Just a Small Town Girl: Pure Michigan 

There’s something special about a small town. There is a warm familiar
feeling you get every time you come home. There is community. There is love. There are slow sunsets and sweet ice cream after dinner. There are close embraces from family, friends, past teachers and many many more. There is front porch sitting. There is baseball. There is play time with the little ones.  

Where there is this kind of love there is also loss. We all loved our grandpa. After a long painful year the Lord called him home. I am at peace knowing he is no longer suffering. He will be remembered as a man who always made us laugh, taught us to dance and yelled constantly at the TV.




My brothers and sisters were all able to make it home. We laughed, we cried and we held one another close. It was a sad few days but we were happy to be together. We played euchre, drank a few beers and colored in adult coloring books (if you haven’t tried it, you should!).

   

Luckily, I was also able to visit my Grandma Jo while I was home. For a long time, she has been my rock, my pen pal and my best friend. I was so excited to introduce her to my fiancé Dan. She cried when she saw me and when I had to leave I too had lots of tears that fell.  

As I sit in the airport, I am reluctant to board the plane. My heart is heavy and I’m so sad to go. Every time I leave this small town I leave a piece of my heart behind.

When you get the chance to go home… Enjoy a sweet cup of ice cream and hold the ones you love close because you never know when it’ll be the last time.

Love, 

Jenny

I honestly think that sometimes things happen that you can’t explain… Like why we got upgraded to first class unexpectedly (for free!).

Coincidence? I think not… 

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Kindness Matters: Falls Church, Virginia

A Day of Pampering:

Warm, cosy and well rested is how I started my day. What an unusual feeling that was…until I realized I didn’t set my alarm and I had a nail appointment in an hour and 15 mins. Don’t mind my stomach that was growling out of control.

I jumped out of bed, tossed on a comfortable outfit and debated on what shoes to wear. My go-to pair of shoes lately has been leather booties that I bought in Germany. With just enough heel and a cute buckle on the side, they’re outrageously comfortable and look great with pretty much any combination of my wardrobe. However, after a pedicure I was sure they would scrunch my freshly painted toes. Unfortunately I didn’t anticipate this beautiful weather and didn’t pack sandals. So I laced up my sneakers, put my hair into a messy ponytail (this is right about the time I realized I only packed a teasing brush… just imagine my disarray) and headed downstairs for breakfast.

I ordered my favorite brunch: eggs benedict with coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. Luckily the hotel had taxis waiting so I hurried along to my nail appointment.

The hotel I’m staying at referred me to Venus Salon and Spa. I was able to get an appointment the next day and they were so polite and friendly. When I arrived the place was clean and had a relaxing atmosphere. Jess was my nail tech and she was FABULOUS!

A friendly lady that I pictured being in her early 60’s sat in the massage/pedicure chair next to me and started chatting away. Her name was Carol. I liked her immediately. She loved dogs and had her precious little chihuahua and pomeranian mix named Allie with her.

On a side note, I talk entirely too much for about 95% of people I meet. It’s even worse when I’m nervous because I speed up and spew words as fast as they’ll come out. I’d like to think that my brain works similar to that of a pin ball machine. It can never really stay in one place for very long. That being said I talk fast, think fast and usually end up interrupting people in everyday conversation. I promise it’s not because I’m being rude intentionally (my friends have come to terms with the fact that I have the attention span of a first grader).

Ok…. so back to Carol. We talked non stop while we enjoyed our pampering. She was such an interesting and well traveled woman. I was inspired by how much LIFE she had in her years. When she told me her children where in their 50s I was absolutely shocked. I thought for sure this woman was much much younger! She had such a bold, confident and beautiful personality. It always surprises me when I run into people that have hearts like mine. People that love traveling, eating, spending time with their loved ones and of course shopping. Carol informed me of all the amazing shopping options nearby and offered to take me there.


