Easter

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope everyone has had a blessed day, and continued to pray for my Nonnie. I hear she’s doing much better already, so let’s keep it up!

I’m sad I couldn’t be with her this Sunday, and the rest of my beautiful family. This is the first major family holiday I have missed out on in my life. The Blancks, unlike some families, have a lot of major holidays. We also have a dozen or so annual extended-family traditions, and approximately 52 “reunions” (family dinner on Sunday). Of course, I’ve been missing Sunday dinner. I miss my family. But today is the first big celebration that I missed out on, and it was kinda tough. Everything is pretty much closed, so I spend the day at home. It wasn’t special. I played some solitare.

Actually, I kicked butt at solitaire. My new winning streak is 13 games, and my best best time is 1:36. Yes, I am my father’s daughter. But still. Pretty lonely.

To be fair, I think they missed me too. Mom told the kids that the Easter Bunny couldn’t come this year because she’s studying abroad. Very subtle. From what I hear, this didn’t go over to well with some particularly ungrateful siblings of mine who aren’t just happy to be spending the day with their family. Were I that lucky! I hope they didn’t take it too hard, though. This bunny wishes she could have hidden their eggs.

Mom, this is for you. For some reason, all bunny talk made me think of it:

(my favorite part is the asparagus solo)

Easter has changed a little bit over the years. It used to be at one of three houses: the Lancey’s BKS, the John Blanck’s, and the Mark Blanck’s.

The Lancey’s hosted Easter when I was super young. My only real memory of this is that special time when all the kids were banished to the basement so they couldn’t spy on the Easter Bunny when he hid eggs about half way through the day. This was during the early days of computers and internet, and the Lancey’s had just gotten a scanner. I remember cousins all fighting over who got to try to shove their face in it, and trying to figure out all the things we could scan. If I remember correctly, someone (possibly me) was very concerned that the light of the scanner would blind you if you kept your eyes open. Yes, those were magical times.

The Mark Blancks and John Blancks live about three houses away from each other, and they traded Easter back and forth for a few years. The Mark Blanck’s had the ideal set-up because they had a finished and kid-friendly basement. They had an awesome pinball machine, and either Jillian or Tina always had a cool craft project going on that Jillian could show me. I remember more about the actual egg-hunting, here. The Easter Bunny got pretty creative. Somehow, a few eggs made it to some pretty high places: gutters, lamp posts, trees. The older cousins and younger (at heart) parents made it their job to throw things at these eggs until they were dislodged and fell to the ground.

The Mark Blancks do have some pretty magnificent trees. There is an amazing pine tree in their front yard that the braver cousins (never me) would climb as high as they could. This thing is taller than the house. One very sad Easter, Jillian fell out of this tree and skinned her leg terribly. I think tree-climbing while wearing dresses pretty much ended after that, forever tying my fate to the grassy ground below.

Now, the John-Blancks have a killer attic. We’re talking plastic play house, pool table, guitar hero, mini bar… the only issue on Easter was the windows. Sentries were stationed around the perimeter of the attic to ward off all the younger cousins, who had already been made to promise not to peek. They had a great yard for egg hunts, except I remember one year not being able to figure out how to open the chain-link fence to get from their front yard to their back yard. Also, if I’m not mistaken, I believe this is where my little brother Michael had his first holiday pogo-stick accident. First of many. Large family gatherings seem to be the only time he has any interest in pogo-ing… not sure why that is.

Although Easter is no longer held at their house, the John Blancks have taken on responsibility for one of our most cherished Easter traditions: the bunny cakes. My uncle uploaded this picture of the 2013 edition this morning. They did a fabulous job. Those beautiful girls are my talented cousins Nicole and Emilie. oh, and my uncle John.

Bunny Cakes 2013!

