With new colors comes new joys

My first successful carbonara! YAY!

The Carbonara Success & the Discover of Persimmon (4/11/13)

For the first time since I started trying to make my Italian flatmate’s carbonara, I finally succeeded. I think the ultimate problem was the fact that when she first made it, it was for two of us. However, whenever I made it, it was for one person so the egg didn’t cook properly. Today, I decided to cool two people’s serving of carbonara and it worked like a charm. Hurray! (On a side note: I decided to have some Irish stew from a can. It looked pretty amazing for canned soup.)

Look at the chunkiness in that generic (Tesco) canned (Irish stew) soup!!!!

On another note, I went to the gym today to work out with that awesome instructor. Originally, at the beginning of the workout program, there were at least 15-20 people attending his class for Monday afternoons. I’m not sure what happened, midterms or the fact that it’s reading week or something, but there were just 7 of us there today. It was a very, very sad turnout. It was still a good workout nonetheless.

Thinking about working out and all, I felt like I finally understood what my brother meant a few years back when he said “do things now, or else you’ll never do them.” I’m glad to have the opportunity to do the workout program and be motivated to workout that way, a class is incentive enough for me. This is so different than back home when I keep telling myself “I’ll get around to it” and never actually ‘getting around to it’. I’ve realized that’s what everything else in life is like too: cleaning my room, organizing my belongings, throwing out things I don’t need, writing, reading, reading random e-mails, etc.

After a good workout, my Italian flatmate went out for some late night shopping. It was grand! Since it as so late at night, I got a lot of things on sale and just froze them for when I need them. It was amazing, but I was so lucky to find a fruit cup with Sharon fruit (read: persimmon). I was SOOO excited that I had to buy it. It’s JUST the season and I totally forgot. I LOVE persimmons.

Top left: Fusarium patch (Microdochium nivale). Top right: common root rot (Bipolaris sorokiniana). Bottom: eyespot (Pseudocercosporella herpotrichoides).

Rots and Reading (6/11/13)

Today in plant disease, we were looking at the spores of root and foot rot fungi. It was pretty confusing which dye we were using to stain the spores with, as there were two dyes sitting around. Eventually I gave up trying to use both. Plus, I was the last to leave class because I was so bad at screening for things. Not only that, but I was having bad luck with my spore screening today. My Irish teacher friend and I usually sit close, if not next, to each other. She’s the type that scrapes samples until she can see it on her scalpel. I’m the opposite, trying to get as small of a sample as possible so I can see the spores clearly. This was the day my technique backfired. I rarely getting any samples today. Towards the end, I began to ask the demonstrator (read: grad student teaching assistants) to help me and/or prepare a slide for me so I can observe it.

Later on, in my fundamentals class – the class with four students in it – we began lecture a little late due to one of our random discussions about life again. Today, I’ve found that the general Irish population, the few that I have asked, seem to read for leisure much more than the Americans back home. My male classmates could easily ramble off the names of a few of their favorite authors to read and could tell you names of classic novels that have read/enjoyed. Of the people back home – at least among my closest friends – it seems like I’m the one that reads the most. I don’t even read that much, maybe a few books every summer (not to mention the fact that I only like short, paperback novels that are 400-500 pages maximum). What a sad existence I come from (no offense to my lovely friends back home, but some of you REALLY should read for leisure every so often).

Beer and Biscuits (7/11/13)

Tonight, my Italian flatmate wanted to go out to town, so I joined her. I felt a little awkward going to the pub dressed up with my dress shirt underneath my sweater. I felt so over-dressed and somewhat like a schoolgirl with that outfit on and a nice, single plaid laid down my left side (something that I seem to have become accustomed to sporting here). We ended up at the Porter House for the night, which happened to be right across from Turk’s Head where I was a week and a day earlier. It was great craic. They had a live band playing music there and the people were having so much fun drinking and dancing. It wasn’t anything noisy, hot and offensive like the bars at home. Instead, the pub was light, friendly and welcoming. Even though I didn’t join in the fun, it was still wonderful to sit there and watch and soak up the atmosphere. Not to mention, the pub had a plethora of beers to choose from. Originally, my flatmate had a Porter Red. It was too bitter for me to even sip. Luckily, she wanted another afterwards and I got to share a little of a raspberry beer; it came in a cute wine-glass looking thing.

Then, we took a short walk from city centre to the canal/river. Along the way, we passed by some pubs we had been suggested to go to by our Irish flatmate. The one that really caught my eye – and maybe hers too – was the Café en Seine. Usually, at home, if people recommend a place with alcohol, I would never take their word for it because it just wouldn’t be my scene. However, I peeked into this place, and as my Irish flatmate had said, ‘It has good atmosphere.’ I had a feeling I could trust her word, but I wasn’t really sure how to take it, since I’ve never really been to a pub with her, so I don’t know what she’d consider a ‘good’ place. But one peek inside, and I knew she was my type of gal. The place was gorgeously vintage looking and absolutely grand-looking. I’d feel underdressed walking into a place like that, even though it was just a pub in town.

