Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking back at 2013

It's the morning of New Years Eve here in Bella Napoli and I find myself reflecting back over the past year.  It's that time of year when people decide to change their lives and come up with how, yet never plan to stick to them.  I was just looking over my goals for 2013 and realized I really didn't stick to mine either.  Here is my recap...

1. Become a better cook.  Well, when you have 3 little mouths to feed and they aren't too interested in trying new things, I stayed in my confort zone. 

2. Craft more, work my CTMH business...  I did that!  I got my Cricut machine buzzing and made so many projects, started making cards to sell, and got myself involved with some opportunities in the community here in Napoli.  I didn't see my sales reach the levels I wanted, I had fun being creative and it will all come together.  The best part is I'm HAVING fun crafting again!  I have a sweet craft room and hopefully I can get more people to join me down in my basement.

3. Run-Run-Run!  Well, we did one half marathon and one marathon, the "Original" in Athens.  It was amazing to say I ran a Marathon FROM Marathon to Athens.  Will I do one again... Not sure.  ;) I did log some miles not sure how many, I did find that I was happier when I was running.  

4. Raise funds and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund.  I feel we did that, we raided over $1500 from our runs and have raised over 50% of our total goal.  Thanks to everyone who helped so far!!!  If you would like to help us reach our goal, head over to  Or better yet join our team!  The more people we have sharing the Semper Fi Fund the better!  

So there you have it...  NOW for 2014...

1. Run-Run-Run!  Not sure how many half marathons or if I will ever do a marathon again.  One thing I know running makes me happy and as long as I can run, I will be logging some miles.  We found out that it's 6474 miles from Bella Napoli to Beautiful Carlsbad, so we are going to try to "Run Home". I would like to log 1200 miles this next year.  Better lace up those shoes and pound some serious pavement.  It will be a whole family event, let's see how far we can go.

2. Craft more, work my business, and have fun!  It's funny how it's my 'job' to craft and I'm so far behind on so many projects.  I'm going to focus the first part of the year on getting caught up on our travels, Christmas album, and the younger 2 baby albums.  After that I'm going to work on my hubby's college years and his Marine life up until now.  Look for more blog updates about crafting and traveling, too.  

3. Travel more!  We did a great job last year of going to new places and yet the list keeps growing.  I would like to visit more in and around Napoli, we seem to forget that we have cool places right here.  AND it's cheaper when we don't have to pay for 5 plane tickets or hotel rooms.

4. Focus on learning... Italian for the hubby and I, keeping track of standards for the girls (Italian school are SO different than California), and increasing our little guys vocabulary and get him off his Speech IEP.  I find that my understanding of Italian has improved and I'm starting to try to say more, then I get nervous and end up speaking in English.  Really need to just put myself out there and laugh if I get it wrong.  

5. Have Fun and Be Awesome!  These are the kids goals!  I love how they keep it real.  When talking about what they want to do in 2014, their answers were simple.  Study hard, learn lots, travel, have fun, and (my favorite from my little guy) PLAY ALL THE TIME!!!  Yes, he did yell it and right in my face.  Love him!  I always say "Be Awesome" to the kids.  Not in a bragging way, just be you and everyone will see how amazing you are.  My parents had sayings growing up, "Keep your powder dry" and "remember who your mother is" I think those would go over the kids heads right now.  So "Be Awesome", it is!

There you have it, 2014 is going to be the best year for Team Martin.  Watch out world, we are coming and we are going to "Be Awesome"!  

Happy New Year!  Felice Anno Nuovo!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oktoberfest 2013 and a few Small Countries

Sometime in late spring/early summer I got an email from a friend who said why don't you join us for Oktoberfest.  It took me all of 2 seconds to respond with YES!!!  COUNT US IN!!!  We went to Oktoberfest in 2006 and were excited to be going back.  In planning the trip we decided we would drive, it was the best way for us to hit a few other spots on the way up and back.  So the first stop was the Republic of San Marino, a small country totally surrounded by Italy.  A very nice little place, we spent the afternoon walking around, exploring the castle and had dinner overlooking the Italian country side.  The views were amazing.
License Plate in San Marino
 Then a night outside of Bologna and off to Germany via Austria!  Once in Bavaria, we stayed in a great little town, Murnau am Staffelsee.  It was just want this Momma needed, a great Germany town full of happy Germans and good beer around every corner.  We started our tour with a visit to a great brewery and then the next day into Munich for some Oktoberfest fun and it was fun.  We started out in the Oilde Weisn, which is the more traditional/family friendly part.  There was music, dancing, food, and of course BEER!  After a few hours in the tent it was time to venture out.  We rode some of the fun rides, had some yummy fest food, and hit a few tents.  This picture is taken inside the Lowenbrau tent, hands down one of my favorite.  

