Monday, September 30, 2013

My Monday

My mom picked me up from my apartment so I could do laundry and spray paint my balcony chairs at my parents' place. While my first load of laundry was in, my mom and I walked the family dog, Minnie, a couple miles on a bike path my mom raves about. And my two green metal chairs are now painted "Dark Walnut" which is a brownish black and look awesome! They are currently drying over there and I look forward to returning them to my balcony in a day or two. I'm sure you'll see them in an upcoming "Style Sunday" post. She also treated my brother, me and herself to a fast food lunch.

Speaking of food, I prepared pesto for the first time this evening. I mixed this fresh homemade classic sauce with farfalle for dinner.


It turned out well. I'm looking forward to lunch tomorrow! I basically halved the recipe from the cookbook the glorious PASTA OF ITALY by Domenica Marchetti. The author's mother is from Abruzzo, the region I studied abroad in, so I know the towns she mentions. I love her other cookbook Big Night In as well. Since I do not own a food processor, I used my blender. I grew the basil myself, from a plant Kate from Une Vie Chic gave me. I love having another recipe under my belt.

This is my 17th post this month, which is a record! I'm trying to post more often and I'm happy with the result.



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Currently

Stealing this idea from Ginna's post on her blog my pretty pennies.

Liking the mom in How I Met Your Mother too!

Eating leftover penne pasta with tomato basil sauce.

Sipping a glass of Chianti with lunch!

Reading Blossoming in Provence from the author who wrote Words in a French Life.

Recommending my last book The Perfume Collector: A Novel.

Loving my new Kindle!


Anticipating another book that I'm next in line for at the library.



Waiting until my next paycheck to purchase this striped tee and a heeled pair of tall black boots.

 

Dreaming of my 30th birthday in Paris.

Relaxing on my Sunday-Monday weekend.

Delighting in the large cappuccino in a mug and the chocolate croissant at my favorite coffee shop this morning.

Cherishing the Italian feast celebrating my sister and grandfather's September birthdays yesterday evening.

Relishing that my bruschetta disappeared quickly at that family dinner.

Planning how to spend my last vacation days of the year earned at work and scheduled during October.

Hoping my move to Philadelphia is a definite soon.

Crushing on the cutest prospective resident I took on a tour at 4 on Saturday.

Procrastinating on spray painting my green balcony chairs walnut (brownish black).

Wishing my friend F a very happy birthday today!



Style Sunday: A Glass Vase of Gladioli

I love gladioli; these flowers remind me of my paternal grandmother who lives in Delaware. She used to grow all different colors of them on the first row of her old farm in front of the corn and also lining one side of the house. I would love to take some home after a visit during summertime.

I have a couple of old pictures featuring them. One is me in between my brother and sister. I'm holding my sister's hand and the three of us are smiling, squinting and standing in front of two long rows of them, a row of what look like pansies closest to the lane. The stalks of beautiful blooms and slender leaves are as tall as we were. All of us are pretty young. There's blue printing on the back of the photo, it reads "Aug 90 H" so I'm thinking it was developed during August 1990. If it was taken the same summer, then I was 6, my brother 4 and my sister turning 2 in September. My siblings are cute. Unfortunately, I am the fashion tragedy... I am wearing a short white tank top with cross-hatching in several different pastel colors, with my skinny stomach exposed above lavender elastic-waist shorts. I also have lavender socks scrunched down and white sneakers. My long  brown naturally wavy/curly hair is somewhat gathered in a ponytail on the right side of my head, thick bangs too, which curl so they don't reach my eyebrows. Another photo taken the same day is just of me next a red and a pink stalk, lots of taller cornstalks in the background. I'm smiling wide, with wide gaps in between my upper teeth. You can see that my ponytail is in a pale yellow band. At least, my outfit is completely color-coordinated.

Anyway, here's a detail of my recent purchases, white blooms with subtle pink and yellow accents...


I've purchased three white stalks which were more expensive than the tall clear glass vase with a single wide white brushstroke up and down that I scored on clearance at Target. I've cut two so that they're different heights.



I've set this beautiful bouquet on my desk.



I'll have to fill the vase with real ones next summer.




