Friday, July 30, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Acting like she's sleeping so she doesn't have to help...

My sweet vintage find...$19! We found the year 1928 on the tag.

The (still kind of bare) study room. Thankfully we won't do much studying in here, mostly just reading blogs or watching ESPN videos (hmm, I bet you can guess who does what).

View of the outside from the inside (too hot to be out there right now). We picked up some resin Adirondack chairs on sale at Lowe's and a steal of a table at World Market. 

Taking a chance with plants--the tag on these succulents said they were pretty resilient. I'm hoping they stick around for awhile.

The ULTIMATE find. We got this old table for free (!) and have put it in the entryway. It's hidden secret? The top opens to reveal a 1971 Singer sewing machine that pops up onto the work table. I still need to give the sewing machine a good scrub down, but I'm hoping that when I plug it in it might work. In one of the tiny side drawers I also found some zippers and buttons from decades ago. Vintage, I love you.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oregonians, New Yorkers, Virginians

Our new town of Richmond gave us quite a warm welcome on Sunday--temperatures were in the 100s and standing outside gave me the same feeling as being at a community indoor pool. You know, that hot, thick air you can't escape (but at least there was no scent of chlorine or loud splashing kids in the middle of a swimming lesson). 

We've hardly had a chance to explore the area yet. Well, that's not completely true. We were reveling in the fact that Richmond is an actual city with actual access to a plethora of things. As we drove down W. Broad Street, we passed a huge Target, REI, Whole Foods, Home Depot, etc, etc, etc. We loaded up on groceries at Trader Joe's (so excited for the fro yo again!) and picked up necessities at Target before heading back home to our apartment littered with boxes.  Cat thinks it's a pretty fun playground, and I think she has inspected every nook and cranny of the place.

Apartment! Can't post pictures just yet since we are in the (very slow) process of unpacking and you can hardly see the floor with all the discarded bubble wrap and empty cardboard shells. We also don't have internet, so we've been hanging out at the local Starbucks (a dangerous three blocks away...must resist making this a habit) where they have slow but free wireless. Our apartment has beautiful hardwood floors that are so shiny and remind me of a ballet studio. We have lots of windows, a living room, dining room, and two (equally small) bedrooms. We've got a balcony that looks out to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and just next to that the building for the Daughters of the Confederacy (welcome to the South!). Come visit and we'll sit out there drinking sweet tea (just picked some up at TJ's) and later we can mosey on up to the statues of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Maybe we can even find a Confederate flag for you as a souvenir.

I'll be sure to update more once we are settled in!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Come Sunday, it'll be Richmond or bust! We've spent the first part of the week recovering from jet lag, and the second half in a mess of boxes, tape and bubble wrap. The big truck comes tomorrow, so I'm sneaking in some internet time before more packing and cleaning (it never ends!). I wish that Star Trek transporter thing was real. Then we wouldn't have to deal with the eight and a half hour drive ahead of us (but it does beat driving across the country again...).

Also wanted to post a thank-you to our lovely friends, Jenelle and Bryan, for making us a delicious home cooked meal tonight! All of our pots, pans, utensils, and even the microwave have been packed away, so we've pathetically been nibbling on tortillas or ordering take-out. You're the best!

Alright, it's time for me to crawl into the extremely hot and humid back of the Tundra to stack boxes like a Tetris/Jenga pro.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Spent this weekend (not packing) and thinking about exactly one year ago. From the epic luau rehearsal dinner shindig on Friday night, to our sunny (and hot!--let's not forget that fainting groomsman) wedding day that ended with an awesome dance party and pedicab ride, to Sunday afternoon spent with the Newton clan for a post-wedding barbeque. Days as incredible as those just can't be replicated. But, oh-oh-oh I wish so much that they could.

In a few hours from now, this time last year we were on our way to our oceanside honeymoon before heading back, packing the U-Haul in three days, and then driving across the country with our chatty cat. A year later things aren't so different--at the end of the week we'll have a moving van stock piled with those same wedding gifts that made the first trip (plus a few extra things I've added to the collection over the year...) and a whole new adventure ahead. are the best thing...

Friday, July 9, 2010


Back at the library again since all the shops are on a siesta from 1-5pm. How nice for them! But lunch and a bottle of wine didn't occupy us for four hours, so we find ourselves here at Soriano Biblioteca once again.

Just wanted to post a quick note about how many times we have been mistaken for brother and sister. We left our rings at home for fear of forgetting them in a place along the way, but what a mistake that has been. Three separate times we have heard, 'So, are you guys sibs?' or 'We thought you were twins!' and 'Are you brother and sister?'

First of all, who takes a one month trip with their sibling and expects both of you come out alive? Secondly, it was offensive enough to get carded for a bottle of wine in Switzerland where you have to be 18. EIGHTEEN. (That's truly been the only place we've shown our passports since passing through customs back in France...) So back in Germany I found a Claire's in the train station and bought a plain silver ring to wear, as a way of warding off inquisitive onlookers. The trade off? My finger turns green.

Oh well. I guess for some, seventeen year old siblings on holiday is just way more plausible than recently married twenty-somethings. Honestly....

