The Memory behind the Smile...
Wow....What a Year we've all had to Face and at the same time try and be strong and carry on as usual with a smile! Needless to say my blog went on a back burner and now I'm picking up where I left off to share conversations and my fun experiences with you.
My escape when I'm nervous is to think back to my childhood memories which always bring a smile to my face. I grew up in a lovely village East Williston on Long Island and loved walking to my favorite store called Smiles. Yes...Just the name expresses the delight that I had when shopping there. It was a Five and Ten Cent Store (giving away my age LOL) that had all the great trinkets that kids loved to buy with their allowance. From a yoyo to a puzzle to little gadgets that by todays standards would be outdated, vintage, classic you get the picture. We were always happy to be there , happy when we left and looked forward to coming back. Wow package that feeling and market it today and you'd be set for life!
While in England last October we spent several days in a village called Cirencester. A place that at every glance reminded me of my childhood. Directly across the street from where we stayed was a store called Surprises! Immediately upon seeing the sign I felt this warm feeling in my heart and I was back in time shopping at Smiles.
This lovely store with all of its Surprises as the name implies had something for everyone that walks in. As I met the shopkeeper I shared my enthusiasm and he was very kind and spent time telling us about its beginnings and other stores in the area. Truly a lovely town that was considered a Market town and quite big back in the day. Both in England and Italy you see stores that just sell one item. In England its the Oxford Brush store only selling brushes, Walkers Stoves, and in Italy I love the Coffee pot stores only pots. Reminiscent of years ago the Butcher, the Baker, the candlestick maker.... ok I'll stop LOL.
On our way to Cirencester we stopped at Windsor and enjoyed seeing the Castle and shot some footage of Guard Band. It was really quite funny as they almost knocked me over as I was standing too close. I will upload the video below for you to see. It really was funny! We then moved on to Cirencester and spent a few days and took day trips to the neighboring villages Bibury, Burford, Stow on the Wold and of course back to the Venice of England Bourton on the Water. We spent our last two nights in Bourton on the Water and felt at home as we had stayed here five years ago. It is a relaxing town that is compared to Venice, Italy with its many waterways. They also have lovely walking paths where each scene is a picture I would love to paint.
These memories are always what brings a smile to my face. From the beauty of the landscape, to a taste from a favorite food, sharing conversations with lovely people along the way, and my favorite happily petting one of the many dogs out strolling with their owners.
Although not as active as we like to be these last few months, we feel Blessed to have these wonderful memories to recall and look forward to many more happy travels.
Once again I must start my story with a memory of our rental car saga.... On the way back from Montisi to Rome we exited the Autostrade and inserted our ticket with the money and received our change. Great no problem.....and we waited for the gate to open so we could exit... but it didn't! OMG not another rental story but yes this was so funny I wish I had it on video. We pushed the call button and explained and a voice came back and said insert the ticket and Rocky said we did and already got our change. We waited and the voice came back and said with a deeper voice insert the ticket... and we repeated our reply. Well..... a few minutes passed and the voice was back and screamed insert the ticket and both Rocky and I screamed we don't have a ticket and then silence. Next a bell goes off and a ticket spits out of the machine charging us for the whole road as if we had lost our ticket. To say we were dumbfounded was an understatement and then once again went hysterical laughing as you cant make up these tales! After sitting for another five minutes as we refused to pay again...we wondered what would become of this situation. As you could imagine traffic was building up and I even got out and was waving to people to back up. A woman behind us from Finland even tried to help but she didn't speak Italian either. Well finally the gate went up and off we went and later explained to Hertz what had happened when we turned in the car. We were so over the rental car and we had plenty of time before our next rental car in two weeks when we returned to England.
Now back in Rome after ditching the car (really over it by now) checked into our hotel. We were meeting my Cousin Debbie and her husband Bill that evening for dinner. They were on a tour of Italy and had a free night so I arranged to stay at the same hotel to make it easier to meet up. It was a fun time and one that we will always remember sharing an evening in Rome and stories of our travel adventures!
The next day started out cloudy and we went to Trevi Fountain. We had missed it last trip as it was under construction. Our original plan was to visit Tivoli Gardens but decided against it with the weather forecast. Trevi Fountain is one of those places you have to experience to appreciate it. There is magic in the air with so many throwing in coins with the delight of their wishes coming true. Its funny how a movie and idea has prevailed and never gone out of style. It was there we bought our first selfie stick as we were tired of cutting off our heads or bothering others to take pictures although we still did that too! I have to admit it takes some getting used to and no wonder some places say no to them as it's easy to hit people along the way.
