Friday, May 29, 2009

Italian Driving

Watching people drive has been interesting. If you think it's crazy to drive and talk on you cell phone in America, you should see people doing it here. We noticed that many cars have dents in the side. Surely from coming too close to another car. People on motorcycles and scooters have no problems driving between cars. Speaking of scooters, it is amazing what can be carried on one. The Italians use them like a minivan. I saw someone carrying a 6 foot copper pipe and a lady carrying a 6 foot bamboo shade while riding the bike. Kim and I saw someone carrying three propane tanks on his scooter. BOOM! It is not unusual to see a family on the scooter. Child in front of dad and mom in back of Dad on the bike. There are scooters everywhere, especially in Sorrento. We had talked to our driver about the scooters. He said that cars have to stop and go. Scooters just go! Boy was he right.

Another thing that I noticed about Italian motorcyclists, everyone wears a helmet. Is it a law or are the people in Italy just value their grey matter a little more. The little girls have the cutest little helmets. They are pink or have flowers painted on them. I saw a father with two little girls on his bike and they both had matching pink floral helmets. cute, cute, cute.

In Italy, there are stop signs and stop lights. We still haven't figured out who they are for though. No one seems to stop at these.

Parking is a trip. If you can squeeze into a space, it's yours.

Notice the dents on the car on the right.

Italian Fashion

One thing that I noticed about Italian accessories is that Italian women do not wear engagement rings. I have yet to see someone with an engagement ring on. However, the interesting part, is that in Venice and the Isle of Capri there are so many high end jewelry shops. There are engagement rings galore and other beautiful necklaces, earrings etc. We had stopped by a small shop. Kim had noticed a HUGE engagement ring. The shop owner was kind enough to tell us that the ring was a yellow diamond and was 13 carats. Yikes! Who is buying the jewelry if not Italians? That ring is the ring on the lower right. The other solitaire is a yellow sapphire.

There were certain regions of Italy where you could get custom made shoes and sandals. Sorrento and the Isle of Capri had several sandal shops. Many of the sandals have wonderful beads all over. You can get custom made shoes in Rome. However, the prices were above my budget.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Italian Food

We have been on the "P" diet since we arrived. Pizza, pasta, pannini and proscuitto. The food has been simple but wonderful. Pizza has been thick and thin, both with lots of cheese. Sorrento is the known for growing lemons. There are lemon and orange trees all over the region. We have been drinking lemon ice when we can. They are sour, but oh so cold. It hits the spot. Last night at dinner I ordered lasagna. I guess I didn't pay attention to the menu very well. The lasagna was a little different tasting. I did notice that there was chopped up ham in the dish. Towards the end, I saw that there was also scrambled eggs in the lasagna. It was so pretty I had to take a picture of our food. Kim had ordered the spaghetti cabanara. Not sure if I am spelling that right.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sorrento, the Italian Riviera

Here we are on our first Mediteranean cruise. Haha! We are actually taking the boat back from Amalfi.

We visited Pompei. It is about a 20 minute walk to the train station and a 30 minute train ride. It was somewhat difficult to tour the ruins. We decided not to hire a tour guide and then we were too far up the hill when we thought renting the audio-guide would have been a good idea. There isn't very good markings about where you are on the site. There are mostly signs in Latin and some in Italian. It took us a while to find our way back to the entrance.

The picture of the bus was our first day trip along the Amalfi Coast. The views are gorgeous. Halfway to our destination, our bus quit working. We had to stop for some road repair and when it was time for the traffic to move, the bus wouldn't move. I didn't need to understand Italian by watching the bus driver's reactions and arm movements. I was a little nervous when all the Italian drivers in back of us started honking their horns. It took about 20 minutes to get going. Either the engine got too hot driving the cliff or the brakes. I was nervous on the first hairpin turn but the bus was able to use it brakes and we stayed on the road instead of being in the sea.

Our hotel is wonderful. We have a sea view. We are maybe an 8-10 minute walk to the action in Sorrento. We are only on our second stop and we both had to buy an extra piece of luggage. Yikes! What are we going to do when we get to Rome? The picture that shows the sea and Sorrento was taken from our balcony.

The final picture is a street scene from Sorrento. It is considered a resort town. It is really in the middle of the action along the coast. Very easy to get to the Isle of Capri, Pompei and the Amalfi Coast. At night, the police block the street off and it becomes a pedestrian walkway.

I've had a request to post pictures of some Italian men. The request is coming from Lauren and her co-workers. I hope I have enough memory in my camera! I'll see what I can do for you Lauren! I may have to just take their backsides since it's not nice to post someone's picture without their permission.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Venice Day 1 and 2

Here we are at dinner last night. We had spaghetti cabanara. The pasta had cream, bacon and ham in it. I took a picture of the Venice police officers. Something must have been going down or some dignitary must have been in town yesterday. On one block, there were 4 police officers on all the corners.

We (me) have been having difficulty with the computers here. I have a language barrier and a keyboard barrier to overcome. The last two places, we had a European keyboard so the symbols are in different areas and I kept hitting Arabic symbols so it takes about 3 times the time to get something typed. Yesterday we found a copy shop and asked about email. They had a computer there available for rent. Unfortunately, when I got on, Windows was in Italian and I couldn't figure out how to reduce my pictures. There was a young man there named Marcello. It sounded like Marcello was the computer expert but he didn't speak English, neither did the shop owner or another helper. Luckily, we had Mitsu from Japan who spoke several languages. He was able to get us going and had Marcello reduce my pictures. Mitsu is a sports writer for a Japanese magazine. His job is to cover Italian soccer. So in the future, if you see some rough writing or pictures, it's because I'm working in another language. We were actually rushed also yesterday because students wanted to use the computers.

We are having a great time. Seeing Venice from the air was amazing. So far, we've had gelato each day. I had some great pizza. I'm having a little problems I think with the smoke. Hopefully, the allergies will clear up soon Love to all.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Venice day 1

We arrived to beautiful weather in Venice yesterday. My major error was not really understanding how warm it was here. It took the help of at least three men to help get Kim and I to be able to blog. Our hotel is right on the corner of two canals. The buildings are even more wonderful in person than looking at the pictures.

It looks like we still are having problems getting the picutres up and my 30 minutes are up. I honestly dont knot if I will be able to figure this out.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Packing Challenge

My friend Kim and I have less than 48 hours until we leave for Italy. I was determined to only do carry-on bags for the 16 day trip. I spent considerable time searching for the perfect backpack. I ended up with the Jansport Euro Sak with 3250 cu inches of packing space. The backpack should be large enough. It's just maybe not the most ergonomically correct bag. I feel like I might qualify as a mini Wal-Mart or small city. I have a small library, drugstore, mini Sephora, laundromat, office supply store and clothing store. I am prepared for the "hole in the floor" toilets (God forbid). I'm bringing several books to read to keep me occupied during our layovers. For our last vacation to Arizona, I brought 3 books and finished them before the week was out. I think I'll be able to finish 4 books in the two weeks time just in the airport and reading at bedtime. What you don't see is my pages of research. I've spent lot's of time searching for places to shop. No matter where I travel, I always seem to find a Sephora store. Lucky for me there is a Sephora within a 5 minute walk from our hotel in Rome. I'm hoping to score an Italian perfume that isn't sold here in the states. I still need to get a few things into the backpack.

The other item that I spent way to much time researching was for a day bag. For saftey reasons, you are advised not to use a backpack or a fanny pack. I thought that a messenger bag would be my best option for everything that I would be carrying throughout the day, ie umbrella, jacket, water bottle, maps, camera. I finally decided on a PacSafe bag. The pickpockets and Gypsies will have their work cut out for them if they are looking to steal my stuff. In fact, I'll have a time trying to get stuff out of my bag! The bag isn't a very attractive color but when I decided that I needed to order something quick, I scored this bag on clearance. I was going to order a black bag and knew the price was $100.00. This color of brown must be discontinued because I bought it for $30.00. I'll put the $70.00 savings to good use while sandal shopping in Sorrento,

I think that I succeeded in the challenge. I am pretty tight with my little liquid ziplock bag but I should be fine.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Baby Gifts

Lauren has a baby shower coming up for a friend. She is making a diaper cake and wanted some personalized things for the cake. I made a little tag toy, burp cloths and embroidered the onsie. I don't like working on the onsies because they are so small. I usually put the baby's name on the burps but the mom changed the spelling of the name and Lauren wasn't sure what she was going to end up with. I decided just to do a monogram design instead.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Outfits for Melanie's Little Peanuts

Lauren's friend Melanie is visiting her this weekend in NYC. I've been wanting to make something for the kids but haven't gotten to it. So her visit to Lauren inspired me to get busy. Jordan's name was suppose to go on his t-shirt under the playground kid but my mother called me at 7am while I was stitching this out and I wasn't able to think about my project and talk to her at the same time. I shut my machine off before his name was due to be stitched. There was no way I could go back and fix since I had taken the t-shirt out of the hoop before I realized my mistake. I came up with a solution. I put his name on his shorts.

I had seen some cupcake fabric at Hancock Fabrics and thought it was so cute. It just so happened that Embroidery Library was having a sale and I bought three cupcake designs (amongst other designs). So I truck over to Hancock's to buy the fabric. I wanted to make a little pair of capri's for Mikayla. After looking at the cupcake fabric a little closer, I decided that it just wasn't right for the capri's. The cupcakes were too large and the fabric had glitter in it. I looked around and found this sweet little seersucker fabric with embroidered watermelon slices. Wouldn't you know, I didn't have any watermelon designs. So back to I go. Luckily, this week's sale had coupons that I could use for whatever designs I wanted. I found the watermelon design and away we went. Hopefully, everything will fit the kids. Lauren and I had just guessed what sizes we thought the kids would be.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sweat Shop is Back in Business

The sweat shop has re-opened. It had been shut down for the weekend due to child regulators banning sewing equipment being in the same room as prom dinner guests. What I really need to do is to add my other two machines to the table. I usually have two machines at the table. I'm thinking that three would be better. Each machine having a special job. The baby items that I make call for different stitches and methods hence the different machines. The burps go back and forth between embroidery, serging, decorative stitches and regular sewing. My husband (the whole family for that matter) does not like how the sewing area keeps taking over the house. I've run out of room in my sewing/laundry room. I've run out of room in the guest bedroom. So now, I move into the dining room to sew because of the table space. My goal is to get several projects finished this summer. The task being more fabric out than fabric in. Can I do it?

