April Showers

Magnolia Monday

Magnolia Monday

Hon, you know the saying…

April showers bring May flowers.

It’s April and it was definitely raining today, but you don’t have to wait until May to see the flowers just as happy as we are that Old Man Winter is taking a long-needed nap!  These  Magnolia blooms danced then curtsied, waving their pretty pink petals at the audience– blades of grass, branches with buds, a little black doggie chasing a tennis ball and me.

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Crayon Box Burano, Fishing Village (Part 2)

Burano, Venice, Italy

Burano, Venice, Italy

Crayon Box Colored Homes

Burano, an old fishing village in the Northern Venetian Lagoon, is famous for its brightly colored homes as well as its lace-making. Legend has it that fisherman couldn’t recognize their houses through the fog, so they painted their homes bright colors.  It’s said that house colors have been with families for centuries. Today, if someone wants to repaint his house, he must send a request to the government, who will let the him know which colors are permitted for that lot.

When we toured the islands of Murano, Torcello and Burano, I’m glad our vaporetti, or water taxi, stopped at Burano last. It was definitely the jewel-in-the-crown.

Previous Post:  Crayon Box Burano, Venice, Italy (Part 1)

Striped curtains match house colors.

Striped curtains match house colors.

Many houses and buildings are adorned with religious wall plaques.

Many houses and buildings are adorned with religious wall plaques.

Laundry lines are a common sight.

Laundry lines are a common sight.

Pink up close.

Pink up close.

Colorful canal.

Colorful canal.

Crayon Box Burano, Venice, Italy (Part 1)

Burano, Venice, Italy

Burano, Venice, Italy

Burano is a photographer’s delight, a lagoon island filled with crayon box colored houses. Is it a tourist destination? Yes. Does every shop carry similar merchandise? Yes.

Yet, it was still an interesting place to visit.

We had booked tickets for a water taxi tour that made stops at Murano, Torcello and Burano. Of the three, Burano was the only island that felt inhabited. It’s known for its lace-making, so you can guess what most shops featured. Inside some shops were older women actually making lace, and I met a twenty-something salesgirl who showed me the lace earrings she was working on.

Between my interest in photography and my appreciation for needlework, I was in thrall at every turn.

Shops along the canal, Burano.

Shops along the canal.

School boys meeting by a first floor window.

School boys meeting by a first floor window.

Photographer's delight.

Photographer’s delight.

Hubby and daughters.

Hubby and daughters.

 

Religion in Rome, Michelangelo’s Pietà

Dome of St. Peter's

Dome of St. Peter’s

Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter's Square)

Piazza San Pietro (St. Peter’s Square)

Vatican Museum, Rome

Vatican Museum, Rome

The Vatican Museum was one of my favorite places to tour! I’ll definitely share some of my favorite sights in a later post, but in honor of Easter weekend I wanted to show you Michelangelo’s Pietà.

Michelangelo carved this beautiful Renaissance Carrara marble sculpture in less than two years, from 1498-1499. Our museum guide said that after Michelangelo heard people attribute the sculpture to another artist, believing Michelangelo too young to complete such a masterpiece, he decided to “sign” his name on the sculpture so no one would ever doubt that HE was the artist. He carved his name of the sash running across Mary’s chest. This is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed.

I was amazed by how fabric, muscles, veins and expression could be rendered lifelike in stone.

Have you seen this sculpture? What did you think?

Happy Holidays, hon!

Michelan

Michelangelo’s Pieta (professional photo source below*)–Mary and Jesus after the Crucifixion.

Michelangelo's Pieta

Michelangelo’s Pieta (There was a big crowd around this statue.)

 

*Sources: Photo attributed to Stanislav Traykov and Wikipedia

 

DIY Floral Arrangement

DIY Floral Arrangement

DIY Floral Arrangement

I love flowers and so does a friend who just celebrated her birthday.

When it comes to flowers, I usually just trim stems and place flowers in a vase.  But I got in the mood to dress up a pretty, ceramic bowl. This easy DIY Floral Arrangement is a perfect birthday, holiday or hostess gift as well as a centerpiece idea.

Happy creating (and Happy Holidays), hon!

Oasis floral foam.

Oasis floral foam.

Carnations and daisies.

Carnations and daisies.

 

 

 

 

 

Oasis cut to fit in small bowl.

Oasis cut to fit in  bowl.

Pretty in Peach!

Pretty in Peach!

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday bouquet.

Birthday bouquet.

Supplies:

1.  Vessel–this could be a bowl, vase, mug, glass or anything else you want to give as a gift.

2.  Floral Foam (Oasis)–can be purchased at a gardening center or craft store.

3.  Flowers–they must have sturdy enough stems to withstand being pushed into the foam.  I chose smaller flowers to complement the size of the bowl.

4.  Tape–the gardening center didn’t have floral tape so I used Scotch Tape.

5.  Pruning Shears or Scissors.

Steps:

1.  Cut floral foam to fit vessel.

2.  Sit foam in vessel and tape in place so it won’t shift.

3.  Trim flower stems to desired lengths.

4.  Insert flowers in foam, carefully, starting in the center and working your way out.

5.  Water flowers by pouring water in space between foam and vessel wall.  The foam will absorb a lot of water.  Holding flowers in place, pour off excess water.

Related Post:  DIY Clean-Lines Centerpiece

Please let me know if you have any floral arranging tips. I’d love to hear from you!

Mischievous-looking gnomes caught my eye at the garden center.

Mischievous-looking mini gnomes caught my eye at the garden center.

 

 

 

Rome at Dusk

Pantheon at dusk.

Pantheon at dusk.

Italy On My Mind

On our first night in Rome, we visited the Pantheon, an Ancient Roman temple “of all the gods.” I was awed and humbled by the Corinthian columns, marble floor, tomb of Raphael, enormous coffered ceiling and Occulus.

Gazing up and into the eye-like opening to the sky was other-wordly, mystical, magical. It felt like I was being watched, maybe even seen. My writer’s mind entered another dimension where characters whisper in my ear and scenes play in my imagination.

The concrete domed ceiling is a wonder unto itself. My guide book says “the dome was cast by pouring concrete mixed with tufa and pumice over a temporary framework” and the ceiling’s weight is reduced by the hollow decorative coffers.

Moody blues in a sunset sky.

Moody blues in a sunset sky.

Looking down on the Spanish Steps.

Climbing down the Spanish Steps.

Next stop was the Spanish Steps, a “combination of straight sections, curves and terraces.” If they’re this crowded in February, imagine how many people would hang out in the summer!

We had already spent some time in Piazza di Spagna, but in an “umm, we may be lost” way.

We took taxi from the airport to the city, and when our driver dropped us off in the middle of an intersection saying our hotel was right down the street, we said, “Sounds good.”  BUT, we walked up and down and couldn’t find our hotel. Picture extremely narrow, cobblestone streets packed with people and toy-sized cars. There we were, wheeling our luggage behind us, and getting worried (slightly panicky) when the street ended at address #50 and our hotel’s address was #93.

Yes, we asked shop owners and passersby if they knew the hotel (They didn’t.) and we couldn’t call the hotel without an international phone plan. So, we parked ourselves in Piazza di Spagna and tried to make sense of our map.

Hubby found a policeman and guess what? We were on the correct street! Unlike in the United States, where odd numbered addresses are on one side of the street and even numbers on the other, in Italy, numbers go up one side of the street and continue on the other side! If we had just looked on the other side of the street, we would have figured it out!

Horse-drawn carriages in

Horse-drawn carriages in Piazza di Spagna.

Hubby and Daughter.

Hubby and Daughter outside of our hotel.

Have you been to the Pantheon? What did you think? I’d love to hear from  you!

Source: Rome, DK Eyewitness Travel

Still Chilly Chili

Chili in the crock pot.

Chili in the crock pot.

It might be Spring, but you’d never know it.

Yesterday in Alaska–umm, I mean New Jersey, schools were dismissed early, car windows needed scraping and driveways needed shoveling.  Backing out of my San Francisco-like driveway required expert driving (thanks, Hubby) so that the car wasn’t totaled a few feet from the front door!

Our Arctic Zone weather requires comfort food, and I consider Chili a warmer upper.  Chili also reminds me of skiing, and since I’m the Queen-of-Connecting-the-Dots (see post Toasty Tushy Melts the I.C.E. for more dot connecting), I’ll tell you why.

When you’ve been skiing and you’re wondering if frostbite has set in, Chili is practically required medicine.  I’ve been to ski lodges where plugged in electric cords lead from walls to crock pots clustered on tables.  At lunchtime, simmering chili is ready to serve.  (Skiers are such trusting people!)

We recently went skiing and I decided it would be great if dinner was waiting for us when we came home.  Enjoy this recipe.  Hon, I hope, it warms you from the inside out.

A ski day is a good day!

A ski day is a good day!

I made extra a froze some for another time.

I made extra a froze some for another time.

Chili

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 (16-ounce) cans tomatoes (I used chopped tomatoes)

1 cup water

2 Tablespoons chili powder (depending on how spicy you like your chili, I used 1 Tbl)

1 teaspoon salt and dash of pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Optional:  2 (16-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained; other spices, such as paprika, dried mustard or whatever you want to sprinkle in

Directions:

1.  In a hot frying pan, brown ground beef.

2.  Place browned ground beef and remaining ingredients in crock pot, stirring to blend.

3.  Cover and cook on low setting 4 to 6 hours.

Don’t have a crock pot?  Don’t worry.

1.  In a frying pan, saute ground beef and onions until soft.

2.  Drain off fat.

3.  Transfer mixture to a large pot.

4.  Add remaining ingredients.

5.  Bring to a boil, them simmer, covered, 45 minutes.

Yield:  4-6 servings

Cancun Chaos

Are we headed to Cancun on Spring Break or a Girl Band named "Big Hair & Denim"?

College Girls.  Are we headed to Cancun on Spring Break or a Girl Band named “Big Hair & Denim”?

 Who can forget Spring Break?

