October 18, 2009

A Birthday Weekend in Florence!

Thank you faithful blog followers for once again bearing with my lack of updates. The closer we get to break the more that seems to be happening around here! In the next four days I have four lovely papers, an exam, and a presentation to complete: party in the library! (The last time this happened we ended up having a dance party on the tables...so this should be interesting)

Well, a lot has happened over the last week. I've been to Milan, Lake Como, and this last weekend - Florence!

We arrived on Friday, checked into our hotel and headed off to an art gallery. After this we made the trip up to a lookout where we could see all of Florence. We arrived just as the sun was setting and all of the church steeples lit up across the city. It was very beautiful...and very cold!

The next day a group of us got up extra early and headed out to do some shopping!!! There was an incredible market where vendors from all over come to sell handmade jewelry and genuine leather...you can get jackets, bags, purses, wallets, gloves, and belts all for really great prices. Most of us enjoyed a little bargaining too...it seems that the girls get better deals :)

One of the highlights of the trip was making one of these purchases. I had joked with Lisa about buying a leather jacket in Florence, and even tried one on for kicks...but after getting quoted the 200 Euro price tag I gave up hope. After being caught up by another vendor I still wasn't willing to pay his 150 Euro "special deal."

I had given up hope when my wonderful friend Caitlyn started talking to another vendor and he beckoned me inside his shop. Skillfully he helped me try on the most beautiful jacket I had seen that day. We chatted about Rome and our travels before I finally worked up to courage to ask how much it was.....He said that in a department store it would go for 370 Euros (I gasped) Then he said since I "live" here now he would sell it for 170 (I cringed) THEN he said since he liked me I could get it for the grand price of 110 Euros! After a few friends pitched in for my birthday I made one of the best decisions of my life:

I am now the proud owner of a leather jacket totally handmade in Italy!!!!

Phew! And the day only got better from there. The group went to the Uffizi galleries to see Michelangelo's sculpture of the David and paintings from some of the most famous artists in history. Da Vinci, Michelangelo...the list goes on and on. Paintings and articles that I'd only read about were right there!

And in the midst of it all was the 14 foot statue of David. So absolutely mind bogglingly! incredible! The detail is what astounded me. Form, muscle, and even veins carved out of marble...it was really amazing!

The afternoon held more shopping and catching a glimpse of Michelangelo and Galileo's tombs - It doesn't it get much better that that folks.

That evening, my amazing friends decided it would be a good time to celebrate my birthday :) so we went into the city and found this amazing little restaurant. Nine of us crammed in the back and had the most hilarious waiters come over and hover around our table. I got kissed - twice (well four times if you both cheeks both times ;) and after some amazing food they turned out the lights, put on some music and sang as I was presented with an amazing assortment of desserts!

Haha, we skipped all over Florence, got gelato, sat on a bridge over the Arno, danced in a piazza to some live music...what a way to celebrate your 21st Birthday.

And now I am "home" in my freezing cold convent in Rome looking ahead to four more days of classes before I head out to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Paris...what a life!

October 5, 2009

Last Week

Again, I failed in my regular blog posting.... *sigh* readers forgive me, I shall try again this week!

Last week was a pretty interesting week. The homework load lightened (Thank God!) and I had my first Italian quiz (Crap!) We've finished reading Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid which is a glorious myth on how Rome was founding. This week we're beginning Dante's Inferno... or as Dr Szabo says: "You guys are going to hell!"

Our large excursion was the Colosseum...which was breathtaking, awe inspiring, and sobering. It was incredible to imagine what it would have been like at the height of Roman power, filled with screaming people, and bloody gladiators.

There really are no words to describe what it feels like to stand
there in the setting sun and look over the Colosseum.

As I've mentioned before, its hard to know how to feel. I've never seen anything that is actually thousands of years old before - what does that feel like....its just something you have to experience I guess.

This last weekend was great too. I got to sleep in, do homework, and get train reservations for my 10-day break. Friday night was filled with swing dancing on the terrace, chocolate chip cookies, and homemade lemonade - so wonderful.

