Sunday, February 12, 2017

a solution to our problems!

living in a foreign country has its quirks.

and discovering those quirks makes expat life so very interesting.

so let's discuss our current 'quirk' that many of my teacher friends are contemplating.

unless you have a doorman or you are at home 24/7, you can not have packages delivered to your apartment.

so, we've been sending packages to our school.

and, we've been told to stop.

boh.

i mean, i guess it was getting a bit out of hand. i've heard rumors of a toilet seat and even a hot tub.

yes, you read that right!

and they are taking the security of the school seriously these days (of course) and hundreds of packages a week is a lot to deal with.

but how will we live without being able to order anything we want on a whim?

well, it seems that amazon has a solution for at least some of these first world problems.

part of their delivery options now include a service called amazon locker.

all around milan businesses have been set up with these bright yellow lockers.



amazon ships your package to the locker and you receive a code via email to retrieve your package.



i tried it out this week.

and it was AWESOME!

when checking out, look for an option under your stored address(es) that allows you to choose another location. it should look something like this:


i selected the amazon locker, named tamara (they all have names), at the pam supermarket on viale sabotino.

but there are plenty of options all around the city.

some locations in central milan

you can enter your code or scan the barcode off your phone.



and the locker with your package pops open!



it was so cool! and so easy!

#highlyrecommend

you have to pick up your package within 3 days or it is sent back to amazon and you're account is credited back.

so, while not everything comes from amazon, a lot sure does!

have you tried amazon locker? let me know what you think!


Monday, February 6, 2017

renew your US passport...by MAIL!

did you know that you can renew your US passport by mail in Italy?

considering how the bureaucracy runs around here i was amazed to learn that this was possible.

thankfully a coworker had done this before and was able to help me along.

and now that i've successfully accomplished this feat i can offer tips for those needing to renew in the near future.

you'll want to check out the consulate website for all the details, but here's the overview.




if you meet the requirements above, collect these items:


  • form DS-82
  • your current passport
  • a new passport picture (make sure to meet the American requirements...photos from a photo booth aren't going to cut it)
  • a money order from American Express or the USPS, or a cashier's check from an Italian bank (I got mine in US dollars before leaving the States in January.)
  • form for the courier service to return your new passport (this is the one linked for Milan)
mail all these items to the Consulate nearest you. i sent them via Italian mail with the raccomandata, which means someone must sign for it. it cost just over 8 euro. 

i sent all this whole package off in the mail on january 10, crossed my fingers and said a little prayer. italian mail isn't known for its efficiency! 

two weeks later, on january 24th, i hadn't received the signature slip back yet from the post office and i must admit, i was starting to panic. 

had they received my passport? was it lost in the depths of the mail system?

i emailed the consulate. asked if there was any way to know if they had received my passport. this was their response.



and my heart sank.

and i started to imagine all the hassle i was going to have to go through to declare my passport lost and how many hours i would have to sit at the consulate. 

ugh.

and my old passport is full of all those amazing visas and travel stamps that i have collected in the last decade. 

double ugh.

i went to lunch and told everyone my nightmare. and they all decided they would send positive vibes to my passport!

and when i got back to the computer after lunch i had another email from the consulate!

bless their heart. positive vibes for the win.

deep sigh of relief.

so it took just fifteen days to get my new passport mailed to me. 

#happydance

your 'old' passport gets holes punched in it and then it's yours to keep

Have you ever renewed by mail? I wonder if this service is available at other locations overseas. If you have a passport success story, please share! 


Saturday, February 4, 2017

lately...

seems i'm getting pretty good about blogging quite a bit and then not. at. all.

whoops!

so, let's see...

back in december i made "gingerbread" houses for both my friends and family to decorate.

when my friends decorated the houses here in milan we watched "elf" and i had to be fairly creative when i bought stuff to decorate with. it seems that italy and the eu have more restrictions on the chemicals allowed in food so there are not as many candies with bright colors like in the us, so i bought pasta, dried beans and peas, and the decorating sugars and candies that i could find.

