Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why studying abroad was one of the best years of my life...

You know the expression, "Living the dream?" I feel like there was one year of my life that I actually did get to live the dream, and that was the year I studied abroad in France.  I know I will never have it that good or easy again, so I'm going to re-live some of my favorite moments of my study abroad experience by sharing them with you!

So, why was it so great?

* I was immersed in the French language, which is something every French major wants or should want!  One of the best ways to learn a language is to jump right in and try to speak it with the natives, which is something I could rarely do in Ohio.  It was daunting at first and I'm sure I made a lot of mistakes, but the important thing was that I learned from them.  I picked up so many phrases and new words that I wouldn't have learned in a regular classroom setting at my university.

* I got to live in the dorms just like many French college students did.  Residing in the dorms helped my American pals and I make so many friends from all over the world.  Because of our experience, I became friends with Italians, Tunisians, Germans, and even a few French people. Talking with them broadened my horizons and changed my views of the world.  On top of that, since my school was an international one, my classmates were also from all over the globe, too!

* The friendships I made from that year were ones that were long lasting.  I am still in contact with many of the people I met while I was overseas.  I actually met up with some of my Japanese friends in Tokyo a few years later and got to meet my Singaporean friend in her home country and in New Zealand.  My OSU friends and I are still in touch, too.  A few months back we started a Facebook thread and reminisced about old times.  I really made some friends for life.

* My friend Mandi and I used France as our base to explore many other places in Europe.    It was so easy just to hop on a train and be in a new city or even a different country in sometimes as little as a few hours.  One weekend we'd be in Italy, and the next weekend we'd be in Belgium.

* I got to try so many new kinds of food!  Before France I never even had fondue!!  After my trip I came away with a love of creperies, Comte cheese, Monacos, St. Emilion wine, and peche melba, to name a few.

* So many things got crossed off my bucket list that year it's not even funny!  I'm so grateful and amazed that I even got to do all of these things in such a short span of time.

I rode in a gondola in Venice.

Mandi and I went to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest.

We also signed up to go to wine tastings in Bordeaux.

We kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland.

We went up an Alp in Switzerland.

We traveled to Eastern Europe.

We got to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

We visited Stonehenge.

We spent New Year's in Paris.

We toured the Colosseum and Vatican.

* I left Europe having had a full set of adventures and in many ways I grew up a lot that year.  I became more independent than I ever was at home because in France I was challenged to communicate in another language.  Having this opportunity and being immersed in the French culture helped me to learn more about my own culture and background.  The whole experience made me a lot more open minded, and I came back to the States with a deeper understanding of global issues because I learned about others' perspectives as well.

* Even though my trip happened over a decade ago, I continue to find myself hysterically laughing at a memory that will randomly pop into my head from my time in Europe.  Thanks to my studying aboad, I am still very passionate about traveling and having experiences abroad even today.

Studying abroad was hands down the best decision I ever made!

What is something that you've done that you do not regret at all?  Speaking of things you shouldn't regret, why not take a shot at winning this fabulous Whitney English Day Designer?


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

32 Things That Make Me Happy

I saw Erin's link up floating around in Blogland last week, but I decided that I wanted to write it this week because this will be the last week that I'm 32 years old and for some reason that was the number chosen, so it seemed appropriate. :)  Without further ado, here is my list (in no particular order)...

1) Manicures that don't chip for a whole week
2) Memories of my grandparents
3) Just about anything floral

4) Getting and sending snail mail to my friends--I especially love postcards!
5) My birthday month
6) Sunny days
7) Home cooked meals with good company
8) Freebies
9) Shopping sprees
10) Unexpected compliments
12) Making payments on my student loans (I feel like I've accomplished something when the numbers go down!)
13) Pleasant surprises like a nice e-mail or encouraging message.
14) Vacation
15) My sisters

16) Having a Master's and knowing that no one can take that away from me.
17) Paydays!
18) Tom's shoes--They are so comfy!
19) Losing weight without trying
20) Finding something I thought that I had lost forever
21) Europe

22) Casual Parties
23) Driving a freshly cleaned car
24) Finding the perfect shade of lipstick
25) Paying it forward
26) Discovering new blogs to read
27) Mutual support and positivity in Blogland
28) Pastel polish in the spring
29) Puppies
30) Being independent
31) Accomplishing goals
32) Writing in pretty notebooks

Do any of these things make you happy?

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up

The beginning of my week was spent in North Carolina with my sister.  On Monday we went to downtown Wilmington and explored the historic district.  There were a lot of unique shops of all kinds to browse including ones that sold clothes, shoes, jewelry, art, antiques, books, and sweets.  We visited The Cotton Exchange which had a variety of boutiques all in one building.  Neither of us ended up buying anything, besides an iced mocha at a place called Italian Gourmet Market and Cafe, but we both still had an amazing time hopping from store to store.  We also walked along the waterfront for a little bit and my sis paused for a picture with the iconic battleship.