 The music was fun, the people were great, and our little guy fell asleep!  He was quite the novelty, as many people took pictures with him.  Such a little smoozer even when he is asleep.  From there we headed back to Murnau via the train, it was a great day and everyone was ready for bed after a long day of whooping it up.  The next day it was back into Munich for a bike tour with the kids.  What a great way to see the city, via a bike… only in Germany!  We had a fun tour guide and the kids enjoyed riding and seeing the sights.  A lunch break with a playground was a big hit and we all enjoyed a pretzel (adults had beer too!).  Another night of good sleep, being in the fresh air will do that to you.  On our last full day in Germany (sadly), we did walking tour of Munich with a visit to the Hafbrauhaus before going back to the Weisn.  After some more rides and yummy fair food, it was time to head back to the train station and head back to the hotel.  The next day was German Unification day, so the fest was packed, people were getting silly, and I had had enough of dealing with people.

One of the things we did the first European Tour was visit Liechtenstein, unfortunately we forgot our passports.  This time I was ready, we were getting a stamp and it didn't matter how much it cost.  The drive through the Alps was beautiful and the kids missed most of it due to iPad time and naps.  Ugh!  Once we got to the small country to Liechtenstein we found some license plates to take some pictures.
 This is now becoming a thing with us, so why not keep up the tradition!  If anything it is a great way to show the kids the different country codes.  We spend time walking around and even sent ourselves a postcard with local stamps.  Then it was over to the Liechtenstein Postage Stamp museum for some fun.  The kids were able to draw their own stamps and I took a few pictures of the stamps with my stamps, sorry Sticky Boys!

It was getting late, so back into the car we all went.  We took the Swiss route back into Italy, thru the Lake District (amazing) and finally stopped in Parma for the night.  Too bad we had to get home to Bella Napoli the next day, it would have been nice to get some cheese.  :)  All in all it was a great trip and one all of us will remember for a while.  More Italian fun coming up, involving some chocolate and some wine.  All good things here in Italy!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Paris in the Fall!

 Oh la la!  Paris in the Fall, the leaves were changing, the weather was cool, and the rain didn't stop the whole time we were there.  No worries, we have (well most of us) been to Paris before and know all that goes with the 'City of Lights'.  We arrived and after finding our hotel we went to the Jardin du  Luxembourg.  This set of gardens also has the Palais du Luxembourg built for Maria de Medici, queen of France from 1600 to 1610.  Now houses the Senat, the upper house of the French parliament.  The kids weren't interested in that once we found an awesome park to play in.  Didn't matter that it was misting/raining on us, the playground was protected by huge trees and only a few drops would come down every now and then.  It was just what our kids wanted to do after being in the car for 3 hours, a plane for 2, a train for 1 and then the Metro for 30 minutes.  Yes, it took us over 6 hours from our house to the hotel!

The next day we took the Metro out to the main train station and out to Disneyland Paris where they are celebrating 20 years since they opened.  It was fun to be back at Disney, a little different since the announcements were in English and French, not English and Spanish.  The kids really enjoyed themselves and we never got rained on, it was just grey sky like the picture above.  We ALL went on Big Thunder Mountain, the first time for the younger two.  That is a memory I will have for ever, I got to sit by them and listen to them hoot and holler with excitement and then a little bit of fear set in.  Really hope I didn't do too much damage to them.  There was a classic Disney parade and the kids loved singing, dancing, and waving to all their favorite characters.

Saturday found us back in Paris and ready to see all of the city via the Hop On/Hop Off tour bus.  We walked from our hotel over to the Notre Dame, in a downpour, and went to the center of Paris!  The picture on the right is of Sticky Boys by the marker stating it's the center of the city.  There was no real line and everyone was jumping in front of each other to take their picture.  I totally channeled my inner Italian and just went in.  Quickly (and in front of some nice college girls), I took this picture and then 3 more of my 'other' children.  I don't think the girls knew what happened, as I was finished with my shots in a matter of 60 seconds.

