Dec 26, 2008

White Christmas!

We had a great Christmas. Santa was really good to us! I got to experience my first snow on Christmas! It snowed late Christmas Day Evening and we woke up to about an inch of snow the following day! We were celebrating Reamers birthday (and Christmas) with some friends. We looked out the window and noticed that the snow was falling and sticking! It was very exciting! Champ loves the snow and got to play in it (even though there wasn't much). He still had a great time. Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Earthquakes in Vicenza!

I have never felt an earthquake before, until now. A few days before Christmas, Reamer and I were just hanging around the house and all of a sudden, my computer starts shaking back and forth. I yelled to Reamer if he knew what was going on and he told me that it was an earthquake. Our entire apartment starting moving back and forth and things were swinging around. I thought that earthquakes would be like vibrations and really shaky, but it was more like a back and forth movement. It was really strange. Apparently we had 3 that day. When we looked outside, people were all walking around like normal and they didn't seem to notice, but being inside was a different story. We really felt it! Hopefully we won't get any more, it was kinda scary!

Dec 24, 2008

Malta Vacation

We went to Malta with some of our friends and had an amazing vacation! Malta is off the coast of Sicily and because of it's Mediterranean climate, it was about 10 degrees warmer than Italy. One of the things that we liked the most was that the official languages were English and Maltese. (yep, that's right, we got to speak English to almost everyone!!!) We felt so empowered and able to do anything because we could ask questions and speak to others and for the most part, we were understood!

We toured the ancient Catacombs and played around. It's kinda scary but somehow it was sort of fun at the same time.

We also saw some amazingly beautiful and lavish churches. St. Paul is said to have shipwrecked on the Island of Malta, so many of the churches pay tribute to him.
The scenic views were beautiful in Malta but very different. They almost reminded us of a Middle Eastern city. Most of the buildings were built very low and square shaped and were almost all a sand color. The island is very small and we probably saw most of it. The land is beautiful with green hills next to the very blue Mediterranean Sea the sandy/white colored buildings blend into the land accentuating the islands beauty. We ate lunch on top a a hill overlooking the beautiful views and finally being able to ask for our food in English! Because Malta seemed to be the "Florida" of England (a lot of older English vacationers...) there were some things that made us feel at home. Of course the language as I previously mentioned but also the food. We were so excited to go to a Hard Rock Cafe! I would usually never go to such a place on a vacation, but we were excited to eat some real American food!!! The hot wings and fajitas were amazing!!!!!! I would go back to Malta just for some American hot wings!! We went to the bars and danced to "real" music and not techno!! (well some techno...) We had a blast!

One of the guys with us is branced Artillery and was so excited to go see a huge Maltese Cannon! At first, I wasn't too excited, but when we got there it was awesome. We got there just in time for demonstrations and reinactments! We even got to participate. Ross and Chris shot the cannon (blanks of course). And Reamer, Janet and I got to dress up in uniforms and shoot rifles. We even got to scream and hit a target with a bayonet (I was excited to scream RANGER.... even though they Maltese guys had no idea what I was saying!)

We had a great time in Malta and we might return when we want some hot wings and burgers or maybe just to play dressup and shoot some guns!!

Dec 16, 2008

Christmas Market in Verona

We went to a Christmas Market in Verona on Sunday. The entire town had georgous Christmas lights on every single inch of the town. It was the first day in a very long time that it did not rain, so it was a great day. At the market, they had everything from Christmas decorations, to men in tents doing infomercials for random gadgets. Because it was the first day without rain in a really long time, I think that everyone in Italy came to the market.

This market is a celebration of Santa Lucia Day. My friend Janet told us all about it. We actually saw some ladies dressed up as Santa Lucia in town as well as several Santa Suits. The tradition is that on the 12th of December the children leave out a bowl of water and a carrot for Santa Lucia's donkey. They also leave a little note telling her what gifts they would like to receive. She leaves them presents that night.

I think it's strange that customs can vary so much in between different regions in Itlay. I would have thought that all of the traditions would be the same throughout the country. Also, the donkey thing is kind of weird too!!

There is another strange tradition dealing with a Christmas Witch. It seems like every booth that had Christmas decorations, somewhere in the mix was a scary Christmas Witch. It seemed to strange to me so I had to find out about it! In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born, she was busy and delayed visiting the baby. She missed the Star, lost her way and has been flying around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good children and it is said leaves coal for children who are not so good.

I also found out that Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) puts out presents on the night of Epiphany (Jan 6) as well. It seems like these kids get a lot of presents! Apparently, Babbo Natale is gaining popularity and Befana the witch is the more traditional gift giver. (I feel like these kids must be confused!) Oh well, at least they get lots of gifts! Merry Christmas!

Dec 15, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Argo's

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Italians put everything on Pizza

Seriously, I'm not kidding. You can make absolutely anything when making an Italian Pizza. Here is a picture of our friend Chris eating a french fry pizza! YUMMY!! (not really......)

Dec 8, 2008

Italian Rotten Tomatoes--what does this mean?

