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I have been dying to share some wedding from this past summer. Finally as the slow season has arrived, I finally have time put my work together.....A backyard, a historical home, a food truck and home-made sangria and margaritas. What is not to love? This was a love story I could not resist! As a photographer all the details and special hand-made touches were darling. All so PRETTY!
New Work:The Warriors
This past summer I began working on a new project which I have entitled, "The Warriors". A series which I am continuing to shoot using traditional film based cameras. As an artist I am taking a step back, thinking about the technical roots of art and photography. What makes one photographic image better or more beautiful? What make a photograph perfect, does exposure matter, does color correct matter. Is too much grain or an image that is backlit bad? Or perhaps an image a thrive on its own through its conceptual idea. As always my family has allowed me to photograph them.
Let me know what you think!
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Sometimes you just do a styled shoot...a few weeks ago my sister, Jennifer and I decided we would like to start shooting with each other. We had always talked about working together in some kind of creative aspect. As kids we literally use to do this same thing with random dresses we found in our mom's closet with a simple polaroid camera. Finally we the opportunity... a few hours in the middle of the week, a few props, dresses and a simple bouquet of flowers in the middle of DuPage County's York Woods. So check out our photos and let us know what you think! I'm excited to work to do more styled shoot and to of course work with my sister again. - E
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I always have fun shooting photos of my nephews. It is pretty much always an impromptu photo shoot that usually includes me bribing my nephews in order to get them to stand still. They are pretty crazy...but they are the best. Here are some favorites from this year! [gallery type="slideshow" ids="920,922,921,919,918,914,915,916,917,912,911,910,909,908,903,904,905,906,907,902"]
One of my favorite things about working for myself is that every day is different. One day I am Chicago working a wedding downtown the next day I'm up a rustic hill in New Hampshire setting up an engagement shoot. Now that I am home I can settle down for a little bit and what better time than to offer some Holiday Mini-Photo Sessions...
So I guys I am just saying...Call Me!
Wuthering Heights is a novel that I have always been drawn back to as a reader. The dark, whimsical setting of the moors. The tragic love story of Heathcliff and Catherine. And the first and only published novel by Emily Brontë. A female voice, writer and artist that has always given me inspiration. To say the least, I was excited to be photographing a Wuthering Heights Styled Shoot for The NotWedding.
Working with a team of awesome vendors, together we planned our shoot. We began thinking about different ways to create an overall look and style that was inspired by Wuthering Heights. With the leadership of our event coordinator and designer, Adrienne Horty we found the perfect location for our shoot: Beech Hill Preserve in Rockport, ME. Together we climbed to the hilltop and found ourselves to the quaint Beech Nut, which resembles the isolated countryside of the moors, the setting of “Wuthering Heights”. We wanted our bride and groom to embody this theme as well. And with help of our stylist and local bridal designer we styled our bride and groom in the fashion, clothing, hair, makeup and accessories that we considered romantic and whimsical, yet dramatic and unique.
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Bride and Groom: Megan and Christian Cronkite
Coordination & Design: The Refinery- Events & Marketing, Adrienne Horty, email@example.com
Doves: White Doves of Maine, Marc Archambault , www.whitedovesofmaine.com
Dresses: Andrea's Bridal
Hair & Makeup: Bei Capelli, Lisa Lacroix, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Beech Hill Preserve
Photographer: Me Photography, Elizabeth Neurauter, email@example.com, mephotographychicago.com
Brad and I love cooking, whether together or for each other. I have always said that I would love to learn how to make hand-made pasta.Since we have not been taking a language course this time around, we thought it would be great to take a cooking class. Searching the internet I found a chef that was located in the quaint,old neighborhood of Trastevere. We weren't exactly sure what to expect. We were hoping for an interactive learning experience that was both hands-on and informative. We walked into our class and found ourselves surrounded by mostly American and Canadian tourists, which was bit funny at first because for the most part we have spent our time in Italy trying to communicate in Italian. But it ended up being quite relaxing to have a "day off". We walked into the class and we met Chef Andrea and all of our classmates. Shortly after we began our 4 hour journey of prepping, making and cooking a 5 course italian meal, which would include; Eggplant Parmesan, Homemade Chitarra Spaghetti Pasta with Pesto, Beef Scaloppine with mushrooms, Sautéed Flat Beans with Cherry Tomatoes, and Crostata di Ricotta e Marmellata di Pere e Noci. [gallery type="rectangular" ids="836,844,843,842,848,847,841,838"]
When we walked into the kitchen our teacher had all the fresh food spread out on the counter that we would be preparing our meals with for the day. He explained how he bought everything at the farmers market that very morning and chose the menu based on all the produce that was available that day. We made everything from hand that day including fresh hand made chitarra spaghetti. The first two hours were spent exclusively on prepping the food. We split up the work of cleaning and cutting every food. just looking at the food we were all in awe and it was hard to grasp that this would all be turned into a five course meal.
