29 January 2012

Vernazza Still Needs Your Help

Donations, small or large, are an incredibly important part of the rebuilding effort in Vernazza. If you still have not had a chance to donate, or would like to give more, there are several options and programs available. There are two Non-profits funding the rebuilding projects, one directly through the Commune di Vernazza and the other, set up by three American expats in Vernazza, called Save Vernazza. Both accept payments through PayPal.
Started by American expats in Vernazza, they keep their website, entirely in English, updated with the latest information, pictures, videos and the current rebuilding projects. Check out their site because it is a wealth of information! They can also help you organize a fundraising event in your area. They also accept your information if you would like to come to volunteer during the rebuilding. For their donation information, click here.

Their website, all in Italian, keeps a running total of the amount aquired and gives updates on the rebuilding projects. All the donation information can be found here.

28 January 2012

Vernazza: January Update

January has been a busy month in Vernazza. It welcomed the new year, new projects, new donations and even welcomed back many of it’s residents. But it also said goodbye to a tragic year, painful memories and the seemingly permanent and comforting presence of the cooks from the Marina Militare
With their portable trailer, the big tent and some powerful generators, Piazza Marconi was the "epicenter" of activity and comforting hot meals. These guys, lovingly nicknamed "The Navy Cooks", have been there from the very beginning, cooking meals for the residents, the volunteers, the military and the emergency crews. Here they were cooking Christmas dinner. On January 5, their work was finally over and with big hugs and big tears, they were bid an emotional farewell with a goodbye party thrown by the grateful residents of Vernazza.

25 January 2012

A Sicilian Revolt

It’s called the Movimento dei Forconi, or the Pitchfork Movement. It started as an uprising by the farmers because the cost of transporting food in and out of Sicily surpassed the actual price of the food. In complete disgust and a general consensus of being fed up with the multiple tax increases and lack of pay, people took to the roads and freeways to block any further transport. It was then fully supported by truck drivers. It started as a protest, turned into a demonstration and quickly spread across the island into a full revolt. Now, more than two weeks into the complete blockage of transport, most grocery stores, from the neighborhood market to the huge supermarket have baren shelves and all the gas stations on the entire island are dried up.

The beginnings of this “revolution” was kept rather hush hush. The national news refused to cover the story, either because they didn’t think it was serious, or more likely, they didn’t want the idea to spread. But thanks to the internet and again, Facebook, pictures, reports and videos spread like wildfire and most of the country knew about the revolt before the news said one word about it. Now of course, they keep constant updates on the ‘situation’ in Sicily, but what they feared the most was inevitable--the idea caught on. Now, truck drivers are parking their rigs from Trentino to Ventimiglia, blocking the borders and preventing transport. Here in my city, there are already lines at the gas stations and there have been warnings to fill up our cars in case we don’t have gas for a while.

24 January 2012

The Liebster Blog Award

The Liebster Blog Award is for smaller blogs with fewer than 200 followers. Together, we can help each other network for greater visibility. So here are the 'rules' of accepting the Liebster Blog Award:
  1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award.
  2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
  3. Copy and paste the Liebster Blog Award on your blog.
  4. Reveal your top five blog picks for the award.
  5. Let them know you selected them by leaving a comment on their blog.
I am happy to have received the Liebster Blog award from Sam of Two Black Doggies, a fun blog filled with tales of European travels (especially Italy) and of course, her adorable two black doggies. She has also helped spread the news of the floods in the Cinque Terre and this has helped immensely. Thank you so much Sam!

Here are some really great blogs that I think everyone should know about (some were impossible to see the number of followers, so hopefully they fit the qualification):

15 January 2012

Sunday Lunch...A Modo Mio

The typical fare at our Sunday family lunch starts with my mother-in-law's pasta al forno, or baked pasta; then we move on to the main course of carne impanata, or breaded pan-fried beef or chicken cutlets, a green salad accompanied by slices of more bread and some kind of dessert that usually involves ricotta cheese and even more flour (ricotta cake or cannoli). It's a lunch that lasts the entire day, from around 1pm, with the first course, passing to the main course, then the fruit course, then dessert and then caffè, lasting well until 6 pm or so. It is all delicious and it's nice to spend time together, but we always wind up going home uncomfortably stuffed and we don't want to even see more food again. Thankfully I have no problem with wheat, but my poor husband does not do so well with this Italian diet based on refined wheat. At home, we are not gluten-free, but I make sure to use a minimum amount of wheat--we almost never eat bread and we only eat pasta occasionally--something that worries my mother-in-law because, after all, pasta is the cornerstone of a proper diet. But nevertheless, my husband does well during the week and gets all out of whack after our wheat-ridden Sunday lunches (which he loves--nothin' better than mamma's cooking). This Sunday, though, we opted out of this weekly ritual for a simple Sunday together. But lunch still had to be had...

05 January 2012

Leave Your Mark In The 5 Terre

I just learned about a fantastic initiative put together by the town of Monterosso, local artists and residents to create sponsored tiles in a 'dry wall' project. With a donation of just 150 euros, you can have your name, your affiliation or a small phrase carved into a stone-like tile that will make up a future wall in the gorgeous Cinque Terre town. Larger donations will provide larger "stones".

For more information, visit the website Rebuild Monterosso and if you would like to participate, email them at info@rebuildmonterosso.com.

04 January 2012

Clementine Elderberry Scones

I was in a creative baking mood and I came up with the most delicious scones I have ever made! I am very excited to share these with you because it also utilizes the elderberry syrup that I showed you how to make this summer. They have a lovely purple hue to them, plus the drizzle of elderberry frosting makes them just as good to look at. I try to limit my use of white flour as much as possible, so I split the amount with almond flour. Most of the flour in your baking recipes can usually be split with half almond flour, but for baked goods, you do need some of the flour to hold its consistency. If you don't have almond flour, just use 2 cups of plain flour. I think the combination of elderberry and Clementine is a fantastic pairing. Here is my recipe:

03 January 2012

Cancer Strikes Again

Death is inevitable. It is the only thing you can count on in life—it will happen to me, it will happen to you, it will happen to everyone. The only thing we don’t know about death is when it will happen. The other night, this world lost yet another great physician. Last night I learned that my former boss, a talented acupuncturist, passed away on New Year’s eve after a two year battle with cancer. Knowing him was a pleasure and an honor. He was a great boss--fun and laid-back, interesting, brilliant and a very unique person. He was one of those geniuses that functions at a different level than everybody else. While that made him an exceptional healer, it also rendered him a difficult business owner. If it wasn’t for his incredibly competent and capable business partner and wife, the clinic would not have lasted very long. He was at times absent-minded and completely lacked an awareness of time. This caused many headaches and frustrations for his wife, his patients and the office manager (myself for a few years). Part of my job was to stay on top of him and constantly try to keep him on track—something that was pretty much futile. He meant well—we got him to set alarms on his watch, then on his iphone, but inevitably he would have patients or his kids waiting 30 minutes, 40 minutes.... His reasons for this were always due to his complete fascination for an ailing patient and what the key underlying factors could be. Like a compassionate Dr. House, he would ponder all the organs, all the factors at play and then write and rewrite herbal formulas. And, like Dr. House, he had his adolescent ways, a crass and at times inappropriate sense of humor. But behind the goofy, 6’5’’ bear, was a warm, caring, sensitive, intelligent and talented doctor. He loved to spend time with his patients, working on them, massaging them or just chatting with them. Just as Dr. House has his flaws, he is incredibly endearing and my boss was as well, plus he had a warm heart, was a big teddy bear and was someone fun to giggle with during down time.

Vernazza Updates:

Vernazza is well on its way to normalcy and while I no longer write updates on their status, you can learn about the devastating floods of 2011 by clicking the label "Vernazza Updates". For the latest information from the organizations in Vernazza and Monterosso, visit SaveVernazza and Rebuild Monterosso.

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