Tag Archives: california

Indoor gardening

When we moved from Orange County, we gave away all of our house plants.  While I am a horrid gardener, I love plants. Succulents, mostly, because it is hard to kill them off. I hated giving away our plants, as they all had a special meaning for me.  There was the succulent that was the first houseplant we bought for our condo in Newport Beach.  The basil, oregano, and tomato plants that I used for fresh pasta sauce.  The money tree and jade plant that my dad bought for me for my baby shower.    The mini cactus garden that Giuseppe brought home for me when we moved to our apartment in Tustin, right before Paolo was born.  The aloe plant that my mom gave to me when she came to visit before the baby was born.

Since moving to IOWA, we haven’t yet really rebuilt our house plant inventory.  It’s not as easy to find succulents here, as they are not native to this climate.  I believe that having indoor green plants is very important for the air quality of our living space, so I have started my search for some new house plants. I looked at some local stores over the weekend, but wasn’t able to find anything that I wanted to purchase.  I was inspired to start researching on which plants were the best for indoor air purification, and wrote about it this morning on our Angelberry Organics website, here.

Our home doesn’t really boast a lot of direct sunlight. The apartment has a lot of natural light, but not exactly direct sunlight.  I have found that the best air purifying plants that also do not require direct sunlight seem to be ferns and dracaena.  I also really like bamboo and lilies, so I may try those out as well.  Hopefully I can keep them alive.

It looks like we may have to take a trip to the local gardening center today.


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As most of you have probably already read, last week I did a guest post exchange with one of my blogisphere friends, Liz, of a belle, a bean & a chicago dog. I thought I would re-post my article from her site today.  I started this blog as a cyber scrap book of sorts and I think that this post definitely belongs in the book.


A big part of my life the past few years has been the state-hopping Craig and I have been doing.  But believe it or not, I happen to have a bloggy friend, Brook, who is even MORE of a gypsy than me.

It is in the spirit of relocation that Brook and I are guest posting on each other’s blogs today!  Brook also happens to be the first guest writer I’ve had the honor of hosting!

Please welcome the lovely Brook, and make sure to relocate over to her place to check out my guest post, A Baby For Every State!


Greeting, BB&CD readers!  My name is Brook Dell’Anna and I write at baby&sofia.  I “met” Liz a few months ago when I started to read her hilarious blog.  We since have become blogisphere friends and have bonded over our shared experience of moving about the country.

My parents both hail from the Great Midwest. My mother was born and raised in Minnesota; my father is from Iowa.  They met at a small Catholic university in Iowa.  Not too much longer after that, they were married and I was born.  Not too much longer after that, my parents made the decision that they were ready to leave the Great Midwest.

It was the mid-1980s and the economy was not doing so hot.  After weighing all post-college opportunities, my dad decided to try out his sea legs and joined the Navy.  We moved across the country to New England, where Dad completed Officer Candidate School while Mom and I learned our way around Newport, Rhode Island.  It’s funny how I can still vividly remember the gorgeous trees that turned into the most brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red that autumn.

From Newport, we moved all over the country for my Dad’s career.  We traveled up and down the East Coast, then hopped over to Hawaii, then back to the Mainland to live on the West Coast for awhile before returning back East. I ended up going to college in Maryland, and while I was in college, my family moved to Italy. Which was spectacular.  (Did I mention that is where I met my amazing husband?) Joining the Navy ended up being one of the best things that my Dad ever did for our family.

When I was in college, I realized that I have gypsy blood. I think now that it must be genetic.  My parents are still always looking for their next adventure; after Italy, they moved back to Hawaii, and are now planning the next chapter in their lives.  They are usually on the move, looking for a new, exciting experience to add to the history of their lives.

As an adult, I have lead a “Navy” lifestyle without ever actually joining.  During college, I spent as much time as I could in Europe, passing summer and winter vacations there and taking a semester to study in Rome. Ten days after graduation, with my Political Science degree in hand, I was back in southern Italy ready to take it all in.  I loved every minute of the chaos that is Naples and fell deeply in love with my Italian soon-to-be-hubby.

