Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 16th

Started the morning with a run at 8 and it was chilly but nice. I got really nauseous on the run and I think that I am going to have to give up on morning runs. The past few that I have gone on end up with me not feeling very well and I don’t think that it is worth it especially if I am able to run in the afternoon with no problem. I enjoy running, but with me not having a goal to work towards, I will admit, it has kind of fallen to the back burner. There is still plenty of walking that is going on so I am still getting exercise, just not as much as I was before. I came back, had the rest of my yogurt and jelly, had some coffee, and got ready for church.

The Padre of San Carlo came up to me and asked if I would like to do a reading and as I responded in Italian, his smile slowly faded as he realized I am not very good at speaking Italian. He smiled, mumbled something, and then walked away. It would have been cool to say that I had done a reading, but I think it was in the best interest of everyone that I did not. Mass was good and went by quickly then Courtney and I went to the super market because we were out of food. I bought fun cheese and wine for the first time and I am excited to try them. Courtney and I have decided to do a chicken and pineapple fried rice, very Italian, so we split up the ingredients and purchased what we needed to.
Lunch was goat cheese, salami, and arugula sandwich that I tried the other day at the panino shop. It was delicious! The cheese wasn’t goat cheese, it was far less pungent, but it still tasted very good. I am happy with my fun cheese purchase.

I spent the rest of the afternoon doing homework and preparing dinner. I cooked the chicken and then chopped onions and garlic. For dinner, we mad the fried rice with chicken, pineapple, onion, garlic, and rice. It was really good and we will have enough leftovers for part of the week.
I finished the night with putting the finishing touches on my projects due Monday and went to bed rather late. Maybe one day I will learn to not procrastinate.

Con amore, Ciao!

October 15th

Woke up and knew that today would have to be a homework day, all day. So that is what I did! I spent all morning bouncing around through project and through studying for different tests and it was a very long, slow moving day.

For dinner, Court and I went to Zaza's which is by far the best restaurant we have been to here in Florence. The food, the staff, the atmosphere, everything. We went with her work out buddies, Sarah and Amanda and they are extremely nice girls and we will most definitely be getting together with them again for dinner after the fall break. I had fettuccine noodles with a wild boar sauce! It was so good. Now I know why my wine teacher always says that it tastes good with just about every wine we try in class. It is so good and I want to get it again but everything on their menu looks good so I don't know if I should get it again or try something new! I will probably try something new though, when I take Chris. We got some wine and split a bottle between three of the girls.

On the way home we got some hot chocolate! My first Italian hot chocolate and it was SO rich. It tasted like they literally just melted a chocolate bar into a cup and called it a day. It was very good but I don't know if I will get it again. I love chocolate, but not that much, so I might try an espresso next time or maybe later this week in the morning.

We got back home and hung out with Ellen and Miriam a little bit before doing more homework. They went to the Perugia chocolate festival for the day and their pictures look amazing.

I read a little bit more of my book and I am almost to the end, only about 100 more pages! Looks like I will be able to add that to the list of things I am giving to chris to bring home with him for me.

Con amore, Ciao!

Friday, October 14, 2011

October 14th

Finally all caught up!

Today was a very rushed morning. I set my alarm for 7 but didn't wake up until Courtney thankfully woke me up at 8. I didn't even hear my alarm go off and so I am so thankful that she had to be up early this morning as well. I raced around a little and didn't have time for a cup of coffee so that was a little bit of a bummer but it was my own fault.

Courtney and I went by a fruit stand on our way to the Piazza where we were both meeting for our different trips that we had today. She was going to Pisa and Lucca and I was going with my wine class to a vineyard in Chianti.

There are only about 8 girls in my class and so it is a very nice sized group to go and do these trips with. This is our first of five and it was amazing. We went to a vineyard in Chianti that is called Castillo di Gabbiano and it was so interesting! The castle that lies on the estate was built in 1256. Personally, I thought it was so cool that I was in a building that was built before our country was even discovered by Christopher Columbus. We toured my future villa and then went down into the wine cellar to see the big oak barrels and it was really cool. There were several barrels that were about twice the size of me height wise and then about 7 ft wide. It was a beautiful wood and it was just really interesting.

