Melt With You

  Basilica di San Lorenzo Chapel of the Princes Florence, Italy   It’s summertime, and the living is….HOT!  Hot enough to melt! The temperatures have been soaring. So, the idea of something cold and refreshing seemed timely, especially something cool and creamy…like gelato from a gelateria in Florence, Italy that’s been around since 1939. A few years ago, I was introduced to Gelateria Perchè no!… (which means Why not!…in Italian). It’s located Via dei Tavolini 19r and has been a favorite in Florence since before World War II.  Mr. Ugo Ravaioli, the founder and for decades the owner of Perchè no!…, believed this to be an ideal location. Paradoxically, it was due to the shortage of raw materials for making ice cream and whipped cream during the war that lead to Mr. Ravaioli’s inventiveness to create a special formula for this delightful treat consisting of egg whites and cream as well as its semifreddo texture. This gelato is the perfect balance of sweetness. And, it’s not too wet. Add to all of that its extreme creaminess, and you might think you’re in heaven. Treasured by its faithful clients–both famous and local, Perchè no!… has survived a war as well as the disastrous Florence flood of 1966 and continues to be a success today.  If you visit this wonderful gelateria with its beautiful marble mosaic floor, make sure to taste Crema, cooked in the old way with lemon rinds and vanilla and […]

Read More →

Life In Pink

“La Vie en Rose” performed by Catherine Carraway Quartet   “La Vie en Rose” is a song that expresses the bliss of being in love.  It brims with pure emotion and beautiful sentiment.  To me, it’s one of the loveliest songs ever written.  “La Vie en Rose” or the English translation, Life Through Rosy Pink Glasses, was released as a single in 1947 by French singer, Édith Piaf and is one of her most famous and beloved songs. Édith Piaf, also known as “The Little Sparrow,” became an icon of France during World War II.  She was a symbol of French passion and tenacity.  Piaf’s signature song was about finding love after a trying time, and many people saw it as an anthem of hope as it was released shortly after the end of World War II. Here’s the thing:  “La Vie en Rose” isn’t just a song about romance; it’s an anthem of love for life, especially when everything around you is considered a source of joy.  Life through rosy pink glasses isn’t about being foolishly optimistic. Instead, it’s about a state of being, where we stop…and, are truly grateful for the many blessings and small miracles that occur in our everyday lives.

Read More →

Tuesday Tunes: Paris Highlights

    Eiffel Tower Sunset Paris, France October 2017   Farmguy and I visited Paris, France a few years ago, and we absolutely loved it.  It’s a fabulous city for walking, especially since there seems to be a gem around every corner. From its beautiful architecture, fantastic museums, lovely gardens, amazing history, and of course, food and wine, it was difficult to choose a favorite experience; However, if I were pressed, I think it would be visiting the historic art store, Sennelier—which we happily discovered while looking for something else. Located on the Left Bank of the River Seine, directly across from the Louvre museum, this crowded little shop has provided supplies to artists for more than 100 years. Gustave Sennelier opened his art supply store in 1887, just a few blocks from the most famous art school in Paris, Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  In the beginning, Sennelier sold paints made by various manufacturers. Later, he decided to produce his own paints, traveling all over Europe to buy the best raw materials. It was such a thrill to walk through this old art shop choosing paints and brushes from the very same place where Cézanne, Picasso, Gauguin, and van Gogh bought oil paints and pastels so many years ago. Here’s the thing:  Paris is full of treasures. All you have to do is be willing to explore!           Have a wonderful day!  

Read More →

You’ve Got This

  For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember a post titled, Above and Beyond:  An Everyday Hero.  A couple of years ago, a major water pipe in our home broke, and a very kind and determined person rescued us. We thought he was just our plumber, but he turned out to be much more.  He was our hero…answering an emergency call late on a snowy, Saturday night, problem-solving a difficult situation, and working undeterred until, once again, we had water. During this dire situation, our plumber, Mike Walker dug five gallons of dirt out of a tiny access hole, and then, climbed into this small, dirty space. He ignored his own safety, well-being, and comfort to repair our out-of-reach pipe, but also to preserve the hardwood floors in our 200-year-old family home. He did all of this, unselfishly, to save us from a significant amount of stress, inconvenience, and heartbreak–a true hero. Since that night, I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of  “everyday heroes.”  And, here’s the thing:  Heroism lies within all of us.  Each of us has the power to make our lives and the lives of others better.  Sometimes we may feel that life is always trying to “start something” by throwing a challenge or a truly dark situation at us.  However, it doesn’t matter if the problem is “too high to get over, too low to get under, and we’re stuck […]

Read More →

Tuesday Tunes: Feeling Festive

I LOVE wandering around vintage/antiques stores.  You know the kind—where there’s everything from beautiful, old quilts to those tacky Smurf drinking glasses you just had to collect when you were a child. The fun thing is you never know what you may find….treasure or trinkets.  But, it’s all good stuff! Well, recently, while enjoying a lazy afternoon in one of these delightful shops, I discovered an item that grabbed my attention…a pillow with small, red bells on the corners and the phrase, “Get Your Jingle On.”  I laughed out loud! Anyway, the more I thought about this whimsical pillow, the more I decided that I really needed it.  I thought, “What a good reminder of this season of love and goodwill.” So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, tired, or stressed-out, put on some festive music, remember your blessings, and think about all the wonderful things you can do to reflect light into our world by offering a kind word, a bright smile, or a helpful hand. Go ahead, “GET YOUR JINGLE ON.”     As you can see, Clementine, Dash, and Bizou love the pillow, especially the bells. 🙂 Wishing you a week full of joy and lots of jingles! 

