Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Birth of Venus

Because I realized it's been such a long while since I've done a book review on here, and because I just recently finished a book that I literally could NOT put down...  it only made sense for me to share it with all of you today. For those of you who are into historical fiction (and even those who are not), The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant would be a novel I highly recommend! The perfect mix of suspense, intrigue, history... readers are instantly pulled into 15th century Florence as seen through the eyes of a young, ambitious Florentine girl. The book chronicles the trials and tribulations faced by this otherwise luxurious and thriving city, including the terrifying threat of plague, the downward spiral of the Medici dynasty, and the rise of one highly influential Girolamo Savonarola. This Renaissance-era novel is rich with art history, which may have been one of the principle reasons why it had me so captivated. I also loved the complexity of the novel; so many layers, intriguing characters and side stories come together to create such an elaborate and gripping tale complete with love, drama, and even bits of mystery. Even more than the story itself, I loved Dunant's style... as a lit major, I do notice and appreciate uniquely beautiful prose, and I found Dunant's language to be so appropriately extravagant. I definitely do not want to include spoilers, so I'll keep this already lengthy review short. If you're looking for a good book to curl up with, this one will not disappoint... take my word for it!

Before I go, I wanted to wrap this post up with a photo of Botticelli's  painting, The Birth of Venus, just because. The original is currently located in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (sadly, photos were not allowed in the gallery when I was there but needless to say it is absolutely beautiful in person)...

And there's your mid-week inspiration... stunning, n'est-ce pas?

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Perfectly Portman

Good morning lovelies! Hope you all had a warm and merry holiday weekend and are now gearing up to push through this last week of 2010. I spent my weekend with family, eating lots, baking, and catching up on some reading. This morning I woke up to news of Natalie Portman's engagement AND pregnancy, featured on my Yahoo homepage, and I have to say (as lame as it may sound now) it did get me just a little bit giddy with excitement. I adore Natalie (Garden State will always be one of my all-time favorites), and though I have yet to see Black Swan, I can't tell you how excited I am about it. Needless to say, I think it's so, so cute that she is expecting. And so, amid such sweet news, I thought it'd be appropriate to feature Natalie's January Vogue cover and a couple of pictures from the spread. As always, she is looking picture perfect and completely elegant. She looks stunning in soft, girly pink on the cover but what I loved the most were the two ballet-inspired photos in the spread (click the image to get a closer look). They have this hauntingly beautiful quality about them that just captivates you and pulls you in. Love it!

What are your thoughts? On Natalie, the film (no spoilers please!), these photos, her big news...? Let me know in comments! xo

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Tis the Season... of Caffeine!

Everyone in my life knows I am addicted to coffee.. this is nothing new. If I haven't mentioned it before on here, consider this my confession. I love, love, love coffee and can pretty much never start my day without at least one cup. So naturally, I also share an equally grand love for Starbucks. And, as I love the month of December and do all I can to get into the holiday spirit once Thanksgiving is over and done with, every year I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the seasonal drinks at Starbucks. And every year I take full advantage by ordering one every chance I get until the very last day they offer them up. So for those of you who have yet to taste these creamy, wonderful red cups of goodness, I have to ask... WHAT are you waiting for? Lucky for you, I'm here with a guide to... well, my personal favorites. Today I discovered one of the best hot chocolates I have ever tasted: the salted caramel hot chocolate. Oh. my. goodness. Equal parts rich, sweet, chocolatey, with the slightest kick that makes it the perfect sweet & salty guilty pleasure. I must say, one taste and this drink quickly shot its way up my favorites list. A more classic favorite would be the gingerbread latte, always. And as for the seasonal drinks I prefer largely over ice? Peppermint mocha and pumpkin spice lattes are both enjoyed better on the rocks, take my word for it (that's not to say their warm counterparts are not mouth-watering, as I am sure they are). And there you have it, lovelies... I have shared with you my expertise. The only one left on my to-try list at this point is the new caramel brulee latte, through which I will probably be consuming enough calories to substitute for an entire meal. Ah, c'est la vie. Because really, how often does Starbucks pull out those beloved red cups? My point exactly.

