Monday, July 30, 2007

Cucina Italiana

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or even just the past week, you may have picked up on a common theme that runs through the posts. Italy appears rather often. I’ll happily admit that I adore this country- the art and architecture, the people, the culture, the history, the fashion, the landscape, and


Italian cooking has been a part of my life since I was a little girl, and my Kansas-born mother learned to make the favorite foods of my father, an authentic Italian New Yorker. In my own home, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese are permanent fixtures in our pantry, and pasta makes an appearance on almost every dinner menu.

Italian cooking doesn’t require obscure ingredients or complex recipes. It’s all about intuition and cooking by feel. However, if you are a cook with ambitions to explore the realm of Italian cooking, I direct you to Marcella Hazan. Marcella is credited with introducing America and Britain to traditional Italian cooking and has published six fabulous cookbooks.

I recommend starting at the beginning with Marcella’s first two, “The Classic Italian Cook Book: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating”, and "More Classic Italian Cooking." I also like the later published “Essentials of Classic Italian cooking.”

Good luck, or as they say in Italy, In Boca al Lupo- in the mouth of the wolf!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer Reads

The lazy days of summer. Even for those of us who work, there is something about the warmer weather and the promise of a respite from the usual drudgery that makes us feel a little more free. Tomorrow, August will arrive. However, there is still enough summer left to make good use of that feeling of freedom to dive into a good book. Even if you don't get around to them this summer, here is my short list of favorite reads. Some are a little lighter than others, but I do believe that there's enough variety here to please an array of literary tastes.

Summer At Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
A light memoir in which Ms. Hart relates her experiences during the summer of 1945, which she spent working in Manhattan as one of the two first female sales pages at Tiffany's. Ms. Hart vividly describes glamor of WWII era old New York as seen through the eyes of a small towngirl from Iowa. A light and fun summer read written by a member of, as Tom Brokaw christened them, "The Greatest Generation."

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingslover
This newly released book by novelist Barbara Kingsolver chronicles a year in the life of her family after a collective pledge to eat only foods grown within their county lines. Well written and highly informative, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is a pleasure to read, as well as a wealth of information regarding the food we eat, where it comes from, and the enormous amount of effort that goes into growing it. I also love the fact that the book is co-written by Ms. Kingsolver's husband Steven and her 19 year-old daughter Camille. With the bountiful produce that graces this season, summer is the perfect time to read this illuminating book.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
I'm a sucker for anything to do with the Tudor family. My daughter teases me, claiming that I keep reading the same story over and over again, just in slightly different wording! That may be true, but of all the books I've read about the usual Tudor history, "The Other Boleyn Girl" is my top pick. It's juicy- filled with intrigue and narrated by Anne Boleyn's sister Mary Boleyn, who was Henry VIII's mistress before her ill-fated sister. The story is so good in fact, that it is actually being made into a motion picture with Scarlett Johansson as Mary and Natalie Portman as Anne. I'm sure it will be highly entertaining. In the meantime, pick up the book to to see what I mean!

Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
This book by an American writer who buys a villa in Tuscany has already been made into a largely successful film starring Diane Lane. However, the similarities between the book and the movie stop there. Well written and easy to read, Frances Mayes' observations on living in Italy and refurnishing her old home in the hills of Cortona will make you want to jump on a plane and do the same.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
David Sedaris is actually my daughter Alessandra's contribution to this list. He is one of her favorite authors. They share the same dry wit as well as a knack for zoning in on absurd aspects of a situation and then retelling the events in such a way that has you laughing out loud. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" is a collection of personal essays in which David Sedaris reflects on his struggle with the French language and the dynamics of his offbeat family among other amusing topics.

Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
"Auntie Mame" is another book containng colorful characters, namely the author's extravagant and dramatic aunt, Mame Dennis. The Plot: As a little boy, Patrick Dennis goes to live with his Auntie Mame in Manhattan during the roaring 20's. Chaos, adventures, misunderstandings, and hilarious circumstances ensue.

French Women Don't Get Fat by Mirele Guiliano
This book is a great guide on how to live a balanced life. It is written by a French woman whose husband is Italian. With this background, it goes without saying that she is a connisseur in la belle vie, or la bella vita. Whichever you prefer.

Tender At The Bone by Ruth Reichl
Another memoir, gorgeously written by the editor of Gourmet magazine. Ms. Reichl gives us the whole story from the beginning of her love affair with food. The book includes some of Ms. Reichl's favorite recipes, and I guarantee she will have your mouth watering within the first 10 pages.