Read More →

Tuesday Tunes: The Grapevine

Meadows of Dan, Virginia  Blue Ridge Parkway   Recently, Farmguy and I participated in the grape harvest at a local winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia.  Located in the Rocky Knob American Viticultural Area (AVA), Chateau Morrisette Winery sits at an elevation of nearly 3500 feet.  Boasting spectacular views, it’s amid one of the most rugged and mountainous parts of the state.  Although the winery is at 3500 feet, most of its vineyards are down the mountain at 1600 feet. Chateau Morrisette Winery was founded by David Morrisette in 1978, making it among the oldest wineries in Virginia.  It has 13 acres of land and produces approximately 70,000 cases of wine each year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Vidal blanc are among the varietals used in making Chateau Morrisette’s wines.  Besides growing many of its own grapes, the winery also buys grapes from other vineyards in Virginia.  Due to the state’s climate and growing season, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are some the winery’s most successful varieties. In the photos, Farmguy and I are harvesting Niagara grapes—a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca.  Niagara grapes are one of the few grape varieties that can grow at such a high elevation. These green grapes are table grapes and are also used in making jams, juices, and wines.  They are mainly used in Chateau Morrisette’s sweet/dessert wines—Sweet Mountain Laurel and Red […]

Read More →

Drops of Jupiter…And a Little Bit of Heavenl

Fattoria della Talosa–Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Ornellaia–Super-Tuscan, Cordella–Montalcino   In May 2018, I spent a delightful week in Tuscany.  I wasn’t alone, though.  Melody, author of the blog, Meals With Mel accompanied me on this little adventure around Florence and the Tuscan countryside.  We had a fabulous time wandering around the beautiful city of Florence and marveling at the many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture—including the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. We visited The Galleria dell’ Accademia which displays Michelangelo’s, “David” sculpture as well as the Uffizi Gallery which exhibits Botticelli’s, “The Birth of Venus.” Once in the countryside, we enjoyed lots of sunshine and blue skies while truffle hunting at a beautiful farm and vineyard called, Fattoria Santa Vittoria.  And, of course, we had some of the most beautiful wines in the world—mainly, but not entirely, comprised of the Sangiovese grape, an Italian red grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter.” For those of you who may not be familiar with the wines of central Italy, The Apennine Mountains, which run the length of the Italian Peninsula, dominant the wine regions of this area. Grapes are planted in the hills and valleys of this mountain range with altitude providing a moderating influence on the hot climate.  It’s also important to mention that the coastal areas on both sides of the country […]

Read More →

You’ve Got This

  For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember a post titled, Above and Beyond:  An Everyday Hero.  Last year, a major water pipe in our home broke, and a very kind and determined person rescued us. We thought he was just our plumber, but he turned out to be much more.  He was our hero…answering an emergency call late on a snowy, Saturday night, problem-solving a difficult situation, and working undeterred until, once again, we had water.  During this dire situation, our plumber, Mike Walker dug five gallons of dirt out of a tiny access hole, and then, climbed into this small, dirty space. He ignored his own safety, well-being, and comfort to repair our out-of-reach pipe, but also to preserve the hardwood floors in our 200-year-old family home. He did all of this, unselfishly, to save us from a significant amount of stress, inconvenience, and heartbreak–a true hero. Since that night, I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept of  “everyday heroes.”  And, here’s the thing:  Heroism lies within all of us.  Each of us has the power to make our lives and the lives of others better.  Sometimes we may feel that life is always trying to “start something” by throwing a challenge or a truly dark situation at us.  However, it doesn’t matter if the problem is “too high to get over, too low to get under, and we’re stuck in the middle,” […]

Read More →

Tuesday Tunes: A Girl Like You

Birth of Venus  by Sandro Botticelli, 1486 Uffizi Gallery Florence, Italy         Liberty of Poetry by Pio Fedi, 1870 Santa Croce Florence, Italy   Atop playwright Giovanni Battista Niccolini’s tomb in the basilica of Santa Croce is a statue remarkably similar to New York’s Statue of Liberty. Both depict a woman in neoclassical robes with a crown of rays, standing on a broken chain, her right arm uplifted.  Pio Fedi started to design the Florentine statue, known as Liberty of Poetry, in 1870.  It was the same year in which Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, designer of the New York Statue of Liberty, was in Italy, fighting alongside General Garibaldi during the Franco-Prussian War.   The Coronation Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by Unknown English artist oil on panel, circa 1600 National Portrait Gallery London, England   Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss Front view Marble by Antonio Canova (1757-1822) Musée du Louvre Paris, France   Venus Bordeaux, 2001 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte by Jim Dine (American, b. 1935) Bordeaux, France   The Kiss Bronze by Auguste Rodin Outside the Musée de l‘Orangerie Paris, France  

Read More →