I logged into my WordPress account for the first time in many, many months. I think it’s been almost 5. I don’t like facing things I’ve neglected for a long time, my physical appearance being an obvious example of that.
The first thing I see on my feed is an exercise to write a response to a one-word prompt. I guess I followed the blog that creates these things, or maybe it was on my homepage because it’s popular. Either way, the word of the day is ‘Nest‘ and I’m going to spill my reaction into this post. Of course, helpless borderline-featherless baby birds are the first thing that come to mind.
This gif reminds me of when my grandfather would whip out a can of whipped cream…when my sisters and I were young and sugar was a dominant ruler of our worlds. Our eyes would widen with excitement, because we knew that nozzle would soon be aimed at our mouths. There was one condition, though. We had to “tweet”. Actually, we had to “tweet tweet”. It was Papa’s way of getting us to ask nicely, and it always cracks me up thinking he had four little girls tweeting at him while he administered doses of dessert into our pleading receptacles.
A second attempt to interpret the word ‘nest’ brings a wave of coziness over me. I immediately picture my home in Cheshire, CT which is 2,872 miles from my current location according to a quick search in Google Maps. My nest is one day less than a month away.
My family and friends mean everything to me, and I can’t wait to see them this holiday season. I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving and picture me sitting at the table with you.
I crawled into my little sister’s bed because we always take turns doing that when we’re home. Waking up generally sucks, but doing it with another person helps take the edge off. This is how I feel about most “adult things” – yeah, I did just say that waking up before 10 am is an adult thing, because it is. Thank god there were donuts to make it even easier.
Another thing my sister Britt & I like to do is leave the house as much as we can. In fact, I think that’s how we got into hiking in the first place. Where else can you go for free when you have nothing planned ahead of time? Today we decided to go to the Riverbound Farm Sanctuary located in one of the corners of Cheshire, CT. It rained for the past few days, so we figured the water would be more wild than usual. And it’s one of the least intensive walks in town – we’re a little tired, okay?
Here are some pictures of the place that I’ve posted over the years:
As you can see, I’ve been here many times. You see that white house in the back of the outdoor classroom? Unbeknownst to me, it’s been a Quinnipiac Valley Audubon Society building all along. When we pulled up to the sanctuary today, there was a giant white sign saying “OPEN”. Apparently, today is Open Day.
Sitting at a table were two members, maybe even leads, of the Society. They welcomed us, encouraged us to sign the guest book, and asked if we came here often. I explained how it’s one of our regular spots but the Audubon had always been a mystery. I proceeded to comment on the bridge that fell last year, the remodeled butterfly garden and the purple wildflowers that came and went. I felt like I had to prove how much I really like this place to these folks – they are the ones who take care of it, after all. We especially bonded over the mystery person who leaves walking sticks for others to enjoy.
I learned that the man is the person who rotates the signs in the trailhead that tell you the wildlife you should look out for depending on which month it is. The woman was well-versed in the speaker events that happen each month, as well as the bird-watching groups that operate in the spring. I was intrigued over everything they were saying, but in the back of my mind I knew I wouldn’t be around to enjoy what they will soon be offering. I’m about to move in like, a week…I think. Maybe Monday, maybe Tuesday, definitely soon.
After a little more talking, Britt and I began to explore the displays.
There’s so much more that I didn’t capture, and I hope all of you who are local to the area take a chance to visit the trails or headquarters so you can soak in the information, nature, or participate in the events to come. This place being open was a pleasant surprise, and it ended up making for a lovely experience before a peaceful stroll in the woods.
I hope you all have a happy and pleasant Father’s Day! I’m about to go stuff my face with my family.
Additional note: PLEASE pick up after yourselves, people. At my favorite bench I found a t-shirt, a giant Arby’s cup, wrappers, and multiple types of broken cups (glass, ceramic, etc.). Quit the shit, and don’t litter.
I’m finally back on the blog, and this time I bring good news. I’m promising to try my best to share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences now that I am officially moving to Los Angeles 😃 with a job!
You are now reading the content of Reformation‘s newest Business Analyst 💁🏽
I got the news yesterday when the Lead Recruiter from “Ref” called me as I was easing into Episode 4 of the new season of Orange is the New Black. My references checked out, my interviews went really well, and they want me to start as soon as I can.
