What Ha-"Pinning" [Vol. 4]

It may officially be fall but Texas hasn’t gotten the message yet.  There is absolutely no physical evidence that the season has changed.  But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t brought it into my house!  Last weekend I went on a Fall/Halloween decor shopping spree and spent most of Sunday afternoon decorating.

I still feel like I need a few more items before the house looks complete.  One of those things being a new wreath.  Confession: I just took down my Spring wreath on Sunday. It even still said “Spring” on it.  In my defense I only had it up there because I don’t have a fall wreath to replace it with.  Nor do I have a Halloween one.  But thankfully my friend Ashtyn is a wreath making genius!  And she has graciously offered to help me make both a Fall and a Halloween wreath this weekend.

Enter: PINTEREST!!  She told me to scour Pinterest for some wreaths I like and than she’ll tell me what to buy from Hobby Lobby before we meet on Sunday.

Here are my inspirations:

Halloween

                                    (via)                                                                              (via)

                                                           

                                       (via)                                                                           (via)  

Fall

                                           (via)                                                                        (via)

                                         (via)                                                                           (via)

Obviously I will be sharing our wreath making efforts next week. And I could not be more excited.

I’ve also been searching Pinterest for ways to spruce up my fall wardrobe.  It’s still not up to par especially since moving back to Texas where it actually does get cold.  Unlike Florida where people just think it does because they’re  so used to it be hot all the time.

Here are some of my favorites:

                         (via)                                                 (via)                                              (via)

I’m especially interested in adding a vest or two to my closet.  They look SO cute paired with jeans!  And that white sweater in the first outfit looks so comfy and cozy I feel like I would be living in it for the fall and winter.  Now just need to find all these things in my favorite stores and I’m good to go!

And that my friends is What’s Ha-“Pinning” with me!

Happy Hump Day! Linking up with Jenn and Jess!

A Day in the Floating City

After an exhausting, fun-filled day exploring Verona, we jumped on the bus one last time and headed for Venice.  I had been given mixed reviews of Venice when I told people we would be stopping there.  Some said it was their favorite Italian city and others said it was overrated.  Well having now been there myself I think I have mixed feelings about Venice.  
Here is how our time in Venice was spent.
So we arrived at our hotel after our very last bus ride and one very bumpy boat ride.  I was in heaven when I saw the hotel.  I mean look at these pictures.  It was the picture perfect little cottage turned hotel.  Actually I believe our hotel used to be a  chateau of some sort and was owned by a single family.  The inside had a strange mix of  antique furniture and weird tribal decor.  It was very strange I completely forgot to take pictures of the inside.  So enjoy these of the outside!

We had dinner at our hotel that night and then we hit the hay because we had an early morning the next day.  Our hotel was about a 20 minute boat ride from the main island of Venice so we had some great views of the outskirts of the city.  
When we got to the main island we headed straight for Piazza de San Marco.  

One of the reasons I was so excited to see Venice in person is because of my history with Disney.  As you know I worked at Epcot and at Epcot we have the World Showcase.  And one of the main sights when you get out to the World Showcase is Piazza de San Marco.  Specifically Epcot has exact replicas of the Campanile Tower, the Doges Palace, and the two columns located between the palace and the tower.  When I did the Segway tours as a Guest Relations Hostess I talked specifically about all three items.  So seeing them in person in all their glory was absolutely AH-MAZING!

i took about a thousand pictures of them to share with my Disney friends.

Our first stop of the day was to a glass blowing factory/shop.  We had a private glass blowing demonstration and had the opportunity to browse through some of their amazing creations.  Venitian glass is very gaudy but has it’s own beauty at the same time.  Unfortunately everything a little too expensive for me but it was so neat getting to see them make it and the final creations.

Following that we had about an hour to do a little exploring and then it was time for our guided walking tour of the city.  We started at St. Mark’s Basilica.  Talk about breathtaking.  It was absolutely stunning and the amount of work and detail in this church is mind-blowing.

Following the church we started exploring the city.  Our tour guide was so knowledgeable about the city but he was not at all personable himself.  So while we learned about the entire history of Venice I’m sad to say it was very boring.  And it was HOT so that combination is never good.  Most of us were very glad when the tour was over.  But I did manage to take some great pictures of the city and it’s canals.

After the tour we had lunch.  A delightful seafood pasta that I loved and some chocolate gelato with fresh strawberries!  We had about an hour to get some shopping done.  And then it was time for a must when you  visit Venice.  That’s right!  A gondola ride!  Again we had some great views and I would definitely say that you must take gondola ride through the city if it is your first visit.  But I probably would skip it next time I’m in the city.  

I’ll be honest, after the gondola ride we were ready to head back to the hotel.  But our water taxi back to the hotel wasn’t until 5:00 and we were done with the gondola ride at around 3:00.  But we had seen what we wanted to see of the city.  In hindsight, I probably should have done more research on this city so we had a better idea of what to do after the gondola ride.  But I had no idea of the timeline for the day so, there ya go.

We ended up strolling along more of the canals.  We found some fun little Venetian shops with tradition Venetian masks and other theatrical looking items.  We had more gelato (obviously) and sat in the square and did some people watching.  I wish we had gone a little deeper in to the city rather than sticking with more touristy spots.  But we still had a good time doing what we did.

Next time I will explore more of the internal parts of the city a la Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmerman.

Overall I did enjoy my time in Venice. I got myself a lovely navy blue Longchamp purse for half the price I would have gotten in the States.  So that was great.  I had some really tasty food, and I got to see some sights I had been dying to see in person.  Would I go back?  Yes I think I would.  Would I recommend visiting the city to others.  Absolutely.  You MUST see Venice at least once in your life.

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Well I only have one post left dedicated to reliving my amazing two weeks in Europe.  You’ll get to hear all about our final destination…ROMA!

Linking up for Travel Tuesday! 🙂

What’s Ha-"Pinning" [Vol. 3] #PinterestWin

Every once in while I find things on Pinterest and actually re-create them myself.  And every once in while I have a #PinterestWin.  Meaning that what I created looks almost identical (or at least very similar) to the pin I placed on the corresponding Pinterest board.  And I am pleased to report that that is exactly what happened this past weekend.  
As I mentioned in Monday’s post, my bedroom has been sitting in an incomplete stage for about a year.  That’s what happens when you move into a new house and then 2 months later decide to book a trip to Europe that costs a few thousand dollars.  Everything else in life pretty much got pushed aside until said trip was paid off.  (Which I do not regret in the least.  And would do all over again in a heart beat).  But since I am not going to be paying for a very expensive trip over the next few months, I’m finally able to invest in my living space.  And the first place I knew I wanted to tackle was my bedroom.  
Thus the need for these four pins.  These pins have been on my “Bedroom Inspiration” board for…..well EVER.  I’ve been wanting to do something with all my Instagram pictures for at least a year and half and I finally turned my pins into real life creations.  And I could not be more in love with them. 
Here were the inspirations for my creations.
                                  (via)                                                                               (via)

                                   (via)                                                                           (via)

And here is what I actually did.
Here is what you need:
Frames (mine are from Hobby Lobby.  I waited till they were 50% off)
Twine or Ribbon (Whatever you want to use to hang your pictures from.  I used twine)
Instagram pictures
Tiny clothes pins
First I laid out my pictures in the frame to make sure I knew how many I needed and how much twine I would need.
Next came attaching the twine to the frame.  I just used hot glue.  Which my fingers did not thank me for.  I think I burned myself about 20 times.  It didn’t gel that I kept glueing the string crooked.  I eventually got it right though.  

Lastly I attached the pictures using the tiny clothes pins.  And WA-LA!

I’m obsessed with them.  And I love that I can change out the pictures whenever I want too!

The next DIY project didn’t come from Pinterest but was another project I’ve had on my “to-do” list for the last year.  I bought this cute little stool from Good Will last August with the intention of re-painting and recovering the seat.  It fits perfectly under the vanity table in my bedroom.  
And it was super easy to do.  All I needed was spray paint and the fabric.

First I had to disassemble the stool and remove the old fabric from the cushion.  

Next I cut the fabric I chose to fit the cushion and then hot glued the new fabric to the cushion.  (I didn’t have a staple gun and was too lazy to do anything else).

Then I took the stool part outside and spray painted it a champagne gold color.

Finally I reattached the cushion and the stool. 
Boom. Done.

Much better.  Now I just need a different mirror, which I plan to get from Home Goods soon, there is one I have my eye on.  And my room will finally feel complete.

I just love when Pinterest projects turn out great, don’t you?  Definitely gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

Linking up with Jenn and Jess to show off my #PinterestWin for

Your Next Favorite Book: The Royal We

Goodreads synopsis: 
American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.


Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.


My thoughts:  THIS BOOK!! I first saw that this book existed on Instagram.  The minute I saw the cover I knew it was a book that I had to read.  I mean look at that cover!  It has Kate Middleton inspired written all over it.  I didn’t even need to read the synopsis to know I wanted to read it.  And then I actually read the synopsis and I was thought….”THIS BOOK WAS MADE FOR ME.”   It has absolutely everything I love……England, royalty, an American who is going to become royalty, England, and of course a love story.  I loved the story line, I loved every single character, I loved the ending….like I said it was written specifically for me to read.

I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say because it was that enjoyable to me.  So I’m just going to leave you with this:  I am praying the authors decide to write a sequel.  I am dying to know what happens with all the characters and their story lines.

Once again, I loved it and if you love England, royalty and America; you will most definitely like this book.  So read it!

An Outfit Post: eShakti

I think we can all agree that getting new clothes is one of the best things EVER.  I mean who doesn’t love having a new top or dress to show off at work.  I think we can also agree that sometimes going clothing shopping can be one of the worst experiences EVER!  I hate when I go into one of my favorite shops (ie. JCrew and Target) and find something I love, only to absolutely hate the way it looks on in the dressing room because it just doesn’t fit quite right.  
If only my favorite shops provided custom clothing.  Thankfully there is an online site that does in fact provide customization to pretty much any item they have on their website.  eShakti is the name of this new (to me) clothing store website.  They have a  a ton of fantastic items and have a little bit of everything: dresses, tops, pants, skirts, and jackets.  And every single item is customizable.  
Now you’re probably wondering what exactly they will customize for you.  The answer is EVERYTHING!  Once you have chosen the item you want to buy you can change the sleeve length, the neckline, and length of the a dress.  They then give you the option of either putting in your normal garment size or entering your exact measurements.  Thus allowing your garment to fit you to a T.  
Now as I said, this website is new to me.  I had never heard of eShakti before I was contacted by them to put try out their services.  But I am SO glad that I have found them because it was such a fun and neat experience.  
Here are all the details:
The Dress
It took me forever to decide which piece I wanted to customize.  I knew I wanted a dress, but they have so many really cute options that I just couldn’t decide.  I settled on a very simple navy blue and white stripped dress that had a slight 1950s look to it.  It’s even titled as a “retro frock”.  
The Measurements
Next came the measuring.  I was a little nervous for this part because I have never had my exact measurements taken.  Thankfully Jenny is has a tape measure that is specifically for measuring for fabrics.  eShakti does a great job of walking you through the measuring process, they show you pictures and give you exact directions on where to measure.  
The Customization
After I put in my exact measurements, I was then able to customize the dress itself.  I wanted the full experience the site has to offer and so I changed the sleeve length and the neckline.  The only thing I did not change was the length of the dress itself.  I don’t have a dress that is below the knee length so I wanted to see try it out.  
     
The Waiting
Once I submitted my order I was so excited to finally get it.  I was on pins and needles waiting for it to get there.  I have to give eShakti props because they had my dress to me in just 3 weeks.  Which for a customized item is great turn around time, if you ask me.  I got my dress on Labor Day and I probably would have had it much sooner but it somehow ended up at my neighbors how and he didn’t bring it over until then.  So it may have gotten here in just under 3 weeks but it was in my hands right at the 3 week mark.  Either way, fantastic speedy service! 
The Final Product
When I pulled my dress out of the packaging I was immediately drawn to the fabric.  It is just the right thickness and overall feel of the dress.  The fabric is very soft and sturdy.  I pulled it over my head and it fit perfectly!  I have never had a dress that has fit so right.  It looks very sliming on (which I love), I can move my arms, and it has POCKETS!!!  
When I first put it on I wasn’t 100% sure I liked the length.  As I mentioned I had never had address that went past my knees and for a while I was wishing I had gotten it knee length exactly but once I paired it with heels I changed my mind.  I decided the dress needed a little something extra so I paired it with a brown belt and a pop of color with a pair of red heels (both borrowed from Jenny!)

Overall I had a fantastic experience with eShakti.  I would 100% recommend using them if you have a hard time finding clothing that fits you just right.  Providing your exact measurements makes a world of difference!  The clothes are made to fit you, you don’t have to be made to fit the clothes and that is my favorite thing about eShakti.  The pricing for the clothes is slightly more than I would normally spend but I figure that since they are making the clothes specifically to fit you, in the end it’s worth it to pay a little more than normal.

Here are a few of my favorites from the site that just may need to find homes in my closet at some point!

You can find more about eShakti on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

eShakti is offering Places I Will Go readers 10% off by using the code “kathleennorris”.  It is valid from 9/14-10/14!

Go check them out! You’ll love it! I know I did! 🙂

Linking up with Jenn for What’s “Ha-pinning”!

Disclaimer: I was given an item of my choice from eShakti in exchange for my honest review of their products and services.  All opinions are my own. 

"In Fair Verona Where We Lay Our Scene….."

After a delightful and refreshing day and night on Lake Como, we boarded that bus for one last time and made our way to Venice.  Along the way we stopped for a delightful and very warm afternoon in Verona.
I was particularly excited to see Verona, because Romeo and Juliet has always been one of my favorite plays.  That’s the actual play not the really weird Baz Lurhmann Romeo and Juliet starring my future husband. (Leonardo DiCaprio, duh).  And I’m happy to report that the city itself did not disappoint.  It was the cutest little city and I really wish we could have gotten the opportunity to see more of the city.  
Since we had such a limited time in the city itself we had to stick to the more popular and therefore more touristy areas of the city.  But something tells me that if we had had the chance to go further in we would have seen an entirely different side of Verona.  
We started our afternoon in the main square adjacent to the Colloseum and had about an hour and half to grab a quick bite to each.  So we spread out and chose a restaurant close to the location of our meeting place for our guided walking tour.
I wasn’t starving at the this point so I went with something light and delicious.  A caprese salad with homemade mozzarella cheese!  It was delicious and exactly what I was in the mood for on this very warm afternoon.   Jenny  opted for the horse meat stew.  Yep, you read that right. HORSE meat stew. It was served over gnocchi and tasted exactly like pot roast.  Obviously I couldn’t pass up the chance to try horse.  Apparently it is a pretty common thing to eat in both Verona and Venice.  

After lunch we met up with our tour guide for our guided sightseeing tour of the city.  She did a fantastic job of sharing stories about the history of the city as well as some fun facts about modern day Verona as well.  For example, apparently Leonardo DiCaprio travels to Verona a lot and was considering purchasing the apartment that is at the top of the yellow building on the left.  The area with the balcony and above is one apartment and he was going to buy it sometime last year.  He knew I would love Verona and was buying it as a love nest for the two of us.  ; )

We walked past the Colosseum located in the main square is older than the Colosseum in Rome and is used as a an opera house today.  One thing I found interesting was the fact they have all the props for each of the operas that are preformed inside the Colosseum in piles outside of the Colosseum itself surrounded by small fences.  They are not protected or covered at all.  I think this says a lot about the city itself.  They can leave expensive props out in the open and not really worry about whether people will steal them or graffiti on  them.

I hope to catch a opera the next time I’m in Verona!

We continued out tour through out the rest of the city stopping at most of the cities highlights including, Juliet’s Balcony (typically packed and full of tourists and pick pockets), we wandered through some of the older parts of the city where Ancient Roman ruins can be seen and admired, and ended at the old city gate that welcomed into Ancient Verona during Roman times.  
And now I will let some pictures speak for themselves! Enjoy!

This was one of my favorite squares.  It was surrounded by buildings that were built during each century.  Beginning with the 14th century and ending with the 19th century.  The buildings you see here were built during the 16th and 17th century.  I thought this was a fantastic way to celebrate the history of the city through its architecture.  

The tour ended at what was once the gate to Ancient Verona.  Still intact and gorgeous, connecting the ancient world with the modern one.

As I said,  I really liked Verona but like with most places I wish we had just a little more time to explore and enjoy the city.  It’s the perfect city to spend a day or two in and is easily accessible on your to or while in Venice.  After leaving Verona, we had about a two and half hour bus ride before we hit The Floating City.

Which you can read all about next week!! 🙂

Linking up for:

Party Like A Clooney

The beginning of our second week in Europe, found us crossing from Switzerland into Italy.  We traveled by bus once again through the Swiss Alps into the Italian speaking region of Switzerland and then finally into northern Italy itself.  It was an absolutely gorgeous drive.  We got pretty lucky in the scenery department as we drove through each country.  Makes me wish I could drive though scenery like that every day.
Once we got into Italy we has just a short drive until we reached Como.  Now I will say that once we got into Como proper, the drive took a cringe-worthy turn.  The streets in Como are incredibly narrow and were clearly NOT meant for huge touristy charter buses to drive through.  I swear we cringed about 100 times as drove along the winding roads that make up this cute little town that George Clooney has decided to call home.  
Eventually we made it to our destination, which was a dock where a boat was waiting to take us across the lake to Bellagio.  Here was our view of the lake on the short trip from Como to Bellagio. 

Once we got into Bellagio we headed straight for a private lunch.  We got to sit outside and enjoy the lovely Italian heat (which actually wasn’t terrible, there was a nice breeze coming off of the lake) and some absolutely gorgeous views of the lake.

After lunch we had about 2 hours to wander the town.  We had the best time strolling through the stoned streets of the town.  We wandered through various stores, including a store that sold the famous Bellagio silk scarfs.  I bought one for my best friend, my mom and myself.  Then we just explored the town and I snapped away like a true tourist and got some pretty great shots of the town itself.

Right before we had to be back at the boat dock we grabbed our first of MANY cones/cups of gelato. I had the hazelnut flavored for my first taste and it did not disappoint! 
We then boarded our boat for what we found out was a private hour and half tour around the lake itself.  It was probably one of then best parts of the whole trip.  We had so much fun enjoying the scenery and snapping pictures of the group and each other.  But I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

We sailed by this famous villa, Villa del Balbianello, which had been featured in several Hollywood films including Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones.  We sailed by it several times and even saw a wedding going on at the villa.  It looked like the picture perfect wedding from afar and I’m sure up close it was just as pretty.  The villa is located in Lenno, which is one of the little towns/provinces of Como.

I know at some point we passed the villa that George Clooney purchased and lives at for most of the year.  Apparently he’s learned quite a bit of Italian and the locals are no longer star struck by him because he’s around so often.  We couldn’t pin point exactly which was his, but I’m still telling people I saw his villa.  I 100% see why George loves it so much though.  The area is just gorgeous and I was not ready to leave it when our tour was over.

After our delightful afternoon on the boat we were dropped off right at our hotel.  We stayed at the Albergo Lenno in Lenno and I have to say, it was probably one of my favorite hotels of the trip.  We had the biggest room ever (we each had our own queen sized bed) and our room was right next to the pool.  We were given a real key rather than a plastic card too!  The hotel staff was amazing, so friendly and accommodating.

This was our private boat!

Once we got to the hotel we threw on our swim suits and headed to the “beach” (I put that in quotations because it was a rocky beach, not a sandy beach, so it wasn’t really a beach at all) and took a little big in the lake itself.  It was cold but not too cold and there were a bunch of other people partaking in the same activity so we were in good company.

After our little jaunt into the lake we headed back to the hotel to change and then walked down the street from our hotel to have our first Italian meal that was absolutely delicious.  And of course more gelato! 🙂

We had the best afternoon and night on Lake Como.  I wish we could have spend another night (heck a whole week) in and around the cute little area of northern Italy but sadly we had to board our bus for the last time and head to the city of love!

Lake Como was my second favorite city of the trip (well third because London will always be my favorite) and I would not hate it one little bit if I went back one day.  In fact it would make the perfect honeymoon location!  Now I just need to find someone to go on a honeymoon with me! 🙂

Be sure to come back next week (on Tuesday.  It’s been a crazy week) because I’ll be sharing all about  our afternoon in fair Verona!