Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 1/31/13

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]



Tonight I saw the French movie The Intouchables for free at my university's union.  It was great - I highly recommend it.  Don't let the language throw you off; you'll laugh a ton and feel good, even while reading English subtitles.  Now that I'm home, I can hear my new roommate laughing while watching a show in her room.  She's got a full, hearty laugh; so I'm smiling here in my room, very content with my current living arrangements. 

One of my roommates left Monday morning to study abroad for the spring semester, hence the new roommate.  Somehow all of the girls who live/have lived in this apartment -- past and present -- are wonderful.  I really lucked out this fall when I was apartment hunting, and I'm so thankful for my roommates.  Who you live with can have a huge effect on your life, so again, thankfully now it's completely a positive effect and I feel at home when I'm at home.

"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity."
-Elie Wiesel
• • •

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Snapshot: Capitol's reflection

I recently started a second job where I'll be working from now through April on the weekends.  My regular shift will be Fridays 5p-9p, Saturdays 9a-5p, and Sundays 9a-5p.  This was my first weekend working all three weekend days.  Let me just say, I cannot believe that tomorrow begins another work week already.

When I hopped off my bus on the way home tonight, I accidentally got off a corner too early.  The bus windows were all fogged up due to the rain/snow coming down tonight, and we were driving around the square where each side looks the same.  Thinking I was headed right to my apartment, I spotted a great reflection of the capitol in a building's windows.

Remembering I had my camera in my bag, I stopped to take a picture:

Wisconsin State Capitol reflection in building windows
Wisconsin State Capitol reflection

It was after taking this picture that I noticed the Walgreens, meaning I was not on the right side of the square!  Oops.  It was a slippery walk home; hopefully the roads and sidewalks aren't this bad tomorrow.
• • •

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 1/24/13

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]


Today I am thankful for mutual friends.  I went to the fun. concert tonight in Madison (which was excellent, by the way.  How does the main singer have so much energy??), yet I am probably most grateful for my lunch today.

I went with a new friend -- the best friend of one of my good friends (hence, a mutual friend) that I recently re-met -- to one final Restaurant Week outing at Brocach on Monroe St.


I ate:
Roasted Garlic and Cambozola Flatbread



Guinness Stout Burger



Whiskey Pecan Bread Pudding


It's been fun getting to know a new friend -- you know the feeling, no?  The possibility.  The unknown.  It's kind of like traveling, yet instead of exploring a new place, you learn little by little about a new person.  Your first impression of a place may change over time, but you won't know how until it happens.  Likewise, with new people you don't have all the pieces to have the full impression right away; it takes time.  And the great thing about mutual friends is that if they're your friend's friend, they'll probably check out in your book too.  To state the obvious, you have a much higher chance of becoming friends with a mutual friend than with some rando.  But this is what I'm excited about today.


"Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude." 
-A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
• • •

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Restaurant Week: Johnny's Italian Steakhouse

On the same day as my Restaurant Week lunch at The Bayou with brother Teej, I had a 6:00 dinner reservation for four at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse in Greenway Station.

Source: http://johnnysitaliansteakhouse.com/

This was another restaurant participating in Restaurant Week, offering the following $30 dinner menu:



The Prof had warned us ahead of time that the lighting was dim, and it was.  The restaurant calls this "ambiance".  I could read my menu alright, but I guess that's thanks to my young eyes.  Others with us had difficulty reading the menu, so beware.

Appetizer

For my appetizer I went with the crab cake, since I've never eaten one before.  Most of the seafood I've eaten in my life has been consumed during the two years I lived in Spain, and a crab cake was never one of them.

Johnny's Italian Steakhouse: Jumbo lump crab cake

I didn't think it was necessarily fit the description "jumbo," but it sure was delicious.


Entree

For my entree I debated between the chicken and the angel hair pasta right up until the waitress was taking my order.  The word "chicken" came out of my mouth, but I would have liked to try the pasta too.  The chicken and mashed potatoes were excellent as well, but please forgive the picture.

