Monday, April 30, 2012

Tea and Parsnip Cake

In honor of my roomie Andi's last night here in Galway she had a little tea party with a bunch of the study -broad girls. Since my housemates have been whipping up some amazing meals recently I figured it was my turn to try my hand in the kitchen. I made Parsnip Cake, it turned out pretty amazing so I was quite excited. Tea and biscuits plus parsnip cake and some great girls (with a little Jenna Marble and youtube lessons on Grinding for entertainment) made for a grand night.

I've tried a few of the other recipes posted on the Sorted youtube channel and they've all been amazing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Market

Before leaving home for Ireland I was told to try the fresh doughnuts from Saturday Market in Galway. It was truly wonderful advice. Dan-the-doughnut-man makes the doughnuts right there in front of you when you order them. One is only 70cents, but honestly who has the self control to buy only one single doughnut when you can buy 6 for 3.50?

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I love the internet. It allows me to chat face-to-face with friends in different time-zones, countries, and on the other side of a significantly sized ocean. Plus wonderful Youtubers to watch and Facebook to keep me updated on friends' big milestones and little first-world-problems. Though there are exceptions: StumbledUpon = never gotten into it, Tumbler = baffles me, and Twitter = only seems logical with a smartphone.  To be fair though I'd most likely get hooked if I spent a bit of time on them. I didn't understand Pinterest before either, it wasn't that I disliked it or anything. I just sincerely did not grasp what it did.  To solve my befuddlement I spent an afternoon poking around on Pinterest. Although I'm still not positive exactly what purpose it serves, and I'm not fully addicted yet, I was indeed won over by this little bit of brilliance that I came upon:
Source: via Megan on Pinterest

My bedroom, bathroom, couch, and anyone-who-lives-with-me-and-is-to-any-degree-opposed-to-bobby-pins-everywhere would very much benefit from this clever idea.

And I suppose the crafty/home improvement ideas and inspiration side of Pinterest is what makes the most sense to me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cabin in the Woods

'We should split up'  'Yeah'  'Yeah'  'Really?!?'
It was amazing. Full stop.
As the Irish would say, or It was amazing. Period. as the yanks would say. Either way I loved The Cabin in the Woods. And that's saying something because I can count on one hand all of the horror films I've ever watched, much less enjoyed. When the trailer came out I was torn, because I equal parts hate horror films and love Joss Whedon. (Whatever Netflix says, Buffy is not horror. So even if I've given 7 seasons of Buffy and 5 seasons of Angel five stars, I do not need all the horror films suggestions you silly silly site.)  But the 4 euro deal on Tuesdays sold me and I decided to go see it. And yes Cabin in the Woods was a horror films with scenes that made me jump and even got a few surprised squeals out of us, but it was a very knows-that-it's-a-horror-movie-style-Joss-film. I loved the scenes in the hunger-games'-game-master-style-office with the Harbinger of Death on speaker phone. Plus the actors who play Fred and Andrew and Topher popping up made my day. The ending was perfect. And I'm pretty stoked to re-watch it to catch more of his insights about stories. The moral of this story was either keep your shirt on, or it was smoke a lot of weed. Important life lessons all around. My favorite quote was either the last few lines of the film or the Firefly reference of "They may be zombified pain-worshipping backwoods morons" "But they're our zombified pain-worshipping backwoods morons." Did I mention I love Joss Whedon? Cause Joss Whedon is amazing. Full stop.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cliffs with the Consumption Ward

