Friday, June 21, 2013

Nove, Italy... the town of hand-painted Italian dishes...

Nove isn't that big of a place... however, there are small shops in homes, small stores, and factory stores all selling their hand-painted wares to the public.  They also custom create/design/paint dishes/etc. for national stores in the states too.   I love this mosaic olive set.    It's really difficult not to want to purchase many different patterns.  What holds me back is:  MONEY

Some more of the mosaic style platters.  The sunflowers are nice too.  (and the olives too- of course)

Some pitchers.

To give you an idea... this is just one part of one store... (it is a large shop though) and this one is my favorite.   All of the items in the photos for this blog entry are from this store.

I like the chicken.   The faces on the candlesticks?  Not so much.  

I love, LOVE this celedon green stuff.   ALL OF IT!  I did not buy any.  I only purchased one platter for myself and 2 small gifts.

They also have specialty items like the fish themed dishes.

I love the lace pattern too.  I think it would go well with the celedon colored dishes.

Tomatoes:  perfect for salads.

Which ones are your favorite?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Venice Canal by Water Taxi

  Sights and sound of Venice.  
This is what you see of the Grand Canal on the water taxi.  

Muriano Island (Venice, Italy)

A window herb garden... (proud to say that my basil looks healthier)  *notice the marble windowsill

Canal street in Murano  (water is much more still than in Venice- but, there are far less canals on Murano Island)

Flowers on almost every window.  I took this photo because of the beautiful arched windows-- but, take a look at these hand made wrought iron (and very old) window flower boxes!

I went from using a comforter on my bed on a Friday, removed it and put my summer time cotton quilt bedspread on my bed... to the kids and grown ups wearing jackets until around June 12... to suddenly the temps rose from the 70's to the 90's.  It was so hot the day we were walking around in Murano Italy (Tuesday, June 18) ... miserable hot is was, no wind blowing of any kind, humid... and we finally decided that we needed to sit down and get something to drink.   So, here are the remains (I drank mine right up) of our lemonade break.  *Not hand made-- the lemonade from a can/bottle.   Cost?  10 euros... or about $12.60   *In Venice, you pay a 'sit down and use the table' fee also.   However, notice the nice hand blown glass bowl.  *IT is a place on Murano where they have been making glass for centuries!  
We're off for more adventures today.   I'm on my way to the local bakery to get some fresh bread for our breakfast.  Then, we'll go a market; then on to more adventures.  I was too tired to download any of yesterday's photos...  but, I will when I get a chance. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 2 of summer vacation-- Murano, Italy (the glass making island of Venice)

Yesterday, I picked my friend up at the airport-- well, I rode the military bus shuttle to the airport to pick her up-- it was going to be perfect-- I was arriving when her plane was landing... except her plane was late departing England.  So, we ended up missing the military bus back to the base by 12 minutes... and we had to wait 3 hours for the last bus of the night.  So, it was too late to have dinner at my town's last night of the local festival.   I left at 3pm and got home about 10:30 pm and my friend started out at 6am and got to my house at 10:30pm... so, it was a long day for all.

 Today, we went on the train to Venice.   We took the water taxi to the island of Murano.   We walked and walked in the hot, hot, hot sun and the humidity?   We won't talk about it... but, it had been such a cold spring/early summer and boom... it's HOT... in the 90's sweating hot.   I did put some sunscreen on my arms and they did not sunburn.  However, I forgot to put it on my face or neck-- but, it wouldn't have mattered-- I would have sweated it all off anyway.  

After we got to Murano... we went walking around.   We found a small area that had a glass blowing demonstration.   Then, I met a charming lady, who I found out lived in Venice (all her life), and she is the one that I asked where to find a place to eat for lunch.  

While walking to the restaurant in our round-about way... we ended up walking down a street full of small gardens and large homes.   The above post-office box was found at one such entrance.  You can tell it is really old-- and a coat of arms??? When's the last time you saw that on a mail-box?   I thought it had a lot of character. 
One of the gardens along this residential street that we found (while aimlessly looking for the restaurant while shopping and looking)  Aren't those flowers wonderful?

Another garden pathway... If you notice the shadows along the sides... that's from sticking my camera lens through the wire holes of the fence.  *I checked to see if anyone was watching before I did take the photos.

And, another yard with their own little patio area to the left.

