Thursday, October 24, 2013

Italy: Montecarlo, Lucca

Hello Everybody!

Trying to catch up on my posts.  This ipad blogging is a bit of a challenge for me.  However, I'm determined between my phone and this to get 'er done!

We started out the day with a later wake up call.  Had some breakfast and this amazing orange juice that I consume more than my share of every morning.  Fresh squeezed and delicious!  Out the door, we headed to the most amazingly beautiful winery and five course meal.  We had the amazing Anatella (Have no idea whether I'm spelling her name right or not..Sorry Anatella!) show us  around the farm and then the vineyards.  She showed us the olive presses and explained First press and Cold Press to us.  Very interesting.

Next, it was the thing I dreaded most and one of the main reasons Cesar came...The cooking class.  Papa, the chef showed us how to make pasta.  Bowls with flour and an egg were in front of me and I cringed and said just do it Jim!  You are on vacation! As my sister once said, try something new everyday...I can do this.  cracked the egg with shell in bowl...picked the shells out and stirred the four until I had what I thought was a disaster, but Papa ensured me with a nod of his white capped head. I kneaded the mess and added flour until I had a somewhat consistent mixture.  I had somehow managed to throw flour on Kay, give a nice coat of flour to my phone and decorate my apron with an assorted mixture of dough balls and more flour.  Don't ask me how it happens...It just does!

I cut my pasta with a pasta cutter and then looked around to show off what I thought were my most beautiful spaghetti noodles to Cesar and the gang.  Cesar, of course, had perfect noodles and was making ravioli, tortellini and all kinds of stuff...I was just pleased as punch to have made something that even resembled a flippin' noodle!  LOL!  We ended our class and again walked with Anatella for a more informative walk through the vineyards.

The time for the HUGE lunch was ahead.  We were seated and served the antipasti first.  Sun dried tomatoes, salami, prosciutto, olives, bread and more.  Then came the pasta...delicioso...the meats....and the biscotti for dessert.  fantastico!  We had a marvelous time in this beautiful area.

Once back to the albergo, we were so exhausted. I thought I would lay down for a precious hour and a half nap...I even set the alarm clock...I felt once I was down, it was going to be hard to get back up...Lawd have mercy on the weary!

Almost immediately, I fell quickly into a much needed afternoon siesta.  The phone rang 20 minutes later and Johnna whispered into the receiver..."We have found a store that we all need to go to.  It's only 10 kilometers away (in some city I would never be able to recall)..hurry and throw on your jeans and let's go."......I have no idea what 10 kilometers means, but Cesar, Johnna, Darcie and I were off on an adventura...and folks it was an adventure for sure.  

The sisters had talked with the front information desk and one of the clerks told them about this amazing store.  The clerk called to see if the store was open ( the shops close here after lunch and reopen around 4 or 4:30 and stay open until 7 or 8.)  We were good to go. They called a taxi and gave Johnna the number and address to the shop.

We were off...Y'all, there is no thrill ride at any amusement park that beats a 10 kilometer ride through the winding hillside roads of Italy in a speeding taxi!  I just learned to NEVER EVER WITH SUGAR ON TOP look out the front window when in an Italian taxi...look down into your the person next to you and maybe a quick peek out the passenger window, but never watch where you are going...and one other quick Italian tip...keep everything that you love and want inside the open taxi window...

I honestly do not know what the speed limit is on the roads here.  I have no idea if there is a speed limit...If there is...they wouldn't care...Our driver was hyped up on espresso and drove the auto thought narrow lanes at death defying speeds.  Thoughts of Grace Kelly  driving around the corners of Italy at high velocita came quickly to mind.  It was actually a blast.  

We were there in no we drove up we saw all these amazing vintage items in the window.  The anticipation grew. We were ready. As the taxi was letting us out, we all noticed that the stores lights were out and they were closed for the day. Ahhhhh!  Disappointment and disbelief set in. We were so close to all the amazing eye candy that would be potential treasures to pass on for generations...ok, a bit thick, but the glance we had through the shop windows did give one goose bumps of excitement. 

We decided to call the store as the hotel clerk was kind enough to write it down for her.   I dialed the number and handed the phone to she was the Rosette Stone Queen.  She started talking and said things like..."Buono Sera...." which sounded so authentic...I was so glad to be on an adventura with someone who at least could communicate.   Next came, "Are you still open...yes you you're not does that mean you are you speak English?"  Frustrated she handed the phone to Cesar who knows Spanish but broken Texas Mex Spanish.  Cesar spoke a few words that I was proud he knew and still no comprende..the phone was shoved to the taxi driver's ear who didn't speak one word of English, but knew somehow by magic what we were trying to relay..He said something beautiful in Italian to the person on the other end and hope was insight that we would be able to enter this amazing vintage store...He started laughing hysterically....we waited for some announcement. And he turned and said we had been calling and talking to the taxi service the whole time!  Not the store...Good Gravy!

