I am chopped liver.

I totally get it. I have a cute dog. A really, really cute dog.

But ever since Oliver arrived about two weeks ago, I’m just the anonymous handler behind the phenom.

Let me set the scene for you. I have lived in my complex for more than two years, and I may have nodded once at my neighbors next door as we passed on our way in or out. We’re not a friendly, mingling kind of bunch. Actually, when I moved in, a neighbor across the way greeted me but told me not to “expect brownies or anything. We’re not that kind of neighborhood.” Well, okey dokey.

Now that I walk the world’s cutest dog, everyone comes out of the woodwork. Like we’re incapable of exchanging pleasantries unless there’s a canine attached to us by a string. Keep reading »

Guess who’s coming to dinner.

Sometimes I wish I was Italian. Maybe it’s because I want to be Giada de Laurentiis when I grow up, or that I love wine and food, that the countryside seems breathtakingly beautiful, or that I think they’ve got the right idea of living and celebrating “la dolce vita.” Or maybe it’s because I haven’t yet found an Italian dish that I don’t love.

Pasta, garlic, tomatoes, olives … all right up my alley.

That’s why I was so excited for the cooking marathon this past weekend. A few weeks ago, my stepmother went to visit her Italian aunt in upstate New York and brought back an old-world Italian recipe for tomato sauce (“gravy”) with a variety of meats. She did a dry run-through last weekend, and my dad requested that she make tons of sauce to freeze for later. The idea was to prepare and cook all day so there would be leftovers … until my stepmother invited everyone she knew to dinner. Keep reading »

To all the dogs I’ve loved before.

I really do mean canines.

(Though there’s only been one, so far.)

Last week at lunch I was reminiscing with my dad about my first dog, a beagle named Missy who a) bit me on the foot, b) ate my dad’s last Snickers candy bar (he’s still not over it) and c) ran away, never to be seen again, as soon as we arrived at my grandparents’ farm. I don’t think any of us were too upset. Keep reading »