Then it was off to see more of the city, via the bus.  We hopped off at the Champs Elysees and walked to the Arc de Triomphe.  As we were walking back down the Champs, we saw a car on fire.  It was amazing and the people around us thought it was something out of a movie, looking for the cameras.  Silly tourists!!!  We popped into Haagn Dazs for ice cream, it's now become a tradition to eat ice cream in each city we visit.  Then it was back on the bus headed to the most iconic tourist trap in all of Paris, the Eiffel Tower.    We walked up to the second floor, yes walked, looked around and headed back down the stairs.  It was a great day and despite the rain we all had a great time in Paris.  Adieu pour l'instant!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Summer Holiday-Part 3

 The next stop of the Baltic Sea Cruise found us in Klaipeda, Lithuania.  The third largest city and the northernmost port on the Baltic whose waters do not freeze during the winter.  A small city with not much to see, we did check out the old Castle, the neo-gothic Post Office and the former town hall.  The historic part of town has an open market where local merchants were selling their goods.  In the center of the square were folk singers and dancers who were putting on a fun show, the kids sure did like it.  The Baltic Sea is known for it's amber, the picture on the right is of one table with different jewelry.  One of the vendors was making woven bags, the kids got to sit down and use the loom and bought some cute purses.  This is also the stop where our camera broke.  :(

 The next port was Gdynia, Poland, the port just up the way from Gdansk.  We took a nice walk into the city center and out to the water to see some of their tall ships.  We had a fun time sampling some of the local food and drinks, pierogi and beer.  One of the common themes of the trip was have a local beer in each port.  Well, the hubby would have one, I would have a sip and the kids would scrunch up their noses and say " Beer, again!"  We could have taken a trip on one of the pirate ships along the dock, was ran out of time and I don't think I could have handled more time on a boat.  Gdynia was a fun little city, as we got to the end of the cruise we all were starting to feel that 10 days was a little too long and everyone was ready for a break.  So we returned to the ship early, kids went to the Kid's Club and the parents went for a nap by the pool.  It was a nice was to spend a sunny afternoon in Poland.

The final port of the cruise was Ronne on the island of Bornholm in the country of Denmark.  A quaint little town with the nickname of 'The Sunshine Island of the Baltic Sea'.  The ship dropped anchor just short of the harbor and we took small tender boats to reach land.  It was quite interesting since the seas were a little rough, the girls decided not to go ashore, so it was me and all my Boys.  The island which located close to the Swedish and Polish coastlines is becoming a high-quality resort from it's fishing village past.  Legend tells that the Viking God Thor created Bornholm for the 'left-overs' of other territories and the Baltic coast.  During World War II the island was thought to have German U-boats, the Russians repeatedly bombed the island.   As a result, some 80 percent of the island's buildings were destroyed or severely damaged.  During the late 1940s all were restored or rebuilt.  This is a picture of the Church of St. Nicolai, the patron saint of sailors and fisherman.  The city square, once a fish market and venue for military parades, is not a popular meeting point and said to be the widest square in the Danish province.  Such a cool little town to end the cruise, wish we had longer to just relax here.

As we boarded the ship on last time, we were a little sad that our amazing Summer Holiday was coming to an end.  The kids from the ship performed a play put together by the staff, it was so fun to see them singing and dancing.  The final dinner had some entertainment as well.  Everyone was sad to leave, but ready to get home.  The next day it was off the ship, on 2 trains back to Berlin.  We arrived early enough to do some tourist things in the city, so off to the Brandenburg Gate.  This was the boundary between East and West Germany, now a symbol of reunification.  We enjoy going to the Pariser Platz, where the US embassy is and always great when the kids point out the US flag.  The rest of the evening was spent playing in the Tiergarten.  One of the things we love most about Germany are all the parks and playgrounds they have around.  There is something that we find so comforting about being in Germany, maybe because we lived there or maybe it's the efficiency of the country.  This was a nice way to wrap up our holiday before heading south to Italy and the hot weather.

There you have it... Our summer holiday.  Sorry it has taken me so long to post, life keeps moving and I find myself more and more tired these days.  The days are getting shorter and the night longer, soon we will be bundled up in the house, sitting around the fire dreaming of summer.  Who knows what adventure we will be on next summer.  Stay tuned, we have more trips and adventures coming our way.  For now, it's down to the basement to get my crafty on, Halloween will be here before I know it and then Christmas.  Ugh, someone make the time slow down!  Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Summer Holiday-Part 2

One of the major reasons that we chose to do a Baltic Sea cruise for our Summer holiday was to stop in St Petersburg, Russia.  I have always wanted to go to Russia and was so looking forward to this stop.  We arrived early in the morning and were one of the first people off the ship.  We met our tour guide and were off to a driving tour of the city.  I was expecting such a different looking city, I was raised in the 80s and had these pictures of Russia as a cold, dark, depressing place.  St Petersburg was very Western European.  We learned that the founder Tsar Peter the Great (yes I named my boy after a good one) was a great leader, founded the city in the 18th century and was the capital of Imperial Russia.   We drove past Peter and Paul Fortress, where the city was founded on the inland in the Neva River delta.  We stopped at The Church on the Spilled Blood, where Emperor Alexander II was killed.  This church with it's mosaic covered walls was amazing.  Interesting to learn that during World War II the theater companies were hired to make 'sets' to disguise specific buildings from air raids.