So to make a long story short...the store was closed...we had an amazing ride and we ended up shopping and eating our way back to the hotel... I finally got to take a nap...

Have an awesome day!

The Gentleman Crafter

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Italy: Siena

Good Evening or Morning!

Well, I've been trying to get my blog posts ready on the bus each day.  I went to paste yesterday's post tonight and selected all to copy and it didn't come with me.  Lost forever.  That's so frustrating right....

That's OK... I will start again....

We drove up to Siena which is about due (two) hours away.  We walked around the ancient red-brown walls into the city.  We met up with our tour guide and donned "whispers."  A little machine you place around your neck with an earpiece.  as the guide talks you can here what she says.

We walked into the Church of Santa Dominico.  Not a grand church with all the ornament, but a simple church that had the most beautiful 13 century frescos on the ceiling.  One thing that stand out clearly is the chapel of St. Catherine.  We walked over to view her remains...St. Catherine's skull and finger.  The skull is encased in a glass cabinet surrounded by beautiful painting.  It's a bit eerie, but I totally get the whole relic thing.

Next, was into the baptistery with all it's beautiful frescos.  Fantastico...Actually, the wood paneling in this room was outstanding.  We had a brief spin into the gift shop and proceeded outside again to meet the tour guide.  A look around from the steps of the church you see people everywhere from everywhere.  towers and mysterious lanes abound.  Simple beautiful and this total sense of old beauty, if you will.

We continued down the snaked streets to the Piazza Del Campo .  You guys, this is an amazing site to behold.  You are completely encircle by amazing architecture.  It seems like all the buildings are up higher on the hill and the middle of the piazza is down almost in a conical form.  Can't explain.  It is overwhelming to see.

Well, it was free time.  We found a paper store that was the size of an elevator.  However, we paper crafters were on a feeding frenzy and it didn't matter. Somehow we all fit into the shop and started buying up the place...hoards of hand marbled papers, block prints, glass calligraphy pens and seals with wax.   An amazing store.  Next, it was on to other shops that had wonderful prints, shops with ceramics, shops with puppets and so on.  Whatever your heart desires, Siena has it...

Then came lunch at Cafe Nannini.   I had the most amazing calzone that was chock full of ham, mushrooms and cheese.  It was the size of the spare tire I affectionately call my waist.  Huge!  So delicioso!  I actually had a Coke.  Hadn't had one of those for months.  Ohhhh it tasted even better in Siena on the Piazza...lucious! LOL!

After lunch, we met at the fountain and walked back to the bus.  And what a walk it was after the massive calzone lunch.  I kept saying to myself, this hill is going to take the calories from two mushrooms away...I hoped anyway.  We loaded the bus and found ourselves napping back to Montecatini Terme.. I was was spent.

We changed clothes and went to the dining room as a group for dinner.  It was delcious as all food here in Italy is.  Next up, was Tim's class and I really really had a blast learning to use the water brush and the markers for a watercolor effect on watercolor paper.  After class we gathered to work on our Tuscany Travel Journals in the lounge.  It's so fun to be with like minded crafters...everyone so kind and sharing Things Found during the days journey.

Then it was off to bed for an 7 a.m. Wake up call for the Fattoria il Poggio...

Pictures can be found on my Facebook page...

Have a wonderful night...


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Italy: San Gimignano

Good Morning from the bus.  Today we are off to San Gimignano. It was hard getting up as the rain hitting the shuttered walls to the pensionne sent me back to slumber land.

A beautiful breakfast was served. Eggs, barely cooked bacon...but oh so good...and a croissant and juice is my usual morning fare. The breakfast layout is amazing and filled with cheeses, fruits, pastries and just about anything you could wish for. Just beautiful. 

With stout coffee finally infused into my bloodstream, I was ready to explore Italy and spend a few Euros that have been eating a hole in my cut proof, thief proof, water proof super wallet. 

Off we go to San Gimignano...did I say it was raining earlier?  Well, it was pouring now. A stop at an autogrill for a pee break in a one holer had us lined up and giggling over mini tic tac case filled with about 5 candies. They were all sold off the shelf by departure. 

