Celebrating Love

Celebrating Love

urban whimsy photography

I’m a sucker for romantic couple’s pictures: the love, the laughter, the connection radiating out of the photo. When they pop up on my social media feeds, I get all the warm lovey feels.

In our society, we seem to save these professional couple’s photos for two occasions: engagements and weddings. It’s wonderful to document these two types of love celebrations. The dress, the ring, the heartbeat of the marriage = so wonderful, so valid, so beautiful.

But they are all symbols of what’s already going on behind closed doors. What about all the love celebrations that happen before “I Do,” after “I Do,” or instead of “I do”?

  • What about the fights you worked through?
  • What about the doubts you dealt with?
  • What about the hangups you let go of?
  • What about the hard work of figuring out how to be an individual in a relationship?
  • What about the hurts you forgave?
  • What about the times you apologized?
  • What about the messy work of navigating a brand new family and their ways?
  • What about the un-cute things you helped with when he/she was sick?
  • What about the monotony you kinda enjoyed together?
  • What about the the needing to brush your teeth but having sex anyway?

These are all worthy of love celebrations too. I believe in celebrating. It’s a core value of mine. Right up there with sisterhood and namaste and chocolate…

Love Photos

urban whimsy photography

When one of my dearest besties in the world (who happens to be an incredible photographer) offered to take photos of Kyle and I together – not because we got engaged or married, simply because we have partnered up in love – I knew it was perfect.

In tune with our peers (Only 27% of 20 to 36 year olds are married right now), Kyle and I are not following the well-worn traditional path of boy meets girl, boy marries girl.

We are happily blazing a new trail.

We are two individual unmarried people who just so happened to join forces for ultimate world domination joy and growth and friendship and intimacy and companionship and support.

We didn’t want to wait for an “approved” ceremony to photograph the love happening right now. These photos do not mark any life event in particular. We simply loved each other that day. And that alone was worth celebrating. After all, as the theologian Pat Benetar explains, “Love is a battlefield.”

 

urban whimsy photography

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urban whimsy photography

urban whimsy photography

Maybe we should start celebrating the pure bliss of love, the hard work of love – even the pain of love – before the “I Do” even happens AND after the “I Do” already happened AND even if the “I Do” doesn’t happen.

Hire the photographer, people. Get a cake. Buy a new dress. Go out a fancy date. Drink a little too much wine. Kiss for longer than 10 seconds. Throw a party.

Love alone is reason enough to celebrate.

I’m poppin’ that champagne top for Kyle and I today. Because our love is worth celebrating today. As it is. In it’s sometimes annoying, never perfect, always interesting, sweet glory. And I’m poppin’ it for you. Because no matter what your love looks like –  It’s worth celebrating just as it is. Love always is.

urban whimsy photography

 

Thank you Heather @ Urban Whimsy Photography for our amazing photos. Follow Heather’s work here: Urban Whimsy Photography Instagram and Urban Whimsy Photography Facebook.

3 Days In Cinque Terre

cinque terre

After we left our 6-week apartment in Rome, we jumped on three trains and made our way to Cinque Terre. I honestly hadn’t heard of these five little villages until my Italy-obsessed mother mentioned them to me recently. I’m so glad she did. I’m so glad we went.

Cinque Terre was definitely one of the most beautiful places we visited in Italy.

cinque terre

Cinque Terre: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Cinque Terre means “Five Lands” in English. And that’s exactly what it is – five small villages right next to each other. They are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore
  • The train will take you back and forth between the towns or you can actually hike in between them too. Many hikers come from all over the world to walk the seaside trails in-between the five villages.
  • The trails between the villages are actually a national park!
  • Cinque Terre’s local wine is typically white and always delicious

cinque terre

We decided to stay in Vernazza each night for the most romantic reason of all: it was the cheapest on Airbnb. We did visit all the other villages other than Monterosso. Vernazza, in the end, was by far my favorite. But each and every one of them is adorable, charming, and breathtaking.

And each one is a killer butt workout. I’m not joking. Stairs upon stairs upon stairs upon stairs.

The food was a bit more expensive than Rome, and though we had some killer meals, there were a few mediocre meals too. Mediocre is an extreme rarity in Italy. So take that for what it’s worth. The views from restaurants were incredible though.

cinque terre

We hiked between Vernazza and Corniglia. It was an easy-to-moderate walk, and we loved it. There was endless picture taking opportunities. We then took a train to Manarola, and one to Riomaggiore. (The trains are a rip off. 4 euros between each of the villages each time – no matter how close you are.)

cinque terre

Kyle painted a lot while we were staying here. We didn’t have wi-fi, so I wrote in my journal and read quite a bit. It was a lovely, relaxing stay.

One night we did a wine tasting of three white local wines. We ended up meeting an Australian couple and visited with them while sipping. It was a lovely evening!

cinque terre wine

Real Cinque Terre Conversation:

Me: Babe! Italy is my favorite country ever. Do you think they’d make me an honorary citizen because of all the wine I drink?

Kyle: Definitely because of that.

Me: That’s what I thought.

cinque terre

3 Days On The Amalfi Coast: Sorrento, Amalfi & Capri

sorrento

The most beautiful places my eyes have ever seen are along the Amalfi Coast. Some of the favorite days of my life were spent along the Amalfi Coast area. This was my favorite trip in Italy! It was also the most expensive trip we took in Italy. The prices for everything were much higher.

Worth it!

