more random stuff about me


So we’re halfway through NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo. How are you feeling kids?

I figure it’s about time to dig into those questions I asked you for a while back.

To recap, I was first tagged by amazing artist Robyn of Have Dogs, Will Travel to write seven random facts about me. Then I was tagged two more times, first by Italianissima of Always Italianissima and then by Tui of Mental Mosaic for more random facts.

And even though I wasn’t technically tagged, I’ll also accept the kind NaBloPoMo invitation from BipolarLawyerCook as well.

I’m responding to your questions in the order they were received with the exception of those from Sara of Moving Right Along who wants my favorite Italian cookie recipe and Robin of My Melange (did you see I won her book contest?!) who asked about whether I’m legal in Italy (short answer: yes) and how I got to be that way (longer answer needed). Both will get their own posts at some point.

Try to sleep at night anyway.

(1) Giulia of From Head to Boot asked what I used to think about future children and whether that has changed.

As far back as I can remember, I always thought three was a good number, and I still do, and, interestingly, so does P. I was never hung up on whether they be boys or girls, though, and I’m still not.

Of course the older you get, the more you realize that these things are pretty much out of your control, so I’m just hoping for a healthy baby or babies in whatever number we’re supposed to have.

Truth be told, though, I’d *really* love at least one little girl; my relationship with my mom is one of the most precious things I have in my life, and I’d love the opportunity to recreate that with a daughter.

(2) Shelley of At Home in Rome asked me what is the most expensive thing I’ve ever splurged on.

I’m not really a big spender generally so, other than book shopping sprees (and there have been more than a few of those), the most expensive thing I’ve ever splurged on was my first trip to Italy in the summer of 2002, and it was very much an impulse decision.

I was surfing the Internet one night looking for information on my ancestors’ village, not a thought in my head of a visit, and I happened to come across a tour that was heading precisely here. Coincidence? I don’t believe in them.

I had my flight booked within a few hours and the rest, as they say, is history.

(3) Dee of Mundane Profound Musings asked if I could be president of one country for 100 days, which country would it be and what would I do?

I’d pick to lead the US because of the issues I’d like to address–getting out of Iraq and providing universal health care. Those are the big two, and probably all I could reasonably focus on with just a hundred days, but I wouldn’t mind trying to do something to increase the value of the dollar as well as pass some environmentally-friendly legislation.

Of course I’d also love to do something about immigration laws in Italy, but I only get to pick one country.

(4) Alyndabear asked about the best thing about living in Italy.

Other than P and my doggies, I’d have to say that the best thing, for me, about living in Italy is the overall peaceful feeling I have being here. Maybe that’s cheesy, but honestly, I’m just happy, and that’s definitely the best thing about living here.

The cappuccino ain’t bad either.

(5) Karen of Artsortments asked how often I get back to the States to visit.

Unfortunately I don’t think the term “how often” really applies as I haven’t been back since June of 2004. I’m hoping to get back there sooner or later, but this euro/dollar thing isn’t making matters any easier. On the bright side, most of my family is discussing plans to come here next summer!

(6) Karen also asked whether I’ve seen any Mafia activity lately.

I hear and see nothing, cara mia.

(7) Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita wrote “Yes, how do Italian women stay thin in Italy with all the great food? What is a normal day of eating and or exercise like in Italy?”

I’m sorry to report that I know of no magic information explaining why many Italian women are slim; personally I think a lot of them just have high metabolisms because some of them can eat and eat and eat and still be really thin (those women reportedly exist everywhere).

But actually a lot of Italian women *aren’t* slim as percentages of overweight and obese people are climbing up and up. And unfortunately some of the slim women I know really don’t eat very much at all and/or smoke. But I’m guessing this isn’t what you want in the form of diet and exercise advice.

It’s really different for everyone, though, so it’s not easy to say *this* is what they do–except that I can tell you how I lost weight (somewhere around 30 pounds) while here and how, I imagine, many Italian women keep themselves in shape.

I eat less junk food, processed foods, sugar, red meat, and butter. I eat more fruits, vegetables, and beans and use *a lot* more olive oil. Chicken and rabbit are our go-to meats.

