Roma Roamings- day 2

Since we had done ancient Rome the previous day, on Tuesday we arose early and headed for St. Peter’s square, venturing thru the Metro system to get there. But, even with the metro, there was a fair amount of walking to do…..

There was already a crowd when we arrived, but nothing compared to the line when we were leaving!! One of the big purposes of the morning was to climb the steps of the Cupola and see Rome from the top. This is the third time in our lives that we have done this, but it was just as much fun as the times before.

Naturally, we could not deign to take the Lift so climbed the ENTIRE 520 steps to the top. The steps vary as you go higher. At the bottom the curve is gentle and the steps are wide….

…but as you go higher, the walls start to curve inwards…..

….but as you near the top, the steps become MUCH narrower until you are walking in a very tight circle. It was good to surface into the fresh air of the morning!!

I loved being able to look down into this “secret” garden…..

We took the requisite selfie….

….although our kids both thought that this photo looked like we were in jail!! And, then they expressed the view that they weren’t surprised!!!

The return to ground level was just as curvy but definitely easier……

We entered the main sanctuary and spent a few minutes enjoying the ambiance. I couldn’t get anywhere close to Michaelangelo’s Pietà, but the zoom on the camera lens certainly made it easier to get a good photo. When we first visited this back in 1997 you could walk right up to it but, for security reasons, it has been encased in a glass chamber.

I often grow tired of looking at endless sculptures of unknown people, so I start looking for interesting tidbits along the way. I loved the details of this book and hand marking it’s spot…..

And, as always, I am on the lookout for quilt ideas. Wouldn’t it be fun to do something with all of these arches…..

I can imagine spending hours trying to get the perspective just right!!!

I have always loved the brilliant colors of the Vatican guards…..

I imagine that he could take me out with that spear if I dared to cross the threshold that he is guarding!!

The last few photos were in the courtyard in front of the church. I have always loved these fountains and am especially happy with how the new lens caught the water….

Here are a few more from the photo shoot….

Don’t you love the blueness of the sky!!! And the clarity of this zoomed-in view….

One last shot……

…..and we were off in search of donuts….you heard me right!! When we were here with our kids back in 1997, we were told to arrive at the church early to be one of the first ones in. Being the “Early Bird Arnold’s”, we arrived TOO early and had to find some way to pass the time. The answer came in the form of GIANT, sugar sprinkled donuts!! We found them again back in 2010 and definitely needed them to complete this trip. And we found them…..

YUM!!!!

We now headed for the Capoteline Museum, next to the Roman forum…..

For some reason, I cant get enough of these columns!!!

Again, I didn’t take lots of photos of the statues but looked for interesting bits…. such as this stylish hairdo…..

….or the use of colored marble to create a drape…..

So much fluidity created from stone!!!

I loved the delicate nature of the music instrument that this woman was holding…..

We both looked at this sculpture and wondered if she was blowing up an air mattress???

We returned to the hotel for a brief rest and to change shoes (always necessary after long walks) and then headed back to OVS….that’s right….more shopping. We had to return one pair of pants and ended up buying a few more items while we were there!! This store was close to our local restaurant so we returned for a very late lunch. The meal was wonderful but the highlight was the Bruschetta……

We returned to the hotel, only venturing out for Gelato at the end of the day.

Thus ends our two day, whirlwind tour of Rome. We both feel a bit like this…..

To end this portion of the trip, let me say a bit about the sadness of today’s culture. Each time that we have visited… 22 years ago, 9 years ago and now… there have been increasing needs for security and we have seen how the implementation of those measures have marred and detracted from the purity of the sights. It is a shame….

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Rome in a Day…. or two!!

