July 28, 2014


Valentina Duracinsky Cartagena
As you read this, I am on a flight back to Paris. I really don't want to leave – though part of me is happy to go home... Mostly for the detox I plan on doing (seriously needed at this point). I spent loads of time with my family and didn't post as often but trust me, there are many more pictures to come! Colombia is such a magical place, I hope you all get the chance to visit some day. Vx

July 24, 2014


Val Duracinsky Beach 1 Val Duracinsky Beach 2 Val Duracinsky Beach 3 Val Duracinsky Beach 4

I leave for Paris on Monday. I really don't want to; I'm happy in Colombia. I want to take all the pictures I took with me so I'll have to put them on a CD or something, and I've been trying to go through them all to edit and delete as many as I can. I can't wait to share more pictures of my travels with you! Here are but a few pictures of me at the beach in the Tayrona National Park. Rare pictures! I never used to like going to the beach. This was one of my favorites ever because our 'ecohab' - a fancy hut, really - was literally 2 minutes away. All I had to do was go up some stairs and I could be back in our room. When the heat got unbearable, I would go in the water, and when I was sick of it all, I just walked back up. I actually spent my birthday (July 14, hum hum) on the beach and enjoyed it! I also enjoyed the coconut lemonade. Jeeeesus, that is good stuff. More pictures of our time in Tayrona and Cartagena soon! Vx

July 23, 2014


Rosa Kiwi Rosa Kiwi 2 Rosa Kiwi 3 Rosa Kiwi 4

You guessed it – iphone pictures. I keep doing that for reviews, I have to stop. I have a camera, a good one, damn it. I've started to say 'damn' a lot more. Blame Hemingway. I bet he said 'damn' a lot. I'm obsessed. I just finished Farewell to Arms and I'm confusing real wars with episodes in the book. The way he writes makes me feel like I'm right there with his characters; I see everything so clearly. His characters weren't as lovable in this one though. Caroline was especially annoying. 

And that all relates to Rosa Kiwi Frozen Yogurt in no way whatsoever. 

If you're in Paris – which I hope you are, were, or one day will be – during the summer, well, it can get really hot. Especially august. God damn, the month of august is a nightmare (and also the month I will be back in Paris). When it's that hot, all you want is something nice and cold. Or to jump into a big tub of ice. Maybe that's just me. When it's that hot, it's also almost impossible to eat a normal meal. Feeling full and stuffy in hot weather is possibly the worst feeling ever. And also why statistics show you lose more weight in the summer. Well, I did. So if you want to trust my one-person sample, then yeah, 100% guaranteed results. All you want in the summer is something small and refreshing. Ice-cream is pretty great but nothing beats frozen yogurt (I'm in Colombia and I've already gone to three different frozen yogurt places. I'm so damn happy frozen yogurt is taking over the world.) Rosa Kiwi is on rue Mouffetard in Paris which I'm told is a very popular street but I don't spend any time around there (maybe I should start using stops other than just my regular Odéon, Anvers and Hotel de Ville). My friend Rozena took me to Rosa Kiwi. I told her all I wanted that day was frozen yogurt and she said she knew just the place. 

Indeed, Rosa Kiwi was the right place to take me. It's self served (which I love) and they have quite a few flavors to try and a whole array of toppings. It was delicious and refreshing and I was left wanting more. They've obviously put a lot of thought and effort into the decoration and presentation so that people will want to sit and stay for a bit. Like everything in Paris, it was slightly on the expensive side of things. Most self-serve places use the same trick where they only offer gigantic cups so you fill it up (damn mind tricks). And I did. Mine was around 6.50 euros, which is about 8.70 dollars. Before you spit out your coffee, let me offer my opinion. We all know Paris is an expensive city. If you convert everything into dollars, you'll leave bitter from the guilt of spending what you perceive to be too much. But a normal price in Paris will usually be slightly more than a normal price... in any other goddamn place, really. It's fucking Paris. But Paris is amazing and you don't want to miss out on the fun and the excellent things it has to offer! Who eats frozen yogurt every day? No one (I would hope). So it's a treat. And I don't think you should put a price on most treats. Rosa Kiwi – go for a lovely, frozen, delicious treat! (maybe don't fall for the gigantic cup trick)

July 22, 2014


Valentina Duracinsky - minimalism
Things... Damn my possessions. I've written about minimalism a lot (I've probably just thought about writing about minimalism a lot, and then never gotten around to actually doing it. Goddamn, must I be so lazy?) Another day in a life of a wannabe minimalist. I swear, I will get there.

