Monday, October 28, 2013

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

We have a tradition in my family. Well, that's a lie. We have a few traditions ...

Anyway, cars are a family affair. Definitely. All 5 of our cars are German and all but one have personalized plates. And three of them have plates in the vein of the below. Le Audi ... Das VW ... Le BMR. 

Oh dear.

What would happen if we ever decided to get a Fiat? The poor car would be totally ostracized in the garage ... and it wouldn't have anyone to talk to. Sad little Fiat.

Sherlock Season 3 Premier Date Announced | January 19, 2014

I see a Sherlock marathon totally in my future before the January 19th season 3 premier. Also, a Sunday night viewing party! 

Fashion Flasback | The Beautiful Designs of Edith Head

I love today's Google Doodle! Edith Head. Sigh. 

If you don't know who Edith Head, you are missing out. Truly. She was an amazing artist and costume designer who was nominated 35 times for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design ... and won 8 times! Some of my favorite films of all time are films she designed the dresses for, and honestly, the clothes are a huge part of these films! Three of my all time favorites are Sabrina, Roman Holiday and To Catch a Thief. All three amazing films with wonderful actors and stories, and all three with beautiful costumes. Just mesmerizing and eye-catching, totally representative of the character and perfect for each actor. (One technical note: although Head won the Oscar for Sabrina, many of the most beautiful outfits from the film were actually created by Givenchy and chosen by Hepburn herself, but because of technical changes made my Head and her team at Paramont she was able to be nominated and won)

Her clothes are beautiful. They are classic, stunning works of art that help to transform and bring to life the story on the screen. The characters and action of the film wouldn't come to life nearly at beautifully without her designs and we would lose some of the most magical scenes in movie history. Sigh ... I love this era of women's clothing design. The trim waists, the feminine gowns, the trim little suits, the gloves and hats and handbags. There is an elegance and sophistication that is lost today.

Roman Holiday
To Catch A Thief
To Catch A Thief
To Catch A Thief

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Documentary Review | Blackfish

I am not a huge documentary fan usually. They really have to capture my attention and be a topic I like. Such as the recent documentary Chasing Ice, which I really enjoyed and recommend.

Tonight, I was flipping through channels after Amazing Race and stopped on CNN HD which was premiering the documentary Blackfiish. I started watching and was instantly pulled in. The film is about orcas in captivity. Here is an official description of the film: Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who-unlike any orca in the wild-has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong? Shocking, never-before-seen footage and riveting interviews with trainers and experts manifest the orca's extraordinary nature, the species' cruel treatment in captivity over the last four decades, and the growing disillusionment of workers who were misled and endangered by the highly profitable sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.

I don't like zoos; the last time I went to one I was under 10 years old. And I cannot remember the last time I went to a water show, thought I think I may have seen the dolphins at the Shedd aquarium once. The animals in captivity just really make me sad and I don't like to see that, so I avoid those places. This documentary just reinforces those feelings and brings up many new ones. The film starts with all these warm and happy memories from former Sea World trainers about the relationships they have with the whales and how much they love the animals (and this sentiment is reinforced throughout the film). And from there, it just gets scary and dark. You learn about the terrible process Sea World and others use to capture orcas, the poor (and tiny) conditions in which they live in captivity, the PR coverups undertaken by the venues, and the numerous "accidents" (read: attacks) that have occurred. I didn't really know about any of these and was shocked. But, really, these are wild animals that they are forcing into captivity and forcing to act and jump through hoops (literally) all for a little love and affection. That's just wrong. Some of what they say on the documentary just makes you cringe. Tiny cages. Food deprivation. Bleeding animals. Just horrific. And then you get into the nature of the animals. They are wild animals. Wild animals. Meant to be free; not performing with humans. And we are shocked when they suddenly turn and attack their trainers?

There are some really interesting/shocking facts presented in the movie. For example, the film states that "to this day, there is no record of any orca doing any harm to any human in the wild." Wow. That's crazy. And yet, one orca alone (Tilikum) killed three people. Three.

The film also notes how, in the wild, orcas have a life span similar to humans. The females can live to over a hundred while the males live to 60 or 70. Yet in captivity they only live to 25 or so. And, guess what? Sea World actually maintains that orcas actually live longer in captivity because of veterinary attention and food. Ummm, I don't think so. Sea World also says that it is very common for the whales to have that curved over dorsal fin. Apparently it only happens to 1% of orcas in the wild ... but 100% of them in captivity.

