Monday, May 30, 2016


So. When I was in Italy with my sisters, I was surprised to find that none of them knew what a pashmina was. I explained it as a large shawl/scarf. My girls and I love them! They fold up so small and can be carried in your purse. We take them to the theater or movies. It's just the thing to take the chill off. I always carry one (or more) when I travel. If it's chilly, I'll wrap it around my neck. If it's not, I just tie it on to my purse and have it handy at all times.

When I decided to write this post about pashminas, I looked it up in the dictionary to see what the real definition was. I learned a couple things myself. Pashmina: 1. fine material made from goat's wool; 2. a fabric or garment made from pashm (the under hair of goats), especially a shawl, wrap or scarf. 3. a long piece of clothing made from pashmina and worn around a woman's neck.

I was surprised at this: "Another very well-known word for cashmere is pashmina"!

While in Rome, a street vendor was selling 100% cashmere pashminas. He wanted 10 Euros. I talked him down to 7. Then, when I went to pay, I only had 10's. I felt a little foolish, so gave him the 10 after all. I figure street sellers need the money. Anyway, I'm not foolish enough to think I could really get 100% cashmere for that price.
I decided to find out if this could be real. As it turns out, fakes are really easy to sort out. Oftentimes, the tag will have the word cashmere misspelled. The other dead give-away is if the tag is glued on. This one is. According to the source I found, no one would ever put glue on fine cashmere. Makes sense. So I got a fake--and that's totally okay with me.
I loved the colors of this one. I had brought two with me to Italy---one pink and one coral and orange because those were my clothing colors for the trip. They came in handy many times. I even loaned them to family. I ended up having to wash one in the hotel because one family member got spaghetti sauce on it in a chilly restaurant.

Anyway, when we were at the market in Florence, just about everyone bought pashminas. Some for gifts, others for themselves. Since we were buying so many, I did the bargaining and got them for 6 Euros each. I think among all of us we bought about 15.
They were so pretty with many colors and patterns. They also make really good swimsuit sarongs. They can even wrap chubby girls!
The tag was glued on, so that might mean there is no cashmere at all. I don't really know. But I do know that this tag make me happy. It will always remind me of our Italy trip. Okay, maybe not, because when it was all said and done, I forgot to get one for myself. I definitely wanted one of these colorful ones from Florence. Amidst the bargaining and all the picking out, I overlooked myself.

My pashmina came in handy one day when it rained. It got wet, but didn't soak all the way through. I had already lost my "jacket in a packet" so didn't have any rain protection. It was just the thing to keep me warm.

After I got home, Butch and I were discussing the weather for Steeplechase. He told me that it was going to be chilly. I told him that he better let the girls know. He said, "I've already texted them to bring a pashmina". With all of these girls in the family, it's no wonder that he knows what a pashmina is and can use the correct lingo as necessary. I emailed my sisters about our conversation.
Sharon responded that when Matt saw her pashmina he asked if it was a table runner.

Hmmm---another good use! So many options!
Here are my pashminas---3 stacks. You know, my multiples problem. Many colors and shades. Last year I got rid of quite a few. Morgan was quite put out with me that I didn't offer them to the granddaughters before I donated them. They love them too!!

Do you pashmina?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

What I've Learned About Hoarders

1. No one sets out to be a hoarder by saying, "I think I'll be a hoarder."
2. Hoarding starts by stuff piling up.
3. Hoarding starts when you never go through all of that stuff piling up.
4. At the risk of raising some fur---I contend that people who become hoarders have an element of laziness about them. Why else would they not bother to throw away packaging materials and other trash?
4. Pretty soon, your stuff overwhelms you and you can't even think of where to begin to sort it out.
5. Although you never considered yourself a hoarder, there you are!

I know there are shows about hoarders where the people have some serious deep-rooted problems about parting with stuff. But I'd venture to say that there are far more hoarders like I've just described. They don't really have a problem parting with stuff, they just never did it and pretty soon don't know where to begin. Believe me, I've had a few clients like this. They were more than happy to let me get rid of their newspapers, magazines, etc. They just couldn't do it on their own.

The reason I am bringing this up is that I'm sure someone in our family could easily become a hoarder!! Of course, perhaps she/he doesn't have to sort through and get rid of stuff because she/he knows that her/his mother will come to the rescue!! Luckily for her/him, I love making order out of chaos!! (Considering I only have girls, my attempt at covering for her is probably lame!)

