the instagrams that never were

All too often I'll screenshot a photo I love and just see what it would look like with an instagram filter...
from the top...strolling in the street in the early fall || overlooking an italian courtyard
|| some lovely french riviera fleurs || a glimmery goofy shot of S and I 
|| my favorite wax seal from montepulciano || a delectable, decadent cheese plate from talulah's garden || one of my favorite canal-side restaurants || another halloween shot from the weekend

Lately life has been so busy that these are the only snapshots of daily happy that I have!
I wish I had time to break out the camera - which really is my favorite - but every weekend is booked up, every minute is accounted for.
not to mention everyday...
so consequently...as you may have noticed, blogging isn't a #1 top priority for me at the moment.
career! work work work! job! of course.
sometimes its hard for me to even picture what summer life was life, or what italy felt like, or that simple moment I marveled at those french flowers.
was that even me!? how could it have been? life just got so...hectic.

I keep in tune with that little sliver of me through my pictures, my friends, planning fun adventures.
even the little things.
i have a bunch of things and little events here and there to look forward to, and that is keeping me happy. :)

ah, thoughts...there i go again!
ciao, xo


halloweenie party

 this year I was lady mary from downton abbey! :)

I type this with a bowl of Halloween candy in front of me, and it's the most tempting thing ever.  I already took a little bag of peanut M&Ms, but that is absolutely it. I had enough sugary treats and halloween-themed goodies over the weekend at our annual halloween party - and it was a blast. I was Lady Mary Crawley from Downton Abbey, and I do have to say, the costume was a hit! $12 on gloves, and that was it. the rest, I owned!

It was a festive weekend, with lots of oranges and yellow hues in the leaves outside; weather that actually required some sort of coat, and plenty of pumpkin-everything to be had. Georgia and Scout even dressed up to add to the mood :)

Highlights from the weekend...
+ a crisp morning walk in the park along a hidden creek
+ eating rice krispies for breakfast on sunday morning (oops)
+ both S and I working late into  friday yet meeting for a quick, much needed dinner date
+ starbucks hot chocolate
+ wearing my grey wool cape (!!!) for cooler weather
+ having a bonfire, sharing spooky classics like Poe and Doyle, our tradition

have a happy week! can you BELIEVE that this week, it will be november?
ciao, xo


delights of fall

Every morning I wake up at 5:17 (yes, 5:17) am and curse the fact that it is 5:17am. I absolutely hate those first few minutes, lamenting the long day ahead, and desperately wishing to plop back down in my feathery soft pillows and warm blankets. The first step out the door is chilly and cold and I clutch to my fleece Columbia jacket - so unfashionable and baggy - dreading the cold. It's my least favorite part of the day.

But then as I wake up on my drive to work, I see the sun come up and I see the leaves turning golden red. It's a beautiful sight. The sky sometimes is lit up in beautiful shades of lilac and goldenrod, and against the shadows of the trees it's quite breathtaking. The country drive I make every day seems to get beautiful as each day passes. I know I often forget how beautiful the fall is, because I am dreading the cold and long winter - but this time of year truly is remarkable.

I love walking outside at night - any given night - and smelling embers of a bonfire.
The advertisements for pumpkin-flavored anything.
The ominous look of a foggy, wet sunday morning.
The buds of mums and the golden tips of dried up cornstalks.
Bumpy, ugly pumpkins with coiled stems and dirt all over.

What do you love about fall? October? this very day?

ciao, xo


things i've learned...

july 2013

I know I'm not even half way through my (third!?) decade of life...but sometimes I sit and think about the wonderful, not so wonderful, and very important things that life and people have taught me. This post is kind of a blend of what my twenties have taught me and what others have taught me. Sometimes I wonder just why a certain person comes into my life - sometimes I want it to be for a certain reason, and my expectations get the better of me. I tend to idealize people, in a certain context or memory. Perhaps these people that come and go are meant to teach a quick lesson in...well, just life.

