Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Walk


I walk with a friend every Monday after my shift. So, I put on my Pumas at 5 o'clock and then we leave my store to walk the mall. We're up to 3 laps, and since I think a lap is a mile, that means we're walking 3 miles. We can hardly wait 'til spring when we can get outside and walk the local bike trails. It is a bit of a workout since I feel it in my legs, but I still think of it more as a social thing. We pretty much talk nonstop for the hour. I like routine things with friends.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Perfume, Specifically a Signature Scent


Growing up, I didn't really like perfume. If I was drawn to scents at all, I preferred ones that smelled like they would taste good, you know... like "warm vanilla sugar" (which is by Bath & Body Works). Definitely not floral or perfumy!

I suppose in a desire to want to be sophisticated or grown up, I changed my mind. I bought my first and only bottle on my birthday last year during my visit to Philadelphia. It probably doesn't surprise you that I wanted whatever the ultimate classic was. So, I loved that I liked the scent of Chanel No. 5. I actually wear the 'Eau Premiere' formula, which is a recombination of different proportions of the same elements producing a lighter version of the original. Even the bottle design seems lighter, more girly than the original. Isn't altering a classic a modern take on it? It's so fresh yet feminine. I wear it everyday.

I love the idea of a signature scent. It fits in with my minimalist philosophy rather well, huh? Just one bottle and no urge to own others. But I love it more because it's individualistic, part of your own personal trademark of style. And perfume can be a subtle constant. Wearing a specific article of clothing everyday might be overkill. Furthermore, a signature scent would be style, not a fashion trend. In her book, The One Hundred, Nina Garcia advises readers to stick to a signature scent because she believes scent to be powerful, immediately and vividly taking you back to a memory. "...so when that old lover steps into the elevator and smells your scent, he'll remember the one that got away..." she elaborates.

Coco Chanel advises women to wear perfume "wherever one wants to be kissed."

It was Ms. Chanel who also said, "A woman who does not wear perfume has no future."

This post was actually sparked by another quote of her's. I don't think I knew the saying "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous" originated with Chanel. I learned that today. This was a woman who was so confident in her style and how she chose to live her life. I hope I'm building and wearing my personal sense of style with confidence.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Surprise


Slice of Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I love surprises. Both giving and getting.

And since my bonus for me and my team exceeding the sales goal for the month of December was in today's paycheck, I got to surprise my associates with a thank you chocolate chip cookie cake. (My part-timers do not receive a bonus even though they helped achieve the goal.) What can be better than chocolate chip cookie topped with frosting? Everyone works sometime this weekend, so I hope everyone enjoys it. My co-worker and I thoroughly did this evening! I tried to take a picture of it before we dove in, so my other employees could see or expect a treat, but my camera battery must have died! My co-worker took one with his phone. I happened to choose red and white frosting. It was delicious!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day ...before it's too late!


Every once in awhile I'll browse Real Simple's home page. And an article entitled "Celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day" from a series called "Kick-Start Your New Year" totally caught my eye! :) It's today, and there are many links to recipes to try.

Chocolate cake is my favorite food. And the more decadent the better!

So there you go!

~Enjoy~

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Minimalist Michelle, One Month Later




I announced I was becoming a (relative) minimalist, having some stuff, but only what I love, want, and use. Even with getting into it, I'm still not going very far, but I have made impressive progress since this post one month ago today.

A week into it, I donated 21 books, which you can read more about in this update. I donated them quickly and don't miss 'em. I added two cheap white vases and "the Kiki vase" in the empty spaces of my bookshelves and I am very pleased with the visual result. The white contrasts nicely with the black-brown finish. I've been liking white a lot for awhile now and have been considering white vases for years actually. White is nice for a refreshing start, right? I hope to upgrade my bookshelves from the Ikea Expedit to the Target Avington Collection someday...

