moonwise: (kittyluv)
I plan to write a full recap of my trip, but today was crazybusy at work, and I'm just too tired right now.

So instead the Institute for Adorableness brings you a special report in an area of vital importance: Snack Cuteness.

One might think that the Japanese might have a lock on this category, given their penchant for making anything short of capital murder chibified (and then, to be fair, we have guro.) And indeed, there are many cute Japanese snacks, with konpeito right at the top of that list. Until that fateful stop on the autostrada, I too thought that konpeito might be the cutest snack ever.

We were on our way to Maranello, and we pulled off for fuel and a potty stop. Given our complete failure in Italian Road Navigation to that point, I hopped in to the shop in search of a map of Florence and a bite to eat. And there it was...

Pan di Stelle. (Look! Look at the website! It's whimsical and cheerful and adorable!)

From the front of the bag, the cookies were certainly charming, but I didn't look much beyond that. Given that my Italian is at the "baby talk" stage, I didn't pay attention to the back of the bag until much later, and this is what it says:

Le stelle erano molto distante l’una dall’altra e nonostante ciascuna si sforzasse pre brillare il più possible, non riuscivano ad illuminare nulla. Allora il Pan di Cacao disse loro che solo unendosi tutte insieme avrebbero dato abbastanza luce. Le stele si convinsero che ciò era vero e si raccolsero su di esso creando un buonissimo manto di cielo… e fu cosi che nacque le magia dei Pan di Stelle.

Between Babel Fish and my dictionary:

The stars were very distant from one another, and although they strained to shine as brightly as possible, they were not able to illuminate anything. Chocolate Bread said to them that only by joining all together could they give enough light. The stars convinced themselves that this was true, and they collected themselves into the best sky mantle... and thus was born the magic of Star Bread.

If this is not the cutest story about a cookie that you have ever read, there is something wrong with you.

We looked in vain for a second, unopened bag of Pan di Stelle to bring home. Knowing that there is very little you can not find on internets, I frantically searched for a site that would sell the cookies internationally, and found Buon Italia, which is located in Chelsea Market!

Guess where we are going this weekend. :D

Sorry Japan, you've lost your crown - long live Pan di Stelle!
moonwise: (yay ferrari)
We got back from Italy today, with only about 10,000 things going wrong, the worst of which was the nasty cold I came down with on about our second day of vacation, which led to hitting rock bottom in Florence, so instead of spending the day touring one of the loveliest cities in the world, I slept.

On the other hand, I now know the Italian words for "painkiller" (calmante) and "decongestant." (decongestivo.) Just in case you need to go into a farmacia and ask for them.

But, husband's family was very very nice, such lovely people I can't even describe to you. They showered us with gifts and impossible amounts of wonderful food, and it is hard to express to little old Italian grannies in your broken Italian that you have already had two pieces of torta, thank you, when they are telling you mangia bene, mangia bene. As a parting gift, husband's cousin Mario gave all of us absolutely ginormous pieces of parmigiano reggiano. Seriously, it must weigh a kilo.

More once I've slept.
moonwise: (johnny jump ups)
As stated previously, yesterday I got back from a trip to St. Andrews, Scotland. It's rather ironic that I'd go, because it's Mecca for golfers, and I've never picked up a club in my life. The countryside was lovely, with rolling hills and hayfields everywhere, and badly kept small roads that aren't kidding around when the signs tell you to slow down. We did see one horrible accident where someone didn't.

The Good

  • Small, pretty, rambly seaside towns
  • High availability of alcohol (like, everywhere. You could get it on the train.)
  • Rugby
  • Pubs
  • Dependable, clean trains

    Much nicer than NJ Transit, though I think everything is. Because I am a complete dork, I had to get something off the trolley, and I gushed to husband later that "it was just like Harry Potter!"

  • Tartans, and accompanying men in kilts playing bagpipes
  • The royal castle in Edinburgh
  • Ginger Beer from Schweppes! Also Scrumpy Jack, which our hosts thought was very funny, and I was afraid that drinking it was on a level with drinking PBR or Milwaulkee's Best.

    The Bad

  • Breakfast at The Scores Hotel

    I have NO idea how they made toast, sausage, and eggs so execrable, but it was nasty.