Easter is now, once again, held at the Lancey’s. It’s a different house, though. As soon as the last of their three boys left for college, they moved out of their (relatively) small Brookside home and into this fabulously luxurious palace. The yard is huge, the bathrooms have heated floors, the fireplace works… lap of luxury. To top it all off their basement is the ultimate man cave, complete with beer on tap. If that doesn’t say Easter to you, then you’re not a Blanck. or Lancey.

I’ve had a hard time getting off work for the holiday since about the time we moved Easter to the Lancey palace. I had that stinkin’ job at Waldo Pizza, so I had to come late or leave early. Still, I remember some good egg hunts. They have lots of good nooks and crannies for the true egg strategist or older cousin. Best of all, I love chillin on their patio next to the fire pit with my Nonnie and all the aunties.

Even though I couldn’t be at her house with everyone else, my godmother aunt Jeanne made sure that the bunny found me today. Thank you Jeanne! I love you!

I miss my family a lot today.

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Easter Eve

For everyone out there who spent 15 years in Catholic school, today is Holy Saturday. For the rest of everybody, today is Easter Eve… and one of my favorite days of the holiday. Tonight, I wish I was home and locked in my mom’s room, working on a TOP SECRET project that happens to happen ever Easter Eve. That’s all I can say. I mean, it’s top secret.

Okay, I stuff eggs full of candy and then I hide them. Yes, I have become the Primary Easter Bunny for my household in recent years. I wish I was there tonight.

Today in Brighton has been like any other day. I didn’t go out today. There’s no where to really go if you’re not spending money, and I am saving up for my next round of trips. I did do some interesting research on how to get a Russian tourist visa. I’m not sure if the extra money and trouble is worth it for a weekend in Moscow, but I’m also not sure when I’ll have this chance again. Flights are still the cheapest way to get on the continent, but if I’m traveling to a bunch of different places in a short amount of time there are some great deals on Youth Eurorail passes. I’m trying to figure out if I can just spend my last 22 days in Europe taking the train everywhere… but I have to make sure it’s cool with my professors if I leave Brighton a little early. We’ll see.

So I’ve been concerned that my blog posts have been a little dull lately. Certainly after all my recent adventures, stories of me sitting at home in Brighton really aren’t too captivating. I’m a little bored myself. The weather will be nice next week and the studios will be open again, so my life should get a little more lively. Until then, I thought of something else you might be interested in.

For my “faculty option,” which is Brighton’s version of a studio elective, I’ve been keeping a sketchbook based on my traveling. I decided that I would not do any drawing from life. For one, I already know I can do that. Also, that’s what I have a camera for. So instead of that, I’ve just been drawing from my memory and my imagination. I’ve never really practiced at anything like that before, and it’s been a very interesting learning experience for me. It’s very focused around my impressions of the places. The sketchbook makes more sense as a whole, but here are a few pages that I thought were interesting:

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and here are a couple drawings (not a part of the sketchbook project) that I did today to kinda warm back up to the whole art-making thing

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Cheers!

Good Friday.

I think I spoke a little too soon about feeling better.

I was fine in the morning today. I didn’t get an early start, but I was up fairly late last night so I wasn’t too worried about it. The weather wasn’t as cold as I had expected. I enjoyed the walk to my campus, but when I arrived I found it locked. I guess it hadn’t occurred to me that my university would be closed for Good Friday. Alice was talking about a four day weekend this morning, but I didn’t really make the connection. I was really forgetful and a little out of it. So, I suppose the school will be closed through Easter Monday. This is a bit of a bummer, since all my supplies are inside and I was looking forward to getting back into the studio.

I needed some new supplies anyway. I don’t really have much in the way of paper, and I think that my work this semester will be more focused around drawing rather than painting. I decided to go to a stationary store that’s nearby the school, but on my way I passed Pound Land and decided to just check it out. I was delighted to find that they have a kid’s craft section. I made out with paper, assorted pens, markers, pencils, and a few other goodies for only 7 pounds. I was feeling even weirder than I had earlier, though, and had a hard time being focused. My migraines are slightly different each time, so I waited til I got home before I took my medication.

