Living Like an Italian {La Dolce Vita}

Excuse my long absence from the blog! If you are still out there, I have amazing photos to share from our holiday trip to Italy. The family packed up and spent two weeks near Venice, Italy to see Mike’s parents and extended family. We are so fortunate to be able to take the kids to Europe and show them such rich history. We do miss being closer to his family, but definitely appreciate visiting such a beautiful country!

The Amazing Sites of Venice

Can this be more beautiful and magical?? Venice is a city I will never tire of and was decorated so wonderfully for Christmas. The more and more I visit Italy, the more I am in awe of their laid back, focus on family lifestyle. To this day, small restaurants and businesses close for a few hours each day, so the staff and owners can come home to their families, eat together, rest and just spend time. It was a constant reminder over the break, that I should also learn to slow down a bit and appreciate the small, important moments of the day that I probably take for granted. Italy was a great vacation spot to relax and just enjoy time with family, since it is always a daily occurrence there to do just that. You can’t visit Venice without bringing home some treasures, so we have continued to add to our mask collection and I even bought another city sketch to add to my art collection! This new one is pretty large and is just waiting to get framed and hung somewhere special! (That reveal will come soon!)

Our stop in Verona

Verona was quite an amazing site at night. It was also beautifully decorated for Christmas, with lights everywhere, a magical carousel and nativity scenes shown throughout the coliseum. The window shopping in Verona is pretty amazing, too!

As always, the vacation came to an end so fast. It’s now back to the hustle and bustle of work and school. I will, however, try to bring that sense of calm and togetherness back to our own home. I know it’s easier said than done to not get caught up in rushing around, trying to get to sports practice and the bus on time. But, if Italians can do it for centuries and still make it work, I am determined to bring some of that back here, too!

Vacation is Over, Back to Reality!

With this crazy in between time of summer and fall, it is growing more apparent that fall is definitely here. With the kids back in school and our vacation over, it is back to reality time and the beginning of the fall routines. For our summer vacation this year, we went to the beaches in South Carolina. I love the south! I have some family there, everyone’s so polite and I love the food! Staying by the beach, I couldn’t get enough of the seafood and buffets! Eating until you’re stuffed is my idea of a great vacation!  :) So since summer has come to a close around here, I wanted to remind myself of the beach and take a moment to see the gorgeous view…

View from our hotel balcony…

I would love to take one of these pictures and blow it up to a large canvas art piece. I have this as my inspiration…


We also had time to stop in and see a local interior designer’s shop. Knotting Hill Interiors is owned by Principal Designer Kimberly Grigg. The amount of fabrics and accessories to browse through was incredible. Needless to say, I loved every minute of it!
Her Design Studio/Shop
So even though summer is officially here until the end of September, it feels like fall in these parts! Fall happens to be my favorite season, too. Until next time, beach… 

Italy Re Cap – Visiting Venice

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I enjoyed time with family, warm weather and great food! I’m ready to discuss more of our Italy trip- next stop… Venice! Venice is always one of my favorite places in Europe. It’s so magical and amazing. It’s hard to believe that the city is built on water! Every time I visit, I am more amazed than before.

As you can see, I love taking gondola pictures!  :)  I might make a couple black and white prints and frame them! There is so much to see in Venice, that we decided to eat on the go. We stopped at a little sandwich shop in St. Mark’s Square and sat on the steps to eat. This way, we were back on the move, ready to explore the sites. When you visit big cities in Europe, I strongly suggest purchasing artist sketches of the city. The vendors are everywhere and are so talented. For about 10-15 euros, you can take home an 8×10 matted sketch of a part of the city. When we lived in Germany and visited other cities, I always tried to find a pretty sketch drawing. This time, I chose a black and white sketch of a canal in Venice. It’s all framed and on the wall- (I’ll have to show you that soon!) Even though Venice is a heavily touristed area, I think it will always be my favorite spot in Europe!