On the first day, Kyle rented a litte Fiat 500 to drive us along the Amalfi Coast. It was the only car we used during the 2 months in Italy. It was the perfect afternoon. We listened to music, we stopped in Positano for a seafood lunch, we drove through the windy roads and soaked up every fabulous sight our eyes could see.

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positano

I can never depict the beauty we saw on this drive. No picture will capture it either. It truly is heaven on earth.

We stayed in Sorrento each night. We entitled Sorrento: “Little America.” It is definitely geared toward rich English-speaking tourists, and that’s normally NOT our cup of tea. But we still loved the area. It’s beautiful. Our favorite night was sitting out by the water eating the best muscles of our lives.

sorrento

sorrento

On day 2, we took a ferry to Capri. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. Gorgeous. I got sick as a dog on the ferry ride around the entire island. Other than the waves of nausea, it was a lovely day. I’ll just leave some pictures to attempt to capture it all for you.

capri

capri

capri

The last day we explored Sorrento some more, took a train back to Naples, then a train back to Rome. It was one of the best trips of my entire life. SO happy we went!

3 Days in Naples & Pompeii

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Naples is gritty. Where much of Italy feels like an idyllic dream pulled right out of a movie, Naples has some rough edges. It’s a bit dirty, a bit rougher. Yet its authenticity is so charming, you cannot help but stare in pure joy.

You see mothers hanging laundry from three floors up as men sell fish underneath at the street market. You see kids playing ball in the busy streets while dogs try to beg for a bit of gelato cone.

naples

We only had a brief stay in Naples (with an Airbnb, of course!), but we enjoyed the experience. Of course, since it’s only a short commuter train ride away (30 minutes maybe), we visited Pompeii as well.

Naples: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • The locals of Naples are called Neapolitans.
  • Naples has a straight main street going through a large portion of the area: Spaccanapoli. It’s incredibly narrow, so cars don’t go through most of it. If you get a picture of what Naples looks like in your head, you’re probably picturing Spaccanapoli.
  • Naples was the most bombed Italian city in WWII.

The #1 thing we loved about Napes: the pizza. Holy carbs, batman, Naples is a pizza god. We didn’t expect much less from the original creator of the pizza pie. Both Kyle and I agreed it was the best pizza we’ve ever had in our lives. (Mine, gluten-free, of course). Starita was our favorite pizzeria.

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We also loved its proximity to the water. We ended up climbing Castel dell’Ovo and then finding some nice tables for an afternoon spritz. We got a kick out of watching everyone bath on the rocks.

naples

naples
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naples

naplesPompeii: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Pompeii was a thriving city until Mount Vesuvius blew in 79 A.D. The volcano’s eruption ended up burying the entire city. Nobody in the immediate area was left alive.
  • The city wasn’t discovered again until the 1700s.

pompeii

The ruins of Pompeii are amazing – but honestly, not as impressive as some other ruins we’d already seen in Italy. In fact, we visited Tivoli for a day and enjoyed the ruins at Villa Adriana much more than we did Pompeii.

pompeii

That being said, it was still an incredible and humbling thing to see. I splurged and got the audio guide to learn about as much as I could while we walked around.

pompeii

Ready for the biggest surprise in the world? The best meal I ate in Italy was found in a little side restaurant in the town of Pompeii – about a 15 minute walk from the ruins. I kid you not. The owner’s son apparently has celiac, so he has mastered the art of gluten-free food. We adored it. The restaurant is called Osteria Da Peppino

Overall, our stay in Naples and visit to Pompeii were both great. They can’t qualify as my favorites, but definitely another lovely look at Italy.

A Change Of Plans: Summering

stoddard

My favorite poet, Mary Oliver, says this:

“to live in this world

you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”

Is that not the most beautiful truth bomb you’ve ever read? Our original plan for Europe in 2016 is that mortal love right now.

As many of you know, we were planning on staying in Europe for 6 months before returning to the States for the holidays. Our plans have changed, and I wanted to update everyone close to us and also those who follow our journey.

Some health problems have popped up that need to be addressed with U.S. health insurance (nothing to be alarmed about). The cost of healthcare for non-citizens in Europe is extraordinary. We feel lucky that we have the privilege of health insurance in our home country, and we will be taking advantage of it this summer – starting tomorrow when we fly home.

(NO, all you eager minds trying to guess what’s wrong, I’m 100% not pregnant and do not plan on being pregnant. You’ll have to make up a much wilder story than that!)

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At first, we were understandably bummed that our plans changed. We love Europe. ADORE IT. But we know health comes first (always!).

Once the initial sting wore off, we realized the whole point to the way we live our nomadic lives is to be free, to let the wind blow us where it wants us to go. Simply because this situation is different from our plan does not make it any less of an opportunity for wild experiences to be had.

So instead of “going to New Hampshire to get medical attention” = boring story. We will be “summering in New England.” I mean, come on, that sounds hoity-toity and delicious, right? I’ve never used a season as a verb before!

We plan to take advantage of New Hampshire’s convenient location and spend time throughout New England and New York. We even plan on visiting good ol’ Canada (You know, I have a crush on Justin Trudeu).

We’re going to hike and camp and swim and kayak. I’m going to spend long afternoons reading on a porch. Summering. Meanwhile, we will have full access to health care we can afford.

We are still planning on coming back to Europe for an extended stay. No set dates yet. I guess we will just see when the wind blows us back over the Atlantic…