Monday, 16 October 2017

MUSIC MONDAYS ~ N.11

Music Monday is back!  If you were wondering where the music was last week, it was intentionally skipped, as this has now become a bi-weekly feature on Viva la Dolce (*the weekly feature edition will resume in the summer*).

Who do we have this week?  It is Giusy Ferreri with her latest hit, "L'amore Mi Perseguita" ("Love Haunts Me"). Ferreri gained her stardom, after coming in second on the first season of Italy's version of the talent show, "X Factor."  Before that, the singer's musical career consisted of experiences with various bands, as well as a solo career attempt.  Ferreri, who is visibly pregnant in this song's video, welcomed a daughter to the world this past September.

The song features another Italian artist as well, Federico Zampaglione.  Zampaglione, leader of music group Tiromancino, directed the official video for this song.




Saturday, 14 October 2017

FALL ROUND-UP: THE VERY BEST IN FOOD, FASHION & FUN!

Fall is such a great time of year for many things, including food, fashion and outdoor activities!  I've gotten together with some of favourite bloggers to put together the ultimate list of fall fun!  Make sure to check out all of the awesome posts below to get inspired this fall!

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Fall Fun for Little Ones 

Fall is such a great time of year to go on family adventures with your little ones.  Here are some of our favourite fall time activities to help you get the most out of the season!



Easy and Fun Fall Leaf Tree Craft for Toddlers 

Fall is such an exciting time, and Pinterest is overflowing with cute toddler crafts.  Here is a fun fall, tree leaf craft you can create with your toddler using leaves you can collect together on a nature walk through your backyard.



Eight Things to do Outside This Fall
Blog: Mamablabs

Looking for new ideas on how to get the kids outside this fall?  Read on for eight fun things to do outdoors as a family, that everyone will love!



Fall Bucket Lists (for moms and toddlers)

It's finally fall!  That means tons of fall themed activities for you and your little one(s).  Check out these bucket lists for toddlers and moms!



DIY Pumpkin Playdough 

Who doesn't love an easy DIY project to do with the kids?  This homemade pumpkin playdough has the sweet smell of the fall season.



Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites (Great for Breastfeeding Moms)

It's officially Fall, which means - you guessed it - Pumpkin Spice Everything!  These Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites are delicious, and the oats and flax seed make them great for breastfeeding moms.  You can even add a little bit of brewer's yeast for an extra boost in your milk supply! Breastfeeding or not, these are delicious, super easy to make and will surely get you in the Fall mood.



Warm up to a Hearty Harvest Stew 

One of my favourite things about fall is the abundance of fresh harvest vegetables that are now in prime season.  With the cooler weather, it is time for me to break out the crockpot and make this delicious hearty Harvest Stew.  So easy to make, and perfect to come home to after a long day.



Fendi Inspired Fall Fashion 

Want to look like you just stepped off the runway?  Check out these Fendi inspired fall fashion pieces!

Friday, 13 October 2017

PUMPKIN INSPIRED ITALIAN RECIPES

As we decorate for the fall season, and upcoming Halloween holiday, there is no doubt an excess of pumpkins lying around!  While there are multiple ways to use pumpkins for decor purposes, there are also plenty of ways to use them in the kitchen!

I've rounded up five great delicious pumpkin inspired, Italian recipes that will not only delight your tastebuds, but be the perfect comforting dish on these cooler fall days! 


Buon Appetito!



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Italian Winter Squash Stew with Tomato, Dry-Cured Olives and Garlic



This recipe was found in an article for Zester Daily on Huffington Post, and is written by Julia Della Croce.  Della Croce is the author of "Veneto: Authenic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast;"  Therefore, it is fitting that she provides a delightful history of the "Zucca" (or pumpkin) and it's uses in Northern Italy throughout her article.  It's a very interesting read before diving into the recipe!


Zucca alla scapece - Roman-style marinated pumpkin and 
Zucca in agrodolce - Sicilian-style sweet-and-sour pumpkin


Rachel Roddy writes a wonderful article in The Guardian, where she describes two wonderful recipes from Central and Southern Italy. Before explaining the recipes, Roddy, who lives in Italy, provides great detail of the wonderful scenes in Testaccio, Italy during the fall season.  She also provides a brief description of the types of pumpkin found in the Roman markets during this time of year!


Penne with Pumpkin, Bacon and Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena



This scrumptious recipe was found on the website of Academia Barilla, a corporation which actively supports, promotes and develops Italian DOP-certified products.  What's more, they strongly support youth initiatives in the culinary field, as they hope to promote and spread authentic Italian Gastronomic Culture for the future.  Aside from a mouthwatering recipe, you will also find Chef's Tips and some Food History regarding pumpkin, on their website.


Pumpkin Ravoli (Cappellacci)



Another great recipe found on the Academia Barilla website; this one was just too good to pass up!  Although it's "difficulty rating is at a level two (as opposed to the level 1 for the recipe noted above), don't let that intimidate you!  Roll up those sleeves and try this special dish!


