Sketch Dress / What Happened To Dressing Up?

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Dress: Me Made  |  Shoes: Keds (Poshmark)  |  Earrings: Target  |  Purse: Marshalls

There's something so perfect about a "twirl worthy" dress! Ever since I can remember, I have always loved dresses and dressing up. I'm the person who plans her outfits around where I am going...not to make myself even more of an odd ball or anything, and my definition of "casual" doesn't fit into the vocabulary of others around me. Tell me "Oh, it's just casual dress" and I'll show up in a midi skirt, graphic T-shirt, and sneakers while everyone else is in t-shirts and jeans. I'm often one of the only people in the room wearing a dress, and I'm one of the few people who "overdresses" for church. 

After years of being the most dressed up person in most circles, I have come to just accept it and go on with my life, but that hasn't stopped me from wondering "what happened to dressing up?" What happened to people actually wearing dresses and skirts to go out instead of throwing on their "nice" t-shirt and "nice" jeans. I've always wondered what happened to our standards of dress in America, and after my travels, I have come to realize that it's apparently just part of who we are as an American society....we are laid back and casual people, and the same goes for our view of fashion in many facets of our life. 

That's one of my favorite parts about travel, is seeing what everyone is wearing and studying the fashions. I love the effortlessly chic styles of France with classic skirts, trench coats, and sneakers. I love the flowy and airy summer dresses of Rome with leather sandals and straw purses. I love the bold and fashion forward styles of London, full of diversity and color. I love how fashion can be such a voice for a society and culture, because like I always say, fashion is a language all its own. However, I can't help myself from missing the idea of "dressing up", because in today's day and age most people are not willingly going to dress up unless you tell them. The funny thing is that I always have people stop me when I am out and about and tell me how much they love what I wear, always saying something like "You know, you don't see many young ladies dressing like that now a days" and it reminds me how much our mindset of fashion has changed, and how old fashioned I still am :) I will never give up the right of dressing up, and will forever love travel all the more in that respect because I am surrounded by people who still view fashion with an eye of classic charm. 

A bit of notes on this look...this is one of my "Quarantine Creation" dresses.....i.e. I made it during Quarantine :) It has been FAR TO LONG since I have had time to "properly" sew and even longer since I have allowed myself the freedom and creativity to design. This was one of my 3rd dresses (modern dresses at least) that I made and I absolutely ADORE how it turned out. I made it from some fabric that had been in my stash for awhile. This fabric is the most unique print because it is a navy blue floral sketch, so it looks like an artists floral sketchbook and its is so pretty! The white and blue give me a lot of "classic" china vibes, while the print itself is new and modern. Apparently my new design "aesthetic" is romantic and ladylike and this dress is all of that wrapped up with a bow (literally, it has a bow). 
Aside from the dress, one of the styles I have been obsessed with lately is the pairing of sneakers with dresses, so I decided to pair this dress with my new favorite pair of white ked's sneakers, and let's just say I wore this outfit all day! 

Are you a fan of dressing up?

- Madison

Style Challenge Week 2 Recap - Jumpsuits/Rompers/Overalls

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Jumpsuit: Amazon (similar Here & Here ) |  Shoes: Cole Haan (Poshmark)  |  Tshirt: Thrifted 

Jumpsuit: Thrifted  |  Tshirt: Thrifted  |  Headband: Walmart

Overalls: Forever 21 (old)  |  T-Shirt: United Monograms  |  Socks: Target

Romper: Walmart  |  Sweater: Thrifted (Vintage)  |  Socks: Primark

Jumpsuit: Boho  |  Trainers: Saucony (Poshmark)  |  Scrunchy: Wallmart

Jumpsuit: Old Navy  |  Shoes: Target (Poshmark)

Week 2 of my weekly style challenge just wrapped up (last week, but whose keeping track) so here is what I wore throughout the week! 
Week 2 was all about jumpsuits, rompers, and overalls + a BOLD lip. Somehow I managed to capture my looks nearly every day during week 2 and I'm kind of impressed at my's all downhill from here! 
If there was one word I would use to describe the evolution of my style over the last year it would be "JUMPSUITS" because I am completely and utterly OBSESSED with them! There is a whole section of my clothes rack dedicated to my jumpsuits, boilersuits, rompers, etc. now and I am 100% here for it. I think what drew me to jumpsuits is the fact that they are uber comfortable and also unique....I am all about the crazy, unique and bold fashions or trends and jumpsuits often fit into this category. Plus, jumpsuits are an easy fashion choice because styling them is super easy and you can easily dress them up or down. 

