Monday, November 29, 2010

I live in Italy, so what is there to complain about?

So this blog is for me to just complain about little petty things for a change. Because who doesn't need to vent over frustrations whether big or small, right? Of course, there are so many things I love about living in Italy, especially with the scenery, history and food most of all. =) But there are many, many things that I am still not use to... There's a list but I will focus on what that is driving me crazy at the current moment.

With winter weather well underway and nonstop rain for as long as I can remember, my clothes will not dry! It isn't common for Italians to have dryers because they are costly and electricity is even more crazy expensive when using them. At first, I really wanted to just be "the American who likes to spend money" and get one for my own sanity. I miss the smell of bounce and the warmth of the clothes straight out of the dryer. Like I said, petty little thing, but not even a factor in the U.S. because we are just use to having dryers. But, I am trying to do as the Italians do and if they can do this for their entire lives... then I really am being petty.

Here, I hang my clothes on my balcony. Yup! Just like you see in the movies... =) It is not just for show. In the summers, it's okay, because they dry like within 2 hours with the heat... but the winters are brutal. I can't put them outside if it's raining and the humidity here does not help it to dry any quicker. The other day I put our space heater under the rack of clothes in our home and they dried in about 5 hours... Not the most time efficient method. So, today it hasn't rained and it's windy! Perfect drying weather on a winter day! Thank you!

I apologize if this blog doesn't seem to be of much substance, but I hope all my fellow expats and anyone who doesn't have a dryer can relate to me and the frustration. =) Know that it's normal for even small things to get your spirits down, especially in a foreign country. We are always so comfortable with what we are use to and what is convenient and when something different comes your way, it kind of throws you off guard. The lesson here? Truly appreciate every little thing you have. =) But, also be open to change and adapting as I believe that adapting to you environment is a huge strength for anyone to have and shows that you are more open-minded.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good Samaritans: A Simple Act of Kindness

One of the things I love about Italians is that they are mostly friendly and are always there to help someone in need. I am proud to say that my husband is one of them and truly a good samaritan. There are times when he is driving in our town and would see a senior citizen walking and give them a ride home. Another time, there was one of his dad's friend at the bar who had a little too much to drink and accompanied him home. Then, one time in Siena, there was an awful motorcycle accident and he immediately pulled over and called the ambulance. This may seem like a common and obvious thing to do, but unfortunately, not in America or other parts of the world.

Sadly, the media and possible personal experiences have tainted the public into being cautious and weary of helping someone in need in the fear that it may be a trick. Someone might be crying for help, but in actuality, are luring you in to kidnap you as many chain e-mails have led us to believe. Don't do the heimlich on that person choking because what if you break his ribs and he ends up suing you even though you were trying to save his life. It is sad and it is the corrupt world we have created for ourselves. Why should we second-guess helping someone in need? Helping an old lady with her groceries should be a simple act of kindness rather than a chore or a hope to get a tip. Let alone having her fear you are going to run off with her bags. It is disheartening to see what has become of the world sometimes...

However, it is great to know that I still get to witness good deeds here in our little Italian town. Just yesterday, my husband and I were driving down a road that wasn't as busy and not lit. We saw someone with emergency lights on and another car who was barely sticking out of the bushes and had driven off the path into a ditch that hung off a steep hill. Without even a second thought, my husband pulled over, put on his emergency lights, and got out to see if they needed help. If you are familiar with Americans at all, you will know that the majority if not all cars would just slow down to look with curiosity and then speed off without even considering pulling over. Whether it might be because they are afraid it is a trap or just assume the victims have called for help, the fact is, most would not pull over.

After about 40 minutes, a friend with a tractor had arrived and my husband was able to help them tie their car to a rope connected to the tractor to safely pull it out of the ditch. We then accompanied the tractor back to their home since they had no lights and it would have been dangerous for them to drive back in the dark. In those 40 minutes while we waited for the tractor, I counted 7 cars that passed by and 6 out of those 7 cars stopped and asked if everyone was okay and if they needed help. The one car that didn't stop was a woman so needless to say, she probably assumed she would be of no help and there were already 6 men on the scene.

