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Archive for July, 2009

Pleasure is a sin, but sinning is a pleasure.

We know the least about those we love the most.

Given the right chance, women are capable of anything.

From the little love notes included in my Baci chocolates. You won’t see any candy in the pictures below because I ate them!

 Baci Perguina Wrappers

 

Chocolate and hazelnuts is one of my favorite combinations.  So I loved Baci chocolates from the first taste and Nutella, but that’s an entirely different (French) post!  I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that you can tour the Perugina factory, which is near Perguia, Umbria.  I discovered this tour while watching Giada’s Italian Holiday on the Food Network.  Here’s a review of the The Sweetest Tour in Italy post from the Slow Travel Italy website. 

 

More Wrappers

 

You can buy Baci chocolates online at Ditalia: The Essences for Your Italian Kitchen.  They’re also available in many gourment grocery stores, including World Market, and online at Amazon, but I couldn’t resist including Ditalia because it’s such a great site!  Check out all the great Italian things you can get from them!

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“Studies of hunter-gather societies show that a person’s turf helps provide identity, privacy, intimacy, and protection from stress.  One reason our homes are so precious to us – and being homeless is so debilitating – is that every time we cross the threshold, we wrap ourselves in a cozy protective  mantle of memories that helps sustain our persona.” The Power of Place, by Winifred Gallagher.

 

As you may know, I have been reading The Power of Place and thinking a lot lately about my personal space – both my physical location in Dallas and my personal space at home. I love to travel, but I don’t desire to be a digital nomad for any longer than the length of my next trip.  That connotations of being location independent (or maybe location flexible) are more appealing to me since my work can really be done anywhere I have an internet connection, but I still want the benefits that a dedicated home has to offer.   

I don’t think that being location independent means that one should have to do without the benefits of feeling at home either.  I’m intrigued by what makes a place really feel like home, what makes it more likely to provide the “cozy protective mantle” that gives relief at the end of the day when you finally cross that threshold.  What do you think? What does being home mean to you?

 

My Favorite Apartment

I remember clearly the feeling of coming home to my tiny 600 square foot apartment in Washington, D.C. after traveling somewhere – dropping my luggage near the door, collapsing onto my tiny green couch to enjoy a few minutes of interrupted quiet, and thinking “I’m home.”  There was nothing inherently beautiful about this apartment.  I rolled out of bed in the morning directly into my tiny galley kitchen, the air conditioner sounded like an airplane ready for liftoff, and the place was really drafty.  Admittedly, the location of the apartment was great – five blocks due west of the White House, a few blocks north of the Lincoln monument, and around the corner from my classes at GW law.  I’ve lived in a bunch of different apartments since this studio in DC, and most have never evoked the same feeling despite the additional space, amenities, and often cheaper price. 

 

Making My House Into a Home

About a year ago, I bought my first house.  Needless to say, I have learned a lot in a year about the cost and effort of maintaining the physical structure.  Now I’m focusing more of my energy on creating this feeling of home and changing my physical space.  What I do know is that too much stuff can stifle any feeling of comfort, relief, or creativity.  I have focused on the outside of the house, so now I needed to focus on the interior and some home organization.  So I have begun to eliminate excess clutter from my space.  One garage sale, two eBay postings, and a big trip to Half Price Books later, my space is feeling homier again.

 

10 Clutter Busting Tips

 As a part of the larger effort to rid my life of excess stuff, I’m still working on improving at these things.  Like balance or being present in the moment, ongoing effort is required, and I don’t ever expect to feel finished with this effort.  There are still a few more piles to go through, and there always will be.  These tips are a little rigid for me, but I think they hit all the important points.  I’ve used tips #1, 5, 9, and 10, but the rest are where I’ve got room for improvement!  I think the most important tipis probably #2.  Never let it get too bad!  What do you think?  Any other tips to offer?

  1. Open your mail over the trash 
  2. Do a daily 5 minute cleanup
  3. File newspapers and magazines once a week
  4. Purge wire hangers monthly
  5. Clear closets yearly
  6. Arrange wardrobe by type
  7. Fold sheet sets inside one of the pillow cases
  8. Don’t overstuff drawers
  9. Eliminate unused items in kitchen
  10. Make a list before you shop

Originally from www.dominomag.com.