Something that I've always done to try to find really good meals... is when I find someone really friendly (not trying to sell me stuff friendly) store worker/owner... is that I ask them were a really good place with local food is located for lunch (or dinner).  A place that they like- not a place for the tourists.  I did that again today and we found this amazing restaurant.   The food was amazing.   My friend and I shared some of the food and each got our own pasta dish as our main meal.  *Well, I tried to get a pasta dish... but, didn't succeed in my mission. 

My friend and I shared fresh grilled scallops.  Wonderful!

We shared a platter of grilled veggies...  Great tasting too.

This is my main dish (well, for me the main dish-- this was to be my pasta dish- it didn't make it; did it?)  The guy misunderstood me and gave me the spider crab dish instead of the spider crab pasta dish with fresh rosemary and olive oil and tomatoes.   I can't complain... because it was delicious.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's SUMMER VACATION... FINALLY~ As of TODAY!!! It is finally here!! woo hooo...

To me, this is 'typical Italy' wonderful little cobblestone alleys... leading to courtyards and buildings,homes, and life that has been lived in these same walls for centuries..

Quiet and serene...some flowers... cobblestone street is even worn down in the middle with all the centuries of others walking the same path wearing away the stone.   This image to me indicates a 'slower paced' life.  Rest when needed, good fresh food cooked and shared amongst friends and family.   Usually the bikes seen are the old fashioned styles too.  That have had many coats of paint put on them through the years.  Here? You also see many elderly people riding their bikes too. 

It is common not to see the outside of the very old buildings painted on the outside.   They are likely to have marble floors, high ceilings, ornate carved thick wooden doors, wonderful tall windows letting in the sunlight with the old wooden shutters that can make the bright day 'night'...

I hope you all get to have some restful moments this summer... quiet solitude... just moments looking at nature... even in the middle of a city...   in the middle of company visiting all summer, children's sports games, shopping... just try to stop and watch a butterfly... some flowers... and think of these quiet little alleyways that are all over Italy... just off the main road.

Not only do I always look UP when I'm in Italy knowing that I am likely to find some amazing carved doorways, windows, or statues holding up window ledges... I also always look to the right and left... to the un-noticed little side alleys to the "REAL ITALY."

No matter where you live... or visit... there are going to be some of the same places that are the 'Real' areas ... where the everyday life is being lived.

The Italians have a saying for this...  La dolce vita    (The Sweet Life)

I have been so tired. (still am) I work late often at school- but, these past 3 weeks have especially busy... ending a school year always is this way.   The past 2 weeks, I've stayed at work 12-16 hour days almost every day.    Last night, I was so tired... too tired to even stop and pick up a pizza to go... too tired to cook anything at home... what did I finally eat?  Some frozen tater tots that I warmed up.   I also DID NOT set the alarm.  What time did I wake up?  6:30am!   Well, that is later than 5am, right?

This weekend's plans are... to do some heavy cleaning.  That has been left undone lately and I have a good friend flying in from England for a week before we both fly to the states.  We used to teach at the same US Military base in Seoul, South Korea.   So, we are going to see the sights, shop, eat out, and do some more knitting lessons.  

The only problem with that plan is... I haven't done much of anything since I moved here... too busy and not any 'extra' money after I paid all the rental deposits and everything else associated with a move.  (3 months of rent was my deposit)

However, I know where some things are... and a couple of good restaurants... (I'm for sure taking her to the little food place that I found during spring break with the GREAT FOOD and of course having lunch with 50-60 strangers ALL MEN wasn't bad at all either!) and I have directions for a couple of other places.  And, I'm good at exploring and finding places.  So, we'll have fun for sure.  

So, I will post photos of our adventures!   It will be fun to have someone to go out and do things with.  The night she arrives, (Monday) my little town is having a festival... so we are stopping there for sure for our dinner meal and to listen to the live music performance/s.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cinque Terra Italy... This is one of the 5 little towns that makes up this place along the Italian coast.

This has got to be one of my top 3 favorite water fountains!   It's very old and I found it in Italy.   The person who designed it was either inspired by a 13 year old boy (or maybe they were a 13 year old boy) or maybe it was someone who had already created endless water fountains with jugs of water pouring out the flowing water... and was trying to think of new ways to show where the water flowed out.... lol

This is the main street from the ocean towards the little town built along the rock cliffs.   See the cheese store on the left?

Same outdoor restaurant-- looking towards the sea.

Doesn't this just make you want to sit down and have some pasta? 

The whole open harbor.  Right behind me is that street and some more open air restaurants... across the street from the first photo.

