Christmas Wishes 2016

Hi friends!
christmas-2016How was your Thanksgiving? My own was just as restful as I could have hoped, allowing time for a Gilmore Girls marathon and a much-needed bookshelf reorganization and, of course, made complete by the heaping amounts of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce. It helps, too, that Turkey Day is the start to my favorite time of year, where days seem to move slower, holiday specials and Christmas music are in abundance, and there’s an extra bit of cheer in the air. I’ve made it a Ciao Bella tradition to kick off this holiday season with my yearly wishlist {catch previous editions here: 20122013, 2014, 2015} – at this point, I hope it’s no surprise that I love me some books :) What are you asking for this year?

Before we begin, a reminder: as always, these posts are only made in good fun; I love talking gifts as much as the next person, but what truly makes the holiday season is the time spent with family and friends.

[1] Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen I first came across the newly released gem Bad Girls Throughout History at my local bookstore, and after flipping through the pages, I quickly hinted to my sister that it’d make the perfect stocking stuffer. In it, Ann Shen’s wonderful illustrations accompany brief biographies about various women, from Ada Lovelace to Josephine Baker. In other words, it sounds right up my alley.

[2] In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney My collection of coffee table books grows with each Christmas, and this year is no exception; I’ve had my eyes on In the Company of Women by designer and blogger Grace Bonney since its release in October. Featuring the advice and experience of over one hundred artists and entrepreneurs, the book, I like to think, already has a home waiting for it on my nightstand.

[3] The Poet Felt Letter Board from Letterfolk While I still have quite a few months before I decide which college to attend, I’m using this Christmas to think ahead to a more fun thing: dorm decorating! I love the look of a felt letter board like the one above, and I imagine I’d have quite a bit of fun changing the messages out from week to week in my current and future rooms.

[4] Read My Lips 2017 Wall Calendar from Kate Spade Resolutions are fun, but the planner that I am, what I look forward to most in the new year is the chance to purchase a new calendar. The vintage-like designs of this Kate Spade edition have captured my heart, as have the golden-flecked constellations and florals and fauna illustrations from Rifle Paper Company. 2017, here we come.

[5] Southfield Mockneck Sweater from Madewell No wishlist is complete without a cute clothing item for the winter season! I’m crushing on the sweaters from Madewell’s most recent line, all of which look cozy and cute enough for any snow day; paired with jeans and booties, for example, this mauve “mockneck” will be a staple come January.

[6] Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover edited by Paul Buckley Penguin is a standard in book design, their covers often nearly as iconic as the stories themselves. I’d love to delve into the history of their most famous designs with the help of the book Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover by the publishing house’s creative director Paul Buckley. Knowing my interests in reading and graphic design, I’m sure it’ll be a winner.

[7] Bibliophilia: 100 Literary Postcards from Obvious State Studio The online shop Obvious State Studio too combines a love of books with a love of design, best displayed in products such as Bibliophilia: 100 Literary Postcards. Adorned with quotes from authors like Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf, the cards would be a wonderful addition to any mailbox, my bulletin board, or even my locker.

[8] This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills Though I have yet to read Mills’ debut, First & Then, I’m still anxious to add her second book, This Adventure Ends, to my bookshelf. With a gorgeous cover, a promising synopsis {the main character attempts to track down a painting on the behalf of her friends}, and strong reviews all around, I think Mills is bound to become a new favorite author of mine in the new year.

[9] Little Men This year has been bad in more ways than one, but it has nevertheless managed to produce many a terrific indie film. One I failed to see? Ira Sachs’ Little Men, a coming-of-age tale of two teenagers and their disputing families, both living in Brooklyn. It premiered to terrific reviews from both critics and audiences, so needless to say, a movie night – with popcorn and pajamas – to watch it will be needed.

[10] Ciao Marker Set from Copic Finally, I was gifted Copic markers several years ago, and they’ve remained one of my favorite presents. I use them so often in my coloring books and typography work alike, I’d love to replace my current markers with a new and just as colorful set!

Have an awesome start to your week!

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

Hello, hello!

