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Diane's Food Blog

Sangria is a pretty basic idea: wine plus fruit. But really good sangria, the kind that transports you to a tranquil café on a leisurely summer afternoon in Spain….that’s another story. And that story is told in this recipe. I have had some form of sangria many times, but never did it taste so good as at a little café in Barcelona, just behind the stunningly beautiful Sagrada Familia cathedral. In fact, it tasted so good that I asked how they made it, and I have been making it that way ever since.

Diane’s Sangria
1 bottle red wine (Spanish Tempranillo will taste the best)
1 C Martini & Rossi white vermouth
1½ C Fanta orange soda
½ C lemonade
Lemons, limes, and oranges (one or two of each, sliced)

Wash and slice the fruit. Pour all the liquids into a large container and add half of the sliced…

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Just visiting

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since my last post. Life has thrown me many challenges and some really special days too. During the last three years, I’ve spent almost a month in Italy and narrowly missed  having a nervous breakdown. So how do I begin again?



You Had to Be There to Understand

 I carried my ticket around with me for weeks and once a day took it out the make sure it was real. The excitement of seeing Il Volo in concert for the first time was almost more than I could stand. September 11, 2013 is a day that will remain in my memory for a lifetime. In some ways I remember everything and nothing at all!

 As I sat in my seat, 2nd row center, anticipating the start, my phone buzzed with a message. I would have never guessed what was awaiting me, a whimper my only response. “#Fixing my #hair for the #show! #ilvolo #pierobarone#Pittsburgh” and this picture! Needless to say it was an auspicious beginning!



After seeing concert footage on YouTube of the previous tour stops, I knew exactly how the show would begin. It didn’t matter, the first soaring notes of Questo Amore begin, Gianluca’s light and silhouette appear, and the heart begins to pound. We had difficulty from the start with the camera police. No cameras or video recordings were allowed. I managed to sneak a few, but the quality leaves a lot to be desired. One amusing incident involved the camera nazis trying to stop Piero’s dad from taking pictures, that ended very quickly and we know who won that battle. I caught his eye and smiled.  With a nod of his head in acknowledgement, he continued to shot his pictures. In some ways the audience seemed to be subdued at times. Ignazio actually asked if we were too tired to stand and party. In some ways the choice of  venue and the enforcing of camera rules helped contribute to a less than lively participation at times.

piero pitt

9-11 PGH Igny2

But the next two hours flew by in a blur. First set, intermission (catch your breath time), and the final set. When the stage empties and the lights come up, I look around dazed asking those around me when is the next part. Unfortunately for me there was to be no more for 2013!!! I was in purgatory, meant to suffer until I see them again! Imagine my joy when that day comes!


Translation coming soon!

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Watch “IL VOLO Entrevista Latin Billboard” on YouTube

IL VOLO Entrevista Latin Billboard:

The Power, The Passion, and The Joy

I have done the unthinkable! I have fallen in love. Sigh! It really didn’t take long, which has both surprised and troubled me greatly. Demon exorcism begins now!

I haven’t posted on the blog for a while as I struggled with a lot of things in my life. My constant trio of complaints, work, weight, and family dynamics continue to plague my existence.  Patience, they say, is a virtue. They, whoever they are, also say to be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Hmmm! I have been praying for patience for a very long time. Maybe some of the situations I find myself in are the result of not having enough patience. Although family and friends say teaching 13 and 14 year old students prove that I have tons of patience. For children, yes, for adults, it is in short supply.

The more time I spend talking to people around the world, the more I realize we are all broken people. Some of us cope better than others, but everyone has a story to tell. While conducting a one-sided conversation, can it really be called a conversation if the other person never contributes-just a thought, I was reminded of some of the music and artists of my youth. Have to smile here because they were actually artists of my mother’s youth in the fifties and sixties, I just love their sound and never embraced the music of my generation. You know the artists I truly adore. Think Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, who was part of that one-sided conversation, Al Jarreau, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong to name a few.

piero1 socal pbs

The Power

gian1 socal pbs

The Passion

igny2 socal pbs

The Joy

What does any of the above have to do with the title of this blog? Absolutely positively nothing and everything! The three words in the title are apt adjectives for my newest classically and Italianally life passion, Il Volo. The Power-Piero Barone, classical tenor whose very being oozes sexy. The Passion-Gianluca Ginoble, gifted baritone who is the definition of fiery elegance. Finally, The Joy-Ignazio Boschetto, lyrical tenor whose smile and love of life are infectious.  You may have met them before in previous accounts, but if not, give a look and listen. They have truly taken over my waking and sleeping. After seeing them in concert on September 11, I could not get enough. Bought every CD even the Spanish language ones, I don’t speak Spanish.  Several weeks later, having finished the N. American/Canada Tour, the boys moved south of the border to Latin America. Thank God for Google translate. But a new problem arose, different time zones.  Never one to enjoy the daytime, even as a young child, nocturnal living is very appealing. This circumstance fed right into my vampirism. Try following you favorite group when they keep musicians hours with a six hour time difference. Living on two hours of sleep a day for weeks at a time can be dangerous, not necessarily for me, but for others. Lack of sleep sharpens my tongue and turns off the filter from my brain to my mouth. I have a tendency to say what is on my mind regardless of the subject or object. There are many positive things that I have gained from falling in love, which outweigh any negative consequences.

What is utterly mind-blowing are the people I have met from all over the world. Close to home we have Jackie, Marie, Kelly, Lavina, Caroline, Charlene, Ellen, Donna, Judy, Mary, Claire, Joanie, Beverly, Janis, and a whole posse from Miami. There are countless others, too numerous to name. But I still need to acknowledge the International contingent of Athena, Suzana, Hazel and many others from Spain, Brazil, Philippines, England and Latin American countries. Whew! So many wonderful, loving, and passionate people. Doesn’t matter the time of day or night, someone is available to lend an ear or share memories.  Two of my newest Twitter buddies are recording artists and musicians Iliana and Paul Eastham. Three young Italian singers have enriched and opened my world in ways that just amaze me.

Can any three people be more different but still live, work, and sing in such harmony?  Piero, Gianluca, and Ignazio often use the phrase, “Three voices, One soul” to describe themselves.  Young bodies of 18, 19, and 20 years old, but old beautiful, compassionate souls. It is often difficult to describe the trio and an infinitely more eye-opening  experience to see and hear them for yourself.

Aren’t they just adorable? I have so much more to say, but have decided this will be Part 1-A Short Introduction to The Power, The Passion, and The Joy. How many more to follow is anyone’s guess.


When I was twelve I sat down over several weeks and mapped out the rest of my life. I knew that I was going to college and study to become a veterinarian. Spent a lot of my early years bringing every form of creature home. Always had a love for animals, especially horses. So my dream life was to include a large horse ranch of my own design. I recently found my original drawings of this fictional place along with an interesting diary. I wanted twenty acres or more of land. The house itself would be a two story flagstone faced mansion. Floor to ceiling windows in every room. Every detail was included. Boy was I ever the dreamer.

Not content with just designing a place to live, I apparently also designed my future spouse. He was to be 6ft. 4in., well built and slightly bowlegged. Dark shoulder length hair and green eyes. My future husband was independently wealthy and raced cars as a hobby. How did I ever think I was going to find this person is beyond me, but I have it all written down. Although I had forgotten this document existed some things must have stayed in my subconscious because at least two boyfriends did in fact race cars. When I was ready to get my driver’s license, my mother decided I needed a professional driving instructor, one who would instill caution, which he did. Several months later, my first racer decided I needed to really learn how to drive and his tutoring instilled my love of speed. The second one refined my skills! With passengers I really try to be conservative, but doesn’t always happen, therefore most family and friends don’t want me as chauffeur. When I am alone I can let loose and I do daily. Enough of that talk.

Who remembers this styling song and video?

Back to life by design. Well you know I needed the monster house and perfect husband so that I could have all the children I wanted. I guess my love of children and the need to have a large family was inspired by my own parents. My mother was one of nine and my father was the baby of 22. Yes I said twenty-two! I am not sure what problems my parents has but I am an only child. Not totally embracing the only child concept, I personally wanted 12 babies of my own. This thought and desire stayed with me through high school, college, and grad school. But life has to be lived out and no matter how meticulously you plan life happens.

I did not become a veterinarian, although I finished the first three years of pre-med, it seems I had one major/minor problem which I could not overcome. I am allergic to animals and very few medications exist to give full-time relief. Okay, one element gone now what do I do? Well I figured I had a love for children so I would change tracks and become a teacher. Because of all my previous credits and some major overloading, I finished the four year teacher education program in two years. Now to find that husband! For some predetermined reason, probably my health and sanity, neither race car driver worked out for the long haul. No one told me that eligible mates don’t hang out in the Education Building. Working in mostly elementary schools with female staff limits your opportunities also. I was never into the bar scene and even the selection of misfits (said with love) at church did not inspire. So here I am with the blueprint for the perfect man and I am single. As the song goes, “Looking for love in all the wrong places”. Oh, by the way that mansion is now a 1920’s urban row house. I love my home but kind of miss my dream ranch.