We toured some of the grounds and then went in to taste the wines. We tasted three different red wines and they were beyond good. They had an amazing flavor and it was really interesting to be able to taste the oak so fresh in the wine. We also had the chance to taste their olive oil and their two different varieties of balsamic vinegar. All three were so good. I wish I had bought a bottle of it and had it until the rest of the semester. I will remember next time to buy some. I still have a lot of olive oil from the first bottle I purchased, but I think it would be worth it to buy some from a vineyard that I have been to and then of course save the bottle.

We had a good bus ride home and it is really nice that all of us girls are able to chat with one another. I think it helps because there are only a few of us, but still, it is nice. We went to the San Lorenzo market, and get ready for it, I tried a panino con lompredotto. What is that? Well before you type it into google translate, it is a sandwich with cow's stomach. It was honestly not too bad! It tasted like corned beef but it had a LOT of fat on it. The stomach has a thicker layer of fat around the outside and then the actual meat of it is a thin layer. They put a garlic parsley salsa on it so that made it taste way better I am assuming. It was an interesting sandwich and I can say that I did it, but I will not be getting another one. Just the amount of fat that was on the sandwich was hard for me to enjoy.

After the sandwich I went to one of the school building to do a bunch of printing that I need to do for things due next week. While I was printing, I got a HUGE headache. I quickly finished printing and went back to the apartment to take a nap. I took a two hour nap and still had the headache when I woke up. I wanted to keep sleeping but I didnt want to run the risk of not sleeping tonight

I started to upload pictures on facebook that I have been putting off and did a little blogging until Courtney came home. We made a dinner of sauteed eggplant, mushrooms, red and yellow bell pepper in a red wine. I had mine over pasta and Court had hers just in a big bowl. It was delicious! I decided that for this week I am going to make something out of the cookbook, tbd what that is, but I will figure that out tomorrow.

I finished the night off with adding long overdue pictures to facebook and catching up on my blog. I am excited to get this headache gone!

Con amore, Ciao!

October 13th

I woke up and started my day like a normal Thursday with laundry and breakfast. I had some homework left to do before my appointment with my mom at two so I decided to go to the Piazza Signorina and finish my homework. It was wonderful. I listened to the guitar player and it was so romantic. I talked with a few local Italians who asked what I was doing and it was very nice. The Italians are so friendly and I really enjoy when they come and talk with me. It helps that I am on the outgoing side and sometimes start to talk to them. They can tell right away that I dont speak Italian so they are patient with me when I am trying to converse.

I came back and the very last of my chicken dish for lunch. I stretched that meal out way too long and so I am glad to say that it was the last of it. I skyped with my mom and tried to figure out my final tuition payments for this semester but was unsuccessful. For some reason, the system wasn't accepting out routing number and kept telling me that the information was invalid. I was a little nervous but it was ok because we had until this Saturday to make the payment.

For Italian class, we went on a field trip to a bakery to order bagels. It turns out it was closed so we went to a famous gelato shop here in town that I have never been to before. It was SO good. I got cheesecake and coffee crunch and I seriously wanted to get seconds. The cheesecake gave some competition to the flavor from Lugano and so I am very excited to have found a local place. One of the best parts? The gelataria is only two blocks away from my apartment. I also got coffee crunch which was delicious and I think I might get some again tomorrow. Maybe try a different flavor, but definitely go to the same place. Perché no? Funny, because that is the name of the gelataria.

I skyped with Danae for a little bit and then went to the Piazza to listen again to the guitar players while I read and did homework. While I was there, I met the sweetest old man. We talked for about a half an hour about his life and all of the different things he has done. He was very, very interesting and sweet.

After reading and chatting, I went to dinner with my roommates to a chinese food restaurant. It was SO good and as good as chinese food in the states. I loved it. My dish was basically lo mein with seafood and it wasn't oily or anything, just perfect and hit my craving. Also, the fact that it was 7 euro doesn't hurt either.

We came back to the apartment and I finished my first paper that is due on Monday. I still have a few things more to do for Monday's midterms, but I will be productive this weekend and make sure to get everything done on time!

Chianti tomorrow!

