Travel Tuesday: Vatican City

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I’ve already recapped our adventures in Rome (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here), so today I’m focusing on our day in Vatican City. Vatican City is a sovereign nation within Rome and is officially the smallest nation-state in the world (by area and population). It maintains its own banking systems, post office, newspaper, and television stations. Vatican City is governed as an absolute monarchy with the pope as the head of state.

We started out tour early because the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica can get VERY crowded later in the day. We went with our tour group so I don’t really have any tips for visiting on your own other than to get there early. Honestly, that’s my #1 tip for sightseeing anywhere. Go early!

We only got to see a small portion of the artwork and sculptures, but what we saw was amazing. The marble sculpture below is Laocoön and His Sons and is one of the most famous pieces in the museum. It was excavated in Rome in 1506 and tells the story of Trojan priest Laocoön and his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being attacked by sea serpents.

Even the ceilings are gorgeous. Look at all of that detail!

But none of those can compare to the Sistine Chapel. It’s breathtaking! Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 to paint the chapel ceiling. It took four years to complete and twenty years later he painted the Last Judgment over the altar.

No photographs are allowed inside the chapel. They strictly enforce that rule and kick out anyone caught taking photos. They also ask for silence while inside the chapel.

Our next stop was St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world and remains one of the holiest sites in Christianity. It stands on the site where Peter was crucified and buried.

The most recognizable part of the basilica is the large dome, which was designed by Michelangelo. It can be seen all around Rome - you might have noticed it in some of the pictures in my Rome posts.  The façade of the basilica is topped with 13 travertine statues representing Thaddeus, Matthew, Philip, Thomas, James the Elder, John the Baptist, Christ the Redeemer (in the center), Andrew, John the Evangelist, James the Younger, Bartholomew, Simon and Matthias.

The inside of the basilica is even more impressive. Every bit of space is intricately detailed, elaborate and features pieces from some of the most talented artists of the time.

Michelangelo’s famous Pieta is just inside the basilica on the right. It’s protected behind a sheet of glass after a crazy man welding a hammer attacked it in 1972.

Below is the dark bronze canopy that covers the shrine of Saint Peter. At the top of the picture you can see where the dome starts.

St. Peter’s Chair, the gilded bronze monument below was designed by Bernini to enclose an oak throne from Charles the Bald upon his coronation in St. Peter's in 875.

As you can see the inside of St. Peter’s Basilica is beautiful and quite detailed. It’s definitely a little gaudy, but most of them are (is that sacrilegious?). After we finished exploring the basilica we stepped outside to enjoy the view out onto St. Peter’s Square. There was an event the night before so you can still see all the chairs that had been set up.

Of course what’s a trip to Vatican City without mentioning the Swiss Guards. Their uniforms may look funny, but they’ve been faithfully serving and protecting the pope since 1506, which makes them one of history’s oldest regiments. Membership is open to Catholic male citizens of Switzerland who have completed military school. Applicants must be between the ages of 19-30, at least 5’8”, and not married.

After that we stopped at the official Vatican gift shop. My mom and I bought angel ornaments for our Christmas trees (you can see it in last year's Christmas home tour post). For no additional charge, they’ll have your item blessed (by a member of the Vatican clergy I assume) and delivered to your hotel later that night/next day. The gift shop is definitely worth a stop.

If you want to see how we spent the rest of the day, you can read my Rome Part 2 post here.

Next Stop: Sorrento!


Making Candles with Mom + A Giveaway

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

At the beginning of the year I made a resolution to spend more time crafting and doing small projects. If you saw my mid-year review last month, you know that it hasn’t happened. So when Labor of Love Co. asked me to try out their DIY soy candle making kit, I jumped at the chance! The kit arrived a couple days before I left to visit my parents, so I decided to bring it with me so my mom and I could try it out together.

I picked the Honeysuckle Jasmine kit, but they also have Apple Harvest, which would be perfect for fall. The kit comes with everything needed to make two soy candles except for a small pot and a bowl to melt the wax in. Don’t worry about ruining your bowl either. We used a small vintage Pyrex bowl and the wax cleanup was super easy. My mom just washed the bowl in warm water after we finished pouring the wax and it came right off.


The detailed instructions that came with the kit were easy to follow and made the whole process super simple. You could easily do this with children (although an adult should pour the hot wax). This would also be a fun activity for parties or would make a great gift!

As I mentioned above, the kit comes in 2 scents, but I strongly recommend the honeysuckle jasmine. It smells ah-mazing! Seriously, my mom had me save a bit of the fragrance oil so she could wear it as perfume for a couple days. It smells wonderful when the candle is burning too!

OK, so who wants to win a kit?! Labor of Love Co. has generously offered to send a kit to one lucky reader! Giveaway is open to continental US residents only. The only mandatory entry is to follow Labor of Love Co. on Instagram. All other entries are optional. I will contact the winner when the giveaway closes. Good luck!