Saturday night 11 of us got very dressed up and headed out for a night on the town. We ate dinner and sat outside, wandered the streets of Rome, got Gelato, and found ourselves magically ontop of the Spanish Steps looking out over a view of Rome bathed in the light from a full moon. To top it off - amazing seats at the Ballet.

Being here has been really wonderful, but also hard. Homesickness is setting in as well as some frustrations here....The Lord has really been stretching me in many areas, but I know that in the end it will be worth it.

September 26, 2009

The Most Perfect Day

If someone asked you what the best day of your life was, what would you say? Up until this point I don't know that I would have an answer, but yesterday supplied me with one 24 hour period that I can truly say was the best day of my life.At 7:30 in the morning, nine college students left the convent and took a bus to the train station. None of us had traveled in Italy before, and none of us knew how to buy train tickets....and we
quickly learned that no one knew how to read them either...so we missed our train

After hopping on another, we reached our destination and all was well when we arrived in Sperlonga, until we looked around and couldn't find the beach! Chris went and questioned a taxi driver who informed us of just exactly how far away from the beach we were: 17 Kilometers

Just as we were wondering what to do, a bus drove up with "Sperlonga" displayed on the
front...soooo we got in.

There was a jolt of excitement that went through the group when
we finally saw the ocean ahead of us. Running onto that beach and letting the warm waves of the Mediterranean was immediately calming.

For the rest of the day we did a whole lot of nothing...swimming, walking on the beach, and collecting sea shells. After a long, active week, it was wonderful to sit on the beach and just take in the beauty around me.

In the afternoon the whole group came together and this video will give you an idea of what we did:

It was also Erik's first time to the sea, so we had to give him a memorable experience:

For dinner we decided to have a picnic on the beach so a few of us
girls found a local grocery store. The
owner, a little old Italian man, spoke no English, but was so pleased to serve us. After quite a while we left with fresh bread, tomatoes, ham, and fresh mosarella. As we were leaving, the man gave us a gift of fresh basil to go with our meal.

Blankets spread out on the beach, we said a prayed and began our meal. We all were talking and laughing while eating some of the best food I've ever tasted.

The sun was setting in the distance. Friends were all around me. And I was at the Mediterranean sea.

The day ended with two of my friends and I
standing the the sea, holding hands and thanking our amazing God for the wonders he has given us.

This truly was the most wonderful day of my life. It was one of those rare experiences where everything is just as it should be. Even when you find out the bus stops running at eight - you learn something new, like you really can fit 10 people in a taxi!

These are the experiences I can for, and I praise God everyday that I am fortunate enough to be here.

September 24, 2009

A Day at Pompeii

The rest of the day was alright. Lisa and I got very lost in the enormous city and somehow ended up outside of the city walls lol Please don't ask me how we got there.

In the end we made it out alive, and although our feet were sore, it was really amazing to be able to walk in that city think about what it would have been like 2,700 years ago. I got to walk where the citizens of that town walked. To sit where they sat, enter their homes, and see the remains of amazing works of art.

When you are seeing and touching something so old, it is hard to explain the rush on emotions. In America, there is nothing to compares this too. Our nation is simply only a few hundred year old...

Sooo, all of this to say that just being here opens up a whole new set of emotions. It hard to sort myself out because I've never experienced or felt anything like this and I am wondering if I'll ever get used to it.

Well, I gotta run and pack for the weekend...
....Did I mention I'm going camping on the Mediterranean?

September 21, 2009

Family Dinner

Tonights cooking group not only prepared an excellent meal, but also a great venue for community building.

They pushed our three separate tables into one large one. The meal was spread out and the table set all lit by candle light. For the first time, the entire group was able to sit all together and share a meal.

We talked and ate and laughed...it felt like one big happy family :)

My First Weekend in Rome

For those of you who faithfully check my blog, I must beg your forgiveness. I have not been updating as much as I would like to due to the craziness of this past week. However - I am going to do my best to post updates every day or two for you reading pleasure ;)

So, this last weekend was my first in Rome and it was absolutely AMAZING!

