Sunday, March 30, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Ferrero Rocher

Wikipedia via Google Image
It's so classy in its gold foil.

I love chocolate and so I enjoy indulging in a small piece of Ferrero Rocher. I might treat myself after lunch, dinner or later in the evening. With so many layers of chocolate and hazelnut, it's decadent and satisfying for such a little thing! I've been savoring these chocolates over the past week.

ads-vs-reality via Google Image

While at the grocery store or Target, sometimes I'll pick up a small box to enjoy as my chocolate for the week or so. 


More so, Target tends to sell the three packs in the check-out lanes and I may pick one up there to add a little variety to my weekly chocolate stash or to serve a piece a person as an economical dessert along with coffee after dinner in small-scale entertaining. The packs are usually 99 cents.

ads-vs-reality via Google Image

I've always loved chocolate but I started liking hazelnuts while in Italy because they're ubiquitous. There is also Baci (made in Perugia) which is similar to Ferrero Rocher, but its box features a dark blue color with stars like a romantic night sky and each chocolate has a little note about love wrapped inside. Instead of the whole hazelnut being at the very center like in Ferrero Rocher, the hazelnut is on top. Baci means kisses in Italian. Ferrero Rocher is just more available in America. Although I've seen Baci in HomeGoods most often. My favorite flavor of gelato is Baci, chocolate ice cream with hazelnut flavor and hopefully whole or chopped nuts mixed in. I also adore the chocolate hazelnut cake at Vaccaro's in Baltimore's Little Italy.

The Epoch Times via Google Image



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Style Saturday: Little Black Clutch

I've wanted the perfect little black clutch for awhile now. In fact, I installed such an item on this wish list I published back in October. Just something simple that goes with nearly everything. I carry my world in a large handbag during the day, but prefer to ditch it at night. Instead, I love to carry a clutch for evening.

I am delighted to show you my purchase, a steal on Amazon...

front

back

interior

I loved the "tumbled" leather, which is just enough detail and sheen. The kiss lock frame is silver which I prefer to any other metallic. I love the clean sleek look on the exterior. Nearly twelve inches long, it's flat on one side but the other features a central open pocket. The interior is surprisingly spacious. A wide zipped and open pocket on one side and six card slots on the other provide some organization as well. It has a coral and blue print on the interior and also lining the exterior pocket. It's more than enough space for an ID, debit card, credit card, cash, lip gloss, phone and keys, which is exactly what I carried it in the first time I used it going out to dinner with friends last Wednesday evening.


Its name is Adelyn and it's from the brand Hobo The Original which is a local small business out of Annapolis, Maryland. (Follow them on Facebook too.) I've always admired bags by the brand as they seem to be of nice quality, featuring beautiful leather crafted into a simple design. I would love to visit their flagship store and admire all the other pretty pieces.

Even though I have a collection of clutches, this one may be my signature one...





Sunday, March 23, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: How I Met Your Mother

The gang at their spot, MacLaren's Pub
FanSided via Google Image

I love watching the comedy series How I Met Your Mother. It airs Mondays at 8 on CBS. This father tells his two teenage kids the story of how he met their mother, of all the events leading up to this particular meeting actually. In the year 2030, this unseen man narrates all these flashbacks, most of which are set at present day, in or around New York.

I love the characters Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Barney. The main character, Ted is my favorite. I love that he's dorky, the ultimate friend and is relentless in his search for true love. He plays his part so well that you really want him to succeed. Next, I adore Lily, who is such an amazing behind-the-scenes schemer, an expert on her friends.

In addition to the wonderful cast, I love that the show is about friendship, dating and true love. Most of all, I find its humor funny, how they set specific rules for any action or situation. Clever. Many of these gags and quotes are referred to again and again. Sometimes, it's kinda crazy and silly, but it will return to being sincere and charming. I haven't followed every season of the nine but feel like I've been watching every episode for the past several years now. Even without a TV, I make it a point to see it somehow.

Unfortunately, it ends on Monday, March 31, 2014 with a one-hour series finale. I'll miss new episodes. I've enjoyed getting to know the newly-introduced unnamed Mother over nearly the entire current season. I simply adore her too! She's so perfect. The audience has wanted to meet her for eight years and I'm glad to see the wait was worth it. They've shown flashbacks (or is it "flashforwards?") of relationship moments between Ted and her, which are incredibly sweet, but they have yet to reveal how they meet. Their chemistry in these moments so far make me not want it to end even more!

The Mother
Eonline via Google Image

Nonetheless, I look forward to watching the last episode. I'm going over my parents' place that Monday night because I don't own a TV and don't want to wait to view on the small screen of my computer the next day. My family and I will have dinner first. Maybe the menu should be beer and fries with "an accidental curly!" It'll be a fun evening. "It's gonna be legen... wait for it...dary!"

The last few episodes have tied things up nicely as there were so many loose ends among the leads. Lily and Marshall are moving to Italy for a year! Plus, they reveal how all these supporting characters turn out. In a series where I think every episode features so many references to other episodes, these little endings made me reminisce about all the good ol' times.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring 2014 Capsule Wardrobe

Today, March 20, 2014, is the first day of spring. After a long cold snowy winter, I am so ready for spring. I'll take a light blazer and scarf topping a tee with blue jeans and ballet flats over multiple layers of bulky clothing any day. I've been looking forward to sharing what I'll be wearing this season.

Last spring, while working two jobs, I possessed a 32-item wardrobe. This year, without one of those jobs, but with big birthday celebrations (my 30th!) and hopefully job interviews in Philadelphia, my capsule wardrobe is down to just 22 items. However, my closet feels absolutely stuffed when compared to my 18-core item winter wardrobe. On laundry day each week, my closet was sparse! That's not a bad thing though as I strive to only own what I love and use. To achieve this goal, I declutter regularly. Anyway, many of the items I left out from last spring's collection I anticipate wearing during this summer.


Michelle's Capsule Wardrobe:


1. new white short sleeve shirt from Ann Taylor


2. white 3/4 sleeve shirt from New York & Company


3. new white long sleeve Essential Shirt from The Limited


4. printed pink short sleeve wrap top from Ann Taylor Factory Store (ATFS)

5. white short sleeve shirt with lavender vertical stripes from Ann Taylor


I love to pair lavender with charcoal gray.

6. black lace cross-over sleeveless top from ATFS


7. black tailored top with sheer short sleeves and attached scarf from White House Black Market


8. new black long sleeve Essential Shirt from The Limited

Just arrived!

9. dark gray pants from ATFS

10. black slim ankle pants from New York & Company

11. black pants in short length by Alfani from Macy's (with flats)

12. black pants in regular length Cassidy Fit by The Limited (with heels)

13. dark blue Curvy bootcut jeans from ATFS

14. dark blue Levi's bootcut 515 jeans from Kohl's* 

15. dark blue Levi's bootcut jeans in short length with buttoned flaps over back pockets from JCPenney**

16. white capris with vertical line texture by Bandolino Blu from Macy's

17. dark blue knee-length jean skirt by Liz Claiborne from JCPenney

18. black and white floral printed and horizontal striped full skirt from The Limited


My spring skirt in its full glory.

19. black pencil skirt by Banana Republic from a thrift shop called Second Time Around (Philadelphia)

20. new dark gray pencil skirt from H&M

21. black flirty skirt from The Limited

22. black wrap dress from Ann Taylor

* to be replaced by dark blue Levi's Demi Curve jean capris when it is warmer


** to be replaced by dark blue Levi's 515 jean capris with the bottoms folded up once from Macy's when it is warmer


I realize that I don't own a lot of color in my capsule wardrobe. Hey, I like black and white. Plus, neutrals work well in both a capsule wardrobe and to pack lightly for my week-long springtime birthday trip to Paris. For both, it's important that everything goes together. 

It is my hope that these neutral basics help me achieve a classic sophisticated look. What's more timeless than a white button-down and a LBD? Such items are often called "wardrobe essentials." Furthermore, it feels right to have a closet full of classic basics during the very season that I enter a new decade. 

