Sunday, September 29, 2013

What's Happenin'?

Outside my window: Fall is definitely upon us. The nights are getting chilly. It was only hot at the Titan's game last Sunday. Could be I was bored and could only think about the heat. From the opening kick-off return and the end of the next play, only 5 SECONDS had elapsed!! I knew it was going to be a loooong game. I prefer to watch at home where I can stitch and hear the commentary.

I am thinking: About doing some de-cluttering in my scrapbook room. It always needs it. 

I am thankful for: Hot tea in the morning.

From the kitchen: The "kids" were here for dinner on Friday night. We had BBQ pork steaks, twice baked potatoes, brussel sprouts with a white sauce, salad and caramel apple blossoms warm with ice cream for dessert. I sent them home with all the leftovers. That's about it for cooking for me this week as we're going out-of-town next weekend.

I am wearing: Still in my jammies. That's pretty much always going to be the case as I tend to update my blog early in the morning---unless I can get myself motivated to get back to the treadmill.

I am hoping: to convince my AYM/2 class to join my AYM/1 class for next year. It will be easier on me from a kit and meeting standpoint.

I am reading: For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick. It's my favorite type of literature---historical fiction set in England. So far, so good, but I'm only about 50 pages in to it. I think it was a 99 cent book on Amazon.

I am busy creating: I finished my layouts for AYM on Monday. I also finished the title page I'm teaching my other group on Wednesday.

I finished my "assignment" for stitching. Plus, I used up all the fiber I had for the background. 
 This is the witch project that goes on the hand-painted wooden stand. It won't be ready for this Halloween, but next for sure. 
I always have my interim project to go back to. I work this between assignments. I can't watch tv without something to do. Otherwise, it seems like such a waste of time.

 I'm bummed:  Looks like we're going to have to replace the French doors in the kitchen that we just replaced about 4 years ago. The guy from Handy Man Connection that installed them really messed them up. We had no idea that when "he" fixed them that it was only temporary. The doors have now rotted from the bottom up. Good bye $1500.00! Hello $1000.00!! Turns out we got "ripped" the first go round. Bummer.

I am hearing: The soundtrack from Beauty and the Beast on Pandora. I've been hearing so much about iTune radio, but I haven't tried it out yet. I like Pandora just fine.

Around the house and garden: I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but I've decided NOT to decorate for Halloween. We're going to be gone 3 out of 4 weekends and all of those are 4 to 6 day weekends at that. Since there isn't going to be anyone here to see the decorations, I just decided it wasn't worth it. Last year, I "un-decorated" on Halloween itself. That was the best day for me to do it. Besides, we only had about 6 trick-or-treaters. Our neighborhood is older and there just aren't too many little kids.

In other news: We're going to St. Louis next weekend for a dedication to my Uncle Jules. He spent decades as a volunteer fireman. Arnold---where he lives---has just built a new firehouse. I'm not sure if they are naming it after him, but they are dedicating it to him. My sister, Janice is even flying in from Texas for the party. He's going to be happy to see how many of us are coming. We love him.

One of my favorite things right now: Frozen caramel apple blossoms and chocolate chip cookies---found in the freezer section at Krogers. They are individually packaged. They cook for just 15 minutes and you have a yummy hot dessert! 

I appreciate: my dishwasher. I have to remind myself of that each time I unload it. Hate that part.

I regret: that we cannot figure out where the gallon of orange juice that was in our refrigerator came from. We've asked everyone that was around here and no one knows anything about it. Another mystery. The "kids" were sure my friends must have planned mimosas for the pool. But my friends didn't know anything about it either.

It's been a rather dull week around here this week. And that's not a bad thing!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Let's Talk About...

"To Do" lists. Do you make one? I live by one. I'm a lister---I have lists for everything. I have a master "to do" list on my computer. I update it weekly and print it out on Mondays. My list is arranged by categories: Calls, This Week, Buy, Errands, Scrapbooking, To Do Sometime, Foods to Make, Home Repairs, Christmas 2013, Cleaning & Chores, Health Information.