First of all, my weekend started on Friday (hurray for three day weekends!) and I was able to do some homework and then that night went out with some friends for a wonderful dinner at a local pizzeria. The owner, who sported some very black eyebrows that contrasted with his very white hair, spoke to us completely in Italian. In response, we attempted to express our immense approval of the meal.

Then topped it off with some amazing gelato. Strawberry and melon are my new favorite flavors.

Saturday was going to be a homework day....yeah that doesn't work out so well when you're in Rome. I frittered the day away and went exploring in the afternoon. Lisa and I found the Piazza Navona - oh was it beautiful. Musician playing, beautiful architecture, artists displaying their works...this was Italy!

Then, Saturday night was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I went with one of the girls in my group to meet her Italian relatives. She's never met them before, so it was an exciting experience for all! We met up with her two cousins (one of which is an Italian rock star) their wives and friends and sat down to eat a meal together.

But this was no ordinary meal. The first course entailed a large basket of various sausages and about 15 other appetizer dishes that were passed around the table. Cheeses and zucchini, and eggplant, and sausage....mmmmm was it good. The second course was pasta with sausage and spinaches raviole. We topped off the meal with a final course of two meats: "Lamb and very young pork"

It was amazing to talk with them and hear stories about their travels and their everyday lives. They were extremely hospitable, and I have the feeling that we will be seeing more of each other.

Sunday I visited an international church and it was so amazing to see people of every color, age, and background coming together to worship the Lord. Definitely a moving experience.

God has really been faithful to me...this last week was a struggle just adjusting to this new lifestyle and figuring out what God has planned for me. I am determined not to settle for mediocrity this semester. I know that I am here for a reason, and that He is going to make this the most amazing three months of my life.

How exciting is that?!!

September 16, 2009

Getting Lost in Rome

The last few days have been taken up with unpacking, settling in, and group outings - but yesterday Lisa and I managed to do some exploring on our own! We pretty much have the best professor ever. In her syllabus, Dr Szabo wrote, "GET LOST WITH A FRIEND" and that is exactly what Lisa and I did.

We grabbed our cameras, stashed a few Euros, and made out way to the bus stop. The Public Transportation system is pretty easy...when you know what your doing. We managed to get on the right bus, but just got off a stop to early. This however, was all part of the plan to get lost.

We could see the Victor Emanuel I monument in the distance, but the li
ttle side streets caught our attention even more. We wondered through cobblestone streets, found little "ristorantes" tucked in the nooks and crannies.

We also found an open air market. It was touristy stuff, but we just enjoyed waltzing through the people and taking in the sights and sounds.

Then we turned a street - and knew where we were! It was a weird sensation. We'd been heading for that area, and actually found it. More turns and side streets led us past shops, pizzerias, and gelato bars!

Then it happened...the street opened up onto this piazza with an enormous fountain. What was this? "Is this the Trevi?" Lisa and I asked eachother. It most certainly was. We had just stumbled upon the Trevi fountain...it was amazing

We succeed in catching a bus and navigating to the Spanish Steps where shops like Gucci and Prada literally lined the streets.

Our journey did end well though. We made it back home safe and sound to the convent.

It was an amazing day. Getting lost is Rome with your best friend...now this is what I signed up for :)

September 11, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Jet-Lagged Student

So, this is going to be a short one because I've now been up for about 42 hours straight.

Everything with our flights on Thursday went beautifully. When we actually boarded for Rome I had a brief spazz out moment with one of the other students seated next to me. All through take off and the first few hours we just kept coming back to Rome, all we wanted to do there, and all we would be able to see, do, and learn. It didn’t seem possible.

Over the 8.5 hour flight I slept a totally 45 minutes. The rest of my time was spent watching cheesy movies, chit chat, and gazing out over the France and seeing Paris totally lit up at about 5am. Then I witnessed a beautiful sunrise, and got an incredible view of the Swiss Alps! It was so beautiful.

When we landed in Rome we bustled through the airport. Everyone got their luggage and we headed to the convent. Lisa and I dumped our bags in our fabulous little room and ran off to explore. The grounds are gorgeous!

