Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sicilia Selvaggia, Wild Sicily

The view from Erice, Sicily  |  Sicilia Selvaggia, Wild Sicily  on *sparklingly  |
"I'm so glad that I fell in love with a Sicilian. There's something about the uninhibited, but many-times-over-inhabited land that makes sense to me. The fiery spirits and fiery food, the wildness of the plains, the roughness of the rocky crags, the introvertedness of people living in small, remote hilltop towns where they only speak Ancient Greek, the hooded glances and double-voweled and -consonant'ed dialects that echo Arabic origins, the fierceness and protectiveness of a much-conquered people. I don't think I'd ever set foot in a place that I recognized as much as I did as when I first rode the night train from Reggio Calabria on the mainland to Messina, the port of entry into Sicily.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Arancini Taorminesi and how I cook

Arancini Taorminesi  on *sparklingly  |
{  Arancini, before  }

The first time I bit into an arancino it was a massive disappointment. I had finally arrived in Sicily via the overnight boat train from Reggio Calabria to Messina and then down the coastline to Taormina-Giardini Naxos before taking a bus up into the hilltop perch of Taormina proper.

The view, the streets, my goodness, the people!—it was all glorious, beautiful, magical.

But that first taste of Sicily in the form of an arancino obtained from the very first tavola calda my panicky, hunger-stricken eyes set upon, was oily, gummy, and burnt.

Years later I get a huge kick out of eating proper Sicilian, nay, Taorminesi, arancini made in my own house, by my very own Sicilian (procured on that initial trip). True, the view from my apartment isn't quite the same, but crunching on these rotund pockets of bliss without purchasing a plane ticket isn't too shabby, either.

Arancini take their name from arancia, the Italian word for "orange". These adorable, portly (and portable!) little balls of rice are filled with any number of things, depending on where you find yourself. They always have cooked rice and mozzarella/pecorino tucked inside, but the ingredients that come next vary—you might find ragù (tomato meat sauce) or béchamel or peas or eggplant or some combination of those, or something entirely different. Regardless of what's concealed within, arancini are true Sicilian street food, made to munch on while standing at a bar or a vendor's stall.

Other regions of Italy have similar balls of goodness, like Rome's suppli.

The arancini from R's hometown, though, are a wonder unto themselves, being filled with rice that's run through with pesto al pistachio, a heady pesto made from the famed pistachio of Bronte, near Mt. Etna. The nuttiness is spectacular.

But, they take a quite a lot of doing to create, especially at home with our very limited counter space, so it's not often that we have them. Thankfully, R has finally seen the beauty of making extra, so now he takes a portion of the formed arancini and wraps them for safekeeping in the freezer and we can enjoy his hard work for a few more weeks.

Which is how we came to be tucking into a plate of these this past Sunday evening.
Arancini Taorminesi + a knitted napkin on *sparklingly  |
{  Arancini, after with a handmade knit cotton napkin }

There was just enough for a flirty taste, so I tossed together a salad to accompany our dinner. The fridge was a little sparse, though, so I made do, which is how I cook. I'm not one to follow recipes—I typically get ideas and inspiration from them, but hardly ever wait until I have all the right ingredients, nor do I measure the ones I do have. I'm not afraid to substitute or estimate—sometimes it works out perfectly, but there have been some rather lackluster dishes to come out of my kitchen thanks to my lack of patience and unwillingness to follow someone else's directions.

That's okay, though—this salad was one of the winners: roughly chopped romaine + red onion marinated in an olive oil and white vinegar bath to mellow its sharpness + wedges of apricot + hefts of mozzarella + a few shreds of fresh chili + a generous grind of black pepper + a sprinkle of salt = the perfect accompaniment to the enveloping crunch of a well-made arancino.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Italian intermezzo

Consulate Generale d'Italia citizenship request interview | *sparklingly | "An Italian intermezzo"
{  Consulate Generale d'Italia a New York  |  18 June 2013  }

After some depressing revelations plus a fluster-filled trip to the bank last week, I'm happy to say the long-awaited, much-feared morning of my appointment at the Italian consulate has come and gone and I am done. D.O.N.E.