If you don’t click on the link above, you’ll never understand how cool this company is – THEY HAVE DOGS IN THE OFFICE ‼️
The agreed start date is July 3rd, meaning every plan I made for the summer is thrown away like my clothes I’ll discard that are too ugly for the trendiest city in the country. Every time I think I can cheat life with my own plans, it decides to prove me wrong.
“Drop everything and adapt.” – Life
So, now what? What the heck is my first move? A place to live would be nice, but I know that’s going to take hours of research and overly friendly messages to people who have listed their properties in the Facebook housing groups I’ve joined. Thank god I know people who were able to open my eyes to that as a place to start looking.
I’ve asked those same connections about which neighborhoods I should target, and so far the popular suggestions are: Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and areas of downtown LA, which is where my new office is located.
Let’s Backtrack For a Sec
Two weeks ago, my farmer friend posted a Snapchat story asking for strawberry pickers available Mon-Fri – I saw it and surprised myself with how interested I was in his offer. After he broke down the details of the gig via text, we made an electronic handshake to seal the deal. I picked 6 days out of the past two weeks, and each day left its mark on my legs and glutes. The nights I went out after a day in the fields, I waddled instead of walking and fell onto every couch I sat on because I wasn’t physically capable of sitting down like a human being.
I really enjoyed picking strawberries. I was surrounded by a healthy snack, met some new people, got cash in my pocket, and spent my days catching rays under the sun. I worked with my hands (which were usually stained red) and went home feeling extremely accomplished – there’s nothing better than earning your shower. Most importantly, though, I now have one of those stories I can use against my future children when I tell them to suck it up or be grateful.
The Return to IT
I had no idea I’d be asked to move so quickly if I did get the job. Before I received the big call yesterday, the only thing on my mind was going back to Zentek Farms on Monday to collect more strawberries for smoothies and jam. AND my sister is getting married next weekend! That’s kind of a big deal.
Now I have an entirely new purpose. I’m joining a team of individuals who are passionate about launching this incredible clothing line further into success, and I’m stunned I get to be apart of something so ambitious…AND sustainable! Life is swirling in circles while it flips me upside down, and I’m just trying my best to make it through to the other side.
My sister’s getting married
I’m done picking strawberries
I’m moving to Los Angeles and joining the fashion industry
Reformation’s office has DOGS!
Thank you to everyone who has expressed support since I made the news public. I hope you’ll bear with me down this exciting but soon-to-be rocky road!
I feel guilty that you guys have only read my pissy rant and haven’t heard any of the good stuff we’ve been experiencing. There’s been so much that it’s hard to keep up with, and I’m not gonna lie, some experiences are sweeter when you save them for yourself…like gelato. 😋
Let me reach back in my memory and start at the beginning of our time in Rome.
Pre-mature P.S.: We got a new Airbnb and it’s awesome.
The almighty Colosseum! This was the first thing we chose to see for many reasons – the first being it’s an actual stop on the tram route. This was especially cool because it marks the third New7Wonders of the World that I’ve seen (others are Christ the Redeemer, also seen with Shan O, and Petra. Who knows, maybe I’ll hit all seven before I’m 30 😊). In short, it’s just as big as you’d imagine, and being in its presence is a breathtaking experience. I think Shan and I will spend one of our last days taking a tour of this kick-ass historic community gathering place.
New Artwork Among the Old: Lapidarium
We found this horse and scratched our heads – we hadn’t heard of this one before. After some quick Googling, we found it’s part of a traveling exhibit that’s making a very relevant statement – “we all come from the same place”.
This horse is one of 43 as created by Guastavo Aceves, and together the collection speaks to the omnipresent issue of human migration and Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis. Funny thing is, Aceves began this show eight years ago, before the crisis we are familiar today became as complicated as it is. To read more about it, I encourage you to check out this article from The Guardian.
The Arch of Constantine
Not too far from Lapidarium stands the Arch of Constantine. It was erected by the Roman Senate to commemorate Constantine I‘s victory over Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312. Dedicated in 315, it is the largest Roman triumphal arch. Though dedicated to Constantine, much of the decorative material incorporated earlier work from the time of the emperors Trajan (98–117), Hadrian (117–138) and Marcus Aurelius (161–180), and is thus a collage. Thx Wikipedia.
