Birthday Weekend

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The LeMay/Dauenheimer Family celebrated a spectacular birthday weekend for the July birthdays (my mom, Aunt Louise, and me). We kicked off the weekend with some hard fought matches of racquetball. My grandpa and I have been playing nearly every Saturday or Sunday morning together this summer, but this time I got to play against his son and witness the higher skill and intensity between the two for a couple matches. It was the first time I saw Pop bring his true ‘A game!’

Saturday evening we had dinner at The Bryant House in Weston after poking around The Vermont Country Store. I can’t get enough of it this summer so it appears! We had a long dinner (Italian length), and my great aunt and uncle from Middlebury joined us. I felt so happy to be with the entire family, since it’s what I missed the most while abroad.

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My people

We headed to the Weston Playhouse to see Once! It was an amazing performance and the last one of the season at the theater. 10 years ago I appeared on that stage night after night as a daughter in The King & I.  The small yet beautiful theater holds many fond memories. The singing, plot, and love story were all mesmerizing. I highly recommend the soundtrack!


Sunday was a relaxing day at Nana and Pop’s. Writing my next article for the Manchester Journal and picking blueberries and eating donuts from the local donut cart were involved.

It was a wonderful birthday weekend with limited presents and rather an abundance of family, entertainment and relaxation. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate 19! A big thank you to everyone who made this weekend so special. You know who you are! xo ~ e.


Travel Q & A with Maria Salazar

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

One of my best and first friends (ever), Maria Salazar, recently embarked on a family trip to Mexico. I sat down with her at South St. Cafe in Bennington to hear about her Central American adventure. She graciously offered to share her experience on my blog. After spending nearly an entire year traveling, I love hearing other travel stories and memories. Feel free to share yours with me! xo ~ e.

Who did you travel with?

My dad, Anthony, and my mom, Carol.

What was the reason for your trip?

We hadn’t been on a family vacation in a long time, and we had a friend to visit and stay with. I also wanted to practice my Spanish, because it’s one of my majors (and my mom is fluent)!

Where did you stay?

Our friend, Kate, works for CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center). We stayed in the rooms they had there in Texcoco. We fit comfortably in one bedroom and had a small kitchen and bathroom to share.


You stayed in Texcoco but spent most of your time in Mexico City. Tell me about Mexico City!

Texcoco is 45 minutes away from Mexico City, so it was easy to get into the city. There are taxis, buses, and subways to get around. When we were there, people were celebrating Pride Day, and it was especially crowded outside the train station. Mexico City reminded me of Nicaragua; I absolutely loved it. The driving though was insane. People drove so close to other cars at high speeds. I was scared of getting hit! I got a big kick out of the hot pink taxis that could be seen from an airplane. They’re not your typical yellow cabs you find in NYC!

Like most cities, it perfumed a classic city smell: a medley of garbage, animals, and sweat. I never got to try corn with chili and mango which I really wanted to, but that’s okay!


What was the weather like when you were there in mid-June?

It was pretty nice. Temperature ranged from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and it wasn’t very humid. It was wet season, but we only experienced rain for a couple days.



What was some of the best food you ate?

I fell in love with Mexican food. I never consumed anything close to authentic Mexican cuisine in Vermont. One of my favorite desserts was Mamey ice cream. Mamey is a fruit that looks similar to an avocado (grey on outside, pink on inside) and tastes like a papaya. It’s naturally sweet and very refreshing!

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Tlacoyos were another big hit of the trip. It’s a traditional Mexican dish with beans, cheese, cilantro and cactus in a blue corn tortilla pocket. We ate lots of these!

I wouldn’t have done Mexico right without daily smoothies or a piña colada!


How was the language immersion aspect of the trip? Did you get to practice your Spanish?

I was really nervous about speaking. I could understand mostly what everyone was saying though, which was reassuring. The Mexicans were very patient and forgiving. They seemed appreciative of me trying to learn their language. I first utilized Spanish at the airport in the the taxi, so I was immediately thrown into it! Talking about money was the most difficult for me. Both my parents spoke Spanish (my mom more than my dad), and by the end of the trip, we were all more comfortable speaking it. When we first returned, we struggled with switching back to English!


Did you do any service at CIMMYT?

Yes! We contributed items to a tag sale and lend a hand at a soup kitchen. There were 15-20 people regulars there, and we gave them each a sandwich, banana, apple, yogurt, coffee, and tea. They were very gracious.

Trip highlights?

The Frida Kahlo Museum was really cool and the pyramids in Teotihuacan were awesome. I got to go dancing which was unlike any dancing experience I had in the U.S. I enjoyed a stroll though a local craft fair (lots of vendors selling trinkets under tents) and admiring a gorgeous basilica too.



How much did a meal cost?

I never spent more than $5 on a dish 🙂

Did you have any travel mishaps?

My dad left his bag at the airport (luckily it was retrieved), my mom left a bag of gifts at one of the landmarks we visited, and I left my camera behind accidentally. Other than that, we were golden!

