Monday, February 29, 2016

Roxie and Koura together in Florida

I was very much looking forward to witnessing Koura (my brother's dog) and Roxanne (my parents' dog) meeting for the first time! Lenny and his wife, Lexey, drove from Denver so that they could bring Koura with them. She got to swim in the ocean for the first time!

Roxanne loves going down to Florida with my parents. I'm really glad that she was able to make it down there one more time before passing... at SIXTEEN years old! What a happy, lucky girl she ended being -- having my parents adopt her from a shelter at 3 years old.

Going for a walk with all of the girls  : )

Koura and her beer

Cutie pie, Roxanne

Koura's new present! Bahahaha

Koura is worn out from all of this Christmas morning shenanigans!

Mom and Lenny both went outside... and the girls are WORRIED!
Aaaaand probably wondering why they aren't outside with them!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Villages, Florida

We used to take trips to The Villages to see my grandparents almost once a year while I was growing up. I love being down there. Their house is on a small lake and you can drive the golf cart all over town. There are even miniature parking spaces at the grocery store, specifically for golf carts!

I really like these first two photos below as a set:

A festive Rudolph flamingo!

Our favorite spot for freshly squeezed orange juice! Expensive but woooorth it.

Sean was able to rig up the lighted Christmas tree at the end of the dock, just like our grandpa used to do it! The tree looked great at night. We could even see it from the other side of the lake when we would drive over to the square each evening.

My dad and I were reading one morning and this happened: 

Gorgeous!! It was really nice to be in Florida with family. The weather was great. We even got up to the pool a couple times. ...Soon enough, I hope to be back again!

Family in Florida

It was so nice to be home in the States with family for the winter holidays. Especially after recently deciding to leave Italy at the end of the school year and head back to the States, in a big part -- to be near family. It was great to have all of those feeling re-affirm.

Lenny and Lexey are taking part in the "golf cart community."

There are multiple squares in The Villages and they each have live music every night for four hours! We were able to see a couple of their favorite groups play throughout the week. (Truthfully, I would sit and work on Sudoku puzzles some of the time. Hehe.)
Mom and Dad dancing at the square. 

We went to my Great Aunt Fran's new house! She was all set with plenty of homemade Italian holiday cookies.  : )  Mmmhmmmmm! The Pizzelles (bottom left) are my favorite!!

My mom got my brother, Sean, and I outside to play tennis a bit one day. It was fun to get outside and hit the ball back and forth a bit.

Mom and Sean

Can you see where the ball is in the air below? (HA!)

Mom and Dad  <3

We took a golf cart ride to a pond to watch the sunset one evening.
Sean, Mom, Lenny, Dad, Lexey, me!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Winter Break - arriving home in the States

It was GREAT to go home to the States for the winter holidays! We had a full 3 weeks off from school because of the way an Italian holiday fell right after the New Year. Yeah!

My parents have been enjoying a few months at The Villages in Florida, so we all met there for Christmas. My mom and her siblings have kept my grandparents' house, which I'm really thankful for.

I love this photo of ice crystals on the plane's window:

Grandma and Grandpa's house  : )

I woke up around 4:00am my first day (...noon by Milan time!). I made coffee in my grandma's personalized mug with the lovely pumpkin chai concentrate that my mom made for me.  : )
(Note: I'm wearing my grandma's robe, as my luggage didn't make it with me upon arrival... more on this with the last photo below...)

I love cuddle time with Roxanne!! Sadly, Roxie has since passed. She lived to an amazing 16 years old!! What a sweetheart.

Ahhhh, this view. What a breath of fresh air (literally).
This is the backyard. Ummmm -- yes, please!

Haha. Nice Dad.
Coffee trip by golf cart!

THIS is NOT my suitcase. (More below...)

I was able to get on an earlier flight from Newark to Orlando, which was GREAT! BUT... my suitcase ended up not making it with me. We were told that the suitcase could be delivered the next morning. Wonderful!

6am the next morning a bag was delivered. ...Not my bag. Ha! Oh sheesh.

The driver swung back around to collect this bag and try again. My bag did make it later. Thankfully!