Lindsay throwin' shade

Kyle taking care of Lindsay's attitude problem!

in the us, chemicals in food, bright colors, no problem. we eat it all!

Danielle won the family voting!

Kevin and Melissa took over for Cece when they arrived!

Cece and Dad getting started

Neal was a great sport and was quite determined to decorate his house thoroughly!

i ended up winning the facebook vote of my friends' competition! i swear i didn't rig it!

let's see...what else?

this adorable gingerbread latte was made at my local coffee shop. come and visit and i'll take you!

i loved this airline treat so much while traveling that i may need to order some.

danielle and i worked to color this gigantic poster from caravan shoppe over the christmas holidays.

my family and i planned our alaskan cruise for this summer. thankfully everyone survived.

We're spending 7 nights in Alaska on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas. 

i bought these faux suede leggings and have fallen in love. i may never wear anything else again.

i've been cooking a bit. in january i made this (amazing!), this and these. so my spiralizer has been getting quite the workout. if you don't have one, i highly recommend it! makes eating those veggies much more interesting!

i also picked up this, this, and this while in the states. trying to make a little more effort in the makeup department from time to time and these three picks have all become favorites so far!

i have lots of travel planned in the coming months...so hopefully there will be more posts coming soon!



Saturday, December 31, 2016

the *expat* reaction to trump.

happy new year's readers!

here's a post that's been sitting in draft form for a bit. if any of my italian readers find mistakes in my translations of the headlines, please let me know!

-------

i was happy to be alone.

i put my earbuds in and kept to myself.

i wanted to blend into the background.

if someone heard me speaking english, they might identify me as an american.

and i was embarrassed.

you see, it was the morning after the US election, and while it hadn't been determined officially, we woke up to see several important states swinging red.

trouble was on the horizon.

i felt sick the entire day.

there were some tears being fought back at lunch table among my coworkers.

i should probably tell you that the typical expat, one who packs up their whole life and moves to the opposite side of the world has a pretty open mind. they believe in diversity and acceptance and freedom and choice.

because it is these things that make our lives in a different country possible.

i was asked that day by an italian..."how did this happen?"

and now the most common question is "what do you think about trump?"

ugh.

here are some of the headlines from the italian papers after trump was declared president-elect.

"President for all"


"The fist of Trump"


"America turns a page: But what is behind the surprise triumph of the anarchic Trump?"



The delusion of New York
Hillary: The country is divided.

many of my coworkers lived in europe under the bush presidency and said the view of americans was different and that difference was clearly felt.

so we shall see what the future brings.

i hope for the best.

but i am worried.

how will trump's decision making affect the world? and how will that transfer to my daily life as an american abroad?

only time will tell.

---------

are you an expat? i'd love to hear about your experiences during and after the election!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

viva versace!

i love fashion.

i love interesting outfits, crazy shoes, out of the box style.

while my favorite outfit may be yoga pants and a hoodie, i do enjoy seeing what's new in one of the fashion capitals of the world.

during this fall's spring/summer '17 women's fashion week i headed across town to hang around the versace fashion show.

i took my dslr and the lens with the biggest zoom i own, a tamron 18-200 mm, and joined the crowd of paparazzi and fashion groupies.

there were some fairly big names walking in the show and in town to watch...think supermodel legends like naomi campbell and adriana lima and tennis superstar serena williams. none of these ladies set foot out the front entrance with the rest of the crowd, but there was still plenty of eye catching outfits to capture.

here are some of my favorite shots.

this outfit, those glasses
loved the poufy sleeve, dark lip and graffiti behind her
Brazilian style blogger Helena Bordon
Chiara Ferragni, famous Italian fashion blogger and style icon



she didn't seem to have a ticket for the show, but she sure looked ready
Fashion stylist and blogger @faye_tsui
this girl...loved to pose.
models Impy and Kylie Vonnahme
Don't you love to see a model eat? 
Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele
modest much?
I think this is model Ondria Hardin, but it was so long ago I'm no longer sure!
American model Vanessa Moody
She stood around for quite awhile, waiting for a ride, so I had several chances to
get a good shot of her. She's got a strong Jennifer Garner thing going on.

