7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 7)

Happy Friday to you all! I am just so spoiled, we had both Wednesday and Thursday off of classes due to the Italian Labor day and the fact that my professor’s wife just had a baby! Woo! Elizabeth Irene. What a precious gem. We always have Fridays off so we get a 5 day weekend this week. “When in Rome” I guess…

1. Today we took a group trip to Capri. I was just there two weeks ago, but it is so stunning I didn’t mind. Today was 80+ and sunny, just perfect. It is very touristy, especially for Americans–so we were able to converse with a lot of people. Also, the area of Capri and the Amalfi Coast are known for their lemons and Limoncello alcohol. I really don’t care for the alcohol, but today we tried it in a frozen slushy form-that was awesome!

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This is the “Blue Grotto.” The water is totally illuminated and colored by the sun.

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We took a boat tour around the island and that little archway is called the “Kissing Cave.” Newlyweds traditionally go there and kiss for good luck on a long marriage.

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This was the view from above from Anacapri to Capri. The land form to the left and in the background is the mainland of Italy.

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We took a chair lift to the top of a mountain and this was the view.

2. Have you heard of the website “Encouraged“? I just came across it, and it’s kind of like an online magazine with just a bunch of really great articles on the life of a woman. It still surprises me that so many initiatives are either being formed or are continuing to be sustained in order to build women up and affirm their femininity and holiness. What a gift!

3. My friends and I are obsessed with these series of YouTube videos: Kids Snippets. You’ve got to check them out. Here is Drivers Ed, but Basketball Class and Math Class are also hilarious:

4. Did you see the “modesty” guidelines ABC sent out for the Grammy’s? What do you think?

CBS Program Practices advises that all talent appearing on camera please adhere to Network policy concerning wardrobe.

Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could  possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible “puffy” bare skin exposure. Please avoid commercial identification of actual brand name products on T-shirts. Foreign language on wardrobe will need to be cleared. OBSCENITY OR PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST. This as well, pertains to audience members that appear on camera. Finally, The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on talent’s wardrobe be avoided. This would include lapel pins or any other form of accessory.

5. Today was my deadline for an article about “May the Month of Our Mother”  for the local newsletter “Heart of the Matter.” I’ll keep you posted when it is published but until then, check out the other articles in Heart of the Matter, including a couple by my brother, and consider contributing!

6. Monday was the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. Her head is in Siena but the rest of her remains are in Rome. It was so wonderful to spend some time praying with her at her tomb on the anniversary of her birth into eternal life. I was also happy to see so many people visiting St. Catherine’s tomb. I also happened to be there at the perfect time to go to Mass in English. That was just an extra special gift.

7. Have you seen the movie “Pitch Perfect?” I don’t really like most of it, but my favorite part is the “rap battle” half way through. I think the main character has a really beautiful voice, so for fun my friend and I made a cover for my brother who I miss of a song in the movie. Enjoy!

*If you are visiting from the Conversion Diary link-up, welcome and stop by often!*

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 6)

Happy Friday! We are so blessed to be alive. Just sayin’…

1) Last weekend my dad came to visit me! I met him on the Amalfi Coast (Southern/Mid part of Italy) and we spent the weekend soaking up the sun and beautiful scenery. We also took a day trip to Capri (which I get to go back to in a couple weeks)! Capri was absolutely the most beautiful place I’ve been. Ireland was awesome, but this was a different kind of beautiful. My dad the photographer is the bomba-check these bad boys out:

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The view of Positano, where we stayed. The dome of the Church is the little Cathedral, Santa Maria D’Assunta.

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This was also in Positano, on a little hidden beach at sun-down.

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I thought this was a really fun door. But this always happens-I’ll go hiking with my dad so I wear comfy clothes and he likes to take lots of pictures. First World problems…

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A beach in Capri- the water was SO clear!

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The view from our terrace at dusk.

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Just off the coast of Salerno.

