Monday, April 30, 2012

Strange Light

In Pisa for the day at the magnificent Cathedrale at Piazza dei Miracoli (unesco hs) we danced around the tourists and the dark feel of the Medieval stone and marveled at the folds and sighs carved into the marbled statues. The black angels with their swords seemed avengers more than protectors and with the inferior light, were impossible to photograph properly.

Then, this beam from the highest windows, Ani captured it with the cel phone...just beautiful

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Wonder Dog

We slept 12 hours all the way through breakfast and lunch. The English weather followed us a bit to Tuscany but it's not nearly as dreary.

 The Deodato's have a lovely dog named Shep.

Balancing Rocks on the Nose

 Shep is The Dog Eckhart Tolle had in mind when he wrote 'The dog is IN THE NOW so it can teach you or remind you".

Shep the Wonder Dog

 I am giggling just thinking about his goofy, handsome face chasing rocks in the tall grass.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Val d'Orcia

Room with a View

London Bridge

A few bridge days in London before we travel to the continent for a summer vacation. Ani and I walked miles and miles, schlepped suitcases like novices and endured rainy weather all three days we were in London. But...look at that rainbow. Just for us, I think. Fabulous city, not enough time.

Rain & Rainbows in London

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Amazing Bees & B Hunters

Honey Hunters : Eric Valli 
a photo story of bees and men high up in the Himalayas.

And also this phenomenal video....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Walking Works it Out

The Circolo delle Mamme Viaggiatrici, a group of Italian bloggers that I partner with, write mostly on subjects related to travel and children on their individual blogs. Once a month we take a particular theme and collectively write about it. Today, I am thrilled to share the second post for the traveling moms group with 'walking' as a theme.

                                                              Walking Works it Out

Taking example from my grandparents who lived to be in their 90's, I know that walking is one of the simplest and healthful activities that a person of any age can do to keep their body, mind and spirit alive.  My grandmother and grandfather walked miles every single day of their lives. They both attributed their longevity to moderation in all things and breathing fresh country air on their brisk daily walks in the foothills of the Alps.

Americans don't walk. It is no exaggeration to say this and you can look anywhere around you and see that there is not a soul on the streets. The exception are the health conscious or people from other countries that haven't gotten spoiled by driving the car to any and every destination. Yet. Those are also the people I see walking with their  families on Sunday afternoons or after early dinner in the evenings around our lake. Otherwise, in America I think the only walkers are  in the big cities like New York and San Francisco where there are concentrated residential areas in downtown spaces.

In my life though I have found the pleasure in walking and the need to do so on a daily basis. Especially with  big changes going on in our lives like the impending trip to Italy for the summer, we all are particularly energetic.  The Queen, is relocating from the Lake house to be closer to family elsewhere which also brings up a lot of emotions in all of us. I find that we swing between feelings of upheaval and chaos, adventure and excitement and on occasion, nerve racking fear of the unknown. Of course, because we do what we must, we press on.. Emotions can run high. The psyche can play tricks.

To alleviate some of the nervous energy that builds up I take walks as often as I can. I try to go every
day in the morning or afternoon. If the Girl is home she comes with me on her skate board or her bike. Together, it makes the three miles around the lake road go by fast and more fun. Usually very few people are out which makes it almost like having our own private park.

 When I am by myself I tend to be contemplative and talk to myself, trying to work through problems or ideas. I get a great mental workout when I walk. I think it's kind of a chain reaction that happens. Moving your body and getting the muscles working and at the same time absorbing stimulation from nature: bird calls, earth smells,  the blowing wind and so on.  The brain is working on a completely different pattern than if you are breathing artificial gym air, stuffy office or school ventilation. Creative ideas spring up when I walk. Solutions to daily problems present themselves and in the meantime I have become much more aware of my posture and breathing. Walking with the kids is an altogether different experience than walking alone.

 When my very loving but quiet son was a teen, he would on occasion consent to a walk around the lake with me. Sometimes by the end of the hour we would have cobbled together a bond of sorts sifted from conversation about random, seemingly insignificant things like the neighborhood or the weather. It was not obvious, but the act of walking, moving forward, most importantly the physical act of being around nature in the middle of the city was in itself a very moving experience. I like to think that those walks had some sort of effect on him.

In the end, with so much going on in everyone's lives there has to be a time and place to just practice being free from the anchors of the machine, the computer, the car, oven, chair, television or any other thing that binds us to the daily routine of an immobile and stuffy life. I say this as a person who is absolutely not interested in any sort of sport, much less the competitive kind and so my meaning might not be obvious.  Here in America we are addicted to the sedentary life. Through my own experiences and together with my son and daughter, I feel that if we walked more people here would all be happier.

We are.

Because I learned the importance of being in Nature from my grandmother who made walking a basic tenant of her life, much like her religion, I don't question it's positive role in my mental and physical health. I know it. And knowing this allows me to set an example for my children, who although not as fond of walking as I am, will hopefully follow me eventually. As a matter of fact, the Girl will soon get to experience walking culture, as we are in Europe traveling and much of the time we will be walking. In Europe, where it is still normal, the simple act of walking is equal to the simple act of living. If you can, you should.

