Be Cozy, Hygge.

It’s been a while ya’ll

Jacque was in Italy for a whole semester and I just felt like my life was nearly not as exciting as hers, so she temporarily took over the blog 😉

But now, Jacque resides here in Austin folks. Well until August at least. It’s pretty fun, and hasn’t quite sunk in that she lives here yet. We haven’t lived in the same place for a few years now, but I’m enjoying it as much as I can.

I’ve been really into the idea of coziness and what makes a home a real home. My cousin’s boyfriend Nikolaj is from Denmark and he taught me a danish word to describe this. Hygge (pronounced “hYOOguh”) translates to “cozy” but connotes much more. It’s a word that belongs in a home of candles and family and comfort food, drinking coffee, having conversation and cuddling your pup under the covers on a cold day. I want to live with this word everyday.

And so, this word also makes me wonder if you can just go somewhere and make it “hygge,” or what exactly gives us this feel? I just moved into a new home, or more so a cottage which would be in Eastern Europe, with vines growing around it, and creaky wooden floors. Upon arrival, it’s given me the coziest, hygge, atmosphere.

Not sure if this feel is present from the previous people who lived here, the architecture of the house, the pleasant scented candles in our living room, our tribal rug, the conversations which take place,  the old fashioned mugs in our adorable kitchen, or something else.

I think the actions one does in their home, also brings them hygge. The sound of the coffee beans grinding every morning, the song you hum while you brush your teeth, your routine before bed, being able to truly relax in your home.

When scrolling through my recent photos, these are the ones that say hygge to me:


(My niece, Leila. She’s now 10 days old and a princess)


Brian and I’s celebratory meal for him accepting an internship in Houston this summer.


Here’s the princess again


Cody attempting to help me knit a blanket for the baby




Blues on the green


my new room


random kitchen which I outline as my dream kitchen when I become an adult


cute family home


kids swinging in their yard








sunny days shining through my windows


kitty shuffling through my living room




Kindle which I got for free(thanks Esme). Immediately purchased fault in our stars, and cried for days. but it was great.


resting with mama


cody in his happy place


vox veniae, the new church i’ve been going to


studying at cherrywood


boiled potatoes and eggs for breakfast. with lots of olive oil. just like mama makes it.


wok n express’ chefs special soup


homeade latte with arabic


bandit and sunflowers


dogs at a lakehouse






friends and jams


dumplings. with lots of dough.


visitors from brazil.


my new home.

This is the hygge in my world. and although yours may be very different, I hope you’re able to find and cherish it.

I’ll be blogging alot more this summer. I’m nannying full time and got a writing job for a blog, so I’ll have much desire to express my creativity on here.




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Seven Days

This will most likely be my last post from Italy, and that thought makes it feel incredibly real that I am actually leaving. I have spent the past 4 months in a new place, and have learned to make it my home. I can say I don’t do well with change, but 4 months is just enough time to get used to a new place, and now I am leaving it. 

I have certainly had good times, great times, and bad times. Luckily, I have made good friends here that could distract me from that when it made me sad, and I hope I was able to do the same for them. My four months here have not been perfect, I missed my family a lot, my home and my friends. Even though the bad days came, and sometimes in groups, I can say I will never regret putting my home life on hold for four months to be here. 

I have had nights that I will never forget, as well as meals, of course the meals! Some of the friends I made I know I am not saying goodbye to forever. I have learned so much about myself, more than I expected to. While I may keep those experiences off the blog, I can say some things I learned I am not happy about and hope to change, while others made me a new person, and a better person. 


The feeling of leaving is very bittersweet. I cannot wait to get home to everyone who constantly reassures me that they are waiting for me, but at the same time I can’t fathom leaving this new home, and not knowing when I will get to come back. 

I have just a few last adventures to share with you through photos,

Girls of Piazza Stazione take Cinque Terre:





one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen


There’s something very special about the Italian coast, it makes you fall in love. 