In the wild, orcas don't leave their mom's sides. When they show how they herded and captured the babies from the wild, that was just heartbreaking. Then they show footage of how they separated a mother and baby in captivity, and the poor mom cried and cried. Oh my goodness.

Blackfish is thought-provoking, shocking, compelling, well-made and emotional. I hope it has the power to change some of what happens in that world and how we treat these creatures. They are animals that have the ability to be kind, loving and affectionate ... but they are powerful and wild and we are forcing them into circumstances and living situations that they are not born for. 

Movie Review | The Counselor

I'm confused.

That's pretty much my feeling at most points while watching The Counselor.

You would think, Ridley Scott + Michael Fassbender + Brad Pitt + Javier Bardem + Penelope Cruz + Cameron Diaz would equal "pretty darn awesome". Alas, that is the not the case. Although many of the actors give decent performances for their individual roles, the whole film just doesn't come together. I blame the screenplay. For lack of a better word, it's confusing ... and all over the place ... and random at times ... and elaborate. There are entire scenes that just don't make sense or don't really add to the film overall. Like all of a sudden, you have this never-before-seen character delivering an important monologue and halfway through, you start to wonder "wait, who the heck is this guy?!?!?!".

I suppose the movie does an OK job of showcasing the drama and craziness of the border drug wars, but the story is poorly developed and boring. I just found myself constantly thinking "wait, what?" or actually just thinking about other things because I was so unimpressed by what was going on onscreen. AND ... I am a bit scarred by the whole Cameron Diaz/car windshield scene. Yikes ... she get's very personal with the windshield ... very intimate. (Yes, you read that right) Why? Just ... why?

I am so disappointed with this movie - I expected so much from all these actors and a great director! But like I said, the actors do a pretty good job on their own. Michael Fassbender is excellent and really does a nice job bringing the lead character to life (though I still don't really understand what his motivation to undertake the whole thing is ...). Javier Bardem is cooky as always and even does that funny little "pop" noise/sound he does in Skyfall. Brad Pitt does a nice job as a the laid back mentor type, but if I closed my eyes and listed to him talk, he really just sounded like Rusty from the Ocean's trilogy. Penelope Cruz is just ... well ... meant to be pretty (check). And Cameron Diaz. Oh dear. I ... ummm ... it doesn't work. She doesn't work. Sorry. (BTW ... get off the windshield)

So overall, skip it in theaters.

Too bad, cause you have some very talented actors and a great director in a lackluster film with a boring and muddled screenplay.

Strange Dating Sites

Been watching some late night TV lately ... when I cannot sleep.

Came across these two commercials for two .. ummmm ... unique (?) dating sites.

Ummmm ... what???? Cougar Life? Farmers Only?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Homemade Apple Pie

Remember that post about apple picking? And my obvious "interest" (understatement) in apple pie? Well, tonight I attempted to make my own mini apple pie! Eeek.

Basically, the peck of apples I bought turned out to be a) a bit too much and b) a bit too tart. 

So, one tube of pie crust, a bunch of apples, some cinnamon, some butter, sugar, and muffin things ... And ... Done. Boom. Mini apple pies!!!

Time to enjoy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jason Statham is Hot ... Part 2

Friday night was a casual night in with RedBox and the latest Jason Statham ... Redemption. Mmmmmmm. Jason Statham. And although he starts out rough, he cleans up, does some push ups, puts on a suit ... and helllllloooooo Jason. Ummmmmmm.

(Pause for Google image search.)

P.S. The movie isn't half bad. Typical Statham action flick.

Movie Review | Captain Phillips

Did you know that the studio actually did a casting call here in Minneapolis for the actors to play the Somali pirates? Interesting.

I didn't really know if I would enjoy this movie, so I went into it a bit skeptical. But I came out a true believer ... in Tom Hanks. Seriously, Hanks gives an absolutely spectacular performance from start to finish, and he MAKES this movie. Makes it. This is one of his strongest performances in a long time. He is strong throughout, but the last 5 minutes is just something else. Wow.

