December Magic

December is magic.

Because,

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Pretty lights and date nights and I love him.

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Festive mannequins

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Friends and wine on the lake and more pretty lights

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Work is also play and my job gifted me with a GoPro to work and play with.

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Being an event blogger means I get to do fun things like cover a Broadway musical. (Unintentionally matching with gal pal is also fun)

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New neighbour friends who bring over Christmas treats to couple’s game night

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Drinking while shopping is grand. (The fake plants did a great job of camouflaging my raspberry champagne goodness)

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Robe chillin’ with my main girl. (Um. Also, do you see all of the lovely lights back there?)

December is always one of my favorite months as the perfect combination of friends and family and festivities give me all of the happy feelings. And let’s not forget all of the pretty lights.

Italy, 2014

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I feel like I’ve been hoarding my memories of Italy to myself for long enough. Where to start?

There was that first day in Milan, where we hung out at a quaint café next to our hotel until check-in time. We were definitely desiring a little sleep and hot showers, and this was the perfect little haven to relax and drink a cappuccino in until then. Later this afternoon we would come back to this same café for another delicious cappuccino, and the barista would, with curiosity and humor in his tone, ask me why I was ordering said drink. Apparently cappuccinos are not ordered in the afternoon in Italy–I remembered reading about this only after making the mistake. Despite his amusement, he sweetly made me my requested beverage. Looking back, I love that I had the chance to learn by being that silly American accidentally breaking a cultural norm in Italy.

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(Venice, St. Mark’s Square)

There was the gondola ride in Venice. The gondolier sang and told us about the area, and the husband and I held hands whilst taking in the many incredible sights and sounds of Italy. It was like a storybook or a sappy romance film, so perfect was this ride around the gorgeous Venice.

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(Gondola Ride and our gondola dude)

There was huffing and puffing our way up 463 steps at Florence’s Duomo, only to have our breath taken away again once we got to the top. That view was more than worth every single step it took to get there. (And, honestly, even getting up there was kind of fun. Despite being seven months pregnant and feeling a little panicky climbing up such a narrow, never-ending space….It was an adventure. And I love me some adventures.)

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(View from Florence’s Duomo)

There was the best pasta of my life in Milan and the most delicious pizza in Florence. There was strolling the streets of Venice in the evening, eating gelato and checking out the corner shops, as the pretty hanging lights twinkled above us. Everything in this city, it seemed to me, was made of magic.

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(Florence’s famous Ponte Vecchio bridge and the bronze doors of The Baptistery of St. John )

There were the typical tourist sights, from Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica and the surrounding St. Mark’s Square to Florence’s Ponte Vecchio bridge to the Sforezco Castle of Milan, all captivating and seemingly too lovely to actually be real. I found that it was nearly impossible to turn anywhere in Italy without being astonished by the beauty of this country.

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milan8(Best pasta ever, Duomo and creepy baby-man in Milan)

And then there were all of the moments in between. The moments that can’t be found on any top sightseeing lists that have turned out to be some of my most treasured. Early morning, sleepy-eyed hotel breakfasts of orange juice, croissants, salami and plenty of Nutella. Shopping at a narrow-aisled Italian grocery store; My husband happily purchasing cookies to eat as a late-night snack back at our hotel room. Every corner, shop, alleyway and café of Venice; Each one able to leave a hauntingly exquisite impression on my memory. Holding hands and sharing quick kisses and constant laughter as we excitedly explored our new surroundings. Laying in bed at night, cuddled up and chatting, exhausted in that mesmerized way that only foreign grounds can exhaust a person. The lively and delightful Italians; The hotel clerk who, upon our checking out and hearing my husband’s accent, started singing a song about a cowboy. Standing on our balcony in Venice, enjoying the view of the canal and the calm stillness of the night. Attempting to figure out the quaintly ancient hotel elevator in Florence. Being both amused and fascinated by the shops, talents and eccentricities of downtown Milan. Train rides to and from Milan, Venice and Florence; Whether reading a book, looking out the window while trying to capture to memory all of the stunning views, or falling asleep on my husband’s shoulder, these train rides completely enchanted me. There was just something magical about leaving one place, still entranced by the charm of the last city, and heading to another, with the childlike excitement of wondering what we’d find next.

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I could post a hundred more pictures, write a thousand more words, and still it would not be enough to explain how incredible our trip to Italy was. Nor could I properly explain how blessed I feel to have had the chance to explore this part of the world with someone I adore so completely. I’m sure more memories will come to me, more inspiration will hit, and more blogs will be written about all of the moments that made up one of the best weeks of my life. Words will never suffice, but still I will write them. I’m reminded even now of my husband noting, on our last evening in Italy, that we had unintentionally spent our first and last night eating at the same gelato shop. It seemed right that my trip should come to a close in the same way that it had started–with a full tummy and heart, next to the boy who never fails to remind me of just how beautiful this big ‘ole world can be.

