Remembering 31 Days

hallooooween 023In October I struggled with finding peace in our old house. I and it are still trying to get to know one another but I did manage to let go of some of the stress. Here is a recap of some of my favorites. You can also check out the whole series here.

I started off by sharing the spiral park that is outside my door. It is the first thing that is in my memory when I think of meeting Nico and appropriate for the beginning of this series. Our citrus trees came next and they are full of lemons and the oranges are ripening and will be ready soon.

I talked a lot about food. From pizza, ice cream, fruit and of course pasta. Then we came to day 10.

But despite that lapse October days kept going by and I kept trying to find things to appreciate. There were hidden treasure and life lessons, ingenuity and patience (still working on that one). Desserts, wine and the Farmers’ Market . (I love Thursdays!).

There were also potential in this old house, views steeped in history and local specialties.

But the best part of the 31 Days series were the most important reminders as to why we are here. Regardless of where I live my family and the times I get to spend with Isabella is the most important reason for being anywhere.

Family–31 Days to a Happier Home

The End.

Well almost. The final day of this series and my final reason. Family. Its essentially why we moved here. I wanted to be able to stay home with Isabella and have a more family orientated atmosphere. Before we came to Italy I worked part time from 11-6 but my commute added an hour to each end of that day. By the time I would get home I’d see my baby for a couple of hours and then she would be off to bed. Having the morning was okay but with her not sleeping through the night or when she would sleep in late (which she doesn’t do anymore) we just didn’t have that much time together. It made me miserable.

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Added that I wanted our family to have more time together, not just after work time. The average American family spends after 6 and weekends together. I didn’t want to be an after 6 and weekends family. 

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So I quit my job and we moved here. It’s been fun, frustrating, hot, exciting and interesting. But most of all its been the best way I want to be with my daughter.

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No matter if we stay in Italy forever, move back to the US or move to Timbuktu, no matter what I know that I want to be able to devote the majority of my time to her – not to anything else. Do I miss work? Actually not really. There are so many other things that are more important. Listening to her say ducky or buk at the chicken.

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Whenever my frustration hits boiling point it helps to remember what I am here for. To be home with her. Would I have been able to do it in the US, probably eventually but everyday I went to work I felt like I was missing something. Not the moments, even though of course I was afraid to miss those. I felt I was missing a part of me. It sounds corny and cliché but being Isabella’s mom is who I am supposed to be. Yes I am more than that but this is my dream job.

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I also love that I can be home for Nico. When we were in the US at first he wasn’t able to work and then we made the hard decision that until we decided where we would go after Isabella was born that he would stay home with her instead of putting her in daycare. Daycare was something I just didn’t want to do plus it was ridiculously expensive in the area we lived in. You needed a second income just to be able to afford it. He worked hard taking care of her and helping around the house. While I am not great at being a housewife I try.

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Making a home for Nico and Isabella is all I really want. I want us to be able to live comfortably, happily and to be with each other as much as possible. Life shouldn’t be about making a living, it should be about living!  So for me reason #31 and the number 1 reason for my everyday is my family.

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Happy Halloween! October is over and so is this project. I will do a follow-up post in a couple of days but I hope you enjoyed seeing so many different things! What is your family life like? How has it’s importance affected your decision making? Please share in the comments.

Cheese!–31 Days to a Happier Home

I cant believe I’ve gone through all of October without once mentioning cheese! Italy is known for its glorious parmigiano reggiano, grana padano – Italy knows its cheese. Sardinia is no exception and makes some of the best cheeses of all of Italy. In particular are their sheep’s milk cheeses.

We already talked a little bit about Pecorino Sardo when I showed you my favorite desert, Sebadas, but that is just the tip of the cheese wedge. There are so many different types of Sardinian cheese. Soft, hard, strong and mild, these cheeses cover a wide gamut.

We have a lovely wedge of Pecorino Originale – which means its an artisanal cheese, handmade. And it was cheap. It tastes a little like cheddar but is unique on its own. And of course we have fresh grated parmesan. We do eat a lot of pasta after all.

One more day, I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad! I’ve shared a lot this month about what I love about living in Italy. What is your favorite cheese? Does your area offer any kind of specialty? Please share in the comments.

**images courtesy Wikimedia Commons**

History–31 Days to a Happier Home

When I was in high school I hated American History but thrived in European History. I don’t know why but American History was just so … boring. And yet  European History with its Romanticism and age and the trials and tribulations, I could study it all. I even was a history major for a brief time and sometime I wish…

But that’s the past (ha!). Here in Capoterra we are surrounded by history. Like most European cities you can see the history still in each building. Sardinia is rich with history. In fact Sardinia is home to its own ancient civilization and some of the artifacts still remain today.

