Today I thought I would rewind back to a post I wrote in November of 2014. Our trip to England and Italy that year was truly amazing! We began with a few days in London and then flying to Venice to start our magical journey of Italy. From the sights of the Grand Canal to the sounds of songs coming from Gondolas to the beautiful people we met, Venice was unforgettable. One special person we met was Nonna Lena and below is my memory of that visit.
Our trip to England and Italy were filled with special moments shared with special people who each have a place in my heart. I am always in awe seeing the beautiful sights, but enjoy the feeling when you share your adventure and connect it to a person who made it feel real. I’m never one to pick the best but rather enjoy each chance meeting and reflect on its own unique experience. I have written in earlier posts of how I love Lace and link it to my past from beautiful pieces made by my Grandmother Charlotte. It is so amazing that I would travel to Venice and stay in Hotel Fontana and meet Nonna Lena and feel a connection to memories past. All though she doesn’t speak English and my Italian is limited, we connected heart to heart. Her face is true beauty holding love, appreciation and kindness with every smile.
Nonna Lena is 92 and still comes to Hotel Fontana each day to sit and greet the Guests and make everyone feel like Family. Her Grandson Diego is now in charge of the Family Hotel that was established in 1967. Many years ago it had been a home to a group of German Nuns. While sitting in the lovely reception /bar area I could hear the Church bells from the Duomo in the Square and I was immediately taken back in thoughts of years past. I know I have read too many romance novels and go off on tangents of oohs and aahs but this truly was a magical feeling. While lost in thought a small woman appeared from the back and presented me with a beautiful smile and greeting. Diego introduced Nonna Lena to me and I knew right away I wanted to spend time with her. She held so much warmth in eyes and this is truly the History of Venice to me. A lovely family keeping alive the tradition of a business being created by a wonderful couple and now her Grandson and his cousin are building it for hopefully the next generation. With pride she showed me the painting of she and her Husband Nino that hang on the wall of the reception area. With Diego translateing she told the story of how she and her Husband had owned a Restaurant Da Nino adjacent to the Hotel from 1947 to 1967 when they opened Hotel Fontana. They enjoyed many years working side by side building a wonderful reputation in the Hotel business.
Our room like I’m sure of the others was filled with lovely antiques and a very comfortable bed. They have a lovely Breakfast room and we enjoyed the delicious rolls and buns each morning. They also have traditional hard boiled eggs, yogurt and salami and cheese as well. Breakfast is complete with either a Cappuccino or Café Maciado .
One afternoon Nonna Lena and I were sitting together and she brought out a big book and placed it on the table between us. As she opened it, I could see it contained doilies she had made. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful pieces she had created and she could see how much I liked them and then picked out three pieces and gave them too me. My eyes filled with tears as I felt so special to be given these lovely pieces that of course I will treasure and hand down in my family with this lovely memory as well. One afternoon Nonna Lena and I were sitting together and she brought out a big book and placed it on the table between us. As she opened it, I could see it contained doilies she had made. I enjoyed looking at the beautiful pieces she had created and she could see how much I liked them and then picked out three pieces and gave them too me. My eyes filled with tears as I felt so special to be given these lovely pieces that of course I will treasure and hand down in my family with this lovely memory as well.
Venezia is truly an amazing place to visit with its art, culture and delicious food! From our arrival at the Venice Airport to the Water Taxi to the Hotel and our visits to the Doge Palace, St. Marks Square and the Duomo, we will forever remember this exciting City. I feel like I experienced the best of both Worlds both seeing the beautiful sights, tasting the fine food and leaving with the special Friendship of Nonna Lena that will be laced into my memories.
Like a Bird, my visits in New York keep me flying thru the streets...Uptown, Downtown, Midtown, China Town, Little Italy, the West Village,East Village,Chelsea, Soho ...I cover lots of territory! All of my senses are treated to the best sights, sounds, smell, tastes and yes best of all meeting and sharing conversations with great people!
Alberts Garden above is one of my favorite "secret" places to visit. A Community garden tucked away on the middle of a street that offers some great shade on a sunny day. An inviting place to sit and relax and be treated to the art of nature. From the beautiful plants to a lovely goldfish pond and so many birds to watch creates a serene experience.
Just a few steps from the Garden is one of my favorite stores in New York!
Bonnie Slotnick's Cookbook store. The shop offers cookbooks from every Country and style of cooking there is. In addition she has a selection of vintage dishes and selected home wares. I'm in my glory sitting and browsing the bookshelves and chatting with fellow foodies. The store is charming and on each visit I find something to add to my collection.
Walking through the lower East Side affords the rare opportunity to experience the true mosaic of New York City. This is an area where the immigrants set up neighborhoods and Little Italy and China Town were born. There were also Irish, Polish, Russian and the Jewish community on Delancey Street. This is where you can still find a cobblestone street...to buildings with charming art deco style...and the specialty stores that are trying to keep the old neighborhoods alive. I've spoken to some people that come to New York City, and liken it to a visit to the old country where their family generations began. I love on my visits the chance to walk the Avenue and stop at the Butcher, the bakery, the fish monger, the fruit & vegetable stand...you get the picture! Life for our immigrant Families was good back then when ... Less was more... no mansions, cell phones, computers...rather rubbing elbows with your neighbors, lively conversations, and having coffee with family and friends. Today I walk these streets and enjoy a look back and shop the local stores to support these communities.
As I sat down to write this I thought..... Yet another absence from blogging must be addressed! Well...I just got back from spending six weeks in Manhattan helping my Daughter moving from one apartment to another. An 11 block move sounds simple right? Wrong on all accounts! Less became more with every obstacle from oppressive heat to a triathlon being run while the movers made their way up 11 streets charging by the hour! They were happy as runners held up traffic and everybody clapped and waved except for Stephanie and myself who were ready to pull our hair out!
Once again I can't make up stories like this but we actually ended up at St. Luke's Hospital that night as my Daughter thought she was having a heart attack! Luckily her symptoms that mimicked a heart attack were actually severe dehydration. The Hospital told us they had brought in extra saline anticipating runners being dehydrated with the heat but 5000 fared well while we sat that evening in Emergency. At the time it was scary but we've since been able to laugh how funny it was because picture this.... we come in by cab and they assumed the vintage Parent being me was the patient and I said I'm great it's my daughter! It really was comical when we think back on the moment!
