December 31, 2010
oh hey florence
January began in Rome but quickly made Florence my new home. I met my wonderful host family, explored the city streets and made authentic pizza. I discovered the beautiful little city of Lucca, ate more than I thought possible, and laid on the floor of the Sistine Chapel to admire Michelangelo's work.
san marino
February involved seeing more of Italy than I thought possible. I had the best pasta ever in Bologna, took a quick weekend in Naples, Sorrento and Pompeii, and threw my first snowball in the Republic of San Marino.
March brought an end to my Florence program, but not before visiting Venice and Verona. I took a train to Nice, met David in Paris, and we began our adventures to Brussels, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.
birthday tea
April began in beautiful Austria-- where I fulfilled my Sound of Music dreams in Salzburg. After a quick stop in Potsdam, I made my way to Oxford for the next few months. We took a trip throughout Wales, I brought in my 21st year with tea, and ended the month with more tea in Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath.
corpus christi library
May was a month truly dedicated to life in Oxford. I saw more plays than I thought imaginable, went to a tortoise fair, and experimented in the darkroom for the first time. I also went punting and took my favorite film photos ever of Windsor and Clivedon.
my wonderful mama hely
June included several trips to London-- one to see Les Miserables and the other with David. I left Oxford early to go to the Philippines to see my beloved grandmother. I spent more time than I ever want to on airplanes (London to Abu Dhabi to Manila, to Abu Dhabi to London, to Berlin, to Frankfurt to Bologna).
san luca with nik
July brought me back to Italy. I spent 3 weeks in Bologna,with one weekend back home in Florence. Bologna was fun with gelato, centro lame and the hike to San Luca.
the view from here
August was my first full month back home. I participated in a photoswap with my new yellow holga, went kayaking in Monterrey, and had lots of good sister time. I also opened up my own little etsy shop!
sunday flatmate dinner <3
September brought me back to school. I began life in an apartment (which I couldn't love more), I went to the famers' market more times than I can count, and my life revolves around food even more (if that's possible).
all the gourds/pumpkins in our apartment at one time
October rekindled my love for tea parties and began my love affair with butternut squash. I began my {things to love} series, saw Tibetan monks, and went to a Japanese tea garden. I was also Calvin and Hobbes for halloween!
downtown santa cruz
November brought me to Santa Cruz for the first time in more than a year. I continued my obsession with food, sumo wrestled for the first time, and was an assistant photographer for the lovely Rachel Thurston. Thanksgiving was squash-filled and lovely at home.
December began with more papers and studying than I ever wanted, but quickly brought me to my first road trip. David and I drove along the California/Oregon coast, headed to Portland, Seattle and drove through the mountains back home. Time back home was warm and relaxing and I couldn't end the year with more love.

I've learned and experienced more in 2010 than I thought possible. All of the traveling and personal growth has been unbelievable. I have no idea what's to come in the new year (especially since I'm graduating in June!) but I'm hopeful and ready. Happy New Year!

this time last year

December 30, 2010
holiday lights in january
I was packing. My flight to Europe was on the last day of the year-- I spent New Years on a flight to Frankfurt. I can't believe how much has happened in this past year- how much I've seen and grown. It breaks my heart that I'm not packing, on my way to Florence. I wish we had these lights in the streets the way they do in Italy. These lights were how I met Florence. They keep them up throughout January because their holidays don't end until then. I remember how they used to twinkle and glow as I walked home at twilight. It was the best introduction to Florence and to 2010. I don't know what the new year will bring, but I have a hopeful heart.

peppermint bark

December 29, 2010
finished product
I'll be honest: the only reason why I made these was because candy canes were on sale and I'd never made peppermint bark before. I love mint but don't like candy canes. Candy canes with chocolate, however, is a completely different story.
obv didn't get enough chocolate..
candy canes
white and dark swirls
not bad for my first attempt
peppermint bark

12 ounces (2 bags) of semi sweet chocolate chips
12 ounces (2 bags) of white chocolate
4 teaspoons of vegetable oil (to prevent sticking)
2 cups of crushed candy canes

In a double boiler, melt the semi sweet chocolate and two teaspoons of vegetable oil. Spread the melted chocolate to cool on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes. (First clean the double boiler then) melt white chocolate and spread over the cooled/hardened semi sweet chocolate with the rest of the oil. Before the white chocolate cools, sprinkle the crushed candy canes. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting the bark into pieces. A sharp knife works best.

Serve with hot cocoa, warm cider or other baked goods. Hey... the holidays aren't over just yet.