The picture above is of Sticky Boys at Peterhof, the summer palace of the Russian Tsar modeled after Versailles in Paris.  Quite spectacular, the grounds has many fountains all run by a gravity-fed water system.  It was quite impressive to see and play in some of these fountains.  This being the favorite home of Peter the Great, you could see the gardens and fountains all around you and feel warmth even in the cold Russian winters.  We also stopped at Tsarskoye Selo or Tsar's Village, at Cather's Palace to see the beautiful Amber Room.  Then it was quickly by to the ship, through customs and set sail for our next port.  Looking back, we wished we had more time in St Petersburg.  Guess we'll have to try to get back in the next few years.

 Next stop on the cruise was Tallinn, Estonia.  The capital city is made up of a medieval section and the more modern, hillside district.  We were only here for a few hours and we definitely wanted more time.  We walked around the medieval section, with all its churches and old buildings we felt like we were in another time.  St Mary's Cathedral, the Niguliste Church, the Town Hall, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, were all highlights.  Being there in the morning, while most of the city slept and shops were not open yet gave us a feeling of being alone despite all the tours from our ship taking place around us.  It was amazing to see the city come to life as the day went on.  Such a bummer that we had to get on the ship and sail to the next port just when things were happening.  Even though we saw most of what the city has to offer, we might be planning a trip back to see and experience more of the life in Tallinn.

Our next stop was Riga, Latvia.  The capital city is located at the mouth of the river Daugava, on the Gulf of Riga is a major seaport and cultural and industrial center.  Having a history of being ruled by other countries, Latvia found independence after World War I.  During WWII Latvia was annexed by the USSR and was occupied by the Germans before going back under Soviet rule, later regaining their independence in 1991.  Several old neighborhoods have preserved numerous medieval buildings dating back to the 13th century.  The Castle of Riga, dating back to 1330, was built as the seat of the Livonian Order and is not the residence of the President of Latvia.  We took a small elevator up to the top of St Peter's Church to get an amazing 360* view of the city.  (As you can see our ship is in the distance.)  We took a Hop On-Hop Off bus tour that took us around the city to see more of the sights.  One such sight was the Liberty Monument that symbolized the liberation of the Latvian people from foreign powers.  At top is Liberty holding three start over her head, symbolizing the unity of the regions of Latvia.

Check back next week, to see the final stops on our Summer Holiday.  Until then... Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sticky Boys Summer Holiday-Part 1

After spending most of the summer in the HOT Southern Italian sun, we decided it was time for holiday and headed north for an adventure of a lifetime, a Baltic Sea cruise.  From the moment we arrived at the airport in Bella Napoli it sure was an adventure!  As we checked in for our flight to Berlin, we found out that said flight was delayed and would have to wait in the airport with all the other Italians who were getting away for the Ferragosto holiday.  (This is the time of year where most Italians go on holiday, businesses close, things stop working, and pretty much the country comes to a halt.  This is not the time to lose your Internet connection as it would take 3 weeks for them to fix the problem.  Yes, this happened to us!)  As we were sitting waiting, I started going over the check list... Pillow-check, allergy meds-check, toys for kids-check, Sticky Boys- NOOOOOOO!!!!!  Quickly I had to make a decision, go ahead with the trip or run home.  After a moment, I decided to go get my traveling buddies.  So, I ran, yes ran in 90 degree weather to the car, drove like crazy on the Tang (really hope I don't get a ticket), got the boys and was back on the road doing the reverse.  As I ran up the stairs to meet the rest of the family, my lovely husband said, 'you didn't need to run, we have like 20 minutes'.  Sweat pouring down my everywhere, I grabbed the backpack, tucked the Sticky Boys away and walked calmly to the security check point.

A quick overnight in Berlin and we were on the train heading to the port city of Kiel, Germany.  One thing I sure do miss about living in Germany, everything seems so clean and runs smoothly.  The train was packed and we ended up sitting in an open area by several windows, so everyone had a view of the German countryside.  Once in Kiel, we walked down to the ship and started the check-in process.  Traveling with so many kids got us to the front of the line and on board in record time.  It was nice to be able to get settled check out our 'home' for the next 10 days and get to relax.  The first night, I realized that I don't like being on ships, it was going to be a LONG 10 days.
Our first full day was at sea, which saw us swimming, running around on a little track (30 times to make 3 miles), and the kids going to Squack (the Kids Club).  It was a nice day to just relax and enjoy the time on the ship.

