I admit it…I am a Pinteraholic. Yes, I have sucumbed to the time suck that is Pinterest. The current “fastest growing social media website,” it is digital window shopping at its best. In my past I have accumulated boxes of paper consisting of pages torn from magazines and newspapers. The little memo books I carry in my purse contain snippets of information I’ve come across in books and online sources. My intention is always, “I’ve got to save this, I may want it someday.” But, sadly, it’s too much trouble to seek out all those paper files. Some of the newspaper sheets have yellowed and are nearly dust. Enter Pinterest. A digital filing system/bulletin board where I can organize all the information I seem to gather. Lovely!
I forage through other pinners’ sites, go to original source material and enjoy a feast of the eyes looking at things I want to do. Well, I am proud to say that I have actually tackled a Pinterest find and produced an item. I came across this clever special dates DIY idea that was featured on the Full of Great Ideas blog. She used vinyl, but since I don’t have the machine I am lusting after, I just used MSWord and my printer.
My project was made for my dear friend of 30+ years, Nancy, who is celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary tomorrow. Since I am on a strict budget and was looking to produce something special without spending any money, this project seemed to fit the bill. I found some scrapbooking linen paper in my stash along with a picture frame I bought years ago, but never used. After messing about with MSWord and conducting some print tests, I think it came out pretty well. Ideally using a page layout program would have made this project go much easier and quicker, but I don’t own any layout software. The only cost was the $10.00 it took to ship it USPS
Priority Mail. I even found an anniversary card in my card stash! The dates are her wedding, her, her husband’s and her two daughters birth dates. A little read heart went into the wedding date. A line of copy is at the bottom which reads: “The dates our lives were forever changed.” I can’t wait to hear if she likes it.
So, my first Pinterest inspired project is complete. But, I have put into practice other Pinterest finds such as: oven cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, making my own floor cleaner. And this very clever idea of how to regrow store bought scallions.
I’ve now repotted them and they are growing on my patio. The same concept can be used to regrow celery and romaine lettuce. Haven’t done that yet, but I will. I could go on and on with how Pinterest has helped and inspired me. Waxing rhapsodic about Pinterest…I’m Jayne and I’m a Pinteraholic!
It’s that time of year again. The first weekend in May hundreds of thousands of wool lovers converge at the Howard County Fairgrounds. People actually come from not only around the U.S., but also from other countries. Here’s the chance to fondle quivet, yak, alpaca and other lovely fibers in various forms from on the animal, to fleece, to roving, to skein.
This year my friend Jean joined me. She is new to knitting and drove up from No. VA. We were up early (6 a.m.), I whipped up some breakfast to bring with us. We were in our spot in the meadow quite close to the gate. I pulled out some chairs and we ‘tailgated’. We entered the fairgrounds at about 8:30 and immediately bought yarn at the first tent run by Dancing Leaf Farms (Barnesville, MD). I like supporting local vendors. We spent time going into many of the barns, tents and exhibit hall. We also looked at this year’s prize winners and got to see some really cute animals. Jean and I really enjoyed the sheepdog exhibition.
I kept to a strict budget which was greatly augmented with a wonderful thank you gift from a very dear friend (Tina). More goodies for the stash. We arrived back in Baltimore at about 2:30 hot, tired, but happy.
Just before my trip to Europe I was let go from my job. Didn’t post here as I just recently told my Mom…can’t have her worrying. I put all job concerns on the backburner and just concentrated on enjoying my trip…which I greatly did. Upon my return I realized how brain dead I was and just puttered around. I updated the old resume and set out to seek new employment.
But, with each ad I read I found a bit more of my soul was being taken away. I had spent 6 years back in corporate America and I just couldn’t face going back. No matter how good the paycheck, I felt too much like a hollowed out shell. Added to this is the fact that in this economy there were mostly ads for people just starting out, not 50+ year olds.
I put out a few feelers and am working with an old colleague doing online media planning/buying and my dear baby brother has thrown me a few bones with some of his projects. I am kicking myself in my butt to get out there and network and am also looking at other opportunities.
