Thursday, April 30, 2009

Walk It Off~

~Walking on the treadmill~

Whether it's inside on a treadmill, or outside in the sun or rain, there is nothing quite like a good, hard, fast walk to clear the cobwebs and get the juices flowing. I attach my pedometer, lace-up and take off. A walk can do wonders to put a new perspective on things and to revisit some of the things that may keep you awake at night. I always feel refreshed, energized and raring to go when I return from a good, long, speedy walk.

Put Your Best Foot Forward and Walk It Off!

Do you take a brisk walk to clear the cobwebs?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lucca, Italy

~The DiSimo Cafe-Lucca~

Some have asked me why Lucca is part of my blog name. Lucca, Italy is a walled village in the Tuscan region of Italy. I have been very fortunate to visit Lucca on three occasions. The first was several years ago after my niece graduated from college. She was spending a month in Europe and my sister and I met her in Nice, France and then headed to Italy. On what was going to be just an over-night in Lucca to meet friends for lunch, we fell hard. It was right in the middle of high summer season in Italy, but we were smitten. So we spent the better part of our vacation in Lucca.

~Via Fillugo, Lucca~

I think perhaps I fell a little harder than my sister and niece, but we all loved it and had an incredible vacation. The people are friendly and helpful, the food and wine amazing, and I felt safe, comfortable and 'at home' there.

Lucca is the birthplace of the composer Puccini and there are signs of his music everywhere.

~The Amphitheater-Lucca~

Two years later my niece found a reasonable flight for us during Christmas and New Years, so off we went again. We rented a lovely apartment right off Via Fillungo, the main 'avenue' inside the wall. It was another wonderful trip. This time we spent a day in Cirque Terra {not nearly enough time}. New Year's Eve in Lucca was a village that came together to celebrate a new start and I have never known a New Year's celebration as festive and full of glee.

Two years after that trip, my dear friend Kathy and I went to Lucca for 12 days. We visited Cinque Terra - again for only one day {not nearly enough time}, we walked, we shopped, we drank good wine, we met interesting people and had the adventure of a lifetime together.

Lucca is a special place. My hope is to plan a vacation in Lucca for my husband and I. That is if I can get him off a river long enough to join me.

If you visit Italy and find yourself in the Tuscan region, make time to visit Lucca. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So Grateful To You~

~ Blue Hydrangea~

~Nikko Blue Hydrangea~

~Endless Summer Hydrangea*~

We are so very grateful to all of you for the kind thoughts and prayers for our sweet Jack Alexander. He will undergo tests this week, and we will hopefully have answers soon.

I had a nice time this past weekend at my cousin's wedding in New York, but Jack was never far from our thoughts. My son changed his plans and naturally wanted to stay very close to home with his wife and our two dear Grandchildren.

When there is something to report I will, but we would appreciate continued prayers for our little guy. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

*We have blue Hydrangea shrubs along the front of our home. They have exceptional years and other seasons they give only a few gorgeous flowers. Two summers ago I stepped outside around 6:00 a.m. to find a man with a camera and tripod set up, taking photos of a particular bountiful display. I was thrilled to let him photographer my Hydrangeas, but never asked for a copy of the photograph!

We're are hoping for another banner year! I will definitely be taking and sharing photographs. For Maine, and other harsh winter climates I recommend the Endless Summer variety. Our Hydrangeas will re-bloom a couple of times during the summer. I encourage you to try this variety- they do not disappoint.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Little Jack

~Jack Alexander~
Our sweet Grandson Jack Alexander is having some serious health issues and we are so worried.
He will be having tests next week -until then we are staying positive and keeping him in our hearts and in our prayers. If you could do the same, it would mean the world to us.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spring Wedding~


On Friday, I will be heading to New York for a spring, weekend wedding.
The weatherman reports warm, sunny days. Just perfect for a special Bride and Groom to celebrate the beginning of their new life together.

I'm looking forward to a family reunion. I will meet my sister, who has been vacationing in Florida at the airport and we will get to our hotel and await the arrival of my niece, her fiancee, and my son. A special adults-only weekend full of family and festivities.

Do you have special plans for a warm, sunny spring weekend?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A closet cleanse~

~Not mine... but I wish!!!~

It has been raining hard all day here. The sound on the metal roof could easily lull you into an afternoon nap. I spent the day organizing my closets and purging things I never wore last winter. I got out the lighter clothes for spring and summer, took stock of what I had, what I could part with and a few basics that I needed {wanted}.

Simplifying my wardrobe was one of the smartest things I ever did. A few years ago, I decided I wanted a basic selection of good quality, time-tested pieces. I pretty much live in jeans, white and chambray shirts for everyday. I have dressier things for when I need to play dress-up. Keeping your wardrobe simple with well-fitted items can take all of the guess work out of that age old problem... "what will I wear". Don't get me wrong-I love clothes and love putting together outfits. A cute jacket here and snazzy top there.

I love shoes~ballet flats mostly. I rarely wear heels, they kill my feet and I'm already tall enough-so why put my toes through that?

I filled three leaf bags of clothing to give to Good Will. Some of those things had been put away for a couple of years, thinking I would once again wear them. NO... if I haven't touched it in two years-out it goes.

Keep it simple, low maintenance, with a good fit, toss in some stylish accents here and there and you're good to go... just about anywhere.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dinner with Friends~

~Brie with caramelized onions~

Getting together with friends you haven't seen in a while is such fun! There is so much to catch up on. You feel so comfortable, sharing stories, wine and delicious dishes, you can't help but wonder why we don't do this more often.

We think back and remember gatherings in the past, laughing about mix-ups in arrival times, or when a new dessert recipe didn't turn out right and we had Sara Lee from the market!

It's a time to catch up on children leaving home for college, a new and promising career move, the launch of a new business or a new child or grandchild on the way.

One of the things that I want to focus on is getting together with friends more often. You don't have to plan weeks in advance, or have your house spotless, or plan everything to a "T". Sometimes the best, the most memorable occasions can be those that are impromptu, spur-of-the-moment.

Plan a simple main dish accompanied by a fresh salad. When you invite friends, don't they almost always ask-"what can we bring"? Don't be shy- remind them of that wonderful peach cobbler they once made and how everyone enjoyed it. There are times to entertain when the we want to do it all, making it a real treat for our guests. But there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Often guests feel flattered by a special request. We are all busy with lives going in all directions. Asking a guest to occasionally bring something special to share can be a compliment.
My husband and I enjoy preparing the complete menu for our friends. Then here are times that I want to enjoy friends, but the "big picture" seems daunting for one reason or another. Those are the times to make a few quick phone calls, and suggest a low-key evening... with a little help.

Do you occasionally ask for a little help from your friends when planning a dinner?

Either way, dinner with friends is still one of my favorite ways to spend an evening.

A Fab Weekend~

~Erin at the beach~

After picking up our little Granddaughter on Thursday, we went to the beach for a little play. We had a quiet evening at home and then on Friday we headed back to the beach. We played baseball, walked on the beach and played in the warm sand.

~Erin the jewelry maker~

On Saturday we made jewelry, went on errands and then off to get her bangs cut...Mimi forgot the camera in the car...cell phone too!

~A romp in the lake~

After dinner on Saturday we went for our evening walk down to the lake. Erin tested the waters and thought that was "really cool"! Mimi thought it was really cool in many ways...

Children don't seem to be bothered by things like icy cold waters-where last weekend there was still a partially frozen lake.

~After a little trim~

Grandparents have the best job of all! When Erin comes to visit, we make no plans. The days are all hers, she gets to decided what we'll do.

* Two visits to the beach
* Plenty of baseball
* Chipping away at the last bit of snow
* Lots of Candy Land
* Making beaded jewelry
* Special dinners at the dining room table
* Meeting new little girlfriends in the neighborhood
* Ice Cream
* Pop-pop's pancakes each morning.
* Shopping for new shoes and clothes.
* Long, bubbly bath-times

By next spring baby brother Jack will be old enough to come for visits! We can't wait to have our darling Grandson join in on the fun! I think Mimi and Pop-pop will need a little vacation after a visit from both Erin and Jack!!!