Chicken piccata
Johnny's Italian Steakhouse: Chicken Piccata

Since the restaurant was so dark, taking pictures with flash drew lots of attention.  I tried to take pictures of my entree with no flash, and the poor quality is evident above.

Dessert

For dessert I had the warm chocolate cake.  It was the "warm" that did me in, though the cake wasn't all that warm when it arrived.  Then again it was served with ice cream, so maybe that's why.  The ice cream was cinnamon flavored, which complimented the cake really well.  I don't think I've ever had cinnamon ice cream before.



I was very pleased with my Restaurant Week dinner at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse.  I only have good things to say about the food, and the service was great.  Now we might even do an event for work here later this spring.
• • •

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Guest Post: Restaurant Week at The Bayou

[This is a guest post written by brother Teej.  He and I decided to do a swap, so he posted here on my blog, and I guest posted about The Bayou at his blog All Food Considered]

This past Monday, Rebe and I kicked off the week by checking out Madison’s Restaurant Week. This year there were nearly fifty restaurants participating; each put together a list of dishes so that diners could create their own three-course dinner for a reduced rate.  Every restaurant offered a dinner starting at $25, while a few even offered a $15 lunch option as well.  Unsure of our evening schedules for the day, we decided a few days before to place a lunch reservation at The Bayou, which coins itself as a New Orleans Style Tavern.

When we got there we had our choice of tables, as their lunch hour was still at the early stages. After familiarizing ourselves with the menu once again, we ended up ordering Cajun cheese curds and gravy fries for our starters, chicken & sausage jambalaya and a shrimp po’ boy with sweet potato French fries for our entrées, and pecan pie a la mode and sweet potato bread pudding for our desserts.




While waiting for the food to arrive, it was hard not to notice the scenery. The two-story seating area is meant to make you feel like you’re sitting outdoors in a French Quarter courtyard while being overlooked by a fenced in balcony. There were jazz instruments hanging from the ceiling, realistic murals covering every square inch of the walls and ceiling, a fifteen-foot tall Mardi Gras themed jester, and pretty much anything else you can think of to get you in a New Orleans mood.

New Orleans scene at The Bayou in Madison, WI
New Orleans scene at The Bayou in Madison, WI


New Orleans scene at The Bayou in Madison, WI
New Orleans scene at The Bayou in Madison, WI

Although the food wasn't all that I expected, the trip was definitely worth it. Because of Rebe’s invitation, I now know a fun new place to grab some drinks in the downtown area, got to catch up with what’s been happening the past few weeks, and got inspired to cook some of my own Cajun classics (jambalaya, Cajun catfish, and bread pudding are on my list so far) in the near future!
• • •

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chains: Keeping track of daily intents

The other week I realized that with all of my new year's resolutions, I needed to implement a new system to keep track of the things I'm supposed to do every day (or things I want to do x times per week).

Then I discovered Chains!  Chains.cc is a simple, free tool to track daily progress in any endeavor.

Here's a screen shot of the main screen.  Goals/topics are across the top, and the dates are along the lefthand side.


When you do something, simply click on the corresponding circle and it will change colors.  As you do multiple days in a row, the circles will combine with adjacent circles to make chains, hence the site's name.



Making a new chain is really easy.  You click "Add new chain" on the right side of the previous chain.







Double click the text to rename.  Then click on the gear in the bottom left corner to change the settings.



Here are the settings you can change.  For things that I only want to do once or twice a week, I skip six or five days so that I'm only left with one or two circles per week.



There are different skins to make it more fun:


I use the book skin for my reading, the guitar skin for guitar (which I've majorly slacked on), and the weights skin for push-ups.


This site has been so useful for me.  The emptiness in that first screenshot at the top of the post is motivation to do better by the end of the month, when I'll have a resolutions check-in with myself... publicly on the blog.

