Inspiration 3.31.15

A jolly Tuesday to everyone! Last week, I celebrated the birthday of not one, not two, but three friends! All you lovely darlings rock. Keep doing you. It’s crazy that tomorrow is April. To think, this week we’re already dyeing eggs and stuffing our faces with chocolate bunnies. It makes me feel like I’m time-traveling sometimes. What comes to my mind is the quote, “The days are long but the years are short”. Blink and you’ll miss them.

Here are some links I found in my recent, never-ending internet travels:

Have a exquisite, extravagant, elegant week!

Love always,
Gabriele

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Accomplished: Visit San Francisco!

Last Thursday, I took a trip to San Francisco with my father for the weekend. I hadn’t been there since I was a baby. Fun fact, we almost moved there when I was an infant—sometimes I wonder what the West Coast version of me would’ve been like. Probably, I’d have dyed hair and be saying ‘namaste’ all the time.

golden gate gaby

Things about San Francisco:

  • The hills are enormous. I expected them to be hills, not miniature mountains. My legs were so sore after all of the walking we did!
  • Food. Food everywhere. Of every kind. If I lived in San Francisco, I would go all Pac-Man and eat everything
  • Bikers, joggers, dog-walkers… this is your city! It was lovely to see so many outdoorsy people out and about, being active
  • Diversity! The city’s population is one-third Asian, which was a welcome change from growing up in homogenous suburbia
  • Weather – perfect with a dash of more perfect. Although not quite hot enough for me, San Francisco weather was lovely, breezy, and warm enough to not be bundled in a billion layers

So what did we do?

Friday, we went to the Presidio, which is this re-outfitted army base. It was gorgeous. We visited the Presidio Graduate School, a wonderful, innovative graduate school that bestows MBAs/MPAs, but with a focus on sustainability at the core of every lesson. All of the students and professors were so passionate and motivated. It reminded me of my alma mater, seeing how much people actually cared.

After visiting a class, my father and I went to the Golden Gate Bridge and then up and over it. My inner middle-schooler was screaming because the tv show (Charmed) I was obsessed with back then used the bridge as a frequent backdrop! I had no chance to climb up and stand at the top, unfortunately.

Golden Gate Bridge, the view of the hills from our hotel, and some pretty accurate graffiti

Golden Gate Bridge, the view of the hills from our hotel, and some pretty accurate graffiti

We went toward the Muir Woods, though we didn’t have a chance to explore. Those winding, curvy turns with no guardrail and a steep tumbling drop made me super nauseous. Even my father, a bit of a thrill-seeker, was saying how often they must have to rescue people (or recover bodies). I could never drive there.

On our way back into the city, we went to this cliffside that overlooks the bridge. When the fog rolls in, you can see the top of the bridge poking out from up there. People were biking up there. People were biking everywhere in San Francisco. I don’t know how they tackle those crazy hills.

We had dinner with people from the graduate school. Presidio Social Club is a renovated army barrack and my goodness. If I lived in SF, I would be SO FAT. Luckily everything is super expensive, so if I lived there, I couldn’t afford any of it. And I tried raw oysters for the first time.

On to Saturday!

Full House!

 

We started off by driving around the piers and people-watching. The piers had a huge open-air market that made my veggie-loving heart happy. We drove to the Full House house, and there were a bunch of bros who got there as we were leaving and they were all, “IS THIS THE HOUSE?! I need a picture!”

We drove by the Painted Ladies, and then stopped in the neighborhood of Haight-Asbury. It’s where the Summer of Love originated. There were the quirkiest stores there: Rasputin Records, East Asia hippie-dippie stores, a huge vintage clothing store, among countless others. It was Greenwich Village, turned way up. There was a guy in a tie-dye shirt with a beard crossing the street just as we were, holding out a plastic baggie of pot, totally nonchalant about it.

