Jodi: My favorite photographer.

On one of my annual visits home to Michigan a few years ago, my sister Abby mentioned something about Jodi taking amazing photos. Instagram was really new to me at the time but I followed her Giving Tree Photography page. Ever since then her incredible photos have been popping up on my newsfeed. I swore if I ever needed a photographer she would be the one. Now all of that sounds really weird even to me because I didn’t know her {yet}.

At the time, I was living and working in Georgia about 90 minutes south of Atlanta. I was so impressed by the way she captured the beauty of the world and the love that couples had for each other. She inspired me to buy a camera of my own.  I had been planning for a solo trip to Europe that fall and I wanted to tell the story of my journey through pictures alone. After all, the memories you carry home with you are by far my favorite souvenirs. I did some research and bought my first DSLR camera.

I am one of those people that can’t stay in one place for very long. I’m always thinking about what’s next, in life and in my career. As I was looking for my next job I came across a few quick fill positions, one in Hawaii and the others in Germany. I was utterly shocked! How were those jobs even available?!? So I emailed my boss and she said to go for it.The next few months went by in a whirlwind. Instead of a solo month of travel, I ended up moving to Europe. Three days later Dan and I went to a weekend long softball tournament. That weekend I started taking pictures and now I can’t stop. It’s a hobby I absolutely love.

After Dan and I got engaged we brainstormed a lot of options on how and where to get married (It’s a little complicated in a foreign country). We changed our mind at least a dozen times about the details. We both wanted something intimate and simple. We wanted our focus to be on the promise we were making and not on planning, so we chose to elope.

Originally (by this I mean plan #17) we were supposed to get married on Cala Conta beach in Ibiza, Spain. We were going to have friends of ours take pictures and celebrate with us afterward.  I’ll admit it was me that pushed us to plan #18. We were laying in bed unwinding after a long day. Dan was catching up on sports center news and I was flipping through Instagram. This picture below popped up and I said: ” #givingtreetravels”…that made me wonder… Maybe…just maybe Jodi would be free that weekend.

Now let’s just pause for a second… I’m a little bit crazy to think someone as insanely talented as her, didn’t already have a wedding booked for Fourth of July weekend especially because it was just a few weeks away.  I couldn’t help myself, I posted a comment on that picture… Something along the lines of “I wish you would travel to this side of the world for my wedding in Ibiza!”

Now I knew there was a 99.7% chance she would already be booked or reserving that weekend for some much-needed family time. She replied within 3 minutes and said: “email me and let’s talk”. I quickly emailed her and proceeded to jump out of bed and dance around the room.

Right about then, Dan thought I was literally insane. He said something along the lines of “Get your crazy self back over here and tell me what’s going on.” I quickly regurgitated the story above. Let’s just say he didn’t quite understand. He kept saying “Why her when there are hundreds of photographers here in Europe?”

Let me tell you why:

  • She captures love in its purest form.
  • She is artistic and outrageously talented.
  • She is brave and willing to hike, run or swim to get the best angles you can imagine.
  • She is a professional to the core.
  • She loves the outdoors and shooting in the beautiful, natural scenery God created.
  • She is flexible and spontaneous.
  • She works so hard and puts others far before herself.
  • She has such a huge adventurous heart and pours her feelings of excitement through her beautiful blue eyes.
  • Her teaser photos make you feel like you are standing right next to the couple she’s photographing.
  • After following her work for so long I knew without a doubt…If I didn’t pick her, I would forever regret it.

After a few (extremely excited and barely coherent) emails from me and a few super professional well-written replies from Jodi, we had a plan. Now I just had to convince Dan. That took a day or two but I won him over. The plan was to have Jodi’s husband come along as her assistant. (He was an absolute champ! He deserves a few gold medals in the husband/assistant Olympics but more on that later).

We arranged their travel so they arrived in Ibiza the day before us. I knew they would need it for the awful jet lag you experience flying this far East. We also wanted to give them time to explore the island and find the spots they thought would be great to shoot pictures at.

They met us at our hotel for poolside drinks the night before our ceremony. We laughed more than we talked. I think she was surprised with how relaxed Dan and I were about most of the details of the day to follow. We sipped Sangria and caught up on the changes happening near my hometown. We stayed up pretty late and decided to do our vows at sunset the next day instead of in the midday heat (SO thankful for that decision!).

