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Monthly Archives: July 2012

As Italy Beckons

The in-laws are back from the South of Italy laden with all sorts of goodies; home-made olive oil from their friend’s olive grove in Naples, biscuits and grissini and copious amounts of herbs – a lot of oregano that I have just watched my mother-in-law flake into a huge jar.

Before they departed in their mobile home camper van a month ago, my father-in-law told me he had planted tomato vines in our garden. Upon their return and having bathed in thirty degrees heat, he told me the other day that his tomatoes were now massive and juicy. After a fit of teenage laughter I told him I couldn’t wait to bite into one!

All this food talk got me really, really, excited to get to Italy and today when we finally arrived “home”, I was truly salivating about what delights awaited us for lunch.

I am especially looking forward to Bambina’s reactions to tasting fresh, just picked from the garden, vegetables, juicy fruit and freshly made this morning Ricotta – I am just bursting over with excitement for that!

In the meantime, here are a few of my favourite munchies from my Pinterest board La Mia Bella Cucina. This is for sure what I will be having for lunch for the next ten days!

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Prosciutto wrapped around rosemary grissini with big fat juicy green olives…buona! Foto

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Lovely locally made Ricotta cheese, fresh from the cow this morning Foto

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Mozzarella, so fresh, it’s almost mooning! Foto

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Olives, plenty of them, green, black, soaked in rosemary and garlic oil…Delicioso! Foto

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All washed down with a good glass of chilled, yes chilled, Chianti.  I don’t know if its normal to drink Chianti chilled but it’s how my in-laws like it and in this heat, as long as its cold and wet, im not complaining! Foto

Buon Appetito!!

X-O-X

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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Italia

 

Italian Men: Style Guru?

I have just spent the best part of an afternoon hunting in wardrobes, draws, suitcases and bags to find any item of clothing that fits me. When I say “fit”, I mean go over my leg higher than my knee or over my head lower than my neck!

The air was blue. That was until the Italian came into the room to see what the commotion was. I shed a tiny tear of frustration that my baby weight is trespassing wherever it can set up camp on my body and he burst into laughter explaining that his situation was far worse.

How so? (I won’t attempt to write in my usual take on an Italian accent).

“Well”, he said, “I’ve been a stay at home dad for twelve months, I’ve eaten far more than I should have and exercised far less than I should have. Money has been tight and the majority of my current wardrobe is from Primark.   I’m about to go to Italy where I know my family and friends will ridicule me for the weight gain and chastise me for the ill fitting ill suited outfits.
And you think that you have a problem?!”

Ok amore mio, point taken.

So it seems that the Italian is just as fearful as I am of rocking up in Venice looking like a beached whale in Bermuda shorts and flip flops. Here readers, is the reason for his concern. Italian men are generally very cool, well dressed and always matching. Always!

Just check out these average run if the mill fellas from my Pinterest board, La Mia Bella Moda.

I feel his pain, I really do! That said, I’m really looking forward to the eye candy *glances sheepishly through dark sunglasses as handsome men walk by*.

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Do we really beleive that these guys are on a lunch break from the office? Too cool for school. foto.

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The scarf.  LOVE.  The colours just add a litlte bit of umph.  Italian men, they can do it like this. foto.

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Now this is how you stand out in a crowd! My Italian would wear this, the brighter the better! foto.

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Every Italian man needs a Vespa as his main accessory! foto.

Even older Italian men look fabulous!  In Italy, age doesnt define when you become a slob – check out this old dudes shoes! I wouldnt mind strolling down the strada with him when i’m collecting my pension. foto.

As Shakespeare said, the clothes maketh the man!

X-O-X

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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Italia

 

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The Italian: A Horses Head in my Bed #2

It had been days that I had been able to keep up the facade. I ignored the Italian’s calls and purposefully didn’t return them. I deleted his texts. I gathered his belongings and packed them into a bag.

“What are’a you’a doin’a? You’a been’a stupid’a girl’a now eh?!” he said “answer your’a bloody’a phone’a!!”

After about a week, I took the cowards option again and text him to tell him to come to the flat and collect his things. Five minutes, in and out. Job done.

Having never dated a foreigner before, I was in for a shock.

He was persistent. He arrived, as usual, on time. I could tell he had made an extra effort with his appearance; nice shirt, his best jeans, aftershave.

“Now’a sit’a down’a ere’a an’ tell me’a what the hell’a you’a doin'” he said as he patted the sofa with his Mediterranean tanned, perfectly manicured yet masculine hand.

The “chat” began. He basically lectured me into understanding that if I had a problem with space, I should have told him. If I had a problem with him, I should have told him. If I had a problem being in a relationship, I should have told him. “How’a can’a we jump’a over buildings’a if’a we don’ta talk it?”.