Are you a fan of jumpsuits?

- Madison 

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What I've Watched In Quarentine (TV & Movies)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

"Quarentine Confession"..I've watched a lot of shows while stuck at home (as I am sure many of you have). While I am usually a pretty active show watcher, I have definitely been knocking them out these last 7 weeks. Now, before you think that all I do is sit around and watch shows every day, let me just say a lot of these were viewed while working on sewing projects (I love to have something on in the background) because when I am focused on a project I will spend ALL DAY working on aside from that I will admit there have been a couple of days where I did binge a show or a good number of episodes. 
Since our whole family was at home together for a majority of Quarantine, we watched a lot of movies together, so most of the movies I share are ones we watched as a family. 
There are a lot of British Mini Series that I have re-watched over Quarantine (because they are worth re-watching) but I have also watched a number of new shows....I recently got into KDramas and I am kind of obsessed, so I have watched a lot of those.  
I will say, my taste in shows and movies might not be your cup of tea for a story line, content, or premise, but I am always interested in what others watch, so I thought I would share. 
For each show or movie I will talk a bit about why I liked it or what it is about and also what it is rated. 

TV Shows -
Crash Landing To You - (TV - 14) This was the first KDrama that I watched after seeing someone recommend it on Instagram and it got be HOOKED on KDramas, plus it is literally sooooo good! It is about a girl from South Korea who crashes into North Korea and meets a Captain in the special forces...the show follows their story (and romance) along with having many notable characters and sub plots along the way. The ending is so perfect and their is a twist in the story which makes it what it is. Also the MUSIC in this show is amazing!!

Something In The Rain - (TVMA) This is another KDrama that I watched, and while it was good, it wasn't my favorite. It had a lot of frustrating drama and some of the characters got on my nerves. The plot is about a woman in her 30's who starts dating her best friends younger brother (and let's just say drama ensues). While it is rated TVMA, it's not like an american TVMA, it's more or a very weak PG-13.
My Secret Romance - (TV - 14) Surprise, another KDrama. I really loved the characters in this one and also there is a lot about food because one of the main characters is a nutritionist. If you want a cheesy and slightly drama free romance this one was good. It focuses on the chance encounter between two characters who's paths cross later on & they end up working together. 

Married at First Sight - (TV - 14) If there is one reality TV show that I am obsessed with...THIS IS IT! I don't know why, but I am always intrigued by the science of the show and how the experts match people together. I actually show episodes of this show in my Interpersonal Studies class when we talk about relationships. Netflix has season 9 right now and its is a roller coaster. 

Failure to Launch - (PG - 13) If you are a fan of Matthew McConaughey this movie is a great chick flick! I had already watched it before, but watched it again during Quarantine with my parents and my mom enjoyed it. It has a lot of funny parts because it centers around parents who hire a relationship consultant (Sarah Jessica Parker) to help push their 30 year old son out of the house. 

The Duchess - (PG -13) I am always down for a good period drama for the story line and the costumes. I had always heard about the Duchess, but never had watched it. It was a great movie, definitely an interesting story and also really heartbreaking as it shows the unique perspective of marriage in the 18th century. Stars Keira Knightly & Haley Atwell. The costumes are fabulous! 

The Kissing Booth - (TV - 14) I am a sucker for a good cheesy teen romance movie & this is one of Netflix's movies based off of a YA book. I'm pretty sure I have seen this movie like 5 times. The plot is about a girl named Elle who falls for her best friends brother after working the kissing booth at their schools carnival. 
Outbreak - (R) Yes, we watched a movie about an Epidemic, during a Pandemic! This movie is actually really interesting if you are into science type movies. We watched this at the start of Quarentine & my family actually watched it 2 times because they like it so much. It is rated R for the gruesomeness of the virus and language. 