Stalking an event is a bit weird, but truly it is so much fun trying to catch a good shot here or there! Looking forward to the next round of shows in February!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

x factor italia

last week caitlin was given tickets to x factor italia, which films live here in milan.

despite loving all things tv, i have never seen a single episode of any version of x factor.

this is also true for caitlin.

so...we knew exactly what to expect.

#notatall

and it was all in italian, of course.


there were six singers remaining at the start of the night and there was a cheering section of sorts for each of them.


it was awesome to see the 'behind the scenes' stuff that you never see at home. like how just five feet from the host, live on camera, they're hauling in huge props for the next performance.



here's a short clip from the show opener, where each act was singing a portion of one song. each act then performed and the audience at home voted. then they sang again and there was more voting. the two lowest from each segment of voted had a sing off at the end and the judged had to vote to send one home.



the judges were fighting throughout the night and it was kind of amusing to try and follow exactly why they were fighting. i think we had the gist of it. by the end, i figured we understood about half of what was said. considering the pace of what was going on, i was pretty satisfied with that!

live taping of tv shows? #twothumbsup

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

giving back.

growing up in a middle class American family i didn't realize how good i had it.

i always went to private schools and there were always people with more.

as a teenager it seemed that what we had was never enough.

#soclueless

as an adult i've become much more aware of the realities of life.

i suppose this happens to everyone when the bills must be paid out of your own bank account.

now having traveled to 39 countries, i've come to realize exactly how much i have and how much i am thankful for.

spending time in asia and north africa quickly opens your eyes to the circumstance of millions of people around the world.

as americans, we have enough.

more than enough.

while i know that there are many in the US in need, the need is truly much greater in other parts of the world.

in laos, three quarters of people earn less than $2 a day.

traveling in laos this summer, caitlin and i were privileged to meet an american man named michael sebastian. caitlin and i were shopping in a store and found him sitting on the floor reviewing english with a small group of workers from the shop. he gave up his life in america to serve the needs of the students of laos.



they need to learn english. so he teaches them.

they need a place to live. so he houses them.

they need someone to help guide them forward. so he counsels them.

michael asked if we wanted to come to his advanced english class that evening. we later called him to make arrangements to attend and he sent two students on motorbikes to pick us up and bring us to his home. (my first time on a bike!)



the evening class was full of boys, likely ages 15-25, who were all hoping to become proficient in english and better their lives. they asked us questions about where we were from and michael googled both new york and savannah to show them pictures. in a tv show one of them had heard of hell's kitchen and wanted to know if it was beautiful. (kind of an odd question!) they were impressed by the live oak trees of savannah. (questioning is that real?)



we were particularly taken with one student, her, 2nd row with his arms around the guys on either side of him, who michael has helped earn a scholarship to a united world college school in the netherlands. he had come home for the summer and was back in english class to share his story with the others. it didn't hurt that he had quite the charming personality and winning smile. this opportunity will change his life and without michael it wouldn't have been possible.

you can hear from the kids themselves in this video they've put together.



so with this in mind, i'd like to help michael continue to fund his program. his ability to help these students depends completely on donations from people like you and me.

i plan to donate and i hope you will too. our 90 minutes with michael and his students were the highlight of our month long asian adventure and it's not an experience you can find in a travel guide.



with each year that passes i continue to realize that buying more things doesn't provide happiness. but giving of ourselves, through both time and money, does.

i have enough.

more than enough.

now i'd like to try and better the lives of some of the truly less fortunate.

will you join me?

find more information at this Go Fund Me page i've set up.

