Monthly Archives: February 2013

An Idea Worth Spreading: Take a Look at What’s Outside

Last week, I livened up chore time by popping in my head phones and listening to some TEDTalks.  If you’ve never heard a TEDTalk, they are speeches and performances given by experts in a wide range of fields, with the common thread of the talks being “ideas worth sharing”.  The speeches are delivered live at TED conferences throughout the world and the best are published on and are available for free download through iTunes Podcasts.  Some of my favorite talks of all time are The hidden power of smilingYour elusive creative genius, and The power of introverts.

One of the talks I listened to last week struck a cord with me.  The speech was given by polar explorer Ben Saunders and was about why people should still explore the world even though, today, we can find almost anything we want to know about the world on our computers, Continue reading


Living in Bologna, Italy: Meeting People & Finding Friends

A question we get often from family and friends back home in the States is “Do you have any friends?”  And we are happy to say that we do!  Bologna is a good-size city with a population of about 380,000.  Many Italians come here from all over Italy to study at the University of Bologna and many remain after graduation to find work.  Foreigners come to Bologna for undergraduate study abroad programs, graduate work, Fulbright scholarships, and the like.  There’s a John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) based in Bologna, which has a class of about 200 International students every year. Continue reading

Food for Thought: Tradition versus Progress

Cappellacci di Zucca di Ferrara

Cappellacci di Zucca di Ferrara

Is tradition an obstacle to progress?

The topic came up over aperitivo with friends last week.  While this question can be applied to almost anything humans do, we were talking about food.  (Surprise, surprise!  People talking about food in Italy).

Food in Italy is deeply rooted in history: this is something you always hear but somehow don’t begin to grasp until you visit a small Italian town where families have been making the same dish for centuries.  Last weekend, we visited nearby Ferrara and ate the signature Ferrarese pumpkin-filled pasta, Cappellacci di Zucca, a dish that appears in a cookbook from 1584.  That’s 430 years ago! Continue reading

Eating Locally: Farmers’ Markets & Buying Groups in Bologna


After my latest WWOOF farm-stay, where I saw where my food came from firsthand, I returned to Bologna with a renewed ambition to eat local, organic foods on a regular basis. These foods use less pesticides — keeping our soil and bodies healthy — and they taste better too. (I’m extra motivated by the latter point).  It also feels good to know where the food on your table comes from and to meet the farmers who grew it.

After doing some research, it’s clear that if eating local is your thing, Bologna is a great place to be.  Bologna is teeming with initiatives that advocate for small, quality producers. Continue reading

Food Obsessed: WWOOFing in Sicily at Casa delle Acque


I wasn’t always food obsessed.

As a workaholic adolescent and young adult, I didn’t think much about food on a daily basis.  In fact, I generally found eating to be a nuisance that interrupted my study, work, or extra curricular activities.  Convenience was the name of the game.  I loved smoothies and power bars and would down them while walking to class or driving between meetings.  I even daydreamed of food pills you could take to meet all of your daily nutritional needs.

At some point over the last four years, things changed. Continue reading

Untraditionally Christmas: House Sitting in Tuscany

Christmas is typically full of tradition.

Between our two families, we usually have no less than three Christmas mornings.  With Luke’s fam, there’s the white elefant book exchange and Cheesy Christmas Movie Night with brandy slush.  At my house, there’s my Mom’s lasagna with hard boiled eggs and miniature meatballs (like her grandmother used to make) and Bernie Creedens (Ritz cracker Fluffernutter cookie sandwiches dipped in chocolate and topped with peanut M&Ms).  There’s Christmas Eve mass, stockings, egg nog, sitting by the fire, the Holiday Who game in which we place grapes under our upper lips to look like Dr. Seuss Whos and then try to hold a conversation without laughing and spitting the grapes across the table.  There’s the New Year’s Eve prank (which shall remain classified) and lots and lots of story telling. Continue reading