Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Wishing you a little taste of Lady Luck...
may she shine on us continuously throughout 2010!
Happy New Year...Felice Anno Nuovo!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Auguri di Buon Natale...Merry Christmas...and all good things to you from me!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


This morning we awoke to a silence so beautiful...

is it just me, or is anyone else secretly dreaming of a white Christmas?

Monday, December 14, 2009


It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here...despite the threat of rain and even snow. Each little village "paese" has their own way of displaying their joy. This is the quaint citta of Asciano in the province of Siena. We stole away last week and took a little side trip where we had the most wonderfully lazy lunch in a small trattoria...followed by a warm hot chocolate Italian style...imagine a cup of melted chocolate that you almost want to eat with a spoon, and do. I hope that you all are enjoying the holiday season...and taking a little time for yourself as well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

E' Arrivato

He is here...finally...we have been waiting and waiting for him. I am now an aunt, una zia, my sister called at 3:30 in the morning her time to chat, she was anxious for his arrival. He took his time, but at 10:42 pm on December 8th...a magical date for babies as it represents the immaculate conception of Mary I might add...he arrived into the world. I cannot wait to spoil the heck out of him...starting with this little one above...made with fabric I designed and had printed. I hope he will be his best friend...besides me of course! Great job B & J, I cannot wait to meet your little to you all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Winter has officially arrived as of this morning. Thick fog, frosty windshield...the whole shebang. With this close of autumn, I was reminded I didn't tell you all about the olives. How could I have missed that? Well, it is easy to explain...we did not pick olives this year. I know, I have been here in Tuscany for almost 5 years, complained every year about having to work, have even rounded up unsuspecting friends to help, and this is the first time we have not picked. The olive trees we have are not doing so well...they are getting up there in years and and as a result, they are not producing very much. New trees will be planted soon, so, we will have to wait until next year for the full story. However, the olives surrounding our house were picked...just not by us. I cannot say I was disappointed...picking for a day is beautiful in the fresh air with a lunch of sausages by the fire in the fields. However, picking everyday including weekends for more than a month...nope, didn't miss it a bit...

Saturday, November 28, 2009


For the Italians, our Thanksgiving Day, Il Giorno del Ringraziamento, celebration is a little foreign to say the least. Turkey, for one, is not something that is readily available in these parts. Well, I take that back, it is in the form of sliced breasts or even maybe the odd leg or two, but never the entire turkey. If you would like one, you need to order it at least a week in advance from a butcher, and lord knows where they find it. This year we were debating on making the whole Thanksgiving feast, and at the last minute (the night before) decided to put the word out we needed a turkey. We got the call at 2:00 in the afternoon on Thursday...they found us a turkey...a HUGE turkey, 7.5 kilos (16.5 pounds) to be exact.

I had anticipated we might locate what we were looking for...I had made some side dishes in advance that morning...thinking that if no one came, I would eat them myself. Keeping the Italian pallet in mind, I made Connoisseur's casserole (my very favorite from the cookbook I mentioned before here), St. Paul's Rice (because my family always does rice), and spinach and artichoke casserole. We stuffed the bird with a very special stuffing of bread, sausage and apples, (and whatever else we could find) and threw it in the oven. It barely fit and I wanted to post a picture, but it was just too much to show. I frantically called around to see who might be able to make the one point we were 12, by the time dinner was finally ready (9:00 pm) we were down to 6. Actually a very easy number to manage. We insisted all the boys have a beer before...tradition, say one thing in which they are thankful, drink all sorts of wine, arrange all of their food on one plate (this was a hard one!), and eat until their heart's content. Dinner was over way after midnight...and although it was not exactly like being in America, it was special just the same.

I hope all of you had as much fun as I did...and someone watched the parade for me...I did miss that...

Thursday, November 26, 2009


It has been two years today since we were forced to say goodbye. Oh what I would give to be able to hear your voice be a child and absorb every little word. I am so blessed that I had time with you as an adult as well. You taught me more than you thought you did, this I am sure...and I am still learning from the memory. I am thankful for you, and always.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


So my head is not really where it should be right now...which is attached to my body. Do you all ever get like that...hands move and type things that you didn't even think or do things that you did not mean to do and it takes you a while to figure it out?

