High Five / 18

Hello, hello friends!

How are you? How are things? It’s certainly been a second since I last checked in here on Ciao Bella – a whole semester, in fact! I won’t kid myself in thinking I’ll maintain a regular pattern of posting this summer – blogging alongside my other commitments has proven a difficult balance – but I hope to pop in time from time all the same (like today!). This site holds a special place in my heart, and I like that it keeps me writing and designing and thinking, even if on a sporadic basis :-)

At the moment, I’m at the start of my summer break, figuring out a new daily rhythm of internship schedules, evening runs, and, of course, dedicated time to my library books – there’s no better season than the summertime for a YA reading binge. With much to catch up on, I figured a High Five would be a good place to start, and so, here’s what been on my radar as of late. What’s up in your world?

High Five 18[1] I’ll start with the music that carried me through finals period: the cast recording of Six. A smash hit on the West End, Six brings together the six wives of Henry VIII as a modern girl group in concert musical form. If it sounds a bit silly, you’d be right: it’s a fun piece, but perfectly and delightfully so, combining the Tudor history with upbeat tracks and empowering lyrics. In other words, it’s the musical theatre I love, and so it comes as little surprise that it’s sprung to the top of my playlist for runs, writing sessions, and errands around town. I have my fingers crossed I’ll catch its run at the ART later this summer, but I don’t think it’ll be long until the show finds a home on the Great White Way too.

[2] Watching the trailer for Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, earlier this year, I was instantly sold – and in anxious anticipation for the film’s release! Fortunately, the wait until Memorial Day was entirely worth it: the movie had me laughing out loud, cringing in empathy, and smiling ear to ear by its end. If you haven’t yet seen it, you’re missing out. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein are a lovely and humorous duo as best friends Amy and Molly, and their escapades during their last night before graduation are portrayed with comedic brilliance. I can’t champion it enough, and I hope it lasts long on the list of classic high school films. Three cheers for stories by women and with women at the forefront.

[3] Similarly, my social media feeds were all abuzz with praise this past weekend over the second season premiere of Fleabag. It was good timing, for when I was in need of a new television show to watch, I knew exactly what to try. Several episodes in, I’m with the widespread acclaim: Phoebe Waller-Bridges’ creation is both witty and insightful as it chronicles the life of protagonist, Fleabag, as she copes with a recent tragedy. I’m making my way through Season One now, but at the rate I’m going, it should only be a few more days before I’m itching to watch it all again for a second time. Needless to say, consider me a full-fledged fan.

[4] As any undergraduate well knows, May can be a whirlwind of a month, oftentimes feeling like a marathon to the end of the academic year. After turning in my final papers, wrapping up play rehearsals, and holding my last club meetings, I finished off my semester by stage-managing the Brown baccalaureate ceremony. By the sheer number of people alone, the service can bring its own challenges for an SM, but it stands as such as a sweet way to say goodbye to a class of people I dearly love (that John Krasinski returned to Providence for the Baccalaureate address was a neat added plus). Campus bustles with celebrating families and returning alums during Commencement Weekend, marking too another exciting milestone: that I can now consider myself an upperclassman (!!!).

[5] And, with that, while my summer has only just started, I’ll admit that I’m already dreaming about the fall, for come September, I will be studying abroad at Goldsmiths, University of London! Located in New Cross, London, Goldsmiths specializes in the arts and humanities, a fitting match for this theatre and education student. I am over the moon with excitement about the courses I’ll be taking, and my bucket list of places to visit and shows to attend grows by the day. That in mind, if you’ve studied or lived in the UK, I’d love to hear from you about must-see spots – I know my three months abroad will go quickly, and I want to soak up as much as I can! Let the countdown to London begin.