Beyond Hanks, the movie itself is very well done. It is thrilling, exciting, well paced, and well directed. The cinematography is also excellent - especially the later scenes when they are in the lifeboat. 

Overall, a must-see in theaters and a strong Oscar nomination contender in a few categories. 

Movie Review | The Fifth Estate

So, I still don't really understand what the "fifth estate" actually is. They explain it at one point, but I still don't really get what it means (or what estates 1-4 are). Oh dear ... that sounds very stupid of me. Oh well.

A few quick things:
  • I am a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. I really really love BBC's Sherlock and think he is an amazing actor, and am very happy to see him making a splash this year.
  • I really hadn't heard too much of Daniel Brühl before this fall, but now all of a sudden I see him in two movies in the same week. And I gotta say, I'm impressed.
Overall, the movie didn't strike a chord with me. It tried, it really did. And Cumberbatch did a very good job, but the whole thing together just didn't work. The dynamics between the leads wasn't strong and it lacked cohesiveness. The first half was only eh, ok. But about halfway through it picked up a bit more. But it just didn't work, it was a bit all over the place.

Wait for the DVD rental. 

Early Oscar Nomination Predictions

I love this time of year. Tis the season! Christmas is almost here. Crisp fall temperatures. Awesome fashion. And ... movie season!

Pretty much any Oscar nomination predictions can start around this time because the studios hold off on releasing anything that is a strong contender until around this time each year. And so it begins, a new movie (or two) every weekend. 

From what I have seen, here are the films I definitely think are in contention for one thing or another:
  • Gravity - Definitely going to get a few nominations. Best picture, best director, and definitely best actress. Also, some of those technical ones too; best cinematography, film editing, sound mixing, etc. 
  • Captain Phillips - Definitely a best actor nominations for Hanks, probably also best director and picture.
Now, I have not seen these, but they will also definitely be in contention:
  • 12 Years A Slave 
  • Blue Jasmine  
  • All Is Lost 
  • American Hustle 
  • Monuments Men 
  • Wolf of Wall Street 
  • Out of the Furnace
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • The Book Thief
  • The Counselor
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Philomena

Friday, October 18, 2013

Music To My Ears

One of the things I wanted to do this year (call it a New Year's Resolution if you must) was see more live music. Before this year, I could count the concerts I have been to on my two hands easily. Sure ... that included U2 and some other big names, but just not that many. I find it hard to stomach the high ticket prices for many shows ...

But this year, I wanted to see more live music. And I wanted to do more of it at smaller venues. Before last fall, I had never been to First Ave. My first show there was Two Door Cinema Club which was sooooo much fun! So this year I wanted to do more. I am proud to say that as of tonight, I went to 7 shows this year. That's pretty darn good ... for me!

  1. April- Purity Ring - First Ave 
  2. July - Skylar Grey - Ice House
  3. July - Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z (Legends of Summer Tour) - San Francisco
  4. August - Postal Service - Roy Wilkins Auditorium
  5. September - Iron & Wine - First Avenue
  6. October - The Blow - Cedar Cultural Center
  7. October - Sarah Brightman - Excel Energy Center
Not a bad year!

Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z
Skylar Grey
The Postal Service
Sarah Brightman
Iron & Wine
The Blow

Purity Ring

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Movie Review | Rush

I look up to my dad for a lot of things. And growing up as an only child and a girl, I looked up to his sports-viewing choices and adopted some of them as my own. He liked Formula 1 and rugby and soccer and cycling ... so I sorta liked those too. I don't pretend to know much about them (except for cycling, I know lots there), but I thought they were cool and I would semi-pay attention. Notice how they are all sports of the more European/international sensibilities? No baseball or basketball or football. Borrrrrinnnnng.

My dad has always been a big F1 fan. I remember he would wake up at crazy hours to watch the live broadcasts from around the world and he even went to a few races here and there. Out of all the things he followed, this is the one I knew least about thought. But I knew it had to be cool ... because my dad liked it ... and my dad is cool. 

