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Leaving on a Jet Plane

22 Jun

It has been 17 days since my last blog post – WOW!

I’m dropping by to tell you, dear readers, that the next time you read a new post by me, I will be debuting my brand spankin’ new website! A huge thank you to Melissa from Jelly Design Studio for helping me put the vision in my head on paper…er, blog.

I decided that I am just going to start fresh with a brand new design, site, and content. Yep, a blank slate. I will tell you when my new website is available, but after it comes up, I will no longer be blogging at this page. It has been a fabulous year with Magia e Pasta and blogging consistently has helped me develop and discover what I am truly interested in writing about.

For now, I am getting ready to head to the airport in just a few hours! I am off on a glorious two week vacation – one week catching up with family and friends in Seattle and the next in Hood River, Oregon for Stefano’s brother’s wedding. I absolutely cannot wait to be back in the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks for sticking with me, I promise it will be worth it!

Sending big hugs to all of you and happy summer!!!

Does anyone else absolutely love this song? John Denver’s the best.

Ch-ch-changes

5 Jun

If you are one of the observant folk who follow me on various social media accounts, you will  notice that some changes have been made to my Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest accounts – chiefly, that the names have been changed from Magia e Pasta to Taste in Translation. After a few weeks of hum-ing and haw-ing, I decided to get my act in gear and start taking the steps towards turning this blog into the vision I have in my head. I am in touch with a website designer and we’re working on all the nitty gritties to turn my grandiose imaginings into a reality! Thank you guys for sticking with me and I cannot wait to reveal the revamped final product to you! Change is not usually something I’m comfortable with, but it’s good for the soul and this has been a good exercise for me.

Signs of a Poser Blogger

16 May

I have to tell you guys, since I decided that I was going to use this blog to write about whatever I darn well please, I have felt great. You may have noticed that my posts have dwindled from twice daily to daily, to a couple of times a week. Somebody asked me why I never post on weekends and it’s because I like to use my weekend actually living my life and not just documenting it. I don’t get to see Stefano during the week because we don’t live together and his job eats up a lot of his time, so those weekends are precious and I don’t want to waste a moment of them sitting behind my laptop screen.

I came across and oldie but goodie post from Sarah at the Smart Kitchen and found myself nodding and smiling at all the ways she describes that she’s not your typical healthy living blogger. I wanted to say, “that’s me!” at so many of them because it’s true! Behind each blog is a different author but it’s amazing how uniform some of the blogs can be – same foods, same exercises, same recipes. I don’t know if it’s because somebody pioneered the definition of a “healthy living blog” and decided that you must eat and participate in x, y, and z, but it’s a formula that many seem to follow (with success, I might add!).

I tried that for awhile and it didn’t work for me. It didn’t feel genuine and I felt like such a poser. The title (for now) of my blog is Magia e Pasta, emphasis on the pasta. I like real pasta and when I get a craving for it, spaghetti squash just doesn’t do it for me.

Inspired by Sarah’s post, I came up with a list of “typical blogger rules” that I don’t adhere to.

Signs of a Poser Blogger

You don’t like kale. With the exception of Post-Modern Foods’ kale salad, I am not a fan of the stuff. I know it’s so good for you and it’s versatile and all that good stuff, but I just don’t dig it.

You hate running. Now this is something that is slowly evolving, but for the most part I am not a fan of running. I have no plans to sign up for a half marathon, a marathon, or some sort of Iron Man race. I love to be active and move and sweat, but, in the words of Frank Short, I just don’t really enjoy the bio-mechanical movement of running.

rnr

You take photos with your iPhone. Now good photography is something I aspire to. I love food blogs that have gorgeous photography where the meals seem to jump off the screen and you think, “I HAVE to make that”. Simply put, I’m not there yet. I don’t have the money for a really nice camera and I don’t have the time to create all the recipes I have in mind nor edit all the pictures I do take. Which leads me to my next point…

You have a full-time job that is not work from home/blogging or social media-related. I am at the office from 8:30-5:30 and by the time I go work out and I am home from the gym, it’s past eight and all I want to do is make a quick dinner and call it a night. On the weekends I am spending all my time with Stef because it’s the only time we see each other. Call me lazy (you totally can, there are bloggers with full-time jobs and children who consistently put out quality posts – it baffles me) but I just don’t know when I would create, make, photograph, and post all the yummy foods I’ve got floating around in this noggin’ of mine.

