Monthly Archives: December 2012

Aside

Hi y’all. So “the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys” prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog for the year. Well, technically I haven’t even had this baby for a whole year yet, but it’s still interesting to be able to see, so I figured I would share it with whoever it interested.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 6 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

2012 In Review

Cooking In A Winter Wonderland

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I know I still haven’t finished re-capping from France, but I felt like doing some up-to-date stuff, plus now that I finally get to cook I wanted to share some of the nomnoms I’m making with you!

BrekkieThis one isn’t very exciting, but it was the first meal I made myself after coming home. There you see a bagel with with spicy hummus on one side, and an egg with cheese on the other, with a random siding of Mexican corn and Chinese lo-mien.

CRACKThis masterpiece, is what I like to call “crack”. Here’s the recipe I used; I totally encourage everyone to make this. Not only is it super easy, but it is absolutely delicious! Usually you use saltine crackers, but I wanted to use what I had in my pantry, so Ritz Buttery Crackers were the winners.
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Chocolate Saltine Toffee
30 to 40 saltine crackers
1 c butter (2 sticks)
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 to 2 c chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a 9 x 11 pan or similar with aluminum foil and spray it very well with cooking spray.  (Do not try to make this without using foil; you will hate yourself).  Place saltine crackers in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.

In a saucepan on the stovetop, combine butter and sugar and bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Once a boil is reached, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture has thickened some.  Take care not that your simmer is not too fast/too high because it will be prone to bubbling over or scorching.  Stir mixture frequently while it simmers to avoid bubbling over or scorching.

After mixture has thickened a bit, remove it from the heat, wait 30 seconds, add the vanilla extract and stir.

Pour mixture over the prepared pan with the saltine crackers.  Bake this in the preheated 350F oven for 5- 7 minutes, or until toffee/liquid becomes bubbly.

After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes.

Sprinkle on the chocolate chips and wait for 3-5 minutes, letting them soften and melt a bit, and then spread and smooth them into an even layer with a spatula.

Optional:  After smoothing the chocolate, add nuts, seeds, graham cracker crumbs, toffee bits, dried fruit, candy bits, or swirl in some peanut butter or other nut butter.

Optional: Use other types of chips, such as butterscotch, white, peanut butter, etc. either in addition to or in a half-and-half  combination with the dark chocolate chips for your top layer.

Let cool very well and if desired for expediting purposes, refrigerate or freeze until hardened.  Break into pieces the size of your choice.

Store in an airtight container on the counter-top.  Or, for longer term storage, freeze it.
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Mexican Hot ChocolateThis beauty, although it doesn’t look too dangerous, packs a punch. It’s called Mexican Hot Chocolate and I made way too much of it, but oh well. Here‘s where the recipe came from, and all the directions are below.
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Mexican Spiced Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: About 5 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder (or the cocoa powder of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch (optional thickener)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle powder or chili powder
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne
  • optional toppings: whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate syrup, and/or chocolate shavings

Method

Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until simmering, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and serve with optional toppings.
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Bagel IssuesJust another bagel invention, this time with bacon, egg, provolone and American cheese, tomatoes, salsa and onions. Yumm.

Baked ZitiThis bad boy I made today when the storm starting brewing, it’s called Skillet Baked Ziti With Sausage and had a little bit of a bite to it, which I enjoyed.
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Skillet Baked Ziti with Sausage

1 (28-oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 lb Italian sausage (hot or sweet), casings removed
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
12 oz ziti
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 chopped fresh parsley
4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions:
Preheat oven to 475 F.

Add the tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until there aren’t any large pieces left, about 12 pulses.

Set a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook until the sausage is no longer pink, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage up and stir occasionally. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and the salt (if you’re not using a nonstick pan, now is a good time to scrape the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits). Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes don’t taste raw anymore.

Add the water and pasta to the pan (the pan will probably be quite full, just stir gently to prevent overflow). Cover the pan and turn the heat up to medium to medium-high (adjust as necessary to maintain a vigorous simmer). Cook, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan, for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. The pasta will not have absorbed all the liquid in the pan.

Add the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and parsley to the pan. Stir to incorporate, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Top the pasta with the mozzarella cheese then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned.
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Well, that’s all the fun things I’ve made so far. It looks like I’m stuck at home tonight due to the snow, so I’ll probably have more to share with y’all tomorrow. Enjoy this lovely white fluff!

