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

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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

An Italian Mercato and The Barnyard Flea Market

There is nothing quite like meandering through an outdoor market, whether it's a farmer's market, a flea market or a flower market. Of course, my favorite is an Italian mercato where you can purchase a leather handbag at one stall, and at the very next stall indulge in a panino con prosciutto. I love the variety, I love the colors, and I love the song and dance routine of doing business the Italian way (how much...? would you take...? can you give me a sconto ...?)

An outdoor mercato in Sorrento, Italy.

Some of my favorite things around our house have come from a mercato. See my café curtains below? They are actually handmade linen kitchen towels which I purchased at a mercato in Tuscany. The elderly man who sold them to me was so thrilled I could speak Italian that he gave me a sconto for the three towels I wanted to purchase and gave me two extra ones for free. Just because. When I got home I converted them into café curtains, and I love looking at them because they tell a story.

So, I can't help associate Saturday mornings with a visit to a mercato. About twice a month I visit the Market on the River, but this morning we decided to explore the Barnyard Flea Market by the airport. It's not an Italian mercato by any stretch of the imagination; there was junk (and lot's of it) but there was also a lot to see and explore and, truthfully, we had a fun time.

In the end, we didn't purchase linen towels or a leather handbag, but everyone did come home with something: Joe purchased some golf balls, Jonathan a video game, Timothy a deck of Duck Dynasty playing cards, and I got a cocktail ring. Of course, shopping at flea markets means taking a chance: Will the golf balls explode on contact? Will the video game work? Will the Duck Dynasty cards be a full deck? Will the cocktail ring turn my finger green?

Who knows?

Who cares.

We had a mercato adventure, and that's all that matters.

Every time we go to Italy, I have purchased many, many things here ...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Speaking of laundry, college football, and ... Uncle Si?

Here I am, enjoying my morning quiet time, and I realize that it is actually 4:30 a.m. instead of 5:30 a.m., the time I usually get up. I now have two hours -- TWO HOURS -- before the boys get up.

Where's my cappuccino?

Speaking of cappuccino ... last night the boys watched Duck Dynasty and I never laughed so hard as when Jase and the crew visited a coffee house. After studying the board (Where's the coffee?), the barista suggested double shots of espresso. Then the poetry reading began ... ay, ay, ay.

Speaking of Duck Dynasty ... never say never. I thought I would never watch Duck Dynasty, and I do. I thought I would never be able to name all the Robertson family members, but I can. And I thought we would never, ever have Duck Dynasty merchandise in the house, but then our little guy asked begged for a Tupperware cup just like Uncle Si's and when I said no, no and never Nonna and Nonno made a surprise visit one afternoon and ...

Speaking of surprises ... last night Nicholas called from Clemson. Not a text, mind you, but a real, live phone call. Of course, he called for some laundry instructions, but to quote Uncle Si ... Hey! I'll take a phone call any way I can.

Speaking of Clemson ... this weekend the Clemson Tigers go up against the Georgia Bulldogs. Uh-oh. My brother and I graduated from UGA (in fact, he is one of the on call doctors at all Georgia home football games) and my son is at Clemson. Then there is my husband who graduated from Penn State and who doesn't like any other team except Penn State. We are a house divided.

Speaking of divided ...

Okay. Enough already. I now have one hour -- ONE HOUR -- before the boys get up and I should probably go do something productive. Like maybe I'll do my workout now instead of later.


I haven't decided yet.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Diary of Timothy the Kid

My favorite part of Back to School Night is sitting at my son's desk, poking around inside, and leaving him a note to find when he gets to school the next morning. I love leaving the notes, and while I usually write a funny poem (you know, from the files of very bad poetry by Bia), this year I decided to write a little story inspired by the ONE book Timothy likes to read ...  Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

*all drawings from Jeff Kinney

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Letting Go

College move-in day.

The date has been circled on our calendar for a while now, but it somehow never seemed real.

In recent weeks we've registered for classes, ordered books, purchased clothes, and watched the college stockpile in our guest bedroom grow. But it was like we were planning a trip.

Last night I prepared a farewell meal. We watched home videos, we laughed and gave last minute advice, but the idea that our family of five would soon be  a family of four didn't seem real.

Driving to Clemson this morning we were quiet. It was beginning to seem real, but then we arrived on campus and were caught up in a whirlwind of orange: the giant paw prints welcoming us to town, the banners hanging from every building and storefront, and the eight upperclassmen wearing orange shirts who descended on our van to help us carry everything up to Nicholas's room.

Unpacking, cleaning, making the bed ... it didn't seem real. It was fun. And exciting.

But later, when Nicholas walked us to the van, I looked at my son and reality crashed down in the form of tears and a lump in my throat that prevented me from saying goodbye, or I love you.

I couldn't even say the words.

And it reminded me of something I wrote on Nicholas' first day of Kindergarten: It seems that once a mother gives birth, she then spends the rest of her life letting her baby go.

