Hole-y Weekend

You know there are donuts and bagels involved in this post.

But first, can we talk about how it is absolutely frigid outside? Two weeks ago, the northeast was blessed with gorgeous weather, and now there’s this.

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#springbreak

And the temperature makes you hate everything when you’re outside.

But thank God for warm sunshine, warm clothes, warm radiators, and warm hearts.

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thanks for the pic, Fiona!

There’s supposed to a blizzard tomorrow, and this is the one time I am praying there is NOT a snow day, because I have a huge lab practical exam for gross anatomy that I would like to get over with ASAP. Please and thank you. The world revolves around me.

Before leaving home in New York on Friday morning, I made French toast for Madre, Brother Sam, and myself. It was some of the best French toast I’ve ever made! I think the keys were:

  • drying out the bread on a cooling rack overnight
  • adding more milk to the egg mixture (allows the inside of the toast to be more fluffy!)
  • sprinkling cinnamon over the bread after soaking it in the egg mixture, rather than adding cinnamon to the egg mixture (the latter causes clumps of cinnamon to form on the French toast)
  • using medium heat for the skillet
  • using a healthy dose of real butter for the skillet

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Also, real maple syrup!

Now that I’m back in the apartment, my food photo effort has decreased significantly, but the food has still been tasty.

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Friday night tuna salad made with Greek yogurt, mustard, sweet relish, raisins, chopped carrots, salt and pepper

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Greek yogurt with banana, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, granola + a couple handfuls of cashews

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two sunny eggs on buttered toast (ketchup added to eggs post-photo) + veggies with hummus

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microwave oatmeal with cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, banana, and cashews

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this morning’s breakfast: super thick overnight oat smoothie with frozen bananas, vanilla protein powder, oats, lots of chia seeds, milk, yogurt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a pinch o’ salt

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Irish soda bread sample from Trader Joe’s (one of the best parts of my job is shopping for my bosses at TJ’s, and this is why)

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smoked trout deviled eggs that my boss asked me to make from her South Beach cookbook, and dang that egg mixture (that I tasted for #qualitycontrol) was delicious

On Saturday night (after a 1.5-hour nap at 5pm + this Fitness Blender workout) I cooked one of the best meals in my apartment this year. I bought this Korean BBQ marinade from Thrive Market and used it to marinate chicken thighs (soooo much more flavorful and moist than chicken breast—just do it) for a few hours before grilling them.

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Served with brown rice, sautéed onions, and roasted garlic broccoli.

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and a substantial swirl of Sriracha post-photo 🙂

YUM.

Besides cooking and working, the rest of my weekend has involved lots of studying for that lab practical. Since I took a 1.5-hour nap on Saturday night, I ended up going to bed at 2am, which was actually 3am thanks to DST. Haha.

Sunday involved a lot of fun shenanigans though! First was my attempt at Crossfit Open Workout 17.1.

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The movements and equipment are accessible to me, so I thought I’d just go for it, but I definitely had to scale it. I used a 25-lb. dumbbell instead of a 35, and my gym only had an 18-in. or 24-in. box, so I used the 18-in.

And I still DIED. I had 7 burpee box jump-overs left by the 20 minute time cap. Womp womp. It was a “fun” workout though! Perhaps I will try it again later.

After I was annihilated, I showered and went to lab to study for a bit before meeting with Fiona, Rachel, and Austin for food bucket listing! On our list for the afternoon was Bagelsaurus for a sea salt bagel and Union Square Donuts for the PB&J donut (I gave up pb for Lent, but since it was Sunday, Rachel and I agreed that it would okay for me to have at least a bite of the donut).

Situation: Both places closed at 3pm, we were getting an Uber at around 2pm, and the walk between the two places was 28 minutes. Rachel and I thought we should divide and conquer, but Austin (the marathon runner) and Fiona (the army gal) convinced us that all of us could book it and make it to both places (because one of our rules for food bucket listing is that we go with each other to the actual store and buy the food together). Friends motivating friends for love of food.

I’m glad they pushed us, because we made it!

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Sadly, Union Square Donuts did not have the PB&J donut that day, but we decided to still cross it off the bucket list. Instead, we ordered six donuts to split between the four of us (omg so much donut).