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Slowly we made it through all five courses. It was an interesting process because I am so use to cooking one dish at a time, however we seemed to cook every thing slowly all at once. Each person chose a "job" and we all worked together. From time to time Chef Andrea would stop to advise particular ways of preparing and cooking. For instance he explained when cooking with garlic it is not necessary to even chop the garlic, instead he suggested you first smash the garlic with the skin "on" and simply infuse the garlic in oil until it is brown. And the only time to completely chop garlic is when you use the garlic raw. By around 2 o'clock our meal was finally completed and we all sat down to enjoy our lunch together. Overall it was quite an interesting day and inspired Brad and I to keep cooking every day. If you are interested in any of this recipes, let me know and I will repost!
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The first time Brad and I came to Italy together was in January 2013, New Year's Day to be exact. So, the last time we had been to Venice was during the winter time. It was not the best to time visit Venice, to say the least. As you may know, Venice is an island that is slowing going to flood over time. Winter, being the rainy season in Italy, much of Venice was flooded. Not to mention we had the worst time finding a place to stay because most places were closed for this slow season. Ever since that first trip we decided we needed to return to Venice during the summer months. [gallery type="rectangular" ids="765,767,766,768,769,771,770,772,773,774"]
We decided to do things a little different for this trip. First, we booked a place to stay weeks in advanced. And second we booked our train tickets using Italo, the fast train!! Last time we took a 12 hr overnight train from Napoli, which we only remember as being the longest and scariest night of our lives. Unfortunately, the day we left Rome this time-around, we checked the weather forecast for the weekend and Venice was suppose to be rainy the entire time. So we were a little disappointed to say the least. Anyways we hopped on our train and headed for Venice. Let me just say this, Italo was worth every penny! At one point Brad looked over at the speed monitor and it read 200 km/hr. It was pretty fantastic to arrive in less than 4 hrs. Along with that the employees were the most helpful and genuinely nice people I have met that work on trains in Italy. Before we even got on the train one worker, walked right up to us and asked us our train car number and pointed us to the correct waiting area. So by around 1pm we were in Venice. There of course was a massive down pour going on for the first two hours, but after that it was sunny and nice for the duration of the trip. We certainly lucked out!
I would not describe Brad and myself as typical tourists. Although we like to see all the touristy sights at least once, when we are traveling we want to go where the locals go and immerse ourselves in that environment. So, one of the best discoveries we have found is airbnb, which connects travelers with locals who rent out vacation apartments, homes, etc. I really think it is a cool site and is the best way to travel. This time around we stayed quite close to the center of Venice in a small (4) bedroom flat. We were so close to the street we could hear the sounds of locals at a bar right beneath our room. It was really cool to look out our window, down a long,winding pedal-stoned street. As soon as we arrived we had to ask out host his favorite spot for dinner. Without any hesitation he replied, "Al Portega". He gave us a basic area where this spot was and then it was up to us to find it.