you can also read about caitlin's take on our laos experience on her blog.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

a solution to our problems!

living in a foreign country has its quirks.

and discovering those quirks makes expat life so very interesting.

so let's discuss our current 'quirk' that many of my teacher friends are contemplating.

unless you have a doorman or you are at home 24/7, you can not have packages delivered to your apartment.

so, we've been sending packages to our school.

and, we've been told to stop.

boh.

i mean, i guess it was getting a bit out of hand. i've heard rumors of a toilet seat and even a hot tub.

yes, you read that right!

and they are taking the security of the school seriously these days (of course) and hundreds of packages a week is a lot to deal with.

but how will we live without being able to order anything we want on a whim?

well, it seems that amazon has a solution for at least some of these first world problems.

part of their delivery options now include a service called amazon locker.

all around milan businesses have been set up with these bright yellow lockers.



amazon ships your package to the locker and you receive a code via email to retrieve your package.



i tried it out this week.

and it was AWESOME!

when checking out, look for an option under your stored address(es) that allows you to choose another location. it should look something like this:


i selected the amazon locker, named tamara (they all have names), at the pam supermarket on viale sabotino.

but there are plenty of options all around the city.

some locations in central milan

you can enter your code or scan the barcode off your phone.



and the locker with your package pops open!



it was so cool! and so easy!

#highlyrecommend

you have to pick up your package within 3 days or it is sent back to amazon and you're account is credited back.

so, while not everything comes from amazon, a lot sure does!

have you tried amazon locker? let me know what you think!


Monday, February 6, 2017

renew your US passport...by MAIL!

did you know that you can renew your US passport by mail in Italy?

considering how the bureaucracy runs around here i was amazed to learn that this was possible.

thankfully a coworker had done this before and was able to help me along.

and now that i've successfully accomplished this feat i can offer tips for those needing to renew in the near future.

you'll want to check out the consulate website for all the details, but here's the overview.




if you meet the requirements above, collect these items:


  • form DS-82
  • your current passport
  • a new passport picture (make sure to meet the American requirements...photos from a photo booth aren't going to cut it)
  • a money order from American Express or the USPS, or a cashier's check from an Italian bank (I got mine in US dollars before leaving the States in January.)
  • form for the courier service to return your new passport (this is the one linked for Milan)
mail all these items to the Consulate nearest you. i sent them via Italian mail with the raccomandata, which means someone must sign for it. it cost just over 8 euro. 

i sent all this whole package off in the mail on january 10, crossed my fingers and said a little prayer. italian mail isn't known for its efficiency! 

two weeks later, on january 24th, i hadn't received the signature slip back yet from the post office and i must admit, i was starting to panic. 

had they received my passport? was it lost in the depths of the mail system?

i emailed the consulate. asked if there was any way to know if they had received my passport. this was their response.



and my heart sank.

and i started to imagine all the hassle i was going to have to go through to declare my passport lost and how many hours i would have to sit at the consulate. 

ugh.

and my old passport is full of all those amazing visas and travel stamps that i have collected in the last decade. 

double ugh.

i went to lunch and told everyone my nightmare. and they all decided they would send positive vibes to my passport!

and when i got back to the computer after lunch i had another email from the consulate!

bless their heart. positive vibes for the win.

deep sigh of relief.

so it took just fifteen days to get my new passport mailed to me. 

#happydance

your 'old' passport gets holes punched in it and then it's yours to keep

Have you ever renewed by mail? I wonder if this service is available at other locations overseas. If you have a passport success story, please share! 


Saturday, February 4, 2017

lately...

seems i'm getting pretty good about blogging quite a bit and then not. at. all.

whoops!

so, let's see...

back in december i made "gingerbread" houses for both my friends and family to decorate.

when my friends decorated the houses here in milan we watched "elf" and i had to be fairly creative when i bought stuff to decorate with. it seems that italy and the eu have more restrictions on the chemicals allowed in food so there are not as many candies with bright colors like in the us, so i bought pasta, dried beans and peas, and the decorating sugars and candies that i could find.

