Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Black Skirt

I made this skirt from Ottobre on Sunday.

Okay, for the photo I pulled it wrinkled out of the laundry basket, but I wore it to a funeral yesterday with a black t shirt and black embroidered linen jacket. I realized I had nothing to wear except a winter skirt from faux suede, so I managed to find a length of black cotton/lycra jersey. It had some bleach spots on it, so I had to cut carefully. It's a 10 gore skirt, and I love using one pattern piece, so easy.

Ottobre fits me well, I didn't even have to shorten this one. I only made a small adjustment for tilted waist. It's nice knowing you have some patterns that will always fit with very little tweaking.

Green beans are going gangbusters.

Tiny baby jalapenos.

The skirt gave me the itch to make a few more things. I don't really have any fabric that I love right now, so maybe it's time to shop a little bit. My rotary cutter is about as sharp as a mill wheel, so I need to go to JoAnn's for new blades.

I've got a knitting project going, but I think I'll wait until there's more progress to post it. Getting ready to go out of town again next week, whew. . .


Friday, June 19, 2009


Here's my first green bean harvest. I'm going to cook some when I get another handful. These are White Half Runners.

The vines are really huge. I have a few pests on the green beans, but never enough to jeopardize the plant, which is nice. No spraying required.

Okra on the right, peppers on the left. I'm growing jalapeno, ancho, and red bell peppers. I didn't grow any peppers last year, so I hope these do well. Peppers are supposed to be easy.

I took this photo of a pearl sized tomato on Tuesday. Today, they are the size of golf balls. Growing well.

I wish I had some summer squash and zucchini, but after least year's stem borer heartache, I'm just. not. doing. that. again.

Needless to say, these lazy critters are no help in the garden. . .


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Beach Trip

It's the 8th year that dh's family has taken this trip, renting a big beach house in the same neighborhood. We used to stay in a smaller one 3 rows from the beach on a golf course. Now we're staying ocean front and close to a hotel because the teenagers enjoy walking down there to (watch boys?) drink virgin daiquiris? Something.

Shelling was bad when we first got there, so we chartered a small boat (if you can call it a boat, it was a rubber raft with a motor on it) and went to a neighboring island on a shelling expedition/dolphin cruise.

Riding in the boat.

Dolphins! It's so hard to get a photo with a digital camera.

More dolphins! The shelling was terrible on the island, but after we got back to where we were staying it picked up. It's a mystery to me what determines whether the shells are abundant or not (weather? tides? season?).

I don't have a photo, but we found 5 or 6 shark's teeth on this trip. There were a lot of patches of small broken-up shell and if you looked through those you could find them. I found two black ones, the rest were more gray or gray/pink. This is the first time I've ever found any.

There was a big piece of driftwood right in front of the house. You can see one of the shell patches around it. People were stopping to sit on it and take pictures constantly. We had a professional photographer come to take some photos, need to go pick mine out, it's gonna be expensive.

Starfish. Love the pattern he was making in the sand.

This year's tattoo. They never last long enough.

I got about 3 letterboxes, the mosquitoes were rabid, so I didn't do more than that. The kids parasailed, we got our nails done, worked some jigsaw puzzles, played mini pirate golf, painted pottery, shopped some. A very nice trip. Now I'm headed to Snapfish to work on a digital scrapbook. I need to do last year's too, thank goodness I didn't take a lot of pictures this time.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Using my new chips and salsa set by the pool. See how the salsa cup clips to the side?

Friday, June 12, 2009


Having a great week at Hilton Head.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Miscellany on Barcelona and Rome

First the souvenirs.

Limoncello and olive oil. I gave the olive oil to my house sitter, but it had spicy red pepper in it. Haven't tried the limoncello, but I might take it to the beach next week.

Bought myself this handmade leather bag in Italy. It was around $100 US, smells fantastic. The shop had them in every color you can imagine. It's lined with a pretty silk print.

This is a *guns and roses* display in a perfume shop. Weird, huh?

The Coliseum. This was very interesting. We wanted to spend some more time looking at the ancient things, but our guidebook failed us again on what route to take, so we got hot and frustrated and got a taxi out of the area.

This is one of the direction signs at St. Peter's square that is a clue in Angels and Demons. I couldn't remember which exact one was THE one, but this is what they look like.

That's it for the photos. Now, notes on the Kindle: I loaded several guidebooks onto my new Kindle (Ebook reader) for this trip. That was a mistake. You cannot read any of the maps on the Kindle, which makes the books almost useless. I had Rick Steves' Rome, Frommer's Rome and Barcelona, and a couple of cheapie no names that were worthless. I actually used and had physical copies of Fodor's Rome and Barcelona because they weren't available on the Kindle and I carried them with me. I like to be able to point to a location on the maps for my cab drivers and this would not work at all with the Kindle. Of course, we had quite a few failures with the Fodor's Guides, particularly in Rome. Next time I'll carry all the heavy guidebooks and just take my novels on the Kindle.

This is all from me for this week. We are leaving for our annual beach trip with dh's family on Saturday, so I'll be back after the 13th. . .


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Promised Food Post

The first set of photos is from Rome.

We ate gelato every day in Rome. I didn't order dessert at the restaurants, but dd typically did. She had tiramisu, cheesecake, and chocolate cake. Sorry, I didn't snap any photos, they were gone too quickly for that.

Sorry this is blurry, but it made me laugh was I was walking by and I was trying not to disturb the diners with my picture taking. We had bad luck with the food in Rome. The restaurants recommended in the guidebook were nonexistent, or unfindable, or something. We ended up eating a lot of bad tourist food. The best meal was the first night we got there, in the hotel restaurant.