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So that night we made our way to "Al Portega". We immediately became lost, if you have ever been to Venice you know exactly what I mean. All of Venice, is basically a maze. In fact the neighborhood that we stayed in was purposely built within a labyrinth for protection during wartimes. We had basically given up and all of a sudden I looked up read "Al Portega" and we were there. "Al Portega" is almost the definition of a hidden local gem, I am certain most tourists would not find themselves here. Someone once told Brad and I that the way to tell a good restaurant is whether their menu is written on a board with chalk. And we walked in and that is exactly where we found the menu. We actually almost got sent away because we asked for two seats and the host said they were all full. Then she ran out the door and found us since a table that was just leaving. I could go on describing our whole meal, but I will just mention one thing that was pretty cool and also funny. I had ordered this mixtures of fried seafood items, (which by the way was massive) then at some point in our meal an Italian man walked up to us and just stood there admiring the plate. Then he left. A few minutes later he came back and said, "I was thinking of ordering that same plate". So I of course had to offer him a taste. And so he took a taste of my meal. To me it was so funny and fascinating that would never have happened in Chicago. I would have to say this meal was the highlight of the weekend.
The next day we took a long walk and basically got lost. We had all the intentions of going to the Guggenheim Museum in Venice, but as we kept getting lost and we ran out of time. Taking a gondola ride did cross our minds, but it really is not worth the cost of 100 euros to be in a long line of gondola riders. I am sure if we had been tourists in Venice 20 or 30 years ago, it might have been much different. But we did take the public boat transportation, which is really the fastest way to get around the city. It was like seeing the city from inside out, going past the old Venetian buildings and passing by the famous Rialto Bridge. However, by far the most fascinating time I had was walking along the small, dark street and getting lost. I cannot count how many times we took a street that ended at the dead end of the river.
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The third day was our last day in Venice. We had a mid-afternoon train ride back to Rome, so our plan was just to walk up, grab an espresso and head toward the train. Our thought was although it was morning still, we were going to get lost again, so we better leave enough time to make back to the train station. However, our wonderful host prepared us a surprise breakfast of two broiches, espresso, fruit cups and toast ( a typical Italian breakfast). We were a bit in awe by this gesture and it gave our weekend a blissful end. After breakfast we made our way back to the train station, got lost again and went home to Rome.
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Once again, Brad and I are back in Italy. We had talked about returning for months. With my temporary art teaching job ending in June, we thought what better time to make this jump. However with my wedding photography bookings we could only manage a two month stay. So, here we are in Italy again. It is quite refreshing and much more easy going this time around. One of our main reasons for staying such a long time is that we are still trying to learn Italian. The only way to become better Italian speakers is to be in Italy. I am really excited to be here! First of all, Brad and I have never been in Italy during the summer months, so it has been cool to see the different scenes; the seaside of Ostia, outdoor music concerts, riverside venues and festivals. As always, Brad and I are enjoying our days taking a ritual walk throughout the city. In addition, I am taking advantage of some new photography projects which include a 35mm film and Fujifilm Instax series. I hope to share more in the following weeks. Ciao, for now.
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I have been dying to share this Union League Club Wedding for about a month. Having shot this right before leaving for Italy, I haven't had access to posting for a few weeks. Sarah and Dan's wedding was simply elegant, in a location that was founded upon history and tradition at the Union League Club. The love between these two is simply sweet, adorable and quirky! [gallery type="rectangular" ids="706,721,712,723,719,708,713,722,734,733,707,727,717,709,710,711,714,716,715,720,718,729,732,731,730"]
As luck would have it, I got my first art teaching gig! How I managed to pull this all off is amazing to me. First of all, I was interviewed via Skype. Pretty crazy, but I guess I made a nice impression. The only problem was the fact I was still in Florida and the job was back in Chicago. So I jumped on a plane and headed back to Illinois...leaving Brad in Florida. He would have left with me, but he had just set up an acting opportunity in Florida. I figured he would drive home solo or drive back with his parents. Fortunately they had some miles to spare and sent me ticket to fly back and then drove home with Brad. So I went BACK to Florida.We hung out for a few more days in Florida, soaked in the sun. Then headed out of Florida. It actually was a nice ride back. I really prefer driving as oppose to flying. There was pretty bad storm leaving Florida, but besides that we enjoyed this one last trip before I got back to working. We even stopped by the Coco Cola Museum in Atlanta and visited our friend in Louisville, KY. A week later I started my first job as an Art Teacher, teaching Photography, Digital Imaging and Art 1. Although the job is only temporary and ends in mid-June, I am happy to get my foot in the door. The first week was hard, adjusting to the early morning drives and being at work full-time. My normal morning rituals have had to be altered. The little things like enjoying a nice warm cup of coffee are always on-the-go now. I have to prep myself the night before so that I can wake up and be ready to face the day at 6 am. The students and faculty have been very warm and welcoming. So far it has been an adventure and I am excited for the future.
