Tuesday, November 24, 2015

:: Italy Travel Diary : Siena ::


I'm back with more Italy info (finally!!!) 

After leaving Venice,  we headed to Tuscany with out first stop in Siena.  
we took the train to Florence, and switched to a Train to Siena.
I had a sandwich at the Florence train station that was so good I didn't understand how something that delicious could come from a place like that. 
We spent two nights in Siena, with one day spent on a vineyard tour of Tuscany in the Chianti region.  

Siena was a great small city that could easily be done in one day/night, but since we were doing the wine tour I am glad we stayed for two.

Our friends had gone to Italy the year before and had recommended the Hotel Athena because of its gorgeous views.
It is located on the outskirt of the center of the city (but Siena is so small that by "outskirt" I mean it was a 5 minute walk if that to Il Campo (center square) and even less of a walk to the Duomo so still in the heart of it all). 
The views from the hotel were simply gorgeous.  Stunningly beautiful and so quiet and peaceful.
These are the views from their restaurant/bar rooftop area.  

I loved walking around and strolling Siena.
Cars cannot drive in many parts of the city, and so you basically stroll little walkways up and down little hills.  It was so quaint and picturesque.  

The first day we climbed the City Tower in Il Campo after checking in and dropping off our things.
Then we wandered around, and to reward ourselves for our hike up a million stairs, we had cocktails outside the Duomo
Then, why stop there, cocktails on our rooftop bar with the gorgeous views.
We saw a sign for a restaurant Va Vine not far from our hotel that said "come inside and see our views" so we ate on their back patio which was gorgeous and then when it got dark and the views disappeared was romantic with twinkle lights and candles.  This was one of the few places the whole trip where the waiters did not speak english, but it was easy enough to order and the food was spectacular.  
We had fried zucchini and calamari, pasta dishes, wonderful steak, and ended with tiramisu that was to die for. 

The next day we went to The Duomo right when it opened, and if you pay 2 Euro you can walk straight up to counter and get a skip-the-line pass.  We walked straight in, and we were the first handful of people to go in that day so it was nice and quiet. 
This was one of my favorite places that we saw in all of Italy.  
It rivals the Duomo in Florence with its beauty : STRIPES. 
We strolled Il Campo and grabbed a bite on the square before heading back to the hotel for our Chianti and Castles Tour

For the vineyard and castle tour, it was a group of 6 of us and we went to 2 vineyards and 2 castles.  
I do not drink red wine….. ummm ever.  Like, never.  But it was still fun :)  
There were older ladies that didnt drink red either and they would drink the tiniest sip and pour the rest in the bucket and I was like ARE YOU CRAZY? DRINK IT! YOU JUST SAW IT IN A BARREL! YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE GRAPES!
I mean….. sometimes I worry about people.  

So for those of you that love Chianti, FUN FACT: it is only a real Chianti if is has the *black rooster* on the label, otherwise it is an IMPOSTER. 

The second winery had a smokin' hot George Clooney type Italian man leading the tasting and I really wanted to make Kip get a picture of him, but instead I silently stared at him while I pretended to just LOVE the different types of Chianti (every time the cheapest one tasted the best to me) and ate the 25 aged balsamic with cheese.  
The balsamic. was. the. best. thing. ever. 

Later that night we walked to a random little pizza place to eat and there happened to be a big race (about a half of a marathon) going on so we sat outside and ate as runners came and went.  There was a big cookout with tables set up too, but we couldn't figure out how or if we were allowed to join in :) All of the "roads" are stone and on hills - I seriously have NO idea how they were doing it.  We had cocktails and saw the final racers making their way down to the finish and it was fun to see the locals and the children cheering everyone on as they ate their ice cream.  It was very much an italian moment that we were so lucky to stumble upon.  

Let the pictures begin !

Right after dropping of our bags, we climbed the tower to get views of all of Siena and the Tuscan hillside
 so sweaty.

The unreal views from our hotel.  This was more beautiful than any views from towers!

Day two, we went to the Duomo.
It was so gorgeous.  The stripes took my breath away!

 The back part of the Duomo that we walked past constantly on our walk to-and-from the hotel to the Campo had these gorgeous, gigantic doors that I loved.

First stop on the tour, one of the castles in the distance

At our first winery

 see the black rooster!?

 the second winery (with Italian George and the killer balsamic) had the most beautiful views!

Even if only for one day and night, I definitely recommend making a stop in Siena.  It was  such a wonderfully quaint Midieval town and different from anywhere else we went in Italy. 

