Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Opera en el Mercado

I came across this video and it made my day. It also made me cry. Sometimes the most beautiful moments in life come to us as small surprises. Here is the description:

Last month at the central market in Valencia, Spain, opera singers disguised as shopkeepers were selling produce at the various stalls.

Suddenly, Verdi's La Traviata starts playing over the loudspeakers and they burst into song. None of the shoppers had a clue what was going on. Sort of like candid camera, but completely charming....ENJOY!



I recently read a wonderful, thought-provoking op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof. In this piece he writes about our intrinsic inclination to give of ourselves to others. Apparently giving lights up the same pleasure receptors in our brain activated by eating or having sex.

I agree with Mr. Kristof about the value of giving. But I’d add another item to the list of benefits reaped from alturism: connection.

My oldest daughter Alessandra recently told me about a shoestring fundraiser her friends organized to help the people of Haiti. They decided to walk the length of Manhattan (15 miles) and sent out emails to people they knew asking for pledges per mile. Alessandra’s friend told her that their walk was unexpectedly beautiful, allowing them to interact and connect with all different kinds of people as they walked through the city that day.

Rallying people to gather and connect for the sake of a greater good is one of the best ways you can take part in your community and connect. You help others, connect with people in the process, and, as Mr. Kristof points out, feel great afterwards.


*photo courtesy of nephos

Coming Home Book Update

ART, our Italian distributors, just wrote us to report the enthusiastic response Coming Home received at the Italian trade show in Milan. People loved the book, despite the fact that it’s written in English. I was so excited to hear that the book resonates across cultures. I take this embrace of the Rosanna brand halfway across the world as a testament to the strength and appeal of the brand.


Coming Home...and Leaving Again

My daughter Alessandra just left to start her last term at Brown. My heart breaks all over again every time she gets on a plane going east. I loved having her home for Winter Break because it encouraged me to experience the world in a new way. Whenever she comes home I connect in different ways, with different people.

Having a college-age child back home is an invigorating experience. College years are a time of growth and exploration. It is a time of constantly going outside of one’s comfort zone. I find when Alessandra is home she brings this energy into my life, too. Over the past month I’ve done a few things that I don’t do in my normal routine— I’ve gone out to a late night movie on a weeknight with Alessandra and a few of her friends. She’s taken me to drinks in a neighborhood I rarely frequent, and introduced new recipes to the family that I wouldn’t think to make.

Writers don’t often discuss the college-age child. It’s all about the toddler, the tween and the teen. And that makes sense; the 20’s are a decade of gaining independence from one’s parents and finding a separate identity. But your relationships with your children don’t have to suffer, even as they begin to make their own ways in the world. I think the key is to accept invitations to peek into their new lives as they become adults. Parent-child relationships change as children grow. It’s often difficult for parents to relearn to negotiate a world in which they don’t have to constantly consider a child’s needs.

This shift is tough, but there are ways to make the transition gracefully. For example:

Always accept an invitation extended by your college-age child. These experiences provide a poignant reminder of what it feels like to be flexible, curious and spontaneous.


Francesca turns 13 with Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, and Friends

Whew! What a party! We just finished celebrating Francesca's 13th birthday. The last girls walked out our front door at 11 am on Sunday after a nearly 24-hour long celebration. Seven girls slept over (though I doubt that anyone actually spent much time sleeping) and dined on chocolate chip birthday breakfast pancakes when they awoke.

Francesca’s guests arrived on Saturday afternoon to participate in 43rd Street Runway based on the hit TV show Project Runway. (We named the party “43rd Street Runway” after the street we live on.) Each girl brought three items of clothes from home to create a runway look.

My older daughter Alessandra was in charge of the judging. She recruited two friends to play Tim Gunn and a guest judge from London named Ling Ling. Alessandra played Heidi Klum. Once everyone had arrived, the judges presented the girls with a “challenge:” to create three distinct runway looks based on the film of their choice. The girls then drew numbers one by one choose 4 additional items from the abundantly stocked 43rd Street Runway Dressing Room. After they chose their new items, the girls split in to groups to create their looks, and walked the runway half an hour later.

The fashion show was hysterical. The girls were very creative and presented some great looks.

I was also very impressed with the judges’ ability to stay in character and channel the haute couture attitude of the fashion world. The girls and the judges alike really “made it work.”

No birthday party at our house would be complete with out a matching table design. I started with Rosanna Dauphine Candlesticks in black to create an edgy fashion look. I arranged the homemade red velvet cupcakes on our matching Rococo Noir Cake Pedestals, and made a surprisingly cool-looking tablecloth out of pages torn from Harper's Bazaar.

The day’s entertainment didn’t stop with the fashion show. Not many people know this, but Tim Gunn is also a magician (at least he was at this party) and wowed all of us by levitating a table and transforming a paper flower into a real one with a flash of fire.

After the cupcakes had been devoured and presents torn open, the girls retired to the basement to play-- what else?-- Band Hero Featuring Taylor Swift on the Wii. Various parents dropped by as the day wore on to watch the fashion show video footage. Heidi, Tim Gunn, and Ling Ling also stayed on for a pizza party. It was a great day and great fun.

I have to admit that putting 43rd Street Runway together was hard work. It required attending to many details and called for a few strategic planning session. But all of us, the 13 year-olds, 21 year-olds, and 50-some year-olds, had a wonderful time together. That fact alone made it all well worth the work.
auf Wiedersehen,


*the invitation for Cesca's party at the top of the post was created by Trista, one of our talented graphic designers

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coming Home is coming out soon!

The launch of Coming Home is just around the corner! Copies of my new book will available for wholesale purchase at the New York Gift Show this March. We’ll also have copies of the book on our booth for people to see. I’m so excited! Also, make sure to take a look at our website. Our 2010 Spring Collection designs echo the sentiments of the book-- eating ice cream, having a tea party, indulging in dessert, throwing a dinner party with a beautifully illuminated table—we designed these dishes especially to help create moments and events that bring people together around food and to cultivate joy, which is what the book is all about.


Decor Bon Bon, Amy Atlas, and Bride Magazine

Who doesn’t love dessert? Sweets are one of the most fun things to indulge, especially with others. In addition to tasting divine, desserts are also often gorgeous to look at. You know that old saying—we eat with our eyes.

No one knows this better than event planner and dessert stylist Amy Atlas, who specializes in dreamy, sumptuous dessert tableaus. Amy’s dessert tables have been featured in many national publications. Bride Magazine will be featuring one of her tables in their spring issue. For shoot, Amy is using our Décor Bon Bon line! We’re thrilled to be part of the feature.

The Decor Bon Bon pedestals are a perfect way to display your desserts. Take a page out of Amy's book and make dessert your centerpiece!


New Starts

Hello everyone and Happy New Year! My apologies for staying silent so long. I’ve been very busy during these past few months preparing for the release of my new book Coming Home, which will go on sale in March (more updates on this exciting event to come.)

I’d like to talk about the new year and the opportunity for new beginnings. Renovating a living space is one of the most potent ways to wake our sluggish minds from their winter slumbers. “Home” is the space where we begin and end everyday and we often forget how much of an impact the atmosphere at home can have on our psyches.

Cleaning and rearranging our home space can help us become more dynamic and vital. It doesn’t take much. Here are some ways you can make your own small, new beginning at home:

Instead of tackling the entire kitchen, make a commitment to clean out and reorganize your refrigerator. Or your silverware drawer. Or the “junk” drawer. Or your pantry shelves. Give yourself one small project at a time that you know you can finish in one go. Afterwards, not only will your home be a better space, but you’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment.

Try out a few new recipes. Refresh your repertoire by adding a handful of fresh, healthy and seasonal dishes to the rotation. For inspiration flip through your favorite cookbook or visit your favorite food blog. I love Tastespotting for the gorgeous food photography. What could be more inspiring than the pictures of delicious meals?

When it comes to decorating our living spaces once we find a place for something it usually never moves again. We might occasionally add a new item here or there, but rarely do we take items away or swap them out for something else. Designers, however, do things a little differently...rotating their décor according to the season. I’m not talking about Halloween decorations in October or Christmas lights in December. Rotating your decor can be as simple as changing the centerpiece or tablecloth on your dining room table. Maybe that means a simple, delicate runner for the spring with a vase of fresh blooms. Or a rich, heavy tablecloth for the winter. Accompanied by a pair of dramatic candlesticks, like the ones in our Dauphine line.
Or maybe you place a few special items in your foyer that correspond with the season. A pumpkin and a lantern for the fall? A big bowl of ripe fruit for the summer?

Varying our home aesthetics, even just slightly, makes a huge difference. Don’t underestimate the power of some small new things to combat the monotony of the routine.

My new book Coming Home is a great guide to seasonal, mindful living filled with more ideas like these. Sometimes, all it takes is a little nudge to make a subtle change that surprises us with its big impact.