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(left to right) top row: toasted coconut + maple bacon // middle row: Vietnamese coffee + orange cardamom poppy seed // bottom row: sea salted bourbon caramel + raspberry basil

Let’s talk about donuts. These were delicious. But since donuts aren’t my dessert of choice (I feel like it’s difficult to get really good flavor into a donut), none of them blew me away. The raspberry basil was probably my favorite though, because the basil packed a surprising punch. We were all super excited for the sea salted bourbon caramel, but it was kinda disappointing. Too much bourbon, not enough caramel. Like I said though, these were all delicious still! Good quality donuts for sure.

We bought the donuts first but ate them after our bagel sandwiches at Bagelsaurus.

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I got the “Eggspañola” on a sea salt bagel, which was an over medium egg, pimento aioli, feta cheese, parsley gremolata, and I added avocado.

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This was also fantastic! I loved the flavors of the pimento aioli and parsley gremolata + the saltiness of the feta + creaminess of the avocado + richness of the egg. The bagel was really chewy though, so with every bite, everything slid out of the sandwich. ‘Twas a blissfully messy situation.

(I still liked my NY bagel from last week better. I’ve had one NY bagel and now I know everything about bagels.)

Eating bagels and donuts in one afternoon… You could call it a “hole-y” Sunday (creds to all my friends for coming up with great donut/bagel puns).

We did also go to Mass at night, making it a truly holy Sunday 🙂

Lastly, we rang in the new week with my friend Lauren’s 21st!!

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Woohoo!! Happy birthday, Lauren, my dear ♥︎

Hope you all have a warm and productive Monday!

So tell me:

How do you feel about donuts?

Two fun things you did this weekend!

What is the best thing you’ve cooked recently?

Have you ever done a Crossfit Open workout?

 

Lately

I have been the WORST with blogging recently.

I have good and bad excuses, but here’s the lowdown on what’s been happening these past couple weeks!

Before retreat, one of the missionaries at our Catholic Center, Courtney, cooked a killer breakfast (before 7am!) for our little junior Bible study group.

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Complete with eggs, bacon, cinnamon rolls (!!!), toast, fresh berries, and the most unassumingly tasty frozen heart waffles from Whole Foods.

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Courtney, you are wonderful. Thank you so much!

The night after retreat was the countdown to Rachel’s 21st birthday! A bunch of us rallied enough energy to play Just Dance in a common room too tiny for our large group before all the 21+ peeps (including Rachel now!) took a shot at midnight.

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in this moment: “It’s midnight!!!”

‘Twas an exciting night! I was alllll about the dancing (even without booze in me 😉 ).

On Rachel’s actual birthday (which happened to be a day off for President’s Day hallelujah), I took her out to UBurger for some good food and great chats. As we do 🙂

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big papi burger for her, cheeseburger for me, sweet potato fries to share

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The rest of the week was GLORIOUS.

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Boston was teased with the most gorgeous spring weather last week. I got nostalgic, thinking about all the fun spring things from last year. It actually made me kinda sad too, because I know that although it felt like April/May (aka Easter season + end of the semester), I knew it was only February.

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Nevertheless, people around campus were so much happier and more energetic! It’s like the universe changes for the better when the weather gets warm.

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There was still a little bit of snow on the ground, but that all disappeared by the end of the week. I even got to play hacky sack with my friends outside #quintessentialcollegethings. Plus yoga by the river on Thursday morning between classes!

Aaaaaand this week there’s a forecast of snow again.

Random update: I cooked this fantastic pasta dish for my meals last week.

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Whole wheat spaghetti with sundried tomatoes, artichokes, lots of fresh basil, olive oil, and herby chicken. All my faves.

The food and birthday celebrations for Rachel continued over the weekend!

Fish tacos + the BEST honey ale cornbread on Friday:

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there were not enough napkins for this goodness

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check that margarita in front of Rachel eyoooo

Rebecca, Fiona, Rachel and I brunched at Lulu’s on Saturday, which was another beautiful day.

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donut holes with warm chocolate sauce to start

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I got the vegan buddha bowl: mesclun greens, sweet chili noodles, spiced chickpeas and button mushrooms, grape tomatoes, avocado, and sliced almonds. So tasty!

