Tag Archives: Italy

A Year in Review… Asia, Europe and back to the States

9 Jan
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A truck in Hong Kong

One year ago from today I was packing my bags in Bangkok, Thailand and beginning the long trek back home to Florence, Italy. At this moment in time, I was a little confused about where my life was going. I was no longer sure that I wanted to stay in Europe, but I couldn’t think of another place that I was ready to call home. I decided to take the last few months I had before my sisters April wedding and just sit in Florence and think, feel, reflect. Things people normally do when they need to make a major decision in the course of their lives. Well a year has gone by and what have a accomplished? (So cliche using the passing of a year to reflect on ones life but get over it, its happening). In my life, according to my standards I’d say… a lot. More than I could have ever imagined on that day sitting in my Bangkok hotel room.

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Thai food in Thailand

1. I’ve let go of people in my past that had to be let go of (a tough thing to do in life). I think this is something I’m most proud of, since its a very hard decision to let go of things and people that no longer serve you. Sometimes we use the past as a safety net, not wanting to let go for fear of missing out on something that “might be”. But holding on to the past will only inhibit your future.

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Drinking a watermelon smoothie on the Island of Koh Chang, Thailand

2. I decided that I needed to return to the States. After more than 2 years of constant travel, I finally realized that I had to go home for “a little while”. This has since turned into a long while, being that up until a few months ago I was still convinced that one day I would be returning to my old life in Europe (more about that later).

2. I started my first business with my dad and finally listened to his words of wisdom. Examples of Dad’s words of wisdom:

  • “If you make enough money, you’ll always be able to return to Europe”
  • “If you don’t get a job I will stop paying for your shenanigans”
  • “Listen to what I say, not what I do”
  • “Just listen to me, I am the boss”
  • “You probably don’t need to be eating that second piece of cake”

He’s so wise in so many ways. Especially about the cake.

3. okay, get ready, this is going to sound super corny. Reason number 3: I fell in love. When I never thought I would. Did I just get lucky? Was I in the right place at the right time? Did I have anything to do with making this happen at all or did the universe just slowly guide me to that bar in downtown Raleigh? Maybe my dad was right all along, “listen to me and I will find you a husband”. (and he’s the one that convinced me to move to Raleigh, coincidence?)

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Working the Hong Kong metro

I always believed in the power of love, that love could move mountains, heal illnesses, stop a war if you loved hard enough. But I never thought love in all its power could keep me from Italy. But if you asked me now which I would choose, love or a life in Italy? Well, I’ll let you answer that one.

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Wes and myself on his birthday

This past year has taught me a lot about myself and my life. I’ve learned that I can order vegetarian food in thai, traverse my way through the Hong Kong metro system, that the laws of the Italian visa system don’t apply to you if you don’t want them to, that I can give up on old dreams and begin working on new ones, that I can feel so much love in my life that if I think about it long enough it will bring me to tears. All this and more has happened in just 12 months and I wouldn’t change a single second of it, because it brought me to where I am right now, still not completely sure of where my life will take me, but unafraid of where its leading.

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A Journey of Faith

29 Sep

Don’t let the title of this post confuse you, I’m not going to pull a 180 and get all religious on you and talk for hours about how I’ve found my path to God. This post has nothing to do with that, when I say faith, I mean having faith in yourself and in the beautiful universe that surrounds us.

This morning, I was sitting at my favorite park in Florence eating a cornetto filled with cream, drinking a cappuccino, and reading an issue of Bon Appetit that had a feature article on Paris. The weather was cloudy but the temperature was perfect with the most beautiful fall breeze. I put down my magazine to look over at the Arno, “what could be more perfect than this?”. I just felt so content in that moment, and realized that I’ve been so content almost the entire 10 months I have been living here. My baking and pastry program has been amazing, and has already taught me so much, I finally got a full-time job starting in January… everything is just falling perfectly into place.

These little guys were watching me read and stealing bites off my cornetto

Last week, I was so stressed about finding a job and a direction in life (career wise that is), I had no idea how to make a decent living for myself. Thinking about having to be financially independent from my wonderful parents in a few short months made me want to break down in tears, pack my bags and just give up and go home. In that moment I thought back on the words that a psychic in North Carolina told me during my latest reading. She said, “Sara, you are more on your path than you think you are”. Re-hearing these words in my head I decided right then to have a little more faith in myself. I’ve been listening to my heart and following everything it tells me, which is that at this time in my life, Europe is my home. Maybe not forever, but right now, no place else could make me feel so incredibly happy. Why would I ever choose to just pack it in and give up now? After finding a place that ignites these feelings in me? Some people search their entire lives to find a city that makes them feel at home, and I truly believe I have found it. Will this feeling last forever? Who knows, but I’ll just have to cross that path when or if I come to it.

