posted on: Thursday, January 31, 2013

here's a little story, in which i brag shamelessly about my husband.
brace yourselves.

my birthday was january 3rd.
i was driving back from Austin, since i had just finished my rotation up there.
nick and i had nebulous plans, since he was on call.
hopefully we'll cook dinner and celebrate a little...if i don't get called in.
on the night before my birthday, 
nick got called in to the hospital 3 different times.
he was exhausted. i knew that.
but it didn't stop me from getting a little hurt when he didn't call me
and wish me happy birthday.

nick sounded more and more frazzled with each text i got throughout the day.
when a friend offered to go to dinner with me,
i knew it would be a way to let nick off the hook to get some sleep.
so dinner plans were made.

nick rushed home and surprised me with flowers...tulips...
right before i walked out the door to dinner
he promised i'll make this up to you
i told him not to worry.
i wasn't mad anymore. 
how could i be? we were leaving for europe in 48 hours.
but i didn't really think about it again.

cut to our trip.
we're at Harry's Bar in Venice
and over a bellini, nick says to me i've been waiting for you to find something...
to go into a store, see something you really like, 
and i would talk you out of buying it.
but then i'd sneak back later and get it for you, for your birthday.
but our trip is half over, and you haven't really done much shopping...which is weird...
so i'm telling you about my plan, in the hopes that you'll find something you like.

i cried. sweet, salty tears. right into my bellini.
he didn't know, but i'd made a private, secret resolution to shop less in 2013
it was something right out of "Gift of the Magi"
(by O.Henry. read it if you haven't already)
he was counting on me to shop. i was trying hard not too.

but i didn't find anything.
it was just too much pressure, to find the perfect thing
to go with this seriously sweet story.
there just wasn't anything worthy.
(in my price range.
let's be honest...i could have EASILY made do with something from Balenciaga. (: )

last weekend, i came home from work
and found a robin's egg blue box, tied with a white ribbon
and the most precious note that brought me to tears.
it was my very first robin's egg blue box, and i was excited about it.
but his words were what are most precious to me.

if you saw my instagram,
(typical social-media-addict. i instagrammed a pic of the gift/note before opening it.)
he opened with "you is kind. you is smart. you is important."
and i fell apart.
he went on to talk about how proud he is of my personal growth over the past year,
which has been largely shaped by tears and loss
and how this teardrop necklace is meant to remind me
of how i've emerged a better, stronger person
even through the tears.

it's a beautiful necklace.
made even more beautiful by what it means.

he's a good one.
a really really good one.
i am so blessed.

the islands: murano & burano

posted on: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

we took a day trip from Venice
out to the islands of Murano and Burano
based on recommendations by Liz and Lauren
and i'm so glad we did.

the homeschooler in me got a huge kick out of watching the artisans blow glass
the concierge at our hotel in Venice (the Palace Bonvecchiati)
hooked us up with a ride to Murano and a tour of a glass factory
i bought a Christmas ornament...which is exactly what i had wanted

and i instagrammed it on our tree. as you may recall.

Murano was pretty. full of canals and glass factories.
i don't know why i had never thought of this before,
but the glass blowers were telling us about how the factories used to be in Venice
but the ovens kept catching the thatch roofs on fire!
so they moved the whole operation out to Murano, a couple hundred years ago.
makes sense. those clever Italians.
while on Murano, we had the most delectable mortadella panini
it was made on fresh focaccia that was covered in fresh rosemary and sea salt.
i'll remember that little sandwich forever.

Burano stole my heart away.
such bright colors and idyllic little streets.
it's known for its lace, 
and while it was too cold for the women to sit outside tying lace
we did catch a glimpse of one through a window
like creepers.

we ate the best lunch of our lives in Burano.

a shellfish appetizer, followed by the best fish risotto i've ever tasted
okay so it was the only fish risotto i've ever tasted
but it was phenomenal
i'll spend the rest of my life trying to replicate those insane flavors.
as you can see from the wine jug above, the place was called Al Gatto Nero

this is the last of the EuroTrip photos.
you can all breathe a sigh of relief.

but on a more serious note, i'm just so glad we did this.
it was brief. just a week.
but the opportunity to get to spend that day-in-day-out time with my husband
after going for so many months seeing him for just a few moments or hours at a time
was just priceless.

the first few days were a little rough.
we had to re-learn how to be together.
and there were a couple of topics we needed to discuss 
that we had been putting off for too long
but it felt so good to just talk, and explore, and eat, and drink, and be.
by the time we got to Italy, we were on cloud 9. 

and since we've gotten back, we've both looked at each other,
at different times, and remarked about how much we needed that time together
and how good it was to get away. 

and it was.
even though i came home to a to-do list a mile long
with upcoming exams, project deadlines, and a crazy work schedule
i am, somewhat uncharacteristically, taking it all in stride.
there is a peace in me, brought on by this trip, that has managed to stick.
and for that, i am so so thankful.


posted on: Friday, January 25, 2013

 can't help but look a little Asian, can i?

