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Saturday: Gelato Making Class & Food Crawl Rome Tour

How can I sleep in? I’m in Rome, Italy! Impossible. So, first thing I do is open up the window to see what the view is like.

I have to admit, I am two days behind with this blog, but so far, I HAVE to open up all the windows every morning to view the Colosseum. Sad, yes sad, that this section has to be covered by scaffolding, but oh well! It’s amazing! It’s unbelievable! The Colosseum within eye sight! Pictures just do not do justice! Must see to believe!

Also from my window, I have a great view of this colorful fruit stand out in the street!

Then, I open the kitchen window and this is what I see. The old brick building that I assumed was abandoned must be a monastery; or something. Snap! Got them coming down the hill!


Now, it’s time for an espresso! How does this work? Took me a while to figure it out, but it’s cool. Actually, I thought it automatically shuts off… NOPE! A little overflow, but got the hang of it.


We are taking our time still trying to adjust to time change; six hours ahead. Dana has me go out and find a grocery store and buy eggs, butter, bread, milk and juice. Really? By myself… fine! If I get mugged for eggs, I’m gonna be mad. So, we have a nice breakfast.

We take our time as we prepare for our first tour! Gelato Making Class which starts at 15:30 (3:30 p.m.). We get a head start and take some great shots of the Colosseum and surrounding structures and sculptures! And we are awed!!!





Being in the presence of these structures is amazingly surreal. It boggles our minds to think that centuries ago, these were wonders of the world; an ancient world totally out of the picture besides these ruins. Words cannot express. Enough of that… Unfortunately, you will be seeing more and more pics of these in future blogs. Yep! Sorry!

So, off to our first event in Italy:









“Is he taking a picture of us? I think he is! Tell the others, I need to finish my story with Isabella!”


“Sophia, don’t look! Understand? Just look at me… but I think that Italian; well, he looks Italian… Nahhhh, he’s too tiny to be Italian. I don’t know, but I think he is taking a picture of us!”


Pics on the way home from an awesome Roman Tour of Food!




Barfando on the way to Italy!

Oh, my! Once again I don’t do well on planes, trains, busses or automobiles, when I don’t drive. I didn’t sleep well. I ate good. I had no desire to mix a small drink; although I had a glass of wine for dinner on the plane.

As the plane was descending, I could feel it. Where is a barf bag? No where to be seen. Dana, I need a bag. Do you have one? Oh, thank goodness. I just wanted to be off the plane… NOW!!!! Dana looked at me and said I turned green. I felt green, a puky green! This just killed my desire to walk around Heathrow, London, airport.

It was truly a sight to see. Amazing culture and mixture of people from all over the world. AMAZING! But, just find me a bench or something so I can crash and sleep this crappy feeling away. I brought with me about 50 tracts with intentions of going people to people, handing all 50 of them away. I even hung my little name tag on the “Turtle” back pack! I wanted nothing to do with people, with eating, with drinking, with talking.. nothing. I felt horrible.

Our layover was about 8 hours; took about 3 naps. Was feeling a little better. We ate at a restaurant and got a hamburger and a little ginger ale hoping that the ale would cure me a little.

Nope! No bourbon with my ginger ale!! Not feeling it!! But, I was feeling better. Got on the plane heading to Rome, Italy from London and the plane was full of Italianos! It was great listening to the beautiful language.

We arrived at about 8:00 p.m. Went through customs in just a matter of minutes… he just took a look at us and sent us through. Wow! That easy? Yep!

Dana went on a search for an ATM machine to obtain Euros while I’m waiting for luggage to come through the conveyor system. Success! Now, let’s look for our ride.

I was looking for a person with the sign reading “Pompei Rentals Rome”. There were many drivers holding signs and I’m looking for the above notation. Nope not that one. Nope. No, not that one either. Then in faint writing, “Fernando Gomez”, no! I pass him up. Go on… and then, WAIT!!!! Did that just have my name? Sure enough! And, how happy were were!! Buon giorno!!! His name is Francesco! A very nice gentleman!!
So, off to our apartment we go! I was afraid I was not going to handle the drive, but he did alright and I had no problems being a passenger rider. Whew!!!

We were greeting by two young Italian men who work for a rental agency; they showed us around the apartment, gave us some instructions, and we were thrilled to be “home”! Very adorable apartment! Pics of the apartment will come later.

Afterward, we freshen’ up a little, and start looking for gelato and a bottle of wine to “wind down” from the hectic air travels. Interesting neighborhood, very cautious and observant while walking around. We also discovered how close we are to the Colosseum We didn’t stay out long at all because so exhausted.