Now I don’t usually get into cars with strangers but I felt like Carol and I were already long term friends. She was leaving for Hawaii the next day (please imagine all of my jealous feelings inserted right here). I quickly brushed them away and told her that visiting or living in Hawaii has always been a long term dream of mine and that I too would travel there some day. Then she told me that she has Cancer. That she has had it four times. My heart just sank for a moment. How could such an amazing woman have cancer four times and still have the joyful and happy attitude Carol had? She is a woman of courage and you can tell from the fire inside her that nothing can shake her. I felt so blessed meeting this woman. Honestly, I am inspired to live my life to the absolute fullest, to enjoy all of the wonderful things in life and to always keep kindness as my currency.

When you are kind to others, you make a difference in their lives if only for a moment. When you tip someone more than they would normally receive, when you compliment a stranger or express how thankful you are it can change their entire day. I paid for my nails and sincerely thanked Jess for her meticulous work on the shabbiness of cuticles she cleaned up. They looked awfulllll before and I love the pink color Carol told me about.

As I waited for Carol to get her hair trimmed, I’m pretty sure Jess noticed how kind I was to her. Without asking, she picked up a blow dryer and started blowing my hair out. Let me tell you, it looked a million times better. I explained that I forgot to pack my hairbrush and was actually going to target to buy one and she laughed. I tried to pay her and she refused. She just smiled at me and thanked me for coming. I was so grateful for the outstanding service I received at their spa/salon and would highly recommend it if you’re in the Falls Church, VA area!

Carol gave me the tour of the shopping options and dropped me off at the mosaic shopping center. Target and Lululemon were diagonal from each other {what a great predicament to be in}.


You can just imagine how this turned out. I went into target for three things: a hairbrush, dry shampoo and new dress socks for Dan. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t let myself get too distracted and I actually remembered everything on the list. If you’re female you understand my struggles. Whoever sets up the layout of Target is a genius. You have to walk through women’s clothing, shoes and jewelry just to get to what you actually came for. I left with this and still feel successful.

 

(Dan’s socks not pictured)

 

I preceded to walk into Lululemon and it was quite a splurge I’m not going to lie. No matter how much I rationalize that I wear it EVERY. DAY… I can’t tell you how expensive it is. To me the splurge is worth it because it makes me happy. Lululemon is my kryptonite.


I was chatting with one of the store managers about how much I love their clothing. She recommended the 7/8ths length Align pant. If you’re in the market for a new pair of leggings that you can wear dressed up try these! They are my new favorite. They don’t have the same compression as the Wunder Unders (which are my favorite for any type of workout) and leave you feeling so relaxed! The align pant will be my new travel essential leggings for sure!!!

Overall, I had an incredibly relaxing day with Carol and shopping. I hope Carol enjoys a few sunsets in Hawaii for me and I look forward to keeping in touch with her.

Never underestimate the power of kindness.

Love, 

Jenny



Ps. This book is laugh out loud hilarious and don’t let Dan fool you, he loves Lulu as much as I do 🙂 

Hangry on the Plane: El Bocadillo

{ Disclaimer: Mom you probably shouldn’t read this, you already think the worst about my international safety}.

I’d have to say that from a small age my parents have been yelling at me for conversing with strangers. It’s a bad habit that I just can’t seem to break while traveling. You meet such interesting people along the way. For example, I sat next to a young gentleman in his 30s if I had to guess. I am pretty hyper vigilant when I fly internationally and I try to be overly aware of my surroundings. I noticed prior to taking off he was conversing in only Spanish with his brother. About 4 bathroom trips later…we started chatting. After all, a nine hour flight without conversation would be pure torture to me. I dusted off my rusty Spanish skills and attempted to conjugate verbs (mostly successful but slipped up and mixed a few tenses for sure). He seemed entertained by my Spanglish and was very interesting himself. What a world traveler he was! It fueled my fire to travel further and to the many unique countries he had already been. 
Most of you know that I get Hangry very quickly. (Hanger: anger caused by extreme hunger). I go quickly from I need a snack to–> I’m going to loose it if I don’t eat something RIGHT NOW. The stewardess could probably see it in my eyes as she handed me not one but three extra snack packs on the plane. I shared one with my new neighbor friend and struck up a conversation. 

