๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡นRome, Italy๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

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Roma, Roma!

Rome was such an amazing place. We arrived in the city March 23rd and got to explore it until March 26th.

We again stayed in a VRBO for this part of the trip and LOVED the place we ended up renting, since it was only a 10 minute walk to the Colosseum!

Because of this, we got to see it during the day and at night! You may think, “It’s just a building. How different can it really look?” VERY different. By day, the Colosseum is crawling with tourists, very annoying gladiators who will try to force you into taking pictures with them—trust me, one tried to hold my mother hostage until my husband gave him a Euro and saved her๐Ÿ˜‚—but by night, the Colosseum is a lot of times deserted! It glows from within and is actually kind of romantic…if you disregard all the people who were slaughtered there during the games hundreds of years ago.

According to things we read while touring Colosseo, they actually had ship battles down in the arena and they still don’t really know, to this day, how the Romans were able to accomplish such a feat!

Rome is a place that is full of history. There is so much to see, so I’d recommend at least 3 days! Aside from the Colosseum, there is Palatine Hill, The Roman Forum, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps…it’s ALOT to cover.

The Roman Forum was a very interesting place, full of crumbling structures, columns and the remains of the Farnese Gardens. This little seagull befriended me while taking pictures looking down on the Forum! I think he thought I had fries. ๐ŸŸ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‚

Pictured Above: The aforementioned gladiator con artists. Even gladiators need snacks, I guess.

Now, when it comes to the Trevi Fountain, I have to burst some bubbles and dispel some myths. It is a BEAUTIFUL fountain, but you will NOT get a good picture of yourself with it, unless you come at 6:00am or just happen to be lucky. It is crowded pretty much ALL the time. I had to crop people out of my own pictures, but go there and throw a coin in and make a wish anyway! And if you’re wanting an Instagram worthy picture, be prepared to wake up at the crack of dawn.

Around the corner from Trevi, you will find a shop selling vintage posters and calendars featuring Roman Holiday cast members, Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. It’s very cool for those who love the movie or vintage Hollywood!

If you know where to look, there are also many beautiful cathedrals and chapels in Rome. We actually found this one on the way to the Trevi Fountain and were stunned by its gold and blue tones and towering ceiling.

As for the food in Rome? It is some of the best! You have to try spaghetti carbonara, gnocchi or risotto! Above is a picture of a McDonald’s(Can you believe it?!) feet from the Spanish Steps. They serve gelato and 5 Star pastries at the McDonald’s in Italy. I was super impressed.

Pictured Above: Some excellent Lobster Gnocchi from one day and some Shrimp and Rose Risotto from another. Gnocchi is similar to shell pasta, but filled with cheese or other ingredients. Risotto is more like rice and has a very nice texture and taste to it.

We stayed in the Monti neighborhood of Rome, and thanks to that, we were not far from one of the best gelato stores we found in Italy. This is what I got, a menta gelato, or mint. It had actual crushed mint leaves in it and—just look at that presentation! I had to get help to finish this gelato, but MAN was it good!

Rome also wouldn’t be Rome without Vespas! It’s hard to picture the city without them. Also near the Monti neighborhood of Rome is a little Vespa museum, where you can learn about the history of this mode of transportation, watch a short little commercial about how Italians presumably fall in love—guess what! It usually involves a Vespa! Thats some sly marketing there—or you can even rent one of these bad boys for yourself!

Pictured Above: An adorably cute Fiat that someone just made a parking spot for between huge potted plants. I mean, aesthetic goals or what?!

Rome is a beast of a city, but it is a city that needs time to be appreciated. If you go to Rome, you will be rewarded with culinary and visual delights and history you can’t even imagine!

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๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น 10 Tips: Venice, Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

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Venice is one of the most amazing, unique places on earth. We spent 4 days + 4 nights there and even in that amount of time, we probably barely scratched the surface of what there is to see and do there!

But I thought I would pull together 10 tips for when YOU visit Venice! ๐ŸŽ‰ Also, I’ll include our 4 day itinerary at the end of this list! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

Tip #1: Get lost!

When it comes to Venice, there is so much to see! Even with a map, you’re going to get lost. While most of the time, that seems like a bad idea, in Venice, it’s the exact opposite. If you wander through the streets and bridges going over canals, you will find some great things. You can never go wrong with the pastry and coffee places you find, the small hole-in-the-wall churches usually have decadent mosaics and paintings on their ceilings, and you can stumble upon hidden landmarks!

