Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Wedding Quilt FINISHED

It's finished! I started this quilt at the end of September and actually had it finished in time to wrap it and take it with me to Tennessee last weekend.

I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out. I'm so darn picky about colors. If I could go back I would probably tweak them a little (Sorry, Jenn!) But since the otherwise awesome quilt store 2 blocks from my work doesn't carry solids, I was pretty much out of luck or up to dying my own.

(And as an aside: why are quilt store ladies so freakin' grouchy? I mean, really? It's not a place anyone HAS to go. It's a store for something fun. I brought 2 quilts in there to find backing for, and no one even wanted to see them. The owner did say something snarky about how my wedding quilt had a LOT of colors in it. And that clearly wasn't a plus in her book.)

I love the way you can see what's on the front through the "quilting". I'm not sure you can call it quilting since I used embroidery thread. I loved working on this quilt by hand. It sat on my lap through several Netflix movies.

Movies watched while quilting:
the entire first season of the HBO series Rome (very violent. Yuck)
Run, Fat Boy, Run
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Love in a Time of Cholera
Feast of Love
Baby Mama
Death at a Funeral
and many, many episodes of The Office and 30 Rock.

I resisted the urge to wash and dry this to make it look more "quilty" But perhaps Jenn will do that. I did wash all the fabric before I sewed it together since I was making it for someone else and I didn't want it to be screwed up or run when they washed it later.

I take some sort of sick pleasure from embroidering. I wonder why. And I wonder why I consider it to be a guilty treat. Maybe because I could do this so quickly on my machine, but instead insist on spending a couple hours doing it--even though I'm not that good at it. Or because I know it plays to my neurotic love of tiny tiny work. I also love doing really picky photo touch-ups in Photoshop, which is just weird.

I love how the signature looks--sort of beaded.

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Posted by Beth Howard @ 7:00 PM :: (2) comments

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Wedding of Jenn and Aaron

Cedarwood, Nashville, Tennessee. 6pm. Friday.

I'm not sure where you start with describing your dear friends' wedding. Just a few adjectives: Romantic. Loving. Candlelit. Warm. Affectionate. Artistic. Beautiful. Autumnal. Sweet. Perfect. So Jennifer and Aaron.

I didn't take many photos during the wedding because I didn't want to cause a distraction or bother the bride and groom. I figure they hired a photographer for a reason.

I took many befores and afters, though! I love this blurry shot of Jenn and her bridesmaids. She wore a mustard colored J.Crew cardigan on top of her dress--so pretty!

The flowers were gorgeous. I probably took 30 photos of them. The late afternoon sun was shining through some clouds, so the light was perfect!

Two words: Pumpkin cake. Oh. Yeah. Jenn made this cake topper all by her little self! Amazing, no? I spied a little scrap of some vintage fabric that I handed down to Jenn as I was moving. Excellent!

These were the favors. Delicious and very personal. They had a little Tennessee vs. Arizona theme going. Dinner was a fajita bar and pulled pork, and it was delicious!

Before the wedding I arranged and rearranged these bowls, some photos and napkins. I went back and Cedarwood's slightly witchy wedding coorinator arranged them differently. Not badly, just differently. So I re-re-arranged them, and she re-re-re-arranged them. She won.

Complete pics here.


Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:52 PM :: (5) comments

Monday, October 27, 2008

The road to Montalcino


A Little medieval hill town just 20 minutes (only 7 miles, but the curviest darn roads you've ever seen!) from our farmhouse. Famous for its wine, the Brunello, which grows everywhere below the city walls, Montalcino is a tiny but pristine hamlet.

I guess this is just small town Italy--much different from small town Missouri.

I suspect on a clear day you could really get an amazing shot of the valley.

This day was on and off rainy, but not so much that it impeded my shopping in the flea market. I'm still regretting the wooden bead necklace I didn't buy. It has been 8 years since I last went to Italy. Back then I had no money, no big city shopping experiece, and certainly no where near the level of internet availability we have now.

I kept seeing trinkets and treasures I would normally have snatched up, but I kept thinking: I could probably get this on the internet. How strange. And sort of sad. I was also looking for a reason not to buy things since we carried our luggage on. And we had to budget for Tiramisu AND gelato everyday.

This is a wine shop--enoteca--in an old fort at the cornerstone of the city. We tasted 4 Brunelli before settling on glasses for ourselves. Nothing like a heady red wine at 11am. I love Italy. That said, neither Jason nor I are sophisticato enough to really appreciate a $30 glass of wine. This stuff was delicious, and definitely a mandatory part of the experience, but honestly, most of the time we had the house wine with dinner. Which was still a LOT better than cheap wine here in the states. I would love to go back on an educational wine trip.

We drove another 10 minutes to the Abbey at Sant Antimo, which is fully functioning as a farm, vinyard and monkery, uh, I mean monastery.

The Abbey was founded around 780AD and the church was first built in 1200 or so. Take that, Colonial Williamsburg!

Mmmm farmy goodness.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:37 AM :: (1) comments

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Honeymoon II--the FOOD

Okay, okay. I didn't mean for yesterday's post to be a pity party, but THANK YOU all so much for your sweet comments. I think I just needed a reminder that you're all out there--and for those of you that know me personally, especially in Nashville and far away places, I miss you all and I'm so glad that I still have this way of communication with you!

