New Home in Italy

I start every blog post moaning about how it’s been forever since my last entry, but this time, it’s for real. Last post was about my holiday back home nearly a year ago! Oops. My bad, guys. A lot has happened since then! Big points would include getting married (amazing blog post HERE by my wonderful Canadian friend Kyra) and moving my big butt from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Vicenza, Italy! Hence the different cover photo up at the top, there. That’s actually a photo I took myself of downtown Vicenza! Pretty, huh?

Most of my time is spent sitting around the house, so there really isn’t an excuse for me not to keep up my blogging. Weekly updates, I promise! Once our house here is set up and decorated how I want, I’ll dedicate an entire post to it. I know I love to creep on people’s homes. I’m an avid House Hunter junkie, no joke. So I’ll indulge my fellow creeps with gorgeous interior photos of my Italian villa! Okay, it’s not a villa per say, but it’s a pretty sweet top floor, two-story place in the center of Vicenza. But as of now, it’s not how I would like it. We haven’t received our shipment of furniture from the States yet, so things are kinda hodge-podge currently. Expect the big reveal around the middle of December!

What else? My birthday was this past weekend and my hubby took me to Innsbruck, Austria! First time I’d been back since I lived in Vienna in high school. Such a gorgeous place! We booked a one-bedroom flat through AirBnB (totally recommend, by the way) and spent the short weekend wandering around and taking in the sights. Hadn’t snowed enough to try snowboarding, so we just channeled our inner tourist and soaked in the surroundings.

Downtown Innsbruck

Downtown Innsbruck

We took a cable car up from the main part of Innsbruck to a little area called Hungerberg, then all the way to the top of a mountain called Hakelefar. The views were stunning. The hubby treated me to a fabulous steak dinner at a place called Orangerie, where I had one of the best tenderloin steaks EVER. We wandered the streets, doing a little shopping, and fell in love with all the expensive snowboard gear on every corner. They also had all my favorite shops, like LUSH, The Body Shop, Kiehl’s, H&M, Pandora, Swarovski, and a lot more! We spent a lot of time in the North Face store, drooling over the bright colored gear. They had several Bipas too! It’s like a drugstore that uses a lot of pink for their signs and advertising, and I loved it when I lived in Vienna. I even had a Bipa card, but I have no clue where it is now.

Bipa

Pretty in pink – BIPA

View

View of Innsbruck from the cable car

Orangerie

Steak to die for – Orangerie

Had a freaking amazing birthday weekend. Now I’m back home in Vicenza, blogging on a rainy day and really sorry to have left everyone hanging. Blogs are hard to keep up with, but I’m gonna change that. I need to write all this traveling down or else I’ll forget. Especially with my miserable memory. I’ve already missed so many good months of stuff! Never again.

Peace, love, and steaks,

MCC

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California Love

I was lucky enough to spend most of the month of January back home in sunny California, and I sure needed it! The weather was always a balmy 75 degrees and there was never even a cloud in the sky. I spent most of my time out by the pool or out shopping, wearing my beloved tank tops, maxi skirts and sandals. It’s so nice to not need a coat, an umbrella, a hat, rainboots, and gloves all the time. You really can’t walk out the door here in Scotland without all those things or you’d A) freeze to death or B) get soaked and then freeze to death. Both aren’t very good.

But in California, you can wander outside in shorts and a tank, even forget your shoes (if you’re headed to the beach anyway). It’s absolutely fantastic.

When I arrived home, I thought I’d have terrible jet lag. But surprisingly, I went to bed early that first night and was able to get up around 8 or 9 each morning thereafter with no problem. Didn’t even take any naps! I got to squeeze all the time I wanted out of those beautiful days. Of course, my procrastination forced me to have to work on a case study for school the first couple of days, but after that was sorted, I was free to bask in my vacation.

And bask I did. I went to the beach, strolled down State Street and shopped, hung out with friends and family, and even discovered a secret beach! It was the most breathtaking thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I was speechless for several minutes when I first stepped onto the white sand.

