Alessandro recently entered a contest put on by Vosges Haut-Chocolat in which he submitted his idea of the perfect truffle and the inspiration behind his truffle concept.  The winner gets their truffle made as part of Vosges' truffle collection. 

Here's what he came up with: 

Truffle Name:  Chai-Town
Ingredients:  Chai Tea, Vietnamese cinnamon, fennel seed and milk chocolate
Inspiration:  On a recent visit to the Windy City, the warmth of my chai tea latte soothed my soul nearly as much as the Charles Mingus playing in the background of the coffee shop that Saturday morning.

His truffle made it into the voting phase among 300+ others!  Please stop into the voting page on facebook and vote for his truffle!  

Al says thanks! 

And I would just like to say that he was really really excited when he found out his truffle made it to the voting phase.  As soon as that email came in, he said in a very serious no-nonsense tone, "You have to come look at this email RIGHT NOW," while he proudly beamed at the idea that his truffle actually had a shot.  

It was also really fun to watch and listen to him bounce around ideas before coming up with the Chai-Town truffle.  I have never met a man who loves chocolate as much as Alessandro.  And I love that his passion for chocolate, for truffles, and for Vosges truffles motivated him to enter this contest.  So for that alone, I congratulate him on a job well done.

You can vote once a day now until April 30th, so please vote now and vote frequently!  


Who learns to play the bugle?

Montgomery Clift, that's who.  Welcome to the Montgomery Clift edition of the Classic Movie Series Recap.  

Let's begin with two of Monty's classics, then we'll get to the juicy stuff.

The Heiress 
(Directed by William Wyler, 1949)

Olivia de Havilland (Catherine), daughter to her rich father, the surgeon, catches the eye of Montgomery Clift (Morris), who falls quickly in love with de Havilland.  Or does he?  Catherine's father believes that Morris, who is poor, but strikingly handsome and charming, is feigning interest in Catherine for her expected monetary inheritance; after all, she isn't a looker or the most socially skilled woman in her father's eyes.  The love between Catherine and Morris is captivating, and even though we expect that Catherine's father is right--that Morris is in it for the money--there is a real feeling of heartbreak when we find that to be true.  Morris leaves Catherine and flees to California where he stays for years.  He finally returns and asks for forgiveness.  Catherine, who is no longer dull, naive, or timid, gives Morris a dose of his own medicine and leaves him wishing he really did love her.  

Source here.

Alessandro fell asleep watching this movie 4 different times.  It became a joke that we should just play this movie whenever he had trouble sleeping.  But that says nothing about the movie...it is not boring at all...it's just how Alessandro rolls.  He falls asleep in movie theaters too...and at the drive-in.  He fell asleep while watching both Inception and Shutter Island and then claimed he didn't like either.  

Next up...

From Here to Eternity 
(Directed by Fred Zinnemann, 1953)

Donna Reed + Monty + Burt Lancaster + Frank Sinatra - Frank Sinatra = eye candy!  (Sorry, love me some Frank, but he's not my type).  This is a movie that took me on an emotional journey that I didn't know was coming.  Private Prewitt (Monty) is stationed in Hawaii with his Army's unit, where he befriends Private Maggio (Sinatra); the two form a very tight knit friendship and enjoy their weekend passes out on the town with each other.  Maggio is a partier and I guess somewhat of a ladies man (even though he's twirpy, as Alessandro describes Frank).  Prewitt meets Lorene (Reed) and the two begin seeing more and more of each other.  Their love blossoms, but at the same time, so does an unlikely friendship between Prewitt and his hard-nosed Sergeant (Lancaster), who has his own woman issues.  For me, this movie illustrated the immense bond between soldiers, the loyalty to one another they have and the love of serving one's country.  (This is not a war movie in the traditional sense, by the way).  The women of this movie were weak, and I was disappointed in them and their lack of empathy or loyalty toward the soldiers who loved them and their unwillingness to journey into the unknown.  The more I think about this movie, the more I like it; I've watched it twice, and I'm ready to watch it again.

Source here.

If there was ever anyone born to be an actor, it's Montgomery Clift.  Clift was reportedly very hard on himself in all of the roles he played and often times hated the end result.  For this role, he learned to play the bugle  even though he knew he would be dubbed over by a professional.  He still wanted his lip movements to be completely accurate.  Burt Lancaster said that going into this film, he was so nervous that he would be outperformed by Clift that he was shaking during their first scene together in the movie.  