Does anyone already use Chains?  Is anyone going to start using it now?  Anyone have an alternative to recommend?
• • •

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 1/17/13

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]



Today I met with my ESL conversation partner that I've been volunteering with since December.  He's from Saudi Arabia and started teaching me some Arabic tonight.  With this on the brain, today I'm thankful that I can still be exposed to other parts of the world right here in Madison, WI.  Likewise, I'm glad that I can continue to teach foreigners about the Wisconsin lifestyle like I often did in Spain.  I appreciate the multiple world viewpoints and cultures that exist, and can't wait to discover more of them through travel and future friendships.

"Love what you have and you'll have more love."  
-Regina Spektor (Song: Firewood)
• • •

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How I got a free box of Godiva chocolates

Around the holidays, my boss got a box of Godiva Hand-Decorated Parfait Chocolates as a gift.  One day she let myself and Izzy each pick one to eat.  I never would have guessed that it would be such a difficult task!

Godiva Hand-Decorated Parfait Chocolates

There was no "guide/key" to the parfaits, there was only a tag on the outside of the box with a list of each type.  Later, we discovered that on the bottom of the box (hello -- how are you supposed to read that without awkwardly holding the box up and bending your head to read it, or flipping the box over and ruining all of the parfaits??) were descriptions of each parfait.  Descriptions, but no pictures.

I was trying to avoid the caramel parfait.  It's just not my favorite, and I would have preferred a non-fruity dark chocolate something.  We studied those descriptions from the underside of the box and the actual parfaits for over 10 minutes.  I finally decided on one I thought was the Mocha Almond.  Bit into it... caramel!  Arg!

Later our boss picked one out for herself -- she doesn't like mocha.  Not at all.  I don't remember what she thought she had (after we went back and forth between the descriptions and the actual parfait, and were fairly certain we had it right), but she bits into it and... you guessed it: mocha.  What are the chances?!

Now, I do realize this is a ridiculous #FirstWorldProblem, and I'm thankful the chocolates were offered to me after they were received as a gift.  That being said, a company as well-known and successful as Godiva should have a better-labeled product than that.  If someone's going to spend $60 on chocolates, you'd best be able to identify them.  And in the hopes of getting some free chocolates, I decided to write a consumer complaint letter.

I've done this once before, in 2008 when I found a piece of string in a bag of Eileen's Southwest Trail Mix that I snacked on every day at my job.  Again, the main hope was that I would get some free trail mix out of it; I wasn't too concerned about the small piece of string I found in the previous bag.

They did send me an unmarked bag of trail mix, and it tasted the best and freshest of all their bags I've ever eaten!

So here's the letter I sent to Godiva via email (that was the only contact information apart from phone and chat that I was able to find on their website):
January 2, 2013 
Godiva Chocolates
355 Lexington Avenue
New York City, NY 
To Whom it May Concern: 
On December 26, 2012 our office received a gorgeous box of 16 Godiva Hand-Decorated Parfait Chocolates. Unfortunately, we were unable to identify each parfait, since there were no labels in the box. There was a list of each type of parfait on a tag wrapped outside of the box, but it was simply a list without any corresponding pictures. We later discovered detailed descriptions of each parfait on the bottom of the box (an inconvenient location), but again without matching pictures it was difficult to figure out which parfait was which. How is one to know the difference between "chocolate bits," "chocolate ribs," and "chocolate curls"? Both of the parfaits that were covered in "chocolate bits" were also both in dark chocolate cups, so there was no way to tell them apart. We also couldn't distinguish between the "strawberry cream" and the "raspberry cheesecake," which was a disappointment to Jacob, our office manager who loves strawberry but cannot eat raspberries. 
I am displeased because we weren't able to enjoy these parfait chocolates as they should have been, since we could not tell one from the other. Each of my coworkers have their own preferences, but I am not a fan of caramel. After going back and forth, studying the descriptions on the underside of the box and comparing them to the parfaits inside, I chose which one I would eat. I went out of my way to avoid the caramel parfait, and as luck would have it, that's exactly the parfait that I bit into. People should not have to do this much guesswork to select the parfait they would like to enjoy (and choose incorrectly on top of that!). 
The presentation of the Parfait Chocolates was impeccable; the box was beautiful. However, the lack of labels or pictures with the descriptions prevented me and my coworkers from delighting in this holiday treat. To resolve the problem, I would appreciate a replacement box of Godiva Chocolates -- with labels. The best solution would be an identical box of the Hand-Decorated Parfait Chocolates with labels, but if such a label is still not in existence, a different box of labeled Godiva chocolates will suffice. I look forward to your reply and a resolution to this problem. 
Sincerely,
Rebe With a Clause