One thing that has been the most positive aspect was sitting down to review my expenses to determine where cuts could be made. I have become absolutely giddy in getting as many deals as possible. I called Comcast with whom I have cable, internet and landline. I requested cancelling all but internet to save money, they responded with a $60/month savings and still keeping what I had, I called Verizon and they analyzed my phone usage and saved me $30. I got a $700/year savings on my homeowner’s and car insurance and actually increased my coverage, I called my oil delivery company and got my budget program down by $100/month and reduced my per gallon cost. So far I’ve gotten my monthly expenses reduced by $331.67 — AMAZING.
Next I’m going to look into my bank accounts to determine if I can save on fees. Through a website (www.findabetterbank.com) I found out that I qualify for a Seniors account at my current bank which can save me money. While I may not like being considered a Senior at 54, I’ll glad let them call me anything they want if it saves me money.
Now I’m off to figure out how to figure out how to save on food bills…very tough.
Bavaria is located in the southeastern part of Germany and is the largest state in the country and one of the oldest states in Europe. Its capital is Munich. In a number of the towns we drove through I noticed that homes and other buildings featured paintings of idealized medieval life…farmers, peasants and knights. They were beautifully executed.
We went to the town of Oberschleissheim where there is a branch of the Deutshes Museum devoted to the aeronautical history of Germany. The oldest building here dates to 1912 when the first aeronautical schools was established and where the remnants of the WWI and WWII airfield remain. After WWII, the US Army took over the field and used it as the only American air school outside of the US. There was a Tornado jet plane located there. Christiane proudly showed it off as 20 years ago she developed some of the software used on that plane.
We climbed up to the tower and we could see a small nearby airfield and we watched as a glider soared above us and another was launched from a small cart…that was very interesting. We could also see in the distance the Munich tower that was for the 1972 Olympics.
We got back in the car and headed towards Ammersee lake. It is located in upper Bavaria and is the sixth largest lake in Germany. We were going to the Andechs Abbey. Again, along the way we saw magnificent countryside. This Benedictine abbez is located on a hilltop to the east of the Ammersee and is famed for its flambozant Baroque church which was build in 1712.
On Saturday, we planned for a full day in Bavaria. There is so much to cover that I am going to break this into separate posts.
First up…Knitting Mecca
For months I’ve read on Ravelry (www.ravelry.com) about a particular German yarn called Wollmeise. There is practically an international cult surrounding this yarn. It is hand dyed. Claudia Höll-Wellman is the dyer. She primarily sells the yarn online on Fridays. People around the world get up in the middle of the night to purchase the yarn as it sells out so quickly. Only a couple of shops in the US carry the yarn. Two years ago Claudia opened a shop that is only opened on some Fridays and Saturdays. Everyone in the Wollmeise Ravely Forums talk about the brightness of the colors and the softness of the wool. I didn’t want to take the chance of just purchasing without seeing so I asked Christiane if she knew the town where it was located and if we could go to Pfaffenhofen.
The town is located in Bavaria and is northeast of Munich…about a 2.5 hour drive from Pforzheim. So yesterday we got up at 6 a.m. and set out. Once we crossed into Bavaria the scenery was gorgeous…so many farms and rolling hills. We traveled through some very small villages along the way. Pfaffrenhofen is located between the Isar and Danube rivers. Finally, we found the shop and the owner and her two workers were sitting outside knitting. Of course, I snapped photos and Hein took pictures of me in the shop.
Ravelry forum members are so right…the colors are gorgeous. I bought yarn to make socks for Christiane and Hein as a special thank you and lace weight for a shawl for my sister along with skeins for projects for myself.
