Travel: Florence, Italy

After our time in Venice, we made our way back inland.  Stopping briefly in Ferrara (just long enough for me to buy more socks & a light jacket -- it was so cold!) & across the Apennine Mountains into Tuscany, we arrived in Florence, "Cradle of the Renaissance".

We only had about a day and 1/2 in Florence and it rained a good portion while we were there (thus the drab photos), but I was still glad we got the chance to see a sliver of Florence.  Like Rome, I was a bit turned off by all the tourists and street vendors, but getting to see these views made up for the crowded streets.

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

When we first arrived in Florence, it was late-afternoon and raining.  We walked through Piazza Santa Croce & did the perfect activity for a rainy afternoon... we went shopping!

Travel: Piazza Santa Croce,  Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

We were definitely enticed by all the Florentine leather goods & jewelry.  I got to model a 750 Euro coat at Misuri that felt like butter.  I didn't walk away with the jacket, but Zac purchased a new belt & money clip.  He had them both stamped with his initials in gold leaf -- practical keepsakes from our time in Florence.

Misuri | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Misuri | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

We ended our first evening in Florence with dinner at Casa Toscana where we were served a dinner of local specialties accompanied by a large selection of wines.  It was delicious!

Casa Toscana | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Casa Toscana | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days


Day Two in Florence started bright & early with a guided walking tour of the Academy of Fine Arts where we got to see Michelangelo's David.  Photos don't do it an ounce of justice, it's really amazing in "real life" and quite massive.

Michelangelo's David | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Michelangelo's David | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Michelangelo's David | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

After that, we wandered throughout Piazza della Signoria.

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Then we admired the Florence Cathedral, Giotto's Bell Tower (which we would later climb!), and the Baptistry's heavy bronze "Gate of Paradise"

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
Gate of Paradise | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Then we found a snack:

Gelato | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days











We decided to get a bird's eye view of Florence & climb Giotto's Bell Tower, which is a free-standing structure that is part of the complex of buildings that make up the Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo.  It's 414 steps & is not recommended for people who suffer from heart problems, vertigo, or claustrophobia... but I did it anyway :)

Giotto's Bell Tower Views | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Giotto's Bell Tower Views | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Giotto's Bell Tower Views | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
Giotto's Bell Tower | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Giotto's Bell Tower Views | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Giotto's Bell Tower Views | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Giotto's Bell Tower Views | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Giotto's Bell Tower Views | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Giotto's Bell Tower Views | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

After that trek, we worked up an appetite & had a yummy lunch before exploring more of Florence.

Pizza | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days




























Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
We found the bronze beast who eats the coins of visitors who come asking for good luck & walk away rubbing the snout the pig making it golden & shiny.


Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
Next, we walked over the Ponte Vecchio, which during World War II, was the only bridge across the Arno River that the German's did not destroy. 

Ponte Vecchio | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
Ponte Vecchio | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

The bridge is lined with shops on either side, and while we were on it, we happened to catch a parade.

Ponte Vecchio | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days


Ponte Vecchio | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
Ponte Vecchio | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
Ponte Vecchio | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

After a full day exploring the city, we enjoyed the taste, smell & hospitality of Tuscany with dinner at Ristorante I Tre Pini, which was easily the BEST MEAL of our entire trip.  I am still dreaming about that ravioli in truffle sauce. 

Ristorante I Tre Pini | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

Ristorante I Tre Pini | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days
Also, they serve the BEST wine I've ever had.  We ended up ordering two cases of wine to have shipped home (our favorites were the Italian Sparklers: Volare, Blumond, Splendia -- and all but one bottle is sadly all gone). 

Fratelli Saraceni Wine | Travel: Florence, Italy | My Darling Days

My fondest memory in Florence was that meal.  Not only was the food & drink spectacular, but the people we were with made it memorable as well.

Up next, Pisa!
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Did you read about our time in Rome: here, here and here?
What about Assisi & Venice?
And don't forget about the colorful Burano Island!

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Second Trimester Recap

Ladies – it’s true what they say about the 2nd trimester, at least for me.  It’s the honeymoon trimester!  I felt good, I had some energy back, and some moments of the day, dare I even say that I kind of forgot I was pregnant?  These last three months have been SO MUCH better than the first three months.

That being said though...



Here are the things that surprised me about my second trimester:

1. Itchy - I am SO SO SO itchy. I have pretty sensitive skin to begin with, and all the stretching going on is making me itch so badly!  Some days are worse than others, but I think some of it has to do with those darn high waisted maternity pants.  The fabric against my skin is just so uncomfortable. I do moisturize daily with Burt's Bees Momma Bee Belly Butter (I love that it's scentless & non-greasy, thanks for the recommendation, Lis!) -- I can't image how itchy I'd be if I didn't.