Lindsay throwin' shade

Kyle taking care of Lindsay's attitude problem!

in the us, chemicals in food, bright colors, no problem. we eat it all!

Danielle won the family voting!

Kevin and Melissa took over for Cece when they arrived!

Cece and Dad getting started

Neal was a great sport and was quite determined to decorate his house thoroughly!

i ended up winning the facebook vote of my friends' competition! i swear i didn't rig it!

let's see...what else?

this adorable gingerbread latte was made at my local coffee shop. come and visit and i'll take you!

i loved this airline treat so much while traveling that i may need to order some.

danielle and i worked to color this gigantic poster from caravan shoppe over the christmas holidays.

my family and i planned our alaskan cruise for this summer. thankfully everyone survived.

We're spending 7 nights in Alaska on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas. 

i bought these faux suede leggings and have fallen in love. i may never wear anything else again.

i've been cooking a bit. in january i made this (amazing!), this and these. so my spiralizer has been getting quite the workout. if you don't have one, i highly recommend it! makes eating those veggies much more interesting!

i also picked up this, this, and this while in the states. trying to make a little more effort in the makeup department from time to time and these three picks have all become favorites so far!

i have lots of travel planned in the coming months...so hopefully there will be more posts coming soon!



Saturday, December 31, 2016

the *expat* reaction to trump.

happy new year's readers!

here's a post that's been sitting in draft form for a bit. if any of my italian readers find mistakes in my translations of the headlines, please let me know!

-------

i was happy to be alone.

i put my earbuds in and kept to myself.

i wanted to blend into the background.

if someone heard me speaking english, they might identify me as an american.

and i was embarrassed.

you see, it was the morning after the US election, and while it hadn't been determined officially, we woke up to see several important states swinging red.

trouble was on the horizon.

i felt sick the entire day.

there were some tears being fought back at lunch table among my coworkers.

i should probably tell you that the typical expat, one who packs up their whole life and moves to the opposite side of the world has a pretty open mind. they believe in diversity and acceptance and freedom and choice.

because it is these things that make our lives in a different country possible.

i was asked that day by an italian..."how did this happen?"

and now the most common question is "what do you think about trump?"

ugh.

here are some of the headlines from the italian papers after trump was declared president-elect.

"President for all"


"The fist of Trump"


"America turns a page: But what is behind the surprise triumph of the anarchic Trump?"



The delusion of New York
Hillary: The country is divided.

many of my coworkers lived in europe under the bush presidency and said the view of americans was different and that difference was clearly felt.

so we shall see what the future brings.

i hope for the best.

but i am worried.

how will trump's decision making affect the world? and how will that transfer to my daily life as an american abroad?

only time will tell.

---------

are you an expat? i'd love to hear about your experiences during and after the election!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

viva versace!

i love fashion.

i love interesting outfits, crazy shoes, out of the box style.

while my favorite outfit may be yoga pants and a hoodie, i do enjoy seeing what's new in one of the fashion capitals of the world.

during this fall's spring/summer '17 women's fashion week i headed across town to hang around the versace fashion show.

i took my dslr and the lens with the biggest zoom i own, a tamron 18-200 mm, and joined the crowd of paparazzi and fashion groupies.

there were some fairly big names walking in the show and in town to watch...think supermodel legends like naomi campbell and adriana lima and tennis superstar serena williams. none of these ladies set foot out the front entrance with the rest of the crowd, but there was still plenty of eye catching outfits to capture.

here are some of my favorite shots.

this outfit, those glasses
loved the poufy sleeve, dark lip and graffiti behind her
Brazilian style blogger Helena Bordon
Chiara Ferragni, famous Italian fashion blogger and style icon



she didn't seem to have a ticket for the show, but she sure looked ready
Fashion stylist and blogger @faye_tsui
this girl...loved to pose.
models Impy and Kylie Vonnahme
Don't you love to see a model eat? 
Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele
modest much?
I think this is model Ondria Hardin, but it was so long ago I'm no longer sure!
American model Vanessa Moody
She stood around for quite awhile, waiting for a ride, so I had several chances to
get a good shot of her. She's got a strong Jennifer Garner thing going on.

