Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eat, Drink and Be Merry Holiday Party

My Eat, Drink and Be Merry Holiday Party was last night and it was fun! Five of my friends, from three different circles of mine, showed up to my small cocktail party.

Here are a few photos taken after my first guest arrived:

eat
two kinds of cheddar cheese and three kinds of crackers
and Ferrero Rocher chocolates

drink

and be merry!
Panera's Panettone on Crate & Barrel Plate in front of
Holiday M&Ms in my grandmother's glass dish
and my chocolate chip cookies on my Cheers! plates

I finally tried Panera's Panettone at my party, which I expressed my curiosity for in this post. It was delicious! I highly recommend it! I know it looks more like a cake than a loaf of bread here, but it's fancy bread; it has that texture. It fit on my themed plate perfectly!

As it was potluck, of course my guests filled up my table much more than this. You can see one contribution, the makings of mulled wine in the first photo. There was also a seafood pasta salad, a fancy Italian antipasto platter (they know me well!), a huge bottle of Maryland red wine, chips and salsa and multiple two liter bottles of Coke. Grazie you guys!

As for decoration, I put lots of white lights on my balcony, had my perfect little Christmas tree out and a few little things here and there. The whole thing was accomplished on a shoestring budget ...and with alittle help from my friends (which I sang in my head since it's a Beatles lyric). 

Everyone told me that they had a great time and I am so happy to have thrown it. I am officially in the Christmas spirit now.

I hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ramblings from Michelle's Day Off

 

I had a dentist appointment today, just a six month cleaning. I love my dentist and his assistant. They are so nice, and Dr. Johnson is a traveler like me, so we talked about the art of Italy, the food of Philadelphia, and the shows of New York this time around. It's nice that going to the dentist isn't such a chore. ...which makes for going in to fill a small cavity in January a bit better too. I truly believe life is all about attitude. I'm trying to be optimistic, so there you go.

I also update the two of them on my life every six months. Since the summer, I've moved into my beautiful one bedroom. This year, I started a new job in a new field and changed my living situation. That is a lot, but I feel like a change already! Don't get me wrong, I adore my apartment. I have truly cherished living here for the past three and a half months. Everything reflects me, which I love, and I often entertain in my own space. One of my life goals was to live alone again and I have enjoyed it. However, it might be time to move on, to move forward with my life. This is how goal-oriented I am! If I want to move to Italy and live there for as long as I can in the next five to ten years, all of my money now shouldn't go towards rent, but savings and to pay down debt. Right now, my work situation is just a bit unknown. I'm sure I'll update on that more later, as it develops. So, I may wait until things work out there until I make major decisions. I usually am very decisive, so it's weird that I'm not set on a change, or not to change. I can see me saying that I'm ready at the new year though, a perfect time for being motivated for something new. If I stay or go at work, I may invite my sister to live with me. Although I'm not sure if she would want to, with me being so wide open to change, thus being an unstable roommate. With this job, I'm not locked into a lease. I certainly have enough space in my spacious 681 square foot one bedroom for her. And since I could see myself living in those tiny apartments half this size that they show on House Hunters International, one of my most watched shows lately. I couldn't see us affording anything more than a one bedroom! It would be nice to live with her. Not perfect, but, like I said, I thoroughly enjoyed a pretty perfect place while I had it. I could charge her what she could afford and that much could go towards debt per month for me. As soon as I figure out what is happening at work, I may offer it to her. I could also just move to a Northeastern city and live with roommates. I don't have any attachments, other than being in student loan and credit card debt, my anchor weighing me down a bit. Of course, living in Philadelphia again would be a dream. In addition, I would love to finally break into the Internation Education field as well. Yeah... I might really be ready for a change... I know I'll figure it all out.

Anyway! After the dentist, I went out for a cup of hot chocolate. Starbucks truly does their's so well! I also hit the nearby Pier 1 Imports intent on just browsing, but I couldn't resist one of their adorable wine bottle stoppers that I had already seen in a mailing. That $8 is a splurge is yet another change over the last year! Isn't he cute? His carrot nose is stuck up in the air like a little wine snob!

