Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season enjoying family and friends! I will be back in Florence next week!

Monday, December 19, 2011

La Dolce Vita - Michelangelo my Cat

Yes, that's right, my cat makes for one Dolce Vita.  Unless you own a cat, you may not understand why I would say that he enriches my life, but its so very true that he does. Now I know some of you are not 'cat people' (whatever that means) but there really is something to be said about having a pet. I love animals of all kinds, I don't really understand that whole debate over cats and dogs, personally I love them both and can't wait until I can have a dog too. The thing is, they are different animals and it seems like those that say they don't like cats expect them to be like dogs, but that's like saying you expect men to be like women. Two different species entirely. The Truth about Cats and Dogs anyone?

I grew up with dogs. My C.J and Bear were truly my two best friends, they made me happy when I was sad they were always ready to play and our golden retriever actually unlocked the back door to let me in once when my big brother tried to lock me out. True story, I'll never forget it, she jumped up and slide the latch down with her paw. Such a smart dog!

I have always had animals in my life and cannot imagine life without them. Michelangelo came along a little over 5 years ago (he was so tiny he could fit in the palm of my hand) and he has truly enriched our lives everyday since.  He too knows when I'm sad or sick and comes to comfort me, he cuddles up on the couch with me when its cold outside and keeps me warm, he faithfully sleeps at my feet every night and greets me with a meow and then throws himself on the floor with his belly in the air waiting for a tummy rub every time I come home.  I know he will always be there and he doesn't care if I didn't put make-up on or if I gained a little weight. I am not exaggerating when I say that everyone I know who has ever met my Michelangelo falls in love with him.  Even my father who was always an openly anti-cat person.  When I brought Michelangelo home to California for a visit a few years ago, by the end of the trip my Dad was actually trying to convince me to leave him there with him! No way! He loved his company so much that now, my dad has a cat of his own.  Michelangelo loves when people come over and will come and say hello and maybe even crawl into your lap for a little cuddle.

And aside from just being sweet and cuddly,  did you know that it is scientifically proven that cats improve our health?  They reduce stress and cholesterol as well as our risk of heart attack. Don't believe me?  I didn't make it up, check out this article that will give you all the details.  Need more convincing? Do a simple Google search on the health benefits of owning a cat.

So there it is, my Dolce Vita entry for this week. Michelangelo my cat truly enriches not just my life but Luigi's too. (Trust me he's just as smitten as I am, don't let the macho exterior fool you!)

For stories about La Dolce Vita click here. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

For One Day

Saturday 17  and Sunday  December 18 from 10:00-19:00 
Vecchio Conventino/ Spazio Sam, Via Giano della Bella 20/1
[a 50 mt da Piazza Tasso]

Head on over and check out the work of local artists in this great space dedicated to being creative! For this weekend only, the artists and artisans will have a show and market. I'll be heading over this afternoon. There is lots of great work to see so don't miss it! Here you can find some photos and a post about last years event.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Art & Clothes

A few days ago as I was walking home I came across a store window that caught my attention.  Anytime I see contemporary art or unusual clothes I am always intrigued.  But in this case I was even more interested by the idea of both in one space. Art and clothes are essentially my two favorite things in life, so what could be better than a boutique with an art studio or an art studio that also shows clothes? Not much for me.   So I went in and introduced myself to Sheila the owner who is from Denmark to find out a little more about her fantastic shop.  From the moment I met her the passion and professionalism for what she does was obvious. She was very welcoming and eager to share her concept with me and show me around the store.  She talked in great detail about each artist and designer and why she chose their work for the store.
Absolutely adore this look!

The name itself is very straightforward, Art & Clothes is exactly that, but it could easily be called Art Clothes as well. As soon as you walk through the door you can sense not only the quality of the work but also the creativity of the designs at the same time. These are not pieces that will be found on every corner and are for those that see fashion as a form of artistic expression not merely something to wear.  These are pieces that are made with a fashion forward confidant woman in mind who wants something unique and even custom made.

