Nero Does it Again

And again. And again. People who own beagles know how single-minded beagles can be when it comes to food. I’m sure that Nero could learn a language or two if his meals depended on that. My furry kid is aging and slumbers by my side most of the day, but his appetite hasn’t decreased. Sometimes, the door leading to the pantry is left open—by terrible mistake—and his nose knows it almost right away. You can see him sneakily approaching the kitchen to reach the pantry and violate the garbage can. He dives inside of it, head first. Gruesome sight. Recently, due to the fact that he has gained some weight—and the afternoon walk doesn’t seem to help him losing it—we had to put him on a diet: same quantity of kibbles, but less calories. Much like a recovering addict, he has been on a food rampage ever since. Only in the last two days, Nero has started sniffing Ebelskiver Mix and cracked open a tube of anchovy paste. Today, displaying a physique I didn’t think he had anymore, he jumped at kitchen counter level and snatched a banana bread muffin cooling in its tray, without displacing the tray. Later, eyeing a pile of pizza pans on the table, he dragged the table cloth to land the pans on the floor where he could lick the crumbles of whatever we had baked on them. Where was I? Either in the bathroom, reading a book or upstairs in my studio, trying to write one. Don’t judge me.

When everything is said and done: Posthumous Photo Reportage

I guess I’ll have to buy a new can of mix…


I found him sniffing lines of white powder.


Then he rolled on the white powder. And yes, I realized after taking the pic, the Befana stockings where still there…


Finished the effect of the Ebelskiver Mix, Nero went for something stronger.

anchovy paste

After he had already devoured one muffin, he was on the prowl for the whole tray.



Are you looking at me? Are you looking at me? He seems to say. But, as you can see, he’s in very good shape right now.


Although, withdrawal is painful.


But, wait! He isn’t done yet.


Nero Does it Again

Friday Snippet #30

Here we are again. The fog is finally gone. It rained. In the attempt of keeping the headaches under control, I started a new exercise regime and I’m checking the daily calories intake. Still alive. My productivity isn’t back to normal, but I’m working on that.

From X:

Her nose caught a scent she didn’t like. “We can’t stay here.”

“Where to?”

“Out.” She pulled him out of the bed and a moment later they were already downstairs, having mindlessly run through the bedroom where they had slept, Clarissa’s bedroom, the hallway, and the stairs.

They were at the main door, when Julius stopped her. He brought one finger to his mouth and then pointed it at the shadows dancing behind the opaque glass composing the door panels.

At the same time, the smell she had barely perceived a few minutes earlier became too strong to ignore and Allegra gagged. She stepped back, her lungs burning and her heart racing. She looked right and left, but when he shook his head, she turned toward the large window overlooking the gardens.

“Yes.” Julius squeezed her hand and they ran to the back of the room.

Allegra was lowering the handle of the back door, when she heard the sound of the main door being forced.

“There must be a treasure inside.” A muffled voice. A crack.

Julius propelled her outside and then tore through the garden, only to stop a few minutes later behind a tall bush. “Looters.”

She had already reached that conclusion. Julius’s house was going to be violated as hers had been. She couldn’t help two tears to escape her control, but was fast in drying her eyes. The sound of broken glasses reached them and Julius startled. She resisted the urge of looking back at the house to see what was happening and looked straight ahead instead. The Royal Palace dominated the view on top of the hill. “Not sure where else to go.” So many questions unanswered and no time to think about anything.

He nodded and she moved forward.

Friday Snippet #30

Shrimps and Vegetables Cous Cous

Shrimps and Vegetables Cous Cous

Last week, we went out for dinner. Craving African food, we decided for a Moroccan restaurant that had good reviews. It was a disaster. The cous cous they served was appalling. The night after, I made some of my own to erase the memory of that disgrace from my taste buds.

What I had in my pantry:

2 cups of Whole Grain  Cous Cous

2 cups of Shrimps

Costco Vegetable Stir Fry (can’t remember the amount, but I tend to be generous with the vegetables in my cooking, 2 or 3 pounds at least)

Extra virgin olive oil (don’t ask don’t tell policy on the quantity)

1 tablespoon of Butter


Red Pepper (only if you like it hot)

Sriracha (because I like it hotter)

How I prepared the cous cous: 

I cooked the vegetables with some extra virgin olive oil (be your own conscience on the number of tablespoons…) and a pinch of salt, lowered the heat and covered the pan. Italians like their vegetables well cooked, but again you’ll decide the crispiness of your broccoli. I put the vegetables aside and started cooking the shrimps . After browning a clove of garlic in enough evoo (as previously stated), I removed it from the pan and added and salted the shrimps. Once done, I put them aside as well but kept the broth they left behind, which I enriched with a tablespoon of butter and some red pepper. I adjusted the quantity of liquids required by the cous cous by pouring two cups of water in the pan and incorporated the cous cous. Turned off the heat, stirred the cous cous and covered for a few minutes. Finally, I cut the shrimps in small pieces, and mixed all the cooked ingredients together. Once on the table, my husband and I decorated our plates with some Sriracha. My idea of comfort food when I’m in a hurry. Can’t believe a restaurant could screw up something so easy to make.

