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Posted on: 1.16.2014

After a couple nights in Venice, we headed over to Florence by train. When I was kid, I went to Italy with my family and did not like Florence, so I wasn't really looking forward to it and we only planned to be there three nights.  Oh wow, was I in for a surprise!  I fell deeply in love with it!  It is a small, walkable city with inexpensive and delicious food, and it is beautiful.  The architecture and art is breathtaking.  Every street begged for me to photograph it and being the navigator, I led us past the Duomo every time.  I know I will be back again someday.  If you are lucky enough to go, please make sure you climb the Duomo, go up to Piazzale Michaelangelo, and eat at Trattoria Sostanza.

Where We Stayed:

Where We Ate:
Trattoria Sostanza (please go here, best chicken I have EVER had)
Note di Vino (wine bar)
Cibreo Trattoria (near Santa Croce, handwritten menu in Italian)
Casa Del Vin Santo (near Ponte Vecchio)
Perche No? (gelateria)
Trattoria ZaZa (order anything with truffle sauce)

Gondolas and Gelato

Posted on: 1.09.2014

Two days after our wedding, we started our honeymoon in Venice, Italy!  It was quite cold there in April and we were jet lagged, but we still had a great time wandering around the streets, getting lost, and taking silly pictures.  We took a gondola ride, ate lots of gelato, and did I mention getting lost?  One of the best parts is getting lost since you find so many interesting nooks and crannies.  The food wasn't as exciting as we hoped and it was crowded everywhere with tourists, but Venice is definitely different than anything and I fully recommend it.

Where We Stayed:
Hotel Danieli (near Piazza San Marco)

Where We Ate:
Da Mamo Trattoria Pizzeria (near the Rialto Bridge)

Happy New Year 2014!

Posted on: 1.02.2014

Happy New Year 2014!
The past year was definitely one of  my favorites.  I had a lot of big changes in my life; I started a new job, got married, went on a dream honeymoon across Italy, changed my name, combined my finances with Jesse, and my office moved locations!  Just one of those would have been a big deal on their own, so I feel very accomplished with the success I had with my goals from last year.

Over the past few days I have been working through Lara Casey's 2014 Goal Setting steps to create my goals for the new year.  Last year I did it, but I had already developed a handful of the goals I wanted to accomplish due to all of the big stuff happening.  This year is a lot more loosely defined.  We have planned a vacation to England in March, but aside from that, I have no strict obligations.  I think the goal setting steps were even more valuable this year because I didn't have anything defined already.  They make you look at what you want your life to look like and how you can make this year the best yet.  A few of my favorite activities are listed below:

What did you learn from what WORKED in 2013?
1:  Taking time away from technology is true rest.  Choosing books, relationships, and adventure is the way to my heart.
2:  I love giving to people.  It makes me feel complete.  It is worth my time to find a way to reach out to others.  Cards are a fun one, but even a text message to see how they are doing today is good.  Buying surprise presents was my favorite one though.
3:  Getting married and working with Jesse to build our dream life means EVERYTHING to me. Just this morning Jesse was saying, "how can 2014 top 2013?"  I told him "this is the first year we will be married the whole time."  And he said "but we got married in 2013, nothing is better than that."  I said "the only thing better than our wedding is our marriage."  It’s true!

What did you learn from what DIDN’T WORK in 2013?
1:  I need to focus on strengthening the relationships I have instead of wishing they were already close.  It only makes me feel sorry for myself, even though I DO have girlfriends I just need to touch base and see them more often.
2:  I need to say no to the TV.  It will give me so much more time to do everything I want to do but say I don't have time for: chat with friends, do photography, cook, be healthy, and read.  I do have time I just choose bad behavior instead of good behavior.
3:  I need to open myself up to people more.  I am fun and silly and talkative.  I may not be a good storyteller, but I’m a great listener and I want to give to people.

My Word of 2014 is VULNERABLE. Vulnerable has a pretty negative definition, but to me it means opening my heart to others.  Without that ability to feel or get hurt, you can never truly get to know somebody.  It's the reason why my strong relationships are just that: strong.  There is so much love in being vulnerable.  I just want to love on others.

2014 Goals:

  1. Complete The Contentment Challenge from January 1st until March 12th.
  2. Save $25,000 in our emergency fund.
  3. Buy a new car.
  1. De-clutter the house and reorganize different areas such as our closets, garage, and bookcases.
  2. Paint the outside of our house.
  3. Do landscaping. 
  1. Exercise four times a week and sit around a lot less.
  2. Create a quarterly book club with Jesse.
  3. Get enough sleep and wake up earlier.
  4. Plan two "adventures" a month. 
  5. Read 12 books in 2014.
  6. Volunteer once a month.

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