Next, we rolled just outside the walled city and disembarked the bus. The rain still pouring. A walk inside the city gates instantly brought you instantly back to ancient days. Narrow cobblestone roads snake up to the piazza.  The stores on each side of the "road" are filled with ceramics, clothing, leather bags, perfumes, lotions, all kinds of souvenirs, and even a meat shop selling pastrami and other sausage looking things.

I walked into a little shop and purchased some amazing little leather bound journals and ....CRACK!!!!! Thunder louder than any I had ever heard before.  I'm guessing ricocheting from the stone walls and ancient cobblestone roads....The clerk jumped in fear...actually we all did...and the electricity went out in San Gimiagno.  Not wanting to give up these amazingly fabulous leather albums, rain or thunder, we laid Euros down and told her to keep the change. 

The rain came down in torrents. For some insane reason, this dark rainy day made it just that much more fun, mysterious and adventurous. The rain was coming down so hard, water poured out of my shoes, pants were soaked, jacket drenched and cheap travel umbrella bent and tuned upside down.  But I still found myself having the best time of my life. 

We came down the hill, outside the gate and ran into the Super Mercado... the grocery...for Italian paper glue, my infamous Monster energy drink and some dry socks. Ahhhh. Now a quick que for the autobus and we were off to the winery. 

San Donato Winery...

This truly magical place is a photographer's dream.  What am I's a dream for anyone who is lucky enough to cross through it's rusted gates..

Lunch was served in Tuscano style...Good Gravy on Biscuits folks...This was just like a Thanksgiving spread...let me see...onions, cheeses, olives, prosciutto, salami, genoa, a wonderful salad made from spelt, olive oil drizzled brochette and so many more fantastic Tuscan delicacies. Lunch ended when Biscotti was served and I was out of that chair faster than lightning.  This was an amazing amazing place to explore and photograph. 

An hour and a half bus ride and we were back and ready for a warm shower and a change of clothes. 

Maybe a nap I thought??? But the sounds of the shops on the piazza beckoned me to release more Euros...I found a wonderful gallery store that sold amazing papers and such and felt like I scored. 

Dinner was next...we met 10 others from our group in the lobby and off we went for a truly romantic trek down the hill to Cibus. Trying to be Italian, I of course goofed and had an amazing piece of lasagna first and then for my main course ended up with a quite remarkable Salas with greens, black olives and slivers of Parmigiano cheese. Delicioso... 

We wobbled so over stuffed to the gelateria for a pistachio gelato....Bahahaha. But you have to eat right?  

A wonderful wonderful magical dark day.  So many cool memories. 

Sorry about not adding pictures. Please check out Facebook for the days pics..


The Gentleman Crafter

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Italy: Pisa

Buona Sera!

Blogging from my it's tough.  Can't seem to get my photos to my I pad for some reason....same for the international calling plan that I have tried to do...purchased the plan, but no luck...oh well....I figure it out..LOL

So just want to say I'm having a total blast and share some pics..Tim's Class this morning and then on to Pisa.

Well, that was really slow...I guess I will share my pictures via check them out there.

Have an excellent night...

The Gentleman Crafter

Friday, October 18, 2013

Going on an ADVENTURE!

Good Afternoon Everyone!

As you know by now, we are off on an adventure of a lifetime.  Cool places to see, new friends to meet and just an exciting time.  Tim Holtz Tuscany 2013...

We got to New York yesterday and enjoyed the city with my friend Marjie Kemper who was kind enough to show us around.  Thank you Marjie...I have been to New York before, but it's so cool to see it through others eyes.  The subway...a new experience was clean and easy...We all had a blast seeing all the coolest sites..Statue of Liberty, St. Pat's Cathedral, the 9-11 Memorial and the list goes on.

The night was topped off with a MARVELOUS dinner at Sarabeth's...We were all so tired from our early morning alarm call to get here that we cackled and laughed all the way through dinner.  It was such fun and then a walk back to the hotel in the rain...hysterical...Great memories...

We are at the airport waiting for the next step of this adventure to begin and I thought I would take a second to say Ciao and see you in Italy...

Wish us a safe flight if you will....

Thanks for coming by!

The Gentleman Crafter

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Stream Tonight

Hello all....just wanted to pop in and say no Take Out Tuesday tonight.  I've got so many things to get done between now and tomorrow afternoon to get ready for the trip.

Sorry about the delay on letting you all know.

Will blog soon about all the travel deets...

Have an awesome day...

