Vienna, Austria

Hello friends! We got back from Europe this past weekend and we hit the ground running with busy life things. I am going to attempt to consolidate all of the awesome things we did, saw, ate, and experienced in one post per place we visited (otherwise I’ll still be recapping this trip at Christmas time, ha!). I use TripAdvisor a lot for planning trips so I thought I’d just link to my reviews there to keep these posts shorter (so just click through to read more about anything you are interested in). And I thought I’d share a short video from each place we visited as well. Enjoy!


Time Spent in Vienna: 22 hours

Where we stayed: Pension A und A

Where we ate: 

Cafe Central
Bratwurst Stands all across the city
Schnitzelwirt

What we saw/did:

Rick Steves Vienna City Walk Audio Tour
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens
St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Total Steps: 30,727

Miles Walked: 13.5

Floors Climbed: 20

Overall thoughts: 

We used airline miles to buy our tickets to Europe so we were limited in our choices of where to fly in on the dates we wanted. Which is how we ended up in Vienna. I didn’t expect much of Vienna because it wasn’t high on our list of places we wanted to visit (just a convenient place to fly in). Well, as it turned out – we loved Vienna! What a clean city full of music and beautiful architecture. And the bratwursts there were delicious! One of the coolest moments was when we were inside St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a group began singing. It was gorgeous and the acoustics were killer (there’s a clip of it at the end of the video above). All in all, we found Vienna to be quite a delight!🙂

22-hours-in-vienna

If you’ve been to Vienna tell me what you loved about it! 

What’s the cleanest city you’ve visited?

Love Rach

Europe, here we come!!

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The time has come! We are at the airport about to fly out. I’ll be posting on Instagram throughout the trip so feel free to follow along there. Happy Thursday, friends!

Love Rach

Things are just a little lively right now

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Things are a little lively around our household right now. We just got home from photographing an out-of-town wedding and visiting family for Labor Day weekend. And we leave the country in two days. TWO DAYS, you guys. So many exciting things and so much that we have been preparing for. And now it’s all HERE. We started the packing process last week since we knew we’d be out of town this weekend which means that after a load of laundry tomorrow morning, we’ll be pretty much ready to go!

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We’re traveling light because that’s how we roll (except we don’t really “roll” because we use backpacks, not traditional suitcases, ha!). One carry-on size backpack per person. For 17 days. Totally worth it to not have to deal with checking bags.

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For those wondering about the gallon-sized bags… each bag has a date on it and then into that bag Christopher and I put one shirt each, one pair of undies each, and a pair of socks each. That way we’ve laid it out ahead of time to be sure we won’t clash and we don’t have to figure out what we’re wearing each day. Visiting a cathedral and need to have my shoulders covered that day? No problem – there will be a shirt that covers my shoulders in the bag for that day. Hiking? A tank top for that day. We did this when we went to Italy three years ago and it was awesome. Made getting ready for each day so effortless!

For this trip we have 8 different gallon-sized bags with outfits that we’ll wash half way through the trip and then re-wear for the second half of the trip. We also have a 9th bag for our swimwear and a 10th for one long-sleeved shirt each. I know you really care about these details (not, ha!), but I know I’ll like looking back and reading this later.🙂

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Oh, and please feel free to laugh at the medicine cabinet that we’re bringing along. In addition to our  normal daily pills, we’re bringing a few “just in case” extras. We’ll be in some fairly remote places at one point on this trip so we’re trying to be pretty prepared.

Alrighty, I’m off to finish up my to-do list! Happy Tuesday, friends!
Love Rach

The truth behind our “picture-perfect” beach photos

I think about cutting my hair back to just above my shoulders from time to time. Typically 6 days out of the week my hair is in a bun on top of my head, a pony tail, or a braid. So I ask myself why I bother with having long hair if I’m just throwing it up out of my way. But then… about once a week (or maybe twice if it’s a date night, special occasion, or we’re traveling) I’ll wear my hair down and I’ll remember just how much I love having it long. So once again I’ll put off cutting it.

rach at the beach{from our most recent Destin trip – yes, I’m rocking my FitBit and hair tie as bracelets😉 }

Ah, that pretty hair! But this photo is deceptive. You know how all those beach photos you see of Christopher and me look so perfect? Well, it usually takes ten photos to get ONE great one. The gentle breeze that we love all day long while being out on the beach turns into a WIND by sunset every evening. Making photos kind of hilarious. Please see below.