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I actually love winter. Snow always makes me incredibly nostalgic of my childhood. My sisters and I would spend hours as kids building snow forts and running around in our sleds. I remember coming back inside and my mother would always have cocoa waiting for us. Our faces would be snow burnt and red, but it felt good. This winter Brad and I were around for quite a few snow days, but we seemingly missed a huge chunk of everyone's misery. We had the opportunity to head down to Florida. I had the intention of staying down there for a week or two, get a little bit of sunshine to help endure the rest of winter, However, a week turned into a couple weeks which turned into a month, then all of a sudden we were in Florida for 6 weeks. I have to admit, I enjoyed every moment of our stay. Brad and I both looked into possibly staying there longer. We were able to get on our bikes almost every day, riding to the market, bookstore or out for a bite. And the ocean was amazing, we often found ourselves laying out on the beach reading a book. We even found an Italian speaking group. Brad also starting going to Open Mics down in Florida too. He actually got a few gigs and made a fair amount of money. At one of the Open Mics he made friends with older Irishman,Bill which turned out to be really cool. First, he was offered to play a show with him one weekend. Then he played St. Patrick's Day with him. Before leaving Florida we made plans to meet Bill in Ireland when we head back to Italy in the summer. (yes! we finally have made plans to return to Rome!!) Aside from the amazing weather, I was happy to be in Florida to see my cousins, Natalie, JC and Alexander. In the past when they come to Chicago, we really only have had the chance to see them for a few hours as the are always on-the-go, visiting with friends and family. So, it was really great to see them. Alexander was adorable. He just turned 2 years old in December and is quite the little chatter-box. He reminded me so much of Myles as his age, very imaginative and incredibly charismatic. I was little sad to leave at the end of our stay because we really only get to see them a few times a year.
I was a little bummed that no one from my family was able to make it down to Florida. I had invited my sisters, cousins, aunt, mom and dad. But the notice was so short, nobody could make plans. So, Brad and I had decided we would drive up to New Hampshire and spend some time with my parents. We had planned to leave around March 25th, we figured winter would be ending soon and it would be safe for spring to start. Our plans kind of got swept away, when I got a job offer. So, I had to head home to Chicago...
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Wandering models, hula hoop dancers, mimes, and performers alike, hip bands, amazing food, independent artists....INDIE WED CHICAGO 2014!! I am so happy that my company with my business partner, cousin and BFF, Melanie Goldberg, ME Photography could finally participate as a vendor at Indie Wed, but I really never imagined how much work it would involve. Luckily, I have some much support from my family and friends, I do not think it would have been possible without them. I knew immediately when I found out ME Photography was accepted as a vendor that I would have to enlist my sister, Sarah's graphic design expertise. Not only did she design the layout and graphics for all of my printed handouts, business cards, and etc, she designed my booth space. Then there was Sean, Sarah's boyfriend, who pretty much built my entire display wall. I also have to thank Sean's parents, owner's of the company, Square Nail that provided the work-space to build this fixture. My cousin, Emily who worked as my assistant and as my display stylist during "Indie Wed", which included waking up before sunrise to work with me on the day of the actual event. My sisters Jennifer and Annie were continually there for me too. Jennifer as always was my personal stylist and Annie came out in the middle of a blizzard to bring lunch for me and Emily. My boyfriend, Brad that drove and assisted me during the set-up and disassemble times at Indie Wed. And of course that you to all other friend and family, that supported me physically and mentally in other ways. So, THANK YOU, THANK YOU TO ALL!!!
Indie Wed was really blast! I really cannot believe how many people braved the snow storm to show up to this event. Not only was this experience a great way to meet other businesses in the industry and to promote my business real couples, it was very much a learning experience. I know this will not be my last alternative wedding expo that I will attend. And I can't wait for my next adventure into the wedding fair world!