Con amore, Ciao!

October 12th

Woke up and I figured that there had to be something I could do to my yogurt and cornflakes better so I reached into the fridge and pulled out the strawberry jelly and it was as though angels started singing. It is delicious and I am proud of myself for thinking of it.

I went to wine class and we reviewed for the midterm that is next week and learned a little bit about the wines of Southern Italy. I came home and had a nap because I was in need of one after class. I woke up and had some lunch of my chicken dish, almost done with it, and did some home work.

Last night I got an email from the school asking me to come and represent the School of Interior Design that is here at FUA. They are teaming up with University of South Florida and wanted to have a student representative for each of the schools at FUA. The department head for the ID, Architecture, and Environmental Studies thought I would make a great candiate and I was so honored. So I went to the meeting and all it was was me introducing myself and saying where I was from, but my resume doesn't have to say that , does it? Just kidding.

I came home and had dinner while skyping my dad who was eating brunch. The time difference is still something that I am not used to yet, maybe give me one more week? Probably not. I finished the evening reading and doing some homework. Later in the evening, Miriam and Ellen opened a bottle of wine and asked us to share so we did. It was a great bonding experience and us girls get along really great. I don't think I could have been asked for better debutant roommates. Yeah, they were debutantes, and how cool do I think that is? Very.

Con amore, Ciao!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 11th

I woke up early because I wanted to make sure to get a lot of homework done before my revit class. I had some coffee and worked for a long time on my revit project. I had literally no food left in the apartment so I race to the grocery store and picked up a few items that would get me through the rest of the week because I still had my chicken dish left over from the previous week.

I raced home and put my groceries away and went to a little sandwich shop on the way to class. I got a little panino that had goat cheese, prosciutto, and arugula. OH! It was so good. It was very inexpensive too so I plan on going back many, many more times. I will try different thing on the menu, but hopefully they will all be just as good as the first. 

Revit class was very helpful and we got a lot done. It is really nice that we are progressing so far into the program because it is really calming a lot of my nerves from what I felt before. I came home after class and had some yogurt with my cornflakes. I used the yogurt as milk and because it was PLAIN yogurt and PLAIN cornflakes, it tasted SO nasty. I will have to try something else to make this more delicious, there has to be something, right?

I had my Italian class and it went well, nothing exciting happened, but it wasn't horrible. My teacher is really nice but she is just very difficult to understand. She is very sweet though so I want to have patients, it is just very difficult sometimes. I came home and had my dinner and skyped with dad before starting on some homework.  I wanted to make sure I did enough homework before heading to my friend's house.

Pauline is a French girl who I met at the weekend retreat that I went on who is studying in Florence. She invited me and another girl over to her apartment for dinner and desert so I brought some of the chocolates that I had gotten from Catie this past weekend in Switzerland. Mathilde, the other girl who was also from the retreat, was supposed to come but I had to leave before I ended up seeing her. They are both very sweet girls and we are going to get together again after midterms and fall break.

After Pauline's, I came home and did some homework before reading and heading to bed. Great day and I am excited to get together with them again.

Con amore, Ciao!

October 10th

This morning it was super hard to wake up. I hit snooze a lot and Rhonda (the name I gave my alarm clock) was not happy with me by the time I finally woke up. I started the day with coffee in bed and reading. I really love that, I can see why Rebekah always starts her day that way with coffee and her blogs. I got ready for class and then headed off.

We were allowed to spend the entire class on our projects and I was able to finish up my portion of the project. While I was at school Freddy invited me over to their house to watch some Jersey Shore after I got out of class. Ok, confession time. Sometimes I enjoy watching it. It is a mindless, brainless, stupid show, but it is something I can just sit there and let my brain let go while I watch it. He cam and picked me up from the apartment after class and we got gelato from a little famous place called Groms. They have "all natural organic" gelato and it was pretty good. I got pear and caramel which had little bits of both pear in the pear and caramel in the caramel. I love when they put little surprises like that in there.

Unfortunately, it was a particularly dumb episode, even for Jersey Shore. Freddy walked me home and I spent the rest of the night doing homework and preparing for my midterms before heading to bed. Let's just say that I need to be productive this week. A lot of time will be devoted to finishing touches, but in my opinion, those are the most important. There is hair on the top of the statue of liberty, right dad?

