mapped it: Monterosso al Mare of the Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque TerreBonjourno!  Welcome to our first stop in Italy: Monterosso, the largest of the five seaside villages built into the cliffs along the Italian Riviera.  This particular town has a lovely beach that lends to its resort rep.  Add to that some Old World charm & it is all too easy to relax & set your worries aside.

When we first arrived by train to the darling town of Monterosso, Greg & I had grand plans of using this as our launch point for exploring all five postcard-worthy villages.  The hiking trails between the villages are known for their spectacular views & each town has its own unique lifestyle to enthrall you.  Well, supposedly.  I might be able to confirm this for you had a storm not rolled in from the Ligurian Sea to disrupt us.

The storm lasted all three days of our stay, deciding finally to relent as we headed for the train station on our final day.  I scored the above snapshot as we grabbed lunch just before leaving town.  You may think a little storm couldn’t rain on our parade, but the hiking trails are shut down during inclement weather for safety reasons.  So we made the best of being stuck in this Italian seaside village, & that certainly wasn’t hard to do.

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We strolled through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, stopping off at little shops full of delightful handmade goods & any beautiful building that caught our eye.  The Church of St. John Baptist (Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista) is striking with a large rose window & striped serpentine decor.  The church, originally built at the very beginning of the 14th century, was recovering from a devastating flood in 2011.  You could see the flood lines along the wall but that certainly didn’t take away from the beauty of this historic building.

IMG_8105 (2)We stayed just off the main road alongside the sea at the 5 Terre Hotel.  We instantly loved the warmth of the hotel staff & felt right at home when greeted by the resident calico cat (it reminded us of our sweet Chelsea cat).  Our floor-length windows opened up above the garden, which smelled delightfully fresh from the abundant rain.  Greg & I spent most of our time finding keepsakes for our loved ones & sampling the wine of the region: a drier white made from a combination of grapes & the sticky-sweet wine called sciacchetrà produced out of the late harvest.  Only white wine can be produced in the Cinque Terre soil, but as I tend to go for the whites, that was quite fine by me.  The sciacchetrà proved to be too sweet even for me (I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, seriously), but the biscotti paired with it tasted lovely dipped in the dessert wine.

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Stop in next week to learn about the unique food presentation we experienced here in the Cinque Terre.  Till then, ciao!

mapped it: Memphis, Tennessee

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Jen & I are saying goodbye to long walks along the beach, sunsets over the ocean, & salty wind that instantly puts one’s mind at ease.  Florida treated us well, but no worries, we still managed to spoil ourselves on the road trip home…

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After saying au revoir to the Florida coast, we headed home to St. Louis but not before stopping off in the land of the delta blues: Memphis, Tennessee.  I scored a sweet discount on the Hilton through Expedia.  After a ten-hour drive headed north across the States, we opted to stay at the gorgeous hotel for a couple of drinks at the bar.

The next morning when we felt more energized, the four of us ventured out to the famous Beale Street.  Built on blues and rich with history, Beale street is lined with smell-good barbeque joints & clubs with music that spills onto the streets to liven your every step.  There’s no better place to jazz up your weekend.  Jen & I had enjoyed this town before & wish we had more time in Memphis to show the gents around.

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Even though we had just an afternoon to live it up in this landmark city of the South, we made the most of our time & swung by Silky O’ Sullivan’s for lunch.  Aaron & Jen selected the Bloody Mary bar to spice up the popular tomato juice & vodka concoction & I started with a new spin on the mimosa that included a touch of peach.  We loaded up on pulled pork, jumbo shrimp, ribs & more all slathered in delicious barbeque sauce.

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Beale Street caters to pedestrians, blocking off automobiles on Saturday nights & barricading for minimal traffic during the day.  You can take your drink to go (as long as it is in a plastic cup) & explore the many gift shops, unique & touristy alike, along the cobbled street.  I grabbed a Hurricane the size of my head (wowza!) & it offered a nice refreshing distraction from the Southern summer heat as we took our time stopping in at each place that caught our eye.

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Memphis provided us with one last final hurrah before we headed home to St. Louis & that city sure treated us right!  If you ever get a chance to visit, there is just so much to see.  From Elvis Presley’s mansion to Sun Records to the parade of ducks atop the Peabody or the Orpheum right on Beale Street, you’ll find plenty to do.  Stop in next week for advice on planning your own wonderful adventure!

mapped it: Treasure Island, Florida

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What is the number one reason people travel to the coast?

Necessary beach therapy.  It was indeed requisite beach time.

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Before we took #BeachBoundBob to his destination, we explored the downtown area of St. Pete’s Beach for some souvenir shopping & popped in at a local brewery, Green Bench Brewing Company.  Aaron & Jen came away with a couple of growlers & souvenir glasses.

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Some of us (ahem) simply enjoyed the company of great friends & enjoyed the lively atmosphere of the tasting room.  We could see the crew shooting hoops just beyond the bar where the fermentation tanks were kept.  The laidback groove of everyone was enough to make anyone want to jive right alongside.

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We had to introduce our longtime friend (& college roommate) Erin to that amaaazing saltwater pool with the fantastic view.

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But finally…it was time.  #BeachBliss

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We made it over to Treasure Island (crossing a drawbridge to do so) just in time to catch a few rays before a gorgeous sunset.  Smooth sands, warm waters, & a balmy breeze made our rendezvous with the beach everything we needed it to be.

Treasure Island 18#BeachBoundBob wishes he could walk around on those…what do you call them?
Oh yeah, feeeeeet!

Treasure Island 15It also made it really hard to leave…

Stop in next week to find out to what city we stopped off at before heading home!

muse moments

Welcome to the beautiful weekend!  With Fall right around the corner (it starts officially on Monday!), I’m appreciating the last few days of summer while embracing the autumn season.  After all, what’s not to love about the pumpkin flavor, pulling out the boot collection or leaves turning brilliant hues in their final defiance?  Make the most of your remaining summer days, ladies & gents, & I’ll see you when the new season begins!  Until then, enjoy my latest muse moments from around the web:

Next Wednesday marks our 4-year wedding anniversary!  (Can we still be considered newlyweds?!)  Greg & I won’t celebrate till next weekend, but it doesn’t mean we’re not feeling the romance now.  After stumbling upon this beautiful wedding photo, I think that should we ever do a vow renewal,  we’d have to get married in a library.  We’re both book-lovers (so much so that we’re building a library right inside our house!) & this wedding picture simply sealed the deal.

These ornate shades have a little steampunk essence to them with some glam & mad scientist rolled in.  I go through sunglasses like crazy since I wear them nearly every day (& maybe I’m a little klutzy…), so I think these will have to be the latest addition to my quickly depleting collection.

Ever struggle with the balance to look professional & stay fashionable?  I love being a woman.  & I love dressing the part.  I like feminine cuts & button details & bright colors & lots of lace.  I’m always on the search for inspiration for my work wardrobe so that I can bring in those girly touches & rock it like a boss.

With one final farewell to these glorious summer days, I’m reminiscing about our recent beach bound adventures & still dreaming of those days when I lounged around by the sea, absorbed in the latest Game of Thrones novel.

It’s that glorious time of the year again…  We all get to dress up as our favorite characters or classic monsters or what-have-you & toast to All Hallows Eve.  Greg & I host a big Halloween shindig every year & I am getting excited the closer we get to the celebration!  I’ve got my costume planned…how about you?