Monday, August 27, 2012

Style Sunday: Fashionably Late

I'm sorry that I didn't post this on Sunday! Mi dispiace! Last week was a rough one for me... With having a cold, then severe back pain, then dealing with the side effects of the prescribed muscle relaxer, and then starting to work at a part-time job, I am so glad that it is behind me! Anyway, I hope that I am forgiven and without further ado, here's this week's entry on style.

I recently purchased this large round wooden cutting board from HomeGoods...

Handcrafted in Italy!

Instead of using it to cut food on, I plan to use it as serveware for antipasti. To serve proscuitto, salami, cheese, vegetables and other appetizers. Something like this...

I'd been wanting a round one because it reminded me of my farewell dinner in my study abroad town of Pescara back at the end of May in 2005. My two German roommates and I dined on the cobblestone street of Corso Manthone, which is a part of the older part of town called Pescara Vecchia (literally "Old Pescara"). I remember so many different offerings served on a large round cutting board, like... stuffed vegetables, proscuitto, cheese, that kind of thing. We followed that with a local specialty, arrosticini, which are small cubes of marinated lamb on skewers. We also enjoyed sides of potatoes and spinach. Of course, there was red wine as well as the local digestivo at the end, which I remember as strong and dark red. Everything was delicious. Now with my latest purchase, I get to try and recreate a bit of my Italy at home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ups and Downs Monday and Tuesday

I did my laundry at my parents' place as usual on Sunday morning and caught a cold from my family, suffering through it myself on Monday. (Although, I do have a tissue in my hand as I type this Tuesday evening.) Luckily, I was off, from both jobs, as I just started at my part-time gig on Sunday. Waking up on Tuesday, my first thought was that I felt better, and then... I moved. Oh the pain! I somehow threw my back out. Every time I moved and it involved a muscle in my lower back, I felt severe pain. I took some generic reliever that my parents have given me after I had oral surgery just after 6 AM. Without the bottle, I waited a bit to call them to ask when I could take another dose. I am so grateful to my mom who came over twice today. First, to deliver more pain reliever and tissues since I was running low, to make me some breakfast, to make sure I was comfortable and to pick up things I had dropped on the floor since I was pretty much unable! Then, to have a fast food lunch (which is a rare thing anymore) with me. ...and apparently to stock my bare cabinets and fridge with food from her overflowing ones. I called out sick from work and gave my boss at my part-time job a head's up since the plan was that I was to help with a shipment of luggage Wednesday night. All my other coworkers there just quit with little or no notice, so I felt bad for my new employer. Fortunately, she is hiring someone already. Anyway, I did feel a bit better within the first hour of my first dose and then even better, yet not back to normal, after I woke up from a nap at 4. I hope I can work both jobs tomorrow! If not, I will be at the doctor's.

I try to look on the bright side of things. Here are the little things that made me happy over these past two trying days... Out to pick up some more cold medicine Monday morning, I also treated myself to Panera, a cappuccino and chocolate pastry. As this is becoming more and more infrequent, usually I sit in their cafe sipping from a real mug and read a book, making it a nice experience, but this time, I got it to go, back to the comfort of my apartment. (With Panera one day and Hardees the next, I feel like I need more vegetables!) I also read a book pretty much over the last two days, An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser. It was good... part novel about an affair, part travel narrative about all the places in the world where they rendezvous-ed. I thought it odd that it was written in the second person though... Not a big TV viewer, I did enjoy an episode of House Hunters International set in Bologna, Italy. I wouldn't mind living in this college town lined with porticoes made for strolling myself... Here's a four minute clip of it: Hitting the Books In Italy.

...although I borrowed it from my library.

*** Update: I woke up alittle after 5 AM on this Wednesday morning and almost completely blacked out from the pain. My mom drove me to the Patient First as soon as it opened at 8 AM. The doctor diagnosed lower back pain, ruling out other issues with x-rays and tests. I was prescribed a muscle relaxer, so I am really looking forward to being without pain, however I move. I have called out of my full-time job again today and will return to work tomorrow. I still have to call out of work at my part-time job. I hate calling out, not being the reliable one. ...but your health should come first. 

