This Week I'm Loving

Food: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Events: Campus Superstar at the Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh
Campus Superstar is an annual event that's like our own mini-American Idol singing competition. The finalists this year are students from Pitt, CMU, and Point Park. I love going and it's always entertaining!

Something I love about going to school in Pittsburgh is that although we live in a city, it has the feeling of a college campus. There are so many students living and working here. Besides the University of Pittsburgh, there are private universities, colleges, and technical schools. There's Carnegie Mellon University, Robert Morris University, Point Park College, La Roche College, Chatham University, Duquesne University, and Carlow University - not to mention smaller institutions like the Art Institute or Pittsburgh Filmmakers School, and other technical institutes. Campus Superstar is one of the few ways that the universities can compete :)

Book: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Film: Lords of Dogtown

Sunday Morning Scones

I opened the fridge and found a package of Craisins and some fresh lemons, and there was just enough flour to make the scones. It was meant to be. And it was delicious. Click here for the recipe.

I wish I had captured the hot steam rising from a scone fresh out of the oven. These smelled and tasted divine.

This Week I'm Loving

Food: Homemade Scones
My mom needed one cup of buttermilk for a recipe earlier this week and I wanted to find a way to use the leftover. Gina of Skinnytaste provided me with the solution in the form of a recipe for Lemon Cranberry Scones. Every recipe Gina posts looks amazing, and I can't wait to try my hand at the sweet, quick bread I fell in love with in England.

Book: The Widow Clicquot by Tilar Mazzeo

Film: The Grey
"Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day. Live and die on this day."

This Week I'm Loving

Food: Limoncello Ristorante, West Chester PA
I'm drooling just thinking about the seafood risotto with enormous scallops, and any restaurant that brings a complimentary shot of limoncello with the bill is all right by me.

Events: My Birthday! And St. Patrick's Day
The St. Patrick's Day parade is the largest parade of the year in Pittsburgh, and even though I'm only half Irish, I'm celebrating one hundred percent.

Book: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The best book I've read in a while. A much-needed break from reading textbooks.

Film: Les Choristes

Van Gogh Up Close

My beauteous sister Amanda outside the Museum

The collection in Philadelphia was full of sunflowers and Japanese-inspired landscapes. I was struck by the movement in his still life paintings of pears and apples. There was a disturbingly dark hued emperor monarch towards the end that was very memorable. Highlights for my brothers included Undergrowth with Two Figures and Road Menders at Saint-Rémy

I really preferred "Van Gogh Up Close" to the last exhibition, "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus," because it was more varied and more imaginative. The subject and the colors were the same for nearly all of Rembrandt's portraits: the head of a man painted in brown and black. The mood and the tone were in stark contrast to the gorgeous August weather outside when my father took me to see it. 

I CANNOT WAIT to see the next exhibition: Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia (opening June 20th)! An earthly paradise, or arcadia, sounds just like heaven to me. 

This Week I'm Loving

"What's this?! A new blog post?! Whatever could this mean?!"

Drumroll, please......... I've decided to resurrect my blog from its three-month hiatus!

I am very excited to return to the blogosphere. With two months to readjust to my American lifestyle, I finally feel able to resume my beloved semi-regular posts.

"But why did you stop?"

The obvious answer would be: I stopped blogging because this was ostensibly a travel blog, and I was no longer abroad. Another acceptable answer might be: I am overwhelmed by written assignments as it is. I am a full time student (Psychology major, Comparative Political Science minor, French Language and Culture minor, Certificate in Western European Studies) and a communications intern in the Study Abroad Office - which translates to tons of reading and writing for school, as well as publishing a monthly newsletter for Pitt students abroad. Throwing a blog into the mix seemed too daunting.

"That's understandable. So what made you change your mind?"

Really, this is what I am passionate about - and who says that you need to leave home to travel? I love to try new things, which in a way makes me a tourist even in my home state. Furthermore, blogging does not have to be a huge commitment. What I can commit to is this: Every Monday I'll give you a snapshot of what's inspiring me and what my week looks like, and maybe later in the week I can follow up with a more in-depth post about one of the restaurants, books, or events.

We'll take things slow until graduation on April 29th, after which I'll be making new travel plans (which will involve a passport, I promise). Stay tuned!

Food: Fork Restaurant, Philadelphia and Morimoto Restaurant, Philadelphia
On Saturday, I'll be visiting the Philadelphia International Flower Show in center city. Afterwards my parents, my sister and I plan to dine at Fork, where our family friend Terence Feury is the Chef. I'll also have the chance to try Morimoto, one of the twenty Stephen Starr restaurants in Philadelphia, before heading to the Art Museum for some colorful post-Impressionism. 

Event: The Van Gogh Exhibit, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Van Gogh's vibrant sunflowers and evocative paintings of the countryside in Provence always bring me back to those five months in Aix. I had the chance to visit Saint-Rémy for a long lunch chez Lolo, just across the street from the hospital where Vincent painted Starry Night. The collection is on tour in Philadelphia through May 6, 2012.

Book: Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Film: The Counterfeiters
A very good movie about a Jewish counterfeiter named Solomon, or Sally, who is forced to produce counterfeit money to fund the Nazi war effort. He chooses his team from among the concentration camp inmates, saving them all from the physical labor and humiliation to which the other prisoners are subjected, but introducing a new kind of moral dilemma: would they rather die than continue to work with the knowledge that their project is prolonging the war?