Posts filed under ‘Food’
Just got back from a party with 20 preschoolers inside a cramped pub. And yes, that was the SCARIEST Hallowe’en I’ve ever had! But at least the kids had great time. Hallowe’en is relatively new to Italy but I’ve noticed that every year it’s growing in popularity. My son actually went trick-or-treating tonight. And to top it all off, some teenagers poured flour all over our gate and entrance because I didn’t open the door. Nice. How did they know I love to bake?
But not everyone here is in the spooky spirit. A girl in my daughter’s class didn’t attend her pumpkin and witch-themed birthday party because their family “doesn’t celebrate Hallowe’en”. Her mother explained to me how their priest is against this American celebration of witchcraft and all things evil. Then the other day the girl told my daughter that people who like Hallowe’en love the devil. What in the what?!? I almost did a spit take when I heard that!
Who knew that a simple holiday could cause so much pain and suffering? And yet this got me thinking about my own Hallowe’en agony. It happened many years ago and it’s something I haven’t shared but I think I’m ready now. I need… closure.
Picture it: Scarborough, circa 1984. I was super excited about the Girl Guides Hallowe’en party that evening. Even if I only had one stinking badge and feathered hair, I was going to wow them all with my amazing costume. I thought about something made out of a cardboard box, like a giant Rubik’s cube or a package of Kraft Dinner. It was going to be ironic and it was going to be AWESOME. That morning over breakfast I gave my father detailed instructions about what I wanted and how he could make the greatest Hallowe’en costume the Metropolitan Toronto area has ever seen. I could see his mind working and I was positive that I was going to be the corrugated belle of the ball.
I practically ran home from school to get ready for the party and, of course, to see my costume. When I walked in the door and didn’t see it waiting for me in all it’s boxy glory the living room I felt a sort of pang. I couldn’t quite place it, but something didn’t feel right. I called out to my father, asking him where my costume was. He came down the creaky stairs slowly, carrying something that looked unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Would that I could have unseen it! But, oh lord, it was too late!! He held in his hands my little brother’s CHiPs helmet with what seemed to be a paper beak, eyes and feathers glued to it. “Dad! What… is … that? And where’s my costume?!?” He proceeded to tell me that there was no boring Rubik’s cube for me. Oh no! He made his darling daughter a one-of-a-kind, 100% certified original “POLICE BIRD” costume. “WHAT THE HECK IS A POLICE BIRD?!?!?” He then started to explain how he didn’t have any boxes nor time to go out and get one. So he got the brilliant idea to make something so absurd, so nonsensical even Lady Gaga would be embarrassed to wear it. I mean, what kind of sick mind would morph Erik Estrada with a winged beast. Seriously, it was that awful. And I was going to walk into the Girl Guide party with that “thing” on my head. I was going to answer the many “What are you supposed to be?/Are you mental?” questions that were bound to come my way. Yes, I was a pariah and eventually had to leave the GTA (ok, the continent) to find a man. But it’s true what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And this “police bird” flew like an eagle, baby!
Hope you all had an awesome Hallowe’en!!
What I’m watching: Just finished watching Vieni Via Con Me. Those of you in Italy know what I’m talking about. Tonight’s episode featured specials guests Gianfranco Fini and Pierluigi Bersani. Speaking of which, the leader of the Partito Democratico bears a scary resemblance to Dharma’s dad, dontcha think? Separated at birth, people!!
Music of the day: I loved Avion Travel‘s cover of the song Vieni Via Con Me on tonight’s show. Actor Toni Servillo (singer Beppe’s brother) guested on vocals. And just listen to that guitar!
Best read of the day: I’m trying to teach my son the English alphabet and he’s making great progress with Thomas the Tank Engine ABC. It’s very basic but there’s something about trains that keeps Diggy hooked. Any other suggestions for teaching bilingual kids would be most appreciated.
What I’m eating: Yesterday I cooked up a storm: a bit of Indian and Italian. My husband bought some cauliflower so I could make aloo gobi.
It was good but not quite perfect. I didn’t have any cumin and I was a bit stingy with the green chilis as I’m a milk dispenser now. My husband did manage to find some coriander/cilantro in the garden, thank goodness. It’s so fragrant and really makes a difference. I also made chick pea and potato samosas (which the kids actually ate!) as well as a dish with borlotti beans, pancetta and red wine.
Best moment of the day: Playing in front of the mirror with the baby. She’s such a giggler now! Oh, cleaning out the lint filter in the dryer was also a highlight, albeit on a different level. Very zen.
