Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Winter Garden, Lower Manhattan

I went into lower Manhattan last week and the city was just beginning to put up decorations for Christmas, as you can see by this photo of Liberty Park near Ground Zero.
(all photos enlarge when clicked on)

In the photo foreground is Seward Johnson's 1982 metal sculpture of a businessman called "Double Check." This sculpture became a makeshift memorial after 9/11, and was eventually returned to the artist until the park could be rebuilt. He was reinstalled recently, along with some temporary Christmas trees and lights on the new honey locust trees that have been planted in the park.

I walked over to the Winter Garden on the opposite end of Ground Zero hoping it would have some decorations up too, but it wasn't as yet decorated. The Winter Garden is a 10-story glass-vaulted pavilion on Vesey Street in New York City's World Financial Center. It houses various trees and flowers, restaurants and shops. The rear of the building opens onto the World Financial Center Plaza and the North Cove Yacht Harbor on the Hudson River.
The Winter Garden also serve as a venue for art exhibits, music, and shows, as well as hosting movie screenings during the TriBeCa Film Festival.

The Winter Garden Atrium, along with the rest of World Financial Center, was designed by architect César Pelli in 1985. Completed in 1988 at a cost of $60 million, the Atrium was originally connected to the World Trade Center via a 400-foot pedestrian bridge that spanned the West Side Highway.

It was severely damaged in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade center and its pedestrian bridge was destroyed. The Winter Garden was the first major structure to be completely restored following the attacks, and reopened on September 17, 2002. The pedestrian bridge was replaced by windows facing the former site of the World Trade Center as you can see in the photo below. This area is the best view of the rebuilding going on in Ground Zero, and the windows usually attract many tourists and New Yorkers who look through them to the construction site.

This is the best view I could get for the beginnings of the "Freedom Tower" or the new One World Trade Center. Construction for the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower began on April 27, 2006. When completed the Freedom Tower will consist of 2.6 million square feet of office space, as well as an observation deck, world-class restaurants, parking, and broadcast and antennae facilities. Below-ground tenant parking and storage, shopping and access to the PATH and subway trains and the World Financial Center will also be provided. Hopefully the economic slowdown will not effect its completion.

Some of the views of Ground Zero from the Winter Garden's panoramic windows.

Another view of the base of The Freedom Tower under construction:

I zoomed my camera view across the Ground Zero construction site towards St. Paul's (photo below), nicknamed "The Little Chapel That Stood," which you can see nestled in the trees. This is the very historic chapel where President George Washington once worshiped, and which was miraculously saved from destruction when the World Trade Center collapsed. It also acted as a resting place for the brave rescue/recovery workers. I blogged about the chapel previously, here.

There was a really interesting exhibit going on in the Winter Garden when I was there called "Canstruction" which is an international charity competition where architects, engineers, contractors and students they mentor, competed to design and build giant structures made entirely from full cans of food. At the close of the competition all of the food from the New York City competition will be donated to City Harvest.

I'll blog those photos next time -- the structures were so imaginative and not to be missed!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

November Daring Baker ~ Caramel Cake!

This month's Daring Baker exercise was from Shuna Fish Lydon of the blog Eggbeater and hosted by hosted by Dolores, Alex, and Jenny.

It is her signature Caramel Cake as published on Bay Area Bites ( )

Shuna is a chef who has been cooking and baking professionally, both in New York and California, for over 15 years! The challenge rules were that we must make both her cake and the caramelized butter frosting


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.Sift flour and baking powder.Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Since my daughter's birthday is in November I decided to make this cake for the birthday celebration she was having with her friends at her apartment. She is a big fan of caramel, and I hoped she'd enjoy this cake.

Because I wanted a large cake to serve her 20+ invited guests, I made a double layer of the cake recipe and stacked them, and I also doubled the icing recipe in order to be able to have enough icing to use in between the layers and extra for decorations on top.

I also added chocolate kisses as decorations and some chocolate shavings as sprinkles, and I used the end of the praline crunch I made for the July Daring Baker challenge as sprinkles between the layers and top for some added crunch.

