My Oprah moment: favorites

Hello! I feel like I should immediately give the disclaimer that you will not receive any of the things that I mention in this post because unfortunately, I am not Oprah. I’ve just had some time (lots of time) to reflect on the things I’ve enjoyed this summer. These will all change in the fall/winter because TV shows end, my skin becomes more dry (yet still oily), and I probably eat 1,000 more calories to guard myself from the harsh wind. Also, “me time” will be something I will have way less of. Yipes.

Favorite summer beauty (that isn’t makeup):

**(This is likely the only favorite category that will have an intro, but don’t worry. Mostly photos after this).

I used to believe that if I only had time to put on one product/ makeup thing, I would put on two (foundation and mascara). But now, after much research (YouTube, Amazon product reviews, $$$expensive$$$ trial and error), I am changed. I used to wear foundation sitting in my house alone because I just didn’t like how  I looked. Now thanks to some basic skincare and nutrition I only fill in my brows.  Fine, I put on mascara too so as not to frighten people. It’s a blond person problem mmmkay.

3 way tie: Cleanser,  oil, *sunscreen



*Funny story about Neutrogena: Miracles. I seriously wore only this on a (first) date. I didn’t have time or moisturizer. Totally worked. Still single.

Bonus favorite: Grapefruit toner. May or may not work- just bought it. All that matters is that you spray it onto your face. Spray = yay!


**Bonus Pro-tip: Contouring on a daily basis; especially in the light of day; should be prohibited. It is meant for going to the Oscars and being in a magazine. That’s it. Those are the only scenarios.

Favorite t-shirts/ tanks: Funny but not annoying cute sayings/ phrases (but slightly annoying).


*These are all REALLY SOFT and I mostly sit around in my in my apartment in them, and then when I leave it looks like I’m going to workout, but I’m not! I’m fooling everyone.

Runner up- Anything blush/ nude.

(Shout out to VS Pink, Target and Banana Republic)

Favorite TV show (to binge watch): 30 Rock 

I had yet to find a show that made me laugh as much as Family Guy. This seems more mature because it’s people and not cartoons. That’s what growing up is all about.

“Hey, nerds! Who’s got two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn’t cried once today? This moi.”

30 rock funny30 rock funny 330 rock funny 2


Favorite summer reads:

 Final book pending…

**If you’re feeling judge-y just keep in mind that I needed light post surgery. And you’re also a jerk because at least I read. And yes, I have a Tina Fey thing.


Favorite summer photos: 

Favorite smoothie recipe: Refreshing


I’ll leave the amounts of things up to your discretion. That’s the beauty of a smoothie.


Favorite  sweet yums:

I make this all the yummy and you can "experiment" with it using different ingredients!: 20160811_130710

Favorite other yum: (Just so happens to also be sweet) 

Yums that require no real baking, intense cooking or talent: (And are also “soft diet” approved)

Eggs- any way, any how i ❤ an egg. Hard, soft, ooey and gooey. Although QUESTION: When did egg whites become “a thing”? Is the yolk too delicious? Along with my gluten free sentiments, pass me your yolk and I will have your gluten for you too if it must be so.

Avocado– Apparently there is an avocado crisis of some sort because of the realization of the awesome powers within the avocado, but I am surely not the cause of it. It’s all you avocado toast people. #toast #basic #pfff. I prefer a squirt of lemon juice, salt, lime. Or just straight up.

Tofu- May weird some people out. It’s a texture thing and I totally get it because I have it with mushrooms and most peppers not prepared by me. I’ve actually always picked tofu over chicken on my Thai food. Something comforting and easy about the squish of it.

Salmon– 425, foil,  olive oil, lemon slices, throw a dash of your fave spices (for me that is paprika and pink himalaya salt) 25 minutes (I think) melt in yo mouf.

Sweet potato– 425, foil, fork it, olive oil it, 45 min and that’s it. Don’t ruin it with anything else. If you must, butter it.


Favorite words and conclusion:


Finally, I leave you with this video that I feel like I really relate to, even though we have nothing in common (not a model born in France that smokes). But I just get her want to be well. Whatever that means. It resonates with me right now.

Camille Rowe- Wellness Journey: Shot by British Vogue so it’s also very pretty and soothing.



Oh finally, A Coruna






I wanted to go to the end of the Earth, but that was just a tad farther away than we had time to do in our driving itinerary, and since I had not yet touched the wheel and had no intention of doing so….A Coruna was our own version of the end of the Earth. 

This trip happened so long ago that the details are blurry but mainly it was misty and rainy and we struggled to find pintxos with the same ease as some of our other stops. Perhaps it was bad timing on our part, but we did eat more excellent sea food and crisp dry white wine- the famous Albarino. 

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We gobbled up these peppers like we had not eaten in weeks. There was just something perfect about them.

As we made our way down the promenade alongside the beach we stopped at a museum “The House of Man” Casa del Hombre which had some interesting interactive science exhibits.  