Here's a look at what I've been working on. I've got a onsie that has "Diaper Diva" embroidered on it. I started making a little 6 inch tag toy. I embroidered the baby's initial and I now need to sew it into a little tag blanket. I still have several burp cloths to embroider and put together. At the machine, I'm embroidering a Weight Watchers Pocket Holder for one of our WW at Work leaders. She requested a pink and green holder. I still need to make a holder for Whitney and a couple more for work. The baby items will be shipped to NYC to my daughter. She has several friends who are expecting this year. Burps are a lot of work, but I love looking at them when they are finished and hope the parents enjoy them as much as I do. What you don't see is all the quilts in different stages of completion.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Need I say more?

I'm Not Obsessed!

Well, at least not with the cowgirl fabric yet. I have a small start of a collection. This is also mine. I am not going to give this away. The girls were calling my name. One day I was in Hobby Lobby and saw this fabric on clearance. No one wanted it. It was up to me to save EmmyLou, Ruby, Nell, Ma and Kitty from further humiliation by being in the clearance bin. I brought the fabric home where it is loved and wanted. Now I just need to find some companion fabrics for the cowgirls. I know just where to find some, It's amazing the email newsletters that I'm on.

Cowboy Love

What can I say. I love quirky things. About 3-4 years ago, my little nephew was visiting. He spent all of Thanksgiving holiday with a holster around his hip and a bandana around his face. One day, I saw some cowboy fabric and it made me think of him. An obsession was born. I picked up fabric from all over. Leave it to me to find a fabric store out west that only sells cowboy and western fabric. When I saw the cowboy toile on the website, I had to have it. You can see that I have one cowboy quilt in progress. One has already been made so that is why my collection is dwindling. You can see two of my favorite fabrics on the left. The "brand" fabric and the cowboy toile. Did the French have cowboys? Do you see the fabric with the large cowboys on the horses? I have a couple of lil' cowboys in my life but that fabric is mine, all mine.

Prom Dessert

I wanted to show everyone the dessert the kids had for prom dinner. A big thank you to Terry Rathsack who made the dessert. Terry is the executive chef for a company in town. The company owns what is called (I think) The Farm. This is where the visitors to the company stay instead of a hotel. I believe that there are company functions held there also. So needless to say, when I heard a chef was coming to the house I was very nervous. I can cook for family but God forbid what a chef would say about the menu and how I did. The Rathsack's contribution was Tiramisu. Luckily, there were maybe 5 pieces left for the adults to share. It was excellent. I wish I had had more time, in a less hectic setting to discuss baking with him. We did talk about getting Creme Anglaise to not curdle. Double boiler!

All the parents and siblings did a wonderful job of prepping, cooking and serving the food. I wish you all could have seen how wonderful the presentation was. The punch goblets had strawberries on the rim as a garnish. I've never had a staff of 10 under me! I need this crew for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Cute Couple

Finally pictures of Conor and Taylor. Is it no wonder why they were voted "Cutest Couple" for the yearbook. Awww, they do look cute. Pictures were taken at a park near the house. The kids then came back to the house for dinner. We served 5 couples for dinner. In addition to the prom attendees, we also had the parents and siblings. The adults got the leftovers. We were going to wait until the kids left before we broke out the alcohol but once the men went out to grill they thought it would be a good idea to open the Italian beer. So beer, wine and food was passed around in the kitchen all night. We did break out the blender when the kids left and Tyler's mom and sister made grasshopers for all of us. Jeff and I had a great time. I hope the kids and parents did also.

Prom Tablescape

I was having difficulty figuring out what I was going to do to decorate the table for prom dinner. I didn't want it to look too much like a wedding reception. The theme for prom was Arabian Nights and we served an Italian menu. Hmmm, what to do. I talked with one of my co-workers. He loves to decorate and is very good at it. He sent me an email about 30 minutes after I told him I was at a loss for an idea. He thought I should try to marry the two themes and sent me pictures of a Moroccan tablescape. Perfect. Now the problem was to see if I could find something in Appleton. I checked out Hobby Lobby, World Market, Pier One and Gordman's. As it turned out, the last place I went was Gordman's and they had what I needed on clearance to boot! Thanks David!

Now that I had the lanterns home, I needed to decide what to put with them. The morning of prom, I took the leftover dress fabric and made a tablerunner. I also used the fabric that we bought but didn't use for the dress and added that around the lanterns. I could kick myself because I didn't get enough pictures and I was knee deep in the dinner preparations that I forgot to light the candles in the lanterns. Duh, that was the focal point and I messed that up. So here is my dining room. We call it the Hemmingway room because it has items in there from our travels. Now, you add the Moroccan theme with my Amish table and this is what you get.