Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2 be back soon...

Hey! I hope everyone is having a great holiday break!! I haven't sat still since I got back from Italy last week and with Christmas, catching up with friends and family and such, I haven't had time to blog. Now I'm here in Atlanta (finally!) with Armon and I'll be here till January 6th. When I get home, I promise to catch up on blogging.

Until then, have a happy and safe New Year's!!

Arrivederci ;)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

1 buon natale!

hello world!

I am finally back in North Carolina and it feels GREAT! It was 70 degrees here yesterday and I was riding around with my sunroof open! But I have to tell you, the journey home was a very long and interesting one!!

I got to JFK around 4:15 PM and after going through the ridiculously long customs line, I got my baggage pretty quickly and met my Aunt Rutha outside. She lives about 5 minutes from JFK in Queens so she didn't even park. Everybody else was like, "Oh Niki, aren't you gonna stay and say goodbye to people??" But I just chucked the deuces and headed on my way! So glad to never have to look at those people again. lol

By the time I got to my Aunt's car... it was already 5:30. We literally left the airport and headed south to VA where we stayed the night with my cousin (her son). We got there around 11, and went to sleep around midnight. I think it was when I got to my cousin Randy's house that I realized I'd left my camera on the plane. :( So there will be no pictures in this post. Hopefully, the airline found it and I can get it back soon.

We slept for about 4 hours and then got back on the road. Now for those of you that don't know.... most people take I-95 south to get from Virginia to North Carolina. But on Sunday, my Aunt wanted to take an alternate route that I'd never taken, which is I-81. She told me that we could take this down to Charlotte and then take I-40 back up to Raleigh. So, I got in the car and let her drive the first two hours assuming she was right, because I didn't know any different.

Little did I know that we would wind up at the Tennessee state border and about 3 hours out of the way. I took over the wheel, found a map at a gas station and chose a highway that would get us back in the direction we needed to go. What I didn't realize, however, is that the highway I chose would lead me over the Appalachian mountains! So I drove about 30 miles and over two mountains before we got back to civilization. lol Luckily, I'm a country girl and I've driven through moutains before. When we finally got over the mountains, I realized we were in Boone, NC... which is about 4 hours from Raleigh. At this point, it was noon, and I had been driving since 8 AM... and I was worried that we would be late to the parties we were supposed to be making that afternoon.

I called my roommate to let her know where we were and not to wait for me. She couldn't believe I'd driven through Tennessee and was now in Boone. haha My dad called a little later and LAUGHED at me over the phone! Gotta love dads ;)

Anyway, we made it back in time to make my cousin Mackenzie's birthday party... and from there I headed to Garner to my friend Bobby's party for a bit... where I saw a lot of my friends from high school and college. I left there and caught up with my Garner Crew and ate MORE birthday cake for Amir's birthday.

By this time, it was like 10pm and I hadn't even made it home yet, I was still rolling around town with my suitcases in tow. When I finally made it back to my apartment, it was so wonderful to just sit down, and be able to sleep in my own comfortable bed.

With that said, I didn't leave my bed until 2pm on Monday. It was fantastic! So so glad to be home, you have no idea!

Tuesday, Christmas Eve and Day deserve their own post, so look for that tomorrow!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.

Ciao for now :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

5 ciao italia!!

You may think you have great weekend plans but I GUARANTEE mine are better than yours!!

I have been here in Florence for 3 months and 18 days... and in about 7 hours I'll be heading to the airport to start my journey HOME!!!! It's been a great time here and I'm truly satisfied with the time I've spent here but I have to say I'm so glad that I am DONE!

Wish me safe travels, and I'll see you in AMERICA!!

ciao! ;)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1 link of the day

fly lady di is leaving brooklyn! buy one of her paintings before she's gone...
buy one for me too :)

2 merry christmas!!

Today I've been listening to Christmas music all day and it has me so excited that we're only a week from Christmas!! I decided to share some of my favorite Christmas songs. Enjoy! ;)

Oh and here is one of my all time favorites that for some reason I don't have in my iTunes....

And another that I forgot to put in the mix but always gets me HAPPY no matter what time of year! haha

Merry Christmas!!! :-D

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

0 link of the day

i like lily's version way better! maybe its the piano? click the link and listen!

Monday, December 15, 2008

3 my last weekend in florence!

