Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Sudden Loss in Cabin Pressure...

While flying Alitalia to Rome last week, I received the most enjoyable safety briefing ever! Why, you ask? Because the male flight attendent giving the briefing had a sexy Italian accent...What is it about spoken Italian that is so sexy? I love it! Everything Italians say seems so passionate! Even when they are speaking English it sounds good! Here was my favorite part of the briefing...I will try to type it in Italian dialect...I hope you get the point...Best if read outloud. ;-)
Ifa we experience a suddena loss of cabina pressure, a maska willa dropa from the ceiling. (Wait for it) Pulla the maska to your moutha and breathe deeply...Okay, he really said, "breathe normally," but I was breathing deeply. I practically had to fan myself ...Pull the mask to your mouth??? Who says that? An Italian man mindful of Italians sex symbol status around the world who is willing to make female passengers swoon in order to keep the legend alive...Hasta luego or should I say "Arrivederci!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday #38


Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve With the Pope...

"Think of it as a pilgrimage." That's what Sister Christina Marie said to us when we picked up our tickets from Pontifical North American College for Christmas Eve Mass at St Peter's...She suggested we show up four hours before the 10pm service and get in line to ensure we would get seats. We promised Eight that we would spend Christmas in Rome this year since he made his First Holy Communion in June. We wanted to attend midnight mass at the Vatican, so I emailed the US Bishop's office back in October to request tickets for the mass. First, you must request tickets, then you have to show up the morning of the 22nd to pick them up...first come, first servve...I tried to pin down Sister Regina Marie on just what our chances were to actually get tickets...She wrote that we would just have to leave it in the "hands of God," to which I replied, "Amen, Sister!" I can't tell you how much I enjoyed being able to write that to a real Sister! Well, by the grace of God, we were able to pick up tickets. The college received even less than they were expecting and were out of tickets by 9am. It rained ALL day, so we chilled out in the hotel, keeping an eye out for crowds on the live webcam in St Peter's Square. We left the hotel around 5:15pm and took a taxi straight to St Peter's for our three hour wait in the rain. We made friends in line, which helped pass the time until they started security screening and we made our way into the Basilica. The boys tried to stay out of the rain as much as possbile, and were pretty patient, all things considered...
Once we made it passed security, we hurried inside to try to get the best seats possible. It was hard to know just where to sit, but decided to grab seats over by the nativity scene. We based our choice on 23 year old intell, but thanks to the long standing traditions of the Catholic Church, it worked out in our favor. Back in '87, my husband and his family attended Midnight Mass at the Vatican and by sheer coincidence ended up standing next to the Nativity where Pope John Paul II walked right next to them to place the Baby Jesus in the manger at the end of the service.
Once inside and seated, we still had over an hour to wait. We amused ourselves by perusing the 70 page program, seeing if we could identify all the different languages printed therein. Then we talked to some nuns-in-training from the States who were seated behind us. Finally, we heard music start to play and Eight realized it was coming from behind us, way up high. St Peter's Basilica is deceptively large. According to our tour guide, the Statue of Liberty could fit inside the dome and still have room to spare. Look at the two photos below to get a feel for the proportion. See the little specks in the center window in the first picture? Those are musicians!! You can see it a little better when I zoomed in for the second pic...The place is just huge...They even have stadium style lighting... Here is is the Nativity to our left...
Here's Pope Benedict coming in...of course, we cannot see him since we are on the other side by the Nativity...
A look up towards the alter...we didn't notice how far back we were until the Pope sat down...we knew it was him, but were too far back to make out any facial features...
Towards the end of the two hour and 15 minute service, (I know, it was long, but we were on a pilgrimage, so...) the Pope, the cardinals and the Swiss guard made their way down the aisle and around to the manger. We had sent the kids over to the partition next to the Nativity to stand between some monks and our newly befriended nuns-in-training. They had the camera...they were ready. These next shots were taken by our oldest. They were thrilled to be so close to the action, and got some pretty good pictures considering members of the entourage kept scooting in front of their lens. The good news was that no one broke through the crowd this year, which was of great news to the Pope, but it did make it hard to get a good shot...
The boys were really excited about the whole experience and know that it was really a special event to to spend Christmas Eve at the Vatican. We opened presents before we left for Rome on the 21st, so on Christmas Eve, we could really focus on the reason for the season. We will remember this event with great fondness always...Afterwards, we strolled out into St Peter's Square, and found a taxi to take us back to the hotel. It took us a little while to wind down after we got back to the room. We skyped MeMe and Papa and sent them some pictures, then went to bed...It was a very Merry Christmas...Hasta luego...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Win Rick Steves' European Christmas DVD

I received two, so now I'm passing one on to you!!!! You have two days to make yourself eligible by following my blog on google or facebook. Don't forget to tell your friends that they can win cool stuff by simply by following my blog! This is a last minute surprise giveaway! We will have at least one giveaway a month beginning in January! Good luck! Here's what's on the DVD...

Join Rick on a celebration of European Christmas traditions and music throughout England, Norway, France, Germany, Italy and the Swiss Alps. Extra features include choir performances, Pope John Paul II's Last Christmas Midnight Mass, Chistkind interview with Rick Steves, Italian Manger Scenes, and a slide show...

Leave a comment, Follow my blog, & Tell your friends...Gracias & Hasta luego...

My Son, the Guestblogger, Sings a Spanish Christmas Carol...

video
My kids take Spanish every day in school, and this time of year, that means learning Spanish Christmas carols. Apparently, they have a way of getting stuck in your head. Eight came home singing this song around the house and just couldn't stop. I asked him if he'd mind me recording him and having him write about the song on my blog. He's been asking to have his own blog, so I thought I might be able to kill two birds with one stone...get a blog post for my blog and let him see what it's like to write one...Leave a comment and let him know what you think of his first effort...Here's what Eight had to say...

