The Way to a Girl’s Heart? Good Food and Good Art.

I think my brain has been thought-out. It’s processed so much information and absorbed so many visuals over the past three days it just can’t take any more. A nap might be the best remedy, but before I have the luxury of doing that, I’d like to share with you the cause of my Sunday sleepiness.

Fall Break

No, I didn’t go home like most of the campus (I did last year. Homecoming through the eyes of a college student: never again). Instead, I shared an exciting weekend with my mom, as we explored the sights of Mount Vernon and two art museums.

It all began with an insanely relaxing Thursday afternoon of painting

My Thursday Afternoonand watching Miss Marple: At Bertram’s Hotel (I’m a sucker for mysteries and British accents). After my mom arrived, we had dinner (fresh from the Trenton Farmer’s Market!) and Skyped my sister, who gave us the down low her kids’ Halloween costumes: a pirate and Yoda.

Of course, you can’t spend time with your parents on campus and not go to Miss Shirley’s for breakfast. This was my second time going, and I highly recommend the Cinnamon Roll French Toast! Combine their food with 60s/70s music, and you’ve got the makings of a wonderful day.

I know I said “art museums” and “exciting” in the same sentence, and many of you are probably shaking your heads in skepticism. But let me say this: The Walter’s Art Museum is not your typical art museum. Yes, they have large rooms filled with giant portraits of Europe’s nobility, countless paintings of martyred saints, and a very nice selection of 19th century landscapes, but they also have the “Chamber of Wonders.” Here resides everything from a mounted crocodile to delicately inlayed chests. Or

So pretty!!!

or

Lovin the Iridescence

or

Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

And, OK, fine, I admit it, I had to go there for my art history class, so it wasn’t out of pure intellectual curiosity that I gazed at art for four hours.

However, whether or not you go for fun, the Walter’s is a really cool museum. It’s also in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, which is home to some of the best restaurants in Baltimore and the first monument to George Washington.

Mt. Vernon MonumentFlowers at Mt. VernonSt. Paul'sOh Young Grasshopper...After discovering the not-quite-so-young-grasshopper, we walked over to Sascha’s 527 Cafe and had a refreshing dinner of crab cakes (another Maryland must have).

You’d think that I’d had enough of walking around, but no. My Italian class brought me to the Baltimore Museum of Art which is right by Johns Hopkins University, and easy to access via the Collegetown Shuttle.

Even though several of their galleries were closed for renovation, I still got to see some beautiful art.

Landscape at BMA The Kiss by Rodin

There’s a sculpture garden by the museum, but modern art isn’t really my thing, so I took pictures of the flowers instead:

So many pretty flowers! Leaves Changing

Although it was still fairly sunny, the temperature had definitely dropped by the time I got home, so I decided to make a stick-to-your-ribs Tex-Mex macaroni dinner. My sister gave me a book of pasta recipes, and I had yet to try one, so I took the advantage of the calm Saturday evening to make this:

Prep for DinnerTex-Mex macaroni!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my eyes are so tired and my brain is so sore. It was so much fun, but *yawn* I think it’s time to heed the calls of my warm bed.

Fall’s Furry Friends

As soon as he said “Breathe in slowly and exhale, feel your muscles relax. Breathe in and let the stress flow away from your body,” I knew that as Friday wrapped up a wonderful weekend would begin.

I was not wrong.

You might be wondering why on earth I’d be psyched about a little meditation, but trust me, after the week I had, I was really happy the Student Leadership Corps focused on stress and time management in our weekly session.

Taking time to unwind is crucial at school; I know I sound like one of those info sessions everyone gets dragged to in high school, but it’s true. I’m usually wound up really tight (both physically and mentally) so having an evening to hang out with friends, while partaking in not quite “conventional” entertainment for 19 year olds, is really appreciated.

What might this unconventional entertainment be?

Build-A-Bear

My friend turned 19 last week, so she requested we go to Build-A-Bear as celebration of this momentous event. My roommates and I met her on the East side of campus, where I noticed the trees were changing and got really distracted by the beautiful colors:

SO PRETTY
I love little inconsistencies

After a brief ride to the mall, we embarked on our journey to make new furry friends (Hey, I’m just quoting their website).
Paige, me, Nicole, and Erin

And yes, we did do the little dance/embarrassing series of hops and hand motions to ensure our bears had hearts full of love. No shame.