We were rain-free till we arrived at the Spanish Steps and then it made its appearance! We were prepared ...I even had a poncho for Rocky that was all over the place in the wind. It also doesn't photograph well! LOL ;)
We took in the situation and decided to jump in a cab and head to Harry's Bar for a cocktail and people watch. We ended up inside to escape the damp weather as well as the cigarette smokers. I will not get started on my smoking rants but I was truly amazed how many people still smoke like mad. In comparison we have much fewer smokers here and far more non smoking areas. They say you cant smoke in a restaurant but outdoors the air quality is horrible and you cant taste your food.... OK I will stop and not offend anyone. We met and talked with several people and had a lovely afternoon.
We then went for a walk as it stopped raining and shopped some before returning to the Hotel. Before heading to the train station the next morning we went down for a light breakfast and we met two lovely ladies from Connecticut. Lisa and Betty were on their way home and we heard about their fun time on tour and I shared the tow truck story and we laughed all over again.
We next went to the train station and caught the Frecciarosa high speed to Naples and then on to the Water taxi to Sorrento. In Naples we went back for a slice of pizza at the cafe we stopped at five years ago. We were so surprised to see our same waiter and he remembered us immediately....makes you feel special ! Will continue tomorrow with stories and pictures of Sorrento!
Getting in Trouble.....Italian Style!
These pretty steps are where this story begins...a charming town close to Montisi called Pienza. Let me begin by explaining that our trip to Italy and England was to capture the unexpected and go with the flow connecting to the locals and feeling a part of these picturesque towns we were visiting.
Ok.... now picture after a lovely afternoon of shopping and meeting some beautiful people in Pienza and literally smelling the roses in the gardens along the way ..... yes at the next turn.... trouble awaited us upon returning to our rental car! As we were leisurely walking and remarking what a perfect afternoon it was we looked and saw our rental car on a tow truck! Oh no we both said in unison and looked at each other and both started running..... Please stop that's our car....Help!
When I say this was a comedy of sorts....it truly was hilarious as the locals had gathered outside as several tow trucks were lined up towing not only our car but three others. It seems we all parked in a bus stop zone. Rocky said you talk to the Police Officer while I talk to the tow truck driver and lets work fast as we thought they were going to pull away any minute.
I approached the Police Officer who wasn't too happy and explained I'm sorry in English and didn't speak Italian and could he please release our car! He looked at me and said No Madam! Now you have to know me to understand that I immediately started to smile and said.. Really! ( with a surprised look on my face) Then I realized he didn't speak much English. Once again I said I'm sorry and started making hand motions ..I was confused as what to do and started asking anyone if they spoke English. By now Rocky looked over and was throwing up his arms like how was I making out and at that moment I burst out laughing and the police officer was staring at me like are you kidding me and I was thinking the same. So next I took out my wallet and asked him in Italian' Quanto Costa ? Now the Bus driver appears and says Madam you cant pay the Police Officer and I'm explaining I'm not trying to pay the police officer I just want the car. When I say this was hysterical it truly was.
Next scene the bus driver talks to the police officer and then he says OK Madam and tells the tow truck worker to release the car. In the meantime I walk over to Rocky to tell him were OK they're releasing the car and he says that's not our car... I could only again reply... Really.... (with the same look) I cant make this up there were two gray SUV's and I thought the one I pointed to was ours ...after all I was only in it once and they were both Gray and so similar! When I went to tell the Police officer my mistake he was furious and ripped up the ticket and muttered something in Italian. I then spoke to the bus driver again who did speak some English and we were able to get it under control and get the car back. Not cheaply I might add it cost us 120 Euros to get it off the truck and then 60 Euros to be paid at the post office the next day as the parking ticket.
I will close by saying although it was costly it was really very very funny ...and as I hoped we did connect to the locals and will never forget our experience in Pienza and the Police Officer that afternoon
We started our two week Italian adventure with a flight from Gatwick London to Rome. After renting a car and taking the Autostrade (highway) we headed for our absolute favorite place..... Montisi! We had visited Montisi five years ago and vowed to come back and enjoy this quaint village with breath taking views. This is where I realized that my eyes saw sights that changed my heart and mind forever! ;) We were staying at La Romita .... a beautiful bed and breakfast run by Alberto and his lovely wife Giovanna. A beautiful room with a balcony, view and lovely furniture was just the beginning. Our room was upstairs with two other rooms and in addition they had two sitting areas that we enjoyed one afternoon and one evening after dinner. Alberto and Giovanna were the perfect hosts and made us feel like family. When we arrived we learned they had kept their trattoria open so we could enjoy a late supper. The first bite of my zucchini salad with fresh tomatoes (the best I ever tasted )with a simple dressing of Alberto's olive oil was tremendous! We followed it with some Tagtiatelle with tomato sauce, so delicious as well. Off we went for a moonlight walk and explore this village and its charm.
