Monday, April 29, 2013

Go on a Picnic!


Now that Spring has officially sprung, why not enjoy it? Pack a lunch, gather your friends and family, and head out on a lazy, sunny afternoon for a relaxed, rejuvenating picnic.

Picnics are great for groups of all sizes. They feel romantic and intimate with your beloved, and fun and exciting with children. Even the occasional solo picnic with a good book leaves one feeling relaxed and invigorated.


If you're lucky enough to live near a beautiful beach or park, take your picnic there. If not, set up a blanket and plates in your very own backyard! The beautiful thing about picnics is that they're casual with no needs for rules.

Read on for more picnic tips and tricks...

lawn chairs
  • Plan a menu that's easy to pack. Think sandwiches, bags of cut up fruit and veggies, cheeses and charcuterie - simple no-muss, no-fuss foods that you enjoy.
  • Don't forget the libations! If the parks permit it, bring a good bottle of vino and some disposable cups. If you're going for a dry picnic, try sparkling water.
  • Remember to pack the heaviest items at the bottom of your picnic basket - no one wants to eat a smashed sandwich!
  • Keep one or two cold packs in your picnic basket to keep drinks and other chilled items cool.
  • Don't forget the non-food essentials such as a good, heavy blanket (those with a waterproof bottom work best), flatware, napkins, plates, cups, and corkscrews. Fun items such as books, frisbees, horseshoes, playing cards, etc. And don't forget the sunglasses and SPF!
  • Make sure to take trash bags - you don't want to leave a mess behind!
  • Have a fabulous time!


Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Build a Community

outdoor dining

One of the things I hold dearest is a sense of community. Building community starts at home. Setting a table encourages you and your family to gather around the dinner table and discuss the day's events while enjoying a delicious meal. When I was a child I remember playing with the neighbor children while our mothers sat and chatted over tea. We always felt safe because everyone knew and looked out for one another. Sadly, that feeling of community is getting lost in today's fast-paced world.

Here are some ideas to help you feel less isolated and foster a sense of community where you live:
  • Use your library
  • books
  • Turn off your TV
  • Leave your house
  • Know your neighbors
  • Greet people
  • Look up when you're walking
italian family

  • Sit on your stoop
  • Plant flowers
  • Play together
children playing

  • Buy from local merchants
  • Share what you have
  • Help a lost dog
  • Take children to the park
  • Honor elders
men on bench

  • Support neighborhood schools
  • Talk to the mail carrier
  • Help someone carry something heavy
  • Have potlucks
blackberry pie
  • Hire young people in your neighborhood for odd jobs
  • Organize a block party
  • Start a tradition
  • Bake extra and share
With these and other small steps, you can help to recapture your community.

With love,

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mother's Day Sale on Now!

Show Mom you care with a lovely gift from Rosanna!

Now through May 3rd, use coupon code LUV4MOM13 at check out to receive 35% off the following items:

Happy Mother's Day!


Paglia e Fieno (Straw and Hay Pasta)

This dish got its name because the mixture of spinach linguine and plain linguine looks like a mound of straw and hay when served. I first ate this dish in Italy when I was a student spending my junior year abroad, and it became a favorite of mine the moment I tasted the saltiness of the prosciutto against the creamy texture of the sauce and the sweet explosion of the fresh peas. This is a perfect fish to serve in the spring as soon as fresh peas are available. Serve family-style in a large, low bowl, with a mixed green salad and the rest of the Pinot Grigio.



1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 - 3 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 scallion, finely minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine (like Pinot)
1 tablespoon pureed tomato
2 ounces Italian prosciutto, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
8 ounces dried or fresh spinach linguine
8 ounces dried or fresh plain linguine
1/2 cup shelled fresh peas or frozen baby peas
Sea salt
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, in one piece for grating

1. In a large saucepan, combine the oil and butter and place over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and scallion. Saute for 3 minutes, watching carefully so the garlic doesn't burn. Add the brother and wine and bring to a simmer. Add the pureed tomato and peas. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly. Add the prosciutto and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pastas together in a large pot  of boiling salted water until al dente (with a little give). Drain in a colander.


3. Put half of the sauce in the pasta pot, then return the pasta to the pot and top with remaining vegetable mixture and the cream. Toss to combine the pasta and vegetables, adding salt to taste if necessary. Grate cheese over the top and serve immediately.



Monday, April 8, 2013


The dramatic changes that come as winter gives way to spring make our bodies and souls want to express the joy of this new environment. One activity that makes the most of this newfound energy is dancing. Music and dance can temper any mood, elevate the spirit, and release a rush of endorphins. The sense of well-being that comes from dancing is a priceless gift that we experience far too infrequently. Music and dance release tension, allowing our souls to become free. Choose any music that moves you. After thirty minutes of dancing and listening to some great music, a transformation of spirit will have taken place. You will feel good.

Disco Artists That Make You Want to Boogie All Night
Barry White
The Bee Gees
Donna Summer
Sly and the Family Stone
The Village People
KC and the Sunshine Band

Oldies That Make You Want to Sing and Dance
Burt Bacharach, The Best of Burt Bacharach
The Beatles, Abbey Road
Marvin Gaye, Let's Get It On
Al Green, Al Green's Greatest Hits
James Brown, "I Got You (I Feel Good)"

World Music That Takes You to Another Place
Various Artists, The Souls of Cape Verde (Cape Verde)
Bebel Gilberto, Momento (Brazil)
Astrud Gilberto, The Girl From Ipanema Brazil)
Laurindo Almeida and Charlie Byrd, Tango (Argentina)

Music to Help You Pretend You Can Dance Like a Principal in a Broadway Musical
West Side Story soundtrack
Mamma Mia! soundtrack (film version)

For an Escape to a European Environment Without Leaving Home
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg soundtrack
Amelie soundtrack
A Man and a Woman soundtrack

Have fun!


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Throwing a Teen Party

As TableTalk readers know from a previous blog post, we celebrate my daughter Francesca's birthday in March. A few weeks ago was her 16th birthday party! I am delighted day after day by the lovely young woman she is blossoming into - it feels like just yesterday my husband Mimmo and I were taking her home from the hospital.

For the tablesetting we used Kings Road Redux plates and Napoleon Flatware pieces.

For her birthday party this year we had a French-themed Murder Mystery party with a group of her closest girl friends. I prepared Coq au Vin and the girls all strutted around the house in Parisian costumes.

The birthday girl and her guests vogueing for the camera.

Throwing a party for a teen can be a challenge. But with a little planning and rules set in place, it need not be a headache! Read ahead for my tips on throwing a fabulous teen party.

  1. Chaperones. Keeping an eye on everyone during a party can be a daunting task, so if the guest list is more than 10 or is co-ed, consider a second chaperone, such as your partner, an older sibling, or a party guest's mom, to help you out.
  2. Theme. Discuss with your teen ahead of time if you want to have a themed party or a more casual one. I'm a big fan of themes as it sets the tone of the party and makes things like the menu and decor that much easier.
  3. Guest list. Talk to your teen about whom they'd like to come and consider how many guests you can handle. Add some buffer for any surprise guests that invited attendees bring along.
  4. Set a time and date. Have clear start and end times for the party. When the party is over, make sure all the guests have rides planned.
  5. Invitations. Let your teen send out the invitations in whichever way they see fit. If paper invitations aren't cool, let them text or Facebook message their friends about the party - just make sure they are sticking to the approved guest list.
  6. Designate party areas, such as the family room, TV room, and dining room. If there are personal spaces you want guests to avoid, be sure to mark them as private.
  7. Trash and recycling. Mark large bins as trash and recycling so guests know where to put any garbage.
  8. Food. Make sure you have lots of it for hungry teens! Try including some healthy snacks in there, too.
  9. Privacy. Let your teen have their space, but not too much! Discuss with them ahead of time where in the house you (and your chaperone, if applicable) will be if they need you.
  10. Clean up. Let your teen do the dirty work after the party is over - having an unforgettable party can be messy!

And last but not least, make sure everyone has fun!