My favorite church in Florence, Santa Croce

When I think back on the things I have done in this last year, I am amazed at my own courage. I think, “this can’t actually be me, doing all these things”, at 22 years old I packed my bags and left my entire family to move thousands of miles away to a city where I knew not a SINGLE person, I couldn’t even speak the langauge. Theres something to be said about finding something that ignites such a passion in you that you’re willing to leave the people you love most on this earth to venture into the unknown – without a speck of a plan, just praying that it will all work out. Even though I am not religious, I feel that my faith in myself, in the universe and in the innate goodness of humankind is what enabled me to embark on this journey. Truly a journey of faith. I have no idea what the future has in store for me, but even if everything I have built here goes up in flames and I am forced to move back to the States, I’d still be so incredibly happy and most of all, grateful that I was able to experience this life, if even just for a moment.

My amazing family – Love you guys! This pic is missing one niece who refuses to take pictures

If anyone reading this could learn one thing from what I am trying to articulate, its this: if you have a dream, follow it. Don’t let your fears get the best of you, because the rewards of following your heart are truly amazing.

Love and Light,

Sara

The Duomo! I get to bike past this every morning on my way to school

Back in Italia and It Feels So Good

17 Sep

Ciao Amici! I have been extremely lazy with my blogging lately and its most likely because I’ve been extremely busy getting back in the swing of things in Firenze. I started my baking and pastry program at Apicius two weeks ago and have been going non-stop ever since! They really like to keep you busy at this school.. my schedule for the last week as been as follows:

Monday – Friday: Wake up at 5:30am head to Fedora to bake. and bake. and bake. Until 5:30 in the afternoon. Race down to the other side of town to make a 6pm yoga class (on Thursday’s I’m the teacher! woo hooo) After that I either make time to see friends at aperitivo or dinner or just decide to cut my losses and head to bed since I have to do it all again in the morning. While my days have been insane lately they are so much fun! I’ve learned how to make bread, millefoglie, biscotti, macaroons, and I have of course got my hazelnut butter cream down to a science. I can roll out short pastry like a pro but if anyone makes me eat ANYTHING else made out of puff pastry I’ll probably lose it. Whats the obsession with puff pastry anyway? As far as I’m concerned, unless it’s a good old buttery french croissant, I’m not into it.

Here’s some pics of the amazingness I get to bake on a daily basis: (also be sure to check out my super sexy uniform – I’m not going to lie the pants are super cozy and I thoroughly enjoy wearing them)

Almond Macaroons!

Slicing up some bread for our bread class

My absolute favorite dessert ever… the fruit tart.

Millefoglie

Biscotti with Almonds

Some more breads of Italy

So thats what I’ve been up to for these last few weeks and I couldn’t be more excited to head back into that bakery in 30 minutes (I know that sounded sarcastic but I actually am really excited – more breads today! yayy)

Breakfast pastries stuffed with apples and butter cream, sounds good but made of puff pastry so no i’m not freaking eating it

 

Life in Italy has definitely been treating me well for the last nine months which has led me to this one thought that has been on my mind since I returned to Florence: sorry USA, I love you, but no, I am never coming back.

Baking!

 

Hello USA!

19 Aug

During my 7 months in Europe, there were many things about America that I dreamt about on a daily basis. These things were menial but still near and dear to my heart. Examples:

WholeFoods: Anyone who loves organic veggies as much as I do should understand this without an explanation. Also, their guacamole is pretty hard to live without. And where else can you really find aloe juice? Everything I need is conveniently wrapped in this little eco-friendly box that is WholeFoods.

I’m also diggin’ the size of this refrigerator

Target: I know I am not alone when I say that I sometimes have dreams about walking through the aisles of Target. The disappointing reality however is that when I finally stepped foot in my local Target, it was extremely UNDERWHELMING. As I roamed through this giant store I finally realized.. “Wow, I do not need a SINGLE thing that is in here”! I slowly walked about of the store feeling stunned, and maybe a little defeated.

