Currently: December 2018

Hello, hello!

Long time, no see, dear friends! It’s been quite a while since I last checked in on this little site, but I hope you’ll forgive me. This fall semester was a doozy, and I feel like it’s only now – post-finals and post-holidays – that I’ve been able to catch my breath. Fortunately, my break lasts for a blissful few weeks, during which I’m looking forward to reading quite a few books, crafting up a storm, and catching up with my close friends from home. I’m hoping to blog a bit as well (I’ve missed it!), so to ease back into the swing of things, here’s a Currently post, summing up the little things I’ve enjoyed as of late.

Before that fun, tell me also: how has your December been? If you celebrate, did you have a nice Christmas? What have you been reading / watching / loving lately? I’m all ears.

The Favourite Movie 2018Watching: The Favourite | First, The Favourite lives up to its name: alongside Eighth Grade, it ranks as one of my favorite films of the year. Chronicling the relationship between Queen Anne, her advisor Lady Sarah, and newest employee Abigail, it’s dark comedy at its finest. Oliva Colman, Rachel Weisz, and Emma Stone are a trio for the ages, and though Lulu and I saw it last week, the last scene still has my mind whirling. The costumes and cinematography too are worthy of praise, immersing you fully in the world of early-1700s Great Britain. I imagine it’ll be in theatres through January, so there’s plenty of time to catch a viewing for yourself. Are there are any movies you hope to see this winter? (I have Roma on queue and If Beale Street Could Talk on my list!).

Sibylle Baier Colour Green{via}

Listening: Sibylle Baier’s Colour Green | We’ve had Christmas music on repeat and will for another few days or so – I could listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole croon for hours on end – but when I need a break from the holiday carols, I’ve been turning to Sibylle Baier’s album Colour Green. I stumbled upon it by chance but quickly fell for her wistful vocals and earnest lyrics, especially in the opening song, “Tonight.” I’m not the only one who was immediately enraptured with the fourteen-track album: Baier quietly recorded it in the ’70s, and it would have been left unheard had her son not discovered and reissued it in 2006 (you can read the full story HERE – it’s an interesting one!). It’s my current go-to while writing and baking, but I have a feeling it’ll be my studying music of choice once school starts up again as well.

Twenty Stories{via}

Going: Twenty Stories | When I walked into Twenty Stories, I immediately felt at home and at peace – call it the power of a good bookstore. Currently housed in the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI, the shop can actually be found on the road in warmer months in a book truck; their mission is to “[mobilize] the literary arts” by offering a monthly curated selection of twenty books and literary magazines. The premise is a brilliant one, and I love their dedication to championing new and diverse authors. I’m hoping to fit in one or two trips more while I’m home (alongside visits to the Pawtucket’s Farmers Market, another Rhode Island favorite), and if I don’t leave with a new book in hand, I’ll certainly exit with a long list of titles to research. If you’re in the area, definitely stop in.

Christmas CookiesEating: Christmas cookies | The holidays offer no shortage of delicious meals, but what I look forward to most come December is the cookie baking, a staple activity in my family’s Christmas schedule. Numerous recipes and cookie boxes later, we’re finishing off the last few batches now (as well as eating the remnants of this yummy chocolate pudding pie), but if you’re looking for a New Year’s treat, here’s a sample of what we made: Shortbread Snowflakes, Gingerbread Men, Gingersnaps, Fudgy Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Toffee Bars. And of course, I can’t wait to continue baking and cooking while I’m home. In preparation, I’ve bookmarked recipes galore in my collection of cookbooks, but if you have any recommendations, do share – I’d love to hear!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 2Loving: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel | Finally, since I devoured the first season last winter, I’ve anxiously been awaiting the release of more The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel episodes. I’m happy to say that Season 2 doesn’t disappoint. Amy Sherman-Palladino’s dive into 1950s comedy clubs and New York City high-society life is an utter delight, and star Rachel Brosnahan knows comedic timing like no one else (it helps that she’s supported by a stellar ensemble cast). I’ve listened to the soundtrack countless times through and eyed what seems like every item from Midge’s wardrobe, so needless to say, I’m a Mrs. Maisel fan through and through (related: the production design team, led by designer Bill Groom, is nothing short of genius).

Thank you, as always, for checking my little slice of the Internet. Here’s to a terrific weekend!


Currently: July 2018

Hi friends!

