A Very Merry Christmas 2018 Recap

(Photo from here.)
I love the holiday season. My favorite part of the holidays is definitely the lead up to Christmas because that's when everyone seems to be in a better mood. There's decorating, yummy dinners, holiday treats, spending time with family and friends, exchanging Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree, and just general activities that really set up the holiday cheer. Today I wanted to share a little bit of what we've been up to the last few weeks.

A Christmas How-To: Finishing a Cross-Stitch Stocking

I am so excited to share this that I am interrupting my very belated and very drawn-out recap of Italy to bring you a little Christmas-inspired "How To" for the inquiring mind.
Based on recent experience, I realized that there is little no instruction or YouTube video about how to finish a cross-stitch stocking.
Backing and framing your finished cross-stitch project? Sure.
Whole lessons on how to do various types of stitches? You bet.
How to turn your stocking from aida to actual stocking? Nope.

I realize this a very niche topic and most people will absolutely not care in the slightest BUT for you lucky person out there that found this post after squiring the internet and finding a blasphemous lack of clear instruction for stocking stitchery, this is for you! To be fair, this post is also 100% selfish as I plan to use it for future reference if I ever make another stocking. If it's on the blog I can't lose it!

So here is how you do it.

Travel Day - Naples to Venice + Pompeii Purple Swatch

Ahhh, lord these delays are killing me. Well, let's pick up where we left off, shall we? The next day in our Italian anniversary trip was a travel day (read: a realllllly long train ride between Naples and Venice) so I don't really have that many worthwhile photos for this particular day to share. Notwithstanding this lack of blogworthy photos, I figure since last post was about Pompeii that now would be as good a time as any for some swatch photos of OPI Pompeii Purple....which is distinctly more pink than purple as it turns out....all while sprinkling in some travel day photos.

Plenty of Pompeii + Climbing Vesuvius

Our second day in Naples was filled with a trip to visit what was one of the most astonishing places I have ever been. Pompeii was no doubt a sight to behold in its heyday and continues to be even despite the very palpable history and sense of catastrophe that was with us as we explored the massive town. Walking into Pompeii it was clear that the town was so much more than rubble and overgrown grass we could see--it was a whole new world.

Signed, sealed, delivered....VOTED TODAY

For my American visitors, did you vote today?? 
As you may/should know, it's time for the midterm elections! I'll admit I'm not super political so it won't be shocking that there's not much no political debate here on the blog. I definitely don't want to change that but I will say that yes, I voted! And I even did a festive nail design afterwards. I was inspired by my presidential election nails from 2010 and wanted to try another election nail design. 

I hope you voted!

Travel Day: Rome to Naples

Okay, let's get back to recapping our adventure in Italy from September shall we? I went for margaritas with my sister yesterday and she reminded me how I sort of left it hanging after posting about our day at Vatican City. So here I am continuing on with a little bit more of our trip! Our next day was a travel day to re-position ourselves from Rome to Naples. But we started the day in Rome with time to kill before our afternoon train and we wanted to cram in some additional touristy things.

101 in 1001 Days...Part Two!

I seriously cannot believe that I'm starting my second 101 in 1001 List right now. I love making lists and I am so excited to restart on a whole new set!  I will always be grateful to Mackenzie Horan for creating the concept and sharing on the internet to inspire others.

So things didn't go as planned with my first list--I only completed 46 items--so obviously one of goals on my new list is to beat that total. Read on to see what new goals are on my new list! This is 101 Things in 1001 Days....part two!

One Day at The Vatican (PART TWO): Sistine Chapel + St. Peter's Basilica + St. Peter's Dome

Ok, so let's finish out our "Day in the Vatican" with Part Two. Part One got so long and photo heavy I thought it was better to break it in two. 
So picking up where we left off: walking into Sistine Chapel! 

101 in 1001 Completion and Recap

How have I been so remiss as to not post about my 101 in 1001 progress?! 


You guys might remember how a loooooong time ago I created a list of 101 things I wanted to do over the next 1001 days. I found the idea over on Pink Champagne Problems (which is now The Champagne Edit by Dana) and she got the idea from Mackenzie Horan on Design Darling. I think Mackenzie is the originator and she is on her third list now.

Anyway, 1001 days ended...on September 16, 2018. Lol. So ignore the fact that it has taken me OVER A MONTH to actually post about how I did. How did I do you're wondering??