After our little adventure in downtown Wilmington, we headed to Mayfaire Town Center, which is an outside mall.  As promised in my April Wallet Watch post, I did not go on a crazy shopping spree, though I'm sure I could have.  Instead, I just bought an Essie polish and a cute pair of earrings from Francesca's.  When my sister and I got back to New Bern, her husband joined us for a nice dinner at Morgan's.  They said that most of their friends tell them that Morgan's is the best restaurant in New Bern, so that's why we gave it a chance.  I have to say that my food was delicious--I ordered pasta with scallops and shrimp.  How can I not order seafood when the coast is so close to New Bern?

On Tuesday, my sister and I got up early and she took me to her gym on a guest pass so that we could take a yoga class.  The class we took was called Power Yoga and it was my first time going to a yoga class at a gym with an instructor.  We started off by lying on our mats listening to music and just relaxing, and of course my sister and I began to laugh uncontrollably.  I really thought we were going to get asked to leave!  Luckily, our instructor tolerated us and we continued on with the course.  My sis says that yoga relaxes her but that it doesn't work her out.  I was so sore for the next few days and realized that I'm incredibly weak!  Some of those poses were really hard to hold and my whole body was shaking.  I think I would be interested in joining a yoga class sometime.

My sister took me to a place she likes in downtown New Bern called The Accidental Artist.  There are all sorts of mugs, bowls, plates, and tea cups and pots that can be painted and decorated.  Then, the workers at the shop will fire them and they will be available in a few days.  Since there isn't a shop like that around where I live, I decided that I for sure wanted to paint a big mug that could also double as a bowl.  I don't consider myself to be an artistic person, but painting the mug was a lot of fun and kind of relaxing.  Unfortunately, the mug wasn't going to be ready by the time I was to leave NC, so my sister will just have to pick it up for me.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!

For dinner, we went to a fancy restaurant called Persimmons.  I loved the atmosphere inside the restaurant because there were large, glass windows so that we were surrounded by water on three sides.  While we were eating, we saw a couple of guys on their paddle boards.  I personally do not know if I would have enough guts to tube or paddle board on the Neuse is full of alligators.  My sister's Southern husband told us that we were silly and that the alligators were tiny at "only 6 feet long."  I don't know...being a Northerner, I never had to worry about that and so the thought freaks me out!  Just last week an alligator ate a dog in Eastern NC.

Wednesday was my last full day in North Carolina, so we decided to go on a long walk around New Bern and ate lunch at Cow Cafe, which is pretty much an ice cream parlor that also serves a few items for lunch.  I told my sister that I love walking around downtown New Bern and that I would be taking advantage of that if I lived there!  My sis said she loves living in New Bern and it is the perfect place for her because it doesn't get too touristy, and the beaches are just a short drive away.

On Thursday, much to my dismay I flew back to Ohio.  My flight back was rather unpleasant...Some dumb guy was sitting in my seat, and I kept telling him that it was my seat, but he wouldn't listen because he wanted the aisle seat.  I thought that was beyond rude and almost got the flight attendant to kick him out of my seat and move to the window seat...I don't know... If he would have ASKED me to switch, it would have been one thing, but I even sat by the window and he still didn't even say thank you!  It made me really mad, haha... On top of that an obese man was right between me and the seat stealer and his legs were pressed against my legs the whole trip.  Thank goodness that it was a short flight!  When I got back to Columbus, my dad was waiting for me in the airport and he took me home.  He told me that while I was gone he cleaned the inside of my car, washed and waxed the outside, got me new windshield wipers, took my car in for an alignment, and got me two new tires.  He said that was my birthday present, which that works for me.  I hate having to deal with car stuff and seriously didn't know that it need to be aligned.  Then, my dad took me out to Bob Evans and I headed home for a nice nap. :)

On Friday, I had to go back to work and I subbed a kindergarten class that I often sub for because the regular kindergarten teacher had to do the screenings for next year's class.  After subbing, I met two of my work pals at an old firehouse so that we could play Bingo.  On the month of your birthday, you don't have to pay the $20 to play, so I couldn't pass that up!  The three of us had a great time, although none of us won anything.

On Saturday and Sunday, I worked both days and then last night my boyfriend took me out to Rooster's to get some wings.  All in all it was a great week! :)

Weekly Wrap Up Rules:

1) Follow your hosts Rachael @ The Rachael Way and Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie.
2) Share what you have been up to this past week and link your post up with us every Monday.
3) Hop around and comment on at least two other people's posts. 

4) Link your post back to us in some way. We have a cute button for you to grab. :)
5) Have fun reading about how other bloggers spent their week!

Ameliorer la Vie

Our co-host for the week is Jessica @ Anchored in CLE.  If you link up, make sure that you follow her, too.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

S'Mores Cookies

For my sister's bridal shower, I included an index card with everyone's invitation and asked them to write out one of their favorite recipes and to bring it with them on the day of the shower.  My sister said that she uses the recipes she was given all the time.  When I went to visit her, we decided to make some S'Mores cookies together, which was one of the recipes she got on the day of her shower. :)

Ingredients for S'Mores Cookies

1 ½ c all purpose flour
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 dash cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened
¾ c sugar
¾ c brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 c miniature chocolate chips
1 ½ c mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon.

3.  In a second larger bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4.  Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
5.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.
6.  Bake for 8 minutes and remove from oven.  Push 3-6 marshmallows and a few pieces of the Hershey bar into each cookie.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked.  Yields approximately 4 dozen cookies.

As you can see, we made our cookies a little too large and some of them baked into each other, so we'll keep that in mind for next time. Otherwise, they came out great and tasted fabulous!  


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Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up

My week was actually pretty amazing compared to the snooze fests of weeks that I've been having!

Monday: I worked an open shift at the movie theater which will probably never happen again.  I only got that shift because my boss usually works it, but he was in Las Vegas, so I covered it.  It was nice because we were slow, so my co-worker asked me if I would like to do people's evaluations for almost the whole shift.  I used to do pretty much all of the evals where I used to work, but since I transferred theaters and didn't really know a lot of the workers, I haven't been asked to do any.  I guess they figure that I now know the workers well enough to evaluate them.  While I was at work, I got a call from the secretary at a school I've been subbing for all year long.  She told me that she had a proposition for me and asked me if I would be willing to take a long-term sub position for the last three weeks of May.  I thought about it for about 5 seconds and then realized that YES, I would really like to do that.  It's in a school district that I like, in a grade level that I prefer (1st grade), and it will look wonderful on my resume.  Plus, since I will be teaching them through the end of the year, they will be "my" kids for a little.  :)  I'm really looking forward to this opportunity, and the secretary told me that they were happy to have me.  For dinner, I met my mom and dad at a cute cafe that specializes in desserts.  They also have homemade organic soup that taste pretty amazing! I opted for the red pepper and then had a lovely time catching up with my parents.

Tuesday:  I subbed just a half day for a kindergarten class I've subbed for quite frequently.  There is a student teacher currently observing in there, so it made me a little nervous, but the gal was really cool and she is an OSU student, so we basically had the same professors and supervisors.  After subbing, I met Rachael at Menchie's and we talked about some of our experiences in the classroom and chatted about our respective teaching programs.  Then, the two of us headed over to the movie theater that I work at to go and see Divergent.  Both of us really enjoyed the movie!  Usually I tend to prefer the book over the movie, but I thought this flick was well done.  

Wednesday: Since this was my first day off in awhile, I did all that boring stuff like laundry and cleaned my room.  I also ran some errands and went shopping at Target for a few things I needed for my upcoming trip to North Carolina.  My roots were also looking pretty bad, so I got some fresh highlights put in.  I'm so glad that I finally found a good hairdresser in the area.  The last lady that I went to cut my hair terribly and it looked like a mullet!  I also made something I had been wanting to do for awhile, which was to make my leftover foreign coins into magnets.  

Thursday: I finished packing, read the latest issue of Marie Claire, and watched some Breaking Bad before I went into work.  I was so mad because I got scheduled til 3AM, and I was flying out on Friday morning for my vacation.  Another manager told me that I could leave at 1:15 if I wanted to because there was an extra manager working til 3AM.  If I had been the only one scheduled that late, I wouldn't have been allowed to leave, so everything worked out in my favor!  Wahoo! 

Friday: I flew from Columbus to New Bern, with a layover in Atlanta.  By the time my plane landed in Atlanta, my next flight was already boarding.  Stressful!!  I made it to the correct gate just as they were announcing the last call for my flight to New Bern and everyone else on the plane was already seated.  When I got off the plane, I was so happy because the sky was BLUE and it was 90 degrees, which was a big improvement from what I'm used to in Ohio!  When I left Ohio, it had rained for the past day and a half, and there was heavy fog and high winds.  My sister and her husband greeted me at the airport, and my sis had a Snickers cupcake waiting for me.  They took me to the Atlantic Beach area and we went to a restaurant called Channel Marker, which is known for having extremely fresh seafood.  They were running a special set menu when we were there, so I had a three course meal for $25.  I was starving for it after only eating pretzels all day on my flights.  I got shrimp for an appetizer, tuna for the main, and a half of a piece of orange pineapple cake.  We decided to take a stroll on the beach after our meal and it was perfect timing because the sun was setting, so it was just really beautiful!  There was even a wedding going on while we were there. Afterwards, we drove back to New Bern, and I finally got to see my sister's house!  It was one of my goals for 2014 to make it out here, so I'm so glad that everything worked out this time.  I loved seeing my sister's house in person because she told me allll about it.  She's so into decorating it and has done a great job with it so far--several of the rooms are beach themed, since she got married on the beach and just loves going.  She also surprised me with some early birthday gifts, which I wasn't expecting at all.  She knows me so well--she got me Essie polish in Bikini So Teeny and some adorable earrings from Francesca's, to name a few of my favorite ones. 