I love her new terrace....alright the fire escape but I like to imagine the Audrey Hepburn movies of years ago in Manhattan and all the funny scenes they shot on fire escapes. You can see across how some buildings do have terraces and again remembering the movie Rear Window and laughing so much!
It truly was a working trip but there was loads of fun time as well. The pictures speak for themselves and the neighborhood is great.
With every move comes the fun of getting acquainted with a new footprint...New York city talk for neighborhood! The Upper West has some great local restaurants and the the Museum and Central Park are a block away. We tried a few eating spots and they're all very good. Friday night Happy hour at Crave offers Clams and Oysters and Senn Thai is sooooo good. The funniest thing is the 50 people who are on line every night for vegan ice cream. This so reminds me of the old "neighborhood" where they would line up for Levain cookies. The first time I saw so many people of all ages lined up...I thought it was either a soup kitchen or casting call for a film being shot!
I really have enjoyed walking around and meeting new store owners and introducing myself as well as picking up Strudel at Zabars for dessert. There are so many more City stories to share, as well as meeting up with old friends and making some new ones too! More to come tomorrow. Talk to you soon...Denise
I love a Royal get together with all the pomp and circumstance and when a Horse and Carriage are thrown in....how Devine! ;)
The Royal wedding of Meghan and Harry was a delight for all to enjoy. Although it had all the essentials of a good Hallmark Fairy Tale Romance it was indeed cautiously guarded by English Tradition ! Even the Queen attended who at first was reported would not as Meghan had a prior Divorce. Well Rules can be changed and of course exceptions apply and here she was impeccably dressed in true Royal style! There was a little wiggle room in her outfit as demonstrated in a news clip where she was seen shrugging her shoulders at what the delightful Preacher was referring as true Love! A few smirks and smiles from other noted Royals were captured and that in itself added to the happy occasion! Although my invitation must have been lost in the mail ....I had a front row seat and toasted the lovely couple with an early morning orange juice!
I had a television on in both the living room and family room to compare color and coverage. The living room was the American coverage and the Family room was streaming from Brit Box where the color was definitely better. Aww yes even watching from home required some set up and timing! LOL!
Seriously I have never met anyone that doesn't wave back to the Queen even on Television! OK well maybe that's only in my la la mind!
Traveling in Style....a Horse drawn carriage.....Fairy tale wishes that all people cheer on!
From the Cathedral...to the Castle....carried in a Carriage...truly a Royal Celebration! Now add the adorable wedding party, the Gospel Choir, the engaging Preacher, the Ceremony Hymn Stand By Me followed by the Recessional Song Amen .......Yes indeed A Royal Celebration....American Style!
A kiss from the two lovebirds and now we await the next Royal-American Celebration....or shall I say Royal Shindig!
Ta Ta Everyone!....Denise
Once again I find myself saying where does the time go between my blog posts! Well.......its complicated! To begin with I have been in New York for the past three weeks and prior to that my Daughter and Son visited for Easter and it seems I get caught up in so many projects! Sound familiar.....as they say Time Flies when your're having fun!
So let me share some of the great projects I've been up to.....
My first was the addition of my new "Old" door for my garden pictured above. As I stand at my kitchen window I imagined looking out and seeing a door like I've seen in so many beautiful garden magazines and of course Pinterest! So I went on a hunt and found this one at a local Antique store and happily dragged it home and set it behind my herbs. I draped a flag on top, an orchid to the side and hung an old Welcome sign. The Crystal knob was found at another antique shop and completed my look. I'm so happy as I gaze out each day and see it, and thinking of all the special touches that will be added for all the seasons of the year!
While in New York I found a little thrift shop in Flushing and picked up this cool Aqua Cooler. A true vintage find with original label and pristine inside. Of course not planning on using it for liquids but do plan as a centerpiece for an outdoor table with flowers or a vine in it. Love the look and actually a rare find according to Amazon where they have a few at $69.00 and up!
The Spring is so colorful and this year I've incorporated Blue's and Aqua in my kitchen and Family room! It started with a small blue coffee table found at an antique shop and has graduated to all sorts of finds and handmade items. I'm very proud of my new hobby embroidery and have started some projects.....here are a few!
Here is my Family Room decked out for Spring!
My New York City trips always are memorable as I seem to encounter the most interesting people and of course great backdrops through out the City. Here are a few pictures from the annual flower show at Macy's. The theme this year was Once Upon a Springtime.....so sweet! ;)
.I thought I'd end this post with a few shots of my Spring Flowers in the Front of my House...
Happy Spring Everyone!.....Denise
I love talking! When ever I discuss the art of conversation I'm surprised how quiet the room gets! ;) Most people today get by on texts, messaging, emails etc and have put audible words on hold!
For me the art of conversation brings the opportunity to be the writer of my words, the director of my thoughts and the actress to star in my performance! Ok this sounds heavy... but it is true! I view talking as a way to communicate my thoughts and compassion with feeling and emotion. It appears to me as the World becomes more accessible the sounds of conversation are diminishing. Singing beautiful lyrics to song is being replaced by rapping and classic acting by reality shows. I miss the days you'd run to answer the phone not knowing who was calling and then enjoy a chat with a friend and truly laugh out loud! ;)
I'm not trying to say the sky is falling and doom has arrived just that people are talking less! Even today as I'm typing this post my thought is I want to call and ask for feedback conversation!
I am truly a people person and enjoy sharing my personality with others through conversation. My favorite pastime is Antiquing. Just the word itself reflects something of the past. For me when I'm shopping at an Antique market I enjoy meeting others and engaging in conversation about all the treasures. People seem to be so happy looking reflecting and even imaging reselling their finds. Usually we share instances where we've been and seen others or places where they came from etc. Engaging in small chitchat where creativity rather than competition is at play is delightful!
While on this conversation.....you know I'm smiling;) I recently saw Neil Sedaca in performance and what a tremendous show he put on. The man at 78 still performing, writing songs, playing the piano and what transcends to his audiences is sincerity when engaging in conversation with them. He told us that he attended Julliard School of Music in NYC and was classically trained on the piano. He treated us by playing a masterpiece by Chopin and what a treat it was. Both his playing and sharing in conversation with what music has meant to him was fabulous.