Top Ten TuesdayHappy November, friends! How are things? For my American readers, how’s the Turkey Day preparation? I myself simply have to power through a morning of classes before I’m granted a brief four-day break. I hope to use it wisely: between the outings I have planned with friends, I’ll be reading {currently devouring Una LaMarche’s You in Five Acts – it’s a delight}, baking {this time of year calls for an abundance of cookies}, and Christmas present buying {cue the holiday fun}. In the meantime, as a small practice in gratitude, I wanted to participate in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things You’re Thankful For, a fitting prompt with Thanksgiving a mere day away. I had hoped to get this up yesterday, but expressing thanks can and should be a daily habit, yes? :) {If you too want to create a list of what you’re thankful for, you can find all of the details on The Broke and the Bookish HERE!}

FriendsTo start, perhaps it’s a bit predictable, but I’m incredibly thankful for my friends: those who’ve stuck with me since middle school, those I’ve met just this past year; those I know from working on shows together or bonding over blogging or sitting next to each other in the same class. They make me smile and laugh; they’re supportive through class president woes and never-ending tech weeks; and they are as talented and friendly of a bunch as one could ever ask for. In short? They all rock.

FamilyIn a similar vein, my family is my everything. I’m so fortunate to have loving parents who support me in all that I do; they push me to try my best, of course, but they don’t let me sacrifice what I love for what is the norm. My siblings, too, are close to my heart, my brother always ready with a comeback and my sister always ready with a hug. They make my heart swell, and needless to say, I love them a lot.

HealthIn my day-to-day routine, it’s easy for me to lose sight of all that my body enables me to do and, furthermore, it’s easy for me to take my health for granted. Type One Diabetes is no fun, but I recognize I could have to deal with far worse {consider this a shout-out, as well, to the doctors and nurses who’ve made my life – and that of so many others – both safer and easier. That’s no small task}.

EducationAs much as I complain about the workload and the early wake-up time, I’m truly thankful for the education with which I’ve been provided. Particularly now, as a senior, I’ve found time to reflect on all that my school has offered me, from the amazing teachers who’ve made their impact to the classes that have not only developed my interests, but challenged me to think differently. Education also extends to my home, where I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in a family that encourages learning of all forms.

ArtOne of my favorite quotes is “Earth without ‘art’ is just ‘eh.'” It’s good for a laugh, but it also speaks to the value that art brings to our lives. Any type of art, be it a written work, a performance, a painting, a layout, serves a purpose: to allow us to make sense of the world. I’m glad I live in a society where creativity can flourish, and in addition, I’m glad that artists go to such lengths to present pieces that ask audiences to look deeper. I think it’s just the coolest.

BooksWhat’s a world without books? One I don’t want to live in, that’s for sure. Books teach us to empathize, connect, and understand, and I feel so lucky as to have encountered such a large number of well-written novels over the years, all of which allow me to experience events and lifestyles I may never encounter outside of literature. Authors deserve many years of my gratitude for crafting such rich, creative, and influential stories, as do the booksellers, educators, and librarians that make my bookshelf feel never-ending.

TheaterI’ve spoken about my love for theater and stage managing at length here at Ciao Bella, but it bears repeating, as the auditorium has grown into my home away from home over the past several years. In theater, I’ve found both a passion and community, and I’m so appreciative of the teachers who trusted me with a headset, as well as the casts and crews who keep me coming back, production after production.

OpportunitiesWhile hard work can go a long way, I’m not blind to the privilege I’ve been afforded: in other words, I’m lucky to have so many opportunities in my reach. I live in a wonderful town; my family supports me in what I’ve done and what I hope to do; and going into next year, I have what feels like the whole world of higher education in front of me. This is a rare combination, and I can certainly do a better job using the platform I’ve been provided, particularly following the election, but today, I offer these opportunities my thanks.

YogaI’ve been practicing yoga for so long now that classes have simply settled into my weekly routine, but nevertheless, I’m so thankful it’s a form of exercise that has entered my life. While the poses have proven terrific for my flexibility, yoga also does wonders for my mental state, prompting me to find the calm when things get stressful. Or, as my yoga instructor likes to say, “wring out the ‘blah’ to bring in the good” :)

BloggingFinally, this last one was easy: I’m so thankful for all of you! Ciao Bella began as a creative outlet, but I quickly learned that blogging is just as much about interacting with readers as it is writing drafts. I feel the need to apologize with each new post – they’ve grown so sporadic – but every time I come back to write, I feel as if I’m welcomed back into the blogging community with open arms. Ciao Bella turns 5 {!!} in just a few days, a fact that wouldn’t have been made possible without your support.

Have the most wonderful Thanksgiving!

