Sunday, October 30, 2011

Very Merry

I figure since we had snowflakes falling from the sky (in October) yesterday, that the time of year for hot chocolate has arrived. I had my first cup at Panera this morning. I quite enjoyed it over the latest issue of Budget Travel, which has Venice on its cover. I've been there... This year. :)

Speaking of the winter season coming up, I love this...

"Eat, drink and be merry" is one of my favorite holiday quotes and themes! :) 

I also love fall, and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous fall weekend!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Wandering around Philadelphia

I visited my beloved city of Philadelphia yesterday with my friend J. I hit some of my favorite spots and J happily tagged along.

The LOVE Sculpture in LOVE Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Upon arriving, we fueled up at Au Bon Pain, conveniently located in the train station (30th Street Station). After getting off the subway in Center City and emerging next to City Hall, we walked through the tents and protest signs of the "Occupy Movement." J asked me what I thought about their ideology, but this is, honestly, the first time I've heard of it. Apparently I need to find out what's going on with this nationwide string of protests!

We headed to the shopping district along Walnut and Chestnut Streets, stopping into some of the stores. I bought my boss a cute little birthday gift at the beautiful boutique called Tselaine, which is on Walnut at 20th Street. In the neighborhood, we went back to the Italian market called Di Bruno Bros. for lunch. We dined upstairs in the cafe, which was first for me. My chicken cutlet club sandwich with Abbruzzo sauce on foccaccia was delicious.

Next, we walked down almost every aisle of the Reading Terminal Market, a huge indoor market. Obsessed with food, it's my favorite place in the city. So many temptations... Every stand has something interesting! Luckily, we went on a Monday and it wasn't absolutely crammed with people. We ate delicious ice cream from Bassett's which is one of the original stands. Recently celebrating their 150th anniversary, we sat on stools and paid some attention to a video documenting their long history. I also picked up cranberry/ pistachio and chocolate/ cherry biscotti from the Termini Bros stand. It is delicious as well. I have been looking forward to eating it with espresso for breakfast at home for awhile now. Even though they're very well done, I'm not sure if I can profess my undying love for biscotti... It's kind of like stale sweet bread. Nonetheless, it's nice to change it up. I also purchased a postcard for my penpal, making sure it had a Philadelphia postmark later.

The Reading Terminal Market
See Bassett's Ice Cream on the left.

We wandered down Market Street towards Old City, not absolutely sure what we'd find. We got to see the Liberty Bell ...though through the glass window since we deemed the lines were too long to enter the building. We stumbled across the historic Washington Square, which is a small park, its path studded with the informative plaques of a museum. Getting back to Center City, we killed some time walking down South Broad Street before hopping on the subway from there to head back to the train station. (Market and Broad are perpendicular to each other and are the major roads in town.)

We were only in Philly for less than eight hours and it felt like just enough, possibly bordering on just a bit too much as we were exhausted from walking around all day. It had been six months since my last visit, on the occasion of my birthday actually, and I was so happy to be back. I'm not over Philly and I can still barely afford travel, but it'll be nice to visit other cities. I'm ready now. :) In fact, J and I were talking about Boston, a city I've reallyreally wanted to visit for awhile now. This is farther away from home and so just wouldn't be a day trip. Maybe... I've been all around Boston but never to the city itself. Hopefully I can make it happen within the next year...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Apartment Home

My Apartment in Pictures


I hope you enjoy looking around.

My Bedroom

 My bedroom in charcoal gray, white and a pop of deep red.
The boxspring is simply covered in a queen-size fitted sheet.

 I love that photograph. I picked it up on South Street when I lived in Philadelphia. I put it over my kitchen sink in that apartment and have, unfortunately, splashed dirty dishwater on it. I put it in a frame right before moving into my current apartment.
I scored that throw pillow on etsy, bedbuggs.

I love the print on my duvet cover and shams, which are from West Elm.

 On my nightstand. The photograph can be found on the etsy shop for the amazing trekkerjen.
All my frames in the bedroom are black.

 One of my nightstands, Avington Collection,  Target.
I also have the chest topped with framed photos of me and friends.

A detail of my jewelry armoire, JC Penney. These panels remind me of rose windows of a duomo.

I love this modernized classic accent table from HomeGoods.

My Living Room

 That sofa is an absolute steal from Value City Furniture.
The end tables and cocktail table are again Avington Collection, Target.
The lamps are also from Target.
My Italian street art all hangs above the sofa.
The sofa is opposite a TV stand of the same collection. A old TV and several silver framed photos top it.

My throw pillows are, yet again, from Target.

My street art from Italia.