The link I posted in my last entry # 9 about the internet was supposed to be this. I was so inspired by this woman's outlook on "the danger of the single story" and how we tend to see one side of everything, when in fact most things are so multifaceted we might not ever get the complete story. If you get the chance to have 20 minutes to spare, please watch this wonderfully enlightening talk.

OK, back to the regularly scheduled program...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Loving right now...

I think it is time we try to concentrate on the nice things. So with that in is a little list of 10 things I am loving right now, in no particular order, and subject to change tomorrow!

1. My fireplace...the warmth and glow you can feel from the big leather chair parked right in front of have to be here to understand. (Ciccia gets it!)

2. My Twinings Black Currant & Ginseng and Rasberry & Echinacea infusions during the day and Yogi Tea bedtime tea at night. They can warm your soul like nothing else...not to mention my hands!

3. Fresh clementines and the smell that lingers long after you have eaten one.

4. Our new TV channel...Fox Retro. I cannot tell you how fun it has been to relive my childhood through shows like Love Boat, Charlie's Angels, 8 is Enough...even the theme music brings back memories. And the fashion...inspiration heaven. I could write a whole post just on this channel.

5. Walks in the woods hunting for mushrooms, and making a huge batch of tagliatelle ai funghi when we return.

6. My new tall black boots with cashmere tights and warm scarves.

7. Sharp contrasts that only come in Autumn. Fresh new green grass, brilliant yellows, oranges and reds, the smell of smoke rising from chimneys, warm sun and cool moisture soaked air, the fog lifting to reveal bright blue sky...the list goes on.

8. Impromptu trips to towns just to people watch and window shop...Siena is one of the best places to do this...then finding a hole in the wall restaurant to eat dinner.

9. The internet...being able to stay in touch with family and friends is essential to living far away. Not to mention all the wonderful things you can find...places to escape to...and being able to share things here with you. Having said that, the ability to find wonderful stories like this and fun things like this and even very silly things like this (click the links).

10. has been taking up most of my time, but it really is the funnest part. Dreaming up new products, drawing new patterns, painting new images, proofing samples we have already created, even writing some stories...cannot wait to share.

What about you? What are you loving right now?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November Morning

Mr. November, I was about to give up on you, seriously. I have to say you have been a little melancholy this year and it is not helping any of us. You have allowed the sun to shine exactly one day...and I can tell you which one, Wednesday November 11th, San Martino, the day we celebrate with chestnuts and new wine by the fire. And it was wonderful, and it gave us hope, but then, the very next day you covered us in fog and clouds again.

So today when I woke up, a little pessimistic to say the least, you must have known, because when I looked out the window it gave me so much joy to see the blue sky and the fog dissipating. And did you hear the birds singing...they were almost deafening. I even opened the windows to grab as much of the sun as I could. Is it too much to ask to let it happen again tomorrow?!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tanti Auguri

Happy Birthday to you...tanti auguri a te...happy birthday little sister Betsy...tanti auguri a te!

One of the hardest things about living far away is sometimes you miss the good stuff. I love you Bets...35 is going to be your best year yet!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Autumn Rain

Sta piovendo, is raining, a lot these days. As the sky casts strange light upon the landscape, it unfortunately does not allow for productive thoughts. It makes me want to wrap up in a blanket in front of the fire and devour a good time for that now...but you can bet it will be the first thing I do when I get the chance. How about you...reading any good books?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


November 1st and 2nd are very special days here, a time when family gets together and celebrates those we have lost. All Saints day is combined with the day of the dead in family celebration and memory. This afternoon will be spent gathering for Sunday lunch, attending a special mass at our little country church, visiting the cemetery, and praying for our loved ones.

This day is especially poignant for me as it is the anniversary of the loss of my Grandad one year ago...which in turn also evokes strong memories of my mother. I will be thinking of them today (as I do every day) and will send a gift of fragrant roses...a favorite of both of them. I have a book my sister gave me that I refer to often, Healing After Loss, and today this is what it says...