How are you? How are things? I’m so happy to be blogging again. Ciao Bella has been quiet over the past few weeks, but I think for good reason: my summer is moving so quickly that I can hardly believe it’s almost August! Internship-wise, I’m having a blast; Friday is a show day at the box office, so this morning will have me busy printing and confirming ticket orders, taking calls from patrons, and preparing the theater for yet another performance of Pippin, our fourth production of the summer.

In the meantime, because it’s been about a month (!!) since I last posted here, I wanted to share a Currently post, my favorite way to recap the recent things – books, shows, music, and the like – that I have been enjoying. Lots to love, that’s for sure! How has your July been?

Lera LynnListening: Lera Lynn’s Plays Well with Others | To start, I’m late to the party, but I’ve fallen in love with the work of singer and songwriter Lera Lynn. You may know her from her 2011 album, Have You Met Lera Lynn, or from her role as a singer on True Detective, but I’ve only just discovered her music while reading a review of her latest album on NPR. Fittingly titled Plays Well with Others, Lynn collaborated with eight different artists to produce a set of dreamy and delicate duets that are reminiscent of Americana classics. It took only one listen through before I myself was hooked; I’ve already added “Same Old Song” to my August playlist and listened to “Crimson Underground” more times than I can count. Long story short? I can’t get enough – and I’m certain you’ll feel the same!

West Falmouth Public Library{one of my newfound favorite places to perch and read}

Reading: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo | I’m in the midst of four books at the moment – call it the summertime reading slump – but if the first few chapters are any indication, Maurene Goo’s The Way You Make Me Feel is just what I need to get out of it. With Goo’s trademark sense of humor, a memorable protagonist, and a food truck all involved, I have a feeling this will be a favorite of the summer, much like I Believe in a Thing Called Love was last year. Here’s hoping I can wrap it up on my next morning off, but in the meantime, I’m also hoping to dig into Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno (I’ll read anything she writes) and Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin (I like to support middle-grade debuts!). What are you currently reading?

Lulu and Bella at Tranquil Lake{one of our many snapshots}

Going: Tranquil Lake Nursery | While my dreams of living next to a flower-lined field won’t be coming true anytime soon, I had fun pretending when I visited Tranquil Lake Nursery! Located in Rehoboth, MA, Tranquil Lake is a farm that specializes in daylilies and irises; they have the flowers available for sale, but they also have their fields and gardens open for display. I visited on my last trip home, and it was an utter delight to browse in the summer sun. If you too stop by, be sure to purchase a few flowers for yourself and pack a camera – there are photo opportunities aplenty. Have you gone on any day trips recently?

The Durrells in CorfuWatching: The Durrells in Corfu | Between nightly shows, box office shifts, and errands around town, I return to the house ready for a quiet night. While reading is my go-to activity of choice, I have also really enjoyed making my way through The Durrells in Corfu, an engaging and heartfelt series that premiered on Masterpiece in 2016. Set in the 1930s, it follows a family of five as they move from England to the Greek island of Corfu. I’m about halfway through the first season, but I’m so in love that I’ve already added the memoir it is based on, My Family and Other Animals, to my TBR list. You can rarely go wrong with a British dramedy. (All credit to my sister, Lulu, for the initial suggestion).

The Brass SistersLoving: The Brass Sisters | Another show I’ve been enjoying in my down time? PBS’s The Food Flirts, starring home cooks and sisters Marilynn and Sheila Brass. Though brief at thirty minutes long, each episode manages to pack in a sweet and humorous punch as Marilynn and Sheila taste items from local restaurants and then whip up inspired dishes in their own kitchen with the advice of the chef. It’s fun, feel-good television at its finest, and it doesn’t hurt that you round out the half-hour with recipe recommendations galore. If you’re a fan of The Great British Baking Show, this will be right up your alley. (Love and hugs, again, to Lulu for sharing it with me!).

Joel Penkman Ice Cream{Artist Joel Penkman always manages to capture the perfect cone.}

Eating: Ghelfi’s | What is a summer without numerous ice cream stops? I’ve slowly but surely been taste-testing my way through the ice cream shops of the Cape, and one has emerged as a clear favorite: Ghelfi’s Candies and Ice Cream of Cape Cod. While they are best known for their fudge and other similarly tasty confections, I have found their ice cream to be just as delicious (my flavors of choice include their S’mores as well as Muddy Boots, a vanilla with fudge brownie mix-ins). National Ice Cream Day has already come and gone, but no matter: Ghelfi’s is worth a stop – or at least one scoop!

Bella and Em{thank you Em for the visit!]

