Tag Archives: Cookies

Mmm…. Lemon-y

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Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are a specialty of mine, and the lemon flavor in baked goods is one that I happen to be a huge fan of. I have a great muffin recipe that I’ll have to make again and share with you all soon, but that’s not the focus of today’s post.

Instead, I tried to branch out and find other sweet recipes that incorporated lemon and poppy seeds. After browsing the world wide web, I found this one for Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies.

Lemon Poppy Seed Goodness

Lemon Poppy Seed Goodness

If I’m being entirely honest though, I need to make this a few more times to get it to meet my expectations. The flavor was magnificent, but the texture was not where I wanted it to be; the cookies were a bit too crumbly before going into the oven, which made them become either too thin after baked or they were vulnerable to falling apart. There were some casualties that broke into a bunch of cookie nuggets while I tried to pry them off of the baking sheet.

Next time, I think I am going to leave the batter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes after step 6 before balling them up and placing them in the oven… that should hopefully help them become a little more viscous. We shall see!

Anyway, here’s the list of ingredients along with the recipe itself. If anyone tries this and has better success then me, please clue me in as to what you did!

Ingredients:
– 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1-1/2 lemons)
– 3 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (about 1-1/2 or 2 lemons)
– 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 large egg
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the lemon juice to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced by half. Add 1/2 cup butter and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
4. In a bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest, rubbing the zest and sugar together with your fingers until the zest is distributed and the sugar is fragrant. Add remaining 1/2 cup of butter and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
5. Add the egg and the butter/juice mixture. Continue to beat until pale, (about another 3 minutes). Mix in the vanilla.
6. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
7. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Form dough into small balls about 1″ in diameter. Roll each in the sugar/zest mixture and place about 2″ apart on baking sheet. Gently flatten each ball to about 1/4″ thick with the bottom of a glass that’s been dipped in the sugar mixture.
8. Bake for about 12-13 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cookies just begin to brown around the edges. Allow to cool on a wire rack for a couple minutes before removing from the cookie sheet to cool completely.

Enjoy my dears!!

I’m In Love With My Mixer

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Good evening my beauties!

How is everyone doing on this rainy Saturday night? I just came back from a nice, mild climb and a filling Thai dinner with Sarah. Now, I’m sipping on a “Grey Lady” from Cisco Brewers, enjoying life. I’ve got no complaints.

In honor of today (3.14 “Pi Day”), in this post I wanted to vaunt about the new toy I acquired a few weeks ago: My Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

Oh gosh, is she magnificent. I’m obsessed. I purchased an Artisan Series, and there is a reason these beauties are so coveted. Seriously. I will have this for many, many moon phases and my belly (along with the bellies of loved ones) will be constantly contented. Any requests are welcome!!!

Obviously, I have been putting her to work. So far the concoctions we have created together are limited, but damn delicious. The maiden voyage were these bad boys:

THE BOMBLet me assure you, they were even better than how they looked. The were fudge brownies with an emphasis on vanilla extract (my homemade vanilla extract); the ones on the left are topped with peanut butter frosting and the ones on the right have nutella frosting. Yes, that is correct. Those didn’t last long.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

My Homemade Vanilla Extract! Jus d’Azure

Once the brownies disappeared, I made baked oatmeal with walnuts, dark chocolate, strawberries and banana. Another great success. Normally, I don’t even enjoy oatmeal, but this is one I will definitely be making again for a climbing trip breakfast.

The last project I took on were mountains of almond butter and banana bread cookies. Essentially, they were healthier shortbread cookies with a twist. Autre fois, they were thoroughly enjoyed.

Almond Butter Banana Bread Cookies

Here’s where I got really crafty: I had made too many cookies and wanted to do something creative with them. So, I smashed up a few and lined a pan with the crumble, forming a pie crust. From there, I made pecan pie bars that are deadly awesome. Need I say more? Nope.

Now that I am sufficiently drooling (kidding, sort of), I’m going to leave you all to have a little treat – aka, my pecan pie bars. Have a splendid Saturday and take advantage of Sunday… go live! Sending out my love, as always.

