About a month ago, remember how I went on vacation to Stanford Sierra Camp? And how I had an awesome time and made some awesome arts/crafts projects? I came home with this stemless wine glass, and got so many compliments on it at camp that I lost track. But then I thought about the fact that we don’t have glasses in our new apartment in Boston, and I decided it was time to make some wine glasses.
One month later, I’ve completed all sixteen glasses. (Technically fifteen, since one was already finished) They take a while, but they’re a lot of fun and actually pretty simple.
Crate & Barrel Stemless White Wine Glasses, like those here.
Acrylic Paint. I used Martha Stewart’s Satin Acrylic Paint.
Q-tips. Brand name q-tips work better, but off brands can work too. You’ll get better results if your q-tip has a tightly wrapped tip – these will hold up to repeated use better.
Step 1. Pick a set of four colors. I found that the color combinations that appealed to me tended to be in similar colors, but had a bit more variation than the first glass I made.
Step 2. Clean the glass. My mom helped me with this step (by helped, I mean completed for me…) But I think she used a diluted bleach to really clean the glass.
Step 3. Flip the glass over and hold it upside down. You’ll be painting on the bottom and up the sides. Using one q-tip for each color, use five dots in a circle to make a single flower. I suggest practicing a bit on paper first to get a sense of how much pressure you need. Over time, I varied the size of my flowers (not intentionally…). It seems that larger flowers, in which you press down harder when making each dot, end up a bit smoother than the smaller flowers, which have little peaks in each dot. These peaks seem to be smaller and smaller as the paint continues to dry and I like both the smooth glasses and those with a bit more texture, so do whatever is easiest for you.
Step 4. Complete the first layer of flowers. Use the colors “randomly” – try to limit making two flowers side by side that are the same color. You’ll be making a second layer that partially overlaps the first, so don’t worry about covering all the space. The most important thing is to get the height you want on the glass. This is a bit difficult to measure, since you’re holding the glass upside down, and you can make the flowers go as high or as low as you want. I chose to have variation in the depth of the flowers so that it seems a little more like a pile of flowers. (This makes sense if you consider that my first glass was supposed to be of cherry blossom flowers, which often fall and form piles.) But you should do whatever you want. I painted my flowers deep enough to be visible with a normal pour of wine, so that it is easy to spot your color out of a table full of glasses, but I also kept them low enough that you’re never going to touch your lips to the (potentially poisonous) paint.
Step 5. Let dry. This only needs to be a superficial dry – 2 to 24 hours, depending on if the glass is in the summer sun or not.
Step 6. Complete the second layer of flowers. This layer will finish off the flowers. Look for spots that have a lot of a single color, and layer a flower of a different color there to break it up. Look for spots where flowers are abnormally far apart, and put an extra flower there to bridge the gap. This step is totally optional, but it adds depth and interest to the glasses.
Step 7. Let dry completely. This is the long boring part. The paint I used takes 28 days to dry completely, and then it will supposedly be dishwasher safe. I’m letting them dry for 28 days, then I’ll hand wash them and ship them to my new apartment and my almost-housemates.
Step 8. Enjoy! Pictures of this step will crop up here and there, I’m sure….
My third overnight in one week (read about #1 and #2) was a trip to Napa, aka California’s drunkest county. A friend of mine, Nichole, has an amazing relative, Tori, who owns a fantastic winery, Frog’s Leap. She was kind enough to invite us (Nichole, myself, and four other friends) to the annual Frog’s Leap Peach Festival, which is essentially their harvest kick-off celebration. For the price of your ticket, you get to eat as much food and drink as much wine (and peach-flavored beer) as you want. The light breeze was warm, and there were kids running around, and quaint little chalkboards with all the options at each tent listed. There was the tent where you could get corn with peach butter and ribs, the tent that had two different types of salad, each with peach vinaigrette, the tent with the three sliders (salmon, pulled pork, and roasted pepper; each with a peach sauce, of course.) And then there was the dessert tents: peach ice cream, peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream, deep fried peaches with cream. Let’s just say the food was fantastic. And then there were the wines…
Over the course of three hours, I tried all seven wines, and the peach beer. And I had four glasses of water. (Don’t worry, I was drunk, but actually not that badly. I guess all that drinking in Prague served me well.)