First though, you need to hear about that bank trip.

Despite not having a key document (at least the technically not-expired-one) yet, we decided to just act like we had everything we needed and go to our appointment at the Consulate Generale d'Italia a New York this morning as planned. To do that though, we needed to complete a wire transfer to the Minister of the Interior in Italy for my application.

So last week I went to my bank with instructions (printed from the Italian Consulate's website) and hand them over to the banker to get the money on its way. She informs me that the information I've given her is missing an address, which is required for foreign transfers. Luckily I had 10 minutes before the Italian Consulate's phone line closed (they're only open for 90 minutes a day—obviously), so I quickly call and explain the situation and asked for the address to include in the transfer.

The woman says:
"No one has ever needed an address, so I do not know why you decide to need one."

I relay this to the banker, who says she absolutely cannot send money abroad without an address, to which the Italian woman says in all seriousness:
"All the information you need is on the website, I cannot offer you any more advice than I already have, so if your banker requires something extra, I suggest you to change banks."

Awesome. So helpful. Mille grazie.

After hanging up I did some furious Googling while the banker taps her pen on the desk and found the address on the Consulate General d'Italia a Melbourne's website—thank you, Australia!—so I was able to leave with my receipt showing that yes, I did send a few hundred dollars to the Minister of the Interior in Italy for my citizenship request.

This morning I woke up completely nauseous, as I was 100% sure they'd deny my documents—either the one that was older than three months or some other one for a silly reason. Once we arrived at the Consulate (see the picture I snapped this morning, isn't it pretty?) with all my newly re-issued, doubly-paid-for, generously notarized and Apostille'd documents + stack of filled-out forms + hefty wire transfer receipt, I calmed down a teensy bit. Especially after I realized it's almost exactly 8 years to the day from when I first met R, so there's got to be some luck in that, right?

Turns out our case reviewer was the same woman who I spoke with on the phone! While I was a little annoyed with her last week, she turned out to be quite sweet and understanding. And, except for one tiny little snafu (the Italian document we have that certifies our marriage is registered in R's city hall is only a "certificate" instead of the long-form registration), all our documents were accepted!

We did have to pay another sizable fee (which was not mentioned anywhere else, of course), but we left with the promise that we'd receive a case number via email in a day or two and that the Italian government says the maximum waiting period to receive citizenship is 730 days (two years)! So, I have no idea why the woman we met last week is still waiting, but I'm holding them to their promise!

Technically we still have to get the longer (proper) form certifying our marriage is registered in Italy to have as backup just in case our abbreviated version doesn't suffice, but I'm just going to go ahead and declare that I am done! DONE!

If we move, it's easy enough to transfer our case (so they say), so sometime in the next two years, regardless of where I am, I'll get an email that asks me to come to my local consulate to swear my oath to Italy.

Best part of all this? No exam! (You actually don't even have to speak Italian, which put our case reviewer into a huff when she told us, and understandably so). For American citizenship, you have to pass a written and oral English exam AND take a test on American history, politics and laws! (I may have forgotten to mention, but we got a letter last week that R's American citizenship interview and exam is scheduled for next month, so he's studying and things are just rolling along nicely now!).

So, there you have it, my long-winded story to get to this point and now I shall make like an Italian and enjoy my much-deserved intermezzo. Whew!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The case for Svenska

{  Summer Barrel Tasting @ City Winery  |  Tribeca, NYC  |  11 June 2013  }

We ended up going out for pizza last night. Of course we did.

