Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Night

It's raining like crazy... Doug's out of town for the weekend... and we needed dinner.
Crepes and blueberries it is!!!  Eme was a fan.  Quite frankly, I can't remember the last time I saw her shovel food into her mouth that fast.

Those of us that aren't allergic to dairy enjoyed a little whipped cream too.  Caleb said "Wow!  This dinner actually tastes really good!"  Guess I the non-sugary healthy meals I've been making for him lately have been missing the mark...

And... just when you thought we'd had enough sugar for the day...
Paska for dessert anyone?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cinque Terre

After several busy (and fantastic) days running around Rome and Florence we took the train north to the Cinque Terre for a little relaxing.  The cities are busy-- the five towns that make up this region were quiet and peaceful.  The only people we saw were a few older retired couples and the locals.  It was perfect.

So many of our friends raved about the Cinque Terre-- telling us that we HAD to stop and experience it.  Honestly, after being there I would have to say that it's one of the most beautiful and charming places I've ever been.  If you ever have the chance-- you need to stop there!!

We didn't have a whole lot of time so we ended up only seeing two of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre.  A few months ago there was a flood in two of the towns-- Vernazza and Monterosso-- so they weren't even really open to tourists anyways.  Our first stop was Riomaggiore.

We were quite excited to be there.

After lunch in a cute little cafe we set out for the hills to do a little exploring.  There are all these tiny little gardens/farms clinging to the side of the rocky cliffs that are carved out like steps all the way up to the top.  We walked some of the paths-- taking it all in.

Like the gardens and farms-- the towns are clinging to the side of the rocks.  Walking the streets can be quite the workout-- let me tell you.  Pizza and pasta for lunch?  Not a problem!  An hour later you've already worked it off after walking around the town!

We then walked to the next town-- Manarola.  There are walking/hiking paths that connect the towns-- many of them were closed while we were there but we were able to do the walk between Riomaggiore and Manarola.

We spent much of our time in Manarola sitting along the water staring into the sea, watching the fishermen come in and out with their boats, and taking in the sites of the town.  It's so beautiful.

It was warm while we were there (well-- warm for spring) and by the middle of the afternoon it got nice and sunny.  I can only imagine how fabulous it would be to spend time there during the summer.

Every street is picturesque and perfect.

If only my laundry looked this cute.

The colors are so incredible.  Each building is a different bright color.  Each one is perfect.

We had dinner sitting in a little restaurant in an outdoor patio-- we were the only ones there.  I had the best pesto ever.  EVER.  If you go to the Cinque Terre you must try the pesto!

Eventually the sun began to set and it was time to take the train back to the town we were staying in.

It can be difficult to find good accommodations in the five small towns that make up the Cinque Terre-- so we opted to stay in Levanto.  Levanto is a 2 minute train ride north of Monterosso and any of the 5 towns can be reached by train in less than 15 minutes from this location.  Levanto is a bigger community that has lots of shops and restaurants, a big sandy beach, and tons of different hotels, B&B's, and hostels.  Out of any of the towns in the area we thought it would be the most kid friendly (if we ever decided to back with the kids) with it's big sandy beaches complete with parks and stuff to entertain the kiddos. We found the best B&B that was really affordable, a five minute walk from the train station (needed when you've been lugging your bags all over the country), had the best view, the most amazing breakfasts, and was terribly cute.

I mean seriously, this was the door to our room.  So cute!  From our room we could walk out onto this gorgeous patio that looked out over the town.

This was our view from the front door.  Come on now... it doesn't get much better than this :)

So in summary-- the Cinque Terre is beautiful.
You should go there.
And consider staying in Levanto.

Next up... Venice!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I always knew Florence would not disappoint.  It didn't.

After three days in Rome, we hopped on the train and made our way to Florence.

We found our train!!!  How exciting!!

Florence was warm, sunny, and gorgeous.

The exterior of Santa Maria del Fiore (or the Duomo) is gorgeous.  I could have sat and stared at it all day long.

Florence isn't the most colorful city (it was known for it's development of innovative architectural design principles during the Renaissance-- not for being overly decorative) -- so this basilica with it's colorful and decorative exterior is a dramatic contrast to the other plainer buildings in Florence.