And, um, why is Montgomery Clift so extremely handsome?  I cannot stop staring at pictures of him. 

Source and a good read here.

Source here.
Source here.

He is better looking than any George Clooney or Denzel or Ryan Gosling...

Source here.

...wait, hang on, I haven't decided about the last one...but yes, he is better looking that any of our current day movie stars.  No one is better than Monty. 

Oh, but my poor Monty.  As handsome as he was, he had a tragic life.  He got into a car accident in his 30s that disfigured his face and required him to have surgery.  He became addicted to pain pills and started heavy drinking.  His looks, and life, went downhill.  His career after the accident was referred to as "the longest suicide in Hollywood history."  Marilyn Monroe, who is famous for her own problems, said about Clift that he is "the only person I know who is in even worse shape than I am."  (Via Wikipedia).  Clift died at the age of 45 from a heart condition.  Such a sad sad ending to a beautiful person's life.  

That's it for this week's Classic Movie Series Recap.  Hope you enjoyed!  And please send me some recommendations for classic must see movies. 

*Source for first three photos found here and here.*


"No man is a failure who has friends."

Welcome to the Jimmy Stewart Edition of the Classic Movie Recap Series.  That line probably sums up Jimmy Stewart's life considering that he was as likable a fella as they come. Hope you enjoy these recaps of two of Jimmy's classics.

It's a Wonderful Life 
(Directed by Frank Capra, 1946)

Stewart plays George Bailey, a small town man who can't wait to get the heck outta there.  But, his father suffers a heart-attack and he's forced to take over the family business while his little brother goes off to college to live the dream.  But staying back in his hometown isn't all bad...after all, he meets and falls in love with the beauty of the town, Mary (Donna Reed).  She makes Stewart forget his immediate need to escape their small town, but one day, he remembers and snaps.  He cannot take the kids and their problems, their house that is in desperate need of repairs, and the rest of the mundane acts of everyday.  It is not until something terrible happens to him that he realizes that there is more to life than college and big cities and he discovers that "no man is a failure who has friends."  This is a great movie.  Jimmy Stewart is awesome.  Donna Reed, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful actresses of that time.  She deserves her own CMRS, so I'm working on that one.

Source and a fun trivia quiz for the film found here.

Next up...

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 
(Directed by Frank Capra, 1939)

Jimmy Stewart is just your everyday man.  He runs a youth boy's club and is extremely popular in his hometown.  When he is summoned to Washington to be appointed as a Senator (a position he did not campaign for or show any prior interest in) his world is turned upside down.  He begins serving as Senator only to find out that his "heroes," the leaders of Washington, are nothing but corrupted politicians.  He becomes the target of a political probe after one of the corrupted politicians he threatens to expose turns Congress against him.  He starts a fillibuster and eventually the truth comes out.  Meanwhile, his Secretary, (Jean Arthur) falls in love with him.  Duh.

Couple of interesting facts:  I noticed that the woman who played Stewart's mom (Beulah Bondi) here also played his mom in It's a Wonderful Life.  I looked it up and turns out she played his mom in 4 films total.  (I haven't been able to find out what the other two films were, so if anyone knows, that info would be greatly appreciated).  And, at the time that this film was produced and released, there was great controversy over the showing of the film due to the light in which it portrayed the US Government.  The film was banned in Nazi Germany and other crazy places. 

Source here.

By watching Jimmy Stewart act, even though he's playing a roll, you can tell that he's a good guy in real life.  And from reading his Wikipedia page, it is clear that is an understatement.  He was a philanthropist, a devoted husband (married for 45 years before his wife passed away), a war hero and a modest man.  

Stewart's military career was just as successful as his amazing acting career.  He was a skilled pilot, the first major movie star to wear a military uniform in WWII, and rose to the ranks of Brigadier General, which is above a colonel and below the major general.  Pretty awesome for a guy who was at first refused admittance to the Army because he couldn't make weight--he was too thin!  

And I love how Jimmy Stewart talks!  His voice is so awesome...and unique.  