I am excited to go over to my parents' for dinner. My dad had made lasagna and my mom is serving it tonight. I've never made lasagna before and have always wanted to try it... I've been thinking of having an Italian-style Sunday afternoon dinner lately. A pasta first course and a meat and vegetable second course, with wine, as the Italians do. It can't be too big until I have more funds or advance my culinary skills though! I'd love to make that a routine, but maybe I should ask my friends at my party what they think Saturday night... and start it following football season!

I am looking forward to my small Christmas cocktail party this Saturday night! The RSVPs are often yes or at least maybe. It's shaping up to be a great time. I love to entertain... I am also hoping that I can convince my girlfriends that wanted to see the movie New Years Eve to go see it after a couple hours of partying...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

*Season's Greetings*

Happy Holidays to all!

Here's my perfect little four-foot-tall Christmas tree:






I am hostessing a Christmas party here next weekend. The theme is "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry." I love the invitations I sent via Evite.com. I am so poor, but I still really wanted to throw one, so I think I can manage a small casual potluck cocktail party. I am serving cheese and crackers, Coor's Light, red and white wine, holiday M&Ms, my own chocolate chip cookies and Panettone (which is the traditional Italian Christmas cake/bread mentioned in my previous post) at the very least. One of my friends is bringing some Coke, which really helps me out. The invitation instructs my guests to bring finger foods, Christmas cookies or the ingredients of a holiday cocktail. Any food, drink, or merriment would be fantastic. I am also limited in time since I get off from work just two hours after I've asked my guests to arrive. Luckily, I simply arrange most of my eat and drink offerings. I can whip up Betty Crocker's chocolate chip cookies in fifteen minutes flat. And I can decide what to wear beforehand. I love dressing up a bit for occasions. Even though I wish it could be a fancy feast with some sort of gift or ornament exchange, I think it's nice to throw something casual and absolutely no pressure at my guests during this stressful time of year. This holiday in Italy is about eating (and eating), yes, but more about togetherness, than something big, consumerist, and ...American. I think it'll be fun.

Panera's Panettone

Love this. I bought two of these from Crate & Barrel, perfect for my party theme.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Panettone


Panettone is a sweet bread with pieces of fruit and other goodies in it. A google search brings up articles starting with facts like it is enjoyed at Christmas and New Year's in Italy and it is originally from Milan. It also commonly has this tall round shape with a big muffin top or dome, like an architectural cupola, how Italian, right?

Having only visited Italy in the spring, I do not believe I have ever tasted one... I've seen them in both Italian and American grocery stores, in their cardboard boxes with the picture of the confection on the front. I suppose the thing I know to compare it to is fruitcake, which everyone loves to hate. I don't think I've ever heard or read anything negative about this specialty though. I should try it.


An Italian Panettone

Maybe I should try an imported one, but Panera's Cranberry Walnut Panettone has me intrigued. It looks so good in the store (and in the photo above)! The clear plastic packaging shows off the product. Of course, it's the Panera twist on this "old-world classic" (I"ve yet to see where they specifically mention Italy or France or any other actual country).

