Portofino, Italy

Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean Sea

Portofino, Italy

Portofino, Italy

Portofino, Italy

Portofino is such a picturesque Italian seaside city. We took a ferry boat over to Portofino from Santa Margarita. You can easily find these ferry’s and what I just found out, you can go to multiple cities – like Cinque Terre. You can also hike into Portofino from Comogli or San Fruttuoso (a must see). I hear the hiking isn’t for the light at heart BUT you can see some really cool WWII bunkers on top of the mountains. We have promised ourselves that the next time we go to Italy, we are going to hike to all of the cities. I can’t wait!

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A big shout out to my girl, Jill Rodgers. She just became a Registered Architect. I am so proud of her!!

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ROMA

Hanschen Klein's ColoseumWell dang-it, it happened. My true love for Italy was reunited. I said I wouldn’t return for a while, and then, inevitably,  I always go back to that beautiful romantic-beast of a country. But what’s even better, my truest of loves – fell in love with it too.

IMG_2943 Unfortunately, my love cannot be shared with the Italian airlines, AlItalia. This was the last time we saw our bags… until 5 days later. Yep, we’re going to have to have a little chat.Hanschen Klein's ROMAOn another note, if you find yourself with 48 hours in Rome and you’re overwhelmed with all of the options of things that you can do… I have a fool proof first-timers trip to Rome. You’ll hit the high points and you won’t feel like you missed out on anything too historically significant.

DAY 1 (Full Day): Wander the town — There are a few things that (in my opinion) you absolutely have to see – along with every other tourist. Let your first day be the day that gets you acquainted with the city. Must see’s: Fontana di Trevi (throw your coin into the fountain), the Pantheon (because, shame on you if you don’t!), the Colosseum (go in if you have time, but if not – do a pass by), while your over that way, check out the Arch of Constantine and walk through the Roman Forum (or pass by it and look through the gates), and eat some gelato near the Spanish Steps.  This would definitely be a full day and also a cheap day. The only things you would have to pay to see are the Colosseum and the Roman Forum — and that’s only if you choose to go in!

Hanschen Klein's Pantheon

The Pantheon

Hanschen Klein's PantheonDay 2: Tackle the Vatican — Whether you’re catholic or not, you should check out the Vatican City. Why, you might ask? Are you kidding… you know you want to see the Sistine Chapel by means of the Vatican Museum. Don’t lie to yourself – you do. Let me help you out here — BUY YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE. And that’s for every major museum in Europe. I had never been to Italy during the high tourist season, so I never knew how much of a necessity it really was to buy your tickets in advance. The typical wait time is between 1-2 hours. No joke. Maximize your time – buy in advance and skip the lines!!

HanschenKlein's Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

HanschenKlein's The Vatican

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Interior Walls inside the Vatican

If you’re up for it, climb the stairs to the top of the inner dome and then take another set of stairs if you want to go all the way up and look over the entire city. It’s 5 Euro’s to take the stairs and 7 to take the elevator. Do it. But don’t if you are claustrophobic or afraid of heights. The walls do tend to curve and lean a little. It’s also one-way, so it’s difficult to go backwards once you start.

Hanschen Klein's Piazza NavonaAnd once you’ve exhausted yourself, get some vino and sit down at a nice restaurant at Piazza Navona.  And for all of you Dan Brown fan’s… this is the fountain where the bad guy attempts to drown the last cardinal. I love this city. Give yourself time to get lost and discover new things around you. Live it and Love it.

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Peace and Love Throughout the World

Oh Life…


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Well, yep… that’s me with my boss. This year has certainly been a big year. Full of big business accomplishments, which I hope is a good enough excuse for all of those I have not called or updated lately. I’m still alive, I’m still around… and I’m still working! I’m trying to find balance. Balance is a good thing in work, life, relationships, health, fitness… I could use some balance. And I may need some help when I get a little lost… so bare with me.

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IMG_3315In other news, we have recently been doing work in Little Rock, AR and we were fortunate enough to be able to stay at the Peabody Hotel. I can now say that I have seen the Marching Ducks and they were so cute!! And I got to send my grandfather a really great post card with ducks all over it. AND, just a side note, Bieber stayed at the hotel the night we left. I didn’t know if y’all would think that was interesting or not… I guess he wanted to see the ducks, too 🙂

IMG_3152I’m not quite sure why, but this is my favorite picture from the trip.