But first, I met R at City Winery for a little shindig they were throwing that we had absolutely no business being at (it was an event for the Classic Cars Club of Manhattan—of which we are definitely not members of, but the CW manager is a friend of R's so he kindly added us to the list). I walked over from my office in Soho after work, noted the adorable Shelby parked out front, and gave my name at the door to enter the winemaking part of their complex. Huge wine vats were being tapped with a serious number of wines out for tasting. City Winery is a restaurant, educational center and an actual winery—they make their own wines and allow members (something we are also not part of, oops!) to make their own wines there, as well.

After we sipped and sloshed our way partway down the line, we took a break and parked ourselves at an overturned-barrel-cum-table. At which point I felt it was a good time to launch into an emphatic, wine-fueled tirade against the Italian Consulate (naturally, since I was incorporating hand gestures, I had to revert to Italian). When I petered out I leaned my head against R's shoulder, sighed heavily and surveyed the room—at which point I noted a friendly-looking lady standing near us, so we all began chatting.

Surprise, surprise, she ended up breaking out into near-perfect Italian when R introduced himself (and she asked upon hearing his accent where he's from). Turns out she's been married to a man from Milan for 6 years. They're planning a trip to Sicily this summer so we were showering her with ideas and advice. She also casually mentioned to us she was waiting for her Italian citizenship through marriage to come through. Something she had applied for three years ago.

Three. years. ago.

She's still waiting for it! And, they live right across the Hudson River in New Jersey, so she submitted her application through the Newark consulate, which I imagine has significantly fewer cases than the Manhattan consulate—my local branch.


She was a lovely lady and it would be nice to do something with her and her husband, as she suggested, but, oof! that news was unwelcome. The only thing that could cheer me up after that was a lush, burrata-topped pizza from Emporio, one of my favorite sources of gluten-free pies—although they've just begun charging extra for it!—in the city.

So, lessons learned?

1. I need to start studying Swedish. Luckily I wasn't saying anything horrific in Italian that may have caused offense, but—more than once—I've been saying something somewhat sassy under my breath to R and turns out the people next to us speak Italian. This happened just last month on the way back from Mexico!

2. The citizenship process is basically a never-ending stream of nonsense. Although, perhaps I already knew that. Yep, definitely knew that.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How sure are we about this Bella Vita nonsense?

Homemade pizza on *sparklingly []
{  Our delicious homemade pizza—who needs Italy?  |  June 2013  }

Y'all. I am feeling completely despondent and sick to my stomach—this time, not physically, but emotionally. I'm so over not knowing where we're going to end up, but even more over the stress of dealing with all these bureacracies.

That Italian Consulate appointment that moved up? It's next week. And we're still missing one document. From a federal agency. Which has informed me it won't be here in time.

And knowing those Italians, if we cancel the appointment, we'll have to reschedule it (it took 10 months to schedule this one) and re-do all the documents again, as they'll expire (that'll take another $250'ish dollars, which you'll remember, we've already paid twice).

Hence my nausea.

The other option is to go to our appointment without the missing document and hope we can just laugh it off and return with it as soon as it arrives. I can also bring the previous version, which is only six months old, but they're quite strict about the 3-month validity required, so I'm pretty sure they'll send us home and we'll have to do it all again anyway.

My desire for Italian citizenship is waning, and the only reason it hasn't completely disappeared is because Sweden is now giving us a tough time. We heard from them this week—they have more questions about our situation—I have no idea what the problem is. My husband is a citizen. I paid your fee. I submitted all the proof. What more do you want?!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Welcome back

{ Rebel  |  May 2013  |  NYC }

Yes I had a lovely vacation, but the city of New York made me pay for it this week with an onslaught of annoyances (minor one by one, but nasty all together). How you ask?

Well, let's start with the weather. From balmy, tropical 80F degrees in Mexico to windy, shivery, 45F'ish in New York. I had no choice but to rebel against the tyranny of Mother Nature with some summery sandals. Luckily, my insurrection didn't lead to a cold (whew).

