Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Alleys and Shadows: Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba was my favorite city out of the four I visited in Spain: the houses are all painted white with primary colored borders, and flowers are bursting out every window. We got a morning free just to wander around the streets, and it was an amazing experience to walk about as everything still felt soft and quiet. There are so many little winding alleys that are absolutely beautiful and that you can just lose yourself in. A difference between Cordoba and New York: the alleys are cute and pretty instead of serial murderer lairs. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

For A Lonely Soul, You're Having Such a Nice Time

These are pictures of the mosque in Cordoba.

A shrine at the mosque in Cordoba.

The Roman Bridge in Cordoba

Nighttime Over The Atlantic

A pearl moon is set in its shell of ink-dark indigo
casting silver powder showers down onto an ocean
of wisp thin mist.
I fly high above,
in a void of tidal winds and turbid currents,
and watch ripples move across a cloud-bank sea.


Madrid Book Haul

I'm home from Spain! Honestly, the whole experience was wonderful and felt like some kind of dream, and I'll definitely be talking more about my adventures when I post my pictures from the trip. But first things first, books.
I was wandering around in Madrid with a couple of friends, and fate happened. We were walking down a street off the Plaza Del Sol and I was complaining that all I had seen were souvenir shops and generic clothing stores when I looked to the left and BAM. A scene straight from Tumblr. Right off this big street there was a little stone alley, and set up on it was a used book stall. It had all of these old Spanish books, shelves and tables of them, along with watercolors and vintage photographs. Literally when I saw it I stopped dead in the street and gasped. I was really sad at first since all the books appeared to be in Spanish and I am a french-speaker, but then I saw a little box labeled "Frances", filled with all of these old French books. Needless to say, at this point I pretty much flung all the money I had at the lady who owned the store.

I ended up with four books: Coeur au Zenith by Louis Bauguion, L'Iris De Suse by Jean Giono, A La Recherche de L'Unite by E. Techoueyres, and La Petite Fille Au Bout De Chemin by Laird Koenig. I'm in love with the packaging of old French books: they're very understated, and the pages are suchhhhh nice quality.

Coeur Au Zenith is quickly becoming one of my favorite books physically that I own. I love the parchment paper wrapping and the simple text on the front and spine. It was published in 1934, and it's sort of crazy to me that I have a book in my hands that was made in France almost a century ago. There's something about the phrase at the beginning, "Vivre seul au monde" (to live alone in the world) that speaks to me. It captures that feeling you sometimes get when you realize however close you get to people, there will always be a separation between you and them, that at the end of the day it is only you. It's hard to put into words but I think the phrase, especially in French, comes as close as possible.

This book was published in 1970. I actually have no idea what it's about; the cover flap seemed to be talking about a flower and then lapis lazuli and then architecture and then the invention of zero, so I guess I'll just find out when I read it.

This book seems to be a philosophy book, which I'll never say no to. It was published in 1937, and the pages are all browned around the edges. I just love feeling the paper, it's such nice quality.

This book was actually written in English first and translated to French. The French edition was published in 1974. It's a thriller about a thirteen year old girl who lives alone on Long Island with her dad, and doesn't go to school. It should be pretty fun to read and maybe after I finish it I'll get the English edition to compare. I love reading in French because there are some ways that ideas are said that just can't be translated to English, or that present things in a little bit of a different way. One of my favorite examples is that you would say quelqu'un me manque, instead of I miss something. Something is doing the missing to you. It's a little bit of a different idea, and it's really fun to find things like that in another language.

My pictures from Spain will be up soon, so stay tuned for those!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

The Liebster Award:

1. The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
2. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions given to you.
4. Choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award on to and link them in your post.
5. Create 11 new questions for the chosen bloggers.
6. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
7. No tag backs.

Thanks to Lianne @ for nominating me! I'll just answer the questions because I talk about myself too much already on this blog :)
1.) What is your least favorite book and why?
There are a number of books I haven't enjoyed very much, but I think I have to go with Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. It's something around 800 pages, and I made a valiant effort but only managed to get through about 400. I like the surrealism in his writing, but his style is way too contrived for my taste. I could feel in the words how highly he thought of himself as a writer, and his descriptions were forced. Plus the love story didn't pull me in at all. I liked his ideas, but the execution wasn't there.