  • THE EXCHANGE RATE, HOLY SHIT.

    Because everything that costs a dollar here costs a pound there, and it's easy to look at a price and say "huh, that's not bad," until you consider that you have to double every price you see. This is why I brought back very little.

  • Driving on the left

    I didn't do any driving, but this freaked me out all the same.

    The WTF

  • Separate hot and cold taps

    This boggled me. Having hot and cold water come out of the same tap is hardly a new concept, and yet almost every single sink in Scotland had separate taps, even new sinks. So, either you burn your hands/face or freeze, and I've never been a big fan of filling the basin and washing my face in water that gets progressively soapier.

    On to the photos! )
  • moonwise: (hooray!)
    ...IT'S CRAP!

    I'm going to St. Andrews, Scotland over Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1 - 5)! Husband's work is having a conference with the R&A, so I'm going to go along with him for some sightseeing. If any of you UK folks are going to be in the area, let me know, because I'm going to be on my own for Monday and Tuesday.

    It's silly, but the thing I'm looking forward to the most is being able to get a Schweppes ginger beer WHENEVER I WANT. That stuff is a little bit of heaven.
    moonwise: (Default)
    Cruise was very fun. We were supposed to visit St. Thomas, St. Maarten, San Juan, and Haiti, but thanks to Tropical Storm Chris, we were diverted after St. Maarten and went to Nassau, Bahamas instead. I was very disappointed to miss the last two ports, but whatcha gonna do. Five days at sea is way, way too many, though I do have a very nice tan now.

    We got our most basic cert for scuba diving, w00t. Pity we didn't get into the Bahamas a tich earlier, b/c the staff had offered to complete our Open Water cert if the opportunity arose. Scuba is much fun and we are definitely going to do it again - we're already considering another cruise that hits better scuba areas like Cozumel and Belize. Sadly, we had our open water dive in St. Maarten, and the dive site there wasn't as good as the snorkeling site we went to in St. Thomas, where we saw a lot more fish and green sea turtles.

    Shopping in St. Maarten rox0rs if you are a jewelry h0r like me. Got a pair of very nice tanzanite earrings for a rockbottom price, plus a full set of fire opals. My SIL and I bought liquor for prices that would make you cry - $11 for a liter of Tanqueray, $7 for a bottle of Malibu rum. We also bought some of the local poison, Guavaberry liqueur, since you can't get it in the States and it did make a nice colada.

    Best drink of the trip: Frozen Banana Bailey's Colada (aka BBC.) Just sit me in the sun and bring me these all day long, and I will be happy.

    Boat was huuuuuuuumungous, lots of places to go and see, but the flip side is that there were a LOT of people, and a startling number of the morbidly obese. The ship's pools resembled photos I've seen of public pools in Tokyo at about 1 PM on a hot day. We tended to take the water either early in the morning or at about 5 PM, when people seemed to wander off to get washed up for dinner.

    We had the late seating at 8:30, which I would not do again. We were usually so deep in a food coma by the time we left (and our waiter Ismet kept bringing us extra food) that we rarely did much besides go to bed. The people at our table were very nice; there was a pair of honeymooners from Barcelona, Spain, and another pair from Delaware.

    Our stateroom was very spacious. The Q's treated us to a balcony, which was nice for drinking champagne at sunset and for drying bathing suits and wet clothing at the end of the day. One cute touch was the appearance of towel animals on the bed when the attendant came to turn down the bed for the night - we got a stingray, a dog, a bunny, a monkey, and a manta ray. I learned to fold some of them on our last day.

    Getting off the boat was relatively painless, though we had a short tussle with some of the customs staff (to sum it up, people are stupid, and stupid people like quoting rules at you just to see you try to deal with an impossible situation, like that you obviously cannot lift all the bags at your feet when your husband has just crossed the Line of No Return to find your SIL, and then you are told you can't leave your bags there, and you can't lift them all, and you can't leave your bags unattended to find a porter, but your husband Is Not Allowed to walk back ten feet to help you. Thankfully, one of the staff had a brain and escorted my husband back over No Man's Land to help me with the goddamned bags, and now we have learned a lesson.) We were home by 11 AM, and husband had two F1 races to watch, and soon we will go out for Japanese.

    Looking forward to all the Otakon reports.

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    January 2014

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