Then, more dealings with the paperwork-inducing headaches of the Italian citizenship process meant lots of early mornings this week hanging out at the NYC Supreme Court and NY Department of State to stand in line and hand over some cash just for a civil servant to stamp my paperwork (at least the settings were pretty). No checking of signatures, no affirming anything other than that yes, I'm a slave to the system. But, at least I'm making progress—this weekend I'll be translating records and just hoping that I get my last two ASAP, since our appointment is coming up!)

(Meanwhile, no movement on the US or Sweden front...)

{ NYC Supreme Court  |  May 2013 }
{ Inside the NYC Supreme Court  |  May 2013 }

And lastly, for another posy in my bouquet of overwhelming-ness, the vending machine at my subway station yanked my $20 bill away and spit back my subway card with a $0 balance. I stomped over to the station agent to explain and she rolled her eyes and said I shouldn't have put my cash in the machine. Oh really, lady? Then WHY is there an option to add value with cash!? I had to go to 4 other stations and make two phone calls to the MTA to get some straight answers (which involved me mailing a claim form, my receipt and my sad little card back to them in the hopes that in 3-4 months they'll send me back $20).

I get it, New York. You really, really missed me.

But, the week ended on a high note—I had the apartment to myself last night while R met up with some friends from Sicily that were in town, giving my full reign to do my thing. Which can only mean a night of homemade spinach pizza + a banana / chocolate / cashew butter dessert + a girly movie and a few hours knitting (starting my first non-accessory, non-home-goods, actually-requires-measuring-of-my-body-piece!).

That's more like it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Smited by the Gods

Lavendar roses |  "Smited by the Gods  | *sparklingly { }
{ Not even a glass...or a bottle...of wine helps  |  April 2013 }

So that whole rigamarole I went through to obtain alllll the fingerprinting, background checks, notarizations and apostilles for my Italian Citizenship Request?

I might as well have just spent that time banging my head against a wall while watching all the checks I sent burn.

Even though my appointment date was moved up, there's another big hurdle: When R called the Italian consulate to find out the process for starting citizenship proceedings for me, they told him to get my documents in order first before making an appointment (note: making an appointment means paying $15 to dial a number and be given a random time). They now deny this, saying, but why would we tell him that when sometimes it can take a year to get an appointment and your documents are only valid for 3 months?


I now have to REDO every single document. Last time it took about two full days for me to run around getting photographs and fingerprints taken, fill out forms, go to the bank and the post office,  etc.—I'm not counting waiting time, of course. And, I paid about $200 for duplicative documents (people: doesn't it make sense that if you have a free-and-clear document from the FBI you'll also be free-and-clear in every state?).

How fun that I get to do it all over again.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fratelli d'Italia

Paradiso Beach Club in Letojanni  |  Fratelli d'Italia  |  *sparklingly []
{ Letojanni, the Sicilian seaside town down down the hill from Roberto's hometown  |  June 2008 }
 A little weekend happy news (for me)—we just heard that the Italian consulate had a cancellation and they've bumped up our appointment up by two months! In just a few weeks I'll be strolling down Fifth Avenue with my myriad notarized and apostille'd documents to lay at their Gucci-clad feet.

PS. Fratelli d'Italia

Sicilian Folk Musicians  |  Fratelli d'Italia  |  *sparklingly []
{ Sicilian musicians at our second wedding in Sicily  |  September 2010 }

{ Our patriotic  speedboat off the coast of Lampedusa during our 2nd honeymoon  |  September 2010}

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An extension

View of the Arch in Washington Square Park on *sparklingly {}
{ Washington Square Park: you're still mine for a bit longer  |  13 March 2013 }

After a pensive weekend, followed by a week of email negotiations, our apartment situation is finally settled: we agreed to a 6-month lease renewal at a slightly higher (but lower than market-price) rent.


Things were looking bleak / expensive for us when our building said they could only offer a 3-month renewal, which wouldn't help since the new lease-end date would coincide with my Italian consulate appointment. Our building reasoned that we could always renew again in three months, but of course we ran the risk that the price would rise. Again.

