CINQUE TERRE PHOTO WORKSHOP WITH ITALIAN FIX: PART 2

view from the little bar we had a life dreaming/creativity pow wow at in Manarola
With Italian Fix trips, we do a lot of exploring -- villages and small cities within the Cinque Terre as well as neighboring Tuscany. Amazing how the little differences in the towns reveal themselves after spending a few summers here . . . . Manarola is probably my favorite village in the Cinque Terre, I'd love to spend more time in this picturesque little spot. The swimming hole dazzled me on the hot afternoon we drank in views and cocktails at the bar on the cliffs.

CINQUE TERRE PHOTO WORKSHOP WITH ITALIAN FIX: PART 1

This summer I had the privilege of co-hosting a photography workshop with Bianca of Italian Fix -- We've done this together for 3 years now, and it is a joy to teach and make merry in Cinque Terre region of Italy with a band of 14 or so other women. Bianca leads insider boutique tours every summer in Italy and the experience of traveling with her is unlike any other.

SOUTHERN GERMANY ROAD TRIP

We set off from Dresden in our rented minerva (car company i've never heard of but it was great!) with a bunch of houseplants to drop off at Evan's friends' apartment to care for over the summer, the promise of castles and spa towns in our heart and the firm desire to see all of Southern Germany in the course of a few days. We got all of that and so much more.

I LEFT MY HEART IN DRESDEN

Dresden Molkerei, cheese shop

Dresden is a wonderful city in Eastern Germany -- we stayed here for a few days with my old pal Evan Hughes, who's in the opera company there (ahem, this is a very big deal). We really absorbed this "Florence of the East", relaxing and hanging out with an adopted local . . . It's quiet rythms, decadent, rebuilt history, extraordinary opera house, cafes & kuchen (cake!) galore, it was hard not to fall in love.

FALL DESSERT: PEAR ALMOND BRANDY CAKE

Fall is just around the corner, the whispers of it are here already -- I'm cooking for this special time of year, as if twirling on the oven and thin slices of ripening pears will bring it on a little faster. A girl can dream! Many Septembers ago, we moved into a little apartment in Portland, Oregon. That first month was like an old super 8 film playing before me. The lollypop trees of bright red and orange, blaringly blue sky and countryside was romantic in a way I'd never experienced. And the pears, oh the pears . . .