Nine years ago we spent two months in Italy with Michael working all over the country. The entire month of September was in Rome while Michael worked at the University here. The Rome portion of the trip is blogged about starting here……

Because we had spent so much time sightseeing back then, we really just wanted to hit the highlights during our 2 days. And the first highlight was a clothing store…..yes you heard me right….. not the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum or the Roman Forum…..a plain old clothes shop!!! When we were here previously, I had found a wonderful store called “OVS” and they had amazing prices on men’s clothing. We had bought Michael several pairs of pants that have just now worn out after 9 years, several long sleeve shirts that lasted forever, a sports coat and some other items. So our first Google Map trip was to OVS, and we came out with more clothes to add to our suitcases!!! I did have the thought that since OVS is a national chain, they probably exist in Naples as well so we may visit one there and buy more good bargains at the END of our trip rather than having to carry them for the next four weeks!!!

Our next plan for the day was to visit the neighborhood where we had lived and to eat at the Trattoria that we had frequented. We found it easily, although about halfway thru the walk, I realized that I had not replaced the memory card in the camera, but a quick Google Map search for Electronics…….

…… allowed that problem to be quickly fixed.

We arrived at the restaurant, took a few selfies to send to friends that had eaten there with us previously……

…and enjoyed our meal. Personally, I LOVE a Margherita Pizza and a cold mug of Peroni beer…..

Fully sated, we turned our minds to seeing the actual sights of Rome, starting with the Trevi Fountain……which was closed for repairs, although I did get a nice shot of the statuary….

Next we made our way toward the Pantheon….stopping for Espresso on the way!! I love the shadows that form on these walls and would love to use it as a quilt design sometime…..

There was a War Memorial presentation going on in the building, and I was drawn to this older gentleman standing rigidly beside the memorial…..

I had to wonder exactly what his memories were of!!

One of the joys of this trip is being able to play with the new camera lens and I was happy to see how clear these photos were…..

We were ready to head back to the hotel and started searching for a nearby Metro station and found that the closest was in Spagna….okay….let’s see the Spanish steps while we are here…..

Interestingly, they have now made it illegal to sit on the steps and there was a policeman (with a whistle) making sure that the rules were followed. It did mean that the steps were much less crowded and you could actually get a photo sans people…..

I LOVE the perspective in this shot.

After cooling off (and napping) for about half an hour, we were ready to explore Rome some more, heading this time to the Colosseum. We had no desire to enter which was a good thing since the line was WAY long. I have long been enamored with the curve of this mammoth building and enjoyed taking a few photos as we walked…..

I have also had “quiltish” notions about these windows and arches ….

One final photo…..

….and we were on to the Roman Forum…..

The sun was in a really bad spot but I was happy with how the photos turned out anyway.

And before we knew it, we had walked to the forum containing Trajan’s Column….

I love the twin churches that flank the column and actually have a blown up photo version of the cupola hanging in our bedroom at home.

It was time to head back for the night, but one last photo of the funky, funky pine trees….

Okay….so today we hit the Roman ruin side of things….tomorrow it is Vatican City!!

To Rome and back again…..

On Saturday we began our journey to spend a month in Europe with Michael working (teaching short courses) and me enjoying some sightseeing. I definitely have the better side of this deal!!

The flight from Atlanta to Rome was super easy and we both managed to sleep for a good portion of the trip. Our flight crew was magnificent….they were funny and sweet and very helpful. That always makes a trip easier.

Because Michael’s travel is being paid by the university in Naples, we had to book tickets to Naples, even though it was not our first stop of the trip. Our plan had been to fly to Naples and then take a train back to Rome.

While we were on the plane to Rome, we started wondering whether or not we could get our bags in Rome and not have to fly the second leg of the trip. The attendants worked hard to make it happen but unfortunately it would have meant that the return portion of our trip would have been cancelled as well and we couldn’t let that happen.

So, while we were standing in the Rome airport, waiting to board our flight to Naples, we started thinking thru the complications that could arise as we found a bus or taxi to take us from the Napoli airport to the Napoli Train Termini, book a train trip to Rome and then made that trip. (I think that we are a bit shy about train trips since our fiasco in China last year).

Suddenly, Michael looked at me and said “why don’t we just book another plane flight back to Rome”!! DUH….. That way we don’t have to leave the airport!! So, as we stood waiting to board the flight from Rome to Naples, he booked a flight from Naples to Rome…leaving 5 hours after we arrived.