Here are the few things I knew about Formula 1 as I went into my screening of Rush:
  • It is way cooler then Nascar is pretty much every single way
  • Michael Schumacher
  • Ferrari
  • Races around the world in Monaco, Singapore, Germany, the US, Canada, etc.
  • Points from each race add up and your overall score for the season goes towards your ranking towards the World Champion title
  • Dangerous
  • I think each race includes enough laps to get to about 300km 
  • Grand Priz races
That's about it. Those are the things that come to mind - though there may be more buried in the back of my mind somewhere. 

So that's what I went into my screening of Rush with. I was definitely looking forward to seeing Hemsworth and Ron Howard always makes a good picture, and I wanted to learn more.I was not disappointed in any of those areas. 

Overall, I was very impressed with the film. It was done very well from a directing perspective and I was able to go into it with little knowledge of F1 and still really enjoy the film and learn a lot along the way. They also did a great job in casting - when they show photos of James Hunt and Niki Lauda at the end you realize just how much the actors look like them! I also read a lot after the movie about the actual people, and the movie does a nice job of bringing in many authentic touches! For example, James Hunt walked around barefoot a lot, and his first scene in the movie is him doing just that!

The one thing I was not expecting though was how focused the film would be on Nicki Lauda. Maybe it was just because the promotional posters were so focused on Hemsworth's character, but I didn't realize the film was going to be so much about their rivalry and relationship. This isn't a bad thing by any means - I really like the angle. I just had not expected it! I didn't know anything about Lauda's story but learned a lot through this!

Overall, the film was exciting, fast paced, sleek, energetic, character-driven, visually interesting, and all-around well done. Whether you are into Formula 1 or not, or if you know nothing at all or everything, you should find it interesting.

One other aspect of it that I really liked was the link between to two main characters - Hunt and Lauda. While they may have disliked each other, they pushed each other to be better and they found something to respect in one another, something they each lacked. It is an interesting story in that respect, in how different two people can be yet still be driven by similar goals and aspirations in life, with completely different ways of striving to achieve them.

And it made me want to speed on the way home. You know ... cause my car is totally a Ferrari.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Am What I Am, I Stand Where I Stand

So excited, I get to use lyrics from one of my favorite song for this blog post title! Win! (Note: This post does have a real reason for being and is actually rather interesting - if I do say so myself - so scroll down past the awesome song lyrics to get to the actual post.)

"I Am What I Am" by OceanLab
I know you've read
So many books
You keep a breast of all the things you think you should
You've got your own home grown philosophy
And it works for you
But please don't try to make it work for me

You have nothing to prove
But you're trying much too hard
Stop trying to change me (Stop trying to change me…)
I am what I am (I am what I am…)
No I don't need you to save me (I don't need you to save me…)
I am what I am (I am what I am…)

I don't want you to show me (I don't need you to show me…)
Because I stand where I stand (I stand where I stand…)
I just need you to know me (just need you to know me)
Just know who I am (Just know who I am…)

Just know who I am...
Just know who I am...

I know you feel
You need to prove
That you are good at something
Everything you try to do
And people have on your every word
That you deliver
With conviction
Though they may just be absurd

Leave your armor behind
Free your vulnerable mind

Stop trying to change me (Stop trying to change me…)
I am what I am (I am what I am…)
No I don't need you to save me (I don't need you to save me…)
I am what I am (I am what I am…)
I don't want you to show me (I don't need you to show me…)
Because I stand where I stand (I stand where I stand…)
I just need you to know me (just need you to know me)
Just know who I am (Just know who I am…)

Just know who I am...
Just know who I am...

So, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, I am what I am. And what I "am" apparently is an INTP. Good ol' Myers-Briggs. Personally, I think that it can help explain a little bit of how you work and who you are and give good direction of how to work with others (and how you like to be worked with), but I also think it is a little bit like a horoscope - you are always going to find a little something in each one that applies to you!

Either way, for better or for worse, I am a INTP.

  • Introversion - Relate easitly to the inner world of ideas and impressions.
  • Intuition - Use their imagination to see new possiblities and insights - focusing on the future.
  • Thinking - Base decisions on objective analysis and logic.
  • Perceiving - Don't want to miss anything; life is likely to be spontaneous and flexible.
So yeah, those sort of fit most days of the week. But then again ... the other's fit sometimes too! I can relate to the outer world around me! I definitely exist in the present and care about the things my five senses show me! I can make decision based on people-centered reasons. And I do like my life to be planned and orderly at times!

