Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Arts & Crafts

So this weekend was spent recuperating from the aforementioned never ending week.  Since J unfortunately had to work the whole weekend I thought I'd get some chores done.  Finishing the laundry was the furthest I got before boredom completely took over.

Image from
J and I have been trying to save money grocery shopping, so we shop the circular, only buying certain things when they are on sale (i.e. Chobani yogurt, certain fruits, etc).  I grabbed our stack of shops' circulars and looked for the Shoprite one to start circling what we should get for the week, only to come across one for A.C. Moore first.  Like I talked about in my last post, the Wall Art Project from the New Domestic is a project I'd like to complete, but I was waiting until my next paycheck to purchase supplies.  Well, the supplies were on sale at A.C.Moore and canvases were half off so I decided to go ahead and get started on this project.

I may have gone overboard with the supplies I purchased (from Michaels as well), but I spent the rest of the weekend happily crafting and having a nice relaxing weekend.  I can't tell you how ecstatic I am with the results.  The two pieces of wall art I ultimately ended up making cost me under $30 and I used the remaining paint to create a couple other items for the apartment which were about $3-7 to make each.  Not too bad!

Later in the week I'll post a How-To on creating the wall art and containers that I made over the weekend.  Right now I've got to get some things done that I put off all weekend and then head to work!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Never Ending Week (Overnight Oats)

Do you ever have a week where you feel like the entire week you’re playing catch up?   That’s how it has been for me this entire week.  Catching up on sleep, a sizable to do list and other things that need to be accomplished. 

I order to get everything done this week I’ve been trying to make things easier on myself by planning ahead of time for most of my meals.  When we got home from California on Sunday I made my snacks for work, an entire week’s worth so I can just grab and go in the morning.

I’ve also been making sure to have a good, filling meal for breakfast each morning.  Since my Sunflower butter container was almost empty I tried a new breakfast I read about on Kath Eats, overnight oats.  I put ½ a container of plain Chobani Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1/3 cup rolled oats (uncooked), and 1/3 cup almond milk into my sunflower butter (it is just like peanut butter) container and stirred it up before putting it in the fridge overnight.  The next morning breakfast was ready for me and I dug right on in.

Verdict:  I probably should’ve put more milk in because the consistency of mine was a little too thick for my taste.  I would also use a flavored Chobani, the only reason I did not is because the only ones I have left are lemon and pineapple and both sound disgusting with sunflower butter.  Next time I’ll probably use strawberry banana or honey.  I didn’t mind the addition of the chia seeds, they don’t really taste like much, but they contain a lot of good things for your body such as omega-3s.  I calculated the amount of calories for the version I made which was roughly 320, which is pretty close to a perfect morning serving for me.  Also, this breakfast meal is FILLING, a key for me because I eat a roughly 6:25am and don’t eat anything again until 10:30am (when I get my break at work).  I was actually full enough that I considered waiting to eat my mid-morning snack until later in the day.

I would definitely make this again, but I also found many other recipes for overnight oats that I would like to try:

Hope your week has been better than mine! I’m looking forward for a girl’s night tonight and giving the girls their gifts from Italy!

P.s. Can you tell I've been using my camera recently? The quality of the pictures isn't that great.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

No More Bedsheets as Curtains

So now that J and I are finished traveling until at least April we have time to work on making the apartment look nice and work on projects we’ve decided sound like fun.  When we got back from Italy we finally received the remaining part of our couch (we had 2 out of 3 pieces), only it was not delivered on the day we were promised, instead a whole week later.  Our experience with the store and staff in which we bought our couch from was frustrating and if we weren’t both in love with the couch we would seriously consider returning it.
I forgot to put away the iron before taking this!
On a positive note, having our couch finally has allowed us to determine what color scheme we want the room to be.  We won’t be painting the walls of our apartment because it is a hassle since we don’t know what will happen in the next year and whether we will renew our lease or not (if I get a teaching position in another area we would consider moving).  I wanted something that would make the room pop! against  the plain off-white walls.  Originally I wanted to go for a chocolate brown, cream, and coral color scheme, but it has proven really difficult to find d├ęcor that not only contains these colors but also has a pattern I like. 

