Sunday, January 29, 2012

Style Sunday: Recent Purchases for the Home

I <3 HomeGoods and purchased three affordable items there on Friday night. A ribbed clear glass canister with a silver screw top will now store sugar. I will dress my dining room table for my next dinner party with the plain white 52 x 70 tablecloth I picked up. I actually didn't own a tablecloth before, only placemats. A clear blown-glass vase was my last purchase. I think it would be the perfect height and opening size for a small bouquet of flowers, so it would be very easy to arrange what's offered at the grocery store. I adore having fresh flowers in the home. I'll take a picture when it's full of flowers.

I also picked up a set of two medium-sized white jar candles from Target yesterday morning. I love white candles in a plain clear glass jar. The scent is something like Jasmine Bouquet which is just fine. These were really affordable; I love you, Target.

New White Candle from Target,
Lamp also from Target
and Quatrefoil Dish which was a Christmas gift from J
on top of one of my end tables from Target

Italian Sunday Dinner Party Preparation

The Italian Sunday dinner party I'm throwing is two weeks away, on Sunday, February 12th.

In preparation, I have invited three friends, purchased a plain white tablecloth for my dining room table, and designated my last $20 grocery store gift card (that I received at Christmas) to shopping for the event.

I have also created the following menu with assistance of my Italian penpal B:


Antipasti (Appetizers)
an Italian cheese (yet to be determined. Any suggestions?)
olive oil (the flavorful kind for dipping)

Primo Piatto (First Course)
Penne Pasta Primavera (Penne pasta with vegetables in tomato sauce, likely zucchini and red pepper.)

Secondo Piatto (Second Course)
roasted chicken with grape tomatoes and rosemary
olive-oil roasted gold potatoes

Contorni (Vegetables)
sauteed spinach with garlic

My Penne Pasta Primavera

Two of my guests are bringing a dessert, keeping with the Italian theme. And the other will be contributing a couple bottles of wine.

I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Style Sunday: My Style Statement

I read Style Statement: Live by your own design. by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte after Fiona of How To Be Chic wrote that she was reading it and working through its exercises here and here awhile ago.

This Style Statement is just two words describing your style. The first word captures 80% of your style, your foundation. The second term counting for 20% is your creative edge.

This book helps you figure your two-word Style Statement.

I love exploring identity and personality, so I am pleased to have another label. I am, afterall, an INFJ, the Myers-Briggs personality type that is further labeled "the author" (Please Understand Me: Character & Temperament Types by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates) and always appreciate the perfect words/ description. And now, without further ado, my two-word style statement is...

Sophisticated Passionate

I love the word "sophisticated." I was raised to be independent-minded (even though the lesson that nonconformity is okay took awhile to reach my core) and always wanted to be an adult. When I say I want to be and look "grown up," I mean I want to look always put together, polished, even effortlessly stylish. I also appreciate that care and thought goes into sophistication. I always say I am a student, to the core. I love to learn and am a hardworking, straight A student. I am always working to perfect so many things of mine. I am very willing to put in the effort. I strive to look and have my space reflect who I truly am and what I love. I do a good job of only keeping what I love and actually use. Sophisticated is reflecting good taste, yes, but, really, quintessentially my taste. And my taste tends towards the classic. Timeless, not trendy. I like that being sophisticated is very intentional. Not simply going through the motions. I truly believe life is what you make it and I desire to have a wonderful life. I want to full appreciate this life as well. I try my best to practice this values-based living. Practically, this intentional style is reflected in the fact that I never look like I fell out of bed. Instead, that I look like I put some effort in and look like me every single day. Even though spontaneity can be great, I prefer to have a plan. I'm all about planning. In addition, I find that a sophisticated individual has a broader worldview beyond their immediate location. Different cultural experiences enrich life and has transformed my life. Since sophisticated is a deep, complex style, this cultural component is evident in my style.

Synonyms for and what Sophisticated means to me:

adult, dignified, thoughtful, knowledgable, refined, defined, meaningful, significant, symbolic, deep, intentional, polished, poised, put together, takes care of oneself, clean lines, neat, organized, decluttered, tailored, structured, knows what flatters, classic, timeless, never goes out of style, anti-trend, tasteful, elegant, little black dress, dresses up for an occasion, old fashioned, old world, modernized, quality, rich, quiet, complex, custom-made, seemingly effortless, at ease, classy, formal, traditional, modest, legacy, signature style, respectful, well mannered, worldly, cultured, cosmopolitan, cultivated, experienced, seasoned, studied, expertise, precise, planner, punctual, consistent

My personal creative edge is the lively passionate.

