Currently: July 2017

Hi friends!

How are you? When I’m away from the blog for a little bit, I like to return with some sort of update, like a High Five or, like today, a Currently post! I’ve done them a few times over the past year or so, and I like that it presents the perfect opportunity to share all that’s brightened my world. What’s new on your end?

A Piece of Work Abbi JacobsonListening: “A Piece of Work” podcast | To kick things off, I’m loving the new podcast, “A Piece of Work.” A collaboration between actress Abbi Jacobson and the Museum of Modern Art, it explores and explains some of the most popular pieces of contemporary art, from Jackson Pollock drip paintings to Meret Oppenheim’s fur-covered teacup. Host Jacobson knows her stuff – she studied fine arts at MICA before hitting the comedy scene – and yet, her sense of humor and lineup of friendly and relatable guests make the podcast accessible to even those who know next to nothing about art. My favorite episode thus far has been Questlove’s reflection on slowing down and the use of monochromatic art to do so, but there’s still more to be heard: new episodes will continue to roll out on Monday and Wednesday over the next few weeks (but in the meantime, perhaps I should check out Broad City for myself!).

Love, Hate, and Other FiltersReading: Love, Hate, and Other Filters | My recent nights have been booked with work, rehearsals, or outings with friends, so I’ve been using my afternoons, quieter in comparison, to make a sizeable dent in my reading pile. I have reviews planned for several of these novels – thank goodness that the summertime allows for so much reading and writing – but given that Samira Ahmed’s debut Love, Hate, and Other Filters doesn’t hit shelves until January, I think it deserves a small shout-out now. The protagonist Maya is as realistically drawn as they come; the romances are sweet and well-explored, and Ahmed doesn’t back down from writing about the Islamophobia that hurts so many families today. Needless to say, if this book is any indication, 2018 is looking bright in the YA publishing world (and a HUGE thank you to Emily and Tamara, who both organized the ARC tour!).

Smitten Kitchen Zucchini BreadEating: Zucchini Bread | I’ve said it before here on Ciao Bella, but my baking habits are largely shaped by what fruits and vegetables are in season, and with a farmer’s market right down my street, picking up fresh ingredients to use is a breeze. A summer favorite? Zucchini! Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for zucchini bread couldn’t be any easier to whip up, and it makes the perfect breakfast treat or afternoon snack. Feel free to have it twice in a day – your secret will be safe with me.

The Beautiful FantasticWatching: The Beautiful Fantastic | It isn’t summer vacation without a slew of movie nights, and thankfully, this past month has been full of them. While I’ve enjoyed them all, my favorite of the bunch thus far is a film I imagine few have heard about: The Beautiful Fantastic, a charming British comedy that employs the talents of Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, and Tom Wilkinson. Described as “a contemporary fairy tale,” it follows the friendship that blossoms between the main character Bella and her elderly, rich neighbor as she tends to her overgrown garden. It’s heavy on the twee, quirky, and whimsical, but with a stellar cast and shots of gorgeous gardens, who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

Trinity Rep Shakespeare en El VeranoGoing: Trinity Rep’s Shakespeare en El Verano | One of the best parts about attending Brown next year, in my book anyways, is the city: Providence is bursting with plenty of fun restaurants, stores, and cultural events! Case in point? Trinity Rep’s Shakespeare en El Verano, a summer-long series that takes a cue from The Public’s Shakespeare in the Park by presenting free performances of Romeo and Juliet across Rhode Island; it furthers the mission of accessibility by blending Spanish into the actors’ dialogue. I saw a recent performance at Waterfire and left thoroughly impressed with the use of the space and diction to tell the story we all know well. It has me excited to return for Trinity Rep’s 2017-18 season – those student discounts will come in handy :)

Girls at LibraryLoving: Girls at Library | Though they’ve been active since 2015, it was only just recently that I stumbled upon the website Girls at Library, an online journal devoted to celebrating the power of literature. I was quickly drawn in by the stunning, minimalistic design, but stayed when I read more into their aim: “[promoting] reading as a constructive and enriching act for everyone,” a goal they complete by interviewing a wide range of readers, from a fashion designer to a singer and songwriter, for their book recommendations. There’s no better combination than stunning photography, candid articles, and women who like to read, if you ask me.

