Italian for Beginners by Kristin Harmel

italian I picked up this novel at the library book sale last year, based primarily on the title, cover art, and summary that a lady in her mid-30s is off to Rome on a whim. I haven’t had the best luck with $1 novels from the book sale, but this one was AMAZING!

Cat Connelly is stuck in her life, even though she doesn’t feel like she is. A messed up childhood has left her feeling responsible for her father and sister, even though she’s nearly 35. After meeting a nice guy at her sister’s wedding who is NOT what she thought, she’s convinced to take a month off and head to Rome. It gets a little Roman Holiday from there (or so I’m told since I’ve not seen the film), but it does make me want to hop a plane tomorrow!

I enjoyed Cat finding out the truth of her family situation, finding her new passion, and meeting good people who help her with all of the above. As someone who is planning a trip to one of my parents’ childhood countries (though no traumatic event is inspiring it!), it made me excited to explore a new place and see if maybe I might fit there too.

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Tribute to Londonist Out Loud

“Hello hello! You’re listening to the sound of London. This is Londonist Out Loud.”

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of an Anglophile. A year ago yesterday, I was looking for the London Walks podcast in preparation of my upcoming trip to London over spring break. However, while searching iTunes, I found that Londonist.com had their own podcast. I downloaded the latest episode and gave it a listen. Look Up! gave me two new obsessions – this podcast and Katie Wignall’s Look Up London blog/Instagram/walking tours. It had never occurred to me to listen to a walking tour of a place of I wasn’t currently in, but I was immediately in love. I could picture some of things she mentioned as I walked home from work and made notes of things I wanted to look up. I immediately downloaded as many episodes as I could from the back catalog to bring London with me wherever I was.

So imagine my disappointment when the podcast stopped updating at the end of January. And then last weekend, there was this tweet:

To say I’m devastated that the show has ended just as I’ve finally caught up is putting it mildly. I understand that things happen and shows end, but I was just not prepared. And given that I’ve canceled my plans to go abroad for my vacation this year due to uncertainty at home, losing this connection to my favorite city in the world is really hard. So this is my small way of saying thank you to Londonist, N Quentin Woolf and all the people involved in making this my favorite podcast (even if I only discovered you a year ago).

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What I’m Looking Forward To This Year

Today’s Challenge prompt makes me think of all the places I want to go. I logged into TripIt yesterday and saw that screen. It’s been such a long time since I didn’t have a trip on the horizon. So of course, I started planning! Continue reading

Happiness Is…

Today’s prompt is “Happiness Is” and my first thought was that I could finally finish this draft of a post about my visit to Neverland with my mom back in January. There’s a lot of ways I could answer that prompt (watching the sunset over the ocean, a really good hug, when the Giants win the World Series), but watching Matthew Morrison sing and dance his heart out from the front row is up there. Continue reading

A Night with Matthew Morrison: “Finding Neverland” preview (March 18, 2015)

It’s been six weeks since I experienced Neverland, so I guess it’s time I finally tell you all about it!

A couple months ago, I realized that the first week of previews for Finding Neverland coincided with Spring Break at work, so I made a decision to fly out to New York for a few days to see the show and finally hear Matthew Morrison sing live. I was a little disappointed that no one was able to come with me, but it did enable me to buy a 3rd row ticket, so I couldn’t be too mad! Continue reading