Roped - (PG) This is one of the new movies to Netflix in May and is only worth watching is you want a really cringy romance you can make fun of. There's a lot of things that don't make since. It's like the Longest Ride mixed with Footloose, but the dad doesn't like the rodeo because its animal cruelty, but then he changes his mind...the daughter falls for the cowboy after like 2 days even though they barely talked and then he leaves at the end. 

Currently Watching:
English Game - (TV - 14) Julian Fellows directs this show so you know it will be good. 

My First First Love - (TV -14) Another KDrama, but this one doesn't have hours long episodes and the characters are university students and not 30 year old adults. It also is English "dubed" which makes it easy to play in the background, but weird because the voices don't

Gilmore Girls (for the 3rd time) - ( TV - 14) I am a huge fan of Gilmore girls and have watched it multiple times. Hands down this is one of my favorite shows 

100 Humans - (TV -14) This is a super interesting show centered on hypotheses about humans and actual experiments to prove them right or wrong. They focus on different topics in each episode and it is very interesting if you like psychology and sociology. 

TV Shows-
Poldark - (TV -14) I started watching Poldark back in college with the earlier seasons, but for some reason I got frustrated with it for awhile and stopped watching. However, I picked it back up in April and got kind of have to stick with it and get past season 3. It really is a great show, even though there is frustrating drama and I was honestly sad when it ended. It is also centered during a time that not many period dramas are and shows great 1790's fashions. Never has anything overly inappropriate, but there are a handful of implied scenes. 

Dr. Thorne - Another Julian Fellows show. This one is actually a mini series so there are only like 5 episodes, but it is so good. It's a comical and romantic look at the struggle of class and marriage in a society that looked on social standing. It has so many great parts to the story and wonderful cast. 

Making The Cut - (TV-14) What kind of Fashion Design teacher would I be if I didn't watch the design shows? Making The Cut came out at the start of Social Distancing and is hosted by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (from Project Runway) and it is honestly soooo good! I truly think it is better than Project runway and the designs are on a whole other level. 

Vanity Fair: (13+) This is a fabulouly dramatic period drama focused on a set of characters in the early 1800's that are all striving for what is not worth having. This is the newest adaption of the show and I really love how they tell the story. (also Johnny Flynn who plays Mr. Knightly in the 2020 Emma plays a great character in this show)

47 Meters Down Uncaged - (PG-13) I don't like horror or scary movies, but I think the whole "shark" thing is why I like these movies. If you saw the first 47 meters down, this one is way it has way more surprising moments and more sharks!

Murder on the Orient Express 2017 (rented) - (PG-13) I saw this in Theaters when it came out, but we watched it as again as a family and its a great movie if you like solving mysteries (plus it counts as a period drama) and has a stellar cast! 

Knives Out (rented)- (PG-13) Super interesting "Clue" like mystery that has you guessing the entire movie and never seeing the ending. It's quite an interesting plot. 

Emma (2020 - Rented) - (PG) I will watch anything Jane Austen ANY TIME, so you can only imagine how excited I was for the new Emma movie this year. I actually went to see this movie in theaters before social distancing (treated myself and it was great), but then rented it at home to show my mom. I could seriously watch this movie over and over. I know there are mixed reviews of this version, but honestly I think they did a really great job and infused Jane Austen's humor into the characters and story. Also the costumes were to die for and I loved Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightly. Note: At the beginning there is a scene that has a brief moment of partial nudity as Mr. Knightly was the directors take to show a man dressing in the 1800's over the scenes that typically show a women getting dressed. 

Unknown - (PG-13) If you love a good Liam Neeson movie this is a great one on Amazon. The story line is about an assassin who gets amnesia and starts to think his cover is his real is quite an interesting story line. 

Morning Glory - (PG-13) (also on Hulu) Great Rom Com that had me and my parents laughing. Centers around a girl wanting to be a famous TV producer and ends up working to revive a failing TV show for a company. Stars Harrison Ford

Kingsman (rent) - (R) I LOVE the Kingsman movies so much, from the suits, to the accents, to the action! If you don't like gore, killing, or British language, than this is probably not for you.

Current War - (PG-13) This was a great movie we watched as a family and I learned so much about the history of electricity! It is a movie about the competition between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. It is packed with a stellar cast like Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Nicholas Hoult, and Matthew Macfadyen. 

