Cyndi Martin
  • Female
  • St. Louis, Missouri, USA
  • United States
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My Blog

Beautiful day!

It is an absolutely perfect Sunday morning in Figline.  We had the morning free until time to go to Claudio's this afternoon and a few classmates went into Firenze.  I chose to sleep in so I missed breakfast in the hotel.  I walked down to the piazza in search of brunch and found delicious pastries and capuccino.  I really think I am in Heaven!  I love the piazza!  I love that everyone seems to just hang out together there.  There were about twenty old men with tables pushed together talking, smoking, and playing cards.  There were folks with their kids everywhere.  Things were being set up for the jousting tonight at the fair.  I'm excited about that!  I want to live somewhere with a piazza!

Breakfast in Heaven looks very much like this:

You get it here:

When I got back to the hotel I found my classmates in the pool with a jug of wine.

SO good!  And organic!

My own sort of Under The Tuscan Sun moment (not a lady bug but I think it's prettier):

Grappa, grappa everywhere...


I don't have the recipes yet but I will share this when I do.  It is zucchini layered with a creamy sauce and cheese.  To.  Die.  For.


I don't know what to call this.  I'll edit later when I have recipes.  It was good!

My new desktop background:

We made ice cream from one of those delicious cantaloupes.

The coolest thing on the planet tonight

is that I am in Figline Valdarno! It might just be my favorite place.  Yesterday, between the train station and the hotel, on our way back from Florence, we came across a yarn shop. The others just left me there. I was so excited to find it! I had been looking for them in Florence. It is a small shop without a huge selection, but it is warm and kind of cozy and the selection that they have is nice.  The very, very friendly lady who works there (and who speaks better English than some of my travel companions) showed me a scarf on display that is made from a novelty yarn. I got two skeins of Borgo de' Pazzi Eva to try to make a scarf like hers. I love that the yarn is made in Firenze.  I have to experiment to figure out just what she was doing but it will be neat if I can get it right. Maybe I'll go back and take a picture of her scarf so I can at least ask my knitting friends. One of them will know what to do!  I think it might be the boa scarf on the Patterns page of the Borgo de' Pazza website.  Anyway, today is Worldwide Knit In Public Day and I am not in St. Louis to participate but this lady told me that she would be celebrating in her shop at 5:00 and she invited me and even offered to loan me needles.  By the time we got back from Claudio's and I changed it was 6ish when I left the hotel. On the way across the piazza, though, I ran into a medieval fair! How cool is that?!!! Of course, I had to check that out pretty thoroughly. In my attempts to communicate with the folks there (Spanish reeeeeelly comes in handy if you get desperate) I learned that there would be a fire show at 9:30 tonight and jousting tomorrow night! I was SO excited! The yarn shop was closed by the time I finally made my way there so I started back to the hotel to round up classmates for the fair (I would see the yarn shop lady at the fair and learn that they had moved to a table there and I just missed them--and that there was a note on the door for me that I missed). We went back for the fire show, only it was a play of some kind so I figured that I had misunderstood. I hadn't, though. After the play there was a gal doing some sort of belly dance/fire show act. It was pretty neat. I loved the play even though they spoke too quickly for me to even attempt to follow. There was a lot of fighting. Of course I took pictures! I had an awesome night. I loved being here for their festival. I love experiencing this fair because it wasn't a touristy thing.  I LOVE Tuscany! I don't ever wanna go home. I'd give anything in the world to have Julianne here with me. Some day...  Hey, if I had "missed" my plane, I wonder if my friends would have taken up a collection to send her to me???

What a disgustingly gorgeous couple!

This guy doesn't look so hot right now but a few pictures down he is in costume.  ;)

Their fair food is even way different from ours.  There was not one funnel cake!  I love it.  I got one of these strawberry things for Julianne:

The guy at this booth cut me a taste of each of these meats.  They were so good!  The folks are very friendly.

Told ya he'd get better.

More gelato!  This time I tried tiramisu.