Jet lag caught the whole group and we were quite a solemn bunch during the afternoon and dinner. But the night turned out well. Dr Zabo taught us how to order Gelato in Italian and I was served by a very handsome waiter ;)

Its finally hitting me how long I am going to be here, and I'm not going to lie, I was already homesick today. I have not clue what tomorrow holds, but I know that its going to be amazing. For now I'm putting all my stress aside and trying to focus on what HE has planned!
P.S. My life is so amazing right now. Thank you Lord!

September 10, 2009

Day 1: On the Moon - I mean....

I got up ready for my flight. Bags were packed. Last minute details taken care of. All was as it should be.

Bolts of excitement shot through the group as we gathered for final farewells. Dr. Cole gave us a lot of encouragement and with misty eyes said goodbye to this first group entering the Rome program. We were pumped!

After everyone got through security we rejoiced to find our flight on time...then there was a slight delay...then we were flying to Paris....then - canceled.

I filmed a super great video telling you the whole story...but due to technical difficulties, you'll have to get the low down the old fashioned way ;)

Everything turned out really well. All sixteen of us got our own room is the super posh hotel. As we checked in the attendants gave us each a chocolate chip cookie (the shmoosing was great!) Each member of our party also got vouchers for dinner, breakfast, and lunch. So all looking up.

Our all American hamburger dinner was outstanding. Then we got a surprise visit from Brian and Brenna. Supposedly, Brian had came to "say good-bye to me" but I think I know better ;) Girlfriend + scoring points with the best friend!

Anyways, Mr Wright took up for milkshakes and then we had a wonderful, good old fashioned pillow fight! It lasted on and off for about an hour haha
If we had to spend another night in thr USA that was the way to go.

Please check out the other pics from the trip on my Facebook page!!!

September 9, 2009

Today is the Day!

This is my last blog post from the USA for quite a while! I can't believe this day is finally here...it doesn't seem real. I am excited...but it all still seems pretty sureal.

I think I'm still waiting for someone to pinch me so I wake up.

But here goes nothing...I'm off to the airport.

Will send updates soon :)

September 7, 2009

1 Day to Go...

Time is a really strange phenomenon. Five seconds of silence can take a lifetime to pass when you're in a really awkward situation, or five hours can fly by when you're having fun.

When I was accepted into the Rome program it seemed so extremely distant. I spent a semester looking forward to this trip, three month of summer seemed like they would never end, and now I've just spent my last weekend at home for quite a while. One more day in the USA

I'm not going to lie, this last week has been hard. During orientation I once again realized how much I love my college. I met so many new people and deepened past friendships, so coming home to pack was really difficult. One day I even told my mom "What the heck was I thinking going away for a whole semester!?" And now I'm facing the reality of saying goodbye to my family for three months.

Its pretty mind blowing. I am feeling very overwhelmed...but I know that everything is really going to be okay. The Lord worked everything out so perfectly for this trip. I know I am supposed to go, and that He has amazing things in store for me!

I am going to get to do what many people dream about doing. Living in another culture, traveling, meeting people, and growing into the person that God would have me to be.

This is going to be an amazing three months and it will be good just to get over there and begin my journey!

September 4, 2009

5 Day Update

The clock is ticking and I am feeling pretty good about my 'To Do' list. I've spent the last few days running errand and getting organized...hopefully it will all pay off when I get to Rome!

So here is the progress I've made on the list:
  • Buy School Books – Done! And the best part is I got all my books, for the whole semester, for a whopping $40. Now that is economy my friend.
  • Plan Plan Plan – Lets just say I have a three ring binder filled with amazingness! Now I have to powwow with Lisa for final arrangements on our 10 day adventure.
  • Budget – Tuition paid, Credit Card received, Debit Card renewed, companies notified of my travels

  • Research and Purchase Electronics – Finally decided on this Panasonic Lumix and I'm loving it!

  • Knock Out My Killer Shopping List – Well, after the longest shopping trip of my life, I though I had everything, but today I managed to make up another list *sigh*

  • Dealing With My #1 Problem – I have one suitcase packed! Now I have to tackle fitting all the rest of my stuff in the other one!