On Sunday, I gave my big gift to Rachel. I took her through a day of 21 meaningful things for her 21st birthday. Some of those things included a breakfast of yogurt + pb, Mass, a trip to El Pelon for the outstanding El Guapo burrito (from our food bucket list)…

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rice, beans, grilled steak, fried plantains(!), salsa, lettuce, jack cheese in the most doughy tortilla in all the land

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you bet we housed each of ours completely

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Sarah also surprised Rachel when she joined us for burritos 🙂

…a 2.5-hour walk through Boston…

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…a homemade dinner of soba noodles with chicken, peppers, and peanut sauce (soba noodles are one of Rachel’s favorite things ever)…

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Her boyfriend, Austin, was a surprise guest for the night! God bless the dude. He had raced 6 miles at a 6:23 pace earlier that day after 4 hours of sleep. Casual.

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…and we finished the day by watching Step Up and eating this PB&J flavor from Ben & Jerry’s, because she’s the jelly to my peanut butter 🙂

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p.s. highly recommend this flavor to all your pb&j lovers

Good times with good people, man.

Speaking of peanut butter though, I’m giving it up for Lent. And not just peanut butter but ALL nut/seed butters. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat!?

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banana pudding for breakfast via Imma Eat That

I’ve contemplated giving up nut butter for Lent in the past, but I was always afraid because I consumed many of my calories from peanut butter, and I wanted to be sensitive to my disordered eating recovery. This year, I feel absolutely sure that giving up nut butter is truly out of sacrifice and not out of any restrictive mindset.

I’m really not excited about it, but that’s a sign that it’s something good for me to give up for Lent 🙂

Megan: “Feel the loss, Alison.”

Hope you all have a great Monday!

So tell me:

How’s the weather where you are?

Does nice weather make you nostalgic about anything?

Three things you did this weekend!

If you observe Lent, what are you thinking of doing/giving up?

What Moves You?

I GOT 14 HOURS OF SLEEP ON SUNDAY NIGHT.

I conked out a little before 7pm and woke up at almost 9am. I needed it though. This past week, I’ve gotten anywhere from 3-6 hours of sleep per night, but I am happy to report that this was mostly because of long, wonderful days.

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egg sandwich that I packed with me for my flight from Florida to Texas — very happy I brought this

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also very happy my flight provided Biscoff cookies 🙂

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Remember the Alamo!

As I said on Friday, I was in San Antonio, Texas for a Catholic conference called SEEK. The theme of the conference is, “What Moves You?”

So with almost 13,000 (!!!) other students (plus a whole lot of religious sisters and brothers, priests, missionaries, and others), we ventured on a four-day journey to reflect on this question.

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can you find Boston University?

Even though I felt like I was moving through a can of sardines the whole week, it was absolutely incredible to grow closer to Jesus Christ with so many other young people.

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Our days consisted of breakfast provided by our own BU missionaries (thanks so much1 ♥︎)…

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they even had pb because they’re the most considerate of souls

…followed by Adoration and Mass with over 13,000 people…

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…then a little Battle of the Sexes game show fun before our separate men’s and women’s talks. Fun fact: I was the contestant on Battle of the Sexes on the third day.

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thanks, Jaime 🙂

A little background: The men won the Battle of the Sexes the past two SEEK conferences. The score by the third day when I went up there was 4-3, women in the lead. But the men had one more lifeline, while the women had used both of them by third day (we had two total for the week — ask the audience and ask a religious). So the pressure of regaining the title for 7,000+ women was on my shoulders. Good thing I had a very strong sense of, “Trust in God; this isn’t about you,” in my heart by the third day.

Rachel filmed this for me:

Funny how I didn’t know the second question, which had to do with women’s rights… Rachel said the night before, “They chose the worst possible person for this.” A little bitter about that comment, but she’s not entirely wrong.

It ended in a tie (he got two right, I got one right), so later that night there was a tiebreaker that THE WOMEN WON. I’m convinced that Our Lady of Victory was interceding for us 😉

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Anyway, after the Battle of the Sexes and the respective men’s and women’s talks, we all broke for lunch, which was provided every day.

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always some variation of sandwich, chips, cookie, and water

After lunch, we had two 40-minute breakout sessions. There were so many talks to choose from each time. Throughout the week, we were blessed to hear a plethora of phenomenal speakers provide inspiration, insight, information, apologetics, and testimonies about different topics in the Catholic faith.