Take for instance, Liberia Acqua Alta. This place is apparently very hard to find, and due to our short time in Venice, we had sort of ruled out seeing it…until we just found it on accident one day! We had set out and decided to tackle a different area of our Venice map we hadn’t seen when we found it! So, get lost. Wander and see what you can find!

Tip #2: Get a Venezia Unica Card.

These are cards that not only provide unlimited use of the city’s vaporetto system, but also have other benefits, like seeing popular tourist destinations AND even free WiFi for a day if you are under 29!

My husband Tim and I got the “Rolling Venice Card” for 72 hours which included as many rides on the vaporetto as we wanted and WiFi for a day! It was well worth it because even though Venice is a very walkable city, you will want to see it from the canals also! This card also covered our water transport to the outerlying islands of Burano and Murano, which are a must see!

The important thing to note here though is this: TheVenezia Unica Card DOES NOT cover transportation from the Marco Polo Airport to Venice.

For that, you will have to book a desperate transfer via an Aliguna Waterbus on the Blue Line, which was right around โ‚ฌ40-54, if I remember correctly.

Tip #3: See Burano and Murano! But if you have to pick one, pick Burano!

Now, this one is subject to opinion, but out of the two islands, I liked Burano the most! It is great for pictures and has the colorful buildings and even a lesser known Leaning Tower that Instagram dreams are made of! ๐Ÿ˜ However, if you are going based purely on seeing the lace making or glass making, go to Murano for the glass making.

It is amazing to see the glass creations there and for some reason, it just seemed more visual and was cooler to see than the lace making on Burano!

The vaporetto ride from Venice to Murano is shorter than the one to Burano. I think our ride to Murano was about 10-15 minutes while the ride to Burano was closer to 30-45 minutes from Cannaregio where we stayed.

Tip #4: Check out a mask store or atelier!

A trip to Venice isn’t complete without seeing a mask maker and exploring one of their stores! Even if you don’t come during Carnivale, Venice’s February celebration where people dress up in costumes and masks, it is one of the biggest trades known strictly to Venice!

We visited a store called Sogno Venezia Atelier and the owner Julia had a wealth of information on the art of mask making and she makes all her own costumes!

Masks are only part of Venice’s allure and mystery, but be sure not to miss out on learning more about them!

Tip #5: Stay in Cannaregio!

This is also just opinion, but I felt like Cannaregio was the best and most central location for us when it came to staying in Venice! We were not far from the airport, we were away from the touristy areas and in more of an actual Venice neighborhood, but still within walking distance of the sights, and we were close to the Ospedale stop, or Hospital! You never want to think you’ll need it, but it was nice to know it was close!

We also were near plenty of markets, which we went to to buy fresh produce and things to make meals at home sometimes!

Tip #6: Go during the shoulder or “off” season.

March is considered a slow time in Venice. It is typically a little chillier and right after Carnivale, so flight prices drop. We scored our tickets for around $700, which was a great deal when compared to anywhere from $1,000-$2,200!

If I can suggest though, go in late March or be prepared for cold temperatures. We layered a lot. March is also the time for “high water”, so you will see higher water and even flooded streets in Venice due to the rain. We had to use catwalks to walk over the water sometimes, but if worse comes to worse, they do have these strange looking rain boots you can purchase everywhere. They look a lot like Saran Wrap that just goes over your feet! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Tip # 7: Ride down The Grand Canal.

This is just a MUST. And kind of a given, but you have to see Rialto Bridge from the canals. It is a beautiful sight, not to mention, a relaxing ride. You will get some of your best pictures riding the vaporetto! They have these awesome little back sections of the vaporetto boats where you can go out a door and literally be in the open air. Just hold onto your phones! You don’t want to drop that into the canal!

Tip # 8: Take a gondola ride…but during the day.

Day fares for gondola are cheaper than at night and you’ll get less grainy, higher quality pictures. Now, while the vaporetto is great, gondolas are amazing because they take you down the tight, little back waterways of Venice that are quiet, secluded and interesting. We saw hidden passageways, passed a private courtyard where a couple was drinking red wine and they toasted us… ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ˜‚

It was all very Venetian and we wouldn’t have seen any of it if we hadn’t gone for a ride! The fare is generally โ‚ฌ89, but you can ride up to 6 people in a gondola and that total is split amongst riders, it is not per person!

