Movin’ On Up!

On July 27, we closed on our house! My mom was calling us Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner (our wedding is not for 9 months…¬†I¬†think she’s excited).¬†For the last month, we’ve¬†been busy¬†getting the house in shape. Terrible excuse for neglecting my blog, I know.¬†It’s amazing though (since the house is still new to us) that our¬† 8 Billion chores are actually super fun right now. We’ve been having so much fun making a home together.¬†I can’t wait til we’re married so I can live there too!¬†It’s amazing how much closer we have gotten through all of this. This is seriously going to be the longest 9 months of my life.

Meanwhile, my car broke down and we had to get a new one. My ride of choice? A shiny red 2012 Chevy Cruze 2LT.

2012 Cruze, via Chevy’s website

We test drove the 2013 Dodge Dart and were severely disappointed with the sluggishness of the engine. The 2012 Ford Focus was very fun to drive, but it wasn’t very roomy inside. The Cruze¬†was spacious for its class, and the engine had a whole lotta¬†pep! Hit the gas and off it goes. My kinda car. Add the sunroof and nav system, and I’m in vroom¬†vroom¬†paradise. 40mpg’s sealed the deal.

Adjusting to life with adult financial responsibilities is definitely a challenge, but I think we’re up for it. We’re learning to balance the budget and finding new ways to save. I think I need to start having so much fun doing free stuff that I don’t have time to remember that my spending cash is zero. I mean sure,¬†we can no longer do that trip to Williamsburg I’ve been dying to take this fall, but¬†we can spend a Saturday driving out to the country to hike trails and look at stars. Besides, James and I are long overdue for a picnic. Now we have the perfect opportunity to sit back and enjoy our new life together.

Planning Our First Adventure Together

Planning Our First Adventure Together

James and I are in the middle of planning our honeymoon. It’s so exciting! The only problem is that there are so many places I’d love to go, it’s hard to pick just one.

Of course, a honeymoon is different from a normal vacation. We want something super relaxing, preferably with nice beaches. We want someplace we’ve never been. We also want some place that’s not more than 5-6 hours away from DC¬†in a plane. This pretty much puts us in the Caribbean. Neither of us have ever been, and I’ve always wanted to go. So what’s holding me back from booking?

First of all, for someone who’s never been to the Caribbean, picking an island is intimidating. We were leaning towards Puerto Rico, but since we’re using Marriott points and the only Marriotts¬†are in the middle of San Juan, we decided against it. Right now we think we¬†have narrowed down¬†our options¬†to St. Kitts¬†and St. Croix (USVI). We want nature, calm beaches without huge waves, history, and great dining options (it’s not for nothing that I own TheCheeseLog.com). Also, as someone who spent many a childhood vacation in the Outer Banks,¬†a little pirate lore is a plus.

The other problem with picking a honeymoon spot is that I keep thinking of all the other places on my travel bucket list. I definitely have a bad case of the travel bug. You might call it daydream overload. Luckily, I’m only 20-something. Hopefully I have many more trips in my future. In fact, our Tour de France excursion is already in the initial planning stages…

Cheesesteaks + Football = Love

Cheesesteaks + Football = Love

This weekend, James and I took a mini-vacation to Philadelphia. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. James is a huge fan of the Philadelphia Soul arena football team, I am a huge fan of Philadelphia’s colonial history, and neither one of us believes in setting a limit on cheesesteak consumption.

Surprisingly, for all the times we’ve gone to Philly and checked out historic sites and football games,¬†we’ve never really spent much time in City Center. Even more surprising is that for having lived 26 years in the Megalopolis, James had never seen a skyscraper up close. I had a feeling it would be a new thing for him. I knew he has never been to New York City, even though it’s only 4 hours from where we live. So while we were driving through the middle of Philly, I pointed through the sunroof and said, “Hey, Look up!” He peeks up through the roof and says “Holy Shit!!!” It was his first close encounter with a structure that was nearly 1,000 feet high. This was his first view:

Comcast Center, Philadelphia's tallest building

2012, the year of engagement. That was almost the title of my Facebook¬†album for the pictures from this weekend. After years of dating and worrying that things will never¬†fall into place for you to finally get married and¬†start a life together, it happens.¬†Suddenly,¬†you have people¬†running around worrying about caterers¬†and guest lists, and 800,000,000 details and decisions that threaten to take the focus away from what’s most important, the relationship that is¬†on its way¬†to becoming¬†indissoluble. I¬†love the commitment and the promise of a future together that comes with engagement.¬†I love knowing that a wedding is just a number of months¬†away. But I do miss that, before we were engaged, every date was purely about getting to know each other. I want more of that. I’m really glad that the Catholic Church requires some marriage preparation sessions. I’m looking forward to spending more time focussing on each other, and not so much on wedding details.

