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


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


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


scenes from my weekend

This weekend kicked my ass. If these photos make it seem like I had a tranquil and uneventful weekend, that'd be about half right; I spent most about 50% of my weekend furiously typing up journals for grad school work to meet a deadline - so yes, besides work, it was pretty uneventful! Unless you count buying a new pair of Nikes on a whim 'eventful...'

So in an attempt to convey serenity and calmness, I am posting some photos from the deck {and other moments}. All of the lovely flowers are thriving in June! I love being able to sit outside for hours, especially the cooler nights. It's funny - I'm sitting outside now and everyone is catching up on work of their own around the table. Being surrounded by green outside is a type of rejuvenation, I think. It makes doing work a little bit better.

If I close my eyes outside here, all I hear are various pitches of frenetic bird chirping. Their little vocal chords make the happiest noises. There are three different robins' nests scattered in trees around the deck. In the nearest one, the eggs have just hatched! And the babies are chirping so loud, waiting for some worms from their mama. It's just a sweet little reminder of how good life is.

ciao! xo


did instagram change blogging?

image via 

In the last year, I’ve grown really attached to the Instagram app for managing my photos and other ‘moments’ I want to keep highly accessible. It’s very clear to see the app’s rise in other popular media - when do you not see that little rounded camera symbol? When was the last time you took a photo with your phone and not tinkered around with a fllter? I’ve noticed that with myself, I’ve grown more and more interested in using instagram as my top ‘social’ media outlet, even though it really literally only offers a snapshot into whomever we are following. Do I like that design better? Yes. It’s simpler and efficient. But with all social media, it is easier in this day and age to overshare - and visuals are what all of our eyes go to first. My big concern, however, is that instagram took some of the integrity out of blogging. Not all, but some.

I began blogging in 2010 before Instagram was a popular platform. I have always been weary about promoting my blog on social media for privacy reasons,  but all at once instagram and blogging have, in a way, become deeply intertwined. I think I’ve noticed this in a sharper way because my blog has a heavy foundation in photos. If I publish a ‘peek’ on instagram, it almost feels like I am giving away my content. Captions are another huge, yet sometimes overlooked aspect to this shift. I love ‘catching up’ with some of my favorite bloggers by reading their lengthier captions - because seriously, how lengthy can they be on Instagram - paired with one summative snapshot. I think people respond more to pictures and less so to printed text - especially paragraphs (like this!). It’s true - there are more Smartphones than there are blogs. 

In short, I think that Instagram has significantly altered the nature of blogging. Our ‘followers’ are very different from our readers; people who occasionally check up on our feeds may feel like they’ve got enough of the picture (pun intended)!

I asked some of my dear bloggy friends their opinions on this issue; I formed my own opinions before even opening their responses to this question: did instagram change blogging? I have ‘known’ these girls for years now, and am eager to share with you what they think on this, too! Here’s Candice and Jenna!

"Does anyone even read this thing?" I know I've asked myself the question before in regards to my blog. With the rise in social media, especially Instagram, it seems as though the days of reading photo/text heavy posts are beginning to fade. I love Instagram, and personally choose to use it for both personal and blog related content. It's a way to share inspiring and beautiful content, as well as a platform for easy interaction with one's audience. I've even had the chance to meet up with other bloggers I had discovered via Instagram. Technology can be pretty great in that respect. Has blogging changed since Instagram? I would say yes. People enjoy the convenience and brevity of the captioned image, and can easily interact with brands, products, and other people. Should it replace blogging altogether? I would hope not, as I see it co-existing with blogs as an extension of a blogger's branding and aesthetic. Besides, Instagram gives readers an inside look at the little details of one's life, which gives more personality to the voice behind the blog. Everyone wants to feel as though they connect and relate to the bloggers behind their favorite reads. There are certainly benefits to both blogs and Instagram, and in a sense each engages a different audience, obviously with definite crossover. Overall, I enjoy using Instagram, and think it is an effective tool to engage a wider range of readers, as well as a fun way to share moments from one's life.

