Home is where the heart is. Home sweet home. Home is where you hang your hat. Home may be where one is born and raised. Home may be a new location every few years. There are so many phrases to describe what one thinks of as home. When you really think about it, Home means something different to everyone.
Home to me is a place where I feel comfortable. Where I enjoy life, make friends and find new adventures.
Currently Italy is my home. Yet I play a little game on a daily basis I like to call…How is the weather in Saskatoon?
Well this is not the worst I have seen lately but this is the current weather in Saskatoon…BRRR!!
I am often asked where I am from; when I respond with Canada, Saskatoon Saskatchewan the next question is of course…How cold does it get there?? So I describe winter in Saskatoon, the average highs and lows and windchill. It is usually the numbers associated with windchill that result in a blank stare while this these numbers are translating in their minds…I smile, laugh and say Si si, meno quaranta, meno cinquanta! Then the fun questions begin such as…And you live there?? Why do people choose to live there?? How do you survive?? Can you even go outside?? So I begin to explain life in Saskatchewan. Another fun game with the pronunciation of Saskatoon Saskatchewan. What language do those words come from? I must admit, I have gone to the Google to ensure I present facts.
The fun really begins for me when I am asked about the wild animals we have in Canada. There have been many conversations about beavers, deer, elk, badgers and all types of bears. Giant squirrels…I explain what gophers are and the different types of squirrels. I enjoyed the question about cats that eat children in Manitoba and hopefully diffused that myth. Since I have been to Nunavut I have talked about caribou, muskox and wolves. The most fun was the talking about moose. Particularly since there had been a moose near my neighborhood in Saskatoon once upon a time. The visualization of this poor moose lost in the city resulted in many laughs, Moose and the City. ha ha!
Ah Home! I am proud of where I am from and more than happy to share stories of insanely cold temperatures, wild animals and of course the beauty of Canada.
My favorite description of all is: Saskatchewan is so flat that we can see our dogs run away for days. 😉 Home.
Buon Natale! and Auguri are the words of the week. It was a wonderful holiday week in Alba with friends. We had so much fun with the variety of languages used throughout the week, English, Italian, French and even a few words in Spanish! The week ended with a song in Italian…Se Sei Felice 🙂
The adventures in baking continue, this time with pumpkin pie, pecan pie and butter tart squares. With some advanced planning we acquired the ingredients from California and London England. The challenge of converting into grams continued with many trips to the Google to perform calculations. 😉 The thing we did not consider was a can opener…creative use of a wine bottle opener was the answer! We successfully baked our creations for our Italian friends.
Christmas dinner consisted of an octopus and potato salad, seafood ravioli in squid ink and seafood soup. They were delicious!
The B&B I selected was a dream complete with a fairy godmother! From the moment we arrived she knew which rooms suited our personalities, me in the purple room and my friend in the red and orange room. Both rooms had a wonderful view of the mountains, which we saw the last morning. The rooms were beautifully decorated and were full of special touches to make anyone feel at home. Her attention to detail each day was so special, from noticing the use of a receipt for a bookmark and replacing it with a bookmark from a local store along with a tiny reading lamp and a cleaning cloth for the reading glasses left by the book. Putting our shoes in colorful bags that matched our rooms decor. Incredible! We were given a small map of the town center with four business identified which we could go to for tasting and information about local products. Brilliant idea to introduce tourists to local specialties! Each night a special tray of treats was left for us including a locally made liquor, a wonderful chamomile grappa and Barolo Chinato were our favorites. On Christmas Eve we received a special reindeer with a Panettone in his gift bag. Christmas day was prosecco for aperitivi along with a tray of various treats. Such kindness was wonderful when spending Christmas far away from home. Grazie Mille!
Our week ended with a beautiful sunny day and a night in Torino. A very beautiful city.
My desire to try Panettone this Christmas has been fulfilled! I received a lovely gift of my very own Panettone. I am so fortunate.
