Friday, June 11, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today was kind of a crazy day.  Not "crazy" crazy, just out of the norm.  Like I said yesterday, Christine's aunt, Kathy, and cousin, Jessica, were flying in town this morning from Idaho.  They had 4 connecting flights to get here, and left Idaho Thursday morning around 9.  Their flight was scheduled to arrive in Venice around 9, so Christine was going to the airport to meet up with them.  They're renting a car while they're here, but Kathy was concerned about speaking Italian to get the rental car, and then reading the road signs to get to the house.  Understandable.  So Christer got a ride to work with Blake (of Blake and Carrie, the family that had the bbq a week or so ago), so Christine could have the car to go to the airport.  I stayed home with Jameson because there was really no point in dragging him along on the hour ride to and from the airport.  Also, Christer and Blake were stopping by during lunch with Caleb, Blake and Carrie's youngest son, because it was his last day of school today and it was a half day so he got out at lunchtime.  Carrie had a going away part to go to and wasn't able to get home, so Caleb was going to hang with us for a bit.  Blake and Carrie also have 2 other kids, but they're both older and go to American school, while Caleb goes to Italian school.  American school doesn't get out until next week.  Jameson went down for his nap, and I hear people bustling around in the kitchen, so I head down to have lunch with Christer and Blake and Caleb.  I walk down, and Christer, Blake, Caleb, AND Christine are all in the kitchen.  No Kathy or Jessica.  Apparently they had a 2 1/2 hour delay in Charlotte, SC, and missed their connecting flight from Frankfurt to Venice.  They couldn't get on standby for the next flight, so they had to wait 6 hours for the next plane to take them to Venice.  That means, that by the time they got here, they had literally been traveling, with the time difference, for over 24 hours.  CRAZY!  So we all had lunch, Caleb hung out, and Jameson slept.  For an unusually long amount of time.  His naps are normally anywhere from an hour to 2 hours and today he slept for over 3 hours!  Christine left to make the trek back to the airport to pick up Kathy and Jessica for real, and Jameson and I played some more.  We had made plans to eat at one of Christer and Christine's favorite restaurants, Le Contrade, for dinner tonight.  Since Jameson would already be in bed, we had the Smith kids come over and hang out at the house while Jameson slept and we were at dinner.  Poor Kathy and Jessica.  They got home, threw their suitcases in their room and got ready for dinner.  Such troopers!

We had a real Italian meal at real Italian time.  We got to the restaurant at about 8 something and left around 11:30.  Dining like the locals!  Le Contrade is in Sacile, the town nearby with the market and the good gelato.  All 7 of us piled into Carrie's SUV and rode up together.  Blake and Christer were real men and squished into the back seat so us ladies could sit up front.  Blake's like 6'3".  Le Contrade means "the neighborhood," and it truly does feel like a neighborhood restaurant.  It's very nice but casual, and sits right in the middle of Sacile, amongst houses and shops.  The owner, Roberto, met us as we were walking up and got us situated on the covered patio.  Christer had told us that they get fresh seafood every day, and tonight on the menu was an assortment of raw seafoods.  Mmmm (sarcastically, of course).  We start with a bottle of prosecco, which is like the Italian version of Champagne, and is sooooo good.  I'm not a big fan of champagne, but all the proseccos I've had have been amazing.  We were brought little espresso type glasses with pureed tomato with cilantro and an assortment of other spices to start our meal.  Everyone knows how much I LOVE tomatoes, but I couldn't just NOT try it on principle.  And, surprisingly, it was okay.  It was like a thick, pureed tomato with added spices.  Next up was the antipasti, or appetizer.  I opted for the lobster salad with lemon and some other thing that we couldn't quite understand.  The waitress tried explaining but something was lost in translation because Christine thought it was chestnuts and I'm pretty sure it wasn't chestnuts.  The lemon is used as a way of cooking the seafood.  They soak the lobster in the lemon juice, and the acid acts on the meat and "cooks" it.  I took a photo journal of our meal tonight, so I have pictures of everything!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


If you've read my other posts, you've seen the "hidden picture" claiming to have 12 frogs. of the coolest people in the world wanted to prove that he found all 12 frogs, and here they are:

This morning Christer came in to the kitchen while I was still super sleepy faced and only a sip or two into my coffee and was going on and on about his super run this morning.  He went on and on about his 40 minute run past 2 of the churches we can see from the house, alongside a river, through a small town with a bakery, and back in time for breakfast and work.  Ok.  That's it.  It's time for me to step it up a notch.  After breakfast I got my running gear ready and wanted to use my Nike+ so I could actually start tracking my runs (Nike+ is this super cool device that tracks your distance, calories, and speed).  Welp, I made it all the way to Italy with every essential running device EXCEPT the sensor for the Nike+.  Epic fail.  But I guess if that and a hairbrush are the only things I forgot then I did okay.  So long story (kinda) short, I couldn't use the Nike+, but running is getting serious starting with today's almost 5 mile run across the street.  These pictures were taken along the way, so I apologize if some are a little blurry.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Cock-a-doodle-do?  Italian roosters sound differently than American roosters.  According to the people, that is.  Kee-kee-ri-kee is my own phonetic spelling for chicchirichí, which is what people say you when you ask what sound a rooster makes.  It is super funny sounding because they also do a sort of clicking sound with their tongue somewhere in there.  We think it's funny, but they think we're crazy when we say "cock-a-doodle-do," so I guess we're even.  Tomatow Tamahto right?  I thought of this today because there's about to be a mass murder in our backyard any day now.  The chickens are about to be be-headed and arrive on our doorstep to be cooked up for dinner.  Don't worry.  I'll be there to document the whole thing.
Ida brought over fresh lettuce from the garden today, so we had fresh salads with olive oil and vinegar for dinner today.  mmmm!  It's very uncommon to find restaurants with salad dressing.  First, the salads come AFTER your meal, and they always just bring olive oil and vinegar for dressing, which, quite frankly, is all you really need.  I went on a few posts ago about the amazing vinaigrette in Siena, but the olive oils here are just as good.  The olive oil we have here at home is produced in a grove about 15 minutes from our house, and it's SOOO good.
Christer got a ride to work so we could use the car today.  At least that's how he played it off.  He might have just hitched a ride to work so he didn't have to be seen in this thing:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bravo! Laundry!

It was another quiet day at home, so I went out for a bit of exploring.  I walked down the main road in front of our house (yes, the scary one) and then up and around one of the neighboring towns.  Remember the church steeple you can see from our house?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wishy Washy Washer Woman

It's great being on vacation, but it's also good to be home.  Everyone was glad to be back in their own beds, but I think Levi was the happiest.  Everyone got to go on vacation and poor Levi just got a ride to the kennel.  Last night when we got home I checked up on the nest in my window, and there were still 2 eggs.  This morning when I woke up, the babies had hatched!  They're so brand new they still have that yucky bald look, and the parental units still sat on them all day, so getting a picture was pretty tough.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lovers Locks

It was super late and I was exhausted last night, if you couldn't tell by my post.  I forgot my favorite thing about Italy (which I have since added), I didn't proof-read, and I forgot to add a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that I was going to put at the end of the post.  Since the quote is so beautiful, here it is today:

"While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart."  -St. Francis of Assisi

Today was our last day in Tuscany! Boo hoo hoo.  We had to check out of our villa by 10 am so we actually had to hustle a bit this morning.  We packed up everything, Christer loaded it all in the car (for some reason we had like twice as much stuff coming home), and the entire trunk of the station wagon was packed.  Christine walks out with 2 huge bags that need to be put in the trunk as well...time for a professional packer to take over.  Christine unpacked and repacked everything Christer had just put in so that we'd have room to take everything home.  Not so sure how we had so much stuff because we didn't really buy anything, but you know how that goes.  We wanted to get a stop in on our way home, and since we were driving straight through Florence, we decided to take a look around at the birthplace of the Italian renaissance and have some lunch in the enormous city.

My first observations upon driving into the city:  Florence is crazy.  There were literally 5 lanes of traffic funneling down to 2 lanes with ZERO marks on the road.  Not a single line on the road signaling cars where to go.  It was just a free for all, may the best man win situation.  And, on top of all this crazy traffic, there are about a million mopeds, who, for some odd reason, are completely exempt from any and all traffic laws.  Not seriously, but they drive like they are.  We had finally funneled down to our 2 lanes, staked our place in the line of traffic, and, no joke, 5 mopeds just scoot on by us and all the other cars, driving down the middle of the road, on the side next to the sidewalk, and anywhere else they can fit, just to get to the front of the line.  It was sheer insanity.  This won't give you any insight to the crazy driving, but just check out the number of mopeds parked on the side of the road.  No, these were not for sale.  Every single one of them had an owner somewhere on the streets of Florence.