This holiday treat is only available at Panera for limited time. It's available now, (for Thanksgiving) from November 22nd through the 24th and then from December 9th through December 24th. I might try it in December... Maybe I could bring it as a dessert for Christmas dinner or have it around here as a special dessert when I have company and maybe a leftover bit as a breakfast... If I do, I'll review it here.
 
~~~~~

I'd also like to send out my warm wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving! (In keeping with the food theme,) I hope it's filled with all of your favorite holiday foods!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Small Business Saturday!


You know that I'm not a fan of Black Friday, but I am a fan of *Small Business Saturday* which is this Saturday, November 26th. It's actually the 2nd Annual one. I believe that small businesses help give a place character. 

They ask for a single purchase and, unfortunately, I'm not sure that I can afford it! Maybe a couple of sheets of paper at the scrapbooking store in the next town over... I haven't been there in months! If I can't "join the movement," I at least wanted to pass the message along. 

Thanksgiving Wishes and Personal Black Friday Boycott

I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope you take at least a moment and think about what you're thankful for. My list is endless, filled with more who's than what's. My apartment home happens to pops into my mind first however.



I am also grateful not to be working in retail this Christmas season. This hasn't happen in ten years, a decade. I was acutely aware of how relaxed I was on November 1st, not to be going into a crazed next couple of months.

I also do not have to work long hours, in the middle of the night, on Black Friday, the famous day for shopping on the day after the American holiday of Thanksgiving. As store manager last year, I was there on and off for the 22-23 hours we were open. Malls also extend their hours for several weeks and not just on this "Black" day.

My boss B recently asked me if I was going out on Black Friday. (After thinking to myself, "With what money?") I replied, with a half laugh, that since I've worked that day for the last decade, I wouldn't want to shop that day for another decade.

Even if they paid me to take an item out of the store, I wouldn't want to enter the chaos and face crowds of people overly concerned with stuff. Plus, hunt an hour for a parking spot. Just doesn't sound like fun to me... I like shopping. I wouldn't want to have a terrible shopping experience. Sometimes the Saturday before Christmas turns out to be the busiest and most profitable shopping day of the year, so beware of that day too.

Stores opening at midnight or before (9 PM!) cut into Thanksgiving, a holiday. Stores are staffed by people. These employees deserve to thoroughly enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday (which, unfortunately, is time off in the middle and not the start of the holiday shopping season) with their loved ones, for a single day. For a midnight store opening, employees have to report earlier, on Thanksgiving night.

In addition, stores often change their sales and promotions during different hours. And then corporate offices want sales numbers reported at specific times. Employees have to deal with all that while dealing with hoards of customers/ guests. I've been there. I still feel for them.

I understand a tradition in going out shopping for some-- in order to spend time with friends and family. And that different hours of operation is different and can be fun or exciting. But, can't this quality time be spent between 10 AM and 9 PM? You can certainly shop 'til you drop during those hours. I am in favor of standard hours of operation. If there's any deviation, give people time off!

The whole Black Friday thing doesn't fall into line with my Italian values. In Italy, they still take a siesta from 1 to 4 each day. And sometimes businesses close on a certain day of the week, or don't come back after lunch on Thursday afternoons. They will take the month of August off for vacation as well! Italy basically shuts down for the month.

A sign reading:
"Closed for the Holidays. From the 8th of August to the 23rd of August. Returning Tuesday, August 24th."

While living in Italy, I had to get used to this siesta. When the vast majority of businesses closed, I had to find something to do! Some stores, like The United Colors of Benetton in my study abroad town I remember, remained open continuously. After I got used to it, I came to like it. With traveling, I found, it's nice to arrive someplace before or after siesta, to arrange around it.

With this time off, Italians show that they value things like the meal, time well spent with loved ones, and even a nap rather than being productive, constantly working and making a buck. It definitely seems more fun in Italy.

I look forward to working my normal shift from 8:30 AM to 5 PM at my non-retail job on Friday. And sleeping until I have to get ready for work. And doing something other than shopping afterward.

Who's with me?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Poverty and Spending Habits

