Day 47 & 48: I try baking. Curse you, Pinterest.

Happy August! 90% of my office left on holidays this week, so we’ve been trying to fit all the work in we need to do together into a very short time period. I’m going to miss the whole group. I baked some Italian almond cookies as a goodbye present/early happy-birthday-to-me last night. They’re goooood.

This goes out to all my friends who are on Pinterest, and have discovered for themselves that pins are never what they seem.

Cookies baking in the oven.

Cookies baking in the oven!

Except actually it looked like this because the pan was too big to close the door all the way.

Except actually it looked like this because the pan was too big to close the door all the way.

And then I realize that my oven is in centigrade not fahrenheit and 270 degrees IS NOT less than 350F.

And then I realize that my oven is in centigrade not fahrenheit and 270 degrees IS NOT less than 350F. Panic, check on cookies, let the oven cool down, moving on.

alright, four minutes to make a glaze. confectioner's sugar and milk, could this be easier?

alright, four minutes to make a glaze. confectioner’s sugar and milk, could this be easier?

apparently yes, yes it can be.

apparently yes, yes it can be. oh look, i match my bowl.

annndd worth it. totally pinterest worthy.

annndd worth it. totally pinterest worthy.

 

So the blog has gone from photography to travel to food, basically. I’m okay with it. (Funny, today’s daily prompt was about origins of your blog – she was all photography six months ago! See my about me, now en français aussi!) It’ll be back to travel and photography this weekend – thesis on one day and adventures on the other! And my poor neglected camera can come back out of hiding.

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Day 46: Plan de Dieu.

Some of you might have seen the post that went up earlier this week titled honesty & anxiety. It’s private now. It was a little too much to share, but it was cathartic to get off my chest. Mostly it had to do with the nerves surrounding the job search and flying home into  unemployment. I’m not a girl who likes having a plan, I’m a girl who lives and dies by having a plan. It’s just my nature and I can’t do much about it. (On a related note, I could feel myself being annoying in Italy when I kept asking what the plan was. Sorry about that, E. haha)

I’ve got a whole pile of job applications out there. Some I like a lot more than others, some I think I’m much more qualified for than others. But it’s summer, so it seems like many orgs are dealing with the hiring process post holidays. One position that I really loved is listed alongside HR manager… so I’m not holding my breath there.

I was in a crap mood after work so I went to the food store to de-stress. Don’t laugh. It’s like clothes shopping but much more practical, haha. Right before I left I decided to wander down the wine aisle, and one of the bottles caught my eye: Plan de Dieu. I wasn’t 100% sure if plan was the same word in English and French but I thought, huh. God’s plan. (Turns out I was right.) My friend recently reminded me that I can only help my future so much, I’m not really the one in charge here. So I thought what the heck, it’s a good reminder. I bought it.

I came home and checked my phone, and there was an email for me requesting an interview. I literally leaped for joy. 😀

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Since most of my colleagues are going on holidays within the next week, we had an ice cream send off party today. Here are some of the people that make work so darn enjoyable. 🙂

Italia Part 1: Asissi & Castillo

My poor little blog, how I missed you. I’m back on track, and back in Brussels!

Last Friday I woke up to complete darkness, caught a cab to the bus to the plane and watched the sunrise over Europe as I flew to Perugia, Italy. My wonderful, intelligent, lovely, hospitable friend from UConn invited me to her hometown so off I went. Editing these photos might take ages so I’ll do a couple mini photo essays… I took about 75 pictures a day, so I’m trying to keep it under control here.

my first european sunrise. mmmhm does 4am come early.

my first european sunrise. mmmhm does 4am come early.

Immediately after getting off the plane, she picked me up and we drove to Assisi.

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Francis is one of my favorite saints – being an animal lover and sharing his name with our Jesuit pope and all. (Go stags.) We visited his church and his tomb first. There were so many people, even some in their sweet little nun habits and monk robes. I didn’t take any pictures of them because I know I’d feel weird getting stopped for pictures in my work clothes. Anyway, St. Francis!

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We also visited the Basilica de Santa Chiara. St. Chiara was one of the first followers of St. Francis, and eventually founded the women’s order similar to the Franciscans. She also has a pretty pink basilica. And how about this, she was once a part of the church of San Damiano (Francis is also connected to this church), and that’s the saint my BXL house is related to (Kot St. Dam). Whoaaa full circle.