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IMG_3154I really love this guy. It’s one of those things, where I just can’t remember life without him. He’s a great best friend. He talks and howls and I love him… and he’s really FLUFFY!

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IMG_3153AND, look at how crafty my best friend is!!! This is my stellar Christmas present that she made me. I. Love. It. No not that best friend up there, this best friend… down here!

AAC-[hk]

Yep, that’s special.

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Plano, Illinois: The Farnsworth House

The beautiful, the magnificent, the work of art — The Farnsworth House. Have you ever been to a place and been in awe of what stands before you? I’ve been fortunate enough to have it happen to me a few times. It happened again, when I went here, to Plano, Illinois. It all started when we went to celebrate my fathers 60th Birthday with my brother and sister -in-law, who live just outside of Bloomington, IL. I was thinking of what we might be able to do in the surrounding area and I thought to myself, “What in the world are we going to do in the middle-of-nowhere Illinois?” And then I got to thinking, there is a Masterpiece in the middle-of-nowhere IL! Thank goodness I remembered. It’s such of work of art. I would hate to put my experience into words because I felt like it was so much more than that – like trying to explain a perfect meal, a piece of art… or something along those lines.

We took a Docent Tour that we had to book in advance and as we were the last group for the day, we were able to stay a bit longer and enjoy the grounds and ask questions. Definitely the way to go if you plan on visiting. They don’t allow pictures on the interior, which is a bit of a shame because I can’t show you in pictures the massive amounts of design that went into the space. Even the jamb’s in the door were well thought out. This piece of architecture was a marvel at the time it was constructed in 1951 and is still ahead of its time today. Here are a few of the pictures that I loved. Let me know if you have any questions. BTW, it was absolutely fantastic. My entire family (both those in design and completely outside of design) enjoyed the trip. I think for any one person it helps explain what truly extraordinary design can accomplish. The perfect balance between function and form – a true masterpiece.

Photo taken by NoelR

Photo taken by NoelR

Photo taken by NoelR

Look at those happy design nerds!

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I’m so thankful I got to see some pretty wonderful people this weekend: my bestie, my dad and talked to my mom and my other bestie. AND this weekend I’ve spent the first 24 hours in my new house… have I mentioned that I have now “lived” here for 4.5 weeks!!! Yes, I have been just a little busy.

Photo taken by NoelR

Okay, so we’re not just design nerds… we just nerds.

 

Baby Jockey

Surprise, we took the plunge! We rescued a sweet baby Australian Shepherd… and when I say baby — I mean to say, he is my baby and already spoiled rotten! He’s 2 years old and he was a farm dog who has a lot of energy. His current owner was put in a bad situation and could no longer take care of him. The owners family suggested to take Jockey to THE POUND and he just couldn’t do it. One of my dearest friends put on facebook that there was a full breed Australian Shepherd that needed a good home. And he found one!! We renamed him Jockey and he already knows his new name.

His breed is typically used for herding, and believe me, he know’s how to do it. Actually, it’s really obnoxious when you run with him because he will try to herd you! Oh, I love him so much! I was really worried about him at first. He couldn’t really find his voice and he was whining a lot. I was so worried that he was having separation anxiety. So I did what any concerned doggy mom does — I googled what to do! You can already tell what kind of mother I’m going to be! I found this great blog with tons of helpful tips about what you can do to help your pup. He’s responded really well to our methods. The best and hardest one is to ignore him and to not coddle him when he begins to whine. But all-in-all, we’ve decided that this whole “puppy” thing is for the birds. We don’t have to worry about him chewing up the house and we’re not having to potty train! What a blessing!

He is constantly making me laugh at all the silly things he does and he has such a great personality. I could not have asked for anything better. Of course, we are still working on things but he is such a quick learner. I know, I’m such a proud momma.

Yeah, I think he’s settling in quite well. Look at my sweet little boy.

