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Anguilla is quite the A-list celebrity/VIP destination these days.  However, the small island has managed to retain it’s relaxed, quiet charm.

My most recent piece for FATHOM Magazine went live today.

 

ANGUILLA – I wish I could say I have always appreciated this beautiful island. That would be untrue.

When my family moved from New York City to the leafy suburbs of Verona, New Jersey, I knew I had to become a true American teenager. I was hampered by my parents’ insistence on raising their children as if we were a family living in the Caribbean.

My parents are from St. Martin (totally different from the Dutch side, St. Maarten) and both my grandmothers were Anguillian. Whenever we went to St. Martin to stay with my paternal grandparents, we ferried over to Anguilla to visit family and friends. When I was a child it, was fun to hang out with my cousins, go the beaches, and stuff ourselves on Johnnycakes, rice and peas, and salt fish cakes. But as for the stunning white beaches of the island, they were lost on me when I was older. I mean, I was a teenager. Visiting relative after relative while sitting on their verandas for hours drinking Ting was boring.

The final anti-island straw happened one night when I was walking back to my aunt’s house and a mongoose ran across my foot. I was done. I thought, “I could be chilling at the Short Hills Mall with my friends instead of being stuck on this tiny island.”

It wasn’t until my parents moved to back to St. Martin after retirement and I moved to Rome that I began to understand why those trips back home were so important.

To read the rest and see more pictures, click HERE.

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The beach at Cap Juluca with the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten in the background.

Photo: Me and my iPHone

I wish I knew I how to do this.

Trust me, this is not a humblebrag.  You know when you ask someone how they’re doing and they reply, “BUSY!”?  Then they proceed to talk for twenty minutes about how busy they are?

I used to do the BUSY thing all the time when I lived in Los Angeles.  I broke out of that habit after living here a few years.  When Italians ask, “how are you?”, they really want to know.  It’s a conversation starter, not an opportunity to brag about how much work you do.  Nobody wants to hear that mess unless you are at a work conference or something.

While I have calmed down a bit since my big move, I still find myself feeling guilty for not working all the time.  I know there are people who never stop.  I did that during my Hollywood years but had nothing to show for it other than missed weddings back east, stress, and debt.

So I know I wasn’t healthy or happy during that time yet August in Rome continues to freak me out.  This week my vendors are closing up for the summer.  There is nothing I can do regarding deliveries, invoices, my projects, etc.

Last year when I went to Salina, I had a view like this,

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but I was constantly checking my emails and on the phone with my clients. However, that was in June.  August is another story.

In August I’m forced to slow down so why can’t I just chill the heck out without feeling guilty about it?  One of my favorite designers, Erin Gates of ELEMENTS OF STYLE, wrote a fantastic POST about the pressure we Americans put on ourselves to do it all.

It’s madness.  I told myself that this year would be different.   It’s not.  It’s only the 6th and instead of reveling in the summer, I want September to get here already.

My local caffe and many of my favorite restaurants are shutting down this week.  Only the places catering to tourists will be opened.  Most of my friends are gone and the rest are leaving next week.  Tumbleweeds will roll down Lungotevere.

I should try to follow my dad’s example.  He was an incredibly hard worker but he also knew how to relax.  He truly appreciated the little vacation and down time he had.  My mom also worked hard but NEVER relaxed.  Even on her days off from work she was going, going, going.  I used to think I was a combination of the two but no, I’m more like my mom.  There’s always something that must be done.

I have my own company.  You’d think I would be able to give myself a break and/or vacation.  No, instead I think if don’t burn the candle at both ends I won’t be able to succeed, which means I won’t be able to pay my rent, therefore I will end up living under the Ponte Sisto bridge.

Okay, this summer I am going to break the cycle, dammit!  I must do it for my mental, physical, and creative health.

We’ll see how the rest of the year shapes up as I start my quest to partake in the fine Italian tradition of Dolce Far Niente.

Any suggestions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve written before regarding how much I adore the collection Italian architect/furniture and interior designer Paola Navone has created exclusively for the American store Crate & Barrel.

Her new collection is out.  My siblings were kind enough to give me a gift certificate to Crate & Barrel and I had to get these glasses.

como-tumbler-glass-1

Now they are sitting at my sister’s house.   One day they’ll make it to Rome.

I love the color of the rim and the lines of the glass.  Very simple and very stylish.

I can tell Spring is really here despite the cold (actually freezing) mornings and the rain. My allergies are on a different level this year.  I do not approve.

