big city girl

Waiting for the tube.  Tube strike woes.  Tight-turning double-deckers.  The world is my oyster card.  Feeling clammy in the packed Picadilly Line.  Walking in the rain.  Wind.  Too much wind.  Bumping into strangers.  Saying "sorry!" to strangers. Eating out too much. 

South Kensington.  Home. Scoop.  Red couch.  Little Waitrose.   School.  Three days of classes.  3 hour classes.  Spending too much.  Shopping at TopShop.  Wide-eyed at Harrods.  Pure bliss at Liberty.  Going to the theatre.  The symphony.  The opera.

I started writing this post months ago in London.  Maybe I decided it sounded a bit too pretentious and stopped?  Or perhaps I had somewhere to get to, as so-called "city girls" tend to do, leaving this in my drafts forgotten?  Either way, my London life seems so far away right now.  I miss it every single day, and I know little memories will make their way on this blog more than I would like to admit because I seriously have so many and don't want to forget even the most mundane (like the time I got overly excited about 3 chocolate bars for £1.20 at Tesco or the multiple after-theatre pub outings with Philip & co where I awkwardly sat and said nothing and maybe ordered my favorite cider, Magners).  All of it was magical, even the boring parts.  Expect more tidbits in the future.

future talk and folk music

Tonight is one of those nights.  The kind where the future is at once terrifying and exciting; when my dreams seem too big and my bank account too small.  As my last year of college and the "future" comes hurling fast towards me much like an unwieldy basketball during elementary PE that I really don't feel like I'm capable of catching, but somehow can and must, even if it hits me in the gut and makes me cry a little...well, I start to freak out and make long sports metaphors even though I haven't played a sport in years.

It's one of those nights when even catching up on Mad Men seems daunting, much less preparing for the future.

It's one of those nights when no amount of googling will tell me how to achieve my obscure life goals.

It's one of those nights when moody folk music seems like the only anecdote to restless thoughts and a messy room (or should I say, messy thoughts and a restless room).

It's one of those nights when I feel like I must be taking things too seriously, or not seriously enough.

It's one of those nights when instead of getting answers, you get more questions, but maybe an episode of Gilmore Girls will make everything seem a bit more doable.

european adventures: rome, italy

Ted and I are already daydreaming about returning to Rome. The city is so full of history, but most importantly, it is also so full of life. We could have wandered around Rome for several days more, finding new ruins to gaze at and seeking out the best pizza, pasta, and gelato it had to offer (and it had a lot). Although we still stand by our favorite pizza and pasta in Venice, Rome had some very strong contenders. I found it very hard to believe my stomach would ever be so pleasantly and consistently full of such delicious things again (and then I reminded myself that Screendoor's chicken and waffles await me in Portland). 

Thankfully we went before high season (which hits in June, I believe), so it wasn't too crowded or too hot quite yet.  The only downside to this was that since it wasn't "tourism season," a few places were under restoration.  It was fine though, because personally I'll take a little scaffolding over a lot of crowds any day.  The only time we were bombarded with people was at the Vatican Museum, which was absolutely bonkers--we're talking barely any room to breathe, much less appreciate artwork.  I guess it was a blessing though, because it was the last thing on our list, thus making the whole "leaving Rome" thing a little more bearable.  Speaking of the Vatican, we saw more priests and nuns than I will probably ever see again in my life.  Also, all of the shops they buy their clothes at.  

The Lizzie McGuire movie certainly didn't let us down.  Yes, we totally watched most of it one night, before Ted's charger broke.  I dutifully made a wish at the Trevi Fountain channeling my inner Lizzie, but seriously, what else could I possibly need when I'm already in Rome with one of my favorite people in the world?  
The Beehive, where we stayed for four nights, was such a welcome change of pace after our weird place in Venice. When we arrived, the adorable American couple (oh how nice it was to walk into a place where everyone spoke English!) who owned the place was leaving after a little 15 year anniversary shindig that they had that night. They even had a little fluffy white dog in tow--I had to show the woman and her daughter the picture of Izzy on my phone of course.