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Best of Dallas

D Best Of

My D Magazine “Best Of” issue just came in the mail yesterday, which got me to thinking… 

 

Having moved to Dallas from Chicago as a kid in the ’80s and having gone to law school out East, I know that the perceptions and stereotypes of Dallas differ a lot from reality!  I’ve lived in Dallas off and on for about twenty years (wow!), and I’ve seen the city grow and change over the years.  Hell, I lived on McKinney Ave right after graduating college — before it was even called Uptown.

 

There are so many great places to visit and experiences this city has to offer so I’ve decided to launch a series of posts called My Real Dallas to show you the spots I love and the places I frequent.  I think it’s important to explore the city you live in just like you would any city you visit on vacation! 

 

I’ll also go through some basics for a first time visitor – things to do in Dallas, top Dallas attractions, etc.  So stay tuned!

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The TEDGlobal conference is going on this week in Oxford, England, and I’m wishing I was there.  Another thing to add to my bucket list!  It doesn’t take much for me to wish I was abroad.  Getting excited about about travelling is nothing new, but anyone who knows me well would agree that this event sounds right up my alley — intellectually engaging, a variety of great topics, and located in historical Oxford.  When I was living and working in London for a summer, I visited my friend Emily in Oxford where she was studying for the summer.  I’ve only seen it during the summer, which must be relatively calm compared to other bustling times of the year, but it struck me as a perfect place for learning and contemplation…

In case, you don’t know anything about TED yet, the best part (for those of us not in attendance) is that they make all the speeches given available online within 24 hours of the speech.  There’s also a spot on the website to follow tweets using #TED.

“TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year’s TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.”  For more information, click here.

Check out the program to see the line of speakers. I’m looking forward to watching: 

  • Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
  • Daniel Pink, author and career analyst
  • Paulus Terwitte, a Capuchin monk

Two of my past favorite speeches are Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity and  Sir Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity.

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My first visit to Italy happened during my study abroad semester in college.  I flew from Copenhagen to Rome and arrived after dark.  I’ll never forget the beautiful taxi ride through the city and seeing the ruins lit up like pieces of art.  It was breathtaking. The next morning we took a train to Florence. I enjoyed the art of the Uffizi, seeing the David, and the experience of Florence, but I was excited to get back to Rome a couple days later to explore more and visit Vatican City.  We ate plenty of gelato along the way, and on my next trip I plan to tackle this list of gelaterias.  Last year, I was plotting a trip back to Rome, but instead ended up visiting the Amalfi Coast.  The stunning beauty of this part of Italy quickly found a place in my heart. 

 

Our Itinerary

We stayed at the Hotel Pasitea in Positano and used it as a launching pad to visit Capri, Amalfi, Ravello, Sorrento, and Pompeii. I would highly recommend Hotel Pasitea – the morning breakfast buffet was great, Tony at the front desk was funny and helpful, the hotel itself was very clean, and the view from our room was stunning.

Amalfi Coast 020

My Takeaways

  • On the way back up from the beach on our first day in Positano, we found ourselves on a private staircase which lead us up to the lobby of the Le Sirenuse, which is one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen.  Imagine our surprise!
  • Tony recommended La Tagliata to us for dinner one night.  It’s way up in the hills of Positano with impressive views and the largest portions of family style food I’ve ever seen.  We happened to be there on the same night as a small wedding party and got to experience celebratory fireworks right outside the windows of the restaurant set against the backdrop of Positano!
  • When visiting Capri and embarking to the city center from the dock, take the bus or a taxi!  We learned this the hard way and mistakenly thought that a simple arrow reading “centro” would mean a short walk.  We were wrong and have taken to calling it the Capri Climb.  It seemed never ending, and we were exhausted after finally reaching the city center, but we saw some amazing homes and got some great shots.
  • A day trip to Amalfi and Ravello was well worth the nerve wracking bus ride along the winding cliffs.  In Amalfi, we toured the Paper Museum and discovered a wonderful chocolate shop called Cioccolato Andrea Pansa in the square across from the Cathedral.  Ravello was stunning and filled with the smell of flowers everywhere we walked. Our last stop was for drinks at the Hotel Caruso, which provided us the needed courage to brave the bus ride back to Positano.
  • Another unparalleled dining experience in Positano was at Lo Guarracino, which looks directly out on to the ocean from a somewhat hidden spot off the main stretch of beach. The food, the service, and the company were great.  Thanks, Mattia!
  • I loved bringing home limoncello and other goodies from a great little (non-touristy) shop in Sorrento called Fattoria Terranova.  I was so excited to find out they sold online and would ship to the US.  Then, I saw how much they charged for that shipping!  Oh well, I’ll just have to make do with domestic limoncello.

