Italy

trav·el: to make a journey, typically of some length or abroad

There is so much to love about traveling! Traveling allows one to discover new places and rub shoulders with different cultures. Whether you are traveling across the world or just a mile from home, it’s still allows for you to expand your horizons.

I love to travel! So much so, that on our wedding day, Kris gave me a pair of hiking boots for all of the adventures we would go on throughout our life together. Our most recent adventure was Italy, and it was everything I had dreamed it would be and more.

We traveled through the regions of Tuscany and Liguria, touring Lucca, Cinque Terre, and Florence. We chose these three cities based on their proximity to one another. I had always wanted to visit Lucca since my maiden name (Lucasey) originated from there, thanks to my third great grandfather who came over from Lucca.

 

 

Our first stop was Lucca, and it was definitely my favorite. The town is surrounded by renaissance-era city walls. We stayed in an Airbnb within the walls, which was located in a more residential area of town.

Walking was the easiest and most convenient form of transportation since you could walk from one side of the town to the other within about 15 minutes. There was no need for a car unless you were to go outside of the walls. We only did this once, escaping to the most beautiful winery that looked over the town.

If you ever go to Lucca, my number one recommendation is to visit the winery, Fabbrica di San Martino. My sister and brother-in-law recommended it to us, as they have stayed on the property. It is a hotel as well! We just stopped in for a wine tasting. Best wine I have ever had! Really, all the wine in Italy tasted better than any other I’ve ever had, but this wine in particular was just so different. The history behind the winery and the care given to the creation adds to the quality of the wine.

 

 

Our next stop was Cinque Terre. If you like seafood and hiking, this is the place for you! Cinque Terre consists of 5 seaside villages along the Riviera coastline. We stayed in the first town, Riomaggiore. These towns are filled with the most amazing colorful homes  built on the coastal hillsides of the community, and the most fresh and delicious seafood that would tempt anyone’s palate!!

Between each town is a trail that runs from Riomaggiorre (furthest south) all the way up to Monterosso (furthest north). Unfortunately, while we were there, the trails between the first two towns were closed off, so we headed up to the last town, Monterosso, to hike from there to the next town, Vernazza. Apparently, the hikes get more intense between the first town to the last, so of course we chose the toughest hike, but it was worth it. The views were incredible and as soon as we finished the hike, we headed to the middle town, Corniglia, to go for a swim!  The picture above shows the  small inlet of water near the bottom of the cliffs which is part of the Mediterranean Sea where we swam.  The water was chilly, but it felt so refreshing after sweating our butts off, and who wouldn’t want to say they have swam in the Mediterranean!!

 

 

Our last stop was Florence. It was more busy and crowded than the first two towns, but it was still just as rich in history and architecture. There was so much to see within the city, including two of my favorites, the statue of David and Piazzale Michelangelo.

Our favorite day in Florence was our last. Some friends had recommended to us a cooking class and lunch at a Tuscan Farmhouse with a local market tour. You learn to cook a 4 course meal from Carmela, a true Italian chef.  Carmela described to us how she  learned to cook as a child while helping her mother in the kitchen. Everything was made from scratch and OMG, you can’t imagine the incredibleness that it was!!  It is described  by Trip Advisor as “A hands-on experience designed for food lovers….allows you to explore Italian cuisine in more depth….pick fresh ingredients from a Florence market yourself and feast on the fruits of your labor…”  Recipes are provided by email after the class, so you can recreate your experience at home too!

Menu

Bruschetta

Pesto Pasta

Roast Pork w/potatoes sautéed in OO and rosemary

Tiramisu

The food was so fresh and full of flavor. My mouth is salivating just thinking of it all again.  If you’re going to Florence, this is hands down my number one recommendation! 

All in all, Italy was incredible, and we will most definitely go back. There were so many stops along the way between wandering the cities and finding our own spots, or recommendations from friends. These were just a few of my favorites. If you are planning a trip to Italy and want more information, feel free to send me a message with any questions you might have!

Facial Routine

I never understood the importance of a facial routine until I was about 24. I was always too tired and lazy to care about my skin in the morning when I woke up and at night before bed. I would wash my face, but would never really do much more than that.

When I was 20, I had an allergic reaction to red cherry chapstick. After that, I started noticing a rash every time I would put on makeup that contained red dye. This sparked more of an interest in finding clean organic makeup, which in turn brought me to the understanding of taking good care of my skin and how important it is!

My skin is now the healthiest it has ever been! This is thanks to my skin care routine that I have been sticking to for about a year now, as well as a change in my diet (but that is another post for another day).

In the morning, I start by splashing my face with warm water, patting my face dry, and then applying Josie Maran Argan Oil. Unless I have something to do that involves dressing up, I try and avoid applying makeup during the day.  I love how my face feels when its freshly clean with no makeup!  If I’m going out in the evening, I will wait until that time to apply my foundation and color. I know some ladies feel that they can’t go out of the house until they have their “game face” on, but I love to let my skin “breath” and feel fresh when I’m at home or running errands during the day.