It’s Easter weekend.  When I was very young this meant a new Easter outfit.  We’re talking the full enchilada – dress, shoes, gloves, and a HAT!!!  This also meant going to an extra long Easter Sunday service but usually the coffee hour after (Methodists don’t play) was outstanding.

Like many of our other traditions, this one ended once we moved to the suburbs.  I know one reason was because I was getting older and nobody really dressed up for Easter in our suburb after a certain age.

Another reason for the change was cultural.  Our church in Verona was the complete opposite of our church in New York City.  Very few people in our town would wear an Aretha Franklin type hat to church.

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In the mid 70’s my parents’ friends and relatives starting fleeing the economically devastated and crime ridden City.  Everyone was so spread out.  No longer could we walk, take a cab, or just hop on the subway to visit.  Now there were long car rides to Westchester County, Long Island, Bergen County, etc.

Occasionally, we did make it back into the City.  One of my favorite signs of Spring were the tulips on Park Avenue.  Years later, after college and career number one, I finally made it back to my hometown and would walk up Park as soon as the tulips were in bloom.

Recently I’ve become much more nostalgic during the holidays.  I think it’s because I live so far away from my family.  My siblings now have their own traditions with their families and I don’t.

The forecast calls for rain tomorrow.  I will buy some tulips.

Buon weekend e Buona Pasqua!

Photo: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

It’s not easy to be thousands of miles away from my family on this day.   While we did celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s not a Caribbean holiday or tradition.  Christmas on the other hand, is celebrated big time on the islands and my parents brought their traditions with them to America.

It wasn’t really about the presents. However, I did flip out the year when one of my gifts was an Easy Bake Oven from “Santa” ( those cakes were gross but my family pretended to like them).   It was the decorating, the food, the music, and having our entertaining extended family over that made Christmas so fun and memorable.

Every year we went to midnight service.  Every year after church we would plead with our parents to start the tradition of opening one gift before bed.  Every year they said, “no.”   They were very consistent.

I won’t be in the Caribbean today saying, “compliments of the season” but I will be there in spirit.   Here are few of my favorite Christmas songs.

As a kid I watched this special on CBS every Christmas.  One of the best Christmas (and jazz) albums ever.

 

It wasn’t Christmas in our home until my dad busted out his Nat King Cole album.

 

Love this rendition of Mariah’s song, with the Roots and jimmy Kimmel.  The kids are too cute!

 

Does anyone else remember the group The Waitresses?  This came out in 1981.

 

Kirland and Baryhnikov, another yearly staple back in the day, on PBS.  So weird that he’s better known now for being the uptight Russian dude Carrie dated during the last season of SATC.

 

A  Motown classic from my first crush.

 

Donny Hathaway.  That voice.  He died way too soon.

 

This falls under melancholy Christmas songs.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have listened to it this year.

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 gifts 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.

28ct-matte-fish-silver-glass-ball-christmas-ornaments-2-50mm-Linen n Things

Here are more mice with exceptional artistic abilities.

dedeDéDé Maison

The holiday season is upon us.  Lights have just started to go up in my neighborhood and I saw a few festive window displays this morning on Via Condotti and Via Babuino.

I haven’t seen any panettone movie commercials.  Several friends have assured me they are coming.  Excellent.

One of my goals for 2014 is to entertain more.  Yes, I know it’s a little early to think about these things. I can’t help it.

My apartment is small but I had a friend, Susan, in New York City who lived in a studio that was smaller than my place and yet she had dinner parties, Oscar parties, cocktail parties, let me introduce you to my new spinning teacher parties, etc.

Her space had a different layout.  However, I can still be inspired by many of her fantastic ideas.

My mom, like Susan, has a great selection of serving trays and platters.  Some she received as wedding gifts fifty years ago.

I actually enjoyed setting the dining room table when my parents had dinner parties.  My mom was occupied with cooking, my dad was the bartender, and us kids were “in charge” of the table.

Okay, so my mom really had the last word about what was going on the table. When I was old enough, it was my job to iron the tablecloth and the napkins.  While I STRONGLY dislike ironing my sheets (it takes forever), this party prep was fine with me.

The last time I was in St. Martin, one of my friends (and former boss) was on the island and stopped by for a visit.  I looked through my parents’ collection to find the right tray for aperitivi and thought about all the fun holiday dinners and parties. I also realized that I need to step up my platter game.

This one is gorgeous.  It’s from Williams-Sonoma and made in Umbria.

This shade of blue is one of my favorites.

img85oThis platter is stylish simplicity.

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