This season, a touch of my passionate nature comes out more in my accessories, extras, nail polish, all of which play an important role. "Color, texture, pattern and shine all create visual interest" as Stacy and Clinton (of TLC's What Not To Wear) would say. These outfit completers could do that work. More lace and luxurious fabrics in my camisoles enhance an undertone of ladylike elegance. Perhaps I'll go with more color and embellishment in my core items during summertime...

Extras:

- 14 camisoles (I prefer camisoles to tank tops. I wear one underneath a layer often.)

 1-4. new "new white" Sonoma Life + Style Everyday Cami's from Kohl's (I do replace pieces when they are past their prime and when budget allows. Especially all the white I adore.)
 5. white from LOFT Outlet (This smaller and shorter white one without a shelf bra needs a replacement!)
 6. ivory silky and lacy from White House Black Market (WHBM)
 7. dark pink Sonoma Life + Style from Kohl's
 8. slightly darker pink from LOFT Outlet
 9. deep red from LOFT Outlet
 10. black silky and lacy from WHBM
 11. black with white polka dots and black lace trim on cross-over neckline, back and bottom from WHBM
 12. black from LOFT Outlet
 13. black with lace trim from ATFS
 14. black Sonoma Life + Style from Kohl's

- 12 tees:
 1. white scoop neck tee from ATFS
 2. white v-neck 3/4 sleeve t-shirt from H&M
 3. new "fresh white" cross-over 3/4 sleeve t-shirt from Target
 4. new black and white horizontal stripe long sleeve slubbed cotton tee from LOFT
 5. reddish "plum" cross-over 3/4 sleeve t-shirt by Merona from Target
 6. navy boat-neck 3/4 sleeve t-shirt with white horizontal stripes from H&M
 7. "royal teal" cross-over 3/4 sleeve t-shirt by Merona from Target
 8. dark gray boat-neck 3/4 sleeve t-shirt with white horizontal stripes from H&M
 9. dark gray tee with floral pattern on mesh front top and short sleeves from H&M


Detail.

 10. black v-neck short sleeve tee by Mossimo from Target  
 11. black scoop neck tee from ATFS

 12. black cross-over 3/4 sleeve t-shirt by Merona from Target

- 3 3/4 sleeve crew-neck cardigans 
 1. black by Cherokee from Target
 2. ivory from New York & Company
 3. dark yet vibrant azalea pink from LOFT Outlet

- many pieces of outerwear (2 suit jackets (one black from The Limited and one charcoal gray from ATFS), jackets/blazers, trenches (including a khaki trench from Banana Republic Factory Store))

- 14 scarves (many solid ones in a rich color, 2 are polka dotted, 2 feature silver stitching and sequins)


- lots of shoes and sandals (including 2 pairs of black leather ballet flats with a patent cap toe--Applause from Naturalizer and the other from Nine West, a pair of flats with leopard print from Banana Republic Factory Store, 2 pairs of red peep-toe pumps,...)

- lots of jewelry (28 pairs of earrings including a new pair of large round CZ studs from The Limited, a watch from Anne Klein, and various other pieces)

- 2 pairs of sunglasses

 1. brown from Target


My signature sunglasses.

 2. big and black from Target

- 3 belts 

 1. black skinny bow belt for smallest part of waist from WHBM
 2. black wide braid for smallest part of waist from The Limited
 3. everyday black/brown reversible to go through a pair of pants' belt loops from Target

- black patterned tights

- many handbags (including a wine-colored everyday patent leather handbag by Coach from eBay, black signature print fabric handbag by Coach from Coach Outlet, several clutches for evening (including a new black leather clutch by Hobo The Original from Amazon), and many totes that I actually use for shopping)


- Nail polish (Several OPI Nail Lacquers and the sheer Mademoiselle by Essie which is my go-to for my fingernails right now)

- Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere fragrance



Since I adore shopping, I would love to engage in this activity on the occasion of my springtime birthday, especially purchasing very pretty lingerie in Paris. These "hot pink" shoesanother sheer nail polish and this black lace top have recently piqued my interest when I came across them online, so I'll have to check them out in person! Nonetheless, I will keep my capsule wardrobe and its extras in mind, so I promise to not overdo it. 