So what am I to do with an alternate career, no husband, and no children? I wake up one day and decide to reinvent me. I have been given the Grace and opportunity to do whatever I want and to be whomever I want to be. That is what I need to embrace. For those who have read my previous posts, you will remember the source of my metamorphosis. For those who are new, let me share my secret passion.  I have been ILVOLOTIZED!  🙂 The Italian trio IL VOLO has inspired me to be bold and grab life by the etc. I say what I want to say and do what I want to do, full steam ahead. (I love cliches) So the memories inspired by my twelve year old self are a little bittersweet, but it is time to dream big and make new memories. The worrrrld awaits! I AM AN ILVOLOVER.


Miracles Happen

“Shake it up baby, twist and shout”  I am a miracle.  I know that sounds quite odd to hear, but there it is…I am a miracle.

As colder weather moves into the East Coast, I am reminded that winter is not too far away. Fifteen snow seasons ago, I was involved in an accident.  I was hit head-on as I traveled up a hill and the other car was coming down.  I was not wearing a seat belt and wound up buckling and shattering the windshield with my forehead.  According to the paramedics, I should have either died or had a severe spinal injury.  I ended up with a scratch on my forehead, a concussion, and I now get migraines more often. Other than these things, the only other side effect was weight gain.  I couldn’t physically do anything for almost one full year, therefore the weight gain.  Bad habits are difficult to overcome and fifteen years of bad habits are almost impossible.  I woke up one day to the sounds of Il Volo and their U2 song “Beautiful Day” and realized that my reaction to this song can not be printed. When provoked, I can put a sailor or trucker to shame, sorry to say.   I decided not to live this way anymore and get myself motivated for change.


Love Suede and Leather

Motivation should be a four-letter word.   All life changes involve self-motivation in order to be effective and long-lasting. Extrinsic motivation still works for me.   I use clothes to motivate me to exercise.  When I find something that I really, really like, I buy it in the size that I want to be, even if that is four or more sizes below the current one.  I then hang it at my bedroom door so that I must see it at least twice a day, if not more.  Torture thy name is vanity.  All for a good cause, including better overall health. It often seems that I am a mass of symptoms and diseases, some self-inflicted, others hereditary.  Let’s see, maternal and paternal grandparents and great-grand parents who are diabetic, guess what I am?  One uncle and three cousins with asthma, guess what I have?  Intolerance to glutens and allergic to peanut butter. I know it is sick but I cheat almost everyday and eat peanut butter crackers.  Just goes to prove my point, I don’t think I am wrapped too tight!

Just finished custom designing a bracelet and I am now working on getting a new vehicle.  I think I share Piero’s same passion for fast cars.  I have been  tooling around in a Toyota 4 Runner with automatic transmission, I miss my five speed babies.  So it looks like I might need to change transmission types and I want an orange monster. Here it is down there!   The person who taught me how to drive for real was an old boy friend who raced short track.  I can hit corners with the best of them, most people don’t want me driving and I hate to be driven by others-too slow.  So, I am still alive, even with my tendencies to drive fast.

FJ Cruiser Toyota

FJ Cruiser Toyota

signed guitar

Piero, Gianluca, and Ignazio with the guitar.

Literally millions of Il Volo fans around.  They seem to snap up and absorb anything and everything that has to do with the group or as the Flight Crew likes to say, “Our Boys”.  Around the time of the release of their Christmas CD on October 22 I received a text message that read, “We’ve signed a Schecter guitar for 1 lucky #ilvolover to win from @charitybuzz!”. It included a link. Uh, I don’t make the best decisions at 1:30 in the morning, especially if I haven’t really slept much the previous 3-4 day.  I figured what the hell, it is just money and there is no way that I will succeed with so many IlVolovers around. Guess who had the winning bid?  What am I going to do with this?  I guess I will figure it out once it is in my hands.  Here, you might as well see what it looks like!   guital closeup

Wow! This is real random even for me. I thought I had a real purpose for this post, but apparently my brain had other ideas.

These are my two favorite driving songs, almost said drinking songs, but that is a different playlist. Both songs are by David Garrett. Now to enjoy my hour ride home and the weekend that will be. Hope you enjoy yours!

Sexy Does It!

