December 30, 2014


Viva 1 Viva 2 Viva 3 Viva 4 Viva 5 Viva 6 Viva 7 Viva 8 Viva 9 Viva 10 Viva 11

Viva Fresh Pasta

This is another of my favorite places in Northampton... for ONE meal. Yes, you see, I would get it every time. In fact, my last month at Smith, I went there for lunch three times. Every time: sweet potato ravioli with maple-walnut sauce. Side salad with lemon gorgonzola dressing. I wonder if they remembered me that third time. It was always the same two guys. Very kind, very professional. The pasta? Very good. I recommend going for lunch because the lunch prices are insanely better than the dinner prices. The caesar salad I had there once was fine but did not even begin to compare to the pasta. Funny thing is Kady didn't really like the maple-walnut sauce because she found it too sweet. Which goes to show, it's all opinions. Reviews are a good way to start. You read them to make sure no one has experienced anything horrific, but after that, you really don't know what you're going to love or hate about the place. All I can add to this is that the side salad came with an amazing dressing (lemon gorgonzola - yes, I will now recreate this at home) which is a huge plus because side salads are never something to get this excited about. And yet, Jeeeesus... So, try it out, I recommend it. Let me know what you think!

December 29, 2014


Valentina Duracinsky Cartagena
Silly me. I sure have gone through phases. Jeeesus. When I started this blog, it was very much a fashion blog. Every week I wrote "What I wore" posts and tried to write about fashion as if I knew something about it (HAHAHA). As a young teenager, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I still have all the designs (yep). I talk and think more about minimalism these days. I still enjoy clothes somewhat and putting together outfits for the blog can be fun, but I like other things so much more. Fashion doesn't fulfill me and if people in fashion think they always need more, more, more, maybe it's because fashion itself is so fleeting, passing and truthfully unrewarding.

Some of this might be embarrassing for me... but nobody is forcing me to write this, I guess I just don't care about anything anymore. HERE IT GOES:

1. I was obsessed with high-end brands as a (stupid, stupid) teen. I had one gigantic list of things I wanted to buy, and would just keep adding to it, never actually buying anything. I'm pretty sure I wrote "Louis Vuitton belt" at some point. I never fucking wear belts, man. 

2. When I started my blog, it was heavy on "What I wore today" posts and I wanted to keep things fresh. I had a similar list, more to do with colors than brands. Like, I wanted jeans and coats of every color. This led me to buy way too many things, and now I wish I could go back and slap 18 year old me in the face. Have you seen me? Black everything, always.

3. "25 essentials for any woman's wardrobe & if you don't own them then you're stupid" lists I find online make me want to throw up. But I used to look them up, and that thought also makes me gag.

4. Hey... When did denim underwear become fashionable?

5. Sometimes my mom talks about matching her shoes to her bag and I know deep down she must be an alien. Or a 90 year old woman.

6. I'm pretty oblivious to trends but am aware that I'm being brainwashed too. What? I'm not the only one who wanted a pale pink coat? what are the chances!

7. Sometimes I'll like something until I slowly realize everyone is wearing it... then I'll hate it. 

8. I feel uncomfortable in anything "sexy". Also, completely unrelated: I'm single. 

9. If you can't wear it on a farm, or get it dirty, what's the point...

10. Pinterest girls wearing brown boots, normal jeans, coats and loads of plastic accessories holding Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes... what's so special about it? Also, I cannot relate to fashion bloggers 99% of the time.

11. I refuse to buy anything from Urban Outfitters or American Apparel. I know you're definitely not a hipster, but you're wearing all the things goddammit. Also hashtags belong on Twitter and Instagram, stop bringing them into real life. IT. SCARES. ME. And no more selfies!!

12. When peplum tops were in fashion and didn't suit me at all, I realized you should never do what society tells you to. 

13. Fashion tip: If you look like a Brandi Melville model, congratulations!! you look like everyone else. 

14. The minimalist look popping up on Pinterest is cool sometimes, but other times I'm pretty sure the models are wearing XXXL bags as dresses. 

15. Shirts should not cost $10. Shirts should also not cost $999.  

16. The amount of clothing I own makes me so anxious.

17. I used to buy myself clothes as gifts to myself. This Christmas, I'm getting myself a bottle of Hendrick's. I'm so happy with myself.

18. One morning a few years ago, I was walking down the steps to the metro to go to school and  I tripped and fell on my knees. It was really dramatic and everyone was staring. I quickly got up and walked as if nothing had happened. It was so early, and I was so tired, I almost didn't realize it happened to me. Heels are evil.

