It’s been nearly two months since I have updated my blog. The quarantine is over, for the most part. Three weeks, we began “phase two”, which opened stores, restaurants, bars, hair salons, parks and allowed free movement within your region (or state ). June 3rd regional borders and the international borders to the EU will reopen. We are allowed to go about our lives as normal now with regulations of wearing a mask when in public (in Campania you will have a 400 Euro fine if you don’t have a mask) and keeping a meter of distance from others.
I have been working since last week. I changed jobs during the quarantine. I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to find a job during that time. I am working for a new Montessori school opening in September. Now, we are offering visits for the prospective parents, organizing for the next year and hopefully we will be given the green light to open a summer camp. I am so grateful for this job, I am a Montessori teacher and have not found a true Montessori school in Naples and had given up on my dreams of working in Montessori since when came here.
The last months of the quarantine passed in a blur, the kids played outside in the garden most of the time. I am so grateful we have a garden or those months would have been very difficult.
The children’s clothing stores have opened now on Tuesday and Friday mornings. My kids desperately needed some new spring clothes so I left the kids with their nonna for a couple of hours and walked to a kids clothing store in town. It was so nice to go for a relatively long walk in the fresh air. I was actually surprised by the number of people out and about. It seemed as though some people obviously aren’t taking the quarantine very strictly. There were a few men hanging around in the “piazza” talking despite the fact that were police patrolling, but it didn’t seem like they were giving any tickets.
We still have no idea when schools will reopen but the current speculation is September, at the earliest. Other countries in Europe have already given dates to reopen before the end of this school year but I can’t see that happening here, new cases were still near 4,000 yesterday. Campania had a low day on Tuesday but jumped back up the past two days.
I’ve started an online yoga teacher training course. Yoga Alliance (the governing body more or less of yoga in the States) never allowed for online teacher training but due to the COVID pandemic, they have allowed online training to certain schools if completed in a timely manner. I decided to take advantage and have started a training, if for anything, its something for me to “accomplish” during this time. I’ve been working on it the past two days when I get the chance.
We’ve been the same as always in quarantine this past month. Felicity has been asking a lot about when we are going to “Grandma’s”. I’ve told her as soon as we think its safe, I hope soon. I’m getting itchy feet to get out of here. My dislikes about living here are only magnified when you are stuck in quarantine for months on end. I try to remember every day that I am strong and we will get through this. Take this day to day, moment to moment. Remember I have everything I need and to fulfill my purpose, my dharma, for the moment which is to be a mom to my kids and wife to my husband. Dharma is ever changing and it will change again when this all over.
Our Easter in quarantine was super relaxed. I enjoyed it more than previous Easters honestly. I am not a fan of celebrating holidays here in Italy. The biggest thing is obviously the lack of my family but also the lack of my culture. There’s nothing about American traditions during any holiday here. I usually end spending holidays sad that I am not with my family and that there is nothing familiar to me about me Neapolitan holidays.
Also the food gets isn’t something I like. Italian food is good, for sure. But holidays in Naples are ALL ABOUT FOOD, the same traditional food without a tiny change to it every year. It’s always too much and too heavy and usually end up feeling too full and with a stomachache. I don’t associate any happy feelings with the food eaten at these holidays here.
This year though, it was just my husband and my kids. Umberto is an excellent cook and he wanted to make a “different” meal at Easter than what we normally have with his family. In the end though, we decided we didn’t want a huge meal and decided to make the menu he had planned out over a course of time. We made the appetizer for lunch, it was a radiccio and parmesan dish and he made the stuffed chicken rolls for dinner (I didn’t eat the chicken, I had leftover pizza). Tomorrow we’ll make the pasta dish he planned. We at the traditional Neapolitan Easter pie his sister made for made.
In the morning the kids had a little Easter egg hunt outside and opened their Easter baskets. In the afternoon we played outside until it was time to come in for dinner. Typical day here in quarantine.
The Italian government has extended this “phase one” of quarantine until May 3rd. The only exception is that children’s clothing stores (not in malls though) may reopen from Tuesday. After May 3rd, we should begin “phase two”. No word on schools but speculation is elementary and preschools/daycares may not be reopen even in September.
We have no reached, officially, one month of lock down. One month of not being able to go anywhere but the supermarket, work, or the doctor. It has been an emotional month. It started out with a sense of relief, no more getting up early, no more stress of being at work, time with my kids, time to teach my kids (preschool stuff), art projects and baking with my kids.
As the month went on, things became more uncertain, lock down was extended, restrictions were made stricter. I went through an emotional roller coaster with work. I still as of today, April 8, have not received my salary for February. My boss no longer responds to my emails or messages asking when to expect my salary. This situation has been a struggle for me. I’ve never been treated this way by an employer and has made me lose faith in Italian employers. I love this country, most days, the leaders of this country are smart and fair but the every day life here can be tough. I don’t want to play this game of corruption, everyone should be fair to each other and in these times of difficulty, help each other out.
