Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Proud Moment

Hubby D and I just returned from Oklahoma and a great celebration for granddaughter ML.

A few weeks ago ML sent me an email with a big surprise.  She was selected the 2018 Outstanding Senior in Architectural Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. OU has 31,250 students and offer numerous engineering programs.

ML is a National Merit Finalist and studying at OU on an academic scholarship. To say we are proud of her is a big understatement. She is a great young woman and I am extremely proud of how hard she works to stay at the top of her class at OU.

Her graduation announcements will not only say she graduates with distinction, but that she also graduates as the 2018 Outstanding Senior in Architectural Engineering.


Hubby D and I were very fortunate to be able to fly to Oklahoma and attend the OU Campus Awards Program where ML was presented her award by the head of the Engineering Program, Dean Thomas L. Landers.

On the day we were preparing to leave for the trip, ML texted us that she also just received notification she would receive a scholarship to apply to her Master’s studies she has already started. Money and an award – priceless!

After the ceremony ML invited a few friends and we had a great cook out at my mom and dad’s house. It was an extremely enjoyable evening. The next day, ML took us to the airport and I didn’t even cry because I was still so happy about the award.

It was quite an experience and a memory I will cherish.

And, it snowed while we there.  I haven't seen snow in several years.

In just two weeks Hubby D and I will be off to attend the college graduation of our grandson, BSJ in Jacksonville.  We are also very proud of BSJ. Then in another 2 weeks we will return to Oklahoma for ML’s graduation ceremony.

Whew – I am exhausted already. But it is a good exhaustion! Having smart grand kids is really FUN!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rome Revisited

Our drive from Sorrento to Rome was not very long however we did pass several interesting architectural structures along the way.

When we arrived in Rome, we dropped the car off at the airport then headed to the Hotel Bernini Bristol located on the Piazzo Barberini. We were really looking forward to our hotel as it was on the same piazza where we had stayed in an AirBnB with granddaughter MVL. We knew the area very well and were looking forward to a wonderful time.

AH! Even on the last day, we have a great view!
Once again, a beautiful Murano chandelier is in our hotel lobby.
The view from the roof of the Hotel Bernini Bristol is famous. 

In the center Piazzo Barberini is the Triiton Fountain. We have pictures sitting there from our previous visit.

May 2016

November 2017
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Triton Fountain. “The Triton Fountain is one of those evoked in Ottorino Respighi's Fontane di Roma. The legend applied to Trevi Fountain has been extended to this: that any visitor who throws a coin into the water (while facing away from the fountain) will have guaranteed their return to Rome.

The setting of the Piazza Barberini has changed significantly since the seventeenth century. Engravings of the time and photographs from the nineteenth century show much lower buildings around the piazza, which would have made the fountain much more dramatic. However, it is a tribute to the artistic judgement of Bernini that even now, with tall buildings around the traffic-ridden piazza, that the Triton Fountain can still maintain a dramatic presence.”

After a late lunch, we headed out to visit some of the same sites we experienced with MVL. It was fun to talk about that trip and think about the fun we had in Rome previously.

Even in the cool weather, the Trevi Fountain was crowded. 
We tossed our coins in so we are guaranteed to come visit again.

When we passed by a crane at the Colosseum I had to take a picture and send it to LW.
It was a lovely day and we had a great time. As the sun disappeared, we walked the Spanish Steps.

Then we headed to another of Hubby D's finds, "Best Wine Bars in Rome" that happened to be very close to our hotel.

We did not want to but we needed to retire early to be ready for a very, very early departure for the Rome airport in the morning. Rome in a day, . .  but it was worth it.

The next morning we watched the sun rising over Rome from the windows of our taxi as we headed back to the United States.

There were a few things that surprised me on this trip.

Many of the bathrooms in Europe have motion censure lights and the light can go out before you are ready to leave.  One in Paris was so short I had to wave my arms in the air just to have light to wash my hands.

Spain was not as different as I had expected.

Nice, France is wonderful and we would like to go back someday.

Hubby D became enthralled with the Medieaval hillside towns in Italy with their legacy of time and culture.

He also commented that everything in Italy needs maintenance except the A1A highway. It was pristine and a toll road. Proving once again, the efficiency of private enterprise.

We had a bit of trouble figuring out this road sign as we would see it where there were roads and other cars.

It means road closed to vehicular traffic.

But don’t confuse it with this one.  It really threw us for a loop.  It means no traffic in both directions.

One nice surprise was that reasonably priced Italian wines are very good. You don’t need to spend on Brunel di Montalcino to drink good Italian wine.

We chose some wines, olive oils and balsamic vinegar to ship back and while we were picking them out, Hubby D reminded me to keep it under a full container size shipment.  LOL

However, we were not at all surprised that we could spend an entire month together and still be great friends. That we are -- really good friends!

It was a trip of a lifetime and we soaked up every minute.

Now, back to the real world.


