May 1, 2010

done

Yesterday I finished my education at the University of Southern California. It was a bittersweet moment, but I can only think of one way to celebrate...

by watching this amazing video.


Some US Soldiers in Afghanistan remade Lady Gaga's "Telephone" music video. Bravo men, I am still laughing.

April 29, 2010

IRON CHEF : avocado


I have a few friends that I regularly cook with. We all enjoy making creative dishes, but my favorite part is eating them. A few weeks ago, we randomly discussed our love of avocados and guacamole. As a native Southern Californian, I LOVE Mexican food - so guacamole provided for a nice mouthwatering tangent. Although initially a digression, avocados triggered a genius theme for our next gathering - Iron Chef Avocado.

As frequent viewers of the Food Network, we thought it would be fun to apply some of the challenges of Iron Chef to our own recipes. Last night we had our avocado adventure, and the recipes were certainly unique. See below for our creamy green creations... but, unfortunately given the investigatory nature of our recipes there are no exact amounts of anything. We played the trial and error tasting game with these dishes, and I think we won.


Avocado Deviled Eggs

avocados
hard boiled egg yolks
mustard
worcestershire sauce
chives
salt and pepper

mix ingredients to pipe into hard boiled egg whites
(we essentially replaced any sort of dairy ingredient with avocado)


BBQ Chicken Avocado Quesadillas
My recipe! I call it BBQdillas

olive oil
corn tortillas

(all inside the tortillas)
jack, cheddar, and mozzarella cheese
pre-cooked chicken marinated in BBQ sauce
red onions
tomatoes
avocados
basil

cook in the oven

Avocado Dessert Drink
This recipe is not an original. Apparently this drink is part of the cuisine in Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Hawaii

avocados
sugar
milk
ice

blend

Avocado Risotto
Not totally sure of all the ingredients, this was a magical melting pot of taste

rice
chicken broth
onions
tomatoes
pickled garlic and garlic pepper
(we had no fresh garlic in the pantry)
capers
salt and pepper

(mixed in after preparing risotto)
parmesan
avocados

heat on the stove

-------

I hope you're willing to try some of these recipes or be a little creative yourself. I'm making those BBQdillas again tomorrow!


April 22, 2010

GAME OVER, RESTART

I believe I have several posts stating my desire to blog again, like the post before this one.

I wrote: "Because I have returned to my blog..."

Wait, what? I returned to my blog? Yeah, but for a brief moment in September. All those posts were filled with intentions but I never followed through. It's hard to make promises to an optional activity that communicates to a virtual abyss (or virtually everything). I hope to change that now as I'm ending school and have more free time.

Restart. Blogging...

September 23, 2009

I have a blog?

What's this? Ohhhhh I have a personal blog... I lost track of this when I returned to one of my many homelands, Sweden, and was greeted with Hej Hejs. I thought that restoring my blog addiction after European rehab would be easy enough upon my return - I mean, it was an addiction - but no, my European habits remained. I became a wanderer. Most every day in Rome I would travel aimlessly looking to discover new and wonderful things. When I landed in LA, I continued that trend. LA seems different now. It seems better.  

Because I have returned to my blog it doesn't mean that I have given up my wandering ways, it just means that I now know how to balance my new found activity with my old habits.  

July 2, 2009

blog fail

I give up. It is too difficult to post on my blog while abroad. And what I have posted is meh. So, give me a week and I will return with my random witty rants. Ciao!

June 22, 2009

Ciao Roma!

Tonight is my last night in Rome. I am a little sad to leave but I will be in Europe until early July so I can't really complain. Since my agriturismo I have done a lot of things. I went to some more churches, historical sites, bars, and restaurants... but I am just going to recap the highlights.

Early in the week, a friend from USC visited me. I took him to some of the big important sites that everyone has to visit, but we also enjoyed a good dinner and a fun night out.

