Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Christmas Tea

During the weekend before finals, my best friend Elena and I decided to do what the British do when times are difficult ... drink tea, of course! Last year at this time, Elena and I treated ourselves to an end-of-the semester tea party at a tea room in Ellicot City, Maryland - which, by the way, is a lovely place to visit during the Christmas season! [Ellicot city is a historical little mill town which has retained much of its whimsical, old-city charm. It is a gold-mine for antique lovers and a hidden gem for fantasy-creature fanatics. There is a three story shop in the city center filled with supplies for aspiring fairies, including sequined wings, dainty wands, glittery pixie dust, etc. All of the shops on main street have a store-front window-decorating competition each Christmas. During our visit there last December, we even had the pleasure of passing a group of carolers singing sweetly on the sidewalk].

That being said, Elena and I were a little low on funds this year since we are saving to study in England this winter! As a result, we decided to take the more cost-effective (and more creative) option of hosting our own tea party on campus. We sent out invitations to our friends and invited them stop by our room for some tea and snacks as a break from (or an opportunity to procrastinate - ha!) studying.

Our menu included two types of mini-scones from Wegman's: cranberry-orange and pumpkin walnut. We also served some Almond Spekulatius cookies, assorted chocolates, candy-canes, orange slices, almonds and craisins. Our tea menu was another story altogether since we always keep a supply of various blends and flavors. The favorite tea among our friends was Celestial Seasonings "Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Tea" a festive blend of roasted barley, orange peel and vanilla bean. It gives off a comforting, savory scent of sugar cookies fresh from the oven.

Our tea party was a definite success and though our focus for the gathering was food and hot tea, the best part was having the opportunity to sit and talk with friends before the end of the semester - and the end of our time in the U.S.!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Harvest Tea

Wish I could be sipping tea out of this cozy kettle as I am currently cramming for my Philosophy Exam -- Thanksgiving vacation in 2 days!

Our Felt Sources - The Crafts Dept.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Delicious Autumn"

I haven't much time to write these days, but I thought I would at least post some photos of my trip home to Massachusetts during October. I had a short break from classes so I decided to fly up north to spend time with family and experience a taste of New England in the fall! These are some pictures from Cambridge, MA on the day of the famed, "Head of the Charles Regatta" (an international crew competition on the Charles River). The delicious looking pastry in the top picture is a pumpkin scone from Starbucks lightly glazed (I know, thats an understatement - its practically covered!) icing!

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
— George Eliot

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back to class.

After spending three bittersweet months in Massachusetts, I have now returned to Pennsylvania for my junior year of college. This semester I will be living with three other friends in a "quad" dorm room. Our room is really large! As you can see, we bunked all four beds and pushed them up against the walls to create lots of floor space. By the way, my courses for this semester include...

Composition, Theory and Pedagogy
(English)Medieval Renaissance Drama
Educational Psychology
Problems in Philosophy
Introduction to Theology

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Where the mountains meet the sea"

One of my end-of-summer adventures included a camping trip to Maine with my parents, sisters, brother-in-laws and close college friend, Elena (my cousin Tristan joined us for a portion of the trip as well!) We camped along the coast of Casco Bay at our favorite campground, Recompense Shores. Recompense Shores is located in Freeport, Maine on an organic beef farm (Wolfe's Neck Farm). Fortunately the cow pasture was far enough away from our own campsite for us to smell the cows in our sleep! However, it was neat to visit the animals when we were closer to the barn - other than cows, Wolfe's Neck is home to chickens, roosters, goats, sheep, turkeys, rabbits and more! (

One of the highlights of our stay in Maine was a visit we made to the town of Camden, which is home to Mount Battie. We drove our cars up to the top of the mountain so that we could soak in the breath-taking view of the Maine landscape provided from its peak. Above is a picture of Camden harbor (Penebscot Bay) as seen from the top of the mountain.

