Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflecting on 2009

Christmas Eve was a week ago. I can hardly believe it. Time just seems to keep accelerating and tomorrow will be 2010.  As I sit here indulging myself with a bit more Christmas music (I give myself through New Years' Eve) I am reflecting on what I have done and accomplished in 2009.

Sometimes I feel like I am just spinning my wheels being a housewife, at home too much, accomplishing too little.  However, when I sit down and list out what I've done in the past year I feel pretty good. I have a friend who includes a year by the numbers section to his Christmas card/letter.  I thought I'd try that this year, so here it is:
  • Masters Degrees Completed: 1
  • New Countries Visited: 2
  • Books Read (not including textbooks) : 27
  • Years I have lived in Sicily: 3
  • Photos taken (not including the bad ones I deleted) : 3,382
  • Stampin' Up! Workshops/Classes held: 11
  • Portrait photo shoots: 4
  • Craft fairs participated in: 3
  • New Computers: 1
  • Guests from the States: 2
  • Trips off of the island of Sicily: 5
I have done a lot more than the items listed above, but I can't think how to quantify them.  It has been a busy, full year and I'm excited to see what 2010 holds for me. I don't really make New Year's Resolutions, but I do have a few broad goals in mind.  I hope to be able to live up to them. The fresh start of a new year is always energizing.

I wish all of my readers a happy and prosperous new year! May 2010 be full of joy!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Les' Birthday!

Today my husband is 30! We celebrated his birthday last night with a massive party. I think a good time was had by all. There was a ton of food and drinks, and the second half of the party was consumed by Texas Hold 'Em Tournament.

We had about 25 guests so I'm sure you can imagine the preparation that went into the party. I spent most of the evening making sure everyone had what they needed, flipping burgers on the grill, picking up and taking out trash, and refilling the food platters.

Can you believe that I didn't have time to take any pictures?!? I'm actually pretty upset with myself, but seriously I don't know when I would have had time to have my camera in my hands. I think the pictures I would have most liked to have were of Les blowing out his candles and of the cheesecake that I made that was absolutely gorgeous and tasted like heaven!

I love throwing parties but today I'm absolutely exhausted. We didn't get to bed until around 2am. Still, all of the effort was totally worth it. The food was good, everyone had fun, and most importantly Les had a good time! That makes all of the effort worthwhile. :) Happy Birthday, my love!

Girls Trip to Castelmola

Castelmola is famous for Bar Turrisi, commonly known among Americans as the penis bar. Having lived in Sicily for three years I had heard about Bar Turrisi many times, but hadn't yet visited.  A few of my girlfriends and I were curious about it and took a day trip up the long, winding road a few days before Christmas.
In 1975 Peppino married his wife Rosa and together they refurbished the bar as it stands today, particularly concentrating on enhancing the interior. They recognised that their era was particularly happy and prolific. Having had three sons within five years, there was one particular symbol that could represent it all: the penis, vulgarly referred to in Sicilian as: La Minchia. The idea of the penis has definitely had a big impact on the population, especially on the priest. However, in the following years the symbol was accepted by everyone and became a important part of the bar. In fact, it is present in different shapes, lengths and materials, in wood, ceramics, terracotta, worked iron, pasta and marzipan. The Minchia sets the tempo of the bar and the moods of all those within it. The penis is not a vulgar symbol and finds his roots in Greek culture, where the god Priapous represented fertility, freedom, fortune, life and beauty. (
So, now that you know a bit of background on Bar Turrisis I will share some of the pictures I took that day. Before going into Bar Turrisi my friends and I walked around a bit and enjoyed the fantasic view of Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea

Snow Capped Mt. Etna to the right and the Ionian Sea to the left

Side windows of the Duomo

Castelmola is also famous for its amazing almond wine

My reflection in a Christmas Ornament

The Famous Bar Turrisi

Just inside the front door of Bar Turrisi

The handle on the front door of the bar

The Duomo and Mt. Etna from the roof terrace of Bar Turrisi

Me, Kristina, and Katie on the Bar Turrisi Rooftop Terrace

After lunch we had this spectacular dessert!  Chocoate gelato covered in espresso and topped with whipped cream, YUM!