Natasha, Pierrem and The Great Comet of 1812Excited for: Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 | Finally, I can’t wait for the coming weekend, as my mom, sister, and I have tickets to see Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812! The show has been praised by audiences and critics alike, and for good reason: Dave Malloy’s score takes inspiration from War and Peace to create a unique musical experience of love and growing old (the cast’s lively and energetic performance at the Tony’s provides quite the glimpse). I’ve had the cast recording on repeat all week, to the point that you might say I’m a tad obsessed, but then again, can you blame me? Saturday couldn’t come soon enough.

Wishing you all a wonderful day!
B

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Do Tell / Current Playlist

Hello!

Do TellHow are things, friends? Are you enjoying the summer? I know I am! While I look to finish my current read {The Tsar of Love and Techno, as excellent as promised} and prepare for work and rehearsal, I thought I’d also pop in to post this month’s Do Tell: a look at the music I’ve been listening to as of late! I don’t share these albums because the artists are unknown, but because, such is the case with books, it’s all the more fun when you have fellow fans of the same bands to share the love with :) What music has made up your summer playlist?

Bea Miller Chapter Two RedFirst up is Bea Miller, who some may recognize from the second season of The X-Factor. I myself did not, instead reading about her most recent songs across social media. Curiosity got the best of me, and I’m thankful it did, for Chapter Two: Red {and its predecessor, Chapter One: Blue} are lyrical, emotional, and make my Spotify listening sessions all the better. Word on the street is that Chapter Three: Yellow will be out next month — and you can bet my playlist is ready.

favorite track(s): Like That

Valerie June The Order of TimeMy friends all well know my dislike of contemporary country music, but mention a folk album and I’m all ears. It’s my interest in the genre that led me to Valerie June’s The Order of Time, which I believe is, in agreement with Rolling Stone, “near-perfect front to back. It’s the best album to have playing while I brainstorm before bed, not in the least because I find her trademark banjo and distinctive voice so soothing.

favorite track(s): If And, With You

The Wild Party Original Cast RecordingA summer day rarely goes by without listening to a musical of some sort, be it the whimsical tracks from Amélie or the soaring ballads of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. My current favorite, however, hails from 1999: Andrew Lippa’s off-Broadway gem The Wild Party, based after the poem of the same name. It’s a little funky, a little jazzy, and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but I happen to love it {and I now want to track down a production of the show!}.

favorite track(s): Queenie Was a Blonde, The Juggernaut

San Cisco The WaterJust as I often pick up a book for its cover alone, I first listened to The Water, one of the band San Cisco’s many albums, based on the colorful artwork gracing the cover of the album. Fortunately, the ten tracks on the LP are just as fun and upbeat as the illustration suggests, creating a dreamy, retro-inspired soundtrack for the summer months. Evocative of beach days and nights on the dance floor, I could listen to it all week long.

favorite track(s): SloMo, Make Me Electrify

Lorde MelodramaAt some level, Lorde needs no further explanation; who hasn’t already heard the pop queen’s masterful sophomore album? Nevertheless, I would be remiss not to include Melodrama, for I don’t think I’ve listened to an album as frequently as I have hers this summer. The wait between LPs was long, but entirely worth it for a concept album that is just as thought-provoking as it is ethereal. Simply put: I’m a Lorde fan, through and through.

favorite track(s): Writer in the Dark, The Louvre

Middle KidsIf you too are a fan of HAIM {isn’t their newest album a delight?}, let me recommend to you Middle Kids, an Australian-based indie group whose six songs remind me of my favorite California sisters. With vocalist Hannah Joy at the helm and an indie-rock formula that serves them well, their EP is brimming with potential for a full-length album. I consider them a hidden gem, a band that I can only hope gets more attention in the future.

favorite track(s): Fire in Your Eyes, Doing It Right

Bleachers Gone NowGiven my Lorde love, it’s little surprise that I enjoy the music of her producer Jack Antonoff as well. A talented and well-established artist in his own right, his album Gone Now has grown into a full-fledged favorite of mine, the 90’s inspired hits often blasting while I bake in the kitchen. It hasn’t been a critical hit, but I personally dig the nostalgia and loneliness that define the album.

favorite track(s): Foreign Girls, Everybody Lost Somebody

Oh Wonder UltralifeFinally, I can credit Aneeqah with my current obsession with the British pop duo Oh Wonder. After seeing her tweet about the two singers, I was quick to look them up and even quicker to fall in love with their debut album and the singles from their upcoming LP, Ultralife. The pair isn’t afraid to acknowledge their own quirkiness, which is perhaps why I’ve fallen in love with their sound: electropop at its finest.

favorite track(s): High on Humans, Ultralife

Have a terrific Tuesday!