Haight-Asbury: Vintage store, Rasputin Records, a really awesome outfit

Haight-Asbury: Vintage store, Rasputin Records, a really awesome outfit

After that, we explored Chinatown and from there, we made it down to Union Square, where there was an art exhibit going on. I particularly enjoyed heart sculpture with Yoda’s face on it. We had lunch at a sushi place, Sanraku and omg. I can’t get over the food in this city. The population of San Francisco is extremely diverse so there is every connotation of food (and some of it gluten free!) around. And the roll I had was amazing – avocado, cucumber, and tobiko on the inside, with salmon and lemon slices on top. NOMMMM.

We explored North Branch, and passed by Coit Tower, which overlooks the whole city. We saw the spiraling of Lombard Street. We made it to Fisherman’s Wharf again, where we watched as the fog eclipsed Shutter Island and as piles of sea lions basked in the attention of tourists.

A cathedral, Union Square, and Chinatown

A cathedral, Union Square, and Chinatown

Dinner that night was at a club called the Battery, which is more of an actual club, than a nightlife club. We ended up sitting outside, having more wine!, and getting vittles. I had these rice crackers with black sesame seeds in them, and tuna poke, which was chunks of raw/seared tuna with avocado, macadamia nuts, and big tobiko. See?! I WOULD GET SO FAT IN SF.

We walked back to the hotel afterwards, and my legs were crying. And then it was our last night… very tragic, but we did enjoy all the TCHO chocolates the hotel left on our pillows.

Like all trips, it was over far too soon. Hopefully my next trip will be sooner rather than later!

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 3.17.15

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Last year for St. Patrick’s Day, my bestie and I were having green beer on a rainy day in EPCOT. Okay, she was having the beer. Holiday or no, I’m still allergic. This year, we’re celebrating a bit more locally, but it will still be fun! As an Irish-descended person, I am always happy to honor parts of my heritage. This week, I wrote a post on BiblioSmiles about Irish-related books, so we’re all about the shamrocks over there as well!

Sunday, I attended the regional Scholastic Writing Awards ceremony, which my company adjudicated and hosted. It was so amazing to see these young writers come together to celebrate their achievements. Lèna Roy, the fabulous northern NYC metro branch manager of Writopia Lab, wrote about it on her blog.

What else? The sun is staying with us a little longer every day, and despite there still being snow on the ground, spring can’t be too far away.

Here are some links, while we wear t-shirts anyway and hope the world warms up through our sheer willpower.

  • One of my favorite authors passed away last week, Sir Terry Pratchett. Take a look at some of his best quotes to understand why he was so brilliant
  • Gluten free kolaches! What are kolaches? Czech pastries with a cream cheese filling and streusel topping. Yum!
  • Speaking of foreign foods, this list of Norwegian foods to try is exciting. I like the tagline, ‘it looks a lot scarier than it tastes!’
  • Why fitness, and life, should have a ‘choose your own adventure‘ mentality. Don’t get trapped by yours or others’ perceptions of yourself
  • This gorgeous wedding is right out of a Tolkien novel, mixed with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • What happens when a cisgender, hetero man wears makeup to his office for a week?
  • This Christian woman challenged herself to wear a hijab for Lent this year. Her results so far are surprising and inspiring

Have a dazzling, dreamy, decadent week!

Love always,
Gabriele

My soundtrack

Do you have a soundtrack to your life?

I’m not suffering from auditory hallucinations or anything, don’t worry. Though… those could be fun. I do like to listen to movie soundtracks when I write and I can only imagine how fun it would be for us if our daily lives were accompanied by the music of an Oscar-winning composer.

I have playlists that are full of time-tested songs that I listen to for every mood. When I’m waking up and getting pumped for the day, when I’m folding laundry and want to dance around the house, when I need strength. When I want to be melancholy and moody. When I want to pretend I’m a Disney princess. When I want to scream and break things.

My playlists all have names like, ‘smile in the morning’, ‘dance, clean, whatever’, and ‘anytime, anywhere’. I have playlists for stories I write and for people in my life. In high school, I made ‘fan videos’ for my friends with songs I felt best fit them. Oh goodness. I half-cringe thinking back on that, but also, it was pretty gosh darn adorable of me. 

But, more than the playlists, there are certain songs that come up, time and time again in my life. Like a siren, they call to me to listen to them, find refuge in their melodies and words engrained by now in my heart. Here are ten songs I feel connected to.