Case in point:
This is the back of that family member's car---empty bags and yep---Christmas presents. The funny part about it---she/he doesn't see the problem!

Are you or a family member a hoarder without realizing it?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

When it Rains it Pours!

So we'll get to the rain in a minute. So much has been going on this past week. I got home Monday night from Italy. I went straight to the doctor Tuesday morning about my cough. Even my sisters were nagging me about it. Anyway, just as I suspected---all is good. A chest x-ray showed clear lungs. I just have a nagging cough from the bronchitis that will linger at least another month. I know me! When I get a cough, it lasts forever.

Connie picked me up for our stitching class where Nancy meets us too. After lunch at Cinco de Mayo (Mexican food was really good after all that Italian!), I spent the rest of the day unpacking, going through the mail and taking care of business.

Wednesday, I was ready to get down to Mindy's and start the "big move!" At first we were a little distressed at the mess!! Mindy and Justin had started moving things down. They bought a larger condo in the same building downtown. They love that urban lifestyle!

Anyway, Mindy had put up post it notes next to each pile: "storage"---"Christmas decorations"---"things to get rid of"---"Justin's keepsakes!" Needless to say, most of what they moved wasn't going to be staying in the new place!! We were actually pretty overwhelmed. Finally, I said to myself, "Okay, Barb, just treat this like one of your jobs---except you are not getting paid!" Then I was able to just dig in and get started. We hauled off all the junk and boxed up the things that need to go to storage. We arranged for painting this week. By the next day, we really were ready to get started. I had warned Mindy not to move anything to the new place that wasn't staying in the new place. Why move things twice? Makes sense, right!!

I was thinking that we would have them totally moved by Friday. After all, when we moved Mindy from her apartment to her condo, it only took us two days! The difference this time is 4 years and an accumulation of more stuff, plus a new husband and ALL his stuff. In all fairness, Justin doesn't really have that much.

Of course, by Friday, we've barely put a dent in it! We had to hold off because the place needs painting, which is happening this week. Justin's parents were in town this weekend and were able to do a few things that require two men---like move the console stereo and wine refrigerator from storage.

They also went shopping so Laurie could plant Mindy a pot for her balcony.

Laurie planted mandevilla and supertunias---something new to me. Mindy loves it!

I left of the beach with my girlfriends on Saturday morning. It's a good thing we couldn't do much at the condo because if so, I would have rather stayed home. You know---work before play!

Once we got here, we had an issue right off with one of the rental cars. Luckily for me, it was the one Karolyn was driving---no air conditioning. After breakfast, she took it back to get another car. After some "fighting" with the attendant, she got another car, two days free and a tank of gas. Still that whole fiasco took about 4 hours out of her and Susan's vacation. The rest of us did the grocery shopping and then waited for them to arrive. We thought it would be adding insult to injury if they found us lounging at the pool with fruity drinks!

Later that evening, we found that we had a major leak in the pantry behind the hot water heater. Water was just pouring out from a pipe above that seemed to be the air conditioning unit. We were able to prop a medium size pot under it, but it filled up every 10 minutes. I called the repair company we use, but getting someone to answer at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night was impossible. It continued to pour water all night. We turned off the air since that seemed to be where it was coming from. On Sunday morning, Butch got involved. After several frantic phone calls to everyone he could think of, the maintenance men came and took care of it. Turns out, the drainage pipe to the outside was clogged. Condensation from ALL of the condos above us---4 floors worth---drain through this pipe. That's why so much water was coming out. I have no idea if there's been any damage---that will be for Butch to figure out. It's hard to see back there. The floors are stone tile, so hopefully the water just drained down to the crawl space and out!

By Sunday at 10 a.m., we were really ready to get our vacation started. The weather has been incredible up until today.
 We counted 5 shades of turquoise in the water.
There are more people here than I expected at this time of year. We go to the beach in the morning for 2 or 3 hours. After lunch, we go to the pool.
The pool area is really nice. No, I don't know that woman in the hot tub. I pulled this picture from our condo website.

We've had 2 days of playing on the beach and in the water. Now it's going to rain for the rest of the week! We will not be deterred in our fun! We have a plan: a little shopping, a movie or two, games here plus I have a pretty good library of movies too! Wouldn't you know it---the one time I do not bring any stitching!

We have four more days---as they say, when it rains, it pours! We won't let it dampen our spirits!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sister's Trip in Pictures

As you might have figured out by now, I had no time to blog on our sister's trip to Italy. We hit it hard every day. I'm the early bird of the bunch while all the rest are night owls. We had a fabulous time. I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves.
Piera was our favorite guide in Rome. She was with us for 2 full days. From left: Janice, Jeanne, me, Piera.
 The Trevi Fountain was crazy crowded.  It's still beautiful.
 The Coliseum.
Piers suggested a really good restaurant near our hotel. We asked one of the clerks at the front desk for directions. We walked all around and couldn't find it. I went back to the hotel to ask again. The manager said follow me---so I did. The rest of the girls laughed when they saw me following him. He literally walked us to the restaurant which was only about 2 blocks away. Those Italians sure are nice---even to idiot Americans!
We took the train to Napoli where we met our driver and went to Pompeii. Afterwards, we went to Sorrento for the afternoon. It's a beautiful city set on the sea. We had the afternoon to browse around the shops. Of course we had to get gelato.

We missed our train from Rome to Florence. Our driver got us there in plenty of time, but we missed the announcement of a platform change. When am I going to learn---if there's no one else around, we must be in the wrong place! That put us late getting in to Florence so we had to adjust our schedule. We wanted some time at the leather market which really wasn't on the itinerary. That's the beauty of private drivers---they will do whatever you want and take you wherever you want to go.
We only had an hour at the market. Not nearly enough time when you consider we spent about a half hour standing in line to buy salami, cheese, olives and bread for our lunch in the car. Still, we managed to come away with some beautiful leather goods.
In order to have that hour in Florence, we had to cut our time short in Pisa. We were not planning to go up to the top anyway, so it all worked out fine.
Our next stay was in La Spezia---the home of our ancestors. Jeanne found some useful information for our search for their homes.

Our great-grandfather was a ship builder. La Spezia was a naval base, so it's very likely that he worked for the military. Our great-grandmother was a seamstress who made men's suits. We were told that rather than men's suits, she most likely made military uniforms as many young women did back then.

 This was the street that our great-grandmother Emilia Foce Pagella lived on.
 This building stands on the location where our great-grandfather lived.
 This man owned the shop below. His clerk called him. He arrived on his bike a few minutes later.
With our guide as interpreter, we learned that nothing remained of the homes of our former great-grandparents. Basically, they immigrated to the US around 1910. Just about the entire town was bombed during WWII. There is a well-known doctor in town whose last name is Foce. This man is going to try to find out if there is some relation there. He also has 7,000 photos. He's going to send some of those to Jeanne.
Our great-grandparents church was St. John Bosco. There were 5 churches in La Spezia that were all destroyed during the war. They re-built one large church to contain all 5. This is the side door of the church now with a beautiful mosaic of St. John Bosco.
 Inside, each of those five churches is represented by side altars. This is St. John Bosco.
This is the beautiful altar of the new church---which is actually about 70 years old now.
The day we left La Spezia, we stopped at a winery for a tour and lunch in Tuscany. The food was delicious. That was one of the things we noticed right away. Once we got to northern Italy, the food was what we were used to from our Italian family. Plus, the names were pronounced the same too.
Our hotel in Tuscany (Cortona) was the Villa di Piazzano. It dates back to 1467 and was owned by the Medici's. Later it became a hunting lodge for the popes. It is so incredible.
 Tuscany is just beautiful.
We were stuck in stalled traffic due to an accident for over an hour. What better place to be than in Italy with your sisters stuck in traffic--until one (or more) of them have to go to the bathroom!
 The walled city of Cortona. We came early to browse the shops before dinner. Unfortunately, it started to pour down rain. We were pretty soaked by the time we got there. Of course, I lost my "jacket in a packet" on day three. From left: Joyce, Janice, me, Sharon, Jennifer, Janet and Jeanne.
 More photos from our gorgeous hotel.
 What are the odds? Sharon and I had the exact same room that Butch and I had 6 years ago!
 The back "yard" of the villa.
 The front of the villa. It's a boutique hotel with just 29 rooms.
 Beauty is everywhere here.

Saturday was our day of rest. We spent the morning at the pool. We didn't have our suits, but the water was too cold to get in anyway. We just enjoyed relaxing and reading for a couple of hours.
In the afternoon, we had a picnic and poker game in the private garden. We played with Euros.
 It was such a beautiful setting. Completely private. Just how we like it.
 I won 7 Euros!
And there you have it in a nutshell.

It was a fabulous trip with six amazing women. I'm so glad they are my sisters!