The bummer about my medication is that it makes me really loopy. It’s the kind of stuff you’re not allowed to drive when you take. You really shouldn’t be allowed to go grocery shopping, either. I went to the store for one thing, wandered around for ages, and came out with much more than I really needed. I tried to pay the cashier three times. Feeling dizzy like that upsets my stomach, and the medicine makes me incredibly drowsy, but it was too late in the day to take a nap unless I wanted to stay up all night.

I had potato soup and brussel sprouts for dinner, then basically spent the rest of the afternoon and evening fighting to stay awake until an appropriate hour. At around 9:30, I decided that hour had arrived, and now it’s time for bed.

Today really wasn’t what I had hoped. My migraine medication makes me really weird. Even Alice commented on how strange I was acting… but it’s better than having a migraine!

Oh, and here’s some good news in regards to the travel situation! I did a little research on airfare last night, and I might not have to choose after all. Round-trip to Moscow is only £100! Round trip to Krakow is only 18-freaking-pounds. I forget how cheap and easy it is to get around Europe. I am so excited to start finalizing some of these plans.

one last day!

Yes, I spent another full day without leaving the house. But my sleep patterns are finally beginning to return to normal, and I had a lot more energy today. I was productive around the house and I did some Pilates. Tomorrow I’ll be getting out.

I didn’t start my paper, but I decided what it will primarily be about… so I figure that’s a pretty big step in the right direction. I unpacked from my trip and tried to tidy my room a bit. I did the best I could. It’s actually really hard to be neat here. I really have no place to put things, especially as I accumulate more and more gifts for my family and my fabulous boyfriend. It’s just hard to live somewhere while knowing that it’s extremely temporary. I don’t have any real storage options, and I don’t want to invest in furniture that I’ll be leaving in a few short months. It’s not like I could take any of that back across the ocean with me, and even if I could I have a fully furnished room at home.

I am in the beginning stages of planning my next trips. I’ll be meeting a friend in France for a day in Paris and a trip to Normandy. I’m waiting to finalize those dates before I start thinking about my other trips. I’m at the point in my trip where it’s getting more difficult to decide where I want to go. In the beginning, I was just excited to go anywhere. That’s how I ended up in Istanbul, which has been far and away the highlight. Now, I’m about half-way through my time here and I’m starting to realize that every place I do go means that I’m not able to go somewhere else.

Auschwitz and Normandy are a given. Beyond those, though, I can basically choose between one of two strategies. I can either take several short trips to places near England (like Amsterdam, Scotland, Bordeaux), or fewer trips to farther destinations (Moscow and St Petersberg, Prague, Vienna and Budapest, Italy and Spain). It’s a tough decision to make. I know that this is not the only time I will be in Europe in my life, so I don’t have to see everything… but I really, really want to. To make things more complicated, I had zero expectations when I booked my trip for Istanbul… and it completely blew me away. That was sheer luck! What else is out there that I don’t know I’m missing, and how do I find it?

Tomorrow I’m going to venture back out into the world. I think I’ll wake up early and head to studio to make some art. School is now in its month long Easter Break, but I do have to get some work done eventually.

Sleep Debt

Today, I successfully did not leave the house again. I didn’t accomplish much, but I think tomorrow I’ll start working on the paper I have to write. It’s not due for another months, but I think now is a good time. I don’t want it to interfere with my future travel plans, so it’s best to get it out of the way now while I’m home.

I made enough spaghetti for lunch to have fed my entire family of six. It’s hard to break that habit. I froze some of the leftovers (the rest are in the fridge) so I’ll still put it to good use. I’m rebuilding my stores of food. I haven’t been able to keep much in the house lately because I really haven’t been here. It feels good to eat in again. Having to go out for food all the time is one of the more tiring things about traveling, I think. It’s a great way to experience a culture, but it’s also expensive and it can start to feel like a chore.