Day One : 
Climbed the Tower
Lots of strolling, shopping, up and down the little roads 
Day Two : 
The Duomo
Chianti and Castles Tour : Two Vineyards and Two Castles 
Everything here was so simple and easy to manage.  
You will need to take a cab from the train station.  There is a little cab light straight out from the station but be prepared to wait for a cab, they come slowly one at a time.  It was a cheap ride, less than 10 Euro.
Food Recommendations
from friends that we never made it to: 
* Osteria Baccon Del Prete  or  Osteria Cice
            reservation required for both – have the concierge call
*La Taverna di San Diuseppe

Our favorite meal of our entire trip (and there were a LOT of meals!) was at La Taverna di San Giuseppe in Siena. There was a savory chocolate pasta dish that I'm still thinking about 4 years later. It's in a beautiful cave like setting too.

And incase you missed previous Italy Posts:

Venice Recap

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:: 50% OFF : Must Haves for the Holidays ::

I have my Italy post for you today (Tuscany!) ,
but I had to share the wonderful J.Crew Factory Sale 
since they are one of my all time favorite places, especially for pieces for the holidays.
Everything is currently 50% OFF
FIVE. OH.   

do you know what this means??!!! 

get kicking and start shopping!! 
my leather bucket bag from J.Crew flew off the shelves, and they have a suede version for $50 in three different colors! 

the sequin skirt and sequin trim sweatshirt are on their way to my doorstep as we speak! 
see more favorites below! 

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Monday, November 23, 2015

:: monday things ::

some random things for the start of Thanksgiving week....... 
striped tablescape? yes, please! 
Thursday my friends and I had our monthly dinner date.  
we decided to go a little fancier and treat it as our early Christmas dinner and we went to the recently opened STK in River North.

It did not disappoint.  From the people watching (like, a girl in a floor length white ball gown and fur coat, WHA?) to the music and especially the FOOD it was delicious.  The service was amazing too our waitress was a dream. 
Of course the steak and mac + cheese and every bite we had were wonderful, but the brussel sprouts salad was seriously one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten.  It was laced with crack or something.  We were obsessed!! 
I have been googling with no luck to find a copy-cat version of the salad.... if any of you know of any, please send it my way! 

I have been feeling the leopard print lately. 
This sweater from Old Navy is so comfortable and one of my new favorites. 
Old Navy is currently having their EarlyBird Sale too with 40% off online! 

I've also been living in this leopard print scarf.  It is a mere $20 and is SO SOFT and the perfect size print. 

with Thanksgiving a few days away
(and even better: a short work-week PREACH) 
I have been loving searching my favorite food blogs and Pinterest for Holiday recipes.
I also watched Ina's 'A Barefoot Thanksgiving' and wished so badly I could eat everything Ina for Thanksgiving!  If I can't have my own mom's cooking, Ina's would be second best! 
the photo of the 11 layer gratin doesn't look as appealing as it did when they were making it on the show, but YUM it looked amazing! 

some other recipes catching my eye: 
I told Kip I wanted to bring these festive Jello Shots to his house for Thanksgiving but he said that was inappropriate.  I mean, psshh okay, whatever.  Their loss. 

so this post was basically all food..... 
I'm now starving. 

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

:: coffee talk ::

discuss amongst ya-selves...... 

victoria posted about where the ermahgerd meme originates and ERMAHGERD 

:: real housewives of cheshire ::
now airs weekends on Bravo
another brand of housewives has arrived (well... arrived awhile ago, but similar to Melbourne, they play it for us long after it originally airs there). 
Similar to the RHoMelbourne, I have no idea what they are saying half the time because of their accents.
also similar to Melbourne, half of them are named after tiny dog stuffed animals. 
where do these come from? Makes 'Apple' and 'North" sound normal. 
So far, it's an eh. But there's this : 
 It definely isn't no Ladies of London, but many are rich, plastic surgeried-up, and married to famous soccer players so I'll hang in there.  
HASHTAG no kidding I'll hang in there, what else am I going to do, go outdoors? 