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
Although this novel was written in 1925, it is still as evocative today as it was 82 years ago. Kitty Fane is unhappyily living in Hong Kong with her doctor husband when she begins an affair with a wealthy business man. When Kitty's husband finds out, he forces Kitty to accompany him on a medical mission into the heart China, which is being ravaged by a cholera epidemic. After estrangement as a result of Kitty's affair and confrontation of the brutal realities of cholera, Kitty embarks on a journey of self-awakening, a reassesment of her values, finding love and what is truly important in life.

Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
The original account of forbidden love between a society lady and her gamekeeper, banned in england until 1960. The novel is infamous for its detailed passages of the pair's sexual encounters, but the story is about so much more than their physical relationship. It is about growth, self-realization, and the stunning transformations we undergo when we fall in love.

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
This last read is another fluffy one, set in Renaissance Florence during the reign of the Medici family. The city is in tumult as a result the fundamentalist monk Savonarola, who decires the luxury, learning, and art that is Florence's trademark. The main character Alessandra Cecchi, the precicous daughter of a wealthy merchant. She has a talent for drawing and a curiosity about the timid young artist her father has comissioned to paint the frescoes in the family chapel. I won't give anymore anway- you'll have to read the book yourself!

I hope you found something to your liking among my favorites. For me, reading is both a pleasure and an escape, a way to see the world without going anywhere at all.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Making The Difference

When we hire employees at Rosanna, we look at the entire individual. And as a result, we have cultivated a work place atmosphere in which everyone is supported and celebrated for their diverse beliefs and lifestyles. We function as a family comprised of many different components.

I feel very lucky in our group of employees at Rosanna. All of them are highly competent, hard-working, innovative, and motivated. They also possess strong social consciences that have helped us infuse the company with more awareness of difficulties in the world, both local and international in scale.

The work our employees are doing is admirable and inspiring, and I wanted to share with you the causes they're passionate about, as well as what Rosanna is doing as a company to make a difference.

Volunteering and Community
Our employees are involved in a wide variety of organizations, many of which are based out of the Seattle area.

Natalie, one of our designers, just finished a great project at Children's Hospital. She led a group of young patients in the creation of a painting that was auctioned off to fund uncompensated medical care for families unable to afford the cost of medical treatment. The project was a success, raising a sizable amount for the cause.

Lauren, our PR and Media Coordinator, is an avid volunteer at Eastside Domestic Violence Program as a crisis line advocate, at Broadview Homeless Shelter for Women and Children as a tutor, and is beginning to volunteer at Planned Parenthood as well.

Heather, our operations manager, has channeled her enthusiasm for drill team by starting her own squad for 8-18 year olds, a great community builder and extracurricular activity for girls.

Our accountant Jen does her part by volunteering for Upward Bound, a national program that provides support for low income college bound students, as a motivational speaker and theater instructor.

One of our sales associates Sharon is a regular volunteer at Teen Hope, a homeless shelter located in downtown Seattle for teens from 13-17. She prepares meals, and helps the kids with homework and job applications. She also has an ongoing clothing drive at the office for Teen Hope. However, Sharon is also involved with the crisis in Sudan. She has just returned to the office after completing Bike for Sudan, a two month-long ride across the country, 4000 miles in 51 days. The donations she collected went to the construction of a health clinic and a well in a village in southern Sudan.

As well as having a group of committed volunteers, Rosanna has growing constituency of vegans and vegetarians. Their choice to abstain from eating meat, or any animal products at all, is socially responsible not only because it promotes animal rights, but because the meat industry in particular is a significant drain of natural resources.

To do their part in keeping the environment as well as their bodies healthy, we have a number of employees who are choosing to use alternative modes of transportation. Another of our designers, Jacqui, rides her bike 3 miles to work everyday. Sharon drives a hybrid Prius, and Heather and our warehouse manager Matt, who are married, use bio-diesel fuel in their car.

In Office
Annice, another of our designers, has started an office-wide recycling campaign. Now, we recycle plastics, glass, and any kind of shopping bags and magazines in addition to plain paper. Annice is also our office-wide food drive organizer. We have two drives a year, with the food we collect donated to Seattle's Northwest Harvest Food Bank.

Profits and Proceeds
In addition to changing our daily habits around the office, we have also begun to donate a portion of our proceeds to various organizations. Currently, a percentage of the profits from our Beach Bottles line goes to the Nature Conservancy. We are also working on a few lines that will be unveiled for next spring with proceeds going to nonprofit organizations that benefit the environment, increase world health, and fight hunger in the United States.