This weekend was my last weekend in Florence! I'll be flying back to America on Saturday morning.... yesss!!! There are Christmas lights up everywhere and it just makes me even more excited about getting home right before Christmas. They are pretty here, but no where near as pretty as what we do in the states...
The weekend definitely was a great one to end my time here with! Friday started out late, I didn't even leave the house until dinner time, but after dinner I went to this jazz club not to far from my place. It was great! A great trio played a lot of jazz I knew; Grover Washington, John Coltrane, and they even played MILES!!! Songs from one of my favorite albums of all time, Kind of Blue. It was too dark to take pictures in the jazz club, so I don't have any to share but I will tell you, its so amazing to me to be in Italy and see how much people have a passion for jazz, which is such an American art form! That just shows you how universal music is...

After we left the jazz club we wound up staying up to 5AM chatting and eating junk food at our friend Jessica's far superior apartment! I'd never been inside in all the time we've been here and I was definitely hating when I walked in a saw she had comfy leather armchairs and we have not one comfortable chair in our apartment.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon.... because that's when I woke up (lol), my friend Han dropped by my apartment and invited Becca and I for sushi. I'm ALWAYS down for sushi so you know my broke self said YES! with the quickness and it was completely worth it. She, Becca and I met up with Chris and headed to our favorite sushi spot here, and then afterward chilled at her apartment looking at ridiculous celebrity gossip magazines and websites. It was too funny... Han apparently knows every detail about any celebrity's personal life and Chris being the fabulous gay man that he is had an opinion about each of them too... good times! On the way home we stopped by this secret bakery that's only open from like 2-4 am. Its in this back alley right around the corner from our apartment... sketch! Buying a pastry from this place is like doing a drug transaction. haha

aaah sushi :)

becca enjoying the forbidden pastry

And that brings me to Sunday.... First of all, a couple months ago Stew told me that because wine is soooo cheap here, I needed to spend an entire day drunk before I leave. At first, I was like, why would I do that? And then, being Stew, he gave me the only real reason TO do it: Why not? lol SO... because I am a woman of my word, I ran the idea by my roommate Becca, she was down and so we picked a day. Sunday was that day. And we CERTAINLY reached our goal! lol

Here's how it went down: We started off a little after 10am with Mimosas and omelets for brunch. While we were eating/drinking we were watching That's so Raven and Fresh Prince of Bel Air in Italian. You have no idea how hilarious it is to watch these shows dubbed over in Italian (especially when you're getting light!) In fact, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air isn't even called that, its called "Willie il Principe di Bel Air" and they even had some Italian man doing a version of the theme song rap in the beginning. Too funny! I found the video for you because you know you wanna see it!! lol

By noon, we both had drank a bottle of champagne each.... but we kept going! With lunch we drank a bottle of white wine each.... and then in my drunken stupper I decided it would be a good idea to invite two of our friends over for dinner! I made spaghetti, it was good, but let me tell you, cooking drunk makes a mess!!

i think this was at lunch time ?? lol

a mess!

our friend, Mr. Chianti.....and Vivi laughing at our ridiculousness....
Check the calendar behind her head! ha!

We drank some really good chianti with dinner, and after that, I was done. When I start feeling sleepy... the drinking stops for me! I hate being hung over! I crawled into bed before our guests even left... which apparently wasn't the best idea because my roommate Becca not only kept drinking.... she LEFT the house and walked all the way across town in her drunkenness thinking she could make it over to our friend Chris's apartment. I can imagine her stumbling down the 4 flights of steps to our apartment and then marching through the streets like a wino. LMAO! Luckily Chris met her halfway and walked her drunk butt home!

I have to say the funniest part of this whole "drunk all day" experience though, was when Becca woke up the next morning STILL drunk. She was supposed to go take a final exam at 9AM and I was up super early the next morning (probably because I went to bed so early). When her alarm went off, she jumped up in her bed, grabbed her cell and said "HELLO??? HELLO??" bwahahaha I was dying laughing. She did make it to her final though, and took it still inebriated like a real champ! haha

So needless to say, it was a great weekend. I'm so ready to go home but I'm glad I had some fun before we head out. I'm like 90% packed and living out of my suitcases at this point! All I have is a paper due and a final exam on Thursday and I'm out!

1 artist spotlight: denis darzacq

These images are from photographer Denis Darzacq's "Hyper" series. None of them have been photoshopped and there was no special effects equipment used to create these photos! What you see, is really what he photographed. I'm not sure how he was able to get these people to fall like that, or capture it with his camera, but its pretty amazing to look at! For more on Denis Darzacq click here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

6 i would pee my pants

I would love my effin' mind if this happened at ANY concert i was attending. OMG! Just watch...

