Italian dreamin'  

Posted by Rachel in

Ok so now for the Italian honeymoon post - I'll keep it relatively short and spare you allllll the details. =)

After the wedding, we stayed Saturday night at the Dr. Phillips House - one of the houses that make up the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne. It was great and our friends Brandi Michelle and Kirk had even left the wedding early to decorate the room for us which was a perfect addition to the evening. Sunday was SUCH a relaxing day after weeks of NON-stop activity leading up to the wedding, and it was the best decision we made to not book our flights to Italy until Monday morning. We slept in, went to Barnes and Nobles to buy books for the honeymoon, went to lunch at 903 Mills Market (a local Orlando fav spot) and then took a nap by the lake right by 903. We stayed that evening at the Airport Marriott just to be closer to the airport the next morning, which was also a great decision for the ease of Monday morning.

So Monday morning began our travel adventure that didn't end until Tuesday afternoon in Italy. We started with MCO-JFK-Paris CDG-transfer bus-Paris ORLY-Pisa. Then from the Pisa airport, we got on an airport train to the Pisa train station, where we caught a train into Vernazza, the city in the Cinque Terre where we were staying. We stayed the next few days at the Rose Camere Guest House with views of the main street from a private balcony. After checking in though, we didn't have the energy to do much else but eat dinner that night and then head to bed - we were so tired from all the travel!

For the next few days, we explored all the towns in the Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. Some days we chose to hike between the towns, sometimes we took the train, and one time we took the ferry, which almost ended with us stranded in one of the other towns with no way to get back to Vernazza for the night! We ended up sprinting (with bags and purchases) about 3/4 of a mile back to Riomaggiore across the romantic Via Del Amore JUST in time to catch the last ferry of the day. We were quite the spectacle and so many of the locals just stared (stupid tourists, I'm sure they were thinking). This incident was only AFTER the time we almost missed the train and had to run across the platforms to make it.

We spent a LOT of time climbing stairs and hiking, as that is really what the whole area is made of. We ate lots of yummy pasta. Nick's favorite meal was probably the seafood pasta dish and we both loved the homemade pesto with fresh pasta. And the best dessert? Hands down: Tiramisu. We explored alleyways, took in beautiful views from clifftops, poked around old cemeteries, ate delicious gelato as many chances as possible and watched amazing sunsets every night. We felt that it was a perfect balance of relaxing and sleeping in mixed with good exploring, and nothing too touristy. We were so sad to leave on Saturday morning, but excited for our next adventure!

We took the train Saturday to Pisa, since we flew out from there early Sunday morning to go to Paris. I'd been to Pisa before, and seen all that it had to offer (which is really only the Leaning Tower...), but Nick hadn't so of course we poked around town a bit.

Then had a delicious Tuscan dinner complete with more homemade pasta before calling it a night at the Michele Guest House. We decided we are OK if we don't ever make it to Pisa again - it's kind of dirty feeling. Sunday morning, our host, Michele himself, made us an early breakfast and then drove us to the airport for no extra charge "because it was our honeymoon."

We flew into a rainy Paris, but embarked on a FULL day of sightseeing nonetheless. First stop: Hotel Lutetia.

With the help of and a "thumbs-up" from our friend Zac who used to live in Paris, we landed a pretty sweet deal on this luxury hotel in a great area of town. Walking distance to the Luxemburg Gardens, across the street from a metro station, and with beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower in the distance, this place was pretty awesome. When we checked in early, our room wasn't yet ready but they just decided to upgrade us to a Junior Suite on the next to last floor with views of the Eiffel Tower instead of making us wait. I'm pretty sure the note on our reservation about it being the last night of our honeymoon helped pull some strings. We set our stuff down in our awesome suite and explored the two closets, sitting room area, bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms, and THREE balconies overlooking the Eiffel before heading out to see the city. I knew in advance that I loved Paris - I went there once in college. But Nick had never been and was skeptical based on some friends' reviews. I was determined to convince him of the awesomeness of the city, and I believe that Paris (I mean, really, the city speaks for itself) convinced him.

We only had about 6 hours, but in that time, we saw the Luxemburg Gardens, the Notre Dame, the outside of the Lourve, Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees, the Eiffel Tower (where we decided it was smart to climb MORE stairs because we are cheap??) and the Sacre Coeur. PACKED day, but worth it. After checking in, we went to our room twice during the day - once to change for dinner, and then again after dinner. The first time, we found a bottle of champagne, pastries and chocolates waiting for us on the coffee table. The next time, our bed was covered with robes in the shape of hearts and rose petals leading to the bathtub that they had filled for us. They really celebrated us well! It helped that we could enjoy all of their goodies while watching the lights of the Eiffel Tower off our balcony.

Monday morning, we woke up to the reality that we had to head home, leaving beautiful Europe behind. But, what an amazing trip it was! People talk about you honeymoon being great for all sorts of reasons, but for us, we really enjoyed not only exploring the location we chose to visit (when can we go back to Europe, please?!), but also just being on our very first vacation together - with no one else there, nothing specific that we HAD to do, no set plans, no responsibilities, and absolutely no email, phone calls, or any other form of communication with the "outside" world. Sweet bliss.

