Mar 30, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

I'm very sorry if this post offends anyone. This is directed at military spouses (especially those stationed here in Vicenza).

First, let me say that I understand your frustration. I miss my husband, get flustered about the annoying parts of Italian culture (everything being closed, lack of service, etc....) and I too had to re-adjust my life to fit our overseas duty station. That being said, I'm fed up! I'm NOT fed up with Italy or post or Italian culture. I'm fed up with some (not all) attitudes and opinions of some of the army wives.

Seriously people, you are stationed in one of the most beautiful countries in the world! People pay thousands of dollars to come to Europe for a week or two to see such a beautiful country. Ok, it's not like you must live here forever. Most of us are only stationed here for 3 years or so. That is really not very long (in the scheme of our life). And come on, your duty station could be worse. I'm so tired of hearing negative talk about living here. You can make your time here either positive or negative. It is your choice. There are so many wonderful places to tour and visit that are only a short train ride or a short car trip away. Why not take advantage of this experience? Why can't we stop and smell the roses?? Let's try to embrace the culture and maybe we will learn something about ourselves. Who knows, you might expand your horizon and become a more well-rounded person. What is the harm in that?

Ok, it's not like I don't get annoyed sometimes too. There are things that drive me crazy here just as much as the next person. I understand where the negativity comes from. I'm just saying that our overall opinion of living here should be examined. Why spend your time "bitchinig"--(excuse my language, I'm venting) when that will accomplish nothing but making you more miserable.

Take inititive in your life! Even though the army says that you are a dependent, doesn't mean that you actually are only a dependent. You are your own individual person. You can control your own happiness. Try to adjust to living here. Make sure that you can take care of yourself. Our husbands are gone a lot of our time here so you have to figure out how to make it work for yourself. It is not your husbands (or other wives) responsibility to make you happy. Rely on yourself and stop being so dependent on others. I promise you will be a better person for it.

I'm not saying that as wives we shouldn't support eachother. I think that to have a successful community we must stick together and help eachother. I just believe that as spouses we need to have some independence. I can totally understand that it is scary and hard to adjust when you are so far away from home. But it is so vital to our happiness and even our survival that we are able to take care of ourselves.

I really hope that I haven't offended anyone with my venting. I just believe that it is important that we embrace this experience and try to see the positive in it. There are much worse things that could happen to us in our lives. Seriously, just look around you at the beauty that surrounds us. Do Not Spend all of your time on post, but do get involved and stay busy. Learn how to care for yourself. Get out and about. Embrace the food (I know that it's different, but try), embrace the culture, embrace the beautiful landscape, if you don't drive--learn the public transportation system so that you can get around town. See the sights, shop in the stores, just walk around town and look at the beautiful architecture, take a bike ride around town. Embrace the differences that surround you, but don't let the differences hinder you from living your life. Life is way to short for negitivity.

I know that I will end up complaining about some of the things that annoy us all to someone who has read this and I might possibly be viewed as hypocritical, but my intention is not to say that you can't be annoyed with some of the differences. I am really only talking about your overall demeanor about living overseas. Let's examine our overall opinion and how we are coming across to others. It is so much more enjoyable to be surrounded with positive people who can see the positive things in life. I do understand that misery loves company, but I don't want to be a part of that company.

I have had this on my mind for several weeks and have been debating about writing it, but I feel that it is something that had to be said. Please don't be offended by this venting blog, take it for what it is worth and possibly try to get something out of it.

Please remind me of this blog when I am complaining about some of the pitfalls of living here so that I too can have an attitude adjustment. We all need one of those every now and then.

Mar 26, 2009

Trip to Nove and Bassano Del Grappa

While the boys were in the field this week, I have been spending most of my time hanging out with the ladies. Janet and her friend Elissa and I went to Nove one day and did some amazing ceramic shopping!

Italy is famous for ceramics, and the town of Nove produces some of the highest-quality and most beautiful ceramics. The ceramics are made in this little town about 30 mins from Vicenza. Lenox and Tiffany are some of the name brand cermaics that are acutally made here in Nove. You can see the Italians making the famous pottery in some of the stores. There were many types of ceramics, that were on display and for sale. Some of the pieces were cutsy, some were elegant and some were functional. It was hard choosing the pieces that I wanted to buy because I liked so many of them!

