Category Archives: Movie Reference


That’s my daughter in the water,
everything she knows I taught her.
Everything she knows.

Daughter by Loudon Wainwright III

Being overseas for any American holiday always makes me a little homesick. This is especially true during Thanksgiving. Despite everything that went wrong with our Thanksgiving dinner last year in London, I laugh whenever I think of the hilarious day spent cooking with two old friends in a foreign country.

This year I do not have access to a big oven, so no cooking. Instead I will be going to a restaurant, Texas Embassy, for Thanksgiving dinner…on Friday night. I know, it’s a little off, but the way I look at it, people eat leftovers all weekend so as long as I have some turkey this weekend it counts. More on that later…

I am thankful for a lot of things this year: great family (the whole extended bunch), amazing friends (old and new), and the ability to see out of both eyes are all high up on the list.

But at the very top of the list are my parents.

Mom, Dad, and I at my cousin's wedding (Aug. 2010)

When I told them I wanted to study music business, they said ok.

When I told them I wanted to move to Nashville, they said alright (after visiting Belmont and several long discussions).

When I said, “I think I want to take cooking lessons in Italy for a month, and then move to London,” they both agreed it was a good idea.

When I was struggling with what to do next, they suggested school (okay, they brought up law school, we compromised on a masters in music business).

They flew out for showcases at Belmont, drove from San Diego when I needed to have my tonsils removed so they could bring our dog, and helped me pack up my Nashville life before driving all my stuff back to San Diego.

Any other parents would have probably traded in this high maintenance girl for another model years ago, but not my parents.

Piazza Navona - Rome, Italy (Nov. 2009)

As kids, we think our parents are super heros who can save the world. When we become teenagers, this bubble bursts and our biggest fear is turning into our parents. Once we hit our twenties, we realize that despite our best efforts, we are turning into them anyway. People always tell me I look like my mom. But those who know the three of us would also tell you that my personality is very much like my dad’s. He has been teaching me how to be street smart and to think logically ever since he said, “You want a Happy Meal? Here’s $5, go order it.”

I was 4 years old at the time.

Mediterranean Cruise (Nov. 2009)

I learn lessons from him constantly, and it is the most recent one I would like to share.

It was not long after my surgery in August that the medical bills started coming in. Since I have not been working and had been living overseas, I did not have insurance in America (and still don’t). Vanderbilt gives patients without insurance coverage a 50% reduction, however half of a $30,000 surgery is still a large amount of money (I don’t know the exact cost of the surgery because some of the bills came after I left for London, but I know with the discount it was still over $15,000). On top of all this, we needed to pay for my tuition and housing in London by the beginning of October. I felt sick about the whole situation, especially knowing how much I was costing them in the month of September alone. My dad told me not to worry about it, and that he would figure it out. And that is exactly what he did.

Stating his case, he wrote a letter to the hospital (on my behalf) telling them my situation (unemployed student with no insurance) and asking for help with the enormous bill. We waited for weeks for a response, hoping for any good news. Finally, a few weeks ago, my dad received a letter from Vanderbilt. After reviewing my case, they decided to cover 100% of my hospital bills.


I could not believe it. None of us could. Just like that, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I know my parents felt the same way. My dad, in his masterful way, took care of it. I think even he surprised himself with this outcome. Even at 26, I feel like a young grasshopper when my dad does everything in his power to make something happen.

Much to learn you still have – Yoda

I hope everyone had an incredible Thanksgiving!



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Cruising Lake Como

*I wrote this post on Aug. 14th, 4 days before my eye surgery.

And then forgot all about it.

Better late than never, right?

On one of my days off, I thought it would be fun to cruise around the lake, visiting some of the popular towns and attractions on my way.

I decided to start the day off in Bellagio and work my way down the left leg of the lake (also known as the “Como” branch, the other leg is referred to as the Lecco branch). Instead of riding on the lake all day, I took the bus from Como to Bellagio, which only cost me €2.50 and took about an hour and a half. It was a fun ride with great views of the lake.

Once I arrived, I took some time to take photos of the beautiful scenery and flowers.