I should mention that Alessandro thinks he is Jimmy Stewart.  (And that lack of modesty alone should be a hint to him that he's slightly off, ha!)  

UP NEXT:  Montgomery Clift Edition!  My favorite!

*Sources for first three photos found here, here and here.*


"Frankly my dear, I just don't give a damn."

That line sends chills up my spine.  It is one of the most famous lines in the history of movies.  And it's thanks to this man. 

*Actually, in the film, the line is "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," but as written in Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the line includes the "just" and since I read the book first, that's the way it always will be for me.* 

Welcome to the first edition to the Classic Movie Recap Series (CMRS).  It's our boy Clark Gable with two of his best hits:  It Happened One Night and Gone With the Wind.

It Happened One Night 
(Directed by Frank Capra, 1934)

Ellie (Claudette Colbert), a spoiled brat, is tired of being a spoiled brat and takes off after her rich banker father doesn't approve of her marrying some D.B.  She meets Peter (Gable) on a train out of town.  Gable does not immediately swoon over her, which obviously peaks her interest.  Gable and Colbert travel together while trying to get to NY and end up having several adventures.  They sleep in the same room (scandalous), share witty back and forth banter, and later find out that they love each other (duh, you knew that was coming).  Gable is so so funny in this film.  laughed out loud at several of the scenes.  I thought this film was a bit risky for its time, but actually I realize I know nothing about life in the 30s, so maybe it wasn't.  Ha!  I could watch this movie over and over again.  I think I had a perma-grin on my face throughout this entire film. 

I always Wikipedia the movies and actors after watching these films because I just can't get enough. Gable was apparently the definition of a masculine man.  It is said that Gable's masculinity was so prominent that "when he walked down the alley, you could almost hear his b***s clank."  I originally saw that quote on Wikipedia, but it had since been deleted for lack of citation.  So I re-found here.  But can you actually make something like that up?  I think not.  Doris Day was said to have said about Gable, "He was as masculine as any man I've ever known, and as much a little boy as a grown man could be – it was this combination that had such a devastating effect on women."

Source, and a much better recap of the movie found here.

Next up...

Gone With the Wind 
(Directed by Victor Fleming, 1939)

Have you ever loved someone and lusted after them so much only to find out that they aren't all that, all the while, someone else has lusted and loved you for so long that your love and lust for the first person makes that someone fall out of love with you, which causes you to realize that you do actually love that someone? No?  Me either.

But anyway...first, read this book!  Then, stay in your PJs on a Saturday and watch this 4 hour film.  (Reading this book and watching this movie was basically my idea of heaven).  This is a great story about the Civil War told from the perspective of the people of the South.  Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) goes from a spoiled brat with all the privileges she could ever want, to a hungry, scared, lonely and desperate woman after the war turns her world upside down.  She surprises no one except for herself with her strength and her desire to survive.  She is secretly (to some) in love with Ashley, who marries his cousin, Melanie (Olivia de Havilland).  Melanie and Scarlet become inseparable, and all the while Scarlet resents Melanie for having Ashley.  Rhett knows that Scarlett is in love with Ashley and constantly uses that fact to his advantage.  Scarlett despises Rhett (or does she?).  It is truly one of the best stories ever told.    

Source here.

And everything about the production of this movie is fascinating.  Wikipedia told me that Leigh was a bit of a feisty character; she complained that Gable had bad breath, which was allegedly because of his false teeth, and her background in British acting made it hard for her to "ham" it up for an American film.  Also interesting was that the director of the film changed multiple times before Victor Flemming stepped in to save the film (at the same time that he was directing the Wizard of Oz). 

I fell in love with the character of Melanie, and needed to know more about Oliva de Havilland.  So I went to the source (Wikipedia):  She grew up in Japan where her father was a lawyer; her mother was an accomplished actress. She has a sister who is also in the movies.  Her name is Joane Fontaine; her mother apparently had a favoritism for Olivia and wouldn't allow Joane to use the family name in her acting career.  (How rude!)  Fontaine and Olivia have not spoken since 1975--when their mother passed away.  Olivia is still kicking it at 95 years old!  She was instrumental in legislation that made it illegal for studios to suspend or dock pay for actors who refused roles, a problem that had been plaguing Hollywood actors and not allowing them to excercise creative freedom.  The law is known as the "De Havilland Law," so she's kind of a big deal.   