We get to go on honeymoons yearly, right?!?



Posted by Rachel

The past few months have been a WHIRLWIND and I am finally taking a few minutes to record some of it here on my neglected blog.

My last post was about all the change that was coming in my life, and I can say now that I have been through the change, am living in change, and still have more change to come, I am sure.

Since so much has happened in the past month, I’m breaking my blogging into chunks, and so today…. WEDDING!

I’m married. Still a little weird, but great. March 26, 2011 is a day I will NEVER forget. Seriously, you spend all this time planning and putting creative energy into making your wedding day exactly what you want it to be, and then the day when you see it all come together is just so memorable, for multiple reasons. Since Nick and I’s wedding was very do-it-yourself, we spent what felt like a TON of creative energy and TIME on making the day our own. We had non-stop projects, from wine bottle vases AND refill pitchers, tin can lanterns and vases, photo window frames, wooden signs, yard games, etc. Really, the projects seemed never ending, but they were fun. Most of them… Nick might not say that about the poking of star-shaped holes into 80+ cans. =) But at any rate, we loved seeing how it all came together. We loved every minute of our wedding day. We loved having so many there to celebrate with us, the great amount of friends we had willing to lend a helping hand, the beautiful weather, the amazing venue (and the couple who owned it!), the food, the flowers, the time with friends and family the week before, our photographer(s), the ceremony, Uncle John’s message, the music, the reception, and the list could go on. Everyone says you won’t remember your wedding day and that your morning will be rushed, and all that, but honestly, I felt pretty relaxed most of the day, and I remember so much about the day! I don’t feel it was a blur, and I’m really grateful for that.

Above any of the details I mentioned above, the defining moment of the day was when I finally saw Nick at the end of the aisle (and I won the bet we had because he cried when he saw me), and I knew that I was about to marry him. Forever. I think we made almost everyone in the crowd cry throughout our ceremony (ourselves included), but we were so touched by that (you can click here to see our photographer’s post on how much she cried: We just pray that our ceremony was what we wanted it to be – a picture of Christ in every way possible. And we pray that those who were there who don’t have a relationship with Jesus would have seen him glorified far more than any of those lovely little details of the day that still did make us so happy.

I’ll try to continue blogging the next few days and weeks about all the other big things (honeymoon, packing, moving, Colorado, etc.), but in the meantime, why don’t you go check out some of our amazing photographer’s photos from the wedding? and


A change will do you good...  

Posted by Rachel in ,

I'm really hoping the lyrics of Sheryl Crow's song prove true, because it would seem that this year is destined to be the year of CHANGE for Nick and I.

Apparently we aren't satisfied with the change that marriage is going to offer...because we've decided to tack on the huge change of MOVING across the country in the same month. Yep, it's true. We are moving to Colorado. Nick has been offered a job opportunity with Wycliffe in Colorado that we are really excited about. Though we aren't sure exactly where yet, we'll either be Denver, Fort Collins, or somewhere in between. And everyone says that the Denver area is GREAT, so you should all begin planning your next vacation there.

So really, this all just means a lot of change in a short amount of time. Wedding on March 26 (that's 43 days - wow!), return from honeymoon on April 4, and start driving (if you were curious, it is in fact THIRTY hours of driving) to Colorado on April 21. Talk about a whirlwind!

We are definitely excited, but the reality is also beginning to set in. The wedding planning has kept it at bay some, and we are yet to see if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Hopefully I don't become a basket case as soon as the wedding high ends.

We both know that it will be a harder move on me than on Nick, if for no other reason that this has been my home for so long, and only his home for 2 years. I have invested so much time into friendships here that I can't even imagine leaving and starting over. This was my first foray into life on my own. I have never been 30 hours from my family. I don't know how to bake at high altitudes! I might die trying to run at an elevation of 5,280 feet! But, even with all the things I could worry about, I can't think of someone I'd rather follow thirty hours from home, and we are excited to start a new adventure together. Plus, Nick has been dying to get out to the mountains and out of the Florida heat for as long as I've known him, so really, it's a perfect fit.

So, here's to a couple months of CRAZY, a whole lot of change, and cold weather, which will be a totally new concept for this Florida girl!


An overdue announcement  

Posted by Rachel

So, the way overdue announcement is that I'm engaged, but I assume any of you reading this probably already know that. And actually, at this point, Nick and I have been engaged almost 3 full months, and we only have three more to go before our wedding on March 26, 2011! BUT, I meant to post the story of how Nick actually proposed on the blog here and I kept forgetting. Well, actually, clearly I forgot to post a lot of things on here since my last post was about the SUMMER. Oops.

