Sunday, February 27, 2011

Upcoming Events

This is a stand in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market.
They serve my favorite Philly Cheesesteak.

My last day at my current job is Wednesday, March 2nd. Hopefully that day will be the last day I work in retail ever! 10 years has certainly been long enough.

Training for my new job will be conducted in a suburb located less than 20 miles from my beloved Philadelphia! How fantastic is that?! I'll be away March 8th-10th. Sometime during that time, I hope to hop over to Philly and hang out with one of my old Art History friends still living there. (Though not for long! Currently at work on her PhD, she just won a fellowship to live in Greece from September to September. And like with me and Italy, there's a question if she's coming back or not!) My favorite place in Philly is the Reading Terminal Market, so I always hope to go during a visit. I would love to visit the stand pictured for a cheesesteak! I was fortunate enough to visit Philadelphia four times last year. This will only be my first of 2011. The suburban town I'll be in (and have been to before multiple times) has a DSW so hopefully I can try on and pick up the pair of ballet flats I've been lusting after online to have for my trip to Italy. I need to make sure they're comfortable since I'll be on my feet all the time on my trip.

That friend in Philly also invited me over to celebrate our April 15th birthdays, just like we did last year. Since we dined at a sushi restaurant with her friends in celebration of our 26th year, she teased me that I get to pick for our 27th year. I don't like seafood, and I like it even less raw! Nonetheless I love trying new things and L knows this. (After sushi we crossed the street to have a glass of wine and a platter of Italian antipasti at a wine bar for me. L told the bartender we were 52! know, combined.) I love going out to dinner with her. We've also tried a Turkish restaurant that was really good, a Middle-Eastern counter within that market I didn't like so much and a Chinese restaurant within Chinatown with the best beef and broccoli ever at least. Picky growing up, L is a far more adventurous eater than me though. Since I love Italian and she loves Greek food plus there's so many cuisines to try, I wonder where we'll end up... I love browsing restaurant reviews on yelp... I will seriously consider spending my birthday there, the 15th...

...because on April 16th, I'm going out to that charming Irish bar and highly-rated Italian restaurant in Annapolis I previously mentioned with friends. I invited my college room mate and her husband who live three hours away and I'm happy to announce that they are able to attend! I will invite the rest of my friends later this week since I've given myself a few days off in between jobs.

On April 17th, I'm helping with an Italian feast to mark the occasion with my family. I have to decide on the menu... I think my dad's (meat) lasagna with my specialty pasta with vegetables, and maybe platters of antipasti? Prosciutto, cheese, roasted peppers, classic bruschetta, regular salad? Possibly sauteed spinach? Lots of wine... It can't be overly Italian for my very American family (also without a drop of Italian blood). Instead of tiramisu or something Italian for dessert, I can hardly wait to have chocolate cake topped with white buttercream frosting decorated with dark pink roses! Maybe I'll make them order it with "Auguri" written on top... That means "Wishes," short for "Tanti Auguri" or "Best Wishes" in Italian which is really what you say to wish someone a happy birthday.

The DC Cherry Blossom Festival is March 26th through April 10th. My friend who I walk with every week and I are celebrating our birthdays (her's is mid-February and as you know mine's mid-April) there. We go to DC at least once a year and we love it at its most beautiful, when the trees are in bloom. We will go on a Sunday during that time (since I will soon no longer work or be on call that day of the week!). We're not sure if we wanna hit a certain museum or monument yet. I love me a birthday, something I'm quite known for!

I leave for Italy on March 16th, which is just about 16 days away! I may have some exciting news regarding my trip, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

~happy news~

Cheers to me!

As you guys may remember from this post, I have been waiting to hear if I was offered a job.


I got the job!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Italian Cooking Show Review: Extra Virgin

Have you guys seen the TV show Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel? If you haven't yet, check it out!

It's a cooking show based in Tuscan cuisine and hosted by actress Debi Mazar (proudly from Queens) and her Italian husband Gabriele. They shoot the show from their LA home where they live with two young daughters. It's on often and new episodes premiere Wednesday at 10 pm ET. I love it!

I think the food looks delicious and the hosts make it look easy. Gabriele takes charge and provides most of the explanations while Debi helps. He is passionate about traditional Tuscan food. Even though Debi's dramatic style doesn't appeal to me, I have to admit she always looks fabulous. For example, when she was working in a food truck for charity, she was wearing this huge ivory cape! Probably not the most sensible, but I admire how they both live their lives so passionately.

What I love most of all is the couple's interaction. Debi and Gabriele love each other so much and it's fun to listen to their banter. Not only does he express his love by cooking, he is thoroughly romantic in many ways. I love when he calls her "mi amore." On her birthday, Gabriele surprised Debi with a ring he picked out with his daughters and asked her to marry him again surrounded by his family in Tuscany. (Can't wait for that show!) The last episode I caught was when they went on a picnic. He surprises her often. I've decided I definitely need to marry a "sexy Tuscan farmer" too!