The first stop on our cruise was Stockholm, Sweden.  Having been to this beautiful city before we were excited about visiting with an old friend than really checking out the sights.  Our first order of business was to hit H&M to buy cold weather gear.  Silly me didn't realize it was going to be so much cooler up north, so it was jeans and jackets for everyone.  Soon we were all set and ready to see parts of Stockholm that we didn't see the last time.  We spent the day at Skansen Museum and Zoo, where we saw different parts of Sweden from different time periods and some really cool animals.  The day went by too quickly and didn't get a chance to stop at the above picture of the ABBA Museum.  It would have been fun to see, guess another trip to Sweden will be added to the ever growing travel list.

The second port was Helsinki, Finland.  This city has always been interesting to me with it ties to both Europe and Russia.  We only had a half day here, so it was a hop-on/hop-off bus tour for us.  Along the way we learned about Finland's rich history the included being occupies by Sweden and then Russia.  Gaining independence in 1917 there was still turmoil for the Finns.  A bloody Civil War and the beginning of World War II and Russians invading took its tool.  After the war, Finland pursued a policy of neutrality, which was interesting to learn that both US and Russian spies were living in Finland during the Cold War.  We toured past where the 1952 Olympics were held and saw the statue of "The Flying Finn".  It was a great city to visit, wish we had longer.

More next week as we travel to several other cities on our Baltic Sea cruise... It's too much to take in at once.  :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

August is All New (and FREE)!

I'm super excited about the new Idea Book from Close To My Heart, it's full of amazing new products and samples of projects.  A couple of my favorites are the new Cricut Artbooking Collection ($99, Z1906) that has over 700 images; including Fonts, Mini-books, and Layouts, 3 D-size stamp sets and 3 pages of coordinating Dimensional Elements.  Next week I'll post some of the projects that I'm working on.  

My next favorite are the new Design D├ęcor frames ($26.95).  They come in black (Z1880) or colonial white (Z1865) and are great for decorating your home with all your projects.  You can either use them as is with the wires to clip your artwork or take the wire out and use as a beautiful frame.  

Here is a sample of the black frame with some 3x3 cards I made using the August Stamp of the Month A Chocolate Affair, S1308.  With an order of $50 or more, this stamp set is FREE!!!  With 16 different images and sayings you will fall in love with this set.  So many more ideas are coming to mind using this set, I will post more pictures in a few days.  Make sure you like my business page on Facebook, Semper Crafty-CTMH Scrapbooking and Stamping for more pictures.  

Hope you all are beating the heat, it's been in the high 90s here in Southern Italy.  Looking forward to cooler temps in the coming weeks as we inch closer to Fall.  Lots of upcoming travel, Sticky Boys have a full schedule the next few months.  Super excited to share our travels with you all!  Until then, happy crafting!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sticky Boys in Southern France

Shortly after returning from Close To My Heart's Convention, Sticky Boy and his new traveling buddy, Viva! Sticky Boy, set off for a trip to Southern France.  Just over jet lag, we boarded another plane and found themselves transported to the amazing Cote d'Azur, an amazing weekend was unfolding.

After our first stop along the coast, we asked the kids what they thought about the drive so far.  The 8-year old's response "It's pretty, but it's similar to the Amalfi Coast."  Excuse me, little world traveler!  Some people live their whole lives wanting to see these places and here you are (almost) taking it for granted.  Yikes!  We were back in the car and on our way to Monaco.  This tiny country was just AMAZING!  We had fun from the moment we drove across the border and loved seeing all the fancy cars.
We parked next to the beauty, I have a thing for license plates and thought it would only be right to take this picture.  We walked around seeing all the tourists and checking out some of the local sights.  We walked along the Grand Prix race track, stopped by the famous hair-pin turn, my little guy loved talking about Cars 2.  We check out the Casino, who is celebrating their 150th anniversary this year.  The kids were excited since this is where the animals of Madagascar 3 go, it's all about the movies with these little ones.  Had a really expensive lunch, hello we were in Monaco!  Then it was off to where we were going to stay for the rest of the trip, Avignon.

With the town of Avignon as our central point we were able to head east to see Pont du Gard.  This Roman aqueduct is 275m long and 49m high, built over 2000 years ago.  Funny, who would have thought a family living in Italy would travel so far to see Roman ruins, when we can see them down the street.  This was a very impressive aqueduct and the museum was quite good.  The children's section was fun and we could have spent all day playing in the water.  We walked across the aqueduct to have lunch and dip our feet in the river.  Such a pretty day, wish we had more time to just hang out and even do a kayak trip down the river.  Maybe next time!

Then it was off to the west in search of some lavender fields.  We thought it would be easy, we were in Provence, all the pictures show lavender growing along the road.  Silly us, we actually had to do some more research to just drive past the fields.  Where we stopped was simply amazing.  The 12th century Senanque Abbey was so beautiful both for the lavender fields and for the abbey itself.  Not quite fully in bloom, the lavender plants were very fragrant, watching the butterflies hop from plant to plant was really relaxing.  The smell was calming (sorry, had to say it) and the tour book we bought still smells.