Friday, September 27, 2013

Things To Do: Summer 2013: Final Update


This was my list of very summery things I wanted to do this year and how I did actually accomplishing them...

1. mix up a batch of margaritas and toast summer 
I actually didn't toast with friends, but did sporadically make a margarita and sip it with dinner, complete with lime garnish on a proper glass. I remember raising my glass to the season with the first batch and posting 'here's to summer!' on facebook.

2. date as much as possible
Chris made my summer. I listed our date activites in the first paragraph of this post.

3. savor gelato
I didn't go out for gelato, but enjoyed this and that flavor of Haagen Dazs in.

4. stroll down Main Street in Annapolis, Maryland 
Have to do this during the fall! Who's coming with me?

5. grill kabobs and dine alfresco
Check out my first time making kebabs here.

6. entertain fabulously at home
I entertain frequently and enjoy playing hostess. In particular, I love dining al fresco on my balcony.


Kate from Une Vie Chic snapped this picture during June.

7. have a picnic
Read about my lovely picnic (and see the spread) here.

8. rock a skirt or dress often
I did dress up alittle more than usual. Comfortable working in pants, I even wore a skirt on the job a couple of times. I intended to embrace my femininity even more than I did though...

9. purchase fresh produce at the farmer's market
I went to a nearby farmstand a couple of times. The first paragraph of this update documented the first visit.

10. explore a new place
I suppose Chris and I liked our hotel in Ocean City, Maryland. With it's great happy hour outdoors, it's a place I would stay at again. I'm a bit disappointed that I am unable to name a new town or city though...


Cherry Limeade Beverage from Hotel Happy Hour

11. stay out late
Even though I usually get in late many summer nights, I just didn't this year... Still had a good time!

12. celebrate Ferragosto on August 15th
See how I celebrated this Italian holiday here.

Working two jobs, I tried my best to have a fantastic summer. I believe you should work hard and play hard. Summers are meant to be lazy. Who cares if I didn't cross every single thing off my list?

I am really looking forward to this fall. I tend to travel more (comfortably and) often during the cooler seasons of spring and fall. Like I said in this post, I love to wear layers, topped with a bright warm-hued scarf, during autumn. In addition, I was so excited for the premiere of How I Met Your Mother and am looking forward to more! Even though school no longer starts at this time of year for me, I hope I experience other exciting new beginnings! 


My Pasta Specialty

I prepare my pasta specialty pretty much once a week without fail. Usually, it's penne pasta and sauteed vegetables lightly coated with tomato sauce, most often red pepper and zucchini. Last night, it was this combination with asparagus and halved grape tomatoes too. I prefer equal amounts vegetables and pasta. It was squisito for dinner last night as well as for lunch and dinner today.



Not only do I enjoy eating this meal, but I thoroughly enjoy making it as well. Mainly because standing at the kitchen counter, I often sip red wine and enjoy some antipasti. This time, I savored Bolla Chianti, proscuitto, (cheddar) cheese, (thawed from leftover frozen French) bread and good dipping extra virgin olive oil.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Weekend Highlights

Friday was pay day, so before work (and after paying my October rent in full), I ordered a 7" Kindle Fire HD. This is a major splurge for me. I've been wanting one for many reasons. It'll be lightweight and simply fantastic for travel. Usually my shoulder aches at the end of a trip because I keep at least a book, if not a magazine too, in my handbag. It'll also be cheaper to read books on this device than to buy them. When books are new, it'll be faster to get them when the library has a long queue. I've patiently waited months for books multiple times. Even though I am very happy living without a TV these past couple of weeks (much to my mom's and boss's great disbelief), I do want to watch select TV shows and movies, and as soon as my Kindle arrives, I can. The last season of How I Met Your Mother premieres tonight! I already have a number of books to download, such as The Perfume Collector: A NovelJoie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the FrenchThe French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management; and Sister Mother Husband Dog by Delia Ephron to name a few off the top of my head! It would be great to have downloaded Sister Mother Husband Dog which is written by a New Yorker so I could read it on the way to Manhattan next month. I really enjoy reading and look forward to its arrival! Usually when I mention the Kindle, people tell me that they love it and it changed their lives.

