christmas 2015

 As I type this, it is Sunday December 27th...and I smiled today because some of the radio stations are still playing all the Christmas songs :) The cheer and the hype is what makes me really excited, and it is so contagious, all through songs, visions of red and green, and the smells of cooking, pine, cinammon-goodness...there are so many senses of Christmas.

So here are just a few (I mean, just a few) pictures from the holidays this year. Most of my efforts went into making a video, actually, so the best of the best you can see below. This is becoming somewhat of a family tradition, to make goofy movies...and I love it!

password: chritmat

ciao! xo and enjoy!


pretending it's cold...

What is more bizarre than a warm Christmas?! It was a complete oxymoron, requiring an air conditioner and everything. Christmas Eve was 76 degrees! We always joke in my family that there is something wrong about a sunny Christmas; it goes against every carol, holiday card and Charles Dickens-esque picture. At least it was cloudy, and not sunny!

Despite that, our holiday has been wonderful. It's been filled with Star Wars everything, lots of PIE, homemade pasta (all the carbs!) and lots of wrapping paper. I received this lovely hat and scarf and immediately paired them together in my mind's eye for an outfit like this (above). I mean, ideally I would be wearing a nice black coat and boots, but a light dress is perfect for 60 degrees or so in December. My little bro is such a good sport for taking these pics!

How is everyone's Christmas weekend?

ciao! xo


winter picks

As I posted on my instagram, I have this bad habit of buying things for myself when I go Christmas gift shopping. Woooops. Sometimes it's the sales I can't pass up, but most times it's little trinkets like these that keep me excited for cooler weather and wintry outfits. But I do have to say, I did pretty well on my shopping this year. I have almost everyone on my list done, and all I need to do is wrap whatever else arrives in the mail. I didn't do a lot of physical brick&mortar shopping, but the little that I did was pleasant. Of course watching the money fly out of your bank account is no fun, but the satisfaction of having a little pile of presents all wrapped up and ready for gifting is quite fun and might make up for it.

So, in the frenzy of shopping, here are some of my winter picks:

- ear cuffs.
- long gold chains (these are from urban outfitters)
- plaid scarfs
- booties (i got them in black, too!)
- aaaaand: eyewear! I have been in desperate need of new glasses, and I am so excited about my (not one! but two) pairs. Both are a bit hipster in look but I am really digging the round frames :)

ciao! xo


some recent updates

+ searching for pieces. oook! so lately I have been desperately in need of a few new, stylish pieces - mainly accessories - to amp up my wardrobe and keep it both seasonally "in style" and also classic and "timeless." In short: I need scarves and dresses and boots and earrings and sweaters and bracelets and long gold necklaces and a new tote bag.

+ loving documentaries. I think I talked about this a few posts ago...but how amazing is Amazon Prime video? I love the video feature that's included in the membership, it is hands-down the most used aspect of the membership I use and love. I've been opened to so many great films and notably documentaries. As a history lover, I am really finding myself drawn to the classic Ken Burns documentaries, especially the Civil War. It touched me so much that it inspired a quick getaway here! I love how they allow you to learn and relax and lounge with a cup of tea...it is what makes an ideal weeknight for me.

+ getting back on track with running. I have recently found some pants getting a bit tighter...ahh! So that's gotta change. I do not own a scale and really would like to, so for the time being I use my clothes to gauge my weight and whether or not I am maintaining it. In the last several months I have gotten into the best shape I have ever been in, and I guess I let it go to the wayside a little. I used to run  e v e r y single day in the summer but this year I have been very inconsistent. I am only 2 weeks strong, but I have been consistently exercising and keeping an eye on how often I do cardio/runs. Eating is a part of it too...but tonight I had fajitas so I am not sure I can toot my own horn about how healthy I eat right now...haha.

+ on confidence. This is a good thing...I find that the older I get, the more confidence I have. It's like a fully supplied reserves system. I feel good being me, good in my skin, and I feel very confident - for the most part - about my work life. I love my place right now and I thank my lucky stars for being where I am.  I don't know it all, and I am learning every day, but I feel very stable in my life right now which is kind of nice. The twenties are tumultuous in a young adults life; I finally am feeling centered. I turn 26 in April! Holy moly...

+ on little getaways.  Recently this quote caught my eye: disappear one weekend per month. Maybe it's not a quote, but it is a piece of advice I really like. In November my mom and I took an impromptu trip to Gettysburg, and we are planning our next mini-trip to Long Island, NY. I hope it works out, because the next few weekends leading up to Christmas will certainly be busy. Weekend trips like this, even close ones, are like pressing a reset button. A two-day trip feels like a full out vacation. It all depends on the context, the company, and the circumstances...but I love the spontaneity of a quick getaway and think it does wonders for the soul!