I absolutely love my whimsical pocket book above that sums it up Blah blah blah! Just the sight of it makes people smile and yes most times remark and then conversations get started. Well that wraps up today's chat!
Wishing everyone a wonderful day.....talk to you soon....Denise
I am debuting my latest project and new addition to my office/craft studio! A handsome new bookcase that I have chosen to house my sewing and art supplies on. I chose black and white.....a favorite color palette that I always find elegant!
From tasty black and white cookies to black and white spectator shoes to black and white painted furniture ....I'm a fan!
I picked up this piece at a local Habitat for Humanity for $20.00. It was made in the USA and actually in perfect shape in a brown finish. I knew its home was going to be in my office so decided to do a base coat of primer and then high gloss black and white to finish it up! I was so happy with the final coat when it dried and then the fun of setting it up to show case my supplies. The glass canisters hold my threads, zippers and trim material, while the Cornish tins are filled with all sorts of art supplies. If you look carefully I decoupaged a postcard of the Queen on the round tin and filled it with sparkly items to catch your eye!
I love sitting at my computer now and looking over and admiring it. I'm always planning a new craft idea and many times buy all the stuff... and then never get to finish! ;) This way I have the beautiful supplies to admire and inspire me to finish. This years focus is to complete what I already have! Below is the bookcase from start to finish!
One of my favorite stores in NYC is Mackenzie-Child's on West 57th Street. As you enter the first floor is filled with hand painted black and white checkered furniture, frames lampshades etc all done in black and white. Upstairs features lots of colorful items with polka dots and prints that are so imaginative to the mind. I seem to be incorporating lots of black and white since I painted my kitchen and family room area gray. Below are some of my favorite pieces.
Here are some pictures from the MacKenzie-Childs store on West 57th Street in NYC. I love stopping by and admiring the whimsical charm of their showroom and get inspiration to create vignettes in my home to admire each day!
This vignette is my favorite and I picture myself there enjoying that cup of tea! Happy Sunday....Denise
Well finally I'm putting thoughts to type and jumping in to wish everyone Happy New Year on January 24! ;) Since returning from a wonderful Holiday in New York .... I've had a sinus issue that has kept me exhausted! I'm finally feeling better and planning on sharing more thoughts and stories from my adventures and posting more on a daily basis. Above is my husband Rocco and myself at my Daughter Stephanie's apartment on New Years Eve! It was a great night but certainly cold and as we took in the Fireworks show at Central Park at midnight it was -5 Degrees! A brisk walk to the Park and then back to enjoy a toast to the New Year and eat Herring for good luck!
Above is one of my favorite pictures of our trip...Stephanie and I with NYC's finest at Times Square New Years Eve morning. It was only single digits then and my hands were absolutely frozen. We decided to take a picture and we all laughed when the patrolman taking it said smile and then I realized it was only us smiling as they had on protective gear to shield them from the wind and cold! As always our trips to New York are filled with visits to family and friends sharing great times and of course great food! From New York to New Jersey to The Catskill Mountains to Long Island we laughed and shared the stories of both present day and memories of years past. There is never enough time to see everyone but we try our best to make the rounds.
To all who have visited Britalia Way and to new visitors .... I'm wishing everyone Health, Happiness and tasteful Memories for 2018!
All the Best,
I love the magic of Christmas! From Believing to Wishing to Love...I truly adore the Season! Not to sound so sappy but memories are dusted off and taken out and admired on our trees and the warm sweet smell of Cinnamon baking and music playing is the best! Above is my Kitchen Christmas tree. I decided to use my Crown ornament for the Top and hang crystal and bling and lace for garland. I strung little wooden ornaments on rope to add to the charm of my new style Royal Farm! I'm so happy each time I flip the switch and its white lights and sparkle from the crystal bling comes to life. In keeping with Britalia Way fashion .......the tree skirt is a scarf I bought in Venice during our Holiday in Italy and England a few years back.
With Snowmen dancing from the light above and Pine Cones and Santa at the Door....we're ready for the Festivities to begin. I'm ready to toast with a good eggnog or spiced cider and perhaps nibble on the Christmas Struffoli!
Once again we've decided not to put up our big tree that is over 10 feet tall and have opted once again for the smaller tree below. Last year I had it on a table but this year decided to leave on the floor and put toys under it and create a vintage look. I love the jack in the box a gift from my kids and the rocking horse was my Moms. There is an English car for Britalia Way and a some stuffed toys and a Santa in a rocking chair for fun. He actually rocks and sings and makes quite a racket. A vintage term for noisy!! :) Couldn't resist as I realize sometimes the things we say reflect our age and growing up in a time where sayings reflected thoughts rather than the initials today that sometimes I have no idea what people are texting me! It truly is funny...I have to stop and google letters to get the shorthand (get it...another vintage idea) of what they mean! Here are a few more Christmas pictures and will continue decorating and post more later.
While in Savannah a few weeks ago, we stopped for lunch at a local Bistro B. Matthews Eatery on Bay Street. We had been out antiquing and walking the downtown and had been told this is a great place for lunch. As we approached I loved the look....Southern,Urban,Downtown Bistro! The interior followed the style with Brick walls and and black leather seats with dark wooden tables. The place was hopping and I thought this is going to be great!
We took a seat at the Bar till a table became ready and I ordered a Bloody Mary and my husband a simple light beer. Both were served nice and cold and tasted so good. We loved the written informative message (pictured above)on the table describing the building and its history. I tried to get a good picture but the sun was very bright that day. We looked over the menu at the appetizers offered and so many looked fantastic. We decided on the Corn Okra Succotash Spring Rolls with Ancho Pepper Chili Sauce. OMG a fabulous mixture that pops in your mouth with flavor. Each ingredient is a compliment and balanced perfectly for that delicate taste leaving you wanting more and more!
Our next decision was equally difficult with so many tempting ideas on the menu. I ordered a bacon, arugula, fried green tomato sandwich with pimento cheese on wheatberry Toast. My husband ordered the fish and chips and once again we were so happy with our choices. The fish and chips were light and delicately fried and paired with the cold beer was perfect. I on the other hand tasting everything so savory and spicy, absolutely flipped over my sandwich! I had the choice of soup and I choose a delicious vegetable. It was truly a duo of taste texture and color. The fried green tomatoes with bacon and arugula and pimento cheese was divine! Lets face it bacon with anything is tasty but pairing it with the southern influence of fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese brought me back to my childhood.