The room Ted and I shared was clean, light, and airy, stocked with soft sheets, free towels, and a sink with handmade Orange Cinnamon soap. The bathrooms down the hall had natural shampoo and body wash for general use as well. Naturally, there was a vegetarian/vegan cafe downstairs, with a colorful lounge space with Rome guides in every language and an iPad for guests to use. Even the big dorm room, where we stayed the last night, called "the hive," was great. I loved the little crocheted holders on the wall next to each bed. 

It was just a top-notch establishment--homey, colorful, and environmentally-friendly. You can tell how much love has been put into The Beehive, from the family photos in the basement lounge and endearing children's artwork covering the wall across from a large portrait painting of their three daughters, to the extensive PDF of recommendations provided on their website. I highly recommend!
OVER 2,000-YEAR-OLD RUINS! I was perceptually amazed by them, just chilling casually on the side of the road. We walked around the perimeter of these random spots of awesome the first day we wandered around and I was just in complete awe. I live in two very young cities (Phoenix and Portland) in a young country (seriously, in comparison to Rome, America is still learning to walk and form its first words!), so being in Rome was completely awe-inspiring.  We saw the Pantheon, the Forum, the original Palatine Hill (which strangely had similarities to the Palatine Hill we are very familiar with), the Colosseum, and more.  Seriously, there are ruins popping up everywhere.  It is absolutely 100% awesome.  I loved seeing how the bustling contemporary city and stoic ancient city intertwined.  It was so beautiful in such a unique way.  Rick Steves provided us historical background and dorky puns via iPhone earphones throughout our time exploring, and we are eternally grateful for that.  What a man.
Like I said, there was some incredible food on every corner. And 99.99999% of it was Italian, which was totally okay with me--that is what I want, always.  We had so much pasta, pizza, and gelato, it probably shouldn't be allowed.

Our greatest food adventure was the night we left our hostel on the later side and pursued the best pizza Rome had to offer after a brief trip to the Spanish Steps.  Sforno was far away, but completely worth it.  The moment we got there, I knew we were somewhere special.  I could see that the majority of the diners were locals, and I knew we were in for a treat.  We ordered some suppli, which we had tried once before at a pizza place which name escapes me (maybe once I dig through all my paper souvenirs I will update these with more links).  They were fantastic, but unfortunately filled us up a bit too much--once our incredible pizzas arrived, we weren't quite sure how we would tackle them, but we did so with gusto, and were only left with a couple of pieces of each, which we gladly finished in the morning for breakfast.  Let me tell you, the cacio e pepe (shown above) is famous for a reason.  I've never eaten a pizza like it.  It reminded me more of dessert pizza with its moist, fluffy texture, but it was savory with its perfectly peppered pecorino (alliteration never sounded so delicious). It was like eating a pizza cloud.  There you have it!  The margherita pizza was also out-of-this-world, although after some debate, we decided the pizza from Venice won.  I should also mention that during our religious pizza experience, some apocalyptic winds were banging at the giant front windows.  We thankfully found shelter at an empty table inside before receiving our precious food.

Additional shout-outs go out to:  every cone of gelato we ate (and there were SO MANY, GUYS, SO MANY), the old woman who stared everyone down from the kitchen of the family-run restaurant around the corner from our hostel where we got lasagna and the most perfect pasta with bacon, pepper, and pecorino, the man at Roscioli who recommended we get a frolle di ricotta e visciola which is one of the best pastries I've ever put in my mouth, the dog who we stopped to watch chew on a bone while melancholy music wafted from the restuaraunt we were passing after life-changing gelato at (I got a video of it--we stifled back some serious giggles), the obnoxious couple sitting next to us at the delicious restaurant near the Vatican that lived up to way too many American stereotypes--our bowl of mussels had more class than you (I don't know what I even mean by that, because mussels are pretty classy regardless...), and countless others. Rome, you were good to us.