I was provided a DIY Soy Candle Kit for review, but was not compensated in any other way. All reviews and opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Five

Friday, August 12, 2016

One – Utah Airbnb

Last Tuesday I started recapping our Arizona to Montana road trip (see my post about Glacier National Park here). Before I get too into the Montana details I want to mention the wonderful Airbnb location that we stayed at one night during our trip. While we were planning our trip, we decided that the northern part of Utah would be the best place to stop on our second day of driving. We had both dogs with us, so it took some effort to find a place where we could all stay. We ended up finding the perfect place on Airbnb - a small farm in near the Idaho border that allows dogs!

We were so thankful to stay in this place after two days of driving. The dogs were tired of being cooped up in the car and needed some space to roam/explore. The farm was the perfect place for that! We were allowed to walk around the farm and there’s even a dirt road between the farm and a canal that was perfect for the dogs. They could run free off-leash and smell EVERYTHING. They even got to see chickens, sheep, goats, and horses for the first time! The actual room was nice too. It was an apartment above the garage and was all we needed for a night. If you are going to be traveling through that area, let me know and I’ll pass on the Airbnb details!

Two – Missoula Bakeries

One of my favorite things about Missoula had to be the bakeries! We had lunch (plus dessert) twice at Bernice’s Bakery and it was delicious both times…plus they allow dogs on the patio! We also treated ourselves to desserts from Black Cat Bake Shop at the farmer’s market and the actual store. Good thing we did a lot of hiking! Anyway, now we’re on a fresh sandwich/baked goods kick and trying to find the best in our area. We stopped at a pie place a few weeks ago and it was good, but the individual slice selection was limited and we didn’t want (or need) to buy a whole pie. The search continues (once we're done with our green smoothie cleanse - see #4)!

Three – Ringo’s Birthday

My sweet, quirky Ringo bear turned 5 on the 26th! It wasn’t always easy with him, but he’s turned into such a good dog with a big personality. He always keeps us entertained! Anyway, for his birthday I bought him a new floating toy for the pool and made dog-friendly peanut butter cheesecake cupcakes (using this mix). My boyfriend took him (and Abby of course) on a walk in the morning, we played in the pool in the afternoon and then they went for another walk that night. It was the perfect way to celebrate Ringo.

Four – 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

My boyfriend and I are in the middle of a green smoothie cleanse. We're using the book 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith. I've cheated a few times, but overall I've been doing pretty well...better than I thought I would (only a few hangry moments this week). I've definitely been feeling better and sleeping really well, plus I've lost a few pounds. We're planning on keeping up with the green smoothies for breakfast plus for dinner a couple nights a week after the 10 days (plus transition period) are over. I'm not going to lie though, I'd kill for a taco right now! Only 5 more days...

Five – Sephora Makeover

One of the items on my ’30 for 30’ list was to get a makeover/update my beauty routine, so I decided to make an appointment at Sephora a couple weekends ago. I was able to book the appointment online (it’s free with a $50 purchase). I was a little nervous going into it, but it ended up being fun and interesting. I told the lady doing my makeup that I was just looking for a fresh, new daytime look. It was way more product than I typically wear, but I think she did a great job.

She used 16 different products (totaling $532!) and I ended up buying two of them that day. I definitely plan on buying more, but after dropping $75 for just foundation and concealer I was at my limit for the day. It was a fun experience and I’m glad I tried it because I love my new foundation. It’s such a great color on me and it covers everything without looking fake. My current mascara is almost empty, so I think that’ll be my next purchase!

I hope you all have a great weekend! Anyone have anything fun planned?     Cup

What’s Left: Laundry Room

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I keep mentioning all of these rooms in my house that are almost finished and that I want to complete by the end of the year, but what’s really left do to? What projects need to be completed and what needs to be bought in order to call each room done? I thought it might be motivating for me to see those lists and see how close some rooms really are to being complete. I thought it also might be interesting for you to see the current status of rooms I haven’t shared in a while and to see the plan going forward.

I’m starting in the laundry room because I think this is the room that has the least amount of work left to do (and hopefully will be the cheapest to complete). You might remember that I started this room a couple years ago during the One Room Challenge (see the full reveal here). I haven’t done anything in there since the challenge.

OK, let’s talk plans. The biggest thing left to do is to add a countertop across the washer and dryer. Right now I’m planning to buy a butcher block countertop from IKEA, so other than figuring out how to mount the counter, this only requires a trip to IKEA.

I also need to caulk some of the seams around the shelf and bracket. It’ll just make everything look more finished.

Other than that, I just need to find a rug and a few more accessories for this room to be complete. I’m SO close! Hopefully this will give me the push to finally finish this room! 

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