Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Walker?

When is a baby considered a walker? Tyson and I keep asking ourselves, "Is she an official "walker" now? We took this video earlier this week and I was amazed at how much better she was just the next morning. I think it's safe to say that when a baby (should a say toddler now?) prefers to walk 3 steps or more to get somewhere or something instead of crawling, that classifies them as a "walker". Thoughts?
More videos to come because I haven't been able to put the flip camera down.

A walk through the Piazza

During the day, the Piazza Maggiore is always bustling with people even during the long lunch hour. People roaming around, taking pictures, chatting, eating and just watching the busy city life from the steps of the church. Because it's Christmas, the city has exploded with lights and decor and I love to soak it in. Just the other day I was running an errand and noticed a gathering of people and music playing. It was a small festival and with that came dancers, food, and special goods. Tyson said, ' I really love that the center of the city is always busy with this event or that event. It makes for a great place to gather people from in and out of the city walls.'

We took a walk this past weekend to view the beautiful tree in the Piazza at night and stroll the streets with lights above our heads. Where else can you find a fired baton twirler performing for the masses? This walk came after a long and busy week...one in which I thought our apartment would never fully recover from the explosion of this week's events. (Laundry, dishes, toys, clothes, etc...) At last, it finally did as I dedicated all my free time to restoring the apartment back to it's natural state. Back to our normal schedule with a a twist of Christmas added in there too. We truly needed our day of rest come Sunday and it was wonderful for us all to get in naps, eat, and play together.

Baton twirler finishing his act

Store front windows decked out with lights and garland. I really enjoy how much the Italians put into their window displays.

The lit snowflakes down D'Azeglio

The big Christmas tree in the Piazza with Via Indipendenze behind, also lit all down the long street

Tyson and Taryn bundled and happy

Close up of Via Independenza lights. It is a very long street and to see it lit all the way down is pretty cool

With the famed Neptune's fountain in the fore ground

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner 2

Our second Thanksgiving was sponsored by Johns Hopkins SAIS and it was lovely. The picture above shows the auditorium filled with tables and chairs...and the aluminium balls on the tables which kept the turkeys warm. Just moments after I took this picture, floods of students, teachers and some of their families filled in the chairs.

Taryn tasted the real deal pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, turkey, yams/squash and rolls all within the past two days of Thanksgiving dinner. She loved Mom's yum yum yams- a must to make every year in my family.

Having sat at the end of the table to accommodate Taryn's high chair, Tyson became the official Turkey carver. He was nervous, having never carved a turkey in his life, but with a few pointers here and there, Tyson served up the yummy turkey to our half of the table. I was proud and he wished he had his dad's electric knife.

Besides the turkey, everything was made by the students including cranberry sauce, "yams" (I had to use squash and it still tasted delicious!), gravy, vegetables, salads, macaroni and cheese etc...
It was a great night and we loved every minute of being with the SAIS community to celebrate this great American Holiday. I'm thankful for all the hard work put into making this night possible and for the joy we had walking home singing Christmas carols with the girls that live above us.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner 1

On Friday night we headed to church to celebrate Thanksgiving with the young single adults of Bologna, missionaries, the Anderson's and Julie's family. We enjoyed a wonderful turkey prepared by Paolo and stuffing from Paige and many other great American traditional eats. I was happy that the pumpkin pies made it to the church in one piece despite all of our walking, bus rides, and plastic wrap that I worried would blow with the wind and ruin the look of them!

For the thanksgiving dinners that we attended, we explained the traditions behind certain foods to those who had never celebrated or heard of Thanksgiving before. I love that we sat at huge tables at both dinners and shared food, conversation and laughs with those around us. This is a unique time of year and I loved watching the expressions on the faces of those around me. There is magic to holidays that brings people together, no matter their race, ethnicity, or religion. And being apart of what I call our "Italian Thanksgiving" (pictures above) and our "SAIS Thanksgiving" (to be posted later) where there couldn't have been more diverse groups of people, I truly appreciated the unity I can feel with those people, brought by thoughts of giving, thankful hearts, and loving concerns for those around you.