1. Just work hard. mind your own business, and be proud of what you do. simple as that.
2. All nice things come to an end.
3. Being friendly really is better.
4. Be selfish. it's okay to splurge on the $4 coffee sometimes. it's okay to take a break. 
5. Honor those before you. Venerate and celebrate your ancestors. Let them live through you.
6. Be adventurous. Be spontaneous.
7. Sometimes nothing beats a good story.
8. "Be the water, not the rock." let it flow. never push.
9. Be relatable. What's the use in being unapproachable?
10. Be simple. Be happy. also: be goofy.
11. Life is easy, and sometimes we make it hard. i tend to overcomplicate sometimes. living simply can be so hard when we think too much!
12. You can't kick every little pebble that you come across on the street. a quote from my great grandmother. if you kick every little pebble in the road, you'll scuff up your shoes ;) and get tired of all the kicking. let it goooo.
13. Travel is a necessary extravagance.
14. Never burn bridges. you never know when you will cross paths again - you have to assume you will. life is odd that way.
15. Trust your gut feeling. It's usually right.
16. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. that's a quote my grandfather used to say...and I think it is true. The jury's still out on that one.

What do you think? Anything in particular resonate with you?
Life is full of so many questions for me right now. It's nice to revisit these little axioms once in a while :)

ciao, xo


some beauty truths.

My beauty picks are quite a variety this time around...ranging from drug store buys, to hand-me-downs, to freebies or the occasional splurge. Like...I'm pretty sure at one point or another I gave that Burberry perfume to my mom...

Makeup is an instinctual thing. You have to know what works for you, and a lot of that comes with trial and error. I am fortunate that my mom and I allow each other to "borrow" makeup and try new things. I also fortunate that my grandmother formerly worked at Estee Lauder and gave me so many countless tips. I am lucky that I've been able to find brands and products that work for me. I might sound like I know what I am talking about, but I break a lot of rules when it comes to makeups. Like, how you're supposed to clean your brushes and throw out products that are over a year old? Psh! I don't do that. But I do look for products that are long-lasting and have worked for me over the years. I may or may not still have same Bare Escentuals bronzer from junior year in college...and re-buy the same NARS Lipgloss every single time I am looking for a new tube.

As for the pricier products...some of them are gifts, but some are also splurges. I tend to make a splurge on moisturizers and foundations. One of my favorite current items is the Loreal BB cream, which is under $10 at the drugstore. The Dior Bronze Auto Bronzant is a pricier pick, but it's worth the cost for an every-once-in-a-while, high luxe look. The perfumes are gifts...somehow, I find it hard to buy perfume for myself.

Oh! And Julep is my latest discovery. I received it in a RTR freebie, and it has been my go-to nail polish since. I love the texture and the sleek bottle. The shades are fantastic. I'd check out the perks of becoming a Julep Maven... ;) it's like a birchbox, for nails! This is the shade I want next...

ciao ciao! xo


spontaneous in oh so many ways.

as a kid, i used to horseback ride every weekend in the summer. i LOVED it.
"my" horse - not mine at all, but the one I rode - was named Oscar.
Oscar ignited my imagination. he was a "wild mustang from the west," I had been told.
His neck was branded with tattooed numbers and symbols...he looked like he was out of a movie.
His spirit was feisty and all wild-mustang, too.

Oscar is still around locally, but it's been years.
In college I joined the equestrian team for a hot second.
I love horseback riding...but my experience isn't that strong. I'm not cut out for the competitions, but I like the easy sway that comes with riding a horse.
I always see people riding through the park, and this time of year, it looks absolutely magical.

So this weekend I decided to be spontaneous. I called up a farm and inquired about riding through the park.
Easy peasy! almost too easy.
So S and I went to the farm...paid for our horses...and hopped right on.
It was a beautiful day for the changing leaves, covered bridges, and a slight fog in the clouds.
The trails we walked through were covered with leaves.
The forest was silent except for the crunch of leaves under our horses' hooves.
The ground was completely covered by beautiful hues of orange, red and brown.