We still don’t know exactly when “phase two” will occur, if it will be as as soon as the current restrictions expires on April 13th or later. We also don’t know what “phase two” will be, what will be allowed, what will not. We have no idea if the schools we reopen this Spring. Everything is so up in the air. This uncertainty has affected me a lot, it’s given me anxiety and I worry about what will happen, it’s such an unknown. I had good news yesterday though and it has calmed nerves a bit (I’ll write more on it later when things are more ‘concrete’).
I am trying my hardest to remember to treat myself with love, to speak to myself with love. If you don’t take care of yourself and treat yourself kindly how can you care for your family, especially in this time of uncertainty? It is OK to not feel OK, but remember the good things you have in your life and release the bad. Take away what does not serve you.
My kids have been strong, they love to be home. They have picked up the rhythm of the day, they are having fun. They are learning in a different way. They are learning simpler things in life like playing outside in the garden, playing with dirt, helping their nonna plant tomatoes and water the crops. Going for a short walk to see the butterflies flying in the fields. Riding their bikes and scooters on our driveway. They are happy.
Yesterday the kids and I made donuts, the original recipe called for baking them but I wanted a fried donut so I ended up frying them. The taste of them was good but the appearance was not photo worthy. Felicity and I decided to retry again today, but baking them, making a cake donut and frosting them pink for her and chocolate for Raffi. Hopefully these will be photo worthy.
Have a great Wednesday, treat yourself kindly and with love. We are alone, but in this together.
My mother-in-law gave me Swiss Chard from the garden. I wanted to make a healthy soup with the chard with a legume. I had two bags of frozen chickpeas in my freezer. I searched for a recipe and came across a recipe from the Genoa area of Italy. The original recipe didn’t call for potatoes but I added them in because I love potatoes in soup, they always add an extra “heartiness”. The celery and onions also were fresh from the garden.
The recipe also called for tomato paste, which I added because I have an tube of it in my fridge that I need to use. You could replace with fresh chopped tomatoes, tomato puree or canned chopped tomatoes but would with puree or chopped tomatoes, reduce some of the water.
Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup (Zuppa di ceci e bietole)
Swiss Chard 1 Bunch
Chickpeas 600g (cooked or canned)
Purple Onion 1 small
Celery 2 medium size stalks
Tomato paste/concentrate 1 Tablesoon
Salt 1 teaspoon
Vegetable bouillon cube 1
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Parsley Flakes 1 teaspoon
Water 5 cups (enough to almost cover the vegetables)
Olive Oil 1/4 cup (just do it- it makes the soup delicious)
In large soup pot (I used my Le Crueset), add olive oil. Chop onion, carrots, celery, turn heat medium low and add veggies, stirring occasionally. Cover. Chop potatoes. Add potatoes to veggie mix and stir. Cover. Chop Swiss chard. Add chard to veggies and potatoes, stir. Add water, look to see how much water you need, adjust to your preference. If you want a more stew-like soup, add less, for a more brothy soup, add more.
Add bouillon cube, parsley, and salt. Stir. Turn heat up til high and cover. Once boiling, let boil for a minute then turn heat to low and simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Serve piping hot with a chunk of fresh bread.
The weather has been warming up and the spring vegetables are coming in season in my in-laws garden. I love lentils and usually make a huge batch of them at one time then portion them and freeze them. I had defrosted 3 bags of lentils, I used two to make a lentil soup and had one bag I needed to use. I used a small portion of the lentils to make the kids “pasta e lenticche” (pasta with lentils, a typical Neapolitan dish).
For our lunch, I made a lentil salad. The fresh scallions and sage from my in-laws garden inspired me to make this salad.
Lentil Salad with Scallions, Cherry Tomatoes and Fried Sage
Brown lentils 400 grams (precooked or canned)
Scallions 1 or 2 (depending on your taste preference)
Cherry Tomatoes 10
Red pepper flakes a pinch (adjust to you taste)
Olive Oil 8 tablespoons (divided)
Balsamic Vinegar 1 tablesoon
Salt to your taste
Fresh sage – 8 leaves
Parsley Flakes – 1/2 teaspoon
In a small frying pan, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, low to medium heat. Wash the fresh sage and pat dry. Fry sage for a few minutes, stirring or swirling it a few times, until it becomes fragrant and crisp but not burnt.
Place lentils in on a serving plate or bowl. Wash and chop scallions, wash and chop the tomatoes into fourths, add to the lentils, add red pepper, salt, and parsley flakes. Measure out 5 tablespoons of olive oil pour over the lentils. Add balsamic vinegar to the lentils. Mix the salad. Place the fried sage leaves on top of the lentils. Serve at room temperature with fresh bread.
Enough with blogging about our life in quarantine for now. I want to take a different direction, to something we love doing in our house – cooking. In our time in quarantine, I have been cooking a lot. We’ve made focaccia from scratch, cakes, and croissants from scratch.