Mambo Italiano

I just had to put that song as the title of the post, because I just can't help singing it while I'm here. Just like 'Climb Every Mountain' and 'Edelweiss' were on perpetual replay in Switzerland. And like how when we visited NYC I couldn't help but hum 'Empire State of Mind' in the middle of Times Sqaure. As if holding a camera and a phrasebook didn't shout 'tourist!' enough....

I must admit that when we arrived in Soriano, it was nothing like we had thought it would be. We pictured a tiny, one lane Italian village with infinite charm and sweet Italian grandmothers. It is much bigger than we thought, and a little more isolated too. So we erased all of our expectations and started fresh. And it has been incredible. We are staying in a 17th century building that has about 20 rooms. We've met at least half of the people staying with us, and it's almost like we are all sharing a house for the holiday with a sweet little garden out back.

On Wednesday we did an outing organized by the hotel to a local house where we prepared the makings for an Italian meal. What could have turned into a canned, cheesy excursion was actually very authentic and immensely enjoyable. We arrived with ten others at the home of a strictly Italian speaking older woman who had tables of flour, eggs, and large cutting boards set out under her covered patio. The backyard was full of olive trees and the shade of the patio saved us from the intense sun. We made pizza dough first and then moved on to make pasta. From flour and eggs we produced a lump of cornmeal looking dough that 'slept' for a few hours before we flattened it with long, skinny roling pins. Slicing it into small strips, it dried out a little longer before the mass of noodles was tossed into a huge pot of boiling water. And, voila! Edible, tasty, made-from-scratch fettucine! Our now close-knit group feasted on homemade meal with such pride. For dessert we made chocolate hazelnut biscotti paired with home brewed limoncello. Did I mention how dashing and domestic Chris looked in his apron?

Part of the outing also included wine tasting and olive oil sampling. I watched as the woman poured the olive oil over the sliced bread, sort of mortified that one piece had as much oil as I would normally cook with. Usually I like to dress up olive oil with some balsamic vinegar and pepper, but once the dripping piece of bread touched my lips, I could have drenched it in more. SO good. Everyone was going back to mop up the golden oil that covered the sample plate. MMmmmm.

After our successful day of cooking, we got everyone together at a local pizzeria to watch the Spain-Germany semi-final match in a little outdoor terrace. Though it can get incredibly hot and humid here during the day, the evenings are pleasantly warm with nice breezes.

The day before the cooking extravaganza, we took a rickety old train to the small town of Bagnaia to see a Renaissance garden. We ate at the front desk guy's cousin's restaurant, and I had amazing fettucine in lemon sauce. But other than those two outings, we mostly lounge around the backyard garden playing cribbage, reading novels (I'm following the 800 page adventure of Scarlett O'Hara), and drinking vino. I'm dreading the end of this vacation when we'll be back at work and it will be less acceptable (and more expensive) to go through a bottle of wine a day....

Rome tomorrow! Shade and leisure will be traded for heat and frantic sightseeing as we try to conquer all of Rome's monuments in three days. But a tourist's schedule is never too busy for frequent gelato stops...

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Ciao, ciao!"

We arrived a few days ago in Soriano nel Cimino after spending five nights in Vernazza. We rented a room from the gracious and kind Monica, who always greeted us with a hundred "ciao"s. "Ciao, ciao, Jessi! Ciao! Ciao! Ciao!" Monica owns a restaurant called Al Castello, and it is located on the cliff near the castle (see the little red umbrellas in the picture). Every morning we got to eat breakfast here with a view of the ocean. Other memorable experiences included pastries at the pirate cafe, swims in the harbor, four scoops of gelato a day, pasta, anchovies, sun, bread, hikes through the towns, sweeping views of the of the best destinations of our adventure (but admittedly, they all are the best).

At the moment I am inside a small library in this rural Italian town just south of Tuscany. Appalled at the high price of internet at the hotel (15 euros an hour!), we took the advice of a local shopkeeper and got a library card to use the internet for free. We might be the only non-resident, non-Italian speaking library patrons to ever catch on to this great little idea!

Hopefully tomorrow I can post some pictures (these are just from the internet, since it takes a year to load from the camera...) And as Monica would say, "Ciao, ciao, friends, ciao ciao!!"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Swiss Miss

Having fun with our friends Eiger (hiding on the left), Monch and Jungfrau. Wish we could post more pictures, but the internet is slow (kind of like the enjoyable pace here in Italy).

We got to do some great hikes in Switzerland. We stayed in Murren, which is close to Interlaken on a cliff overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Our first day we hiked through meadows, met cows face to face, walked under a waterfall, and bought some local cheese and salami from a little 'alp' or farm on the hillside. Day two we hiked down from the cliff into the valley and got to go inside a mountain to see where all of the glacial runoff carved its way through the rock to the river on the valley floor. Our last full day we hiked down the mountain into a valley, then up another side of another mountain where we had lunch. Chris accidentally took us on this path that was extremely steep, but we made it back in one (well, two) pieces.

Before we left the Alps via train, we were able to take a boat tour on Lake Thun using our Eurail pass. We enjoyed mountain views on the bright blue/green water of the lake. Later that day we saw our train to Vernazza pull away as we ran to the platform, but nevertheless we are here in Italy enjoying the sea and sunshine.