Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Portia's Summer Camp

I signed Portia up for a little music camp while Bianca was away. It wasn't actually playing but a movement and music class at the school where Bianca goes to orchestra, Gifted Music School. It was low key musical camp and about stories behind some classical music and dancing and they even got to do some art work (see that scenery?).

Portia even made a couple friends and really enjoyed her time. They had a recital at the end of the week for the parents to watch.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A month away (Bianca's off to Indiana for music camp)

We put Bianca on a plane to Indiana for a month for music camp at the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana. All of a sudden our house felt so empty. She didn't seem nervous at all about it, but I was. She's never had to take care of herself before and even had to do her own laundry in the dorms. She had a roommate (ironically named Gina, hahaha) and made a ton of friends.

I had a rule that she had to send me a picture a day (since she didn't hardly ever call). They were required to practice four hours a day, plus time spent in lessons, practicing with their chamber group, the viola choir, and attending concerts at night. Here are some of the photos she sent.

In the viola competition, she got second place (they all had to play the same pieces, which were the 3rd and 4th movements of the Telemann Viola Concerto. 

Here's the viola choir when they performed together.

And they had a recital for the pieces they learned while they were there. Here is Bianca playing the 2nd movement of the Handel Viola Concerto (wearing a borrowed dress as I hadn't realized I was supposed to send her with something fancy like the dress she wore here).

But wow, I know she was working hard (and playing hard too) and am so impressed with all she learned.

Until next summer...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Lake Powell 2015

Yep, we were crazy. We got off our flight, drove home, dropped off our bags and picked up new pre-packed bags (I cut some of my peonies that were in full bloom and were drooping their heads onto the ground) and drove another four hours to Lake Powell. Thank goodness Eric is able to stay awake because the girls and I slept the whole time. The cat and dog were not impressed with this situation at all!

I put the vase of peonies on the nightstand of our room in the houseboat because they only bloom once a year and I adore them—and their scent—and I wasn't going to lose my last chance to enjoy them for the year. They were especially gorgeous this year and mostly dead when we returned.

We were still recovering from the time change and the jet lag so we napped a lot and relaxed (we really did have a vacation to recover from our vacation)!

Another great week at Powell. We played games, laid in the sun, played on the boats, jet skis, went paddleboarding (my favorite!), watched movies, slept in, didn't get dressed or wear makeup.

The kids made friends with the other kids on the boat and we ate well (of course, we had to cook our mandatory three meals for everyone) and had a blast! The girls had to practice their instruments, but that's a small price to pay.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Day Nine—Padua & Back to Rome & Back Home

We spent our last full day in Italy in Padua, the setting place of The Taming of the Shrew (Bianca's play). First, we checked out of our cute Verona apartment and they let us leave our bags at the manager's office. We took the train again, then started walking.

Padua is a university town so we started at the university. On our walk there, we came across this beautiful flowering tree (I wish I knew what kind of tree it was. The flowers were gorgeous!)

We spent half the day hunting down bathrooms. We had an amazing lunch at a small local restaurant called Osteria de Capo. I had the white vegetarian lasagnette. We all had great meals, actually.

And the restaurant's bathroom had just the hole in the middle of the tile. Portia really had to go so I took off her shoes, everything, and held her over the hole. I decided I didn't need to use the restroom that much.

Next we wandered back to a circular park, crowned with statues and surrounded by a canal.

We visited several churches and Basilicas and the girls lit a candle for Grandma Quigley. The stone was so cold on the floor that we stayed for a while and cooled off, letting our feet settle from all the walking.

We did a bit more shopping, then took the train back to Verona.

When we got back to Verona, we stopped at a gelateria the LDS sister missions (who we ran into several times in Verona) recommended, called La Romano Gelato. Wow, it was amazing!!! They filled the tip of the cone with hot nutella and I ordered the white mint (Menta Bianca) and chocolate. Best gelato in Italy, methinks! 

We walked back to get our bags, tried a type of soda called Crodino (ginger & orange), then stopped for dinner at Bella Napoli Pizzaria since we had nowhere else to go until our train left late that night.I had the Bianca quatro formaggio one last time. I'm really going to miss the pizza here.

