11 December 2012

Dove Dumplings!

I'm much more of a cook than a baker. Proceed. 

My family hosted a party over Thanksgiving Break, so my sister and I scouted Pinterest to find some simple recipes for the occassion. She found this photo from Picky Palate...
...but instead of clicking through to the recipe, we just bought some Dove chocolates and sugar cookies. The recipe actually called for a Pie Crust and Kisses, but Dove was on sale. We rolled out the sugar cookie dough (pre-made, duh), used a cookie cutter and placed a Dove chocolate in the middle.  I ended up having to roll the dough around the chocolate. Unfortunately, the shape of the chocolate turned the cookie into more of a... dumpling. The result was still great! After 10-12 minutes in the oven, the cookie had melted the chocolate with a thin layer throughout.
They were definitely a hit but next time I won't rely on one photo to give me a recipe. Live & learn.

14 November 2012


One of my goals on my 21 Before 21 list was
17. Buy a piece of art by Jamie Calkin.
I've loved his watercolors of Downtown Athens since freshman year, but as a college student, collecting art isn't necessarily most practical use of money. I saw him at the North Georgia Folk Festival and couldn't take my eyes off this stunning 3x3 Sunflower painted on a wood panel. It's now hanging perfectly above my bed. I wake up smiling every morning.

I'm glad I waited.

06 November 2012

On How to Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

- Rev. Safire Rose, via laurennicolelove.com

I needed this tonight. Maybe it can help you, too. xx

01 November 2012

Museum Mix at the Georgia Museum of Art

I originally wrote this post for my internship at Visit Athens, GA, but wanted to share it here, too! Follow the blog for more of my writing!

Wednesday night October 24, The Georgia Museum of Art hosted Museum Mix, a spectacular event designed to celebrate the arts in a casual setting. From 8 to midnight, guests danced, mingled, and explored the exhibits currently featured in the galleries.

One of my closest friends is a volunteer docent at the Museum and I always enjoy attending their events. The University and Athens are lucky to have such a widely respected institution to celebrate and enjoy!

Guests were welcomed with complimentary beverages and hors d’ouvres from Earth Fare. The dips were a hit! Outside, people danced surrounded by the Defiant Beauty: The Work of Chakaia Booker sculptures created from recycled materials.  It was unlike any event I’d ever attended. The idea of laughing and dancing at a museum may seem strange, but art is about enjoying life in all its forms! GMOA definitely understands that idea.

My favorite exhibit on display were the polyester resin sculptures in the De Wain Valentine: Human Scale. These huge rounded pieces were an incredible feat of artistic creation; some measured eight feet tall! I just stood in the gallery for about fifteen minutes in awe.The next Museum Mix is scheduled for April 25, but do yourself a favor and visit GMOA soon! 

Check out our website for more information about the Georgia Museum of Art, including event listings and visiting hours. 

29 October 2012

I went to Iowa!

Downtown Iowa City

I really, really liked the people I spent four months with in Rome. We saw each other every day and basically created a family. Then, after four months we flew back across the Atlantic; hoping we’d all see each other again someday… but you never know.
Four of my favorite people at AUR happened to go to the University of Iowa. They didn’t know each other before the semester, but we all clicked. Five months away from Katie, Lauren and Andy were five months too many. So, I flew to Iowa City for the weekend.
Iowa City is a college town through and through, a lot like Athens. You’ll find a thriving downtown, full of unique shops and eateries. Hopefully a thriving arts scene, and an energy that only comes from being home to 30,000 or so 18-22 year olds. Iowa City has it all.

If you’re paying attention to the news, you know we have a pretty major election coming up in about ten days. Iowa’s a swing state, and a pretty damn important one at that. LITERALLY every other television commercial supported either Obama or Romney. Volunteers gathered in the streets asking passer-by’s if they had voted, were voting, planning on voting; it was insane. The President spoke on campus about two weeks before I visited. Wonder how well that’d go over at UGA.

Speaking of Georgia, I love you but I was SURE tired of having to explain why I say “y’all” like it’s no big deal. Conversations would go something like this:

Me: blah blah blah y’all blah blah
Other: Wait, did you just say y’all? Where are you from? Why are you here?
      Me: I’m from Georgia, visiting some friends I met studying abroad.
      Other: Wait so like, does everyone in Georgia say y’all? I don’t get it.
      Me: Yeah, a lot of people say it. Is it really that big of a deal?
      Other: I mean I don’t know anyone who says y’all.

Probably had some form of that conversation about twenty times but the people were great. My friends are great!
Katie, her Roommates and me!
Plus, there was football. The Iowa-Penn State game was a big game and the city was rowdy. Iowa lost pretty bad, but they certainly won the party. Late Friday night, the Iowa Marching Band paraded through the streets for the bar-goers.
Iowa River Tailgate
We tailgated along the Iowa River, listened Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean and played “bags”. In the Peach State, we call it Cornhole. Just another fun fact.
The entire weekend was incredible. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to see my friends and experience their world in Iowa City.

Five months felt like five minutes. Y’all come south for winter!


04 October 2012

College & Pets: Great Idea

It's been proven that pets are good for your health. Depressed? Get a dog. They won't let you stay in bed all day. Because we're big travelers, my family never adopted a pup because it would be a big burden. Instead, we stuck with cats. One cat in particular. Oreo was quite a kitty. His domain extended for about a half mile around our house. He would "bark" at bugs and brought us "presents" weekly, including a lizard on Mother's Day and two bunnies in the week before Easter. He was a great cat. When we were sad or sick, he would stay nearby. They just know. Our new guy, Ollie (cute pictures!!), does the same thing. He's fiesty. He loves biting feet but when I'm bummed, he's a good buddy.
But I'm not fighting the facts here: dogs are better choice in the pet category if you can devote the time. They have more personality. They'll let you dress them in cute little outfits (not that I agree with it) and there's a reason cat parks don't exist. They would be so boring.

College is hard. As students, we go from being taken care of by family, to taking care of ourselves for the first couple of years, then getting to the point where we kinda want something to take care of. Crazy cycle, huh? Ollie's still a kitten and I personally believe he was devestated when my sister & I left for college. So, when my parents headed to the beach for two weeks, I offered to bring him to Athens for his own little 'vacation'.

Ollie loves Athens, or more specifically, my house in Athens. Yes, he's still biting but I've come home every day this week to a sleepy-eyed kitty and it's made me so happy. Not that things haven't been going well. I'm happier than ever. But, there are so many animals that need a great homes and shelters are overwhelmed. It's devastating to know those animals could make people as happy as Ollie makes me, but only if it's something agreed upon by roommates. Living together can be difficult enough. Throwing another life into the mix can be downright tricky. But, when it works, it's great. I don't want him to leave!

24 September 2012

Athens to Atlanta for $3.50!

I originally wrote this post for Visit Athens, GA but I wanted to share it here, too!

The drive from Athens, GA to Atlanta is relatively short at roughly 70 miles and takes about an hour and a half. I'm sure I speak for a lot of you, however, when I say that the drive up 316 can be... painful. Sometimes, I'd just rather not drive. If that's the case for you, as well, you know the other options are relatively limited. The light-rail system connecting the two cities isn't coming any time soon and I sure don't have the time and energy for a bike ride.

So, when I needed to meet my family in Downtown Atlanta for an afternoon engagement, I rode the Megabus.
After spending the spring semester in Europe, public transportation and I got really comfortable. There was no other option. That mentality has made it's way across the Atlantic, but hasn't reached south of the Mason-Dixon. That's okay. If you want to spend $3.85 to go twenty miles down the road, I have no problem with it. that my one-way ticket to the Civic Center MARTA Station in the shadow of the W Hotel cost just $3.50 and saved me the stress of driving down I-85.

I bought the ticket on the Megabus website about five days before my Wednesday afternoon trip. I brought my ticket with a confirmation number to the Athens Multi-Modal Transit Center, about a block from the Classic Center on W. Broad Street.
The bus left on time at 1:30 pm., joined by about 25 other people on the bus from all walks of life. Some passengers carried suitcases but most had nothing more than a purse or backpack. There were older people, young people, students and even a baby. Yes, she cried on the bus. Glad I packed my headphones! A lot of the Megabus routes use one of their special buses with outlets, wi-fi and other creature comforts but because I traveled on a low-traffic day, we were in a classic coach bus. 

At 2:59, we pulled off the Downtown Connector, turned left on Ivan Allen Blvd. and made it to the MARTA station. I only took a one-way trip but from what I experienced, I would definitely take the Megabus again.

When Megabus Would Be Ideal...
  • If you'll be picked up or staying around Downtown Atlanta, maybe visiting friends at Georgia Tech or heading to Philips Arena for a concert.
  • If you don't mind the contraints of a departure time.
  • If you're heading to the ATL Airport. Get off the bus and walk down to the MARTA station for about a $5 commute, compared with a $40 shuttle. 
  • If your schedule works with their timetable. Most buses leave Athens around 8 a.m., 1 p.m., and 6 p.m.

17 September 2012


I was having a pretty crummy day until I opened this email my dear dad sent me about the Rover landing on Mars. My jaw dropped and stayed open for six minutes.

(watch it full-screen)

If they can land a robot on Mars, I can handle today... right?

29 August 2012

A Love Letter to College Freshmen

My sweet friend Margaret sent me this post a few days ago and it hit my heart. It feels just as applicable to me now as it would have in August 2009, but I wanted to share it with you all. I attached the link at the bottom if you want to view More Love Letters, because they're amazing. Now, I'm looking for that "Love Letter to a College Senior".

Dear You–
It may just be you & I up and awake in the world right now.
Just you… the quiet of a new dorm room… the glow of the laptop screen… this love letter… and a feeling webbing deep in your stomach that you may never get used to all this.
It’s not true. You’re going to do just fine. You’re already doing just fine even if it’s one of the hardest things to convince yourself of when the tears are brinking and you just want to go back home: Back to comfort. High school. A boyfriend & friendships now sitting in the pile of  “long distance.” Bonfires. Summer. Familiarity. Anything but this.
It’ll be the best four years of your life… that’s what they’re telling you, right? That—if done right—these next four years will sculpt you & change you & make you ready for the real world. Truth told: this is the real world. It’s yours. Stop thinking otherwise. Don’t let a moment more slip away.

These next four years are yours to be entirely & completely selfish.

To figure out “you” and how “you” make this world a better place. So start…
Start at the coffee bar. That’s a good place to start. Just visit the coffee bar and treat yourself to something sweet—you’re in college. It’s something to celebrate.
Knock awkwardly on the doors of your new neighbors. Everyone is waiting for someone to make the first move and plan a powwow. Be that person. Decide that tonight it is the football game and tomorrow it is popcorn and a movie night in your room. Pick a movie that is both drama & comedy, with traces of home & familiarity in it for each of you.
Befriend your RA. They are not the enemy. They are here to make every ounce of this easier for you… and they’d really appreciate the chance to try.

Call home when you have to. Cry your eyes out. Take slow slugs of the broth of homesickness in the morning.

It’s ok… It’s ok…

Let the homesickness in. Don’t push it out. Talk about it. Embrace it. It will head south eventually… I promise.

