Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I spent Sunday in Philadelphia. I picked up the guy I'm dating, J, at his house, got breakfast and then drove us to Baltimore to catch the Megabus, a discount bus service, the rest of the way. The ride was good and oh so cheap, so I highly recommend it! On the way, J gave me the June issue of Budget Travel with "Rome" big on the cover on top of a cone of gelato. Isn't that thoughtful? :) I had also picked up a book from the library, another Italian travel narrative. This one's called "Extra Virgin, A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera, Where Every Month is Enchanted" by Annie Hawes. I'm only a couple chapters in, but it's great so far.

Anyway, I take him to see the LOVE sculpture featured in my post last week, followed by a nice park called Rittenhouse Square and then to this Italian market, cafe and cafeteria called Di Bruno Brothers. He loves cheese and gourmet food so he loved it, way more than I ever did, and I practically had to drag him out of there! He got to sample lots of different kinds of cheese from the stands towards the back of the place.

A View of the Reading Terminal Market

Next, we met up with my old Art History friend, L, at my favorite place in the city, the Reading Terminal Market. This is a huge indoor market for groceries and eateries. J and I had cheesesteaks while L had sushi. We actually found a table on a weekend. L entertained us about how everything went wrong while working in Greece this summer. The three of us also hit Chinatown where we shopped at a bigger store there. After that, L had to go prepare to teach her very first class the next day.

Philadelphia's Chinatown Gate

J and I walked to South Street. South Street is electic. It has restaurants of different types of ethnic cuisine, cheap accessory and shoe stores, art galleries and counterculture type of shops. In fact, back when I was living there a year and a half ago, I reported to a neighbor that I had discovered that street one day and he told me he thought I needed a tattoo for admission! When J heard I hadn't been to this gallery space where all the wall, floor and ceiling surfaces were covered in mosaic, we decided to go. This was not what I had expected! There was nudity everywhere. Specifically sexual parts painted onto the fragments. Afterwards we both said that nothing made us stop and say "I like that." Then, we chilled out with a beer at an Irish pub (as it was in the 90s and sunny). We walked to the end of the street which overlooks the Delaware River.

We decided a cab would be smart to go back to where we started. This gelato place I remembered was closed (in that heat!), so we ended up at Di Bruno Bros. again for it. That's right, we ate a greasy cheesesteak, then drank beer, then had gelato. I pretty much have an iron stomach and he had a sore throat, so... that's what we did! We also shopped around that nice shopping district there. It's made up of two streets, Walnut and Chestnut.

I had to catch my bus back and he was picking up a rental car at the same time to continue onto Atlantic City. I love that he's a traveler too. This was actually my first day trip, or vacation for that matter, with a guy and it was good; we had fun. He received more of the Philly as a Local tour than a truly touristy one. I think he liked the city too. I just love it and wouldn't mind moving back.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Style Sunday: Michelle's Style Staples

This Style Sunday posting is late yet again. Sorry about that! I was in Philly yesterday. (My next post will probably be all about it!)

Creating my very own personal style is important to me. It's something I think about quite often. I'd like it if a friend saw something and thought, "That is so Michelle." I'm also concerned with identity; I feel like I know myself well. The thing is I'm rather shy and quiet... I've never been all that great at expressing who I am out loud, having enough confidence to do so. Dressing and accessorizing is a fun way I can. When I dress up, or even dress in my go-to uniform for hanging out around the house of dark blue jeans, a plain white cami, a lightweight black hoodie with the sleeves pushed up, ballet flats and big earrings, I feel good. I'm completely me.

I love words like classic, perfect, ultimate and quintessential. The best and most personal version of a timeless staple. Something you can depend on. Preferring a more classic look, I don't really follow trends. I think it's such a shame that most people wear so many of them. For example, jeggings don't look good on every body type. People could do so much better... Fit is key. As well as proportion and highlighting your assets. Shouldn't style be much more personal than simply mainstream? I like to think I dress in a way that flatters my body type, which just so happens to be hourglass. Which means a fitted v-neck shirt that ends at the hip on the top and either an a-line skirt that hits at the knee, a wide-leg trouser, or my favorite, a pair of dark boot-cut jeans on the bottom.

I adore the book "The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own" by Nina Garcia. She's one of the judges on the TV show Project Runway. I have yet to see an episode but every time I say this to someone, they reply that I'd love it. Haven't had a chance to read her other books on the subject of style either! They are: The Little Black Book of Style, The Style Strategy: A Less-Is-More Approach to Staying Chic and Shopping Smart, and the recently released Nina Garcia's Look Book: What to Wear for Every Occasion.

Anyway, "The One Hundred" is an outline of the timeless basics of a stylish woman's wardrobe. Nina wants to feel classic as well, a kindred spirit. This is very much her list, a fact she totally admits. She encourages readers to make their own list and adapt each and every item on it to their style.

I do admire her style. And have even added things on her list to my closet. Because of this book, I had to have bangles again, my first L.L. Bean tote, perfume (never wanted it before but now I wear my signature scent, Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere, every single day), a plain white t-shirt, a safari jacket, a striped sailor shirt, and turquoise earrings. I happened to purchase my first wrap dress a few weeks ago but that's a classic I've wanted for awhile.