From there I just walked around (mainly looking for a place to grab lunch). There were lots of little side streets and restaurants could be found all over. I wanted something light and inexpensive so I chose to grab a panini at Cafe Vecchio Borgo (which translates to Old Village). They were only €5 and delicious!

The Mediterraneo panini at Cafe Vecchio Borgo

Of course, after lunch I had to have dessert! Instead of the usual gelato, I decided to go with my new favorite: an Affogato! What is an affogato you ask? Well it’s the perfect combination of vanilla ice cream topped with un cafe (aka a shot of expresso). Affogato literally translates to “drowned”.


The Affogato! yummy!

As you can see, it looks amazing! We made this at the house, minus the whip cream and biscuit, regularly and it tastes good every time! If you decide to make it at home, try and find a “gelato” or creamier ice cream so that it doesn’t all melt the second you pour the coffee on it.

And finally, after my affogato, I walked up to the very tip of Bellagio, where you can see down all three branches of the lake.

After snapping some photos, I went back down to the dock where I hopped on the ferry to my next location: Leno.

There are many villas around Lake Como, but one of the most famous is Villa del Balbianello. The villa has been used as a filming location in Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, and after visiting it, I can believe more films haven’t use it.

The villa is only accessible by foot on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is a 20-30 minute hike from the dock, most of the roads are unpaved too so it is crucial to wear proper shoes. The villa has it’s own dock and visitors can hire a water taxi from one of the towns near by to take them to the villa every day of the week (except Monday and Wednesday when the villa is closed). This makes the villa very secluded and helps with preservation.

Me at the Villa

I did not take a tour of the inside, just walked the gardens which cost around 8 euros.

After walking around for a bit, I walked back to the dock, and hopped on the next ferry to Como. On the way, we passed by the home of Lake Como’s most famous resident: George Clooney.

George Clooney's Villa on Lake Como

Yes, it was an amazing day on the lake and I was able to see just about everything I wanted to see.

I highly recommend doing this if you are ever near Lake Como. Another option is to just buy a ticket and ride the boat around the lake (not getting off at any stops).




Filed under Italiano, Movie Reference, Things to do, Things to see, Travel

Just A Little Bit of Pixie Dust

Now, think of the happiest things – Peter Pan

For little baby Leone’s baptism, Dario and Paola decided to have a big summer/baptism party. The theme: Peter Pan!

Captain Hook's Pirate Ship

The party the second Sunday after I arrived and everyone spent a good amount of time preparing. The entire property was transformed! Masks, costumes, fairy wings, and sets were all created and just about everyone who attended played a role.

The "set" for the party

Water balloons for the big attack

Once the kids arrived, they were shown a music video with a montage of clips from the movie set to the song “L’isola che non c’e’” from the Italian version of Peter Pan the Musical. Then, all the kids (and several adults) were assigned roles from Capitan Hook and the pirates, to the Indians and the Lost Children. They all got dressed in their costumes, masks, and face paint and then they were off on their adventure!

The kids starting on their adventure!

My favorite thing that was built for the party was Capitan Hook’s pirate ship! It was amazing! The pirates were armed with hoses, water guns, and water balloons so that by the end of the “attack” everyone was drenched!

The Pirates preparing for attack


Then the Indians captured some of the adults, and the kids had to pick raspberries to help free them.

Picking raspberries

The ransom paid to free the adults

From here, they headed back up to the ship where attack number two took place, and soon everyone had jumped into the pool!

The whole thing took maybe 1.5 hours and all the kids (and adults) had a blast!


Of course, there was a ton of food, and Dario even made sangria from scratch and it was wonderful! Perfect for the summer heat. Here are a couple of the appetizers we munched on.


mozzarella, eggplant, and tomatoes

Unfortunately, around this time it started to rain so we had to move the party inside, but the fun continued as we ate hot dogs and cut into two beautiful cakes that Paula’s aunt Silvana made (see photos below). Little Leone slept through most of the day, but I have a feeling there will be more parties similar to this one in his future.

Lion cake for Leone

Barbie cake for Allegra

As promised, I’m going to showcase a different Italian city during the next few posts. Last time I wrote about Milan. Now, check out my post on Bergamo.



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Filed under Book Reference, Italiano, Movie Reference, Song Reference