Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I see London, I see France, I see Roman Underpants?

I have a ridiculous desire to travel through Europe. I blame it on Mary-Kate and Ashely Olsen. When I was a young and very impressionable teenager I loved watching the Mary-Kate and Ashley movies. Do you remember those? Titles like Passport to Paris, Winning London and When in Rome? Do you notice a theme to these popular titles? All three of them have the name of an extremely popular city in Europe. After watching those movies as a young teen I have been dreaming about the day when I would get to go. Two and a half years ago I wrote this very similar post day dreaming about a European vacation. Well I am excited to report that I am actually going!!!

I have spent the school year babysitting after school 3 nights a week to earn enough money to fund the better part of our vacation. We will be buying our plane tickets this weekend and then I will be in official crazy excited vacation planning mode.

We plan to leave on June 20th (my last day of school.) We will fly to Rome, spend 3 days there, fly to Venice spend 2 days there, then fly to London and spend 5 days there. Then Mike will come back to the united states and I will fly to Paris. There I will stay with my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin who live just outside of Paris for about a week. I am really excited about my bonus week with my Aunt. I haven't seen her in ages and I don't even think I have met my little 4 or 5 year old cousin. That will be a lot of fun to spend time with them and just relax with no intense travel agenda. To walk to the local markets and park and get a feel for what it would be like to actually live in France... oh I can't wait!!

Here is where I NEED YOUR HELP! Please tell me everything I need to know about traveling to these places. Hotels, restaurants, shuttle services from airports to hotels, things to do, do you buy the city pass or just pay per sight you go? Do you do an organized guided tour or do you try to go to all those places on your own? What is the best website to buy tickets to shows like Les Miserable in London? I can think of several of you who have visited Europe and these cities especially. I have read all your posts and looks over all the pictures and I want to know how you decided what things to do, what things to skip. All of it! I want as much impute as possible. I would be so grateful for any help that you have to offer.




I don't think June 20th will come fast enough. I think my 25th birthday will undoubtably be one I will never forget!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Family Time in Ohio

One of the many things I love about my school is the two week March break. I would rather have two weeks off in a row than 1 week in feb and 1 week in April like the other schools in our area. Why is that? Because you can go on vacation for a week then spend the next week at home recovering from your vacation! It is perfect. I was lucky that I had a week off from Grad school as well so that I could go home to Ohio and not miss class. It was inspired!

I went home last Saturday. My family picked me up from the airport and we went straight to my sister Katie's choir contest. When I was in choir in high school we use to compete in the same contest so it was pretty nostalgic to go back. I listened to my old choir sing a piece of music that I had sang before. I also got to see my former choir director who no longer directs at my high school so it was a coincidence to run into her. I really miss singing in a formal choir setting. After the contest we went to Olive Garden for lunch, so delicious! Then we headed to the mall for a little shopping. My poor dad was a trooper. With 4 girls he didn't really have a choice not to go shopping but he didn't complain... even when we took 2 to 3 times longer than what we said we would take. After I had scored a new outfit or two from the LOFT we headed to Lazar Quest for some Lazar tagging. Once again I did really bad but had a blast acting ridiculous with my sisters. We were slightly out of control chasing down small boys who were trying to shoot us and making fun of annoying high school girls. My dad was a little more stealth and got a decent score... but I guarantee we had more fun than he did :)

The typical church, lunch, sleep, relax, visit Sunday. My mom , KT and I stayed up till 1 am talking about the woes of teenage life and how to overcome the challenges that come along with it. I love my sister so much!

My mom and I traveled down to Columbus for a surprise visit to my grandparents house. My grandpa had hip replacement surgery a few weeks ago so he wasn't able to drive up to see me as they normally would do. So I thought it was my turn to go see them. When they didn't answer the phone when we called to give them a heads up we were a little worried they were up to the same mischief as us driving to New Phila to surprise us. Luckily they were at physical therapy and arrived home shortly after we got there. While we waited for them to get there we got Rally's (my favorite fast food burger place) and ate it in the car. I wish we had on in CT! That afternoon I spent visiting with my grandparents. We went through the large file my grandma has for me. It is full of my random drawings, stories, pictures, ticket stubs, programs ect. that she has collected over the years. I really enjoyed the things I found in there and we all had some good laughs reading the stories I use to write. Glad she has kept such good tabs on me. It is special to see that stuff, but even more special that she cared enough about me to save it.