We also went to Bassano Del Grappa and did some sight seeing. We were able to see the famous covered wooden bridge , which was designed by the architect Palladio in 1569. (Palladio is from Vicenza and is famous for his architechture... check out my previous blog entries to find out more about Palladio). Bassano Del Grappa is also famous for Grappa. Grappa is a fragrant grape-based liquer that is between 37.5% and 60% alcohol. Most grappa is made from grape residue (mainly the skins, but also stems and seeds) left over from making wine.

Mar 20, 2009

We are going to be a mommy and a daddy!

Ok, so I have been holding this in for too long! We wanted to wait until after the first trimester, but I can't hold out any longer! We are going to have a baby! I am currently at 10 weeks! We have had one ultrasound and have seen our little "peanut" and today I heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time!

I took this picture the day that I found out I was pregnant. I took the test several times to make sure that it was real!!! Reamer and I are very excited and can't wait for our little baby to arrive! I will try to post the ultrasound picture soon so that you can see "peanut" (while he/she still looks kinda like a peanut!!!
Here is some info on what happens in the tenth week of pregnancy! It's so neat to see how fast they turn into little babies!
***This is taken from what to expect when you are expecting website:
Your baby's nearly an inch and a half long and the size of a prune, but not nearly as shriveled. In fact, your baby is really taking a human shape now. Though your baby's arms are developing, each one is only about the size of this number 1.Your baby's growth is fast and furious when you are 10 weeks pregnant. He or she is nearly an inch and a half long and the size of a prune, but not nearly as shriveled (even with all the time it spends in water). In fact, your baby is really taking a human shape now. Bones and cartilage are forming, and small indentations on the legs are developing into knees and ankles. The arms (complete with elbows) can flex already, but don't run to the store for a baseball bat just yet. Though your baby's arms are taking shape and getting stronger, each one is only about the size of this number 1. The tooth bud fairy is making her appearance this week, heralding the arrival of your baby's little choppers, which are forming under the gums. (Those pearly whites won't break through the gums until your baby is close to six months old). Other systems are go, too. Your baby's stomach is producing digestive juices, the kidneys are producing larger quantities of urine, and, if your baby's a boy, he's already producing testosterone (yikes!).

Mar 19, 2009

Cinque Terre and Pisa

Reamer and I went went to the Cinque Terre and Pisa for his four day weekend. We really enjoyed ourselves andhad wonderful weather to complement our trip! The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. The Cinque Terre means "The Five Lands" and is called that because it comprises of five villages.

The Cinque Terre is so beautiful! It may be one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. You are able to hike from each town on a beautiful hiking trail that overlooks the beautiful views. There are restraunts on some of the trails and you are able to enjoy the amazing sights. If you were to hike the entire trail, it would be a great workout. If you decide that hiking is not your cup of tea, you can take the train to each town or do some combination of both. We really enjoyed the beautiful hiking and the wonderful weather.

One of the trails is called "Lovers Lane". It is one of the shortest trails, and has peoples names carved and written on the rocks on the path.

Some paths are very natural and you only see natural beauty. The towns are very different from eachother. Some have colorful houses that decorate the cliffs. (Stairs and paths are the only way that these people can go to and from their home). Some towns are more agricultural and lemon trees, olive trees, and small vineyards are all over the mountains. Other towns are like beach towns and have tourists paths and beaches for tourists to enjoy. You will see so much beauty in the Cinque Terre, and there is something there for everyone!

After Cinque Terre, we drove about an hour to Pisa. We got to see the leaning tower of Pisa and toured the church that is directly beside it. We walked around the city, enjoyed cappucinos and some shopping. Reamer went there as a child and we found the restaurant that his family ate at. We drove 15 mins to Camp Dary (a military post that has lots of lodging for military tourists). We got a room there are went for a walk on the beach the following day. We had an amazing trip and are excited for our next adventure!

Mar 11, 2009

Tiramisu' Recipe

As promised, here is the Tiramisu' recipe that I learned to make at the Ciao Conference! Buon Appetito!

Espresso Maker (you can substitute very strong coffee)

500gr Mascarpone cheese (approx 1 lb)-- Italians do everything by weight! They only use scales--no measuring cups ect...
2 packages savoiardi (lady fingers)
8 expresso sixed cups of coffee (approx. 14 oz)
4 Tablespoons powdered cocoa
5 eggs
5 tablespoons sugar

Preliminary Steps:
Bring ingredients to room temperature
Make espresso and pour in a shallow flat bottomed bowl and allow to cool to room temperature
Separate Egg yolks and whites

In first mising bowl, beat yolk and sugar unil creamy white. Add mascarpone and mix until blended. Leave this mixture in the bowl. In second mixing bowl, beat egg whites until fluffy. Fold beaten egg whites into mascarpone mixture. Mix only enough to blend. (over mixing will deflate egg whites). Quickly dip a savoiardo in expresso bowl. To get the right amount of espresso on the savoiardi, lay the finger flat in the botttom of the bowl sugared side Up and immediately pull it out. Place each finger flat in the bottom of the pan sugar side DOWN. The savoiardi will quickly absorb the espresso. If you soak the savoiardi in the espresso you will end up with soggy savoiardi instead of moist.

Build a layer of dipped savoiardi across the bottom of the pan. If some of the savoiardi do not look dark from the espresso, spoon on a few more drips of espresso. Any espresso left in the bottom of the pan will be absorbed. Too much espresso will turn fingers into a soggy mess. Spoon on a layer of egg/mascarpone mixture across the layer of fingers. Use about 1/2 of mascarpone mix. The layer should be about 1cm. thick. Dip another layer of savoiardi and lay them on mascarpone mix. Layer them as before, sugar side down. Spoon on second layer of egg/mascarpone mix. Sift cocoa on top of the second layer. Scoop a tablespoon of cocoa into a small sieve. Hold the sieve over the tiramisu and tap sieve on the side with your finger. The cocoa should sprinkle in an even layer. Cover the tiramisu with a very thin layer of cocoa. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. The Tiramisu will taste quite good for 3-4 days if refrigerated!

Buona fortuna!! (Good Luck!) and of course Buon Appetito!!

Ciao Conference

Last Friday I attended the annual Ciao Conference for Army spouses. What a wonderful, classy, fun, enlightening, entertaining day. The Ciao Conference is hosted every year by the Vicenza Community Club (which I am going to join). They put together a wonderful day of classes, a beautiful breakfast and an Italian style lunch that went on for hours! We also had an amazing speaker and tons of amazing items that were raffeled to the ladies.

Luckily I got in most of the classes that I wanted. I attended Italian Cooking Class, Day Trips of the Veneto Region, and Italian Dessert Class! Needless to say, I had a very filling and yummy day!

My first class was the Italian Cooking Class. In my class the Italian culinary experts taught us how to make Antipasto. I learned how to make mini pizzas with delicious Italian ingredients. I also learned to make several different sandwich rolls with prosciutto, salami, mushrooms, asiago cheese, rucula and some other amazing ingredients. We also made a Brescola and Rucula rolls with cream cheese. The yummy antipastos were delicious and not difficult to make. My friend and I attempted to make the sandwich rolls for our FRG meeting and they didn't turn out the same as the culinary experts, but I think we know what to do differently next time.

My second class taught me about neat day trips that we can take in our region. There are so many vineyards, cheese factories, olive oil and vinegar manufacturers in our region. Most of these places are available to be visited by the public and are open for tastings. These vineyards are mostly family owned and the tastings won't be a big production (like you would see in Napa Valley etc...) but the wine is to die for. One thing thatI learned about and am very interested in is Agriturismo. In Agriturismo, they must serve only things that are produced on their land. This is taken very seriously here and it sounds like it will be an amazing meal and a great experience. I learned too much in this class to share on my blog (the info is overwhelming). When we visit these places I will have to write some more about what is available around our area.
My third class was the Italian dessert class! I learned how to make Tiramisu' and Salame al Cioccolato. They were delicious! I will post the Tiramisu' recipe on my next blog for the aspiring chefs that would like to give it a try.
We were served an amazing lunch with all of the traditional Italian courses. It lasted for hours. During lunch we had "the Date Doctor" as our speaker. He is the "real" Hitch! (you know, the movie that Will Smith was in-- "Hitch"!). He was very entertaining and extremely motivational. Check him out at (p.s. he looks nothing like Will Smith!)
What an enjoyable and enlightening day! I can't wait to do it again next year! Ciao!!