High Five / 12


high-five-12How are things, friends? Anything planned for your Sunday? Yesterday kicked off my February break, and so I’m relishing the time I have at home, taking the opportunity to catch up on calculus problems and yearbook spreads, try a few recipes I’ve bookmarked {like this one!}, and make my way through the growing pile of books by my bed {Currently on my nightstand is Corey Ann Haydu’s The Careful Undressing of Love and Mara Wilson’s memoir Where Am I Now?}. 

This vacation also gives me the chance to return to Ciao Bella – it’s been left untouched too long for my liking, if only because I wanted to wrap up my first semester and start my second on a good note. As a means to catch up – and a way to jump back into this blogging thing once again – I thought I’d share another edition of High Five. Any highlights of your own to share?

[1] First, Teen Vogue has been receiving widespread acclaim as of late, and for good reason: their editorial and artistic direction has been top-notch over the past several months. Editor-in-Chief Elaine Wentworth, digital director Phillip Picardi, and creative director Marie Suter are a team to be reckoned with, and I’ve found their content not only enjoyable, but informative, with a range of everything from an interview with their cover model Bella Hadid to fact checks on the Trump administration. ith the recent unfounded attacks on the press, I can think of no better way to resist such claims than to support the publications that consistently do it right. The new issue, a different approach from previous years in that it’s pitched more as a “collectible” than a monthly magazine, has yet to hit my mailbox, but I’ll be sitting down to read it cover to cover as soon as it does.

[2] More often than not, if I’m not reading or working on homework, you can find me at rehearsal, a statement that sums up my afterschool schedule over the past few weeks. This month has had me working on three productions: I’m coordinating auditions and early rehearsals for the local community theater’s The Great American Trailer Park Musical; I’m stage managing my school’s entry into the state one-act play festival, and I just wrapped up the tech week and performances for this year’s Cabaret, the choir showcase at my school. Needless to say, I feel as if I’ve seen enough cue sheets and rehearsal schedules to last me a lifetime, but it helps that I’m having a blast while doing so :) Cabaret marks the beginning of the end for us seniors involved in the drama department, and I know graduation and my last musical and “Tony Night” will be here before I know it. For any other high school seniors, is your year flying by as quickly as mine?

[3] In other theatrical news, my mom, sister, and I were lucky enough to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time when it stopped in Providence on its national tour, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Tony winner of Best Play in 2015, the production tells the story of fifteen-year old Christopher as the he unravels the mystery of the relationship between his mother and father. The actors were all stellar, as was the intricate choreography, but the stage manager in me was most impressed with the projections, used to give a sense of time and place {you can a glimpse in the photo above}. After seeing the company bring the story to life on stage, I’m anxious to read the book that shares its title, as I’ve heard nothing but good things. Have you read and/or seen The Curious Incident at all?

[4] Have you heard of the CW gem, iZombie? I myself had not until my sister introduced it to me on Netflix, and I only regret not watching it sooner! As someone who shamelessly devours mystery novels and who will gladly watch any and all detective shows, the program – which premiered in early 2015 and which was inspired by Rob Thomas’ comic of the same name – is right up my alley, following a doctor-turned-zombie whose abilities become an asset to the local police department. With actress Rose McIver as the main character Liv Moore, the cast seems to have a tight bond, both on and off the screen; the story, meanwhile, is the perfect blend of humor, horror, and suspense, garnering a number of fans, myself now included. Already eight episodes in, I have my fingers crossed that my sister and I can bring ourselves up to speed before the third season starts in April.

[5] Finally, if you’re searching for some new songs to jazz up your playlist, look no further than the soundtrack for Dear Evan Hansen, one of the most recent musicals to open on Broadway. With lyrics and music from the songwriting team Pasek and Paul {they’re the duo behind Dogfight, another favorite of mine}, the show explores the role of social media and the definition of an “outsider” as the title character forges a friendship after the death of a classmate. All fourteen tracks are worth a listen, in thanks to incredible voices of Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, and the rest of the company, but I particularly enjoy “Waving Through a Window” and “Requiem.” What music have you been listening to lately?

And with that, I wish you a lovely Sunday!
xo, B

Currently: January 2017

Hello friends!

What a week it’s been. My heart aches for the families hurt and affected by the ban {and any and all other policies recently enacted by the new American administration}, but I’m heartened by the number of swift protests that took place in response. It gives me hope for the future – that no matter how bad things get, there’s always a community ready and wiling to fight back – and reminds me to do my own part daily.

With that said, I would also like to apologize for my brief hiatus. School and life commitments took first priority, but I can’t ignore the nagging thought I’ve had in the back of my mind: I’m not sure what relevancy my typical way of blogging has at this time. Please don’t take this as a message of goodbye – I love Ciao Bella and the space it has grown into, and I have no current plans to give it up – but I admit, I struggle to write about books and art and baking, things I hold dearly to my heart, when it seems that a country I so greatly admire is falling apart. Doing so feels to me as if writing in a vacuum, sharing posts, but ignoring what is happening in the world, and that simply doesn’t sit right with me.