I also donated a medium-sized box (like 16"x14"x14" or something like that...) full to the top with stuff. Stuff I liked, but didn't love. I mostly pulled from the stuff lying around my living space than the things packed away in closets for use in my next apartment. I actually have a hard time remembering all the random items that went in... I said "good bye" to several garden gnomes, not the cutest of them though. I suppose I trashed some things as well, like some small trinkets I had sitting in front of my books for example.

Overall, the book The Joy of Less helped me out, I highly recommend it to anyone considering living with less. The author thinks that surrounding yourself with only the items you love and appreciate is living gracefully. I love that idea! ...and it serves as major motivation. In addition, I try to remember that I am not what I own. As a former student of Art History, I want things to symbolize parts of me (and almost to impress others with all my interests), but just because I don't have the souvenir anymore for example, doesn't mean I haven't been to the place nor does it take away the memories. I can still tell people about my amazing trip without the visual reminder. I need to keep the big picture in mind. In fact, she actually tells you to close your eyes and imagine the perfect room, which of course is uncluttered, and only showcases the best pieces (in their own breathing room), not making the room look like a quirky corner of a flea market. I refer to this minimalism bible less and less now for motivation and guidance. The author is right... it does get easier over time.

My second medium-sized box is more than halfway full now. I have some DVDs and a couple of handbags (one "Prada" off the street in Italy and another with the tags still on) among other random items. I'll probably fill the box, but am unsure how much more decluttering I can do on this scale. I didn't have loads of stuff to begin with! However, I know I can stick with the 'one in, one out' rule.

I like the space I'm getting. The items I love are more prominent. What I like most about the earned space is that the room's closer to the ideal picture in my mind, closer to how I wanna live, with sophistication.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hotel Aurora and Piazza delle Erbe

Hotel Aurora
~check out the breakfast terrace~

Piazza delle Erbe
~market site plus beautiful and interesting piazza~

Verona
~painted facade on Piazza delle Erbe~

At the Piazza delle Erbe
~this photo was taken last month~

Madonna Verona
~the piazza's fountain~

My big splurge on my trip to Italy will be staying a night at the Hotel Aurora, which is on the beautiful Piazza delle Erbe in Verona. It even has a terrace overlooking it! I'm in the middle of reserving a single room with bathroom inside it by e-mail, and I'm very excited! After a long flight, it'll be nice to have a hotel room instead of a hostel (like what I'll have for the next two nights).

About Piazza delle Erbe (Square of Herbs):

-It has such a long history, this was the town's Roman forum.
-A century later, Verona was conquered by Venice in 1405, so the lion of St. Mark presides over the piazza.
-It's been a marketplace for awhile. In medieval times, the stone canopy in the middle held scales where merchants weighed their goods.
-That fountain's statue was originally Roman, but it lost its head and arms. When new ones were created, it morphed into the Madonna, "the Madonna Verona."
-The towers are medieval, each commissioned by a noble family.
-A couple of the bells of the towers were cast in 1464.
-Palace facades were painted during the Renaissance.
-Statues of Jupiter, Venus, Apollo, Hercules, and Minevra top a Baroque-style building.
-There's a more touristy piazza in town, so hopefully I can mix with the locals here in having an evening aperitivo or passeggiata (drink or walk).
-And shop at the market which sells a variety of things. There's a scent of herbs and spices in the air.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

*happy Italy planning*

Duomo di Milano

I'm having a good time planning for my Verona, Venezia, Padova, Milano trip...

I really need to crack open my ol' Italian textbook! So I can speak la bella lingua ...and get what I need while there.

I picked up my euros, only 24 hours after placing the order! I also picked up Lonely Planet's Milan guide at the library.

It turns out that two months isn't enough advance notice to view Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper for 15 minutes... oh well, I'm not an official Art Historian anymore, I don't have to see it. I don't have much time in Milan anyway. I hope to arrive a bit before time for an aperitivo which Lonely Planet says the Milanese have heightened to "an art form." I also learned that the high-end shops, like Gucci, Prada, and Versace are in a single area, (an area close to the Duomo at that). The equivalent of Rome's Via dei Condotti in Milan is called Quadrilatero d'Oro. Plus, usually you see the outside of the city's highly decorative Duomo, but the guide offered an interior shot, which seems just as impressive! And I will actually see the exterior since years and years of facade restoration is now complete. I can't wait to be in my beautiful, awe-inspiring Italia.

