Travel Treasures: Ceramic Plates From Florence

Poached eggs on avocado toast is a staple in my breakfast repertoire. What makes this breakfast meal particularly special for me is serving it on this pretty dish I purchased in Florence, Italy.

Avocado toast on dish from Florence, Italy

I bought these dishes when we were in Florence several years ago. While Dave rested in our hotel,  I used the free time to shop and went to a ceramics store recommended in this adorable shopping guidebook, The Civilized Shopper’s Guide to Florence by Louise Fili. The book is four inches square, so it’s easy to carry with you while exploring and shopping.

Luckily I still have the book because I can not remember the name of the store, but I remember the inside clearly. There were tables and shelves of beautiful plates and ceramics, each more beautiful than the next. It was hard to decide what to purchase, although I was limited by my desire to take the items with me and not ship them home.

I purchased four of these plates to use for small bites, snacks and sandwiches. They are bright, colorful and always bring a smile to my face, and they remind me of our wonderful trip to Florence. I also purchased four small bowls which are the perfect size for serving ice cream at home (unfortunately, while the bowls remind us of Florence, the ice cream is not the same as the gelato we had in Italy).

I recommend purchasing this book if you plan to visit Florence, and you like to shop! There are so many artisan shops listed here, and we also discovered a list of gelato cafes to visit. Those suggestions alone were worth the price of this book!

Here’s the page for the ceramics store from the book – Sbigoli Terrecotte – I made notes! Normally I don’t like marking my books, but for this one, I decided to jot notes to help me remember which stores I visited and what I liked about each one.

The Civilized Shopper's Guide to Florence by Louise Fili book on ceramics on Florence Italy

The page for Sbigoli Terrecotte ceramics shop in Florence from The Civilized Shopper’s Guide to Florence (note Lau Lau on the bottom left looking up at me)

The book is divided into walks around different neighborhoods in Florence. Each walk includes a section on eating and drinking, and we used these suggestions to try different gelato shops. Vestri was one gelato cafe we particularly enjoyed (my notes in the book say, “Yummy!! I think best gelato we had.”). There is also an index by specialty in the back of the book, with categories such as Frames & Prints, Children, Linens, and Paper Goods, for example.

Vestri gelateria in Florence Firenze Italy

Dave enjoys Vestri gelato and chocolate in Florence, Italy

Although ceramic plates are difficult to transport while traveling, I realized that I enjoy purchasing items to bring home that I need, rather than a random souvenir. I use these dishes and bowls every week, and it is nice to have a small reminder of our trip in our kitchen.

Have you been to Florence? What special items did you bring home?

Travel Treasures Ceramic Plates from Florence Firenze

 

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South Bay Scenes – December 26, 2016 – January 1, 2017

The chilly temperatures of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day continued in the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Los Angeles. With family visiting, I did not make it to the beach and outdoors as much as I normally do, but I was able to venture outside a few days and take some pictures while out walking the dogs.

Our walk on Thursday night, December 29th started late, and soon we we were walking in the dusk and then the dark along the Strand. But with so many houses displaying Christmas lights, there was something to enjoy. I realized I had not taken any photos of the decorated Manhattan Beach Pier, so I made sure to walk on the pier to capture the pretty lights.

sbs-dec-29-pier-1

Strands of white lights lead the way to the “tree” atop the Round House Aquarium

Manhattan Beach Pier Round House Aquarium Christmas tree lights

The Pier Christmas Tree in lights

My phone could not focus on the lights with the darkness, but I still thought they were pretty even though they are blurred.

Manhattan Beach Pier holiday lights

On the Manhattan Beach pier looking east to downtown Manhattan Beach

Looking from the end of the pier back to Manhattan Beach

The Season’s Greeting sign hanging across Manhattan Beach Boulevard was there as usual.

Season's Greeting lights over Manhattan Beach Boulevard

Looking west on Manhattan Beach Boulevard to the Seasons Greeting sign and the Manhattan Beach Pier

Seasons Greetings in Manhattan Beach with pier in background

On New Year’s Eve, we were determined to take the dogs for a long walk on the Strand. They needed to stretch their legs, and we wanted to tire them out before the inevitable fireworks at midnight that scare them.

It was a cold and windy day. I brought their rain coats in case it started to rain, and not ten minutes after we started walking, the rain came. It was a steady rain, so even though the boys do not enjoy wearing their rain coats, it kept most of the water off of them.

Koa and Lau Lau dogs wearing raincoats in Manhattan Beach on New Year's Eve

Heading down a walk street to the Strand in Manhattan Beach

Wet and rainy Manhattan Beach

It was very gray, but the sun is peeking through on the horizon.

There was hardly anyone out on the Strand. The wind made it feel colder than it was and my hands felt very raw. Luckily I had a good rain jacket that kept me dry.

Manhattan Beach strand and flowers on New Year's Eve

Looking through the flowers to the sun on the horizon

Dogs in raincoats on the Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's eve 2016

Koa and Lau Lau making the most of the wet, cold and windy weather on New Year’s Eve along the Strand.

Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's eve with ships in the ocean

Sun on the horizon lights up the ships in the ocean

Snack shop on El Porto Beach in Manhattan Beach on New Year's Eve

This snack shop is normally busy no mater what time of day you walk by.

Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

The wet and windy Strand on Manhattan Beach on New Year’s Eve. No one was out!

Manhattan Beach Strand sunset on New Year's Eve 2016

The sun setting with the gray clouds overhead

Manhattan Beach Strand sunset on New Year's Eve 2016

It was sunny on the horizon but not where we were! Look at the light catching the tips of the plant.

Final sunset of 2016 from Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve

Last sunset of 2016

Dogs wearing rain coats on Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

The boys sporting their rain coats.

Dogs wearing rain coats on Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

Lau Lau in the front and Koa in the back.

The next day, the storm and the clouds moved on, and we were treated to a bright, clear day at the beach. The Strand was very crowded, especially compared to the day before, as everyone was outside enjoying the day and the first day of 2017!

Manhattan Beach on New Year's Day 2017

What a difference compared to the day before!

Manhattan Beach Strand looking north on New Year's Day 2017

You can see on the far right the snack shop is busy compared to the day before! And you can see the mountains near Santa Monica and Malibu

Instagram 2016 Best Nine

Happy New Year! Everyone is once again doing the round-up of their best nine Instagram posts for 2016. I had fun looking at my top posts last year (see my 2015 best nine here), and it was interesting to see which photos generated the most feedback and likes. As we approached the end of 2016, I was curious to see which of my photos were the most popular.

Here are my best nine Instagram photos for 2016:

Instagram 2016 Best Nine

Most Popular Photo – Stickhouse Gelato

My most liked photo (in the top left of the collage) is from Stickhouse Gelato in Santa Monica, California. I had heard about this shop that sells gelato on a stick, and I finally made time to try it in June. It was delicious!

 

Second Most Liked – Alfred Coffee

The middle photo in the top row is from Alfred Coffee in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, near my old office. One weekend, after a meeting, I was able to stop there for an iced coffee. I loved the decor.

 

Photo #3 – Manhattan Beach Sunset

The third most popular photo (top right corner) is of a Manhattan Beach sunset. Sunset photos always seem to be well-liked when I post them, but this one was especially vibrant because the sky was filled with smoke from the Sand Fire in the Angeles National Forest in July. The fire was fueled by high temperatures and windy conditions. I remember when I was walking the dogs along the Strand on that day, everyone was taking photos of the surreal sunset.

Fourth Most Liked – Magnolia Bakery

While visiting New York City in August, I met friends for dinner on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. For dessert, we stopped in at Magnolia Bakery. Their cakes and cupcakes were beautifully decorated. But, I did not have a cupcake – we ordered their famous banana pudding. Oh my goodness, it was delicious. And, I have since learned that they have a location in Los Angeles! It is probably better that it is not too close to home, because I would want to eat a treat there all the time.

 

Middle Photo – Sunset in La Jolla

Our family spent a week in La Jolla, California, in May, renting a house a block away from this beautiful scene at Windansea Beach. Unfortunately, on most days we experienced the, “May Gray,” skies typical for this time of the year in southern California. But this one night, the sun broke through and we had a beautiful golden hour of light before the sun set.

The sun broke through right at #sunset last night. #LaJolla

A post shared by Kiera Reilly (@kierareilly) on

 

Sixth Most Popular – Plane Video!

I used to always want to sit in the aisle seat when flying cross-country, as I liked the ability to be able to stand up and stretch my legs without needing to disturb my seat-mates. Recently though, after a few flights sitting by the window, I now pick the window seat when flying over land. I am often mesmerized looking out the window at the clouds or the landscape below. This is video I took while departing LAX in December. It was a beautiful day for flying.

 

Seventh Place – Santorini

After spending a week exploring Crete in May with fellow travel bloggers, my friend Kat and I took the ferry to Santorini for a short two-night stay. I wanted to see this magical island which seems to always look its best in photos. The stark white buildings, vibrant blue sea and stunning landscape of Santorini did not disappoint.

Bright white, blue sky and sea in Oia, #Santorini #Greece

A post shared by Kiera Reilly (@kierareilly) on

 

Last (Ninth) Place But Not Least – Flytographer in Budapest

This photo, from a photo-shoot with Flytographer in Budapest, is actually two years old. I was visiting European Christmas markets on a solo trip in December, 2014. And at the last stop on my trip, in Budapest, I had the opportunity to have a Flytographer photo shoot. Wow, the pictures captured the magic of Budapest’s Christmas markets, and the photographer Roky took so many fantastic pictures, it is hard to pick a favorite one. It makes me want to return to Budapest for more mulled wine and sparkly lights! You can see more photos from my shoot and read more about my experience in my recent post here.

The Best Nine

2016 was so much more than these nine photos, but it is fun to share daily photos and see which photos receive the most likes. Once again, food and coffee photos are popular, as are sunsets on the beach. I try to mix up the things I post, so that there is a sampling of beautiful cars, food and drink, and a travel location. It will be interesting to see in my mix of photos for 2017 what everyone likes the best!

Have you discovered your #2016bestnine?

To generate your, “best nine,” Instagram posts for the year (which nine posts received the most likes), visit https://2016bestnine.com/, type in your Instagram user name, and the site searches your posts and compiles the top photos in a collage you can post to Instagram, share to Twitter or save as an image. The site also compiles your total number of likes (15,935 for me) and the total posts you shared in 2016 (362 – a little more than one each day).

Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2017!