Girl’s night is a necessity when you need to blow off some steam. Little girls are just as good as big ones when you need to put aside stress — which usually is a result of the men in your life — and have a little fun. After the worst trip I’ve ever had to my family’s native Ischia (lots of drama and work and little time for rest), I was itching for a girl’s night. And my nieces — Francesca, Laura, and Giulia — were up for an old-fashioned pajama party. (To see photos from our slumber party, visit the Girl’s Night 2010 photo album.) We pigged out on pizza and chips, did each other’s hair and nails, poked fun (just see the hair-do’s above), and we even slept a bit. In the morning, I made a big American breakfast, with eggs Benedict, pancakes, ricotta pancakes, and even pancetta (instead of bacon) on the menu. In the end, I had a lovely pedicure, soft hands, and a little less stress than before. Grazie mille a Francesca, Laura, e Giulia!
Italians like to eat. But few of the ones I know in Ischia, a small island off the coast of Naples that is home to my husband and my ancestors, are adventurous when it comes to food. I’ve had them try Chinese food; most of them hated it. I’ve had them try Mexican; most of them complain it’s just too spicy. I’ve had them try sushi; most of them find it disgusting (I’m actually not a big fan myself, so I can’t gripe much about that one). My in-laws and my husband, however, are willing to try my American fare — and a few of the desserts they rather like. In the past, apple pie and chocolate chip muffins have been big winners with them.
This year, I decided to bring a Duncan Heinz lemon cupcake mix (from a box, which is sacrilege among southern Italians, who cook and bake everything from scratch). Well, my niece and I made the cupcakes and handed them over. After one bite, we earned a standing ovation for the cupcake’s moistness and the flavorful lemony zing. Friends, who visited the house, tasted the cupcakes and said they tasted better than some other Italian treats on hand. All the while, these gourmet Italians, who believe in only homemade goodness, had no idea what they were eating came out of a box, and I just had my niece add eggs, oil, and water and mix. Who knew entertaining could be so easy? Gotta love it!
When I was in Italy for five months in 2009, my nieces spent a lot of time in my room with me. We made cards and pictures, played Sorry, baked muffins, and played with my computer. One of our favorite things to do was use the iPhotoBooth on my MacBook to create wacky photos like the one above that has Laura and Giulia looking as though they’re fresh out of a comic strip in the Sunday newspaper.
Lately, I’ve been on a photo kick. I put some new pictures around my house, and I’ve been carefully storing all my images (even the ones my friends and family send to me) in iPhoto. As the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com, I’ve been inviting people to share stories and photos from their wedding, honeymoon, home, and personal blogs. I’ve even asked them to share their baby stories and photos with readers. A few people have done just that.
There’s something magical about seeing people’s photos. After all, they are sharing an important and beautiful memory — one of the reasons we enjoy living — with all the world. A special photo is inspiring and even motivational. Indeed, just looking at Laura and Giulia above makes me want to laugh more. Feel free to share your photos with my About.com readers and continue to inspire pure and lovely emotions.
A fine mist of pink food coloring spray is all around me, and I just scraped the last of the vomit green icing off my plastic dining room table cover. That’s how I know Easter is upon us. Every year, we invite over the gang of kids in my family for an Easter bash that defeats all others. We decorate cookies, dye eggs, hunt for plastic eggs filled with treasure, and get downright giddy. This year, we all wore bunny ears and never stopped hoppin’. You can join in the fun by visiting the “Easter Bash 2010” photo album.
It was the first Easter party that I hosted without my mom (who is still in Florida and still awaiting the arrival of her first granddaughter there). Mamma’s cookies (she usually makes them from scratch, while I used a tube of sugar cookie dough) were missed, as was her smile. But I think we pulled off a good time nonetheless. No one seemed to eat much (or I cooked too much, depends on who you talk to), and my husband got the adults started with cocktails and finished with Bailey’s and ice cream, so it definitely was a partttttaayyy.
My cousin Fran and my hubby Antonio graciously cleaned and put all the food away while I helped the kids with their projects and snapped photos of them. Miesha graciously cleared the kid’s table between projects, so they could get down to business with a clean slate. I can’t thank everyone enough for coming. I really needed a little break from the everyday and a little fun with the gang.