On January 4 I received the following email response:
Dear Ms. Rebe with a Clause,  
Thank you for your email and your inquiry. I am making out an official complaint form for you, and it will go to management for their review.  
May your life be filled with Godiva!

And then I got back to work and the days passed and I forgot all about it.

... until a package arrived for me today at work.  Here's what I found inside!

A Godiva surprise!

Godiva chocolates

I forgot to take a picture of the chocolates inside, but they are all very distinct shapes and there is a great key with photos that was included inside the box.
• • •

Monday, January 14, 2013

DIY state craft plaque

Today I was finally able to give the civil engineer his Christmas present, so now I can share:

Wisconsin string craft
DIY Wisconsin state string craft

The idea actually came in January of 2012, after my two weeks HelpXing with some creative artsy people.  They re-sparked my crafting itch.  So I spent many nights in Madrid browsing craftgawker (I either avoided pinterest or didn't know about it), and one night I this post on Our Mini Family, which introduced me to the work of Curiously Wrought (etsy).

This is what inspired my project:

Made by Curiously Wrought
Source

Had I been making one for a girl, the heart may have worked; but I thought something else would be more appropriate for the civil engineer.  I decided on Wisconsin's motion W when I moved back to the states, finally having the tools and materials for this craft readily available at my parents' house.

Supplies I Used

  • An old wooden plaque (a piece of wood would work just as well)
  • Paint and paintbrushes
  • Small nails, 3/4" in length.
  • Thin string -- I bought the string at Michael's. Any colored string from a craft shop should work.
  • Hammer

How I Made It

My house just so happened to have a stack of wooden plaques by the front door when I moved home from Spain!  (I'm completely serious -- I was just as surprised at the coincidence).  My grandma had been cleaning out some of my grandpa's stuff, so she took off the paper certificates from various awards he'd won, and gave the bare wooden plaques to papa.

There were already grooves and holes on the back side so that it could be hung vertically or horizontally, which made it perfect for this project!

1. Sand the plaque so that the paint will stick.  The beginning of the project took place after my camera had broken in France, and before I bought my new one in Wisconsin, so I took bad pictures on my camera:

Sand the wood if it's smooth and polished

2. Paint the wood the color of your choice.  I did a couple of coats.  First, with this ugly pink-y color we had.  Then with two coats of a deeper red.



3. Print out an outline of the state.  I found my template by doing a Google images search for "Wisconsin outline map".

4. Cut around the outline and tape it to the painted wood.  I just used two scotch tape loops.  You won't want it to rip off any of the paint, so don't go too crazy with the tape.


I printed a motion W as well, and later cut a circle in the paper state in the spot where I wanted to put the W:



5. Hammer in nails around the state's border and the inner-shape's border.  I spent many hours spread over two months hammering in all of these nails.  

My first row was pretty bad, with lots of crooked nails and bent heads, but I later developed a method that worked well.  The first row wasn't great because I would often accidentally hit nearby nails while hammering a different nail.  I needed the nails to be close together, but the closeness made it difficult to hammer in nails alongside existing nails.


