Lacking inspiration…

17 Dec

Ah, exam week. The time when the amount of people in the library is equivalent to the amount of people in church on Christmas or Easter. A time when drinking 6 cups of coffee is perfectly acceptable, or when it’s cooler to look like you rolled out of bed than it is to use a hairbrush. Here’s to a realization that as a senior, this is my second to last exam week….ever. Weird? Perhaps, but I’m not necessarily complaining. Here are a few things that kept me entertained when studying fell short.

1. Pinterest. Seriously, why didn’t I think of something as amazing as Pinterest? This is studying’s WORST nightmare and my best friend. I love looking through all of the beautiful photos as well as making plans in my head to recreate all of the DIY’s. When I actually get off of Pinterest and find the time…

2. Job Searching. Graduation is quickly approaching…dun dun dun. This past week I’ve found that I’ve been focusing on the road ahead and have actually started looking for jobs. So far, I haven’t found anything. But hey, I’m staying optimistic! Maybe…

3. Online Shopping. Well, here it is. The Christmas season. And now that I actually have a job that allows me to purchase gifts for people, I’ve been doing just that. One thing is for sure, my loved ones will not be receiving hand-made cards this year (a.k.a. I don’t have any money and I’m too cheap to buy a card at the store). I always went by the saying, “It’s the thought that counts,” and after years of my mom joking with me saying “you could have had a bigger thought,” I’ve finally moved up in the gift-giving world. Mom, you won’t be disappointed.

So thank you exam week, for making me feel more productive in all other aspects of my life. I couldn’t have done it without you.

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Friday Faves (Procrastination of the Monday Mentionables)

15 Dec

Here is my procrastination at its finest. This post was supposed to be published after my birthday….which, mind you, was August 15th. Better late than never, right? Anyway, here it is:

This past Monday, I turned the big 2-1. After months and months of waiting, I finally have a seat at the big kid table. Since it was my birthday, My Monday Mentionables, currently Friday Faves, are birthday gift inspired.

1. A Segway tour through Eden Park

I loved every minute of the two hour tour and I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to explore Cincy in a refreshing way. Even as a native Cincinnatian, I saw parts of Eden Park I never even knew were there, all from the comforts of a Segway. Our neon vests and shiny, blue helmets definitely made us stick out like sore thumbs, but spend more than 5 minutes on a Segway and you’ll wish you had one.

2. Oh, Lola! by Marc Jacobs

This light, refreshing and florally scent is pretty and not overwhelming like many perfumes can be.

3. Jeff Ruby’s Steak House

Need I say more?

4. Lush

I was first introduced to the wonderful world of Lush by by cousin, Michael, who decided it would make a lovely Christmas gift last year. Ever since, I’ve been hooked. I love that each product is handmade and unique from the next. Not to mention, my skin always feels AMAZING after use. Who said being a lush was a bad thing?

My Monday Mentionables

8 Aug

Let’s face it, it’s Monday. Your alarm clock rudely awakes you as you drag yourself out of bed and robotically pull on your clothes. You rub your eyes, stumble to the kitchen, still drunk with sleep to grab a banana as your rush out the door. At work or in class, you proceed to drink endless amounts of coffee as the clock slowly ticks away. This is the part where you remind yourself why you hate Mondays so much.  But Mondays don’t always have to be the evil villan in our lives.

Here are 5 things I’ve found today that make my Mondays something to live for, or in a less dramatic sense–more bearable.

1. Bon Iver’s Latest Self-Titled Album

I love hearing the melodic folk sounds of Bon Iver streaming through my stereo any time of the day. Justin Vernon’s rich and distinctive voice provides me with the perfect Monday morning pick-me-up. My favorite tracks are Beth/Rest, Calgary, Michigant and Halocene. All are equally beautiful–It’s too difficult to pick just one.

2. Driving With the Windows Down

It’s a simple activity, but there is just something about driving with the windows down as the wind blows through my hair. Sounds cheesy right? If you prefer the more practical route, the fresh, cool air in the mornings is enough to wake you up on your commute to work or school (Just be careful not to yawn too much unless you want some critters flying in your mouth). To take it a step further, hang your arm out the window like you did when you were little and move it up and down against the wind. No one is judging you.

