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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

We went to a little Halloween get together/birthday party for a friend on Saturday for a little bit. Being Woody and Jessie from Toy Story was a lot of fun!

My mom made Eric's vest and sent a bandanna and cap pistol she had on hand. We bought his boots online from a costume place for $30 and the hat and star are from Party City. He already had the shirt and the belt. My mom made my shirt (be amazed!) and sent me the already serged around cow pant parts and I just had to finish sewing the elastic around the back. I couldn't find a red hat that looked just like Jessie's so I spray painted a straw hat from walmart and added the ribbon. I already had brown boots and the belt.

It was really  nice that part of our costume was jeans! I can definitely see us using this costume again in the future.

Katie and Kyle came dressed as Kate and William! I think they really look the part... Kyle even had some fake teeth.

Here are the girls dressed up.

Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Italy Trip Tips

Day 12 - May 15th - Leaving Italy

Our bags were all packed for our departure. We had scheduled a van service at the suggestion of the person we rented the Rome apartment from. She was nice enough to set it up for us and it was a great price for the 4 of us to get from Trastevere to the airport. It was a bittersweet goodbye. Farewell Italy, hope to see you again one day! These smiles are happy and sad at the same time.

After planning a fabulous trip to Italy and spending 11 days there I wanted to sum up some helpful tips that come to mind.

If you want to read the details of each day visit the links below. There are more specific tips in those posts too.

Florence: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4
Venice: Day 5Day 6Day 7
Rome: Day 8Day 9, Day 10, Day 11

Spending 4 days in Florence, 3 days in Venice, and 4 days in Rome was a good allocation of days in those cities. I really liked that we did Venice in the middle because there was less to do there in between Florence and Rome where we did a lot.

Most importantly DO YOUR RESEARCH. Since we weren't part of an organized tour or anything, I did lots of reading about Italy and the places we were going.
I mainly used Rick Steves Italy 2011 book, Rick Steves, Ron in Rome

Use VRBO to stay in apartments and not have to stay in hotels and you get a kitchen and could get a washer. Read all the reviews closely and don't stay somewhere that doesn't have any reviews.

Take trains between cities. Use the mini discount described on Ron in Rome.

Learn this key phrase: Dov' e (Where is ...). You will definitely use it.

Get museum tickets ahead of time for Uffizi and Accademia in Florence.

Don't eat right near attractions, going a block or two off of main streets can make a big difference

Wear comfortable shoes, very comfortable shoes. A pair of tan Keds was an excellent choice for me and went with pants, capris, skirts, and dresses. I also had a brought a pair of black Clarks privos that velcroed on but the Keds were the best.

A cross the shoulder bag is a must. Megan got a Vera Bradley one and I needed one to fit my DSLR so my godmother was kind enough to make me one that was the perfect size for what I needed and in fun fabrics. Keith and Eric ordered messenger bags off zappos.

Pack lightly. Bring items that are versatile and things you can layer with. Stick to a certain color pallete and make sure everything either goes with black or with brown so you don't need shoes and purses for both. Mine was mainly pinks, purples, and blacks. If you stay in apartments you can wash out some items too.

Bring earplugs for the plane and you may want them if the place you stay has noise around it at night.

The first thing you should do when you get in to a city is to get a good map at the TI (tourist information booth/shop). Often they have these at the train station which is convenient.

Make sure to get some foods at the local markets.

Personally Florence was my favorite of the places we visited! I would love to see more of Italy one day like Cinque Terre and some of the coastal cities because I have heard those are beautiful.

Hope you have enjoyed our journey through Italy as much as we did! If you have any questions feel free to ask. Can't wait for our next adventure...

Linking up at these fun parties:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

4th of July fun in FL

So you know I am behind in posting when I am just now getting to our trip over 4th of July haha.

We made a long weekend out of the holiday to go visit my parents in FL. I had not been home for a 4th of July since I was a sophomore in college so it was long overdue.

Mom and I did a little sewing here and there and planned out my niece Abby's Clemson dress which you will see many pictures of soon enough. We went to the Rays game to see them play the Cardinals. I love the way you can bring in food and unopened water and not have to spend a fortune on food there. We packed an entire dinner of sandwiches, chips, popcorn, edamame, nuts, and cookies. Eric and my dad walked around before the game to see the actual rays in the tank.

