ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE LIMONCELLO KIND

Today’s prompt from WordPresser Michelle is Happy Happy Joy Joy.  She asks what happiness looks like.  I’d say it looks like sunshine and Jimmy Stewart.  But true Happiness, well, that has a spirit-buoying taste all its own.

.So, how many times did you watch It’s a Wonderful Life? 

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Frank Capra’s direction is brilliant. The movie is adapted from a short story written by Philip Van Doren Stern. Inspired by a dream, Stern wrote the original 4,000 words and called it The Greatest Gift.

Unable to find a publisher, he printed 200 copies and sent them to friends at Christmas. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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Clarence the Angel orders mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon and light on the cloves. A winter drink, to be sure. But I think Clarence missed an opportunity to raise his Happiness Factor. He should have asked for Limoncello, chilled.

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It’s a glass of liquid sunshine. And that first sip?  Fire and Ice.

The best Limoncello is made with Sorrento lemons, grown in groves that terrace the craggy hillsides sweeping down to the sea.

And they are the most amazing lemons you will evah taste.

Italians serve Limoncello chilled as an after-dinner digestivo.

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I learned the story of Limoncello during a visit to Positano. Over a century ago, Vincenza Canale operated a hotel on the island of Capri and offered her guests a small glass of lemon liqueur as a digestivo. The fame of the lemony nectar grew.  Of course, back then, there were no tweets or blogs to spread the word.  But writers used the power of the pen to share their passion for Limoncello and introduced it to the world.

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Vincenza Canale’s original recipe hasn’t changed over the past century and her descendants continue to produce Limoncello di Capri. And so can you ~ it’s a modest splurge and very easy to make. You need only four ingredients ~ lemons, vodka, sugar, and water ~ to make your own.

This recipe is from Frances Mayes’ bestseller, In Tuscany.

8 organic lemons
1 quart vodka
14 ounces sugar
1 quart bottled water, brought to a simmer
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Peel the lemons, leaving a little white attached to the peel. Reserve the lemons for other uses. Put the peels in a large container together with the vodka, close it well, and leave it in a cool place for at least 4 days, preferably a week. Gently shake a couple times a day. The peels will lose their brilliant yellow color.

On the fifth day or later, prepare a syrup of the sugar and hot water, making sure the syrup never quite boils. Stir and simmer 5 minutes, then after the sugar has dissolved, allow the syrup to cool. Strain the lemon-scented alcohol through cheesecloth or a strainer, discard the lemon peels, and mix the alcohol into the syrup. Shake well before bottling. Let the limoncello sit for 2 to 3 days.  Makes 2 quarts.

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 I can’t think of a happier way to start 2014

than with peace ♥

♥ and love

      and limoncello.  ♥

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1/5/14  Toni

 

 

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: ILLUMINATION

il·lu·mi·na·tion

1.  an act or instance of illuminating.

2.  the fact or condition of being illuminated.

3.  a decoration of lights

4.  Sometimes, illuminations ~ an entertainment, display, or celebration using lights as a major feature or decoration.

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Bright and beyond dazzling, these LED lights illuminate my spacious, stylish and sophisticated refrigerator. She’s a glamour girl. An ohmigodess.

I admit it, I’m an appliance snob. My audaciously cool LEDs flounce and sashay over shelves, strut and swagger into corners, and hurtle to the depths of the continental-shelf-size freezer.  It’s not your mother’s Frigidaire.

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Ah, the luxury of a well-stocked fridge…it inspires me to doodle.

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What’s in your ice box?  Leave a link to a picture or drawing of yours.
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Bring joy to the world, one fridge at a time.

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Toni 1/14/13
See more interpretations on this theme here.
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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: RESOLVED

Resolved. It’s that time of year, isn’t it? Landslides of resolutions and good intentions. With a nudge from WordPress blogger Sara, I resolve to avoid posting about my lunch or afternoon nap. I think that blogging is jubilantly more than navel-gazing content.

Blogging seems to be The New Renaissance, a rebirth of personal expression that’s collective and messy, loosely strung together with links, comments, and trackbacks. The dictionary defines Renaissance as a movement of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity.  Blogging is like that. It’s a busy hum, a bustle and stir that rewards brevity and immediacy, inviting writer/reader interaction in a free-fall kind of way. It’s like talking/thinking/writing out loud. Words have never seemed so now.

With just one click of the Publish button, bloggers send their words out to hover in cyberspace. I feel as though I know some of my favorite bloggers and experience what they experience, often in real time. In front of a screen, there’s just the two of us ~ blogger and reader ~ linked in an artistic and intellectual way. And a personal one.  It’s Friendship, in The New Renaissance.