We slept for all of the 45 minutes flight and both agreed that the first thing that we needed was food and drink and, when in Naples, you eat pizza……

The pizza was not the greatest, but the worst pizza in Naples is better than the best anywhere else!!!

The return flight to Rome was accomplished with both of us sleeping for an additional 45 minutes. We caught the “Leonardo Express” train from the airport to Romi Termini and then followed google maps to the hotel.

For dinner, we took the advice of our hotel and ate at a rooftop restaurant just down the street. The food was wonderful!!! We started with a House Red and bread…..

….were given an “on the house” appetizer of Cuttlefish in pesto sauce…..

….continued with Mozzarella Buffala and Sun dried tomatoes.

Main course for me was Cacio e pepe (pasta with cream sauce flavored with black pepper) while Michael enjoyed a Tagliatelle with Pecorino cheese sauce. To finish off the evening, we enjoyed a light and creamy Panna Cotta……

At this point, it had been about 36 hours since we had risen from our bed in Georgia, so it was time for sleep. In our sleep deprived stupor we had managed to turn our Air conditioner off so couldn’t figure out why the room wasn’t cooling. We took the easy route and simply opened the window.

We had been asleep for about an hour when I was woken by music…..accordion music to be exact……and singing!!! Apparently the Trattoria across the street has a wandering musician!!

It was a fun ending to a very long day!!!

Tomorrow……ROMA!!!!!!

One reason that I make quilts…..

If you remember earlier this summer, I posted about 2 baby quilts that I was making for Bo’s Bros!!!

Well, the Bros have arrived…..Ellis and Patrick are their names!!!

These two photos of them lounging on one of the quilts that I made fills my heart to overflowing……

….and reminds me of one of the reasons that I love the art of quilting!!!

OKAY…..Saturday was transition day for my blog as we left for a month in Europe. We will be visiting Italy (Naples and Rome), France (St. Ettiene & Lyon) and Basel, Switzerland. SO, for the next four weeks this blog will be more about travel than about quilting, although I ALWAYS manage to find inspiration as we travel.

PLEASE JOIN US ON OUR JOURNEY!!!!!

Who me???

When I first moved the blog to WordPress, I spent some time looking around for blogs of interest and came across “ARHtistic License” The blog is written by Andrea R. Huelsenbeck, with the intent to promote creativity. This is from her “About” page…..

And she has met these goals and more!!! She posts daily, and covers a huge genre of artistic endeavors. My favorite weekly post is “Creative Juice” which appears every Friday. In this post, she links to other blogs and websites which provide inspiration for creativity of all sorts.

A few weeks ago she wrote and asked if I would do an interview for her blog. I was very excited about this possibility but also very humbled that she would include me in her content!!

The interview is here……

While you are there, be sure to check out her other fabulous content!!!

Color Wheel Central….part 2

When I left you yesterday I had finally sewn all of the inner strips together to form the inside square of the quilt. I did not add the final dark fabric to it since I knew that it would make the applique harder. Instead, I just pinned it to the design wall so that I could get an idea of what it would look like……

Now it was time to start placing the “Catherine Wheel” circles that will be hand appliqued. I knew that I needed to be careful placing the circles so that the arc was consistent from row to row. To solve that problem I pinned the first three arcs into place……

…..and drew a paper pattern from the middle row……

I cut this pattern out of cardboard and used it to place the other rows……

I used a Wash-out marker to draw around the circles so that I could easily place them as I worked thru the hand applique……

My concern was that the Red and Green arcs seemed to not fit as well. I was having to adjust the circle spacing to make them fit, but I finished it up anyway and was happy with how it looked……

I removed everything from the design wall and as I was getting ready to take out the last few pins, I noticed it…….

Do you see it?

The strips on the bottom left and top right are 2 inches smaller than the other ones!!!! No wonder I was having trouble fitting all of the circles into the space!!

