Friday, July 31, 2015

Five On Friday: Cottage Sunsets

Hello- and welcome to another weekend! 
Friday is upon us again, and just like always, I am joining in Amy's (Love Made My Home) weekly series, Five on Friday. 
The family just returned from 4 days at a cottage that my sister had rented in a river-front town about 5 hours from home.  We drove up on Monday and spent several days splashing in the water, lounging on the grass and eating copious amounts of delicious food! 
I took a zillion photos and haven't had much time to go through them, however I did take the time to pick out five.
Each evening we were blessed with some amazing sunsets and I tried to capture them with my camera. 
Here, I have chosen my 5 favourites:
Number One: Mommy and Me
Because I am usually the photographer, I am never in the pics, but one evening my sister grabbed my camera while our daughter Afton and I crept out into the water. 

 Number Two: Pastel Clouds
I love how the glow of the sun, hidden behind the clouds, illuminates them from inside.  Pinks, blues, purples and golds abound. 
Number Three: Golden Line
Earlier in the evening, the sun still glowed yellow.  My youngest son, Camden (6), commented on the "golden line" it created as it reflected in the water.

Number Four: Fire on the Water
Pretty intense colours, huh? Mind-blowingly beautiful!

Number Five: Sunset Love
Our river was full of clams.  Not any near the shore where we played, but a bit further out. Often the empty shells floated up to shore and the kids collected them in their sand buckets.  I found this one on the second evening while I watched the kids play-- long after what should have been bedtime!

Thanks for popping by everyone! I look forward to catching up on my blog reading and finding out what all of you have been up to!
More cottage and Italy pictures to come next week!
Hugs to all and happy weekend!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Italy 2015 : The Colurful Streets of Burano Island

We had 2 days in Venice during our recent whirlwind trip through Italy.  I had seen many pictures of the colourful nearby island of Burano and knew we had to visit!
We caught a water taxi from Venice and rode for 1/2 an hour to the nearby fishing  village of Burano.
Within minutes of walking from  the boat dock, the colourful houses came into view. 
There are 2 stories about why the homes are painted in such vibrant hues. 
The first is simple : Venetians love colour and often paint their fishing boats bright colours.  Soon the "thing to do" was to paint your house to match your colourful fishing boat.
The second story has to do with drunk fishermen who "accidently" would end up in the wrong houses (and bedrooms!) after long nights of drinking in the local pub.  When the houses were all neutrally stucco-coloured it was easy for the men to get "mixed-up."   So their wives came up with a plan - paint your home a bright, eye-catching colour and then your husband has no excuse!!

See the fabric curtain on the door below?  It's for privacy.  No one has air-conditioning here so they leave their doors and windows wide often to allow the flow of air.  So to avoid people staring in on them, a thin cotton drape is placed over the door.  

I love this shade of purple! And the flowers match perfectly!

I'm not sure I would use these slippery steps to get down into a boat!

Every town in Italy has it's tower.  And most of them lean for some reason.  No exception here!

This picture makes me laugh.  It looks like Kevin is praying to the "herb gods" but really he's just sniffing a handful of sage. 

This being Venice, every shop had masks for sale that were just as colourful as the surrounding buildings!

We tried to take a few "selfies" throughout the trip.  I'm not really pleased with the quality of photo my cell-phone takes.  We look "grainy" but--  it's proof we were there! 
 So what do you think of that town? 
Gorgeous, isn't it?
Kevin and I both list this village as one of our favourite stops on our trip.  I hope one day, you can visit there, too!
On our way to a friend's cottage this week. Looking forward to relaxing in a deck chair beside the lake.

Hugs to all,

Friday, July 24, 2015

Five On Friday : Eating in Italy

Hello and happy Friday!  Another week over and another weekend is about to begin!

I'm joining in with  Amy's (Love Made My Home) Five on Friday linky party again this week.

We returned from Italy on Sunday and I have spent the week recovering from jet-lag (it didn't really hit me until Wednesday, but when it did, it hit me HARD!) and digging through my 1000+ photos taken during our 10 day whirlwind trip. 
I picked 10 of my favourite and posted them here:

Today I'm going to share a few more photos of our trip and I have chosen the very important subject of  FOOD!

Italians love their food and just like for the French, mealtime is an integral part of the day, not to be taken lightly or rushed. 
Each meal or snack has its traditions and "rules" and foreigners are expected to live by them as the Italians do or face the dreaded "stink eye" or even the outward embarrassing "guffaw" straight from an Italian's mouth. They just don't hold back on subjects like these!

