Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Buongiorno! Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Wherever!!!

Greetings again from halfway across the world.

Today, ITALY!!!!

Hopefully the day involves some vino, cappuccino, and a tower that lean's-o.

Yeah, that was a stretch.
Work with me here. I don't know any Italian.
I've got my high school Spanish to get me through.
And my dad. Who thinks he is Italian.
All his buddies are Italian cyclists.

I'm totally serious.
Growing up they had names like Carlo, Franco, Oreano, and Gian Carlo.
Yep. They are all brothers.
And they bike.
It was like the freaking Giro de Italia whenever we'd go on adventures with dad.
That's like the Tour de France.  But the Italian version.

In fact. Many, many, many moons ago - these buddies of my dad's took him TO Italy.
They rented a villa.
It came with an italian woman who cooked for them every night.
During the day, they'd ride all around the Tuscan Countryside.
On a lot of the paths the Giro guys had ridden on only a few weeks earlier.
Little kids would come out of their homes, and wave flags along the side of the road.
Cyclists are rockstars in Italy.
I think my dad loved his rockstar days.

I just know that he is going to be the happiest clam the next few days as we explore the land of his wannabe ancestors. 

So today, we are traveling through some of the same area.
Supposedly, including a tour of Lucca. Shoutouts to Krissie, Wendy, and Jessica - who's stories of Lucca are some of the best around. They went a decade ago - and are still telling the tales. ;) Right ladies?

Hopefully I come home with a few of my own....that don't require a winky face.

We'll also be checking out that leaning tower. I'm sure I'll be posting the required "holding up the tower" picture when I return...just hold your horses, okay?

So now, you are wondering, where was A Cuppa Kim, A Year Ago?
I was floating along the Baltic Sea.
Waving at Poland.
and Latvia.

Which meant, LOT's of reading time.
Mentally, I was in Sweden, with The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo.

Here are a few pics from my at sea days...they are all combined into one layout...but you get the idea....

(click for larger)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bonjour, from Monaco!

Bonjour! (Is that what they say in Monaco? They are almost-but-not-really Frenchies, right?)
Good Morning!
Today I am rubbing elbows with the Grimaldis.
I totally am.
Okay, maybe not.
But, for all I know. I might be.
(remember, writing this in advance?)

The plan for today is to hoof it around Monte Carlo.
When you hear Monte Carlo, what do you think of?

Princess Grace?

Mom, Dad and I are headed to the Grand Casino.
Hopefully it works out.
They say Monte Carlo FITS inside of Central Park.
I have walked a good distance of Central Park, so I think we should be able to make it to the casino.
And since I'm hours ahead, I have probably already hit it BIG, and am never coming home. Ever. It was nice knowing all of you. I'm onto bigger and better things. ;)

I may or may not try to double down.
Always on 11.
Always on 10.
NEVER split 9's. Or 10's. EVER.
ALWAYS split 8's. And 7's.
These are the kinds of things my grandma teaches me.
She has trophies you know.
This kinda stuff runs in the blood.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's better that way. Promise.

Let's move on from my sketchy behaviors...shall we?

A year ago today...where was I?
Warnemunde to be specific.
My mother never ONCE said that name correctly.
Even now, still doesn't.
Hint: The W makes a V sound - you know how those crazy German's do.

Germany was an adventure. They wouldn't take my Visa anywhere. They just didn't have credit card machines.
Finding an ATM took an hour.
And finally, my dad and I were able to enjoy some pastries at a cafe.
There were tons of cute shops in Warnemunde.
A little vacation town for the Germans.
Reminded me a lot of Sausalito in appearance and atmosphere.

Earlier in the day, we took a tour through Rostock - a little bit larger, more bustling city in northern-eastern Germany.
While we were exploring the city center, the circus came to town.
I'm not talking Ringling Brothers.
I'm not talking Cirque du Soliel
I'm talking, a Water for Elephants, travel by train, pitching tents in a field, gypsy type circus performers, circus.

