April 30, 2010

The Blanks Are Calling Me!

It's that time of the week again! Doesn't it seem like every week goes by faster and faster? It's May tomorrow. Does that freak anyone else out a bit? I was wearing my winter coat barely a few weeks ago, and today I was sweating in a cotton shirt dress and sandals! 

But hey, I'm not one to complain about the heat. I love the warm months like a fat kid loves cake! Bring it on, summer!

In other news, it seems that I have some blanks to fill today! This week's theme is movies, and if you play along, don't forget to link up over at Lauren's!

1.  My absolute favorite movie of all time is  a toss up between Forrest Gump and The Usual Suspects. Both are amazing, and I hate having to choose favorites.

2.  My favorite movie as a child was      Twice Upon a Time. I don't think it was ever commercially released, because it was a cartoon created by some friends of friends of my dad's, but it was so amazing. Words wouldn't do it justice. And The Phantom Tollbooth. Too awesome for words.

3.  The best movie quote ever is      "My father was the shaman of his tribe. My mother was the high priestess." "So why did they move to New Jersey?" "They wanted me to have a career. Hello, a career!" This quote is 100% hilarious if you've seen The Birdcage, and 0% hilarious if you haven't. Picture a very gay, very young Hank Azaria in daisy dukes, with a lisp.

4.  My favorite actress is   Annette Benning. She is a force to be reckoned with, and I've never seen her in a role I didn't love. (I hate Hilary Swank for the sole reason that she walked away twice with Oscars that should have gone to Annette Benning - for American Beauty and Being Julia - although Hilary Swank did deserve it for Boys Don't Cry. They should have awarded two Oscars that year).

5.  The movie I could watch over and over is     nonexistent. Even movies I love I have to take long breaks from. If I've seen it in the last six months, its too soon to watch it again.
6.  My favorite movie genre is     quirky alternative indie movies, and crazy intense plot-twist thriller/action movies. Cloying and corny feel-good dramas and romantic comedies make my teeth hurt from their syrupy sweetness .

7.  A movie I'd like to watch this weekend is    Alice In Wonderland. I haven't seen in yet, and I'd love to see the costumes and set design!


And now it's time to finish my Nautical Dress (pictures to come. And for those awaiting the pleated skirt tutorial, I'm sorry I'm so behind. Every time I start it it turns into another project. But today I bought some lovely pink fabric, and I'll be making one soon enough! Thanks for your patience!) Hopefully I'll finish it in time to wear it tonight, but we'll see. Then it's off to dinner with the usual Auberge Espagnole crew, and tomorrow a birthday party for a friend of a friend.

What are your weekend plans?

Oh, and don't forget to tune in, play along, and link up tomorrow for Six Senses Saturday!

April 29, 2010

I Occasionally Like To Make Lists: Lists I've Made In The Last Week


Have you guys stopped by Secret Society of List Addicts? It's pretty addictive. Especially because I'm a big list maker myself, and so I like to see what other people are putting in bullet form or numerical order.

This next one is actually a list that I stole from the Secret Society: A List of Lists!

(Isn't "list" one of those words that starts looking really weird after you type it a bunch of times?)

1. List of Things to Take Care of for Grad School: e-mail FAFSA, get in touch with financial aid office, e-mail modification for housing applications, research private low-interest student loans (any suggestions? I haven't done this one yet!)
2. List of Groceries to Buy: Milk, yogurt, whole wheat bread, asparagus, cherimoya, Earl Grey tea.
3. List of Sewing Stuff to Buy: Fun print fabric for a secret something I'm sewing for Valerio, striped navy and white tank (to be cut up and made part of a dress), navy fabric, white fabric, coordinating thread,
4. List of Stuff to Buy for Me: Every day flip-flops, socks and underwear, light cotton dress.
5. List of Future Sewing Projects: Nautical dress, Valerio's secret something, grey and black big stripes tank dress, make up case.
6. List of Shows to Catch Up On: Glee, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother, Brothers & Sisters, The Tudors, 30 Rock, Californication.
7. List of Stuff to Get at the Stationery Store: Fountain pen ink cartridges, mechanical pencils.

And I'm done. Apparently I have a lot of stuff I have to be doing and buying this week! I'm a busy little bee! Plus I have a dinner on Friday and a birthday party on Saturday, so I'll probably be soon making a list of things I have to buy to bring to each party. Thank goodness I got paid today! :)

What lists have you been making this week?