This weekend is one of the very lasts. We still have next weekend but I cannot fathom doing anything but running around the city and eating and packing. This weekend was Easter, which Florentines take very seriously. My entire apartment left me this weekend, so I had to come up with some new Easter festivities by myself. I am not one to enjoy multiple days of alone time, but I can say that I think it was just what I needed this weekend. I did a lot of reflecting and adventuring alone, and I think that is how I needed my semester to wind down. Although I spent most days alone, Easter was spent with friends. We had a lovely potluck brunch which was INCREDIBLE, complete with blood orange mimosas, oh yes. I was really missing my family on that day, I have never had to skip a holiday with them, but being here with new friends felt very comforting. I spent the rest of Easter with all new friends, from many different countries and states. 




Easter in Florence is a really BIG deal. Everyone gathers around the Duomo, mass is done inside, while all the tourists line up at the gate outside to wait for the ‘explosion of the cart’. The explosion of the cart is a Florentine tradition, where a cart is led through the city ending at the Duomo where it sits until mid way through mass it is lit on fire, exploding all of its fireworks. It’s a magical experience. I waited at the Duomo very early in the morning, so I spent most of my time taking pictures of the strangers around me. 



Being here this semester has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I will never forget the city, the people, the food. Italy, I will be back for you and see you soon Texas!


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Photo Dump

I feel so bad for not posting in so long! I now understand why so many students neglect their blogs while studying abroad, you get so busy! I realized there were so many pictures I have not posted from other trips and events I have done!

So this post is exactly what it is called, a big ol’ photo dump!

I also created a website for my photography, yay!


The following are from Siena, San Gminiano, Venice, and a few random things around Florence





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My last three weeks here have started, and I seem to be doing a lot more traveling than I expected. I hope I can keep up!

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The Real Break

Today is March 16th, and it is a warm Sunday afternoon. In just six short weeks I will be spending this afternoon packing my Italian life and making plans for my last night. 

It is hard to believe that the past six weeks have gone by so quickly and tells me just how quickly the next few ones will be, especially once my roommates and I start knocking things off our bucket list. Tonight, we are going to a Fiorentina soccer game, that’s on the list. 

Most things I have done recently are also bucket list worthy. I have taken a few day trips, Siena and San Gminiano, which I meant to blog about…the week after, and now it has been four. Quickly after that came midterms, school is not too serious here but I did still have projects to finish up and papers to write, so I got a little busy not leaving much time for myself to blog. 

After the projects were turned in, I fled the country. I spent a week in London, which was very different. I plan to recap my life over the next few weeks and make it up with some incredible blog posts. However, this post goes out to the most recent week I have had. The week after spring break. Most people were coming back from incredible travels, sad about getting back to class and regular life, but I had been waiting for Sunday after spring break for quite some time now because that meant that Trent was going to be here. When I had to say goodbye to my man three months ago it was “see you in four months”. I did not know that he would end up getting to join me in this beautiful country for a week. 

He arrived Sunday evening and our reunion at the bus stop gave me the warm fuzzy feelings I had been needing. We spent the week roaming around the city so that I could show him my favorite restaurants, streets, and little spots to lay in the sun. We spent so much time laying in the sun because the weather this week was INCREDIBLE, by far the best I have experienced since being here. 

We took one day trip to Cinque Terre, which was one of the highlights of the week. I never thought I would get to see such an incredible place, with such an incredible person. 




Were pretty cute. 


These photos were just a glimpse of our little vacation we had together. Today Trent is back in America and I have six more weeks until I get to return. It was definitely hard to say goodbye and not be able to just hop on the plane back with him, I am starting to get a little antsy to get back home. But I still love it here and can’t wait to take full advantage of my remaining six weeks. 


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Buenos Dias, San Francisco

Hello loves,

Sorry I haven’t warned you, but yes I am currently in California.

My bestie Lana and I had kiddingly spoken about coming here months ago, you know the “rooooadddd trrrripppp” you always wanna take? Well we actually did it. Except we wussied out on the whole two day road trip thing and flew here.