Paolo didn't want to get a picture of just himself with his great turkey so he volunteered Taryn to take the attention off! Taryn couldn't take her eyes off that bird behind her. First time seeing a Thanksgiving turkey and I'm sure she thought it was going to attack her!

I know that by the time we leave Bologna, I will have a billion pictures of these two pretty girls playing together. And I'll love each one just like I do this one.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

My first pumpkin pies were a success! I'm so happy that they turned out...not to say that they are perfect but I'm glad it wasn't a total flop. I have learned a lot for the next go around. So much was riding on these two pumpkin pies...it was to be served to not only the few Americans but the Italians, most of whom had never tasted pumpkin pie (as Tyson and I found out!) How can I let their first experience be an awful one. I hope tonight's official taste test proves a success!

The labor of love that produced these pies:

1. Purchased a 1/4 of a Large pumpkin and cleaned it out

2. Cut the pumpkin in segments to cook faster and then placed them in the oven for about 30 min.

3. Easily scooped the insides into a bowl. The skins just fell off practically by themselves

4. After gathering all the pumpkin goop, I blended it and added the other ingredients

5. I made my dough a few days earlier so it was already chilled and formed (bleh-not proud of my edges-guess I need to make more pies to practice! I should have gone to Janette's young women's Mutal night!!)

It took about an hour to bake them and with our tiny oven I had to do one during each of Taryn's naps during the day. I'm really glad I challenged myself in making these this year. While I was in the kitchen making everything I realized how thankful I am for food that surrounds our traditions. It all adds so much to the experience of the holidays. As I told my sister Ashleigh, diets go on hold for the acutal holi-DAY.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

I was reading my cute cousins blog and it really got me thinking about this time spent with extended family. Yes, I almost cried reading it because I could literally picture myself doing all those things with family all around. But I realized it wasn't so much of being homesick. Yes, I miss my family and Tyson's family very much, but what struck me is that our families are deeply rooted in traditions and I absolutely LOVE it. My emotions were close to the surface because I realized that now with my small family, we will make our own traditions and carry on the traditions from Tyson's family and my family.

I am really excited to spend Thanksgiving in Italy with Tyson and Taryn and celebrate not one, not two, but three Thanksgivings over the course of the weekend. I'm excited to try my hand at baking two pumpkin pies completely from scratch- roasting the pumpkin and pureeing it and everything- and baking and cooking many other delicious foods. And finding ingredients here...sometimes it's hard!

Loaded guns...ready,aim,fire!
The years of collected McDonald's toys, old barbies, tin cans & milk cartons my mom saves for weeks, old light bulbs and a favorite one year was expired Soda that provided an amazing explosion when hit with the bee-bee- gun...

Cooking in the kitchen with my mom. She is truly amazing in the kitchen and I love to help her- that's when I learn the most- right beside her! I love eating all of her wonderful creations!
My dad says his job on Thanksgiving is to wash dishes- always making sure that my mom has the utensils she needs. This may mean washing the same spoon or knife 50 times within 30 minutes. This is true love. ( yes- teary eyed again!)
Games and photos at the park during our Breakfast Burrito and Kick Ball Tournament (does anyone remember the marshmellow gun war?) . The breakfast burritos are legendary. I look forward to them every year!

Crashing after all the food is gone (who am I kidding, there's always yummy leftovers!!!) to get the energy back for all the games played after pie.

The kids table- something I am definitely doing with my future Thanksgivings. I remember really bonding with my cousins while sitting at our own table.

Seeing siblings after a long absence!

