I don’t always eat your food out of stress, but when I do…

It’s true, I’m not that great of a blogger. I get easily distracted, I tend to start something and not finish it, I find something more exciting, or I’ll just get a fantastic idea, then it’ll will just totally die on me like a dried up earthworm on your sidewalk in the middle of the summer.

Image stolen from here: http://www.itlookslikeitsopen.com/2011/07/catch-worm-man.html

The Horror!

However, today, I’m looking forward to things. For one, it is the Gregorian calendar’s official first day of spring. Granted, in Pittsburgh, it’s still in the 30s and will probably snow later, but the SUN IS OUT! There is a blue sky! It’s nice to look at from the inside of your warmer home… Anyways, with spring in mind, I’m looking forward to many things this year, such as:

1) Farmer’s Markets

2) Attempts of small gardening (I’m talking little cups on the windowsill)

3) Bike riding (Haven’t done this in over 10 years)

4) Zoo (Haven’t been to the zoo since I was in high school!)

5) Arts Festivals (technically the big one in Pittsburgh isn’t until June, but I’m still excited!

6) BEING OUTSIDE WITH NO WINTER COAT, SCARF, AND GLOVES

Isn’t this exciting?! April better start picking up the pace here and giving us some temperatures above the 50/60 degree mark, along with some flowers and bright colors to look at. Nobody wants this winter weather nonsense anymore, yeah?

(I was going to post a “winter blues” picture, but most of the searches led to odd, anime-styled fanart and babies. My point wasn’t going to get across.)

In other news, I shall be going to Boston for the first time in my life this weekend. Am I totally stoked? Yes. Granted, I do have to spend one day at the PAX convention (the manfriend’s biggest excitement: This is what I’m talking about). I’m not super knowledgeable about video games (I tried playing a demo of Dead Space 3, and the manfriend had to hold the controller with me in my hands and push the right buttons for me; I got so stressed out, I started eating his pizza.)

Image stolen from here: http://gifatron.com/tag/crying-while-eating/

Tears. Food. Swings. This is usually how I react.

The other days can be spent sight seeing, but I’m pretty sure everything we do will be pretty awesome. It’s gonna get weird.

Image borrowed from here: http://www.braco.net/boston-massachusetts

Look at the strikingly beautiful city.

As for the actual PAX, who knows. It’ll be nerdy and creepy, I’m sure. There will be a lot of loud noises, flashy lights, excellent & terrible cosplay, hot girls that never touched a controller in her life, and probably these guys:

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This guy knows what he’s doing

I’m feeling pretty good about life this year though. Even if everything doesn’t work out completely, I’m confident that things WILL come together in the end. There’s something else happening today, but I’m not going to talk about it until I get a result out of it. I try not to be all superstitious, but I’m always afraid I’ll jinx myself. Either way, I’m staying confident and keeping my head up.

‘Til the next time, kids!

How to make a Watermelon Serving Bowl

Baaaahhh, summer is here and I want to eat this!! Nom!! (Apologies for the lack of posting, it’s move in week for me!)

Strawberry Pepper

Summer’s coming! Well for those of us living in the non-temperate Northern Hemisphere it is anyway. And with summer comes the bountiful fresh fruit and frequent summer barbecues. Usually when I go to a barbeque I’ll like to bring some sort of dish with substance, to show off the homemade veggie burgers and quiches, but sometimes, you just gotta be lazy. Let someone else do that work for you.

When that happens my go-to dish is often a fruit salad. Because they’re delicious and healthy and there’s almost nothing better than fresh fruit! And it’s really something you can’t have too much of.

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Requirements: Zero Thinking

The majority of my friends are technologically/media-inclined, which I’m obviously okay with, but that gives me a severe lack of people who would want to be crafty with me. I’m typically the ‘art-sy’ one; I like to write, I like to draw, I like to create stuff, I like to read stuff for ideas, I like to stand outside and admire trees (well… not really… I mean, I’ve looked at trees, but I’m not admiring, really…). It’s not that other people I spent my time with didn’t, it’s the level of interest that was different.