This is gnocchi with a tomato, mozzarella and basil sauce, and it was pretty good. They charged me an extra 2 Euros for the dish because the gnocchi was fresh. ???

Veal scallopine that dh had. He didn't comment either way.

Spaghetti carbonara. The pasta dishes are supposed to be a first course, between the appetizer and the main course, but I always ordered mine as a main course. I don't see how anyone can eat 4 or 5 courses. . .

These photos are from Barcelona. They seem to use a lot of olives there, so dd wasn't a fan. I loved it.

Caprese salad. They give you bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to put on it. Yum.

This was an appetizer from a tapas place in Barcelona. It had fish and olives on the bread. Tasty, but a bit strong.

Bread with tomato juice and olive oil with a dish of olives on the side. A very popular appetizer.

The Iberian ham is a big deal here. I had some at the hotel restaurant, along with some fruit (pineapple and kiwi), just fabulous. This at the Boqueria market again.

Bad photo, but the best meal I had in Spain. Chicken with apples at a restaurant with the menu in Catalan. Dd is taking Spanish and I wanted her to help me with the menus, but neither of us could figure this one out. The nice waiter translated. She ate a wonderful cheesecake here for dessert. Oh, and we had Tortilla Espana, which is potatoes and onions cooked like an omelet in scrambled eggs. Very delicious.

This is a pizza dd had at a really touristy stand in Barcelona. She liked it just fine.

I had this paella at the same place, and it was just plain bad. Okay, I was starving and I ate most of it anyway, but this was definitely my worst meal in Barcelona. Wish I had time to seek out a better place to have this dish.

So, that's the overview. I really didn't take the time to research the restaurant situation, we played it by ear, so we ended up with a few not so great meals. Maybe another time when I'm not focused on the sightseeing I can focus more on food.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009


This was our first trip to Rome, or Italy for that matter, and it was a lot to plan. I feel like I'm studying for an exam or something when it comes to trip planning, obsessing over guidebooks, trying to figure it all out. We used a guided tour for the Vatican Museum Collections and it was fabulous. The name of the company is Context Travel. Our guide made sense of this massive museum for us, showing us all the highlights.

This is the Map Hallway leading away from the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

Lacoon, also at the Vatican. I remember studying this sculpture in art history class. We saw a ton of college kids there on tours and taking notes.

And of course, we also went to the Zoo in Rome.

A wandering peacock. The Rome Zoo was decently sized, but not very well kept. It had a lot of empty exhibitions and it looked like they were getting ready to do some upgrades. I loved seeing all the little Italian kids there on field trips.

A view of the river from Castel St. Angelo.

This is a not so great photo of the Bernini fountain in the Piazza Navona, where the Cardinal in Angels and Demons gets put into the water tied down to a weighted handtruck. We tried to find as many Angels and Demons spots as we could. Saw the movie the night before we left.

Inside shot of the Pantheon. Another favorite from Art History class.

Trevi Fountain. The only picture of both of us. A couple from Atlanta(!) took it after we took one of them. Note to self: must rent La Dolce Vita movie to see the fountain scene.

A glove shop. I thought the colors were so beautiful. It's hard for me to fathom a shop selling only gloves.

Spanish Steps. We sat out here for quite a while, people watching and taking it all in.

By the fourth day of this trip, dd was ready to go home. Our telephones didn't work at all, so it was hard not being able to text her friends (poor kid, I know!). She also needed quite a bit of rest and downtime, so I was constantly having to balance that with all the sightseeing and walking. I think it ended up about right, letting her do somethings she enjoyed (zoo, shopping) every day and then limiting the boring museums to some extent.


Monday, June 01, 2009


We made it back from our trip safe and sound. This is me in Gaudi's Parc Guell. I really wanted to see these benches because of an Almodovar movie with Penelope Cruz sitting on them. They looked so intriguing in the movie and the real thing did not disappoint.

The lizard is on the stairs at the entrance to the park. I bought a tiny version of it, about three inches long, as a souvenir for ds.

DD (age 12) and I were in Barcelona on our own and she really wanted to see the zoo. It was a great zoo, very big and well maintained, with lots of animals. There were peacocks running loose, and making their scary sound, which gives the place a lot of atmosphere. We even saw a peahen with tiny chicks.

Dolphins, although we were too late to see the dolphin show. I would rank the Barcelona Zoo on par with the Houston Zoo, much better than the Atlanta Zoo.

This is a Gaudi house and museum that was a block down from the hotel. The mosaics were so gorgeous.

This is the Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi cathedral. This building was begun in the 1880s and they're still working on it. You can see the workers in the middle of the church, pouring forms for the decorations while touring the church (and the cranes in the photo). It was amazing, you could see a figure or animal almost every place you looked.

Vegetables in a stall in the Boqueria market, on the main tourist drag called *La Rambla*. This street had lots of stands with rabbits and turtles for sale.

We shopped around in some Juniors or Teens clothing stores and dd bought a couple of tops. I had to snap a picture of these jeans. . . The young girls in Spain are all wearing M. C. Hammer pants. I never thought I would see the day. Some of them were knit capris, but the crotch was down between the knees. You could fit at least a few Depends under these things. . . Every time we saw a pair, I would start humming *U Can't Touch This* much to dd's chagrin.

I'll try to blog the rest of the trip in separate entries over the next couple of days. (A food post is coming for sure.)


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