Tip #9: Go to Cemeterio Island.

I did not take many pictures at Cemeterio and some people think cemeteries are morbid, but I thought it was a cool experience! If you like seeing how Venetians live…and how they died, Cemeterio is an interesting place to go. It is a 5 minute ride from Cannaregio across the channel.

There are beautiful monuments there and even windows that just face off into the sea. While wandering around, we came across a landing of black and white tiles that just gently sloped into the canal and we discovered that it is there that boats dock to offload coffins.

It’s impossible to realize all the things that are different about Venice until you really stop and take a look.

Tip #10: Talk to some Venetians.

Whether it was talking to our waiters at the trattoria down our street, Julia at the mask shop, or anyone we encountered, the Venetians are an interesting people. They are very passionate about things and are set in their ways. They certainly won’t go out of their way to help you, but they are nice if you catch them in a good mood.

If I had to rank all the towns on their “friendliness” that we went to, Venice wouldn’t have the top spot, but more on that later! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bonus Tip #11: Get used to “Italian Time”.

Italians have their own clock that they go by, whether it’s getting somewhere and meeting up with someone or just eating dinner. Dinners are usually 4 hour affairs with multiple courses and you have to ask for your check, which was strange to us Americans.

One reason for this is that Italian waiters are paid a living wage. In America, waiters barely make $3 an hour and live on tips, so it’s all about turning tables. Get used to taking your time in Italy and you will enjoy your trip so much more!

Those are all my tips for Venice! ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿท๐Ÿ•

Here is a brief itinerary of our time in Venice! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

March 14th: Landed in Venice

*On this day, we basically ate dinner near Rialto Bridge(very touristy, but the pizza was good) and went to our VRBO home to catch up on the time change! Not much accomplished this day.

March 15th: Murano & St. Mark’s Basillica

*We rode over to Murano to see some glass making and also checked out St. Mark’s Basillica and square! We did a lot of wandering this day and got a lot of ground covered!

March 16th: Burano, Riding a Gondola, and Riding Down Grand Canal

We rode over to Burano early and also had lunch there! Poppy had fish with the heads on. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜‚ We also rode the vaporetto all over, including down The Grand Canal, and got gelato. ๐Ÿง

March 17th: Cemeterio, Libreria Acqua Alta and Sogno Venezia Atelier

We saw a bunch this day! We explored Cemeterio, Libreria Acqua Alta and I bought a Venetian mask!

Stay tuned for my next blog on Florence, Pisa & Lucca!

And there is a quick video I made of Venice, which is on my IGTV, or Instagram tv! I hope you’ll check it out!

\\ Venice, Italy //

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I know what you’re thinking—-FINALLY Avery has gotten back on here and decided to blog! I’m sorry I’ve been gone for a while. Life has been beating me with a stick lately, if I’m being honest. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ It’s no fun.

Anyways, I thought I’d share some pictures of our Italy trip in this entry and then do some follow up blogs with tips for each city AND our itineraries! ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Here are the cities I’ll cover after Venice:

โ€ขFlorence & Pisa

โ€ขRome

โ€ขSorrento(with some stories about Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast thrown in there!)

AND, if you haven’t already, you can check out some vlogs I did of each city on my YouTube channel! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOeL03NmymfgJ7XKBBmYueg

They’re fun and set to music, and I may eventually do some more in depth videos! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Venice was, simply put, one of the most amazing, gorgeous, unique places I’ve ever been.

On this trip of a lifetime, we had 5 adventurers: me, my husband,Tim, my grandfather, Poppy, and my mom and dad. We were in Italy from March 13th-March 30th—roughly 17-18 days, if you discount traveling by airplane for the majority of two of those days.

We spent 4 days and nights in Venice alone! I had read a lot of articles from other people saying that “2 days was perfectly sufficient and enough time to see Venice.” ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Those people are idiots. Don’t listen to those people. If you plan on seeing Venice in your lifetime, you really want to devote more time to it because it’s a great place to explore! And you will get lost, trust me.