You see, we used to buy Kraft pimento cheese in the glass jars that when the cheese was done you had a juice glass.......OMG I'm dating myself! LOL :)
Once again a lovely day in a historical city, enjoying a local eatery with the charm of the South. My mantra for that day was ...
Less is More, Narrow your Search and Define your Taste! If you get the opportunity to visit Savannah Georgia be sure to put B. Matthew on the agenda for some real tasty fare!
What an exciting Fall it has been this year! Living in Florida leaves a very small chance of seeing real leaves change unless you count dying from the heat ! LOL ( No I'm not being negative ;) ) My usual Fall trip is to New York and Long Island to glimpse the color of the season. This year My husband Rocco and I decided on a car trip to North Carolina. A relaxing ride taking in a visit to Savannah, Georgia and then on to Santee SC to visit our good friend Laura. From there head North into North Carolina to visit Family and a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway! On our trip back we stayed in a lovely Bed and Breakfast, Old Mc Caskills Farm in Rembert, South Carolina. We loved the Farm and I will have a post later this week with great pictures. This trip was so special with our time with family, friends and the weather was tremendous and I even woke up to 36 degrees in Boone NorthCarolina for two days. Well I wanted a change this year and it was fabulous. From getting to wear a sweater to buying a new coat (what can I say) it was cold! Of course I never give up an opportunity to Shop and Mast General Store was just the place! Here are a few pictures ...
This trip was not only picturesque but also quite tasty. From Southern treats to family favorites...we enjoyed bite after bite! Now add an occasional cocktail to the mix and lots of laughs and memories were made.
There are so many great stories to share and I will start with more posts tomorrow. Just wanted to share some scenic pictures and get the ball rolling again at Britalia Way!
After a long hot and extremely stormy Summer ...I'm ready for Fall! Although living in Florida where change of season is subtle and not really felt till December.... I thought I'd try and connect by looking through last years pictures of my fall trip to New York! I'm decorating the house this weekend and I love simmering apples and cinnamon on the stove to fill the cool air ( of course air conditioned air that is) LOL and smell the aroma of spice! With all the talk of chemicals in sprays and candles etc.....get back to basics and simmer on the stove. The aroma of apples with cinnamon and spice can't be beat!
I'm always amazed how a little space around a tree in NYC can capture so much color, design and charm. Once again less is more!
Look at this glorious Cauliflower! I like to steam and enjoy! Tasting the flavor of a vegetable by itself without an expectation is truly having a fine palate. You can roast it, steam it or toss raw into salads. Understanding the basic natural flavor provides the basis to sharing with other ingredients to heighten rather than compete and lose its natural quality. Translation for that statement = Fusion cooking becomes quite confusing for me! ;)
A vegetable side dish is an accompaniment to the main meat or fish and can be enjoyed sharing the sauce of that dish. For example I love steamed broccoli or Cauliflower with a chicken or veal piccata and share the lemon butter with it as a glaze. Competing tastes and textures often confuse the palate ....never mind your digestive system. We should always think of the mouth of the stomach when mixing different tastes.
Let me be frank... adding ham and pineapple to a pizza is like adding sliced meatballs to a chocolate layer cake! Both are thinking out of the box and should remain out of the box and not digested! ;)
For me a simple steamed cauliflower with a piece of roasted meat or cutlet Milanese and a salad with a vinaigrette dressing is perfect. Now add a fruity glass of wine and serve on a white plate with music playing in the background and I'm really happy! A dessert can be as simple as fresh fruit or the sweet taste of an after dinner drink. Perhaps a Sweet Vermouth, or Baileys Creme or a lovely Blueberry Port.
Once again I find myself saying I'm back after another month of silence. Actually back and forth from New York and then Hurricane Irma and no internet for days kept me out of touch. I have so many stories to share and then sometimes feel overloaded and don't know where to begin. OK one sentence at a time.
First off I'm realizing that blogging is not that easy. If you don't get much feedback and are not sure or rather don't understand the concept of boosting on networks... you wonder does anyone read it or not! My conclusion is although its so tempting to start over and change appearance etc....I am not! Instead I'm expanding on this format and planning on adding podcasts with my Worldly thoughts! Oh yes another opinion coming from me will surely get you smiling if not laughing or actually crying with tears from Laughing!
So without further fanfare here is my first Podcast! Have you noticed lately that everyone feels compelled to critique everything.....here is my take on how to cope with Criticism!!! Perhaps you'll have some Criticism too! LOL!
Talk to you soon ... Denise
My big summer chill has really proved to work for me this year. I'm always making lists of things I need to do or projects that I want to craft and people to see etc and then never seem to get it all checked off. Realizing that I'm always expecting too much, I decided to put myself on notice and sit down and chill. I actually started my morning meditations again and wow have they proved to be beneficial. First I have a new Mantra...are you ready....;)
Less is More
Narrow your Search
Dim the Lights
And Listen to the beat of your Heart!
Practicing these words has been enlightening to me both spiritually and physically. I've always had losing weight on the top of my list and never achieved a significant loss. I would take off a few pounds here and there with a yo yo back and forth yet no lasting results. I'm now happy to report I've lost 9 pounds in the last two months and hope to continue for at least another 10 to 15 pounds. Actually the success has been by narrowing down what I eat and then enjoying the benefits (listening) as my body responds with energy and better blood test results. Below is one of my summer salads that I absolutely love! Beets and Blueberries over Spinach with red onion and walnuts. Healthy, tasty and feel the energy it gives your body! Simple vinaigrette dressing...Yum!