Later in the week, while walking around randomly, I found the street with the hotel I stayed at 9 years ago! I was so excited. Also, oddly enough, one of the girls I was with had stayed there 5 years ago. So we stopped and reflected and took a cute photo.


Another day, I went with a few friends to have an aperitivo above the Spanish Steps. An aperitivo is like a pre-dinner drink with snacks intended to “open the palate" and give you a chance to socialize. It was nice and relaxing, especially with the view of the Spanish Steps! Ahhhh I love you Italy and your lovely food related traditions.


Too much happened this week, and I can not even begin to recap it. Given that this was my last week in Rome, I did everything and lost a lot of sleep. It was an incredible week. Family and friends, I will be home soon enough and then we can talk about all the fine details of my Roman holiday.

When in the US, I am a computer addict. My addiction manifests itself in three ways - through technology (the form and function), graphic design, and the internet. With this internet addiction I am usually up to date on most current events ranging from pop culture to politics. However, being in Europe I am usually a day or two behind. It kind of pains me but at least I still manage to get my news. Honestly, I have better priorities here. I have learned a lot of about restraint leaving my iPhone at home... but I still have my laptop, my child.

So here are my recent but probably not current internet discoveries. I love movies and I am excited for many upcoming films, but these promotional photos sold me. Get ready for Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland! These photos are striking, but what also got me is the similar composition. Many current films are showcasing the actors in simple but beautiful posters. I like the cleanliness of many of them, but then some do fail like the poster for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Well, it may also help that these two movies have some cred and the other... well, not so much. Did I just write cred?



Another great thing I found on the internet is this new Jib Jab Obama video. It follows along the theme of Jon Stewart's "Hope-and-Change-O-Meter," where he placed Obama between Gandalf and Wizard FDR. This video has Obama saving the day with super powers. He can do more than kill flies...



One more thing, family, if you feel inclined to buy me a welcome home gift. This would do the trick. I love the Onion store! (This is not necessary, because clearly I am living a gift).


Ciao! Soon I am off to Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, and Stockholm!

June 16, 2009

more


Again I fail with the updates...

So this past weekend I went to Umbria with my class. We went on what is called an agriturismo. Apparently these are popular with Italians. It is simply an agricultural holiday focused on relaxation and fresh farm food. We visited a farm, caught fireflies, climbed haystacks, picked cherries, and visited more churches. While in Umbria we also took a day trip to Assisi to visit good ol' St. Francis. The entire weekend was amazing!!!

This is my last week in Rome so I have been busy doing everything I have left on my to do list. There is just too much to do in Rome. I guess I have to come back.

A friend from school visited me Sunday and Monday on his way to Milan and I took him to the Trevi Fountain. If I throw multiple coins in the fountain during the course of one trip do they cancel each other out or does it mean I will be coming back to Rome sooner?



June 11, 2009

far from an instant replay

So far off that this is pretty much a week recap. I have failed miserably at updating my blog. Rome is just too fun.

Ok, so last weekend...

I stated earlier that I had plans to go to Pompeii, but unfortunately (not really actually) things changed. Here is the story - So, one of my best personality traits is actually my biggest flaw. I love to do everything, making the most of life. As a result I am a very accomplished person, but then sometimes I am too busy. See the pros and cons? Well, being in Rome I want to "carpe diem" of course... Last summer I was diagnosed with celiac, a serious gluten allergy, and since then I don't eat wheat flour products. This is an unfortunate allergy to have in Rome, but I am still eating loads of wonderful food - caprese, prosciutto and melon, gelato, and more!

However, I know how great the pasta is here and I have been wondering for most of the trip - can I eat wheat for a little bit and still have an incredible time? At the start of my developing allergy, the pain and discomfort was not that terrible. I figured, I haven't had wheat in about a year so maybe a little wheat won't be that bad. So, last week I ate wheat. And guess what, I was horribly wrong. I felt sick the night after and then the morning I was suppose to leave for Pompeii I felt absolutely miserable. I will spare the details.