Con amore, Ciao

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 9th

After the super stressful weekend we shared together, it was decided that we should sleep in on Sunday. We woke up late and had coffee for breakfast. You know you are loved by a friend when she is willing to share her special coffee sent to her by her father. I am so lucky to have such a great friend. Since everything in Lugano is closed on Sundays we spent the morning watching When in Rome and just hanging out. We had fancy grilled goat cheese sandwiches with tomatoes and yogurt for lunch. I have found a new love for goat cheese, it is so delicious but unfortunately makes your breath smell rancid.

After lunch, I had to pack up and head home. We made the walk to the train station which is only about a 15 minute walk from her apartment and it was a sad goodbye. It was wonderful seeing her because it was the perfect little bit of home that I have been craving. I love Catie and I am so thankful that she is my BFF&N.

I had to switch trains on my way to Milan and I was super nervous that something was going to go wrong or that I was going to get on the wrong train, but the process was very easy and everyone was switching trains with me so it wasn't like I was by myself. Me being me obviously asked the conductor if I was getting on the right train. I figured that it would be better to be safe than sorry. Even after asking him, I was still nervous. I made it to the Milan train station this time with plenty of time to spare and I walked around for about 20 minutes in the train station figuring out which track I was supposed to be at and looking in the different shops there in the station. It is a very nice station, but I am still not sure how I feel about Milan. The architecture is amazing, but I felt like the city overall was a little dirty. I would say it is like comparing Chicago to New York. Both are amazing cities, but there is a clear winner between the two in my opinion.

The train back to Florence was spent studying for midterms and reading my book. I got quite a ways into my book but made sure I also devoted time to my studies. When I made it back to Florence, I did homework, skyped with Chris for a bit, and responded to some of the emails I received over the weekend.

It was an amazing weekend and I am so thankful that I took advantage of the opportunity to go and see Catie.

Con amore, Ciao!

October 8th

Let's just say that Lugano is much colder than Florence has been at night time. We got up around 10 and had oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. Catie officially ruined me of my coffee that I had gotten here in Florence with her fancy starbucks coffee so it became very obvious to me that I was going to have to get new coffee once I got back to Florence. We hung out for a little bit and figured out our agenda for the day.

We walked around downtown Lugano for a little while and got the best gelato I have ever had. One scoop was chocolate and the other was a raspberry cheesecake that was to die for. It had real bits of cheesecake crust and was seriously one of the most delicious flavors I have ever had. Of course, it was in Lugano and not Florence, depending on your views, this could be a good thing! We walked around their beautiful down town for a little while and then went to the grocery store so we could get the materials for Catie's international food night she was having with the various clubs for Franklin. After spending 170 francs on nutella, chocolate, cheese, and the materials for crepes, we headed back to her apartment. We have the worst luck for public transportation and missed the bus by about 3 minutes. With the next bus not coming for an hour and the groceries totaling about 50 lbs, we had no choice but to sit in the station for the next hour chatting away.

Finally making it to her apartment, we started the crepe making and the rest of the food prep for the night. We made crepes with nutella and banana, cut up cheese and bread, and broke chocolate bars. It was going to be a very healthy evening. We all got ready and made our way through the cold to the college cafeteria where the dinner was being held and set up the table. Once the food was all out, the people hosting the event were allowed to get their food and eat before the public was allowed in the doors. This was nice because it got crowded very quickly. I met a lot of Catie's friends and they were all so friendly and nice. It is always a good thing when you meet your friend's friends and see how supportive they are and just genuinely nice people.

We had a bunch of different types of food and I couldn't even begin to tell you what they were called, but in my opinion, the French table was the best. We were seated next to the "Finer things club" which even though I am still not sure what culture they were, they had some ridiculously good banana bread. I am excited to try and make some when I return home to the States.

