Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Eve Brunch

 Welcome 2017!

Won't you please come in and join me for a New Year's brunch?

(Some of my Christmas gifts under the tree)

I set out brunch in my kitchen nook.

I have quiche, scones, and honey butter biscuits.

 I set the table with two new plates I found in Tuesday morning when I was shopping for gifts for my mother (I know, I probably shouldn't have been buying for myself at the same time...)

These dinner plates are Lenox's Butterfly Meadow (which is my every day china), but are Christmas plates with lovely poinsettia.  I didn't even know there were Christmas plates to match! 

I set out two different Christmas teacups.

I also filled my new Spode teapot (a Christmas gift) with a Republic of Tea Christmas blend (Comfort and Joy--delicious!). 
Those are chocolate toffee cookies on my new Royal Albert Christmas Tree sandwich plate--I found it in Homegoods at the beginning of the season (to match my Christmas china!). And my obsession with that store continues...

How about some Raspberry wine as well?

My friend brought it to share.  She belongs to the vineyard's wine club--it is from a winery in Leon, Virginia, and was sweet with a slight tart bite.  Wonderful!  I might have to check out their other wines...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

To end 2016, I figured it was time for a recap of my favorite posts from this year!  Some months may have slim pickings in 2016, but it was a difficult decision for others.  So lets get started!

January:  A (very) snowy day (the blizzard of 2016)

February:  A Valentine's Tea (A trip to Sweet City Desserts for a birthday tea)

July:  Ruby Red

September:  Hawaiian Ti Luau

November:  Pantheon, Palaces, and St. Paul's Outside the Walls (Day 3 of my recap of a trip to Italy in 2015)

Thanks for joining me back down this trip of 2016.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Whovilation!

Welcome to 2016's Whovilation!

The theme for this year's Christmas party is probably pretty's Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The focal point of the decorations--one of my new trees this year--a Whoville Christmas!

 If you've been following my blog, you might have noticed that I have a slight Christmas tree addiction.  I'm one of those people who has multiple trees--all with different themes.

But we're here for a proper Whoville feast fit for a Grinch with a heart (and stomach) that has grown three sizes...

First up, we have Roast Beast and Green Eggs

(or is it that I do so like green eggs and ham?)

Who Hash and Grinch Greens casserole

(Paula Deen's hashbrown casserole and green bean casserole)

And for dessert, Who pudding, Whovilation cupcakes, and Max's Biscuits

(Max's bone shaped Christmas tea cookies!)

(Watergate salad and spiced rum eggnog cupcakes)

I was especially proud of myself for getting the icing the have the green swirl successfully on the first try--there have been failures in the past...

Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp

Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Italy Day 5--Orvieto

Ciao!  So, Day 5. This was our Rome day trip day.  We took a train an hour and a half to Orvieto (pronounced Or-ve-A-toh), a hilltop village in Umbria.  Rome is in Lazio, so this was also a different region of Italy.  The train let us off at the foot of the hill and we took a funicular up it and caught a bus to the old part of town. It was so medieval and cute!

We visited the Duomo (cathedral) first as the bus let us off very close, but the outside was a bit disappointing because the front fa├žade was under scaffolding. 

Here is a picture from the internet:

(found here)

As you can see, it has colorful mosaics on the outside.  Maybe I can see it uncovered the next time I go ;). 

The inside is a bit of an optical illusion. The nave is wider at the back and narrower at the alter, making it seem bigger from the entrance of the church,

versus the altar.

The inside had two beautiful chapels, one dedicated to a holy relic, the Corporal of Bolsena. 

A traveling priest who doubted the host was really the body of Christ found that it bled on his altar cloth and stained it..this was in the 13th century.  The frescos in this chapel tell the story:

That relic is why Orvieto has such a large cathedral and is a seat of a bishop, even though Orvieto is a small town. 

The Chapel of San Brizio had gorgeous frescoes of the Day of Judgment and Life after Death (painted 1499-1504). 

(look at the clothes--very Italian Renaissance)

We next visited some of the small museums nearby (included on a combo ticket),

including some Etruscan artifacts (including tomb remnants, which I couldn't take pictures of, unfortunately).  The Etruscans lived in central Italy (Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio) around 700 B.C. 

This museum also had Christian artwork:

We then started to follow Rick Steve's recommended walk through town.

(Palazzo del Popolo)

We liked wandering so much we decided to ditch our original sightseeing plans.  We walked to the central square (Piazza Repubblica)

 and then went down a small alley to one of Rick Steve's food picks, L'Antica Trattoria dell'Orso (bear!). 

We were the only people in the restaurant, and the owner served us himself and talked about meeting Rick after he saw my guidebook on the table.

He offered us the tasting special, which included three courses (chef's choice) with wine and water for 30 euro for two people, which we thought was a good deal for all the food!  We started with Orvieto's famous white wine, with two types of pasta. 

He next brought veal in a gravy with zucchini and  a salad with olive oil pressed from olives he grew and Moderna balsamic vinegar.

For dessert he brought out tiramisu. 

Everything was so delicious! 

(The bill for a Rick Steves special)

After really only a short period of time for Europe, we were back out sightseeing. 

We went into the church on the square,

the church of Sant'Andrea, with a Romanesque nave, and gothic then renaissance additions...really interesting to see so clearly the different styles. 

We then continued Rick's walk through town,

(courtyard of the Palazzo Filippeschi Simoncelli)

stopping at the last museum on our combo ticket.  This museum was in a former church, Sant'Agostino,

which today houses statutes of the 12 apostles that had at one time been in the Doumo, but were removed to "declutter" the church. 

We were lucky because our next stop, the church at the very end of town, San Giovenale, was supposed to still be closed for lunch, but the priest must have decided to reopen early and we went right in. 

It was very pretty and felt old (and it was--built in 1004).  One of my favorite parts of visiting Europe is walking in these small towns and "finding" really old churches to go in.

The church also had beautiful views over the hills.

We continued with Rick's walk along a portion of the ramparts (because Ovieto is a walled hilltop village),

before walking to another church, Parrocchia San Domenico, recommended to us by a nice guy while we were at the last museum. 

 This church had a monument to Cardinal De Braye, around 1282.
Interestingly, the tomb incorporated Roman art (potentially pre-Christian) that was converted to be a Madonna and child.

Sadly, this is only a small part of the original church.  The Nave (the large central area of the church) was demolished in the 1930s.

After that last church, we walked back to the touristy part of time for a small bit of shopping.  Orvieto is famous for pottery, so I might have come away with a teacup or two. 

We then caught the bus down and wandered around some nearby fortress turned into a park,

before taking the funicular back down to the train station.

After arriving in Rome, we went back to the hotel to pack for our first big move, before heading to dinner at Katherine's favorite place, Piazza Navona, for dinner. 

At our restaurant sitting directly behind us was the American priest with the group of teenagers he had brought to Italy who did the mini-mass I attended the day before.  Definitely a small world!  Bonne noche!