"But surely among the richest of these experiences are the times when, with nostalgia and often with affectionate laughter, we share with others our memories of someone we love who has gone on before. We leave such experiences warmed and strengthened by our common history, our commemorations of life and of love."

So with that in mind, I will try to look upon this day not with sadness, but I will concentrate on thoughts, laughter, and remembrances of happy times...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Out of Focus

Living in a foreign country, every day I am challenged when I answer the phone, when I get into the car, when I go to the store, not to mention when I visit the doctor. This is something I did not fully grasp before I made my big move to Italy. I never truly studied Italian, all my language skills have been learned by ear. Frankly, I think it was the best thing for me, but a few grammar lessons here and there would not have hurt either.

Frequently I am asked, "what is it like to live in another language?" The answer I give most feels a bit like you are drunk...all the borders on a dream like state. Sometimes I catch everything within a conversation, sometimes I miss a word and lose the meaning of a statement, and sometimes I am just lost in the clouds. Literally lost in translation. You really need to focus when you do even the most mundane of tasks. So if you are having an off day, do not even get me started. Lately off days have enveloped me. This is a really bad time for this to happen and I hope it is just a phase. I really don't want to be labeled the girl from La La least not for the wrong reasons! Here is to wishing the world back into focus...

Friday, October 23, 2009

October Days

I am not sure if I have ever mentioned it, but October is my very close second favorite month here in Italy (May and it's flowers being my first as you probably already guessed). The weather is usually a perfect blend of indian summer and brisk autumn. However, this year has been a little extreme in that clear, cold Siberian winds literally blew in and overnight my picture perfect fall turned frosty. Of course, that did not stop anyone around here...we trudged right on through. We had things to do...Roman baths to visit, new Laura Fair product samples to review, wood pigeons to watch migrate, paintings to finish, stories to read, sunsets to absorb, tree houses to climb up into, views to soak up, new friends to enjoy, quiet rains to listen to, fires to build, and of course wines to taste. We have had a lovely time so far October, and we thank you for all of your gifts...especially the best one you gave us this year...dear visiting friends in which to share your bounty.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Oh my goodness, October is just flying by...I have so many things to tell you all. We have had some wonderful guests, the weather turned from indian summer to winter in a day, and my twentieth high school reunion came and went without me. I promise I will elaborate with more details of all the happenings as soon as my feet hit the ground...but I wanted to check in and say ciao...I have been missing you.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I took a little was heavenly. Just me and the camera on an incredibly beautiful October Sunday,

that turned into an even more stunning night. I went to Ancona by the sea to visit a friend. All I can say is thanks Tracy...for the chance to experience some great inspiration and relaxation...I did not even know I needed it. But then again, I guess everyone needs a little getaway every once in a while.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


We have now crowned the last weekend of September "the weekend of wine, vino". September is traditionally the month in Italy for the grape harvest, or vendemmia. It is not uncommon to find yourself spending some time in a neighbor's vineyard.

Align Center Every year we lend a hand to our friends who make their own wine and have a small grouping of vines by the lake. Even though it is hard work, it is a pleasure to be out in the sunshine participating in the harvest and hearing the odd story or two along the way.

Basically we spent Saturday morning cutting ripened bunches of violet grapes from their vines and depositing them into buckets. Every once in a while, a tractor would creep by to collect our bounty. Just after picking, the grapes are placed into a machine that spins them and separates the stems from the actual grapes...I had to show you this seems quite violent, but actually it is a very gentle process.

After the vendemmia, we caught vino fever. While speaking with some new friends we met through Tuscan Contacts, they suggested we tour some wineries around Tuscany and we jumped at the chance to do it. The first day, we visited a winery in Montalcino where among the wines we tasted was the world class Brunello di Montalcino. We then drove to the lovely town of Montepulciano across the valley from Cortona to endulge in the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

As if we had not had enough, we chose to go a second day where we traveled to a friend's very small family owned winery not far from Cortona. It was a beautifully relaxing morning of visiting the cantina, strolling through the vineyard, and finally settling down to a spread of Tuscan food fit for a king...prosciutto, salami, pecorino cheese, cannellini beans and bread drizzled with olive oil.