We put off responding to the three-months-only-option e-mail, and were in the process of very grudgingly resigning ourselves to another year in New York (since subletting isn't an option for us and we also wanted to avoid another price hike in three months) when we received another communiquè.

Our landlords had reconsidered given my history with the building (six years, people!) and offered us a 6-month extension at a locked-in price. Not sure what prompted them to change their mind—maybe giving them the cold shoulder made me more attractive, the way boys are way more into the girls that give them the brush off?

Regardless, I quite like the idea of one last summer and fall in NYC. Although that does mean if we are able to leave when the new lease ends, we'd wind up in Sweden just in time for winter...oops!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Snowy deliberations

View of Trinity Church on Broadway and Wall Street in Manhattan { }
{ Snow falling...horizontally  |  Lower Manhattan  |  8 March 2013 }

As you can see, we've got a wintry-white weekend ahead of us.

Perfect for me, as I've got two days of taxes to look forward to, which will hopefully keep my mind off of fretting over (1) needing to decide within three weeks where we're going to live in NYC for the foreseeable future and (2) when we'll hear back from the US, Italian and Swedish consulates, which may make our need to prolong our time here null.

I think an Excel spreadsheet would call this a circular error.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tape, red or otherwise
{ Excellent Christmas gift from my Swedish svärmor  |  January 2013 }

Do you know where the phrase "red tape" comes from? Good ol' President Jedidah Bartlett enlightened me (although the Internet tells me the origin dates even further back, but let's go with what The West Wing says): apparently Civil War veterans had to go to D.C. personally to get their pensions after the war. They had to wait for a clerk to look through all the records until their papers were found—and they were bound in red tape.

Not that applying for foreign citizenship is equal at all to fighting a war (although theoretically it means that if there was a draft, I'd have to pledge allegiance to multiple armies), but I've been dealing with quite a bit of red tape, both foreign and domestic.

I mentioned some of the foolishness that was involved with my Italian and Swedish requests before and things are still pretty much just as foolish.

For Sweden, well that authenticated marriage certificate I mailed over did me no good on the residency permit side, but at least our marriage is now registered with Skatteverket, their version of the IRS. I only realized that nothing was happening when three months passed and no news was sent our way so I started raising a ruckus with the Consulate here to ask what the heck is going on (they had told me it would take three months maximum from receipt of my marriage certificate to having residency in hand, which is not at all how things went down). Turns out, we had been misinformed. So they gave us a bunch of forms to fill out, except when I got home nothing made any sense at all (and these were in English).

So I sent them a strongly worded email asking what exactly am I supposed to be doing with these nonsensical forms that ask where we live and work in Sweden when I explained to you that we wanted to get permission to live and work in Sweden? In response the Consulate sent me a link to an online form the very next morning—after 40 minutes answering questions, uploading documents, attaching photographs and providing my credit card information, BOOM, my request for residency based on familial relationships was sent! And now we wait.

For Italy, those cads are holding fast to their August 2013 appointment date, and I found out that the additional documents I will have to show are even more involved then originally thought. They want a recent copy of my birth certificate (of course I don't understand that since I wasn't born again), but it has to be translated and authenticated and stamped by the Department of State. Oh, and all of my four criminal records will have go through that same procedure...after I pay to get new ones done of course, since they'll be out of date by the time my appointment rolls around.

Although, as is the case with Italians, R met someone who knew someone who knew someone else that works at the Consulate and we were given an email address to use to ask for an earlier date. We did and were told that maybe they might have an earlier opening if we ask again in six weeks.

See? Red tape.

PS. Thank goodness everything is progressing for R with his US citizenship. He's already studying for the civics exam and we're just waiting for an appointment date for our interview, his test, and his oath (!) ceremony.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday meanders: 3

{ via }

Very few tidbits to share from my online futzing around last week...since I mainly meandered from my sofa to my bed and back thanks to this bug that's taken me down.