Today I am thankful for having an opportunity to come to Beaufort. It’s nice having a good repore with my coworkers that I speak with on a daily basis over the phone. I’m also thankful I got to speak to my grandmother — I love her. AND that I’ll be in one of my favorite cities tomorrow… CHARLESTON!

last 2 photo’s taken by NoelR and edited by AAC

Way-finding

I don’t know the way, but I’ll be there soon.

unknown

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Today I am thankful for: my father having a speedy recovery after his surgery. He is looking awesome. And for my Gug’s (sister-in-law) not dying in her car accident.

Wonton.

One of my dad’s most coveted recipes is the famous family Wonton. If you are a chinese dumpling lover, then you would find these things delectable. I wish I could tell you that I’m providing you with the recipe, I even tried to write it down… but somehow his “measurements” don’t really equal out to be anything normal–and I can’t remember where I wrote it down. Pitiful, I know.

Ingredients: Ground pork, baby shrimp, regular shrimp – cut up, lots of ginger, garlic, chopped green onion, eggs, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and chinese cooking wine.  I think that’s it. But there may have been more. Poor memory… sorry about that. Oh… you’ll need some wrappers, too.

The best part about dumplings is actually folding them. Everyone folds their dumplings differently. My dad knows a few different ways of folding wontons… but he usually goes for the most efficient way possible.

We put some meat in one of the corners of the wapper. The meat also acts as a glue… a bonding agent, if you will. So we put a little bit on the other corners of the wrapper.

Roll the bottom corner of the wrapper around the dollop of meat and then fold it in half. With the “meat glue” on the corners, you’ll stick the two sides together.

And then fold the two corners under the dumpling.

And Voila! There you have it. We make several at a time and freeze them. Be mindful while you fill them, if you put too much meat inside the wrapper they will crack. To cook them, boil some water, dump in the frozen dumplings and they usually sink to the bottom. Stir ’em around so that they don’t stick… walk away for a bit. And come back when they start floating to the top. Let them boil for a minute more and they are good and ready to eat. You can dip them in sauce… soy, hoisin, or whatever you like. Lately, I’ve been eating them without anything else. They are delicious and my favorite family snack.

Today I am thankful for my father having a good surgery. We have a long night ahead of us… so keep us in your thoughts.

Austria: Where the Hills are Alive

Ok, so maybe it has been too long since my last Austria post… but I wanted to finish up with the last leg of my trip where we stole away to the mountains. This is the Waigrain Region of Mountains in the town of St. Johann im Pongau. It’s better known as a ski resort town but I got to thinking that it would be a shame to be in such a beautiful country, known for it’s lovely mountains, and never actually see any. So we went to see them.

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There is no better time to take ridiculously silly pictures than when you are on a long train ride. So on our way to the mountains we took these… only my bestie can really appreciate how weird I really am and still love me for it. I hope they make you laugh as well.

c/o VLRS

The view. Isn’t it beautiful?!?!  We stayed at the lovely Edelweiss Hotel,  a delicious 4-star (all natural and green) resort. They were incredibly helpful, they picked us up from the train station (free of charge), fed us incredibly well, and were there whenever we needed something. I can’t wait to go back there!!

c/o VLRS

… the spa.

… and a video!

We did actually do some hiking! We were really fortunate because the resort actually had a trail that we could start hiking on — so we didn’t have to take a bus or anything like that to get to the trail head. So that was really nice. The leg out was mostly uphill so it made coming back extra easy. I got this hair brained idea that we should get off the train, take a trail and start hiking immediately and then stay in a farm hut along the trail… and in my head it was going to be beautiful and picturesque and not difficult at all… well let me tell you, I am so happy that we didn’t do it. Staying at a resort was definitely the way to go!!!

Anyone else notice the deer stand?

Gangsta Paradise? It snowed 6 inches the night before we arrived. The day we were hiking, temperatures were in the low 70’s. Needless to say, everything was melting — but we had a good time in the snow while it was there.

I can’t wait to go back. It was so wonderful. Here, I am jumping for joy. I love the mountains. I love the fresh air. I love “getting away from it all”. AND, I love my bestie for agreeing to go anywhere in the world with me… even if that means we have to go hiking…

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Today I am thankful for: it being Friday and getting to see my Dad tonight!! Woohoo!!

