After travelling to London, New York City and the Blue Ridge Mountains this year, Raymond and I thought it would be interesting to visit another city where we could soak up a lot of history. Raymond was particularly interested in checking out old ruins and historic buildings, so we decided to make our way down to Rome, Italy!
It was incredibly hot while we were in Rome—possibly even hotter than when we went to South Korea last year. Let me tell you, when you live at the North Pole, you aren’t used to heat and humidity! In between purveying the sites, Raymond and I ducked into the shade and made sure to drink plenty of water.
For our first stop, Raymond and I visited the Pantheon, which was built nearly 2,000 years ago. Used as a Roman Catholic church since the 7th century, the Pantheon is beautiful and incredibly well-preserved.
Raymond in the hot sun outside the Pantheon
Admiring the coffered concrete dome and oculus inside the Pantheon
Tempted to hop into the water of the Fontana del Pantheon to cool off in Piazza della Rotonda
Next we decided to stop for some lunch. As you may remember, Raymond and I are both vegetarians, and thankfully there is a plethora of vegetarian Italian dishes. Some days we couldn’t decide… Pasta? Pizza? Salad? Gelato? All of the above?
About to chow down on a caprese salad. Yum!
Raymond and I could eat Italian cuisine all day, but we had other sights to see, so we ventured forth in the Roman sun. We came across a large building that turned out to be Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II. Built in the early 1900s, this monument was erected in honour of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy.
In front of Altare della Patria, also known as Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II
With the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the background
From Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, we passed the Roman Forum on our way to the Colosseum. Raymond was fascinated by the ruins, as some of them date back nearly 3,000 years!
Enjoying a visual history lesson
A trip to Rome would be incomplete without a visit to the Colosseum. Completed almost 2,000 years ago, the Colosseum is the largest amplitheatre in the world. Raymond and I both loved the Colosseum in its beautiful ruined state.
Excited to check out the Colosseum
Some estimates say the Colosseum could hold between 50,000–80,000 spectators—yowza!
Raymond and I had a blast in Italy, taking in the historical sites and tasty cuisine. Where else do you think Raymond went this year? Stay tuned to find out!
The stockings in this Etsy shop are so pretty, and each design is full of details that you may not notice at first glance. Take these his & hers stockings, for example. The stockings are quite lovely, but upon a closer look you will see mistletoe hanging from the stag’s antler. How cute and clever! These stockings would be a sweet gift for any couple—new or seasoned.
When you’re getting ready for a holiday soirée, it’s fun to add a dash of festive flair to your outfit. You could do this with jewelry or tights, but one of my favourite ways to jazz up a Christmas outfit is with a unique hair accessory. Whether you wear it to your company Christmas party or Christmas dinner, any of the headbands below will give your outfit that extra bit of merry.
This top hat fascinator is perfect for when you’re feelin’ festive and fancy.
The spray of red feathers on this swanky celebration feather fascinator cocktail hat will instantly upgrade any outfit. [Bonus idea: You could also wear this on a date on Valentine's Day!]
Add some subtle holiday cheer to a more casual outfit with these knotted headbands.
Just for giggles, you could don this mistletoe headband. Maybe your sweetie will even give you a smooch
If you’re an elf-wannabe, sport this elf hat headband along with some red and green striped tights.
An adorable statement piece, this oversized bow would look great with a little black dress and some sparkly jewelry.
Not only is this sequin green & red Christmas bow headband cute, but it also lights up!
Psst… All of these hair accessories are available for two-day shipping [some even with Amazon Prime], so you can still get them before this weekend!
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These chubby octopus ornaments are so adorable that they practically made me squeal with delight. Soft, squishable, and available in a variety of colours, one of these ornaments would be the perfect gift for the cephalopod lover in your life. FuzziMutt Creations also has larger octopus plushies for sale, and they are equally darling!
The winter months are chilly, but especially frigid for folks who don’t have the luxury of a cozy coat. One Warm Coat® has been collecting coats since 1992 and giving them to people in need. The organization has grown over the years and has given away nearly 4 million coats to date!
While that sounds like a lot of coats, there is indeed still a great need for more. The economic climate, unemployment, and natural disasters have contributed to the hardships that many people are facing. Did you know that 1 in 5 children live in poverty? That is a staggering number of children—not to mention families—that are experiencing hard times.
The good news is that there are several ways for you to get involved and help! If you have an extra coat or two in your closet, you can give it to someone who needs it. In addition to coats, One Warm Coat encourages donors to give any type of outerwear, such as sweaters, sweatshirts, hats, scarves, or mittens. And, for any crafters out there, you can donate a handmade scarf, mittens, or hat.
You can drop off your coats at any The Container Store location or go One Warm Coat’s website to locate a coat drive near you.
Want to do more to help?
Another way to get involved is to volunteer your time. One Warm Coat provides you with many resources to start your own coat drive and help you find an agency who will distribute the coats you collect. One Warm Coat provides you with a toolkit if you want to organize your own coat drive. Together, we can make a difference and spread the warmth of Christmas through the act of giving.