Ho ho ho

Fly hat and glasses

“You Can’t Go Wrong With More Speed”

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Herro again. I just finished freezing my nips off in this snow storm we’re having over here in Rhode Island! I mean, in comparison to Vermont and other areas of the country I’m sure it’s child’s play; but it’s more than the 401 has seen all season I believe. My friend Aly interviewed me for her senior thesis, so I jut spent the passed two hours frolicking in the beautiful snow talking about horses. Whatever, I’m a nerd.

Street Decorations

Anyway, I said that I would try my best to re-cap my final days of studying abroad in Grenoble, France, so here it goes (oh, I’m also going to be weaving my pictures from the Lyon Festival of Lights into this post to add some pizazz):

Blocks

Tuesday, December 11th: Long day of classes, but the last one of the semester! Score. It was also my last literature and translation class (thank god, I HATED THAT CLASS), so I was partially okay with having to sit in that wretched course for two hours. I finished up around 16h45, which was earlier than usual, but I really didn’t have the energy/feel in the mood to party much. I’m pretty sure that after class, I just went home to read more 50 Shades Darker and start studying for the multiple finals I had coming up. If I did anything else of merit, I really don’t remember.

Archway

Wednesday, December 12th: Class from 8h30 to 10h20, which wasn’t too bad, especially considering we spent it watching a movie and learning French slang. After class I actually have no recollection of what I did. Considering I had finals coming up, I think I probably went to the coffee shop for at least a little bit to try and start studying. Honestly though, I could have done anything. Sorry for being so scatter-brained.

This Dragon >>HE WAS SOAWESOMEEE

Thursday, December 13th: Last day of classes for real!!! I had my final regular class on this day, which was actually quite sad. I had come to really enjoy the company of all my extremely diverse classmates (Germans, Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Australian and South Koreans), and our professor was just amazing. We wrapped up the final class by giving our professor gifts and pictures of our lovely faces, then we finished watching a movie about this guy whose job is to break up engaged couples by seduction.

Afterwards, I went to the post-office to pick up a box to ship home because quite frankly, I have too much shit. I somehow managed to shove 7kg worth of books, nail polish and sports clothing into a tiny box, gold star for me! Once that was over with, I went to the Christmas Market to see what they had to offer, since I still needed to find a few more Christmas presents for family and friends. I don’t think I did anything after dinner this night because I had an exam in the morning, so most likely I just finished up reading 50 Shades and did a minute amount of studying for my exam the next day.

Les Fleurs

Friday, December 14th: I had to wake up early in order to get to my exam on time. At my University, the program I was in was called the CUEF, and at the end of every semester you need to take a final called the DUEF, which basically makes sure that you learned enough French to move on to the next higher level. A lot of people seemed to stress out a bit about it, but quite honestly I wasn’t worried. We only had to get a 10/20 to pass, and my professor prepared us more than necessary for this exam. The only thing about it was that it was very annoying, and took forever! There were three parts to the exam: oral comprehension, written comprehension and actual writing. Between the first and second portion, we had a few hours break, so Hannah, Emily, Ellisa and I went in town to eat a decent lunch, then we spent some time at the Christmas Markets just enjoying the atmosphere and eating tasty treats. It was a good way to pass the time.

Finally, it came time to take the last exam of the day, and once it was over we were just about exhausted with school. Which meant… it was time to rage! I went home, had dinner with Madeleine and let the festivities begin. Hannah and I had plans to meet up with our classmates at Subway, so she came over and we each faced a wine bottle while just hanging out waiting for the time to come. Emily ended up meeting up with us an hour or so later, and then the three of us walked the short distance from my house to the bar. Now, Hannah and I were pretty drunk at this point, which made meeting up with our international friends that much more hilarious. We had to speak French the entire time, which was a lot of fun. The rest of the API group wound up at Subway at some point, but Hannah and I remained behind with our classmates for another hour, then we met up with the rest of our friends at London Pub. The workers at the bar were being douche-bags this particular night, so we didn’t stay for very long… just long enough to get free passes to Vieux Manoir. Finally, we ended the night at the Manoir, where we danced the night away, and I was eventually escorted home by two of the Chinese guys in my class. Night = success.