Penis, Caltagirone Style

Eventually we finished our four hour lunch and left Bar Turrisi.  We walked around the town a bit more, but the sun was setting and it was almost time to head back toward home.

The facade of the Duomo

Kristina, Katie, and me

Mt. Etna Sunset

Posing, Christmas Card Style
Kristina, Me, Katie

Through the railing

My day in Castelmola was awesome.  Great friends, good food, and lots of laughter!  I will definitely visit Castelmola again.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ricotta Cheese Workshop

A couple of weeks ago I was able to go to a Ricotta Cheese Workshop with a couple of my girlfriends.  The workshop consisted of watching the cheese be made and then, my favorite parts, tasting the cheese and having a fantastic lunch using the cheese and other fresh, local products.

The beautiful, rustic ceiling of the restaurant

Making Tuma, the first cheese

The Tuma is ready!

Tuma with pepper corns, called Pepato

Big Basket of Tuma

Did I mention that all of this wonderful cheese is made from Sheep's Milk?

Lining up for milking, they know the drill

Around the farm, a bare tree with a strange spiky pod (the greenish thing)

Ricotta means re-cooked - Ricotta is the 2nd cheese and is a re-cook of the whey from the Tuma with more milk added.  Its almost ready!

This was a great way to spend a day!  I learned a lot and got to spend time with wonderful friends. I would definitely recommend this trip to others!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Buon Natale!

I can't believe that today is Christmas and it is already almost over!  December passed by much too quickly.  I've been so busy that it seemed like I merely blinked on Thanksgiving day and now we are almost through December!

Playing with my new star filter

I've been having fun, and enjoying Sicily a lot lately.  I've been out an about with friends seeing new places which is the best part of living here.  Often I get bogged down with day to day life that I don't have time to really enjoy myself so this month I chose to put chores to the side (they'll be there tomorrow or the next day) and get out of the house to have fun.  It has been awesome.

Star filters are really cool!

Now that it is Christmas I actually have a bit of time to sit down and reflect on where I've been and what I've done.  I've also had time to go through my pictures from my journeys and edit a few to share here on my blog.  Those posts will be up soon.

Les and Terry at Christmas lunch

For now, though, this post is about Christmas.  Today has been good.  Lots of awesome presents for me, but even more fun was watching my husband unwrap the gifts from me and my family.  I get true joy out of watching someone open a gift that they are excited about and will truly enjoy.

My goofy husband

This afternoon we were able to go out to lunch with good friends.   We ate a huge meal over the course of about four and a half hours at a nearby agriturismo.  It was fantastic!  I doubt I'll need anything else to eat tonight, though.  I'm still so full!

Terry and Betsy

Merry Christmas to all of my amazing family and friends! I hope your day is filled with blessings and love!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cooking Class at Azienda Trinita

Last night Les and I attended a cooking class at Azienda Trinita in Mascalucia. This place is amazing!  It is right in the middle of Mascalucia, but as soon as you enter their gates you feel like you've been transported to the country.  They have beautiful sprawling gardens, which we got to tour, rooms to rent for the night, and a fabulous kitchen where we learned to cook delicious Sicilian dishes.  This place is so cool that even Oprah stayed there! Yep, seriously, I saw pictures of the owners with Oprah!

 An old church just outside the gates of Azienda Trinita

 Fireplace painted with Mt. Etna

The delicious house wine

A beautiful painted wooden barrel

 In the Garden


A 200 Year Old Olive Tree

Tuma Cheese - the 1st Cheese that is made (Ricotta is 2nd)

Making Scaciatta
Filled with Tuma Cheese, Black Olives, Scallions, & Anchovies

Crostata, almost ready to go in the oven
Sweet dough covered with Orange Marmalade

Are you hungry yet?  Just looking at the pictures of the food we had last night makes me hungry!  In addition to these dishes we also had Penne alla'amatriciana, a meat dish made with ground beef, provolone, prosciutto cotto (ham), and boiled egg; and battered, fried cauliflower.  It was all so good!!

If you are my friend or part of my family and you decided to visit me in Sicily this place will definitely be on our agenda to visit! Les and I had so much fun and met some wonderful people.  Hopefully we can do trips like this more often!