Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Meatball!

Today Meatball is six years old! He brings great joy to my life.
Happy Birthday, Meatball!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

How I Pack...And New Luggage

      I have learned over the years to pack light whenever possible. In part, because it’s no fun to drag tons of luggage, and also because the airlines have lost my luggage too many times. One time I flew to Pisa, Italy and my luggage got stuck in Paris, France. I didn’t see it for FOUR days! I was even more upset when they lost it again on the flight home. Let's just say I had a not so nice conversation with the airline. 
     Now, if I’m only going on a casual trip for just a few days, I usually just take a carry-on bag and a purse. This works well for me.
     It also works if I’m going on a trip to Europe, if I’m staying in the same place for the entire trip. If that’s the case, I usually rent a short-term apartment with a washing machine, which means I don’t need to bring many clothes. The only problem is that I tend to do a lot of shopping in Europe, so I need to buy a cheap piece of luggage to get everything home. This isn’t a big deal because I can always find something decent for about 20-25 euro, and on most international flights the first checked bag is free. It’s a lot cheaper than shipping charges and it gets home at the same I do. Afterward, I can donate the cheap luggage to the Salvation Army.
     The only time I plan to check luggage is if I’m going on a trip where I need formal clothing or a long trip where I’ll be in a hotel (or cruise) without a washing machine. In the last few months I purchased a few new luggage items for this purpose. I have plenty of pieces, but I really wanted to try the 4-wheeled luggage. I’ve been watching people glide effortlessly through the airports with this luggage. They are standing straight and don’t seem to be carrying any of the weight of their luggage. What a GREAT idea! I need to get in on this!
     I did some research and finally purchased two pieces of TravelPro Crew 9. I bought a 25” Spinner and a Rolling Tote. They are lightweight, have ergonomic handles, and are one of the very few brands to have replacement wheels. There is a newer Crew 10 model, but I chose the Crew 9 because I saw few differences, I liked the suit carrier better on the Crew 9, and it came with a nice discount because it’s no longer the new model.
 
     I’m looking forward to using the Rolling Tote. It’s a little smaller than a regular carry-on, so I doubt I’ll be asked to have it gate-checked, but it seems to be very roomy. The top has zipper/snap hinges, so I don’t have to completely open it unless necessary. The top has a padded compartment for my iPad mini and the outside has two zipped compartments. One for easy access to any paper documents and/or magazines and the other for reading glasses, pens, snacks, or any other kind of small carry-on item that tends to get lost just when you need it most. It also fits right on top of the larger piece, so I'll really only be rolling one piece of luggage. Sounds like a WINNER to me!
 
     These are my rules for packing and my newest luggage pieces. I certainly don’t know everything, and I’m always looking for great ideas. How do you pack and what do you pack it in? I’d love to hear about it.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My New Vacation Tech Gadget

I’m always looking for a better way to store pictures, journal about my day, blog, and surf the internet while on vacation. I use to drag along a Sony VAIO laptop, but it was heavy. Next I went to a Netbook, but the functionality was very limited. Then the iPad was introduced and I was in love. My newest tech gadget is the Apple iPad mini with Retina display.

Here are the things I love about my iPad mini…
1.     It has a 7.9 inch screen, which is large enough for my eyes to see without my reading glasses.
2.     The battery lasts for about 10 hours, which is GREAT for long flights.
3.     I can download books to read on those long flights, and the size is very comfortable to hold for a long time while reading.
4.     It takes pictures and movies, so I don’t have to drag around a camera. If I choose to take pictures with my camera, I can transfer them to my iPad to view in a decent size.
5.     There are all kind of apps, so I can play games, use maps, check the weather, play my music, get currency conversions, etc. Everything I might need to do on vacation is at my fingertips.
6.      I can journal my days, so I remember the details of my vacation.
7.      With the internet connection I can post to Facebook and my blog.
8.      I can buy advance tickets to museums, so I can skip the long lines.
I can do all these things AND it only weighs .75 pounds…and IT FITS IN MY PURSE!
What’s your favorite vacation tech gadget?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Italian Comfort Food

What do you cook when you need something quick and easy, yet filling and tasty? In my home we make Gramigna con Salsiccia. It’s the perfect Italian comfort food.

 
½ lb. pasta (any kind with grooves so the sauce will stick to it)
¾ lb. Italian sausage
1/3 c. white wine (why not buy a nice bottle and drink the rest with dinner?)
2 T. butter
¼ onion, sliced thin
1/3 c. heavy cream
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
 
1.       Saute the onion in butter.
2.       Add ground sausage to the onion and cook for a few minutes, until almost done.
3.       Add the wine, (you can drink a little) and continue to cook until it has evaporated. This will take 3 or 4 minutes.
4.       Add the cream and heat on low for 1 minute, just until it’s warm.
5.       Finally, you can drain the pasta and mix it in with the sauce. Add the cheese and toss.
Now, just grab a nice loaf of warm Italian bread and your wine.
Buon Appetito!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Which Furla Bag Should I Bring Home?

When I return to Bologna I plan to purchase a Furla handbag…I just can’t decide which one I want. Furla is an Italian company that makes beautiful bags. I’ve drooled over them several times, but never actually bought one. This time I’m bringing one home with me!
The plan is to buy a black bag that can be used on a daily basis. My life is pretty casual, so here are pictures of the bags that would work well for me. I like bags that I can sling over my shoulder, but it isn’t a requirement.






 

What do you think? Which one should I choose?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Back To Bologna

     In a few weeks I'll be headed back to Bologna, one of my FAVORITE Italian cities. Bologna is the kind of place I could live...when I'm there I feel at home and I don't want to ever leave. The people are warm and friendly, the food is good, and there aren't many tourists.
     Did I mention the food? The food is fabulous! The picture on the banner of this blog is Tagliatelle Bolognese that I learned to make at CIBO in Bologna...very tasty!
     Here is a picture of a typical shop in Bologna...doesn't it look inviting?

     This trip I'll be attending an Italian language school. I've spent enough time in Italy that I think it's about time I learned the language. I know bits and pieces, but I'm hopeful that Cultura Italiana will help improve my skills.
     Maybe I'll also get to attend a truffle festival, or maybe an antique market. There is so much to see and do in and around Bologna, and it's fall...my favorite time of year.
     I'll be blogging from Italy, so please check in.
     Have you ever been to Bologna?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

It's Too Early To Think About Christmas, But...

I know it's too early to think about Christmas, but North Pole City is open for the season so Marc and I just had to take a look at all the new Christopher Radko ornaments. We made a pact to just look and not buy. The idea was to drool over them and come back in November when we've had a chance to decide which two we wanted for this year.
An hour later the pact was broken and we purchased FOUR new ornaments! I guess we should've left our wallets at home...clearly, we can't be trusted. The Christmas tree doesn't go up until after the turkey has been eaten on Thanksgiving Day, so I guess we'll just store them until then.




Are you thinking about Christmas yet? Do you have any special Christmas decorations that you collect?