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World OT Day Logo Eng Theme

World Occupational Therapy Day is held annually on October 27. Started by the the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, this day is an opportunity to promote and celebrate therapists around the world. It is also a chance to increase awareness about the services that OTs provide to both children and adults.

As both a teacher and an aunt, I have witnessed first hand the amazing benefits of occupational therapy for children with special needs. I have attended workshops, read numerous evaluation reports, implemented accommodations in my classrooms, and assisted OTs during therapy sessions. For most people, though, the world of occupational therapy is a mystery.

In general, OTs assist people of all ages to improve their ability to perform everyday tasks needed for living, learning, and working. They may work with people who have permanent disabilities such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, with people who have been injured or suffer from chronic pain, and with the elderly. They also work with individuals who have mental, physical, developmental, and emotional disorders.

Occupational therapists help their clients with a range of skills: fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, listening and following directions, social skills, self-care skills such as dressing and cleaning, time management, and sensory integration – to name just a few. Some OTs are also trained to implement cognitive behavioral therapy. You’ll find OTs working at hospitals, schools, and private clinics.

The benefits of occupational therapy to my nephew, Michael, have been tremendous! I know that the skills he is learning will be life-changing for him.

Occupational therapy can be expensive, especially if the services are not covered by medical insurance or provided by the school district. It is for this reason that I, and my little publishing house NimNam Books, will be dedicating all of the proceeds from sales of our Kindle books from now until the end of the month to fund the costs of my nephew’s occupational therapy.

An ABC Escapade through Egypt_front cover_SM-horz

Deeply Rooted in Faith & Family

An ABC Escapade through Egypt

Love Endures All Things

Italian Wanderlust: A Traveler’s Journal

Morning of Light: An Egyptian Journal

Afternoon of Honey: An Egyptian Journal

El Marsam Cookbook

Watch these videos if you’re interested in learning more about occupational therapy:

Occupational Therapy for Kids

A Helping Hand With Occupational Therapy

Thank you for reading!

~ Bernadette

*** And  my heartfelt thanks go to my daughter Bernadette for caring and sharing this information. ~ Ginda ***

Pear & Gorgonzola

I was pretty excited when my recipe for Farfalle with Pear & Gorgonzola was among the finalists in a Tri-State San Giorgio pasta recipe contest. My sister, Maggi, represented me as chef and we came in third place in Maryland. Brava, Maggi and thank you San Giorgio Pasta.

To celebrate, I’d like to share the recipe and hope you will make it and celebrate something special with friends and family.  Buon appetito.

Farfalle con Pere e Gorgonzola
Pasta with Pears and Gorgonzola Dolce
Six servings as a first course 
8 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese – be sure to buy the sweet variety (available at Wegman’s)
2 fresh pears, pealed and minced fine
½ cup of walnuts, chopped
4 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of Cognac
Parmesan
1 pound of farfalle (bowtie noodles)
 
Slowly cook minced pear in butter till soft.  Add Gorgonzola cheese and stir together until melted, mashing with a fork if necessary.  Add nuts and the cognac.  Keep on low heat and stir occasionally. 
Cook farfalle in salted water until al dente.  Drain.  Add pasta to sauce and toss till well coated, adding several tablespoons of Parmesan.  Heat through and serve immediately.
 Maggi - the chef

If I may brag a little more, this and other recipes are in my El Marsam Cookbook for those of you who have a copy, and for those of you who don’t, a limited number of hard copies are still available:

El Marsam Cookbook

El Marsam Cookbook – An Umbrian Farmhouse and its Kitchen

by Ginda Simpson

This is not simply a cookbook! Throughout its pages, Ginda offers her readers tasty tidbits of everyday life in the Umbrian countryside where she lives. In short story vignettes, she paints a lively image of the people that teach her everyday to celebrate the food that graces her table. As Ginda gratefully acknowledges – famed chefs, friends, neighbors, peasants and strangers alike have all contributed in their way to her intimate knowledge and deep respect for the age-old traditions of an Italian cuisine that is simple and wholesome, satisfying and nurturing to both body and soul. The recipes are clear, the ingredients simple, the outcome worthy of a party! Cook up some goodness and invite your friends to dinner!