After the dinner we walked home and downloaded bridesmaids through itunes. We had tea while it was downloading and chatted with her roommates. Once it was finished we started to watch it and realized that the sound lagged behind the movie by a few seconds and it slowly got worse and worse. We tried to restart the computer and do a few different things, but nothing worked and so we decided on a different movie. One of her roommates suggested Conversations with Other Women which is an independent film. It would take too long to explain it and if you are really curious you can imdb it...it was in a word, weird. We ended the night with a little more chit chat and went to sleep

Con amore, Ciao!

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 7th

I woke up very early right when my alarm went off at 6:30 because I was SO excited to go see Catie for the weekend. I had breakfast of yogurt, cocoa puffs, and coffee and had a good morning of getting ready to go see her.

I made it to the train station with plenty of time to spare and so I waited until my train arrived so I could board. In my train cabin, I sat across from a fellow that looked exactly like Dave Navarro and he gave me the creeps. After a long time of him looking at me and then writing down on his pad of paper, he started to talk with me and he turned out to be actually a pretty nice guy. He helped to translate what the ticket collector was saying to me and I felt bad for feeling like he was going to suck out my soul. The train ride seemed so long and I was SO ready to see Catie by the time I arrived in Milano.

I met Catie on the platform and it was so perfect! I missed her so much and I am so thankful that we were took advantage of the opportunity to see each other. We walked around Milan a little bit and made our way over to a calzone shop and got some lunch. My calzones were ham and mozzarella and the calzone of the day which turned out to be mozzarella with corn kernels on the inside. I was expecting something a little bit more exciting than that, but it was still delicious.

We walked around a little more and went inside of their Duomo which is much different architecturally than Florence's Duomo. The Milan Duomo is very Gothic in style with its high peaks and dramatic details while the Firenze Duomo is more of a Mosque looking structure with its, wait for it, domes.

Catie got gelato and I got a gelato sandwich, which is obviously so much better than an ice cream sandwich! It had chocolate and vanilla gelato in it and one end was dipped in chocolate then dipped in candied, crunchy things. SO good. We walked and window shopped the rest of the afternoon and it was just such a fun time. I love window shopping and I haven't done it in so long, having Catie there made it even that much more enjoyable.

We made our way over to dinner and tried to find a place that our good friend Rick Steves suggested in his book but we were unable to find it. And obviously Italians know where nothing is in their own city so it is useless trying to ask someone where anything is. We ended up going to a place where it was fate we ended up. Why was it fate you might be asking yourself? Audrey baby was everywhere. They had pictures of here, mostly famous and some not so famous, everywhere. It was too perfect and I wish I had been able to buy one. There was no way I would have been able to get it back home though because a majority of the ones that I wanted were giant. We split a pizza that had ham, mushrooms, tomatoes, and artichokes on it and each got a glass of wine.

We made our way to the steps of the metro station and realized we didn't have any coins to get on the metro so naturally we had to get gelato in order to get change. The man at the gelato stand loved us and gave us huge chunks of chocolate on top of our straciatella. We finished our gelato and made our way to the metro. We realized that we were going to be late for our train to Lugano so we started to get a little worried. Once we made it to the station we literally ran to our train. And when I say run, I literally mean we sprinted through the entire station, me with my tourist's backpack, up the escalators, and made it to our train only for Catie to realize that she forgot to validate our ticket. I literally held the door hope with my body as she ran back to the little yellow box and punched our ticket. Luckily, she made it back on to the train as the doors were buzzing because something was blocking the doors from closing, gosh, what could that have been? We couldn't stop laughing and because we were both sick, we were coughing because our throats hurt which only caused us to laugh even harder. It was a great day in Milan.

It was a quick trip to Lugano because we were chatting and admiring the few things we had bought that day. I bought a dress that I will use for my new year's eve dress and my birthday dress. It is beautiful and I am in love with it. I also bought a shirt, which I like to call my flying squirrel shirt, and can't wait to bust that puppy out! It is a great fall shirt and will match my boots perfectly. Maddie, you will be so proud of me! Oh, ps, I call it my flying squirrel shirt because of the sleeves, not because it literally has a flying squirrel on it. Alex,  I know that disappoints you, but I am sorry.

When we got to Lugano we walked up to Catie's apartment and made tea and oatmeal. We watched the Wedding Date, one of our favorite movies, and then went to bed. It was a great first day and a wonderful little bit of home. I am so blessed to have her for one of my best friends.

