7/2/15

Wild Horses at Chincoteague


In our most weekend trip, we ventured out to Chincoteague on a grey and rainy day. Despite the dull weather, it was a big moment for me to see the wild horses in the marshy grasslands of the island! I had read Misty of Chincoteague as a young girl and was captivated by the thought of wild horses living by the sea - so this was a considerable bucket list check! What's the big deal about wild horses? Legend has it that during the Age of Exploration, a Spanish ship containing horses from the Middle East was shipwrecked, and the horses were the only survivors. They made it to land and have survived for generations in Assateague and Chincoteague. I had wanted to see Assateague Island, but we underestimated the size of the wildlife reserves and the amount of time it would take us to venture north to see more wild ponies.

We were surprised by how quiet Chincoteague was, even on a June weekend. It has lots of wetlands, grassy thickets, and piers extending into the shallow bay. We happened upon some interesting and eclectic shops, produce stands, and an adorable cafe. I think the dreariness of the day made it more appealing in a way; rustic coastal towns have that certain charm during grey skies.

There is a NASA launching facility in the area around Chincoteague, and of course we toured. So a little bit of nature, a little bit of science. It was SUCH a fun day!  I'll leave you with this:


ciao! xo

6/29/15

summer eating + Being vegan


 Eating in the summer always seems easier! To make things more interesting, I've tried to incorporate a more vegan type of diet into my week - which you might think is contradictory from these photos (it is, for sure!). I don't think I could be vegan forever, or every day, but I've been doing it a week here and a week there and it has totally impressed me! I love the way I feel, which is the #1 reason I do it. The #1 reason I don't do it...is chicken! [and pasta! and dairy. they are my eternal weaknesses...]

But I do love the fruits and the in-season vegetables that are available, so I try to make the most of them. At least once a week, I have one of the following 'meals' in some shape or form. I love beginning the day with homemade acai bowls, topped with almonds and flax seed. I use this recipe here, and like it on the thicker side so I can actually make it into a bowl and use a spoon. Ground flax seed is my secret weapon, because it adds fiber and omega-3 vitamins. If I can't get my hands on fresh fruit for a smoothie, I like oatmeal.

I know its better to eat a bigger lunch that dinner, but one of my favorite lunches is thin-crust pizza from Jules Pizza (pictured). They have theeeeee best thin crust, hands down! I recently tried their vegan slices (not pictured) and it was pretty delicious. A few slices of Jules pizza is really good with a salad or soup, too. Speaking of soup, my new vegan favorite is Amy's black bean and vegetable soup with a dash of sriracha :)

Easily, one of the best things about summer eating is firing up the grill. Kebabs are a newfound favorite, partially because they're easy to make, but also because there's a lot of variety that can be involved - like making veggie kebabs, etc. I posted a dinner with them here and man, aren't they pretty on the table? Pictured on that dish above is pesto rotini (ahhh, be still my beating heart), sweet corn, and black rice (yes, black). The black rice tastes amazing when cooked in a vegetable stock, but it temporary makes my teeth black. I kind of look like a pirate. Yum, right?

happy summer eating! ciao! xo



6/27/15

all-american night


My blog! I've neglected you! I'll bore you with my reasons later, because I really want to get into this post - seriously, the perfect summer night! It felt so classically American; taking in baseball, amazing, cool weather, a spectacular sunrise, catching whiffs of sugary funnel cake. We're currently down in Maryland visiting my sister, and we're having the best time doing spontaneous and impromptu things...like showing up to a minor league baseball game to see the Bowie Baysox!

Turns out I kind of loved the game, which I wasn't expecting.  Our seats were amazing, and the best part was the really kind and generous people we met and shared the game with. My sister caught a ball at the end of the game, the Baysox won (new favorite thing to say: GOOOO Baysox!) and we got to chat with new acquaintances that brightened all of our days. There's something about the smell of freshly popped popcorn, hot dogs, and the brassy organ chimes of merry-go-rounds. The entire night felt low key and unkempt in a summery way, in a way, so I opted for a messy ponytail and a super comfortable outfit. Thanks to my sis for the borrowed vest! :)

This evening also marked the very last due date of my final grad assignment for the course I just finished - yess! 

I feel much freer, in a sense, and it feels like summer just unfolded. So many plans up in the air! I'll be spending a lot of my summer days in California with S, so I am really excited {follow along!}. We are hoping to make a few little trips out of the summer, but plans still need some shaping and organizing. I've been keeping super busy, so I am looking forward to the next few days without worrying about due dates and homework assignments. It's funny to be a student again, I secretly love it.

It's been a long day of car driving and baseball watching. Time to call it a night! :)

ciao, xo

6/8/15

montalcino & montepulciano


A lot of damage happens when I allow myself to re-read bits of Under the Tuscan Sun or this sleeper favorite of mine (which I think is much better!). Things happen. I have this sudden, fierce thirst for a bitter red wine. I remember certain smells, but mostly feelings. Feelings of anticipation. I go through old photos and relive every detail through my meticulously kept, leather bound journals. And that is exactly what happened here.

It was a hot July day and I had S with me in Italy. I had truthfully never felt the need to visit, as my heart and soul irrevocably belongs to Siena - but nevertheless, I was brimming with only the magical feeling of excitement that summertime in Italy conjures up. Seeing words on the map like Pienza, Val d'Orcia, Castellina in Chianti - they make my heart hurt, almost, I love those words so much.

Yellow hills and cypresses. Hot, dusty, summertime Tuscan air. Beginning in Montepulciano, a gem of a town: we toured an ancient and musty wine cellar, sampled the most crumbly delicious and piquant pecorino cheeses. The pairing of the supertuscans with this picante cheese...salty, bitter, dark, dry...just an oenophile's dream. I have a thing for Tuscan wines, particularly chianti. It is my all-time favorite, partially because it was my first. I am not a big white wine person, and it's very rare to find someone in Tuscany who disagrees with the idea that red is perfectly good in the summertime. And...non c'รจ bisogno di spendere tanto per bere bene. You don't need to spent a lot to drink well.

Sloping streets, walls doused in golden sun. The floor, the stones, the steps into shops and cafes all felt sacrosanct and ancient; the dirt on my feet felt holier than dirt. Aimless steps brought us to the vista over the Val d'Orcia. Even the valley, with soft hills older than time, seemed to stretch onward forever into green and blue oblivion. Each hill is a wrinkle in a face that's not afraid of aging. It's the most iconic of valleys, the one that you've seen before; in the morning the fog saunters in and stays low. It touches the bones of each cypress and leaves dew on the ochre bales of hay.

Time for pranzo (lunch!). We order light; pici pasta for two, with some acqua naturale. The shade feels good, but anything other than al fresco dining is ludicrous; but the we prefer somewhere sitting in the shade. The sun in July is strong yet easy to hide from, as the town is truly just a series of tall stony walls that cast a warm shadow. And as we leave, everything will be downhill and easy. Our feet will get dirtier. It reminds me of those summer days in Siena.

ciao! xo