2013 Wrapped Up

Last year I decided to find a few things that represented my life over the past 12 months. Needless to say, 2012 was wonderful and mildly insane. 2013 found me on new adventures, much more insular but still brilliant. At last I am settling back into myself again. For now.

Here are my words, photos and songs that remind me of my year, ala Clint Eastwood.

12 Words

Unprepared, excited, anxious, frustrated, hopeful, dreamy, adventure, broke, tired, full, blessed, furry.

!2 Songs

LCD Soundsystem

Angus and Julia Stone

Live Oak Review

Dr Dog

John Prine

Todd Snider

Lou Reed RIP


Arcade Fire and Bowie

Yo La Tengo

Flaming Lips

Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer

So many more moments could be added but i had to edit somewhere! It was a very blessed year.


New Year in Norway with my beautiful family


Butchering Pigs in Ireland


Late winter hike in Cork


Visiting Milleen

Photo on 2013-01-26 at 22.14 #3

Beautiful Cheese Muscles!


Working the Farmer’s Market in Skibereen


Having a nip with the locals at a pub with Phe and Douglas




New Orleans in May..Alligator bra?


New Orleans at its finest


Elderflower Syrup. SPRING!


My new housemates arrive. I’m in love


I become an auntie and a godmother to my beautiful Josephine


The wonder and awe of the Flaming Lips with a dear friend.


Turning 40 in Spokane, Washington with great friends!


Beautiful dinner at Nedd Ludd with healthy pours of Bourbon.


Lucas Elliott Jeray arrives in all his perfection!


Getting to know my snow peas, Bianca and Rowey


Returning to my roots never felt better. Tokeland, Washington.


keeping me sane


two new additions to my family. Fingal and Clemens


Moving to Cheney, Washington for a spell!


Being family in B.C.




Snow day equals LOTR’s day!


Dont Panic and Wear Elastic Waist-band Pants

The Masters of 2013

“Be forewarned!”
“Your Stage trips will be completely hedonistic”
“Take only a taste of things offered to you because you will not stop eating for 8 days”
“You will never eat so much or drink so much as you will during Stage so pace yourself”
“Bring Tums and drink plenty of water”

Along with heady eye-rolls, big smiles and overwhelmed sighs, these are a few of the warnings I received from experienced Master students about my study trips, also known as stages. During my year in Italy, I will experience 6 stages. At this moment I am both thrilled and terrified.

I just returned from my first stage. During the weeks before we left, my group was blissfully unaware of the treacherous reality that is a UNISG Stage. We even opted to exchange a free afternoon for an additional wine tasting. Such sweet innocence. I suppose I should have known better when I received the nine page programma outlining our activities. Day one began with Technical Grappa Tasting. Lucky for us it was preceded with a massive 2 hour, 4 course lunch, complete with local wines..lucky..right?

Our first stage was in the Trentino region of Italy. It is a butterfly-shaped autonomous province in the central north and nestled in the Dolomite Mountains; which directly influence the flavors, products and people who live there. Out of this beautiful area come some of Italy’s finest wines, apples, cheeses and olive oil. Because of its size and inaccessible landscape, several of these items are small production processes that have a long tradition of being extraordinary.

The local chamber of commerce and our tutor, Renato, presented us with a thoughtfully planned schedule that offered a look into huge production cooperatives like Melinda Apples and Cavit Wines as well as a small bio-dynamic winery, Trentingrana Cheese, a local butcher and wine maker, among others.

Each lunch and evening meal brought us in contact with chefs who take great pride in their regional cuisine. Many of the restaurants were directly connected to local farms where our meats, cheeses and produce were grown and produced. We tasted donkey, horse, carne salada, grana cheese, numerous dumplings stuffed with cheeses, meats or wild herbs, buckwheat polenta and lots of apples. The wines ranged from spicy reds to mild fruity whites and the beautifully sweet Vino Santo.

It generally takes me a few days to process an experience and unravel all of the jumbled information contained in my brain. As I lie in my bed this morning (nearing noon-hours) recovering from a week of undoubted gluttony, I realize how unique and wonderful this life really is. During my week in Trentino, there was not one cooperative, restaurant or producer that did not contributed to this invaluable educational process I am entrenched.

My only offering for future Master students preparing for their first stage is this: Dive in head first, dance when inspired, don’t panic and sleep on the bus…often. It has been one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and I have 5 more to go! I need to go buy some bigger stage pants…and maybe a new pair of running shoes.