My head is still spinning a bit, and I am not sure if I could drink another drop of vino...that is until this weekend when we just might do it all over again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Feeling Warmer

Some of you may already know this, but it gets cold in these parts in the winter time. I know you don't believe me, "Under the Tuscan Sun" and all, but bone chilling cold could be a more appropriate description.

Our VERY old house does not have working heat. We have a fireplace and a wood burning stove, hence the need for the delivery my guardian angel made to us this week. Look at all that lusciousness. I can almost smell the wood smoke in the air and I am feeling warmer already.

We spent hours and hours stacking our treasure. I felt a bit like a bear getting ready for hibernation...packing away all my little goodies for the winter.

If you are curious about what I will be doing for the next 6 is probably hauling wood and stoking fires, and I am sure I will be telling you all about it!

For those of you who are braving a visit this fall, don't worry...can't you tell I am bound and determined to keep our toes warm?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Like a Child

Do you ever get the feeling that you just want to be a child again? Play games with your friends in the twilight. Laugh with abandon at silly things. Chase each other in circles until you are dizzy. I got the chance to do it...and I suggest you try it.

The annual little country fair down the road from our house was this week. I wish I had taken more photos of the fun. They had so many games. If you guess the weight of the turkey or the weight of the get to take them home. (I guessed incorrectly on purpose, what the heck would I do with a live turkey or pig??) Throw darts at balloons and win a bottle of wine for the adults, candy for the children. Estimate correctly how high the prosciutto is hanging over your head and it is yours. Of course, my absolute favorite, which hole do you think the rabbit likes best...

We didn't win, but had too much fun cheering the little pets on that it didn't matter.

The fair culminated with a donkey race. Yes, grown men hop on very stubborn mules and run them around the ring numerous times. I should have taken a video. I have not laughed so much in long time...some had to jump off and push the backsides of these poor animals to make them move...they did was too funny.

We ended the day at sunset by eating freshly fried bread...I can truly say, donuts have nothing on it. Then in a fit of giggles, we chased each other to the car.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Clearing the Mind

Oh we had big plans...hugely extravagant plans of driving aimlessly around the Italian countryside in search of who knows what without a care in the world.

But (you knew there was a but), life sometimes gets in the way of your perfectly dreamed up plans. So, with work beckoning (no complaints from me of course on that front), I settled into the studio to create a very large mess.

By the way...I cannot wait to tell you what I have been brewing. This business does not allow me to show you anything just yet...but there are some wonderful things on the horizon!

I only emerged for a few fleeting hours to clear my mind a bit. Somehow I needed to satisfy that urge to explore.

And you know what...I found that big plans...who needs them. Sometimes a trip around the neighborhood with your eyes open can do wonders.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Road trip

Someone is dying to take a road trip...and she is not the only one. This household has been working itself to's time for a break. Let's see where the road takes us. Where are you going this weekend? Doing anything fun?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Learning from Figs

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.
~Chinese proverb

My fig tree is following this to a tee. I have been waiting and waiting...four months to be exact. I have seen it's leaves unfurl...I have watched it's little ones gradually ripen from a dark rich green to a vibrant chartreuse.

I should learn to slow down and experience the journey of this beautiful living thing instead of thinking about when I might be able to enjoy the fruits of it's labor. So I have decided to consciously celebrate the process...not just of this tree, of course, of take in every slow growing concentrate on the little nuances however small them may seem.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pranzo all'Isola

Yesterday we decided at the last minute that we wanted to have lunch, pranzo, at Lago Trasimeno, the lake fifteen minutes from us. We jumped in the car and sped to the lake hoping that we were not going to be too late to eat in a restaurant. As some of you may know, lunch time around here is one o'clock...if you arrive later than that, you run the risk of them telling you the kitchen is closed!

On the way there, we had the bright idea of calling a friend to take us on his small pontoon boat to the island, Isola Maggiore, in the middle of the lake. To our surprise, he was at the dock already waiting for us when we arrived.

The lake was beautifully calm, the perfect time to cruise around.

I adore going to this feels like you have entered another world...even if just for lunch. Life is simple, slow and dares you to daydream the day away.

Ahh...inspiration heaven! A little break by the lake...just what I needed.

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