Thursday, November 19, 2009


I don't know if it's the chilly weather, the brightly colored leaves plastered on the wet pavement or the impending arrival of the holidays (yay Thanksgiving!), but I've been in a pie mood lately. I made a quasi-successful peanut butter pie (my fault, not hers!) from a recipe I found at Homesick Texan's blog the other day (meringue and I have issues...I've yet to master the concept of "peaks") and an out of the park sweet potato pie last night. Last night's pie was from the masterful smitten kitchen and it has turned out brilliantly! I'm definitely more of a fruit pie person, but the warm cinnamon-y, nutmeg aromas partnered with the flaky buttery die for. Literally. This could be my last meal on earth, or at least the dessert. If you have to make a pot luck dish for the office or for your Thanksgiving meal, I would suggest this one! I left out the lemon juice, but it tastes fantastic. Next up, cherry and apple pies for a wedding this weekend, then pecan, strawberry rhubarb (we'll see how the out of season fruit issue works out...), and pumpkin for Thanksgiving! Not to mention, I still want to try Carole's cranberry pecan. Nom :) Now that I'm not intimidated by pie any longer, the sky's the limit! Yum!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Knitting Frenzy!

Do you remember that list I made awhile back? The list that outlined all of my unfinished works in progress that I was trying to finish up? Well, I've definitely made progress! I've finished 3 of the 5 items on the list, not including the pair of Bella's Mittens that I made for my friend Jill's birthday. Granted, they weren't completed by her birthday, but they're done now, only 3 months later and it's still not cold enough to wear them. So a small measure of satisfaction for me!

1. Mosey - I finished these up last weekend and wore them out and about. So cute! I felt literally like a child of the 80s (which, granted, I am...but I wasn't old enough to pick out my own clothes then, so does it really count??) and with denim shorts and a green tee from American Eagle, I was rocking out! I will wear these again, especially as the weather gets cooler. I think I need another pair of I just have to find a pattern or come up with something on my own!

2. Dream Swatch Head Wrap - I was tired of looking at this in the knitting basket next to my couch, so I whipped it out over the weekend. Not difficult at all! It turned out beautifully, but since I don't have the bangs to make this flattering, I gave it to my fashionable friend Anna! She looks tres European, don't you think?

3. Horcrux Socks - I finished these a good while back, but haven't worn them yet due to the ridiculously hot temps and high humidity we experience here in the South during the summer. When wool sock season comes along, I'll break these bad boys out!

I'm still working on the Circles Scarf (the plan now is to give this to my mama for Christmas!) and have to finish up the majority of the little suction cups/circles. The Wild Stripes blanket is in flux as well, but I'm thinking about co-opting that yarn for use in the Rebecca sweater. We'll see though. In the meantime, I'm going to start Ysolda's Urchin so I have some portable work knitting with some yarn that my mama got me awhile ago...Ironstone's Fun Wool. So pretty! Let's hope the productivity keeps up, especially over the holiday weekend!

This weekend, I'm off to my alma mater, Clemson University, for the first football game of the season! Go Tigers! Then we'll spend the rest of the weekend lounging at Lake Wateree. Bliss! After that, over the Patriot's Day weekend, I'lll be catching a quick flight to Chicago, the Windy City, to visit my dear friend Jill, along with her sister Becky and our friend Devon. Should be an exciting time filled with pizza, baseball, a wine festival in Oldtown and good times with good friends!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rome (Finally!)

Hey folks! I know I've been gone for awhile, but you know me and blogging...I can't ever seem to find the time to write an interesting post! So, on to Rome!

Getting to Rome was an experience in and of itself. Friday morning, Becky and I took the Metro, then the RER to Charles de Gaulle Airport to catch our Lufthansa flight to Rome. Not a direct flight though...we had a stopover in Milan. Just to warn you though...Milan looks the same from the airport as any other place in the world does. Lots of tarmac, planes and towers. The only really unusual thing was the Lego Hagrid in the corridor and the American dude we met in the terminal that does advertising for Tampax. Lovely.

Rome itself is a beautiful place! Warm and inviting, full of yummy food, awe inspiring sights, amazing shopping, and of course, gelato! Yum! We spent our weekend in Rome at the Hotel Eden, which was a nice hotel, but the front desk staff was a tad bit stiff. Loved the rooftop bar though, what a view! It was nice after a long day of walking, shopping, and sightseeing to relax with a single glass of Pinot Grigio up there!