The day of our wedding was absolutely perfect. Jodi captured the little things that we may have overlooked at the time but will forever cherish. Her husband Jeff was the best assistant ever. He dropped us off and parked the car miles away (or at least it seemed that far to me). He helped Dan and I rock climb down the cliff to take pictures by the crystal clear water. He carried SO MUCH stuff (shoes, the dress, water, snacks, multiple cameras, backpacks and lenses). I’ve never met someone so selfless and humble. He’s such a cool guy and I’m happy he was there to make things so easy for Jodi and us :).

After shooting photos by Cala Conta, the first beach Dan kissed me…. In true Antinucci fashion, we stopped for Magnum Ice Cream bars to celebrate. We had dinner at our hotel and then headed up to Es Vedra to do our vows at sunset. We left dinner slightly late and ended up hiking as fast as we could up the mountain. We finally arrived at the ancient tower and I put on my dress.

I knew from this day on my life would forever change. This was the easy part: getting all dressed up, professing our love to one another and promising forever. The messy, hard part was yet to come: fights over things that don’t matter, stubborn challenges and cheering for different football teams. Despite the crazy journey of life we had ahead of us, we were ready to free-fall together. (Figuratively and literally as we cliff dove into the Mediterranean Sea).

She captured it all: the smiles, the laughter, the “I’m too hot for this shirt,” the ice cream, the nervous trembles, the tears and the comforting {everything is gonna be okay} hugs. I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more. Immediately after our vows, we ran down the mountain to soak up the last bit of sunset.

Jodi and Jeff treated us like family by laughing and celebrating with us. They made us feel so special. We are so very thankful for their friendship. We wanted their hearts to love this place as much as we did. We had them take a picture together at Es Vedra just before the last bit of light faded into darkness.

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They are an incredible team. They are selfless and loving, encompassing everything one would want in a marriage. After a long, happy, smiles and tear-filled day, they packed up to leave and we waved goodbye.

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The moment they left Dan leaned in and whispered to me “You know what, you were right. I’m so glad you picked her.”

I may be a little biased but Jodi will ALWAYS be my favorite photographer.

Love,

Jenny

Ps. Do yourself a favor and hire Jodi, you won’t regret it. Her website is Giving Tree Photography or you can follow her amazing journey of love on Instagram–> @givingtreephotography and remember: #givingtreetravels

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Disclaimer: These photos were borrowed from Jodi Bodtke 🙂

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Denmark, A Journey of Love: Marriage

Living in Europe has it’s perks and choosing the perfect spot to say our vows was difficult to say the least. We fell in love in Ibiza, Spain and decided that our little piece of paradise was perfect. It was only missing one thing, we had to be Roman Catholic to officially get married there.

After examining our options (including flying back to the states) we decided to sign our official marriage paperwork in Denmark. We had friends of ours that recently got married in Copenhagen, Denmark through the company Danish Island Weddings. They had such a positive experience, they referred us to them.

From the moment we contacted this company, they made it so outrageously easy. After one email containing a marriage application and a scanned copy of all our important documents….. we had a date to get married. I was shocked when I received the approval email so quickly. I was in Poland at the time for work and it brought tears to my eyes.

We opted to get married on ÆrøIsland in the Old Merchants Courtyard. From the pictures of the island it reminded me so much of my hometown. The people were friendly and very helpful. They spoke perfect English (the small joys in life) and went out of their way to ensure we had a wonderful experience on their island.

The day before we got married we woke up early and had breakfast with all of the couples that stayed at our accommodation the night before. It was around a large rustic dining table and we ate a typical European breakfast. Fresh rolls baked that morning by the owner with a variety of cheeses and meats. There were vegetables grown from the garden including cucumbers and green, red and yellow peppers. The jam selection was made by hand by the owners mother (absolutely the best). One of my favorite new combinations for breakfast is plain greek style yogurt, corn flakes and a drizzle of the local honey. It was sweet, crunchy and tangy #allofmyfavoritethings. In my experience you have to try new things to see if you like it or not. (Ask my friend Marcus… a few weeks ago I made him try everything in my lunch). Exploring your tastebuds is one of my favorite parts of traveling. If you don’t try it… you’ll never really know!

