Mama and Me in Italy

Well it's been over 2 months since we've been back, but I promised myself I would post about our trip, so here it is! Better late than never :) I shared the story behind how this trip came to be here and I would love to document this special memory on my blog as well. The first mother/daughter trip we've ever taken and it happened to be to one of my very favorite places in the world. We had to keep pinching ourselves that this trip was actually happening and we'll never stop being grateful to my Dad for helping to make this a reality (we love you!). Without further ado, here are some of the highlights, recommendations, and lessons learned from Mama/Daughter Italy trip 2016:

  • Make sure you are very clear on the difference between Military and Standard time. For some reason we didn't triple check our departure time and 17:00 became 7pm in our heads rather than 5pm. Our flight literally left two hours earlier than we were anticipating but thank you sweet baby Jesus we still made it somehow.
  • Wine is acceptable at every meal when you're in Italy.
 Desenzano, Lake Garda - The town we first stayed in

Desenzano, Lake Garda - The town we first stayed in

  • It helped to not have too many set expectations for this trip because it allowed us to go with the flow as things came up. We decided to take a boat to track down this one hotel I wanted to see and got to see several of the other towns around Lake Garda which were all so gorgeous and charming. We ended up in Gargnano which was absolutely amazing.
  • Being spontaneous is good but planning ahead is also good if you have your heart set on something. One of the main reasons we chose Lake Garda as one of our destinations was because I saw Julia of Gal Meets Glam's post on Lake Garda and decided I needed to visit this magical land. She stayed at Villa Feltrinelli and all I wanted to do was walk around the property and take some pictures. We learned the hard way that it's not open to the public and if you're not staying there you would need a reservation at their nice restaurant to be able to enter the grounds :( We were still so happy we got to experience Gargnano because of that excursion, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed. Just means I'll have to come back ;)
 That's Villa Feltrinelli on the right. Sigh.

That's Villa Feltrinelli on the right. Sigh.

  • I realized it's possible to love a place similarly to how you love a person. Knowing I was returning to Rome (where I spent 4 months in college), actually made me nervous and excited and like I was going to see someone I've loved but haven't seen in a long time. I miss that place so much it hurts sometimes, and was so very excited to spend some much needed time together :)
  • Sometimes tears are inevitable, but choosing to have grace and learning to let go of expectations can make all the difference. Looking back, we realized that we tried to pack a little too much into this 9 day trip (I'll take responsibility for that one), and all the traveling and moving around led to moments of exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed by all we were trying to do. It took some intentional slowing down, and allowing ourselves space (with some extra sides of pasta and wine) to get us back into a good place.
  • My heart was so, so happy being back in Rome. I love this pic my Mom took of me (below) because I feel like it so wonderfully captures my joy being in the middle of my favorite city on such a beautiful day (thank you Mama for being my fantastic, and patient, photographer).
  • We have friends whose family owns the Ristorante Di Rienzo in front of the Pantheon so we went there for lunch one day and loved it. Feels so surreal to be staring at the Pantheon while eating lunch. Also, my Mom and I became big fans of Campari and Aperol Spritzes while we were there (the orange drinks you see everyone drinking). So perfectly tart and refreshing.
 Pantheon is on the left, and my favorite church in Rome is on the right - Santa Maria Maddalena 

Pantheon is on the left, and my favorite church in Rome is on the right - Santa Maria Maddalena 

  • Getting to show my Mom where I lived when I studied abroad (that's me in front of my apartment in Trastevere below) and where I went to school (view from outside my school in the pic on the right) was so special.
 Dinner on our last night in Rome

Dinner on our last night in Rome

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  • I was grateful to my Mama for being fine with me doing some solo exploring of my own. On our last night in Rome I ventured out to see one of my favorite monuments - the Victor Emmanuel - and made a stop by Trevi Fountain to throw a coin in. That way I made sure I'll come back ;)
  • After Rome it was onto our most anticipated city of the trip - Positano! This charming town on the Amalfi Coast is so incredibly beautiful and romantic, and it felt wonderful to be able to rest and relax a little bit more since there's not as much exploring or sightseeing to do there. Here are some pics and recommendations from our favorite places we went to:
  • We stayed at the Hotel L'Ancora and I would highly recommend it. It's right next to Le Sirenuse (one of the most famous hotels in Positano) so the views are basically the same, but the price is much more do-able (it's a 4 star as opposed to a 5 star). We also loved the restaurant at our hotel and ended up eating there multiple times. I think we squealed every single time we looked at the view from our balcony.
 I found a margarita!

I found a margarita!

  • Another amazing benefit of Hotel L'Ancora was the fact that they were connected to a couple other hotels in Positano, meaning we had access to their facilities and you could charge meals to your room from any of the restaurants there as well. The absolutely incredible Hotel Covo Dei Saraceni was one of those hotels (I'll pause while you go Google image search that place) and we went there for lunch one day and to their pool and were in Heaven. It was so, so beautiful and it's my dream to stay there someday. So here are a few pics from that place:
  • Franco's Bar (connected to Le Sirenuse and right next to our hotel as well) was amazing. I would definitely recommend getting there early for a drink while you watch the sunset.
  • We went to Le Sirenuse's Champagne and Oyster Bar for drinks one night before dinner and that was incredibly magical as well.

I'm so grateful my Mama and I had this experience together and know it's one we'll treasure forever. We don't take for granted that we have the kind of relationship where we actually enjoy being around each other, and that we get to add sweet times like this to our memory bank together. Love you Mommy, so grateful to you and Dad for making this possible - this trip will always occupy a special place in my heart.

xoxo,

Sara B.