Insert sad face.

I’m sort of in this transition phase where I’m essentially rebelling against watching television; however, it’s not out of spite or some sort of offensive imagery I may have come across (I mean, I have seen some… but I saw more through the INTERWEBS LULZ), it’s just simply to get me to do other things. It’s a ‘What do I do if my television broke or it was stolen?‘ sort of game I enforce on myself every day. It did help me discover a little more of the blog world and the increasingly popular DIY projects trend I see coming along (and love, love! I want to make so much of the stuff I see almost every day), so I’m hoping that the ideas I come across will both motivate and inspire me to do more with my life.

I did have one night of art fun though, which made me super happy and hope to do it again soon. Myself and a couple of friends got together and decided to do a Round Robin version of painting a canvas. Basically, we played some dance/techno music in the background and when the song ended, we switched canvases and continued painting. The starting point and the end results were pretty drastic, but they actually turned out pretty awesome! It’s definitely a fun indoor (although there’s no reason why you can’t do it outside too!) activity for any age.

Gather your items…

We used basic painting supplies: An array of brushes, a multitude of acrylic paint in many shades, a bucket of water, and many paper towels.  The purpose of this is to just start painting with no real clear idea or thought in mind. Just put that brush on the board and let your hands move wherever.

Drinks optional… what kind is also optional…

I will mention that Shiner is one of my favorite beers to drink.

Music starts… and go!

The first painting I did was actually the one with the multi-colored swirls before passing it over. Round shapes are easier for me to etch out than straight edges… I couldn’t tell you why though.

Second song! Quick, switch!

This painting in the front looks nothing like its end result. However, that’s the awesome beauty (ugliness?) of Round Robin. You just really don’t know what to expect.

Next song! AHH!

Technically this picture is from Instagram (username: shaylross :)). As you can see, I was actually doing different photo edits for all these pictures through Picasa (except the Instagram one) because I’m not very good with Photoshop and general picture-taking. Forgive me for my lack of photographic artistic abilities.

One participant chose to observe instead

If we weren’t concerned about the mess and the overall toxicity of the paint, one of us thought about dipping the kitten’s paws in paint and printing them on to the canvas. However, we decided against it because we like cats and somewhat clean apartments.

What number song is this? I lost track, too much paint… ugghh…

See how the left painting has weird prints? I accidentally dropped a pretzel I was trying to munch onto a blob of paint and it was a sudden genius idea to make pretzels stamps on the canvas. Accidents create beauty… or just paint marks shaped like pretzels. Ha!

Step back and admire/cringe at the masterpieces/work of destruction.

The end results are not what you expect. You’re not allowed to tell others what to keep on the canvas nor do you have to follow any sort of pattern on the canvas in front of you. I’m so happy to get back into art again.

Do you guys have any fun art projects or stories to share? Thanks for stopping by!

Father Time Is Here to Beat You.

Time.

Time is something that I realize will continue weighing heavily on my mind for the rest of my life, starting after I graduated from college two years ago. I always seem to find myself speaking with the starting phrase, ‘Back when I was… (insert place, age, reflective memory, etc)’ in response to another person’s story. Honestly, I don’t even think about it when I’m saying it either.

For example, with my part-time (the other job), there’s a younger girl there who was talking about how excited she was to start college this coming fall. I immediately got excited because college was such a fun experience with so many happy memories for me; I started my response (again, without really thinking about) as, “Oh, I remember back to my first semester at college!” and carried on with some of my personal advice on how to keep your head afloat and don’t do dumb stuff, but you probably should accomplish some dumb stuff so you’re aware that it’s dumb.

Drinking 3 beers with 10+% alcohol content is sometimes dumb. Especially alone. While your companion drinks one beer that’s 5%. Jerk.