 Stacks of books on my coffee table shelf.

 Another stack. The top two were very thoughtful gifts.

On my cocktail table.

Detail of the knob of an end table.

My Kitchen
Cookbooks in the kitchen.

My Dining Room
I scored my dining table dirt cheap at Goodwill.
There's a haunted house currently on top for Halloween.

 That's a wrinkly old poster of Venezia that once adorned my college dorm walls.
I had it custom framed and matted.

 A closeup.

 My wine cabinet with wine glasses hanging.
(I need help filling the twelve spaces for wine!)
I have a large collection of so many types of glasses,
which pretty much fills up my linen closet.

My Desk Area

My desk area. The desk and file cabinet are Avington Collection.
I love my framed cork board leaning against the wall,
primarily filled with postcards from friends.
And that glass lamp, was on clearance
(and sold without its shade) from Target.
That chair is from Pier 1 Imports, cheap from when a location
was going out of business.
On it is a throw pillow with a cityscape on it, from Target.
I wouldn't mind replacing that bookshelf from IKEA.
As a person only owning what I love, I own around 100 books, which I try to impose as a limit.
Two whole cubes are full of Italy travel narratives.
I also have a small white ceramic owl from West Elm on my bookshelf,
among other little things I love.

 My Nina Garcia style books and a cute little lamp from Pier 1 on my EXPEDIT bookshelf.

Another shelf.
The white vase is cheap from Michael's. I love the white on the dark wood shelves.
And yeah... I'm travel-obsessed.

My very talented friend F made this for me and it hangs in my hallway.

My balcony which I love. I need to upgrade that furniture...
 ...and another one for good luck!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Daydream Believer

J's photo of a view out a window in Verona

I am a daydreamer down to the depths of my soul.

Of course I am very happy in my new apartment. It's a dream come true, and like I've said before I don't believe that I'll take it for granted.

...but right before I moved and since, I wondered what my next step would be. At first it was breaking into my field of choice, specifically some kind of position in a study abroad department on a college campus. Lately, I've been daydreaming what it would be like to spend most of my life living in Italy. I always said I'd live there again, of course, but for an undetermined amount of time. Perhaps a stay not requiring a visa would be just fine, under three months. I'm pretty sure I've rejected the short term idea.

I need to be surrounded by beauty. That I feel to be most beautiful. Like Italy's warm-colored buildings offering artisanal products on cobblestoned streets and piazzas. Maybe I've watched one too many episodes of House Hunters International lately! I envy the TV show participants, picking up to live overseas in a small, centrally-located apartment in, say, Europe or Scandivinavia, a lauchpad/ home base for travel all over a foreign continent. Of their preferences, they also often want something typical of the area and close to public transportation. I see kindred spirits in them. I also find little wrong with such small spaces. I definitely don't want to live in a big single family home with my own car parked out front. A small apartment or something like that in a city would fit me much better. In fact, I swim in my 681 square feet here, feeling very un-American.

Even though I loved my study abroad experience and overall it was positive, living in Italy is difficult at times, namely inconvenient and inefficient when directly compared to living in the US. Everyday tasks take longer. Plus, I have difficulty in speaking a foreign language. While studying it, I'm kind of a natural in writing a foreign language, spelling the words, but, alas, I'm pretty horrible at speaking without working it out on paper first. I suppose that's the whole thing about being an expat... It's a tradeoff. You just have to be in the place where you feel most happy, not entirely at home or fully comfortable in both beloved places. I feel so Italian here, but oh so American while living for any length of time there. Lately, I can see myself being happier there... Gelato is worth it, right? What comes as a bit of a shock to me is not how long I now want to stay but how much sooner I would feel that my time to be there will come. Possibly in my 30s? ...which only begin two and a half years away!

I always thought I work in my desired field of International Education in America, get married, keep the kind of American home I've always wanted too where I'd be the perfect hostess in entertaining before running off to Italy, a couple of decades away. Achieving those dreams first. ...but maybe all of those are not so crucial?? I'm not ready to put an action plan to settle in Italy in place yet, but should consider it much sooner than anticipated. Currently, I'm anchored by my debts, both of the credit card and student loan varieties. I would have to pay these off. As a moderate minimalist, I don't have so much stuff to sell off. I would definitely need to consider either a new higher-paying job or adding part-time work. I really don't have a good excuse for not having a second job. I think it might have to be retail! ...which I really wouldn't want to start that before Christmas or this winter. People suspect that since we've had a wet summer, that we will have a wet winter. I hate mixing that with retail. The news reporters urge people to stay inside during a snowstorm but the stores have to be open and you risk your life to get there, especially with that last mall I was employed in. Ugh...