We then headed towards Dachau. I wanted to visit a concentration camp and that was the closest. Hein and Christiane had never visited it, but were kind enough to take me. The town of Dachau is quite large and the camp is right inn the town…makes you wonder how the townspeople of that time could not be fully aware of what was happening. In 1933 it was the first camp to be built in Germany and served as the blueprint for all the others. Visitors walk right along the path from the train tracks that are still evident to the gatehouse with the infamous words inscribed on the gates: Work Sets You Free
Leaving Florence was difficult. I would have loved to stay and visit more with family, but I’m sure they would have grown tired of me just moving in with them (grin). We made the trip to Milan much faster than when we first arrived. Over the Alps and into Switzerland. The border guards didn’t even bother to stop their conversations to look at our passports…very disappointing.
We made a stop so Christiane could get her chocolate croissant and continued on our way making really good time. Until we hit our first traffic jam…this was to continue off and on until we got to the Pforzheim exit. What should have been a 7 hour trip became a 10 hour trip. I am ever so grateful for Hein’s easy-going nature and stamina as he did all the driving.
We were all tired when we got home, so Christiane defrosted a chicken curry dish she had in the freezer (which was very yummy) and then we went to bed by 10 p.m.
This morning I am up and catching up on local news, very glad not to be in Baltimore for the very major heatwave they are having. Today will be a quiet one…doing some housecleaning, laundry and some food shopping.
Can’t believe how much time is still left to this trip. Enjoying every day of it.
So, on our way home from the restaurant Christiane spied a small grocery store. Instead of getting up early to go to the Mercato Centrale to locate Parma ham, she decided to see if they had any for sale in this little store. Eccola! They did. The woman behind the counter was a bit surprised when Christiane requested an entire ham. Then she weighed it. I had mentioned that I thought a whole prosciutto would be too much for her mother and when Christiane saw that it was 6 kilograms and cost over 200 Euros, she decided that half would be more than enough.
In true Trentanove tradition I said that I had to purchase food for our road trip back to Germany. Christiane and Hein find this concept to be a bit odd. Regardless, I purchased a loaf of Tuscan bread, some prosciutto slices and cheese. I also got water, paper towels and plastic knives. They think I’m nuts. Of course, I let them know that my family never takes road trips without an abundance of food on board. I mean, really, you never know what could happen and to be without food would be impossible. There could be a landslide, an Alp could fall down and block our way for days. Or, we could just get hungry and need to stop at some scenic point for a short picnic. Better to be prepared. Plus, how could one resist true Parma Prosciutto!
We just finished breakfast and packed our bags. We are now waiting for our car from the parking lot. There is much comment on what condition it will be returned to us. It seems Italy has a bad reputation regarding cars as there are many thefts in the city. So we wait.
Our visit to Florence has been delightful. We got to see many wonderful sights, soak up a bit of the culture, enjoy the slower pace and meet wonderful people. It has been a dream.
Today we leave Florence. All day yesterday as we continued our tour of the city center, Hein, Christiane and I each remarked on our evening with the Trentanove’s. As we were all gathered on Daniela’s terrace, eating wonderful home-cooked food, I sat back in my chair and glanced around, there were about 4 conversations going on at once, voices were raised in heated discussion, the sound of laughter flowed across the table, a child was being admonished to eat all their food…I was back in Brooklyn for Sunday dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s…this was home and I was happy.
Everyone wanted to know about the family. I showed pictures and Daniela showed me pictures of my visit in 1971, my parents in 1970 and Grandma and Grandpa Trentanove’s visit in I believe, 1969. Daniela initiated a discussion on the family history and if I knew if/how we were related. I told her that I hadn’t any idea on how close our relationship was, but I told her the story of how Grandpa and her grandfather, Sergio met. Sergio was a POW at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn. Guissepina was left in Italy on her own to take care of their first born son, Daniela’s father, Luciano. The local Brooklyn paper would list the names of the Italian POWs as there was a high likelihood that they had relatives in the New York Italian neighborhoods. One day Grandpa’s neighbor mentioned that a Trentanove was listed. Grandpa didn’t believe it because the only Trentanove he knew was his brother and he was not a soldier. The neighbor showed him the listing and, it seems, you could go to the Fort and arrange to meet the prisoners. Grandpa and Sergio met and Sergio informed my father that indeed there were a number of Trentanove’s and that they resided in and around Florence where the Trentanove name was native to the area…not Genoa where Grandpa was from.
