Archive | August, 2013

a summer hike on a volcano {Mt Etna}


A couple of weeks ago, we invited our friends the Arthurs to go on a hike on Mt Etna with us.  I’ve mentioned this active local volcano before; we often see her erupting out our kitchen window!  We love hiking on her slopes because the air is so much cooler and the flowers are so beautiful in the spring, summer, and fall.  In the winter this part of the trail would be covered in snow.

(Also, before I go any farther, my apologies for all the pictures… I just couldn’t resist!  I had over 200 to begin with, so you really are just getting the best of the best.  Hope you all enjoy this hike with me all over again through the images!)


Ladybugs and nose picking… when it comes to two-year-olds, they go together so well!


The coarse volcanic ash can fill up shoes quickly… and lead to gorgeous vegetation like these flowers, whose perfume filled the air.

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Showing Miss Becca a ladybug that she found.

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Pine cones are one thing you can’t find very easily in Sicily.  Tantrums, unfortunately, are easy to find everywhere.

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Lena was pleased as punch that the Arthurs had some goldfish to share with her.

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Elliott’s sister Jess took a photo like the one on the left when we hiked this trail with her last summer.  I was pregnant with Gil then, and now he’s a 6-month-old baby!


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Men dislodging and chucking lava.  Aphids on a branch.


Sweet baby Eden.

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One of the very few pictures we have together!


They were building mini Mt Etnas.

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Finally at the end of our hike!  To the right is the huge valley where the lava flows during eruptions.  The peak of Mt Etna herself is hidden in the clouds to the right.

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New family photo!


Looking down towards the Plain of Catania and the sea… mostly lost in the haze.


And a cheesy farewell to Mt Etna on the right… :-)

12 :: in friends, hiking, Mt Etna

in my beach bag


We’ve been spending a lot of time at the pool and beach this summer, whether it’s an hour away or just down the road… or on our balcony.  (More about that later.)  Here are a few things in our beach bag this summer:

1. Hats for everyone!  We love our newest sun hat, a present from Uncle Charlie (similar here).  We also love hats from H&M: usually about $5 each and so cute.

2. This infant sunscreen has been a staple in our home since Lena was born.  It is extremely well-rated by the Environmental Working Group, which is the deciding factor in our house when we buy infant skincare products.

3. A hat for mom.  I got mine at a tacky tourist shop on vacation and have loved it for all kinds of outings, even hikesSimilar here (but with a pink band!).

4. Lena’s swim suit is so much cuter than this Zara suit, but I can’t find her suit online.  I love the classic look… and I’m a sucker for stripes!

5. Beach read for me.  I’m forever trying to catch up on this magazine.  It relaxes and inspires me… but, to Elliott’s frustration, I almost never make or cook anything from it!  Gotta work on that.  I earned a free subscription here.

6. Toy for Gil.  This is my favoriteof all his toys.  Sand doesn’t stick to wooden toys like it does to some others.

7. Puddle Jumper floatie for Lena.  She loves this thing and so do we!  We got it for her last summer when she was about 18 months, and our friend Elise (age 6) has tried it out and loved it too.  Every time I go to the pool, some mom asks me where I got it because they see how happy and comfortable Lena is in the water.  Highly, highly recommended.

And I forgot to add this one to the collection above, but perhaps our favorite beach/pool item this summer is our inflatable pool$8 on Amazon— that we literally use every day.  We put it out on our balcony, plop the kids in it, and they go to town!  Add a couple of plastic cups and bowls, or some bath toys, or even water balloons… and you’ve got some refreshingly wet fun ahead of you.

What is helping you stay cool (and cute!) this summer?

4 :: in gift guide, wishlist



I always felt like every year in college was totally different from the year before… almost like I was attending a different school each time.  Some things stayed the same — the Lawn, mochas in the library, and tried and true friends that I’d had since school started — but everything else shifted.  New faces became dear and familiar.  A new house or roommate changed my living experience.  New professors or classes changed my school experience.  New organizations or clubs (or friends to enjoy a slow glass of red wine with) changed my social life.

All these things made each year entirely different than the last.

Real life is like this, military life especially.  Every year people arrive.  You might even add a new baby to your family… how’s that for major transition!

I am feeling the crunch of transition right now.  I looked at my “Favorites” list of numbers in my phone and realized all those friends have moved away.  (Well, except my husband, thank goodness.)  At my women’s Bible study in the fall, I will only know about 5 people there instead of 20; everyone else has moved away. The friends that we have loved and relied upon since Day 1 in Sicily are no longer here.