Hurdles. You mean jump over hurdles. Talk about it, not talk it.

I listened. I argued. I explained. This was all going way too fast for me. Only a few months previous I had been free and single and actually loving it. I wasn’t ready for this. The staying over was one thing but staying over permanently was another.

To my surprise, the Italian was, as ever, accommodating. This laid back Mediterranean attitude was new to me. An Englishman would have long stormed out. The Italian, however, was strategically fighting his corner. I couldn’t help but be a tiny bit impressed.

“Guarda” (Look), he said. “You’a like’a me, I’a think’a you’re a not’a that bad’a, you either’a go’a out’a with me’a, or’a you don’t a”. I couldn’t help, again, but be impressed with his candid frankness. “But’a I’a tell’a you this a’now, I’a not puttin’a up with this rabbish, you’a not’a twelve’a eh?!”.

That told me. He wasn’t finished.

“I’a think’a that we ‘av’a good thing ‘ere’a. Now, dont’a you’a look’a ‘orse in Its’a mouth’a to count’a all Its’a teeth’a! Ok?!”.

Don’t look a horse in its mouth to count all it’s teeth?? After an enormous fit if giggles at how stupid he sounded I realised he was telling me that as we had a good thing, I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and just accept things as they were.

I did accept things and I stayed with him. I gave it a shot and with a bit more communication and a lot of patience, we both settled into our new circumstances.

It wasn’t before long that the very thing I had been running from happened.

The Italian moved in officially and that was that. I had committed to having his horse’s head on the pillow next to me forever more but promised never to look in his mouth to count his teeth!

X-O-X

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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in London

 

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Italian Women: Style Guru?

Yesterday I was Skyping my sister-in-law to confirm that she has a push chair for me to borrow next week when we touch down in Venice town.

I haven’t seen her for a while as she has been at her in-laws beach house in the South of Italy. I was horrified!

There she was all tanned and brown as a berry, all slim and svelte, not a hair out of place and wearing a beautiful cerise pink summer dress. There I was, all white and pasty, still in my pajamas, yesterday’s mascara had slid to my cheek and my hair hadn’t seen a brush for days!

Oh dear Lord! What am I to do? I’ve got a week to wax, EVERYTHING, pedicure, manicure, hair died, eyebrows done, skin scrubbed, fake baked and dig out any item of summer clothing I have that 1) fits me thirteen months after giving birth and 2) isn’t black. It’s a task but for the sake of vanity I’m up for the challenge. Think Susan Boyle meets Sofia Loren!

This is it, you see, Sofia Loren, she’s a icon; beautiful, classy, stylish, sexy. She’s Italian. Italian women just have it.  Dont they?

Here are a few effortlessly stylish signorinas from my Pinterest board La Mia Bella Moda showing us how Italian fashion, street style, is done.

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Love this yellow dress and colouful shoes.  I would definitely need a tan for this outfit! foto.

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The shoes.  Elegant.  Nude.  Loving a nude shoe these days but again, doesnt look great with pasty white legs – tan me up! foto.

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Now I happen to know that this little number is Dolce & Gabbana.  Its a classic and teamed up with flats and 50’s sunnies, this is right up my strada! foto.

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Again, flat embellished shoes go so great with this pretty dress.  Got to get me some jewelled flats! foto.

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Imagine looking this cool when youre in your lounge gear! Italian style is most certainly in the genes. foto.

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This is my favourite! I’m not too into tattoos (I dont have any) but I love the dress, the hat, the flat shoes and i even love the tatty cotton bracelets.  This girl just oozes cool, chatting on a street corner.  Belissima! foto.

You see what I’m up against!! Wish me luck.

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2012 in Italia

 

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The Italian: A Horses Head in my Bed #1

When I had returned from traveling, my flat was rented to tenants so I had to wait for their contract to end before I could move back in.

In the meantime, I was renting a room in a house, where I met the Italian who was visiting someone, that belonged to a friend. After a series of ‘you can’t do that’ and ‘you can’t do this’ arguments with the “managers” of the house, I decided to leave.

I moved into a shirt let studio flat about three months after starting my thing with the Italian and finally, adored what was going to be my own space. Wrong.

Obviously having our freedom at last was a great thing fit me and the Italian but after about a week, I realised that he hadn’t been home. Piles of his clothes had started to congregate in corners and he had accumulated more toiletries in the bathroom than me! I started to get cold feet.

Only a few months previous I had been downing cocktails in posh Sydney bars, kayaking in Laos and eating BBQ’d crickets in Cambodia. Now, here I was cohabiting with an Italian man, living in a bedsit and thinking ‘wooah, this isn’t what I signed up for!”.

The Italian did all the right things; called when he said would, always turned up on time, cooked me amazing dinners. It just wasn’t working for me.