I don't worry about my list being in alphabetical order. Mostly, it's arranged by importance. I add and delete categories at will.

"Calls" is for those calls that need to be made---like scheduling a doctor's appointment, carpet cleaners or exterminator.

Some things have been on my list for absolutely years---like under "cleaning and chores"---I have ironing listed. Who am I kidding? I NEVER iron. I always said the if I wait long enough, the things in the ironing basket will eventually go out of style thus eliminating the need for ironing. The best use of wrinkled clothes is to take them when you travel. Then it just looks like your stuff got wrinkled in your suitcase. You can totally get away with this. If you see a slightly rumpled tourist, that could be me!!

Other things listed under "cleaning and chores" act more as a reminder of things that need to be done occasionally---like---clean out secretary in living room or the china cabinet (you know those glass shelves get dusty.) Or, "clean the Waterford chandelier." I only do that about once a year and wouldn't think of letting anyone else handle it.

If I have a pressing cleaning chore, it would fall under the category of "this week" along with make vegetable soup and cut flowers.

"Errands" is pretty obvious---cleaners, bank, grocery store.

"Foods to Make" is just a list of things to either try, or remember to make again. I fall in to a rut with cooking. With a few items listed here, it acts as a good memory jogger.

Some things on my list are just informational---like Christmas 2013. Under this category, I list ideas that I think of through the year. I put gift ideas---including some for myself as I think of them That way, when the kids ask me for gift ideas, I have a few ready to go. Candles and bubble bath are just about always on the list.

If I have a lot of things to accomplish in a single week, I take my "to do list" one step further. I make a list of each day and assign tasks to each day. I use this technique especially when I'm having house guests. It keeps me on track and reminds me of the cooking tasks I need to do. Without my list, I would forget to thaw meat or make something that needs to be done in advance.

Under my "scrapbooking" category are things like: make kits for AYM, do ABC layout, create title page for retreat, put layouts in scrapbooks, etc. Just anything scrapbook related.

I rely on my "to do"list to keep me organized and on track. I just realize that I need to add another category: "beach"---for all the jobs related to renting our beach condo. Actually, I have a separate list in my "beach binder" for that, but I do need to remember to check it.

And then, there are my spiral notebooks. I can't live without one. But that's another story...

Tell me about your "to do" list.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Outside my window: It's staying dark in the morning---longer. It's 6 a.m. and dawn has not yet broken.

I am thinking: That I'm feeling pretty on top of things for a Monday morning. I usually start the week with a long list of things to accomplish. I think I might just get to a few things that have been on my list for months. Or, maybe not.

I am thankful for: The dishwasher. 

From the kitchen: I was a cooking fool yesterday as I made a huge pot of vegetable soup for my freezer club. Hence, the reason I'm thankful for the dishwasher.

I am wearing: Still in my jammies.

I am hoping: That Jordan comes in this weekend. She emailed me that she might---and she wants a family dinner if she does.

I am reading: Beauty Rising, by Mark Sasse. I'm more than half way in to it and it's really good. It was one of my bargain books---$2.99 for the Kindle. Lately I've started to be skeptical of the bargains. I just read 2 on my trip to Italy that were pretty stupid. I was mad that I wasted my time.

I am busy creating: I'm in the middle of my AYM layout. Well, actually more near the end. I have more journaling than will fit, so I have to figure out what I'm going to do. 

Connie, Nancy and I have started out latest needlepoint project. This one is a witch---doll type thing. It will stand on a hand-painted wooden base. I'm letting them decide what our "assignment" will be each week as we work it together. I have to figure out who I'm going to give it to.

 I'm bummed: That I didn't buy more Pope Francis holy cards. It's kind of hard to think when you are standing there. 

I am hearing: The hum of the dishwasher and the morning news on TV.

Around the house and garden: We have our favorite contractor coming by today to figure out if the back door can be fixed or if it needs to be replaced. I'm going to be really upset if we have to replace it, because we just did about 2 or 3 years ago. That guy completely messed it up. He cut it too short, then the hinges were off---a mess. I don't know what he did to "fix" it, but it hasn't held. 

In other news: Steph started a new job two weeks ago. She's really excited for a new challenge with an exploding, young company. She's ambitious (like her dad), so this should be the perfect fit for her.

One of my favorite things right now: I would have to list "Pink" as one of my favorite things right now---actually for a couple of years. I just love her! She's edgy, but I'm always impressed with singer/songwriters. Her recent song "True Love" is so real! You might love your spouse, but sometimes you feel like wrapping your hands around their neck!

I appreciate: Margarita. I would not like to have to go back to cleaning my own house. I'm particular and it takes way too long. I appreciate being able to use that time for other things---like "Movie Mondays." I've started that up again. Today, my friends and I are meeting for lunch at Jonathan's and then seeing Prisoners with Hugh Jackman. It's been a while since I've seen a movie at the theater.

I regret: that summer is over. That means our pool parties have come to an end. We had one last Friday---and even got in the pool, but the water is getting cold. With the temperatures dipping in to the low 50's at night, the water gets cold quick. I think pool time is done for 2013.

How the week is shaping up: I have a pretty light week. I'm really wanting to get some scrapbooking done. I have two more layouts to do for my classes and another kit to put together. Looking forward to it.

Hope your week will be a good one!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Award Winners

Connie, Mindy and I entered some of our needlework in the County Fair and then the State Fair. We ALL won something!
Connie won 1st and 2nd at the County Fair for her bolster pillows. She won 1st at the State Fair for the blue and yellow one. This pattern was called "Queen Anne."
Mindy placed 3rd in the County Fair for her bangle bracelet. There wasn't a category for her to enter in the State Fair.
My ice skate ornaments placed 3rd in the County Fair and 1st in the State Fair. You can't tell from this picture, but these are 3 dimensional---with suede backs and tongue. The inside of each skate has a coordinating pattern. 
The County Fair paid money. We won't get rich at $6.00 for 3rd, but it's something. We didn't get any money for the State Fair---I'm not sure why. I guess they don't give out money at the State Fair.
This is the most recent thing I've finished. I entered it, but didn't win. The critique on it was that I had several twisted stitches. I'm surprised they really inspect it that closely.

It seemed way to easy to win. We're going to enter again next year. Maybe we'll win enough to go out to dinner!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Italian Observations and Things I Learned

*I was surprised at how many men carry "man purses." Even the police!! I would love to have a peek inside. In fact, I would love this white leather one for myself. I must have taken 50 pictures to get this good one. Each time I tried, the "cop" either moved, or a car blocked my photo. Perhaps the bigger problem could have been the wine.

*Spaghetti with meatballs, fettucine alfredo and manicotti are NOT Italian dishes. Seems we Americans make up our own "genuine" Italian dishes.

*Italians believe in really clean silverware. You will not find any water spots or crud. It's all perfectly shiny---for a germaphobe, that's HUGE!
*Italians are so considerate. Their sinks have a little slot to hold your cigarette! I was tempted to buy a pack just to try it out.

*Just about everybody smokes. There is no such thing as non-smoking areas. I wonder what their cancer rate is. That's why I decided to pass on that purchase.

*Some men, no matter what their age, never want to "give it up." They continue to wear "muscle shirts" even when their muscles have turned to flab. Really, guys, not attractive.

*Just like in the US, everyone seems to be on their cell phones---but the Italians are really "in" to the bluetooth. Sometimes, we'd be driving along and all of a sudden, our driver would just start talking. Then we'd realize he was on the phone. We had one driver whose ring tone (or text tone) was loose change falling on the street. Butch said he never heard it. Now that's a surprise. He's usually really tuned in to anything having to do with money!
*There is so much to love about Italy. You never know where you will come across a little surprise---just about around every corner. Notice the lemon tree underneath.

*Italians are proud of their food. They have it on display everywhere. You can gain weight just by looking at it.

*Italians are definitely "touchers." And can be spitters too when they talk too close.