Another great summer salad I've been enjoying is spinach with apricots roasted orange peppers, celery, grilled codfish and zucchini. Colorful tasty and loads of protein. Keeping away from the flour carbs has been actually so much easier when replacing them with simple delicious tastes that compliment each other and explode with flavor. I mix my chilled white raspberry decaf tea with some seltzer and pour into a wine glass and feel like a dining at a fancy spa restaurant. I've been using walnuts as my crouton replacement and they add that crunch! ;)
Keeping with the mantra from above I've addressed less is more when cutting carbs and balancing proteins and feeling the results so on to dimming the lights and listening to the beat of your heart. Like everyone else I'm always checking the internet before going to bed usually no reason other than habit.....Well the "New Me" is dimming the light of my iPad till the next day and taking these moments to lie down enjoy the natural light coming into my bedroom and reflect on my day. It's not what I didn't finish rather focus on what I did and the new choices and feeling the results. Rewarding my self for taking the time to enjoy the simple things in life that although ordinary now seem so pleasing. After all, with shedding pounds comes picking out some new clothes and the the visual of imaging tomorrows menu, clearing clutter off counters, replacing the centerpiece of my kitchen table with a glass vase and fresh flowers. When you combine simple things with enthusiasm, your results are truly the Best! Namaste everyone.
Wow...... Where do I begin!.....I'm back in Florida after spending a fabulous month in Manhattan visiting my Daughter Stephanie. From the Upper West Side to the Lower East Side to Chelsea, the West Village, Nolito, Times Square, it still holds the magic that makes me crave more. This trip as usual has given me so many wonderful stories and conversations to share with you.
I will begin with the magic of Bond Street. A lovely cobblestone street on the lower East side that has some antique stores, lofts and houses the showroom for Bond no.9! As with all my stories.... for me the conversations are the true experience followed by the memory of the special people and this one leaves me with such a beutiful scent! ;) OMG I can't believe I said that I'm still laughing...love the Cornish humor! (Please remember the "Cornish" reference )
Ok moving on.... One afternoon Stephanie and I headed down to the East Village. I love walking through Alberts Garden and love the unique shops in the area. This day we went to the three stores of John Derian. One, a gift shop, the other textiles and then his antique/furniture store. We savored all three and when talking with an associate at the store he suggested we might like Paula Rubenstein's store over on Bond Street a few blocks away. So off we went and upon turning the corner to Bond street I recalled immediately that I had taken pictures here last year of a Vespa and have it framed in my family room. (Picture above taken last year) I hadn't remembered the name of the street but love the industrial New York urban Chic Charm it offers. As we approached her shop I spotted an Aston Martin parked at the curb where the Vespa had been. Two for two a lovely street and now another photo opportunity one with a beautiful Vintage Aston Martin!!! Approaching the car I noticed a Gentleman seated behind the wheel and said.... I love your ride do you mind if I take a picture. No he replied with his lovely British accent and I snapped away. Here is the picture of Gerald and me.
We began talking and I had shared my ancestors were from Cornwall in the South of England (Cornish reference from above) and he knew it well. Actually he had been there recently and thus the stories went on from there. He had been very happy to share on his last visit there he was able to see Dartmouth Castle clearly as the weather conditions were perfect. So funny to hear an Englishman marvel the simple pleasure of viewing a Castle without the usual rain and fog! A few minutes later he handed me the Post Card above from Bond no.9 and pointed to the showroom. I was curious as to the name thinking of course James Bond...Right! Ha Ha ....such a geek as usual! At this point I didn't realize he was the driver for the owner Laurice Rahme' till she appeared from behind and he jumped out to open her door! We exchanged pleasantries and me being me asked if she was Mrs. Bond!!! Had I been one to be in the circle of lovely people who frequent her shop and know the perfume I would have known the Bond line of products! She laughed jumped in the car and off they drove with a wave and a smile and me laughing so hard as I had said to her," I love your taste in drivers... as Gerald was truly charming!"
We enjoyed visiting the store and received a sample of her lovely perfume and was amazed at her idea to create the scents of New York. She has one for each of the neighborhoods of the city including the Upper West Side, Nolita, Chelsea, Upper East side etc and even created one called Peace after 911 which actually was one of my favorites!
Aww yes....... the scents of New York ....a tremendous idea, carried out with elegance.....that leaves the fragrance of success!
The picture above was taken last Wednesday arriving at Kennedy Airport for my visit with Stephanie. The Spring air feels great and I can't wait to hit the streets running and savor the sights, smells and sounds of the Big Apple. NYC is my favorite place not only as my Daughter lives here, but the opportunity to experience culture, traditions, history and some of the best markets and food venues in the World. With the Spring and Summer festivals and street fairs you are treated to the unique essence of urban city culture. My first stop was Central Park for a walk, and as always delighted to find these Gentlemen below "jammin" with that Jazz feel to bring you back to the 60's flavors of a typical Manhattan afternoon! Sit back and listen to the music for a minute....
New Yorkers have such a stylish way to create container gardens and small places that are so inviting to sit and enjoy the Spring weather. With the sun peeking through the stoop below captures the highlights of this traditional style. I absolutely Love it !!! ;)
From a Town House to a High Rise Spring flowers are blooming all over. It is the beautiful colors that compliment the vintage architecture that completes the feeling for me. I enjoy the experience, and equate it as walking through the art that you would see in a gallery.
With the afternoon coming to a close Dinner became my next thought ....... Stephanie had it under control and she whipped up a scrumptious meal of oven grilled peppers, onions and sausage with an arugula salad with beet noodles, tomatoes and carrot. Truly a delicious way to start a Spring visit with Stephanie in this beautiful City!
I absolutely love my pot collection! I've accumulated many and consider them my prized possessions! From Club Aluminum, Guardian, and Wagner to Reverware, Farberware, Belgique, Cuisinart and Le Creuset... I love them all! I tell my friends and family when I'm using them I think back to when I bought them and who I was cooking with and the stories begin. ;)
Over the last few weeks I've been doing a Spring clean up outside in the garden and planting new flowers and herbs. I thought about creating a fun new look and decided to use some of my old aluminum pots and plant some herbs in them. I thought they would look really cute sitting on my potting table or hanging on the fence. I already have grown herbs in horse troughs for years and was so excited to add and create this new look for my patio garden.