Forums of Rome: Augustus, Caesar, Trajan, Nerva, and the Roman One
While walking down Via dei Fori Imperiali, one is surrounded by gorgeous ruins that once stood as forums. It’s hard to imagine how these structures stood before they crumbled, but the remains are still a fascinating sight to see.
Here’s a little something I found by the forums that made me laugh:
Rome’s “Capitol Hill” is another beauty I’ve dreamt about visiting since seeing it in the movies. When you walk through the gate and onto the steps, you’re told not to sit anywhere on or inside it – that’s a real bummer when the entire structure is comprised of what seems like a thousand steps. My calves were a-burnin’ 🔥 but the nuggets of information scattered throughout and incredible views from the top make it 100% worth the breathlessness.
Ahh, the cornerstone to every RomCom taking place in Rome. As you may already know, there are a few myths surrounding the famous Baroque art piece when it comes to tossing coins into the water. The first one is an older legend, whereas the second two are attributed to the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain.
Throw one coin over your right shoulder, and you will return to Rome one day.
Throw two coins, and a new romance will come your way.
To throw three coins will lead to marriage.
Needless to say I dumped my whole purse in there.
I’m not ashamed! All of the money in the fountain is donated to Caritas, an Italian charity. And according to BBC News in 2006, an estimated 3,000 euros was collected each night.
All of these sights were seen on our first active day here (after we caught up on sleep from our night without it). Of course we ended that day with pizza – pizza is the best way to end any day! And I’ve eaten it a bunch of times since then…I’ve got some pictures to prove it. But I’ll save that for a blog post entirely dedicated to the delicious food we’ve consumed since stepping on Italian soil.
Until then, wish us luck on covering everything we’ve missed in the two days we have left!
Yes, we’re in Rome – finally! I’m already missing Amsterdam for several reasons, but nothing compares to my excitement for a new adventure.
Traveling Here Was a Bit of a Pain in the Ass
The Night of No Sleep
Let’s flash back to February 3rd when I shut my laptop after finishing the last post. Shan and I headed into the city center one last time to say goodbye to the friends we made at our favorite bar, Café het Dwarsliggertje.
I didn’t drink because I knew we had to leave our apartment in Zuid at 4 am to catch our plane at 7 am – our airline sent us an email warning of congestion at airport security (ugh) so we had to get there extra early. That didn’t stop Lucas and Razvan from pouring us tall Heinekens! It’s not easy refusing free beer in Amsterdam…Shan was polite and drank a few.
Hours of conversation and listening to ABBA flew by and before we knew it, it was 00:10 – we had to catch the last metro to Zuid at Centraal Station by 00:30 🙃 Damn the person who stole my phone – that was my watch, too!
The rickety and slow tram #4 took forever to get to the station and of course we missed the last metro. Our passes weren’t valid for the night bus, which is an alternative way to get to Zuid, so ya girls took a $35 Über to get to the apartment (am I supposed to hate Über? oops). It was 1 am by the time we got back – mind you, we still had to clean the place to leave it in decent condition.
Somehow we scrubbed everything and shoved our belongings into our suitcases. Three hours later we were at the airport and off we went.
Arriving in Roma
From the Fiumicino Airport we bussed to Termini Station (half the price of taking the Leonardo Express train), which is around where our Airbnb is located. We walked a half hour with our tiny-but-heavy suitcases to the house I’m writing this from.
The first thing I noticed about the streets was not people laughing while eating pasta and drinking wine in cute outdoor restaurants, but spray paint…everywhere. And trash. I didn’t take any pics of it but I’ll surely have to so I can show you what I mean.
I was kind of disappointed, honestly. Though I kept telling myself to erase all expectations of our destinations, I had Rome on a picture-perfect pedestal thanks to Lizzie McGuire and every other movie that puts a filter on this city.
I was definitely getting ahead of myself because I’d yet to see the city center, and I’m the genius who decided to Eurotrip in the middle of gloomy winter.
