prettiest when I'm wearing   beautiful shoes and lovely earrings.

6.  If I had a million dollars I'd    put myself through grad school, buy a house, and feed as many hungry children as possible. maybe i'd buy some google stocks too.

7.  I'm looking forward to    no longer living out of a suitcase...someday.

I've been back in Rome for four days and I've managed to get very little done, besides feel the full force of jet lag in reverse - I now realize it was much better to pass out by 10pm and wake up at 8am bright and early than it is to struggle to sleep at 2am and force myself awake at 11:30am. This morning I have to go to the bank, and go copy a key, before crossing Rome with public transit (a much more trying experience than it sounds), and I have the motivation to do exactly zero of those things. Which is probably why I'm blogging at 12:30 in the afternoon when I should have been out and about an hour ago. I blame jet lag. I'd like to give a nice kick in the shins to whoever thought it up. And then I want to get back in bed and sleep until it doesn't feel like 6 am for my body anymore.

This is what I foresee myself feeling like doing all day:

January 19, 2010

Wrapping My Mind Around Passing Through Three Different Time-Zones in Twelve Hours

Lately I've only been blogging from the road. First bolt bus, then the care ride back from Quebec, and now I'm sitting in London Heathrow, waiting around (with no wireless internet – really, London Heathrow? Even $15 Bolt Bus is better than you. You should be ashamed of yourself. A two-story Harrods and no free internet? For shame!)(in fact, since I can't publish this now, by the time you read this, I'll be tucked in and asleep at my aunt and uncle's place in Rome. I just wrote it when I was/am sitting in Heathrow). I have another hour until the departures board even tells me which gate my flight leaves from. It doesn't help that my body clock is already like, “WTF is going on?!” See, for me (in Boston time) it's barely 1 am. Not early, but it certainly doesn't feel next-morning late. My flight was technically from six to midnight (but midnight in Boston in 5 am here), so I feel like I've just had a late evening and I'm starting to feel ready to go to bed, while London Heathrow is all, “Good Morning Sunshine!” To which I want to reply with a sincere, and locally appropriate, “Bah! Humbug!” By the time I arrive in Rome in four hours – which is one hour ahead London, which in turn is five hours ahead of Boston - it'll be noon, I won't have slept at all,and my body clock will be like, “Seriously. WTF?”

Sorry if I'm a horrible blogger when I travel, but at the moment I can't decide if I'd rather have a nice soft pillow and blanket in a dark room, or a steamy latte to help me face the day, and this indecision is throwing me off my game.

But it hasn't stopped me from noticing that London Heathrow – aside from having no wifi (for shame!) - is nothing more than a giant shopping mall with a few exit gates and airplanes conveniently placed around the perimeter. Granted, I haven't seen a casino yet, or a “resting area” with pillows strewn about, like in the Amsterdam Airport, but still, this airport is quite commercially oriented. As I write this, they're raffling off two Lamborghinis upstairs. I would play, but the raffle tickets are 20£ and I honestly don't know where I'd put my Lamborghini – it probably doesn't get good enough gas mileage for me to drive it to Madrid (plus I already bought my plane ticket) and I certainly can't leave it at the beach house with the rest of my stuff in boxes. Yeah... it's probably best that I don't win the Lamborghini.

But seriously. From my perch (between Pret a Manger's organic-100%-recycled-and-saves-baby-seals-in-its-free-time Fast Food Bar and the Chanel Parfum kiosk) I count four, yes four, separate World Duty Free stores. Not even one big giant World Duty Free store; the same shop in four individual locations. I can also see an Apple Store, a Starbucks, and a Sunglass Hut.

I honestly can't think of a time that I'm less in the mood to shop as when I'm carrying around fifty pounds of hand luggage (albeit pretty, coordinated hang luggage), I smell like airplane, and am still confused about what day it is.

If you've gotten this far through my pseudo-rant, you deserve to hear the perks of having a two and a half hour layover in Heathrow – the boys. I'm not sure what kind of employment policy the airport has, but I think it has something to do with only hiring adorable British boys. Ok, so maybe it's the fact that they all have British accents which makes them adorable. But a bunch of them are cute before they even start talking. And they are so polite! I'd kill to see the airport staff at Logan trade in “nah lady“no problem” for “I'm quite sorry, miss” and “certainly, madame!” Even while in the process of taking off your shoes and being treated like a potential terrorist they still manage to make you feel like you're doing it with a little dignity. And they ain't too hard on the eyes, either!

Alright. I'm going to use these last twenty minutes before I find out which gate I leave from to go try to get a cute British airport employee to say something like, “Goodness, miss! That bag looks positively dreadfully heavy! Might I carry it around for you? Of course it isn't an inconvenience! What a delight being able to help such a lovely lass as yourself!”

Haha, in my head is a weird place to be at five in the morning.

January 18, 2010

Back to Rome

Well, my lovely stay in Cambridge is drawing to a close. I'm flying back to Rome tonight, even if only to stay for a week before jetting off to Madrid.

Man am I tired of living out a suitcase!

I'll be back tomorrow - or the next day (more likely), when I've recovered a bit from my 24 hours of traveling!


January 16, 2010

Weekly(ish) Photo Essay: The Great White North

At the moment I'm balancing my laptop on my lap in the front seat of the car, driving through upstate Vermont on our back to Cambridge from Quebec, where I've been for the last five days. It's Friday afternoon, but given my tiredness/laziness I probably won't post this until Saturday, because unfortunately (unlike on glorious Bolt Bus) I don't have internet right now. But I figured I'd get a head start on my next blog post, since when I finally connect, I'll probably spend a good hour uploading all of the amazing photos you're about to see.

(Speaking of internet - it's like crack. I've spent four of the last five days completely disconnected from the world—no phone, no internet, hardly any TV (unless crappy French Canadian soap operas count - and when I finally got my hands on some internet at a little internet café this morning I felt as how I imagine a too-long abstemious junkie must feel after finally scoring - good, to say the least. I was happy to see that even the spam world hadn't forgotten to litter my inbox with ads for miracle penis-enlargement products. On the other hand I'm feeling a little overwhelmed about checking my google reader. There must be close to a thousand unread posts that I'm going to spent a good part of tonight trudging through - with pleasure, of course!)

Anyhoo, back to my Canadian vacation. I have never seen so much snow in my entire life - and I lived in Montreal for four years. Apparently barely a few kilometers outside of the snowy city I called home in college there is an even snowier land I had never ventured into. Walking just off the shoveled driveway I sunk knee-deep into the snow.

And that wasn't even the snowbank - those came up to my hips, if not higher.

Well, enough chatter. I'll let you see for yourselves. These are a mix of the way up and down (Vermont and New Hampshire), Magog, Quebec City, and the ski slopes at Mount Orford and Mount Owl's Head.

Isn't it lovely? Those trees at the top of the slopes looked like they'd been Mr. Freezed or something. They looked like snow monsters from the snowy beyond.

And by the end of the day at Mount Owl's Head the light in the sky was just lovely (sorry for the crappy paint composition I made):

I was going to include a video, but blogger is being excrutiatingly slow and I don't feel like waiting for it to load. Maybe another time.