How am I doing? Sew-sew…

Pair of palazzo pants that I’ve finally finished
Second of two shirts I’m making for Matthew

 I have been sewing like mad lately. I finally finished the pants pictured at left and I’m wearing them! They’re really comfortable and great for hot days when one’s legs are not ‘summer perfect’. Made in cotton sateen, they’re a cinch to iron after hanging up to dry.

I have almost finished the second of two white shirts I’ve been making for my husband this summer. I decided to do the pin-tucks by hand on the second one and then made the mistake of hand-sewing the top-stitching! Now I have done all of the top-stitching  by hand so that it has continuity but…whew it’s a lot of little stitches.

Detail of pin-tucks on shirt

 Meanwhile, I realized only this morning that the girl’s kindergarten had sent home a list of ‘stuff to get’ for the summer session, one of which was ‘uno zainetto’ (aka a little knapsack). I hated to spend yet another 10 euro on some made in china nylon thing that would fall apart after 30 days (or the zip wouldn’t work or, or, or…). So, I made this little knapsack from a dress that my mother had made for her when she was three. It was nice to re-use this fabric for Robin Kay because I have a hard time giving away things that my mother made for her and, darn it, she keeps getting bigger and growing out of them anyway!

Cute little knapsack I made for my daughter to carry her things to ‘summer school’

So sew…that’s been my pile of projects lately (now that it’s too hot for knitting).

Last taste of summer salad

  Here they are…the simplest of ingredients for a delicious ‘last taste of summer’ salad that has a fabulous combination of sweet-crunchy, and crumbly-salty:
to serve 2 for a light lunch or 4 for a side.

 ingredients:

  • one ‘pear williams’ they yellowish ones with red cheeks, not too soft
  • one small bulb of fennel, if you can’t find this I imagine that celeriac (celery root) would be a good replacement.
  • parmesan cheese (a chunk but nothing like as big as in the picture! maybe 1/3 cup)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • basalmic vinegar
  • salt and crushed corriander seed (or powder) to taste

Okay, now slice the stuff and (gently) mix it up! It’s that easy. I use my mandolin slicer and it takes about 5 minutes but you can use a regular knife and cut it into medium or large dice and it’s good like that too. Then spoon two ‘salad’ spoons of olive oil over the salad and then fill the third spoon and rest it on top of the salad. Into this full spoon, drop 4-6 drops of basalmic vinegar into the oil, sprinkle it with  salt and coriander, mix inside the spoon with the a fork and finish dressing the salad.
Voila!

The last weekend of summer…

Mamma and Papa got a little something at the MIPAM too…3 cheeses,
2 kinds of salami and the bumpy thing in the back which is an amazingly sweet pumpkin!
Robin want’s to be a statuette of a ballerina on the mantle

Beautiful, tiny ferns grow in every crevice….

the postman lets Robin do some work sticking stamps to letters

Every so often Matthew does take a break from work.

Robin on her second annual horseback ride at the MIPAM in Laveno

Our little cowgirl ;).

We all pat baby pigs (they’re soooo cute!)

Cat makeup (her first face-painting experience) and a helium baloon

MEOWMEOWMEOW! >.<.

Got hot?

It finally got to 95 degrees today! I’m sure that doesn’t sound like much to my Texas friends and family (yes, Dallasites, I know, 105/105/105/105….all week long) but, I have no AC. Not because it’s busted but because there is none. Still, it feels good to close the thick wooden shutters in the house, feel the still air and the stickiness of my skin.
The southern wall of the house is soaking up the heat, in preparation for winter. Sometime in January it will all have leached out and the cold seeped in, weaseled through the brick, mortar, and plaster so that I can feel the winter pushing in the house and the little wood-stove pushing back.

For now I’m enjoying the brief summer here in Northern Italy, especially the light….

More views from a rainy garden…

Lemon Thyme, Dwarf Marigolds, Basil

First let me say that I am from Texas, July is supposed to be hot. The warmest it’s been here since the summer started is the upper 80’s. I miss my summer, the one where you start to bead up in sweat when sitting outside in the shade.
My Texas friends and family are all suffering in the rainless heat of their summer…the grass always looks greener/more parched on the other side of the Atlantic.
I will say that despite the chill and damp of the weather, there’s been just enough sun to keep the garden happy and interesting. I suppose I should just put on another sweater and be happy with what I have.

My coriander (cilantro) went quickly to seed.
Don’t know what the flower
spike is?
perhaps ‘Catalognia’?
Another mystery plant, I like the way
the leaves look like a swirling
tutu.

Greater Celendine

Has an orange sap that an Italian friend explained could
cure warts and it’s true. Apparently it’s also used as a dye.

I’m not surprised! I quickly found that this orange sap WILL stain clothes a DARK olive
green. You can also use it as ink and it gets
darker in the sun rather than fading!

New adventures in pesto…something summery

Sundried Tomato, Lemon Zest, Mint, Walnuts

There is a lot of fresh mint growing in the garden this year and the basil is a bit thin…we figured out what to do; this is the stuff! Matthew has been bugging me for about a week now to try a pesto of Sundried tomatoes, Lemon Zest and Mint. Little Robin is not so crazy about things with lemon peel (though she is happy to lick sliced lemons), so, we decided to try it today at lunch while she is enjoying her last few days of school food.

2 abundant servings or 4 side servings :

For the pesto:
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in olive oil
2 Tbs. fresh mint
Grated Zest of one small lemon (appx. 1 scant lightly packed Tbs.)
Scant 1/4 cup walnuts, pecans or pinenuts (pinoli)
Extra Virgin olive oil

To make pasta salad:
160 grams – about 1/3 lb ( of pasta, cooked in boiling, salted water then drained and well-rinsed in cool water and drained again)
1/2 cup of whole milk ricotta, crumbled (use low-fat if you want but it’s just not the same!)

To make the pesto, put all the stuff in a pile (see picture), mince fine with a mezzaluna or chef’s knife. Take roughly chopped stuff and run through a small food-processor (or use an immersion blender) with additional olive oil (up to 1/2 cup but start with less – maybe a few tablespoons) turn it into a paste with the consistency of well…pesto ;)!

Place cooled pasta in a large bowl and coat with pesto. Add crumbled ricotta and stir in gently.

It should look something like this and taste wonderful!

Suggested wine: Oriveto classico (chilled) or light Beaujolais (chilled).

Happy eating!