To Err is Human, to Arr is Pirate!

There’s this smell that is so perfect that I can’t help but smile and feel happy to be alive. Let’s see if I can share it with you.

Think of your favorite food, it’s aroma slowly building into a crescendo of mouth watering anticipation. Allow yourself to savor it. Think of your favorite flower, or a newly mowed lawn, or anything that opens its buds in spring. Envision that freshness of life surrounding you, green and blue and pink and orange and yellow. Think about your favorite music. Listen for the sounds that make you smile, the sounds that bring you peace, the sounds that fill you with energy.

Now, think about your favorite people. Those you love most, those who make you laugh the most, those who accept you for who you are unconditionally. Place them beside you.

Breathe it in.

It’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s like walking into a wall of emotion and memory, but it’s so good.

This was, incidentally, what my Saturday afternoon was like. Erin and I made our way to the Fells Point Privateer Festival, and oh boy, what a time we had! Such sounds, smells and smiles!

A very talented pirate troupe took the stage to serenade us with sea shanties.

Soooo crowded!!!

I have always loved street fairs. Not only do they provide an excuse to eat fried food and people watch, but they also herald spring’s persistence and the approach of summer. And that is a time worthy of rejoicing.

This festival was a new experience though. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to local fests, but this was the first piratical fair I’ve experienced. I have never seen so many corseted wenches and tricornered-hatted men in my life. Seriously.

Reenactors chilling on the pier.

A tall ship!

I should probably mention that it wasn’t all food and professional pirates – if you wanted your own gear you could peruse the vendors and choose from hats, gowns, waistcoats, jewelry, and so much more to add to your wardrobe.

Ugh, I wanted one so badly! They're a pretty penny though.

 

Cthulhu-esque arm cuff.

 

I invested in this nifty vest. I was quite excited to wear it!

Despite the inevitable sunburn, I had a blast. I thoroughly enjoyed singing along to sea shanties, eating delicious food (bacon wrapped mozzarella sticks, anyone?), and absorbing the sights and smells of Baltimore in the springtime.

Missing the Emerald Isle

It’s almost been a week since I returned and as much as I’m enjoying good strong coffee and Christmas movie marathons, there are things about Ireland that I already miss. Although a few of them are seasonal, like the less obtrusive Christmas and holiday paraphernalia, some of them are of a more permanent nature.

Time for a List!

  1. That Irish Accent. When I was in Cork I was surrounded by people with Irish, German, French, Dutch, and English accents. I hung out with Americans in and out of class, but I still spent a good amount of time with very mellow non-American accents. Being back in Jersey has made me understand why people say Americans are loud and, well, easy to poke fun at. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have an accent (I drop my constants constantly), but I’m still getting used to my parents making “cawfee” in the morning.
  2. Respect for Pedestrians. Coming from the tri-state area means you’re used to all sorts of drivers, and if you visit the city often enough you know you have to book it across the street if you don’t want to get run over, even if you have a green light. I originally thought I’d have major issues in Ireland, with them driving on the opposite side of the street and everything. But honestly, they are some of the most polite drivers in the world. They actually wait for you to cross the street, and they don’t stop within a hairsbreadth of you or trigger a mini-heart attack while you speed walk past a sign that says “pedestrians have right of way.”
  3. Sense of Anonymity. Cork may not be a big city, but it’s large enough I wouldn’t run into 10 people from UCC I knew while grocery shopping. Coming from a small town where that happens on a regular basis really made me appreciate the just-right size of Cork. Not too big so I can walk to classes and stores easily, and not too small so that everyone knew my business.
  4. Food Quality. Especially the dairy products. I don’t think I had ever seen so many brands and types of butter until I went to Tesco in Cork. It took up half an aisle. I’m not kidding. The Irish love their butter, and they know you get what you pay for. I have been completely spoiled on fresh eggs, fresh butter, fresh milk, fresh cheese, fresh meat, fresh everything. If you shopped at the English Market you’d be guaranteed low prices and great quality while supporting local farmers and shop owners. My parents cook almost all our dinners from scratch, but I’m still going to miss buying a bushel of carrots with the green leaves still attached.
  5. Chips. Not Fries, Chips. You haven’t experienced Ireland properly until you have some chips at Jackie Lennox’s, Chipsy King, or, honestly, any place that cuts their own. The Irish have perfected chips: light and fluffy on the inside, crispy and crunchy on the outside. The only place at home that can compete from home is Cream King, and it’s only open in the summer, so I’m kind of bummed about that.

