Thursday, May 17, 2007

Can you dig it?

can someone please help me come up with a bunch of funny gardening puns? this is getting pretty bad.

here's the latest from the garden... we received the biodegradable ground covers from and things are starting to get more serious. we also ordered some biodegradable "plastic" cups which are really cool... just like normal plastic cups but they can go right in the compost! crrazzy... anna had some stuff weeded which is also cool cause peppe and i have a day job... so now we're getting ready for a big gardening weekend... poor matt and mirjam are coming to visit and to this point have no idea how much work they're in for....

tomatoes:more zucchini:peas:new covers with some pickling cucumbers:


from: the english teastore
It is often sipped for relief of health problems ranging from toothache to nervousness. Camomile has also been noted as beneficial for soothing headaches and is a natural relaxing herb known to assist the restless and those
suffering from insomnia. In many circles Camomile is called nighty night tea or sleepy tea on account of its natural properties which promote restfulness and drowsiness. It is also known to assist digestive disorders by settling the stomach and calming the nerves. The plant’s botanical name Matricaria, is derived from the Latin term for womb because it was once used as an herb to treat female troubles. Camomile is derived from ancient Greek and translates as “Ground Apple” in reference to the fruity aroma.

The other weekend peppe and i spent an hour or so picking some of the camomile that had grown like crazy in the garden. then i went through and kinda clean them up, and put them in a simon-safe place to dry, which is a bit of a boring job, but luckily i had alana on the phone - so we gabbed and complained and generally missed eachother. and she always makes the tedious much less tedious.

so now we have the makings for camomile tea.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Estate Romana 2007!

Ohhh!! the roman summer is arriving. ... can't you feellll it!!?? all the lovely evenings in celimontana and the late apperitivos that turn into dinners. campo and v.governo vecchio. oh and all the shows and events! yeee haw!

so keep yourself in the know with my new google calendar thingy on the sidebar. Anyone can edit it, find out more about an event by clicking on it, or drop me a comment there or here if i'm missing some awesome event. I just started putting events in and the official Estate Romana 2007 guide is not out yet (is it?) so it's definitely just a start. You can also use this calendar for your dashboard to check up on what's going on without having to come here. cool, eh? so let me know what i'm missing or what sites to check for shows. also i went through the Circolo degli Artisti site, but only know like 4 bands that are playing... who else is good? anyone??? bueller....?

this summer is gonna rock out! let's get organized! let's be prepared! let's not miss the white stripes!!!

Karen's Grandmother's Chocolate Cake

I thought I would put up the recipe of Karen's Grandmother's Chocolate Cake partly because a few people have said that they really liked it (oh it is good!) and i feel bad taking all the credit and partly because some people have asked for it and I keep forgetting. Karen was a French friend of Julien's who visited us back when we were in Saxa Rubra and this was the way her grandmother made chocolate cake:

Melt 170 grams of butter
with 2 1/2 bars of dark chocolate (250g)
and stir until smooth
while it is cooling, in a seperate bowl
add 150 g of sugar
to 4 egg yolks

in another bowl fluff till stiff the 4 egg whites

when the chocolate is cool enough
add it to the egg yolk/sugar mixture
with a little bit of flour (about 30g)

and then carefully fold in the egg whites (no liquid though - spoon them out of the bowl don't pour them in!)
pour into a greased pan of some sort - it will rise a bit.

as for how to bake it - my oven is unpredictable, i just turn it to 200 (C) and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. sorry that's not very precise.

and then enjoy! this is a very rich, delightful cake that's really easy to make and really, really good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh, yes, we're organized!

As you may have noticed there is now a feature on the top, left-hand side of the page which allows you to enter your email address and get notified when has been updated. it's a handy little device and works well. basically you'll just receive an email later in the day after i've updated the site. it's very simple to sign up and i recommend it! i also promise not to use or sell your email addresses to anyone.

i've also organized the previous posts into catagories. which is kinda handy and you just may like it.

thanks for all your comments (i love them!) and for using my blog as a way to drop a line and just say hi... send me love... comment!


Monday, May 14, 2007

Let the teardrops fall.......

so the sad, sad news is that tara left. it was a fun party. but it was a sad sunday... god we're gonna miss her.
it's like she's always coming in and out of our lives... and each time it's much harder to say goodbye. at least we are gonna get to see her and jay soon when we go out to vancouver this fall. and that's an awesome thing to have to look forward to. and it makes it just a little bit easier... maybe we'll even see them sooner. i know i never thought i was going to get to see caitlin before like years and now it's just around the corner... two weeks!

since arnaud wanted "less vegetables and more fun" i will post a few photos of friday night as we did our usual friday night activites, but with extra ummph and went from the OTR (Over The Road) to pizza and then to a party.

anthea (tara's sister) gets her first moto ride and crosses something else off her life list:
As things wind down at the OTR Tara hands Oscar the bike keys and with this solemn gesture passes life onto a new generation of broken-bike riders. it was a sacred moment with lots of thanks to tara for orchestrating it and to caitlin and me, the previous owners of the bike.
the truth is, she's smelling his armpit. i'd like to say it's something else. but it's not.these are from saturday night... the real goodbye party when peppe brought out his b-b-q set which really puts to shame any other more "conventional" set. It seems that his brother, piero, gave it to him for christmas and had wanted him to "get more serious about his hobby". i think piero would have been pleased.

then just in case we hadn't eaten enough on saturday we took anthea and tara to ariccia for her last porchetta (this time!). and a little lazy lounging in the sun. it was a beautiful day. i hope the t-dawg had a nice last weekend. it was sad, but it was oh so fun.................

