I can already tell that this is going to be a good one because your girl THRIVES in October. I am writing this on a crisp Fall morning with a fresh pot of coffee and the morning sun pouring into our living room – Halloween is just a few days away and I can’t help but wish that this particular sliver of the year could last for two months instead of just one. I love the playful, mischievous energy in the air, nature is doing its gorgeous nature thing, Fall fashion reigns supreme and Sundays are spent watching Taylor Swift’s hot new boyfriend play football while some sort of comfort meal smells fill the house. Like – this time of year is GOLD. I’ve always said that the most ‘basic’ things are the best things – there’s a reason so many girlies love Fall. I’ll be too busy enjoying my PSL to care what the haters have to say.
Fall things I’ve obsessed over lately and just simply want you to know about:
Movies – Practical Magic (eclipsed Hocus Pocus as my favorite Halloween-time movie), Mona Lisa Smile (one of the gazillion movies I watched on our flights)
Books – Fourth Wing (FLEW through this over the course of 3 days in Nice), Heal the Witch Wound (for my spiritual/witchy babes out there who struggle with doubt or fear), and Settle Up (my best friend Allison’s THIRD romance novel!)
Music – OBVIOUSLY 1989 TV, my favorite vault tracks are Say Don’t Go and Now That We Don’t Talk. And if you haven’t devoured Noah Kahan’s Stick Season at this point, I don’t know what to tell you.
I know we’re all here for the Europe recap so I will get right to it. My husband and I took the trip of our DREAMS after a tough summer and it was everything. I guess you could call it our delayed honeymoon (because we never really took one after our wedding last July), but Taylor and I love a big international adventure regardless of the occasion.
I first want to talk about the fact that this was the trip that almost didn’t happen. When everything was going down this summer with Ryder, we basically just had our flights booked and nothing else. I kid you not when I say that the week before everything crumbled is when Taylor and I started having the conversation about canceling all of our Fall travel plans – including our honeymoon. At that point, Taylor was carrying Ryder up and down the stairs of our apartment just so that he could go to the bathroom. Ryder literally couldn’t function without Taylor physically present – we knew sacrifices would need to be made to support him. But he must have not been cool with that, and here we are. He was in the back of our minds the entire trip – I think we enjoyed it to the fullest knowing that he must have really wanted us to go. It was always our thing to talk about how much Ryder would enjoy the far-away places that we visit (and how much we wish we could bring him with us), and this time was no different. We shed a few tears talking about how much he would have loved swimming in the Mediterranean with us – but maybe he was more present in spirit on that trip than any before. Ryder visits me in meditation all the time. I see him running around, swimming, and woo’ing (what we called his bark). I know he’s always with us, but the pain of missing him is still there – still something we hold every day.
I am so excited to give this loose rambly-recap of Europe. Probably not many of you know, but the first side hustle I ever started while working my corporate job was a travel blog (which I named, Adventures After Coffee…still love that). Travel blogging was fckn exhausting though. I’d be lying if I said that documenting my travel experiences for others didn’t impact my time on the trip itself. It felt like I was always planning or doing things with an audience in mind. Wanting to visit the coolest places, jam-pack trips with things to write about, etc. This trip was an entirely different experience. I went in with ZERO plans/research done (other than a few Pinterest/Tiktok saves) and an attitude of going with the flow – my husband is a MASTER at this, but me…not so much. We started our journey in London, England – took a quick flight to Nice, France – trained our way along the coast of the Mediterranean to Cinque Terre, Italy – ending our adventure in Florence, Italy. Taylor had never been to Europe, and I had never been to France or Italy before this trip. Now I am counting down the days until we get to return (anyone getting married in Europe? TAKE ME PLS).
London – Our few days spent in London were an absolute whirlwind, but we honestly couldn’t get enough. I’ve been to London once before – it was a great trip, but there was WEIRD energy around that first visit. During our short time there, catastrophe after catastrophe struck. Quick story – I literally missed witnessing a stabbing by mere minutes while on a solo coffee run. One morning, I woke up early jetlagged and offered to grab coffee for me and my friend, Haley. In my short walk to the coffee shop, someone got stabbed right outside of our Airbnb – unbeknownst to me, who strolled right into a cautioned-taped crime scene with two coffees in one hand and two pastries in the other. The police took down my information as a witness while I balanced far too many things in my hands, with I am sure the look of a deer-in-headlights before they let me back into our place. It was nuts. Didn’t write about that in my travel blog LOL.
This time to London was absolutely lovely in comparison with no imminent threats of violence. London is hands down one of my favorite cities in the world. Don’t even get me started on how much I love the public transit – total slut for the tube. I just think London has everything and everything you could ever want in a city – and it’s gorgeous! So much character in the architecture within the different areas of the city. Bonus points – all of the pubs had nonalcoholic beer options!! I loved getting to enjoy beers with Taylor at the pubs – definitely his favorite aspect of the visit. We noted how much we wanted to come back for an even longer visit next time – which I think is a sign of how my travel style is changing. I am valuing more intention – going deeper at one spot as opposed to trying to hit all of the surrounding areas in a matter of days just cause you’re close.