Full story: we’d met my cousin for lunch at a marina halfway between LA and Santa Barbara. After eating, we wandered around the marina and ran into this guy who rented out jet skis. My cousin is a huge talker, so he and this guy start visiting. I guess he made a good impression because as he was leaving, he told us how to get to this secret beach just down the way. I was totally down. I love private, quiet beaches! And exploring. So we follow his directions and stumbled onto the widest, cleanest, most perfect beach I’ve ever seen. And it was sunset, so the sky was a mixture of soft lavender, muted pink and baby blue. The image, I kid you not, is seared into my brain. Here’s what my camera managed to capture, but keep in mind it is a thousand times more gorgeous in person:ImageI’m telling ya, my life goal is to have a house on this beach someday. Not kidding. If I ever just randomly go missing, come to this beach and you’ll find me camped out with a hammock and a coconut. I can’t even tell you what it’s named, because it didn’t have any signs or people on it! Maybe two, really far down the way. 

Secret beach aside, California was everything I remembered and more. Got a lot of shopping in, got to spend some QT with my lovely momma, and even went through and organised my bathroom. Weird, but satisfying.

Now I’m back in Scotland, ready to start my second trimester. It’s raining here today (surprise surprise) and windy as the Alaskan tundra. Not my favourite, but not the worst. I like Seattle rain, that’s gentle and pretty. This hurricane-like rain can take a hike. Of course I say that and then it’ll blizzard or something. You know what I mean, Mother Nature!

Jordan and I are going to see Frozen this afternoon, which I find incredibly appropriate. Just the name of the film, mainly. I saw it already in California and it was fabulous. Definitely don’t mind seeing it again and recommending it to other people! Olaf is the best. Such a goofball! ❄

Try to stay warm guys, wherever you are!

Peace, love, and Frozen,

MC

Happy Holidays!

Hey everyone! So it’s Christmas Eve Eve and I’m sitting in a completely clean flat, waiting for my man to arrive tomorrow morning! Our first Christmas together! (Sorry for all the exclamation marks, I’m just really excited.) I put up two little neon pink trees in the windows, which people walking along the street can totally see. I hope they make someone smile. See for yourself!

Xmas Trees

I’m actually quite proud of those trees. They’re my first Christmas decorations! In years past I would obviously help my mom with our huge tree and all the tangled lights, but those were her decorations, not mine. These little guys are mine and I love them. They even have matching silver sparkle stars on top! Soul trees.

I told Lee we had pink trees and instead of being weirded out, he was excited to see them. He said he already loved them because they were our first Christmas trees and I’m telling you what, I fall more in love with that boy every second sometimes. I can’t wait for him to see them in person! And to unwrap his present. He’s gonna freak. ☺

So happy holidays everybody! Love on your trees (if you have them) and drink some hot cider.

Peace, love, and Christmas trees,

MC

Rain Rain Go Away

As much as I love this city, I have to admit I’ve been rained on more times since being here than the rest of my entire life. Back home, if there was even a slight chance of rain, I kept my umbrella handy and wore my rainboots, just in case. But here, it either looks like it’s going to rain constantly or it can be bright as day and clear sky for miles but rain only an hour later.

I’ve since found myself going about my daily business without an umbrella and not even noticing the rain on my head. I guess this is what conditioning is. I’ve never really experienced having to adapt to a new place, since I’ve lived most of my life in the States. My three months in Austria during high school were such a blur and went by so quickly that I never really settled down there. But here, this is home now. And walking around in the rain like a local is part of it.

But why not use your umbrella? They make such handy small ones now. Well, there are two reasons. One, I’m usually headed out for only a short amount of time and to a place incredibly near where I live. I always figure if it isn’t raining when I leave, it probably shouldn’t be when I make my way back (which isn’t always the case). Two, the wind here in Edinburgh is hurricane strength. No joke. So unless I had a huge golf umbrella with those fancy air vents, any umbrella I tried to use would end up inside out or flying around by itself. More of a hassle than anything.

And if you don’t believe me, I’ve witnessed firsthand these hurricane gusts. Nearly blew me over on several occasions, and I’m not a feather! I’ve witnessed more umbrella deaths than I thought possible. Those poor things don’t stand a chance when a heavy Scottish wind gust comes along. Human beings hardly stand a chance, unless you have your shoulder low like you’re about to tackle someone. It’s hilarious watching people walk around like they’re in a constant state of tackle rushing.

As usual, it’s raining even now, as I type. Love you too, Edinburgh.

Peace, love, and haggis,

MC

Word Association

I’ve been absolutely terrible about writing lately, and as a result I’ve forgotten a lot of things that have happened so far on my Scottish adventure. But as I was walking home from Primark today I had a brilliant idea: word association. I’ll mention an object or place and then write memories associated with it. Don’t worry, it sounds dumb but it’ll help me remember everything! So here we go.