I started with the Sauvignon Blanc, which was probably my favorite of them all. It was light and refreshing and honestly felt more like I was quenching my thirst than I was drinking alcohol. I absolutely loved it. I ended up buying a bottle on our way out, and my dad said it was the best Sauvignon Blanc he’s ever had. He doesn’t drink all that much wine, so I don’t know if that carries any weight, but I loved and he loved it and it was totally worth it. So yeah.
I moved on to the Zinfandel, which was also great. One of my favorite two reds. I swear, these were not my favorites because they were first. I never got that drunk. The Zin went really well with the corn that I was having, and with the deep fried peach I had next. I bought a couple bottles of this one too to bring home, and it went well with the BBQ chicken, bell peppers, and pasta we had with it. I’d say it’s safe to say this Zinfandel pairs well with most any summer dinner.
Then came the Cabernet Sauvignon. It was good, but I’ve had better. Perhaps it was just overshadowed by the absolutely amazing sliders I was having at the time. Pulled pork with peach sauce on the right (amazing), smoked salmon with peach glaze in the middle (amazing), and pepper and mushroom with a peach truffle sauce not really pictured (absolutely amazing). But the wine was good too.
The Heritage Blend. This one was just okay. It tasted basically just like red wine without any distinct flavors, which makes sense, seeing as it is a mix of grapes. I didn’t like it that much, and was glad I was distracted by the scavenger hunt that we completed. It took us all over the main property, and we theoretically learned some stuff about the winery, but really we just used it as an excuse to get up and walk around. Plus, we were gunning for the basket of wines. We didn’t win, but that was okay, because it was actually a lot of fun.
And the Merlot. The Merlot was goooood. I like Merlots in general, and this one was better than a lot of Merlots that I’ve had. It pretty much tied the Zinfandel for my favorite of all the reds, although I bought Zinfandel and not Merlot to bring home because a Merlot seemed too heavy for outdoor barbecue. At least, this one did. But when I go to a restaurant and see this on the menu, I’ll definitely be getting a glass or two. By this point, we had tasted all the food, completed the scavenger hunt, and moved on to the photo booth. We had to wait in line. The above selfie happened.
Followed by the Petite Sirah. We were chilling out, chatting, and eating some more peach ice cream, which was the perfect blend of peach flavor and ice cream creaminess and generally tasty. The wine was good too. It was berry-y and full of flavor, but I think it would have been better if it had aged for a few years, or maybe a decade. You can see Elizabeth’s glass of peach iced tea, which was also tasty (I just had a sip.)
Finally, I finished off the wine selections with a glass of Chardonnay. It was sweet and smooth, like a Chardonnay should be. I didn’t like the Chardonnay as much as the Sauvignon Blanc, but I tend to not like Chardonnays as much as Sauvignon Blancs, so that doesn’t surprise me. But it was definitely a nice wine to finish the afternoon with, and it was nice to get Nichole into a photo, not like I had to ask…
Okay, not finally. And not really finished either. I grabbed a glass of the peach beer too on our way out. The party was over, but ours wasn’t… The beer was good, if not fantastic. (I’m spoiled. Thanks, Prague.) But it was good. I liked the peach flavor, and it went well with the peach ice cream I was finishing when I got the beer. It also went well with the burrito, which I got when I was finishing the beer. It seems to go well with most things.
When we walked in, Tori made us promise to be Frog’s Leap fans forever, and after this fantastic afternoon, I can certainly do that! We finished the evening on a small meadow on Frog’s Leap property, after driving past vineyards. We had a few more beers, a burrito, some s’mores, and slept under the stars. Or would have, had there been stars – it was cloudy. But the trip as a whole was AMAZING.
