Guest Blogger: Robin of My Mélange

A hearty welcome to one of my favorite bloggers, Robin of My Mélange! In this guest post, Robin does a great job of letting you know who she is, what she does, and why she does it, so I’ll just let her get on with it. Thanks so much for writing Robin!

P.S. Be sure to come back tomorrow for an exciting contest announcement!


Imagine yourself gliding along the azure blue water in a gondola, pulsing up and down with the to and fro of the wake along a quiet side canal in Venice. Ducking under a footbridge while the clip-clop of pedestrian heels permeate the silence, ocher and putty plaster worn away from old facades lining the canal, colorful laundry blowing in the breeze overhead and glorious red geraniums blooming on tiny iron balconies, while you are sipping Prosecco.

What about twisting and turning through the dusty, narrow, Tuscan roads graced with tall green Cyprus trees standing like soldiers guarding the fertile soil and protecting the vineyards and grapes, sampling the fruit of Tuscan labor, at an ancient stone winery, set high atop the lush green hills of Chianti.

Or strolling the quais of the Seine in the dark of night, crossing the Pont des Art, resting my arms against the cold iron railing, staring into the black water, watching the glowing reflection of the streetlights and backlit historic monuments stare back at me. They appear before me like a painted canvas, the center of the portrait, the sepia-toned star in the Paris night sky, the Eiffel Tower, dazzles with its hourly show and leaves me speechless.

As the clouds roll in, mist falls gently onto the cobblestones, I tighten my Chanel trenchcoat and fluff the scarf around my neck as I walk slowly toward a welcoming sidewalk café for shelter and to grab a ringside seat on the covered terrace. From my tiny marble table and caned seat, I sip a cup of strong French coffee to take the chill off my bones while I settle in to watch the rest of the scene further unfold around me.

Hooked? Yeah, I was too. Still am.

When I close my eyes, these are the images and videos that flood my mind’s eye and the memories that come rushing back when I think of Europe; of my twin passions: Italy and France.

I have developed a passion and deep abiding love for these countries that now hold a piece of my heart, and won’t let go.

I am reminded of the moment I first stepped foot on the terra firma of Italy. It was a life changing moment. Something unexplainable came over me. My heart felt full and my spirit alive. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was home, right where I belonged. And like Cinderella’s slipper or meeting your soul mate- it just felt right, comfortable, a perfect fit.

You see, I didn’t plan to fall in love with them. In fact, I have no roots in Italy or France. My ancestors are Irish and German. Before I took my first trip to Europe, I had no strong desire to spend time there. Didn’t see the point. We can thank Frances Mayes and the movie industry for turning that around.

From the time I returned from that first trip, and each subsequent trip, I missed every second that I was away. In fact, aside from living there, which with any luck and hard work will happen within the next five years, I was determined to find a way to adopt many of things I loved so much, and introduce them into my daily life. I realized that though I wanted to live there, it was not necessarily about the location, as much as it was the lifestyle.

So, I made it my quest to find ways to live life like a European.

I began by tossing out the Mr. Coffee and Maxwell House and bringing in the Bialetti and espresso, replaced my Pottery Barn furnishings with Euro-trash style flea-market finds, stocked up on cookbooks with authentic French and Italian recipes while experimenting with new dishes, drinking wines from across the pond, seeking out imported products, reading any Franco-Italian memoirs I could get my hands on, played lots of Bocelli and Charles Trenet on the CD player, and I perused my photo albums for inspiration when I was feeling, well, homesick.

I started feeling like I could help others find the same love and passion that I have for Europe. So, Mélange was born. Mélange, which is a French word that means a mixture, was not only the perfect name for my endeavor, but would become a multifaceted way for me to share my passion, harness my creativity and show people how you can either travel to Europe or bring bit and pieces of the culture into your everyday life, so that you could feel like you were enjoying the European lifestyle–on a budget, of course.

Because I get bored easily, and don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket, I had always imagined Mélange to consist of many things: travel planning and consulting, a flea market selling small European finds, photo cards (coming soon!), a blog, and have kept an open mind to whatever else might present itself.  Perhaps freelance writing and intimate seminars.

