Back in the saddle again

Though we’re still sporting our Tuscan tans (a shade unlike any other that you get just from walking around) more than a week after leaving those delightful, delicious hills, John and I are pretty much back in the saddle again.

We’re glad to be home – we missed the dogs (like crazy), the grandkids (who continue to grow, dammit, whether we’re here or not), the rest of the fam and friends – but getting back on schedule has been a little tough.

And after living on highly affordable brie, gruyere and wines for two weeks, we’ve had a bit of American sticker shock in that department. Many things in Europe are pricier than at home, but they beat us all to heck on cheese and wine. And absinthe and sambuca – a bottle of each made the trip back in John’s suitcase.

Also, even if the U.S. had castles dating back to 857 A.D., we couldn’t possibly afford to stay in one as we did on a hill outside Greve in Chianti. Crazy.

This isn’t the travelogue that will inevitably come – sorry, but I’ll have to share at least some of it – just some reflections/observations/coincidences I’ve had on my mind.

Back in February or March, we picked up a nice bottle of Tuscan wine – it was on sale and lovely, so we bought it and for some reason saved it. After we got home, I decided to open it, since we were in chianti withdrawal. It’s Dogajolo Toscano from Carpineto Vineyards. 

In Greve in Chianti.

We didn’t even know we were going to Italy, much less Greve, until Marie-Noelle told us she’d booked us a stay at a cool ancient vineyard. She’d booked a junior suite in the Canonica, but we were upgraded to the Giotti suite, a wing of the castle. (More on that in another post.)

Just the kitchen in our wing of Castello Vicchiomaggio was bigger than some hotel rooms. We hardly left the grounds.

We’d bemoaned not being able to bring any of the local wine back with us. Imagine our surprise at finding a bottle in our wine rack!

Before we left I’d almost finished reading Julia Child’s My Life in France, so driving through the south of France to places she’d mentioned was divine for me. So is her book, though for a non-meat-eater, parts of it are extremely gruesome. (Pressed duck in particular. Double yuck.)

Julia was heavily into meat, as is traditional French food, so Marie-Noelle and I were thrilled to find Cassolettes Provencale,  tres Julia Child but vegetarian, at our fancy outdoor restaurant at Aix-en-Provence. I haven’t been able to locate a recipe yet but think I can recreate it from memory.

Or a close enough facsimile. Julia says cooking should be fun, so I think she’d approve.

Lolly/Laura and Marie-Noelle at elegant La Fontaine in Aix-en-Provence.

While catching up on magazine reading on our trip, I saw a review of Bob Spitz’s Dearie, a massive  biography of Julia Child, which I ordered online and dove straight into last night after finishing Julia’s version. 

It’s hard to put down. Since I like to read on the treadmill, I’ll be putting in some miles.

Which brings me to my last point/observation. I returned from our two-week trip weighing exactly what I weighed when we left (my trusty Wii Fit tells me so). But two weeks with no organized exercise makes the same weight look different at almost 57.

Time will tell on us – there’s no escape. But temporary changes are easy to reverse if you jump right back in the saddle. Friday and Monday were my little weights workouts and today I tried a new DVD from Amy Dixon, Give Me 10 Core Cuts

(Think of Dixon as a miniature Christina Hendricks – Joanie on Madmen – if you don’t know who she is.)

I highly recommend the DVD – I did three of the six 10-minute workouts and they’re all fun, safe and effective. Dixon provides a modifier, but with bum shoulders that have to be saved for toting grandbabies, I had to modify the modifier at times.

But that’s OK. It’s all part of the process.

Life is good, dearie.

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