It’s still surreal sitting here in our apartment in Italy. The things that were so hard, different, and strange to us our first couple months have normalized. Sometimes Jaime and I have to remind ourselves that wow, we’re actually living in Rome. It’s not because we take this experience for granted, but what used to be so new to us has just now become a part of everyday life. We’ve officially lived here for eight months and when I think about how much time we have left in this crazy, difficult, but beautiful place I’m already heartbroken to have to leave. I don’t know if Italy is somewhere we could live indefinitely, but it’s definitely somewhere we could live for more than three years. Of course, there are things I still miss about the United States and family and friends are a huge chunk of that. I really miss Trader Joe’s, all ethnic foods (but mostly Japanese and Mexican), driving, being in the same timezone as most of our family and friends, and the convenience that America provides.
I’ve been a little MIA. This summer in Rome was hot, but more than hot it was really humid. Buses, trains, and restaurants sometimes didn’t have AC, so I didn’t get out too much except for the occasional dinner with Jaime. #SweatyPeopleProblems Sweating at the dinner table is not a cute look on me. Neither is running errands and having sweat drip down my face as I make bank transactions with the teller or talk with the cashier as I’m purchasing groceries. A really humid summer meant I spent a lot of days indoors cooling down in front of a fan with Troy and Xena and had to keep myself busy.
Currently, I’ve been…
crocheting blankets for The Blanket Project, a project created by Art Division. Art Division in Los Angeles is working with Border Angels to collect homemade blankets to give to children in shelters near the Mexican border. Art Division is a non-profit (501)(c)3 organization dedicated to training and supporting underserved youth who are committed to studying the visual arts. You can find more information about Art Division HERE and the Blanket Project HERE. My friends and family helped me raise almost $800 and I’ve spent the last couple weeks crocheting blankets to donate. None of this would be possible without our military address which allows me to ship yarn from the United States without incurring customs or duty fees and will allow me to send my blankets to Los Angeles without having to pay international shipping prices. You can check out the three blankets I’ve completed below. I have two more that I plan to finish this upcoming week and then I will ship the first five blankets to LA!
learning Italian. I’m no longer enrolled in Italian language school because the school I was attending didn’t have AC. Makes me laugh when I say it out loud, but when you’re a sweaty person you’re very self conscious about it (at least I am). We have back-to-back visitors starting this weekend until the end of November, so I am waiting to re-enroll and will restart classes in December. I still spend 1-3 hours a day studying Italian with my workbook and Babbel, but I’ve found I learn best in an interactive classroom setting.
eating at a new Japanese restaurant. We found an amazing and very authentic Japanese restaurant last week which I’m over the moon about. They had okonomiyaki!!! It’s hard to find restaurants that serve okonomiyaki in the states — I was never expecting to find it in Italy. We went twice last week it was so good. Our favorites are miso soup, agedashi tofu (pictured), karaage chicken, tempura, unagi (eel) nigiri, and okonomiyaki (pictured).
cooking Italian food. Over the summer, we spent a lot of time trying to perfect cacio e pepe. We haven’t quite nailed it, but according to Jaime (who is a self-proclaimed cacio e pepe expert) we’re close. I’ve also experimented with a few different carbonara recipes and have found one that I absolutely love. Next on the list is amatriciana. We’re trying to learn how to make our favorite recipes while we’re still here and able to taste the real deal to compare.
reading with the Libby app. I’m still in love with my Kindle Paperwhite and the Libby app. Over the last couple months I’ve read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, Lilac Girls by Matha Hall Kelly, The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee, In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park, and Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. I highly recommend all of them, but my favorites were Americanah and In Order to Survive. Americanah is about a Nigerian woman who heads to America and is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. In Order to Survive is Yeonmi Park’s story of escaping North Korea. If you’re on Goodreads, add me! I love seeing what other people are reading and get a lot of my recommendations from what friends are reading.
listening to a lot of punk rock from my high school days. Check out my playlist on Spotify if you need a good throwback.
loving gelato. I’m someone who enjoys gelato January through December; there’s no stopping me from indulging in a small cone of gelato even when it’s cold outside. A small cone of gelato costs €2,00 to €2,50. So instead of my daily cappuccino and cornetto, I swap it for gelato. Otaleg in Trastevere is still our favorite gelatiera and if you come to Rome we will definitely stop there more than once during your visit. Their flavors are some of the freshest in Rome and the flavors change daily.
watching Jane the Virgin. I’m so sad it’s over. There’s no telling how many times I’ll rewatch the series. Are you team Michael or team Rafael? I’m #TeamRafael. I just finished Bloodline; a couple years old on Netflix, but such a great series starring Kyle Chandler. It’s a dark drama about a very complicated family. Can we talk about how great Kyle Chandler is? Have you watched Chernobyl? I knew Chernobyl happened, but I didn’t know all of its history. A very eye-opening series that I highly recommend if you have access to HBO. If you’re looking for something a little crude, a little immature, really sarcastic, but so freakin hilarious check out Schitt’s Creek and I’m Sorry on Netflix. I’ve watched both series multiple times and every time I’m laughing more than the last.
committing to exploring the city at least three times a week. I spent a lot of time indoors this summer and I’m on a mission to make up for lost time.
I hope you enjoyed catching up with what I’ve been up to these last three months and the struggles of being a sweaty person. What are you up to, reading, watching, cooking? I’m interested, so let me know!