Italy Travel Tips, according to Only You

I wish I could take a cooking course in Italy, I thought to myself last year. Not one to wish idly, I am currently in possession of a round-trip plane ticket for June. The logical next step? Consulting the infallible wisdom of every film ever set in Italy for travel tips.

I began my research this week with a careful viewing of the venerable 90’s rom com, Only You – lauded by the New York Times as “frankly touristy.”  With close study, I was able to learn that driving from Venice to Rome can be very taxing on female friendships, losing a shoe in Rome is the best way to find your destiny, and Italian airport employees will instantly bend all security rules to get you on a plane if they believe that you are in love with someone on-board.

Most usefully though, I was able to begin my packing list:

1) Red kerchief. Nothing says “I’m ready for my Venetian gondola ride” like a red piece of cloth tied around your neck.

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2) Red dress, red shawl, red heels, and red rose. Head-to-toe monochrome is the only way to go if you’re planning to wander the streets of Rome with a shoe salesman, saying things like “I was born to kiss you” with a straight face.

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3) Sunglasses. Preferably the type that lend themselves to dramatic lowering if/when you spot a be-wigged, be-necklaced Billy Zane emerging shirtless from a pool in Positano.

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4) White, mock-turtleneck, floor-length dress with triangular side cut-outs. Ideal for those Amalfi Coast evenings when you reject Robert Downey Jr.  because your brother did not spell his name on a Ouija board when you were 11.

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5) The puff-sleeved wedding dress you will never wear again now that you are dumping your fiance for a man you met two days ago, who loves you enough to lie about his name, send you on a wild goose-chase through the Italian countryside, and pay a friend to take you on a terrible date so he’ll look like relationship material by comparison.

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The 4×4 Yoga Awards

After 4 weeks of yoga 4 times a week, I am prepared to announce the winners of the 4×4 Yoga Awards:

1) Most ubiquitous accessory: The Lulumon lunch bag, which is apparently the only acceptable way to carry your Lulumon water bottle, Lulumon hair ties, and deep sense of inner peace (purchased separately).


2) Least tactful acknowledgement of my hyper-extended elbows: “Yikes. Oh sweetie. No, no, no.”

3) Least helpful assist: My cat interpreting lotus position as an open invitation to jump on my back.

4) Most incomprehensible instruction: “Gaze inwardly through your third eye and greet yourself.”

5) Instruction most irksomely reminiscent of street harassment: “Smile softly!”

6) Fanciest man-braid: Tamal Dodge, Elemant.


7) Most aggressive half-moon encouragement: “Do it, mami! Do it, do it, DO IT!” – Jillian Michaels, Yoga Meltdown.

9) Low Point: Flying too close to the sun for several beats in crow position before toppling to kick the girl besides me and land directly on my head.

10) High point: Realizing that the reason I’m so often short of breath is because I’ve been breathing wrong my whole life – and it’s fixable.


The 30 Day Shred Awards

My antagonistic relationship with physical fitness began at the tender age of 5 when I attempted to play softball for the first time and was promptly knocked unconscious by a stray pitch. In 2nd grade gym, I dangled, mortified, before the the eyes of my classmates, unable to lift my chin beyond the pull-up bar and inwardly deciding that I would die as I was born: without upper body strength. In college, I was the kind of jogger who took occasional half mile runs to 7/11 then strolled back to the dorm eating a pint of double fudge ice cream. I’ve never said no to a glass of wine with dinner.  I’ve never met a carb I didn’t love. I’ve never worked out for longer than a month consecutively.

And I’ve always wondered why I’m often too exhausted at the end of the day to do anything other than crash on the couch with my DVR.

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Top 10 Recipes of #50NewRecipesIn2014

Much as I love to cook, I’ve always been pretty lazy about it. Since college, I’ve known how to make 10-15 meals. I’ve rarely ventured outside my recipe box.  If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right?

But last year was about fixing things that I may not have realized were broken. It was about eliminating all excuses not to be happy. It was about taking writing workshops and meditation classes and spontaneous road-trips; joining a gym and starting a new job and volunteering to cuddle with kittens at the Anti-Cruelty Society; attending philosophy lectures and off Broadway musicals and indie film festivals and outdoor concerts. And it was about cooking.

I set a goal to finally open up all those untouched cookbooks on my bookshelf and make 50 new recipes. And, almost to my own amazement, I did it.  I remembered how happy cooking makes me. I made 50 new recipes last year. And I’ve chosen my top 10 favorites to share with you here.

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