29 May 2008

come sail away...

...with piacere as we 'cruise' into june!stay tuned for updates from the sunshine state...T-48 hours 30 minutes & counting til the launch!

28 May 2008

buon compleanno, il mio ometto!!

dear Little Man, my crazy world-traveling meteorologist in the making...yesterday you turned 14. how can it be that my baby, the *baby* is now taller than his momma?? really, your name should be Not-So-Little-Man! every single day is a wild ride with you...from 6 am math lessons (at your request!) to tornado chasing, there is never, ever a dull moment around here. and dad & i are loving every minute of it! i cannot believe you will start high school later this year...time for the serious science that you soak in like a sponge.may your rain gauge be full, may your radar detect awesome skies (i know our definitions of 'awesome skies' differ a bit!), may your forecast be bright...now pack your bags for that visit with M., the shuttle launch & the cruise...andiamo, ometto!!! love, your momma :)

25 May 2008

weather or not...a scientific update

even though school ended here last week, the science continues...& thanks to Little Man, i am in the know!

today begins National Hurricane Preparedness Week! according to their website ...

"The goal of this Hurricane Preparedness Web site is to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take ACTION. This information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water." so if you live in an area where hurricanes like to hang out, be sure to venture on over to NOAA's site & brush up on safety & preparation. (my only question is why do they not include chocolate in the preparation kit????) remember: hurricane season in the atlantic basin begins june 1.

(do you think it is any accident that Little Man's birthday falls during Hurricane Preparedness Week???...more on that later!)

today is not only the first day of Hurricane Preparedness Week, it is also the day that NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander lands on Mars (just like its name says~!)...touchdown is expected at 7:53 pm EDT. if you have the NASA channel on TV, you will be able to watch it. also the website will be covering it.

& finally at the end of this week, Little Man & i hope to be liveblogging the Space Shuttle Discovery launch from Kennedy Space Center, FL.

i believe i will just proclaim this to be Science Week here at casa piacere!...stay tuned for more...

24 May 2008

a very special birthday...

i am very honored to be a part of a special group of blogging women...SHE WHO BLOGS. this amazing group is very diverse, very talented, very caring...kept in tow by our fearless leader FRANCES, keeper of many blogs. please take a moment to stop by today & drop some wishes~~ SHE WHO BLOGS is celebrating one year today~~ big hugs to you, frances for all your efforts, your kind words, your bloglove. you are an amazing woman! (& a big shout-out to lissa for the blog redesign, just in time for the celebration~~ it is just beautiful!)

23 May 2008

where has piacere been....?

no, it is not jet lag! well, it was for a bit, but may has been & will continue to be a very, very busy month here at casa piacere. one child moving home (summer break~~ welcome home Baby Girl); one child moving out (we miss you K-Bug), boyworld needing transportation to multiple endeavors, boyworld finishing the school year (whew! GIANT sigh of relief...), boyworld overtaking mother's day for weather purposes, D.'s parents leaving, D.'s parents returning (we can't wait to see you again!), & finally~ drum roll, please~~~ more travel!!!

yes, that's right...piacere is on the road again next week to visit a soul sister, view a space shuttle launch (fingers crossed on that one!!) & hit the caribbean with the WHOLE family!!! also on the horizon...visiting with the soul sister circle in june & a roman holiday redux!! i have been missing my writing & photo fun (it has been quite sparse, but snap 366 is still going on!) & i have been missing proper blog hopping...i have been reading regularly, but not leaving many comments. please be assured that i still feel the love for y'all!!

22 May 2008

more roman reminisces...

typically in my travels i prefer to wander about & see what i can find in terms of places to eat. i have enjoyed some of the most amazing meals by doing so, but occasionally i do use a little help, be it from a friend or a guidebook. when i am out & about in roma, one will usually find my trusty current edition of rick steves' rome guidebook in my bag. rick never lets me down...just ask spf! & this trip was no exception. his restaurant suggestions (listed by areas of the city) led us to one of our dining highlights of this stay in roma...ristorante pizzeria sacro e profano, tucked in an out of the way side street near the fontana di trevi.very convenient for us since we usually stay just behind the piazza navona! we arrived early for our dinner (it was a hungry train travel day) & had a wide selection of seating...outside, inside near the wood-burning oven or on the interior balcony. i could not resist the table that overlooked the workstation of the guy making pizza.as the evening moved along, nearly every table was full & the smells wafting in our direction from the oven were unbelievable.the food was delish & the wine was fine! but be aware it is not typical roman cuisine...their dishes are calabrian. my personal favorites...tonno agli agrumi (an antipasto - tuna in citrus) & mezzalune zucca e salsiccia (primo piatto - half-moon pasta with pumpkin & sausage)
our other favorite on this trip...la pancia felice. we stumbled upon this delightful place, slightly off the beaten path, while on our way to meet john paul for our tour. i must confess that i do not remember what D. had, but i do remember a lot of mmmmmm's... i fell madly in love with my pasta stuffed with spinach, ricotta & lemon zest...so much so that i gave the chef a big hug before we left!
one final place of note to us from our previous stays in roma...rinaldi al quirinale. this is the place to celebrate with a very special dinner. one of our friends who is a priest took us to this fantastic place on our last night in roma a few years ago. i cannot remember a particular favorite but what i do remember is a constant stream of dishes coming to the table, each better than the last. i also remember leaving the place so stuffed that i could not even have gelati that night~~ a true first for me!!
& speaking of gelati...i have not a single photo of the stuff. can you believe it?? truth of the matter is that when that stuff is in front of me, i am, quite frankly, too busy eating it~~ no, devouring it to even think about my camera! my favorite gelati in roma...this is where rick steves & i part ways a bit...gelateria della palma, located just 2 blocks from the pantheon.my most awesome flavor experience on this trip (& there were many!!) was cioccolato fondente & pompelmo roso (chocolate & red grapefruit). next time i will try to capture the gelato magic on film!
i cannot end my roman reminisces without a shout-out to our wonderful hosts on all our roman holidays thus far...residenza san pantaleo. we have stayed in both the residenza & one of the apartments they offer. both experiences were perfect for us~ a great value in terms of price & location.
& finally i leave you today with a bit of touristic wandering through the eternal city...il foro romano~ as my one son says...where the really old stuff is!fontana di trevi~ did you toss your euro to ensure a return trip??scala di spagna~ in all its springtime splendor.santa maria della vittoria~ bernini's st. theresa in ecstasysee you in firenze for my next travel installment...ciao!

12 May 2008

the perks of being Little Man's driver...

i had the best of intentions to spend yesterday in boyworld celebrating mother's day with a jaunt into the city & return home to do a post with a shout-out to D.'s wonderful momma & my birth momma, J. but you know how it goes with the best-laid plans! we did make it into the city after Big Bro was through at work. we did have a grand time being silly together. but one of us got his best-day-ever wish...& one of us ended the evening hiding in our windowless hallway in fear! let me explain...
while enjoying a cold coffee-type drink in the brilliant sunshine, i noticed a cloud formation behind the boys that spoke to Little Man's meteorological heart.that was enough to put us on the move toward home with hopes of tracking some storms. en route shortly thereafter, the horizon was filled with an ominous, dark sky. we pulled into a store for an item needed for that night's dinner (ice cream...hey, it was mother's day!). boyworld made a run for the store, but i had the camera poised. the lightening was quite amazing a few miles from us & i decided to try for that elusive lightening bolt shot. well, i got it!& a whole lot more than i bargained for. i realized that while i was totally focused on bolts, the clouds had taken on a formation known as a shelf cloud, the type that proceeds tornadic activity. please understand, i have never had, nor will i likely ever have, a desire to be one of those storm chaser types. i am more like a storm run-away-from-er! & you might ask just how i knew about this cloud formation & could so aptly spot it...well, Little Man & i just completed 2 National Weather Service classes on things like this. he is an official weather spotter for our county & technically, so am i, but alas i am too wimpy-afraid to really desire to do it...but i am his official driver & i did indeed spot it! at that moment, while furiously clicking away with my camerai made a bolt for the store & dialed Little Man's cell with my free hand. he was at the door just in time to see the whole thing. we never saw the tornado on the ground but he did fulfill his official spotter duties with a call to the NWS to report the cloud formation. (this morning we did confirm a tornado touchdown just a short distance from us at that very time through the NWS website...mild damage & no injuries, thank God!) a short while later the storm clouds had passed & we were on our way home, again in brilliant sunshine.
but that was not to last...no, another ominous cloud formation was trailing us home!& last evening we ran the gambit of wild weather...supercell cloudstornadoes skirting our area, hail, & a total of 3 NWS reports filed by Little Man! what did i do? well, i spent a good chunk of the dangerous times hiding in the hallway on the cell phone with J. & praying furiously...taking an occasional jaunt to the window for a photo op all for the blog!we were very fortunate in our home & our area...minor damage, no lives lost. but much of the country did not fare so well. please keep the many mother's day tornado victims in your prayers. & to my brood of children who frequently take me out of my comfort zone: thank you!!!...but please leave me in peace with my ice cream tonight! ;-) & to all you mother's out there...a belated happy mother's day from piacere!

10 May 2008

roman reminisces...

it takes me a few weeks after travel to really digest what i've seen & done. for days, & even weeks, after arriving home i will have flashbacks & let my mind wander through the experiences again & again. but to write about the experiences...that comes later for me. i am tempted to say that it is something from jetlag, but it can't be since it happens even when i journey north or south within my own time zone!

after considering this about myself on our most recent trip, i have come to believe that my writing time is something i do from within my norm. when i am outside my norm, i am more fully living in the present & totally absorbed in the moment. writing is a 'something-other' experience...it rarely is about that very moment in time...for me it is a remembering or creating activity. when i am traveling, i just have no desire at all to be anywhere other than in that which is happening & so writing becomes a chicken-scratch pile of disarray to be sorted at a later date. & so be it. forcing things, especially one's muse, is not a good thing.

our trip last month is what i playfully described to D. as cliche-italy. we revisited 3 places that i could never exhaust...venezia, firenze e roma. every time i have been to any of these marvelous cities, i always come away with a 'next time i'm here...' plan! (& yes, this time was no exception.) we had 1 evening & 2 full days in roma on this adventure involving walking~~ miles & miles of walking~~ lots of food, even more gelati, & some in-deep time at the Vatican, which for this theology/art history major was a very big deal.if you ever find yourself in roma, no matter what your spiritual leaning or artistic knowledge, i would highly recommend visiting St. Peter's & the Vatican Museum. there really are no words... even our children who were with us on the last visit (& were ages 10-16) had not one word of 'are we through yet' at the Vatican. now, if you are Catholic, as we are, this is a must-see-no-exceptions kind of place.for our return trip, on the advice of many others, i booked 2 tours (not something i usually do) that made all the difference for D. & i. the first one was the Scavi Tour...a guided journey into the ruins *under* St. Peter's Basilica for a look into pagan & Christian burial sites & the actual tomb of St. Peter. what a history lesson in layers! (please scroll down past the Vatican Museum info in the link i have provided...& as they note, book early, early, early...it is hard to get a reservation now.) your tour ends in the crypts under the basilica & you may go all throughout the public areas of the basilica at that time without going through the possibly long line for regular entrance.

on a side note...for a truly beautiful experience though, i would suggest arriving at St. Peter's at 7 am, when it opens. very few people are there, it is still relatively quiet, & the morning light is quite mystical.another highlight of our time in roma was not just another tour, it was a chance to meet a blog-buddy too! John Paul Sonnen has been blogging for sometime & has recently started offering guided tours of the Vatican Museum & St. Peter's Basilica. when he posted his tour offerings, my first thought was that we've 'done' the Vatican enough times that we wouldn't need a guided tour. but his informative posts kept haunting me & i realized that he had so much more to offer than we have ever experienced...how true that is! we spent an entire afternoon with him & it passed in the blink of an eye. please be sure to visit John at his blog, orbis catholicus, & if your are heading to roma, drop him a line to schedule a very worth-it Vatican tour.next up from roman reminisces...food & GELATI, plus a stroll through some typical tourist sites...

07 May 2008

short on wednesday...

ok, ok!! absolutely no height comments allowed from those of you who know me & my height-challenged stature! by short i am referring to the what's cooking wednesday recipe... around here the strawberry season is in full swing& a special request from boyworld was strawberry shortcake. no problem! this recipe is based on one that i inherited from my aunt F. she & my aunt B. taught me all kinds of baking secrets in my teens & twenties. in my thirties my good friend B. helped me go a bit deeper with baking skills. & now...there is the internet with a whole world of information to help one hone culinary skills. today's recipe is a composite of all three...my aunt gave me the base recipe, B. suggested changing from milk to cream for the liquid, & somewhere along my internet recipe reading, i picked up the idea to use citrus zest in the batter.
& here is the end result...it received the boyworld seal of approval, as evidenced by the disappearance of the entire batch within 2 hours!
Strawberry Shortcake
preheat oven to 375 & prepare a baking sheet
mix together 1 3/4 c. flour, 5 T. sugar, 1 T. baking powder, & 2 pinches salt
cut in 1/4 cold butter until mix is crumbly with pea-size lumps
add 1 c. milk or cream (cream really does make a difference) & the zest from 1 lemon OR 1 orange...mix into a ball then knead 5-6 times on floured surface
roll dough & use a 2-3" round cutter...gather dough scraps & reroll until completely used
place on prepared baking sheet, brush tops with cream & sprinkle with raw sugar
bake 15-17 minutes, until lightly browned
serve with fresh berries & cream...may add sugar, mint &/or citrus zest to berries...LA DOLCE VITA!!!

05 May 2008

in the palm of His hand

Corey...my prayers are with you & your family, especially today.Requiem Æternam
Réquiem ætérnam dona eis,
Dómine,et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace.

04 May 2008

love looks like...

i've been thinking a lot in these last few days about the faces of love & for very good reason...D. & i celebrated our anniversary on friday. since returning from our italian trip last week, i have been walking around with that 'eyes wide open' sort of awareness (the kind that comes from a fantastic rejuvenation through travel) & love keeps coming to the foreground...the spring air is heavily ladened with it.each moment of love that i have glimpsed is indeed a rich treasure to hold in the heart, each one numbered among my 1000 gifts...
78. a friend's hand reaching to help with the heavy burden
79. that first-of-the morning cup of coffee made just the right way80. a hand held across a rough spot81. our friend spending her nights on the ICU waiting room couch to be close to her critically ill husband (who is now on the mend, thank God!!)
82. arms holding in tight embrace through devastating news
83. a girlfriend's voice at the end of the phone line saying 'i'll pray for you tonight'
84. a word of encouragement whispered at just the right moment85. a quiet passing of time with a friend when no words are necessary86. memories shared of years traveled side-by-side & dreams shared...sent heavenward on the wings of hope~~happy 21st anniversary, D...2 days late, but with love multiplied!!