2) Here’s my outfit pic of the day. Another friend, Emily Brom, took these ones. I’m so Blessed to have amazing photographers in the house, I have no idea what I’m going to do this summer! :/

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Top: Unionbay (kids), Necklace: Charlotte Russe, Capris: Old Navy, Sandals: Candies

3) Monday is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena! ♫Celebrate good times, come on!♫  Her head is in Siena, but the rest of her body is here in Rome. Guess where I will be on Monday?

4) I have just finally gotten on board with Twitter. I was trying to hold out because a) I didn’t understand the point and b) I didn’t want to get addicted like I am to facebook. But I really like seeing what articles people share. Here is one I came across yesterday: “It’s Time for Better Women’s Magazines” I really like the idea of choosing a variety of body types for models. I learned by watching the “Killing Me Softly IV” documentary that the stereotypical model body type is a body type, but that only represents less than 2% of the female population. I think that’s a problem.
Do you know of any solid magazines for women? I love these ones:
Verily Magazine, Eliza Magazine, Radiant, Bow & Arrow

5) I came across a lot of really awesome Christian yet bangin’ beats songs yesterday. Check these out!



6) Speaking of music. I love to sing. And sometimes I get prideful and like to show off. And sometimes I get selfish and shy and don’t want to share. But I think I made a break through this week. I was asked to Cantor at Mass the other day, and it went really well. It was difficult because I don’t know how to read music, and it was Gregorian Chant. But I had awesome and patient teachers, and I was so glad to be able to give my gift back to the Lord. Holla!

7)  I have some ridiculously exciting fashion-related news that I will be revealing soon. Stay tuned! 🙂

**If you are visiting from Conversion Diary, welcome, and stop by often!**

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 5)

1. Last week I was MIA with all posts because it was our Spring Break. The Triduum and now Easter in Roma has been glorious. The weather is warming up (the sandals and capris are finally seeing the light of day) and everyone is cheerful and upbeat.

2. First on our itinerary for our Spring Break was Ireland. Before we left I kept joking with everyone “I’m afraid to go because I might not want to come back!” Boy, was I right. One of my brother’s best friends from college moved to Ireland to become a priest, and he is now in the diocese of “Tuam” which is just north of Galway. He played host for us for the 3 days we were there.

The first day he picked us up, showed us Galway and brought us to an amazing restaurant for lunch, then we went back to the place we stayed (a little nun’s house). This house was cozy and quiant and had a fireplace which the five of us girls snuggled up to with tea at least twice a day. That evening we went out for Irish Mexican food, go figure, and we finished the night off at a local pub with local musicians. Perfection.

The second day Fr. Shane organized a pilgrimage for our group, along with about 10 high school students from his parish’s youth group to the Aran Islands for the day. It was so wonderful to interact with the Irish Locals, particularly young people. Part of “Leap Year” was filmed on the Aran Islands, and it was the stereotypical Ireland we were yearning to see: rolling green hills with stone fences built by hand, huge cliffs and carribean blue waters. We had Mass on the Island and got to partake in some wonderful food.

Cathedral of Tuam, where Fr. Shane is.

The third day was the best: Father picked us up in Galway after shopping most of the day, drove us out by his family, and he took us to the town where “The Quiet Man” was filmed. After sun down on the drive home in rural country, we stopped in the middle of a field to see the most spectacular night sky of stars any of us had ever seen. Because we had an early flight the next morning, we stayed up and watched “The Quiet Man” with tea in front of the fireplace.
Not to mention it was sunny and didn’t rain all three days. What stuck out to me most was that everyone we met was amazing and so hospitable to us. The Irish welcomed us like we were their own family. All in all I’d say our visit to Ireland was not too shabby.

3. Near Galway is the area called “Claddagh,” the home of the Claddagh ring, so clearly I had to get one! My intention for this ring was partly aesthetics,  it’s really sweet lookin’, and partly relationship-wise. I wear it facing out which signifies that my heart is open, but at the same time, the Lord is king of my heart. Check out my previous blog on “Purity Rings” here!

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Epic pictures taken by my roommate Emily Hoffmann.