At night, every other day, I will rotate between washing my face with Botanic All Bright Foaming Face Wash and a facial scrub. My two go to’s for facial scrubs are Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive and Kerstin Florian Clarifying Exfoliating Scrub. The Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive is not as harsh on my skin, so I tend to use it more often, but I will still use the Kerstin Florian scrub about once every other week for a deeper clean. Once my face is all clean, I apply 100 Percent Pure Fermented Rice Water Toner. I like using a toner because it helps to further remove any remaining makeup or product on my face.  I really feel that it gives me a deeper cleanse, than just washing alone.  After the toner sets, I apply 100 Percent Pure Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Ultra Riche PM Treatment and 100 Percent Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream. I know that as a young woman, it’s hard to think that one day I’ll have to worry about facial lines and wrinkles, but I totally will, so my hope is that by taking care of my skin now, I can delay the affects of time and keep my skin in the best condition that I can as time moves forward.  The final touch is 100 Percent Pure Retinol Restorative Neck Cream. Gotta keep that neck fresh for all the reasons that I just mentioned!
Obviously, everybody’s skin is different, but this is what works for me and I am so happy I have found a good routine for me. I am now so much happier with my skin, which in turn boosts my confidence! I highly recommend finding a routine that works for you and making it a priority. I have a feeling we’ll appreciate it even more as we get older. 😉

Why Wine?

Why wine, you ask? Well, it wasn’t always my first choice. When I turned 21, taking a sip of wine made my taste buds quiver, especially red wine. My parents were wine drinkers, so I thought naturally I would just love wine. That was not the case and I was bummed! I loved the idea of drinking a glass of wine. It felt so mature and fancy. When I moved out on my own, I was bound and determined to become a lover of all things wine.

I started with riesling, but it was still a bit too strong for me, so I added a splash of St. Germain to make it a bit sweeter and easier to drink. That lasted about a month before the sweetness was too sweet. I finally felt brave enough to try red wine, I somehow found it easier to drink cabernet sauvignon. I have tried different reds over the years, and cab is always the winner! I have yet to have a glass that I didn’t like.

I definitely drink more red than white, but on a hot summer day, I find myself leaning more towards a glass of white. I can’t do riesling anymore, as it is too sweet. My preferred white is sauvignon blanc. I’m also a fan of rosé, especially when I’m feeling sassy.

About two years ago, I discovered the wonderful world of wine clubs. My personal favorite is Winc. When you sign up, you take a quiz so they can figure out the best wines to offer you. As you order, you can rate the bottles of wine you have tried which will help adjust the wines they offer you. Your box is continuously changing and they always have so many varieties of wines for all wine lovers!

Other perks are that you can skip a monthly shipment as many times as you need. You have to order at least 3 bottles, but if you order 4 bottles you get free shipping! The quality of the wine is really great, and I’m a pretty picky wine drinker. When buying at the store, I have a hard time spending less that $15, so Winc definitely helps save me money.

Another great winery that is out in the D.C. area, is Paradise Springs Winery. The winery has two locations, one in Clifton, VA and one in Santa Barbara, CA. Joining the wine club has a lot of benefits. My personal favorite is the complimentary wine tasting any time I visit the winery for myself and 3 other friends. If you are visiting the D.C. area, I highly recommend taking a trip to Paradise Springs Winery for some great wine and a relaxing atmosphere!

If you are up for trying one of my personal favorites, click on any of the links above to see my personal favorite bottles. Now it’s time to pop open a bottle and relax for the evening. To all my fellow wine lovers, cheers!

The Deployment

When you get married, everyone tells you it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. What they don’t tell you is why it won’t be easy. Obviously, no one knows why it won’t be easy for you because every relationship is different. However, if you’re like me, you want to have control of your destiny and the unknown makes you really uneasy. Thankfully for Kris and I, our marriage feels easy. Maybe it’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but we make the most of our lives together even when we are 6,500+ miles apart.

When we started dating back in 2013, I asked him if he ever wanted to deploy. He responded “Well, yeah! If I don’t deploy, it’s like practicing for a soccer game and never playing the game.” With that response, there was no way that I could not support him 100 percent. Knowing that this was something that Kris wanted, I knew that if the opportunity presented itself we would embark on the dreaded deployment train.

He received his orders for deployment back in August of last year, and as much as I had prepared myself for the idea that he could deploy, I really didn’t know what to expect. A flood of emotions came rushing in. I didn’t know what to feel. What emotions were okay? I was excited but scared, anxious but proud. All I really knew was that I wanted Kris to feel supported by me 110 percent.

We found that the build up to his departure was by far the hardest. I would compare it to the build up of making new friends on your first day at a new school. You just don’t know what to expect! When the day finally came, I was the most anxious I had been, but as soon as he walked through security and I could no longer see him, it felt like a weight had been lifted. We were past the waiting period and it was now time for the real deal.

We are now more than half way through the deployment, and I have to say it is a lot easier than I expected. Keeping myself busy is key, as well as setting aside time to FaceTime with him twice a day. I most certainly have days that I miss him more than ever and wish he was home, but when the waves of emotion come, I remind myself just how proud I am of him for his dedicated service to our country and for his drive to reach goals within his career. I count myself lucky to be his wife.

(photo credit: Kelly Drake Photography)