 

Scarf — 

I never really appreciated the warmth aspect of scarves until living here in Edinburgh. I always used to think they were mainly for show, and even though we got some pretty nasty winters in Oklahoma, I hardly used my scarves. I would either forget about them or think they would be too much of a pain to keep track of throughout the day. But not here. I brought some scarves along just to make sure my bases were covered and let me tell you, I don’t go anywhere without one anymore. If you think about it, your neck area is usually exposed even with a coat on, but with a scarf, it’s covered and kept warm. Well duh, right? But seriously, it makes a HUGE difference. So if you live somewhere cold or are planning a winter vacation, stock up on scarves.

 

Primark (a store in the UK) —

This place is dangerous. Not ghetto-shanking dangerous, but your wallet better watch out. And not because there are pickpockets, but because you will want to buy EVERYTHING. Primark has so much stuff and it’s all trendy and current and cheap as dirt. That’s right, cheap as dirt. I bought some heels today for £3. I still feel like a bandit. Half of my wardrobe is from Primark, including two pairs of boots and a ton of skater dresses. All for cheap! It’s a broke girl’s heaven. But it’s also like being addicted to cocaine. I just want to keep going back and buying stuff, so I try to limit my excursions to Primark to once a week or else they would have all my money by now…

 

Lothian Buses

Because I didn’t bring my car over here (for obvious financial and common sense reasons) I travel all around Edinburgh by bus. I have this cool little bus card with my name and picture on it and most of them are the traditional double deckers you see in tourist pictures from London. I love to sit in the very front on the top floor because it feels like a remote controlled bus since the driver is beneath you and you can’t see him/her up there. But as fun as it sounds, I do miss my car sometimes and the freedom it provided.

 

Edinburgh Castle

If you Google Edinburgh, you’ve likely seen a picture of Edinburgh Castle. It sits smack dab in the middle of the city on this high hill and it looks so majestic I sometimes think it has to be fake. I live nearby so every morning, when I’m headed to the bus stop, I get to see it in its full beauty. And no lie, every single day it takes my breath away. I fall more and more in love with Edinburgh with each passing week, and that castle is definitely one of my favourite sights. It reminds me how ancient and royal this city is, and how historic the streets and the buildings are compared to the United States. Sure, I miss the beach in Santa Barbara, but seeing that castle on the hill makes me forget.

 

Fat Face (store) —

I’ve been looking for a good winter coat for some weeks now and after my doctor’s appointment today, I decided to stop in Fat Face impulsively. The name is horrendous but hilarious at the same time. Immediately I saw this gorgeous purple coat and after trying it on I was in love. It has a fur hood and goose down filling. The store is so cute and they have the best stuff. I wish I’d been in there sooner! The coat was reasonably priced and it felt like a little ski lodge in there. Definitely going back for anything winter-related.

 

Soup

The soup here is terrible. (Sorry Scottish friends.) Most of it is like broth. Nothing substantial in it at all. If I could I would have my mother send me a box of Campell’s Chunky soup. That is some good stuff. The only plus is the chilli here is pretty good and I saw some promising options for soup at Marks & Spencer. I really should go there and stock up. With all this cold weather you would think a solid stew-like soup would be the most popular item on the grocery shelves but no, just broth items. It’s terrible.

Well, that’s enough for now! Hopefully I’ll come up with more soon!

 

Peace, love & haggis,

MC

London Bridge is Falling Down

Having journeyed to the capital of England for an NFL game, I have to say my favorite thing about London is the tube system. Yes, it was packed sometimes and there were some creepers, but overall it was easy to navigate and very efficient. The city itself is beautiful and what little of it I got to see, I liked. I know London is much larger than my lovely Edinburgh, but it didn’t feel like NYC or LA. No smog or ridiculous congestions of people, and there were many areas that had charm and character to them. I’m definitely going back before this year is over, and seeing more of the place.

Jordan and I got tickets to go see the Jacksonville Jaguars play the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium, which is the whole reason we traveled down to London in the first place. To be honest, the timing of the trip was bad for me. I had school work to do and a lot of things on my plate, but I knew Jordan had been looking forward to the trip and I didn’t want to let her down. And I’m glad I went, definitely. When we got there and I saw how wonderful the city was, I instantly cheered up and realized it had been a good decision to come and see the place.