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The second talk ended at 4:45pm, and then we were on our own for dinner. We usually went for some Tex-Mex food, because…we were in Texas.

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tacos and tamales are my faves

Although, one night my Californian friend, Sarah, took us to In-N-Out — apparently an essential experience for all of us who had never been.

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“They all just look so happy there.”

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regular cheeseburger, no onions + vanilla shake

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thanks for the photo, Domenica!

‘Twas delicious!! Even if I was stuffing it into my face in our Uber as we rushed back to the conference that night.

At night, we would have a keynote at 7pm, followed by different programming each night. One night there was adoration with all 13,000 people (chillingly powerful). Another night there was a comedy show by Michael Jr. Another night there was a performance by The Oh Hellos (if you like folk rock, you HAVE to check them out!). Another night, my friends and I ditched the programming and bought ourselves ice cream from CVS.

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ice cream and fellowship  ♥︎ 

Also, San Antonio is a pretty sweet city. Everyone is so kind; it kinda throws off us northeasterners a bit.

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our mascot living his best life in San Antonio

So now to answer the question, “What moves you?”

After this SEEK conference, here’s what I’ve learned moves me:

  1. The unchanging nature of things, especially the unchanging nature of being a woman in a world where the model of femininity is constantly changing (see Lisa Cotter’s talk for more on this!).
  2. The Law of God, which is based on love.
  3. God’s Mercy and the mercy of others in my life.
  4. The fact that, although there are logical reasons to believe God exists, “for most of us, God is not a hypothesis; He is a personal experience.” – Matt Fradd
  5. “We are not the sum of our failures and weaknesses. We are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son.” – St. John Paul II
  6. “God is not just the destination; He is the inspiration.” – John O’Leary
  7. The fervent prayer and worship of so many young people, as well as their support, kindness, and drive to use their talents for the sake of the Kingdom.
  8. The sight of lively and radiant nuns, brothers, friars, priests, and religious.
  9. God not just being a big part of my life but God being my life.
  10. The fact that a guilty conscience is helpful, but shame is not from God.
  11. The gift of writing, which is so helpful for focusing during prayer.
  12. The fact that what breaks my heart breaks God’s heart.
  13. The honest and vulnerable testimonies of men and women from every (and I mean every) walk of life.
  14. “If God is going to spend so much time designing the unique circular patterns on your fingertips, how much more will He care about the love that is in your heart?” -Sr. Bethany Madonna
  15. “You will become what you love.” – Leah Darrow
  16. Just as we can’t exercise and then go feed ourselves with whatever crap foods we want, we can’t just go to church/pray and then feed ourselves with media and activities that point us away from God. It’s a lifestyle.
  17. Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist.13782242_1136742099682279_7064718394112318411_n
  18. These people:

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the Boston University crew! thanks for the pic, Veronica!

So tell me:

What moves YOU?

A fun fact or two about last week!

Have you ever been to In-N-Out before? 

Itty Bitty Pope Francis

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, but a little bit of pizza, pasta and Pope Francis never hurts (unless you’re gluten intolerant).

Where did I leave off in part one of Rome adventures? Saturday!

I woke up early-ish again to meet another one of my seminarian friends (stop rolling your eyes), Kevin. We broke the fast with cornetti again as we caught up on a bunch of stuff. I hadn’t seen Kevin since I was in high school in New York!

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I could get used to meeting people at St. Peter’s square in the morning

What I can’t get used to is finding people in St. Peter’s square mid-morning. I didn’t agree on a specific spot in St. Peter’s to meet up with Megan and Ceara after I had breakfast with Kevin, so it was like real life “Where’s Waldo”.

Eventually, Megan and I ran into each other amidst the sea of people, and we were reunited. Ceara’s friend, Sonja, joined us for the day too! We bravely decided to tackle the long line for the Musei Vaticani. The bravery is mostly for facing all the people who harass you to buy tickets to skip the long line into the museum.

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The wait wasn’t horrible though! Maybe an hour tops? That being said, the museum was absolutely packed. I feel like the whole museum is really just one giant line to get into the Sistine Chapel.

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The art is magnificent, don’t get me wrong! I’m happy that we got to see all the great artists’ works through the centuries and millennia.

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But let’s just say… I’m glad we got student discounts on our tickets. It’s a lot of stimulation with all the people and intricate artwork, and if you’re claustrophobic, skip this museum.

