One Day In Albuquerque | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico on a Friday of last year for a speaking engagement the following Monday.  I arrived earlier to be a tourist, get to know the area, take some photos, do some shopping and discover food. Discovering food in the world is my original thing to do when I go to new places, I want to know how and what people eat.
I discovered a cozy coffee shop where I could get my Italian style espresso coffee every morning for the time I planned to stay in Albuquerque. The day for me doesn’t start unless I have a couple of shots of electricity from the espresso. The coffee shop was next to an original French bistro and I thought it was well planned. In one establishment I would take espresso, in the other, I would have a nice French crêpe breakfast.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

(Above: Le Troquet – French Bistro – Photo: Debbie H.)

Albuquerque is a quiet town, not crowded even on working days, I admired the silence and totally enjoyed the colorful mural on city walls. Weekends are even quieter, not much goes on downtown, but something funny happened on that Saturday. On the opposite corner from the coffee shop, I noticed a white Gothic Revival architecture, a bit odd building to find propped there among the heavy South-Western style architecture. It is very white and stands out among all the brown and terracotta buildings. It is the Occidental Life Building, a historic 1924 office building. In that quadrilateral between the coffee shop and the odd white building, I noticed women in the streets wearing black burqa and men wearing either turbans or Keffiyeh. In the French bistro, some men were hanging pictures of the Ayatollah. This was so odd and very weird, but I kept minding my business.

(Photo Wikimedia by Camerafiend)

Something funny happened on that Sunday. I left my hotel and directed myself to the cafe’, but only a few steps away from the Occidental Life Building, I saw men in military uniforms with machine guns in their hands, the streets filled with a lot of women wearing a burqa, more men in turbans and streets blocked by militaries. I was so scared, I thought a coup d’état had happened overnight. Frantically, I took my iPhone, searched on Google and nothing, I searched on Facebook and nothing, I checked most of the news and no mention of war, no coup d’état, nor a military operation. Timidly, I approached one of the militaries to ask what was going on… I never have drawn such a deep sigh of relief like that moment. All those people in costumes were actors filming one of the TV episodes of The Brave, a show never knew existed.


(Tobias and Marcos – Actors)

I was told that the landscape of New Mexico and especially Albuquerque is so generic that makes a good place to film any subject. Hollywood, in fact, has had a good presence there for many films through decades and still continues.

I had never heard or seen The Brave TV series, I was curious to learn about it, and perhaps see in action my two new friends, Tobias and Marcos the extras in the film. I watched it a couple of times and soon forgot about it. The series is too violent for my taste, but the picture with my friends in military clothes remains a good memory. 

I can still remember how I felt that day, the sun was high in the sky but my heart was very dark, I felt the agitation inside of me, I feared to lose my freedom, I felt helpless, I felt trapped, I was restless for three-four days after this episode and a year later, I am still talking about it, I will never forget it. Often, we take for granted what we have, our freedom has no price, let’s keep it that way.
This post is dedicated to my friend #TeaganGeneviene https://teagansbooks.com  who is trying to relocate to New Mexico, maybe she will find some movie set to write about it. Ciao,
Valentina
www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Valentina Cirasola is a storyteller by nature. Stories are very important to her design career to convey ideas because making someone’s home or personal images is not only about building around shapes, lines, forms, and colors. It is about the story one can create around their spaces and how they want to appear to others. She is the author of four books, all available on
Amazon – http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
The latest book just published is The Road To Top Of The World – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8

 

 

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Ready For Tonight | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

Halloween night tonight. I will make it fun, I am already dressed in my costume and doing the daily work activities.
I must admit that coming from a different country, I never understood this custom of going house to house asking for candies, wearing a “scary” costume. I will receive a herd of kids at my door tonight, some of them are not kids anymore, with a white sheet hanging from the head and two holes for the eyes, they mix with little kids and do what they do, but their height gives them away, they are teenagers or even young adults. I can’t hide the feeling of being skeptical of their intentions or even a bit scared.

A long time ago, when I was still new in this country, I wasn’t yet familiar with all customs and traditions. I noticed all the houses decorated with tombstones, skeletons, and gruesome things, but I didn’t pay much attention. The evening of Halloween, as I passed one of the homes, a tombstone opened up, a real looking dead person came out, a macabre music started and flickering purple, yellow, green lights got turned on. To say I was scared is very simplistic. I turned the car around and went to sleep at a hotel.


In my neighborhood, there are no kids. One year, they came by the busload from surrounding towns and were dropped off at each block. That was surreal!