Don’t Go Killing That Vibe

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Don’t go killin’, killin’ the vibe
I can’t take your lame style
Can’t you just sit a while
And try your hardest to smile?

Hi babies. This song is awesome, and I’m kind of obsessed (thanks Sarah), so you should probably check it out — it’s called “Killin’ The Vibe” by Ducktails.

My biff is cooler than yours

My bffl is cooler than yours

Anyway, hope y’all are doing well! I’ve been going h.a.m. at the gym lately; Max has me lifting weights so naturally my body is sore practically all over, but in a really good feeling way. I can’t boast too much, but for being a lankier, 130lb girl, I’m making progress. Usually I will just bench lift the bar, which is 45lbs, and I don’t go much over 40lbs for anything else. Gotta start somewhere! Soon I’ll be getting nice and strong. Womp.

Cute Weiney Dog

I can’t believe it’s already January 5th, noo! That means I have to end my break in like a week. Granted, I don’t have a very heavy course load next semester… but I feel like my stay in Rhode Island has been too short. I’ve also been taking an on-line 1 credit course since Christmas, which also eats up some of my time. The class is pretty interesting though, and I’ll definitely dedicate a post to all the useful stuff I have learned from it.

Meow

Let’s see… what have I been doing in the last few days? Yesterday was pretty jam packed — I had spent the previous night as Max’s house in Narragansett, so I had to wake up early, get my homework and reading done for the day (blah), and then head back home so I could clean the barn before my day plans were set in motion.

After doing all the horsey stuff, I went and picked Sarah and Katie up and we went to Newport!  I love Newport; it’s so beautiful and the houses there are huge and gorgeous, definitely visit it if any of you are ever in Rhode Island. Ocean Drive is not something to miss. We spent a few hours there — long enough to drive around, explore for a while on the Cliff Walk and see the sunset over the ocean. Not bad, huh?

Pink EauWaterfallSunsetAwesome Clouds

After my afternoon in Newport, I went home for like 20 minutes then was out the door again with my Mom, Kiley, Brenna and Logan to head to my Grandparents house for a surprise dinner; they’re leaving to spend the next few months in Florida, so we met up with my Aunt, Uncle and Cousins and just hung out and ate some good food and drank some tasty wine. We stayed there for a few hours, then once we got back to my house I was out the door once more to go to Mollie’s house to spend the night with her and Molly. Beer was drank, we went nekkid in the hot tube, and good times were had.

Love is LifeOf course since it is break, I’ve been eating some good food lately. I haven’t been cooking as much as I would like – people in my life take up that time – but my mom is still a fabulous cook, and I’ve been gorging. For example:
Steak & Couscous stuffed PepperThat was pretty dank, if I do say so myself. Sarah and I also made these awesome cookies (along with mulled wine) the other day, I’ll post the recipe below in case you feel like re-creating it. Way worth your while, trust me.
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Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies

Ingredients:

2 extra large eggs
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup nutella
1/2 tsp instant espresso coffee granules
3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup M&M’s
3/4 cup chocolate chip morsels
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
3 1/2 cups oatmeal

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs and sugars until creamy about 3 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla extract, nutella, instant espresso, flour, baking soda and butter. Using a spoon stir the ingredients until it is well mixed.

Stir in the m&m’s, chocolate chip morsels, pecans and oatmeal.

Using a cookie scoop or spoon drop tablespoon size drops onto a silicone mat or cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes and then remove to let cool for 2 minutes on pan. Then remove with spatula to wire rack to finishing cooling.

*Cookies will be thinner than normal just be sure to not over bake.*
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They sound pretty good, right? RIGHT. Being 21 and wine lovers (I mean, I did just get back from France), we made mulled wine with these spices my mom recently bought.

Mulled Wine

Also, I have a new goal in mind, folks: I want to start a wine and beer journal. Since I can now legally drink, I want to take advantage of all the microbreweries Vermont has to offer, and I just want to experiment with different kinds of spirits. I think I’m going to make it a new tab on this blog, so stay tuned for that. I don’t really have any idea how to start one of these journals, but I’ll do some research and get back to you.