What I miss most of all, or rather, who I miss most of all are the people. The Irish are extremely friendly, outgoing, and have a very quirky sense of humor. From shop owners to students you’d be greeted with a smile and wave, and I can’t tell you how many times a 5 minute conversation turned into an hour discussion. I know I’ll stay on contact with my friends via Facebook and all, but those group invites to see The Hobbit and Merry Christmas Wishes tug at my heartstrings a little. Hopefully I’ll be back soon!

(Insert London Reference Here)

This morning I amused my roommate to no end by trying to speak. And by trying to speak, I mean croak out an explanation of the communications project I was working on, only to have my voice break half way through a sentence and cause Julia to chortle into her coffee.

Yes, it is indeed that time of year again. The common cold creeps upon unsuspecting victims whose weary immune systems are vulnerable after weeks of personal stress, upcoming final papers, and a weekend excursion to London.

I think it was really that last bit that brought me down with the sniffles, but I don’t regret it one bit! London was…London was beautiful. London was filled with adventures, from strolling through Hyde Park and Baker Street to seeing the Crown Jewels in the Tower. London doesn’t feel like home, as Ireland does, but it fills me with possibility and wonder and joy and great expectations.

I’m afraid I have to say that London beats Paris. Because let’s face it, the following experiences I’m about to share with you will always bring a smile to my face.

As previously mentioned, Hyde Park and Baker Street were our first stops in the city, after quickly figuring out the London Underground of course (it actually isn’t that difficult – it’s way more straightforward than NYC). A brisk stroll through the park brought us to the construction of a winter carnival, which my friends and I got super excited about until we realized they wouldn’t be opening till next week. Bummer. But, we did manage to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the Serpentine!

Our quest for 221B Baker Street proved to be unfruitful, however, as the actual set where productions of Sherlock Holmes is elsewhere in the city. But, we did come across a Beatles paraphernalia shop which was oddly appropriate for the next day’s adventure to Abbey Road.

After witnessing an undercover cop chase down a man in handcuffs, we decided to head over to the Tower, eating a breakfast of baguette sandwiches along the way.

As you can see, we couldn’t have asked for better weather, the sun gracing us with warmth and beautiful lighting for shots of Tower Bridge.

It was really cool to walk around in a place filled with so much history. Just think of all the kings, visitors, and yes, prisoners, who came there through the centuries! We saw so much: the Crown Jewels, the armory, the minting process, the King Edward I’s bed chambers, gargoyles galore, and of course the ravens! (btw, I had no idea they were so big)

Our day continued to follow a historical theme as we made our way to the Globe Theater after winding our way through the London streets. This, I think, was Erin’s favorite part of the trip. I mean, walking past this:

to get to this:

had her jumping with joy. I know, I know, the Globe actually burned down centuries ago, but the theater that stands there today is historically accurate, even down to the method of construction! Our guide even told us that audiences still stand to see the plays, and participation (within reason) is allowed, just like during Shakespeare’s day. I would love to be a part of that someday, to be such an active viewer of one of his works.

I seriously thought my day couldn’t get much better, I mean, seeing historical places, right? Well, being the foodie I am, my evening rocked compared to the daytime activities. Rocked as in That was one of the best meals of my life ever. Hunger may be the best sauce, but add a little wine, good friends, and a delicious desert, and you’ve got the makings of a feast. I ate what was possibly the best fish n chips of my life, followed by sharing a desert platter of chocolatey goodness and raspberry peach cobbler (with apple sorbet!). Looking around the table at my friends, sharing in their laughter and good spirits is a memory I will always cherish.

To top off the evening (and walk off desert), we set off to view Big Ben, the Eye, and the Houses of Parliament in all their lighted glory. We also came across a telephone booth, and yes, we took the obligatory tourist pictures!


Despite coming down with a cold, London was truly an amazing experience and I sincerely hope I can return someday.

*Stay tuned next week for my day adventure in Cardiff!

Autumnal Elation

Ah, autumn has come at last! Leaves crunch underfoot, wind whips down alleyways, and it wouldn’t Ireland without a good dose of cold rain.

And by rain, I mean torrential downpours that come at you sideways broken up by squalls of lighter, slightly more tolerable rain. What would have been a pleasant walk to the train station was more like a swim. I mean, I was soaked. I could squeeze water out of my pants, that’s how wet I was.

Now, why on earth would I subject myself to such unpleasantness?