You eat the same things every day. One of the main reasons I decided to call it quits on the standard ‘post what you eat and talk about what your exercise was’-type of posts was because I am so boring. I eat the same foods basically every day (it takes me 10 minutes at Trader Joe’s to get my weekly groceries, it is that routine) and my workouts follow a pretty regular routine. If all I talked about on this blog were my daily eats and workouts, I could virtually copy and paste the same post every single day.

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Overnight oats, all day, every day.

You eat real sugar. I can’t tell you how many times I come across a recipe that has a sugar substitute I’ve never heard of. Between Truvia, Stevia, xylitol, erythtritol, Splenda, Sun Crystals, dessert starts to sound like a mad scientist’s lab. Monday I talked about my need for the ‘real thing’ when I’m eating foods. I use real egg and actual cheese and *gasp* sugar when I cook/bake and I don’t plan on changing that. Yes, I enjoy making healthy substitutions when it’s convenient and doesn’t change the taste (shout out to the magical baking substitute, Greek yogurt!), but most of the time it is better for me to eat a smaller amount of the real thing than try to fake it and feel unsatisfied. Some people can feel satisfied with fruit as dessert. I am not one of those people.

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You aren’t vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/Paleo. This is not meant to bash on people who choose one of the aforementioned dietary lifestyles, especially if you suffer from Celiac or Crohn’s disease or IBS. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not eating meat (I myself only eat meat when I’m out, I never buy it at home) or avoiding grains if that’s your cup of tea, but certain diets (read: gluten-free) are turning into the latest fad and it drives me crazy when people blindly adhere to a specific way of eating as doctrine, especially without doing their own research or seeing if it works for their body. Everybody and every body is different – don’t be a cookie cutter.

You don’t advertise/tweet about your posts/blog all the time or work with sponsors. For many people, blogging is a livelihood and source of income from their families. It’s a business and they run it like one. I totally get it and I’m not knocking it, especially when it’s putting food on your table. It does drive me crazy when I see ten tweets an hour about your ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ post and every single new post you write is sponsored or a giveaway for a company or a free class/conference/trip you got because of your work with a company. I don’t read your blog because I want a review of how awesome that free product is, I read it because I want to know about you and your life! Again, product reviews, sponsored posts, and giveaways are all part of the game if you’re trying to monetize your blog, but keep it all in balance, please?

So there you have it folks: a step by step guide to being an outcast blogger by yours truly. I’m sorry if it came off as kind of rant-y, but it’s meant to be taken in jest and poke fun of some of the generalizations that come with healthy living blogging. I think the blogging community is wonderful and supportive and I am happy to be a part of it, even if it’s not paying my rent or allowing me to spend all day making and eating food (a girl can dream!).

Food For Thought: If you’re a blogger, what part of your lifestyle doesn’t mesh with the ‘HLB’-lifestyle? If you’re a reader, have you noticed that there are particular things that are rampant across all blogs?

The Liebster Award

30 Apr

I know about 2 words in German, thanks to the several trips I’ve made to Germany to visit my dear friend Hanna. ‘Liebe’ is one of those words (it means love). The other is schluempfe, which means Smurfs – as in the blue characters on TV. Don’t ask me why I know this, but I can say that it has yet to come in handy.

Anyway, I was honored and thrilled to find out that Kim from Racing Bananas had nominated me for a ‘Liebster’ award, which is designed to support and recognize new bloggers. Liebster means ‘my darling’ or something along that line – Germans, correct me!

liebster-blog-award

Since we’re already starting off the week unconventionally, I decided to include this as a fun post.

Here are the rules:

  1. List 11 Random Facts about myself.
  2. Answer 11 questions that Kim wrote for me.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers.
  4. Create 11 questions for my nominees.
  5. Display the Liebster award for all to see.

Random Facts about Sara:

  1. I’m going to count the fact that I know how to say ‘Smurfs’ in German as a random fact. One of my many hidden talents is knowing weird words in other languages. 
  2. My biggest pet peeve is unzipped jacket pockets. I think it represents disorder and disarray and I cannot be having any of that. If you’re not using them (as in putting your hands in them), zip ’em up!
  3. My other biggest pet peeve is when people think they’re being grammatically correct when they say “So-and-so and I” and it’s supposed to be “So-and-so and me“. Example: “My mom bought a couch for Stef and I.” NOT CORRECT. It’s “and ME”. Easy way to figure out which is which: does the sentence make sense when you take out the other person’s name? “My mom bought a couch for I”. No? Then it should be ‘me’. “Me went to the store.” Sounds like English isn’t your first language? It should be ‘I’. Phew – I didn’t realize how much that bothered me until I actually bothered to write it out.
  4. Clearly grammar is important to me and I’m a total linguistic nerd. I speak four languages: Arabic, French, Italian, and English (duh). The only way I have found these to useful in my life thus far is making me really good at ordering things from restaurant menus. Kidding. Sort of.
  5. I’m allergic to tomatoes but I eat them anyway because why would a silly little allergy get in the way of my salsa and pasta sauce consumption? The only side effect from the allergy as far as I can tell is that my lips get really red and puffy and look like I’ve spent a little too much time at the plastic surgeon’s office but hey, it’s cheaper than Botox!
  6. I don’t drink coffee. Ever. I can count on my hand the number of times I’ve had a cup of coffee and they were all loaded with cream and sugar so I couldn’t taste the coffee. I am not my mother’s child, Exhibit A.
  7. I am not my mother’s child, Exhibit B: I am not a huge fan of chocolate. Sure, I’ll eat it but if there’s another type of dessert/flavor of ice cream/kind of candy, I will always choose the non-chocolate one.
  8. My ideal weekend is cuddled up in a comfy chair with a limitless mug of hot cinnamon spice tea and a huge stack of books. Most of my childhood Saturdays were spent curled in my papasan chair in front of the fire with half of the Young Adult section of the library piled on the table next to me.
  9. Pita chips are my weakness. Actually, chips in general, but pita chips especially. I am incapable of keeping them in the house because my portion control flies out the window and next thing you know, the bag is empty.
  10. I have never broken a bone (knock on wood), but I was born with a broken collar bone.
  11. Like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, I do get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I constantly complain about how cold I am and normal weather attire does not apply to me. I always add at least one more layer.

11 Questions From Kim:

  1. What meal or food do you have to make every week? Overnight oats. And by every week, I mean every day. Seriously though, it’s the perfect combination of fats, protein, and carbs and it tastes like dessert. #win
  2. If you had a whole day to yourself to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? When I lived in Rome, this was basically my life every day and here’s what I did: I woke up, ate, walked around, ate, practiced my Italian with natives, ate, read a book, ate, did some yoga, ate, met friends for drinks and apps (where I ate), watched a whole lot of TV/movies online. Looking back, that was the best year ever and my goal in life is to recreate that year in various parts of the world.
  3. Are you a dog or a cat person (or other)? I love both, but I’m a total cat person. Growing up, we only had cats in the house and so I guess I’m biased, even though dogs look like they’re way more fun because they’re always down to play and you can take them on walks. But dog drool just totally grosses me out.
  4. What is your favorite movie? The Lion King – always has, always will be. I cry every single time (spoiler alert!) Mufasa dies. No shame. If that was actually a spoiler for anybody, you need to dig yourself out of that hugeeee hole you’ve been living in since 1994 and watch the movie.
  5. If you had one wish, what would it be? Three more wishes. HA. I’m greedy. Seriously, I can’t answer this question (even hypothetically) without feeling an enormous amount of pressure to make the “right” decision.
  6. Who inspires and/or motivates you in your daily life? SO many people all over the world! I am constantly reading stories of people in all corners of the Earth who do inspiring things on a day-to-day basis. I seriously type ‘inspiring things from around the world’ into Google on days when I’m feeling like a Debbie Downer and it always does a good job of cheering me up, if only temporarily.
  7. What is your biggest accomplishment? I don’t consider myself to be a hugely accomplished person, especially when I’m comparing myself to all the people who inspire and motivate me, but I guess I would say that my biggest accomplishment (to date) has been graduating with honors from college in three years without accumulating any debt. I have worked multiple jobs since I was 18 to make sure I wouldn’t have a burden of debt when I graduated and I am so relieved when I think about having a degree and not owing money to anyone.
  8. In ten years, what do you think your biggest accomplishment will be? Holy cow, talk about performance anxiety. Okay, ten years from now I will be 33 (SHIT!) and I hope that I will have my graduate degree and will have started my own non-profit or work for a non-profit that fits the mission I hope to work towards.
  9. What is your favorite quote? Isn’t this one obvious? I named my blog after it. If you don’t know, it’s Federico Fellini’s “life is a combination of magic and pasta.” Because it is.
  10. Do you have a guilty pleasure? What is it? I have many pleasures and I don’t think I feel guilty about any of them. Except for maybe my ‘Dream Street’ radio on Pandora. Anybody else? Just me? Eek…
  11. What three items would bring if you were on a deserted island? A GPS, a satellite radio, and a massive red arrow to point and show my location to those coming to find me. Sorry, I’m practical and I don’t ever want to be on a deserted island.

