Category Archives: holiday

Our Tiffany’s Inspired Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree

This is our third Christmas in England (read about last Christmas here) and third year we have gone with my Tiffany’s inspired Christmas tree.  I had used this once before back when we were living in Hawaii.  Sadly as a person of high mobility I know the experience of losing things through out the years as you move. We lost a whole box of our Christmas decorations somewhere from Hawaii to England. So much of what I have on the tree we have acquired since living in the UK.  With a smaller budget and less Christmas holiday resources (lets be honest the USA really goes big when it comes to any holiday) I have been able to keep up the theme.

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree

Aside from some of the token blue ornaments that did arrive I also had a few of the plastic diamonds that I had bought at a chain craft store in the US.  It originally was a huge tub of these plastic clear diamonds in three different sizes with holes perfect for ornament hooks.  I also had my Tiffany’s boxes, pouches, and bags that I have also graced my tree with this year. For hanging up the original boxes I pierced the box with a hand sewing needle twice and then threaded through a piece of white thread to make a loop from which I could hang it like an ornament. The two inch wide ribbon you see on the top of the tree has wire on either side which makes it easy to curl.  I suggest either using the roll of wrapping paper or for a looser curl a one pint size beer can. The mask at the top was a prop I had used on a photo shoot in Hawaii which I have used to put a little bit of my years growing up in Italia into our holiday.

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree

We have bought the rest of our ornaments at various pound shops (think dollar store).  Pound shops are great places to find Christmas decorations!  We have three different types of garlands on our tree and I found a matching tinsel garland this year which is across our tree on our mirror.  The big foam snowflakes, the silver ornaments, the silver bell ornaments, and the silver gift tags (yes they work great as ornaments) also came from the pound shop.

Get Creative!  I wanted to really punch the theme so I found those little white boxes in a wedding section of the store that you would use for reception gifts for guests.  I put them together, taped them up, covered them in the blue coloured tissue paper, and added white ribbon to get little Tiffanys inspired boxes for the tree.  I put in the ornament hook at the corner of the box so that it hangs at an appealing angle on the tree.

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree

Tiffany's Christmas Tree

We also have a small (near enough to) three foot tall tree.  It was our main tree our first year here in England before a client at the salon gave me her big tree before moving out of the country.  The boys are using this one as their ‘free for all’ decorating.  I grew up with a mum who did similar.  We had a main tree that was decorated to a colour scheme and a smaller one we could decorate with all the other ornaments you collect through the years as a child. It is a beloved tradition we have carried on with our family and my boys had fun decorating their tree last night. It included our egg blown ornaments we made this week as a family as seen on Amanda’s blog in Making Your Own Christmas Egg Ornaments.  I decorate mine with a map on the bottom half (a keepsake from Wales) and a night sky on top.  The boys and my husband use tissue paper to collage their eggs with glue and I ended up joining in and making one more too. It is a fun idea for making DIY ornaments at home.

Tiffanys Inspired Christmas TreeTiffanys Inspired Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree Tiffany's Christmas Tree

This year my kids opted to not use the star or angel on the top but our golden snitch ornament that we made with my sister, their Zia Zoe, last Christmas.  Want your own Harry Potter Snitch for your tree? Find an ornament in a gold shade and grab some paper, scissors, and glue.  I picked up our ornament for not very much at a charity shop and had my sister make the wings for the boys.  It is our favourite (non blue/silver) ornament for sure! Anyone else have a Harry Potter inspired ornament on their tree? I would love to hear about it!
HP Snitch Ornament HP Snitch Ornament Q: If you put up a tree this year, what was your theme if you had one? Or tell me what your tree looks like! 


Looking for Travel Tuesday?  As it is Christmas Eve we have taken a week off to celebrate with family.  Check back next week on New Years Eve for the next edition of #TravelTuesday!

* Photography belongs to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2013 All Rights Reserved |