I discovered a restaurant out of my Rick Steves' Venice book. I'm excited about it because it doesn't serve seafood, but is still, somehow, considered traditional. I actually don't like seafood... I was a pretty picky eater as a kid, which I have outgrown to a large extent. For example, my love of Italy has gotten me over hating melted gooey cheese. During study abroad, I had a rule that I wasn't gonna turn anything down offered to me, and I didn't. On my 26th birthday I tried eel sushi and seaweed! ...but I still haven't gotten over my dislike of seafood and its fishy taste. I have tried a bite of seabass which I think is a more meaty fish. I want to like seafood, especially if I live in Italy one day, it's surrounded by water on three sides! Anyway, the place is called "Enoteca e Trattoria la Bitta." When people journal their trips to Venice and mention it, they always have fabulous things to say about it. Their small menu changes with what's good at the local market. Cash only. Dinner only. Reservations only.

Speaking of reservations, I haven't heard back from the (perfect) hotel I wanted to stay at in Verona. I suppose I'll go send the request again...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Poor Job Market Rant

I usually try to only post about happy things. ...the little things in life I greatly appreciate, how I live life passionately, or something that strikes me as Italian. ...but I must admit that I have come to hate my job. It's a lot of stress, I'm always on call, and I work hard for such a pittance of pay. I suppose I have a limit for that, must be 20 months. I need some respect. ..and apparently a change. I'm beginning not to care about every little aspect of every task and I hate that. A highlight of my job is selling, but few people wander in during the slower months of January and February, so even that sucks! I haven't even told my boss about my Italy trip in March because I truly hoped to not be there by then.

So, I started to apply to jobs in the middle of December, on average it's been about one application a day. I apply somewhere most days, and like today, I often apply to two positions. That must be over 50 jobs. And I haven't head back from a single one, which is truly frustrating. I do receive answers from posting my resume and its cover letter on CareerBuilder. The single phone call I received was for selling insurance to the elderly (which is how I got one of my associates, he ran away from that). And then I receive an e-mail or two a week for being a car salesperson. And another one today for selling insurance. With my great fear of driving and strong desire to give up my 12-year-old car, I somehow don't consider that a match... That's it. I meticulously craft each cover letter, using the same words as the ad and elaborating on them. I'm such a model employee that this is starting to get ridiculous! I understand that there's five unemployed people out there for every vacancy, but I haven't received a single call back from an employer I applied to... It's also frustrating to see "apply for immediate interview" and then see that they continue to post the same ad for multiple weeks. I'm not applying to five jobs a day because I just can't not love my job and there are very few jobs out there.

What I'd really like to do with the rest of my life is work in a study abroad office on a college campus. I feel fortunate to know this. I have even tried this out working as a volunteer in such an office following my study abroad experience. I apply to those when they are nearby because I am restricted to this area by debt. When I have the savings to move out on my own, I can move anywhere in the country for a  job. There have been more entry level jobs out there after the initial hiring freezes duing the first couple years of the recession. Unfortunately, a bachelor's degree in Art History, a liberal art, doesn't get you very far. Though I have seen a couple of job ads that prefer "a college degree."

I apply for many apartment leasing consultant positions. I like the idea of helping people choose their next home. My selling skills would easily transfer. Plus, my next goal after my Italy vacation, is to move out on my own again. This way, I would eventually have an employee discount on rent.

I also apply for receptionist or administrative assistant jobs, ones that do not require experience, but rather "will train energetic person." Many of those want a customer service background which I have in spades.