The double batch of icing made the cake extremely sweet, but since my daughter served it in thin slices the sweetness wasn't overpowering, and the cake was a big hit with her friends! Not much was left in the end, and luckily she was able to capture this photo of it sliced before it was gone!

Thanks, Shuna, for your recipe and another cake I'll add to my repertoire!

If you would like to see wonderful versions of the caramel cake and also the optional caramels we could have made on other Daring Bakers web sites today, check the Daring Bakers blogroll.

There is also an open forum for general baking discussions here, but you have to be a member of Daring Bakers in order to register to log in for each month's challenge and discussions regarding it.

If you think you are up to taking the monthly challenge instructions are on the blog as to how to join! Don't delay, as there is only a 24 hour time limit to join every month for the next month's challenge.

I hope to see you all doing the December Daring Baker Challenge!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Have a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

"Lord, behold our family here assembled.
We thank you for this place in which we dwell, for the love that unites us,for the peace accorded to this day,
for the hope with which we expect the morrow;
for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth. Amen"
_ Robert Lewis Stevenson

Wishing everyone who celebrates, a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!
I am so thankful for your friendship, and for all your good thoughts and wishes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Advice From A Mountain

Advice from a Mountain:

Reach for new heights.

Rise above it all.

There is beauty as far as the eye can see.

Be uplifting.

Patience, patience, patience.

Get to the point.

Enjoy the view!

I took the photo above during one of our trips to Colorado to visit my son and daughter-in-law. It was taken from a rest stop on US 36, the route from the city of Denver to the city of Boulder.
The Rocky Mountains loom up in front as we drive, and literally take our breath away! I love this view, and the enduring strength and beauty of those mountains. They make my spirit soar!

We are patiently waiting for the birth of our grandson .... another week.....or maybe sooner.... or maybe later.

Like the mountains advise : Patience , patience, patience!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Lisa!

Twenty seven years ago today this sweet little baby girl was placed in my arms for the first time, and she has filled our family's hearts with joy ever since!

From being a kind and smart little girl who enjoyed dance, music and writing, to becoming a sophisticated young woman with a career and earning a Master degree in her "spare time," she's made us all happy and proud.

You have been the best daughter, sister, granddaughter, sister-in law, niece and cousin and Godmother to all, and you'll soon become an aunt, which we know you are so excited about!

As you celebrated your birthday a little early with your boyfriend and friends yesterday, we saw the joy in your eyes and the promise of a happy future ahead of you!

May every day in your life be filled with as much love as you give, and may God grant you many blessings.

We are ever thankful for you!

Happy birthday Lisa!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pink Saturday Cake!

Photo credit: Betty Crocker

I belong to Betty Crocker's e-mail recipe newsletter and recently they sent a recipe for the beautiful pink almond party cake seen in the photo above.

It sounds delicious, and I htought that it would be perfect as a little (or big) girl's birthday cake, or made into petit fours or cupcakes for a tea party. I'm saving the recipe to make it for Mother's Day.

Here is the link at Betty Crocker for the recipe. Make sure you sign up to receive one, or all, of their newsletters, too!

Happy baking, and happy Pink Saturday!

For more Pink Saturday posts be sure to go to our gracious hostess Beverly's blog @ How Sweet The Sound to see a list of links to all who are participating in Pink Saturday this week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup & It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

My daughter works in mid-town Manhattan, and as she passed by Rockefeller Center the other day she saw that the annual Christmas tree has been delivered! She took the photo above with her cell phone. ( for a clearer view click on to enlarge)

The scaffold is still all around it, so it can be decorated with lights, and the official tree lighting ceremony will take place on December! It's always exciting to visit this part of Manhattan during the Christmas season as everything is so beautifully transformed by holiday splendor.


When I made the ossco buco and butternut squash risotto earlier in the week, I showed how I roasted two medium butternut squashes in the oven at the same time. They were brushed with melted butter and placed in the oven at 350 F, for about 40 minutes, cooked until they were soft when pierced with a fork.

