A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

A Wonderful White Washington Christmas December 29, 2008

It definitely was a white Christmas this year in Washington. The first snowfall was beautiful as I curled up on the couch with a steaming hot cup of tea, reading a book and watching snowflakes fall from the sky covering the ground like a soft down blanket.  And, you would think that as the snow continued to fall, leaving me snowed in at my brother’s house for over a week I would have had ample time to write on my blog, but what can I say….my nephew is a great distraction!

So, to catch you up with how life back in the States here is just a snapshot of favorite moments over this past week:

–Catching up with all of my childhood neighborhood friends at the Davenport Neighborhood Christmas Party my brother hosted at his house. He even creatively decorated the front entrance with old High School year books and Davenport memorabilia, it was quite the night!

–Bonding with my brother Mark’s girlfriend Lindy (of all names!) and discovering in our drunken state that

Cindy + Lindy no Whiskey= Vodka

Needless to say, we (and especially me) had quite the hangover the following morning.

–Reuniting with Suzanne, a.k.a. Sister Zesma, after 2 months of separation!

–Jordan and Cliff’s delicious home cooked dinners paired with soothing Jazz music

–Mark and Cliff re-teaching me how to properly snap a kitchen towel. Gotta love big bros!

–Spending the night at my friend Marie’s house during a winter storm. We cozied up with drinks inside as the snow fell listening to Steve, Brian and JB play music and around midnight we all piled on our snow gear and did penguin dives down the city street hills, socialized with people sledding, played a game of football in the park, made snow angels and constructed a  jungle gym obstacle course.

–Watching the Seahawks game at the Schrecks and learning how to play Apples to Apples, one of the funnest board games out on the market right now!

–The whole Swain Gang driving back to Davenport listening to Christmas music–my brother Mark and I sitting in the back seat entertaining Thomas with goofy faces, books, and cheerios.

–Walking through the front door of my parents house for the first time in over 10 months. They had redecorated many of the rooms, so although the house look different, it still invoked in me that same sense and feelings of “home”.

–Seeing Thomas in his adorable little suit and tie for Christmas church service

–Opening presents with the fam and watching their faces light up with smiles when they opened my gifts

–Spending Christmas day with the Rambos, Olsons and Hergerts–my second family.

–Driving back to Seattle with my good friend Micheal and catching up on the past 10 months

–Making incredible memories at the Annual Christmas Party! About 20 of us get together each year, cook up a Christmas dinner feast, play a white elephant gift exchange and go crazy until the early rays of the morning sun peak it’s way into the windows of the house. This is an event that I look forward to all year, knowing that for one night all of my closest friends who are now spread out all over the U.S. are together for one night of new memories and laughter. Although we may not see each other as frequently as we use to, in the first greeting and hug–we are back to where we left off  like nothing has changed. Good friends are hard to come by and I feel truly blessed to this group of intellectual, funny and amazing people in my life!

–Hanging out at the Shay’s house after the Christmas party. It’s so great to relax in comfort of good friends.


Auntie Cindy December 23, 2008

Filed under: Daily Life,Random — italicana kitchen @ 6:56 am
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Auntie Cindy and Nephew Thomas

There is something remarkable about being an Auntie. You get cuddly hugs, adorable smiles and goodnight kisses but get to skip the lack of sleep, mounds of laundry, the unavoidable yet plentiful poopy diapers and the 18+ years of monetary support.  Being an auntie is as close as you can come to becoming a mother without the obligation and committment or the hours of painful labor and nine long months without a glass of wine–which, in my opinion is  worse than the actual labor itself!

Although you can never match the bond that is shared between mother and child, as an aunt you still get the overwhelming sense of happiness watching your surrogate child grow and learn new things. Also, as an auntie you develop that sense of ownership and protectiveness that comes with being family.  I can pick up my nephew without asking permission, spoil him rotten when his parents are gone and smack talk anyone who doesn’t think he is just the CUTEST and most ADORABLE little boy in the WORLD—because, yes he is!

And, at the end of the day when Little Thomas gets tired…a little grumpy…and starts wining… I get to give my adorable nephew back to his parents and head out for dinner or drinks with friends. Love yet freedom…now that is one of the best joys of being an auntie!


Back in the U.S.A December 14, 2008

It was exactly 10 months from today that I boarded a plane for New Zealand. I left my family. I left my boyfriend. I left my friends. I left beautiful Seattle…my home. I challenged myself to take a risk, to be independent, to follow a dream of exploring the world and experiencing culture while it still exists.

I returned to Seattle three days ago with 50 some gigs of photos and experiences that have changed my life. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better trip, better travel companions or better memories while traveling the world.