After the church-visiting, the temperature soared so we went into a little restaurant lined with stone walls. We hid from the thunderstorm and drank coffee and caught up on life.

When the rain stopped we hopped back in the car and drove the top of a mountain for a photo shoot. I mean really, she’s a girl after my own heart. Sometimes I can’t believe my own luck.

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jenclinton/072413jBut the clouds followed us uphill so we went home.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was that I could speak French to my friend’s parents – I was afraid that communication would be impossible. But even getting by on our rough around the edges ‘francese’ and Italian hand-speak (is that the official title? hmm) made for a much richer experience. Everyone got a kick out of talking to the American in anything other than English – I’m finding that a lot in Europe.

Now I try not to be too crazy with the hyperbole here, but for real. The best meal of my life was my first dinner here. It easily toppled my last favorite meal (which was a breakfast, if you’re curious) and was only matched by Sunday’s lunch. Handmade, hand rolled pasta, filled with chicken, beef, and pork, topped with a tomato sauce from home-grown roma tomatoes, basil, fennel, and herbs de provence. I can still taste it. Not to mention the caprese salad, salami and other meats we cut ourselves, and buffalo mozzarella picked up from the nearby farm that morning. The wine was made by a friend. My life, the movie. Welcome to it.

I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that by the end of the weekend her Italian mother told me I had a good appetite (read: I ate wayyy too much). We finished with a couple glasses of Pastis and then walked into the downtown area to meet up with more family. I’ve adopted her Italian grandfather, watch for him in tomorrow’s pictures. He offered me coffee, a cigarette, and gelato within three minutes, so I took him up on the first one (it was easily after 10pm, and I don’t drink caffeine even in the morning. Oops.)* I passed out pretty hard when I got home anyway.

I could get used to it here.

 

*My reaction to nearly every “do you want to….” was pretty much YEP before the sentence was even finished. It got me into hot water when I yep’ed a hike when all I had was ballet flats, no sunscreen and minimal shade… but we’ll save that story for tomorrow.

 

For the record, Italy pretty much took her own pictures. Only a few got some stylized editing on here, most were just exposure fixes.

Days Twenty Nine to Thirty One: ACK it’s been a month.

What! Seriously. I let this little gem of a milestone slip by unnoticed yesterday.

Except for the fact that I bought myself ice cream, haha. I mean gelato has been relatively cheap and all, but you get one stinkin’ little boule like (thisbig) for 1,50 or 1,60. I went to the grocery store around the corner to see what I could find, and now I understand that I will need to buy a cooler to sneak a stack of these home.

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Holy moly. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce hiding around the sides and like, a pound of cocoa powder. In case you don’t understand this level  of deliciousness yet, here’s a close up.

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I won’t show you the aftermath, haha. (No, it’s not gone. I’m not totally crazy).

I’ve been working and thesis-ing mostly this week, but I’ve also been checking things off my Brussels bucket list. I went to Place Lux on a Thursday night with all the Euro Parliament interns + JB…

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We also ate the fish and chips at Bia Mara… best meal I’ve had in Brussels, besides Soleil Afrique.

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I also had my Guinness at Michael Collins…

jenclinton/07172013awhich was followed up by LITERALLY the weirdest set of nachos I’ve ever had in my life. Now, to be fair, some of the best nachos at home are from an Irish pub. Like, go out of your way to go there and eat tortilla chips and guac and sour cream and olives and peppers and omg. But when I ordered Mexican nachos at the Irish pub in Belgium, I ended up with American doritos, Thai sweet chili sauce, guac and cheese. For real? I was told it was an interestingly misguided decision, and I couldn’t say it better myself.

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My retinas, ow. (And of course there was the museum trip.)

There will be some more radio silence this week, as I’m off to ITALIA! Good thing I’m flying or I might get off in Switzerland or something. Here’s some more of life through my phone this week:

I think I’m hungry. There’s a heck of a lot of food in this post. The best part of traveling is for sure expanding your food horizons, as long as that’s the only thing that’s expanding. Amiright?

Side note, exciting news! I was interviewed by a (pretty big if I do say so myself) newspaper today about my environmental policy work. Can’t wait to share! 🙂