Another trip highlight was my visit to Bath, ME with my parents and Elena. On the final morning of our stay, my parents took Elena and I out to breakfast at a very quirky little cafe in Bath called the Twilight Cafe. Elena, a blueberry muffin lover, ordered a blueberry muffin served grilled! I, of course, ordered a scone! In addition to finding a great place to eat in Bath, we also came upon some interesting antique bookstores. My mom discovered a copy of the "Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay," our favorite Maine poet! A portion of her beautiful poem, Renascence is printed on a plaque which stands on the top of Mt. Battie.

Here is the first stanza of Renascence written on the plaque:

"All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood."

Camden, ME is often referred to as the city "where the mountains meet the sea," - a reference made to Renascence!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I recently discovered this website called Kaboodle where you can browse alot of your favorite products and clothing items! Kaboodle has a special "styleboard" function which site-members can use to creatively arrange pictures of items they like on a virtual display board. Here is one I created based around the theme of "organic" and "eco-friendly" items. In addition to the organic chai tea (a favorite tea flavor of mine!) the make-up brushes and cozy chair are also made of organic materials. I am submitting a few of these styleboards in a contest to win a gift certificate to one of my favorite online clothing companies, Modcloth (

Life on the...
Life on the... by jennamae12

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shakespeare on the Common

Last weekend, my parents and I drove into the city to see Shakespeare's Othello performed on the Boston Common. It was a lovely summer, Sunday evening - perfect weather for an outdoor play. Before the show began, we plopped our lawn chairs on an open patch of grass where we could see the stage and dined (actually, "supped" sounds more Shakespearean), on ham sandwiches and cantaloupe.

The show was entertaining, though I wasn't quite in the mood for such a gruesome production (unlike his comedies, I find Shakespeare's tragedies sometimes easier to read than to see) The Boston common is a nonetheless a prime people-watching venue, and I found the sights and situations going on around me to be just as amusing, if not more amusing than the plot that was unfolding on stage!

Members of the play's audience varied greatly in race, gender and age. In front of me sat a group of asian adolescents, sprawled out on a blanket, playing cards. Near them were two European couples, apparently on a double date. On my left was a party of twenty-something twenty somethings, all of whom were females. They sat circled around a chocolate cake, nibbling and chatting cheerfully as they passed around endless tupper-ware containers of snacks to accompany their desert. A dark-skinned woman and a light-skinned man sat together on my right. How interesting, I thought, that they were witnessing another racially - mixed relationship on the stage.

It seems to me that live theatre truly is a "slice of life" experience; both the actors on the stage and the members of the audience can be involved in presenting a picture of everyday reality.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Choir

My parents and I are addicted to the BBC reality TV show, "The Choir." It was filmed a few years ago in the UK and is now being broad casted on BBC America. We don't actually get BBC America as part of our cable package, but fortunately we do have Comcast OnDemand which allows us to watch new episodes a day after they are released. If you've ever sung in a choir, as I have for many years, you will really be able to relate to the show's singers and sole "choirmaster," Gareth Malone.

You've Got a Friend In Me

Last Friday evening, July 23rd, a group of my friends from high school and I had our annual summer costume party. This year the theme of our costume party was Toy Story, and all of us came dressed as different characters from the popular Toy Story animated films. Pictured above are all the party guests in my living room. I am the one crouching on the floor dressed as the character Buzz Light-Year (although in this photo, my ensemble resembles that of Luke Skywalker!) In past summers, we have had party-themes based around the Harry Potter and High School Musical films. My friends and I may be getting a little old to continue this tradition of impersonating kids' movie characters, but we simply get too much enjoyment from all the creativity involved!