He was coming from Madrid and worked on “telenovelas” (soap operas) so he was traveling for work. He laughed when I told him we watched them in my Spanish classes to help us learn the language, customs and culture. He proceeded to tell me about all of the places to visit in Spain. He warned me not to miss out on the delicious food and rich culture of Madrid. He also mentioned the word bocadillo (for the life of me I couldn’t remember what that word was). Naturally I just smiled and nodded politely. When he pulled out a prewraped ” Brioche Serrano” sandwich (AKA delicious ham sandwich on a crissant type roll). I could have hugged this random stranger! More times than you could imagine I’ve had this type of luck while traveling. It proves that kindness really does go a long way! This guy had his entire carry on packed to the brim with snacks. In my eyes I had hit the seating chart jackpot. He was such a nice guy and didn’t mind my messy grammar and excessive hand gestures. 
I think in our culture we seem to get tunnel vision. I too was guilty of believing we do most things the “right” way. However, in a lot of ways the USA is far behind the learning curve when it comes to languages and being able to communicate. Due to the close proximity, Europeans are almost forced to learn in depth about other languages and cultures. (While in Switzerland, the receptionist spoke SIX different languages). Chew on that for for a second, six languages. If they can do it, why can’t we? I hope that some day we too will catch up and broaden our scope of learning as a country. Moving internationally has definitely broadened my perspective of the world. So much so that I love watching US and world news from other countries broadcasting stations. It helps build a bigger picture than the one you get painted in the states. 

Ok that’s it! I’m done rambling and I feel a million times better now that I’ve landed in the USA 🇺🇸. After getting my rental car, Chick-Fil-A was my first stop. Dan flew the day before me for work. He is still pouting because I didn’t bring some Chick-Fil-A to the hotel (it would’ve been three hours old). So I guess we get to go back soon 😉 

For your entertainment here are our airplane selfies: 

  
  
When you find yourself in a bind and you can’t conjugate your verbs and hand signals are ineffective….Just smile. It goes a long way! 

Love,

Jenny 

Ps. And always, always, ALWAYS pack snacks no matter how full you are at the airport. 

Happy Birthday Handsome!

Dan,

Since the moment I met you, you’ve been making me laugh until my stomach hurts. You have such a fun, caring and adventurous heart. As each day passes, I love you more. As we grow older every day, month and year I look forward to life with you. You’ve stolen my heart and I’m so happy you did. Happy Birthday handsome!

Love, 

Jenny

  

Ohhh the Wine–>Cora. Forbach, France

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To be honest, it was Dan’s idea. They were having a tent wine sale at Cora Market in France. He wanted to surprise me with wine but we ended up going together with our friends. You would not believe how much wine they had at this place. It was slightly overwhelming and the majority of the labels were in French. So we focused on the words “vin sec” or dry wine and picked the ones with the best labels of course. I’m a huge fan of dry red wine… I’m not usually picky but I’m definitely more of a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Malbec kind of girl.

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I even scored an adorable wine box that I’m going to use for decor in my house.

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Travis, Krissy and I determined this was our favorite from the ones we tasted so far.

However, I won’t discriminate completely because I’m also a huge fan of muscadine wine. If you’re in North Carolina make sure you stop by Cypress Bend Vineyard in Wagram, NC for a tasting (and some dancing) if you go on a Friday night in the summer time. Their Autumn and Campbell wines are two of my very favorites!  (Visit their website here!)

If you love blueberry, blackberry, raspberry or strawberry wine… Wolfe Vineyards in Snow Camp, North Carolina was another one of my favorites. (Wolfe Wines Website).

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Towards the end of the reds in the tent we found a bottle with Bees on them 🙂

Exploring the world, one glass of wine at a time.

Love,

Jenny

Let it Bee. Breeana. A life of laughter

Most would say they could hear her laugh before they even saw her. Like many people in our family she was LOUD. Honestly, I think thats what makes me smile the most about her memory is the magnitude in which she lived her life to the fullest. She was always laughing not the small giggling kind but the full on laughter that warms you from the inside out.

