Saturday, July 28, 2007

I'm a schmoozer!

Thanks to Jessica in Rome who handed me a Schmooze award. I am quite honored as this is my first blogging award.

Aw, shucks!

So what is the schmooze award? I'm quoting here from Jessica's blog:
“As it goes, schmoozing is the natural ability 'to converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection. Good schmoozers effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way.' "
So now I get to pick 5 bloggers who have the power of the shmooze.

nyc/caribbean ragazza I love reading about her high-powered life in the midst of the crazy LA movie scene. She's got some great insights and stories.

Tracie B. at My Life Italian has a fantastically funny outlook on living the expat life in Italy. Plus she's from Texas so I have a soft spot for her.

Kataroma always has an intelligent and usually witty comment to say and I find that her experiences as a "third culture kid" in Rome often hit home with me.

Texas Espresso is also a fellow Texan who deserves the schmooze award. I find her blog interesting from the other perspective of expat. By this I mean American married to an Italian but living in the US. Since I know so many Americans married to Italians but living in Italy I like to read about her life on the other side of the pond.

Jeff in Puglia is a shmoozer too. He gets the award because I like to read about the expat life from a man's point of view. There are so many women expat blogs out there (nothing wrong with that, mind you) and this is a nice breath of fresh air from Puglia.

So now, if I've got this right, I post the directions to participate:

1. Write a post with links to 5 blogs that have schmoozed you into submission.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the award.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Power of Schmooze Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella

I was first aquainted with this store in New York City when my then-boyfriend/future husband introduced me to this antique line of hand-made soaps, perfumes, and toiletries. I was immediately seduced by the packaging and gorgeous display of products and I can honestly say it was love at first sight.
So when we went for a last-minute mini jaunt this weekend and our friend Francesca graciously offered to watch our dog, I immediately went to the SMN store here in Rome to pick her up a little something nice.
The pharmacy dates back to 1221 when Domenican friars settled in Florence but was officially opened in 1612 when Fernando I di Medici gave them permission to open their doors to the public. The original recipes of balms, lotions, essences, powders and soaps are still followed to a large extent. The quantities are limited and quality is the highest priority. I assume this is why many of it's products have become historically famous. Caterina de’ medici, queen of France, took with her to paris the Eau di Cologne (later renamed to Acqua di Colonia). A very famous liqueur is Alkermes which held the sales record in the nineteenth century; also held in high regard are Elixir di China and Liquore Mediceo which was named in honour of the Medici family and the Elisir di Edimburgo, an excellent bitter. And for you horror movie fans out there, Hannibal Lecter (aka Dr. Fell) personally visits the farmacia in Florence and chooses a scent which he spritzes on a letter he sends to Clarice. This is actually how they track him down to Florence because his identity is revealed on the videocamera in the farmacia. In the book I believe he orders a custom-made perfume for Clarice prepared and sent by the farmacia in Florence.
My favorites are the Pomegranite bath salts and the latte soaps.

There is a nice if somewhat academic video that explains more detail about the history of the famacia here.

Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella
Corso del Rinascimento, 47 Tel.06-6879608-6872446

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth of July

It's the Fourth of July which means two things: BBQ and watermelon!
Unfortunately I won't be indulging in either of those today but I am turning to the depths of my many fond memories of past fourths and secretly relishing the taste of those hamburgers, potato chips, and hotdogs...mustard only please; skewered tofu and veggies(summer of '01); and that special feeling of biting off chunks of watermelon with the juice dripping down your chin as you spit the seeds into the wild yonder. (hey, i was just a kid and those seed spitting contests were the best!)
*just as a side note, Italy has the worst hamburger buns I have ever tasted in my life. They are dry, yucky, and the middle soaks through with liquid while the rest just crumbles away mercilessly into your fingers and on the plate. Yuck yuck yuck. And they taste like cardboard.*

When I was young the annual fourth of july parade started at the end of our street so every year we had prime seats on our front lawn. Before the paraders lost their stamina, before the floats started to come undone, (or to be more precise bikes with crepe paper and balloons), before the sun started beating down and forcing everyone under the safety of the magnolia trees, we were there. Bright and early excitement bursting over our folding lawn chairs to see who has the best costume and best float of the parade. After they announced the winner we were always soarly disappointed and the hypothesis that perhaps the contest was rigged because every year they chose the ones that sucked the hardest started to form in our fragile little minds.
We would spend the day swimming and slathering sunscreen on our skins. A few snowcones (rainbow flavor was the only way to go) and cokes and we were set until night falls. This is when the fireflies would come out and we would chase them catching the magic in glass jars. Of course when the boy across the street started to smear the ones he caught on his clothes to make them glow it somehow ruined the magic. But he was a weird kid.
The fireworks usually started at 9pm sharp and lasted for about half an hour. And of course we had our very own sparklers which kept us entertained for a good 10 minutes until we finished the whole box and whined for some more. The black cat was my sister's favorite but it scared the crap out of me. In fact anything that had sparks of fire flaming in all directions and made loud noises scared the crap out of me. If it was high in the air with about a mile between me and it, fine. But if it was on the ground lit by a 12 year old pyromaniac, i ran screaming the other way.
Those were the days when everything felt safe and the only fear was the crazy kid across the street. The days when staying up till 10pm was really late. The comfort of my mom and dad was just an arm's length away and I had not a worry in the world.
ahhhhh, memories. Times have obviously changed and the last 3 fourth of July's I spent in nyc were tinged with a touch of fear. Maybe nobody else felt that way but I sure did. But I tend to be a bit on the paranoid side. You can't really blame me after growing up with a freak neighbor who is probably in jail or wanted at large now.
So I wish everyone a happy and safe fourth!
Today, by the way, is also Garibaldi's birthday. He was a brilliant Italian soldier who helped in the unification of Italy. There are many monuments in Rome attributed to him but I don't know my Italian history very well (shame on me!) and I don't have fond memories of Garibaldi as I do of the 4th of July so I'm not going to talk about him. Oh, except there is a statue of Garibaldi in Washington Sq. Park in nyc! How's that for being an international icon!