Stay tuned for another wardrobe-related post showing what I plan to pack for Paris!



Monday, March 17, 2014

11 Random Facts About Me

The hostess of the humble bungalow has extended an open invitation for bloggers to share 11 Random Facts About Me and since she is one of my most recent followers of this blog, I thought I would say grazie by playing.

Chocolate Croissant

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I have an Art History degree and love to look at pretty pictures. However, my favorite artist, Bernini, is a sculptor. My favorite sculpture of his is Apollo and Daphne. I've seen it in person at the Borghese Gallery in Rome.

2. I rock out to music from The Beatles. This stems from my mother's love for them. I even attended a Beatlefest once where I sang Strawberry Fields with my cousin from Oregon and my sister in a music video. Thank goodness my microphone wasn't very functional. My favorite Beatles song is Michelle.

3. I've traveled to Italy 4 times, but have only been to the Northern half of the boot, as far as South as Rome and Pescara, not the Southern part nor the two major islands. Yet.

4. I eat chocolate for breakfast. For the last several weeks, I've eaten a mini chocolate chip stuffed Crescent roll with a couple of cups of espresso every morning.

5. My favorite toy was a teddy bear named Miss Bear. My paternal grandmother gave her to me on the occasion of my first Christmas. I still have her, although she's in need of "surgery" (holes need to be sewn up).

6. I do not currently own a car, TV, CD/DVD player/drive, radio, or stereo.

7. I have written that I have worked in a luggage store and now that that's over, I am proud to report that I sold Samsonite. I highly recommend their products.

8. I am 1/4 German, 1/4 Irish, and nearly half English with a little French thrown in. On top of all that, I am Italian at heart.

9. I have a fear of driving, but face it every once in a while. I'm even a nervous passenger! I can't wait to escape the suburbs and move to a city where I can rely on public transportation.

10. I idolize Rick Steves for what he does, inspiring and guiding people on trips to Europe. If asked who I would want to have lunch with, he would be one of my top answers and people that would come to my mind first.

11. For Christmas, my brother, sister and I did an awkward retake of an old childhood picture as a gift for my parents. There was 23 year difference. In addition to wearing similar clothing and adopting the same poses, it's funny because my sister's dress is in her mouth in both portrait studio pictures. My mother loved them and both the retake and original are proudly displayed in the living room. The retake turned out very well. I'm sorry that I do not have permission to share it online.

Like the hostess, instead of tagging others, I will open it up to anyone who reads this and then wishes to participate. Please link your post in a comment.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Häagen-Dazs Gelato

Since I had a coupon, I walked to Target (in lovely 65 degree weather!) and purchased a 14 oz. carton of Häagen-Dazs Gelato after work on Tuesday (during daylight now!). The flavor I selected was "dark chocolate chip."


This was my dessert on Tuesday...


It was delicious! Gelato is more flavorful than American ice cream so this chocolate was decadent. The irregular dark chocolate shavings were the perfect contrast to it, crunchy and bittersweet to the smooth and slightly sweet ice cream. This is definitely for one who loves chocolate. I don't often eat this particular dessert so it felt like a treat. I suppose I'm ready for the food of warmer weather. Plus, I love adding as many Italian elements to my day as I possibly can!

I served my Italian-style ice cream in a ramekin from Crate & Barrel, which allows for a small portion and the size reminds me of a large paper cup you could order gelato in in Italy. I'm still focused on losing weight, but would never deprive myself. Moderation is key. I savored my little indulgence. I'll get several servings out of the 14 oz. container. Even though I am satisfied tonight, I still anticipate the next time!



And for a little blog announcement... I'm working on my Spring 2014 Capsule Wardrobe post now and plan to publish it on the first official day of the season on March 20th.



Monday, March 10, 2014

New Year's Resolutions Update: Weight Loss

I resolved to lose weight this year. Specifically, 8 pounds. Over the 9 1/2 weeks of 2014, I have lost... 6! I am so pleased with my progress!