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4. After Ireland we were off to Poland. We flew in to Katowice on Thursday and planned to make it up to Czestahowa to see the “Polish Madonna” but we missed the last train and later found out that some of our fellow classmates had lots of troubles up there so we decided to nix it from the itinerary. We traveled to Krakow instead and the next day we visited Auschwitz and the Salt Mines. Walking around the camps, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and it was really sobering to see the living conditions to say the least. We were able to see the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe was, and a couple guys really like him so they really appreciated that.

Next we went to the Salt Mine just outside of Krakow which was a lot of fun. Our tour guide was hilarious (actually, we have been so Blessed to have top notch tour guides everywhere this trip, the Auschwitz guide was especially knowledgeable and helpful, and she has only been on the job for a year, and she looked like she just graduated college)!
Again, it didn’t work out to go to Wadowice, the home of the late Pope John Paul II as the home and museum are under renovation, or Rapka where my great-grandfather was from. At least knowing where my great grandpa was from was a great bit of trivia to pull out with all the locals 😉
So you may be wondering, what did we do if we didn’t get to all those places? Eat. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the food! Pierogis, Zurek soup, kababs, alcohol, and the desert was to die for! Finally, we finished our trip off at the Shrine of Divine Mercy a little outside Krakow on Divine Mercy Sunday! It was so cold (there was a little less than a foot of snow on the ground) and packed with people, but it was a great experience. The Polish music was stunning!
There were a couple of times when I thought “Man, I am so excited to go home and tell Grandma about my experience, she will be so proud of me!” It very quickly escapes my mind that she died this past January. It was a real gift to get to Poland, I kind of feel like I went “for” her, and it was like being at home when I could recognize and say Polish phrases that she would always say.

5. Here are a couple fun bragging links: My sister and her family were chosen to be the face of Huggies! You can see them on YouTube here (She is the one with the green&white checkered shirt). Also, I sometimes write for a monthly newsletter that is distributed in Coffee Shops around the Twin Cities and here is an article I wrote on True Freedom.

6. Yesterday we had an awesome opportunity to go to a private screening here in Rome of a new film “Little Boy.” It is by the creators of “Bella”, and has some overlapping actors with “Bella” as well. It’s about an eight year old boy who’s dad goes off to WWII and what the boy goes through to try to get him back. There are some pretty great actors, Kevin James from King of Queens and Hitch, the brother-in-law from Hitch Michael Rapaport, David Henrie from Wizards of Waverly Place, Ted Levine, and Tom Wilkinson among others. Also, really fun fact: We sat right in front of Ali Landry, she was Miss USA 1996, in Bella and Little Boy and once married to Mario Lopez but now she is married to the writer of Bella and Little Boy. I feel special. The movie is definitely a tear jerker–so be on the look out for it when it comes to theaters in the US, and let me know what you think!

7. Finally, today we all threw a surprise baby shower for our professor’s wife! It was a perfect day to celebrate a new life on the rooftop terrace of our house, eat delicious food and play ridiculous yet ridiculously entertaining games. No tears were shed until Mrs. Rota opened the gift of a bib from Medjugorje with a picture of Mary on it. We are so Catholic.

**If you are visiting from the link-up with Conversion Diary and Camp Patton, welcome, and come back soon!**

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 4)

Happy A Solemn Good Friday to you! We’re in the home stretch, y’all, until we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, but until then we must remember His Passion, suffering and Death.

1) Today marks the first day the Novena of Divine Mercy should be recited leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday. Here is a super brief synopsis, but you should look elsewhere for a more in depth story/explanation: Our Lord appeared to Sr. Faustina and told her to have the image she saw painted. Jesus also said that we should venerate the image and recite the words “Jesus, I trust in you,” and celebrate His Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter. A group of us will be going to Krakow, Poland to be there for the Feast of Divine Mercy! Woot woot!

