On the 11th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

On the 11th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me…

…enough wonderful memories to last a lifetime, and I’m only 26.

Starting with our movie party the day after Thanksgiving, we had a party at our house every other week.¬†James’s birthday, Christmas, and a very happy New Year’s day with my brother and sister-in-law and their 3 kiddos.

Christmas at our house, 2013
Christmas at our house, 2013

Oh and we went to Williamsburg, VA the weekend after Christmas to celebrate my birthday. Oh and we saw The King and I at the Olney Theater on New Year’s eve, staring Paolo Montalban¬†(who was also the prince in ABC’s Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella with Brandy, Whitney Houston, Jason Alexander, and Whoopie Goldberg).

Today was my first real day to myself in over a month, and oh what a beautiful day it was. The bright sun shining down on the 5 inches of snow on our deck made everything look so cheerful. First I made eggnog bread pudding (and eggnog ice cream later in the evening). Then I went to Home Goods and got this lovely table runner to update my kitchen from Christmas to Winter:

January 2014 Table

I love it. It reminds¬†me of Williamsburg, and¬†the way the world looks today: nothing but sky and¬†snow. With the sky as bright as it was today, the stage was set for daydreams. I started thinking, if we’re not going to adopt just yet, what is it that I would like to do? What are some things I have always wanted to do, but never got around to? Maybe 2014 is the year I will do some archaeology work, or finally take that 2 week road trip around Merry Old England, or fly to Florence with my love. Dreams are what this new year is made of, and the only limit is that big bright beautiful blue sky.

The Beginning

The Beginning

Once Upon a Time on June 1, 2013, I married my true love, James. We had a beautiful wedding with 200 of our closest family and friends. Even though we had so many people, to us it felt small and intimate. Having¬†James’s uncle, a priest, as the¬†celebrant¬†made it all the more moving. James’s cousins were the altar servers, and our siblings, cousins, niece and nephew¬†were the attendants. For our dedication to the¬†Blessed Virgin, we used a rose from¬†James’s grandfather’s¬†funeral. My sister sang “The Servant Song” after Communion. We were surrounded by our family. It was perfect.

The Bells of St. Patrick's
The Bells of St. Patrick’s

We were so unbelievably happy on that day and we’ve been glowing ever since.

We honeymooned¬†on St. Thomas, USVI. It was Amazing. Capital “A”.¬†Neither of us had ever been to the Caribbean. We were more than impressed. When we weren’t lounging at the Marriott resort, we were exploring the 17th century Danish sights and hunting down postcard beaches. The day we spend on St. John was my favorite.

Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI
Trunk Bay, St. John, USVI

One more place crossed off the bucket list! I suppose I’ll have to do a travel post soon.

A few weeks after we came home, we went to Avalon, NJ with all of¬†our aunts, uncles, and cousins on James’s side.

Our Family in Avalon, NJ
Our Family in Avalon, NJ

It was probably the best beach vacation I’ve ever had, excluding our honeymoon, of course. I love our family so much and it was such a wonderful experience to spend so much time with them.

I know we’re not even 3 months in yet, but I have to say that I feel so blessed. I have a wonderful husband and the best family in the whole wide world. ūüôā

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•

Big Changes

It’s official, I’m going to Athens and Istanbul this summer! I quickly got over my fear, and have come down with a serious case of the travel bug. I only wonder if there’s any way I can make enough money and have enough time off to see all the places I want to see. My travel “bucket list” is quite literally over a mile long.

In other news,¬†my family is¬†moving to Silver Spring, which means I have to pack up absolutely everything and get rid of everything else. Space is going to become a real issue starting next month. On the up side, I’ll be able to get a dog at this new location. I’m thinking of naming him Fritz.

I was pretty bummed out about the move, but now that I’ve got a few things to look forward to, it might not be so bad. A trip to Europe and a new dog? I mean come on, that’s gotta cheer anyone up.

I wonder if 2 days in Istanbul is enough to write a story moving enough to be picked up by National Geographic.

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?