3. mark. Glowdacious Illuminating Powder

I have fair skin, and even though I just got back from vacation and have a nice tan (finally), for all the other times when I don’t, this gives me a little color on my cheeks with some added shimmer. It’s perfect for summer and for just $12, my wallet likes it too. You can get yours here. *Comes in 3 shades.

4. Cold, Fruity Popsicles

Do I need an explanation?

5. A Trip to Plato’s Closet

“Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That’s my motto for today. Plato’s Closet is my go-to when I’m I’m short on cash. I purchased an entire outfit for just $14 (half of the items still had the tags on). What’s great about Plato’s is they pay you cash on the spot for your gently-used clothing. Sometimes I go in there, sell some clothes, buy an outfit and still leave with more money in my wallet than I had walking in. Now seriously, can you beat that?

Make YOUR mark. on Cancer!

16 Jul

After my Nonno died from cancer when I was a senior in high school, my life drastically changed. I was sad, angry, confused and I felt helpless. I watched this horrible disease suck the life out of someone I cared so much about. They say time heals all wounds, but I miss him every day. If you have lost a loved one to this disease, I’m sure you can understand how devastating the loss can be.

Recently, WCPO Channel 9 posted an article about a local pharmaceutical company making huge strides in cancer research. This inspired me to take action and contribute to finding a cure once and for all.

If you’re reading this, you probably

saw the event I am hosting online. Many of you may not be familiar with the brand mark., and that’s okay. Mark., a division of Avon, is an up-and-coming trendy fashion and beauty line. The products are amazing, affordable and extremely versatile. Mark. has been featured in magazines such as: Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, InStyle and many more.

I decided this time to try something new and host a party online–that way there are no limitations. You can browse whenever you want from the comfort of your own home. It’s a simple and efficient way that YOU can make a difference. Girls, whether you are looking for something for yourself (and guys, mark. makes great gifts for moms and girlfriends!) or someone else, you will LOVE mark. and I hope you will love knowing that with your purchase, 30% of the total will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

As an extra incentive, there will be a grand prize raffle drawing at the end of the event. With any purchase, it doesn’t matter how big or small, one lucky buyer will win THE ULTIMATE SUMMER DEAL ($76.50 worth of product featured below).

The link below is the event page which has detailed information about the time of the event, photos of products and a link to my online store–please tell your friends about this event. The more participants, the better! Together, we can mark. cancer out of people’s lives for good!

http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=173430919390632

Random, Roman Reflections

22 Jun

At 7:30 a.m. this morning, I awoke to my alarm clock. My instincts and longing desire to sleep in led me to hit the snooze button a couple times before climbing out of bed. Today was the day where we would venture to the Vatican to be part of the papal audience.

After eating breakfast and taking a shot of espresso, I was able to take on the morning. Bridget, Katie, Kelsey, Andrew and I took the bus to Ottaviano and walked about 10 minutes to the Vatican entrance. Along the way we were attacked by solicitors, advertising tours at the Vatican. I noted a funny observation today. No matter where I go with a group of people, Italians just know we’re American. I must have a giant stamp on my forehead that says “speak to me in English.” Is it the fact that we travel in larger groups like freshman traveling to a campus party? Do we dress differently? Or maybe it’s because we have some blondes in our group. Regardless, they have a 6th sense of picking us out no matter where we are.

When we got there, we took on the sweltering heat, stood on our tiptoes and held our cameras in the air, hoping we would snap a shot of the Pope riding around in his little Pope Mobile. When he came around, I saw him through the crowd, wearing a red hat, smiling and waving to his attentive and excited audience. Because of the heat, we didn’t stay long. But we listened to him talk for a while.

After leaving the Vatican, we walked around Rome browsing different stores and picking through the clothes at the markets. We took the bus back and Bridget, Katie and I walked down to OVS, which is their main department store here. All three of us bought a dress (which I probably didn’t need) and then we walked back.

Half of the group (the Italian class and Education class) went to Bologna for the next three days. Those who stayed behind are getting treated to a nice dinner tonight courtesy of Mother Xavier. Not having to buy dinner tonight makes up for my new dress, I suppose. Or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

That’s all for now. Ciao 🙂

 

I’m still alive, I promise!

20 Jun

Ciao everyone. I know it’s been a while, but now that my art class in finito, I will actually have time in the day to update. This past weekend, my friends and I (Natalie, JR, Sami, Becca, Sarah, Stephanie and Morgan) took the train and headed to Auola, which is 15 minutes outside of Cinque Terre. When we got to the train station, we had a moment of panic when Sarah and I went off to information to find out which train was ours. When we had returned to the spot we left, everyone had gone (in search of us, of course). Without cell phones, we trusted our instincts, did what they did in the old days and stopped and asked passersby for help. When we found our train (which was in front of us the whole time), we boarded and hoped everyone else did too. Sarah and I walked through all the cars and murmured”scuzi” to those blocking the aisle ways. We still weren’t sure if it was the right train until we met 3 nice British girls, on their way to Cane (Cane, really??) who assured us we were on the right train. Sarah and I then proceeded to our cars. I was in 7 and she was in 6. When I got to my car, I heard my name and FINALLY, I had found my friends. That stressful part of the day had come to a close. I hadn’t felt that way since I lost my mom in Walmart when I was little.

With all the stress aside, the train ride was pleasant. The 6 of us had our own little compartment and spent the 4 hours (we took the slow train to save money) talking, listening to music and playing “celebrity.” And then…..we arrived!

Auola was beautiful. Not to mention, in the middle of nowhere. Quite different from the hustle and bustle of Roman life. We had no idea where our hotel was, but because we all were nice, attractive, American girls, we got a free cab ride to our destination. He dropped us off at the bottom of the mountain and told us it was about a kilometer to our hotel. So, with luggage in hand, we began the trek. We walked, and walked, and complained, and dragged our suitcases almost 2 miles up the mountain. Did this hotel really exist? ONLY a kilometer? There were no signs of civilization and I was half expecting a bear to waddle out of the woods. And then I realized I forgot how to survive if encountered with a bear. But all of that aside, we kept walking..and walking. We stopped and talked to this Italian mother and daughter on our way up. And even though there was a language barrier, we had a great conversation. After chatting with them, we continued on, and it wasn’t until a man from Holland drove by and asked us if he could drive our luggage up (I was not about to put my luggage in a strange mans car) that we were finally saved. He told one of the hotel owners we were walking and she drove down in her nice car to take us up in 2 trips. Our hotel was by no means 1 kilometer up the mountain. According to her, it was about 5. We were not even halfway.

But when we got there, it was totally worth it. Our hotel was perched at the top of the mountain. It made me want to burst out singing “The hills are aliiiiiiiiive, with the sound of music.” I didn’t, of course. We had nice rooms, nice neighbors from England, a nice swimming pool and an amazing view. All for 36 euro for 2 nights. Can’t beat that in the States. That night we bought pasta and sauce in the main room downstairs and made a delicious pasta dinner for all 8 of us. It was the perfect way to end our night there.

The next morning, we headed to Cinque Terre for the day and everything went smoothly, aside from the weather. We started out our day lying on the rocky beach and people watching. After about 2 hours there, we decided to walk around and see the islands. Some of us jumped into the ocean for a quick dip. Stephanie lost her dress when it floated off into some cave and most of those who jumped in lost to the barnacles on the rocks. Toes were cut up and knees were scraped. It was a good thing I brought my first aid kit! After everyone changed, we headed off in search of pesto (created on Cinque Terre and the best around) and seafood. We took the train to another island and found the best meal I have had on this trip. I had spaghetti con vonglua (spaghetti with clams) in garlic and oil and I was in heaven. There was silence at the table as everyone was chewing. That’s when you know the food is good. After dinner, we headed back to Auola for another night of talking and playing “celebrity.” Day 2 had come to a close.

In the morning, we took a cab back to the train station and headed to Pisa for lunch to see the leaning tower before heading home to Rome. We ate lunch in Pisa which I spent way too much on, but it was delicious and I topped it off with gelato afterwards. We hurried to the leaning tower with limited time before our train left, snapped a few pictures and headed back to the train station. JR, Sami and I spent the extra 18 euro (42 euro) to take the fast train back while the others spent 18 euro for the slow train with no seats. Spending the extra money was totally worth it. We got back earlier, it was a pleasant ride and I was able to sit comfortably by the window. Perfect. When we got back in Rome we headed to dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant here, Zen Garden for a very cheap and very delicious dinner. It was the great way to end the weekend.