Everything is made by hand by local designers or designers who have once lived in Florence.  The space is both a showroom and a ready to wear boutique.  The work of both Anne-Mari Pahkala and Veronica Spadaro are on display to see and feel but can be made to order in as little as 3 fittings.  And what that means is not only the size can be changed but also the color, the length or possibly even a detail or two.

There is also a ready-to-wear line by Paola Pucci who specializes in recycled and re-used materials to create an incredibly sophisticated style which is casual yet glamorous at the same time. 
There is also a unique jewelry collection on display and again there is an obvious artistic flair to each piece.  Some which appear to be miniature sculptures only to find out that they are actually quite wearable and quite extraordinary, but again, always handmade. Local jewelry designer Sabrina Bovani As well as Indian sisters Preetika and Pika who have combined their formal jewelry design education with their Fashion design education to create this beautiful line of bone and marble jewelry called Pretty Stoned.

The work of a local artist Sabrina Bovani working in metal and found objects is also happy to make adjustments or moderations or even custom pieces made to order. The concept is that even though the artists are creating the designs; you as the wearer are able to make it your own unique, one-of-a-kind piece.

And then there is the other half of the store, which becomes a contemporary art gallery and studio. The paintings on the walls compliment the contemporary clothing on display and at the back of the shop there is a painters studio where you can find Raffaello Mastroberardino working on his own paintings or giving private art lessons to students from all over the world.

As Shelia knows there are not many outlets for contemporary artists in the midst of the Renaissance masters of Florence so her idea is to give them a space where they can show their work. She definitely has an eye for talent and quality, as well as a great sense of style. 
If you are in Florence it is definitely worth checking out. You can find the store on Via dell'Agnolo 50/r or head over to their fabebook page and follow the rabbit! 
The mannequin in the window is always wearing a rabbit head so it will be easy to spot!  As Shelia explained she has become quite obsessed with changing the Rabbits clothes, you can see all of her outfits by 'liking' her facebook page.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

La Dolce Vita - You've come a long way baby

Photo courtesy of Happy Deliveries
Yesterday I was feeling rather sorry for myself. For five years now I have been trying to make a living as a jewelry artist with nothing more than a few minimal sales here and there. Nothing that anyone could call a living. I have been hearing a lot of 'no thank you's' lately and sales seem to be at a stand still. So as you can imagine, it left me feeling a bit discouraged.  I wanted sympathy. So after unloading on my very patient husband, I went out with my two best girlfriends and told them all about it. But what I got wasn't sympathy at all but rather a little encouragement mixed with a big reminder of how lucky I am. Not only do I have amazing people in my life that help me put things in perspective but who also remind me of how fortunate I am to actually have the option to pursue my dreams and to have made the choice to leave a job that was making me less then happy. Not everyone gets to do that. I am not being forced to work just to maintain a certain lifestyle. We don't have much, but we have what we need.  So yes, Louie Viutton handbags are out of the question, hell, even H&M handbags are out of the question right now, I am doing something that I love to do every single day. I don't have to commute for 3 hours a day, I don't worry about keeping up with the Jones'.  I get to do what I love and give it all of my time and I am not living my life according to anyone else' standards or ideals. I'm sure there are some who may think this is absurd, but thankfully, I don't have to answer to them  I am happy and I am healthy and I live in a place that revers the arts and allows me to be myself.  And just in case that wasn't enough, I also read this article today posted by the same friend.

For more about La Dolce Vita, click here!

Friday, December 9, 2011

In Your Opinion

photo courtesy of Food Tours
Its almost Christmas and then it will be New Year's eve.  2012 is almost here. I know, hard to believe isn't it?  Especially since that means that the end of the world is coming.  Or is it the end of the world as we know it? Do you feel fine?

Things are definitely changing that's for sure.  While the last 10 years have absolutely changed how we communicate with each other, even more specifically the last 5 years have been incredible in terms of technology and social networking. Now we are dealing with an economy that is enough to scare even those of us who know nothing about the economy. Not to mention an increasing number of natural disasters and melting ice caps.  So I say hey, what's going on?