Because our offices are located very near to both of Seattle's major athletic stadiums, we are also looking into renting out our parking lot out for extra parking on game days. If approved, we'll divide the proceeds among the various organizations our employees are involved with for donations.

I am very proud of everyone at this company for their generosity and altruistic spirit. At Rosanna, we are committed not only to creating unique products, but to supporting each other, giving of ourselves, and making a difference in the world.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gracious Guests

One of the most valuable lessons in social decorum that my mother taught me was how to be a good house guest. During our annual month sojourn in Italy, we often have a succession of guests who stay for a few nights or an entire week. Past guests of ours have included Italians, Americans, and English, business associates, family friends, and friends of my daughters'.

We have been fortunate in consistently hosting guests who have been charming, polite, sociable, and flexible. It is always a pleasure to spend time with friends like these.

Possessing the knowledge of how to be a gracious guest is useful and much appreciated by those hosting.

There are a few simple things that a guest can do to make his or her stay easier for the host. Here are some things that past guests have done for me, and that I also do when I have been a guest in someone else's home, that make the stay enjoyable and relaxing.

Making It Easy
When you arrive and when you depart, try to schedule your travel originating from the closest or most accessible destination possible. If you can reach the station, airport, car rental agency, etc. easily by public transit all the better. If not, try to find somewhere close by so that your hosts don't have to log many miles to pick you up or drop you off.

Saying "Thank You"
Sometimes a simple thanks to your hosts for their hospitality throughout your stay lets them know that you appreciate the energy they have put into preparing for your visit. It comes down to the simple fact that people like knowing that their efforts are noted and enjoyed. You don't have to arrive with an extravagant gift, but a bouquet of flowers or a small rememberance, such as a scented soap, shows your appreciation nicely. And regardless whether or not you come bearing gifts, a thank you note should always be sent after your visit.

Go With the Flow
First, try to turn off your cellphone or Blackberry, and control the urge to check your e-mail compulsively unless you have something truly urgent to attend to. Also, keeping your schedule and expectations flexible is foolproof way to ensure a pleasant visit.

Go The Extra Mile
Hosts love it when guests offer to help out. You don't have to do any heavy lifting, but keeping your room tidy, loading your dishes in the dishwasher, helping to set the table, or unloading dishes from the dishwasher (this one gets MAJOR points) alleviates a little bit of the stress that comes along with entertaining.

Applying these tips is easy and painless, and might just upgrade your visit from a good experience to a great one.

Happy Visiting,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An American in Italy- More Adventures in Umbria

I know that the last post was a little heavy on the pro-American sentiments, but this story is so good I couldn't resist sharing it.

Every year Perugia, the largest city in the province of Umbria, hosts a huge jazz festival in the middle of July. Artists from all over the world come to play, with many hailing from music captials in America like New Orleans and Nashville, Tennessee. Over the years, noteworthy artists like the Buena Vista Social Club, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Diana Krall, Dionne Warwick, and Keith Jarret have graced the stages of Umbria Jazz.

Last year, we were lucky enough to see James Brown there in one of his last performances. This year, we saw Sly and the Family Stone. We were very excited.

Sly's opening act was the soul and country music singer Solomon Burke. The self-styled "King of Rock n' Soul" was clad in an enormous purple sequined suit and a fur-trimmed cape. He was so huge that he had to sing from a throne, and he did not speak a word of Italian. Nevertheless, Solomon knew how to put on a show.

Dancing to his songs, including "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," "Georgia On My Mind, "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," and "Proud Mary," was a blast. I rocked out while our Italian friends looked on, a bit shocked and surprised at my exhuberance.

Solomon Burke is a great entertainer who knows how to work an audience, even an Italian one. He even invited the women dancing in front up onto the stage. I watched with amusement as a handful of women were hoisted on stage by burly security men, until my husband Mimmo elbowed me and said, "Look! Look! Alessandra and Francesca are up there!" I stopped dancing to take a look, and sure enough, there were my two daughters waving at us energetically from the stage!

Not only was I proud of America for being the birthplace of such incredible music, I was also proud of my daughters for being fearless, uninhibited, and unselfconscious enough to accept Solomon's invitation and climb onstage, dancing and singing all the way.

The King of Rock n' Soul himself, Solomon Burke!

Alessandra and Francesca onstage! (The two girls on the far left in the white shirt and the green sweater)

The Fourth of July

Although we're never in America for the holiday, my family never misses the opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July. For the past four years, I've thrown 4th of July parties while we're on holiday in Italy, inviting our Italian friends to join us for the festivities.