We stayed in the Cannaregio neighborhood of Venice, which is the northernmost region, and a straight shot from the Marco Polo Airport by Aliguna Waterbus. We stayed in a VRBO rental that was actually the home of a famous artist from the 1700’s, Francesco Guardi. It was such a convenient place to stay—away from crowds near Rialto Bridge and other touristy places, but still close enough to walk to those places! We were at the Fondamente Nove stop, one stop up from the hospital at the “Ospedale” stop.

For that reason, we saw tons of yellow “Ambulanza” or ambulance boats that would go rushing by!

There are so many things you don’t even think about before coming to Venice. You might know in your mind that there are literally no cars and everything is done by boat, but witnessing that in person is a whole different thing! Venice also has trash boats that come by and collect everyone’s trash at different pickup points around the city. We took the trash from the VRBO we were staying at to one of those points before leaving and some men in yellow uniforms took it from us. Where the trash goes from there, I have no idea, but since Venice is literally made up of thousands of islands, my guess is they have one just for trash! ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

We also saw a hearse boat. At the Fondamente Nove stop, where we were staying, we were directly across the channel from Cemeterio Island—-you guessed it!—-Venice’s only cemetery! We actually went across and explored one day and there are tons of graves for priests, nuns, your everyday citizens, and so many more people from every walk of life. I did not take any pictures out of respect for those people, but it was very interesting. One thing we quickly noticed was that many Italian cemeteries have pictures of the people on their tombstones! It’s rare to see that in America.

It was kind of neat—it really gave you a feel for who those people were.

Italy itself is such a fascinating country! I will have to do a completely different blog entry on tips for traveling to Italy—the culture is so different! For instance, many people in Italy don’t own dryers! So we would see laundry hanging everywhere, which was actually really pretty.

Of course, we also saw many gondolas and gondoliers throughout Venice—which was magical.

Pictured above is the famous Rialto Bridge, which is always a crowded place! We walked over it and took a vaporetto down The Grand Canal and underneath it! It is a beautiful bridge, but the great thing about Venice is that there are bridges everywhere! There are so many different kinds, some of them have delicate ironwork, some have no railings at all, but every one is more unique and beautiful than the last!

We did the usual touristy things in Venice, which included eating some pizza! I fed Tim some pizza in a piazza for this picture! ๐Ÿ˜‚ We had a lot of Italians scoffing at us and laughing at us for this one, but we did it anyway because why not?!

Out of all the pizza we had though, Naples had the best. ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป

While we’re on the subject of food, Italy has some great cuisine. ๐Ÿ There are the obvious things, like pasta, pizza and bread, but they have exceptionally good coffee and espresso!

Tim and I were delighted that it was so good and so cheap! In America, the land of the overpriced coffee, you usually spend anywhere from $2.00-$5.00 easily on some frappuchinoed to death, sugary concoction, but in Venice, we enjoyed espresso for as cheap as โ‚ฌ1! It was incredible and that stuff packs a punch, so this little shot was all we needed! We did not let my dad have any. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Long story short, he once had some cappuccino from a gas station in Atlanta, which has not that much coffee in it at all, and it resulted in a spontaneous trip to The Container Store, where he then zoomed around, buying over $200 worth of organizational shelving, which he has still yet to use. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‚ My dad can’t do coffee.

But ANYways—Venice in particular has some delicious seafood! Again, it is distinctly Italian, so you have to be careful what you order, but these were some scallops I got on the island of Burano which were great! Not pictured are some fish that Poppy got—with the heads still attached. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

You’ll be happy to know that Italy has some of the best pastry shops around! Some pastries have liquor in them, some are covered in powdered sugar, but all are delicious. I often joked with my family while we were there, that even if we got lost, it was okay, because we were bound to find a scrumptious pastry place! Pictured above is a place called Rizzo’s Bakery and then a Kosher Bakery in the Jewish Ghetto section of Venice, which is a very neat area to explore.

This is a church door in the Jewish section of Venice—-there are also monuments and a museum of Jewish history, going all the way back to the 1300’s and up into World War II history.

Fruit stalls are also abundant in Venice and many other cities in Italy. It was so nice being able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, which we did on occasion, to cook with or eat on the go.

Gelato is another Italian specialty that you have to try! ๐Ÿง “Menta” or “Mint” is one of my favorite flavors! You can find gelato stores all over the place and while this one came from SUSO Gelato, a highly Instagrammed place, it was definitely one of the more touristy shops. Rome definitely gets my vote for the best gelato by far! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

There is so much to taste, experience and see in Venice. Pictured above is a gorgeous church right on The Grand Canal, the famous Bridge of Sighs, and St. Mark’s Basillica, which are just around the corner from each other.

One of the best ways to see Venice is by vaporetto. There are so many boats in Venice, it is easy to get them confused, but I generally remembered it this way:

Aliguna Waterbus(The only line running from Marco Polo Airport. The blue line.)

Vaporetto(The public boats everyone rides everywhere. There are stops all over the island. Generally, the cheapest.)

Water Taxi(Expensive, private lines that hold only a handful of people. Like a taxi in New York. You’ll pay a lot to ride on one of these!)

Gondola(Smaller, traditional boats piloted by gondolier. You will pay about โ‚ฌ89 Euro for a ride and it is more expensive at night!)

Traghetto(These look like gondola, but are cheaper and take you across The Grand Canal. Great if you want a picture in a gondola, but don’t want to pay as much! However, gondola rides are more enjoyable on the back waterways—The Grand Canal is a choppy and busy place!)

One of the most recognizable things in Venice other than Rialto Bridge, is this art piece called “Support” by Lorenzo Quinn, a piece representing global warming, something that is more evident in Venice than in any other place in the world. When we visited in March, it was during “the high water” or rainy season. We saw a lot of people wearing these plastic bag rain boots and walking on catwalks, which were literally erected all over the city to help people walk above the water! Pretty crazy stuff!

We had to visit Murano and Burano, two outerlying islands of Venice too!

โค๏ธ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ

Murano is known for its glass making.

Burano is known for its colorful buildings and lace making.

From our place in Cannaregio, they could generally be reached in about 30 minutes to an hour. Murano was neat, but Burano was absolutely beautiful. DO NOT PASS GO. You have got to at least see Burano, if you pick between the two! You can get some great pictures, great food and see one of the lesser known “leaning towers”, a church tower in Burano that is listing over to one side!

Italy has around 11 “leaning towers” including the most famous one, The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Apparently, Italians are over ambitious with their building plans and the ground is extra soft in Italy—which accounts for why there are so many!

Anyways, Burano was worth it! ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป It’s like walking through a crayon box! ๐Ÿ–

Of course, no trip to Venice would be complete without visiting a mask shop and maybe even purchasing one to take home! This was a very traditional and gorgeous mask I purchased in one of Italy’s favorite colors, burgundy, from Sogno Venezia Atelier.

Julia, the owner, was fantastic, going into all of the history on the masks, which were used back as early as the 1300’s. They were worn by noblemen and peasants alike; the idea was that it made for a more even playing field. No one knew who anyone was, therefore commoners and wealthy aristocrats mingled together, often doing some unsavory things such as gambling, having affairs and so much more! It was amazing hearing such incredible stories and seeing such fascinating creations. We were in Venice after Carnivale had passed, the famous holiday in February where everyone dresses up in masks and costumes, but Julia showed us a costume she was working on. She makes them all by hand. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Another great place in Venice that has to be seen to be believed is Libreria Acqua Alta, which you have probably seen on Instagram, as it is very Insta-worthy. ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

I had actually resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn’t be able to see it. Again, this goes back to the “2 days is enough time to see Venice” argument. ๐Ÿ™„ Even at 4 days, it is hard to cram all that Venice has to offer in, but we actually stumbled upon this place by mistake! Funny because it is apparently one of the harder things to find!

It is a rather ordinary bookstore, but go back to the very back, and you have this staircase made of books! The book lover in me felt bad for books that had been out in the rain, but once I told myself they were probably mostly encyclopedias anyway, I felt better about it. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Venice is a gorgeous place. Out of all the cities we went to in Italy, I think it was my favorite. It was less stressful because there are no cars(More on that in a future entry๐Ÿ˜‚) and it is so quiet at night it’s unbelievable, also due to the fact that there are no cars, making it the polar opposite of another place we stayed in, Castellamarre di Stabia, where it literally sounded like Vespas were going to come crashing through the windows of our VRBO we stayed at! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ

Venice is a place I’d reccomend ANYone go to. It’s one of the prettiest places in the world and truly a wonder.

| Keep On Going |

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  Keep on going. 