Thank you so much for the 'get well soon' messages!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Style Sunday: Bangles + Bracelets

These are pretty...

 I love bangles, even more when they look like silver and diamonds.

I would love to have one of these to add just a bit of sparkle to an outfit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15 + 16

August 15th is Ferragosto, a bank holiday in Italy. ...that's if your workplace isn't shut down for the entire month of August! Emperor Augustus declared this month a celebration back in ancient times. Italians go to the sea for a long vacation. Can you imagine? Anyway, this day is used to celebrate summer, but it also a feast day for the Assumption of the Virgin, the day her soul ascended into heaven. I highly recommend the Italy-related blogs on my blogroll. Many of these bloggers currently living in Italy wrote a post about this special day. Go and see how it is celebrated. And Buon Ferragosto!

After work, I personally celebrated with a couple glasses of red wine, Bolla brand Chianti which is my go to cheap Italian red, with a nice dinner. I made myself a shake 'n bake pork chop with those Tuscan gold potatoes I love. You boil them first then roast them in olive oil and freshly-ground black pepper. They come out fluffy on the inside yet crunchy on the outside. Delicious. Squisito. I thoroughly enjoyed them. Additionally, I will take a week-long vacation in September, after my busy season.

August 15, 2012 would also be the 100th birthday of Julia Child. I love her for her joy for food, for France and for life. Another biography on her was recently released and I hope to get my hands on a copy soon. Happy Birthday Julia!

August 16, 2012 means that this beloved blog of mine is two years old. I want to sincerely thank all of my readers. Grazie. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! I started this blog to write about the little things in life I love, in order to appreciate them, and maybe inspire others to do the same. Definitely with an Italian slant since I love all things Italian. Italians seem to elevate everything, even the ordinary, to a superlative. Even though I am pleased with the way this blog is turning out, I hope I make posting more often a habit nonetheless. I also need to take more pictures, on a regular basis, in order to enrich these posts.

Anyway, it all started here with my first post.

Here's to another year!

I love photos of glasses clinking in a toast, in order to celebrate. "Cheers" in Italian is "Cin cin" (the sound of clinking glasses) or "Salute" ("Health"). 

Here is my favorite image using wine glasses...

I love the TV show How I Met Your Mother...

Here's one with champagne...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Links I Love: P is for Perfect

...or Perfetto!

Pintuck Duvet and Shams

Pizza in Naples

Perfectly Packed: the essential checklist

Summer Nights in the Piazze

*I make these often and plan to this week.
I peel and cut the potatoes prior to boiling. 
The recipe I reference is in the book "Big Night In" by Domenica Marchetti

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Style Sunday: Shopping Spree!

Maryland's Tax-Free Shopping Week starts today. One is not charged the 6% sales tax on clothing and footwear priced under $100. For this event, I budgeted funds for some much-needed clothing and accessories, more than half these items were basics. Not used to spending money on these things anymore, I was excited to indulge in a shopping spree.

On Friday night, I bought a couple of online exclusives, including a three-quarters sleeve top in my favorite color, a deep pink, from Target. I think I blogged about this item so long ago! I hope it fits!

After that, I ordered a pair of ballet flats from Nine West. I love a cap toe, very Coco Chanel. I hope that they're cute in person! Again, I've been wanting them for such a long while!

I continued my shopping in stores on Sunday. First, I picked up the classic white shirt from New York & Company that I posted about before. Finally trying it on, I liked the fit. I will get a lot of use out of this.

Next, I bought a bottle of Redken Smooth Down Heat Glide. This product helps to protect my hair from heat styling and to tame frizz. I've been buying this for years.

At Victoria's Secret, I bought another basic.

Then, it was a plain white camisole from the Ann Taylor Loft Outlet. This new one replaces two dingy ones. As a layering piece, I wear it under a shirt or a thin tee.

After that, I purchased a 2-pack of scoopneck t-shirts under the L.O.G.G. brand at H&M. One is white because I love a plain white tee and it replaces my very worn one. I try my best not to wear anything past its prime. The other is navy, inspired by my style icon Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, who seems to sport this particular shade of blue often. I usually do not wear navy, but will give it a try. It looked nice in the fitting room.