The only employment experience I have is in retail, a field I no longer like and want to escape. I have 10 years of experience. Would I be over qualified for anything but store manager? Which I definitely do not want. I have applied to a single retail gig, but haven't heard back from them either!

This is very frustrating.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Travel: Italy Trip Plans

Venezia

On this day two months from now I'll be in Italy! I am so excited...

I was hoping to meet my Italian penpal there, but, unfortunately, I'm pretty sure she can't make it. She's not even in Italy right now, but Ireland. Having posted a request for one on a website that hooks people up with penpals, I've actually never met her, and would really love to. We've been writing to each other (real paper letters with stamps) since about November 2006. Maybe I'll get my chance to meet her in May when she visits New York! She did mention Philadelphia, which I'd love to show her, so I'm anxiously awaiting her next letter for the details. Sometimes we send/post messages over Facebook, so that's how I found out.

So anyway, since finding that out last night, I started to plan...

On Wednesday, March 16th, I fly to Italy. Since it's on the domestic airline, Delta, I can get away with a larger domestic-sized carry-on of 45 linear inches (length+width+depth) or like 21" tall (instead of the smaller international-sized 40 linear inch or 19" tall bag I already own). I'll pick up a 21" at work maybe on my next payday on the 28th. I'd be using the bigger carry-on because I won't be checking any bags going to Italy. I scored an awesome deal on a 24" non-wheeled duffel that folds up well and will pack that. So, coming back, I can check a small bag of clothes and keep my fragile souvenirs (mainly Italian street art and murano glass) with me in my carry-on. I haven't had a test run in packing yet, but that's the plan. From experience, I've become a light packer. From study abroad, I have a small hairdryer and flat iron with Italian plugs and electricity use. ...and it's six days including travel time, so I think that's entirely doable.

I arrive in Milano on the morning of St. Patrick's Day. First, I will head to Verona by train, (I will take the bus from Malpensa airport to the Milano Centrale train station and then take a train ride to Verona's Porta Nuova train station). I just wanna wander around, act more like a local than a tourist. And eat and drink. I've already seen Juliet's balcony, but will probably follow the crowds to it again nonetheless. There's a still shot in the movie Letters to Juliet where it's sunset over its Piazza delle Erbe and it's so beautiful I'm like mesmerized for a sec.! I've inquired about reservations for a night at a hotel sitting on this very piazza but haven't heard back. It has a balcony overlooking the piazza, which was a forum in Roman times.

The next morning (on the 18th) I head to Venezia by train. I'll check into my hostel at noon. I've stayed there in 2005, so I know where the check-in office is, where the random red door that diagonally faces the street is, which is important in Venice since it's incredibly easy to get lost. Last time, I slept above reception, but the owners have rooms all over Venice. So, even if it's a long walk, who cares, because I won't have heavy luggage! I've placed a deposit on a bed in a 6-bed mixed (meaning males and females) room with a bathroom inside for two nights. Given that the exchange rate doesn't go crazy between now and then, I'll be under budget by $12. (They like cash for the balance upon arrival.) Since I've already seen the sights, I'll go shopping! ...and visit the island of Murano. And, again, eat. There's a lot of gelato in my future. I'm also gonna look through my book entitled Italy for the Gourmet Traveler for tips. Rick Steves thoroughly covers the pub crawl in his Venice 2011 guidebook. Here, you have a bunch of little appetizers (like tapas) called cicchetti and a before-dinner drink, an aperitivo. My Venetian friend Luigi ordered me a Spritz on my last trip to Venice in 2005, so I know about that. I may look for his e-mail address and ask to meet up, I may not.

On Sunday morning (the 20th), I'll head to Padova, which is a 30-minute train ride. I have a 1 o'clock reservation to see the Scrovegni Chapel, which was painted by an artist named Giotto. He's big in Art History. I've also seen his frescoes in the Church of St. Francis in Assisi. I have to pick up my ticket an hour early so I'll bum around Padua, a university town. They have a highly regarded and lively market every morning (*edit: every morning but Sunday! oh well... More time in Venice!).