Living in Naples provided a unique set of challenges for me. I am, by nature, very adaptable; but I am also very opinionated. So I was open to Italian culture; I sincerely love both the language and the culture, and dedicated myself to absorb as much as possible. Which I did; I speak Italian fluently and am pretty well-versed in the intricacies of Italian life.   I mean, heck, I married a Neopolitan man.  You don’t get much more traditional than that.  I, however, also held onto my opinions.  Which was tricky.  I loved shopping at the local markets, teaching in an Italian school, and spending time with my in-laws. But I still held onto my personal belief system and sometimes projected it on those around me.  It is funny, though, because while I was there, I felt so strongly about holding onto my American values. Now that I am back in the States, I realized that I really did adopt an European outlook, and have managed to blend both the American and Italian influences in my life.  (As in I cook three fresh meals every day, but cannot make it to the market each day. Costo remains an important part of my life.)

After Naples, my husband and I moved to sunny southern California.  Which we love love loved.  The breezy, sun-shiny days that we spent strolling along the ocean were simply picturesque.  While we worked longer hours, we still managed to enjoy every moment of the sun and the ocean.

After about two years of California bliss, we decided to move yet again.  In March of this year, Giuseppe was offered a position at Iowa State University, so off we went.  The movers came and went, and then our road trip began. Giuseppe, five-month-old Paolo, and I drove across the country to our new home.  It was actually an amazing trip. We stopped in Arizona, at the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Denver, and Omaha. It was the Great American Road Trip for Italian hub-a-lub.  He loved it.

So, here we are, modern-day gypsies.  I was raised a gypsy, but my husband definitely was not. We’ll call him the gypsy-convert. Most of his family live within 20 minutes of each other, and moving to say, a neighboring city, is a very big deal.  (So you can imagine their surprise when we hopped over “the pond” and then over to the Pacific coast of America.)  While I do one day envision myself setting down in one place and growing some serious roots, I enjoy every moment of our gypsy adventure. I guess I can thank my parents for that.  Hopefully, Paolo will feel the same way one day.

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May has been an especially dreary month here in Iowa.  April’s showers have brought May’s flowers, but they are stealing May’s thunder. Literally. While everything is very green, it’s also been very rainy and stormy.  I’m sure that June will much warmer and much sunnier.  (Or so I am told.)

A couple weeks ago, to escape the dreariness of the season, I went to the Botanical Gardens of Des Moines with my aunt, two cousins, and Paolo. I was very impressed; the gardens were beautiful.  They were built inside an enormous dome made of insulated glass, so it felt like you were outside, only nice and warm.

I got a dose of my favorite plants, succulents. I just love succulents; maybe because they are the only plants that survive my care.  I plan to pick some up at Trader Joe’s this weekend in Minneapolis for our apartment.  Anyway, here are a few shots I took with the camera on my cell phone at the Gardens.

Oh, and there was the most adorable turtle hanging out, too:


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My sister-in-law, Cristiana, snapped these photos of Paolino while she was in London and we were here, in the heartland of the USA.  Isn’t Skype amazing?

Our family is pretty much spread out all over the globe. My parents live in Hawaii, which is exactly 12 time zones away from Giuseppe’s parents, who live in Naples, Italy.  My baby brother still lives with my parents (he’s 14) and so does Giuseppe’s (he’s 17).  My other brother lives in the glorious city of San Diego, and Giuseppe’s sister lives in the gorgeous city of London.  Then, there are all of the extended relatives.  (My parents both come from families with 9 children each; Giuseppe’s parents have 7 siblings total.)  So you can imagine the chaos when trying to organize family reunions…or even telephone calls.

Oh the glory of videochat. We are absolutely addicted to it. Paolo even loves it. How many 6-month-olds do you know who recognize the ringing sound that Skype makes? Mine sure does. He starts to wave his arms and legs around when he hears it.  Then the drooling and giggling starts when he hears one of his grandparents’ voices.

Having this kind of technology at our fingertips has been a true blessing.  While our families are all spread out, we can still retain the close relationships similar to those  families who live in close proximity to one another.  Granted, it is different from actually being with that family member; but it is amazing to be able to virtually talk to them in person.