After our meeting with Ulrich we were reassured everything would be perfect the next day. She re-booked our return ferry for the next day ensuring we made our flight in Copenhagen (Just barely… see Dan’s post here–>Punctuality: Panic at the Terminal ). We barely made the connection, not because of the ferry/car rental but because I was buying postcards to send to our families back home. Next time I’ll hurry {maybe}.

The morning of our wedding Dan was both happy and anxious. If you’ve ever travelled with Dan you’ll realize he’s a “Nervous Nelly Traveler.” Or atleast thats what I call them. Every family has one. They’re the ones that show up 6 hours prior to their flight. Then they wait around because it’s far too early to consider going through security because even the flight crews haven’t decided what gate to put the flight at yet (they’re still in line for coffee so they can tolerate obnoxiously rude travelers–>don’t be that one!).

To his surprise I got up EARLY which is a huge struggle for me. (High five to all my fellow 5+ times alarm snoozers). However, the promise of french press coffee and the potential of leaving this gorgeous island married was a huge motivation. Since we were carrying all of our luggage throughout both Denmark and Norway we opted to just pack backpacks for the week. I packed a simple sundress for me and a polo for him. If Dan loves anything he loves the simple life. Opposites attract right?!?

After arriving to the building in Old Merchants Court, I gave Dan the option to run. He looked at me and laughed. He pulled me in close said “Come on you knucklehead, you’re gonna marry me.” So we went up the stairs to this vintage style decor room with beautiful paintings of the island and got married. Dan’s brother Eric joined us via Skype.

It was perfect. So simple. The judge said… “Before performing the ceremony the Council wishes to remind you of the meaning and importance of the promise you are going to give each other. Matrimony implies in general a pledge to live together in mutual affection, helpfulness and tolerance.” {I’m pretty sure she emphasized the word tolerance but maybe I was just imagining that}.

We both repeated the same vows we had said to each other on an ancient tower over looking the Mediterranean Sea (PICTURES TO COME SOON!!). We kissed and it was official. We were MARRIED. We kissed again and signed the papers (that were in four different languages). Then we toasted with champagne and celebrated with a few pieces of delicious chocolate.

After getting engaged in Germany, married in Denmark and having our ceremony in Spain….

We know without a doubt, no matter where in the world this love story takes us… at least we have each other to laugh with, love and tolerate 🙂

Love,

Jenny

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I wanted to see how cold the water was… Not nearly as cold as I imagined it would be.

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I love these rocks.

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Beers in the Courtyard
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The view from the cliffs

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A beautiful Lighthouse near Soby

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The golf course surrounding the lighthouse in Soby
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Squinting hard against the wind
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Storm rolling in

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Danish Island Weddings:

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Eric on Skype
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“A pledge to live together in mutual affection, helpfulness and tolerance.”

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Ulrich was the absolute best!

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Champagne and Chocolate
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Waiting for the ferry with our little white rental car
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Sunrise on the Baltic Sea

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All these hearts led to you

ps. Our Ibiza wedding ceremony coming to the blog soon!

Punctuality: Panic at the Terminal by Daniel

Before I begin my soliloquy, let’s set the mood with the following definitions of punctuality, as explained by myself and my lovely wife.
Definition per Jenny:

The act of being present directly prior to departure or an event starting. May or may not include airport shopping, applying mascara or grabbing a last minute coffee as long as you are there prior to departure you are punctual.
Definition per Daniel:

Proper planning to prevent frantic and chaotic events such as last minute application of make up, packing of suitcase, photography, etc. in order to prevent sprinting to every destination seconds before the deadline. This includes not having to be nagged relentlessly by significant other in order to make said deadline.

Fade in… I am sitting at the airport gate for departure from Copenhagen, Denmark to Bergen, Norway. Ten minutes before the plane is scheduled to start boarding, Jenny decided to use the bathroom and buy postcards. She claims she would be right back but in my experience, right back has a time frame from 1 to 180 minutes.

The moment she left I accepted the reality that there was an overwhelming probability that we would not be boarding this flight. Sure enough 10 minutes went by and no sign of Jenny. I hear over head the boarding call for our flight. Not many things stress me out or give me anxiety but traveling with this woman is about as stressful as unexplained chest pain radiating down my left arm.