We didn't realize until we got to Avignon that that weekend started their annual theater festival.  So this active, college town, was even more alive.  It was fun to walk among some actors and see them do little scenes from their plays in the streets.  The other main attraction is the Palais des Papes (Popes Palace), that was built in the 14th century.  Between all the halls, chapels, corridors and staircases we discovered that this was the capital of Christendom between 1305 and 1403.  Not to go into too much history, 7 popes and 2 antipopes held office here.

Then it was time to be bid adieu to France and head back to Italy.  We took the long was back and drove along the Cote d'Azur more, from Saint Tropez into Cannes.  The beaches were beautiful (and free), everyone seemed to be having a good time and we really thought about booking another holiday to just spend time on the water.  It's hard to believe that we live 5 minutes from the beach, because of pollution, trash, and price we don't go.  So not what a family from Southern California is used to.  All part of learning and helping us value what we have.

This was a quick and busy trip to the South of France, one that was filled with wonderful sights, sounds, smells, and food.  We hope to go back... the bucket list keeps growing.  Until next time... it might be a while, a big adventure is coming up and we have to prepare ourselves.  Maybe some local travel is in order.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CTMH Convention 2013

The Sticky Boys (yes, I have 2 now, thanks to someone REALLY nice who gave me one) and I are back from Florida and bursting with idea and projects for Close To My Heart's Convention.  It was a fun filled 3 days of showcasing the new products, time with friends, and bonus Jeanette answered MY questions, so I got an extra little something.  Suffering from jet lag, a cold, and losing my voice was so worth it to get some time away to regroup and refocus on my Close To My Heart business.  I'm so excited about the new items, no not going to tell you anything right now, you'll have to check back later.   (Hint: there might be a new Cricut cartridge)

Since I have never been to Disney World or Florida for that matter, I didn't know what to expect.  It is very different from Disneyland and California.  I thought I was going to pass out from the humidity, even coming from southern Italy.  I did manage to run a few days, get along with little to no sleep most nights, and did finish one project from the creative times.  For me it was all about reconnecting with friends, making a few new ones, and getting my "crafty" back.  I think I have found it and can't wait for the new products to arrive here in Italy for me to share with you all.

Like I said, I didn't really find another Sticky Boy.  A friend of a friend (who had found 2) gave me this little guy.  Now I have two traveling buddies and can't wait to show them (and you) more of Europe, starting this weekend.  Check back early next week for more on our travels and I might even throw in a sample of what is to come in the new Idea Book.  Until next time, happy crafting!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sticky Boy and Italian Food!

First stop on the food tour of Naples, Da Michele's pizza.  Yes, this is THE place from the book/movie "Eat, Pray, Love"!  Yes, it totally lived up to the hype and is quite possibly the best pizza around.  Then again, most of the pizza here in Naples is the best pizza.  There is something about the fresh ingredients, the wood-fire oven, and the love going into each pie.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!  We arrived thinking it was the early afternoon, surly the line wouldn't be too long and we could grab a table no problem.  Ha ha ha, it was a 2 hour wait and with 3 kids, 4 adults who were hungry, we decided to wait in line to get pizza to-go.  Not quite the same, will go back to get a table and enjoy eating at a table.  It was still fun to be there and see all the people who had come from all over just to get this famous pizza.

Second stop, a coffee roaster, Cafe Barbera.  The oldest family run roaster in Italy, started in Sicily, Domenico was known as the magician, because of the aroma of the roasting was something the locals hadn't smelt before.  In the late 1940s, the family came to Naples and started to mass product their beans.  Each generation has taken coffee roasting to the next level.  With the 5th generation opening up cafes worldwide and winning many awards.  Here is Jr. (who is not only easy on the eyes, makes a GREAT cafe) checking ME out!  After explaining who I am and Close To My Heart, he wanted to take a picture withe me.  It was a fun tour and the smell was truly magical, not to mention a bit of a high.  :)

Last stop, was Mr. Pete's garden.  This is the lot that I live next to here in Licola and is farmed by the nicest man Pete.   As the kids call him, Mr. Pete and Mrs. Maria are our neighbors living down the street and are alway bringing us over treats.  We provide them with American baked foods, they give us fruit and veggies.  It's a win-win for us all!  Its so nice to see all their hard work paying off and the dinners we have made with their veggies have been some of the best food I've ever made.  