B&B: Dolgellau, Wales

The whole idea of going away to celebrate our vow renewal was based on my husband’s idea of renting a cottage. After deciding on the location of Wales for our 10th Wedding Anniversary it was time to find a place to stay.  We contacted our family and friends, added up our final head count of adults and children, and used Holiday Lettings online to search our options.  In the end we decided on Penycoed Hall Guest House located in the town of Dolgellau in the Snowdonia region of Wales.  While researching the Penycoed Hall Guest House had won us over due to its perfect location, the ability to fit the number of guests in our party, and its eye catching grand staircase.  
From a photographer’s standpoint I wanted a bit of elegance and I could immediately imagine walking down those stairs in my wedding gown.  To be honest I was not really all that blown away by the the photographs pictured online of the bedrooms and common area.  However, upon arriving to Penycoed Hall Guest House I realised the photographs on their website were outdated and the rooms went above and beyond my expectations.  The huge common area, where our entire party spent most of our time while inside, had been recently redone.  With a statement colour of hot pink and a wallpaper that was definitely a conversation starter, our decision on the location was confirmed as perfect.  I admit pink is my favourite colour and so every time I entered the room it just put me in a really good mood.  
It was raining in Dolgellau when we arrived and so it was one of those mad dashes from the car into the building.  As soon as we stepped through the door we were greeted by the charming hosts, Nigel and Madge with their two adorable dogs, who won over our entire party through out our stay.   Madge gave us the tour of the rooms and Nigel gave us plenty of information about places to visit and see during the week.  I have not stayed at that many B&Bs, but am certain that any stay after this trip will be judged by our our experience at the family run business, Penycoed Hall Guest House.  I was ready to rebook before we even checked out. 
Technically we were not staying at the Bed & Breakfast portion of Penycoed Hall Guest House, but renting the Victoria and the Penthouse apartments for a week.  This encompassed two floors of the traditional Welsh mansion with four bedrooms, a common room on the top floor, and a kitchen and bathroom located on both floors. This was enough space for all four family groups and so everyone was able to get their meals squared away.  We tended to do our own thing for breakfast and lunch and do dinners together as a group.  

f r o m   o u r   7   d a y   s t a y 
While there are many perks to staying at a bed & breakfast 
I came up with my favourite things about staying at the Penycoed Hall Guest House:
Free Wifi.  I know it may say something about me to list this amenity first but it was a big factor in helping the week go smoothly.  Wifi was available in the downstairs lobby and sometimes we could get a signal from the rooms upstairs in the Penthouse Apartment.  Which was lovely as I could keep up the blog maintenance, we could research our day to day activities, and others could work on projects for work requirements with needed internet access.  The plus side of having it mainly accessible from the lobby was that it was much easier to go ‘unplugged’ to social media sites and really be on vacation.
Kid Friendly.  Between our four family units we had five children with us. Let me clarify. We had five boys between the ages of two and eight with us in our group.  There was enough space to accommodate family needs as well as an amazing garden to help the boys run out all their energy.  The perk of the garden was the large trampoline and the rope swing.  I should also mention that the dogs were really good around the boys, who loved playing with them any chance they could get. 

Space & Comfort. Staying in an apartment like setting at the B&B was perfect for a family on vacation.  Everyone was split up into rooms and each had their own ‘space’.  Perfect for bringing the comforts from home while feeling treated to the vacation stay.  There were places to go inside and out when you needed solitude, a big enough kitchen to bake a wedding cake, and even satellite television.  While I cannot speak for the rest of our party, my husband and I really enjoyed our room.  As with most of the other upstairs rooms, it had an amazing skylight window which really brightened the room up during the day.  Between a five drawer dresser, a wardrobe, and two bed side tables with drawers we had plenty of room to unpack our belongings.  Our bed was very comfortable and the room was an inviting place to escape after a long day.  The entire guest house was able to bring about modern necessities while keeping to the character and charm of the mansion’s original features. 

Location & Atmosphere.  These were the top selling points for my husband when asked about his stay at Penycoed Hall Guest House.  With its location nestled in its own secluded gardens, located above the town of Dolgellau, it felt like we were hidden away.  This perfect location for a holiday was coupled with a very short walk of mere minutes into town.  The nearby grocery store was easy to get to without a car and there were plenty of places to eat and shops in the town.  As far as places to go to during the day for activities there is no shortage of options.  We enjoyed the beach, the Cadair Idris mountain, a ride on a steam train, a King Arthur activity park, abbey ruins, and the town of Portmeirion. 
Price. We ended up having seven adults between the four different families in our party.  We divided the cost between us by the number of heads in each family group and gave the bigger room to the biggest family group.  For a week at the end of July, the two apartment areas came out to be £799.   To give you an example of what that was per person, when broken down per night  my sister was essentially only paying £11.42 ($17.78) a night.  Honestly if we go back to Dolgellau again I would not think twice about staying anywhere else.  
Any Downsides?  No not really.  For my family the place went above and beyond our expectations when we booked the reservation. Our party only ran into one hiccup during our stay which affected about half our group.  The holiday lettings website we booked the rooms from stated there was a washing machine available.  One of the families had been traveling for a week already and had planned on this information to do laundry.  With no clean clothes, we were told of a launderette in town and headed that way with all the laundry in tow.  Unfortunately we found out the launderette was closed due the owners of it having moved.  I have since checked the guest house’s personal website (different from the vacation rental’s listing) and there is no mention of a washer being available there.  It looks to be a case of a slight slip up between the congruity of the guest house’s website and the holiday rental’s website. 