April 27, 2010

What Your Blog Says About You

You know how sometimes when you talk you realize that you use some words more than others, and as soon as you realize it, you realize exactly how much you use some words more than others?

Sometimes I go through phases with certain words or expressions, which fall out of usage for me as quickly as they fell in. Sometimes I even use expressions that I would never consciously use, but they just come out. One time I spent a week saying everything was "super," which is something I never say! It was weird.

Anyhoo, with Wordle you can see which words you use the most in your blog, and they even arrange it into a nifty little word bubble; the bigger the word, the more frequently you use it.

Apparently I use a lot of not so special words, like "just," "time," "going," and "around." I'd have figured that "sewing," "Madrid," "Rome," and "oven" would be on there more prominently.

What does your blog say about you?

April 26, 2010

Starting Off The Week On The Right Foot

 Happy Monday Everyone!

I would be all, "ugh, it's Monday again! Why, God, why?!" But time has been going by so fast that by the time I'm done complaining about it being Monday, it'll probably be Wednesday already. So why bother?

I'm late for work (in fact I have no idea why I'm blogging this early in the morning!), so here's a fun and quick time-filler for you! Play along, and then make sure to link up here!

 1. If you could star in any movie genre..what would it be..romance..horror..comedy..suspense or action?
A really good, mind-trippy, action thriller. 
With Denzel Washington.

2. Do you recycle?
Although I have been guilty of throwing the occasional yogurt container in the trash.

3. Have you ever been to a strip club?
Yes. And that's a story for another day.

4. Do you have a nickname?
Aside from all the creative potty-humor nick names my brother has given me over the years, not really. 
Some people call me Jules, but that's more of an abbreviation than a nickname.

5. What's a name you can't stand to be called?
Unless you're under the age of five and you call me Juli, because you don't know any better.
Then it's cute.
6. What are your Summer staples?
Plenty of sundresses, big sunglasses, and a pedicure.

7. What was the last thing you bought for yourself?
A clear plastic umbrella I've been wanting for a while, which I finally bought when my other one died.
A Spanish verb pack (finally!) and Paul Auster's latest novel.

8. Are you happy with your boob size?
I don't know why I shouldn't be. 
They're big enough for cleavage, but small enough to rock without a bra. 
Pretty perfect, if you ask me.  

p.s. What do you think of the new header? Cuter than the big rectangle, eh?

April 25, 2010

Weekly(ish) Photo Essay: The Colors Of A City

Yesterday afternoon I went out to mail a package, and I ended up taking a four and a half mile walk around the city center. It was a beautiful day - sunny, warm, full of people and life, and so colorful!

When Spring comes, this city blooms along with the flowers! Walking around yesterday, everything was positively saturated with color. From the artisan fair at Plaza EspaƱa to the children's bouncy house at Quevedo, to the dozens of scarf vendors lining the streets - walking around Madrid is like being in a color wheel!

I can't wait for the rest of the flowers to bloom!

What beautiful things has Spring brought to your city?

April 24, 2010

Six Senses Saturday

So last night instead of going out, I stayed home and finished up my Mother's Day present for my mom, and I was in bed by midnight (I was tired, it was a long week). But I figured that because I was going to be early, I would be waking up nice and early, and have the whole day to do stuff.

I just woke up. It's 3:30 pm. Apparently I was tired, and I really needed to sleep.

No worries though. Here stores are open until late, and it doesn't get dark until 9:15 pm, so I have plenty of time to run all my errands.

But seriously, if I had written this post half an hour ago, it might as well have been another fill-in the blank friday, since my senses were doing a whole lot of nothing.

(Unless dreaming counts. I was having some pretty crazy dreams, featuring the bad guy from the mask, lots of money in cash, fancy hotel rooms, and guns. I guess I was writing my own action movie!)

Right now I'm...

Coconut yogurt and some milk chocolate digestive cookies
(it seems that I'm always having breakfast when I write this!)

Not much of anything. I'm still pretty congested. 

A lovely afternoon in front of me, 
consisting of a long walk, and a bunch of fun errands!

The wind tunneling through the space between the buildings.
A stack of five of the used books that I bought two weeks ago, which I've already finished,
because when I have a craving to read, I devour books!

Like my cold is sticking around again, 
but it's nothing a brisk walk outdoors can't fix!


What are your senses doing right now? 

April 23, 2010

Blank To The Music

 Hello my lovelies! Can you tell I'm in a great mood? My pharyngitis is gone, my cold is gone, this whole week is gone, and it's Friday again! 