On Saturday, after the rigors of travel the day prior, we set out early for the Vatican. Although you would think it was obvious, you need to be wearing something that goes to at least your knees and have your shoulders covered to get in here! I didn't consider myself inappropriately dressed, but it is a church after all, and so we had to purchase some lovely scarves in order to get a peek at Saint Peter's Basilica. We saw the Tomb of the Popes, including Pope John Paul II's tomb, the beautiful gilt and artwork inside St. Peter's, and the grounds of Vatican City. Pictures really can't do it justice! And everywhere were these really good looking, uber chic Vatican security guards looking all James Bond-ish. Intriguing!

While in Rome, I also managed to see the Victor Emmanuel monument, Ancient Rome and the Coliseum (the outside of it, anyway), the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish steps. We managed to do some serious damage to our budgets with the shopping too! I couldn't pass up the cutest spring weight purple trenchcoat, a pair of cream suede boots, or a lovely black dress and contrasting red bag from Habana! I paid for this later (literally) when I got my Visa card bill. Yikes!

Did I mention the food? We had some fantastic water buffalo mozzerella, grilled salmon to die for, and yummy ravioli! I feel like I didn't gain an ounce in Rome though from all the walking. Even though I walk at least 2 miles a day, I was not prepared to travel close to 5 to 10 miles while carrying shoes in the heat of the Roman summer. Although it did rain the last day we were there. Thankfully, there were umbrellas for sale in the park to save me from a complete drenching!

Rome, I loved you! Once day, I'll be back...or so says the legend of the Trevi Fountain!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Itty Bitty Kitties!

I still have so much to tell you about my Europe trip! It's just a matter of finding the time and the energy. I drank some caffeine yesterday, which I never do, and it wreaked absolute havoc with my sleeping last night. In other words, I may have gotten about 3 or 4 hours in. Le sigh, so sleepy at work today! Sweet tea, I'll remember you for this...

In other news, please go over and donate to the Itty Bitty Kitties' Fundraiser for the Tacoma/Pierce County Humane Society! Think of all the good your donation will do for the homeless kitties there! To read more about this wonderful cause, check out the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee's blog. So cute!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

France: Day 2

Have I ever mentioned to y'all my love for all things Band of Brothers? I know that loving a WWII miniseries is a little incongruous with my other hobbies...knitting, reading, shopping for shoes (and lots and lots of clothes), getting pedicures, etc. I just can't help myself though! It's a riveting and engaging looking at the 101st Airborne's Easy Company from the start of their training to D-Day to the end of WWII. The acting is fantastic and the cast is even better...David Schwimmer as the tyrannical Sobel, Damien Lewis as the stalwart and courageous Dick Winters, Ron Livingston and his classic sarcasm as Lewis Nixon. Even Donnie Wahlberg gets in on the Band of Brothers action! Anyway, since Becky was the one who turned me onto Band of Brothers, it was only fitting that she and I make our way to the Normandy coast and the site of one of the most critical military battles of all time...Omaha Beach.

We started off the day early, leaving our hotel in Paris and walking to Montparnasse Gare (curses for still not figuring out how to use the Metro until later this afternoon! We turned a 3 minute Metro ride into a 45 minute walk). After renting the Fiat from National Car Rental, we hit the Paris morning rush hour. Let me warn you, this is not for the faint of heart. As the designated driver, given that I am the only one of us two that could drive a 5-speed, I almost broke down into tears. This is the worst traffic I have EVER encountered, worse than LA, worse than New York, and the first time I've ever been the driver in such conditions. It's not like the traffic wasn't moving, but there were so many lanes (but yet, no lanes on the actual road) it was chaos. Motorcycles weaving in and out, aggressive drivers, we couldn't find the street signs...getting onto the Peripherique, four directions of cars converged into one little 20 foot ramp. I ate my Bueno Bar and tried not to think about the cost of denting the rental Euros. Once we were on the highway though, it was just like driving back home. Only better. I do so love roundabouts and France is full of these. So much safer and quicker!

So, we only got lost (or confused, as Becky put it) a couple of times and eventually made our way to Sainte-Mere-Eglise, where the Airborne troops landed early in the morning on June 6, 1944. This was at the time occupied by the German army, but it quickly fell to the Americans. The Normandy coast is actually one of the most American-friendly areas of France because of the D-Day liberation. Not that we encountered any unfriendly people though. Here we visited the Airborne Museum, saw tanks, gliders, large mortar guns, and the weirdest mannequin soldiers ever. I think they were female mannequins dressed up as men. Strange. But still, a very moving exhibit and an interesting movie that told the story of Sainte Mere Eglise and D-Day that lasted about 15 minutes.

