Archive for the ‘monthly musings’ Category

NaBloPoMo & NaNoWriMo–ciaooooooo!

And now, the end is here. And so I face the final curtain. My friend, I’ll say it clear. I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew [NaNo too?!]
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out [Take that Telecom!]
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it myyyyyyyy way!
Go ahead, give Old Blue Eyes a listen while you read the rest of this post.

So here we are at the end of a great, exciting month in the blogosphere. I survived NaBloPoMo, but came up a bit short on NaNoWriMo.

Thems the breaks.

The most important thing is that I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished, and I *really* am.

Thirty blog posts in thirty days is nothing to shake a stick at, as my grandmother would’ve said. And I’m proud of the content in each and every one of those posts to boot. I thank all of you for keeping up and commenting so fully and frequently; your continued support is appreciated more than you could ever know.

Now regarding NaNo, the novel that I’m working on requires a lot of research for one of the characters that I hadn’t done prior to November. Sure I could’ve cheated and continued working on a book that I already have nearly 50,000 words written for already (remember my manuscript counter in the sidebar?). But that wouldn’t have been very NaNo of me.

Instead, I wrote the half of the book that I was prepared to write going in, and I’m pretty happy with it. Indeed, I’m more inspired than ever to get into researching my other main character and get going on that part because I now see a wonderful novel coming out of these quickly thrown down words and ideas. There’s so much potential for growth there, and I wasn’t so sure of that before I began. So that’s been a nice surprise.

Even better? I’m also inspired to pick up that old manuscript and get working on it again. I may even join NaNoFiMo, National Novel Finishing Month to get working on those last 30,000 words or so on that book. Who knows? It’s all up to me, isn’t it?

But back to the blog. I do have some unfinished November business right now–my November Monthly Musing:

With each leaf that falls
We offer thanks for present,
past, and future life.

30 days of thanks
Today I’m thankful for:

Eden Marriott Kennedy, founder and organizer of NaBloPoMo. She started with a fabulous idea last year and has built an impressive community around it. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of (mostly thankless) work that is involved in keeping up with all of this, but I would like to give this special woman and blogger extraordinaire a pat on the back from southern Italy for all those hours of keeping us in line.

You’re a true blog heroine, Eden! Thank yeeeeew!

I’d also like to give a special thanks to BoogieMum who came up with the idea for 30 days of thanks. It’s been an amazing exercise in stopping and appreciating what’s important every day, and I will continue to do so in my own private journal.

P.S. Don’t forget that the Dolce Italiano Contest is over at Jenn’s The Leftover Queen today, where she’s made a decadent Chocolate Salami.


Past posts include:

Mosaic Biscotti, Sara’s Ms Adventures in Italy
Chocolate Kisses, Ilva’s Lucullian Delights
Ricotta Pound Cake, Here!
Chestnut Brownies, Shelley’s At Home in Rome

Remember, all you need to do is comment on any and all of the Dolce Italiano recipe posts to be entered into the drawing to win a personalized, signed copy of Gina DePalma’s fabulous new cookbook full of Italian sweets and treats, Dolce Italiano.

And, finally, buon weekend!

Phew. Breath.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Trick or Treat Tomato Eyeballs

What's Cooking WednesdayHappy Halloween!

Some of you have asked about what’s going on in Italy for this “holiday,” and I’m sorry to report: niente. That means nothing.

In some parts of the country, they are starting to get children involved with costumes and whatnot, but no one around here does any such thing.

This could be because I don’t have kids yet…because if you think my kids are going to miss out on trick-or-treating, well, you’ve underestimated me and my weakness for candy.

I’ll even have the good stuff shipped in from the US and distributed to the neighbors (for distribution to the children, of course, with other healthy treats encouraged too):

Halloween candy

Added bonus is that the kids around here most likely won’t have to cover up their awesome costumes with big ole coats like we always had to do where I grew up….

Anyway, back to the business at hand, I’m keeping up the Halloween theme for this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday and giving you a quick, fun idea for a holiday treat.

But there’s a catch–you have to go here to find the recipe for

Trick or Treat Tomato Eyeballs

Why not whip up a batch and then head over to Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun to celebrate?

Ghouls Just Wanna Have FunAlso, check out the true ghost stories over at Tui’s True Spooks Blog Carnival. Make sure you turn the light on first though! There’s some creepy stuff in there.

And, since it is the last day of October and I’ve yet to post my Monthly Musing, I’ll give you a little bit of why I love this wonderful month as we say good-bye for another year:

Sweet sweet October
Only a few words to say
How much I love you…

Sweaters, fireplace fires,
My birthday, delicious soups,
And this year, puppies!

What do you love about October?


september i hardly knew ye!

september aspen by william hookI completely forgot about my Monthly Musing this month! Why is that? Probably because I love, love, love September and was too busy enjoying it…and didn’t it just fly by?!

September is my second favorite month after October, my birth month (the 18th if you’re keeping track), which is really like September Plus in my mind–but more on that another time.

So to me September is:

Relief from heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and all the nasty stuff about summer
that makes me irritable just thinking about it…

Renewed energy and fresh starts–
this from years of the school year really starting to kick into gear…

Smells of wood burning, rainy mornings, and
actual hot meals coming off the stove and out of the oven…

A crispness in the air coupled with warm sunshine, and
never knowing exactly how to dress for the weather…

Longer walks with the dogs because I won’t be pouring in sweat and
dreading every successive step…

Shorter but not too-short days, which means more cuddle time
with P as well as with the pooches…

I always love the glorious ninth month, and this year was no different. Thanks for the memories, September! Loved it, loved it, loved it, and I can’t wait to greet October (doesn’t hurt that Season 3 of “Lost” starts here tomorrow–yeah!!!!).

Now tell me do–
what do *you* like about September?

P.S. Have you noticed that I’ve signed up for NaBloPoMo? If you’re a blogger and want to pledge to post something every day during the month of November and join a great community besides, go here.


[tags] september[/tags]

arrivederci august–and happy BlogDay 2007!

Again I’ve waited until the last possible day for my Monthly Musing. What can I say? I’m just not a summer person, especially when summer equals over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit for more than half the time.

Go ahead, smart aleck–ask me why I live in southern Italy. I know you want to. But that’s a post for another day.

The month of August gets a reprieve from my otherwise lukewarm (hah!) feelings, though, because as you’ve seen, it has given me two of the most precious people in the world to me, my niece and nephew.

My childhood best friend’s birthday was yesterday as well, and one of my best friends from college turned another year older on the 23rd–indeed, the last couple weeks of August are packed with celebrations of the birthdays of those I love…new friends included!

And then there’s a little matter of school starting up, which I always loved so much. Yeah, I was a geek like that.

In fact, starting Monday (a holiday to you in America, but not to me!) I’m starting my new regime of taking the next step in learning Italian. I have some grammar books, yes, but I also acquired a high school textbook (from two of the cutest 17-year-old boy twins you’ll ever see) on what I’d call “government and civil law” or something similar in America—I’m ready to learn about Italy’s governmental structure (sorry, I don’t get the Parliament thing) and what it considers basic human rights.

You know, all that knowledge you take for granted because you grew up with it *and* had to learn it in high school?

So I’m starting school with many of you, but before I hit the books, I have time for one more silly haiku (there’s always time for haiku, right?):

Heat, humidity,
Mosquitoes, sleeping is rough–
Sticky, sweaty, blech.

And now on to BlogDay 2007, a day on which all bloggers are encouraged to find and publicize five new blogs. I was tipped off about this by Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, and I thank her kindly.

Here are five great new-to-me blogs for your enjoyment:

(1) Vanielje Kitchen: I’ll let the author describe this blog–“The kitchens of my childhood reflected my heritage, loud, boisterous, always full, the air thick with laughter and spices, a simmering melting pot of cultures and influences, French, English, Dutch, Malay & African, and underpinning it all a deep reverence for family and food, and the smell of home: vanielje.” Great stuff.

(2) The Late Bloomer: An American living in France who calls her blog “The Late Bloomer” not only because she finds herself blossoming in new ways into her 30s but also because she started blogging late in the game–only a month after I did, though! Charming, witty, just fun to read.

(3) Charlotte’s Web: A South African mom, wife, writer, editor, reader, traveler, dreamer living in Germany. Makes you want to get all tangled up in Charlotte’s Web. *groan* But seriously, on my first visit, I spent quite a while looking through archives. A true pleasure.

(4) A Child of the Universe: Dana is a nutritionist and herbalist in California and often writes things that I wish I would’ve written myself. Seriously. She uses the words “wanderlust” and “vintage” in her profile and talks of her dream of having a farm/B & B in Italy and taking lots of wonderful photographs. Are you starting to realize why I like her so?

(5) Debbie Egizio: An artist and designer whose blog really is her playground (she even says so in the blog description); it’s so much fun to wander around there and see her creations–and I have my trusty bloggy-friend somepinkflowers to thank for leading me to Debbie’s place. Thanks somepinkflowers!

So what are your five? Come on, you know you want to play!

Happy Labor Day weekend to my American readers,
and arrivederci agosto!


[tags]BlogDay 2007, august, haiku[/tags]

july is burning

I’ve waited to write July’s Monthly Musing until the very end of the month–hoping that I would develop more positive feelings about it as July marched on.

Unfortunately with each passing day, more and more of our gorgeous rolling hills have gone from green and brown to charred black, and there’s not much positive I can take from that.

You may have read about the fires throughout central and southern Italy (as well as Greece), and believe me, the stories are not exaggerated.

Some say that many of the fires have been set deliberately but to be honest with you, I don’t really buy into that. Sure people burn off their land here all the time, but they’re pretty good about controlling it, and not many are doing it in 120°F–most of that was done in June when temps were reasonable.

They say the motive is to clear the way for new hotels, villas, and pastures
but from where I’m sitting, it’s just a whole lot of beautiful olive trees that have been taking the hit around here–and if any hotels or villas sprout up on the hillside, I’ll let you know.

I’m sure that there *are* some pyromaniacs around, but I personally feel that blaming arsonists for the rash of fires is just another way for the powers-that-be to shake their heads in derision toward central and especially southern Italy and to draw attention away from the fact that they haven’t been very successful in managing the fires.

But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, we have been lucky to escape any damage up until now, but the hill just across the road from us wasn’t so lucky; yesterday afternoon it went up in flames as I was down at the beach swimming near where a helicopter was dipping into the sea for water to take up there. A couple weeks ago, our neighboring village lost two houses, although no one was injured.

forest fire in santa caterina, calabria, southern italy

I posted here about the planes fighting the fires, but things have gotten so much worse since then. Tourists have been killed in Puglia and one of our pilots died in Abruzzo when his Canadair crashed into a mountain near L’Aquila.

Greece lost two of its own in a similar way.

And so I sit here on another scorcher, although it’s certainly cooler than it has been, waiting for the wind to pick up as it normally does at this time of day and then continues to increase until it reaches what feels like hurricane force.

And I’m sorry to say that I smell smoke.

Smoke, flames, blackened earth
July two-thousand seven
I’ll never forget.

forest fires in calabria, southern italy

On a different, more cheerful note, do check out my post entitled “What’s the Deal with Lycopene?: Health Benefits of Tomatoes” on

And let’s hope for a better August.


[tags]july, fires, forest fires, italy, southern italy, calabria, haiku[/tags]

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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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