Pumpkin Risotto



I just couldn't leave out one of my favourite dishes - risotto!  Although there are a variety of versions to choose from, this recipe hails from the website of celebrity chef, Rachel Ray.  The seasonings of nutmeg and sage in this dish, add the perfect notes to the flavourful, hearty pumpkin. Yum!  

Friday, 6 October 2017

OCTOBER DOLCE TO-DO-LIST!


Fall is the a great time to celebrate some of life's dolce (pleasures)! For starters, there is plenty to enjoy outdoors, such as the gorgeous colours of nature and the refreshing crisp air.  Furthermore, the thanksgiving holiday celebrated during this time of year, reminds us to reflect upon our lives and truly appreciate all that we have. This calls for more time spent with family and friends, and more time focusing on taking care of our bodies and minds. Lastly, let's not forget some of the ultimate fall pleasures -  cozy sweaters and pumpkin spiced treats!  To help you enjoy some dolce this season, I've compiled a list of 10 ideas below:

1. Go outside and enjoy the beautiful fall colours ~ Check out the local trails in your neighbourhood!  Bring along the family and let the kids explore their new surroundings.  Create a fun nature walk activity by making a list of things to look out for and then collect them along the way!

2. Do some yardwork ~ Another great way to get outdoors is by tending to your yard.  Rake some leaves and refresh your landscaping!  Not only will this lead you to a great looking yard, but you also get the added benefit of vitamin D and a workout! 

3.  Go apple picking or visit a pumkin patch - or do both! ~ Research some great farms in your area where you can enjoy some fun apple picking and/or some great pumpkin selections.  Usually these locations also offer other family friendly activities such as petting zoos, hay rides and more!  Let the fun continue at home by baking some goodies with your freshly picked apples and pumpkins, or by carving out a fun design on your personally selected pumpkin!

4. Reduce time spent on technology and social media ~ When you find yourself with some down-time, fight the urge to jump on social media.  Instead, call up a friend and go for a walk; take your child to the park; engage in a creative activity like painting or colouring; or try meditating.

5. Take a nap! ~ Listen to your body, and rest when you feel tired.  Often times, we push ourselves to the limit.  Next time you find yourself yawning and rubbing your eyes, instead of grabbing a cup of coffee, try laying down instead.  Even if you don't fall asleep, just kicking up your feet and relaxing for a short while will help your body to recharge.

6. Try a new soup recipe ~ With the chilly weather upon us, a warm bowl of soup can really do wonders for the soul.  Research a new recipe to excite your palette with new flavours.  If it's a hit, keep it on the dinner rotation for the rest of the season!

7. Spend a night with the girls ~ Whether it's out for a drink, dinner and dancing, or chatting all night on the couch, make sure to book in some quality time with your besties!

8. Refresh your look ~ New sweater?  Maybe a new lipstick?  Whatever you choose, treat yourself to a special treat from the season's hottest trends!

9. Donate ~ You can choose to donate your time at a place in need, or perhaps some items that you no longer use.  Either way, giving back to your community is always a wonderful gesture and a great way to spread some positive energy!  Don't forget about the food banks at this time of year, which especially need help during the Thanksgiving season!

10. Sign up for a new class ~ It's important to keep expanding your mind and to keep learning new things throughout life.  Explore a subject that you've always been interested in, or dedicate some time to master a skill you've always enjoyed.  Even though your schedule may be overwhelmed, carve out some "me-time" and explore!

Monday, 2 October 2017

MUSIC MONDAY ~ 10

In wake of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, I'd like to dedicate this week's music selection to all of the victims involved in this horrible event, as well as their loved ones. 

This song is also dedicated to all those who continue to suffer in Puerto Rico, as well as the many other areas of the world where tragedy has recently hit.  The world is hurting right now.  There is much need for love and understanding.  It is a time to set aside differences, and help our neighbour.   As the Dalai Lama once said, 


"Love and Compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them, humanity cannot survive."

The song below is by singer, songwriter and producer, Elisa.  The song also features guest vocals by Giuliano Sangiorgi, lead singer of, Negramaro.  As indicated by the song title, "Ti Vorrei Sollevare," which means, "I want to comfort you," the song discusses the desire to comfort and console someone who is hurting.  It discusses the need to hold onto love, and the need to hold on to one another in this world. 

To all those suffering and hurting right now: "Ti vorrei sollevare, ti vorrei consolare" ("I want to comfort you, I want to console you").  My heart goes out to you all.





Saturday, 30 September 2017

One Night in La Dolce Vita

This past Thursday, I had the privilege of experiencing "la dolce vita" firsthand at Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.  The event, entitled,  "One Night in La Dolce Vita," merged together Italian food, fashion, music and more, in efforts to raise money for the Oakville Hospital Foundation. With acute attention to Italian details and a variety of Italian inspired elements, the evening really did feel like a trip to il bel paese!