I'm an idiot. That morning I texted my friends and slept off the pain. I woke up a little before noon feeling better, but I was still depressed I missed the trip even though I have been to Pompeii and I remember it pretty vividly. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to be active and of course, carpe diem!!

So I went to the Vatican again, yes for a third time this trip. There is just too much to see there!

After the Vatican I got back on the metro and noticed that one of the stops went to Appia Antica, the ancient Appian Way! I decided to stay on and get off at the stop, which is way off my map. I had no idea where to go so I stopped in a bar and asked a waiter where to go. He drew me a small map and it appeared that the Appian Way was just around the corner. Wrong again. I ended up hiking, forever! However, it was a nice gorgeous walk. See below.


After about an hour I finally reached the Appian Way, and one of the houses had this tile on the wall (below). So, I made it to Pompeii after all! For those of you that don't know, that cave canem mosaic is a very famous image from Pompeii. On the Appian Way there were many ruins and churches. I visited most of them. Including one with the first catacombs ever. The catacombs of San Sebatian is where the name catacombs originated from. It was very cool to see, but it was also incredibly creepy with tons of small caves. I had to bend down in many of them. A church was built over these catacombs, and in the church is the last statue made by Bernini. It was discovered in the monastery there in 2001. Or something like that. I honestly don't know how you can have a statue that beautiful and be satisfied without knowing the artist and having it tucked away. Plus, by looking at the details I think it is clearly Bernini, but whatever. Thanks tour guide!


After the Appian way I went to several other places around Rome. Like - Circo Massimo, La Bocca della Verità, Museo Castel Sant'Angelo, San Nicola in Carcere, and La Scala Sancta.

Scala Sancta, aka the Holy Stairs, are apparently the steps "that led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, which Jesus Christ stood on during his Passion on his way to trial." Pilgrims walk up the steps on theirs knees and pray at each step. 9 years ago I visited these steps with my dad and for some reason I got very eager and wanted to do this. I kneeled on the first step and immediately lost my religious fervor. It hurt! They are wooden stairs. I prayed on the first step and left. I promised my dad I would do the second step on this trip. So, I did. And it still hurt. Not worth the pain. Sorry Jesus.


San Nicola in Carcere was just a random church that I decided to walk into. It looked interesting and it had some ruins around it. When I entered the church, a woman was singing Ave Maria with the organ. It was amazing. I just sat and listened to the music for about 15 minutes. I love days where you just wander around and discover new things.

I finished my Saturday by walking home. It ended up being a great day. Even better than the trip to Pompeii, according to my friends.

Sunday, I met up with some friends and decided to have a touristy day. We started by going to the very top of the Victor Emmanuel Monument. It was an awesome view even though the day was a little cloudy.


After, we took a bus tour of Rome. We sat on the top of a double decker bus and drank Chianti. It was very fun. We got off the bus in Piazza Navona and got something to eat. While there we were intrigued by the henna tattoo artist. Somehow we decided that it would be worthwhile to get a temporary tattoo in Rome. Two of my friends got tattoos with stars and I decided to get a tattoo related to Rome. So, I picked SPQR - Senatus Populusque Romanus. Yeah, kinda nerdy. My friends were confused because they didn't know the meaning (keep in mind we are studying Italian not history), but every local Roman I talk to either enjoys the tattoo or laughs at me.


Monday after class I went to the Vatican for the 4th time, but this time to climb the Vatican. It was a total of 1,102 steps. And some corridors were tight and angled. It was quite the adventure but totally worth it. I don't exercise and I am normally very lazy, but I would climb those steps any time for the view of the dome or the entire city.


Half way up you have a beautiful view of inside the dome. Up there you can tell that the "frescoes" are actually mosaics. They were replaced years ago in order to maintain the detail. Also, while we were in the dome, a small service was going on so we enjoyed some beautiful music while looking at the fine details of that amazing Basilica. The interior was incredible, but once we made it outside on the top, the view was spectacular. Hello Roma!