I cubed one half of the squash and stirred into the risotto, the other three halves I scraped off the flesh from the outer skin, placed the flesh in a bowl, and saved it in the refrigerator. Roasting the butternut squash gives it a nice caramelized condenses its flavor. A few days later I used this mashed squash to make soup!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup


1 medium onion minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 boiled potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups roasted butternut squash
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons garam marsala spice * ( or mild curry spice)
1/2 cup cream

* Garam marsala is an Indian spice consisting of a blend of spices such as black pepper, cardamon seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, crumbled bay leaves, nutmeg ,coriander, and fennel seeds. It can be found in gourmet stores and most large supermarkets. A mild Curry powder can be substituted for it.

A good web site that shows blends of common spice mixtures used in ethnic cooking is "Ethnic Spice Blends."

To prepare:

In a large heavy saucepan saute the minced onion in the butter until the onion is soft and translucent.

Next, add the roasted squash and the slice boiled potato. I add the potato because it acts as a thickener. Mix well.

Pour in the broth and stir well and let all come to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and garam marsala spice and mix well.

Blend well using an immersion blender. My $10 drug store model is still going strong! If you do not have an immersion blender you can puree the squash and potato in a food processor or blender before adding them to the pot.

After blending turn off heat and slowly stir the cream into the soup until well blended, and serve.
I sprinkle a little extra cinnamon on top of each serving. This is an excellent soup to warm you up on a cold day!

One of the reasons I like to make soup is that I can control the amount of salt that is added. This butternut soup recipe has no salt added except for the salt that is in the butter, and I could have avoided that completely buy using olive oil to saute the onions.

If you look at the ingredients listed on a can of commercially prepared soups you will see that many have over 1,000 mg of salt per serving! That is almost half the entire amount of salt that is recommended as the total to be consumed by an adult in a day. Many of the dry package soups have even more salt added to them. If you have a family history of high blood pressure or kidney disease it is important to think about how much salt you are using to cook, and what is in the prepared foods that you use. Add it all up and you might be surprised!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Book Tag

I've been under the weather the past few days with bronchitis, but since I saw my doctor and have been taking antibiotics I am feeling so much better and thankfully energized! Thanks so much for all your well wishes!

Diane @ A Picture Tells 1,000 Stories tagged me with the "Seven Weird Or Random Book Facts Tag," and now that my mind is not drowsy from the codeine cough medicine the doctor prescribed, I'm finally ready to jump in and do this !

Please make sure to go by Diane's blog and see photos of her adorable grandson's, and read all the nice activities Diane does with them, but also her wonderful decorating tips and see all the wonderful items she finds at yard sales. Diane also hosts a fun "Trash To Treasure" blog carnival on her blog every Tuesday!

Before I begin, I have to say that I have always loved to read, and and that is why I think I love the Internet and blogs so much! Owning a computer is like having a reference library on every subject imaginable at your finger tips. Being on a computer has cut down on the amount of books I read, however, as I can't say I ever read an entire book online, and I'm curious - have you?

Perhaps in the future people will be taking their Kindle Reader device out of their pockets on the subway, or the bus, or as they sit down in their favorite cozy chair at home, and read the latest novel or daily newspaper that they downloaded, but I think I'll be left behind in that trend, as I love my hard copy books too much to give them up to electronic versions! But I also once loved my big old vinyl albums, with their covers that were works of art, and liner notes that you could read, and we all know what happened to them! It may be that newspapers are the first to suffer a hard copy demise as sadly subscriptions and readerships have been declining in recent years.

Author Stephen King has experimented to see if he could publish books online, chapter by chapter in PDF form, to see if anyone would pay to read them by installments, and it worked well enough that he is continuing to release some new works that way.

The most I've participated in online reading was through "Dear Reader," which I spoke about once before on my blog. It is my one of my favorite FREE e-mail book clubs. You sign up online for one, or more, of whatever genre of books you enjoy, such as fiction, non-fiction, good news, etc. Then Suzanne, the founder, will e-mail a five minute portion of the beginning of the book she chose, Monday through Friday, each day for one week only -- just enough for you to get the idea if you are enjoying the book, or not, and whether you would like to continue reading it. If you do wish to continue reading you can choose to buy it, by using your own favorite store, or through Suzanne's links, or reserve it in your local library to continue reading it for free! The following Monday through Friday Suzanne begins another book, and so on. I've been introduced to quite a few books I enjoyed through "Dear Reader" and the added bonus is that Suzanne always writes an e-mail message each day before the book chapter, and after awhile I felt like she was a good friend!