Friday, May 11, 2007

arnaud, vanessa, alex and oscar the hottest kids on the block!

i really never thought my friends would get mad at me for not getting enough exposure on, but i guess i was totally wrong. it seems that they do care. it seems that it may actually be "cool" to be on my blog... featured on my blog. with your name in the title... in neon lights... "VANESSA!!!!!" "ALEX!!!" "ARNAUD!!!!!" it seems that they want to be famous and think that being on my blog may propel them into that realm of famousness which is so coveted by the french and belgian... no but seriously, they do have a good chance of being famous in france or in belgium cause there's only like two famous people in each country as of now.... the odds are for it! here is vanessa channelling paris hilton and alex channelling nicole richie.... aren't they just the cutest? and arnaud, well he channeled something, i think... on this one... or someone....

and then this one is his ford's modeling agency shot... it's available in wallet and 5x7 sizes. he is a cutie-pie and likes being called 'honey' cause he's full of love. we love him for that... he's actually got a GREAT story about how an american waitress called him honey once... it's a great story if you've got some time to kill... but no one tells a story like arnaud. you gotta stick around for the punch line... wait is there gonna be a punch line, arnaud? ARNAUUUUDDD???????

he's funny, adorable and almost impossible to understand all at once...
i also want to say that the funniest thing that i heard today was:
"Ya know... Cauliflower is BULLS*#T, i think". which means two things: 1) oscar is hilarious 2) you guys have another chance at the OTR to outfunny him... Good luck! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

On the Road Again!

My friends, Oliver and Cecile, welcomed little Emil into the world about a month ago (could it possibly have been two?) and now they are doing the coolest thing ever. they bought a VW van and are taking their maternity/paternity leaves to travel around europe introducing little emil to all their loved ones... i absolutely love the idea. so neo-hippy... i hope they send us some photos along the way, but for now you'll have to be happy with the initial, haven't-pulled-out-of-the-driveway-yet ones that i took as they were about to depart...
i'm hoping to make a series in this style - reminiscent of the gnome in Amelie:
precious, little baby emil....peppe and emil....this really has nothing to do with their adventures... really i swear, just the idea of traveling in a camper brought to mind cousin eddie and his chemical toilet and i just had to put on a little sample of what may be the best movie ever made.

Coming up roses

For mother's day this year i wanted to give my mom something that doesn't just wither and die. usually i send her some flowers and although she says that they're really beautiful, i thought i'd go for something that hung around a little longer. i found a great site with lots of roses to pick from. she said that one arrived a bit dry (i'm not surprised cause UPS had informed me well about their transit and they were on the road for more than two days), but it looks like they are reviving. hopefully they will climb up the fence like we used to have.
I just had to post these pictures of gracie planting her climbing roses cause they're really cute!

Bringing in the bounty!

I was so super excited last night when i discovered that we have zucchini!!

personally i like the round ones cause i think that they're fun. but they were all really, really good. and i'm not just saying that. i swear.
when watering the garden i spotted a few that were ready - as far as my standards go - and i also got the overwhelming sensation by looking at how many plants there are that we're going to have A LOT of zucchini this summer. Luckily my friends like it, but i'm also probably going to have to learn how to jar it, which will be fun. Oh god, i'm such a dork. really. i'm going to dedicate this post to how dorky i am. it's scary, but i can't stop it... like yesterday when i asked oscar to bring me his avocado pits when he makes his famous guacamole for the party we are throwing on saturday... it just slipped out. "bring me a few pits and we'll try to grow a plant." and then i'm thinking... oh god, i'm really crossing a line here. soon there will be no going back. i could loose friends like this. oh whatever. who cares. in honor of louisa and all my other slightly dorky friends... (oh you know who you are...) i am posting the absolute dorkiest picture i have ever had taken of myself. it may rival the one she sent me a while back. yes, it may... thanks to Tara for knowing how to spot a real geek.i figure this can give you an idea of my working environment. peppe is super jealous of my "double monitor situation". ha! looks like we may have spotted another dork!! it also shows you just how very messy my desk is.annnnnnywayyyyyyyyy, back to the first harvest. stefano was cruising around the garden on the tractor and just so happened to have a huge swiss army knife in his pocket that he's very proud of. i believe it was a gift from piero. it had it's debut on easter day and what a debut it was! so he was passing by as i was contemplating ripping zucchini off of the plants. or using my new fingernails to somehow cut through the vine. it really was quite fortunate that he was passing by. i can be so impatient. and dorky.