If you notice in the picture above I took this photo and printed it out and then decoupaged it on to a tile as a trivet. I felt so proud of myself until I saw the dirt smudge to the left and laughed for hours. I've truly learned not to fret over the little things and rather view it as it adds character! ;) Now that I decided to use old pots for herbs and special pretty flowers.... I have to antique more and pick up a few additional old interesting pieces. Oh yes...Right up my alley! I started this past weekend and picked up a few while combing the antique and thrift stores. I found a lovely Pewter piece actually not a pot, rather a serving piece that had markings on the back from London. I'm going to make it up for either my Kitchen or Dining room table. I told my husband this is a win win as with all the time I've spent setting up my garden, has left me less time to do other shopping. The best part is all the fun things I've been doing using the herbs each day. I've recently made pickles, pickled okra, herb flavored Vodka for Bloody Marys as well as herbed vinegar. I'm really enjoying the time spent in my garden and slowly overcoming my fear of anything that crawls. It's so funny as I still wear long rubber clothes that are yellow so I can see anything that comes near my gloves! I would love to look like one of those natural gardeners with fancy apron etc but I'm dressed to protect myself from the element! LOL! I've really come along way working outside and really proud of the results.
Above is a picture of the piece from England that I mentioned and two ideas for a centerpiece. One with grapes for the dining room table and the other perhaps simple greens. Of course I couldn't resist and threw in my signature Crown as an accessory. I love the charm it brings as well as all the conversation it generates! There is always something about Crowns that sparks a certain fascination.....I know it does for me!
A Pasty has become one of my favorite quick suppers! You can make use of your leftovers and transform them into a pastry shell and create your own unique shapes! ;) Next you pop them in the oven for 35-40 minutes, while your tossing a Salad or making a quick soup and then sit down and enjoy, while imaging yourself across the big Pond in jolly old England!
The Pasty above was stuffed with leftover steak and veggies from a barbecue and the others chicken and veggies. You can make them with virtually any filling all vegetable or even lentils or beans. Don't make them to saucy as the sauce will drizzle out the sides while cooking and take away from the appearance.
I know this as I've been there done that more than once!
I know I can hear from where I'm sitting the gasps of breath for putting a picture of Lard as an ingredient. First off my defense is less is more and your not going to eat all 6-8 pastys yourself, that called for 1/4 cup lard .....no Butter. Now you could use all butter or half and half lard to butter or my last choice Crisco. I did my research and unless your vegetarian there is a good argument out there that animal Fat=Lard is actually a better choice than Veg lard due to the processing. If you find lard offensive use a little Crisco or all butter or bacon fat or as I like to create for Britalia Way recipes is a pastry using pancetta that you have cut small and chopped in a mini processor to make it smooth. The flavor is fantastic and of course for Britalia Way it combines an Italian ingredient with an English recipe! ;) ...Not to mention people" Do Not" equate Pancetta to lard rather a delicious product you pick up at an Italian Salumeria! Seriously pasty's are something you don't have every night and the fat content is probably less than store bought processed pie and bread products eaten far more often.
I've made all different types of stuffing and I really like leftover Escarole and beans or Escarole and Sausage. Vegetarians could use cabbage, carrot, peas and parsnips and add cream of celery soup to bind together. Tuna fish , red peppers , onions and capers and bind with a little mayonnaise and chili sauce. I've tasted many from Myers of Keswick in Manhattan and they have beef and onions with delicious mushrooms etc. There are endless ideas just use leftovers and try them some evening and possibly pour a pint to serve as your beverage!
This past weekend we took a drive to Mt. Dora to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary and enjoy some Antiquing in this lovely town. The little shops along Main street are so inviting and each carry so many unique items made by local artists. The town also boosts a wide variety of great Restaurants as well. I was truly excited when I learned that the Annual Garden Show was being held this past Sunday at Rennigers Antique and Flea Market! Aw yes a trifecta for me staying at the lovely Heron Cay Lakeview Bed and Breakfast, Antiquing at the Garden show and then enjoying the local restaurants celebrating our Anniversary for a few days! There's always room for another Martini!:)
We headed up Sunday morning and went straight to the Garden show and was amazed how large a show it was. Needless to say I had to take it all in and we spent 4 hours meandering both inside and outside at all there was to see. The top picture was the first booth as we walked in and I bought some lovely dried lavender there. My other great finds included an old sewing machine drawer pictured below that I put some potted plants in that I had at home. I also purchased some lace that day as well as a metal wall vase. I finished off the show with two ceramic boxes that have crowns (my favorite thing) on them. Another store in town called Piece of Mine brought a purchase of the lovely flower pot that I put the lavender in and I added moss! Little pretty things make me happy! ;) Next we enjoyed cocktails at the Lost Parrot in town and then headed over to the Bed and Breakfast to check in.
We were greeted by Margie the innkeeper and shown to our room. It was a lovely room overlooking the Lake with a four poster bed and we thought just perfect. Well to make a long story short on our way down to get our clothes she showed us the just Heavenly Suite and we decided to stay in that one as it was available. A grand room with a King Bed, Fireplace and sitting room and finished off with a huge Bath and dressing area. The bath was decorated with antiques as was the room and made it feel all that nicer. Chandeliers in the bathroom.......yes savvy style!
It was truly a beautiful three day get away with all the bells and whistles! As always we love to talk with everyone we meet and while having Dinner at Pisces Rising a Florida Steak and Seafood Restaurant we met Maggie and Kevin. Our tables were back to back and Kevin heard me asking about dessert and he said don't count calories just do it! Well five minutes later they joined us at our table and we shared lots of good conversation, laughs and the beautiful evening breeze sitting on the patio overlooking the Lake with music to boot!
Monday morning we met Laura and Dave that were staying at the Bed and Breakfast as well. We started talking and then set off in different directions. We stopped at the Olive Branch Restaurant to check out the menu for dinner and they were there having a drink. Once again lots of talk and then we decided to meet them there later for dinner and celebrate our Anniversary's together ! We had such a lovely evening and really got to know each other and plan on meeting up again soon.
Once again sharing special moments with two special couples made our get away all the more memorable. Thanks to our innkeepers Margie and Randy for a delightful stay at your gracious home and the delicious Breakfast served each morning!
March has been a busy month at my house both with projects and a visit from my girlfriend Carol. I look forward to her visits for all the fun we have visiting, shopping and of course our talks on solving the World's problems! ;) As she tells friends she is in "Finance" ..... moving money in all stores and creating a need for industry to supply pretty items at discounted prices! ;)
We have the best times collaborating ideas and then shopping from stores to antique malls, to thrift shops in pursuit of the perfect items to create a new idea we've envisioned!
