Category Archives: Italy

Pizza Time

Well, we did it, we made our own pizza, crust and all and I’d have to say it was a HUGE success, experience and product both!

Pizza Dough (recipe adapted from Epicurious)

1/2 ounce dry active yeast

1/2 cup warm water (102-105 degrees, basically warmer than your body)

2 tablespoons flour

whisk above ingredients until creamy and foamy and set aside for ten minutes

in another bowl combine

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons sea salt

make a well in the center and slowly add yeast mixture to flour, stir and continue to add more flour until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Remove from bowl and knead on floured surface, continuing to add flour as sticky areas surface. Knead until smooth and soft, about ten minutes. Set aside for just over an hour in a warm, draft-free area.

While the dough was rising, we pre-heated the oven to 425*.

Next came the fun part, rolling out the dough, tossing it into the air and putting on the toppings.

Tossing the dough

We topped the dough lightly with a store-bought marinara sauce (I know, I cut some corners here, but this was a huge time-saver), then placed slices of mozzarella all around and topped it with a bit of basil.  We used the fresh mozzarella that’s found in stores in cartons with water.  This proved to be quite delicious and the taste was noticeably different.  Tallinn picked a bunch of basil from our garden and went to town decorating our pizza so a few of us got quite a bit of basil, which was quite refreshing and scrumptuous.

Daniela, who is from Austria, says our pizza was pretty authentic Italian pizza and I’m going to trust her expert opinion as she’s a bit closer to Italy and must know authentic Italian pizza when she sees/tastes one.

Italy, it has been a dream to be back, an absolute dream, from the amazing variety of foods to the fun art and language.  There were certainly more activities I would have liked to have done (mosaic making, letter art…) so we WILL be back and have things already to do, and of course we’ll just keep eating your wonderful food.  But for now we must say “Ciao” and “Grazie”, we LOVED our trip!

I forgot to post this earlier, but this week’s verse was

To all in Rome who are loved by God

and called to be saints:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father

and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:7

Mini Gondolas

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on a gondola, far too long, in my opinion. What could be more romantic than having someone push you gently along quiet waters, under bridges and street lamps while the gondolier sings and you sip on wine in a cozy little seat for two with your love?  Several anniversaries ago Brian took me on a local gondola ride where we enjoyed wine and appetizers as well. It was wonderful!  Of course I had to share some pictures with our kids of our experience before we began today’s craft.

I got this fun idea from and I wish the pictures were a bit better, but I was in a bit of a hurry I guess.  Basically I cut out the gondola shapes on black paper and stapled the edges shut forming a curve in the middle.  Next, using a fun origami paper, I cut out the golden gondola design and the kids glued them in place.  For the base, we used card stock strips folded in half and cut in the center to keep the boats uprights.  The kids used different colored glitter glues to design the rest of their gondola and Tallinn decided to use a bunch of different origami paper pieces to decorate his.  It was an easy, simple craft that the kids really enjoyed and I said “Bravo” for a job well done!

We also spent several minutes looking at the pictures in my Williams and Sonoma  Savoring Italy  cookbook which just makes me salivate every time I look at it, but it also has beautiful pictures of the Italian countryside, cafes, famous artwork and ancient structures.  In my opinion it was a very educational book about Italy, even if the subject was food.  After all, we all need to eat….so later today, that’s just what we’ll do, eat and enjoy more delicious Italian food. Last night we had a wonderful rigatoni (leftover from our flag craft) with Italian sausage, prosciutto and Parmesan Reggiano in a light tomato/garlic sauce, served with asparagus and garlic bread.  (Sorry I made this one up on the fly and don’t have any recipe to offer.) 

And, the night before we had spinach spaghetti with a delicious pesto sauce, fresh from our garden (another recipe I just whipped up but it was basically olive oil, basil, parmesan and pine nuts.)

Tonight we’ll be attempting pizza! It might just be my favorite.

When in Rome…



you eat gelato.

Buongiorno Italy

What I wouldn’t give right now to really be in Italy, to be walking ancient streets enjoying a gelato, stopping in a cafe for a sip of espresso, meandering through a museum and losing myself in the art, taking a tour of the country in an old European car passing by vineyards and Tuscan fields of lavender.  A true dream that would be!  Instead I find myself in an environment that is all too familiar, but I can’t complain because I have three special blessings with me and, in fact, I have visited Italy several times before and have many memories, crazy, funny, scary memories!  From my first day in Rome when  my mom slipped off the curb and dislocated her shoulder landing us in an Italian hospital for hours, taking a step back in time with the beds all in a row and the more primitive measures (my poor mom had to wear an arm sling the entire time on our trip and was forced to buy several shirts that buttoned in the front so she could fit her little hand through and, me in my inability to remain straight-faced during these times could not help but laugh at her in her sorry state)….to the time when I was running with a college  friend on my semester abroad and we found ourselves down on the riverbanks deep in the heart of a gypsy camp with wild dogs and tents all around (I’ve never run so fast in my life!)….to the time when my dear friend Jessica and I left my apartment in Paris for a weekend in Rome and stayed in a “bed and breakfast” (basically someone’s master bedroom) and found ourselves on the Spanish steps surrounded by young Italian boys who, we realized, kept inviting us to go get some Gelato (making finger motions with their hands to indicate walking)…..

These are just a few of the many memories I have from my visits to this great land, one that I would visit every year for the rest of my life if I could.

Today, we found ourselves leaving Asia and arriving back in Europe to bustling streets and moderate temperatures, where delicious meals await us as we journey through Italia.

Our flag craft was appropriately made with pasta and paint.  I got the idea from and it was simple and easy for all three kids.

Tal was in charge of the red

Car handled the white

Addie took care of the green pasta


Our new student Daniela helped the kids put together their flags.

Finished rigatoni flag

 Today, the kids, particularly Tallinn, got a bit more creative with their maps as well and we decided to mount them on green paper to show off their talents. 

After our craft we did some errands around town and it was fun to show the kids all the different Italian restaurants and things displaying the Italian flags.  And, of course we will try to enjoy as much Italian food as possible this week so we started tonight with a bread and white bean salad (sorry no picture). 

So, Italy, we are happy to be here and were digging in and enjoying our visit already.