My New Red Wristlet

In my last post, I was looking for a deep red clutch for evening.

...and the winner is:

The wristlet strap is a little loop inside that you pull out. I'm very impressed. :)

I purchased it today at Lord & Taylor for $35!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The search is on...

...for a sophisticated deep-red clutch.

Kinda like the red that "italiagal" is in...

In searching the internet, my favorite is this one:

at Lord & Taylor

It appears to be the color I want; will have to see in person though! The red handbag I carry practically everyday is this perfect shade (although fading), and it's Kenneth Cole New York, so there's probably a good chance this wristlet is as well.

It's very simple and clean yet has some visual interest in its texture. The inside is nice too. It has a couple of pockets, one with zipper closure, and other spaces with card slots and an ID window. The hardware is brushed nickel.

It's affordable at $41.25, a sale price.

L&T is all the way in Annapolis and I'm working a lot right now... I hope to make the drive and pick it up soon ...and carry it out to dinner in Italy...

Study Abroad in Italy

My friend C's enhancement of my photo of Piazza Navona in Rome

I want to work in a study abroad office on a college campus one day, helping to affect the kind of life change I've gone through (in falling head over heels in love with Italy) in others.

I subscribe to a listserv for International Education professionals. They do not let you follow one kind of topic like job vacancies so I receive everything sent, which is at least a dozen e-mails a day.

...and today I came across this study abroad course in Rome:

Gustolab Institute Center for Food and Culture & UMASS AMHERST are pleased to announce:
5-week full immersion

Italian Language and Food & Culture 2011 Summer Program in Rome, Italy:

6 or 9 credit options, credits transfer to UMass

MAY 16 – JUNE 29

Courses will be held at Gustolab Institute Center for Food and Culture

in partnership with Scuola Leonardo da Vinci - Rome
in collaboration with the Program in Italian studies at UMASS AMHERST.

5 College Students can register through UMass International Programs Office. Financial aid available to UMass Students.

The Food & Culture summer program in Rome is open also to non UMass Students.

The 5-week program in Rome introduces the students to one of Europe’s most vibrant capitals, it’s multicultural and yet inherently European environment, through the lens of food culture. The result is a life-enriching experience abroad that offers our students invaluable personal, academic and professional opportunities. The Food and Culture program includes: lectures on cultural, social and economic aspects of food in Italy; hands-on workshops with chefs and journalists; guided visits to farms, vineyards, artisanal botteghe, fishermen’s boats, coffee shops and ... more!

OPTION A ( Beginners): Intensive Elementary Italian Language Course + Food and Culture Course, 9 UMass Credits
OPTION B ( Intermediate): Intensive Intermediate Italian Language Course + Food and Culture Course, 9 UMass Credits
OPTION C ( Advanced): Conversation in Italian Language + Food and Culture Course, 6 UMass Credits

Courses will be held at Gustolab Institute, in collaboration with Scuola Leonardo da Vinci Rome; the headquarters and classrooms are located in the historic center of Rome, footsteps away from Piazza Navona, Campo de' Fiori.
Gustolab Institute is the first Center for food and culture in Italy concentrated in short and long term academic programs.

Gustolab Institute and Scuola Leonardo da Vinci instructors are specialized in Italian languages, literature, visual arts, social studies, food & culture, gastronomy, media, advertising, culture/society and history.

Courses Description

*Food & Culture in Italy***

(3 cr. applicable toward UMass Major in Italian. Course taught in English at Gustolab Institute Center for Food and Culture).

This course combines traditional lectures and discussion meetings with hands-on co-curricular activities and field trips in and around Rome, as well as in the Lazio region and Cilento (Mediterranean Diet roots). The course presents food in all its complex connections with culture, nutrition, environment, society, economics and politics. All course topics are accompanied by practical activities, ranging from classes in professional kitchens to food and wine pairing and tasting workshops (excursions, field trips, observations and meetings with the experts).The lecture series features prestigious experts for each specific course topic, thus providing a dynamic learning environment with an interdisciplinary approach. Practical assignments allow students to explore and experience fìrst-hand food culture in the streets of Rome, to use and improve their Italian and make the most of their summer abroad.
*Intensive Elementary or *Intermediate Italian

(UMass ITAL 126 or 246 - 6 cr. at Scuola Leonardo da Vinci Rome ). Both courses are applicable toward UMass Amherst language requirement.

*Italian Conversation ***

(UMass ITAL 372 - 3 cr. at Scuola Leonardo da Vinci) For students with 4 semesters of ltalian or equivalent. Credits are applicable toward UMass Italian Major.