Making our way towards the 2,000 year old lighthouse- the oldest in the world! It is called the tower of Hercules and apparently when it is open you can go up a lot of steps and have a great view but we did not do that. Walking up the path to get there was a journey in and of itself and I enjoyed the view as rain misted over us non stop. I remember having an incredibly sad moment looking out onto the water thinking that this was the end of my trip and the end of my experience in Spain. The end, the end, the end. Fini, finnis, finito. 

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Having seen most of the recommended sights, our number one focus was finding a great restaurant for dinner to really cap off the trip with excellence. Budget out the window, let’s go to THE best restaurant in town according to TripAdvisor. As I was feeling sad and for some reason rich it seemed like the best plan. 

I actually just looked it up again to remember the name and it is ranked # 3, but Artabria is # 1 to me. 

This little morsel came before we even ordered. Que rico whatever you are!

This little morsel came before we even ordered. Que rico whatever you are!

Salmon rolls of some sort. Delicious. Perfect.

Salmon rolls of some sort. Delicious. Perfect.

Those little green guys were filled with octopus aka my new best friend to my tummy.

Merluza in a creamy garlic sauce (I think…). Those little green guys were filled with octopus aka  new best friend to my tummy.

Meat with a plum sauce.

Meat with a plum sauce.

Dessert- always.

Dessert- always. Chocolate mousse. 

The best kind of art.

The best kind of art. A queso cremoso with mango and red fruits. 

The restaurant.

The restaurant.

Just some recognition of its amazing-ness.

Just some recognition of its amazing-ness.

For being at a fancy restaurant on a weeknight (maybe a Tuesday or Wednesday) it got pretty full. I figured maybe we would be alone and it would be weird, but it was awesome and the staff were so nice and spoke with us about the terrible rainy weather and their insanely awesome food.

They were quite humble about all of their rankings and did not seemingly know that they were ranked so highly on TripAdvisor but let me tell you if a restaurant like this existed in Chicago I would not be able to afford it or get a table at it. This place is reasonable and not just because of my rich feelings.  Of all of the food I have eaten in my life it ranks up in the top 5 or 10. I have eaten a lot of great things so it’s really hard to say but I would recommend going to Artabria in La Coruna Spain whenever you are able to. 


And that ladies and gentlemen concludes my final journey through Spain. I still had some goodbyes in Logrono to attend and seeing the fiestas of San Bernabe that I had missed the first year, but I really could not have wished for a better last trip than discovering the beauty, the rain, and the food of Galicia. 







Prom 2013

You get a lot of different answers when you ask people what is American (U.S.A). Kids in Spain talk about McDonald’s, Burger King, pizza…etc.etc. Okay so they get that we like to eat. Can’t deny it.

I am sure a lot of people think freedom, red white and blue, ice cream, Obama, corn, guns, New York, L.A, Walmart, binge drinking, country music, movies, flip flops, apple pie….

I think of those things, but when I had to think about lessons to engage teenagers beyond laughing at all the gun slinging fatties we call citizens I thought of the pinnacle high school event: Prom.

My mom scanned some photos for me, and I was able to scrounge a few off of Facebook (since there was a day in age when you had to have a college email address to get a Facebook…hem hem) and with google image searches I had a fantastic PowerPoint in my clutches.

As I am a sharing and caring teacher, I wanted my fellow cultural assistants to benefit from the love I poured into this presentation. What really came of it was the idea to have our own Logrono prom. We hardly needed an excuse to get dressed up and eat at a nice restaurant with the end of the year and goodbyes all around us, but prom is totally in the spirit of those sentiments and thus….

my jumpsuit from Santander!

my jumpsuit from Santander!

my "date"

my “date”

The only real dates ;)

The only real dates 😉



Ready to paint the town red

Ready to paint the town red





Table "date"

Table “date”

This guapa

This guapa

croquetas and white asparagus- always crowd pleasers

croquetas and white asparagus- always crowd pleasers

rabooooo. Ox tail

rabooooo. Ox tail

A yogurt mousse

A yogurt mousse


We had the pre prom party of cheesy photos, the dinner, no actual dance ….but of course the post prom party where I allowed myself to be not lame for once in a blue moon and did as the cool Spaniards do and stayed out until 6am. Thank goodness for my low heels.


We also didn’t go away to anybody’s cabin and get murdered.


Even though I just swore at my computer for 5 minutes straight because it shut down in the midst of this post, I still have the photos and memory of my final trip in Spain through Galicia. I should be able to post it before I pay off the rental car.


Kaixo again San Seb


I studied abroad in San Sebastian the summer of 2009. I was hesitant about studying abroad at all, but how bad could a posh coastal town in Spain be right?! Well it actually took being away from San Sebastian to realize how precious it is.

I met a lot of great people there, and living with a “host family” aka Maite was the right choice in retrospect in terms of discovering my independence and actually speaking Spanish, but I was pretty lonely there. I didn’t ever form the life I have here in Logrono, and I didn’t meet any new basque or Spanish friends…

I also never realized that San Sebastian was expensive. I didn’t know what to expect from Spain, so I thought that’s how the prices were- not far off from Chicago I guess…but compared to the rest of Spain eating out can really break the bank and the pintxos are much more of a gamble than Logrono. (In my opinion).