1 link of the day

very cool... we need this in the states!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

1 know yourself

Taken from Words From. I love that blog!
"Sun Tzu once said: Know yourself, and you’ll win all battles. The battle against yourself. The battle against others. Most importantly, the battle against insignificance.

Self-awareness does not result from an epiphany but a constant self-confrontation; a constant questioning of who you really are. So, Identity is not as constant most people think. Some think identity is a set of ideals that we represent, rather, i feel it is a set of responsibilities we must undertake. We are what we do.

"But we must remember that our identity need not be singular. Who we are is an amalgamation of different identities (brother, son, student, writer). People only fail if they do not acknowledge their other identities and focus on the one thing they feel comfortable being. You must be able to accept new identities, leave your comfort zone and have the strength to release those identities that are no longer applicable.

The concept of identity and the realization of who you are transcends wealth, health, and happiness. In this world where mortality and deteroration of our physical is a given condition, we need to strive to create a symbolic self to carry on.
Don’t limit your symbolic self by being one thing. Create, build, and cultivate your identity just like a garden. Then transcend cultural and societal expectations and just BE." - John Virtue
Well said.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

5 artist spotlight: kara walker

"I think of the work in that way that you have dream images, and the door and the hippopotamus actually represent the same thing. They’re all stemming from the same impulse somehow, which is something like a will toward chaos..." - Kara Walker

1 link of the day

this is really cool!

Monday, December 8, 2008

0 the First Lady of fashion

a blog dedicated to the fabulousness that is Michelle Obama

0 goods from allma

I love these tops from handmade clothing line Allma.
click the picture to see more on their website!

Friday, December 5, 2008

0 link of the day

more free music!

4 currently spinning...

Fever to Tell - Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This album is so good for getting work done. I put it on whenever I want to get in the zone. :) My favorite is the first track, "Rich". I included in the midtem mix I posted a while ago, but the rest of this album is fire too!

Spectrum - Brittany Bosco. I just discovered this lady hailing from Atlanta and she is FANTASTIC. This short little EP of 8 songs is perfect. You can download it for free here. Check her out on myspace if you're not familiar with her and her music.

Colin Munroe is the Unsung Hero - Colin Munroe. I'll admit I only downloaded this free mixtape because I saw Wale was featured on it and I love me some Wale! But I was presently surprised that the rest of the mixtape is great too. The Wale song is still my fave tho :)

Songs in the Key of Life - Stevie Wonder. I can still remember the first time my dad played this for me as a little girl and I love it just as much today as I did then. This album is perfect. Period. If you don't have it, get it!

Nina Simone Sings the Blues - Nina Simone. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Nina Simone. Maybe because she's an amazing pianist, perhaps the rawness of her voice, her bold attitude, or maybe just because she was a North Carolina export? I'm not sure what I love most about her but I can't get enough. This is one of my favorites of her many many albums. Rest in Peace Nina!

The 808 Experiment Vol. 1- SMKA. This collection of talented lyricists is so good. I'm loving so much coming out of Atlanta right now. Hip Hop isn't dead... the radio is! (Don't believe Beyonce. lol)

What are you listening to right now? Have a good weekend! 15 days... :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

0 link of the day

believe in yourself, work hard and live your dreams!
life is too short to do anything else.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

  1. Alicia Keys - "As I Am" I know this is not a new album but I've fallen in love with it all over again! I plan on getting the songbook and learning the whole album when I get back to the states. Man, I miss my piano!!
  2. This sweater from Karmaloop.com
  3. These Steven by Steve Madden shoes. I need a new pair of heels!
  4. These monogram earrings from Urban Outfitters. I wear the same silver ball studs almost everyday... but I think I could replace them with these every once and a while. :)
  5. This plaid top from my former employer, the GAP. Oh how I miss that discount!!
  6. Hello Kitty sewing machine!! I need a sewing machine and when I saw this reasonably priced one from Target, it started calling my name!!

0 artist spotlight: ali cavanaugh

Ali Cavanaugh is a St. Louis native who uses a unique technique to create these stunning paintings. She applies watercolor to plaster panels, very similar to the tradition fresco technique. (Think renaissance masters Michelangelo or Rafael). Her simple subjects are accentuate with breathtaking light and the result speaks volumes! She's had group and solo exhibitions in over 40 galleries across the US and her work is featured in 300 private and public collections all over the world. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Ali is that she has battled hearing loss for most of her life...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

6 changes!

I made some changes to the blog... hope you like! Those of you viewing this in Google Reader, click that little gray circle to the right of the title and see what I'm talking about!