2. Stuffy nose /congestion - It’s the worst at night.  I lay down in bed, and can’t breathe out of my nose.  So I breathe out of my mouth and then my throat gets dry, my lips get chapped, and I might even snore. God Bless Zac for putting up with me. And God Bless Aquaphor -- my favorite lip protectant. 

3. Nose bleeds - I think it's partially due to pregnancy, and partially due to the dry air.  Couple that with blowing my nose all the time, and bam. Every once in a while, it will bleed.  I recently purchased this humidifier that I run in our room at night a few times a week, so I'm hoping that helps!

4. Charley horses -  I've had a couple in my feet and calves since becoming pregnant and ouch!!! SO PAINFUL!!!

5. Mobility issues - It’s becoming harder to get out of bed, to put my socks & shoes on, and it's harder to pick up crumbs off the floor.  Where did all my stomach muscles go?!

6. Free stuff - People want to give you their hand-me-downs: maternity clothes, toys, books, baby items... it's wonderful & very appreciated!

7. Baby movement - And lots of it! This is obviously the best feeling in the entire world.  Zac & I joke that our babe is either playing soccer in there or doing ballet.  I think baby has restless legs like his/her rmomma ;)

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Some dates/moments I never want to forget:

9/24/16 – Week 17: Felt baby move for the first time!  We were at the First Annual Annoye Patio Parade Party (such a fun day!), sitting around Jamie & Travis’s campfire.  I felt a little “bubble pop” feeling in my tummy and got instant chills.  It happened a few more times that day, and has continued ever since.  BEST FEELING EVER!

Week 17: Started wearing maternity pants this week… to be fair, I had been using a belly band or the hair tie trick weeks prior to this, but week 17 is when I said good bye to all my old jeans & work pants.

10/6/16 – Week 19: Zac was able to feel baby kick for the first time! 

10/20/16 – Week 21: Zac & I can SEE baby movement in my belly!

11/16/16 – Week 24: Felt baby hiccups for the first time, at 3:10 AM!

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What did you love about your second trimester?

Click HERE for my First Trimester Recap

Elena's Memory Book: A Gift Idea

What do you get a child that has everything and needs nothing?

A memory.  A memory lasts forever...

When I came across this Story Starter Memory Book from Pinhole Press, I instantly knew it would be the perfect Christmas gift for my Godchild Elena.  It's the ideal way to foster her creativity and savor all those memories that we've made over the last year together.  And, it won't be another toy collecting dust in the corner (I hope!)

The cover

Plus, it was very easy to create.  You just upload your photos, drag & drop them into the sheets of the book, and then the recipient gets to fill the blank space around the photo with art to describe their memory.  Each page includes a few lines for writing about the picture...  and little hand kid writing is the very best.





I love that Elena can look back on these memories and her drawings, at age 6.  She'll have a vivid and colorful memory diary that she can cherish forever!


*This post is not sponsored in any way, I just love their products & wanted to share a good thing!


Christmas Nostalgia

This time of the year always brings back so many memories.

Christmas traditions (and Christmas movies!) are some of my very favorite memories.  My parents always made this time of the year so special for us, and I hope to do the same for our little babe.

A few memories I will never forget...

- Christmas jammie photos

Christmas Nostalgia | My Darling Days

- Begging dad to bring up the Christmas decor boxes from the basement immediately following Thanksgiving. I loved to help mom decorate -- she always had the best decorations (she still does). My very favorite was the mantel above the fireplace, because that is where our stockings hung.  I love that she hand-stitched each of our names on our stockings.

Christmas Nostalgia | My Darling Days

- Going to the tree farm as a family & dad cutting down our Christmas tree.

- Going Christmas shopping as family -- Fleet Farm's Toy Land was always a stop on our list.  We would beg to go down the pink aisle (aka, the Barbie aisle) and while we were marveling at all the pink goodness, mom would be running around gathering toys in her cart and hiding them on us.

- Becky & I always had matching Christmas outfits...

Christmas Nostalgia | My Darling Days

Christmas Nostalgia | My Darling Days

- Dad in his blaze orange "onezie" snow suit putting up all my grandpa Elmer's homemade Christmas decorations outside.  We would help him for about 10 minutes, but then quickly lost interest... we had snow forts to make!

- Putting reindeer horns on Cuddles.

Christmas Nostalgia | My Darling Days

- Making turtles at grandma's house with my Aunt Jane -- her's are the very best!

- Always being spoiled rotten for Christmas (we still are).

But even if Christmas meant no presents, I'll never forget these memories.  As we've gotten older and married into new families, we have new traditions and memories, but these old ones will surely never fade.

I can't wait until we get to share some of these traditions, and make some new ones with our child next year.  Until then, Zac & I are savoring these last couple of months with just each other... and Grace!

Merry Christmas to all!