This afternoon, after lunch and a tour of the gardens, Chef Claudio had a tasting for us.  We tried three different peccorino cheeses.  The first is twenty days old.  The second is aged for six months.  The last has been aged for a year.  It was also wrapped in herbs while it aged.  The difference was amazing!  The first was good when it was the only one you ate.  It is mild, soft, and creamy.  The rind is good.  The second is a little firmer and stronger.  The last, though, is very good.  It spoils you for the others!  Not only did the aging add so much character, but the herbs enahnced the flavor a lot.  I was sure that I tasted dill specifically.  With it we ate the best cantaloupe!  I haven't had a good one back home yet this year.  The ones I've cut at work have been unripe and flavorless.  I would have happily eaten this whole melon!  We also tried three different charcuteries.  I only took a picture of the first.

I am very much coveting the Cuban rums!  I wish we could have them at home.

I don't know how to spell his name, but it is pronounced Waheem.  He's a mess!

For Peggy & Sandee

Here are just a few of the pictures of the gardens and flowers that I can't stop snapping.  This place is amazing.  Flowers are everywhere and the air smells like them.   I wish I could record the smell somehow!

I tried to shoot the hummingbird moth that was flitting around this lavender but he was never still!  Cool little guy!

Happy face

Chef Claudio grows grapes and olives.  He presses his own olive oil.

When you see paintings of Tuscany, this is the view.

Guess who has been in the garden?  Wild boars!

Lemon verbena, lavender (is there anything that smells better than those?), and yummy wild raspberries:

Wahim blowing me a kiss.  He, and a couple of other folks, ferried us back and forth to Claudio's.

Chef coats are so unflattering.  I DON'T have rolls!

See Pinocchio peeking out of my pocket?  He doesn't write very well but he's CUTE!


These potatoes are very, very simple but DELICIOUS!  They just have olive oil and herbs on them.  I will be making them often at home!

We put red sauce on part of our pasta and the zucchini sauce on the other.  They were both sooooo good!


Cyndi Martin's Page

Profile Information

Ironton, MO and St. Louis, MO
About Me:
I am a working single mom of a beautiful college girl, a catering & personal chef, and a bookworm. I would rather read than pretty much anything else in the world. I especially love mysteries.
I Am A:
Books And Authors I Like:
My favorite authors are Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Sue Grafton, and Jane Austen (and everyone here).
Movies And TV Shows I Like:
I watch some crime shows, but none regularly, have the whole Gilmore Girls series on DVD and watch frequently, hardly ever miss Masterpiece or Doc Martin. My favorite movie right now is Pride & Prejudice--the Colin Firth one (hated the other). My Netflix queue is full of BBC & Masterpiece movies and all of the Agatha Christie and Wallender series I can find there.

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Comment Wall (93 comments)

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At 12:25am on August 19, 2009, Preetham Grandhi said…
Hi Cyndi , I want to introduce you to my debut novel "A Circle of souls" which is a murder, mystery, psychological thriller and a tale of justice and hope. Do visit to read more about the book. Make sure you sign up to win an autographed copy of the book. You can also read more reviews by clicking on the More Reviews button at the website. Thanks for your time in advance.

Best regards

Preetham Grandhi

Early Endorsements for “A Circle of Souls”

Linda Fairstein, NYT Bestselling Author: "A fascinating debut - this novel takes the reader to the darkest places in the human soul, from a writer with the authenticity to lead us there. A stunning thriller and an important read."

Judge Judy Sheindlin, star of the Judge Judy Show: "The seminal work of this fine author kept me glued to my chair until the adventure was over and the mystery solved. A great read!"

Book Synopsis:

The sleepy town of Newbury, Connecticut, is shocked when a little girl is found brutally murdered. The town s top detective, perplexed by a complete lack of leads, calls in FBI agent Leia Bines, an expert in cases involving children.

Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Gram, a psychiatrist at Newbury s hospital, searches desperately for the cause of seven-year-old Naya Hastings devastating nightmares. Afraid that she might hurt herself in the midst of a torturous episode, Naya s parents have turned to the bright young doctor as their only hope.

The situations confronting Leia and Peter converge when Naya begins drawing chilling images of murder after being bombarded by the disturbing images in her dreams. Amazingly, her sketches are the only clues to the crime that has panicked Newbury residents. Against her better judgment, Leia explores the clues in Naya s crude drawings, only to set off an alarming chain of events.
In this stunning psychological thriller, innocence gives way to evil, and trust lies forgotten in a web of deceit, fear, and murder.
At 3:01am on January 13, 2008, Douglas Quinn said…
Douglas Quinn
Author, Editor, Book Reviewer

12 January 2008

Dear Family/Fans/Friends/Readers

Please join me in the first week of my Virtual Book Tour. Beginning tomorrow, Sunday, January 13th, writer Brenda Kay Wynn will publish an interview with Douglas Quinn on her webblog site at (click on the following or cut and paste into your browser)

You are invited to go to Brenda’s site, read the interview and comment and/or ask questions. I am looking forward to responding to your comments and queries.

The interview will be posted throughout the four week tour. Weeks two, three and four will have different articles hosted by and posted at other webblog sites. Would love to interact with you along the way.

In addition, each time during the four week tour you leave a comment and/or ask a question your name will be placed into a drawing for a Free Signed Copy of Blue Heron Marsh.. Hope to see you all there.

Douglas Quinn

P.S. Please feel free to forward this invitation to your own email address list. The more people who participate, the happier I will be.
At 3:39am on December 5, 2007, Brian L Porter said…
Any friend of Sherlock Holmes is a friend of mine. I grew up with the works of Conan doyle and have read and re-read them so often I feel as if i know every character persoanlly.

At 11:29pm on November 29, 2007, Allan E. Ansorge said…
Saw your comment on Austin's line. Judgeing by your reading you should enjoy Nancy Pickard's Virgin Of East Plains. It has more twist and turns than Christy and Doyle put together. It starts kind of grim but the book is great.
At 10:47am on November 17, 2007, Mark Stevens said…
Thanks for the request!
At 2:36am on November 15, 2007, Sue Dawson said…
I am a bit long of tooth but still young of heart. :-) I have two children and four grandchildren...was recently widowed after 35 years of marriage (Well, Thanksgiving Day would have been our 35th as hubby died in April).
Single mom, huh? Been there, did that. Jolly took us all on in November, 1972, when my kids were just toddlers.
All out of the nest now and in other states. Now I have time to READ and maybe do some writing. I taught high school English for over 15 years and worked in public libraries for longer than that. This site looks informative and fun.
At 2:32pm on October 24, 2007, Eric Stone said…
Whoops, I hit an H by mistake. I haven't changed how I spell my name.
At 2:31pm on October 24, 2007, Eric Stone said…
Billowing smoke is certainly not what you want from a car - well, unless it's some sort of carnival funny car I guess. So, you are forgiven. It went okay, a few people showed up, I had some fun, sold some books, showed some pictures and played some music from Cambodia, and then off I went to Iowa City, Minneapolis and tonight Madison, WI. A lot of driving, only the occasional smidgeon of glamor. Still, having fun. Hope all's good with you.
At 8:25am on October 24, 2007, Lyn LeJeune said…
Hi Cyndi and Greetings: Just to let you know that my New Orleans noir mystery, The
Beatitudes, has received 5 starred reviews! I am donating all royalties to the New Orleans Public Library Foundation to help rebuild the public libraries. I have posted Chapter I on my blog Please read and if you like it, help rebuild a library for NOLA. Thank you Lyn LeJeune
At 11:02am on October 17, 2007, ITW Debut Authors - First Kill said…
Hey Cyndi--I've posted a slide show of Alaskan photos on my blog at MySpace. You can access it via my website at and hit the blog button or you can go to We had wonderful weather and the photos turned out really nice.

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