After a good few hours at Musei Vaticani, we were ready for lunch. Specifically, pizza. Ceara led us to a great place called L’isola di Pizza (The Island of Pizza), which sounds cheesy (no pun intended), but their pizza crust was the BEST.

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I went with the classic combo of cheese, tomato, and basil (it was different from the margherita though?), and although I wish it had more basil, I totally demolished this. That thin, crispy crust was everything.

Then it was time to walk walk walk in the beautiful weather yet again!

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With a stop for gelato, necessarily. Frigidarium take two. This time I got the famous Frigidarium flavor (a rich caramel flavor with some chocolate swirls, chocolate biscuit pieces, and that big chocolate biscuit on top!) + saffron pistachio!!!

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This was my favorite cup of gelato of the entire trip.

We took the bus to The Basilica of St. John Lateran and La Santa Scala (the Holy Stairs on which Jesus was condemned that were somehow removed from Jerusalem and brought to Rome by command of Constantine’s wife??), where we spent some time looking around and climbing the stairs on our knees while praying in remembrance of His condemnation.

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Basilica of St. John Lateran

It’s weird that I “got used to” this kind of view whenever I entered any church in Rome.

We took our time walking back up towards dinner, stopping by the Colosseum again to chat and watch the sun set.

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It was fun chatting with the girls about faith agreements/disagreements and cartoon crushes as we strolled through ROME. Agh, that will never not be cool to me.

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Eventually, we made it to a place that Denis recommended for dinner called La Vittoria. I wasn’t crazy hungry, but I still wanted pasta. This might have been my favorite pasta that I ate in Rome (but second best pasta in all of Italy after the gnocchi in Assisi)— spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce, bacon, and hazelnuts. I think I had a salad before this, but that’s not as exciting as pasta.

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It doesn’t look that great from the photo, but I promise it was. The bacon added a lovely smokey flavor that made my heart sing (probably cry too, but…). We stayed at the restaurant until it started closing up, which was the longest we had stayed at a restaurant during our whole trip. #TheEuropeanWay

The next day, Ceara, Megan and I had a light-ish breakfast of two last cornetti per person. We basically had to, because our Airbnb host gave us vouchers for free breakfast at a nearby cafe every morning. If they insist, ya know?

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this one was filled with custard, not gonna keep any secrets here

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and this one had a touch of apricot jam on it 🙂

After a little time to digest, we walked over to a church just outside Vatican City for Sunday Mass.

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Not only was the Mass in English, but the priest who celebrated, Fr. Gino, was from New Jersey (go northeast and tristate area)! He actually came up to us right before Mass started and asked us where we were from. He then proceeded to start the Mass and gave Boston University a shoutout in front of the whole congregation! It was no papal audience, but we were still super honored and excited.

Sonja met up with us after Mass, and we all squeezed our way into St. Peter’s square to see a special someone…

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CAN YOU SEE HIM!?

It’s your boy, Papa Francesco giving a sermon on the readings of the day and praying with all the people gathered in St. Peter’s square, which he does every Sunday at 12:00 pm when he’s in town. We were so happy to see him!!

I knew he’d look small being so far away, but I didn’t think he would be that small. His voice was amplified though, so we got to hear his tender, grandfatherly voice. I just wanna give him a hug.

Afterwards, we slowly waddled our way through the crowds to get to lunch at Da Vito e Dina. Megan split a supplì (fried rice ball with cheese inside) with me because I had been hoping to have arancini at some point during our Italy travels, so the supplì was the closest match on our last day. Good choice.

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For my last pasta dish in Italy (*tear*), I had the seafood gnocchi, which was very salty but very delicious.

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For our last gelato run, we chose Old Bridge, which is what one of my other seminarian friends recommended back from the States. The quality of the gelato was just as good as Frigidarium, but I think I liked the flavor selection at Old Bridge better. HOWEVER, I still liked my second Frigidarium experience best of all.

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At the end of the day though, it’s gelato in Rome, so I couldn’t lose. I got the biscotti, arachidi (peanut), and coconut biscuit flavors. All so good! And again— €2 for three flavors. I weep coming back to Ireland/the US.img_5254

After our last meal in Rome, we walked towards a park for some last views of the grand city.

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Sonja and I also got our yoga on!

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St. Peter’s one last time. ♥︎

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Then it was time to get our bags from the Airbnb and head to the airport. It was a little stressful finding the bus from the train station to the airport, but we eventually found out what to do after some flailing and confusion.

My airport dinner was a decent vegetable sandwich.

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Our flight was filled with rowdy Irish tweens, but I made my first Irish friend! He’s super tall, well-read, and 17 or 18 years old. Haha.

Since then, we’ve been back in Dublin doing our internships and continuing some class work. I’m SO BEHIND in catching you up, but I have officially finished reviewing the most epic trip of my life.

Praise God.

Assisi, You Have My Heart

I was woken up by church bells and roosters crowing in Assisi, and I had never been so happy to be woken up an hour early.

We arrived to Assisi at around 8:30 pm on Tuesday night. Megan and I had planned on taking the bus and walking to the hospitality house where we were staying, but we decided to split a taxi with two American men who were on our train. It was a smart decision, because Assisi’s streets are quite the maze. Plus it was dark and we were not in the mood to get lost after a long day of traveling.

We stayed at La Casa d’Ospitalità Maria Immacolata, which was the perfect place. Central location, super kind religious sisters, and beautiful rooms.

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We tried to find a bite to eat, and the best we could do at 9pm in our tired state was a €5 salad. I had this plus half of Megan’s, since she wasn’t feelin’ hers anymore.

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Our room had a balcony with a panorama of Assisi, which looked like this in the morning:

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GLORY.

I ate some breakfast biscuits and mixed nuts before we explored Assisi. Just like Padua, it involved a lot of church visits, wandering semi-aimlessly, and waiting for restaurants to open. 

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We loved it so much though. Assisi is a movie set. None of it seems real, but the best part is that it IS REAL. The buildings are rustic, and the signs look like Disney World tried to make a European Epcot exhibition. 

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Obviously, we had to visit the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Pictures weren’t allowed (there were two Italian guards with big guns outside, so I wasn’t gonna try to pull a fast one), but again, it was exquisite. St. Francis’ tomb was in the basement!! (Getting excited over dead people, I know.)

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We spent a good chunk of time there before going to a random (yet impressively high-tech) museum of a Franciscan mission to the Amazon, followed by the Basilica of St. Rufino. 

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Poor Megan was getting hangry, but we had 20 minutes to spare before lunch opened, so I tried to walk us to Rocca Maggiore (the fortress at the very top of Assisi) for a nice view. Too bad Assisi is really hilly and steep — great if you have energy to exercise, horrible if you’re hangry.

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The views were worth it (IMO. But I ate more than she did for breakfast too, so..). 

Working up an appetite for lunch at Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erba was also worth it. My friend Joe recommended it to me, and the menu looked fantastic, so we went for it.

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Al fresco!

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They gave us a bread basket PLUS this onion focaccia, which was divine.

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Megan and I shared the beef tartare to start. We called them “raw meatballs”, but they were seriously amazing. There were black truffle shavings and some sort of yogurt sauce. 

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Then we both ordered the gnocchi for our main. It came with a lamb ragu sauce, pecorino cream, and CHOCOLATE! The chocolate definitely elevated the dish to a new and unique level. 

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Dead. This was definitely the best meal of my entire trip.

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We popped into a gelateria for lunch dessert, because…we were in Italy. 

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Each cup came with three flavors, so I went with caramel, mint chocolate chip, and pistachio. Weird combo, but I enjoyed it a lot. 

I was so full of good Italian food at that point, so we slowly made our way to the Basilica of St. Clare, where her tomb was located as well. Her body is partially incorrupt, which means it is decaying more slowly than usual and no one can explain it scientifically. Creepy crazy cool.

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We headed back to our room to change into something other than jeans, since it was actually pretty warm that day. I also needed to lay down on a bed and digest from lunch still.

Then it was time for a hike! We walked about 1.5 hours to St. Francis’ old hermitage, called Eremo delle Carceri, which I think means hermitage of the prisons? It was a great walk, but it was also a great workout. It was all uphill, so my hamstrings and butt were feeling it as I huffed and puffed up the double backs of the mountain.

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We were the only valiant walkers as many cars passed us by. #fituniversity?

Once we arrived, we walked around the beautiful and serene hermitage. We checked out the grottos and prayer spaces of St. Francis and his companions.

