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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.)

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

This week, LONNY wrote about the new J.K. Place Hotel.   Believe the hype.   It’s gorgeous.

Months ago, one of my vendors told me I had to see the chartreuse DEDAR fabric architect/interior designer Michele Bonan used in the cafe. I finally had a chance to see it when my friend Erica and I went to meet a colleague of hers and his wife who were staying at the hotel.

I told Erica we must add J.K. to our list.  We are very hard on places when it comes to cocktails. It’s not enough to have an excellent bartender, the décor must be on point.

Erica’s colleague showed us their room.  I almost cried when I saw the bathroom.   This one is a little larger.  Look at that shower.  The floors.  The marble.  Sigh.

This bathroom. No words.

This bathroom. No words.

Bonan is one of my favorite designers and what he did with the space is stunning.   The building used to be the architecture school for La Sapienza (the largest university in Rome).

My kind of bar.

My kind of bar.

Inspired by Tom Ford’s film, A SINGLE MAN, the atmosphere is what folks back in the States call “grown and sexy.”

It’s a very unique space in Rome and I think the bar/lobby will appeal to people who are, well, grown and sexy.  I don’t see Flip-Flop Girlshanging out here.  Grazie dio!

I could spend hours in the library.

The library.

The library.

For more pictures of J.K. Place Roma, you can click on their gallery HERE.

Photos: J.K. Place Roma

My friend Taiye finally had a break during her international book tour and was making lunch at her place.  I wanted to pick up some flowers.

I went to my flower stand in Campo dei Fiori but none of the flowers I had in mind were in season.

Instead, I decided to go with some peperoncini.

IMG_4338So simple, including the presentation.

I love the burst of color they bring to a room on a cold fall day.   I plan to pick up some red ones later in the week.

If you haven’t read Taiye’s critically acclaimed book, Ghana Must Go (La Bellezza Delle Cose Fragili in Italian), get thee to a bookstore or online.  It’s fantastic.

I do not like having my photo taken.  Correction, I’m game when I’m in a group shot.

It’s not just because the camera adds ten to fifteen pounds.  It’s because I feel like a big dork standing there while the photographer snaps.

Thanks to social media, I had to get over my discomfort.  That said, I still get salty when unflattering photos are tagged on Facebook.  What the what?  Does the tagger need new glasses?  Good friends don’t let folks tag bad photos.

Gina wanted to take a few head shots during our terrace photo shoot.  I was sweaty and wiped out. So even though Gina is a talented photographer I thought, “no good can come of this.”

She convinced me to at least try a few.   I did and this is what happened:

terrace_062I  did a brief interview with Gina and she has posted more photos from the shoot on her blog.

To see more of Gina’s gorgeous work, please visit her website here.

Last Sunday, my friends Erica and Darius decided to take advantage of the great weather and organized a quick walk through EUR.

I still have problems pronouncing the area’s name correctly.  The second time I visited Rome, a friend from L.A. was in town.  She asked her lover (they met the year before) if he could show us around EUR.

L.A. Friend:  Marco, can you drive us to E.U.R.?  (spelling it out in English)

Marco: Dove? (Where?)

LAF: E.U.R.

Marco:  Non capisco.

LAF:  Big buildings, Mussolini.

Marco:  Oh, AY-oor.  Certo. 

That was a fun afternoon as my friend spoke no Italian and Marco spoke several languages but none of them were English.  However, they spoke the universal language of love lust, so it was all good.

On Sunday, I met up with the rest of the Twitter folks (aka Tweeps).  One of Darius and Erica’s friends was born in the area and still lives there.  He knows the area well and it was fascinating to hear his point of view.

If you have any interest in architecture or 20th century Roman history, EUR is definitely worth a visit. It’s a very unique neighborhood.

Here are a few snapshots from Sunday.

Darius jumps.  He landed safely.

Darius jumps. He landed safely.

Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro - aka "The Square Colosseum".

Palazzo della Civiltà di Lavoro – aka “The Square Colosseum.”

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A relief of Italian history.  Notice the large Mussolini at the bottom.

A relief of Italian history. Interesting portrait of Mussolini. What is he doing?  (center – bottom)

It's JFK.

It’s JFK.

This building reminds me of the late great old Penn Station in New York City designed by McKim, Mead & White.  The architects of that landmark were inspired by the Bath of Caracalla.

This building reminds me of the late great old Penn Station in New York City, designed by McKim, Mead & White. The architects of that landmark were inspired by the Baths of Caracalla and other buildings from ancient Rome.

We ended our walk with aperitivi at the famous Caffè Palombini.  There's outside seating.  Perfect during a warm evening.

We ended our walk with aperitivi at the famous Caffè Palombini. There’s outside seating. Perfect during a warm evening.

My client travels frequently overseas for work but, like most of the native Romans I know, he enjoys hosting aperitivi and dinner parties when he’s in town.

He saw the work I did for another client and asked me to take a look at his terrace.

We wanted to make the space flow better, redo the landscaping, and buy new furniture to add to some of the pieces he already owned.

I think it’s important for the outdoor areas and indoor areas to be cohesive.  I kept my client’s interior spaces in mind as I looked for furniture.  My landscaper and I had a long conversation regarding which plants would work best for the terrace.

I wrote about photographer Gina Gomez (aka Warm Pears) on my former blog three years ago.  Earlier this year, we discussed collaborating on something.

The terrace was that perfect something.

Below are a few pictures from the shoot.

terrace_089terrace_016terrace_063terrace_076terrace_085terrace_103terrace_153Resources:

Furniture: UNOPIU’

Lantern: Flamant

Centerpiece: Bloemen Florist – Via Terenzio, 37 (zona Prati), Rome, +39 06 6892901

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