It's not a bad live I live here in Italy.  Next week, I'll be going to find a friend to share my travel experiences with at the Close To My Heart Convention.  It's the event of the year and I wouldn't miss it!  See you all soon!!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sticky Boy's Memorial Day Weekend

OK, so it was a few weeks ago now and the "unofficial" start of summer.  All I can say is that we have been busy with the end of school, the upcoming CTMH convention, and potty training The Dude.  Here are a few pictures from our trip to the Calabrian region of Italy, along the Ionian Sea.  It was a bit windy, not too hot yet.  It was a great weekend to just relax, have a drink by the pool, and let the kids play.

We (being a military family) never forget the true meaning of Memorial Day... we have too many friends to remember, who are always in our hearts and their families are in our daily prayers.  It takes being in a foreign country to really appreciate how lucky we are as Americans.  Until next time, Sticky Boy has been enjoying some yummy Italian food and experiencing some awesome local events.  If I can get my act together, I'll get that posted before he and I go across the pond to hopefully find a friend at the Convention.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Blog Hop

Ciao and welcome to my blog!  If you came from Dana's blog, you are in the right place.  If you are starting with me, I'll put the link to the starting blog and you can follow other Paper Cupcakes on our hop.  This month we had the "Happy Father's Day" key on the Close To My Heart Artiste cartridge (Z1790, $99).  This key has all sorts of interesting cuts and I used two of them in the picture below.  I like to say I married my father, when you see my husband and Dad together you will see why.  They both wear Hawaiian shirts, all the time!

So here are the two cards I made for them.  Simple, easy, no one got hurt in producing these cards.  My kids loved the idea of using the Surf's Up Paper Pack (X7168B, $9.95) since one of the B&T pages looks like shirts.  I also used one of the cardstock sheets to cut out the #1 Dad sentiment.  Thanks for checking out my cards, come back in a few days to see the where Sticky Boy went this week.  I've give you a hint... It is something you eat and drink, famous here in Italy.  :)

To start at the beginning of this blog hop go to Bren's blog!    

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sticky Boy in Scotland

A Castle, Palace, and a Half Marathon!

The latest adventure of Sticky Boy took him to Edinburgh, Scotland.  Here we enjoyed hearing English (the Queen's English), seeing the castle, walking around a palace, and running a Rock n Roll half marathon.  It was a wonderful trip, full of adventure, fun, hard work, and typical Scottish weather.

First up getting settled into our apartment, with a great view of the rooftops of Edinburgh.  On the few clear days we had, you could see down to the  Firth of Forth and out to the North Sea.  I loved seeing the rows of flats along the streets, so typical of city living.  One of our first stops was the Edinburgh Castle.  The castle is a complex of buildings that has been altered many times due to war and the demands of the military, it is now the headquarters of the British army's Scottish Division.  The castle was the seat of Scottish kings and queens, and the royal apartments include where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the boy who became James IV of Scotland and James I of England.

Next we walked down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official Scottish residence of the British royal family and closes when the Queen is in residence.  Lucky for us, she was in London that weekend and we could have a look around.   Founded by David I, King of Scots in 1128, who was out hunting one morning and saw a vision of a cross (according to legend) and decided a church should be built there, the original abbey is still on the grounds.  This Palace has been home to many of Scotland's royal family, the most famous, Mary Queen of Scots.  It is here that you can walk through her chambers and see where her private secretary David Rizzio was murdered.  The palace has beautiful gardens and after walking through the ruins of the abbey, you can see where the Queen host her outdoor events.  Just to the south of the Palace is Holyrood Park, where Arthur's Seat the highest point in Edinburgh is located, and was the start of our first half marathon in Europe.

The whole reason for our trip to Edinburgh, Scotland was to start our European Running Tour.  Yes, we have decided that this year will be the "Year of Running", with 2 half marathons (Rock n Roll ones, so we can be World Rockers!) and the Original in Greece.  We are doing all this running to raise fund and awareness for the Semper Fi Fund, which is a non-profit that helps our injured Marines and Sailors.  I became involved with The Fund several years ago, not being able to volunteer my time in the office back at Camp Pendleton, I have decided I'll put my legs to work and Support through Sport.  If you would like to help us in our fundraising efforts, please go to  The weather was less than stellar for running... cold, rainy, and windy!  I'm talking 30-40 mph winds!!!  We did it though, never once thinking about quitting.  WHY, you ask... Well when I thought about the challenge ahead of me, I thought this is nothing compared to what some of our Marines and Sailors are facing.  Then I thought about their wives, girlfriends, parents and other family members, who were giving their all in support for their injured loved ones.  Running 13.1 miles in the crazy Scottish weather, was a walk in the park.  I would do it all over again, wait we are in a few months.