Caleb's favorite pictures from our trip...

He likes this little bird coming to help me read my map.  He also likes a picture of me in Rome-- there's a bird that looks like it's about to fly straight into my head.  Apparently that one's pretty "hilarious" too.

Caleb was SO fascinated by this bridge-- lined with shops and stores.  It totally cracks him up.  Our hotel was actually a 2 minute walk from this bridge-- it was a great place that was super central and within walking distance of everything.  They also served the most amazing breakfasts-- mouth watering pastries and all the freshly brewed espresso and cappuccinos a person could want-- served in a beautiful BEAUTIFUL room complete with pretty table cloths and dishes-- even cloth napkins... my kind of breakfast!!

Right in front of the Duomo is the Baptistry.  We didn't go inside-- but I was pretty fascinated by the doors.  I remembered studying them in Art History-- beautiful.

Santa Maria Novella-- houses Masaccio's painting Holy Trinity-- Another painting I studied back in the day.  Wow-- can't believe it was that long ago that I was a student in Art History.  Actually-- thinking about school-- just yesterday I was at the dentist getting a filling (boo!!) and the dental assistant thought that I was a college student.  When I told her I am actually a mom with kids she seemed a little shocked-- that's gotta be a good thing... right?

Back to Florence...

We also visited the Brancacci Chapel to see Masaccio's Tribute Money-- I wrote a paper on this painting years ago.  It was very cool to see it in person.  It is forbidden to take pictures in most museums and churches that house famous works of art-- but in this chapel they allowed you to take pictures without a flash.

We also visited the Uffizi Gallery to see many many other famous works of art and the Galleria dell Accademia to see the famous statue of David.  Since we were there in March and not during the summer we didn't have to wait in massive lines to get in-- definitely nice.  If you're planning to visit these places during the busy months of summer I'd recommend paying a little bit extra for an entrance reservation.  When you only have a day or two to see everything you can't afford to stand in lines for hours!!

Florence was all about the art and museums for me-- Doug was a real trooper... he was willing to see everything that I wanted to see and he let me "teach" him all about the artists and stories behind the works of art we viewed :)  He says that he actually really enjoyed it-- when you have some background info it can make the experience that much more amazing.

So if you ever visit Florence... my advice is to do a little bit of studying and read up on some of the famous paintings and sculptures-- if you're going to take the time to see them-- take the time to know something about it!  That makes the experience so much more fascinating.

So that was Florence! 

Next stop... the Cinque Terre!

Monday, March 26, 2012


We said goodbye to the blue desk over the weekend.

It's not gone for good-- it just won't be in the kitchen anymore.  

We didn't have anything up on Saturday night... so Doug figured there was no time like the present to start working on the kitchen!  I-- of course-- totally agreed.  So he made a trip out to the shop and three hours later came back with the lower cabinet boxes we are installing along the open wall where the blue desk used to sit.

The plan for that wall is something like this...

There will be a run of lower cabinets that are the same depth as uppers.  We don't have quite enough room for full depth lower cabinets along that wall so we're going to keep them the shallow.  Originally we had planned on doing an entire wall of closed pantry type cabinets but it makes sense to have a run of lower cabinets with a narrow stretch of countertop that can be used for setting out food and drinks when we entertain larger crowds of people.  Even though these cabinets and countertop will not be very deep-- I think they will add so much storage space to my tiny kitchen.  

Instead of having glass doors on the uppers, we're going for a combination of open and closed storage.  This was my inspiration...

I love how crisp and fresh this kitchen is-- it's got a lot of classic touches (white, subway tile, marble) but has a clean modern feel.  That's what I want.

So after an evening of work-- the lower cabinet boxes were finished.  Yesterday afternoon Doug quickly installed them-- with a little help :)

Yup, that's my four year old wielding a drill.  He actually did a pretty good job-- although his little four year old arms got tired quickly holding that drill up!  Caleb's next job was to stick on all the fastcaps over the screws... a perfect job for a four year old.  Caleb can hardly wait to help Daddy finish "fixing" the kitchen.

So after a couple hours of work I've got some shelves in the kitchen where the blue desk used to sit.

