Friday, May 30, 2014

This Week In May


Buddy The Dog (that's his name...said really fast all together; buddythedog) continues to settle in to our home.  He is afraid of everything and still runs and hides the moment someone shows up to our front door.  With us though? He is sweet and lovable and silly and we love him very, very much.

Last weekend we visited a doggie play group at our neighborhood park.  Buddy freaked out, bolted for home (on the leash, which meant we bolted for home, too) and was an utter emabrrasment.

He didn't care...or at least pretended to not care.

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Matthew came home for a visit.  He needs to be out of his current apartment on June 1st, so this weekend he will move all his furniture, his books and clothing, a bunch of bikes and even more trumpets home.  

Home is a 1,200 sq ft little house on a little street.  A little house on a little street with NO garage.

We are about to become close...really, really close.  He hasn't lived here since 2008 and is only here on and off this summer (he's teaching and traveling all summer with a drum and bugle corps) and is then planning on moving to a different state, but in the meantime I am looking forward to having this trio all under one little roof for awhile.

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Helva...a sesame seed turkish (jewish?) treat that I cannot seem to get enough of.  It comes in different flavors...I've had pistachio and plain and chocolate and tomorrow I will be visiting every middle eastern market in search of more, more, more.

Perfect with morning coffee, afternoon tea, evening champagne.

Trust me.

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The cat brought me an early morning present...a live bird which I thought had flown right back out the door.  A few hours later there was quite the commotion...a commotion a involving flying bird, a dog on the kitchen table (found something he is NOT afraid of!) and two cats jumping and hissing and climbing the curtains.  Oh, and one mom with a broom in hand, screaming.  Loudly.

It was...legendary.

I'm happy to report that the bird finally flew out, the dog went back to being scared of everything,  and the cats took a well deserved afternoon nap.

Welcome to our zoo.

Our happy hour snack yesterday...persian cucumbers, fresh from the garden radishes, sea salt, european butter and crusty french bread.  Simple and delicious.

Summer...it's coming.  I feel it!

I heard Maya Angelou speak at a conference a decade or so ago and it was one of those experiences I hold close to my heart.  I was far away, in the cheap seats, yet she wasn't one where that mattered...it was her words that mattered.  She was one amazing woman...one I hope my children's children will read about.

I'm so happy it's the weekend...we've been invited to a dinner, there is a funeral to attend, prom pictures for our beautiful neighbor to watch, a garden to water, a book to finish, church, and a meal or three to cook.  It's full but a good kind of full...praying for a little sleep in there as well.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Hollywood Night


We drove North to the big city on Monday night for a concert...Matteo was playing in the orchestra of a performance of Verdi's Requiem in Hollywood and we don't see him all that often.

Monday nights aren't the easiest...it was an hour away, the concert was at 8:00pm and work the next morning started really, really early.  But he's our boy and a grown up and I wanted to hear him play...so off we went.

Our plan was to go early and eat at Langer's in Los Angeles but when we pulled up it was closed...so plan B.  Phillipe's.  It's another LA institution and while our boys have all been there with other people, that guy that I like so much and I haven't.

It. Was. Yummy.

French dips (he had the lamb, which they cut right off the bone in front of us) with homemade potato salad and cole slaw and super, super good boysenberry pie for dessert.  Not pictured?  Ice cold, on tap, beer.

It was great...definitely worth another visit if we are up that way.

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 The performance was at an old Hollywood church, the church where Bing Crosby got married.  

Cool.

The concert was amazing...especially the trumpet section.

The photo bomber?  The conductor...and a former professor of Matthew's.

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After, because we were still under our daily calorie count of 10,000, we headed to Pink's.

Because when in Rome...

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I will say, they got our order totally wrong, which never happens at Pink's.  Usually they are spot on, but we had a new guy and the poor thing was a little...confused.  

Happens to the best of us.

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But a screw up at pink's is still great and while the dogs were good it is all about (in my book, anyway) the onion rings.

Oh my.  Oh my.  Oh my.

And nope...the new location close to us is NOT the same as the La Brea location so drive to the original if you are able.  It's worth it.

The next morning?

An extra mile thrown onto my hike.  Necessary, hard, sweaty...but worth every bite from the night before.

Matthew?  He's moving home next week.  Our little house on our little street is about to become a bit more lively.  

Makes this mama happy.  

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Monday, May 26, 2014

The Night I Made Something Complicated


I'm a pretty simple cook...I tend to make things I can throw into a pretty pot, let cook all day long and then pull from the oven and have enough to feed the masses.

This dish?

Goes against everything I believe in.

Basically, you fry eggplant.  You make a marinara.  You make a b├ęchamel. You swear a little bit because you have now dirtied a ton pf pots and pans.  You boil pasta.  You swear some more and maybe, just maybe, shed a tear or two.