Thursday we took a tour to the Cliff of Moher and the Burren area, despite all my visitors' terrible coughs which sounded like the consumption-ward-choir. We took the same company: Lally Tour (and still got the same driver Martin that we've now had five times on tours of two different regions-- I'm beginning to think their guides are an army of clones) Instead of stopping at the Allwee Caves first like we did when I went with Emily and Katie last month, we stopped at a farm; I think because we had a group on the tour from Dublin for a day-trip to the west coast of Ireland, it was pretty exciting. At the family-farm-turned-family-farm-with-tours-and-fresh-pie-to-boot.  We got a nice little tour of the farm, and a fun walk up the hill behind the farm-house so we could see more of the burren landscape. Burren comes from the Irish for "rocky-place" which is a ten-points-for-captain-obvious sort of name. Yet, despite how rocky it is the limestone covering the area holds in heat and water allowing a huge range of plants to thrive. Everything from Alpine-wild-flowers-like-blue-genetry to palm-trees can grow in the Burren since it nearly never frosts. Our guide explained the fairy-tree where you tie something to a branch and leave your problem behind, and ruins of seven churches and the famine walls-- stone walls you can see crossing over all the mountains dividing nothing from nothing and keeping nothing out of anything, they were built for woolly-brained-land-lords in exchange for soup during the Great Famine.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oysters of awesomeness

At the Museum Cafe with cake and salad, a well balanced meal.  
We started out the day by getting breakfast at Griffins Cafe and it was delicious. This was a theme for the day, food which was delicious. Sadly the hard-core-Ireland-cough-germs started to get the best of my lil-bro and my dad so they headed back to the hotel to rest up, while my big-bro and sis-in-law and I headed back to the Galway Museum since it was not Monday and therefore it was open. We checked out the exhibits and then got super-duper-delicious snacks from the Kitchen Cafe downstairs of the museum.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Good Day, Bad Weather

After the Aran Islands with Jamie and Jessie, it seems like a fun trip to go on with my family guests as well. The forecast for the entire week was heavy storms, but we decided to chance it. The weather got the best of us in that wager. It started out with extremely choppy water all the way over. On the ferry to Inis Mor we confirmed that McCormack-genes do not come with sailor-stomachs standard issued.  Having already taken my turn with puking on the ship, I braced myself by the railing with the sea spray while everyone else fought or gave into the puking. At least the little boy sitting behind us enjoyed the ups-and-downs-and-side-to-sides with glee-full-giggles and happy little squeals.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shop Street and a Bloody Window

We deciphered most of the Bible
stories in the stain-glass-windows. 
AJ found a book written by
his alter-ego WJ McCormack
 We spent the day in Galway with breakfast at Revive Cafe, then Shop Street for T. Dillon's: the official-and-original-makers-of-the-Claddagh-Ring, Charlie Bryne: the best book store ever, St. Nick's: the really old church, and the Cathedral: the really big church, and the Spanish Arch and other sights around Galway. The cathedral has a stain-glass-window with the world's bloodiest ever scene of Cain and Able, it was quite intense-- so much red!!! Turns out the little Galway Museum is closed on Mondays, but everything else was open until 6 or 7 when everything here starts closing. (A little early in my huble opintion) We got dinner at the King's Head -- a pub in the old stone house built by the executioner of King Charles II. And the crazy impressive sheets of rain didn't start until we were safely back inside for the night, wonderful timing on the part of the clouds.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blogging from a bus

Both GoBus and CityLink have direct Galway to Dublin routes, complete with not only bathrooms, but also free wifi, what more could a traveler need?
So although today is not done yet, I'm going to post, cause I find it pretty cool that I can connect to the inter-webs while rolling down the road at some-amount-of-kilometers-an-hour. And it's the 15th so I've officially Blogged-Half-The-Month-of-April! Yay for BEDA milestones.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Last time I visited Dublin with Jamie and Jessie it went Therefore I returned to Dublin visit with my brothers and sis-in-law and all on Friday the 13th, a day known for it's luck-y-ness right? No? oh... dear me.

Regardless, after my day of rest on I got up early on Friday and took the GoBus back to Dublin were I met up with everyone at the hotel. We got some fish and chips for lunch and headed to Trinity College to see the space-alien-sphere and the Book of Kells. We stopped along the way at the General Post Office where the 1916 Easter uprising started.