+ Coconut snowballs: Kinda obsessed with these no-bake, gluten-free, nut-free and vegan goodies (pictured above). Maybe when I'm standing on two feet again I'll whip this goodness up.

+ Santa Lucia: Oddly enough, there's a specific cultural/religious tie between Sweden and Sicily. Sweden (a secular, mostly Lutheran country) has an annual festival of light on winter solstice to mark the beginning of daylight and warmth as the year progresses. Lucy comes from the latin lux or "light" and the festival in Sweden is named for Santa Lucia, a martyred Catholic saint from the fourth century. She's the patron saint of Syracuse in Sicily (about two hours down the coast from R's hometown by car) and the blind (she's usually pictured with her eyes on a platter—a little unsavory). The Swedes celebrate with little girls (or boys...) dressed up in white with a crown of candles and lots of processions and singing, saffron buns and mulled wine.

+ The story of Jim: An beautifully disorienting, touching post about contradictions and life and lessons learned from Sarah at The Yellow House.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Joining the EU

NYC City Hall Archway
{ Looking up under the City Hall archway | NYC | December 2012 }

Let me tell you about last week—and why it involved getting fingerprinted more than once, writing a handful of checks, and filling out an obnoxious amount of paperwork.

We're about to hit the three-year mark on our marriage, which means: I can file for citizenship in Italy and Sweden! Well, Italy. Sweden requires you to actually live there first, but trust me, I'm working on that.

As part of the paperwork, I had to get an FBI criminal report and a police report for each of the three states I've lived in. Of course each individual body had their own specifications and costs and notary requirements, which made the whole process that much more interesting (sike).

I thought it'd be pretty simple after the legwork of getting fingerprinted was done—just wait for the FBI and all those states to send me a report, translate all our identification documents and get them authenticated and then call up the Italian Consulate to schedule an appointment and sweetly ask them to grant me citizenship, per favore.

Of course, it's never that simple with the Italians. They told us the next possible appointment will be in AUGUST 2013! I could have an Italian baby by that time! Not only did we have to pay $3/minute to hear that bad news over the phone, the $150 I spent on fingerprinting and record requests was for nothing, since by the time that appointment rolls around, they'll have expired. Annoyed doesn't even begin to describe my mood. I bet if they minimized their espresso breaks and lengthened their hours from about 2 hours a day to say...a normal work day of 7.5 hours we'd have an appointment next month!

(Note: we were instructed to only call once we had all the documents ready, if we had any idea they wouldn't give us an appointment for the time it takes me to grow a baby we'd have made the appointment first A YEAR AGO and then done all the run around to get our documents in order).

Meanwhile, we heard our marriage is thisclose to being formally registered in Sweden. I sent the paperwork back in October to register our marriage there, which would give me the right to receive their version of a SSN, which makes getting residency and benefits from Day 1 infinitely more easier, instead of waiting to do it once we arrive.

In the midst of all that foolishness, I finished R's citizenship paperwork for the US. After two rounds of fiancè visa applications for him to enter the country in 2009, plus applying for his 2-year green card in 2010, and then his 10-year green card in 2012, he can (finally) ask for US citizenship (like Italy, the US also requires you to be married for three years before making your request).

Am waiting for the day when I will no longer have to write a check to any country's homeland security/minister/etc. (I'm scared to even tally up how much we've spent in the last 4'ish years on this). If everything keeps moving forward R should have American citizenship next year and I will hopefully have Italian citizenship and Swedish residency within the next year...which would give me a break from dealing with immigration bureaucracy until 2016,  when I can ask for Swedish citizenship. And THEN I will no longer have to deal with this nonsense...well, until we have children and need to request citizenship in three different countries for them. Sigh.

I'm on my way to becoming Jason Bourne—except with legal passports.