* Secret Coding: (Strikethrough – completed) (Italic – Waiting) (Bold – Working on it!)

I spent a good part of this afternoon packing my large suitcase and I think its finally starting to sink in how long I am going to be gone. We are supposed to bring enough clothing for 2-3 week...and it has to be warm clothing...and weigh under 50 pounds too. So I'll keep you updated oh how that goes haha

The clock is ticking and I still can't believe this is happening!

September 3, 2009

6 Days...Lets Just Take a Moment to Think About This Shall We?

So, in less than one week I will be boarding a plane to spend three months of my life in Europe. (I'm sure by now you're tired of hearing this, but then again, you could go read someone else's blog ;) Anyways, to make a long story short, I was thinking about all of the things in my life that are going to change as I embark on this new adventure. For example:

In 6 days I'll be in a totally new country and culture

By September 16 I will have been in school one week - Geneva students will be at 2.5 weeks

In two months I will have visited five European countries. I'll have spent the night on a train, stayed in multiple hostels, experienced couch surfing, sang "Do Ra Me" on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, seen a fashion show in Paris, and stood before the glimmering lights of the Eiffel Tower.

And within the next three months I will have traveled through Italy, ridden a gonadal, been lost on the metro, learned how to cook, see the Coliseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, studied a foreign language, lived with the locals, and made new friends.

There will be tough times to. I know that I'll get homesick and have to deal with problems just like any other time in my life. But I hope this will be such an incredible opportunity for me just to grow into the person that God wants me to be.

Its hard to take it all in. So much is going to happen to me in a mere 90 days and I am looking forward to ebracing this new experience with all of the joy and enthusiasm I can must. The Lord has given me such an amazing opportunity to learn and I cannot wait to find out what He has planned. This truly will be a life changing experience....I'm not sure you'll recognize the Sarah who comes back!

And it all starts in 6 days...

September 1, 2009

8 Days...This is Really Happening

I think every inexperienced blogger suffers from a drought every now and again. For me, these last two weeks have been crazy busy and An Optimist's Alcove has suffered. But hopefully this week I will be able to get things back on track.

What have I been doing that could have possibly been more important than blogging? How about freshman orientation!

This year I was a part of Orientation Leadership Staff - and boy was it a blast. I semi-moved back to school for two weeks. The first week was filled with planning and running errands until the new students arrived.

Move in day was the outrageous. I stood on the curb outside of the girl's dorm and directed traffic all while greeting families, finding out what room the girl was in, and then yelling at football players so they knew where to take the stuff!

But it didn't stop there. The next few days were filled with a trip to Pittsburgh, picnicking, tug-of-war, water balloons, sleep deprivation, student panels, ice cream, the O-Show, and finger paints.

It was an incredible two weeks! Definitely not void of frustrations, but having the opportunity to form deeper friendships and begin new relationships with the incoming class was so amazing...

...and then I came home.

Yesterday was the first day of classes for everyone else on campus - except me. I have 8 more days of summer. 8 more days to pack, 8 more days in the USA, 8 more days until ROME!

This is really happening


August 13, 2009

27 Days....Um That's Like, Soon!

Now 54 is a pretty high number. So is 42 and even 35, but 27 – now that number is on the downhill slope towards zero. When I realized that there was less than a month between me sitting at home and me sitting in Rome, I freaked out a little… and I mean more than usual.

It was just a jolt of reality. A thunderbolt, if you will, of fear, nervousness, anticipation, and excitement! 27 days everyone…that is less than a month! Its 3.8 weeks. A mere 648 hours.

I am going to Rome...

I am really really going...


August 5, 2009

35 Days….I Think this is What Hyperventilating Feels Like

So, its actually starting to sink in. That I am going to be in Italy for three whole months…which is a really long time to be away from home. But at the same time it’s such a short period of time to be in Europe. It is so crazy that in a little more that a month my plane will be taking off for the adventure of a lifetime…

Woah – am I ready for this?

