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Archive for January, 2011

• yosemite bound

Last weekend we high tailed it out of town and headed for them thar’ hills! Yosemite hills to be exact. We stocked up on food rations and hiking boots and took off on a California adventure road trip.

I want to take a second out to say, Hi mom! and Hi Mirabile family! I write this blog to keep an account of our time spent together with Francesca but more importantly so that our families, that are far away, can follow along as well. My mom and dad live in New Jersey and haven’t been able to visit and meet Francesca yet, so I like to keep my mom up to speed with lots of pictures. I also know that it is really difficult for Vittorio and Tonia to have their daughter so far away and so I like to post a lot of pictures so that they can see that Francesca, (who may not be writing home as much as they would like) is alive and well, and having a great time!

Yosemite is about a four hour car trip from Fremont. We left late Saturday morning, stopped for lunch at In-&-Out Burger and were up at the Jenny and Vic Langford’s cabin just outside of Yosemite by mid-afternoon. The Langfords have a sweet little vacation house in Pine Mountain Lake, which as the name suggests, is settled nicely into a hill, surrounded by pines with a view of the lake. We enjoyed a late afternoon hike around the lake and later feasted on big bowls of homemade pasta I brought from home. We watched a movie and then settled in for the night. The kids all bunked together in the large downstairs den and Pat and I got to sleep on a large blow up mattress upstairs in the living room in front of the fire place. It would have been quite romantic, if not for the seven other people with whom we were sharing the house! None-the-less, we all snuggled in quite nicely and morning came rather abruptly for the teenagers, when Vic woke them up at the crack of 8:30 opening windows to let in the brisk mountain air to get them moving and ready for our jaunt into Yosemite park.

The drive into Yosemite is spectacular and especially so during the winter. We eagerly looked for the first signs of snow, still very much a novelty for us Bay side dwellers, and practically jumped out of our seats when we began to see our first snow drifts, which soon turn into giant mounds higher than the car which we were driving. We oohed and ahhhed as we drove down into the Valley and got a look at El Capitan! We slipped and slid our way up the treacherous path to see the waterfalls, trying very hard not to fall into the frigid icy streams. The kids played in the snow, threw snow balls, attempted making snow angels and had a grand time. We reveled in the majestic vistas, the waterfall which is one of the largest in Northern hemisphere, and shear beauty of the perpendicular cliffs that make Yosemite an amazing place to behold.

Toward dusk, after treating ourselves to hot chocolates, we loaded ourselves back into the car and drove the twisty treacherous road back down the mountain into the Sacramento Valley and headed back home to the bay area and Fremont.


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We rang in the new year dressed in party hats & paper crowns and created quite a mind numbing ruckus with all our party poppers, noise makers, horns and whistles! 2010 we bid thee adieu. Welcome 2011!

New Year’s eve found us at home with a small group of friends. Francesca and I made risotto ai funghi in my new rice maker, a Christmas present from Kyle, but I guess the rice maker wasn’t up to our rigorous cooking regime as it decided to conk out after only two attempts to use the thing! Argh! We did however, turn out a really nice batch of risotto. It was delicious! (Must have been all the wine that got added, once by Francesca and once by me!) We also cooked up a batch of “Lenticchie” (lentils) a traditional Italian dish prepared and eaten on New Year’s because it is believed that it will bring good fortune. This legend is based on the fact that the lentils themselves look like small gold coins.

We filled our New Years eve with good conversation and a lively game of Catch Phrase, boys against the girls…let’s just say that some of us are VERY competitive and leave it at that! At 9pm we ceremoniously watched the crystal ball drop in Times Square, Francesca wishing all the while that she was there, smooshed into the mob that filled central New York. Some day Francesca…someday! We ate desserts, drank wine and watched a movie waiting for our magical witching hour to occur. At five to 12 we grabbed our noisemakers and danced around the patio as we welcomed in the New Year. Inside we popped champaign corks and toasted to new beginnings, friends and good times!

Usually the holidays are over for us after the 1st of January. I start the clean up and putting away of decorations and take the tree down. As much as I love seeing it go up, it is rather cathartic and nice to see it come down. I replace all the red and green candles with white ones and toss out the sad looking pointsettias and swap them for a white orchid. Ahhh…fresh, re-vitalized energy fills the house once again! This year however, either from being too busy blogging, answering new client calls or just plain lazy I decided to let the tree remain a bit longer. In fact, we decided this year to celebrate the Italian holiday of “Bella Befana” which occurs on the 6th of January – Epiphany.

In Italian tradition, la Befana, an ugly old witch arrives on the 6th and fills the stockings of all the good little boys and girls. For the bad ones she leaves a lump of coal. Hmmm….sound familiar? Legend has it that the three wise men stopped to rest at the house of the Befana on their way to find the baby Jesus. They invited her to accompany them on their journey, but she was just too mean and cranky and said she had others things to attend to. Later, after the wisemen left, she began to regret her decision. Thus, she jumped on her broom and began to follow them. She didn’t know where the baby Jesus was, so just to make sure, she stopped at every house along the way and left a gift, just in case that was the house was home to the saviour.

This year I am fortunate to have two lovely Italian friends, Rossella who lives in Garda and Vita who lives in Locorotondo, who have both sent me a Befana doll! I am treasuring my Befana’s and plan to have them fly around office a little longer as a good luck symbol. Povera Francesca, not used to attending school on the 6th, trudged off to Irvington in glum spirits on the day of the Befana. Fortunately however, the good witch, despite the long journey from Italy,  arrived later having made a few wrong turns and risking her life when her broom almost broke down over the Atlantic! Francesca came home to find a stocking filled with little goodies, which I hope made her Epiphay/La Befana day a little more special here in America. But, wait! I think the Befana may be still circling the skies of California. I have it on very good authority, from her Italian elves that she may be making another drop off of packages on Monday. We love you bella Befana, but after Monday…the holidays are really truly over!

Can’t wait for Valentines Day!

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