Where I’d like to go: To Tim Hortons, baby! In one month I’m going to be in Canada and you know my first stop will not be my Mom’s place but Timmy’s, to get a chocolate dip doughnut and a double double of course.
Ecco un’altra lista:
What I’m watching: Caught Flight of the Conchords for the first time last night, dubbed in Italian mind you. I still enjoyed it immensely! It’s like a cross between Peep Show and Glee. Sigh! I wish Mark and Jez would set their woes to music.
Music of the day: I was thrilled to see Elvis Costello on Letterman the other day. I think he has one of the best voices in music and he was on the show to promote his new album, National Ransom. The title track sounds great and the band is tight, which bodes well for the rest of the album. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Best read of the day: I’m currently reading Stephen Fry’s autobiography, Moab is My Washpot. It chronicles the first 20 years of his life and is at times hilarious and melancholy. If you’re a Fry fan, you’ll definitely enjoy following him on Twitter.* Oh, this video is pretty cool, too.
*Stephen Fry left Twitter for a few days due to criticism he received after being misquoted in a recent article on women and sex. He’s back now, thank goodness!
What I’m eating: Yesterday I had lunch at a Sardinian restaurant and was served a teeny tiny portion of grilled tuna steak and malloreddus gnocchi with tomato sauce. Not bad but I was hungry after an hour! So hungry that I decided to make a good old-fashioned Beef Stew.
I got the recipe from my Canadian Living cookbook. Simple and delicious. I even used some of the San Colombano. The only problem was that the kids were disgusted by the vegetables and took ages to finish dinner, or maybe it was the San Colombano that slowed them down. They were also not impressed by the pumpkin spice muffins I just baked. More for me!
Best moment of the day: Bellie’s first tooth fell out!! And she was paid a visit by the Tooth Fairy, even if in Italy a little mouse (?!) usually does the honours.
Worst moment of the day: Little Charlie puking all over me. She’s ok, her tum tum just doesn’t agree with formula.
Where I’d like to go: The China Power Station contemporary Chinese art exhibition at the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin.
Things that make you go “AWWW!”: Zidane and Materazzi hugging and making up.
I never thought I’d quote Steve Miller (the bane of my university years) but “time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future”. I can’t believe it’s already November and that my little girl is already two months old and my “big” girl just turned seven!
For the last few weeks “time” has been on my mind: the lack of, the speed of, the wasting of, the quality of, etc.
I’ve also been pondering how best to reconcile my need to write with my überbusy existence). Yes, I’m getting used to life with three kiddos but I still have the urge to create things other than babies and clutter. I’d also like to communicate in some way with the outside world because I’m cooped up at home most of the time. But how to do it in between feedings, laundry and sleeping?
The only thing I could think of that would best fit my schedule is a point-form list of what I’m doing, thinking about, reading, etc., because world wants to know! Ideally I’d like to post one every day but, come on, we all know how prolific a writer I’ve been lately 😉 I’m also going to write traditional posts (god willing!) from time to time so this new system isn’t set in stone.
Ok, here we go!
What I’m watching: My current obsession is the American version of The Office. I can’t get enough of it and I’m trying to control how many episodes I watch per day because I don’t want it to end! I have Seasons 1-5 (thanks Sue!). I was a huge fan of the UK Office and was doubtful I’d enjoy the US version but I was so wrong. The writers and actors have done a superb job with each and every one of the characters. Maybe in some twisted way it reminds me of work and is a way for me to “escape” to the office every day.
Music of the day: yesterday I enforced a No TV day and played CDs instead. A little bit of Schubert and Vivaldi but my favourite was The Beatles White Album. Perfect for a rainy day, or any day for that matter. That time spent in Rishikesh did them good. It has a bit of everything and will never let you down (well, except for Yoko’s screaming in Revolution #9. It scared the baby.).
Best read of the day: this is actually from a few days ago but I happened to read it now. I had no idea the Japanese were this crazy for doughnuts. They sound like my kind of people!
What I’m eating: I just polished off a heaping plate of spaghetti with sugo di stufato d’asino. That’s just a fancy way of saying “stewed donkey meat sauce”. I know, it doesn’t sound as good in English but let me assure you, it was yum. Oh, and last night the hubster made a divine risotto alla zucca, or pumpkin risotto. He also cooked his famous frittata, this time with turnip tops (cime di rapa). And thank god I can have a glass of wine from time to time because tonight we’re going to open up a bottle of San Colombano, the only DOC wine produced in the province of Milan.