Stalking an event is a bit weird, but truly it is so much fun trying to catch a good shot here or there! Looking forward to the next round of shows in February!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

x factor italia

last week caitlin was given tickets to x factor italia, which films live here in milan.

despite loving all things tv, i have never seen a single episode of any version of x factor.

this is also true for caitlin.

so...we knew exactly what to expect.

#notatall

and it was all in italian, of course.


there were six singers remaining at the start of the night and there was a cheering section of sorts for each of them.


it was awesome to see the 'behind the scenes' stuff that you never see at home. like how just five feet from the host, live on camera, they're hauling in huge props for the next performance.



here's a short clip from the show opener, where each act was singing a portion of one song. each act then performed and the audience at home voted. then they sang again and there was more voting. the two lowest from each segment of voted had a sing off at the end and the judged had to vote to send one home.



the judges were fighting throughout the night and it was kind of amusing to try and follow exactly why they were fighting. i think we had the gist of it. by the end, i figured we understood about half of what was said. considering the pace of what was going on, i was pretty satisfied with that!

live taping of tv shows? #twothumbsup

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

giving back.

growing up in a middle class American family i didn't realize how good i had it.

i always went to private schools and there were always people with more.

as a teenager it seemed that what we had was never enough.

#soclueless

as an adult i've become much more aware of the realities of life.

i suppose this happens to everyone when the bills must be paid out of your own bank account.

now having traveled to 39 countries, i've come to realize exactly how much i have and how much i am thankful for.

spending time in asia and north africa quickly opens your eyes to the circumstance of millions of people around the world.

as americans, we have enough.

more than enough.

while i know that there are many in the US in need, the need is truly much greater in other parts of the world.

in laos, three quarters of people earn less than $2 a day.

traveling in laos this summer, caitlin and i were privileged to meet an american man named michael sebastian. caitlin and i were shopping in a store and found him sitting on the floor reviewing english with a small group of workers from the shop. he gave up his life in america to serve the needs of the students of laos.



they need to learn english. so he teaches them.

they need a place to live. so he houses them.

they need someone to help guide them forward. so he counsels them.

michael asked if we wanted to come to his advanced english class that evening. we later called him to make arrangements to attend and he sent two students on motorbikes to pick us up and bring us to his home. (my first time on a bike!)



the evening class was full of boys, likely ages 15-25, who were all hoping to become proficient in english and better their lives. they asked us questions about where we were from and michael googled both new york and savannah to show them pictures. in a tv show one of them had heard of hell's kitchen and wanted to know if it was beautiful. (kind of an odd question!) they were impressed by the live oak trees of savannah. (questioning is that real?)



we were particularly taken with one student, her, 2nd row with his arms around the guys on either side of him, who michael has helped earn a scholarship to a united world college school in the netherlands. he had come home for the summer and was back in english class to share his story with the others. it didn't hurt that he had quite the charming personality and winning smile. this opportunity will change his life and without michael it wouldn't have been possible.

you can hear from the kids themselves in this video they've put together.



so with this in mind, i'd like to help michael continue to fund his program. his ability to help these students depends completely on donations from people like you and me.

i plan to donate and i hope you will too. our 90 minutes with michael and his students were the highlight of our month long asian adventure and it's not an experience you can find in a travel guide.



with each year that passes i continue to realize that buying more things doesn't provide happiness. but giving of ourselves, through both time and money, does.

i have enough.

more than enough.

now i'd like to try and better the lives of some of the truly less fortunate.

will you join me?

find more information at this Go Fund Me page i've set up.

you can also read about caitlin's take on our laos experience on her blog.