The Book of Kells s quite impressive and it makes me wish I had handwriting that nice.  I've decided that if I could just move in a back corner of Old Library to live, I would be quite content for the rest of my life. So many rows of gorgeous books! And beautiful  arched ceilings! And slidy-beauty-and-the-beast-library-ladders! And spiral staircases!!!  On top of all that amazingness there was even a book on display from the 1600s with a picture of a Viceroy Tulip that pretty much made my day. (Yay for Fault in Our Stars!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Star's face is cause she is in the middle of
Looking for Alaska, Monique's is cause
 we've been traveling a lot. a lot a lot. 

The five of us spent one last night in in mega-bed. Then we had a wonderful breakfast with our splendid hosts Wednesday morning. It was quite sad to leave them (and Italy as a whole as well.) We packed up all our stuff (plus a handful of new scarves) and hit the road around 12:20. We walked briskly, but not full-on-panicked-ly to the metro and then took that to the Turino train station, Porto Nouvo. Having mastered the ticket machine in Rome we quickly purchased our ticket and were able to board at the very closest platform (karma was trying to make up for Rome).

On our first train from Turin to Milan, the Italian girl across the aisle from us was being bugged by two gypsies and it turns out they stole her wallet and all out of her purse which really sucked. But I have to say that the half a dozen guys who jumped up to defend her pretty much made my day, the guys also helped her out when she realized she was robbed. It was really nice to see them help her out. I had a slight run-in with a meany-pants-train-ticket-guy who charged me for having my feet on the seat across from me, just because he could (sticky out tongue face)

Monday, April 9, 2012


We left Florence around midnight on Saturday. After a long night of traveling, with 3 trains, a little too much time in Pisa's station, a pickpocket-attempt involving dirty socks, a couple of movies on my laptop, not much sleep, and a lot of giggles we arrived in Turin. The Grove City girls here have an adorably Italian apartment with 100 year old wardrobes, chandlers, very tall ceilings, and tiger-print-blankets to boot. It is quite exciting to visit them. Last night we went out to Superga -- a beautiful hilltop with an amazing view of the city. We took the last bus of the night up the windy-road; but walking back down was completely worth it since we arrived right at sunset and enjoyed our Easter-dinner-picnic while watching the sun settle behind the mountains.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Thoughts About the Ear Story

Happy Easter ! I'm going to get a little theological -- or something like that. This is a mixture of a little bit of my thoughts and a large dose of the campfire talk given by my wonderful Assistant Program Director at camp last summer. (So not my ideas originally and not told as well as by Jabo, but here's my thoughts).
File:Caravaggio - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas.jpg
Not only risen, but also genuinely open to poking as well as doubting.
Caravaggio's painting of St. Thomas -- I've got a serious crush on Caravaggio as well, I love his paintings in Rome.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Firenze Day Two

*side note* A few of my friends and a handful of the You Tubers I love do BEDA (= Blog Every Day in April). This year I’m traveling and then will have visitors for the majority of April. Kind of a good reason to skip BEDA, but on the other hand it’s also the type of month I’ll want a record of, so I’m blogging everyday-ish in April. The internet is not always available, but I’ll post all the days eventually. For example, this post I typed up on the train north from Florence late Saturday night.
Best ever place to read, and Song of Myself makes me want to re-read Papertowns 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rome -> Florence

We started Thursday with a delicious Italian breakfast of cappuccino and fresh pastries (significantly different from a full Irish Breakfast), then the three of us stopped by a few last sights in Rome. Such as the Pantheon, Trevi fountain, Piazza Novena, and the Spanish Steps—with daylight, and then we tried to see the bone church with the capuchin crypt, but when we found it the 11:30-3:00 lunch hour foiled those plans. But hey, you have to leave something to see next time right?