After the chapel visit, I'll head back to Milan on the same Milan-Verona-Vicenza-Padua-Venice train line I've been using (2 1/2 hour ride). Maybe see the Duomo? Window shop the high fashion? I ordered a Milan guidebook to be sent to my local library and still have my personal copy of Rick Steves' Italy 2007 for some ideas in this city. I'll check into an airport hotel, which will be convenient (close and a shuttle) for my early flight the next morning. I've chosen one, but I'll reserve it online soon, the morning of my next payday on the 28th at the latest.

This morning, I ordered euros from my bank. For $527.02, I'll be receiving 375 euros, and have to pay a delivery fee of $7.50 on top. I'm on track in my savings for the trip. See my budget for the trip here.

I like that I don't have to shuffle from sight to sight to sight... I can simply experience each town.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review: "Head over Heel"

Apparently this photo captures part of the main town the author wrote about, Andrano.

I finished the book "Head over Heel, Seduced by Southern Italy" by Chris Harrison last night (which is perfect because "The Joy of Less" finally arrived today!).

Italy travel narrative seems to get better and better, and that's the case here. I love the author for falling madly in love with an Italian woman, he adored her... and followed her to Italy, backward Southern Italy on the heel of the boot at that. Of course he fell for Italy as well. So I think the word "seduced" in the title is perfect. On every single page he humorously illustrates how living (and not just visiting) in this area is "frustrating yet fun." It's certainly a package deal, taking the (really) good with the (really) bad. He also thoroughly explained how he's a foreigner both at home and abroad. (Whatever home is to him, this book only covered two years in Italy, he probably left.) On one of the last pages, he goes further to say that living in two places created two different identities, two different people that "probably wouldn't have gotten along" (312). I've always loved travel narrative for putting things/ feelings about travel/ living abroad into elegant and perfect words that I just couldn't articulate.

I wonder if I could live long-term in Italy... and even with the sublime pleasures of this country, handle all those frustrations with humor!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Michelle's Movie Review


I have seen three movies this past week. Three! I usually see that many in six months or more! Work has been stressful lately and I like turning off my cell phone so I'm not possibly on call. This movie ...marathon... helped me relax.

First up was Little Fockers which was really good, just as funny and entertaining as the first two! It was great to see both sets of in-laws and Owen Wilson's character back. It wasn't a very crowded theater for the matinee showing I attended, and I had to break the silence and let myself laugh out loud. If you enjoyed the first two, go see the latest installment, like now; you won't be disappointed!

The second one was How Do You Know? You would think that this is my favorite of three because it's a romantic comedy. Different groups of friends of mine have called romantic comedies "Michelle movies" as I love them so much! ...but it was actually my least favorite. I love all three actors, especially Paul Rudd, who's physical comedy is simply fun to watch. It's just that the writing was bad. Often I couldn't believe the characters were saying what they did. Wait 'til it comes out on rental; have a Paul Rudd marathon.

Tonight's movie was The King's Speech. This film was highly rated and I got a rave review from a customer yesterday. Plus I adore Colin Firth, so I had to go see it! It was good, just a plain good story. Going into it I was unsure what century was represented. It turned out it was 1930s Britain, as Hitler was rising to power. British history has always interested me, but I don't wanna lead you astray, this history took a backseat to the story- the speech therapy and the rocky rapport between the royal patient and the speech therapist.

As a girls night with a few of my old high school friends Friday, we may do dinner and a movie... Perhaps I could convince them to see The Tourist? And let Johnny Depp in on our girls night... Is anything else good?

You guys know that I'm saving for my upcoming trip to Italy. So you should also know that I didn't break the bank to see these movies. The first one was a matinee which cost $7.50. The next one was at a theater that only charges $7 all day and night on Wednesdays. And for the third I visited a theater that I received a gift card for at Christmas, so it was free to me! I probably don't see movies in the theater very much because of the high cost. ...it's been fun this week though.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Travel: Philadelphia's Center City Restaurant Week


Philadelphia neighborhood Center City is having its Restaurant Week soon. A 3-course lunch is $20 and a 3-course dinner is $35. And a lot of Philly places are BYOB, so the wine can be affordable as well. It's January 16th-21st and the 23rd-28th, which means it's just a week away!