Students are housed in shared apartments, located in the center of Rome at a 20 minute tram ride from Gustolab Institute and Scuola Leonardo Da Vinci. The comfortable, fully furnished apartments feature multiple double occupancy rooms, bathroom and kitchen. Free internet access is available in each room.
Included services
- Transfer to/from airport to apartments & residence
· Orientation – 1st day walking tour of Rome
· Emergency Facilitator
· Welcome & Farewell dinners
· 1 month + 1 week Rome public transportation card
· Accommodation in shared Apartments (double rooms),
· Italian prepaid cell phone

Application for students:

To apply contact the UMass Office Of International Programs or email Prof. Roberto Ludovico


- limited enrollment,
- registration deadline and 50% deposit due march 25. 2011 -
- full program fee payment due april 8.2011.

More information at

See you in Rome!
Isn't that fabulous?
I can't wait to sell this sort of thing to students!
I wasn't taken care of at all on my study abroad experience! You just don't wanna know... The services in this particular program are so nice!

One month from today I will be flying to Italy! ...ah, I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

job interview

I had a job interview today and it went really well. I think this chick's gonna hire me! I am so happy!

Remember, one of my New Year's Resolutions was:

2. Find a new job and escape retail.

The position is an Apartment Leasing Consultant for a local community, a pretty much non-ghetto one at that! My potential boss is totally no nonsense.

So, please, everyone keep your fingers crossed for me!

Hopefully I'll have some news later this week!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

enjoying the little things

I suggested to my saintly sister that she make her famous meatballs tonight, not being very serious ...and she actually did! They are always delicious!

Cutting the Cappuccinos and Croissants

Panera Pastries

I love Panera! I visit one for their delicious cappuccino and chocolate pastry at least twice a week, sometimes three times! Each visit is just under $5.

Even though I'm on track in saving for my trip to Verona, Venezia, Padova e Milano next month, I want to have more-- just in case and to have a really good time. It's very Italian to save.

So, I would like to skip all my Panera visits for the month leading up to my trip, from February 15th to March 15th to be exact. I will also not substitute Panera with Starbucks or something like that. That could possibly be a savings of $60. I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity of having a cappuccino in Italy, sitting at a table in a beautiful piazza surrounnded by 500-year-old buildings, because I ran out of money.

I may have to think of a cheap, homemade breakfast food so I don't feel deprived. I love to bake as well as the opportunity to try something new.

I also think this moratorium will help me lessen the frequency of my trips after the month is over, so it becomes a truly every-once-in-awhile special treat again instead of an addiction that really adds up. Being budgeted since I bought my airline ticket in October, I enjoy things more when they don't happen so often. I get so much more out of going out to dinner and buying more than a single item in a store nowadays.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chinese New Year

My Personal Photo of Philadelphia's Chinatown Gate
at the corner of 10th and Arch

Today, February 3rd, is the Chinese New Year 2011 aka the Lunar New Year 4709. It is now officially the Year of the Rabbit. Going from the Year of the Tiger to one of the Rabbit, it should be a more peaceful year. I love culture.

I also love identity and personality. So, if you were born in 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, or 2011, then you were born under the sign of the rabbit. An individual born during one of these years is principled, honorable, sophisticated, kind, and caring. That sounds good, but I am actually an ambitious, busy, hard-working, loyal, honest Rat.

I hope to have alittle Chinese food to celebrate. Maybe some beef and broccoli this evening? Although, I wish I was in Philadelphia where they're having many events. And to further enjoy its Chinatown to browse the shops and to dine in the restaurants. Check it out on the Philly blog,

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Colors for February

I thought I would celebrate my favorite colors during this month of love, February. My favorite color is dark pink, particularly a dark pink with more red than purple in it than, say, fushsia. I might find it named "raspberry." One of the reasons I like this specific shade is because it reminds me of the color of my favorite flowers, the darker pink azaleas that are always in bloom for me on my mid-April birthday. I swear that the ones in front of my parents' house are a bit darker than the ones I'm finding on the internet...

Though I also adore a deep red, the color of a glass goblet of vino rosso or the hue in the red rose pictured above. My everyday handbag is just such a red. [I wanted to capture the color, but it is, unfortunately, not photographing well on this cloudy day.] My friends notice that I favor red accessories. A cute little red travel alarm clock from L.L. Bean that I ordered for Italy just arrived this week too.

I actually do not have any dark pink earrings anymore. (And earrings are the only kind of jewelry I always wear everyday.) I often daydream of shopping on my upcoming trip to Venice for murano glass earrings; I should find them in this color. I also want a murano glass vase or art piece in this vivid shade. I also can't wait to browse the markets in Venice just for fun, perhaps I'll stumble across the perfect turquoise necklace, a chianti red clutch, or a scarf in a beautiful warm color for my collection.

Browsing on etsy, I came across these...

Isn't the color stunning? I love them! Usually etsy sellers like to pair this color with an antique bronze metal for a vintage look, which is appealing, but most of my jewelry is this bright shiny silver, and I much prefer that sort of setting, it's more me. Even though they're pretty affordable, I might wait 'til after my trip to Italy to purchase them... Maybe not... I could wear them for Valentine's Day... Hopefully I would be out on a date instead of staying in while wearing them!