El Marsam Cookbook

Amazon.com for Kindle

Egypt e-book postcard

On September 1, 1993 I was busy with the final packing of my “things” that would go to Egypt with us. Six years later, there were even more “things” to be packed, as we prepared to leave Egypt, the country that had become our home. The real treasures we took away, however, were the memories of Egypt as our home and then those woven together in the years that followed. These I have wrapped lovingly into two books, collections of short stories and artwork.

Read, learn and love with me, as I discover the country that would steal my heart. Come, imagine yourself adrift on the Nile in a white-sailed felucca. Let me take you to see the Sphinx in the middle of the night, to ancient bazaars and crowded marketplaces, to the tranquil countryside where life unfolds, unchanging. Travel along with me on leisurely afternoons honey-lit and sweet, teaching me new insights and ancient wisdoms. Visit South Sinai, a land that stretches beneath a sky and along a sea of endless blue. Accompany me on a pilgrimage to Abydos in search of fertility blessings, discovering over and over again that the best treasures in Egypt cannot be purchased…

My daughter, Bernadette, and I are happy to celebrate these memories with their publication as e-books through NimNam Books, now available for Kindle.

Morning of Light:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N3JXTOO

Afternoon of Honey:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N5Q9UKW

For those of you who do not have Kindles and prefer books in print, Morning of Light, Afternoon of Honey, and When Egypt was our Home are available through Blurb. If you are a new customer, they are offering a 25% DISCOUNT, use code:  SMARTSMALL

or a 30% DISCOUNT on orders of $100, using code: STARTBIG. Offers expire October 18, 2014. Preview and order books at: http://www.blurb.com/search/site_search?search=ginda+simpson&filter=all&commit=Search

Our Sophie
Sophie, our red hen

Drunken Hen

Sophie was a hard act to follow.  She had been my master’s favorite – a hen of exceptional beauty and character.  Affectionate, faithful, productive.  How could I possibly compete with her memory?

I have brick-red feathers too, but short of my going to the parrucchiere, their color is never going to set the world on fire.  Sophie used to follow Master everywhere, from vine to olive tree, eating the tiny insects that would surface from the grass behind Master’s footsteps.  Master saw this act as a sign of Sophie’s undying fidelity, but I see things differently.  Sophie was a glutton for food and for attention.  Why else would that hen leap into Master’s lap at break-time to nibble on his sandwich and slurp up his iced tea, without ever a reprimand?  Master was hen-pecked indeed!

Sure, Sophie had some close encounters with predators, but did she show any bravery?  No sir, she did not!  For weeks whe cowered, roosting safely on the high window-sill outside the kitchen.  Then she began to make her nest and her mess on the front porch, proudly delivering her eggs conveniently in time for breakfast.  I do believe she preened with pride watching family and guests ooh and aah over her achievements as she watched them savor the freshness of her eggs.

Mistress Ginda was on to her.  Whenever Sophie would hear movement in the kitchen, she would flap her wings wildly and levitate high enough to see who was there.  If it were the mistress, Sophie wouldn’t bother to leap a second time – no sense in burning calories on the stingy lady of the house.  However, if Master Mike were in the kitchen, Sophie became a veritable jack-in-the-box, up and down, up and down, pecking at the window, flirting and clucking until she got what she wanted – a gentle pat, special scraps, and Master’s daily blessing to free-range on this glorious land.  I know all this because they still talk of her, mourning her absence.  Sophie lived a charmed life and when it was her time to depart this world, she upped and left, without a trace, leaving only memories in her place.

Well, my story differs.  I suppose I suffered justifiably the consequences of my insufferable behavior.  Knowing I could never measure up to the beloved Sophie, I went for negative attention instead and my plan met with much success.  At first I had free-range of the place, but wrecking havoc in Mistress Ginda’s flower garden and laying my eggs down in the woods didn’t gain me any favor.  Master would slip and slide through the underbrush, determined in spite of his bad knees, to retrieve my eggs, but Mistress put an end to that.

“Lock her up in the pen,” Mistress said, “and she will be forced to lay her eggs in one place.”  They held me in that cage for 24 hours, but I held my precious egg inside me longer and the minute they opened the gate, I high-tailed it to the woods and deposited my gift deep in the overgrowth, as Master and Mistress watched on in astonishment.

“Two days, this time,” concluded the Mistress, showing no mercy whatsoever.  forty-eight hours later, it pained me as I wobbled speedily back to the woods to bury yet another egg beneath the fallen foliage.

With this, they gave up and left me to roam about freely.  I continued to plague their days with my mischief, changing my hiding place every week or so.  Why they didn’t make stew of me that summer remains a mystery to me.  Eventually, I began to feign some fidelity and provide them with regular production, for which Master rewarded me by providing my own supply of cat food, putting an end to my thieving from the feline’s bowl.  From then on, we lived in relative harmony, but I had no intention of kowtowing as Sophie once did!  I remained unpredictable, aloof, and nameless, although occasionally Master would call me “Red.”

Tomorrow my owners are going to Padova and before the sun sets, they will dine on that Veneto specialty Bigoli al Sugo di Gallina Ubriaca – Drunken Hen.  They will be drunk with pleasure and Mistress Ginda will no doubt want to reproduce it in her own kitchen.  I am at great risk.  But I have one attribute that has escaped their notice and that is that I can see into the future.  It does not look good for me.  So I must say my farewell.  This morning I will flee the coop for good.  Unlike Sophie’s departure, which as final, mine will simply be an escape, a new adventure.

Addio, think of me often!

Drunken Hen – A Venetian Specialty

6 servings

1 large stewing hen
¾ liter of red wine (preferably Chianti)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
Olive Oil
1 lb. of Brigoli or pasta of your choosing

Cut the hen into small serving pieces. Mince the fresh herbs and chop the vegetables.  Place these ingredients into a large glass container and cover with red wine (approximately ¾ of a liter).  Cover the container and leave to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.  Remove the chicken pieces and pat dry on paper towels.  In a large skillet, heat several tablespoons of olive oil with a garlic clove.  Remove garlic and add the chicken pieces and cook on both sides until golden brown.  Add the wine marinade and let simmer for several hours.  Turn off the heat and let cool.  Remove the chicken and break up into tiny pieces.  Set aside.  Run the sauce through a food processor very quickly (you don’t want the sauce to be too smoothly pureed).  Add the chicken and sauce back into the large skillet and heat through.

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente.  Serve with the Drunk Hen Sauce.

More recipes and stories can be found in my cookbook.

El Marsam Cookbook

El Marsam Cookbook – An Umbrian Farmhouse and its Kitchen

by Ginda Simpson

This is not simply a cookbook! Throughout its pages, Ginda offers her readers tasty tidbits of everyday life in the Umbrian countryside where she lives. In short story vignettes, she paints a lively image of the people that teach her everyday to celebrate the food that graces her table. As Ginda gratefully acknowledges – famed chefs, friends, neighbors, peasants and strangers alike have all contributed in their way to her intimate knowledge and deep respect for the age-old traditions of an Italian cuisine that is simple and wholesome, satisfying and nurturing to both body and soul. The recipes are clear, the ingredients simple, the outcome worthy of a party! Cook up some goodness and invite your friends to dinner!

El Marsam Cookbook

Amazon.com for Kindle

Thanksgiving Ad for Kindle give-away

AMAZON.COM

AMAZON.CO.UK

Thanks for following my blog throughout the year.  Happy Thanksgiving!

In the words of Khalil Gibran:

“The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remain hovering over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves.”

So this is for you, fellow Egypt lovers:  TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE.

Morning of Light cover

Afternoon of Honey  cover

When Egypt was our Home Morning of Light

Afternoon of Honey

WHEN EGYPT WAS OUR HOME.

Visit my bookstore to preview and enjoy shared memories.

http://www.blurb.com/user/store/Ginda1221

CODE: BETTER25

What’s better than a beautiful Blurb book? Two beautiful books. Buy two books and we’ll give you 25% off your order plus we’ll throw in free ground shipping (or take $10 off expedited or next day shipping)†. More is merrier with Blurb. Offer good through December 2, 2013.**

† A $1.99 per additional unit ground shipping charge will be applied on orders of more than 2 books

Say Cheese!

SAY CHEESE!

SAY CHEESE!

This past month has been dedicated to family activities – visits, festivities, and sharing time together.  One of the highlights was celebrating our youngest granddaughter’s second birthday and we got to do it right here in Italy – a rare treat for us.  Our photos say it all – my husband’s pizzas are renowned for their homemade goodness, made even better by baking in our wood-burning oven.  If you don’t believe me, just look at Nora’s face as she devours the first of many slices.  Here is the recipe for one of our family favorites.  Add your own favorite toppings.