I used the Sherwin-Williams Color visualizer to create this mock room, pretty cool tool!
Frustrated I gave up that search and decided that a better route to go was chocolate brown, tan/cream, and red.  We already have placemats that are those colors that I like and finding curtains to go with the room was so ridiculously easy.  The curtains still need a little work as they are too long for the window, but I’m working on hemming them.

The tabs on the ends of the curtain rod are actually for daytime use, when you can pull the curtains together and tie them with the pieces of fabric.

Currently I’m in the search for additional pillows for our couch.  I thought about making them myself and who knows, maybe I will still make one or two, but for the time being I found some at Target I may purchase.

Also, I found this idea for wall art on pinterest.  J agreed to help me try to make one for our living room/dining room.  When I get my next paycheck the supplies for this project will be the first thing I purchase.

We also ordered pictures from our trip.  I ordered seven 12x18 poster prints from Snapfish (I had a great coupon) so we could play around with six of them and the seventh is going in a different spot.  I taped them all to the wall temporarily so we could see which ones we liked best (I haven’t purchased frames yet), but now I kind of like the idea of all six images on the wall.  What do you think?  Too much?

Now that I finally know the color scheme, but I have no money to spend I feel like I'm constantly seeing things I'd love to try out in the apartment.  It may be a while before the entire room is finished, but I'll be sure to share our improvements with you along the way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Italy Part IV: Rome

Here is the last Italy post.  Like the last one, this post is pretty long, but I hope you enjoy!

After our crazy New Year’s Eve experience J and I slept in, but still got up early enough that we could enjoy the hotel’s continental breakfast.  We made our game plan for the day and kept in mind that there would be places closed for the holiday.  Unfortunately it was overcast this day, but at least it wasn’t raining.

We headed out and passed the Colosseum, stopping to have our picture taken.  It was the first time that we asked someone to take our picture the whole trip.  We continued on our way towards the S. Giovanni in Laterno church.  First, however, we stopped to take a look at the S. Clemente church.  This church is known for its catacombs, but we didn’t get to go through them while we were there.

S. Giovanni Laterno is a beautiful church.  Outside is giant column that Napoleon took from Egypt that is covered in hieroglyphics.  When we went inside mass was actually taking place so we made sure to be quiet and not walk across where people were sitting (there were many people still walking around the church like us). The ceiling was immaculate and the doors were gigantic!  The sculpture in this church is also amazing.

Look how big this door is!

We left and headed in the direction of Circo Massimo.  To the left we saw the Baths of Caracalla.  We could’ve walked through, but decided that it would take too long and we still had so much we wanted to do. When we reached Circo Massimo we found that parts of it were gated off, but we could read the informational boards through the fence.  Definitely an impressive arena.  We learned that it is the largest entertainment center in the world.

To our right we could see Palatine Hill, but also decided not to make the trek to go through it because we were headed in the opposite direction.  The two of us started to get hungry so we set off in search of something quick and easy to eat.  We walked along the Tiver River.  Where we were you could see both the Palatine Bridge and the Fabriano Bridge.  We decided not to cross over the bridge and instead headed back towards the Pantheon.

We came upon the Piazza Nuvonna and found a great little pizzeria where the slices were charged by weight.  We gobbled it down outside the pizzeria before heading next door to get some gelato.  J got caramel cream and I got Bacio (an Italian candy)…mm I miss gelato!  We then headed to the Pantheon only to find out that it was closed for the day.

Silly balloon ruined a great picture

Off we headed back towards the Tiver River, crossing the Ponte Umberto.  At the far end of this bridge we saw the Palazzo Giustizia, which is a gigantic palace and we were both interested in walking through, but unfortunately it was closed for the holiday.

Along the river the number vendors trying to sell fake designer purses and touristy things was plentiful.  It really reminded me of NYC and Canal Street!  We headed towards Vatican City, first coming across the Castell S. Angelo, which is an old castle that is round and looks absolutely ancient.   We found out that there are actually tunnels that go from this castle to St. Peter’s Basilica underground that were used many years ago.

