For the Love of Italy: Venice

It has always been a dream of mine to float along the beautiful canals of Venice in a romantic Gondola. Little did I know that I would eventually do it in real life. What surprised me was the feeling of relief from being off my feet for a little while. We walked and walked and walked in Venice. I didn’t have a fitbit then but if I did we would have crushed our step goals for the day.


We went to Venice with Dan’s brother Eric and his wife Megan. On this trip my love affair with Italy began. We were all exhausted from their flights getting delayed and rerouted multiple times to finally landing in Germany… only to turn around and drive an hour away to another airport. They were so relaxed for as much stressful traveling they had been through. However, we finally made our connection to Italy and we all proceeded to pass out on the plane. 


After we landed we hopped on a bus that took us to Piazzale Roma. There are no cars in Venice if you were wondering. All of your transportation is either on foot or by gondola and water taxi. We got off the bus and started following the crowd. Wandering if you will, is one of our favorite things to do while traveling. We usually experience wonderful things by accident.  After eating breakfast (you can tell how exhausted we were above!) and stopping at the next plaza, we finally bought a map.


Being lost in Italy isn’t the worst thing in the world… there is amazing wine and dessert everywhere. We spent a lot of our time walking through the small crowded alleys. Let’s just say that showering daily is not a universal practice throughout Europe. If you’re planning to visit Italy fall was a perfect time.


The weather was sunny and dressing in layers was perfect. It was so beautiful I couldn’t stop taking pictures. We saw multiple churches and historic buildings and museums.


The canals and changing leaves kept us wanting to see more. I can’t remember if we even planned things to see while we were there. This is my favorite stress free way to travel. Sure I read about Venice prior to going but I’ll never be a down to the minute planner while traveling. Honestly, I could have just eaten all day and been perfectly content. Italy by far has the best food {and WINE!} of anywhere I’ve ever traveled. 


This picture was taken at the edge of the Grand canal. You can see the “Basilica di Santa María della Salute” on the right side. We actually went inside this one. DSC_0168

It never fails… Everywhere we travel there is at least one lion we take a picture with. The next day we were looking for a place to eat breakfast and stumbled upon this gorgeous plaza aka the Piazza San Marco and the Basilica di San Marco. DSC_0178DSC_0202DSC_0204DSC_0212DSC_0214

The following pictures are some of my favorites from the trip. They encompass the relaxed life of living on the canal and the wonderful time we had with Dan’s family. DSC_0252DSC_0253DSC_0259DSC_0273

As usual Dan and I packed last minute for this trip. Almost every trip we take only a backpack each, it’s less room for clutter and limits outfit options. (If I could pack my entire closet I would…). Anyway, Dan forgot his sunnies. 


It took quite awhile for him to settle on these ones for 7 Euro. He kept passing by the stands saying they were overpriced haha.


 When in Italy drink as much cappuccino as you can. It’ll make you fall in love. 




America Land of the Free: Washington DC

It has been said in a million different ways that the United States is a land of opportunity. A land of freedom and bravery. A land of dreams.


I feel so incredibly blessed to have been born in such a country. A country that gives us the opportunity to work hard to achieve our dreams. A country that was formed based on the foundation of freedom. A country that has had many great (and a few not so great) leaders.  We have come a long way in the few hundred years we have been a nation and despite the many imperfections, without a doubt I know we will continue to grow as a nation.

Fast forward a few months: Here I am awake at 4:45 am on my day off (not by choice). Dan had a softball game a little over an hour from where we live. He rushed me out the door this morning and I left my wallet at home. So needless to say we get all the way there and they won’t let me on post because their system to look me up is broken. (Just imagine my rage as I sit here and listen to this German guard chomp loudly on his Apple). It’s 6:30 am, I’m wide awake and wishing a million times over I was back in the USA right now. As I watch the sunrise in Germany I thought I would share my Washington DC trip with y’all.

Washington DC

I have been to DC a few times. The first time was in 2011 when I ran the Marine Corps Marathon. Running a marathon was on my bucket list and I’m so glad I accomplished that goal but I had to rush through seeing the memorials that weekend so I could prep for my race and feel rested. The second time I was in DC in 2014 with a group of my friends. We ran the Army 10 miler. Although it was a blast I still felt like I had so much to see!




This time around, Dan had a leadership conference in DC he was selected to attend. I was really excited for him and slightly jealous he was going home to the states. So we decided to fly home together and spend some time with our families after his conference. While he was working long hours in DC, I decided to explore the city solo.




