Florence, Italy… Move over Starbucks, introducing “TSH Collab,” and “The Student Hotel”

The Student HotelThis is a brilliant concept. Instead of going to Starbucks to get work done, you can now sign up for a membership with TSH Collab, which gives you access to different co-living, co-working spaces in different European cities (Florence, Amsterdam City, Amsterdam West, Dresden, The Hague, Maastricht, Rotterdam, and Vienna/Bologna (coming soon). Their mission is to give people a place to live, work, dine, workout and they say to swim. Sounds great, yes?

However, I think they missed the boat with name, “The Student Hotel,” because their business model welcomes more than just students. They also include travelers, expats, mobile entrepreneurs, and professionals. Unfortunately, for me, the word “student” is restrictive. Maybe by using the word student, they were referring to a clientele between 18-35 years old — not clear, but their business model is something ALL ages want.

Last year, I was in Florence for a few months, not as a tourist, but visiting relatives. I looked for a cafe where I could sit and get work done. Florence does not have coffee shops like we do in America, where you can just camp out for a few hours. Starbuck’s has not been allowed a location in Florence.

So, when I saw this TSH Collab on LinkedIn, it sparked my interest, especially since they are in Florence, where they will have two locations. They are working on the Belfiore location now.

Charlie MacGregor, is the Founder, his concept is fantastic. The funding is coming from an Amsterdam headquartered developer investor. While he says he includes travelers, expats, etc. he is really catering to a “younger student audience,” but maybe that will change, because Florence is a major tourist destination.

FOR SURE, when I am in Florence or any city where The Student Hotel is located, I want to visit, see what the hotel is about and see how it feels. If you happen to visit before me, let us know what you think.

Exercise, going to the gym… WHY do I resist?

0F0940F2-A9CB-46EC-915C-1EBB132D0C60For over a week, I have resisted going to the gym. I enjoy exercise when I am outside, walking/hiking, I love the fresh air. BUT going to the gym, just hearing the word “gym” makes me resist. Every day, I have good intentions; yet, fail to follow through.

Why? I dislike the extra work of carrying a gym bag, getting there, changing clothes. You see, I am exhausted thinking of this. If it is in the morning and I need to shower, then I have the added stuff (makeup, deoderant (heaven forbid I forget that), work clothes, work shoes) that I need to carry, it gets heavy. At night, if I go home and THINK I will go to the gym after I eat dinner — that does not happen.

Yesterday, I beat myself up over this. I had the self talk conversation in my mind saying, “STOP with the nonsense, get to the gym.”

I’ve been tired lately, so the rebuttle from the “other side” of my brain was being lazy. Take it easy, rest today, go tomorrow. I started to fight those negative thoughts.

As I was deciding which way I would go, my daughter sent me a text, it said, “Look what is on TV at the gym, it’s Brunetti!”

WHAT?? I SMILED REALLY BIG, not CNN, not ESPN, but MHz! Donna Leon’s books have been turned into a mini-series, and “Inspector Brunetti” was on the television.

THIS WAS A GAME CHANGER. I could work out while watching an Italian detective show that takes place in Venice!

Suddenly, my brain did a switch over. Amazing, my mind was “now focused” on the positive aspect of exercising (Inspector Brunetti), which made me forget about the drudgery of carrying my gym bag.

Hallelujah, a major break through!

Hello gym, here I come…

Kate Spade… We will miss you!

09CB115E-2D8B-42DD-9416-B808F4C021EBBy now, you’ve heard the news about Kate Spade’s passing. We refer to her as “Kate Spade,” when really her name was Katherine Noel Brosnahan. This is a sad day!

Why did we love her handbags so much? Back in the 90’s, when we started to see her purses, they were special because they were different. She used bright colors, different patterns and when we opened her purses they always had beautiful colored linings inside.

Kate Spade’s attention to detail was top notch. You can see from this original purse I have of hers. The material for the giraffe pattern was high end, the leather piping was perfectly sewn, the leather strap was thick, not thin. Look at the lovely gold feet with rich dark brown quality leather on the bottom of the purse, the stitching is faultless. Notice that in the beginning, she did not have her name placed on the outside of the purse, I liked that. Instead, her name was on the inside, creating mystery as to “WHO” designed such a rich looking purse.

016B65DA-FF55-477E-BB78-ED86D40D4794

I have other purses of Kate Spade’s, this was an all time favorite. I always received compliments on it for it’s unique style. She was the mystery designer back then. Who was this marvel with a bright preppy fearless style? When walking through the department store, we had to smile at the colors, patterns and textures she chose. Simply wonderful!