So much love

Here is Dr. Hiddles Holmes, one of the newest members of my room’s family.
Be jealous guys, he's a triple threat!

After eating the obligatory food court dinner and meandering through some shops, we headed home and (literally) chased down a shuttle to take us back to our dorm.

Some hours of sleep later found me yet again taking an early morning stroll to the art studio (I’m amazed my roommate hasn’t thrown a pillow at me yet for waking up at 6 on the weekends).

I love this tree by Knott HallBones are very interesting to draw...

As much as I love art, I wanted to get back to my room so we could decorate for Halloween. See, my mom sends me care packages labeled with “Do Not Open Till” leading up to various holidays (including International Talk Like a Pirate Day) so my roommates and I were pretty excited when we opened the box full of fall decorations.

So festive!

Don’t worry, the festive atmosphere didn’t go unseen by others! Students from the Alpha  Theology class I’m an Aide for came over for spaghetti dinner that night. Apparently our room has a very homey atmosphere, but is very clearly “young adult” oriented (Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory stares me down when I walk out my bedroom).

Homemade Sauce, too!!!We have so much leftover....Anyone want to come by for spaghetti?

All in all it was a pretty good weekend. Jam packed, but totally worth it. I live for those moments that seem to span an entire day when it’s only been a few hours. Sadly, those days are the most tiring, and right now it’s coming back to bite me.

Maybe I’ll put those relaxing exercises to work later this evening….

The Omniscient Fortune Cookies

Loyola administrators are smart. At least, whoever decides when to have breaks and special weekends is. It’s like they’ve figured out a formula to keep students at a tug of war with their parents over college’s newfound freedom.

Think about it this way:
Week of Fun Without Major Homework + Week of Intro Activities + Week of First Club Meetings & More Homework + Week of First Papers & Exams = Perfect Build Up to Family Weekend.

By the time 4 weeks has gone by, most students want a little bit of “home” back in their lives.

And then by Sunday they want their Loyola back.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, but I also love my independence. This school is so much like a home to me I don’t always need the reassurance of my parental units to know there’s someone who cares about my existence. But it was still nice to spend the weekend with them, even if it was a short visit.

*Insert cheesy but heartfelt call out to Mom and Dad here*

For those of you who are wondering what this whole Family Weekend thing is about, I’ll give you the low down:

It begins on Friday with the Honors Convocation, during which all the students who received academic achievement awards, summer programs, or are in an honor society, are recognized. The first years who are in the Honors Program or received academic scholarships are also recognized. Of course, before the awards are given out, there are speeches and one of the faculty is honored for “outstanding achievement in scholarship or creative work,” (The Nachbahr Award).

The rest of the weekend passes in a blur of sports games, food (provided by the university and your parents’ ability to drive you to the Inner Harbor), a “big” event on Saturday night, and mass on Sunday (always packed).

The school keeps everyone busy, even if families don’t attend every event.
For example, I spent my Saturday morning drawing

and enjoying the quad with my parents

before working on homework while they chilled out in my common room.

We also went out to the Towson Mall; I needed some more “mature” clothing.
(I’m really more of a t-shirt & jeans girl, and have recently found myself lacking in the
“job interview” and “nice occasions” clothes department)

After asking my dad if there was an equation to determine the yield of clothes purchased from clothes chosen (in vain), we decided it was time to eat dinner.

Little did we know of the fates that awaited us at P. F. Chang’s.

It sounds crazy, but I’m pretty sure the fortune cookie writers have had workshops and focus groups to determine which phrases resonate most with customers, because my own and my parents’ fortunes were eerily relevant or accurate to our lifestyles.

Mine: Keep your feet on the ground even though friends flatter you.
My mom’s: Learning is a treasure which accompanies us everywhere.
My dad’s: Patience is a key to joy.

How could I apply these indispensable pieces of wisdom to my life?

Patience is truly the key to completing homework, as I try to reassure myself that my History paper is a treasure, and in the end a joyful experience when my professor will (hopefully) flatter me with a good grade.

Maybe fortune cookies and parents teach you more than you expect after all.

