The Friday Five

Friday, February 26, 2016

One – Wildlife World Zoo

A couple weeks ago we celebrated my friend Michelle’s birthday at the zoo. Yes, we’re adults…I promise. Anyway, the weather was perfect and we had such a great day out there. That zoo is my favorite because you can feed the giraffes for only 50 cents! They also have a sky ride that takes you across the zoo and over some of the enclosures (kangaroos, camels, etc.) for only a few dollars. Oh, and it’s huge so we got plenty of steps in that day (my friend’s Fitbit said that we walked 5 miles).

Two – The Botanical Hand-Lettering Workbook

I was sent a copy of The Botanical Hand-Lettering Workbook for review a couple months ago. The book includes instructions and tips on not just lettering, but also drawing simple flowers and objects. I'm still a fan of handwritten notes and cards, plus I'm always looking for new ways to decorate the chalkboard in my living room, so this book was a fun way to try out new techniques. I like that there are plenty of practice pages in the book and simple illustrations to help guide your lettering and drawing. It even has templates in the back of the book to make paper cacti, cute banners, and other paper crafts.

Three – Hiking

The weather in Phoenix has been perfect lately so we’ve been trying to spend more time outside. A couple weeks ago we hiked “A” Mountain at sunset. It’s a small mountain near the ASU campus and it’s a pretty quick hike, but it’s pretty steep. There’s a great view of Tempe and the ASU campus at the top. It’s definitely worth it. Hopefully we can make it up a few more times before it gets too hot here! 

Four – Painting

My friend Michelle and I have been on a painting kick lately. We’ve been going to Paint Nite monthly and it’s so much fun. Last week we went to a different studio to do ‘Paint Your Pet’. You send them a picture of your pet and they trace it on the canvas for you ahead of time. Once you get there, you just paint it in. It was so fun and my painting of Abby actually turned out pretty good. Although I had a little trouble with the eyes…Anyway, we’re going back in April so I can paint Ringo!

Five – Carpool Karaoke

Have you guys seen any of the carpool karaoke clips from The Late Late Show with James Corden? I love them! The most recent segment was with Sia, but there are more videos featuring Adele, One Direction, Elton John, and many others. The videos are fun to watch because of the singing, but I really like when they are just talking. I love Sia’s story about why she covers her face and Chris Martin (from Coldplay) was surprisingly funny and charming. I’ve never really seen him in anything and always thought he’d be dud, but he actually seems really cool. If you haven’t seen any of the carpool karaoke clips, I definitely recommend checking them out! 

Travel Tuesday: Florence, Italy

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I’m back with part two of our Italy trip. If you missed part one, you can read the Venice recap here.

The second stop on our Italy trip was Florence. We arrived in the early afternoon and met our guide for a tour around the city. I just have to mention that our guide in Florence was the best guide of our trip. He was HILARIOUS and probably one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. I was crying laughing so hard at some of his comments. My mom and I still quote him and crack ourselves up. Anyway, our first stop was the famous Florence Cathedral, also known as the Duomo.

Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the exterior of the cathedral is covered in marble and it’s stunning. I can’t imagine the work that went into building it.

The inside of the cathedral is also impressive, but Brunelleschi's Dome is obviously the highlight. Can you imagine trying to paint this?! I complain about having to paint the ceilings in my house plain white.


From there we made our way to the Piazza della Signoria or as our guide called it “the square full of nude people” lol.

In the square, you can see what our guide called “Fake David” (the real statue is now at the Galleria dell'Accademia) and the statue of Hercules and Cacus.

From there we walked to Basilica di Santa Croce, burial site of some Italy’s most famous historical figures.

Outside the basilica is a statue of Dante. I read Inferno by Dan Brown not long before our trip, so I was pretty excited about visiting the city and everything Dante.

Inside the basilica are the tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli. There’s also a cenotaph for Dante, but our guide explained that Dante was exiled from Florence and spent his last years in Ravenna and is buried there.

After we finished at the basilica we stopped at a leather shop to do some shopping (I bought a purse) and checked out the San Lorenzo Market, which was right next to our hotel. We bought A LOT of cheap scarves, which ended up being perfect for a couple colder days of our trip.

The following day was a free day, so we made plans to visit the Vasari Corridor, Pitti Palace, and Galleria dell'Accademia to see the real David. I picked the Vasari Corridor because it’s featured in Inferno, but I don’t think it was worth the time. Maybe if you had more days in Florence, but we were only there for 2.5 days, so I don’t think it was worth the stop. Don’t get me wrong though, it was interesting, just not a must see.

