Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"HEEEATTTHCLIFFFF".... or when did our school playground turn into the foggy Scottish moors? .... excuse me... "Heathcliff!!!!"....

My driveway right before I pulled out on to the street.  This should have been my first clue.

This is at 10:00am.  You could barely see children that were several feet away.   Nice to see 3 boys using the swings.  Sometimes, at other schools, boys don't usually use the 'swings'... here?  I have to sometimes tell them to count 20 swings back and forth so that other children can have a turn.   We have 2 swing sets; but, lots of children want to use the swings.   I loved swinging when I was a child too.  I would often lean my head back and I would drag my hair on the ground.  

Yes, we have the spongy surfaces here too.  I just don't know how I survived my childhood.  We had pebbles, dirt, and concrete on our playgrounds.

"Heathcliff!"... "Are you out there?"

Even the school (this is the lunchroom area) is difficult to see. 

We couldn't let them play in the grassy area- we couldn't SEE THEM!

Yesterday, it was foggy.   It used to be foggy a lot in Germany too.   However, today... was foggier than I have EVER seen it!  I could not see anything in front of me.  I was the lead car and the white lines on the road hadn't been painted in what looked like YEARS!  I didn't even know most of the time if I was on my side of the road or about to fall off the road into the deep drainage ditches!  I was only driving 10-15 mph.   I finally had a car behind me and for the first time ever... a car didn't pass me.   They must have FINALLY realized that IT WAS NOT SAFE TO PASS THE OTHER CAR even if you didn't think it was going fast enough.  (I get passed often- even though I am going the residential speed limit.)  The strangest fog that I experienced in Germany-- was frozen FOG!  It was so scary!!  I drove home one night after meeting friends at a restaurant.     

Sunday, March 16, 2014


What is this creeping through the jungle grass?   Could it be?????

A wild tiger and her 'tiger' kitten?  
Today, I have spent almost the entire day going through boxes of things (as I seem to do every weekend for the past couple of months or so)...  these particular boxes were from a storage delivery that had been in the states for many years.   Once, I found this really large house- I sent for my storage with the plan to go through things to find things to get rid of because... let's be honest... I, along with many of us... have just too much stuff.  It was easy to have too many things-- since, my job would pay for the storage in the states while I was overseas.   SO, if you don't have 'all of this stuff' in your house LETTING YOU KNOW THAT YOU HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF... it is easy to dis-reguard that you have too much stuff- if you don't see it!

In one box, I found a couple of old ratty holey quilts that my grandmother had used as a mattress padding.  I had cut one apart to make pillows, angels or something long ago.   In this same box I found the above animals that I hadn't seen in many years.  I forgot that I had them.   My same 'step-grandmother' had put them away for me when I grew too old for them.   I don't have many items from my childhood.  That is what happens when you have younger siblings- they tend to take over or destroy your possessions.  

I loved cats and kittens when I was young (still do) and no one could find a stuffed cat toy in small town rural Oklahoma when I was a child-- so, they got the next best thing.   A big stuffed tiger.   Later the smaller one was added to my collection.   I was about 3 or 4 the year that I got them.   I loved them.   The big one was the mama tiger; of course.   The eyes have been loved off of the big one and the baby tiger only has one eye left.

I only had one other stuffed animal.  I think someone made it for me.  It was a black mop looking thing with long black yarn for hair sewed on.  I think it was supposed to be a laying down dog?   I seem to remember that the hair had a middle part and I spent a lot of time 'combing' it with my fingers to make the hair go in the right directions.  I have no idea as to what happened to it?

I never had a Teddy Bear as a child.   Sad, huh?   Years later, one of my friends bought me a little teddy bear.  I still have him.  He sits on a shelf where my yarn/etc. is stored.  I guess he is guarding the yarn? 

The tigers have been sealed back into the box with the ratty old quilts.   After all, they might get cold.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Getting lost can help you find a new bakery.