On another night I had asked Addita (know I spelled her name wrong...sorry) if they had any soup as the temperature was getting chilly...she said unfortunately no. I said no worries and thought Id order some hot coffee or something when back she came and said Giovanna was making me some soup. That evening we went to their trattoria across the walkway and I enjoyed the soup made with chick peas and greens and fresh tomatoes in the broth. It was so delicious and I felt so special she had cooked it for me in her kitchen and brought it over. Thanks again Giovanna!
Montisi is part of Montalcino and close to the Province of Siena. It is comprised of four contradas (neighborhoods). Little English is spoken here but communication is not hard with the lovely people so genuine and wanting to share with you their simple life and culture. This is a destination when your agenda like mine is to connect with the locals and experience their tastes, talents and simply their life style that is filled with pride and tradition. Italians speak in metaphors that make a simple conversation so descriptive with depth and meaning. One night we ate at a lovely restaurant in the village called Ristorante Ritorno di Fiamma and met the owner Marilena. She writes on her menu that "cooking is my way of giving, eating is a way to love" and also writes "During life we meet lots of masks and just a few faces". Marilena was a beautiful host and we talked face to face as she said. I tasted her gifts of food and yes felt the love in her delicious recipes and beautiful presentation. After dinner we met up with Pia and Klaus from Vienna also staying at La Romita for drinks. It was fun getting to know them and share our stories together. Hopefully some day we will meet again perhaps here in Florida or Vienna!
In addition to La Romita, Alberto has an olive oil business. He showed us where he presses the olives and how his family began many years ago. He also showed us his Mother and Fathers apartment from years ago and I will forever keep the images in my mind. The Fireplace in the Kitchen with the copper pot and old stove and big table and I could go on were a step back in time. Kept pristine, I was envisioning myself shopping at the local market and then coming back and start cooking in this magical space. For a helpless romantic like me... my mind, body and soul were on overload!! LOL!
It was such a treat taking another art class as I did five years ago with Elizabeth Cochrane. We did an outdoor scene on location overlooking the subject doorway pictured above in the photos. She is a fabulous teacher with such patience for beginners like myself. We set up the easels and sketched first then did the water colors. It was an amazing experience and I'm holding the picture above with Giovanna. Im laughing at the picture of me with Elizabeth ...live painting... as I had to tie my scarf around my sweater so I didn't get paint all over me and now looking at this picture ....saying OMG so funny! Elizabeth you look fabulous! ;) From long walks to talking with locals, trips to neighboring villages ( next post) we relaxed and took in the beauty of Montisi. A special thanks to Alberto, Giovanna, their son and daughter in law Kathy(sorry for my spelling and Addita, at La Romita.
Our visit this year will hold a special place in our hearts. We were touched once again by the kindness and true genuine spirit of the lovely people of this village!
Our Holiday began with our flight from Orlando to Gatwick Airport London. We flew British Airways and had a great flight. We booked Premium economy and enjoyed the extra leg room and larger seats as well as the foot rest.... well worth the price on longer trips. We were greeted by a great crew and given a glass of champagne and then hot towels to freshen our hands. So nice to be pampered! We enjoyed a lovely dinner and then relaxed and before you knew it they were back offering a light breakfast before landing. It's so funny as you certainly don't work up an appetite on a plane but we tried all the goodies. LOL!
We arrived at 7:00 am and going thru Customs was quick easy and organized. We were staying at the Hilton at the airport, as we had an early morning flight to Rome the next day. After dropping our luggage we caught a cab and off we went to Hever Castle.
As the English would say the weather was "brilliant" for a day to visit the Castle and the Gardens. It was sunny and cool about 65-70 degrees or 18-21 degrees Celsius. This really was great to keep us awake!
We enjoyed the gardens first and we were actually amazed we made it thru the maze! ;) They had a beautiful Italian Garden as well as a rose Garden, herb and topiary. Walking thru we met a lovely couple Norma and Brian. They gave us some history of the Castle and we shared our love for all the roses... I explained to them how hard it is to grow roses in Florida with the heat. I have some knockout roses that do ok but the climbing beautiful ones there at the Castle we cant grow. It was lovely talking with them and listening to their accent and enthusiasm to visiting the many castles and gardens in England. We took a lovely picture and then walking thru another garden I came upon a lovely bride and groom. We wished them luck and of course snapped a picture and off we went to tour the Castle.
