JUST DREAM IT: The Ümmiye Koçak’s Story

“It’s never too late to follow your dream.” Ümmiye Koçak was born in 1957 to a farming family in Çelemli village, near the city of Adana in Turkey. She grew up in a large family of ten children, two parents, and two grandparents. Although she came from a farming family, and despite the poverty that…

dolce botanica: Mindful Skincare Founded by Nature

We are here with Sandra Richey, the beauty and brains behind dolce botanica, a skincare line based in the Bay Area, California. I hope you enjoy this interview. First of all, what is dolce botanica? dolce botanica is a natural plant-based body and skincare line.  We create products that cleanse and moisturize the face and…

How Italy Paved the Way to the Birth of Starbucks Coffee

“La vita inizià dopo il caffè (Life begins after coffee). Any Italian believes this.” The original Starbucks Company gave birth to its first store at the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle in 1971 selling only whole roasted coffee beans.  When Howard Schultz joined the Starbucks Company in early 1983, the company only sold roasted…

Ten Rules for Cooking the Perfect Pasta Al Dente!

    1.    Never add oil to pasta water. As the old expression goes, “Oil and water never mix.” Oil is less dense than water and that’s why it will always float on top.  Adding oil to the water will not keep your pasta from sticking together and when you drain the pasta, the…

Via Appia Antica: Do All Roads Really Lead to Rome?

Do all roads really lead to Rome? The Via Appia Antica (The Appian Way) aka “Regina Viarum” (Queen of Roads) is one of the most famous roads in Europe and is considered to be one of the oldest in Rome. It was named after the Roman censor, Appius Claudius Caecus, who initiated and completed the…

WHY TRAVELERS MAKE THE BEST EMPLOYEES

We all know that traveling is fun, fun, fun, but planning it is not an easy task. It takes a lot of time, patience, effort, brain cells, and it also leaves a dent on our bank accounts.  However, like everything else, getting better at something needs constant practice and certain skills. In time, travelers learn…

Padre Pio: Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry

by Pia Henrietta (A tribute to Padre Pio on his 131st birthday on May 25, 2018. Originally posted on May 24, 2017) Padre Pio, or Francesco Forgione was born on May 25, 1887 in Pietrelcina, a small town and commune 15 kilometers from the province of Benevento, in the Campania region of Southern Italy. At…

Get a Room!

by Pia H. Foggia, Italia Le Colonne Bed & Breakfast on Via Luigi Zuppetta is one of Foggia, Italy’s treasures. Located in the heart of Foggia, this bed and breakfast boasts of southern Italian character, charm, and feel.  The rooms offer a balcony, a private bathroom, a very comfortable bed, a TV,  a desk, and…

A Victorian Christmas in California

Last December, I witnessed the clock as it turned back its hands for more than a century ago.  It all happened in Nevada City, California where almost everyone, locals and tourists alike dressed up in Victorian outfits. Every year in December, Nevada City, California celebrates a Victorian Christmas and everyone is invited. As I stood on…

CRUISIN’ IN SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA

Pia Henrietta | 16 October 2016 | Wanderlust SANTA CRUZ (or Holy Cross in Spanish) is the capital and largest city of Santa Cruz County, California. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates Santa Cruz’s population at 62,864 as of 2013. Before the Spanish missionaries, soldiers, and colonists set foot in Santa Cruz County in the late…

Blue and Gold We are Calling 

A high school mini reunion, August 6, 2016 “Melissa is already at the restaurant,” said the text that came from Jassana. “Hi, Jass. I’ll send Melissa a text to advise her that Mavic, Magene, and I are already on our way there,” I texted back. “There” meaning the Buon Appetito restaurant in Hayward that was…

Café in the Dark

Prague There is a coffeehouse in Prague where the waiters and waitresses are BLIND. They serve their customers in total darkness. Café in the Dark, a project at the Potme (Slovak word for “in the dark”), operates for a few days every year. The café aims to open the eyes of sighted people to a…