Nicholas' room.
We left a care package on Nicholas' bed filled with notes and little gifts.
Here is Timothy's note to Nicholas.
Nonna & Nonno's parting gift:
Dum-Dums for the smart college student.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brotherly Love

So, because he is leaving this Saturday for Clemson University, this afternoon Big Brother took Baby Brother to see a movie (Planes) and out to eat (McDonald's). Smiles all around.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sometimes Practice Doesn't Make Perfect

My sister is going to kill me when I tell this story. But so be it. That's what sisters are for.

Before I begin, let me tell you that in grade school Laura had braces. But wait. Not just braces, but also neck gear, head gear, retainer ... you name it, she had it. She had so much hardware that when we needed television reception we simply adjusted Laura's position on the couch.

We were living on the American base in Vicenza, Italy and one morning my sister had an orthodontist appointment. So, my mom dropped her off with the idea that after the appointment Laura would just walk back to school (this was a time when the world was a kinder and gentler place).

So, after the appointment Laura started walking back to school, during which she rehearsed what she was going to tell the teacher to explain her tardiness. It had to be something simple because, after an orthodontist appointment in which adjustments are made and wires are tightened, it's just impossible to talk. So she practiced.

"Den-tisht appointment, den-tisht appointment, den-tisht appointment," she repeated as she walked.

By the time she arrived to school she was ready. She stood in front of the teacher's desk and very confidently said, "Den-tisht appointment."

She was very proud of herself. Not only had she accomplished her goal, but she also managed not to spit too much when she said den-tisht.

The teacher paused what she was doing, looked at my sister, and then without any pity whatsoever said, "It's den-tal appointment."

The story still makes me laugh.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Feeding Friends

Here's the thing. My family is so used to me cooking great meals that ... meh ... it's no big deal. Serving creamy risotto, hearty stews, homemade bread, chicken piccata or pasta with homemade pesto generates no response, but tell them we're eating out at McDonald's and they're doing high fives.

I think my culinary skills are taken for granted.

Which is why I like to feed their friends. THEY compliment me, eat with gusto, and actually ask for seconds. It's a joy to feed them.

For example, earlier this week Jonathan had a couple of friends over. For lunch I fixed them chicken quesadillas ... nothing could be easier. I grilled the quesadillas on a Panini press, cut them into triangle wedges and arranged them on a platter. I served them with restaurant-style tortilla chips, salsa, and a huge bowl of pre-cut watermelon chunks. I set the table with nice placemats and called them in for lunch.

My son walks into the kitchen and ... no comment.

His friends, however, walk in and here's what they say:

Friend #1: Gosh, I feel like I'm in a restaurant.
Friend #2: I feel like I need to leave a tip.

But wait, it gets better because a little later:

Friend #1 to Friend #2: How many quesadillas did you eat?
Friend #2 to Friend #1: I stopped counting. There's one more left ... do you want to split it?

But wait, it gets even better because this is what happened after they were done:

Friend #1 to me: Thank you. That was literally the best meal I've had all week.

And with that, I'll keep on cooking.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Life Lately: Football tickets, the Duck Guys, and Santa Claus ... in 7quick takes

~1~ So, my younger brother and his family just relocated to Athens, GA. My brother is a doctor, and in addition to his new practice and teaching for GHRU (or whatever the heck it's called), he also has this sweet gig where he gets to be the on call emergency doctor at the home football games. He gets a couple free tickets each time. He's my favorite brother and the boys' favorite uncle.

~2~ This past Thursday was Harry Potter's birthday (the character, not the actor) and to celebrate our little guy overcoming some reading hurdles (you can read about those here), I planned a fun day of activities: a Sorting Hat ceremony (with Jonathan hiding in the closet being the hat's voice), a scavenger hunt, lunch at Honeyduke's (what child wouldn't like Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans or Slytherin sandwiches for lunch? ), a learn-to-draw-Harry-Potter activity (you can find these here), a Quidditch Tournament (the birdie in badminton makes a great golden snitch), and a late night showing of the first Harry Potter movie complete with Glow Sticks.

At the end of the day, in typical dramatic fashion, our little guy declared, "This was the best day of my life! Well, except for Christmas. It was the best day of my life after Christmas."


~3~ This week our college bound son went to the mall to buy clothes. It was his idea ... he wanted to upgrade his wardrobe. Yes, you read that correctly. With a little help from two lovely people, he came home with a wardrobe. And yesterday he went to buy some shoes ... no sneakers, but some casual shoes.

He cleans up nicely, if I do say so myself.

~4~ Last Friday I mentioned how Jonathan has to inform us when he gets to work and when his shift ends. Accordingly, I have a summer's worth of texts which go like this: here-leavin-here-leavin.

Well, I was telling the story to my sister and a friend, and we had a good laugh at Jonathan's expense. But the laugh was on us because Jonathan overheard our little conversation, and that night his texts changed to: arrived-departing.

He thinks he's funny, does my son.

~5~ Should I be worried that I found this on our little guy's bulletin board?


~6~ How cute is this idea I found on Pinterest? Totally do-able.
yes, i can do this.
~7~ During my parents' recent travels, we were happy to learn that they put in a good word with The Man himself ...

That's it for today! Be sure to stop in and visit Jen at Conversion Diary!