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…

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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

It Is Coming | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

I have stayed away from some of my activities, especially blogging, as you might have noticed my absence. For more than six months I have dealt with an ergonomic problem on my right hand caused by too much computer usage, but this down time did not discourage me from continuing the most important things. Stubborn, disciplined, high tolerance for pain and goal oriented, that’s what makes me.
Despite all pains and sometimes the impossibility to move my hand as I wanted, I went on anyway to write the fourth book I had planned for this year 2018.
The Road To Top Of The World is coming in September!

©The Road To Top Of The World by Valentina Cirasola

I cannot call it a novel really, it is a book of short stories, a mixture of my memories of the region growing up there, my impressions of the new region of today, some history, use, customs, traditions, stories and experiences made with a group of Americans I took there with me.
So many things are locked up in my drawers of thoughts, it’s about time they all come out in some form of communication or another.

The region of Puglia exists at least since the 11th century, but now tourists of many nationalities are flocking to Puglia, as if fresh water was discovered. Everyone wants to taste, feel and see the region. A couple of years ago, an Indian Maharajah got married in Puglia and brought 800+ people along from India.
For more than 10 years, Hollywood has found characteristic spots and special corners to film there many blockbuster movies.
Tourists used to land in Puglia only to take the ferry-boat to Greece and showed no interest to even spend a few days visiting, but now they land in Puglia, stay for a while and cry when they leave.
Even though I am an interior/fashion designer by trade, TV producer and author of three other books, I wanted to write outside my trade this time, for pure enjoyment and fun. Living in California didn’t make me forget who I am, what my roots are and what Puglia taught me in terms of values, traditions and morals.

It all transpires from this book: The Road To Top Of The World.

The above picture is the draft of the book cover. It is a colorful book of 40 chapters corroborated by many colorful pictures in each chapter.
Stay tuned for the launch at the end of September 2018.

By the way, after many natural solutions and so much money later, I bent to my young doctor’s wish to shoot a bit of steroid into my right hand tendons.
He revived my hand and made a new person out of me, reborn with more gumption. Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com 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

 

Dwellings Of The Myth | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

My trip in the South of Italy finished before I could visit the opening of “Dwellings Of The Myth” an historical personal contemporary art exhibition by the sculptor Girolamo Ciulla, a Sicilian artist transplanted in Tuscany. His art composed of travertine, bronze, iron, ceramic, wood and marble sculptures has been placed in the Sassi, caves of Matera, between rocks and ancient churches, in a mystical land, where earth’s vibrations are high and can be felt on the skin. This exhibition is a modern reinterpretation of classic divinities in the Mediterranean culture. He sees Demetra, a goddess of harvest with flowing hair and the Aurigae, the charioteer constellation as modern, poetic interpretation of today’s life.

I remember when going to Matera was almost an impossible task on impervious winding roads, especially in the winter with snow on the ground.  People who didn’t own a car, couldn’t even find a convenient train to reach the town. Usually, in the largest cities nearby, private car owners organized themselves as taxi services, collected people at a conventional corner, that they established as their stop and took people to Matera back and forth.

(Click on each photo to view it larger)

Today, Matera is a modern town, bustling with new ideas, energized by Hollywood producers who chose this site to film many famous productions, the European commission has declared the town the European cultural centre for 2019, and despite the rolling events and happenings, Matera so far has managed to preserve the ancient look of that town I used to know.


(Photo Above: Source Google Search)

(Photo: Girolamo Ciulla – http://www.sassilive.it)

Sculptor Girolamo Ciulla has dedicated a stone to Matera as a symbol of distance between his native town of Caltanissetta, Sicily and Matera. In his imagination distances do not keep people apart but make them closer. Girolamo Ciulla’s exhibition will be open until October 14, 2018 and I missed it. I am wondering, other than local Italians, how many travelers will visit the Sassi just to enjoy this exhibition.

Photos Source: https://www.arte.go.it)

In my mind, there are two kinds of people trotting the world: the tourist and the traveler.
The tourist roams aimlessly the streets of foreign countries, takes meaningless pictures and eats tourist food. The traveler wants to learn, enquires, listens to local sounds, appreciates local folklore, ventures in unusual places, tries out new things, writes notes, talks to people and eats local food.

Next year will be fun to be in Matera again, a lot will happen due to nomination of the town as cultural centre for 2019, and I want to be part of that fun. 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

Life Happens | Valentina Cirasola | Designer

Being surprised? I don’t like it at all, especially if it disrupt the regular course of my life.
Six months ago, I woke up with locked fingers on the right hand and no pain. What the heck is this I thought with stupor? I wanted to take a hammer a beat it to get it open, but I did not. I massaged it instead until the finger warmed up and opened. I didn’t think anything was wrong and went on doing the usual. The next day, I woke up and there it was, a locked finger again and for the next three days it happened every morning. Irritated enough I visited a doctor. The diagnose was Dupuytren’s Contracture, a shortened of a tendon that commonly happens in men from the North of Europe. What does it have to do with me? I am a female and from the southern Europe. It wasn’t it. Apparently, computer work, a load of hours on the computer  can trigger this ergonomic problem and I am culpable of that, I admit it.

I refused any medication and decided to go with natural medicine. Six months later, many essential oils applications, a new Contour roller mouse at a whopping $265 that I can use with both hands, acupuncture, hand therapy, a costly splinter, and a lot of natural remedy, I am still at the starting point. The finger hurts like hell, the splinter is in the way (of course, the idea is to prevent the hand from closing and grab something) and my life seem to have taken a sabbatical. I put on slow motion writing blogs and other things I do. Cutting with a knife is difficult, my cooking has been affected.
I drive a stick shift car, thus driving has become challenging. At a young age, I learned to do my manicure and pedicure, which I used to do in about an hour for both, now with this ergonomic problem I enjoy the tears more than the manicure itself. Drawing for my work, knitting and sewing is totally out of the question. My garden….is growing, but in the wrong direction. It’s so hard to believe one finger can cause all of this and it is so uncharacteristic of me to write about it.
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

In Europe when someone is incapacitated, even temporarily, there are all kinds of home services one can draw from, such as hairdresser, manicure-pedicure, doctors, nurses, cooks, tailors, even a daily grocery arrives at home with only a phone call. They are convenient home services that alleviate small and large problems. In America if life happens we are on our own.


Life sometimes plays tricks on us when we are the least prepared. Just six months ago I was like a train going at a 1000 mile per hour. Now, I have to be thankful for all the activities I can do even in slow motion.

However, it is not the end. I am stubborn and pain resistant.
While I am repairing my finger, I am editing my studio and my house heavily, something I have wanted to do for a long time.  Getting rid of things no longer needed is important to breath, feel free and allow a new energy in my spaces.
My clothes are a hard to eliminate. I have unique and original clothes, it’s very difficult to get rid of them, of well… they will go under a heavy chop as well.

By the time this blog is published I will be on the plane going to far away lands.

I will be roaming on cobble stones again. 

I will eat spectacular seafood dishes every day.

I can smell the sea from here.

Tasting food is my primary goal during my trips, I will meet nice people in beautiful panoramas and will discover new things. I will stay away from emails, social sites, no blog, no phone calls, no computer, only me, my camera and occasional travel notes. Forgetting the world will be one way to forget my painful finger.
“Loving myself is my magical wand” ~ Louise Hay.
Life happens…..the only way to cope is to deal with it.  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

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