An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Holy St. Francis!

One "holey" St. Francis due to an exciting game of Bocce in the backyard.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Celebration ... al fresco style

Grilled hamburgers, baked beans, potato chips, watermelon.


Old conference table, drop cloths from Lowe's, an assortment of chairs, flowers in old lemonade bottles.


Put it all together for a gathering of friends and family.




Saturday, May 25, 2013

Una Mattina di Maggio (A Morning in May)

This morning I was having my breakfast by an open window. The cool breeze, the birds chirping, the glorious sun filtering through the trees ... and I grew melancholy.

Just like that.

I think it was because the weather was so perfect that it triggered memories of our last trip to Italy in which mornings just like this meant adventures around every corner: weaving in and out of the columns in St. Peter's Square, exploring Trastevere in the evenings, watching the sun from the cliffs in Sorrento, eating a panino on the steps of the Pantheon, haggling with vendors at the mercato ...

By the time I finished my cappuccino, though, I decided I wasn't going to wallow in my melancholia. I came up with a plan: I would meander through the Saturday Market on the River, purchase a loaf of fresh bread and some fresh vegetables (which I would carry in my new Thirty-One Inside-Out Bag which I like to call my mercato bag), listen to the street musicians, walk along the river, and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of a beautiful spring day.

And that's exactly what I did.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Life Lately: Pie, Contrariness, Hidden Shoes ... in 7 Quick Takes

~1~ Lemonade + Ice Cream = A Taste of Summer

You can thank me later, but this Lemonade Ice Cream Pie is (hands down) the best. Try it. Four basic ingredients, and you're set.


Two 6-oz ready-made pie crusts, graham cracker or shortbread
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1 can (12 oz) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 tub (16 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1. Place crusts in freezer.
2. Put softened ice cream, lemonade concentrate, and 3/4 of the whipped topping into a large bowl. Stir until blended.
3. Spread mixture in each pie crust.
4. Top each with remaining whipped topping.
5. Cover and place in freezer.
*garnish with fresh blueberries and/or sliced strawberries.

~2~ Speaking of summer, the perfect beverage for a picnic.

Homemade Italian Panini, Cape Cod chips, strawberries in freshly squeezed lemon juice, and Pellegrino ... the perfect summer picnic. Oh, and wine. Let's not forget the wine.

~3~ Really, is it so hard?

To take two seconds to put your shoes up on one of these shelves? Summer means shoes/sneakers/flip flops EVERYWHERE, so after tripping on yet another size12 pair of sneakers I felt compelled to lay down the law.

~4~ No Contrariness during the summer. 

~5~ Summer Reading.

I am excited about two new books out this week. I think Khaled Hosseini is a brilliant writer ... lyrical, moving, gripping. This is #1 on my summer reading list.

And who doesn't like Dan Brown? I own the special illustrated editions of Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and The Lost Symbol because, believe me, it makes a world of difference to read his books with the art work right there in front of you. Needless to say, I will wait a little for the illustrated edition of his newest book.

~6~ Summer and Mason Jars.
Here is a link for 23 ideas on what to do with those iconic jars.

~7~ Huh. One hour later ...

Now, go visit Jen at Conversion Diary ... she has a monster centipede problem
and is looking for a flamethrower to take care of the problem.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The End ... But a New Beginning

May. We have spent almost this entire month thinking about graduation, planning graduation, buying
for graduation, practicing for graduation, and then (finally!) the actual graduation this past weekend. It's been a whirlwind, but now that the graduation dust has settled I'm finally able to take it all in. 

And it was all wonderful.

First came a succession of guests: Papa arrived Thursday from Virginia Beach, Aunt Lisa arrived Friday from a business trip in Orlando, and Uncle Bill flew in from Maryland on Saturday. My sister and her family arrived on Sunday, and i Nonni ... well, they're always here. The only person missing was my brother and his family, but they were busy with a newborn (Welcome to the world, Carter!).

It's incredibly humbling that so many of our family made travel arrangements and rearranged schedules to come for a graduation, especially considering that (and let's be honest here) graduations can be long. And sometimes a little boring. Just ask the two littlest guys in our group, Timothy and his cousin, Thomas. (Mass took forever; I was scrunched in the pew and couldn't see anything; Jonathan kept making faces at me.) Doodling helped ... thank goodness for printed programs with wide margins and the two pens I found at the bottom of my purse.

But graduation is more than the actual ceremony, and with a houseful of guests it was just fun to be together.

I think one of the highlights of the weekend was a two-hour sunset cruise down the Savannah River which I had booked for Saturday night. Through a series of fortunate events we had the entire pontoon boat to ourselves (there were supposed to be five other strangers, but lucky us! they never showed up), and with perfect weather (not humid, but mild and breezy) and a picnic-made-by-Bia (homemade muffalettas, chips, strawberries in lemon juice, wine) it was all very relaxing ... until the family secrets started spilling out.

You see, before embarking on the cruise I had everyone write down two things about themselves that NO ONE ELSE KNEW, and during the cruise we read them aloud and tried to figure out who wrote them. By the end of the evening we learned that SOMEONE in the family once drove his car at the breakneck speed of 130 mph, that SOMEONE (when they were five years old) stole one of Snow White's Seven Dwarfs from a market stall, that SOMEONE'S favorite dance was the cha-cha-cha, that SOMEONE once won a NASA award for making a wind tunnel for a science fair, that SOMEONE'S all-time favorite movie was The Prestige, that SOMEONE had a bunion under their left foot, and that SOMEONE didn't have a car (poor baby, the graduate dropping a hint).