I am really poor. I suppose I would be what you call "house poor." I usually try my best not to complain and I did not intend this blog to be my forum to rant. It's pretty frustrating to be able to just make all your bill payments and have so little left over each paycheck, but... on the other hand, I'm okay with paying my most expensive bill which is rent for my beautiful apartment. I love every single second I'm here. It is so beyond worth it. And I would not trade it to be back at my parents' house for anything. In the spirit of upcoming Thanksgiving, I am so so very grateful.

My Lovely Living Room



You know you're poor when:

- you have more nail polish in your refrigerator than actual food.*
- you're the recipient of a "care package."
- you hear a rumor that you may receive another one from the same person at Thanksgiving dinner.
- you go to the gas station and put a single gallon into your tank.
- you've been living in your apartment for months and have yet to use the building's coin-operated washer.**
- cappuccino and pastry totaling almost $6 strikes you as very expensive and as a very occasional treat.

*It's a beauty secret to store your nail lacquer in the fridge. It makes it last longer and helps so the pigments do not separate. I have five OPI colors (You're a Pisa Work, It's All Greek to Me, Florentine Fuschia, California Raspberry, and Big Apple Red) and one bottle of clear Top Coat. At $8.50 a pop, I'd like for it to last 'til  the last drop! The food part excludes condiments and bottles of water.

**I use my parents' for free!



See? Pretty poor. I'm looking forward to December where I'll have three paydays instead of two. Plus, my boss at our two person office is four months along with a very at-risk pregnancy so I'll be taking over things and more hours 'til like summer. I can't wait to have savings again so I can have peace of mind. Plus alittle more food... Like any Italian, I love to eat! And to renew my driver's license with my new address and my passport (it's been almost a decade!). Those fees are expensive!

I thought I was being frugal in saving for six months prior to my trip to Italy! Frugality has really entered my thought process now! Even with that said, however, I am (still) fundamentally a spender, not a saver. (I know I am primarily of the "rewards" variety too. You know... I work hard, so I deserve it.) When I have alittle money, I think "What could I do/buy today?" When it's a lot, I do see it or a portion of it as "real" savings. I see and understand how little things add up in spending though, a la "the latte factor." I wonder if I'll ever turn into a saver with time... Nonetheless, I know these lessons like living without so much and this questioning of every single purchase will serve me well in life.

I truly believe that life is what you make it. And that bored people are boring. I haven't been out too too much (with going out being the more expensive option), but I haven't really felt deprived. I manage to have a good time. My recent vacation being an excellent example of that! Nonetheless, with money, it'll be nice to go out again... I love going out! It'll make for more interesting reading here! For now, stay with me! I still have ideas for future posts!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend Activities

Here's to Nights Out!

I had a first date Saturday night, and it was really fun. We went out to dinner at a very nice restaurant and then we decided to have a drink in its bar. Unbeknownst to us, it was karoke night and we arrived just in time. I didn't sing, but truly love live music and thoroughly enjoyed listening, ...even if half of it was country music (which is not my favorite). Some of the singers were especially entertaining. Oh and one guy sang "Sweet Caroline" and I thought of my college friends since it's our song. (Don't judge. LOL!) We even danced, pushing tables out of the way to create a dance floor. It was such a great crowd of fun-loving people... Hours flew by like minutes! It was great to be on a date, so great to be out and to stumble upon something great. I realize that the bigger story here is the guy, not the activities, ...and he's not the one for me.

While doing laundry at my parents on Sunday afternoon, I watched "Crazy, Stupid, Love" since they had it for 24 hours on their Fios and recommended it. And I really liked it! How come I didn't see this before? I also went back to my parents' for a delicious steak dinner later. After that, my friend M came over and we just hung out for a few hours. I love having my own apartment and being able to have people over!

This upcoming Friday, I'm starting my weekend off right by going out to dinner with my friend and old co-worker D. To one of my favorite places, a local spot serving up the best pit beef sandwiches! Our go-to restaurant closed, so maybe, hopefully, this one'll replace it. My all-time favorite sandwich and a cold beer with a guy friend, I can't wait. He calls himself my brother. This brother of mine and I usually go out to eat maybe like once a season? So it'll be good to catch up. I just can't wait to go out again! On my budget, it just hasn't been happening as much as I'd like. I love going out. It's evident here that I truly appreciate when I do, when it's not so often.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Vacation Days 3, 4, and 5

My vacation's almost over as I have to be back at work tomorrow. I've had a really great time!

Here are some highlights...