By this time, Italy was no longer part of the Axis, so the status of Italian POWs changed and they could get day passes. Sergio spent many days with my Grandparents and my father and his brothers who were teenagers at the time. I recall seeing many photos of all of them. After the war and after Sergio returned to Florence, he and my Grandfather kept in touch and that is how the two families are connected. Daniela and her family had not heard that story.
She and I do share an interest in learning more about the Trentanove history and possibly discovering how close our family relationship may be. Perhaps we will undertake this venture. I know that my sister Joanna, is also interested. Regardless of how close that relationship may be biologically, everyone agreed that Daniela and I share many facial features. I also showed her pics of John and Jimmy’s children and I think that they share the same features.
It seems that Massimo is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle nut. He proudly showed his newest cycle to Hein and they bonded over motors. Massimo carries a dream of someday participating in the annual Harley-Davidson rally in Sturges, South Dakota.
Nearing midnight it was time to take our leave, though it was quite difficult. Everyone sent their regards to my entire family, but especially Mom. Massimo and Daniela took us to the local tram station in their Ford pick-up truck. Once there, she took us to the automated ticket booth which proceeded to spit out two tickets, not three, and ate her 5 Euro note. The tram pulled in and she spoke to the conductress. Though I couldn’t understand what was being said, the tone and volume of Daniela’s voice, the wild arm gestures and the look on the conductress’s face which plainly said, “Hey, I can’t fix it, it’s not my problem,” all clearly told the tale. Daniela was magnificent in her fury. Hein reported later that as he and Massimo stood some distance away, Massimo just looked on with a slight smile in a very knowing way…he obviously knew his wife well.
Daniela pulled the tickets out of our hands and had us get in the truck. They would drive us back to the hotel. While I was sorry that they had to go a bit out of their way at such a late hour on a work night, it was all funny to witness and I wasn’t really ready to say goodbye. Given the late hour, the streets were fairly empty. We continued to talk all the way back to town. At one point, Massimo commented to Daniela in Italian, “E una chaccherona (sp?) Jayne”. Well, I completely understood that, gave him a slight swat on the shoulder and replied, “Hey, ho capito tutti che lo dico and e non e vero. Io sono calma, zito, e timido.” Which translates into, Jayne is quite the talker (or chatterer) and my reply, hey, I understood everything you just said and it’s not true. I am calm, quiet and timid. Well, that drew a laugh from everyone in the truck.
We arrived near our hotel and they pulled up to the curb. We all got out and said our goodbyes. This took a while as Daniela and I could not stop hugging one another. We made promises to keep in touch, we praised Facebook for bringing us together and I invited them to consider a visit to the US. It was a most wonderful evening.
Tuesday, May 31
Today we reminisced about our evening as we enjoyed our breakfast on the terrace. Once again, the sun is out, the weather is comfortably warm and there was a slight breeze in the air. Christiane and Hein both remarked at how welcome they were made to feel and how wonderful it was to meet these members of my family.
After breakfast, we ventured out towards the Palazzo de Signoria where the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery are located. Have I remarked on the fact that there are just too many American tourists here. Sadly, so many of them are extremely loud. They yell at one another across distances…sometimes we show no class. We went into the Palazzo and viewed the statues in the Galleria. Some horse-soldiers came into the square on truly proud and gorgeous horses. I took pictures of them. These soldiers carry both swords and pistols. We tried to go into the Uffizi, but the waiting times were too long and it is actually quite pricey. We retired to a cafe on the square, sipped on iced coffees with ice cream and did quite a bit of people watching.
We strolled down to the river bank and took pictures of the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio. We then walked to the bridge. Once on it, it’s hard to tell that you are actually on a bridge. It is filled with jewelry stores where once very long ago there were butcher shops. The citizens complained about the smell and so the butchers were out and the goldsmiths were in…this happened many centuries ago. It was lovely to window shop…I like sparkly things. The prices here are outrageous and only the most gullible of tourists would consider purchasing items here.