Anyway, this is all something I've been thinking about lately, too much that I felt like I needed to get out!

Another House Hunters International episode just came on! Dublin, Ireland! :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Goals Before 30

Soon after I turned 25, I created a list of 25 items to achieve before turning 30. I decided to post about this today as I am now 27 1/2 and exactly halfway through.

25 Goals and Resolutions Made in my 25th Year to Achieve Before Age 30:

1. return to Italy  I visited Italy again during March 2011. Specifically Verona, Venice, Padua and Milan.

Il Duomo, Milano.

2. meet my Italian penpal B  I am happy to report that I met her in New York City on May 23, 2011.

3. purchase a Murano glass chandelier

4. visit Amsterdam

5. see Santorini

6. visit Prague

7. visit Paris

8. visit London

9. travel to Spain

10. toast a beer in Munich

11. visit Dublin

12. see the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

13. depart on a (significant) trip with just a handful of stuff- passport, a good book, only essentials

14. move out again in at least a one bedroom apartment with a balcony and be financially independent to do it  I moved into a one bedroom with a balcony on Labor Day Weekend 2011. I love it. Since I am a Leasing Consultant at the community, I have a discount on rent, so I can afford it, much earlier than anticipated.

15. be out of credit card debt

16. speak Italian fluently

17. throw a legendary party

18. be able to write and communicate with charm

19. bowl a turkey  I bowled a turkey one day when out with my mom and sister. (A "turkey" is three strikes in a row.)

20. be up-to-date on scrapbooking

21. become a better godmother to J

22. work in the International Education field, helping others change their lives

23. buy a metal bed

24. be a knockout in a red dress

25. marry the love of my life in a small ceremony (though I could totally wait even longer)

I know... half of them are travel-related ...but I love to travel. There are few things better than discovering a new place and personally experiencing its culture. And you'd better get used to it because I plan to be quite the world traveler in the next decades of my life. I hope to have a husband who wants the same. I plan to walk on the Great Wall of China, see the moai of Easter Island, wine and dine in Napa Valley, participate in a tea ceremony in Japan, marvel at the Moorish decoration of the Alhambra in Spain, and much more. My travel wishlist is going on four pages long single-spaced. I may post it on this blog...

Even though I created this list two and a half years ago, I still wouldn't change one thing. Although, I might add one more-- live in Philadelphia again. I'm all about places. And experiences.

In terms of my progress, geez, I'm not doing so great with this list so far! I've only accomplished 4 out of 25 items! Of course a trip across Europe would scratch many goals off my list. I'd even backpack. Maybe in celebration of my 30th birthday... Or better yet, I could study Italian at the Univeristy for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy in order to gain fluency and travel to see the cities on this list before, during and after. And then I'd have something else to add to my resume so I can score a job in International Education. See? I kinda have it all figured out. I just wonder where the thousands of dollars it would take to enroll for, say, six months and finance such a venture would come from... I'm certainly a daydreamer, but I like to think I work hard to achieve these dreams. So, we'll see. Stay posted!

Friday, October 14, 2011

*blog blooming*

I am well aware that I have not posted lately. I'm sorry. Mi dispiace. I really miss it and I truly want to regularly post again. Plus, I need to write in order to work some things out in my mind. I don't feel like I should even consider not going on just because I had a lazy blog month. It happens. Life happens. And I am confident that I can do way better. The thing is, I've been really busy lately and I've simply neglected a couple of things. I think I really build up so many tasks because I feel I have to make everything simply fabulous and absolutely perfect. In fact, it feels odd to be in my apartment alone since this very situation doesn't happen most nights of any week for the past five and a half weeks. It's nice when I do though, to catch up on my to do list and to simply enjoy my beloved apartment home. I'm still so happy with a place of my own. I also didn't have a stable internet connection until just a couple of weeks ago. Posting pictures over a "low" or "very low" connection takes forever!

I drafted a post that I scheduled for tomorrow, October 15th, a long time ago. I hope that you enjoy it and that it holds you over until I post about my dolce vita again.

I've been regularly showing off my apartment and cannot wait to share it with you guys here soon. We'll have sunshine on Sunday and I plan to take pictures of my place then. I'm off Sunday through Tuesday! I rarely have off two days in a row, let alone three! So, I will have plenty of free time to blog blog blog. Plus, no money to venture out, so it works out! No very few complaints about that; I love paying rent for my beautiful one bedroom. I don't think I'm going to take it for granted...

Before then, I'm looking forward to hostessing a *girls night in* tomorrow night! Just another day... you know. :)