Nice – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so happy because of the vibes of a destination. Nice was a dreamland for me. We were so lucky with how the weather turned out on this trip – while packing, we weren’t even sure how much beach time was going to be feasible. Turns out we got to spend nearly every day on the Mediterranean for a solid week – it was unbelievable. Once we got to Nice, our daily agenda basically consisted of:
Dress up for dinner
I can’t even tell you how much I needed the simplification of life that comes with a vacation. Just to do the same thing every day with the main goals being rest and pleasure. It was luxurious getting to turn off my brain for a couple of weeks and just exist. I like that travel reminds me of this.
Cinque Terre – On our first night, I ate an entire pizza all to myself and that’s pretty much all you need to know about our time in Italy…kidding (kind of). Cinque Terre & Nice feel like cousins to me (which makes sense because they are on the same coastline) – one Italian & one French. We stayed in the Monterosso village of Cinque Terre – which is in my opinion, probably the best spot to stay if you want to enjoy the beach while visiting. We continued our routine of Eat, Sleep, Beach against the colorful backdrop of Monterosso. I think that’s probably the thing I miss the most from our trip – the color and character of all of the buildings. I would absolutely die being a photographer in Europe – you literally never run out of interesting backdrops for your stories.
This will probably ruffle some feathers, but we did get a little tired of the food while in Italy (DON’T KILL ME). It was seriously so good, but for two people who normally don’t even visit Italian restaurants while in our own city – it was a lot after a week, lol. Taylor tried to order a salad at lunch once, and it was literally slices of smoked tuna, focaccia, tomatoes & olives with not a shred of greens in sight. We died laughing when it arrived.
NOT TO MENTION how we could just not get into the right groove of the eating times either. As you probably know, Italians close up shop in the afternoon and reopen for dinner around 7 or so. I swear to god, every fucking day we didn’t get hungry for lunch until the closings and it lead to some hangry moments for sure, HA.
I did allow myself to enjoy some Italian wine while we were there! At first, I really struggled with the choice, but Taylor helped me see that I was being too hard on myself – too black & white in my thinking. It was delicious, and I didn’t experience depressive thoughts or feel horrendous the next morning – and I feel like it was a great lesson in just being intentional. I think at the end of the day, that’s all I am really striving for in my choice to live a non-alcoholic lifestyle.
Florence – We must have gotten upgraded or something at our hotel in Florence because we ended up with this stunning, two-level hotel room with a HUGE private terrace. Florence re-energized us with its things to do and increased restaurant/menu options. We realize that we really are just two city-loving kids, doesn’t matter where in the world we are. I love, loved the vibes of Florence and it’s emphasis on art. We were a *little* burnt out on traveling at this point, so we spent most of our days in Florence with some light exploration and a lot of chill time.
Then the real fun started when we had to rent a car to head out to Tuscany. I swear to god, if your marriage can survive driving in a foreign country it can survive anything. We rented an apartment at a villa situated on an olive farm – yes, ‘twas as dreamy as it sounds. The last two days of our trip actually ended up being some of my favorites – we visited a local grocery store and cooked for ourselves while enjoying the tranquility of the countryside. On our last day, I participated in a styled shoot at the absolutely unbelievable Villa Corsini with Mae & Co Creative. I am so grateful that Taylor let me work a little in Europe because it is a massive dream of mine to start getting destination wedding jobs out there in the future.
This felt like one of those important trips that we will remember forever. In a lot of ways, we were healing – truly getting to enjoy ourselves and have fun together after the toughest loss. Celebrating an end to the pandemic and restricted travel. Closing a chapter on being newlyweds and finishing our twenties. I am starting to want and dream of motherhood more and more (this will be a WHOLE other topic to cover on here someday), and I can’t help but think about this being one of our last big adventures without kiddos. The last trip with *this* version of us – and it was perfect.
October was full of moments and good times and provided a small break from a very busy wedding season. I am looking ahead at November as one final sprint of the year before some much-needed R&R in December. If you didn’t catch this update on my IG – I have officially *closed* my books for the 2023 year. I will be spending this time focusing on my wedding galleries and strategizing for the upcoming year at Biz Retreat!
Let me use this moment to plug Biz Retreat — a few years ago, me and my best friend, Alex of Alexandria Jean Fitness, started Biz Retreat as an escape from our daily hustle as entrepreneurs to reflect, center, and strategize in hopes of setting better goals and going after our biggest dreams with intention from year to year. Biz Retreat has been such a game-changer in my business and for this year ESPECIALLY, I know just how valuable that time away is going to be. As a solopreneur, I do it all – from the big-picture thinking all the way down to the simplest admin tasks. During busy times (now) I am finding that it is even easier to get lost in my day-to-day operations without ever having time to pull my head up for that necessary macro-level strategic planning. We still have two spots left for our retreat as I type this and are currently running a flash sale ($200 off your ticket, totaling to $900) from now through November 2nd! You can join us by signing up, here.
Until November! Happy Halloween XO