A few posts back I noted that I walk to school every day from the Piazza del Popolo to the Spanish Steps. In between those two sites is All Saints Church of Rome. I go to All Saints Church in Pasadena so it always makes me happy to see something familiar. Last week I noticed that the church holds Opera nights twice a week with the singers of the Filamonica d'Opera di Roma. I got really excited about this discovery, so I went Tuesday night. This was the incredible program:

Haendel - "Lascia ch'io pianga"
Puccini - "Ch'ella mi creda"
Mozart - "Voi che sapete"
Mozart - "Madamina il catalogo e' questo"
Puccini - "Quando me'n vo'"
Rossini - "Una voce poco fa"
Verdi - "La donna e' mobile"
Rossini - "La calunnia e' un venticello"
Hoffenback - "Barcarola"
Verdi - "Va, pensiero"
Bizet - "Seguidilla"
Puccini - "Si', mi chiamano Mimi'"
Verdi - "Eri tu"
Donizetti - "O mio fernando"
Puccini - "Nessun dorma"
Bizet - "Toreador"
Gounod - "Ah, je veux vivre"
Verdi - "Brindisi"

Below is a video of the "Nessun dorma" performance. It is my favorite song out of the selection. Being a graphic designer I think heavily about composition. I do the same with photography. And with those mediums you aren't usually limited by orrientation. I filmed the video vertically to get more of the beautiful background, but clearly a vertical orrientation does not work for a video format. So, unfortunatly you have to tilt your head to watch the video. The singer was a little tired from his previous songs and made a few mistakes, but overall it was a great performance of "Nessun dorma."

video

Yesterday, we went to an art show put on by the students of the Rhode Island School of Design. They have an independent study program in Rome that lasts 5 months. It was great to see their work and eat free food.

On top of those things, I am still speaking lots of Italian, visiting fun bars and restaurants, and getting to know more of the people on the trip. I can't believe it is almost over!

June 4, 2009

some great déjà vu

I am still revisiting all the big tourist attractions that I have seen before. Some people find the spent time and money a waste, but my previous trip to Rome was 9 years ago! I am sorry if I can't remember everything, but also I find that I appreciate everything more given my art and history education and my age. Yesterday I stood across from The School of Athens for about 20 minutes and I also strained my neck admiring the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Even considering these déjà vu experiences, I would still revisit the David (when in Florence), the Sistine Chapel, the Forum... Each time it is a new experience and it is always fantastic. It is like rewatching a great movie; clearly a trip to Rome is more expensive but also more precious.

Monday I saw Angels and Demons again... the movie is ok, the book is better, BUT the movie is better when you see it in the Piazza del Popolo. For those of you that have not seen the movie, that spot is kind of important. (It's the first altar of science!!)

Tuesday was a national Italian holiday, so we didn't have class. Instead I planned a trip to the catacombs of San Callisto. Apparently 5 Roman catacombs are open to the public and I happened to pick the same one that I visited with my father 9 years ago. That place is so cool! Just go. After the catacombs we stopped by the Basilica of St. John Lateran.



And yesterday, I went with my class to the Vatican Museum. Drool.

So, this week has been great. However, I have a test tomorrow. That always brings down the fun. I am convinced that studying while in Rome is a sin. I should be out exploring, but I am doing that tomorrow, after my cooking class.

Ciao!

June 1, 2009

it's hard to blog during a Roman Holiday

This year I discovered personal blogging and shortly became a fan. Well, I became more than a fan, actually I was kind of obsessed at times. I constantly had this need to post my thoughts about current events, technology, politics, art, pop culture, and sometimes my personal life. When I relocated to Roma, I changed the content of my blog, making it a fun venue to update my friends and family about my wild and crazy Roman Holiday. However, because I am having so much fun here I have less of a desire to write coherent intelligent reflections and instead I just want to post photos and lists of my activities. Sometimes I feel like I am slacking, but then I realize photos are worth a thousand words.