Thank you, as always, for checking in, and wishing you a lovely and restful weekend. xx

Ginger Apple Crumble

Hello, hello!

ginger apple crumbleHappy Friday, friends. How was your week? Snow is in the forecast for the weekend, and while I have to reserve time to pack and prep for the start of the semester (daily calls unfortunately don’t send themselves), I know I’ll also be baking up a storm with these last few days I have at home. If your weekend plans look similar, let me suggest a new recipe favorite: Ginger Apple Crumble, from Deb Perelman’s terrific cookbook Smitten Kitchen Every Day. Crumble goes by many names, but any combination of fruit with a topping of butter, sugar, and flour is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, especially as the temperatures fall, meals linger on, and the call to bake and savor a warm dessert is hard to resist.

In fact, you could consider this a cozy winter afternoon in a dish. The flavor profile is certainly reminiscent of one, pairing a heavy but delightful dose of ginger with tart, cinnamon-dusted apples. You could make it for the spices alone, but part of a crumble’s appeal too, I think, is the simple comfort in putting it together: the peeling apples and zesting lemons and sprinkling dough. Needless to say, a recipe this rewarding begs to be tested.

That in mind, before you start, a small kitchen note: I like crumbles served warm right from the oven—you could say I’m a touch impatient—but my family has found this just as tasty stored in the fridge and warmed again when the craving strikes. Not that it lasts long in our kitchen—nor, do I imagine, will it in yours!

Ginger Apple Crumble Loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman

ingredients for the apple filling

  • 3 large, tart baking apples (I used Granny Smith!)
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • A pinch of salt

ingredients for the topping

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger

to make

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking dish.
  2. Peel, halve, and core the apples. Cut pieces into one-inch wedges, and arrange in a single layer in prepared baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, sugar, and salt. Pour over apples and mix to coat them. Set aside.
  4. Melt the butter in a large bowl. Stir in the sugars, salt, baking powder, and ginger.
  5. Slowly mix in the flour and candied ginger. Clumps should naturally form with the addition of the flour, but if not, add a tablespoon of flour and continue to mix.
  6. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the apples.
  7. Bake crumble for 40-45 minutes. Crumble should be lightly browned.
  8. Let cool for ten minutes, and then enjoy!

Have the most wonderful weekend!

Nineteen Anticipated Releases for 2019


Happy Tuesday! How is your week going? Restful and well, I hope.

I’m popping in today to share a post I look forward to yearly: my most anticipated book releases! Drafting the list always feels a bit like Christmas, so giddy am I over the many terrific titles hitting shelves (I’m an easy bookworm to please).

A long post awaits, so I’ll make only a few brief notes. I’ve added to my draft of this post in spurts, so I apologize in advance if any of the release dates below have since shifted -the publishing world moves fast! True to the Top Ten Tuesday prompt, I’ve listed only books that come out in the first half of the year, so there’s nothing here released after June (I’m looking at you, The Map From Here to There). And finally, if you have a list of your own you’d like to link up, you can read about Top Ten Tuesday and do so here.

Here’s to a year of good books and much reading. What 2019 releases can’t you wait to read?

Famous in a Small Town by Emma MillsTo start, I’m counting down the days until Famous in a Small Town, the latest from Emma Mills, arrives in my mailbox (thankfully, there’s only a week to go!). I’ll take cute small-town contemporaries any day, and this one – with promises of tight-knit friendships and humorous revenge plots – sounds like an utter delight. I can’t wait. [Release Date: January 15]

StepsisterAuthor Jennifer Donnelly is known more for her gripping historical fiction than her fantasy retellings, but that just makes me even more excited to read Stepsister, her newest novel, once it hits shelves. Pitched as a “startling, fiercely feminist re-imagining of Cinderella,” the story is told through the eyes of one of Ella’s stepsisters. I’m already hooked. [Release Date: May 28]

Dig by A.S. KingThat I haven’t yet read anything by A.S. King is a fact I hope to remedy in 2019, an easy task with the release of her novel Dig in March. The summary is vague, but complicated family histories, surrealist narratives, and themes of legacy and power sound right up my alley – and, frankly, all more relevant than ever. [Release Date: March 26]

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