Suzanne has fun "give away" contests too --this week she is giving away vintage aprons and another give away of her famous home baked chocolate chip cookies! I've won two books in give aways, and I keep hoping I'll win her cookies one day!

OK -- Sorry for the digression -- on to the book tag!

1.) I love to read children's books and collect them. I blogged once about my affinity for Golden Books, and I'm always interested in the Caldecott and Newbery award winners, amongst other distinguished books in children's literature. I also enjoy collecting pop-up books, my favorite pop up artist being Robert Sabuda!

2.) Some of my favorite books have been a non fictional compilation of letters, diary entries, or memoirs, such as The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank, or Van Gogh's letters to his brother in Dear Theo.

3.) I read more non fiction than fiction as I like to learn new things, and of course my favorite cookbooks, as I've mentioned many times before.

4.) I still have my very first Brooklyn Public Library card that I signed when I was five years old, saved amongst my memento's. I still remember the very first book I read on my own beyond the "Dick and Jane" instructional readers we had in first grade. It was: "Little Brown Bear" by Elizabeth Upham. Do you remember your first book5.) I often fall asleep at night reading a book.
6.) I love to collect old hard cover books -- I blogged about that once too!

7.) When I find a non fiction novelist that I truly enjoy I try to read everything they have written. A few favorite authors are Elizabeth Berg, Sue Monk Kidd, Herman Hesse, James Joyce, Khalil Gibran, etc.
Hmmm, I guess I've read a lot more non fiction than I thought!

The rules of this tag are:

1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share seven random and/or weird book facts about yourself.
3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I'll tag Cori, Tara, LisaB, Donna, Vee, Steviewren, and Betsy.

As always, no pressure -- only if you want to participate!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Osso Buco and Butternut Squash Risotto

A delicious traditional Italian dish is "Osso Buco." The name means, literally, "hole in the bone", as the sauce gets its rich flavor from the veal bones and the tender marrow that's hiding inside.

My local Costco had veal shanks cut for osso buco at an excellent price recently, and knowing how much my husband loves this meal I decided to practice some Italian style cooking "dare il tempo al tempo" (giving time to time), and spent a half a day to prepare this slowly braised meal as a special treat for him.

I used Marcella Hazan's recipe from her cookbook "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking." Mrs Hazan has been called the "Godmother of Italian cooking, " and a nice interview with her can be read at this link on Epicurious.

I used only four large veal shanks instead of the 6 - 8 Mrs. Hazan's recipe called for, but I left all the other ingredients the same as I wanted the extra sauce to use a second time.
Here is Mrs. Hazan's recipe:
Osso Buco

6 - 8 1 and 1/2 inch thick veal shanks, tied tightly around the middle
Flour, spread on a plate
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick butter) butter
1 cup diced onion
2/3 cup carrot -chopped fine
2/3 cup celery - chopped fine
1 cup dry white wine
2 strips lemon zest
1 cup beef stock
1 1/2 cups Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped with juices
1/4 tsp dried thyme or 1/2 tsp fresh
2 bay leaves
3 - 4 parsley sprigs
salt and pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2.) Use a oven safe pot with a heavy bottom that is large enough to accommodate all the shanks in a single layer. Turn heat to medium and add 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 6 - 7 minutes. Add chopped garlic and lemon peel and cook another 2- 3 minutes until vegetables are wilted. Then tum off heat and set aside.

3.) Put vegetable oil into a skillet and turn heat on medium high. Turn the veal shanks in the flour, coating them all over and shaking off the excess flour.

When the oil in the skillet is quite hot slip min the shanks and brown them deeply all over. Remove them from the skillet with a slotted spoon or tongs and lay them over the cooked vegetables in the pot.

4.) Tip the skillet and remove almost all of the oil used to brown the veal, and add the white wine and reduce it over medium heat while scrapping off all the browned bits of meat left behind. Pour the skillet juices over the veal in the pot.