October 6th

Great morning because I was able to sleep in and try and make myself healthy. I had breakfast of yogurt and coffee. The yogurt is one that Courtney gave me because she didn't like the flavor. It was kiwi with fiber. And by fiber it meant that it had chunks of something that was really, really weird. The yogurt itself was good tasting, but it was hard for me to get over the texture. I started my laundry, as is my Thursday ritual, and cleaned up the room a little bit. I left and went shopping for paper towels, toilet paper, and a few other items that the apartment needed. I came back and started my Italian homework and had some lunch.

Italian class was good, but very boring. We are actually starting to learn verbs so that is really cool because it will allow me to be able to speak Italian better. Right now it is difficult because all we have really learned is adjectives which makes speaking very minimal. I have done well so far because Mrs. Marshall gave me some Italian on my ipod which has helped a lot. I am excited to learn new things in the class and I actually kind of enjoy it.

After class, I came home and skyped with Danae and Kelly. It is so nice talking with them and it was really great catching up. Dinner was still the same, but it is still delicious and I am not tired of it! After dinner I made note cards of recent vocab and started studying for my midterm for Italian which is not until the 19th. I figured I need to start studying for it though because it is always better to be over prepared than under prepared. I still cant believe midterms are so close. Time is flying by.

I finished the night with homework, packing for the weekend, and watching Gossip Girl with Courtney.

October 5th

Sorry I am a little behind...

Breakfast was good. I had cocoa puffs, kiwi yogurt, and coffee. I went to my wine class and we learned about wines from the mid region of Italy. It is very intersting learning about the wines but I guess I just imagined the class being a bit more interesting. I am glad though that I am taking the class because it is what Italy is about, wine. I love it. There are a few wines that I have really started to enjoy from the class but they are a bit on the expensive end so I am not sure if it would be a good idea for me to get too attached. I would still like to buy a bottle of wine while I am here, I have yet to do that.

After class I went home and had a repeat of lunch. Strawberry jelly sandwich with a pepper and tomato salad. They are so good and with a little bit of balsamic, mmm! So tasty. After lunch I tried to nap for a little bit because I was still trying to get over being sick but I was not successful. I got up and mopped and swept the apartment because I figured it would be better to do something with my time than lay there frustrated.  After cleaning, I was very exhausted and I was finally able to take a nap. I was trying so hard to get over being sick before visiting Catie for the weekend.

Dinner was the same as the night before and it was equally as delicious. This recipe is for sure a keeper. I finished the night with homework and some skype.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 4th

Today I woke up and went for a run with Courtney and by run with Courtney I mean run way, way behind her. It was a good run but a slow one. I showered and had cocoa puffs for breakfast before making my way to my Revit class. It was a great class and I learned a lot today. Long story short but as of today I was only going to have seven more hours of meeting with my professor until the end of the semester. Luckily, she understood me when I was saying how that is ridiculous that the administration expects me to learn a program in that short amount of time and so she argued with them for me and got us extra hours. She doubled it and so from here on out we have 19 hours left together. The whole process was complicated and long, but I tried to give you all the cliff's notes version of the story.

After class I came home and had lunch which was a fragola marmellata panino e un pomodoro e peperoni insalata con formaggio. Such a good lunch. 

I went to Italian class and at the end we went to get a pastry because we were talking about them in class and I convinced the teacher to take us on a field trip to get one. It was called a mille feuille and let's just say that I plan on getting at least 10 more before I leave. 

After class I went to get joghurt and then to visit my chicken man. He had smaller chickens and so I bought a whole one for 4.50 euro. I came home and started the chicken boiling and tried to nap. I am starting to feel sick and so I am trying to get as much vitamin c and joghurt in my system as I can before this weekend, I don't want to be sick when I go visit Catie. 

