The Ultimate Stocking Competition 2008

Now that we’ve finished stuffing turkeys, it’s time to start stuffing stockings!  That’s right, folks: MoltenChocolate’s annual Stocking Stuffer Contest is officially on!  Have you been pining for a new pair of gloves, but don’t know how to get the word out?  You’re in luck, because Santa Claus himself reads my blog everyday (Google told me).  What do you want in your stocking this year?  Leave a hint for Santa in a comment below and automatically recieve a fabulous MoltenChocolate prize!  Your stocking wishes don’t necessarily have to be realistic and extra points are awarded for creativity.

Here are a few things I’m hoping for this year:

  • An acai berry
  • Something handmade
  • Salad hands
  • Real maple syrup
  • The world’s largest plastic container of reduced fat peanut butter
  • Plastic baggies
  • Givenchy or Bvlgari perfume (Givenchy: the one in the purple bottle, Bvlgari:classic)
  • Jewelry cleaning cloth
  • 2 bottles of vanilla extract
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Sesame seeds
  • Small gift certificate to istockphoto.com (like $5-$10)
  • Sturdy wide toothed comb for wet hair
  • Burned movies: Anne of Green Gables The Continuing Story (not AofGG or AofA, which I already have, but the 3rd edition), Home Alone, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady
  • Dried cherries & dried cranberries in large quantities
  • Magazine subscription
  • Interesting wine glass charms
  • Something from Etsy.com
  • Jewelry box, if it fits, mostly with spaces for earrings & necklaces
  • Books
  • A year at home with the family
  • Tickets to a theater show or concert
  • Trip to Paris or other interesting European city
  • Paper panettone molds (good luck, Santa, they’re like impossible to find!)
  • And, if Santa’s really feeling spendy this year, a really good digital camera, but this is optional

Remember, everyone who participates receives a fabulous prize!  If you need some ideas, try checking out the entries from years past:

Sockaholic 2003

The Ultimate Stocking Competition 2007

Merry Christmas!


Christmas in Italy


Christmas decorations went up this week around town. I enjoy Italian public Christmas decorations – they’re simple and to-the-point. In Verduno they put a big Christmas tree in the middle of the piazza and decorate it with plain white lights. There’s an electric light sign that says “Buone Feste” (happy holidays) at the main town entrance, and big bulb white light fringe scattered from one side of the street to the other at rooftop level. Festive, but not overdone.

Here at the Crane/Badellino household, we haven’t quite gotten around to decorating for Christmas yet, but I did move the Halloween pumpkins from the front of the house to the back of the house tonight. So we’re making progress.

Last year during after-Christmas-sales I bought the kind of Christmas cards that you have to put a picture in. I was inspired at the moment. But I’ve decided I find photo Christmas cards kind of arrogant, so I’m trying to decide what to do with them… I’ve never seriously sent Christmas cards before, this was to be the first year. Maybe I’ll cut out pictures of random people from magazines and use those instead of a picture of me. Yeah.

Christmas treeI’ve been trying to convince Luca that we NEED to get a Christmas tree. Last week at the supermarket they had trees a little taller than me bound up in netting so that you couldn’t exactly tell if they were Charlie Brown trees or not. But they were only €10! So I picked one out and put it in our shopping cart. And in the meantime, about half of the needles on the damn tree fell off on me. Needless to say, I put that sucker back in a snap. (And am still finding pine needles in my pockets!) So I’ve been scowering the streets for random large branches that may have broken off of pine trees in attempt to bring holiday cheer into the house. Wish me luck…

Marmellata di Peperoni

peppersRosanna, Luca’s mom has been making this AWESOME sweet/hot red pepper marmalade lately that I am totally addicted to.  Though pepper season here just about ended with our first big snow this weekend, I’m looking forward to making it next fall (and eating my way through Rosanna’s stock in the meantime).

It’s best with caprino or robiola cheese on bread or grissini, I think.  Luca likes it with drier, aged cheeses, but I think it covers up their flavor too much.  I like the contrast of the hot spicy marmalade and the cool creamy soft cheeses.  It’s so beautiful, you can’t help but fall in love.  Sometimes (okay, only when I don’t have either cheese or bread on hand), I open up the jar just to look at the shiny red pepper gem-iness.


1kg Red Bell Peppers

2.5 hg Hot Red Peppers (the little, perfectly round ones)

1 cup Vinegar

1 kg. sugar


1.  Clean and weigh ingredients.

2.  Dice the peppers into small pieces and cook for 10 – 15 minutes with the vinegar and sugar.

3.  Transfer the mixture to the mixer and blend.  Replace the mixture on the stove and cook until it’s dense.  Transfer to sterilized glass jars while hot.  Close the jars and turn on their tops for ten minutes.  Place jars right side up and let cool.

 These pictures don’t do the marmalade justice, but maybe you can get an idea…




Snow Day!

It snowed so much Thanksgiving night that no one went to work today! Lucky for me I’m in the IT industry and so could at least partially work from home.  This is the view out our kitchen window; the first one on the left ws taken at 8AM, the other two after lunch.

Some Favorite Entries

I was browsing the archives and came across some of my favorite entries.  After all these years, things tend to get lost in the stacks, so I thought I’d reshare these with you:

Do you have a favorite entry that’s not on my list?  Let me know!



Cows & Hoses

On Sunday I decided to take out the porous hose we installed in the garden this summer.  I need to re-till the whole plot before winter sets in and the hose was only going to be in the way. I think I may have mentioned before that the garden isn’t actually on a flat piece of land, but a slope.  It’s been raining for the last couple of weeks, so the entire field was good and muddy.  Things went pretty well until I reached the steeper part of our plot and whoooooooooooosh, I totally fell flat on my face and slid down the rest of the hill. Hahaha.  (For those of you familiar with Anne of Green Gables – remember the scene where Anne & Diana chase the Jersey cow out of Rachel Lind’s potato field?  This was pretty much the same deal.)  My neighbor, who was gardening at the time got a good laugh anyways.

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