**Disclaimer: This post is tame by my standards.  It did not go anywhere I was expecting, so I think we will call this one a work in progress.  Maybe the title should be “Sexy Does It! 1.0” the first installment.**

When I was younger, breathing and fairly attractive was my criteria for who or what I found sexy.  Later, sexy took on new meaning as I found celebrities both male and female who I wanted to date or be like.  Having matured a bit, I say this lightly because I really think I may be regressing, sexy takes on new dimensions.  Although celebrities often still play a role in this monkey ride called life.  They are often the templates of what may well be unattainable perfection.

How do we define what is sexy and what is not?  Whew! Such a loaded question.  Body parts can be sexy.  Chest/breasts, legs, butt, and even feet can be alluring to some people.  I personally find intelligence to be sexy, along with the ability to hold a conversation.  Intelligence and conversation don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.  I found this out during my university years, some of the most brainy people were actually bricks in disguise.  The art of conversation is a lost talent that needs to be revived.  Stimulate my mind and you might have a chance at simulating other parts!

Since I revealed in an earlier post that music is my vice of choice along with a good glass of wine, it should come as no surprise that certain songs can even be considered sexy.  I have a particular mix that I haven’t used for it’s intended purposes in longer than I care to admit, but it goes by the name of “Happy 1”.  The mix includes a wide variety of songs and artists, with some obvious surprises.  An example of a surprise song is “If you leave me now” by Chicago.  Not necessarily an anthem of love and devotion in the traditional sense, but it works.  Most of the songs have a slow, easy rhythm that makes them just perfect.


Clothes can be sexy, even some of the most basic innocuous fashions can make us pant. (pun intended) For those in the know, think plaid jacket, tight pants, red glasses, and a killer smile.  Cold showers often needed.  Bow ties, for heavens sake! How can that possibly be considered sexy, well on the right person anything is possible.  Revealing clothing can border on raunchy instead of sexy.  We are not talking obscene sex . Although most anything can be appealing to all the senses, I draw the line here.

rcmh il volo

If I wanted to build the perfect sexy partner where would I begin? A Twitter friend helped compile this menu of must haves.  Add together a dash of funny, playful, smart, kind, glasses are attractive, muscular, talkative, one who loves kids,  A confident attitude, not necessarily really a look is what another friend finds sexy.  Any candidates for this position?

Soundtracks and Survival Music

Went to the Symphony this weekend.  One of my favorites was featured, “Carmina Burana”.  If you don’t know anything about this particular work, it is a muscial work culled from bawdy, irreverent, and satirical poems and text compiled by German monks.  Check this out:  This is definitely not for everyone.

One thing that could make the symphony a little more interesting and maybe attract a younger crowd is alcohol.  Let’s have wine pairings available based on the musical selections.  Let’s see, for the featured work, “Carmina Burana” a German wine would be appropriate, my local recommended Affentaler Monkey Bottle Riesling 2010.  I have never tried this particular label, but the name spoke to me.

I am random, I think this is why I relate so well to my seventh and eighth grade students who are poster children for randomness.  I changed the direction of this post in mid sip. Oh, well!   In my first blog entry, “Ms. Sunshine does not live here today”, I talked about music making life bearable when the people in my life make things difficult.  I truly do have an old soul.  Never got into or understood Rap music.  Tunes from the 50’s and 60’s I can sing off key and relate to, this is real music.  Give me jazz, classical, and even some opera and I am in heaven.

Even without headphones on there is often a song playing in my head.  I started thinking about the soundtracks that help us get through life. On my hour long drive to work I listen to the CD “We Are Love” by Il Volo.   If you have never heard of Il Volo, it is time for you to give them a listen. At work, my students and I list to a special mix of songs which calms the heart and mind.  This mix contains works by Il Volo, of course, Andrea Bocelli, Chicago, Chris Botti, Boney James, Mozart, and David Garrett.  Just trying to prove that I am crazy.

I asked my Twitter friends if they had a particular go to song which helps to brighten their day and got some varied responses.  Noelia from ilvoloverboston says “Smile”, “We Are Love”, and “Beautiful Day” from Il Volo can illuminate the gloom of any day.  Judy from beautiful Tennessee says anything by Il Volo does it for her.  Do we see a pattern? For some variety, Sherry always chooses “Your Wildest Dreams” by Moody Blues, Juwanna leans to “Smile” by Kirk Franklin, and Vanessa wants anything from Dolly Parton.  Eclectic choices to say the least.

Whether happy, sad, depressed, or just chillin’, there are so many songs that can fit into the soundtrack of our lives.  Which ones speak to you?

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