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With so much on the go, all of us end up feeling a little unbalanced from time to time. If you’re looking for some tips to help achieve balance in your life, I encourage you to check out Basically Balanced. It’s a blog dedicated to providing tips and tricks to help you achieve a more balance life – and who doesn’t want that? 🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

“The goal of this blog is to show you the steps you can take to establish the balanced life you have wanted! This includes your environment, which is why I will talk a lot about home décor and design as well as the types of people and relationships you surround yourself with. This includes health and fitness, which is why you will see a lot of easy to understand information about developing healthy relationships with food and exercise on my blog. This includes fashion and beauty, because when done in a balanced way these can enhance the way we feel about ourselves and allow us to be creative and express our unique taste. And of course this includes mental health which is why there is an entire section of my blog dedicate to this topic which is where I hope to share information, resources on how to get the help you need, and tools for practicing the strategies that we know work to help us establish balance and overall happiness!  We have to strip away all of the demands, stress, and expectations in our life and really get down to the basics to establish thriving balance. And remember… i’m in it with ya! I am not there yet,  but for now I am ok with being Basically Balanced.”

I feel more balanced already! 🙂

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On my recent flights, I got to watch several movies. See below for some reviews:

Logan

I LOVED this. I loved how fierce Laura was – yes, it was unusual to see a child being so violent but it was very cool to see a mini she-wolverine in action. I thought the story was interesting and the characters’ interactions were really entertaining. Love the chemistry between Logan and Laura, Logan and Charles, Charles and Laura. There was really funny dialogue, like laugh out loud funny. Watch it. Rating: A

Queen of Katwe

It’s a story of Phiona, a girl from Katwe, an impoverished town in Uganda, who learns to play chess and competes in various competitions. There were some great characters in this movie and it’s a pretty subdued drama – a pretty tame Disney story. Recommended for anyone who enjoys chess or movies about people beating the odds. Rating: B-

The Circle

Emma Watson and Tom Hanks star in this modern movie about The Circle, a successful company on the leading edge of social media / technology. Mae (Watson) joins an experiment to “go transparent” and broadcasts every moment of her waking life (bathroom breaks are the exception) with her followers, to great success that ends in a tragic way (no spoilers). Very interesting take on how things could be, or almost are today, really. I enjoyed it. Recommended for people who enjoy or appreciate innovation or the new age of social media. Rating: B+

The Dinner

Subdues drama about two brothers and their wives who find out about a crime their kids committed together over dinner. A solid cast and good writing kept me from switching it off. It was an OK story, and comic relief was provided by the restaurant’s antics (a really uppity place pretty full of itself) but I found it enjoyable.  It’s not for everyone though. Recommended for those who enjoy movies centered on dialogue and don’t need bells and whistles to be entertained. Rating: B-

Our recent trip to Italy (first of several posts here) gave me the opportunity to tackle a bunch of life list items in one go. I’ve been able to cross off the following, mostly travel and food-related ones this time – the best kind :)):

  • Travel to Italy
  • See the Sistine Chapel, Italy
  • See the Colosseum, Italy
  • Travel to Tuscany, Italy
  • Enjoy pasta and wine in Italy
  • Take a train in Europe
  • Eat pizza in Italy
  • Have gelato in Italy

I also upped the count for this one:

  • Travel to 50 countries (19 done, 31 to go)

I’ll be able to knock off a couple more on our next trip which has already been booked for next year (more on that in a future post!).

This brings the Life List total to 309 items completed of 441 total.

🙂

Today was our last day in Italy before our trip home. We booked a full day tour in Tuscany and it was awesome!

Our first stop was in San Gimignano and it was a quaint, charming medieval town on a hill with 14 remaining towers but originally had over 70!

We strolled the streets, visited the church and climbed the Torre Grosse (holy crap was it windy up there!) and the last stairs/ladder to the top was very steep – not for the faint of heart. This was the view as we approached the town gates:

After entering the gates, one main street:

Peeking down a side street:

Chris with the Torre del Diavolo (see the horns?):

Duomo di San Gimignano:

Torre Grosse:

Up we go!