S Ashten letíme z Milano do Prahy. Byli jsme od 24.4 v Italii. Na tři dny a dve noci, jsme byli v Činke Tére. A na náš poslední den a noc, jsme byli v Janov. V Činke Tére, můžete vidět krásné modré moře. Fotografovala jsme moc, ale neplavala jsem protože moře bylo moc studené. Ale, jsme obě byly ve vodě. V Pátek, jsme jely na túru mezi Monterosso a Vernazza a v Sobotu jsme ležely 4 hodiny na pláži. Počasí v Neděli bylo špatně, ale to nevadí protože jsme cestovaly z Janov do Milano a potom z Milano do Prahy. My jsme jedli opravdu nejlepší jidlo. Měli jsme mnoho mořských poldů a moje nejoblíbené jidlo byl rak. Měla jsem taky dobrý salát a píly jsme vino každy den. S každé večeři, jsme píly láhev vína.
With Ashten, I am flying from Milan to Prague. We were in Italy from the 24th of April. For three days and two nights, we were in Cinque Terre. And for our last day and night, we were in Genoa. In the Cinque Terre, you can see the beautiful blue ocean. I took lots of photos, but I didn’t swim because the ocean was very cold. But, we both walked in the water. On Friday, we hiked between Monterosso and Vernazza and on Saturday we lounged for 4 hours on the beach. The weather on Sunday was bad, but it didn’t matter because we traveled from Genoa to Milan and then from Milan to Prague. We ate truly the best food. We had a lot of seafood and my favorite thing I had was crab. I also had a really good salad and we had wine every day. With each dinner, we had a bottle of wine.
We arrived in Paris from Prague at about 11:00, and actually got to where we were staying at a little after midnight. We stayed up too late looking at maps and talking about things to do, watched the Eiffel Tower glitter at 1am and then finally crashed around 2.
I got up early (I can’t help it – when I’m in a new city, all I want to do is explore!) and wandered around for about an hour. I didn’t go far, because I didn’t bring a map or my camera – I just wanted to wander and see what I saw. It was a weekday and I watched shopkeepers open their doors, roll up the window shades, and put out the morning’s first flowers. I really did get to see the city of Paris wake up, and it was wonderful.
When I got back to the apartment a bit after nine, I looked at the map, did a bit of research about what I wanted to do and the best ways to get there, and woke up Holly. We were in agreement – our first day would be a day to wander. So we ran down and around the corner to the bakery to pick up some pastries for breakfast (sorry, no pics! They were gone before the camera came out…) and then sketched out a plan courtesy of our map.
We started with a walk past the Peace Memorial to the Eiffel Tower, with a stop on the way to quite literally smell the roses. Once at our first destination, I made Holly take a cheesy tourist picture of me. But, as Claire reminded me on my birthday, I turned 21 in Paris, and that makes my life pretty awesome.
We walked underneath the Eiffel Tower and into a little park with a little pond at its base. In case you can’t tell, Mother Nature blessed me (and Paris!) with beautiful weather for my birthday. Blue skies, beautiful sun, and we looked French enough that multiple people spoke to us in French! (Not just bonjour, but actually asking us for directions or advice or who knows what? Neither of us speak any French…)
We continued our day by walking past the Louvre (see Day 2 for our visit to the Louvre), and on to Notre Dame. While at the Louvre, we laughed at the people with their fingers on the tip of the pyramid, and then pulled the same tourist stunt when Holly spun like Esmeralda just a few hours later.
On our way back from Notre Dame, we stopped at the Palace of Justice and Sainte Chapelle to look at the beautiful stained glass. (We skipped the line and didn’t have to pay and check out my post about cheating the system in Paris to find out how!)
We also made our way through one of Paris’ many shopping districts, even walking into some of the stores. At some, such as Gucci and Dolce e Gabbana, the store clerks (this sounds like such a crude way to describe them, but I really have to better explanatory word, although I could describe their impeccable hair and makeup and their beautiful clothes that looked like they had just come off the hangars…) were kind enough to say hello; at other, smaller names we were even asked if we would like to try something on. Needless to say, we did not. (What were we to do, if we fell in love with a $1,000 dress? Even though my parents said they’d buy me something from Paris for my birthday, I think that may have been a little much…)
At some point, we stopped for a crepe in the Tullieries for lunch, and then stopped at a random park – still not sure which one – around five to relax. Unfortunately, Holly got sunburnt, but that didn’t ruin the day or the weekend. We finished off the day by meeting Christine and Alessandra at the Opera House for a ballet performance by the students of the Paris Opera. It started out with adorable little kids, and quickly got frighteningly good – I’m pretty sure the 12 year olds were better than I ever was or could have been at ballet. And apparently, they all had the flu. But we also got to see the famous ceilings of the Opera building without having to wait in line or pay for it. (Well, we paid for the ballet tickets, but only 12 euros!)