That's it for the Gable Edition...for now.  Much more where that came from. 

Are you, too, fascinated by old movies?  What are some of the must-see oldies I need to put on my que?

Coming Up:  Classic Movie Recap - Jimmy Stewart Edition

P.S.  Sources for the first three pics found herehere and here.


MS Awareness Week - Cool People in Orange!

Classic Movie Recap Series

I have really gotten into old movies over the past few months.  If a movie is from the 30s, 40s or 50s, I want to see it; I need to see it!  Does everybody know how awesome old movies are?

If not...I'd like to give you a preview...or recap...of the ones I'v viewed lately if you're interested.  

Here's where the Classic Movie Recap Series (CMRS) comes in.  

Today I'll start with the top 4 reasons why I love old films.  And then, this week I will post recaps on 6 old movies broken down into a Clark Gable Edition, Jimmy Stewart Edition and Montgomery Clift Edition.  Please contain your excitement.

And when I say "editions" please know that each edition only has 2 film recaps so far.  Ha!  Even though Jimmy Stewart has made 3 million films, my edition only has 2!  So you can see how totally just for fun this is. 

Let's get started.

The top 4 reasons why I love old films 

#1:  The people are really attractive.  I can just stare at old movie stars forever.  Why don't people look like that anymore?  How do those women get their hair to curl like that?  Who invented all of those curling techniques?  Why are the old actors the coolest, most suave creatures on earth?  No wonder vintage is back (and has never really left).  Everyone is just too cool for school.

#2:  The production stories are always fascinating.  Who would have known all the drama going on behind the filming of some of these films?  Why did Clark Gable's breath smell during the filming of Gone With the Wind?  Was there really a hanging captured on film in the Wizard of Oz?  What did some of these actors do to prepare for their roles?  The back-stories are fun, fun, fun.

#3:  The lives of the actors and actresses are equally interesting.  Since most of the actors/actresses of that time are gone, you can look back on their lives from beginning to end and see where they were at the point of their lives when they made each film.  You can see a trend in the roles they played or how they tried to break out of typecast roles.  One thing that is so intriguing to me about these movies is that a lot of the big male stars of the day also had such successful military careers.  Can you imagine that now a days?   Celebrities serving in a war? 

#4:  They just don't make movies like they used to.  (Am I allowed to say that since I was born in the 80's?)  These movies are just pure entertainment.  They're sometimes corny (which I normally don't like, but I think I don't like corny in 60s or later movies, but 30s thru 50s are fine), everyone gets married all the time, everyone is chain smoking and they look so cool (whereas now a days when people smoke they look kind of silly), the stories are always fun, even though you mostly know what's going to happen in the end, and the films just seem so effortless.  No hoopla.  Just a movie.

Well, what are your favorite things about old films?  Do you have any must-see classics you'd like to recommend?  I've only been at this for a couple of months, so I know I have a long way to go before I can say I've even put a dent into the classic film genre, but I'm trying!  (Don't worry, I know this might sound so lame to some people, but please just let me carry on this excitement.  It seriously does not take much for me).

I hope you like this week's series!   

Up Next:  Classic Movie Recap - The Clark Gable Edition


Ikea RAST Hack - my nightstand's brother from another mother

Last Wednesday, I told you all about The Pinterest Challenge and my plans to turn a plain old Ikea RAST dresser...

into something pretty like this...

from here.

I've been wanting to tackle this project for months and months, but just kept dragging my feet.  Actually, on a previous visit to Ikea last month, I went there with the intention to buy the RAST, but ended up leaving without it because it looked too small.  But then, I kept having dreams about it, and thought that even though it was small, it would be perfect for what I wanted and needed out of a nighstand--a place to store books, chapstick, hand lotion, my awesome sleepmask and pjs.

Anything was better than my current setup, right?

That's pretty much pathetic.  A pile of pajamas on the floor, a basket of a hot mess under my awesome table tray and sleep masks everywhere. 

So, when the Pinterest Challenge came along, I knew exactly what project I wanted to complete.  I started by purchasing the RAST dresser from Ikea for $34.99. 

And then turned it into this...

