Monday, August 29, 2011

Recreating Perfection

I have to brag about my sweet husband...

Last night, he ran to the store for dinner...he came back with a loaf of nice bread, olives from the olive bar and a bouquet of flowers. He then proceeded to make our favorite appetizer in Italy -- Caprese -- tomatoes and mozzarella drizzled in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and an Italian Balsamic Vinegar. With the bread and the olives, I could almost imagine sitting at a table in a piazza surrounded by perfection.

...I am blessed!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Falling Off a Mountain Top

Today I feel like I am falling...

It's the first day that I have had NOTHING to do and although it has been nice, it has left me feeling a bit sad.

This summer was a whirlwind. Both boys had me going everyday--99% of the activities were baseball related. I had a great tan spending most days outside in the 90 degree + heat! By the end of July, however, we all were needing a break. Luckily, one was coming!

From May 2010 to September 2011, three major milestones had/will occur. Chris turned 40, we celebrated our 20th anniversary and I will turn 40. We decided last year that the two of us would take a trip somewhere to celebrate. All grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were on board to watch the boys so that we could spend 11 glorious days in Italy (where baseball is not a favorite past time!!).

I can honestly say that our trip to Italy was the most amazing trip Chris and I have ever taken. We have traveled to Hawaii, England and around the US and have had amazing times at each of those spots...but Italy was the MOST amazing! Maybe it is because we SO needed a break from our "real lives", maybe it was because we LOVE spending alone time together and we hadn't had that in a long while, maybe it was the romance of Italy itself. Whatever the reason, Italy will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Chris took over 1,800 pictures. I couldn't figure out how to blog and not end up with a ton of pictures posted! So, I have decided to give a quick overview of what I will think of when I hear "Rome", "Florence" and "Venice". Maybe one day I will expound on each of these beautiful cities!

We began in Rome. We spent four nights and four and a half days pounding the pavement to see as much as we could. From the moment we stepped out on the black cobble-stoned streets, I could feel the magic of the city. We heard that there is a word to sum up Rome -- "historical". Historical it was! I love history so I was walking with guide book in my hand reading everything I could about each sight! Poor Chris!

The Pantheon, Largo di Torre Argentina, the Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps,
the Colosseum, Ancient Rome -- WOW!!! Some of these buildings were over 1,800 years old!! It just boggled the mind! I think one of our favorite spots was the Pantheon. We spent every night eating gelato in front of that beautiful place. (Of course, we spent EVERY night in Italy eating gelato in front of beautiful places!!)

In my mind, when I think of Rome, these images are what I will think of:

Ancient Rome

The Colosseum
Leaving Rome was bittersweet. A third of our trip was already over! But, we had two more cities to conquer! Florence was an hour train-ride away.

Florence is supposed to be about art. The statue of David is in Florence, the Uffizi Art Gallery is in Florence. We took these in like a tourist would; however, Chris and I are really not art experts. I would get really excited when I saw something from Michelanglo because he was the only artist I was really familiar with!! We did find that you didn't have to be an "art snob" to appreciate the works. They really are amazing -- paintings, tapestries, mosaics -- all breathtaking!

My word for Florence would be "shopping"! This is where all the "big" designers -- Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. have street after street of stores. And, the smell of Italian leather just pours out into the streets...Mmmmm!

Chris and I happened upon a place that we have named "Our Spot". After having the best food of our trip (all of our food was great -- this place went above and beyond. In fact we ate at this family-owned restaurant two nights in a row!), we were told to watch the sunset from Ponte Vecchio. This is a bridge that was built in 1345. It is the only bridge that was not destroyed in World War II. There happened to be a two man band playing. (Another magical thing about summer in Italy -- every night, there was always some sort of street performer to sit and watch). We ended up standing there for three hours watching the sunset, listening to great music...and...eating gelato!!

This is a picture of Ponte Vecchio.
Sunset at "Our Spot"
After three days, it was time to head to our final destination...Venice!

Venice is truly just romantic! I can't think of another city in the world that is like Venice. No cars; no bikes; winding, narrow streets; bridges and water. Venice is for those who are happy to stroll and get lost. Venice is for those who want to sit at the water's edge (!) and watch the boats and seagulls. Venice is for lovers.

Well...OK...Venice is ALSO for shoppers -- lots of fancy stores here too. And, the shops full of masks and glass are everywhere!

St. Mark's Basilica is absolutely the most beautiful church -- inside and outside -- that I have ever seen! It is literally completely decorated with these teeny bits of tile making up mosaics that look like paintings.

And, then, there are the day trips to Murano and Burano. Murano is the island that makes all of the Italian glass. Burano is an island that is known for making intricate lace. The houses are teeny and painted every bright color you can think of! It was a true gem!

Murano, Italy
Burano, Italy
I think Chris and I would have continued on our Italian holiday if it weren't for the fact that we missed our boys and that Chris's boss might have terminated him and when we went to the ATM to withdraw more money, it would tell us that it had run dry!

We flew home for a few hours, hopped a flight to Albuquerque to pick up our boys and to see our niece marry the man of her dreams and then made it back home at 5pm Sunday night. School started Monday morning! We definitely eeked out every last bit of summer that we could!

The boys are loving their schools/classes/teachers. I finally got "back to normal" and knew that today would come...

...that sad, depressed feeling of being back to reality; that the next vacation is a long way away; that we were back in Houston for 24 hours and baseball was in full swing again. Then I realized that I am spoiled and I need to be so thankful for the time we had and the life I have and that has helped my fall from the mountain...

Well...that AND knowing I get to climb to the top of THIS mountain with my iron!! Ahhh! At least the landing will be soft!