Spread the good word.

Austrian NOMS

I cannot say enough for Austrian Cuisine. Although, we really did get caught up in other ethnic foods as well (like Mexican, Indian, and Italian). But I’ll show you these highlights of the trip! Above is the famous Austrian dish: Weiner Schnitzel. If you are as poorly informed as I previously was about the German language; “W”s are pronounced with a “V” sound. So previously, I was say “Weiner” like Weiner Dog – the way we do in the states – but actually it’s pronouced as Veiner as in Victor. Now you know. Weiner Schnitzel’s are yummy. How can you go wrong? It’s fried meat! I had it with roasted rosemary potatoes. For any Mid-Westerners our there, I’m sure this is pulling on your heart strings because the Austrian are Meat and Potatoe’s folk.

The NaschMarkt. Alright foodies, this is your place. The Market runs a few blocks and is organized in two alley ways (so to speak). One side is the actually market, the other side has sit down restaurants. It’s a place where you can buy cheeses, wines, dried fruit, herbs, bread, seafood, meat…etc. It’s a mixture of tourist and locals. I think I could have spent hours here. Here are some finds…

Fresh Juices. Mine was Mango and Kiwi!

Have y’all ever had Macaroons? Oh. My. Goodness — stand back. They might be better than… CAKE. This is a rather large statement coming from me. They are so good. Go find some today.

So, while we were in the mountains, we stayed in this incredible resort. All of their food is organic and bought locally. I’ll tell you more about the hotel later. While we were there, we were served a 5 course meal every night. HEAVEN. The menu descriptions were so interesting. I don’t know if that was the original intent or if there was a strange translation…

[Lower Left] Three kinds of Bruscetta– Tonna, Tomatoes, Parma

Cappuccino of the Curry with Citrus Clouds (This is the best thing I have ever tasted!!)

Crispy and Fresh Salad Plate

[Above] “Dry Aged Beef” – thinly sliced of Sirloin with Marinated Cherry Tomato, Arugula Salad, Spicy Potato Wedges, Shaved Parmesan and old Balsamic Vinegar from Madena

[Lower Right] With Lime — Sour Cream Baked Berries

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Today I am thankful for: goldfish crackers. They squash my hunger cravings!

Vienna, Austria: The Museum of Natural History

Ahhhh, The Museum of Natural History. Unexpectedly, it was my favorite museum in ALL or Austria. Content wise. I must say, I was incredibly disappointed in the two Modern Art Museums that I went to during my visit. While, yes, they did have some “bigger name” artists; I felt as though they had (let’s be honest) some of their crappier work. Again, I digress. This museum was great. And it housed the very first thing I learned about in my Survey of Art History class. The Venus of Willendorf.

Kinda a sex lady, don’t you think? For starters she’s one of the oldest intact artifacts around (but you may want to double check before you really quote me on that)… she is approximately 26,000 years old. DID YOU HEAR THAT? 26,000 years old!!! She’s a fertility goddess with over-exaggerated features. She has her lovely lady-lumps, some big ole birthing hips, and rock-star hair. She doesn’t stand up on her own and doesn’t have facial features. And I think she’s b.e.a.U-tiful. Weird, right? I know. But if you have a love for art history… you get it!

Yep. I’m rather strange. But I was SO excited.

Oh what BIG teeth you have Mr. Scary Bear. There were so many really great animals in the museum. They had a HUMONGOUS whale skeleton in there. I honestly think that I (and a few friends) could lay flat inside of a whales mouth.

The exhibits takes you through evolution, and then goes through all of the major “species”… like fish, birds, reptiles (skip the snakes!!), sea creatures, butterflies, big Huge animals… and the list goes on. I forgot how cool these museums are. EVEN when everything is in German!

This. Was. Great. They had an animated Dinosaur!!!! He moves!! I’m not quite sure why, but I really get a kick out it when the children scream. I kept thinking about the movie Night at the Museum, and how the big dinosaur skeleton asks like a dog — if you click on the video you can see how the dino’s tail wags 🙂 It makes me happy.

Baby elephant on the front steps of the museum. Too cute.

Today I am thankful for: NOT being jetlagged!! Woo hoo. AND a 4 day work week!!