Best moment of the day: Baby and Diggy “talking” to each other. She was even laughing a little bit. So sweet!
Worst moment of the day: My kids overhearing the expression “bunga bunga” and giddily repeating it over and over again. Cringe cringe cringe.
Well, this turned out to be longer than I thought. But it was fun!
Will I keep up with it? Only time will tell.
Yes, it’s been exactly 7 weeks since my last post. And 7 weeks since my water broke and we made a mad dash to the hospital. It was quite benevolent timing on the baby’s part. After our August holidays I was in major nesting mode and had a long list of things to tidy up, organize, re-organize and re-re-organize. A blog post was also on that long list and I couldn’t rest until that was done. And literally a few hours after I hit the “Publish” button I woke up in the middle of the night, rolled over and … whooosh.. Niagara Falls!!
As for the birth, it took longer than I expected. I thought, “Third baby. Piece of cake! I’ll sneeze this one out!!” Well the joke was on me. I had irregular contractions for 24 hours, shared my room with a Chinese woman and her extended family, then with a translator who happened to study at my school, I ate the most nauseating hospital food ever, and in the end, just like the last time, labour was induced. Those drugs sure packed a punch because I almost gave birth in the elevator on my way to the delivery room! But I held on and our adorable little girl was born safe and sound.
During the last seven weeks my mom was here to help and get mercilessly pinched by Diggy, Bellie discovered her inner earth mother and was giving me diapering advice, the hubster temporarily gave up playing the bass to take up a new pasttime: rocking a colicky baby, I became a full-time milk dispenser and tried to get used to life as a casalinga disperata. Not so easy with three little ‘uns in the house, what with all the laundry, cooking, organizing birthday parties, school runs etc. to fit in between feedings. Thank god Mom and I cooked up a storm while she was here and we froze lots of mini-meals, from cottage pie to pasta casseroles. I am also desperately trying to fit in time to exercise with help from my postpartum, “get your blobby belly back into shape” dvd. I only manage to fit in 10 minutes here and there but I’m starting to see some results.
But the most wonderful thing about the last month and a half is little Charlie. I don’t mean to gush but she really is the sweetest little baby. And wonder of wonders, she started sleeping through the night at only 3 1/2 weeks!! I guess she understood that Mommy and Papà are just too old to haul their lazy butts out of bed for those night feedings. Whatever the reason, I’m thrilled to get a decent night’s sleep. Now she’s smiling more and starting to communicate with her little “oohs” and “aahs”. And despite all the stress and mayhem that has overtaken my life, corny as it sounds, Charlie’s gurgles and smiles have the power to make all those problems disappear.
Hope you’ve been having a good summer. I got back a week ago from our holidays in Liguria. Lots of swimming, walking and, of course, eating! We went to quite a few sagre (village fairs featuring local gastronomical specialities, live music, etc.) and stuffed ourselves silly. And I discovered a heavenly ice cream parlour in the town where we stayed. It had the most decadent, delicious chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had. The shop also specializes in real Sicilian granita but I was too smitten with their ice cream to try one. Definitely next time!
So now I’m back at my unusually quiet home, organizing the last few things in the house while the kids are still at seaside with their nonni. My mom arrived from Canada this morning, laden with so many goodies that getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight will take a lot longer than expected. But how can I resist Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate-covered almonds, cheddar cheese, banana chips, jackfruit chips, fluorescent orange cheese puffs, Sweet Tarts and my beloved Ketchup chips? My mouth is watering at the very thought! But I guess it’s a good thing to be distracted since tomorrow is D-day.
Yep, I’m still lugging that panino around. I know I haven’t been keeping you up to speed with my pregnancy but I’m no Dooce. I worked full-time up until the end of my eighth month and went on holiday soon afterwards. In the evenings I was too, too tired to have the energy to turn the computer on so I spent most of my time watching 30 Rock or reading (books such as the Baby Whisperer, Kurt Cobain’s biography, The Help, The Scarlet Letter, etc.). And just between you and me, I couldn’t really sit down for long periods in front of my computer because, ahem, my keister would hurt like mad. Blame it on the belly. But the hubster recently got me a new laptop so I can write anywhere now.
Another book I’ve been reading lately is the Canadian Medical Association’s book of Mother and Baby Care. Since I’m almost at Week 40, let’s see what they have to tell me:
By this stage, you will feel very ungainly, and will be bumping into objects. (Yes and yes)
Your skin will feel stretched and taut across your abdomen and may be itchy (oh yeah!)