So there you have it, Sticky Boy has another stamp in his passport and we are already planning our next adventure.  Maybe he will have a friend to travel with come June, that is if I can find one at the next CTMH convention.  Finger's crossed!!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Napoli Tour #1

First stop on our Napoli tour was Caserta Palace or Reggia de Caserta in Italian!  This palace was designed by Charles III of Bourbon who wanted to emulate the courts similar to Versailles and Potsdam.  Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli he created the palace and parkland.  Luigi died before completion, his son Cario made some alterations to his father's plan.  The Palace itself was grand and the colors in each room were beautiful.  The gold Throne Room with its beautiful frescoes left even the youngest on our Team a little in awe.  The tour consisted of going through the Royal Apartments, similar to other palace or castle tours, ended with the amazing Nativity Scene.  This display was beyond anything I have every seen and was worth going through the "boring" rooms (said by #2).  Poor kids, having to travel around Europe seeing things you learn in History books... someday they will thank us for dragging them.  The Park of The Royal Palace was a little bit of heaven in the middle of the city.  Also designed by Vanvitelli, he used the natural conditions to create a series of launs, thickets of evergreens, hedges and cypress, alley ways, fountains, cascades, bridges, basins and flights of steps to cover over 3 kilometers towards the hills behind Caserta.  To see so many people having picnics, riding bikes, walking around, and just enjoying the beauty was just what we needed after the long, wet winter we had.  We will be back for another visit to check out more of the park.

Second stop, Herculaneum.  Much like the more popular Pompeii, the town was destroyed when Vesuvius erupted in 79AD.  Unlike Pompeii that was covered with the ash, Herculaneum was buried under volcanic lava which solidified within a short space of time.  Discovered by chance in the 18th century since the solidification of the lava tuned everything into hard, rock like strata.  Herculaneum shows the intimate appearance of the buildings, how everyday life was preserved because of the closeness.  Within this small area you will find a full variety of places: villas, baths, shops, streets-very thing you would see in an ancient town.  Herculaneum, according to myth, was founded by Hercules.  The town does have Greek origins, coming into existence sometime in 6th century BC.  The Romans conquered the city by 89BC and soon became a high-class resort with many wealthy Roman residences.

Such different sites here in Southern Italy from the lavish to the buried.  Amazing that between these two places is where we get to live for the next few years.  Can't wait to discover more of the places that are only a few kilometers away, the food is amazing by the way.  Next stop... PIZZA!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Roman Holiday #1

This past weekend I took the train up to Roma, what an awesome city.  Here I am at Trevi Fountain, yes I threw a coin over my left shoulder to insure a return trip.  I went to the Vatican Museum to see the famous works of art, rode the Metro, had gelato, tossed coins, had a sword fight with some gladiators, and of course ate pizza.  Can't wait to go back to see more of the Roman sights and eat more.  Love living in Italy!  Until next time...

Monday, February 11, 2013

New Home for Sticky Boy

Guess I should have started off by showing you where I'm living for the next few years.  I'm currently with a US Marine Corps family who are stationed in Naples, Italy.  We live in a nice town of Licola, where I get to see the Mediterranean Sea out one side of the house
and the local mountains on the other side.
It's a tough life here in Italy, actually we have been having lots of rain and the houses are COLD.  The food is wonderful, the people are nice, the potholes are HUGE, and I'm learning some Italian as I go.  So there you have it, my views are great and I can't wait to see where my next trip takes me.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sticky Boy in Venice

My Italian/European adventure continues... this stop landed me in the water.  Well not really in the water, ON the water.  Venice is an amazing city that is sinking and floods often.  I really enjoyed taking a gondola ride around the Grand Canal and all the smaller canals.

Venice is known for it's beautiful masks for Carnevale and I was one for my friend Miss M.
  Where will my next adventure take me, I'm not sure.  Travel plans are being worked out, check back soon to find out.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Adventures of Sticky Boy!

Today, I went on a fun drive about 2 hours south of my new Italian home to the Amalfi Coast.  Talk about beauty... Every turn was a new view and it was beyond anything I've ever seen.  Here is a picture of me with the coastline in the background.  Amazing, right?  Check back in a few weeks for another picture of me in ... can you guess???

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Goals (not resolutions)

Since a large # of resolutions are broken within the first week of a New Year, I decided I would make goal and work all year on them.   With that here are my goals:

1. Become a better cook.
2. Craft more, work my CTMH business, and have fun being creative.
3. Run-Run-Run!  We are going to try to run 2 half-marathons and the "Original" marathon in Athens.
4. Raise funds and awareness for Semper Fi Fund.  If you would like to donate go to:

There you have it!  I think these are all goals I can work towards in 2013!  Stayed close to your computers for updates on these goals and if you can, cheer me along on my journey.  I can use all the help I can get.