Archive for the ‘puppy love’ Category

Heating a House in Italy: Meet Our New Stufa

Lest anyone try to convince you that Calabria has a tropical climate, let me assure you–it’s gets *cold* here in the winter, especially the further you go up into the mountains (duh). And I know Cherrye is with me on this.

Seriously, I’ve seen people on message boards claim the temps never fall into the 40s. Please. We have *skiing* here for goodness’ sake!

The temps may not always be low like what I was getting used to in Pennsylvania, but there’s usually a good bit of humidity in the air and once that enters these old stone walls, tile floors, and *your bones*, well, you get the point, right?

Central heating here is rare, and indeed, quite expensive as electricity costs are outrageous. People turn to various solutions for heat: gas stoves, pellet stoves, old-fashioned fireplaces, and my favorite, the wood-burning stove.

This is our first winter in this house, which used to have an old fireplace that did precisely nothing for heating the place (P grew up in the house); it was one of the first things we gutted, in fact. So we’ve been making do with small electric space heaters only when we *absolutely* needed them. Still, I’m not looking forward to my next electric bill.

Even then, wearing several layers of clothes inside the house was normal, and in fact, necessary. I know this may seem strange to those of you who walk around in t-shirts in your house when it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but trust me, that isn’t a common scene in Italy even *with* heat.

But then, just this past week, we joined the ranks of the “heated.” P had scouted out wood stoves while I was in America, and neither of us were thrilled with the selection or prices. So when I got back, I took to the Internet. We found something perfect, for a good price (including delivery), and it arrived within a week! I know!

P and his friend left the village in the morning to get the pipes and everything to go with it and had it installed within an hour.

Meet Sammy Stufa and her new best friend, Stella:

I seriously couldn’t love this thing more.

Not only does it heat up the entire top floor of the house, I can even melt my Nutella on top of it so it’s spreadable again! At some point, we’ll put ducts through the house to *really* circulate heat through the place, but as they say in Italy, pian piano….”

(Hey, don’t forget World Nutella Day is coming up!)

Buon weekend! Stay warm!

Coming Back Soon…

Are you getting ready for more Bleeding Espresso? I sure hope so, because I’ll be back very shortly with new posts, new contests, interviews, an exciting foodie event, and more!

Which, I suppose, means no more of this:

Stella sunning herself on Flickr

Oh well. Just to be clear, I will *not* be sorry to see August go. Stinking heat and a village full of tourists gets old pretty fast to this peace-and-quiet-loving gal.

In the meantime, since Bleeding Espresso will be going through some changes (including design!), please take a moment to let me know what you’d like to see more and less of here at the blog.

For those who have already done so via Twitter and Facebook, your input is *molto* appreciated! And to everyone else, please do add your two beans!

Stella: Colin Galbraith’s New Paranormal Mystery

Loyal readers may have seen “Stella” in the post title and thought of my adorable pooch:

Sleeping Stella on Flickr

But today we’re back to talking books, in particular, up and coming Scottish author Colin Galbraith‘s new paranormal mystery, Stella, available as both an e-book and paperback as of June 7th:

Stella by Colin Galbraith

And, since it’s been a while since we’ve had a contest, how’d you like to win your own copy?

Comment on this post by next Friday, July 3, 2009 by 11:59 p.m. (Italy time) to be eligible to win a copy of Stella. If you win, you can choose either the paperback or e-book version. Winner will be announced Sunday, July 5, 2009.

What’s Stella all about?

Randolph Lowe is a distinguished British Secret Agent in the twilight of his career. When he is handed a mission to kill one of the world’s least accessible, yet most wanted assassins, he never expected a beautiful young woman with the alias, STELLA.

Stella leads him around the world as she picks off her marks with ease, during which time Randolph grows infatuated and falls in love.

But Stella has her own dark secret. Forced into making a terrible sacrifice, she is destined to live her life as a lone killer.

The love of one man may be enough to free her, and only that man can save her now… but only if he can find her….


Mystery. Intrigue. International spy games. Paranormal. Love. What’s not to enjoy about this book?

I haven’t read it yet, but I will very soon. Sounds like a great summer read with a fast pace and lots of twists and turns. Plus I always enjoy the paranormal thrown in….

Perhaps you’re wondering about the author?

Colin GalbraithColin Galbraith is an author of published short stories, poems, articles and reviews, in both print and online publications. His novel, Hunting Jack, was serialised in 2004, and his chapbook, Fringe Fantastic: The Poet’s Experience of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was published by Smashing Press in December 2005 to critical acclaim. Poolside Poetry soon followed, published in March 2007.

Colin has also published three e-chapbooks: Brick by Brick (2005), Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 (2006), and Selektion (2007). He edited his first anthology, Full Circle, in 2007 and his hugely popular children’s poem, River Monkeys, appeared in the anthology, A Pocketful of Fun, published by Forward Press in 2006.

He is proud to be the Chief Editor and Publisher of The Ranfurly Review literary e-magazine, and an Associate Editor at The Scruffy Dog Review.

Colin lives in Edinburgh with his wife and daughter, two rabbits and a shoal of fish. He is a fully trained expert in the art of fake falling.


5 Questions with Colin Galbraith

1. What was the inspiration for Stella?

The idea for STELLA first came to me in 1988. I was listening to an album of the same name by Yello, and I developed a series of images to certain songs in my mind as I listened to the album. I always promised myself I would one day write these images down into a cohesive text, but it wasn’t until 2007 that I felt my writing had developed enough that I could give it a bash.