So, without further ado, here is our engagement story:

Nick had gone home for a couple of weeks in September, and so on Monday evening, September 27, I was supposed to be joining him for a Wolverton family vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We were scheduled to have a day together on Tuesday before joining up with the fam that evening in the U.P., though I didn't know the "mystery"plans for the day. After hours of delayed flights on Monday evening, I finally got into Flint, MI at 2am (almost had to be delayed until the next day, which would have caused Nick GREAT problems) EARLY Tuesday morning. By 8:45am though, Nick and I were on the road to our “mystery” date that he had planned to celebrate our one year anniversary (just a little bit late). By the time I finally knew where we were going, we were buying our tickets to the Mackinac Island ferry in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We rode the 1:30pm ferry to the island and since there are no motor vehicles on the island, we promptly rented a tandem bike to ride together to explore.

After one full 8 mile loop of the island, we bought some fudge and then headed back to this certain spot that Nick really wanted to re-visit. It was some large rocks all along the shoreline of the lake in a spot that also had some beach area. Out of his rather full backpack (which I had questioned him about multiple times all day), he pulled a blanket, and spread it out on one of the flat rocks.

Once we got situated, he pulled out a present he said he had made me for our one year anniversary. I untied the ribbon from the box to find three separate pieces inside – labeled Part 1, 2, and 3.

Part 1 was for the past. It was a mostly empty mason jar of mustard seeds and in the attached note he spoke of how he had placed a mustard seed in it for every day that we had been dating (377). He also had written out two scriptures (Matt 13:31-32, Matt 17:20) about the concept of faith as big as a mustard seed.

Part 2 was for the present. It was a small hand towel. In the attached note, he spoke of sacrifice and service and the parallel of how a husband should love his wife as Christ loved the church. He then shared John 13:4-5, 14-17 and wrote that he wanted to love and serve me daily. He then pulled a bowl out of his backpack, filled it with water from the lake, added some hot water from a thermos he’d brought along, and washed my feet while talking about servanthood and how he wants to love me in that way daily.

Part 3 (a) was for the future, and the note was tied around a full jar of mustard seeds. His note talked about 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 and how love was all we needed. Then he said that since he hadn’t put the mustard seed in the jar yet for that day, he’d like us to do that together. Before we could pack everything up, he said that there was still a 3b section, and proceeded to fish in the mustard seed jar until he pulled on a little tab of paper that was tied to my RING. Then he got on one knee (kinda… we were on a rock and I was sitting) and asked me to marry him. Duh, I said yes! Then he sealed it with a kiss, which was monumental since that was the first time he had ever kissed me. Then we went to dinner at the Woods, a cute little Bavarian style wilderness lodge that had really yummy food. After dinner, we took a horse drawn carriage back to the ferry dock to catch the last ferry off the island.

When we got back to the car, I thought all surprises were over until I found in my seat a huge pile of letters from all of our closest friends and family. Because so much of Nick and I’s budding friendship had been through emails, we began to jokingly refer to each other as pen pals, so he thought letters were suited well to our relationship, and asked a lot of people to send letters to us so we could read them together. Perfect ending to a perfect day.

Even better was the fact that we then went on to spend about 4 uninteruppted days in the U.P. with NO cell phone service and barely any internet. Made it hard to fill people in on the big news, but kinda nice to be forced off the radar. That week, one of my "assignments" was to write this story down (this version and a longer version, which I've spared you from) so we would have it to keep for years to come. And to share with lovely people like you.

So that's that. We are in the thick of wedding plans, though currently, there is a bit of a lull which is nice for the holidays. I am loving it. We are getting married on March 26 in Titusville, Florida. From there, who knows... =)


Summer has arrived!  

Posted by Rachel in , , , , , ,

This weekend was filled with Robin Hood, throwing a bridal shower for Kimberly (roomie picture to the left), two birthday parties - one for Mom/Dad and one for Jaclyn, church, introducing Ni and Zhenkai to pancakes and a few other things thrown in (a couple of good workouts, sleep, cleaning, etc). And I know that THIS weekend is over, but when a friend asked me what I did LAST weekend, her response was, "That sounds like the ultimate summer weekend!" I hadn't really thought about it, but it's kinda true!

What do you think? Here's the run-down of last weekend:

Clearwater Beach condo with 12 girlfriends Friday evening and all day Saturday (I mean, we can take out the part where I got super dehydrated and kinda blacked out and ran into a table...)
Outdoor concert/festival Saturday evening with the girls featuring Lonestar and Martina McBride in St. Pete right on the water

2 hour road trip home with lots of sing along music, Jaclyn, and Brandi Michelle

Sunday evening was the book-end, spent grilling up a FANTASTIC meal with Nick, David and Laura

And by a fantastic meal, I mean a FANTASTIC meal.
Goat cheese turkey burgers with an apricot glaze from my new favorite blog find, Iowa Girl Eats
Grilled sweet potatoes with lime and cilantro
Grilled corn on the cob with garlic butter, lime and cheese
And, for dessert, grilled fruit with nutella and marscapone topping

What a summer weekend! What about yours? Are you enjoying the summer weather?