She arrived with a big bag of presents for my Birthday and we began right away figuring out the best place to display them. Her presents were all crown related starting with a beautiful gold bird with a crown pictured above, Crown Measuring Spoons, Crown Napkin Rings, A Crown Bookmark from Ireland with an Irish Cookbook, a crown applique for Furniture and then a beautiful pair of Crown Crystal earnings from My Flat in London! Awe Yes I certainly felt like a Queen the day she arrived! Thanks Carol for all my presents and creating memories I get to look at and enjoy. ;)
Starting with the wreath above that I had in a closet and with the addition of some Ivy, a little ribbon and then of course my new bird Bella with her crown. She is now proudly hanging in the Pool bath also known as the Queens Throne!
March was certainly a busy month and Carols visit made it so memorable. From a Paul Anka concert at Sunrise Theater, my neighbors 50th Anniversary Party, Reiki one evening, as well as Meditation, endless shopping and visits with my neighbor Addie who had us over for a lovely breakfast and my good friend Paola who had us over for Tea and her special Cassata cake pictured below.
With the end of March comes a new month to enjoy the Spring and a visit from both Stephanie and Stephen for Easter. I'm looking forward to making a Pizza Rustica and Grain Pie and will keep you updated with pictures. Happy Spring!!!
It's hard to believe that my last post was from Feb.17th! The past five weeks have flown by and with so many great memories to share at Britalia Way. Starting back on Feb 16th we enjoyed an evening with Jay Leno at the Sunrise Theater. We were so happy to get a chance to meet him before the show and take a picture and then I snapped this selfie of us above.
He is such a nice guy and his show was fabulous. He hasn't lost touch with reality with all his success and it shows! An hour and a half of non stop laughter and you leave his show wishing we could still turn him on every night at 11:30 on the Tonight Show! His jokes are hilarious as he pokes fun at simple everyday subjects without the need to use curse words or put someone down in a negative way. Even his political jokes don't demean or disgrace, rather his delivery of some as questions make them even funnier! ;)
Truly a style all his own with facial gestures that can't be beat! I can't say enough of how entertaining Jay is other than..... If he comes to your town, don't miss his show!
I love hanging pots in my kitchen I love looking at them, but mainly I hang them as I don't like trying to fight with them when there stored in cabinets and get stuck in each other....Right!! :) Problem solved..... I have two pot racks in my Kitchen and love the convenience as well as the style it brings to the room. I still store the larger stock pots in the lower cabinets and make all sorts of sounds when trying to retrieve them and then put the others back where they belong. Actually I think I hear some of you laughing thinking the same thing! Really this is hilarious as most of the world is in chaos over so many issues and I choose to write about hanging pots. In the above picture, you can see I use my Asparagus pot as a vessel for utensils and the strainer for that pot also for assorted spoons etc. It is amazing how easy it is to reach and not fumble around in a drawer. If your about to click off as this post is too corny ....I'm about to share an exciting game I've been asked to participate in! ;)
My nephew Salvatore who is a chef sent me a letter last week asking me if I would share some ideas and be part of the game "My Last Supper" It's a game chefs have enjoyed for decades and seemed to keep it among themselves in the profession. Then along came author Melanie Dunea in 2007 who asked 50 of the World's famous chefs to participate with a picture of the Chef and create a great book for all to enjoy. The object of the game is to answer 6 simple questions:
What would be your last meal on Earth
What would be the setting for the meal
What would you Drink with your Meal ;) That's easy Martini!
Would there be Music
Who would be your Dining Companions!
Who would prepare the meal
Sal (my nephew) thought it would be fun to ask fifty of his friends and relatives to participate. Recipes are optional....are we surprised Chefs usually keep them to themselves or if your like me never formally measure unless baking and rely on our hands and eyes as our measuring tools. I'm excited and plan to think about it over the weekend, possibly pondering the ideas over a lovely Martini recalling meals shared with special people.
For me it's all about the experience and in the picture above you see a rolling pin.... not just a kitchen tool but a rolling pin that holds a very special memory. I purchased that in Montisi Italy at a little shop not far from the bed and breakfast where we were staying. This was a small village and the shops were mostly for the locals or the few tourists (very few) that were there. I still remember walking in and being greeted by the lovely Italian woman and the sincerity in her eyes. With her limited English we shared a memorable exchange as I looked at all her cooking and handmade items she displayed so nicely. There were kitchen tools, aprons, towels and china one nicer than the next. This particular rolling pin has ridges so when you roll it across the dough the Pasta strands are evenly cut..... Perfect for Tagliatelle! She took the pin in her hands to demonstrate and I was immediately taken by her genuine love for cooking and sharing of ideas.
Truly a heartfelt moment for me and one that I recall each time I roll this pin across fresh pasta dough.
Many times when I'm cooking my thoughts take me back to when I've enjoyed the dish that I'm preparing. I'm conscious of what I'm doing but actually imagining the taste, presentation and memory of a simple meal. The above pasta was at a restaurant outside of Florence Italy where we were shopping at a local Antique market. This little Trattoria had set up a tented area in the Town Square for their patrons to enjoy the festivities while enjoying their meal. I can remember the day, the weather, the presentation.....OK you get it I'm obsessed over a bowl of Pasta!!! ;)
Back to my point..... many times as I cook I've realized I'm actually in a meditation of sorts. I came to this conclusion after enjoying a guided meditation class where the teacher was reading from a book called Hidden Treasures by Gangaji. She read a passage that called attention to Conscious awareness of Silence. It was interesting to me as I realized that in my interpretation of her words I applied it to dreaming or even lost in a trance or merely concentration itself. When I dream, I'm aware of animated visions but not sound . As I gave it more thought that day after the class I realized how many opportunities we have to meditate without the formal setting being seated and relaxed and closing your eyes. Sometimes Meditation is simply when our minds concentrate on the task at hand. For me ......that is cooking!
From gathering my ingredients, preparing them and then enjoying the aroma of their flavors is a practice of Meditation for me! ;) While enjoying a simple life activity I'm able to consciously relax and focus only on the present moment to create, present and enjoy a beautiful meal with my family!