Obviously the content of my blog will be changing a little bit as well when I return to the states. Although I won't have pictures of Italy to post anymore, I will try to post as regularly as I have this semester. With going back to a full course load + work and maybe a social life (?) it may be a little difficult but, bear with me!

17 days till I'm back in the U S of A.
Ciao! ;)

1 designer spotlight: courtney sloane

In my quest to find Black role models in the field of Interior Design I came across this phenomenal woman and was so inspired by her story! She's worked with a ton of celebrity clients but still targets her design company to the masses. She's done retail design, corporate design, stage sets, furniture design.... you name it, she's done it! For examples of her work and more about Ms. Sloane, check out www.courtneysloane.net. Her website is so cool too. Meanwhile, here's an article I found that pretty much sums up how awesome Courtney Sloane is!

"Sloane, who is as expressive in her language as she is in her work, derives her unique designs from her clients' personalities. "Living spaces and work areas should read like an engaging novel," she says. "Every room should tell a different story, and each threshold should invite new and exciting twists while maintaining continuity."

Alternative Design's revenues tell a story of steady growth, with last year's sales reaching around $350,000, and projections for this year at more than $550,000. Sloane is quick to attribute the company's success to the strength of her design team: seven employees including an architect, a full-time designer and a project manager.

Sloane has come a long way since 1991 when she started the business part-time while working as a design consultant for Formica Corp., a Wayne, N.J.-based building products company. Sloane, who attended Rutgers University, says she never saw furniture design as a career option. The reason was she didn't know of any African Americans in the field. In fact, the Washington-based Organization of Black Designers estimates that only 2% of all interior designers (there are more than 70,000 in the U.S.) are black.

Government contracts sustain most black design firms because they lack networking opportunities. However, Alternative Design has survived solely on commercial clients. "I would never get the opportunity to do what I like to do if I had to follow the specs," says Sloane, who enjoys having creative autonomy.

At one time, Alternative Design relied heavily on word-of-mouth marketing and black clients. Now, roughly half of its clients are white and Asian, and Sloane is getting some major play in the press. She is the first African American and one of a handful of female designers to participate in Metropolitan Home magazine's "Signature of Style" campaign for the Design Industries Foundation for AIDS. Sloane will stand head and shoulders with such industry virtuosos as Vincente Wolf, Glenn Gissler, Albert Hadley and Victoria Hagan.

While Sloane is attracting more sophisticated customers, she says that disparity still exists in the industry. There are no ground rules in the billing percentage of interior designers, unlike in the billing practices of architects, who receive a set percentage. Most interior design firms can command anywhere from 10% to 20% per design gig, averaging about $4 million a year. However, the average black design firm commands less "work for work" and "dollar for dollar" than its white counterpart.

Which is one reason Sloane is going global. Alternative Design was recently commissioned by a licensing company to design a commemorative watch for South African President Nelson Mandela." Source

0 link of the day

awesome magazine!
click on the covers to look at images from past issues...

Monday, December 1, 2008

4 update proper.

Hey ya'll!!!

So I haven't given a proper update on what's going on with me in a WHILE! Things are well here in Florence, I have 19 days left and I am too excited about going home. Being away from my family and friends on Thanksgiving was pretty awful. But! I did get to talk to the family briefly and I had some good pizza for lunch on Thursday ;)

I spent the whole weekend in my apartment this past weekend doing absolutely nothing. It was fantastic. I only left on Saturday night to go to a Jazz Club to get a drink with my roommate Becca and our friend Chris. Other than that, I sat around the house in my pajamas, did a little work, relaxed a lot and thought about coming home even more! I had to stop myself from thinking about packing because I was seriously considering popping open my suitcases. lol In my procrastination from school work, I even created this silly calendar to put on the frig counting down the days we have left! It looks like it belongs in a kindergarten classroom but I love it. I marked off the 1 today with a big red X!!

Today I took my final exam for my Textiles class and I am SO glad to be done with that class. The most aggravating and confusing class I've taken in a LONG time is finally over and I could not be happier about it. With that class done, now I only have my Italian final (which I will ACE as I have every other exam in there!), and my art history paper + exam. My art history things aren't due until December 18th, which means for the next two weeks, I'm free! I'm thinking of making one more day trip to Pisa... but the weather hasn't been cooperating! It's raining here pretty much everyday, it's cold, and the sun goes down a little before 4:30 each day. (That's part of the reason I stayed in the house all weekend). But! Even if I don't leave Florence again, I'll be hitting up a few places within Florence I haven't visited yet, buying a few last minute gifts and just enjoying my last few days of la vita italiana.

Ciao for now! ;)
<3 niki
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