I have never slept as much as this. It is a little embarrassing. Normally, I hate spending time indoors and not being productive… but right now, it still feels refreshing. Tomorrow I think I might start to ease back into it and get some things done around the house. Work on that paper. We’ll see what happens.

Versailles!

So I ended up just buying more storage space from wordpress. It wasn’t too expensive, and I’m obviously going to have a lot more photos over the next two months. I really am down to only two months left here, which is so hard to believe. I have two more trips that I absolutely must do before I head back to the States: Auschwitz and Normandy. Besides those, I would really like to visit Italy if I have the chance, or head to Amsterdam for a weekend.

I successfully spend the day at home today, but I had to really fight the desire to start planning more trips. I won’t be actually going anywhere anytime soon, but I really will have to start working on the travel arrangements if I want to be able to afford to go anywhere. Things are only cheap pretty far in advance. I just want one or two more days of peace and non-stressfulness before I dive back into that ballgame. I’ll be double and triple checking my reservation confirmations from here on out. I can’t afford any more surprises.

The chicken fiesta I made in the crock pot today was especially good. It’s my favorite recipe. I think after this, I’ll make stew. I watched quite a bit of the Office (the US version). I’ve seen a lot of English TV lately and I was just in the mood for something a bit more homey. On a side note. I feel like English people refuse to watch the US Office as a matter of principle. I can maybe understand that a little. It’s hard to admit when someone takes something you did that was pretty good and makes it so much better. Look, I’ve seen both versions. I’ve seen a lot of other British comedies at this point, too. The British Office is okay. It’s not better than the American version. There are other British shows that can compete with our comedies, but the UK Office is just not one of them.

I hear all kinds of excuses from English people about how their humor is more subtle while ours is more slapstick, but I’ve seen both sides of the pond now and that’s just not always true.

Sorry for the tangent.

Here are my Versailles photos!

Spring Break 2013 “no regretzzzz” Retrospective

I slept until 5:00 PM today.

I don’t know if I have ever done that before. I absolutely had no intention of leaving the house today regardless, but I quickly realized that the only food I have at the moment is cookie dough. After eating quite a bit of this, I put my coat on (over my pajamas) and headed for Sainsbury’s. I’ve pretty much stocked up for the next week. I have 18 eggs, I will have spaghetti with meat sauce tonight, and I am making Chicken Fiesta in the crock pot tomorrow. It is my goal not to leave the house again until Wednesday. I have sleep to catch up on, laundry to do, a room to clean, and sleep to catch up on. I’ve been on the road almost non-stop in Istanbul. I’ve only spent 4 days in Brighton in the past 3 weeks, and Kathleen was here for part of that. Yikes.

My trip with Kathleen was an amazing time and one we’ll never forget. We managed to hit four major cities in three countries, as well as my home. It was so wonderful to finally be with family, although the day she left was the first time I felt homesick.

The difference between the last time I went to Paris and this time was a little scary. I knew my way around better, so we would have been able to get more things done if we had wanted to. As it was, it was much less stressful. However, the city was way more crowded. Last time, I waited in no queue for more than 5 minutes. This time, a line for anything on the Ile-de-Cite wrapped around the block. I’m planning to make one last trip back to Paris when I meet up with Carson to go to Normandy, and I shudder to think what it will be like then. It might be worth investing in a “museum pass” if we try to cram everything into one day. It’s fairly expensive, but it allows you to go to the front of the line at virtually every major sight in the city. It could be very worth it. And when you consider how much money we save anyway, as being students and therefore not paying admission, it’s really not bad.

Now finally, here are a few of our sisterina spring break photos from London and Paris. Click on any photo to see it larger:

Now, there are more photos from the Eiffel Tower and from Versailles. However, I have run out of data storage space on my blog. I’m going to work on it tomorrow to see whether there is any way I can add more photos without removing the old ones, or whether I need to purchase more data.