That is until my horse tripped...and in a super fast blur, my head hit his. 
Bloody lip, swelling, busted up jaw, and confusion everywhere.
So now I type this, with a nasty cut-up, fat lip. I look pretty scary.
I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be eating whole foods for a few days.
(last night I may have overdid it on the wine and cheese thing...what!?)
I sort of wish I was not in this situation...but...
at least I was doing something epic.

here's to spontaneity...never knowing what to expect...in oh so many ways! boom!
(and on a serious note, pray for me that i don't need stitches. it's not looking so hot).

ciao, xo


my must-haves for autumn

just a few things on my radar...

lately I am obsessed and a little bit intimidated by j.crew, madewell, anthropologie & bananarepublic.
as a working (and saving!) girl, I can't be spending everything I make here...but I easily could...
one thing I know I need is a watch, and the Kate Spade metro watch is looking like the one.
But I am not sure...I want a watch that lasts and looks good. 

Secondly, I can't stop picturing these boots on my feet. The Tasmin bootie from BR is probably my ideal boot. I'm thinking...black :)

what's on your must-haves list?!


searching for bronzer

So...I did something stupid the other day.
I was going out and and put my favorite tube of red lipstick in my bag.
Harmless, right?
Then I had the brilliant idea to put my bronzer in my bag.
In under five minutes, it shattered everywhere...turning my leather clutch a nice orange, powdery hue.

So now I am obviously in need of a new bronzer. (and a new clutch).
Which is okay, because I needed one.
I previously used sorme as a bronzer, and loved it. But I think I need something a little multidimensional.
The above picks are probbbbbably what I am leaning towards...but I don't know yet!
The Guerlain goes for up to $75...can I justify that? Bronzer for $75?
and will the smashbox be too shimmery?
I don't want to be an oompa-loompa, but a nice glow with flecks of pinks and browns would be nice. :)

any tips? picks? recommendations? spill it!

ciao! xo


the coffee diaries | gryphon

Simply put, Gryphon is a treasure.

I immediately regret the fact that I didn't have my camera, but these pictures (although instagrammy) capture some of the charm of this perfectly situated cafe. Everything from the lovely handpainted pottery to the big airy space is enchanting; it's a well-established and well taken care of little nook with a friendly (and talented!) crew behind the counter. Paired with a chocolate crossiant, this latte took me right back to Europe. Oh, how I'd love to live in walking distance to a place like this. I would spend every weekend morning here.

My latte was made with lots of love and care - perfect foam, perfect size. You know you're in a good place when your latte is carefully handed off to you at your table, topped with a pretty leaf; that 's when you know it was poured with a little TLC. :) My friend got a skim hot chocolate and it was equally as delectable; so rich. I think I'm looking at a new coffee love.

Gryphon Cafè
105 west lancaster ave.
wayne, pa



scenes from my weekend.

This weekend was a little bit of everything, everywhere. It was a chilly, grey, quintessentially "fall" weekend. Adventures into the city at night, new treats from Anthropologie and a brand new cafè find whilst visiting my best friend's new apartment -  all things I love. The clouds put me in the mood for jeans, lattes, bowls of soup, and hunkering down with a good book (or in my case, lesson plans). As usual the the weekend ends with drafting of lesson plans, which is a bit mundane and makes me reminisce back again for Friday night -- but as always, there's next weekend to look forward to.  I love little snippets of the city like this...and also little joys of country living like slow sunday mornings and finding hot apple cider donuts in a box on the kitchen counter... :)

ciao! xo


long beach island in october

from a beautiful long weekend in october '12

One year ago we packed our weekend bags (reeaaally light, too) for a quick beachside getaway during the off-season. October at the beach is such a delight; one of my favorite times to really soak in all that I love about the beach. The screeching seagulls, hanging out at my favorite jetty and inspecting the rocks, the wind and mist against our beach front windows, and a great vista atop our spiral staircase - sort of like rooftop deck. Salt water taffy, daily stops at my favorite beach cafe, and impromptu surfing adventures. Missing the crowds was awesome, and there was just enough going on that we could get our ice cream fix and other beachy treats as if it was a normal summer day.