To resolve this problem, I began to hammer in every other nail, leaving space to later fit one (or two) nail(s) in between.  Since the two bordering nails were then already hammered in to the lower height, I had nothing to accidentally hit when I hammered in the middle nail.  I also sometimes used a thin, long pliers to hold the middle nail in place as I hammered it in. 

Evenly spaced nails with space for one or two nails in the middle

Here's another tip: You'll want to hammer your inner design before you do the nearby state outline.  If you do the whole state outline first, it will be a lot more difficult to get at the inner design with a hammer (and/or pliers).


6. Remove the paper state, do any final paint touch-ups if necessary, and count your nails.  Count the number of outer nails and the number of inner nails.  These numbers will be used in the final step, wrapping the string!



7. Wrap string back and forth between the inner design and the state outline.  This was the most fun step for me, but unfortunately the quickest; it really doesn't take long to wrap the string!  

Use the number of nails to get a rough estimate of the number of times you should wrap the same inner design nail, while continuing around multiple outer nails.  For example, if there were 200 state outline nails and 50 inner design nails, you would end up wrapping the string around one inner design nail for every four state outline nails (200/50 = 4) -- but that will be a total of four times around that single inner design nail.  Am I making sense?  Let me know in the comments if this is unclear, and I'll try to clarify.

It doesn't have to be exact by any means.  Play around and see what looks good.  In the thumb of the state (on the right side) I did some criss-crossing to fill it in.

My string broke on the right half of the motion W, which can be seen in the picture below.  I just retied it to the small ball of string and kept wrapping.  You really can't tell in the finished product.


When I got back to where I had started I tied a few knots, then threaded the string up and down along some of the outer nails just for extra measure.

The finished product: Ta da!


• • •

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 1/10/13

Thankful Thursday gratitude Rebe with a Clause

As I was reminded of in the letter to myself written a year ago, both place and people matter to me.  The two are so tightly intertwined that one can't stand by itself.  It ultimately boils down to the fact that the people you're with and place you're in now is unique to the present.  People will come and go in your place, or you might move to a new place with new people.

I may no longer be in sunny Spain, but right now is the only time I'll live in Wisconsin at the exact same time as everyone else who currently lives here.  Coupling that realization with my personal 2013 resolution to focus on gratitude, I've decided to start a "Thankful Thursday" segment each week.

You know what they say, "Want what you have and you'll have what you want."  How do you want what you have?  You appreciate what you currently have!  It all comes down to gratitude, people, I'm telling you.

Tonight I was itching to grab a drink with someone after work, so I called brother Teej who said he'd be available in a few hours.  I wasn't sure what he had to get done, but later that night he showed up at my apartment with four freshly-baked bagels!  I ate one right then and there, and it was sooo delicious.  He made them that week for his All Food Considered blog.  And then to top it off, papa stopped by my place right as we were about to leave, so we all went and got a drink together.  So this Thursday I'm thankful for living in the same city as brother Teej, his culinary skills & generosity, and being able to see both him and papa this week --on a weeknight!

What are you thankful for today?
• • •

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A letter from the past

Today I had a nice surprise in my inbox when I signed into my email upon arrival at work.  I received an email I had written to myself one year ago, on January 8, 2012 (which I had completely forgotten about).

It began with:
If you're reading this, that means the world didn't end on December 21, 2012, or the 23rd, whichever date it was supposed to be.
Har, har, har - I'm so funny.

I continue:
You just got back from two weeks in Válor, Granada on your first HelpX Experience. It was awesome and that's what you want to keep doing.
...

Skipping to the bottom:
I learned coming back to Madrid that the place isn't everything, it's the people too. That being said, the people aren't everything either. I loved Madison this past summer and fall, working, mufa, etc. But when I go back it won't be the same.
How wise I was.  I ended with:
I hope you're eating healthier, cooking more, know more French, know more guitar, and are doing yoga or stretching, or running/ ultimate, some type of exercise. If not, get to it! Be happy and live your life fully. Make the most of each day, you only get one. I love you.
See?  Even then I was working on many of the same resolutions I've made this year.