And suddenly we’ve turned into the old fogies.  We’re now the ones who speak the most Italian (what?!), the ones who know the best places to eat here, the ones who know where to park there, the ones who can lead the caravan of friends’ cars instead of follow it, the ones who can say, “Well, two years ago winter storms killed the orange blossoms, but last winter it wasn’t so bad, and so I think the blood oranges will be plentiful this year.”

(^ dork alert ^)

Suddenly, even more frighteningly, I am the one who needs to welcome, invite, include, initiate.  I have always been on the other end of this, first as the newbie and then as just a friend.  Now there are so many people who need me, who need to be found, who need to be befriended, who need another mom who will suggest we pack multiple children into hot cars and head off on a mid-week adventure, just because it’s Sicily and why not?!

Can I love as I have been loved?  Can I — with mere months left here — hold open my arms and say, “Hi!  Want to be my friend?  Are you free on Thursday?”

Last night Elliott and I were praying together, and I prayed that we would “make room” in our lives for new friends.  I called this blog “Making Room” because we want this to be a habit in our lives: welcoming people into our home, offering friends and travelers our guest room, having new and old friends over to dinner, participating in Bible studies/community groups that include whole families in each other’s houses, seeking out needs of others and clearing our schedules so that we can meet these needs.

We’re not good at this.  We confront our own selfishness (or busyness, or introverted-ness, or exhaustion, or internal strife… this is a safe space!) every day.  When faced with these frustrations, we usually choose to make excuses instead of making sacrifices.  We choose self over service every day.

But thankfully, we have two things to combat our selfishness and help us “make room” this year.

The first is that we serve a God who not only made room for us in His Kingdom but gave life to us, welcoming us just as we were and then gently and faithfully continuing to sanctify us year by year.

The second is that we have had wonderful examples.  So many friends here have opened up their lives, homes, refrigerators, minivans, and hearts for us, welcoming us just as we were.  They have never assumed anything of us, other than that we’d like to be included.  They have made this strange and wonderful land a home for us, a place we love because they loved it first and showed us why.

Can we do this for others?  Can we seek out the newcomers and tell them what we’ve learned?  Can we catch them before they escape after church, shy and overwhelmed, and ask them about themselves?  Can we get their numbers and invite them to dinner?  Can we take them to our favorite beaches, pizzerias, hiking trails, and agriturismi?

Can we love as we have been loved?

12 :: in friends, military life, my faith, Sicily, thoughts

Marzamemi, a Sicilian seaside village


On our way home from the beach a couple of weeks ago, we decided to visit a sweet little seaside town called Marzamemi (mar-tzah-may-mee).  Once the most important tuna processing plant on the island, it now relies more on tourism than on tuna.  We visited just as the sun was setting and the colors of the town came alive.

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Local specialties: tuna and sundried tomatoes in olive oil.  I could not get enough of the tomatoes… yum! becca-garber-marzamemi-sicily-4



Artisans set up tables of handmade pottery, jewelry, and friendship bracelets (are they the rage everywhere now??) along the harbor.



There were so many boys selling toys on these rolling metal frames.  Lena was bedazzled by them, particularly the balloons.  There’s something in her eyes when she sees a balloon that just makes me want to buy one for her every time!   (But we don’t.)


Catching crabs.




Simple dinner: arancini and pizza.  Arancini (Sicilian rice balls) are usually stuffed with things like prosciutto and cheese, but these were stuffed with salmon, mixed seafood, and squid.  The black one had squid ink in it!


Gil was so determined to get a mouthful of the squid arancino!  In the main piazza of the town, Elliott and Lena danced to music as people set up for a concert later that night.


Elliott listened to the music playing in the piazza and said, “This sounds familiar, like the theme song to The Last of the Mohicans or something like that.”  I Shazam’d it on my phone… and he was right.  Wowzers.


Love the single turquoise chair.


Couldn’t leave without a cupful of this!


Goodnight, Marzamemi!

4 :: in pretty places, Sicily, travel

new favorites in my kitchen


When my mom visited in March, she brought Lena these two “mini spatulas” for when she helped me in the kitchen.  I don’t know quite how it happened, but one day I found myself using them myself… and I’ve been using them daily ever since!

Of course, if I’d seen these in a store, I would have thought, “How cute!” and walked right on by.  (Part of my “just say no” spending strategy, maybe?)  But I would have totally underestimated their power.

These little spatulas get in all the nooks and crannies of child-sized dishes, blenders, food processors, and those hard-to-reach spots where you spilled batter on the pan in between the cupcakes.  They’re light and easy to maneuver, unlike my other spatulas… which I also love but now hardly ever use.



Who would have thunk it?  You can get mine on Amazon here OR get an even prettier set with better ratings here.

What’s your latest and greatest kitchen gadget?

P.S. Thanks, Mom! :)

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7 :: in in my kitchen

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