There are so many forms of Meditation to achieve the same goal ...that being a time for you to enjoy the present moment. While cooking, gardening, painting or even walking through an art museum, take time to focus in these moments. Become aware of the natural sounds that may be as simple as the sizzle of food being dropped into a hot pan or a paintbrush back and forth on a canvas.....become aware of this simplicity and enjoy your interpretation of conscious awareness. Experience your own feeling of being in the moment.
Wishing you Delicious thoughts today!
Above is one of my favorite snap shots I took while visiting the Cotswolds region in England. We stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in Bourton on the Water and took several trips to neighboring villages and this was snapped near Stow. This beautiful Countryside area would be my decision if thinking of a move to the UK. The charm and style of each village we visited was like stepping back in time to pages in a favorite picture book. This particular home captures both simple design and stately charm! From the stone of the home matching the colors of stone in the pebble walkways, to the single urn of colorful flowering geraniums and ivy, the manicured hedges around the urn to those of the two Topiary's at the sides of the front door.... a picture of simple elegance! For me my thoughts were imagining the interior and of course cooking in its lovely English kitchen.
What entices me about English style and its charm is they savor the tradition of years ago. Even when homes are not as large as the lovely one above their yards reflect the English garden theme. Maybe a single urn or two of greenery of perhaps just a patch of wild flowers. Crisp white curtains on clear glass(no screens) look so neat.
Their villages still have Mom and Pop stores that offer the distinct taste in both food and home goods their shoppers desire. From bakeries and sweet shops, to cheese and gourmet goodies, your palate will taste only the best! Then there are small interesting bookshops, toy stores, and fabulous home good stores with unique styles. My favorite was a kitchen store in Stow where I was amazed at how many toast racks there were to choose from. I loved having a toast rack on the breakfast table table each morning and silver rimmed individual butter dishes. The butter dishes are common here but seldom do I see a toast rack.
Aw yes that English flair! Simplicity with distinct preference as toast in a toast rack does not lay on each other and become soft and soggy but stays dry to be the perfect vessel for delicious butter. We did enjoy the full English breakfast of eggs, ham or sausages, grilled mushrooms, grilled tomato, baked beans and black pudding. Many shops offer fried bread with the breakfast as well. I was a little hesitant to taste the black pudding as it is made with not only pork fat or beef suet but also pork blood and added oatmeal and sometimes barley groats. I decided I would taste it and actually found it to be quite good. It will not make my top 5 recipes or even an attempt on my part to recreate but rather if in a good Pub in New York or England I'd have a taste with breakfast.
Below are some of the lovely shops I visited and tasted some fabulous cheese and sweets as well. I still enjoy envisioning being the shop keeper to one of these special stores! ;)
The English have a savvy way of creating tasteful, distinctive and simple style. Elegant is Elegant, Formal is Formal and Casual has a flair of its own! Traditions seem timeless and protocol still a very Royal Perspective. As they say in England "The Old Guard still reigns at Buckingham Palace." Perhaps I will follow suit here across the Pond in Florida and Oh yes.... I will be putting out my toast rack for breakfast tomorrow and serve myself with style and recall the beautiful Holiday spent in the Cotswolds.
As the New Year unfolds I'm excited like everyone else to try and trim away a few pounds.......alright a lot of pounds!!! ;)
Having returned from our New York Holidays and the lovely cold weather I'm excited to try out some new great soup recipes. My favorite soup this trip was Potato Leek soup that we had at Connolly's 121 West 45th Street between 6th and 7th if your in the NYC area. The Pub features both an upstairs and downstairs....we sat downstairs in a booth not far from the Bar. It was an overcast day Dec 30 and we had just finished a carriage ride through Central Park where we were so excited as when we were pulling back to get off we actually had some snow flurries. I thought at first it was rain but the Driver of the Carriage a spirited Irish man said no it was actually snow flurries. Seeing the white flakes flying through the air made me feel completely blissful! I know it sounds corny but I'm sincere when I say its not only checking a moment off a list as completed but rather getting truly caught up in the moment with that special feeling in your heart. The ride was so nice as our driver was so talkative. I loved his Irish accent and thought about it again later sitting in Connolly's. Yes this was going to be a truly Irish day as we were meeting my Daughter later downtown at Jim Brady's Irish Pub for Dinner.
Lunch would be light so we just ordered a bowl of soup and I a Bloody Mary and my Husband Rocco a Bourbon Manhattan.
The drinks came and we cheered to a wonderful visit we were having in New York. My Potato Leek soup arrived and it was absolutely delicious! Creamy with the taste of the leeks being perfect. I added a little hot sauce and swirled it around and loved the tangy flavor it created. To be so excited over a bowl of soup to some might seem odd, but for me it was so much more. From the quaint room where we were sitting with its rich dark furniture and cozy atmosphere to the Christmas lights twinkling, and people engaged in conversations and poof I was imagining being in a Pub in Ireland where I could ask the Bartender to pull me a pint! A moment becomes a memory when you feel it in your heart and I will always remember the taste of my Soup at Connolly's that cold December Day!
My favorite Irish Cookbook is pictured below.....Here is their recipe for Potato Leek Soup..........My special tweek to their recipe is to add a shake or two of Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. It's a little jar of magic that combines onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne pepper, parsley,basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary,cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel,tomato granules, lemon juice powder and oil of lemon. I use this flavorful blend in so many soups, salads and always that special boost in a Bloody Mary!
4 tablespoons lightly salted butter
1 onion chopped
2 Leeks sliced
2 potatoes cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1/2 cup light cream optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the prepared vegetables and saute gently for 2-3 minutes, until soft but not brown. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend the soup in the saucepan using a handheld immersion blender if you have one. Alternatively pour into a blender or food processor, process until smooth, and return to the rinsed out saucepan.
Reheat the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper .Ladle into warm bowls and serve swirled with sour cream, if using and garnished with the chives. * I would omit the salt if using the 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe's.
Enjoy and maybe find some Irish music on Pandora and create that Irish Pub atmosphere right at home.
Welcome to Britalia Way! Thanks for stopping by. Please join me as I share with you a series about food, people and experiences that are special to me. English and Italian traditions are so enticing and were the inspiration for creating Britalia Way!
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