Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Milking it...

I have successfully managed to stretch my birthday out to a full week here in the blogosphere. Pretty sure it's had at least a mention every day since last Saturday. And guess what? My birthday still isn't quite here. It falls on the weekend but I'll be busy having chocolate cake in an as yet undisclosed location so I need to finish my birthday Q and A today. Here's the final four. Well, final seven but final four sounded more exciting.

Maribeth asked, "Where in the world have you had your best meal?
And what was it?"

Oh my word. I've had so many fabulous meals I'm not sure I can pick a favorite. For certain one great meal we had was at a beautiful English estate called Cliveden...

It was once the home of Nancy Astor and we celebrated an anniversary there one year. I don't remember every course but I do remember one of the chef's treats between courses was a peach champagne soup. It had a dollop of vanilla ice cream in the center. Nobody wonders why I call it the ex-pat fifteen do they?

We once had an amazing lunch in a tiny off the beaten path sort of place in Stresa, Italy. It lasted four hours and was course after course of fresh from the market, that- day, ingredients accompanied by homemade pasta and molto vino served by the owners, an adorable husband and wife team. I'm pretty sure this was the best meal I've ever eaten. The restaurant did not look like anything much. In fact it looked like this-

Oh, but the view from our table looked like this-

And I still talk about a steak I had in Chamonix, France one December. You could cut it with a fork and I finally understood how people could eat tartare. It was that good. And practically that raw. Let's just say I could write a book on fabulous meals I've eaten.

Now for a couple of travel questions....

Cathy asks, "Since you've traveled a lot what is your most absolute favorite place you've traveled and why?"

Well, this is a bit like asking me about my favorite meal. So many factors go in to the answer...the timing, the people I was with, the weather while I was there. My favorite trips always include my family and Italy is my favorite place to travel. I wrote a whole post about the trip we took to Stresa, but I have taken several trips to Italy and have loved them all...the people and the scenery and the food and the wine and the language and the shopping and the air. The air is different in Italy y''s like a drug.

Other favorites...Italy's Amalfi coast, Rome, The Normandy region of France, Chamonix,France, Salzburg Austria, Seefeld Austria...and Paris. J'aime Paris et toutes les chose francais.

Jill wants to know, " With all the traveling you've done around the world is there any place you haven't been that you've always wanted to go?"

Oh, yes indeed. In fact there's a long long list of places I haven't been and want to go. If there is one thing I've learned while traveling it's this...the more you see the more you realize how much you haven't seen. I'd like to see the Western side of Canada, Alaska, there's still a million little towns and villages around Europe I'd like to see, parts of Africa, some of Asia...I'd like to spend a week or two lying on a beach in The Maldives and I'd love to go to Australia and catch up with some friends who live there. Seeing someplace with a 'local' always makes a trip more fun.

And from the facebook contingent Andrea asks, "Have you ever thought of writing a book? Do you think you might one day?

Yes to the 'have I ever thought about it'. Me and about a billion other people. I've always said I needed time and most especially I needed space in my head to even attempt it. I kind of have that now so do I think I might one day? I want to say yes. Yes. I'm saying yes. You should know that what I lack in self-discipline I make up for in optimism.

And also from Andrea-Having enjoyed living in Europe so much and visited quite a few places around the world, where could you imagine your ideal place to settle/live (not taking into account the necessity to be near your loved ones), which is undoubtedly number one priority, right?

I would love to live near my children. Nearer my children. Within an easy drive at least, of my children. But life being what it is I'm not sure that will happen. Because one lasting legacy of living abroad is having children who also understand that the world is huge and wide open with possibility and opportunity and people to meet and places to see. My children may very well live overseas again one day. We may very well live overseas again one day. And much as I would love to keep them round the corner (or at least on this continent) I know that may not happen.

Hubs and I have decided we're going to live where we want to live and make it someplace inviting so our kids will want to come and hang out there and bring our future grandchildren to hang out there too. We'd like a house on the water. Probably a lake and definitely south of the Mason Dixon line. Hopefully the Carolinas because I like the coastal states. And an airport that is not to hard to get in and out of so when the travel bug bites we can get up and go.

Deb knows me from way back when and she asked, "Who was your most memorable student and where do you think they are now and do you think they think of you?"

Well, of course all my former students think of me. And I'm positive that even though they were in my kindergarten class and are now in high school they still talk about me with great fondness at their dinner table every night. They all remember me as their absolute favoritest teacher ever. Yes I know favoritest isn't a word. Hey, I was a teacher remember?

Who is my most memorable? She did say memorable could go either way. Here's the thing....I loved all my students. Really. I cannot think of one that I did not love. Now, granted some of them could also make me a little bit crazy and some required a lot of work to find that love but I can always find something to love in even the most difficult child. Kindergarten is my favorite age so I suppose if you made me choose I'd say one of the easiest to love was a little boy named M. He once squirted an entire can of whipping cream into his mouth while my back was turned and his mom and I were talking. The ones with the twinkle in their eye and the mischievous smiles get me every time.

And now, the envelope please...the winner of my favorite question is...Kara. Everyone go say hi to Kara please because she's sweet and her writing is real and filled with humor. Its funny how blogging can connect people...Kara and I are, ahem, not of the same age, but we have bonded over our shared love of Needtobreathe and I think that's what inspired her question. Her question was really fun to think about and when I asked my hubs how he would answer he quickly threw out the names of three bands. I had to give this some serious thought and tweak my list a hundred times and lose sleep but anyway here's the question-

"Your dream concert line up would be? And where would it be? And if it is super awesome can I come too?"

I like so many music genres it was almost impossible to narrow this down. I have a cramp in my brain if such a thing is possible. I toyed with the idea of a lollapalooza because that allowed me to pick lots of bands but in the end that became stressful and I decided to just go with a line up I know I'd love-there are other line ups and other genres I'd also love but this would be a good one.

I think we'd kick things off with Needtobreathe. They are my newest favorite band and I would want them to play every single song off their Outsiders cd. It is that good. Kara and I would sing along at the top of our lungs and she might regret for a tiny minute coming to the concert with me but only for a minute. Then I think I'd have to have the Boss because he's the original Jersey boy and also because he's awesome. He'd be followed by The Eagles who would sing all my favorite songs and fyi that would be pretty much everything they have ever recorded. And we'd end the night with U2 who would rock the house. Or rather they'd rock Wembley Stadium because that's where we'd be.

I'm sure it would be one of those crystal clear perfect London nights, with not a drop of cold wet miserable in sight. Before the show I'd take Kara shopping on Oxford and Carnaby Streets and then we'd have tea in the beautiful atrium of the Landmark Hotel. The Landmark is conveniently located beside Marylebone station so after we finish with tea we'd hop on the train and go out to the stadium with the masses. Because it would definitely be a sold out show.

Can y'all tell I got a little carried away with this one? Kara-email me your address and I'll get your prize sent out asap. And thanks everyone for playing along on my birthday post! Have a great weekend. I'll be doing something. I don't know what that something is but I know its something.

For the record...I do know what we are NOT doing and that is spending a weekend in London, having dinner in Rome, or getting a visit from my girls. Actually I don't really care what we do as long as there is chocolate cake somewhere along the way. And hubs has known me since my big 2-0 so I'm pretty sure he's got that covered.


  1. Another great post. Those were all great questions. That English Estate is so beautiful.
    You have done so many wonderful things. I love the way you have stretched your birthday post out. Hope you have a fantastic birthday and enjoy your chocolate cake. Can't wait to hear all about it!

  2. You lost me at, "chef's treats between courses was a peach champagne soup. It had a dollop of vanilla ice cream in the center." Seriously. A treat 'between' courses?

    Wait, what?! It's your birthday? ;) Sounds like you guys will have a great time. You just can't go wrong with chocolate.

  3. Happy Birthday! Enjoy the chocolate cake...mmmm

  4. Have a great birthday! I'm looking forward to hearing what your Hubs came up with, mine might need some ideas. :)

  5. Hope your birthday is absolutely wonderful!

  6. My favorite meal (thus far) was jerk chicken consumed in a tin-roofed, dirt-floored eatery on the side of a busy highway in Jamaica.


    I still dream about going back.

    Happy Birthday!

  7. ...and if not, after reading your post he will know to get some chocolate CAKE! :)
    Great post. Happy Birthday a bit early. I hope you enjoy your getaway. And don´t forget to take pictures for us. :)

  8. Yummmmm chocolate cake, and Oooooh Italy, but then YAYYYYYY that concert sounds AWESOME!! In fact, this concert needs to happen. I haven't been to a U2 concert since I was in high school and it's high time I go again. Perfect lineup. And now I feel that you and I must go shopping together and have tea and do all that London stuff. Yes. This must happen. Sigh. Happy Happy Birthday!!!

  9. I am so excited for your trip!!! I wonder where it will be????

  10. You seem to have had an great week! Loved the answers to the questions we asked. And, just so you know, you are older them me ;) by 11 days!

    PS I've tagged you. Please visit my blog.

  11. "favorite" travel questions are always so hard to answer! how can you cross compare so many cultures and pick a favorite? :)

  12. Awesome pictures as always! I hope your birthday this weekend has been FANTASTIC!

    I left something for you over on my blog. When you have a spare minute or two, go on over and check it out here.

  13. I can't believe I forgot the most important message: Happy Birthday!! Can't wait to hear about your weekend. (You *are* going to tell us, aren't you?)

  14. A 4 hour meal? Oh. My. That must've been so incredibly awesome!