In the midst of my reflective ramble, I suddenly realized that I was speaking of an event (leaving for college) that happened almost six years ago. To some people, I understand this may not seem like a long time, but someone like myself… it’s a little rough, haha. As I steadily cruise through my 20s, I understand that I’m in a crucial period of making it or breaking it. Of course, anyone can make any changes they want at any point of time in their lives, but let’s face it: You run through elementary and high school like it’s nothing major, jump in the college boat for a couple of years to grab a degree in something, and then once you get off the boat into a ‘New World’… suddenly, you’re actually truly, positively on your own.

Dinner will be waffles! With nutella! And strawberries and bananas! This is what adults eat, right? RIGHT?!

In the past couple years, I learned how to not only take on all mandatory and extra forms of responsibilities, but also how to create myself into the type of person I really would like to be as I continue to age. This is your chance to be the person you want to be, you just have to do what it takes to get it. Everything worth having usually takes some effort on both sides to make it work. I wanted to work in a library real bad but had zero experience, so I decided to volunteer while working two jobs and finally score a job in the midst of that, allowing myself to replace one of the jobs. Just recently, I was upgraded into a better position at a separate branch with much more responsibilities and as well as room to continue learning more. This ordeal took about a year, which might seem fast for some, but it definitely took a lot of effort and networking on my part to get where I am right now.

I also grew my hair long, drastically updated my wardrobe (still a continued process), lost some of that good ol’ college beer gut, switched into a healthy, slight organic vegetarian diet, and finally got myself to read, blog, and draw! I feel much more like myself and who I have wanted to be now than I have in a very long time.

Love, happiness, and Battleship

However, back to the time and age issue. The reason this cropped up into my mind today was because of a certain website called Buzzfeed. If you are not familiar with this media website, it’s essentially a social content website with various posts on… well, anything! Like, Dogs that Look like Pandas, Animal Photobombers or Things that Don’t Make Sense, to name a few.

The one… THE ONE that got to me was this: 48 Things That Will Make You Feel Old. Now, about this particular post, it might be specifically applied to those who fall under the ’90s kids’ generation A.K.A. primarily those in their 20s right now (such as myself). However, the concept of it can be applicable to all ages; so if you were to compile a bunch of items and events that occurred in the 1980s and showed them to all those in their late 20s and 30s, it would more or less have the same effect.

One example in the Buzzfeed post, The Spice Girls’ album, Spice, was released 15 years ago in the U.S. during early 1997 when I was 8 years old. I specifically remember how much of an effect  the Girls had on me though in ’97 and ’98, as they were the powerhouse for ‘girl power’ with myself and other girls at the time, which is why saying this occurred 15 years ago suddenly seems like a punch in the gut. This memory that seems so strong and unforgettable happened that long ago?

N*SYNC went on ‘hiatus’ 10 years ago. This was a band that cruised through and took over pop music (alongside Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Boyz2Men, and other groups) since their formation in 1995 up until their hiatus in 2002. For myself, the late 90s and early 2000s were my teeny-bopper, preteen, and start of teenage years so you can guess that I was madly-stupid-crazy into boy bands (and Spice Girls) at the time. They were good-looking! They could sing and dance! Sometimes they were similar outfits! They were good-looking! I still remember their videos and appearances on MTV’s TRL afternoon line-up… you know, back when MTV still played music?!

I hope you just got whiplash from all these flashbacks I’m throwing past you.

Too intense… confusion and distraught! MADNESS!

Times carries on and things change, music change, clothes change, attitude change, people change. I’ve always accepted this, certainly, but I couldn’t hide the fact that I was experiencing some serious nostalgia for my dear, sweet, innocent childhood days of questionable pop music. Rihanna is a nice singer and all, but I understand too clearly what she’s looking for… anybody can get it.