Words endure ~ whether in pixels or print.  I resolve to celebrate the written word in every medium, talk while listening, comment while reading, be informed, enriched and, ultimately, rewarded.  In NYC, there’s plenty of words that inspire, far from the navel-gazing crowd.

Toni 1/7/13

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Click on photos to read the hallowed words of some upper-case great writers, embedded in the sidewalks of New York.

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WHY WE HANG THE LIGHTS SO HIGH

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. To-day, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient short comings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.

Mark Twain, Jan. 1, 1863 

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Corks have been popped.  

Stockings (and stomachs) have been stuffed.

Avowals have been made.

So, Resolutionists, bring the tinsel and holly into 2013 with you and leave fear and gloom behind. Ask British folk-pop singer/songwriter and guitarist Tracey Thorn. She knows we’ll be alright. http://www.onlylyrics.com/tracey-thorn-lyrics-1103683.php

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I Wish You Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy.

Toni 1/3/13

TEN REASONS WHY IT’S MERAVIGLIOSO TO BE ITALIAN DURING THE HOLIDAYS

My Big Italian Family savors every moment of life.  They are jolly, laugh-launching and absurdly generous….especially with hugs and food.

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It goes without saying ~ no one goes hungry.  The celebration begins on Christmas Eve, December 24 and does not end until January 6, The Feast of the Epiphany.  It’s all about The Family… and The Food.

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Ten Reasons Why it’s Meraviglioso to be Italian during the Holidays

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10. La Vigilia di Natale


Italians abstain from meat the night before a major holiday.  Christmas Eve is The Feast of the Seven Fishes. The origin of the seven is somewhat of a mystery. Some say it comes from the number of sacraments; others say it relates to the phase of the moon (seven days). My grandmother called it di magro (magro means “thin”).

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9.  Zampognari


On Christmas Eve, the zampognari, shepards in the parish, dress in costume and play Christmas tunes on their bagpipes.

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8.  Capitone


The long, fat female eel that is grilled until it’s brown and crunchy, then salted ~ delizioso.

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7. Midnight Mass

Italians attend midnight mass and later enjoy panettone, the dome-shaped fruit cake that originated in Milan, with a glass or three of Prosecco, a straw-colored sparkling wine.

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6. La Befana

On January 6, The Feast of the Epiphany, Italians get gifts. The presents come from La Befana, an old crone with a hairy mole on her chin who rides around on a broom. La Befana flies through the sky, sweeping away last year’s troubles and bringing the hope of a sweeter, brighter New Year.

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5. Caffé Corretto


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Italians drink Caffé Corretto or corrected espresso. They put sugar in the espresso, stir and drink. And always leave a little of it at the bottom of the cup ~ so they can add grappa and swirl it while the cup is still hot from the espresso. Felicemente.

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4. Pasta e Fagioli


A bean and pasta soup, hearty comfort food that Italians eat on Fridays during Advent.

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3. Panettone


This is the traditional Italian Christmas Bread. It’s divine for breakfast with a big schmear of mascarpone cheese. Or after dinner with a glass of Marsala. (I saw Giada make French toast with Panettone.  The recipe is on Toni’s page.  Do try it.)

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2. What Italians Do Best, Italianissimo


Such a seductive culture ~ art, balsamico, apertivo, digestivo, caffe, carnevale, limoncello, gelato, l’olio d’oliva, opera, parmigiano-reggiano, pasta, pizza, vino, and, yes, even burning the pin feathers off chickens and saving the feet for soup.  Everything is better in Italian ~ especially the over-the-moon-elating singing, hugging, yelling, kissing, talking, talking, talking.

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1. There Is Always A Place at the Table.

And it’s covered with a pleasure lode of Love ~ Zia Mary’s fried peppers, Grandma’s C’s ravioli, Nonna’s baked onions, Uncle Dom’s sausage and pigs’ feet, Uncle Joe’s cheese, Joe the Store’s pasta, Uncle Al’s vino di casa, Auntie Joanie’s baccala, Mom’s stuffed anchovy peppers, Grandma G’s fish gravy, Grandma R’s rice and “scrapmeat”, Auntie Angie’s zeppole, Auntie Dolly’s pie, Auntie Mary’s Christmas cookies and, always, always, bottles of homemade wine.

2013 is here ~ wear some red, clean the house.  Buon Capodanno!

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Toni 1/1/13

Arrivederci, 2012….