Missing: Friends | And finally, while I don’t want to wish the summer away, I dearly miss my friends from home and at school! Fortunately, both FaceTime and phone calls make the distance seem shorter, and I’m grateful to already have had so many friends visit on my afternoons off (it helps that the beach is only a five-minutes walk from where I’m staying). Come fall, I’ll be catching up galore, but thankfully, with an exciting and interesting set of classes, a new apartment to decorate, and extracurriculars to dive right back into, I’m thinking that this next semester will be a good one.

Have a lovely Friday and an even better start to your weekend!


Interviews with Rad People / Small Business Owner Rachel Ball


Interviews with Rad People Rachel Ball

Ask me what my favorite part of blogging is, and I will always answer the community. From the first comment I ever received to the friendships I’ve formed over Twitter, the people I have “met,” so to speak, through Ciao Bella make the hours of prepping posts, leaving comments, and writing emails entirely worth it {although don’t get me wrong, those tasks can be fun too!}.

These talented bloggers, writers, and other individuals inspired Interviews with Rad People, a series in which I converse with some friendly, talented faces of different professions. Whether these interviewees are making their name known in the design industry, launching their own small business, or working diligently behind the curtain, I hope you have just as much fun reading through their replies as I have asking them the questions.

For the second interview in this rad feature, I am delighted to welcome Rachel Ball, the blogger behind Elephantine, the owner of Elephantine Jewelry, and the founder of the online boutique Mignon! My interest and love for her two stores seemed only natural given how long I’ve read her site; I had discovered Rachel’s blog years ago on my new blogger kick, and I continue to read it today for her gorgeous flower photos and excellent book recommendations.  I hold such respect for any small business owner – it’s no easy task, that’s for sure – and I love hearing the story behind each shop. With that said, I couldn’t be more excited to share Rachel’s answers on her career, recipes, and writing. Take a look!

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Lavender Flowers{via}

What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

I usually spend my mornings answering quick emails and figuring out what I need to get done that day. Sometimes I’ll spend the next few hours writing, and other days I’ll get right to work on fulfilling orders from my two shops. I always take a break for lunch around noon, then get back to work for the rest of the afternoon until it’s time to make a post office run. In general I work pretty typical 9-to-5 hours, though every once in a while I treat myself to an afternoon off. Running a small business takes a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.

How did you grow your jewelry-making business from a hobby to a full-time job?

In the beginning I spent a lot of time focused on making new jewelry but also a fair amount of time promoting it, through advertising, giveaways, etc. There was a lot of trial and error, too, but I used any mistakes as opportunities to learn and make my business better. The combination of all that hard work and patience and a little luck resulted in a successful business. It took about a year to get to a place where I was confident that my Etsy shop success wasn’t just a fluke. My advice to anyone looking to do something similar is to take your time, and really focus on creating something that you love before worrying about how you’re going to promote it.

Lucky in Bronze EarringsDo you have a favorite piece or pieces of jewelry in the fall?

My “lucky in bronze” earrings feel the most like fall to me. I love seeing the changing colors of the trees, from bright yellows and oranges to dark, richer browns like the beads on those earrings.

Although Mignon is now an online boutique of cute items, it began as a kitchen goods shop. With that in mind, what do you consider your three go-to recipes?

Let’s see – first, I’d have to say Caserola Milanese from New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant, which is a dish made with polenta and veggies that my mom often made when I was growing up. It’s comfort food and fun to make. I also love making hot and sour soup, particularly in the winter. I use this recipe. For dessert, I can’t pass up an easy, delicious recipe, like plum skillet cake.

Elephantine Doodles{via}

Finally, as an aspiring novelist, can you explain your writing process and how you got into writing?

I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, and have written stories for as long as I can remember. But over the years I’ve become more serious about it and have developed more of a writing process. I’ve found I do my best writing first thing in the morning, before I get distracted by emails and chores and such. When I’m working on a new story, I usually have a general idea of what will happen, and who the characters are, but most of it is discovered during the act of writing itself… and rewriting. Rewriting is so important! It’s where everything really starts to take shape. I’ve been working on a novel-in-stories for the past few years, and really hope to finish it within the next year.

• • •

Another huge thank you to Rachel! I adore so much of the jewelry in the Elephantine shop and Mignon sells my type of goodies {i.e. cute and high-quality}, but what I find most interesting is the day-to-day tasks of running an online store. Furthermore, those recipes have my mouth-watering – I’m sure I’ll be whipping one of the three up soon. Do you own an Etsy shop? Do you like to cook or write?

Have a wonderful Tuesday!