Monday, July 19, 2010

One-Lump-Or-Two Lamp

I couldn't help but share a photo of this clever lamp from Anthropolgie, a store with an eclectic collection of home decor and clothing! If it wasn't $198.00, I would totally purchase this lamp for my dorm room as an expression of my love for tea cups!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dad's Birthday Celebration

Here are a few pictures from my Dad's birthday celebration on July 13th! My mom and I made him a spice cake topped with frosting and toasted walnuts. As you can see from the photos, he also added French Vanilla ice-cream, caramel sauce and fresh raspberries on top of his special desert! I also blew up a few balloons (no one is ever too old for balloons and birthday cake!) on which I drew a sketch of his face. Currently my Dad DOES NOT have a mustache, but he has had one for many years in the past which is why I had to incorporate it into my "Rick balloon cartoon." Bon anniversaire mon pere! Je t'aime!

Retro Video

Check out the outfits in this music video for Brooke White and Summer Bellessa's song, "I am A Girl." Very retro chic - I'm loving the red lipstick trend!

I Am A Girl - The Girls With Glasses Theme Song from The Girls With Glasses on Vimeo.

Summer Employment

This is for anyone who is wondering what I've been doing for the summer months away from college (and for the organization CUSP, in case they need a little P.R.!)

This summer I am working for the Center for University, School and Community Partnerships, also known as CUSP. The mission of CUSP is precisely what the title implies - the people at the center partner which the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Education, Public Policy and Civic Engagement to provide professional development and licensure opportunities to educators in south coast school districts. CUSP is run primarily by retired teachers and administrators from Southeastern Massachusetts. My boss, Karen O'Connor, a former kindergarten teacher, applies for grants to fund PD and licensure programs at CUSP.

My duties at CUSP are mostly clerical - I help answer phones, make photo-copies, sort the mail, set up for classes, events and conferences, take pictures and occasionally I get to do some research for my boss. Right now I am researching post-graduate ESL programs as models for a potential ESL program at CUSP.

If you're wondering how on earth did I land that job? - well, let's just say, I have a very gracious older sister who put in a good word for me while she did her graduate assistantship at CUSP last year! I am really blessed to have this job since (a) I get to work 40 hours a week! and (b) its an opportunity for me to work among experienced teachers (my goal has been to pursue a teaching license after college!)

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 1- 4th

Independence-Day weekend is a time of the year which I anticipate during all other seasons! For me, the weekend festivities begin July 1st, my birthday. This year, as we entered the month of July, I officially exited my "teenage years." Thank God, I am finally 20!

My birthday celebration on Thursday, July 1st, was probably not too exciting by most people's standards, but nonetheless enjoyable. My parents and I rung in my 20th year with a batch of purple-frosted cupcakes and chocolate-chip cookie dough ice-cream (my favorite ice-cream flavor - shamefully, I rarely eat any other kind!) I had fun opening gifts from family and friends. Among the gifts I was given was my very own DVD copy of "The Young Victoria," Sonya Kashuk make-up brushes and a graphic t-shirt from my sister Meredith that reads, "I LOVE British Boys" (truly, that t-shirt could not be more fitting - no pun intended).

On Saturday, July 3rd, we continued my birthday celebration by eating breakfast at a quirky restaurant in Providence called the "Liberty Elm Diner." I ordered a plateful of their famed Johnny cakes, which are essentially pancakes made from cornmeal and water and covered of course, in thick maple syrup. My Johnny cakes were topped with a miniature umbrella - similar to the parasol we poked into my birthday cupcake (pictured above). At the diner, we were accompanied by Philip and Anh Sawyer, relatives from my mother's side. Philip and Anh took us to their loft apartment after the meal for a tour of their home/fashion studio. Philip is a clothing designer and he and his wife are directors of a ministry for artists in the Providence area.

Later Saturday evening I joined my two closest Middleboro friends, Laura and Danielle for our annual trip to Marion, Ma to see their fireworks display. We got there a couple hours early and hung out on the beach until the fireworks began. You can see a picture of the three of us above with our oh-so fabulous glasses!