After finding a store for lunch and snack foods, we took the metro to Termini to catch our train to Florence. The board listed platforms for all the other trains departed; all except our train, of course. That’s where the adventure comes in! Our train to Florence departed from not one, two, three, four, or thirteen, but from “ES2”. I asked the nice Tren-Italia-man what that meant and he said that ES1 and ES2 are the platforms all the way down past all the other platforms, and then to the right, and all the way down past trains at the very end. We had time to calmly stamp our ticket and board the train, if our train departed from a normal platform. Instead we got to briskly-but-not-quite-full-panic-ly walk from one corner of Termini to the farthest possible point of Termini, completely with a short more-like-panic-full-run at the end which got us boarding the train at exactly 3:13 for our departure of 3:14. It’s not nearly as romantic as all those movies make it seem to hop onboard right as the train pulls away, but that could just be because there was no rain, dramatic music, or beautiful boy waving goodbye to us as we left him behind.

We very much enjoyed resting on the train and then we arrived in Florence around 7pm. Star’s friend from Grove City met us at the station to show us back to their flat, which is up so many steps it makes one appreciate the “Mt Everest of stairs” up to Star and Monique’s room in Galway. We enjoyed the sunset from the roof with a sea of red terracotta roofs all around us, quite a wonderful spot to sit. For dinner we got heaping servings of amazing Italian anti-pastas and pastas galore. It was family-style loads of food for 15 euros, including really nice house wine too, so it was very much worth it. Plus there was a quick stop for gelato on the way home, of course. Although it is always sad to leave the Eternal City, Florence is great as well. 
One last Old Bridge Gelato before we left town

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Highest point of the smallest country

Today we spent the majority of the day at the Vatican. First we went into the Vatican Museums and saw the Sistine Chapel.  Although there is far too much to see in one day, we looped through most of the museum rooms to see an abundance of icons, paintings, sculptures, and all sorts of impressive art and artifacts. While in the courtyard for a snack we were highly entertained by a couple of Japanese boys who just hopped over the chain-fence-ring-thing in order to spin the alien-sphere-with-in-a-sphere-thingy. The Italian security guards disapproved in a "Hey don't do that, but, you know, stop whenever you want, no rush."   Even better, was the Japanese girl who sat down behind me on the bench really fast while her boyfriend snapped a picture of her with my hair. Red hair is apparently a bigger deal for Asians than it is for the Irish.

In addition to the wonderful tourists to watch, we loved all the art and especially the Basilica of St Peter's. As soon as I caught sight of the inside of the Basilica my pulse started pounding like crazy with excitement. I was just as impressed by St Peter's as I was the first time I saw it -- if not more so.

I spent a good deal of the day recalling as much as I possibly could from our amazing tours with Dr Connell and Liz, during my semester in Rome. A couple of my favorite facts are that there is actually not a single painting in the St Peter's Basilica, they're all mosaics. (In large part, because mosaics are easier upkeep and the Basilica is built to last until the end of the world.) Most of the mosaics are so incredibly detailed that it's really hard to tell they're not just painted on canvas. Once you are in the Cupola on the way up to the top of the Dome you are right-up-close-next-to some of the mosaics, which one would swear from farther away are carved and 3D.

After a full day exploring the Vatican and a short fight with numerous ticket machines at Termini, we took the bus and tram to La Fate's for dinner. Our food was yummy, but the best part for me was definitively catching the Erasmus students coming to dinner so I got to see Dr Connell and Miss. Bonifield again. That was really really wonderful, being back in Rome does make me miss my Thomas Morons a lot. Back at the flat we enjoyed more yummy food along with wine, laughter, and to top off the amazing day: tiramisu.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ostia Antica

 After some wonderful coffee to start off the day, we took the metro to the Roman Forum and got some pizza at the little pizza-place-across-the-ruin-by-the-stairs-where-Kathleen-and-I-used-to-go, I got potato-pizza cause I have missed it. Then we took the metro to Pyrimide station and switched  lines to head out to Ostia. First we visited the ruins of Ostia Antica which is roughly the size of "downtown" Galway. We had absolutely perfect weather (and didn't even get sunburned). So there were some great photos and lots of giggles as we explored and wandered.
Then we kept going for a few more stops and got off in modern Ostia so we could see the sea. It was super chilly, but with a little convincing we all jumped into the water and found that it really wasn't that bad once you were in. Even with the gorgeous weather we were only really sharing the beach with a couple of couple who were busy making out (like they do in Rome).  We crossed some things off our bucket list at the Mediterranean Sea then headed back to the city.