After we got home, my Italian flatemate introduced me to the magical world of Pan di Stelle. They’re these Italian hazelnut biscuits she had brought back to Ireland for me to try. They were AMAZING. I wish I had them back in America. They weren’t too sweet like cookies generally would be, but they weren’t too bland either. At the same time, you could taste the kick of cocoa and the hint of hazelnut. AMAZING! I’m hoping to try and bake them at home, with this recipe I found, once I come home for the holidays. The strangest/most awesome thing though, was that my Italian flatmate said sometimes they just had those biscuits for breakfast. JUST Pan di Stelle (probably with coffee…but still!).

Ah! The beautiful colors of a REAL autumn!

A Splash of Autumn (8/11/13)

It was like a painter had transformed the place overnight. Okay, yeah, the leaves have been yellowing, the weather’s not usually great. Whatever. But I have to say – today was the day autumn arrive (at least for me). I was reminded – finally – that I’m not in California, I’m in a beautiful place where leaves change colors! I walked out of my apartment today, saying ‘Oh, it’s a lovely and sunny day.’ Then, I step into the courtyard before the gates, and I see the sun shining on this beautifully golden tree with half of its still hanging on for dear life. I LOVE IT!

My Second Pair of Boots EVER! (9/11/13)

After a day of studying and being busy all day, I decided to take a shopping trip up to the Blanchardstown Centre. I was so excited to go to TK Maxx and go shopping for some boots, since I’d need them during my class field trip tomorrow. I search for hours upon end, trying on a countless number of different boots. I ended up falling in love with these cute, fuzzy boots that came out to about $80 and were fully ‘weatherproof’. It was grand! Not to mention the fact that I picked up a potato masher for my Italian flatmate because she needed one, as she loves to make mash(ed potatoes) A LOT.

The sad part was, I went up to the shopping centre too late in the day and spent too much time in TK Maxx that I didn’t get to go into the indoor part of the shopping centre and enjoy some lovely Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.

The mound that is the main Loughcrew Passage Tomb.

A Tomb, a Monastery, and a Movie (10/11/13)

This was the day of the second and last field trip for my discovering Irish landscapes class. Our first stop was up on a high hill at the Loughcrew Passage Tombs. It’s interesting seeing that there were two different types of tombs built by the people who lives here ages ago, the portal tomb style (the tomb we visited on our first trip). Okay, it was a pretty pile of rocks. Instead, the typical me that I am, I was absorbed in by the different textures of green on the ground. Next thing I knew, I was taking pictures – LOTS OF PICTURES – of mosses and bryophytes (don’t ask…it’s one of those botanic things I’d rather not explain). Odd thing is, this carried on to the next location in Fore.

The Fore Priory from a distance.

In Fore, we first stopped at St. Feichin’s church, settled on a hill next to the road. Then, we went across the road to two ‘holy wells’, Tobernacogany and Doaghfeighin. They were once watering holes with a tree next to it. Over the years, they apparently transformed into a sacred location where people hang up random things on the branches of the tree for good luck. There were a great many interesting things on those branches and scattered on the ground around it. I took a picture of some of these artifacts at Tobernacogany, which is now just a branch from the long-gone tree. After passing Doaghfeighin, we arrived at the Fore Priory, essentially a monastery. The professor told us about how the monastery’s rooms were divided, and how every monastery runs like clockwork and other things. I didn’t really care for such details, what interested me was when the group had split up and some of us took walk up to the “pigeon coop” where they kept the birds. In these holes, and around them were…guess what…PLANTS! There were more little fuzzy green things – not mold – for me to take pictures of, and also some extremely simple – not fancy – looking ferns.

After a long day, I came back home to a painful reminder of something I’ve been trying to put behind me. I didn’t feel too good. Thankfully, I have wonderful friends to cheer me up. My Brazilian friend was kind enough to come over for a visit to give me a nice, long hug and try to put a smile on my face. My lovely Italian flatmate was patient enough to listen to me complain about this problem for the one billionth time. Then, both were wonderful enough to stay with me in the living room to watch When Harry Met Sally and have popcorn. It was my first time watching it. It was a grand way to end the evening.

Thing I learned “today”

My brother was right: If you make a goal, start NOW. Not later. If you say ‘later’, it will forever remain ‘later’ (maybe until you run out of things to do – which is very, very rare). We’re natural procrastinators.

Words/Phrase of the Day

  • Marks – grade/points
  • Hoover – vacuum

More Pictures from the Field Trip

A collage of the mosses and bryophytes I was ever so fascinated by.
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