Anyway, my candies are ready, I am too, and will make it a pleasant night. I will open my doors as a Renaissance woman of the 1300s. I think the costume fits well with my character and spirit.


I will make this rustic food. They are pâte brisée packets filled with Italian prosciutto and gouda cheese.

Happy Halloween everyone. Will you do something special tonight? Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com

 

 

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Valentina Cirasola has been in business as an interior designer since 1990 improving people’s life by changing their spaces. Most often she designs kitchens and wine grottos; outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms; great rooms and entertainment rooms. Her deep interest in food led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition, and well-being. Finally, she wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color.
Her fourth just published is
©The Road to Top Of The World – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8
Amazon: http://goo.gl/qNxXrB

Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

All Aboard The Fiat 500 Book Launch | Valentina Cirasola | Author

It’s a glorious time in my city “Top Of The World, CA” expressing my power and happiness in written words. I am at my fourth published book and not counting.
Some years ago, in a conversation with friends, I said, kind of jokingly, I was going to write books on design topics, the field I know best. Up to that point, I had sporadically written articles for the local newspapers and magazines. Then, I opened up my first blog on home design topics, it was the year 2008.  However, being a very talkative person, I felt writing only about design was a bit reductive for me, thus, a year later, I opened two other columns on Friday Fashion and The Good Life. The writing career started and I didn’t even realize it. So many things were locked up in my drawers of thoughts, it was about time they all came out in some form of communication or another. I started caressing the idea of writing books, and do you know what they say? “If you can see it, you already have it” meaning if you can see your dream, it is already a reality. Dreaming about something is not enough without actions. I set aside time to write and made appointments with myself every evening after 8:00 and nothing else was important until I finished and ready to go to bed.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

My fourth book, ©The Road To Top Of The World  is a travel narrative. The small car Fiat 500 is an Italian invention of the ’50s, a snazzy car intended for young people, students, creative and open minds. The Fiat 500 was always stuffed with rowdy youngsters having fun around the town. With the same concept and the same free spirit of youth, I am stuffing a group of creative friends in my Fiat 500, to travel to their locations and see what they do in life. Get to know them and make new friends, while they are helping me in a pre-holiday virtual book tour launch and will share it on their blogs, Facebook pages or any social platform they like. All aboard my friends!


©The Road To Top Of The World is a book totally outside my design trade and I am happy I wrote it. I made it into short stories, easy to read, each story has a beginning and an end, without relation to each other. It’s a book about my native region of Puglia, in Italy, seen with the eyes of a native (me) who decided to expatriate abroad and live like an Italian in a foreign country.

 

 

The snazzy Fiat 500 will start the tour from my location “Top of The World, California”. Some people have asked me if such a town really exists in California. It is not a city, it’s a state of mind, that is where I live every day and where all the fun things happen.

(Click on each photo to view it larger)

 

Teagan Geneviene is a friend and an author.
She is doing the launch of her new book at this time “Atonement, TN” in a party bus.
https://teagansbooks.com/2018/10/20/book-launch-party-bus-atonement-book-fair/

 

 



Domenico Cafarchia is a dear friend and an
Epicurean Entrepreneur-Marketer-Relationship Manager
Rooted in Apulian tradition yet uniquely Italian.
https://www.facebook.com/cafarchia


 

 

 

 

Kez Wickhan St.George is an internationally known author and painter.
We follow each on Facebook.
https://twitter.com/KezSt

 


 

Sherry Woodward is a friend and a painter.
She appeared on my TV show: Intuitive Painting.
Enjoy her colorful art.
https://www.dailypaintworks.com/artists/sherry-woodward-7835/artwork

 


 

Carra Riley is a friend, an author and a realtor helping people in transition living.
She appeared on my TV show: Transition Living.
http://cosmiccowpie.com/book/

 


 

 

Carolyn McAndrew is the owner of Picardie Press.
https://www.facebook.com/PicardiePress
If you are writing a book and need a publisher, she is the person to contact.