5.) Pour the beef broth into the skillet, bring it to a simmer, and then pour it over the veal shanks in the pot.

Also, add the chopped tomatoes and their juices, the thyme, the bay leaves, parsley, pepper and salt. The juices should come up two thirds of the way up to the top of the veal shanks, if not add more broth.

6) Bring the liquids in the pot to a simmer, cover the pot tightly and place in lower portion of the oven. Cook for about two hours or until the meat feels very tender when prodded by a fork, and a creamy thick sauce has formed. Turn the shanks in the pot about every 20 minutes. If, while the osso buco is cooking the sauce becomes insufficient, add two tablespoons of water at a time , as needed. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Traditionally osso buco is served with an aromatic mixture called "gremolada,"that is added at the last minutes of braising, but Mrs. Hazan does not add it, and neither did I, as I didn't want to add more garlic to the dish, but I'll include the ingredients if you wish to use it.

Gremolada: (optional)

1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp finely minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced Italian parsley

Combine the ingredients evenly and sprinkle over the meat when the shanks are fully cooked, and cook another two minutes.

At the same time the osso buco was cooking, I cut two medium size butternut squash in half, coated them with some melted butter, and roasted them until they were soft when pieced with a fork.

I wanted to add some squash to a side dish of prepared risotto, to make this meal have an autumn accent. I also steamed string beans as another side dish.

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 medium onion, finely diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup hot water1/4 C dry white wine
2 - 3 cups hot chicken stock
1 Tbsp cold butter
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano ( or more to taste)
1 cup of warm roasted butternut squash, cubed (I reserved rest of the butternut squash,and refrigerated it to use for soup on another day, recipe to follow on another blog post)

Note:- Do not rinse the rice, the starches on the outside of the grains is what makes the risotto creamy. The chicken stock must be hot when you add it to the rice, so keep it in a saucepan on low heat on the stove while you're cooking.

1.)Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened.
2.)Add the rice and cook until the rice is coated with fat and starts to turn translucent around the edges.
3.)Lower the heat to medium low, add the wine and cook while stirring until the wine has been absorbed.
4.)Add one cup of the chicken stock, keeping it at a simmer, and cook uncovered while stirring constantly until almost all of the liquid as absorbed.
5.)At this point add the chicken stock about 1/3 cup at a time. Keep it at a low simmer, and cook the rice while stirring constantly.
If you start running low on chicken stock, go ahead and use hot water. Continue adding ladle fulls of broth, waiting until each addition has been almost absorbed before adding the next, cook while constantly stirring until the rice has is al dente, fully cooked but still retains a slight chew in the center.
6.)Take off heat and stir in a tablespoon of cold butter and grated Parmigiano and warm cubed pieces of butternut squash. Mix well and serve.

To serve the osso bucco, transfer cooked veal to a warm platter, carefully removing trussing strings without allowing the meat to fall apart, pour the sauce over and serve at once.

Needless to say my husband was thrilled with this dinner, and I have a feeling I'll be looking for veal shanks on sale more often to make it again!

An added bonus was that I was able to reserve about two cups of the sauce from the completed osso buco, because I cooked four shanks, instead of six. I used one cup of the sauce one evening as a topping for pasta, (see below) and froze the other cup for use at another time.
So although it takes time to make osso buco I was able to prepare a few complete meals from the preparations I did that day, which is always helpful.

Delizioso! (Delicious!)

Because we are on a Roman holiday of sorts, I thought I'd share a few pre-digital photos I scanned of an Italian holiday my family went on in May of 2001, and some favorite photos of Rome:
This photo was taken from the window of the Vatican Museum, as we waited on the long line to glimpse the famous Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo (photography of the ceiling was forbidden, but you can see all of it on the web site) I love this panoramic shot as you can see one of the seven hills of Rome .
In this photo you can see my children and husband standing in front of St. Peter's Basilica. Notice the shorts my son (in the middle) is wearing? He was not allowed inside the basilica because shorts or sleeveless shirts are not allowed, for modesty reasons, even though his shorts were not all that short and they covered his knees. He and my husband had to exchange pants in the men's room so that he would have a chance to be able to see the interior of the church.
This has become one of our favorite anecdotes about our stay in Rome!

