Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Socks Socks Everywhere
Monday, July 26, 2010
A Windy Sunday on the Adriatic Sea
But a very windy day at the seaside is not always as relaxing as you would like. We were all dressed but still undecided whether we should go or not...
A key consideration for me is my hair. Nothing gets me more nervous than my hair whipping about and sticking in my eyes every 30 seconds.
So up it goes, rolled into what they call a "banana" style and held tight with a butterfly hair clip.
Look at those waves. This is very unusual for the Adriatic, there is usually no wave action, just a vast expanse of blue-green water. So unusual that I wasn't the only one taking pictures...
Do you wear jewelry when you go to the beach?
You must not be from my corner of Italy!
All the women here do!
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Mowing the Lawn, Italian Style
But, every once in a while, there's a special moment that you know you'd probably never see repeated in the US.
That's my husband, mowing the lawn in his bathing suit! Don't tell him I showed you this video...but I couldn't resist!
My parents used to live in a high-rise building where a lot of gay men resided. And that's wonderful, quickly let me say that gay men are wonderful in my book, just like everyone else! But the funny thing was that my parents would have a minor panic attack about Francesco's very European speedo style bathing suits every time we came to visit. They even went as far as to buy him a boxer style bathing suit because they were afraid that their neighbors would make a pass at him in the condo pool! Too funny.
They're not too comfortable with me wearing a bikini either, now that I think about it. But, hey, I'm sorry, you're not going to catch me dead in a skort! No way, no how!
Friday, July 23, 2010
Children's Theater Festival
The festival is called Ti Fiabo e Ti Racconto. I have included a link to their website, but the information is all in Italian.
Here Wendy is dancing with Peter's invisible shadow...
The Laughing Streets
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I went out for a coffee with a friend at the local mall. After a shot of caffeine and a chat we took a walk around the mall and ended up looking at shoes. I spotted this pair by Dive & Co. for only €42 and was so curious about them that my friend talked me into trying them on. Once they were on my feet, I was sold. They are the most comfortable shoes I have ever had. I don't know how, but they don't rub on any part of my feet, they are fantastic.
Of course, my sons thought it was a riot that I bought shoes when out with my friend Anna Scarpa (scarpa means "shoe" in Italian)...
Or are they better with a shorter skirt? My husband took this picture and missed the whole idea that the focus of the photo was supposed to be on the shoes...
There you go, now you can see the shoes!
No shoes here, but I wanted to show off another one of my bargain purchases. I found this cute summer dress at H&M for only €10. That was full price, not sale price! If I look a little exhausted in this photo, that's because I was. And hot, too.
My photographer of choice is my 10-year-old son. Not because he has talent or the desire to take pictures of his wacky mamma, but because he is a good kid and will actually do it when I beg him to.
This last photo shows my true nature. Gabri was not into the picture-taking and here I'm saying, "well, are you gonna take the picture or what?!" Bad Mamma!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Lean, Mean and Green
I thought that now, in the midst of my pesticide doubts, would be a good time to see how I'm doing overall on the green front. Why not take the test with me?
1. Flex Your Buying Power.
Make change with your dollars by supporting healthy and sustainable products and
* hmm, I usually just shop at the supermarket. We do not have a natural foods shop in my town. We used to, but it closed. Does it count that I buy gluten and dairy free products?
2. Eat locally Grown Food.
Supporting local farmers is healthier for you, your family, and the local economy. Buying locally produced food reduces or eliminates waste generated by packaging, storage and transportation. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.
* we don't have CSAs here, so that's out. I could buy local food more often. Many people here sell their farm products on the road, or in their homes. It's just a matter of inconvenience for me. The supermarket is closer. Aren't I driving more efficiently this way, though?
3. Drive More Efficiently - or Just Less.
Car pool, don’t idle during drop off/pick up, drive a hybrid, drive less. Driving just 10 miles less per week saves 20 billion pounds of CO2. Less time in the car means more time for something more enjoyable.
* While it's true that I live in the countryside outside of town, I really don't drive that much. I take the train to the city to work and drive no more than an average of 10 kilometers per day around town. Okay, feeling pretty good about this one!
4. Use Non-toxic Products
Protect yourself, your family, and our environment from hazardous chemicals found in common household cleaning and personal care products. The average home contains over150 toxic chemicals that have been linked to increased asthma, allergies, cancers, endocrine and behavioral disorders.
* well, that's a pretty scary list of nasties brought on by chemicals! I have to admit that I use commercial cleansers around the house, but I hardly ever clean...doesn't that count for something? I think the Raid Fly and Ant Death Machine completely puts me out of the acceptable range for this point, however.
5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost).
Cutting down on garbage just 10% can save 1200 pounds of CO2 and save money in waste management fees. Consider the packaging when making a food purchase. Buying in bulk whenever possible will save you money and help reduce waste.
* there are no stores that sell in bulk here, so that's out, but I am the Queen of Recycle and Compost. Look, look, here's the proof:
6. Make your home more Energy Efficient.
Maximize energy efficiency with weather stripping, thermostat management and turning lights off.
* check, check and check...I got this list down pat! And, I can top it. We have 26 solar panels installed on the roof of our house to provide for all of our electricity needs. Now, if that's not green, I don't know what is...
7. Re-think your Laundry Plan.
Washing less, using cold water, and line-drying saves you time and energy and saves over 500 pounds of CO2 and over $600 per year.
* washing less?! Maybe once the kids get older...but I do wash in cold usually and I only line dry.
8. Be Water Wise.
Fill your garden with native plants and water mornings or evenings. Fix any leaky faucets. Don’t leave water running when brushing teeth, washing hands or doing dishes.