So I tried to nap and was unsuccessful so I read a little bit and then started dinner. It. Was. So. Good. Last night I sauteed my mushrooms, yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, apples, and pears so they would be ready for today. I let the chicken boil and then cool off while I cooked the noodles in the broth. After they were cooked, let them sit in the strainer for a while and peeled the chicken. I tossed it all together with a cup of plain joghurt and I am SO excited that I am having it for dinner the rest of the week. Whatever I don't finish this week, I will freeze and then have for dinners next week. It is so good and flavorful. I know it might sound a little gross, but seriously, I can't describe how good it tasted. 

After dinner, I worked on my lighting final and skyped with my dad. I love skyping with him. Oh and then I was on silent skype with Chris. It was a good night!

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 3rd

Today I woke up and had planned on going running but since I didn't fall asleep until around 3, it was rather difficult for me to get up when my alarm when off at 6:30. So I woke up at 8:30 and had toast with jelly and coffee for breakfast. A valuable lesson was learned this morning. No matter how strong your coffee was the first time, do NOT try and use your grounds again. It is disgusting. Well, you live and learn.

After breakfast I started my homework and finished my assignment that was due today for my lighting class. We had to go to local assigned boutiques and critique their lighting choice for their interiors like if they chose the right style of bulb and other things like that. I had peanut butter and jelly for lunch today with popcorn as a side snack. I got ready to go to class and then off I went!

Lighting class was good. He just looked at the progress we have made and said if we were on the right track or not. He really likes my light fixture and the direction I am going in so I am very excited! I just have to actually do my project. Only a minor detail.

After class, I raced to the store to get a salad for dinner. If you didn't notice by my breakfast and lunch choices, I was out of groceries. I raced back with my salad that had lettuce, corn, cherry tomatoes, and olives in it just in time for my sustainable design class to start. One of the best surprises of the day? My olives were actually pitted! AMAZING! They must have been imported because one thing that I have noticed about Italy is that EVERYTHING that was grown with a seed, still has its seeds inside. I have, however, been converted over to loving grapes that have seeds in them.

Sustainable design class was good because there was no lecture and we were able to work the entire time on our projects. We met with our teachers and reviewed what we had completed thus far. I spent the class time finishing the furniture plan which was my responsibility for our group project. I finished that and went to the store during our break. I saw a recipe online that looked so good. It is my pear and apple dish but I am modifying it a little. I will have to get some more ingredients tomorrow, but I am excited to let you all know what the finished product is! I will make sure to put some pictures on facebook of how it turns out.

I went by the man I buy my chicken from but I am not sure if he raised his prices or something was extra special about the one he had left, but he tried to charge me 7 euro for a drumstick? Is he crazy? So needless to say, I need to buy chicken and yogurt tomorrow for my dish.

I came home and cooked up my veggies for tomorrow, set my fruit out to thaw, worked on homework, and blogged. I put my fruit in the freezer because last week's spaghetti lasted way longer than I anticipated and I didn't want the fruit to go bad. Thus, as my mother would say, "the miracle of refrigeration" but in my case, the freezer.

Best surprise of the day? Chris will be working at an office that is a five minute speed walk down the road from Harrington! Yes ladies and gents, signore e signori, Mesdames et Messieurs, Meine Damen und Herren, that is what the good news was when I left you all on a cliff hanger. My boyfriend is actually going to be living in the SAME state as me! I am beyond excited and it is going to be so great and such a new adventure for us! I am so thankful that God answered my prayers.

September 30th evening, October 1st, and October 2nd

Amazing weekend! I experienced so much and I am so thankful that I pushed myself to go on that retreat.

So starting the weekend with where I left you last, which was Friday night, I went to the bus station and waited for the bus to come. I was so nervous that I was either going to miss the bus or get on the wrong one! In conclusion, I was a nervous wreck for no reason, of course. I got on the correct one and went up to the bus driver and asked (in Italian of course) if he could please tell me which stop was the correct one. It was very easy because the whole system is like how it is in America and an automated voice calls out which stop is next. I got off on the correct one and Gianni, the man who invited me and smelled exactly like my Grandpa Whitescarver, came to pick me up from the fermatta. We went up to the convent and had dinner of sandwiches and dessert of grapes and apples. When I arrived, there were only four other people there so I was nervous that it was going to be a small group of us. However, they told me that there was a big group coming from Milan but they were a few hours late so we were waiting for them to come to start worship. Once they came, the room was filled with Italians, French, and me, the American. I was beyond nervous because I was the only English speaker in the room other than Gianni, or so it appeared. We went down to worship and Gianni sat next to me to translate what the priest was saying. When Gianni went up to speak there was a guy Matteo who came and translated what Gianni was saying. It turns out that Matteo spent 3 of his high school years in Texas because his father was transferred there for his work. We went upstairs and had gelato from one of the girl's family's gelataria and it was SO good; I had seconds.

