November 30, 2014

THANKSGIVING WITH GENYA

GENYA & VALENTINA GENYA & VALENTINA 2 
Today is the last day of Thanksgiving break. Since the moment I set foot in Genya's house Tuesday evening, it's been a blast. I've said it again and again – I'm not ready to leave. Especially since leaving means I have exactly two weeks left at Smith. This is stressful in so many ways. 

I have so much to do. Oh but I had plans too! I was going to get ahead on all my work for the next two weeks so I wouldn't be stressed. I was going to draw, paint, go for daily jogs, blog and finally finish my book. Big NOPE to all above. Now I have a ton of new pictures to edit, quite a few blog posts to write, a book to finish, letters to handwrite and send, school work to be done. I want to do it all at once and be done with it. You know that feeling when you have so much to do and you don't know where to start so you kind of postpone it until you're left banging your head against the wall thinking why did I do that again? I should have started sooner! 

GENYA & VALENTINA 3

But (and this ONLY matters if life is more important that work. Oh, wait, it is. I feel less stressed all of a sudden) I had fun. I had a lot of fun. And food. The fun was had because Genya and her family are amazing. Rozena is one of my favorite people in Paris (click HERE to read the article she wrote for this blog. HERE to see her in my pictures. HERE to see when she took me to Rosa Kiwi) . When I got back to Smith in September she sent me and her sister Genya a message saying since we both study near each other, heeeey you two should meet up! While I found it a bit strange to be on a blind date (friendship date no less. Even harder. If you don't call back it means Hey, human, not only do I not want to sleep with you but I don't ever want to see your face either) we met up for lunch in Northampton. It turned out Genya was just as lovely as her sister and we had a lot in common. She invited me to her house near Boston for Thanksgiving break. The second we walked in through the door, her parents were waiting for us with a plate of cheese and Lillet. I had already eaten a bit in the car so I only had a few bites. And that ends the self control portion of the weekend. Food, so much food.

GENYA & VALENTINA 4 GENYA & VALENTINA 7

Thanksgiving was at her auntie Bea and uncle Stu's unbelievable house surrounded by apple orchards and beautiful white trees. There were thirty or so people there. We went for a marvelous walk before dinner. The sights were beautiful and I was almost able to ignore the feeling of my fingers and toes about to fall off from the cold. Dinner was traditional and delicious: turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy, brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple pie, etc. Genya and I made a Kahlua fallen soufflé chocolate cake. After I ate, Genya and her cousins stood out in the cold with me. Going outside after a big meal is the most wonderful thing. Everyone kept asking "So... Do you think our family is crazy yet?" I've 15+ cousins in Colombia waiting to push me into pools – no, your family is not crazy to me. In fact, I loved everyone and I didn't want to leave. But we did. And while you might think that the day after Thanksgiving would be a day of detox, it was not. We met up with her friends and had lobster rolls, my one and only request. On Saturday we had bagels and lox for brunch and a big family gathering in the evening meant shepherd's pie, two kinds of salad and four different desserts. Today I've had black coffee. That will be all, thanks.

I've done a bit of cooking this weekend. I forgot how much I missed it! The Kahlua cake was a hit at Thanksgiving and the two salads I made last night were also praised. I love cooking for others. I look forward to many dinner parties once I get back to Paris. Rozena, here's your official invitation to all of them. I am very thankful to this beautiful family for letting me spend time with them. I hate thinking that I only got to know Genya ("ohhh muffiiiiin") my last semester of college. But her sister lives in Paris so I am sure we will meet again. Soon, please.

GENYA & VALENTINA 5



November 25, 2014

AUDREY HEPBURN

Heya everyone. Only a few weeks left here at Smith. Crazy to think about. So once again, let's not. Instead let's watch a documentary. A documentary about the fantastic Audrey Hepburn. I mentioned the movie Funny Face (one of my personal favorite Audrey Hepburn movies!) in my Balanchine presentation in Dance History class this morning, and I see her whenever I open my computer since she is the desktop background. I truly love Audrey. Did you know she speaks quite a few languages? She was quite a lady. 





November 21, 2014

WHEN IN WASHINGTON, DC

I stayed with my cousin in Bethesda, MD earlier this year. It was March, my spring break – my much needed spring break – and I had never met my cousin's daughter Gabi so that was one of the reasons I flew down for the week. Turns out she's the cutest and one week was not long enough! Ideally this post would have been written while I was there, and up on the blog by April but I kept putting it off, and then forgetting about it, until I decided enough was enough. It's freakin' November, I don't know what's wrong with me. Anyhow, we went out a lot and ate so many delicious things. My cousin was nice enough to take me to all these different places that served lobster rolls (because Washington is so famous for their lobster rolls?! ahem). See, I'm always craving lobster rolls. Here are the places we went to...