Write letters. To your friends at other schools. To your long distance boyfriend. To teachers back home. Glitter the maps with your cursive to one another. Give one another a reason to track back the campus mailbox for something other than a free pizza coupon. You’ll keep those letters for years & years. You’ll one day say that there is nothing like those letters you’ve kept stacked in a box beside your bed.
And on the note of friends… step away from Facebook for a little while. Not forever. Not for always. Just enough time to be present to the here & now. The meeting of new faces. The conversations at parties. The ice breakers that, yes, you clearly don’t want to do but should anyway. Be there for it. All of it. Don’t sit in the feeds of your friends back home; start new chapters that would make them proud.
Follow. Just follow wherever this year takes you. You’ll change. It’s inevitable. But don’t shy away from the change or the chance to develop into a better friend… a better leader… a better somebody. Accept it. When people grow distant and old relationships don’t fuel you anymore, just accept it. That’s life. It’s always happening. Clear away and cut the ties you need to cut… make room for Better & More. You’ll find best friends in this place…
Don’t go crazy looking for them. You’ll find one another and in a year from now you’ll wonder how there ever was a whole two decades of Not Knowing One Another. For now, just meet people. Sink into it naturally. You’ll get there. I promise. Just find the places where people are and start there.
A club. A meeting. The newspaper. Something. Anything. Not just for social purposes– your resume is going to start mattering sooner than you think… take it seriously.

And classes too—Go. To. Them. 8am or not—Show. Up.

Study. Try harder than you’ve ever tried before. Consider a time management course. Take at least one course that interests you… thrills you… makes you think. & don’t rush to choose a major. There’s time to get your feet wet with the muds of it all.
Most of all, embrace it. All of it. The new opportunities. The events on campus. The free stuff. The chance to grow apart from everything you’ve ever know. The chance to be someone you have always wanted to be…
Sit down during this first week of college… take out a piece of paper… and write it all down. Your hopes & your dreams  & your goals for the next four years. Who do you want to become? What do you want to accomplish? It’s time to start all of this.
Write it all down. Put it in an envelope. Seal it up and scribble “Do not open until college graduation day,” in big, bold letters. And tuck it somewhere safe…
Get clear on what you want to make of these next four years and then go out and do it…
You’ve got this. You’ve really got this. And if ever you start to believe that you don’t, come find me.
Someone who has been there before. 

This love letter was written by founder of The World Needs More Love Letters, Hannah Brencher. Brencher stands by the idea of writing a “Dear College” letter. This love letter was inspired by the love letter she wrote to herself on the first night of college. Brencher sealed the love letter in an envelope & did not open it until her graduation day in 2010. 


27 August 2012

Work, Play, Intern.

I'm interning for Visit Athens, GA this semester! My job consists primarily of maintaining the Facebook & Twitter pages, sending out a weekly newsletter and maintaining their blog.

Luckily I have some practice with that. So, I'm going to try very, very hard to keep up with LT&C but life is crazy busy. If I write posts that feel personal enough, I'll repeat them here. Sound good?

UGA Football in 5 days & I can hardly wait.

Also, if yall could like/tweet/follow whatever the social network requires for those sites, I'd reallyyyyy love you.

27 July 2012

The Olympics & Me

The Olympics start tonight... and I've been sitting at work for about an hour, glued to Seventeen Magazine's Hot Olympic Guys (hey, John Isner.. bring that gold medal back to Athenzzz)
...reading about how the Olympics will ruin the sleep schedules of people all over the world, especially the Americans. Bless our hearts.
... and more interesting facts about the Games in Londontown. They're turning the Olympic Village into houses after all the athletes return to their home countries. I'm thinking I need to check on that as an option... post-grad.

Then, I started on a little walk down memory lane.

Like most Atlantans born before 1992, the Olympics were a big moment for the city. I won't say I remember a lot of it. I was about to go to kindergarten, there were bigger issues at hand. I remember watching a family friend carry the torch through some neighborhood in Atlanta and my parents buying me a stuffed Izzy doll. Unfortunately, my clearest memory of it all was the night of the bombing in the Olympic Park. My brother & his friends had been near the explosion and I remember their scared faces walking into our house late at night after a charred bench landed a few meters from where they were standing. Regardless, the Olympics were the best thing that ever happened to Atlanta. Other than Sherman's March. Kidding guys... The money, the facilities, the exposure! People all over the world were talking about Atlanta in the Summer of 1996.

