Monday, 16 March 2020


It's a crazy time... It's a scary time... BUT that doesn't mean we can't still have fun!

With schools closed for the next three weeks, we are all searching for ideas on how to keep our children educated and entertained.  Seeing as many families have had to cancel their vacation plans this March Break, I specifically came up with ideas on how to still "travel" with your kids via fun cultural activities and games.  

I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to share my ideas on CP24 Breakfast yesterday, Sunday, March 15th; they are listed below, with links (please note links are affiliated), for anyone who may have missed the segment!

Enjoy and stay safe my friends!
Remember...keep positive - VIVA LA DOLCE!


1. Sticker Activity Books

Stickers are always a favourite with kids, especially those in the 3-6 age group. When paired with fun and educational activities, they can become a great way to entertain little ones.  I suggest the follow books: The Travel Activity Book by DK and Ultimate Sticker Book: Flags Around the World by DK; these books have interesting activities such as, learning how to say hello in a variety of languages, creating you own passport, linking landmarks to countries, linking landmarks to flags, and creating your own sticker flags.  Activities such as these offer great opportunities to teach children not only about different cultures around the world, but also about travel essentials and preparation. 

2. Board Games  

There are a variety of board games that can help children learn about different places in the world.  One in particular is, Ticket to Ride Board Game First Journey by Days of Wonder.  This game is a great way for children aged 6+ to learn a little about geography, as well as cultural landmarks.  The object of the game is to try and claim the longest routes on the map, by connecting the cities shown on their tickets.  As children do this, they "travel" around North America, and in the children's version of the game, see the landmark associated with each particular city.  What're more, there are a variety of different versions of the regular game (for ages 8+), including Ticket to Ride Europe , Ticket to Ride New York, and more.

3. Learn a new language via favourite movies

There is nothing wrong with a little bit of screen time as long as it is limited.  Make the best of your children's' digital experiences by turning movie time, for example, into a cultural educational experience! This is done by simply changing the language settings on the movie.  For example, if your kids love Disney's Frozen 2, change the audio to French and add English subtitles in the settings menu.  Since the kids are familiar with the storyline of the movie, they won't be overwhelmed with figuring out what's going on as well as what's being said.  Instead, your children can enjoy hearing their favourite characters express new phrases in a different language that they themselves will most likely start repeating! 

4. Cooking school with friends and family

Although gatherings are discouraged these days, there's nothing stopping you from doing a virtual cooking class.  Jump on a video call with a friend or family member, and enjoy going through lessons together on how to make your favourite cultural dish.  If you can, do a little research on the dish beforehand, so that way you can educate your children on how it connects to the culture of focus. 

Saturday, 21 December 2019


As we gear up for one of the most important holidays of the year - CHRISTMAS! - you are most likely busy trying to cross off the many "to-dos" on your list. If throwing a holiday soiree is part of your plans, then you will want to check out my CHCH Morning Live TV Segment!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting CHCH Morning Live and sharing my top tips for throwing an Italian style soiree.  Read on below and watch the segment for some helpful insight on how to add a little bit of "dolce vita" style to your next gathering!

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In relation to that mentioned in the video, check out some further options below to help you create the perfect Italian soiree!


Italian Welcome Sign Benvenuti

Mangia Mangia Sign

Italian Cucina Sign


Malanzana Pasta Set 

Le Cadeaux Palermo Dish Set

Linen Tablecoth

Toscana Tablecloth

Limencello dish cloths


Classic Aperol Spritz



Suppli - Rice croquettes

Grilled Italian vegetables

Charcuterie Board


*This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, 15 July 2019

A Twist on the Aperol Spritz

It's summer which means warm, sunny days and drinks on patios!

While there is an endless amount of refreshing beverages to sooth your pallet, one that is a must-try this summer is the classic Italian aperitivo, Aperol Spritz.  This drink, is not only pretty to look at with it's vibrant orange colour, but is wonderfully refreshing and light in alcohol content with Aperol containing only 11%.

While this drink has existed in Italy (northern Italy to be exact) since the 19th century, it remained for the most part a regional beverage preference.  However, due to Aperol's marketing efforts, it has become quite an international sensation.  According to Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau in their 2016 book, "Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, With Recipes,"Aperol's success in exporting the Spritz all over Italy (and beyond) lies in the genius of translating the spritz culture of the north and the symbolism of the drink as a modern, tangible incarnation of the la dolce vita of the 1950s and a new generation." 

As such, young and old alike, are enjoying a spritz or two during these balmy summer days - and they have many different choices to choose from! The classic version of this drink is made with the simple ingredients of Prosecco (or white wine), Aperol, club soda, and a garnish of orange slices. Oh and don't forget the ice!  Aperol, as you may be wondering, is a bright, bitter-sweet liqueur infused with oranges, herbs and roots.  It's low alcohol content makes it a great selection for aperitivo time - a social gathering at the end of the workday where one enjoys a drink with some light snacks, also known as "cicchetti." 

Check out below for the classic Aperol Spritz recipe, and some fun modern versions as well! (N.B. until recently the classic recipe called for three parts wine, two parts Aperol and one part soda)


Monday, 4 March 2019


This music Monday, Viva la Dolce is excited to highlight an Italo-Canadian singer... ME!

In hopes of inspiring others in pursuing their passions, I decided to share my music with you all, as it is something very near and dear to my heart, and something that I have dedicated myself to my entire life.