Anyway, the entrance is in the Uffizi Gallery and you can only visit as part of a tour group. The corridor connects the Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti so the Medici family could move safely between their private residence and government office. Now it’s just mostly a gallery of self-portraits. We thought that guy looked like Ron Howard.

The corridor passes over the river, above Ponte Vecchio, so there are a couple great photo ops along the way.

Our tour ended at the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. Unfortunately, they closed the gardens due to the weather, which was a total bummer because we had already paid for our tickets as part of the Vasari Corridor tour. So we ended up just relaxing in the palace courtyard while we waited for the rain to stop.

Our last stop of the day was the Galleria dell'Accademia. When I was doing research for our trip it was recommended that you buy tickets online in advance…and I completely agree with that advice. There are two separate entry lines and the non-ticket line is a lot longer and moves a lot slower. The main attraction at the museum is obviously Michelangelo’s David. Created between 1501 and 1504, the marble statue is 14 feet tall and it’s seriously impressive.

The rest of the museum isn’t very large and there are some other interesting pieces so don’t just walk out after visiting David. I really liked this statue by Luigi Pampaloni…and not just because I was missing my doggies at home.

Our last day in Florence was also a free day, so we booked a day trip to Pisa. We did the morning tour with Ciao Florence and had a great experience. The meeting spot was easy to find, the ride was comfortable, the guide was great and we were given plenty of time to explore on our own. I would definitely recommend that tour if you don’t want to bother going on your own.

Anyway, the bus dropped us off a short distance from the Piazza dei Miracoli. Unfortunately, it was rainy so we were hassled by people selling umbrellas our entire walk to the gates. Luckily our first stop was at the Pisa Cathedral so we could escape the rain and wind for a bit. The inside of the cathedral was under construction, but there were still so many beautiful areas and pieces to look at.

From there we were on our own to explore the area, so of course we started with the Leaning Tower. Construction on the tower began in 1173, but after three of its eight stories had been completed, the weak subsoil and a poor foundation caused the building to start sinking on the south side. The tower continued to lean and sink each year reaching a 5.5 degree lean in 1990, which was estimated to be enough to cause the tower to tip. Luckily it didn’t and major renovations took place to stabilize the tower and it’s now estimated to be stable for another 200 years.

I just have to say that it’s harder than it looks to get a good picture trying to hold up the tower. There are just so many people around and in the way. This is the best shot we got out of MANY tries.

After that we took a few more pictures, had lunch, and then did some shopping before boarding the bus back to Florence. There’s really not much to do in the area besides the Leaning Tower, but we thought it was worth the trip out there.

I think that about sums up our time in Florence. Oh wait, I almost forgot to talk about the food. Of course everything was delicious, but the most notable by far was the Florentine steak. Our tour director told us it’s one of the city specialties and to order it if we like steak and are really hungry. Of course I had to try it. I wish I would have put my hand in the picture for scale, but trust me, that steak was HUGE!

The lady at the table next to us asked if she could have the bone for her dog, so it ended up being a great meal for me and for that lucky dog!
Florence is a beautiful city, full of so much history and art and we really enjoyed our time there (except for the crowds).

Next stop: Rome!


Pantry Reveal

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Good thing my New Year’s resolution wasn’t to blog more often! I would be failing if that was the case. I don’t have a good excuse for not blogging…I just wasn’t feeling it. Anyway, so I’m back today to finally share one of the projects that I worked on over Christmas Break – my pantry! When we last talked about my pantry I declared that “I just need to find and hang some hooks and maybe a cute print? My to-do list is short, so this should be finished soon!” Umm, that was April, so like 10 months? Whatever…it’s done now!

As a reminder, this is what it looked like after I finished cleaning it out last spring.

Since then I added the bird hooks for my mops and broom, the menu chalkboard, and framed art prints in the back. It’s just a pantry so I didn’t go too over the top, but I wanted to add a few fun touches to the space.


The iron bird hook is from Hobby Lobby, the chalkboard is from HomeGoods, the boxwood wreath is from D├ęcor Steals (came in a set of 3), and the framed prints are from Wal-Mart. I also found the perfect basket for holding plastic bags (Goodwill for $4.99). It was a dusty red color, but just a quick coat of white paint and it’s perfect! You can see it on the bottom left in the picture below.

And with that, the pantry is done! Now I just need to keep it organized!

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