Luke's Lobster
Rather normal prices for lobster rolls (and other rolls) for a place in DC. Good tasting! I wanted more. Maybe the roll could have been a bit bigger. Only complaint (but isn't it always).

Found this place by accident one day. Lucky accident. It was delicious & interesting ice-cream. Again, slightly on the expensive side but so good!

Pho 14 1 - V Duracinsky Pho 14 - V Duracinsky Pho 14
One of my cousin and his wife's go-tos. Pho, and other amazing things. I got an incredible seafood salad in a pineapple as you can see in the picture above. Seriously loved it and have wanted it again ever since.

Another favorite of my cousin's. This peruvian place was fantastic. Fancy looking but not overpriced. Good service, good food. Ceviche is one of my favorite dishes ever, but I usually have it Colombian style. Peruvian style is delicious too! 


Red Hook Lobster - V Duracinsky
Red Hook Lobster Pound
Very fond memories of this lobster roll. It was so worth it. We looked for the location of the food truck that day, took the subway there, ordered two lobster rolls (yikes, price) and wished we had all the money in the world to order several more. Or better yet, to have a personal food truck follow us around for eternity, meeting our hourly lobster roll needs... one can dream. 

Vapiano
Such a fast pace and cute chain. Everything I've had here has been good. Their pizzas, their salads, their drinks. Inexpensive and perfect place to meet a large group of friends for sangria and a fun night out. 

tacklebox - V Duracinsky tacklebox 2 - V Duracinsky Tacklebox
I loved the tilapia tacos here so. so. so. much. The first time my cousin and I went, we split a lobster roll and the tacos. The second time (because I needed a second time) I just got the tacos. It was the highlight of my georgetown shopping afternoon. So good!! 

Georgetown Cupcakes
I've been told there's another cupcake place to look out for (but the person couldn't remember the name) as well. I'm not usually a cupcake person but during my week there, I ate about 4 cupcakes. My favorite was the salted caramel. I can't sell it enough. Try it. Try it. Try it. 



November 20, 2014

25 THANKSGIVING DINNER IDEAS

 photo 303607017_ae38fea294.jpg photo cauliflower-broccoli-pomegranates-WCGL-01.jpg
Picture one: sweet Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake from the genius Smitten Kitchen


Thanksgiving stuff. I know, it's all around. The other day I thought it would be a fun idea to put together a list of thanksgiving dinner ideas; delicious things to make for your family and friends. If it were last year's me, this post wouldn't be written and up on the blog until April but I'm much more organized now (high-fiving a million angels). What I didn't know was that it would take soooooooooo sososososo long to find 25 recipes worth sharing. Not all of these are "traditional" but most have something that is somewhat holiday-ish or Thanksgiving-related in my mind. Like the salmon at n.6, you know? I saw 'maple' and thought, sure why NOT! Truth be told, I also prefer salmon to turkey anyway. Moving on. Expect a lot of pumpkin. A lot of glazed, bourbon, caramelized, maple, pomegranate, sage, brown butter... reoccurring words and tastes that I welcome into my blog and mouth.

Sidenote - I feel like an old person. My eyes hurt and I've zoomed the chrome screen into 125%. Is it just me or anyone else out there going to let me know I'm not alone?


  1. broccoli, cauliflower and pomegranate in tahini dressing, why not?
  2. three words: onion, fig, gruyere. YOU IN!?
  3. bourbon. pumpkin. cheesecake. 
  4. thin crust pear tart for a light dessert (in a way)
  5. cranberry rosemary spritzers, anyone?
  6. maple bourbon glazed salmon? say no more. I want this instead of turkey
  7. orange and pastis braised fennel - now this is something!
  8. simple brown butter biscuits to go with everything
  9. maybe start with a light ginger, apple, pumpkin soup
  10. these are my fav! glazed sweet potatoes with pecans
  11. more pumpkin, always! spice-kissed pumpkin pie
  12. uh... everything in this Friendsgiving
  13. pear almond galette oui oui
  14. caramelized shallots because I caramelize everything
  15. pomegranate & pear salad - something light and delicious
  16. pomegranate, sage... ignore whatever doesn't sound thanksgiving-y and make it!
  17. brussels sprouts salad with pomegranate
  18. pumpkin bourbon milkshake
  19. garlic mashed potatoes, yuuuum
  20. for the vegetarians (or lovers of tempeh, like me) maple grilled tempeh
  21. turkey... meatballs? festive? maybe not, but I'm into it
  22. thanksgiving roux bread here
  23. hmmmmm lemon and sage hot toddy
  24. rum and pomegranate roast duck - always! duck! yes!
  25. pumpkin pie with caramel brandy hard sauce. You are welcome. Goodnight.