Synonyms for and what Passionate means to me:

feeling, interested, bold, saturated, vibrant, jewel tones, sensual, enthusiastic, exciting, lively, vivacious, happy, bright, color, happy, aesthetic, beauty, loud, hungry

I loud this pairing of words. One is all about understated study and the other about lively interest.

I hope this translates into my style-- both my wardrobe and home design. I often wear neutrals including crisp white with a pop of saturated, bold color, like in a scarf from Italy or pair of earrings. I also often wear a suit to work. My current favorite work ensemble is a lavender and white striped shirt and a classic charcoal gray pant suit. I love the lavender and charcoal color combination. I hope my passion comes through in wearing and carrying accessories in the form of my beloved quatrefoil. I'll always wear earrings I love. Since I live up the stairs from where I work, I often slip on my black or pewter ballet flats even though I know it's too cold for them right now. After 9 to 5, my winter uniform is a v-neck shirt or sweater possibly over a camisole with dark blue bootcut jeans and skinny heeled black or brown boots. My black winter single-breasted trench coat and a bright scarf top this uniform when I venture outside. I also always carry my dark red handbag which is a structured tote (by Kenneth Cole New York).

The style of each of my rooms of my apartment home is also done in neutrals with pops of color, usually deep red since my favorite color, that particular shade of dark pink-- azalea, raspberry, more red/ pink than the purplish fuschia, is more difficult to find in home items. My neutrals cannot be blah either. I love crisp white, charcoal grey, chocolate or espresso brown, black, silver, pewter. I do own alittle bit of what you would call beige, but I prefer to call it cream! I also do not particularly care for pastels, but I'm currently trying to give a couple of them a shot, considering them a neutral and only when it's a fantastic color combination with a pop color.

My Bedroom

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Style Sunday: Wish List

I just purchased this clutch from etsy shop ModDotTextiles and off of my Amazon Wish List:

I can hardly wait until it arrives!

The remaining items of my Amazon Wish List:

St. Christopher is the patron saint of travel and the protector of travelers.
It would be nice to add this to my charm bracelet.
I love symbols from all the art I've studied over the years.

I've always wanted a carved wooden screen!

I've been wanting a metal bed for years. This one from Hillsdale Furniture is a contender.
I want the four shelf bookcase in this picture.
It's from the Avington Collection at Target, just like the majority of my furniture.
It will replace my very scratched Ikea Expedit one. It's an upgrade.

I am aware that this is a lot of furniture. I love furniture! It's such a "grown up" purchase and I've always wanted to be an independent adult. I actually sold furniture for a year after graduating college and even know good construction. Not that it's on this list, not for this home.

I'm unsure when I'll pick up something from this list again, especially since I am pretty poor at the moment and am actively saving for my birthday trip to Boston. I prefer to have a travel experience over a material possession.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Buon Appetito!

This is my pasta specialty that I have prepared for myself tonight:

Penne Pasta in Tomato Basil Sauce with Sauteed Zucchini and Red Pepper

...paired with a glass of red wine certo (of course).

I plan to purchase the whole grain pasta version for this dish next time. I have eaten this variety before and it's so much healthier!

I will create a dish like this for the primo piatto (first course) of my Italian Sunday Dinner next month. I love vegetables.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Style Sunday: Warm White for Winter

from Pottery Barn
I love all the warm white here, paired with the espresso wood finish.
Also love the chandelier!

I love to have fresh flowers in my home.
And these are beautiful.

Especially adore the chandelier here.

white with red wine

Kiki Vase from Crate & Barrel
small clear glass vase with lines of white dots
I have this sitting on my jewelry armoire.

I love these earrings of mine!
purchased on etsy
I wear mother-of-pearl earrings often.

I have the smaller owl on my bookshelf, among a few other white accents.

I purchased two of these from Crate & Barrel during Christmastime.
My dishes are plain white with a single line of raised dots around the edge.

cute, creative idea with pasta bows

elegant cupcakes

beautifully decorated cake
and I love chocolate

cappuccino in a classic white cup
It's very Italian to have it in a real cup, not a takeaway one.
I don't own a big white mug since I don't have a cappuccino maker,
but I do use tiny white cups and saucers when I brew espresso.
I also prefer my cappuccino dry-- more of a foam cap.

cup of hot chocolate
I had it today with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.

I'm considering purchasing this shower curtain.
Is it perfect?
My bathroom in Philadelphia had a peachy pink tile with chocolate brown tile trim,
so I bought towels to go and still use them.
A chocolate and vanilla bathroom here?? 

I still really want this clutch!
I love to carry a clutch for evening.

I wouldn't mind if we had snow this winter, as long as it isn't too much!
White falling from the sky, not sticking to the ground, would be nice.

Friday, January 6, 2012

*happy planning*

I am such a planner!

I am collaborating with my Italian penpal on my menu for the Italian Sunday dinner I will be hostessing next month because I want it to be fairly traditional. I will be serving antipasti (appetizers), a primo piatto (or first course of pasta) and a secondo piatto (small second course of a meat and vegetable or potato). With wine of course. Once decided, I will post the menu here. Grazie to B for helping me out so far! I can hardly wait for the day!

I have also decided how I would like to celebrate my all-important birthday in April. There's nothing like being out-of-town for the occasion ...and I have settled on Boston, a place I've been dying to visit for years. I've been all around it but never to the actual city. For budget reasons, I am only visiting for two days one night, a weekend, but, nonetheless, it should be fabulous. I'm flying up with one of my favorite travel buddies, J. My friend F, who I visited in New Haven last July, is meeting us there.

I have already devoured an entire guidebook! I really want to have a cappuccino and pastry in the very Italian part of town, along Hanover and Salem Streets in the North End, perhaps on my birthday morning. The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum will be another stop. The favorite place of this well-traveled patron of the arts was Venice. In fact, she designed her museum to resemble a Venetian palazzo. And art history was my major in college; I love a good art museum.

the planner's purchase

Since F is Irish, I suggested listening to live Irish music in a pub with her. This is something we enjoyed a couple of times in college. I love live music! I hope to do some kind of tour since this'll be my first time to the city. F teased me about the Duck tours and the guidebook author actually promoted it, so maybe I'll consider it... I believe I did one in the Wisconsin Dells fifteen years ago... Anyway, J would particularly enjoy a tour too. I really want to hear what F and J want to do before I plan anymore myself! I have been researching hotels for the past couple of days. I have also requested the Saturday off that weekend from work today. The office is closed on Sundays already. I hope to start setting some stuff in stone soon.

Does anyone have a must-see or must-do or must-eat in Boston for me?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Style Sunday: Chic Clutch

I love this clutch with this tile print.

Hopefully I'll make it mine and carry it for a happy hour or a night on the town soon.

Reflections on 2011 and Resolutions for 2012

2011 was a pretty fantastic year for me. ...and going into it, I didn't foresee that... I dedicated the year to working towards my goals and resolutions and I hoped that it would lead to new chapters in life in 2012. I thought this past year would be all work and little play. I didn't expect for a few fantastic things to happen already!

I knew that I was going to Italy at the end of 2010, and I will always cherish that little trip. I visited Verona, Venice, Padua and Milan for just a few days during the middle of March.

J's picture taken in Venice
When we were taking the vaporetto (water bus) back to the train station to leave, the sun finally came out and I got to see beautiful Venezia in the sunshine this year!

But I didn't know that I would manage to escape retail, move into a place of my own, finally meet my Italian penpal and finally hang out with my old college friend F.

I am happy working as a Leasing Consultant at an apartment community. Although, recently, my boss was promoted to another complex. I am sad to lose such a great boss and an excellent Property Manager, ...but she was always away saving other properties. One of them finally kept her and wouldn't give her back! In this change, I hope to have a boss that likes to stick with the property and will finally allow me to do what I was hired ten months ago to do, be Leasing Consultant, not run the property day-to-day and be the face of the community. I am truly excited for 2012 in this way.

I moved into my beautiful one bedroom with a balcony over Labor Day weekend and I can tell you that I love every single second of it. This apartment home makes me so happy. I love how it is set up and how it enables me to live my life how I want. I moved so early because the most perfect apartment in the community for me became available in September. Since I could finance it, I went ahead and signed up for an apartment at least four months earlier than planned.

