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Why door knockers?

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Why not?

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My mother always takes pictures of small details when she visits foreign places.  She’ll go to Japan and not take a single picture of a temple, but a hundred pictures of leaves and sea glass.  I picked up some of this habit from her, but I still have my father’s deep appreciation for grand buildings as well.   These images are all from around Italy on our last trip.

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Today seemed like a good day to share these knockers.

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Hoping some doors open for everyone this week!  (^_^)

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And this Chianti farmhouse door is just cool without adornment…

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When we last stayed in Verona for the last wine expo, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast called Casa Guilia.  It was a lovely place- full of soft greys and feathery blues.

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The most magical thing about it was that a lot of the furniture seemed to be from Ikea- and yet the owner of this inn seemed to have better taste than those designers who put the Ikea display homes together in their stores.

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or maybe Guilia just happened to have 3 things Ikea didn’t.

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A very old house, very good taste…

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…and an eye for beauty.

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I’m so proud of Team Georgia Peaches!  They are halfway from San Fran to L.A. in their fight against AIDS!   To all who helped me raise money for them with the gift tags- thank you!!!  Here they are doing all the hard work!

I learned to knit at Christmas last year.  And thanks to classes at Fancy Tiger, I’ve been knitting and knitting and knitting!  And not badly! =)

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Ysolda Teague’s Pear Drop in Scrumptious Lace.

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Arrowhead Mittens by Alexis Winslow / Brooklyn  Tweed in Elemental Effects Natural Shetland Fingering wool.  =)  Warm!

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Stephen West’s Geysir Stretch Knit Along Shawl in super soft Malbrigo Worsted.  It looks more electric in person.  (^o^)

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And this is not knit, but I wanted to share.  Made with the Liberty of London lawn fabric I got in Paris, paired with the neon/tan lace I got in Santa Fe, and the button I got down the road.  Ha ha!  It all comes together!  A very fun and fast, but expensive scarf to make.  I love Liberty!  Their design team must be the coolest pattern geniuses on the planet.  If anyone gets a chance to go to La Droguerie in Paris… do it.  Miles and miles of Liberty Lawn, walls of ribbons, yarn by the pound, and beads and buttons in apothecary jars that make your heart melt.  *Droooooooool*  This is their button wall- all of which are tucked away in magical drawers behind the counter…

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The possibilities are endless!

Do you know why I love photographing coffee? It’s because I can remember all the events and sights leading up to that cup, and the ones that followed. I recall the conversations I had over it, and the feelings I felt… taking pictures of coffee is the best way I know how to photograph Europe, because the rest of it has been photographed much better than I can ever attempt, so why bother? This is the important stuff…


My first coffee in Paris, France, just north of Notre Dame. I didn’t understand the system yet, so I ordered Cafe Au Lait, because it was the only thing I recognized! We had just seen our favorite of all places- San Chapelle, the chapel of glass and light!


Coffee at the Louvre! We had admired Napolean’s coronation only moments before, and afterwards we got very lost in the Egyptian section, where we discovered that the Louvre does not connect in some places and makes for a lot of walking.


My favorite coffee moment in Paris. This was on the Rue du Bac between the Musee D’Orsay and the Taxidermie Deyrolle. This was my first macaroon! I never understood the allure until I popped this pink pastry in my mouth, and now I’m an addict!


Clearly, I had discovered espresso… I believe “Cafe Richard” was a chain of coffee supply because every time we got a cup with the name printed on it, the cafe was nothing like the one before. Perhaps it is the Starbucks of Paris. This was on a busy street corner after having walked down the hill from the Pantheon (quite the Mausoleum!).


Oh, moules! I may never eat a mussel again after the rapidity with which my father downed them in Paris. This small restaurant was near where we stayed in an apartment north of Montmatre.


Ah, yes, this one! What a day! It was a dreary, cloudy sky that hung over us as we walked the quiet streets of Pere Lachaise Cemeterie. After hours of wandering and petting gravestones of famous loved ones, we settled in the cafe across the street with large Mucha paintings on the walls. Perhaps a tourist trap, but a safe place with hot coffee nonetheless.


We’ve left Paris, now! Here is the sole cup of coffee I enjoyed in Dusseldorf, Germany. A lovely bakery chain where I had my first German pretzel. Yum! Here the cups are twice as large, by the way. Whoa! It was challenging to find a coffee shop with a place to sit. It seems most folks like standing. Same with their bars! How intriguing!


Oooooo, Spanish coffee! This was at a hotel in Zaragosa, Spain, where we had just come from a flight, and then a bus ride to our final destination. A large and fit-for-a-king-dinner awaited us, and coffee was naturally served after.


Okay, this is actually liquid chocolate, not coffee, that I enjoyed with my hosts when we walked the streets to admire Zaragosa at night. This was the only non-alcoholic beverage we imbibed that evening.


Black coffee served at the hotel in the morning. Quite the cup!


Breakfast at Cafe Rodi, a small cafe near the Bodegas Aragonesas Winery in Campo de Borja. A delicious, hand-prepared meal with foods I’d never dreamed of before. And oh the Ham! Jamon with every meal! Woo!


Served after a luxurious meal of lamb chops seared over open fire at the Bodegas Aragonesas Winery in Campo de Borja. There were anchovies filleted with olive oil, mushrooms stuffed with foie gras, pimentoes also stuffed with foie gras… foie gras on everything why not! Did I mention the 16 wines served? I couldn’t keep up…


Back in Zaragosa, we had a filling lunch of Lobster rice soup in a very yellow restaurant. I remember being exhausted and full beyond belief. I never thought I’d eat again!