This year we had the biggest celebration yet. I set an elegant table for 15 with Rosanna dinnerware I sent over from America:
Red Dots salad plates, Ice Blue Chargers from our Dinner Party collection, and our Dauphine candlesticks with red, white, and blue tapers.

The dinner itself was a delicious mix of Italian and American culture. Good old fashioned hamburgers with all the fixings, including French's bright yellow mustard, penne pasta with spicy tomato vodka sauce, and scottaditto d'agnello (baby lamb chops on the grill dressed with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil.) The meal was served with gorgeous Italian red wine from a small hill town in Umbria: a good time was had by all.

For dessert, as per tradition, our friend Vito had a cake specially made at a local bakery. It was beautifully decorated with an American flag and dainty red wafer roses. Underneath the white icing was a flakey, creamy mille feuille pastry (French for 1000 Layers) that was devoured by everyone in reverent silence after a rousing round of "Happy Birthday America," sang, of course, in Italian.

Our guest list included a mix of Italians curious about American history and ready to celebrate, and two friends from home, one from the quintessentially American state of Texas.

Our Fourth of July party was a perfect way for our Italian friends to learn about what it is to be American. Although many of the guests didn't speak each others' native tongue, they managed to connect across cultural boundaries all the same. Thanks to the Fourth of July, our family had the unique opportunity to show our Italian friends the best of America, and to debunk the stereotype of the McDonald's eating, Coke Cola guzzling, obnoxiously loud and ignorant American tourist.

It is my belief that the best ambassadors for America are not the politicians and appointed officials, but regular Americans who treat their foreign hosts well and are a good guests- open minded, respectful, positive, and curious- when traveling abroad. It is through person-to-person connections that America will find a way to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the global community. This is the best kind of diplomacy we can hope for.

Benvenuti in America!

Hello Everyone,

We just returned this Sunday from our month-long sojourn in Umbria, rested and relaxed. Everyone in the family was sorry to leave such a beautiful country so full of soul, delicious food, and friendly people.

After living in Italy for a month, I've come home with a few observations. While I do relish many components of the American life, I believe that we Americans could take some cues from the Italians; people who know how to live La Bella Vita- The Good Life.

Take It Slow
Italians are masters of the art of slow living. Life in America goes at a breakneck pace, while life in Italy meanders, strolls, or floats along at a much more leisurely speed. People stop for an espresso or cappuccino on their way into work at a local bar and take small passeggiatas (walks) through the city after the work day is over. Unlike in America, the Italian city doesn't go to sleep after 9 pm. The streets are full of people, especially in the summer, until 1 or 2 or 3 am and not just with young people, but with families pushing strollers enjoying a late night gelato!

Italian life is wonderfully communal. Many homes are multi-generational, with grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, and cousins all living under the same roof. Other homes are duplexes or triplexes, with multiple families living in close proximity to each other, sharing meals, gossip, and small everyday delights and sorrows. In Italy, each person is loyal to his or her own neighborhood bar, butcher, grocery store, and newsstand. Even large cities like Rome and Milan don't have the impersonal chill that has frosted over so many American hubs like New York or LA.

Joie de Vivre (wrong language, the right sentiment)
Italians live with exhuberance and gusto. They laugh heartily, argue intensely, eat well, and love passionately. Every now and again, it's a good thing to let loose. Getting riled up, excited, and enthusiastic is a major stress release and an important part of a healthy, happy life.

If you can, I urge you to take a trip to Italy and experience this wonderful country for yourself. If not, take this advice and live La Vita Bella right here at home.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Exciting Happenings at Rosanna!

These past months, June and July, here at Rosanna have brought some new and very exciting happenings.

*As I posted before, I'm so thrilled to be featured on August's O List in the Oprah Magazine. I'd like to thank Lauren Wastal, my PR coordinator that aided the wonderful staff at O Magazine, Kat and Margo Spellman of the Spellman Company for never giving up and putting forth all of their effort, Mimmo, my husband and business partner for ordering more milkshake cups, and of course the wonderful people over at O for this honor. You can see my original post here.

*I'm also very pleased to announce that our products have been featured in some new publications, Connecticut Cottages and Homes, Chatelaine, Cooking with Paula Deen, and Weddingbells.

*Here at Rosanna, we're also gearing up for the New York International Gift Fair that takes place next month from the 11th-16th.

*Our American Bungalow nested mixing bowls are featured on a blog, courtesy of the very nice Marisa M, you can view the post here.

*I've made some new blogosphere/internet friends, check out Toni Wills' new blog and Sadie Olive's online boutique.

*Don't forget to enter your favorite table setting into our First Ever Table Setting Contest! The contest ends on August 31st and I can't wait to see what you come up with! I love seeing others' creativity shine through.