Takeaway from experience

I loved being surrounded by Hispanics and experiencing a different culture. This trip solidified my dream to study abroad for a semester and polish my Spanish! FullSizeRender


Introducing: Art by Isabel Holden

Monday, June 26, 2017

It’s my absolute pleasure to introduce to you: Art by Isabel Holden! Isabel and I started talking to each other last spring before graduating from high school. I knew her as the ‘cool fashion design major’ in our FFE Program. This year we shared several cappuccini at La Ménagère and climbed the Cinque Terre trails in addition to hearing about the Medici Family in J.Z.’s Writing for College class on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3 PM. She is such a young and talented designer and artist. I’m constantly inspired by her work, and I am really looking forward to rocking her shark print pocket tee this summer!

Upon returning home, Isabel’s posted more on her art Instagram account (@artbyisabelholden), and I thought it was about time she had her own website. After building up my blog and familiarizing myself with WordPress within the past year, I offered to help her create her very own. Isabel and I talked back and forth for several days, exchanged photos, copy and ideas-–not to mention our Google Doc was constantly edited. The site recently went live! I am super proud of her and how the site looks. If you are in need of a similar site or blog, don’t hesitate to reach out! The more practice for me the better 🙂 Please go check it out and help support one of fashion’s biggest up & coming designers. xo ~ e.Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 7.10.12 PM


One Month Out

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ciao a tutti! It’s been a while. I apologize for the absence on my blog. I’ll admit that I do miss blogging daily from Florence/Europe. It’s been exactly one month since our jet left the tarmac at Florence Peretola Airport. And now it feels as though my entire freshman year is a distant dream, unattainable to reach again. I’m going to be very honest with you. The first two weeks in the United States was very hard. The immediate symptoms of reverse culture shock hit me like the wind in my face caused by the ATAF bus that blew past me every at 8:42 AM on my way to class. I felt lost and unsure of my place at home, since I had been away for so long. I realized friendships had changed, and old habits felt uncomfortably foreign. But with work and time, I gradually began to feel more at ease and confident with my life back at home. One of the worst feelings of the world is not feeling in control. And for those first two weeks, I felt anything from in control. Now I’m working 40 hours a week and cherishing my weekends. I’m exercising as much as I can and eating as much as I can that doesn’t come out of a packaged, plastic bag. On Father’s Day, I even got back on the racquetball court with my grandpa who revived my competitive spirit.

I also had some friends give me a harsh yet greatly reality check. I was reminded of my privilege for spending nine months abroad– one that many are not presented with during their entire lives. As I complained about little peeves in the United States, Vasudha told me to be grateful I’m not living in a third world country. These messages prompted me to shift my mindset. I forgave myself for having a challenging time adjusting due to missing Florence tremendously, and I started to get really excited for the next adventure to come in Poughkeepsie starting in the fall. The freshmen who were in Florence are now super pumped to start our American college careers on a traditional college campus. There’s so much to look forward to (decorating our rooms fully, joining clubs, playing sports), and the option of another experience abroad is tangible. I thank technology for allowing us to stay in touch. We reminisce about our year through iMessages, phone calls, and letters too. Although we will never relive our freshman year abroad, I truly believe we will carry the lessons, challenges we overcame, and travels with us for the remaining of our college careers and beyond.

My schedule has shifted vastly now that I’m back in the States. I’ve quickly come to terms with the fact that kids & teenagers should be in no rush to be an ‘adult’; forty hour weeks are not the most luxurious privileges of being an adult! I am thoroughly enjoying my internships– learning a lot about the corporate world. This introduction through both internships is really beneficial to my education and career goals. Here’s what my typical day looks like:

6:15 Wake up

6:45 Leave the house

7:20 Arrive in Manchester

8:30 Start work

10:00 Fifteen minute break (walk)

12:00 Thirty minute (unpaid) lunch

15:00 Fifteen minute break (walk)

17:00 Finish work

17:15 Work out in the gym or at the local park

18:15 Leave Manchester

18:45 Leave the grocery store

19:15 Arrive home and cook, eat, shower, and unwind for the day

21:00 In bed! Reading or Netflix

21:30 Lights out

It’s a brutal schedule, but it makes up for my rather leisurely days in beautiful Florence. Several of my friends are visiting my home away from home this summer, and I’ve written up an itinerary for them! Look out for further posts soon. Thanks for stickin’ with me! xo ~ e.


Emma: Intern Edition

Thursday, June 8, 2017

As I sit here writing on a Thursday evening waiting for my dinner to be ready (yes, it’s nearly 9 PM), I fondly recall how two months ago I would be reveling in the start to my typical three-day weekends in Florence. But my freshman year abroad days are sadly over, and I have a full eight hour work day tomorrow. The good news is is that tomorrow is my last day of Vermont Country Store intern orientation! The interns and I have had an incredible week learning about the company and meeting many hardworking and friendly professionals. The highlight was seeing my dad up in North Clarendon during our tour. Tomorrow we are visiting both retail locations in Weston and Rockingham; I’ve always loved trying the samples in the stores and grabbing a cone at Mildred’s Dairy Bar.