Lana and I bought a little journal in which we hope to document all of our adventures, because this is a very exciting and special time for us, roaming around this place, that we literally know NOTHING about. But, in addition to that, we have been taking lots of photos and will post 1 blog post for everyday that we are here.

I’ve gotten over the whole “oh, I look like a lame tourist” thing. I wear my camera loud and proud, bust out google maps everywhere I go, and ask so many questions. We’ve stopped caring about looking cool, which is such a relief.

We arrived late Wednesday night, where we made some not so great decisions with transportation(we were half asleep and it was pouring outside),  but we made it to our destination, what was going to be our sweet little home for two days.

We stayed with a woman who had a precious little home in her garden. It was cozy and colorful and we woke up to the clucking chickens (more effective than any iphone siren alarm).


This place was a sweet sanctuary for Lana & I, mainly because of all the animals.





Our host also had children, which made this place feel even more homey for us. Something we needed on this venture away from Texas.




Being the excited little girls that we are, we woke up extremely early and set out in into the city. Random friends and websites provided us with a plethora of restaurants and attractions to go to, not knowing where to start, we took advantage of San Fran’s amazing public transportation to spit us off in downtown.



Everyone was so professionally casual, if that makes sense. We loved people watching and imagining what their lives were like. I couldn’t tell if the city was rushed or not, were people taking a stroll down the street or were they on their twenty minute lunch? One thing was for sure, Lana and I were the only foreigners on this Thursday morning.


A well-known chicken sandwich place we went to ^^ Yelp told us it was amazing…which it was…BUT a little different than what were used to. Very tender, slightly greasy chicken, with hard sea salt. Odd conjunctions in our mouthes created sweet and sour tastes, becoming slightly more addicting with every bite.


Cool shops inside the ferry building  ^^IMG_2000



MMMM and rice balls too…



random explorations around town.


This is the City Lights Bookstore. “It’s historical and shit.” -Lana







We spent a while here reading, and decided that our next read of the season will be “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.




We stopped a got a drink at Comstock Saloon, a hip and classy bar where we felt like different women for a good half hour.


fancy whiskey drink.


Chinatownnn nomz.


At night we went to the Exploratorium, where there was an “After Dark” exhibit. Pretty much a big playground for adults. We thought it was going to be nerdy, but ended up being SO COOL.






The day after  this, we venture  out to Berkeley. Get excited for what’s coming, Lana will be posting about it 🙂

Bye loves,  wish us luck on the rest of our trip


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San Valentin

Today is dia de San Valentin, or as we call it in the states, valentines day.

We know it as a day filled with red flowers, chocolates and eventually some belly aches and if you are lucky some belly rubs. I was lucky this year, but in a different way.

Florence doesn’t celebrate the way that Americans do. I was not constantly reminded of the somewhat tacky holiday today, but reminded with all the love I saw. I swear people said Florence was romantic and today really showed me. The weather has gotten a lot nicer this week– we all needed some cheering up- and I found myself a little local valentine- Sydney Vize. She lives with me and is a truly great friend I am lucky to have spent so much time with here! I could say it’s because she’s one of the only girls from Texas.. But I admit it’s more than that!

We spent our day walking through the citu, it was CROWDED today. Tourist season seems to have begun early this year… But the city was also celebrating the day in it’s unique ways. We spent quite a bit of time in piazza republicca where there was a woman singing opera, and later a man playing the cello. Artists were creating portraits and men were selling flowers, it was very old fashioned.

We finally went to a restaurant/caffe we have been wanting to try called Gilli. While it is over priced, it’s got a great outdoor atmosphere, so we splurged.


I had a caffe al ginseng— still not sure what it was… But small and delicious.

Sydney had a cappuccino and we split a gotta donna caaaa? Something.
Custard, almonds, flour? What else do you need. It was my Friday pastry.




We spent the entirety of the sunshine walking around town. When I got home I had a text from sweet sweet boyfriend asking if my gift had arrived… Well, if you have been abroad you may know surprised are HARD to keep surprises. I knew something was coming but had no idea what… So I ran back to school and there they were! A bouquet of the prettiest red tulips.. My face turned into a red tulip when I grabbed em.



Ain’t they pretty?
Sweet boyfriend thinking about me 5,636 miles away from him.

Sydney and I continued our evening with a dinner reservation al due ( for two).




One thing I have failed to mention in my valentines day post is the all mighty chocolate festival. It has been here a week. Across the street from my house. I’m a chocoholic. Can you see where this is heading?


Have a looksie

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Even though I was missing my man I had an incredible day in the city.

I will go eat my chocolate covered fruits now…


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Where Have I Been?

Nadeen here!

Jacques in a far away world of Florence, Italy and while I miss her dearly I’ll be spending my semester a little differently.

And while it is true that her life is way more exciting than mine at the moment, it’s still not an excuse as to why I haven’t been posting regularly.

I have learned that although I am extremely busy this semester, this blog is a tool I use to relax, and I need to start utilizing this more often.

Since we haven’t spoken in a while, I’ll briefly update you on all the new happenings in my life.

First off, I’m currently an intern at Refugee Services of Texas.

I’m absolutely in love with everything I do at this internship. It is alot of work, but it is also extremely rewarding. I get to use my arabic and spanish, while DIRECTLY helping families who just arrive in the US because of unfortunate events happening in their homeland.

I’m especially appreciative of this internship because of all the important life skills I’m gaining such as problem solving and multi tasking. We held our annual cycling fundraiser this weekend, where rode a 10 mile route to raise money for refugee and asylee families in Austin who are in need. I am thankful for all the sponsors that I had, and our whole nonprofit raised about $25,000 in total. which is absolutely amazing and one cannot even begin to imagine how directly helpful this money will be for so many families in Austin, TX.

The event was fun before and after the ride. There was yoga, breakfast tacos, live music, beer, and more. and it was at Yellow Bike Project! 

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Second, I’ve taken this whole Face Painting thing to the next level and started my own mini business. 

I created some business cards, put up a few ads on craigslist, and have received a great response!

If you’d like to book me for a party, you can email me at


So these are all the “important,” productive, life factors in my life.

Other than that, I’ve really been enjoying myself and learning how precious time is, and instead of blabbering away you can see some highlights in photos. (I got the new iphone 5s for christmas, so my photos are way better quality now 🙂 )


^^my new room


I made Arrepas (venezuelan meal) for the boysIMG_2497

their faces show the deliciousness IMG_2516

We put up a hammock in the hall of our house, but of course it’s only for cody 😉IMG_2609

Made candles at home! It was fun but really messy and alot of work. IMG_2614

Gotta have a strong man to cut up all the wax so it can melt properly IMG_2621

Taaaa-daaaaa! They smelled delightful. One of our housemates got a lil wild with mixing scents and she ended up throwing hers away cause it smelled like puke. (oops)

My man and I went on a sweet little getaway over MLK weekend. (thanks groupon getaway for making it affordable)

The weather was perfect! IMG_2685


I cook for my house every Thursday, and I want to start updating you all on what we cook cause it’s been great and unique this semester! Here are our chicken and bean enchiladas con mucho queso IMG_2718

This has been the coldest winter in TX that I can ever remember. 3 snow days so far, including tomorrow! (that’s the real reason why I’m blogging :)) And as tortuous as it’s been to deal with this freezing weather (continuous nights in layers of clothes drinking hot tea and cuddling – it’s actually not so bad), I’ve been happy cause I get to wear this monkey hat my brother gave me a few years ago. IMG_2780

A few days ago, when I started this post,  I couldn’t remember how the sun looked like or how I could even begin to fathom to pull out some shorts, so that’s why I wanted to post this photo from the week before. a day of beautiful sunshine all day, cause I wanted to go back to that day in the grass.^^^^^^

Last weekend, we went to a wild child show here in Austin, where they were shooting their music video. It was at the coolest house I’ve ever been to. You be the judge by the looks of these photos.