I like it, but I don't love it.  I knew in my heart of hearts that this color combo might not work because of the boxiness of this dresser.  But my main goal was to match the dresser, at least a bit, to our other nightstand, which I completed for the last Pinterest Challenge

I thought it would be best if our nightstands looked like they were related. 

Maybe brothers from another mother?

The one on the left is clearly the more sophisticated of the two.  And the one on the right has an inferiority complex.

I know now that this color combination looks better on furniture with curves.  The dresser below, found at Inspired By You, was so pretty and was actually the final push I needed to just go with this color combo.

Found here.

But it has curves, curves, curves.  And a bit of elegance.  Something that my RAST is lacking, which makes it have a hard time pulling off its current outfit.  But, I'm going to give it a try, and if it doesn't look great once in place and styled up, then I can always just repaint the fronts white and my nightstands can settle on being step-brothers.   

Anyway, the project was super fun, and I'm happy that I have a new nightstand.

Here's how I completed my RAST hack if you'd like to know.

The cast of characters:  

All of which I already had (except for the stain) from the last nighstand makeover.

First, I put the dresser together, which was actually not a hard process at all contrary to Ikea furniture reputation. 

Next, I primed the drawer fronts...in my kitchen.  

Very professional setup.

I did not sand the piece before priming, because I didn't want to.  And since it was smooth, dull, new wood, I really didn't need to. 

After the one coat of primer dried for an hour, I put on one coat of color.  I let that dry for 2 hours and then put on a second coat.

Then, I stained the dresser frame.

The guy at my local hardware store recommended that I use an old clean t-shirt for the application of the stain instead of a brush.  Conveniently, that same afternoon, Alessandro decided to hulk-style rip one of his undershirts because it was "blown out," in his words, so I had some prime staining material at my disposal.


To stain the piece, I dipped a piece of Al's newly ripped t-shirt in stain and rubbed it in the direction of the grain along the sides and top of the dresser.  I let it sit for 15 minutes, then lightly rubbed it in the same direction with a clean piece of t-shirt to remove any excess stain.  Then, I waited 4 hours and applied a second coat of stain, repeating those same steps.

The stain had to dry for 24 hours before it could be coated with the Polycrylic, which would make it shiny and provide a protective coating, so in the meantime, I applied the Polycryclic to the dresser drawers. 

I let the first coat of Polycrylic dry for 2 hours, then lightly sanded the area, wiped it down and applied the second and final coat.  Then I let those bad boys dry overnight on the kitchen table.

After the drawers were dry, I installed my knobs, which are these from Lowes.  After letting the dresser sit for 22 hours (I was impatient and ready for bed), I layered on a coat of Polycrylic, allowed it to dry for 2 hours and then lightly sanded the piece before applying a second final coat.  

I was really down to the wire for this project, so everything still needs to dry a couple of more days before I can put the nighstand to use, but it's still finished, and again here's the final product:

Whew.  Glad that's done.

If you participated in the Pinterest Challenge, I'd love to see your project!  And if you have any suggestions for me on how to get my nightstand to look, well, better, then please share.

And don't forget to link up your projects with the hosts of the Pinterest challenge Bower PowerYoung House Love, and this season's co-hosts, The Great Indoors and Hi Sugar Plum.


Sport your orange!

The first thing anyone coming into Downtown might notice this week are the orange lights on the Rennaisance Center and the MS logo on the LED screen atop the building.  How cool is that?!  I believe this is the first time that the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has been featured on the Ren Cen.  I've been trying to snap a good picture of it for a couple of days now, but am failing epically.  (I'm still crazily running around trying to paint and stain furniture for tomorrow's deadline).  I'll make it a point to get a picture though, and I'll share it here, so stay tuned.  It's pretty cool.  Even though I already said that.

For MS Awareness week, I thought I'd ask you to do one small thing:  wear orange!  (Since you all have to get dressed anyway). 

And I thought it'd be fun if you all would send me pictures of yourselves wearing orange.  You don't?  Well just try it and see if it turns out to be fun. 

If you wear orange this week, please snap a picture and send it to me via email, text or post it to this blog's facebook page, found here (And while you're there, don't forget to "Like" the page!)  On Monday, I'll post everyone's picture here in one orange-fest of a post called something like, "The Orange Mafia," or "MS Awareness Fools," or something way more creative if you or Julie, queen of puns, can help me out.