November 17, 2014

BITS & PIECES

b & p 1

A bit of a quiet week, I'll say. I'm trying to do all the work for my classes while remembering to enjoy every last second of my last 20-something days in Northampton. Last 20-something days of Smith College. Of college. Forever. Let's not go there again. 

b & p 2 b & p 3 b & p 4 b & p 5 b & p 6 b & p 7 b & p 8 b & p 9 b & p 10 b & p 11 b & p 12 b & p 13

I've gone out quite a bit. I enjoyed another Lucky's Immune Boost juice from Haymarket last week while recovering from a cold, kicking it in the butt with trillions of packets of emergen-c. Kady and I finally tried out The Sierra Grille after too many people telling us it's one of their favorite places and how had we not gone yet? so we shared the poutine and the duck confit panini. Duck confit panini, food of the gods. Genya came over Saturday night and we split a pint of Stephen Colbert Ben & Jerry's. It was necessary. It was worth it. We talked for 5 hours non stop. Thanksgiving with her and her family is going to be a blast.

Here's to another great week. cheers x


November 13, 2014

STYLE: LOVE

Valentina Duracinsky - The Northern Light - Beautiful Model
this is so so beautiful! See her blog: The Northern Light


This is like my usual "Sunday Links" post but all about style. If you follow me on Pinterest (do, do! here, here) you might have noticed that I post mostly street style pictures and food pictures. I seem to have fallen into some kind of weird rabbit hole of models and coffee cake, and I'd love to get out because it's getting to feel a wee bit like an obsession! Ah but let us indulge in some lovely inspiration just this once. Girls wearing clothes. Not that I need any new clothes, but I try to get ideas on how to pair colors, or wear certain items... you might find it helpful too. Cheers!


Street style... all in black
I don't own white jeans but I love this
Ah that striped dress is a dream - it fits her so well! Chiara
This model is goooorgeous
white and green! yes! white and green! 
all in black - spring edition
nude pumps - these are quite beautiful
great back to this dress.. so elegant
the high waist - Look de Pernille
no to the shoes, yes to the green
great coat, 5 inch and up!
trench obsession on Frassy
Pink trench? Yes please
This picture is beautiful and her style: perfection
not my usual style but I love this
Victoria Beckham if you can believe it (here)
Fur. Yes? Good.
Those cropped pants! Like Audrey H.
Can I be them? any one of them.


November 11, 2014

BREAKFAST IN SICKNESS

IMG_0738

D-31. It must be just that time of year again. No rhyme or reason to getting sick and coming down with a cold. You can wear scarves (two at a time, if you're me) and goddamn useless fingerless gloves, take multi-vitamins and echinacea, drink water, wash your teeth and your face and your hands, it's going to happen because you're just that lucky. Now comes phase two. Rest and attack (because those two obviously go hand in hand.) I went to whole foods and cvs for nyquil, emergen-c, disinfectant wipes and a few other things. I bought a pomelo which is one of my favorite fruits in the entire world. It's huge and I've already had 2/3 of it today. Again the raspberries were on sale at whole foods. And, although not cheap, the bag of clementines was screaming 'buy me! buy me!' so I obeyed because that's how you react to a talking bag of clementines. I also stopped by Noodles for some hot noodle soup. Perfection.

I couldn't go to class this morning, that was for sure. I changed my sheets, opened the window, made tea, changed my pjs, went through a dozen disinfectant wipes wiping everything in sight, made tea, took a shower, made tea, and I then this breakfast. It was delicious and soothing. Rolled oats with dried figs, goji berries, green apple, cinnamon, maca powder, almonds and maple syrup. The best. It deserved a picture and a blog post. I did some work, some drawing and painting, some writing, some reading, some drinking of emergen-c hoping I won't get any of the vitamin-C overdose side effets. It's almost 5pm. Once again I feel like I should have done more. 

There are still a few more hours in the day to be productive. Oh the glorification of 'busy'.
Ample time to finish that pomelo.

MUSIC FOR THE SOUL


Chet Faker :: Talk is Cheap

I listen to a lot of podcasts these days... walking to and from class, going downtown, in my room. I haven't discovered many new songs or artists that I love. I'm trying not to exhaust those I do. There's nothing worse than getting sick of music you love. Here is a beautiful song I haven't heard in a while. Do give it a listen. It's a favorite. Do you have this problem too? My answer to it was to listen to even more podcasts but maybe you have another. Please share music with me! I need some new songs to listen to. Much love. Vx


November 9, 2014

SUNDAY LINKS: Nov 9

coffee SIP

Damn am I happy I found this guide to making so many kinds of hummus!
Haha... I stumbled upon this the minute I started eating a banana. LIFE!