Planning is running smoothly, the days are ticking by, and the world awaits. I am happy to report that I’ve made excellent progress on my To Do list for Rome and things are plugging along nicely. Here’s what I have accomplished since my last post:

  • Buy School Books – Done! And the best part is I got all my books, for the whole semester, for a whopping $40. Now that is economy my friend.
  • Plan Plan Plan – (stay tuned, I’ve decided to devote a whole post to this) (p.s. prepare yourself)
  • Budget – Sent in my credit card app and am waiting to hear. Going to pay my school bill when I get back n campus in a few weeks

  • Research and Purchase Electronics – Really frustrated with this actually, I’m still looking for a good digital camera. Currently I’m researching seventeen (yes you read that correctly – 17) models and narrowing it down from there.

  • Knock Out My Killer Shopping List – Well, I wrote my shopping list. My Optimistic Mama is going to help out too, which is wonderful. Oh! I did buy a very ‘European’ umbrella ;)

  • Dealing With My #1 Problem – Procrastination is the best solution here

* Secret Coding: (Strikethrough – completed) (Italic – Waiting) (Bold – Working on it!)

I’ve been literally floating on cloud nine these past few days. I am really really going to Rome. OMG! My heart jumps every time I think about it.

This is truly going to be the experience of a lifetime!

Summer + Hippies = A Hysterical Wordless Wednesday

At the hippie Arts Festival concert:

Me: Looking around at the strange new surroundings
Lydia: "This is the type of music that you smoke something to hear the voices in your head...then you sit close to someone and hold their hand so you can hear the harmony!"

Photographs by one of my favorite people ever!

August 3, 2009

Self Discovery

I discovered something today...about myself...Espresso has a great effect on me!

Who would have thunk it - the college girl who can down several cups of coffee and go to bed is brought low by McDonald's brew. If you read my post about Mocha Monday then you are already familiar with the occasion.

So how do I know that its affected me?

Well when we stopped this morning I took two sips and felt all happy and then went to talk to my manager who probably thinks I'm crazy now all because I was talking really fast about this problem that wasn't really that big of a deal but it needed to be taken care of AND I was really happy on a Monday, which is rare but I did my work and got a splitting headache so on the way home Optimistic Daddy stopped again and I drank more and then I was singing and talking really fast the whole way home he seemed annoyed not sure why but then my legs were shaking when I tried to walk and I couldn't stop talking...I was literally spewing verbage (I like that word don't you?) So my Optimistic Sis told me to be quiet and stop TUI - Talking Under the Influence.


Optimistic Monday: National Watermelon Day

So, as I try to narrow down what exactly this blog is going to be about, I decided to start something new – Optimistic Monday. Each Monday I’m going to blog about something that makes me happy. A book, an experience…Or just share some tidbits of inspiration for the world. Maybe a little corny, but I thought it was a good idea, and you know, this is my blog :)

SO, I know this Monday post is a little late but - drum roll please

**insert drum roll sound effect here**

The 1st Optimistic Monday Post:

National Watermelon Day!

I don’t even know how I stumbled across this, but I wish I had done so sooner - Today, National Watermelon Day! Every year on August 3rd the nation celebrated watermelon and the joy it brings. I’m a huge fan of watermelon and it always brings back such happy memories of summer.

Seed spitting contests (which inevitably turned seed spitting fights) and eating watermelon for dinner on those days when it was too hot to cook. Ah….Oh sorry, I got lost in my thoughts there…back to NWD, as I am going to call it.

To celebrate I took a watermelon quiz from Watermelon.org and got a grand total score of 5 out of 12. Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t be the next “Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader” Champion, but I still love the fruit.

To redeem myself from that embarrassment here is a fabulous recipe for a frozen Watermelon treat:

Watermelon A la mode

- Vanilla Ice cream
- Pink sherbet (any flavor you like)
- Green Sherbet (again any flavor)
- Mini Chocolate Chips

Leave your frozen ingredients out to soften little bit.

Get a large to medium sized metal bowl. Once its soft enough take your green sherbet and spread it around the inside of the bowl. In other words, there should be a layer of sherbet around the inside of the bowl

Freeze until hard

Spread a thin layer of vanilla ice cream on top of your green sherbet.