In this photo my husband and I are in front of theTrevi Fountain and yes, we did make sure to throw three coins with our right hand over our left shoulder into the fountain to make sure we come back to Rome one day as the legend states! Hope that will come true soon!
We spent an entire month touring all of Italy from north to south by train, making many stops along the way to stay in many cities. It was a dream come true for my husband to show us the country where he was born, and for us to meet his aunts, uncles, cousins and their children who still live in Italy, from the city of Susa in the Piedmont Region in the north, to his home town in Calabria, in the Reggio Calabria Region in the south.

Italy is one of the most beautiful countries on earth, and it is filled with history, art, music, delicious cuisine and warm and friendly residents.I hope you have been tempted to take your own dream vacation to Italy one day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sophie's Choice -The Movie's Pink House

Did you ever watch the 1982 movie "Sophie's Choice"? It is based on the novel by the same name by William Styron, and is one of the most hauntingly memorable movies I have ever seen. The screenplay, written by Alan J. Pakula, was superbly acted by Peter MacNicol , Meryl Streep, and Kevin Kline, all of whom you see from a scene from the movie above. Meryl Streep won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Sophie.

The synopsis of the movie from the IMDB web site:

"Sophie is the survivor of Nazi concentration camps, who has found a reason to live in Nathan, a sparkling if unsteady American Jew obsessed with the Holocaust. They befriend Stingo, the movie's narrator, a young American writer new to New York City. But the happiness of Sophie and Nathan is endangered by her ghosts and his obsessions"

When the movie begins the movie's narrator, Stingo (Peter MacNicol), is a young writer from the American South, who traveled to post-WW II New York City, where he rents a room in a all pink house in Brooklyn!

A better photo of the exterior pink of the house that you will see in the movie can be seen in this small photo below:

The set used for this scene, and a few others, was an actual house in the Victorian Flatbush area of Brooklyn, NY, an area about which I blogged about in a previous post.

The lines from the script as the landlady explains why the house is painted pink, both inside and out:

"I know... You're thinking about the pink. Everybody does. See, my late husband Saul, he's got his bargain. Hundreds and hundreds of gallons of this... navy surplus paint. See, I guess they didn't have any use for pink on those boats."

This is the actual house as it is now, re-painted white:

If you are a fan of Meryl Streep you must watch her performance in this film!

It is easy to see why she won the Oscar that year , and why she holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations of any actor!

To see more "Pink Saturday" posts please visit our gracious hostess Beverly @ How Sweet The Sound for the links of all those participating today!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

37 Weeks! And an Award For All and a Meme.

I can hardly believe there are less than three weeks until my daughter-in-law gives birth to our first grand child! Today is her last day at work teaching first grade, and she will begin her official maternity leave. It was hard for her to be on her feet all day, and her doctor told her to rest more and elevate her legs, so the only way to do that is to be home. I'm glad she will have a little time for herself before the baby is born to rest and prepare. This may the most exciting Thanksgiving of my son and daughter-in-law will ever have! I know that I am so excited and I can't wait to get the news! Please say a prayer for them that all will go well. Thank you!


I was given the "Premio Dardos" award by Nanatrish @ Nana's Living The Dream. Thank you so much,Trish! You are always so kind to think of me, and I feel like you are as excited as I am about my impending entrance into grand parenthood! It's so nice to share that joy with you!

I did a Google search to find out what the award means, and I found this information on a nice blog that received it awhile ago: "This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day."

That blog also said the rules said it has to be passed on to 15 blogs, but since Trish did not not give me those rules I'd like to pass this award on to ALL my readers, as I feel that all our blogs try to follow those values. Please accept it from me with gratitude for your friendship and daily encouragement!


Maryann @ Finding La Dolce Vita tagged me yesterday with an unusual meme that I told her I'd try today. Maryann shares very authentic Italian recipes and lore on her blog, and I've learned a lot from her.