One Day in Vatican City (PART ONE): Vatican Gardens + Necropolis Via Triumphalis + Vatican Museums

Our third day in Italy was spent touring the Vatican, the smallest city-state in the world, and taking wayyy too many photographs. My favorite highlight had to be the the Sistine Chapel. No surprise. It also felt like a pilgrimage many years in the making--I went to Catholic grade school for 9 or so years. I can't wait to share everything we did on this very long day.

Christina Aguilera's Liberation Concert

To be honest, I am a HUGE fan of 1999-2010 Christina Aguilera. Turn on Dirrty or Genie in a Bottle and I am immediately transported back to my pre-teen/teenager days singing and dancing along with my girl, X-tina. Her newest albums were just okay but when I heard she was going on tour first the first time in a decade I knew I had to be there. She was stopping for a show not too far from my home so I called up my sister and asked if she would join me on my trek down memory lane.

The concert was at the Mark G. Etess Arena in the new Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
I didn't get too many good shots because I have no idea how to counteract the intense tour lights but here are some:
Her concert gave me some Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift vibes. And here costumes were crazy! We had so much fun. And here are a  few videos:

We ended the night with some gelato from inside the casino. Not going to lie, it was nice having gelato and it was so tasty. Maybe not as good as the gelato we had in Italy but it was a good solid second.
It such a nice way to kick back after a stressful week. Can't wait for the next concert!

Visiting Historic Rome - Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill + Pantheon

On our second day in Rome we explored its most ancient bits, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Pantheon. 

How to Use Your Cell Phone in Italy - You can. And it's EASY!

A working cell phone while traveling is pretty much indispensable. To me, it's like comfortable shoes or clean underwear. And while you can try to get by updating your Instagram by using the many places you can get free WiFi (I did that on my honeymoon), having a working cell phone eliminates a lot of stress by enabling you to make calls, use google maps, communicate, update your Instagram, and just feel like you are still connected to the world even though you may be a world away from home.

Suspended Google+ Account?? What do I do?

Hi everyone,

I was notified today when I went to sign into my blog here that my Google+ account has been suspended for violation of Google policies because it appeared my account is a spammer? Unless I have been hacked I have no clue how my account could be a "spammer" because I never even post to Google+.

I have not violated any Google policies (that I know of) and am super confused. Until I get it resolved I have to use a "limited blogger profile" and I don't know what that means.

Anyone with Google+ experience or experience with your Google+ account being suspended can you please email me or comment with what the heck I should do??

Thank you!

UPDATE: Account reinstated. PHEW! That was bizarre. Now we can return back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Italy Tour 2018 - Rome Day One

Let's get this Italy visit recap party started. This morning I woke up at 6 am so it seems the jet lag is wearing off and I'm coming back to American time. 6 am is much better than 4 am for sure! So where do we begin? Rome!

Swatch: OPI Italian Love Affair

I'm up at 4:30 AM this morning because apparently I am still on Italy time but that is perfectly fine because it gave me the opportunity to post a swatch here on the blog! This is possibly the most animated pink I have ever used and the name is so perfect to kick off a stream of posts about all things Italy.

Throwing Hatchets: A New Pastime

In an effort to prepare for the impending Zombie Apocalypse a group of friends and I all went hatchet throwing. Just kidding. We weren't preparing for an apocalypse but we were having a nice night out and trying something new that ended up being a ton of fun. It all started with my buddies coming over for a raclette feast and to see our new house (which they liked a lot!) and then we moved on to hatchet throwing.

Nail Haul: OPI + Orly Breathable

It's been such a long time since I posted a proper haul post on here but while everyone is going crazy about the Nordstrom Anniversary sale I have been going on a serious nail polish binge on Amazon and Ulta. Say hello to these 15 new nail polishes that just joined my collection:

Food + Fitness

Things are looking a little different around here, right? How do you like the makeover? For my first post under the new theme let's have a recap of last week.

I was really excited about Monday's run. Last week I broke my 10 minute pace and I was thrilled to keep it up on the 2 mile run on Monday. I also completed a 15 minute Tone It Up yoga routine to try to stretch out my leg. I noticed my right calf was a tad painful and I didn't want it to get worse.