Friday night, my sister and mom spontaneously asked me to go and see The Wizard of Oz in IMAX. We even had 3-D glasses. I'm not sure if I would recommend the IMAX experience on this particular film, but I enjoyed myself. I like this classic film and had forgotten all the details of the story. It was fun to do something different. I think the rest of the audience liked it too as they exploded in applause at the end. The theater was in a very charming outdoor mall that I simply haven't visited in a while as it a bit farther afield.

I took a picture of the poster they gave away with my phone.

After work Saturday, I made spaghetti and homemade meatballs for dinner. Even though I do not make them often, the meatballs turned out pretty well. They were delicious. This combination is Italian-American. Pasta would be a first course and meatballs would be part of the second in Italy. Spicy meatballs, in fact, were a specialty of the region I studied abroad in, Abruzzo.

Sunday and Monday make up my weekend. On Sunday, I had a cappuccino and chocolate croissant at my favorite coffee shop a couple towns over. They are slammed busy on Sunday mornings and so I prefer to patronize them on a more quiet Monday morning, but alas, I still haven't taken my car in anywhere and I only had my dad's vehicle late Friday night through Sunday evening. I purchased spray paint for my balcony chairs that morning as well. My neighbor S gave me a thank you gift for watering her plants while she was away. The paperweight is beautiful and I am touched.

I had my friend J over for three hours Sunday afternoon. I told her about all my research for her 30th birthday trip to New York. She is so excited. My two travel companions are not travelers (yet) so I am planning so our fun that day seems effortless. We also talked shop since we're both in property management and our lives. I learned my godson (and her oldest son) finally cut his long hair. We gabbed over a late lunch on my balcony, in beautiful fall weather. Last night, I blogged about style, a bigger post on this season's capsule wardrobe. 

I want to say that I will be finishing up my weekend watching How I Met Your Mother tonight at 8, but I think I'll have to catch it on my computer tomorrow. Perhaps over breakfast before my shift starts?

This was a pretty good low-key weekend. I did much more than the highlights I mentioned, but I'd prefer not to bore you with a play-by-play. I'm sure you guys don't wanna read about the details of my dental appointment. Even though it's been over a month, I'm still not used to having all the free time now that I'm only working one job! I am figuring it out though. I love to read and travel, so I am planning multiple books and daytrips over the next four weeks! I am also pushing myself to publish here more often. I even started this post unsure of how much I could say about my weekend highlights ...and just look at it now!

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend as well!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Style Sunday: Fall 2013 Capsule Wardrobe


Today is the first day of autumn. I love fall because I get to wear a plain white tee, blazer, scarf, jeans and either ballet flats or boots. In this uniform for the cool seasons of spring and fall, I feel most like me.

So much inspiration for and simply a reminder to work on my capsule wardrobe comes from the blog The Daily Connoisseur. Read about and even watch a fashion show video of Jennifer's Ten-Item Wardrobe for the Fall/Winter 2013 here. I love her's. I happen to differentiate between fall and winter myself because Maryland enjoys four distinct seasons and I want to dress appropriately.

My capsule wardrobe for the fall consists of the following...

1. White short sleeve shirt from Ann Taylor
2. Pink and black print short sleeve top from Ann Taylor Factory Store
3. Lavender and white vertical striped short sleeve shirt from  Ann Taylor
4. Black cross-over sleeveless top with lace on front upper part from Ann Taylor Factory Store
5. Black fitted top with sheer scarf and short sleeves from White House Black Market
6. White 3/4 sleeve shirt from New York & Company
7. White long sleeve shirt from H&M
8. Chocolate brown 1/2 sleeve wrap shirt from H&M
9. Lavender and white vertical striped long sleeve shirt from H&M
10. Chocolate brown cross-over 3/4 sleeve sweater from Ann Taylor LOFT
11. Black pants from Ann Taylor Factory Store
12. Dark gray pants from Ann Taylor Factory Store
13. Short dark blue boot-cut jeans by Levi's from Kohl's
14. Regular dark blue boot-cut jeans by Levi's from Kohl's
15. Dark blue boot-cut jeans from Ann Taylor Factory Store
16. Dark blue jean skirt by Liz Claiborne from JCPenney
17. Black flirty skirt from The Limited
18. Brown wool skirt with line design from Ann Taylor LOFT
19. Black and white tweed pencil skirt from Ann Taylor
20. Black ankle pants from New York & Company

That's ten tops and ten bottoms for a total of twenty pieces. This number should work well for me since I work a full-time job and have a life outside of work as well. I also only do laundry at my parents' place once a week. The first five pieces listed will be phased out first as it gets colder outside.

This limited number is made more doable with the following extras...

T-Shirts:
1. White scoop neck short sleeve tee from Ann Taylor Factory Store
2. White scoop neck 3/4 sleeve tee from H&M
3. White cross-over 3/4 sleeve tee by Merona from Target
4. White with black horizontal stripes boat neck tee from H&M (planning to purchase as soon as it's available)


5. New reddish purple cross-over 3/4 sleeve tee by Merona from Target
6. Navy with white horizontal stripes boat neck tee from H&M
7. Navy cross-over 3/4 sleeve tee by Merona from Target
8. Charcoal gray v-neck long sleeve tee from H&M
9. Black scoop neck short sleeve tee from Ann Taylor Factory Store
10. Black cross-over 3/4 sleeve tee by Merona from Target
11. Black scoop neck long sleeve tee from Express
12. Black v-neck long sleeve tee from H&M

This is my closet...
The right side of my closet is pictured.
On the left side, from left to right, I've hung up 
items that didn't make the cut, special occasion dresses and outerwear.
My laundry bag is on the left as well, on the floor.
I have another closet that has shoes, scarves, belts, my other everyday handbag not in use, and totes 
along with travel gear.

Cardigans:
1. Black 3/4 sleeve cardigan by Cherokee from Target
2. Ivory 3/4 sleeve cardigan from New York & Company
3. New dark pink azalea 3/4 sleeve cardigan by Ann Taylor LOFT Outlet

Outerwear:
1. Tan 3/4 sleeve belted safari jacket from The Limited
2. Khaki single breasted belted trench from Banana Republic Factory Store
3. Black single breasted trench from H&M
4. Khaki blazer from H&M
5. Chocolate brown corduroy blazer from Esprit
6. Black suit blazer from The Limited
7. Dark gray suit blazer from Ann Taylor Factory Store

Cocktail Dresses:
1. Black v-neck sleeveless shift dress with folds from White House Black Market
2. Black wrap dress from Ann Taylor
3. Black long sleeve faux-wrap dress with rectangular pin by American Living from JCPenney

Others:
-18 Camisoles (including 6 of the same one: white everyday cami by Sonoma Life + Style from Kohl's)
-15 Scarves
-3 Belts
-Shoes including heeled boots
-Jewelry including many, many pairs of earrings and watch by Anne Klein
-3 Pairs of Sunglasses
-Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere from Macy's
-Patent wine colored handbag by Coach from eBay
-Black signature print handbag by Coach from Coach Outlet
-Other bags including clutches and totes





Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The INFJ and Perfectionism

A fellow blogger and pinner I follow, Adrienne from The Rich Life (on a budget), recently pinned a couple of images about the INFJ, one of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality types. Both spoke to her since she is an IN. Of her two pins, I chose to repin this one...


This prompted my own pinterest search for more as INFJ is my own personality type. I proceeded to read more about this most rare of types online.

To quickly provide you, reader, with a portrait of this type... "I" stands for introverted, "N" for intuitive, "F" is for feeling and "J" means judgmental. Individuals with this particular personality type dream about possibilities and are value-driven, decisive, deep and complex. INFJs truly care about other people. They are also constantly evolving.


You can find out more from this blog post associated with the following image...


'Having it all' seems to be a popular subject over the past few weeks. (See herehere and here.) So, being perfect in everything has been on my mind lately. I also realized that I recently pinned two things specifically related to perfectionism...


INFJs are perfectionists, never fully happy with themselves, and so we always strive to do our best. "Always" is the key word here because for an INFJ the best can be made even better. I have tried to deny this before, often declaring I am only a perfectionist in certain areas of life, and in many others I am easy-going. I think I was wrong now; I possess the everything-has-to-be-perfect mentality. It runs deep. 

