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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.)

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.

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.

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.”

IMG_4241

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.

Roman cat enjoying the peace and quiet.

A Roman cat enjoying the peace and quiet. Those days are over.

I’m still not used to the rientro effect, even after five summers here.  It’s as if a giant light switch was turned on and BAM, the locals have returned.

There is traffic again on Lungotevere and Corso Vittorio Emanuele.  The woman who owns my local newsstand is very tan, relaxed, and tells us all about her vacation.

I’m excited that my butcher and my favorite baker at the Trionfale farmers’ market are back.  I’ve missed them.

There’s an electric energy in the air despite the fact that our government could collapse (again) at any moment.

Suddenly, my phone is ringing off the hook with vendors letting me know when furniture will be delivered, appointments to see clients, and friends wanting to meet up for post-rientro aperitivi.

I’m glad the rientro has begun.

Ostia Antica, the ancient port city founded in 620 BC, is a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time.

So when I heard that Save Rome and Moscerina were organizing an Instagram meet up, I signed up right away.

It was fantastic.  We were very lucky to have archeologist Dr. Arya show us the sights.   If you have any interest in Ancient Rome, Ostia Antica is a must see.

Here are a few of my snapshots.

mosaicPSteatrePSMtPSSynPS

Okay, I know I’ve said on Twitter and what not that I would stop complaining about the weather.  I do realize how fortunate I am not to be dealing with hurricanes, monsoons, or tornadoes.

That said, this spring has been bizarre.  All over Europe it’s cold and raining.

The sun poked out for a few minutes the other day.  It was still cold.  The locals were wearing jackets and many tourists were in shorts.

My friend Annie finally had a few free minutes in her schedule and happened to be downtown/in the Historic Center.  I was in between meetings.  We went to Ciampini for a long overdue catch up session.

This little dessert was perfect.  IMG_2403As I bit into the tart, gale force winds whipped around the piazza.  Clearly, spring is wrap, but summer is (hopefully) right around the corner.

Buon Weekend!

In December, I attended the AWAR holiday cocktail party at Palazzo Farnese.  The construction of the Palazzo started in 1515 and it has been the home of the French Embassy since 1874.

I’ve been inside the building before to vote (I have dual citizenship, American and French) and went to an exhibit they held a few years ago.  However, this time there was a tour from the Ambassador himself.

I had a blast that night with my friend Gillian.  AWAR raised money for charity, we saw amazing art and architecture, and we had a chance to drink Champagne.

One of the highlights for me was walking into various rooms by myself to study the interiors. I’m still shocked they let us take pictures (a big no-no at the American Embassy.  You have to turn in your cellphones and cameras at security).

“The Mix” is important.  It’s also difficult to do well.  A room with furnishings from a mix of eras gives off a different energy than a room where every single piece of furniture, all the vignettes, art, etc. etc. are from the exact same time period and/or store.  When the mix is on point, it’s so exciting.

Conference Room Palazzo Farnese.

Conference Room Palazzo Farnese.

I was surprised when I stepped into this room and saw the modern iron table and chairs.

I think a traditional table from that period with very ornate detailing and decked out with ivory would’ve been too much.

Instead this table compliments the room.  You really notice the drop dead gorgeous proportions, the floors, the walls, everything.   Most conference rooms are zzzzzzzz.  This one is a stunner.

Buon weekend and cin cin to mixing it up.

 

I was at a Rome Bloggers meet up a few months ago and one of my fellow bloggers told me she missed my old blog.

My former blog was more personal and a bit all over the place.  One day I would write about politics , or my friend’s big Italian wedding, and the next day about some silly pop-culture thing like the horrific “Kwanzaa Cake” made by Sandra Lee.

The blogging world has changed a great deal since 2005.  It’s become a big business and very niche.

When I first started this blog I felt a lot of pressure to keep it extremely focused.  I understood the advice from my social media savvy friends.  They would ask me questions like,”What’s the point of your blog? What are your goals for the blog?  What IS your blog, personal, design, lifestyle, expat?”

Something clicked when I read my friend Felicia’s recent post.

I should worry less about labeling my blog or trying to shoe-horn it into a very narrow space.

Design blogs are more than pretty pictures. The popular ones have a POV or narrative that’s engaging.  They have to be, thanks in part to the explosive success of Pinterest.

Interior design is influenced by many things… art, fashion, music, film, travel, the list goes on.   I like to write about those subjects as well and I will.

It’s a new year and time to loosen the strings a little.

 

 

 

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