A Mess of Squash


I don’t know why I  keep thinking and saying ‘mesh of squash’.  But I have managed to get a few from the plants that I am growing. 



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Along with a lot of tomatoes.  But as proud as I was of mine they were nothing compared to what Tania and Keith shared with me. 

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They had missed picking a few.  All together this was more than 5 pounds of yellow squash.  The smaller ones, along with a few from my garden became

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this big pan full of sautéed squash and onions  that we ate for lunch 2 days along with some fried chicken. (There were sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob, cucumbers and sweet tea too.  I can pull out the ‘Southern’ gene when I need to)  There was enough sautéed squash leftover to freeze, so that in some awful month, like January, we can enjoy it again. 

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On another day, using the three big squash, I grated the necks and made 1 batch of squash fritters (it’s that Southern thing again) and then froze the rest.  Glad I have a cast iron skillet.


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I added some squash blossoms in the batter to further ‘squash’ it up. 

Some of the  remaining big bodies were cut up, blanched and frozen for winter soups.  Four of the bodies were made in to ‘boats’ and stuffed with meatloaf, then frozen.   So from Tania and Keith’s generous gift we got a lot of meals.  Hmmmm, nothin’ like a mess of yellaw squash!





It is a play on the name of the Italian holiday in August, Ferragosto, (a religious holiday that has to do with the Assumption.  Look it up online if you want to know what it is), America and hamburger.  Billing itself as a unique hamburger festival in the American style, we decided to get a big group together and go over to Castiglion Fiorentino and see what it was all about. 

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And it really was just hamburgers.  This plate was 15 Euros for a hamburger, good French Fries, a glass of beer and a chocolate muffin.  There were variations on hamburgers and a vegetarian ‘burger’ option.  That was it.  Limited menu, everything as a meal, nothing a la carte except beverages and other deserts. 

We  were a big group.  Filling a large square table in a wonderful park just outside the walls of the city.

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Ben was there next to me.

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Gian Carlo, Grace and George.

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Grace, Jules, George, Margaret and Howard.  Notice the squash.  That yellow squash really gets around huh?

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Margaret, Howard and Richard with Tania and Keith’s guests beside Richard. 

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John, Keith and Tania.  John and Richard were kind enough to drive so that I could enjoy more than one beer.  It was a fun evening. 

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And I was finally able to get the picture that I have been trying to get for years… the setting sun turns the stones of this bell tower a beautiful rosy color.   Yes, that is what we are doing here in Tuscany. 


Summer, 2014


As we roll into Labor Day weekend in the US I thought I would write a little bit about the weather here in Italy this summer.  We have actually had rain.  About every 10 days or so.  And not just a few drops or a quick shower, actual puddle making rain.  In the past I have seen summers with 60 to 70 days of no rain.  Instead of the usual ‘Tuscan Gold’ that this place normally is, it is green.  (Where do you think paint makers get the names for these colors?  The over whelming impression of this place in summer normally, really is, gold and dried up dirt, terra cotta colored)   Grass is still growing.  I am so glad that I don’t have to cut grass anymore because it just did not stop growing this year.    

And the temperature has been cooler.  All the windows in our apartment have interior shutters.  I keep them and the windows shut all day long.  Somewhere between 7 and 8 in the evening (depends on the clouds and how far the sun has set) I start opening windows and shutters and turn on the ceiling fans.  (smartest thing we have done all year, buying and putting ceiling fans in every room).  That brings the cooler air in.   At night when we go to sleep I turn off the fans and close every window in the place except the two in the bedroom and that fan.  Some nights it has even been so cool that we have closed one of the windows or turned off the ceiling fan in that room.  Yes, it’s cool.  (I think the highest daytime temp around here has been about 90 degrees and many nights in the mid-50s.)   Then somewhere between 7 and 8 in the morning when the sun rises over the roof of the garage I stick my foot out from under the covers and give the shutter a whack so that it swings shut and blocks the sun.  And we start the whole thing all over again.  Trapping our nice cool air inside; moving it around during the day with the ceiling fans if we need to.  I am sure that it helps that we don’t put a lot of humidity into the house during the day by running the dishwasher, washing machine or taking showers.  I don’t turn on the oven,  Inside, neither one of us does anything too strenuous so that we are breaking a sweat.   So all and all it has been a pleasant summer.  But,  I have to qualify this by writing that we are on the ground floor of a free standing house in the country.  That means we have windows on all 4 sides.  Folks in the city or even in a village where the houses share a common wall so that there are only windows on two sides are probably much hotter.  And even last year when we were upstairs we were much hotter just being close to that clay roof baking in the sun.  I never understood why the woman who lived down here always had the place shut up tight.  Now I know why.  It really is much cooler with the windows shut during the day. 


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And you can see, I manage to combine two very American activities, tailgating and grilling.  I use the back of the car as my work area while grilling.  That way if I need to walk away, I can pull the back down and keep out inquisitive chickens and cats.  Plus there is a handy shelf for my glass of wine.   Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday. 


99 is a Good Reason to Celebrate


In early August, we were at the house of our friends, Grace and Gian Carlo, to celebrate her Mother’s 99th birthday. 


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Grace and GC pulled out all the stops for the event, with over 40 folks attending.  Not only was there a DJ but…

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our friend, George was there to sing and play.