I also find this perfectionism often holds me back. I don't start some things because I feel that I am unable to perfect them. It's all or nothing. Like with this lifestyle blog, where I should be posting frequently about the little everyday things I truly appreciate, experience and love, I talk myself out of writing or photographing something because I'm convinced it's or I'm not good enough. I could capture so much more of my pretty amazing life...


I won't even tell you how long it's been since I've written to my poor Italian penpal B because I want one of my classic long letters to be really interesting, which for me takes time. It is also difficult for INFJs to speak well right off the bat, these ultimate planners need plenty of time to articulate our ideas. Then, we're uniquely eloquent and passionate! 


One of the reasons I adore travel writing so much is that they clearly articulate what travel (or a place or culture) gives and since I define myself as a traveler, this is important to me. I have found the INFJ to be labeled "the author." The perfect words matter. (If you are an INFJ, I am aware that "the protector" is a common label as well.)

Sure, I don't own a lot of material possessions because I prefer a decluttered existence and am simply too poor for frequent and/or large-scale shopping, but also my standards for items are so sky high that I often do not make a purchase. I hardly ever buy something unless it is perfect. I have become very picky.


My mom is often frustrated with me when she generously takes me shopping every once in a long while. Once while Christmas shopping with her for my siblings, she informed me that she would buy me one thing I selected in the entire mall as a Christmas gift, and I didn't choose anything. That time, it frustrated me as well. I checked a few things out, but deemed them "simply not perfect." Although on Christmas morning that year, she surprised me with the large white mixing bowl with skinny red evenly-spaced horizontal stripes I looked at in Crate&Barrel, the product I probably lingered upon most that particular day. This item piqued my interest in a mailer, but when I saw it in store, I thought it too large for my needs (it's huge!) and the white wasn't a brilliant white but a creamy off-white; thoughts I kept to myself, naturally, as I am the reserved INFJ. Later, I was so happy to receive it because it is very nice and because I don't have a lot, I certainly have space to store a humongous yet beautiful bowl in my kitchen cabinets. I also adore surprises.

This also reminds me of another shopping experience and subsequent surprise. On my last trip to Italy, I was searching for a perfect piece of blown murano glass in a pink or red color. I actually purchased one, a nice vase I love before leaving Venezia. I made sure of it. My travel partner J was being pretty patient with me in this search. In and out of many many shops, I also mentioned that I love the novelty murano glass with little gold fish in blue drops of water or bowls, but never bought any. I hadn't found the perfect one and/or it didn't really go with my warm-hued home decor. He somehow managed to distract me long enough (or move quickly enough) in a store to take one (in a water drop) off the shelf and get the cashier to wrap up or put it in bag before I saw what he was buying. After he returned from his backpacking through Europe experience several weeks later, he surprised me with it. I love the thoughtfulness. It is perfect and currently sits atop my blue Venice book L gave me on the lower shelf of my coffee table. 

Speaking of this gentleman, J was one who was always frustrated that he couldn't figure me out. He often asked me what I was thinking. I would reply, "nothing" if it wasn't anything major, like I just worrying about something little, such as what I was going to talk about next. I was kinda baffled as to why he couldn't figure me out. I am a simple person. I value simplicity. 


I am also very value-driven. I felt like if you knew me alittle bit, then you know me quite well. I truly care about certain things. I am consistent. How did I fail to make myself clear? I have to give both of us a break since INFJs can be difficult to get to know because we have very complex thinking, our thoughts race yet we do not often share these thoughts since we are usually quiet, reserved, private people. We only let people we trust in. With that particular gentleman, we never were in an actual boyfriend/girlfriend relationship and since communication wasn't our strong suit, even our friendship wasn't very developed. We (dated and) were close for two years, sharing nearly all of my major life events of that period and I think it would be upsetting to both of us if I said because of the unsecured nature of time together, I actually kept my guard up a bit, that I acted cool so he'd like me, but I think I probably did. Maybe I should have given him the INFJ portrait in the beginning. That wasn't meant to be which I knew from early on, it's just my feelings got in the way for a long time. I don't like that cool behavior of mine at all because INFJs tend to have deep, long-lasting relationships with select few. 