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This shot is also from our most recent Destin trip. Check out that wild hair. Absolutely fabulous.😉 Poor Christopher usually ends up with a face-full of my hair while trying to get the beautiful photos we love. Click here to see the far more magical photo taken just minutes later when the wind died down a bit.

destin may 2016

This one makes me laugh because Christopher is attempting to tame my mane. This is a pretty regular occurrence when attempting to take beach photos.😉 This photo is from our Destin trip this past May (prettier photos from this day can be found here).

DSC_4731 copy{Panama City Beach earlier this summer}

Even when it’s kind of wild, I still like my long hair. The upkeep can be a pain sometimes and I honestly am pretty boring with how I style it most of the time, but at the end of the day I know that I won’t always have long hair. Eventually the day will come when I cut it all off once again so I’m going to enjoy having it for now.

vow renewal in cozumelRenewing our vows in 2011 just off the coast of Cozumel on our first cruise (my hair had been cut just above my shoulders earlier that year).

By the way, for newer readers… I used to cut 10″ off my hair every year (about 4 or 5 years in a row) to donate to organizations that made wigs for cancer patients (my hair grows super fast so this was easy for me). I quit doing it a couple of years ago because I wanted long hair for our Italy trip in 2013. Turned out that I kind of loved that long hair so I’ve kept it around the last few years.🙂

Why is your hair the length that it is (short, medium, or long)?

Have you attempted photos on a windy day and found yourself with a face full of hair? Even people with shorter hair have this problem! I know because I photograph them all the time.😉

Love Rach

Perspective

Before I begin today’s post, I want to ask you guys to say a prayer for Christopher’s brother & sister-in-law. They just found out that they lost their baby and will be going to the hospital to deliver this week. Please pray for them as they navigate this devastating loss and for our family as we grieve with them.

I’ve mentioned before that we spend our Monday nights with our friends from Syria. What began as an ESL tutoring relationship has turned into a wonderful friendship. I’ve had a couple of people ask me about it so I wanted to share a recent story with you guys.

Last week we were laughing about how Christopher gets woozy when dealing with blood or needles (my favorite story to tell is the one about how one time I got a shot and he nearly passed out from watching).

Our friend was sharing that a long time ago she too was like that. A spot of blood on a band aid would make her head swim. We all laughed together in this light hearted moment and then her husband piped up explaining why she is no longer bothered by blood.

“War. Ever since the war, ***** (her name) is no longer bothered by blood.”

For them it was just a fact of life. A reality in which they have lived. They continued on with the conversation about funny stories of how she used to be so light headed about blood while both Christopher and I were trying to hide our shock.

We know that we lead privileged lives. That there are so many people around this world who are living such harder lives than we do. Even people in our own city. We try to always be mindful of that and to not take any of it for granted. And to bless as many people as we can along the way. But there is a big difference between having that general awareness and sitting face-to-face with someone who has lived through tragedy we can’t even begin to imagine.

Last week was a difficult one for me. The news I got from the doctor wasn’t what I wanted to hear. And honestly, it would be easy to dwell on that. But spending time with these friends puts things into perspective for me. And reminds me to focus more on my blessings and less on the hurts in this life.

When we first began ESL tutoring with this family we were so far out of our comfort zone. There were lots of awkward silences as we tried to navigate how to communicate with each other when we didn’t speak the same language. But it has absolutely been worth working through those awkward moments to come to the point where we are now. If you have any interest in helping out with refugees in the US, let me know! I’m happy to help point you in the direction of more information.🙂

Do you get woozy when dealing with blood or needles?

Have you had a similar experience where life was put into such sharp perspective?

EDIT to add: To clarify, I think it is so important to take time to grieve sad things in our lives. I wrote about that here last summer. When I got that call from the doctor, I cried. I then talked to Christopher about it and cried again. I do have the tendency to minimize things in my personal life, but that has never worked out well for me (it just builds until it’s overwhelming then all hits me at once). So I try to give myself space and time to be sad about sad things in my life. But I also know that it’s not healthy for me to stay in that place. I need to take some time to be sad about it, but then I need to carry on. Depending on what has happened and the severity of it kind of depends on how long that period of “sadness” or grief is. And sometimes it comes and goes. In this case – it wasn’t the worst news I’ve gotten in the past couple of years. Just discouraging. I needed to have a few sad moments and then move on. And for me the best way to do that is to look at all the good things in my life. To be reminded of all I have to be thankful for. And in this past week’s case – all the things I take for granted as well. Hopefully that makes sense. Sometimes when you’re feeling all the feelings, it’s hard to convey everything you mean in one blog post. Thanks for having grace for me today, friends. :)  