Of course, we all got bricks.
Sydney in 2000 wasn't a big deal for me. I remember the Today Show giving all of us at home a tour of the Opera House, but that's about it. Same with Athens in 2004. But, then there was Beijing.

I watched the Opening Ceremony for months after the games ended. I'm still debating about buying it on Amazon. I teared up when Nastia won the Gold and had to step away from the TV with the Chinese took it overall. AND THE BIRD'S NEST. What a venue. I'm beginning to think Michael Phelps is a fish but in 2008, I was head over heels in love. I became the joke of the J-Crew (Wheeler's journalism staff) and I was even gifted with his Wheaties box by Wheatley.


I even got to interview an Olympic Gold Medal winner & Wheeler graduate, Reggie Witherspoon, a member of the Men's Track team in 2008. He came back for a basketball game that fall and he let me put on the Medal. I died.

2008 Clare. So young, so much to learn. But look at that medal.
Needless to say, I'm excited for London and tonight should be great. I've heard Peter Pan, Harry Potter, Paul McCartney, and a meadow will all be involved in the festivities at 9PM on NBC. Britain's medal count may be lower than other countries by the end of the games, but they're the real winners here. When the Games are gone, they'll still have Kate.

25 July 2012

Cut that Ribbon

My internship at Cobb Travel & Tourism will be ending the first week of August, so I've been trying to learn a lot and work as hard as possible during the time I have left. My boss and the CEO of the company is an incredible woman. With her guidance and connections, I've been able to do things most young adults just don't get to do.
On Friday, I had a really exciting day. My new roommates and I moved into our beautiful new house in Athens. I'll put up some pictures soon, but before I came to Athens, I had the opportunity to go to the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new hangar at the McCollum Airport in Kennesaw.

I got to the office at about 8:15 and Holly asked me if I wanted to go to the new hangar. As a daughter and sister of pilots, I don't pass up an opportunity to go to an airport. Airports are full of of possibility, and I love possibilities.
Many local politicians were there, along with the media and several people who I have met over the summer. I doubt I'll be using the airport to house my Gulfstream any time soon, but hey, a girl can dream.

Sidenote: The cutting of the ribbon would have been a lot more dramatic if the ribbon had been guarding something previously unused or unseen. I guess it's all about the photo op. 

17 July 2012

27 June 2012

Cabo San Lucasssssss

I’m about two weeks late on this one. Whoops. You’ll have to excuse me. I’ve been working 8 to 5 Monday to Friday and in my spare time, I enjoy being with friends and relaxing (or playing with my precious kitty)… not continuing to stare at a computer.

But there was Cabo San Lucas. Man, did I love that place. Cabo is on the tip of Baja California, isolated from everything except itself. It’s a desert. The mountains are full of cacti and  tumbleweeds, yet sometimes the oceans is only yards away. Cabo isn’t very popular with people from the South and East, mostly because of logistics. It’s much easier to get to Cancun, Cozumel and the Caribbean than to the tip of Baja California but Delta (thank you, thank you, thank you!!!) has a direct flight to Cabo every day. Lucky for us.
My mom has been a part of a timeshare system since she was 25, making money from an early age.. . gotta respect that. With her ownership, she can virtually swap for another resort all over the world. It’s a sweet deal. So, we were able to stay at the Welk Resort on Serena del Mar. It was about 15 minutes outside of the town but we had a rental car. A few days, we didn’t even leave the resort because it was so incredibly pretty.
Water Taxi to Lovers Beach & the Famous Arch
Like any good resort, there were activities going on all day to keep the happy guests even happier. One day, we took salsa lessons. The next day, my sister, mom and I indulged in a ‘bar-tending course’. It was more of a drinking course and it kinda ruined me for the rest of the day. I had to drink a Coke at dinner that night.