I intended this blog to be positive. I don't mean to dwell on the negative in this particular post; it's not my nature to do so anyway. This blog post shows that INFJs like me are always works in progress. Characteristic of an INFJ, I am very attached to my label. When I took the personality test and found out I was an INFJ, it was a big "Aha!" moment (Oprah is apparently an INFJ.) This blog is my personal journal. I firmly believe that journaling is an education. Writing helps me sort things out sometimes, which is especially true since INFJs have such complex minds. We are always thinking. We are constantly growing.

This perfectionism is positive in that it drives us to accomplish. (We prefer things finished.) So, this post exposes my attempt to overcome the obstacle of my perfectionism and post more often on the blog I love. I will try to not to convince myself that my content is unworthy. I am probably too self-motivated not to make this happen now that I am making it public. I am a woman of my word (well, generally. I am, after all, an idealist and daydreamer of possibilities!) and this statement will help keep me more accountable.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Balsamic Vinaigrette

I've been meaning to start making my own salad dressing for awhile now and finally this week, I have. I made Balsamic Vinaigrette using this simple recipe from theKitchn.


I poured some on my lunch salad today (which is a much prettier picture than the dressing in an old tomato sauce jar!)...


It's delicious. I don't know why I waited! It's seriously balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. That's it. You shake it in jar with a lid too. I had this on my mind for awhile now after reading a couple of books in particular (I believe) and I think my German roommate prepared it when we lived in Italy back in 2005 too. I suppose it's easier to pick up Kraft's Tuscan House Italian at the grocery store. My own balsamic vinegar is my new go to. I am happy to have this basic recipe under my belt. Italian cuisine embraces simplicity.

Who knows, maybe I'll make my own pesto with my flourishing basil plant! Or even tomato sauce from scratch!



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Style Sunday: Striped Shirt

I'm gonna go ahead and post this bonus Style Sunday post today and not save it for next Sunday because that particular day next week (Sunday, September 22nd) is the first day of fall and I plan to post about my fall capsule wardrobe on that day. (It would be nice to, so that's the plan!)

I've written about the classic striped shirt before here. Back in that post, I posted about my navy one with white stripes. Recently inspired by my style icon the Duchess of Cambridge in her striped shirt, I have my eye on another one: this white one with skinny black stripes from Target...



I haven't seen it in person yet since my size is reportedly out of stock at the Target a block away, so I will still need to try it on. I hope it works out since I wear black more than navy. If not, the search is on! If I purchase a new striped shirt, I'd like to wear it with a blazer (or possibly trench or cardigan), scarf, jeans and ballet flats during the fall.

Pinterest




I feel like the blazer (or belted jacket or trench) would take away from its movement, of it reading across and flat, and furthermore the completer piece's tailoring would come in at the waist and thus give me a feminine silhouette. I do want to rock this classic piece, but don't want to look fat or have it be unflattering. I believe that I can make it work well for me using layers.

Soon after seeing Kate's picture and needing a "cover photo" for my personal facebook page now that I have "facebook home" (which is like a rolling screensaver of status updates on top of either the post's picture or the user's cover photo) on my new smartphone, the HTC first, I selected this one...

I like that it's an anonymous and casual photo of a brunette (like me) wearing this classic top 
and love that she's carrying a bouquet of pale pink roses outdoors.

I also made it my desktop background on my netbook.

Sailor stripes also make me think of the movie Coco Before Chanel right now, which I just watched again last night. In this foreign film, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel witnesses fisherman on the beach in Deauville bringing in their catch while wearing them and then wears one with a belt herself in like the next scene. I love Coco Chanel...



Style Sunday: Poppy Pasta Bowl

I've wanted a pasta bowl for awhile and picked up this one from HomeGoods today...

The 10 1/2" wide white bowl has a drawn and painted poppy.

I think it'll be a nice size for dinner parties of four.

