when in florence: watch the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo.

Our last night in Florence was spent on the steps of the Piazzale Michelangelo looking over the breathtaking view of the city. On your walk there, pick up a bottle of wine, a bottle of Prosecco, some cheese, strawberries. an sit and enjoy the views till the sun goes down!

travel tip: pack jewelry..or have a friend who does!

There were moments that Katie wanted nothing more to do with her heavy-as-lead backpack on our travel days..but every pound of that backpack that accounted for jewelry was worth it! I don't know if I told y'all yet, but American Airlines lost my bag on my way to Rome..and I didn't have any word of it's whereabouts until 8 days later, 2 days before we were heading home. All I can say is thank goodness for the H&M in Florence and thank goodness for Katie's jewelry bar (which is what we called her treasure trove of jewels wherever it was unloaded in our hotels or apartments)..For the first 2 days of the trip, I was feeling disgusting, wearing my black knit Target dress I wore on the plane, and the only thing that kept me feeling cute, was Katie being able to accessorize me head to toe! Pack jewelry..lots of it...it can turn the simplest of outfits into something wonderful.


when in florence: take a day trip to San Gimignano.

We enjoyed a lovely day trip into the Tuscan countryside to the small village of
San Gimignano..You can take about an hour train ride to Poggibonsi from Florence, and then a short bus ride into San Gimignano. What brought us there was one of the best experiences we had on our trip, a day cooking class in the countryside at Il Vicario, which I will tell you all about later. But we took a break amidst our pizza dough and panzanella to walk around this charming walled city. Make sure to look up and soak in the charming curtains blowing in the windows. Take a moment and sit by the fountain in the main square. Make sure you go into Ciani, a store with beautiful wooden kitchen utensils and knick-knacks. I wish I would have bought more from this little place! It was a lovely break from some of the more touristy stores..You will enjoy your day in this little gem of a town!

new favorite drink.

I spent the weekend with my family on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin staying at a dear friend's gorgeous home. She brought us down these amazing drinks on the dock one evening..
-Frozen Limeade
-Citrus Vodka
-and tons of Fresh Mint
Can't wait to make these!


when in florence: spend a night at Piazza Santo Spirito.

One of my favorite nights in Florence was spent sitting on the fountain at Piazza Santo Spirito. The whole vibe of this square felt incredible authentic and just far enough removed from the hustle and bustle of Florence..quaint restaurants, and tons of people just hanging out and enjoying the night. My suggestion is to buy your wine at one of the groceries around the corner from the Piazza (you will save yourself alot of money), head to Gusta Pizza, and place an order for 1 Gusta Pizza, then go sit and enjoy one of the best things you will ever put in your mouth by the fountain! If you can add in a few great friends, it will be a great night.. I promise.

when in florence: soak up the beauty of the Duomo at night...

I will never forget turning the corner and seeing the Duomo in Florence for the first time..you can hardly believe what is right in fron of your eyes. I will also never forget turning the corner and seeing the Duomo at night for the first time...absolutely breathtaking. Get yourself a bottle of wine, some plastic cups, and go and feast your eyes on this architectural beauty.

when in florence: eat gelato.

The perfect end to every yummy pizza or saucy pizza was just a bit of gelato. Every night I found myself craving a cool, crisp, fruity combination...Peach, Melon, Strawberry, Coconut, Grapefruit..and over there, the peach flavor actually had huge chunks of peach skins..so fresh!
These pics were taken at Gelateria Santa Trinita in Florence!


the trip of a lifetime.

Oh y'all...I am so excited to start this string of posts about my trip to Italy. To say this was the trip of a lifetime is an understatement.There are so many pictures and stories I want to share with you all, but wanted to start with a few overall thoughts for you.

Traveling out of the country is always worth the money and time.
I know full and well that no one normal just wakes up and says, "Of course I've got enough money to go to ______! Pocket change!" BUT when you invest in trips like this, you are not only investing in dear relationships with whoever you are traveling with, you are adding rich seasoning to your life. I always compare my life to a steak that is simmering on the grill..each trial, experience, relationship, is adding one more complex flavor to that steak...and traveling to other cultures around the world adds flavor like you wouldn't believe. I will be telling the stories from this trip for the rest of my life with fondness, thankfulness, and laughter. So when the excuses start flooding in for why you shouldn't go try to remember that.

Embrace Life.
This little phrase became the theme of our trip. When I say embracing life, I mean not being afraid... not being afraid to talk to strangers, to walk into awkward straight on and turn it into something you never thought it could be, to just say yes when every rational part of you says to say no. There is a freedom and confidence that comes along with this, and it is something my mom has been modeling for me in the best way for quite some time. For a little example, my mom knows no strangers. When my mom and step dad come back from vacation, they always have a handful of new friends that they have met on their travels..they even befriended Colin Ferrell on their honeymoon. And they didn't just say hi, they invited him to dinner, and by the end of the trip were introducing him to other friends they had met. I learned how to let go and embrace life on this trip because of Ashlea Taylor and Katie McAfee, the dear dear friends I was traveling with. Life happens when you let people in, when you talk to strangers, when you stray off the usual path...and it is a wonderful thing.

So to give you an overall snapshot of our trip, We flew into Rome, headed straight to Florence for 4 nights, headed down to the Amalfi Coast to the island of Capri for 3 nights, and then back to Rome for the last 3 nights of the trip. Can't WAIT to tell you all about it...

happy 4th.

a little late..but happy 4th! Here are a few photos from the Tekameh, Nebraska Fourth of July Parade. I do love me some old cars.