Three small words, on a bracelet I wear on my wrist every day. Itโ€™s become my mantra, the words I chant in my head and an inspiration to myself.

  If I had stopped trying, I wouldnโ€™t be going on a trip to Italy this next year. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น 

  If I had stopped trying a few years ago when I was literally at my worst, I would be dead. 

 Sometimes, trying seems like a really simple thing, but it shows a deeper motivation. To survive. To thrive. To not just exist, but to do something bigger with ourselves. 


 I actually lost my bracelet about a month and a half ago. It was on my wrist and then…half way through the day, I realized it was gone. With anything else, with the exception of maybe my wedding ring, I probably would have just sighed and forgotten about it, but not with this bracelet. I retraced my steps, to the grocery store, where I had ran earlier in the day, to the houses of pets I watch, everywhere. And I never found it.

 I had been devestated. It wasnโ€™t like I credited the bracelet with my accomplishments–I could have saved up for this trip or done anything else without it, but…I liked it. Very rarely does something you wear align so closely with your beliefs or feelings as this bracelet did with me.

 I talked about it for weeks, wondering where it could have gone. I would be sad one minute and then the next, resigned to the fact that it was gone. Iโ€™d convinced myself that maybe Iโ€™d lost it for a reason; maybe it would go on to help someone else.

  It wasnโ€™t until about a month after Iโ€™d lost this bracelet that I found it again, in of all places, on top of a file box in our office, where I had filed some crap bill or another. The magnet had stuck to the box, pulling it right off my wrist.

 I canโ€™t tell you how excited I was to find it! I had wanted to wear it to Italy or anywhere, really. Keep on going.

 This probably seems like a really dumb entry to you. Itโ€™s just a bracelet, Avery. Maybe. Maybe it is. 

 But itโ€™s also a reminder to myself.

To keep trying.

To keep dreaming.

To keep going.

 Maybe youโ€™re feeling stuck, like I am at the moment. Lost and a little like youโ€™re meant to be doing something more.

Keep on going.

 Weโ€™ll get there.

| P i c k i n g in C l i n t o n |

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  Today was a fun day. Iโ€™ve been a little emotional amidst all the #metoo stories showing up on social media today, plus sharing my own personal stories of abuse.

  It was nice to getaway for a few hours and hang out with my husband, Tim. โค๏ธ


 We went to Clinton, Tennessee to look through all the antique stores and also eat at The Apple Blossom Cafe there, which has great food. ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ—


 Clinton is such a pretty place. ๐ŸŒน

  Tim and I wore our matching leather jackets today. Weโ€™re that couple. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿค— #sorrynotsorry



 Iโ€™m going back to petsitting and business mode now, but it was nice to go have some fun for a little while! Iโ€™m looking forward to getting a break this weekend. Weโ€™re also having a cool, Financial Peace Class reunion at our church.

 Tim and I took the class back earlier this year, itโ€™s Dave Ramseyโ€™s famous class. I am so excited to share our story with everyone there! That class helped us to save up for our upcoming trip to Italy! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

 When it gets closer to the time that we leave, I will definitely do a post on packing for a European trip. I need to research what the weather is going to be like there in March. ๐Ÿค”

 Iโ€™m also excited because we have some video gadgets we got for this trip so we can try our hand at some vlogging in conjunction to blogging! ๐Ÿ“ฝ๐ŸŽ‰

  I love editing video. Itโ€™s been something Iโ€™ve liked doing since I was a kid and my dad gave me his huge, old, shoulder mounting JVC Camera. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I used to run around the front yard with that thing, making skits with other kids in our neighborhood! Makes me crack up now!

 So, I may start practing making some vlogs. If I make any, you all will be the first to know! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

How We Saved For Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น (And How You Can Too!)

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  Hey, guys! I have the most exciting news EVER to share with you all!