For more information--> http://www.uwishunu.com/2010/12/center-city-restaurant-week-returns-in-january-offering-two-weeks-of-35-prix-fixe-dinners-and-20-prix-fixe-lunches/

Each restaurant posts their choices for the three courses. My eye goes to the Italian restaurants of course and their specials all look so squisito!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Italian Song on the Radio

So that weird techno-y song with the word "americano" you've been hearing on the radio is Italian.

It is called "We No Speak Americano" by Yolanda Be Cool & DCup.

Listen to it here:



Here are the lyrics:

Comme te po’
Comme te po’
Comme te po’ capì chi te vò bene
si tu le parle ‘mmiezzo americano?
Quando se fa l’ammore sotto ‘a luna
come te vene ‘capa e di: “I love you!?”
Pa pa l’ americano
Pa pa l’ americano
Pa pa l’ americano
fa l’ americano!
Pa pa l’ americano
Fa fa l’ americano
whïsky soda e rockenroll
whïsky soda e rockenroll
whïsky soda e rockenroll…



...translates to:

how can I
how can I
how can I make you understand that I care about you
if you speak half American?
When we make love under the moon
How can you even think of saying "I love you" (she's not supposed to speak in English)
act act like an American
He acts like an American!


It's the dance version of an Italian song called "Tu vuo fa l'americano" ("You want to pretend to be American"). The translation is:

You wear your pants with a label at the back
and a hat with a front
you walk by Toledo
like a beauty to be looked at!!!

you want to look like an American
American American
but listen to me who's asking you to?
you want to be fashionable
but if you drink whisky and soda
then you feel queesy!

You want to dance rock and roll
you play baseball
but the money for the camels
who give it to you??
Mummy's handbag!

You want to pretend to be American
American American
but you are born in Italy
Listen to me
there is nothing to do
Okay? napolitan!

You want to pretend to be American
You want to pretend to be American

How can those who love you understand you
if you speak half in American?
when one talks of love under the moon
how can you say "i love you"?

You want to pretend to be American
But you are born in Italy!
listen to me - there is nothing to do
ok, napolitan?
Whisky and soda and rock and roll...



When I know more, you'll know more!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Birthday Celebration Plans

I love my birthday, which is April 15th, a Friday in 2011. My little trip to Italy in March will be my primary celebration and my gift to myself for the year, but I still wanna mark the day, share it with friends and do something else, especially during my actual birth month. So I've been brainstorming for the perfect thing to do.

I'd really like to hostess and prepare an Italian feast like I did a previous year, but I'll save that for when I have my own place. Another idea I had was to visit Philly; I love Philadelphia, but that's where I was just last year. Traveler that I am, I love being out of town on my birthday, so I have also considered visiting Boston! I've only been to its suburbs; Salem was a highlight for example, so I would love to see the actual city! ...visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner House and the Museum of Fine Art and patronize the very Italian Hanover Street. ...but I don't think I can finance a trip a month after an international one four years in the making...

Piccola Roma on Main Street in historic Annapolis

I'd like this table please.

So, today's Groupon e-mail offered a discount on an Italian restaurant in Annapolis, Maryland called Piccola Roma. I've never been there before. I checked out the dinner menu this morning before work and it looked so delicious! I appreciate a more authentically Italian experience than what the usual Americanized Italian restaurants offer. This place has a big platter of mixed antipasti, but even that authentic-looking dish has major competition among the other appetizer choices! The first appetizer listed is crab and prosciutto, Annapolis and Italian specialities. I love that there's a nod to what's local. The pasta dishes sound wonderful and then the meat and vegetable dishes are under the category reading Secondi meaning the second course following a first course or Primi Piatto of pasta. Maybe I'd do a multi-course meal... for my birthday... Their wine list seems impressive as many of Italy's regions are represented. (They serve breakfast as well!) This ristorante boasts high ratings. Tonight I read glowing reviews on yelp. I'm really looking foward to trying it.


