food. family. life.

what i was reading…. 30.september.2013

{buon compleanno.} happy birthday. bon anniversaire.

Today I celebrate the day I was born. I love my birthday; a chance to look back at fond memories and forward, knowing I will make beautiful ones to come. I revel in the amount of years gone by, not afraid of any age. I am aware of the simple gifts life has given me as time passes.

It matters not at all the gifts that come in boxes or large logo-ed bags (although I do treasure a few affordable luxuries in life, as you know.) I prefer to add to my list of favorites the following simple pleasures, those that cost little, but give so much back in return:

1. Throwing a casual dinner; sharing great food and plenty of wine with famiglia and friends over plenty of conversation and laughter.

2. Watching a well-loved or much-anticipated new movie with Dan and our girls, sharing popcorn and treats we love.

3. Dinner table conversation with Dan and the girls, it is always a combination of frustration, debate and pure entertainment.

4.  Talking with friends and family who live far away, sharing life stories and catching up on lost moments. Looking through old and new photographs; reminiscing and dreaming away some time.

5. Cracking open a freshly purchased book (printed copy, of course) in a somewhat quiet house with a cup of Earl Grey tea and snacks to take me from chapter to chapter… looking up at the clock and realizing that half the day is gone.

I am a libra, a wife, a mom, a friend and a daughter, an artist, a foodie, a writer, an adventurer and an explorer. I have become all these mostly due to my famiglia’s teachings and personal experiences.

I wish to say thank you to my entire famiglia, my friends near and far, my incredible husband and our very cool daughters. Without you, I could not have lived to experience any of my moments; the challenging, frightening ones (these I am most grateful for as they have forced me to see what and who really matters.) and the thousands of remarkable ones that are preserved in my memory.

Today I celebrate who I am and who I will continue to become because of all of you. Grazie tante for all the birthday wishes sent my way and for being a part of this life I love so much.

I will share what I was reading… on this day of my birth, 30.september.2013. Note, for those who share my day of birth, take a moment to say thank you and share food and wine with all of us in mind, as I will be doing for all of you.

1. FOOD. In honor of my birthday, let’s talk about cake (torte). As a child, birthday cakes were very different from most for my famiglia. They were mostly made by the mothers and grandmothers and they were simple cakes, often filled with vanilla and chocolate custard, soaked in liqueur or rum (yes, even for the little children) and not a stitch of frosting. The top decorated with simple lemon sugar glazes, candied cherries, toasted almond slices or simply powdered sugar (whipped cream was optional with some of us.)

I was jealous of my American friends and their sugary cakes, but soon realized the meaning behind our cakes at each birthday. Handmade with love, shared with the entire famiglia, these cakes represented our family’s culture, history and the quiet honoring of those living far away and those who had passed.

Photo after photo in my collections show the variety of cakes made by my famiglia for each birthday. I recently recreated a simple classic cake recipe that is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast and evening snack, called “Ciambella Romagnola” which I will be sharing on the blog soon.

I am also in search of a traditional birthday cake recipe that I can recreate for the blog, one that will remind me and my famiglia of the wonderful birthdays we celebrated together as children.

2. MUSICA. Dan and I were driving back from a weekend errand run and this song played on the radio. We both fell in love with the quirky lyrics and catchy beat instantly. It took me a few weeks but I finally located the musician and the song to share with you today.

Look for Frank Turner and the song we love “Recovery” and his other songs and albums. This one has already been downloaded to our music collection and I am currently listening to more of his tracks; he even has a song called “Dan’s Song“… how cool is that?

3. ART.  Everyone benefits from art. Creating art, viewing art, there are even many disciplines where art is therapy for the ailing, abused and aging. Do you take the time create something? Are you sharing creativity and art with your children and family? Do the world a favor and shut off the TV, smart phone, computer and iPad and explore ways to be creative with your family. 

Try your hand at simple painting crafts by visiting your local art store and seeing what inspires you. Often your local store will offer free or inexpensive classes to learn a specific skill or create a specific craft item for your home.

Take out your family camera, both digital and film, (you can even use your smart phone here!) and go outside and show your children how to explore and shoot beautiful pictures of the world they live in and the amazing things they can find there.

Explore photo tips online for quick expert advice on framing and capturing the best images every time. Create a photo album for each of your children showcasing their work and watch them learn and grow with image they shoot.

Plan to create some art soon, you can even discuss the idea of gift making for the upcoming holidays which we have done with the girls since they were toddlers.

4. FASHION. Sweaters and leather jackets. These are personal obsessions of mine. I have a black leather jacket I found in Milano, Italia on one of my trips, I wear this every fall and winter.

Find a great classic leather or suede jacket to add to your closet this season, it will be your first go-to item every year and more. Florence is the leather capital of Italia where clothing, handbags and shoes are crafted still today.

Oxitaly black pump (courtesy of

Invest in beautifully crafted leather products for you and that special guy in your life. Plan to wear those new threads out on the town this fall and winter season.

Ciao per adesso!




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