Until we meet again, Venice…

Italy Re – Cap… Eating and Sightseeing

Verona was one of the cities we visited while on our Italy trip. They have farmer’s markets, a quaint fountain, beautiful, colorful homes and an amazing arena. Whenever we travel to Europe, I’m always amazed at its history. The arena in Verona is about 2,000 years old! Incredible! Verona is also known for Romeo and Juliet. You are able to see Juliet’s balcony and many tourists flock there to take pictures. (Unfortunately, we didn’t see the balcony on this trip, so no Juliet photos to share.) But the images we did take are amazing- they really speak for themselves…

Inside the arena…

A look down from the top of the arena…

The lion’s cages inside the arena…

The arena was originally constructed in Roman times for live entertainment. There were gladiator battles, lions, and the images above are where the lions entered. They still use the arena for operas and ballets. While we were there, they were getting it all ready for a summer opera, which explains the red floor and stage/seating in the 2nd picture.

As you can see from some of the pictures, a storm was coming. We had to leave early, when it started to rain, but this beautiful city was worth even a small visit.

What to eat in Italy???
For us, we loved…
The pizza! It’s super thin and they give you the whole individual pizza, which you use a fork and knife to get through. It’s so delicious! You really can’t go wrong with any topping, but my favorite was Pizze con Funghi e Salsiccia. That’s pizza with mushrooms and sausage. It’s amazing!
The pasta! I love it all! Our absolute favorite is Bigoli all’ Anatra. That’s a thick spaghetti with duck sauce. Really- it’s incredible!
The risotto! (Can you tell I like carbs??) Risotto is a thick, creamy rice and my favorite is Risotto con funghi, which is risotto with mushrooms.
I basically kept having those three meals again and again, never getting tired of it!  :)
Oh, and the dessert! When you’re there, you have to have a daily gelato! My favorite gelato flavor is Straciatella, which is chocolate chip ice cream. 
Tell me about your favorite vacation spot! 

Italy Re Cap – The Countryside

Happy Wenesday! I wanted to thank you all so much for weighing in on my rug dilemma yesterday! I truly appreciate your honesty. That’s why I put it out there. I knew you would tell it like it is! That’s why I love writing on this blog. :) I’m still pondering what to do, so I’ll keep you posted!

As promised, I’m over jetlag and ready to show you some amazing pictures from our Italy trip! When we lived in Germany, I always wanted to take a picture of a herd of sheep! I thought it would look amazing blown up in black and white. I never got the chance and always regretted it. We were driving one morning, and there they were! In small towns in Italy, sheep are often seen grazing and even crossing the street. If you’re lucky enough to try and drive down that street while they’re crossing, you’ll have quite the wait! This time, they were in the grass just to the left of the road. We quickly stopped the car, and I snapped a few pictures! I hope one of these will be the large black and white image on our wall!

I think the first image is a keeper! I love how the two sheep in the bottom right are looking right at me in the first picture! Just beyond the sheep was the highway, so I had to stop every once and a while to make sure I didn’t have large trucks in my shot. I really love the simplicity of Italy. Everything is so laid back. There is no rushing everywhere, no hustle and bustle. Most small shops and restaurants still close from Noon-3:00 for rest and nap. I love that! People come home from work, all to spend some time together during the day. What a way to live!
These next pictures are from a family friend’s farm (say that 5 times fast!) This is a complete working farm with cherry trees, grapes, chickens. We even left with a fresh batch of eggs for breakfast! They were so gracious to host a lunch for us, cooked all from scratch. We had risotto, pork, polenta and apple cake. It was all so scrumptious! Here is a picture of their growing corn field:

It was so peaceful there! Next up is a beautiful bed and breakfast. Some of Mike’s family stayed there while we were visiting. The scenery here was gorgeous. It’s a beautiful, serene place. I had to snap a few pictures!

The last image is of the lobby. I love that the owner parks his motorcycle inside! It was a beautiful place, complete with a pond and a gorgeous villa on the grounds.

So that’s part one! Next up will be what we ate, and cities you have to visit!

Ciao… I’m Back!

We are back from our vacation! We went to Italy for a little over a week and had an amazing time! My husband’s family lives there and we stay with them when we visit. They live toward the north and we enjoyed visiting cities like Verona and Venice. It was wonderful catching up and spending quality time together. We are still a bit jetlagged, but I missed being on the blog and posting. Although we don’t have our pictures downloaded to our computer just yet, here are some beautiful images of Italy found via pinterest. Enjoy!

Source: via Imke on Pinterest

I hope my pictures turned out this good! Every street, every corner and every nook is just as beautiful as you could imagine! I look forward to getting back into routines and visiting your blogs (just as soon as I feel awake enough!)    :) I also plan to chat more about the trip and give tips on where to visit and what to eat!