As my mother tells me, I have been singing pretty much since I learned how to speak.  I remember as I little girl performing my favourite songs for friends and family; I would dress up Madonna style with white gloves and big bangle bracelets ready for my "show."  As I grew up, I performed in countless school productions and choirs, eventually writing and performing the graduation song for my class in high school.  Outside of school, I sang for a number of special events such as weddings, anniversaries, and national anthems, and continued to write my own songs.  Eventually, I was blessed with the most amazing experience - having a hit song on the radio!

The song, "Feel Alive," was considered a "summer hit," and landed on a dance album of the year.  It also led me to perform at a freestyle/dance concert being held by a local radio station, which was a lot of fun! It was truly an incredible experience, and one that I am so very thankful for.  I continued writing and performing, and was featured on a few more albums.  As I grew, so did my tastes in music and I began writing and performing music in different genres.  I got to work with so many wonderful and talented individuals, for which I am so thankful.

Over the years, I continued with my music, at times a little more and at times a little less.
However, it has always been there. When I worked in radio, my life was surrounded by music; while teaching language, I incorporate it into my lessons; when blogging, I highlight artists and new music.  No matter is going on in my life, I always feel a nudge to continue with my singing and love of music.

That's what passions do to us - they speak to us, they fuel us, they make us "feel alive."  It may not always be easy, but pursuing your passions is the greatest reward.  I hope you find the strength and courage to "take your passion and make it happen" in one form or another; do what makes you truly "FEEL ALIVE!"

Happy listening! :)

Thursday, 28 February 2019

A touch of Spring 2019

Like many, I have had just about enough of winter, and am longing for the warmth of spring.  As such, my mind is on all the fabulous looks for the 2019 Spring season!  

From florals to bright prints to exotic patterns, this season is filled with a lot of fun looks that will easily melt away any winter day.  Check out some of my favourites below!
Links (in order from top - left to right):

Monday, 4 February 2019


Hello February!  Can you believe we are already into the second month of 2019?  As usual time is flying!

For the second Music Monday feature of the year, Viva la Dolce is happy to feature new music from one of our favourite Italian bands, Ligabue.  The song, entitled "Luci d'America," is the first release off of the group's highly anticipated new album, which is set to be released in March.  Ligabue will also be kicking off a new tour this year, throughout Italy.

In usual Ligabue style, the song's reflective lyrics are juxtaposed with the band's classic guitar rifts, edgy vibe, and lead singer, Luciano Ligabue's, amazingly gritty chords.

Check out the video and lyrics below.
Buon Ascolto!

Sunday, 13 January 2019


Tiramisu is a classic Italian dish.  This simple to make, no-bake dessert with it's cafe-infused creamy goodness always hits the spot after a great meal!  

In many Italian households, it is often the dessert reserved for that special family dinner or  celebration.  Since it's such a huge part of the traditional Italian menu, many individuals share fond memories with this dish.  What's more, the word, "tira-mi-su," translates to "pick-me-up" - so how can you not feel happy after eating this dish?!

While the traditional tiramisu is made with marscapone, many individuals - including my mother - opt to use ricotta instead, creating a lighter version of the classic dessert.  Also, the classic tiramisu recipe calls for raw eggs, however many individuals choose to cook them to be on the safer side.  

Below you will find the recipe for this lighter version, and I promise you, it's pretty easy to make!

Hope you enjoy it! 

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1 ricotta (500 grams)
1 whipping Cream (500 ml)
1 pkg of ladyfinger cookies
3 cups of espresso coffee
2 pasteurized eggs
3 tablespoons of sugar
3-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

*If wanted you can add 3-5 tablespoons of liquor (such as brandy, rum or amaretto) for added taste.

Step 1: 
Pour espresso into a bowl and mix with alcohol.  Set aside.

Step 2:
Pour the whipping cream into a bowl; using a hand blender or stand mixer with whisk attachment, mix the cream on high until it forms stiff peaks (like the texture of ready-made whip cream).

Step 3:
Mix the raw eggs with the ricotta cheese, along with three tablespoons of sugar.  Using a hand blender or stand mixer with whisk attachment, blend until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. Fold the whipped cream into the yolk and cheese mixture.
*Note: If you do not feel comfortable using raw eggs, you can whisk the eggs and sugar together in the top of a double broiler (or in a heat-resistant bowl over a pot of simmering water).  Stir the mixture constantly over the low heat, until the temperature of the yolks reaches 160 degrees F. Let the egg mixture cool before blending with the cheese.  

Step 4: 
Get a standard baking dish (glass is always preferred), and set beside your coffee.  Grab your ladyfingers and VERY briefly dip them into the espresso (like one second - the cookies should still be a little dry after briefly dipping them).  Line the ladyfingers along the bottom of the dish.  
*NOTE: DO NOT flip the ladyfingers to coat the other side, and do not let them sit in the espresso for too long, as you will have a mushy tiramisu.  

Step 5:
Once you have the bottom of the dish fully lined, top with half of the custard mixture, spreading evenly over the layer of cookies.  Repeat step 4 with the remaining lady fingers, then top with the rest of the custard mixture, once again spreading evenly over the cookies.  

Step 6:  
Sprinkle cocoa powder on top.  Then, cover the dish tightly and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours or overnight.

Step 7:
Serve and enjoy!



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