Felice Anno Nuovo da Turchia!

I started 2016 off like I never dreamed of before–in Istanbul, Turkey!


The view from our hotel window

This trip is the start of my best and final year of living in the continent that stole my heart, Europe.

While I’m not into absurdly unattainable New Year’s resolutions or following the new-year-new-me crowd into a gym, I will say that I have a simple promise to myself and to my family and friends reading this–I will be blogging a lot more this year. I have much to share about my experiences living in this wonderful country I call home, Italy.

So, here’s to endless adventures, spiritual journeys, reaching fluency in Italian, and potential orders to JAPAN! Cheers to 2016!

Next up? SWITZERLAND. Again!

Pura Vida Costa Rica!

The adventures continue!

I’m sitting in the terminal waiting to board my flight to Germany then off to SAN FRANCISCO! I don’t think it’s hit me that I’ll be visiting home for a few days. I’ll likely cry upon landing. As much as I love Europe and never want to leave, there is no place like the Bay Area.

This weekend, a large portion of my family will be traveling to Costa Rica for a week! This has been a much anticipated trip and I am so happy it’s finally here. I haven’t seen my family in 2 years! *squeal*

Quick update:

I haven’t posted anything in months because I’ve been extremely busy just living it up out here. I am so in love with Europe and am thankful everyday to be in Italy.

I have a thousand photos to share of past trips, including Morocco! If I find the time, I’ll share a few of my favorites!


Back packing…

through North Africa tomorrow! More specifically, MOROCCO.

For 8 days.

By m’self.

Maybe I’ll share my adventures, maybe I won’t. Sometimes, there are too perfect moments that don’t deserve to be captured with a camera but should remain locked in my memory. I have a feeling this is going to be a trip of a lifetime; like, camel trekking through the Sahara desert and staying in Berber tents while we play traditional drums underneath the universe. [Sigh] A dotted sky filled with shooting stars…

My wishes are already coming true.

A twist on making tie dye shirts!

Leilani – “Hey mom, I’m going to make tie dye shirts with some friends at the park.”

Me – “Ok, have fun!”

One hour later…

Me – ” Why does the shirt look more like a stain? And, (sniff) is that…?””

Leilani – “- we made it with wine!”

Those clever kids! There is clearly an abundance of wine here in Italy!

Proud sister moment!

I can’t find the words to describe how proud I am of my gorgeously talented sister in law, Alana.

I’ll just put this here.

…seriously? Narration? Riding a horse on a gorgeous beach? In slow mo? and sea foam on white sand? With some hot guy from the streets of Mexico!? Just. Chills.

I giggle at the thought of 5 or 6 years ago when we were in a recording studio somewhere in deep North Hollywood, recording one of her first songs, “Bubble Gum Point of View”. Which later became her first music video. Obviously, I have to share so you can see for yourself how far she has come.

And, oh God. She is a brilliant dancer, too. I am dying for the day she tells me she is going on tour as a backup dancer for the real Queen B – Britney Spears! Haha.

Ok, that’s enough from me. Just google her or sunthin’.

Love you, sissy!

I present to you…

drum roll, please…



Because I really don’t want to go into detail about this project – and it will take far too long – like I did with the Mona Lisa, I’ll just list the facts:

– It took me a month to create this masterpiece. If I didn’t count the long period of waiting for shipments of crafts or days where I had tons of school work, the costume would have taken me 2 weeks to complete.

– The entire house was made out of 5 Elmer’s white project display boards. I used over 150 glue sticks and went through 2 hot glue guns, a roll and a half of strong duct tape, 200 popsicle sticks and 5 cans of spray paint.

– The whole house weighed around 8 pounds. It wasn’t heavy. We got asked this question hundreds of times on Halloween night.

– It was a little over 3 feet tall and the garden was 2.5 feet wide.

– Leilani was in full Alice in Wonderland costume underneath the house. She wore a cosplay/anime wig that looked completely real. I didn’t manage to get a picture of it =(

– My mother in law sent me a bunch of things from Michael’s, my favorite crafting store. So, I was able to add amazing details like the potion bottle!

– We got stopped countless of times where people complemented us and took hundreds of pictures of Leilani.

– The best part – my favorite part – of this costume was the music playing. People got a kick out of it.

– One older lady asked, “What is she?”, I said, “she’s Alice stuck in White Rabbit’s house.” She looked at me with a puzzled look then says, “Ah, yes! Someone took the wrong PILL!” She meant…cookie. Ha! (only funny if you get it)

– Building this costume was never a chore, never a hassle. I enjoyed every minute of it because I love crafting and I love a challenge. I want to live in this moment with my daughter and make this an unforgettable memory of her childhood. Also, she’s 8. I only have 5 years before she’s a teenager and her cuteness escapes her!

– Most of you will think I’m a fool to even mention the following but I must state this regardless:

I do not agree with the subliminal messages in Alice in Wonderland (or any Disney movie for that matter). Lewis Carroll was an odd man who liked being in the presence of young girls (Alice is the name of a girl he was fond of). And, needless to say, the emphasis on drug use is apparent throughout to those of us who are aware with an open mind and who refuse to be fooled into thinking that the movie or novel is a place for imagination and magic. The movie portrays a number of messages that enforce class struggle, gender roles, and drug use.

I’ll stop right there. This is a controversial topic because it’s….”Disney”! and no one wants to believe it.

Anyway, for all purposes of an epic costume, I chose to create it because I appreciate the art and it was something that allowed me to display my creativity. Of course I felt a little guilty knowing very well what type of message is being sent to children all over the world. But, I briefly talked to Leilani about how I don’t particularly like Disney movies like I once did. This is why we haven’t watched TV in 2 years and have no clue what new movies are out in theaters.

“But, Candice! Don’t you go to Disneyland a lot?”

Yes. I did. But, I never walk into Disneyland leaving my beliefs behind in the parking lot. I like that Disneyland is a place full of positive emotion, songs, and fun rides that give you an adrenaline rush, but I will never turn a blind eye to what’s blatantly in front of me. I’ll admit, I’ve just recently, in the past few years, have become anti-Disney. But it IS difficult to ignore the most famous motion picture production company in the world because it is all around us. It’s all I knew growing up and it’s what I sought for comfort. But knowing what I know now, I refuse to let my daughter grow up as if nothing is happening and Disney is all about magic and “making dreams come true”.

Have you ever asked yourself, “this is just too good to be true?” That’s because it is. I always knew how the princesses made such terrible role models. Their beauty and soft spoken, singing voices are all a facade behind the underlying message; which is why I absolutely hate when people refer to little girls as princesses. I can’t stand when my husband calls my daughter a princess.

I would love to go on about this subject but it’s difficult when most people don’t want to hear it because it sounds too ridiculous to be true, and people bash you when we have a right to our own opinions. This can be a debate, not an argument. You can email me if you are curious and want to hear my views on this further. All that matters is, I can distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. My daughter will not grow up to be brainwashed.

With all of that aside, this project was fun to create. Now, what to be next year is the question. Feel free to give me ideas!