+ on beauty routines. I feel like I am looking so tired lately, and I'm not sure if it is because I am not drinking enough water, or wearing mediocre makeup (or a combination of both). My skincare routine has been kind of up and down lately; running out of my favorite La Mer moisturizer, having a really hard time finding a good eyeliner, etc. All I know is that for eyeliner, I just don't like waterproof makeup. It needs to be scrubbed off! All it does it irritate my face, and I am not sure where to get a good, simple, bold but washable eyeliner that defines my eyes and keeps me looking awake. As for water, I could always use more.

What's going on with you??


Aperitivi: The Spritz

 An Aperol spritz is probably the most summery drink you can make; it ranks along side of refreshing mojitos and sangria (in my book). So I thought I'd kick off December, the unofficial start of the Christmas season, with a really summery drink! It makes no sense other than over Thanksgiving break I was really craving this drink, so I whipped up a few. First thoughts: man, is it strong! and also, man, is it easy to make! I can't wait to make more again for future gatherings now that I know how to do it. It requires 4 basic ingredients, and is the most festive, flashy hue of orange you can imagine.

Let me start with an explanation behind my craving for this obscure beverage. As most things work with me...all roads lead to Italy! A spritz is a popular Italian aperitif, or aperitivo. It primes your appetite prior to a meal and is usually enjoyed with other fantastic italian classics, like cheeses and meats such as prosciutto or salame. This is shocking...but I have never actually had a full out "aperitivi" in Italy. I've had spritzes alone, but never with other appetizers. Sigh. Spritzes remind me of Florence, in particular a certain bar somewhere near Via Ghibellina. Whenever it was time to have a spritz, we would always proclaim that it was "spritz o'clock"! Any time can be spritz o'clock. It is just that good. It is a dry, almost bitter drink. Not sweet at all. It is, however, refreshing and light, and just as delicious as it looks!

So, anyway, I put this little shoot together to document my pre-Thanksgiving aperitivi. In a few words: it was awesome.

- club soda
- Aperol
- champagne or prosecco (as you can see, I buy only the best)
- orange, sliced

You can find the recipe instructions here! If you're interested in other takes on the recipe, such as the use of prosecco, you can follow my pinterest board all about food. yum!

enjoy la tua bevanda! ciao, xo



Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

 Last weekend my mom and I took a whirlwind, last-minute trip to Gettysburg, a place that neither of us had been before. For a sleepy Pennsylvania town, it is brimming with relevant history and is absolutely one of my favorite experiences in a while. It really was an investment to go, as a historian, and as a stakeholder in history education. It was powerful to see the sprawling, hilly fields of Gettysburg and contemplate what it may have looked like all those years ago. It was a somber but meaningful visit, especially as I am becoming more and more interested in the Civil War. Short weekend trips like this can teach you so much, and make you appreciate your country. It was really good timing, as today marks the anniversary of Lincoln's famous address; it was also the weekend after Veteran's Day which really made me think not only about our country, but the people who quietly gave what they could to serve to make our country great. In light of recent events I am even more grateful for this.

Not sure if I should be posting this, because technically we broke a rule...but my favorite part of the trip was going onto the fields at night. Not to hunt for ghosts, but to take pictures of the stars. The milky way was fantastic. Streams of stars lit the sky. Little bright balls of white developed the longer you kept your eye on them. The starlight picture above was taken at the site of one of the hospitals at Gettysburg, near Cemetery Ridge.

Even without the history, Gettysburg is a delightful town. All the locals that I spoke to love living there. It is quiet, simple, and well maintained. The town has a certain dignity along with its charm. We found some cute cafes and restaurants on the main street, Chambersburg Street, including this place and this place. 

I can't sufficiently express what I got out of this trip. I loved every second of it and can't wait to visit again.

ciao! xo



Fall has been unusually quick paced, with weeks and dates blurring into one another.  I have found time to do a lot of the things on my to-do list, but it is already winter and I fear that this lovely grace period of fall has come and gone! Cool (but not frigid) nights, no pressure to shop for the holidays, time to enjoy all things pumpkin, apple and cinnamon-y. I have enjoyed a lot of it, but I could always use more!

