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 Fête French Music Festival

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

Francophonie en Fête 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!

Monday, 25 September 2017

MUSIC MONDAY ~ N.9

This week's song is perfectly suited to the season - the song is entitled, "autumn" or as said in Italian, "Autunno."  

The artist of this song is, Noemi, a 35-year-old from Rome, who was was first welcomed to the music scene via the Italian version of the highly popular television series, "X Factor."  While she was eliminated in the 12th episode, she nonetheless went on to achieve great success with her music career, and is now one of Italy's top pop artists.

Her latest release, "autunno," has an upbeat, electropop vibe, while the lyrics speak about a cursed summer love that will make for a very difficult autumn, winter and spring.  For more about this "summer love story," check out the lyrics below! Don't forget to follow along in Italian as well, so you can learn some new vocabulary along the way!

Buon ascolto!  Happy listening! 



Monday, 18 September 2017

music monday ~ N.8

It's that time of the week again!  Music Monday! A little gift from me to you to help improve your Italian language skills, and brighten up your "favourite" day of the week! ;)

This week's edition focuses on singer-songwriter, Ermal Meta.  This 36 year-old musician, was born in Fier, Albania and moved with his family to Bari, Italy at the age of 13. He debuted on the music scene via the band, Ameba4, and eventually moved on to join, "La fame di Camilla."  Apart from some success with his bands, Meta also wrote songs for numerous popular Italian artists, before deciding to launch his solo career in 2013. Since then, Meta has received various awards from Italy's prestigious Sanremo Music Festival, collaborated with famous Italian music artists and participated as a judge on the popular Italian television show, "Amici di Maria De Filippi"

His latest hit, "Ragazza Paradiso" is currently climbing the charts.  This song is a romantic ballad, filled with praises for one's partner.  It discusses the positive impact one person can have on another, and the power of a profound love. 

***You can have the chance to see this song LIVE, as Meta will be touring USA and Canada starting Novemebr 2017. Check out www.mescalmusic.com for details.***




Sunday, 17 September 2017

HOW MUSIC AND LANGUAGE CONNECT

I have long been an advocate for using music to help learn a new language. This is one of the reasons why I use music when teaching foreign languages, and why I started Music Mondays on the blog.  Not only do I enjoy the cultural aspects that music can communicate, but it also offers the chance to learn a language in a fun and engaging way!  Through my own personal experiences and those of my students, I have noted that listening to music in a foreign language greatly helps in the language learning process.

Aside from 1st-hand experiences, research also proves the music and language connection.  One study in particular looked at the correlation between singing and foreign language learning. They found that singing enhanced the brain's ability to recall not only native text, but foreign text as well.  This recall of new language lasted up to 6 months after the original lesson!

Further research proves that music training in young children, greatly impacts their ability to learn a foreign language.  Musical training boosts the brains ability to detect subtle differences between sounds, which is very helpful when learning rules of pronunciation and intonation in foreign language study.  Music training at a young age benefits into adulthood as well, as the study noted that adults who were musically trained at a young age, had an advantage for learning foreign languages, over those who were not.

In addition to music, other creative ways to enhance the language learning process include watching foreign language movies, listening to a foreign language radio station and reading foreign language books.  In one of my recent blog posts, I discuss using these and other fun methods to learn language.  The post highlights the fact that these methods could easily be incorporated into ones everyday routine; this is especially important, as the key to learning new language is to try and immerse oneself in that language and culture.

I recently came across the following interview of Susanna Zaraysky, author of Language is Music, in which she explains the importance of music in language learning, as well as the use of other fun language learning methods like those mentioned above:


Happy language learning! :)

Monday, 11 September 2017

MUSIC MONDAY ~ N.7

This week's new music is by non other than one of Italy greatest rock stars, Vasco Rossi.  At age 65, Rossi is still "rocking on" and producing great music.  He is a legend in the Italian music industry, providing a sound track for countless lives, young and old.

With his music experiences staring at the young age of 13, when he won a singing festival for youth, Vasco has literally grown up in the music business.  During his career, he has released over 25 albums, and written over 250 songs.  He is comparable to North American music legends, like U2 or The Rolling Stones, and just like them, he too embodies the true definition of "sex, drugs and rock n' roll," with his carefree lifestyle and provocative lyrics.  He even describes such a desired life in one of his greatest hits, Vita Spericolata.

