Friday, July 31, 2009

El Paso Import Company

Jennifer clued me into a furniture store that I cannot wait to visit. El Paso Import Company has furniture with old world and vintage charm that is just my style. I hope they have some type of lay away like old school style. My mom used to put all our back to school clothes on lay away. It was exciting once we finally paid the balance and got to bring everything home. I would always forget what I had bought so it was like opening presents. I heard that stores are bringing it back as opposed to credit cards which I think is a great idea. America needs to get over it's instant gratification needs and learn to actually pay for things in full before they get them. Ok so after that tangent here's the eye candy;
Dining Table
Entry table

Possible dining chairsCoffee table

Dresser for the tv in the bedroom

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Honeymoon Part 2, The Amalfi Coast

Riding on the high speed train from Rome to Salerno was quite a treat. The Italian countryside just whips by you. Tiny villages are situated on the sides of towering mountains just so. Being from flat-as-a-pancake Texas, the mountains seemed enormous. Golden fields sprawled across rolling hills and we whipped through tunnels. It was incredible. When we arrived to Salerno we took a SITA bus to the tiny town of Atrani. The bus was an adventure to say the least. For those of you going to the Amalfi coast beware if you get motion sickness. There is only one "highway". I say "highway" because it's a two lane road that meanders along the coastline with hairpin turns around every corner. I also use the term two lane loosely. The road barely fits two cars side by side and a passenger bus even less so. You also cannot see oncoming traffic around these turns. The Italian solution this is to honk your horn incessantly while not slowing down in the least as you go around the corner. I imagine the honking means "I'm coming around this corner no matter what mother f*ckers, watch the f*ck out because I'm not slowing down". Motorcyclists will also pass you by going into oncoming lanes of traffic while going around said turns. This highway also had numerous bridges that passed high above gaps in the mountains that truly only fit one car crossing at a time, oh, and the railings on these bridges were pieces of wood that came up no higher than your knees. So there we are on the hour long bus ride holding on for dear life, struggling with an Italian woman who wanted to close the windows in 90+ degree heat, me trying not get car sick, and not knowing where in the least we are supposed to get off at. Luckily I was distracted by the incredible view outside.

Finally we made it to Atrani and waited for the landlady to come get us. To get up to our apartment was a trek all it's own. We had to cross through about 5 doors, all locked, and climb 121 steps (yes, I counted). Once we settled into our apartment Scott's words said it all, "Are you kidding me with this apartment?!". This was our view... jokes here people. This was the view FROM OUR FREAKING BALCONY! After some squealing we decided to walk the 1 kilometer to Amalfi for dinner. On the walk there we turned a corner and viewed what could have only been the town of Amalfi and saw this...

"You've got to be kidding me!". Words (or pictures) can't describe our excitement at all of this. The sun was setting, the clouds were rolling out to the mediteranean sea between the mountains, the town was beginning to glitter with evening light. It was the quintisential Italian coastal town.

We walked past a row of buildings to the main square of the town. Amalfi is a total tourist town but it feels so quaint and authentic. We wandered to the end of all the shops and restaurants and back before settling on a place to eat.

This beautiful church overlooks the square. It has gold leaf on the side that makes it glitter at all times throughout the day.

The balcony of the church.
After we went to the apartment to sleep. We planned on waking up early the next day to catch a train to Pompeii. The next morning though we woke up early and decided not to go. We desperately wanted to just lay on the beach all day and take in the ocean. I thought we would later regret this decision but you know what? I don't in the least. We will have another chance to visit Pompeii and lounge on the mediteranean in this lifetime. So the next morning we walked back to Amalfi and the sight in the daylight took our breath away just like the night before.

There's not much else to say about what we did this day. We found some chairs on the beach to rent and pretty much layed there all day. Then we took a walk and went home. It was awesome.

The following day we took a hydrofoil boat to the Island of Capri. The view of the shoreline was amazing.

After we got to Capri we had some breakfast that cost 50 effing euros and then took this walkway we found that said "To Capri", meaning to the actual town of Capri, there are a few towns on the island. The walk up was pretty rough and steep. We had to stop several times to rest but as we made our way to the top we peeked in some beautiful courtyards.

At some point we stopped to pet this cat who promptly jumped in my lap. It was great!

Once at the top it was all worth it!

