Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gelato Sighting

Last weekend I went with Meredith and Brianna, two of my fellow Italy adventurers, and we scouted out a gelateria in North Hills. It is called Henry's Gelato, and it was DELICIOUS. They had lots of traditional Italian flavors, like stracciatella (chocolate chip), tiramisu, frutti di bosco (fruits of the forest), and even Baci (a popular brand of chocolate. Literally it means "kisses"). They even have the same little cups and spoons that gelato is served in in Italy!

It is probably the closest we can get to being in our Italian second home for a while, and we will definitely be going back soon! As a gelato connoisseur, I give Henry's my approval ;). It was so nice to sit down, lick our gelato slowly and talk, just like we did so many times last semester.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Italian Cooking Experiments

While I was in Italy I got to enjoy more delicious food than I should have, and even learned to make a few things. One evening we were invited to the house of a couple who have been friends of Meredith's Sansepolcro program for a long time. At their house, she made us a yummy meal and also showed us how to cook it ourselves. She even taught us how to make traditional tiramisu! When I got home, I couldn't remember the exact amounts of each ingredient, but I found this blog and tried its recipe, which turned out to be very good and very Italian! It is pretty easy to make:

1 lb soft ricotta cheese (N.B. this is my light version of Tiramisu. In the original version, this is mascarpone, and not ricotta. A lot of people I know seem to prefer my light version, also because it's more fluffy than with mascarpone - and, last but not least, mascarpone costs like gold in the US, for some weird reason).

15 ladyfinger cookies

2 eggs
~1/2 cup sugar (or more if you like sweet desserts)

2 espresso coffees diluted with ~1 cup water (or ~1 cup american coffee) - cold or warm, not hot

2 tbsp rum
unsweetened cocoa powder

With a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar. Add the ricotta cheese in it, mixing by hand. In another bowl, whip egg whites with a dash of salt in them, till firm. Mix the eggwhites to the other mixture. Mix the coffee and the rum. One at a time, quickly soak half of the ladyfinger cookies in the coffee/rum mixture, and place them on the bottom of the serving bowl. Add half of the cream on top of them, and repeat these two layers once more. Put in the fridge and leave there for at least two hours (usually I prepare the dessert the night before). Sprinkle the top with cocoa powder before serving.

My mom was able to find mascarpone, so I cooked with that. The only change I made was sprinkling a little coffee between the layers, because I prefer tiramisu with a stronger caffe flavor. This is what mascarpone and the cookies look like, if you want to go authentic:

It was pretty fun to make and even more fun to eat!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Summer - Just another opportunity to write lists

Summer is here at last! I, of course, wasted no time in writing a list of things I need or want to do this summer. After the preliminary list, it was of course necessary to divide it into several sub-lists for maximum organization. My favorite of these by far is my reading list!

This summer book pile consists of a variety of different titles, some literature, some "thinking" books, and a couple just for fun. Emma and Les Miserables are the literature selections, Emma because I love Austen and need to read more of her, and Les Mis because it is a beautiful story but I have yet to actually read it. Thanks to my wonderful seminary student boyfriend, I also have a few other good books to delve into, like The Gospel According to Jesus, and 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible. I also have two books that are purely for fun, Shades of Grey and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I've read other things by Donald Miller, and so I wanted to read his new book Million Miles because he's an excellent writer. Shades of Grey is by Jasper Fforde, the author of the only nonliterary novels I truly enjoy. I've read all of his other books and have been waiting for what seems like ages to read this latest novel. There are also a few other books on my squeeze-in-if-there-is-time list. Needless to say, I am super excited that I finally have time to read all of this amazingness. I started off by reading Crazy Love last week, which was absolutely wonderful, although very tough to swallow. I can hardly wait to tackle the rest of my pile!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year!

It’s that time of year again—registration! Words cannot express my exuberance yesterday morning when I was able to sign up for fall classes. Even more than actually registering for classes, I revel in the weeks beforehand, when course offerings become available on Web Advisor and I am finally allowed to begin the meticulous process of putting together possible schedules. Is it nutty that I had dozens of color-coded charts and schedules, each with different possibilities for my academic life next semester? Is it weird that when I met with my advisor she didn’t even have to look and see when other classes were offered because I had their times memorized?

Perhaps I did enjoy the whole process a little too much, but this semester was truly the most fun to plan. When I registered for classes last fall and spring, I was double majoring and minoring. This made for a daunting, near impossible task as I struggled to cram so many hours of classes for one major with so many hours of classes for another, plus something for the minor, and let’s not forget honors or general education requirements. But this semester, after realizing I bit off more than I could chew and cutting back a tad, although still a challenge, it was at least doable.

You have to admit, it’s a challenge—especially at a small school that’s trying to minimize sections—to make a schedule that includes everything you need to take, but has no conflicts and does not require you to take nine hours of consecutive classes in a single day. It can be difficult, but that’s why I like it. Schedule-making is like one of those Sudoku puzzles, trying to fit everything together perfectly in the right order, with nothing overlapping or missing. And then, when finally everything is just right, you have that “I got it!” moment. Ah, sweet loveliness.

Happy Registration Week to all of you Angels! I hope you get all of the classes you need.