2) This past week I had a true Roman experience: a haircut. The Italians, specifically men but lots of women as well, always have their hair in tip top shape, so I decided to give it a go. The guy didn’t speak English, which I somewhat expected so I made sure to bring in pictures. It was fun and I think it turned out great! (PS. This is an action shot, I didn’t end up with a mohawk)!

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3) On Wednesday, a group of us completed a traditional “7 Church Walk” throughout Rome. In the footsteps of St. Philip Neri, we started at St. Mary Major and continued to walk about 20 miles total to the 6 other “Pilgrim Churches” around Rome, finishing at St. Peter’s Basilica. We saw a lot of Rome we hadn’t seen before, and at times it didn’t even seem like we were still in Italy, much less Rome. The saying amongst the group was “You know you have it good when you walk up to St. Peter’s and feel like you’re home.”

4) My brother came and visited me this week. We didn’t do much site-seeing, mostly just ate meals together, as he also studied in Rome during his time in college. He asked what I would most miss about Rome when I move back to the States, and the answer was definitely seeing the bodies/bones/relics of so many saints. Learning about, following their examples and almost literally walking in their footsteps has been awe-inspiring. On our 7 Church walk on Wednesday alone, we saw the tombs of St. Paul, St. Sebastian, St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, Blessed Pope John Paul II along with many other popes, and relics of St. Jerome, the manger, the true cross, the crown of thorns, a nail from Christ’s passion. Yesterday we went on another Church walk to visit 8 altars of repose after the Last Supper Mass, and saw the tombs of St. Philip Neri and St. Catherine of Siena. I know, unbelievable. We are so blessed!

5) My good friend recently introduced me to “The Staves.” They are three sisters with incredible voices and music. Check them out here. Also, have you seen this article? It’s a great take on modesty from the secular/fashion perspective. Aww yeah.

6) I have recently really gotten interested in reading scripture for the stories, ever since I was exposed to Ignatian Spiritual Exercises that the Jesuits practice. (What up Papa Francesco!) I thought it would be really sweet to read the Gospels in order of the Passion. For example, yesterday I read about Jesus’ time in Gethsemane  and the Last Supper. Today I will read the Passion and watch Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, tomorrow I will read about the Guard at the Tomb, and Sunday about the Resurrection!

7) I just found out about this initiative called “Pure Beauty Project.” The fact that so many initiatives are being started, and are thriving, in response to the lack of care and respect toward women is very telling: that women are recognizing this injustice. Amen sistas. What’s beautiful about this project in particular is that it very much reaches women in industries that are very much apart of the culture and caught up in the lifestyle that pretty much by it’s nature disrespects the feminine genius. (Have I said much too many times yet)? Check it out fo yoself! Do you know of any others that you really like? (ex. Dove Campaign, Made in His Image, Verily Magazine, etc).

Have a Blessed Triduum! Do you and your family have any traditions for the Triduum/Easter?

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 3)

Yup, it’s Monday. Va bene.

1. Well everyone, we have a new Pope. Yeah buddy. Check out my posts about Papa Benedetto and Papa Francesco. It’s been a busy week and a half to say the least.

2. A couple weeks ago we went to Siena as a whole program. Initially I was really excited to see all the sites associated with St. Catherine, but once we got there I wasn’t that impressed. The Churches weren’t as beautiful as I was expecting, her incorruptible head was really weird, and I didn’t really feel a connection to her. HOWEVER, the best moment thus far happened when we were in Siena.  We were able to adore some “incorruptible” hosts that were a result of a Eucharistic miracle. It was so beautiful and definitely an influential point on my journey thus far.

3. Last Friday we went to see Mumford and Sons in Florence. It was definitely a stereotypical college groupie road trip in a foreign country. We hopped on a train. Didn’t know where we were going. Stood in line for half the day. Didn’t know who the opening bands were. Were surrounded by drunk juveniles. Screamed, danced and jumped our little hearts out. Crashed. And left the city within 24 hours. The mosh pit was a little too much for my taste, but seeing this band perform live was worth it. The guys are so genuine and sincere in performing the songs and lyrics, they are so talented, and they were very interactive with the crowd.