The Gentleman Crafter

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Week! It's In The Bag!

Good Morning Everybody!

Wow!  What a busy week last week was!  I think every spare minute was filled with something.  Now that I look back on it and have a second to blog it, It reminds me of  how wonderful it really was!

You may not know the whole scoop and I may not be able to tell you everything, but here are some of the things that happened all at once.  The fun filled weekend learning so many AMAZING new techniques in Dyan Reaveley's class at the Crafty Scrapper...I had a brand new store to open where I work.  A complete blank space that needed to have furniture, fixtures, merchandise and equipment installed.  The grand opening was Thursday.  Dyan came to visit us, which sends bits of thrilled panic into the mix.  I wanted it to be a great place for her to come and relax....Was the house clean enough? Are the sheets clean?  Studio picked up?  Do we have Oatmeal?  Those kinds of things.... and then the Epic Adventure Kathy, Kathryn and I announced Thursday with a three step video tutorial.  Epic Paper Art's, Steampunk Soiree.

It's been a whirl wind of excitement...I have loved every minute of it.  To me it was an adventure and I thank God that Cesar cleaned the house, Dyan enjoyed herself, the store opening was a success, and we have had so many people sign up for the Steampunk Soiree....Kathryn's announcement with makeup and a steampunk green screen still gives me chills... She's amazing!

So now, I am literally taking a deep breath and going back through some of the pictures I have taken to enjoy...I thought I would share them with you all.  Then, I need to get up and get to think ITALY! We leave Thursday for New York and my suitcases are still empty....

My Week...

First it was off to the Meet and Greet and classes with Dyan at the Crafty Scrapper...

Next it was time to pack up!
With the packing done and the tubs taken to UPS... I was ready to spend time with my lovely friend Dy!
I had to take her to West for Kolaches!  It's just one of those things you do right!
Once we were home, we went shopping...So Much Fun!
The Halloween Store.  We laughed so hard at this animated attacked dog that jumped out at you.  We totally did not expect that.  I think Dyan had to pick me up from the floor....Wussss!

Then over to Hobby Lobby.....

Then back home for some rest and relaxation....

The next day, I popped into work to check on things and I am so grateful for everyone who helped me get the new store together....Then we were off for a bit more shopping....

Then sadly, it was time for Dy to leave and we met Carolyn from the Crafty Scrapper in Waco at Collin Street Bakery to deliver the Queen...
I don't think I laughed so hard in my life these three days!  Thank You Dyan for bringing life and fun into the house! You are such an inspiration to all of us!  Love you!  J.

Then it was time to drive from Waco to Austin to get the store ready for it's debut.....

and last but not leas,t the Youtube Launch Party for the Steampunk Soiree in Washington, D.C.  If you haven't signed up, do it now....Space is limited!
Go Here to Check It Out....
Well Off to do some ATC's and Pack!  See y'all before I leave....
The Gentleman Crafter

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Today's The Day For An Epic Announcement!

Good Moring All!

Well, the day you have finally been waiting for is at hand!  So cool and very exciting!!!

Make sure you attend the LIVE ANNOUNCEMENT TONIGHT and a sign up for a chance to win an AMAZING Prize....

When:  9:00 p.m. Eastern/8:00 p.m. Central

            Thursday, October 10, 2013


See you tonight!  It's Going To Be Epic!


The Gentleman Crafter

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It Takes a Village, Part 3: The Epic Village Shoppe

Good Morning Everyone!

Something Epic is coming Tomorrow!!!!  Can't Wait!  Pleas join Kathy Orta-Files of Paper Phenomenon, Kathryn Krieger of Kathryn Scraps and myself for our last day of the Epic House Series Blog Hop...Yep, It's Part 3 of how to make a decorative house that will be awesome in a set when completed!!

Remember an EPIC announcement will be made live at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/8:00 p.m. Central, tomorrow, Thursday, October 10, 2013! Click here to bookmark the link:  You won't want to miss this announcement - it's going to be EPIC!!! Be sure to visit Kathy and Kathryn, then check back here tomorrow.

Visit Kathy HERE at Paper Phenomenon

Visit Kathryn HERE at Kathryn Scraps

Here's is Step 3 on my take of the house challenge....

VIDEO IS COMING!!!  I'm having problems uploading the video this morning!  Check back around noon.....Sorry!!!  It's coming...

Epic Announcement Tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

The Gentleman Crafter

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It Takes a Village, Part 2: The Epic Village Shoppe

Good Morning Everyone!

