Taking a Break

Ciao a tutti,

I am sad to say that I will be taking a hiatus from my blogging duties on Karyn’s Corner. My reasons? Well, I would have to say life is crazy busy but not always with things I would put on a blog. I mean, how many times can I tell you about school work, dinner, and laundry. I am pretty sure those are my three mainstays right now.  

It is true that Will and I still go adventuring when we can, and I will be working to maintain my Facebook page Karyns Corner and my Instagram page karyns_corner. In fact, I am hoping to get pictures of Carnevale up this weekend from last weekend. We also have some friends coming into town in March and then family visiting in May so please keep your eyes on the lookout for any shenanigans that I may have engaged in, and probably drug Will with me.

I hope that at some point in the future I will be able to return to blogging more often, until that day

Ciao i miei amici 

 

Carnevale is Here!, Well, almost…

Ciao a Tutti

Do you love to dress up and pretend to be someone else? I do! I always have; dress up was my favorite game when I was a child, even more than playing with dolls I loved to pretend I was someone else.

Someone famous, someone that made things happen, someone beautiful and exciting. Well, I am not famous but I have spent my life making things happen (some good, some bad) and my husband tells me I am beautiful and I keep his life exciting so there you have it. Regardless of my life, which really is wonderful, I still like to play dress up. That’s what Renaissance fairs are about, and when we lived in Arizona we spent several months acting for a nonprofit on the streets of Tombstone.

It has always been a lot of fun to dress up and now we get to start a whole new kind of dressing up!

Carnevale!

The Venezia Carnevale happens once a year. Much like Mardis Gras in Louisana or Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Yet in many ways Carnevale in Venezia is different.

All of them are precursors to Lent (the forty days before Easter, which is also a time in the church where the give up meat and other excesses). Usually, they are celebrated for two or three weeks culminating on Fat Tuesday the day before Ash Wednesday. Carnevale may come from the Latin ‘Farewell to meat’ but don’t try a google translation of this it only comes back as ‘flesh farewell’, which is a bit odd.

It is said that Carnevale in Venezia traditionally began in 1162 to celebrate a victory of the Republic of Venice against the Patriarch of Aquileia. It enjoyed many years of popularity and festivities.

Masks are popular in Carnevale but have been both banned and allowed depending on historical times and rulers. One of the things masks have allowed is anonymity that could not be achieved without them. For one day (or several) peasants could be nobles and nobles could be anybody. Masks have certain significance also, many of them date back to the theater such as the Arlecchino (Harlequin), the Colombina, Pantalone, and the Zanni. Others like Volta are the classic white porcelain mask, the Medico Della Peste (the plague doctor), and the Bauta with no mouth but a triangular projected chin so the wearer doesn’t have to take off the mask to eat or drink. In the 18th century, it was common to wear a black velvet mask over one’s faces when visiting a gambling hall or another location of ill repute. In 1797 Carnevale was forbidden and the use of masks became against the law.

Our masks come from a beautiful lady, Giuse, who hand paints and decorates all the masks she sells. She has been known to make them to order if you have a particular costume but she has so many extraordinary masks that finding a unique one is never a problem. She is an artist with color and flair bringing about the best of Venetian masks for her customers.

In 1979 there was a push by the governing body in Venetia to bring culture and history back to the city and so Carnevale was reinstated. Today millions visit Venezia during the Carnevale time and the streets become so crowded that it is almost impossible to move.

To this spectacular event Will and I, with friends will be going for two different Saturdays, one in February and one in March. It is not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic. The crush of humanity is almost awe-inspiring.  

Our costumes will not be the overly elegant of some that have worked on theirs for a year or more (no, in my usual order of idiocy I gave myself roughly a month, pretty typical for most of my harebrained schemes).

However, I am pretty pleased with my creation for the short time period I had. A couple pictures of my costume work in progress but for more you will have to wait until I actually go to Carnevale in a little over 2 weeks. Between now and then, well, school is eating a large chunk of my time and Will and I have a weekend in London planned (kind of an anniversary/valentines day, get out of the country trip if that makes sense).

 

In March I will be planning for one of my best friends to visit me and we will be taking a whirlwind trip of Italy (plus school work) and daily life as I know it here in Vicenza.

Check the Instagram feed or Karyns Corner of Facebook to see the London and Carnevale pictures. And until we meet again

Ciao miei Amici

A New Year and Too Much Stuff Happening

Ciao a Tutti,

Oh my goodness, so much going on. The holidays exploded all over my best-laid plans and took me on a roller coaster ride of fun, family, laughter, and love. (and a little flu but, hey, you gotta take the bad with the good.)

I am not complaining but just a little saddened that my time with my blog friends is going to be changing. Of course, I am also happy because I think in the long run the changes will all be for the better. Let me tell you about my plans for the future of Karyn’s Corner before I tell you about the last month.

I am trying to get a better handle on how social media works so I am able to utilize it in my blogging, Instagram, and various other media outlets. To that end, I will be releasing only one blog per month and working to release 

more Instagram posts. (If you don’t follow me on Instagram now is the time to jump on that bandwagon – you can find me @ karyns_corner) 

I know some of you keep up with the crazy life that Will and I have by the blog but I encourage you to check out the Instagram feed and also ‘like’ my ‘Karyns Corner’ page on facebook. And please, please, please be a little patient with me as I work to get this whole social media shebang up and running. January and February might be a little bumpy with school starting but I am hoping to have a handle on my posting by March. (Fingers crossed, I think the learning curve might be a little steep.)

So, what have I been up to the last month?

Probably the same as many of you, holidays, too much food, a little too much wine, not enough gelato (apparently 32 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold even for my love of gelato). Family, fun, laughter, oh and did I mention my parents came to stay with Will and me for a month.

First, let me say that even though I love my parents and my parents love me (and Will too) 28 days away from your own environment might be too long to endure. It’s a weird feeling when you are still semi-living out of a suitcase and don’t really have your own things or your own routine. That being said we had a really good time. Minus the fact that my mom brought us the flu and Will had to endure being dragged all over northern Italy sick. Thank goodness for farmacia’s (The Italian version of a pharmacy but better in many ways).

So a quick review of the last month and then please check out my Facebook page and Instagram for some more information and photos.

We started with a week in Firenze (Florence). My parents loved the old streets as much as I do. We visited the Gelateria Castellina, as many of you know I judge all other gelaterias by this spectacular gelato. It is about 30-40 minutes outside of Firenze, up in the hills, but so worth every minute for the taste of this gelato is amazing. Okay, so I could wax poetic about Gelateria Castellina for days but for the sake of word count let me move on.

The Firenze Duomo was as awe-inspiring as the first time I saw it. (Though I admit this is not my best photograph.) It will always bring mist to my eyes when I view it after an absence. I read a great book on the construction of the Dome and if anyone is interested I would highly recommend Ross Kings’s Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture. Though we did not climb the Dome this trip it is back on my ‘To Do Again’ list so I can look for some of Brunelleschi’s architecture in action. Will pointed out to my parents the safest spot in Firenze. There is a circle of marble on the ground commemorating the night of January 27, 1601, when the golden ball on top of the cupola was hit by lighting, detached, rolled down the dome and fell to hit the exact spot that the circle of marble now marks. Now, if you believe that lightning never strikes twice you know the safest spot in Firenze.

The holiday lights all over Firenze were ablaze and many of the shop windows were decorated in fun displays. We took a food tour with a group called ‘With Locals’ and our guide Christy was a great source of tasty information.

Will and I were also able to experience the Odeon Theater, a local old fashioned theater that plays the newest, hottest movies out – in the language they were filmed in- we saw Bohemian Rhapsody and I was very grateful to be able to see it in a giant theater, sitting in a plush golden chair.

Also, Firenze seems to have an agreement with Heidelberg, Germany and the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) was down in the Santa Croce Piazza. We like a good Weihnachtsmarkt and enjoyed the sights and smells of a mini German market.

Oh, and before we leave Firenze I need to do a quick shout out to one of our favorite restaurants in town Rooster Cafe on Via Porta Rossa. The food, the atmosphere, and the service are outstanding. Plus they have a house wine to die for. If you are in Firenze, even just for a night hit up Rooster Cafe for some tasty food.

After we came home to Vicenza we spent the days leading up to Christmas in a baking frenzy, fattigman, crispels, thumbprints, jammies, molasses spice, and chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies all made their appearance at our house.

Christmas came and went with a nice meal, presents from family near and far and a lot of love.

 

The day after Christmas we went to Venezia (Venice) to see the Moscow Ballet perform Swan Lake. It was magical, it took place in Teatro Goldoni, a theater built in 1622. Small but beautiful and pretty comfortable seats. Then it was a couple of days to prepare for a weekend in Milan.

 

Milan was hosting a Caravaggio exhibit in multimedia,

it was the story of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s life. He died in July of 1610 at age 38; he was a huge loss to the artistic community but his importance was lost and only rediscovered in the last century. The exhibit was amazing, audio and video while sitting in a room with large screens on three sides, immersing you in the life of Caravaggio. It was very, very well done. I may be a little biased since I am a huge Caravaggio fan but preferences are how things gain importance in our lives, so there you have it.

While in Milan my parents went to see The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, another painting worth seeing. (If you remember Will and I went to see it in October.) Then we all took a tour of the Casa degli Atellani where Leonardo’s personal vineyard was. It is an interesting house that has long times to the city and the Sforza family.

On our way home from Milan we stopped in Verona to take a tour of the Arena, get some gelato (of course) and my parents also went on a tour of nativities from all over the world.

Home once more we took a trip to Murano to see glass blowing in action, we also took a quick trip to Asiago to check outFort Corbin from World War I. Then back to Venice for another Leonardo Museum a quick view of San Marco Piazza and some shopping to round out my parents trip.

It was a long but delightful month and I am always happy when my family can visit me and I can share some of my life with them.

Now that the visit is over and school is about to start my life is going to undergo some shifts. There will still be adventures but probably more spread out and because of that and my commitment to school, I will, as I said earlier, be writing only once a month. But I am hoping to supplement that with my Instagram and Facebook. It’s going to be a great year and I look forward to sharing it all with you.

Ciao miei amici

 

Adhesive Ducks, Decorating, and the Pretzel Quest

Ciao,

Any Big Bang Theory fans in this group? If not, you should give it a try, honestly the episodes are under a half hour and great for a quick break from homework or work. Unless you are a binge watcher but that’s your problem. So anyway, one of my favorite episodes is called ‘The Adhesive Duck Deficiency’. In the episode *spoiler alert* (3rd season, 8th episode) Penny falls in the shower and dislocates her shoulder. She must ask Sheldon for help to get her to the hospital. He informs her that she should get some adhesive strips for the bottom of her tub so she won’t slip, that he has added whimsical ducks to his tub and so on it goes.

Well, I had my own Adhesive Duck Deficiency today while I was trying to shave. FYI I am fine, no need to make an emergency room trip.

Now, I have been complaining to Will that the shower is too slippery and I need to get some kind of bath mat in the shower, and I would dearly love to blame him for this but since I have the car as often as he does (sometimes more) the fact that there is no bath mat in our shower is really only my fault. Humiliating to realize that, to quote Sheldon, “…it seems rather ironic that for want of 99 cent adhesive ducks we both might die in a fiery car crash.” Or in my case have a perfect four lined imprint of my shaving razor on the side of my chest. Yeah, seriously not kidding about that, oh and I apparently triggered the shower pull (an alarm in European showers that is on a pull rope that sets off a buzzer to summon help) not that anyone was available to come to my aid if I had really needed help. To add insult to injury as I was getting dressed with my gauze taped chest I slipped on a slick spot on our hardwood floor (too much pledge to clean with yesterday) and… yep you guessed it. My butt hit floor for the second time in less than a half hour. Not quite sure why the universe has it out for me today but I had to get my whining out of the way before I could actually write about my holiday (or momentarily lacking) spirit.

I told you that in my family we have an ornament tradition, well this was really the first time that Will actually got to see my ornament collection. I know, it’s crazy but we haven’t had a real tree, or our own tree since we got together. I really missed the excitement of unwrapping each ornament and trying to remember the year I received it. It’s not that easy, you might remember the feeling you had unwrapping it or maybe how you had hung it on this tree or that one but other than the ones that have a date already on them or the one I know is my first ornament I am mostly at a loss. The moral of this tale is that if you give an ornament as a gift consider putting a year (and potentially where it was bought or its significance) on the ornament in an obscure area so that the recipient can savor the memory even more.

But back to decorating the tree, I had a great time telling Will what I remembered about each ornament and he shared the history of the ornaments he had acquired. I can say our tree is very unique and I love it that way.

I took pictures of the reindeer and trees decorated but I admit the trees look all shiny when their lights come on at night.

The tree is up and the house is decorated. I have put lights and garland on the balcony, and festooned my reindeer and trees outside.

The house is even clean, now I am just two short days away from my parents arriving for a month! Yep, I am pretty excited about that!

So with the house ready for Christmas, I am just waiting for my mom to show up so we can do some holiday cookie baking.

First we are going to spend a week in Firenze (Florence) and while we are there we are going to have dinner with my dad and step-mom. Crazy to have all my parents together in one city on the other side of the pond but I am looking forward to it.

But after Firenze it is back to slave over a hot stove for a couple of days, just kidding there will only be a little slaving and lots of goodies. I will probably even make a batch of croissants and try my pretzel luck again.

Pretzels have been my newest obsession since we came back from Austria. It is so hard, no let’s say impossible, to find pretzels in Italy.

Pretzels are not as easy as one would think, I have tried several recipes and I have found the same lack of outer chewy crust while keeping the inner pretzel dough soft. They just go soft, like mushy soft, not even a good roll crust.

After additional research I have learned that to make pretzels you need to dip them in a solution of water and food grade lye.

Yes, you read that correctly. Food grade lye!

I didn’t know that lye could be found in a food grade, I just assumed it was for making soap and burning peoples skin and intestines if ingested.

Like many other strange inventions I would have loved to know who the first person to make this discovery was and why, for all that is holy, did they decide to dip their bread in a dangerous chemical.

Plus how many people did they have to feed it to before they realized that they had to neutralize the lye. I am, of course, speculating, pretzels probably have a fascinating history; history about lye, that is, the history of pretzels as they exist in shape and soft versus hard and all that pretzely stuff is easy to find.

Back to lye, it is not easy to obtain, you can’t ship it from the States and I don’t know if I dare try and find it over here because I want to make sure I understand all the directions. (My language skills have progressed nicely but not to the point where I feel confident about not poisoning Will and I by Pretzel digestion) Plus the rumor is that baking the bread neutralizes the lye but should I chance it? Yikes! Maybe not, at least not if I am reading the directions in Italian.

After much research by Will and I we have learned that we can bake the baking soda and make it more lye-like. So that will be my goal for the holidays, to make pretzely-pretzels and other tasty goodies.

I might even take pictures of everything… because let’s be honest, I wasn’t so on the ball this last week!

Until then Ciao miei Amici

Getting Ready

Ciao,

It’s been awhile, though part of me is getting prepared for the start of next term when I am hoping to get 1-2 blog’s in a month I wasn’t quite anticipating starting the slow down just yet.

No excuses really, just life, travel, exhaustion, a little sick time and the holidays coming up. This post isn’t really about any grand adventures (shocking, I know) but more just “hey, life and all”.

I have been anticipating decorating for the holidays, it will be the first time in years that I have been able to have a tree with all the ornaments I have collected from childhood (it is a long standing tradition in our family that each year my mother gives us an ornament, I have passed on this tradition to my own child and now also my grandson). That means I have at least forty something ornaments, but honestly I have a lot more ornaments than forty. Will and I voted for a fake tree, sad I know but we will be vacationing in Florence for a week just as the tree is supposed to be receiving its daily doses of water and I don’t want to come home to a dead tree just days before Christmas. I also want to have my tree up for longer than 3 days. Soooooo non real tree it is.

I also have outside trees and wooden reindeer that I have been dragging from state to state and country to country for roughly ten years. I haven’t had them out since we moved across the ocean and they might be a little worse for wear (plus the reindeer really need new antlers, otherwise known as twigs). I think I can get them through this Christmas season but then I will need to at least pull some of the limbs from the trees and replace them with less shedding ones.

I have also learned that finding craft supplies in European countries is not as easy as going to Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann’s or whatever your favorite craft emporium might be. The crafting bug is not an American thing but America does make it easier for the aspiring decorator.

I have been piecemealing my decorations together from wherever I can find the items I need and I am pretty excited to get it all setup but not until after Thanksgiving. Not because the Europeans celebrate Thanksgiving, that is definitely an American only holiday, but we are headed up to Innsbruck Austria tomorrow morning. While America gorges on turkey and pumpkin pie I will be eating wurst, schnitzel, and waffles with a hot mug of Gluhwein in my hands. See, the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets) opens early in Austria and I can’t wait to go and start my holiday season.

Because we are in Europe I have been trying to finish up my Christmas shopping to send back to the States. Last weekend we made a quick trip to Venezia to see if the streets were still flooded and grab an item or two I had seen there previously. As we made our way over the main bridge leading us onto the true island I realized I had forgotten my phone. I surprised Will when I decided not to go back to the car and get it. He was less surprised that I kept asking for his phone to take pictures. Honestly, I only asked a couple of times, hence why there was no posts up about our quick Venezia run. It was still a good day, and yes, despite the cool weather we hit up Suso. Our favorite Venezia gelateria. Packages purchased and some of them even ready to mail off I finally feel like I might be getting a handle on the season. Though I am still looking for a couple small things before I send other boxes in to the postal system.

I also made almond croissants. My dad has requested them, though I have no idea how to keep croissants crispy and fresh for more than a couple of hours (this is that moment where suggestions would be welcome. Seriously, if you have any croissant insights let me know!!!)

I think over all my croissant skills are improving but since this is only the third time I have made them (because croissants are really labor intensive, well not so much labor intensive as time intensive and patience intensive) I probably need to make several more batches before I can make that claim. It is okay because my neighbor doesn’t like to bake and her kids and husband lie treats (all my extras go next door and in return they supply me with eggs, plus they are just awesome neighbors)

Yesterday, I began a deep clean of the house in anticipation of my mom and stepdad arriving in December. As I told my husband, cleaning is my own way of procrastinating. He told me most people procrastinate so they don’t have to clean and that I don’t understand how procrastination works. I tried to explain that if I procrastinate by doing something I liked I would feel guilty. He ruefully shook his head at me but there you have it; we have a clean house but I didn’t get the blog out yesterday.

All in all it has been a good November and I am sure I will have adventures to tell you about after we have a weekend in Austria and Germany, so until then.

Ciao miei Amici