 


 

Melissa Muldoon is a friend and an author.
https://melissamuldoon.com

 

 


 

Georgia Lee London leads an online consulting agency, inspiring women to the greatness they deserve, with a business they love.
She is a great teacher.
https://www.facebook.com/BeBoldlyBrilliant

 

 



Alessandra Chimenti is a friend, a festival coordinator and the owner of Pizzicali, a musical group featuring folk music of Puglia and Southern Italy. https://www.facebook.com/AlessandraChimienti1990

 

 


Georgia Griva is a dear friend, a designer who also creates many things by hands. This is one of her pieces.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156213070918375&set=pcb.10156213074123375&type=3&theater

 

 



Orlando Biagio is a virtual friend and the Administrator of the group Italiani a Los Angeles.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1626346047580432


From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you and more who want to participate in my Fiat 500 pre-holidays virtual book tour launch.
Sharing is caring. Ciao,
Valentina

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

 

Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior-Fashion Designer working in the USA and Europe since 1990. She specializes in interior and exterior, color analysis, kitchen, bath, wine cellar, and outdoor kitchen designs. Often people describe her as “the colorist” as she loves to color her clients’ world and loves to create the unusual. Vogue magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She was a guest in a program on RAI – Italian National TV and has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15. She produces TV shows under her own label Valentina Design Universe and is the author of four published book. The latest book is ©The Road to Top Of The World – https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8
Amazon: http://goo.gl/qNxXrB
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Book Launch – Party Bus & Atonement TN Book Fair!

Being a cultivator of the good life, I would also like to add good reading and interesting authors that contribute to the well-being of people and entertain with their stories. I am reblogging Teagan’s Party Bus for the launching of her new book “Atonement Tennessee”.
Go to the link inside the post and see who else Teagan has on board her bus. We are all authors helping each other spreading the word.
This is fun! Congratulations Teagan with your new book “Atonement Tennessee”.

Teagan's Books

October 20, 2018

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit — Atonement in Bloom is finally published!  It was a wild ride, even after I finished all the work on the novel.  Meaning I’m not best pleased with all the bumps in the road from the Amazon take-over of Create Space…  Now, let’s get this party bus on the highway!

Atonement Blog Party Bus LoadedThe bus is headed to Atonement, TN, the fictional town of my urban fantasy series.  The stories in my “Atonement universe” are not romances, not science fiction, not family drama, or religious — and they certainly are not high-brow literature.  They’re whimsical, suspenseful, magical, fantasies set in our current real world. 

All aboard!  Beep-beep, yeah! The party bus is here. (Click here for theme music Magic Bus!)  Our first stop is in Connecticut to pick up Dan Antion, who has a handy guided tour…

View original post 944 more words

My Personal View Of A Far Away Place | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

 

With the release of my new book, I feel obliged to talk a bit about my hometown and offer the audience an unfiltered view of the city, just as I have always known it. Bari is a large sunny city in the South of Italy, located on the Adriatic Sea, six hours South of Venice and four hours East of Rome. It is the major city of the region of Puglia and it has been named the “Milano” of the South, without the fog and industrial smokestacks of Milano. Bari is lined with palm trees, embraced by warm weather, scorching, by some people’s standards, fresh fish, colorful people and a life of “dolce far niente” (sweet do nothing life).
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

People of Bari are warm, affectionate and sociable because the warm Mediterranean weather affects them. They know how to enjoy life, too much I say.
Their mornings start at the last minute when the notion of being late to work is a known fact. Too much traffic is always the excuse. Once they arrive and get briefly situated in their work post, it is already time for coffee. Around 10:00 am, coffee shops are brimming with people indulging in espresso, they like it hot, short and to the point, standing up at the bar counter, shooting the breeze with other colleagues while passionately tasting a fragrant cornetto (croissant). The talk during the coffee time is either the latest news on the local soccer team, politics, or the juicy romantic conquest from the night before and not necessarily in that order!

 

Via Sparano – Bari – Photo: ©Valentina Cirasola

On the way to school, students bite with enjoyment into savory focaccia made with Puglia olives and tomatoes (this is after they have already had a breakfast at home: caffe’ latte and biscotti). At 1:00 pm, on the way back home from school, they will go through the same ritual… they will have another slice of that savory focaccia that makes the dead come alive again.

Work in Bari takes a different twist. All businesses, stores and schools shut down at 1:00 pm every day to allow people to go home and have lunch with their family.
If you are a smoker, consider yourself lucky, as only tobacconist shops are open during this time to help feed your vices.

Between 1:00 and 4:00 pm people do whatever they like for relaxation, but having lunch with one or two glasses of wine is the most important part of that relaxation. In fact, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and no one will ever think drinking wine for lunch is a sin, you will never hear anyone say: “No wine for me, I must return to work” and they do return to work, alive and kicking more than they are in the morning.