ciao, xo


DIY: terrarium

At this time of year, I am always searching for ways to extend 
the fruits of summertime, and bring my favorite season into the home as autumn slowly blows in.
terrariums are not only so hipster cool right now, 
but they increase oxygen circulation - always a good thing - 
and they add a pretty, clear and simple dose of green to any part of a house.

materials: activated charcoal, rocks (or aquarium gravel), moss, soil, plants aaaand a jar!

step1: add rocks to the bottom of your jar.
{for sentimental value, i added rocks from 1) le cinque terre 2) croatia and 3) the french riviera}

step 2: add a few clumps of moss. moss soaks up any excess water and adds a raw green look.

step 3: add soil. throw a handful of activated charcoal mixed in the soil.
because there are no holes for draining, charcoal works to keep soil fresh and not soggy.

step 4: using your fingers, make a little "hole" in the soil for your plant.
start small, place your plant in the soil, and cover it up sufficiently.


and after a few months of happy terrarium-ing...
{indirect light, the occasional light watering/misting}

makes a great gift, an inexpensive and fulfilling DIY,
and a great way to pump oxygen and green into any corner of the casa.

happy terrarium-ing!
ciao, xo



It's clearly fall around here...

This batch of instagram goodness really does capture some happy (and some simple!) moments of the past few weeks. Lots of fall foliage, pumpkins and leaves, and other pretty things I get to see everyday. Some shots aren't everyday things; like the amazing city views and the night time lights and sequin dresses and the vino rosso that I'm saving for a super-special occasion - it took about 6 weeks to arrive from Florence! It finally made it here it one piece. I am liking this transitional weather, because I still can order a hot or cold drink at starbucks and even get away with a sundress here and there (with a cardigan, of course)...these are the things I think about.

have a beautiful wednesday! ciao, xo


the best food in italy

from the top: pizza margherita, nonno mede in siena | penne arrabiata in venice | gelato cioccolato, grom siena | roasted zucchini, carrot, peppers e pollo made by yours truly | fresh fruits and vegetables in positano | bruschetta from nonno mede in siena | cappuccino, florence (via calzaiuoli) | pizza margherita, o'vesuvio florence | a delicious dish of risotto e turkey in milano | penne con pesto (made my me!) | pollo alla griglia from la finestra, siena | pizza margherita, pompei pizza, pompei | just a breadbasket in milano | crema catalana, siena

- - -

I have been to italy threeeee times. three times! is that even real? man, I am blessed.
over that time span of three years, on those three different trips, i have been fortunate to eat some very good food.
I have come to the conclusion that I love quite a few of these things.
pizza margherita is clearly a theme here.
cappuccinos for breakfast? sign me up. I love the simplicity of italian mornings.
best dessert? gelato. cioccolato and frutti di bosco is a match made in heaven.
and pasta? oh boy. anything drenched in arrabiata or pesto has my name on it.

with all the contorni, and piatti, dining in italy can be reeeally expensive - especially when the portions are not jumbo-sized like they are here in the good old USA. it's hard to narrow down decisions, even if you're on a budget. I've been told so many tips, ideas, and things to look for when searching for places to eat while traveling. and my own advice is this: ignore the rules. Sometimes the places with the pictures on the menu actually are really good. Gelato twice a day is completely acceptable. Sometimes the items on the tourist menu are actually to die for. You've got to go in aware of your options. For instance, if you're going to Sicily, perhaps try the seafood. Or the Cinque Terre; try something with pesto alla genovese. Napoli, pizza. But don't write off anything because you're not in a specific, specialized area - be openminded!

and another thing - look. Look for the hidden osteria instead of the ristorante on the main piazza. Walk a little further than usual - not only will you build up the anticipation of your meal, but maybe you'll see something you've never expected. and who says you can't go into the supermarket and grab something to make on your own? that is, if you can...

ok - end rant on food. now, who's hungry!?

ciao, xo