Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My New Blog

Ciao Bloggisti,

After almost seven years (I can't believe it), I've started a new blog. I can be found at Arlene Gibbs Décor.

A lot has changed since November 2005. Without this blog I wouldn't have met some of the incredible people in my life or moved to Italy.

Grazie mille to everyone who took the time to read nyc/caribbean ragazza!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Favorite Things: Italian Sparkling Wine

One of my favorite things to drink is a nice glass of Italian sparkling wine. This is a subject I didn't know much about, beyond prosecco, before I moved to Italy.

I felt it was time to get educated on this extremely important topic.

I attended Vinoroma's Sparkling Saturdays wine tasting. For a more detailed description of the wines and much better photographs, my friend Gina wrote about it HERE.

Hande is a fantastic sommelier. She chose five very different wines for us to taste.

I liked how Hande explained the history of the regions and the wines. It was informative and interesting.

My favorite wine of the evening was Belecasel's Asolo Prosecco Extra Dry. It would be perfect to pair up with shellfish or a fish risotto.

It was my first time seeing the newish Vinoroma space. It's fantastic. The cellar is over 900 years old. That's right, nine hundred. I may need to camp out there during the summer as I do not have A/C.


I took these photos with my new phone's camera.






Friday, February 24, 2012

Flashback Friday - Rick Astley - "Never Gonna Give You Up"

I'm working on a new spec script set in 1987. I had a great time putting together my script's playlist.

One of the biggest hit of 1987 was from this gentleman.



Buon Weekend!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do You Have An Interest In Pinterest?

Why is Pinterest everywhere all of a sudden?

It's been around for almost two years, but has seen an explosion in popularity recently.

I had lunch with a friend the other day and I mentioned that I had just signed up. She said I was the third person to rave about the site to her within the last 24 hours.

I read a large segment of the Pinteresti are women creating boards for weddings. I don't know any of those women personally.

Some dismiss Pinterest as Tumblr for chicks. Yes, 80% of the users are women. Yet, us silly women are driving more Internet traffic than Google+, YouTube, and a bunch of other popular sites.

I'm still working on my boards, but I think Pinterest is great. Basically, it's a visual bulletin board. What a brilliant idea.

Most of my friends who "Pin" work in creative fields; writers, potters, photographers, designers, cooks, advertising execs, etc.

Pinterest is going to be around for a while. A site has to be pretty special to stand out in a very crowded social media market.

Do you Pin? Why do you like about the site?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What the hell? Whitney Houston is dead?

I can't believe it. How is this possible?

I mean, I knew she had drug problems, but damn. Whitney was only 48. And now she's dead? Michael, Amy, now Whitney, all these super talented artists. Someone better tell me Prince is okay. I just watched Madonna on the Super Bowl, so I know she's alright.

I wore Whitney's debut album out.


I heard nothing but great things about her upcoming role in Sparkle. I was excited to see Whitney make her great comeback. I was just talking about the movie to one of the producers. Salim Akil, who directed Jumping The Broom, also directed Sparkle. It's a freaking shame.



Yes, Whitney was known more for pop music, but the woman had an incredible voice. A talent like hers is rare, so rare. I do think it's a gift.

She grew up singing gospel and soul music. Whitney was influenced by her mom, singer Cissy Houston, her cousin Dionne Warwick, and her godmother Aretha Franklin.

Whitney was one of the world's best-selling music artists. She broke many records and like Michael Jackson was one of the few black artists to "cross over" in the early days of MTV.

She was also a mom, model, and actress.

One of my favorite Whitney tracks is from her second album. Produced by John "Jellybean" Benitez, it was the JAM.


RIP Whitney Elizabeth Houston

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Get Your Cocktail On: Pierluigi

I walk past this restaurant all the time and noticed that they were doing some major renovations last year.

I heard there was a bar. I had to investigate.

My friend Courtney wanted to meet up to celebrate Jumping The Broom's recent NAACP Image nominations. We decided to check out the cocktail situation at Pierluigi.

We approve.