Pizza with prosciutto

Pizza with prosciutto

Mike’s Fig & Prosciutto Pizza
Makes two pizzas

2 balls Pizza Dough (see recipe)
1 c. of fig jam with 1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
4 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
3 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto

Stir the Balsamic vinegar into the jam and heat. Spread pizza evenly with ½ cup of fig jam and top with 2 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese.  Add the prosciutto slices after the pizza comes out of the oven.

Mike’s Pizza Dough
Makes 5 pizzas

4-4½ cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
½ cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fine salt
1 cups of lukewarm water

In a large bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 20 minutes, then add oil and mix well. Add 1 cup of flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the salt and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead, adding as little flour as necessary until it is satiny and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover the dough with a small amount of olive oil and place it in a covered oiled bowl. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it is doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours. Punch down the dough and form into five small balls. Let these rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Buon appetito!

More recipes can be found in my cookbook.

El Marsam Cookbook

El Marsam Cookbook – An Umbrian Farmhouse and its Kitchen

by Ginda Simpson

This is not simply a cookbook! Throughout its pages, Ginda offers her readers tasty tidbits of everyday life in the Umbrian countryside where she lives. In short story vignettes, she paints a lively image of the people that teach her everyday to celebrate the food that graces her table. As Ginda gratefully acknowledges – famed chefs, friends, neighbors, peasants and strangers alike have all contributed in their way to her intimate knowledge and deep respect for the age-old traditions of an Italian cuisine that is simple and wholesome, satisfying and nurturing to both body and soul. The recipes are clear, the ingredients simple, the outcome worthy of a party! Cook up some goodness and invite your friends to dinner!

El Marsam Cookbook

Amazon.com for Kindle

Deeply Rooted In honor of my mother and all mothers who are the weavers and the keepers of family memories, the Kindle version of Deeply Rooted in Faith & Family, will be free to download on Sunday, May 12th from:

Amazon.com (USA)

Amazon.co.uk (UK)

Amazon.ca (Canada)

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

“Several small pages of lined notepaper, yellowed and crumpled, are still in an old wooden jewelry box that I have treasured since I was fourteen years old.  On them, I had meticulously recorded the names of cousins, links on an unbroken chain that stretched across the ocean between a small town named Davoli in the south of Italy and Baltimore, the city of my birth.  It was an innocent attempt at constructing a family tree – a means to understanding my relationship to the many Italian cousins I was meeting for the first time that summer at our ancestral home. Little did I know that someday I would come full cycle, returning to the land of my ancestors to make Italy my home.  Seeds were planted that long-ago summer of 1962.  They sprouted thirty-eight years later, not in Calabria, but further north, in Umbria.

              It was probably no accident that almost four decades later my husband, Mike, and I were in Umbria when we first learned of the upcoming merger in the oil industry.  We accepted the news as if it were a mere splinter, an annoyance, easily removed and quickly forgotten.  Instead, we enjoyed our summer holiday, reveling in the green beauty of the Umbrian countryside, such a contrast to the sand and grit-encrusted landscape of Cairo, the city where we were then working and living.  We chose not to dwell on the effects the merger would have on Mike’s employment or on our future.  Six months later, it was official.  The merger and its subsequent layoffs hit like a thousand shards of glass, splintering hopes and shattering dreams for nearly ten thousand employees.  In one swift swipe of the downsizing blade, we were severed.

We did not bleed, though the pain pierced our hearts.  We were not ready.  We were too young. With oil prices at their lowest in years, the likelihood of re-employment in the industry for anyone over age fifty was slim.   Without a job or a home in the United States, we had a weighty decision to make and not much time in which to make it.  Half-hearted attempts (from our home in Cairo) to re-build a life in Houston only seemed to lead to closed doors, while the wide-open fields of the Umbrian countryside seemed to be calling us.  Green fields of promise.  Of hope?  Of happiness?  We followed our instincts.  We chose to make Italy our home. 

             Through prayer and perseverance, we found and purchased an enchanting 300-year old farmhouse in the Umbrian countryside.  It is the place where we have learned to listen to life’s music and greet each new day with wild, wonderful abandon.”

I wrote these words to record and to heal.  To remember and to cherish.  Today’s diary is interwoven with yesterday’s story – one hundred years of my Italian family history.  It is, after all, the toil of my ancestors – simple peasants who planted many seeds of love, faith and strength long ago that has led to such an abundant harvest.  I must preserve it.