Funny enough, I was in a jet lagged fog and my mom had woken up from the picture text message of the bag delivered outside the front door... we were both apparently quite confused. My mom said that my bag arrived and handed me this suitcase. I didn't really know what she meant since I knew that this was not my bag (the one I was waiting for). I thought maybe she meant it was an old bag of mine... I just put it aside.

Not even sure what I thought the bag was or what I was going to do with it. My mom was surprised that I wasn't more excited that my suitcase had arrived! Ha!

Later, once we both woke up more, I realized that she thought it was the bag I was waiting for... and that this random suitcase had actually been delivered to the house instead of mine. She had been confused about my lack of response but had gone back to bed for a bit.

All-in-all, we had a good laugh over that and my suitcase full of holiday presents showed up! All was good  : )

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cooking in Milan

A couple weekends ago, I partook in an Italian cooking class. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would AND I had already heard great things from colleagues of mine that have done this same cooking class!

I took one of the Market Tour cooking classes with Cook in Milan. Clara is an Italian woman that began this business in her home around the time that I moved to Milan over two years ago. She is well-organized and a good manager, so that the participants get to take part in cooking as well as it being easy, productive, and fun. I am not a proficient cook but Clara put me in charge of the bechamel sauce for the lasagna and it turned out alright!

We began the morning in a local market to pick up cheeses and fresh produce for the menu ahead:

Clara explained the multi-course menu ahead in her living room:

I love an Italian kitchen! It is usually small, cozy, and packed with all the utensils needed.

The day's group included people from Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States!

Clara and I each enjoyed a bubbly drink during a quick aperitivo while the pie cooled before our meal. Italians do it well!

We made two primi dishes (yes!). One was lasagna di zucca -- lasagna with squash. The other was risotto al radicchio -- risotto with chicory. For the secondi, we had a lentil and meat dish (not pictured).

My new favorite is chestnut jam! I had never heard of it before the day at Clara's but now I have 3 jars in the cupboard  :P  We made a crostata di castagne -- sweet chestnut pie. I haven't liked roasted chestnuts when I've tried them in the past but this jam is smooth, sweet, aaaand delicious.

I was supposed to go to this cooking class over the summer with my mom and aunt but there was a glitch in the website's registration system. The system charged my aunt's credit card but did not actually reserve any spots for the day. D'Oh! Clara was very nice and apologetic but we were not able to fit into the cooking class during their time in Italy. That was a bummer. The fee was refunded to my aunt and Clara gifted one free class. My aunt then gifted the free class to me as a birthday gift!! Super sweet of her. I was excited to experience the cooking class BUT... the entire time, I was thinking about how much fun it would have been to do it together, the 3 of us. My mom and aunt would have loved it. (Maybe in the future!) Overall, if you decide to sign up for one of Clara's classes (I completely recommend doing so if you're in Milan!), I would follow up with her to make sure the registration went through on her end.

Friday, February 5, 2016


Hello Everyone,

It's been much too long since I've posted on here. Working on my blog has been on my to-do lists every weekend since returning to Milan after the winter holiday a month ago. I just finished an extra-busy week at school, hosting Garth Stein (best-selling author of the novels The Art of Racing in the Rain and A Sudden Light)... but I also just hadn't figured out how I wanted to write/say this... so I'm just going to put it out there now:


--to Rochester, New York, that is.

My contract here ends this June and I've decided that it's time to get back to the States and be near friends and family. I'm excited about that : )

There are definitely many different emotions all mixed together in this decision but it just feels right. So I'm going with that.

I currently have a job that I love and where I am supported. Part of me thinks I might be crazy to leave this.

I also love living in ITALY!

For the past five years, I have been lucky enough to travel the world and, really, only have to worry about myself.

With that, though, I've been very far from my family and friends. I've met incredible people while living abroad and want to continue traveling to see them, visit, and catch up...

But I'm very ready to not feel so alone anymore. I'm trying to not have many expectations for my return to the States but I do hope that this piece changes. I've been on my own for the past five years and am ready to be HOME.

Five more months to enjoy here... and then new adventures!  : )