Considering I like to entertain and have transformed my linen closet into entertaining supplies storage, full of glasses designed for different kinds of drinks, I actually don't own a lot of large bowls and platters intended for serving. Not that I want to own a lot of anything, but this piece will add to my collection nicely. At only $7, I simply couldn't pass it up.

I walked into the store looking for one of those Deruta-style bowls. They had a few of those in other shapes, not a pasta bowl this visit. There was also a novelty one, white with black type on the wide rim reading "Pasta bilities" too, but unless it read "Buon Appetito!" that's not me either. One can easily picture rolling Tuscan hills full of crimson poppies with a terra-cotta roofed villa in the distance, so, it's Italian! With plenty of red in my kitchen, I feel like this one fits me best. 




Thursday, September 12, 2013

* New York *



I'm going to New York for my friend's 30th birthday during October. The three of us girls will be going for the day, taking a round trip on the discount bus service Megabus. The tickets have been purchased. It takes about four hours to get there from our hometown. We're so excited! They haven't been and after starting to research it, I can't wait to go back! 

I suggested that since the birthday girl has a husband and three sons, perhaps she would like a very girly trip and she just loved the idea! So hopefully it'll be very ladies who lunch, complete with champagne, chocolate for dessert, manis and pedis, shopping and sight-seeing until we drop! I love running away with a theme, what else can we do that is decidedly feminine?

I always love to eat the local food of a destination, so maybe a bagel for breakfast and slices of New York-style pizza for lunch! Gelato or a perfect pastry from Eataly. Or a slice of birthday cake from a bakery. I would love a European-style cappuccino and croissant myself! 

In planning, I have been going through reviews on yelp which is great because you can enter a street or search a neighborhood and once you find something you like, you can see what's around it! (I can't wait until I move to a city and get to describe a great establishment on my block!) 

I have also been looking up recommendations from back posts of my favorite blogs. Some of my favorite bloggers are in New York right now for Fashion Week, which is fantastic for inspiration. I found that a blogger I regularly follow likes the Chelsea Market, so maybe I could get my croissant there. It has been likened to the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia and to the markets in Boston, which I love. 

My friends seem to want to stick to one area and not spend time just trying to get from place to place. I tend to agree. Manhattan is a really really big place and I want the trip to be enjoyable rather than exhausting. It will be exhausting, but hopefully delightfully so! The Megabus stop seems to be in Chelsea. So, I was thinking that we could explore that and the surrounding neighborhoods: Meatpacking District, Flatiron, Union Square, maybe alittle further: West Village and Midtown West. I have been concentrating my search on those areas so far. I would love to have a few points of interest in mind from all three of us. Then, we can walk from place from place, stopping when we stumble upon something of interest. I really need to speak with them in person! I also have another girlfriend in New England who could meet us! I have about five more weeks to delight in my trip planning.

I would love recommendations! Please and thank you! Per favore e grazie!



Monday, September 9, 2013

You say goodbye, and I say hello. Hello, hello.

...that's a Beatles lyric. I grew up on that music and still love it. After all, I am Michelle my belle!

Anyway, I bid farewell to some technology today-- my TV and combination DVD player/VCR. I dropped my decades-old big ol' box TV and its remote off at a Salvation Army because Goodwill apparently doesn't take TVs! Who knew? I left the DVD player at my parents' as I'm sure someone there will use it. Additionally, I gave my sister K my TV stand, a wooden piece of furniture from Target. I finally saw her apartment; she's been living a few towns over for like three months now. It's so nice! She and her roommate just need to do something with it. They are both amazingly busy and are both hardly ever home to concentrate on its decoration. My lovely sister drove me around for all this donation as I am without a vehicle this (Sunday-Monday) weekend and when I mentioned I needed a new phone, she pushed me towards AT&T. So, I ended up saying "hello" to technology today as well: my first touch-screen smartphone, a HTC first, the same one as K's and the cheapest deal in the store. It does so much more than my BlackBerry did. It is truly amazing. With this, I can see why people are addicted to their phones! I'm still figuring it out, but I am a quick learner. I am also setting it up. The really nice and helpful S at AT&T couldn't even transfer my contacts since my old phone kept dying!