Once we got back from the show, we had dinner on time by French time, at around 10 o’clock. It was wonderful (and super nice of Christine to make it for us!) and then followed by a birthday dessert of chocolate torte without the pastry or icing – so basically chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Which was great. We went to bed around 2.
Today is the day of the Louvre. The plan: go to the Louvre. Decide from there. Everyone talks about how big the Louvre is, and they’re absolutely right. But if you’re being honest, no matter how big you think it is, it is bigger than that. Take, for example, the Grand Gallery:
We spent four hours inside, which I think is more than enough for one day, and not enough to see anything. We missed the entire Egyptian wing, spent about three seconds considering trying to push through the crowd to see the Mona Lisa (decided not to), and noticed that the ceilings and floors are works of art in their own right. It was the King’s palace, after all.
After the Louvre (and lunch!) we continued our museum-ing and headed to Musee l’Orangerie. It was the only museum we waited in line for, though we got in for free (sense a pattern here?) and spent hours with Monet’s water lilies. They are truly incredible, and much bigger than I imagined.
If I’m being honest, I don’t like art. I never liked the art history classes I had to take, and I seem to recall a comment on a report card along the lines of, “Kathy would do well to apply herself to her art history classes as she does to her math.” (They were taught by the same teacher.) I think, however, if someone told me I must take an Art History class today, and that I could take a class on the Impressionists, I would be okay with that. I don’t like art, but I really like Impressionism. I guess you could say it makes an impression on me. (I’m sorry, I had to.)
Holly and I met Christine in the Luxembourg Gardens, which are beautiful, and then stopped for a glass of “spring beer,” which has a strangely fruity flavour. In the evening, we went to a very nice restaurant for my birthday dinner. Thanks, Daddy! Once again, the food was fantastic, and it came and went before pictures could happen. And it was after midnight by the time we got home, and we stayed up and talked for a while. You can probably guess what time we got to bed.
As I mentioned earlier, I love exploring new cities. I walk everywhere, and I tend to not stop. Somehow, new energy reserves spring up when I happen to be out of town. Unfortunately, I tired Holly out after two days, so I let her sleep in this morning and headed over to Musee d’Orsay for more Impressionism. And the Bareas! These guys were in Paris for Spring Break, and I was supposed to meet them at 9:30. But I was already on Paris time, and the chances of meeting up looked bleak. I skipped the line, got in for free, and headed upstairs to see my new favorite artists. Also, my old favorite artist: Degas.
Unsurprisingly, as a little girl who did ballet, I loved Degas. I loved his paintings, I loved his sculptures, and now I’ve seen them in real life. I think that might have been the best thing of my weekend. I mean, seeing Monet’s three paintings in blue, orange, and green and Renoir’s famous paintings of the dancing couples were pretty amazing too. (I actually remember these from my Art History class – maybe I’ve always secretly loved the Impressionists?)
As I came downstairs, I continued to look not only at the art, but also for the Bareas. For those of you who have never been to the d’Orsay, it has a huge atrium, essentially, open from the first floor to the fifth, and balconies of sorts on the second floor looking onto the atrium. I can’t really describe it, but the description is only important because I found the Bareas from across the museum. How do you get someone’s attention from across a museum? You can’t yell their name. You can’t even whisper it. So you just stare intently, and wave when they look your general direction. And it works!
