Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Bingo!

...I know at least a few of y'all who read this blog also listen faithfully to the Books on the Nightstand podcast. Have you heard about the summer reading bingo? I thought it would be fun to play along with a slightly smaller :-) crowd than the crew this podcast hosts on Goodreads. So if you're reading this, consider yourself invited...and challenged.

Visit the link, print your card(s) and play along. For our game, you can count any book finished between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend (May 24 - September 1). A book can only count for one square on one card. You can enter as many Bingo's on as many cards as you like. I'll draw a winner from the completed Bingo's and award a prize in September.

Here's my card. So far I've finished one book (Louise Penny's The Cruelest Month) it's a "Cozy Mystery". I've got eight more hours to finish The Goldfinch...and I need to decide if that's "Longer than 500 pages" or "Audiobook".  And then I'm going to have to figure out where to go next!

I'll plan a few checkin's during the summer to keep y'all on track. Questions? (concerns?!)  I hope you'll play along!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ten on Tuesday | Memorial Day Weekend 2014.

...this week, Carole's asked us to sharethings we did over the holiday weekend. Here's a quick look at mine:


1. I spent time on the porch both Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. Our porch faces east so it's cool in the afternoon and colorful most mornings. Saturday's sunrise was exceptional.

2. And then traveled with Katie, Rob, Sara and Holly to the north Georgia mountains for a mini-family reunion with my parents, sister and brother (and families). My mom says this is the 19th year we've gathered for the weekend; I love starting the summer with my family and it was sweet this year to add Rob to our mix. We're looking forward to adding BabyT next year!

3. Made cappuccinos. Sort of. I used Katie's stove top espresso maker, Illy beans and a Nespresso milk frother (which I'm calling my "real" souvenir from the trip). The flavor is good, but I haven't mastered the crema (or maybe this espresso maker just won't do it?)

4. Played one game of dice.

5. Finished the third Louise Penny book (and did not buy the 4th, instead started June's bookclub selection, The Good Luck of Right Now, which I'm enjoying so far...but still looking forward to that next Louise Penny!)

6. Drank Picpoul de Pinet for the first time this season (and beer margaritas, too).

7. Bound off the Traveling Scarf and made a bit of very slow progress on a laceweight Panoramic Stole.

8. Watched the last episode of Mad Men Season 7 (part 1). I have really enjoyed this mini-season and hope next year's final finale meets our expectations. 

9. ...and the first five episodes of Orange is the New Black. all in one afternoon.

10. Started thinking seriously about baby knitting. The shower is mid-July and I've got to get going soon to be ready!

What about you? how did you spend the holiday weekend?

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Europe 2014 | The Scarves.

...Brenda suggested, in a comment on Tuesday's post, that I recap the scarves I wore. I had six along for the trip, these five


and my newest Diagonal Lace Linen (aka one of the four "Florence scarves").
the Florence Scarves debut at our first dinner in Florence
I learned when I was in Paris back in 2009 that scarves are key to making the same outfits work over and over. I chose the first five "oldies but goodies" because they coordinated with at least two tops ... and because they were all summer weight (lots of linen, silk and, in the case of that traveling woman, sugar cane!). I wore and re-wore every one of them, except for the Bias Before & After (It was a little too colorful for what I ended up wearing in Paris...and then a little too warm for Florence). 

Here's a quick recap of a few of my favorite outfits...and views!

Traveling Woman, with lunch our first day in Paris
Juliette, with dinner in Montmartre
Meadowsweet, with our last late lunch in Paris 
Traveling Woman atop the Duomo
Traveling Woman on the Ponte Vecchio
Meadowsweet in the Boboli Gardens 
Color Affection near the Piazza Michaelangelo 
my Florence Scarf..at our last dinner in Florence
This was a fun post to put together - thank you, Brenda, for the suggestion!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Randomly (again).

...because just when I start to feel a little bit more like myself, Sara's flight home yesterday was delayed past midnight and Holly threw up in my lap (in my just-cleaned car, of course) three times while we waited and then drove home. It was nearly 2am before I got to bed. 

On the plus side, I had a quick run with Lauren on Tuesday, a nice walk with Katie yesterday, yoga (yay!), and I finally made it back to the shop...my Wednesday afternoon class was lightly attended, but that was probably for the best. And then there's this.

My sister and I have renewed our Wednesday evening knitting and wine dates. It was nice to sit outside and see Holly back in her favorite lap. and catchup on all the things that have happened in the four weeks since we last met. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ten on Tuesday | Try Soon.

...Carole's prompt this week has us thinking about things we want to try. I'll admit it took me a long time to come up with this list, but the timing is perfect...I've got a free summer for the first time in years, and these are all things I'd like to try soon! 

1. cappuccino. at home. I think with a stovetop espresso maker. because let's be honest, that's the only way I'd be able to afford the very expensive "caffe" habit I acquired over the last two weeks.

2. pizza. at home. a whole wheat crust and grilled vegetables.

3. crostini. at home. anchovies and fresh mozzarella.
(please note that I did not include gelato on this list...some things are just better left in Florence!)

4. Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce mysteries.

5. hot yoga.

6. striped socks, like the ones Carole just finished. I've used handpainted yarns before for socks, but they ended up a pooled mess...think my gauge is off. I'd love to fix that and knit a truly striped pair...even if they end up fraternal twins.

7. a pony tail. yep, growing my hair again. and newly inspired by the latest Brooklyn Tween collection (Wool People 7) to get it into a braid.

8. steeking. this has been on my list since 2013, and honestly, it's going to be hard to do it this summer, but.. it's still on my list!

9. a blue or green pedicure. I just did OPIs Cajun Shrimp yesterday so this might be July...and by then who knows, maybe the cool colors will be different!

10. saying No. because I just said Yes to another church committee...this time to "co-Wedding Coordinator".  There are two of us sharing the role, and we're meeting early next month to figure out what it all means... but for sure, this is IT. I've got to say NO the next time I get asked!

 
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Thoughts on re-entry.

...we left the apartment in Florence at 7am local time yesterday and arrived home just after 9pm local time. Twenty traveling hours is a long time (and I have a renewed appreciation for the 24+ hours it takes Marc to get to Asia)! I loved getting back into the blog on the trip - especially all your very kind comments! - and I really want to keep it up, but today about all my tired brain can handle is a list (fortunately tomorrow is Tuesday and that's another list 😊), so I thought I'd simply share a few things top of mind as I re-enter the real world: 

- Marc did a great job on the home front, especially with Holly. He texted and instagrammed photos almost daily, bathed her (maybe more than once), took her on long walks, took her to work twice (I think), worried that she wasn't eating and, most of all, enjoyed her.

- Arriving home (even late) with another girl means our laundry was mostly done before we fell into bed last night (two of the three loads were washed and the third was ready for me to start this morning).

- I had planned to listen to The Goldfinch (32+ hours on Audible) during the trip but I didn't even start it until the last leg of yesterday's flight. I'm now about six hours in and hooked.

- I did, however read the first Louise Penny Three Pines mystery and I finished it on the flight to Paris yesterday. Good thing there was wifi in the Paris airport; I downloaded the second one and finished it this morning (and I've promised myself I can download and start the third as soon as I get a few more things checked off my to do list today).

I'm overwhelmed about how to document the trip. This is the first big trip where I haven't done ANYthing along the way with all the paper, tickets, receipts, etc. At least I've edited a few dozen photos.

- I haven't written anything in my journal since I left. It feels weird, but somehow ok. I am looking forward to getting back into that daily routine tomorrow.

- Ditto yoga and running (but I likely won't get back to those til later this week; I picked up a cold in Florence and I'm just today feeling like the worst is over)...I did however walk about 15,000 steps each day so I feel good...just not the same.

- The travel knitting worked great. I took a scarf (Churchmouse Bias Before & After scarf and a skein of Juniper Moon Farm Findlay) and socks and knitted about a third of the scarf and never started the socks. I loved having a simple stockinette pattern on size 6 needles that was small and light to carry.

- Sara has an out of town interview tomorrow/Wednesday and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to having the house to myself (Marc left for Asia yesterday) for even one night.

- I really enjoyed the wine in Florence, especially a new-to-me red blend called Bolgheri...which is sadly not very prevalent here (and way more expensive).

- Blogging from my iPad is fine...as long as I don't include any links...or fancy formatting!

Again, many thanks for sharing the trip with me!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thank you, Florence.

"...typing this in seat 22A on the flight from Florence to Paris. trying not to worry that we had to check our bags through to Paris and that we weren't able to get boarding passes for our final flight to Atlanta. we have a four hour layover...surely that will be enough time to resolve any issues...in the meantime, looking back on last night is making me happy (and sad...)

We ended up at the wine bar where we had our first lunch and another wonderful dinner. But this time we got seats at the bar...front row! The place is so tiny this one guy (of course Francie found out his name...Emiliano) runs it with one other server. He prepares all the plates and really puts on a show. or maybe he did it just for us? Sara and I watched him plate an order of anchovy crostini and ordered a plate for ourselves (Sue and Francie had sausage with melted cheese...to each their own!)


yes that's fresh mozzarella, layered on toasted bread, topped with the anchovies, then drizzled with olive oil and that one fresh chive. it was...divine.

for the "main course", Sara ordered a cheese plate. Emiliano put on a(nother) show.


Francie had a 6am flight; probably a good thing or we might've ordered more food and wine! and then this last photo probably wouldn't have been so great.

We said tearful goodbyes this morning... dear friends and wonderful memories. Grazie, Firenze.

P.S. 15 minutes of free wifi in the Paris airport and all is well!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

l'ultimo da Firenze.

...the title says this is the last from Florence, but that really means the last blog post. We still have another twelve hours here. Plenty of time to enjoy what we hope will be a wonderfully memorable dinner and a smooth and uneventful departure tomorrow morning. 

Yesterday ended up being all about the sunset. One of Sara's itinerary requests was to visit the Piazza Michealangelo (high above the city on the southeast bank of the Arno with stunning views)...at sunset. We planned our day around it. well that and the food and the shopping. We started out with a revisit to a favorite shop for scarves, and then a favorite shop for handpainted leather bags. I love that we've only been here since Monday and we already have "favorite" shops!

Lunch was a new place, though, a Mozzarella Bar. Second thing I love about Florence is that they have cheese bars. We had a "tasting plate" featuring three kinds of mozzarella; we added a pesto tasting and a basket of focaccia. oh my.


After lunch, we wandered, shopped a bit more and made our way to Santa Croce in the late afternoon. This is the oldest church in the city, but I wasn't in a church mood. Francie and Sue toured...and Sara and I had coffee. The good stuff started after with a visit to the gelateria our food lovers guidebook recommended. I had salted caramel and mascarpone and it was by far my best combo (of course I can't imagine anything not being delicious with salted caramel!)

..and then the views and the climb and the sunset. This first view is just after we crossed the river; I was enchanted by the relection.

And from the piazza


The gathering on the steps was a huge part of the fun. I think the combined age of our party was significantly more than...just about everyone else - take wine and cups and cameras...and if you're not too vain, a pillow, the stone steps get hard!


...and finally the sunset.



we left the piazza just before the light so we could see the sunset reflected in the river.



I'm so glad Sara wanted to do this...like the 463 steps we climbed on Tuesday to see the city from the Duomo, this view and the accompanying experience are memories I'll always treasure. 

Today we visited Santa Maria Novella - glad I was over my pout about paying to see a church - it was beautiful.

...had pizza (back at La Busolla - our 3rd visit and still delicious) and gelato.
shopped and got back early to pack.

We have a long layover in Paris tomorrow and if there's wifi, I'll post...otherwise it'll be next week and back home. and I am really so...not ready.  Ciao!

Friday, May 16, 2014

e un terzo da Firenze.

...the week is flying by! we spent yesterday as planned - a little shopping, gelato, pizza, wine and the Uffizi. And I have photos of all of it to share! I remembered waterlogue yesterday and had fun painting. Here you go:

On the way to the restaurant...


Then lunch at La Bussolo. We were delighted to learn that the restaurant's owner also owns the apartment where we're staying.

We had two pizzas, both with whole wheat crust; one topped with tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella and the other with grilled vegetables.


We spent the afternoon at the Uffizi - no photos allowed...but I snuck one of the ceiling.

There is a very nice outdoor terrace at the end of the 2nd floor tour...photos allowed!


We did a little shopping on our way to gelato.


Chocolate chip and coffee this time.

We think there might be some magic about gelato that any two flavors combine to make something delicious.

And home. Our apartment has a lovely terrace.

For dinner, we went back to the wine bar where we had our first lunch. It's a tiny place with just a handful of tables. We had sliced meats and cheeses...and a lot of wine.

We have two full days left and no more museums...hopefully that means lots of photos...and plenty of food, wine and shopping..Ciao!