So, I liked Tisra's idea of breaking it up into sections. So today's is FOOD. Thanks to a skyrocketing Euro to Dollar ratio, most of the usual tourist trinkets one might purchase seemed outrageously expensive. That and Jason is the most annoying person to shop with on the face of the earth. Love ya, babe, but seriously.

So instead of boxer shorts with Micheangelos' ahem...likeness... on them, we ate (and maybe drank a little) our spending money. And it was so worth it. The town up the road from our farmhouse, Pienza, is a tiny town. There were about 6 restaurants, and we ate at 5 of them. All little trattorias run by familys and with about 15 tables. We truly had some amazing food.

The first night we were there, we ate at a place called Latte di Luna (Milk of the Moon, I believe). Jason ordered Pici al Ragu--handmade noodles in the rustic local tradition with a special meat sauce. He tried it, liked it, then ordered an entire 2nd order and proceeded to eat it. I drank more wine. Oh, and that's my gnocchi up there--unbelievably delicious.

We made it a point to eat bruschetta at every single restaurant. This is some homemade mozzarella on this version. Wow. Pecorino was famous in the area where we stayed, and we ate quite a bit of that while sitting on the patio at the house. And while we were there, Pienza held their Feria de Cacio--festival of cheese. They take cheese seriously. These are my kind of people.

In Florence, we went to the central market--a favorite place from my summer there in college. It smelled just the same as I remembered!

Unfortunately, while in the market we saw lots of defeathered fowl. Unfortunate because when we stopped for lunch at an Ecuadorian restaurant--a chicken burrito and sangria for 5 Eure--my stomach was a little shaky about eating chicken with skin and tiny hairs still on it. But the change in flavors from the ragu that is so prevalent was nice.

Hmmm...they love pork in Tuscany. We stopped in a little butcher shop where they had a giant pig and were chopping it for people, but we (I) chickened out before it was our turn to order.

And now it's time for the dessert portion of the program. Cookies, gelato, what more is there? Tiramisu, that's what more. Our favorite place to eat was a tiny roadside outdoor cafe in Radicofani--we had ravioli that was handmade and to die for, and then I ordered this Tiramisu.

Jason doesn't even like tiramisu, so imagine my outrage when he tried to eat all of mine! He had to order his own. I'm not sure what it was about this particular kind, but it was creamy and heavenly. This is how we felt afterward:

And we may have had a little wine. What? It was our honeymoon!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 12:06 AM :: (6) comments

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Honeymoon--a little belated

It's now been more than a month since our honeymoon in Italy--and I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to post the pictures. It was such a spectacular trip that I don't think my photos do it justice--and I don't think I can write enough about it to describe all the wonderful things we did.

And honestly, I'm not sure if all you readers out there are all that interested in the writing of things.

Time for introspection: Why do I think that? Is it because I'm a skimmer by nature? But I always read my friends' blogs and what they have to say, so they're all reading mine most likely...hmm. Okay time to actually write this blog.

We rented a car in Rome and drove into the Tuscan countryside to stay at out lovely Agritourism, Terrapille. Agritourisms are all over Tuscany, you can drive down the road and see dozens of signs pointing you to a farm and a bed to sleep in.

We would highly recommend staying in one of these--there are tons of websites listing amenities, etc. They're homelike, affordable, and if you really want to immerse yourself in culture, this is the way to go. Basically, they are farmhouses that sit on actual working farms. Like B&Bs, they usually give you breakfast. In our case, we thought we would get to have a home-cooked authentic Italian supper, but the parents of Lucia, our host, were in Sicily, and she didn't think she could do justice for her mother's cooking. Sad for us.

Each day we had a quick breakfast at the house, then took off in our little stick-shift Fiat up the gravel road and off into the countryside. We explored country roads and wound our way up and down hills the likes of which I've only seen in the Ozarks--and people were passing each other right and left! I really loved driving. It was quite simple, and the roads and attractions are so well marked with signs that you barely need a map. And yes, in Italy, they drive on the right (correct) side of the road. Except for the refilling with gas situation, which was confusing. And one day in Siena we turned a couple of wrong turns and ended up in the historical center--in a car, which is sort of a no-no. We gunned it up a street so narrow that we had to pull the mirrors in and honk the horn to make people move. After that Jason said I deserved 2 gelatos!

This is the Abbey of Sant' Antimo. They are Gregorian monks who chant 7 times a day. We explored the grounds and stayed for the chanting. We were only minorly distracted by the new young monk wearing a white polo shirt with the collar popped and jeans.

Here is the upstairs communal apartment at Terrapille. Our room was lovely with a king sized bed and bathroom, but I never took a photo of it. Sometimes I'm just lazy with my camera.

This is the view from the living room up to the medieval hill town of Pienza--where we ate dinner every night.

And scenes from Pienza.

We also went to Florence for a day of hot touristy action, and despite it being my favorite city on Earth, after staying in the peaceful countryside, we were sort of overwhelmed by the crowds and noise.

At the end of the trip we spent 2 days in Rome. I haven't like Rome in the past, but staying in a high-end hotel and eating dinner in Trastevere made me love it much more this time around.

So that's the abbreviated version. If you want to hear more or have questions, let me know. I'm trying to figure out what my problem is with blogging recently--not that I don't want to, but sometimes spending so much time crafting a post to send out into the blind universe seems strange and slightly pointless. I need to know that someone is reading--and I know you are, Dad, and thank you, but I need to know about other people too. :)

If you want to see all the photos you can go to my flickr page--there are about 350 out of 800 there.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:10 PM :: (8) comments