Monday, February 8, 2016


Americans celebrate Mardi Gras in this country and Carnival in Italy. Venice is where Jim and I enjoyed the celebrations, traveling there from Rome where we enjoyed the festivities there first. I am bringing an old post back from the archives. Take the tour with me as I travel back to Venice.

Mardi Gras, also called Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, in English, refers to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of The Epiphany (Three King's Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. 
                                                                                     Source Wikipedia

Today in New Orleans, the King Cake is an oval-shaped braided cake similar to a coffee cake which has cinnamon within the braids and is decorated with icing and sugar the colors of gold (God's power), green (faith in Christ), and purple (Justice of God) and contains a tiny plastic baby symbolic of the Baby Jesus usually baked within but sometimes placed within the cake after it has been baked. (My cake was from the bakery and I place the Baby Jesus in the center). Religious tradition is bound to the King Cake. It is not surprising that the origin of the modern King Cake can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when popular devotion during Christmas not only centered on Jesus Christ, but, also included an interest in the "Three Wise Men," or "kings," who had followed a star leading them to pay homage to the Christ Child. The "Epiphany," a Christian festival held on January 6th honors the Three Wise Men" for having sought the worlds' Savior. It is also referred to as "Twelfth Night" since it arrives 12 days after Christmas. As such, The English definition of the term "epiphany" is a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way. "The Three Wise Men" are considered "wise" because they sought the Savior!
                                                                                                 Source, Wikipedia and Google

Mardi Gras beads surround the"King Cake" I served for breakfast to my weekend guests

Carnival in Venice, Italy
The Carnival of Venice is an annual festival, held in Venice, Italy. The Carnival ends the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The festival is world-famed for its elaborate masks.
                                                                                     Source Wikipedia

Tour guide today ~ Emily

Google images

Venice has always conjured up fantasies of romantic holidays for everyone but it can also be a dark and mysterious place. With its dark narrow passageways, water lapping onto the sides of centuries' old buildings, the sleek black gondola and gondolier gliding under pedestrian bridges and meeting the passersby dressed in costume and mask are spooky to say the least.
While on a trip to Rome we took the train to Venice for an overnight visit. Let me say do not plan on only one night in Venice.  Simply, it is just not long enough, but a great reason to return. We just happend to plan this trip during Carnival. I really didn't think I would find a hotel room but my sister gave me the name of the boutique hotel Concordia she and her husband stayed in while in Venice. When I called I told them my sister recommended them and they not only found a room for us at a great price, we had a beautiful fruit basket in our room compliments of the management. We strolled the beautiful streets while watching locals dressed in costume, met our friends for dinner and had a night cap at Harry's Bar. The next morning we were typical tourist, shopped a little and went to a glass factory. We had lunch on the Piazza and ended the day with our gondola ride. It was amazing seeing centuries' old buildings from the canals. What a special trip.
I hope you enjoy the tour of Venice.

Jim on bridge, Grand Canal

 Piazza San Marco
Location of famous Harry's Bar where we had a Bellini

Welcome Fruit Basket in Hotel Room

Our lovely room overlooked Piazza San Marco

View Out the Window from the Bed

Window Shopping

Locals in Costume

Gondola Ride
The Highlight of a trip to Venice

Meet my Gondolier Marco
after this trip Marco appeared on the cover of Smithsonian  Magazine
I think I know why, any guesses?


Under the Bridge of Sighs

His Gondola was Gorgeous!

The Costumed locals loved to have their photographs made

My Escort from the Hotel to the Water Taxi to the mainland

Back in Rome the children were celebrating Carnival

I hope you enjoyed my tour of Venice and Carnival. I would love to hear from you if you have traveled to Venice or perhaps fantasized of traveling there someday.

