Sunday, March 25, 2012

Duomo (Florence, Italy)

Duomo is located in Florence, Italy, which is a gorgeous city. It also has some fantastic gelato (I had chocolate mousse and coconut gelato while I was there). The city's flower is the Fler-de-Lis, and they are well known for their leather-making. They were home to the famous D'Medici family. (Not sure if I spelled that right).

This church is old, and like many old churches, it has a baptistry across from it. (The baptistry is the round thing above.) Way back when, you weren't allowed to enter the church unless you were baptised, which is why the baptistry is a separate building. On the front of this building used to be the gates of paradise, a historical piece of artwork. It has since been replaced with a replica (pictured) and the real thing has been moved to a place where it can't be affected by weather or pigeons.

This sign shows that the church was commissioned by a cardinal (hence the green cap). If it has been commissioned by the pope, it would have the pope's hat and the shield would have keys on either side.

The dome itself was build to compete with another city- Florence wanted a big and better church. The church itself is the third largest in the world, and I believe the dome is the largest dome in the world. Even more impressive, it was built from the bottom up, since they didn't have fancy cranes and such when it was built.

The church itself is pretty, but my companions and I didn't like it very much. It was obviously just built for show and not to be a real church. Most churches that allowed tourists in at least had an area where you could sit down and pray. This didn't exist at all in this church. There was no where where we could stop and pray, which led us to leave and seek out a smaller church a bit away.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stuffed Owl and Prayer Journal

Happy Funky Friday! I have two crafts to share with you today.

The first one is a simple prayer journal - it doesn't look as nice as it could, but I hope you guys like it. I found a $1 journal at Michaels, and covered it in "inspirational" paper, which has churchy-type words all over it. Because I couldn't find any good faith-based stickers, I wrote the word "Pray" in cursive and added a sticker. Simple, but a great place to journal my prayers.

The second craft is a stuffed out I made for a friend for her birthday. The tutorial is below, but I must warn you, I don't really know how to sew. =P

The finished product

What you need:
Orange Felt

First, sketch out the shape you want for your owl. Since I had big buttons, I made a bigger owl. I also had fun choosing fabric from the remnants rack at JoAnne's.

 Second, cut out two of your owl forms.

Pin them together so that the "good" side of the fabric is in the middle.
** I would sew the eyes on before pinning, because that would be easier. I just didn't think ahead. **

And sew them together, except the bottom. If you know how to sew, I would use a different stitch... this one didn't work that well.

Turn the owl inside out and stuff.

Sew the bottom shut

I added eyes at this point, but I would add the eyes before sewing so it's easier.

Add a felt beak, and voila! You're done. If desired, you could also add felt feet.

(For size perspective)

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Although I was required to read this for a class, I really enjoyed this book! I got sucked in pretty quickly and couldn't put it down. The book is about a boy named Antonio who struggles with balancing his Catholic roots and Hispanic culture with the Native American culture in his community. He tries to decide who to become - a priest like his mother wishes, a farmer like his father wishes or something completely different, guided by the family's guest, Ultima. The story is charming and really hit home for me, being a Catholic myself. (Not that it pushes Catholic ideals - rather, I felt connected to the Catholic culture). The book follows Antonio through his young childhood for most of his elementary school years.

One of my favorite lines/sections of the book is when Antonio and all the boys in his class try to re-enact a nativity scene. There has been a blizzard, so only the boys showed up to school that day.

"..and even most of the town kids stayed home. But Horse and Bones and the rest of the gang from Los Jaros were there. They were the dumbest kids in school, but they never missed a single day. Hell could freeze over but they would still come marching across the tracks, wrestling, kicking at each other, stomping into the classrooms where they fidgeted nervously all day and made things miserable for their teachers."

Isn't that so true! The "trouble-makers" will always be at school no matter what, but the "good" kids are absent every once in a while. (Just for the record, I love all of my students, "trouble-makers" or not). This excerpt is followed by a hilarious attempt by the boys and the teacher present a nativity scene.

If you desire to read a "classic" or chicano fiction, this is the book for you! Although tragic and intense, it was also enjoyable.

Picture from (which is a super awesome website, by the way).

Source for excerpt:
Anaya, Rudolfo A. Bless Me, Ultima. New York: Warner, 1999. 155-56. Print.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pork and Herbed White Bean Stew

This recipe is adapted from the recipe here.

1 can white beans
Oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 pound cooked pork, shredded or cubed
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 cups chicken-breast
1/2 cup water
1 pinch thyme
1 pinch sage
2 cups coarsly chopped onion
1/2 cup coarsly chopped carrot
6 garlic cloves, coarsly chopped

1. Add beans (rinsed), pork, salt and pepper to large pot. (I used pork roast that had been cooked in a slow cooker with onions). Add broth, water, thyme and sage and bring to a boil. Let simmer while completing the next step (About 30 minutes).
2. Chop veggies and add to a separate frying pan to saute. Saute using vegetable oil, as needed. I cheated a little bit and just chopped up baby carrots. (But now I have a snack for later!)
3. Once onions are tender (slightly browned) add vegetable mix to pork mixture. Stir together. Cover, and let simmer 30 minutes, or until broth is desired consistency.

This was delicious! Although simple, I was pleasantly surprised at the results. My broth was sort of think, and I ran out near the end, so I just scooped it on top of some rice. It lasted me for many meals, since I live on my own, but would be a great meal for a family as well.


Pork Mixture

The finished product! Yum!

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