I had planned to do my usual one-post-per-location showing off photos from our recent Ireland trip but decided, eh, why bother? If I take the time to do all that, with as crazy as everything is right now, I’ll never finish or never get back to blogging about other things going on in my life. All of the photos are here and here on my Flickr and, below, is the scrapbook pages I made for each portion of the trip.
I’m still here, just busy with work and life. This’ll be a photo-less post, partly because I’m too lazy to dig through Flickr to find relevant photos, partly because I really don’t have that many. Maybe next week I’ll get back into the swing of things with posts with actual photos in them. Who am I kidding, it’ll probably be another month or two before I write another blog post with something that’s not just like “here’s my latest scrapbooking pages.”
So, what have I been doing? Well, working, knitting, scrapping, improving the house, enjoying the weather, planning vacation, and reading. Mostly working and reading (ok, and sleeping and eating but no one wants to hear about that).
Don’t worry, no boring details. Just know that work is busy and while it’s sometimes overwhelming, I’m enjoying my current project.
Ok, so I haven’t knit a single stitch in about three weeks but before that, I knit a shawl/scarf and about 2″ on a colorwork hat.
The shawl/scarf was Different Lines using bright blue and bright orange Neighborhood Fibre Co Studio Sock that I originally purchased to make the Steven West mystery shawl. It turned out HUGE and rather scarf-like due to how I blocked it. Of course, I forgot to really take photos of it once I gave it to the recipient (Anne, my Phi Rho big sister).
The colorwork hat actually isn’t one of the patterns I was trying to choose between a few months ago. It’s called Latvian Hat and I’m using Neighborhood Fibre Co in a white colorway that’s named, appropriately, after what Matt tells me is a very, er, racially non-diverse part of Baltimore and Miss Babs in Lilacs. Even though the pattern starts at the crown and gets larger, it’s still very slow to work a single round and the pattern requires rather a lot of conentration. It’s also at an awkward stage where it’s a bit too small to work on two needles comfortable but too large for only one. I put it aside once work got busy enough that I was only making myself more frustrated trying to work on it in the evening hours.
Despite not taking a whole bunch of photos lately, I have been keeping up with making at least one scrapbooking page a week. Some weeks, they’re rather unimpressive but it’s about recording what’s gone on, not always having a gorgeous page. I am going to try and pick up my picture-taking so it’s not quite so sad when I open up the week’s folder of photos and see only two in there. I’ll post pages from weeks 5 to I think we’re on 11 later this week. I also still need to finish the last few pages from our last Europe trip. I think maybe two need words then they’ll be done. Oh, and finally print some of these off, likely starting with Europe pages.
Improving the House
Nothing involving power tools or anything but quite an impressive list of small projects:
- Hanging photos everywhere (my friend Lead provided opinions on good locales)
- Installing a door sweep and fixing the screen on the porch door (Matt did most of this)
- Picking out and trying a paint color for our bedroom (liked the color, will paint the whole thing starting this week)
- Buying a new hanging birdfeeder – the old one had old feed permanantly stuck in it
- Cleaning up the leaves / sticks / acorns / randomly strewn bricks in the backyard (Matt did most of the work here but I helped with some pickup and moving of stuff to be picked up to the curb)
Enjoying the weather
Despite being mid-March, it’s been in the high 70s almost every day the last week or so, with mostly clear skies on top of it. We’ve already grilled out twice (burgers then chicken) and enjoyed several evenings of reading on the porch after work. I keep waiting for the weather report to talk about a return to colder temperatures but it’s supposed to remain warm at least for a few more days. Anyone know if this may mean I can get my hands on some good and not very expensive steamed crabs earlier this year than normal? The wait until Memorial Day may be the end of me. Ok, not really. I’m just impatient.
Matt and I started a few weeks ago thinking about taking a summer vacation and where we wanted to go and all that. After lots of thinking and looking around, we decided we’re going to head to Ireland for 10 days in May.
Ever since Matt got me a Kindle about a month ago, I have been reading like a crazy person. I think the first book I read on it was an Agatha Christie book, quickly followed by memoirs, dystopian novellas, more Agatha Christie, two books about WWII with a time travel theme, and, most recently, a thriller. I won’t go into all of the details but you can check out what I’ve read on Good Reads.
So…what’s up with you all?
I was going to make this a post about how I did or didn’t meet my goals for last year then realized I never made any. Sure, I wanted to graduate but, really, was that ever in doubt? (Oh, I hope not.) So, again this year, a year in review.
January: Attempted, yet again, to blog daily which became weekly which became only when I felt guilty that I hadn’t blogged in awhile. Visited the National Building Museum. Started working with the TJ FIRST team. Mostly focused on coding my senior design project. Started a new job.
February: FIRST season concluded and senior design continued. Tried skiing for the first time.
March: Attended the St. Patrick’s parade in Old Town. DC FIRST regional held. Midterms and a big senior design deadline consumed my life. Spring break was spent working and doing school work. Attended Steph’s baby shower.
April: Life consumed by school projects, tests. etc. Traveled to West Point to attend a design competition (and really wished they didn’t have a rule about no AC before 1 may).
May: Wrapped up my last undergraduate semester. Graduated Suma Cum Laude. Celebrated Matt’s grandmother’s 90th birthday. Went to a color theory workshop with Ms Babs.
June: Started first full-time job (and it’s not so fun commute). Started looking at houses. Got back into sewing by making a few handbags (and failed at making myself a skirt).
July: Brutally hot month. Went to more open houses and house tours. Attended the first annual Bontrager cousins reunion in DE. Started digital scrapbooking five years of marriage.
August: Put a bid on a house, counterbid accepted, home inspection, mortgage application, and everything else invovled with buying a house. Felt not nearly as poor as expected at the end of the process. Really started my new job (assignment received). Started a quilt for the first time in four years.
September: Moved into the new house. Held a housewarming party with friends, family, and neighbhors.
October: Spent two and a half week exploring Spain, France, and Italy. Spent the rest of the month starting a new project at work and recovering from being away for so long.
November: Had Thanksgiving at our place, this time with Matt’s parents, Jesse’s family, Alison, and Lucy. Attended the DE reception for Caleb and Karen. Finished making a sweater for myself that actually fit.
December: Enjoyed a realitively warm December. Parents and brother visit for Christmas. Had first year of decorating our own house for Christmas (but settled for just a tree and some lights on a front window).
After Venice, we traveled to Florence and Milan where I took exactly 3 photos. Three photos of the artists painting in the courtyard behind the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. And two are blurry beyond recognition. Here it is: my photo evidence of this part of the trip. You’ll be stuck with just my rambling to fill in the rest.
See, we’d been to Florence before. Last time, I wanted to move there – now downgraded to spending our next Italian trip with Florence as our homebase. I’d already seen the Duomo and other churches, toured the Uffizi and Academia, and spent hours on the banks of the Arno, trying to get that perfect. This time: eh. I just wanted to go shopping and relax (and Matt wanted only to eat well and revisit the Uffizi for the third time).
We did, indeed, shop and eat well. We returned to Mario’s for excellent steak (a whole kilo of it, split between us – and this was after a first course of veggie soup and shrimp pasta). We split 3 sandwiches from the excellent sandwich shop. We picked up a hand-painted ceremic bowl from the same shop we got the coordinating plate last time. I hemed and hawed over buying a leather bag and decided, instead, that I’d probably never use it, anyway.
We also just did a whole lot of sitting and relaxing, rather tired of being tourists.
In Milan, we visited the overpriced but beautiful shopping mall and the cathedral, saw the Last Supper (much bigger than you’d think – it takes up a whole wall), and did more I’m-burned-out-from-traveling sitting and relaxing, this time mostly at our hotel. I didn’t even consider taking photos there, I was so tired of being on the go (and, well, there wasn’t a ton which I wish I’d catpured).
So, yeah, that’s the last part of our visit to Europe. I’m glad to be back home, to my own life though I look forward to our next European trip - a week in Spain with my parents during their Spring Break in 2013.
Despite the fact we were only there for thee nights, I took more photos in Venice than anywhere else besdies the Sagara Familia in Barcelona which was, by far, my favorite place we visited.
Before I looked through my photos, I had the following opinion of Venice: little bit cool with the canals and boats-for-everything-including-garbage-and-UPS and excellent seafood but, eh, too touristy for me. I have no reason to ever go back; it’s expensive, crowded, and seems too much like a run-down Disney World.
After my photos: Oooh! It was so calm and peaceful and beautiful in its own way. Sure, the tourists were annoying but they were easy to get away from. When can we go back?
I think you’ll see why.
Our first full day in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, we decided to take a train to Niemmes. We looked up train schedules and made our way to the train station around 8 am. The SNRF woman took awhile looking at piles of paper and consulting computer screens and finally explained to us that there were no trains to Niemmes but a bus from Avignon.
We should have realized something was up. See, Niemmes is a rather large town. There are typically 10 trains a day running from L’Isle there. But, on this random weekday, there were none.
But, we were adapatable. We would go to Avignon, instead. Famous bridge, Palace of the Popes, more than enough to keep us busy for a day.
While witing the 20 minutes for our train, we saw that the earlier train to Avignon (and another in the opposite direction) never arrived. No problem, we thought, some sort of an accident causing a delay.
Again, we should have realized something was up.
But, we made it to Avignon on a train full of high school students and enjoyed a rather lovely day there.
We saw the famous bridge, no longer connected to the other bank due to a large flood hundreds of years ago (though we were far too cheap to pay to walk along it).
We went and saw the Palace of the Popes. Longest. Audioguide. EVER. But, still, it’s worth a visit if you can get there on a less tour group-overun day than we did. Again, no photos allowed so, instead, here’s a photo of Mary atop the cathedral next door.
And a bonus cathedral photo.
Again, rather lovely day for a visit. Winds were very strong but we’d worn long-sleeve shirts and Matt hadn’t worn his contacts (wind tends to blow sand into them which is rather painful). We even had a very lovely three course lunch.
Then, the trouble came. We were trying to make the 13:57 train and got in line to buy tickets (silly machines not accepting actual cash) about 25 minutes beforehand. Eventually, Matt and I separated – he went to find out about buses and I waited in line for an English-speaking SNCF employee. Come to find out that, oh, they had no trains running and didn’t anticipate having any at all until at least 10 pm.
Quick text message to Matt to tell him this – and that we should head over to the bus station under the Ibis Hotel. We met up halfway there then ran together to try to catch a random bus he’d seen that displayed L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue as its final destination. We thought we’d missed it but I saw the sign out of the corner of my eye and we managed to be the last two people on board before it left. Despite my panic, we made it back to L’Isle 30 minutes later.
Right after we got back, we picked up the car and drove to St Remi and wandered around its very Provencal streets (this is where we got the fresh pasta). Our day probably would have been ruined had we not had that visit. It let us calm down the insanity of almost geting stuck in Avignon*.
We eventually found out why all of the issues with the trains: ticket takers were on strike following the stabbing of a ticket taker on an overnight train.
* Okay, we didn’t almsot get stuck. I just paniced. No trains. No way to really find out the bus schedule – there didn’t seem to be any sort of information kiosk. But, really, we could have always paid for a taxi ride back. It would have been expensive, but we were not really stranded, just delayed. The bus actually cost us five Euros less than the return train trip and only took a few minutes longer.
We spent five days in Provence, renting an apartment just oustide L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a medium-sized village. The apartment was well-appointed with a kitchen (important to Matt) and high speed Internet (important to me). The kitchen gave us the ability to cook dinners from ingredients purchased as the large Intermarche grocery store, farmer’s market, or local shops. We ate very well – favorite meal of mine was on our anniversary: fresh ravioli with ham and cheese from the butcher shop of all places in a simple butter sauce. We drank the wines we’d picked up wine tasting one day and enjoyed getting to splurge at lunchtime due to our much cheaper dinners.
It’s important to note that the temperature was in the upper 60s and we had clear, bright blue skies though there was one weather downside: the mistral. It’s a wind that whips to the Northwest and is strong enough at times to make you feel like you’re goint to get knocked over. Thankfully, we both had wind-resistant jackets but, man, without it – it was freezing! I loved Provence but was more than a little happy to leave the mistral behind when we left.
I feel horrible lumping all of our five day visit to Provence into a single post but, well, I’ve got a problem. I made notes on which towns we visited each day, sure, but which photos go with which town, umm, well, not so much. So, I’ll simply tell you that the photos below come from one of the towns in Provence, the Luberon, or Cote de Rhone. Helpful, huh? You’ll have to come visit, yourself, to do real town identification.
Note: Avignon will get its own post because I know, for sure, which photos were taken there.
(Also, I have a feeling I have a different memory card with more photos on it – that or I was so distracted by the beauty of this region to take any more photos than this. Thse are just the highlights but, still, I must have taken more than 10 photos a day.)
On the way from Carcasonne to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, we stopped at the Pont du Gard, the largest remaining section of a Roman acqueduct. You pay 15 Euros to park your car, but that not only gives you access to the aquaduct but a very lovely museum, nice picnic areas – which must be a zoo in the summer, and several short walking trails. A bit pricey for us but perfect for a family with little kids interested in Roman history.
We walked up one of the trails to where you are high enough up that yuo’re aligned with the top of the structure, although you’re no longer allowed to walk where the water once ran. Also visited the museum which, for a museum all about the importance of water in ancient Rome, was quite interesting and very well done in terms of the incoporation of photos and sound.
It was a really fun little side trip – I liked the pretty views and the ability to walk around and it gave Matt both a driving break and a chance to learn some more Roman history.
Matt’s review of Carcasonne: “I’m surprised Disney hasn’t offered to buy up the entire town and run it.” This very touristy city, known for its town walls, was just plain corny. I was quite happy that we arrived just before dinner and left after breakfast the next morning. The best thing about our visit was the nightime walk between the inner and outer walls. Cool place to visit with small children, but definately worth skipping for grown adults.
And, yes, had we been there when stores were actually open, I would have looked to see if any of them sold the town’s famous board (or is it a card?) game.