This is my advice to those struggling with the flow of time and gaining a year: Just grow with it. As you age, you continuously have the ability to make the changes you desire and carve yourself into a better person. You might be getting a little older, but is that going to stop you from accomplishing what you want? NO! I used to spend all of my teenage years drawing, painting, crafting all sorts of things. I took every single art class, in additional to community art classes, all through high school and one additional one in the first semester of college, where I feel I completed some of my best work.

Piece of a metamorphosis project. Only a fond memory now…

After that, I stopped. Why? I got too caught up with the college lifestyle, with the stress of major classes, with the excitement of moving to the main campus (it’s huge!) with all my friends in year three, with my social life and the ability to do anything I wanted. After I graduated, I moved to the big city and realized that I needed to work, and work hard to make money to pay for everything. After some initial struggle, I ended up with two jobs I didn’t like (nothing to do with my major, of course) and volunteer work (that I loved). As I explained earlier in this post, in the past year turned into what I have going on now (one job that I love and one that is kind of eh).

My Beautiful Other Home

So what happened to my passion for art? Well, I’m bringing it back! I have all of my supplies from high school in a big box for me to use, I’m going to my city’s big Arts Festivals (there will be a post for this, I’m sure) in the next month, I bought a pair of coupons to do a painting class with a friend at a bar (clever, methinks), and finally, I signed up for a kind-of-pricey drawing lab class for July and August. It’s going to be a little rough to get back into, but I’m not letting time remind me of that. I fully intend on grabbing back my original passion for it and bringing it together full force.

Halfway session of a Round Robin Canvas Pass-a-long

I will also say that this blogging adventure I’ve been trying to pursue has also helped with bringing back my creativity in all forms: art, writing, and reading. I’ve read so many blogs and posts of such inspiring thoughts and ideas and I continue to crave more. 🙂 These are some of my favorites so far (forgive me, I’m still looking for so many more to read!):

A Beautiful Mess (Crafty, cute, fun!)

Books and Bowel Movements (The love for reading… ahh, I love it!)

into mind (Fashion and thoughts)

love library and Lupine Librarian (Librarians! My dream!)

bornattwentyfive (Inspiring about life and happiness! So sweet!)

The Shy Comedian (Oh my goodness, I can’t tell if this girl’s humor strives from unfortunate events or what, but she is so clever and witty with her views… so funny)

Photoblog by Jay J. Manalo (A cute photoblog, something I wish I was better at… I’ll keep trying!)

What About This? (Just things in life and having fun, but I love the Friday’s Fresh Five posts, she lists so many great things!)

My only real goal with blogging to eventually come to a point where I will be able to share something that will inspire another. I understand that this blog is super young, unformed, unorganized, and needs a lot of legwork to make it something readable, but I’m willing to make it happen.

I support you in your turnip-y dreams

Will time let me achieve that? Of course, because I’m not going to let it drag me down. 🙂 Thanks for reading and many thanks for each one of you for being inspiring individuals.

Please, if you would like, share with me your thoughts in the comments below on time, flashbacks, and what inspires you to achieve what you want, no matter what age you are. What are some things you may have forgotten, but have been wanting to bring back?

Who Took My Peanut Butter?

Now, I’ve been trying to be a dedicated, healthy vegetarian for about three months now, which I think I’m doing fairly well, I’m also well aware that there are still a lot of changes I can make to do it better. (Helpful suggestions for a newbie? I’m kind of cheap too so I can’t be getting too fancy). I still eat seafood though… it’ll be a slow process for me to completely take that out of my diet because tuna is really cheap and delicious (I know, I know, lame excuse). It’s even harder when eating out; I didn’t realize how much of the menus would typically contain some kind of meat in the options. I usually just end up picking something with seafood or one of the few ‘vegetarian’ options they may have, haha.

Or I make my friends go to vegetarian-friendly places instead.

So far, they haven’t fought with me.

Yet.