So we found each other, continued exploring the museum until the kids got bored (they lasted a full 2 hours which, at ages 6 and 10, is pretty impressive) and then we went off to explore the city. We stopped for lunch, and I had salad. (A true rarity in the Czech Republic, so I’ll take all the greens I can get, thank you!) The grand plan was to visit the Catacombs, but the line was so long that we got straight back on the metro and went all the way across the city to the Basilica of Paris upon Montemarte, with a beautiful view of the city. We climbed up 396 stairs (Lucy counted for us), took some time to enjoy a drink in the beautiful weather, looked for a Kate Spade and discovered there is none in Paris, and generally had a good time. It was really nice to see more faces from San Mateo, although it made me want to head home.
I met up with Holly again in the evening, and we had a evening of snacking. First, at a café, I had real, French, crème brulee, which tasted about the same as other crème brulee. Then, we went to the Seine (with Christine and Alessandra again, of course!) to a tasting on a boat. We basically had a dinner of cheese and pate tastings, along with an essentially infinite number of tiny glasses of different wines.
Then, once night had fallen, we walked back to the Eiffel Tower to take a trip up and see the city at night. For once, we actually paid for admission (but the student price, and we walked, so not really…) Needless to say, the Eiffel Tower is gorgeous, but what really amazed me was the engineering of the thing. So much, that I’m giving it its own post.
I tired Holly out, and the Bareas tired me out, so we slept in on our last morning in Paris. Once we got up, we headed to a nearby market, where we bought pastries for breakfast and pineapple and cantaloupe for lunch before heading back to the apartment, grabbing our bags, and heading to the airport.
All in all, I’d say my 21st birthday weekend was truly amazing. I didn’t celebrate my 21st with a big night out on the town, which doesn’t surprise me, nor does it bother me. I’m not really that type of person anyways. Instead, I had an amazing weekend with good friends and I got to visit one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
…I barely had two liters of beer.
I definitely thought Oktoberfest was a giant beer drinking festival, but in reality it is a giant carnival. It makes every county fair I’ve ever been to look pathetically tiny.
Literally, dozens of roller coasters and bumper cars and every other type of ride imaginable. And all the crazy foods that go with such madness – including not only cinnamon coated doughnuts and warm chocolate and coconut coated almonds, but also pretzels literally twice the size of my head and roasted fish.
Technically, this madness is a wedding festival, celebrating the marriage of some German king to some beautiful lady. But in reality, it is a two week, three weekend excuse for Germany to shut down and party. There are about a dozen “tents,” each of which takes a couple months to build and a week to take down. My rough estimate is that each tent seats at least 2,000 people, and they probably cover not even a third of the fairgrounds. Oktoberfest is literally HUGE.
A lot of people said that going to Oktoberfest is an absolute must, that I’d be crazy to miss it. Others said that its basically a madhouse and I’d be crazy to attempt it. In reality, both parties are right, but it was totally worth it.
I went to Oktoberfest with Christine and Alessandra, who are friends currently living in Paris. Christine is good friends with my neighbor (they went to high school and studied abroad in France together), and Alessandra is just a few years younger than myself. They have friends, Misha and Sophie, who live in Munich and are ethnically Czech. Just to be confusing. Long story short, we got the real Munich tourist experience, courtesy of Misha and her friend, and got the inside scoop on how to do Oktoberfest right. Being with them also means that we actually had a table reserved in a tent Sunday afternoon, which is apparently a difficult feat. Anyways, we spent Saturday going around Munich itself – churches, fountains, German food and red wine for lunch, and Italian food and white wine for dinner.
The reality is that Oktoberfest was totally worth it. (Expensive, but totally worth it.) I fulfilled my new-country-of-the-month quota (because apparently the Czech Republic doesn’t count and we’re saying Denmark was in August) and I had a really great semester. I got over my homesickness, and had a really great experience. I got to see dozens of adorable German children, hundreds of German women in traditional dirndls, and one dog dressed like this:
So this weekend is still in the first three weekends of the program, which means we aren’t supposed to travel. In this case, its because of a day trip to Kutna Hora. Hearing stories about the trip, it seems like Kutna Hora is really interesting – they went to a silver mine and a traditional Czech restaurant and a church decorated with the bones of 40,000 peasants. I, however, did not go. Instead, we went to Znojmo, to a historical wine festival (Znojemske historicke vinobraní). (more…)