~Long glorious days with Erin~

We are supremely blessed.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Special Guest~

~Erin Madeline~

~This photo was taken in February, just as Erin was coming down with the flu.~

This is our darling granddaughter Erin. Isn't she wonderful? She will arrive on Thursday for a three night visit with us! We are so excited to have her all to ourselves.
There will be lots of outdoor activities, walks to the lake, art projects, some baking and special story times.
Erin has a baby brother Jack Alexander- who just turned 7 months. We can't wait until he's a little older and can join us for these special visits with Pop-Pop and Mimi.

Do you have a Grandchild or a special young person that comes to visit? What are the adventures that you share with your young friends?

When I was a young girl, I would ride my bike to my Grandparent's house for a weekend visit.
My Grandmother and I would prepare the evening meal for my Gramp and then often we would pack a basket and go to the back field for a picnic.

During those weekends I would brush Gram's hair, polish her fingernails and we always had a baking project. Those are among some of my favorite memories.

We hope to create special memories for Erin and Jack- although, I'm not sure I'm ready for Erin to do my nails...

~We love this photo of Erin~although she was not feeling quite herself-it shows her depth, soulfulness, her mischievousness and her sweet side.~

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Birthday Dinner~

~A little of this~

~and a little of this~

~And a whole lot of this~

Birthdays are meant to be celebrated. A good bottle of wine, a delicious meal and a yummy chocolate dessert!

We lit the candles, put on the new Diana Krall CD ~ Quiet Nights, spoke with long distance family members and enjoyed a Quiet Night all to ourselves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Birthday~

~A Perfect Day~

Today is my husband's birthday. The above photo depicts his perfect day.

Happy Birthday Dear John. My wish for you~ many days such as this. A gentle, quiet river, good friends nearby, a rise, the smell of a distant wood fire, a cool rum and tonic waiting upon your return to the camp, a delicious meal and a peaceful, dreamy sleep.

~Happy Birthday~

Come home early.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A holiday weekend~

A wonderful afternoon of wine, good food and the comfort of family nearby.

Aren't the holidays wonderful?
I hope that your holiday weekend was spent with those that you hold dear.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter~

~Royal Copenhagen~

A Happy, joyful and delicious Easter to all.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Full Moon and a holiday weekend~


Do you celebrate the Easter holiday or Passover? I think the spring holidays are special as it is a wonderful time to bring together family and good friends. Special meals and lively conversation help to bring in a new season. Whatever you do to celebrate the spring season this is a good time to invite friends and family for a special gathering.
Do you have plans for the weekend? A special meal, an Easter egg hunt, putting on a new bonnet and heading out to an Easter parade? I'd love to hear your plans.

~Full, beautiful moon~

This is what greeted me as I left for the gym early Thursday morning. A stunning, full moon.
I had to stop my car and just look at it for a few minutes. Some think a full moon brings on a mood, a little rambunctiousness, perhaps I bit of wildness. I thought it was the most wonderful sight.

Does your mood change with the full moon? Do you feel like kicking up your heels and getting slightly crazy?

Whatever your plans for this weekend, I hope it's filled with fun, fab food, chocolate Easter eggs and perhaps a parade.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Radishes~

~Cherry Belle~

~French Breakfast~

~Lovely Radish Bouquet~

I love radishes! I have always loved radishes. I think it started back in the third grade when our teacher gave us seed and we were sent home to plant them. My radish seedlings erupted in less than three days and I was a self-proclaimed gardener right then and there!

There are many delicious varieties of radishes. There is the common Cherry Belle. That's the round variety that you commonly see at the grocer, extra early, so very rewarding. Then there is White Icicle- a long white radish with a strong and exciting taste.

My favorite is the French Breakfast. You can find this variety at the farmer's markets and every once in a while at your local grocer. When you're lucky enough to spot these, grab them! Dipped in sea salt or gray salt, accompanied by a crispy baguette and a spread of soft creamy butter- it's a meal!

I enjoy a little Pinot Grigio with my radishes, followed by a square of rich, dark chocolate.

A bouquet of spring radishes with a little loaf of good bread, some salt and a glass of fine white wine would rival about any chocolate bunny. Well, maybe a little square of dark chocolate would be nice......

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rainy Days Here... and There.

Via Fillungo~Lucca, Italy

I am enjoying these rainy days... really, what else can we do? Stay inside, organize cupboards and drawers. Go through recipes that have been clipped all winter long, what to save and what to toss. These days I'm remembering an evening in Lucca, Italy. I had, along with my sister and my niece, stepped outside of our hotel and it was raining. A warm and gentle rain. Not what we wanted for our stay in this ancient walled village, but we were there and a little rain wasn't going to spoil our parade. We stepped out onto Via Fillungo-one of the main streets in Lucca- the one that houses the really great shops and cafes. As we walked, heading to our trattoria of choice for our evening meal, the rains came and there in front of us dozens of colorful umbrellas opened wide, shielding the passers-by of the drizzle. Unfortunately the camera I was using at the time did not cooperate for this magical photo. There were umbrellas everywhere- dozens of them in all colors!

I couldn't help but remember that evening on this rainy day and decided a walk with my umbrella would help me to embrace and consider all that a good rainy day can bring. I walked with a slow pace remembering that evening; the anticipation of arriving at our destination, sipping rich, red wine and ordering whatever the special was of the evening. It reminded me to slow down, to enjoy the rainy days as well as the warm, sunny days, for each one holds its own special story. A sunny day can invite us outside to dig among the winter debris to see if spring has brought us some new growth. A rainy day beckons a walk along a gravel road and warm thoughts of spring to follow.

Are you experiencing rainy, spring weather? What do you do to "embrace" it???

Image~ Via Fillungo-Lucca, Italy {dkimages}

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

When Life Gives You Rainy Days... clean house!

We awoke to a beautiful, sunny, bird chirping sort of day. By mid-morning it was cool, gray and drizzly. So, when you're hoping for a nice, warm, sunny day and you get just the opposite- what do you do??? Get out the mop and start the "spring-cleaning"...

I think by getting these chores done on a gray day like this, it will make those warmer, sunny days ahead that much sweeter.

I lifted all of the windows, and got to it!

What do you do on these early spring days when you are just itching to get outside and Mother nature has other plans?

Image~ Eco~maids

Monday, April 6, 2009

April showers~

~This Old House image~

The saying goes- "April showers bring May flowers"... So we are hoping that this May will bring
an abundance of spring flowering plants, budded trees and some lovely flowering bulbs our way.

Here in the northeast we have had our fair share of rainy days and evenings. We always hope that this will contribute to a quick greening of the lawns and perhaps the flowering bulbs will appear a little earlier. We are ever so hopeful.

After several days of rain, it is such a beautiful sight to look at the hills and see a light haze of fresh, green buds on the trees. The Robins have started singing their early morning wake-up calls and there is definitely a warmth to the breeze coming in off the lake across the road.

The pups out for casual walk stand still with their noses upright toward the sky- still and silent. They certainly sense the change and are eager to spend more time outside - sniffing out the new growth of spring. I think she is near~ perhaps just around the corner.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Praying for Binghamton, NY

Praying for Binghamton, New York

Friday, April 3, 2009

Things that mean Happy.

A walk on a quiet beach~

Stems of fresh Freesia...

Homemade onion soup...

Maybe just a little more onion soup for comfort...

A hot cappuccino shared with someone special.


I hope that your weekend is filled with all that means Happy for you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Food Day

Do you know that...
One in eight Americans are at risk for hunger?
Four million Americans receive assistance from Feeding America each week?
Children who are hungry have slower emotional, social and educational development?
Millions of elderly Americans go to bed hungry every night?

Please help~

Every dollar contributed provides 7 meals or 10 pounds of food. A $25.00 gift provides 75 meals.

During these difficult times of lay-offs and downsizing there just isn't enough to cover the essentials for some families.

Please visit Feeding America- and make whatever contribution possible. Let's count our blessings and help our neighbors.
For more information please visit HERE.
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