For example, I went out to a Bravo’s with a friend for their brunch specials without realizing that the majority of their options would include sausage and bacon. I mean, of course, it does, but I went in with high expectations of a classy meat-less meal haha. I ended up getting Crab Cakes and Eggs (seafood, I know!), which contained: Jumbo lump crab cakes served atop sautéed spinach and artichokes, paired with poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and BRAVO! breakfast potatoes.

My excuse was that I felt fancy. Ignore my friend’s meaty entrée

Sometimes, when I come home late at night after a long day of work, errands, and mindless responsibilities to tend to, I have moments of distraught for food that my dinner would end up being this:

Don’t judge me, I love cheese with a fiery passion!

However, I’ve been doing a lot of small things with fruits, my sweet love! And believe me, I about died when I saw strawberries and blueberries back in season! Especially so I can avoid getting ‘bad’ sweets, no matter how pretty they might appear, like this:

To be fair, I bought these for my co-workers, not just me.

In order to steer myself in a better (right?) direction, one type of snack/lunch I’ve been doing are variations of peanut butter sandwiches. I have a fond love for peanut butter (almost as strong as my love for cheese). I can’t say exactly when it started, or which brand I prefer (as long as it’s smooth, not crunchy), or if I have any traumatic episodes that made me almost turn the other way, but the love is strong. After doing a continuous stretch of peanut butter and honey on English muffins for breakfast, I thought, ‘Oh, why don’t I just make sandwiches for lunch?’

Cue light bulb.

The first type of sandwich I did was peanut butter and banana. I know, I know, pretty standard stuff. I tried to make it a little more exciting by adding honey, but even that seemed boring. Any ideas on how to spice it up a bit?

My next expedition with peanut butter sandwiches was peanut butter (whoa), apple slices, honey drizzle, and cinnamon. Now, maybe I was having a moment, but this was pretty amazing. I would always pair my pb with apples as a snack and just the sheer idea of putting it between two slices of wheat bread seemed genius to me.

Paradise on bread. No?

The next, more commonly used, peanut butter snack I tend to make is a peanut butter yogurt dip.

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup flavored yogurt of your choice (I tend to pick strawberry, blueberry, or just vanilla)

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Throw it in a bowl or container, stir it up nice and smooth, and ta da!

Best Midnight Snack Ever

Get another bowl, chop up the fruit you want (usually apples and bananas, but no need to hold back), and start dipping (with or without a fork). I think the dip is so good, I end up eating it by itself by the spoon, haha.

But don’t do that, you’ll get sick from too much.

I have a feeling that my next food/fruit-related post will be about strawberries. Prepare yourself.

Thanks for reading! Any suggestions, tips, or peanut butter ideas, please deposit them in the comments below. 🙂

Ideas, Inspiration, Motivation!

Ahh, I can’t believe how lazy I have gotten in trying to keep up with this blog. I have a habit of just getting caught up in the moment of things; when I finally get home, I’m just tired and want to crawl in bed. However, I don’t have any real excuse for that. Today will be a discussion of happy things and good news.

I finally got myself to go on a (short) run this morning before work with my sister’s dog. It was nice to get outside and feel my body trying hard to keep the pace, but unfortunately, the dog has a habit of just being all over the place. Hence, the tripping, the confusion, the general annoyance followed and the run was only for ten minutes. (You can just simply imagine a stick figure awkwardly tripping over a large dog through a ditch on the side of the road for the most likely imagery) So, all in all, it was a failing success. It definitely gave me motivation though, so HOPEFULLY *crosses fingers* I will try to keep up with it. I thought about keeping some running clothes in my car but I like to wash my makeup off beforehand, so I would have to carry facial cleaner and I’m not even sure where I’d end up jogging if it was somewhere not at home. I would need my water bottle with COLD water and possibly a towel… I would look like a hoarder (not that my car doesn’t already express that).