Happy holidays to you and yours, dear readers. xo

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Nightmare

Don't we all tell ourselves every year that we will do our holiday shopping online, nice and easy, with a cup of coffee, wearing PJs, no problem at all -- and every year, we fail? We venture out into the busy, crowded malls, spend about half our time stuck in traffic or circling around the lots aimlessly, hoping to spot some defeated shopper whose spot you can steal, wait in long lines, hear the screams of children drowning out the Christmas music... and so on and so forth. No? Just me? At any rate, I DO always wonder why I don't get more of my shopping done online in the comfort of my own home. I asked myself that just the other day, after I got home from the mall, dripping from the rain (non-stop gloom and showers for about a week now in Los Angeles -- better than a sunny Christmas, I can say that much).
I think it's safe to say I literally spent more time in my car, searching for parking or just trying to get in/out of the lots and the general vicinity of the mall... than I actually did IN the mall. At any rate, my best friend and I gave up within a couple of short hours, got NEARLY nothing done, and headed straight for the food. Tuna burgers and cheese fries made the excursion semi-worth it, but I digress. Next year, either I stop with the procrastination and get this stuff done nice and early, or I do it on my laptop in my PJs... dry, warm, and screaming-child-free.

I promise that was the last of what might sound a lot like a Grinchesque rant. And I promise, in all actuality I do really, really love Christmas and the holidays in general. We will now return to regular festivities... cue the Pandora Christmas music station, peppermint hot chocolate, and gift wrapping!

Also, please be sure to keep up with me on TWITTER & BLOGLOVIN xo

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cover Me Up

How chic is Victoria Beckham in her pretty black coats? She's rocking a Giambattista Valli coat in the first photo, making traveling through bustling airports look so effortless... I can't help but admire her. I am currently LOVING tights, as they can be worn with dresses but also shorts.. flats or pumps or boots.. with a cute coat or cardigan. I mean, the options are endless. But I digress, because this post wasn't about VB's tights (although paired with the black high collared coat and simple pumps, they do help her look put together). I was actually going for a post about... COATS. The Burberry Prorsum she wore recently at yet another airport (as seen in the second photo) was equally chic with bare legs. This season, every time I go shopping I can't stop myself from browsing through endless options of outerwear. I just find pretty coats to be irresistible this time of year! Personally I love a classic beige trench and a nice double breasted style.. and of course, my black motorcycle jacket has become a staple in my wardrobe. I love my coats in shades of beige and grey in addition to classic black, but I also love coats that wow with a pop of color, like red. Which styles do YOU reach for, lovelies? xo

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sweet Little Moment

How sweet is this photo of Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams? I stumbled upon it recently as I was looking for pictures of Michelle out and about promoting Blue Valentine -- she looked so classy in the Azzaro number she wore to the New York premiere. I was originally going to post a couple of pictures of her and Ryan Gosling from that night, but this particular shot was too precious to pass up.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

What's on my mind?

Hello pretty people! I feel as though I have neglected this blog long enough.. as a crazy, crazy semester winds down I am back and hoping some of you readers are still left out there, somewhere. The ever-so-dreaded Finals Week is about to begin, so right now all that is primarily on my mind is a whole lot of French grammar and about 30 or so works of American Literature. And while it is 80 degrees here in Los Angeles, in the middle of December, I also find my mind wandering to a white Christmas. A beautiful cabin, crackling fire, snow covered pine trees... but for now, as I am stuck in SoCal buried in textbooks and notes, all I can do is drink my seasonal Starbucks coffee (Iced Peppermint Mocha, mmm), listen to Christmas music and watch The Holiday & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. (Side note: I think it's safe to say holiday movies never, ever get old to me). At any rate, I will stop my rambling at this point, take a breath, and look around to see if I even have any faithful readers left after my unofficial hiatus. I will try to be much, much better with updating as soon as I get through my finals. In the meantime, if you DID find your way back to this blog, please don't hesitate to leave me comments and let me know you are still out there. Lots of love (and best wishes to those of you in the Finals Boat like me) xo

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