Rocky - Okay, really My sister has been watching all the Rockies with my parents, but I have sat in for snippets of each movie and they are really good. If you like classic movies with inspiring themes these are for you! 

TV Shows-

Pride & Prejudice (1995) - This was a re-warch for me while sewing, but I will re-watch Pride and Prejudice any day. I like this version because it is a mini series and follows the book more closely. 

War & Peace - (TV-14) I actually own this on DVD, but watched it for a 3rd time on Hulu while sewing. I have never read the book, but I LOVE the show. There is so much that goes on and you really connect to the characters in many ways. I always cry at the ending. Note: there are 2 scenes throughout the show that you might want to skip. 

Emma (2009) - (no longer on Hulu) This is the BBC mini series of Emma and again, this was a rewatch for me. This version plays to a lot more of the story because it is longer, and also shows more between Emma and Mr. Knightly's history. I love the cast, plus Johnny Lee Miller plays a fantastic Mr. Knightly. 

Oh My Venus - (TV-14) This was a KDrama on Hulu and I really liked it. It tells the story of a girl who was popular in high school, but who grows up to be a lawyer struggling with her weight...she then meets a celebrity trainer who helps her become healthy & you can imagine the rest. The characters for this show reminded me a lot of Crash Landing to You. 

Descendants of The Sun - (TV-14) This is probably my favorite KDrama I have watched. It has the perfect mix of romance, action, drama, and medical. It follows a special forces captain who falls for a doctor, who ends up being stationed at his base. There a a lot of sub plots that I loved. 

Currently Watching:
Company X - (TV-14) This is a Canadian show that follows a group of spies that work for Canada during the beginning of WWII. It has a very interesting plot, plus I love anything WWII. 

Have you seen any of these shows?

What are you currently watching? 

Are you a fan of KDramas?

- Madison

Surviving & Thriving When The World Turns Upside Down

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Dress: Me Made & Designed  |  Shoes: Thrifted (Old Navy)  |  Hat: Bought in Williamsburg

Dear Lovely reader, as I sat down to write this post, I felt myself hit a wall....I didn't know what to write about. It's so easy to go out and take pictures, but when it comes to writing a post, I often find myself I write about fashion & style and explain my outfit or do I write about life? Writing about fashion and style is easy, but I sometimes feel inauthentic by avoiding the important topics. 

Like everyone in the world right now, you probably find yourself in a similar situation as me, stuck at home and all of your plans for the year flying out the window. Now, let me be clear on one thing, I am not complaining about the inordinate hours of time stuck at home, because home is one of my favorite places to be (where are all my Introverts at?). However, I thrive on predictability, plans, and a schedule, but with so much uncertainty in the world & social distancing in effect, life is a bit of a struggle right now, finding the balance between surviving and thriving. 

With extra time at home, I have found myself spending a LOT of time in my thoughts, reflecting on life, becoming more in tune with myself, and thinking about every little things that happens (this is both a good thing and a bad thing!). However, in the midst of sitting down to write today's post, I decided to go for authenticity and remind you that you are not the only one who feels stuck, uninspired, stressed, depressed, anxious, and uncertain during this time. 

We all find ourselves in a season of life that none of us have ever experienced before, much less a time in our world where we are all facing a situation that many of us have never dealt with. The struggle between surviving and thriving is REAL!!! Surviving might look like simply getting through your day, avoiding a panic attack, completing your to do list, actually getting dressed for the day, brushing your hair for the first time in 3 days, or maybe even just keeping a schedule. I think for so many of us right now, if you were to ask us how we are doing we might say "I'm hanging in there" or "I am just trying to survive"! In fact, I know I have giving that response to others and have heard it from many people more than once. In the midst of uncertainty we often resort to a state of survival and simply making it through this season SANE! However, in spite of our survival nature and mindset, I think we often loose so many opportunities to thrive in the midst of unplanned and uncertain season. 

My life really is in a state of "survival" right now, trying to figure out this new normal (you would think after 7 weeks I would have figured it out), but in the midst of it, I often loose sight of the opportunities I have to THRIVE! Any time we face unplanned situations, we are given an opportunity to GROW, and this season is no different! Maybe you are surviving (like me), but are you thriving? Are you making the most of this season to grow as a person and use this precious time to pursue things that will pour into your life? 