My first task as an intern was to launch the 2017 summer intern blog. You can stay up to date with our projects here; all interns contribute to daily posts. I kicked it off with The First Day: Summer 2017 Orientation Kick Off. It’s a great group of college students (and a graduate). It will be a very fun summer with them at VCS! I’m a working girl in a working world. xo ~ e.

What’s Next…?

I originally created this blog so my friends and family could stay up to date with my life in Florence. I accomplished my goal to blog every day while I was in Europe, and now I find myself back in the United States with a different lifestyle, one that perhaps is not as exciting or adventurous as my lifestyle in Firenze. With that said, it seems silly to not utilize my blog anymore. I still love sharing my writing with an audience, and I thank each and every reader for following along. Throughout the next several months, you can expect my less frequent blog posts to be about:

  • Travel tips
  • Life as a college intern
  • What to do in southern Vermont and surrounding area this summer
  • Stories about unordinary happenings
  • Recipes for simple and inexpensive dishes
  • Interviews of other people who have recently traveled
  • Healthy daily routines
  • The challenges of ‘adulting’ and being a ‘millennial’ during this day in age
  • ‘A Day in the Life’ posts
  • Opinion pieces on current culture
  • DIY ideas

I will also work on changing up the layout/format of and adding content to my blog. For example, I’ve updated my FAQ page and added a ‘Work with Me’ page. Be sure to give them a glance! I am still fairly new to blogging, and I am trying to find my own unique voice and brand which is challenging due to the thousands of amazing bloggers there currently are. Your support and encouragement is very motivating though. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and tell me what you’d like to see more/less of. I am going to be the most authentic blogger I can be, and I hope you will continue reading! xo ~ e.

A New Way of ‘Glamping’

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Life in the United States has slowly gotten less uncomfortable within the past two weeks. I expected to have to deal with reverse culture shock, but I didn’t know it would be so challenging to cope with. It’s very hard to be the person I was in Italy while I’m in Vermont simply because I am no longer in Florence; I don’t have the same experiences, interactions, views and lattes, or routines. And I am not the same person I was before my grand freshman adventure. Trying to find a balance between the two is an ongoing obstacle, but I am working my hardest to discover a rhythm and feeling of satisfaction. I wrote an article about reverse culture shock for FlockU, and it was published yesterday. Please give it a read here. My internship at VCS started yesterday, so there is a consistent structure and schedule to my day. It is a true blessing! Nicki also visited for five days which kept me busy laughing and positive. We had a lot of fun together like we alway have. Reuniting with all three grandparents and spending time with my mom and dad have also proven to be beneficial and therapeutic.

A few days before I departed from Italy, my parents informed me (via phone) that they had bought a trailer. I knew they were looking at them, since my mom had started a new job at a new location (like she does every three months). For some reason, I had it in my head that they were renting a trailer for three months. That made sense to me. Rent a trailer, enjoy living in a small space, have fun the woods. Finally it registered that they bought it, and my reaction was “WHAT?! What are you going to do with a trailer?!” When I showed the picture to my friends (who don’t have much experience camping), they said something along the lines of, “OMG. ARE ALL VERMONTERS THIS CRAZY?!” Not all of them are– only a select few.

Turns out that this trailer is the cutest little thing! I went to the Adirondacks with my grandparents the day it was delivered, helped get it set up, and spent the night with my mom on the queen sized mattress, snuggled up in my sleeping bag. Although it’s small, it has everything one could possibly need to live comfortably. A bed, radio, microwave, shower, toilet, two sinks, table, two gas burners, heat and AC, and most importantly, friendly neighbors.


Since my mom moved in, we’ve decorated the place with colorful bedding, photos, and small decor items. I’ve also stayed with her for three nights! It’s a lot more relaxing and cozy than one may think. Nicki (who is not a big fan of the great outdoors) can attest to that! She slept in the camper last week. It was a new experience for her, but she said she would do it again.


Tiny house selfie


Kayaking on Mirror Lake

My dad and I both visited my mom a couple weeks ago. It was tight with three, but we were content. I cooked us a camper’s dinner, and we all read before falling asleep.


Salad with pan fried chicken and rice pilaf

To me, this is the perfect ratio of ‘glam’ and ‘camping’. Thus the coined term ‘glamping.’ There is magically wifi in some campgrounds now, and it’s more industrial compared to a tent. However, it’s still rustic being in the woods. There’s something so serene and refreshing about living outside with limited civilization and having lights out by 10. My mom lives there five days a week. So for her, the trailer is home. And it’ll be a transportable home attached with a minimalist lifestyle for when she moves around the country. It’s not ‘luxurious glamping’ but rather ‘realistic glamping.’ Somehow going to Camping World with my dad off I-87 South for a sewer hose appears to be well worth it.

Do yourself the favor and be one with nature this summer at some point– in a tent or in a cabin, cottage, or trailer. Mother Nature is calling! xo ~ e.

*My friend Talia is studying abroad in Copenhagen next semester! I wrote this guest post in honor of her for the Wonder Forest.


I love this sign