Archive for September, 2008

If They’re Pleasures, They’re Never Guilty

happy day by kool skatkat

happy day by kool skatkat on Flickr

I read a great post at A Child of the Universe (now defunct) that I’d like to share. Dana wrote about an interview by designer Sohiny Das of New Delhi.

One question presented in the interview was:

Guilty pleasure?

Her answer:

No guilt in pleasures.

Tell me you don’t love that.

Why shouldn’t we accept, appreciate, and embrace every single thing that gives us pleasure?

Or as Dana so eloquently wrote, “There is absolutely no reason to feel guilt for things that make us happy or give us pleasure, with the caveat of course, that we receive pleasure from something that doesn’t hurt anyone else. Other than that, the sky’s the limit I think.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been surrounded by quite a bit of stress lately. Nothing horrible, but enough that my mind wanders from issue to issue even as I’m dozing off at night. So I think it’s time to remind myself of some not-so-guilty pleasures that really, truly make me happy in order to combat some of the negative energy I’m feeling around me.

And just in case you’re in the same frame of mind, I thought I’d share some of my pleasures to get you thinking about yours. A lot of my pleasures revolve around doing not much of anything at all, which may be just what I need to clear my head:

  • Sleeping in with P on a rainy weekend morning–when even the doggies don’t stir before we get up.
  • Lounging around in pajamas as I lazily make coffee and ease into the day.
  • Yoga on the balcony in the morning sunshine.
  • A morning in giro by myself, enjoying a cappuccino and a ciambella in my favorite bar with new magazines from the news stand to keep me company.
  • Long walks with the doggies into the mountains, watching them race each other, play, and chase anything that moves.
  • Sunday afternoons on the couch, under a blankie, with a mug of steaming tea and a stack of English-language magazines and/or a great book.
  • Marathons of any number of American series like The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, The Gilmore Girls.
  • Afternoons with P in the garden.
  • An entire morning reading my favorite blogs.
  • Treating myself to a fabulous bouquet of flowers, whether hand-picked or purchased.
  • A long bubble bath by candlelight followed by putting on clean, fleecy clothes (only in the colder months, of course).

What are your (not-so-guilty) pleasures?

5 ways to raise ovarian cancer awareness through jewelry

Our O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest ends tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop giving to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and raising awareness! If you have already donated and/or participated in the event, thank you kindly, but you still have until midnight tomorrow to be eligible for the contest. And now I have compiled other ways you give to research and raising awareness, and they involve lots o’ bling.

Ladies, I know many of you are always looking for new accessories, and guys–why not show the special ladies in your lives how much you love them and care about their health? The holiday season is creeping closer….

5 Ways to Raise Ovarian Cancer Awareness through Jewelry

1. L’Oréal Paris Color of Hope Jewelry Collection. L’Oréal Paris has become the largest corporate sponsor of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, largely through their special jewelry and cosmetic collections and Legends Gala Benefits. They have raised over $14 million toward ovarian cancer and research, and if you’re feeling in the mood for some Swarovsky, L’Oréal Paris Color of Hope is the way to go.

2. Angela Moore Ovarian Cancer Awareness Collection. For every purchase from Angela Moore’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Collection, 15% of proceeds go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. The lovely bracelet on the right costs $50.

3. Colleen Burg Custom Jewelry. “A turquoise barrel drops through this hand forged circle” by Berg, who donates 20% of all proceeds of pieces bought in September to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and throws in a free ovarian cancer symptom card with each order. Cost is $155.

4. Designing Diva’s Shining Light Pendant. The Designing Diva dedicates this pendant “as a ‘shining light’ of hope for all those who struggle” with ovarian cancer as well as family and friends who support them. Fifteen percent of proceeds on sales until December 31, 2008 will be donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Cost of the pendant is $42.

5. Shanrene, Inc.’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Wristbands. These wristbands are teal silicone with the words Faith, Hope, Courage, and Strength printed on them with awareness ribbons in between. For every wristband bracelet sold, Shanrene, Inc. donates $.25 to the The Lynne Cohen Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research. Wristbands cost a mere 99 cents a piece. Perfect for getting a bunch and passing them out to friends and family, no?

And one more fun girly way to raise awareness? Paint your toenails teal!

Teal is the official color for Ovarian Cancer Awareness, and even though September is ending, that’s no reason you can’t help raise awareness year-round by putting teal in your pedicure rotation.

Read more about and also get their suggestions for polish here.

Oh and lastly, check out Mom Central’s Contest for Kelly Ripa-designed Ovarian Cancer Awareness t-shirts as well as for more information on Electrolux‘s new Turquoise Sky washer and dryer, for which the company will be donating $200 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund for every pair purchased.

Now go forth, buy, and spread ovarian cancer awareness!

la buona cucina americana: insalata di patate della mamma

One of my favorite “Made by Mom” dishes is potato salad.

Indeed, I love all kinds of potato salad, including the one that Mary of The Flavors of Abruzzo posted two weeks ago. But my mom’s, well, it’s just my all-time favorite. It’s great for a summer picnic, but we also have it as a side dish for Thanksgiving, and even at Christmas and Easter time to go along with baked ham.

Needless to say, it’s a delicious taste of home, and it’s this week’s La Buona Cucina Americana recipe.

You see, when my mom was here over the summer, I specifically requested potato salad, but I didn’t realize at the time that it would be perfect for the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (potatO salad, get it?). So here it is.

By the way, remember to get in your recipes and entries for the O Foods Contest–details here!

Two notes on this potato salad: do play with the measurements until you get the exact taste you want. Also, onions go great in this, but be careful not to add too much as they will overpower the other flavors.

Mom’s Potato Salad

  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (distilled or cider)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Hard boil the eggs. Remove from water and set aside. When cool, peel and cut into cubes.

2. Boil potatoes in salted water until just tender. Remove from water and set aside. When cool, peel and cut into cubes.

3. Prepare celery.

4. In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise, vinegar, and mustard, and add potatoes, eggs, and celery. Mix well.

5. Taste for salt and pepper.

6. Put potato salad in the refrigerator to chill for about a half hour before serving.

Insalata di patate della Mamma

  • 3 patate medie
  • 2 uova bollite
  • 2 gambe di sedano tritate
  • 1 bicchiere di maionese
  • 1 cucchiaio di aceto di mele
  • 1 cucchiaino di zucchero
  • 1/4 cucchiaino di senape
  • sale e pepe qb

1. Fate bollire le uova, lasciatele raffreddare, sgusciatele e tagliatele a pezzi non troppo grande.

2. Fate bollire le patate in acqua salata (non devono essere troppo morbide), lasciatele raffreddare, sgusciatele e tagliatele a pezzi di circa 3 cm.

3. Tritate il sedano non troppo sottile.

4. Mettete le uova, le patate e il sedano in una ciotola e aggiungete il maionese, l’aceto, e il senape. Mescolate bene.

5. Aggiungete sale e pepe a piacere.

6.  Mettete l’insalata nel frigorifero per circa 30 minuti prima di servire.

Buon appetito e buon weekend!

Love Thursday: Love is in the Air

Everywhere you look around…

especially up.

Happy Love Thursday everyone!

Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia

Onion, Oregano & TimO Focaccia: O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

OK, raise your hand if you love focaccia! I do! I do!

I had never made it before, though, so I thought this What’s Cooking Wednesday would be a great time to learn, especially since I came across a recipe for Focaccia with Onions. In addition to the thyme (timo (TEE-moh) in Italian) that was listed in the ingredients, I threw in some oregano, because, you know O Foods and all.

What? You haven’t heard of the O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest? Check out the details here.

As you can see, my onions were super-cooked when all was said and done, but they’re still really tasty. Note: I used red onions, so they’re not *as* cooked as they may seem. Anyway, I think next time I’ll slice them just a little bit thicker and maybe adjust the cooking temp.

If you have any other suggestions on making focaccia, please do share. Overall, I have to say that this is a fabulous basic recipe from The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia published by Barnes & Noble (with my adjustments below).

Onion, Oregano & TimO Focaccia

For dough:

  • 2 1/2 tbsp fresh yeast or 1 package dry
  • 1 c warm water
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3- 3 1/2 c flour

For topping:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • Sprinklings of dried thyme and oregano
  • Coarse sea salt

1. Put yeast in warmed medium mixing bowl (swirl around some hot water and then dump it out to warm the bowl). Add warm water, stir in sugar, and mix with fork. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until the mixture starts to foam.

2. Mix in the salt and one cup of flour with a wooden spoon, then add in another cup of flour and mix until dough begins pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Sprinkle some flour on a flat work surface and knead the dough, adding the rest of the flour a little at a time. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth, and shape it into a ball.

4. Place dough in lightly oiled mixing bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let stand in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size. To test if the dough is ready, poke it with two fingers; if the indentations remain, it’s ready.

5. Preheat oven to 400°F.

6. Punch down the dough to release air and then knead for 3-4 minutes.

7. Brush a shallow cookie/baking sheet with one tablespoon of the oil.

8. Place the dough in the pan and spread it to the edges with your fingers. Leave this sit, covered with a towel, for a half hour.

9. In the meantime, heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan on low heat, add onions, and cook until tender.

10. Stir in thyme and oregano and remove from heat.

11. Remove towel from pan and make indentations in the dough with your fingers.

12. Brush oil from the onion mixture on the dough, then spread onions over top evenly. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.

13. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until just turning golden.

14. Cut into squares or wedges, and serve focaccia by itself, as a side dish, or even as the bread of a sandwich. It is best warm or at room temperature.

Buon appetito!

Don’t forget to submit your O Foods recipe by September 30
and/or donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund!

Also, Megan’s Expat Snapshot of Italy Contest is still going on until tomorrow night–just head over to Career By Choice and fill in the blank: You Know You’re in Italy When….

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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