The vibe is very chill, quiet, and relaxing. The small bar is a perfect spot for a drink before dinner. The cocktails were well made and we had great service.

The prices are a little bit higher than places like Bar Fico, 12 euros for a cocktail versus 10. It's much cheaper than Hotel de Russie.

This a grown up spot located in a gorgeous location. We'll be back.

Ristorante Pierluigi
Piazza dé Ricci, 144
Closed on Mondays

Monday, February 06, 2012

NY Giants Win!


As a football fan, this was a great Super Bowl, better than those boring blowout Super Bowls.

As a Giants fan, it was way too stressful. The last two minutes were unreal. It was 4:30 a.m. when the game ended so I tried to keep my yelling to a minimum. It was not easy.

I am so proud of the Giants.

They did not start the season well. Everyone thought the Packers would destroy them during the playoffs. People keep underestimating Eli despite him being named Super Bowl MVP twice.

This team has some great younger players, like Nicks, Cruz. I'm excited for the future.

Watching the game in Italian (primo down! il fumble! Mamma Mia, il sack!) was priceless.

Madonna's entrance was fantastic. That is how you do a half-time show. The next person talking smack about her age needs to STFU. She's 53 and more entertaining than "stars" half her age. I didn't see this amount of snark when men who were older than Madonna performed during half-time. That said, I'm not loving her new song. Maybe it will grow on me.



Photos:Getty Images

Sunday, February 05, 2012

World Nutella Day - Banana Nutella Turnovers


Today is a great day. Hopefully the Giants will send the Patriots packing, but I digress.

It's WORLD NUTELLA DAY!

Two lovely ladies, American expats Sara Rosso at Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle Fabio at Bleeding Espresso, host this wonderful international event.

I really need to make something different, but I love the banana/Nutella combo. Next year, I will do my best.

This year I was short on time. I always have puff pastry in the freezer. This recipe couldn't be easier or more delicious. Enjoy.


BANANA NUTELLA TURNOVERS


2 sheets puff pastry (if frozen, defrost in fridge overnight or on the counter for approximately 20
minutes)
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup - 1 cup Nutella (to taste)
1 egg
raw sugar for sprinkling or cinnamon sugar (the latter to be added after baking)

Preheat oven to 375/190.5
Rough mash the bananas with a fork
Mix in the Nutella

In a small bow, add one tablespoon of water to the egg, beat to create an egg wash

Roll out each pastry sheet. You might want to put some flour down to prevent sticking.

Cut into 4x4 (inches) squares

Fill in center (careful not to overfill)

Brush edges with egg wash

Fold in half creating a triangle

Press edges together and use the tines of a fork to seal

Put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Brush top with the egg wash and prick the top with the fork to create tiny holes

Sprinkle with raw sugar (optional)

Place in fridge to keep cool while you prepare the other turnovers

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown

Let cool, the filling will be VERY hot

Once cooled you could sprinkle confectioners/powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar on the turnovers.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Flashback Friday - The Soul Train Line, Elton John, and The Jackson 5

Don Cornelius started the show Soul Train in 1970. It ran for over 35 years.

This week Don committed suicide. According to news reports he was very ill and in a lot of pain. His son found the body.

As a kid I watched American Bandstand and Soul Train every Saturday morning.

I do remember seeing Elton's performance in 1975. One of my favorite songs.




Okay the shoes on the first guy dancing in the clip below, look like something Lady Gaga would wear today. Every time I hear this song I think of "Pulp Fiction."

The Commodores used to be funky back in the day. I miss this kind of music.




I might have seen this episode during the height of my "I'm going to marry Michael Jackson when I get older" mania.




Wishing everyone, peace, love, and soooooooooul this weekend. RIP DC.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Get Your Cocktail On: Caffè Propaganda

I do drink more wine and fewer cocktails since moving to Rome. However, sometimes I like to have something other than a glass of wine, prosecco, or an Aperol Spritz.