Looks good, huh? 
Today, I went back to the purse factory and the small showroom floor shop selling purses.   They had lots of new additions of the new spring line.   The song, "IF I were a rich man" was spinning in my head... (ok, with a variation ... "IF I were a rich woman...") as I looked at all the lovely new models and colors.   A room just full of leather purses.  (Sorry for those that think it is wrong to make things out of leather.)

I did buy a basic black leather purse and a red one which is what I had gone there to purchase the last time-- but, I got overwhelmed by all the choices and left the store without my black or red purse.   I did buy a blue and green and a medium brown leather purse though on my visit several days ago.

So, today... I did buy my intended colors.  I stuck to the plan (mostly).   It's a good thing that I did go back because... there were ONLY 3 black purses being sold.  I got the only one that was a solid black.  AND, 'bonus' ... I liked it.  No, I loved it!

And, the other day... while cooking something or other.  I cut into a bell pepper and look at what I found.   Has anyone ever found this cute little thing inside?  It was kind of like opening up the kinder eggs to get the surprise toy inside. 

Today, on the way home from the 'purse' store... I decided to go to a different location, that is near my house, and I put this place in my navigation device.   Oh my... does my 'navigation' device like to take me traveling around.  Even in my limited knowledge of the area... I knew that I wasn't going the right way.  
I love the little spiral pepper center. 
 So, I finally found a place to pull over and wouldn't you know the exact place that I found just happened to be next to a house and my car was partially in front of the wrought iron gate that locks 'driveways' and houses in Italy.   Not a problem 'usually' but, I just happened to glance over and sure enough there is a car 'with a driver in it' and clearly wanting out of his driveway!  Oops.   At this point, I just put in my own little Italian town and drove home.   That was enough excitement for the day.  However, in my 'random route' that the navigation system was taking me on-- I did find a tiny little bakery and I bought a small round loaf of whole grain bread.   I didn't have my camera with me so I couldn't take a photo of the very old building where this tiny bakery was located.  So, the 'different route' wasn't a lost cause because I love home-made Italian bread- especially the whole grain breads. 

I just cut the bread open and I added the photos.  The inside is the softest bakery bread that I have ever purchased.   I grabbed some soft local cheese and spread it on pieces of the end piece that I cut off of the round loaf.   So, so, so good... ubbmsuummummm nom, nom...  (that's me eating the bread)

*P.S. You can click on the photos for an even larger yummy view.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My meal last weekend... from when I went to the local restaurant for the Woman's Day event..

Home made crackers and dinner rolls...

Home-made Tortellini

Grilled Pork Chop.   This was awesome... and there was so much meat- that I took over 1/2 of it home and had 2 more meals from this serving.   They also gave me an entire bowl of home-fries (not frozen) and this is all that I had with my meal.  I gave the rest to my friend who was eating with me.

The dessert menu and I did appreciate the ENGLISH translation.  I can read quite a bit of 'Italian' when it concerns menus though.  I need to learn 'the words for how a dish is prepared though.'

The name of the restaurant.   *Also the front of the dessert menu.   I got the 'tiramisu' again, of course.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring is near... and I hope it comes quickly for those in the cold parts of the world.

A tulip tree in bloom... (at least that is what I call them!)  I snapped this photo on the street as I was turning the corner- just stuck the camera out the window-- which is why you see the sun glare on the photo.   I have seen a few of these trees in my neighborhood blooming too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Early Spring Sunrise....over northern Italy...

I left for school a little later than usual the other morning and I was rewarded with a vivid sunrise.   This is my driveway and the old building that is across the street.
This is the gate going out my driveway to the road.   Isn't that beautiful?  

You can see the neighbor's flowers in this photo.  I have the same ones on the opposite side of my fence.

The entire sky was lit up so beautifully. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

ABC's of me...

I saw this somewhere and I thought that I'd use it here too.

