Once upon a time in Texas, there was a girl with an appetite and a dream...


I HATE it when people tell me I look like Heidi Klum

Seeing those horrible pictures of me that I posted the other day, I wanted to share with you all one of my better shots that was taken of me on the beach last year. It's not the best, but it'll do, I guess.

You didn't know that I was on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Well, I don't like to brag. People started telling me that I needed to put on a few pounds, so I took up frequent gelato consumption, because the "toned and tanned" thing just wasn't me. I must say that it has worked like a charm...


Ima gonna stalk her like there's no tomorrow...

Because now, I know where she lives. Anyway, it'll give me something to do now that I'm not working.

JUST KIDDING Nicky! Don't you worry, I don't "stalk," per se, I badger. If it bothers you too much, just get a restraining order like the rest of them.

So, today I met my new friends Carlo and Nicky. Nicky has a great blog called The Life I Chose (what a great title, we all make choices, don't we?) where she talks about her fabulous life in Positano. But I'm not going to tell you any more about her blog--you'll have to satisfy your curiosity by visiting here.

What a first impression I made! She approached me on the street as I was madly waving at every passing couple on a motorcycle. She must have thought I was crazy!

Here is the other pic...

That would be the very pretty Nicky next to the stiff smiling android that has taken over my body.

And that picture at the top is of us in front of Mt. Vesuvius.

I am happy to report that they made it back to Positano safely after a near miss with a truck and I look forward to seeing them again. Besides, the psychiatrist said that I am much more socially functional now that I am taking my meds!


What I Love About Italy

La Cucina Italiana

no one EVER asks me if i know how a donkey bites a corn cob

food dogma**

hitchhiking nuns


cobblestone streets



nutella for breakfast...mmmm

FRESH, natural, local produce around every corner

crazy people**

the Mediterranean Sea...aahhh

bread is not from the devil

everyone knows that eating a kilo of mozzarella every day is a healthy habit

ciao bella!

wine! beautiful, lovely wine!

Gucci motorcycle helmets**

pizza is a "light" meal

miles and miles and miles of coastline

plates and plates and plates of fresh seafood

acres and acres and acres of vineyards

€20 leg/bikini waxes

four-hour lunch breaks

my inner hand-talker has at last found acceptance

being mad in Italian

Law and Order in Italian

life in Italian**

(**As much as they are endearing, these things can also be very very irritating--a unique, carefully-crafted Italian talent.)


I needs me a job

30 year college graduate seeking work. Preferably, job must be high-paying, with little or no office time or work-from-home time. Must require no effort, physical, mental, or otherwise. I will be accepting interviews only from employers in the "no boss" sector.
*I am an enthusiastic sunbather
*I love to dine in good restaurants
*I have a distinct ability to nap at any given moment and I am very tenacious in my efforts to stay asleep
*I am a highly dedicated smart-ass
*I have an unparalleled love for prosciutto
*I am assertive with my opinions regarding wine consumption, odd behavior of Italians, and whether or not Martha Stewart annunciates her Ts out of correctness or pretension.
I would be an obvious asset to any company seeking individuals who have mastered the art of an eloquent, intelligent happy hour debate about why Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston, as well as a honed skill for imitating Donald Trump.
If you are a passive employer who needs to fill a position in your company with someone as qualified as me, please call immediately, as long as it is not before noon, or during the hours of Law and Order (original and SVU), E.R., or The Bachelor.


You know it's hard out here for a boat...

I took these last week when we went to Ischia for the day. You can see that it is still cloudy, it's still Spring, and that boat has no one to play with.

Despite a collective effort from the locals to stop her, Tracie once again chose sepia...


The Real Primavera

This is the truth about Spring In Southern Italy. Flowers and clouds...and rain...and clouds. Oh, and cold.

Just another month, or so...The flowers will have long fallen from the trees but the clouds will give way to a sunny sky.

and fresh green beans
and fresh fava
and cherries
and peas
and prosciutto...but there's always prosciutto. I suffer a mild obsession with the swine and feel I need to mention it in every single post, almost.


I think it's time we focus on what really matters

I am so sick of hearing about the war in Iraq and starving people. Everywhere I turn all I hear and read is "should we pull out of Iraq?" or "what are we doing about the people in Darfur?"

I don't wish to scold, but I am very disappointed to read and hear such superficial drivel when there are REAL issues happening in this world such as the battle between the likes of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey or the debate over whether or not green is the new pink. Speaking of starving people, who will decide if Lindsay Lohan is anorexic or just working out if we don't start a dialogue?

I would suggest that you all stop perpetuating such shallow discourse focused on the "war" in "Iraq," and begin to "concentrate" on the "more important issue" of your upcoming spring wardrobe.


Mama needs a new pair of shoes

I have decided to put advertising on my site. You may have noticed the public service banner that has turned into advertisements for whatever the Google robot has deemed relevant to my site. (I'm not sure how well the robot can read, because first thing this morning I had an ad in Italian for the Italian Communist Party. Lawd knows I don't be talken bout no politiks on this herr new fangled blawg thangy.)

Anyway, don't be alarmed! I have simply sent my blog to work the corner and I'll be here to slap it and tell it to give me my money.



Living Dangerously

I was scolded today, much like I have been scolded on many other occasions for "having my feet on the floor," or walking around with bare feet in the house. Yes, I'm living dangerously today. Mind you, I had only to walk a total of 5 steps to the bathroom, and I couldn't find my house shoes.