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With only a couple of weeks left until we headed back to Chicago, Brad and I decided to take a trip down to Napoli for the weekend. Back in January we had stayed in Napoli for a few days and what we remembered most was its PIZZA! Pizza di Napoli is quite different than the kind you will find in Rome. In Rome, there are two main types of pizza. Pizza taglia, which is basically a pan cut styled pizza that you will find on every corner in Rome. There is also forno a legno pizza or pizza that is cooked in a wood-burning oven. This type of pizza is similar to pizza di Napoli, however they crust is very thin and cracker-like. Whereas, in Napoli the pizza crust is thicker or tall, as Italians refer it to "pizza alta". Also, mozzarella di bufala originates from this region of Italy and you will only find a truly "pure" mozzarella di bufala in Campania. Traditionally, Napoletana pizza will have this type of cheese. It may sound like the pizza in Italy is very heavy and fattening. However, I have found in Italy that pizza is much lighter than in the States. Usually, pizza is made with the most simple ingredients, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Sorry for all this pizza talk, but I really love pizza. So, when Brad and I arrived the first thing we did that night was go out for pizza! Another reason we had wanted to visit Naples was to see their Christmas Market, which begins the first weekend in December. It really is quite a unique experience to walk down the narrow, medieval streets in Napoli. Every street was completely crowded, it was so insane. Each shop, poured out onto the streets with merchants selling everything from Christmas ornaments, decoration, gifts , almost anything you could think of. However, Napoli is most famous for their hand-crafted Nativity scenes, which range in size, some are quite small while others are as large as a coffee table. A part me really wanted to buy one, but there would be no easy way to pack such an item and take back to Chicago.
Naples is also well-know for a couple of different pastries. The first being, sfogliatella, which Brad and I loved. It is kind of like a baklava, with a flaky, paper like crust. However, inside is a sweet, lemony custard. I would really like to try making some at home sometime. The other pastry is babà, which we did not like as much, but it was still good. It is a soft, cupcake-like pastry except it is infused in Rum. I would have to say, Brad and I really enjoyed learning and discovering many of the different foods that are found in this region of Italy.
In addition to pizza, Brad and I are quite fond of limoncello. Luckily, Napoli is located just about an hour away from Sorrento, the city that limoncello originated from. If you have never had limoncello, it is a type of Italian liquore that is made with infused lemon rinds. So, of course we made sure we had time to visit Sorrento. Sorrento is a small quaint town located just off the Amalfi Coast of Italian. In addition to stocking up on some limoncello, we took a beautiful walk along the coast and even enjoyed some frutti di mare...seafood. It was a nice, quiet afternoon and then we headed back to Naples for one last night on the town. Naples is right on the coast as well, so we took a walk along their sea that night and of course had to indulge in another pizza . The next day was a bit of a drag because it was raining. We had planned to take another walk, down their Christmas street, but it was so crowded with people and their umbrellas we decided just to head home. It was actually kind of funny walking the streets this time. We had forgotten to bring an umbrella, but since it was so crowded with people and their umbrellas, they actually cover us too. So, we barely got wet! It was a sweet ending to our weekend.
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A few years ago Brad and I saw the Terrence Malick's film, The Tree of Life and found ourselves mesmerized by the cinematography. Then right before Brad and I left for Italy, Brad discovered a short 2-5 second scene was actually filmed nearby Rome, in Bomarzo in il Parco dei Mostri (Monster Park). So, when we arrived in Italy we decided we had to go make the trip out to Bomarzo. Unfortunately, while Bomarzo is fairly close to Rome(an hour away by train), we discovered that the Monster Park was extremely difficult to get to. Taking the train to Bomarzo was easy, we got on at Termini Station in Rome and arrived in Bomarzo in about an hour. However, once we got off the train we discovered a ghost town. We were told by our train ticket agent that there was a bus stop at the train station that drops you off at the park. But there was not a bus stop. Luckily there was a bar in the train station. Unfortunately the barista told us there was no bus and that we would need to take a taxi if we wanted to get to the monster. Finally, after an hour our taxi driver showed up and dropped us off at the Moster Park for only 35 euros...haha. We did enjoy our walk through the monster park, but of course it was underwhelming. However it was still interesting to see the sculpture from The Tree of Life and other monster sculptures. I could see my nephews having a blast at this park because it is full of different sculptures that depicts different mythological beasts and gods. However, many of the sculptures are fenced up, so you cannot get too close. Also, the entire park was so small it took us less than an hour to walk through it entirely. So after our walk, we decided to make our way back to the train station. Our taxi driver had told us after that there is a bus that we can take from