Getting From Here to There

waiting for an appointment

I spent the majority of my week on a bureaucratic scavenger hunt. I am not sure if this was intentional but it was brilliant! I was given clues like “pick up your marca da bollo from a Tabacchi”, “ask for your codice fiscale at the  Agenzia delle Entrate located in Via Euclide Milano” ( i got LUCKY! this place never seems to be open) and then “go to Al Elka Service for Foreigners on Thursday, March 22, at 9:00 in Via Mendicità Istruita for your permit of stay, collect the receipt and then go to the poste, pay 138,50e (!!) and bring the university the receipt”.  i think my prize was two-fold…I get to stay in the country for an entire year and I got a gelato.  I still need to get fingerprinted in May but the list is getting smaller…My list of Italian words…not so much larger but I have great hopes. Big plus, I can get around town now, and usually find my own way home.

beneath my school lies the infamous wine cellars...aka Bancadelvino

walking home from school through the fields..IT'S SPRING!

Universita degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche

For my first week of classes I have been taking the city bus from Bra to Pollenzo. My first day of class, I left the house with my backpack, eating breakfast on the way, because of course i was running late. I stood on the big white stone BUS …and waited…and waited… apparently this is not where one catches the bus. When I asked a lovely older gentleman he says ( in a marvelous voice) ahh, no, no no, Pollenzo bus? (followed by smiles and many many itailian words that i can not understand) and pointed across the piazza where, surprise! all of my other classmates, who had figured this out already (?!) were waiting.


My first days have been pretty typical, in a magical sort of way. We received stacks of new books,  met many of the faculty at the University, made introductions and learned about our local Slow Food Convivium, the Gastronomic Society and the CSA offered for students. We were also invited to participate in this year’s final Cantè j’Euv – translated “singing for the eggs” which takes place in nearby towns at wineries…indeed. This part is quite different from my first week as an undergrad.

Boccondivino, where Slow Food began

On my second day of classes, i missed my bus..yes. not a good way to begin BUT on the positive side, i discovered a large market across the street from my stop. Since i was already late, i decide to have a look around. Not only was there fresh produce, plant starts, meat, cheeses, fish and all number of other good eats, there was also a huge sewing supply stand, several clothing and shoe stands and a massive hardware stand!

picking out the right veggies for dinner

I need to buy a bicycle!

What’s In My Belly?

proscuitto, onion, olive and mozzarella...

Once again it is late and I can’t sleep…I am living on 4 hours of sleep a night and at some point, I have to believe this will catch up with me. However, until that day, i am going to devour my waking hours…maybe literally.

Wonderful bites of fresh crema and pastries

Today is my second day in Bra and my third day in Italy. I have settled into my new home with ease, although it is strange starting over again. Where are all light bulbs and the plastic wrap and who doesn’t have 1 mirror in their entire house? (my classmate put on her mascara with her ichat camera this morning!) I am back to taping maps and postcards and inspiration to the wall above my desk in anticipation for late nights of studying. I have stocked the kitchen with olive oil, cured meats, cheeses, pasta and fresh produce from the market. Life is good…now if only i could get this sleeping thing down.

fresh veal with shaved Parmesan and greens

So, what have I been eating for the past 72 hours? yeah, i knew you wanted to know…and of course I want to share.

First off, I was delivered to Bra by my wonderful friends Fede and Alice and their dear friend Ricardo (he is very tall). We piled into “the big blue car” (by Italian standards) with all of my luggage, my classmate and friend Jess, and her stuff…we should have taken a photo of that!

sausage ravioli with tomato and basil

After dropping off Jess at her flat and dumping my bags, we headed into Pollenzo for lunch. We were starving! When Fede stopped at this massive target-looking store, I was highly skeptical but they reassured me there was a great place to eat inside called Eataly (cute huh?!) The food was fresh and all locally produced as was the beer!

local Belgian style ale


After lunch, my room-mate, Lee-Ann, and I headed into our new town to explore and get some staples for the flat. Fresh Fava Beans! Fresh Ricotta! Baby Artichokes! I had to slow down…I have a year, after all.

Lee-Ann cooked us a meal that night that was so simple, I must share. Fresh ricotta, milk, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix with pasta…serious…that is it… Try it, you will swoon too. We washed that down with a delicious $5 bottle of local Nebiolo.

dairy goodness

Today we were up early and headed out to get massive amounts of paperwork completed at various agencies all over the city… I deserve to eat as much pasta as I want!

fresh fish! think of all the goodness

We were invited to Shona, Jess and Jacqueline’s for lunch….two are chefs, one trained at Chez Panisse and the third is a sommelier…needless to say, it was simple, perfect and delicious.

lunch with Jess, Shona and Jacqeuline

Tonight, I got to cook! I made  pasta with pesto, steamed artichokes and more wine, always more wine.

spring artichokes for dinner

I think I will like it here just fine!