Number One: Snacking
Italians love their drinks - Spritz, Prosecco, grappa and wine - depending on the time of day.  And these drinks are always served with some type of appetizing cracker or munchie. In fact, Italian grocery stores have whole sections of the store dedicated to these treats. These sections are completely separate from the bread/cracker/cookie section of the store and are usually found in the same aisle as the wine!
These cute little crackers were served to us on the pool deck of our Rome hotel where we happily sipped Prosecco in the mid-day heat. 

Number Two:  Melone e Prosciutto
I ordered this everywhere we went! The melon was perfectly in season and the contrast of the salty meat twirled around it was complete and utter edible bliss!  And just so you know - no matter where you order this plate of delicious-ness, anywhere, all over Italy, big city, small town,  local tavern or fancy restaurant, it ALWAYS costs 9 Euros.  My hubby and I laughed every time we saw this.  All other foods varied greatly in price, but not melone e prosciutto - it was always 9 Euros!!

Number Three: A Picnic
We spent a leisurely morning in Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet.  After visiting the ancient Roman Theatre and taking a peek at Juliet's (fake) balcony, we headed into Eat's (Verona) and enjoyed a half an hour of food shopping with the plan to picnic on the edge of the Adige River.  Eat's is like the foodhall in Harrod's with tons of fresh food choices - meat, cheese, fresh bread, fruit and veg as well as aisles of delicious prepared food, perfect for the eater-on-the-run.  As you can see, we had no problem picking out some yummy lunch- local meat and cheese, freshly baked focaccia, hazelnut yogurt and a bottle of pear juice.  We enjoyed every mouthful overlooking the river and the nearby Roman ruins.  Absolutely perfect memories!

Number Four: Truckstop Food
Italians even do it right at their highway rest stops! We pulled over on the side of the highway between Rome and the Amalfi Coast expecting dry old paninis and a can of Coke for lunch.  Instead we had the choice of more than 10 freshly made hot or cold meals plated up and served by aproned employees eager to describe what they had prepared for us! Kevin had perfectly grilled chicken legs lovingly covered in an olive and tomato sauce with a side of rosemary potatoes.  I craved a salad with lots of veg and a variety of protein and you'll see below, that is exactly what I received! Looks yummy, doesn't it?  And even the floor tiles lived up to the "elegance quotient"-and all of this in a truck-stop in Italy!!

Number Five: Gelato
Yes! Everyday, sometimes twice a day!  It was swelteringly hot everyday we were in Italy but we pushed ourselves to see as much as possible in the time we had. 
Kevin or I would say, "Lets walk over here, check out this church/piazza/view/etc. and then we'll get gelato, okay??"
 My favourite flavours?  Tiramisu, pistachio and lemon.  Absolutely amazing!

Are you hungry yet?  For Italian food, or just Italy itself??
I have so much more to show you from our trip.  I hope to share another post by the end of the weekend -- perhaps about Venice or our dinner in the Tuscan Hills.
In any case, have a wonderful weekend everyone!!
Hugs to all,

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Picture Postcards From Italy 2015

We are back from our whirlwind trip around Italy! We traveled for 10 days and saw so much! Each day we viewed a new treasure (or two!), walked for miles and ate like kings.  And boy did we sleep well every night!
I took a zillion photos (as I always do!) and I have been sifting through them for the last 24 hours.  I will probably write some posts in the coming weeks that will explain further all that we have seen, but for today I have picked 10 photos, each representing one day of our trip. 
So without further ado....
The fountain in the beautiful town of Assisi.

The colourful fisherman homes on the Venetian island of Burano.

An interesting pedestrian road in the small city of Ferrara with its cathedral tower in the background.

A chapel ceiling in Santa Croce Church,  Florence.

The view from our Lake Cruise on Lake Como.

A doorway on the Cathedral at Pisa.

Ancient walls and walkways inside the Colosseum in Rome.

Thousands of sunbathers from above in Sorrento.

Two of the amazing statues in the Vatican Museum, Vatican City.

One of the historical palazzos along the Grand Canal, Venice.

There you go - just a little taste. 
I am looking forward to digging through my pictures in more detail and sharing more of them with you.  My jet-lag is waning (thankfully!) and I am almost caught up on laundry so hopefully I will be able to play with my pictures a few more times this week.
Any requests about which city you would like to see first??

Bye for now,


Thursday, July 9, 2015

We're Off to Italy!!

Kevin and I are heading out on a 10-day "date" that takes us around all the sights of  Rome, Venice, Florence and the Italian Lake District.  Though I've been to Europe many times, I  have never made it to Italy.  I am buzzing with excitement and can't wait to get the plane off of the ground!
See you in 10 days!
Avere una settimana merivigliosa!!
(Have a wonderful week!)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Our Amazing Outdoor Weekend: A Series of Collages

Busy weekend.  Not a lot of energy left.
Want to see what we were up to all weekend?
Here we go!
Friday Night:  Ice Cream sundaes out on the deck.  Chocolate ice cream, strawberries, bananas, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. It can't get much better!

