Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yard Sale! for a cause

Its a serious thing that just happened recently in my hometown. Of all places, I would never have expected something as big as this (711 dead and hundreds still missing). As shocked as I am, I'm glad my family is safe. However many have lost their homes and families. Real help is needed now. This online Yard Sale will hopefully help raise funds fast. I'm glad I have several handmade and vintage items I kept for my etsy (which I stopped because I wanted to focus more on my baby) available for this cause.

Also, for anyone needing design services - you can contact me and part of that fee will go to this cause as well. For more information and ways to help view this page: http://www.rmp-nmr.org/index.php/help-northern-mindanao.asp updates available for all relief work efforts HERE.

You can help also by passing on this information through facebook or tweeting this link: http://t.co/u9OA5ct #HelpNorthernMindanao

Thank you..

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chance Encounters: 7

Some time ago on a walk around Tolentino we saw this little shop with stacks of this really dense kind of giant donut/bagel. A woman behind the counter was talking to this old woman in a dialect that was incomprehensible (a sort of italian with a lot of djshhh shha shhe - can't really explain it throught text). But anyway, she had us try this thing called Pizze di Natale and true enough it was dense with lots of walnuts, figs, raisins and a thick dough mixed with some liqoure. A local treat, a very delectable one.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Black and White Truffles

Some weeks ago we went out looking for a Sagra dei Funghi (Mushroom Festival. ehem) and found a Sagra del Tartufo instead. Not bad considering that Truffles are such gems (worth gold especially the white ones), a flavor you cannot mistake and a taste so divine. Amandola is the right spot. Set high up beside the Sybilline Mountains, you can tell with its lush greenery that many treaures are bound to be discovered and not just in the shape of Tartufi but also of.... cheese. Mozarella Buffala. The creamiest white blob in the whole world.

In little tables, truffle hunters display their finds. Maybe a small basket of black ones and a handful of white ones and a weighing scale - perhaps the most high tech device they carry (gotta count all those teeny milligrams). Occasionally the dog sniffer meister sits under, the real hunter BTW. Of couse we could just watch and sniff.

Saw the first of the Presepe-s (nativity scene) which is originally a tradition from Naples. A nice preview of what is to come. weeehihi

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Painted Portraits

I recently had the opportunity to photograph someone's collection of paintings. There were sooo many and mostly big (showing just a few here). I think the time and technique it takes to create just one of these is.. Mastery. But then I'm just not the kind of artist who does (or can do) this sort of thing. I find myself a bit of a raggedy pauper standing beside such work with my mouth open, awed. Anyone whos a bit contemporary or should I say "as of 2011 soon-to-be 2012" would have seen or cared very little about paintings like these or classic art in general. Its not just "dated", its also hidden away in someone else's collection, or covered behind the walls of a museum, rarely to be seen in public (because who goes to musuems anymore anyway), fading away in silence only to be remembered in books and forgettable pieces of paper. Where do they exist in realms such as the internet for example? I'm here (there) bearing witness to figures frozen in frames, a different time and space. Once they sat and looked and someone looked back and painted.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Da Maria Trattoria Ponterosso

I never imagined a fish restaurant to look like a witches' tea room. Everything from the wall hangings to the chandeliers was either symbolic mystic or frou frou, a combination realized completely here in Maria's Trattoria. Her food exists on a different plane entirely (NOT frou frou), simple yet divine rustic cooking. Fresh fish and some local fare like a polenta fritata with clam meat and salad greens with freshly made olive oil. How did her trattoria land in the lists of must-visit trattoria's in Italy (surely its not the interior design)? Its in the fine selection of the best and freshest ingredients. No need to embellish something when its already so good no? 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chance Encounters: 6

She went out of the kitchen to see the baby (and made him smile!), she - the chef, the queen of Da Maria Trattoria Ponterosso, was glad to have her photo taken but was worried about her hair. She was so sweet and looking over her kitchen, you can tell this is her life's work (also the restaurant is.. what can I say - esoteric). More on that later.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

winter dress-up

since I gave birth, I haven't really bothered to dress-up as much as I used to. so one time before going out for a walk I thought, hey why not use that thrifted shrug top and those camper heels Fra got you for your birthday? so yeah. nothing major here, just feels nice. under I have a warm wooly dress with wooly buttons in the middle (sweee) and leggings, grey socks, red/orange neck warmer. collage-smage.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Piemonte: Pian Muné & Monviso

With the lovely Francesca at Pian Muné, Celtic sacrificial spot up the mountains of Piemonte. Holes on rocks correspond to star formations or constellations. During that special moment when the stars are aligned exactly the way they are drawn on the rocks, the Celts would offer an animal as sacrifice to the gods. Blood would be poured onto the the rocks and would fill these holes and the lines connecting the "dots". As morbid as that may sound, there is a very powerful and peaceful feeling in this land.

I'm very happy to have found these photos from our trip last year. Also very happy to have met Francesca, Fra's brilliant ex-girlfriend, who was so generous to host us in this part of Italy, her home. After all that I've seen, its become impossible to stereotype Italy - whatever that is or what it means. Its much too complex and diverse - north and south are like two ends of the world. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baa-Baad Art

At the beginning of Fall, the first cold winds and the sniffles it brought with it, I felt a saddish feeling. This is only my 2nd winter upcoming and the 1st one was charming (as all first times) and filled with many travels. It was also grey and cold and defined by this nostalgia only someone away from home can truly understand. It didn't dawn on me upon arrival to Italy that I would make it my new home. I always felt that nothing was ever set in stone and if it was, I would insist and life would resume its flux. I'm guessing now is a time for something else, a new kind of period to be defined later when I can look back at it and reflect.