I can't remember which one it is right now.  Let's just say it was beautiful (as they all are/were) and call it a day.   I always take photos of water fountains too... and of course the statues holding up marble window ledges.   They tend to look like the weight of the window ledge is crushing their heads/hands/etc.   Some of these statues are even grimacing from the weight of the marble/window/etc.. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The first glimpse of the Leaning Tower of Pisa...

Walking through the wall surrounding Pisa and the entrance to the grounds.  

In 2000, when I lived in another part of Italy and was moving to Asia and another new location for my job... I decided that it was time to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.   After all, I hadn't poured over those photos in National Geographic and Life Magazine for nothing as a child... and art classes in college only strengthened my desire to see this world recognized landmark in person.

School was out for the summer and I was extending my stay for a few days before I moved away.  I went to my local travel place where I'd always purchased my train tickets and told the nice lady what I wanted to do-- I also told her that I'd be traveling alone.   So, she booked me a wonderful 3 day trip... to leave at night, ride the train all night... and I'd end up in Pisa early the next morning.   I'm sure that there are many more things to see/do in the Pisa area... than just to see the above landmark... but, I didn't have much time or money.   After Pisa she had me stopping in Sienna for the night (leaving the next afternoon) and then on to Florence on my way back to where I was living.  It was a wonderful trip...  Short but wonderful.

She booked my train ticket to Pisa and instructed me to get off the train and then take a city bus (she gave me the number) to Pisa.   When the bus stopped... I did ask a couple of locals if I was in the right location-- since, the bus just dropped you off on the street and nothing around indicated where I was.   They all nodded their head and pointed straight ahead and then to the left.   So, I set off walking.

I finally came upon an old stone wall... and I continued walking along it and of course at the same time I was constantly looking to the left to see where I should go next. 

Suddenly, I saw the arched opening in the stone wall.  And, my first glimpse of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  I did gasp out loud because I was totally not expecting to see the whole entire view spread out before me.   I remember just standing there taking it all in.

When I recently ran across this photo... I remember thinking back to a couple of people that I knew at my base in Aviano... when, I told them what I was going to go do before I left Italy.   Both of these individuals (they didn't know each other) had told me that they'd gone to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  I asked them if it was as amazing as I thought it would be?

Their response?   "I'm glad that I saw it... but, I wasn't that impressed with it- it wasn't nearly as impressive as much as people talk about it being the 'thing' to see."

Trust me... I was impressed and photos just doesn't do it justice. 

One childhood dream was fulfilled that day for sure.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tired and so much to do...

Sometimes, you just need to say "NO" to the shirt!   I spotted this 'shopper' making some clothing purchases for a male in her life.   This is when you need to remember... "YOU" (the female YOU, that is) might like the dashing scarf and the large summery flowers... but, are you sure your father?  Brother?  Boyfriend?  Male Friend?  Or Husband would also want and wear this outfit?   Then on the other hand... maybe they would?   Who knows?   I certainly am not on the 'cutting edge' of fashion... heck, I'm not even on the surface of fashion trends!   It just reminded me how we all sometimes 'buy' something for someone else that WE'D LIKE FOR OURSELVES!!*Photo taken somewhere in France?  Or Italy?  Can't remember now- but, it was about 2 years ago on a trip somewhere... we were in a large group (military base travel trip) and I wanted to take photos- but, I had to be careful so I wouldn't get left behind because everyone else was walking quickly following the person leading us to some other location.

One more week of school.  AND, I will spend another weekend working at school.  Why?
Lessons to grade, report cards to 'eventually' fill out, comments on the report cards to write..    I also need to pack up some things from my classroom to take home... because... A lot of my own things, that I have hauled to my classroom,  won't fit into the cabinets and will need to be brought home, stuff needs to be cleaned up... (it gets busy and things go by the wayside).  Etc. Etc. Etc.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Everyday view of Italy...

"Here, let me hold that scepter for you." said the lady with buildings for a hat.  Naked man says, "Ok, but, you've got to give me some of your grapes."

Water fountain man wonders how many more centuries he'll be spewing water into the fountain?

Old door knocker on one of those 10 foot tall (or taller) foot thick wooden doors in Italy.

They just don't do workmanship like this anymore, do they?  Or if they did... only the world's wealthiest would be able to afford to have it on their buildings.

Photos taken in LUCCA, ITALY.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Grrrrr, I'm a READING DINOSAUR!!!!

Grrr... I'm a fierce dinosaur!

Grrr.... me too!

Most of my 2nd graders weren't really that excited about reading when I first arrived.   Some didn't even want to check out books from the library.   *I did have a few who enjoyed reading though.