For Science!

Ahem, sorry, *cough*. I mean, For Service!

The study abroad program at Loyola requires all students complete an immersion project, which can either be a massive scrapbook (including interviews!)/paper reflection about your experiences, or 15 hours of service while abroad and a reflection.

Erin and I chose to do the latter, so we were very happy to hear that there was a service fair provided by the chaplaincy to make it easier for students to find service organizations to volunteer for. At the fair, we came across a table for Fota House, a restored 19th century mansion and grounds that holds events and workshops during the year and hosts tours during the spring and summer.

Being the history and reenactment nerd I am, I was super excited to check them out. And by excited I mean I filled out the volunteer form and returned it to the house this week, full of anticipation for working in what is basically Downton Abbey.

This week Erin will be helping with Halloween workshops for kids, and the following week I’ll be pressing apples for cider with the gardeners! Ah! So psyched!

I think a large part of this excitement is missing the fall traditions of home. Not exactly homesickness, but just certain things that are my favorite memories at Loyola or New Jersey.

In case Halloween/Autumn Fever hasn’t hit you yet, here are a few things to get you in the mood!

  1. Dorm Decoration! I’ve had so much fun with this the past two years. Whether or not you opt in for kids trick-or-treating at your door, it’s still fun to get your orange and black on.
  2. Apple or Pumpkin Picking. Ok, so I haven’t actually done this since high school, but it’s a blast. I keep on seeing pictures of friends on facebook picking apples back home at Terhune Orchards, or with a Loyola group on a trip.
  3. Pumpkin Carving. While it’s technically an extension of the above, it’s by far my favorite Halloween activity. Ever since I can remember I would design the pumpkin faces for my family, and eventually got to carve them myself. I don’t care how gross pulling out the “guts” can feel, it wouldn’t be Halloween without the smell of pumpkin in the apartment!
  4. Halloween Movie Marathons. Whether it’s Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein or Friday the 13th, everyone loves a good movie scare. And if you’re not up for scares, ABC Family is probably showing Halloweentown or Hocus Pocus (Ah, the good ol’ days).
  5. Foooooood. Everyone loves it. Grab some orange frosting and ice some creepy cupcakes, or turn pigs in a blanket to mini-mummies. No matter what you make, Halloween themed foods are the best.

Instant Friends: Just Add Food!

Nothing brings people together faster than new, and sometimes intimidating, situations and sharing meals. Going to college means mastering control over awkward situations, learning the skills of small talk, and knowing that eating with new people provides an excuse for contemplative silence. Studying abroad in a new country, well, that puts all of this to the test.

As someone who’s a bit shy when it comes to striking up a conversation, social situations are a bit stressful for me. I’ve never been the best at breaking the ice and keeping up conversational banter has often left me tongue-tied. Coming to Ireland was a bit like freshman year at Loyola all over again. I was in a new city with new people and new professors and new class systems and new everything. Not gonna lie, it was kind of scary.

At Loyola I had a friend group, well, several friend groups, and I had activities outside of class that I knew would be full of “regulars.” My professors knew me by name, and I knew I could have lovely conversations outside class with many of them. Loyola’s small campus provides a very cozy feeling to those who are a bit homesick, and apart from the Humanities building, it’s fairly easy to navigate.

Being at UCC is like transferring to a state school: there are over 20,000 students, the campus is much larger, the classes do not cap at 35, and I haven’t met any of my professors yet, so I can’t really tell you how that’s going. But despite these differences, there seems to be a universal equation for making new friends.

Food + People = Natural Flow of Conversation

During my Early Start course we had a coffee/snack break halfway through the lecture period and after the first day, people started joining each other for tea and coffee. I met a great group of friends who were history, anthropology, archeology, English, and various other majors and we had wonderful conversations that day and during the following weeks.

But I really think a lot of this had to do with eating food. There’s something so communal about breaking bread, or a chocolate croissant, with someone. Now that I have a new roommate, this also carries over. We make dinner at about the same time, so we chat as we cook and our conversations carry on well past our plates becoming empty.

A couple of weeks ago Erin and I were eating lunch in the Chaplaincy and there were some Irish students hanging out there. After a bit, they joined our conversation and we had a really fun time getting their perspective on stuff. We also learned some more of the slang (“Crack” here does not mean the illegal substance like in the US, just a heads up).