Moo

Saturday, December 15h: Somehow, I wasn’t hungover when I woke up, which was a mystery to me. Thank goodness though, because I had a lot of work to do prepping for exams. I pretty much spend the entire day at the Coffee Shop stuffing my brain with facts about History of Art, while at the same time trying to start studying for French Literature. I stayed studying and gossiping until it was time for dinner, then went home to spend the night cozy in bed. I figured my liver would enjoy a break, plus I had 35+ slides of Art to memorize, so I hunkered down, did the work I had to do, and had a good nights rest.

Van Gogh

Across The River

Sunday, December 16th: Same old study grind, I’m sad to say (well, not sad — but it’s incredibly dull to write about). I spent more countless hours cramming historical art facts into my mind until I just couldn’t do it anymore. As a break, Richard, Hannah, her host sister and I all went to Tacos de Lyon for some kebab nomnoms, then to “the best” bakery in Grenoble (whose name I forget) where I bought some cookie fruit thing. It was pretty good, but considering I still had a broken retainer in my mouth, it probably wasn’t my greatest purchase.

After our food break, I realized that I needed to go home and be away from the internet in order to make any sort of progress, so I bid adieu to my friends and went back to the apartment to be productive. I figured that since I had already finished 50 Shades Darker, I wouldn’t have as many distractions; I was wrong. I still had Game of Thrones to finish so of course that became my first priority, teehee. Eventually, I did get around to studying enough to feel confident, but I had an oral exam early the next morning, so I went to bed before 22h00. Fiestaaa.

HiSsSsSRAWR

C’est La France

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Wow. Okay everyone – first of all, I apologize for my lack of activity on this these last few weeks. I’ll try to recap all that I can, but it’s been a crazy time so I probably won’t recall all of it.

*Actually, I typed all of this up while I was still in Grenoble, but with the lack of internet I never got around to posting and finishing it. I’m still not caught up, but this seemed better than nothing for the time being. Also.. it’s my 100th post — I am appointing myself an honorary badge for that.*

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As I sit here typing this, it’s my last day in Grenoble (Friday, 21/12/12), and I can’t quite absorb that idea yet. I think I may be numb to it, but that’s probably for the best. These past four months have been some of the greatest thus far in my life, and this has been an experience that I will never forget. Not only did I learn so much more about myself and travel to some unreal places, but also I met some of the best people on this trip, which is really what made the whole thing so unparalleled. We were (ARE) a crazy bunch, that is for sure, but I became close with some of the most unique and genuine people ever, and some of which will definitely remain friends. I can’t believe I will be leaving them; it’s painful to think about, but at least with all this technology, communication won’t be limited. We gave Grenoble, France a run for it’s money, and it definitely showed us a great ass time. A piece of me will forever be resting somewhere in Victor Hugo, awaiting my return.

What have I been doing, you ask? I’ll try and fill in as many gaps as possible:

Monday, December 3rd: School, blech. It was my last day of Culture and Society though, so that was at least a morsel of niceness. It was wayyy to long ago for me to remember what I did in the evening, but being the day after Rome and a Monday, I can deduce that I probably just went home, ate dinner, did some homework slash read 50 Shades of Grey and went to bed.

Tuesday, December 4th: Today was Carl’s birthday! I had the usual full drudging day of classes, unfortunately. After school though, I went home, ate dinner with Madeleine and sipped on some vino while finishing up 50 Shades! After my lovely accomplishment, I met up with Maddie, Ian, Carl and Max to celebrate Carl’s birthday at the one and only Subway. I was already a little buzzed from my celebration wine (whatever, when in France), so I think I only nursed one drink the whole night, kudos to me. I also was given this semi-gross cherry chocolate candy that has a pretty large amount of alcohol inside. We hung out at Subway for a solid amount of time, but I had a 8h30 class the next day, so I called it a night after the bar and went to bed.

Wednesday, December 5th: Hah. So, I had every intention of going to class, but I just couldn’t force myself to get out of my cozy, warm bed at 7h00. C’etait trop tot, et j’avait seulement one class on Wednesdays, so I skipped. Turns out I picked the best day to skip though, because we did nothing in class. So much so that my professor bought everyone coffee and they just hung out in the cafeteria.

I’m pretty sure after I peeled myself out of bed, I went and met up with Hannah at the coffee shop to do whatever. Once again, it was a very long time ago, so I can’t quite remember the details anymore. I do know though that after dinner, I went to Max’s to hang out while he prepped all his stuff for Florence and Rome. That’s about it for this day, though.