4. The next day we met the rest of our group in Bologna for a field trip with our Art History professor Dr. Liz Lev. You might recognize her from her interview on the Vatican Home page or her work as the Rome correspondent for NBC during the Conclave. Yes I just shamelessly name dropped. She is originally from Boston but has been in Rome for a good 20 years now, and she did her undergrad at the U of Bologna, so she seemed like she was “home.”

5. Tuesday was both the Solemnity of St. Joseph and Pope Francis’ Installation Mass. It was in St. Peter’s Square and the most beautiful Mass I have ever attended. There were no chairs, so that was rough, but the liturgy itself was stunning. The prayers by the new Holy Father were just so heart-felt and SO Catholic! And, I don’t know how this keeps happening, but the weather was gorgeous and sunny yet again for a Papal Event outside. Awesome.

6. Sunday we were able to attend Mass for Palm Sunday with Pope Francis again in St. Peter’s Square. This time we had chairs, thank goodness. This Mass was a little harder to enter into, as we sat very far from the Altar, and there were people around us who were not the most reverent (talking, answering cell phones, smoking, yelling at us for placing our apples on the ground…etc.) But again, the Vatican hands out these like 75 page high gloss booklets with the translation of the Mass in multiple languages, and it’s so beautiful to read along and share in this experience with people from all over the world.

7. We are on Spring Break and I’m gearing up for a restful, preparatory week until the Triduum, and then a hectic awesome week in Ireland and Poland. Woohoo!

**If you are visiting from the link-up from Conversion Diary, welcome, and stop by again soon!**

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 2)

An incredible amount of events have happened this past week, both related to The Pope’s resignation and not, but I would be doing you all an incredible disservice if I didn’t recount on this incredibly historic week related to our Dear Papa Bene emeritus, so that will come tomorrow, but for today, the other stuff:

1) On Saturday a large group of us went to Assisi. We saw so much there! First we were able to have Mass at San Damiano, the church St. Francis rebuilt, as well as where St. Clare lived and died. We also saw Santa Chiara, the basilica built in honor of St. Clare which now holds her body and many relics. Santa Chiara is now also the home of the San Damiano cross, the cross from which Our Lord spoke to St. Francis commanding him to rebuild His church. Finally, we saw the Basilica of St. Francis which too was built in honor of St. Francis, and holds his body. We saw the remains of the home St. Francis grew up in–did you know at one point his father imprisoned him in a little hole in the wall? It reminded me of Harry Potter’s room under the stairs… We were also able to see the Church that was built to encompass another Church St. Francis built, and the little hut he lived and died in. Talk about history. It was an incredibly dreary day, it was very cold and poured the entire day, yet Assisi is so beautiful and such a change of pace from Rome that we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. My dear niece  Clare Frances, was the beneficiary of many prayers and a Mass that day 🙂

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Basilica of St. Francis

Olive Trees outside San Damiano

Olive Trees outside San Damiano

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San Damiano Cross

2) Sunday was the Holy Father’s last  Angelus. I didn’t make it there, but here are some pictures from a friend who did: it was estimated there were about 200,000 people there.

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3) A big doing during Lent is “Station Churches.” Each morning during Lent a particular Church in Rome hosts an English Mass at 7am. Each day it’s a different priest, and often times the Masses are held in Churches that are only open for the public on this one day throughout the year. On Monday our chaplain was the presider, so he asked us to put together a choir to sing. We mostly sang Gregorian chants. I don’t know how to read music, and have never been in an organized choir so my fellow altos have been so great and helpful. This has been great to get to see Churches I wouldn’t normally travel to, and it has been fun to see the same people at Mass each day.