This past weekend I had to register with the police (that I was legal, and a student, and would be leaving in December, etc.), and on the way to the station, Erin and I came across a few American Early Start students who were doing the same thing. After a (very) stressful 2 hours, we had a celebratory meal together at a wonderful little bistro. And again, the entire time we were together there was a running conversation.

I’m telling you, there’s something about food.

Speaking of which, I should probably get some lunch now. I bought some fresh bead yesterday and I’ve been dying to make grilled cheese.

For photo-sets of my wanderings in Ireland, please visit roryroamingthegreenhills.tumblr.com. Thank you!

Sisters, Friends, and Study Abroad

I think I made what is to be one of my favorite college memories last night. It was one of those moments when you can step out of yourself and say “This. This is what I’m living for. And I don’t want it to end.” Of course it does, but now you have a snapshot of that one particular moment with that one particular set of feelings and that one particular smile of pure contentment playing on your lips.

Before I tell you what it was that had me loving life, I should probably give you some context before you think all I do is cook and partake in other house-wifey duties. I should also mention that this relates to my future plans for next year.

I know I’ve written that I have a sister, Curran, but I don’t think you know much more other than there’s 13 years between us and she is now raising a beautiful family with her husband Tim in Massachusetts. I didn’t get to visit her very frequently during high school, and I get to even less now that I’m in Maryland. However, since starting college, I’ve begun the practice of visiting her for about a week in the summer and winter. Those visits are truly a change of scene that I wouldn’t give up for the world.

In the winter we sit in front of a crackling fire and sip hot cider while reading books after the kids have gone to bed. In the summer we go to children’s museums in the day and concerts in the park at night. But no matter the season we always cook together. Curran has her own garden and a farm share to supply fresh vegetables and herbs; I swear it tastes different from what you buy in the store. When we start a recipe from her arsenal of cookbooks, I always end up learning something new about the art of cooking. From a faster way to chop onions to the proper order of making pesto, she makes these lessons family memories.

This is due in part to the conversations we have and the music we listen to, but the best thing we share during these bonding sessions is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Yes, I know, I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s something that has become a family past time. As we mince garlic and wash lettuce, we try to guess the Listener Limerick and always have a good laugh when Paula Poundstone is on the show.

And as of last night, I was able to share this experience with my roommate Erin. After an exhausting week we wanted to keep our Friday night relaxing, so I made homemade spaghetti sauce with fettuccine for dinner. Instead of playing my usual cooking playlist and dancing along, or Erin watching Doctor Who in our bedroom, we enjoyed each others’ company in the kitchen. And listened to Wait Wait.

As I stirred the sauce, I looked over to see Erin laughing at Peter Sagal’s commentary while playing her 3DS, the warm light creating a comforting glow, and our future dinner filling the room with a tantalizing aroma. That’s when it happened. That moment of happiness: a sense of belonging based on the trust of friendship and the sharing of interests.

Now, as to how this could possibly have anything to do with my future plans, well…next semester Erin and I are embarking on an adventure. We’ll be leaving family and friends (though I’m sure we’ll make some new ones) to study abroad in Cork, Ireland! We’ve agreed not to be direct roommates for that time, but it’s reassuring to know she’ll still be there with me. To say I’m excited to share new experiences and make new memories would be the biggest understatement of the year. I am beyond excited.

I am impassioned, thrilled, wild, ecstatic; basically every possible adjective that could express happiness at this wonderful opportunity to learn about a new culture and make some amazing memories with one of my good friends.

Defeating the Escape Artist in Us All

I think one of the most common questions a college student hears after “What’s your major?” is “What do you do for fun?” Which, when you think about it, can sometimes be difficult to answer.

Not because all college students partake in nefarious activities (that’s an overstatement), but because “fun” is a relative term. Some of my friends consider a fun time to be vegging out all weekend and cramming in homework Sunday night, while others have more energetic (albeit tiring) activities throughout the weekend.

One thing is for certain though. If you live in Baltimore, there is always something to do. There may not be as many activities on campus, but Loyola definitely isn’t a suitcase school.

Take last weekend for example. My Italian professor invited his different classes over to his house for dinner. We met his family, he made pizza (by made, I mean tossing the dough and all that jazz) and we got to hang out in a new environment. The food and company was fantastic! If a professor ever offers some sort of food, take the opportunity to spend time with them and see them outside the classroom. It’s worth it, if not only for the free meal!