Thursday, December 6th: Finished up school for the week at 12h30, yippee! Unfortunately, I had to spend the majority of my afternoon copying down all my Culture and Society notes, since my exam was on Monday. It was a fun time, let me tell you.

After we logged a bunch of studying hours, I went home to drop off my stuff, then grabbed dinner at La Salsita and met up with a bunch of kids from my program for our soiree theatre. We saw this French film, called Populaire (je pense), which was about this small town girl from France who ended up being the best speed typewriter in the world. It was a romantic comedy, and I actually really enjoyed it. I was also very pleased with the fact that it was entirely in French, and I understood all of it minus a few instances. Three cheers for improving!

Once the movie was finished, those who were still in Grenoble felt the need to let loose (when don’t we have that urge, though?), and we instated a girls night. If I remember correctly, it was Hannah, Emily, Maddie, Ellisa, Evelyn and myself. We speed drank some wine/champagne in the foyer of my apartment with pure class and then walked around the corner to Subway to get some more liquor in our bloodstream, duh. We were a rowdy bunch of individuals this night, and Hannah and I become even crazier when a few kids from our class wound up at the same bar for our friend Jascha’s birthday. It was a fun time, and we were probably there for almost two hours. When we exhausted Subway, we changed the scenery and made our way to Couche Tard and were equally crazy. Fun things ensued, and I got to practice my French, that’s all I’m going to say. 😉

Friday, December 7th: Let’s just not talk about how exhausted everyone was after our night full of extravaganzas. Unfortunately being lazy all day wasn’t an option since we had that stupid exam to study for… mer. I spent my day at the French Coffee Shop with Emily, Maddie, Natasha and Hannah prepping for finals and draining our brains. Multiple breaks were taken. I was too beat to even think about going out that night, so I simply went home for dinner then hunkered down for the night to read 50 Shades Darker; I’m pretty sure I read close to half of it. Great success.

Saturday, December 8th: After a full night’s sleep, I was back at the coffee shop squeezing a few hours in before I went with Natasha, Maddie and Hannah to the Lyon Festival of Lights!!!! We took the 16hish train into Lyon, and hung out and enjoyed the festival in all its beauty until 23h30.

 Peacock

I think the entire population of France was crammed into Lyon that night… too many people. Don’t get me wrong, it was a grand experience and the lights were unreal, but it was just too crowded for my liking. You also had to pay for toilets, which is outrageous; so we just snuck into Quik’s. Another thing that was irksome about the festival was how poorly the map correlated to the city itself. We got lost a bunch of times, and it was almost impossible to figure out where you were. One would think for such a popular festival they would be more organized. No matter though, I had fun and got to see some crazy lights. Don’t forget to watch the insane video that I will most at some point in the near future.

CrazinessThat's A Building

The train ride took foreverrrr, and I didn’t crawl into bed until passed 1h00. It was freezing that night, so my cozy covers were more than appreciated.

Do DaLook Closely

Sunday, December 9th: I bet you can guess what I did all this day… that’s right: study. My electives here in France were tricky business. On one hand, it was very nice that I didn’t have homework for the entire semester, but at the same time… our final exams were 100% of our grade. How insane is that?! That’s not how we do it over in America, so needless to say I was massively stressing out for this exam. It was also extra important because I needed to pass the class (and History of Art) in order to get credit for one of my necessary classes for the European Studies major. I don’t think I had ever studied for an exam so much in my life… literally all weekend, blah!

After once again posting up in the coffee shop for hours on end, I went home to eat dinner, de-stress with 50 Shades and get a good night’s sleep before my exam. Eep.

Monday, December 10th: Had the normal class protocol from 10h40 to 12h30, then it was exam time, ew. I didn’t think it was that difficult. The one good thing is that these grades don’t get factored into my GPA, so I only need to get a 10/20 (that’s a C in France) on the exam to get credit for it. I am pretty positive I passed… if I didn’t I will be really angry and shocked, especially after all that studying I did.

Normally after I take an exam I am much more relaxed and just hang out for a little afterwards, but sadly this was not the case this time around. Classes were still in session, so directly after the exam we had to sit in History of Art for an hour and a half. It was not my idea of a good time, but it was the last time that class met, so that was a positive aspect of it.

I got home after class to find out my host mom was gone, so I was able to eat dinner while reading 50 Shades, which was a nice way to unwind. Afterwards I just hung out and putzed around for the night; it was all I could manage.

~~~~~ So, that’s all I had written down in my draft box. Looks like that’s all you’ll be getting for the moment. I don’t have too much on my agenda tomorrow so hopefully I’ll make some strides. Happy Holidays, Everyone! I know I’m a little late, but the good times should always be in session. ❤

When In Rome

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Bongiorno (spelling?) my little babinos! So I’m in love with Rome. I mean, if I’m being honest, I fell in love with all of the places I have visited this semester. It’s sad though, because Rome was my last big weekend adventure before I go back to the states :((((^2. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased to be going home to see those I miss, but that’s about it. I love Grenoble and I love Europe and the lifestyle they live over here. I’m coming back, in the very near future though, so I won’t try to shed too many tears when the time arrives.

Enough about the downer stuff though, let me tell you about ROMA ROMA ROMA!!

Thursday, November 29th: I was up bright and early in order to get to the Grenoble station at 7h45, because Hannah, Emily, Nina and I had to take the 8h05 bus from Grenoble to Lyon in order to make our flight. The bus ride was quick and painless, and we had no issues (thank heavens!!) so we were on the plane by 11h30 heading to Rome. We landed around 1h, and we took yet another bus from the Rome airport to the center of the city, where Becca was waiting for us at the stop (Nina and I went to Amsterdam with Becca and Lea, the girls whose apartment we were to stay at in Rome).

After taking yet another bus, we finally made it to Lea and Becca’s apartment, dropped off our things, and went to EAT IN ROME. We were beyond excited. First of all, I am very Italian, so Italian cuisine sparks a certain nostalgia deep within me. Secondly, we were in mo-freaking Rome — how could the food not be delicious beyond compare? So of course we had pizza. Mine had buttery potatoes and sausage on it… MMMMM. It was amazing and cheap and I practically licked my plate clean. Yes, I love Italian food. GAH!

Naturally, we needed gelato to finish off the meal. I had DARK CHOCOLATE and hazelnut gelato and I was close to drooling. First pizza, now Italian gelato. That’s the real deal, folks.

Post-gorging, we went back to the apartment to meet up with Lea, since she was now out of class. Becca soon left to go get ready for her art exhibition that her art program was putting on, since its the end of the semester for them (whaaaat). The rest of us just hung out at the apartment for a little to hang and gain energy/sip on some Italian wine, then we made the trip to the center of the city to go and see Becca’s work. It was such a cool expo!! So many beautiful photographs, paintings, sculptures and drawings! I get so envious going to these kinds of events because I have no visual artistic talent, but at the same time I love admiring art, especially in Rome, especially by students. Wine all around.

… Also, there was free, unlimited wine. If you’re wondering, yes we did all get drunk. I think we all had at least 5 glasses, and I know for sure that I was feeling it. The art just kept getting progressively cooler as the night wore on. 😉

We left the expo around 20h30/21 and trekked back to the apartment to munch and unwind after a day of traveling. It turns out, Becca is a phenomenal chef, and treated us to Bruschetta and GNOCCHI’S with pesto and olive oil. In case you weren’t aware, Gnocchi is my favorite pasta on the planet, and it is one of my favorite meals to devour. Now add in the fact that I was drunk, and you’ve got one very happy Azure. 😀 we didn’t do too much else that night; in fact, we were in bed by about 23h – haha, what animals we are. End of our first day in Rome; a very good day at that.

Friday, November 30th: We woke up a bit later than anticipated (~10h30), but that meant we were extremely well rested and ready to fully seize the day – carpe diem, baby. We were ready to leave the house pretty soon after waking up, and we made a quick pit stop at a Il Siciliano, this breakfast place right near the apartment. I didn’t get anything the first day because right when I woke up I went in on a ball of mozzarella and a tomato… When in Rome!

After breakfast, we (minus Becca) took the bus into town and went to the Capital Building and then The Colosseum!!!! Okay, I have an obsession with Roman anything, and the Colosseum is like the apex of crazy Roman beauty, so I was 110% in my element. Don’t miss out on these pictures I’m about to post after this, they’re incredible. Literally everywhere you turn is like looking into the past. It was so surreal.

Capital BuildingBehold It's PowerSo Old!

After the Colosseum, we went to the Trevi Fountain.. The famous fountain where you’re supposed to throw three coins in and make a wish. Of course we did exactly that, then went to indulge on pizza and gelato once again. This time I opted for the classic margarita pizza and then mixed berry and dark chocolate gelato. ‘Twas an incredible, Italian lunch. Oh, fun fact about the fountain: a few weeks ago or so they collected the coins thrown in the fountain for the year, and collected over 500,000 euros!! That’s a crazy amount of money, especially in coins.

Trevi Fountain

Having filled our bellies and made secret wishes, we headed to the Pantheon to see some more breathtaking Roman architecture. It was beautiful, and I am still constantly in awe that the Romans could built all of this, especially without machines or any modern day technology. They make us look like a bunch of pussies.

WahWah

Rome was getting ready for Christmas like the rest of the world, so we were lucky enough to see how beautifully lit up some of the streets were on our way to see the Spanish Steps. Hannah really wanted to see this piece of history, but I didn’t really know anything about them.

Spanish Steps

At this point, the sun was starting to set, so we all put some pep in our step and hustled up a bunch of steps to get an astonishing view of all of Rome right as the sun was going down. We ended up hanging around there for a bit and soaking in the pure magic of Rome; it really is such a flawless city.

View Of The Beautiful RomaThe Crowd

When we finally had our eye-fill, we headed back in the direction of Lea and Becca’s apartment, stopping briefly at the grocery store to purchase the essential items for the night. After arriving at the apartment, we were all pretty exhausted from a full day of walking and site seeing, so we all just kind of lamped and showered before dinner. Becca and Lea once again got gold stars for cooking a delicious Italian meal: salad with Parmesan, peppers, olives and tomatoes (& balsamic vinegar for dressing of course), garlic bread and rigatoni smothered in melted cheese. It most definitely hit the spot, and we washed it all down with Italian wine, which made it that much better. Nomnomnom.

Once dinner was finished, it was time to shift into night mode. Hannah and I per usual split a bottle of Jack, mixing it with Coke at the apartment for Pregaming. Umm… All of us got messed up, and collectively we are able to piece together most of the night. Mostly because we met up with Emily’s friend, Kelsey, and her sister Amelia we know what we all did, because they were mostly sober. Apparently I was kicking bottles, and kicked a stool down in a pizza place… I also skipped down the road with pizza in my hand, holding it by the crust, so of course the cheese and toppings flew everywhere. Hannah decided she was in love with a bartender, Nina chased a dog down the road, and Emily went HAM in a canoli (of course there was a 24 hour bakery in Rome). Basically, we were 50 shades of messed up, but in the best way. We all had fun, and that’s what is important, yay Roma! The best part is that we were back at the apartment by 1h30… So we didn’t even have that late of a night. Rage on.

Saturday, DECEMBER 1st: …. Um, it’s already DECEMBER?!? Wasn’t it just October like, yesterday? Nooooo. Anyway, we woke up about the same time as Friday (10h30), so we were all well rested and surprisingly I wasn’t even hungover. Holler, though I can’t say the same for Hannah.

Brekkie

We started the day off right with some freshly squeezed Orange Juice and Cappuccino at the same breakfast place, then Hannah, Emily and I went to St. Peters Basilica and hung around in the square for a little to soak in the sites while waiting for Kelsey.

Bascilia Square Ureal Skies

We also walked through an Italian farmers market, and I was happy as a clown eating free samples of cheese and bread soaked in homemade olive oil… Yum. Emily and I also bought Maroon Glaces, which are caramelized chestnuts; I’m not sure I was that big of a fan, though.

Olives For Days

At 14h30 we met up with Kelsey, then the four of us went to The Vatican— eeeee!

Vatican Walls

We spent a few hours roaming through the expansive museum and ogling all the impressive artwork, as well as admiring the Sistine Chapel. So amazing I can’t even put words to it. There were also a few Salvador Dali pieces, so I was tickled pink at that.

Dali, My Love

Eventually, we had enough of the museum and realized we were starving, so we went to a restaurant outside the Basilica to munch. I went with chicken Parmesan, and was not disappointed.

Yes.

By the time we finished eating, Lea, Becca, Nina and some other girl found us… Face deep in gelato. Haha. Once everyone was done gorging, we went to a Christmas market/carnival somewhere in the center of the city to enjoy the sites, sounds, smells, etc. It wasn’t anything in comparison to Strasbourg, but there was this dude who could break-dance like a boss.

This day was extra special because it happened to be be Lea’s 21st birthday! After the carnival, we went to her favorite restaurant for a delicious dinner. We had free Bruschetta in addition to our dinner, which was cool. A bottle of red and white were also split between the nine of us, and Hannah and I shared an order of Gnocchi since we were still pretty full from our late lunch. It was a good time with good food and good people.

The Danks

After dinner, the group of us meandered back to the apartment to get ready to pre-game and such. We ended up not leaving the apartment because the weather was not agreeing with us. Actually, this was the first spurt of bad weather so I wasn’t that upset. The original forecast for the weekend in Rome was all rain and yuckiness, but we ended up having beautiful days all Friday and Saturday; so a little rain on Saturday night was nothing to complain about. It was a really fun night though, but that information is going to be withheld… When in Rome. We went to bed around 2, if my memory serves me correctly.

Sunday, December 2nd: Our stay in Rome was over much too quickly. We all woke up at 10h, packed our bags, and were out the door by 10h30 in order to have a final breakfast at IL SICIALANO before a day of travel. Post-breakfast, we waited for what seemed like forever at the bus step in order to take the bus back into the city center. We were nervous for a little because the bus came really late, and we didn’t think we were going to catch the 11h55 bus to the airport, but lady luck was smiling on us! Of course though, when we checked in we were informed that our plane was going to be 1.5 hours late… Seriously, screw you easyJet!!

On the bright side, I had a tasty lunch of pizza with artichokes, sliced ham, mozzarella, olives and mushrooms and then these fried rice ball things — I desperately need to start running more often, I’ve been slacking. Oh, I also had a cannoli for dessert, yuuuup. I heart Italian cuisine.

Love These Puppies

Well, We Once Were The Jesters In Your Kingdom By The Sea

Standard

Bonjour! I’m once again in the French Coffee Shop “studying” my arse off for my Culture & Society exam tomorrow… eek. I really have been studying, but I need a mental break from all this nonsense. BLECH EXAMS — je les deteste.

Sunday, November 25th: We were supposed to leave the hotel by 9h00, so I was up and munching down another tasty breakfast by 8h00, but one of our lovely API family members (whom shall remain anonymous) never made it back to the hotel the night before *coughfrenchlovercough* so there was a mad search around the city until said person was dragged out of a locals bed. Teehee, I love my group. We probably ended up leaving passed 10h00, and then we were piled onto the bus once again for the dreaded ride back to Grenoble.

Quite The Attractive Courtyard

In order to break up the monotony, though, we made a two hour pit stop in Colmar, which is an hour away from Strasbourg to discover this lovely town’s marchés de Noël (Christmas Markets). Obviously, it was not as awesome as Strasbourg’s, but I bought a tasty honey lollipop and another Christmas present for a family member. We also did a quick walk through of le Musée d’Unterlinden, but if I’m being honest… the museum kind of freaked me out a little bit. I took some pictures, so you can see for yourself, and if you agree with me or not.

Well, Hello There

Note: Bottom left corner

Note: Bottom left corner

So SicklyWhat On EARTH Is Going On Here?Er...Heyyy, Boys

In case you’re interested in some factoids about Strasbourg and Colmar, I copied and pasted them from our itinerary below. It’s in French — sorry, I’m too lazy to translate for you… just use google translate if you’re curious:

  • Colmar: ancienne ville libre du Saint Empire romain germanique. Elle est devenue française en 1648. C’est la Capitale des Vins d’Alsace et la troisième ville de la région par sa population. Colmar est la ville natale du créateur de la Statue de la Liberté à New York, Auguste Bartholdi.
  • Strasbourg: Strasbourg est une ville située dans le nord-est de la France, sur la rive gauche du Rhin. C’est la septième ville de France par la population, et l’un des principaux pôles économiques du nord-est. Elle est devenue française en 1681.
    Grand carrefour historique, Strasbourg fut de tous temps un lieu de rencontre de religions et de cultures différentes.. En 1440, Gutenberg y inventa les caractères d’imprimerie ; Mozart y donna de nombreux concerts ; Goethe, le célèbre poète allemand y fut étudiant ; la future reine de France Marie-Antoinette, s’arrêta à Strasbourg en arrivant d’Autriche….