Welcome to Florence, Ya’ll

6 Jun

Friday

This past weekend, we loaded up the vans and began our journey to Florence. The bus was jam-packed with everyone in the group and I was sandwiched in the backseat, uncomfortable, sweating and claustrophobic. Not a good combination for a 4 hour bus ride, but I was in it for the destination. Our professors were raving about how the bus had air conditioning. But if air conditioning is the equivalent to blowing hot air out of a drinking straw, then clearly I have been missing something. Two hours into the ride of doom, we stopped at a rest stop to get cappuccino and something to eat. Finally, we could stretch our legs! Things were especially looking up when I by mistake, received a free orange juice.

After downing my cappuccino and orange juice (not the best idea), we all hopped back on the bus and pressed on. We drove through the beautiful countryside of Tuscany. One of these days I hope to visit there. I’ve always seen pictures of the vast fields of sunflowers and it would be amazing to experience it in person.

And then, four hours later we finally made it. We received our roommate assignments, and took our luggage to our rooms to unpack and freshen up before we gathered for our art class. Suzanne (our art teacher), does not mess around. For someone who is about to be turning 50, she is in better shape than all of us combined. She walked us all over the city. We visited museum after museum after church until finally, we saw the greatest piece of art work in all of Florence, and maybe even Italy…The David. I am not, by any means, an art buff, but once I saw him, I had one of those artsy moments. An artsy moment, in my opinion, is when you literally stare at a piece of art for over 10 minutes, putting your hand to your chin and pointing and occasionally walking around it, . That was me.  It was the most beautiful sight I had seen in a while. From the time I was in grade school, I always saw pictures of the statue, but what I had pictured was completely different in person. Once you turn the corner to enter a different room of the museum, there he is at the end of the hallway, 18 ft tall, glowing and gorgeous. If he was a real man, girls would definitely be taking numbers.

After art class, we walked around the city for a little bit. Some of the girls went their separate ways to go shopping, but some of my friends and I yearned for more. We decided to climb the Duomo. The Duomo is this gorgeous church in the heart of the city and for 8 euro, you can climb it, all 500 steps of it. Definitely would not recommend for those who just scarfed down gelato in under 5 minutes while waiting in line (me) or those who are extremely claustrophobic in tight spaces. But all of that aside, it was the greatest experience. For those of you who ever travel to Florence in your lifetime, you MUST do it. The view is incredible.

A group of us on top of the Duomo after conquering Florence.

After climbing the Duomo, we wandered around Florence, in search of a local bar for some cold beer. We made a pit stop at the ATM, and to our surpise, the cast of Jersey Shore (Pauly D, Deena, and J Woww) walked past us. So of course, being the typical American reality show fans, we did what anyone else would do. We followed them, cameras in hand. Let me just say, the TV does not give them their orange appearance, they really are that color. That was a nice little encounter to end our extremely eventful day. We stopped at a little supermarket for some Peroni and snacks and headed back to our hotel.

For dinner we gathered at a local pizza place and I got my usual, the Caprese sandwich. Seriously, I have a problem. After dinner, we stopped by a little stand and bought a bottle of wine. We made our way to the rooftop of our hotel to join other people in our group sharing in wine and star gazing. It was a great first night in Florence.

Saturday

Saturday morning, after a restful nights sleep, I woke up bright and early to eat a delicious breakfast and head out for art class. Saturday’s art class was definitely not as eventful. In fact, it consisted of me almost falling asleep standing up. Have to say, I did not have one artsy moment on Saturday. After being at one museum for 3 hours, and after having previously been at another one for 2, our day of class was finally over and we were able to experience Florence. The shopping that is. Mom, if you are reading this, I really can’t wait to give you your gift. You will die. With that being said, I’m not going to say exactly what I bought because it would totally give it away. Let’s just say money was spent and the damage was done. But it was so worth it.

That night we all dressed up and headed to a restaurant for the most amazing meal. It fed me for days. The singing waiter brought us eggplant, cheeses, caprese salad, toasted bread with white beans and tomato paste..and those were just the appetizers. For the main course we stuffed ourselves with 3 different kinds of pasta–ravioli, pesto pasta and penne with a spicy tomato sauce. I of course, was stuffed but not enough to not eat my tiramisu. The wine was flowing, waiters were singing and banging on pots and pans, we popped the champagne and everyone was having a great time. It was an amazing last night in Florence.