Doesn't seem fair. Which is why I am glad they provide the scale so you can see how "much" you really rank in any given area.I am only a moderate in introversion and perceiving, and only a slight in intuition. My only one in "clear" is thinking. That actually makes a lot of sense to me. I think I am fluid on my two closest to zero (Sensing/Intuition and Perceiving/Judging) and definitely see both sides of those in my day to day life. Totally. And I agree with Introversion. It is only moderate, but I know I get my energy from my alone time. And it makes sense that Thinking is my clearest one - the Feeling preference is definitely the one I identify with least out of all of them. 

So, when you look at the straight up type, I don't agree, but when you start to dig into the levels of each, it seems to fit me well.

The first time I did this and realized what "introversion" really means, it was very eye opening. I spent a long time as a teenager and college student thinking I was just a shy only child who really liked alone time in a weird way. I thought I was strange for liking to me alone on a Friday night. It felt so good to realize that it has nothing to do with right or wrong, good or bad. It is just the way you gain energy! I recharge and get energy from alone time, but I can do just fine in social situations and can have a great time with other people. There is nothing wrong with that! Just give me my Sunday alone time and I am good to go!

We also did the Strengths Finder test. I had not done this one before, but it felt very horoscope-like to me ... I could identify with each one a little bit. BUT, it bubbled to the surface your top 5 strengths. Mine apparently are:

  • Deliberative - Take serious care in making decisions or choices; anticipate obstacles. (yeah ... aka: over-analyzing everything)
  • Competition - Measure your progress against performance of others; strive to win first place and revel in contests. (ha ... never ...)
  • Significance - Want to be important in the eyes of others; independent; want to be recognized. (ummm ... yeah)
  • Input - Craving to know more; like to collect and archive all kinds of information. (totally right now ... always learning, always curious, love to save/collect things and organize it and reorganize it and categorize it, etc)
  • Intellection - Like intellectual activity; introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

As you can tell by my ( ) notes above, these are pretty spot on for me! I have some of the other qualities too, but these are my top 5. Of these 5, they fall into certain quadrants. I have one in the Executing quadrant, and two each in Influencing and Strategic Thinking. All well and good. Where do I have absolutely ZERO? That would be Relationship Building. Ha! Apparently I'm an introvert who has no strength at relationship building. That explains sooo much about my life! JK (sort of). But in all seriousness, that is pretty interesting. And my work team, the people I took this with and was analyzed against, all had at least one strength in Relationship Building, if not more. In fact, that was the quadrant where the team as a whole had the most strengths in. And oh yeah, I forgot to mention that 85% of my group is an Extrovert on the Myers-Briggs too. Hmmmmm ... I am definitely a bit outside the norm here.

Implications for work? Lots. I don't work or think the same way as my team and I have to really work at all the things that come natural to them to be an effective team member with them.

Implications for life? It's good to know where you stand. To understand your strengths (cause they definitely translate outside work) and weaknesses.

Now that I have over-analyzed myself far too much for the week ... I am going to go do something mindless. Alone. Because I am an introvert.

This is my impression of me being and introvert. Recharging with some quality alone time ... in Santorini. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm OK With "I Don't Know"

Lately I feel like all I do is read Huffington Post articles. Seriously. Especially the lifestyle and travel ones. There are so many good articles, lists, and photo slideshows. And I very often find myself saying "yes, that's me" or "I though of doing that on my blog" or "definitely must add to my to-do list". Either way, Huff Post dominates my newsfeed.

An article I read today was interesting itself, but I wanted to personally write about one part of it. The article was "5 decisions  you never have to justify to anyone". The third item - whether or not you want to have kids - stuck with me. There have been a lot of articles lately on and around this topic. Couples who choose to remain childless, "having it all" and what that means, the new measures of success, etc. This is just one more article among many on this topic. 

But I am happy to see all of these articles, because it means that the conversation is happening. That the taboo of not having kids is starting to dissolve. 

Don't get me wrong, I like kids. I just don't know if I want them. That's right. I. Don't. Know. I'm 28 and I don't have any maternal instincts or drive right now. If you asked me if right now, right here, do I want kids? Heck no. In the future? I don't know. But my "current self" thinks maybe not. I'm willing to change my mind, I'm open, but I might end up staying "no". So there it is, I said it. Who knows what the future holds? I may change my mind and have kids and have an amazing life. Or I may have a different kind of an awesome life without kids. And that would be just fine by me, too.