    Aujourd’hui, Strasbourg, est devenue le symbole de l’unité et de la reconstruction européenne.  Elle est, avec Bruxelles, l’une des deux capitales de l’Europe, siège du Parlement Européen et du Conseil de l’Europe.
    Située au cœur de l’Alsace, Strasbourg est aussi  une capitale gastronomique (foie gras, vins d’Alsace, chocolat et eau-de-vie).
    Enfin, elle est aussi connue pour son Marché de Noël, autour de sa prestigieuse Cathédrale, marché qui date du 16ème siècle (1570)….

Well, there you have it! Haha, I’m sure most of you didn’t understand a lick of that, but maybe that will be incentive for you to learn a little French 😉

Awesome ColorsHitler 'Stach?UNICORN

Anyway, after we finished our stop in Colmar, we continued on and sat on that dang bus for hours on end. I thankfully fell asleep for a little, so it didn’t seem as bad. We arrived in Grenoble close to 20h3o I think, so I made it just in time for dinner with Madeleine. Wahwahweewah. I was supposed to go to a party for my classmate, Kevin, but I was so exhausted that I had to bail on that fete. Hannah wasn’t pleased, but I wouldn’t have been any fun. So instead, I took a shower and passed out into a much needed slumber.

Monday, November 26th: Had the usual nonsense and was at school from 10h40 to 17h30 for classes, and afterwards I went with Hannah, Richard and Emily to renew our tramcards for the last time! Ahhh, so sad. It was actually a rough time because while I was waiting in line, I was going in on a semi-stale gummy, and I broke my built in retainer! There aren’t any dangerous sharp points in my mouth or anything, but it is definitely broken, and if you touch the right spot, it is sharp. Woops. I mean, I was supposed to get it out once I turned 21, but I just didn’t have time over the summer. My mom is making me an appointment for once I’m back in the states though, so this won’t be in my mouth for too much longer.

After my dental issue, I walked through the Grenoble Marche de Noel to see what it was like (it opened while we were in Strasbourg) and browse the shops. I ran into Max while I was there, so we explored it and I ate this tasty little number:

After 8 Mousse on a Waffle Encased in Dark Chocolate.

After 8 Mousse on a Waffle Encased in Dark Chocolate.

It was delicious, and would not be my first rendez-vous. After we explored some more, I had to go home and do the usual homework and personal cleansing routine, then I read some 50 Shades of Grey, and went to bed. Cheeel.

Tuesday, November 27th: Another rough, long day of classes. I actually ended up skipping my Translation class a) because the professor sucks and b) because there was a hockey game this night, and I really wanted to go, but I had my last big homework assignment due on Thursday, but since I wouldn’t be in class (ROMA ROMA), I had to hand it in on Wednesday, so I spent those 2 hours where I should have been in class doing homework. It felt good to be productive, teehee.

After my Literature class was over at 17h15, I went home to eat some dinner and get ready to go to the hockey game. Madeleine wasn’t home, so I was able to eat while burying my nose in 50 Shades. The weather ended up being terrible, and the hockey game was more expensive than usual due to it being the semi-finals (we lost…mer), so I didn’t end up going. Instead, I had a movie night and watched Cool Hand Luke — I had never seen it before, and I must say I really liked it… except for the less than happy ending. Oh well.

Wednesday, November 28th: SNOW IN GRENOBLE!!!! Usually at this point in the year, I am used to being bombarded with snow due to living in Vermont, but I was spoiled this semester. I can’t say I was entirely thrilled for the snow, it was cold, but it did make Grenoble look even more beautiful than usual.

Erm, after class, I think I went to the Coffeeshop to either dick around, work on this darling blog, or do some homework. I can’t really remember, but I know I didn’t hang around for too long. Then, I went to the train station with Emily and Nina to buy our bus tickets for the next day to Lyon, and we made a pit stop in the 2 euro store, where I bought this:

My Sign <3We also walked around the Grenoble Markets, where I bought some more Christmas gifts (seriously, I am beyond broke it’s disgusting) and another one of those tasty morsels.

Nomnomnom

Mocha Mousse This Time

Eventually, the cold got the best of us and we parted ways. I went home to read some 50 Shades and pack for ROMA!!! I had to be up pretty early the next morning to make the bus, so after dinner I just relaxed and went to bed shortly after. Week of school = complete. Next stop: ROME, BEETCHES.