We stayed at a hostel near Gloucester Square and it was actually quite nice. There were only 6 beds in the room, fake hardwood floors, and a private bathroom en suite. I stayed in a hostel in Austria when I was fifteen that had 12 beds in a room and communal floor bathroom, so this place in London was a huge step up. Our hostel mates were really cool the first two nights, but we got some real weirdos the last night.

Luckily we didn’t have to deal with them because just our luck, a huge storm was blowing in from the coast. easyJet had graciously texted us to say the train that was supposed to take us to the airport in the morning would be canceled the due to the storm, so we ended up checking out of our hostel that night and staying at the airport until our flight at 7AM. It was a horrendous experience and wore me out so much that I fell asleep on the plane before take-off, which has never once happened before. Take-off is my favorite part but I was nearing comatose status so my body shut down before the wheels left the tarmac.

Back to London. The game at Wembley was amazing! Ne-Yo performed before kick-off and the stadium itself was quite a sight. The 49ers easily beat the Jaguars (poor guys) but the weirdest part would have to be how incredibly silent and boring the crowd was! In America, we scream and shout and clap and have touchdown rituals that range from waving our arms to doing a silly dance. We like to harass the referees and make friends with the fans around us. Not here. I don’t know if it was because the Brits didn’t understand the game or didn’t know what was custom, but me and Jordan were the only loud ones in our section. I shouted quite often, coming from the South where college football — any football, really — is the most important thing ever. I got strange looks sometimes, sure, but screw them. It’s not my fault they weren’t excited!

Here’s me and Jo at the game:

ImageAnother interesting thing was that the stadium was full of NFL fans in general, not just Jaguar or 49ers fans. There were jerseys from every single NFL team there. I guess since the Brits only get one NFL game a year, they seize the opportunity to represent their own personal favorite team. Any 49ers, Redskins, or Chiefs jerseys I saw I high-fived. Fans gotta stick together!

We made some cool friends while we were there, too. One girl was from Texas and was doing a work-placement in a small town in Scotland. Her name is Kailey and we’re hoping she’ll come visit us in Edinburgh soon. We also met some cool Australians who up and decided to travel around Europe and work odd jobs. Jordan was really flabbergasted at their courage but I pointed out we kind of did the same thing. Kinda… ツ

Anyway, that was our trip to London in an extremely condensed version. I really need to blog more often.

Peace, love & save the Queen,

MC

On the Go

I’m writing here from the City Airport in London, waiting on my flight to Italy! Flying from Edinburgh to London was eventful, to say the least. I’m flying all AirFrance/CityJet this trip and so far they’ve been great! I asked for an extra muffin this morning because I forgot to eat breakfast (because my flight was at 7) and before we started our descent into London, one of the flight attendants handed me a goody bag FULL of snacks! There were two Cokes, a ton of muffins, granola bars, yogurt, and utensils! How sweet is that? Very good first impression of the airline. Had to give them a shout out! And here’s a photo for you all:

image

This is the most spontaneous I’ve ever been. I booked this ticket to Florence yesterday. Can you believe it? I threw all my stuff into my trusty Swiss carryon bag and here I am! I have no Euros, I have no power adaptors for Italy, but who cares? YOLO.

I’m just excited to see my man. For those of you who don’t know, he’s proudly serving in the US Army and was recently assigned to a post in Italy. Can you say fate? Now we can hop on cheap flights to see each other all the time! And that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Time to board.

Peace, love & spaghetti,
MC

Moving Day

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, but with the start of school things have been even more hectic than usual. I definitely did not expect to be going to class while living out of my suitcase and sharing a room with Jo. It’s been alright but I can easily say I’m ready to have my own space again. I want somewhere to put by books, my papers, my clothes. You never really realize how precious having your own bed and your own routine is until you have to share everything for a month. Being married is different because you adapt and find balance with your partner, whereas when you’re sharing with your friend you keep your own schedule and way of doing things because you know it won’t be permanent. So it’ll be nice for both of us to have our space again.

Our move-in time is five o’clock today. They call it checking-in here, which makes it seem more classy and hotel-like. We’ve both managed to acquire extra bags this past month, so dragging them down the stairs—on top of our heavy suitcases—and through the street to our new place is going to be the highlight of today. We have to call a taxi and I sure do feel bad for whoever comes to get us. I hope they bring a big one!

