July 29, 2014

Do This: Burn Palo Santo Wood

On most days, my house smells like an Indian shala. That's because Nicholas is constantly burning incense. A lot of people are turned off by incenses, claiming their scent is too strong, but I actually like the smell. Still, every once in a while, I find my nose tickling and wishing the air smelled a little more...airy? 

Recently though, Nicholas has been burning Palo Santo wood sticks. Considered the 'holy wood', healers and shamans of all kinds burn these sticks in order to remove bad energies. Even if you're all good in the bad-energy-removing department, I will say these sticks do smell nice. They give off a mild sandalwood and citrus scent that leaves our home smelling really pleasant. 

Photo from here

July 28, 2014

More Italy 2014

I finally got around to editing my non-iPhone Italy photos.

Locanda Costa Diva in Praino, Italy

I had always wanted to visit the Amalfi Coast and we finally made it down. Because of the last-minute nature of our trip, we actually ended up staying in two different hotels in two different towns. On our first night, we stayed at Locanda Costa Diva, a cute little hotel situated on top of a cliff (the picture above and below is of our view) in the town of Praino. Praino was quite little fishing town that boasted a perfect little. The room was clean but definitely nothing to write home about. What was something to write home about was the dinner we ate at the hotel. The freshest seafood topped over delicious (what else?) pasta. It was easily the best meal of the trip.

Locanda Costa Diva in Praino, Italy

Praino, Italy on the Amalfi Coast

 Praino's 'perfect little beach'!

Praino, Italy on the Amalfi Coast

Praino, Italy on the Amalfi Coast

The view from Villa Scarparleio

the view from villa scarpariello in Ravello italy

After Praino, we headed over to Villa Scarpariello in the Amalfi town of Ravello. Okay, now this place was out of this world. I wrote about it a bit in my last post which you can find here, but I can't stress enough how magical this place was. The view! The sea. Everything.

July 23, 2014

How Do You Breaky?

I believe there are two types of people in this world--those who eat breakfast and those who don't. My whole life, I've considered myself a person who doesn't really eat breakfast--only because I'm never dying of hunger in the morning and can't really stand to do the standard "American breakfast." Eggs aren't my thing (although I've learned to deal with them) plus pancakes, waffles and all that nonsense are for people who rather swim in a pool of syrup than a pool of olive oil (my dream!) My family used to actually be in awe when I'd opt for a leftover plate of pasta for breakfast instead of that omelet with a side of bacon my sister was in the process of devouring.

As my life has progressed though, I've been exposed to different kinds of breakfast. I am sure you can imagine my excitement when I realized that they don't eat eggs for breakfast in India, Italy or even France (although they sometimes do, it's not always a regular thing)! My kind of people!

In India, they basically eat another version of dinner for breakfast. It's usually a curry/stew served with pieces of chapati (bread) with which you dip into the stew. In Italy, it's un caffe with this over the top, extra-sugary, creme-filled pastry Nicholas always tries to get me to eat. But in France, it's usually a tartine which is basically an open-faced sandwich with spreads and other delicious accouterments.

Ah, the French. They do things so well, don't they? At least I think so. See, the thing about a tartine is that it can go so many ways. You can do the whole American thing and top your tartine with eggs. Or you can disguise your need for salty mid-day foods by topping your tartine with ricotta and prosciutto. Basically, the world is your tartine and you can dress it however you want.

This morning--you guessed it--I had a tartine! It was a piece of toast with salty butter and honey drizzled over it. It sounds so simple but it was so delicious. Give it a try.

Photo taken at Black Seed Bagel, a great place to get a savory breakfast!

July 18, 2014

It Feels Good To Be Home

Most of you know I have always loved to travel. From a young age, my mother taught me to seek new places and to look for adventure on the way. Once I graduated high school, I sought any excuse to skip town although, short on cash, and still somewhat tied to the womb, my escapades never took me too far. But still far enough to have my friends proclaim Eli, you're never home!

It's cool to be adventurous. It's exciting to see new things. It's really great to try new foods. And I guess that's why when I came to the realization earlier this month that lately, I've really enjoyed being home, I couldn't help but think of how lame I was being. Why be home when you can be in X?

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I spent the last four years or so traveling somewhere almost every month. Whether it was a quick trip down to Miami to visit my family, or nice jaunt to the West Coast to visits Nicholas', traveling became a bit exhausting. I actually remember the trip(s) after which I proclaimed, okay...I'm done for a bit. 