The food was INSANE. Of course tacos and guacamole were always available but I was surprised by the prevalence of sushi. Cabo is close to some of the best fishing in the world and the sushi was incredible. At Baja Cantina on Medano Beach, we had avocado and crab wrapped in tuna. It was one of the tastiest meals I've had in a long time, says the girl who spent four months in Italy.
Queso Made Tableside
There are so many Americans living in Los Cabos, and I'm envious. It's incredibly Americanized. Need 42 rolls of paper towels? Head to Costco. Want to pick up an Iced Latte? Swing by one of the several Starbucks in the area. Home Depot recently opened a store in Los Cabos for home-improvement needs. And, of course, there was Wal-Mart. But don't fret... my family didn't step into any of these store. We instead bought essentials at a market on the highway. Right next to the drug store advertising Viagra, Lipitor, Phentermine, Vicodin and Latisse, the potion that makes your eyelashes look like Brooke Shields'.

The last day in Cabo, Natalie and I tried paddleboarding. It's like kayaking--- standing up on a surfboard. I fell a bunch and had to resort to my knees at times, but it was very cool. It's the closest you can get to standing on water! The waves were rough with all of the jet skis and boats on the beach but I can imagine it would be incredibly peaceful on a smooth and quiet beach. One lady even brought her dog on the board!! Lucky pup.

Sister, standing. Me, struggling.


14 June 2012

Our New Kitty! Part 1 of Many...

It's been a really exciting week around my house!!! On Monday, my friend Sarah's sister found a little kitten near the dumpsters at her apartment complex. Heartbreaking. My sister & I have been trying to convince my parents to get another pet for a while, but with all the traveling and us not living at home anymore, they would say no. Understandable. But when I showed Dad a picture of this little orange fuzzball, he smiled and said something like "Aw, he's cute! Bring him over." I was shocked.

Cute, but so sick. He needed some TLC.
Natalie and I went over to see it at Sarah's and he was even smaller than the picture made him look. We gave him a bath and the flea problem became more apparent. He needed a vet ASAP. Also, giving a cat a bath is terrible. Kudos to Sarah for that. So, Natalie and I took him to the vet afraid that he had every disease in the book. And we thought he was a she. Obviously, a little red haired rescue should be called Annie but Annie became Oliver. I wanted to name him Conan.

At this point, we still didn't know if we were going to keep him but he weighed 15 ounces. Not even a pound and estimated he was about 5 weeks old. The people at Town & Country Veterinary Clinic were so wonderful. They cleaned the mites out of his ears and gave him a pill to get rid of the fleas. As of now, Oliver has a clean bill of health. He looked like a new kitty but still had the voice of a lion. His meow is LOUD.
The little guy fell asleep at the vet... and I melted into a puddle on the floor.
We walked in the front door and the parents loved him. He sat in a basket next to the table when we ate dinner. Renato & I went and picked up food, kitty litter and all the accessories. The little guy was HUNGRY. We let him walk around the house for a while, then got scared he could get lost and decided to make him a home in the bathroom for the night.

Look how precious!
Since I've been working so much this week (8-5) I haven't gotten to spend a lot of time with him. That's what I'll be doing tonight and I couldn't be more excited.

13 June 2012

Trucking Food Through ATL

There’s something fascinating about seeing 100 businessmen & women in professional attire order their lunch from a van. But hey, it’s much more fun than a food court. Every Tuesday, food trucks from around Atlanta serve the Atlanta Galleria Office Park and surrounding area. I’d been planning on sampling the cuisine since reading about it in “Creative Loafing” on my way to Cabo San Lucas last week. Yes, Cabo was wonderful. I’ll write about it when my sunburn goes away.

I rallied the boyfriend to come with me because it’s incredibly depressing to eat alone. They set up the trucks in the middle of the Office Park, between the four high-rise buildings. It’s a beautiful area, with a fountain, tons of seating options and greenery all around. Quite a nice reprieve from an office. Today, there were four food trucks and a King of Pops cart. I didn’t have any cash, otherwise I would’ve gotten a Coconut Lime popsicle. If it’s anything like the Coconut Lime Mojito I enjoyed in Rome, I’d be a happy girl. Next Tuesday.

