Dinner Parties | Simple Italian

7 Dishes for an easy-to-make Italian themed dinner party

italian dinner party

Potlucks are a single girl’s best friend. For less than $20 a person, you can have a multi-dish meal and really enjoy each others’ company (and by that I mean open more than one bottle of wine without paying an arm and a leg). My sister hosted a group of us for a cozy dinner party at her place. Their friends met through a series of MeetUp events when they were all somewhat new to San Francisco a few years ago. Who says you can’t meet new friends online?

What was on the menu for our Italian dinner party? Caprese skewers, cheese and crackers, bruschetta, prosciutto-wrapped melons, arugula ravioli, and salmon with asparagus… with a little vino and a delightful bundt cake. It’s a delicious night in for up to 10 friends, or pick and choose a few dishes for a party of two. Best part about this menu? You can pick up all the ingredients from Trader Joe’s. Read on for ingredients and recipes.

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Why Snooze When You Can… | Morning Rituals

5 morning rituals to get you out of bed

morning ritual

PHOTO: Pinterest.

I am a night owl. I can stay up later than most people, and my love of sleep means that, historically speaking, me waking up naturally before 11am is unusual. Sleep is important to me, so I’ve always made it a priority; I would categorize that under “good self-care.” Living a freelance life means that I now have the freedom to sleep in a little later when I have to stay up to the wee hours to get work done. In the past few months, however, sleeping in late just ain’t what it used to be (hello, late 20s). Although I’m a creature of habit, part of me does want to become more of a morning person. If you’re like me and need a little boost in the AM, here are 5 rituals you can add to your morning routine that might motivate you to stop hitting the snooze button (or at least cut back to one hit).

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12 Ways to Savor Christmas

12 ways to make your holiday last throughout December

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Since I left for college many moons ago, I have grown to appreciate the holiday season more deeply. It’s the time of year when all of my childhood friends and family are gathered in one place. You wind down from another year and remember what’s really important. The chaos of life matters a little less. Spending time doing nothing with people you love means even more. When “holiday break” in my hometown went from a month in college to a week and a half in the work world (and I know even that is a luxury!), I learned how to savor Christmas in less time. One of my favorite parts of moving back officially is that I get to see a full-size Christmas tree when I come home every day. I started to make a conscious effort years ago not to look forward to anything too early. I felt that it made time move too quickly, and I for one want to extend every happy memory for as long as possible. With that, here are my twelve ways to spread holiday cheer in small ways and celebrate your holiday last throughout the month.

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Avoiding the Holiday 10

Sarah Di Grazia offers ten ways to stay healthy during the holidays and shares a must-try salad recipe.

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The holidays are in full swing, which means food and parties are everywhere. While this is a period of fun and quality time with loved ones, it can also be quite stressful running from one event to another or even just one store to another! Additionally, you may find yourself without enough hours in the day for self-care, exercise, or even just sleep. All of this can lead to unwanted weight gain (an additional obstacle to your New Year’s resolution to get in shape). Here are ten ways to avoid gaining the dreaded “holiday 10.”
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Book Report | To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (Lee)

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Fall has officially arrived… even in California where the temperature has dropped 10 degrees (laugh all you want, East Coasters… I took my cashmere out of storage). The change in the air brings with it nostalgia for good ole fashioned school days. My cure? Reading a literary classic—one that calls for concentration and a good classroom discussion. I chose To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Enjoyment was my only objective, but I came out of it with a renewed desire to learn. The issues that Lee tackles are historical, but many of the insights into race and society continue to affect our world today… and the lessons in growing up and becoming oneself are unchanging.
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How Big Is Your Brave

How Sara Bareilles helped me become fierce and fearless 

Written October 2013

Last month my friend and I saw Sara Bareilles at the Greek. I have been a huge fan since I saw Sara play at a college music festival in 2009. We all know her #1 hit “Love Song,” but this woman is so much more than that catchy albeit empowering pop song. She is at home on stage in more ways than one. Firstly, her voice is completely powerful, and live it’s a religious experience… until she drops her first F-bomb then a dozen subsequent ones. That leads me to my second point: she connects to her audience. Someone yells out “I love you, Sara,” and she’ll call it out right back. The stage is her couch, and the venue is her living room; everyone feels at home as she tells you about the experiences that informed the song she is about to play.