I started the blog, My Mélange, in December of 2006, not knowing much about blogging or writing or where it would take me. Almost 2 years later, I consider it my baby.

It is a way to connect with people from all over the world and talk about my twin passions with them. I share my favorite stories and photos, hotel recommendations, restaurant suggestions, my trials and tribulations about learning the Italian language and it allows me a forum to suggest ways to create some European savoir-faire in your own life. And travel, lots of travel! Travel tips, travel gear, and travel destinations. You can even submit your favorite travel photos to be featured for Travel Photo Fridays!

I now appreciate that my blog is a helpful resource for those who prefer to plan their own trips or those looking for information and inspiration. However, I also enjoy being the person who is there to plan a customized trip or itinerary for those who don’t have the time or desire to go it alone.

So whether you live in Europe or elsewhere in the world, have a love of France or Italy (or both), dream about traveling there or just want an armchair tour, want a new French recipe or learn a new Italian word every day, then grab a bowl of café au lait and head on over to My Mélange, settle in and take a good long look around. Hopefully you’ll find something that inspires you, and if I have done my job well, when you are finished, not only you will share my passion for the European culture and lifestyle, but you’ll run right out and book a trip of your own!

And until my body gets to live where my heart and soul already does, I will rely on my dreams, my imagination, my blog, my work and I will live vicariously through ex-pat friends, like Michelle, to get me through.

Thanks Michelle!

17 Beans of Wisdom to “Guest Blogger: Robin of My Mélange”
  1. I have to leave for a class but I can’t wait to come back and read some of the posts you linked to Ms. Melange.

    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..A day trip to Orvieto

    Please do 🙂

  2. Gil

    Just loved the throwing out of Mr. Coffee and Maxwell House. We did that years before we visited Italy! I enjoyed your post and pictures. Thanks.

    If I may, I see no reason to throw out any coffee or coffeemaker. Can’t we all just get along? 😉

  3. Gil

    We gave the Mr. Coffee away as my wife has a thing that makes on cup at a time and I like perked. We didn’t actually throw away the coffee, we just stopped buying it as it was so weak. We now buy different kinds of dark roasted beans and grind them ourselves.

    We get along over here and even better when drinking coffee in Italy.

    I can certainly appreciate that, Gil 🙂 I still like my American coffee too, though…got a 1950s or so stovetop model at a yard sale in America before I left for 25 cents and always request Folgers or Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is someone is visiting 😉 I’m an equal opportunity coffee drinker!

  4. We can definitely see you are enchanted with Italy and France, Robin. I hope on your next trip you head down south and pay us Calabrians a visit!

    And, Michelle and Gil can I just say I’ve been CRAVING American coffee in a bad way! 🙂

    Cherrye at My Bella Vita’s last blog post..Friends of George Cookbook Raises $16,000 for Cancer Treatment

    You handed off that Folgers far too easily, Cherrye!

  5. 09.15.2008


    Thanks again for the opportunity!!!! I really had fun with it!!

    And don’t get me wrong- I still enjoy a regular cup a joe- but I use my French Press and some freshly ground French Roast.

    And sorry to say- Folgers, Max. House and Dunkin Donuts- just doesn’t do it for me anymore 🙁

    But on a happy note, looks like I know what I’ll be bringing when I come visit you and Cherrye!!!!

    My Mélange’s last blog post..On Creative Minds

    Hee hee…no complaints there from me 🙂

  6. Hi Michelle and Robin! Very nice guest post!

    We felt the same in Italy…with no family ties at all. And we’ve also transformed our US life to include no Mr. Coffee and the like 🙂

    erin :: the olive notes’s last blog post..thoughts on italian food

    Too funny that the coffee is getting such talk here…rather appropriate for Bleeding Espresso 🙂

  7. 09.15.2008

    I can totally understand your love of France and Italy.

    Which is your favourite?

    I’ve lived in both countries and both have their ups and downs. (Which country hasn’t?)