At the beginning of this year, if you asked me if there was one thing I could change about my life, I would have probably said "I wish I had more time" and lo and behold, who knew that this year would turn upside down so drastically and that the one thing I always often wished for would be granted. Now, I don't know what situation or season you find yourself in, maybe for you, everything that is going on in the world actually means you have less time....I know we all find ourselves in different places. However, I do think if anything, we have been given the time to re-prioritize our lives, refocus our energies, create new schedules, or work on things we had often put aside. 

In this season, while I have still been putting in time as a teacher (via online learning) I have also found myself with extra time in my schedule to work on projects I had so often put aside due to lack of time. While life might seem like survival many days, I have been trying to develop a mindset of THRIVING! Thriving will most likely look different for all of us, but thriving has the same outcome in all of our lives, thriving means developing a positive outlook in spite of uncertainty and using every opportunity to grow as a person, despite the hard days. 

Thriving might mean pursuing your passions you had long abandoned. Thriving might mean learning more about yourself and getting in touch with your emotions and taking time for self care. Thriving might mean you give yourself the freedom to dream the dreams you once thought were impossible? Thriving might simply look like creating a schedule for your life. Maybe thriving is continuing to build relationships with others around you, or getting outside of your comfort zone to do something new? 

Thriving looks different for us all, but it is vitally IMPORTANT to develop a mindset that allows us to make the most of every opportunity & approach this uncertain and unprecedented time in our lives and world with a renewed outlook and optimism. When we are thriving, we are automatically surviving, but if our only goal is to survive, are we giving ourselves the space to thrive

This post is as much a pep talk for myself, as it is an encouragement to you, in reminding you that we are all in this together, and we can all thrive together, in the midst of our automatic survival mode. 

What has been the hardest part of Social Distancing for you?

Where do you find yourself, are you surviving or thriving?

- Madison

When in Rome - My 5 Day Italian Adventure

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Sitting down, writing this post, I feel positively giddy just thinking about how INCREDIBLE this trip was! I always say that Travel has taught me sooooo many things, about myself, about life, about the world, etc. If I could go back and change anything, I wish that I would have started traveling sooner. But as everything in life, things happen for a reason when they are supposed the right time, and traveling as an adult has truly changed me for the better ( Read my post What I Learned Traveling Abroad )
Before this trip, I had previously traveled to Scotland, Paris, and England. Funny thing, is that I actually registered/booked this trip to Rome while on a layover in New York during my trip to England with my sister last spring (see here & here, plus watch the Vlog here). Up until Rome, all of my trips involved me either meeting a friend in another country (Scotland / Paris) or traveling with my sister (England). However, my trip to Rome revolved around traveling with a group of strangers!!

A bit of backstory: 
After I got back from traveling to Scotland & Paris in December of 2018 (and into January 2019) I self diagnosed myself with the "Travel Bug" (an intense desire to hop on a plane and travel to another country ASAP). My dad randomly mentioned that I should look into the possibility of planning a student trip in the future and within a few weeks I had started planning a trip to London, Paris, Florence and Rome with an educational tour company called EF (I Love EF so much & am sure I will share more about them later). That student trip was scheduled to take place this summer (June 2020) but with the Coronavirus it is now rescheduled for next summer (July 2021) is actually sandwiched into between two other International Trips I have planned for 2021. reason for sharing this, is that as a Teacher, when you book a student trip with EF as a Tour Leader they send you on a training trip (it is actually a complimentary training trip, so the cost is covered by EF). The training trips happen in different countries around the world, but I decided to book the Rome trip, mainly because the dates fit my schedule. 
Backstory complete! 

The crazy thing, is that before I booked this trip, I hadn't even ever considered traveling to Rome. I don't know why, but I guess Scotland and England were always high up on my list. However, I can honestly say that Rome was INCREDIBLE! Truthfully, I think out of all the trips I have taken so far, my trip to Rome might have been one of my favorites, and I really think it was because it put me so far outside my comfort zone! 