We were mid-tour when a man in a red coat with tails came up to us, and in broken English warned us "the elephants are coming! the elephants are coming!"
And we looked up, and a small herd of elephants was being escorted through the square. By just a handful of circus performers.
There was a table of fresh fruits and veggies directly in front of us - which we thought was some kind of religious tribute or symbol, but was really just a snack for the pachyderms.
I was SO excited that the elephants were going to be going by us, I turned my back to them, while my dad snapped picture after picture, after picture.
I didn't turn around for about 2 minutes, and was completely startled to find the elephant, DIRECTLY behind me. No buffer. No gates. No man standing by with a tranquilizer gun.
Just me and dumbo.
The look on my mom's face was priceless.

I love Europe.
I love how things happen there that would never happen in the states.
Like elephants roaming free through town.

It's been real Germany....I'll see you again in a few days when I make my connecting flight back to the states....

Until then, we'll always have Warnemunde:
(click for larger....and look into that elephant's eye - he was totally checking me out)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hola! From Spain!!

Hola Amigos!

Hoy, yo estoy en Espana!
How's that for five years of Spanish!? I'm not even sure if I am using the verbs correctly - but WHATEVS. Most of you probably don't care!

So - get this, I am 30.
I am in Barcelona.
And I am on a bicycle.

(Technically, I am 29 and writing this, a full month in advance...NERDALERT) - but you get the point!

I thought I'd let you know what I'm up to while across the world today!

Also technically, by the time this posts, I have probably already ridden a bike through the streets of Barcie-Pants. (Copycatting that city nickname from Reagan. Because I love it).

So right now, I'm probably off spending way too many Euros (remember, I forget how to convert...and it does not work in my favor), drinking a coffee in a cafe, and about to begin my Med-Sea adventure. Ship leaves TONIGHT.

I can't really tell you how things are going - because, remember, I'm not there yet when I'm writing?  But, let's just pretend things are AWESOME. That the flight was fabulous, accommodations are nothing but luxurious, and the food is delicious. I'm totally not jetlagged, and totally not exhausted.

Hey a girl can dream, right?

Anyway, a little fun for you...ready?
Today, while I'm exploring Barcie, you all can see my adventures from a year ago TODAY.
When I was in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Yep. I know. I really do. I am a lucky girl.

My biggest regret from Denmark? Not renting a bike. Seriously. If you go to Copenhagen. Walk. Or bike. Do NOT go on any bus tours. Including the Ho-Ho's (hop on, hop off).
We started our tour on foot.
Found the castle.
They have a real live queen in Denmark.
Had breakfast along their famous canal.
Ate the most expensive croissant of my life.
They put them on the table, like "hey free bread"
But they are not free.
Lesson learned.
But the Danes bike EVERY WHERE.
There are HUGE bike parking lots.
The cars and buses can hardly get around.
Copenhagen is a 2 wheeled city.

So, like I said, lesson learned, and today I'm biking Barcie with my dad. Hopefully the Spanish feel the same way as the Danes about biking and it was a worthy adventure.

And that I can find some flan.
And a Cafe Ole (yes, I know it's spelled Au Lait) - which sounds french, but was the name of the character on Strawberry Shortcake from Mexi-cocoa. Um, which basically means NOTHING, because I am in Spain.

(click for larger)

Tomorrow...Monte Carlo!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday {Birthday} Blessings

Today is the big day. I have left my 20's behind (and they were quite fabulous) and have entered the world of being a 30-something.
Sans the something.
I am just 30.
Thirty. Flirty. and Thriving.  (...anybody...?)

See...this is totally me:

I have been blessed with thirty years of awesome. Amazing family, friends, and adorable puppies. God has called me his own, and reveals more of Himself to me each day, let alone each year. Praise Him for thirty fantastic years.

Here is a quick recap:

Getting to 30 takes work. Like turning one.

