A weekend in Abruzzo

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Last weekend we ended up doing a last minute trip to Abruzzo.  (Like Tuscany and Puglia, Abruzzo is another state/region in Italy.)

Even though it offers dramatic mountains and beaches and you can reach it in two hours, we’d never made it over.

Until now.

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ICYMI: I Hate Pollen Edition

Brothers with brothers. Aww.

Brothers with brothers. Aww.

Hi everyone!  Sorry so quiet this week.  We had a guest, and I’ve been bowled over by some sort of respiratory thing with a touch of allergies thrown in.  Good times.  I’m hoping things have turned a corner.  Which is good because we have big plans this weekend to check out the Sagra del Cinghiale (Festival of the Boar) in San Gregorio Da Sassola and the Craft Beer Festival in Rome.  If we are feeling super crazy, we may check out the rose petals at the Pantheon for Pentacost.

On the Blog:

Temps are pretty nice these days.  I’m definitely getting use out of these new spring pieces.

Still the best thing on the blog.  Also, I got around to sharing some updates on the boys generally.

I’m slowly rolling out Sicilian content.  Here is an overview of our trip and here is everything you ever wanted to know about taking a ferry in Italy.

If Sicily is too far, how about a day trip to Calcata?  (Wear your long skirt.)

When I’m not gouging out my sinuses, I’ve been doing more reading.  And even some writing.  And probably drinking more coffee than I should.

On the Internets:

My tabs are covered with bathing suits and tutorials on how to use Evernote.  (I am DETERMINED to tame my tab problem.)  I do have a few tabs up about our upcoming Morocco trip.  Exciting for me!  But nothing good to share.

Do you have any big weekend plans?  Do you also hate all the pollen?  Any tips for a trip to Marrakech?

ICYMI: All the Feels Edition

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This is pretty much my life right now.

On the Blog:

Thanks for all of your support on my Quitters Story and my freak out on the future.  You guys are awesome.  I totally owe you a cappuccino.

The blog’s most popular feature by far.  I should just cut the middle man and have Henry do all the writing here.  #1 blog of all time.  Done.

I’m still doing a little running and still doing a little paleo.  Looking to change up your own habits?  Try this trick.

Looking for your next read?  Check out my 2015 list.

It’s Friday!  You know what I’m doing tonight.  Henry has already called “all the Octonauts.”  Huzzah!

On the Internets:

The baffling reason many millennials don’t eat cereal.  Hint:  it isn’t because they’ve all gone paleo and started eating eggs.

Over at MMD, Anne is talking about fashion in the thirties.  I agree with it all, and loved this:  How a Closet Cleanse Helped Me Embrace My Thirties.

I need to remind myself of this frequently.  Yes, it is only a season.

Hey there West Wing fans.  I’ve got the podcast for you!   (More podcast shenanigans here.)

I’m a little obsessed with Bower Power’s faux wood laminate backsplash.  #kitchengoals

We’ve got an Easter egg hunt this weekend.  Will also see if we can pull off any Palm Sunday capers.  I mean, we are in the right city for it after all.  How about you?  Big plans?

Some thoughts on Prolonged Paleo

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Starting to think about turning all my shirts into half shirts.

I may have to donate my body to science because it is going to be AMAZING.

These are just a sample of the actual things I’ve told James lately.  Ridiculous?  Absolutely.  But I’d say paleo is definitely working for me.

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3 Things I Learned on a Recent Weekend Adventure (Free Museum First Sundays For-EVAH)

We had a delightful Sunday adventure recently.  Like shockingly enjoyable.  With almost little to no planning.  I know.  I’m as incredulous as you.

It all started after waking up Sunday morning following a busy Saturday.  We hadn’t been out of town (or even out ON the town) in a bit.  I knew I wanted to do something.

Then I remembered that it was the first Sunday of the month.  This means free public museums in Rome.

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ICYMI: Where did 2015 go, ya’ll?

Have you started to feel like every day for the whole rest of the year is planned?  Seriously, where did it all go??  And how do I already feel behind on Christmas shopping???

Chase pigeons every day

Chase pigeons every day

On the Blog:

I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that we are having adventures faster than I can write about them.  I’ve been updating Travel Resources with more info to give you travel ideas, even if there aren’t links to full posts.  Looking for your next day trip or weekend getaway?  Check it out here.