19. It's extremely difficult for me to buy clothes these days because I have to answer questions in my head like "Do you need this?" Nope. I don't need any new clothes ever. But I'm human, thus stupid.

20. My favorite jacket is the Nike one my grandmother once handed to me saying "here's your trash bag".


Foundry 1 Foundry 2 Foundry 2-2 Foundry 3 Foundry 4 Foundry 5

The Foundry

This place is great. I went a handful of times, always for coffee or matcha latte, always to study. Last time I wanted to go study on the weekend there was a sign on the door that said 'no wifi on the weekends'. My friend and I stopped in our tracks and hurried the other way to the Roost. Doesn't seem like the smartest business move. However, I've heard great things about their food (they have sandwiches, salads, cheese plates...) and their drinks are really good. They also have beer which is nice, though I've never had any. It was always the middle of the afternoon and I was studying. 

Roost 1 Roost 2 Roost 3 Roost 4 Roost 5 Northampton

All great things. That is all. Goodnight.
I wish I could write just that. God I'm lazy. Then again the Roost deserves more because this place is fantastic. Their kahlua fallen soufflé cake inspired me and Genya to make our own. It still needs some tweaking to be this good but we'll get there! I've also tried a cookie they had out for us to try – it was very good. Their Guinness cake was ok but too cake-y. A bit dry, y'know? This is an excellent place to study (though they have ZERO outlets, so only go with your battery at 100%) and eat and drink and see friends. I'll miss having such a fun place around. 

December 27, 2014


Thai Garden Thai Garden 2 Thai Garden 3 Thai Garden 4

Thai Garden

I can't say I eat Thai food often when I'm home. Paris is not famous for its excellent Thai food – Parisians, where is the Thai food?! – and I remember my mom saying that the one or two times she's had Thai food in Paris, it was not the best. And yet, without much to compare it to, Thai Garden is quite possibly my favorite restaurant in Northampton.

I recommend their peanut sauce. Yes, I start with that. I tried to have a constant supply in my fridge when I was at Smith. What will I do without this place? When Hatley and the fam went to Noho back in October, we went to Thai Garden one night and Hatley ordered pad thai. I loved it. Can you believe I had never tried it before? She also ordered the most delicious coconut soup that I ALSO had never tried before.

I think Thai Garden is perfect because there is something for everyone. Seafood, chicken, tofu, pork... Spicy, very spicy or mild... If you are driving through Northampton or are staying a few days, go check it out. You won't be disappointed! (Little tip - for most items on the menu, their lunch prices are way better than their dinner prices)

Much love to you, Thai Garden, I will miss you.

Thai Garden 6 Thai Garden 5 Thai Garden 7 Thai Garden 8

December 25, 2014


Valentina Duracinsky Family Colombia Farm
Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I hope everyone is having a wonderful time, doing whatever you are doing. I'm in Colombia for Christmas. My mother was pretty successful at getting as many cousins as possible to fly down for the holidays. We spent a weekend at our farm which was wonderful. I stayed two extra days because it's my favorite place. Cali is hot and humid and I don't have the clothes for it but really, who cares. It's more about the experience and being with my family. I wanted to share my demo of Billy once again for Christmas. I shared it for the first time back in August and unfortunately have nothing new out, but I hope you will give it another listen or maybe hear it for the first time and enjoy it! Cheers everyone. Vx 

December 22, 2014


Jakes 1Jakes 2 Jakes 3 Jakes 4


I only went to Jake's twice, but I enjoyed both times so much. I used to hate the idea of going out for breakfast. Sometimes I have trouble going out to restaurants in general because, well, my parents were good cooks, and I've been doing it for the longest time and am also getting pretty decent at it, if I may say so, so I'll say "eh, but why pay if I can make it at home? and probably better." Pancakes were one of the first things I learned to make. So, seriously, why go out for breakfast? Well, maybe you're traveling. Maybe you just want to go out in the morning for a change. Maybe you do want something fancy like Eggs benedict. Maybe they have something you don't know how to make. I guess there are a bunch of reasons. My reasons are more about going out with a friend, and catching up. And not wanting dining hall food. If you're in Northampton, Jake's is one of the best places for breakfast. It always comes down to "Jake's, Green Bean, or Sylvester's?" It's hard... But maybe you're lucky. Maybe you have three mornings in Northampton. 