They all look beautiful, but really who cares how it looks once you are chewing a squishy egg ham cake that seemed normal but turns out to be eggy to the extreme x ham + egg.

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The weather predicted was for a chance of sun, but mostly cool. We got lucky on Saturday and  sat on the beach with some sandwiches for a few hours, but  of course none of us dressed for the occasion or brought towels.  We made do sitting on our scarves and jackets but I happened to be wearing a onesie/jumper/romper type thing and tights…talk about not going to the bathroom with ease.

Luckily Spain is cool with semi/ total beach nudity, and I did a quick job taking off my tights and no one really saw me minus one particular pervert baby that watched the whole act. I swear, one button was popped and the baby’s eyes were like lasers piercing my soul.

Once we said agur to pervert baby and the sun was starting to disappear we headed to the “fun fair/ attractions park” on top of Monte Igueldo.



Adorable! And NOT pervert baby.

It's almost impossible to take a bad picture of this.

It’s almost impossible to take a bad picture of this.

Here is the view at the top of Monte Igueldo. Aside from being a photographic dream there is a cute little carnival with some lame children’s rides that of course my friends and I had to do for old times sake. There is a roller coaster that has been running since roller coasters were invented. It is quite rickety and the only thing between you and falling off the side into the bay of Biscay is a thin chain. In the U.S I’m sure there would be many legal issues with this but here in Spain: No rules, no problem.



Where I lived for 2 summery months with Maite

Where I lived for 2 summery months with Maite

Where I came to LOVE pintxos and Txakoli

Where I came to LOVE pintxos and Txakoli



Playa Zurriola. The surfer beach.

really a gamble

really a gamble

really a weird choice that I made.

really a weird choice that I made. The “ham cake”

really pintxos.

really pintxos.

The best part of the whole trip is that since we’d all been before we didn’t have any obligations to do anything or see any sights. We went with the flow. I guess I did obligate everyone to walk by the apartment I lived in…and drink txakoli, but that was because what else did we have to do besides absolutely nada? Nada. It was funny that after four years It still felt familiar. Four whole years it took me to travel to a city that is about an hour away. That’s some kind of accomplishment.



Agur and eskerrik asko ( Bye and thank you)- The thank you is pronounced like “A scary Costco” which is easy to remember because Costco while awesome is scary. So many large items.

Up next, Santander! Just trying to hit up all the playas despite the fact that I have minimal interest  in swimming and sand 😉


When in Wien, Waltz! Vienna

Semana Santa was back in a colder time I know, and now it’s June. But wait- it’s still cold!

No te quites el sayo hasta el cuarenta de mayo

If you have envy of me for being in “sunny Spain” then stop because it has done nothing but be rainy and cool and I’ve had no need for any of the dresses, skirts, or t-shirts that I brought. They have been sitting like lumps waiting to be taken out and I fear they’ll go write back into my suitcase unworn.

I’ve been saying goodbye so much lately that I haven’t had time to document the final leg of one incredible week that happened back in April.

Shcnitzel, Mozart, waltzing, green spaces, friendly people. A place you could live. A place where everyone seems to be going on a run, but there are also fancy cakes, coffees and strudels to be eaten.

The whole trip began with a shcnitzel at figlmueller. There are two locations right off the main Stephensplatz of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

The shcnitzels are giant, so even if you have the appetite of a medium sized bear, you could handle sharing one. And a salad to make you feel slightly better.



In front of the Opera house

In front of the Opera house



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Crying potatos



Lots of cool record shops around.

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Flea market experience on Sunday

Flea market experience on Sunday. 


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Fancy cake.


A chocolate that will make you sing! Figaro Figaro!


In front of Parliament. With Athena.

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In the University library, filled with young minds getting an education at a normal, reasonable price.

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Near the EU building. teehee


An old old church.

IMG_3926A golden Johann Strauss.

Shonbrunn Palace

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Me feeling palatial. My kingdom in the background.

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Apple strudel

Apple strudel


The cake face off of Sachertorte vs. Apple Strudel.

We were let down big time in Prague not finding Apple strudel and it was okay that we waited until Vienna because it was on point.  We heard mixed reviews on the sachertorte. Some people said “eh” others said “amazing” and some even said “not worth the hype.”

Well we got to the airport and had some time and so we figured, how bad could it be if we all split a piece….with cream. I say “yes!”

It was the finale to the trip and if I ever went back to Vienna I would eat it again and I’d tell other people to give it a shot at least. I’m a lover of all things sweet so maybe I’m not the fairest judge, but really if you don’t like chocolate cake then you have no business in my life, or travelling to a city like Vienna.

My own personal “challenge” for the trip was to do a waltz, so on the final morning our couch-surfing host cleared out a space, and invited me to a waltz. Trip complete.


Now that I’m all finished up at my high school here in Logrono I’ll have my mornings free to keep you up to date on these past months and final days that I have in Spain.

I made it back to San Sebastian recently after 4 years, and finally went to Santander. Both lovely coastal gems.

This week I’m preparing for my own “camino de Santiago” that involves no walking or hardship but rather a car, perhaps one night of semi hardship camping on an Island, and then hotels.

More on that later.