Hein noticed a plaque about halfway across the bridge. What called to him was that it was a plaque dedicated to a German. It seems that this German officer was ordered to blow the bridge and refused. He died in 1965 and the city residents chose to honor him with this recognition. Across from this plaque is a fence surrounding a bust of someone unfamiliar to me. But it wasn’t the bust that drew my attention. It was the sign on the fence that stated that there was a 160 Euro fine for placing any kind of lock on the fence. Ergo, there were hundreds of locks on the fence….Italians!
We made our way to the Pitti Palace and opted to view the Boboli Gardens. We were looking forward to finding a well-situated bench and enjoying a bucolic view. Turns out that there are many steep, dirt and rock trails and no benches. Very discouraging and extremely tiring. We quickly got over the desire to view the gardens as we all started to huff-puff and sweat profusely after some time looking for an elusive bench. We made our way back following the exit signs. Either Christiane or Hein remarked on how they kept those who are just entering from those who are exiting…better to keep those exiting from warning those who enter. Again the way out was long and circuitous and offered views of garbage bins and the employee parking lot. A disappointment.We chose to take a cab back to the hotel. We each decided to have a lazy afternoon and meet in time to go to dinner.
We met in the lobby at 6:00 and decided to walk to the Mercato Centrale to see about purchasing a whole (yes, whole) Prosciutto di Palma for Klara as per her request. The market had closed for the day by the time we got there so onwards. We had booked reservations at the rooftop bar of the Hotel Astoria on via Tomerello. Here we got a panoramic view of the city. We enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail and took some pictures of the city. Along with the drinks came a small antipasto. After about an hour we ventured back downstairs to the attached restaurant, the Locanda Toscana. We had a magnificent dinner. Christiane started with a Tuscan ham selection, Hein had a caprese salad that nearly had him moaning over the richness of the buffalo mozzarella and I had grilled octopus tentacles with asparagus. All was delicious. This was followed by an eggplant with bechamel sauce lasagne which Christiane and I both ordered and Hein had a Parma pomodoro soup that was more puree than soup, but all was enjoyed. Hein had a tuna steak entree and Christiane and I had a Tuscan beefsteak cooked to medium rare perfection. After all this which was accompanied by a Tuscan Multepulciono wine, we couldn’t eat another bite, but did end with an espresso.
As we walked back to our hotel (Did I mention how lovely this hotel is? If you get to Florence you should consider staying here. It is the Orto de’Medici at Via San Gallo 30).
Christiane and Hein just came by…we are off to Breakfast. I’ll tell you about our little supermarket adventure when we get back to Germany. Arrivaderci, Firenze.
We went to bed very early on Sunday since we drove most of the day. On Monday we awoke to a gorgeous day…sunny with just enough breeze to keep it comfortable. Breakfast is served on the second level in a magnificently furnished room with a terrace. We opted for the terrace where you can smell the jasmine tree situated in the courtyard below. Typical European breakfast is on offer: a selection of breads, yogurt, fruit, cereals, cold cuts and cheeses. There is a very fancy machine that makes american coffee, espresso, cappucino, lattes and macchiatos.
We decided to head down to Il Duomo. It was a very short walk from the hotel. There was a line, but it went quickly, then on to the churches of San Lorenzo where we viewed the tomb of Lorenzo the Magnificent’s grandfather and then to Santa Maria Novello. We stopped along the way at a lovely caffe in the Piazza della Reppublica which is located along a shopping street featuring all the designer and haute couture shops.
I wanted to return early to the hotel and pick up some wine and flowers as Daniela was expected to be picking us up at 4:00. Along the way back, Christiane noticed a sign in front of a restaurant that featured a photo of their rooftop bar with a scenic view of the city. We went inside and they showed us the garden room where they serve dinner. We decided to make reservations here for Tuesday evening. I bought some local Montepulciano wine and found a florist on Piazza di San Marco just around the corner from the hotel.
We all spent some downtime for about 2 hours…Hein took a siesta and Christiane and I sat on the terrace reading and knitting. We the went to freshen up for the evening.
We were waiting in the lobby when a small dark haired woman entered. She was too old to be Daniela, but there was something familiar about her. She came over to us and asked Christiane if she was me. It was Marcella, the wife of Luciano (who died in 2005) and the mother of Daniela. Daniela, she explained was parking the car. Marcella does not speak English, but she spoke so rapidly in Italian that my brain was twisting. I finally started to understand some of what she was saying. She is a small, trim woman and appears in good health. I did start to remember her from my trip in 1971.
Then in walked Daniela. She looked great. We hugged and kissed and thanked Facebook for connecting us. We sat down and spent a bit of time getting acquainted. We also remarked on how we’ve changed, but were still recognizable to one another. The last time we saw each other she was 8 and I was 14. We then went to her car, which was a tiny FIAT Panda, but the 5 of us squeezed in. She took us to the Piazza di Michelangelo which is on the other side of the Arno. It is located on a hill overlooking the city and offers a panoramic view of the city and Fiesole. Alongside the Piazza you can see huge, privately owned villas. They pointed out the area alongside the Arno where Daniela grew up. It was here, in 1965, that there home was flooded in the famous Arno flood. They told me that Luciano swam from his job to their apartment to get to his family.
I told Daniela that I wanted to purchase another gold bracelet like the ones I was wearing from Grandma Trentanove. She and her mother explained that these are not popular today, but in Grandma’s time they were given to girls on their birthday and traditionally they would receive one for every letter of their first name. Along with the one I received from Mom and Dad, I have five to correspond to my first name. I explained that I was working on the Trentanove part of my name. They took us to a shop of a custom jeweler outside of the city center, but they didn’t carry any. I appreciated the effort.
Now it was time to venture to Daniela’s home which is in the country. She explained that there were some hills we would have to drive and perhaps we would have to get out and push, luckily she was
kidding. I can’t recall name of the area where she lives, but it was beautiful yet still close to the city…about 30-45 minutes. As we drove on, the roads became narrower and more winding. Daniela seem to just speed up and would honk her horn as she approached a turn, never slowing down. Christiane had to close her eyes. I nearly did so as I noticed how close to a wall we were. Let’s just say, that as she finally raced up to an opening gate, I let out the breathe I was holding.
Daniela and her husband purchased an old stable/barn and converted it into three homes (all attached). The barn has vaulted wood ceilings and was originally built in 1945. The original farm and surrounding land had been sold off in parcels, but Daniela and Massimo must own what appears to be 6 or more acres. The house is situated on a hill and looks down on terraced property. To one side you see olive trees. They have four dogs and there is a chicken house nearby where they get fresh eggs and fresh chicken (from time to time). We met their 17 year old son, Jonathan. He is named for Jonathan Livingston Seagull as she wanted her son to be a free spirit.
As we admired the view she explained that we would be joined by her sister, Anna, who was 2-3 years old when I was last here, her husband Simon and her 6 and a half year old son Alessandro. Her aunt and uncle, Roberto and Renza would also be joining us. We set the table out on the terrace and Massimo had a wood burning grill going to get ready for all the meat! Daniela cooked Pesto (with rigatoni) and served it with a salad and grilled sausage, steak and beef ribs…all cooked to perfection. We had wine, of course, with the meal and for dessert we had gelato.
I was amazed at how much Italian I could understand and how much I remembered. Of course, my verb tenses were awful and I was frustrated when I could not remember words, but between Daniela and Anna we could make ourselves known. Roberto and Renza were a treat. Here they were, retired in their early 70s. When last I saw them their entire lives were before them as they were only 30! But I recognized them immediately. They asked about Grandma and Grandpa and Mom and Dad. They were sad to hear about Dad’s dying, but consoled in knowing that Mom is doing well.
Oops, gotta run….more to come.