By Sunday, July 4th - the nation's official birthday, my parents and I hadn't much energy to do any more celebrating. My Dad and I drove to Duxbury beach in the early evening to take a relaxing stroll along the water. We ended the evening by toasting marshmallows over a fire in the backyard and by watching the annual Boston POPs!
concert on TV.

Below are two links: one for the "Liberty Elm Diner," and one for Philip Sawyer's clothing design website!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

More Clothes!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Watercolor Weekend

This weekend my parents left me at home and drove to down to PA to help Meredith and Kyle move into their new home. Instead of throwing a crazy house party as some young twenty-somethings might do, my weekend plans were a little more mild (though in my opinion, alot more fun!)

On Friday I had dinner with my childhood friend Laura Fusco and her sister Lisa at Mamma Mia's Italian restaurant (yum!). Laura slept over my house afterwards so I didn't have to spend the night alone - thanks girl! The following morning we slept in, made ourselves breakfast and watched the recent BBC film, An Education. After that we threw on our swimsuits, packed the car with sunscreen and towels and left the house in pursuit of a beach! We drove to Duxbury beach but never ended up parking and pitching a spot in the sand - it was far too crowded on a sunny Saturday afternoon! Nonetheless, we had a fun day driving around, drinking Marylou's delicious iced coffee and picking up some snacks at Trader Joe's grocery store. We took a stroll around downtown Plymouth and eventually returned to Laura's house where we sat on her pool deck and caught the last few rays of sun before it disappeared for the evening.

Sunday was the normal routine: I went to church in the morning, sang with the choir and then returned home around noontime. I spent most of the afternoon playing with my watercolor set. This week I was inspired by the work of artist Caitlin McGauley, to make some watercolor creations of my own! Here are a few of my 'creations'...

Here's a youtube clip featuring the artist who inspired me for this weekend...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Collage Clothing Line

In a perfect world in which college tuition wasn't ridiculously expensive and art school wasn't so time-consuming, I probably would be pursuing a degree in fashion illustration. Although I enjoy studying English literature at my liberal arts college, I often find that I can never escape my love of color, texture and design - and above all, CLOTHES! Here are some fashions I put together from magazine clippings - a sort of collage clothing-line.

Getting Geared up for Oxford!

As some of you may have heard, I am making plans to study abroad during the Spring 2011 Semester. My goal is to spend a semester steeped in studies of English literature at the romantic, yet rigorous Oxford University! When I am ever bored, I can't help but watch these interesting video-clip testimonials from current Oxford students...

The Wall of 100 Faces - University of Oxford

There is no guarantee yet that I will be accepted into the Oxford Study Abroad Programme as I have not yet completed and submitted the application. If not Oxford, I tell my friends, then I will do my best to at least study somewhere outside the country! I think study abroad programs are an awesome opportunity for students to experience other academic communities outside their own and to experience a different educational system (I really admire Oxford's tutorial system of education in which students receive individualized instruction from tutors and then spend most of their time studying and researching on their own - that would be well-suited to my own independent study-habits!). And study abroad is of course great for the sake of experiencing other cultural climates - a semester abroad sounds like a truly enriching opportunity!

Irish Tea

I just HAD to include these photos of the tea and scones I ate while in Ireland this past May! I think tea and scones are my absolute favorite snack. In Ireland, the scones are more biscuit-like than other scones I've tasted which are more like cookies in their texture and taste. Irish scones in comparison contain much less sugar - a dollop of jam and clotted cream adds the right amount of sweetness to them!

Kyle and Meredith's Wedding

Just three days after my return from Ireland in May,I got to watch my older sister Meredith tie the knot with her fiancé Kyle! After flying into JFK airport on May 27th, my parents picked me up in NYC and drove me to Philadelphia to assist Meredith with her wedding preparations. The three days leading up to the wedding (May 30th) were undoubtedly chaotic. As Meredith was finishing up her final days at work, I was sitting on her living room couch writing out place cards for the reception and trying to recover from a nasty cold so I could sing a solo at the ceremony! When Saturday came, my mom, Christie (Meredith's roommate), Katie (my other older sister!)and I were out and about getting manicures and pedicures and prepping for the rehearsal dinner.