2.) What was the last book you read and what did you think of it?
The last book I read was Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King, and I loved it! You can read my review here. It was really educational but told in a story-like way, so I didn't have any trouble getting through it and I absorbed a lot of information without realizing it.

3.) When recommending books to other people, what book do you find yourself recommending the most?
I don't really have any friends or family to read, so I don't find myself recommending books often, but I think if someone asked for a recommendation I would say Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. It's one of my favorite books and it's written in a sequence of short stories, so you can pick it up whenever and just read a chapter, and you'll get a full story out of it.

4.) What's the last movie you watched that you would recommend to others?
Hands down La Grande Bellezza by Paolo Sorrentino. I re-watched it on the plane coming home from Spain yesterday and almost cried just because I love it so much. It's such a work of art and a huge inspiration as far as filmmaking goes; I would love to study it in detail.

5.)When times are stressful, what do you do to relax?
Mainly I listen to music. When I feel really overwhelmed from school I put a song on repeat and put my head down for a few minutes; I've found it really helps me to calm down. I also make art- collage, draw, play the saxophone- but it takes awhile so I save that for the weekends. Sailing is amazing for relaxing too. The only thing I stay away from is writing because even though I love it, it can be really stressful for me.

6.) Is there a television show that you sort of hate-watch? It’s not even a guilty pleasure, you know you would never be caught dead watching it and yet you do anyways? You can expand this to a book or a movie if you can’t think of anything .
Huehuehue this is a fun one. To be honest, I remember watching a few animes overnight that I would completely forget the next morning, and if I were fully awake would never go near. There was one about the Shinsengumi being vampires or something (I remember red eyes...) and one that was like this girl that ended up managing some shrine with a fox god I don't even know. I'm not proud, but they were extremely entertaining at four in the morning.

7.) What's one place that you would love to travel to (or return to) and why?
Italy is my number one- half because it's beautiful and magical and half because I'm italian and yet have never been. I also want to go to France, especially to explore the South of France- but I'm going to France this summer and Italy next spring, so as far as places I'd like to go to further in the future- I'd love to visit Istanbul. My French teacher taught there for awhile, and I've only heard positive comments from her. Portugal would be amazing, and I would love to go island-hopping in Greece. Japan would be awesome to visit, especially since I have close family friends there and my brothers have both been there. Maybe Thailand as well, and Singapore. England would be so much fun to go to with a group of friends, and just travel from village to village. Oh and also the Netherlands; I have a friend who lives there and it just seems like a really healthy country. The other Scandinavian countries would be nice too. Basically everywhere. I want to travel the world.

8.) What's one sport you wish you could play or play well at?
I mean I always wish I could be better at sailing, because it's my main sport. Otherwise I don't love sports... they require exercise, which isn't my strong suit.

9.) What's your favorite sport to watch and why?
...sailing. Because I sail. But honestly it's not such great spectator sport but if you sail and know the tactics and how to read the wind and currents and what plays are being made, it's really thrilling. From shore it all looks calm but on board you just know everything is so intense and fast-paced. It's really a mind game as much as it is a physical sport, which is why I like it so much.

10.) If you could eat one particular meal or item for one year, what would it be?
Tuna fish salad sandwich. Mainly because that's all I know how to make so I actually do end up eating it every day.

11.) Is there something you've always been meaning to try, but haven't?
Making a short film! It's going to happen soon, though, I promise.

Now for the people I'm going to tag! Sorry if you've already been tagged or if you're an awards-free blog-it's totally optional to participate :)

Vampire (And Other Paranormal Things) Queen
There's More to Life than Books, You Know, But Not That Much More
The Pied Piper Calls
Paper Charade
Miss Bibliophile
Life of a Female Bibliophile
Il Blog Di Chiara
Books Are My Favorite and Best
A Moot Point
Read My Breath Away

And any other blogs that want to participate! I don't follow too many book blogs so if you see this and want to respond, link up below!
The Questions:

1.) What does your happy place look like?
2.) Which book that you own has your favorite packaging/cover design?
3.)If you were to write a short story right now, what would it be about?
4.) What was the last song you listened to?
5.) What's the first memory that comes to mind when you try to think of a memory? Describe it.
6.)What's your favorite quote from a book?
7.) What films inspire you most?
8.) What was the last dream you can remember about?
9.) Describe a change in perspective you've had in the last year.
10.) Who is someone you would love to have a conversation with?
11.) What's your personal philosophy?