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Here is the birthday girl surrounded by her extended family.

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And here she is looking forward to another happy year.  We are all glad that she has joined us here in Italy.  Can’t wait to see what Grace and GC will do next year.

Let’s see how this looks


Well it seems that the version of  MS Live Writer that I am using will support the new theme that I have picked out….

This is a test run


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Here is Ben’s daughter and grand daughter on the first day of school in New Orleans last week.


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Ohhh look how big I can make the pics


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And I can do a little rotating too.


Can I change fonts too?


I guess we will see….

Okay, I have tinkered with adding/deleting  a few links in the sidebar and cleaning it up a bit.  I don’t like the spacing at the top in the header but I think I have taxed my poor laptop enough for the day so this is all the changes I will make for now.


Let me know what you think.


A Flurry of Posts

I use a software program called Windows Live Writer to write my posts on my computer at my leisure, inserting pictures from my computer into the post and then when I am ready publishing it to my blog.  I usually write several at a time, maintaining a backlog.   That is why many times, posts are published weeks after something happens. 


There are other ways to do this same thing.   Many folks sit down each day, go online to their blog, write a post, hit the button and publish it.  I don’t like that way, because I have to write when I feel like writing, not every day, certainly not at the same time each day…horrors!  I also don’t like the whole process of storing my photos online and grabbing them from somewhere to insert in a post.  I guess the years of having a poor internet connection shaped the way I like to do things. 


My laptop is 7 years old now.  It is slow and cranky.  Yesterday and today I have worked on deleting as much as I can.  I backed it up.  I defragmented my disk.  And finally I have gained a bit of space on my hard drive which really helps it move a  little faster.  All this is in preparation for making a change to my blog.  Sometime in the last few weeks I published my 1500th post.  Whoooo hooo! This fall,  I will have been writing this blog for 6 years.  It has pretty much looked the same the entire time.  In those six years smart phones and tablets came along.  With the template that I use my blog doesn’t always look the best on a small screen.  So I felt like it was time to make a change to the  template or look of the blog.  I am not entirely sure that Windows Live Writer will be compatible with the new template that I have chosen.  Ergo the flurry of posts.  I wanted to publish my backlog, change my template and start fresh with the new look.  So now, my laptop is speedy fast (HA!); the backlog is published below; I will make the change to the new template; write about what we have been doing and premier my ‘new look’.    I have no time line for this.  It could be easy or frustratingly maddening.  But most things with WordPress (the service I use to publish my blog) are fairly easy.  So I am optimistic. 


And now, you, have something to look forward to. 

Italian Wedding

The property that we live on has a large villa in addition to the houses where us peasants live.  From time to time the grounds of the villa are rented out for special occasions.   A few weekends ago there was a wedding. 


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Here are the tables and chairs in front of the villa, just before the event began.


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It looks like a gelato cart doesn’t it?  But it is really the seating chart.  Each table is named for a gelato and each gelato sign has the names of the folks who are supposed to be sitting there.  I don’t know if they really served gelato or not…  Clever idea isn’t it?

Making Lamps

I had been watching these lanterns at OBI (home improvement store) waiting for them to go on sale.  Finally, they were reduced to 5 Euros each, down from 15 each,  so I snapped up 4 of them.


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With Richard’s help and 10 Euros worth of bits, we made them into lamps for the kitchen.  The kitchen has one overhead light that is part of the ceiling fan.  (the under counter lights that are part of the fancy range hood don’t work.  If they did, the light that came out from them wasn’t at all useful, shining on the ridged counter top of the sink, so any pots or pans that were lying there  could read a magazine while drying.)


So here are 2 of them.


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See it in the upper right.  It will shine on the counters below that I use every day.


And this one


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which can move from here to


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to here to



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here.  So now I will have enough light to wash dishes at night.  What a concept!  


The third one is sitting on a shelf by the fridge to brighten up that corner.  The fourth one did not get wired so it can remain as a candle fixture where ever we need it. 


I have not used these three yet because it stays light so late here in the summer.  But it will be one of those good things that I am happy to have next winter.  Maybe if the pots and pans are nice I’ll leave the light over here so that they  can continue to read while drying.  (tee hee)


Thanks Richard for helping me.

Thinking of my cousins

My Uncle John and Aunt Theresa opened a sub/pizza shop, Voltacos, in Ocean City, NJ in the early 1950s.   My brother and I were the two cousins who did not grow up in Ocean City.  Most of  the rest of the cousins had a turn working  at Voltacos in the summer.  My brother and I only got to visit and enjoy a sub every year or two.   My brother and I really miss those subs.  So much so that when we both had money and I would visit Ocean City, he would pay for me to send him subs by overnight delivery service.  I still miss those subs.


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Some of you might remember this picture of me on the Queen Mary 2 as we came across with a Voltacos sub. 


Well every summer, when good tomatoes arrive, I make subs.


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While it is easy to get the cold cuts and cheese I have to bring a jar of chopped hot peppers from the US.  I am not saying that a sandwich like this doesn’t exist anywhere in Italy but…. I’ve never seen one. 


So I enjoyed my sub, thought of my cousins.  Thought of them all working hard this summer.  And wish that one day they can all manage a visit.

Ready for my close up

This post is nothing but close up shots of flowers from my garden.   I like the play of light, I like the colors, I like capturing summer just for a second.



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