This coffee was across the table from me because my cup refused to photograph well. The table is at an elegant restaurant somewhere in Barcelona, where several bottles of wine were ordered, and I enjoyed a sinful dish of suckling lamb liver. My gracious host made the evening classy and memorable. Uh-mazing.


On a voyage towards Gaudi’s Guell Park, Barcelona. It is an up-hill climb to get there, but the view extends all the way to the sea, and there are plenty of places to stop along the way for coffee.


My last coffee in Europe 2012. This was in a restaurant down near the Barcelona Airport, where we dined on traditional grilled leeks and the most amazing garlic aioli that made my mouth raw the whole next week. This coffee’s acidity burned right through me, but I couldn’t help having it. Coffee had become a sort of signal that all was right in the world, and gave me a moment of peace to wrap myself up in.

Naturally I came home to our streets of Starbucks and experienced a kind of reverse culture shock. How different a world we live in! How I miss the cafe of Europe!

Those of you who read my blog have figured out that I’m a sucker for cool graffiti. Not the average tags and names- but cute stuff that makes me smile more than a blank wall would. While I was in Paris, Germany, and Spain, I took some photos of my favs. I now realize, that I have no pictures of German graffiti! Wonderous strange!

french metro graffiti-popes
Saw these dudes scribbled on a Paris Metro billboard. I think they’re popes… or clergy? Not sure, but I love how much time this had to take the guy who was obviously drawing with a sharpie on public property in the middle of a metro tube… and no one else cared.

Meow meow graffiti
On a random street in St. Germain. This was some sort of obstruction to keep a car from coming up onto the corner, I think. Well decorated for sure.

Paris metro tile
I know that the art on descending metro stairs isn’t technically graffiti, but it is so varied from stop to stop that I enjoyed every one individually anyway. This was my favorite. I think it’s the Rue de Bac station.

heads on the street graffiti
Who doesn’t love heads on a sidewalk? I don’t know how these were painted/drizzled onto the pavement, but it seemed the same texture as the paint used in marking out the lines on a street. From Paris outside the Pere Lachaise Cemetery.


Also not graffiti, per se, but a very neat way to decorate a wall on a low budget. I think this was on a side street in Zaragosa, Spain.


Also from Zaragosa. It seems that this was a billboard that an artist “stole” and painted over. Very clever.

spain graffiti
I really hope this is a Transformer… In Zaragosa, Spain.

squirrel graffiti
This is my favorite by far. So favorite that I’m giving you two images of this bad-boy.
Understand that this image was taken in an extremely small alley around midnight while I was under the influence of tapas and wine. I was standing on someone’s doorstep to get this shot!


As you can see… pure awesome. Another example of an artist “borrowing” the billboard, but this genius takes the cake! I love the x-ray break used. Very cool. This artist also did a really tall rabbit in the same style that I saw while on a bus- I think someone faster than me took a picture, but I haven’t tracked that person down yet.


Ha ha! Barceloneta, you are hilarious! This photo was snapped at the port of Barcelona, near that crazy tall statue of Columbus pointing to America. I love blobby dudes.

mario graffiti
Pixel-mario graffiti! Aw-yeah! This was sprayed on a temporary construction fence outside the metro one takes to get to Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain. Te amo, Mario!

Well- that’s all the ones I have now. I know there are more on my mother’s camera, and like I said, some other travelers took some for me, so I’ll put them up as I find them. Enjoy the under-funded-city-improvement-happy art!

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A Native American supply store in town carries skulls, and while they’d been out of stock, they called yesterday to say they got new skulls in. I fetched this awesome fox, a mink, and a muskrat. Can’t wait to dress them!
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Sadly, it’ll have to wait. I’m off to Europe on business and won’t be back for two weeks. I’m excited to see a much talked about taxidermy shoppe in Paris. I promise to take lots of pictures! Cheers!

On cold nights, nothing comforts me more than hot chocolate. Marshmallows help, of course. I have an uncle that buys me different gourmet chocolates every Christmas. I’ve even had Elvis Peanut Butter Banana Hot Chocolate. Whaaaaaat? Yeah, you heard me! This year I got Dagoba Chai Hot Chocolate. Whew! Spicy!
Still, all my years of hot chocolate drinking experience couldn’t prepare me for this:

Drinking Chocolate!
Not hot chocolate. Drinking chocolate! Found in a small shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico called Kakawa.
It’s thick, it’s rich, and it’s delicious. I tried spicy ones, sweet ones, and ones that hardly resembled chocolate they were so flowery! They call them Elixirs.
This is the way the Aztecs drank chocolate. They even had the recipe for the way Marie Antoinette drank her chocolate! You can drink about the amount you commonly find in an espresso shot, but not much else unless you’re a die-hard sweet tooth! That’s okay, because that’s all they offer.

This is my uncle drinking chocolate in their earthy, cozy shop. Don’t you love their porcelain? They really thought about their mode of transport for this stuff. They could have used a teacup and been all wrong!

Though I haven’t been there in a few months, I keep thinking about that smooth, flavorful chocolate, and I know it’s the first place I’ll hit next time I’m down in the painted desert. Maybe I can will myself there if I dream about it hard enough…