My Living Room

I love to entertain here and have had two parties so far, an apartmentwarming and a holiday party. I am planning to hostess an Italian Sunday dinner the Sunday following the Superbowl (February 12th). I will try to make it as traditional as possible. This will be small since I only have a small table to seat attendees around. It should be fabulous and I'm already looking forward to it.

2011 has treated me well in so many other ways. I am very grateful. There are too many to list, so I invite you to take a look at my previous posts if you are curious! Life is what you make it and I tried to make wonderful things happen for me over the past 365 days.

I also wanted to take a moment to reflect on last year's resolutions.

Resolutions for 2011:

1. Significantly pay down my credit card debt. Even though I went from four credit cards to two, I still did not significantly decrease my debt as desired. I only cut out a lot of temptation to overspend.

2. Find a new job and escape retail. I left my job as a Store Manager of a name brand luggage store to be a Leasing Consultant at an apartment community in my hometown. My first day was March 7, 2011.

3. Pack my lunch the night before a workday. Even though I didn't manage to accomplish this, I did move upstairs from my office. I just go up to my apartment to prepare and eat lunch, ...if I have a coworker to cover the office. And I remember packing my lunch before I moved many a time.

4. Only possess what I love, want and use. I have truly decluttered my home including my closet and I love it!

5. Have a fabulous time on my little trip to Italy. I had such a great time! Grazie to J for helping me out on this one!

I wish I could have paid my debt down more, but, with these resolutions, I had a successful year.

My resolutions for 2012 are:

1. To diligently work towards the life I want. A friend recently told me that he's concerned that I will run off to Italy any day now. I told him not to worry; debt anchors me in America. If I didn't have any debt, I would be living in Italy right now. I need to pay down my credit card and student loan debt so I can afford such a venture. I need to relearn Italian for that too. In addition, I need to try to break into my career field of choice, International Education, and more specifically to work in a study abroad office on a college campus. I want to try to accomplish small things almost every day that will lead me in the direction of my dreams in the future. And for fun, I hope to visit Boston, maybe for my birthday...

2. To live a more chic life. I have always wanted to be grown up and sophisticated. And after falling in love with Italy and developing more Italian values, I want a passionate life too. I actually live fairly well and with intention now. For example, I keep my apartment home very clean and uncluttered. I keep my nice things nice. I also actively plan great activites. I lead a civilized, mannered life based on respect for myself and others. Plus, I strive to look presentable always and professional at the office. Furthermore, I pride myself on taking care of myself well, and that's very important to me. I want to work even more on this however. I am full of ideas right now since I am currently reading Jennifer L. Scott's Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living in Paris (which I highly recommend!). In particular, I hope to add more routine in my life. I think so much better after having eaten an actual breakfast and hope to rise earlier each morning to have one. Another example is to continue to focus on portion control, which is a struggle for me at every meal. I know I could elaborate much more here, but I plan to report my efforts towards a more chic life on this blog. Perhaps I'll update every day for a month on this very subject like Fiona did last September in her blog how to be chic... We'll see.

3. ...which leads me to my next resolution, to blog more frequently. Always having kept some sort of diary, I adore this blog and looked forward to it for a long time before I finally created it. As a woman of my word, I like that I will feel obligated to update more, especially about my lifestyle, and that this will help me keep my resolutions. I also hope to regularly post on the subject of style on Sundays soon, as promised. I hope you readers enjoy it as much as I do.

I had fun in my New Year's celebrations. I started off the New Year right this morning by reading my Christmas present to myself, Lessons from Madame Chic, while sipping a cup of hot chocolate. Again, I love this book. I had followed the series that inspired it on the author's blog, The Daily Connoisseur. Go on over to Amazon and order it now.

I wish everyone a fabulous new year! I hope that it's the best yet.

To a Happy New Year!

I had a good time on my day off this past week. One highlight was when I viewed the movie Midnight in Paris. I loved it! I highly recommend it as well. Having studied Art History, I delighted in seeing so many artists portrayed. I also treated myself to a professional pedicure, my second ever. My toes and feet look so nice. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I realize that I'm embracing routines that help me live well, but I couldn't make this a routine based on my budget. I want to live within my means. I'll have to paint my own toe nails with only sporadic salon visits.