We walked up to St. Peter’s square and took in the Basilica.  We didn’t go in because we knew we’d be going through it and the Vatican museum on our tour the next morning.  The outside is absolutely magnificent despite the many parts that were covered up due to construction and restoration. 

At this point we were starting to lose light so we headed back towards the hotel, but not in any hurry.  We walked across the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele and came across a few churches that were still open for the day.  First we went into the Chiesa Nuova, which was really pretty, but definitely not either of our favorites.

We passed the Pantheon for what felt like the fifth time that day, but went around the back this time and found a church call the Sopra Minerva.  This was J’s favorite, the ceilings were an awesome bright blue and because it was dark outside, it gave the effect of being a night sky.  The frescos on the ceiling were even dotted as if they were stars.  This church was way different than most of the churches we saw because here there was a strong use of color as decoration, whereas in other churches it was a lot of sculpture and gold leaf decoration.

Chiesa Gesu is a perfect example of a highly ornate church.  So much gold leaf and sculpture its almost outrageous.  What was really cool about this church though was that they put a mirror below one of their most impressive frescos and tilted so you could look into the mirror and see what the ceiling looked like without craning your neck.  Also, this church had the most modern light fixtures that we’d seen in a church.  Most had some sort of modern lighting so you could see the artwork better, but this one was almost blinding with how bright it was.

We headed back towards the hotel and stopped at a small grocery store to pick up some goodies for later.  We saw a restaurant near our hotel that wasn’t busy and decided it would be a good place for dinner.  It was pretty good and relatively cheap so Jeremy got two plates and we had Tiramisu and espresso.  The espresso was delicious, not as thick as people had described it to me as being.  We also decided that since we had walked so much, that we deserved double dessert so we wandered down to a gelateria before heading back to the hotel and passing out for the night.

We had gone to bed early because the bus picking us up for the Vatican tour at 7:00am.  We groggily got up and were lucky to get a quick breakfast at the hotel before the bus picked us up.  Man, when people tell you that Italians are crazy drivers, they are not kidding.  I was so tense the entire time the drive weaved in and out of the tiny roads.

We met our tour guide, who spoke five different languages!  She was fantastic and very knowledgeable.  Since you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel and there is supposed to be silence in the room as well, she told us all about the history of the chapel before we went in.  Afterwards she took us through the museum, although we only went through one floor, it took us three hours!  There is so much to see that it would be impossible to go through the entire museum in a day and be able to remember everything you saw.

The tour gave us the option of being taken back to the hotel or being dropped off on the other side of Vatican City to go to St. Peter’s Basilica.  We knew we wanted to go into the Basilica so we got off and headed straight there.  We had to wait in line because in order to enter Vatican City you need to go through metal detectors but it didn’t take too long.

St. Peter’s Basilica is breathtaking.  It is absolutely gigantic and I don’t think there is anything in there that you wouldn’t be amazed by.  The ceilings are full of amazing detail; the statues look like they are alive, and there is so much history to be learned.  This is where the Pieta is, a work done by Michelangelo when he was only 24.  Just amazing.

We decided to also go to the top dome of St. Peter’s even though it was taller than the Duomo(!!).  We actually were able to take an elevator half way up before we began the journey up the 200+ steps to the very top, so the experience was a lot less exhausting.  The view was incredible despite the overcast and slightly rainy day.

We decided to make the trek back towards the hotel by feet rather than taxi because even though we were tired we wanted to see what we could on our last day in Italy.  Once again we stopped by the same two spots that had been on the way back to our hotel each day (Piazza Navonna & the Pantheon). We made our way back to the Vittorio Emanuelle II Monument and took the newer (since 2007) elevator to the top for another incredible view!

We took a quick break at the hotel, mostly to drop some things off back at the room.  Then we walked around aimlessly (it was getting dark outside) just experiencing what we still could before we were both absolutely starving and had to stop for food.  Luckily for us, this last night was one of the best meals we had our entire trip, followed by a fantastic last dessert of gelato.

Well, that is it for our Italy trip.  Thank you for reliving it with me.  Such a great experience!  I hope many of you get to visit Italy in the future!