I thought I'd paint again and since its been a while since I last used a brush, I got several small canvas panels and set out to paint all at once - throwing all caution and intention, just painting, getting back that rhythm, dirtying the hands. Funny how I ended up making some kind of slogan. After completing everything in 2 days and looking at what I've accomplished, I see that 1.) It Sucks and 2.) I needed to let that out. I tried to use little of my brain while working but ended up conversing with my work instead. So yes, these panels are but a transcript of that conversation.

I'm glad I did this. Now on to the next project.

Chance Encounters: 5

Guess what dad brought for dinner? Hitchhikers! Suprise feast 2 nights ago when Fra came home bringing 2 guests from the other side of the galaxy. One from Norway and the other from Scotland, northerners wandering near the WW2 cemetery in the cold dark, looking to find the best spot to fold out their sleeping bags and start a fire. hmmm.. in humid Ancona - alrighty then! Anyway, Fra driving on his way home saw these figures in the dark and thought - hey, why not bring them over for dinner? It turned out to be an interesting night. Philosophy, religion, bogs, and elks were among the topics covered. Definitely a chance encounter. AND a reason to travel up north.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2 years

Who wouldve thought everything could change in such a short time. well it did and what a wild ride that was. Heres to my two loves and to the beginnings ahead of us. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chance Encounters: 4

Glass maker at the Amandola white truffles festival. Very intense with his work.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chance Encounters: 3

Walking round Giardini Diaz we saw this man picking up heaps of leaves from the side of the road (and there were HEAPS). Nobody else was doing this, surely haven't seen anyone doing this (by hand) and all the other older men were playing Bocce on the other side of the park. We had a short conversation. He said there are no jobs, yes, but nobody cares to work anymore anyway. He said he felt deeply sad about this.

Chance Encounters: 2

We stopped by at La Tazza Ladra (The Cup Thief) for a caffè though I don't really drink coffee (shameful, I know, in the land of espresso) so I usually get cappuccino con l'orzo (roasted barley "cappuccino"). Despite this the bar guy made it a work of art - with a drizzle of chocolate. Its not like I ordered something special. This is pretty normal fare, but this one, this was really nice. No added cost, no tourist fee either, just plain goodness. Thanks for this man.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall into Fall

It was a good day. Took a walk outside with the little one and Fra, enjoying the best moments of this season. Also got to wear this poncho hand-me-down from a neighbor -that plus Fra's old pair of green jeans and my brown boots, well.. It just felt so easy and relaxed and.. Scarborough Fair

If your getting into the mood as well, here's a wallpaper I made with the photos I took today. Free to download! Enjoy :)

Chance Encounters: 1

First of this series. Saw this girl walking down the steps on our way to the grocery. She was reading a book, thought she looked spunky so I asked if I could take a picture. :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Antiquariato Finds

That good ol' feeling... Always get a rush out of vintage. :) Here, just some of the most inspired from the big Antiquariato (used-goods fest) in Ancona. Just look at those colors, the illustrations - the thought they put into it - WILD!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Evoluzione Spirituali with Patricia Nicholls

Poster design with my favorite of her paintings
A recent show by a dear friend Patricia features her work from over 10 years ago. These were inspired by the design of the ancient ruins in Malta and its many spirals and reveals parts of her own spiritual awakening. Now she is a practicing Vedic astrologer and yogi. I wonder how this must mean to her to have these fragments from that period in her life come back together in this show. She is one of the few good friends I have made here in Italy and one of those who have helped me adapt and embrace this new life I'm leading now. An expat herself, born and raised in the US, shes had her own share of adventures and misadventures - all of which have colored her life and made her the awesomeness that she is today. I got excited when she asked me if I could design her invites and even happier to celebrate this show and the new opportunities opening up for her.

Her husband Roberto, friend of Fra from whom I met Pat, also an artist, ex-professor, and photographer (and more recently organic farmer) just had his birthday recently. Tanti Auguri!! may you have bountiful harvests for many years! :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Geek Fall/Winter Fashion (Homeless Cat Series)

OR ideas for what to wear when you can't really afford or care to buy new stuff. The keyword is UPCYCLE. Last year's pieces involved a lot of thrifted and gifted and adopted (from my dear husband) stuff. I'm not saying people should dress like me, I'm not even sure thats OK or even visually appealing as I tend to go on the technicolor side (maybe tag this post Psychidelic Geek?) and homeless (I don't give a crap) style. The good thing about reusing and getting creative with old stuff is that you can authentically look retro vintage without having to buy new sweatshop-made vintage look-alikes! The only real investments I made involved shoes. A good walking/running pair and bootstrap bill's good ole boots. Hey wait, I wrote something about doing the boogaloo last year. Anyway, whats your fall/winter style?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Semplicemente Famiglia (Simply Family)

Its not everyday we meet big families especially in this age when its more practical and convenient to be childless (as is the case for many Italians), or have just one child and work - OR stay single for a veerry long time and live with your parents while at it. Gone are the days of the stay-at-home mama hen, cooking something rustic and special for her army of children. Or perhaps not? In Cagliari, Sardegna we meet up with a mom of 5 children. During our short stay she talks to us about raising her kids, what its like and some of the challenges of trying to be more self-sustaining.

View the video here:

To learn more about their association Semplicemente Famiglia, look into their website here:

It was such a pleasure meeting Daniela and her family.. As a new mom, meeting her was like seeing a beacon of hope - that I wasn't alone and that being bestowed the responsibility of a parent may be scary yet priceless. I'm so thankful for her and her family's openess and generosity. Hope to see them again when we come back ;)