This all makes me think back to my experience, being the daughter of a naval officer and always living far from our relatives.  It was hard to be away, but at the same time, it made me appreciate the time that I spent with my relatives on special occasions.  When I compare this to the experience of my child, it is incredible.  I know that he will value beyond measure the time that he will pass with his relatives, but being able to keep those relationships fresh via videochat is simply amazing.  I know that our parents love being able to watch him grow, even when they live across the planet.  Technology today is truly amazing.  (Should I say ‘amazing’ one more time…? I really think Skype is AMAZING.)


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Day One: Dell’Anna Family Road Trip Adventure

I am happy to report that Day One of our cross-country adventure was a complete success.  We left Orange County all packed and ready with our baby, dog, suitcase, stroller, diaper bag, car seat, baby bag, dog kennel, dog food container, nav system, ipod, camera, video camera, the list goes on… Did I mention we have a ‘backpack’ for our SUV? That is where we put the suitcase… We left after stopping for, of course, a scrumptious little lunch at In-N-Out.   (We are leaving the West Coast; we have to up on our In-N-Out intake while we can.)  Lucky for us, Paolo also fell asleep pretty much the same minute that we turned on the car.  He slept pretty soundly for the first half of the trip, which made the driving very easy.

We made our first pit stop not too far from the Arizona border at a gas station/Dairy Queen.  We were excited about the Dairy Queen part.  This ad made us laugh. It was actually an anti-advertisement, really:

I mean how gross is that? A giant close-up of fried food.  Really?  (Notice the three lighting fixtures to illuminate this mural by night.) Nice.  Although it didn’t stop us from going in to order some ice cream.   (We were totally on a roll today. In-N-Out and ice cream.   Delicious ways to hold on to my baby weight a little longer.  The good news is that we already have a gym membership in Iowa.)

I had forgotten how gorgeous the drive east really is.  As we left the Los Angeles area, the desert scenery grew increasingly beautiful.  We only scheduled about six hours of road time today, but it went by quite quickly!  Giuseppe loved the scenery; he has wanted to make this drive since we moved to California.  He was so excited to be on the Mojave Highway, and even more excited to see signs for the ‘Historic Route 66.’  I took a million photographs, but taking them from the car didn’t really help my already mediocre photography skills.  I wish the photos really showed the amazing beauty of this place.

Now we are all snuggled in our king size bed at our dog friendly hotel resting up for tomorrow’s trip to the Grand Canyon.


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Today is our last day in California. When we made the move here from Italy, I had not really planned on moving away, especially this quickly. And especially to the Midwest.   This move has been incredibly sudden, which has made it a bit more stressful that I had hoped it would be.  The past week has been a whirlwind of frantic activity, with ending my job, moving our household goods, and just basically taking care of business and tying up loose ends. Giuseppe has been great, running endless errands to get everything squared away.

After the movers came and went on Monday, we drove out to Huntington Beach to stay until Thursday.  I have had a few “California” days, strolling through Huntington with friends and family, going out on the pier, taking a quick shopping trip/visit to the Easter Bunny at South Coast Plaza.   It feels surreal to be leaving; I can’t really wrap my head around how quickly it is happening.

It has been very nice staying here, and I do not feel totally ready to leave. But tomorrow it is.  We are first driving down to San Diego to visit Zack and have brunch.  Then we will drive out to Arizona, where we will visit the Grand Canyon. Giuseppe is pretty excited to see it, and I am very glad to be revisiting. I think it  has been about 15 years since I was out there as a child.  The next stop will be Santa Fe, then Denver, Omaha, and finally Ames.   This road trip should actually be very beautiful and great time for us as a family.  We don’t really plan to drive more than 7 or so hours per day, and do plan to take longish breaks to let the baby stretch out and play.

Here’s to our new adventure.


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A California day

Our Sunday funday this week was a true California day.  We drove up to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market to meet friends and sample the goodies.  It was crowded, but a great time.  (Would you expect anything less from a SoCal event?)  Next, we had a long, leisurely, and delicious lunch at our beloved ristorante italiano, the Pizzeria Antica.  Which was amazing, of course.  To wind down the day, we played on the beach at Venice.


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Butterfly.com: Pumping, Working, and Family Bonding Time

Today I contributed to Butterfly: For Moms Who Want to Spread Their Wings.  Check it out here!

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