Thursday, 31 August 2017


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!

*  *  *  *  *

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!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Music Monday ~ N.5

For this week's Music Monday, Viva la Dolce is featuring the sounds of 22 year-old, Francesca Michelin. Her song, Vulcano, (Volcano), has recently entered the charts, and is steadily rising.

With back-to-school just around the corner and cooler temperatures on the way, this song is the perfect fit for this time of year.  You will note that the lyrics step away from the typical sand, sun and summer romance that we have been hearing in some of the past Music Monday features over the last few weeks.  Even the video takes a nod to the changing seasons as Francesca tries on a couple different jackets over her metallic one shoulder top.  

In this song, the key vocabulary word is volcano, or as stated in the song, vulcano. As the singer discusses an all-consuming love and the state of confusion it is leaving her in, she mentions many other words starting with the letter V, such as:

Volontà -  will/desire
Vagare -   wander
Vertigine - confusion (N.B. this word typical means, vertigo, however in the song it is being used in the figurative sense)

Have fun listening and learning!

Thursday, 17 August 2017


Last year I took a short break from blogging to focus on my growing family and new home renovations.  Anyone who has undergone home renovations, especially complete overhauls, understands the amount of time and focus it takes to get things right.  I am happy to share that all went well, and with the help of kitchen and bath designer, Viktoriya Dacosta, I was able to make my dream kitchen come true!

If you can't already tell from my blog and social media feeds, I'm slightly obsessed with European culture.  Through the influence of Italian and other European cultures I was exposed to growing up, I have always been fascinated by the lifestyle of those "across the pond."  Furthermore, their design aesthetic has always appealed to me, and so, it only seems fitting that I was naturally drawn to design a kitchen with european elements.

Although I had a design idea in mind for my new kitchen, I still wanted to consult with an expert on the layout and functionality of this future space.  That's when I contacted Viktoriya Dacosta, Accredited Kitchen and Bathroom Designer. Viktoriya was excellent to work with; not only did she offer smart solutions when it came to design functions such as layout, storage and lighting, but she also quickly understood my style and therefore was able to offer suggestions that complimented the design elements I had chosen.  After explaining to Viktoriya the layout I had in mind, and showing her the various tiles, countertops and cabinets I preferred, she confirmed that my kitchen definitely had a "european vibe."  In our chat below, she elaborates on this comment, and further explains European kitchen design overall and how it differs from that in North America.

*  *  *  *  *

VLDolce: What led you to a career in design?

VD: I have always been artistic.  Ever since I was little I was enrolled in art classes, and even studied with a well known portrait artist in Toronto.  So from a young age, I learned the principals and elements of design. Then in high school, I majored in art, and took some technology classes as well.  My "ah-ha" moment came when I had to complete an assignment where I created a model of a dream home. I loved the tech side of it but also the fun, colourful side of the design as well.  That's when I decided, I want to do this!

VLDolce: What would you consider the biggest difference between European and American kitchen design?

VD: The lifestyle is actually the biggest difference, which then contributes to the kitchen designs.  Europeans live day to day; they go to the market on the way home and cook and eat what they bought that same day.  Therefore, everything is compact.  North America on the other hand, focuses on big and chunky.  Its the "Costco lifestyle" - stock up the fridge and freezer.  Therefore, appliances in North America are wider and deeper.
Also, in Europe, the kitchen is usually a part of the living area.  Therefore, they usually panel appliances to hide them when they are not in use.  Some of these European design elements are now coming to North America; I would say within the last 5-7 years, you can see a desire to catch up to the European style.

VLDolce: When you saw the style and finishings I had chosen for my kitchen, you commented that my kitchen had a "european vibe."  Can you elaborate on what you meant by that?

VD: Your kitchen has a very streamlined design.  For example, even though the fridge is of North American size, we chose to fit a counter depth model, which causes it to flow with the counter and be hidden, which highlights the European style.
In Europe they use durable materials in their kitchen that imitate the real thing (ie. quartz countertop instead of granite or marble), as they do not renovate as often.  Your selections of quartz and laminate materials also reflect that European design choice.
Furthermore, your kitchen plays with matte finishes, glossy finishes and textures.  For example, you went with lacquer upper cabinets, and then opted for laminate textured bases. 
Also, you included a hidden appliance, as you panelled your dishwasher.  Since your kitchen and living area are open concept, it is nice that the cleaning area is hidden from view.  You only see the sink, but nothing else.  The panelled appliance creates a continuous look with the cabinetry, which is very common in European design.

VLDolce: When I was choosing between tiles, I found that most were made in Italy.  The designs were absolutely gorgeous, and I just couldn't resist the stunning marble! Is it safe to say Italy is the top choice for tiles?  What would be comparable?

VD: Yes, Italy has beautiful stone.  Italy is one of the top three driving forces in interior design (Paris and Spain are the others).  Tile suppliers choose their products from Italy whether they are real stone or not, because they are one of the leaders in the field.

VLDolce: What are some of the hottest trends coming out of Europe right now, and what can we expect for the future?

VD: The newest thing coming out of Europe right now is a porcelain countertop.  They basically cut one huge slab for the counter. It's very different, very sleek in design.

As for the future, expect a lot of integration.  For example, cook tops that are integrated right into your countertop.  You don't see them when they are not on, and therefore can use the countertop normally when the cooktop is not in use.  Also, there will be a lot more integration with technology.  For example, automatic hood fans that sense when to turn on.  As well, fridges with bluetooth so that way you can make your shopping list and connect it to your phone.  I would say that North America is about 10 years behind European design.  