At 4:00 pm, activities resume until 7:00 or 8:00 at night, the streets get clogged with cars and people crawl. Contrary to those who must return to work in the afternoon, there is a category of people who have full-time jobs whose hours are only from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Yes, people who work for the government are considered full-time workers with only six hours of work!
In the afternoon, students, independently wealthy, housewives, and teenagers stroll along Via Sparano, Corso Cavour, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza del Ferrarese, Piazza Mercantile and Lungomare arm-in-arm, like lovers, because Italians are touchy-touchy and kissy-kissy people and those are just a few of the most elegant places in the city, where to see and be seen.

The night stroll in Bari Vecchia is not completed without a cone of yellow butcher paper containing piping hot fried “sgagliozze” meaning triangles of salted fried polenta, fried in caldrons set in the street, outside the home of the woman who makes them. You must burn the palate with hot sgagliozze, otherwise, they are not good, say local people.

 

(Photo sgagliozze) – http://www.sabrinabarbante.com/my-favourite-italian-veg-street-food/

View of the Adriatic Sea from the Fortino – Photo ©Valentina Cirasola

Bari is composed of Bari Nuova (new city) and Bari Vecchia (old city). The charming old city is mysterious and magical, especially at night. This part of the city has the most character. Centuries ago, this was the heart of the city called “Muratti” quarters where a treasure trove of millenary arts, history and culture developed.

Bari Vecchia looks over the balcony of the Adriatic Sea like a lady waiting for her sailor. The aroma of algae and salt water mixed with the delicious smell of food coming from homes and restaurants lined up along the bank will fill your nose and permeate the air. On the spur of the moment, you might find yourself going to a seafood restaurant as if some magic spell has been played on you. No, you don’t need a reservation as restaurateurs will welcome you at any hour of the night as if they were welcoming you to their own homes. The people of Bari are night crawlers, so when I say any hour of the night, I do mean any hour. It is very common to find restaurants working at their full capacity at 3:00 am.

Photo Author: Nikater – Wikimedia

In Bari Vecchia “Castello Svevo”, a Norman-Swabian castle stands tall. Emperor Frederick II built it in the Byzantine-Norman-Swabian style. The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is another important historic landmark, proud of its presence in the city. There, celebrations of Christian Mass for Italian people and Orthodox Mass for Russian people downstairs in the Crypt happen together.

Barese people love to exhibit themselves while going to the theatre, dressed up to their teeth and competing with each other, it’s like going to the Oscar, they will show up with the best designer outfits and wonder who wears it better. The theatre Petruzzelli is the fourth largest in Italy for its dimension and stature, where many famous opera singers and international actors have marked the stage. Herbert von Karajan, Rudolf Nureyev, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Liza Minnelli, Juliette Greco have performed there, along with the unforgettable Italian comedians, dancers, opera singers, poets and cabaret singers like Eduardo De Filippo, Riccardo Muti, Carla Fracci, Luciano Pavarotti, Piero Cappuccilli, Giorgio Gaber.

Bari was founded by the Greeks and later became a Roman municipality. In 840 AD, Bari was attacked and dominated by Saracens pirates, an attack which lasted many years. The city was saved by a Venetian fleet and remained under the Byzantine’s power for some time. In the 12th and 13th century, Bari changed the ruling power and soon, the city passed under the possession of the Normans and Swabians (today’s Bavarians). The Swabians rebuilt the city, Emperor Frederick II revitalized all activities, the city port and remodeled the castle. In his court, arts and culture flourished. “Stupor Mundi” he was surnamed, meaning amazement of the world, attributed to his high taste for refinement. The history of Bari is so much more interesting than one short paragraph, this is a city a city with a rich heritage which continues to thrive and renews itself as civilization evolves.

Due to the favorable geographic position with easy passage to the East Road, the Middle Eastern countries, and the vicinity to the Mediterranean, Bari has been the main center for trade and commerce with Levantine countries. Modern Bari today is also an active economic center, with the second largest population in the South of Italy. It has become the principal center for technological research with the Polo Universitario and Technopolis, in addition to the annual Fiera del Levante, the international trade show where many countries exhibit their specialty and products.

The Road To Top Of The World, my fourth book, full of my photography and a lot of interesting stories is done and well cooked, it is available on Amazon  https://tinyurl.com/y7tuyfh8
Ciao,
Valentina
https://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-to-puglia-2/

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

As a writer and cultural promoter of Puglia, her native land, Valentina’s intention is to let readers feel and experience a new ”wheel of emotions”. She wants to encourage them to visit areas of Italy not beaten by massive tourism.  Through stories of local customs, art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping, she wants them to create their special adventures and live it up in Puglia! Check out her books on
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0

A New Colorful Dish | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

This Summer, I have worked very hard on my new book, my business, new study courses I attended and my right hand recovering from an ergonomic problem. Do I need an excuse to celebrate this Labor Day? Not at all. I am preparing a new dish after I saw someone eating it at a Mexican restaurant. People were sitting outside on the sidewalk of the restaurant, enjoying an early September weekend.