Something Epic is coming!  Kathy Orta-Files of Paper Phenomenon, Kathryn Krieger of Kathryn Scraps and I are blog hopping this week with Part 2 of our Epic house series. 

Remember there is an Awesomely Epic Announcement on Thursday that will be made live at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/8:00 p.m. Central on Thursday, October 10, 2013! Click here to bookmark the link:  So, make sure you check out our blogs this week as we will each be featuring a 3-step tutorial on how to make a decorative house that would be awesome in a set when completed.

Visit Kathy HERE at Paper Phenomenon

Visit Kathryn HERE at Kathryn Scraps

Here's the video tutorial for Step 2 on my take of the house challenge....

Make sure you check back to each of our blogs this week for more steps on making these GREAT houses and for an Epic announcement on Thursday!

Have a TERRIFIC Tuesday!

The Gentleman Crafter

Monday, October 7, 2013

It Takes a Village, Part 1: The Epic Village Shoppe

Good Morning Everyone!

To celebrate something exciting that is coming up VERY soon, Kathy Orta-Files of Paper Phenomenon, Kathryn Krieger of Kathryn Scraps and I are blog hopping Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with a really COOL announcement that will be made live at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/8:00 p.m. Central on Thursday, October 10, 2013! Click here to bookmark the link:

You won't want to miss this announcement - it's going to be EPIC!!! Be sure to visit Kathy and Kathryn, then check back here tomorrow. We will each feature a 3-step tutorial on how to make a different decorative house. These houses will look awesome as a village when completed.

Visit Kathy HERE at Paper Phenomenon

Visit Kathryn HERE at Kathryn Scraps

Here are a few snaps of the Epic Village Shoppe dressed up for Christmas....

Here's the video tutorial for Step 1 on my take of the house challenge....

Make sure you check back to each of our blogs this week for more steps on making these GREAT houses and for an Epic announcement on Thursday!

Have a Marvelous Monday!

The Gentleman Crafter

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lady Dy Takes Waxahachie!

Good Evening Everybody!

We have been having such an AMAZING time learning from the Queen of Dylusions, Dyan Reaveley this weekend at the Crafty Scrapper!  Wow!  It's what... 10:47 p.m. and I'm totally exhausted!  The kind of tired where you are all inky and don't even care.  LOL!

We had an excellent day learning tons of new techniques with her stamps, sprays and stencils.  We learned new ways to use our art journal and I fell in love with ALL her new stencils once again!  Doesn't take much!

Since I'm about to go chase Crushed Grape and Squeezed Orange dreams, I will leave you with a few pictures of last night's meet and greet and today's class....

Thanks for coming by everyone!  And remember something Epic is coming next week!

The Gentleman Crafter

Friday, October 4, 2013

OFF To Get My Dylusions On!

Good Morning Everybody!

Off to The Crafty Scrapper in Waxahachie, Texas today to get my Dylusion on.  Dyan Reaveley's teaching a class this weekend and how could I miss that!  This amazingly talented woman will teach us so many things that I can't wait!  Good Friends, Wonderful Store, and Excellent times await....

Well, my bag is not packed, but half the stuff is on my bed and the other half is on the kitchen counter. My little organizational system...Somehow it all just needs to get into the car.  So, I find myself uploading videos for a really cool announcement coming next week, working on a project, picking up the house, packing and then out the door by noon.

As I tape a piece of paper to a project, I then move to picking up clothes from the floor....Ink some edges, start some wash....Check that the video is still uploading (CRAZY BAD INTERNET CONNECTION HERE FOLKS!) and then over to the bedroom to think about what shorts that I can still fit into....That's how it's rolling this morning! LOL!

So hopefully, I will blog and post some pictures of our classes with Lady Dy.  It's going to be a fun weekend...I can't wait!

See ya on the road!

The Gentleman Crafter

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Yep... Got Dylusional Last Night!

Good Morning Everybody!!!

Want to take a moment and thank everyone for coming by Take Out Tuesday's Ustream Show last night!  I had a blast playing in my Dylusions Creative Journal with Dyan's  new Halloween stamps!  Such Fun!  It was good to see everyone having a good time.

As I said so many times, getting out my journal and BEING FREE to create is the coolest release for me.  I just let go and play like I was 10 again!  If you need stress relief in your life, try it...You might like it!  There are NO rules....Just be Free...Who cares... it's your journal....Your art.

Here's how last night's pages came out....

Well, that's it for today!  I hope you have an WONDERFUL Wednesday!

The Gentleman Crafter