 We learned the rules of Ray's cowbell etiquette. Everyone had a great time!

We went to see Cars 2 and out to eat at their favorite local italian place nearby. Mom and I did some thrifting and shopping too.

We had a 4th of July cookout at the house with Eric and my dad grilling.

Tons of yummy cookout foods! Go here for the potato salad recipe.

My childhood best friend Emily came

And my godmother Peggy was there too. These are 2 of my very favorite people :)

Dad has a huge collection of awesome fireworks that he set off in the driveway. Just like I remember from 4th of July's past, the neighbors all gathered to watch. They know he is serious about the fireworks show.

Mom taught me how to make her chocolate chip cheesecake at my request. I only wish I could have been around to eat the leftovers.

Good times had by all! Gosh I heart this girl!

Wonderful hosts for the long weekend!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tiger Paw Muffins

Tiger Paw Muffins

I'm sure many of you have seen those silicon muffin pans for different colleges. Fan Pans!

My sister got me two of them as a gift and they have been great for tailgates, viewing parties,etc. The first time using them we had to do a little experimenting to figure out how much to fill the muffin cups. I like to use the Martha White muffin mix pouches where you just add milk. The muffins taste great and they are a piece of cake to make. The new ones with whole grains are very good. I prefer the blueberry and the apple cinnamon.

We found that 1 pouch is enough for 4 silicon muffin cups. They make awesome looking Clemson Tiger Paws!

A perfect gift for die hard fans :)

Linking up at these fun parties:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Italy Trip Day 11

Count them all up: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6Day 7Day 8Day 9, Day 10

May 14 - Our last day in Rome (and Italy)

On our last day we woke up early and headed to the Trevi Fountain so we could get some pictures without people in them.

Of course we threw coins in. It is said that if you throw in a coin you will one day return to Rome!

Such an amazing structure and romantic location.

Next we were off to the nearby Spanish Steps.

We actually got someone to take a picture of all 4 of us... score!

There was a relentless flower selling man that didn't care if he had already asked several times so we didn't hang around there too long.

Then we took the metro to the 4 churches piazza. There wasn't too much to see there as they were setting up for some event and it was pretty crowded with people.

We travelled back toward the south and stopped by Monument to Vitorio Emanuel II, first king of Italy. There is a statue of him mounting a horse and there is a flame that is always kept burning. I wouldn't want to have that job.

Continuing on our sightseeing morning we walked to Campo de Fiori, a produce, food, and flower market where we purchased extra virgin olive oil to take home. We purposely waited until our last city to do this so we weren't transporting it more than necessary. They had many items like spices and spreads you could taste before purchasing.

By then it was after lunch time and we were starving. Time to take out the book and map to decide where to eat. About time for me to step in with my good sense of direction (thanks Dad for those genes) to navigate us there instead of the 2 lost boys haha.

We decided on Micellanea from the Rick Steves book which had sandwiches, salads, and such. It was not crowded at the time we were there and the food was great. There was different university memorabilia and flags on the walls.

Since we put the Rick Steves book on the table, we got free strawberry wine (as explained in the book). Unfortunately I couldn't have it due to the strawberry part but Megan sure enjoyed it!

We went back to the apartment for a bit since we had been out all day and needed to take our oil olive back anyway. Then what to do? Gelato of course! We took the bus to Gelarmony for the 2nd day in a row, you know the place with over 60 flavors so that was a favorite by all. This time most of us tried fruit flavored gelato. I had peach, mango and pineapple. The peach was the best. It was getting a little hot out at this point as you can tell from our pulled back hair.

That afternoon we decided to walk around the Borghese gardens area and do some relaxing and people watching. This was really nice and peaceful as we had not done a lot of sitting during our time in Rome. There were plenty of people walking around or laying in the sun, especially some love struck teens.

For dinner we went to El Presidente for dinner near the Trevi fountain. It was good standard Italian dishes but still probably my least favorite dinner in Rome. You tend to get pricer places and not quite as great food the closer you are to a touristy attraction too.

One last visit to the Trevi fountain after dinner even though it was now crowded. This has to be one of my favorite spots in Rome!

That concludes our wonderful trip to Italy!! Stay tuned for a post on Day 12- Leaving Italy and lots of Italy Trip Tips!
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