You assemble everything, all the while complaining LOUDLY that you will never, ever, ever make a dish like this again.

 And just when you get to the point where you think you just can't handle anything else, you get to the part of the recipe where it says 'cover and refrigerate overnight'.

Seriously.

Refrigerate overnight.

Yeah, right.


OR...throw the cotton pickin' thing in the oven,  open a bottle of wine, and call the neighbors to come over and eat.

Complain a little (or a lot) and drink more wine.  Pull the dish, all steaming and hot and smelling like heaven, from the oven, top with fresh basil, invert onto a plate and cut into it...all along hoping for one of two things:
1. That it tastes horrible so you never have to make something like this again
or
2. That it had better taste good.  Or else.

The end decision?

It was...AMAZING.  Sigh.  After all that, would I make it again?

Yeah.  

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The reason to make it ahead of time?  So you have time to wash all the dishes.

But man oh man, it was SO worth it.  A hundred times worth it.

So...have a cocktail and cook away.  This was true Italian comfort food.

Yum.

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Recipe can be found here:  Eggplant and Pasta Incaciata

Have fun...it's worth it.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Two Weeks Ago vs Four Years Ago


Four years ago, I threw my coins into the Trevi Fountain with the hopes that I'd return to Rome.

 Two weeks ago, wearing what I think are the same sunglasses but clothing that is five sizes smaller,  I threw more coins in and wished the same wish...that I'll return to Rome someday.

Feeling thankful and jet lagged and happy and grumpy all at the same time.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday


One of the most fun thing about traveling with lots of people are the pictures that keep popping up all over social media.  Seriously, I think I've been tagged in no fewer than 800 photos.

And then there are the true gems, like this one.  I even made this photo the screen saver on my computer because it just cracks me up.

Gotta love family.

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That guy that I like so much came home to a garden that needed a lot of TLC...the temps here were over 100 while we were gone and the garden, even though it was watered, didn't hold up all that well.

The best part...an italian cypress on the porch.

Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Jet lag and the return to real life has knocked me for a loop.  I am struggling to stay awake until a normal time so that I can sleep until a normal time and I'm failing miserably.  I know my body will catch up at some point, so in the meantime I am drinking a fair share of coffee.  

I've also learned to never go to Costco while hungry AND sleep deprived.  But the upside?  We're stocked for (gulp) the month.

That guy that I like so much is home for a few days and cooked last night...not just cooked but made my favorite pasta.  Chicken, proscuitto, pasillas, tomatoes, basil...YUM.

He's a keeper.

Today?  MORE laundry.  Work.  Driving with Brian.  And maybe, just maybe, a pot roast of some sort for supper.  I've been itching to cook and haven't since we've been home so tonight is the night.

And then?  Sleep.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Where I've Been...In A Nutshell


Two weeks ago, we hopped a plane.

With these puppies in hand.  And 92 other people in tow.

Helloooo Italy.

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I drank dozens of espresso doppio's.  With two sugars, please.

Visited lots of churches.

Heard amazing music performed by that guy that I like so much's students in places most people just read about.

Climbed this tower...400 steps up!

And this tower, which was shrimpy at only 292 steps up.

 Ate the BEST lunch ever.  Italian street food rocks.

Travelled with this babe, who hadn't been to Europe since he was 6.  He still travels like a dream child and can eat his weight in pizza.

Gorged every single morning on warm sugared croissants slathered with Italian nutella.

And, sigh, gained TEN POUNDS on this trip.

(It was worth it, but still...)

Took no fewer than 100 selfies.

See?

100's of them.  
 

 Lit candles in every church I walked in to.  

Rediscovered my love for color.

No way am I painting my house white anytime soon.

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Celebrated that guy that I like so much's milestone birthday in Venice.  Ditched the group, spent a lovely night at a sweet hotel and splurged on Beliini's at Harry's Bar.

More details to come but for now?  I'm back to work,  there is more laundry than you could ever imagine,  the pets are clingy, the garden is crisp and there is no food in the house.

Home is sweet...and while my heart is here, it is here because of my people.  The other part of my heart belongs there and every time I go back, it feels more like home.  It felt so amazing to share my love for Italy with people I love so very, very much.

Was it all easy?  Nope.  But I'm feeling blessed.  Very, very blessed.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Italy Bound


Our pooch knows he can't leave the porch...but he's getting creative.

Sure do love this dog.  In case you were wondering.

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Today?  Well, today we are hopping a big tin can and flying for many, many hours.

That guy that I like so much and I are heading to Italy with 60 college students and a bunch of tag-alongs.  Brian's coming with (and some other family members) but the older boys are staying behind...think my little house will be standing when we return?

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Prayers for safe travel and good health and a strong witness to those we meet.

Please.

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