click to see candice's blog 

At first, Instagram was simply a way to share photos with friends and give quick updates on life. Oh, how things have changed! Instagram has been transformed into THE place to share blog post images, beautifully styled photos, and network with fellow bloggers and creatives. With every blog post I write, I make sure to snap an Instagram worthy photo to share when the blog post goes live. I have found that I have a lot of blog traffic coming from my Instagram when I do that. I've learned that if you have a beautiful Instagram feed, people will be drawn to your blog. You have to make sure to get involved with the Instagram community, though, and participate in photo challenges, hashtags, and engaging with followers and non-followers. It's definitely my favorite social media platform!

click to see jenna's blog | instagram 


insta lately

The spring has been crazier than I'd like to say: grad school and homework, family events, and a whirlwind trip home by S has all contributed to the gloriously busy last few weeks. I have my grumpy times for sure. But I am kind of loving all of it in all its rushing, overwhelming blur.

+ grad school. I don't want to jinx myself by saying this too soon (only had my first class and no major assignments), but I loved it! I still have to get to know a lot about how my school works - I'm new! - but I just feel very at home being in the classroom and taking notes. The nights are extremely tiring, as classes don't end til about 9.

+ june gloom. I don't remember the last time I've worn a jacket in June. It has been quite chilly over the last week - 50, 60 degrees - making a light jacket/raincoat seem like a very good idea. I have this one not unlike this one from LOFT and I've gotten plenty of wear out of it in the past few days.

+ before S left, we went on a dinner date to celebrate his {early!} birthday at a new restaurant. I had sworn it off because I had heard multiple bad reviews, but we had a gift card, and I ended up leaving with my mind completely made up: I was so wrong! It was a delightful albeit pricy northern Italian place with a rustic look and feel...I am completely a convert. Can't wait to go back with S and enjoy some more wine {and acqua panna!} under the string lights...

+ My Italian Market post has been featured here and I was very excited to see my photos posted and mentioned by Talluto's!  I was also tweeted by @SoSouthPhilly about my post. It's making me want to go back to the Italian market all over again! I'm in need of more pecorino cheese...plus, I recently watched Rocky and I'm feeling all Philly tough lately (go ahead, roll your eyes).

okay, off to class! tee hee.
ciao, xo


first day of school!

Today is my first day of grad school! And I'm a little nervous. I completed my undergrad in 2012. It feels like ages ago, partly because it has been, but also because I have changed so much. Completely morphed. I had an unusual fondness for college, and I look back on it weirdly - I don't look back on my experience with nostalgia, like some people. Sharing food, dealing with dirty sinks, rooms that smell like bad smells covered by Febreeze - these are things I do noooooot miss.

I loved the school part of school. I enjoyed my professors and I enjoyed my classes. I graduated as a dual major, history and education - and my history classes were my absolute favorite. I didn't dread them or even mind them (sometimes the 6 to 9's were rough). So, I decided that for my master's I'd pursue history. It was, after all, my favorite. It was challenging. During the height of junior and senior year, I was whipping out 15 page papers with the same ease it takes me to make scrambled eggs. I was very good at writing and reading for context; I remember researching using microfilm and library archives and feeling kinda Indiana Jones-ish, exploring for the answers. I built up an endurance for the art of writing papers and researching.

I enrolled in a history program in January, with the intent to start that month. The syllabus hit me like a ton of bricks. It required thirteen books, 4-5 twenty page responses, and a final paper that was obviously really long (I don't remember exactly, I think while I was reading the syllabus my brain stopped). I was overwhelmed, and more than anything, scared. I knew that I could do it, but not while tackling a full time job, which I love and is, ultimately, more important. So, with deep regret and almost a twinge of shame, I opted out of the program. I knew that the type of work and time needed to be successful was something I just wasn't ready or able to give. My second option, education, is going to be my new route. And to keep things spicy, I think maybe I'll throw an Italian or photography class in there once or twice. What do you think?

ciao, xo