Not only are these primarily basics, they are also to wear during autumn. I am so ready for fall and its clothing... for scarves, blazers, tees, three-quarters sleeve tops, jeans, cute ballet flats,...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Things To Do: Summer 2012 Edition: Update and Books

In this Memorial Day weekend post, I posted a list entitled "Things To Do: Summer Edition."

Here's my list with the ones I have completed and already wrote about crossed off:

1. savor red red tomatoes selected at a farmer's market
2. sip margaritas on my balcony with my girlfriends visiting during the middle of July
3. have a perfect beach or pool day
4. go out of town (even if just for the day or an evening, even if just to Annapolis or Baltimore)
5. go for a snowball with friends

6. have a professional pedicure and then show it off in strappy sandals
7. become a bookworm--read a book a week
8. attend as many cookouts as possible--thoroughly enjoy summer food while dining alfresco
9. create a pasta salad to be a signature of mine
10. throw a fun and fabulous party
11. get just a bit of a tan
12. totally rock big Italian-style sunglasses
13. make a cork candle holder-- collect the corks needed by Labor Day and the end of summer

As you can see, despite a limited budget and it being my busy season at work, I have made the most of this summer anyway. Life is about thoroughly enjoying the little things.

I feel like I can cross this one off my list too...

7. become a bookworm--read a book a week

I wrote that I was starting "Un Amico Italiano: Eat, Pray, Love in Rome" by Luca Spaghetti in a previous post. I laughed the whole way through. He is truly an over-the-top Roman. Read it and let him captivate you.

I just finished "The Last Time I Saw Paris" by Elizabeth Adler and loved it! This novel was half romance half French travel narrative. It became a book I couldn't put down. I simply picked this up off the shelf at my local library. In looking at her other, similar titles on Amazon, it seems I might enjoy her other work...

I have another novel, another plucked off a library shelf, on my nightstand which I will probably read while waiting for the recently released book that I have in my queue, "Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" by Bob Spitz. I had heard about this book from this post from the blog The Simply Luxurious Life. My hold is the 16th request, so I hope that my turn comes soon! This blogger, Shannon, also recommended "The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris" by David McCullough which I might check out from my local library... It reminds me of a book I read during the middle of July "Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis" by Alice Kaplan, who I had read before. This is a scholarly work that is fascinating, sure, but is simply not light summer reading. I should have saved this for later. I found out about it from the international education listserv I subscribe too. I also half read half skimmed a Coco Chanel biography, but found it too dense as well.

When I first created the to do list, I posted this image:

As "Paris in Love" by Eloisa James debuted this April, I likely checked it out after it finally becoming my turn in the queue by Memorial Day weekend. I loved it. This is actually a collection of small essays developed by Facebook wall posts and tweets. It's fun.

That's a lot of French reading for the italiagal! Now, I must visit France! Anyway, I actually have a couple of Italian travel narratives on my wishlist. Maybe I can work one of them into my budget before summer ends...

I read a lot more than this over the summer, but do not recall the titles at the moment. Often reading before going to sleep and during the afternoon of a day off, it's been a wonderfully book-filled summer. I do remember that I browsed through a couple of books on home decor as well.

Do you have any recommendations for me?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Style Sunday: White Button Down

This is the Empire Seam Button-Front Shirt in Optic White

This particular shirt does have a lot of seams, but I did see it in person and still think it's the best choice to add to my wardrobe for its low cost. I prefer feminine tailoring over a loose look anyway. I have yet to try it on however.

I love a classic white shirt. I've previously posted about this love, noting its great versatility, and my criteria for one, including my preference for three-quarter length sleeves like this one, back in this post.

Some sort of dressy white top happens to be a part of the dress code at my new part-time job. Plus, I would dress this particular shirt up or down and wear it outside of work. So, I'll have to pick up one or two, possibly during Maryland's Tax-Free Shopping Week which is August 12th through the 18th, conveniently following my payday on the 10th. Marylanders can save the 6% sales tax on any piece of clothing or footwear priced under $100. I look forward to buying new clothes, however few within my minuscule budget, for the fall. Back in the day, before school started, I had always gone on a shopping spree sometime during August. ...happiness. I love to shop.