the center of town that goes directly to another train station. Unfortunately we had to walk up a steep hill to reach the center of the city. After asking around we finally found the bus stop and waited an hour. It wouldn't have been so bad, if it hadn't been a freezing day and maybe if the bus had actually shown up. We thought perhaps we could wait in a cafe or have lunch somewhere in town to wait out for this bus. But of course we were in a small italian village and everything was closed down. So finally we decided we would call another taxi. The same taxi driver showed up after about another 20 minutes! It was another 35 euros to go back to the train station and then we had to wait another hour and half for our train to arrive. All I can remember was how cold we were. When I got home I looked through some of the pictures I took that day and they really do not tell the same story. -E
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I have been thinking about my family a lot lately and I just want to say I miss you all: Mom, Dad, Jennifer, Nate, Sarah, Annie, Myles, Arlo and Leo too! As we approach Thanksgiving Week, I am feeling more and more anxious to be home for the holidays. The past 2 months have been incredible, but I will still miss celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. This will be the second time I have been away for my family for Thanksgiving. The last time was back in 2007 when I was in college studying abroad in Italy. The hardest part about being away from Chicago is not seeing my sisters and my nephews everyday. I miss my parents of course too, but now that they have been living in New Hampshire for a couple of years now, I am used to not seeing them everyday. Luckily, we have FaceTime so I talk to them at least twice a week. It's kind of funny because we barely have things to talk about since we FaceTime so much. I have been talking with my parents the last couple of days. The just got back to Chicago to spend the week with my sister and nephews for Thanksgiving. It is kind of strange, but it actually has made me excited to see them home (in Chicago) for the week. [gallery type="rectangular" ids="373,375,376,372,371,370,369,368,367,366,365,364,363,362,361,360,359,358,357,356,355,354,353,352,351,350,349,348,347,346,345,344,343,342,374"]
The hardest person to leave was my nephew, Myles. We are pretty much best friends and I could tell that he really knew and understood that I was going to be gone for a very long time. I did not think he would want to talk with me on FaceTime because in the past whenever we would video chat with my parents he would be angry and would run away and hide. However, after I had been gone about 2 or 3 weeks from Chicago, he started to talk to me. Now he and I will talk for sometimes 20 minutes at a time, which has really made me happy. One of the ways I began dealing with being home-sick is by drawing. I do have formal training in drawing, however I have really never done much drawing seriously on my own. Then one day I decided to participate in the weekly online drawing contest, Mythical Beast Wars (My sister, Sarah's former co-worker is the organizer...and I think she collaborating with him on this too). Basically, every week there is a new contest that features a different Mythical Beast. (Be the way, you should check out www.mythicalbeastwars.com) It has been around for years and in the past I would occasionally submit drawings. However, I decided now would be a great time to start drawing every week. In ways, it my way of staying connected to Chicago and helped me to cope with being away, now I have begun to enjoy drawing for this contest every week. One day I was telling Myles about the contest and the next thing I knew, Myles started his own weekly drawing contest, " Mixed Beasts Drawing Wars". So, now I am drawing at least two drawings a week. It really has been fun for me and I am starting to notice some improvements in my drawing skills too!
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There is another person I keep thinking about ever since I arrived in Italy, my grandmother, Grandma Janie. She was such an awesome and amazing person that continues to make me laugh. When I told her that I was going back to Italy she said, "Italy?...bring a gun!". Just a month before I left for Italy, she passed away. It felt very sudden when she got sick this past summer. However, I believe she never wanted anybody to fuss over her and may have been much more sick than she appeared over the last several years. I am so grateful that I was able to spend the last short months of her life with her and my family, especially my Aunt Annie and my cousins Grace and Frannie. Before she died she told my mom, "I want to be cremented and then for everyone to get together for a BBQ!". A lot of people in our family did not agree with her choice, but when we gathered that day in her yard. I have to say it felt so right, I really felt her presence, I almost forgot that she wasn't just upstairs in her bedroom watching her favorite show, "The Sopranos". Below are some photos from her BBQ. Until now, I have not been quite ready to share the photos, but as I look back on it, I am happy that I did.[gallery type="rectangular" ids="301,302,303,304,305,306,308,310,311,312,313,314,316,317,318,319,320,321,322,323,324,325,326,327,328,329,330,331,332,333,334,335,336,337,338"]
As I prepared to leave for Italy, it was very hard for me to leave my family. I still, am not sure if I made the right decision to leave so soon, but in my heart I know I needed to take the risk. I still am in disbelief that she is gone and I continue to think about Grandma Janie every day.