It’s what I ponder on this Tuesday morning, and I’m curious to hear what you think, how, if you’re a fellow blogger, you’re striking a balance between the two and how you plan to move forward {I’m still not sure myself}. In the meantime, as a way to catch up after my blogging break, I offer a “Currently” post, a collection of things that have been on mind and/or have brightened my day in recent weeks. I hope they do the same for you.

bright-starListening: Bright Star Soundtrack | It’s no secret that I love me a musical soundtrack, from the raps of Hamilton to the sweet ballads of Dogfight. After the past several weeks, I can now add the songs from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star to my favorites list! The production is no longer on Broadway {it debuted last spring, but came to a quick close in June}, but I’ve nevertheless taken to listening to the soundtrack in full while studying or writing. And if there’s anything more interesting than the music of the production – a folksy collection that has roots in bluegrass – it’s the inspiration behind it: Martin and Brickell took to work after coming across the story of the Iron Mountain Baby. What music have you been listening to as of late?

a-series-of-unfortunate-eventsWatching: A Series of Unfortunate Events | If the critical acclaim is any indication, then I’m not the only one who spent much of this month binge-watching the eight episodes of Netflix’s newest hit, an adaptation of David Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Starring Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf and supported by a stellar cast, the show brings the first four books in the series to the small screen, and it is all at once whimsical and witty, funny and frightening {Because for every dose of humor is one of reality}. The production design too is stellar, making it all too easy to escape into the somber world of the Baudelaire children. I found that it was the perfect antidote when home sick last week with a nasty fever/stomach bug virus; my only remaining wish is that the second season would already be available for streaming!

mary-tyler-mooreMissing: Mary Tyler Moore | In more dismaying news, I was saddened to hear of Mary Tyler Moore’s passing. Clearly, I’m a few generations off of her rise on television, but I nevertheless have fond memories of watching and laughing through episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my dad. Additionally, if only because one rarely sees a T1 diabetic in the world of Hollywood, I always admired her advocacy for the disease, efforts that I’m sure changed the lives of many. I hope the funny ladies of today – again, many a woman I admire and respect – continue to carry on in her name.

the-mountaintop-trinity-repLoving: The Mountaintop | For the play-loving bunch, you may recognize The Mountaintop as Katori Hall’s award-winning show in which audiences are given a glimpse into the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. It’s a fantastic show in it of itself, but Trinity Rep’s production, running now until mid-February, elevates it to another level. I was fortunate enough to catch a performance with my sister, dad, and friend, and I was captivated from beginning to end, not in the least because the acting is impeccable {kudos to Joe Wilson Jr. and Mia Ellis}, the technical elements are transformative, and the story is relevant. I’d go again in a heartbeat, but needless to say, if you’re in the Providence area, you’d do well to see it yourself.

dead-feministsReading: Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color by Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring | Finally, have you ever heard of the Dead Feminists series? I was fortunate enough to receive the published collection of the popular broadsides as a Christmas present, and, just as I’ve done with In the Company of Women, I’ve poured over the pages, which explain the reasoning behind each piece and insight into each woman’s life, night after night. O’Leary and Spring are both talented artists in their respective fields, and I love how they’ve combined not only their skill with a love of history, but also how they’ve used their series as a call to action, an important reminder if I ever saw one. {If you need another book recommendation, I also just wrapped up the middle grade anthology Flying Lessons and Other Stories, which is a complete and utter delight worth picking up}.

And with that, I wish you all lots of love. I’m keeping this quote, from the forever-inspiring Carrie Fisher, in mind as I kick off the new month {and my final semester!}: “Take your broken heart, make it into art.” As always, wise words.


Eye on Art / 17

Hi friends!

Eye on ArtHappy Wednesday! This week is zipping right along, but with the end of the first semester a mere two weeks away, I’m not surprised. Things are busy, but I’m having a blast; if my friends who have since graduated are correct, senior year only gets better from here! Before I work on my homework assignments and obsess over This is Us {did you catch last night’s episode?}, I’d thought I pop in with a new post. I last wrote an Eye on Art in September – a wait far too long for my liking – and so, I wanted to share an edition to highlight the work of three talented artists: one who specializes in screen-printing, another in illustration, and the last in photography. Have you been crushing on any artwork as of late? How are things on your end?

boyoun-kimFirst on my list is Boyoun Kim, an illustrator based in New York whose portfolio extends across numerous publications, including The New Yorker and The Washington Post. Boyoun uses the process of screen-printing to produce such vibrant pieces as the ones above, which may explain why I was so taken with her portfolio; her bright and colorful palette is hard to ignore!

Naturally, her skill set is suited well to landscape prints, be it a snowy ski village dotted with pink and brown houses or the pyramids in Egypt, the sky a brilliant blue against the saturated sand. My personal favorite, however, is her city skyline, complete with a person flying overhead with a balloon. Needless to say, her eye for color and pattern is unmatched. {website}

nina-cosfordNina Cosford’s work too evokes a sense of playfulness, a thread that runs throughout her lengthy portfolio of prints, paintings, and patterns. With a penchant for charming characters and architecture, she’s known for her distinct style of illustration and sense of humor {her social media feeds are not only appealing to the eye, they make me laugh too!}.

Nina is perhaps best known for her collaboration with HBO for the television show Girls, where she illustrated a number of quotes and characters from the program, but I myself am partial to her contributions to the Life Portraits book series {it’s the Jane Austen fan in me}, even if I’ve yet to grab an example from the library. I’ll have to change that soon, for her newest book My Name is Girl, both written and illustrated by her, sounds right up my alley. {website}

amy-friendFinally, one glance at Amy Friend’s work, and I was in love. And how could I not? At once ethereal and honest, dark and light, her portfolio of photographs and paintings is captivating online – I can only imagine their power in person! As she herself has said, art is a means for her to explore “the relationship between what is visible and non-visible.”

Amy has a number of collections, all of which I’d be happy to buy a piece from, but after reading through the inspiration behind the Dare Alla Luce pieces, I’ve mulled over the photographs for days; in them, she’s uses pinpricks of light to reinvent a number of vintage photographs. If you ask me, there’s nothing better than art like this that makes you think. {website}

Have a lovely day!