Christmas+Husband+Adventure=YAY!

Three of my favorite things in this world are adventures, my husband and Christmas. So combining all three into one fun-filled day basically turns me into an overly excited five-year old. hubstractor Yesterday, Robby and I made a mini road-trip out to Elgin, Texas to cut down a tree at their Christmas tree farm. Did I mention I also love mini road-trips? Because guys, I really do. We listened to Christmas music on the way there. Ahem. I also love Christmas music. And when we got there, a llama and Jenny the donkey (who, as a sign warned, was especially likely to bite) greeted us at the entrance and from there we received a tractor ride to go pick out our tree and y’all, I loved that too. At one point hubby reminded me to stop (I suck at stopping) to just enjoy the scenery, which was absolutely gorgeous. The air was chilly and the sun was setting on hundreds of trees and I was standing next to my handsome fellow and life felt really pretty perfect. After roaming the farm for some time, we finally agreed on our tree, which husband proceeded to cut down with the wonderfully giant saw the tractor dudes lent us. And THEN I picked out ornaments at the cute little gift shop and we made our way to a quaint Elgin café to eat scrumptious chicken fried chicken and the biggest slice of cherry cheesecake my eyes ever did see. All of this spent with my very favorite boy in the world and our little girl in my belly, who thoughtfully waited until the ride home to begin kicking my bladder. A magical, festive, adventurous day indeed.

Before our little trip, husband made pancakes. Fuel for the road, y’know?

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“Caution- Animals May Bite- Especially jenny the Donkey”

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Tractor ride!

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I maybe liked holding this saw a little too much.

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 Things I know: Life is good, that cheesecake is large and Jenny the Donkey is the animal voted most likely to bite at our local tree farm.

Where The Magic Happens

I often felt, during my first eighteen years of existence, that my life was on pause. I was very sheltered, painfully awkward, completely inexperienced. I look through my teenage journal entries and I can see that I was practically begging the universe to let life happen to me. Talk about getting what you ask for. For the past few years, my life has been a consistent whirlwind of adventures, accomplishments and life experiences. The whirlwind has definitely not stopped as of late. My world has recently been completely consumed by drastic life changes. Within the past few months and one after another, I’ve graduated college, started working my first ‘big girl’ job and found out that I’m a mother-to-be. I’d be lying if I said that having these huge, life-altering things happening so close together hasn’t been stressful at times. Because it definitely has. It’s been stressful and it’s been a little scary too. Luckily, these past few years, I have been no stranger to this stress and fear-facing stuff. I think that this is how it usually should be. That there isn’t much inspiration to be found in the way of stagnancy. That the beauty and wonder of life is often discovered in the scary, stressful stuff. That the great unknown is where the most growth can be sought out. That being a bit terrified and overwhelmed isn’t so bad. That this is, in fact, where the magic usually happens. Yes, there are days where pregnancy hormones are bountiful and I cry for no apparent reason and my husband is left holding the emotional mess of a woman who was once his anti-tears wife. But more often that that, I’ll have these moments where I just feel overtaken by an overwhelming sense of happiness. Where I am completely taken away by how blessed I am. Being overwhelmingly happy and also a little paranoid by nature is an interesting combination. I sometimes wonder if there’s a happiness quota. The past couple of years have been the most joy-filled of my life. I’ve gotten to this place where I just really like my life. My husband. Our home. Our dogs. Our bun in the oven. My car. My books. My job. My friends and family. My hobbies and passions and travels. My goals and the rate at which I am able to fulfill them. I like all of these things a whole bunch. Heck, I even like me most of the time. And so I really hope that there isn’t a quota on this happiness thing. That I don’t use all of my happy up anytime soon. That I can just go on being happy for as long as I so choose to be. I’m thinking that if I can continue to find the good through the uncertainty and the beautiful through the scary, that I may be just fine.

Some happy things lately:

Dog-walk volunteering at my local animal shelter. Look at the face!

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Going on a mini road trip and spending time with family at Robby’s cousin’s wedding.

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Dad-in-law making fun of my above pose:

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Travel planning

Feeling baby move around in my tummy

Work buddies:

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Being listed on the company website:

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A customer I was pestering to take a picture telling her salesman I was “super cute.”

Adorable text messages from sweet friends:

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Being in the works of making a couple of things that up until recently seemed unattainable, become attainable. Tangible, practically.

It’s a happy, scary, magic-filled life indeed.