I'll start.  Here's what I'm wearing today.

See, it can be so simple.  Just a splash of orange!  That's all it takes!  And since I wear my orange rubber MS bracelet every day...even on our wedding day...  

...I added a bit more orange today.  My mom gifted me that awesome orange bead and my bff, Dani, gifted me my beautiful Pandora bracelet, so my wrist feels very special today.  I feel super cool raising awareness in style.  

And apparently I only take pictures if my head is cut off.  So to prove that's actually not true, here ya go.

This picture was not from today.  But I just wanted to prove that I had a face, and having my sweet orange ear warmer on in this pic is just a bonus.  (The ear warmer was from a cute little shop caleld Goods in Midtown). 

But anyway, back to the point.  

Please join me!  It's so easy:
  1. Wear something orange.
  2. Take a pic.
  3. Send it to me.
  4. Come back on Monday to see a bunch of people wearing orange.  (By a bunch, I mean probably just me and Alessandro).

* * *

And, if you want to submit a pic but don't have my email address, then you can contact me here:  movesincircles@gmail.com.  (And remember, you can also submit your pic through this blog's facebook page too).


Chicago trip recap coming soon...

In the meantime, here's a preview:

Most of our time was spent eating, so be prepared for some legit recommendations.


It's that time again!

The Pinterest Challenge is here again. 

The Pinterest Challenge was created by Katie Bower @ Bower Power and is co-hosted by Sherry @ Young House Love as a way to stop pinning and start doing.  The great part is that as soon as the ladies announce the Challenge, participants get only one week to create or do something based on something one has pinned. 

I have known for the past 2 months what I would be doing for the next Pinterest Challenge, so it is a real wonder why I have not yet began purchasing supplies.  Now, here I am, with only one week and nothing I need to complete a Rast Hack. 

What's a Rast Hack you say? 

You start with this Rast dresser from Ikea....
via Ikea.

And then you hack it to create something pretty like this...

via here, pinned by me here

or this...
via here, pinned by me here.

With Ikea being so dang far away, and with Alessandro and I sharing a car, and with us going away for the weekend...it will be interesting to see if I can get it done by Wednesday.

Wish me luck!

And won't you join me to?

Here's how you can get in on The Pinterest Challenge action:
  1. Pick anything that you've pinned on Pinterest, whether it's a recipe, a craft project, an activity or an outfit you've been wanting to put together.
  2. Do it!  And take a picture!
  3. Next Wednesday, share your project by visiting Bower Power and Young House Love and also sharing it here with me!
  4. If you have a blog and share your project there, be sure to use The Pinterest Challenge banner above and link it to Bower Power or Young House Love.

P.S.  I did a Nightstand Makeover for the last Pinterest Challenge too...I'm sensing a theme. 


The Best Thing I've Ever Eaten?

I've wanted to like seafood for a long time.  In fact, I can remember several years ago ordering fish-and-chips at Mitchell's Fish Market because they just sounded so good, even though I knew I didn't like fish.  I couldn't swallow my first bite.  Even as a kid, my sisters would always order fish-and-chips and I felt a bit left out (especially because I copied my sister like it was my job).  

I really do think one's taste buds must change overtime, because two years ago I might have gagged if I were forced to put fish in my mouth, but now, all of a sudden, I'm ordering seafood at restaurants.  You'll see here that I have dabbled a bit in seafood dishes recently, but then I get scared like here when I wouldn't even consider eating it.  My seafood life is so complicated. 

But the point of me writing to you today was not to chronicle my journey into seafood.  It was to tell you about this dish:

Go to Angelina on your next night out in the D.  (Don't be shy to invite me).  Order the salmon.  Be in heaven.  It's buttery, crispy, juicy and light.  The braised cabbage and tomato basil salad and Yukon gold potatoes are a plus.  This might be the best thing I've ever eaten.  Best thing.  Not just seafood dish.  Best thing ever.


Random Photo of the Week

This is Alessandro waiting for me to come to the table so that we can eat dinner.  (We were having B.A.T.s and salad).  I had gotten up to get our drinks and glanced over and wanted to remember that scene forever, so I snapped a pic.  Look how patient he is!  With his hands in his lap too!