musings about food, travel, creativity and life

A Little Sun, A Little Inspiration

The sun is out today—woo-hoo!  We need that!  

These last few months in California with one atmospheric river after another have been challenging.   To stay strong and resilient, everyone had to look for hope and inspiration wherever they could.  For me, some of that inspiration came from live on-line presentations.

🧡One event was an interview through Book Passages Bookstore in Corte Madera that rang every bell in my Italian psyche.  It was about a new book called Italy on a Plate: Travels, Memories, Menus by Susan Gravely.  The interviewer was Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun.

Susan Gravely is one of the founders of Vietri, a United States based wholesale company that imports colorful ceramics, glasses, linens and other table goodies from Italy.  I have always loved the Vietri designs but had never bought any.  Then just after I bought the book, Cosi’s other mother gifted me with my first Vietri plate and bowl!

The book tells the heartwarming story of how Susan with her sister and mother started Vietri 40 years ago. The book is a large format book, with simple colorful photographs of table settings, food, the artisans and their families, and the Italian towns and areas Susan frequents during her business sojourns to Italy. It also includes many recipes.

The writing is very personal and appealing, the tone warm, enthusiastic, and appreciative. She says her life’s work is “…encouraging people to gather to enjoy meals around a table, and to celebrate life together.  That is what Italy is about, what Vietri is about, what this book is about, and what I am about.”

A few take-always so far?  I would love to visit Positano, I would like to try quite a few of the recipes—Ribolitta (Tuscan Bread Soup), Pasta al Sugo di Noce (Pasta with Walnut Sauce), and Risotto with Red Radicchio, and I would like to improve my Italian. “Ma come no!”

The website for Vietri ( has many fun sections, including a blog called Meet Us in the Piazza, and a way to order the Italy on a Plate book.

🧡The second event was a talk called “Turning Stress Into Strength” by Dr. Elissa Epel, author of The Telomere Effect and The Stress Prescription.  Dr. Epel spoke about our needing some stress—“good stress”—to challenge us, but that too much chronic stress needed to be broken up, not carried around.  She talked about techniques for de-stressing, including many familiar ones—“Go Green” as in with being in nature, having pretty views to look at, and hearing the sounds of nature; soothing music; deep breath states; deep rest; silence; exercise; the Mediterranean diet, “Joy, purpose, gratitude,” and many more.  Now I look forward to remembering these techniques during whatever “atmospheric river” may be coming next.  

🧡And I look forward to more sun.  As some of the lyrics from “Here Comes the Sun” say… 

Little darlin’, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter

Little darlin’, it feels like years since it’s been here

-Here comes the sun,

-Here comes the sun, and I say

-It’s alright

Little darlin’, the smile’s returning to their faces

Little darlin’, it seems like years since it’s been here

-Here comes the sun,

-Here comes the sun, and I say

-It’s alright

YES—more than alright!

4 thoughts on “A Little Sun, A Little Inspiration”

  • I think these women are your long lost sisters with that wonderful Italian culture of celebrating with food.
    I do see some danger for you in all of the beautiful dishware. I suspect you will have more then one before too long.
    Who would ever imagine that we would have more winter sun here in Washington then in California . I think CA was long over do for a “Fill Up”.
    Enjoy the beautiful bounty mother nature will provide from all of the water. Hope to see you in town next month.

    • Ah, yes—I do resonate with all that that family has created and experienced❣️👏. And I love the name of the book. And yes on all of the benefits from the rain—-and still…bring on the sun🌼. Look forward to our next encounter❣️

  • Lynn, sending you some sunshine and warmer weather (finally) from Sun Valley! Loved your post! It’s 56 degrees here today. Yay! There is still about 10 feet of snow piled up everywhere…. But, great for skiing, and today’s temperatures make me think that spring is finally coming. Will explore “Italy on a Plate,” thanks for the great tip. Hope to see you and John soon !!

    • What a delight to hear from you, Lenore, and to hear of your warmer temperatures and spring a comin’. We are having a string of sunny blue sky days—so good for the spirit! Looking forward to seeing you this summer👏❣️. Take good care💓

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