Here Comes The Sun

This is going to sound ridiculous, especially coming from a college student, but it’s one of those things that will stay with you for a while (I can’t guarantee forever).

Wake up with the sun and walk around campus.

Bring an apple. Wear a jacket. Put on some shades (especially if you’re walking from Campion/Newman, you’ll be heading directly east). Listen to morning music (Fleet Foxes and Simon & Garfunkel are my preference).

I know what you’re thinking. What sane twenty-something gets up early to take a walk?

Confession: it wasn’t by choice that I discovered the calmness of campus at 7:30 AM.
I’m taking a life drawing class this semester which requires a lot of work: every week for homework we cover a new body part or bone structure and have reading assignments (open discussion during breaks in class), along with working from a model during the weekly class time. This week I had to draw the ribcage and pelvis from the front and side, so I got up super early to work in studio.

Last semester I had gotten up early for 8ams, but other people were walking around so the campus was populated, but very sleepy looking.

On the weekend though? Empty. Dead silent. Peaceful. Beautiful. Bright. Content.
It’s kind of rare to see Loyola like that, so empty yet so alive at the same time. The sun washes everything with a bright, golden light that practically makes the building glow. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some trees changing color.

The sunrise is so obvious but so often overlooked.

I’m asking a lot, I know. I really didn’t want to get up early (or at all) this weekend, but homework had to be done. I hear your groans and imagine your hands thrown up in disgust at the notion of rolling out of bed before noon on a Saturday.

But you should still do it. At least once.

So take a bite out of that apple, adjust your sunglasses, straighten your jacket, walk to the beat of your favorite band and soak up the morning sun.

Then take a nap in the afternoon.

Walls Can Speak Louder Than Words

When I started blogging I was told “Write the way you talk. Have a conversation with your readers.” When I sat down to write, my brain filled with cliches of introductions and I stared at a blank screen for a very long time. And then I stared at my wall, which is far from blank.

Some college dorms are decorated so they look like they came out of a Pottery Barn ad. Others bear resemblance to an insane asylum with white walls and overly bright light fixtures. There are a lot in between, but it’s safe to say that my wall is a fairly accurate depiction of myself: my interests, humor, loves, hopes, and eccentricities.

Which is why I have come to the conclusion that maybe by explaining my wall I can describe myself to you lovely readers.

And so it begins.

The first thing you’ll notice on my wall are all the art postcards. I’m (probably) a double major in English and Fine Arts, with a minor in Entrepreneurship. I really enjoy beautiful things, from sunsets to sautéed chicken, or violets to Van Gogh.

After you get over the 100+ postcards interspersed on my wall, you’ll notice 4 large posters. The first is an illuminated copy of “The Tyger” by William Blake I made in high school (I like writing poetry, not just reading it!). I grew up on the West coast of New Jersey in a very small town and went to a medium sized high school that strongly encouraged the arts and reading (my first love). But before that I was homeschooled for 6 years, which included the watching of PBS as part of school, taking history tours of the cities my parents visited, and going to a lot of science museums (along with normal schoolwork).

Of course, you can’t watch PBS for years and not see some late-night Monty Python or go to museums and avoid the dinosaur exhibit. Which is why I have “The Ministry of Silly Walks” and “Dinosaurs of Distinction: Pittsburgh” posters. The fourth and final large poster is of the TV show Doctor Who, one of my favorite productions of the BBC. If you like British accents, ridiculous plot twists that defy the laws of physics, and traveling through time and space, you should watch it.

The rest of my wall is made up of smaller posters, like The Beatles, Extreme Ironing, and some of my friends’ and my own art work. I also keep a map on the wall covered in pins of where I’ve been and where I want to go.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

I know it seems like a lot to have on a wall, something that is usually taken for granted as simply a building’s structure. But my wall is an extension of myself. Its bright colors and memories held up by thumbtacks make me smile after a long day of classes or an evening meeting of Philosophy or Knitting Club.

No matter how busy and stressed I get, I know I always have a place to call home. My room and my roommates are part of that, as is the Loyola community as a whole. Speaking of which, I have some homework to finish up before I watch 500 Days of Summer with my friends.

I know I haven’t told you as much as you might want to know, but there are many more posts to come!