All of us went out to dinner at a B . I tried the pasta dish with Ox Tail, since it is a traditional Roman dish that I had yet to try and it was really tasty. Pretty much just tasted like beef with a slightly annoying bone in the middle. It was pretty entertaining to hear the waiters singing in the other room, they'd joke and apologize to us about it when they came to the table.

After dinner Monique, Star and I walked to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain and past the Pantheon and Piazza Novena on our way home. Since Old Bridge is apparently open incredibly late for a gelateria, we had to grab a second gelato to compliment our late-night-theological-debate. It was a wonderful day and I hope my coin in the Trevi Fountain brings me back to Rome again and again.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Roma Ti Amo

I fell in love with Rome when we came to visit my brother and I knew I'd study abroad there as well. My semester in Rome was incredible. So I am thrilled to pieces to be back to visit the Eternal City. Completely worth the near-total lack of sleep. The lack of sleep was a by-product of this morning/ last night Star, Monique and I had to head to the bus /coach station around 1:30am to catch a bus to Dublin; where we caught a plane to Roma Ciampino Aeroport; where we caught a bus to Termini; where we caught the Metro to a stop right down the street from the condos where Star's-god-parents'-son-and-his-wife live. Right in the back yard of the Vatican! It's so amazing to be able to stay with them here. We found the address alright, then got some help from the nice desk girl at the Candia hotel, then Monique completely outsmarted us all by a long shoot when she realized that our calls weren't working because we were not including the plus sign. Silly European cell numbers. After we dropped off our luggage and were treated to a welcome-to-Rome-cappuccino, we set out to explore and hit some of the highlights. I can barely contain my excitement to be back in Rome again.Combining this extreme level of giddiness with the caffeine of a cappuccino made it quite hard to keep from literally running to show the girls St. Peter's.

 We walked all over the city from the Vatican to St Angelo's Castle to the Victor Emmanuel to the Colosseum to Trasevere for pizza and then Old Bridge for gelato. Then we even got an amazing dinner back at the flat as well. I'm loving soaking up being back in Rome.
I've missed good ol' Belli in Trastevere 
Real pizza!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm in love with Charle Byrne

     I'm seriously utterly and completely in love with Charlie Byrne, so far the solitary fault that I have found with my dear Charlie Byrne is a lack of most Hemingway's books -- A Movable Feast for instance. I'll forgive this shortcoming though, because of the treasure chest of other all the other wonderful (and cheap!) books that is Charlie Byrne. It is seriously like the prize-toy-chest-thing at the dentist, because you never know what amazing surprise you'll come across. But it's even better because 1: you end up with an awesome book instead of a plastic plane and 2: you don't have to let anyone check, poke, clean, or fill your teeth first.

     The majority of books at the unbeatably-awesome Charlie Byrne bookstore are secondhand, meaning it is only roughly organized in alphabetical order, and it is mostly by chance that you happen to find what you are looking for if you go in with something in mind.  The best way to approach Charlie Byrne is to wander and browse until something just catches your eye. One of my favorite things is that there are so so so many books they not only cover all the walls and tables, but the bookcases also spill out the front door and wrap around the entire outside of the store (on the indoor mall side). The books on the outside there are only 1 to 3 euros which is also super exciting. I got Angela's Ashes since it's a very fitting book to read in Ireland. Though I'm leaving it here in Galway and I'm bringing Bourne Identity with me to Italy, because it seems more fun and less sad-starving-damp-and-Irish like Angela's Ashes tends to be. (Although it's a good book so far, despite the sadness.) I figured a spy-thriller is more fitting for a trip around Italy with two friends My next blog post will be from the Eternal City!