I've been contemplating giving up my only TV for awhile now. My friends and family found my thoughts shocking. In fact, I grew up with the TV always on. I just feel there's so much more to life than mindlessly watching TV as a habit. I simply do not care to waste my time any longer, don't care about catching up with, you know, Sister Wives. I will no longer procrastinate on chores or whatever waiting until the episode has ended, a particular story is reported, or the beginning of the next commercial break.


I do enjoy some TV shows, however, and plan to replace the TV with another form of technology: a Kindle Fire HD, either the 7 inch or 8.9.


It'll be fantastic for travel too! I just have to save up for it! Now that I am without a TV, it will only give me more motivation to finance its replacement. Two of my three favorite shows are in or soon to be in their exciting last season: What Not To Wear and How I Met Your Mother. (HIMYM premieres Monday, September 23rd at 8!) My third is House Hunters International, which will hopefully last! I am also able to view TV shows on my computer, typically the next calendar day after the latest episode initially airs. Maybe I'll investigate an external disc drive for my Dell Mini as well because I have a small box of DVDs that I do not want to donate just yet. I will probably regret my decision a bit, just hopefully not a lot! It will be an adjustment. It will also be odd having lunch without the TV on in front of me. I will actually get to savor my meal! More time to blog! When I move to a city, I will experience it.

All of these replacements are much smaller than a TV and two-drawer TV stand. I prefer to own just what I love. Less is more. I may consider a stand for my Kindle that I can prop up on my coffee table when I use it as a TV show or movie player. That way, I can still lay on my side on my sofa and enjoy. I now have a blank wall in my apartment! Ideally, I would love to fill it with a patterned accent chair and a carved wooden screen. See, I have given this some thought! ...but I do plan to move to Philadelphia, so maybe I should let it go and have less to move later. I love the idea of more comfortable seating when I entertain, making the space more suitable for parties, not superbowl parties I suppose. But the screen size was small and I just wouldn't attract a big crowd with it (anymore as my roommate and I hosted Superbowl Sunday in college and we watched the game on this TV). And I have always wanted a carved wooden screen. This one is my latest favorite...

Painted wooden screens are very Coco Chanel's Parisian apartment,
but I prefer the cut-outs.
The repeated shape is the same as what's in my living room rug.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Style Sunday: Mascara

I suppose this post is more about beauty than style but my look is simply not complete without mascara. My long eyelashes are one of my favorite features and I love to define them. When I went to Ocean City this summer and forgot all my makeup at home (note to self: do not make decisions without coffee first), mascara was one of the couple items I purchased at the convenient CVS right next door to the gas station C stopped at. Occasionally, I stray from my go-to-- Maybelline's Great Lash Waterproof Mascara in either Very Black or Black, but usually return to it. This product is always recommended as it is good and affordable.

I wanted to share my new discovery. I finally tried CoverGirl's Clump Crusher by LastBlast Water Resistant Mascara in Black.


This is my new mascara. I am thrilled with it because it is the first mascara (in the 17 years that I have been wearing makeup) that is truly clump-free. It volumizes each lash. Sometimes two lashes stick together, but by far most of time I have every lash defined from one another. The wand acts like a comb. I'm not getting too much product on my lashes, so it seems like a more natural look. Even though I use many beauty brands, I do favor CoverGirl. Some sort of waterproof formula allows me to look presentable all day, and I am one busy gal! After curling my lashes and adding this mascara, I simply love this look! If you're looking for a fresh-faced look for fall, I highly recommend it!




Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I love Pinterest.

I love Pinterest. I really enjoy finding beautiful and inspiring images. Additionally, I appreciate that it's virtual so I am not ripping things out of stacks of magazines, creating clutter in my home. It's cheaper in that way too. I find it relaxing. This is personal for me, but I'm just fine with it being social as it's nice to connect with like-minded people ...and peek at what my friends are currently into! I just pinned my 1000th pin so it's official... I'm obsessed.

Check out my 1000th pin...

I pinned because the dark pink azalea is my favorite flower 
and I would just love to attend this festival in Japan!
Future birthday in Japan!

In addition to travel, lately, I have been regularly browsing for inspiration on style...


I also love images of style in the home...


View more of my pins by clicking on the Pinterest button on my sidebar.