Your belly will be so large that you have difficulty getting comfortable in bed (ok, I get it – I’m a freakin’ whale!)
But seriously, since I know that in max. 10 days my girl will be making her appearance, I’m enjoying my last days with the bump. It may be a pain sometimes but it’s by far the easiest way to carry a little ‘un. And there’s no way to describe the sensation of a baby moving around inside of you. I will miss it. For now, she seems to be in no hurry to move out. My mom, who used to be a maternity nurse, checked my belly today and said the baby’s head still hasn’t engaged. But tomorrow there will be a full moon and anything could happen.
Since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to write more in the next few days, here’s a very overdue and brief overview of my pregnancy.
Found out the big news on Xmas day. Was more nauseous than in the previous pregnancies. So much so it was hard to hide my condition at work. Started cleaning up the house to make room for baby. She’s going to take over the old kitchen. Had a bad stomach flu, which always happens when I’m expecting. I was also DOG-TIRED, all the time! But I did have enough energy to go on a trip to Liguria, Nice and Piedmont, where Bellie had her first skiing lesson.
Felt much better. No more nausea and my energy levels (and my appetite) went up. Could start to feel baby kicking! And found out we were expecting a little girl!! The search for a name began. Started explaining to Diggy that he was going to be a big brother. Was not immediately impressed. Asked if he could punch and pinch her. Must keep an eye on him. Major cleaning and renovation work at home.
Went on a lovely Easter vacation to Tuscany and Rome. Hubby turned 40 and we threw a big party for the old guy. Started doing yoga and prenatal exercises at home. Bump started to show and I was at that awkward stage: I could barely fit in my pre-pregnancy clothes but I wasn’t big enough for maternity wear.
Felt really good during most of this trimester except for one thing: my swollen feet! But it’s normal with the heat and humidity of Milan. I would get massages and do reflexology but it was only when I was in Liguria that my feet miraculously recovered. We finished up renovations and prepared the baby’s room. I forgot how annoying it is to wash and hang onesies, tiny socks and bibs. Bellie went away to summer camp for the first time and we travelled to Carnia to visit the site.
The still nameless baby was kicking up a storm, which would provoke cramps and other fun things but nothing serious. I still had enough strength to do some major spring cleaning all over the house. Doctor confirmed that baby was going to be a big girl! It was really busy at work in this period but I managed to wrap everything up before starting mat leave at the end of July. Little bro came to visit. And finally… the panino and me went on holiday!
Now we’re in the home stretch. I thought that with all the activity and travelling that went on over the last nine months, she’d make an early appearance. But it looks like she’s a late bloomer, just like her brother and sister before her. That’s ok. I don’t mind waiting a little bit longer.
Will keep you posted!
Back from my self-imposed hiatus. I’ve been busy with the usual but I’ve also decided to relax more in the evenings and do things to help me wind down after a long day. So instead of blogging I’ve been obsessively watching episodes of 30 Rock and reading books. Just finished The Namesake. Great up until the first half but the ending was a slight disappointment. Not that I didn’t feel guilty about not writing. Every evening I thought about it but you know, I decided not to get stressed about something that is essentially a hobby. I knew that when the moment was right, I’d start posting again.
So, it’s a good thing I got sick and am at home today. It means I can finally write! So without further ado, let me tell you about my recent mini holiday in Lombard Alps.
While the Milan area may not be as romantic and exciting as living in Rome or the Amalfi Coast, we do have one perk that makes us the “envy” of the Bel Paese: il ponte di Sant’Ambrogio, or the long weekend in commemoration of the St. Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan. What makes this holiday extra-special is that not only do we get St. Ambrose Day off (on December 7, also the traditional opening of the season at La Scala), the next day is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which just so happens to be a national holiday in Italy. And this year we were extra lucky because December 7 and 8 fell on a Monday and Tuesday. So we basically had a four-day weekend!!
We decided to make the most of it and take the kids to the mountains, in the Valsassina and Valchiavenna valleys, to be precise. The little ‘uns were thrilled because the day before we left it had snowed in the area. Us big ‘uns were thrilled because we slept lots and ate even more! Here’s the photographic evidence:
So that’s how we spent our first long weekend of the season. Now I’m desperately trying to book a hotel in Val d’Aosta for New Year’s but it’s not looking promising. So if we don’t get lucky, it means that I’ll be ringing in 2010 with the in-laws. Can someone please help me? Anyone?!?