Fast forward

Half the people have boarded the plane. No sign of Jenny. My initial thought was to go find her but carrying two fifty pound back packs (12 pounds of which is my stuff) aimlessly around this massive airport honestly would have made me look completely foolish. Picture me carrying two back packs with a cast on my broken hand, mindlessly shouting Jenny’s name. I can picture the looks from the passengers in the terminal now.

My next option which sounded pretty good at the time, was to board the plane without her. In my head it sounded like a great life lesson for Jenny. Until I woke up back to reality and realized the severe repercussions that would surely be heading my way. All I can say is that if I would’ve gone through with this plan, I thank the big man upstairs that I do not have an international data plan on my phone. Of course over the next five days of solitude I would have to completely change my identity and enroll in the witness protection program. That sounded like too much work though.

Two thirds of the plane has boarded. Any one within twenty feet of me can see the perspiration pouring down my face. I have no doubt that the utter panic on my face coupled with the sweat made everyone around me extremely uncomfortable. At this point I made my decision, if Jenny is not back in 5 minutes I am boarding the plane without her. As stated before, I was fully aware of the grave danger I was putting my life in with this decision. Now reading this you may have your doubts about the validity of this story, but anyone who knows either myself or Jenny knows that this is just another Tuesday afternoon for us.

Just like a Hollywood script, less than one minute remaining until I board the plane without her and effectively ending my life, guess who strolls up? Now you would think seeing me standing all alone with a panicked look on my face would provide some inkling of urgency. Well you obviously don’t know Jenny. The best part…we don’t even know our seat assignment on the flight because our electronic boarding pass says n/a. After all that stress and worry, we successfully boarded the plane. Sure enough we were just about the last two people to sit down. I love this woman with all my heart, but every travel adventure leaves me with a little less hair on my already balding dome.

Every day is a blessing but Lord baby Jesus grant me strength,

Daniel

(We spent a lot of time waiting for ferries, planes and buses. The picture above was one of our favorites of us waiting this trip.)

Denmark, A Journey of Love: iPhone edition

We started our trip with a 3:30 am wake up call. (Thankfully I finished packing our stuff around midnight so we got a few hours of rest.) We took the ICE train to Köln and walked around a little bit. We ended up going to the airport early because our backpacks were pretty heavy and almost everything is closed on Sundays in Germany.


We bought a deck of cards and realized that in Europe instead of Jacks and Queens they have B’s and D’s which was so odd to me. We played black jack until we could pass through security. Once we were on the other side Dan passed out and we almost missed our priority boarding. #lackofsleep


The moment the plane landed in Denmark I realized how rainy it was. Immediately I thought of Dan’s cast and how we were going to keep it dry. So before we even left the airport we scored an amazing deal on a dressy raincoat for him. 

I grabbed this baseball hat to keep dry during this week of our first outdoorsy vacation. Peak performance is a European ski apparel company based it of Sweden. It’s new to me but I love the quality of this waterproof hat and it saved my lashes on this vaca! 


After some slight confusion at the airport,  Dan and I grabbed our rental car and drove a few hours away to the ferry dock to get to Ærø island, where we were staying. We missed the ferry by 12 minutes so we stopped at Bella Italia for wine, margarita pizza, cappuccinos and ice cream. We walked around the small harbor and enjoyed the crisp night air. It was such a peaceful place and reminded me of my hometown!



We finally got on the ferry at 10:05 pm and arrived on the island at 11:30 pm. Holy moly what a long day. We travelled by train, plane, automobile and ferry… In that exact order. 

When we arrived to our hotel, the Andelen Guesthouse we were greeted by the owner. You know you’re in a small town when you’re immediately treated like family. He gave us a quick tour and invited us to the group breakfast at 8 am the next day. We assured him we had everything we needed and immediately crashed into some much needed sleep. 

Breakfast the next day was similar to having breakfast growing up. It was loud and entertaining. They had a 10 person rustic dinning table with a spot for each guest. The only differences were that it was immaculately set for a formal breakfast and everyone was speaking different languages. The people were friendly and very happy that we were joining them on the island. 

After breakfast Dan proceeded to nap and I completed my morning yoga routine. Traveling takes its toll on the body and yoga simply makes my life so much easier! If you struggle with back pain while traveling I would highly recommend it. You can download free podcast classes that range from 20-60 minutes. 🙏🏼 #namaste

When he woke up I was ready to go exploring….. but waited (im)patiently for him to get ready.  

I’m completely ready to go and Dan says “I’m gonna shower.” …..

We set out on a mission to find thebeach and happened to find a beautiful path right on the water. 

Our walk led us past the the harbor and police station. We laughed because the only cop in town works from 10 am-12pm on Thursdays. The path eventually led us straight into town. We had lunch and a beer at an adorable outdoor cafe.



We met with Ulrich about our ceremony the next day. She was probably the nicest woman I’ve ever met. She assured us everything was perfect and they could adjust our ceremony time so that we would make our original flight to Norway! (That saved us 900 Euro 🎉🙌🏽😁). In true Antinucci fashion we celebrated with ice cream! 

Ice cream looks so good on you.

We took a quick trip to cliffs and the lighthouse on the island. A storm was brewing and the wind was picking so don’t mind the scary faces, it was hard to smile against the wind. 


It was a quick trip but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Still drinking Cappuccino all over the world💖. 

Love, 

Jenny
Ps. Denmark part 2 coming soon!

I’ll Pack light… and other lies I tell myself.

Whewwww… It seems like every time we plan a trip I tell myself I’ll be ahead on the laundry and I’ll pack a few days before we leave. Guess how many times that has actually happened… <NEVER>. It sounds like the perfect solution to my never ending packing catastrophes but in reality we are too busy to actually make it happen. So here we are less than 12 hours from leaving and I’m doing laundry and packing light (yeah RIGHT!).

It starts out like this: Ok… what do I need? Pants… I’m always cold so I’ll pack some skinny jeans but really I need to pack leggings–>because I’m all about being comfortable while traveling. In go a pair of jeans and two pairs of leggings. Wait… maybe I should check the weather…


Oh crap it’s going to rain too. Alright now I need a versatile jacket that’s waterproof preferably with a hood. I wore my black one recently to the gym… now where is it? Ahhh the laundry. Back to square one. I’ll put that load in next. It’s also going to be partially sunny… let’s be honest my legs could use some sun. I’ll bring two pairs of shorts just in case.

Ok.. so on to activities.. We will be hiking, walking and potentially kayaking (just me since Dan is still in his cast!). So now I need to pack workout gear. More leggings, long sleeve shirts and a few tanks go into the back pack.


I swore to my friends I wasn’t going to pack cosmetics this trip. Although at the time this seemed feasible…I’m changing my mind. I always feel more prepared to take on the day once I have mascara on (and a few shots of espresso too). I absolutely love these little sample size products you get from Sephora or Nordstroms when you order a certain amount. They are PERFECT for traveling. I even got a few of the fragrance samplers so I don’t have to pack a bulky perfume either.

As for make-up I’m bringing my trusty old Lorac pro- 3 shadows mini palate. It’s perfect for travel. I’m also bringing my Everything Eyes by Bobbi Brown. The Bobby Brown eyeshadows are not as pigmented as I’d like but are buildable… and it comes with these perfect mini brushes for travel. That’s what sold me on this palate.


On to shower supplies—> A mini shampoo/conditioner/bodywash, mini hairspray, comb and teasing brush. I refuse to leave home without my Mary Kay facewash, lotion and mini MicroD set…it’s the one thing I’ll never cheat on. I’ve been using it for ten years and I’m still in love. #teamclearskinforthewin

Last but not least, shoes. This trip is going to be mostly outdoors so sneakers, flip flops and one dressy pair of sandals too. Three pairs of shoes for one trip is a huge WIN in my book!

Don’t forget to pack undies! (Or go commando if that’s your thing!)

Love,

Jenny

 

Ps. A special thanks to my best friend for always carrying the heavy back pack. That’s why you’re my favorite!😉

My sweet Aria

Europa Park: You’re Never too old for Amusement Parks.

We started the day with giant cappuccinos and a crash course of teaching Krissy how to drive a manual car. Surprisingly we all made it to Europa Park in one piece and she never stalled the car! If you’ve ever traveled in Europe, you’ll notice that almost all of the cars you rent have manual transmissions so it’s a great skill to have.

Cappuccinos because there is no other way to start the day. Even at McDonalds in Germany they have amazing coffee. Dan also insisted on eating chocolate cake for breakfast –> that’s why I love him!
When we arrived to the park they rerouted us through fields used for farming, sort of sketchy but eventually it rerouted us back to the parking lot areas. Upon entering the park it was lined with flags from many of the European countries. It also had a gorgeous fountain with impeccably kept flower beds. —>I would so hire them to do mine if they were closer but that’s a different story.

You learn to not let the small things (like weeds in your imperfect flower bed) bother you. Traveling the world is far more important to me than creating an image of a perfectly manicured life. (Can I get an Amen?)

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Each part of the park was based on a different country. So as we were walking along it was like traveling the world one country at a time.


We started at the front of the park and our crew went on all of the big roller coasters except the wooden one. I tend to get incredibly motion sick so instead I enjoyed the sunshine and my favorite new summer drink… a cappuccino slushie (to die for!).

Dan and I took our engagement pictures during our trip to Zermatt, Switzerland. Many of the pictures had Matterhorn in the background, so they went on this ride. I was tempted to as well but once we stood in line for 45 mins I realized there were way too many turns on it for this girl!

All of these treats looked incredible but we resisted buying any until the very end. Right before we left the park we bought some of the fresh almonds covered in sugary goodness. The smell of the almonds cooking was irresistible.

I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the immaculately maintained flower beds. This park was so beautiful!

Needless to say… I drank a lot of espresso that day!
Eventually we got hungry for dinner as we headed into the Spain section of the park. This restaurant reminded me of reading about Don Quichotte in Spainsh class in high school! It looked really nice but we ended up staying low key and ate at an outdoor tapas bar.

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This was the place we ended up eating at! So yummy!

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Daniel and his liter of Sangria. I was the DD for the trip–>Cola Light for me!
We had to walk back to the front of the park through this magical forest. I’m pretty sure Dan had more fun than most of the kids there. Here he is attempting to milk a unicorn.

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These three make me laugh so much!
The last ride was the Merry go Round. Krissy insisted that it’s a tradition, “You have to ride the Merry go round, it’s a rule.” So on we went with all the adorable little kids. Even when you’re 27 it’s still fun :).

 

When in Germany:  #AlwaysridetheMerryGoRound

Love,

Jenny

 

 


Burg Lichtenberg: The not so dirty Thirty!

As each year passes we get the opportunity to celebrate life. If you’re going to live in Europe you might as well celebrate your birthday in a castle, like a true princess! Krissy moved here last year and quickly became one of my closest friends (and neighbors) in Germany. We were delighted to help her celebrate another successful year of living life to the fullest. We booked reservations at this beautiful old castle that was built around the year 1200 (ish). It has a beautiful restaurant that overlooks the lush green hills of Germany, including a herd of cows grazing on the hill next to it.


The food was delicious and we enjoyed various ice cream desserts afterwards. It was pretty dark when we left so we didn’t get a chance to tour the castle. After we got all the way home and I realized I left my favorite aviator sunglasses on the table. Luckily most German people are incredibly honest and when I called the restaurant they said “Of course we will hold them for you.”


I went back to get my sunnies today with the intention of picking them up and leaving. However, it was such a beautiful sunny day, I couldn’t resist walking around the huge castle ruins. I hope you enjoy a few snaps of this beautiful historical place.


We are very lucky to live in Deutschland, the land of the castles. So we are starting a new tradition of celebrating birthdays in castles because sometimes…life really is a real time fairytale.

Love,

Jenny

Meet me in Rome, Italy

My sister Brooke is a world traveler. When I told my family I was moving to Europe, she was by far the most excited. The day I left the USA she flew from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Atlanta, Georgia to surprise me during my 30 minute connection. She was the last hug goodbye I recieved before leaving the country I loved so much to chase my dreams on the other side of the ocean. I had tears in my eyes when I left but I knew without a doubt she would come adventuring with me. After narrowing it down to a few places we decided on Rome, Italy. (I’m slightly biased because Italy is my favorite country in Europe thus far). So we packed our bags and made plans to meet in Rome. Daniel and I were exhausted from working, not sleeping and packing last minute. When we arrived to airport we took a shared taxi/van (much cheaper than taking an individual taxi… yet not as complicated as catching a 40 minute bus ride then navigating the subway system and randomly guessing which stop was closest to the place we rented.) If you can find one of these van taxis you can save money and still feel stress free about traveling to your accommodations.

Like usual, we chose a few big things to see while we were in Rome. Brooke chose the Trevi Fountain, Matt chose the Vatican and I chose the Colosseum. We started at the Colosseum and worked our way through the city.

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It’s no secret that history is my least favorite subject even as an adult. However, I learned a TON about Roman history throughout our tours of the Colosseum and the Vatican. I could spend this entire post regurgitating facts that I learned but I would hate to bore you (they have history books for that!). One thing I’ve learned while traveling is that some things you just have to see with your own eyes to make history feel real. I wanted to share a few of my favorite things about Rome, travel and love instead.

1.If you like to travel on a budget (like we do) check out Airbnb for great deals renting entire apartments instead of hotel rooms. This is our second experience using that website and we really loved the 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment we stayed in. It was close to a subway stop and very affordable at 45 Euro a night.

2. Drinking wine for breakfast is completely normal. If you’ve ever drank Italian wine… you’ll never want to go back! This little cafe was located right below the apartment we stayed in. They had the best hot chocolate. It was very similar to a warm melted chocolate pudding consistency. We couldn’t get enough of it.

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3.Meeting my sister Brooke and my brother in law Matt on this side of the world was an unforgettable adventure. They were truly amazing travel partners. I recommend choosing relaxed and flexible people to travel with, you’ll have more fun this way.

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4. I would highly recommend seeing the inside of the Colosseum. It was well worth the tour price. Dan and I are pretty spontaneous so we are not obsessive travel planner type. We enjoy minimally planning and picking places to see/eat at once we get there. (You never really know what mood you’ll be in when you arrive. You may want a long walk and a beer or a two hour nap.) We bought our Colosseum tickets when we got there and avoided the ticket lines by using a guided tour service. We learned so much about the Roman Empire and the history surrounding this gorgeous historic city.

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5.Brooke, you always bring so much happiness to my life and I’m so thankful for your friendship. (we couldn’t seem to stop smiling this trip– or maybe it was the wine 🙂 I caught you off guard here but you just looked so happy I couldn’t help but include this one.

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6. After the tour of the inside of the Colosseum we had an hour and a half break. We chose to grab lunch. If you’re going to walk this many miles in one day, it’s important to make time to eat. Nobody likes traveling with a hangry person. (Hangry=angry because you’re hungry). DSC_0103DSC_0106

7.After lunch we met back up with our group for the Palatine Hill tour.  Our guide Camilla was so funny and sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation. I even stopped taking pictures and let Dan use my camera so I could enjoy looking around. I was pretty impressed with his photography skills. (Minus a few extra pictures he snapped of the floor, my legs and some random woman’s shirt haha).DSC_0138

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8.Don’t forget to pack your sunnies. It seems like everytime we go to Italy either Dan or I forget them. I wore his occasionally throughout the day until I finally bought a cheap pair.

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9. Pack light layers you can add when you get cold. I wore a dress and packed leggings to throw on once the sun went down and it got chilly.

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10. Carry a crossbody purse. Pick pockets are pretty bad in crowded places like the subway. Thanks Meg for the recommendation!!! This one is from Rebecca Minkoff. (I wanted the white one but I snagged this grey one for 99 cents on Amazon. I used my AMEX reward points AND it was on sale. I’ll count that as a fashion win.) It held all the minimal essentials: passport, wallet, phone, keys and lipgloss. It was the perfect size for our quick trip to Rome.DSC_0233

11. Take the time to enjoy the things you didn’t intend on seeing but happen to run into. The amount of marble that is used in Rome was astonishing. I felt like everything was covered in this beautiful white marble.

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12. The Trevi Fountain was outrageously crowded. I would recommend going during the day in off season. You’ll get a better views and you won’t feel so claustrophobic with everyone touching you on all sides.DSC_0245

13.We spent time walking through the small alleys and I finally bought some sunnies near this one! Remember to negotiate your prices with the street vendors. If they can get you to pay double what the product is worth they will and beware… the people selling selfie sticks were pretty aggressive. DSC_0259

We finished out an extraordinarily long day of walking with dinner and drinks in front of the Pantheon.

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The thing about love is… When you leave, a piece of me leaves with you.

Love,

 Jenny

 

Ps. Once again, espresso has us falling in love all over the world!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 


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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.

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

Love,

Jenny


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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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#EVERYTHINGPINK


Love,

Jenny

 

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

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