Tons and tons of people who we squeeze into our family room.
And the AMAZING table scapes (sp?) Mackenzie, Jen, Ashleigh and Brooke usually gather leaves, branches, pine cones, candles, pumpkins, Lincoln logs and little pioneer people to make the most wonderful centerpieces. Every year is something beautiful and it's part of the magic that makes these dinners so special. (didn't have a close up picture but my cousins blog -link above- has a better view!)

For Tyson's Thanksgivings...

Running the Turkey Trot- we had so much fun- and it was totally a last minute decision. Maybe next time we'll train a bit :) We came in FIRST....in the hand holding division....we had been married only a couple of weeks!

The endless amounts of perfectly homemade pies...I'm drooling over this picture! I can never make up my mind so I always end up taking pieces of all or eating bits of Tyson's - that's what I love about him- we share bits of food and love it!

Rainbow pie- 'nough said. Trevor and Todd- you guys are amazing!

We've been lucky to spend the last couple of Thanksgivings with the Smith/Booth families and I look forward to adding more Smith/Booth family photos to my iPhoto album...oh man! I love family- getting teary eyed just writing this!

9 months old

The photo shoot was about to start so I could document her 9th month and Taryn grabbed her favorite stuffed animal- her Thailand Tiger. Grandpa Smith made sure that when we left the Tiger Zoo in Thailand, Taryn had a stuffed tiger in hand. And she LOVES it! So I thought it would be alright for the tiger to join in on the photo shoot.

I don't know what it was about these past two weeks but Taryn has truly grown in so many ways! She talks a lot more, almost singing like, when she plays with her toys and moves from room to room. She smiles a lot at strangers (it used to take some coaxing- she used to just stare) And still waves at them as well.

She loves playing with Tyson and me and waits for us to come and tickle her while she is lying on the bed. She's mastered Peek-A-Boo or Coo-Coo and spent 10 minutes with the kitchen towel tonight figuring out different ways to do so (video to be posted soon!)

Taryn lost her balance yesterday at got her first fat lip due to her new top teeth- Poor girl looks like she took it hard! She started "dancing" on Sunday night. I think Tyson was singing and we noticed her "dancing" right along. It was pretty cute!

She enjoys handing things to me and then I give them back. Hopefully this will encourage sharing toys later on. She continues to walk by herself- steps here and there- I think she is beginning to warm up to the idea.

When she laughs and I can see her two teeth I can't help but think how fast she is growing up!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


In the Piazza Maggiore this week there was a Chocolate Show that was incredible. I saw chocolate in the form of pasta, cell phones, thumb drives, dentures, rusty tools, shoes, shirts, purses, statues, cd's, and so much more that I have forgotten. I passed by the enormous amounts of chocolate truffles and my heart actually ached for those who had to labor over all of them. From my job as a pastry assistant, I learned that making the perfect truffle is hard- tempering chocolate (no yucky white streaks in my chocolate!!!) can be a horrible task especially in Arizona and I questioned whether or not I even wanted to eat one! I learned what an "etto" is (100 grams) and it was confirmed to me yet again that the typical Italian hot chocolate is more of a thick, rich, eat it with a spoon pudding- not the watery drink that I am more accustom to.

The edible rusty tools. These were my favorite-

Truffles...we have a love/hate relationship.

These two girls bundled up for me & Paige's adventure of discovering the Chocolate Festival on Wednesday while our husbands were busy with mid-terms.

I was so happy when Tyson finished up his school work on Thursday early! We met at the Library where I had to return some books and headed to the Chocolate festival (again! Yeah!)

The biggest Toblerone Bar I have ever seen!!!! (not really Toblerone brand but it looks just like those!) I'll take one chocolate mountain, please!

We happen to be out and about in the city during my favorite time of day. I love when the sun is setting and people are getting ready for their nightly adventures. I have loved this time since High School and I continue to find magic in this time- the twinkle of city lights, the last of the sun's beautiful colors, and the anticipation of what is to come. I'm happy for the time I got to spend with Tyson and Taryn. It was a perfect relaxed day that happened to end with a lot of time spent together as a family.