I’m. Going. To Italy!!! ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ๐ŸŽ‰

 Last night, I found the deal of a lifetime on airline tickets and took the plunge. I literally stopped everything I was doing, ran to my grandparents’ house and called everyone together for a conference because I hadn’t seen prices this low since February. Not only is my grandfather Poppy going to go, but my parents are too! This is amazing and something I’ve only dreamed about for so long. When I woke up this morning, I had to remind myself it was all real! I can’t wait! We’ll be going this next year! โœˆ๏ธ๐ŸŒŽ

*Sidenote: If you want to find great deals on tickets, look today before they go back up. The tickets I found were under $1,000 roundtrip, which is absolutely unheard of. Use Skyscanner also, they are great and cross compare every other site so you know you’re getting the very best deal possible. โœ”๏ธ*

 Now, I always strive to be upfront with my readers, so I want to share with you how we saved up for this trip. It sounds like a really hard thing to do, but really it just took some perseverance and delayed gratification. Here are my top tips for how to save up for your next trip!

1. Spend less on the things that don’t matter so you can spend more on the things that DO matter.

 This sounds like it should be common sense, but it is hard to put into practice, at first. A lot of times, I will find myself wanting to buy new clothes, go to an expensive restaurant or just buy something I really don’t need. A thing I started doing a few years ago was stopping for 5 minutes or so and just thinking about what it was I wanted, really long and hard. If it was clothes, I would carry them around as I shopped and ask myself, Is this something I can really see myself getting a lot of wear out of? What are some outfit combinations I could come up with, using this item? Is it something I can wear during different seasons? Can I wait and find this somewhere cheaper?

Usually, I found that after 5 minutes, the loud voice inside me screaming, “I WANT THIS!” would dull and I would realize that wasn’t really what I wanted most in the world. What I wanted was to travel the world.

 So, try this sometimes, when you feel like you really, really want something and you may surprise yourself. If you still want whatever it is, you should get it. 

2. Thrift, coupon, do whatever it takes.

  I have bought clothes secondhand about 90% of the time over the last few years, or gone to places like Marshall’s, Ross or places that have great deals on clothes. I use coupons when we go out to eat, but only if it’s a good deal and something we would have gotten anyway. (Hint: Those $5 off when you spend $30 coupons are not worth your time. ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™„) Sometimes, Tim and I have split meals also to cut costs.

  I also buy hygiene and toiletry stuff only when we need it, but we never run out. I’m one of those people who has to have a back up in case we run out. ๐Ÿ˜‚

3. Speaking of doing whatever it takes…

 I bought toilet paper at an estate sale once, which might sound weird, but I bought it in May and didn’t have to get anymore until this month. ๐Ÿ˜‚ 32 rolls for $3, ya’ll. WORTH IT.

 If you want to travel and take this huge trip you’ve got planned, sometimes you have to do things other people might look at and call crazy. I also have scaled back on the makeup I’ve worn this year. Since I petsit, I rarely see people anyway, so I started wearing less makeup, which meant buying less makeup, which also made my skin so much healthier. I saved so much money that way! ๐Ÿ’ฐ

 I also just recently finally caved and bought some new tennis shoes. I needed them, so I could justify the purchase, but I went for several months with a hole in the sole of them and a chunk missing from the heel. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

 This is what I mean by delayed gratification. In our world now, you’re told that you have to have everything you want, right then and there, which is not true. If you use willpower, and occasionally do some things other people think are funny, you can definitely have what you want, in time!

4. Drop the car payment. 

 It seems like everyone and their mother has a car payment, but hear me out on this one. 

 Tim and I bought our cars used. I know some people can’t resist a shiny, new car, but that is usually anywhere from $100-$300 extra dollars a month that you could otherwise be saving. I bought my car 2 years ago, used. I had it paid off in exactly 1 year. So, for the last few years, we’ve just done routine maintenance on them, but have no car payment each month, which has helped TREMENDOUSLY.

But don’t just stop with the car payment! Take that cell phone bill and chop it in half. I was paying $120 at Verizon just for myself, so I switched to Sprint and now pay only $80. The more you do this and re-evaluate what you’re spending, even if it’s only by $20, the savings will add up each month! ๐ŸŽ‰

5. Re-evaluate your job.

 This one is tricky, but something you should do. Maybe you work from home, so your costs are low, but maybe sometimes, you might have a long commute to a job you hate anyway and gas money eats into your paycheck. Sit back and be objective.

