Spring Giveway: Hobby Lobby!

Today is an exciting day because it marks the first ever Nine to Phive giveaway. Everyone who enters this drawing will be automatically entered to win a (drum roll please . . .)


$25 Gift Card to Hobby Lobby!

Use it for yourself or the art lover you know!

It’s simple, just a enter below for chance to win this prize for FREE!

(Don’t worry everyone currently following Nine to Phive is already entered, but still feel free to enter and share with friends!)

REMEMBER to follow the instructions to earn each point! You can earn up to 7 points in total!

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Awkward and Awesome Thursday: Confessions of a Bookworm

Swedish-Spanish Dictionary. Borrowed from our friends from downstairs.

  • Mild concussion and twisted ankle. In the same day. From two different accidents. Avila wants me dead.
  • Josh in a traditional Spanish Holy Week costume that makes him look exactly like a Ku Klux Klanner.
  • Every girl’s worst enemy and greatest ally–eyebrow plucking.
  • Attempting to read the remaining two books of the Hunger Games series in a 72-hour period. 
  • Apparently the Spanish word for “preservatives found in prepackaged food is not “preservativos. My professor couldn’t figure out why I kept saying that Americans ate food with condoms in it.
  • I really need to get back to posting England and Ireland pics. Maybe one post a week for the rest of my life.
  • We’re not going to be able to make it all the way through our Spanish lit book, although I doubt anyone else is upset by this . . .
  • Only one more trip from Avila before we go home 😦 But it’s to France!
  • Going home soon.
  • Writing again. I’ve been lazy the past several weeks.
  • Being done with my Jorge Luis Borges presentation. I love you, Jorge, but we’ve been together long enough.
  • Library promotion. This is living the lit nerd’s dream.
  • Helping plan a friend’s October wedding ❤ Yay, for fall weddings!
  • The adorable Swedish boys living downstairs for the week. Josh has made new friends again 🙂 
  • Party at a panederia (bakery) tonight! It will involve homemade donuts.
  • Waking up at 8 without an alarm every single day.
  • Looking forward to the first relaxing vacation of this semester in Avila. Having no plans has never felt so good.
  • I have discovered The Civil Wars. Taylor Swift meets Mumford & Sons and it doesn’t suck? Win.
  • Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Always.
  • Going to see the Hunger Games movie soon! (Well, in about a month)
  • Going home soon . . .

My English Interpretation of "Silencio"

Josh and I often have slightly obsessive tendencies when it comes to new favorite things. For example, I am currently on my fifth time in an hour listening to this song by Nelly Furtado and Josh Groban. 

Not only is “Silencio” a stunning example of Spanish music and poetry; it is a beautiful blend of the talents and styles of two very different artists meeting in the enchanting medium of the Spanish language. 

Nelly Furtado is famous in pop circles for using Spanish as a hip and sexy vehicle for dance anthems and hits more commonly found in the club than in the iTunes playlists of nerds like Josh and I . . .  

Josh Groban, on the other hand, sings in Spanish, Italian, French, and other aptly named romance languages in a classical and dramatized manner that emphasizes poetic lyrics and melody more than a catchy beat or breakup angst. Much more popular with nerds 🙂

Who would have thought that the infusion of these two styles could create such an emotional, rhythmic, and vocally electrifying piece of art?

To bring my own personal art form of choice into this ever-so-inspiring song (and to get in some Spanish practice) I decided to translate the lyrics into English. I took some poetic license in the sense that I tried to stay as close to the literal Spanish meanings as possible while still creating a lyric that sounded beautiful in English as well.

I hope you enjoy it!

by Nelly Mendez Furtado and Julio Reyes Lester
(English translation by Jessica Thurston)

Air, wind, and in my soul–
The fire drowns it,
and only the cold remains.
Very slowly and without destiny,
I weakly carry the weight of anguish

If you’re not here,
There is no way to exist.
I have to wake up.
I have to come alive again.
It’s an immense void.
There is no love here anymore.
Maybe I should surrender
And suffer in silence
Silence . . . Silence . . . Silence

Before, the sun was my blessing
Now its rays burn me for no reason

Before, I believed without a doubt in my gut
Now it’s as fragile as a wounded animal

If you’re not here,
There is no way to exist.
I have to wake up.
I have to come alive again.
It’s an immense void.
There is no love here anymore.
Maybe I should surrender
And suffer in silence


Where the sun doesn’t hurt anymore,
My soul goes free.
I‘ll wait for you,
And it will be until eternity,
My love . . . 