All in all, it is refreshing to know that all of society isn't corrupted but will it only get worse? Thank you to everyone who has taken the opportunity to help someone in need. Even if it was just picking up a pen someone dropped, a simple act of kindness goes a long way.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Comfort Food: Pasta e Fagioli

Everyone has their comfort foods that they eat for certain moods. I know I love a nice bowl of minestrone soup when I have the cold or a nice greasy burger and fries when I am hung-over. I have found my comfort food here in Italy that basically is... comforting. Pasta e Fagioli which is a pasta of your preference, normally with a mixed pasta or tagliatelle, and cannellini beans. Yummm.... seriously like the comfort of your mom's home on a plate. This is a staple in the Italian kitchen and really easy to make! So, if you ever feel like you want something warm and satisfying, and you don't want something out of a can or something that will take too long to make... try this. =)

Pasta e Fagioli

Servings: 2

1 clove of garlic
1 can of vegetable broth
200 grams of Mixed Pasta or Tagliatelle or Ditalini
1 can of Cannellini Beans
Chili Pepper Flakes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. In one pot, boil water for the pasta with a dash of salt.
2. In another small pot, add diced garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil and cook until the aroma of the garlic comes out.
3. Add the cannellini beans, vegetable broth, and oregano to the pan and cook on low heat.
4. Cook until the beans are cooked through and the pot is simmering.
5. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook.
6. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot.
7. Then add the pot of beans to the pasta and let it simmer for 1 minute to infuse the flavors.
8. Remove from heat, serve, and enjoy!

It's a simple plate but a very traditional one as well that just has the right flavors for me. You can also drizzle raw olive oil over it at the end for more taste. Another option instead of pasta is to serve it with some rustic bread. Che buono!

4-inch Boots and Cobblestones Do Not Go Together

You know, when you watch movies and see pictures, cobblestones truly have a romantic feel to them. I always thought that. They give a street more character and make them so much more enticing to walk on. I am grateful to have them everywhere and to be able to see them from my balcony but reality likes to smack me in the face again.

Yesterday, I excitedly put on my 4-inch boots and am ready to take them out on the town in beautiful boot season weather and the minute I step out the door, bam, I gracefully sprain my ankle on the cobblestone. Seriously? Ironically, I was more upset about scuffing up my boot than spraining my ankle. The ankle will heal but how am I suppose to touch up camel-colored boots???

Props to all the beautiful, sexy and skilled Italian women who manage to sport heels without being a clutz like me....sigh... This is the time you chime in with one of your clumsy mishaps to make me feel better. =)

P.S. I still heart high heels.... ;)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back to my so-called reality

Well, it's official, my vacanze is finally over. Finito. =( I had a great time back in LA spending it with my loved ones and soaking in everything I missed there. Call me a nerd, but every time before I go back to LA I make a list of all the things I need to buy to bring back and places to go and events going on that I want to check out. To my surprise my list was much shorter this time around. I think that is another indication that I am slowly weeding out the things that I just don't find necessary anymore and can live without like certain foods. Doesn't mean I don't miss them and still get my fix when back in the States, but it does show I am making further progress in adapting to my life in Italy and not focusing on the materialistic things.

Anyways, I have to tell you what one of the most biggest things I missed about being home that may come to a surprise to you. Well aside from driving my car on streets that everyone actually obeys the rules of the road.... Dressing HOWEVER the hell I want! LA is a trendy city but I have always loved the fact that everyone can sport their own styles and it is a presentation of individuality rather than frowned upon or gawked at. Sure there will always be trends and such, but I appreciate how there are so many different types of people and styles that rock the streets.

Here in Italy, not quite the same. You can basically sit at a bar and people watch and see every person walk by with the same designer names, colors and shoe styles. I am absolutely one for fashion and getting dolled up but some of my clothes that I would wear in LA isn't appropriate for here like ones with patterns, for example. And sometimes, I do want to just be in a hoodie, but that would be screaming American. Forget about all the hats I use to wear, that would just draw more attention on me that I don't want. =( I know I should wear what I like but I think I am being pulled in both ways. I will NOT change my style to fit in. But I will also tone it down as to avoid any further attention. =)

By the way, if you are interested in knowing what the Italians go crazy for? Besides the Italian designer labels, they are mostly American designers! Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi's, Timberland, DC Shoes, Nike, etc. Go figure! If you do make it out here, go into these stores and notice how they have a completely different line than what we have in the states... it's interesting to compare.

Back to what I was saying, I will be happy to report that I will not be sucked into one of their over-hyped and over-priced trends that I think are just plain ugly and unflattering... They are these Hogan shoes that have a little heel to give woman and men height and are suppose to be comfortable but I think they are just blah. I just don't get it... Sorry to any Hogan owners. I'm sure you look great in them but I will not be brain-washed and lose my personal style. =) I don't care what anyone says, I am content with the way I dress even if it isn't the way Italians dress... after all... I am not Italian and I think everyone's personal style is part of their identity. Never lose it, rock it! =)