On Self Control

Boy do I love old things. I love old things so much that I have had to have a serious talk with myself about the very finite amount of space in our apartment and how accumulating old cool objects at my current rate will end with me becoming the star of a Hoarders episode. My new rule for myself is that any object purchased must be functional in some way. No more dustables.

But.....there's always a but.

We went to a brocante this weekend with my family and I fell hard for this vintage Swiss army lantern (and a whole bunch of other army things...between the five of us we left that tent outfitted for all manner of apocalyptic adventures) and really felt that I could not continue to live life without it. From my limited understanding of the vendor, I need to find a somewhat medium sized, square-ish battery type thing and then fill the rest of the space with cotton and it will work. So it's not functional...yet. But it will be! I can also clip it to my belt for maximum fashion points.

The same cannot be said for the nineteenth century blank ledger book that I also ended up buying...but really, there was no other way around it. I also amended The Rule to read as follows: no restraint need be exercised when confronted with awesome old ledger books. Or old photos. Or vintage medic armbands...

Paris Part 1: More Marble Bodies than a Twilight Novel

I am prefacing this post by saying that these Paris posts are not in chronological order...I edited all the museum photos first, so I decided to post them first. 

Wanting to be cultured folk, we decided to spend a day at the Louvre, completely forgetting that sheer act of trying to view the art is a battle that takes, perseverance, skill and the patience of...well, much more patient people than we happen to be. The whole establishment is so beautiful though, that even after seeing the monstrous line we chose to press on. 

I really wanted to see the sculpture gallery. And not just because that wing is usually much quieter with tour groups buzzing through only occasionally in a very quiet and efficient manner.

The summer after I graduated high school, I saved up my money for a study abroad trip to Paris with a local community college. Since I was not about to use precious summer hours to do anything remotely resembling work, I signed up for poetry and watercolor classes. During that summer I cranked out some of the worst poetry ever written in the English language including but not limited to a poem told from the perspective of the stones of Notre Dame. Yes, that was just as awful as you might imagine.

While my skills at watercolor probably rivaled my (lack of) skills in poetry writing,  I did enjoy it and would escape the loud, drunk college student hostel we were staying in by coming to the Louvre and splitting my time between the Dutch masters and the sculpture wing. There are plenty of little nooks there to curl up in and think and try again and again to figure out how to draw hands correctly

I still can't get them right.

Okay, enough reminiscing. The sculptures were still as lovely and serene as ever. This statue of Artemis is one of my favorites.

One of the many things I love about the Louvre is that the palace is just as astounding as the art contained within. Every ceiling, door, stairwell and window frame is a testament to the thousands of craftsmen that helped build it.

Excellence in marble ruffs.

My dad is pretty hard to please in the art department, but he LOVES the Winged Victory. So I tried to do it justice in photos. This is one of several that I am really happy with. In the next post I will share more of the things that caught my eye during our time here.

It's. Almost. Friday. Huzzah.

Sports Section: The Italian Family Dinner

Guys, I like to eat. Love it in fact, there's not much that makes me happier than sitting down to a great meal. And, not to brag, but I can kind of hold my own at the dinner table. Now that we've gotten the foreshadowing taken care of, onto the main event.

On Saturday, we were invited by one of Anthony's cousins, Maria Olympia (can we please agree that this is the best name ever? She's the one standing up with the great smile) to a late lunch at their home just outside the walls of Barga. They were so welcoming and kind and when we sat down to eat I was pretty flipping happy.

The food was incredible, but I quickly learned that eating a true Italian meal is not a sport for the faint of heart. As my pasta dish was refilled again and again as if by magic I began to feel as though I had shown up to a marathon, without ever having run before. My brain began to cloud, my arm moved on autopilot. Cake from an old family recipe? Yes please. More wine? But of course. Thirds on the rosemary potatoes? Please get in my mouth right now. And on it went. Bite after delicious bite.

Somewhere around my fifth glass of wine, I began oscillating between a floaty warm ball of pasta happy place and a fluffy pillow of cake happy place. At that moment, Maria Olympia's husband leaned over and said "so, do you guys want to see my guns?"

UM...YES.

Above I give you Anthony, renegade killer of boars. Or at least he will be in September when he comes back to go hunting. I will be at home trying unsuccessfully to control my jealousy.

Anthony and his other cousin, Ivo. Owner of a very cool jacket.

After we had digested to the point at which movement was no longer painful, we took a trip over to see some property that Maria Olympia had inherited. 

Above, an outbuilding on the land.

The house was in rather (charmingly) rough shape, but the property was beautiful. 

Rolling hills with a great view of Barga in the distance.

All in all, a great day.

A Smattering of Little Things (predominantly food)

Outliers is one of those books that I picked up, expecting to get a third of the way through and lose all interest, but I was so fascinated that I tore through it and then my brain began spinning and doing back flips. A totally worthwhile read. At this moment I am impulsively downloading all three of Gladwell's other books to my kindle.

Tangent: I am having one of those weeks, nay, months it seems, where time is just getting away from me. On one hand it's frustrating because I just wish I could slow everything down and savor it more. On the other hand, reminding myself that we have only been here 2.75 months eases my inner perfectionist when I am wondering why I am not yet fluent in French.

(Sitting with a group of Italians at work is not helping this matter as learning to swear in Italian is WAY more fun than say, learning French verbs and their conjugations).

This past weekend we just hung out. Anthony was on a business trip until Saturday mid-morning and he was exhausted when he got home so we decided to lay low and make lots of great food. I don't know if there is something in the water here or what, but lately I have been wanting (I can't even believe I am typing this) to cook. Like full on simmer and saute crap and chop and blend and whatnot. This is probably a harbinger of the apocalypse, so when it happens, just remember that you read it here first (because there obviously won't be other things on your mind).

Pizza dough - the easiest thing that I never everever thought to make from scratch. Five ingredients and a few hours later put that blinker on because you are merging onto Gluttony Highway. Plus you get to punch the dough...does it get more fun than beating up your food? I think that it does not. Also, it's a law in Europeland that pizza must be eaten in its entirety on the day it is made. And we are nothing if not compliant.

Pinterest recipes finally got the better of me so I decided to make this incredible soup. Roasting a tray full of mushrooms, onions and herbs smelled so incredible that I kept cracking open the oven door to take a whiff. I can now say with conviction that a mushroom and onion steam is forever onward my preferred method of facial

(especially because it does not come with a Ukrainian lady looking at my face with a giant magnifier and clucking disapprovingly). Even though the recipe only called for one pound of mushrooms, I decided that two pounds would be more appropriate and was thrilled with the result...until I learned that cooked mushrooms give Anthony the heebie-jeebies. He may have actually tried to tell me that while my face was in the oven and I was huffing the steam. Whoops. Listening ears, Kim. We pureed a batch and the smoother consistency made all parties happy.

During our Saturday round of errands, we accidentally stumbled into Globus, the single greatest grocery store on planet earth. While it's pricey, we decided to indulge ourselves a leeetle bit and bought these incredible cherry tomatoes.

(And some incredible Parmesan and some incredible cheese straws and some incredible bread...and there may have been an incident where Anthony had to pry a tiny 20 franc sausage from my hands as I cried and mumbled something insane about Fresno peppers and cured meats being the only thing in the world that would ever make me happy...hilarious times you guys.)

While we brought a lot of storage containers with us, we have been fighting an ongoing battle between our American sized tupperware and our tiny Swiss fridge. Luckily Anthony found this company that makes all sizes and manners of canning jars so he ordered us a variety. They fit perfectly and are incredibly fun to fill with food...and squeal about how cute they look whenever I  open the fridge. Above, a caprese salad in progress. Aaaand finally,

The sunsets from our bedroom are unreal. I only opened up the exposure on this a bit - the rest is all nature. Every night it's different with the color gamut ranging from Malibu Barbie to Early Sixties Living Room. It's awesome. Beyond awesome. I'll try and not bog down too many posts with sunset photos, but I cannot make any guarantees. Because...I mean...look at it!

Happy Friday!