I spent Saturday afternoon at a meeting with friends, then went to the Towson Mall with my roommates and had a wonderful dinner at Pho Danh Than, a Vietnamese restaurant in Towson. We blazed a trail through the slushy streets and icy sidewalks to warm up with Goi Cuon Thit Nuóng, pork summer rolls, and Bún Gà Nuróng Xa, a vermicelli dish with bean sprouts, lemon grass chicken, and a spicy/sweet sauce on the side.

Summer Pork Roll Vermicelli

The next day was the Super Bowl and you’d be fool if you didn’t get a tiny bit excited, even if it’s only for the the commercials! Honestly, my roommates and I aren’t big football people, but it was really exciting to hear the celebrations across campus after the Ravens won. We also had a fantastic spread of food!

Homemade Hummus

I made hummus!

Edmame

We also made pizza and fries to balance out the "healthy" food.

If going off campus isn’t your thing, during the week there’s a fair amount of special lectures, club meetings, sports, and of course downtime with friends. Oh, and sleep. Sleep is always good during the week!

Knitting Club
A lively meeting of the Knifty Knitters

Of course, if you decide to go back home for the weekend to “escape” school, you miss out on a lot of cool experiences that are unique to the Loyola campus/area.

My friend Mary alerted my roommates and me to a pottery place in Mt. Washington, which is just a short drive away from campus, so off we went Friday night (once again through the rain and wet) to spend a few relaxing hours painting and nattering away.

MaryErinTeapot

Later that evening, I spent some time at the studio working on intaglio prints while Erin and our friend Connor knitted and kept me company. The following day our group of friends spent another large chunk of time together celebrating Erin’s birthday with food, cake, and watching Across the Universe and The Princess Bride.

You’d think I’d had enough social interaction by now. But to be honest, it’s what I live for. I love being on a campus where I can say my dorm is my home, my friends are my family, and the time I spend with them on the weekends is my “escape” from school while still staying on campus.

Adventure Time!

If you ever visit my room, the first thing you’ll see is the “Room 213 Bucket List.”
Bucket List

My roommates and I made it at the beginning of the year because we kept on coming up with things to do but either a) forgot them in a week, or b) lost motivation to do them. This weekend we were finally able to check off a few boxes after our adventure to the Inner Harbor.

Our original plan was to visit the aquarium, as suggested by my roommate Erin, but their tickets were a bit pricey for the short amount of time we had available to us. Instead, we decided to meander around the Inner Harbor and let our stomachs lead us to an eventual destination.

Getting out of the apartment to explore the city was such a good idea. It was gorgeous. There was a light breeze, blue skies, and Christmas decorations were slowly changing the piers into a jungle of colored lights (Personally, I don’t want anything to do with Christmas till after Thanksgiving. But, I have to admit that the Inner Harbor decorations got me excited).

Crazy Roomies

USS Constitution

USS Constitution ~ I love maritime history!

As we walked along the crowded walkway, we snapped pictures of the beautiful sunset and sang along to the Christmas carols a street musician played on his saxophone.

It turns out the first destination we came to was Barnes and Noble.

Luckily, all my roommates love to read, so we killed an hour or two perusing the maze of books. I got side-tracked by a Hobbit display case (I’m so excited for the movie. Words cannot describe my enthusiasm for J.R.R. Tolkein and Martin Freeman). After many declarations of oohs and aahs in the fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, art, and knitting section, I finally decided I could indulge myself and buy Clash of Kings. Soon after, the fragrant smells coming from The Hard Rock Cafe next door caused us all to agree that it was time for dinner.

As we exited the store, a crowd gathered by one of the piers and a choir began to sing. I’m sure they sounded lovely, but our attention was drawn to Noodles and Co.

At Dinner

I had a lovely Chicken Pad Thai…

Chix Pad Thai

and we chatted about our Thanksgiving traditions over our food.

After a very filling meal, we walked around some of the shops and I got a bit of Christmas shopping done (shout out to Stacey: be prepared for an awkwardly awesome gift!).

By the time we returned outside, it had grown dark and Santa was making the rounds in a massive crowd of families by the pier. There was even snow confetti!!!

Snow Confetti!

And a giant pink poodle (I think it was a cotton candy vendor).

Pink Poodle

All the walking around and seeing the sights was fairly exhausting, so we headed home shortly thereafter to mugs of tea and lounging in pajamas. I broke out the new book and continued to work on some art homework.

All in all, it was a pretty good (and pretty tiring) weekend. I wonder what we’ll do next on the bucket list…..

Body as Machine

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….