Making Memories

I’ve noticed many people posting memories on Facebook, memories of better times. I’ve done the same myself. This really has been a year, but there will be memories, good, bad, emotional, different! I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. I’ve also learned to appreciate the simple things in life we normally overlook. I’ve learned to be kinder and more patient.
This time last year we were complaining about crowded stores as we tried to buy Christmas gifts. We miss those crowded stores now, along with their Christmas music (that starts at Thanksgiving).
Enjoy the version of Christmas we have and next year, when we’re able to see our families again, this will be a memory. Make the best of it!

Take care and stay safe. This too will pass.

December 1st – Christmas is Coming

My kitchen Christmas tree!
I don’t normally start Christmas this early, but 2020 is a little different. We need a distraction. This tree came with me from the US, along with very few Christmas ornaments, things I’ve collected over the last 40 years or so! I had to be ruthless when I packed to move and kept only trinkets that held treasured memories. This is a new start which will create new memories.
We spent Christmas here in 2018 with my daughter, son-in-law and their friends so I also have a tree bought in Italy, which will be decorated in the living room later this week. I feel very extravagant with two trees, but I’m retired and have time to decorate them both.
December 1st came around quickly. I blinked and the long hot days of summer turned into a golden autumn.
2020 is trickling away. It has been an awful year for the world, but I think we all learned from it. Let’s hope so. For me, it was bitter sweet. I realized my dream of moving to Italy, but I’m a long way from my daughter. I hope I can see her soon.
Here’s to Christmas, and the simple things in life.

Thanksgiving in Abruzzo

My first Thanksgiving in Abruzzo!
Although I lived in Colorado for 25 years, I’ve never truly celebrated Thanksgiving the way Americans do. I enjoyed cooking. Getting together with friends and family was lovely, but the “Holiday” never held a special meaning for me. Not like Christmas.
2020 is my first Thanksgiving in Abruzzo. We didn’t go out and buy a huge Turkey, or make pumpkin/pecan pie, so it was very low key. Social distancing due to COVID has taken over the lives of everyone.
We celebrated with a huge polenta, Italian style. I’m not going to take credit for this gourmet delight, our good friend created it. It was delicious! On Black Friday I had a dental appointment in Lanciano. I completed two “self certifications”, one for the dentist, and one allowing me to stop off at a large Supermarket. There weren’t many people shopping, because of the Red Zone rules. I shopped for things I can’t buy locally and picked up some Christmas lights along with one or two tree ornaments. It was a gorgeous day, so on the way home I took photos. I can’t wait for all of this to be over so we can travel again, itching for a road trip, but until then I’ll make the most of my beautiful surroundings.
Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

Fresh in Abruzzo – Colledimezzo Days

When I first moved here a couple of months ago I felt a little lost. Everyone welcomed me with open arms, but I felt like a fish out of water. I was no longer working, so my days had no structure. It took a little while, but now I’m comfortable. I’m still a source of amusement for the locals because of my mispronunciation of many Italian words, but they know I’m trying.
Since Abruzzo became part of the red zone last week, I’m getting even more familiar with how the world turns in Colledimezzo.
On Tuesday lunch came from the porchetta/rotisserie chicken food truck. On Thursday I went to the piazza and made a purchase from the vegetable man who passes through twice a week. Yesterday I heard what I thought was the butcher’s van (they all make a great deal of noise as they drive through), and left the house quickly to make my purchase. I found I’d chased down the fish van instead…quandary, I didn’t know what any of the fish (other than mussels and shrimp) were, so I chose a couple of nice looking specimens which were called cipal. After a little googling, we discovered they were grey mullet, which apparently are particularly good when fished from the Adriatic. Of course they were whole and still had their innards. It’s been a long time since I gutted fish, but I’m up for it. Incredibly fresh and so cheap!
This morning, at the recommendation of our good friend Nino, my husband arose early and braved the rain to meet the cheese van in the piazza. He comes at 7:30. It was definitely worth it. The price was unbeatable and, you can see from the photo, fantastic cheese. Can’t wait to try it.
I’m getting in the swing of things now and I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy spending the rest of my days in Colledimezzo.
Just need this awful pandemic to end so I can see my daughter again.

Baking – Cooking – Living the Dream

I never tire of the views here in Colledimezzo. Even if I walk the same path every day, I find a different angle to photograph. The light varies by the hour. Later in the day the mists make my photographs magical and surreal. I lived in Colorado for 25 years, and enjoyed the beautiful Rocky Mountains, but they didn’t boast the colors of Abruzzo.
Photography, travel and writing are my big hobbies, but my other passion is cooking. I adjusted my recipes from England to the US back in 1995. I learned to measure in cups, became familiar with the different products and even adjusted to high altitude baking, although my Yorkshire Puddings weren’t always a success!!!
Here I am living in Italy, with new challenges. Grams/Kilograms…no cups and ounces like the US. I’m beginning to master the flour…so many to choose from and your bread/cakes/pizzas will be a disaster if you don’t get it right. When we used to visit for vacation, an Italian friend always asked me to bring baking powder from the US, now I understand why. There is no self raising flour and no baking powder the way we know it. Baking power (which has a completely different name) comes in little sachets, usually infused with vanilla. There are different instant yeasts, and if you choose the wrong one, the result is inedible. Yes, I learned that from experience. I’m taking the safe route now and using fresh live yeast.
Thats enough for today. I’m still loving the Italian way of life. Miss my daughter terribly, but when Trump and COVID are history and she can come to visit, everything will be perfect.

