Category Archives: spring

Is it too late for an Easter post?

According to my priest it’s not.

Easter marks the beginning of a season of celebration and new beginnings so technically I’m not late in delivering this Easter cupcake recipe to you.

Technically, I’m right on time!

And I’m not just emphasizing my punctuality because my husband told me mass started at 8:30 last Sunday when it really started at 8:45 to get me out the door in time.

I’d like the record to show that I made it to church on time for many years before I met him.

Thanks, mom! 

banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,

Planned out or last-minute, these cupcakes are great for any spring celebration. I’m actually not a big fan of coconut, but I’m a sucker for a cute bird’s nest and toasted coconut makes the cutest bird’s nests so coconut it is. (note: If you are a coconut lover, you can add coconut flavoring to the icing and/or shredded coconut to the batter)

banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,

Banana Carrot Cupcakes (adapted from How Sweet Eats)

  • 2 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 C melted butter (substitute coconut oil)
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 C grated carrots
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C buttermilk

banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with liners.

Toast coconut in a thin layer (I use a silpat) until just slightly browned. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, blend sugar and butter. Add eggs. Add bananas, carrots and vanilla until well combined.

Add half of dry ingredients and mix together (being careful not to overmix). Add buttermilk and remaining dry ingredients.

Using a 1/4 cup scoop, fill cupcake liners until they are 3/4 way full.

(Or, if you’re like me, accidentally forget the buttermilk and remember after you’ve already filled your cupcake liners, scrape everything back in the bowl and add buttermilk)

Bake 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  •  

     

    1 1/2 blocks of cold cream cheese

  • Blue Gel Food coloring
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Toasted unsweetened flaked coconut
  • Cadbury mini eggs

In a stand mixer, whip cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar. Add in vanilla extract and food coloring until you get a robin’s egg blue (or until your sister tells you it looks unappetizingly gray).

Ice cupcakes and top with coconut and cadbury mini eggs.

banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,banana carrot cupcakes, easter cupcakes, baby bird's nest cupcakes, coconut, banana, carrot, dessert, baking, holiday, spring, robin egg cupcakes,

Oh and I almost forgot to mention the best part, these cupcakes are basically more fruit and veggies than they are dessert so you can eat them without any guilt whatsoever.

 

Hello Spring. 

So how do you survive your first winter back in the Midwest after living in Florida?christmas in florida, holidays, florida,
Don’t blog about it and it’s like it didn’t even happen.

Not sure whether there is a joke or an excuse in there, but I needed a transition so take it for what it is.

Truth is our first winter back has been pretty mild. And only in terms of temperature.

But if you’re gauging it on social engagements and work schedules, it’s been red hot. Most likely from a combination of living closer to friends and family, low housing inventory and increased demand for local athletic training services.

I’ll save you the apologies for my absence in this particular corner of the internet and instead bring you up to speed with photo montages and random things our dog has eaten (and had surgically removed) since we last talked (spoiler alert: it’s my favorite cashmere scarf).

superbowl cookies, football cookies, superbowl, dessert, sugar cookies, royal icing

Super Bowl Sunday

valentine's day dessert, yogurt covered strawberries, ombre strawberries, dessert,

Galentine’s Day Brunch

St. Louis Blues Hockey, Blues,

First St. Louis Blues Game

spring, tulips, whole foods, st. louis, flowers

Visiting Flowers at Whole Foods

gender neutral tassel garland, gender reveal, tissue banner, tassel garland

Saeger Gender Reveal Tassel Garland

valentine's day cookies, m&m cookies, baking, cookies, holiday

A Valentine’s M&M cookie recipe not worth sharing

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd

Watching my favorite show on T.V.

Finn, greater swiss mountain dog, finnegan, swissy, gsmd

Showing off my new belly scar

And since I’ve had this draft for several weeks now, it seems like as good a time as any to do a St. Patrick’s Day recap of recipes I used to make when I was fun.