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Love is worth the journey even when there is heart ache because of the things you experience in between. When you piece together all of the special moments in your life you notice a pattern of the people around you. Bree may not have lived at my house but you would’ve never known otherwise. She was a part of our every day life. We ate breakfast together some days. Our parents took turns taking groups (yes groups) of us to school. She was at every significant life event and was always the loudest one cheering in the crowd.

Like many in our family she was a Bronco. I was so excited for her to enjoy the same University so many of us loved. She made such a wonderful best friend there. Jacob and Bree were inseparable. Every time I saw her she would share her funny stories about the two of them.

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Yesterday was her birthday. Such a short 23 years she spent with us but such a long trail of love she has left behind. I’ve worked in Intensive Care for over five years and I have seen heartache. I have seen loss and sadness in its most raw form: Unexpected. I have held the hands of patients and family members when they’ve been told “It’s cancer and the prognosis is poor.” I’ve watched the color drain from their faces and their hearts sink. There are no words to say in those moments. These are the moments that remind me to hold the ones I love closely, to appreciate the precious time we are given here and to love abundantly.

Life is short but love is very very long. Eventually the days will turn into weeks and the weeks into years but the memory of her will never fade. Even on the sad days, I know the Lord has cups overflowing with grace. In every heartbreak there is refuge. Today I am finding refuge in a warm cup of tea with sweet honey. Bee has always been her nickname. Every time I open a jar of honey, I think of her. It’s soothing and sweet. Although the pain of loss lingers, her memory will always bring a sweet smile to my face because she was a woman of laughter. A woman of love. A woman of passion for life.

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As I sit here sipping my tea, I’ll hold on to the memories and I’ll let it Bee.

Love, 
Jenny

Cappuccinos near Marienplatz: Munich, Germany

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We started the trip with a short visit to Nurnberg to visit Aunt Karin. We also stopped at the Longchamp store in Nurnberg. Dan’s sister Megan has incredible style. While they visited in November, we talked about how annoying it is to carry tons of bags while traveling. She recommended the cross body bags by Rebecca Minkoff. Best advice ever. I’m in love with them and I use them ALL the time. If you love style, do yourself a favor and check out her Youtube channel and Instagram here—>  InstagramYoutube . Her videos are so fun to watch, you’ll love them.

I’ve been wanting a Longchamp bag for traveling for a few months and I finally bought one. They are pretty pricy in the states (about $145 at Nordstroms) but I scored this one for 67 Euro (73 dollars)! Don’t get me wrong… I love to shop but I also LOVE to get a great deal. As you can tell by this picture, I love love love neutral bags. One of the bags in this picture I only paid 99cents for because I bought it with points from my AMEX on Amazon!

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We made our way out of the city and to Aunt Karin’s house. We had such a relaxing night! She made delicious homemade schnitzel (literally the best I’ve had in Germany) and packed our bags to the brim with sweets and goodies. I’ve had a pretty bad cold lately so I drank a LOT of tea with honey. Staying with Aunt Karin is one of our very favorite things to do while we are traveling 🙂 We woke up early for breakfast, said our goodbyes and headed to Munich.

We were about 45 minutes into our road trip when I realized… I FORGOT MY NIKON. Holy moly. This never.ever.happens. I snapped all of these pictures with my iPhone. Here are a few pictures of us walking through Munich.

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A park we stopped by to stretch our legs near Munich.

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Driving through Munich
 

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I love this man!
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Dan always finds a lion when we travel.. it never fails.

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Marienplatz
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Even though he didn’t speak English, this guy was willing to take a picture for us 🙂
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A delicious bakery in the same plaza, you can see Marienplatz in the background.
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Trying out a new sweet treat. Dan liked it, I wasn’t such a huge fan.

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Espresso. The fastest way to my heart.
When in Munich… take time to enjoy a cappuccino and a long walk.

Love,

Jenny