I don't like every item on this amazing list however, like... the boyfriend cardigan or a cape. She also offers that nail polish should only be red red, faint pink, black or clear. I don't mind a red or clear nail but my favorites are shimmery dark pinks. My ultimate favorite of that particular range is "It's All Greek to Me" by OPI. I love color... Why so limited, Nina?

Much as I love finding inspiration and basically knowing what's in, I don't feel the need to buy fashion magazines so much after purchasing this book. Those magazines could potentially be an expensive habit. I'll save money to buy items on my personal style one hundred.

My list would go something like this...
1. A-line dress
2. A-line skirt
3. Ballet flat
4. Bangles
5. Belt
6. BlackBerry (which I'd love to have one day!)
7. Book
8. Boots
9. Cardigan
10. Charm bracelet
11. Chocolate
12. Clutch
13. Diamond studs
14. Dangling earrings
15. Gloves
16. Investment Bag
17. Jean skirt
18. Jeans
19. Khaki blazer
20. Lace-trim cami
21. Leather handbag
22. Lingerie
23. Little Black Dress
24. Little white dress (another thing I have yet to acquire...)
25. L.L. Bean tote
26. Mascara
27. Nail polish
28. One-piece swimsuit
29. Pajamas
30. Pashmina
31. Peacoat
32. Pearl necklace
33. Pencil skirt
34. Perfume
35. Plain white camisole
36. Plain white tee
37. Push-up bra
38. Quatrefoil jewelry
39. Safari jacket
40. Samsonite luggage
41. Sandals
42. Scarf
43. Spanx
44. Stilettos
45. Striped sailor shirt
46. Suit (I need a new one that fits me)
47. Sunglasses
48. Tote
49. Trench
50. Turquoise and coral jewelry
51. Umbrella
52. Underwear
53. V-neck t-shirt
54. Valid passport
55. Watch
56. White button-down shirt
57. Wide-Leg trousers
58. Wrap dress
59. Zippered hoodie

...hmm... only 59 things. Maybe I'm not quite finished... And maybe I'll explain my choices on a more complete list in a future Style Sunday. It might not be 100 though... I do like to keep things simple and only keep things in my closet that I adore and look fabulous on me. ...it's very much on the small side.

What's would definitely be on your list?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Are you loving your weekend?

LOVE Sculpture in Love Park in Philadelphia

I hope you all are having a fun weekend. I, unfortunately, had to work a long day today, but I'm spending tomorrow in my beloved Philadelphia. I'm showing a friend around and meeting up with an old friend there.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Style Sunday: My Latest Bag Purchases

I was supposed to post this on Sunday and not today, which is Monday. I'm sorry! I've wanted this blog for awhile and truly do care! ...it's just that life got in the way. I've been working like whoa lately and dating more too. I wasn't really home that much Sunday. And I visit Philadelphia all day next Sunday, so we'll see about that...

Kristi over at La Bella Figura posted about her new Merona Tote from Target. Her selection is a bold black and white print. Even though I do love the graphic quality of black and white, I saw the varieties using a quatrefoil print when checking them out in store. I adore quatrefoils. You find them in lots of places …like Italian architecture and in the Moorish decoration at the Alhambra. An accessory featuring the quatrefoil design is so me. I own many earrings and other pieces of jewelry with this particular shape. I suppose I like it because it’s simple and bold yet unique, and of course reminds me a bit of Italy. One pair of earrings is a large silver quatrefoil with a latticework of quatrefoils inside. It feels like I'm wearing a teeny piece of architecture. Anyway, I chose this chocolate brown tote with a grid of tan quatrefoil outlines. Every so often one is yellow. Chocolate brown is a good neutral color. I think this can be an everyday tote for the fall. I've already started to carry it because I'm so ready to wear jeans and jackets. ...and not to be so uncomfortable in my car; my A/C just went up! Did I mention that this perfect fall tote is just $12.99?!

I owned one of these totes before. A blue one with a white geometric design that I thought looked kind of Moroccan. It was my everyday tote one fall when I was a graduate student in Philadelphia a couple of years ago. I carried heavy art books, pleasure reading checked out from the library, and goodies from my favorite spot in the city, the Reading Terminal Market. I used it so much it finally started to fall apart. It was a great bag…

This season's bag has improved. Instead of a couple of handles total, this one has two leather handles on each side, which are linked to the bag through a couple grommets. One side features two open exterior pockets.

I also picked this up recently...

Isn't it beautiful? I love the design. This is my second bag from a particular company. I wish I could show the monogram on the other side, but, alas, I'd prefer to remain more anonymous online. It turned out better than I expected! The font resembles the cutout design. It's small and fits inside of one of the outlines. And I chose my favorite color, a dark pink, the color of the dark pink azaelas that are always in bloom on my birthday. ...which is perfect because of the flowery silhouette. This bag is constructed very well too. The fabric seems nice and thick. The top closes with velcro and there are a few open pockets on one side of the interior and another with zipper closure on the other. It's a great size for going somewhere overnight.