I really try hard not to be negative and always try to look at the bright side of things. I try to understand the lesson or the reason for everything that happens and to be grateful for that what I do have and not what I don't. But I want to know what others think of the current state of our world.  Why are we so scared? Have we come to expect too much and now we are faced with the possibility that we may longer be able to 'have' everything that we feel like we should?  Life has been moving incredibly fast in recent years, are we afraid it will suddenly slow down and we may have to reexamine how we live and what is really important.

Here in Italy, most people I know were not happy with the Berlusconi administration so there is now a  new leader in his place but from what I hear in giro, no one seems to be happy with his new ideas or policies for trying to fix the ever failing economy of the country. Of course we all have our ideas as to how things should be done, but are we considering all the factors? Do we really understand what it means to fix these difficult problems? Will we EVER be happy? Will it ever be enough?  What do we really want in the end of it all?

I will be the first to admit that I am ignorant when it comes to politics and economics and my reasons for it is simply because I don't understand how it all works and it bores me to death! And if this is all really so bad should we really be wasting our time worrying and complaining about it or try to focus on the things in life that actually bring us joy and happiness? When do we trust that it will all work out and focus on being happy and appreciating life for what it is? Is ignorance really bliss?

I want to know what you think?  How do you feel about it all?  How can we fix it? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Running Late, I'll be there in 15.....

....that's the story of my life. Although I do have half of an excuse. I'm half Italian.  Or maybe more like 75% by now right? (After all I've been living here for almost 11 years.)  The German side of me however, really doesn't agree with this running late business. But I can't help it. I don't know why.  I try and I try but for some reason it just doesn't work.  The Italians are notorious for being late in fact their idea of being on time is at least 15 minutes late. And that's just really how it goes. So don't expect that just because the store hours indicate that they will be there at 15:30 that they actually will be, it's more like 15:30ish.  But that's beside the point. This past weekend, the internet was out in the house and not only is it  amazing how much we depend on it, but how much not having it has put me behind. I was already running about 10 days behind 'schedule' and the to do list keeps getting longer and longer, but then without connection for 5 days, (even though they told me it would only be a few hours) I am now about 15 days behind, but, I suppose in Italian time, I'm right on schedule.  So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm sorry to be boring but I will have something more exciting to tell you soon. Promise.  A presto!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I absolutely love this time of year.  All of the stores begin to decorate their windows for the holiday season and the streets are filled with lights and the people are out and about. Chestnuts and hot chocolate and Christmas markets in the piazzas. I can't get enough, and its not necessarily the holiday itself, its more the spirit and the creativity that comes out and the special winter treats that we only get once a year. Since there are so many wonderful things to see and smell and eat, I don't think that just one post will be enough, so I have decided that from now until the new year, I will make a weekly posting of all the holiday happenings. Here is the first installment. Divertitevi!
Fabulously Festive Window in Piazza Duomo, look carefully you can its reflection in the top left
I Always love the windows at Coin

Ok, so maybe its not exactly holiday theme, but I just can't resist a dog in clothes! And I'd never seen a dog mannequin before either! Brilliant!

The window has a very 1930's feel so I thought it would look really great in black and white
Just gorgeous!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