But still, the question remains: is it boring of me to just want to be home for a bit? I don't think so. I feel as if it's just a phase. Sometimes one wants to be moving around and at other times, one wants to be sedentary. I just happen to be having one of those sedentary moments and I'm looking at it as an opportunity to really enjoy New York for what it's worth--to hate it..to love it..to just have to deal with it. I'm spending my time focusing on my home, my career, my hobbies and my relationship. After all, this can't last forever, right?

PS-I hope you don't take this in the wrong way. I am forever grateful for the fact that I am so lucky to travel the way I do. I actually think staying in New York is MORE expensive than if I was elsewhere. The irony!

photo from unknown. 

July 16, 2014

Travel Like A Local: How To Eat

In celebration of summer and the best time of year to travel, I'd like to introduce Travel Like A Local--a weekly column celebrating the art of looking like you belong. I'll share tips and tricks I've picked up along the way that are sure to help you really experience a city as if it were your own. Because well, isn't that the best way?

Eat with love. And eat everything. At least once, if not every day. No but seriously! I've met so many people in my life who aren't open to trying new foods while on vacation. Not only does this infuriate me to no end (sorry not sorry?!), it makes me sad for them. Not only are they missing out on what is probably so delicious and authentic, they're completely avoiding such an important part of a city's culture.

When looking for restaurants or even a quick bite, follow the locals. They know where to eat, trust them! Stay away from restaurants surrounding major tourist spots and don't be afraid to wander down tiny streets. Judge a restaurant by it's patrons. See a bunch of locals devouring their meals? That's probably a good place to grab a bite. But also, don't be afraid to try a restaurant just because it's empty. On our recent trip to Italy, we ate at the most delicious agriturismo in the Tuscan hills. There was no one in the restaurant but something in our stomaches (possibly hunger?) told us to give a shot. We were so glad we did. 

This next tip applies to travel in eastern countries whose delicacies our western stomaches may not be so accustomed to. Don't be a afraid to get sick. I know, this one's hard. And I've definitely been there before. But it's important to not let your fear of getting sick cloud your experience. After all, Imodium exist and it works! Of course, there are parameters to this rule. For example, street food in India might not be the best idea because yes, you will most likely get sick. But still, don't let it hold you back. If you want to try it, try it!

Respect their hours. This one really applies in Europe where lunch hour is lunch hour, apperitivo hour is apperitivo hour and dinner hour is dinner hour. Don't be upset when the nice old Italian grandpa doesn't want to serve you lunch at 4:30PM--they've got hours! And you should respect them. After all, the Europeans have been perfecting this whole eating thing for quite some time, no?

July 14, 2014

Let's Talk Flowers 01: The Peony

Inspired by the book, The Language and Sentiment of Flowers, Let's Talk Flowers is a series that explores the age old language of flowers also known as floriography. 

A friend of mine gifted me this book, The Language and Sentiment of Flowers. I have always had it out on my coffee table but never really took the time to flip through it until just recently. I was immediately intrigued by the book; it was a Victorian glossary of flowers and their meanings. It encouraged its readers to send notes solely through flowers. A bouquet of six or seven different flowers could just as easily send a message in the same way a hand-written note could. An example:

"May maternal love protect your early youth in innocence and joy!"

flowers needed:
Moss........Maternal love
Bearded Crepis.........Protect
Primroses.........Early youth
Wood Sorrel.........joy

After receiving the bouquet, the giftee would then turn to her handy book to decode the message, but only if she already didn't know what each flower meant. So, I decided to start this series to decode some of our favorite flowers. Their meanings might be surprising (like today's!) but hopefully, you'll be encouraged to set a note via flowers because doesn't that just sound cool?

Today, I thought I'd talk about Peonies. I laughed a bit when I saw the meaning of peonies, but only because so many women (me included!) have it in their bridal bouquets and what it really means is anger, shame and bashfulness. Heavy, no? This meaning stems from the mythical belief that mischievous nymphs used to hide in their petals. And now, a example of how this flower might be used to convey a message. 

I am shameful (peony) that I betrayed you (white catchfly).

Oof. Hopefully you never have to send that message! But just in case, you know how!

First photo from here. Second photo from here.