Porch swings… Are they a Southern thing?

DBE1BA3D-1D86-454C-BEA6-EA574BA1143AI have always liked the idea of a porch swing. Growing up near Lake Michigan, we would string up a hammock between two trees OR bring a lawn chair down to the beach to watch the sunset. A porch swing with lemonade was what we saw in the movies.

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Felder Rushing’s Blog post, “Put a Bounce in Your Swing.” His story is wonderfully written about his father’s love for the porch swing and fine tuning the springs, so that it would be a perfect ride. The swing was also a place where his father’s creative ideas were imagined!

Reading Felder’s post reinforced why I have always found the idea of a porch swing relaxing. There is something traditional about taking time for ourselves to sit, swing, let our minds wander and enjoy nature.

Oh, and if you believe in saints, Felder has you covered. GET THIS, St. Proculus of Verona is known as the swinging saint. I would never have known this! You can read about him here…  “Swinging Garden Saints.

That brings me back to my question, “Why do porch swings seem to be a Southern thing?”

Florence – YES, I found a 99 cent store…

DC6A821E-F171-4F8F-93CE-85290D3A99F4The Family Dollar stores are all over America, but I didn’t expect to find one in Florence. I thought you might enjoy seeing this, so if you travel to Italy you can save money by buying water and other small items here! They really have quite a bit, it’s amazing how the store looks small on the outside, but upon entering it’s quite big.

If you save on water, etc….  you can enjoy a gelato!

 

 

Firenze – Bartolini kitchen store

2AB82753-8768-4542-AB5A-F9EC1B009E18Yesterday, I was walking in Florence and I got lost. I was trying to catch the bus. I knew where I was, but I thought I would be “smart” and take a “short cut” down a small street to get to the bus stop faster, but that led me in a different direction from the bus stop. In Italy, the streets can twist and turn, it feels like being in a maze.

The good news with getting lost is that we explore a new area. I sure got LUCKY on this street. I came upon a store called, “Bartolini.” I was drawn to the beautiful window display of kitchen items. It is fun to explore kitchen stores when traveling.  For example, look at the window display, it’s amusing to see the variety of espresso machines you could buy all lined up! BEAUTIFUL, isn’t it!

Personally, I use my little Bialetti espresso machine daily! Works perfectly, even after years of use. In fact, I was looking at the smallest Bialetti, which would be for one espresso. Trying to find the BEST deal, I have been checking every store to see what the cost of the smallest Bialetti is. I’ve noticed the price for the machine varies from 14 to 17 euros. I’m curious to see what the price is in the country. Hoping to get this down to 12 or 13 euros if possible!

Inside, the store reminded me of  Williams Sonoma in America. Same quality of kitchen items. Everything from pots, pans, Le Creuset, china, appliances, coffee machines, etc… Oh, but with lots of espresso cups and oil and vinegar containers!!

Bologna Children’s Book Fair

20F7A794-B126-42B9-8F49-3A441FBF6155Today was the first day of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. I got there by fast train from Florence. Then it was an easy 10 minute bus ride from train station to the conference center.

Upon entering the hall, it was exciting to see all the books as you can imagine. I was amazed at how International this Fair was. Countries from all over the world had booths. Some booths were big, some small, it didn’t matter, they were ALL showing off their best selling books.

This fair is mainly used for the buying and selling of rights to books. So, in ALL the booths you could see “major” meetings going on and orders being taken.

China was the Guest of Honor. They gave different speeches with the Mayor of Bologna. Their booth showcased their Chinese authors and illustrators. They also had a specific booth displaying the work of their BEST illustrators.

I went to check out the Literary Agents Center. There was a strong buzz in the air. This is where authors and illustrators, who have set up appointments, meet with agents to pitch their books!

8A26E60E-A794-41C9-8FDB-2F554A80CB9AThis is what the board looked like, I don’t know what those numbers next to their names were. It was too busy for me to ask someone, people didn’t want to miss their appointments by answering my questions.

I finally made it to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair! So glad I went.

Oh, I could tell I was a book fair beginner, because I forgot to bring a BIG bag to put all the pamphlets that I would gather in. The book show veterans had roller bags!

Vienna & St. Patrick’s Day

C0299072-2A7E-43AD-8C19-91F87F19D97DThis past weekend my daughter and I met in Vienna. St. Patrick’s Day was on Saturday and look what we found on our walk – AN IRISH PUB! My daughter had just flown in from Dublin. She said it was touch and go getting to the Dublin airport with all the street closures preparing for the St. Patrick’s parade, but she made it!

Vienna was beautiful, a bit cold though. It snowed on Saturday, but we still were out and about. Here is a view from our hotel room.

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We were in a great location, right next to the market place (green buildings in photo). I need to read about the history of Vienna, because there is a strong Asian influence there. Many Asian restaurants and grocery stories. We bought two Asian pots, mine was blue. I think they were meant for sugar, we weren’t sure.

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We were only there three days, so it wasn’t enough time to go to museums. We decided to take the Big Bus Tour, which was an excellent idea. We drove around Vienna listening to the tour guide and had a chance to see ALL of the main attractions. I would have liked to go to a Strauss concert, but that will have to be for the next visit.

We had wonderful Viennese meals, my daughter took pictures. I told her it was going to look like all we did was eat! The food was delicious.

I was in love with the architecture. Take a look at this beautiful street.

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We have to go again when the weather is warmer. Getting to Vienna from the airport was super easy. They have the CAT train, which took 16 minutes to the downtown area. I didn’t realize you could take a day trip to Budapest.

Vienna – We will be back!

Writing: Is your brain on overload?

Some days, we are write (I mean right.) on target with our writing goals and other days, it seems we will never find the last piece to the puzzle.

Brain is confusedI’m writing my children’s book and my brain is on overload. Too many wires out there and they are not connecting. If you are a writer or a student working on a term paper or thesis, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We’re trying to focus, so that our writing path is clear, but our mind cannot quiet down and concentrate!

I know this is when we are told to “meditate.” I’ve tried that. My brain does quiet down for 5 minutes, then it is back to brain chaos.

This made me think of inventors. Can you imagine the patience they have to have when they keep reaching a dead end! I’m sure Thomas Edison banged his fist on the table many times when he was inventing the light bulb!

The key is visualizing the end result. Keeping our mind on the prize!

So, TODAY is about finding a break through!

Diet & Exercise – TIME TO COMMIT!

Spring is around the corner. Do you struggle with diet and exercise? I just read a motivational post by CrossFitMomm: One Mom’s Journey with CrossFit. This Mom is definitely ON FIRE. Her post called, “You Can’t Exercise Away a Crap Diet…” was a right on target.

I found inspiration in her post, because she thrives on exercise. She is fanatical about it, like a drill Sergeant. That is the type of trainer I would need. Someone to push me to the next level. As I keep reading her posts I see the difference in “her thinking” versus “my thinking.” I enjoy exercise, but I am not driven by it. She is driven by exercise, I like her energy.

It would be amusing if she and I went bicycle shopping together. At the store, I would go to the LEFT and she would go to the RIGHT. I would be looking at the old fashioned leisure bikes with a pretty basket in front, she would be looking at the high powered racing bikes. This is why I like her posts! Her energy is so high and focused on exercise that I would slowly concede and buy the race bike.

She points out that if we find an exercise or sport that we love to do then it is not a chore. I agree with this. If you are looking for motivation and a little bit of “tough love” in the exercise department, you’ll like her Blog.

Ok – this little bird needs to pick up the pace. Spring is here, the birds are chirping like crazy outside. Let’s GO!