Then Sunday, a.k.a. "The Big Day" finally came! Meredith's former employer, Elaine, whose daughter Meredith babysat while in college, was kind enough to lend her house to us as a getting-ready venue. Elaine and her daughter Hailey decorated the house with all sorts of special decorations including a purple and white balloon arch over the front door and purple and white flowers planted in their back yard. As the bridesmaids and mothers got ready for the wedding, we munched on fruit and french toast and sipped delicious mimosas! Kyle's sister Melissa invited her personal hair dresser up from New Jersey to do hair and make-up for Meredith and some other bridesmaids, and while I opted to take care of my own thick and unruly mane, they did a highly professional job for everyone else! Meredith's hair and makeup looked amazing and when we helped her into her elegant white dress, she truly was a stunning bride!

Meanwhile - enough about the pre-wedding festivities! On to the wedding itself (although it seems to me that the getting-ready part of any occasion is always as fun, if not more fun than the occasion itself!). The ceremony went smoothly and the pastor who married M and K did a great job of keeping things under control and guiding them through their vows. The flowers looked amazing, thanks to Auntie Ellen and the florist friends from her church! We took some great pics with the photographer outside the church afterward and then Kyle and Meredith drove away from the ceremony in a bright red vintage mustang. It was great to be in the presence of so many family members and friends at the reception and I had alot of fun dancing the night away with cousin Nora and my sisters!

Speaking of the Queen...

A photo of Killarney National Park, Killarney Ireland, Co. Kerry

The Muckross House at Killarney National Park

This past May I had the awesome opportunity to visit Ireland with the Messiah College Concert Choir. For ten days we toured the southern part of the country, visiting pubs and popular tourist locations by day, and then performing by night (though not every night, fortunately) - mostly in Catholic cathedrals. Among the places we visited was Killarney National Park. On the grounds of the park is the famous Muckross House (featured above) which was dedicated by its owners to the park for museum purposes. We were given a fascinating tour of the house by one of its tour guides (p.s. I LOVED hearing the tour guide's accent!). Throughout the tour, our guide kept pointing out decorative elements in the house etc. that were added by its owners in honor of Queen Victoria's visit to the house. Its earliest owners, Henry Arthur Herbert and Mary Balfour Herbert, spent 6 years preparing for the Queen's two-days stay at the Muckross House! Their goal was to score brownie points with the Queen when she came to visit them and they expected that she would compensate their warm hospitality by honoring them with the titles of Lord and Lady Herbert. However - her visit happened shortly before Prince Albert's young death at 42 and apparently the Queen was so devastated by his death that she completely forgot about the Herberts and never offered them the ranking of lordship. The tour guide said this lack of attention from the Queen probably led to the Herberts decline in finances and social standing - an unfortunate circumstance for them, but who can blame Queen Victoria? Prince Albert was an amazing husband and if he looked anything like Rupert Friend in real life, I'd also be grieved by his death! According to "The Young Victoria," Queen Victoria had Albert's clothes laid out every morning of her own life, after he died. She never could forget him I suppose!

A photo of me standing in the gardens surrounding the Muckcross House which included a variety of beautiful plants! The rhododendron bushes (pronounced "rhodeeedendron" by the Irish) were absolutely enormous!

The Young Victoria

Last weekend I watched "The Young Victoria" on Comcast OnDemand. Two words: GREAT MOVIE. The film is both historically accurate and aesthetically appealing. Furthermore, it is no cheap chick flick! Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend do justice to the genre of romance - although I suppose it is their characters, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who give love a good reputation! I never knew both Victoria and Albert were such strong individuals. The movie gave me a new respect for these historical figures!