At the front door they had a woman dressed in costume... the picture is above. It always adds to the fun seeing the clothing and such. The Castle is actually small but very charming. It has a double Moat surrounding it. This was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn the second wife of King Henry V111. I'm challenged trying to figure how to type Henry the 8th! We enjoyed the tour and its history and looking at all the beautiful paintings. The woodwork and staircases were true works of art. The workmanship and details amazing. They even recreated a bed not actually Anne's bed but similar to give people an idea rather than have an empty rooms. Its amazing how times and styles have changed and yet Europe marvels with the style and culture of the past. You have to remember this castle was a country home built in the 13th century and Anne Boelyn spent her childhood here. Of course it has been updated somewhat but you still walk up and down narrow staircases and by the end of the afternoon I was exhausted and needed a cup of coffee to keep me going. We visited the gift shop and then on to the restaurant for a cappuccino for energy!
It was a beautiful day and certainly a Grand place to start our Holiday! As a helpless Romantic I could envision being in the garden sipping a Cool Vodka and Tonic and perhaps penning some Poetry! Aww yes enjoying the Life of a Royal!
I will continue the saga tomorrow as we fly to Italy for two glorious weeks.
Talk to you soon ...Cheerio
After taking quite a long hiatus from blogging..... I'm back and excited to share what I've been up to since my last post in January. It has been a great year with projects around the house, new hobbies, lots of cooking and entertaining and most recently our European Holiday! If this is your first visit to my blog... Britalia Way was inspired by my family background being English and my Husbands background being Italian. Thus Britalia Way began back in 2013.
In May of this year we decided we would return to both England and Italy for a holiday. I love the fall and our last trip back in 2014 was amazing so quickly we penciled in dates and began planning. We don't tour in groups rather go it alone renting cars, taking trains, water taxi's and just exploring at our own pace.
Our theme for this Holiday was Castles, Crowns and Gardens! On our last visit we saw all the important tourist attractions and this time I wanted relaxation,beauty and connecting to the people of these beautiful Countries.
I thought Id give you an overview of what we did for our three weeks and then each day share some stories and pictures of each delightful place we visited.
We began our journey by flying from Orlando airport to Gatwick in England. We spent a lovely day at Hever Castle and then had an early flight to Rome the next day. We arrived in Rome to a beautiful day and rented a car to travel to Montisi for three days. We love this village which is in Tuscany a part of Montalcino . The views are breath taking and the people so friendly. After three days which included a visit to local towns and Pienza we headed back to Rome.
There we were meeting my Cousin Debbie and her Husband Bill for dinner. They were part of a tour and we were able to book the same hotel for one night to meet up and visit. We then spent two days in Rome before heading by high speed train to Naples.
In Naples we transferred to a water taxi and continued on to Sorrento. We spent three days there including a visit to Capri and then went back to Naples and took the high speed train to Florence. We spent five glorious days in Florence with a visit to Parma and then on to two beautiful days in Venice with a visit to Burano.
We bid Venice goodbye and flew back to Gatwick for a week visiting the Cotswold region. These towns are like storybook towns and the people are so much fun.
It was a beautiful Holiday and I will enjoy sharing so many memorable stories and pictures! I always enjoy chance meetings and say the language that is spoken is the one felt in the heart that you return with. I have many heartfelt people to introduce.
Talk to you soon
From Antiquing in Arcadia to a Car Auction in Kissimee kept my husband and I busy this past weekend. We decided for the New Year to take more day trips when possible and this was our first excursion. The weather was perfect to enjoy these outdoor activities so off we went to explore Arcadia first and see what they had to offer. Over the years we heard so many people talk of the great antique stores and its quaint town. Driving over was very relaxing with the trip being about 100 miles from our home. We arrived and headed straight to Oak Street....the hub of the antique shopping. It is an old town and the stores reflect the older architecture through out. I love antiquing as you look back to many memories and seeing things we all used that now have been replaced with something automatic and jazzy! The flashbacks are fun and always end in laughs all around. A good way to meet people and strike up conversation something that few people do now, rather today texting as communication. Oh well I cant complain I do enough talking for three people!!! ;)
Below are some pictures and my prize purchases for the day were two jadeite glass bowls. I've started a collection and together with some new ones bought from Hobby Lobby, I'm loving the colorful touch.