And two.

Those were the cute years....

But you must go through the awkward times (curly bangs!) as well. Say, twelve?

And 29. We'll just leave 13-28 to the imagination. the time you are reading this, I'll be utilizing my junior high and high school Spanish (shout outs to Mrs Heyer!) in Barcelona!

And I'll be well on my way as a THIRTY year old!

So, since I can't be with you today, I give you permission - actually I demand - that you grab a cuppa-tea and a cuppa-cake and celebrate!

And, PROMISE me you will come back tomorrow...and the rest of the next two weeks (yep, it is a big commitment I'm asking of you)....for my While You Were Out series of posts.

I kinda think they are awesome. 
Consider it a party up in here. 
All day. 
Every day. 
On the Cuppa Kim blog.

Throw some confetti. Blow up a few balloons. And party hardy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

InstaFriday: Leaving on a Jetplane Edition

So...24 hours ago, my life was calm. Planned. Exciting.

Now it's crazy, hectic, and still exciting.

Because, um, good old IRENE decided to make an appearance in the Atlantic - which makes getting across it a major problem.

Well, a major #whitegirlproblem.

Thankfully, my mom and I worked quickly to make a new plan.

We are leaving for Europe. An entire day earlier.
The fun part, I'm making a quick stop (um, layover) in HOLLAND. THE NETHERLANDS. You know, the land of Dutch people and tulips. Also happens to be the name of the cruise line we are taking.


I'm totally adding it to my list of countries visited. Sorry suckers!
(Mexico, Canada, Ireland, England, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and soon to be The Netherlands, Spain, Monaco, Italy, Greece, and Croatia). YEP.

Anyway, the point of my story is - I was supposed to leave SATURDAY. On a plane today. 2pm. You might be reading this after I left.

I was supposed to turn 30 in the air. But, Lord Willing, I will be on solid Spanish Soil when the big three-oh hits!

Anyway, here is my week in advance....

Saturday, adventure day in the city....Blue Bottle in the AM. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in the PM.
Finally got to get artsy with lavender in my super cute Harney and Sons tea tin - inspired by Pinterest.

Cari and Betsy got me the most awesome gift - jumbo teal utensils.
From my Etsy Favorites. They look even more awesome than I hoped.

Biker gang rolled 4 deep this week. A new Chipotle Sunday record.
The Teal Tank made her debut appearance.
And it was a gorgeous day. Win. Win.

Monday night was my birthday celebration with my grandma....
Yes, my birthday isn't til Sunday.
And yes, the celebrations will probably go on for a month straight.
You can all start accepting that now.

Anyway, Grandma knows how to party. Complete with a "centerpiece" party hat weight from the dollar tree.
She instructed me to take it with me on the plane.
Yep, totally worth hauling around the airport for that festive item!

She also gave me a weird "princess" item. No clue what it is.
A veil? A hat? A collar? A dickie?
She didn't know either.

And just so you can understand my (amazing) Grandma I will tell you what she gave me.
Wii sports attachments, a headband set, purple shoes with a green and a red rhinestone on the toe, some carry on "luggage", a thick white sweater vest (for the warm days in Italy), Christmas DVD's, and a necklace/earring/bracelet set. The real winner is the Clinique make up bag - which is actually super cute, and I will totally be using.

Tuesday was my blogiversary - the big winner happened to be local, so I dropped off these goodies to her.

 Tuesday night, Betsy, Dave and I hit up the Giant's game.
They didn't win.
I won't tell you my record.
It is BAD.
My last win was in April.
And I have been to at least one game per month.
You can do the math.

BUT - the views are fabulous.
And when the sun sets - the hills look like they are on FIRE.
We have a similar view from my parent's house - and one time I called my mom at work freaking because I thought Oakland was going to burn again.
Turns out it's the sun reflecting in the windows of people's homes on the other side of the hill.

