Gaming Spirit

“Games lubricate the body and the mind.”
       –Benjamin Franklin, American statesman and inventor, 1706 – 1790

I’m looking forward to a good, healthy dose of Scrabble when I go home next week.  I’ve found that many Italians are not big game players.  Luckily I was able to trick Luca into opening his mind to the world of games during our trip to Aosta, where there was no TV.  He’s a big fan of the double deck card game “Scala 47”.  In this game you basically have to get cards that add up to 47 and you win.  Not all that challenging (though for the mathematically disinclined it can occasionally be rather frustrating.  Couldn’t they at least have picked an EVEN number?!)

Anyways, I’m sure you can appreciate the fact that during this TV-less week, even Scala 47 got old pretty quick.  So I made a mancala game out of stapled together plastic cups and random pebbles and bean pods found around the farm.  Mancala: now there’s an exciting game!  We used to make them in Girl Scouts with egg cartons and buttons.  Hotness, folks, hotness.  If you’ve never played, I reccomend you make yourself a mancala game and find a partner lickitysplit.

If you have played mancala, try out one of the alternatives: there are hundreds!

By the end of our trip, Luca was addicted to Mancala, and now it’s he who’s asking me to play.  In the meantime, we’ve aumented our game collection to include UNO (which we two refer to as “colors”), Jenga and one stupid puzzle of a cat trying to eat fish (yet to be completed).

As for my homemade mancala game, I gave it to a group of kids who were staying at the same TV-less B&B with us and were bored out of their minds.  (I even threw in the pebbles I collected and their sophisticated container: a plastic Tums bottle.  They thought it was cool that the rocks smelled fruity.)

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Stocking Stuffers

stocking.jpgMy Mom reminded me today that stocking time is quickly approaching!

*Sidenote: I can’t wait to go home–that’s right folks, from the 19th of December until my birthday (turning the big 27 in 2008), you can find me in LeRoy, NY.*

In past years, we’ve brainstormed together to create a list of season’s best stocking stuffers. And since I’m a firm believer in the beneficiality of holiday rites, I say, “Let’s do it again, by Jove!”

The Ultimate Stocking of 2007

Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin (used paperback edition perfectly acceptable) ELVES HAVE ACCOUNTED FOR THIS ITEM!

Dried Cherries & Cranberries

Pentel Metal Tip 0.7mm Ball Black Ink Pens

A Simple Silver Necklace with a very small clasp, so that I can change the charms.

Variety of Exotic Spices

Heavy Duty Potato Masher new.gif

Black Nylon Socks are always a big hit, and a great filler!

Pencils with Erasers

Nutmeg Grater

Tweezers with plastic tips like Mom’s and Phoebe’s new.gif

Magazine Subscription that comes to me in Italy  (preferably Bon Appetit, Gourmet or Food & Wine) new.gif

A Cool Contact Lens Case

My Signature Perfume (I don’t know what that is yet…I love BVLGARI, but that’s my sister’s signature scent, so I can’t use that. I guess what I really need is: A book or guide of some sort on how to pick a perfume that’s right for you.

A Good Recent Family Photo (or perhaps we can arrange to take one…)

A Coupon to Go See or Rent Becoming Jane

An Insulated Lunch Bag

I need some serious fashion help, therefore: a book about dressing with style new.gif

Mouse Pad

One of those plastic clips that keeps your toothpaste near the top of the tube (Uncle Charlie had one on Nantucket)

A Pecan Pie

Dad’s French Toast (After stocking opening)

A Pumpkin Shaped Cookie Cutter

Travel jewelry case

A Turkey Dinner (Thanksgiving style. Okay, okay, obviously this is not going to easily fit into my stocking. Neither is the pecan pie. I’ll settle for eating them together at some time during the Christmas season).

What do YOU want in your stocking?!? Everyone who posts a comment detailing the contents of their Ultimate 2007 Stocking will be entered in a contest to win a Fabulous MoltenChocolate Prize!! Enter now!! The Elves are waiting…

Hotshots Update

I updated Hotshots yesterday with lots of interesting tidbits. 




Anne and GilbertDiana, Jon and Nicky gave me an amazon.co.uk gift certificate for Christmas last year and I finally got around to using it.  Woohoo!!!  I love buying stuff I don’t have to pay for.  Ding!  I bought the DVDs of Anne of Green Gables & Anne of Avonlea in Region 0 (so I can watch them both in Italy and in the US).  Woohoo!!  It’s been at least a year since I’ve watched them, so I think it’s high time.  (They even have Italian subtitles!)

I also got Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Desserts book–an old standard that I’ve read a couple times but never owned.  Yumm.  Can’t wait to make everything! 

In addition I got a balance ball workout video which I think I may just try out today too.

I love getting packages in the mail!

In other news, Brenda and Gerry came to visit last week and we had a great time!

Woe is My “Garden”

Once again my attempts at farming are fruitless this year.  The pumpkins are dead.  Alas!

Next year I’m planning on planting lots of zinnias and cipolloti (spring onions). 

What I Do

Nobody seems to understand what I do at work.  (And, honestly, a lot of what we do at work I don’t understand yet either).  But I thought I’d try to give you all a basic idea so that you’re not totally in the dark.

I work for a small computer programming company–small in the sense that there were three of us but one lady is having a baby next month, so she’s out on maternity leave.  Now it’s just me and the boss.  Our biggest project is the hotel/restaurant management software that Giuseppe (the boss) created a few years ago.  There are about 20 hotels/restaurants that use this online software (called Primohotel) to keep track of their reservations and monetary transactions.  (Click on Demo On Line to really get a handle on what the program does).

Primohotel is a fairly complicated program, and several hotels pay us to continually modify the program to meet their personal needs.  We use ASP and Visual Basic to create the dynamic webpages that make up the program.  At the Castello di Santa Vittoria, they use our program to manage everything–it keeps records of all of the accounting and tax information of every client, purveyor and transaction that comes into contact with the restaurant, agriturismo & hotel.

Another of our big projects (though I have barely begun to contribute) is the software that Torino’s Eataly uses to manage all of their transactions.  Eataly is new to Torino and reputedly one of the world’s largest food & wine markets.  They sell only high quality products (it’s not a place to go for your weekly shopping needs, but rather for a hard-to-find cheese or cured meat for a special dinner).  Inside the market there are several food corners where you can taste and enjoy products from 18 small artisan food producers as well as an elegant restaurant.  The store also organizes educational events & musical entertainment.  This week we’re creating the computer software needed to make gift certificates work.

We also create websites and the software needed to manage the sites’ extensive web of information.  I’ve had the most input on www.langheroero.it which we just finished completely redesigning.  (I made the Alba from Outer Space video…I know, it’s not very pretty, Google Earth has its limits).  Langheroero’s cicloturismo site, I created almost entirely by myself, with some help and advice from the boss.  (The site isn’t completely finished yet…still waiting for the final text, but you get the idea).  I also did www.castellodigrinzane.com almost completely by myself.

I’m also getting to be pretty good at making custom google maps:  this is my latest masterpiece.

We also created the software that all of the Osterie FuoriPorta use to handle their orders (the waiters have palm pilots).  This is our favorite place to go for pizza (my favorite is a personal creation: Burrata with Sausage and Rucola).

Some of the other sites we’ve done are:






….and there are lots of others, but for the most part the work we do is for the hotel/restaurant industry.


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