Friday, August 29, 2014

Alba Adriatica - the sea!

I haven't posted in a while. School is starting back up and everything is busy - a good busy!

My time in Alba Adriatica, Abruzzo was fantastic. My friend, Angela, and I had a great time with my cousins... they are incredibly accommodating, generous, and fun to be around.

The very first thing that we did after arriving at the train station was to go to Christopher and Denis' pizzeria!! They told us that they were planning to open one when I was there last Christmas with my family... and they have... and it's great!

Denis and his dad, Vincenzo



The pizza is delicious! We went here a few times... sometimes just to hang out in the afternoon. The pizzeria is just a few blocks from Gina's house (where we stayed), so Gina would walk over with us and hang out for a while.

If you look at the sign for the pizzeria in the first photo above, you can see that half is a sunrise and the other half is a pizza. Alba (from the town's name, Alba Adriatica) means sunrise... and the town is located on the Adriatic Sea. They worked that into the pizzeria's name too, which I love. Christopher designed the sign.   : )

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

makin misshaps in Milan - whoops!

Sheesh. Seems that since returning to Milan a week ago, I'm extremely accident prone.

  • Arriving back to my apartment the first afternoon with luggage in tow, I tan over my big toe with a suitcase as I tried to squeeze everything through the door... the toe is still cut.
  • Making the bed with newly washed sheets, I stubbed my second toe (same foot) badly on the corner of the bed.
  • ...That toe is now completely red and purple, swollen, and does not want to bend.
  • Purchasing local honey from the town's fresh dairy vending machine for little gifts, I tried to buy 3 not realizing that there were only 2 left (...3 euro gift to the vending machine. D'Oh!)
  • My bicycle tipped over while filling water bottles at the park today and the chain came off.
  • ...Because of the chain on (off!) my bike, I slowly limped home... in the rain.

The good news?? --

Some pieces of me are hurt but nothing too bad!

I fixed the bicycle chain!! First time ever attempting that and I figured it out  : )

Tomorrow I leave Milan for a little beach vacation with a friend and a visit to my Italian cousins!

My cousins live in Alba Adriatica - within Abruzzo.
After 3 days with family on the beach, Angela and I will be heading to Verona for a couple nights - where I'll be on my 30th birthday!!
...After that... back to Milan to prepare for another school year at ASM.

A couple Google Maps screenshots of where we'll be. The red marker furthest west is Milan... to the east is Verona... and south is Alba Adriatica!

I hope that when I return to Milan (as a thirty year-old!), Milan will welcome me back kindly, safely, and accident-free. -- Here's to a great second year ahead!

Monday, August 11, 2014

making spreadable butter

While I was in Denver this summer, my brother Lenny was making his own spreadable butter. I just tried it myself and will definitely continue doing this! Basically... this easy step cuts about 3/4 of the cost of this food staple... instead of buying a tub of spreadable butter, I can now make my own from a couple sticks and some canola oil (although I didn't have canola... so I used a mixed seed oil).

I followed the recipe found here and plan on trying to mix in a couple herbs for a smaller batch soon. Mmmmhmmmmm!

Funny timing on seeing Lenny do this at his house - as I had a huge block of hard butter in my refrigerator that was always impossible to try and scrap away at to use. ....Problem solved.   : )

Thanks Len!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

QUINOA lovin

I picked up some quinoa at the grocery store the other day and am really happy with the recipe that I found online. This delicious and super healthy dish might just become a staple go-to of mine. My first time cooking quinoa -- success!

I mostly followed the recipe found here on but left out the red onion (simply because I didn't have one) and added in feta cheese. I love it!

When I have a small bowl of this, I cut up cucumber and avocado (like the recipe suggests) and also add more lime juice . Mmmmmhmmmmm.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

aaaand BOOKED!

I've been back in Milan for less than 4 days... and I just booked my flights home for Christmas and New Year's! Whoohoo!

I had a price alert set through and the price is right today. It feels good to know that I'll spend about 2 weeks in Rochester, New York at my parents' house for the holidays.

Upcoming travels before then? -->

   - possibly Cork, Ireland with my parents for a weekend!

   - Brussels and Waterloo, Belgium for a conference

   - Berlin, Germany with 10th graders for Field Trip Week

   - aaaand... not quite sure where for Thanksgiving - but fun to think of all the possibilities!


Shown on Google Maps:

Friday, August 8, 2014

empty Milan...