Moving along, in one month, I will be finally moving to a new place with a friend of mine! It’s a small duplex, but it’s nice inside and we have the liberty of painting, gardening, hanging stuff, etc. It’s also much closer to my work, closer to a lot of friends, closer to downtown of the city, closer to alternative transit systems (rail trolley and buses, so to speak), closer to just a lot of things I’ve been wanting to be closer to.

Newly redone. I love the little lamp and the stone outlining the door.

With that in mind, I will be looking for a new weekend part-time job to replace my old one since it’ll just be too much of a drive to get to. I got time to hunt around, but I’m hoping that I don’t end up with something that makes me want to yank my hair out! My library (full-time) job is just so nice because the people want to be there! They want to talk to you, want you to help them out, want to read books and learn, participate in community events, and just simply enjoy life more than sitting on your couch watching MTV marathons of Jersey Shore. The sad thing is that it’s not quite enough money for myself to live by so until I get further into the field, I’ll still need some extra income on the weekends. On the plus side, I genuinely enjoy working…. so whatever job I may pick up, I will find reasons to like it. 

There’s a thrift store called Avalon Exchange in my city with two neighborhood locations. Basically, it’s like your Goodwill and Salvation Army, but it’s specifically aimed at a younger crowd (AKA people like me) with the type of clothing they promote. The clothing options are usually better than the various Plato’s Closets we have here (another ‘younger aged thrift store’), so it’s pretty nice be able to find a pair of jeans in great condition for $12!! I’ve been reading many other blogs on here about how other ladies (and gentlemen, I suppose haha) work with what they have, shop below their means and use creative ways to make something old into something new. While I do like to clean out my closet every couple of months, I have been trying pretty hard to see what sort of combinations I can make first. 

Being open-minded with the clothing…. a new goal for me this summer. And shop cheap. Why do I need to spend $45 on a new shirt at AE when I could get one for way cheaper and of basically equal quality some place else? 

One other personal resolution I’ve been working hard to keep is my vegetarian diet. While, personally, I don’t find it horribly difficult to negate the meat out of my diet (admittedly, I still eat seafood…. it’s a slow process), I’m realizing that there’s so much I could experiment with the produce, pasta, breads, cheese, spices, etc that I already have. I plan on hitting up a local Farmer’s Market sometime in the next week and stock up on some goodies (soooo excited!!), plopping myself in the kitchen with a couple of vegetarian cookbooks and see what magic I can create. Or ruin. Regardless, I’ll still eat because I would feel awful for it to go to waste. 

This is a quite a long post with not very many pictures. Sorry about that, I just wanted to get a lot of happy thoughts and resolutions I’ve been working on, off my chest and into this blog. The next posts are going to be way more interesting, colorful and picture-iffic. 

Questions for you guys! Got any vegetarian tips and secrets? What kind of house-warming parties should I throw if I decide to do one? What sort of motivation do you guys use to get yourself into an exercise routine? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Walk, Talk, and Chow

In my little city, there’s an event called the ‘Burgh Food Tour’, which is essentially a tourist type attraction that takes into a neighborhood of your choice and the guides discuss a bit about the history of the area, why the area is known for whatever it is known for, and, of course, the food deemed the best. It’s a roundabout two hours tour that involves walking, talking, and eating. Of the six that are currently offered, I’ve been to two of them, one last year and one this past weekend.

Obviously, since I’ve done it again, I clearly enjoy it. What’s actually kind of funny about it, aside from the random people from nowhere in the US, most people who participate in the tours are typically from somewhere within the city area (such as myself). Did I feel like a tourist? Not at all. Well, perhaps a little with my iPhone out to take pictures and the blatant obviousness of our group taking up all the space in the buildings we go in to listen to the shop owners talk, but really, it’s a social event.

That explained and rambled, the recent tour I took (with my mother and sister) was in a place considered as “Little Italy“. I think you can figure out why it was given such a name (I’m craving ravioli again). While the first food tour the previous year has a special place in my heart for popping my tourism cherry in this city, I can’t deny the fact that this one was pretty fun.

