Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Capitoline Venus

Flipping through the Amtrak magazine on the way to New Haven, I came across an advertisement for the latest exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in DC. The Capitoline Venus, a really well-preserved scultpure from antiquity, will be there from early June to early September. For more information, click here. It's here in part to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification, which, if you remember, was March 17th when I was in Italy and wondered why the shops were closed. I haven't been to its home, the Capitoline Museum in Rome, yet.

I'd like to go see it. Plus it's an excuse to go to DC and to hang out with my Virginia friends at a midpoint between us. I've only been to DC once so far this year, for the beautiful Cherry Blossoms and a couple of museums. We plan to indulge in the touristy and do the free More Than Monuments Walking Tour by DC By Foot. Hopefully it'll be cooler outside when we want to go towards the end of the exhibition.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

~~~for my apartment~~~

There are 43 days until I collect the keys to my new apartment!

In my waitin', hopin' and dreamin' of my future apartment home, I have come to covet:

Raya Chip and Dip by Crate & Barrel
~for entertaining~
For chips and salsa go with margaritas of course!

8 inches tall
~for the kitchen~
I've wanted one in Walnut but since it is unavailable, I'd consider it in Cinnabar [pictured].

As much as I adore these things, I may not buy them for myself. Even though both beauties are about $30 a pop, I would much rather be able to pay rent and afford a sofa this time around! Let alone the cheap Bed Bath & Beyond mirror to go over a chest, two Target throw pillows for my sofa and two Target end tables I plan to purchase on top! Maybe I'll receive these featured items as apartmentwarming gifts... Maybe I'll cave......

Anyway, I can hardly wait to decorate my new apartment!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Happy Thoughts for "The Happiness Project"

I loved "The Happiness Project Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun" by Gretchen Rubin.

I liked the author right off the bat... a woman who thinks too much, loves her research and is just very interesting. Her writing always kept my interest. I would want to have an occasional cup of coffee with her.

The book is for people who are basically happy and want to feel happier. To truly appreciate life, ordinary life. Not just go through the motions. She embarks on a year-long project to work on just that.

I learned a lot about happiness and psychology. Happiness is pretty hard work. It so often takes discipline. I admired the author's effort. She had three to five resolutions under a single theme each month January through November. December, she actually tried them all. She became happier.

Even though I do not want to start my own year-long Happiness Project, that's too ambitious, I will probably use a few of her methods. I love her "Resolutions Chart" where she keeps herself accountable on a daily basis. I may even download her's for myself. I also learned that a resolution is something you keep, a goal is something you hit. After I move into my apartment, when I have the space, I would really like to scrapbook my whole life. I've started it all and I left it unfinished and truly scattered. Completing certain scrapbooks would be goals and something like 'tackling a nagging task' would be a resolution. I also want to study Italian again, that I could start before I move. If you don't use it, you lose it. In addition, I'd also like to have renewed energy to accomplish every single one of my 2011 New Year's Resolutions.

I'll have to give those resolutions some thought. I'm inspired. Go out and get the book, and I promise you will too!

Girly Getaway in New Haven Highlights

I visited an old college friend who lives just outside of New Haven, Connecticut from Sunday morning to Wednesday morning. We decided to give my visit a particularly girly feel.

On Sunday, I took a very early train in order to arrive in time for the polo match. We still had some time to kill for the game though, so we ate at a small local place in her suburb where everyone seemed to know one another. My friend is currently living on a horse farm which hosted the event. This was my very first polo game and my chance to learn about it. I even stomped the divets, which I already knew about from Pretty Woman. After that, we ate at a local Tex-Mex restaurant, the spot to go. The margarita and the meal were both delicious ...and it was kinda funny that the service was truly horrible! Our reservations were lost and that was only the beginning! Luckily, we were listening to live music. And I was dressed in my cute little sundress and wedge sandals. And out with my fun friend F!

We started the next day with breakfast at a local diner. Chocolate chip pancakes for me! Next, we explored downtown New Haven, which is kinda small but very nice. At the center is a "green." Mainly on Chapel Street, we shopped for accessories. Most notable of which was my friend's really cute clutch which was actually recycled from old vinyl diner seats by a local artisan. It is truly fabulous, style with a story. We dined at Frank Pepe's for New Haven-style pizza, this is a wood fired thin crust pizza with quality ingredients. We tried the summer version of the original which was a thin crust bottom with a thick crust around the edge that was browned to different shades. It had mozzarella, basil and garlic on it with fresh tomatoes on top. We decided to try the original next time; we're thinking it has tomato sauce. When you have friends visit, you get to discover your own backyard. Anyway, it was delicious. I wish I had my own pictures of the pizza but I totally slacked, again.

This is actually an art installation in New Haven.
Parts of the walls of this walkway and the sides of a parking garage are painted orange
and when you stand in the spot I am, a diamond with four circles appears.

Famous Frank Pepe's
for New Haven-style Pizza

On Tuesday, we hit the beach, a private one where we had to know someone. It was beautiful, the beach was surrounded by quintessential New England houses. You know the ones covered with the dark brown shingles you see in the Hamptons on TV shows and in movies. We packed farmer's market goods for a dirt cheap yet delicious lunch. I flipped through F's Real Simple while hoping to get a bit more of a tan. Next, we went shopping for shoes, makeup and stuff for my new apartment later that afternoon. For dinner that evening, I tried steamed cheeseburgers which was the thing there. I wasn't very impressed with the overly juicy and thus drippy burgers. My family and I happen to be huge fans of the grill. We sat on the porch to eat. We did a lot of porch-sitting, with a cold beer to beat the heat. It was nice as we were surrounded by mountains, plus many people stopped by to chat. We enjoyed our fourth cup of ice cream over the course of the 72 hours I visited that evening. Homemade ice cream which was fantastic. I teased my friend that my trips to Italy are usually punctuated by gelato!

On the way to the train station to depart, we had breakfast at the best Panera I've ever patronized. The pastries looked wonderful when they were actually browned! My cappuccino was also very well made. The five hour train ride was very long again. And then I couldn't even go home because my parents were redoing their floors. So a friend and I went to go get pedicures. My first professional pedicure ever. I loved it. My toes look really good! I stayed the night over a friend's, kinda extending my vacation.

We did a lot but it was so great to simply hang out with this old college friend of mine. Since she graduated in May 2006, I've seen her for a couple of days at my December graduation and at two weddings of our mutual friends. ...but those events made us busy and this trip was full of truly quality time. I also saw what she's told me all about in this chapter in her life.

I hope to still have overnight trips even after I begin paying rent! I'll be very happy with my apartment though! Plus, it'll also be my chance to return the favor and hostess visiting friends! I think I invited F over al least a dozen times over the three-day visit...

I like to travel light.

I love my tote bags!

I am a firm believer in packing lightly for a trip. Lugging around heavy luggage is not my idea of fun. It's so much easier to wheel and throw around a carry-on or large tote bag. I highly recommend packing less.

Like my last trip (which you can read all about in the next post scheduled soon after this one), I only carried a carry-on for a 4-day girly getaway. Even though I didn't pack too much, I still didn't feel deprived and had all the options I needed for an afternoon at the beach and dinner out in town.

I <3 Real Simple, even more for this article on their website:

"Packing Light for a Weekend Trip"

It gives good advice on clothing choices for a weekend trip to the beach, the country and the city. The recommendations are classic pieces that mix and match. Better than I do even! My last trip actually included the beach, the country and the city! And like I said, I fit it all inside a 19 inch spinner that does not expand. If I can do it, you can too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Countdown

 2  days 'til I visit my college friend in Connecticut!
56 days 'til I move into my apartment!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Attend Artscape!

Artscape is an arts festival in Baltimore. It's this weekend, Friday through Sunday. It snuck up on me, even though I totally mentioned it to a friend on Sunday! Since I'll be out of town this coming Sunday (yay!), I may not go... I went last year for the first time and really enjoyed it. I just wanted to send a recommendation out there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happy Dance and Other Random Things

My dad's birthday is today. We had a big birthday dinner for him. Happy Birthday Dad! Auguri! ("Wishes!" as they say in Italy.)

Since my pen wasn't writing on his gift certificate birthday gift, I grabbed a shipping receipt from Target I had laying on my desk, turned it over and drew circles until the ink started to flow. This was beside a diagram, a diagram of instructions for a 'happy dance,' complete with multiple numbered and labeled left and right feet and arrows. This is in case you want to "break out in a Happy Dance when you receive an order you really, really like..." I love that. And since my order was piece of furniture for my new apartment, I did! This reminds me of my former boss, M, who just so happens to be currently employed by Target. At our old luggage store, at good news, he used to call "Happy Dance!" and we would dance in place for a moment.

As for my countdowns, I have:
4 days until my trip to New Haven!
58 days until I get the keys to my new place!

A friend gave me his old vacuum cleaner, saving me money. Grazie!

I ordered some things for my new apartment online during the 4th of July sales and now they're arriving. I still buy little things for my apartment bit by bit. Luckily this is my second apartment and I don't need much! If you haven't noticed, I'm excited!

I haven't deemed this worthy of my wishlist yet, but I like it:

Aren't they cute? I love owls. ...that they are symbols of wisdom. ...that they were my graduate school's mascot. ...and that they remind me of Italy. You see, the girl that I hung out with on my first trip to Italy loved owls, so we looked all over Venice for murano glass in the shape of the animal. I hope she found the perfect piece because I only remember her buying other forms-- pieces of glass wrapped candy and a dish, maybe cherries too? I started my collection obsession for the glassware then too.

I finished the book The Happiness Project. I highly recommend it! And I will most likely post my thoughts about it soon!

I'll try to save my next library book, Words in a French Life, for my five hour train rides to and from New Haven!

I love Princess Catherine's style, this dress included:

I gave myself a pedicure one day this past week with my newest OPI nail lacquer "You're a Pisa Work."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Countdown

Clock and Calendar in Piazza San Marco a Venezia

I love countdowns. While working as a furniture salesperson, I probably kept my coworkers updated on how many months, weeks and then days it was until I departed on my 2007 trip to Italy. After I returned, I'm sure I was looking forward to other events on my busy social calendar and counted down to those as well because a coworker once jokingly asked me how days it was until 'Wednesday.' The book I'm currently reading The Happiness Project supports my belief that anticipation for an occasion makes one happier.

So, there are:

8 days until I leave for my girlfriend getaway in New Haven, Connecticut!

2 months until I get the keys for my own apartment!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Necessities for My Next Apartment

I simply cannot wait to move into my own apartment! I get the keys on September 9th, which is just over two months away! I really can't wait!

I'm even excited to buy a vacuum cleaner for my place! (In fact, I've picked out this vacuum cleaner-- cheap, bagless, and red!) Although I am definitely more interested in decorative elements than cleaning supplies. I've had fun buying a few several things already, which I'd rather write about and post pictures of after I set up my space. So stay tuned!

On the Fourth of July, I was out to lunch and then on a spontaneous shopping spree with a friend and over our delicious pit beef sandwiches she mentioned that at my apartmentwarming party, I would receive gifts or gift cards towards those apartment wants and needs. Being so independent, it honestly never crossed my mind. Firstly, I want to throw the party because I want to entertain and that would be an excuse to do so. Secondly, I would want my closest friends to see my apartment and share my happiness. And anyway, I enjoy crossing things off a list. Or deleting them on my amazon wishlist in this case. It's something apartment-related that I can indulge in prior to the move. I wonder if I'll leave anything left on my list come September... Being on a budget, I very well might. I can see the metal bed I've desired for years remaining on there for awhile longer. If you know me personally, you're welcome to search for my list; it's under my name. You're not expected to buy me anything, as I said, it seriously didn't cross my mind before it was mentioned to me. If I do purchase everything but my bed, then if my attendees would like to give me something, they could give me something they think I might like, something that strikes them as so Michelle. I adore surprises and appreciate thoughtfulness. I truly lucked out in having some of the most thoughtful friends. Or they could give me a bottle of wine to help stock the nine spaces of my new sweet little wine cabinet!

It even has an Italian name!
A metal bed that's not overly swirly and girly.

I also feel very fortunate that a few family members have decided to help me pay for a sofa. With their generous donations, maybe I can afford the end tables that match my TV stand to go beside it. ...and possibly the coffee table too, although I do possess a badly constructed IKEA one that would go. Having sold furniture for nearly the entire year in 2007, I hope my former coworkers can help me out!

As a result of my improved financial situation, this apartment will reflect my personal style more than my first one. Back then, I was a poor grad student living on student loans and paychecks from a part-time retail gig and thus couldn't afford much. I didn't even have a sofa. Luckily, I bought the stuff I needed little by little for awhile before. To their credit, my parents did buy me a desk and TV stand just before I moved, from the collection I continue to purchase pieces from. I often imagine how my apartment will look fully furnished. Very Michelle.