 

After a long lull in my international travel adventures, Italy welcomed me back with open arms, and I will be forever grateful.  My experience is that Italy lives up to all the hype!  This post is my answer to my friend Jenn who asked me recently about visiting Italy.  Having just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and probably still has visions gelato dancing in her head.  Overall this not a shocking sentiment, I realize, but it’s true nonetheless!  

  • Jenn –  below are some pictures from my college archive too! Not sure why Mel and Ashley are wearing the same sweater, but just noticed it!
  • There’s no shortage of information about Italy online, but here are a few of the resources I’ve enjoyed recently on the web and on Twitter – @CiaoLaura, @ItalyTravelista, and My Bella Vita.
  • Elizabeth Gilbert came to Dallas recently to speak as a part of a program at the Dallas Museum of Art.  I was lucky enough to join a packed house to hear her speak.  Not only is she a great writer, but she’s a great speaker and has the timing of a stand up comedian.  It was great to find that she was very down to earth and to hear that even though she has had such success and achieved such insight, on a daily basis she said she doesn’t feel like she has it all together!  To learn more check out her profile and speech on creativity on TED.  Love that website!

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I am currently in the middle of an extended purge of the unnecessary things cluttering up my space – both literally and figuratively.  Having once loaded up all of my possessions into the trunk of my car and moved from Dallas to DC with nothing else, I still harbor the probably unrealistic belief that I could do it again.  I love the house I live in with great furniture and things acquired along the way, but for the right reasons I’d easily forgo these creature comforts that I’ve accumulated.  

 

Even though I come from a long line of  packrats, I have to admit that I truly love a good purge!  I’ve learned over the years that I have a tendency to get caught up in the moment of cleaning out spaces and getting rid of things… Later I tend to find that in my zeal I’ve gotten rid of something I wish I hadn’t.  The best fix I’ve found for this is putting anything questionable into one box.  If in a certain amount of time (i.e. 6 months), I haven’ gone looking for it or decided conclusively that I want to keep it, then off to charity it goes.  Any other suggestions?

 

For a little inspiration on this topic, check out this post on uncluttering your creative spaceby Zoë Westhof of the blog Essential Prose.

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Yesterday was the 16th day of 100+ degrees of heat in North Texas this summer, and it’s only mid July.  That number is roughly the number of days we typically get in a full summer…  This is my least favorite time of year in Texas by far, and it has me thinking about the importance of place and location in our daily lives.  The picture above is of the living room of the 5th floor walk-up apartment I lived in with my host family in Copenhagen, Denmark.  I was a complete beginner with my brand new (non-digital) camera and thought adding the date to the pictures was a great feature.  Needless to say, I was annoyed when I finally got home and had the film developed.  It’s a time and place of which I have very fond memories. For me it’s evocative of all the things that my time abroad included – excitement, novelty, and friendship – along with the crisp air and the cross breeze blowing through the open windows on the fifth floor.  It was a great place to live while exploring Europe and neglecting my grades… Below is a picture of the building across from ours covered in fall leaves. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of it so that I wouldn’t forget.   

 

scan0004As somewhat of an observer by nature, I may be more sensitive than most to my surroundings, but I’ve always believed that they influence our lives way more than we might expect.  I recently came across a book addressing exactly this premise… It’s a very interesting book – called The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions by Winifred Gallagher.*  She discusses the impact on human life of light (or lack thereof), temperature (extreme heat and cold), and even various levels of stimulation (from quiet environments to bustling cities). I’m only part of the way through the book, but I’ll be interested to share my thoughts about it along the way… 

 

*Note: If you’ve heard about Gallagher lately (maybe in the current issue of Real Simple), it’s not because of this book.  It’s because of her new book called Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, which has been reviewed in the New York Times and the Washington Post, among others.  I’m very interested to read it next.

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