During our layover in Germany we had one last treat -- a beer and pretzel in honor of our friend JA.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cooking and Driving -- A Heart Stopping Drive to Amalfi

Another cooking class was on the schedule in Sorrento.

We arrived in the kitchen and met the TWO chefs we would be working with. One chef for the first two courses and another for our dessert. The Sorta Caprese Cake is a local delacasie that features almond flour and two kinds of chocolate.


The first dish we prepared was a potatoe casserole that included ham, parmesan cheese, mozerella cheese and smoked mozerella cheese along with butter. It looked like a dish we might repeat at home.

Next we took on Ravioli Caprese. Luckily the chef already had the pasta ready to roll out. The professional pasta machine made this a breeze. I could not do this one at home without a pasta machine.

Here is a video of Hubby D working on cutting out the ravioli. He had a lot of fun getting his hands into the food. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog page to see the video.

The finished pasta.
My favorite dish was the dessert. And, the Caprese cakes were the most fun as well. We will definitely tackle these in Florida.

The final step in creating the mix for the cake was to kneed it with your hands. Here is a video of Hubby D up to his elbows in chocolate. If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog page to see the video.

Here is a link to the video on YouTube.

The finished cake.
The wine served with the meal was very good as well.
After our cooking class and enjoying the fruits of our labor, we decided to take the car out for a drive.

The narrow road out of Sorrento was a gorgeous drive up the coast to Pasitano and Amalfi. After experiencing the drive inside a bus, Hubby D had to give it a try behind the wheel of our car.

There were plenty of breathtaking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Later that night my hands were sore from gripping the arm rest really tight.

The lady on the top ledge is accepting a package from a delivery truck down below. The driver placed the package in her bucket on the end of the rope going up the building.

Hubby D pulled the car over as far as he could so I could take a photo of this strange sculpture along side the road.

Seeing the rugged coastline beneath, I sometimes had to hold my breath as Hubby D whizzed around corners and through tunnels.

Our timing was perfect and we captured an absolutely stunning sunset on the way back to the hotel.

Back in Sorrento, we knew tomorrow we would be driving to Rome so we decided to have a casual dinner at the trendy pizza restaurant next door to the hotel. It was a good decision and we had a delicious meal.

Their patio was covered with mosaics of the coastline.

Their menu included several unusual hamburgers. I opted for the Partenopeo, hamburger with local cheese, egg-plant, dried tomatoes and French fries. It was delicious.

It was a calm ending to an exciting day.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Touring Positano and the Amalfi Coastline

After morning coffee and pastries, we ventured out to Positano and Amalfi.

Several people had told us how difficult parking would be if we drove our car, so we opted for the bus. As it turned out taking the bus was a brilliant decision.

Hubby D was able to enjoy the view and I was comfortable the bus driver had done this several times and probably knew his way around. (I was still scared silly. LOL)

The road was extremely curvy, winding through extremely narrow places where it would have been difficult to maneuver if you did not know for sure where you were going and what was around the next turn.

Several times we passed cars and other buses with only fractions of an inch to spare. At one point our bus had to back up in order to make a turn.

I will give the bus drivers a lot of praise because they were skillful and confident.

The mountainous coastline and beaches reminded us of the California coast between LA and San Francisco, rugged and dramatic.

After we arrived in Positano we hiked down the hill to the town square. Along the way there were very interesting benches and ironwork for plants.

We made it to the main square and stopped for coffee at an adorable restaurant right on the shore, Chez Black. It was founded in 1949.

I fell in love with their plates and Hubby D talked the waiter into selling us one.

Then we started the hike back up to the bus pickup point. Although it wasn't quite as hard as we anticipated, it was great to finally reach the top. I think the climb in Spello was harder and hiking it every day for a week helped to get us in shape for this hill.

We caught the next bus to Amalfi and once again enjoyed the view. In Amalfi we had a lovely lunch in a seaside restaurant. We even caught a glimpse of a sunset on the way back to Sorento.

Amalfi and Positano were pretty, however we both agreed that Cinque Terre is prettier. We hiked the Cinque Terre trail a couple of years ago with NDL and ES. They are the couple that introduced us to the Angelini Family in Spello.

Here is a link to my blog about the Cinque Terre.

After our tour in Positano and Amalfi, we returned to Sorento and settled in for some wine and dinner at the Fauno Bar on the Piazza Tasso.

To our surprise, it was the evening of their Christmas Tree Festival. The town square was packed and we were just in time to watch the lighting of the large Christmas Tree. Here is a video of the scene. And, YES, the girls you see are dressed as angels walking on stilts. LOL

If you are reading this in an email, you will need to go to my blog to view the video.

On the way home, we picked up some limoncello. The store had an entire aisle dedicated to limoncello.
Back at our hotel on our terrace (with the fabulous view), Hubby D pulled out his cigars and had a smoke. LW would not have approved, but I thought it was adorable. Hubby D just relaxed and enjoyed.

Another great day.