I don’t think that generally Italians get a lot of exercise unless they’re walking around cities a lot. Although many young people I know go to the gym, from what I see many Italians like to drive rather than walk from Point A to Point B. But a lot of the older women still do a lot of manual labor, so that’s their exercise.

Me? I don’t drive, so I do a lot of walking, especially with the dogs. And I also do yoga.

I guess it’s cliché but the best I can tell you is to eat less of the bad stuff, more of the good stuff, and move more, which, in general, is what a lot of Italians seem to do (except for the moving part as described above).

And there we have seven random things about me, sort of.

I still have more questions to answer, but if you have anything you’d like to know, ask me in the comments!

30 days of thanks

Today I’m thankful for:


Sunny, windy days like today so I can finally hang out some clothes and actually have them be dried by the end of the day.

If you’ve been reading my blog or just about any blog by an expat in Italy, you know that clothes dryers are quite rare around here (I’m very jealous of MB of The Flavors of Abruzzo right now!). This means that during the colder months, we end up with wet, musty-smelling clothes a lot of the time as they have to dry inside on racks–which takes at least two days when it’s damp outside.

I will eventually get a dryer, I’m sure, but for now, I cherish these glorious windy days and then go crazy doing laundry. You can see the roughness of the sea a bit here:

La tramontana, Calabria, Italy
La tramontana is the name of the wind that gives us these great clothes-drying days; it also usually means that any rain clouds pass over us quickly without dropping anything.

Sure it puts a bit of a chill in the air too, but I’ll take it for the sake of our clothes…not to mention that it also gives us an excuse to start up a fire in the fireplace.

And I love a fire in the fireplace.


[tags] memes, wind, tramontana, southern italy[/tags]

33 Beans of Wisdom to “more random stuff about me”
  1. Giulia

    Thanks for answering my question! I come from a family of three. Growing up, my Mom always used to say to me that having three children is the way to go because if you are in a fight with one, you have the other one as company. Of course, I always used to roll my eyes at her because I could never figure whether she was being silly or serious. lol

    Yes, when it comes down to it, being blessed with a healthy baby takes priority over their sex. I’m glad that you and P are on the same page when it comes to how many you both would like. It’s got to be hard when one wants 3 and the other wants…like…TEN!

    Growing up, I never had a close relationship with my mother. I now have two girls of my own and I make sure every day that that bond is there.

    Great answers to the rest of the questions too! Looking forward to reading the rest.

    P.S. It is windy here today too, but I chose to put my rack of clothes inside… in front of my pellet stove! It’s the closest thing to a dryer that I have. lol

  2. Romerican

    Ooooh, ooooh Mr. Kotter!!!
    I have a question:
    I can’t help but wonder- what do the local townspeople and P’s parents think about you and him shacking up even though you’re not married?
    For those of us in big cities like Rome, it’s no big deal but I have relatives in small southern towns (Campania) and they are SUPER strict about things like this. You know what I mean? Everybody knows everybody else’s business and the “brutta figura” is a very big concern.

  3. Fango

    Cheers to the overall peaceful feeling. Heck, if you’re feeling the cheese, spread it.
    I say never get a drier – stay off the grid as much as possible!
    Thank you for the continued sweet writing.
    Oh, and a good question from Romerican well framed.

  4. BipolarLawyerCook

    I love that there is a special name for that particular type of wine.

  5. Poppy Fields

    That wind has the same name in France…and I saw on the French news about how some town in northern Italy is paying it’s residents to lose weight. Proof I guess, that Italians gain, too.

  6. sognatrice

    *Giulia, you’re mom does seem to have a very good, logical point there. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    From everything I know about you, it seems like you and your daughters have so much fun and love between you–you are all so lucky, and I’m sure you know that 🙂

    And yes, thank goodness P doesn’t want even 7 like the family he grew up in….

    Hope you’re clothes are dry by now!

    *Romerican, excellent domanda. Stay tuned for the response 🙂

    *Fango, yeah, I’m torn over the grid thing, but I also really don’t want to spend 6 months of the year surrounding by racks of smelly clothes–not too bad now with only two of us, but if a baby ever gets involved….

    *BLC, I know you’re referring to the “wind” although I did have a moment of “Wine? Did I write about wine?” Now I know where your mind is 😉

    Anyway, yes, the Italians (and the French from what I’ve heard) are very serious about their winds. They know their names, where they come from, and generally what happens when they arrive. It’s serious business.

    *Meredith, I see wind is important in France too, and yes, I saw that news tidbit too; here’s more info for those who are interested:

    Italian town to pay residents to shed flab

    A community affair indeed!

  7. Ryan

    not to brag but I AM happy to announce that I do have a dryer!!! And I am sooo grateful!!

  8. sognatrice

    Ryan, you’re quite lucky indeed 🙂

  9. Karina

    I loved your answer to number 4…that peaceful happy feeling is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? And I too have a very close relationship with my mom, so I absolutely get why you’d love to have a daughter…it would be nice to have that kind of relationship with a daughter…it is one of a kind, no doubt!

    OH, and by the way, I totally stopped at the grocery store yesterday and picked up chestnuts. They cost me a small fortune, but boy were they worth it when I was eating them last night (and totally burning my fingers because I refused to wait for them to cool down).

  10. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    I understand what you mean about answer number four.

    I am also from a family of three kids (I have a younger brother and sister) and I love it. Not sure my brother as the middle child thought it was so great but we are all very close now.

    I noticed when I’m in Italy the weight drops off effortlessly. I don’t go to a gym while I’m there. I agree with you the smaller portions and less processed foods is key.

    I just saw on the news that in the US most supermarkets/vendors put CO2 in meat so it can keep it’s pinkish/red color longer. This is outlawed in Europe. Congress might make the companies but labels on the meat. This is why I should start buying meat from a butcher. Also 80% of fish sold in America is imported. That is not good.

  11. cheeky

    I don’t believe in coincidence either and funny thing, I also have this *thing* about three but share the same sentiment as you.
    The thought of your family visiting next summer is wonderful.

  12. Maddy

    Well now is the ideal time to visit. We’ll be crucified when we visit the other way around at Christmas.

  13. sognatrice

    *Karina, so happy you found chestnuts! As I recall, price was a big reason we didn’t have them very often either.

    *NYC, more support for the “3” theory!

    I’ve always lost weight when I visited Italy even for 10 days–quite amazing really.

    The CO2 in meat thing is really freaky! Yes–get thee to a butcher!!!

    *Cheeky, thanks for the support as always 🙂

    *Maddy, sorry, I’m not following–if you’re talking about the euro/dollar exchange it kills me all the time!

    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  14. qualcosa di bello

    we just had one of those perfect wind/low humidity days here by the sea & D. had an extra birthday surprise of bed sheets fresh off the wash line…a rare commodity in these parts. now we are hunkering down after days in the 70’s…today is rainy, very windy & getting cold…so i’m with you on the fire for tonight!

  15. Sara

    I can’t remember whether I already told you this. If I am repeating myself, sorry, but you know my sister just in the last year dropped 30 or 40 lbs., finally, kind of all at once after many years of exercising and counting carbs, etc., etc., etc. — and she still does all that for her general health, but that isn’t how she lost the weight. All she did was cut absolutely every processed food out of her diet ruthlessly. If it isn’t cooked from scratch by her or made to order from scratch by someone else specifically for her, she won’t put it in her mouth. Nothing out of a box or package unless it’s a raw ingredient, nothing.

    The change in her body has been dramatic. She’s 54, and suddenly she looks like has the same body she had in her 20s.

    I wish I had her discipline.

  16. Jen of A2eatwrite

    Interesting post! Enjoy your laundry window.

  17. jennifer

    I remember those great laundry days. I used to change all the sheets even if they didn’t need it for fear of what was to come!
    I loved reading that…

  18. ViVi

    I’m happy to report that I have a dryer too – in fact, my hubby had it before I moved here! They are just as rare in France as they are in Italy, so I am doubly grateful!

    I do have a request for a recipe, if it’s not too much trouble! My father used to make a wonderful cannelloni recipe with a meat filling, but I’m afraid it went to the grave with him (unlike his ragu sauce, which we make every once in a while!). You don’t happen to have one? I know this is one of those meals that you don’t make everyday (way too time consuming and not the healthiest of meals) but with winter coming on, I’ve practically got a craving for it! 🙂

  19. sognatrice

    *Qualcosa, fire’s on here! And rabbit will soon be going on top of it 😉

    *Sara, I think you may have written that before, but it’s always good to remind people just how bad for you processed foods can be. I don’t think I could go without anything pre-packaged forever (an easy meal once in a while is so, so lovely), but it’s definitely worth the effort to try.