Freeze until hard

While your bowl of goodness is freezing, mix your soft pink sherbet in a bowl with the mini chocolate chips. Then fill up the remainder of the bowl with your mixture.

Once again, freeze until hard. After this you should be able to turn your bowl up-side-down and your “watermelon” will pop out. Slice like you would a normal watermelon and serve immediately.


Okay – one more thing to celebrate! I wanted to post picture on myself chowing down in honor of NWD, but this was way cuter:

Have a wonderful watermelon day!!!

July 31, 2009

(Already) Time for a Change!

I think I might be going crazy…Oh wait, I already am crazy! (My family constantly reminds me of this) But seriously, have you ever done so much research on one topic that your head starts to spin?

I’ve been thinking about giving my blog a face lift. Yeah, the little flowers and scrapbookish pattern are cute, but I got bored with it about a week after launching the blog. So the search begins.

Generally, I’m pretty artistic, but I have to be inspired before all of my ideas start to gel. After two weeks of searching index after index of blogger backgrounds I gave up. Nothing really seemed to fit what I was looking for. Granted, I had no idea what I was looking for, but I figured I would know it when I saw it. Then inspiration struck - “Why can’t I create my own design? It can’t be that hard right?”

Ha! I laugh now at my naivety.

Sure, there are some simple template generators that can help, and Blogging for Dummies is a great resource...but if I’m going to do something, its going to be done right. I want my blog to be memorable and unique, so a killer design is necessary.

I could have a pro do it – but I’m cheap, so this past week I’ve been exhausting every website I can find about creating blogs and writing html. Let me tell you, Google is a fantastic tool! So far I’ve been able to find answers and coding for everything I need.

Hurray! I’m rolling along and learning all of these sweet tips and tricks, but there is only one problem: I still don’t have an inspiration for my design.

Frantically searching more directories, reading articles, and even downloading free digital scrapbooking packages, I was still coming up with a big fat nothing.

It wasn’t until yesterday that, out of the blue, I got it.

Here is a sneak peak at some things that inspired me:

There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am so excited to dive in and conquer the world of Blogger coding. Hopefully I can get everything completed and launched before September.

Wish me luck!

July 29, 2009

Boredom + College Friends = A Mall Invasion

42 Days And Counting – I Guess I’d Better Start Getting Ready

So in exactly 42 days, 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 37 seconds I will be boarding a plane to Italy. (Actually New York first, but you get the picture) It will be the first step on my three month adventure abroad. If you didn’t read my last post about this trip, let me fill you in: I AM GOING TO ROME! One full semester studying and living in Italy!

Needless to say I am very excited about the trip, but preparations keep getting pushed back because I “have all summer:” Well, not anymore...there are books to be ordered, electronic devices that need researched, and 90 days worth of necessities that much be purchased.

So here is my “To Do” of things that must be accomplished before September 9th

Buy School Books – Paperback and internet downloads are the way to go for this gal – beauty product weigh a lot!

Plan Plan Plan – I am fortunate to have my best friend going with me. Our school is planning several trips but the two of decided it is essential that we travel Europe. Trip #1 will be to Milan, trip #2 is Paris, and trip #3 is TBA. I’ve looked up train and plane tickets, but I guess I should buckle down and make some concrete plans ;D

Budget – Get my finances in order. I’ll have to pay my bill for school, plus get the application in for my very first credit cart. Sarah is growing up

Research and Purchase Electronics – First of all I must get a converter and adapter so that I can charge my computer and camera batteries. Last time I went overseas the adapter blew up and ruined my charger sooo needless to say I’m pretty nervous. If anyone has experience or helpful advice it would be appreciated!

I’m also looking into purchasing a new camera. Still researching and deciding how much I can really afford to spend.

Knock Out My Killer Shopping List – Do you know how much make-up/shampoo/soap/facescrub/feminineproducts/contactsolution/deodorant/moose/hairspray a girl uses in three months? It’s a lot! I made my shopping list yesterday of all the necessities I’ll need – It will be around $175 dollars. I am already dreading that shopping trip.

