Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fresh fish

The first thing we did was head straight for the seafood display.

The 5 year old does it out of pure instinct. No one has ever told him that in Sicily this is how you begin your seafood feast, by selecting the still moving shrimps, scampi, lobsters, fish, or squid you would like to have cooked up special for your lunch.

No, the boy wouldn't dream of eating the animals. He is more interested in identifying which creatures he knows by name. Which ones are the biggest. Which he hasn't fished yet and which  he hopes to catch someday. He wants to feel the creatures with his pokey little fingers and he has been known to sneak in a poke or two at the eyes, a pinch of the fin, an opening and closing of the claws. I half-heartedly remind him we cannot touch the fish. You see, even though it's not polite, part of me loves that he is so un-squimish, curious, tactile. He wants to know by experience. I want him to get away with it if he can.

Living by the sea means not only do you get to eat deliciously fresh seafood, but that your child's natural fascination for all living creatures will have a laboratory on hand to spark his imagination in the most mundane, yet unexpected moments. 

Sewing kit 2

These plain cardboard cases are the perfect canvas for a personalized sewing kit. I hope this special 6 year old will enjoy this little box as much as I enjoyed making it. I hand painted and stenciled the box with acrylics. Sealed the paint with two coats of Modge Podge. Made a cardboard tray with ribbon handles to fit into the box. Underneath the tray are different felts and fabrics. The goodies taken from my own stash and supplemented by the local art store: embroidery thread, scissors, tapestry needle, pins, felted beads, buttons, ribbon, pompoms, yarn, sequins. I wonder what those little hands will create?

Monday, December 17, 2012


It's still fun to make paper snowflakes even when the sun is shining and you're running around in short sleeves. We made them from coffee filters, a borrowed idea, but added our own glittery touches. They glint in the sun. Remind us its almost winter even though we usually forget. Little 5 year old hands are good at making simple ones. Mamma hands just wanted to keep on cutting. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday spirit

We've been feeling the holiday spirit a bit more than usual this year.

You see, we are an a nonreligious (interfaith) family. The Christmas half of the family (hubby) never cared one way or another about a Christmas tree let alone Christmas, so we contented ourselves celebrating it at my sister in law's house if we happened to be in Italy over Christmas.

Usually, however, we are in the US with my family who celebrates Hannukah, so we have contented ourselves with lighting the menorah and eating latkaes with them if our visit happened to coincide with the Jewish holiday.

Either way, our son got a few gifts, a couple from us, a few from family members and ta da, the holiday season was over, no big deal.

A few weeks ago, we got inspired to be a bit more festive than usual when my husband came inside the house with a very large branch that had fallen from one of our pine trees after a big wind storm, proclaiming it our Christmas tree. The boy was full of excitement over this tree-branch (I have to say it is pretty cool) and right away wanted to decorate it with balls and shiny things he doesn't know the name for. Having nothing on hand, having never had a Christmas tree before in my life, we got busy crafting our own decorations from our stash of random art supplies and let me tell you we had a blast. Between making snowflakes, snowmen, little presents and glittery pine cones, I mentioned to my son we should probably also make a menorah. He found our container full of corks and said 'these would be perfect for candles'. Thanks to the hot glue gun just about anything is possible, and turns out they were absolutely perfect for candles.

We are just loving our funky, informal decorations, which somehow seem to perfectly represent our take on the holiday season this year.

 Snowflake ornament: 
packing foam assembled with hot glue and decorated with glitter glue

Snowman ornament: 
pompoms, fabric scrap, googly eyes, twigs, sequins assembled with hot glue 

corks, popsicle sticks, yellow pipe cleaners, glitter glue, all assembled with hot glue.

Roma weekend

Recharged our batteries with big city energy in the Eternal City this weekend. We wandered the streets, hopped on and off buses trams and subways, visited museums, ice skated, ate Indian Korean and Japanese, saw friends, admired ancient Rome, took care of some business, star gazed at the Planetarium, and hung out at Nonna's. My toes are still thawing out from the cold, but it was totally worth it.

Piazza di Spagna - Fontana della Barcaccia

 Arch of Constantine
 Roma in miniature - Museo della Civilta Romana 

 buskers on the metro

 waiting in line at the Bocca della Verita


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Playing with placemats

In his usual attempt at livening up meal time, my 5 year old son recently invented an I Spy game using a contact paper placemat we had made together several years ago. Turns out this is really fun!

After several weeks of using the same 2 placemats over and over again, it seemed like it was high time to make some new ones. Of course I invited my son to join me in this project. I never know if he will be in the mood to join me or not, but this time he was. Happy me.

We started by sorting through a box of magazine cut outs I've been saving up for a moment just like this. I let my son pick whatever things he wanted to include in the placemat. I found this part really cute since he spent a lot of time thinking about what he wanted in the placemat.

Then using a piece of white contact paper I had cut out, he carefully arranged all the pieces of paper onto the sticky suface. When it was completed to his satisfaction, I sealed the collage with a sheet of clear contact paper carefully layed over the top. I trimmed the edges and our new placemat was ready for use.

In our games of I Spy we never ask direct questions anymore, but try to trick each other with 'tough' clues. This keeps it interesting since no clue is ever the same.

At some point in making the first placemat I had an idea to surprise him with a second one full of words that he could practice his new reading skills ons. Reading simple words is another game that has been coming up recenty at meal time.

In a few hours I had collected lots of easy words from my magazine stash.

The next morning the little guy saw my tray full of words. When I told him my plan he got inspired to find some words of his own chosing to put in the placemat. Placing the words took alot of time since he was tempted to try and read those he put down, translate them to Italian, and then act them out in charade like fashion. A much more involved game that I had ever envisioned seems to have evolved!

What other kinds of placemats should we be making?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Siclia 360

Check out this new web site full of travel information and high quality panoramic photos designed to help you plan your next trip to Sicily. Seems like this could be a fun tool to explore for anyone interested in visiting Sicily.