Nails of the Day: Taylor Swift Reputation edition

One last post about Taylor Swift and then I promise I will stop. Yesterday I recapped the fun my siblings and I had when we attended TS’s Reputation Stadium Tour over the weekend. Today’s post is nails of the day inspired by nothing other than Taylor Swift’s Reputation album:

Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour

My sister and I saw Lady Gaga in 2010 and we both thought she put on a fantastic show. But Taylor Swift? I don’t even know where to begin this post. It was an absolute spectacle, featuring a mash up of songs, banter, fireworks, lights, props, amazing costumes, etc. From the moment the lights went off and Joan Jett's Bad Reputation started to the time she...ahhh I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

This Past Weekend: Taylor Swift + Bowling + Mom's Birthday

This past weekend went by wayyy too fast and I wish I could go back and do it again! On saturday my sister, brother, and I went to the Taylor Swift concert and I was completely blown away by the show. Seriously, I contemplated buying tickets for her concert this coming Saturday just show I can see it again it was that good. But I'll do a whole post about the concert show I won't bore you with it here.
Unfortunately, my selfie game was not very strong in this photo. The three of us are fine and at least I got the "Taylor Swift" and "Stadium Tour" on the sign. But lol at "utation" since I cut off the word reputation.

After that we celebrated my mom's birthday with some bowling and of course cake! My group consisted of my siblings and my husband and we all broke 100 in one of the games. I love bowling but I don't do it very often. It's a lot of fun and I like to see if I can break 130. Luckily, in all but one game I did!
Then it was back to work for the week. I can't wait to post about the Taylor Swift concert. I'm so excited!

Did you do anything special this weekend? 

This Past Weekend: Birthday Celebration, Dim Sum, Ice Cream + Chinese Lanterns

This past weekend was spent celebrating my neice's 4th birthday, swinging by Chinatown in Philadelphia for the Chinese Lantern Festival, and enjoying some ice cream in Old City. But first, here's a photo of our Fourth of July flag set up. No one in my neighborhood really decorated and I don't have a clue what I'm doing on the decorating front yet (we just moved into this house in the spring) so I kept it super simple: American flags. We hung a house flag on our house pole (I don't have any other flags right now) and then lined our landscaped beds with mini flags. 
Ignore the garden house. I'm struggling with my black thumb on those two potted plants on the stoop. It's killing me that I can't keep ANY plants alive. Literally none.

Saturday morning started with a quick one mile run around the neighborhood. I was faster than my usual 14 minutes (wahoo!) but it is still a lot slower than I had hoped for. I seem to remember running a 10 minute mile without a problem so I'd like to get back to that place again. I'm working on it. 
I also completed the Tone It Up workout of the day. I just got their app and I'm low key obsessed with it. They make it fun even when I'm just bopping around in my family room by myself. Plus that final congratulations screen makes me feel very accomplished. #ididit!

After that I showered and get ready to head to my niece's birthday party. They don't live nearby and it's rare we see them so we try not to miss her birthday every year. She turned four this year and we were told she is super into games right now. We decided to get her a few board games from our childhood favorites. Yes, Candyland had to be included but we also got Let's Go Fishing and Don't Break the Ice. Do you remember those games? It was a walk down memory lane as we choose and I never realized how many games are out there. I saw a few adult games I want to play. My sister-in-law also had another daughter in April who we had not yet met so we also brought a little gift for the baby. You can't go wrong with a "little sister" onesie and a gift card, am I right? Unfortunately I don't have an "after" photo of the presents where they're all pretty and wrapped...weird.

After the birthday party we headed straight into the city for an early dim sum dinner, dessert, and a night of Chinese lanterns. We went to Dim Sum Garden in Chinatown which has the most delicious and apparently most authentic Shanghai style dim sum around. I don't know how authentic it is but it sure is tasty! I love dim sum for the same reason I love tapas--you can eat a lot of little things and stop when you're full. We order a lot and split it. Last year my brother was with us and we ordered wayy too much. I'd like to think we cut back a little this year.
We ordered the pork soup dumplings (amazing!), chicken on a stick (soooo delectable), and pan-friend beef potato cakes. Husband also got fresh pork moon cakes. This is legitimately one of my favorite meals. It's that good. Plus I don't have it very often since I'm not in Philadelphia very often. 