Trifles and Patriotism

What’s red, white and blue and inappropriately timed on a random weekend between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July?

Sarah’s version of a triple berry trifle of course.

Because why would someone make this in time for the first patriotic holiday of the year, or instead wait until the second patriotic holiday of the year when they could randomly decide to bring it to a friend’s house for dessert on a completely plain Sunday?

If the above statement sounds like you then we should be friends. If you are my husband, stop rolling your eyes at yet another moment when your wife threw things together at the last minute and pretended like it was in the works all along. That’s just how she rolls and you married her so let’s just grab a spoon and dig in together shall we?

triple berry trifle, summer desserts, fruit, trifle recipes, fourth of july recipes, memorial day recipes, strawberry shortcake trifle

triple berry trifle, summer desserts, fruit, trifle recipes, fourth of july recipes, memorial day recipes, strawberry shortcake trifle

The nice thing about trifles is that they are fairly easy to make. In fact, it typically takes more time to gather and chop the ingredients than it does to put the entire thing together.

triple berry trifle, summer desserts, fruit, trifle recipes, fourth of july recipes, memorial day recipes, strawberry shortcake trifle

You may remember this recipe from a few years ago. If you want to revisit it and see how cute and tiny my friend’s little girl was at the time, head on over to the previous post to check it out.

triple berry trifle, summer desserts, fruit, trifle recipes, fourth of july recipes, memorial day recipes, strawberry shortcake trifle

If you’re like me and you remake a recipe forgetting that you actually made and posted it already three years ago then stick around and read below for the aforementioned triple berry trifle revisited.

triple berry trifle, summer desserts, fruit, trifle recipes, fourth of july recipes, memorial day recipes, strawberry shortcake trifle

Triple Berry Trifle (feeds 4-6 or 1-2 depending on how hungry the fellas are)

  • 1 package shortcake cups, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint raspberries

Pudding Layer:

  • 6 TBL sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 C cold water
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 9 oz fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

In a medium bowl, whisk water and sweetened condensed milk until combined. Add pudding mix and stir for another minute or so. Let mixture set for 1-2 minutes. Fold in cool whip. Set aside.

triple berry trifle, summer desserts, fruit, trifle recipes, fourth of july recipes, memorial day recipes, strawberry shortcake trifle

Start with a layer of cake and then alternate blueberries/raspberries, pudding mixture and sliced strawberries. Repeat until you reach desired height, run out of ingredients, or just become disgusted at just how large that trifle dish is. Feel free to get creative once you reach the top layer or just copy the photo like I do whenever I’m re-creating a recipe “on my own.”

triple berry trifle, summer desserts, fruit, trifle recipes, fourth of july recipes, memorial day recipes, strawberry shortcake trifle

Confessions of a lonely extrovert

Editor’s note: I started writing this post two weeks ago when Matt was still in France. Then I picked it up and finished it a week ago after my family left town except I never hit publish. Please forgive me for the segmented nature of the following excerpts. Just further proof of my struggle as a halfway blogger.

They say introverts relish in quiet time alone. That spending too much time in a loud setting with lots of activity and people can cause them to shut down in an effort to conserve energy. That downtime is not a waste of time but rather necessary and satisfying.

I am not an introvert.

So you can imagine how an extremely extroverted person deals with their spouse being away on a work trip for 12 days?

  • First and foremost, she has a lot of conversations with her dog.
  • She also shops because well, shopping, but also the majority of retail workers are also extraverts and she finds comfort in random musings with strangers.
  • She spends equal amounts of time at the gym and fresh kitchen.
  • She bakes.

Yes, you read that correctly. She bakes. She finally throws some flour and sugar in a bowl a bakes a flippin’ cake. Remember when this blog actually had photos of cakes in regular rotation?

layer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakeMuch to the delight of both my mother and mother-in-law, I did not spend Easter alone. Which is good, because it would have been incredibly awkward to eat this entire cake by myself while binge-watching Fuller House* on Netflix. Instead, I took it over to my co-worker’s house in celebration of both Jesus and she and her husband’s birthdays that weekend. The spouses birthdays and Jesus houdini-ing himself out of the tomb of course.