My little Christmas tree is watered, gifts are wrapped and my bags are packed. I am ready for a very special Christmas with friends in Alba Italy.
At this moment it is a beautiful sunny day as I look out over the valley and see beautiful fall colors and the Apennine mountain range in the distance. Today is the winter solstice which always delights me as the hours of daylight slowly increase each day and I am a sunshine loving girl. For me it is hard to believe this is December 21…I am so incredibly excited to have a white Christmas in Piemonte. For this Canadian girl this is the winter of my dreams to have temperatures above 0 Celsius, however, it just does not feel like Christmas without snow!!!
Another thing I am really enjoying about Italy is the lack of insanity that I am used to at this time of year. Granted I am living in a small town, yet life appears to function as normal. There are no crazy extended store hours! Thank goodness. There is a push on the Panettone …it is everywhere! Available in so many varieties, plain with powdered sugar, with dried fruit and even chocolate. Perhaps I will have to try this cake and see what all the fuss is about…
It is time for a walk in the sunshine before my fun in the snow begins! Snow!! I am so excited! Ciao ciao!
Allora…I decide to bake my mom’s recipe for whipped shortbread cookies. Which, I have happily consumed every year at Christmas however, have never baked.
Step one…obtain ingredients. Somewhat challenging since ingredients have different names in different parts of the world. Such as what I know to be cornstarch is known as corn flour here. Simple. Icing sugar is zucchero al velo. No problem, I have purchased the ingredients.
Step two…measurements are handled differently in Italy. Units of measure used are grams and weigh scales are a common item in kitchens. This is very foreign to me and I am bewilderd for a few days by this. Luckily today was market day and I purchased a measuring cup, in grams and millilitres as well as a baking pan. Woo hoo! I can work with this and am set to bake.
Step three…convert the recipe to grams. Oh my, this is math…this is not how my mind works in the kitchen. I have a solution…vino rosso. Now all is well. On to baking cookies…
Step four…follow the recipe. Hmmm, the first pan of cookies are flat and do not look like my mom’s. Although, these do taste great with espresso…
Ah-ha! The flour I am using is 00, which is much lighter than the flour I am used to. No problem, add more flour. Success!!
My Italian Christmas Tree… 🙂
today I received this gift…
Curiosity. Between the numerous hours of very simple thoughts, my mind is full of questions about every thing that surrounds me. I imagine this is the effect of living a simple life, since my main concern each day is what will I eat today. 🙂 There is amazing beauty in just living in the moment.
As I explore the town at different times of day I notice new things each time; plants, trees, beautiful apartments and shops. This ongoing awareness continues to surprise me. Maybe it is because I walk everywhere and actually see what surrounds me. I stop and look at the view, touch plants and observe the moss in the afternoon sunlight. Each day the aroma of wood burning stoves reminds me of summer nights with friends and cold winters by my fireplace at home.
With Christmas approaching the town is illuminated with lights and a giant tree in piazza. The holiday lights above the streets look like sparkling falling snow. Shop windows are decorated with various holiday themes. Hand cut paper snowflakes decorate the windows of the elementary school. I am curious about the Christmas traditions here and Babbo Natale.
Ah so many questions in my head, will they all be answered? Time will tell…
My first week has been delightful. I am learning that every day is something special in town, for example, Tuesday the fish trucks are here and Friday is market day. Also, stores are open in the mornings until 1300 and reopen about 1600, one has to plan ahead living in Italy. The food here tastes amazing, even when I prepare it. The ingredients are so fresh! I am enjoying all the stops I make on a daily basis to buy food at the baker, butcher, vegetable stand and even the chicken man’s booth.
The weather here has been lovely, in my opinion, for November…it is like the fall of my dreams that goes on and on. Even the thunderstorm was lovely to me. The locals likely think I am crazy, but that is quite alright with me. 🙂 I begin language classes this week, I am looking forward to this very much. My teacher speaks only Italian which will force me to respond in Italian! Va bene!!
The sun is shining, another beautiful day to be outside exploring. Ciao ciao!!