We’ve moved!

28 Apr

A new start, a new blog!  You can now check us out at http://happilyeveraffie.blogspot.com/

*Fingers Crossed*

5 Apr

This is what I keep telling myself about going home to Toronto…(I should tattoo it on my hand so that I can look at it all day)

Our Roman HoliDAY

27 Mar

Ok, this trip was far from a “holiday”.  We were there on very official business, hopping from embassy to consulate, here, there and everywhere.  This is how we did Rome in a day…

4am We leave Brescia (if I weren’t a new mummy, this early waking would have been much harder than it was) on a bus to Bergamo Orio Airport, followed by a plane to Rome Ciampino.  We jumped on a bus, full with tourist and priests (I especially loved the priest in front of me who bobbed his head to to Queen on the radio), to downtown Rome.

9am Up to the American Consulate to apply for Sammy’s seamans visa.  I waited outside on the perfectly manicured lawns in the sunshine (and pollution).  I watched as American citizens and visa seekers lined up, desperate to gain permission to enter.  The Italian Polizia stood guard, machine guns and cigarettes in hand.

11am All morning I nagged Sammy that I wanted to fulfill the “Roman Holiday” dream and rent a scooter to roam Rome.  Sammy hmmm’ed and hawww’ed over this, protesting that it wasn’t safe and we didn’t know the roads well enough.  “You’re scared, huh?” I said smugly.  Just then as we were crossing a busy intersection we watched as two scooters collided at full speed, sending bits of plastic in every direction, the drivers thrown on the pavement.  One driver walked away with a sprain, but the other was unable to move.  Sammy looked at me “Scooter, huh?”.  That was the end of that dream.

12pm Lunch.  Me – Italian meatballs, Sammy – Eggplant Parmigiana, and mini crustata.  Yummmmers!

Spanish Steps

1pm We headed to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain to blend amongst the thousands of tourist and street vendors pushing their roses.  It was the perfect day for wandering, with nothing but blue skies and sun.

2:35pm Ok, we’re lost.  We were supposed to be at the doctor for Sammy’s medical certificate 5 minutes ago.  We rushed down the hillside beside the Spanish Steps, to Piazza del Popolo, through streets lined with hundreds of shops, car and bars.  We finally found the office.  Phew!

3:30pm Onwards to the Vittoriano National Monument, the Trajan’s Forum, and finally the Colosseum!  What sights to see.  You really feel like you’re knee deep in the history of the modern world and mankind.

5pm We jump on the Metro in the direction of the Vatican.  Although we’re not religious, we felt it was something that we had to see. From the station, it’s a short walk to the columns of the Apolistic Palace.  The Vatican is one of the smallest countries in the world, but also one of the most powerful. You feel tiny in size and worth when you walk amongst the circus.

6pm A short dinner at the Autogrill (so yumm!) then we head back to the bus station, board our bus, and we’re on our way home.

11pm Home, tired, with multiple blusters, but a buonissimo day had by all!

Just a note, Rome is not Italy…it’s a tourist bubble.  If you visit Italy and the first language they speak to you is English, you’re in the tourist zone.  For all of you who watched or read Eat Pray Love and one day dream of living in Rome…it’s a fantasy.  Take if from someone who lives in an Italian village where no one (except the crazy Welshman) speaks English.  If you want to experience real Italy, you’ll have to take the beaten path far away from any area that sells boxer shorts with a picture of David’s package on them.  Believe it or not, Italians don’t wear these.

Rome was beautiful, nonetheless, and a must see before you kick the bucket.  Maybe next time we’ll have more than a few hours to see centuries of history! Grazie, Roma!

Changing the Record (while eating strawberries)

22 Mar

I’ve been a little M.I.A. lately, which I’m sure can be expected with all the changes that are happening with my life.  As I type, I’m sitting against our balcony doors in the Italian sunshine, overlooking terracotta-tiled roofs and bustling Italians down below, eating a bowl of deliziosa strawberries.  I suddenly want to breathe in everything Italian, from the weather, culture, food, people and anything else that comes my way.  I’m very excited to be going to Rome on Thursday for the very first time.  It’s my second last place that I wanted to see before I went home.  (Unfortunately I wanted to see Pompeii, but it just wasn’t in the schedule.)

I’ve decided that it’s time to change the record, dance to a different tune, and move on.  So, as I’m sitting here I’m listening to Radio Italia, a station which plays only Italian music.  It’s quite refreshing, actually.  Sometimes I get so sick of mainstream radio which plays the same 5 songs continuously all day.    As an artist, I take great inspiration from music, probably more than anything else.  In times of hardship I often turn to music.  I can pinpoint songs to specific times of my life.  I’ve decided that this time of my life has to be remembered as la sezione Italiana.