Our train (a sleeping train) left at 11:30pm. Mom, Bianca, Portia and I all shared a 4-person bunk room. It was loud and hot and I didn't get much sleep because the train kept stopping and going all night, and I was worried Portia was going to roll out of the top bunk. We arrived in Rome at 6am. Nothing was open so we went to airport. Trip over. We'll miss you, Beautiful Italy!

Doors of the Day:

Friday, June 5, 2015

Italy Day Eight—Verona Again

Today we decided to slow things down a bit and stick around Verona another day. We slept in and ventured out late in the morning. We did a little more shopping (tons of shops here in Verona and we're staying right in the middle of it!). We also went to the old area of Verona, where you can see the old, ancient original streets of Verona below.

We ate at a restaurant we'd been trying to get into for a while, called Al Pompiere. Eric thought it was the best meal of our entire trip. I had the local "beef cheek" and we all started off with the local meats and cheeses. Really, really good food!

We rested at the apartment for a bit after lunch, then mom and I took Portia to the Adige River (with Castelvecchio in the background) where it's shallow to let her kick around in the water some more. This time in her swimsuit. It was so hot outside and the water so cold, that I put my feet in and pretty much stayed in until Portia was done.
We met up with Eric and Bianca (who had gone shopping) afterward and stopped for gelato on the way back. I had chocolate mixed with cinnamon and ginger. Interesting.

We had to pack up our things tonight as we have to check out of the apartment in the morning. Mom, Bianca, Portia and I went on a short evening stroll back to the old Verona streets so mom could take some more photos. We spent the rest of the evening playing Kings on the Corner (our go-to vacation game), packing up and eating the macaroons mom bought. My favorite was the chocolate/coconut mix. BTW, did I mention the amazing chili pepper & chocolate macaroon I had in Venice? Um, so good. Also, I found my favorite soda they only carry in Mexico and Italy, Mojito Soda. Love!!!

Doors of the Day:

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Italy Day Seven—Venice

Today we all got up early and walked to the train station to go to Venice. The train ride over was pleasant; we rode first-class and I read the whole hour and a half.

As usual, we started out just wandering around Venice. There are canals everywhere. It was hot and sunny all day. We did a little shopping, popping in to this shop or that, as we walked. We stopped for sandwiches (mine was shrimp & aragula). They blend up all the meat and add mayo, then put it on bread. It was just a little sandwich and light, like a mid-morning snack.

We found ourselves in front of a Vivaldi museum.

And walked around some more.

Then went to St. Mark's Cathedral. We had a gondola ride on the canals and into the grand canal. This was pretty much the highlight of our day.

We ate lunch at a restaurant in a restaurant in St. Mark's Square, kind of a fancy one called Cafe Quadri. I had the lasagna. The food was good but portions were small and it was expensive.

We wandered a little more after lunch, did more shopping.

We had more gelato. It was picturesque here. Like every picture could be a postcard!

The train ride back was a nightmare. All the trains to Verona were getting cancelled. We sat around in the hot train station (not air conditioned) and finally got on a longer, alternate route train. And that was not air-conditioned. Have I mentioned how hot it was here? Portia has a skin rash! She says her skin doesn't like Italy. I thought we'd never make it back to Verona. In fact, it feels like we walked 100 miles today. Definitely needed to go to bed. Good thing this apartment is super comfortable!

Doors of the Day:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Italy Day Six—Verona

Today is mom's birthday (the big 68)! We actually slept in today; see, Verona meant a change in pace. Thankfully.

After finally getting out the door, we went to Juliet's house (just right around the corner from where we're staying). We saw all the letters waiting on the wall and touched the Juliet statue. Supposedly (as the legend goes) if you touch her breast (can you tell by where the statue is rubbed), it's supposed to mean you'll have luck in your love life. Not sure I need that, but it was fun to visit.

We got a Verona city pass so we could actually go into the house that was owned by a similar family (Dal Capello) of Verona that people say was the real Capulets.  There were computers where the girls were composing their letters to Juliet.

Next we went outside the city gates to where Juliet's tomb is.

We had a nice lunch at an outdoor restaurant at Nastro Azurro. I had ricotta cheese gnocchi in butter, truffles & poppyseeds. Everything here was really good--I loved this meal! My gelato today was mango & lemon.

We visited Castel Vecchio next. We wandered (it was also an art museum) and then Portia put her feet in the Adige River. It was another long day of walking. My feet are always stinging. But the bright side is we're getting a ton of exercise.

Doors of the Day: