29 May 2014

Lately...













Pictured
1. The lilac tree beneath my window bloomed and I picked all the lilacs I could reach and filled my apartment with them. Everyone else must have had the same idea, because the week that all the trees grew flowers, I saw countless people riding the metro with armfuls of ripped up stems and bunches of purple, white, and banana colored flowers. 
2. Ben and I made cookies. 
3. I've been using the Aqua Marina face wash from Lush. I read--as I always do--a million reviews about it online before I purchased, but for some reason did not think of the smell that would be involved with a seaweed based wash. It smells awful, but my skin loves it. Recommend. 
4. Packed up beach bag. I walked my butt over to the central market in my neighborhood and bought some face sunscreen and have been wearing it religiously. I wrote to my mom about it because I feel oddly sad about it all. Like, it's the end of an era or something. No more walking with my face up towards the sun, hoping from cheekbone burns and nose bridge freckles. No more laying out. It's time to take my skin care seriously (actually, it has always been the time to take skin care seriously, but I've been ignoring warnings for years). 
5. Ben and I went to a "beach" his students told him about. It was very Russian in the fact that there was no sand, a million cigarettes, two million drunks, but there was water and a small patch of "grass" for us to lie in. So it's a win in my book, and I think we'll definitely be going back.
6. A print we got in Italy on the streets of Trastevere. It was starting to rain when I saw it, but I just knew it belonged in all of our future kitchens. We ran up to the artist, threw our Euros at her, and ran beneath the awning of a cafe right as the clouds opened up and spilled warm water all over Rome. Probably the chillest sale she's ever had.  
7. When I was at home briefly last month, I found this beginners Tarot card set in my bedroom and brought it back with me. I've been diligent about learning at least two cards a day and have actually had a lot of fun with it. My friends are also really excited about my studies and when I'm finished I think I'm going to hold a Tarot card party and give them all reading. 
8. My makeup mirror. I dropped it yesterday and it got all smashed up leaving only the smallest sliver of mirror. Sigh. 

Not Pictured
1. Ben and I have cruised through three seasons of The Walking Dead. Good lordy, that show. So good, but so tense. I'm a very nightmare-prone person and I have been battling zombie nightmares since we started, but it hasn't derailed me yet. And Daryl. Double sigh. I actually went against my better judgement and googled him only to find that he was some douchey Prada model, so I'm trying to forget that he's an actual living, breathing person and go back to believing he's some southern, zombie-slaying, baby-saving, bad boy/man of my dreams. 
2. Ben and I are going to Vilnius, Lithuania tomorrow which I'm pretty excited about. I had been thinking about it as a prolonged chore (we're getting our new visas there--did I tell you that?), but I got some pretty sweet tips about where to go and I also want to avoid some friend group drama back here. So win-win. Go to Europe, avoid picking sides. Ya know...
3. Ben and I "gave up meat" (sans drunken McDonalds runs) a few months ago, and we're getting really good at tofu. 
4. I've been listening to this Alt-J song and this Bleachers song a lot. 
5. Excited to see this movie. But I'll be honest--I'm really annoyed with Matthew McConaughey, especially since True Detective didn't turn out the way I wanted to. But I'll probably go and see this movie anyway. 

So what's up with you guys?




27 May 2014

Orvieto










We finished our Italy vacation with a day trip to the small city of Orvieto. After the train from Florence left us at a small fountain at the base of giant hill, we hauled our suitcases up the quiet, terrace covered streets to a family-run Italian hotel with a pale blue lobby. We were checked into our rooms, and then we traveled back down the hill for some white wine (which Orvieto is famous for) and pizza.

After lunch, we took an escalator car up the mountain so we could look out over the countryside. It was absolutely spectacular. Ben and I fell asleep in the sun and grass next to the old ruins while Ben's parents hiked up to a doma that was hosting a gelato festival.

For our final night in Italy, we gathered at the table of a local restaurant and enjoyed delicious food, many bottles of wine, and great conversation.

I feel so grateful to have been able to go on this trip and spend time with Ben's parents and explore another little part of Europe.

Ben and I are gearing up to go to Vilnius, Lithuania this Friday to get our new visas and have a weekend to ourselves. Summer has hit Moscow full force and the lack of air conditioning in this apartment has been pretty brutal. But the summer days have been good and kind to us, and even the busy days just melt into warm nights and we've been finding ourselves sitting outside of our apartment on a park bench, sharing gin and tonics and bread and cheese. Life is good. 

11 May 2014

White Nights












The day after our trip to the vineyard was spent wandering the streets of Florence and allowing the city to take us in. Ben and I spent hours wandering from winding, thin street into open, lively squares, stumbling into glorious, ancient churches, all while filling our bellies with sweet, creamy gelato. 

After our day of exploring, Ben and I decided we wanted to do some of our own Italian cooking, so we worked our way through an Italian grocery store (insane) and a few out door markets and purchased aged Parmesan, tomatoes, a loaf of bread and hand made noodles to make our own spaghetti Carbonara and bruschetta. 

We then had the pleasure of experiencing White Nights (coincendetally, Ben and I have already been to a white nights festival abroad two years ago when we were exploring Montreal), which is an all night festival that turns the streets of Florence into a lovely party with different venues playing different music and shops staying open late to sell baked goods and wine, 

It was really fun to walk through, but it was also really cool to watch from our balcony. Ben and I even saw a couple get engaged! The white nights+ the canonization made our Italy trip into a really special and unique experience. 

A Cooking Lesson in Tuscany












After our vineyard tour, we drove up further into the Tuscan hills, picking wild garlic, dripping with rain water,a long the way. We arrived at the most perfect little cottage after winding down endless roads and headed into the basement for red wine, pasta making, and Italian opera playing out of a small CD player. 

We filled our bellies with wine and incredible food and fell asleep in the van on the ride home.

A Vineyard Tour in Tuscany




















After a short visit to Rome, we boarded a train and rode through the Italian countryside until we reached Florence. On our second day, we met up with a man from Accidental Tourist and he took us into the hills of Tuscany to a small vineyard. The weather was a little drizzly, but the view was absolutely incredible. We toured the compound and learned how the wine and olive oil was made, which was quite interesting. Then we had the most fabulous wine and olive oil tasting I could have ever imagined. It was such a great time and Ben and I made sure to buy a couple of bottles of wine for our friends back in Moscow.  

Before our tour was over, our guide Steve sang us a beautiful classic song and it was a real treat to hear something so unique and special. 

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