Monday, June 25, 2012

Outdoor Shower Season!

Happy Summer!
Just got back from a long weekend at the beach with family and friends.
I know.  I'm lucky.  Really, really lucky.  Truly blessed.  
The weather was great, the water was perfect and the company was the best.

At the beach, Summer means outdoor showers, in the wonderful shower that Mr. Grand built.
We relish our showers under the eaves and the pine trees, 
delighting in the breezy fresh air and sunshine.
Here is how it works.

First, you go to the beach.  

Have a great day at the beach.  Swim, sun, snack, splash.
Get sweaty and sandy.

 At day's end, pack up and start the climb up Buzz Kill Hill.
Think about the deliciously cool shower that waits for you up at the top...

 Proceed across the lawn

Around the cottage 

Down the path

And back to the Shower!

 Open the door

and step inside....

 There's a mirror so you can check for sunburn....

And plenty of room so things stay dry.

 There is a seat in the corner and narrow shelves to hold sundries...

 And awesome hooks to hang all your things.

Lots of awesome hooks....

The shower head isn't very fancy but the water pressure is amazing 
and you can take it down and spray the sand off your feet, too!
We opted for this kind of shower head 
because the whole thing is easy to detach and bring in for the Michigan winters.

When you look up, you see blue sky and pine trees.  
The fragrance is heavenly.

 And in the late afternoon, you can see what we like to call "Jesus Streaks"
 the shafts of light coming down from on high.

It's come a long way from what was there when we first bought the cottage...

Construction of the shower floor and walls.
We had a french drain installed under the floor boards
to keep things dry and draining properly.


The walls are up and the girls get busy painting...

The tops of the shower walls are capped with 1' x 4" boards made of Azek, 
a composite material that will not rot or warp or ever need paint.
Hopefully a fresh coat of glossy white paint every couple of years 
will ward off the elements and keep the shower fresh and inviting.

The finished project, complete with all new concrete and landscaping...

Just a little bit of heaven.....

Thanks for joining me on this tour.

Linking to:
Sundays Best Par.tay at My 1929 Charmer
Metamorphosis Monday at between Naps on the Porch
Tuesdays Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm
Cowgirl Up at Farmhouse Porch
Tutorials and Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z
Masterpiece Monday at Boogieboard Cottage
Time to Shine Party at A Diamond in the Stuff
White Wednesday at Faded Charm
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Sizzle Into Summer at DIY by Design
All Star Blog Party at In The Old Road
What's It Wednesday at Ivy and Elephants
Open House Party at No Minimalist Here
Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life
Time Travel Thursday at Brambleberry Cottage
Blog Hop at Adorned From Above
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Inspiration Friday at The Picket Fence
Home Sweet Home Party at The Charm of Home
Vintage Inspiration Friday at Common Ground

Best DIY Project Contest of 2012 at Not Just a Housewife

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

An Italian Kaleidoscope

We have just returned from a family adventure in Italy and it was truly wonderful.
Lots of sightseeing, great food and fantastic scenery.  
We took many, many photographs of Cathedrals and monuments and buildings and ruins.
We toured the major attractions and learned so much about the history of civilization itself.

But nothing made me happier than the festive pops of color
that stood out from all the stone.

I hope you enjoy this tour of the colors of Italy- an absolutely breathtaking place!

Let's set the scene with a photo of Positano.....
Just because it is so beautiful.
More on this town later.

In Rome, 
we stayed at the Albergo Del Senato, recommended by several friends, 
right next to the Pantheon.  
A great location and a wonderful hotel 
with a rooftop terrace for relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere.

We were greeted on the rooftop by Mariano
  who introduced me to the wonders of Prosecco, my new favorite beverage.

 A great place to unwind after a long day of exploring...

 The view from the terrace down onto the Piazza della Rotonda.

At the Spanish Steps, the tourists add much of the color...

 The "kids" are in this picture... kind of like Where's Waldo?

Not much color at the Colosseum

But on the local streets, in delis, ristorantes and gelaterias, you see things like this

In English, no less!  
I once sat on a plane next to a French neurosurgeon who spoke beautiful English.  
He told me that the internet has inspired the world 
to learn and welcome the English language.
It seemed very true in Italy.
Way to go, bloggers!

 We tasted a different Gelato every single day.  
The displays were completely irresistible.

On our first night in Rome, we re-visited the Ristorante Alla Rampa,
an outdoor cafe tucked under the Spanish Steps that was most memorable 
for Mr. Grand and I on our last trip to Italy 20 years ago.
Luckily, it did not disappoint!

We first tasted bruschetta here and we were hooked for life.
We ordered it at again for everyone 
and it was just as amazing.

We decided then to embark on the Great Bruschetta Quest, 
to seek out bruschetta at every meal 
and to determine if indeed, the bruschetta at Ristorante Alla Rampa 
was actually the best in Italy.
Results to follow.

There was some color in the Vatican...

 And at Pompeii, 
even after being buried in ashes for almost 2,000 years...

On to Positano, on the Amalfi Coast
where the scenery and the colors are absolutely heavenly.

Our hotel was perched at the very top of this photo,
 The Villa Franca.  
We highly recommend it!

This is a photo from inside the hotel bar looking out to the sea.
Positively Dreamy.

So gorgeous, I had to show you twice...

Three nights in Positano, not enough.  
Must go back.

The bruschetta was excellent, but check out the view....

 That's our hotel- the white building perched at the top of the hill on the right.  
While Mr.Grand and our son (who wishes to remain nick-name-less)
 took an arduous hike to the top of this cliff, 
darling daughter and I swam and sunned at the rooftop pool.  
The  views were majestic.
It's called the Walk of the Gods for a reason.

 Down by the beach, there were changing rooms for the guests...

 And flowers everywhere.

702 steps up from the beach to our hotel....  I took the shuttle.

This is the view from the balcony of our room.
We splurged for this room, but we were able to find some really great values 
on hotels in other places, so it sort of evened out....
But nothing else compared.

 Except maybe Capri...

 We took the ferry to Capri for a day trip and it was wonderful.  
We rode a chairlift to the top of the island 
and enjoyed soaring views and spectacular sights.

In town, there were lovely shops and charming people.

I bought a beach coverup here, for a song.
I hope wearing it will take me back....

On to Tuscany, 
where we were delighted by the sights and scenery 
at every turn.  
We tasted wild boar and cheese and wines from the region.

We had a memorable meal in San Gimignano at Dulcisinfundo, 
a ristorante we stumbled upon and enjoyed very, very much.

We had a terrific bottle of local Chianti,
as well as some delicious food, from their many local sources.

The owner served us and was most charming.

When we returned to our room after dinner, 
we looked the restaurant up on our trip "bible" -Trip Advisor-
and found out we had luckily dined at one of the top restaurants in San Gimignano.
We found Trip Advisor to be invaluable in planning our trip 
and in exploring things we may not have known about without it.
We highly recommend consulting Trip Advisor when planning a trip anywhere!

On to Florence, 
where we were dazzled by great style everywhere.

This is a view from the rooftop terrace of our hotel in Florence, the Hermitage.

The jasmine was in bloom all over Italy and the fragrance was enchanting.  
 The hallways of our hotel were redolent as we climbed up to the terrace. 

Gelati everywhere....
How could anyone resist?

Gorgeous, colorful children's clothes

And for those who prefer their children understated and elegant...
 (Who are those people?)

 Leather goods were plentiful, and prices very reasonable.  
I found a few new handbags that I will be sporting about town.

In Florence, dinner at Il Latini was a highlight, especially for the "kids".
No menu, 
enormous amounts of interesting and delicious food, 
friendly atmosphere, and lots of dulci.  
What more could you ask for?
Well, maybe some bruschetta, but that was not to be.

The winner in the great Bruschetta Quest was still Ristorante Alla Rampa.  
And in second place, the bruschetta recipe from my friend Patti.
I will have to make that soon!

The sights and sounds and scents were amazing on this unforgettable trip.

Colorful shutters everywhere.

 Flowers in Tuscany...

 I could not resist including this poster of ground pigments 
at the little inn we stayed in on the west coast of Italy on our last night.  
Mr. Grand has long worked in the paint industry 
where colorants make many things possible...

On the road, Italian rest areas are actually kind of fun.  
They have shops and cafes and great displays of local treats.
 These pinwheels were spotted at a rest area on the drive to the airport...

These sunflowers waved to us as we passed by...

(until we meet again)

Thanks for coming along on this little tour.

Linking to
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Open House Thursday at No Minimalist Here
Home and Garden Thursday at a Delightsome Life
Nifty Thrifty Party at Coastal Charm
Fabulous Friday at Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust
Weekend Bloggy Reading Party at Serenity Now
Inspiration Friday at The Picket Fence
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense
Time Travel Thursday at Brambleberry Cottage
Oh, The Places I've Been at The Tablescaper
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