Here in Naples, throwing caution to the wind to walk around with naked feet is likely to cause a vast assortment of diseases, all of which end in horrible death by bronchitis. In fact, the Naples chapter of Old Wives International is conspiring to blame the rising rate of cancer on the increase in "foot-to-floor" contact.

Just the other day I heard a story told by a sweet old lady about death by cold-foot.

But, in the end, not being one to argue, I have learned that it is best to avoid the incredulous stares, gasps of horror, and subsequent hail marys that my flippant American foot behavior seems to provoke, and wear the shoes that will eventually save my life.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go rest. I think I am getting a fever...

(Tune in for next week's all new compelling episode of "Living Dangerously" when the cavalier American Tracie leaves her wet hair in a towel for 30 minutes.)


Italy: Romance vs. Reality

People often fall in love with Italy after a brief vacation or 2. It is certainly easy to do, and I am speaking from experience. A couple of women have recently mentioned to me that they feel the pull of Italy as well, but they are not sure if they just have a romanticized idea of what Italian life means, or if they would be disappointed by the reality of it.

Italy definitely has its quirks, but if you love it, you deal. Its kind of like being in love with a man...at first he is perfect! You can't live without him! Eventually though, we learn that he farts regularly in his sleep and has stinky feet, but that smile that we first fell for never changes and we accept the whole package because nothing in life is perfect.

Yes, living in Italy is very much like that. It just depends on how bad the farts are--we all have our own levels of tolerance.

To all of you out there considering changing your life:
I can only remind you that you will never know until you try.


'Mpepata di Cozze

That's Peppered Mussels. The spelling is in the Napoletano dialect, as it is a typical dish from 'round these parts. It is splendid simplicity as its most Italian!

I won't give a recipe, so to speak, as it is too easy to require the strain I would put on my brain trying to figure out how many mussels go for each person, all while converting into the metric kilo and back to pounds.

So, here is the procedure:
Find the absolute freshest** mussels that you can, and get as many as you need for the number of people you want to serve. Scrub them and let them sit in salty water long enough to open and expel any sand they might be clinging to. (I like to call the sand a little piece of home...) This should all take about 45 minutes with a couple of changes of water.

Drain all of the water and put them directly into a deep pan or pot and turn the heat to med or med high. For this preparation, there is no need for added liquid. Cover the pot and let them cook for about 10 minutes, or until all mussels have opened. It may take more or less time, just keep an eye on them, as soon as they are open, they're done.

Take the mussels out (discarding any mussel that hasn't opened), put them into a bowl, and ladle the liquid over (there will be liquid from the mussels themselves). Douse them with tons of FRESHly ground black pepper and squeeze lemon juice on top. It really is that simple...

**Dishes like this are so good here because the quality and freshness of the seafood is spectacular. (If you can find wild mussels where you are, splurge!! There is no comparison to the cultivated ones.) Just try to find the best mussels that you can--they should smell a little sweet and seawater-briny, like a piece of underwater heaven. If you should happen upon a "turdy" smell, go somewhere else. (I am sorry, but that is the best way to describe it, turdy. Very unpleasant...in a turdy kind of way.)

Now, if you don't go get the white wine, get in that kitchen, and start cookin', I won't be giving you any more recipes... ;)


I love the smell of Tex-Mex in the morning

You know what I miss? A good chorizo and potato breakfast taco with really hot salsa from Taco Shack. People here often react with esophageal spasms when I tell them stories of eating a good, hearty Tex-Mex breakfast.

In fact, if what Italians eat for breakfast doesn't have "high fructose corn syrup" as it's first ingredient and cream, lard, and straight-to-blood glucose as it's following ingredients it is just not acceptable.

My niece and nephew thought that I had died and gone to live in heaven when I told them that Italian children get to eat cookies and cake for breakfast. It's true, I tell you.

How do they do this? These sweet breakfasts are not very substantial, and in Naples you don't eat lunch until around 2:00. I AM READY TO EAT THE WORLD by 11:30 most days! I have asked many a person how one can eat a couple of cookies at breakfast and have no problem waiting until 2 to eat?? Typical response, "I don't understand how people eat at noon." (?!?) Because slow death from starvation coupled with near-death fainting can make a girl want to do something crazy like eat at noon, THAT'S WHY.

A spicy protein breakfast, though, has the magical power to tide me over for at least 3 hours.

Am I complaining that occasionally I am forced to eat a hot nutella-filled croissant for breakfast lest I seem rude to refuse what has been lovingly baked at the local pasticceria? Would I dare say that a big, warm, whole-milk cappucino isn't just what I need to get me going sometimes? Would I lie and say that I don't enjoy the way the cookies get all half-mushy and half-crunchy IN that cappucino?

Absolutely not.

All I am saying is that you can take a girl out of Texas, but she'll still want a little piece of home every now and then.


No snow? No Problem!

The Napoletani (Neapolitans) learn to be resourceful at a very young age.
Scrap wood + stairs = sleddin' fun


Things I love about Napoli

There’s vesuvius, looming symbol of Naples. It stands as an anchor to the city, forever to remind us of the history it has made and the future it will surely affect…but hopefully, not anytime soon...


Let's give credit where it is due

Lesson #36.1b, Things Italian:

I have done a very scientific survey and I found out that most Americans have a vague notion that Nutella is Swiss, or maybe French. I will not tolerate this ignorance any longer. NUTELLA IS ITALIAN, by lordy be. It is made in Piedmont where hazelnuts grow in abundance on the hills not superior enough for nebbiolo. The factory is in Alba. I have seen it clearly with my very own myopic eyeballs, thank you very much.

Just doin' my job folks.