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In a way, I feel missing is just a part of life. We will always miss a person wherever they may be. So, even though I am missing all my family and friends back home in Chicago (and New Hampshire), I will be home soon!
[gallery type="square" ids="274,281,272"] In Italy, November 1st is a big deal. Everyone takes the day off, either spending the holiday relaxing at home or heading out to the country for a short get-away. So, this past weekend Brad and I decided to take a short holiday. We had been talking about going back to Siena. A city that we had visited back in January during our three-week trip to Italy. At the same time, Brad had been talking with a few of his friends from Chicago, that just so happen to also be living in Italy right now too. (One is living up near Milan with his girlfriend, the other in Florence) So, we decided it was time for a big reunion. Unfortunately, when we tried to book a place in Siena we did not have any luck. Like, I said November 1st is a big holiday here and Siena is a very small town, so we just could not find a place. Then we had the thought, we could book a place in Florence and take a short train ride to Siena during our stay. We booked an apartment to stay at with Brad's friend, Jared from Milan and his girlfriend Rachel and made plans to meet up with our friend that is living in Florence.
On Friday, we woke up and headed to Florence. In Italy the most common way to travel is by train and it is fairly inexpensive depending on the type of train. Brad and I have found that the slower the train the cheaper the fare. So, although the train ride was about 3 hours long the cost to travel was pretty cheap. That night we met up with Jared and Rachel, dropped off our bags at the apartment and headed out for dinner at a traditional Florentine trattoria at a restaurant called Trattoria ZàZà . At dinner, both Brad and Jared had bistecca alla fiorentina, a traditional steak dinner plate from Florence. If you are ever in Florence, I highly recommend this dish. Rachel also had a steak dinner, however it was a different type of steak with a balsamic reduction. They all seemed very pleased with their dinners. As for me, I am pescatarian and went for another traditional meal from Florence, ribollita. Ribollita is a hearty soup found typically in Tuscany made with bread and vegetables. Everything was very delicious, however I must say this place was quite touristy and I am not sure if I would go back there again. Back in January, Brad and I visited Florence for the first time. Walking around the city amously we find another restaurant, Trattoria Pizzeria Dante in my mind that was even better. The waiter was quite helpful with Brad on deciding on his bistecca and the overall environment felt more local. At the end of our meal we were even given some limoncello free of charge. I would love to go back there sometime! Regardless, Friday was a great start to our weekend either way.
The next day we headed to Sienna. We made our way to the train station, stopped in a bar for some cappucini and cornetti and we were on our way. When you arrive at the train station in Sienna you are at the bottom of the city, you walk into a mall and travel up some excalator for roughly 5-7 minutes. Finally you reach the top of the city and walk out and see the surrounding city and view. Sienna was as beautiful as we had remembered it. Brad and I could even recall how to get around the city. If you have never been to Sienna, I highly recommend this small, quaint and charming city. Walking through the cities you are sourrounded by medieval architecture that now equips the contemporary lifestyle of shops and restaurants. As far as sights, there are two areas to explore in Siena. The first is Piazza del Campo a giant square that descends into Palazzo Publico. Once a year a horse race known as Palio di Siena that takes place in this large square. The other landmark to see the Piazza del Duomo, there you can see the medieval church known as Sienna Cathedral. The last time we visited Sienna, Brad and I simply wandered the city, not knowing much about the city. Out of the corner of my eye I discovered a small shop, in through the window I saw a type of cookie I had never seen before. They almost looked like a biscuit that had been dusted with powdered sugar. I turned to Brad and said, "We need to try one of those cookies!". We later discovered that these cookies are called ricciarelli and they originate from Sienna. I assumed that it would be a hard, dry cookie. Biting into one, I discovered they were a soft, sweet, almond, lemon cookie. I highly recommend you try a ricciarelli if you are ever in Sienna, they are simply delicious. Also, check out the shop called Mercati Ortofrutticoli di Siena, which I found these cookies and other goodies like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, pizza, pasta, etc. Ofcourse, there are plenty of other pasticceria and shops in Siena. Wander around like I did, explore and discover your own treasures! And there is the entire region of Tuscany to explore, the countryside, the vineyards, it really is a beautiful experience to be in this part of Italy.