My recommendation? Go to Dolgellau when planning your next trip to Northern Wales.  I believe whether you choose Penycoede Hall Guest House for a conventional bed & breakfast or a self catering holiday, it will not disappoint. For our family and friends it was the perfect location for the week of making memories that will last a lifetime.

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Buona Pasqua 2013

The boys hopped down the stairs to find all the Easter treats. 
The treats the ‘Bunny’ left for the boys very early this morning on the stairs of our home. 
The Boys at the beginning of service getting ready to light the candle.
Easter Service at church. The boys helped make pretty crafts to decorate the cross; The Easter Garden; Easter service.
The Decorated Cross 
Happy Easter from my bella familia to yours. 

*photographs belong to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2013 All rights reserved –

Our first Christmas in Bath

We moved just a couple of days before Christmas to Bath, England and we able to celebrate the holidays with Nonna (my mum +Teresa Nystrom ) and Zia Zoë (my younger sister +Zoe Nystrom ) at our new place.  It had been a little stressful, but nothing could make our Christmas better than having our family here for the Holidays.  I have not spent a holiday back in Europe with my mum and sister yet, and it was an amazing sense of ‘home’ to break in our life in Bath.  Although my dad could not be here with us in person, he was definitely felt here with us in spirit.  What great memories +Ryan Aherin and I to share to end our 2012.

My family (from L to R): Bonnie, Ryan, Zoë
, Teresa, Ronan, and Maddox)
Making snowflakes on Christmas Eve with roasted chestnuts and mulled cider prepared by my husband. 
After getting their new Arsenal christmas pyjamas, the boys opened the stockings on Christmas morning that Nonna brought for us from the USA.
Maddox asked Father Christmas for a spy kit and looks like he listened!
Nonna brought the boys full Science kits including lab coats!
Ronan ‘trying’ to look sad because it was not a metal detector. But really he was and is still very excited about his Meccano kit.

My husband and I brought back these Roman gladiator sets from our trip to Italy for Father Christmas to bring on Christmas day.  Looks like they can both play ‘Rory’ now. 
We took my mum and sister, Zoë, to the Abbey in Bath on December 27th.
Zia Zoë and my sons lit a candle for my dad on his birthday, who would have been 59 on December 27th.
The view of Bath at night time is equally as beautiful and I loved seeing the water lit up by the lights and bridge under the moonlight.  There were a group of swans that you cannot see in the photo but that added to the ambience of the moment. 
Instagram: thebonnierose

Happy Easter

I have not fathomed just how big and over the top America celebrates holidays.  Trying to find things to put in the boys’ Easter baskets proved this point to myself. There are lots of eggs, but no ‘baskets’.  There is also not a plethora of plastic green grass, needless Easter toys and egg dying kits.  I love the thought of just buying an Egg and the boys were both excited to get their own egg.  However I did pick up some extra little chocolates, a film, and a few items from the toy section so we can have some new things to do together while they are on Easter Break.

We really wanted to get out of the house today and do something special as a family.  We took the boys over to Chichester to go to the RAF museum.  The boys really enjoyed seeing the planes and it was really nice to do something that reminded me of my dad.  He would have loved going there with us.  I really wish I could have seen what he would be like with my boys experiencing something that was such a huge part of his life and who he was while he was alive. 
We ended up missing the last bus back and got to take a 2 hour nature walk back to where the train station is in town. Though not planned it was very enjoyable.  We got to see two large rabbits in the field as well as many other animals.  After a night of pizza we got our train and headed home. It was a great day to be with our family.
The Easter Bunny left his goodies for the boys. 
Ronan & Maddox with their Easter goodies. 
Looking inside.
My three guys with the planes at the RAF museum. 

My kids’ Easter surprises. They do not do baskets in the UK, so I pieced it together from a few various shop

Toured RAF museum in Chichester, took a 2 hr nature walk after missing the last bus, and enjoyed a family dinner before catching train home.

Buona Pasqua a tutti! Happy Easter ♥ xx

Good Food & Film

The boys and I rewarded ourselves with cleaning at home to get outside at the park today.  Ronan brought his camera and was a little photographer and I think this got Maddox a little jealous that he did not have his own camera to use.  Good thing he has a birthday coming up!  Tonight after the boys went to bed I decided to watch one of my all time favourite films with Audrey Hepburn called Roman Holiday.  If you have not seen this film yet, I recommend watching it tonight!

PALEO: Spicy stir fry with ginger beef, cayenne peppered shrimp, carrots, spinach and zucchini.