*If you can see your thong beneath your white pants, it's not really attractive. Nor does it seem comfortable. I know, everyone says they are---but I don't believe it. I'd have to keep picking at it.

*Our son-in-law's name is Greco. I learned that it stands for Greek. Doesn't Nick the Greek sound like a mafia name? Or a gambler?

*I learned that I love traveling with my personal photographer. I have a hard enough time, walking, listening to a guide, watching where I'm going AND taking photos. Butch took over the camera and was more than willing to let me "boss" him around---"get this shot, no, not that, this, etc." He did a really good job too!

And that just about wraps up our Italy trip.

An observation I made when we got home:
You just never know what goes on around here when we're gone.
 We left the refrigerator like this---completely devoid of food.
We came home to this. I guess the party--ers ran out of vodka before they ran out of orange juice.

I might have to install hidden cameras.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


We got home late Monday night.

After sitting on the runway for 4 hours, we finally took off. The flight was 10 1/2 hours. I watched 4 movies---Cloud Atlas, Hitchcock, The Great Gatsby (the 1971 version with Mia Farrow and Robert Redford), and Pearl Habor---11 hours of movies. I stitched for the first 5 until I ran out of the fibers I had brought.

Of course we missed our connection and another flight. When we finally made it to Atlanta, we had a 2 hour wait until the 11 p.m. flight. When we got home---at 11:30 p.m., we took a shower and went straight to bed.

Today, I feel great!!

My trip wrap up:
 Here are all the souvenirs I brought home---many are gifts. I can't tell which ones or who they are for.
This was the hand-painted platter I had shipped home from Positano. It actually got here before I did. I was afraid they might have sent it back since the door tag said it was the last delivery attempt.
I had to bring home many holy cards for family and friends. Pope Francis is going to be good for us! I got to "meet" him along with 3,000 other Catholics. Basically, he was a dot on the stage---but I was closer than I was when I "met" Pope John-Paul II in St. Louis. I got the little pink holy water font for my scrapbook room. Growing up, we had these in our bedroom. If you look close you can see the Jerusalem cross in garnets.
 Real stones and shell jewelry---mother of pearl earings.
 More shell jewelry and coral bracelets. Lemon olive oil from Amalfi. I loved the lemon oil I got in Greece and quickly used it up.
We had to get Lemoncello from the factory we visited in Rivello. We plan to take the fish down to our beach condo. Lava from Mt. Vesuvious. You can see the Jerusalem cross a little better.
 We went to St. Paul's Cathedral for our very first Mass. This was the program waiting for us.
Inside the program was a first day cover that was released by the Vatican Post Office just for out event.

We are part of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem---an organization dating back to the middle ages charged with protecting the Holy Sepulcher. Today, the group is responsible for protecting the interests of education in the Holy Land. Pope Benedict called us all together for this pilgrimage for the "year of faith." We met people from all over the world. Although it was fun, we decided that we're not the "type" for these huge events. We did some really awesome stuff, but we spent way too much time waiting and on the bus. Luckily, police escorts helped to move 31 buses around Rome in the congested traffic.

I'm still playing "catch-up." I have so much to do. I'll get back for my "Italian Observations" post soon!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Day 9---Rome

And this is where the blogging of my trip ends. We do not have internet in our room. You can only get it with some sort of cord connection that will not hook up to our MacBook Airs. Soooo, that means we have to go down in the lobby.

We are going to be so busy with our scheduled events from now through Sunday, that I don't really see any time I'm going to be able to take the time to blog. I hate that as my blog provides my journaling for my trips. Oh well. We go home on Monday, so Tuesday may be the first time I get back here.

All I can say is "arrivederci."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 8---Ravello

This has been my favorite day so far. We did so much---pretty much everything here---many gardens, churches, shops and shopping. 