4) Wednesday was the Pope’s last audience, so a bunch of us got up at 2am to get in line. It was a great way to start my 21st birthday. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was stunning, the sun was shining and I even got sunburn on my nose! We spent the morning with 200,000 of our closest family members from all over the world and all walks of life. We had a leisurely afternoon on the terrace of our house, soaking in that Roman sun. In the evening, we had another Community Night complete with Adoration, confession, Evening Prayer, Mass and birthday cake. To conclude the perfect day, the women were called into an impromptu meeting in the lounge. I had no idea what it was for, and they surprised me with a new pair of pants from GAP, the very ones I had been eyeing every time we walked by for the last two weeks. They know me so well!

5) Thursday was full of many tears: both of joy and sorrow. It was the final day of Pope Benedict’s time and we said our final goodbyes. First we watched his helicopter depart from St. Peter’s, then we gathered in St. Peter’s Square for a prayer vigil during the final hour of his pontificate. Our large and boisterous group as Americans drew a crowd, both of other faithful Christians who joined us in our prayer as well as many members of different media organizations. It was pretty frustrating to have photographers and video cameras in our faces as we were trying to pray, yet part of us is glad we were able to be at least a small witness as young, devoted Catholics. We finished off the night at an Irish Pub, with beers all around to toast our Papa.

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6) We don’t have any classes on Fridays so we just get to catch up on e-mails, blogs, sleeping and shopping. My kind of day. Here are the pants my girls gave me for my birthday 🙂

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Glasses: Zenni Optical, Top: Unionbay, Necklace: Thrifted, Pants: Gap, Belt: H&M, Tennies: Target

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7) Tomorrow we are headed to Siena for a day trip with our entire group. I am particularly excited to see the head of St. Catherine of Siena, my patron saint. The rest of her body is here in Rome. St. Catherine, pray for us!

**If you are visiting from the link-up from Conversion Diary, welcome, and stop by again soon!**

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 1)

I am linking up today for the first time with “7 Quick Takes Friday.” My stylist mentioned she publishes her blog posts Fridays and Mondays so as to keep it up and stay consistent. Hopefully my Friday and Sunday vow will keep happening!

1) Every semester a professor from our home school comes with the students to Rome to live with us and teach one course. Our professor and his new wife and two daughters arrive today! We are all so excited to have this couple, but perhaps moreso to have CHILDREN because there is such a shortage of them here in Roma. And if that wasn’t enough, the new Mrs. Rota is also expecting in April! So we will soon have a BABY in the house!

2)Confession:  I have had Burger King two times while I have been here. (Don’t tell my brother!) One time was an accident (I walked around for an hour and half looking for a place to eat and then I gave in) and the second time was planned because the first time was so good. What is also really odd, is that those two meals were the most expensive meals I have bought. My parents taught me frugality well.

3)On Wednesdays we have our community night and the dress is semi-formal. Since I didn’t bring any semi-formal clothing, I have opted to business cas, which always seems to lean toward cas because I didn’t bring any dressy shoes. Dumb.

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Glasses: Zenni Optical, Top: Rainbow, Necklace: Shabby Apple, Skirt: Forever 21, Tennies: Target

4) Every week for Community Night we have esteemed guests over to the house for a great meal and this week we had four sisters from the Little Sisters of the Lamb. They are so joyful, so humble, and it was amazing how diverse they were. One was from Poland, one from France, one from Italy and one from Austria. It was also very unsettling for us all that the sisters beg door to door for their food for every meal, and yet for dinner we had our plates full with opportunities for seconds.

5) Yesterday we saw a ton (and by a ton I mean hundreds) of big guys walking around in green jerseys and scarves, with a beer in each hand. Can you guess who we saw? If you guessed die-hard German futbol fans, you guessed correctly. They filled the entire Spanish Steps and the whole Piazza di Spagna below. It was quite a sight.

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This picture is of a bunch of Germans, on the Spanish steps, that were made by the French, in Italy, taken by an American. Talk about diversity.

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6) This week I learned I like cherry tomatoes, but not gnocchi in pesto sauce.

7) Today we went to Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Holla! Now we’re all going out to a pub to eat meat because it’s a Solemnity in Roma!

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This isn’t actually the “chair.” But it seems as though Italy has a tradition to dress up the statue of a Saint/depiction of Christ on the Feast day.