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Later that night, we headed back to Florence and finally had the Chicago Reunion we were looking for. Brad and I, Jared and Rachel, and their friend Janice that is living in Florence finally got together as a group. It was a fun, long night of just hanging out like in the ol' days in Chicago, but in a completely difference scene. Sunday was our last day of our little vacation from Rome. Brad and I kept thinking to ourselves that we missed Rome. Sitting at home eating dinner with our Italian roommates, attending language exchanges and riding our bikes up and down all the Roman hills. A city that we have come to know and understand over the last 6 weeks and it has become our home of sorts.I have to admit, this was Brad's fourth time in Florence and my third time. Yet, we had neglected to visit any art museums in Florence. Luckily, we had all of Sunday, so that morning we headed over to Uffizi Gallery. By the way, I highly recommend reserving entry tickets ahead of time if you are ever planning a trip to this museum. I would have to say it was still worth the hour long wait to see, Botticelli's Birth of Venus. The museum, itself is beautiful, it was almost like a medieval maze making your way through each room. It was a great feeling, to finally see so many works of art that I remember viewing or reading about during my studies as an art student. It was the best way to end our short holiday in Florence.
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I have always loved cooking, growing up my mom always had my sisters and myself helping out in the kitchen. Lately my sisters and I have taken over, especially now that my parents are out living in New Hampshire. One of my favorites things to do is cooking and hanging out with my sister and I all together. I wish I could be cooking up a storm with them right now! However, I have to say Brad and I have really hit the jack-pot. Not only are we surrounded by the most amazing food, here in Italy, our roommate is an amazing cook. And he has taken upon himself to teach us how to cook–Italian Style. Both Brad and I did a fare amount of Italian cooking when we lived in Chicago, however it is quite different learning some tips and recipes from him. [gallery type="square" ids="245,240,244,239,241,242"]
He has given us tips on making pesto, pasta sauce, potatoes, the list goes on. Recently he taught has a typical Roman dish, fried eggplants. Brad mentioned it was his favorite meal so far. So, we decided to try it.
Check out the short video below:
And here is the recipe:
1-2 cups of Oil
1.) Heat oven to 300 degrees
2.) Slice ( into circles) 1-2 Eggplants. Place eggplants on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with salt and cook for 10 minutes.
3.) While the eggplants are baking: Heat oil in a large pot or Wok (med-low heat), prepare (3) small bowls, one with a cup of flour, one with a 1-2 whisked eggs and one with breadcrumbs.
4.) After 10 minutes, take the eggplants out of the oven. Let cool for 2 minutes.
5.) Take one piece of eggplant. Place into your flour bowl, cover with flour and shake off an excess flour.
6.) Next place your piece of eggplant into your egg bowl. Cover both sides with your egg batter.
7.) Next place your piece of eggplant into your breadcrumb bowl. Cover both sides with breadcrumbs.
8.) Place your piece of eggplant into your oil heated oil. After 1-2 minutes, turn your eggplant over. Then cook the other side for an additional minutes.
9.) Last place your eggplant piece on a plate lined with a paper towel.
10.) Repeat steps 5-9 for each piece of eggplants.
Of course this is not the most healthy meal. I would not eat this every day. However, it really is hard to feel guilty about eating fried food when we are biking up and down hills everyday.
Tip: If you have any extra eggplants and want to make a quite meal the next day. Brad and I chopped up our leftovers and covered them in a pasta sauce to make a quick and easy eggplant parmesian for lunch the next day.
Brad and I are both excited to learn more recipes and tips from our roommate and I am hoping to post more about food soon!