Is it just me, or are the weeks flying by? I feel like I just got back from Italy yesterday, and it's already the end of April! Time is weird, huh? It's so relative. A boring half hour can feel like forever, but a week can vanish, just like that!

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means! Another round of Fill-In The Blank Friday! If you play along, make sure to link up back at Lauren's!

 1.  One song that always takes me back to my youth is    "I'll Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men. Not a musical classic, but it was constantly on the radio in the 1990s - back when I actually listened to the radio!

2.  My first concert ever was    I think Incubus. At least that was my first big venue concert.  Even though I really didn't like their music. But all my friends were going, and it was out of town, and we had floor tickets, so it was fun anyway. I actually crowd-surfed onto the stage (accidentally! although I'm not so sorry that I did - shirtless Brandon Boyd was yummy!) .

3.  If I could create my dream music festival I'd want these bands to be there:    Buena Vista Social Club, Getz & Gilberto, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Diana Krall, Madeleine Peyroux, Bob Marley, Manu Chao, and Michael Buble`, because he's so cute :) 

4.  The best make-out/"boot knocking" song ever is     "Hell is Around the Corner" by Tricky & Portishead - a strange title, I know, but try listening to it without thinking of sex. Even the song climaxes!  

5.  The best concert I've ever been to was      probably one of the little dive bar concerts I went to in Montreal. Nothing in particular comes to mind - the music wasn't always that memorable - but I just remember having loads of fun every time!  .

6.  A memorable musical moment for me was     driving in the car with my mom when I was little, listening to the Gypsy Kings on cassette tape and singing "Bem Bem Bem Maria" to her (because her name is Maria) :)

7.  The song on my iPod that's getting the most play these days is     "When I Look In Your Eyes" By Diana Krall   .
So, apparently I have a really bizarre varied taste in music! 
Ah well, to each his own, n'est pas?
In other news, I'm knee-deep in in-progress tutorials right now. One for the pleated skirt - which I decided to take one step further and make reversible! - and one for Lauren's How-To Wednesday, which I totally promised I would give her last week, and I'm not even done writing it yet! Oops! :)  Plus I'm working on a little mother's day gift for my mom (which I can't talk about yet, because she reads this blog!), so I've been pretty much surrounded by sewing stuff all the time! But today is Friday, which means tomorrow is Saturday and I can sleep in! So since I'm also feeling better, I might just put all this fabric and thread aside for tonight and go have a crazy night on the town (read: dinner at a friend's and maybe going out for drinks after).
What are your big plans for the weekend?
Whatever they are, I wish you all a splendid weekend!

April 22, 2010

The Smell of Nostalgia


For almost the entire time I was living in Italy - the last two months I moved to an apartment in Parioli - I was living at my grandmother's house in Prati, a wonderful old, but not quite historic, neighborhood in Rome.

The neighborhood is called Prati - fields, in Italian - because it used to be just that, and then a residential neighborhood was built to accommodate military families between the two world wars. The buildings range from Art Deco Fabulous - my cousins live in a building with a lush courtyard filled with banana trees and a goldfish pond, and which still has the two original stairwells, ones for the lords and ladies of the house, and one for the service people - to Aristocratic Fascist - which is the category my grandmother's house falls into. Not fascist in the repressive and dictatorial sense, but rather in the dark, heavy architecture, with the military helmets carved into the enormous wooden front doors, neither of which scream free-spirited bohemian style.

Although by looking at the outside of the building - a boring, blocky cement structure - you would never be able to guess how beautiful the apartments on the inside were. All stone-tiled floors, long, aristocratic hallways with countless rooms off the side, including a double living-dining room, a study, a library, and too many bedrooms for even a summer's worth of guests to fill up.

The only drawback was that it doesn't have a terrace for those warm, July nights where dining outside is an imperative. But what the tiny balcony lacks in size, it almost makes up for in charm, giving onto the inner courtyard, which although serving only as an unattractive parking area, is surrounded by a mosaic of windows, each like a tiny television set to the single channel of a neighbor's life.

There was the thirty-something Vinn Diesel lookalike, who although bulky and intimidating physically, lived with his elderly mother, and treated his kitty with such tenderness. He also liked to walk around in his white briefs! There was the old man who would play old classical records with the windows open. The son of the facing building's doorman, who worked on his cherry-red 1950s Vespa. And the twin girls (to whom I gave English lessons) who spied on me from their bedroom window, giggling.