 I had to do this almost a year ago and haven’t looked back since! I was working part time at a bakery, maybe 6 hours a day. ๐Ÿฐ I didn’t like it at all, but I noticed that my petsitting business was taking off like crazy. I did some figuring and realized, if I dropped the part time job at the bakery and went to petsitting fulltime, I could double or even triple what I was making for hardly any extra effort at all! 

  Sit back and think about these things before you jump, but sometimes, the answer that makes the most sense is right in front of you.    

6. Resell items on Etsy, EBay, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

 This takes a little more discipline, searching and work, but we have made usually on average, an extra $100 a month doing this. You don’t even have to go out and buy things to resell, first look through what you have. What do you not use anymore? Someone out there, most likely, is willing to pay for it and may even need it!

  Old clothes, knick knacks, musical instruments, whatever it is, put it out there. We have really enjoyed the Etsy platform. I go to a lot of estate sales in my free time between petsits, so I find things I think are cool, buy them for cheap, take pictures, and then list them! It’s that easy! Etsy gets your items viewed around the world. We have sent things as far as Norway and France! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ I love thinking about the new homes our things go to! 

 If online posting isn’t your thing, that’s no excuse—have a yard sale! Do whatever it takes. You also get a nice, clean, more organized house out of it! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

7. Take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace.

  This is in no way a plug and I am dead serious. It will cost you $100 up front, but taking his class helped us SO much. It helps you with budgeting, being accountable and just getting you motivated to get out of debt if you are in it, save money even if you aren’t and just handle your finances better.

 We were doing great saving before, but I have to say, after taking his class, it kicked us into high gear.

  I hope these tips have helped! ๐Ÿ˜„ I want you to know that this is possible for anyone. It has taken us years to get to this point, but you CAN do it. And I know saving and waiting can suck, but there is nothing like the feeling you have when you realize you’ve done something, with no help, by yourself and for yourself! โค๏ธโœŒ๐Ÿปโœˆ๏ธ

P.S. I might drop another post on tips for finding the best airline ticket prices, since I’ve been doing this kind of research for over a year. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Who would like to see a post on that?

Love you guys! 

\\ S m o k y M o u n t a i n s //

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 They’re beautiful, they’re timeless and they’re pretty much in my backyard. The Smoky Mountains. They have an entire National Park dedicated to and encompassing them, a park that is visited on average, more times a year than Yellowstone.


 Ever since the fires in Gatlinburg, I have wanted to go up to the mountains more and just appreciate them for what they are. This November, it will have been a year ago since those fires happened. You can still see bare spots on the side of the mountains and charred trees. If you turn down (or really up) certain roads in Gatlinburg, you will see leveled foundations and remains of homes that to anyone else, might look like the start of a subdivision, but locals know better.

 Some people mocked the people who live here, wondering why they didn’t evacuate sooner. My dad is a fireman and I heard firsthand accounts from him on the subject: all hell broke loose. The wind gusts were 80 mph that night—all it took was one spark and it spread. And if you’ve been up and down the winding roads around the city of Gatlinburg, you know—a fire truck is not going to make it up those hairpin turns. It was a horrible disaster, but everyone there is Mountain Strong. People come together in the worst of situations, as we’ve seen during Hurricane Harvey.


 I ventured up to Gatlinburg today because I had the day off and I just wanted to. It’s such a beautiful place and if you don’t take the bypass, there are so many places you can pull off and just enjoy nature. I like jumping from rock to rock in the rivers. It’s really fun.


 I just came up there to reflect, burn some time up and just be outside. I know that soon, the days will be colder, and I’ll have wished that I’d enjoyed it outside more.


 I came across a dozen or more butterflies and actually didn’t scare them off.


 I feel lucky to have access to some of the most beautiful terrain in the world and I’ve heard The Smokys compared to Switzerland on occasion. Sometimes, we spend a lot of time wishing we were anywhere else, but I just enjoyed where I am today. Just in life, in general. 

 I can’t imagine being in a bigger city and just…not seeing green. I know there are parks and stuff, don’t get me wrong, but…some people are in awe of this stuff that I just see every day. That’s amazing to me. I think that’s why we like to travel. We see things in a different way. I’ve noticed a few times when I’ve been to Manhattan or somewhere else, the locals are bored, stagnant, as they ride the subways. They’re used to it and they’re numb to it.

I never want to get numb to this, to life.