That night we meet up with my moms sister Becky and had dinner with her at Brio. It was a lovely evening catching up and celebrating my moms birthday (a few days early.) I really enjoyed myself.
We stayed the night at my grandparents house but had to leave bright and early to travel to my other grandparents home in Zanesville for a visit with them. Before I left though I made them take some pictures with me. You can never have enough, especially of grandparents. I am so lucky to have these two people in my life. I would say I am closer to my grandparents than the normal person is. They are more like a second set of parents to me. I call them at least once a week and stay up to date with them as much as I do my other family members. They are phenomenal people and I am lucky to have them as grandparents!

The rest of the morning and early afternoon we spent with my mom's parents, who unfortunately I didn't get a picture with. My grandma went with me to JoAnn Fabrics to help me pick out the fabric I planned to use to make my baby quilt that week. She also showed me the tools I would need to make things easier for myself (like a rotary cutter.) We grad Chipolte for lunch then went back to their house. While we were there grandma showed me how to cut all my squares out evenly. I was so lucky to have her help. She is an amazing semesters and crocheter. She gave me a beautiful white crotched blanket to bless my future children in. It will be a cherished gift for sure. We had to leave earlier than I would have liked to make it back to New Phila to take my sisters to piano. Then we had homemaking or "an additional meeting" at the church that night. It was fun to travel to see my grandparents but it was nice to be back in Phila to stay for the next few days.

WEDNESDAY: I spent all day and night working non- stop on my quilt. My friend Sheryl came over around 9 am and got me started showing me how to do everything. She was an excellent teacher. I did run out of thread so I took Elizabeth out on a date to get some more thread and fabric (for a boy quilt this time.) I also treated Liz to a blizzard so it wasn't that boring of a date for her, she was a good sport.

THURSDAY: I was proud of myself because I woke up and went to the gym on vacation. After I got back from the gym I got right to work and started to work on my second quilt. I spent most of the day working on my 2nd quilt. Although I did take a break for my daddy/daughter dinner to Texas Roadhouse. I really enjoyed myself. My dad told me about about his work, speaking engagements and health/fitness programs. He is a stud. He wrote a book and had someone publish it for him and they made 6,000 copies which sold like hotcakes and now they are printing I think 15,000 more. It is a medical book on ionized water and the health benefits behind it. It's not a book you would but in the book store but when you go to a conference that talk about ionized water. Pretty cool stuff. That night I finished my second quilt.

It was a girls day. Elizabeth skipped school and we picked KT up after her state testing was over at school. Then we headed to Massillon to see the movie "The Lorax." I don't remember reading the book and didn't really have much of a desire to see the movie but Lizzy really wanted to so we all went. I ended up LOVING the movie. I laughed nearly the whole time, when I wasn't laughing I was crying. lol. Such a good movie! My favorite part was when the bears were trying to get the Once-ler and his bed out of the tent at night and the humming fish were singing the Mission Impossible theme song. My mom got a kick out of us three girls because every time she looked over at us w were laughing harder than before. We really liked the movie. After the movie we went to my sisters favorite restaurant Stake and Shake. Then we headed home. That night my mom and I went out to dinner with some of the women in the ward then came back to our house for dessert and visiting. It was fun to catch up with the ladies in my ward. Most of which were at one point my Young Women's leaders and sunday school teachers.
My mom and I went to the gym and tried to work off the guilt we felt from the dessert we ate the night before. We also ran errands and I got even more fabric to work on more quilts. I love making them, who would have known I would love to sew so much! For lunch I made my family tostadas. They had never had them before and after one of my YW whose mother is from Latin America taught me how to make them ... I'm pretty sure they are flat out the best tostada around. After we ate lunch we had time for a mini photo shoot with my sisters and then it was off to the airport to head back to CT. I hate leaving home not knowing when I will get to go home next. I can't wait for the summer to get hear so I can go back and spend time with not just my sisters but my brothers too.

I love my family so much. I think I am one lucky girl to have parents and sisters/brothers who love me as much as I love them. That is something to never take for granted!

My Valentine to Mike

So I have this little problem. I really, really like doing special things for my hubby. I love planning romantic dates and surprising him with little things at work or at home. I don't have time to do it as often as I like though. So when special days (like valentines, which is the anniversary of our first kiss) come up it is hard for me to just sit around and let him do all the work. So although we agreed that he would plan our valentines day I had a few things of my own planned.