Having lived there for more than two years, the building is familiar to me now. But I remember when I was little, and our summer trips to Italy were almost exclusively centered around the beach house, we would rarely come into Rome to my grandmother's house. But when we did, it was such a treat! The minute those huge (I'm talking fifteen feet tall!) front doors starting creaking open - electronically, as they are too massive to open by hand - the familiar cool, vintage smells of the building would come wafting down the stairs, bringing memories of my grandparents' old things.

The cold, marble foyer steps led up to the old, original Otis elevator, with the glass-paned doors you have to open manually, and which can only go to one floor at a time. Getting up to the fourth floor, we needed a huge six inch skeleton key to open the door to the apartment, which was always a little sticky.

Inside the house, each room was full of wonderful mysteries. From the box of Carneval costumes from when my dad and his siblings were children - way back in the 1940s! - to the drawer full of unlabeled correspondence between my grandparents and their friends, to the cabinets full of old, faded photos, documenting an entire century, and the engraved silver photo album with cardboard silver gelatin prints from the late 1800s.

I could go on and on - about the ancient scale with the little brass weights, or the collection of leather bound books from the sixteenth century, or, the aluminum Christmas boxes full of old wooden toys - but I won't bore you with every little thing that used to fascinate me on these visits.

In 2007, after I graduated from college, I moved into the apartment, and that elusive place from my childhood became my home. While I lived there, the novelty wore off a bit. Not entirely, because I would occasionally find myself wandering into the always closed living rooms, sitting on the straight-backed (horribly uncomfortable!) sofa, gently flipping through my grandmother's "yearbook" - a slim leather notebook where at the end of each school year, her classmates signed their names after poems or intricate pen and ink illustrations - which dates back to 1930.

But after a while I started to carve out my own space, full of computer cables and wireless routers, books that didn't belong in a museum, and all of my clothes, and I didn't spend as much time exploring. Although every time I did look around I always found something new.

The most beautiful, heart-strings-tugging, part of the house was in my grandmother's room. Back when her own children started pairing off and getting married she started tacking up photos on a wall of her room. Slowly, over the last forty years, the wall grew into a giant collage of all her nearest and dearest, from my aunts' and uncles' weddings, to my cousins' first steps, to our big family dinners around the ping pong table at the beach house (there were always too many people for us to fit around a regular table, so on the patio we would split the ping pong table into two and seat the grown ups around one and the kids around the other). Looking at that wall was like feeling the past give me a big hug, and I couldn't help but smile and linger every time I went into my grandmother's room.

In May 2009, my grandmother passed away. She was two weeks short of her ninety-fourth birthday, and I highly doubt that anyone led a fuller, richer life than hers. She lived through both world wars, through monarchic, fascist, and finally republican Italy. She lived to see her six children grow up, achieve success in their careers, get married, and have kids; to see each of her fifteen grandchildren born and become individual people. She even lived to meet her first four great-grandchildren. She was a kind, loving, generous, and brilliant woman, and every aspect of her wonderful personality was present in that amazing old house.


When I went back to Italy for Easter I found out that the house had finally sold. It was huge, it needed a lot of work, it was expensive to keep, and it was unfeasible for the six siblings (three in Rome, two in northern Italy, and my father in the states) to jointly maintain and manage the apartment, even renting it out. So the logical solution was to sell it. At least now I know it's going to a family, and it won't be divided up into offices (the sad fate of all too many huge Prati apartments, now that families no longer have six children and live-in help), but that doesn't change the fact that I'm heartbroken to see it go. I wish I could keep the apartment, to house all of my grandparents' memories, my memories from my childhood, and even my recent memories of living there these last few years.

But I suppose I'll have to content myself with remembering that familiar smell I recognized every time I stepped into the building - the smell of nostalgia.

April 20, 2010

. . . I Could Use a Naptism


I wish I could nap with these two. That kitty looks positively blissful!


Apparently between pharyngitis and a round of heavy duty antibiotics my immune system is so down in the dumps that all it took for me to become mind-numbingly congested overnight was a couple of snotty little kids sneezing on me yesterday.

All day I've felt like there's someone jack-hammering cotton balls into my sinuses, and it is not a nice feeling.So I came home, had a snack, and went to bed. Apparently my body wasn't ready to give up dinner and sleep through the night, so I woke up, had some chicken soup and orange juice, and now that I've eaten, no amount of money in the world could keep me out of bed. There's something to be said for afternoon naps that turn into night time sleep. So glorious.