There was a lot of laughing and finger pointing, and I couldn't help noticing that SOMEONE who was thoroughly entertained was the captain.

Sadly, by Monday morning poof! everyone was gone, including Joe who had to fly out to Albuquerque on business. Now, with the other two still in school, it's just me and the graduate who, by the way, is snoring away upstairs. Graduation festivities, being the center of attention, a new job ... he is wiped out.

Either that, or he's avoiding all the thank you notes he has to write.

Nicholas and a proud Dad.

Photo: Here we are with our nephew, Nicholas, who graduated today!
Nicholas with Aunt Laura, Uncle Patrick,
and cousins, Christopher and Thomas

Nicholas and his Uncle Bill
Sunset Cruise on the Savannah River

Graduation luncheon

Graduation luncheon

Nicholas with i Nonni
(a LOT of orange gifts ... thanks Aunt Laura and Uncle Patrick!)

On his way ...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Friends on a Friday Night

Friends since forever ... hanging out, laughing, supporting. One headed to Ohio State, three to Clemson, and one to the University of Georgia.

 I will miss feeding all these guys when they go away in the fall.

Tonight we made it easy ... a sack of burgers from Checkers.
They ate everything.

Friday, May 3, 2013

life Lately: Officer Friendly, Capri Adventure, the Varsity ... in 7 quick takes

~1~ Officer Friendly

Yesterday afternoon I was driving when I suddenly realized that cars around me were going very slowly. Yikes. I was in a school zone and didn't even realize it. I immediately slowed down ... but not fast enough. Officer Friendly on a motorbike pulled me over.

He asked if I saw the flashing yellow lights. I said I didn't, but when I realized what was happening I slowed down. He said he saw me slowing down, but after the flashing yellow lights. I smiled and apologized.

He smiled and said he was going to give me a courtesy warning.

He really was Officer Friendly.

~2~ Monumentally unbelievable

This was our little guy's art assignment: draw himself flying over a famous building, monument, or landmark.

This is what I imagined he'd do: draw himself flying over the Roman Forum, St. Peter's Square, the White House, Monticello ... in other words, for a little guy he has visited some incredible places.

This is what he did: drew himself flying over The Varsity.

Huh? All the places he's been to and he chooses a burger joint in Atlanta? Doesn't he remember how we laughed at the ridiculously small hamburgers and the floppy, greasy fries? Doesn't he remember how I got into a battle with a cockroach and how we all agreed the place was just gross?

Evidently not.

Upper left hand corner is Timothy's flyover ...
at least he's flying away from it.

~3~ La Bella Vita

Five nights and six days of cooking classes and a writer's workshops on the island of Capri with Dianne Hales, author of La Bella Lingua. Oh, my.


~4~ May is here.

Need I say more? This is always the craziest month of the year ... crazy, as in busy. And this year we have a graduating senior which, as you can imagine, adds another dimension to the month.

But it's a good one. I just need to be organized. So, today I will plan meals for all our house guests coming for the graduation; plan the graduation dinner/party; order our son's graduation mementos (think bomboniere); decide on area outings we can do with our guests.

Getting things down on paper. It helps.

~5~ Family Dynamics

With our oldest son going off to college in the fall, we are all aware that our family is about to change.  So, as a surprise to the boys -- and as a way to create some fun, family memories --  we are going to take them on a surprise white water rafting trip sometime in June. No warning, just pack your bags for an overnight trip.

The last time I went rafting these memorable photos were taken ... photos that the rafting company discovered on my blog and then wrote to ask permission to use them in an anniversary promo.

~6~ In the Middle

Between our oldest son's upcoming graduation, and our youngest son's wall antics, you might think that we've forgotten about our middle guy. Nope. Mr. Harry Potter took his driving test yesterday and passed with flying colors ("perfect" was how the DMV person described his parallel parking).

Now we have TWO driving teens in the family. Heaven help us.

~7~ Family Night

Tonight we're having family night using our tried and true formula of faith, fun, and food. We've been going in so many directions lately that we need to come back to the center of us.

Have a blessed weekend!

Jen's back! You can visit her at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tales from the Wall

(Note: To understand the following conversation you need to know that the wall is where students go who have misbehaved in class. Time on the wall is directly proportional to the offense. It is served during recess.)

"Good," said Timothy as he enters the car after school. "The boys aren't here. I need some privacy."

(It always makes me smile when he refers to his brothers as "the boys".)

"Close the windows," he orders.

Whoa. Now I'm starting to get worried.

"Tomorrow about half the class has to be on the wall during recess," he whispers. "That includes me."

(Now, I am thinking two things: 1. We're in a closed car in carpool lane ... whispering ... and it's starting to feel like a James Bond moment; 2. Half the class could be 12 students, or it could just be  my son.)

"We have to be on the wall the whole recess," he is still whispering.

The entire recess? Now I know why he's whispering. This is serious.

When we get home I find a note from his teacher explaining that lately there has been excessive talking by the students, that there have been complaints from the computer and art teachers, and could we (the parents) please talk with our children about proper behavior.

Okay. He was right after all and it does sound like the problem was wide-spread. I talk to him and manage to convince him (and believe me, it took some doing) that just because someone is talking to you doesn't mean you need to respond; in fact, I tell him that from now on this is the official game plan.

Later that night I tuck him into bed.

"Tomorrow is going to be awful," he says. "No recess ... I don't know if I'm going to make it."

I kiss him goodnight. Recess is all of 20 minutes.

I think he'll survive.

No recess for you-know-who.