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We spent a good couple of hours here, marveling in the beauty and meditating ourselves. It was another good workout going down this trail…and then back up.

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STORY TIME.

We stayed so long at the hermitage because we wanted to go to adoration and vespers (both are special forms of prayer) at the chapel at 6pm. We knew it would get dark, but we figured we could get a cab or just walk with our phone flashlights back down the mountain, no big deal.

Adoration and vespers were lovely. I was exhausted, but it was so cool to be praying with priests and religious brothers and sisters at the top of a mountain in Assisi, where St. Francis once prayed.

Once the prayers were over though, we realized that it was pitch black outside and thunder storming… Not really great conditions for walking 1.5 hours down a mountain, eh? At first, I assured the priest that we would be able to get a taxi by the entrance of the hermitage, but when we got outside, there was not a soul in sight, and we knew there would be no taxis passing by until the morning. So we scurried back to the hermitage to ask the priest, Fr. Marco and the religious sister, Sr. Violet, there to call a cab for us.

God is good. Another religious sister, Sr. Elisabetta, and her friend were heading back down the mountain with their car, so the priest asked them if they would be willing to give us a lift, and they agreed! It all sounds very nice and perfect as I type this, but in reality, Megan and I were so frazzled and helpless.

“Guess we’re staying at the hermitage tonight.” -Megan

We are beyond grateful for such kind people though. We got to talk to Fr. Marco and Sr. Violet while we waited for our ride to be ready. All of a sudden though, the room started shaking.

Megan and I were just looking around like, “Hm, the room is moving. Must be some strong thunder or something.” But Sister Violet took my arm and calmly but firmly led me out of the room we were standing in to stand under a small archway.

We must have looked confused at that point, because all she said was, “Earthquake. Terremoto.” WHAT!? Megan and I are clueless. Thankfully, it was not a big or long earthquake.

Anyway, Sr. Elisabetta and her friend very kindly drove us back to town, where it started raining torrentially.

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If we tried to walk back down a mountain in the dark with thunderstorms, pouring rain, and earthquakes, I think we would have died. We are forever grateful for the compassionate and joyful people of Eremo delle Cercari.

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We ran into the closest open restaurant once we got out of the car. It was a random hotel restaurant, but we were hungry and it was pouring outside. I ordered the veal steak and side of grilled vegetables.

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I got the biggest stomachache after this, probably because I ate too fast and the meal was just very oily overall. Too many fats in a very short period of time after a long hike and a little stress was not a good combo.

By the time we finished dinner, it had stopped raining (thank God), so we walked back to our rooms to just be done with the day. But it wasn’t quite over.

I had just showered and Megan was sitting on the ground using her phone. The room started shaking again, and we looked at each other. We didn’t say anything but we weren’t taking this earthquake seriously, since the other one was so short and mild. But then the shaking kept going, and it was getting harder. Our eyes widened and we realized, “Oh, earthquakes are natural disasters and we should be concerned. !!!!”

All I learned in school was to go under a doorframe, so that’s what we did. We were totally fine, but the epicenter must have felt it big time. 😦

We felt one more shake while in our beds a little later, but nothing woke us up while we were actually sleeping.

The next morning, the sun was out and the view from our balcony got even prettier.

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I could cry.

We checked out of our hospitality house and moseyed our way down to St. Damian, which was a church rebuilt by St. Francis and used by the Poor Clares.

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Look at how touristy we are. Backpack/frontpack for me + hiking boots hanging off of Megan’s hiking backpack.

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Besides Megan mildly twisting her ankle, the walk to lunch was lovely, and these views from the bottom of Assisi were stunning. I could not take my eyes off this place.

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We ate lunch at Casa Norcia, which gave us some delicious pasta (naturally). I had the mixed salad + tagliatelle with prosciutto and hazelnuts. YUM.

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There were about 45 minutes to kill before the Mary of the Angels Basilica reopened for the day, so I blogged on my phone for a bit outside. The wifi was THE BEST in that area.

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Then it was time to catch our train to Rome. We both finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that evening, and we are officially HP fans now. It happened.

So we shed a tear because we left Assisi and because we finished the first HP book. Assisi is my new favorite place in the world, and my heart longs to return.

A few more adventures to share coming up!