This is the second post that is dedicated to the "Traveling with Anima" page that I started last month. At the same time it is the second post written in conjunction with my Italian blogging partners Monica, Valentina, Silvia, Alessandra and Melissa - who writes in English and in Italian. Together we make up Il Circolo delle Mamme Viaggiatrici - or the Traveling Moms Club. Silvia, Monica, Alessandra and Valentina's children are all under the age 7. Melissa and I have children that are a bit older. All of us have had the travel blood since birth, it seems and have continued to travel with our children. Each one of us has a particular worldview that we wish to share with whoever is interested in travel and kids. I suggest you visit the other women's blogs to see what they say about the Art of Walking.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pansies & Cookies

At Stone Gable a blog that I discovered via Pinterest I just saw this great idea. You should rush right over to Stone Gable for the recipe, which I am going to do also, to see more delectable pictures and delightful decoration tips. What a lovely find!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pining for Class

Had a lovely time with the Queen at the YSL Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum

Today is her birthday and I surprised her with tickets to the museum. We thought the retrospective was wonderfully curated and so I guess I'm going to have to stop telling people that Denver is and always was a 'cow town'.

Watching excerpts of the two part documentary in one of the smaller annexes I was really touched by Pierre Berge's description of YSL, the artist and  genius. The weight of being 'the other' can inspire so much creativity and yet the demons associated with it move so deeply.

A few weeks ago going through the storage closets I rediscovered a couple of vintage YSL Rive Gauche pieces that I acquired, obviously years ago.  This was during the 'Dusseldorf weekends'  hanging out with the unflappable Mr. Van Fisher and his ancient girlfriend. I think that I wore the Gypsy blouse for my first occasion at the über chic L'Orangerie.

The black blouse was a little more tricky, because of the à pois detail for one but also because it is black silk. Sheer silk chiffon. Not to be worn with a shift or anything else underneath, as per YSL rules. Which, we naturellement, followed to the letter.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012



Thursday, April 5, 2012

Illuminating Your Space

From my monthly column in The Denver News -

My house is a North West Denver bungalow from the 1940’s, which is to say that it is a good solid brick frame. In the beginning it had tight, dark hallways and smallish rooms that we remodeled over many years to subtly create a larger space for our family. The space is now more modern, comfortable and better suited to what we needed. The last addition was the second floor, basically an open room slightly partitioned with plenty of windows lighting up the space of the master bedroom. In our nice little house we live with two cats and two dogs, who we naturally adore. Basically this means they have license to run the house. If you have critters, you will have noticed that they plop themselves into any available space on the carpet or the couch, where the sun shines in from the window, even if it is just one ray beaming in. The cats will even lie on each other to squeeze into the light. There they lie, snoozing away, completely indifferent to the fact that they might be a tripping hazard for us humans. A lot of times I look at them in their “blissed” out state and I wish that I had the luxury to lie around like that, following the rays of the plentiful Colorado sun around the house all day long. What a life!
Sun and light makes humans feel good too, not just our privileged animal friends. While researching which way to go for lighting fixtures for a kitchen update, I met up with Nancy Johnson of FABRAY Architectural Lighting. From Nancy I received confirmation about what I think we (and the animals) instinctively know: light not only illuminates a space but can also exalt our moods or make us feel uncomfortable and alternately apprehensive or even totally energize us. I now know that figuring out the logistics of lighting is often left as the last step for builders, even though it is a crucial factor in how we experience well being in our surroundings. Remember how irritated your eyes used to get sitting in the classroom all day for all those years in school? We found out much later of course that it was the effect of cheap and in those days, standard overhead lighting which at least in part contributed to irritation and poor concentration. As a matter of fact, a lot of places that I had previously worked came to mind. The eight hours a day in small, cramped office spaces with garish lighting that seemed to make the mascara on my eyelashes extra heavy and my skin itchy are just a few examples of uninspired lighting design. As I started researching it became obvious that the industry has changed since I came home from school bothered by ‘light pollution’. The creation of new technology geared toward optimizing productivity and comfort by utilizing well thought out space and light design is a focal point in the growing arena of “sustainable living” businesses. Renewed interest in our environment has given rise to new ventures in Denver like FABRAY, located in the redeveloped Row Club area off the Platte. The company specializes in bringing the latest energy efficient developments to their customers while bringing innovative design and affordable budget to the table. Though it might seem minimal even just by tweaking light bulb efficiency (LED’s and CFL’s are better than fluorescent) in the long run money save us money on energy bills.
This brings me back to warm, inviting spaces. Everywhere I looked designers used nature whenever possible. When natural daylight is acknowledged as an integral part of design it follows that you are using the most naturally sustainable element available to you. A good lighting designer will help you with that concept.
I quote Nancy Johnson: “Good lighting design is by far one of the least expensive means to comfort, elegance, delight, and differentiation … all of the things that we crave as human beings.” Judging by the way my beloved pets fight over a little ray of sunshine coming through the window I would agree with that statement wholeheartedly.
For more information on innovative Lighting Design contact Nancy Johnson at 720-443-3134 or

Silvana Vukadin-Hoitt, is a creative entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable living. She currently lives and works in Denver and is a contributing writer for The Denver News