December 28, 2010
decorations in suppenküche
This post is long overdue, but: the last Friday of finals week/ the quarter, Jenna, Anna, David and I went out to eat at Suppenküche in San Francisco. Ever since David and I have been home from Germany, we've missed German food (and beer!). Lucky for us, Jenna is a restaurant connoisseur and told us about this place. The wait was long (the place was so popular but so tiny) but my spätzle was well worth it-- so much cheesy goodness. Not only was the night a celebration of finishing the quarter, but earlier that day I received a call offering me an internship with Sunset Magazine after interviewing the day before. I am ecstatic, and Anna and Jenna congratulated me with a celebratory 2 liter glass beer boot full of hefeweizen. It was gigantic but I had a lot of help.*
my celebratory boot
the width of the boot was literally the same size as our faces
pretty jenna
happy us
*Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at home. The "camera regret" was overwhelming until Jenna sent these photos that she took with her iPhone. After seeing the first photo, I'm happier that it worked out this way.

christmas weekend

December 27, 2010
Highlights and low-lights of the past few days:
+ Wonderful family Christmas Eve dinner
+ Squash risotto, Asian pear salad and salmon are excellent together
+ I gave my brother a frozen dinner (Better Off Dead, anyone?)
+ Christmas morning/day with David's family
+ Day-after-Christmas shopping with sisters (quick, painless, successful)
+ In n Out with my mama
+ Talking my way into a free charger at Apple after mine stopped working
+ The perfect coat (!)
+ The perfect Italian cookbook (!!)
+ The perfect tea set (!!!)
- I have to go back to school in a week
dinner- so delicious!
my butternut squash risotto
o christmas tree
my present to my brother-- better off dead, anyone?
my dress, photo by raine
I hope your Christmas/holidays have been merry and wonderful!

crème de menthe cookies

December 24, 2010
cookies galore
I've been wanting to make these for years but I could never find the Andes chips at the grocery store. Of course, upon finding them in November, I realized I could have just chopped up the Andes chocolates myself because that's basically what these are. For all mint chocolate lovers-- these cookies are a must. There's an essence of creme de menthe throughout the soft cookie which makes them a little extra perfect after a meal. And, when I gave a batch to my friends for Christmas, they asked if I had put crack in the cookies. I didn't... but yes, they're that good.
cookie dough balls
fresh out of the oven
creme de menthe goodness
crème de menthe cookies
adapted from andes

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package (10 oz.) Andes Chips
2 2/3 cups flour

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add soda, powder, vanilla and eggs. Add flour. Fold in the mint chips until well combined. Stick in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Form the dough into balls and bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes. Share with loved ones.

Merry Christmas Eve!

bits of seattle

December 23, 2010
wing luke museum
a portrait by david
the original starbucks
crab pot clam chowder (on the waterfront)
uwajimaya loot
pioneer square
space needle lights
the view from our last dinner
1. Paper dangling at the Wing Luke Museum in Chinatown.
2. Waiting for my buttermilk pancakes at brunch. (David had a sandwich).
3. Pretty macarons at a French bakery by the waterfront.
4. The original Starbucks! Too bad I don't drink coffee.
5. My first Seattle clam chowder at the Crab Pot. Perfect.
6. Our haul from the gigantic Japanese market Uwajimaya. Lots of treats for friends back home.
7. Pioneer Square after Salumi/ The Police Museum and before Wing Luke.
8. Holidays lights at the Space Needle.
9. Our view at Salty's during our last night. David had his first lobster and I had my first cioppino; all while the beautiful Seattle skyline sparkled across the water.


December 22, 2010
a little morbid with the pig there
my beloved finocchiona
window-side seating
so european
It wasn't on my list, but I've wanted to go to Salumi ever since I did a presentation on Mario Batali for my Italian class last year (so basically it should have been on my list but I forgot to add it). Mario doesn't own it, but his parents founded the restaurant in the early 1900's using traditional Italian methods for curing meats. Since coming back from Europe, I've returned to my pescetarian diet so I was a little unsure of what I wanted to get once we finally got to Salumi. The thing is, though-- I live under the philosophy that dietary preferences should never hinder cultural/new experiences. I ate meat while I was in Europe (because really, how could I not in Italy?) and I decided to step outside the box again while traveling to Seattle. Anyway, the second I saw finocchiona on the menu board I knew I had have it because it was my favorite while I studied in Italy. It was a little different than what I remembered, but it still made me homesick for Florence. I think that's the mark of quality Italian food.