Where in the World is Matt Lauer? on the Today Show started this week. I've liked Tuesday's and Thursday's destinations best so far-- Madrid, Spain and the Jungfraujoch of Switzerland (which is on top of the peak, the Jungfrau, in the Alps). I love culture... Anyway, while I was getting ready today, I started humming something to myself and then I realized it was the theme song of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? I was in elementary school when this children's TV game show was on during the early 90s.

I had a friend over for dinner on Tuesday. I made baked chicken breasts and smashed red skin potatoes.

Finished a really good book on Wednesday. I simply had a pretty chill day.

Today, my friend E and I strolled the historic Main Street, West Street and Maryland Avenue of nearby Annapolis, Maryland. Both of us have been looking forward to this outing because we adore Annapolis. We browsed many of the interesting shops and cute boutiques of these streets. It's difficult to pick our favorites among these fabulous stores of mainly artisanal products, but we liked the import stores best. Like the Italian ceramic and French linen shop called Plat du Jour and the Irish imports store (formally known as Avoca, I believe). We skipped all of the souvenir shops. Both of us didn't purchase all that much, but still thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. E can now check her mom off her Christmas shopping list. I only came away with a few postcards. We also had the most delicious french dips for lunch at McGarvey's near the harbor. I highly recommend a trip to this charming capital city.


After that, we decided to head over to a local shopping center called the Annapolis Harbour Center. We enjoyed decadent chocolate desserts at the Barnes and Noble cafe and then browsed the stores of the strip mall. I bought a couple of cards and a package of Christmas cards I'd been wanting for awhile at the Hallmark there. (I'm a Hallmark-aholic.)

I'm not ready for this vacation to be over! I suppose I have a few hours 'til I have to go to sleep!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Vacation Day Number 2

I ended up watching five episodes of How I Met Your Mother last night. I love that show. I love the type of humor-- where they name ideas and come up with rules for each scheme. I feel like I want to quote the show in real life. I also enjoy their friendship, the way Lily seems to know everything about the group or is usually right, and Ted's commitment to finding the love of his life. For being such a fan, I really don't watch it much. In fact, I've only seen one of those five episodes before! It does come on Mondays at primetime though, so perhaps I'll catch the episode tonight...

I had a pretty good day today too, Vacation day Number 2. I enjoyed some hot chocolate and read a bit this morning at Starbucks (I've accounted for them all here, that's number 3, and I just can't afford any more for awhile!) while I had some laundry in the wash at my parents'. My mom generously bought me an artificial Christmas tree (Just $19.99 at Michael's Arts and Crafts!). She was actually disappointed at how small the four foot tree actually was on display, in person. I, on the other hand, loved the size. I was considering one of those metal ornament holders which max out at 6 to 8 ornaments. I just don't need a big tree when I currently live in a one bedroom apartment and don't want a big family living in a single family home gathering around a big tree in the future. I feel that this is more European than American of me. It came in a small box with a convenient handle so I can store and move with it easily. This one comes pre-lit with white lights. I do love Christmas trees overall and am happy to have picked this one up today. I'm all about giving and decorating. Taking it a beautiful and lit tree at Christmastime during a quiet time is always something I remember each year. I bought a star, red tree skirt and red ornaments while living in my apartment in Philadelphia. I just hope the scale of these things isn't too off! Truly believing in the "one in, one out" decluttering philsophy, with this new addition, I donated two bags of holiday decorations to the Salvation Army. I may donate more if I have way too many ornaments for such a small tree. In Philadelphia, I borrowed my family's 6 foot tree while they enjoyed a real tree that year and then decorated it on quite the budget. I was happy to have it up during my Christmas party I threw. That was fun and just what we needed at the end of a long semester.

I love the white owl ornament that I found on Kate's blog, Une Vie Chic!
I subsequently pinned to one of my Pinterest boards.
It's available at Crate & Barrel

One of the highlights of my afternoon was reading a book on my balcony. However, I would love to invest in better patio furniture. Right now I have two white plastic chairs and a small glass top table I scored dirt cheap at Target. I was sitting in one chair with my feet on the other and wasn't uncomfortable but I could just be much more comfy lounging in something else, something that costs more than a single digit of dollars. They were with me in Philly too. To go with those new lounge chairs or loveseat arrangement, I could also have my favorite flower, dark pink azaleas planted in a big terra cotta pot... They bloom at the time of my birthday you know. I also whipped up a dozen chocolate chip cookies from the Betty Crocker mix this afternoon.