Before she played “Manhattan” on that September night, she discussed her decision to leave Los Angeles—her home of fourteen years—to make the cross-country move to New York City: a need for change, a bittersweet good-bye, and the knowledge that this chapter of her life was coming to an end. She hints at a break-up, perhaps because she was back at the scene of the crime. The lyrics were chillingly beautiful. Written from the perspective of her ex, the one who’s left behind, you get a sense of the pain felt from both parties.

At the show at the Greek, she dropped the veil of detachment that she sometimes puts up while discussing her journey in making the new album. Perhaps it had to do with coming back to L.A. after moving. Perhaps it had to do with playing the iconic stage. Regardless, she showed raw emotion that struck a chord with me.

It was during this song that my eyes started to well up with tears. It was during this song when I had a moment of clarity accepting that all the tension I had felt in the months prior was for naught. After a stressful day, I’ll drive home from work to my quiet apartment trying to breathe deeply and think about anything else. It finally occurred to me that what was missing from my day was the ease of surrounding family and a feeling of home.
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My First Orange October in San Francisco

A year ago, I reflected on cheering on the Giants from San Francisco

The last time I was home for the World Series, I was in high school. I remember visiting California Adventure that October and seeing a Giants sign hung proudly across the faux Golden Gate Bridge (to be fair… and especially since we were in Angels country, there was a halo around the A in the life-sized California letters). In 2010, I watched the Series with my cousin in our Los Angeles apartment. In 2012, I watched the Series with a couple hundred Bay Area fans in Manhattan’s infamous Finnerty’s. That was the closest I came to experiencing a Giants World Series celebration with alcohol.

This year I moved home, and I was thrilled to be working walking distance to AT&T Park—home of the Giants. My first fall home, my first World Series of-age. What have I learned? The Giants aren’t just from San Francisco. They are San Francisco. And San Francisco is them. Here are 7 truths I’ve experienced over this Orange October.

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Anatomy of a Perfect Weekend

My guide to getting everything you want out of a “free” weekend

PHOTO: Prepfection.

PHOTO: Prepfection.

One lesson I quickly learned once I had a full-time job is that we cannot live for the weekends. We should have at least one thing to look forward to each and every day (i.e. pre-work coffee, lunch with a coworker, happy hour, a fun workout). Regardless, that time between Friday night and Sunday night is still sacred. There are weekends that dictate your schedule for you. You have visitors coming, it’s your best friend’s birthday bash, you are out of town… but on the off chance that you get to build your own, here is the anatomy of a perfect weekend.
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An Unexpected Honor

My experience aboard a D.C.-bound Honor Flight

PHOTO: Britannica.

PHOTO: Britannica.

Understatement of the year: I am not a morning person. So giving me a 6:00am call-time is simply laughable. I stayed up late Wednesday night to change my 7:00am flight—with layover—to an 8:20am direct flight. The pros outweighed the cons. Truly the only con was that I would have to settle for a middle seat. I decided Mercury retrograde was on my side… Little did I know the universe had more in store for me.

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Embrace Indian Summer in San Francisco

10 activities to take advantage of San Francisco’s Indian Summer

Indian Summer San Francisco

While the rest of the country is storing their swimsuits and shorts, Northern California experiences a spurt of warmer days in September and October. (Though I must admit the east side of San Francisco has been enjoying many a sunny day since I moved back.) We may not have the plethora of pool parties that SoCal has, but there are many ways to take advantage of the unparalleled views and fresh air. Here are 10 on my list. Continue reading