I tried to approach the subject but I took the cowards way out and just started either being nasty to him or just ignoring him altogether. That’s what guys do, right? Turn on the Marty do that you get annoyed and end up calling it off.

One day, I woke up to the Italians main laying on the pillow next to me and everything started to close in. Breathe, breathe I told myself. Take one deep breathe, get up, get washed and leave.

I went to work that day with the decision made: OVER.  It was over.

X-O-X

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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in London

 

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Quandary of a Working Mother

Today was my worst nightmare.

As I sat plugging away at gaping holes in my work schedule, my phone rang. The Italian, in a trying to stay calm tone, informed me that they were in the ambulance but all was ok.

Ambulance?? As he had reached for Bambina’s sippy cup, she had wriggled out of the high chair harness and went for an Olympic gold at floor diving, crashing her head into a marble floor. It took all of twenty seconds to happen but twenty seconds too long.

I gasped a breath. My daughter was in an ambulance on her way to hospital and I was on my way to an “appointment”. My mind raced. What should I do? I had always imagined my immediate reaction to such an incident would be to down tools and go straight home. To my surprise, I found myself in a quandary.

Go home, immediately my conscience told me. Yet, I reasoned with myself that this was the first of many falls and I can’t run home every time. So, I stayed put plugging away at my gaping holes of priority lists.

Then I had an attack of guilt. I had left my poor injured child to go it alone when she needed me!. Am I such a bad mother that I don’t put her at the top of my priority list?

I reasoned again that she wasn’t alone. She was perfectly fine, with her daddy. Perfectly safe, with her daddy. No, I’m not a bad mother for not rushing at every whim. Yet, I do wonder why I didn’t fall immediately into panic mode. Perhaps my motherly instinct told me that the Italian was right, all was actually ok. Bambina was alright, a minor bump to the head but still intact enough to give Dolly a finger-wagging telling off. It was probably Dolly’s fault anyway.

As a first time mum, a working mum, it’s difficult to find the right balance. What I came to accept today is that my decisions may not always be the right ones, that I need to let go of the control reigns a bit more and hand them over, without question or judgement, to the Italian.  That I can’t split myself into various forms in order to be everywhere and do everything that might be expected of me, or that I might expect of myself.

How do you do it? How do you find the balance between work and home? I’m sure the answer is practice and that’s what I’m intending to do.

It’s a topic that’s new to me and one that I’m sure I’ll always be in a quandary about.

X-O-X

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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in London

 

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First Impressions Don’t Count

My first impressions of Italy & Italians in general wasn’t great. I thought they were loud. They are. I thought they were obsessed with their own beauty, country or otherwise. They are. I thought they were obsessed with “their” food. They are. In fact, I already told you in a previous post that my brother-in-law was so bemused my preference of Indian food over Italian, and my preference over Buenos Aires to Bologna, that he hasn’t spoken to me since!

As mine and the Italians relationship grew, I started to notice little things that increasingly annoyed me. There were traits in his character that were just, well, odd.

For example, he would never, EVER, eat a meal without having a serviette by his plate. If there wasn’t one, he would rather his meal go cold whilst he got one than start eating a hot meal without it. He thought I was odd for not using a serviette.

“You’a need it’a for cleaning’a you’re mouth’a” he told me. Yes, that would be true if I missed my mouth and got my food all over my chin like he did.

After five years of being together and almost two of those married, I now realise how important the use of a serviette is.

Italian food consists of so much spaghetti sucking, sauce splashing and olive oil dripping that without a serviette to mop up the aftermath, Italy would be one messy place!

I, like any good Italian wife, now provide a serviette at every meal.

Still on the wiping topic, our kitchen is always full of cloths and tea towels. To this day, it drives me totally insane. The reason, the Italian claims, is because you shouldn’t wipe the work top with the same cloth you washed the dishes with. You shouldn’t dry your hands with the same tea towel that you dried the dishes with. Therefore multiples of everything is required. It’s the same in his mothers house, every cloth has a purpose and woe betide if you use the wrong cloth by mistake!

After all this time I have grown to accept, maybe not yet love, the nuances that make our cross cultural relationship different. The little things no longer annoy me but every now and again I feel it’s my right to have a rant about the things that make us who we are.

I have grown to adore Italy and much to the Italian’s delight, I now see it is my second home. I love the people (mostly), I love the food and I love the culture. I especially have fallen in love with and have adopted the Italian sense of family values.

I want Bambina to grow up embracing her two cultures and understanding that the differences are what makes our little family unique.

I’m pleased to say that I was mistaken about Italy and its race all those years ago.

First impressions don’t count!

X-O-X

* Check out this picture on my Pinterest board, La Mia Bella Cucina 

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in London

 

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