ZUCCHINI! tomatoes and lettuce... (let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together... that one is for Tara as she says that every time i say lettuce... i think this sufficiently puts her in the dork group too.)Peas!if anyone else wants to join the group just write a comment explaining why you think you deserve to be part of the dork group. and yes, being part of dorkestra counts.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Thanks julien!! What a wonderful weekend... from start to bottom it was just so nice to hang out with the old friends and new friends and do all the things we love... like eat, drink, play and gab.
We were so lucky that Mike and Ewa managed to drive all the way from Basel, Switzerland. And that Bernardo drove all the way from Bologna with a car full of tortellini and grapa. And that Diane, although she had a super important exam on Wednesday and another on Thursday, managed to rally and make it too! map of where we all came from!

(L-R) Bernardo, Peppe, Emelie, Julien, Ewa, Mike, Diane

Luckily we had time to do the things we like to do and in such a g-damn lovely setting. Provence is so beautiful!I was amazed - irises everywhere, flowers like you just can't imagine. Unfortunately we were a little early for the lavender, but next time... and yes, there will be a next time.

The first evening, before nano arrived, we did some grilling and swimming in the pool.

the pool was soooooo beautiful... if only the weather had been a little better, i don't think we would have left it! the house is a really special place. the setting is gorgeous and the interiors are very unique and lovely. i want to especially thank judi (julien's mom) for letting us stay and hope she's not too upset about the wine all over the couch.... just kiddingggg!!!!

As became the custom very quickly, dinner was preceded by some pastis or beer and pétanque which most teams managed to have their lucky day with. personally, i like to think that julien and i were the real winners, but it appears that peppe and ewa, aka the "wet turtles", (don't ask) may have been the actual champions.
"it's totally ours, dude."D lines up her lob
Sunday Mike and Ewa wanted to take us climbing. This is a sport that i participated in once when i was 14 at camp takodah (all hail takodah T-A-K-O-D-A-H, takodah all hail... all hail hadocat...) - needless to say, i may have forgotten a few of the key moves. I never really made it back into a harness until this past Sunday. Mike and Ewa are pretty experienced climbers and they really impressed me (to be fair nano is too, but he hadn't arrived yet). it was a lot of fun to watch them and to try it out and just overall really cool of them to teach us the ropes. (I'm sorry, i had to do that...)
Mikey - the lead climber - takes on the challenge and sets up our climbing thingy. (there's a lot of lingo - some of which we picked up and used and reused all weekend long for various non-climbing related reasons and some of which we didn't bother learning at all. the word for climbing thingy is surely not climbing thingy, but you know what i mean...)Ewa - aka spiderwoman, finds all the jugs even though it was pretty greasy and manages to clean up on her way down. (see i told you we learned some lingo . I'm not promising that I'm using it in the right way... but whatever, who cares?)Julien - aka The Monkey - no one was very surprised that he seemed to be a natural ;-)peppe rocks it (hehe) even though he's without the "superduper climbing shoesies". (can you believe that's what they call them?!)me.... climb on!finally nano joins in the fun and all together we finished this great day off with a lovely meal which julien prepared for us and some divine wine from a local winery that was really just so good. as had become custom the evening was concluded with some cut throat card playing and a**hole was the game of choice, chosen specifically because it allows you to bully your friends.

Monday we went on a great hike just around the corner from the house. It was a walk into and along the ridge of the Alpilles near saint-rémy. On our way to the hike we walked past an airfield that carries gliders up, up, up and releases them into the wind. It was really cool to see this little plane shuttling these gliders into the sky and then coming back down and reloading. it sparked up some great stories of planes crashing into cars while camping in Poland... and all the aviation experience in our group of friends. i think that's what may have led us into the trivia war that lasted a good portion of the hike. i feel smarter now that i know how long it takes for us to see light given off by the sun.... any guesses?????
glider being pulled:glider gliding:
the weather was gorgeous and we had baguette sandwiches and pain au chocolat in our packs. what more could you ask for??? the hike was stunning. these massive rocks jutting into the sky made one understand why this part of France is so famous for it's climbing.

some fauna:these boys try to climb everything they's our last night all together and we did some amazing grilling. plus nano had brought some tortellini con prosciutto with panna (cream)... absolutely delicious! so that was a light meal... hehe. the region was full of these awesome heirloom tomatoes that i became kind of obsessed with... here's Diane and i "making art".
after a hitting up a local winery and purchasing some exquisite vin, a little pétanque and apperitif we nestled in for dinner and a**hole.

last day in st-rémy we hit up the town and hung out...
it was hard to say goodbye to all my lovely friends. but we did. because you have to. and you can only hope that it's not too long before you see them again and are surrounded by people you luuurve....
bye bye saint-rémy. thanks julien for organizing everything. and thanks to d for finding us a room in aix--- we owe you one ;-)