I made myself my signature dish for dinner. Penne pasta with a tomato basil sauce with sauteed vegetables. Casually, the vegetables are usually red pepper and zucchini  and this was no exception. I treated myself to a bottle of cheap Chianti too. Anyway, it really turned out well. Even though I've made this dish on many ordinary and memorable occasions, it always takes me back to learning how to make it with my German roommates in our apartment in Pescara, Italy, during my study abroad experience in 2005. I still think of their instructions despite doing things my own way now.

My Specialty: Penne Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce and Sauteed Red Pepper and Zucchini

...and the night is still young! Maybe a facial mask and pedicure over a chick flick AKA a "Michelle Movie?"

I'm thoroughly enjoying myself, but life is best shared, and the remainder of my vacation should be much more social!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

*Vacation Days*

I'm using three or four vacation days this week before they expire at year end. I have to say that with the extra hour of sleep from Daylight Savings Time ending, my vacation started off pretty well.

After an errand and browsing Home Goods while waiting for the library to open today, I hit the library for a stack of books to enjoy all vacation long and then stopped by Starbucks for their delicious, decadent hot chocolate. (I know this is mentioned two posts in a row; I'm addicted.) My afternoon was interrupted by my Carbon Monoxide detector going off, but luckily I have connections working on the property and stresslessly called the maintenance guy right over. Perhaps this is a sign that I should spend some time outside of my apartment...

J's Photo of the Fancy Hot Chocolate at Cafe Florian in Venice

You would think that lover of travel that I am, I would go away during my vacation time, but, unfortunately, with bills, I am so very poor until next paycheck, that I simply cannot afford it. On Thursday, however, I am getting out of town though, if only to Annapolis, the next town over. The city has a lovely 18th Century Main Street, full of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops. A friend and I are strolling down it that afternoon. I'm excited. If I have out-of-town friend visiting or a big event to celebrate, I often go to Annapolis. I think that's the only day of the week when rain is forecasted, oh well...

View of Main Street from the Italian Restaurant Piccola Roma

In addition to reading and my daytrip, I have to figure out fabulous ways to spend the rest of my vacation! Without spending any money... I have already arranged for some friends to come over a couple of evenings. Maybe I can catch a How I Met Your Mother marathon on TV... (Legendary! LOL) I love that show yet rarely watch it... Not that I watch a lot of TV anyway. Or maybe I'll rent that new Ryan Reynolds/ Jason Bateman movie when it comes out on Tuesday. I love them both. The Change Up? Something like that. Has anyone seen it? Is it any good? Rentals are low cost. I would also love to walk on the bike trail in this beautiful fall weather we're having. Having gone to the grocery store last night, I have a few things to bake and I love baking and now cooking. In fact, I baked Crescents filled with chocolate chips already. I'm sure I'll think up plenty and have a fun yet relaxing vacation.

Here's to my vacation! Cin cin!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Very Merry


I figure since we had snowflakes falling from the sky (in October) yesterday, that the time of year for hot chocolate has arrived. I had my first cup at Panera this morning. I quite enjoyed it over the latest issue of Budget Travel, which has Venice on its cover. I've been there... This year. :)

Speaking of the winter season coming up, I love this...


"Eat, drink and be merry" is one of my favorite holiday quotes and themes! :) 

I also love fall, and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous fall weekend!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Wandering around Philadelphia

I visited my beloved city of Philadelphia yesterday with my friend J. I hit some of my favorite spots and J happily tagged along.


The LOVE Sculpture in LOVE Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Upon arriving, we fueled up at Au Bon Pain, conveniently located in the train station (30th Street Station). After getting off the subway in Center City and emerging next to City Hall, we walked through the tents and protest signs of the "Occupy Movement." J asked me what I thought about their ideology, but this is, honestly, the first time I've heard of it. Apparently I need to find out what's going on with this nationwide string of protests!

We headed to the shopping district along Walnut and Chestnut Streets, stopping into some of the stores. I bought my boss a cute little birthday gift at the beautiful boutique called Tselaine, which is on Walnut at 20th Street. In the neighborhood, we went back to the Italian market called Di Bruno Bros. for lunch. We dined upstairs in the cafe, which was first for me. My chicken cutlet club sandwich with Abbruzzo sauce on foccaccia was delicious.