I’m loving this tote bag! The simple heart pays homage to the jolly bearded man we all love—Santa. Yule spread cheer wherever you go with this cute bag. Here’s an idea for you—double up on your gift-giving prowess when you use this tote as a gift bag. If you still need to get some Christmas cards, check out this Santa card that matches the tote.
With there now only being 11 days left until Christmas, I imagine that most of you have your Christmas trees up and decorated. If you’re anything like me, then you might even have more than one Christmas tree at your home! What can I say—as an elf, I love Christmas decorations
Did you know that the first written record of a decorated Christmas tree dates back more than 500 years? To learn where this Christmas tree was located and other interesting fir facts, check out the infographic below!
Click on the image for an even closer look! Infographic via UberSignal
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”
I love this quote from Buddy in Elf, which is one of my favorite Christmas movies. This image is an instant digital download, not a physical print, so you can print it from home or enlarge and print it at a photo processing center. Since you’ll get this instantly, you won’t have to worry about delivery fees or transit time!
Christmas is just 12 days away! In the days leading up to Christmas, most of us still have many things to do, such as cookie decorating, holiday shopping, planning Christmas dinner, making trips to the grocery store, and more. With so much to do in a limited amount of time, it is easy to get swept away in the business of it all, neglecting the true meaning of Christmas.
Hopefully you’ll find these 12 ideas practical to implement into your daily routine in these 12 days before Christmas. If you like, you can choose one idea a day. To help you remember your “daily duty,” add a reminder to your calendar, phone, or write the task out on a sticky note.
1. Pay It Forward
Photo Credit: Christopher Cornelius. License: CC BY 2.0
Pay for someone’s drink at a coffee shop, meal at a restaurant, or drive-thru order. Do it anonymously and ask the server to give a message to the recipient. You could say something like “Merry Christmas!” or “Enjoy the coffee!”
2. Be Cheery When Waiting in Line
No doubt you’ll be standing in line somewhere: the grocery store, the mall, the gas station, or even the post office. Instead of anxiously standing in line, wondering why the cashier isn’t moving faster, take a moment to notice the people around you. Ask a simple question to the person in front of you, such as “I’m so excited about the holidays. What’s your favorite part about Christmas?” Even a smile can help brighten someone’s day.
3. Give Cookies to Local Law Enforcement
Take a box of cookies or a gift basket to your local fire station or police station along with a note thanking them for their service to the community. If you’re health conscious, give them a fruit basket instead.
4. Let Others Go First
Hold the door and allow someone to go ahead of you when you are boarding an elevator or entering a store. When entering or standing in a checkout line, allow someone with fewer items to go ahead of you. These simple gestures may mean a lot to someone. All you need is a bit of patience and a smile.
5. Sing Christmas Carols
Buddy the elf says it best: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Spread Christmas joy by singing to your kids—or if you have the courage, grab a few friends and start singing in the middle of a shopping mall. Maybe you’ll get the crowd to join in!
6. Give an Extra Tip
If you are dining out anytime soon, give your server an extra tip. Write a quick, kind note on the receipt like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
7. Be Considerate When Driving
Show kindness to other drivers on the road. If you have tendency to speed, slow down and be considerate, letting other cars ahead of you instead of speeding ahead of them. Likewise, don’t get grumpy when other people cut in front of you. Your negativity affects you, not the other driver. Choose to let it go and enjoy the rest of your day.
8. Pack a Lunchbox Surprise
If you have kiddos, put a note in their lunchbox or even their backpack. You can write a riddle, joke, encouraging words, or a simple “Have a nice day!” (You can do this for spouses, too!)
9. Pause Under the Mistletoe
Take a moment every day to let your loved one know you care. A simple smooch when leaving for work or when you get home is a good way to stay connected.
10. Write a Love Note on the Mirror
Use a dry erase marker to write an encouraging note for your family members on the bathroom mirror. If you’re artistically inclined, draw a festive scene to brighten their morning!
11. Send Hugs & Kisses
Pack your spouse’s or your kid’s lunch with a hug and a kiss—a Hershey’s Hug and Hershey’s Kiss, that is! You could also tuck the sweet treats inside a coat pocket, briefcase, or backpack. Place the chocolates inside a small Ziploc bag if you’re concerned about them melting before they are discovered.
12. Give Unexpected Gifts
Give gifts to miscellaneous people, such as your hairdresser, vet, or pharmacist. Something as simple as a ribbon-wrapped chocolate bar can brighten someone’s day.
Covered in charming hearts, these Christmas crackers will be a fun addition to your holiday celebration. Not only is the recycled paper screen printed by hand, but the crackers themselves are handmade as well. Each Christmas cracker contains a festive badge, a candy cane, a joke, and a Christmas party hat. Also available are multi-coloured chevron, gold & white chevron, and metallic chevron Christmas crackers.