Monday, March 8, 2010


You might have noticed that I love getting my blog backgrounds from Shabby Blogs. Despite my adoration for the site, I can’t let myself look at it very often, because every time I scroll through those luscious templates I fall in love a million times over. How is it possible to decide between brown or green or pink, or ribbons or buttons or sparkles, or busy or simple, or elegant or rustic, or natural or whimsical, or swirls or paisley? There are simply too many glorious choices. Whenever I let my guard down and click on that enticing link, it is at least an hour before I can decide on a single background to adopt. Then of course I must pick new fonts and a font color scheme that match, and once I do that, it is absolutely necessary for me to make new little banners for the side bar that coordinate with the background.

If you have never visited Shabby Blogs, please be cautious and do so at your own risk. You may lose a significant amount of time from your day, and your heart may nearly be torn in two when you’re deciding whether ‘tis best to go with “Bohemian Baby Blue” or “Southern Girl.” You may not even be able to come a decision, but instead decide to choose ALL of the backgrounds, using a different one for your blog every single day. I try to restrain myself, and only change my blog monthly. It hasn’t been so tempting lately because I haven’t been writing as much, but when I post on a regular basis it is nearly impossible to keep from delving into that collection of backgrounds of pure delight. No, this is not an obsession. This is love.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Lessons from Bach

Sitting at my piano, my fingers trace the notes of a prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach, gently feeling across the yellowed ivory keys. For centuries, Bach’s compositions have inspired and astounded musicians of every time and origin. I am no exception. For a moment, I allow myself to imagine my name becoming just as famous as Bach’s. But as my mind attempts to sort out the blurry swirl of notes in front of me and devise a brilliant analysis, it is instead swept away by their magnificent complexity, leaving my colossal dreams in a cloud of dust. The dazzling array of genius presented before me is the bread and butter of every dedicated piano student. However, Bach was not always a treasured name, as it is among musicians today.

Seemingly born at the wrong time, J.S. Bach’s style of music was quickly becoming outdated just as he was growing in his musical skills. He was a Bach musician from a long line of other Bach musicians, most of who are now forgotten. For the majority of his life Johann was a lowly church musician, and he nearly shared the fate of his ancestors. In his own times he was not considered an esteemed artist nor a brilliant man, did not sell hundreds of copies of his compositions, and was never fought over by princes and dukes like popular musicians. Enrich Neumann says in Art and the Creative Unconscious “But whether the artist grows slowly away from the tradition of his time or passes over it at one bound, …ultimately, if he does not stop at the stage of representation of the cultural canon—and no truly great artist has ever done so—he finds himself alone.” And so it was with Bach. Although he is perhaps the most brilliant musician to put quill pen to paper, in his own time he was all but unnoticed.

It may seem strange that an almost-forgotten musician who has been dead for nearly three hundred years could influence my thoughts greatly or inform my decisions, but Bach lived an inspiring life. Although he never knew his music would become universally acknowledged as genius, he continued writing what he loved despite his lack of popularity and small income. He placed importance on sharing the gift of music with his family—he had too many children to count, several who also became well known musicians—and also on God; on each of his sacred works he wrote “For God’s glory only.” Did he, like me, ever dream of fame and fortune? Did he, too, indulge himself in imagining the magnificent changes he could spark in the world? Johann Sebastian Bach did not achieve grandeur or great respect in his lifetime, yet his life was not lacking because of it. If he had ignored his own desires to do what would make him great and had not composed the beautiful music God had for him to write, however, his life would have lacked the richness he shared with his family, and after his death, the world.

As I sit here at my piano listening to each note’s voice, I feel the richness of Bach’s life seep into my own. Unlike Bach, I will probably never be a genius musician, and I doubt my name will ever be a household word. But like the great composer, I cannot see what will happen many years from now and my future is still hazy, at best. My only choice, it seems, is to live like Bach—doing what is right and best without regard to popularity or fame, being ready for whatever opportunities the future reveals. The music in front of me is still a classical conundrum of complex notes and my future is still uncertain but, perhaps, Bach has made my present purpose more clear.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Words are amazing. It’s difficult to understand how a combination of a few letters can cause so many different reactions, depending on how they are used. They are a powerful tool that can encourage, comfort, teach, welcome, rebuke, hurt, and even destroy. In the right mouths, words can slice the very soul of a person. Those of you who know me may agree that I do not spread my words liberally, but even in spite of this, I still find it difficult at times to channel my speech in ways that are glorifying to God. How easy it is to let an unkind comment slip off your tongue, almost without realizing it.

Each day, it takes no ear-straining to catch wafts of conversations that are derogatory and ugly towards others, and it is almost like listening to nails screech down a chalk board. Even though I may know talking in this way can be hurtful and is a poor witness, it is far too easy to let my guard down and fall into the habit. From experience, I have realized that negative comments can not only hurt other people, but can also be harmful to yourself. It’s true. For some reason, giving an audible voice to ungodly opinions only makes them grow stronger. This makes it much more difficult to change your thoughts and see things the way you know God wants you to, which in turn strains your relationship with Him, as all sin does. It would be so much better to just speak kindly to begin with.