Stealing my Mama’s car and going for a drive: When I left for Italy I was thrilled at the fact that I would no longer need to spend money to put gas in my tank, or have to wash the damn thing, and ask other people to check the tire pressure for me. Not to mention oil changes, weird lights going off saying something about oil pressure (that I politely ignored to my Dad’s dismay) and all that other nonsense. Not having a car is so freeing! But I was definitely excited to get back behind the wheel, especially in my mom’s convertible. The reality? Traffic, scorching hot sun burning my shoulders, car washes, and a million trips to the gas station. Yuck! I was so bored sitting in traffic I had to entertain myself by taking pictures…

Driving. Yayyy

Watching my DVR on a giant couch: If you’ve ever lived in Europe, you know that most Europeans don’t invest in giant couches or flat screen TV’s. I don’t understand it and I don’t think its funny. Its upsetting. What am I suppose to do on a rainy day when I have nothing to do? Stare at Facebook for 3 hours? If that sounds terrible to you its because IT IS. Come on Europe, get with the program!

Veggin’ out with the pups.. who kind of hate me these days

Pedicures in real pedicure chairs: This is also pretty easy to understand. I want a decent pedicure at a good price while my back is being massaged by little chair robots. Is that too much to ask?

If you ask me, I think thats a pretty understandable list of Ameriables. (Thats a word I just made up that mean things American’s like).

While I am totally enjoying my time in the States, one thing I miss about Italy is the COFFEE. My sister brought me to a new coffee place down the street from my house last week and led me on to believe that it would be the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. One thing she forgot was that I’ve been living in ITALY for 7 months. I took one sip and had to fight the urge to spit it out across the bar. I’ve taken to experimenting with our espresso machine which also turned into some exciting father-daughter bonding time.

Dad, this would be a lot easier if you’d just do it FOR ME.

At last, I was able to enjoy my Italian style cappuccino, while also using my American style lightening fast wireless internet!

Internet!!

Realizing that I am returning to Italy in 9 days for God knows how long, I am truly appreciating this amazing time with my family. Driving in traffic isn’t so bad when you’re rocking out to the Bieb’s with this little booger in the backseat…

Pooped!

Until next time,

Ciaoo!!

I’m Officially A Yoga Teacher!

28 Jun

Namaste Ponte Vecchio. Namaste.

So here it is. I can finally say it. I’M OFFICIALLY A YOGA TEACHER!

After 6 weeks of practically non-stop practice filled with hours and hours of sweaty classes, soreness in muscles that I didn’t even know existed and yeah, i’ll admit it, a little frustration at the things I couldn’t do, I made it through! and I made it without crying ONCE! My daddy is probably so proud of that last part.

Standing tree in Oureka Valley, Morocco

Here is a small list of the many things I’ve learned during my yoga teacher training journey:

– Patience is the key to any yoga practice. Is it annoying that half the class can gracefully push up into tripod headstand and float through to seated without as much as a flinch? Damn straight its annoying but I know with a lot of patience and yup, A LOT of hard work, I’ll get there. and that day will be glorious.

– That big muscle on the side of your neck is called your sternocleidomastoid. and no, I didn’t google that. Yoga teachers just know this shit. (oh no! Can yoga teachers say shit?)

– Yoga isn’t just a work out but a lifestyle. This is something I truly believe because while yoga has amazing positive effects on the body it also has amazing positive effects on the mind. Its calming and peaceful and I know everyone can use a little more of those two things in their life. Yoga is a community committed to loving and accepting each and every living thing, so I say, “amen to that sista”

While there are many more things I learned this would be a very long blog post if I kept going so i’m going to stop here. Please see another one of my traveling yogi pictures that I’m pretty sure I will continue to take for the rest of my life because they come out awesome! And seeing the reaction on peoples faces when you do yoga in your bathing suit on a cliff in Cinque Terre is just amazing:

Yoga, cliff jumping and swimming… oh my!

(Is it bad that I just got really distracted from writing this blog post because I was online shopping for my first Manduka mat? It NEEDS to be sitting on my doorstep in Raleigh when I get there August 1)

I want to thank everyone at 19r Yoga and Pilates in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy (but especially Melissa and Shari!) for lovingly guiding me through my teacher training. The things I learned from these two amazing women about yoga and life in general has already changed a lot of things about my outlook on life. I can’t wait to continue learning from you and yes, maybe even continue to be a little bit jealous of your killer yoga moves! (I know thats not very yogic of me, but whatever. Cut me some slack!)

May all beings everywhere be free and be happy… Namaste.

2 Yogis and Some Free Time in Florence, Italy

15 Jun

Today, my Yogi friend, Stephanie and I found ourselves with a few unexpected hours of free time. So what do Yogis do in their free time you ask? I’ll show you how we decided to spend the bulk of one beautiful day in good old Firenze.