La Bella Vita - On Tuesday

Click the button for more Dole Vita
Sorry about the late post, but yesterday I was still recovering from a very busy but very fun finesettimana.  Not only did we celebrate our Thanksgiving on Sunday so that more of of our friends who had to work on Thursday could join us, but we also celebrated a very good friends 30th birthday by way a of a surprise party! It was so much fun.  But with all of that fun and food (and maybe a little too much wine) I was out for the count yesterday and busy taking care of all of the things I usually do on the weekends, you know the necessary stuff like cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. But I will never complain because I truly feel like the luckiest person in the world to be surrounded by so many wonderful people and some of the best friends that I've ever had, they truly are my family.  I really don't know what I would do without them. It can be hard, especially around the holidays to be this far from family, but somehow, being in the home of one of my best friends with my other best friend and all of our significant others, felt completely natural.  This is now the 5th year in a row that our host has made such a beautiful turkey and opened her home to us.  For me this is Thanksgiving.
The bird. Yum!
This is view from our Thanksgiving table, the pumpkin pie was made from fresh pumpkins that were grown in this garden
It was wonderful to be able to share one of our American holidays with all the Italians again. Sure some of them needed a little convincing to try some of the not so familiar side dishes like sweet potatoes and desserts like pumpkin pie, but they all loved it! We ate, we drank and we laughed all weekend long and if that isn't life enriching, I don't know what is!
And this is the view from the kitchen window, it was a beautiful afternoon!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are you a creative person in Florence? Join us
As many of you know, over the past few months I have been  working on forming a group here in Florence for artists of all kinds. The intention of the group is to meet other artists and creative people to discuss our work, inspire each other and develop our portfolios.   One of our group members, Birgitte Bronsted of My Sweet Florence, My Sweet Rome and My Sweet Copenhagen had the wonderful idea of creating a facebook page for the group.  I am very excited about this since it will really work as a platform for us to announce events and meetings and also discover some unknown talent.

Below is a description of the  group. We hope you'll join us.

Artists, writers, photographers, designers, bloggers... all kinds of creative people in Florence are welcome to join the group and participate in the network. Once a month we will meet for brunch, lunch, aperitivo or something else. At these meetings members will have the opportunity to meet, chat, exchange experiences and - who knows - maybe create events, exhibitions or other kinds of collaborations. There are absolutely no obligations attached to being a member. You can participate in all events, some events or you can join the group to simply follow us.  

When you join the group it would be great if you would post a few lines about yourself and what you do. Also feel free to come up with ideas for the network, and do share your work with us by posting photos and links.

Monday, November 21, 2011

La Dolce Vita- La Creativita`

For more about La Dolce Vita click here
In collaboration with my new blogging buddy over at Ciao Christy I will now be participating in her Dolce Vita series every Monday on my blog. It's really a wonderful idea that will help me to stop and think about all of the things I am thankful and grateful for. The idea is that each Monday a group of bloggers will write a post about something that enriches our lives by living in Italy or something that enriches our lives in general.  It is easy to get caught up in the daily stresses and rushes of life and that means we tend to take certain things for granted, its a great way to start the week on a positive note and remember how fortunate we truly are.  So thanks Christy for coming up with such a great idea and for inviting me to participate! 

Creativity is a fundamental part of my life. Not just being creative myself but also being surrounded by other creative people and things.  As we know Florence is full of art in all its forms, from the classics to the contemporary to the sculptors to the painters to the fashion designers to the chefs, its all here in this beautiful city. Since quitting my 'day job' in January of this past year, (the best thing I ever did)  I have had the opportunity to get to know Florence in a new way, to remember all of the reasons why I feel in love in the fist place.  For many years I was jaded by an environment that was not my passion nor my calling and caused me to overlook some of the fantastic things that this city has to offer.  Contemporary art has been gaining a lot of speed around here in Florence lately and more and more artists are attempting to get their work in public spaces. La Rinascente, the countries biggest department store chain has made their windows available for exactly that purpose for the weeks surrounding the holidays. 

I was very excited on Saturday night as I was crossing town to find these gorgeous window displays, so of course I had to take some photos! They made me happy for so many reasons. Not only are they fun to look at but they are also giving contemporary art a broader audience.  So I do indeed feel that they enrich my life but instilling joy and giving me inspiration as a contemporary artist and designer myself.  What I love so much about this is the materials that are used, I am noticing that it may be a little hard to tell from these photos but each work is made of recycled materials such as paper, plastic bottles, writing pens, bottle caps and plastic cups.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Oh and I took A LOT of pictures!

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