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Italy

Yesterday the UN, and people all over the world, celebrated International Day of Happiness.

Given all the horrible things happening here on planet Earth, it would be very easy to shrug and think there’s nothing to be happy about.

Sometimes when I’m in a very good mood, I get a little freaked out.  Why am I in a good mood?  I should be cynical, depressed, and anxious.   It’s as if I have no right to be happy.   I meet a lot of expats in Rome.  Many are not happy and are suspicious of those who are.  Being happy is not “keeping it real.”  We end up fueling each others’ fire.

One of my dear friends said I should avoid miserable people.  Why get sucked into their constant negativity and pessimism?   True, we all have bad days, weeks, even months, but as I get older I find I have less patience for people who complain ALL the time but never do anything to change/improve their situation.

I tend to worry a lot, mostly about my future.  How will I pay my bills?  Will my business continue to grow?  Will I ever be fluent in Italian? Why is Drake so popular?   I lie awake at night and dwell on things I have no control over.  This is not healthy and I’m working on it.

When I’m happy it’s not because anything has really changed.  I still have the same bills, worries, and issues.  However, sometimes I do remember that I am extremely fortunate in ways that cannot be measured in dollars or euros.

It won’t be easy but I’m going to try my best to do the opposite of what I normally do, which is to worry and complain.

Another friend proclaimed that this was going to be a great year.  Based on what?  Nothing.  She believes it and therefore is going to do everything in her power to make it so.

I like the why she thinks.

Buon weekend!

(I adore this video.  I have to restrain myself from dancing when I hear this song while jogging.)

The award-winning Fathom Magazine is celebrating Sicily this week.  I’m trilled that I get to join in the festivities.

IMG_4629My article is about Sicily and the solo traveler.

When I booked my trip, I didn’t think it was a big deal that I was traveling alone.   Then once everyone and their mother kept saying, “Wow, you’re going to Sicily by yourself?!”, I started to get nervous.

You can read about my Sicilian adventures HERE.

The entire series is fantastic.  I want to book a trip now.

 

Please forgive my geek out over Stromae (aka Paul Van Haver).

Last week I was in St. Martin to see my family and in Anguilla for work.  All week my sister, brother-in-law, and I, kept hearing this killer French song… in the car, at beach bars, etc.  The first time I heard it I was hooked.  It was so different from anything else out there in pop.

This morning I woke up to an email from my sister saying she Shazamed it but the clip didn’t show up until she returned to DC.

I went to iTunes because I had to buy the single. While I was there I noticed there was another single that was number one. I clicked on it and “discovered” it was  a song I’ve been hearing a lot in Italy lately.  I’ve been trying for weeks to track down it down.

Stromae was born in Belgium to a Belgium mother and a Rwandan father.  You can hear the influences of Euro dance music, African music, Caribbean music, and American hip hop in his work.

I am OBSESSED with his album Racine Carrée.   Obsessed.   It has been a monster hit in Europe, including the non French speaking countries.  I wonder if he will have a hit in the States.  I cannot remember the last French song to do so.  It also reached the top ten in Canada.

I will always associate this song with being in Caribbean.  It’s only March but it’s in the running to be my summer of 2014 jam.  The drums are giving me life.  Seriously.

 

Stromae studied music and film in school.  This video moved me.  His father was killed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

 

And the song that is currently a huge hit in Italy.  Stromae showing both sides of a relationship.

Despite studying French for seven years in school, I speak at most ten words.  I looked up the translations to Stromae music.   His lyrics address a variety of issues, most of them pretty heavy.  There is substance to go with the beats.  I get why he has received both critical and commercial success.

I haven’t been this excited about a new (to me) artist since the first time I heard Amy Winehouse.

 

 

Last year I wrote about the vacation home in Tuscany I’m working on with architect Domenico Minchili.

Our clients had some photos taken and below are a few of them.

First, a before shot of the living room.

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After.

The room is so much lighter.  The new “old” floors make a huge difference as does the paint color.  I was consumed for days regarding which shade of Farrow & Ball white was the best white for the  walls.  We decided to use Skimming Stone.

The chairs were custom made by Tondini & Radicchi. So were all the draperies in the house.

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One of the bedrooms mid-renovation.

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After.

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A bathroom before.

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After.

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Wider shot of the living room.  The sofas, coffee table, and sconces are custom.

The studio.

This room receives little natural light.  Many people assume that a small dark room must be painted a very light color in order to make it look bigger.  Not true.  It seems counter-intuitive but going darker gives a small room more depth.

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One of my Italian friends called this décor, “Relaxed Chic.”   Another friend said it was “Casual Luxury.”  Both work for me.

Every bedroom, and its bathroom is unique, yet the entire home is cohesive.

The paint is from Farrow & Ball.

Most of the new furniture was custom made.  We also sourced pieces from Flamant, Barthel, and small shops in Rome and Tuscany.