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There were five main stops (to eat stuff) and then a couple random places that we paused by to gawk awkwardly at the buildings, strain to hear the guide talk over the street traffic behind us, and wonder how many locals were hating on us for taking up sidewalk space. Strangely though, the “tour” kind of all took place within two city blocks, as the guide was trying to do this constant-crossing-the-streets-to-stare-at-this-church-then-run-back-to-point-out-an-empty-store’s-ceiling-and-retrace-our-steps-a-block-to-discuss-a-women’s-boutique sort of business, which would’ve been fine if he didn’t keep stopping in the middle of everything. He was a nice enough guy, he just seemed a little scattered.

Two of the stops were Italian grocery stores: Groceria Italiana and Donatelli’s. It’s not like we were searching for the lost art of Da Vinci or anything, with everyone’s names being something of the Italian/Sicilian nature. Food samples: Shells with marinara and biscotti, Pasta shells with homemade, as same with the biscottis.

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Have I mentioned I have a slight obsession with biscottis? Nothing compared to a well-made biscotti with a fresh cup of joe in the morning. When that happens, nothing can fail. Nothing.

I also greatly enjoy the fact that the shop owners/managers genuinely enjoy their craft. They liked explaining everything they do at their stores, how things are made, how their business came to be. The gentleman from Donatelli’s gave us the lowdown of all his pasta making machinery in the back station, which made me desire a ravioli maker for my kitchen. Could you imagine? Any filling you want, just stamp those pasta pockets out!! I was completely enthralled with the idea, disregarding the fact that one of those bad boys would probably burn a nice-sized hole in my change pocket.

Another stop: Grasso Roberto, to sample gelato. The interior of the store was small and cute, with many things on display to check out. The manager was pretty amicable although she stayed behind the counter and watched us do our tourist-y thing. There was a pretty standard list of flavors (I ended up getting Honey Vanilla), but it was smooth and creamy, so I can’t complain.

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Of course, no Italian food tour would be complete without the inclusion of pizza, no matter how Americanized the food has become. However, our pizza place (Angelo’s Pizza) that was selected was a little ghetto and the pizza was pretty unmemorable. Who knows, maybe pizza has become such a norm in the American way that we can’t really differentiate between good and bad pizza? Granted, I had my long range of various pizzas in my college days; you know, that one place that makes $1 slices for those crazy inebriated kids wandering around after dark, and then that other place down the alleyway that nobody really knows about but their pizza is crazy good.

The final stop of the tour was, at first, the inside of a gift shop, Merante Gifts, which was Italian-based home decorations and decors. However, the cool part was going upstairs through the doorway outside, right next to the store. We walked up some very steep steps and encountered the first room:

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Very pretty, the picture doesn’t do much justice, as the front room continued on back with the same style, along with various other pieces of art to look at. The upper floor extended back down the hallway to another room, and then finally the center of the show: Maria’s Kitchen!

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Her choice of food sampling: Chocolate cake with rich chocolate butter-cream, a side of whipped cream and strawberry, and a sample cup of espresso (We are in ‘Italy’, not Spain). Can you tell which stop was probably my favorite? Maria was very outgoing and friendly, and clearly seems to love what she does. She offers cooking class in this kitchen once a week, where the students learn different variation styles of cooking, types of food, travel to purchase ingredients and even take a trip to Italy! I am definitely considering checking this out if the cost of the class is within my price range (AKA cheap), but I imagined it’s only classy people that go. All in all, the tour was fun, my mother and sister had fun, I got to buy some artichoke and gorgonzola stuffed ravioli and biscotti mix (vanilla, almond, and wine & almond).

P.S. Did you notice the light fixture in Maria’s Kitchen?

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I smell a nice DIY project in the near future, if I find the right tools.

Thanks for reading and please share with me any tours you might have done in your own towns!

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