The Taste of Christmas

I woke up this morning feeling out of sorts. Grumpy, headache, just generally off! It was the first day of a new lockdown. When we moved to Italy we planned to travel and explore, not thinking COVID would last this long. Travel is on hold of course. The local businesses have a bigger problem. Lock down is crippling them. It has to be done though. New cases were increasing.
I made a pizza for lunch, worst pizza I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a lot. I kept telling myself to snap out of it, but it didn’t work.
Around 3:00 pm (still feeling grumpy), I walked up too the piazza to catch the vegetable van. My spirits were lifted a little as I chatted to friends in the village and breathed the fresh air (with a hint of woodsmoke).
The vegetable van turned up and I couldn’t resist buying a big bag of mandarins. Freshly picked, leaves still attached. I headed home with a smile on my face, Colledimezzo does that to you. The mandarins looked so good I peeled and ate one as soon as I got home. It tasted just like Christmas.

Abruzzo turns red!

Yesterday I enjoyed a beautiful morning walk. The views in Colledimezzo are always spectacular and change with the seasons. So lucky to live here.
Last night the decision was made for Abruzzo join the red zone. This comes in to effect tomorrow. So sad for the local bars and restaurants and any other business impacted. Their livelihood has suffered so much this year. Hopefully the numbers drop by December allowing everyone to celebrate Christmas. Patience and perseverance is what we need. The people of Abruzzo are good caring people, I know they’ll all get through this.

Chasing the Meat Van

Colledimezzo is lucky enough to be visited by a butcher’s van, a rotisserie porchetta/chicken van, veggie van and fish van on different days each week. They all sell fresh local produce. I certainly won’t go hungry here, but I do need to become familiar with where they stop and also their individual jingle which sounds when they enter the village.
Today I decided to try the butcher. It wasn’t quite as easy as I hoped. He drove past me several times. Each time I’d wave for him to stop, and he’d wave back and smile.
No I’m not being friendly, I want you to stop.
The locals, who gather in the piazza to talk, found my antics very amusing, and watched with interest.
Finally Marella, the wonderful girl who runs the local bar, called him and he returned to the piazza. Meat purchased, game over, lesson learned! I’ll be shopping like a local soon.
Also had a great walk today. Walked way down towards the lake and then climbed the steep road back up to the village. My apple watch recorded almost 7 miles…maybe I’ve earned a glass of wine or two.

Abruzzo Orange Zone

Thank heavens for my beautiful surroundings! It will help me remain calm.
Last night I learned that the region of Abruzzo has been bumped up from the Zona Gialla (Yellow Zone) to Zona Arancione (Orange Zone). This means bars and restaurants must remain closed and we can’t travel out of our municipality without a good reason and the relevant documentation. Abruzzo boasts very low COVID cases, but they are rising faster than they should.
This morning we went shopping fairly early. We drove to Oasi in Lanciano and bought enough food to keep us going for the next two or three weeks. I am happy to report we didn’t see anyone filling their trolleys with toilet rolls. In fact everyone was buying just what they needed. No panic buying or emptying shelves. What a refreshing change. On the way home we stopped off at a local cantina and purchased a couple of 5 liter boxes of local wine (Pecorino), wouldn’t be good to run out of wine during a lockdown.
This evening I joined my friends at “Bar for You” in the Piazza because after today it will be closed until the number of new cases falls. Lovely evening with lots of laughter, and a few tears. How will these local bars and restaurants survive? I’m sure they struggle as it is. My heart goes out to them.
Let’s hope the new outbreak of COVID is controlled soon and things can be as close to normal as possible for Christmas. After a grueling year we all need something to look forward to.
Stay safe everyone.

The Weekend – Italian Style

This weekend brought us two glorious sunny days!
On Saturday we returned our rental car and picked up first (and hopefully last) Italian car. I didn’t realize buying a new car was such a big deal here. Our lovely shiny red car (macchina), was ready and waiting for us when we arrived at the dealership. Marco, the lovely man who sold it to us, was excited and enjoyed the admiring look on my face as he peeled the cover off.
Yes Italian cars come wrapped!!!
When we got back to Colledimezzo the locals made a big fuss and congratulated us on our new purchase. (I have yet to drive it, new cars make me a bit nervous).
Today we met our friends in the piazza for the usual Sunday lunchtime drink. So much fun sitting in the sunshine watching everyone come out of church in their Sunday best. We got home and I hadn’t even taken my shoes off before the phone rang...”turn around and come back out, we’ve all been invited to lunch with Pio, he’s cooking”. This is the way things happen in Italy, beautifully unplanned. We had an amazing lunch made with local produce and served with good wine. Everything of course made better by the great company and wonderful conversation.
We finished the afternoon with a walk. Gorgeous weather, lush surroundings, autumn colors still exploding (even though its November).
And what made this whole weekend better…TRUMP lost the election. Of course the petulant child has not conceded yet, but no one expected him to be gracious in defeat!
Now we need to beat COVID and we can end the year on a much happier note.

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