The next job is to build and install the upper cabinets for this wall.  Once that is finished we're going to start ripping out some of the cabinets on the other side of the kitchen.  This wall of cabinets will hold all our kitchen stuff while we demo the rest of the kitchen.  The doors for these cabinets won't be ready for a while yet-- so it's going to be interesting storing most of my kitchen essentials on "open" shelves.  I can only imagine how much fun Emerson is going to have destroying my kitchen when everything is open and accessible :)  In the meantime, I've gotta get me some more storage baskets for those shelves!

So, I can finally say that operation kitchen renovation is officially underway.  I love it!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Something New...

Ladies!!  I experienced something new last night... I had my eyebrows threaded!  I've wanted to try it for a long time now and finally had them done.  And... it was awesome.  It took like two minutes... was only moderately torturously painful... and my eyebrows have never looked so good...

I will definitely be having my eyebrows threaded from now on-- it's very inexpensive (the ladies who did mine charge $7) and is so quick!  I also can't stand tweezing my own brows... it's the worst!!  Guess that's why I only tweezed mine once last year-- so long mangy eye brows!!

Now.  For those of you who have never heard of eyebrow threading before... here's a handy dandy video that will explain it all...

Love it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's Picture Time...

I'm back!  Well, kind of.  Jet lag is a funny thing-- one minute I'm hanging out at home feeling all normal and the next minute I can't remember what day it is, what time it is... or where I am.  But the last time I checked I'm sitting in my living room and the kids are resting...

Anyways... it's time to start recapping the trip-- because as you can imagine I have SO many pictures!!

Here we go...

We began our trip in Rome.  There is SO much to see and do so we opted to spend 3 full days taking it all in.  As you can imagine-- it was incredible.  Basically, our days consisted of pizza and pasta...

...carting around our bags... 

(sidenote-- it's funny how the cobblestone streets begin to lose their charm after rolling your suitcase down them for a few blocks--- thump thump thump thump...)

... attempting to figure out the metro system... (although I usually looked a lot more confused than I do in this picture)

... studying the map...

... and sunshine!!!  Long time no see...

Along the way we managed to see a lot of pretty amazing things too.  On our first day in Rome we walked and walked and walked... and saw a few of the sites.

One of our first stops was the Pantheon.  The Pantheon was built (the second time around) in 125 AD and out of all the ancient buildings in Rome it is the most complete and well preserved.  The entrance is impressive...

But the inside is unbelievable.  I studied the Pantheon in Art History years and years ago... and it was incredible to see and experience it in person.  I think it was one of Doug's favorite stops too... the architectural design of the dome is amazing-- especially when you consider how long ago it was constructed.

We also took in Piazza Navona--- one of the most beautiful squares in the world.  Honestly-- so beautiful.  I can only imagine how much more incredible it would be in the summer-- I would probably never want to leave.  I could happily spend my entire summer in that square-- all I would require is an unlimited supply of gelato.

And of course we stopped at the Trevi Fountain.  It was crowded-- of course-- but fantastic.

Day two was all about the Coliseum.  This was also one of Doug's favorite sites-- I have a feeling we're going to be watching Gladiator again sometime real soon...

Since it was Sunday, many of the main streets in Rome by the Coliseum were closed down... so it was the perfect day to stroll through the city and take in the sights.  Everything is picture worthy...

We eventually made our way to the Santa Maria Maggiore-- a Basillica originally constructed in the 5th century.  It is as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside...

We saw many many beautiful Basilicas in Italy and I'd say it's the only one that comes close to being as impressive as St. Peter's.

And we took in a few more sites... 21 degrees and sunny?  I could have strolled through those streets all day.  Actually, we did.

Day three was spent at the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Basilica.  I saw the Sistine Chapel-- a major highlight for an Art History geek such as myself.  Taking pictures in the Sistine Chapel is a major no no... hence the reason for no pictures.  But you all know what it looks like. If not-- google it.

St. Peter's... so incredible.

Michelangelo's Pieta is one of the most beautiful statues I've ever seen.  

And apparently I wore the same sweater every day I was in Rome.  We only brought carry on bags people-- outfit capabilities were limited.

And that was our first stop on the trip.  Rome is a busy, fascinating, eclectic city with tons to see and observe.  I loved every minute of it... especially since I got to see it all with this guy...

And that was stop number one!!  More to come...