Our afternoon started off with a light lunch on the steps of the church in Santo Spirito…   This awesome summer salad from the Conad down the block was the perfect start to our afternoon. Anything heavier would have upset our balance and ruined our upcoming practice (we also just had our nutrition class yesterday so scarfing down a wonderfully delicious Gusta pizza would have been just wrong).

Salad! Yummyyy

Because of our nutrition class, I decided to dive headfirst into my health kick… this means a green juice along with my lunch to bulk up on some vitamins before practice.

Spinach, Fennel, Orange… oh my!

Next, we decided to help aid our digestion by walking through some of the farmers stands in Santo Spirito…

More fruits and veggies!

Next up? A mid-afternoon coffee and chat in one of our favorite cafes, Volume. This is a favorite hangout of all the hipster Italians in Florence

Volume!

After coffee we stopped to re-fill our water bottles (drinking only water is part of our new health kick routine) and headed over to the studio at 19r yoga and pilates to get our vinyasa on:

You go girl!

I finally got to test drive my new “yoga time”playlist, we were listening to a combo of Mumford and Sons, Lana Del Ray, Oasis and even a little bit of Sugarland thrown in just for kicks.

The start of Surya Namaskara A

An hour and a half of self practice later we took some time to catch up on our reading… we’re testing out next week! Now its time to study hard and refuel my muscles with some yogi chai tea

The Yoga Mala AKA The Ashtanga Bible

Ok folks i’m heading out to our second class of the day… so get off your tush and get on your mat Yogis!

Namaste,

Sara

A Typical Day in the Life of a (wannabe?) Florentine

28 Apr

After two miserable weeks of rain in Florence, spring has finally arrived! I don’t know if 85 and sunny counts as spring but since the calendar says its still April i’m sticking to it. Florence in the rain isn’t too exciting since most of the fun things are outside (no, I don’t consider spending 5 hours in the Uffizi looking at a million paintings titled “Madonna e Bambino” fun) but below are photos of things I do consider fun and maybe even necessary for human survival on planet Earth…

7:55am: Waking up to a view of the arno and a palm tree.. this qualifies as priceless

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9am: Starting the day off with a cappuccino ensures that more great things are yet to come, coffees from the Gucci Museum tend to be on the pricey side but whats more Italian than Gucci?

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9:30am: Riding your bike to work or school is pretty typical in these parts but since I am not cool enough (or brave enough) to ride a bike in Florence I just stick to walking (so 2011 of me)

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This view however, is worth the slower pace…

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12pm: Attending class at Florence University of the Arts. Yes that is a glass of wine next to my notebook and yes my notes do consist of detailed directions on the correct way to open up a bottle of wine

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2pm: Lunch time! Eating the best pizza (Gusta Pizza!) ever made that also happens to be shaped like a heart… amazing? Yes. Yes it is.

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3pm: The best gelato place ever ( La Carraia) happens to be very close to Gusta Pizza which means I get to calmly eat (aka devour) a post-lunch snack

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3:07pm: This is when I usually meet up with friends who look like this…

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To do things that look like this… (the only way to tan in Florence since the only patch of grass available belongs to a very thrifty pigeon)

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5pm: Since the activities of the day leave me quite exhausted I may decide to take a mid-day nap but if I am feeling chipper I will boost my energy level with another coffee…Image

at a trendy cafe with friends.. (pictured below is Brac Cafe, pictured above is a cappuccino from there but please note that I would never drink a cappuccino past 12pm because it is frowned upon by Italians and I don’t want to disappoint them since I am desperately trying to gain access into their exclusive club)

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6pm: At this time I will walk home to make dinner and devote some time to homework (when I say homework I mean check Facebook obsessively for 2 hours), pictured below is me walking home through the infamous Piazza della Signoria

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7:35pm: During dinner I will usually drink wine from a Tuscan vineyard like this one…

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7:43pm: One can never drink a glass of wine without munching on some locally crafted cheese so I may decide to run downstairs to pick one up from a variety like this…

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12am: This is my normal bedtime after catching up on all my trashy reality TV shows from the States (think Million Dollar Decorators, Its a Brad Brad World, the entire Real Housewives series). The photo below is the desk in my room which also doubles as a TV stand (my TV being my computer of course.. Italians don’t appreciate the science of flat screens and DVR)

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Buonanotte amici! (Goodnight friends!)