And, now after 10 months…I am back where I started. I am sitting on a comfy couch in my brother’s warm living room writing on my laptop while the rest of my family (minus my brother Mark who is coming on Monday) sits next to me reading the newspaper or watching t.v. It is as though nothing has changed, everything seems the same. If it weren’t for me being curled up in my blue and green Tibetan shawl I bought in India, I may think that my around the world trip was just a figment of my imagination. But this soft blanket reminds me of all that I have experienced, all that I have DONE in the past 10 months. And, for this I smile.

It was hard to take the plunge and to leave my family, boyfriend, friends and my comfortable life in Seattle. My life was incredible before I left–why would I leave? One word: dreams. Everyone has different dreams and goals. Some people dream of becoming a professional basketball player, while others dream of being the best stay at home mom. There is no wrong dream, it is yours and it is what makes you get up in the morning with a smile on your face and butterflies in your stomach as you quest to fulfill them.

One of my dreams was to travel the world. Ten months ago I was 25, two years into my career but with no car payments, house payments or kids. I was free from the materialistic burdens that tie a person to one place. Besides leaving the people I loved, it was good timing and if I didn’t leave then, I knew I never would.

Now I sit here on the same couch I sat 10 months ago, only this time my body is warmly wrapped in a Tibetan shawl, my head is filled with incredible travel memories and my heart is content that I fulfilled one of my internal passions. I missed many people and things while I was gone, but they were here waiting for me when I got back.

Don’t be afraid to leave the comfort of your home.

Home, is a place you can always return.


Daily Challenge: Get in the Christmas Spirit! December 5, 2008

Filed under: Daily Challenge — italicana kitchen @ 11:52 am
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Christmas comes only once a year, so why not enjoy everyday soaking up all of the fun festivities that envelope this holiday! Today is the 5th…you have 20 days left! Get a piece of paper and write out the next 20 days, and be sure to do something Christmas-y on each day! Whether it be something little…like listening to Christmas music in the car, or big like going to a Christmas play!


Another Vocab blunder…. December 4, 2008

Filed under: Italian Life,living abroad,Random — italicana kitchen @ 11:16 am
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I went to the gym the other day with a friend. After we both finished our weight work out we had a short conversation about what we were going to do next…

Z: “Facciamo la addome insieme.” (Let’s do abs together)

I heard “dorme” instead of “addome” and my response was as followed:

C: “Certo dormiamo insieme.” (Let’s go to bed together)

Hah! You should have seen his face. Ohhhh, it’s so fun(ny) to learn a new language!


1 Week Countdown!

One week from today I will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean and returning home to Seattle after 10 months of globetrotting the world!  This past 10 months has been an experience of a lifetime but there has been many people and things I have missed dearly while being away:

1. My adorable nephew Thomas who was born 2 weeks after I left on my trip and whom I still haven’t met. One week Little Thomas and I will be holding you in my arms! I love you!!!

Thomas smiling

2. My family: Dad, Mom, Cliff, Jordan and Mark…a.k.a. The Swain Gang. I am SO SO SO SO SO excited to see you all. Thank each of you for every smile you bring to my face when I think about you.

3. My second family: Rambos, Olsons, and Hergerts–I can’t wait to see you all over Christmas! Terra, Kayla, Josh and Kyle…I probably won’t even recognize you kids because you will be taller and bigger than me by now!

4. Friends: To all my wonderful, amazing friends…I have missed you all and am ecstatic to catch up with each of you when I am home!!!

5. My former co-workers: I miss the cube talks, energetic environment and your creative minds. It will be wonderful to see you all again!

6. Morning talks with my Dad

7.  Family Fun Nights

8.  My BBCB

9.  Little Thomas

Thomas having fun in a bag

10. Chicken quesadilla’s from Peso’s, chicken salad from Purple Cafe and Rojos salsa

11. My down comforter

12. The views of Lake Union and Mt. Rainier driving South from I5

13. My snowboard

14. My wakeboard

15. My MAC

16. Il mio nipote

    Thomas rockin' a hilarious face

17. Girls nights out

18. Boating on Lake Roosevelt, Lake Union and Lake Washington

19. My clothes, high heels, jewelry and jeans

20. Northwest microbrew beer

21. Sister Zesma

22. Watching the Seahawks in my Seahawk scrubs on a lazy Sunday afternoon

23. Beer Pong

24. My perfumes

25. Throwing dinner parties for friends

26. My blue-eyed munchkin

Thomas eating cheerios


A Little Laugh December 2, 2008

Filed under: Random — italicana kitchen @ 8:38 am
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Saturday night when we were walking the streets of Zurich, my friend called his friend to ask her a question. The phone rang and rang, and finally he got her voice mail. About two minutes later he received a text with this message:

“Sorry I couldn’t pick up the phone, I’m in the car driving…”