My room for the week :)

Saturday: The day started with Denise making me crepes with strawberries and whipped cream.  She even bought a jar of Nutella for me because she remembered that I liked it a lot.  She is really spoiling me!  We decided to go out and tour Tryon Palace, which is one of New Bern's biggest attractions.  It was residence to the governor of North Carolina and was actually the location of North Carolina's first capital.  We got to tour the home of the governor, which was pretty neat, although Denise told me she thought I would think it was lame since the last time we were together we toured the Biltmore, which is far more grand and extravagant.  We took a 45 minute guided tour and then explored the gardens on our own.  Next, we headed to the local Farmer's Market and browsed around.  There were vendors of all sorts, and we stopped and sampled some peach salsa, recommended by Denise.  Next, we walked into and around downtown New Bern.  Something that was interesting to me is that I visited, Bern, Switzerland which is what New Bern was named after.  The two cities are sister cities, and there are bear statues as well as wooden bear carvings in the city center.  We explored the city on foot, and Denise showed me some of her favorite shops and restaurants.  Some of the shops we stopped in were Bear Essentials, Bear City Fudge Company, Mitchell Hardware, Carolina Creations, and The Boat House.  We also stopped at the place where Pepsi was invented--it used to be a drugstore.  You can go in and order a Pepsi, which we did.  There is also a gift shop on the other side.  Since Pepsi is a huge company, I expected this to be a much bigger deal than it was. There isn't really that much information on the history of Pepsi or many beverages to choose from to drink.  I still had fun there and enjoyed my experience, but don't expect it to compare to the famed Coke museum of Atlanta!  Don't get me wrong, I thought it was cute and it was a great place to stop and cool off after walking for awhile.  Denise and I started to get hungry, so we headed back to her house.  She had prepared some chicken wraps and pico de gallo for us--I loved the pico de gallo so much that I might just share the recipe on here some time in the future. :)  Then the two of us went to a state park with Denise dog, Maddie.  We walked along the beach and then let Maddie off of her leash and had her run back and forth to us.  Next, we went for a hike in the woods for awhile.  The weather was perfect, and so were my companions. 

Sunday:  So not only is Denise giving me the royal treatment here in NC, but her husband was also nice enough to make us breakfast.  He cooked us omelets with cheese, bacon bits, tomatoes, red and green peppers, and mushrooms.  As a side, we had some banana bread that Denise baked before I got here.  I don't know how she finds the time to do all of this!  Then we headed to Emerald Isle so that we could go shopping, ride bikes, and have a picnic.  We did the shopping and checked out most of the stores in Emerald Plantation like Sunkissed Memories and Elly's.  I bought a pair of sunglasses--a girl can never have too many, right?  Denise got some home decor items from a couple of stores.  We had our picnic lunch, but it got a bit chilly with the wind.  By the end of our lunch, the three of us were cold and decided that it would not be that pleasant of a bike ride, so we went and had ice cream (the perfect thing to do when you're cold, obviously) at The Sweet Spot.  I love it how the workers there are trained to say, "Is that enough, or do you want some more?"  Denise told me that she always says it's not enough and has them add more! Ha!  After our Emerald Isle shopping adventure, we decided to get pedicures.  I also got a manicure and was more than happy to see that the place had several bottles of Essie polish to pick from.  I decided on Mint Candy Apple because I wanted something that screamed spring...especially because I'm going to want to scream for spring the minute I set foot back in Ohio.  There was a wait and we didn't get out of there until 6:15 and the place actually closed at 5, so they were really nice for taking us and also not rushing on us so that they could get out of there.  Afterwards, Denise's husband grilled us some burgers and Denise made some asparagus for us...and I'm finishing up my week by writing this post and possibly some Netflix with Denise here in a few!  

Overall, it has been probably the best week I have had all year so far!!  

Weekly Wrap Up Rules:

1) Follow your hosts Rachael @ The Rachael Way and Lisa @ Ameliorer la Vie.
2) Share what you have been up to this past week and link your post up with us every Monday.
3) Hop around and comment on at least two other people's posts. 

4) Link your post back to us in some way. We have a cute button for you to grab. :)
5) Have fun reading about how other bloggers spent their week!

Ameliorer la Vie

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