    Kudos to your sister! I wish I had her discipline too.

    *Jen, it was a lovely laundry window…hoping for another tomorrow and I’ll be all caught up!

    *Jennifer, hah! I’ve done that too! Glad you can enjoy from afar 🙂

    *Vivi, congratulations! Who would’ve ever thought we’d get so excited over dryers?

    Cannelloni recipe with meat. Hmm. I’ve never made them with meat inside (only ricotta and spinach), BUT I can recommend using the meatball mixture from my Wedding Soup recipe:

    Italian Wedding Soup

    I don’t know if that’s heavier or just really different than what you were looking for though? I can promise it’s a tasty filling–my grandmother also used to use it in peppers 🙂

  20. Wanderlust Scarlett

    Dang! I got here too late! HA, I was going to tag you with it too.
    Oh well.

    Love your question and answer style, they are good things.

    And I really love that picture.
    You’re killing me here, you know.
    I am aching for the sea.

    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

  21. Eryn

    hey i have a question! how many people around live in your village, also is it a community where everybody knows everybody and are all into eachother’s business?


  22. jientje

    That wouldn’t be Mistral in France, by any chance? You can dry your clothes in that one too, I’m sure!

  23. Jeni

    Just wanted to tell you that smoking apparently doesn’t help ward off weight gain – a lie I heard 40 plus years ago and bought into it too. I am living proof it is not a dietary aid in any way, shape or form and I won’t delve into how many pounds I really NEED to lose to prove the falsity of that claim!

  24. cheeky

    *Also wanted to add that I, too, have always dreamed of having a relationship with a daughter, as I have a wonderful relationship with my mother.

  25. cheeky

    *Also wanted to add that I, too, have always desired to have a daughter as I have a wonderful relationship with my mother also. It is a truly special one.

  26. Sparky Duck

    me? I am feeling the pressure of Nablopomo

  27. MB

    That was a great picture. Those windy cool autumn days are my favorites – the sky is always so blue! Even though I have my dryer now, as you mentioned, I still hang my laundry out whenever I can (have to keep that electric bill down), but it sure is nice on days like today when it’s cold and drizzly and there’s no way anything could possibly dry.

  28. sognatrice

    *Scarlett, the sea is for you! Enjoy 🙂

    *Eryn, great question; I’ll add it to the list 🙂

    *Jientje, Meredith above said there’s also a tramontana in France, and according to this page, the tramontana is actually a type of mistral wind. Lots of great wind info there indeed!

    *Cheeky, I think you’d be a wonderful mommy to a daughter 🙂

    *Sparky, you? Feel the pressure? I don’t buy it….

    *MB, you’re absolutely right–even after I get a dryer (see the positivity in that statement?) I’ll still appreciate the sunny, windy days for drying outside. Hope we get enough of them this winter to keep your bill down!

  29. Leanne

    I like when you say you feel calmer in Italy. I feel like that too – just like you are where you are meant to be (ok so I am currently in Portugal but that is not the point!)

  30. sognatrice

    Leanne, but you’ll be back in Italy soon enough…and peaceful 🙂

  31. ViVi

    Actually that may work – I remember the meat filling being a combination of beef and pork (veal was sort of hard to get in Florida, or just that my parents didn’t use it for whatever reason) and the rest was just a mystery. I may try that, thanks!

  32. Maryann@FindingLaDolceVita

    Hi Sognatrice! I have been loving all the posts you are writing these days. It seems you are able to put out great quality despite the quantity, which means you have quite a talent 🙂 Thank you for answering my question. I usually roast the chestnuts in the oven, but a few days ago I though why not throw them outside in the fire. Then I read about this on your blog. The universe is in sync and everything is ok. haha

  33. sognatrice

    *Vivi, I hope it works out for you!

    *Maryann, thanks so much for your kind words; they mean a lot. And I hope you’re enjoying *lots* of chestnuts no matter how they’re made 😉

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake