Beach Bag Book Part II


I seem to be stuck in a rut with books set in Italy. I use the term “stuck” very loosely because there really is no rut. It’s Italy after all.
It’s the first book I’ve read by this author, but it won’t be the last. Although it starts out formulaic in plot with a husband’s secret affair, the twist of a second family pulls the story along a little quicker. The protagonist’s affection for Prosecco is a little contrived, but still believable considering her situation. But the star of the show is the “secret league” of women in the village and their “secret” agenda!

What To Do With….?

The end of the jar of fig spread…

Plus the end of the Camembert …
Plus the end of the baguette that was baked on Sunday

Equals an open face grilled cheese to snack on…
You have to do something while the salmon cooks!

I’m Listening…

I do a lot of driving. A LOT. Once upon a time I had a 4 mile commute, then when we bought our house it turned to 40, then I got a new job and it turned to 150 miles round trip, then I got another new job and I now cover a territory that stretches from the New Hampshire line into Rhode Island and from the “heart” of Massachusetts all the way east into Boston. I can put 100 miles on my car by lunchtime on some days.
You can only listen to the “k-a-r-s for kids” jingle so many times before you want to drive off the road and NPR fills a big void, but I needed more. So I got in the habit of listening to books on tape when I first started my super commute about 8 years ago. I tried learning French on tape, but, alas, not my strongest effort. Listening to books was more fun…
Then I discovered podcasts and things really changed for the better. Not only could I listen to “radio” that was commercial free, but I could listen to things that interested me. Then Internet radio options came along I can either listen now or listen later, depending on the content.
So I thought I’d share my favorite programs/podcasts so you can listen too!
So here are my Top Ten listening, downloadable, or on demand “radio” programs.

10. NPR The Book Show/Books Podcast













And my top three need a little more praise than just pasting their logo up here.

Lynne Rosetto Kasper has been delivering a splendid program for 20 years on American Public Media. I have gotten great recipes ( apricots in cardamom syrup), read great books, had great info about food and restaurants all because of this show.


What can I say about”Good Food” except that I get to live vicariously in Southern California , LA in particular, and immerse myself in that foodie scene. Brought to you by KCRW in Santa Monica and hosted by Evan Kleinman and her food truck driving, food journalist, chef owner friends. No food subject is off limits and you will weep at the descriptions of produce that are delivered every week by Laura Avery at the Santa Monica farmers market.
And ( ta-da!) NUMBER ONE on the chart and definitely in my heart is


I don’t even know where to start to describe how much I love the sisters, all five of them. I remember when they wrote for Oprah Magazine and realized with a shock this week that I have probably been listening to them for about 10 years! I have laughed and cried with them, read books because of them, learned so much because of the Dolan women, that I consider myself a Satellite sister. They have wonderful guests and share their life experiences ( I could share their grief about losing both parents close together, because I was going through the same experience). They comment on current affairs ( I understand Russia and North Korea better because of Julie), defend causes they feel strongly about and basically tie everything up in a great listening package two times a week. I wish they still did 5 shows a week, but I’ll take whatever they broadcast! All their shows can be accessed on iTunes and if you can find the show where Lian talks about her oldest son going to dance lessons, you will not forget it! I almost drove through the back wall of my garage one nite because I was laughing so hard. Look them upon iTunes or Stitcher Radio. You will NOT regret this lovely, informative, engaging, and sisterly time of your week!

Meatless Monday….Chill

I sometimes have a problem with buying a needed item at the grocery store and then buying the same item a couple of days later, which is fine if it’s a jar of tomato sauce that you duplicate. Not so great if it’s a perishable item like cucumbers, which I bought two packages of last week, one at Costco and one at Stop and Shop. Not two cucumbers, two packages of cucumbers, which would be six in total…six is a lot of cucumbers to work through even if you eat a lot of salads like we do. Hmmm, what to do?
Make chilled cucumber soup of course!

I put one and a half English cucumbers , a fresh seeded jalapeño, a teaspoon of fine chopped parsley, two scallions, a scoche of anchovy paste, a teaspoon of lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper into the food processor and “whazzed” it up for about 45 seconds. Then added about 2 tablespoons each of no fat plain yogurt, no fat sour cream and about 3/4 of a cup of buttermilk. That’s right, “whazz” it again for about 15 seconds to blend the dairy. Adjust your seasoning for your palate and CHILL….

Way Back Machine…July Edition

Here’s what I was working on last July in the great “craft a week” experiment!

First I made this wreath for the front door of our friends’ ( A&B ) lovely home in New Hampshire .



For the rest of the month, I was a little stamp happy. I had some beautiful linen paper and stamped these aprons onto it and then cut them out. I matched them with hand stamped ribbon, which is really rug binding tape that I get at Michael’s. Looks great with plain brown craft paper wrapping, and is especially appropriate for baked items. I did two series of them in blue and black. One of my most favorite craft projects ever! The apron stamp will make another appearance later in the year.

Week three featured some plain mason jar hang tags that someone asked me to make.

And lastly, I made some hand stamped “made by” tags for fellow crafters to use for their creations!
If anyone is crafting or baking and would like like personalized tags or labels just let me know!

Garden Update…Lilies

Just sharing these beautiful lilies that I have growing in pots in the front of the house. For years I would buy these kind of lily bulbs every spring at Christmas Tree shop and by the time they were coming up out of the ground I would have nasty red nematodes eating the stalk and laying that yucky black goo all over everything. Moral of the story is not to buy bulbs at CTS! I bought these at Costco and they are beautiful! The smell is amazing, so rich and lovely. I hope they last a long time!photo

On the Shelf… in Two Parts…

Just a mid month suggestion for a good satisfying reads. I’ll follow next week with a Beach Bag book also, but wanted to get you a two for one

From Rosanna Chiofalo comes two books, I have read and enjoyed both of them.


Carissima tells the story of Pia Santore and the New York and Astoria, Queens neighborhoods that she moves in. There’s Rome and a  famous movie star named Francesca who mysteriously appears in the neighborhood, hounded by paparazzi and hiding a secret. Carissima really is a “dearest one” of a book.


And I loved the story of Valentina in Bella Fortuna. I loved her sisters, her mother, the wedding dresses, going to Venice, everything!

Both books would be wonderful for a long plane trip…especially if headed to Italy! Ciao!

Rosanna Chiofalo is a first-generation Italian American whose parents emigrated from Sicily to New York in the early 1960s. She is the author of Bella Fortuna and is currently hard at work writing her next novel. She and her husband live in New York City.

Movie Nite…

Bonus Edition…

Maybe it’s because my nephew was in Rome on Sunday, maybe it’s because I didn’t really feel like chores, maybe because it was a lazy Sunday afternoon and I was waiting for dough to rise…but I was trolling the channels and came across this little gem.
Suzanne Pleshette is the 25 year old ingenue ( in her first film role and as the main character) who travels to Rome by ocean liner, meets Rossano Brazzi ( in a blue suit, he is always filmed in a blue suit…) on the ship, along with a hayseed that her parents know. They arrive in a pensione in Rome and Prudence ( played by Pleshette) meets a friend of Rossano played by Troy Donahue. Cut to the chase, Prudence and Don leave Rome to tour the rest of Italy, and fall in love. They return to the pensione where Don’s ( Donahue) ex-lover ( Angie Dickinson, and her mile long legs) is waiting. In a wilting scene she reduces Prudence to tears while she details her affair with Don, and Prudence leaves. Prudence calls on Mr. Blue Suit to “teach” her how to love a man, and Rossano does the decent thing and locates Don, sends the young Prudence home to NYC, and goes about his business. Prudence arrives by return ocean voyage to her parents’ open arms and in the distance at the pier, hears Don calling her. Tipped off by the blue suit, Don flies to NYC and beats her home.
Although not a great movie, and kind of sappy, it is a travelogue for Rome and Italy.

You remember Brazzi from



(One of my personal favorites with Katherine Hepburn, and another travelogue that features Venice)

Back to Rome…For some inexplicable reason, the great jazz trumpeter Al Hirt, is a minor character in the film. The costumes for the women are pure vintage 60’s,right down to the pink pumps that Pleshette wears. And in my six degrees of separation to this movie, the opening ocean liner shots are of the Italian Line’s “Christoforo Colombo”. The liner was in Boston once, and my father took us on board to snoop around. Imagine being able to do that in today’s context…Nothing but personal honesty and an “all visitors ashore” call and you were back on the pier. No searches, no security, no ID checks…nothin’!

And I just want to clarify that although I have many less than seminal movies on my all time favorites list, this is not one of them!

Best place to watch this movie: anywhere dressed in cute capris
What to drink with movie: Prosecco or Campari

Summer Crushes….

A few things I am seriously crushing on this summer…



Seriously overdosing on the the creamy, cool, satisfying richness of the avocado. I dice one into a salad almost everynite in an almost successful attempt to cut down on animal proteins in our diet. Even the Hubs likes it. I totally wanted to experiment with the Pinterest recipe for Eggs and Avocado Toast this week, but you’ll just have to wait until next week for the review. In the meantime, start your own crush with this great food!



Are ya watching this one? Ok, normally I’m not big on post apocalyptic adventures, but I am a sucker for men in uniform ( the Hubs was one… but not when I met him) and I do totally enjoy a sea yarn that allows you to check your brain at the door. TNT on Sunday nites, totally escapist and possibly forgettable in the fall, but watch for this to make a second season. Eventually there’s total pandemic or a vaccine, but stay tuned!



Not the ones I grill and chase with Prosecco… But the “Netflix” for books! Less than $10 bucks per month and you can read all you want. Libray is 500,000 volumes strong and growing. Can be accessed across all your devices to! Lots of currents and classics available!

Let me know what your summer crushes are! I’ll share them with others!




Milky Way Bars

Do you read Bakerella?
It’s a popular blog that Angie started and that continues. Her creativity is jaw dropping. I have followed her for over 7 years now, ever since I read about her Valentine’s project that looked like this…

It’s all cake , peeps! What you think is heart shaped box is cake, the chocolates are cake… I mean, this was insane creativity…
Anyway I keep up with Angie and her cake pop production on my Flipboard and saw a post a little bit ago about peanut butter cup cheesecake bars.

Hmmm, I thought, I bet I could sub out those peanut butter cups for those cute little Milky Way bite size pieces. And you know what?
I was right!