i was only mildly excited by this pigeon selecting me as a landing post.

as we were riding the train from Innsbruck to Venice, i think i could tell you the exact moment the train crossed over from Austria to Italy. the houses began to look less Bavarian and more Italian. the snow-capped mountains gave way to hillsides dotted with vineyards. the signs began to be more readable, with their Italian script. the announcer on the train gave instructions in first Italian, then German, then English. (:

it felt so familiar, that Italian countryside. even though i had never been in that part of the country before, something about it resonated with me. 

this was the first time Nick and i had returned to Italy since getting married there almost three years ago. for our wedding and honeymoon, we were only there for two weeks. yet now, going back felt like a returning of sorts. almost like going home. this was the homeland of my husband's grandfather and all his ancestors. i felt connected to it somehow. it's almost that, by getting married there, and having such a defining moment in my life take place on Italian soil, i've left a piece of my heart there forever. and i feel whole and complete again by going back. 

it was so special.


posted on: Monday, January 21, 2013

our last morning in Salzburg was the first time we could see the mountains.
it had been so foggy the other days we were there
i feel like if that were my view for my morning commute,
i could probably get through just about any work day.
Innsbruck was an add-on to our trip.
originally, in the early planning stages, we were only set on Salzburg and Venice
and to take a train through the mountains between the two cities
when we learned that all the trains stopped in Innsbruck,
we figured we would too.
excellent choice.

an Einspänner.
espresso topped with whipped cream.
well done, Austria.
i approve. 

sometimes there's a chandelier in the middle of the street
or the most delightful woman surrounded by wheels of cheese.
we bought some.
one of the most breathtaking sunsets mine eyes have ever seen.

we stayed at Hotel Central
connected to Cafe Central. which has been around since 1884.
but the beer was from elsewhere.

Innsbruck was a quick trip.
just under 24 hours.
but i'm so glad we stopped in this city surrounded by snow-covered mountains
full of cobblestoned streets and pretty pastel buildings


meanwhile, back in Texas, life has been busy.
surprise surprise.
Nick has been on call every day but one since we got home
(which means he works all day, and answers the pager all night.
some nights he has to go in to the hospital to take care of patients.
which sucks. because he still has to work the following day.)
i had a couple days off last week
and was SUPPOSED to get to fly in a jet
like, me and the pilot. wearing a flight suit and crazy gear.
i won the flight. as an award for being a good resident.
(bonus of training in a military residency)
but then we fell of the damn fiscal cliff
and the squadron i was supposed to fly with was suddenly forbidden to take me
i guess spending thousands of dollars on jet fuel
--just to take me for a joy ride--
 seemed a little fiscally irresponsible.

so i have to wait. more on that later, i hope.
it's a long story.

in the meantime, i'm working about a million days in a row
to make up for the vacation i took.
and the post-vacay blues are hitting extra hard.
these pictures help.
gah. i can't believe i was there.

and ps. thank you for all of you who checked out The Lone Bellow!
i love it when people love the things i share (:

The Lone Bellow

posted on: Friday, January 18, 2013


if you've been reading this blog for a while,
you may remember me mentioning this band before.
they've gone through a couple of name changes over the years,
but i'm so proud to announce that their new album has finally dropped.
blogosphere, meet The Lone Bellow.

this band is very near and dear to my heart.
Zach Williams (above right) and I went to college together
at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
as you can read more about in NPR's feature, Zach was not always a musician.
i remember when he could barely play the guitar (:
he began writing songs while his wife Stacy was hospitalized for a spinal cord injury
after falling off a horse while they were at home in Georgia.
he used to lead worship at our university chapel services
and i sang with the band.

good lord it was such a debacle:
it was my senior year
i was working two 12-hr night shifts a week
as a nursing assistant on a telemetry ward at the hospital
so i would get off work at 7am, grab a nap for a couple hours,
then get up in time to go sing in chapel at 11am.
but sometimes i didn't make it.
Zach would call 5 minutes before chapel, wake me up, and be like,
you aren't coming, are you....

now Zach and Stacy and their gorgeous girls Loretta Faye and Betty Pearl
live in Brooklyn
and Nick and i live in Texas
a lot has changed for us all
but there is just nothing quite like watching someone you believe in find success
such an incredible feeling.

i've had the album on repeat all week
(i scored an early download as one of their Kickstarter supporters. lucky lucky me.)
and found myself with goosebumps on my arms and tears in my eyes on multiple occasions
the lyrics are so incredibly poignant
the harmonies are deliciously on point
and the passion in Zach's voice will kill you dead.

so it is with great pride and joy that i highly highly recommend this band to you
their first single "Bleeding Out" is iTunes' free Single of the Week
(and the album is a bargain at $7.99)
oh. and ps. they're performing on Conan on 1/22/2013. so go set your DVRs.
watching them perform is such a treat.
i posted one of their videos on Monday, and some of you already checked them out.
how wise.

go do it! you won't regret it.
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