Thursday, August 29, 2013

Painting, part 2

There's painting that is work and there's painting that is pleasure.  We spent an evening with the girls painting for pleasure at a studio in town called Abella.  We arrived to this wall of inspiration:
Yes, I'm blurry--sigh

We are inspired!
 After selecting a painting to recreate, we were given the canvases, paints, brushes and a small amount of instruction.

Then we began making each painting our own.

And my finished product.

I don't currently have pictures of the girls' paintings--I'll have to get pictures of them, and update this post in a day or two... come back.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lessons From Italy Learned--Digging for Diamonds

Without a doubt we enjoyed all the traveling we did throughout Italy and Europe.  We saw incredible things and iconic architecture.  But you know, if you talked to the local guy in Aviano, it wasn't uncommon for him to not have been to any of those places, even though they were just a few hours from home.

It gave us pause--the U.S. has no shortage of incredible things and iconic architecture...will we travel to experience it?  I hope our answer is starting in Arkansas we took a day to visit the nation's only diamond mine to search for our fortunes with some of the family.

Brad supplied buckets for the troops, and we gathered a few random shovels and spades from Dad's house for the task at hand

I'm not sure how flip flops are appropriate shoewear for this job, but...

We paid our entrance fees (and hey, we weren't penalized for being non EU citizens this time--woohoo!) and walked into the park.
 And we tried to find the one spot where we would find riches
love this picture of my brother and his baby girl
 We dug, sifted and washed...

 And at least one of us was looking extra cute

 We took a few small rocks to the counter for the "expert" to look at them and let us know how big our diamonds were...
Okay, so it might have been just quartz, jasper and calcite that we found, but we found it together.

Welcome #5--Family

We were all very eager to head to Arkansas to see our family--the cousins just adore each other.  

So very blessed

Welcome #4--Road Trip!

After a solid week of running back and forth to Home Depot for the 22 gallons of paint it was time to head south.
Let's see how Clifford does--time to drive to Arkansas and see the family

Third Welcome--PAINTING! And more help paint

We couldn't have been happier to return to Ohio and to the house that we bought in 2006 (back before we had any idea we'd ever travel the world).  The kids wanted to make their rooms their own, so we started with an item to decorate their rooms (that required a trip to Target--no complaints from me--Ted, maybe one or two).  Using that item, we got paint inspirations and selected paints for all the rooms...Then we began the tedious job of painting...
 and painting
 and more painting

lots and lots and lots of painting
 and painting difficult to reach areas...
and friends who helped us
 sometimes they helped by keeping us busy
 or feeding us!

Second Welcome--Ohio

We spent our first day back in the great state of Ohio buying Clifford, the big red Suburban.  We are ready to haul.

Ohio welcomed us with beautiful weather!!!

And we didn't waste any time getting to Chick-Fil-A

Friendship--the first welcome home

Our friends in D.C. offered to host our sleep-deprived family while we awaited our final flight.  The kids had a lot of fun--especially with Ryan's $1 thrift shop find--yes, he's aiming it at me...
 His mom wanted a turn, too!  Even better--check out Ted's form!  A few games of r-a-t got everyone's blood moving.
 Group shot!
 Ted and his godson, Ryan.
Thanks--we felt blessed by your graciousness.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ciao Ciao!

All good things must come to an end, and our time in Italy is finally over.  It is August 1.  The day has arrived for us to fly back to the good ol' U S of A.  Without a doubt we will be glad to live in the US again, after all we are Americans through and through.  But we will always carry a large piece of Italia in our hearts.  Here are the final family shots before we got on the plane.

Awesome shirts from our homeschool co-op.

Ready or not here we go!  

The flight was a long, long, long flight, made extra painful by delays while we were in the plane at the gates.  The story is a sad tale, and I won't soil the pages of the blog with great detail of its woe.  We arrived safely in Baltimore 4ish hours after our originally scheduled time, and we soon began recalibrating our body clocks to the Eastern Standard Time.  

Prosecco Road

A beautiful countryside drive was just an hourish from our house.  Some of the best prosecco--the Italian version of Champagne--is produced in the hillsides around Valdobbiadene, Italy.  We left our kids with some friends, and headed into the mountains to take in the lush hillsides.

We didn't have much of an agenda--I don't think we even wanted to taste proseccos at the wineries.  We just wanted to see one more thing.  We had been told about an interesting "restaurant" in the area called Osteria Senz'oste.  I think it translates to something like restaurant without a host.  That's exactly what it was.

Knowing it was intriguing, I did my best before we left to get an address or directions to the place.  It's listed as a destination on tripadvisor, even, but directions were sketchy and an address was elusive.

It's truly a miracle we found it--3 year ago we would have been unsuccessful, but our time in Italy has taught us a thing or two about the culture.  As we drove up a drive, we discovered this sign:
The big blue sign would have made us turn around--It's clearly private property, and we've not been invited.  But, below, somewhat waterstained and dim is a smaller sign.  Well lookie there!  Osteria senz'oste!  By golly I think we've found it.  Now, where to park???

Hmmm, well there seems a car to be parked up in between the grapevines.  Should we?  Heck yes!  It's Italy, park wherever you can!

We walked up to the Osteria...the tavern was so quaint, the overlook was stunning.  

Paths between the grapevines led to different shaded seating areas

We walked into the doorway...

A small room welcomed us, filled with fliers and business cards.  In one corner was a cupboard filled with bread.  In another corner were glasses, cutting boards and knives.

In a third corner was a tiny refrigerator stocked with proseccos, wines and juices.  On top of it was salamis and cheeses.  There was also a price list and a collection box--it was all on the honor system.

We didn't buy anything--it was fairly warm outside, and we weren't that hungry.  We continued down Prosecco Road enjoying the views -- and counting ourselves lucky to have this experience.