A - Age:  Old enough and young enough

B - Bed size: Queen size wrought iron (made for me in Italy- there's a photo on the blog)
C - Chore you hate: cleaning the shower doors
D - Dog's name:  None (no pets at all at this time- not allowed in the rental)

E - Essential start your day: A real Dr. Pepper (I don't drink coffee and I still need caffeine)

F - Favorite color:  Blue, green, and purple

G - Gold or Silver: both

H - Height: 5'7"

I - Instrument you play: The stereo

J - Job: School teacher
K - Kids: none 'other than' my classroom full of 2nd graders

L - Living arrangements: alone

M - Mom's name: Estelene
N- Nicknames: none really  (my friend that I taught how to knit calls me "Grasshopper" for my knitting wisdom.)

O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: had an unexpected total knee replacement July 2013

P - Pet Peeve: 1.  People who tail-gate in their cars  2.  People who lie  3.  People who don't keep their promises-- for example:  make plans and when you call back to double check/add more information/etc.   They then tell you that they can't go- that they are doing something else-  This is fine (sort of- depending on why their plans changed) but, have the decency to let the first person that you made plans with know that you are NO LONGER doing the activity/event/movie/etc. with the first person that you made plans with.  
Q - Quotes from a movie: My mind is a blank-- other than in the movie:   ELF when the 'big tall elf' gets all excited and yells out:  "SANTA!!!"  When he sees the store Santa.  

R - Right or left handed: Right

S - Siblings: 2--one brother, one sister

T - Time you wake up: during the week- 5am to go to work early so that I can get some things done before the children come to class.

U - Underwear: yes

V - Vegetable you dislike: Lima beans

W - Ways you run late:  I'm almost always on time-- but, if I forget to take all the stuff out of the car that I hauled home on Friday (because, I'm hauling in groceries or something and I don't have enough arms to haul it ALL in and then I don't go back downstairs to the car to get the school stuff/etc.) and then I don't remember until Saturday morning when I get to the car and see all of the stuff in my car that needs to be removed so that someone can sit in the front seat- if I'm going on a local trip. 

X - X-rays you've had: Chest, leg, teeth, head (brain), wrist, hand, stomach, knee, lungs, foot... (I think that is all?)

Y - Yummy food you make: My grandmother's fudge recipe
Z - Zoo Favorite: monkeys

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day- March 8

Little bouquets like this are being sold on the sides of the street and in grocery stores and flower shops.   These are for "WOMAN'S DAY" which is celebrated apparently all over the world ... but, being an American... I was totally clueless about it.

It smells wonderful.   I bought a big branch and I'm going to divide it and give part of it to my friend's wife tonight.  She and I are going to that big restaurant that I found last weekend.  When we were there, last Saturday, we noticed that they had a special menu listed for Easter and for tonight- for "Woman's Day."   I wonder why this isn't really celebrated in the states?  I have decided that I am going to have a meal/brunch/lunch/or dinner with whatever group of friends or other ladies that I happen to know when I move to America and celebrate this day anyway.   I also love that it happens to be in MARCH... what always seems to me as the LONGEST MONTH in the year!  

Here's what it says on-line... International Women's Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women's Day, is marked on March 8 every year.[2] In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political, and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily in Europe, including Russia. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. In other regions, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner. This is a day which some people celebrate by wearing purple ribbons. 

American Readers?  Do you celebrate this day?  Did you know about this day?  Readers from other countries-- do you celebrate the day?  If so, what do you do to make it a special day?  What do others do to honor women on this day?   It has been celebrated since the 1900's too.

IWD 100 years
International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Announcement: "I LOVE BREAD!"

Whole wheat, with various seeds inside... purchased from the local bakery in my tiny little Italian town.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm a fan of 'finding things' by accident... it's how I've found some great shopping places and awesome meals..