*  *  *  *  *

A big thanks to Viktoriya for providing Viva la Dolce readers with some great insight into European kitchen design! For more design info, you can reach Viktoriya at As for these beautiful photos, they were taken by Toronto-based photographer Jennifer at Jennifer Images.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Music Monday ~ N.4

Another week, another Italian summer hit coming your way! This week's edition of Music Monday features the duo Benji & Fede, alongside singer Annalisa, with their song, "Tutto Per Una Ragione."

This duo was first released their music through YouTube, eventually making their way to Italy's prestigious singing contest, Festival di Sanremo.  Although they didn't have any luck there, they did eventually catch the eye of a talent scout from Warner Music Italy during a music tour throughout Italy's piazze (town squares), and well, the rest is history!

This musical number talks about a summer romance, and the strong connection between two individuals who believe that everything happens for a reason.  Like most Italian summer hits, the song makes reference to the beach, and it also has that typical Italian "live in the moment" vibe. Check it out below!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Music Monday ~ N.3

For this week's edition of Music Monday, we have another hot summer hit, or tormentone estivo, as they call it in Italy.

The song, entitled, "L'esercito del Selfie," is by Takagi and Ketra, and features vocals by Arisa and Lorenzo Fragola.  This is the first artistic debut by Takagi and Ketra, who normally work behind the scenes as producers.  The song, whose lyrics were written by Tommaso Paradiso (member of Italian indie pop music group, Thegiornalisti), touches upon a controversial topic, as it discusses the negative affects of social media on society's social and communication skills.  This much debated topic is highlighted in the song by lyrics such as, Siamo l'esercito del selfie, di chi si abbronza con l'iphone ("We are the selfie army, who gets tanned by an iPhone"), and Mi manchi in carne ed ossa ("I miss you in flesh and blood"). 

When asked in an interview with, why they chose to base the song in an older era, the duo explained that their aim was to create a link between vintage sounds and lyrics that couldn't be written in 1960s (if you're interested, you could watch the Italian interview here). 

If you're wondering who the elder gentleman is presenting the song in the video, it is none other than one of Italy's most renowned television hosts, Pippo Baudo. He playfully reminds at the end of the song that he invented the term, "tormentone."

Check out this fun and thought-provoking song!  

*translation of lyrics taken from with minor revisions by Viva la Dolce 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Picnic Italian Style!

The weekend is upon us and for some of us in Canada it's a long weekend!

Looking for ideas on what to do?  Why don't you plan a picnic?!  But not just any old picnic...instead, plan a picnic Italian style!

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to experience Italian picnics first hand on our summer trips to il bel paese (the beautiful country, aka Italy).  Since my family hails from the Abruzzo region, picnics in the mountains were a common treat!  Most especially during Ferragosto in Italy, which is a public holiday celebrated on August 15th.  I remember, the first time I saw breaded cauliflower at a "picnic," I truly realized that Italians simply know how to do it best when it comes to food.

Since it was a "picnic," my aunt had prepared gourmet food in transportable, individual portions. Aside from the "breaded cauliflower bites," we enjoyed chicken cutlets on a bun with grilled vegetables, bocconcini and tomato skewers, a mixed bean salad, fresh bread,  and of course, an abundance of fresh fruit! For dessert?  Homemade crostata, with espresso (kept at a perfect temperature in a thermos, of course! ;) ) The experience definitely influenced my future picnic expectations, to say the least.

If you're drooling over your keyboard imagining such a delightful meal, then you'll be happy to know that I gathered a few great recipes below to help you plan your own fantastic picnic, "Italian Style."  Buon Appetito! 

*   *   *   *   *
Bocconcini and Tomato Skewers

A refreshing appetizer that can be made even more delicious with fresh ingredients from the garden!  Try Williams Sonoma's take on this dish!

Mixed Salumi (Cured Meats) and Formaggio (Cheese)

Another great option for antipasto is a mixture of salumi (cured meats) and cheeses.  Salumi such as, prosciutto, salami and sopressata pair nicely with breadsticks or foccacia bread.  For cheese options, make sure to mix up your plate with both fresh and firm cheeses.  Fresh cheeses can include options like, ricotta, burrata, or fresh mozzarella; while some firm cheese options include Asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Toscano.  Of course, don't forget the olives!  As well as, any pickled vegetable, like artichokes or eggplants.  You can find further details on how to create the perfect antipasto platter on 

Riso Freddo al Tonno (Cold Rice Salad with Tuna) 

Italians are known for their amazing risottos, so it's no surprise they changed up their famous rice dish to offer a lighter, summer option as well! This dish can be made in a variety of ways.  Skinny Taste features a great version with capers and lemon juice - two of my favourite ingredients!

Bean Salad
Bean salads are a great summer dish! They are an easy go-to dish, as they usually have minimal ingredients and take little time to make.  Since they are nice and light they make a great side dish; however, in some cases, the dish can be a meal on its own!  Check out Inside the Rustic Kitchen for a great bean salad that can be whipped up in less than 20 minutes!

Lemon Crostata

While fresh fruit is important to include in an Italian picnic, it is nice to have a little dessert with your espresso too! Check out Viva la Dolce's Crostata Recipe to learn how to make a delicious crostata from scratch! 

photos 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 


site design by Kiki and Co.