Days 3-7: Tuscany

The wanna-be Italian cruising through the country side. 

Where an American girl finds her passion among cobblestone hills. 

November 25, 2013// Day 2// 10:15pm

THE GAME PLAN:

Orvieto

Montepulciano

Montichiello

Montalcino

Siena

Where I decide that I can no longer live in the USA.

The last few days have been life changing. Every little detail has been a new visual adventure. Every experience is teaching me more about what it really means to live. Tuscany will forever live in my work and the life that I wish to create for myself.

Tuscan cities just have it right. A beauty without being pretentious. Clean, friendly and humble. They drive small efficient cars, recycle everything and stop eating when they are full. They walk around and meet in cafes with friends. They live a full-bodied life of long talks over local wine and rich landscapes. They just seem to have an innate sense of what life is about and don’t need more than what satisfies their basic needs. This is a life I aspire to live.

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Rome: Day 2

The wet crusader in a city of clown cars and marble wonders.

Saturday November 23, 2013// 10:31pm

Well, we quite literally did “Rome in a day”. This city is chalk full of history. It’s crazy to be surrounded by buildings that are over 500 hundred years old. We did the “Caesar Shuffle”- starting with visiting the Vatican City, which is it’s own COUNTRY inside of Italy. Inside, we saw the Vatican museums and the Sistine chapel. The beauty was almost overwhelming. I couldn’t even fully take in the magnitude of the artwork work around me. Every square inch from the ground we walked on to the expansive ceilings were gilded, carved and painted to a maddening perfection. This city could keep even the most fidgety traveler satisfied and eyes entertained. We also visited the Spanish steps (I would have skipped this one due to our tight schedule) and the Trevi fountain (a beautiful must see).

There is heated debate between whether Lonely Planet or Rick Steves is a better literary tour guide. Clint and I are team Rick- his style of writing is like reading recommendations from a friend and peppered with racy humor (which you know I love). He led us to a small italian restaurant for some fried cheese and spaghetti. Afterward, we picked up some wine at a local market and went home to rest our aching feet.

It rained the ENTIRE day- which I honestly thought was quite charming at first, romantically damp and sidewalks full of lovers holding each other tight under colored umbrellas. And it was all fun and games until the temperature dropped to 30 and the water was so deep on the sidewalks that it completely flooded my shoes and I was left to slosh in freezing water for a few miles with my drenched hair and coat. This was about the time that Clint probably had a small panic attack about the trip- wondering why he brought a sun loving girl to Europe in the winter.

Tomorrow we leave for Tuscany.

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Rome: Day 1

Backpacking through Europe:

I will be chronicling my trip through the writings I scribbled down in my journal. I hope to be completely honest in my experiences- good and bad. I do not claim to be a history buff nor a well seasoned traveler- so I understand if one may have very differing views of areas I will be writing about, but this is my personal experience as I saw, smelt, touched and ate my way through 4 countries.

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The novice with a notebook and a backpack.

Where she has 8 clean pair of underwear and an open mind.

November 21, 2013//8pm American Time

Sitting in the airport about to leave. We will be flying to London for a 40 minute layover. I wish that we were staying long enough to see it. It’s my first time flying on British Airways, and I feel like a “real” traveler already. Everyone around me has different accents that tell of their journeys that they have weathered- the ones that I am about to experience for myself. Going on my first back packing trip is like crossing over into a new world- one where travelers speak their own language of passion and intrigue- and me and my 45 gallon pack are suddenly allowed to sit at the table and listen.

I am entering this trip hoping to truly move something inside of me. I am honestly quite frightened. Not for my safety or health- but of the unknown. I am scared I am going to be severed from the possession and places that define me- and when those things are gone I will find something within myself that scares me. Like that I was naive to believe that I could really travel 3 weeks on 2 measly outfits and some travel toothpaste. That my idea of traveling was but a fool’s paradise that will melt into a big ugly puddle of disillusion in front of me. (I can be quite melodramatic when left alone with a pen, can’t I?)

Last night I journaled a small prayer:

“Lord, please keep my heart and my mind wide open. Show me a part of myself and a part of you that I must fight for. Help me find a deeper connection to the world, to develop relationships that enrich, to be blessed by strangers, and see the world with childlike curiosity.

I want to let go of my need for control that as kept me from loving others over being comfortable. I want to embrace my individualism outside of vanity. I want to soak in my surroundings to my very core- learning more than what is simply given to me. Please help me eat up every little bite of beauty and let it pour out of my work and my life in a way that changes the world around me and brings glory to your name. I want to learn who I am without the comforts of home or the material possessions that I believe to define me or others. Give me the strength to be authentic and full of beauty the world lends to me for the next 3 weeks. Amen.”

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November 22, 2013// 1:30am Rome Time

I need to sleep, but I wanted to write a few things down about the day.

We flew around 15 hours and finally arrived in Rome around 8pm. It’s a 9 hour difference between here and the states. We took a train to the home we will be staying in for the next 2 nights. We found most of the places we will be staying through Air B&B, and tonight we are sharing a small apartment with a woman named Angiola, a writer in her late 50s. She came and picked us up at the station- which we were extremely grateful for because we were worried about being able to find her place in the dark. Once we arrived at her apartment, small but full of old charm- white washed with creaky wood floors and high crowned walls, she poured us a glass of wine and patiently helped us figure out how to get to the colosseum. We met her brother who currently lives with her. He introduced himself as Michelangelo, followed by the only english he knew: “like the painter!” in a giddy Italian lilt. We wasted no time getting back out to explore, even though it was dark, cold and raining (a temperament that would follow us around for most of our time in Rome).

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Google has ruined the magic of the great wonders of the world. Before the all mighty internet, one would have to actually TRAVEL the world to see something like the colosseum. And I stood in front of it sadly realizing that the pictures on Pintrest that I looked up a few days before were alot better looking than the real thing. (Note from future self: Rome wasn’t my favorite. And before you get worried that I’m going to rant on google being better than one of the most important historical sites in the world, I won’t. Until we get to Paris.)

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We got some pizza at a small cafe. We learned very quickly that there is no such thing as free water here. If you want water, it will be bottled and almost as expensive as your entire meal. So you might as well have a beer.

Walk through this world of tiny cars, ornate buildings and gelato- wondering how we could really actually be here. Right now. Starting our journey.

When we get back to the apartment, we realize we can’t figure out how to use the Italian keys. We end up waking up Angiola with our loud attempts of entering past midnight. She graciously assured us that she was “up writing”, but I saw her robe and disheveled hair and tip toed around the house to keep from any further disturbances.

Clint excitedly told me there was a urinal in the bathroom, along with the toilet. (This “urinal” turned out to be a beday. But I’m pretty sure he still peed it for the remainder of our visit.)

More to talk about later, but it’s 1:30am and I haven’t slept for 2 days.

Buonanotte!

 

painting for paris.

First of all, I would like to thank all my readers for the overwhelming response to WCW.  My most genuine gratitude to all of your kind words and encouragement on the new series/photography. You are pure gold.

Second, happy Labor Day to all of you. I hope you are grilling up some delicious meat with some of the people you love the most. I cheers you from Houston.

Thirdly, Clint and I have been painfully itching for a trip. For the last year, we have been saving, planning, brainstorming and dreaming of our next adventure. And we have finally decided on backpacking across Europe and ending in Morocco. We are still in intense research mode, but we are hoping to take a modest 2-3 week trip across the Northern Hemisphere this Winter (crosses both fingers) with nothing but a pair of cameras and the clothes on our backs.

Clint is doing most of the planning for all the incredible places we are stopping, but has given me Paris as my own project to plan. I am in love with Paris from afar. The culture. The fashion. The romanticism. The history. From Hemingway to Chanel, I am fascinated with this city that curated so much of what I find to be so magical and lovely. And while I tried to pretend that the Eiffel tower was overrated and touristy, I long to see it. And have a coffee where Fitzgerald changed literature. To witness the city that is deep and sad and buzzing and hip all at once. And while I know I am going to be in unwashed clothes and train slept hair when I see it, I am beside myself with anticipation.

Lately, I have taken up painting. I stumbled upon a work of art that I adored at an antique shop. I loved it so much, I would stop in every once in a while to look at it, each time hoping that it hadn’t been sold. With a handsome price tag of 4 grand, I knew it would never be mine. So I decided to try my own hand and make my own. So I went out and bought myself a 28″x36″ canvas and some new brushes. Much of the paints and supplies I still had from my college art classes. I took the evening and I painted my own piece of work with the same color scheme I found so beautiful in the antique shop painting. I sent a picture of the finished product to my friend who strongly encouraged me to post it on social media to get input. Once I did, the response was truly surprising. I was getting offers to buy it, along with generous praise. I was FLOORED. I was so scared to even post it in public and they wanted to BUY IT? I hung it up in my office, but soon after, I was wanting to paint more of them. Half out of curiosity (that was surely a one hit wonder.. right?) and half out of the creative freedom I felt while painting the first one. I felt like time flew by and was alone to express my emotions with a paint brush.

So I painted some more. One for over the fireplace. One for the bathroom. One for our bedroom. Another for the office. I was loving this. And running out of room. And money. (Thank goodness for hobby lobby’s 40% coupons.) But I still wasn’t selling them. I wanted to have a good enough cause.

And once this backpacking trip became a reality, I decided it was time. Time to paint for Paris. So in the next few weeks, I will be spending my free time painting different sizes of canvases to sell to help support our trip. I’m not sure yet on how I will be selling- on etsy, or simply by word of mouth through social media. If any of you readers sell handmade goods, please comment with your recommendations! I will be ever so grateful! I would love to get one (or 4!) of these labor of loves into the homes of the people I cherish.

I will be open for business once I can get about 5-10 paintings ready.

But here are a few snap shots of my project from this week, and my first attempt at using gold leaf in my work.

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Thank you for reading! And all of your continual support.

XOXO, k.