We did return to Italy and to Venice again where we spent several days. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


My kitchen renovation

This old kitchen is not so old. We built this home in 1998 but I've been wanting to update with new countertops and backsplash and white cabinets for a classic, timeless look.  My kitchen project began a few years ago when we added the veranda across the back of the house. I replaced the doors with the french four pane doors you see in the photo below. While dragging my feet with this project, the microwave just quit! I decided to just go ahead and replace all the appliances.  I replaced all of my black appliances with stainless. I moved my fridge into the garage and donated the others. Last summer we finally started the kitchen demo and and finished the work last fall. A few setbacks,  one was the wrong countertops were delivered and had to be sent back and that took a little over a week. I think we did pretty good time wise. The main part of the project took about six weeks including the week waiting for the right marble.
Please join me for a look back on my kitchen renovation project. Be warned, it may be a little long.

This old kitchen,"before"
Breakfast area looking into kitchen.
Notice the flat cove molding on top of cabinets

 Entrance into kitchen from back foyer, my second front door

Kitchen and breakfast area

Open shelves opposite the kitchen sink

The "Facelift"
Selecting the perfect countertop 

Granite, quartz, marble, and sandstone, endless options. 

Meet Travis. He was so nice and patient helping me find just the right slabs of white carrera marble. I thought about granite and love it but decided to follow my dream and go with marble. I decided on white carrera with soft gray veining. I didn't want a dramatic kitchen and using a marble with bolder veining would not provide the look I was after. Although I love bolder veining I was going for classic, timeless and neutral. A kitchen I could change on a whim with accessories and color. I painted the walls a medium grey, Benjamin Moore smoke embers. The grey is a good contrast with the white cabinets and adds a light and airy feel to the room. I also carried the color into the family room, back foyer and hallway, back bath and the powder room off the main foyer. I plan to paint the remainder interior this year.

Using templates to layout the countertops

Demolition day for countertops and backsplash

I kid you not, it was like moving!

Hanging plastic over doors and openings

Meet Dwayne, my cabinet man. He custom built my cabinets all those years ago and  he was the man to "tweak" the changes I wanted to my cabinets. Here he is removing the flat cove molding and replacing it with crown molding. It was primed for painting so one less step for the painters. Dwayne is such a talent, he can do anything with wood!

I wanted my center island painted black. I love how the black contrasts with the white cabinets. The very plain island needed something so I ask Dwayne to build raised panels. Primed and ready to paint. 

Marble countertops installed

The tile on the countertops and backsplash were a nightmare to remove! A good portion of the drywall went with it and had to be patched. 

Subway tile backsplash being installed

Tile work finished

Painters are here! They started with the island and here is the French hutch getting a coat of primer. The hutch and island are the same color. The square colors on the walls are color samples. I looked at so many grey colors, then narrowed it down to six paint samples.

Stained shelves get a coat of primer after sanding. All cabinet doors were removed and painted at the painter's shop.

This old kitchen, "after"

My dream kitchen come true! I love how the black island anchors the kitchen. The contrast of grey walls, white cabinets, black island and hutch and the stainless appliances has exactly the look I love. 

New light fixtures

Remember those open shelves, I asked Dwayne to cover them with new doors. A new home for a Quimper collection.

Curtains are custom, linen in a darker silver/grey and natural

Kohler apron sink and Pfister bridge faucet

Chandelier from Horchow

The French Hutch painted black

Grey porcelain hardware from Lowe's



I really have enjoyed this new look. No, not perfect but a look I love and hope to enjoy for years. Not exactly a DIY, but my husband and I did all the planning, hired all the subcontractors and Jim replace all the under counter lighting. We did it on a budget that didn't break the bank. A few more"tweaks" to go before I'm finished.  I'm still looking for the perfect chairs to go with my antique table and plans to refinish the floors in the kitchen and family room. Our sweet springer spaniel Bentley, left his scratch marks on the floors, but that's ok! New rugs are also on the wish list.  I am still enjoying finding just the right look, this may take awhile!
If you are still here, thank you. I do appreciate everyone of your comments. Hope you will leave a comment so I will know you stopped by..