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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rembrandt Tulips and our Christmas Tree



When you get to be as old as we are.




Traditions become very important. 








See those footprints in the snow?

That is the way to our Christmas tree.  






Early Monday morning, Mr. G will stand in line at the Forest Service Office to purchase a Christmas tree cutting permit.  






My Rembrandt Tulip bulbs arrived only yesterday. 
The sun was shining.  It warmed up long enough to thaw the frozen ground.  

All 250 bulbs were planted between a row of Lavender.  







I know that it is too early to decorate the tree.







After cutting the tree and after our traditional picnic in the mountains, we will "park" the tree in our pond.  It will continue to take up water until we are ready to bring it into the house...
about a week before Christmas.






In the meantime...


We will celebrate Thanksgiving at home. 

Along with our traditional meal I'm going to try out a few new recipes.

Here are sensational selections from Ellie, who writes a most thought provoking and beautiful blog, 


Where will you celebrate Thanksgiving? 


Wishing you  a wonderful weekend. 

Gina 







Monday, November 17, 2014

My Geese walk on water.




I mean, they walk on frozen water.


There is a lot of chatter out there.

The cold and snow caught them by surprise. 






It was 2 degrees Fahrenheit (that is minus 16.67 Celsius) last night.





No wonder most of our pond is frozen. 

A small area, where the water comes from deep within, always stays open.  







Hansel, Clyde and Lola can't decide who they should befriend.






 By late afternoon, most of the ice will have melted.

All will be afloat again.  

Hope you're staying afloat.  

Gina 





Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cairns




When you live in a small farming community you never know what you will find on your walks. 


 They were not here the last time we past by...only a few days ago.




This is a project of many hours and many hands. 
Cairns are placed on both sides of the stream, in the stream, on the banks and on both sides of the bridge.  





 What do I know of the Builders?
Very little. 





These carefully placed and designed cairns were built by children. 
Eight of them and all from one family. 






The family lives in a very small house.





Because their house is so very small. I hear that they like to spend their free time outside. 
Rumor has it that all eight children are very talented.  

They are all accomplished musicians

It is the most fascinating little spot.  Each time we pass by we see new details, all so carefully designed and planned.  

Happy weekend to you my dear friends.  

Gina 




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

While in Italy



It was my intention to eat Gelato every single day, 



maybe even twice a day.

That didn't happen.  I almost missed this opportunity if my eye hadn't caught the hand painted tiles in this shop in Sestri Levante,  Italy.





So much to do and so much to see in Sestri Levante. 
Gelato sometimes has to take a back seat. 






We stayed at the Grand Hotel Dei Castelli in Siestri Levante, Liguria, Italy,  many years ago.  Thankfully, not much has changed. 




 The rooms are beautiful, the dinner was fabulous. 

The Hotel retains its charm while providing modern amenities for their guests. 

The Castelli sits on top of a hill and has an elevator that takes you down 5 stories to the ocean side promenade.  Another elevator takes you to their private beach, imported sand and all. 






And then, Relais del Maro a new discovery!

Borgomaro

And the fabulous hotel Relais del Maro. 

A little out of the way but only 15 minutes north of the Italian Riviera between San Remo and Albegno, Italy. 





This is where we met a very confused and lost little black and white Spaniel. 
He would repeatedly cross the only road in the village, 
completely lost and wearing out.  

I knew that it was only a matter of time and he would get hurt.


 The hotel owners tried to find his owner. They made numerous calls and posted a notice on the internet.  

In the meantime he was safe in the furnace room.

Gene decided that this was not how the owner could find his dog.  

No leash was available so Gene wrapped an orange wedding ribbon around his neck and he and the lost dog sat on the bench, across from the hotel, in the rain, for almost 2 hours.  

I felt sorry for both of them. I took out a cup of tea for Gene (yes, the hotel serves high tea in the afternoon). We sat for another half an hour. 

 Suddenly a car drove up, a man jumped out and the dog flew into his arms, wedding ribbon and all. 








Relais del Maro
is spread among three different buildings in the middle of town and a few steps up a side hill.

If you like to shop, this is not the place for you.  If you just want to spend a few days relaxing, maybe hiking a little and just be pampered by the hotel staff, than this is the place.







 This beautiful church is the largest building in town. 
What I like about European churches is that they are open, every day and all hours of the day.  





If you must make a choice then these two places I would like to suggest for your next visit to either Italy or Germany.
the Herrnschlösschen in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany and the Albergo Diffuso Relais Del Maro, Italy. 







Leaving the beautiful Italian and French Riviera and driving toward Avignon, France, we found another charming chateau.  







The Chateau de Varenne is located on a quiet side street in the small hamlet of Sauveterre.






Love the use of red in these old walls. 








Growing out of an ancient wall, a powerful perfume guided us up the stone steps.







Driving towards Paris.
We stopped in at the Chateau De Bellecroix, near Chagney, France.

This was a "Discovery" trip. 

We didn't stay long in any of the places we visited. 
The bonus is that we now know where our next visit will take us.  Then we can take our time and get better acquainted with the surrounding area. 






 All of our places were chosen because they were beautiful, interesting, in the quiet countryside, with easy parking and , hopefully a good place to rest your head on a comfortable pillow.






And fine dining, if we are lucky. 

Chateau de Bellecroix filled all of those requirements. 


Happy travels my dear friends. 

Gina  







Thursday, November 6, 2014

The last of the last.





The last.



The last flowers from my garden.






 The last group of portrait tiles for a special commission.







The last of the "open" water. Our pond will soon freeze over. 






The last group of hundreds of tiles I have already painted. 

Ready to go into the kiln. 






The last of the bougainvillea.  

Snow is coming.

Have a wonderful remainder of the week, 
my dear friends. 

Gina 






Saturday, November 1, 2014

It doesn't get any better.




I'm in (was in) Motelupo Fiorentino, Italy.


Montelupo is located about 12 miles southwest of Florence, Italy.







Mario and in the background, one of his very talented painters

And I painted  with Mario Mori of Ceramiche Mori, 
Strada della Ceramica, Montelupo Fiorentino. 






What an honor it is to sit with Maestro Mario and watch him paint. 







Picture of Mario and one of his young painters.

What a Gentleman!  He spent the day with me.  I learned so much.

 He also learned something from me.  It's actually a secret.  When I shared the secret with him he almost jumped out of his chair and he immediately translated it to his painters.  






In the 9th century, the Montelupo ceramic tradition was almost lost.
  A lucky discovery in 1977, from the "the well of wash", inside the town's castle, produced fragments of pottery from Montelupo's ancient kilns.  





In the beginning of the 14th century Montelupo workshops  produced world renown ceramics which can be seen in the finest museums of the world.







One of the distinguishing Montelupo ceramic designs can be easily identified by the "Arlecchini" (Harlequin) platters first painted in the 17th century. 

They originated from humorous theatrical presentations, also known as Italian comedy.  

The design was painted with quick and resolute brush strokes. 







When in Montelupo you must visit the newly opened Museum of Ceramics.




I have not been able to find a publication which features Montelupo's Museum collection of ceramics.





  For a ceramic painter as myself, visiting the museum was happiness overload.  







One of Maestro Mario's masterpieces displayed at the museum. 






We stayed at the Villa Vannucci on one of the Montelupo Hills. 

The rooms were beautifully painted in grisaille technique.  
They looked as if they had been painted yesterday.








The Villa was furnished with excellent period furniture.  
It also displayed many beautiful Maiolica pieces. 
Father and daughter were fine ceramic painters. 


The Villa was beautiful.

The rest of the story of our stay at the Villa can NOT be told.  


Hope all of YOUR stories are tell-able. 

Gina