The experience began right from the parking lot.  As I stepped out of my car, I heard the sounds of accordion music fill the air, and immediately, I was reminded of the streets of Rome!   As I crossed the lot and passed the line of valet parking attendants,  I was not only greeted with the accordion music, but began to hear sounds of opera as well.  Once inside the venue, I could see where the opera music was coming from - the SOLO choir was set up just inside the entrance, greeting guests with beautiful melodies.  As I continued to make my way in, I was flanked by beautiful faux green hedges and marble-esque statues, which led to the grand rotunda area, where a delightful faux garden was set up, complete with "stone" benches and a fountain.  For a moment, I had a, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore" moment, and instead felt like I was back in Florence visiting the Medici gardens!

The statues weren't limited to just the entrance, they were sprinkled throughout the venue, as well as gorgeous lemon trees.  It was a touch of Tuscany, that melted my heart! Further to the beautiful decor was fantastic food.  The tastes included: an antipasto bar complete with fine cheese, cured meets and olives; melt-in-your-mouth truffled infused risotto; a seafood bar complete with oysters; meatballs in a rich tomato sauce; and a dessert station with traditional Italian cookies.  Then there were the drinks: a Prosecco ice bar, as well as a circular bar featuring a Tag Vodka signature cocktail for the occasion.  The goodies didn't stop there - various stores also offered tasteful delights throughout the night, such as cannoli from Harry Rosen and free coffee from Starbucks.

If you weren't enjoying the delicious food, you were definitely taking in the delightful entertainment such as posing with a Ferrari 458 Spider Convertible; watching 6x World Champion Pizza Acrobat, Jay Schuurman; having your hair cut by a celebrity stylist from Alibi Barber Shop; or having your portrait drawn by an illustrator.  Oh, and if you ever wanted to star on the cover of your own romance novel, well they had that too! Guests could cozy up alongside model and actor, Jack Greystone, for their keepsake portrait from the night.

Let's not forget about the fashion!  Various stores were featuring exclusives such as: previews of their new fall/winter 2017 collections; specialty collections curated for the evening; raffle prizes; gift cards; and small gifts with purchase.  Most importantly, 10% of sales from participating retailers was being donated directly to Oakville Hospital Foundation.  Furthermore, 100% of proceeds from the Silent Auction was being donated to the cause.

As if we couldn't get any closer to Italy that night, guests were spoiled by the sounds of international DJ, hailing straight from Milan, Gianluca Vacchi!  Making his Canadian debut at the event, his infectious energy and amazing music sets had the crowds dancing the night away!

As the event came to a close, guests were reminded of the most important reason we were there - the Oakville Hospital Foundation.  A large, $10,000 donation cheque from Raffi Jewellers, graced the stage as hosts, Tanya Kim and Brad Smith, announced that the evening had been a great success for the Foundation.   

Hats off to the event organizers as the evening was truly a night in paradiso, that benefit a great cause!

If you are further interested in learning more about the event and/or how to donate to the Oakville Hospital Foundation please visit the Square One - One Night in La Dolce Vita - event page.

Check out some great highlights from the event, below:



















Thursday, 28 September 2017

FALL CULTURAL FESTIVALS IN TORONTO



Fall has arrived, and while many are mourning the end of summer, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate the new season!  Aside from cozy sweaters (my fav!), pumpkin spiced lattes and mother nature's gorgeous fall palette, there are numerous festivals in the city (Toronto, that is) to join in on!

So grab that pumpkin-spice, sit back in your cozy sweater, and take a closer look at five great cultural festivals going on in the next few weeks!



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Francophone en FĂȘte French Music Festival

OLG Stage, The Distillery
September 21st-30th
www. francophonie-en-fete.com

Francophonie en FĂȘte is a non-profit organization committed to promoting French language and culture.  This festival, now in it's 12th year, delivers the best in Francophone entertainment.  Along with great music, the festival also offers preconcert wine and cheese events and educational workshops for teachers and students.



Toronto Oktoberfest

Ontario Place
September 29th-30th
www.torontooktoberfest.ca

This fun festival full of food, music and beer celebrates Bavarian heritage! The two day festival takes place in a Festhalle tent and outdoor Bavarian village complete with Bavarian-style communal tables and benches from Germany!



NuitBlanche
Multiple venues throughout the city
September 30th
www.nbto.com

This award-winning event has a little something for everyone!  The event takes place from sunset to sunrise, and includes a multitude of art installations situated in unexpected public spaces throughout the city of Toronto.  The event features local, national, and international artists.


Rutas PanAmericanas International Performing Arts Festival
Daniels Spectrum
October 5th-16th
www.danielsspectrum.ca

This unique international performance festival features artists from Colombia, Bolivia, New York, New Zealand, Venezuela, Argentina and Switzerland.  Activities include a mix of performances, master classes, cabarets, concerts, film and art exhibits.  Also featured, is a multi-day conference regarding arising issues from artistic programming.


International Festival of Authors
Harbourfront Centre
October 19th-29th
www.ifoa.org

The International Festival of Authors, otherwise known as IFOA, is "a celebration of words and ideas, of writers and readers."  Delight in the literary world for 11 days with a festival filled with readings, close interviews, panels, special events and free book signings!

 

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