Anyway, it was a wonderful surprise; I almost wish I had written more.  I'm going to write another one this week, to be delivered to my future self in 2014.

Write a letter to your future self today!  I guarantee that you'll enjoy receiving it whenever you decide to have it sent to yourself -- whether it be one year from now, two years, five, ten -- whenever!  Just go to http://www.futureme.org and start writing.


Has anyone else ever written a letter to their future self?  If you write one today because of this post, please share in the comments!
• • •

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 Resolutions

After having written about my 2012 in books and in photos, I'm ready to write about my resolutions for 2013.  I make resolutions every year.  This year I started writing my physical list in December and adding to it as I got more ideas.  I'm always wanting to learn new things or improve in certain areas; I'm a self-help junkie.  So my resolutions have always been plentiful.

That said, here's the list for 2013:

Books

  • Read 32 books
  • Five of these books will be in Spanish
  • Five of these books will be books that I own in my apartment
  • Two of these books will be in French?
[I own many books that I've never read, so by giving myself the guideline of reading five books from my apartment I'll ease myself into reaching the longterm goal of reading every book I own.]

Health
  • Buy and take vitamin B and D regularly
  • Take probiotics every day
  • Read JJ's info from health center; read the health book his Dr. recommended
  • No chocolate at work!
[My office has got a candy bowl that's always full of chocolate: Dove chocolates, mini Snickers, mini Milky Way, mini Twix, etc.  Since they're so plentiful and always in sight, I eat more than I should.  Especially with the fact that my stomach has difficulty digesting chocolate and those types of treats, I really shouldn't be eating any!  I'll try to find a system that works for me.]

Personal
  • Write in journal every day
  • Only log in to facebook 1x/day maximum
  • Brighten peoples' days with every interaction
  • Focus on gratitude
  • No fear
[I don't spend much time on facebook whenever I do log in (not having a smartphone helps), but I still think logging in more than once a day is overkill (for me).  I shouldn't need to log in more than once a week even, but the goal will be to keep it at once a day maximum.

The "every interaction" bit comes from the idea that when you cross paths with someone else, you can either make their day better, worse, or have no effect.  My goal is to make every interaction - no matter how brief - be a positive one.  Maybe they'll be in a better mood and pass on the kindness.  Smiles help!]

Fitness
Guitar
  • Play 5x/week (aka practice)
  • Learn one new chord/week
Languages
  • Go to the French conversation table! 
  • Take a Continuing Studies French class in the spring
  • Use Duolingo at least 3x/week
  • French grammar book 1x/week
[There was one day in the fall when I finally mustered enough courage to go to the French conversation table.  I walked for twenty minutes to this cafe, only to discover no one else was there for the conversation table.  This cafe has three different locations in the downtown area, so I need to find out the right one -- then gain courage again and just go!  It's so easy for me to go to the Spanish conversation table, but I know going to the French table would be helpful no matter what I understand or am able to say.]

Travel
  • Travel to San Diego or visit Patrick Wire in Washington D.C. in the spring
  • Research S. Korea teaching English programs
  • Look into France options...
[Since I've been back in the states, a small percent of my biweekly paycheck gets automatically deposited into an ING savings account that I opened this fall.  That's supposed to be my travel money.  It's nice because I forget it exists; I don't see it in my checking account or take it into consideration with my monthly budget at all.  Haven't checked that savings account since I opened it, so I just need see what I've got to work with, then make the plans and buy a plane ticket by February or March. Just do it!]