My Nominees:

  1. Wicked Healthy Washingtonian
  2. The Adventures of Z and K
  3. T-Rex to Tigress
  4. Freeing Imperfections
  5. Style and a Story
  6. The Life and Times of a Pre-Med
  7. Fit Pray Art
  8. DC in Pearls
  9. Sky Blue Sky (Allison’s boyfriend, Will!)
  10. Pennies on the Run
  11. Heart, Sole & Cereal

Questions for the Chosen Ones:

  1. If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?
  2. You can choose any time period (other than today) to live in. Which would it be?
  3. Cool-Ranch or Nacho Cheese?
  4. Someone hands you an airplane ticket with a blank destination. Where do you fly?
  5. You have an all-expenses-paid trip to the grocery store: which grocery store do you go to and what would be the highlights of your basket?
  6. If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you eat?
  7. Feasibility and salary aside, what is your dream job?
  8. You can have one meal, one dessert, and one beverage for the rest of your life, what would they be?
  9. What is one book you can read over and over again?
  10. If you could speak any language, what would you speak?
  11. How do you describe your blog to friends/family/anyone who asks?

Nominees, if you feel too overwhelmed to fill all this out, just pick and choose what you want to do 😉 Readers, check out these blogs – there’s lots of DMV-area love and I really enjoy reading them 🙂

Happy Tuesday!

Resolving the Identity Crisis & Blog Announcement

26 Apr

So many of you probably remember my identity crisis with regards to my blog. Shortly after I posted, the Boston Marathon tragedy happened and it felt way too frivolous to write about anything other than what was going on. I’m not sure what I consider to be an acceptable “mourning period” in terms of blog writing, but I am going to talk about resolving said identity crisis.

Briefly recap-ing my previous post, I was taking issue with the fact that “Sara on the blog” did not feel or sound like “Sara in real life”. The real-life Sara is obsessed with travel and different cultures and food (duh). My idea of a good time is listening to food podcasts and reading articles in the ‘Travel’ section of the New York Times. I wish somebody could pay me just to spend all day learning languages. My dream job would be to travel to far-flung places around the world to see how food plays a role in culture and then write about it for all to see.

Is healthy living important to me? Absolutely. Do I love to work out and help people find ways to move their bodies? Without a doubt. But I have always been of the belief that the title of any written work is the window into the story and I remembering agonizing for hours over papers I couldn’t begin to write because I couldn’t think of a suitable title. I am aware that starting with a title and writing from there is on all the Top-10 lists of what not to do when you are writing but that is how I have always operated.

So, with that said, I want to announce that I’m going to be renaming my blog (and getting a redesign soon!) to reflect my true passions: food, other cultures, travel, and learning.

I bet you probably want to know what I’m naming it, huh?

I was planning on holding off until everything was ready to be “unveiled”, but I figured this would ease the transition. Plus I bought the URL so nobody can steal it from me. HA.

Drum roll please!

The new name of my baby blog will be…

Taste in Translation

Phew. It sounds ludicrous but it feels kind of cathartic to see it in writing.

Do you like it? It just rolls off the tongue so well and I feel as if it perfectly encapsulates what I want to write and represent on the blog. A little bit of food, a little multiculturalism, plus a play on words to reflect my love of languages. It just…fits.

Melodrama, much?

Anyway, it shouldn’t be too much of a rough transition – I’ve been blogging under a year and I don’t yet have a “brand” that would be negatively impacted by the switch, so I’m going for it sooner rather than later. Once I figure out the blog redesign and that’s ready for public viewing, I will do the official switch – changing the blog title and URL (although if you type magiaepasta.com it will redirect to the new site), renaming my Twitter handle, Facebook page, and Instagram account so everything is uniform. All in all, I feel like it will be fine, but I just wanted to give you guys a heads up.

I want to thank everybody for their encouraging words in my first post when I was fretting about changing the name. I knew deep down that it was what I wanted to do, but sometimes you need a little push in order to take the leap 🙂

And with that, I will wish you a very happy Friday. Anything exciting on the books? I have a friend’s going away party to attend and I’m also hoping to get out into the wilderness with Stef and enjoy a nice long hike! It’s not Miami, Allison, but it will have to do. Wishing you all a very happy weekend!

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