Traveling on the teacher training trip with EF meant that I would be traveling around Rome with 40 other teachers (plus 5 EF staff members) who were all strangers to me....our trip essentially partly simulated what a tour with our students would look like. If you have been around my blog for awhile, you know that I am not a fan of people I don't know or unfamiliar situation (#introvertlife). The whole trip was even more outside my comfort zone than just traveling to another country. However, the 5 days I spent traveling & the 3 days I spent in Rome were truly life changing (and also allowed me to prepare for a trip with students)! There is something so magical about traveling with others (especially people you do not know), and there is something that automatically bonds a group of strangers together. Within one day our group was more than a group of strangers, we were kind of like family and it was so cool to see that unfold & look forward to that happening when I take students abroad. 

I found myself never once feeling insecure about my Introverted Personality because I was so enthralled with everything I was seeing around me & the experience allowed me to talk and bond with others who were there for the same reasons I was, because they were teachers & loved to travel. Rome truly took my breath away and I would go back in a heartbeat! Being in Rome brought all my my childhood History lessons back to life and I found myself in awe that I was walking in the steps of Ancient History.

You can watch my Rome Travel Vlog of the trip here:
There is so much I could say about this trip, but I thought I would share a breakdown of all I saw and did in case you ever get to visit Rome. What makes me even more EXCITED is that next summer (2021) I get to visit Rome with my brother in sister in June and then see my students experience the historic City in July.

The trip to Rome in total was 5 days. 2 Days of travel and 3 days in Rome. It felt like such a long time and yet such a short time. Our days were packed and we really did get to see so much. 

Day 1 - Overnight Flight to Italy

This was my secondish trip Internationally and while I am never a huge fan of the plane ride to get there, I have to remind myself every hour on those long flights gets me closer to the adventure! While I was technically traveling alone, one of the teachers from my school happened to be on my same flight, on her way to her training trip in Germany and while we were boarding I met 3 other teachers who were headed to Rome with me. We flew out of Houston and Landed in Amsterdam for our connection to Rome. The Amsterdam airport is really cool (I find that when I travel I am always intrigued by the airports). Our connection to Rome was technically in the AM on day #2. 

Day 2 - Arrive in Rome + Walking Tour of Rome

One thing I have learned from traveling abroad, is that Jet Lag is REAL!!! I think I always thought of Jet Lag as being extreme exhaustion, but to me it feels more like my body is shutting down & the only way to combat it is to keep moving, and as soon as we landed in Rome that is exactly what we did! 
I love that EF has an hour by hour schedule for trips, which helped us make the most of our first day and also allowed us to see so much of Rome upon arrival and do a bit of exploring. 

Our first day we took a walking Tour of the city center of Rome and saw many iconic places:

Central Piazza Navona - The Piazza Navona is a public plaza kind of in the center of Rome. It has two fountains in the center and is surrounded by shops and restaurants. The Piazza Navona is a oval shape and is actually built on the Stadium of Domitian from the 1st century AD. This is the perfect place to relax, grab a bit to eat at an outdoor table, buy a gelato or meet up with people you are traveling with (we came here nearly every day). I will say, that the restaurants in the Piazza Navona are more expensive than those outside the city center.  
Pantheon - We didn't actually go into the Pantheon on day 1, but we did stop by it to see on our way to the Spanish Steps. 
Spanish Steps - This is a very well visited spot of Rome. On your way to the Spanish steps you will walk along the 5th avenue of Rome with all the designer shops. 
Trevi Fountain - What says Rome more than the Trevi Fountain (and the Colosseum of course)! I was very excited to visit the Trevi Fountain. Due to the time of day that we visited, there were a LOT of people.....honestly there are always a lot of people there (if you don't want people around you will have to go early in the morning). FYI, this is also a prime pick pocket spot so hold your belongings tight. The trevi fountain is so much bigger in real life and it is truly breathtaking. If you visit, you have to make sure and throw a coin over your right shoulder....legend has it that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain you will visit Rome again (funny thing is I threw 2 coins into the fountain & I am visiting Rome 2 times next year!)
Gelato - Because Gelato is actually a tourist destination! After you visit the Trevi Fountain there is a Gelato shop right next to the fountain. I got the Coffee Gelato and it was delicious....also I ate it about 15 minutes before dinner (but who is keeping track). Italian Gelato is nothing like you have ever had in really is just frozen air and melts so quickly. (there is also a really good Gelato shop at the Piazza Navona)
Dinner at a Restaurant - I honestly don't remember the name of the restaurant we ate at for our welcome dinner. Our EF Tour Director arranged it for us & it was amazing! We had 4 plates of food in the time we sat down to eat (plus a glass of wine). Our dinner started off with eggplant parmegain, then we had Rigatoni pasta with a cream sauce, then a serving of veal and potatoes, and we finished dinner with a sponge espresso cake! 