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Birthday Wishes 2017

Hi friends!

Birthday Wishlist 2017Happy July! How was your weekend? Have you been soaking up the summer sun? If the long lines at the ice cream shop and the heavy morning humidity are any indication, summer has officially arrived, and with this new month comes festive fireworks, plenty of watermelon, and, of course, my birthday! In keeping with Ciao Bella tradition, I’m popping in to share the items that made my wishlist this year. Let it be no surprise, that it is, as always, heavily made up of books.

Before the fun begins, these posts are made with no expectation of receiving everything—the online browsing is fun enough as it is!

[1] HAIM: Something to Tell You I have been a fan of California-born girl band HAIM ever since I stumbled upon their single “The Wire” years ago. As much as I enjoy their first LP, however, I’ve been anxious for the release of Something to Tell You, their sophomore album that is said to echo the pop-rock classics of decades past. I’ll be streaming the tracks on Friday, no doubt, but I would also appreciate having a CD on hand in the car.

[2] Land of Nod Daisy Throw Pillow The cinder block walls and sparse furniture of college dorm rooms call for some personalization, or so I like to tell myself as I shop on end for art prints and throw pillows! With a color palette chosen and a vision in mind, I’m asking for a few things to round out my dorm room design, one of which is this daisy pillow from Land of Nod.

[3] Their Finest When it comes to summer movie nights, I’m not one for action-packed blockbusters—give me a historical picture or a touching coming of age over a superhero story any day. With that in mind, the recent film Their Finest seemed right up my alley, highlighting the work done by two scriptwriters for British propaganda pieces during World War II. I missed it when it hit theaters, but I’d love to fit in a viewing before I head off to school.

[4] Twist by Martha Collison Given how often and how highly I speak of Mel, Sue, and Mary, it’s no secret that I am a proud Great British Bake-Off fan {I often joke that there’s no more “Bella” of a show on television}. Series Five participant Martha remains one of my favorite contestants to have entered the tent, so I would be giddy with excitement to receive the US edition of her cookbook Twist. Doesn’t the cover alone make you hungry?

[5] If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak I can never wrap my head around how quickly time seems to pass. Case in point: I wrote about the novel If Birds Fly Back, back in January, and though it feels like just yesterday, it has already hit shelves! My interest in the book hasn’t diminished since then, with no thanks to early reviews that praise the two main characters and the writing of debut author Carlie Sorosiak. I can’t wait to have a copy of my own.

[6] The Future is Female Tee I love me a good graphic tee as much as the next person, but a shirt is all the better when it shares an important message. I’ve been eyeing Otherwild’s famous “Future is Female” tee for several months now, but I haven’t managed to actually purchase one in that time. Here’s hoping my birthday brings one to my wardrobe, serving as a visual reminder to stand up and do my part.

[7] All This and More Print I may want a few pillows for my new bed, but for the dorm walls, I’ve bookmarked printables, posters, and prints galore. On that list is a piece from a favorite artist of mine, Jessica Hische, whose work—and career!—I’ve admired for ages. The retro letterforms of her “All This and More” print are stunning and will no doubt please the graphic designer in me, day in and day out.

[8] Vera Bradley Iconic Campus Deluxe Backpack Another item I hope to have on hand before heading off to college is a new backpack, for, as my mom likes to say, entering a new school is as good of an occasion as any to purchase one. My Vera Bradley Campus Backpack held up well throughout high school, but this time around, I couldn’t help but fall for the gorgeous “Falling Flowers” pattern from their autumn collection, no pun intended.

[9] Stationary Fever by John Z. Komurki Finally, few things make me as excited as new school supplies or a good book {I’m easily pleased}. Put them together, and I’m one happy camper, as was certainly the case when I came across the book Stationary Fever, an informative volume that chronicles the history of office supplies. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I myself look forward to reading about the items that make up my favorite stationary shops.

For my American readers, enjoy the Fourth! For everyone else, have a lovely Monday.
B

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