Dealing With My #1 Problem – Fitting all of my clothing, necessities, towels, sheets, and misc items into two suitcases that each weighs less than 50 pounds. I’ve never been a light packer, so this is going to be interesting.

Wow, I feel a mildly extreme panic attack coming on. Any advice from seasoned travelers?
Well, I’d better get moving on this, so I’ll keep you posted….

July 27, 2009

Thank You for the Pain

I think that we grow the most through pain. When your world is completely shaken and everything seems to be broken, you can either morn over the shattered pieces, or see it as a clean foundation for something new. Everyone has experienced heartbreak in some form, so I know I'm not the first and I won't be the last, but I through it all I've grown and learned things that I never would have otherwise.

At the beginning of the summer I felt as though every area in my life was crumbling. I felt helpless and lost, but through this I saw areas in myself where I wanted (and needed) to grow. I made a promise to myself that when I went back to school in the fall I would not be the same person that I was before. I set goals and gave everything over to the Lord so that he could work in me.

My main goal for the summer was to grow in my relationship with the Lord. During the school year I had slipped, and really desired to get back in tune with Him. Beside this, my goals were not major or life changing, but simple things that I put on paper and accomplish.

Here are a few of them:
  • Plan a bonfire (Check! Though it rained and we never had a campfire, I had friends over in anticipation of one)
  • Work Out Regularly (Of course 'regularly' is a relative term)
  • Get Involved in Ministry (I've been a leader in the youth group and have had an opportunity to really bond with some of the girls. Plus, I just got back from an incredible mission trip)
  • Read a Book or Two (Finished "Angels and Demons" and am now skimming another novel)
  • Scrapbook Sophomore Year (This is coming along nicely)
  • Either to See One Friend a Week OR Do Something Special For One Person (Its been wonderful)
Now August and the end of summer is staring me in the face and I realize, I am a different person, but not in the way I thought I would be. When I was bitter and angry and hurt I looked at changing external appearances and actions. But when you give that up, something much better happens inside.

Sure I got a great haircut and a couple cute outfits, but I fell like the Lord has given me an entirely new outlook on life. Through ministry I have learned what it feels like to be selfless and give everything for Him. I have placed new value in who I am and what He has created me to be. And I can't wait to see what is in store for the years ahead.

There is a new Sarah bursting onto the scene who is confident, spontaneous, independent, and full of life. She is ready to dive full force into the future. To take risks and live vivaciously. There is so much that the world has to offer, and so much I have to offer the world. As I stand here looking forward there are so many opportunities and I am quivering with the anticipation of finding out where I belong.

Sure there are bad days, but I am thankful for them. I still battle bitterness and the wounds haven't completely healed - but today is a good day, and I will rejoice in it.

Free Mocha Monday

So, I am a huge fan of cold coffee. Iced or frozen, it doesn't matter, as long as its caffeinated and has whipped cream on top I'm cool. (Haha, get it, 'cool')

Okay, so my sense of humor is pretty lame, but today I did discover the best thing since sliced bread. My Optimistic Daddy got a hankering for an ice cream cone and we made a pit stop at McDonalds on the way home from work.

While in line at the drive-though the words "Free Mocha Monday" caught our eye. My Dad, Sister and I all strained our eyes looking for the small print that said you needed to buy $18 worth of french fries or stand on your head to get this deal, but there was nothing.

So we drive up to the speaker and Optimistic Daddy asks how Free Mocha Monday works.

"You get a mocha for free on Mondays" was the reply

"So, there are three of us in the car," Said Optimistic Daddy, testing the waters, "Does that mean all three of us can get one?"

"Yep" squawked the speaker.

"I'll take three"

We drove around, pretty much in disbelief. I half expected a tiny cup or some weak, crappy coffee, but it was nothing like that. Out of the service window came three large iced mochas with whipped cream and chocolate drizzled on top. And this was no weak coffee. Wonderful, dark, rich espresso. Mmmmmm!

Wait a minute...is that why I'm babbling not stop, giggling, annoying the crap out of my parents, and writing a blog post at midnight???

I think its safe to say that Free Mocha Monday is going to be a ritual from now on!