I’m happy to report that during our daily walk this weekend, two ladies stopped bubba and I to chat. After a little chat about baby, the weather, her dog, I said “Sono Canadese.” (I’m Canadian) Signora: “Canadese? No! Vero?” (Canadian? No! Really?) It only took a year for me to understand someone and they to understand me!

My delicious strawberries

Something from the Bag Lady

21 Mar

I’m somewhat of a bag lady.  I must admit, I hate clothes shopping and absolutely despise shoe shopping.  I know, I know…what kind of woman am I??  But the thought of sitting in a hot store, trying on shoe after shoe (which never fit me because I have really wide feet), then to walk off disappointed is too much to take.  Online shoe shopping…and online shopping in general…is for me.  However, with bags I can never go wrong!

I love these totes from Fabric & Handle, especially since they’re customizable.  They have a great range of fabrics, the handles can be wide or thin, they too come in different colours, and they’re adjustable.  I especially love bags that are machine washable (even more so now with baby in tow)!

Confessions of a Stationary Junkie

14 Mar

I’m Affie and I’m addicted to stationary and all paper type things.  I really am.  When I walk into a stationary or gift wrap store, I get heart palpitations. All the different coloured do-dads are just calling my name, wanting to be used.  It wasn’t until we visited Guistacchini in Brescia did my husband find out my true weakness.  Pens and paper and wrapping…oh my!  When I left Toronto, the abundance of stationary that I had accumulated over the years was something to see.  And to throw it all away was heartbreaking.  I frantically tried to find homes for all of my beloved bits n’ bobs, pawning them off on mostly teacher friends.

So, when I come across papery goodies online, it’s hard for me to click away.  Like this universal word find wrapping paper – suitable for all types of occasions. According to The Die Line, it’s not for sale.  But how easy would it be to recreate it? It gives me an excuse to visit the stationary store…

The things you can find at the Supermarket

7 Mar

If you’re like me and you want some bling-bling but don’t have the ching-ching, this might be your answer.  Created by AMT and sold on Supermarket, the sterling silver “Diamond Ring” comes in thicknesses of 2mm, 4mm and 9mm.  It is also available in 14-karat gold and platinum.

AMT says, “The Tiffany-setting diamond engagement ring: design classic, symbol of marital bliss, emblem of our status-obsessed culture. The largest is a sly commentary on our culture’s competitive nature when it comes to conspicuous consumption:  ‘my diamond is bigger than yours.’ The Diamond Rings invite us to step back, get some perspective, and even laugh at ourselves”.

For only $140, I’ll take what I can get!

Carnivale at Lake Garda

6 Mar

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I thought that we could use some fresh air, so the family headed out to Lake Garda today for fun, sun, and pizza for Carnivale. I’m always amazed at the spectacular views in Italy, which most people take for granted.  The most amazing view of all?  The people.  The rich and well dressed come out in hoards to Lake Garda for a stroll along its boardwalks.  The town of Salo is packed full of Prada, Gucci, Armani and more.  But who needs to window shop while you have live models walking around?

This weekend is Carnivale, which is kind of like the European Halloween, only less fun.  The kids dress up in costumes then throw an abundance of confetti around.  That’s pretty much it (as far as I can see).  I must admit that the kiddies looked very cute all dressed up in their gear (especially a baby girl in a full Princess Leia costume avec hair buns).

The air was clean, the sky was blue, the ducks were quacking, the baby was laughing.  It was a good day had by all.

Unlocking the door to my creativity

6 Mar

I had to share this little illustration with you from The Notebook Doodles. It’s just so true.  This is exactly how I feel sometimes with my creative endeavours.  I’ll try something, then try something else, then think “hmmm, but what if I tried this one?” “or like this?”.  Then I’ll move on to something completely different.  One day I’ll find the key that unlocks the door to the area that I need to go (or perhaps there is no such thing for creative people like me?)

Onwards we March

3 Mar

I can’t believe it’s March already.  And to be honest, I can’t believe it’s 2011 already.  And I can’t believe my baby will be 1 in just over a month.  I know mothers always say that, but it really is true.  From the day you bring your teeny tiny bundle home to the day they crawl, walk and talk, it seems to go by in a flash. Perhaps the lack of sleep and abundance of hyperactive hormones hurdles us into another dimension.  Maybe this alternative dimension helps mothers cope with endless diaper changes, whining, and yet even more diaper changes, fast-forwarding time (maybe this is why we also feel that we don’t get nearly enough sleep anymore).

March is a lay-low month for us, as before we know it April will be here and all hell will break loose.  This month will include a lot of form-filling and checklist-checking.  From moving home to hubby’s new job, from baby’s birthday to visits from family…oh my.  Oh well, onwards we march!

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