No doubt, Spring has arrived. Ready or not. Slightly resistant of the notion, personally, since as I’ve gotten more mature I embrace fall and winter. But it’s the time to embrace and not hold back. Make way for what wants to enter. Clear the space. Spring is here! And here we have Wisteria, Italian style. The color is simply divine. The species is rather invasive. I wanted to begin my post with nature, as always, and thought this was a great way to sum up Spring’s arrival via a shot I took in Italy. Welcome to this journey.
Below we see the unusual cypress trees indicative of the Italian countryside. I love them! When I shoot photos, I just go with my instincts and what captures my eye.
Easter has come and gone, but I spent my time in bed with a flu that I never saw coming. The trip to Italy this month I pretended to be my end-all, be-all. The trip with answers. My salvation. Enlightenment. Or so I thought. I am on the up from being so far down, hallucinations during the night and all in a numb yet feverish state for more than three nights in a row. In retrospect, I think it was a mind altering drug. Not. I now realize my body shut down. Had no choice but to embrace hiding from the 80+degree days Easter Sunday and Marathon Monday. Simply hiding. Tossing and turning within my deep charcoal linen sheets enveloping me in within this tumultuous turmoil of fever. Thank God for grapefruit juice and blinds. This too, shall pass. I digress.
The Church. It’s Palm Sunday. I am in Florence. For the second trip from our home base of Montecatini- Tuscany. The highlight of my trip to Italy, in all honesty was the serendipitous discovery through the scent. Incense smoke from the cobblestone back streets in Florence, not far from the Santa Maria Train Station, leading my sister and I towards this elegant antique structure. The the overpowering fluid scent moving with intoxicating lure through the air – beckoning a surprise discovery. Here comes the mystery…..Embarking on this beauty and spirituality in this environment.
Palm Sunday 2017 Florence. Love. Heart opening. The scent of Frankincense filled the Church’s entirety. Oh Bless.
We took part in Palm Sunday Mass, in Latin, like eras gone by in the US. The experience and the authenticity of church, the nuns, looking like a painting, the architecture. I was transported to another century. The history was soul grounding. Aren’t the ladies gorgeous? Their graceful voices filled with melody envelop the entire church. The scene below I captured with my phone during mass. A no no. But look at them! This scene looks like a painting. Their cloaks so majestic! This Latin mass set the tone of the day trip to Florence for me.
As we left this beautiful scene behind us, we ventured out by foot into the tourist driven scenes around the city of Florence. I placed my eyes and camera to work, seeking new discoveries and nuances along the beaten path. No stone left unturned. Taking nothing for granted. The history and age depicted below from a simple shot of these weathered shutter doors spoke to me of their years of wear and oh, what a beautiful patina tones.
OH the architecture with effortless beauty and stature. I recognized various tones of Ochre sprinkled throughout the country as its signature color. The rustic buildings and terrain lend themselves to these earthy tones.
Food, Glorious Food
I wish I had a bevy of photos portraying the amazing food we had, but much to my dismay, the food was not that at all. It seems to me that there are more Italian restaurants with better ambiance here in the United States. And you can be sure you will not have to listen to the likes of Joe Cocker or Elton John while dining, as we did there in these very brightly lit rooms. WHAT THE HELL? I say. And no, we were not in tourist areas. We found little places family run, speaking next to no English. No candlelight. Just artificial flowers and ghastly lighting! Crazy!
The pasta was light, certainly delicious, but what’s with the lack of vegetables on every single menu? This dish below was the best one on the entire trip. Succulent. Fresh wide pasta tubes crawling with seafood. Simply delicious! Not to mention the Tuscan wine we had to accompany our meal. Just a delight! So wrapping up my trip, I will say that I missed having vegetable options, and am perplexed as to the void of them. Upon my return home, I hightailed it to Russo’s market in Watertown. I was immediately elevated back to a level of sophistication, in-depth produce offerings and fresh pastas unlike I’d ever seen. Alas it IS Spring.