Our fabric sources were, Dedar, Ralph Lauren Home, Kathryn M. Ireland, and Pierre Frey.

If you would like to know the specific colors or more information about the fabric or furniture, please feel free to ask me in the comments section.

This property is available for vacation rental.  It’s in the heart of the Chianti region surrounded by vineyards.  The views are stupendous.

For more information (and some exterior photos), please visit the luxury rental  Abercrombie & Kent website.

Photos by: Mario Flores

Before my first trip to Italy, nine years ago, I had to cut my vacation short.  The production company I worked for decided to shut down, permanently, two weeks before Christmas.  Happy Holidays everyone!

I was going to scrap the entire trip but my family was very worried about my mental state and insisted I go.

I decided to travel to only one city for just one week.  I narrowed down my choices to Rome or Florence.  One of my good friends in L.A. is a hardcore Italophile.  She proclaimed that I was a Rome person and should save Florence for another trip.

I’ve been to Florence twice. The art is stupendous and the city is beautiful.  Yet each time I felt anxious and couldn’t wait to return to Rome.  It’s not as if Rome is a laid back place.  However, Florence is a much smaller city and cannot handle the hordes of tourists and study aboard students.

Well, I need to get over it because I must see the new Portrait Firenze.  The architect/interior designer is Michele Bonan.  I’ve written about how much I LOVE his work, especially, the newish J.K. Place in Rome.

The hotel is owned by the Ferragamo family (the Lungarno Collection) and is located in the heart of the Historic Center. It has only thirty-six rooms and killer views of the Ponte Vecchio. It’s scheduled to open this spring.

I could think of worse places to have an aperitivo.

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This bathroom! The double shower heads, the warm marble, the tub, everything.

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Sigh. No words.

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Yes, please.

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Photos: Lungarno Collection

Happy New Year!

Last year my word was, “si.”

I took some risks (professionally and personally).  I learned a lot and I’d like to keep this momentum going.  The Italian word for “to grow” is perfect.

Other words I considered:

Chevron – I don’t care what anyone says.  This print is a classic and will never be out of style.

Suite Nine - Palazzo Margherita. Designed by Jacques Grange.

Suite Nine – Palazzo Margherita. Designed by Jacques Grange.

 

Idris Elba – Okay, that’s two words.

 

Jon Hamm – Two more words.  The interview starts at 3:41

 

Do you have a word for 2014?

 

 

Last week a fantastic Gordon Park’s exhibit opened in Rome. Titled, Una Storia Americana (an American History), this is one of the largest retrospectives of his work.

Gordon Parks was a true renaissance man.  He was a self-taught photographer, musician, writer, film director, and poet.

Parks was also quite popular with the ladies. When he was sixty he met a young aspiring writer named Candace Bushell, who had recently moved to New York City.  She moved in.  She was eighteen.

He became the first African-American to direct a major Hollywood movie and was the first African-American photographer hired by LIFE and VOGUE magazines.  His range of subjects, along his talent, made Parks one of the most important American photographers of the 20th century.  Many of his images are iconic and will be for years.

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My sister, Daniella, is ten years younger than me and six years younger than our brother, Gerry.   We were old enough to remember the day our parents walked into the house with a new baby.  She had fine pair of lungs.

Later that night, my ten year-old self was annoyed.  Sure Daniella was an adorable baby and everything but hello, I had school in the morning.  I couldn’t sleep with all that noise.  I may have said something to my mom who gave me the classic Caribbean mother “you better stop with your nonsense” face.  I stopped.

I was in high school when Daniella started kindergarten.  Laning Avenue Elementary School had a Santa’s Workshop where kids could buy Christmas gift for their family and friends.

Gerry and I would take our gifts from under the tree, unwrap them and say loudly, “ornament, ornament, ornament!” as every year from kindergarten to fifth grade that is what Daniella gave us.  My parents still have those ornaments.

I think it started with Gerry, who said, “oh look, it’s another ornament. Ornament, ornament, ornament!” I have no idea why we found this hysterically funny.

Years later during the first Christmas day we spent with my future sister-in-law and brother-in-law, I busted out with the ornament thing (it really was an ornament) and my siblings and I lost it.  My in-laws to be glanced at each other, “what’s wrong with these folks?”

I don’t have room in my apartment for even a Charlie Brown tree, but I could buy an ornament or two.

Here are a few that caught my eye:

Reindeer!  Love the scarves. Very snazzy.

jumping-jack-reindeer-ornaments-1Crate & Barrel

A classic bullicante glass ball ornament from Tiffany & Co for those with more champagne tastes.

Tiffany & CoTiffany & Co.

I don’t like mice at all but how charming are these ballerinas at Dédé Maison, one of my favorite stores in Rome.

dedeornamentDéDé Maison: Photos by me

Great matte finish on this silver ornament.

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Here are more mice with exceptional artistic abilities.

dedeDéDé Maison

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