Day 3 - Vatican City

Since this trip was a teacher training trip, we actually had a classroom learning session in the morning on Day 3, so technically on a normal trip you would also have the morning to explore Rome. If I didn't have a classroom learning session, I would have wanted to go get coffee in the city & then walk around exploring or shopping. 
On Day 3 we woke up and ate breakfast with consisted of coffee, croissants, the most delicious honey I have ever had, pastries, cheese, and ham. Then we had a couple hours of learning sessions, a coffee break, and then we hopped on the bus and headed into the city (our Villa was about 30 minutes outside of Rome in the Italian hill country)

Pantheon - Our tour leaders gave us time for a bit of exploring when we got into the heart of Rome and I ended up with 3 history teachers at the was quite interesting seeing the Pantehon through the eyes of History teachers who literally breathed ancient history. Visiting the Pantheon is free and it is quite a site to see. One thing you will notice in Rome is the incredible engineering and architecture of all the buildings. After thousands of years the ancient buildings are still standing, and when you study them you can see the brilliance of why. The Pantheon was a former Roman Temple, which means it was originally made to Pagan gods, so when you visit, you will notice the places that pagan statues were removed because it is now a Catholic Church. 

FUN FACT: outside the Pantheon there is a large fountain and right behind it there is a small water fountain the comes out of the ground. If you bring your own water bottle you can fill it up here with spring water from outside the city (there are actually a number of fountains in Rome like this)

Lunch - After we visited the Pantheon we stopped into a restaurant to have lunch. Sadly I don't remember what restaurant it was, but I do know that they had delicious pizza. There are so many cafes, restaurants, bakery's, and coffee shops around every corner and when you walk through the streets people will call out to you from the Restaurants, telling you to come eat there. 
Vatican city - The majority of Day 2 in Rome was spent in the Vatican City. The Vatican City is actually the world's smallest city! (Tip: buy your tickets ahead of time or prepare to stand in a VERY LONG line). Because we were meeting a local tour guide at the Vatican Museum we were able to skip the line. (be prepared to go through metal detectors & if you have any glass bottles on you, you will have to check your bag & pick it up later). The Vatican City houses the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel an St. Peter's you honestly will spend a LOT of time there. 
Vatican Museum - This is truly a marvel full of marvels! The Vatican Museum houses treasures that Popes throughout history have collected, but the museum itself is a treasure and the tiled floors are amazing, not to mention the carved and painted ceilings....there is so much to see it overwhelms the senses. 
Sistine Chapel - BREATHTAKING! That is literally all I can say. I grew up hearing about the Sistine Chapel, and learning about Michelangelo who painted the Frescos on the ceiling of the chapel. The History of the paintings themselves is something to research. Before we went inside our Tour Guide actually told us all about the history of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo and the paintings (because you are not allowed to speak in the chapel). Because you cannot talk in the Chapel it is silent...but that is also what makes it so wondrous as you look up, taking in the painted ceiling (which you are not allowed to photograph). 
St. Peter's Basilica - St. Peters Basilica is a church built in the Renaissance style & is located within the vatican city. It is truly a bigger than life Church and full of such history, including mummies of past popes, the most incredible mosaics that look like oil paintings, & stunning architecture. 
Dinner at a Restaurant in the Piazza Navona - We ate dinner at Monteforte 
**Funny Story: On day 3 a group of us ladies went to dinner at a restaurant in the Piazza Navona (Monteforte). It was a great dinner outside watching people walk by. One of the ladies convinced our waiter to give us free Lemoncello...which didn't come till the end of dinner right before we had to leave! When we got to the end of dinner we realized it was getting close to the time we had to be back at the bus & we were made even later by a misunderstanding about tips. When I finally got back to the table after paying, our waiter had brought the Lemonchello, but we also had to leave right then. I didn't want the Lemonchello to go to waste, plus I really wanted to try it (it is a famous liquor in Italy) so I shot the entire tiny glass as we took off walking (it tastes like lemon cough syrup)....only to realize time was running out and the bus might leave us. I then made the executive decision that I would run ahead of everyone to catch the bus....and by run ahead I mean I literally sprinted through the streets of Rome, at night, in the dark, right after drinking Lemonchello. Needless to say the bus didn't leave us, but it took me awhile to catch my breath & I will forever remember that was like a scene from a movie**