I haven't been exercising any more than I have during 2013, but my diet has changed. As a result of trying to save every penny I can for Paris, I haven't purchased all the food and drink I've wanted including snacks and soda. So, all the carbs I adore are not often in my home. I'm sure cutting down on the caffeine-free coke is a major cause for the weight loss alone! I've actually been on a salad kick over the past few weeks. In addition to wiser food choices, I also have been trying to be better with portion control. Since I like to eat a lot and have grown up doing so; this is a major obstacle. Exercising some discipline, I have been eating less at each meal lately. On that note, for a dessert to lunch or dinner, I will only savor a square of Ghirardelli dark chocolate or a piece of Ferrero Rocher. I'm not often mindlessly eating handfuls of sugary milk chocolate. I also have a black and white horizontal-striped long-sleeved tee hanging on my freezer handle. (I believe horizontal stripes look best on a slimmer silhouette.) I am forced to move it whenever I open the lower refrigerator door and it serves as a visual reminder to eat less so I can achieve my goal. It's even more motivating that this particular item fits well in the chest and torso but is a bit tight on my arms. I need to lose some fat to feel very comfortable in it. [I scored this "French" shirt in my favorite color combination for it online at the LOFT for $15.89 including tax and didn't pay shipping! No longer available online, you might still be able to find it in a store.]


I would love to accomplish my goal and lose the remaining 2 pounds over the next four weeks before my big birthday trip abroad. I'll be the subject of many vacation photos and desire to look fabulous!



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Professional Pedicure

with my feet up on a Sunday morning

I treated myself to a pedicure at a salon on Friday evening. It was luxurious. I so thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Maybe even more so since it's a rare treat. I try not to spend since I'm saving for Paris. My last professional manicure was in October and it might be that my last pedicure was on Ferragosto in August; I can't even remember... That much rubbing of my feet completely dissolved the stress I felt from my busy week at work with rent being due, applications, move-ins, and off-site marketing. I chose a pedicure with some exfoliation, to rid myself of my dry skin from winter. I am happy to have gotten my feet and toe nails back into shape for my upcoming birthday trip to Paris, which is one month away today! OPI's Dutch Tulips is what I chose for my polish. They look nice.

Dutch Tulips by OPI

I traded the red I have them painted for this dark pink, both signature colors for me. This shade is what I selected for that manicure in Manhattan. Even though I give myself regular at-home manis and pedis, I so loved this particular pedicure and will try to continue to make it to a nail salon a few times a year.




Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Taking Something Off My To Do List

I am a very organized individual and so I love lists, wish lists more than to do lists, of course. I also love scratching out items on my handwritten to do list or striking through them on my phone once I complete them. However, sometimes it's nice, freeing, to take something off the list or simply to do one thing good enough and leave it. It's almost like getting out of school or work early, you have unexpected extra free time, to do anything you want. Thus, this short and sweet Simple Pleasure Sunday post. I wish I could say that the time I saved by drafting this rushed through, fairly lightweight post instead of the usual longer one was spent leisurely, lounging around in a silky robe with a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa for example.



...but sadly, it was not. We are expecting a lot of snow here in Maryland soon, and so I had errands to run before its arrival. Since I had a vehicle this morning, I ran to the grocery store, then Target, then to have my hair trimmed, then once the library opened, to borrow a book from one of my favorite authors to enjoy while snowed in later, and to do my laundry while spending some time with my family and our dog. Not spending so much time on this post gave me a chance to catch my breath in between accomplishing line items on my to do list. I will probably continue on with my to do list this evening, but in a fun way, with a much-needed at-home mani/pedi.

Done. {ahh...}



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Links I Love: Italy: Edition #3


* breakfast in Venice [gillianslists.com]
* best of Bologna: aperitivo [italyproject 365.com]
* Italian slang [blog.studentsville.it]
* wine tasting in Florence [anamericaninitaly.com]
36 hours in Chianti [nytimes.com]
* gelato [adventuresofacarryon.com]

If you loved these links too, then be sure to check out...