If you’re not here,
There is no way to exist.
I have to wake up.
I have to come alive again.
It’s an immense void.
There is no love here anymore.
Maybe I should surrender
And suffer in silence
. . .
Silence . . . Silence . . . Silence

Playlist for Spring

Well, it has happened, hasn’t it? I woke up today with a sunbeam in my eye and a chorus of birds (in addition to the usual grunting pigeons) were cheerfully announcing this fine Monday morning. My first breath of outdoor air smelled of cut grass, muddy water, and sun-baked pavement. I’m not sure about all of you, but the deciding factor in my mind of when the season has changed is not determined by a calendar date or even a change in the weather. It is determined by the change in the smell of the air. 

Spring has sprung.

For so many of us, spring is a promise of the shorts, swimsuits, and sunglasses yet to come in the future months. It means that not only is spring here, but summer is almost here. Spring means, “It’s only a matter of time before my time is mine again. Viva la vacation!”

For Josh and I, however, spring and the summer to follow mean the end of our vacation and the return to “real life.” We will be working hard all summer long to pay for this semester and our final two semesters at college before entering the workforce doing our “real jobs.” In this sense, spring really is a brand new day for us, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Many of the lyrics of the following songs feature themes of growth, new life, and new beginnings. Others are just those bouncy, feel-good melodies you love to play on your iPod as you saunter down a street the sunny morning after a rainstorm. Be advised this is a very diverse playlist, and it is likely that you will encounter some of your favorite songs mixed in with some of the music this world has to offer that is more annoying to you than anything else . . . Even so, I like to think that it has something for everyone.

I hate that this is true, but the playlist may only function on YouTube.

  1. “Beautiful Day” by U2
  2. “Here Comes the Sun” by Sheryl Crow (I like this version better than the Beatles :-/)
  3. “Younger Than Springtime” (South Pacific) by Matthew Morrison
  4. “First Day of Spring” by Chris Brown
  5. “Rockin’ Robin” by the Jackson 5
  6. “Sunrise” by In the Heights cast
  7. “April Showers” by Al Jolson
  8. “Lollipop” by Mika
  9. “Here I Am” by Bryan Adams and Hans Zimmer
  10. “There Is Life” by Allison Krauss
  11. “Allstar” by Smashmouth 
  12. “Concert of the Age” by Phillips, Craig, & Dean (One of my favorite songs of all time!)
  13. “59th Street Bridge Song” by Simon & Garfunkel
  14. “Winter’s on the Wing” by The Secret Garden Original Broadway Cast
  15. “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colby Caillat
  16. “Sunchyme” by Dario G
  17. “Hoppipolla” by Sigur Ros
  18. “Best Years of Our Lives” by Baha Men
  19. “Four Seasons (Spring)” by Antonio Vivaldi
  20. “New Day” by Avalon

“You Were Born Again Today” (Santo Tomas)

Santo Tomas is the royal monastery in Avila were the Catholic King and Queen Ferdinand and Isabella (Los Reyes Catolicos Fernando y Isabel) actually lived for a period of their lives. For an art and history lesson prior to spring break, our class visited the monastery to examine the architecture. In order to have a completely different experience at the holy site, Josh, Ariana, and I went to morning mass at the historic church.

Similarly to the situation when we attended Westminster Abbey in London, it was impossible to take any photos of the interior of the church during a service. Fortunately we still have many beautiful photos of the monastery from the field trip two weeks back.

This is the world in which modern-day monks of Avila and the surrounding Spanish towns study the Word of God and live their lives in simplicity. Just as much of this pre-Renaissance building has not changed since the church’s construction, little has changed in the lives of these holy men. History will always tie them to the penitents who came before them and even to the royal family that led the whole of Spain to Christianity.

Title is from the song “Born Again” by St. Thomas

More lovely pictures after the jump!

I’ll bet this cloister is lovely in full bloom
San Martin de Porres, first black saint from the Americas

"Tea For Two and Two for Tea" (London/Dublin)

Dear friend Kristen met up with us in Dublin after Josh and I had spent five days in London on our own. Having visited London in the past with her family, Kristen was somewhat mortified that I had not regularly indulged in the British joy that is tea and scones.

Much to both of our delights, upon visiting the beautiful seaside town of Howth (pronounced “Hooth”) on the eastern shore of Dublin, we discovered a deliciously homey tearoom at the start of the pier. I didn’t need any encouragement, but Kristen definitely wanted me to go.

In the absence of chai (sad day), we ordered a pot of simple green tea, but there was nothing simple about the scoop of dried grasses, lavender, and leaves that was scooped into our teabag. We each enjoyed two cups of the lively beverage–Kristen plain (such a purist) and me with cream and three lumps of sugar each :-). Teehee. I’m sure a scone would have been quite authentic, but who can say ‘no’ to a spiced muffin with chocolate chips?

They had rosebud tea! I’ll have to try that some time.

What was most lovely about this experience was the atmosphere of the tea room. There were comfy antique chairs and sofas and a cozy reading corner. All of the colors were warm and inviting and just asking to be photographed.

Kristen and I sat here while at least an hour passed by without us noticing. We chatted, sipped, munched, and missed our train home while Josh and some other friends hiked the cliffs surrounding Howth’s peninsula.

Scones or not, I will never forget my first real teatime just outside of Dublin, Ireland.

Title from Doris Day’s “Tea for Two.”

More tasty pictures after the jump!

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: It’s Spring Somewhere

Even the ciguenas look cold!


  • It is unusually sunny and warm in both London and Dublin today, but I wouldn’t know because I’m back in Avila where it is inexplicably snowing and raining at the same time.
  • The Hunger Games comes out tomorrow, and I missed being able to go see it in an English-language theater by two days! 
  • Pret a Manger. It’s a really popular cafe chain in the UK. How does one pret and why do it to a manger? And in a cafe, no less!
  • There is no such thing as a double-decker bus in England. All the “buses” are double-decker. If they’re not, they’re called “coaches.” Mind blown.
  • Coriander and cilantro are the same thing. Mind also blown.
  • Tummy ache from too much candy.
  • I’m really not much of a romantic comedy girl, but being in Ireland has me really itching to watch P.S. I Love You again.
  • The horrendous and poorly made boots that (barely) got me through England and Ireland and were sliced into a pair of summer sandals the minute I got home. My blistered and bruised feet will never be the same . . .
  • So, we meet again, London Gatwick, for another rough all-nighter on the airport floor. After all we’ve been through together, you still send your snooty security guards to kick me off of the comfy sofa in the cafe and force our crew to seek refuge (and a precious few hours of sleep in the multi-religion prayer chapel).

  • Hitting up an old time sweets shop in Dublin. Root beer barrels, black cherry sours, and licorice allsorts until I die ❤
  • The Cliffs of Moher. Here is a heavily-censored description of these breathtaking beauties from an Irish friend: “It’s the mother-friggin’ edge o’ the world where they make weather an’ crap!” We’ll just go with breathtaking.
  • Our tour guide on the trip out to Galway. Hi-LAR-ious. And Irish people in general. Hi-LAR-ious.
  • Not getting drunk on St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland :-D. No hangovers. No regrets. Tons of memories.
  • Hubby letting me use his laptop since my keyboard is broken. I’m sure it was a real sacrifice swapping from a clunky Dell to a superfast gaming computer ;-). The mouse works just fine, after all.
  • Free Irish music and dancing. Free! And Irish!
  • British fashion and lifestyle magazines. It’s a whole new world of print media love.
  • This six-level bar in Dublin called The Porterhouse. It has so many staircases, and the live music practically hangs from the ceiling. Plus they have the most legit and delicious-looking cocktail menu I have ever seen. Kristen and I got food instead because we are hungry and poor.
  • The bucketloads of new friends from Madrid, Barcelona, Argentina, Uruguay, France, Canada, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Australia, and China whom Josh and I met at the hostel and whom I hope with all of my heart that we will be able to keep in touch with forever.

"Don’t Rain on My Parade" (St. Patrick’s Day, Dublin)

To quote a newly-made Dublin friend, “We ain’t got nothin’ on the Macy’s Day. By the way, what the heck is a Macy’s Day?”
It’s true the the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade is nothing to compare with the New York Parade that delights us each Thanksgiving, but this lively and creative procession still succeeded to impress (especially considering the fact that no one is exactly throwing money at St. Paddy’s Day festivities. They’re too busy funding Guinness production and churning out “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirts for eager tourists.)
My initial impression of the parade was one of pleasant surprise. All of the floats and costumes were handmade, and not only did they look professional, they were positively unique and enchanting. In all honesty, many of the elements of the procession were so “artsy” and high fashion (loooove it), that I bet a less-culturally-inclined crowd would have been bored to tears.
I have to admit, I was expecting a whole lot more drunken revelry and a whole lot less culture.
The parade was exciting and intellectually intriguing. There were graceful acrobats, flying machines, sea creature, flying machines, and even an attempt to visually represent the five senses in the form of costumed dancers. There were beautiful witches shouting snippets of scary stories from the pinnacles of towers on wheels and there were futuristic pirate-rockstars wreaking havoc on everyone’s ears. So much variety–it was hard to get bored even though we couldn’t here a word of what was going on from our perch in the second-story window of a bar overlooking the street.
And for the record, it did not rain in historically dreary Dublin:-). What can I say? God is good.

Title from “Don’t Rain on My Parade” by Barbara Streisand.

And so it begins

This is Trinity Bar, the sweet second-story view from which we watched the parade

Ooh, so festive

He’s not feeling very festive . . .

A National news crew road past on the roof of a bus

If it isn’t Paddy himself!


Plenty more Paddy’s Day paradin’ after the jump!

Like I said, a lot of very artistic and surprisingly well thought-out displays

I mean, this dude’s costume in a twin of himself on his head . . .

There was a surprising number of US marching bands and colorguards in the parade

The sense of touch

I forget (aka never knew to begin with) what half of these floats were about

There was a lot of mystical rock music that we couldn’t here because the bar was so loud

There were also a lot of unique “flying machines” . . . that and fish. Must have been a theme we didn’t know about.


Live Well, Dress Well: Inspired by Riverdance!

Hmm, it was dark and the camera no likey

Tonight Kristen and I went out for a traditional Irish dinner and then enjoyed a complimentary performance of Irish music and dance. I’ll be posting a video of St. Paddy’s Day weekend in a few days, but for now, I’m feeling inspired!

What does this outfit remind you of?
If you said Celtic dance garb, you would be correct!
I think this look can be very eclectic and fashion forward, but verging on costumey if you’re not careful. Start with a full-skirted dress that hits about mid-thigh. This can really be interesting if you go semi-formal and then try to dress it down. Tights or knee-high socks are a must, and any type of simple flat or ankle boot will make the dress seem more casual, everyday, and traditional-Irish-dancery :-). The military jacket in this ensemble emulates the structured, long-sleeved tops of Riverdancer’s dresses. As a final touch, I think an accessory with some Celtic-inspired patterns would look great. Maybe try some jewelry.
I feel like I would randomly start stomping around and doing high kicks if I wore this. That’s the power of the Irish spirit!

For Your Inspiration: House Gets Happy

This probably would have been more appropriate while we were still in England, but let’s face it. I’ll be posting pictures from London and Dublin for weeks.
No, I was not fortunate enough to snap a picture of Hugh Laurie on a rare trip home to Hampstead, London, England, but I did walk through this same park! Haha.
What brought on this quirky post was the discovery of all of the stars and starlets from the British Isles who make themselves at home in Hampstead, the deliciously ritzy London neighborhood where Josh and I were couch surfing. We’re talking Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma Thompson, Tim Roth, and Annie Lennox, to name a few. I even stopped by “Gwyneth’s favorite cafe.” Didn’t spot her either.
Well, this video is a unique gem from a recent season of House in which the very talented (and very British–you can hear his accent coming out at times) Hugh Laurie performs a song and dance number in Cuddy’s dream sequence. Hope you enjoy. The style, cinematography, and the song itself are super inspiring. Ooh, I made a tongue-twister 🙂

And I now know where to move when I get famous.