The meme rules:

Rule 1. List the first ten people who have commented on your last blog post. If you’re on my list then you should do the meme on your blog, too! ( But only if you want to, of course, as I know what a busy time of the year this is!)

Here are the first ten people who commented on my last blog post from #1 to #10:

1) Mama ( Kathy) @ Casa Dolce Casa

2) Pat @ Back Porch Musings

3) Sherry @ Edie Marie's Attic


5) Bo @ Blinks 'N Winks From Brown-Eyes

6) Nola @ Alamo North

7) Melissa Miller @ Melissa's Heart & Home

8) Rue @ Rue's Peanut Butter & Jelly Life

9) Camille @ Rtemis


Rule 2). The meme questions: 10 Blogs, 15 Questions.

1: What is your favorite post from number 3’s blog?
Oh, that's a hard one! Sherry has shared so many beautiful decorating projects since she began her blog. I have to say her post about her new sign making endeavor ( see my prior post) was exciting, as she does beautiful decorative painting work. The painted highchair and table and chair set she made for her two grand daughters posts were amazing too!

2. Has number 10 taken any pictures that have moved you?
I loved all the photos she's shown of her baby grandson! It was seeing her little grand with a hand knitted bunny that she made which prompted me to order one for my future grandson. Willow knits beautifully and her bunnies are heirloom quality!

3. Does number 6 reply to comments on their blog?
Of course! Nola is a very sweet lady and lots of fun too!

4. Which part of blogland is number 2 from?
Pat is from the beautiful state of Missouri! Her decorating style and travel photos from around her state are all exquisite.

5. If you could give one piece of advice to number 7 what would it be?
Melissa's blog is relatively new, so I would tell her not to stress out about blogging but to enjoy it and make some good friends along the way.

6. Have you ever tried something from number 9’s blog?
Yes! Camille is baker extraordinaire and she's given me many new recipes to try. Check out her chocolate cake from a couple days ago -- I could eat the whole thing!

7. Has number 1 blogged something that inspired you?
Kathy is a Londoner living in San Francisco and has traveled all over the world with her husband when she accompanies him on business trips. She recently went back to London to visit her family. All of her travel posts are inspiring! Kathy has a great sense of humor and she likes to have fun on her blog too. I always enjoy visiting her, and we even had a chance to meet once in person in NYC!

8. How often do you comment on number 4’s blog?
As often as I can, as I always try to see M. Kate's new posts about her country of Malaysia and surrounding areas. I always learn something new from . Kate, as she shares the most interesting information about the culture, religion, life style and customs of the people of Malaysia, and she's a lot of fun too!

9. Do you wait for number 8 to post excitedly?
I think EVERYONE in blogland waits for Rue to post, as she is one of the most popular bloggers I know, and it is easy to see why, as she is honest and caring and opens the door to her home to everyone. Visiting her blog is like having a cup of coffee or tea with a best buddy, and sharing what is going on in your life.

10. How did number 5’s blog change your life?
I've only been reading Bo's blog for a few weeks but I love how she writes and the encouragement she gives on her blog. I think her blog post about how she got her name was one of my favorite posts by her so far.

11. Do you know any of the 10 bloggers in person?
I met Kathy once, but other than that we are all friends of the heart.

12. Do any of your 10 bloggers know each other in person?
I don't think so.

13. Out of the 10, which updates more frequently?
Everyone is good about updating, so I really can't tell.

14. Which of the 10 keep you laughing?
I think all have shared happy post that has made me smile.

15. Which of the 10 has made you cry (good or bad tears)?
As a person gets to know a fellow blogger well you become interested in their life, so I have been happy and sad at quite a few occurrences in the lives of all of them that I know well. I'd say they are all interesting and accomplished women who are sharing a portion of themselves and helping to make the world a better place!

Wow! That was the longest meme I've ever participated in! I hope some of the ten bloggers I named will try it too!

Sorry, but I have a yucky cold which is giving me a big headache today, and making me very tired. I might spend the rest of the afternoon having a big cup of tea and then napping. If I don't get to visit you today I'll do my best to catch up this weekend!

Have a wonderful day and enjoy the weekend!