Day 4 - Colosseum & Roman Forum

Day 4 was the day I was really looking forward to because we were going to the Colosseum! We had training sessions in the morning with a break for espresso (seriously, Italy knows how to do coffee) and then we were headed out on our bus. 

Lunch & Coffee - We arrive at the Colosseum around lunch to have a quick discussion before we all split up for lunch. I ended up going with a group of 6 other teachers...we walked around for at least 10 minute trying to decide where to eat, before we finally settled on this quaint "Ristorante" (called: Massezio) that was a 5 minute walk up from the Colosseum. It was there that I discovered that ordering Feticcini in Rome is not like America....but it was delicious none the less. 
After lunch we stopped off to grab coffee on our way back to meet our group at the Colosseum. 
Colosseum - The Colosseum was the one thing I was looking forward to the MOST on this trip! I remember always being intrigued by the history lessons of Rome & the Gladiators (and even went to a Gladiator exhibit at a museum with my brother a year or so before this trip) so visiting the Colosseum was truly like walking in the steps of History. It's one of those places that you can't quite believe you are seeing in real life, but that also brings history to Life!! While the history of the Colosseum itself is intriguing, seeing the architecture of it is incredible. 
Roman Forum - The Roman Forum is directly across the street from the Colosseum (and you have to have tickets to get in). The Roman Forum is essentially the center of the city of Rome and while it used to be a marketplace back in the day, it now hold the ruins of ancient government buildings (that even in their ruined state are spectacular)
Vittoriano / Capitoline Hill - As our tour guide said to us "this is the real capital hill!" The Vittoriano is a truly stunning structure right up the cobble stone street from the Forum. It really does look like a Capital and is surrounded by many statues. 
Shopping - After Capitol Hill we headed back to the Piazza Navona for free time and shopping! Up until this point we hadn't had enough free time to actually shop, so I joined 2 other ladies and we headed out to buy all the pasta, coffee, wine, and souvenirs we could find (and carry). Since the Piazza Navona is such a central part of the city, there are shops in every direction around it. One of my favorite shops was a leather shop which had the prettiest leather purses. The main things I would say you should always bring home from Rome are pasta, coffee, and wine! 
Dinner - To complete our last official day in Rome, we had a farewell dinner at a restaurant (again, I can't remember what it was called). Dinner was delicious! We had Brochette and fresh mozzarella, pizza, ham, wine, and Italian ice cream. It was the perfect farewell dinner, and also very bitter sweet since we had all gotten so close over just 3 short days. 

Day 5 - Early morning flight back home.

Myself and the other ladies who were on my flight to Rome were the lucky ones to have a 5:00am flight back home (said with all the sarcasm). We had to wake up early, say farewell to our Italian villa in the dark, and head to the airport. We had a connecting flight in Paris and then we were back home. 

Rome truly stole my heart, maybe even more than Scotland, Paris, and England! I don't know what it was about the city, but it captivated me. I also think this trip was so noteworthy because it truly put me outside of my comfort zone, but as I have been learning over the years, when I get outside my comfort zone, I often am shocked by what I discover and learn. 

I CANNOT WAIT to go back to Rome and make memories with some incredible people next year. Until now, I will just continue reliving my Italian Adventure by eating all the pasta, consuming all the pizza, and drinking wine (plus dreaming of Gelato). 

Have you been to Rome? I would love to hear about your Italian Adventure!

Would you ever want to visit Rome?