I appreciate the concern of my mother(s). After all, I do mention nearly every month that [insert holiday] is my favorite holiday so I can understand their sympathy calls and flight searches at the thought of me spending one alone. Fortunately, both seemed happy to hear that I was bribing my way into someone else’s home with four layers of sugary sunshine and the return of Matt and a visit from my sister just a few days later.

*Let’s discuss the awkwardness that is Fuller House another time

layer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakelayer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakelayer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cake

Easter Layer Cake 

  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened (can substitute 1/2 C vegetable shortening if you want)
  • 3 C sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 C flour (sifted)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Ideally this is the time to grease and flour all four of your cake pans. Oh you don’t have four cake pans? Me neither. I somehow only have three so grease and flour what you have and set aside.

In a stand mixer, whip butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar 1 cupat a time. Add eggs one at a time until each is combined.

In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

In a liquid measure, combine milk, buttermilk and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients into wet one cup at a time, alternatingbetween milk mixture and flour. Try not to overmix.

Place four medium bowls out on your counter. Divide batter into each bowl evenly. For me it was just under 2 cups of batter per bowl. I like to use gel food coloring as I find it’s a little more accurate. For this version, I just used my pastel set of gel colors and added them separately to each 2 cup bowl.

Once your layers are colored, pour the first two into your two baking pans andbake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. These layers are thin so they will cook relatively quick.

Remove from oven and let cool on rack for 5-10 minutes. Add a layer of parchment or wax paper to your rack before you flip them out of the pan to make turning easier for you when they are cool.

layer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakeButtercream Icing

Once your second batch is out of the oven and cooling you can start on your buttercream icing. This stuff is indulgent so I usually keep it pretty thin. That being said both times I’ve made this cake I’ve had to make extra buttercream icing to get it covered so go ahead and make a bunch.

Buttercream Icing

  • 3-4 C powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 TBL whipping cream

Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Cream butter in a stand mixer and add powdered sugar slowly so as not to go all King James on your kitchen. Add vanilla and cream and whip it until peaks form. Refrigerate it until you are ready to ice the cake.

Once your layers are cool, wrap each of them in plastic wrap and freeze them for a few minutes. this will make the icing process much easier. Do a rough ice and then finish it off with, you guess it, more buttercream.

Top it with a little toasted coconut and Cadbury mini eggs and your ready to go! layer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakelayer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cakelayer cake, easter cake, baking, pastel layer cake, rainbow layer cake, vanilla cake, dessert, Easter, birds nest cake topper, robin eggs, white layer cake

 

Wedding Snapshots: Bridal Party

You know this whole newlywed thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sure it started off easy enough. Honeymoon in Italy. Frequent trips to Crate and Barrel to buy more ramekins. Date nights every weekend.

But then three months go by and you find yourself feeling isolated and filling the time with conversations with your dog. OK, so you’ve always talked to the dog but last week you were somewhat convinced he actually had an opinion on which direction you began your evening walk.

They say communication is the key to a good relationship and considering I received a bachelors degree in it, I’d have to agree, but I’d go ahead and put an addendum in it that added the following:

FaceTime.

FaceTime. Saving marriages where one party goes to Prague for 11 days, comes back for 4, leaves for Manchester another 14 days, comes back for 10, leaves for Mexico for 7 days, comes back for 14 and then spends the remainder of October in Chile. Not that I’m counting the days or anything.

Technology is an amazing thing. Sure the time difference can be tough and the frequency in which you bounce ideas off the dog instead of your new husband a little odd, but the truth is, being able to communicate with someone even when they’re across the globe for work is pretty awesome.

