The Villa in Tuscany- Seriously? Pinch me, please.

Okay, now let’s get to the accommodations.
This house was awesome, just absolutely fabulous.
Renting a house for a week or two is the way to go.
Even better, was the fact that there was a family that maintains the house and they were always there to answer questions about where to go and what to do (so you are really given the inside scoop of what locals do).  They were the nicest people and sooo helpful.
Now, can it get better than that?

This is the entry which was a fifteen minute drive off the main road to the Villa.  Fifteen minutes because the road was so filled with rocks that you had to drive 5MPH down the road so you didn’t blow a tire or tear up the bottom of the car.

The pool house is to the left and the main house to the right.

Gorgeous, gorgeous views from the pool.  This is the pool house and beyond that is the main house.

The main kitchen.

Where we ate almost all of our meals.  Can I say it again:  the views! 
My bedroom.  I had 3 windows all which were amazing to look out each morning.

Let’s talk food in Italy – Panzano, Italy

It’s been about 2 weeks on the road for me (not complaining) so I have been neglecting the blog.
I’m back from an amazing trip to Italy spent primarily in Tuscany in the Chianti region.  First things first.  The food.  OMG.  People told me to just eat and eat and I did, but honestly there is no way you will ever realize how good food can be until you go to Italy.  Oh and I don’t think I  gained one pound.  You know why?  The food is soooo fresh, filling and satisfying that you don’t overeat.
I have never eaten such fresh, flavor-filled, free of pesticide food. I have mentioned before I have many food sensitivities and I did not have one issue because this food is so pesticide free and easy to digest.  It brings everything to a whole new level as to what I will look for at markets when shopping.  We went to the market the first Sunday we were there and stocked up on lots of veggies, fruits and anything else we found compelling.  Enjoy the pics from the Panzano market:

Fruits – the peaches were amazing. So sweet.

Veggies – the zucchini and salad were over the top fresh.

Parmesan- look at the size of it. The guy would just chop off sections for people.  The entire block of cheese was almost gone in 15 minutes.  I know why.  The parmesan was the best I ever tasted.  The locals told us to go to this guy because he has the best cheese and I can confirm he does.  

Pasta

Chicken

46,000 word count & to Italy.

I’ve been working on my first novel for longer than I want to admit.  Writing a first novel is tough. My first book was nonfiction.  Fiction is a whole other game.  As much as I wish I was finished yesterday, I know I can’t rush the process.  I hit 40,000 words last night and that made me feel like I was reaching the homestretch. A novel is typically at least 46,000 words.  I’m up to 41,000 today and hoping I can get myself to the 46,000 mark before I leave for Italy.

They say its best to have a schedule for your writing.  I’m not always great with schedules when it comes to writing. When something comes to me I just want to write no matter what schedule or time it is.  Consequently, this week has been all over the place with my sleeping schedule.  I’m not sure how this is going to set me up for the six hour time difference I’m about to experience, but I’m sure I’ll survive.
Ciao!

Burgers

Food allergies these days are all to common. I happen to be allergic to red meat. Yes, allergic to red meat.  So, I cannot have those juicy cheeseburgers.  Instead I have to compromise with either a turkey burger, a veggie burger (hard to find a good one), chicken burger (no thank you) or this vegan burger which I was told about by my vegan eating brother.  I have to say, this vegan burger is really a good compromise.  You should definitely try it if you have allergies, feel like experimenting or perhaps have a vegetarian guest coming over for a summer bbq.  You can find it in the frozen isle in whole foods.

Here it is:  Gardein beefless burger

Before and After

This week was a busy one at my parents house. They recently had their basement waterproofed and with that, floors had to be torn up and now new ones have to be put down.  Of all rooms, who wants to pay for someone to put down a floor for a laundry room?  So, my sister and I signed up for the job.  After 2 hours in Home Depot on Wed., working at my parents until midnight and then back to Home Depot the next day for more grout we finished up the job on Thursday.  I think we did a pretty good job.  Here are the pics.

Oh and we are not for hire.  These flooring skills are nontransferable.  Specifically, the flooring skills demonstrated below are only available for the woman who carried us around in her womb for 9 months.

                                                                                                                  

Hidden gardens & perfume.

I walked from my apt. on 20th street downtown to 2nd St. and Bowery to stop in at John Derian.  After I left there I walked east on 2nd St. and stumbled upon a garden I had never noticed before.  A sign stated it was “Albert’s Garden,” open to the public with the black iron gate open. So, I walked in.  I thought, what a little piece of heaven in the middle of this block and I never knew it.  After a few minutes of taking the garden in I continued to walk uptown and stopped in at kiehls.  While I was smelling away at their clearly marked “samples” bottles I came across a scent I never realized they had.  It was actually a scent my cousin who passed away used to wear.  I immediately smiled because it’s like her saying hello.  I never knew until someone close to me died how important scents are.  After she died when I was having a bad day I used to stop in to Sephora and spray her perfume just to comfort me.  It was even better when I would sit next to a stranger who was wearing her perfume because I felt like she was talking to me through someone else.  So ladies, choose your scents and stick with them because not only do they make you feel good now, but they can comfort others in ways I’m sure you never imagined:)

Tuscany, here I come! Now what do I pack?

I’m VERY excited to be headed to Tuscany in early August.
I’ve never been and I will be staying in a rented Villa.
I have just pulled out my Italian Phrase Book that my very Italian friend gave me years ago.
I am so happy to finally put it to good use.
Now, the question is, what does one pack when going to Tuscany?
I have done some homework and I am told all woman wear the same thing in Italy and here is what the Italian women are wearing these days:
1. Skinny Jeans
2. Sneaks or flats
3.  Silver belts
4.  Scarfs (this is always the case, but not to be forgotten).

I can handle all 4.
I will bring some sundresses  (If I stick out because of my sundresses, I don’t care. I love them and I’m a New Yorker anyway.  Aren’t we just as up on fashion as they (I’m sure they may disagree on this one, but in any event, that’s how I feel.)?
Oh, I will not bring any shorts.
Apparently, Italian women do not wear shorts.
I don’t either.
We already have one thing in common.

Rooibos (red) tea – attention allergy sufferers

Rooibos (red) tea is a great natural remedy for anyone with allergies- respiratory, food sensitivities or a sensitive stomach in general.  I have both food sensitivities and allergies and it’s been really helpful the last two weeks.

It’s caffeine free, has a high amount of antioxidants and contains two bioflavonoids – Rutin and Quercetin, both of which are extremely helpful for relieving allergy sufferers by reducing inflammation.
If you are suffering right now from annoying allergies, don’t.
Go get some red tea.

Oil paints – oh how I’ve missed you!

My spirit said, pull out your oil paints and I finally did!
I haven’t painted in years and I’ve missed it sooo much.
Never again will I neglect my paints for so long.
I get into a zone where nothing else exists when I paint – nothing.
This was inspired by the artist I love, Amanda Tally.
I might go back and make some changes, but here is what I created so far in the last two days:

Reminder: Don’t neglect your outlet for creativity!!