My favorite bar is the charming Galway Bay Pub, which is conveniently just blocks away from my restaurant choice. It's a warm, friendly little bar in an Irish Pub (restaurant), and I would love to have a drink there, an aperitivo if you will, before heading to dinner.

Hopefully I can get a big group of friends to accompany me! Who wants to go?! It's a Friday night, a weekend, if anyone wants to visit...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Venezia

I always make New Year's Resolutions, even though I think any new day is the perfect day to change for the better. I'm very goal-oriented. Anyway, last year, for example, I actually made a total of 12! I achieved 6, a 50% success rate, which is probably fantastic since I think most people fail at them. Plus I think there were only two that I didn't improve upon at all. Overall, they were lots of little things concerned with taking care of myself- especially in terms of my health and personal finance.

This year, I truly want to focus and ...I want to change my life. Taking these steps in 2011 could lead to new chapters in life in 2012!

So, here they are for 2011:
1. Significantly pay down my credit card debt. (More specific goals and action plans are for me to know.)
2. Find a new job and escape retail.
3. Pack my lunch the night before a workday.
4. Only possess what I love, want and use.
5. Have a fabulous time on my little trip to Italy.

Good luck to everyone with their list!



I also want to announce changes to this blog.

I love the regular series I post and look forward to the ones that others do. ...but I intended to use this blog to write about how I celebrate the little things in life, elevating them to the big things in life, just like a passionate Italian might. I want to get back to that. So I've decided to discontinue "Style Sundays" and "Travel Tuesdays" (sorry!) and only update when I am inspired to do so. After I've thrown a fabulous dinner party maybe... Unfortunately I've fallen into the habit of only updating my blog on series days of Sunday and Tuesday. These days really work out in my current gig in retail, but since I want to change jobs, these may not be the days I usually have off anymore. Of course, I will continue to write about style and travel, favorite subjects of mine.

Style Sunday: Minimalism Progress

As I want to try only owning things I love and that I actually use, I announced that I would try minimalism to an extent in this post a week ago, so now I'd like to report on my progress...

I bought the book I mentioned, The Joy of Less, on amazon and can't wait 'til it arrives!

for the love of books

Additionally, I pared down my books, giving away a total of 21. The first ten wasn't easy, but, then again, not difficult either. However, the next eleven was kinda hard. They're already gone, to the donation bin marked for used books and DVDs, even though there's a lot of advice out there that recommends putting them into a box for awhile and if you don't pick them back out, they all go. ...but I'm a person who comes to decisions easily, so at least with these I can skip all that. So now, including my book in the mail, I have 98 books and 5 cookbooks (to be stored in my next kitchen). Since I love the remaining ones, am waiting on two books to come out on (the cheaper) paperback and want travel guides for future trips, I think I can stick to around 100. I'm not going to obsess over the number. I'll simply try to stick to the 'one in, one out' thing. But maybe after reading miss minimalist's book, I'll want even fewer, who knows? Fewer books will certainly make moving easier because they're heavy!

I love my books and I think they say something about you and help make a home more warm. Like I said, I have five cookbooks (four are on Italian cuisine), five favorite hardcover novels (three of which are art-historical fiction), my largest category is Italy travel narrative, but I also have some about other countries, a section of textbooks, dictionaries, and phrasebooks on Italian and (Rick Steves' pocket phrasebooks on) a few other languages, not-so-outdated guidebooks or travel (coffee table-type) books, five art or art-related books and five books that are kinda self-help or non-fictiony. Now that I have some space, I can store things with my books on my bookshelves, like a couple simple white vases perhaps, achieving a more beautiful space.