High Five / 10


high-five-tenHow are you? Hanging in there, I hope? It’s been a draining week, and I’m thankful that this long weekend offers the chance to recover {in classic Bella fashion, that means lots of reading and organizing and spending time with friends}. I hate to share another High Five so soon after Edition Nine, but it’s been so long between posts, that I’m anxious to catch up! Here are a few highlights – and things that have been on my mind – from the past couple of weeks:

[1] My sister, Lulu, is a webseries fanatic, and ever since she introduced me to the delight that is The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I’ve learned to trust her YouTube recommendations. At her urging, I recently watched Edgar Allen Poe’s Murder Mystery Party, a hilarious, high-quality series that has various authors and poets solving a set of sudden murders. What it obviously lacks in historical accuracy, it makes up in humor: Poe, a quiet, lovestruck host, attempts to distract the police from his “informal gathering;”, Mary Ann Evans tries to live up to her pen name, George Eliot, by convincing everyone she’s a man; and H.G. Wells wants to do nothing but work on his inventions. In other words? It’s all sorts of funny, and I’d suggest watching it yourself if you haven’t already – I myself can’t wait to look into the other series from Shipwrecked Comedy! Do you follow any webseries?

[2] Chalk up my recent blog disappearance to tech week, a seven-day spurt in which I spend far more time in the school auditorium than any sane person should :) In all seriousness, I had the absolute pleasure to stage manage my school’s night of one-acts. The first show of the evening was Eurydice, directed by one of my best friends so that we can later enter it into the statewide one-act play festival; written by Sarah Ruhl, it’s a powerful show, and this particular production had a variety of technical elements to keep the crew busy, from flying in string rooms to lighting trap doors. After intermission, we put on Black Comedy; as the title suggests, it’s a humorous play in which the characters are stuck in a blackout – only the audience can see everything that happens! It was an emotional week – as a senior, closing night certainly hit home – but it’s not quite over yet; I’m so excited to continue with our festival entry into the spring. For my fellow drama friends, are you working on any productions at the moment?

[3] Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but I won’t lie, my mind has already moved to the next holiday: Christmas! I adore the holiday season, and I’m already counting down the days until the specials are on television and I can pull out my festive sweaters and cookie recipes. Fortunately, I’m not only the one who thinks Christmas music is appropriate the day after Halloween; my favorite indie duo, She & Him, released their second holiday album, Christmas Party, just a few weeks ago. As is to be expected, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward’s sixth collaboration is excellent, bringing their signature retro, simple sound to Christmas classics, like “Run Run Rudolph” or my favorite, “Christmas Memories.” Needless to say, I’ll be playing this on my way to school for weeks to come! What about you? Do you like holiday music, or would you rather it never hit the radio?

[4] Besides listening to Christmas music on repeat, I’ve found the holiday spirit in another form: coloring! Johanna Basford, who might as well be credited with the adult coloring book trend, just released yet another book, Johanna’s Christmas, and it perfectly captures the holiday season. Her illustrations – think nutcrackers, reindeer, and ornaments – are incredibly intricate, and I’ve found them so fun to color during family movie nights or in between study sessions. The improvements, including thicker cardstock and one-sided pages, are much appreciated by this tried-and-true Sharpie user, and you can be sure I’ll be coloring up until Christmas Day. Have you jumped on the coloring book trend at all?

[5] Finally, I often leave politics out of Ciao Bella – I like to keep it as a respite from the ugliness of the news – but the results of this week’s election, I believe, warrant a mention. And there’s no dodging it: I’m devastated. I’ve had a pit in my stomach for days, and I’ve yet to accept the fact {I keep thinking I’ll wake up to find that this was an awful dream}.

As I’ve mulled it all over, here are a few links I’ve come across {if you fancy a read, and you’re ready for it}:
The Hard Question Isn’t Why Clinton Lost – It’s Why Trump Won
Why Did You Vote for Trump?
How Do You Handle the Results of This Election?
Donald Trump Wins. Now What?
Girls Can Be Anything, Just Not President
And here’s something happy to end on: Something to Celebrate: 6 Women Who Won Historic Firsts

I hope this election will stir people, myself included, into action {One way to start? Expand who you follow across social media. A variety of voices and perspectives is important if we want to move forward}. I know kindness will prevail. In the meantime, be a friend to your loved ones and strangers, because as the wonderful Phillipa Soo tweeted, “love needs our minds, bodies, and voices to send it great distances.” We can do this.

xo, B

Psst. All credit to Penelope Dullaghan for that lovely flag illustration.