When Reamer and I first moved into our apartment, the power kept going off because I was using so much power at once. (I am unable to run the washer and dryer at the same time... and don't get me started on the dishwasher). But this does nothing to help my story along. So....

One night, the power went off again. So we kept flipping the switches on the fuse box, but we couldn't get it to turn back on. The entire house was completely dark and we couldn't get our Real Estate Agents on the phone (they call our landlord for issues because he only speaks Italian). We had no other choice but to ask for help from our Italian neighbors. Everyone that lives in our apartment building is related to our landlord, so we knew that we could get some help. So we reluctantly went upstairs knocked on a door and hoped for the best.

A sweet old lady answered the door and clumbsy Italian/Spanish/English language came rushing out of my mouth. I even think that I did some sign language as I tried to explain to her the problem. But somehow I got the point across and her grandson came and helped us fix the power. Both Reamer and I were shocked that I could sort of communicate through my mumbo jumbo of languages.
I decided to thank her by giving her some homemade AMERICANO Chocolate Chip Cookies (a novelty here in Italy--Biscotti is their type of cookie). I also wrote her a note in Italian ( helped) thanking her for being such a good neighbor and for helping us. I think that she really appreciated it because after I did this, eveyone in the building has been extra nice and smile at us all the time.

She came over to "chat" the other day for about 30-45 minutes. What an interesting conversation that was! There were several topics that we had no clue what the other was talking about, but some things were easy to understand. She is 87 years old and sweet as can be. She wanted to make sure that I knew that if we ever needed anything to come ask her for anything at all. She enjoyed my Christmas decorations and thought the apartment looked Bellisimo!!! She looked at pictures of Reamer (he isn't home much, so they have only seen eachother once or twice). She liked his military uniform and thought that he was handsome.

My only concern is about the gift she gave me. She returned my tupperware dish that I sent the cookies in, but inside of it were ROTTEN TOMATOES! I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why she would give me Rotten Tomatoes and I can't figure it out! I think that she is just really really old and going blind and didn't realize that they were rotten. I've been wondering if this is some strange tradition or something, but I have yet to find any information on it. Let me know if you know anything about this as a custom or if you think that she is just old. I know her intentions were good, but yuck!!

Dec 5, 2008

Vicenza at Christmas Time

Vicenza is one of the best places to be during the holidays. The town reminds me of something out of a disney movie. Everyone walks around town all bundled up in their hats, gloves and scarves just to visit with friends or to do a little shopping. The town is decorated with beautiful Christmas lights and a huge tree is in the big piazetta in the middle of town. When I look around, I feel like I am in a little Christmas village. (you know, the little Christmas villages that people set up as decorations for Christmas...). I really enjoy just walking around and feeling the Christmas spirit. I have decorated the house, and it looks great. I've been playing Christmas music, and I am feeling pretty Christmassy!! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Now I just need to start my shopping!

Dec 2, 2008

I've got Skills!

Thanksgiving/Christmas was a hit! I made my first Turkey and dressing! I was rather impressed by my cooking and happy that everything turned out pretty good. We had about 7 people over and enjoyed my fancy feast. I was worried that I couldn't imitate my grandmothers dressing, but amazingly I came pretty close. Since I have never really been a cook, this was a big deal for me. I have realized that I am actually an ok cook and I'm proud of myself for preparing such a big meal all by myself.

To my family's suprise, I even served dinner on my china (even though almost everyone at the table was an army guy---except for Janet...). They probably didn't notice the china or the crystal, but I did. I was really happy to be able to have a fancy dinner that I prepared. When I was younger, I always told my family that I would never serve Thanksgiving on China. I would have it on paper plates, paper napkins, and plastic utensils. But now that I have grown up, I couldn't wait to use my nice things and have a beautiful table.

It was so great to have our friends over to share in our Psyudo Thanksgiving. They were all good sports about it, and even said "Happy Thanksgiving" several times. I guess it wasn't hard for them, c'mon, most everyone that came was a single guy and when someone offers a free huge meal, they don't say no! I am going to have to practice my cooking on them some more! I know Reamer is happy about my new skill. (He ate so much food....)--Which made me feel good. I guess I need some more reciepes! Anyone who has any fun reciepe ideas, send them my way!

Dec 1, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving/Merry Christmas!

I was unable to celebrate Thanksgiving this year because we were traveling and touring with our friends Carol and her mom. We had a great day of hiking the CinqueTerre and saw some of the most beautiful sites we have seen in Itlay thus far. We had a wonderful time, but Reamer and I both were missing some Turkey so I decided to have Thanksgiving a few days late. So even though my Christmas decorations are already up, we are having some friends over tonight to celebrate Thanksgiving/Christmas with a Turkey, my grandma's dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, pecan pie, chocolate cake and some cookies! Oh, and SWEET TEA! I haven't had any sweet tea since I've moved to Italy!! This is my first time cooking Thanksgivng dishes, so wish me luck! (Thankgoodness these army guys are willing to eat Turkey again!)