"Single Sara"

I’ve always wished for a spell that allowed you to permanently lock in place the effects of a completed chore, or a lesson learned, so that you wouldn’t have to do it more than once. Do you ever finish vacuuming your room and think, “I’ll have to do this again in a week. Why can’t the carpet just stay pretty forever after this one, sweaty, 15 minute sesh I just had?” Changing the cat box? Once was already one too many times for that thing. You’re telling me I’ll have to keep doing lunges and squats forever if I want my buns all firm and perky? Less materially than chores are the moments you want to freeze when you just “get it.” When you look in the mirror and totally accept who you see physically. When you don’t feel a shred of jealousy from your friend’s good news because you honestly are selflessly and utterly happy for her. And the big one for me - when you truly believe that God is good, all the time, which means that wherever He has you in that moment is exactly where you’re meant to be.

But life doesn’t work quite like that does it? I think there must be something to the discipline of cleaning up a messy house every week. And dragging your butt out of bed for a workout not just three days a week or until you see results, but constantly, as a rhythm of release and therapy and increasing in strength. And there’s for sure a reason we don’t learn a lesson once and retain it forever, like robots that were just upgraded to a newer model, our Creator hitting His head and realizing He should have pre-programmed us with more skills and gifts. There’s something to that “thorn in my side” metaphor that (annoyingly, yet beautifully) reminds us that we were never meant to be perfect. And we all have our “things.” And more likely than not, we’ll spend the rest of our lives having to surrender the lies and the hurt and the pain and the ugly parts of who we are, and re-learning the truth and the beauty and the grace that was meant to replace all of it. Sometimes there are seasons of “getting it.” Months and possibly years where the Truths are nested deep in our hearts and we can draw from them quickly and easily. There are other times where we have to start over every morning. A painful reminder that we’re not there yet. And that we can’t always change our hearts and our minds with our own strength. I want to think of this entire process as a gift, but some days all I want to do is chuck that “gift” in the ocean and search for the nearest “EASY” button to press and make everything better.

That’s a lot of build-up for what I was actually wanting to write about. So thanks for sticking with me. I haven’t figured out an eloquent way to verbalize this current struggle of mine so I’ll just say it: being single really, really sucks sometimes. I’ve been single for over 3.5 years now. Minus a few dates here and there and guys who’ve occupied my heart and mind for far too long without a real relationship attached it to. But no boyfriend. No one to bring over to dinner with my family. No one to sit next to me at church when I have no one to go with. No one to hug and kiss goodnight and know that the next day they’ll still want to call and hang out with me. No plus one to my friends’ weddings. Just Single Sara. And yes, that is me throwing a disgustingly pathetic pity party for myself, and allowing my identity to be defined by my relationship status, but those are the sad thoughts I think, and the stupid truths I believe. Not every day, but a lot of days lately. Even writing this makes me mad, because I used to always tell myself I’d never be this person. I’d always be strong and happy and independent even if I wasn’t married by 30, 35, 40, whatever. But since I am human, and therefore not perfect, I haven’t found a way to be fully satisfied no matter where life has me. And I figure there’s a good chance I’m not alone in these feelings either. So I will write from my heart, even when my heart doesn’t look like how I want it to.

While reading “The Meaning of Marriage” (a book I highly recommend for everyone), I came across a quote about singleness that really struck me. The author quoted Paige Benton Brown's article "Singled Out by God for Good" saying, “I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I’m too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is His best for me.” Whoa. I’d never heard it like that before. It changes things when you learn to set aside your expectations for where you think you should be in life, or even where the world thinks you should be.

For me, right now, the lesson I have to continually re-learn is trusting that God is good, all the time. No matter what. No matter how I feel or where I am in life. Because when I remember He is good, that means His plan for my life is better than my own. That He knows the best and perfect timing for every chapter I am to experience. And in those moments, I get it. There is peace and assurance and hope, even if I know I might have to go through all of this again tomorrow. Thank goodness God never said, “get it right this once or else.” Instead He says, “pick up your cross daily, come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and you will find rest for your souls.” Amen.

From my heart,

Sara B.

From NSFW to SFW

Lulu's top, Forever21 tank dress, Old Navy booties

Well helloooo there! Man, I almost forgot how this thing works it's been so long. There's so much to say and clearly not enough time (or space) so I'm gonna keep it real simple and say that I hope to be back soon :) 

While my heart has been hoping to use this space more for writing and less for fashion, I had an idea for something (a potential series?) that could possibly be helpful to some of you! So outfit post it is to welcome me back to the blog world. 

Lately I've been trying to get real creative with outfits to keep me from shopping, and I've realized my closet has a lot more possibilities than I give it credit for. I'm sure I'm not alone when I admit I've bought an item - or passed up on one entirely - that in my mind has no place in the classy, "normal" outfit-wearing world. For example: crop tops, backless shirts or dresses, bathing suit cover-ups, etc. Things you would never wear to work or to meet your boyfriend's parents or to anything that you wouldn't want people thinking you're dressed totes inapropes for the occasion. So then we assign different clothes for different events, and hardly stray from those rules in our mind, which keeps us from being creative with how many different ways we can actually wear something.

That's a lot of words to say: in this case, I took a somewhat backless top and threw it over a simple, casual dress so I could wear it to work since it never sees the light of day otherwise. The day before that, I wore a crop top that I had really only labeled as my "Stagecoach shirt" with a high-waisted skirt  and am proud to say I felt totally appropriate leaving the house in it. So I'm hoping to post a few more of these kind of looks in case it helps you get creative with the clothes you have. I miss you guys and this place a lot. Have the very best day, I'll try not to stay away as long next time ;)

xoxo 

Sara B.