October 1st
We woke up and had bread and coffee for breakfast. There was marmellata and nutella for the bread and it was very good. We had praise and testimony about how after we leave retreats, like this one, we need to keep our fire lit and make sure that others see our passion for Christ. It was very good and I was very thankful that I had someone there with me to translate. After testimony, we had mass and then began preparations for lunch. I helped to cook and I am so thankful for that because now I know how to cook authentic dishes! We had delicious pasta, a hamburger type of thing that I will make many times, french fries, coffee and fruit. 

After lunch everyone was very tired so we split up to either take naps or explore the countryside, I went on a walk by myself and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There were grape vineyards and olive groves all around the convent and I was in awe. I took so many pictures, obviously, and will get those put up on facebook later this week. After our nap time/exploration time, we went into small groups and talked about what we are trying to do to keep our fires lit. This group of kids had all gone to world youth day in Madrid and so they were talking about their experiences and what they missed the most. Since I had not been, I just explained what I do to keep my fire alive after I leave the conferences that I go to with my parish or with other friends. 

Then we went back inside to the chapel and had more praise then were let go to do our own thing. A group of the French kids and I went walking around more and it was so much fun. They are so nice and friendly and it was really great to feel so welcome in their group.  Everyone I spoke with was so eager to get to speak English with me and was also willing to help me with my Italian. It was seriously amazing and I thank God that he pushed me to go. 

After our walk we had another amazing session of praise and then everyone got ready for dinner. Dinner consisted of a mixture of split pea and minestrone soup, quiche (potato, spinach, ham, and a few other types), and then salad. We went out to Florence and had what they called Florence by night. I was excited because I was going to finally get a tour of Florence and find out about all the things I walk passed on a daily basis. This was not the case. It ended up being that because I was one of the three who live in Florence and because I had been here the longest, it was Florence by Night lead by the American. Yep, I gave our tour. It consisted of us walking passed the Duomo, getting gelato (I got lampone and golosella, so good), and then walking by the Palazzo Pitti. These kids got the best tour of Florence ever given, that is without a doubt! We rode the bus back to the convent and made our way to bed, thankfully because I was pooped!

October 2nd
We woke up to breakfast and then had praise and Sunday mass. After mass we had lunch which was delicious pasta, ribs and some other piece of pork that no one would tell me what it was, bread toasted on the grill, and salad. We sat around and everyone who knew the words of the songs sang them. It is interesting to see how similar teenagers are no matter what language they are speaking. One of the guys brought his guitar and everyone sang along to the songs he played and it was almost like I was back in America for a moment, almost.

After our three hour lunch, the Milan kids all packed up and left. Me and two of the French girls that I roomed with stayed back to help Gianni and Elisabetta clean up the convent meant sweeping and undressing the beds. Us girls rode the bus back together and made sure we exchanged contact information so we would be able to get together on a weekly basis. This week is pretty busy for me, but next week we are for sure getting together.

I came home and started my laundry right away and showered. I had a very calm night of catching up on things and waited for Courtney to get back from her French Riviera trip. I had a horrible night of sleep because I kept feeling like there were bugs crawling all over me. That is definitely not a good thing because I am TERRIFIED that we are going to get bedbugs. I tried going to bed at 10 but didn't fall asleep until 3am thanks to Courtney talking with me and story telling. I am so thankful for her, she is such a great roommate. I have had the best luck with roommates, really, I have lucked out with first Kellbell and now Courtney.

The weekend was amazing and filled with food and praise. Everyone was so nice and I just can't explain my feeling that I still have from this weekend. God is so amazing and I am just so thankful that I have faith and love him so much; he is pretty awesome and I don't know who I would be without him.