Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back Home

Good Old Home Sweet Home - trips are always nice, but I love being home, in my own bed with my own stuff. Petting my dog, opening my mail, checking my messages. Routine stuff, but my stuff on my turf.

Before we left, Emma wanted a new purse. She dug through my Kaffe/Westminster collection and came up with 2 fabrics that worked fabulously together. We made up a pattern with all the features she wanted and voila! Here's what we ended up with, and I think she is a very happy camper.

Doesn't she look like a happy camper?

I will post full vacation recaps as soon as I possibly can. This is the last of my "scheduled" posts.

I haven't forgotten that I promised a giveaway celebrating my 100th post sometime while we were away. Hope I can come up with something fun and worthwhile for a giveaway...this is not my forte!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mediterranean Paradise

The final leg of our journey takes us southward, past Naples (where pizza was invented), down the Amalfi Coast, to Pompeii, Sorrento and the island of Capri.

On our way to Sorrento, we will stop at Pompeii, location of the ruins left by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD. It is a sobering site to visit, but for history lovers, it is fascinating! A skilled guide here in Pompeii will make the story of the lost city come to life.

Mt. Vesuvius still stands regally overloooking the ruins, and tours are offered to the top where people can look down into the volcano. Some say it's just a matter of time before she once again erupts.

Sorrento is a quiet seaside resort, slower paced than the cities we've seen so far, and safe for teens to be turned loose for an evening. The shops are brightly lit and fully packed every evening - the town comes alive after 8pm.  Beaches here do not boast smooth sand; instead they are rather rocky and unappealing. The appealing part is the Mediterranean Sea - sheer beauty!

For regular readers of this blog, you might recall that a few months back I made a blue and yellow quilt that I called Sorrento. Well, here is why: the blue of the Mediterranean and the yellow of the lemons make these two colors symbolic of Sorrento, and the entire region, for that matter. A lot of the pottery produced here is blue and yellow, too. To see my quilt, click here.

The most amazingly huge lemons grow here. Some lemons I've seen here are as big as grapefruit. Limoncello is a delightfully tasty liqueur made in this region of Italy. Look at these beauties.

A short ferry right out to sea lands us on the very posh island of Capri. We have had a boat tour all around the island, and we have walked across, too, as it is only about a mile wide. There are parts of it that are very mountainous, but on these mountain tops some amazing villas have been built by the ultra rich and famous.

From here, we travel back to Rome for the last night of our trip. We board a flight to the USA in Rome, have a full day of traveling, and finally sleep in our own beds, at last.

I will report on how many yo-yos I made, and whether or not I got my 2 books read. Sometimes I can do these thing; other times I just cannot focus on them! And remember, because one of these vacation posts was my 100th, I am planning a little giveaway soon after returning home.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Eternal City - Roma!

How much history can one city boast? Of all the cities in the world, Rome probably rivals them all for breadth and scope of history.This list will give you history, to be sure. More history than one can truly appreciate in a quick tour of the city.

There's the Colosseum.

There's the Roman Forum.

There's the Trevi Fountain.

There's the Piazza Navona.

There's the Pantheon.

There's the Spanish Steps.

And towering over all of it is St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, with its adjoining Sistine Chapel.

Simply spectacular. The Vatican alone would provide days upon days of touring, yet we are doing all of this in 2 days...truly impossible to get anything more than random highlights. Taking a tour of this sort leaves one with the distinct desire to return and take a slower pace around the city to soak in all the sites.

In addition to seeing all the major tourist attractions, one must remember to savor the uniquely Roman style of leisurely dining.

A signature dish one must order when in Rome is Spaghetti alla Carbonara. It is divine. I make it often for our family, but I cannot duplicate the flavor of true Roman carbonara. And, Italians enjoy taking their meals outdoors - alfresco dining. Streets both major and minor are sprinkled with  outdoor cafes - cute little cloth-covered tables, umbrellas, music, and a complete menu to tempt hungry tourists and locals alike.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On To Firenz!

We say Florence, but if you look for it on a map in Italy, you will look for Firenz. It is located in the Tuscany region of Italy, and is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Here are 3 images that epitomize this incredible region.

It is a very hilly region, with fortified ruins at the peaks of the hills, and field after field of sunflowers, grapes and olive trees. The wine from this region is Chianti among others. There is also quite a nice leather industry here. I bought a fabulous purse on my last visit.

The main city in Tuscany is Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and while there are numerous well-known attractions here, the 2 that most people think of first are David and the Duomo.

Can you even imagine how huge this statue is? Even from afar it is enormous, especially when put in perspective with the tourists in the foreground. Do a google-search on this famous statue by Michelangelo and read all the interesting facts about it. And then watch the old movie, The Agony and the Ecstacy. Classic.

Here is a closer look.

From the Accademia Galleria where David is located, we walk several blocks toward the Duomo or as it's known to the Italians, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. I have a difficult time describing how massive this church is. As we make our approach, this building just looms larger and larger and larger. I don't think I have ever been so struck by the size of a church - even St. Peter's in the Vatican didn't strike me so impressively as this domed church with its layers of pink and green marble in the center of Florence.

 The Baptistry with its famous doors, and the Bell Tower are nearby, and the Piazza is always abuzz with tourists.

Bella Firenz!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lovely Venice

Saying goodbye to Switzerland and hello to Italy. And goodbye, high-speed rail; hello motor coach! For the remainder of the tour we will be on this bus, with the same driver and guide. By the end of the adventure, we will all be great friends. Having done 5 of these tours already, I am very familiar with Italy and coach travel.

Venice's elevation is zero. Duh, makes sense, doesn't it? Water for streets, gondolas and ferries for travel. The  breathtaking St. Mark's Basilica and Square are so very memorable. There are pigeons everywhere, and they will land on you (and drop a little doo-doo) if you are not careful. That's not too pleasant, but the sights are magnificent. The square and the church, too, are both prone to flooding, especially with high tide, so everyone just adjusts to it. I am afraid I would be worried sick, if I were a Venetian, at the thought of the loss of such grandeur due to the rising sea levels.

A gondola ride through the narrow channels of the city is a highlight, especially if you can get the gondolier to sing "O Solo Mio" at the top of his lungs! And they will, if they are in a jovial, playful mood. We tourists forget that they are at their job, and just like eveyone, sometimes the job becomes a drudgery.

For those who like to shop, Venice is famous for Carnivale Masks, Murano glass, and Burano lace.

This "little" chandelier will only set you back $4400 plus shipping - you say you want 2?

The Venetian Lagoon has many island, two of which are Murano and Burano. Back in 2001, our guide booked a boat for us to tour these islands - very memorable. I doubt there will be time on this trip for extra touring. Maybe I'll have to come back for that!

Buon Giorno!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hello, Lucerne, Switzerland!

Today we are boarding the high-speed TGV train from Paris to Lucerne! We have always wanted to ride a high-speed, especially my husband, so this will be a definitely awesome "first" for us! According to the literature, this train travels up to 200 mph, the world record! There are 4 levels of tickets, from economy to premier, and I will just assume that our tickets are of the economy variety, since we are part of a tour - keeping prices affordable is key!
We are in Lucerne for just the one night, but in the time we are here, we are scheduled to see Kapellabruecke, the Lion Monument, and an evening dinner theater which features folk music, yodeling, alpenhorn blowing, flag throwing and dancers in original Swiss costumes. Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane!

Tomorrow DD Emma, DH Kevin and I will load up the suitcases and hit the road early for Port Columbus International Airport, take a short jaunt to Cincinnati, and then a l o o o o o n n n g g flight to Paris!! We have been planning this trip for over a year. Emma's friend Olivia is along, as well, and we are traveling with 2 adults and 2 students from my former place of employment, Chillicothe HS. One of those adults is my dear friend Sharon, a fellow English teacher and avid quilter! We have been friends for almost 30 years, and have traveled together many times.

It goes without saying that I won't be quilting in the next 12 days. I do, however, travel with some stitching. This the perfect traveling project, so very compact, easily stashed into a carry-on bag ... yo-yos!!

I will cut a ga-zillion circles (using the butter-tub lid for a template) and just take the circles, thread, needle and nail-clippers to cut thread. (I've had too many pairs of small scissors taken in airports as security threats!!!)

We stay in Paris for 3 days/2 nights, and will see the main attractions: Place de l'Opera, Champs-Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. One really cool extra that we signed on for was an evening boat ride on the River Seine, ending with a trip up the Eiffel Tower to see the city by night! Won't that be incredible?
 I'm scheduling several posts to appear while we are gone. We get home on the 20th, but I expect I'll be jet-lagged, so real-time posting might not happen too soon.

Au revoir!

PS: By the time I'm back I believe I will have surpassed the 100th post on my blog! Whoo-hoo! I will be thinking of a little giveaway to offer as a way of celebrating. Sound good?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Friday Morning Quilt Group

I went upstairs to the sewing room Thursday afternoon to figure out what I'd work on at quilt group Friday morning. Gracie was cozied up  under the sewing machine, having a bath and looking very annoyed that I'd interrupted her quiet time.

I decided that I needed to finish the binding on Pam's quilt (which you saw in the last post). Isn't this a pretty border? And notice that fine, fine mitered corner. The bias plaid binding looks good with those swirly gee-gaws in the border, and the gently meandering quilting.

 At quilt group, we had 3 show-and-tells.

JoAnn showed off this great-looking table runner she is sending to a penpal in England who she's corresponded with since her school days - middle school or high school, I'm not sure, but it's been something like 30 or 40 years. Isn't that incredible? The table runner is of batiks, and I just love it.

Sharon hadn't gotten to share her Tulip Purse with us yet, so here it is:
And, Sharon also made a sweet little baby quilt for a soon-to-be-born grandbaby that she's waiting for.

You know how busy you are right before going on vacation? That's me, today. I've been rushing around doing lots of little odd jobs as we are leaving on a 12-day trip to Europe on Wednesday. I have typed up several blog posts to appear in my absence, so be sure to stop by to see what we are doing on our journey. 

I am also quite happy to see that the folks over at In Stitches listed my blog in the blogroll for today. Thank you!! And hello visitors!!

I hope visitors like what they see. If you leave comments, and I hope you do, please understand that they won't show up for awhile as I have the blog set to allow me to "moderate" comments. I had some very unsavory comments awhile back, so I am protecting the integrity of my blog by monitoring comments.

Okay, off to run a load of laundry and do some more packing!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another Retirement Quilt

In keeping with the tradition of retirees in our group of close friends, tonight we presented Pam with her Ohio State Buckeye quilt. Notice her scarlet and grey lei? We all had one!
Here are a couple of better shots of the quilt.

For this Buckeye quilt, I took on the responsibility of binding it. All free time this week was spent applying a very pretty red bias plaid. I love plaids on the bias for bindings.

Our history for retirement quilts began in 2001. The first quilt was for Kay who loves blue and white quilts - we made blue and off-white, and she was thrilled. We always make the same pattern. So far, I believe we have done 6 retirement quilts.

Last year, Lyn got her green and brown quilt in March, and I got my Kaffe quilt in May.

We use the same star pattern, but each one always looks so uniquely different - quilters know that the choice and placement of fabrics makes huge differences in a pattern, but it still amazes me.

Even more amazing is the friendship we all have. We all taught/teach at the same high school and bonded over our love of quilting. Three of the group still teaches, but they know when they reach retirement, they, too, will be getting a star quilt...just what fabrics will we use? That will be the surprise.