Blogs
  • Blog once a week on Oh No She Madridn't
  • Blog twice a week here on Rebe With a Clause
  • Have one contest a month on Rebe With a Clause
  • Comment on two blogs a week
  • Read an SEO book
[I read tons of blogs.  I don't visit the blogs themselves; I use Google Reader and read new posts directly from there.  I actually may spend more time reading blogs than books, if you look at the last three to five years.  But I don't comment.  There are blogs I've been reading for nearly a decade (I feel like I know the blogger), but I've only commented a handful of times if any.  I think bogging is a great way to meet people within certain communities, so that's why I want to start forcing myself to comment more on the blogs I regularly read.]

MOOCs
  • Finish the statistics class I started last summer
  • Do one complete course this spring
[MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses, which refers to free online courses on sites such as coursera.org or udacity.com.  These are courses taught by professors at universities like Stanford, Princeton, Brown, etc.  I fully support the movement towards more educational material on the web, open for anyone to access and learn.  Hence I love MOOCs.]

Craft
  • Scrapbook at least two pages a month
  • Make an inspiration binder

So that's my current list.  Maybe if I make myself do 11 "resolution checkpoints" this year, one at the end of each month, I may increase my chances of following through on all (or most) of these.


Happy 2013!  Did you make any resolutions this year?  What are they?  How do you hold yourself to your resolutions?
• • •

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012: A year in photos

Here are some major events of my 2012 in photos, by month:

JANUARY

I rang in 2012 in Válor, Granada; where I was volunteering in exchange for food and accommodation through HelpX over my winter break.

Válor, Granada, Spain
Válor, Granada, Spain

Válor, Granada, Spain
Válor, Granada, Spain

Inspired by my fellow HelpX volunteers, I acquired an itch to craft and made a DIY Kindle case later that month after buying my kindle.

DIY kindle case
DIY Kindle case

FEBRUARY

I played in a hat tournament in the Canary Islands.  There was plenty of sun; I was thrilled.

TIBU in Las Palmas

MARCH

I broke my glasses and smashed my face at Juanito's Open, a low-key tournament in Madrid.  (And consequently got my first ever black eye in the days to follow!)




I also went to Las Fallas in Valencia!

Las Fallas, Valencia 2012
Las fallas 2012, Valencia

APRIL

I played in La Abuela, the tournament hosted by my team Quijotes + Dulcineas in Madrid.

Team Sancho: La Abuela 2012
Team Sancho: La Abuela 2012

I had my 23rd birthday, and celebrated it a bit differently than normal.

MAY

In May I finally traveled to Barcelona.  I went by myself and loved it, walking for 10+ hours a day!

Barcelona, view from Montjuic

JUNE

In June I had a visitor from the states; Chad came and spent two weeks in Spain!  We did tons of stuff, including a weekend trip to BEACH Alicante.

No more selfies!  Chad's presence is evidenced in this photo, not taken my moi.

Perhaps better evidence of Chad's visit -- out for tapas and cañas after the bullfight

JULY

I set foot in Germany with my sister and grandma (for two weeks), hunting for our family roots in many cemeteries while we were there.  We also did some planking in the country.


The sister and grandma in Dusseldorf, Germany

AUGUST

I finally went to France!  THE France!  My itch to become fluent in French and live in France has only grown since then...




SEPTEMBER

I ran my first 10K in Madrid with Hannah (and David)!

We did it!  Madrid's "Corre Por Madrid" 10K!

The very next day, I surprised my family and moved back to Wisconsin - unannounced.

OCTOBER

After surprising all of the family, I got a job and found an apartment downtown.

With both of the brothers near my new place of residence

NOVEMBER

I saw President Obama (on a chilly Monday morning) the day before the election.



I also participated in Digital Writing Month (#DigiWriMo) in November, writing a total of 17,314 words!

DECEMBER

I took the GRE in December, after studying for about a month.

I also got a day off of work thanks to the blizzard Draco, and lived through December 21, 2012!



What a wonderful year.  Here's to 2013, that it may bring just as many smiles and good memories.  I'll tell you all about my new year's resolutions in my next post!
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