So, I picked out both of those seams and added 2 inch strips to the outside…..

Once again there are now MORE seams for me to applique over!!!

At this point I was so disgusted that I washed off the markings for those two sets of arcs and put everything away for the day!! But that night I pulled it out and started the applique circles on the 6 arcs that are correct.

The applique process has been relaxing and, so far, I am happy with what how it looks…..

Today we packed for a 4 week trip in Europe (hubby works and I play), and I am not planning to take this project with me. But it WILL be here when I return and hopefully, I will be able to “sort-of” finish it up!!!

More to come….

Color Wheel Central….or the Comedy of Quilting Errors!!

If you have been reading this blog in the past few months, you may be wondering exactly what happened to the Color wheel quilt. I can assure you that it is still in process!! I was super excited when the fabrics that I had ordered arrived……

They are so much better than the pieces that I tried to dye for myself!!

This quilt has been a “sort-of” quilt…… I “sort of” knew how I was going to lay it out and I “sort of” knew how I was going to attach the squiggles, and I “sort of” knew how I was going to position the Catherine Wheel circles and I have “NO IDEA” what I am going to add in the outer corners…..but that is getting ahead of myself!!! Back to the “sort-of ‘s”!!

The first thing that I needed to do was to figure out the exact size of the squiggle square because that would determine the dimensions of my inside square. I started laying it out on the floor but…..

….I couldn’t make it square to save my soul!!! I would carefully adjust one side and corner, only to have the other side not fit!! ARGHHHHH!!!

If only there was some way that I could square up the sides???? Oh yeah, I have a laser square…..let’s try that!!!

And, amazingly, I had a good square laid out in just a few minutes……

A quick measurement of the center square (47 inches) and I was ready to start cutting background fabrics…..and things started going wrong!!!

This is the layout that I was thinking about…..

I want the squiggle to be on the darkest fabric and will want at least 2 inches on either side of it. So, if I take 4 inches off of the inside square measurement, I need the center piecing to be 43 inches. These 43 inches will be split between 3 fabrics…..say 14.5 inches each.

Do you see my mistake???? There are actually FIVE strips in the inner square and not 3. So now I have cut all of the fabrics too wide….YIKES!!!

I trimmed them back down to the needed size and started working from the inside out.

The first step was to applique the inner color wheel. I had a “sort-of” idea about how to do this using bias binding to cover the edges. My plan was to machine sew the inside edge and then hand stitch the outside edges. BUT…..no matter how hard I tried on my practice piece, I could not get it to lay flat…..the binding would pull the circle in and cause it to puff out……

At least I had the foresight to practice my technique prior to working on the actual piece!!! After several tries, I decided to change tracks and applique BOTH sides of the bias tape which meant that I could make everything lay flat. I accomplished this by glue basting the bias tape all the way around the circle before I ever started stitching…..

However, I did manage to cut the bias tape too short the first time and didn’t leave enough to join it back together…..ARGH!!! At last I had it finished…..

….but then realized that the yellow had to be on point and not on the square side of the block.

At this point I need to say…..I promise that I am smart, although you couldn’t prove it with this day’s work!!!!

Instead of re-doing the applique, I ended up adding corners to each of the sides to put the color wheel in the proper perspective……

So much for not having many seams to applique over!!!

I will leave this disaster here for now and continue with “Comedy of Errors” in tomorrow’s post!!

My “Other” Job

My husband, Michael, is also a “side-hustle” blogger but he even goes further by writing articles that are published in various magazines around the world. His area of expertise is the sport of shooting and hunting and general outdoor writing. In the past eighteen months he has expanded his work to include reviewing various hunting firearms and visiting and reviewing numerous hunting preserves.

My job on these jaunts is to be the photographer!!

To that end, we have owned a nice Canon SLR camera since 2015 and have wondrous photos of our travels in China, India and our trek in the Himalayas. But, as I was taking an online photography course, the instructor spent a good bit of time talking about lenses and the importance of getting a really good one. His comment was that the lens was even more important than the camera body!!!

After a good bit of research, we purchased a new lens for our camera…….

It is a 24-70mm zoom lens and has amazing optics.

SO….on Monday morning Michael was invited to visit a local hunting preserve for a Dove shoot and I was invited along to document the event. We arrived before 7:00am and got ourselves set up in the field, waiting for the dove to arrive.

And we waited….and we waited…..and we waited, but there were no dove to be seen!!

So I busied myself by playing with the new lens and documenting what I could see from my hay bale……

I had a wonderful view of the rest of the field, dotted with more hay bales, some cloaking other hopeful hunters…..

It was such fun to listen to the hunting dogs braying in their stalls because they KNEW that there was hunting going on and that they were supposed to be in the middle of it!!!

Hearing the Bob-White Quail waking up the world with their characteristic call reminded me of spending time with my Dad out in the fields of our farm.

It was sweet to watch the colors change as the sun came up, especially during the “golden hour” (hour just after sunrise or before sunset) that photographers talk about. And this little guy got caught by a sunbeam at just the right time…..

But my favorite sight of the morning was seeing Michael set and ready for action….

….although the doves definitely won this round!!!

You can read more about his adventures at Arnold Outdoor Writer!!!

Reflections on an empty spool

Well, this happened on Wednesday…..

At first it was just a hassle to have to stop, get the new spool and re-thread the machine. But then I started thinking how many hours of enjoyment I had obtained from that 3000 yard spool of thread.

It was used to piece an unknown number of quilt tops…quilts for babies, quilts for Veterans, quilts for charity and quilts just for ME!!! It was used to practice machine quilting, to piece endless scraps together and even to mend a few clothes along the way.

Sweet Claire used it on quilts made for herself, her brothers and her friends…….

….and my friend Ruth used it make a Christmas gift for her husband…..

After remembering all of these fun memories, I looked at the new (6,000 yard) spool and started dreaming of new projects to come……what will they be????

And…voila it’s Autumn….

…..at least INSIDE our house….the temperature outside is still well entrenched in the 90’s!!! And when I say voila….I really mean 7 hours of hard labor on this Labor Day Monday!!!

I have posted before (and this post talks about hanging my quilts) about my enjoyment of changing our decorating every season and Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. Even if I don’t start out super excited about “decorating day”, pulling out all of the artwork helps to get me in the mood……

I particularly enjoy the items that we have brought from various countries, including these fun items from Columbia…..

One of the favorite parts of decorating is hanging the “quilt of the month”…..

….and this one holds special significance for me!!!

I was born and raised in West Texas where “Autumn” lasts for about 3 days….ie the leaves go from green to brown with no intervening colors. Then we lived in Canberra Australia which had mostly Eucalyptus trees which were evergreens. Then came a short stint in Baton Rouge, Louisiana which had a proliferation of Pine trees….ie a storm of pine straw but no leaves.

Then we moved to Athens, Georgia where there is a good mixture of Pines and deciduous trees. A couple of years into our stay, I made an important decision to start eating better, lose weight and get active. The activity that I chose was walking and boy did I walk!!!

I started this new regime in September and as I walked, I was enamored with the leaves as they floated and spun to the ground around me. This idea for this quilt was hatched during one of those walks and I couldn’t wait to get started on it!!

As the idea grew, I decided to start in one corner with green leaves and a summer blue sky and have both the leaves and the sky change colors as they transitioned to dead leaves and a thin winter sky. I enjoyed working thru my scraps to come up with the needed fabrics and several quilting friends donated from their stash as well.

To finish the piece, I couldn’t get away from Geese flying South for winter. The geese thin as they go around the quilt and there are even some hidden ones quilted into the left hand border…..

I tried to mimic the swirling wind in the quilting…..

I love this quilt for so many reasons….. it was one of the first quilts that I designed myself and also it was the first quilt in my monthly quilt series!!

When I see it, I am reminded to look forward to cooler temperatures and the upcoming joys of Autumn!