:: vanderpump rules :: 
Um.  I can't believe Lala will just admit she's basically an escort for rich dudes on television.  Oh wait.... yes I can.  She's on the cast of Vanderpump Rules. 
I think she and baby-bus-boy-James are dating now.  This place is so incestuous I don't know how the whole staff doesn't have to call ins sick at the same time for a herpes cold sore outbreak.  
they literally are like a smaller, more famous version of The Lost Children of Rockdale County
for those of you who know what I am discussing with The Lost Children of Rockdale County, you either grew up in Georgia or had a sex ed teacher scare the hell out of in middle/high school.  
allow me to educate you..... or click the link above, this story was WIDESPREAD, you know, back when we grew up and teens sleeping around was A BIG HUGE DEAL.
they had us watch one of the frontline specials on it and I'll never forget this giant web of BAD BAD STD's they drew.

the catholic schools are very effective in scaring the hell of out you and making you want to vomit during sexual education. 
BUT, point begin, I seriously feel like this is a map of the employees at Sur. 
they are constantly in a tangled web of nastiness. 
(editors note: we had to play this high school in football one time at an AWAY game on THEIR campus and you best believe we did not even set foot in that bathroom.  screw the hover method, I'll hold it.   
second editors note: my husband just said he had no idea what I'm talking about so A. maybe only Georgia people knew about this or B. it's the catholic scare tactic thing really working years later that I thought THE WORLD knew about this or C. it's like most things in life and no one knows what I'm talking about) 
BUT I DIGRESS....... sorry for my educational syphillis moment there..... 

the only other thing I really took from Vanderpump Rules : 
scheana's husband shay has been drinking and popping pills and she never knew this before.... she doesn't give a crap about Lala's escort problems because
 she can "guarantee what she's going through is worse" 
so step off Lisa! and get me a pressed linen napkin for me to dap my eyes with so my eye makeup doesn't run and I lose a lash! 

last week we saw scheana's living room with blown up wedding photos everywhere.
this week, we walk in to her bedroom and there are even MORE blown up wedding photos all over the walls. 
I CAN'T.  I just love this show so much.  
I just wish I could find better photos of this! damn google!

I mean, no wonder Shay isn't coming home..... he wakes up from a drug or booze binge and sees blown up life size images of himself and of you and freaks the hell out.  I'd be scared to come home too.  
(but seriously addiction and marital problems are sad.....
 but no really, even more sad is the decor of this apartment). 

Um, I was reading US Weekly, and saw this blurb about Nick Jonas and diabetes.

So.... OK raising awareness for diabetes is wonderful, 
but striking a sexy pose subtly showing off your abs with your insulin pump is just WIERD.  
like, what are you looking at? and if you're going to lift your shirt LIFT YOUR SHIRT don't do a like "hey girl, I'm not lifting my shirt" lift of the shirt.  amiright?! 

my sister had texted me a few months ago that there were mozzarella sticks at her mcdonalds and I was praying that this would become a national thing.
I MEAN first we get ALL DAY breakfast and now we can have an ele-gant eye-talion appetizer to kick off a hot McD's date night?! 
be still my beating heart. 
never. gets. old. ever. 

:: below deck finale :: 
EDDIE? WTF?  Stone cold liar! 
And a good one at that.  If I hadn't seen and heard it with our own eyes and ears, I would have totally believed that Rocky was spreading rumors and Eddie was still the golden boy.
Damn Eddie. Oscar worthy dramatic performance.  What has boat life done to you? 
Eyeing the camera crew (uh uh... you also have had a microphone on the whole 6 weeks you dumbass) and grabbing scissors to break in to Rockys room to yell at her for talking lies about you?! 
Anyways, then he admits to it, they laugh and are cool with each other, and then they drink more and hate each other again because they argue about who started it.
whatever..... most importantly.... 
I hope my-boyfriend-andy-cohen has the doorbell ring WWHL-style and in walks EDDIE's GIRLFRIEND-OR-EX-GF AMY!  
AND Leon.
AND the drunk deckhand hippie that got kicked off. 
AND Kat from last season.

...... Ok I need to go to sleep for real..... 
:: jackhole of the week :: 
I channeled my Inner-Jeff-Lewis Friday night 
while the boys were picking up late night food on our way home. 
 (and I was like "No.... I'm good" and eye'd Kip so he would telepathically know to order a whole separate meal for me but pretend it was for him so I could feel good about not ordering late night food.  HASHTAG MARRIAGE)
He was, like, passed out mid meal.  It was wonderful. 
BUT I'm the jack hole because instead of just hiding behind him and smiling at the camera I totally messed up the photobomb and imitated him. WHAT WAS I THINKING?! 
DAMN IT. I guess I'll have to find other people to photobomb this weekend to redeem myself.

as always, ignore my own blatant grammatical errors whilst I make fun of others poor grammar during coffee talk on a weekly basis.  
#hypocrite  #sorryimnotsorry
I write these posts late at night while simultaneously watching Bravo, taking snapchats of my snoring husband, and making to do lists of everything I was supposed to do and didn't do that day and likely won't do the next day either.  or the day after that.
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