Here's the article from Creative Loafing about Food trucking: On the road with Atlanta's street food vendors

 We went to the Buen Provecho truck because the line was shortest. The Happy Belly truck line was at LEAST 20 minutes long. I got the Roasted Pork Emparedado (sandwich) with some plantains. Delicious. Except, it was SO HOT OUTSIDE and a hot sandwich wrapped in hot foil doesn't necessary cool you down. Lesson learned!

Hope you're having a great week!

25 May 2012

Best of ATL: LT&C Edition

I started my Internship for the summer at Cobb Travel and Tourism. My main job is to help the county bring film & television productions to our area. I talked about it in article I wrote for my Feature Writing class in March and now, I'm actually working for the people who make it happen! I love it so far.

Now that I have a set schedule and I'm up at 7 AM, I'm finding my days to be a lot more productive. With all that time I'm not working, I really want to take the time to get know the city I've lived in for 21 years. Not really a bucket list, but just some fun things to do.

Three-ish months in Atlanta this summer. 
That's a lot of time to discover a really awesome city...
... and even though I'm not in Europe anymore, I don't want to stop exploring. 

I've decided I want to visit Senoia (The Walking Dead is filming there now ahhh!), see a movie at the Fox Theatre, eat at the Atlanta Food Truck Lot, go on a Marietta Ghost Tour, visit the new World of Coke Museum and more.

A lot of you who read this blog live in Atlanta or have visited awesome places nearby. So I'm asking you for some suggestions about your favorite things. TELL ME!

22 May 2012

The 5 Stages of Grief: Study Abroad Edition

1. Denial – The days leading up to May 16, packing, saying goodbyes, throwing a coin the Trevi, heading to the airport, getting on the plane... Is this really happening? We're not actually leaving.. right?

2. Anger – I'm just mad I had to leave Rome, my friends, a wonderful school, the opportunity to explore and be on my own. This anger stage still comes out from time to time. Ask those closest to me. 

3. Bargaining –"Ok, Mom & Dad... Just let me stay for a few weeks after to travel. I reallyyyy wanted to go to Budapest and Munich..."

4. Depression – Not even Crazy, Stupid, Love, Casablanca and an ice cream sundae on the airplane could ease my heavy heart. I woke up from my nap wondering where my roommates were and if the kitchen was clean only to find myself on the airplane headed to Atlanta. Yeah, I cried. Then cried again when my sister gave me a collage of pictures of my trip. Then cried again when I was singing by myself in the car.

5. Acceptance – When the plane landed in Atlanta, we were one of the first group of passengers to go through the new terminal. It opened earlier that day. The employees were excited, the walkways were beautiful and I got to see my family for the first time... in a few weeks. It's been a little overwhelming since then, but I'm happy. Driving is more fun than I remembered. I love having Netflix on Demand. I can stretch out my arms in bed and not touch a wall. There's no sirens, no neighbors yelling at 8 AM, no dirty floors. My friends smiling faces and genuine happiness at my return gives me a little slap in the face. Life is good and all of the exciting things happening at home makes me feel ok about being back. It happened. It was wonderful. Now, get on with your life but don't forget a second. 

Before I left, there was a C.S. Lewis quote that I constantly repeated when I was sad or anxious about spending four months away. "There are far, far better things that lay ahead than any of those we leave behind." Lewis is a smart man and I believed his words. Now, I'm repeating it again and looking at things lying ahead. I may turn around a lot and think of Italy, but hey... who wouldn't?

Ciao Amici.
...and by 'Ciao', I mean 'a domani', because the blog is keeping on. 

10 May 2012

T - 6 Days

Piazza Navona
This is my 100th blog post. Can you believe it?