I don’t really know what they were eating, I just imagined and came up with my version. I bought corn tortillas, put them in pans with a star shape and baked them briefly, just enough to bend them. I filled the cavity with roasted chicken chopped up, October beans,  tomato concassé (finely diced), pieces of Parmigiano cheese, chopped dandelions, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It could not make up a dish any easier than this. My need to see colors in my food everyday is satisfied.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

 

For a drink, I always go a tasty Italian stiffener. It’s not hard alcohol, it’s an apéritif drink, Campari that is, pleasant, smooth and easy to drink.
It prepares in a split of a second: crushed ice, freshly squeezed lemon juice and Campari. Some people add fizzy mineral water to it.
This is a social drink to sip not to get drunk.
I have more tasty social drinks stored in my repertoire. Before the holidays, I will write about them.

 

For my American friends, I hope they enjoyed this Labor Day and 3-Day weekend. I hope they celebrated achievements, hard work and greatness. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com 

Valentina Cirasola has been in business as an interior designer since 1990 improving people’s life by changing their spaces. Most often she designs kitchens and wine grottos; outdoor kitchens and outdoor rooms; great rooms and entertainment rooms. Her deep interest in food led her as an autodidact in the studies of food in history, natural remedies, nutrition and well-being. Finally, she wrote two books on Italian regional cuisine and one book on color theory, in which she included one recipe for each color. Get your copy of Valentina’s books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Your Face Immortalized | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

Shooting a portrait these days is so easy, especially doing selfies with iPhones. Knowing a few photography rules, everyone can turn a good photography product.
In most photographs the background is not so crucial as it is in a portrait. Doing a portrait photo session in a studio, might intimidate the subject looking at all the cameras, the lights and the equipments, but doing the portrait session in an open space where a field of greenery accentuate the skin and color of the subject, and the view leads the eyes in the background is a better solution. Depending on the goal the photographer wants to achieve, a portrait done against a beautiful colored building, or against something that creates a shadow behind the subject will add much more interest than a portrait taken in an empty field.

This is a bad portrait of me in Barcelona. I look as if I was leaning on one side and I was not. The background is too busy, the taxi car, the busyness of the Sagrada Familia construction, my hair, scarf and top matching the color of some parts of the building, all work against me, plus I was wearing dark sunglasses, no one can see my eyes.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

 

This is a better portrait of an Italian woman. She is smiling and we can see her dark eyes, however as soon as we look at her face, we are drawn immediately to her two balls necklace. The background tells us what she does in life, she is a shop keeper.

 

Clothes play a big role in a portrait. Wearing something cutting edge, might tells the viewers the subject is in the arts. Wearing something conservative, a suit or dark colors might be indicative the subject is a professional. If a portrait will be seen quite often, such as on dating sites or social sites, one might want to consider doing a new portrait every six month to keep the clothes look up to date with fashion and the face always new with a new hair style or color.

The man making mozzarella shows happiness for the piece he just created for me before my eyes. His face to me is very expressive and sincere. His eyes invite to smile.

The idea of a portrait is to let your character or quirkiness come out through the image that will immortalize your face, not to stand in the photo frame like you were doing a chore. The man above is doing just that. He likes to imitate statues and puppets in their poses, a quirkiness which lets him out of his serious profession for a few minutes. I immortalized him when he least expected.

To extract the best details of your personality, a good photographer should keep the subject distracted from the photo shoot with talks and laughs.

If you want to watch the episode Sitting Pretty in my TV series Valentina Design Universe, my guest, a renowned photographer will reveal some of his secrets on how to shoot a portrait.

Have fun immortalizing yourself and make some remarkable memories changing your face, your colors, your style. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

In my 28th years of design business I am having more fun than ever, experience eliminates stress and dictates the pace of work. I am evolving in different directions while still helping people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. Colors are the main focus of my business today, changing people’s energy and life force just by introducing them to colors they would have never imagined. I am on TV once a month, that is my TV show produced under my label Valentina Design Universe, bringing fun topics to my audience.
Check out my books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/qNxXrB
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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