With all the turmoil and horrifying things happening in the world right now, it’s so easy to get caught up in the atrocities, and forget the beauty and good that remains in the world. I’m in no way saying we should ignore the horrid, just let in the good too.

At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself all day.

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

I think it’s no big secret how much I love a good quote, especially when set in pretty typography or beautiful scenery.

Graphic rhonna designs quote

I captured this photo on a recent outing with my family. I dolled it up using two new apps I just discovered. I edited the photo on my iPad using PixlrExpress+, and this pre made graphic is from this adorable app called Rhonna Designs,rhonnadesigns.com.

Today’s post is brought to you by YA Reads Blog Tours, and is an interview with R. Barri Flowers, author of the bestselling teen novels, COUNT DRACULA’S TEENAGE DAUGHTER, TEEN GHOST AT DEAD LAKE, and OUT FOR BLOOD, come the start of an exciting new young adult adventure series, Summer at Paradise Ranch (Paradise Ranch Series #1)

summer at Paradise Ranch banner (more…)

Summers in Italy are a thing to behold. I’m fairly certain the phrase, “La dolce vita” was first coined during an Italian summer…perhaps in July…

I stumbled across this poem by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, and thought it rather a fitting


The figs we ate wrapped in bacon.
The gelato we consumed lustily:
coconut milk, clove, fresh pear.
How we’d dump hot espresso on it,
just watch it melt, licking our spoons
clean. The potatoes fried in duck fat,
the salt we’d suck off our fingers,
the eggs we’d watch get beaten
’til they were a dizzying bright yellow,
how their edges crisped in the pan.
The pink salt blossom of prosciutto
we pulled apart with our hands, melting
on our eager tongues. The green herbs
with goat cheese, the aged brie paired
with a small pot of strawberry jam,
the final sour cherry we kept politely
pushing onto each other’s plate, saying,
No, you. But it’s so good. No, it’s yours.
How I finally put an end to it, plucked it
from the plate, and stuck it in my mouth.
How good it tasted: so sweet and so tart.
How good it felt: to want something and
pretend you don’t, and to get it anyway.

— Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, “July”

Here are a few pictures I’ve snapped this summer so far…

me july 4 bike and vespa cappucino with cocoa Flowers left on picnic table italy gelato treats


As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my boys and I had a “fancy” tea, honestly it wasn’t all that fancy, I brewed a pot of tea, and served them in proper tea cups, but they considered it fancy business and I took the opportunity enjoy a cup of tea with my boys.

Tea pot and tea cup and saucer lavender shabby chic

Earlier in the week I’d mentioned going to Tea when we make it to the UK they thought me crazy…

Tea pot and tea cup pouring tea shabby chictea time shabby chic 2tea time shabby chic

However…I think they’re coming ’round.


Now I really want to throw a tea party.


I love tea. LOVE tea. Over the last year or so, I’ve really gotten into loose teas. This afternoon as I was having a “fancy” tea with my boys, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite teas, nothing too pricey as most of these you can find at your local grocer or supermarket.

best supermarket tea, best grocery store tea

*Some of these teas, I only had in tea bag form, so I had to open them up. I’ll specify which ones those were, as I’m sure they’ll appear less appealing than the whole loose tea.

Twinings, Christmas Tea* – I discovered this tea this past Christmas season at my commissary. Initially I found it in tea bags and I love the aroma, for this photo, I had to pop open a Keurig version as that is all I’ve got left (I bought 5 boxes when I found some after the holiday season sitting alone on a shelf.) It is a black tea infused with what I like to call, “Christmas scent”, Twinings USA calls it “spiced flavours of cinnamon and cloves.” I like to enjoy it black or with milk and sugar. This is also a favorite of my boys, who usually steel my cup, when-ever I made some.

Twinings, Earl Grey – You can’t get any more classic than this tea with it’s iconic blend of black tea and Bergamot. I like to make this tea with milk and vanilla syrup to transform it into a “London Fog Latte“. Yum. Yum.

Twinings, Lady Grey – Is my favorite tea. I love it’s soft citrusy goodness that comes from orange and lemon peel. I often have this in the afternoon, or in the evening curled up with a book.

Taylors of Harrogate, Green Tea with Lemon*- When my husband returned from his six month deployment to the UK, he brought me back things he knew I’d love, like tea cups, and a model of a those adorable double decker red buses in you seen in London and about 6 boxes of teas for me to try. Among them were a few boxes (in tea bag form) of Taylors of Harrogate teas. This Green Tea with Lemon, is absolutely lovely and refreshing.

Harney & Sons, Yellow & Blue- This lavender and chamomile blend of tea is what my boys get when the ask for tea just before bed. Inside each tea bag is a perfect blend of whole leaf teas packed with chamomile buds and lavender….If I had one wish for this tea, it would be more lavender flavor.

Teapigs Peppermint Leaves Tea -This was another gift brought back by my husband from England. Each nylon bag is filled with whole leaf tea. This peppermint tea is absolutely perfect. It’s minty with out slapping you in the face.  I’m sort of in love with this brand of tea for it’s great quality and eco-concious biodegradable packaging. I was very happy to learn one can find it on Amazon! Yay!

Bigelow, Green Tea with Lemon- After my husband brought home the Taylors Green Tea with Lemon, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere else, locally (here in Italy and at my commissary) so when I spied the Bigelow I figured I ‘d give it a try. I’m so glad I did because it’s pretty good and a pretty close match quality wise to the Taylors version. These boxes of tea bags are easy to find your local supermarket and I think Bigleow is definitely one of the best supermarket teas out there.

Taylors of Harrogate, Scottish Breakfast Tea – When I first tried this tea I was worried it would get bitter, like the Earl Grey can tend to do, but I found there to be no bitterness when over brewed. Win! Win! This is perfect for the morning! (I’m sure the whole tea version of this one is quite pretty too.)

Bigelow, Constant Comment – This black tea is great for a hot cup either with or without milk (I’m also not apposed to using cream.) or with lemon and honey. You can also make a great iced tea with Constant Comment, or even get creative and add fruit or syrups for extra flavor, I’d try peach or raspberry! Just follow the directions for seeping your own brew or iced or hot tea.

loose tea close up lavender tea_

Taylors of Harrogate teas can be purchased in the US on Amazon or at Whole Foods.
Tea Pigs can be found online at www.teapigs.com and Amazon.
Twinings & Bigelow can be found practically anywhere.