Maybe you're wondering why I care so much about becoming a minimalist. What's wrong with stuff? The way I see it, it's all about happiness. Isn't that what we all want? And all the crap I own is making me unhappy. I mean, I'm fine, I'm not depressed and crying at night "why, why is this happening to me!" It's just... stressful. When I was packing up to leave Smith in May, I was so angry at all the boxes filled with little things, things, things.

I have such a hard time getting rid of it all.

Have I bought anything new in the past six months? Indeed I have. I still enjoy shopping. Yet, there is a reason for everything I buy. That's not an excuse, just a semi-explanation... There's room for improvement, but there's also a lot to be proud of. I used to buy so much more than I do now. I never thought 'do I need this?' or 'will this add anything to my wardrobe?' or 'will this go with anything I own?' I was close to buying a black bikini top the other day and I just couldn't justify it. It made me angry for wanting it, angry for not being able to get it but now I'm happy because I know I didn't need it.

"to need" is used so freely these days. "I need shoes" I said to my mom last week, so we went off to look for a new pair. I bought a pretty pair of summer shoes that will go with a lot of my clothes. But in reality, I did not need them. All you need is to have something on your feet so you don't leave the house barefoot. Just like none of us need more than two pairs of pants and two or three tops.

Let's imagine that life... I get up, I have a pair of black jeans, a pair of blue jeans and some cotton shorts. I have a black button down top, a green tank top and a white t-shirt. I have some sandals, some rain boots and some sneakers. It's a summer day, it's an easy choice. I put on one of the three pairs of underwear I own and one of the three bras I own. I brush my hair, put on some mascara and blush and some lipstick. I don't need chap-stick because I use coconut oil. I have class so I need my big bag which fits my computer. I take one notebook and one pen. When I get home at night, I change into a nightgown and wash the shirt and the underwear so they're dry the next day or the day after. I take a shower and use the coconut oil as body lotion. It's natural and it smells nice. There's little clutter because I own few possessions. There's a lot of space and the room is peaceful.

Now in the real world, I'm nothing like that. I'm not trying to tell you that I'm some great minimalist that knows more than you or has succeeded in some way. This is my own journey; a journey I'm happy to be taking. I share my thoughts to understand myself better and to encourage others to change if they wish to do so. If anything, to incite some thoughts about minimalism, some kind of conversation, some self-reflection in everyone.

As far as jeans go... I have two black, three blue, one red, one yellow, one purple, one beige. That's almost ten pairs of jeans. And the funny thing is I can't get rid of them. I use this pair all the time. On a fat day or a normal day, they seem to always fit. So what now? Use them until they're so used, I have to throw them away, I guess.

As long as you use something, there's no need to get rid of it.

The best thing about having less and washing clothes at night is that you rarely have to do laundry. I use to think it was so cool I had so much that I could go without doing laundry for a long time. But every time I did do laundry, it took forever. For a bit, I started to wash my underwear, socks and tops in the evenings. I didn't always remember or have time, but I will definitely remind myself to do so when I get back to Smith in September.

It's going to be a great semester. I've already brought so many things back to Paris, that I won't have that much with me this semester – my last semester. I feel like every time I leave Smith, I've made some kind of breakthrough. Here's to becoming a minimalist. At a slow pace, at any pace. Vx

Q: What are the benefits of minimalism?

A: There are many. It’s lower in stress. It’s less expensive and less debt. It’s less cleaning and maintaining. It’s more enjoyable. There’s more room for creating, for loved ones, for peace, for doing the things that give you joy. There’s more time for getting healthy. It’s more sustainable. It’s easier to organize. These are only the start. [LINK]

“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” - Lao Tzu

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