I am totally perplexed as to the absence of all vegetables in Italy. Not in the street, on the menus, no where in sight! Perhaps it was the region we visited. I am not certain, but I do know this – here, they prominently thrive and exist. I am very grateful and blessed to be a part of this earth here in New England. You serve us well! Spring represents many things, but in the realm of food, as the soil becomes richer and richer in nutrients, the spring bounty awakens. Artichokes and asparagus are the most obvious foods that represent Spring to me. Stuffing artichokes is a ritual I grew up with. It was our holiday food. I celebrate many different holidays with this beautiful vegetable. Slightly complex, but worth every moment. The Romans and Greeks advocated the medicinal and health benefiting qualities of this thistle. The high fiber content not to missed either. The antioxidants and vitamins also offer vitamin C, vitamin K, rich in the B complex not to mention high in potassium. They need some time to prepare, but worth the effort. I love to sautée them after they have been cut in quarters and trimmed, with shallots, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. They are delicious one leaf at a time. The stems are especially hearty and fibrous.
Mushrooms on the other hand are plentiful at Russo’s market. They have so many varieties, and in all honesty- slightly scary to me since I am unfamiliar with many of them. The concept of foraging mushrooms turns me on, but that is not my calling. I’ll leave that to the pros. Radicchio, baby lettuce and fresh asparagus below in major abundance. The bitter deep red leaves of radicchio just taste so good raw, or grilled. Have you ever tried to grill them? They take on a very nutty flavor. Drizzle a little olive oil, salt, pepper and just a dash of balsamic before they hit the heat. I’ll show you a salad I conjured up in celebration of my return from Italy below, using escarole, radicchio, clementine slices and black Moroccan olives.
This salad was so refreshing, especially after the absence of raw vegetables. The colors, textures and the taste was spot on, balanced and divine. Oh did I mention shaved fennel? I’ve posted the dressing recipe in the past, I believe. Please for pardon the repeat. 4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2tsp dijon country style mustard, 2 minced cloves garlic, 2/3 cup olive oil drizzled into the mix. Add a small amount of cracked pepper. Voila. Done.
Marilyn Sang ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’
There you have it! Spring has sprung. April. The month of Diamonds. The birthstone for April. Clarity. Purity. Diamonds glistening in the sun, catching the light with grace. The healing properties of this magnificent stone are abundant. Diamonds truly are the symbol of purity. Their white light can help you bring your life into a cohesive whole. They bond relationships bringing love and clarity into a partnership. This stone has been the symbol of wealth for centuries. It is a stone of manifestation, attracting abundance. Diamonds are also well known to impart fearlessness, invincibility and fortitude. Diamonds clear emotional and mental pain, reducing fear and bring about new beginnings. This is a highly creative stone stimulating imagination and inventiveness. Happy Birthday you April babies! One of my new pieces, AMODINI, shown below looks like a relic from the Victorian era. The multi strands of hand cut amethyst stones are wire wrapped making the connection. I’ve attached a locket as the pendant, swinging from a diamond bale which is held by all 5 strands. A halo of diamonds surround the enclosed locket. The circle measures 1.25″ and the necklace is 17″ in length.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend! They simply make you feel good and rich when wearing them. Anywhere on the body! For some reason, I’m favoring the circular shape, so here are a pair of diamond disc earrings, PRAMA, suspended on 18k gold earwires. These babies are 15mm and ready to order. I have 11mm in stock. Aren’t these dangle and drop earrings gorgeous?
And let me introduce to you a brand new piece featuring a circular Sunburst with a dangling tourmaline in the center. The piece is suspended from black onyx, spinel, lava and olive wood. The only color visible here is the subtle blue tourmaline. It was shot in early morning light against my zinc desk. Soon enough the weather will break and allow me to shoot outdoors once again.
This Diamond Sunburst makes me think about the sun growing higher in the sky, as the season sets in. Summer will be here before we know it. It’s time to embrace the warmth and all of the newly sprouted plants. Our souls are also sprouting. Remember that. We are living creatures with awakening senses. Time to celebrate our renewal!
I hope you enjoyed this blog journey.
Yours in joy,