And no Treadstone, of course.
{My trip to Goa | 2006 | Jason Bourne may have run down this exact same beach }

Monday, October 1, 2012

Turning the page

*sparklingly (
{ An autumnal table }

Much as I love the month of September (not only because it's my birthday and when a new school year starts—even though I'm no longer in school, but because I believe that everything starts afresh in the Fall, not on January 1st), there’s something sweet about October 1st. Maybe because it falls on a Monday this year and seems fresher? More crisp?

Regardless, I’m glad it’s here, if for no other reason that the subways are on their way to being more bearable and the A/Cs will soon be shut off (crossing fingers for no more descents into sauna-like conditions post-shower and pre-work and that yucky water will no longer drip on me from above as I pass below window A/C units).

Also, I can finally drag my knitting bag out, which has been holed up behind the couch all summer, and now drinking yummy tea, besides being comforting/delicious, keeps my fingers warm and soothes the throat! I’ve been thinking about ways I can commemorate what may be (if all goes according to plan) my last fall in NYC/the US (for the foreseeable future). Day trips upstate/Hudson Valley? More apple-y/squash-y dishes? More leaf-crunching walks? All of the above are in order, I think.

. . .

I’m tempted to start off just like that, but whenever I come across a new blog I always scroll back through the archives to the first entry to get the “How it all started” story, so it would be fairly sneaky of me to try and get away from doing it for myself.

So, here’s me in a nutshell: Born in NYC, grew up in VA, had a brief hop in the D.C. area post college, started a multi-year transatlantic courtship with R, a Sicilian/Swede whom I met on vacation in Italy, moved back to NYC, married my Sicilian/Swede (twice!) and have now decided to move back to Europe next year.

Not Sicily, mind you, which most people assume I would do, but the gloriously cold, organized, efficient, minimalist, sensible, soothing Stockholm! (It should be noted that I am notoriously always hot, have little patience–hence can’t deal with inefficiency/bureaucracy, and work in branding/advertising, so a major city is a necessity, which puts Stockholm miles above Sicily in my affection). PS. More on my love of Stockholm/Sweden.

Plus, if we ever want to start a family/have a dog without making drastic career changes, we need to leave NYC. And there’s nowhere else in the U.S. we'd like to live right now and I do want to live abroad at some point in my life, but don’t want to go to R’s hometown in Sicily, so Stockholm it is!

Other things to know about me?

+ I’m a first-generation American (of Portuguese/Indian descent).

+ The color purple (and its relatives), golden retrievers, anything ridiculously spicy, and all things cozy and candle-lit make me happy.

+ It's not that I'm anti-social, it's just that I like time alone or in (very) small groups. Huge parties give me hives, but intimate dinner parties, those make me super happy.

+ I don’t like horror movies (but love fast-paced international thriller spy-type ones).

+ I'm in the natural, sometimes raw, wholesome foods camp (which for me means steering clear of gluten and sugar. The former for a sensitivity and the latter for a desire to avoid toxins, which I feel sugar is, and which I suppose gluten is, too—at least to me). If you're interested in other things I do, all in the name of being gentler to myself, this post's for you.

+ I am enamored with Anne Shirley and Lorelai Gilmore.

+ I talk very, very fast (hence kinship with Lorelai).

 + My husband says I eat books because I zoom through them so fast. You can imagine he was thrilled when I carried a thousand-page book on Cleopatra's life with me on our honeymoon. Here's what I'm reading now.

+ I can be a bit bossy...and also very feisty. Poor R.

+ I like makings things with my hands—be it food, my own stationery, knitted doodads and other crafty bits and bobs (which doesn't preclude me from buying pretty things).

+ I think I like writing...but not actual writing. I love the IDEA of keeping a written journal, but I think I’ll have better luck in the digital realm vs. creamy paper and inky pen (which sound delicious in theory).

+ And the name? Well, I have a thing for sparkly things—wit, wine, water, jewels, lights, to name a few.