View from the top of the twins:

Caged bells at the very top:

Inside the duomo:

Great paintings along the sides depicting stories:

The last supper:

Noah and the ark:

  

Next stop was lunch at a winery called Casa Frasse. We had 2 wine tastings in the courtyard, then had lunch including antipasto, then pasta, then a main course, then panna cotta for dessert. It was good!

Next stop was Siena!

The middle guy is Dante:

The she-wolf, related to the legend of Remus and Romulus:

The square (Piazza del Campo) where the famous Palio annual horse race occurs. Siena is split into 17 districts or “contrada”, each represented by an animal whose emblem is posted on the buildings of the district so you can easily see which contrada you’re in. Read more about the Palio here – it sounds like a great event!

The duomo in Siena – so beautiful with three different colors of marble (white, green and red):

  

Last stop was the fortress of Montereggione which protected and defended Siena.

Vineyard and olive trees outside the town walls:

 

We slept in today – no tours planned (except for this evening). We visited the Bargello museum, well-known for Renaissance sculpture.  It was very beautiful:

Michelangelo’s Bacchus:

Giambologna’s Flying Mercury:

In the ivory section – cool game board:

Donatello’s David in bronze:

Donatello’s David in marble:

Jason and the golden fleece:

There was a porcelain section – this piece caught my eye – pretty:

As well as an armor and weapons section:

Check out that middle helm – intimidating!

I liked that there were people sitting and drawing:

We got some shopping done today as well since it was our last chance before our full day outing tomorrow. We picked up some goodies for us as well as some souvenirs.

Wallet for me 🙂

Gloves for Chris:

After-museum-break:

Lunch:

Had to try an aperol spritz:

Tonight we had booked a dinner and wine tasting at a private Tuscan villa and it was fabulous:

The garden:

Olive trees:

Couple of pics of us with that view:

In the cellar for the first tasting (white blend) and bruschetta:

In the dining area for antipasto (below) and the pasta (pasta with pesto) and main course (pork, salad, potatoes) – with tastings of 2 red wines (I forgot to take pics!!) and dessert (cantucci with vin santo). It was a lovely evening and we met great people as well.

 

It was a rainy day today so we moved our Tuscany tour to Tuesday instead and took it easy today.

We strolled over to the Spedale degli Innocenti just to see the outside. We went to visit the San Lorenzo church to see Donatello’s tomb.

Then we headed to the Galileo museum which was a pleasant surprise as well – very cool:

Thermometers:

Calculators:

Barometers:

Look at the huge telescope:

Chemistry set:

I only got a night shot of the San Lorenzo church:

We went back to Za Za for dinner. This time we shared a caprese salad to start. I had the beef tenderloin with rosemary potatoes and Chris had the Tuscan white beans with sausage and sage. I had tiramisu for dessert and Chris had strawberries with lemon and sugar.

Another early start and we were 2nd in line at the Uffizi Museum (with our Firenze card in hand). The Uffizi is the larger museum that holds great Renaissance works of art. It’s a must see for any art-lovers in Florence. Getting there early allows pics of the building without the horde of tourists. Bonus! 🙂

Spring:

Birth of Venus:

  

When we were there, an exhibit on the restoration of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work was on display – very interesting to see his original drawings that became an unfinihsed painting:

View of the Uffizi (both sides) and the Palazzo Vecchio in the background:

Loggia dei Lanzi – outside the Uffizi:

Quick walk over to Santa Trinita church:

Next stop – Santa Croce with many well-known tombs:

  

The cloisters

The lucky pig – if you rub its snout, it brings you good luck:

The Mercato Vecchio:

We visited the Palazzo Vecchio:

Dante’s mask (any Dan Brown fans out there?):

Chris climbed another tower. 🙂

Great shots of Florence and the Duomo from up there:

And of Santa Croce:

  

Night shots of the Palazzo:

Nearby carousel:

Duomo buildings:

For lunch, we had a tagliere (board) for 2 at La Prosciutteria – yummy:

Lunch at La Prosciutteria - tagliere for 2