I also had my rally rope(s).
Plural, because the first one was SO stale. I could hardly eat it.
And I was THAT girl and took it back.
Second one. Still about 85% stale.
But I ate it.
And we actually RALLIED!
Not one, but two runs were scored while rallying red rope 2.0.
But then we lost.

So....let's move on.

Wednesday is Hope CommUNITY Groups.
Also it was Jason's birthday.
Mine is on Sunday. But I won't be here.
So of course, they celebrated us both.
I got a cupcake recipe book - WITH a hot dog card (um, AWESOME GIFT from an AWESOME FRIEND - she speaks my language)
And some beautiful pink roses. LOVE THEM.
Sorry to steal all your actual-birthday-thunder with my pseudo-birthday thunder, Jas.

So, today when I found out that we were leaving tomorrow I had to put some hustle in my bustle.
Do you have keys to your friends houses?
Is it weird that I do?
It totally comes in handy in clutch today.

Anyway...I needed to pick up a few tops I was borrowing from Jess, and let myself in...
Kobi was very welcoming.
But I don't think he wanted me to leave.

Hustled the bustle over to my house, where I was immediately greeted when the elevator doors opened, by my palm tree.
Not in front of my unit.
But in front of the elevator.
They are painting.
Also, after work, still there. I'm just gonna leave him there, I guess....

We'll see where he is when I get back....

And speaking of getting back - be sure and come back here starting Sunday, I am kicking off my super fabulous While You Were Out series of posts!

I have some really great posts scheduled every day! I got a lot of requests to bring stowaways - which, I didn't want to get thrown in the brig, so I came up with the next best thing.
This little bloggity blog will be taking a trip around the world.
Each day will be a recap of where I was exactly a year ago to the day - as well as some info on where I'll be that day!

Consider it an e-postcard, each day!

It will be fun.
I promise.

Linking up with Jeannett
life rearranged

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another P-slammer

Last week, I posted this.
And I accidentally spelled Psalm - Pslam.
Everyone was kind to ignore glaring typo.

And Jess said that post really p-slammed her.
Which is awesome, because most of these psalms are pslamming me as well. 

Well, the other morning I was reading Psalm 139.
It's kind of a biggie.
A lot of familiar scripture.
Often quoted.

I have a tendency to skim over the biggies, trying to find insight in the less popular Psalms.
Mostly because I think I am smart and already "get it".

But 139 was the last chapter on Friday's 5-a-day reading - and I couldn't put it down.
I read through it.
And then had to read it again.
And one more time.
And then back again.
So much of this passage was speaking to my heart.

A conversation with a friend last week, who said she was feeling distant from God. Not because of any grievous sin, or disobedience. But maybe just a sense of apathy?
I was right there with her.

And there were verses 7 and 8, I have sung songs of these verses, read them over and over, quoted them to others...but today they really meant something.

God isn't distant. He is here. Alive, and present.
Even if I am fleeing Him.
Ignoring Him.
Disobeying Him.
He is still there.
He isn't the one who has gone anywhere.
In fact, He is wherever WE go. God and his presence isn't conditional upon my action. Perhaps I just need to open my eyes a little wider, shine the light a little brighter, and SEE Him present.
In each moment.
In every place I am.

And verses 13 and 14 are often read and quoted for new life, precious little ones. And yes they encourage me!

But I really like verse 16,

I love the way it is phrased, "in your book were written" - it leaves me hanging - and I say - WHAT? What was written? "The days that were formed for me"!Oh, THAT! So cool. My days are written in God's book?

And then 21-24, David, he asks some good questions of himself. Does he hate those who hate the Lord? Does he loathe those who rise up against you?


He asks those questions of himself.
Solidly affirms that yes, he does hate those who hate the Lord.
He counts them as his enemies.
But he makes me think, do I hate those things?
Would my response be so certain?

And I love the word he uses here - TRY.
As in TRY ME.
Put me on trial.
Put my thoughts on trial.
Would they be able to stand?
I know, on my own, they would not.
Almost never.
Is there any grievous way in me?
Too often there is.


God speaks vividly through the Psalms.
He is present. Even when I don't notice Him.
He know each of my days, and in fact he has them all in his book.
And, I am encouraged, to live my life in a way that it could be put on trial.
That my thoughts and ways could be searched. 

And I am thankful for Jesus, who will stand before me at that trial, and say "I paid for this one". He takes on my guilt. He pays my debt, before the court of God.

And I stand before God the father, clean, innocent, and declared not guilty.

That is truly grace.

[Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart]
    O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
    You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
    You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
    Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
    You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
        it is high; I cannot attain it.
    Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
    If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
    even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
    If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
    even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
        for darkness is as light with you.
    For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
    My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
    in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
        when as yet there was none of them.
    How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
    If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
        I awake, and I am still with you.
    Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
    They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.
    Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
    I hate them with complete hatred;
        I count them my enemies.
    Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
    And see if there be any grievous way in me,
        and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalm 139 ESV)

Linking up with Jami, a day late again....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy First Birthday Bloggity Blog!


It has been a FUN two weeks of pre-celebrations!

To think, a YEAR ago today, I kicked off this fun little corner of the internet with this little intro post....

My little blog about cupcakes, tea, coffee, and the occasional hot dog has turned into so much more!

And I have made a lot of bloggy friends.

Yes, my sister and my mom think I'm crazy.

I don't even remember what the original header looked like. But it was probably a blogger standard.

I think the place spiffed up pretty well. Still basic. But I think she is lovely.

So I one year, I have posted 137 posts (including this one)...most of those in the last 6 months.

We had a bit of a rocky start.

Anyway, we got a good groove going, and two weeks ago, I opened the comment floodgates for the very first Cuppa Kim Blog-i-versary Mug Swap. 

I kinda think it was a hit.
Thirty-three of you all signed up to swap some mugs!
You're welcome, USPS.

Mugs have been FLYING through the skies, traveling by highways and byways to get to all of you!
Here is just a little sample of what is out there:

A lot of you told me you mailed your mug today or yesterday - so if you haven't gotten your mug yet, it's on it's way.

So, if you don't have it by Friday, PLEASE let me know, ASAP and I'll follow up with your sender!

So, I know what you are all waiting here to find out....who is the big winner?
Well, I put everyone's name on a piece of paper. Extra names for tweeting, blogging, and buttoning up.
You were all in there. My lovely assistant Betsy folded each entry!

Yes, grainy cell phone pick of the drawing bucket.
In terrible lighting.

Congrats Lori D!!! I think it is fabulous that you won! You are my first official "blog fan."
A few months ago, we were having our garage sale at the Johnson's - and Lori walked up asking where Jess was. I introduced myself and she said "Oh, I know, you are Cuppa Kim! I read your blog!"

So thanks for being a reader and a fun twitter buddy! Since you are local, the blog-giveaway fairy will be dropping off your goodies this week!!!

And thanks again to the rest of you for participating - I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

And thanks to everyone who reads this little blog! I love all of your comments and friendship!

The mug swap might have been my favorite blog post ever!

What has been yours?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sisters on the Town

The Grovers and Steigers go way back.

I'm talking playing with the cardboard bricks, fighting over the sit and spin, and riding side by side on the spring loaded ponies in the nursery at church, back.

So far back that I don't remember when we became friends.

But our mama's are friends.
Which means we are too.

Two sisters.
Three and a half years apart.
Nurse Daughters, or ND's for short.
A sense of wanderlust and adventure.

We had a lot in common.

Which I think is why our friendship has stood the test of time.

I mean, check this photo out. You won't see any forehead.
We girls knew how to rock the solid bangs.
Pouty girl in the middle is my sister.
She perfected the pout before it was the standard MySpace pose.

Our mom's took us into the city to help serve the Seamen's Mission.

I don't remember doing any work.
Just eating their belgian waffles.
Although, now that I look at the picture, maybe they were technically scandinavian waffles?

We talk about those waffles to this day.
I have never EVER had a waffle so good.

Anyway, we have done a lot of adventures together. Disneyland. Hawaii. Tahoe.

Anyway, we were due for another sister date.
So we headed to the city to replicate an adventure we took last spring.
The San Francisco Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building and brunch at the Market Bar.

The morning started with Blue Bottle.
You gotta at least try it once.
But be ready to wait in line for 20 minutes.
The jury is still out on if it is worth the wait.
But their logo is cute.
And their waffle isn't half bad.
Not as good as the mission. But good.

We explored the Ferry Building. And all of its crowded quirky glory.
I bought a super cute succulent.
In a mug.
It's my first.
I don't do plants.
I have a palm tree.
That I water about 6 times a year.
Which reminds me....

The best part of this farmer's market - is that it is in both the front and the back of the building.
The first time we explored, we discovered the entire back section.
Which is way bigger.
And way better.

And this time around, WAY more variety, quality, and even though it was crowded we actually were able to get to a lot of the booths and find out about the products and produce being peddled.
Um, or eat their free samples.
Tomato. Tomahto.

Does everything not look awesome?
Cindy bought us each a pluot.
Which I ate when I got home.
And I kinda wish she bought me seven.

The flowers were fresher.
All around lovelier.

I bought a bundle of lavender.
Which smelled divine.
Lavender scent reminds me of the nap class that I took in college.

You think I'm kidding about the nap class?
No. I got one unit for napping.


And I passed.
Like that was even a question.

I also drew naked people.
But that was a different class.

Those are different posts all together.
Back to the farmer's market.
And fully clothed people.

Like these guys...a live band.
Best comment of the day, was my sister's, regarding them...

"Well....I guess if Needtobreathe isn't available"

They kinda looked like them.
And sounded like them.
I don't know. Maybe that comment was just funny to me.
Moving on...

Some of the vendors get kinda bossy.
You don't want to mess with them.
Especially when they tell you samples are mandatory.
Oh fine.
If you insist.

We wined and dined at the Market Bar.
There was a lot of bacon involved.
And mimosas.
And more bacon.

After a fab brunch, back to the Ferry Building to use the restrooms explore.

I could have bought one of everything.
But the visa bill and my jeans won't allow it.
So I settled for taking pictures.

Yes, that is sombrero shaped pasta.
And rainbow lasagna.
I think the black and white bow ties are adorbs.

These are the baby sisters. One is a hygienist, and got a kick out of the dental fund at the candy shop.
And one is a nurse. Who loves all things nerdy.

We love them both.

Finally, we made a stop in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
We don't have CB&TL in the burbs.
I know, call us underprivileged.

In fact, I have only been to Coffee Bean one time in my life.
When I went to a private Hilary Duff concert a few years back.
And stalked Perez Hilton - at what he then considered his "office".

See, this is the picture we took with him. But I cropped my sister and I out.
2006 wasn't a hot year.
You're welcome.

Anyway, CB&TL is a bit of a novelty around these parts.
So we may have geeked out a bit.
But it was fun.
And Cindy bought me a light blended vanilla whirly doo.
Who knows what they call their drinks.
I can't keep it straight.
But it was delish.

And the nerdy shoe shot?
Taken by my sister.
But not posed.
We actually were just sitting like that.
Do you even care?
Time to stop typing?
Yeah, I thought so.

The good news is tomorrow is my actual blog-i-versary.
And I announce the winner of my mug swap giveaway.

Did you get your mug?
Did you mail your mug?

You have until tomorrow to do it.
Police yourselves people.

And come back tomorrow.
Maybe I'll post one of my sketches of naked people.* **

*I totally won't.
**At least not tomorrow.

Linking up with Heather at Life Made Lovely