Time is fading away in Rome. I'm a bit devastated. I don't know how else to say it. Hence why I haven't been blogging too much lately.

Luckily, my friend Sarah was here this weekend remind me about how great life is back at home. She left on Monday to head to Florence for the rest of the month.

We had a great weekend, slept a lot, walked around Roma, had some amazing food. This week, I spent a lot of time working on a 2,500 word paper about the Italian perception of McDonald's. I turned it in yesterday. One class down, three to go.

It's really frustrating that my last week in Rome is getting filled up with studying. I'm in the courtyard studying for Italian for a bit, then spending the afternoon walking around this beautiful city. I'll be home this time next week and I couldn't be more grateful for my four months in Rome.

No doubt, I'm taking that home with me. I'll be spending my summer, and the rest of my life, happy about my time in Rome.

Not going to get to sappy, yet. Time to study for Italian. Andiamo.

04 May 2012


Looking back on my four months, it's really hard to not have some regrets about the way I've spent my time. I've talked about my Brussels fiasco but mostly, I hate that I don't have enough TIME. I thought four months would be long enough, but there will always be a cafe left undiscovered and a beautiful museum I didn't see.

Then, I kick myself and realize I'm only 21.

I took that mindset to Barcelona last weekend and decided (I think our whole group decided) that we wouldn't leave a rock unturned. By that, I mean we slept very little... about 13 hours over three nights. I don't think I've ever spent a weekend with such a carefree attitude and I kinda loved it.

Spain is the best. Barcelona is insane. I had been before with my family when I was in high school but it was during Thanksgiving and everything was cold and wet. Definitely not the way Barcelona should be experienced.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and even the airport blew me away. Prapti and I had to make ourselves leave, which was a little bit easier to do after the free wi-fi expired. We got to the hostel, about a ten minute walk from Plaza Catalunya and waited for our other group members to arrive. Prapti and I passed the time with a lovely pitcher of sparkling sangria and some traditional Spanish cuisine, which I'm still unsure about.

Later that night was Opium. Incredible music, awesome environment and on the beach. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Friday: We rolled out of bed and headed to Sagrada Familia. I had seen the outside on a bus tour when I came to Barcelona before but never went inside. Gaudi took a little warming up to, for me. I've grown accustomed to the classical Roman styles but after stepping inside the church, it clicked for me. What a genius.

The church won't be completed for a new more decades. There's still some towers to be built and facades to construct, but still. It takes your breath away with the intricacies and color. I'm not an art person. I don't know how to correctly describe or critique art so I won't try. All I'm saying is that it's awesome.

We ate an amazing dinner at 4 Gats that night and my friend Madeline came with us! It was so awesome to get to spend time with her and her friends. Almost everyone in her program had left for the States, but we had a great time with the people still in Barcelona.

Razmatazz that night.

Saturday: We headed to the Boqueria market off of Las Ramblas for lunch. I had a calzone, some candy and two fruit juices. I could write a whole blog about this incredible culinary locale. Maybe I will, this summer when I'm home and going through Euro withdrawals.

Gummies at the Market
We spent the afternoon walking around Park Guell, another testament to Gaudi's brilliance. We walked around for a long time in awe. It felt more like a theme park without the rides... so whimsical.

That night for dinner, my friends Sarah came & met us at 7 Portes. It was the most delicious paella I've ever had and I loved catching up her. The rain put a little damper (ha) on things, but we still went back to the hostel and rallied for our last night in Barcelona. We went to this bar where you pay three euros and they give you the bottle to pour as much in as much liquor as you want. Dangerous. We ended the evening at Catwalk, another club near the beach. The rooftop patio was really awesome to see the city. I loved Barcelona, can you tell?

Rodney, Katie & I slept through our alarms a littleeeeee bit and had to hustle to get to the airport. By the time we landed in Rome, the exhaustion hit all three of us and I spent most of the day napping.

Maybe my whole 'young, wild, free' mantra isn't the best, but I'm enjoying every minute of it.