So how has this mysterious postgraduate degree been going? It’s been great so far! I really like all my classmates and the more we get into the modules, the more excited I get about working hands-on in the industry. There are so many different aspects I’d never even considered in publishing, so I’m looking forward to exploring my options as the year progresses. Such a plug for myself but it’s true. It’s all about networking and people-skills, which is perfect for me.

All this is boring to most of you, but I’m trying to recap what’s been going on since I wrote last. The most important thing is moving today, getting into our flat and being independent again. I don’t remember who was asking me, but someone wondered how I was doing so far. You know, if I was homesick or anything like that? I said no. I love Scotland and even though I do miss my friends and family back in the States, I wouldn’t change anything. It was a lot harder when I was in Austria, because I couldn’t speak German, I was really dependent on the host family I was staying with, and school was very general and not something I got to choose. And I survived that pretty well, so being here in Scotland where everyone speaks English and I’m excited to go to school each day is a breeze.

And I’m looking forward to traveling! As they say, when in Europe, travel. It’s a lot cheaper here to go from country to country than flights in the States. Once we get our loan money, I’m headed to Italy for my birthday!

Oh, I almost forgot a picture. Here:

ImageWe traveled through the pouring rain on a dismal Friday to the ONLY Krispy Kreme in Edinburgh. It was a long bus ride and then a dangerous trek across highways and roundabouts in the worst downpour I’ve seen yet. Needless to say, Jo, Rosie and I were soaked by the time we got inside. And of course, the rain stopped almost immediately after our soggy entrance.

But it was well worth it! Look at those fresh donuts, all sparkly and gooey… Yum.

Peace, love & haggis,

MC

I’m Not Dead

Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days. After all the excitement of flat-hunting I needed a few days to be normal again. Orientation (or matriculation as they call it here) starts tomorrow, and we’ll be getting our IDs and our schedules. At first I was feeling really nervous, but after I read over my course outline online, I’m mainly just excited!

The year will be split into three trimesters and each one has different modules. I’ll get to attend the London and Edinburgh International Book Fairs, get to socialize with prominent figures in the industry, and go to numerous—yes, NUMEROUS—book launches, literary events, author readings, etc. Straight from the website, people. Isn’t it great?

When I was a little girl, my biological dad always used to take me to Barnes & Noble. The scent of those fresh pages and the hint of coffee in the background is the most soothing thing I think I could ever smell. Although my biological dad and I don’t have a relationship, I still treasure those trips to B&N. Not because he was there, but because it was a welcome escape from the reality of being stuck with him for six weeks, thanks to the divorce decree. B&N was my safe haven.

Every time I walk into a bookshop now, I still take a big breath and can feel those soothing fuzzies come over me. That’s why I’m so excited to start my program, because I’ll be part of that environment. I’ll be working in and around book stores all over the world, getting to spread my love of books.

So that fun adventure is about to begin! I needed to decompress a little before the whirlwind of school started, so I took a break from blogging to shop. Yes, shop. A little retail therapy is always a good thing. And before anyone gets their knickers in a bunch, most of my purchases were from charity shops! That’s right, I got about nine items for around £30. Jordan and I scoured the racks at places like the Salvation Army, Shelter, Cancer Research Center, etc. They had some really great stuff! I got this gorgeous Chanel-looking purse for £2, some cheetah print rainboots for £4, a skirt, three sweaters, some leggings, an umbrella, and a jacket. It’s like a whole new wardrobe but for cheap! I’m definitely sticking to thrift shops from now on.

What happened this past weekend you ask? Well, after our movie-watching experience last Friday, we lazed around. I’m a huge proponent of lazy weekends, especially after stressful weeks. Monday and Tuesday we shopped, but also went to campus to find our classrooms and have a look around, so we don’t look like complete freshmen on our first day. There’s some construction happening to the exterior parts of the buildings but inside it was all new and modern-looking. We walked around and found both our rooms, so we’ll be able to walk in and own the place tomorrow. ☺ImageThere’s my Hawaiian pizza from Friday night. I didn’t have any pictures relating to the past few days so I figured this was a good substitute. Who doesn’t love a freshly-made pizza?!

Tomorrow will probably be full of funny stories, so stay tuned.

Peace, love, & haggis,

MC