I hope that everyone is having such a fabulous summer as I've been lucky to enjoy!

Warm regards,

Prime at Any Time in Your Life

As a must have for every get away I go on, I always bring a new book.

While I was packing for Italy back in June, I decided to take with me Dr. Pepper Schwartz's newest book, Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years. Needless to say that it was a fantastic read.

Prime is a rare find because it tells a story that women don't usually hear- that in your 40s, 50s, or 60s you can still be sexually alive and sex can be a "snack" or a three course meal.

You can buy it here.

I hope you enjoy the next book you read,


While I was shopping in Perugia during my vacation in Italy, an unusual handbag caught my eye. As I examined it, I discovered the name of the company that makes it, Momaboma.

Momaboma is a company that takes vintage magazines, old records, t-shirts, even old classroom notes and creates wallets, handbags, portfolios, and messenger bags. Maurizio is the man behind this creative company and is inspired by the idea of constantly recycling to create new products. Momaboma's tag lines of "RecycledEstEthic" and "Invert the World," make it clear that his art has a purpose- to help the environment and to turn another man's trash into treasure.

I especially love the detail on his different creations- whether it's real shoelaces on his T-Shirt handbags or his personal classroom notes- every bag is unique and feels so fresh.

It's eco-friendly with an edge.

Although these creations are not available in the U.S., you can still view his wonderful and earth friendly collections right here.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Sodo Summer Sidewalk Sale

Tomorrow the Sodo district in Seattle is hosting its Second Annual Sodo Summer Sidewalk Sale. It goes from this Thursday, July 19th through Sunday, July 22nd.

Although, Rosanna Inc. is not participating this year, we do support bringing more retail commerce to our neighborhood. Please spread the word to your friends, family, and co-workers. The following merchants will have sales from 20% to 90% off retail price all weekend.

The following retailers will be participating this year:
Aqua Quip - Bamboo Hardwoods - Ben's Cleaner Sales, Inc. - Earthwise - Esquin Wine Merchants - EStone - Fidalgo's Home - Herban Pottery & Patio - - Island Life - Kelly Paper - KLC - Mezza Cafe - Minuteman Press - Moe's Home Collection - Outdoor Research Company Store - Pacific Fabrics & Crafts Outlet - Pottery Time - Renewal Windows - Rejuvenation - Silver Cloud Inn - Sodo Pizza - Viking Bank - Year of the Monkey.

I hope that our weather improves despite reporting that it won't!


Friday, July 13, 2007


I'm thrilled, ecstatic, excited, and overjoyed to share that our Milkshake Cups from our Soda Fountain collection are featured on O, Oprah Magazine's O List.

The August issue of O Magazine hits stands today!

And not only that, but our cups made the front page of the list. It's a gorgeous beauty shot of the collection, and we have a fabulous quotation from Oprah herself, "If these ceramic soda fountain glasses don't make you want to put Elvis on the jukebox and rock around the clock, I don't know what will."

And I think she's got a point.

It's an honor to be on the O List, and we are so pleased. You can be the first to buy the cups by clicking here. I love these cups because they are perfect for a cool milkshake on a hot summer's day or for a morning smoothie made of yogurt and fruit.

Here's the beauty shot:

Don't miss the other great items in the Soda Fountain collection such as the coordinated appetizer plates and ice cream cups.

Other collections that I think look great with Soda Fountain include our Sweet Dreams ice cream bowls, Cupcake plates, and Playing House cake pedestals, all of which can be found on our website under "Dinnerware."

Also, our long Napoleon Ice Tea Spoons in Pearlized Pink and Pearlized Aqua are the perfect length for scooping that last bit of milkshake or smoothie out of our cups. That way you can savor every last spoonful.


UPDATE: The Milkshake Cups are featured on O, The Oprah Magazine home page!
And you can see them here, too.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Favorite of the Month: July Edition: Fleur!

This month's product feature is our bright and bold Fleur collection. Recently the Tea for One from this collection was in Lucky on the last page that featured Seattle designers. The Fleur dessert plates are in this month's issue of Brides Magazine in the registry section. Brides Magazine recommends "add a green plate with etching-like flowers for a whiff of spring" when looking for fresh ways to transform your china. I personally love this collection because it's so bright and it reminds me of summer. This is also a collection that looks great for fall, too. For fall you can combine the green and black motif to accent a table setting of tan, orange, cream, or even brown.

I hope that everyone is enjoying this fantastic weather in Seattle right now, it's supposed to reach 97 degrees today!

You can buy a piece of this fabulous collection right here.