Meeting the owner Michelle of Myshelly's Kitchen was special and she told us all about the town. Sharing conversations with owners makes you feel connected on your next visit. We had a delicious bowl of homemade New England Clam Chowder soup and BLT's on Rye Toast. Both were delicious and served on lovely China. We sat by a fireplace and truly enjoyed the special touches that Michele has created at her restaurant. She then treated us to homemade cheesecake for dessert that I forgot to take of picture of. It looked so good we just dived in to taste! She told us of the Tearoom in town that we will have to visit next time.
We had a lovely day and then on the way home stopped to try our hand at gambling at the Casino on the Indian Reservation in Okeechobee. Although we didn't win we liked seeing the excitement of all those playing at the slot machines and gambling tables. I prefer shopping to Gambling and when I lay down some money come home with a treasure I will enjoy! :)
I will share pictures and stories of the Mechum Car Auction next post. Have a wonderful Friday.....Denise
This morning as I went to pour my coffee I glanced out the window to check the weather and the sky was absolutely beautiful! Shades of pink and blue as if painted from an artists palette. I grabbed my phone to run outside and get a picture and was thrilled to catch the sun rising!
What a beautiful way to start the day and I took a few moments to admire this Glorious site!
After a few minutes I came inside and was so excited by the colors of the sky I prepared a colorful omelette for breakfast. The smell of the green peppers and onion was delicious. I then added some Brushetta I had made and viola the colors jumped from the pan. Both the visual and flavor were so good!
Today I am working on some artwork for a project I started some time ago. I'm making Recipe booklets with memorable stories and some handmade drawings.
The hardest part to creating the booklets is giving the proper measurements. I measure many spices and ingredients with my eyes and the palm of my hand. It certainly has been fun recreating my recipes....although a few extra pounds came on last year as well.! LOL
Seeing the colors of the beautiful Sunrise this morning sparked my creativity to sketch. Wishing everyone a beautiful Day!
Happy New Year!
A Toast to 2019, wishing everyone Happiness, Health and
Creativity for this New Year! As with every beginning comes the excitement of new ideas and expectations to explore. Resolutions are written and change begins! For me to be the change that I wish to see in the World ....My resolutions this year must be to smile more, laugh more, create new dishes and enjoy lively conversations!
I got this covered!! ;)
Cooking up Memories this Christmas...
It's been a Wonderful Holiday Season at our house and I'm so thankful to be blessed with my wonderful Husband Rocco and Daughter Stephanie and son Stephen who always make it so special!
We spend our time together cooking, playing some board games (the best) watching movies and this Year even singing with a karaoke microphone I gave to my husband. Its amazing how much talent is in this family! ;)
I love watching Hallmark at Christmas and truly loved a phrase from one of the specials this year....."Traditions are stories that families write together."
Our family wrote a new chapter to our story this year.....
The memory of our Old Spice Christmas Eve! We celebrate Christmas Eve Italian style with the feast of the seven fish! This year my son Stephen suggested he make some remoulade sauce for our Tuna Polpette (meatballs) and told us of his secret ingredient... Old Spice! We all heard him but knew he meant Old Bay Seasoning. It was so funny because then we all kept referring to how delicious the remoulade was with the Old Spice. To some it wouldn't have been spoken twice but to our family of foodies it was hysterical! This year our Christmas Eve feast included appetizers of Baked Clams, Mussels Marinara, and Fish Dip with crackers. Then Spaghetti with Shrimp & Scallops followed with Tuna Polpette and Fresh Codfish grilled with lemon butter. A fresh green salad completed the meal. Of course dessert was homemade cookies.
A delicious meal enjoyed with the love and traditions that have been shared by both sides of our family. Christmas Eve was a wonderful day with singing our favorite carols at Church and then driving around to see the lights and then home to feast. A very special time and for us this Year full of delicious old spice! LOL!
Wow....It's that time of Year again when Merry making is upon us! I'm back to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas with Health, Happiness and New Hobbies for the coming Year! This has been an exciting Year at our house, as all my projects have finally been completed and now the the pleasure of enjoying them and making memories with Family and good friends has begun! Below are some pictures of the pool completed and the walkway around the yard and my new gardens filling up with flowers. Living in Florida gives us the opportunity to eat outdoors all year and with that thought we had a lovely table and side piece made for our Lanai. Christmas is all around the house and I've enjoyed decorating the mantel with some old, new and treasured family heirlooms. I love the sparkle and glitter as they shine with the twinkling lights and the magical feeling in my Heart that even our loved ones in Heaven are smiling down.
From Our Family to yours Merry Merry Christmas!
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.
Sharing my footprint in NYC...
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
The Scent of Spring......
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
Welcoming the New Year.....
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.
B. Matthews and my BLT Memory!
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
The Lazy Days of Summer.......
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.
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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