Max & My Yankee Swap Gifts

Max & My Yankee Swap Gifts

Well, I think that’s all for now my friends. I’m hungry… so I’m going to go raid my cupboards and cook up something delectable. Until next time!

We’re All A Little Strange

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Saturday, October 6th: My body decided to suck and I woke up at 9h, unable to fall back asleep. Nina and I had plans to meet up after lunch to go shopping, so until then I moseyed around the apartment at a snails pace and eventually made my way to Victor Hugo with my lovely hula to get some much needed hooping in. Turns out Emily and Mike were there, and Mike had brought his brand new acoustic guitar, so I was 100% content to listen to him play/sing (he’s good, which is definitely a bonus) and hoop dance to the music. Of course we got a plethora of stares, and I really need to remember to bring a hat next time and try to actually collect some cash money.

Hilarious French Graffiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turns out that it was hot as balls, so after Mike, Emily, Richard and Max left to hike up the Bastille, I went back home to change into shorts (can you believe it, shorts and a t-shirt in October?! I love it here) and then headed back to the park to wait for Nina and commence the shopping excursion. We went into some awesome boutiques and spent money we don’t really have (yay being broke), but you only live once, and I of course convinced myself I needed everything that I bought (c’est la verite, non?). Peep the pics for the visual booty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After exhausting our wallets, we stumbled upon the most awesome cookie store ever where we got raspberry milkshakes and cookies, of course. I choose an apple streusel-ish one, which was drool worthy, and you can bet your ass that I will be going back there to taste as many as possible.

After practically licking the crumbs off of the napkin, we made went to buy some champagne for the nights festivities… because who doesn’t love getting swilly off of champagne? From there I had to power walk back to my apartment, change into some pants, drop off my goods and hurry over to the French Coffeeshop to skype Sarah – a date that was long overdue. We caught up until the battery on my phone died/the shop closed, which was convenient timing because by then I was starving. I made it to around the corner and caved in, stopping at the closest place that looked tasty.

Great success. I think the name of the place was Bakanan, but I’m not entirely positive. Regardless, I got a chicken “taco”, which in Grenoble is a burrito, and it had fries inside! Nomnomnom. Max and Nina met me there, and after we finished eating, we made it to – you guessed it – V. Huges (yes, I just made up a nickname for the park), where Nina and I popped our Champagne (we split three bottles, don’t judge… it was our amount for the evening), buzzbuzz.

By 22hish, we figured it was time for the event of the evening… The Strange Carnival!

I really had no idea what to expect, and it was definitely an experience. The venue was called Ampherage, which should be explanation enough. There was a man with a live snake, pictures/art projects scattered in random rooms, the main concert area/bar, and then a pretty sizable outside area to get some air/smoke cigs for those who do desire (gag). Of course, since Nina and I were riding the champagne wave, we were social butterflies (I’m pretty positive Nina started it, it’s her MO), but we ended up making a few French friends. I got the numbers of two of them (Clement and Johan), and I’m looking forward to potentially being able to speak French with some locals. They’re English isn’t the greatest, which is nice because that will pretty much force me into French. The Clement guy sent me a broken English text Sunday night asking me out to dinner with him, which was flattering. I asked the boyfriend if I was allowed to, and I actually got permission (not that he was extremely pleased, but a yes is a yes); I’m going to try to make it as un-date-like as possible… but I mean, come on, who doesn’t like a free dinner? Not I sir, not I. We’ll see how that plays out.

Now for the highlight of my evening at the carnival… I crowd-surfed!! It was so much better than regular crowd-surfing, though. Basically, the lead singer of the band (they were of the rock genre, and wore skeleton masks, I dug it) asked – in French, of course – for a girl. Being me, I rose my hand in excitement, and although I wasn’t even in the front, the singer pointed at me, and before I knew it was I walking up on the stage with absolutely no idea what to expect. I told him that I wasn’t that good at French yet and if this was a participation thing there was going to be a minor issue, but he just told me it was fine and then I saw it… an inflatable pool bed. YES. He placed it on the crowd, and just told me to go. The first attempt was not quite a success, the crowd wasn’t ready, so he pulled me back up on stage and told me to go again. This time it worked! I chilled on my pool float all the way to the back of the crowd and then they turned me around and I made it all the way back to the front. I didn’t even get dropped; I was nicely lowered down. Upon landing on my feet, I realized that one of my flip-flops was gone; I was sad, and not looking forward to the walk home, but before I could dwell on it any longer a boy found me, and handed me my flip-flop! Honestly, I love everybody here. They’re so cool – don’t make me leaveee. So yeah, that was my Strange Carnival experience. Clement also bought me a cupcake, which was just adding epicness to awesomeness. We left at lord knows what time, hiked back to Centre Ville, and I had a nice sleep. SAHWEET.

Nights I Can’t Remember, Friends I’ll Never Forget

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Bonjour bonjour bonjourrr!  Herro beautiful people. Hope all is going splendidly – lord knows I have exactly 0 complaints (well, actually… I wish my Toms didn’t smell as rancid as they did, but that can hardly count as a complaint).

So, where did I leave off? I think I talked about my Friday already, so Saturday is where we will begin. Woooo.

Saturday, September 29th: Slept in a little bit (aka like 10:00am, it’s hard to sleep in for me if I get drunk the night before which is LAMESAUCE), had some breakfast, and came to the conclusion that it was a lazy kind of Saturday – mostly due to the fact that it was nasty, rainy and repulsive outside. Ick. I can’t say I totally hated it though; I haven’t had a day to myself where I just chilled hard since I’ve gotten to Grenoble, so I guess it was long overdue. Madeleine came home for lunch and she made some popular Greek dish (it’s like Mussaka or something like that, and had lamb/beef/potatoes and vegetables in it… uber tasty), and then I spent about 3 hours going through my iTunes library and creating a “France” playlist… it’s 590 songs and is a mélange of dancey, chill, raging, and overall bizarre music that I am 100% in love with. Then I read a little bit, but decided I was still tired from this awesome lifestyle I’ve been living, so I broke in my playlist and took a little nap.

Afterwards I headed to MacDo (McDonald’s in French) to steal their wifi. The beautiful thing about this MacDo is that it is always busy; so I literally just walk in, not order anything (I mean, let’s be real, their food grosses me out unlike any other) and squat for as long as I desire. What did I do on the Internet, you ask? Buy freaking tickets to AMSTERDAM. Jealous? You should be. Nina and I are going October 18th-21st to visit one of her friends, plus we’re going to a concert to see Feed Me, Nero, and other fantastical dubstep artists. It’s going to be a raging good time, and we will be well acquainted with the coffee shops by the end of the weekend (haters, go on and judge/hate, but it’s legal and I mean… COME ON. It’s freaking Amsterdam. Yolo).  Needless to say I was souped beyond believe after my purchase. Eeeeee.

I’ve been outrageously hungry lately, so en route back to my apartment I stopped by Mezzo di Pasta and ordered myself some delectable gnocchi with vodka sauce (only my favorite pasta combo ever).

There was a group of French dudes who kept trying to converse with me, but I wasn’t in the social mood — plus I was trying to enjoy my gnocchi and set a new Sudoku record — so I glared at them with my headphones in until they stopped pestering me. Finally, I made it back home, where I started to get ready for the night, woo! Soon enough, Madeleine came home and we had some dinner (short term memory loss is kicking in and I can’t remember what it was. Zut), and then the night arrived.

Earlier in the week I stumbled upon a poster promoting a “rap battle” called The End Of The Weaknote to everyone: posters are one of the most effective ways (at least in Grenoble) to find out about events around town. I’ve been to so many fun things already because of my searching and taking pictures of every poster I come across.

Poster + Armband

Anyway, I met up with Nina, Emily, Preston, Maddie, Natasha, Evelyn and Ian at 20h30 at the tram stop, and from there we made our way to the “battle” – I put battle in air quotes because it wasn’t exactly a face-to-face battle, but rather a competition for local people who wanted to show off their freestyling/rapping skills. There was also an MC who is semi-famous and a DJ who hosted the event, along with a band (I was on the fence about them, probably because I was crashing by the end of the event) who played at the end. Also… there were break-dancers! Personally, I think break-dancers are an incredibly sexy breed (I mean, look at their abs), and these guys happened to be Italian. Yuuuup. The show in its entirety though was a really fun time; the winner was some guy whose name I can’t spell/remember, and a lot of the contestants (and hosts) were full of personality, and it was just entertaining watching them, despite the fact that I could only understand about 10% of the words that were being said. Dammit, not being fluent in French yet! In due time. The battle ended at 1h00, and we all were completely exhausted by the end of it all, a bed was a really nice place to end the night.

**If you haven’t yet, check out my last post with all the videos from the event to see what a French rap battle is like.**

Sunday, September 30th: Chilled around in bed for the majority of the morning, and then came to the realization that I actually had homework to do, darn. Shortly after I cracked open my books, Maddie texted me saying that her Nina, Natasha and Emily were at our lovely French Coffeeshop, so I moved my homework party to Centre Ville. I actually had less than anticipated (did I mention how much I LOVE how the work load over here is about 3847234098 times easier than last year?), and ended up getting ahead of schedule and doing my big homework assignment that is due on Thursday. Go me.

After a few hours, Maddie and I were starving for lunch, so the two of us plus Nina, Natasha, Emily and Max went in search of some good, cheap grub. It was a success (per usual); we found an amazing smoothie/sandwich/crepe/Panini shop called Naturel Delice, and of course I got one of those cards where at the 10th stamp you get a free item, #fatgirlproblems. My sandwich was bizarre in the best possible way: a sesame seed baguette with Brie, some other kind of cheese, apples, chicken, pickles, lettuce, peppers and a white cheese sauce – soooooo good.

Definitely going back, especially to suck down some fresh smoothies, nomnomnom. We ended up hanging out at Delice for a while; I played some music and it was a nice relaxing time. Eventually, we all parted ways and I went home for dinner (again, can’t remember what we ate… I need to start writing this down the night of regardless of whether or not I blog). I was still pretty exhausted from the weekend, so I was in bed and asleep before 20h45, old lady status. The boy ended up calling me at 22h00, but he awoke me from my deep slumber so I don’t think I was speaking coherently; he ended up just saying goodnight and I fell instantly back to sweet, sweet sleep.

Monday, OCTOBER (WHAT? When did it become October? NO MERCI) 1st: Class, mer^2. Slept until 9h00 and slowly got myself into the whole weekday-shwagu routine (psh…). I had class from 10h40 until 17h30 with some breaks, which sucks, but I trouped through and got it over with. The highlight of my school day was when Emily and I purchased tickets to IRELAND!! We’re going from November 15th-18th and it is going to be yet another amazing time. We’re staying with Emily’s friend Thursday night in Dublin, and then the three of us are going to a friend of a friend’s apartment in Galway and staying there until Saturday, where we will go back to Dublin and fly home on Sunday. This semester is cracking up to be one of epic proportions…

Moving on, the same people who hosted The End Of The Weak had an event starting at 18h00, and since I don’t have dinner until close to 20h00, I decided to go. Hannah and Max opted to join me, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it didn’t disappoint. First of all, there was free food and wine, so instantly it got a gold star. I happened to wind up drunk by the end of it, and considering we were only there for an hour, I crown myself champion of the boxed red wine (be jealous of the esteemed level of class). We ended up talking to this guy named Abba who was from Uganda but currently resides in Berlin (Hannah was excited to have someone to speak German with), who was a featured rapper in the event. Here he is in all his glory, along with friends.

He was a pretty cool dude, and definitely had some goals lined up for the future. I’m envious that he just plans on traveling for a shitton of years acquiring knowledge and making friends; I’m starting to think that I want to do the same thing… anyone else in?

Eventually, duty called and Abba had to go and rap with his fellow brethren, so I went and took a tour of the graffiti exposition (see the below video for the virtual tour), and listened to the medley of languages that these guys were rapping in – we heard Italian, French, English and German… gnarly.

Unfortunately the hour arrived where I had to go home to eat dinner, and we weren’t able to see the live graffiti painting. Oh well.

Saw this on the walk home. Not gonna lie, it made me giggle.

Also a walk home spot. Would you carry your child like this?

It was pretty comical going home and being decently drunk by 19h45; I definitely thought my French was way better than it actually was/my tongue was way looser, but Madeleine didn’t seem to notice (also, she wouldn’t care regardless), so it’s all good. After dinner was finished, Max and I decided to go back to the event and see what was going down. There were definitely more drunk people — the rapping got progressively worse — but it was a fun time regardless. By the time we got there, the “live graffiti” had already been finished, but I can’t really say that it looked like much. I took a picture, so feel free to judge for yourself… but to me it just seemed like some drunken sailor splatter painted everywhere, wahwahweewah. We didn’t end up staying too long (I had a test the next morning), so I still managed to get a nice sleep. Three cheers for combating the Monday blues!


Tuesday, October 2nd
: If there were an opposite of a Mecca, Tuesday’s would definitely be it… so long and drudging. So yeah, I was in class from 8h30 until 17h30 with some breaks, but my teachers/classmates decided to be amazing people, and it turns out my day wasn’t so bad after all.

First off, it was my Russian classmates birthday today (she turned 25), and my Australian classmate, being one of the sweetest boys to walk the planet I’ve now decided, bought her a freaking cake! Not just any cake either; it was a raspberry/mousse/chocolate cake from one of my favorite patisseries (Cordon Blue), and it tasted amazing. He also brought in candles and these cookies called Tim Tam’s (epic as well), and my professor was in on the plan and brought in all the necessary utensils along with orange juice.

How delicious does this look? RIIIIIGHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great way to end a Tuesday morning, if I do say so myself. We spent the last 10 minutes of our first period happily munching on delicious food and chugging fresh OJ, chyeahh. Have I mentioned I love France and never want to leave? As if the tasty sweets weren’t enough, in my translation class (which I now have decided I like), my professor saw me rip a gigantic yawn and gave us a much-needed break, plus more cookies! A run is in my near future after all the tasty treats I’ve been gorging on, that’s for sure.

Finalement, the end of the school day came to a close, and I took the tram home and hung out at Victor Hugo for a little bit to absorb to sun’s appealing rays. Due to having such a long day, I didn’t last very long, and soon enough found myself back home, got my homework over with, wrote some postcards, and had dinner with Madeleine. We had salad, cooked veggies, couscous and *GaSp* MEATBALLS – fhoasudhasodnas BLECH. If you don’t already know this, I detest meatballs. I think they are repulsive, icky balls of nasty that have a special place in hell reserved for them. It was here that I found myself in a predicament. Normally, I would slyly hide small fragments of the dreaded meat under other bits of food, but in France you’re supposed to clear your plate, zut. Not wanting to be rude, I squished a bite of ball between vegetables and couscous and just sucked it up. I can say with pride that I didn’t gag once; thank goodness she didn’t give a large helping. Sheesh, the price you pay for being polite! Post-disturbing dinner encounter, I wrote the majority of this blog, and went to bed at a reasonable hour. After all, the API weekend starts on Tuesday, (except I stayed in this Tuesday… my liver probably thanks me) so I’ve got to rest up for the fun that is sure to ensue!

Wednesday, October 3rd: Tis today! I had class from 8h30-10h20, then Nina and I went to the API office to let them know we are going to Amsterdam, and now we’re sitting in our regular Cafe doing homework and such. So far, so good! The weekend is slowly approaching and we have a ton of stuff planned, so get ready for even more stories! =)