Saturday, August 01, 2015


Thrifty
Our first real day back in Lucca and
 I decided we needed a new dining room table and chairs so
 we went furniture shopping, but then we didn't see anything great and
 we felt broke so we decided to paint the table and chairs and we threw on some cushions from Ikea.
 It's not done yet, but when we sat on the cushions tonight at dinner . . .
my butt and F's pockets were already both grateful.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

bye amsterdam!
Today we had a little drama getting boarding passes for T's friends Natasha and Giorgia, but after seven agents at the call center tried and failed, a guy named Johnathan from Delta really hooked us up. Good job there, Jonathan H3 (they won't tell us your last name for security reasons) from Delta!
Now that's cheesy
Today we did our best to answer the question: Can you ever eat enough cheese? In the name of research, we signed up for a cheese tasting class at Reypenaer and it was worth every penny.
Our fearless cheese leader is up there wearing the apron. He was great.
I have to say that I consider myself a foodie, but I was completely shocked by how different the aftertaste of the cheese is when it is paired with the right wine. I have never experienced anything like it.  An aged goat cheese turned into butterscotch on the tongue when it was sipped with red wine afterwards. It was food alchemy at its finest. Our teacher joked that he would not accept grades lower than five out of ten on the cheese ratings card. He said we were meant to use our senses to describe each selection, but then we stole most of his words to fill in the categories because after awhile your brain becomes a little melted over a cracker.

We let T and her friends have a little wine. They live in Italy for goodness' sake.
The girls really took it all in. Natasha was in charge of the cheese guillotine and she still emerged with all of her fingers intact.
 The women in front of me added greatly to my enjoyment as they seemed to have stepped right out of the movie Bridesmaids with less mess, but with all of the giggling and inappropriateness that was needed to make the hour really fun.
Oh the fun snarkiness of it all!
A young fair haired American woman in the very front was really annoying because she claimed she didn't like cheese; but the joke was on her because the lesson while fairly priced, is not cheap, and the ratings card became a 15% discount for the cheese shop afterwards!


Hee-hee. That guy in the white tee looks like he is hanging on to the cheese board for dear life.








 We saw some pretty crazy and beautiful things walking around Amsterdam.




And then there was this stylish family. I made F pretend to get a call on his cell so he could snap them surrepticiously.

Vogue-ishly Delicious!



Yay! We went to the most fabulous trim and ribbons store in the Jordaan called Passementerie, I believe. I wanted some trim for that new vintage 5 euro coat I scored. I also want to add trim to some boring long sleeved shirts back home to turn them into Free People style tops for my vertically challenged arms.

Beauties!

Me & my girl
 I don't think the girls will miss my whiplashing my head around and yelling at them to step lively and making sure that they didn't get his by speeding cyclists or crazy beer bikes.
Everyone stay safe out there! Don't forget to look both ways and try not to inhale very deeply! (Being a mom is exhausting.)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sorry, Matisse.
Today I found a website with minute by minute Amsterdam weather reports. T fought with me about the validity of such a thing, and yet I did not get wet and dodged not one, but two storms.


During a storm lull, we went to check out the Matisse and friends at the Stedlijk Museum.


This was my favorite even though it wasn't by Matisse. Sorry, Matisse.


Breakfast in bed, anyone?
A study in wardrobe selection perhaps.
Yes, that's what the girls "saw."
T & co. were struck by this pop art while I was
rather tickled by this unknown woman's straddling of the bench.
I am a stinker, I know. But in all of my years, I've never seen anyone male or female straddle a museum bench.
I made a comment to T (in Italian) about it.
Then I walked away, stinker that I am.
The girls waited on line for a long time to enter one at a time into this art installation of a little house with people in it whose faces were made of clocks. It is actually a famous piece by Ed Kienholz. Most people stayed in there for three minutes. Giorgia booked out of there after 30 seconds like she had seen a ghost.
There was some performance art that rather startled onlookers as it was without preamble, introductions, or announcement of any kind. I am sure that this is something that I am just too stinker-ish to appreciate, but it made me feel the same way I feel when a really drunk girl squats and pees on the street. I'm not sure that is what the artists were going for, but if they were, they really hit the nail on the head.


This piece is called Normal Position.
No, really it is.
We're not sitting because we're excited that there is a bench and we're exhausted from walking ten miles a day. It's just that we wanted to study the picture featured below at length. 

Okay, okay. We just wanted to sit down. So sue us.
I pick the worst times to turn into a fourth grade boy. Sorry, Matisse.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Vintage Mamma K
Today we were going to take a walk to the Vondelpark so that we could go hear a concert, but as we were setting out, it started raining again. There is rain off and on in the forecast for our last days in Amsterdam. It is just chilly enough that we are all just a wee bit too constantly cold. Given the precipitation situation, we ditched the concert and I made the girls go back to the big shopping street to pick out hoodies and tights so that I know they will be cozy. Right after the girls snuck off to go on one of their secret errands (don't panic, I believe that it at most involved some extracurricular sweet and savory items), F noticed a chalk written sign on the street. It announced that there was a closing sale for neighborhood vintage store called My Little Shop. I came out looking like this:


The coat, pockets not included, was only five euros! The sunglasses were only ten and are from a cool style brand called NHTK - Nobody Has To Know whose concept is No SIze, No Gender. Just Try It. You can find them and all of their stylish goodies on a street with a ton of vowels in it. Here's my third attempt at writing them all in the correct order for you: It is Ceintuurbaan 320 1072GM.

P.S. This outfit doesn't even get a double glance in De Pijp.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Blustering, bluthering Idiots
Is bluthering the right term to use? If it conjures up wind sounds for you, then I chose correctly. Wait. I think that's blustering. Well, here's what happened:


I didn't register when I looked at the weather report, which I did look at, that 31 mph winds is quite a high number. Especially when that is an understatement and they turn out to be 110 kph. What I did think was: Ah, a rainy day. I bet the girls would love to take in a traditional steam bath at the Amsterdam Hammam. This morning was quite like Christmas as the girls came into the main house to find four chairs with their bathrobes, flip flops, scrubbing gloves (not included), plastic bags, and cosmetics all laid out for them and ready to go. We were not waylaid by estrogen times four so we were certainly not going to change plans for a bit of wind. To give you an idea of the amount of wind, on the way to the tram not only had two of the five umbrellas flipped numerous times over, but T's and F's metal handles actually got a U-bends in them just from the sheer force of the arctic blasts, which were accompanied by massive chunks of hail.

ACK!
BLERF!
One nice lady native to the region gave us some directions at the tram stop. Joggers who were taken unawares were cackling like madpeople at the massive fallen trees all around them.  I assume they were all high. We had to go through a park by foot after the tram, dodging the falling trees as we went. I pulled about eleven muscles pretending like sprinting is something I can do without any hint of a warm up and my jaw was so tense that my head is now sitting at a jaunty angle that is not maybe what the good lord intended. When we finally arrived at the Hammam we looked like rabid, stray cats that had been caught in a hurricane. We were greeted at the door by a lady in her bra and underwear who absolutely refused to bend the rules for a blue faced F who went in search of caffeine and a roof while we were ushered inside.
Why the long face, T? Not your idea of a spa day?



It may not look like much from the outside, but man were we glad to see this iittle blue door.
 Here are some photos I stole from the internet:

It was kept nice and clean.

I used up 1,50 euros trying to figure out how to get the lockers to work. The code the little bank machine-like automated screen kept demanding from me in Dutch was one that it turned out I had to invent myself, and not just the number of the locker. I used up all but one coin that our host gave me so all of the girls had to shove their soaking plastic bags on top of one another. After I realized I had shoved T's insulin in there, I had to get the one person who spoke English to come back and show me once or thrice how to get it opened again in the event of an emergency.

First the girls were scandalized when I ripped off my top like all of the other topless ladies in the place, but then they seemed annoyed at me once I was half naked, that they were the only ones with their tops on. You can't really win with teenagers. You really can't. In the end, we went native. It was not a relaxing experience by any means. We were commanded to take a shower and we must have looked so uncomfortable in single file line while a woman with oily soap slapped my breasts and padded me down that all of the other guests, who were already shiny and scrubbed, started to giggle. I don't know if they were amused by my shock at the sound of the breast slapping or by the looks on the girls faces because they knew they were next and were all clinging together like people who got off a the wrong stop on the bus to the beach.


The scrubbing was also not relaxing and we made a pact not to look at each other as one by one our bikini bottoms were abruptly jerked down so that our behinds could be scrubbed. The dear girl who does the scrubbing is a sort of scowling, motherly soul who makes you feel like it is all for your own good whether you enjoy the experience or not. I will say that I am mortified at the amound of dead skin that I shed. I was like eight boa constrictors during moulting season. Thank goodness the scrubber girl was unflappable. I can only imagine the horrors she's seen.

Given that we were "in a foreign country in a foreign country," I was cool about standing around in what was left of my bikini bottoms with the Origins charcoal mud mask on my face. I had bought individual packs for the girls because after the steam it is always a treat to have your pores cleaned out. The combination of their mud and mine stung us all and I was quite relieved when the girls emerged from their showers pleasantly pink and refreshed instead of spotted and welty.

I had no change for the weird dryers in the locker room and I didn't get a chance to sample the scaldingly hot moroccan mint tea that we ordered at the end. After everything, we had no choice but to shimmy into the still damp cold clothing from before and head back into the less windy, cold drizzle. Luckily, a taxi driver took pity on us and got us home to popcorn and hot cocoa.



P.S. Before the storm, I found a Pinteresty furniture and home accessories heaven and it's name is Buitengewoon. It is like Anthropologie and ABC Carpet & Home mated and made affordable global furniture babies. I drooled a little. Especially, after the owner told me that they could ship affordably to Italy in a container to Napoli within one week with a money back guarantee.



 

F is in love with the organic supermarket. I mean he really really loves it there:

It is enormous, clean, and inviting. They have everything.
 And it you're rich, you can have some pretty candles, dishes, and tubs in your Amsterdam lofty pad.

Calgon, take me awayyyyy.


Let's live together.