For Halloween, I was a nerd. :) Did not require much dressing up or acting! I loved it. Speaking of nerd,  I was giddy when I found this 1979-era Nikon M film camera at a yard sale. The price of this camera was unbelievably fantastic. It is the first full-frame and film camera I have ever owned and I love the risk, the calculation, and the unknown of shooting with film...the way it used to be. I wish, so badly sometimes, that I was born a little bit earlier before the digital age overtook everything. I find it exhilaratingly challenging.

Daylight savings has also been awesome. That extra hour, especially in the mornings, is quite nice to have.

okay...enough chatter! ciao, xo


some november thoughts

Hellooo! It's incredible that we are already over a week into November, and I haven't posted since mid-October! I promised I wouldn't give up blogging, and I wanna stay true to that! But the idea of privacy has definitely taken the pressure off the need to post a certain number of times per week and month. I feel like it's a good fit for now. November is the month of gatherings and birthdays here in this family. It has been lovely and busy, as usual, with lots of dreaming and doing. Here are a few thoughts, favorites, and phases for November so far...

  • my nifty fifty lens! I had been eyeing up the 50mm f/1.4 prime lens for my Nikon for a few weeks before making the (not so big) splurge. It is so cost effective and I love the super wide aperture, which results in a more blurred background with a delightful bokeh effect. The picture above was taken of me with the nifty fifty. Love the versatility of this lens, even though you can't zoom in and out. Definitely can see how it is a piece every photographer should own. 
  • outfit obsessions right now: hats, vests, and boots. I have been all over hats for a while and it seems suddenly with the ushering in of fall, they are EVERYWHERE, available in all stores, and man I love it! This one is an oldie from last winter from Brixton - love the super wide, floppy brim. The whole trend is really great and even extends into better haircare, I think...here's my thinking...if I know I am wearing a hat, I'm not worrying about my hair or what it looks like.  Outerwear and vests are another current obsession of mine - I keep finding myself pinning new pieces and really lusting over unusual, textured pieces that make layering easy and interesting. And boots! I'm searching for a nice pair of black booties, and I expect I will wait until I meet the perfect pair.
  • amazon prime movies and rentals. this is my new friday night date! I have been all over Amazon Prime's rentals - most start at $2.99 - because it is so effortless and easy, and almost any title is available. I've really been enjoying it on cold weekday nights when I have some extra time to relax in bed. With the free titles, I've been exploring all types of movies I normally don't watch - oldies, war movies, Jane Austen classics, etc. Most of them are clunkers but it is fun to give it a shot. My most recent eye-roller was Miss Julie, with Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell....it had me for a while, but just got so horribly bad. My on-rotation favorite is the Civil War documentary by Ken Burns. It is going through its 25th anniversary again on Sunday nights, PBS :)
  • cabin dreaming. I have been really keen on the idea of simpler country living, it seems. This year we've had talk in the family about what it would be like to have a cabin. It just seems like all of this dreaming and talking is turning the idea of a cabin into quite a lovely aspiration. The country appeals to me for its lack of crowds, the fresh air, the untainted night sky, the sounds and smells of the outdoors. I was not always like this! I am not sure where this is coming from...but I am feeling really into country, cabin life. 
  • wanderlust: i am dreaming big and small. We are taking a small trip to Gettysburg this weekend, which I am looking forward to immensely. part of it is inspo from watching the Civil War documentary! It will be a poignant, but eerily enriching trip. Big dreams include international travel...I'm missing the big time trips!  I really want to get some plans into work about London, my friend and I have been wanting to go for years now but the plans just never fell into place. Maybe something in the next few months will work out...


Naan Pesto con Proscuitto Flatbread

Now that I am back in the work grind I am finding it hard to stay motivated, especially after work, to cook a healthy dinner I won't feel guilty about. I feel like that summer ease to stay active in the kitchen is long gone! Being in that kind of a rut is so frustrating, especially when options exist but you just can't think of anything. My guilty go-to is always pasta. It's easy to cook and easily my favorite food on the planet. I go for pesto when I want to keep it light, and spicy marinara or butter when I feel like diving into the "I'm SO HUNGRY I don't even care" abyss.

When I do care, a feel a little creative, I tend to experiment with my favorite flatbread: naan. I prefer greens on my homemade flatbreads - like pesto. Arugula is great, too! When I make my pesto flatbread, I feel like I am getting a little taste of my favorite dish! It's not necessarily healthy, but the portions are small and are probably less carbs than pasta.