Next up, Omaha Beach! It was a beautiful sunny day with a bit of a breeze, definitely jacket weather. It surprised me that there were a few people out in bathing suits. Whooo, chilly! The English Channel was a bright, lovely blue and the memorial at Omaha was very sobering. Think about it. 65 years ago, hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers died on this very beach fighting for freedom and trying to overthrow Nazi oppression. It was hard not to feel very moved. Plus, we got to see the amazing Les Braves sculpture on the beach. I wonder if they'll have something like that for the World Trade Center when it's completed?

Just down the road from Saint Laurent sur Mer and Omaha Beach, is the American Military Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer. We hopped in the Fiat (can I take it home with me??) and made our last stop of the day here. This was truly the most breathtaking part of our entire trip today, and maybe of our whole European experience. Here, overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel (La Manche), are the graves of all the American soldiers killed on D-Day. I'm sure this must be what Arlington Cemetery looks like, but this was incredibly powerful. There's just this peaceful silence and serenity in the air and all you can see are white crosses and Stars of David for what seems like miles. There were a bunch of visitors there the day we went, but still, everyone was respectful and appropriate. I'm sure I took about 100 pictures there and would've taken more if my batteries hadn't died. As an aside, battery death was an ongoing saga until I finally, finally found lithium batteries in the airport in Milan. I love plain old Duracell nickel cadmium batteries, but lithium is the way to go in digital cameras.

Our trip to Normandy was one I think every American should make at some point to learn more about our history and how powerful a group of individuals can be who believe in doing the right thing. It was definitely the trip of a lifetime and even though we had many adventures in the Fiat (finding gas stations, finding lunch, getting lost in Paris, eating sandwiches from gas stations), it was still a wonderful, amazing, unforgettable experience!

Next up, our weekend in Rome!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Paris: Day 1

So after leaving home on Tuesday, June 16 and meeting Becky in Charlotte, she and I had a flight across the pond to Paris! Let me say, it's always better to travel with a friend on long trips, especially one of my best friends! After a diet of whole grain Goldfish and Fiber One bars (note: these are full of fiber, as promised), it was nice to set down in Paris and have a real meal. But first, we had to take the RER and the Metro from Charles de Gaulle Airport into the 14th Arrondissement to our hotel. This would have been easy-peasy, minus the 200 lbs of luggage we brought. Did you know there are very few escalators in the Metro? Only stairs? I still have bruises on my legs from the suitcase. Next time, pack lighter!

After that harrowing adventure, we made it to our lovely hotel and in order to avert the jet lag, we changed clothes, grabbed the Metro map and our lovely Steve Franks guidebook and headed out to Versailles! Not a bad little trip, although I didn't realize there was graffiti EVERYWHERE in Paris, some of which was very artistic. Our first stop upon arriving was lunch at the only place we could easily identify...McDonalds. Not my first choice for a French meal, but when you're starving and in a touristy area, it worked. I still wanted a nice, leisurely French dinner, but that came later.

Versailles...what can I say? It was so much larger than I could ever have imagined. The scope was just incredibly vast. The golden gates definitely create an imposing sight. Although we didn't feel up to braving the lines and going inside (by this point, we were hitting our "up for over 24 hours" phase), we did decide to tour the gardens. I love gardens. I just find them so peaceful and serene. Even when they are filled with hundreds of tourists. They were manicured to a tee and just so intricate. It was like a huge park, really, more so than a garden. Foutains and statuary dotted every corner of the landscape and the weather was just perfect. Coolish, but not cold, and thankfully, not too hot for two tired and footweary travelers.

After our tour of the gardens, we decided to head back to our hotel in Paris and find a nice little place to eat dinner. We found this adorable restaurant packed with people on the sidewalk, although we had no trouble getting a table inside near the window. I ordered steak and mashed potatoes, which tasted lovely, but not quite like I expected. All in all, it was a pretty good day, but by this point, we were beat and wanted to get a little bit of sleep before our next adventure: Normandy!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer's Here!

Sorry for the long absence, but work's been crazy, and as the title says, summer is here in NC! With a vengeance, I might's been in the upper 90s/low 100s and just killer hot here. I wonder, where does that brief two-week window of spring go? Can't complain though, summer means the lake and the beach and lots of vacations!

Anyway, I've just returned from my trip to Paris and Rome, and it was fantastic! Expect a post later this week full of pictures and commentary. I'm definitely going to have to break it up because we crammed a lot into seven short days, two of which were spent traveling. I can't wait to go back, but it is always good to get home!

In other news, Diana of Simple Elegance is having a contest! Just leave a comment on her blog by midnight, July 4th and you'll be entered to win an awesome blue silk scarf! After my trip to Europe, I've been buying and drooling over every scarf I see...especially the bright ones!

Here's a preview, with more to come!