For those of you that care about grammar (including me) I would like to apologize for everything but mainly this list with it's lack of parallel structure and incomplete sentences.

Here is my weekly update:

-Speaking Italian more, go me!
-More amazing food, even with my food allergy
-Food deserves two bullet points because there was a gelato party at school... I had 4 cups
-Discovering cute little Italian markets and stores
-Learning more about Italian culture
-Wine tasting with school, aka wine drinking, but I learned a lot surprisingly
-School trip to Florence, so incredible!
-Weekend reunion with the Morphy family (practically my family) in Tuscany
-Ok, one more food point because with the Morphys I had a 6 course meat meal prepared by a famous butcher!

Now, here are 5,000 words.





May 28, 2009

Barça, Barça, Barça!

That is the response I got as I walked down the street in my Barcelona jersey yesterday. It is part of the Cant del Barca. Well, clearly I only got that response from Barca fans, I won't even mention the screams I got from Manchester United fans. I happen to live near the Man. United meeting spot. Not so good. 

When I planned my trip to Rome I only considered two things: my desire to visit Rome again/study abroad and my desire to really learn Italian. I didn't even consider such crazy events like the Champions League final! I met some guys from Canada and Virginia that flew to Rome just for the final, and they didn't even have tickets!!! Yeah, I lucked out. 

When I went to class on Friday, I saw this on the Spanish steps!


My class was interrupted by random cheers in the streets. Despite my inability to focus and learn, it was fantastic. I have an exam tomorrow so I am not going to write much, but things are still incredible. I have explored more of the city and have met more locals. 

I watched the game yesterday in Campo dei Fiori with a bunch of Barcelona fans. Unfortunately, there was no viewing at the Coliseum. Roman authorities really cracked down on security... most bars were shut down and all locations were prevented from selling liquor 2 hours before the game. I was afraid of being stabbed so the security was good, in fact it kept things quite tame so it was almost disappointing. But it wasn't!!! The game was great. Everyone was in good spirits. And after we walked to the Spanish steps to continue the celebration. It was an incredible night. 




Tomorrow I have an exam in the morning and wine tasting in the evening. Saturday and Sunday I will be in the Florence area. 

Ciao! 

May 26, 2009

la bella vita

So, I thought I would pick another cliche blog post title because I am in ROME! La Bella Vita! It is still pretty surreal. Everyday, I casually walk back to my apartment as if I live here. I mean, I do, but it is crazy considering the wonder of Rome. I am speaking Italian to locals when I buy food or a bus pass. Oh yeah, I also speak Italian with my host family. They barely know english. This is incredible! 

I wish I was able to study abroad for an entire semester. I can't because of my double major and my jobs. However, when I consider the exchange rate I think otherwise. The euro is no fun. I am pretty sure that is the only downside of being here, well, other than the heat. But when held in perspective a little sweat is totally acceptable considering the experience. Also, a little sweat makes you look sultry. Ciao bella! 

Tomorrow is the UEFA Champions League Final. Because of Rome's history of chaos during sports games, mainly soccer, public measures have been taken to prevent such drama. For example, authorities in Rome have ordered restrictions on alcohol during the final in order to "help curb trouble." I have been drinking red wine every day, but I can surely cope. I think only fanatic fans may have a problem. I am not one of the those fanatic fans, but I did want to go to the game until I saw the ticket prices... I think I will be fine watching the game on large screens at the coliseum tomorrow.  AHHHHH so excited!!! 


Even though I am in Rome, I can't resist searching my favorite political and tech websites. I am not visiting them as often, but definitely once a day or every other day. So, I checked Gizmodo yesterday and found a post about the June 1st New Yorker cover. Sounds average, especially after the Obama drama last year, but this cover was drawn entirely on an iPhone! So impressive!! First, to have fingers that... small? and second to have art featured on the cover of the New Yorker!