A little wine and crashed to sleep!

Italy – Starting Today: September 18, 2014

Unbelievable the day has arrived! And we are finished packing at 11:20 a.m.!! Shocker. So we are having a late breakfast early lunch before Bonnie and Cassandra arrive at 12:00 p.m.

Dana, strike a pose!! Luggages are all packed. So, let’s go!!!

Bonnie and Cassandra arrive at 11:45 a.m. WHAT??? They’re early! GREAT! Getting excited! “12:02 p.m,” Bonnie reminds us. “Okay, okay!” 🙂 We are all excited. We’re heading to Italy. Bonnie and Cassandra will enjoy a couple of days bonding in Chicago!

Say a prayer, and let’s go!!! Bonnie let’s me drive her car. YES! Thank you!


We arrived safely at O’hare! We get dumped off… I mean, literally, “Get out of my car! Bye, bye, hug, hug, kiss, kiss!” Complaints? None at all. We’re early, sit down, get our stuff together, passports, e-tickets, and Dana finds her pills… whew! We preserve our little bottles of bourbons in plastic baggies. “Okay! Ready?” “Yes!” “Let’s go!”


Made it to the other side, luggages are checked in. Dana exclaims, “AHHHHH! My bag weighs less than yours! Hahahaaaa!” I reply like a madman, “Ummmm, you put all your hair products in my bag! Bahahahaaaaaa!”

As we sit on the side lines watching the flight attendants aboard the plane going to London Heathrow Airport, we noticed all of them are bleach blond skinny ladies! “My love, what would you like to drink?” as she inquires in her British accent on the 747, 757, or 787; whatever, it’s huge!

How nice to now relax on Virgin Atlantic flying to London, England; as I listen to Moth Podcast on my Ipod. Look at the person in green in the background, “Hey! Look the other way!” Argh!!!! Great shot of the kid snoring away!


Look at our English meal! Oh, we had a lengthy fun conversation with Bonnie about the English meals and couldn’t help recall the ingredients of them!!! It was quite tasty, we have to admit!


I just want the flight attendants to continually converse with us just to hear their British accent! My favorite line as she approached each row, “Rubbish?” I smile with a response, “Rubbish? No, no, my love, it’s GARBAGE!” Hahahaaaa! After a nice meal, time to sleep! Well, I can’t sleep yet, but Dana can… Oh, she’s gonna kill me. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!


Okay, dear friends and family! Time to rubbish… oh, I mean publish this posting! When I wake up, we will be in London. Love you all so dearly!

This is what I have been doing…

Happy End of Spring and Beginning of Summer to all!

Thank goodness I chalk paint for pleasure/hobby and not for a business because it would make zero money. 😀 I have been focusing most of my time on container gardening for my deck and porch as well as within the confines of our condominium landscape, which can become a sticky subject considering its bylaws and rules. Fortunately, the Board has allowed the residence to plant but only annuals and require approval for bushes and perennials. So, I mega plant with annuals and in containers. I think I am finally finished with planting. I took pics of every container that I put together with some containers that I have maintained over the years. Now I’m curious about how many containers I planted. So, at the end of this blog, I will reveal the quantity of containers of which you may think, “He has ‘grown’ mad (pun intended)!” Wait a minute! I think I used a similar expression, “gone mad”, when I first discovered ASCP.

C’mon! Stop scrolling ahead.. you must read and scroll this blog progressively. Alright, yes, I must admit my crime: I rapidly scroll through your blog because all I really want to see are your before and after pictures. Lesson learned: I will make a concerted effort to “read” blogs and not just scroll.

Unfortunately, we have become visual; for example, movies, theaters, DVDs now Blue Rays, TVs, internet, cell phones, iPads, Netflix, Hulu, etc. There is nothing wrong with that. But, what happened to grasping a book and reading it? There is no describable sensation to the fingertips, dampening the index fingerprint in order to advance the pages of a good book.

Speaking of books, I am hooked on “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Never read it before until my cousin bought it as a gift for me. Motivated, started reading it, and discovered that I love it and await each day to pick up from where I left off! Initially, a little confused of who is who; but, now I’m up-to-par and with using practically all five senses, I can “visualize” and “imagine” the characters and the ever constant changing scenes and conversations. AMAZING! That is a sign of a good book! After the Bible, of course, this is an excellent book. All must add it to their collection and read it, young and old. I just finished Part 1, decided to take a break, finish this long exhausting blog with many pics, and eat breakfast.

By the way, I’m camping right now so I’m in my awesome, spacious Coleman tent in the middle of the woods, tent screens on sides and roof wide open facing a small lake while sun peeking through liberated spaces of upright, elegant, and luscious oak trees. Oh, how relaxing! There is a lonely old man in his canoe fishing. No motorized boats are allowed on this lake. I can hear the swish of his fishing pole line while the weight and hook “kerrrplunk” plunges deep into the lake awaiting for the big catch. Can’t wait to begin Part 2 of my book!

Whoa! Did I get distracted? It’s so easy to do! Before I show you my “mad” gardening obsession, let me at least post a couple of pictures of the most recent fun ASCP project I completed. I found this metal typewriter table at a Goodwill that required a little repair work and rust removal.


So, since we have a little orange in our home decor, I decided to use ASCP Barcelona orange with dark wax only. And, here is how it turned out. Very pleased!


This was fun. I keep forgetting how much fun it is to chalk paint. And, then agonizing on the next step, applying wax. I again forget how amazing dark or clear wax can still transform a piece of furniture or anything. It was so cool to see the dark wax imbed into the grooves of the paint brush strokes which gives it dimension. AMAZING!

Ok, ok! Now for the next topic: planting. Here goes my madness:

A few flats of flowers ready to be transferred to containers. This is just a drop in the bucket.



The above pics are two Jasmine (tropical) plants with tiny white fragrant flowers. Oh, the fragrant is amazing! I planted the smaller Jasmine in the cement container with other silver and white annuals. The bigger Jasmine I planted in a tall square clay container.

Container full of Basil for salads with a dill plant that snuck in there… yummm!
The two succulents were extra and I have to still figure where to plant those. So, I guess I’m really not finished with planting. Are gardeners ever finished?

The above container has dill and mint with white salvia thrown in.

Another herb container with thyme and oregano. One of my neighbors gave me a portion of her chives, which is huge. I still have to plant it. My list is getting longer. SHOOT!

Parsley, chives, and rosemary herbs in this container.



The above pics are three containers of succulents. Last year I planted three succulents in each container. These containers came from my sister-in-law, Holly. Love you, Holly; and I can’t thank you enough for the containers! These are awesome containers. Anyway, it is unpredictable if succulents can adapt to a new environment from outside to inside and season changes. A few survived over the winter, but I had to purchase more succulents to fill in the spaces. You can definitely pick out which three succulents (one in each container) survived from last year. They grew HUGE.

I found this yellow chair at a garage sale $5.00. Love this purple plant which goes well with the yellow chair. This plant originally came from my mother-in-law given to me years ago. Love you! In the fall, this plant goes in my garage only to watch it slowly fade away. I do nothing to it. Then, I bring it out when it warms up and thrives under my porch.


Two rosemary topiaries that go perfect in these pots that I forgot I had in attic for years! What a great find! Oh, if you noticed, I chalk painted the candle holders. And, the table is also chalk painted with ASCP Duck Egg Blue and Old white. My next blog I will provide before and after pics.

Yeah, yeah…. This is not a plant. I bought the 15-gallon tub at Ace Hardware, a small water pump at Lowes, and threw in stones from my landscape. Now, I have a water feature in front porch. I still have to rearrange the stones and buy a couple of small water plants. Then, I am going to put some small goldfish in it. Very soothing/relaxing to listen to the trickle of water.

As if I cannot get enough of water. I made another water feature for the back landscape. I made this one first. I found this awesome huge square ceramic/clay pot at Menards, plugged the drainage holes, filled it with water, and placed rocks in it, too. Now I can either sit in the front porch or back deck and hear water. We leave all the windows open during the summer and love to hear the water. AWESOME!




20130616-195915.jpgI decided to plant four boxwoods in my clay containers, one on each corner of porch. Each year I struggle to decide what to plant in these containers… and lo and behold, this year: Boxwoods. These will look nice under my porch during wintertime.

The two square containers (one above and one below) contain a magenta-colored butterfly bush with some white salvia and white and silver plants, too. These planters were gifted to me from Pete and Kristi years years years ago and always fun to bring out and display.


I had to find Lavender and plant in this galvanized pail. Awaiting to see the blooms.


If I were to label each photo, I would never be able to post this blog. So, the following pics are more zinnias… this time I found Lilliput zinnias which are a little bit smaller flower compared to the Thumbelina zinnias. I filled up containers and containers of zinnias, blue salvia, petunias that were gifted to me (I was never fond of them, but decided… what the heck! I’ll find a spot for them), vincas, daisies (I’m drawing a blank on the particular species but years ago, Holly gave some to me and fell in love with them. They were hard to find.).