These are Nuraghe and the were built by Nuragic Civilization. We never studied these in any of my history classes but Nico told me about them when we first met. We haven’t been out to see one in person yet, but there is one nearby.

Nuraghe are beehive in shape and their true purpose is unknown. Scholars speculate that they could have been religious, simply dwellings, strongholds – but no one really knows. There are some 8,000 Nuraghes left in Sardinia but there may have been as many as 30,000!

The Nuragic people existed from 18-15th century BC until about 2nd century BC when Rome came to Sardinia. The Phoenicians also came in 1st century BC. The Nuragic people existed in tribes, developed vast monuments, giants graves and truly not much is known about them. For me this is all fascinating and deserving of a much longer post to come.

The End is near! All October I have been sharing something I love about my home. What history does your region contain? I grew up in Virginia, near some pretty nice colonial sites and now this! Please share your histories in the comments.

***all images and information courtesy of Wikipedia***

Pretty Pumpkins–31 Days to a Happier Home

I already did a post on the Farmers Market. It’s wonderful. It was especially pretty today. The air was crisp the sun was shining and the fruits and veggies just seemed to be extra vibrant today. However I hadn’t had any luck finding any winter squash yet. Including pumpkin. I’d seen some half pieces of some orange colored squash every now and then but nothing that got me too excited.

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It was depressing seeing recipe after recipe on all my favorite cooking blogs. So I was anxious to get my hands on some. We even bought some seeds knowing that we wouldn’t even be able to harvest until next year. But today I went early. And luckily one of the vendors we normally frequent had pumpkin and turban squash. Not only did she have some she had a lot! It was wonderful.

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I picked up the two pumpkins, four turban squash, three big peppers and some zucchini for about 25 euros. The pumpkin and the squash were obviously the more expensive parts of my purchase but I am looking forward to roasting the pumpkin for puree. Nico wants pie, I want bread!

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As for the turban squash, I’ve never cooked with it before so I will be scouring the internet for the best ways to cook up these little beauties. I’m hoping that my friend butternut squash might make the rounds eventually but even if it doesn’t the squashes I have found are sure to keep me busy.

Throughout the month of October I am sharing 31 things that I love about living in Italy and my home. What are your favorite uses for pumpkin and other winter squash? Please share your ideas in the comments.

Let’s Talk Trash–31 Days to a Happier Home

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Image Courtesy of chrissatchwell

Yep this post is all about trash. Food waste, paper debris and tin cans – it all has to go somewhere And here in our town they have the trash elimination system down to a science. And a calendar.

Mandatory recycling is the norm here. It was difficult to get used to at first but now, even if we were to ever live anywhere else I would implement this system in what ever home I lived in. Here’s how it works. Trash must be separated into five categories:

  • Umido – this is food items, eggs shells, orange peel. Any kind of food items that is biodegradable.
  • Secco – this is anything that isn’t recyclable. Dirty diapers (we have a lot of these) certain food containers
  • Carta – All paper trash
  • Plastica – all recyclable plastics
  • Vetro & Alumino – Glass and aluminum trash.

Our trash pick up occurs over several days as well.

Monday – Secco and Umido

Wednesday – Carta and Umido

Thursday – Plastica

Friday – Secco and Umido

Nothing on Tuesdays and the weekend. Which is great so long as you don’t forget to take your trash out at night. The commune even provides the trashcans that are needed to sort and separate the trash. There are also requirement as to the kind of bags that are required. Umido trash must be put in biodegradable bags. Plastic trash goes into clear bags and paper trash should be in some sort of paper bag or box. We use the paper bread bags or the diaper boxes and only do our paper trash every couple of weeks.

I think this system is great, we are doing out part to help the environment and it really puts into perspective just how much waste a household really creates. I wish we could do more for a diaper trash and maybe for our next child we will switch to cloth diapers but I think Isabella has been through enough adjustments in her little life for now.

Throughout October I am sharing something I love about living in Italy. Do you recycle? What tips and tricks do you use to make it easier? Please share in the comments.

Sea Salt–31 Days to a Happier Home

Sardinia is surrounded by the sea. So of course they have wonderful sea salt. They even make it near by. We drove past a sea salt refinery(?) and you could see the tarps spread out allowing the water to evaporate and leaving the salty crystals behind (I wish I had snapped a picture!)

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Photo by !paco!

The best part about the sea salt – the price. Its super cheap. A bag a fine or coarse sea salt ranges 19-30 cents. CENTS! Its fantastic.

And the flavor. The salt is the best tasting salt I’ve ever had. Its just saltier. I know not a great description. But its got that umami, cant really describe kind of taste. It enhances the food. Makes great pasta, would probably make even better margaritas (I wouldn’t know yet.)

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Good Salt is essential to great cooking and the salt here really does make a difference. And the price for the flavor just cant be beat.