Last Saturday, I went on a morning shopping trip.  First stop was to the 'purse store', then to the yarn shop, and the last stop was going to be to the 'big Italian grocery store' that is just a few miles from my house.   All 3 stops made a big circle, of driving, in the local area.  On the way, to the grocery store... and going in a totally different way than usual since I was coming from a different direction than I usually do.  I remembered that one time the navigon device took me through the farming fields, old villas, etc.   While it was a scenic route-- it was many miles out of the way.   So, after we'd driven several miles-- I decided to find a place to pull over to check things out.    Finding a place to pull over isn't that easy in rural areas of Italy- since, there are no 'shoulders' on the roads or lots of parking areas.   I finally saw a side road and I took it- hoping to find a place to pull over.  I actually found an area big enough for a few cars to park.   At the same time, I happened to notice a sign with a name of a restaurant and an arrow pointing further down the street.   So, I decided that I'd drive a few blocks to see if I could find the restaurant in question.   I did.  Someone was cleaning the sidewalk in front of the huge restaurant- so, I got out and pointed to my watch to the number 12 indicating that I was asking if the place was open for lunch that day.  *THEY do not open prior to 12 noon.  He nodded yes.   So, we decided to continue on to the grocery store and return for lunch at the new place.   THAT is actually only about 2 1/2 to 3 miles away from my rental house-- just down a road that I had not traveled on before.
 This place had HOME-MADE CRACKERS and wonderful bread. 
I got a lobster pasta dish with home-made pasta.   It was good.   I loved the zucchini flower decoration.

My friend got this for her dessert.   They served wine w/ the pasta course and our dessert.   We did not order a main meat dish or any sides.  

This is what I got.   TIRAMISU ... it was heavenly.   So good you sigh out loud eating it.  I thought the cup had a great handle on it too.  I didn't drink my wine.  I was driving.   I did taste it-- very light and fresh.  
Once we arrived in the lobby... I saw a painting on the wall and realized that I had been here once about 3 years ago... when I came down by bus on a military MWR (morale, welfare, and recreation) bus trip from my old base in Germany.   We had been here about the same time of the year too- for Carnavale. 

Here's the painting:  right here

The food at this place was great.  As soon as I saw the painting in the lobby- I knew that I had to order dessert.  This place has the 'best' tiramisu that I have ever had anywhere.

 I just can't believe it was less than 3 miles from my rental house-- just down a road that I had yet to drive on... and of course, I wouldn't have found it at all- had I not wanted to find a place to stop to check on the navigon to make sure 'she' wasn't taking us on the long back roads.

 It is going to be my 'go to' place to eat.   Just goes to show you... it pays to take the 'road' less traveled (by yourself).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A worm hole? The Littles? Who is responsible for the missing items in one's home???

THE socks!   *Before they became MISSING- of course.
Ever lose something and know 'exactly' where it was for 2-3 months, get ready to mail it/use it/gift it/etc. pick the item up, and it suddenly becomes missing?

I went to the Innsbruck Christmas Market in December... found these great 'boot' 100% alpaca wool socks for sale.  They were just like the ones that I had found in Germany.   They were actually from a German company.   When I first moved to Germany in 2008- I had found socks just like this and I had sent some to a friend to wear when he went 'hunting.'  I sent him an email and asked him if he wanted me to buy some for him.   He did.  He told me that he's still wearing the pair that I had sent him 5 years ago.

I told him how much that they'd cost (way more than they used to be-- but, then again they were being sold at a Christmas Market and the people at the Christmas Market had to pay for their food/hotel/etc. for at least a month.  I'm sure that that adds to the price increase-- plus, many things have gone up in price in the past 5 years?  

  So, I bought them... told him how much they cost again and waited for him to send me the money.    Two and then three weeks went by 'no money in the mail'.  I emailed him a reminder letting him know that the 'socks' were getting spider webs and dust bunnies on them waiting for the money to arrive so that I could mail them.   Then, another 2 weeks go by... no money.  I sent another reminder.   He asked for my mailing address again- because the envelope that he'd sent me had been returned to his post-office box and he thought that he'd written something down wrong.   I emailed my address back to him again.  