    However, despite its completely ridiculous bureaucracy, it’s Italy for me because of the passionate and open people. (If only they’d get as passionate with politics as they are with making Spaghetti Carbonara.)

    casalba’s last blog post..Angels or Angeli?

  8. 09.15.2008

    Hi Michelle — thanks for profiling Robin’s blog. I stumbled across it through yours and have always enjoyed reading it 🙂

    City Girl’s last blog post..Beauty Monday — Pumpkin Scents

    Glad you enjoy Robin’s place as much as I do…spread the word 🙂

  9. 09.15.2008

    nyc/caribbean ragazza: Yes, please do come back. You are always welcome 🙂

    Gil: No, thank you!! Yeah, once you try that dark Italian roast- you never go back 😉

    Cherrye: I have the opposite craving. At this point, I’d be happy with drinking dishwater, so long as it was in Italy 🙂

    Erin: Thanks Erin!! Always knew we were on the same page 🙂

    Casalba: Hmm, tough question. I like to sum it up this way… I Love France, but I am IN LOVE with Italy!!

    City Girl: So glad Michelle brought you to me. Nice to have such wonderful friends, isn’t it? Glad you like stopping by as much as I enjoy having you over 😉

    My Mélange’s last blog post..On Creative Minds

  10. 09.15.2008

    So glad to “meet” you Robin. Loved your story. Popped over and browsed your blog. It’s wonderful!

    Kacey’s last blog post..The Siren Call of a Pretty Notebook

  11. 09.15.2008

    I love that you are holding steadfast to your dream. That’s really inspirational. I too fell in love with Italy the first time I set foot there in 2005. I don’t have any ties to Italy; my parents are from Mexico but for some reason I felt like I had come home. I went back for a second trip in March of 2007 and this time I fell in love with one of Italy’s citizens. I really wasn’t expecting it, but I feel like my love for his country brought him to me, and the rest as they say, is history! If it’s ok with you, I am going to add you to my blogroll and follow you as you make your dream a reality. In bocca al lupo!

    Piccola’s last blog post..Saturday Evening

  12. 09.15.2008

    Kacey: So nice to *meet* you too!! Thanks for stopping by to browse- now it’s my turn to head over to your place 🙂

    Piccola: It is totally ok with me- the more the merrier, I always say! It is nice to hear there are so many of us that have been touched by Italy. And I think the correct response to you is…Crepi 😉

    My Mélange’s last blog post..On Creative Minds

  13. 09.15.2008


    You are singing to the choir… and it’s one of my favorite songs. This is very well written; you whisked me right away and I simmered in delicious memories and daydreams.
    Haven’t been to Italy yet, but when I do, I know it will just about kill me to leave. I know just what you mean about it being your home from the moment you arrive.
    I hope that you are able to live there soon. 5 years is a long time to wait.

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    **PS Michelle, I have some awards for you over at my place. XO

    Wanderlust Scarlett’s last blog post..‘Tis The Season!

    From your title, I imagine you’re being very generous again…but you haven’t put up a tree yet have you? 😉

  14. 09.16.2008

    Ms. Scarlett, or shall I call you Wanderlust:

    Thanks for the kind words!! Hope you make it to Italy soon. And 5 years is a long time, but not a lifetime…it gives me something to look forward to 🙂

    My Mélange’s last blog post..Travel Tip Tuesday : Traveler Pitfalls

  15. Paris Parfait

    Your lovely post indicates so many reasons travel is irresistable. Once one becomes accustomed to travel, it’s hard to stay home! 🙂

  16. Enjoyed your story and the photos! I’m reading your blog in another tab as we speak. lol

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the flea market pictures!!!!

    The Daily Rant

    Salena of The Daily Rant’s last blog post..Eddie Friday: Outlined

  17. 09.20.2008

    Paris Parfait: Tara, so true!! My wallet is the only thing prevents me from traveling more.

    Salena: Well, thanks-glad you liked them both! It is hard for me to resist a flea market!! Hmm, that reminds me….it might be time for another flea market trip soon 🙂

    My Mélange’s last blog post..Newport: Around the Wharf

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake