Sunday, August 31, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: My Pasta Specialty for Lunch

I have written about my pasta specialty on this blog many times, but I do not believe that I have posted it as a simple pleasure. This dish is usually penne pasta, tomato sauce and sauteed vegetables. Making it about once a week, I look forward to the evening I prepare and enjoy it for dinner. Although, today, channeling my inner Italian, I made it for lunch instead. This midday meal is more important to the people of the Mediterranean culture, but my being American plus only having a half an hour for lunch five days a week, I tend to cook my big meal of the day for dinner. In a cooking mood this Sunday, I still plan on making an elaborate dinner tonight too.

The vegetables in this afternoon's version included a little red pepper, a lot of zucchini and spinach. The vegetable portion is larger than the amount of pasta, so I consider it one of my healthier meals. I snacked on some cheese while chopping vegetables. I paired my meal with some Chianti and water. It was delicious. I am glad I went through all the effort in making a hot meal for lunch. Plus, I have plenty of leftovers for lunches and dinners in the upcoming days.

While eating, I continued to read the book on my Kindle that I can hardly put down, an autobiography of Diane von Furstenberg, Diane: A Signature Life. I idolize her because of her wrap dress anyway, but her life is incredible and this book is a such a fun and inspiring read. I found out about this book in this blog post.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Buying School Supplies

Not that I am preparing to attend any classes, the student in me still desires fresh school supplies and new clothes in the late summer/early fall nonetheless.

It reminds me of the quote from You've Got Mail. Tom Hanks as Joe Fox narrated his email to Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly: "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

I love Kate Spade's aesthetic, so I signed up for her emails and liked her on facebook. Back on July 31st, there was an email featuring office items and I feel in love with this 17-month planner. I pictured it on my desk looking so chic.

...just how I imagined it...

After budgeting for the designer purchase, I finally ordered it on Amazon (since it was sold out on her website) and it arrived yesterday.

It is so nice. I love the bold black-and-white stripes.

Très chic.

Inside, there are fun phrases that mark each month. Plus, polka dots!

My planner at work is essential, but my smart phone has replaced an agenda and handwritten to do list for my life in recent years. I look forward to getting back to writing things down ...and checking them off. This beautiful book definitely satisfies my craving for school supplies.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Style Saturday: Edits to My Summer 2014 Capsule Wardrobe

Over the season, I have made minor additions and subtractions to my Summer 2014 Capsule Wardrobe which you may revisit here.

In addition to the jean shorts I bought for the summer in May, I saw this cute pair of shorts on Pinterest and then promptly ordered them online...

Sunkissed scallop-hem shorts

I adore a scalloped edge. I actually wore them one day to get a pedicure and have lunch with my mom, a dedicated shorts-wearer, several weeks ago. I styled it with a black scoop-neck tee and metallic flat sandals. They look great standing still, but the scallops tend to fold up while walking and especially while seated. I bought some spray starch to see if that might help. Because I added this new item, I took a pair of blue jean capris out of my closet in order to keep the numbers of my capsule wardrobe down. Since my legs are simply not my best feature, like I said I only wore these once and haven't worn those jean shorts yet this season.

Having wanted one for a long time, I finally purchased a black floppy hat for lounging on the beach or poolside. This was another online purchase that I truly lucked out on. The brim on this one from Kohl's is 4 1/2 inches wide. I felt fabulous in it during my beach day this summer. (Read about that day in this recent post.)

Note: Do not give a perfectionist access to a floppy hat and a mirror or camera.

Looking forward to putting together my Fall 2014 Capsule Wardrobe, I hope to publish the post on the first day of autumn on Tuesday, September 23, 2014. I'm currently assessing what I need and want as well as determining if I want to keep an overall theme or tone. I'm already taking further action as I bought two shirts which will be among my core items. In addition, recent purchases of extras include two tees, a handbag, and a pair of heels. Plus, I hope to budget for the purchase of this shirt (as another core item). I'm also dreaming about an investment item, a black cashmere crew-neck 3/4-sleeve cardigan, perfect for the fall...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Things To Do: Summer 2014 Edition Update: Pit Beef Sandwich

One of the items on this season's bucket list is to savor a pit beef sandwich. This is my favorite sandwich and I was craving it since I hadn't had one since last July, well... before last Sunday that is. A summery item; it is usually sold at carnivals and fairs as well as in beach towns. In fact, if you are vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland, I highly recommend Bull on the Beach. I didn't manage to attend any of those or make it to Ocean City this season. From conversations with friends who are not originally from this state, I understand that it is more of a local specialty. I suspect the beef is grilled over a pit of charcoal and then sliced thin and heaped onto a roll.

I persuaded my two girlfriends to have a pit beef or pit ham lunch at a local independently-owned restaurant where I had been before when it had a slightly different name. My sandwich was delicious!

The beef was plentiful as well as flavorful, smoky in taste. It really hit the spot! I'll have to patronize this restaurant more often!

My friends and I continued onto to more girly activities for the rest of the afternoon... shopping at an outlet mall and my favorite store, HomeGoods as well as indulging in wonderful chocolatey dessert from The Cheesecake Factory. Although it felt strange, it was nice to be in a mall and spend on myself. I picked up a couple of extras to my fall capsule wardrobe. Starting with that pit beef sandwich, it was a fantastic afternoon. My oldest friend who I dined with remembered that whenever we hit the local carnival over the years, that picking up a pit beef sandwich is my 'must do.'

I believe one should enjoy the little things in life, even if it is simply a sandwich.

zulily via Pinterest

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Things To Do: Summer 2014 Edition Update: A Perfect Beach Day

The Sunday before last, the guy I'm dating and I hit the beach.

We went to a nearby one on the Chesapeake Bay called Sandy Point. This stretch of clay-colored sand overlooks the Bay Bridge.

Picture from a past visit during July 2012.

I recommend it. Local, it takes a half an hour to get to, far quicker then the 3 1/2 hours to Ocean City, Maryland. The bay floor is rather flat, as are the waves, so it can be relaxing. Parking is ample. There are facilities like bathrooms and concessions plus picnic areas and even grills. Cleanliness could be improved upon, however, as I wish that the trash cans were emptied more often.

Nearly perfect weather for the beach, it was 85 and mostly sunny. Many other people had the same idea that day, so there was line to get in, groups of towels were only a few feet apart instead of several and you had to walk around families tossing beach balls around in the shallow water to go into the deeper part. It was far less crowded when you were standing chest-deep in the water.

I wore my little black bikini like I did last August. (You may read about that debut experience here.) Unlike last year, I didn't keep my head down this time. I was far more comfortable in my skin when compared with this time last year. Even with a date! Increasingly  confident, being in your 30s is a beautiful thing. Anyway, I have a plain black cotton empire-waist spaghetti-strap dress that I used as a coverup. When my suit was wet, my other coverup is this blue sarong that I've had forever with a huge wave printed on it. The image reminds me of The Great Wave, one of Hokusai's 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. I felt glamorous in a big black floppy sun hat too. I sported sunglasses too, of course. My black flip flops with white polka dots (that I recently bought as shower shoes for my April trip to Paris) finished off my look. I packed my stuff along with a new beach towel (since I didn't own one before) in my classic red-trimmed LL Bean tote.

It was nice to have the sun warm my skin. We stayed about four hours and that's a long day at the beach for me. In that time, I even managed to get a little color, visible tan lines anyway. I did simply lay down and relax, but at other times, I read a book and a magazine, Real Simple, which is a rare treat for me nowadays. Just before the trip, we picked up a sub and each ate half for lunch there. The two of us went in the water to cool off a couple of times. It was nice, having him hold me most of the time, me floating and flirting.

It was his first time there and he kept thanking me for coming up with the idea. I can now check it off my personal summer bucket list. Summer simply wouldn't feel complete without an afternoon spent at the pool or beach. It truly was a perfect beach day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Le No Makeup Look

Jennifer, blogger at The Daily Connoisseur and author of Lessons from Madame Chic, promotes the idea of "le no makeup look" and just posted a video on the topic, sharing her "Everyday Makeup Routine" which I invite you to check out here. This method of only applying what you need to enhance your features is my 'go to' everyday. The idea is to look radiant, as if one is not wearing any makeup. Since I live alone and have ample time to get ready each morning, I rarely stray from it. In fact, experimenting with a new dramatic eye makeup look is a summer goal of mine as I do need to branch out and have some fun.

Jennifer preaches to "look presentable always" and I too believe in consistently trying to look your best,  fare la bella figura (literally "to make a beautiful figure" which Italians embrace to look so good). Practicing an easy makeup regime that makes one look and feel polished and pretty is important.

My inspiration for this post asked for selfies of this specific look along with #lenomakeuplook

May I present my contribution...

Everyday Makeup. Unedited Photo.

This natural look is accomplished on a budget with a little of each of the following products. All but two of them can be picked up at Target.

Aveeno positively radiant daily moisturizer with sunscreen

e.l.f. Mineral Face Primer

L'Oreal Paris true match super-blendable makeup foundation, neutral foundation in classic ivory

Revlon Photoready Concealer in Light

CoverGirl clean normal skin pressed powder in classic ivory

CoverGirl classic color blush in rose silk

e.l.f. Healthy Glow Bronzer in Sun Kissed

CoverGirl Eyeshadow in French Vanilla*

Urban Decay NAKED 2 palette light brown eyeshadow in SUSPECT**

CoverGirl clump crusher by lashblast water resistant mascara in very black (after using eyelash curler by Revlon)

Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey*** or Maybelline SHINEsensational lip gloss in Watermelon Punch

* I blend just a touch of this shimmery cream color under the arches of my eyebrows, around the inner corners of my eyes and a line along the tops of my cheekbones for highlight.

** I use this on my lids only.

*** Pictured.

Done fairly quickly, all of this takes a matter of minutes.

I will probably try to find a product that will define my eyebrows in the future. Suggestions welcome!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Simple Pleasure Sunday: Sunflowers and Chiuso per Ferie

I love having a bouquet of sunflowers in my home during the summer. In addition to being a celebration of the season, they're such a happy flower. Of course, they make me think of fields of sunflowers in Tuscany.

Wanting them for weeks, I finally bought a bunch of small blooms at a farm stand last Monday. I love them!

Here's how I arranged them on my dining room table...

"The sunflower is a glorious, robust, dignified, I-am-what I-am sort of flower." Henry Mitchell

Italiagal: Chiuso per Ferie ("Closed for the holidays")

Italians tend to take the month of August off and I will be taking a blogging break. (Learn more about this tradition here.) Unsure of when I will return, it could be after the Italian holiday of Ferragosto on August 15th (which you can read about here) or perhaps during the last couple days of August. I won't be running to the seashore in this spare time, just embracing the laziness of summer. I also need to be productive as I want to get back into the habit of frequently applying for jobs in Philadelphia. Distracted, I had been very busy at my high season at work as well as quite social with friends and family over the past couple of weeks. In addition, for the last month, I have been dating a wonderful man. Anyway, taking a couple of items off my to do list each week will be beneficial. Have a fabulous summer! I hope you'll come back for reports of my summer fun to do list items later this month and around Labor day weekend.