(sign waiver to jump on this trampoline ^^)IMG_2825

play some chess IMG_2828

smoke machines!! IMG_2831


and we were in the front row 🙂IMG_2847

after the show, arrakis had our around the world. where we go from room to room and engage in some activity. my room was carnival themed. we played twister and drank some cotton candy stuff with obnoxious music in the background. it was great and unfortunately there were no photos taken. One of my housemates, Nick, put all our spare mattresses in the dining room and made this his room designated for wrestling matches. IMG_2872

So that’s how my life has been. No complaining here, I always say I consider myself a pretty lucky girl.

I promise you all ONE blog post a week, with more detailed descriptions of life and there are lots of concerts coming up that I will photograph and talk about with you all.

I also have been crafting a lot more, and I want to document that as well.

Thanks to everyone who reads, it means so much. and let’s all say how much we miss jacqueline. I shall live vicariously through her by eating pasta everyday 😉


Nadeen Abou-Hossa

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28 days

I have been in Florence now for a month. 4 weeks as of last Wednesday and it has flown by. I have shared most of my important adventures with you and I hope that I can continue to share you with you in my remaining 3 months.

It has rained so much here and if you know me you know how much I love the sunshine and warm weather, so this has not been easy. I get out of class and want to just go cuddle in my bed, and I do. I originally felt bad about it, but it’s what I want to do in the lousy weather so why not just do what I want to do!
However, I have made some small goals to feel accomplished.

One: try a new pastry every Friday.
I have done this for three weeks now. Sadly I could not even tell you the names of them because they aren’t even listed anywhere, I use broken Italian to point and say ‘uno’, it works.

This one is like a chocolate cookie roll with cream on the inside. It was good, not too sweet which I liked!

I regret not taking a photo of the one from this Friday because it was delicious, but it was like a flattened sweetened flakey break, like a croissant but with a glaze, then folded with some chocolate in the center. This one was a bit too sweet for me but Sydney and I really enjoyed sitting in the loft of the cute cafe!


I think my next endeavor will be a cannoli! Although that might be too much crema for my little tummy, good thing they have miniatures….

Along with dessert, I have had a lot of incredible food recently. When I first got here I was not that impressed. Obviously the food was good but it didn’t blow me away, especially for how much I was paying for it. I learned that the better food for the better price was out of the center of the city, so usually across the river.
The other night my housemates and I went to Osteria Santo Spirito. Go. You must.
They let you order small portions for a cheaper price, so you can order many things!
We got a bottle of wine to share and each ordered a small portion salad, which honestly was a big enough meal for me BUT I was on a mission. I came to this restaurant specifically for their formaggio (cheese) gnocchi with truffle oil. So I got a small portion of that, and boy was that a BIG small portion.


OH BABY. Look at that baked cheese. I wish I could bring it all home with me.

Since my mind is clearly on food, I am excited to say that the chocolate festival has begun. For 9 days, artisan chocolates have booths providing you with ANYTHING chocolate you could crave. Did I mention it’s across the street from my house?!
A post will certainly come soon from that….

I am currently writing this post at “the American coffee shop” by my apartment. I know it’s totally lame to be doing this but when a girl needs a comforting soy chai and bagel…
It’s nice to be able to sit, sip, and relax.

Now here is a big photo dump:

Aperitivo: €3 wine and all you can eat snacks.

Boboli gardens from inside pitti palace. It was raining of course.








My spring break is coming up! That means midterms are due and planning my trip. Easy-peasy.

It also means I have a visitor coming, and I CANNOT wait to share this beautiful city.

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Vintage Seleczione

Sundays were never my day. In the past, Sundays have meant homework, too much television, and saying goodbye to those I cared about. It is the start of a new week, but it always seemed to be the end for me. I now understand the rather random band name ‘Taking Back Sunday’, because I am taking it back! I am going to start embracing it as the beginning of the week. As it should be. 