Shrimps and Vegetables Cous Cous

Second try with Painter

Lately, I  realized that although the rain doesn’t alter my mental health as other people proclaim, the fog definitely makes me less cheerful. Especially a week of thick, gray smog, followed by mild but persistent migraine. Not as productive as usual, I  decided to follow my husband’s suggestion to watch some tutorials to better understand Painter. I discovered a few things in the process, but I know I only scratched the surface. I tried several brushes and played around with the color palette. Clearly,  as reflected in the drawing’s title, I didn’t go for anything in particular.

Not Just A Lemon

Not Just a Lemon Paint.Net

Second try with Painter

Monday Drawings #12

Today, at 4:57 am, there was the first “Buh!” It was followed by a second “Buh!” and then by a string of swearwords in Italian. By 5:58, I had already consumed two espressos, but remembered I’m a lady. 8:15, I have posted a didl and even finished my first drawing with Painter. Definitely a great painting software. In case you are wondering, Nero is on the couch, blissfully sleeping the sleep of the content beagles.

Autunno Paint.Net

Monday Drawings #12

Friday Snippet #29

The fog is descending upon the houses outside my window. And it’s freezing cold. I don’t think Nero and I will go for a walk after all. Good news is my desk faces a big window. Also, it’s my mom’s birthday today. Have a wonderful 70th birthday, Mom. Love you.

From X:

“I was worried for you.” Julius moved the few steps from the wall to the bed and then sat on its edge, without coming any closer to her.

It wasn’t right. Touching for them was a necessity regulated by guide-and-guided code of conduct. Allegra felt his warmth and longed to reach out and take his hand, but she didn’t, which only increased the awkwardness. “Thank you.” Her voice came out too low.

But he had heard. “Of course.”

Of course he’s worried about me? Or what? “Couldn’t you sleep?”

“No. Do you mind if I stay with you for a while?”

She finally outstretched her hand and found his closer than she expected. “Can you help me relax?”

“Of course.” He moved on the bed to lie side by side with her, his head on the pillow, only a few inches from hers.

It wasn’t the first time they slept on the same bed. Before exams, they used to quiz each other the whole night. Sometimes, they did it just to prove they could without being caught. A few times, Allegra had asked him, like now, if he could ease her tension. Yet, now it was different.

She felt his gentle invasion at the edge of her thoughts. Spring and singing birds. The scent of washed linens drying outside. Warm breeze playing with her hair. Her eyes closed and she let him in.

“Something’s wrong.”

Words echoed in her head.

“Wake up.”

She turned the other side.


Hands turned her over.

“Smell the air.”

The request was repeated twice before she managed to open one eye and find Julius sitting on her bed. Memories of a few hours earlier rushed in. “What’s going on?” But she had already activated her senses. “I can’t feel her.” Clarissa’s smell was gone. She inhaled deeply and then shook her head. “I can’t feel any of them.”

Friday Snippet #29

Finger Painting

It isn’t just for kids anymore. If you have never tried the unaltered joy of drawing with your fingers on a touch screen, I strongly suggest you to start with the didlr app. Free your imagination and let colors and lines tell your story. Today, I was hungry and in the mood for Japanese cuisine. Below is my self-explanatory story.

Never Enough Sushi

Never Enough Sushi

Finger Painting

First Unofficial Reviews for The Prince’s Day Out!

My illustrated fairytale has already gathered several endorsement by important people in WP_001648the children’s book world. Two wonderful gentlekids, O. and R., were recently looking at one of my painted pumpkins and exclaimed, “It’s from The Prince’s Day Out!” It felt good to have my art recognized by two young readers.  

Also recently, my niece Marisa, who is studying psychology, was asked to write an essay on a children’s book and she chose The Prince’s Day Out. I was touched by what she had to say about it.

Here is a translated excerpt from Marisa’s essay:

Monica dedicates her fairytale to her children asking them, “Don’t ever stop dreaming”.

Thanks to this short story we can learn and understand fundamental values like hope, love between family members , and the determination to overcome obstacles…

Life is not always beautiful and easy as it looks. Unfortunately, bad things can happen and we have to react, to find the strength within ourselves to go forward, because if we really want to achieve something we must fight and never lose hope. Because life is a continuous challenge…

Thanks to this fairy tale we can understand how important it is to stimulate and develop our imagination, to be mentally more flexible, and imagine better worlds. We are reminded of the importance of a loving and supportive family, but also of the importance of  never lose hope!

It is said … “Dreams are wishes …” But we have to fight for our dreams, for what we believe, and do not let our dreams dry like tears on our pillows. We must try to make them a reality so that we earn our happiness…

Isn’t this the most amazing review, or what? And she’s barely 14!

First Unofficial Reviews for The Prince’s Day Out!