I’ve always considered myself a pretty independent person. If independence is defined as someone who surrounds herself with family and friends and loved ones because she feels more whole when she’s spending time with others than when she’s by herself. See also needy extrovert.

So what are you getting at with your facetious references to marital woes and global technology, Sarah?

I’m so glad you ask.

I’m starting to think distance may in fact make the heart grow fonder? At least it seems to be working for me as it relates to Matt, my family and our friends.

When your social circle shrinks exponentially whether it be due to a cross country move, the addition of children or a busy work schedule, your blessings really seem to come into focus.

Blessings in the form of friends and family who take time to reach out amongst their busy schedules. Who maintain friendships over the years even as shared interests and activities wane and who most recently, spend time and money to be a special part of your wedding day, not getting nearly enough credit or publicity for doing so:

bridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearer bridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearer bridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearerbridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearer bridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearerbridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearerbridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearerbridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearerbridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearerbridal party, wedding photos, springfield illinois wedding, wright photographs, bridesmaids, groomsmen, jcrew, flower girl, ring bearer

So I’d like to invite you to the grand opening of the Murphalewski B&B this September. No pressure to book early, but I should mention that our beach was recently named #1 in the USA on TripAdvisor and we have over 250 days of sunshine annually.

See you soon!

Newlywed Brunch

Remember when I used to share recipes on the blog?

Yeah me neither.

But believe it or not, I do still cook every once in a while. So what if I made these two months ago. Or that I’ve had the photos sitting on my camera ever since just reminding me how good they would probably taste if I had them again.

So I figured why not share the recipe with you so you can drool over them and likely bookmark the recipe to keep pushing off for when you actually find time to make brunch again, too.

oatmeal yogurt pancakes with blackberry crush, newlywed cookbook, blackberry, breakfast, pancakes, yogurt, brunch,

 

I’ve been loving The Newlywed Cookbook lately for its simplicity and fresh ideas. Let’s just say I tackle cooking like I tackle my wardrobe. I will re-wear the same 5 pieces of clothing over and over again before I make use of the hundreds of other items I have in my closet. And when I realized I had everything on hand to make this oat/yogurt/blackberry jam of a recipe, well, I put on my white t-shirt and jeans and made a morning out of it. (OK so it was yoga pants and a workout tank you get the point).

Warning: Rich flavors on the horizon.

 

oatmeal yogurt pancakes with blackberry crush, newlywed cookbook, blackberry, breakfast, pancakes, yogurt, brunch, Oatmeal-Yogurt Pancakes

  • 1 2/3 C all purpose flour
  • 2/3 C old fashioned oats (can sub rolled)
  • 2 TBL sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C plain Greek yogurt (plus a little extra for garnish)
  • 1 C buttermilk (sub whole milk)
  • 4 TBL unsalted butter (melted)
  • 2 large eggs

In a large mixing bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Blend yogurt, buttermilk, melted butter and eggs in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until they are combined.

While your cast-iron skillet heats to medium, mash 2 cups of blackberries with 1/4 cup of sugar. Strain the juice into a small saucepan and set the berries aside. Heat the juice over medium heat until it thickens to a syrup-like consistency. Remove from heat and add a few teaspoons of pure maple syrup. Once it cools, pour over berries.

Spoon 1/3 cup of batter into your heated skillet and cook until bubbles form on top of pancake. If you’re anything like me it takes you 3-4 pancakes to really get your temperature right. But oh how #4 turns out!

Serve pancakes with berries and garnish with a little greek yogurt.

oatmeal yogurt pancakes with blackberry crush, newlywed cookbook, blackberry, breakfast, pancakes, yogurt, brunch,

Take a nap.

oatmeal yogurt pancakes with blackberry crush, newlywed cookbook, blackberry, breakfast, pancakes, yogurt, brunch,

 

Wedding Snapshots: the details

When it comes to wedding and party photos, I’m a sucker for detail shots. And if you’re a sucker for detail shots then we should be best friends. Which is pretty much what our photographer and I became as soon as I looked at her work and saw that she appreciated the little details just as much as I do.

zalewski_bk_0033

There’s just something in the details. Don’t get me wrong, you may not get the same emotion with a detail shot as you do with a candid, but I love the way that the details give you a feel for the entire day. As if the theme (if there is one) is all wrapped up into a pretty little detailed package.

zalewski_bk_0050

So without further ado, here are some details from our wedding day taken by the talented Wright Photographs out of Champaign.
zalewski_bk_0031zalewski_bk_0075 zalewski_bk_0113 zalewski_bk_0138 zalewski_bk_0159 zalewski_bk_0333 zalewski_bk_0343 zalewski_bk_0454zalewski_bk_0453zalewski_bk_0455zalewski_bk_0464 zalewski_bk_0466 zalewski_bk_0468 zalewski_bk_0469 zalewski_bk_0470 zalewski_bk_0476 zalewski_bk_0483 zalewski_bk_0508 zalewski_bk_0554 zalewski_bk_0555 zalewski_bk_0558 zalewski_bk_0559 zalewski_bk_0639

All Roads Lead to Rome

Believe it or not it’s finally time to wrap up our tour of Rome and end the honeymoon. And unlike our quick 10 day visit, if we count blog time, you’ve been there for nearly a month so you’re practically a resident.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

But there’s still so much to see. The Trevi Fountain.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo, spanish steps, trevi fountain

The Spanish Steps. Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo, spanish steps, trevi fountain Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo, spanish steps, trevi fountain

The Pope!

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangeloWe were told that Vatican City was about 40 minutes from our hotel so we decided to make the most of a warm 85-90 degree day (all acclimated now that we live in Florida) and walk. We made our way down through Piazzo Novana to take another look at the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (fountain of four rivers) which was designed by Bernini, who studied under Michelangelo and was known for his attention to detail (i.e. Matt Zalewski biceps).

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

Each corner represents a major river. The Nile representing Africa, the Danube representing Europe, the Ganges representing Asia, and the Río de la Plata representing the Americas. Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

A quick walk across the Tiber and we approached Vatican City. It was a good day to explore the area as there was a parade downtown in celebration of Republic Day so we avoided the crowds and got to see a little of the fly-over along the way.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

Whether you celebrate Catholicism or not, Vatican City is a must if you’re heading to Rome. When we arrived, we did as most tourists do and got into the longest line we could find, inching forward to see St. Peters Basilica and hovering in any sliver of shade we could find along the way.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo

It’s hard to explain a church known as one of the greatest of all Christendom but let’s just say good ol’ St. Peter lived up to the hype. Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo IMG_5196 Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangeloWe grabbed a bite to eat at a local spot recommended by our friend John, who lives in the area, and spent the rest of the afternoon working our way through the Vatican Museum and towards the Sistine Chapel. If we were allowed to take photos in the Sistine Chapel or even speak above a whisper, we still could not translate the beauty and history of one of the most famous pieces of art in history.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangeloWe wrapped day 3 in rome and day 10 in Italy with dinner at a local spot recommended by our concierge and finally, a bottle of wine worth remembering. In fact, the waiter let us take another bottle with us and if we can last long enough, we are hopeful to enjoy it next May to continue celebrating the trip of a lifetime.

Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo Vatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangeloVatican, Rome, Italy, honeymoon in italy, roma, vatican city, pope, sistine chapel, st peters basilica, bernini,  michelangelo, giolitti, gelatociao Roma!

 

 

 

Wedding Snapshots: The Groom

You know who doesn’t get enough fuss at a wedding?

The Groom.

wedding, groomsmen, groom, navy blue suit, springfield illinois wedding, spring wedding, downtown springfield, gray suits,

And why not? Last time I checked, they were just as much a part of the 1+1+1=1 equation as the bride. (For those of you who with an engineering background, the extra one is representative of God) And yet, here they stand on the wedding day, looking all relaxed and sipping bourbon after their long morning workout. Meanwhile, when their bride attempted to go for a run, she got 10 minutes out and realized she didn’t in fact have time for it and spent the rest of the morning just trying to stop sweating long enough for the makeup artist to finish up thus killing any chance at an endorphin release for the next 12 hours.

wedding, groomsmen, groom, navy blue suit, springfield illinois wedding, spring wedding, downtown springfield, gray suits,

But this is about the groom, remember? And what a handsome groom he was. And today, some 65 days since we made our vows to love one another as long as we both shall live, we celebrate the birthday that puts him two years closer to the finish line than I am.

groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding

 

Kidding.

I think we all know he’s far too healthy and stubborn to go before I do.

groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding

 

So here’s a montage of my handsome groom in celebration of his 33rd birthday. A post he’ll 80 percent scoff at, and 20% secretly love.

groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding

groom, wedding, springfield illinois wedding, blue suits, jcrew, tommy hilfiger, family, wedding

 

Are you ready for some ruins?!

It’s Day two in Rome and you’ve got a date with a Gladiator in the Colosseum.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

There are several career paths you’re now husband has mentioned over the years that fit his personality type and high tolerance for pain. Firefighter. Police Officer. Top secret member of the U.S. Army Special Forces or Navy Seal. But a Gladiator? Weren’t they all unfortunate criminals or prisoners of war with no citizenship? Sure, some of the attributes line up: brute strength, athleticism, courage and enough craziness to fight to the death, but who would choose that path? Well, if you measure it in giddiness and chatter during our tour of the Colosseum, he would.

And apparently he wouldn’t be the only one. Even free men opted to enter the ring in search of glory and prize money. Confident in your abilities, my dear, but happy it’s no longer an option for you.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Having a hard time picturing what all this rock is about? Let’s revisit a classic scene to put us in the Gladiator spirit.

That’s better.

It’s really hard to believe this building still stands after thousands of years, earthquakes, floods and fires, but it does. There are parts of the massive arena that still showcase the original marble flooring as well as a reconstructed area that simulates what it looked like in its prime.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

You try not to compare it to familiar places like Soldier Field, but it’s hard not to when so many of today’s mega-stadiums resemble the same framework the Colosseum originated so many years ago. roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Now uncovered, the area below the main floor housed two levels of compartments and included trap doors that could spring the animal up onto the main stage to excite the audience and challenge the gladiator. Kind of reminded me of the bushes behind my old Montessori school where I used to run an imaginary zoo. Much friendlier animals in my care, of course.
roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Thanks to high-end designers like Tod’s and Fendi, historic sites like the Colosseum and Trevi fountain are getting the funding for much-needed restorations that they otherwise couldn’t afford. Check out this recent 60 Minutes episode to learn more. It’s really fascinating.  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

 

IMG_5130

We wrapped the Colosseum tour and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find our way out of the fiery maze that was the Roman Forum. Fortunately we had learned a lot about it the day before so the main focus became trying not to suffer heat stroke and keep our minds clear. The fresh water fountains helped.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

One of my favorite parts of the forum and surrounding hills were the contrast of bright poppies and fresh water against the red and brown rubble.
roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

Remember popular 90’s game Labyrinth? Yeah it was kind of like that. roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

That saying, all roads lead to Rome? Thanks to Augustus, technically all roads lead to this rock.  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

After the forum, we headed back towards the hotel to try what our guide John said to be the most authentic and homemade gelato in the city. And with a line out the door 100 or so flavor offerings, I’d say he was right.

roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,  roma, rome, honeymoon in italy, colosseum, gladiator, ruins, roman forum, vacation, honeymoon,

We wrapped day two with an evening aperitivo on the rooftop followed by a heaping plate of carbonara. IMG_0423_2 IMG_0425

When in Rome!