So...introducing my new pesto flatbread favorite. The ingredients are simple - in fact, the simpler the better because pesto is such a flavorful base in itself. Proscuitto, pecorino, a little bit of mozzarella - and in this case, capers. No measurements, just what looks about right and will stay on your flatbread in the oven!

I love how the proscuitto (ripped into strips) are crispy after only 5-6 minutes at 350 degrees. The pecorino holds its' shape, while the mozzarella melts and holds everything down. Capers were a last-minute decision, but may have competed a bit with the pesto itself. Capers are really salty, and taste good with a chicken piccata sort of dish...maybe not this one.

This pairs {really} well with a nice wine and some olives, cheese, and other antipasti. 2 small, circle-shaped naan flatbreads are more than enough for a nice lunch or an appetizer.

ciao! xo


some cool-weather europe travel inspo

As you can see...
I am craving chilled, foggy hills that emit a gloomy sort of glow.
Small villages perched on cliffs, with houses made of stones.
Lights of all kinds flickering on the snow.
Jagged rocks with cold salt water lapping about.
The distant shrills of the Orient Express as it passes on a long bridge.

Europe in the fall and winter is looking so attractive to me right about now! 
I am not sure why - but I am really itching for a visit in the England/France/Germany/Austria/Switzerland area.
So pretty much everywhere.

I'm envisioning midnight sleigh rides, 
light films of frost on the countryside,
bright waters and verdant landscapes.


ciao, xo


coffee diaries | boro bean

 We stumbled upon Boro Bean after taking a wrong turn on our route towards Princeton, NJ - best mistake in as long as I can remember!

Hopewell, NJ is the most charming simple American town. Its' lovely main street, Broad Street, was having a fall festival of sorts. It was a glorious, chilly Saturday of sidewalk sales, open houses and markets, and people walking together along the street. Our stop at Boro Bean was very serendipitous, as it was the first business we saw as we turned on to Broad, with twinkly lights adorning the rustic wooden porch. I loved the look of the front porch with creaky old wood. It had just the right amount of space to feel cozy yet spaced out, and there was a table right up front that I had my mom snag.

Our order was a pumpkin spice latte and a regular coffee, Jet Fuel blend (!!) for our autumn afternoon.

I was floored by the small-town feel of this cafe, where the barista was kind enough to engage me in conversation about what specifics I wanted for my latte, what I was doing in town today, what I was photographing (he noticed my camera). It's what all cafes should be like.  Nick, my barista, is clearly a master at creating a pumpkin spice latte with the works - whipped cream, cinnamon, pumpkin flavor, and perfectly steamed skim milk. It was just as delicious as it was beautiful!

So, these pictures capture a really special few moments of my day. Amazing cafes do exist outside big metropolitan areas and crowded streets. I can't wait to make my pilgrimage back here every fall, and a bunch of other times in between.

ciao! xo

Boro Bean
9 E. Broad Street
Hopewell, New Jersey


jacket weather

jacket LOFT | tee shirt LOFT | jeans Lucky Brand | bag Coach | glasses Ray Ban | earrings LOFT | 

Good morning on this mild Tuesday! It is a real departure from our brisk and chilly weekend, perfect jacket weather. It's nice to really embrace "fall fashion" and wear layers, cozied up. These were taken in Princeton during our weekend drive.

Some things going on lately:
  • grad school: it's going! Crazy to think we are almost mid-way through the semester. I have a system down for homework and making it to class on time, so all I have to do is continue chugging on for that.
  • music: this might be weird...but the songs I just downloaded on my iPod are all classics! Rhapsody in Blue, Hoedown, Appalachian Spring, Four Seasons...a mix of nice tunes are in my queue.
  • new tea obsession: cold brew! It's awesome to have these tea bags handy at work. All you do is pop them into a cold water bottle and voila! You have some awesome iced tea. I love drinking my iced tea unsweetened so this is pretty much perfect.
  • in the market: for a new thermos. Speaking of tea...that's what I would use it for. I used to have this jumbo sized thermos from Dunkin Donuts that kept my tea hot ALL day long, and it died on me....I guess the insulation wore away from too much use. Haha, I know...this is interesting stuff...
  • currently on repeat: Parks and Rec, Downton Abbey reruns...never gets old.
  • upcoming resolutions: I am really excited because one of my old friends from high school is starting up Pilates classes...I admire the fact that she is just doing it! I am going to one of her classes this weekend, and I can't wait. So, in spirit of staying healthy (and preferably trim) I'd like to mix up Pilates and vinyasa classes this fall to keep busy. With grad school, plus work, I'd have to balance it...but we will see!
ciao! xo