 Every year, that I'm a regular classroom teacher, I always do my best to turn my class into students who 'love to read'... because, if you can read and especially if YOU LOVE to read--- not much can stop your learning... or your desire to learn... because... well, isn't that the basic KEY to learning?   Wanting and being able to read? 

So, I started a contest with my students... to read books and earn a certain number of points for Reading Counts.   Reading Counts is a program purchased by the school and basically the way that it works is... students read a book, take an on line test (for comprehension) and if you get 7 or more of the 10 questions correct--  you will earn 1 or more points.   The harder the books- the more points each story is worth.  Of course, at this age... most of the books are 1-3 points!

TO help them out... any of the stories in our readers for school that were Reading Counts books-- I'd let them know.  I made sure that MOST of the books that I read to my students were also Reading Counts books.  (I read to my students 'no matter' what the age is daily!   They can understand books 'read' to them at a higher level of understanding than they can understand when they read to themselves.)

I made sure that there were always books available, to read, when they finished with their lessons, and the books that I either checked out from the school library or any of the classroom books for supplemental reading... were labeled with a small sticker IF THEY WERE READING COUNTS BOOKS!

My plan worked!!   The desire for reading improved.   Reading scores increased and many of the students  DOUBLED their reading scores that were given before I arrived the to my new school the last week of October when we recently re-tested for the end of the year scores!!   I'm so proud of them.   They love to read now!

We set up small goals... 500 points, 1,000 points, 1,200 points.   AND, after they earned 1,200 points.. they decided that they'd try to earn 2,000 points by the end of school!

NOT ONLY DID they reach their goal... they reached it a month early!!!    Every morning, when they came into the classroom the place on the whiteboard (where our daily score of how many points we had) was updated with the new score.   My group of second graders also learned how to do 4 digit subtraction 're-grouping' because of FIGURING OUT how many points we had left to reach our goal and also I would also show the class 'how many points' they had earned the day before!

When did they have time to read and take all of these tests?   First of all, the tests only take about 5 minutes to take and that includes:  logging into the school's computer and into the Reading Counts website WITH THEIR OWN PASSWORDS each time.   We have 4 computers in our classroom.  Two are super slow, old laptops and the other two are regular PC's.   So, at certain times of the day... I'd set a certain amount of time on my digital timer that the students were given to finish lessons/projects/etc.  This was after I'd taught the new skills and the class/students had had time to practice the new skill, or find and/or share information, etc.   And, of course, always after we'd gone over the directions for each lesson/etc.    So, after that was done... I'd set 15 or more minutes on the timer... sometimes a far longer amount of time was given.   THEY never could take a test NOR COULD THEY ASK about taking a Reading Counts Test-- unless I had already said something like:  "IF you finish with your work you may take a RC test."   I would also let them know when the last 5 minutes were on the timer... and that no one else to go up and start a test after that amount of time-- so, that anyone taking the test would be finished before we started our next subject of the day/started bathroom breaks/or went somewhere.    So, they were really only given about 4 times a day to take the tests... and they had to take turns on the 4 computers.   

This never turned into:  a Race to finish work... or taking a test at the wrong time.   OR constantly 'asking' me if they could take a RC test!    In the beginning, they also had to show me their work so that I could see that it was 'finished' and I'd still do that sort of spot checking at various times.   They had labeled baskets (math, science, language, etc.) where all the assignments were turned in.   Each group also had a 'paper/book' pass-er/ out-er for the week.  I believe in student responsibility and you also never get the:   "But, I gave it to you!" excuse when work wasn't found turned in to the proper baskets.  I never take any student work- no one ever turns in their lessons to me personally.  Only to the labeled baskets.   It's a great system and teaches responsibility.  

There was only about 3 or 4 times at the most throughout the day where I'd announce that it was OK to take a Reading Counts Test!   Most of that was for only 5 minutes (or only one group could go and take a test!)   Everyday, after lunch, the students were given 25 minutes to: finish any previous day's work, any old work not finished (sometimes due to absences/etc.), bathroom breaks (only 1-4 children at a time), go to the library (only 1-4 students at a time for a short amount of time- the library was at the end of the hallway), and also during this time they could:  READ and take READING COUNTS TESTS!   When we went to computer lab on Thursdays and Fridays... 'if' they had finished a book-- they could take a reading counts tests 'first' and then they'd go to one of the other locations on the computer and work on either the Math program that our school had purchased or another program.