* only native plants here, check! No leaky faucets, check! The water running issue is a bit tricky, though. We repeat, repeat, repeat this to the kids, but I guess it's a longterm learning process.
9. Plant something.
A tree, a flower, or a garden, all of which absorb CO2 and remind us of the generosity of nature.
* we have planted various bushes around the yard, but not much else.
10. Spend time in nature.
Being outside is good for mental and physical health, and reminds us to protect and
preserve our natural surroundings.
* does going to the beach count?
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
My New Knick-knack
Isn't it lovely? Isn't it statuesque? It's quite majestic, in my humble opinion. Reminiscent of a totem or a monolith, or one of those Easter Island moai statues.
Doesn't it seem to blend right in with its surroundings? If it weren't for that telltale spritz every 7 minutes and that unusually strong odor...you'd never know it was not an objet d'art, but our new Raid Fly and Ant Death Machine.
I know that this is really going to cut into my cred as 007 Mamma, but I'm telling you the flies were getting the upper hand on me. It had got to the point where I was spending over half an hour a day swatting at them. There were literally hundreds!
Gabri even got in on the act one day and swatted a few. Unfortunately, he noticed that after he squished them with the swatter...they actually died. Bad news! He was not ready to handle that reality. I suddenly went from Fly Swatting Superstar to Bad Mamma before you could say "fly me!"
We try to be as green as possible in this household. We recycle everything, we have a compost pile and we even have 26 solar panels on our roof. We do our best to save the world in our own little way. Pesticides were not my first choice. However, I have to admit we are all loving our newly reclaimed fly-free home.
The best part is, I don't know how, but the spray doesn't leave little winged corpses lying around. Thank goodness, I don't think I could take another exclamation of, "they are living creatures too, you know!" or another Gabri-orchestrated fly funeral!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Every Child is Special
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Think Cool Thoughts
First of all, I shouldn't complain about the heat. I love summer. I love the warm sun. I'm what they call in Italian "freddolosa" which means that when everyone else says, "oh what a lovely day" I am piling on the sweaters and complaining about the cold.
But, this excessive heat has got me dreaming about cool autumn days. I think I have chosen my new look for Fall/Winter 2010.
What do you think? Can I pull that off in the classroom at the university this fall?
Friday, July 16, 2010
A Cucumber by Any Other Name...
Another summertime pleasure of mine is the "Scopatizzo Barese" cucumber, native to the area of southern Italy I live in. It's kind of like a cucumber and kind of like a melon. In fact, its scientific name is Cucumis Melo, or cucumber melon. Imagine a cucumber, but slightly sweeter, more compact and crunchier.
Prepare it the same way you would a cucumber. It is so cool and refreshing that I think cooking it would be a pity. My favorite recipe is to simply eliminate the seeds, peel and chop it and serve either alone or with fresh, chopped tomatoes, dressed with a pinch of salt and some extra-virgin olive oil.
The taste of summer!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
High and Dry
It can be a hassle in the winter when it's damp and things don't dry for days and days. Or they never dry and eventually start smelling moldy and you have to throw the whole load back into the washing machine and hope for the best.
Or sometimes, I fumble and an article of clothing lands on the inaccessible roof of our garage. The only remedy then is to wait for a strong wind to blow it down to the ground and to pray that I will find it before my adorable dog, Piedina, who just loves to chew on anything and everything.
But in the summer, line drying is wonderful. In about half an hour everything is soft and dry and smells like sunshine and fresh air. It's a scent you can't get from any fabric softener.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
We Aim to Please. You Aim Too, Please
Like, don't just sit down on the toilet seat in a carefree, light-hearted way. The way you always have done...before having sons. And...keep in mind that being barefoot in the house takes on a whole new risk factor. Particularly in the bathroom.
I get it. I mean, aiming is an issue that we females have never really had to deal with. But, how long does it take to learn how to aim? Apparently, from my firsthand experience as a mother to two sons, it can take years!
So, let's run through the complicated procedure just one more time:
1. raise the toilet seat
2. grab ahold of your equipment and aim for the center of the water
3. do whatever it takes not to drip
4. put the toilet seat back down
If any one of these steps is skipped, performed out of order, or altered in any way, disaster will ensue. Along comes Mamma who immediately either sits on or walks through your puddles. And then Mamma is not happy.
And let me just say . . . it's better for everyone involved if Mamma is happy.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Garden Fresh Tomatoes
Sunday, July 11, 2010
And then, they arrive. The flies. All together. I don't know how or why it happens, but one morning we go down to breakfast and find that the house has been invaded.
Today was that day. Literally dozens of flies were buzzing around the kitchen and living-room. It's really annoying. I mean, besides the fact that they are dirty, irritating little creatures in general, they vomit every time they land. Yeah, even when they land on the edge of your coffee cup, or alight atop your cornetto. They puke. Not a pretty thought.
I am the official fly exterminator in the family. I don't go for any smelly sprays or sticky traps. I use my trusty fly-swatter to kill 'em one by one. It's like a personal vendetta of mine. I don't like those flies and I'm going to see to it personally that they don't bother me or anyone in my house.
I'm also very accurate with the swatter. It's rare that I miss once I've chosen my prey. There's an art to it. The fly has to be on something, you'll never get it while it's flying through the air. It's best if it's perched on a flat, hard, light-colored surface. You must approach the victim with your swatter already raised and ready...any movement will alert the fly to your presence and it will buzz off somewhere else. Your swatting technique must be fast and decisive. The slightest hesitation on your part will give the little pest time to figure out what's about to hit him, and fly away.
These are just a few of the flies I axed this morning.
My sons are in awe of my fly-killing skills. They call me "007 Mamma" - you know, licensed to kill. Hey, we all have special talents...