We started the day with an uphill climb to a huge garden overlooking the sea on so many sides. On the way there, we passed several vegetable gardens. Most restaurants have their own gardens to provide them with the vegetables they need for their chefs.
 I have never seen pumpkins grown from and arbor. I have no idea what those long things are.
You can't really tell how big this is. At first, I thought it was a watermelon. But then, it looks more like some sort of squash. All of the fruits and vegetables here seem to be larger than I'm used to seeing in the US.
We continued on our way. This is one of the reasons I wanted to make the trek. I just had to walk down Via Santa Barbara. Turns out, it was really a little residential way. This is the first time that Butch said to me, "I'll wait here for you. Remember, each step you walk down is another step you have to walk back up." I couldn't NOT do it. I kept going---each turn was interesting. When I finally turned around, it was a long way back up.
Along Via Santa Barbara, there were smaller, private gardens. This grape arbor was loaded with green grapes. I think they will remain that way because we saw purple ones too.
 There were interesting gates and doors along the way. This one had a beautiful olive tree right next to it.
Look closely and you can see the olives. I was tempted to pick a few to take home, but then, that would be stealing!
 Here's one section of the steps that I had to walk back up. There were probably about this many more behind me. Still, this is nothing compared to the number of steps Butch has walked this trip.
These were the hugest lemons I've ever seen. Everyone must want to touch them, hence the sign. That coin is about the size of a quarter.
I spent some time people watching in the main piazza while Butch went off on another geo-caching quest. This one yielded a travel bug from Norway. He'll carry it back to the states and drop it off somewhere there. Finding travel bugs are always exciting.
 I have no idea what this vegetable is. I have never seen it before. It sort of resembles broccoli, but not really.
Here you can get an idea of how big the lemons are. They are larger than oranges. They aren't that way back home.

We stopped at a Lemoncello factory. Butch had a taste, but they would not let us in the back to see the operation. I guess that makes sense---health regulations. That didn't stop us from buying.

We relaxed with a beer (for him) and a glass of wine (for me) and shared a sandwich for lunch. After, Butch went to buy a large bottle of water. He walked a ways to a place that sells large bottles rather than get some smaller ones. Whatever he thought he saved, I spent by being left unaccompanied at the shops!

We went back to the hotel, rested and got ready for the concert overlooking the sea. We decided to have a cocktail at our hotel before leaving. I have to say now that the mosquitoes in Italy are horrible!!! We have made a note that we need to travel with bug spray. We have them in our room too. I've been making Butch hunt them down. The only good thing is that despite all the bites, they have not triggered a hive reaction. Anyway, they do make it miserable. I just seem to be bothered by them more than most people.

Anyway, when we got to the box office to redeem our voucher for tickets, we were both concerned about the mosquitoes since it was outside. The woman told us that we were going to be inside. We could hear the piano as we walked up the stairs. I thought they were warming up. When we got to the top, it was very embarrassing. Apparently, it had already started and we had to walk right across the front of the room. We found a couple of seats in the back and started looking at the program. It started at 7 where our information clearly stated 7:30. It didn't take long to figure out that we were in the wrong place. We waited for the pianist to finish his selection before sneaking out the back. We went back downstairs where the woman ended up giving us our money back. We don't know where the disconnect happened, but considering we've had 9 drivers, guides and transfer agents up to now, everything else has gone like clockwork.

We just stopped for another cocktail before finding a place for dinner.

We have not had a bad meal since we've been in Italy. At this place, we started with an appetizer assortment, cheese stuffed anchovies, seaweed balls and cheese stuffed prawns. We've had a lot of anchovies, but you just don't see them on a menu anywhere in the states. Sometimes, you can get them on your Caesar salad, but not often. All of it was delicious.
We had two main courses---veal scallopine and this pasta with salmon and cream. It was divine!
We walked back to our hotel where I was able to get a good night time picture. Really, I'm lucky my camera still works. I have dropped it so many times on the stone pavements. Today, I had it on my wrist, but was sort of swinging it when it flew off and landed and slid at least 10 ft. I thought it would definitely be dead, but it wasn't! What a kid-like thing to do.