We spent a while walking around Capri, which has some amazing shopping if you're loaded. But we're not so it was not that fun. The streets are also very narrow (par for the course in Italy) and the sidewalks are narrow with tons of people and the cars are all noisy and smelly diesel ones, you get the point. Then we decided to take the trolley car back down to the beach.

Scott's hair and un-shaven face were getting scruffier by the day, it was so cute!
Once we go the water and realized, just like our breakfast and all the shops, the chairs were way too expensive to rent. Then I got a little cranky because we were spending too much money, we couldn't lay on the beach, and our boat didn't leave for another two hours so we were stuck there. Scott insisted that we blow about 80 euros on the grotto tour and I'm glad he did! The thing is a tourist trap don't get me wrong. You take a boat ride around to another side of the island for about 60 euros then you get into a smaller boat where you pay some other guys about 11 euros each to take you into the grotto for about 2 seconds. Then you're back at shore and the whole thing only took about 45 minutes. But you can see by the pictures it was like nothing you've ever seen before...

To get into the grotto you have to lay down and they pull a chain to get you through the opening. This freaked me out because I hate small spaces but it only lasts a second and then you're in a huge open area with luminescent water all around you. Incredible!
The next day we took another hydrofoil to spend a few hours in Positano. While we waited for the bus we saw this super sleepy dog.

Notice the tongue
Positano was by far my favorite city on the coast. The town itself has buildings from every color of the rainbow. The chairs on the beach were affordable, I was able to do some souvenir shopping (there are also almost the same designer stores as Capri), and we had the best pasta in the entire country of Italy here. Should you visit I believe the restaurant was called Pergola, right along the beach.

This is the largest sailboat I have ever seen. It's just chillin in the port at Amalfi, probably some millionares just cruisin around.
That evening we decided to try out this trail near our apartment. Our landlady said it lead to the town of Ravello and we could get there if we were "good walkers". We thought "sure we're good walkers let's do it" We were sorely mistaken. I must preface this next photo that it was the lowest incline on that whole trail. Most of the trail was stone steps so steep we could reach out our arms and climb them like a ladder. Everytime we would see what we thought to be the top of the stairs hid more stairs around a corner. After 45 minutes of this and still seeing signs that said Ravello was a kilometer away we gave up.

The pink building with the green doors is our apartment.
The next day we took the frightening bus ride back to Salerno to catch a train to Florence. Part 3 is next!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Honeymoon Part 1, Rome

For our honeymoon we planned the trip of a lifetime. Two and a half weeks in Italy covering 4 cities. I used the website to find apartments in each city. I figured it would be cheaper than a hotel and also give us a chance to stay somewhere more authentic and not in high-tourist areas. The first city we visted was Rome for 4 days.

We landed early in the morning and splurged 45 euros on a cheuffeured car to drive us to our apartment and it was worth it! We were so tired and had no energy or brain power to navigate our way around. When we got to our apartment and carried MY oversized suitcase up four or five flights of stairs to our studio apartment where we met Hanne, our landlady. Hanne is originally from Norway but has been living in Italy for over 30 years. She was very sweet and showed all around the apartment and the rooftop terrace which was absolutely beautiful. She was very chatty and unfortunately my head felt like it was going to explode from lack of sleep/food/and all other life comforts so I wasn't up for small talk. The apartment was tiny but clean and had these awesome keys. It seemed like everything in the apartment had to be done four times. To lock the door, four times, flush the toilet, four times.

Our apartment is on the top right with the pink flowers.

We slept for a few hours and awoke starving so we ventured out for food. We stayed in a part of Rome that was more suburban but we walked and got some pizza, some groceries, and ate the best gelato we'd had to date. That was until we had gelato everyday all over the entire country of Italy, all amazing by the way.

By then it was dark and we weren't sure what we had time to do. I decided, screw it, we're in Rome let's take the 20 minute bus ride to the city center and have dinner and see the Trevi fountain at night. If the buses stop running because it's too late we would just suck it up and pay the cab fair back. So we went into town and it was wonderful. Around every corner was an amazing looking building, cobblestone streets, everything was illuminated and we were in love. It was the perfect way to see Rome for the first time.

The next day we just wandered. Wandered to the Spanish Steps, the beautiful palazzos, and I did some shopping. We loved how all the cafes had outdoor seating and we could just sit and people watch. And since we don't eat meat, dining out was relatively inexpensive, we spent about 20 euros on each meal. Not too bad I guess.

The next day we made what turned out to be a long but worthwhile journey to see some catacombs that my brother suggested. The catacombs are located on a working monastery and the walk there (once off the two or three buses) was amazing. The picturesque Italian countryside...

Afterwards we had a tour around the Ancient Roman Forum and Collosium to get to. Our tour guide was quite informative and he loved to close his eyes while wafting back his hair and over-pronunciating words. I stopped listening after a while. The stories about Julius Cesaer and how life was in ancient Rome were quite interesting. The Colosseum was wonderful, tiny for a sports arena by today's standards. I wish we knew more about how all the contraptions they used to raise and lower gladiators and animals worked. Fascinating what their culture could create.

The next day we went to the Pantheon. I covertly mooched information of a nearby tour and found out that the only reason it has stood for so long and through so many earthquakes is of course it's innovative structure. Built in a dome shape the the thickness of it's walls gradually increases and you move further down the dome.

We also went to a flea market where I thought there would be cool Italian antiques but it was this... we left.

We wandered around finding our way by the most impressive city hall I've ever seen.

Then stumbled upon this garden of every species of roses imaginable. It was beautiful!

We eventually made our way to The Vatican. However, it was late and it was closed for tours so we didn't get to see the inside, oh well.

The next day we woke up early to catch the train to the Amalfi coast. To be continued!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Before and Afters

You may remember the befores, now here are the afters! I will post pictures of all our furniture in here after the boxes are gone (I'm in no rush to unpack ugh). Sorry for the bad lighting...

The master bath.

Currently the only thing working in this bathroom are the sinks, sigh. The plumber had to break out a big section of tiles in the shower because the pipes were leaking into the wall. Oh well, the shower was ugly anyways and I want to remodel this bathroom so I guess it didn't make it any worse. Scott is in the proces of installing our new toilet this week. Technically the garden tub works but it's covered in a layer of grime that can't be cleaned so I won't be bathing in it anytime soon. I got the inside of the cabinets cleaned by sanding them down and repainting them. Sad that the only thing that would clean them was a high powered sander. Also notice the huge mirrors are gone! We replaced the ones over the sink with pretty framed ones and that made such a huge difference. It really makes your bathroom look expensive but they only cost $60 a piece!

The master bedroom

No more leather walls! It's amazing how light and bright it is in here now. I also did the ceiling two-tone with a darker shade of paint. It looks really great in here now!

The office/spare bedroom

The cowboy mural packed up and headed out of town after two coats of primer and two coats of paint, sheesh!

Guest Bedroom

I don't think I showed a picture of this room before. I guess it wasn't frightening enough to be included in the befores. I love the leaded glass windows in here.

Spare Bathroom

This is basically our bathroom right now since nothing in the master works. No more texas flag wallpaper or sky blue walls!

Entry way

The infamous star that everyone but me seems to like.

Entry way

Also did the two-tone paint in here. Removed the star light fixture and cowboy hat wallpaper border.

Formal dining room

Brightened up with paint and a shiny new chandeleir.


The glossy coat over the brick is gone and a new mantle was built by my dad and properly affixed to the wall. Scott will be mounting the flat screen here.

Living Room

Nice and bright now!

A list of everything we did just to show off:

-repaint every surface including trim, doors, window seals, walls , ceilings (also removed popcorn), and cabinets

- floated the walls in the master bed and bath

-retextured walls in kitchen and spare bath, retextured ceilings
-took gloss off fireplace and rebuilt mantle, changed out fireplace gate thingy whatever its called

-replaced chandeleir, utility room light, hall light, entry light, porch light, two ceiling fans, bathroom light

-replaced every plug and switch and their covers

-replaced all a/c vents

- changed knobs and hinges on bathroom cabinets

-cleaned, cleaned, dear god it was so dirty

-killed weeds in flower bed and ripped them out, added weed and feed to the grass

-ripped up part of the back deck

-added some dirt to grade off ridge in the backyard

-replaced toilet in master (ok so its not done yet but it will be)

-installed radiant barrier

-replaced mailbox

-added street numbers out front

-replaced 3 faucets and removed giant ugly mirrors to replace with pretty framed ones
-removed giant wood blinds
-fixed hot water heater and water pressure
-replaced pipe in the master bath
-hung new towel, toilet paper, and hand towel racks in both bathrooms
-removed doors to kitchen area and saloon-looking doors in master bath
I feel like there's more that I can't remember right now but you get the gist. So thoughts?