Either way, as the article says, I don't have to justify my decision. So there.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My OWN Amazing Race Adventure in Portugal

Have I mentioned that I absolutely love The Amazing Race? Well, I do. Sunday nights are spent watching Amazing Race while running on the treadmill. Awesome, I know. Well, I love all that they do and all the places they go, but I get EXTRA excited when they go places I have already been! 

Last night was one of those cases: Portugal! They flew to Lisbon and they had tasks around the capital and over in nearby Sintra. Made me think of my own adventures in Portugal. Sharing some photos below. We went to all the same places the race contestants went! And they finished at the top of the Castelo dos Mouros. Been there, done that. 

But I have very bitter sweet memories of Portugal as we also had some terrible luck there - car was broken into and some very precious things were stolen. Some things were valuable in terms of pure dollars (electronics, etc), but others were just irreplaceable and priceless from a personal perspective. Primarily, my travel journal from the summer I spent traveling around Europe and my dad's sketch book. And you just know those are the first things the thieves threw out because they didn't have any value to them. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it again! I would have gladly let them keep all the gadgets if they would have returned those two things to us! I am still heartbroken over their loss.

Now that I'm sad ... time to go on with my night and accomplish all those things I put off this weekend. Sniffle. 

Shouldn't These Be For Life In General? Not Just The Office ...

New article over at Huff Post: 12 Grooming Tips for the Office All Working Women Should Know

Good article. And really, things that should apply to everyday (not just the office). Except for #8. I don't agree with that one. Neutral colored? Why? Totally agree they should not be overly long or crazy fake or sparkly, but why neutral? Also, I think it looks terrible when polish is chipped. Bad! Though I admit, I am sometimes at fault of letting this go before I manage to take if off and put a new coat on. But red, pink, coral, black, grey, tan, white, etc. ...  all are acceptable to me. I like a unique color!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Found Photo Opp | Pumpkin!

Hehehe. Okay, I could not resist posting this. As I mentioned in my post all about apple picking, we came across many parents taking photos of their children in the pumpkin patch. This one just takes the cake!!! Or maybe "takes the pie" is more appropriate for the day ... hmmmm. I digress ... pie ... ummmm.

Anyway, see below. Get it? Get it! Baby dressed as a pumpkin ... sitting with the pumpkins! Boom.

The Day We Went Apple Picking (aka The Day I Ate Apple Pie at A Place You Can Also Buy Apples)

One of my "To Do's" for autumn was to go to an apple orchard. I had this romanticized idea of what an apple orchard would be like. Rows and rows of picturesque apple trees where I could walk around with a little basket and actually pick my own apples that they would then bundle up for me. And pie. I expected amazing pie, both to eat there and also to take home. Ummmmm. Pie.

After consulting with a few friends, decided on Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake. Made for a nice drive out there; beautiful fall colors, a lake, a Taco Johns, etc. Upon arrival, the place was crazy busy. Walking into the main area, there was this whole area off to the right with families and fall-themed cut outs, kids running around, and even some musicians playing folky music. There was a hay ride and some other activities, but we opted for just going into the apple orchard itself. The apple orchard itself was rather small, but still had the requisite apple trees. Unfortunately, you could not actually pick any apples off the trees. That was a no-no. Apparently, the apples are just for purchase in the store. Slightly disappointing, but it makes sense. So we wandered and just enjoyed the beautiful autumn day.

A little too soon, we left the apple orchard behind and entered the pumpkin patches ... and the kid-photo sessions. Seriously, so many little kids photo sessions going on. Including ... one where the parents actually dressed their baby in a pumpkin Halloween costume and put him (her?) amongst the pumpkins. Hmmmmmm.

Some more wandering and a few photos later, we wandered back to the barn. Where we stood in line. For a long time. Seriously, we stood in line for a good 30 minutes for the bakery and cafe. But I was determined to get my fresh apple pie!!! And eventually, I did. Yummmm. Fresh apple pie with ice cream. Soooo delicious. I was, however, slightly disappointed that it was the sheet apple pie (a square piece) versus the traditional round pie and a slice. But no biggy ... it still tasted delicious! And I got a slice of the fresh apple with caramel. That was delicious ... great combination of tart apple and sweet caramel.