Also, notice the cars parked in there? This is the first time I've seen that. This is supposed to be a pedestrian only place. At least that's what they told us as we had to walk here---following a guy in a cart with our luggage.
We saw this car drive in when we were having our cocktail on the square. Butch---who considers himself an auto aficionado---had never seen one before. When we discovered it in our hotel courtyard, I decided to snap a picture. Look how little it is. We still don't know what make or model it is. We looked all around and found the insignia on the front, but we could not make it out.

One final note. Last night, I was getting ready to wash my face before bed. I noticed these wipes and thought---"good idea---keeping people from wiping their make-up on their towels." When I opened it, it seemed more like a wet wipe and was the same type of cloth. I used it anyway. Today I discovered----since I had my glasses on---that it was a shoe wipe! Are you kidding me? No wonder my skin feels like leather today!

Tomorrow we're heading back to Rome to meet up with our friends from church. We get to meet the pope on Friday. Seriously, there are 3000 here with the religious organization we belong to, so I have no illusions that I'm going to actually "meet" him. I'm sure he's just going to talk to us and give us a special blessing. I'll take it!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 7---Ravello

I was so excited to be able to visit the Carthusia Monastery before we left today. Turns out, all of the information was in Italian, so I'll have to look up the actual history. I just know how it connects to the perfume---which of course, was why I wanted to see it.
 The monastery dates back to the 1400's.
 It looks like they've renovated as much of the frescos as they can. Those were pretty awesome.
 Now they've turned it in to a sort of art gallery. The "once gardens" were not much to look at.
However, the gardens from our hotel overlooked the monastery and made for a nice view. 

After touring we went back to the hotel to finish packing up. I left earlier than Butch---who was going to meet our transfer agent. That way, I could take my time and rest when necessary on the uphill climb. 

As I was exiting the hotel grounds, there was a tour underway. There was this really old man---all hunched over with a walker barely shuffling along. Seriously---someone should have told him how hard this would be. Once you come down, you have not choice but to walk back up. 

We have been so amazed at the people in improper footwear. Ahem---Sandy, Stephanie & Mindy---who sacrifices comfort for fashion---I used to do that too, back in the day. 

That reminds me of the very first time we came to Italy---probably 10 years ago. I got so mad at Butch. We were in Tuscany. He and his brother went to check out the place where we were going to have dinner.  He failed to tell me that you had to walk up to the walled city via a very steep road. I had on cute, strapless, wedges. It was nearly impossible to walk uphill in them. I ended up taking them off and walking barefooted---and you know how something like that wigs me out. Luckily for him---one of the best meals we had cooled me down! Now I'm careful to be sure to always have comfortable shoes when traveling. There's nothing that ruins the day faster as sore feet---or worse, blisters!
On the way up, I spotted this eye doctor's office. So, you're telling me that when people are traveling from around the world they suddenly decide they need glasses? Why else would there be foreign eye charts?

When I got to the top, I ended up taking pictures for a lot of tourists. I always offer. Being a scrapbooker, I know how to take a good picture. 

We got back on another boat for the trip to Amalfi where we were driven to Ravello. Oh My Gosh---I think this is my favorite place yet. Not only is it beautiful, when you get in to the actual town, it really looks like an ancient town. 
 This is the view from our window. Our "escort" threw open the windows wide. The only thing that could be better was if there was a little balcony to sit on.
 View from our window going in the other direction.

After unpacking, we set out for lunch and "investigating" (a term I heard a couple of British women use after I snapped their photo).
 Our first stop was this lovely garden of San Francisco. All of the following pictures are taken from it.

Within the garden walls is the concert stage. We're going tomorrow night and had planned to find out where it is. I'm really excited about it---what a way to spend our last night in Ravello---a concert under the stars overlooking the sea.
I had to take this photo of this enormous green iridescent bug. I've never seen anything like it before. It's about an inch and a half long. It's a little blurry because I didn't want to get too close. I used the "up close" feature on my camera, but was in too big of a hurry to get away from it.

I'm not sure what we're going to do tonight, but Butch is about to go crazy without some tv---or more specifically, sports to watch! I have to admit, I'm missing my phone games with family and friends.

Tomorrow, we'll continue to explore Ravello.