Last night, my mother-in-law gave me some fresh green beans. I had pesto and a few potatoes left so I made a recipe I’ve always wanted to try, linguine with pesto alla Genovese. This simple dish combines linguine pasta (or spaghetti) with potatoes, pesto and pesto. My kids also loved this pasta, they can be picky eaters and both ate this quickly and finished off their plates (for them I topped it with freshly grated parmesan cheese). This is a delicious meal made in the Spring when green beans are in season.
Linguine con Pesto alla Genovese
250 g potatoes
200 g fresh green beans
1 jar of prepared pesto
220 g linguine, spaghetti or bavette pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is boiling, wash the potatoes and green beans. Cut off the end of the green beans and peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into small chunks. Add the potatoes and green beans to the pot of boiling water.
Let the potatoes and green beans cook in the boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes. You don’t want the potatoes to get too soft. Salt the boiling water (1 teaspoon) .Add the pasta to the same pot as the potatoes and green beans and cook according to the “al dente” directions on the package (mine was for 10 minutes). Check the pasta to see if it is “al dente”, which means to the tooth, the pasta should be chewy, it should have a bite but not hard.
When the pasta is “al dente”, drain the water. Return the pasta, potatoes and green beans back to the pot and add the jar of pesto. Mix it well so all of the pasta is covered. Serve hot (topped with parmesan if you like, not traditional but still good!).
It’s April 2nd, the second month of quarantine begins. A week ago the governor of Campania said that quarantine in Campania would be extended until April 14th and last night the president extended the federal quarantine until April 14th. He said he doesn’t know what will happen April 14th, the situation has to be reevaluated closer to that day. The situation in Italy seems to be improving, the number of new cases has gone down every day as well as the number of deaths (though that number is still alarmingly high).
We’ve created a bit of routine at home. The morning they do a bit of school work, color, and play. We go outside if it isn’t raining. We eat lunch and watch a Disney movie. We go back outside or paint, play, and watch something educational on Nat Geo Kids before they take baths, eat dinner and get ready for bed. The kids’ mental health is fine, they are happy.
I’m fine but I miss being able to leave go grab a coffee at the bar, to have the possibility to take my kids with me to the supermarket or to the park. They’ve asked many times about going to the park. I’m nervous we won’t be able to go to the US this summer. I’m nervous about the uncertainty of my work at this moment. I still haven’t been paid for February, my boss is angry with me for telling a parent about the lack of salary to help them understand why I wasn’t sending much homework.
There’s nothing that can be done at this moment and I find calm in knowing that we have all we need, my husband’s job is secure. I take each day by day.
Yesterday was cold and windy but I still bundled up the kids and took them outside to play. They had a great time throwing rocks, sticks and leaves in the puddles. Today it’s warmer and less windy so hopefully we will spend more time outside. I’m also going to try to get 10,000 steps today somehow! I’ll do circles around my apartment all day.
The weekend passed quickly. Saturday the kids played outside a little and we made pizza in the evening for dinner. I did an online yoga class with my studio back in Illinois, it’s a nice way to connect with them.
Sunday, the kids played outside some more and Felicity and I made croissants. The days always feel more or less the same. The only changes are if it rains and we can’t get outside for awhile. The fresh air really helps the day pass easier and the kids are less restless if they get time to run around outside.
I am trying the stay upbeat as possible but the days can be very long and boring. The governer has Campania has extended the quarentine until April 14, but the federal government has not extended it past April 3rd, yet. I don’t think things will go back to normal even April 14. Now as I write this I can hear the police driving around with loud speakers telling people to stay inside.
Nothing has changed here, the days pass. It’s been raining the past few days so we haven’t even been able to go outside like we were last week. The kids have spent their days playing, watching Disney movies, painting, and doing a little bit of “school work”. I have read a few books since we’ve been in quarantine. I read when the kids watch a movie or if they’re busy playing by themselves. Yesterday was cold enough that there was snow on top of Vesuvius in the morning.
I went out yesterday to the supermarket, I was very happy to find the last two remaining sachets of yeast. It’s become such a hot item here. The supermarket was stocked well this time, nothing was in shortage, except yeast.
There has been a local case here, of a man who works/owns a nearby “salumeria” or deli. Umberto went there last Friday and of course had contact with the man, everyone had gloves and masks on of course. I’m assuming they stayed a meter apart. When he got home, Umberto told me the man had a bad cough. He tested positive two days ago. For now, Umberto is working from home, self isolation for two weeks. But Umberto is fine, we are fine, no one has showed any symptoms yet. The governor of Campania has extended quarantine until April 14, the situation will be the reevaluated in two weeks.. The number are climbing in Campania, not exponentially like in the North, but there are at least 100 new cases a day.
I am truly shocked by how the US is handling this situation. People still go to restaurants for take out, drive around from big box store big box store. Some seem to think it’s a hoax. Trump thinks it will all be over by April 12. The number have surpassed China in the US. They need much stricter measures to be taken. It’s terrifying to watch this explode in the US. Italy was scary, but I think the US will be hit worse, much worse.