Monthly Archives: April 2009

Not so easy bake ovens

So, my nemesis has found me: math.

To bake in Italy is to convert temperatures. And not just from Fahrenheit to Celsius but also to the crazy 1-10 numbering system on our oven. Tiring of me shouting from the kitchen, “Paul, what’s the oven number for 350?”, he found me a handy chart, which is enclosed for your pleasure below. I’m sure that Paul hoped I would print out the chart and keep it in the kitchen but I think it’s more fun to include here.

Anyway, back to the confusing appliance known as my new stove. There’s also a mysterious fan; could be a convection oven, or just a fan. Only time and several batches of brownies will tell.

Degrees Fahrenheit

Degrees Celsius

Gas Mark





Very slow




Very slow




















Moderately hot




Moderately hot












Very hot

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In action



Still closer


Finished...and hot!

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Two fondues

It was Brian’s birthday and the Covers decided to celebrate with cheese. Fondue, actually. Imported from Switzerland. With their own hands. Fancy!

As a fan of cheese in any form, I was thrilled. But the big treat came at the end: chocolate fondue. Mmm. Melted deliciousness.

Cheese please

Amy, Paul, Cindy, Brian, Cori, Eric and Melissa


Prepare for elbows and forks a’ flying

Sleepy beauties

Meanwhile, three sleepy beauties take to the sofa

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Choosing a car is hard

Remember the Great Apartment Search? Well it’s pesky cousin, the Car Quest, has now become part of our lives. Again, we’re presented with foreseeable challenges. Such as, where to find a car in Rome. Online? At a dealership? From outgoing FAO employees? The language barrier is nothing new but related, and perhaps more important in this case, there’s something cultural as well. I’ve been told many times that in order to get anything done in Italy we need someone who really speaks the language. Always said with a nod and knowing wink. However, we have none of the above so we’ll just do the best we can. Carry on.

So I’ve looked online: eBay Italy, the FAO Co-op website, Wanted In Rome and the VCN group on Yahoo! where hundreds of ex-pats gather daily to exchange questions and answers about Rome, rent apartments and most of all, sell Ikea furniture to each other. All moderately helpful. Between surfing the web and scouring the streets, we’ve seen lots of cars that seem like they’d work, at least in theory. Time to take it to the next level.

With a few models in mind, we rented a Volvo this weekend and headed for the strip of dealerships outside of town. (Aren’t they always lumped together, like huge, slightly sad parking lots? Turns out this is the case in Italy as well.) The idea was to get serious about researching our options: How much does a Toyota Corolla cost here? Can the stroller fit? Would a 1.4 engine really feel like a tin can on wheels? However, Saturday turned out to be a secret holiday in Italy. All of the dealerships were closed.

No problem, we quickly adjusted our expectations. Saturday was now for recon. We found several promising locations and even saved them into the GPS for easy navigation the next day. On Sunday–with maps, an atlas, the aforementioned GPS, notebooks and camera in hand–we made it to a grand total of one dealership (Opel) before they closed for the day. Everything else had been locked up tight all weekend. To recap, the sum total of our accomplishments in the last forty-eight hours was…sitting inside two parked cars. Sigh.

00022234In the meantime, many discussions have occurred between Paul and I. Some are about makes and models. A five-door, hatchback would be ideal, that much we agree on. (I admit that ever since I’ve seen the cute little Mercedes wagons over here, I’m smitten. But it’s not practical to spend so much for a car in a place where we don’t plan to stay. Wouldn’t it be better to save our pennies for a nice car once we move home? I suppose. Ho-hum.) Other talks cover attitude and outlook. For example, “What’s our price range?” Or “How about that one?” However, “Lots of people get by with a two-door” didn’t go over well. Especially to a woman about to have a baby and already schooled in the easiest/most difficult way to transport an 80-pound golden retriever. There are hormones involved. With that said, our biggest challenge might be compromising; I’d like a rig with room for our growing family and Paul hopes for something small enough to park on the street. Both legit but…

It’s not lost on me that Paul and I are still new at this marriage thing. I love the companionship and romance. But the part where another person is actually expecting to weigh in on every decision is, well, a bit much isn’t it? Laugh, laugh. Go ahead. I wouldn’t blame anyone for chuckling at our status as newcomers but just the same, it’s an adjustment.

In the end, I wonder if we’ll just rent cars as we need them. They speak English at Avis and there’s no winking required.


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Superbucks shutting down

Every once in a while, okay almost every day, I read The New York Times online plus, a devilishly snarky blog about the media world in New York. Today, a snippet about what we’re missing while away in Rome…

Starbucks Releases Its Death Grip

For as long as mankind has occupied New York, there have been two Starbucks locations on Astor Place, a block away from each other, which occasioned many predictable remarks. No more! This means everything.

The thing is that both of these Starbucks were always [f—ing] packed. Packed with the same people who would always be like “Starbucks right next to another Starbucks, WTF, they’re taking over, corporate [bulls–t], etc.” People like us! But those [f—ing] Starbucks just kept on making money, money, money.

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Stormy night

Spring weather in Rome. Bright mornings. Warm breezes, scattered showers. Sunny afternoons, rainstorms at night. You never know what you’ll get.

The view from our front terrace as a storm approaches.

Black and white


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Bed time

Last night Paul and I watched two episodes of Heros on iTunes, made chocolate chip cookies then wondered where Carter had gone to…

Carter on our bed

Taking back the bed

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Crib construction

The Bells brought their beautiful crib all the way to Rome from California and Baby Mathews gets to borrow it. Now, if only we could figure out how to put it together…



Take two

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Italians vs. Europeans

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My melon

Sweet week 35. says our little one is the size of a honeydew, I’m thinking watermelon.


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