Same thing... more weeks go by... he got the envelope 'back in his post-office box' again...  THIS TIME, he knew that he had copied my mailing address EXACTLY as I had given it to him- so, the took the envelope to the post-office counter.  THEY TOLD HIM THAT THE MAILING ADDRESS (mine) WAS NOT A VALID MAILING ADDRESS.   Sigh...   He told them that it INDEED was a valid mailing address... (the APO AE part of my address threw them off).   He re-sent the letter to me again.  

I got the letter late last week.  

On Sunday night, I picked up the package of socks (2 per package) to find a box to put them in so that I could mail this package and 2 others at one time on Monday.   I also got out 3 'custom forms' so that everything could be filled out-- ready to go.  I wrapped/packed up the first 2 boxes then grabbed the 'box' to mail the socks and discovered that...


 How could this be?  I hadn't moved them in over 2 months-- I finally am ready to mail them... picked up the socks so that I could package them up and they are now missing.  I have looked EVERYWHERE and they are not to be found!  I have looked in all the usual places and the unexpected places.   NO SOCKS!  NONE  I guess that they liked living in my house and were afraid of the long distance travel?   So, I will look for them in great detail this weekend.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

New Purses...

Generally, I don't tend to carry purses.   Let me clarify that... I used to intensely dislike carrying purses.   IF I had to carry a purse- my motto was... "The smaller the better" and about all that would fit would be my keys, some money, and my ID.  However,  IF I could get away with it- I would just put my ID, some money, and my keys in a pocket.   However, now that I am all grown-up and like to haul my knitting around with me along with a water bottle and sometimes my Ipad (before the glass screen got shattered) or my Kindle Fire (bought as a replacement this summer so that I'd have a way to use email/etc. while recovering from my knee surgery).  I also need to carry an emergency inhaler and my classroom keys.  I usually carry one of those small packages of tissue.   The tissue carrying is from living in Asia and most of the time there wouldn't be any 'tissue' in the public bathrooms- so, you learn to carry tissue with you at all times.   I also carry one of those small bottles of hand-cleaner for the same reason... you'd be surprised at how often that there would be NO SOAP or paper towels in the public bathrooms too.   I also usually have a small knitting project or something to read with me.  Add of this together and it is TOO MUCH to carry around in pockets.   Even coat pockets.   So, I find that I need to actually carry a purse around.  I do tend to still haul around a small backpack- maybe it is the 'I'm not going to carry a purse around defiance?'   Who knows?   However, I have decided that I do need some 'nice' purses in a variety of colors that will match almost everything that I might find myself wearing in the future... and I felt obligated to purchase at least ONE Italian purse while living in Italy- since, I didn't do so the other 2 times that I lived in Italy.
A good basic soft tan color.  I loved this one.  

Do you see the KNITTING stitch pattern?  HOW, could I not buy this?  And, it is in blue-- one of my favorite colors too!   It is a soft swede leather. 

You can just barely see the light tan top... I like how the handles sometimes have stitching details on them.   Very nice quality purses and of course... I would 'never' pay full price.  I have so enjoyed my times living overseas-- getting to buy the local stuff at prices far, far less than what the store purchase price would be.  
.  I might go back and buy another purse.   In a black color?   I wanted to go now while they still had some of the 'winter colors/styles' in stock.  I wish that I had thought about going earlier when there were even more choices. 
 So, when I was out doing my shopping errands this weekend- I went to an Italian purse designer and bought a few purses at awesome 'very discounted' prices.   That's one thing- I got sturdy leather purses because- I want the purse to be able to handle being 'thrown around' since, I'm not all that careful- I think it is from years of hauling backpacks around while shopping in the markets and traveling about all over the world? 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

An Outing is good every so often...