Today is Sunday. 26 de gennaio, 2014, and it was an incredible day. 

I finally left the house before noon. It needed to happen at some point, and this was the second day in a row of pure cloudless sunshine, I couldn’t NOT take advantage of it. The weather has been so cold, overcast, and damp. I needed the sun to uplift me this weekend and it did. 

I got up, already excited for the day just because it was SUNNY. New friend Riley and I went to Stazione Leopolda, which was a warehouse. It reminded me of the winter and spring street studios in Houston. We went to Vintage Selecion-Vintage Selection. It was a giant vintage market that only pictures can fully describe. BUT when people talk about beautiful italian fashion, beautiful Italian peoeple, and more. Well, this is where they were. All here, and all beautiful. 





There was an art exhibit in one part of the warehouse that was completely blocked off. We entered and a very eerie music was playing, with drafts of cold wind. There art pieces were all made from garbage. Chicken wire, glass, etc. 







I think finished out my afternoon on the river for a nice job. If you are wondering why you dont see any florentine buildings in this photo it is because.. well… I ran out into the suburbs. The florentines really enjoy the weather, and the calm lifestyle. So many people were out just on afternoon walks in the sunshine. I found some of the most peaceful places to sit and listen to my music. I was very thankful to be able to exercise again. Bring on the cannolis!


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January 26, 2014 · 8:13 pm

Great Expectations

disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with some culty book I never read.

I hear so many people saying they need to create a blog or record their life stories here, well clearly I have been trying to do that on this blog with Nadeen for over a year now. I haven’t always kept up with it as you may know but I told myself I really would try while I was here. It has not been that difficult… Mainly because I take so many damn photos here. 

I have now been here ALMOST two weeks, and it feels like two months. I would love to fill the blog post with amazing stories of the new friends I made and the inspiration in life and in art stemming from being here, but in reality, it’s not all that simple… So I guess this post is a small wake up call to anyone who expects to go abroad and be happy and excited all day long. 

It’s difficult. I think this difficulty stemms from these great expectations our family members, friends, school advisers, and peers have try to emulate to us. 

I have been a little too shy to really branch out on my own, surprise. So I stick with my comfort zone, my housemates. They really are truly great people, they are there for me, they make me laugh, and we all like pasta. You probably haven’t seen many pictures, which is again a surprise because every other friend you know that is abroad has uploaded a hundred pictures, half of which are selfies with their new best friends that they made on day two. The friends everyone says will be with you the rest of your life, well yes I do like to keep friends, who doesn’t? But how can you tell which is which? And how does meeting them here change the relationship? This is what they don’t explain to you in all the pre-departure sessions. 
Anyway, here are a few photos of housemates that we scrounged together. We decided it was time to whip out the cameras, gotta show all the spectators that I too am studying abroad. 







Along with this somewhat unfamiliar shyness that has come over me has come a bit of fear. The ways Italians tackle the streets, just crossing and hoping they don’t get hit, is not the fear I have. Its a new fear, one I haven’t quite felt yet. I think it comes with the new environment. I am fearful of not doing everything that I want to and not embracing this beautiful and newfound culture that I have wanted to be apart of for so long. 

So I guess my whole point of this is to say that I am going to start being proactive. I am going to step out of my comfort zone, talk to people, go to these places my crazy Italian professors recommend, and just not let myself leave until I feel like I have done all I wanted. 

From now on I make goals, and take each day at a time. With no expectations. Starting tomorrow, I am going to the community garden to start volunteering. 
And the next day, who knows.. I do not want to have expectations.

All I want to say is that I do not want to have another weekend where I only leave the apartment once a day, to get groceries.. 

The next post shouldn’t be too far from now… my boyfriend says : “You’ve been blogging a lot! I love it!” Guess I gotta keep it up.. after all I am abroad, and people are expecting it. 



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