One adventure I did cover was our jam-packed day trip to Turin.  If you have a chance, I’d spend more than a day here.

I also talked about my love/hate relationship with crowds and our trips to Nemi and Orte.

As well as gettin’ deep about last meals at Castel Sant’ Angelo.

And 3 tips to make your travel awesome.

Huh, I guess there are still some travel posts going up around here.  I feel like things have definitely gone off the rails lately.  #sorrynotsorry

Fall is here!  I still haven’t ordered my OTK boots, but I’m sure everyone here would like me to just do it or shut up about it.  What’s on your fall fashion wish list?

Heh, million dollar baby.  LITERALLY.  And then my other recent attempt at humor where I talk resumes and giving booze to horses.

The one where I get kind of preachy about judging other people.  I swear, I’ve put the soap box away.  For now at least.

My baby is 3!!  Still says hilarious things.  (And like my kid, I’m very food-oriented.   Treat yo self.)

On the Internets:

For my hipster peeps, have you tried switchel?  I really want to try this apple cider vinegar drink, but I’m having a hard time on the ginger juice.  I can’t find it in juice form, and I don’t have the capability to juice fresh ginger.

This video had me cry laughing.  If you want to kill your morning, delve into Break Womb’s other stuff.  Ah, it’s funny because it’s true.

How not to say the wrong thing

If you looking for some fall pieces of your own, Ann Taylor is 50% off through Sunday.

I’m very intrigued by this stroller.  Any urbanites tried this one?

That’s all I got.  Happy weekend everyone!

Do you run TO the crowd or FROM the crowd?

So there are lots of food-themed festivals around here, particularly in the summer and fall.   Fruit!  Porcini!  Carciofi for everyone!  I love food; sign me up!

I meant to do more.  And we will.  But we did make it to the Sagra delle Fragole (strawberry festival) in Nemi this June.

But the thing about festivals is crowds.  Shockingly, other people ALSO want to go to the cool-sounding festival with you.

I don’t really love crowds.

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Very Normal Henry (with a side of Assisi)

Dear Henry,

Instead of rambling about your vocabulary (immense) and your size (also immense), let me tell you a story about a recent trip that sums up the essence di Henry, if you will.

On a sunny, long weekend in June, we did an overnight trip to Spoleto, Cortona, the Perugina chocolate factory, and Assisi.  There were plenty of quintessential Henry moments throughout, but I’d like to talk about our time in Assisi.

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Want to hear something kind of crazy?

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I want to tell you something that is kind of crazy.  I, Melissa, mother of two, have never put both my kids in a car and driven them somewhere all by myself.  And these kids aren’t weeks old, mind you.  My “baby” turned one this spring.

The other crazy thing?  I haven’t driven a car since last August when we moved here.  I haven’t driven in Italy at all.

Back when we lived in DC, I was never a big driver.  When we were in Maryland, I sometimes drove to the metro or shopping or to visit my friends in Virginia, but I didn’t drive all the time.  Once we moved to DC proper, I mostly stopped driving.  I walked Henry to day care.  I took the bus or metro to work.  When we did family outings on the weekends, James would drive.  I did pull shifts–usually the early morning shift (no shocker there)–on our drives to SC, but I could still go months without getting behind the wheel of a car.

I’m a nervous person and a nervous driver.  Not driving much exacerbates this.  Living in cities exacerbates this.

I usually don’t mind it at all.  I have plenty of stores within walking distance.  Public transportation is still a challenge with the two kids, but it is there.  We can get where we need to go sans automobile.

But something happened earlier this month that has me reevaluating my no drivo status.

We visited Lake Bracciano on a weekend.  Although our trip out took longer because of a flat tire, this volcanic lake is only 45 minutes from Rome.  Motor sports are limited, and the lake is a pristine and quiet place.  It is rimmed by three towns to explore and an awesome (and free!) airplane museum at the sight of Italy’s first airport.

Even though the lake is crazy close, we opted to do an overnight so that we could explore more.  Our agriturismo, Agriturismo Il Castoro, sits on smaller, neighboring Lake Martignano.  You have to go down some serious dirt roads to get there.

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Even if you don’t stay there, you can pay a few euro to access the expanse of grassy beach lined with hammocks.  You can pay a few more euro to rent a paddle boat–some with their own slides–or grab some refreshing beverages at the small cafe.

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Because of uncooperative weather (I swear, it is always stifling except when I actually have aqua access), we didn’t frolic in the water.  (Although we did all touch it; Mac was particularly nonplussed.)

