*photo from 2013, a trip to the french riviera town of nice. I can almost smell this!

This post was originally going to be titled 'april goals,' where I was going to talk about eating greener, practicing patience, living in the present, etc. But it's been a weird day and I feel like my goal for today, and for a while, should be to get better at breathing. 

And by breathing I mean a lot. Calmness and patience. Breathing is being patient, in times of screaming noise and still silence. I have been trying all year to get better at that. Sometimes my own impatience bothers me. I know it can be short. I talk fast, I multitask, I plan ahead a lot of the time. So, breathing for patience is one goal. To be able to breathe deeply and think calmly and walk and talk a little more gracefully is something I want to zero in on this week. Breathing will add that ease, making my mindset a little softer.

So, a lot is going on! March whizzed by and brought a ton of stress, so it is nice to mindfully breathe again a little deeper with appreciation as April dawns. The sunlight is starting to look different and hit at its higher angles every evening when the sun goes does. 

I hope you have a lovely week and b r e a t h e ! ciao! xo


coffee diaries | plenty cafe

I did not find Plenty. Plenty found me.

I do not think I am a major blogger force (in fact I think I lose followers more than I gain) but somehow, I think through the grapevine, and a convoluted network of hashtags, Plenty Cafe found my instagram account and followed me. I gushed. I felt irrationally kiiiiinda famous (maybe the #coffeediaries hashtag is catching on). So of course I followed Plenty back. I mean, as soon as it registered that Plenty was a cafe in Rittenhouse I knew I needed to go there.

The day I went to Plenty may have been my lucky day. I got a great parking spot, actually parallel parked (!!!) and got a great seat by the window. I knew Plenty's interior was going to be beautiful - I mean, look at it - because of their awesome insta and website. As I entered, though, my gaze naturally lifted upward at the cool asymmetrical hanging lights, onto the ornate gilded ceiling that reminded me of Siena a little bit. The space is so, so cool. It isn't weirdly minimal, not too industrial or warehouse-y, but rather a naturally open and cozy with an earthy-yet-crafty, space-saving approach.  There's a loft that rests atop the the kitchen, and looks over the bar and chalkboard menus on the wall.

I ordered a latte and asked for the leaf. Now, this can be a big signal as to the kind of cafe it is. It's a request that can get a variety of responses. Sometimes I get looks of annoyance. Sometimes it pressures the barista. Some say "of course," with a hint of attitude: as if it's like a psh, what else did you expect? 

So, I asked: can you guys do the leaf? 
"Sure. Mike'll hook you up. And you can instagram it!"
It was pure symbiosis. I love this place. I love this barista.

And guys, look at that leaf. Poured so well. Beautiful. So after I snapped all of these pictures and felt a little bit vain, I drank this elegant creation and it truly was perfect. I know I say this a lot about coffee. But it was flavorful, rich, yet light and creamy. Not too overpowering or heavy. The kind of latte that makes you put it down and say, "this is good" as you lick the foam off your lips. The kind of latte that feels European. Bravo, Plenty. You've done it. You've knocked Elixr off the top of my #1 center city cafe. You have won my heart. It had a lot to do with the staff - my whole experience was delightful.

Notes from the Coffee Diary
- light, creamy (not too heavy!)
- flavorful, smoky taste?
- inviting interiors, earthy and green, neighborhood
- baristas!!!

1602 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA


first time at the italian market

Sunday's trip to the Italian Market on 9th Street in Philly was my first time ever. It was a lot different than I thought it'd be, but I loved it nonetheless. Now, before I forget...here's what was on our produce shopping list (aka the shopping list that was 100% spur of the moment and completely unplanned).

  • fresh asparagus
  • grapes
  • blueberries
  • romaine lettuce
  • baby spinach

Now, while the Italian market is very non-Italian in its look (and produce selection - pineapples?), the general feel was very bold,  tough-yet-loveable, especially once you're in line at Claudio's. We almost cut out a guy in front of us with his bag of De Cecco pasta, and we at once rectified our faux pas with a "sorry! you were in front of us!" He grunted back, "I know," and turned his shoulder to us.

Philadelphia is so lovely.

So while the produce market was the most photogenic, the stores selling the fresh-made pastas and aged cheeses were the ones that spoke to my soul. Claudio's and Talluto's (pictured) were the two that we poked into. At Claudio's, we surrendered to the most sumptuously sharp pecorino cheeses that were so crumbly and salty and flaky that my eyes rolled to the back of my head and took me instantly back to that tasting in Montepulciano. That was the day I became a cheese person.

We purchased a piccante pecorino, and another from Sardinia - both were fantastic. We also bought reeeeallly long spaghetti, pesto alla genovese, oh and more cheese smoked mozzarella (be still my beating heart), and marinated baby mozzarella. Claudio's was fun but tough. The guys behind the deli counter liked our passion for cheeses. I think by the time we left we were kind of buddies.

