Wednesday, October 30, 2013

PICKLES! - round 2

I bought two cucumbers and made another batch of pickles. I really enjoyed the first batch... but did make a couple adjustments this time around.

...Hoping it's alright that I kept and used the same 'juice' ...figure it should be fine. I added more garlic. I also added some salt, having read that this is a common ingredient when making your own pickles. The other adjustment was that I actually have chili peppers this time (instead of dried ones in a spice container).

Now... to wait a week before they truly become "Grandpa's Pickles"! Mmmmmmmm...

bats in the library

...not real bats  : P

During the first half of 2007 I was substituting around Rochester, New York (in Penfield, Webster, and East Rochester). I subbed in all different classes and subjects... while subbing for a librarian one day, I did a lesson that I loved and have saved.

I recently used the basis of the lesson with 3rd graders... we read a non-fiction book about bats and shared some fun bat facts with each other. Then we read a fiction story about bats (Stellaluna) and discussed how it is different from the non-fiction books... yet we did still learn some things about bats.

Next class, we talked about facts versus opinions... and then the students blindly chose a slip of paper that had either a bat fact or a sentence that was an opinion about bats...

They cut the outline of a bat out of black construction paper, wrote their name in chalk on one side, glued their bat fact/opinion onto the other side, wrote an O for opinion or F for fact... all the while making sure that everything could be read when the bat was hanging upside down by its feet (since that was a fact that we learned!).

Below are a few pictures showing our bats hanging in the entrance to the library from the elementary wing. These are two out of three classes... the third was added after... (I love them!).

The 3rd graders seemed to enjoy it... although I think I should move it to 2nd grade for next year because I think it would be more relevant in their curriculum.

It's been fun to hear students of all grades comment on the bats when they walk into the library!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

fall trees outside the library

The library at school is located in the middle of the school (between the elementary school and the upper school)... and directly above the cafeteria. While sitting at lunch, I noticed how gorgeous the line of trees out front is right now... each a different color... later in the afternoon I went out from the library to take a photo!

homemade hummus

Continuing my weekend cooking adventures of trying new recipes and making things homemade that I would normally buy.

This weekend's challenge: HUMMUS   : )

I used a can of garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, salt, extra virgin olive oil, aaaand I found a jar of tahini at a small grocery store in the city! There's a teacher at school that makes her own hummus each week for lunches and she pointed me in the right direction for the tahini sauce.

OH! I also then added a 'roasted' pepper. I'm not sure that I really roasted it though... all I did was cut it into pieces, put it in a pan with a bit of oil, and heat it on the stovetop. Next time I'll look into that more...

Tahini is the ingredient I've been missing to try this recipe. It's the first time I've used tahini... and really all it is, is sesame seeds made into paste.

The hummus turned out alright. My mixer is not great... nor is it big! So the hummus is not very smooth... and I had to try mixing it half at a time and then switch. It tastes really good... but needs some work. I'll have to play with the recipe. I also want to buy and use paprika and/or cumin next time. These were in the recipe that I went off of, but I didn't have either spice, so just left them out.

I'm in love with... my shower curtain!

I splurged and bought a gorgeous shower curtain. I'm basically in love with it. The one thing I would change if I could, however, is the length. I wish it were a bit longer. BUT... nothing's perfect. This is close to perfect in my mind though  : P

My mom even went to buy this for me in the States (I was unable to get the online purchase to work here from Italy)... and then mailed it to me! She's a superstar. Truly.

I know it's a silly thing to get so excited over... but my little apartment is cozy... and this curtain adds so much to it. As soon as you walk into the apartment, you have a direct view into the bathroom - to the tub - down the little hallway... and, well, sometimes it's the little things, right?!

FAVORITES from Alba, Italy

Random favorites from my day in Alba, Italy.

cheese and truffles - Alba, Italy

I met up with my friend, Robert, for lunch in Alba... he had finished inside the tent for the truffle festival and I was just getting back from a walk. Robert has worked at ASM for about 10 years now! He is the one whose house I went to a few weeks back and there was a little jam session in the living room.   : )  Him and his wife also had me and a couple other new teachers over for dinner last weekend... and it was seriously one of my favorite meals since being here.

Robert and I went down a side street or two and came upon a little restaurant. It was really nice!

We shared a cheese plate and pasta with white truffle. Both were delicious!

After lunch and a bit more walking around, it was time to head back to the bus for the ride home to Milan. The trip each way was between 1.5 and 2 hours. Not bad! I finished my book during the ride.  : )

Some of the scenery during the ride:

a walk among the trees - Alba, Italy

While others were at the truffle festival, I had a nice time walking through the town of Alba and then found a sign for a walking / biking path... the path was among the trees and parts overlooked the hills in the distance with homes on them. Very pretty and peaceful.

It was the perfect time of year to go on such a walk! The temperature was great and the leaves on the trees are gorgeous colors...

Monday, October 28, 2013

walking through Alba, Italy

Most everyone went to the truffle festival's tent... you paid a bit to get in and were given a couple tickets for glasses of wine. There were cases of truffles... as well as small meals with truffles available to buy.

I skipped the actual festival and enjoyed a leisurely walk through the town instead...

I loved this church. I like how the brick is exposed on the outside and left raw... yet there was still details made into the styling with the same bricks.
A sign in front of the church said that construction began in 1700.

Alba's main square

Alba is a cute little town and I really enjoyed walking around the cobblestoned streets. Below are some views of the church in the main square, as well as the main square itself.

There was a busy market in the morning when we first arrived. It closed up early afternoon... the market was in the main square (shown below), as well as along two of the major streets. It made for crowded sidewalks... 

The back of the church in the main square.

A nice view of the main square in Alba...

See the lady peeking out of the window next to the balcony?! Haha... cute.

looking like tourists in Alba, Italy

...Well, I suppose we WERE tourists in Alba! (The last couple photos below show that we played the part successfully...)

Leaving my apartment in the morning was... FOGGY!

I have read and heard a lot about Milan's fog... and Opera's fog is supposed to be even worse. The picture below is the view across the street from my apartment... but this isn't as bad as it's sad to get. I don't hate it (yet)... so far I find the fog very interesting... and, thankfully, the day cleared up and was beautiful in Alba!

First arriving in Alba for the Truffle Festival, I walked into town with Danielle, Sean, and Robert... we found a tourist office and were able to get a map to take a quick look... and then we were on our way! The town is actually pretty small and very walkable, which was really nice.

Looking like tourists   : )

Friday, October 25, 2013

going to Alba's Truffle Festival

School and its Orientation Committee for new teachers is pretty awesome... they have set up for us to take a day-trip to Alba... a town a couple hours from Milan. Alba is supposed to be famous for its white truffle... and, of course, its wine. Each year there is a truffle festival in Alba... and it's going on now!

Rather than for the actual truffle festival, I'm excited to go and see another area of Italy. It will be nice to have a mini trip.

Below are some Google Map screenshots of where Alba is in reference to Milan and some other places...

The red marker is Milan.
The yellow marker is Alba.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My [new!] Little Ponies

When I was little (very little!)... I guess my brothers and I were told to each clean up our rooms.

When we didn't get to the cleaning soon enough, we were then told that our rooms needed to be cleaned up by a certain time...

...and if they were not clean by that time... my mom and dad would clean them (clean them OUT) for us!

I know it doesn't sound like me... BUUUUT... I guess I didn't clean up my room by that time!

The part I remember about that day the most is: when my mom and dad cleaned out my room... they got rid of all of my My Little Ponies.

: (  Super-Sad-Face.

I don't remember fully... but I do surely hope that I learned my lesson from that incident! I was crushed.

Similar to this incident... is the Bunny Story... if you know my dad or have heard some of his stories (he is my favorite storyteller of all time!)... then perhaps you have heard this true story about my favorite stuffed bunny when I was little (very little!).

I won't write about the Bunny Story here... but let's just say that it taught me a lesson... a harsh lesson... kind of like the disappearance of my My Little Ponies. (And I still think the Bunny Story was created over an accident on my part... buuuut maybe that's just my memory, right Dad?!)

Overall - and the reason for this post - I guess my dad has felt badly about getting rid of my My Little Ponies and about the Bunny Story... I'm ok with all of it... but I do love what he did for me recently and it surely made me laugh -->

Having a Skype date with my parents... THIS is what I saw when the call first picked up:

Hahahaha... those are screenshots of the beginning of our Skype date. This is the first time I haven't seen my dad upside-down while Skyping! (That's our usual Skyping pose with each other, haha.)

My parents stopped by a neighbor's yard sale... and my dad bought these for me! Hahahaha... Oh my. I love it. He's going to bring them to Italy when they come in December... and I plan to put them in the library for the kids to have fun with.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

and of course...

...some recent photos of the sky lately... I figure I should post these while I still can! We turn the clocks back this coming Saturday night... and then it will get darker even earlier... I think I'll be riding my bicycle home after dark every night! (Good thing I packed my frog lights.)   : )

One of my favorites... and a soccer game was being played on the field...

My ride home from school last Friday night...
...It didn't turn out so well... but in real life, the moon looked HUGE and ORANGE!