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We did enjoy some time swinging in the hammocks and feeling the grass between our toes.

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As we strolled, I could not help but think, I could do this.

I could load up the kids on a random weekday and hit the lake or explore a nearby town or do anything we wanted.  We have fun at the zoo and parks in Rome, and I’m trying to get better about picking off new sights with the kids, but we could just go.

Of course, exploring a new town with the adorable weirdos sounds downright frightening.  I’m not scared of my kids, per se; however, sometimes I am definitely intimidated by them.

But things change.  And faster than I think too.

Not that long ago, I could barely grocery shop with the two kids by myself.  Now we have a produce guy, an egg lady, fish dudes, and I can get around the store with the two of them if I need to.

Not that long ago, Mac refused to move anywhere.  Then I spent HOURS walking behind him holding his hands.  Now I walk beside him and sometimes dash to keep up as he darts off a few steps on his own.  (He still refuses to crawl though.)

At some point, trips with these guys may not seem so crazy.  I need to be ready.

Even if that means getting behind the wheel of a car.  I’m planning to force myself to practice when town empties this August.  Our car is already lightly “Romanized.”  No one would notice a few more scratches.

Deep breath.  I’m an adult.  I can do this.

Other Trip Highlights

  • We hit up Il Castello Odescalchi in Bracciano, site of famous weddings such as Tomkat’s.  The self guided tour involved some stairs, but went over well with the kids.  Shocking to NO ONE, Henry loved the weaponry.

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  • Historic Bracciano is fairly small.  We wandered, checked out views of the lake, and enjoyed lunch outside at Pane e Olio.  Service was slow (they were slammed), but the food was very good.

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Pistachio pasta FTW

Pistachio pasta FTW

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  • We drove through Trevignano, but didn’t get to explore this town.  Unlike Bracciano, which overlooks the lake from on high, Trevignano is down at the water.  Several restaurants on the water looked pretty sweet.
  • We enjoyed an evening wander and dinner watching the sunset over the lake at Il Vecchio Salus in Anguillara.  Although we didn’t go, Anguillara seems to have an expanse of public beach along with a jump park and rides area.

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  • If you have kids or any interest in planes, definitely check out the Italian Air Force Museum.  Fun (oversimplified) fact:  Italians built lots of seaplanes because they didn’t feel like building runways.  This free museum has several hangars of planes to delight the kiddos.  Even though half of it was closed at our visit, it was still worth the trip.  Did I mention it’s free??  Cafe inside.

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Also lots of old cars.  BONUS.

Also lots of old cars. BONUS.

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Other Bracciano Resources

ICYMI: are you sick of the 30 Day EVERYTHING Challenge yet edition

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Welcome back, sports fans.  I’m sorry.  I hoped for the results post on the challenge today, but it won’t be ready until next week.  Between planning for the lake this weekend and truncated naps, I’m a little behind.

Also, if you have any questions on the challenge, please lemme know.  I may do an FAQ post, and it is always fun to have actual questions instead of just the usual conversation with myself.  Not that I’m not a stellar conversationalist.  Why, thank you, self.

Until then . . .

On the blog:

In case you’ve missed it, come check out the challenge.

What is this 30 Day EVERYTHING Challenge anyway?

Did you actually make it?  Well, mostly.  Check out the first half here and the second half here.

Did you like it?  Overall, I’m glad I did it.  See what is working for me and what still needs work.

News team, be warned.  This could be the first of many challenges.  I’m already eying a finance challenge and a minimalism one.  Any other challenge ideas?

On the internets:

Watch swinging your arms around here!  I can’t say I’ve seen all of these, but I do see Italians talking with their hands constantly, even when on the phone.

I’ve just started using, but I’m LOVING this tanning lotion so far.  Noticeable after the first application.  It only has a subtle self-tanner tang and mostly smells a little lemony.

All my DC peeps, can you promise to check this out??

Are you guys also obsessed with the new album from Killers frontman Brandon Flowers??  I could (and do) listen to Lonely Town on continuous repeat (although the rest of the album is also very good).  I defy you not to feel the need to arm pump when that beat starts up.  Here, check out the subtly creepy video.

This is long, but Mindy Kaling!!  I’ve been watching in bits and pieces.  Check out more on BookCon at MMD.

Happy weekend, ya’ll!