If you answer these questions comment with a link to your post! I'd love to hear your answers.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Hi you guys! As of tomorrow at 3:10, it is officially spring break! *WOOOO* I'm leaving for Spain tomorrow night, where I'll be visiting Toledo, Seville, Barcelona, Madrid, and  Cordoba! Alas, I'm not bringing my laptop and will have spotty internet, so I'll be on a 10-day hiatus. Try not to cry too hard. I'll have so many pictures and videos to post when I get back, though, so tune in for those! And please no one spoil the next two Hannibal episodes for me, those will be the first things I attend to when I get back.

What are you guys doing this spring? Traveling, staying at home, reading? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1.) I just had to steal the above picture from Tumblr because it provides me with endless amounts of amusement for some reason and it's also basically my attitude right now.

2.)SPAIN IN T- 4 DAYS!!! I'm incredibly excited, and yet at the same time it all feels so surreal. I mean I signed up for this trip last year and it's here already, which makes me stop and realize how fast time really does fly by: I'm almost at the end of my sophomore year of high school. I just want to pause for a second! Back to Spain though, I've never been out of the country before, so I have ideas of what it will all be like but I really have no way of knowing. It's incredibly myopic, but I really just see the whole world as a variation on America, which just shows how much I need to travel. This will kick off a string of adventures: In June I'm going to Iceland and in July I'm going to France! I bought a new camera for Spain so I'll be taking lots of pictures and making little vlogs and short videos, which is a hobby I'm fast becoming addicted to. Heads up, I won't be posting when I'm in Spain, which will be the 18-27, I apologize, but I'll have lots of goodies to put up when I get back!

3.) Postmodern Jukebox on Youtube is killin' it. Almost all of their covers are ten times better than the original versions. I wish I could go see their tour that they're doing in Europe this summer- I would start crying joyful tears in the middle of the performance. So if you're in Europe this June, go see them for me ok? ok. *Sorry for the accidental TFIOS reference...*

I want to be able to play the sax like that....

Bringing back memories of my times in Fiddler on the Roof pit orchestra.

4.) Speaking of Youtube *drum rolllllllllll* I started up my Youtube channel again! I'm making pretty dumb little short videos right now, not really about anything, but I'm focusing on wrangling my Movie Maker program and etc. video tools. That's where my Spain videos will be in a couple weeks time, though, so you should subscribe!

5.)I swear I'll start talking about bookish things in a second, but did you know Sir Anthony Hopkins wrote a waltz fifty years ago? It's uber gorgeous and he'd never had it played because he was too afraid to hear it, but they finally played it for him and it's wonderful.

Nope sorry wait.
Okay so I just need to share this because I had one of those magical moments that make you believe in fate the other day. So #1- I love Wes Anderson films. And one of the things I love most about Wes Anderson films is Jason Schwartzman. In fact, he's one of my favorite actors. He's like some dopey puppy and he has to take two steps for every one anyone else takes. #2- I love Coconut Records, and I've been listening to them for quite awhile now. And what I found out is that JASON SCHWARTZMAN IS COCONUT RECORDS. After which I provided to roll into a ball and squeal like a piglet for a few hours. I'm still recovering. 

7.) I got this great sketchbook for Christmas that has like 300 pages and is a japanese print on the front, and recently I've decided to convert it into a sort of mixed-media diary: I write down my thoughts, dreams, writing ideas, I make collages of poems I like, and yes, I still draw. It's nice having a place to deposit everything your brain comes up with free of judgement.

8.) I'm reading Candide by Voltaire in the original French and I'm loving it so far. Granted, it's slow going because, well, I've only had four years of French, but as long as I stay focused it's very enjoyable to read and I understand a lot more than I thought I would. And Voltaire Is So Sassy. I mean, probably half of all the sarcasm and witty commentary goes over my head and yet I find myself cracking up in the middle of study hall with my Pocket LaRousse on my lap. I'd like to read an English translation after I finish this, just so I can appreciate the text more and see what I missed, but this is turning out to be a great learning experience.

9.) I just started Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, more because I feel the obligation to read at least one work of Dickens than anything else, but it seems interesting so far. I'm not so crazy about his writing style, but the way he describes people is very powerful.

10.) Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's was last week, and seeing as Ben and Jerry's is about seven doors down from my school it was the event of the season. I think I went four times (our teachers take us in our classes, we go at lunch, and after school too. It's kind of a big deal.) However, I found myself very mildly outraged by the fact that the mint chocolate chunk I ordered was in fact, get this, not radioactive green. It was white. I sort of scowled at it until it knew I disapproved and then continued on to eat it because it was still delicious (and free) ice cream. But it left a feeling of wrongness in my heart, a wrongness that can only be righted by a good helping of neon mint ice cream. I will let you know my progress on acquiring some.

**11** This is more of a question, but I'd like to know your opinions on the matter. I was thinking of starting my own weekly meme, something like Inspired Fridays, where you post an original creation: a short film, a photo, a piece of art, or a piece of writing, something like that. I feel like it would be encouraging for creating more frequently, plus I'd love to see what original work the blogs I follow create. Would you be interested in participating/do you think this is a good idea? Comment below!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Morning Pancakes

This past week has been crazy hectic as I've been trying to get everything in order for Spain, so I haven't had time to review anything :'( . But I bought a new camera yesterday, a Canon SX500, and I loooooooove it! This morning I thought I would try out the video function on it, and it's not super but it's good enough for what I need. So here have a video of making pancakes. And you should subscribe to my channel here!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Adventures in the Outernet Chapter One: The Ocean

I decided to make do a Youtube channel! I actually made one a couple of months ago but didn't really put anything on it, so I'm starting it up again. My first video is pretty dumb but I'm forcing myself to start somewhere. Although I am really annoyed because Youtube ruined the video quality and put this weird black border that pops in and out, so if anyone knows how to fix that you should comment :) Anyways, I hope that you'll subscribe! I'm not 100% sure what my channel will be yet, I'm thinking short vlogs and reviews, but we'll see! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Brunelleschi's Dome" by Ross King Review

"By all accounts, Filippo Brunelleschi, goldsmith and clockmaker, was an unkempt, cantankerous, and suspicious man-even by the generous standards according to which artists were judged in fifteenth-century Florence. He also designed and erected a dome over the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore-a feat of architectural daring that we continue to marvel at today-thus securing himself a place among the most formidable geniuses of the Renaissance. At first denounced as a madman, Brunelleschi literally reinvented the field of architecture amid plagues, wars, and political feuds to raise seventy million pounds of metal, wood, and marble hundreds of feet in the air. Ross King's captivating narrative brings to life the personalities and intrigue surrounding the twenty-eight-year-long construction of the dome, opening a window onto Florentine life during one of history's most fascinating eras."
-Goodreads summary

Ross King tells the story of the Duomo di Santa Maria Del Fiore and Brunelleschi as just that: a story. Which is why this book was so much fun to read. It really speaks to Ross King's skill as a writer that he can make concepts like dome fortifications and pulley systems interesting to read, and that he presents his information in a both entertaining and educational way. Not too many history books I've come across have focused on such a specific topic as this one did,and yet what seemed at first glance as a pretty isolated idea ended up connecting to many things in the end, and enriched my knowledge of Italian history and culture across the board. The way King wrote about Brunelleschi presented him as a character, and not just a historical figure. I found myself giggling whilst reading the accounts of Brunelleschi exchanging insulting sonnets with his enemies and playing cruel mind tricks on them. I wish people still messed with each other like that instead of tweeting and posts. Feuds would be much more amusing.

Brunelleschi's Dome is a short and informational read, and by no means did I have to force myself to get through it. If you're interested in Renaissance/ Middle Ages Italy and architecture, definitely pick this book up!

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