I left work a little early to go to Mikes office to do a few sneaky things of my own. When I got to his office I went right to work decorating his car. I have always wanted to "ask" him on a date like the girls in Utah ask a guy to a dance. Since he might be a little embarrassed on a regular day if I decorated his car I figured I got a free pass on valentines dat. So I decorated his car and wrote him a poem. I tried to give him a few hints as to what the theme of our date would be. It was going to be a "Tangled" theme, I used words like glowing lights, far of land and magic journey. I used wanted posters with sketched pictures of Mike and even had a valentines day sticker of Rapunzel. Although he had no idea what the theme was, but I like was proud of my efforts. (I also have to give credit where credit is due, I didn't get this idea on my own. I once again turned to my favorite dating website Dating Diva for my idea. I LOVE them! They help me plan all my big dates.)

After I finished my mischief outside I went in side to drop off a little valentines dat treat to my valentine. He was surprised to see me and I think he enjoyed his cupcake as well.
(I thought these cupcakes were to beautiful not to take a picture of. I wish I could say I made them but I don't have that kind of time on my hands on a workday. They are from the bakery at Palmers in Darien)

I spent Saturday getting the house decorated for our date. Since I was going to be using paper lanterns I decided to decorate my house using an Asian theme. It was a lot of fun. I think it turned out really nice. I even had the pandora playing a traditional chinese music station. I really felt like I was somewhere else. Mike was super surprised when he got home. He had no idea what I was planning just what time he needed to be home. I had planned to make a bunch of chinese food but I didn't feel that well that day so I just went to P.F. Changs and Panda express and got a little of all of our favorite things. It was a feat indeed and we had leftovers for several days. Our dinner was lovely, the food delicious and the conversation wonderful, perfect start. After dinner I told him we were going to watch Tangeled. He was a little skeptical since it is a Princess cartoon but I promised he wouldn't mind it, and he didn't. I don't know that he will be watching it again anytime soon but he liked it enough for our date.

I had pre ordered paper lanterns that we could light and send up in the sky. I had planned to take them to the beach which I thought would be a romantic backdrop. But alas the weather had other plans. It was raining so we weren't able to light them but thats ok. We can do it for another romantic date night.

Not ready for the night to be over we decided we want to go get some dessert. We thought about going somewhere fancy like the melting pot but decided the only thing we really wanted was another one of those cookies monster like desserts from Coldstone again. So back we went to coldstone, twice in the same week. We once again got one dessert to share and devoured it in no time at all.

What a great evening we had together. These kinds of dates where I put so much of my thoughts and time into are really so special. We always have so much fun together and fall in deeper and deeper into love. *LUCKY*

Mike's Valentine to Me

I am really glad Mike and I got married in August. That means that we have 6 months between valentines day and our anniversary. Mike and I have come to an agreement that we will trade off who plans the date for both these events. Since I did our anniversary and Valentines day last year Mike thought it was his turn to plan a nice evening for valentines day.

He really went above and beyond and treated me like a Princess the whole day. When I went out to my car in the morning he had left a ballon and valentines day stickers all over it with a note telling me how much he loved me.

When I went out to my car after work I found a dozen of beautiful red roses on my car. It was like the good ol' days when we dated. I think I found flowers on my car every other week when we were dating. My very own prince charming.

I had class on Valentines day so I got home around 6:30 and Mike was already there with a candle light dinner waiting for me at the table. Since he didn't have time to make a nice dinner on a work night he picked up pizza, salad, and Vodka Sauce pasta from my favorite pizza place in Stamford (Remo's.) He even had a "love position" for us to drink in our champagne glasses.

But that wasn't all. When I went to go upstairs this is what I saw. A nice little poem and a path of hugs and kisses leading up to the bedroom. When I got to the bedroom he had balloons, rose pedals, and gifts laying on the bed. After 3 1/2 years of marriage he really knows how to make me happy. He gave me a pair of fuzzy socks and a charm for my pandora necklace which were both lovely. But the gift I loved the most was home made. He printed out every letter of the alphabet on a little notecard and entitled them "The ABC's of Love." For every letter of the alphabet he wrote something he loved about me or a memory we made together that coordinated with that letter. I LOVED it and will cherish that gift forever. Those are the best type of gifts ever.

For dessert we decided to go out. We use to love going to Coldstone when we were dating in Rexburg so we thought it was appropriate to go their for dessert. Before we walked in we saw a picture of this amazing looking dessert on the window and nothing else even stood a chances. It was similar to a cookie monster (another favorite dessert in Rexburg from my former place of employment, Cragios.) We knocked this thing out in 2 minutes, maybe less. It was delicious! Sidenote: I love that Mike will share a dessert with me and not make me get my own.

It was the perfect Valentines day and I felt very loved and cared for. It meant a lot to me that Mike put so much thought into what would make me happy and feel special. He really is a wonderful husband and I am so lucky to have found my very own prince charming who can make every day feel like a happily ever after.