After dinner we headed to another place I don't get to very often: The Franklin Fountain. It's an old-timey dessert shop in Old City (the historic area) that serves up some of the finest desserts around. Despite being full of yummy dim sum I still ordered the classic Hot Fudge Sundae. I don't know what it is about their hot fudge that makes it so delicious but I just couldn't help myself. And they serve it in the cutest little to-go boxes ever. Don't let this photo fool you the portion was extremely oversized and I didn't finish it all. Of course I ate all the fudge, whipped cream, and cherry though!
After dessert we walked to the Chinese Lantern Festival. The festival comes to the city every year and this is the second year we decided to go. It has a mix of lanterns, vendors, and performers. This year they had plate spinning, table juggling, and Chinese mark changing (google it--it's crazy!). The festival is pretty in the daylight but really comes to life once it gets dark.
And these are a few of my favorites from this year:
They're just so vivid and pretty! I really like when we head into the city for a date night. We don't do it too often but it's always fun when we do! Have you ever been to a Chinese Lantern Festival? Do you do little outings like this?

Fourth of July NOTD + Moving a Piano?

I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July this past Wednesday. Mine was...eventful.Let me tell you why. The plan was the usual: drive to my parents' house, walk to the town's parade (meeting my sister and brother-in-law along the way), have snacks and such at the parade, then return to parents' house to go shopping for barbecue, then BBQ it up, then walk to the fireworks, and then go home.

I like the Fourth of July. It's not my favorite holiday but anything that gives me an excuse to play my Fourth of July playlist and dress in super festive red, white and blue is okay with me. Plus, you get to set fire to things on the Fourth of July (sparklers, roman candles, fireworks, etc) so it's all good. Here are my festive Fourth of July nails:
And a hint of my festive accessories for the day. 
Not pictured: red shorts, flag shirt, and flag dangly earrings. Lol. My favorite part of the outfit had to be those sneakers though. I bought them randomly at Old Navy a few months ago for only $8! Can you say steal?? I love Old Navy.

So what was the eventful part you ask? Well, somewhere between the parade route and returning to my parents' house (1.5 miles by the way), my mom found an estate sale. (1) They were selling a player piano. (2) My mom had to have it. So...enter my dad and his trusty companion, his truck. 
Yep, onward and upward it went (not without a few choice words from all involved) and then down it came (not with the same grace it had when it was being loaded). We finally got it into the house and it is now a proud new resident of my mom's dining room. It won't stay there but they have to figure out what they are going to do with the upright piano that is currently already in the living room. It's kind of cool this piano...it plays by itself!

After the piano workout (pushing a 600 pound beast is not an easy feat, even with two strong men--I'll let you determine if I'm counting my dad, my younger brother, or my husband as the strong men, lol) we went to the store and started the barbecue. Mmmmm, hotdogs, hamburgers, ribs, potato salad, pasta salad. You can't beat it!

Then we walked to fireworks (that same 1.5 mile walk as before) and I got my yearly snow cone. 
This year I went with watermelon because I was sharing with my husband and he's not a fan of grape or lime.

Well, that's about it. I might be a bit sore from the piano moving but my belly was full of delicious eats so I count the day as a success! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth of July! What are your top three favorite things about the Fourth of July? 

Weekly Recap: Food + Fitness

My week was essentially this: wake up, drive, do lawyer-y things, drive home, run, eat dinner, fall asleep on couch while watching Suits, wake up to shower, go to bed. Repeat four times. Today I finally had an office day and was able to catch up emails, motions, and other documents that probably should have been done earlier in the week. Oh well. I also finally settled a case that I have been trying to settle for...5 weeks? Okay. 

Anyway, here is my weekly recap of some food and fitness.

Last Saturday was a bit of a binge for my husband and I. We woke up and had some delicious lemon and cheese pastries--I had lemon, he had cheese--from our favorite local bakery.  These things are massive and delicious to the last morsel. That glaze on top? Mmmm. We skipped lunch because one of us (not me) ate two pastries for breakfast. But for dinner we were in the mood for raclette so we broke out the raclette grill, boiled some potatoes, picked up some meats, and began melting cheese.
Is there anything better than melted cheese? Also, yes, sometimes we use our finest chinaware AKA paper plates. Don't judge me. Who enjoys doing dishes?!

Sunday was spent working on the miniature dollhouse with my mom. Afterward my dad surprised us with a delicious steak dinner. He really went above and beyond. I enjoyed every bite and it was fun to have dinner with my family. We ended the night with some ice cream from my favorite ice cream shop (which I stop at almost every time I visit my parents). 