“Far Away” by Ingrid Michelson
When I’m feeling dreamy and very Pisces, this song is full of yearning and head-up-in-the-clouds ideas.  

“Fallen” by Sarah McLachlan 
I make mistakes. Everyone does. Sometimes, I make really, really, terrible, horrible mistakes. This song is my crutch to get through those times. 

“For Fruits Basket”
This song is embedded in my soul. I have such a problem coming to terms with the decisions and mistakes I’ve made. The chorus of this song reminds me the mistakes are okay. It’s okay just to do better as I go on. 

“Moth’s Wings” by Passion Pit
This song is my childhood, summed up.

“Breathe (2 am)” by Anna Nalick
Another song that gets me through hard moments, moments when I feel like I can’t breathe. If I’m having a panicky moment, this song is a good reminder to calm down, chill out, and just breathe.

“You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates
For moments of silliness, and shaking it out and off, and time-traveling back to the 1980s. 

“Sleeps with Butterflies” by Tori Amos
Tori gets me. We are the odd girls, the dreamers, the quirky ones with starlight words spilling out of our lips and our ears, and we know we’re not quite at home here, like we would be among the clouds. 

“Dear Prudence” by The Beatles
I’m moody. Sometimes I need to get out of my own head. This song is a reminder to stop worrying, chill, go out and smell the roses, feel the sunshine. 

“Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
My anthem. Get up, get out there, life is going to be legendary. Also, MCR was my teenage self’s absolute favorite.

I could probably go on a longwinded rant about why I love each of my favorite songs, cheesy or otherwise. But I think I’ll just leave my Spotify list of my ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ songs. The songs I can listen to endlessly, over and over.

Anyone else have some theme songs to their life?

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 3.10.15

Happy Tuesday! What happened last week? I spent time with my friends on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday… I feel so lucky! It’s been hard being all bundled away for the winter, so this weekend felt like a rebirth. We all survived another winter!

Saturday, we had a belated birthday party at a speakeasy in the city, which ended up getting relocated to a really lovely Irish bar, where we had the entire upstairs almost to ourselves. We dressed in sparkly flapper swag. I learned that despite being a lightweight since college, I can still take the odd shot (success?). Eight of us crashed in one hotel room for the night, and Sunday was spent recovering with brunch and movies… and four consecutive episodes of Orphan Black. My fave.

Being dapper darlings and bringing the 1920's a century forward!

Being dapper darlings and bringing the 1920’s a century forward!

Here’s to warmer weather and longer days, and more opportunities to see all of my favorite people in this world. And, here are our links!

  1. Speaking of friends, I love these 14 ways to show them some appreciation
  2. What’s it like to grow up in Greenland?
  3. This playlist based on the Mara Dyer trilogy is awesome
  4. Feeling unproductive? Here are 25 meaningful things you can do in 30 minutes or less
  5. Need a cheap place to live in Japan? Buying a haunted house will knock down the price
  6. Twenty-five brilliant maps that explain the English language
  7. Even the most famous of women have had to overcome insecurity

Have a cheery, sunny week and ditch your winter parkas!

Love always,
Gabriele

Little Town, It’s a Quiet Village

Have you heard of the other name for the Millennials? We’re now also the boomerang generationcalled such because after we move away to college, many of us have to move back home for a period of time before we have the financial freedom to kickstart our independent lives. I never expected to be part of it, and hopefully I’ll be boomeranging back out soon enough.

I’ve lived in the same tiny hamlet for nearly my entire life. I went to elementary, middle, and high school here, with the same group of 200 or so kids from kindergarten to senior year. I know it inside and out, from the Fol-de-Rol that sets up in June, the frozen hot chocolates at our coffee shop, and how Broadway pizza is infinitely better than Amore’s.

Still, while I look forward to living in capital-letter The City, or somewhere else new and exciting, I’m sure there will be things I’ll miss about living at home in suburbia.

autumn roadtrip

Drives under autumn trees – one of the lovely things in suburbia!