I just so happen to sell luggage for a living and love all kinds of bags!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat Pray Love

Lover of travel narrative that I am, I adored the book, Eat, Pray, Love. So I planned to see the movie the day it opened. The previews looked so good! Who better to play the main character than Julia Roberts?

I went to see it with a couple girlfriends Friday night. And it was fantastic! And pretty close to the book, from what I recall, having read it years ago. Julia is perfect. Go see it! Like now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

fare la bella figura

I am currently accepting applications for an open position at work. I wish that Americans could learn what the Italians know about first impressions!

The Italians have a saying, fare la bella figura, which literally translated means "to make a good figure." It reminds us that one should always put his/her best foot forward.

This means dressing up to take and turn in an application! As well as providing a resume and cover letter. I’ve been attaching a cover letter since I was at least 18, if not earlier. I haven't had a single cover letter yet this time around. Also resumes often had errors, including simply not updating it with the most current employment. Please put in the effort, people!

Without going into detail, I've been recently allowed a better staffing situation than what I've had in months! I’m really looking forward to loving my job again, like I used to, before the changes. Now that I'll share some responsibilities, I won’t feel so exhausted after work. I just gotta find that perfect person! Once I do, I'll have plenty of energy to dedicate to my new favorite corner of cyberspace!


Welcome to my blog! I am pleased to say that this is my first post!

Cin Cin!

I want to live well, in my own way. Since turning 18 and going off to college out-of-state, I have become more and more independent. Personally, I want to live passionately and as an Italian might. This blog is where I’ll share my everyday life experiences with you and by reflecting on them, truly appreciate them.

I plan to post when I feel inspired to do so. In this way, I get to exercise spontaneity. However, I also crave the routine. So I plan to post a regular feature called “Style Sunday” every week. This may be about the creation of my personal style, a garment or accessory I wear, the decoration of my home, or something I use in my spare time.

You’ve probably guessed that I love Italy. That I do.

I have visited my beloved country three times and can hardly wait to return! I enjoy learning about and experiencing the art, architecture, history, food, drink, language and culture of its various regions.

My love for Italy all started when I took an AP Art History class my senior year of high school. It was so intense, I couldn't tell you I liked that discipline at the time. I remember my teacher encouraging us to go to her beloved Rome to see the art in person, and that she wanted to go see the mosaics of Ravenna.

So after looking longingly at my suitemate’s Art History textbooks and hearing about an amazing professor, I continued my study of Art History during my second semester of college. I also went on a group tour to Venice, Florence and Rome during spring break. Seeing Italy for the first time was one of the best experiences of my whole life. Sure, I was thrilled to stand inside the Pantheon and see Bernini's (sculpture of) Saint Theresa in Ecstasy, but I discovered much, much more of what the country had to offer beyond art. I was falling head over heels in love with Italy. Coming back from that trip, I announced that I was definitely going to study abroad there.

I "studied" (well, I used that term loosely since it was a party beach town) in a town called Pescara. This modern city lies on the Adriatic, right across the boot from Rome. Seated in the internet cafe to update my blog about my experience, I wanted to start each entry with something like "It's sunny and I'm in Italy and I'm happy." ...maybe I should have; that would have been honest! As a traveler, I loved exploring and discovering new places. I was always wandering around, this home-base city at first and then to other cities.

I love to eat. Italian food is happiness. For breakfast, I loved an espresso or cappuccino and a croissant. I acquired a taste for coffee during my study abroad experience. I love Italian pizza, margherita (cheese) or topped with fresh spinach and prosciutto. Everything is so fresh and flavorful. And gelato of course! My favorite flavor is baci, which is chocolate with hazelnut. You usually get small scoops of three different flavors, so you can easily try lots quick. I ate pasta everyday, possibly twice a day. Often with fresh vegetables. My favorite tomato sauce was Tomato Basil but one of my roommates favored the very spicy Arrabbiata, which I order at times today. Each region produces their own variety of bread and my roommates and I always had a loaf. I made myself drink red wine and finally liked the taste after I came home. It reminds me of Italy. I've developed a taste for the cheap red table wine, chianti.

Three months was definitely not long enough! I hope to live there again, for as of yet an undetermined amount of time. Let’s see where life takes me…

These two experiences fundamentally changed me. I love Italy for many, many things, but, most of all, for the way Italians passionately live their lives. They value each other, romance, expression, presentation, the meal and beauty over things, space, money and jobs.

Scoring an amazing airfare, I returned again in 2007 to party in Pescara with an old study abroad friend and explore cities I had yet to visit, Ravenna and Pisa. (I had to have my picture taken holding up The Leaning Tower!) That makes 3 trips. And confirms my undying love for Italy.

I am currently saving for a small trip next April. I truly hope I can make this happen! I was thinking Verona, Venice and then a picturesque train ride to Vienna. I always say “next time, I’ll see the places other than Italy,” but I simply cannot not go. And anyway, I’ll conquer Europe when it fits into my budget better.