N.40 N.40 2 N.40 3 N.40 4 N.40 5 N.40 7 N.40 8 N.40 9 N.40 10

I don't know what this place is called. Stupid of me, maybe. I call it 40 Green Street but often people are confused: "That Lunch place?" Uhhh... maybe? They don't seem to have a website, a Facebook page or anything. I went there with my mom ages and ages ago. I got the ham, cheddar and eggs croissant which was simple and good. My mom got the one that came with hash browns. Scrambled eggs with hash browns. Because she hadn't lived or been in the US in a long time and remembered loving hash browns. When her plate came, the girl said "Sorry, we don't have hash browns today so I gave you a croissant." My mom said nothing but I was pretty annoyed. I did nothing, 'cause whatcha gonna do? Still, this was very unprofessional. I've heard a lot of great reviews. People told me to go for lunch but I never did. I'm sure all their things are delicious but the second time I went with a friend, they were out of ham or cheese or something and couldn't make one of the few things on their menu. So we left. Ups and downs. This is probably just me being unlucky both times. This place (40 Green Street) is very cute, and opens very early. Enjoy it! Other than the two mishaps there, it was still good!

December 21, 2014


Hola! I'm in Colombia again. It feels great to be back. It's so very humid at the moment though... Ah still – I'm excited about the fruit, I'm excited about being with my family, I'm excited about the farm and the dogs. It's all good. But guess who has a lot of blog posts lined up and needs to work on them? This Colombian. But, hey, it's all good.

ohh Pantone's color of the year (2015) is beautiful

this is a great workout, as is this

sometimes I really want to write a book or a short story... I used to!

some amazing homemade hair rinse recipes here!

this lady is beautiful

this lady (once again) is beautiful in this dress

other writing tips

3 ingredient smoothies that sound good

I really want to make an elderflower lemon cake because it sounds delicious

green blogs: let's do better [ 1 / 2 / 3 ]

uh... exhale

my fried Steve takes nice pictures.

my friend Dara does too.

The final episode of Serial season 1. Listening to it right now

December 16, 2014


Since I'm off to Colombia soon, here is some Carlos Vives to celebrate! 
I'm traveling as you read this. Quickly, quickly, quickly, I hope this day will go by quickly. 

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December 15, 2014


Valentina Duracinsky Smith College graduate

a smithie and her grandparents
a 20-something year old with a rose
a girl wearing a tunic as a dress because hello, packing
(whatever you do - don't raise your arms)
a wannabe minimalist
someone about to go to Colombia
someone moving back to Paris in January
because this is a photo of
 a college graduate.

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December 14, 2014


Sunday Links : V.Duracinsky 3 Sunday Links : V.Duracinsky 4
blablabla... Can I get away with not writing anything for this week's Sunday Links? As I write this, I have quite a few papers to write, a ton to pack up, then unpack, then pack up again – two suitcases for Colombia, two suitcases for France (but who are we kidding, I'll probably need to pay for a third suitcase, alas). There's many reasons for the silence this week, and then I'll be back with a bang! See y'all soon. Enjoy these links x

this chai masala pumpkin pie looks amazing

I want this coat!

tips for weight loss

new Manger blog post is up. Do you know her? You should!

how to increase willpower - hahaha! yeah ok...

the 22 rules to storytelling by Pixar

this is GREAT: 9 ideas to detox

this caramelized fennel bulbs with goat cheese is killing me

I like this lady's style. Simple blast of color. BOOM.

Figs and Orange Autumn Drink sounds refreshing in a autumn-y way

probably a cute idea of art to make with kids

I like this picture

December 12, 2014


mynameisyeh Crepe
yuuum! grape & brie crêpe by molly yeh

Boooonjour! Comment ça va? Ein ein? ooooh. Y'all know I'm moving back home soon. The American in Paris once again. Though I don't feel that American. I feel very European. Worldly. That's it, a woman of the world... Well, just because you don't live in France doesn't mean you can't make delicious French pastries and dinners. I posted some pictures of homemade éclairs a while back, and I will someday post the recipe that works for me, but for now let me say that yes, they were delicious, so you should be happy because this only means you can easily make chocolate éclairs at home! Yay! Here are 10 other great French recipes I'm dying to make... 


My parents never bought this for me. Now I shall MAKE IT. David Lebovitz's Pain d'épices

Jambon Beurre. I know this seems ridiculous but it's so good

I don't eat enough scallops. I should. These...

get your translator working... cheese tomato crumble (in French)

I'm totally afraid of making these... macarons, you're so delicious, I love you

steak with mustard sauce – I made the steak au poivre. This sounds really good too

pain au chocolat – I'd make them for guests

I can't remember the last time I ate rabbit... why so long ago?

cannelés... I think one probably has to taste one from a good French bakery first, and then make them. They can be veeeery good

these apple galettes sound like something the French would enjoy. I know I would

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