I took the shuttle from our hotel (we stayed at the Falls Church Marriott Fairview Parkway) to the metro station nearby. After a 15 mins on the metro I was in the national mall area. I started at the Washington monument and walked quite a few miles around the area. DSC_0079.jpg

There were a lot of middle school classes that were also touring the memorials and museums. It was almost impossible not to catch some of the kids in these photos because it was pretty crowded for a week day.




At first I was listening to music on my Bluetooth headphones but the battery died and I’m sort of glad it did. It was relaxing listening to the rush of the city rather than drowning it all out. So I walked…. And walked and walked until I was so tired I took a bike taxi to lunch. He was so sweet. His name was Pierre and he had moved to the USA from France 8 years before.


By late afternoon I was exhausted because my body was still on Germany time. Luckily there was a Peet’s coffee on the same block as the restaurant Pierre had recommended for lunch. It was my first time at Peet’s and it won’t be my last. Their coffee was SOOOOOOOO good! If you have one of these near you try it out. Even their cups were adorable.


The last thing on my todo list was to visit the Archives Building to see the Constitution. It was my third trip to DC and I had put it off (the lines are always long and one of my flaws is impatience). This time however, I decided to tough it out and eventually I got in. I even picked up a few really cute children books at the gift shop for our niece and nephew.


When I returned back to the hotel, Dan was starving. A mutual friend/coworker of ours recommended Four Sisters, a Vietnamese restaurant near our hotel. Dan was quite skeptical but warmed up to it as soon as I promised him ice cream for dessert 🙂


Overall, I had a wonderful relaxing day alone in the city and we loved the restaurant recommendation (Thanks Ben!).

If you’re planning a trip to DC…. Go during the cherry blossom festival.






ps. I caught this pic with a Delta plane just for Matt and Brooke! We love plane watching.




Philly, Family and Delicious Cheesesteaks

It started with an impromptu first class seat from Chicago, IL to Philadelphia, PA. I decided to run to the restroom prior to catching our flight. In my absence my fiancé Dan volunteered us for what he thought were exit row seats. Surprisingly, as we boarded the plane we realized the flight attendant bumped us to first class. These are the moments when I realize that being kind to others really does matter. Dan is quite the comedian and I imagine these seats had something to do with how kind, funny and charming he can be :). Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the warmed nuts and hot chocolate chip cookies in first class. We landed around midnight and rushed to grab our rental car and headed to what he calls home.

Flyin’ first class
It was a relatively short drive (<2 hours) North of Philly to his family. We proceeded to fall into bed exhausted around 2:30 am and slept for a few hours. The next few days we spent catching up and playing with Melina and Maddie.

We met them at school for lunch and took them out for Melina’s birthday. We really enjoyed playing softball and seeing Melina pitch (pretty awesome for a 9 year old!). Maddie  did a great job fielding the ball and we gave her a lot of hitting practice. It was a perfect spring day and even Mickey (their dog) raced after the ball with us.

We went to see Dan’s sister in law Megan and his niece Adriana while we were home. We spent the afternoon with them at the park and enjoyed playing ball and “blazing badminton” as Adriana calls it. She has such a lively and hilarious personality. She is such an active kid and kept us running while playing ball. She was so sweet and even picked us some beautiful flowers (or colorful weeds depending on who you ask :). You can tell Dan definitely misses her!

Lunch with the girls
After chasing her around the play ground we went to have dinner with Dan’s close friends John and Megan. Dan and John caught up on life while Megan and I hit it off. We had so much in common and it was so nice to finally meet her in person. We celebrated both of our engagements with copious amounts of homemade wine. I can’t wait to go back and try next years batch of wine 😉.We laughed more than we talked and also tried their amazing signature cocktails…something along the lines of champagne, grapefruit liquor and blood orange juice.

We spent our last night in America in downtown Philadelphia with some old friends of Dan’s. We stayed with Jimmy and Sara in their gorgeous home in Philly. We had a blast out that night. We literally ran in heels to catch the train to dinner and danced until we were exhausted. Surprisingly, this was the only picture we took that night. 

The next morning we said goodbye to Jimmy and Sara with cinnamon rolls and warm hugs. We were really sad to leave. Luckily we will see them in a few short months in Paris! On our way to the airport we snapped a quick picture in their neighborhood with these beautiful cherry blossoms.

As we flew back to the land of the castles with our bellies full (of Chick fil A) we were excited about returning home in a few years. Hopefully we will be moving somewhere closer to our families and good friends!

When in Philly…Don’t forget to grab a cheesesteak!



These two are inseparable, the snuggle is real.