20130616-200621.jpgThis Lantana with yellow flowers that turns white… AMAZING with Creeping Jenny. I decided the three cemented pots which are new this year, I am going to plant white and silver flowers/plants and the surrounding containers and landscape will be vibrant colors. With the exception of the Lantana that starts out yellow, but couldn’t pass this one up.




For years, I always purchase fuchsias and hang under my crabapple tree. Hummingbirds love them, and they are beautiful! Now, let’s take a tour to the deck:






So, every year I set out six 36″ cedar planters and place them on top of the deck railing which give awesome privacy and beauty. This year I planted 2 Dragon Wing Begonias, 2 Sweet Potato vines, a trailing coleus, Thumbelina Zinnias (I picked the wrong species, I wanted the Lilliput zinnias because the flowers are a little smaller and daintier; but, I’m kinda liking the little bit bigger size zinnia for these planters). I did end up buying flat of Lilliput zinnias (as mentioned previously) and used them in the landscape and other clay pot containers. I have an addiction to zinnias. Ok, back to the cedar planters, I planted one creeping jenny in the middle of each planter, and next to it, I selected a different colored coleus.



Usually I also struggle about what to plant in these large containers. Well, this year it was no problem. I had so much left over from flats, I’m going to combine these annuals and enjoy color. Plus, I can pick for vases if I so desire.




Oh, and one more container… These galvanized wash tub was a great find in Dad and mom’s barn. Guess what flower? Yep, zinnias. These are the extra large tall zinnias with huge flowers soon to bloom:

I just counted a total of 52 containers. Is that nuts?!?

Okay… just for the thrill of it. I’m going to post some recent pictures of “my blooms” in my landscape, so you can scroll down…









Enjoy your summer! Until next posting…

How Many Kinds Of Tables Can You List?

Here is a list: Bedside table, drawing table, gateleg table, coffee table, chess table, refectory table, dining table, Loo table, pembroke table, sofa table, work table, drum table, billiard table, table tennis table, poker table, and lastly, end table, which is what I will now show you:

20130514-192511.jpg This “End Table” definitely needs some TLC. Interestingly it also has a nice little “Pull-Out Table” that looks like this:

Where did the word table come from, you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia: “The term “table” is derived from a merger of French table and Old English tabele, ultimately from the Latin word tabula, “a board, plank, flat top piece”. In Late Latin, tabula took over the meaning previously reserved to mensa (preserved in Spanish and Portuguese mesa “table”). In Old English, the word was bord, replaced by “table” for this meaning.[3]”
Ok, number 1: I deserve no credit for the above research; and number 2: I get full credit for my “End Table” and the work put in it, thanks to Annie Sloan. So, getting back to reality, I decided to do this table with Duck Egg Blue and Coco, which I love the two together!. The following is progress:




I decided to look for different knob and found the perfect one. I also decided to distress the piece a little. So, here is the end result:




Coincidentally, the knob is exact color as the little bird. Hope you enjoyed the pic of our little Pom, too, named GG.

Chalk Painting is for the Birds!

I thought this was a small and fun experimental project. I had this metal bird feeder for a long time and color has faded through the years of outdoor elements such as sun, snow, sleet, rain, squirrels and birds. I love the cute metal roof with a little rust that makes it rustic-looking.


So, I decided to go with ASCP Emperor’s Silk, and then I painted the windows and doors with ASCP Old Violet. I used a clear matted-finish metal protectant spray I found at local hardware which was perfect. Didn’t change the colors. Didn’t take long to complete, hung it up, and today I will fill with birdseed. Yes, chalk painting can be for the birds!




Help!!! Calling for Help!

Ok, I’m in a dilemma. I got this cool twin-size headboard from a Craigslist seller. This is what it looks like when I got it:

I saw on pinterest that another chalk painter had a similar headboard and this person dry brushed the decorate curves in the headboard but I’m not sure I like it. First let me show you the board that I did in Coco. Love that color!

Here is a close up of the scroll work done in Old Ochre:

Now, here is the question, should I:

A. DRY BRUSH the scroll piece?



Either examples are not perfect. I’m not happy with how it turned out; therefore, I am going to repaint it with Coco and redo it…

Please, please, please let me read your suggestions/techniques/comments.

Lastly, I have to throw in a pic of one of my blooms… This is a tulip, and the only tulip, that popped out of no where in my landscape: Tulip Festival next week in Holland, MI. 😀