Campana Sobre Campana has a campana sobre campana y sobre campana tres [3 verses] but I did not want the camera to freeze on me [again] so I only did up to campana dos. P.S. Campana Sobre Campana is a espanol Christmas carol. It’s about the angels of Bethlehem ringing bells to alert people that Jesus was born. And the “veras al nino en la cuna” means look at the window and see the birth of Jesus. And the “donde vas pastorcillo voy a llevar al portal reyqueson , mantequa y vino” means where are you going shepherd and the shepherd says he’s going to see Jesus and he’s bringing gifts for Jesus which are cheese, butter and wine. [The perfect Spanish gifts for any occasion, I love it!]

Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa's Breaking & Entering in Spain...

Last year when Chritmas rolled around we started noticing lots of little Santas climbing rope ladders up into people's windows and balconies. I don't quite understand the three Santas, but that seems to be the popular choice... It made me think about all the traditions in different cultures and how Santa "breaks in" to your house...down the chimmney...through the keyhole...with magic keys...or, as in Spain, up the ladder...I always thought it was so magical when I was a kid and I thought Santa was a nice jolly guy. I was never afraid of him. It just never occurred to me...A grandpa in red suit who makes all your dreams come true??? What's not to like? But my youngest didn't quite see it that way. He liked the concept, but he thought it was a little creepy to have some strange man coming into your house...and if he could get in, who else could get in during the middle of the night? We assured him that it was only Christmas magic that allowed Santa to get into the house. That explanation...and the thought of presents seemed to make it all okay...I once heard about a tradition where you hang your stocking on the end of your bed and Santa comes in and fills it while you are sleeping...that would have driven my son over the edge, I think...Feliz Navidad and hasta luego...

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Is He Waiting For? 5 Great Giveaways in the Next 5 Months!!!

That's right...Sammy the Dog is waiting to see all the great giveaways we've got lined up for our followers over the next five months. I have been working with some great authors and companies to get some swag to giveaway to my followers. ALL FOLLOWERS WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR THESE GIVEAWAYS! So if you follow my blog through Google or Facebook, your name goes in the hat...so if you haven't been following, now is a great time to start. What are you waiting for? Click on that follow button...Stay tuned for details...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

18 Boxes and $283 in Postage Later...

...and all the Christmas presents are in the mail, except for the 12 calendars that shutterfly.com sent with the wrong carrier. 'Tis the season for mailing mishaps, I suppose. At least I made the mailing deadline with the bulk of the gifts, but barring a mailbox miracle, the calendars will have to go later,. Oh well, I'm not going to stress about it since there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. And what's a few more dollars in postage when you've already spent over $280. Now I just have to worry that all that beautiful Spanish pottery is going to arrive in tact! I'm saying a little prayer about that one. Now it's time to move on to the Christmas cards and letter...and the tree. Wish me luck...Hasta luego...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Taste of Spain Goodies! Here's What You Won, Jen! Thanks for Following!

As you may have seen on this blog, I held a "New Followers" Taste of Spain giveaway over on FB! Thanks to all those people who started Facebook following my blog and encouraged their friends to do so during the week-long membership drive. I will soon be holding a giveaway for ALL my following. Working on donations for that one of some cool Spanish stuff! Anyway, thought you might like to see what Jen is going to get. I hope these giveaways will encourage more people to begin following the blog.

On it's way to Jen...
-A Sangria pitcher for De La Cal Pottery in Puente de Arzobispo, Spain
-Unfiltered Spanish Olive Oil
-Sherry vinegar from Jerez in the South of Spain
-Glazes (Vinegar Reductions)-2 kinds of Sherry Vinegar (from Jerez and Pedro Jimenez)
-Spanish Olives
-Mediterranean Sea Salt
-Olive Oil Potato Chips
-Bimbo Toasts-great for cheese and ham
-Paella kit-rice and spices
-Saffron Filaments
-Spanish chocolate

I hope you enjoy it, Jen. Thanks for following my blog on Facebook and you'll be getting these goodies in the mail soon! Hasta luego...

When Tiff & I Open our Wine Shop in the Villages...

...Were are gonna serve this! We call it Pedro's Bufala Bruschetta! Tiff and I have a pact that if we ever end up as old widowed ladies we will move to the retirement community of The Villages near Orlando, Florida. We'll have to keep ourselves busy, so we figure we'd open up a shop featuring european food and wine and dance sevillanas for the people...hahaha...We figure if we get them liquored up, we'll get more applause. Look for an entry about our sevillanas dance class coming soon...But I digress...we'll have to have something to serve the people when they come in for tastings, and we thought this concoction would be perfect. Here's how we made it...


You'll need:
One loaf of chibatta bread, toasted under the broiler
A really tasty unfiltered extra virgin olive oil
Several turns of McCormicks Italian Seasoning grinder
2 vine ripened tomatoes, pureed
Fresh bufala mozzarella ball (from Naples, Italy-thanks, Tiff!), cubed
Fresh basil
Cebolla confitada (This new discovery was the inspiration for the dish. I bought it at a cafe here. It's onions, sugar, olive oil, and Pedro Ximenz sherry...if you are an onion lover, it is to die for!!)


How to put it together:
Layer accordingly...

Toasted bread, drizzled olive oil, italian seasoning, tomato puree, mozarella, basil, confitada...EAT!

We served it with a bubbly Spanish Rose from the Osborne Winery. If you decide to try this recipe or your own verrsion of it, leave us a comment and let us know what you think. Hasta luego...

Wordless Wednesday #35


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