Then we rounded back to Talluto's for some arrabiata sauce, pesto agnolini (!!!), and a few more things that I can't remember.

All in all, a very successful first day ever of the Italian market. Mom and I gotta make it a monthly thing. When am I going back to Italy again??

ciao!! xo


gelato date

Over the weekend (and for the first time in too long) my Siena friends reunited for some brunch and gelato!! It was perfect. I snapped a few pictures of our gelato date at Capogiro (I wrote about this place in an old coffee diaries post here) before our concoctions melted away. 

It's so casual and even probable to stop for a simple gelato in Italy - we were reminiscing about that - but here in the USA it's obviously not as easy to find a cute little corner gelateria that sells your favorite flavor. (sigh: i'm still searching for the frutti di bosco). We're lucky that Capogiro is here in Philly and whips up thirtysomething fresh batches of gelato daily! It'll hold me over until next time I'm in Italy. The wait for the frutti di bosco is worth it.

ps. Irish potato flavored gelato is AMAZING. sounds odd, but I promise it is good.

ciao! xo


a downton-inspired updo

This looks incredibly complicated but I did this with my own two hands! It's a series of twists, knot-braids, and tiny ponytails tugged into a delicate twist secured with only two bobby pins. I wanted to share because it reminds me of those beautiful, effortless yet complex Edwardian hairstyles of my favorite show: Downton Abbey!! And sorry there is no photo guide along with the steps, or better yet a DIY video...but I'll try to make some sense of the steps below!

Step 1. 
Split hair at a center part. Take two tiny top layers and tie into a "knot" (I learned how to do it here - it's easier than a braid). I did only two of these little knots. It does a great job of securing the front, especially if you have shorter layers here.

Step 2.
Using little clear rubber bands, take the remainder of the hair and, going downward, tie bands to form little ponytails underneath each other. This will create 3-4 little ponytails on top of each other. Take the ends and flip inwards (exactly like this). You'll be left with one ponytail, as the ends of the previous ones are now underneath your hair.

Step 3. 
You should start to see the intricate twist starting to form! Take the ends of your ponytail and form a braid. Secure with one last little clear band. The plait should be hanging loosely like a ponytail, towards the top of the neck. Take the braid and twist it into the rest of the twists above by simply tucking in loose ends. I have long enough hair to wrap it around 1-2 times. Hide all the hairs in the tail of the braid with bobby pins....I used two!

Ta-da! It's definitely a relaxed feel, not too tight or uncomfortable. And suddenly your hair is as elegant as Lady Mary Crawley. Use a light spritz of extra-hold hairspray and you should be good!

Takes about 5-8 minutes.

ciao, xo


snow on march 1st.

from the prettiest snowfall yesterday. no filtering/audio edits, just the sound of snow falling.
to watch, use password 'snow'.

This quickly turned into a Georgia and Scout show, as you can see - they absolutely love the snow. I needed a way to capture the hefty snowflakes on their black coats, so I took out the tripod and focused manually on them (trying to stay still!). I love how excited and even curious they are about a fresh snowfall. Anyway, one of my march goals is to get better at shooting on a tripod, and even letting a little blur in. I liked the simplicity of this.

March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb! Although its entrance is rather peaceful and calming, it is nice to know that all this white will be green in a few short weeks ;)

ciao, xo


Terhune Orchards

 This past weekend was such a treat after a week that felt unusually long and stressful! On Saturday we poked around the Princeton area and found the most charming little orchard. It was the first day in a while that was cold, but didn't feel freezing.

Our spontaneous 'let's go down this road' mentality led us to Terhune Orchards. As we drove close, it was hard to not notice all of the knobby, gnarled and bare apple trees, seemingly petrified in the cold. They looked pretty stark against the ice/snow packed into the ground. I certainly didn't expect a cute little farm store with full-blown early spring delights inside. It confirmed our hope for spring! Budding grape hyacinths, baby daffodils, and fresh cut flowers were around every corner and visible surface. Apples were generously piled in great wooden crates, fresh cookies were on display, and the best apple crumb pie was offered for 'samples' (i.e. try a whole slice!). It tasted so fresh and local. In our shopping bag was fresh salsa, a small bunch of freesia, apple cider donut holes, guacamole chips, and of course apples.

Most delightful of all was the happy bunch of little farm animals that greeted us. A spunky white duck, a cuddly yellow lab, friendly cats, and chickens! Before heading out we couldn't resist ourselves with the apple cider donut holes - they were so good! - and we hung out with the animals by a smoking bonfire outside of the store.

My must-try for next time is their wine tasting room. Their winery is going to be my next early-summer stop, and when the autumn comes around I want to do apple and peach picking! Going to be awesome...and if you live in the area of Princeton NJ you should really go and 'shop local' at their perfectly quaint little farm store.

spring is coming! even though it is literally snowing now...I know it is coming!
ciao, xo