I’ve realized that I need to wait a while before throwing my hands in the air and becoming flustered – new places take time to adjust to. I’m in freakin’ ROME. ROMA. ITALIA. EUROPA. UNA FANTASTICA VACANZA, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!
Relatable Song of the Moment
This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Though the message is about soaking life into your soul and not through the camera lens, I can’t help but hum this when I reach into my pocket for my non-existent phone every time I want to snap a quick pic. I’m telling myself there’s a silver lining to not having a computer in my hand every second of the day #NoCameraPhone #NoChoice
Shoutout Time 🕣
I’d like to take a minute to shoutout two people I couldn’t live without – Shaun aka Kreayshaun Ondabeatz & Julie aka my boyfriend aka Joolay. I miss the days I’d wake up and run with a blanket over my head into your beds to talk about life or ice cream or whatever was the most important thing going on that day. I miss you both and you are the Gordo & Miranda to my Lizzie 😘 #baci
Overall, Rome has been quite the ride so far. I’ll be posting about my first trip to the city center along with all of the other great experiences we’re having. Stay tuned!
It’s February 3rd and today we dropped off ~80 lbs of our stuff with one of the people who’s helping us “figure it out.” Her name is Lindsay, she’s one of my cousin’s best friends, and she’s offered to help store a lot of the extra crap we brought that we totally regret packing into our suitcases. It feels good to have less things to be responsible for and keep track of. Shoutout to Lindsay & Stefan for making our lives a thousand times easier!
Our last night in Amsterdam creeped up on me. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been MIA because I’ve been doing a little extra housekeeping with myself and my belongings. Not only did I have to part ways with the items I didn’t want to say goodbye to in the first place, but we’re still planning the rest of this weird trip we’ve embarked on.
No, we’re not staying in Amsterdam like we first thought…for now. BUT, I am not going to ignore the option of coming back for grad school in September. It’s something I’ve been tossing around in my head, and I think missing Amsterdam in a few days will make me want to do it more. I’m not making any decisions yet…I still have some time before that.
Because this is our last night in Amsterdam before we leave our apartment in Amsterdam-Zuid, I’d like to catch you up on some other tourist activities we’ve done before I go on and spoil where we’re heading next.
This week, Shannon found out she has a friend who’s killin’ the travel life and his name is Kevin. He’s in Europe networking to build his career and knocking out a degree at the same time – shoutout to you Kevin for putting in work! What better situation to meet up with him than to get pancakes, right?
My idea of a pancake is the classic American flapjack stack…or even the teeny ones Shan got that day at Albert Cuypmarkt. Both are sweet and fluffy. As you can see from the picture below, Dutch pancakes are a lil different from what I’m used to.
Pannekoeks are thinner than an American pancake, thicker than a crêpe, and bigger than the plate. I would say it had a sort of hash brown consistency (though it’s not made of potatoes) and it came in sweet or savory. At Pancakes.Amsterdam, popular styles are with ham and cheese, bacon and cheese, ham and apple, or bacon and apple. The sweet and savory is not my favorite combo, so I stuck with something I felt comfortable with.
If you’re wondering, I just about ate the entire thing. #ShanVsFood
Thanks to a YouTube video with 15 of A’dam’s hidden gems, Shan O discovered the narrowest house in Amsterdam. Though there are a lot of slim buildings in this city, none compare to the little guy that holds the record…unless it’s not really the smallest house in Amsterdam but they bought a very clever trademark…hmm…🤔
Wtf! How could somebody live there? Who thought that was a reasonable size for a home in the first place? It looked crazy cramped. I really wanted to see how uncomfortable it was to be inside of, but it was closed. ☹️
Let’s play another guessing game – guess what’s inside of that building called Wynand Fockink? ⬆️
If you’re not familiar with Amsterdam or the Dutch, then your mind probably went to a dirty place. The rest of us know it’s a famous distillery that serves the oh-so famous Dutch gin aka genever.
“Genever is the juniper-flavored national and traditional liquor of the Netherlands and Belgium, from which gin evolved.”
I saw this place on Anthony Bourdain’s 24 Hours in Amsterdam: The Layover, in the YouTube video mentioned earlier, and had a few others suggest this tasting. Let’s be real, Bourdain alone makes it worthy of experiencing.