My son and his college buddies recently returned from Spring Break in Cancun, a tourist destination known for beautiful beaches, turquoise water, and American students having a lot of fun.

When I told my college girl friends where my son vacationed, they all remembered our Spring Break in Cancun.  How could we forget it, especially our last night there?

Here’s the lowdown on the slowdown that  caused Cancun Chaos! 

Who:  Approximately 200 college students.

What:  Departure of a charter flight back to the U.S.

Where:  Cancun International Airport.

When:  8 pm (late ’80’s–could you tell from the hair?)

Why:  Good Question!

What Happened?

Shortly after arriving at Cancun International Airport, the shops brought down their gates.  Then, some airport employees left.  Then THEY ALL left!  Two hundred college kids were like, “What just happened?” and “Where’s our plane?” and “Holy Moly–we’re locked in!”

Apparently, our flight was cancelled or postponed or whatever!  So, the airline workers went home.  Guess what we didn’t have?  Cell phones (gasp!).  I remember being tired and angry.  If we’d known the flight was cancelled, we could have either stayed at our hotel another night or hung out with my childhood friend, who also happened to be in Cancun.  Ugh!

We had no way of letting anyone know we were stuck and no way of finding out when we might leave.  It was chaos!  Those who had bought Mexican blankets were in high demand.  The rest of us climbed on top of X-Ray scanner belts, pretended to be airline attendants and, basically, got delirious wondering if and when a plane would arrive.

And then?

Around 8 am, airline workers unlocked the airport doors.  They weren’t in a hurry and they didn’t apologize.  What did they care if a couple hundred American students had practically eaten their sombreros in desparation?

At 9 am, a charter plane arrived. What I don’t remember is if we all cheered upon takeoff or immediately fell asleep!

Open air market.

Open air market.

Hair and high-cut swimsuit--so Eighties!

Lots of hair and high-cut swimsuit–so Eighties!

Tanning in turquoise water.

Tanning in turquoise water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shout out to my childhood friend

Shout out to my childhood friend.

Hanging out on the X-Ray belt and, yes, crawling, through the machine.

Hanging out on the X-Ray scanner belt and, yes, crawling, through the machine at Cancun International Airport.

 Hon, do you have a ridiculous travel experience?  I’d love to hear about it.

Venice View

Laundry hanging to dry.

Laundry hanging to dry.

I admit it. I was camera crazy in Venice!

Something catches my eye and I have the urge to capture it. It’s always interesting to see if the photo I take highlights the element that drew me to the scene. I took these pics FROM the water during our Venetian Rowing Lesson (yay, Row Venice!).  I hope you think they are bellisima.

 Grazie!

The juxtaposition of the red flower boxes and building with the church behind set against a blue sky was.

The juxtaposition of red flower boxes and building with a church behind set against a blue sky said Italy to me.

Gondolier on his cell phone.

Gondolier on his cell phone.

This ambulance was in a hurry so we had to navigate our boat out of the way.

This ambulance was in a hurry so we had to navigate our batelina out of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

Venice buildings are so old!

Venice buildings are so old.

Seagulls are everywhere!

Seagulls are everywhere.

 

 

 

 

Murano glass.

Murano glass.

Happy colors.

Happy colors.

 

 

 

 

 

Eating outdoors even in February.

Eating outside even in February.

One point perspective.

One point perspective.

Canal, church and reflection framed by a bridge's arch.

Canal, church and reflection framed by a bridge’s arch.

 

 

 

 

 

Row, Row, Row Your Boat (in Venice)

 

Gondolas in Venice, Italy

Gondolas in Venice, Italy

Buon Giorno!

I recently traveled to Italy to visit one of my daughters (aka. Liquid Copper and Baby A of the triplets) who is studying abroad this semester. The food was fabulous, the art amazing, and meeting people from around the world was wonderful . Hon, you’re the recipient of the many photos I took.

Hubby said I was “dawdling,” but I disagree!

Bmore Energy’s tag line “I find the extraordinary in the ordinary” isn’t for nothing! In addition to our fascinating surroundings, there was so much to see. I wanted to soak in the shop windows, architecture, paintings and sculptures. I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me.

In Venice we could take a gondola ride, but wouldn’t it be more fun to learn how to row? We booked a Venetian Rowing Lesson with Row Venice, where we didn’t actually row a gondola but, rather, a batelina. Row Venice owns 3 out of the 6 of these hand-crafted, shrimp-tailed boats in existence today.

Learning how to row turned out to be a memorable experience!

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Our instructor, Nan, showing Hubby how to hold the oar.

Our instructor, Nan, showing Hubby how to hold the oar.

Hubby gets the hang of it.

Hubby gets the hang of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The oars are heavy!

The oar is heavy!

Stylin'!

Stylin’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rowing is MUCH HARDER than it looks!

Rowing is MUCH HARDER than it looks!

Gliding along the canal.

Gliding along the canal.

 

 

 

 

 

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Concentrating.

Concentrating.

On the lagoon.

On the lagoon.

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Have you been to Venice?  Are you a “Get-Me-On-A-Gondola” or a “Row-Like-A-Venetian” person?  

(I won’t judge, I promise!)