Thursday, May 31, 2012

roll out the lazy hazy crazy days of SUMMER

Last Thursday was my first grade class's last day of school, Friday was my final day up at school for the next 2 1/2 months, and we celebrated Memorial Day earlier this I can officially say it is SUMMERTIME! 

I have already stepped into my summer groove over the past two days which consist of morning workouts, walking Rosie before it heats up for the day, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner alfresco, and focusing on creative projects that I have been yearning to do all school year! 

My SUMMER TO DO LIST consists of posting more on the blog here throughout the week, making a picnic quilt, Sunday Soirees with my family, Utica Square concerts, days relaxing by the pool, cooking/baking new recipes, fresh food from the Farmer's Market, taking time to work on some designs/projects that I have been thinking about for awhile now with mom, 
So You Think You Can Dance with our usual Custard King, traveling to BRECKENRIDGE in less than one month with our family-CANNOT WAIT, hopefully selling our house (crossing my fingers!!!), reading books that have been on my bedside table for months, and enjoying the beauty of doing nothing!

Today there are clouds in the sky with a cool breeze and just reaching 71 degrees- it's wonderful. In Tulsa, we have to soak up these kind of days for they are rare throughout the summer. 

"Something wonderful happens in the summer when the sky is heavenly blue."
-Frank Sinatra

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Red, White & Blues

Saturday was berry picking day! We headed out early to Thunder Valley Ranch where you can pick blackberries, blueberries & raspberries when they are in season. We loaded up on blues and were able to find a couple of handfuls of blackberries. So sweet right off the bush and we discussed what the future might hold for our buckets of berries - pancakes, pie, topping our cereal and yogurt in the morning, muffins, tossed into a salad, and if we got ambitious...jam!

Monday, May 21, 2012

3 days in Tuscany...

Our next stop was gorgeous Tuscany, breathtaking vistas any way you looked! We rented a car and nervously made our way out onto the highways of Italy. We learned to read traffic signs, ignore the natives as they sped past us, how to pump gas and follow vague road maps. Our first day of driving took us through Chianti country where we stopped for lunch at Castello di Gabbiano, a winery and agriturismo. Had a wonderful lunch and a "sweet ending", as our waiter described it, of limoncello. We kept heading south in a light rain until we came to our lodging at Hotelito Lupaia~what a dream! It was right out of a storybook, so charming and even had a resident puppy, Sponge, who became a frequent visitor to our terrace. Our first evening we had dinner at Lupaia by a blazing fire on a cool, rainy night~ a four course meal made by Franco, the resident chef. For the next few days we visited the neighboring towns of Sienna, Montepulciano, Montalcino and Pienza. We walked cobblestone streets, searched for parking and a great leather purse, ate delicious pasta and gelato, tasted wine, admired hand painted ceramics, and soaked up the scenery. 
 road to Castello di Gabbiano

 grapevines at Gabbiano

gate to our terrace at Hotel Lupaia

 our "loaded with charm" room

 outside our door

 old aqua door

 view from our room - aaaaahhhh

at dinner our first night

 dessert -  chocolate "salami" with orange marmalade- reminded me of the dark chocolate oranges I put in the girl's Christmas stockings

 the homey, colorful kitchen at Lupaia

 you can't get much more colorful!

Sponge - one of our friendly hosts!

Piazza de Campo in Sienna

 Torre del Mangio in Sienna

 Sienna Duomo

dome of the cathedral

 farmland out the car window

 stand of cypress trees

arriving in Montepulciano

part 2 of Tuscany trip to come....

Monday, May 14, 2012

Italy via Dusseldorf

My sister and I just returned from a long planned trip to Italy. All the planning in the world couldn't stop hail from postponing our flight out of Chicago that caused us to miss our connections and take us on another route....through Dusseldorf. It was stressful at the time but we were able to laugh it off later....until upon arrival in Venice our luggage had not made it with us. That is not the news 2 women want to hear after 2 full days of air travel and no change of clothes. But again, we laughed it off....once we found our hotel and had a midnight dinner of pasta. We used our ingenuity to get ready the next morning and make ourselves presentable and even bought a couple of dresses that hopefully Air Berlin will reimburse us for.  None of this could dampen our spirits as we headed out that day to explore Venice. (Our luggage did finally arrive late the next night and we were elated.)

Here are a few of the MANY photos from the first leg of our trip.

 our first meal - I would like to re-eat this!

 the view from our room of the terrace ~ a nice place for breakfast

 and here is breakfast!

 the famous and beautiful Cafe Florian

 some kind of veteran tribute was happening on St. Mark's Square ~
 lots of pomp & circumstance

 view of the Grand Canal

 market day ~ I would love to have bought lots of this

 prugne anyone?

 so many kinds of fresh fish

 a busy day on the canal

 we break for dolci ~ a sweet surprise-a chocolate filling!

 the gondolier uniform

 cute shop display on the canal

 the Rialto Bridge where the market takes place

laundry day

 view from our gondola - right off the bucket list!

 so peaceful

 yellow flowers, pink walls, blue shutters

 on our way to dinner at Ristorante Al Covo

 the square at night

 dueling orchestra at Cafe Florian ~ so beautiful

 mass at St. Mark's Basilica

 gorgeous colors and amazing work

Hotel Florian where we stayed

our rainy departure from Venice via the vaporetto

this is part one of our trip, more to come!