Here’s a cheesy stock photo of some young twenty-somethings drinking genever the proper way. It’s traditionally filled to the brim, so it’s custom to bend your butt over to sip genever to ensure it won’t spill when you pick it up – making the taste of strong alcohol last longer with baby sips – yum!
Shan, Kevin & I tasted two genevers: one that resembled vodka and one that had something fancy involving bourbon. We all decided on the bourbon. As I gave my full glass a tiny taste I tried to stay down a millisecond longer so I could get the repulsed expression off of my face before anyone saw. I genuinely don’t think it tasted bad, but my body reacts to all kinds of hard alcohol like I just ingested the nastiest thing in my life. Somehow I made it through the entire tiny cup.
A’dam All in All
Being able to immerse ourselves into Amsterdam to the degree that we have has been a mind-blowing experience. It’s given me space to have crazy fun, to learn more about myself, and to remember how extremely grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve been #blessed with.
Tying back to the fact that we left our stuff with a friend in Amsterdam – we’re coming back for them! There are still some things on our to-do list (like Keukenhof) and I can’t wait to knock em off in late March/early April before we leave the Schengen Area.
Now you’re probably wondering where we’re going next…
We’re Going to Rome!
At 4 o’clock in the morning we’re parting ways with Kevin and Amsterdam, and we’re leaving for the beautiful city of Roma.
For the reasons we loved Amsterdam! It’s rich with history, culture, and places to be discovered. Beginning the moment we arrive, I’ll try my best to share our adventures in Italy with you.
And if you’re wondering why there aren’t more pictures from me/my phone, it’s because it got taken at a nightclub in Rembrandtplein. I’ll never see it again 😢 but I’ll try to be better with the actual camera from now on for more pics!
Alright, so Manneken Pis was underwhelming and we hit up La Grand Place within the same first hour. Several waffle places nearby lured us in.
Les gaufres de Liège sont les meilleures
Our waffle was delicious. We haven’t had Nutella in our apartment in A’dam for the longest week ever because we’re trying to be somewhat healthy and penny-pinching, so this was a gorgeous thing that happened. We cherished every bite that was eaten with tiny forks while listening to people speaking French all around us. La perfection.
I noticed there were a LOT of people with waffles – not just tourists. Not only on the corner of Rue de l’Etuve and Rue de Chêne (where Manneken Pis is located), but everywhere else throughout the city. Brussels flexes their best features proudly.
Next Stop, Chocolate
We stopped in to get some chocolate right by the waffle places because the shops were literally everywhere and I felt like I had no self-control. I don’t regret it one bit. We ended up stopping in Planète Chocolat where the woman who sold us our goodies didn’t speak any English. All the more authentic, right? We walked around munching on it while wandering aimlessly and loving it.
Funny thing about this picture of chocolate here…there was a disco ball right by a nearby memorial. Similar to Amsterdam’s Light Festival, Brussels had its own art on display to the public.
The disco ball was positioned right next to the lookout that has an elevator branching off of it so you can take to get down further into the city. I’ve never seen one before and had no idea it was a thing that cities did.
Shannon and I ended up wandering without WiFi into Delirium, which is apparently a hotspot in Brussels. We enjoyed a nice sampling and a horn while we were at it.
Afternoon drinks turned into dinner at some place with weird meats and cheese. I took a gross video of the bouncy bologna but I’ll do you a favor and keep to myself.
Later at night we found ourselves at Le Coq where we met people from the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. I kept wondering what they thought meeting Americans was like.
Our friend from the Netherlands told us we were lucky to have found the one Dutch guy in there because the French were more likely to keep their comments to ourselves. He was open, nice and very honest with us. I appreciate all of those features in a person – especially a stranger. He also introduced me to the Belgian beer Chimay Blue that ended up getting me fairly drunk and very emotional about ordering pizza.
The next day was weird because we woke up in our Airbnb that was kind of an uncomfortable place to be. Like I mentioned in my last post, there were weird cats…so weird that in the morning, one of them pushed so hard on the door what he/she opened it. Keep in mind that I normally love cats, but these freaked me out. I had never stayed in an Airbnb private room before – I’ve usually had a respectful amount of place to myself. I really like that amount of space and would not want to do a sketchy private room again. Lesson learned.