Nature
Even when I’m driving to work, I drive past trees, the beautiful waters of the Kensico Dam (especially breathtaking at sunset), and … . There is a copse of trees in the back of my yard where deer peep out their heads and bunnies hop, noses twitching and eyes wide. Once, there was even a black bear who lazily ambled past. You can get lost in the woods here. I miss walking to my summer job as a teenager, where I’d skitter through my neighbor’s backyard, down a hill, and through a park!

One of my favorite spots in my town is in a nature preserve, where once you’ve climbed down and up hills (and sloshed through mud if it’s been raining), there’s a pond. You can carefully walk across a narrow stone ledge in the water to sit on a giant boulder at the other side and watch the water and listen to the birds. It’s a treasure.

Kids, Kids Everywhere
Everything in suburbia is really kid-centric. Especially in a town like mine, where people move here solely for the school district. It’s fun seeing kids running around in a safe place, playing outside, and being bounced around in carriages. It satiates my warm and fuzzy feelings of ‘awww look, a baby’, which is good, because I am in no way old enough or prepared for a child. 

The Uniform
If you’re an adult woman, it’s totally acceptable wearing yoga pants all around town, whether it’s stopping at the crazy-overpriced supermarket, the five or so nail salons, or our town square, which wants to be historical but is actually brand new. I’m all about wearing yoga pants and boots. 

No Chain Stores
I complain about my town being sleepy and quiet, but it’s also kind of nice not to see glaring McDonalds or Subway signs everywhere. It’s nice going into my local coffee shop, and falling into warm conversations with the people who work there, who’ve seen me grow up and know my family. 

Quiet
In the city, there are always sirens and cars going by, people talking. The whole city is pulsing with life. It’s nice to be home and have moments of utter quiet and stillness, where you can hear the soft exhalations of your breath and find peace in your head. 

Driving
I actually reaaaaally don’t like driving. I can’t wait to live in a place where I don’t need to drive (or at the very least, don’t have to dig my car out of the snow). But… I like road trips! Even just half-hour road trips to that magical smoothie shop or to check out a different sushi restaurant. I love being in the car with my friends during summer, with the windows down and wind streaming through our hair and carrying our laughs away with it. 

Of course, there are other things I’ll miss! Spending as much time with my family. Not having to think about going to a laundromat or carrying groceries sans car back to an apartment. One of my hellhounds, er, I mean dogs.

…But, there’s a whole wide world out there! And I’m looking forward to exploring more of it.

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 3.2.15

Happy March greetings! Hopefully before too long, we’ll be seeing more of the lamb and less of the lion. Hm, what happened last week? Well. It was my 24th birthday. Which means I entered high school TEN years ago. Ahhh. Meanwhile I still feel 14 on the inside half the time!

Regardless of my internal vs. eternal age, I had a lovely birthday! My family went out for sushi after work, where we’re friends with the owner and as I was leaving, he plucked a rose from one of the vases for me. When it came time for birthday cake, my family indulged in an ice cream cake. I, however, had a beautiful concoction crafted from fruit alone! Yum! And, of course, no birthday/holiday in my life is now complete without a tortoise. And my amazing aunt sent me a stone-carved pink one. So adorable!

The normal cake, PLUS MY SUPER AWESOME CAKE OF FRUIT

The normal cake, PLUS MY SUPER AWESOME CAKE OF FRUIT

Sometimes, I forget just how many wonderful people I have in my life. But the birthday wishes that flooded my social media and phone, reminded me that there are so many amazing, compassionate, terrific friends and family that I’m lucky to know. Shoutouts to all of them.

Here are some links to get us through the blustery first week of March!

  • Blue and black? Or white and gold? No matter which you picked, the Amazon reviews of the dress that sparked an uproar are hilarious
  • Your life is a hot date. Show up for it
  • Have any enemies? Sending them a glitter bomb is now a perfect way to exact revenge
  • I love reading about kids being entrepreneurial and this story of working in a bookshop at age 10 is adorable
  • Reddit expats talked about what’s still weird to them in their new country
  • Gummy bear layer cake looks so cool! Hopefully it’s just as yummy
  • How 22 different countries take their tea

Love always,
Gabriele