Then, off to the store! I could not believe how expensive Honey Crisp apples are! Seriously, the other types were like $8 for a half-peck and Honey Crisp were like $17. Yikes! While I really really really wanted to buy an apple pie ... and a dutch apple pie ... and the apple donuts ... and the other special kind of apple pie ... and the apple rolls ... and every other pastry item ... I was a semi-good girl and only bought some apple turnovers to have for the week. Sigh.

And so the apple orchard adventure ended (with hands full of apples and turnovers). I would do it again ... and I would definitly get the apple donuts this time.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hola Barcelona. ¿Cómo estás?

There are at least four places I consider "home" in my life. Two of them are clearly places I have lived and had permanent residence: the US and Romania. The other two are places I have spent many months residing and experiencing a life beyond just "holiday" - Switzerland and Spain.

Back in 2007, I did my study abroad during Uni in Barcelona. It was a very formative experience for me and a time in my life that I look back on with very fond memories and a sense of awe. Except the hair ... I don't have great memories of my hair during that time. 

I won't go so far as to say that my time living in BCN changed me, because it didn't. I way already well on the way to becoming who I am today. I already had all the same interests and passions, I already knew who I was and wanted to become. But it furthered this sense of self. It reinforced and cemented many of my goals in life and turned something that was a part of my life into something that has become a driving force in it. 

I look back on those months in Barcelona and I am grateful for every small moment and memory. I miss those days, I miss the care-free person I was during those days. But I am happy with who I have become as a result of them. 

I lived near the beach, in the neighborhood called Barceloneta. About a 10 minute walk from the edge of old town and a 20 minute walk from the center of the city, it was perfect. Not to mention, I could lean out my little Juliette balcony and see the beach, the beautiful endless blue of the Mediterranean. I went for runs in the morning on the boardwalk and walks on the beach at night, with my feet in the surf. I would have one ear bud in the ear that was on the side of the city, blocking out the noise, while I left the other out to listen to the waves crash. I would walk the streets for hours, just getting lost, exploring. 

Every weekend I would do something different. While my classmates were off for two-day adventures in Paris/Munich/London/wherever, I stayed behind. I had already been all those places and I didn't need to do a whirlwind bar hop through any of them. I stayed and I did what I always do, I enjoyed my independence and explored every corner of the city. All the obscure neighborhoods, hidden parks, and funky architecture. And if it was within a day trip bus or train ride of BCN, I did it. While I may not have formed the lasting friendships of other study abroad goers, I had the experience that I wanted to have. And that's what mattered.

Everyday I walked this same route to school, sometimes mixing it up, sometimes not. I had a playlist called my "BCN city mix" and I would always play it. Even know, when any of those songs come up on my playlists I can close my eyes and imagine myself going down my path. Down the street, past the bakery with the amazing smelling bread, across the intersection by the Barceloneta metro stop, between the church and into the courtyard, down the narrow alley by the cafe with the red awning and down the alley past the Picasso museum, across the street and into the market courtyard, then through the market itself (holding my breath to avoid the fish smell) and out the other side, down the street in front of the theater and cross to school. 20 minutes. Done. 

There were days I sat in cafes by the water and read or wrote. Others that I wandered and took photos. When December rolled around there was the Christmas market in the cathedral square to enjoy. And La Merce and the human pyramids. There was grocery store visits and pate and bread and pastries. There was Txapellas. There was the week my parents came and we had an amazing time exploring together. The weekend I went to Madrid and got to see the final stage of the Vuelta de Espana from the VIP section. There were the nights spent walking. The nights spent dancing. The nights spent at the Fuenta Majica watching the water and lights as they changed to the rhythm of the music. There were nights spent dreaming. There were days spent sitting on the beach. Days spent walking the streets. Days visiting museums. Days spent examining my life.

I wen't back once since my study abroad, about one year later. I want to go back so much, to rediscover. I want to feel the sense of possibility again. That sense of freedom.

Music has always been an important part of my life. This is my BCN Street Mix. I get teary eyed when I hear some of these songs.   

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