I left my iPhone at home but even with that huge absence in my life, I am staying in contact with people through the lovely internet. My friend Mark, partner in crime and business, sent me this useful TED conference video about standing out. It is valuable for any entrepreneur and I enjoyed watching it. I also learned a good bit, but I feel like most of the information is obvious if you consider advertising trends and successful products. However, despite the value of this video, one thing that really stuck with me is this company that makes your cremated family members into gem stones! Yeahhh, creepy. "Hey guys, guess WHO I am wearing on my finger?!"

Ok, now off to finish my homework, but here is a parting video >


May 24, 2009

carpe diem

Before coming to Rome, I planned to write daily blog posts recapping my trip for friends and family because it is interesting but also because I left my iPhone at home to avoid ridiculous fees. But during the last two days, I have done so much that what little free time I have is used for sleeping and homework. Yes, it is unfortunate I have homework but that is the reason I went on this trip - to learn Italian.

Here is what I did during my first weekend in Roma!

Went to the Coliseum. 
Had a wonderful lunch overlooking the Coliseum and the forum.
Visited some events for the UEFA Champions League. 
Went to the Forum. 
Went to the center of Rome. 
Went to the Pantheon. 
Ate a sunset dinner with four courses at the Pantheon while listening to live opera.
Went to the Vatican.
Listened to music and the Pope at the Vatican.
Walked through the Borghese gardens.
Had coffee near the lake in the gardens.
Visited the Borghese gallery.
Saw my favorite statue of all time, Bernini's Daphne and Apollo.

Weekend complete!








May 22, 2009

finalmente, buon giorno Roma!

I finally made it to Rome. On my way to Rome I experienced the worst flight of my life (I was delayed for a total of 25 hours, I sat next to a  crying baby for my longest flight, and my connecting flight lost my luggage - actually no, they put one of my bags on a different flight arriving in another terminal so I confused Italian security when I tried to get through without a boarding pass and with a large bag...) but despite those problems, the little time I have spent here has already made up for it and then some. 


For this trip, I signed up for an apartment and that is all I knew about my residence. I told the taxi driver my address and from there on it was a mystery. When I arrived at my residence, I saw this...



So beautiful! I buzzed the name that matched my assignment and this student came down to help me carry my luggage up the 6 flights of stairs (I will be getting lots of exercise on this trip!). She gave me a tour of the apartment and I was thrilled. My living arrangement is perfetto! I live with a mom, her daughter, and this young teacher. I signed up for an apartment, but technically it is a home stay but with less restrictions. I have my own room, my own bathroom, and I am allowed to eat anything in the kitchen. Feels like home already.


Here is the living room.



Here is my bedroom.



And here is the view from outside my bedroom. Yes, a Hitchcock poster! They knew I was coming. 



It is surreal walking around Rome knowing I will be here for 5 weeks learning Italian. I love history, so seeing the incredible sites of Rome every day is fantastic. One girl in my class got lost yesterday near the Pantheon. My response was, "Oh so sad, the Pantheon..." incredible! When in Rome! 


Here is a photographic tour of my path to class every day.


I take a bus from my apartment to the Piazza del Popolo. 




Then I walk down a beautiful street to the Piazza di Spagnolo. 



Then one block past the Spanish steps is my school!!!


After the first day of class we visited the Trevi fountain and ate gelato. Last night we went to the Campo dei Fiori for dinner and experienced the Italian night life. Strangely enough though, I didn't talk to many Italians... I found a group of Irish people from Belfast! 



So, I love Rome. I could stay here forever. And yes, I am learning a lot of Italian. My friend forgot his address last night and he is in Italian 1, so translating directions for our poor taxi driver was certainly a fun experience for me.


Ciao! Off to the Coliseum.