I began by writing down these images, and from that I used the music to further inspire the gaps in between. Slowly, a story began to unfold until I had a first draft. It took a lot more work to make it into what it is today and I’m delighted with how it turned out.

2. What research went into writing Stella?

Not as much as you might think. Most research concerned the locations in the book that I hadn’t been to, but which I wanted to appear in the book. It’s fast moving story and takes the reader all around the world, so while I could write vividly about Prague, Amsterdam and London, I knew little of San Francisco, Brooklyn NY and Fes, Morocco.

There was also a bit of research into demons and black roses, but mostly it’s all made up – the kind of writing I enjoy most.

3. Why write a paranormal mystery? You’ve never written in this genre before?

It wasn’t meant to be a paranormal book. My original idea was for the book to be a spy novella, something with its roots in the mysteries of underground eastern Europe. As the ideas began to develop on paper, though, the book began to take on its own form and it made sense for a paranormal aspect to come into it. I can’t honestly see it working without it now.

4. Will we see more of Stella and Randolph?

STELLA was originally meant as a personal writing experiment and I never meant, or expected it, to ever be published. However, now it has been, and having enjoyed working with Stella and Randolph so much, I want to do more with them.

Stella by Colin GalbraithBoth Stella and Randolph are such strong characters and there are so many questions I have now STELLA is behind me, that I want to find out more about them. And where the author has questions, so too I expect will the readers.

I’ve already begun work on the sequel and am planning on making their story into a trilogy. The book I am writing just now – the sequel to STELLA – is called BACCARA BURNING, which will take Randolph and Stella’s relationship to the extreme. It will be a real test of their love and trust, and through this we will get to know the real them. Both have lived dark and hidden lives, but in Baccara Burning the cloaks are gone and there is no hiding any longer.

The book starts in Sorrento, but ultimately I want to bring them to my home town of Edinburgh, throw in a local ghost legend or two and see what happens.

5. Tell us a bit about your writing process. Do you have a particular routine you follow?

My daily schedule is usually hampered by the inconvenience of a day job, which means I have to work around it. I get up around 5 am most days and write or take care of some editing while I have my breakfast. Then it’s off to the day job and if I can squeeze it in, take care of some admin or prepare emails I have to send out when I get back home during my lunch break. After work, family duties take over for a while before I’ll sit down and write into evening.

That’s the routine. My writing process, however, varies greatly depending what it is I’m writing. If it’s a newspaper review I’ll have the piece researched, drafted and submitted all within a few hours of getting the commission. This includes writing two drafts, one long and one short to make it easier for the editor, but also means a concentrated effort to get it out.

With fiction I try and get down an average of 2k per day, though it doesn’t always work out. When I’m writing a novel I’ll try and get those words down first thing in the morning, because I’m at my best at that time and I find it tees me up for the rest of the day. If I could write all day I would, and if I really had a choice in the matter I would probably write through the night, but we can’t have all it our way!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Colin; can’t wait to read your book!

Readers, remember to comment on this post for your chance to win a copy of Stella!

Living a Dog’s Life on Human Chairs

I don’t know what it is about human chairs, but my girls just love sitting in them– especially in the winter when I’ve warmed one up already.

This is Stella, caught keeping my seat warm:

Stella Bella on Flickr

Here the girls discuss whether House is devastatingly handsome, an arsehole, or perhaps both:

Dog Debate on Flickr

And this is just gratuitous Luna, because how cute is she?

Pensive Luna on Flickr

Do your furry friends keep your seats warm too?

The Logic of Italian Boys’ Names

For as long as I can remember, I gave my furry friends nicknames based on their real names.

  • My dog Maverick became Maverickaronyravydoodlenoodlebug, which then became Doodlebug or simply The Doodle.
  • My cat Kudzu became Kudzucchini (sometimes followed by Big Fat Weenie, but the poor thing doesn’t deserve to have *that* posted on the Internet).

Now I have Luna, aka Luna Balloona aka Luna Baboopa aka Boopers aka The Boop.

Stella? A similar pattern. Stella Bella aka Stella Bellamoopers aka The Moop.

So yes, I often call my girls, who are so *not* excited by the gorgeous view behind them and only want to be untied so they can run freeeeeee, (right to left),

The Moop and The Boop:

My girls unimpressed with the view on Flickr

Little did I know that this fascination with changing real names into something somehow related and yet not was actually in my blood.

You see, here in Calabria, most guys are named one of, oh, ten or so names. And yet they go by all different versions of those names, so for us non-natives, if someone is suddenly called by their real name, it can get confusing.

Here are, from my perspective:

    The Top 7 Most Common Male Names in Calabria
    and Some of Their Related Nicknames:

1. Antonio: Tonino, Toni, Totò, Nino, Antò
2. Domenico: Mimmo, Mico
3. Francesco: Checco (KEH-koh), Ciccio (CHEE-choh)
4. Giuseppe: Peppe, Pino, Pinuccio (pee-NEWCH-oh) (not Pinocchio!)
5. Pasquale: Pasqualino, Pascal, Pascala
6. Salvatore: Salvo, Turi
7. Vincenzo: Vincenzino, Cenzo (CHEN-zoh), Enzo, Cece (cheh-CHEH)

Note that although these names are spread throughout Italy, nicknames often differ by region, so do check with a local before trying to show off your nickname knowledge. And also note that this is completely separate from the sopranome system.

And in case you’re wondering about my P?

Well for his Paolo, he doesn’t like to be called anything but Paolo, but sometimes the older generations call him “Paolino” or, *very* local to us as it’s only used in this town, maybe one or two others, Paolehru (powl-EHR-oo). How cute is that?

Do you do nicknames?

Buon weekend!

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