Next, we walked down almost every aisle of the Reading Terminal Market, a huge indoor market. Obsessed with food, it's my favorite place in the city. So many temptations... Every stand has something interesting! Luckily, we went on a Monday and it wasn't absolutely crammed with people. We ate delicious ice cream from Bassett's which is one of the original stands. Recently celebrating their 150th anniversary, we sat on stools and paid some attention to a video documenting their long history. I also picked up cranberry/ pistachio and chocolate/ cherry biscotti from the Termini Bros stand. It is delicious as well. I have been looking forward to eating it with espresso for breakfast at home for awhile now. Even though they're very well done, I'm not sure if I can profess my undying love for biscotti... It's kind of like stale sweet bread. Nonetheless, it's nice to change it up. I also purchased a postcard for my penpal, making sure it had a Philadelphia postmark later.

The Reading Terminal Market
See Bassett's Ice Cream on the left.

We wandered down Market Street towards Old City, not absolutely sure what we'd find. We got to see the Liberty Bell ...though through the glass window since we deemed the lines were too long to enter the building. We stumbled across the historic Washington Square, which is a small park, its path studded with the informative plaques of a museum. Getting back to Center City, we killed some time walking down South Broad Street before hopping on the subway from there to head back to the train station. (Market and Broad are perpendicular to each other and are the major roads in town.)

We were only in Philly for less than eight hours and it felt like just enough, possibly bordering on just a bit too much as we were exhausted from walking around all day. It had been six months since my last visit, on the occasion of my birthday actually, and I was so happy to be back. I'm not over Philly and I can still barely afford travel, but it'll be nice to visit other cities. I'm ready now. :) In fact, J and I were talking about Boston, a city I've reallyreally wanted to visit for awhile now. This is farther away from home and so just wouldn't be a day trip. Maybe... I've been all around Boston but never to the city itself. Hopefully I can make it happen within the next year...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Apartment Home

My Apartment in Pictures

Benvenuto!

I hope you enjoy looking around.

My Bedroom

 My bedroom in charcoal gray, white and a pop of deep red.
The boxspring is simply covered in a queen-size fitted sheet.

 I love that photograph. I picked it up on South Street when I lived in Philadelphia. I put it over my kitchen sink in that apartment and have, unfortunately, splashed dirty dishwater on it. I put it in a frame right before moving into my current apartment.
I scored that throw pillow on etsy, bedbuggs.

I love the print on my duvet cover and shams, which are from West Elm.

 On my nightstand. The photograph can be found on the etsy shop for the amazing trekkerjen.
All my frames in the bedroom are black.

 One of my nightstands, Avington Collection,  Target.
I also have the chest topped with framed photos of me and friends.

A detail of my jewelry armoire, JC Penney. These panels remind me of rose windows of a duomo.

I love this modernized classic accent table from HomeGoods.

My Living Room

 That sofa is an absolute steal from Value City Furniture.
The end tables and cocktail table are again Avington Collection, Target.
The lamps are also from Target.
My Italian street art all hangs above the sofa.
The sofa is opposite a TV stand of the same collection. A old TV and several silver framed photos top it.


My throw pillows are, yet again, from Target.

My street art from Italia.

 Stacks of books on my coffee table shelf.

 Another stack. The top two were very thoughtful gifts.

On my cocktail table.

Detail of the knob of an end table.

My Kitchen
 
Cookbooks in the kitchen.

My Dining Room
 
I scored my dining table dirt cheap at Goodwill.
There's a haunted house currently on top for Halloween.

 That's a wrinkly old poster of Venezia that once adorned my college dorm walls.
I had it custom framed and matted.

 A closeup.

 My wine cabinet with wine glasses hanging.
(I need help filling the twelve spaces for wine!)
I have a large collection of so many types of glasses,
which pretty much fills up my linen closet.

My Desk Area

My desk area. The desk and file cabinet are Avington Collection.
I love my framed cork board leaning against the wall,
primarily filled with postcards from friends.
And that glass lamp, was on clearance
(and sold without its shade) from Target.
That chair is from Pier 1 Imports, cheap from when a location
was going out of business.
On it is a throw pillow with a cityscape on it, from Target.
I wouldn't mind replacing that bookshelf from IKEA.
As a person only owning what I love, I own around 100 books, which I try to impose as a limit.
Two whole cubes are full of Italy travel narratives.
I also have a small white ceramic owl from West Elm on my bookshelf,
among other little things I love.

 My Nina Garcia style books and a cute little lamp from Pier 1 on my EXPEDIT bookshelf.

Another shelf.
The white vase is cheap from Michael's. I love the white on the dark wood shelves.
And yeah... I'm travel-obsessed.

My very talented friend F made this for me and it hangs in my hallway.

My balcony which I love. I need to upgrade that furniture...
 ...and another one for good luck!