Monday, October 26, 2009


Yesterday was Pumpkin Patch day. We trekked through the mud and the rain to find the perfect pumpkin and brought them back to the house to carve. I did an owl face, Matt did a bat, Bryan did a scary vampire, and Amanda attempted Edward from Twilight.

Of course, Matt's pumpkin is green. Last year was a watermelon. This year is an unripe pumpkin.

This is when Amanda found out her pumpkin was moldy. It had nasty stuff inside, so she decided not to actually carve the pumpkin. Instead, she was going to scrape the likeness of Edward. See below for picture....this thing is not letting me drag the picture up.

And I forgot to add this picture in my Italy photo album. It is a wine stopper made of glass. So cute!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


That means Good Morning if you don't speak Italian :)  Ahh the things I learned while in Italy. One of which was "No. Please give me my Euro. I need my 4 Euro back Per Favore." Ok, so not really in Italian, but partially. I had a fight with an Italian barista over how much change I should have gotten back. I wasn't budging and she wasn't either. She tried to look past me so that I would just leave, but I stuck my ground. She gave me 3.50 back. Ha. I guess that was a compromise??

We had a total of 8 days to travel to Italy and back. We visited Venice first for one night, Rome for 3 nights, and Venice again for another 3 nights. With the time change, it took over 24 hours to travel there. We left Sunday morning and arrived in Venice on their Monday morning. Our trip did not start off right. I was ready to cry before we ever got to SeaTac airport. I forgot the all-important birth control. So smart. Of course, we could handle that, but a change nonetheless. Once at the Venice airport, we realized they lost my bag. Thank goodness I had an extra pair of underwear in my carry-on as well as my makeup. I wanted to cry though. I had nothing else. AND we were in a place where we did not speak the language. Luckily, many people speak English there and the lost luggage lady did. We then had to buy a bus ticket to get to the main area of took awhile, but we finally got er done.

Once in Venice, we thought we were heading toward our hotel, but we were going the wrong way. It took us about a half an hour walking in the muggy weather, but fortunately I didn't have to lug my bag around :) Just Matt. Once at the hotel, the room wasn't ready as expected, so we hit the bathroom before we went out to walk the streets. Problem this time was after I had sat on the toilet to pee, I discovered there was no toilet paper. Seriously? Seriously. I managed to hobble over to the next stall with a garbage bag between my legs. Hey, it worked.

So we walked the maze of Venice in my heels and ruined the crap out of them...down to the metal on each heel. I needed new shoes. Luckily, the next morning we met up with Matt's brother and his fiance, so I could borrow some much-needed tennis shoes. But before that, I took a long-awaited shower at the hotel and used their toiletries. Little did I know, I had used lotion instead of conditioner. By this time, anything that happened was just funny. I was tired, annoyed, and crabby, but at least I could laugh about it.

Meeting up with Bryan and Amanda (B&A) was awesome. It was so good to talk to someone else! They also had had their travel moments while in Rome, so they had already worked out the train/subway kinks. I was so ready for someone to just take care of us. :) We love them. Rome was great! Taking the subway was really fun and a great way to make your way across the city. We bought unlimited all-day passes and rode several times a day. We saw pretty much everything in Rome there is to see: The Colloseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Forum, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, and much much more.  Pictures at the end of my novel.

We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Rome that was a little north of the main part of Rome. This was PERFECT. It was reasonably priced, the owners spoke very little English and were very cute, it was safe, and it was easy to get to. We would absolutely stay there again if in Rome! Plus, B & A stayed there also, so it was like a slumber party with wine each night!

Every place to eat seemed spendy, especially with the value of the U.S. dollar so low right now. They do not "have" tap water, and you pay the same for bottled water as you do pop: about $5-6. We had cappuccinos and gelato almost every day, and took over 500 pictures. We had WAY too many carbs. We were craving some good protein, but you usually have to pay for that separately as it was already expensive. And or course, knowing me, you would know that we were not about to pay more. Besides, I needed money for my gelato and new Italian leather boots... One night, Matt and I went to Burger King for a late dinner. We were in heaven. I have never loved a burger more.

All of the crazy old buildings and statues in Rome are incredible! Pictures do not even do it justice. the magnitude of each is incredible. It was really fun to walk through each with the guide book and learn about the history. Mostly B would read the book and we would follow along listening. My own personal tour guide!

We finally booked our last hotel in Venice while we were in Rome and naturally, there was slim pickings. We ended up with a "4 star" hotel that looked more like a 1 star. I started to think I was just picky when Matt reminded me how crappy the hotel really was...and how much we paid for it...more than my life is worth I think! Beyond that, we did like Venice and it was a beautiful unique place. The city is built on water. Canals run through most of the city, with bridges everywhere. There are no cars, mopeds or anything. They bring their produce, supplies, etc in and out by boat. They have water taxis, buses and gondolas.

This is a map of Venice. The Grand Canal runs through the city, and there are 3 main bridges where you can cross it. Otherwise, you can take the water bus or taxi to get around. All of the white lines are walkable streets and the little blue lines are small waterways. We stayed up North near the train station so we didn't have to use the bus.

Ok, I'm tired of typing, so here are the pictures!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Banana Deliciousness

I had some over ripe bananas that I needed to use up (we never seem to finish them all), and I wasn't in the mood for banana bread. So, I searched the internet for some deliciousness and boy, did I find it! I found this blog with the following recipe for Banana Bars. I guess the original recipe is from My Kitchen Cafe at GO MAKE THESE. NOW.

Bars -
½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream   [I used cream cheese instead because that's what I had]
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
three ripe bananas (about 1 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. [I used two 8x8 pans instead]  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting  [I didn't use frosting...but it sounds amazing!!!]
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup white sugar (you can use either granulated sugar or confectioners’ sugar – the confectioners’ sugar tends to dissolve better and not be as grainy but either one works fine) (I used confectioners)
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Set aside. In another medium bowl, beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form (it helps to use a chilled bowl and chilled beaters). Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.

I ended up calling this Banana Cake because of its soft, moist consistency. It had the perfect amount of banana flavor and well, was simply perfect all around. Bryan and Amanda came over and devoured it for a snack! You know it's good when I use the word devour.

This picture courtesy of the blog:

P.S. For my South Beach diet friends: you cannot have this. Sorry.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Doggy portraits

Matt had some fun taking pictures of Whiskey on a walk today. He is SO handsome!!