This is some sock yarn-- thicker than typical sock yarn- but, it will be great for socks for boots/etc.   Notice that the label even says:  MEGA BOOTS stretch!   Some of this is for a gift too.  I am going to teach a friend how to knit socks and I think a thicker yarn that 'slowly changes' colors will help keep her interest level and of course they'll knit faster than regular sock yarn will.  I did get 3skeins for myself-- *I got double skeins of most of the colors.  I forgot to get a second skein of the orange/red skein though.

I used to be able to display my device on the windshield - but, a couple of summers ago-- when I was getting out of my car to meet my transportation,  in the middle of the night, to go to the airport-- I remembered to grab my Navigon device from the windshield (which would also keep my car from being broken into during the summer- if it wasn't on display on the windshield for all to see).... and I just grabbed the whole device including the attached 'arm thing' that had the suction cup to hold it in place on the windshield.   Problem was- when I went through the USA airport security.   Unbeknownst to me- they broke the device- my best guess is that when they took it to the back to 'make sure that I didn't have any drugs or bombs' hidden in the arm (the part that goes on the windshield) part- that they broke the device off and I didn't notice it until I got to the states and used it the next day.   They just dropped it in my carry-on bag.  

So, it isn't easy or safe to use it alone- so, it's best if I have someone in the driver's seat to help read the device for me.  *I've tried it alone and the device tends to fall into the floor when resting in the passenger seat- plus, I don't feel it is very safe to constantly be looking down into the passenger seat trying to view the screen.  

Same yarn from the end so you can see the color changes better.

I loved the colors on this selection.  Orange/purple and some red w/ a little blue thrown in.   No plans for this- I just liked it.

This is more my style 'color-wise'... various shades of tweedy blue colors. 

I had bought this on another shopping trip.  I can't remember if I shared a photo of it or not?   I like the brown with the blue and turquoise blue colors.

This is the green yarn that I had in my mind-- for the shawl that I had bought the yarn for a few weeks ago.   They didn't have this soft leafy green color when I bought the other yarns-- but, I was happy to see that they had this in stock today.

Here it is again- posing in front of the flowers that I bought myself for my birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Of course, when I bought them they were just 'bulbs' in the ground.   My living room smells so nice now.   By looking at the window; you can see that it is raining again.

Today, we went first to the showroom of an Italian purse designer.   They sell some models at a great, great discount- before they start selling the next season's new purse lines.   I haven't taken a photo of the purses yet.  I found this place last year and I went the first time (and only time) when my friend Lisa came to see me in June-- the first week that our school's were out for the summer.   We got to have a short visit before we both flew to our respective homes in the states.   I wanted to go back to this place while they still had some 'winter colors' in the leather purses.   I just wish that I had brought more money with me.  I'm trying to find/buy the special Italian things that I want to take with me when I do move.  You can't wait until the last minute to do the shopping before one moves from one country to another one.  There just isn't time to pack up for a move, continue working, and try to shop in spare moments.   Something has to give and it is usually the shopping.   I know that I didn't get a chance to buy hardly anything when I was suddenly given the chance to move from Germany to Italy a year ago.

Our second stop was the yarn store.   The third stop was the big Italian grocery store that is near my house.   Our last stop was to a new, to me, restaurant.   It wasn't raining while we were out shopping- but, it has rained heavy since about 1pm today.   The temperature has also dropped and my house even feels cold.  I have turned up the heat two times today and it still feels cold to me.    I think it's because we've been having warmer than usual weather for the past 2-3 weeks and we've gotten spoiled by the spring-like weather? 

I've been spending many weekends at home- cleaning house, finding things to get rid of, and working at school.   So, it was fun to 'get out and about'...  maybe, I'll start trying to do something every other weekend now that the weather is getting 'hopefully' warmer and my knee is getting better?

Tomorrow, I will be back at cleaning house and working at school- but, for the rest of the day?  I think that I'll actually take a break and do some knitting.   Sounds like an exciting Saturday night, huh?