Monday was the beginning of this loooong work week. I decided I need some extra oomph to get going and I made a slice of whole grain toast topped with smoked salmon and avocado. I'm such a millennial, right? I kid you not, I had this breakfast three times this week.  
Lunches throughout the week were the ReadyPac Bistro salads I blogged about last time. I am obsessed with these salads but you can check out that post for more info.

I'm super proud of my workouts this week because I was pretty consistent. I went for a run three times during the week and did some other workouts on the other days. I know that might not sound like very much but for me it's a big deal and is very consistent. I've been using MapMyRun to keep track of my runs/walks because I think it will be nice to be able to look back at prior runs and see if I improved with time/distance. Right now I try to stick with 2-3 miles and a mix of running and walking. Unfortunately, it's supposed to be super hot out this coming week so I'm not sure I'll be able to get my runs in but I'll try my best. 

Yep, that says my average pace is 14:04...I'm super slow. But I'm faster than I would be if I stayed sitting on my couch! I want to work up to running the full three miles and then try to bump it up to five miles. Not sure what I'll do after that but for now those are my goals. I learned that running outside is SO MUCH harder than running on the treadmill. 

For my other workouts I incorporated some jump rope (yes I bought a jump rope off Amazon for $6) and Tone It Up. I recently got their app on my phone and I have been having fun following the daily workouts. I did the I'm With the Band workout (which incorporated training bands and was a totally glute killer) and I really like the check mark screen that comes up after you complete the workout. It's immediate gratification for completing your workout! And yes, I put it on my instagram stories. On Thursday I tried to complete a jump rope workout I found on youtube. I was SWEATING hard core and it was so gross.  But it was satisfying at the end so...all was good!  

Now back to food. I also made a super easy shortcut flatbread margherita pizza. It was so cheesy and tasty and it allowed me to use some of my basil from my herb garden.
I also made mushroom and green bean risotto this week because I was craving something creamy. It was super tasty and shockingly low calorie for the creamy deliciousness it was.
On to the weekend! How was your week?

Long Week + My New Favorite Go To Lunch

Oh man I am so glad this week is almost over. Late clients, long deps, far drives (with monstrous traffic delays), and enough paperwork to bury me alive. But c'est la vie and we almost made it through to the weekend! On top of all the "real work" stuff this week, Husband was away traveling for work so it was just me, myself, and I at home all by my lonesome. I may have slept with the master bedroom door shut and locked, don't judge me.

While I was by myself this week I was able to really focus on working out and using my MyFitnessPal app to keep track of my food. Not so much to track my calorie intake but more so to become more conscious of how much I eat. Those handfuls of goldfish after work add up, you know?! I also use to try and force myself to be better at meal prepping because I love when I can look at my app and know exactly what to pack for the day. It gets a little difficult on the days I'm out of the office but I have discovered my new savior in that department, which brings me to part TWO of this post!

I have discovered my new favorite Go To Lunch. Are you familiar with ReadyPac Bistro salads? 
They are pre-packaged salads that are perfect to grab and go. They even come with their own fork so you literally do not have to remember  ANYTHING. I have brought mine to the office, thrown it in my purse to eat during lunch at a long deposition (just don't think about the whole should-be-refrigerated thing), and I have also endeavored to eat one while driving back from court. I was mostly successful with the exception of one bite that landed right on my black dress, lol.  At least I know the salads don't stain!
They have a salad for every taste ranging from the traditional chicken caesar to a yummy turkey and bacon cobb to a unique "kickin' BBQ" salad. The best part? If you are watching what you eat, the salads are all under 300 calories. There is even a caesar lite salad which is only 180. Insane. And they are so delicious and filling without leaving you with that "I'm stuffed and just want a nap" feeling.  

I even had a delicious arugula, mozzarella, and tomato salad as a lazy side to my flatbread margherita pizza last night. I'm telling you, these salads are perfect.
The brand has a lot more selection too if you're not a salad person. I haven't tried anything else yet but they also make Ready Snax  like caramel+apples, hummus+carrots, fruit+cheddar+flatbread, and Wrap kits like southwest-style ranch, bacon and garlic caesar, and thai-style peanut. Yum! 

Have I made you sufficiently hungry?

Professional Blog Designs by pipdig