If you have enjoyed reading Deeply Rooted, please remember to post a review on Amazon.  Readers appreciate reviews and so do writers!  Thanks.

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All content on artfuljourneyswithginda.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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Final Italian Wanderlust e-book cover WEB

Italian Wanderlust: A Traveler’s Journal

Nim Nam Books – Hot off the press!

Italian Wanderlust is now an ebook, available through Amazon for Kindle.  Click the above link to order your copy.  Fellow writers and book-lovers, please help launch the book by posting a review.

Are you planning your first trip to Italy, or returning to the peninsula because it has called you back time and again? Or do you prefer to remain in your comfy armchair and travel to distant lands via engaging travel journals? In Italian Wanderlust, author Ginda Simpson, who has resided in Italy for over a decade, shares and celebrates all that is Italy – the traditions and festivals, the food and the wines, the enchanting cities and the peaceful countryside. As an artist and travel writer, her words simply paint pictures. For your own planning purposes, she includes contact information for the various hotels and restaurants mentioned in her stories. A must for anyone who loves Italy, who dreams of travel to Italy, or who simply wants to savor their own memories of the country.

The e-book is text only.  Some of you may already be familiar with the print copy, which is a small coffee table book with many wonderful photo illustrations.  It is still available through Blurb, if you prefer this format, AND Blurb is currently offering a 20% discount for Mother’s Day, so place your order now.  Simply enter the promotion code:  LOVEYOUMOM at check-out to get your discount.

As of today, I have been blogging for almost half a year.  I still feel very new at it, but wanted to take a moment to thank each of you who have visited, read, and/or commented on what I have written.  I appreciate the time you have taken from you busy schedules to visit and support my efforts.  I wish each of you, my fellow bloggers, personal satisfaction and success in your writing/creative endeavors.

Because we are close to Mother’s Day, I invite you to visit my newly created Etsy shop that showcases some of my jewelry pieces.  Give the gift of hand-made jewelry to your Mom, or to special girlfriend, or to that extra-special woman -YOU!

ETSY

JEWELRY  JOURNEYS

21-Cleopatra detail 253-A Pearly Past detail250-Lorelei detail

For those of you who don’t know me, I wish to share these thoughts about what makes me tick.

We all have magic inside, woven into our dreams… And magic flourishes when you spell out that dream and make the frontiers vanish. Dreams can change your life, and eventually the world….” – The Harem Within by Fatima Mermissi

Dreams, and inspiration, and dedicated work – these are the threads that make up the tapestry of my days.   I find endless inspiration all around me – in the sublime and in the mundane.  I see an exquisite sunset, and I want to paint it.  I meet a seemingly ordinary old man, and I want to write his extraordinary story.  I pick up sea glass from the beach and want to design a necklace that reflects the sea and the stars…  I bring a basket of pomegranates into my kitchen and don’t know whether to paint a still life or create a ruby red syrup for my baked ricotta.  Inspiration comes to me in my waking and sleeping hours and provides me with countless hours of satisfaction.  Mostly, I am grateful for the abundance that God has given me, and I hope that my work reflects and celebrates, above all else, His presence in my life, the Source of all light and dreams.

I was born in Baltimore, the fourth of twelve children.  My childhood was crowded, but lots of fun.  When our family moved to Italy in 1962, I became interested in foreign languages and concentrated my studies on learning both Italian and French.  It wasn’t until after I was married and a mother of three that I seriously pursued art studies.  While I was busy raising my family, I put my passion for travel on the back burner, so to speak, where it simmered away – a veritable minestrone of ideas and dreams, the ingredients garnered through extensive reading and a vivid imagination.  When my husband’s job took us to Egypt, the experience opened up a new world to me.  Egypt became my classroom, the world my university.  I began to paint and to write in earnest and travel has inspired my work ever since.  That was in 1993.  Six years later, we moved to Italy where the Umbrian countryside continues to provide inspiration for both my pen and my brush.

With this blog, I hope to share what inspires me.  I confess, up front, that it will be a home-made minestrone of ideas, a serving of unexpected ingredients, offered erratically by a sometimes crazed chef, a stew peppered with fanciful imagination.  I will paint, and write, and cook, and create…   I invite you to learn with me.  Grow with me.  Love life with me.

Résumé details

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All content on artfuljourneyswithginda.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.

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