We fixed our weird wake-up an awesome brunch. Peep my pic that’s getting lyke sew many notes on our tumblr taken @ Peck 47.
Idk why but Shannon really wanted a milkshake, so we went on a mission to find one. She found this place called Jat’ Café that was near the Royal Palace, another tourist checklist item, and we walked across the city.
We admired the enormousness of this building for a while and watched some of the guards stomping back and forth before heading off to the park across the street.
SO many army men were walking throughout the streets. They carried huge rifles, and they were there because of the terrorist attacks that happened not too long ago. Just thought I’d share that observation.
The Rest is History
The rest of Day 2 was spent killing time before the bus because we didn’t feel like spending money on a museum while we’ve got Netherlands museum passes for another week, though I was curious about the Musical Instruments Museum and Comics Art Museum. Who knows, maybe we’ll go back for longer in the future while we’ve still got time in Europe.
Fun fact: Brussels is the comic strip capital of Europe. There are large comics painted all over the city.
All in all, we had an excellent time in Brussels. The weather was kind, the food was to die for, and French confused me the entire time. By Friday night I was more than ready for my home away from home in Amsterdam.
Special shoutout to The Sloppy Waffle of Newington, CT for killing the Liège waffle game back home. I’m grateful to have had Belgium waffles back home and was pleasantly surprised to find I haven’t been missing out on the real deal.
Here’s what we checked off the Brussels tourist list thus far:
Why is this the main attraction of Brussels? What makes this special?
The answer is we don’t effing know. We walked up to this bad boy with no expectations and found a tiny statue of a boy peeing with barely a description as to why.
Here’s what we learned from the info provided: The little statue was erected at the end of the Middle Ages when the city of Brussels was in the process of developing a public water supply network up until the mid-19th century, this fountain played a vital role in the city’s drinking water supply system. The original stone statue was replaced in the 17th century. Then a bronze model was commissioned by the municipal authorities from the sculptor Jerome Duquesnoy the Elder…interesting…
La Grand Place
Of course, we went to the Grand Place of Brussels. It’s a cornerstone of culture, history, and food (on paper). Does it surprise you that we immediately bought chocolate, a beer tasting, and a waffle right afterwards? HELL NAH!
Sadly, we walked the streets of Brussels like it was Amsterdam and expected a bar and a tattoo parlor on every block, but instead we found normal buildings…like corporate buildings and stores with clothing we can’t afford. It was then and there we decided to make this mostly about the food
We haven’t ventured far beyond our boundaries yet. But until we do, I’ll be petting the weird black cat that’s in our AirBnB that’s more like a hostel than a hotel.
I wasn’t allowed to take pictures or use my cell phone inside, which I get. But I did wish I had a notepad to record some of the quotes that were sprinkled throughout the house where Anne and her family went into hiding from the Nazis. I’ll share some of my favorites at the end of this post.
I don’t think there’s any true way to prepare for an experience like this. You start reading and transform into the observer – putting your own problems behind you in order to understand something bigger than you will ever have to face in your lifetime. Your heart aches for the hour you spend reading about Anne’s legacy and watching those who knew her speak about the kind of person she was.
For example, Otto Frank, her father, was filmed saying that the Anne on the pages of her diary is a different Anne than the daughter he knew and loved.
As someone who was once a teenage girl filled with angst and confusion, that allows me to try to place myself in Anne’s shoes. Obviously I can’t imagine the true horror and agonizing pain that she endured, but a special place in my heart ignites when I reflect on the things she had to say.
She was kind, sophisticated, and true to herself. She knew her words would carry weight if they ever had the opportunity to be read by the rest of the world. I respect that on so many levels.
On display was her final diary preserved in a glass box, like the picture shown above. Original parts of the bookcase used to enter the annex were also maintained for visitors to see.
My experience walking through the Anne Frank house provided an opportunity to recognize the things I am grateful for – I have freedom, support, and have found acceptance everywhere I’ve been so far in my life (knock on wood). Things are this way because others have fought for them to be.
My Favorite Anne Frank Quotes
“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
“As long as this exists, this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?”
“People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn’t stop you from having your own opinion.”