Katherine, you were a beautiful and talented designer. Your memory will live on through your handbags, accessories and now shoes! I’m sorry you were suffering, you will be missed!

Porch swings… Are they a Southern thing?

DBE1BA3D-1D86-454C-BEA6-EA574BA1143AI have always liked the idea of a porch swing. Growing up near Lake Michigan, we would string up a hammock between two trees OR bring a lawn chair down to the beach to watch the sunset. A porch swing with lemonade was what we saw in the movies.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Felder Rushing’s Blog post, “Put a Bounce in Your Swing.” His story is wonderfully written about his father’s love for the porch swing and fine tuning the springs, so that it would be a perfect ride. The swing was also a place where his father’s creative ideas were imagined!

Reading Felder’s post reinforced why I have always found the idea of a porch swing relaxing. There is something traditional about taking time for ourselves to sit, swing, let our minds wander and enjoy nature.

Oh, and if you believe in saints, Felder has you covered. GET THIS, St. Proculus of Verona is known as the swinging saint. I would never have known this! You can read about him here…  “Swinging Garden Saints.

That brings me back to my question, “Why do porch swings seem to be a Southern thing?”

Learning Italian, German, Spanish & French through Fairy Tales

50A7B344-C434-4DD4-AC4F-B27EB30FDACEDon’t you love it, when you find a great website by accident! That happened to me the other day. I was searching for an Italian recipe, but I wasn’t finding what I wanted. So, I kept clicking “here” and “there” and suddenly I came to a website for “learning Italian.”

The site is called, “The Italian Experiment.” I noticed that they also have the “same” site in German, Spanish and French. In ALL of these languages they take three fairy tales and translate them into the foreign language you choose, and even better, they have audio where someone reads the story to you!

98A2742D-110E-4D00-9807-805E5E33734EAs you listen to the story, you can hear how they pronounce the words. Excellent! If you have “no idea” what the reader is saying, there is a button that says, “translate,” if you click that the English translation appears.

I chose the Italian version and listened to “The Three Little Pigs.” You can listen to them tell the story here. While I can speak Italian fairly well, I’ve got to say the words in this story had me lost and this is a short book. Yikes, I need to practice.

In part of the story they say in English, “the first little pig,” which translated in Italian is, “il primo porcellino.” You have to hear the translator read these words, it is very cute sounding. Suddenly the little porcellino seems like your best friend.

This site has a review for an online language course called, “Rocket Italian.” They give it 4.5 Stars. I went to the Rocket Italian website, it seems good. I’ve been wanting to practice Italian and build up my vocabulary. Maybe I will rock my Italian by taking the Rocket Italian course! I like the name “rocket,” makes me think if I pass the course, I will be ejected to Florence and find myself in a beautiful cafe!

Gotta hope!

Authentic Italian cooking…

italian-pound-cakeIf you’ve been to Italy, you know that Italians have desserts, but they are simple and not so sweet. In fact, when I was young my Italian mother would make a basic sheet cake and only sprinkle powdered sugar on top — absolutely NO frosting! Of course, if it was a birthday, she would buy the traditional American birthday cake. Normally though, she would make just a plain cake. When she got “fancy,” she made pineapple upside down cake or strawberry short cake.

Years ago, I was in Italy and my mother said, “Let’s go visit, Silvana.” Off we went. As it was a visit, Silvana made us coffee and brought us a slice of cake that looked like this photo. My mother and I loved the cake. We asked Silvana for the recipe, it was a dry type of pound cake. Silvana said she made the cake from memory, no recipe, so it was hard for her to tell us the exact ingredients, but she tried.

Once at home, my mother and I tried to make the cake, but it was no good. Years have gone by, and I have not found a good recipe UNTIL a few months ago. An Italian friend posts different recipes on Facebook. She had a link to a website called, “An Italian in My Kitchen.”  This Blogger is from Toronto. She moved to Rome 20 years ago. She shares Italian recipes that she learned from her Italian mother/n/law. They are very good AND I think you would enjoy the stories she shares too.

On her site, she has a recipe for an “Italian Fresh Cream Lemon Cake.” It’s EXACTLY like Silvana’s cake!  Finally, it took a few years to find, but I have the recipe. I wrote a comment thanking this Blogger for making me so happy and bringing back Italian memories. She told me her daughter’s favorite cake is the “Easy Yogurt Cake,” which I will have to try next.  Thanks to Facebook for making sharing with our friends in different countries so easy!

Buon appetito!