drink here: blue hound + bitter & twisted

It's been a while since I've had a proper girls night and I've never "gone out for drinks with my girlfriends" as twenty-somethings tend to do. So with the recent opening of Bitter & Twisted, Rylee, Erin, and I were inspired to venture out on a Friday night and do just this.  I switched out my grey t-shirt and knitted brooch for a silky beaded blouse that has never left my room, my favorite neglected vintage necklace, jeans, and gold flats, as one does for a night out.  I thought of all those articles promising "take your look from day to night" and felt accomplished, and a little silly for feeling that way.  I headed to Erin's lovely home with Rylee to share a deliciously healthy dinner of soba noodles and veggies courtesy of Erin (she's a domestic goddess; haven't you heard?) and we chatted.  Of course I made too many bad jokes, one resulting in spilling my water across the table.  This is why I probably don't drink very often--I'm already a bad joke-telling klutz on a daily basis.

After our meal, we drove into downtown Phoenix and were greeted by a sizable crowd at the cocktail parlour.  We put our name down for the hour to an hour-and-a-half wait and wandered around for a bit before settling on nearby Blue Hound for our waiting game.  As life usually goes, waiting was half the fun!  We hung out in the relaxing, Restoration Hardware-decorated lounge between the bar and hotel lobby it was connected to, and settled in for over an hour, talking, laughing, and appreciating their choice of menu fonts.  I tried their seasonal tap (I'm all about seasonal anything), which happened to be Deschutes Brewery's Twilight Summer Ale.  My heart beat a little faster when I heard the name and thought fondly of Portland, where the Deschutes Brewery restaurant is.  What can I say? I'm in love.  Funnily enough, I found out later that Ted had ordered the same beer at the restaurant earlier in the week.

Around 11 (the time our breed is usually crawling into bed to watch online television for a couple of hours), we went back to Bitter & Twisted and got seated.  The atmosphere was much darker and louder than the Blue Hound, but it still felt comfortable and most definitely stylish.  I tried the Lime and the Coconut which had a delicious creamy layer of foam that was hands down my favorite part of it--I wanted to dollop that foam onto a piece of vanilla cake or something. Of course it took me forever to finish, because I'm not much of a cocktail connoisseur quite yet. Regardless, I'd say the night was a success.

european adventures: venice, italy

I had a lot of feelings about Venice.  I'll try to sum it up in one sentence: It's a beautiful, unique walking/boating city on an island that is overrun by tourists, thus making it feel devoid of local spirit.  At times that could be so disheartening, that not even Rick Steves could soothe us.  Despite our little tinges of disappointment, we managed to find a few safe havens away from the craziness (like sweet Burano).  Regardless, I'm grateful to have seen this bizarre, sinking city full of aggressive tourists and pigeons.
The place we stayed at near the train station (we took a bus over a long bridge to get to the island) was trying so hard to be an actual hotel, that it made it even more disappointing when they consistently came up short. Sounds harsh, but they were kind of a pain. They put us in an awful basement room that I tried my darnedest to stay optimistic about, but it had no window, was quite warm, had no working AC, the wifi didn't work, and the bathroom heater wouldn't turn off. In true Ted fashion, he sorted everything out and we were moved to a much better room--although it still had its own quirks and the wifi only worked in the hallway. Oh well! It could have been a lot worse. 

Galleria Academia showcases Venetian artists from the 14th-18th centuries.  It was definitely worth going to, but the Peggy Guggenheim Collection was what did it for me. An American woman with money to spare, Peggy started a collection of modern art and housed it all in her spacious home on the water in Venice. We saw some incredible contemporary art there, including Picasso, Dali, Calder (who made her custom earrings and a bedhead--what a life!), Pollock (a whole room!), Duchamp (her personal guide to modern art), and so many more. If I could choose one museum to acquire all of the art, I think I might go with Peggy's (although the National Gallery in London might beat it out). Thank you, London program (namely, Giovanni, our attractive art history professor) for instilling in me a deeper appreciation of art. I've always called myself an art lover, but now I feel more like an art needer. I now crave museum time, and can't wait to seek out more art in Portland and Phoenix. Excuse me while I get a little emotional about London (and sassy Giovanni's perfectly coiffed hair). 
Alfredo's Fresh Pasta To Go needs to live in my kitchen. We tried three different kinds of pasta--the Viagra, the Parmesan Prosciutto, and the Caprese over the course of two visits there. The Viagra was our favorite, so we split it both times. My second favorite was the Caprese  which was so light and lovely. Another highlight, on par with Alfredo's, which we also visited twice, was Antica Forno. PIZZAAAAAAAAA. We have had a lot of pizza in our lifetime and this place topped probably all of them. We still have Rome though, so we shall see if it can be outdone. 

Burano, known for its lace and seafood (NOT TO MENTION THEIR SUPER ADORABLE MULTI-COLORED BUILDINGS), also provided some tasty food. We tried some local cookies and were a little irresponsible and splurged on a nice seafood meal. It was definitely worth the experience. We tried some world-famous seafood and risotto, which were both lovely. I tried sea critters that I don't remember the name of. So that happened. 

thursday thrills

I'm loving A Beautiful Mess's new feature Casual Friday.  As a huge fan of everything they do, it's nice to see some behind-the-scenes action.  They're living my crafty dreams.

Since I haven't done this feature in about a year, I have two blogs of friends to bring attention to:  Erin's crafty lifestyle blog The Quiet Creative and Eva's fashion blog Elegantly Eva.  Both are must-reads!  Not that I'm biased, or anything...

Although I'm definitely not edgy enough to wear this t-shirt, I like to see people setting out to promote self-love and acceptance.

Summertime = browsing ModCloth for swimsuits I don't need/could never afford.  Honorable mentions:  1, 2, 3, 4.  That last one is so weirdly tropical clown-like, but I love it.

I know this is two days late, but whatever.  I'm finally enjoying some precious free time from work catching up on blogging, reading (The Fault in Our Stars, which I had previously been avoiding on account of not being emotionally ready for another John Green book), and watching Gilmore Girls.  Thank goodness for weekends.

european adventures: hallstatt, austria


Hallstatt is hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, if not the most beautiful. Austria is just an incredible country.  As if being lakeside wasn't enough, Hallstatt is surrounded by Alpines and is even built into the side of one. It really is the stuff of fairytales. I mean there are swans, guys.

PS I randomly found a record at Goodwill with a cover of the same landscape as the third picture when I was there the other day with Rylee.  I had to get it, obviously.
THE ACCOMMODATIONSWe really lucked out with Haus Alpenrose in Obertraun (just across the lake from Hallstatt). It was more B&B than hostel, and the woman who ran it was so sweet and helpful. We had a room to ourselves with a private bathroom (which we expected to be down the hall). We even had a little balcony with a lovely view, and the meat and cheese buffet breakfast was affordable and allowed us to have extra sandwiches for later in the day (which we slathered with the mustard that Ted bought from the grocery store--the woman laughed when we told her that we stocked up on German--Austrian--mustard).

After months of living in a huge city and traveling to others, it was so refreshing to be back in nature, hiking and taking in the natural beauty of our fascinating world. Outdoorsy adventures included a relaxing boat ride on the lake, a short but beautiful hike to the salt mines in the mountains, an amazing ice cave tour (we were soaking wet from the rain but that didn't make it any less awesome), and oh yeah, taking two cable cars up to the top of the snowy Alps to hike through some clouds to an overlook that was blanketed in thick clouds. Not what we hoped for (we expected some sweet lake views) but the weather had something else up its sleeve (namely lots of rain) and we were totally okay with the unique experience we ended up having.

I never thought I would ever be able to say I hiked through the Alps in snow as tall as me basically in a cloud. So that's pretty amazing. I love that despite the fact that my instinct is to stay home, craft, watch a movie, or curl up with a book or journal, I can push myself to do things I never anticipated in the moment. Of course, I still have my limits, but they aren't as restricted as I once believed. I am so grateful that I have had experiences I never dreamt of!