Thursday, October 30, 2014

Christmas Decor: Tartan

Sorry!…. I know Halloween isn't even until tomorrow…. but even here in Switzerland; IKEA and the smattering of home stores have been bedecked in Christmas decor this week…. and while I'm certainly not trying to rush through Fall;  I must admit that seeing it all gets me a little excited.

When it comes to holiday decorating; tartans are definitely my love language….. fabrics, wrapping paper, ribbons, throws and of course, dinnerware.  Spotted these beauties on One Kings Lane today…..

I've been slowly adding to my collection over the years (well-done classic patterns are surprisingly hard to find)… and love the cozy atmosphere that mixing and matching them with worn leathers, solid throws and Christmas greens creates….  

Is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Travel: Italy

Warning!!!  This is definitely not a 'Just One Thing' post.  It's more like 50 things!…. so feel free to breeze on by or keep reading for a little glimpse into our Italian adventure last week…  :)

The drive from Geneva to Rome is 9+ hours; so our first evening we planned a night in the Tuscan village of Lucca; about 2/3 of the way.  We intended to spend the afternoon there; riding bikes around the wall of the city and exploring the shops.  However, as is sometimes the case with road-tripping; we ran into a few unexpected snags…. a back-up at the Mont Blanc tunnel; rain; getting lost trying to find a planned lunch-spot in Genova… and then finding it only to discover it closed (ugh!); grabbing lunch at a rest stop and then getting stuck in a tunnel for an hour + due to a car accident.  Needless to say, we were thankful to arrive at a charming villa in the late afternoon; where we dropped our bags and headed straight over for a glimpse of Lucca before nightfall….

this path is actually on the top of the wall surrounding Lucca; love the gentlemen at the left playing a late afternoon game of chess

Villa del Papa

we'll take ours filled with that delicious Italian cream…..!

and a pool with a lovely surrounding hedge…. yes, please!

The next morning; we headed out for Rome…. our main destination for our trip.  Many folks have inquired why we hadn't seen Rome yet given we've been in Europe for 2+ years now and we have developed a serious love for so many other cities in Italy.  Truth be told; my guy had already been there a few years back and I, well, couldn't muster up the energy to tackle such a big city with toddler in tow  … knowing the necessity of long days and tours in order to learn about and experience the sites properly.  And, I'm glad we waited.

Rome is a crazy, bustling, amazing treasure trove of wonder….. one that takes stamina, focus, and an appreciation for the incredible insight into history few other cities can provide.  We tackled it in small pieces…. a Vatican tour one day; the Colosseum and Roman Forum the next…. ensuring space for just experiencing the city's many piazzas, parks and neighborhoods at least a few hours each day…  The girls were real troopers as we walked everywhere…. (a new experience for Marlowe who is used to being pushed in her stroller).   If I had to describe Rome in one word; it would be fascinating….

looking up at the apostle Paul's burial site

Villa Borghese

The entire family's favorite memory of the trip…. renting this to tour around the Borghese gardens.

Quintessential Italian door hardware

Looking up in the Vatican Museums

Yep, that balcony is where it all happens

Mailing postcards from Vatican City

How they built these - mind-boggling (The Roman Forum)

Even more mind-boggling

Ashtyn joked about getting a selfie with the Pope all week; and by surprise; we actually managed to see him as we were headed out of town… truly exciting!

Following three days in Rome; Chris returned to Geneva for work; and the girls and I headed back North to Florence.  One of the main highlights of the week for me was stopping for lunch on the way in the hilltop town of Orvieto.  While my head loves to wrap itself around the history and culture of the bigger Italian cities like Rome or Milan; my heart longs for the little hilltop villages full of warmth and charm.  My girls seems happiest here as well…..

One of the largest basilicas I have ever seen…. right in the middle of the tiny town of Orvieto
The girls are standing at the front entrance….

You know I loved this…. black and white marble stripes surrounding the basilica above

And, lastly, Florence….. Florence was a feast for the senses….. with the abundance of art, of course; as well as amazing food, music, shops and a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere.  A couple of folks had told me that 3 days in Florence was too many; however, I left feeling I needed at least one or two more… enough time to explore the leather markets and surrounding villas or wander down the cobblestone streets in search of the next delicious pasta dish. :)

We saw some amazing masterpieces in the museums for sure; but the street art left an equally big impression on us... 

This ranked very high on the top of my "favorite things" list… roaming thru the Boboli Gardens

 Looking up in the Uffizi

The masterpiece - David

Looking up in the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore

Our trip to Italy was what I'd hoped it would be; full of history, art, new discoveries and inspiration... and lots of gelato…with a few hiccups thrown in because they make for better stories, right? I certainly recommend any of these wonderful cities if you get the chance to live 'la dolce vita' for a few days sometime.

Back to short and sweet posts tomorrow!

Friday, October 17, 2014

EAT: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

In the realm of life's simple pleasures; the smell of pumpkin bread baking in the oven ranks pretty high on my list.  And, thanks to a sweet friend who was willing to trek to the American Food store here to hunt down a can of pumpkin for me (it's about as impossible to find as chicken noodle soup; JIF peanut butter and Rice Krispies…. fellow Americans, don't take canned pumpkin for granted! ;)) ; I was able to indulge in that pleasure yesterday afternoon...

This recipe is seriously worth giving a try…. a cinch to whip up; it's super moist and delicious… and, it goes without saying that chocolate makes anything taste better!  

It's hard to believe; but the girls have Fall Break all next week and we're heading out on a road trip thru  Tuscany to Rome and Florence.  If you are a fellow lover of 'la dolce vita'; please join us on Instagram…. be back soon!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Fashion: Shoes

Truth be told…. you are more likely to find me buying an apron or a blue and white ceramic bowl than a new pair of shoes.  As with many other things; I tend to stick with a few classics in footwear and then wear them on repeat until forced to replace them…. with the same or very similar pair (i.e. dark brown riding boots; black rain boots, cap toe ballet flats… even my moccasin slippers!).  Which is why it's a little bit of a surprise that this season I have two new "must-haves" popping into the rotation…. the kitten heel and oxford; both in black. These shoes look great with both jeans or black skinnies (which is all I wear in the Fall/Winter)… so really, it's just a matter of mood…. girly and feminine for date night or a little more masculine and practical for running errands….

…. what's your 'must have' shoe for Fall?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Seeing red….

… in a very good way….

Red is the great clarifier - bright and revealing. I can't imagine becoming bored with red - it would be like becoming bored with the person you love.
I tend to agree….