So I’m sure many of you are wondering how the transition from living independently in Italy to moving back in with my parents is going. And even if you’re not, here’s the deal: it is rough. Or rather, it has been. I’m not really working full-time; I’ve become a substitute teacher in my school district and I’m also babysitting, which keeps me busy (more on that later). In January I’ll be starting a Masters program in TESOL…still haven’t heard back from all the schools I applied to so I’m sure when I hear from that number one (NYU) I’ll be all over the blog with it. Anyway, I’m slowly getting my groove back and this past Sunday was a pretty great example of the ideal day for me back home.
So… babysitting. I’ve been babysitting for more than 10 years with different families but every so often I get one of those “ah-ha” moments as far as creative activities to reduce time in front of the TV. This one, with a little help from my mom, went over super well. All you need is some scrapbook paper from your local arts store – I had different oranges, greens and black – and then you and the kids can make your own pumpkins with all the trimmings! Draw the desire shape on that big scrapbook paper, cut it out and use the black and green sheets to make the accessories: stems, eyes, mouthes, etc, to glue on. I also brought along fun things like glitter and sharpies for extra embellishments. Plus, you can use the scraps to make other little fun things (the girl I was looking after made a whole series of bookmarks).
I realized that I was lacking some inspiration in the kitchen now that I was back home. Apart from the fact that cooking in the US is so easy because so many things arrive totally prepared (and there’s always Chipotle….), I missed the whole fresh fruit and vegetable experience that Italy offers. While Italian produce vendors might not all be farm-to-table vendors, the tactile, visual and olfactory experience of shopping in the market cannot be reproduced in our larger, colder, more sterile supermarkets. So I researched a little and found a few farmers’ markets happening in my area. Fortunately, some of them were even open on Sunday! My mom and I hopped over to Rye, NY for the Down To Earth Farmer’s Market. While on the small side (only 10 tents, I think) the produce was fresh like dirt on the peels of carrots and a few stray caterpillars in my bunch of kale. Got a whole bunch of beets, kale, radishes, leeks and a new veggie for me: kohlrabi. Mostly we just loved how it looked like an alien from a kid’s book with its greens still attached – it’s the one of the far left in the picture.
With my bounty, I’m planning on making some creamed kale and some Balsamic Glazed beets. I also used a mandolin to julienne some kohlrabi, radishes and apple to make a fresh slaw that I dressed with sriracha-mayo. #yum. I sautéed the kohlrabi greens with some garlic and put them over mashed sweet potatoes. I’ll also be using the radish leaves in a tangy salad. I think the best part of shopping with all this fresh produce is the challenge of using the majority of it – leaves, stalks and all.
Finally, my Sun-DIY also included some – you guessed it – DIY. My mom had this old desk that was a dark green with wooden stained legs. Not my fave color combo. But the style of the desk is very sleek, with a retro feeling that could easily be made modern with different colors. So we sanded it down and started spray-painting it yesterday. I chose a black lacquer for the desk itself and a matte white for the legs. I’m excited to see how it comes out – this is my first big DIY project and needless to say, once you start, it’s hard to stop seeing the possibilities everywhere.
So this is just a small snippet of what my post-Italy life has been like. I’ve also been reading. A lot. So I plan to write about that, too. I know I always appreciate recommendations for books to read so hopefully I can give someone a hand picking their next leisure read. Until next time,