Currently, Rossi is chart topping with the song entitled, "Come Nelle Favole", which means, "Like in Fairytales."  It's a beautifully romantic song, which describes the heights two people can achieve when in love.  Vasco describes this idealistic life with beautifully simple aspects such as laying on the couch with one another talking about nothing in particular, or drinking and laughing in a bar together. Once again Rossi enraptures his fans with his prophetically styled lyrics, raspy signature voice, and heavy-riffed melody.






References: BBC Music and Billboard
Lyric Translation: lyrics translate.com; revisions by Viva la Dolce

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Fendi inspired fall fashion

With the weather turning cooler everyday, fall fashion is slowly taking over the style scene.  One of the fun trends found in this year's season is the faux fur cuff, as seen all over the European runways from Italy to Portugal to Spain. 

The Italian brand, Fendi, has included this trend in a variety of their pieces, including this gorgeous jacket below:


If you're loving this trend as much as me, you will want to check out the selection of similar (and slightly more affordable!) pieces I have rounded up below.  Happy Shopping!












Tuesday, 5 September 2017

MUSIC MONDAY ~ N.6

With a Labour Day long weekend full of family festivities, this week's Music Monday got shifted a bit, however it is here nevertheless and it comes packed with a powerful message!

The latest instalment in Viva la Dolce's Music Mondays is by one of Italy's top hit makers, Giorgia.  This woman has reigned queen in Italy's music scene for years, and she doesn't look like she is stopping any time soon.  Her latest work, "Credo," is a beautiful, upbeat song, which promotes the idea of believing in oneself. It's a song about forgetting about the past, and looking to one's future and all the possibilities one can dream of. As the song's catchy chorus states, "Credo nella luce delle idee, che il vento non può spegnere, io credo in questa vita, credo in me" ("I believe in the light of the ideas, that the wind cannot burn out, I believe in this life, I believe in me.")

This song is fitting during this time of year, as the fall season and back-to-school, bring forth a time of change.  I hope this song will inspire you, as it does me, to always believe in yourself and what you can achieve!  Happy listening!

As usual, the lyrics with full translation are below the video. However, I have also chosen to feature the video with lyrics so that you can follow along as you listen.




Translation by Lyricstranslate.com with edits by Viva la Dolce

Thursday, 31 August 2017

SAVING YOUR SANITY THIS SCHOOL YEAR!

It's that time of year again... back to school!  

I've teamed up with a bunch of great bloggers to help you zen your way through the upcoming school year!  Get your back to school season started right with our amazing round-up of back to school posts!  Here you'll find everything from meal planning to travel safety and so much more!



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Back to School Driving Safety Tips | Blog Link: Fab Working Mom Life

The back to school season means more traffic for us commuters and more opportunities for not-so-safe situations on the road.  Let's take a moment to think about back to school safety and specifically driving safety.





DIY Rose Gold Mamma's Toolbox | Blog Link: Little Bit of Learning

Back to school is about getting the kids organized...But it also means time for you to get yourself organized for the new school year.  Learn how to make a DIY Mamma's Toolbox! Now you can organize your mom cave or office, because who doesn't want to look at a beautiful chalkboard floral designed toolbox while they work?  Pick and choose the labels that fit what YOU need this back to school season.



Back to School Books to Prepare for that First Day | Blog Link: Live Love Learn Gracefully

It's back to school time!  There is no better way to prepare (other than shopping) than by reading a few back to school books.  Whether to help prepare or ease the jitters, this list is perfect!



A Letter to My Future Self as School Starts BackBlog Link: A Life With a Little 

It's time for the kids to go back to school, but around here we aren't going back to school just yet.  This letter to myself is all about giving yourself permission to say no during the school year.  As moms, we need to give ourselves a little grace in the midst of school bag packing, carpooling, sports schedules, homework helping, and everything else we do regularly.  Take a moment to relax, read up, and give yourself permission to say no sometimes.



Meal Planning and Why it's so ImportantBlog Link: A Boy and His Mom

Back to school is a busy time for everyone.  Getting back into routines, extra-curricular activities, making lunches, and homework can all take up time in your day.  Having a meal plan in place and having the right foods in your home can reduce the stress of feeding all the hungry members of your family and give you more time for your other daily activities,



Back to School - Breakfast 3 waysBlog Link: Mama Indulgences

Is it just me or did the summer fly by?  With "back to school" slowly creeping up on us, I am sharing easy 3-in-1 breakfast recipes.  That's right: 1 base 3 different ways!



Kid Friendly Overnight OatsBlog Link: Travels With Tots

A healthy breakfast is so important to make sure your kids start their school day on the right foot.  Here's my recipe for fast, easy, nutritious, and delicious overnight oats that your kiddos (and you) will love!


 

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