Winding down towards the end! Throughout October I have shared 31 things I love about living in Italy. Is there a spice special to your region that you cant live without? Please share in the comments.

Because I don’t care about the AAP–31 Days to a Happier Home

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that children two years and under avoid ALL television what-so-ever. I think the AAP forgets that sometimes mommas need a break and sometimes watching tv, together isnt necessarily a bad thing. Zombie children bad, tired, frazzled parents worse.

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So we let Isabella watch tv from time to time. Not all day, although when I was sick we did have a movie day. But Isabella is no zombie. She moves and plays, stops paying attention. Although she does have her favorites. Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure is one. She meows at the mouse (she things he’s a cat) she helps the fairies lift the fog, cheers for the goose when he lands, and helps the electric guitar music fairy conduct music. In a word, it’s adorable.

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She also watches a show that I watched when I was a teenager. And she loves it. And I love that she loves it. In America the show has been off the air for probably 10 years but in Italy they decided to re-air recently.

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Sailor Moon. I loved, loved this show. I couldn’t wait to show it to Isabella when she got older. Little did I know I wouldn’t have long to wait. She dances when the theme music starts. She cheers when she transforms. I have a small collection of Sailor Moon items (I did mention I loved the show right?) and she smiles at the dolls. It warms my heart, makes me smile to share this with her.

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And its because we are in Italy that I get to do so.

Throughout the month of October I am sharing something I love about living in Italy. Have you shared something from your childhood with someone you love? Please share in the comments.

Sun & Moon–31 Days to a Happier Home

I was going to upload some fantastic photos but the camera has decided to die and not in a just replace the batteries kind of way. Building this on what I have on the card – great pics of Isabella always save the day!

Our home has two long hallways. The one that is closest to the outside of the home has huge arching windows – five I think plus a glass doorway. In Sardinian it is called sa lolla – which means, well Nico says it means the place where you put plants… He’s such a great translator. In reality it is like a sun porch. We have several tall plants that his grandmother grew from a single stalk.

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Nico put his desk there also – the space is pretty big. The kitchen is at the end oh the hall too. For now the walls are white and there are old faded curtains that have pink roses and green leaves. But I want to pant it a lighter blue than the kitchen and put in crisp white curtains. And Nico wants to paint a sun at the end opposite of the kitchen. There’s some patching that needs to be done We did some patching today, and I hope we can start on it next weekend.

Mirror to the Sun Hall we have what we call the Moon Hallway. This hallway is darker because there aren’t any windows in it – just the main doorway. The Moon hall leads to the unused (by us) dining room and original kitchen. For the moon hall we haven’t really decided what color we would like to pain it.

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But Nico does want to put a Moon at the end of the hall – probably the end that leads to the dining room. I also call this hallway the ‘Waiting Room’ because it holds all the unused chairs from current and past dining sets. There are a set of tan leather chairs (that I wish I could fit into the living room, although they may end up in our bedroom), a set of white and dark wood chairs, brown plaid wood chairs and many, many pictures of Jesus. Oh and Del Piero. Well not really, just his shirt.

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The Sun Hallway is typical of Sardinian homes and I love that we have a mirror moon hallway to compliment it. Its just one more thing that makes this house interesting.

Throughout October I have been sharing things I love about my home and Italy. Does your home have any unique features? Please share in the comments.

Patience–31 Days to a Happier Home

Okay not something I necessarily love but something I need instead. Something that living here is teaching me as much as I want to fight the lesson. Patience. It’s so easy to say you just have to be patient. To wait just a little bit and the rewards will be worth it. But its so hard.

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I don’t want to wait for the house to be fixed up. I want it done now.

I don’t want to have to look for craft supplies. I want to go to Michaels and find them now.

I don’t want to wait til next year when we can grow edible pumpkins. I want to make pumpkin pie now.

I could probably keep going, but I wont. Its counter productive. Plus looking for online resources for craft supplies is sometimes fun and sometimes frustrating. Working on the house, when I get to do it, isn’t that bad. I have a great kitchen. Painting the sun hallway, finding new curtains, setting up a room for Isabella – all these things are worth doing right and not rushing into.

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As for the pumpkin. We did get a nice carving pumpkin and the climate is a bit warmer than the eastern US, maybe (hopefully) it will show up in a bit…I hope. In any event I saw some nice winter squash one early morning at the market. They didn’t have any last time we went but it was towards to the end of the market day – it could’ve been snatched up. I’ll have to be quicker next time.

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I can change. I can try be more patient. It’s not easy, but over time as we make the changes this house so needs, I can make the changes I need for me as well.

Throughout October I am sharing 31 things I love about my home and living in Italy. What do you do when you get impatient? How do confront the things you cannot change? Please share your thoughts in the comments.