I went into the city this afternoon and really enjoyed it! So many people get out of the city in August to enjoy time by the sea... and although it is hot and humid here right now, it's not unbearably so. I really enjoyed walking through the city when it was not so crowded AND the shops are all having sales! Twice a year... now and around Christmas/New Year's time... the shops have big sales. More than the shopping, however, I wanted to pick up a few bagels while in the city - I've got my priorities! Haha

One of my goals for this upcoming school year is to make more of an effort to get to know the city. It's easy to not know the city very well since I live in Opera - a commune of the city of Milan. So far... feeling good about being back!

Below are some pictures that I took today...

Tram lines at Sabatino and Ripamonte:

I ran into the upper school's counselor and her two little girls along this stretch today!

I will never tire of seeing Milan's duomo

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Milano - I'm baaaack!

I arrived back to my apartment in Opera about 4.5 hours ago. Since then... I've done a good amount of unpacking, had a coffee while reading a book on the couch, rode my bike to buy fresh groceries, rode my bike to the park to get (free) frizzante water, and ran into a couple friends in town!

I read more than two novels during the traveling and, thankfully, had a free seat next to me on the long flight... so was able to catch some zzzz's.   : )

Turns out that a colleague's birthday is today and she's having a get-together this evening at her place, so hopefully I'll be awake enough to make it over there for a bit!

Milano -- I'm baaaack!

Monday, August 4, 2014

ciao-for-now Denver!

I begin heading back to Milan early tomorrow morning.

Living abroad has its gives and takes... and goodbyes are definitely a hard part. My last day at home in the States always feels extra emotional... and even scary. Part of beginning my adventure abroad when I moved to Vietnam three years ago was pushing past that fear though.

I'm not quite all packed yet. A few minutes ago I remembered some hanging clothes in the closet that I then attempted to shove into my carry-on suitcase, which is now sitting on top of the bed with the top of the suitcase sticking up diagonally because there's too much inside.

...Deciding to blog instead of dealing with that for the moment...

Arriving back in Milan, I will have the rest of the week ahead and then plan on traveling a bit with my friend Angela. I'm excited about that! I'm not excited to leave Denver... or to say goodbye to Koura-dog for another year. Give. And take.

Here's a photo from when my parents were in Denver for a few days and we all took an evening walk along the Cherry Creek Path... and then stopped by Sweet Action for ice cream!

And two nights ago Lenny and Lexey put together the 4th Annual Going Away Party for me at the house. It's always nice to have good company get together... and this year's was an ice cream cookie themed party! Niiiiiice cream  :P

Our cousin, Nick, is in town for work from Seattle so he was able to come too!


Below are some of my favorite photos taken during our time in Varenna... up on Lake Como!

Lovely day on the lake!

Views of lovely Varenna, taken from the ferry...

A castle in the clouds...

An all-time favorite of mine... I love the colors in the reflection!

Oh, Lake Como - I'll be back!

Lake Como is just a 40-minute train trip from Milan! ...Although it (also) takes me about an hour to get to the Centrale train station from my apartment  :P  For less than 10 euro... this is the perfect little getaway. I'll be back soon Lake Como!

Some final photos from my time on the lake with Ms. Julie:

Julie, as cute as can be... awaiting the landlord of the apartment in Bellagio:


enjoying Varenna on Lake Como

After spending a night in Bellagio, Julie and I took the ferry back to Varenna (the town where we originally got off the train). Varenna is a great little town as well. Julie and I found a lovely cafe and had breakfast with the water just in front of us... where we watched a couple swans and some ducks enjoying the morning.

We met up with my good friends Robert and Mary... and had a great lunch inside the yellow hotel shown below:

"We found them...!"

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bellagio FAVORITES with Julie

Below are my favorite photos from our overnight in Bellagio on Lake Como:

Julie and me... reflected...

Views of Bellagio on the lake:

Julie and Stacia take on Lake Como!

Enjoying time with a good friend that visited me in Italy!!  : )

On Lake Como with Bellagio in the background:

Saturday, August 2, 2014

wine cave - Bellagio

Julie and I had a late lunch at the little grotto in Bellagio... it's basically a cave of wine. I first went here during my orientation week to school after first arriving in Italy. (You can see that past post here.) We really enjoyed this small meal (and then had gelato for dinner later on. Ha!)

I think the name of this place is Enoteca Cava Turacciolo but I don't see a website for it to link to.

This kind of snacky meal is my kind of a meal. I ordered a mix of cheeses and salamis/meats... which comes with bread and honey. Yes, please! I also like this place because it's like a library of wine.   : )

Legs of meat up above...

Mmmmm cheeses, salami and meats, aaaand honey!

Yeah! Julie had a lovely cheese plate and a fish spread...