Caffè Propaganda is a newish place that opened up in the Celio neighborhood. I don't think I will be eating dinner there any time soon after reading Katie Parla's review (maybe in time the kitchen's kinks will be worked out) but for cocktails... oh hells yes.

My friend Erica and her friend met up with me and two of my friends last Friday. We got there on the early side and sat at the bar.

The décor is gorgeous. The zinc bar and the chandeliers are from France. Stunning. I happened to see an interview with one of the architects on Leonardo. I think she also designed the restaurant 'Gusto.

The music was fantastic. I heard one of my all time favorites, Stevie Wonder's "As" and a version of Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" that I've never heard before. I thought I'd heard them all. Bravo, Mr. DJ.

The crowd was very different from the Piazza Navona/Campo dei Fiori Triangle, no students or tourists. It was older, late 20s and up. There was a couple sitting next to me at the bar who might have been, stop the presses, in their 40s.

Of course none of this matters if the drinks suck. Thankfully, that was not the situation. The two bartenders, Emanuele and Desirè, broke it down.

Emanuele worked in New York City and Desirè in London. They really know their stuff. I could watch them mix drinks for hours. Their seasonal cocktails were inventive and delicious. All night we kept asking them, "what drink is that?"

The bartenders were attentive and friendly, even as the bar started to fill up later into the evening. We spoke Italian to them and they spoke English to us so they could practice.

We did get a few antipasti which were yummy.

My friends and I had a great time and will return. I have to try their Moscow Mule. I wonder what the crowd will be like once high season starts.

Caffè Propaganda
Via Claudia, 15
06-94-53-4255








Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Favorite Things: St. Martin/St. Maarten Beach Bars

Last week I wrote about my favorite St. Martin/St. Maarten beaches. Here are three beach bars that I like.

Of course several of the beaches we go to serve good drinks, but these three are places we make an effort to go to just for cocktails.

Grand Case Beach Club, on the French side, is new place we checked after my sister heard raves about the views.

It's a great place to watch the sunset. It wasn't crowded at all. I get the sense only tourists who are staying at the hotel really go. It is somewhat off the beaten path, at the end of the main road in Grand Case.

We happened to be there during Happy Hour, 2 for 1 drinks. Very nice.

It's the most formal and romantic place I've been for drinks. Our French waiter was a big flirt.

Grand Case Beach Club
21 Rue de Petite Place
Grand Case, St. Martin






Karakter's has a completely different vibe from GCBC. Located on the Dutch side, it was voted one of the best beach bars in the Caribbean. I completely agree.

Their cocktails menu is fantastic. I always go to Karakter when I'm in SXM.

Karakter
Simpson Bay Road, 121
Simpson Bay, St. Maarten






Another must for me is Calmos Cafe. They are known for their wide selection of rum. I've never been there during the day, only at night or early evening.

If you can snag a chair and table on the beach, it's lovely. The French waiters are so friendly and very flirty. As was the waiter at GCBC. The waiters at Karakters are also friendly but don't flirt. Hmmmmm

You have to walk toward the back to get to the beach. They have a small gift shop in the front.

Calmos Café
40 Boulevard de Grand Case
Grand Case, St. Martin





There are a couple of places we'll have to try next time. There's a local spot in Grand Case that plays great music. I can't think of the name, but it's on the right as you leave Blvd. de Grand Case.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Last Week To Get Mrs. Tracey Higgins E-Book On Sale

The e-book version (5 out 5 stars!) of the novel is on sale for .99 on AMAZON.COM until January 31st.

We are waiting for the final proof for the Print On Demand version.

A big thank you to everyone who has written, Tweeted, or Facebooked, about my book. It means the world to me!

Our Twitter Feed
Our Facebook Page

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jumping The Broom Mondays - JTB is nominated for 6 NAACP Image Awards

I had no idea until people started e-mailing me.

THE HELP leads the nominations with eight.

Our film, Jumping The Broom, was nominated for six including, Outstanding Actor, Outstanding Actress, Outstanding Motion Picture, and Outstanding Writing For A Motion Picture.

The general membership (or as Hollywood folks would say, civilians) will vote and the winners will be announced on February 17th. These awards cover film, TV, books, and music.

The show will be broadcast live on NBC at 8:00 p.m. EST. I wonder if Angelina will be there. She's nominated for her directorial debut.

HERE is a complete list of nominees from The Hollywood Reporter.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Favorite Things: St. Martin/St. Maarten Beaches

I haven't been to every single beach on the island, but these three are among my favorites.

My family lives on the French side. During Christmas time (high season) we try to stay on that side of the island as traffic is awful, especially on the Dutch side. God help you if you're on that side of the island when one of the massive cruise ships docks.

When we do venture over to the Dutch side, we go to Karakter's. The beach bar/restaurant is located on Simpson Bay Beach, very close to the airport runaway. I love watching the massive American Airlines, Air France, and KLM planes land.

This beach is on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. The waves and current are pretty strong, as are the drinks. There is free WiFi. It gets packed, so get there early. Beach chairs are free if you're staying for food/drinks.

Of the three beaches, Karakter's has the most extensive menu and is known for their food and drinks.





Friar's Bay Beach is on the Caribbean Sea and French side of the island. It's the closest one to my parents' house.

We usually stay by Kali's Beach Bar but both places on the beach are popular with French folks, locals, and Americans. Kali is owned by a local Rastafarian and his "lady", Caroline, who is French.

Note: please my fellow Americans, do not go to a local spot on a French island and act all indignant when they tell you they don't serve Bud Light.



On the road to the beach we passed some cattle that were done grazing for the day. My seven year-old nephew said, "What the heck?"




Le Galion Beach is also on the French and Caribbean Sea side of the island. It's known as the Baby Beach. It's very popular with families.

The water is so clear and calm. My nephews (4 and 7) adore this beach.

There's a good beach bar and they will bring drinks and lunch out to you. It goes without saying the French bread is amazing.

Next week: Favorite beach bars.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Get Your Art On: Enel Contemporanea 2011, Carsten Höller

German artist, Carsten Höller's Double Carousel with Zöllner Stripes will be at the MACRO (Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome) until February 26th, 2012.

Erica and I went to the opening and it was my first time seeing the space. I will return during the daytime so I can see more of the building and the permanent collection.

The Carousel is a trip. Here is Erica's excellent POST (with pics) about the exhibit and the artist.

MACRO
via Nizza, 138
Tuesday to Sunday
11 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Entrance is free for the Höller exhibit.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Flashback Friday - LL Cool J - "Jingling Baby"

One night in St. Martin (still going through my pics), we were sitting on the veranda listening to my brother's iPod, drinking some Carib beers, and talking.

When it comes to hip-hop, I'm an old-school East Coast fan. I don't own a single Weezy song/CD and I know Rick Ross more for his rap on Kanye's "Monster" than for any of his own music. Hip-hop is a young persons game. Jay-z is definitely not the norm. Most MCs are done by their mid '30s.

My brother put "Jingling Baby" on. I haven't heard it in ages.

The video had me rolling. Look at the size of that cell phone and the ring on LL's finger! It reminds of the house parties I went to back in the late '80s/early '90s. Good times.

This song was recorded in 1989. My brother pointed out how LL was known for not cursing in his lyrics. I doubt he'd get a record deal today. What is your favorite LL Cool J (aka Ladies Love Cool James) song?

Buon weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Pioneer Woman show on Food Network

Can someone please explain this show to me?

I know Ree Drummond has a very popular blog. Reese Witherspoon is attached to a film about her.

I was able to catch a few shows on the FN channel when I was at my parent's home in St. Martin. They have a USA cable feed along with French and Dutch channels.

I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing. How did The Pioneer Woman get a TV show? Drummond could be the nicest person on the planet, but she is not a cook, chef, or very interesting on camera. She speaks in this weird monotone and comes across very smug. Don't get me started on the food.

I think the title of her show is misleading. When I hear Pioneer Woman, I see a tough life on the ranch, not someone who is married to a multi-millionaire from one of the wealthiest cattle ranching families in the state.

Speaking of the Food Network, what is up with Guy and him still wearing sunglasses on the back of his head?

Other random observations:

Hands down Ina, Giada, and the Neelys are my FN favorites. They are excellent cooks, the food is presented well, and they make things I would actually want to cook and eat.

I LOVE Ina's kitchen. She had a barn on her property converted into a kitchen. It's lovely.

Rachael Ray seems less perky. What happened? Her food continues to look unappetizing. Not a fan.

Paula Dean - why does she continue to shill for Smithfield foods? Their horrific farming and labor practices have been brought to her attention.

Sandra Lee - I can't even.

I liked Bobby Flay's show back in the day. Is it still on? Remember that killer outdoor deck/grill he had in the City?

Do you have a favorite?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My Word For 2012... YES

Late last year I told a good friend that my "word" for 2012 was going to be YES.

Michelle at Bleeding Espresso has written a beautiful post about her word UP here.

2011 was very stressful when it came to my career. I cannot have another year like that.

I must change how I'm responding to the fact that the industry I have worked in for over fourteen years continues to shrink. This is the new normal. If the economy started booming tomorrow, the situation in Hollywood would not improve.

Even during the best of times, it was rough going in Hollywood for writers who happened to be women. Being a black women who writes films? Bwahah. We are rarer than pink unicorns.

I won't give up though. At this point I really don't care about the dumb racist stuff some people in Hollywood say. The complete lack of understanding that there is a big ass world west of the 405 is hurting our industry.

I live in Italy and will be spending more time in the Caribbean. I can't worry about the people in Hollywood who insist on seeing me in a very narrow way.

Being in St. Martin and Anguilla these last few weeks has been extremely helpful and inspiring.

Instead of obsessing about the word NO from L.A. I'm going to work on myself and say YES to new opportunities.

I tend to over think things. It's not necessarily a bad trait. There is nothing wrong being organized and/or having a plan of action.

However, I can get so worked up, doubt takes over, and I start to second guess myself.

I was speaking to an expat friend who's struggling with her writing. She works in film production, but that is not her passion. We were talking about how we admire people who just go for it. We sit here and think, "I have to return to school so I could be qualified to do this creative job."

There isn't a right or wrong way to pursue a creative endeavor. An Italian couple were asking me about interior design for their office. Instead of saying YES and looking at the space, I thought, "Oh, I'm not qualified. I've only been interning a few months and I'm focusing on residential."

Another expat friend who had to completely reinvent her career in Italy, told me to I can't keep thinking linear. I should have at least seen the space, then get back to them. They know me and that I don't have a Master's in design. They were asking my opinion anyway.

All around me I see people who pursue their goals and make things happen for themselves. Yes, some have had help from their famous and/or successful parents or boyfriends. Connections can open doors, but it was still up to them to deliver.

I have spent a life-time believing in the whole go to school, climb the ladder, meritocracy thing. It was drilled into me that I had to work twice as hard in order to succeed. Okay, so why am I still broke?

In mid-life it's time to do something different.

2012 is going to be a great year. I'm saying *YES.



*Within reason. I won't be saying YES to the cold cuts dude that keeps asking me out.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Year, a Sale, and a Giveaway.



Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday.

In January, there are massive winter sales in Italy.

To celebrate the New Year and keeping with the saldi/sales spirit, my novel, THE REBIRTH OF MRS. TRACEY HIGGINS is now .99 (USD) on Amazon.com. TROMTH is currently a Hot New Best Seller!

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to get cracking on novel number two.

What are your resolutions? We are giving away a free Kindle version of THE REBIRTH OF TRACEY HIGGINS to one winner who will be selected randomly.

In order to enter, either leave a comment with your resolutions on our Facebook Page, or Tweet your resolutions with the hashtag #TheRebirthOfMrsTraceyHiggins or #MrsTraceyHiggins

Contest ends January 31st, 2012.

Here's to a great year ahead.