Saturday Morning: Water play in the backyard.  Place the sprinkler under the trampoline and your fun is extended indefinitely!

Once the sprinkler is off, maintain the wet-factor by dunking your head in the paddle pool.  See how much splash your can get!
Saturday Afternoon: Took a long walk around a nearby reservoir through a conservation area we have never before visited.  The pictures above are taken at two ends of the same lake.  The one on the left is taken from the summit of Hilton Falls where we listened to the water plummet down into the reservoir.    On the right, a view of the reservoir from the roadway that traverses the "skinny" end of the lake. I thought these wildflowers were stunning!
What else did we find at the conservation area (besides hungry mosquitoes)?? --  Gorgeous natural flora and wild raspberries that were almost ready to eat!

Sunday MorningBaked my weekly "Cake a week" cake. I used my new "Vintage Cakes" baking book and created my version of a Battenberg Cake.  Little Lady was quite interested in how this cake turned out because she has fond memories of enjoying a slice of Battenberg at our Fortnum and Mason High Tea back in March. 

Tea in the garden.  I'm loving how my plants look this time of year! This is my favourite corner of the yard right now.  The shasta daisies are in full flower, the delphiniums have stalks that are nearly 36 inches long, the astilbe looks like rosy feathers, the hydrangeas are gradually "pinking up" and the Banana Daisies are a lovely shade of yellow.  Beautiful bliss. 
Sunday Afternoon:  A visit to the Burlington waterfront, specifically, Brant Pier.  The kids (and my hubby) climbed the rocks, rolled in the sand, went knee-deep into the lake  and ascended the newly built tower at the end of the pier.

It's quite a modern looking structure but it adds a definite feature to the beachfront.  I like it and I'm sure we'll be visiting it again soon!

Well there you go! Our whirlwind weekend in pictures.
  No big plans for the week - I've got some packing to do (woohoo-- Italy!).
Thanks to everyone has recently commented on my blog posts.  It makes me so happy to see you have stopped by and taken the time to leave a little note!
Here's to a great week!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Five on Friday : Pictures from my Phone

Joining in again this week with Amy's (Love Made My Home) "Five on Friday" linky party. 
Once again, here are 5 photos from my phone that illustrate the week we had here in our neck of the woods. 
Number One: Chocolate Fudge Cake
I've been baking a "cake a week" since the beginning of April.  I have not missed a single week and every single cake has been delicious, if I do say so myself!  This week I made a Chocolate Fudge Cake by request of my oldest son.  I topped it with a butterscotch nut glaze and our family of five ate it in one sitting! 

Number Two: Re-connecting Over "Connect Four"
Have you played this game?  We love it around here and it is played often be every member of the family.   This week, while the older two kids were at a playdate, I had the opportunity to re-connect with our youngest son over one of our favourite games.  He's a different boy when he doesn't have to compete for anyone's attention. We talk happily about the day's events and make plans for the next. He fills me in about Star Wars and his current  Lego construction project.  It really is quite lovely spending this quiet time with him.  
Number Three: Summer Vacation
Summer officially began here on Monday morning.  All five of us are home for the next 10 weeks (hubby and I are both teachers!) and we try to do something a little bit fun everyday.  This picture is from Day 1 when we loaded up the car and headed for the library, poised to pick some excellent new summer reading material.   
Number Four:  My Baking Assistant
Our oldest son, Bryn, is tech-driven kind of kid.  He would play on his ipad, laptop or NintendoDS non-stop if we let him.  During the summer we limit his tech-time so that he can explore a variety of other pursuits during his free-time.  Sometimes he has real difficulty finding something else to do when he has been forced to unplug.  So, at least once a week, he is going to meet me in the kitchen and follow a recipe start to finish to create something yummy for the family.  It will be good practise reading, following instructions, measuring and completing a challenging task.  As you can see from the picture below, he didn't mind helping at all this week.  Chocolate-covered spoons make an excellent snack!
Number Five:  Canada Day Corn Toss
July 1st is Canada Day.  It is a holiday here and every year we attend a huge BBQ with several families in the small town in which  I grew up.  Each year a large part of the day is the annual "Corn Toss" tournament.  If you don't know the game, it's pretty easy - two teams of 2 players  take turns tossing corn-filled bags into the hole of a slanted gameboard.  Below you can see our daughter, Afton, giving it her best go.  Look at the effort in her face!  Kevin and I took home the "runners-up" award for the tournament - two bags of Werther's candies.  Not a bad prize if you ask me!
Not many plans on the cards over the next few days.  In fact, Kevin and I suggested to the kids that we do as little as possible for at least the next 72 hours!
We leave for Italy one week from today so I guess I should start thinking about organizing and packing for that at some point, too!
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!