So, during this year of engagement, James and I will be doing everything we can to keep our focus on us, and not our wedding. We’ll be making memories, seeing new things, and learning as much about each other as possible. Sure, we have a lot of business to attend to, with finding a place to live and picking¬†out a cake. But I’m trying hard not to stress about wedding decisions. The most important thing we’ll be doing this year is beginning to form our new identity as a family.

My travel bucket list

Lately I’ve been thinking about all the places I want to go, so I decided to make my travel bucket list. Why? Because life is too short to sit around saying you wish you could do something, someday.

Me at the Acropolis in Athens

In no particular order, here are the places I am going to explore:

1. England: I want to see the sights in London, but then I want to drive around and see the countryside as well. Maybe we could take two or three weeks and make it up to the Scottish Highlands too.

2. Australia: I want to spend a night looking at the stars in the Southern Hemisphere, preferably far from city lights.

3. Florence and Tuscany hill towns: I want to see the art at the Uffizi, then check out Siena, Pisa, and little off-the-beaten-path places.

4. Switzerland: I’ve flown over the Alps during sunrise twice. Now I want to see them up close.

5. Austria: I have always wanted to see Vienna and Salzburg, since I was a young kid, mostly for the history. And, who are we kidding, there’s something about the combined forces of Mozart and the Von Trapp family.

6. Caribbean: Um, can I be there right now? Maybe we’ll make it there on our honeymoon.

7. Africa: I want to see the animals, but I’ll stay away from bush food and death by hyenas. Might take some work to convince James on this one.

8. Patagonia: penguins!!

9. France:¬†to see Le Tour de France, of course! This is actually one of future hubby’s dreams. I’ve already been to Paris, Chatres, and Versailles, but I’ve always wanted to see more of the French countryside. I want to learn French first, though.

10. Spain: I want to see the Prado in Madrid, the Alhambra castle, the Mosque of Cordoba, and flamenco dancing in Seville. Basically, I want to make a day stop to Madrid for the art museum, then spend a week galavanting around Andalucia.

There are a few more places I could add, like medieval towns in Holland, Belgium for the chocolate, Germany for kicks… but I think these are the main ones. Not sure if I’ll ever make it out to Africa, the shots and the toilet situation might be enough to keep me away. BUT… Fianc√© and I are already making plans to go to 2 of these places by 2014! Guess which!!

Dreams That Have Come True …and ones I’m still working on

Today I decided to make a list of all the dreams I’ve ever had that have come true. When everything seems to be going wrong, it’s nice to think about all the things that have gone right in your life.

Dream 1: Marry the man of my dreams

Stop gagging, I know it’s clich√©.¬†I’m engaged to my best friend and it’s the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me.

Dream 2: Graduate from The Catholic University of America

One sunny spring day when I was 5 years old, I was playing in the front yard with my big brother Ryan. He was telling me what college was: “And they have all different universities, like Maryland University, American University, Catholic University…” “There’s a Catholic univeristy???” my little self said with complete wonder and awe. “Yeah,” said Ryan,¬†“but you’ll never go there. It’s too expensive.” 20 years later, I’m a CUA alumna.

Dream 3: Go to Italy

I went with the CUA honor’s program in 2008 and had the time of my life!

Dream 4: Become a world traveler

When I was in 7th grade, we took a field trip to the Newseum, where I got my picture on the cover of National Geographic with the headline: “Explorer of the Century”. I’ve been to 6 countries so far, which isn’t a whole lot, but I think climbing on ruins in the Aegean, haggling with a rug salesman in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, and climbing to the top of Chartres Cathedral to look out over the French countryside¬†count as fulfilling this dream.

Dreams that sort-of happened

Dream 5: Write my own newspaper

This one was from my elementary school days. If they had blogs back then, I would have been all over it. Maybe that’s why I like blogging so much: because it makes me feel like I’m 8 years old sitting at my desk playing with the typewriter my grandfather gave me.

Dream 6: Sing with Andrea Bocelli

Ok so this didn’t exactly happen. But I did get to sing in the choir when Pope Benedict XVI visited DC, and Placido Domingo sang with us. Pretty close if you ask me.

Dreams I’m still working on:

Publish a book, go stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere, visit all the places on my travel bucket list, and have a wonderful home with James where I have a pretty place to write and a sky that is dark enough to see the stars.

I hope all of these come true someday, and that after they do, I find new ones to take their place. A girl’s always gotta dream, after all. ‚ô•

Trip to Athens and Istanbul?

First of all, sorry for neglecting the blogosphere for so long… I’ve been completely overworked and overstressed… no excuse, I know. Now getting down to business..

I have a few friends who would like to go to Greece this summer, and they found a great deal on a trip that includes Athens… and Istanbul. I’ll admit that there are many things in Istanbul that I’ve always wanted to see, but…
I’m an American girl, blonde, somewhat overweight – in otherwords, obviously western. I’m not stupid, but the only languages I speak are English, Spanish, and Italian. I’m also not loaded and I hear things become insanely expensive over there, as they jack up prices for Americans.
My question to you all:
Should I be worried?