Love Rach

Favorites: The Routine Things

You know how sometimes there are things that are just so a part of your normal routine that you don’t even realize how much you love them? Today’s post is all about me sharing some of my favorite routine things.🙂

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Mornings kick off with my Bible, prayer journal, She Reads Truth devo, and a reading from Common Prayer (also daily online here). If you are looking for a good daily devotional – I really recommend She Reads Truth. And my husband really likes the He Reads Truth daily emails as well. We’ve been doing their devos for nearly a year now and while some have interested us more than others, we have definitely been blessed by the ministry as a whole. Also, I’ve been digging this smoothie again lately.

the skimm

After quiet time, I take a few minutes to check in on the news. I’ve used several different news sources over the years and theSkimm has been one of my favorites (thank you, Amy for recommending it!). It’s short and to the point and has underlying humor to it. {official disclaimer: if you use the link above to sign up, I get referral points which I think eventually lead to swag, but you guys know that I never recommend anything that I don’t actually use and love myself}

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I only wear make up once or twice a week, but I’ve found the most magic thing that makes me actually enjoy wearing makeup! The BeautyBlender! Okay yes, I know. Everyone else already knows about this, but until Elle from ElleSees really convinced me of how magical the BeautyBlender was, there was no way I was shelling out that much $$ for a make up sponge. And to be honest – I still didn’t at first. I put it on my Christmas wish list, ha! But I was given one and LOVED it. It has cut my make up application time in half because it blends so beautifully and easily. I’ve even bought a replacement one for myself since then which shows how much I love the BB since I spent my own money on it.🙂 I’ve used both the pink one and the black one and like them both! Further Helpful Reading on BeautyBlenders: Why you should give the BB a chance, How to use the BB, and How to clean your BB.

gym selfie

This isn’t actually my gym (this photo was taken from a hotel we stayed in earlier this year), but I don’t have any photos of me at my actual gym so this will have to do.😉 Anyway, time at the gym is another every-day favorite. I typically find myself at the gym for about an hour and a half every day, but it’s not a very intense hour and a half. I walk on a treadmill (with my face in a book) just fast enough to get my heart rate up, I lift light weights to tone & strengthen, and I do simple 10 minute ab workouts. My goal is to maintain my current weight and to keep my muscles (including my heart) strong and toned. So far, so good.😉 If you have questions about my work out routine please let me know! I love to talk fitness!

fitbit on the beach.jpg{Rockin’ my FitBit on the beach last week. And if you look closely you can see Christopher’s clip-on FitBit on his pocket as well.}

My final daily favorite for this post: I love my FitBit. It’s a whole post for another time, but suffice it to say: I have loved having it this year. Competing with my family has been a lot of fun! So, if you have a FitBit and want to compete – I’m in! Let me know and I’ll add you. Unless of course you are going to kick my tooshy on the first challenge we do by running 10 miles and mowing the lawn all on a SUNDAY. Not naming any names coughKRISTENcough. Oh oops, it just slipped out.😉 Just kidding, it was actually really great inspiration for me!🙂

Do we share any favorites? 

Tell me about a favorite of yours! 

Love Rach

Destin Favorites Video

Destin has become a bit of a home-away-from-home for us. Christopher grew up going there as a kid and we have now been there together six times. We’ve fallen into quite the groove of how this trip goes. Even getting there has its own traditions. Leaving Memphis after work, Chick Fil A for dinner, Starbucks Reserve Store for a coffee break, and then crashing at my parents’ house late at night (they live 2 hours from Destin so they are a great place to stay when we get in at midnight so we don’t have to mess with late night check ins). Anyway, I wanted to share ALL of our favorites with you guys, but that would be a very, very long blog post. So I decided instead that I was going to film it. Enjoy!


Note: When I say “the best” this or that, I mean in our opinions based on trying the top rated places so far. Clearly we haven’t tried every single place in Destin (though believe me – we’re working on it!). :) 

Was your favorite part of the video the high five on the beach? Because it’s one of mine! Seeing my expression makes me laugh every time I watch it!😉

Have you been to Destin? Do we share any favorites? And of course I’m always open to recommendations for trying new places if you have any!
Love Rach