So, for 5 minutes at a time, one book at a time... they reached their goal.  *The students also came up with each of the goals that they reached for each time.   They also can only take this test at school.  I also never allow the book to be 'in the computer area' at all... when they are taking the Reading Counts tests.   I always tell my students that you KNOW that we were HONEST in our classroom!  Every point was honestly earned!
 (I'm a big fan of using a timer to keep us on task... so, we'll not be late to the various places that we go, and also some students just need a 'time is passing by' method to measure the day.)

So, for this big award of obtaining 2000 points... ... they wanted face painting done on them!  I brought my face paints to school and the boys all wanted American flags across their face or to become dinosaurs.   The girls?  EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WANTED A BUTTERFLY painted across their faces!   (No photos of the girls... because the butterfly didn't change their appearances very much.)

*Some of my 'face painting' faces are in photos on the wall behind the last dinosaur photo-- I used to do face painting at craft shows to earn extra $$.   I'm a bit rusty with the techniques now though.   However, I think they turned out great and my students loved getting to wear face paint all day while we continued learning, eating lunch, and playing on the playground at recess.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Look, it's my KNIGHT in SHINING ARMOR~~

The Soave Castle that my students and other 2nd graders visited for our field trip.. had a room with real armor (like above) in a room along w/ some hand painted walls and furniture original to the castle... (photo taking wasn't allowed) and this castle also had a nice little town still surrounded by the castle walls... and on our walk to the park, to eat our lunch, I saw this guy standing guard in front of a shop.. (see his bag full of business cards?)   I have no reason not to believe that this armor was also from the castle... it looked just like the other pieces of armor found in the castle.

The armor was quite interesting and all I can say is that those guys of long ago were MUCH SHORTER than I am... and I'm only 5'6".

Monday, June 3, 2013

Deep thoughts or... HUH?????

T-shirt found at a local market.   

Do they mean 'invisible' gas is clinging to all visible things?   Of course, I'm sure it is a deeper meaning than that?? 

 But, right now... with only 2 weeks of this year's school session left... there isn't enough left in my brain for 'deep thoughts'....

I'd often find items translated into English when I lived in Asia... that made very little sense (even less than the this shirt does) and when  you'd come upon them... you'd just smile and shake your head. 

Probably similar to people who get tattoos written in a foreign language... there are bound to be quite a few 'head scratching' translations on those tattoos too?   I often wonder how accurate those translations are?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

More views of the newly discovered yarn shop!!!!

The store that I found even had some baby bibs and things like that .. that had places that you could add 'cross-stitch' to them to personalize them or add cute designs.  Items shown to the right of this photo is where they were located. 
 The store was one of those 'stuff stuck here and there'... but, that was the fun part of it-- the search and discovery of new yarns.  It also reminded me of shopping in Korea.

The store also had some of the beautiful Italian kitchen linens... (at the bottom area of the photo) and I think that when I go back that I might buy some of them too.  They also had the painted canvases for needlepoint and some can be seen here and there. *The hanging canvases shown here are some.

My oh my... look at all that yarn-y goodness!  Sorry, it's a little out of focus...

This was a scarf knitted out of some of the ribbon yarn and of course 'that color' was no longer available.  That always seems to be the way-- any knitted item for display... that color gets sold out quickly!

This is the first section that my friend and I were looking at... this tiny 6 foot space?  (from the purple/white yarn in the front to the teal blue at the far end-- next to the grey tweed looking yarn)  It took us 45 minutes to go that far!   Needless to say, we looked a lot during our 2 hour visit... but there was no way that we managed to look at everything.   We kept getting distracted by new discoveries!

I did buy the yarn for this knitted up scarf sample.  In the same color too!  :D  I liked the little added crochet flowers right at the bottom of the scarf.

They also had regular solid colored wool yarns too.  

Lots of purse handles were available too.

It was so much fun to explore in this shop.  It's only about 20 minutes away from where I live.   One of my good friends (we used to teach at the same school in Korea) is flying over from England the first week that school is out for both of us... I taught her how to knit in Korea and every so often we meet at another location to play tourist, visit, and for my friend to also get some more 'knitting lessons!'   I did go to see her once in England and this will be her first visit to a place where I'm living.   I haven't been out and about too much since I arrived in Italy... (too busy with moving here almost 3 months AFTER school had already started) and of course 'due to the move' didn't have much money to spend for traveling about anyway...

I do know of a few good places to eat and Venice is only an hour away by train.   I know of 3 yarn stores (this is the biggest one),  a great gelato place (in my little town), and we'll go out exploring while she is here.

Two more weeks of school!!!