I want to read these books about Paris, France, or the French: Paris was Ours, The Sweet Life, One Soufflé at a Time, Losing it in France, Lessons from Madame Chic.
I would love these cookbooks too! Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Julia Child of course), Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (seems necessary), Joy of Cooking (another classic), Rose's Christmas Cookies (I just like the idea of special Christmas food), Huckleberry, Jerusalem: A cookbook, Bar Tartine.
Neil deGrasse Tyson recommends these 'intelligent' books.
10 books that will 'change your life'... Haven't read one.

Alphons Mucha, my favorite! Look at all the beauty
Art: Jean Jullien's work - check it out
Coffee art.

Why minimalism should not be entered lightly
Yes, yes, yes... Simple technique to stop procrastinating


November 8, 2014

LIFE LATELY

Valentina Duracinsky - Graduation

I can't believe I'm moving back to Paris in January. I don't want to think about the details (work, travel, job, music, love) because I get anxious. But I like thinking about the French, about France, about Paris. I've been nostalgic. I remember meeting up with Hatley and our parents in the south of France. I was 7, 8 and 9: we met up every summer. Often I would order "un citron pressé". Everyone knew I loved lemon. I was the lemon girl. I have the holes in my teeth to prove it (hardly noticeable indentations, really). I was living in Pamplona at the time. Too young to know we were living with the ghost of Hemingway. I was in Spain and didn't know we were moving to France. I was 10 when we moved to Paris. Paris!

God I hated Paris. 

But I rarely think about my teenage years. 10 to 19... those years. I'm sure they shaped me into who I am but most days I think thank god I grew out of that phase. And by "that phase" I could mean one of a thousand. I was a particularly depressed teen. I came to Smith thinking I had a lot in common with Sylvia Plath and am leaving with the realization that I'm much more like Julia Child (they both went to Smith College. Just in case you were wondering why in the world I would compare myself to them.) Heck, I could even be Kurt Vonnegut. He was in my house. I see where I'm going here and the possibilities are endless when writing about those years so let's move on. I love Paris now.

I was talking to my dad on the phone the other day (people still do that!) I told him I hate when people ask me what I'm going to do after I graduate (I'm graduating, yes. In December. Is this the millionth time I've said it? Quite possibly.) I usually answer something like "Oh... you know... going home" or just run away really quickly. Zigzagging so they won't catch me. Because "I hope I can find a temporary job as a waitress" is really setting the bar kind of low. I've got a million ideas. Mostly freelance stuff (because I want to be a millionaire, of course.) My dad was particularly serious that afternoon and didn't understand: "Why don't you just tell people you will be focusing on music?" I remember this because it was unexpected and just great. Great to know that your own parent believes in you and your dream. So much so that they think you should focus on something that you know will make you poor! hurrah.

Maybe it's wrong that for the past few months I've completely neglected music, my so-called passion, worrying more about all the little things I can do on the side to make money once the college phase has ended and I'm pushed into the real world. Maybe it's okay to venture out a bit and see what else I can do. To try to be responsible and also say "Hey dad, it's nice that we can live together like flatmates and all, but I do need money so I can move out at some point". Maybe I should just close my eyes, smile, and hope for the best. Maybe confusion isn't the end of the world.

The moral of the story is something-something-adulthood.


November 6, 2014

BEET & GOAT CHEESE SALAD

Tahini salad 2 Tahini salad 3

goat cheese salad w/ lemon tahini dressing

Salad
1 oz goat cheese
1 medium beet
3 asparagus
lettuce
1/3 avocado

Cut up all ingredients into bite size pieces. toss in salad bowl. Make pretty – or not. Beauty is secondary to taste. Add dressing. Eat. Drool. 

Dressing
1 lemon
4 tbsp tahini
6 tbsp water (more or less for desired thickness)
optional garlic clove
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk until smooth.

I love this salad so much. Despite the tahini and goat cheese, it's not too heavy. It's perfect, really. As you can see, I had roasted cauliflower and broccoli on the side, and let me tell you, they were delicious with the dressing as well! Basically the lemon-tahini dressing is good on anything. 


November 4, 2014

FAMILY TIME

Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Family Weekend

It was Family Weekend here at Smith, and my family came from all over. Ann & David flew in from California, Hatley flew in from Washington, DC and my mom came all the way from Colombia. My dad stayed in Paris, he had excuses like "I have work" mouais, c'est ce qu'il dit... Ah, but it was absolutely amazing. I realize that we went to so many places, this almost reads as a guide to Northampton. So, hello and welcome to Northampton, you will enjoy your stay. 
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