Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tuscany Continued

I never thought I would still be recapping our trip to Italy, but life happens.  It is so much fun to be looking back through the pictures and remembering!  I am ready to go back!

When we left Florence we headed to the country side.  Gorgeous!

We stayed at a fantastic hotel called Hotel Villa Rioddi located in Volterra.  The hotel and grounds were beautiful, breakfast was included, and it was run by a mother and son team who had converted an old estate into a hotel.  We loved it.


I loved walking the grounds and taking in the views from the property.  It was so amazing and so simple at the same time.

We spent our first day exploring Volterra.  It was probably my favorite town we visited.


We spent the day shopping, wandering and enjoying the history of this fantastic town.

Bustling city streets.

We stopped in this church and lit candles for PawPaw.

We visited an artist's studio, an alabaster workshop, and I may have bought a couple of purses.  We also got our first taste of gelato. 

No, I do not know why we waited so long.

The next day we toured other towns in Tuscany with this fantastic lady.

This is Marije and she works for a sight seeing company called Hills and Roads.  Marije is wonderful!  She actually did a lot more than tour us one day, she also picked us up from our hotel in Florence and brought us to Hotel Villa Rioddi, she recommended places to eat and visit in Volterra, and she took us back to the train station after our stay in Volterra.  If you are in the area and need a tour guide, call Hills and Roads, ask or Marije.  You won't be sorry.  She is AWESOME.  Our trip would not have been the same without her.

On our second day in the Tuscan country side with Marije we visited Pisa!

Did you know that the leaning tower is a bell tower?  Yes, it is a free standing bell tower for the church in Pisa.

See?  I had no idea.  It is so beautiful in person.

Here is the baptistry.

There is not much else to see and do in Pisa, but the tower and this church is a must visit.  It is so beautiful.  Very touristy, but so worth the stop.

Marije also took us to Lari.  Pasta anyone?

 This pasta is delicious.  We got to see them packaging it.

We came home with some.

So pretty.

This might be my very favorite street in Lari.


A visit to the Tuscan country side would not be complete without a winery tour.

This is Castelvecchio Winery in Terricola.  It is family owned and they also make olive oil.  A great way to end a fantastic tour.

Thank you Marije for a fantastic journey!!  We can't wait to come back and visit you!

Sigh, I am vacation sick.

Linking Up:

Ivy and Elephants

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Recap

The highlight of my weekend was on Friday evening when my friend Liz and I went to visit our friend Arianne in the hospital.

Arianne, Erin, me, Stacy

I blogged about Ari in this post and this one asking for prayers.  She suffered a brain aneurysm back in mid-May and she has had a long road getting to where she is now.  You can read about that road in this blog if you are interested.  Long story short she is lucky to be alive and it was amazing to see her on Friday.

Her birthday was last week, so her room was still decked out for the celebration.  She is rocking a Sinead O'Connor hair-do and she looks gorgeous.

We were told that the aneurysm effected the part of her brain that controls speech and to be prepared for her to talk slowly and have trouble with her words.  Well, I don't know if it is Ari's hard work, great therapy, or simply her love to talk; but compared to what I was expecting she sounds fantastic!  Yes, she had some trouble with some words, but she knew what she wanted to say and with a little patience she got those words out and she did it with a smile.  Such inspirational strength!  It was awesome to hug her!

She told us all about the therapy dogs that have been visiting one a great dane and one a Sammy impersonator.

I told her Sammy was not trained to do therapy, but I would bring her over any time she wanted puppy love.

The best news from our visit?  Ari might be going home TODAY!!!  Yay!  I know she is ready.

Ari's friends have planned a benefit to help her pay bills.  This pesky old aneurysm happened during a time when Ari was without health insurance, so the bills are going to be crazy.  If you wanted to help you can make a donation through the blog or purchase raffle tickets for the benefit.  The big prize is a cruise!

Ari still has a long road ahead of her, but we are so thankful to have her with us.

Ari has gotten back on Facebook some lately.  I saw that she liked this picture the other evening.

True Story, Ari!

She is.

Love you Arianne!

Linking Up:

still being [molly]

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weekend Recap

Last Friday was the husband and my five year anniversary, so the husband and I (and Sammy) took a little road trip for a weekend in Austin.  We booked our weekend in the Austin Vacation House.

What is so special about this quaint little guest house?  A lot.

I don't know about you, but in the past when we have rented vacation homes you have had to bring everything with you (hand soap, paper towels, coffee, etc.).  Well, this house is lovingly and thoughtfully stocked with everything you need to have a carefree weekend.

Yes, you need to bring any food you want to cook, but should you need salt or ketchup this vacation house has you covered. 

They even have umbrellas by the door.  See, thoughtful.  AND they are pet friendly.  However, I don't know if we can ever take Sammy again.  She just couldn't settle in and get comfortable.

Okay, I lied.  She totally made herself at home.

What did we do all weekend?

We hung out in our private pool and hot tub.  Oh, did I not mention that the house comes with a pool?  Silly me.

Best anniversary weekend ever.  We will definitely be staying here in Austin again.  Loved it.

We did venture out of our pool a little bit.  Our favorite breakfast place that we visited was Austin Java.

Super cute place, wonderful food, and great coffee.  Yes, please.  Poor Sammy had to stay home though.

"Mom, you lied again.  You're funny!"

At least I amuse myself and Sammy.  Austin is such a great, relaxed town that loves animals.  Yep, Sammy joined us for breakfast and she appreciated the shade, water bowls and small bite of bacon I saved her.

It was a fantastic weekend.

So cute.

I am ready to go back.

"Me too."

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trees Begone

If you have been reading the blog a while then you know the husband and I moved into our 1930's house a little over a year ago and we have been doing some updating.  Well, now that updating is extending to the outside of the house.

The only thing we had done to the front of the house so far was to remove the dated screen door that was hiding a rather cute front door.

One thing that was driving me crazy about the front of the house were the Japanese yews that had been allowed to grow out of control on the sides of the house.


I was so happy to see them go!


I really think it makes a huge difference for the front of the house and I am excited to get in the flower beds and re-landscape.  I feel like you actually see the house now and not just the craziness of the trees.

Before you yell at me for killing trees, I must tell you that I did do a lot of thoughtful consideration before having them removed.  They were so big and sparse at the trunk that I had really no option of trimming them back down to a reasonable and presentable size. 

I worked with a great company called Living Trees and Shrubs on the removal.  They made the process super easy for me, we didn't have to be home for them to come write an estimate for the work.  They emailed me the proposal, which I returned via email.  The work was done quickly (also while we were not home) and they cleaned up beautifully after they were finished.  If you have a need, I recommend them.

I am so excited to continue improving the curb appeal of our cute home.  Coming up on my list (besides getting in the flower beds and re-landscaping) is painting the front door a fun color, removing the burglar bars from the windows, power washing the brick, adding large potted plants to the front porch, and re-screening.

I'll post progress as it happens!