Let us talk about sleep. The often-times elusive thing that allows us to recharge our batteries. It is such a precious gift that I will long for it during difficult pain days. Which is exactly why I can't believe I have a hard time sleeping!  It may start out great, I will be active all day, trying to wear myself out. Sometimes that works, sometimes it backfires on me in a horrid way and I wind up tossing and turning all night. The next day, my crankiness is the awful  repercussion of the night before. My poor Mr. has to deal with Jessy the monster.

Different studies show reasons why you can't sleep... most of which don't apply to me. Some folks say you have to  fung shui your bedrooms, so I research that. From what I gather, it's not something Christians should be doing- so that's out the window.

Some say an active mind can't really shut off, that you just focus on something boring or repetitive and try to shut out the one million and one other thoughts bouncing around in there like a pin ball machine. So I try to recite the Our Father prayer over & over. Some nights it works, some nights it doesn't.



And if it's a new place, or new room, or even new arrangement of my own bedroom... I can forget getting a good nights sleep! It's so frustrating! On top of that, trust me when I say this, if I don't get at least 8 good hours of sleep, I am your worst nightmare. Seriously, it's a proven fact. I can "function" on 7 without anyone getting hurt, but if it's less than that, watch your back!

Well, maybe it's not that serious, but close! I just feel like death warmed over. I don't understand how the Mr. can go on 5 hours of sleep and not miss a beat. I suppose it's the Army training, but my body rejects any and everything having to do with any and everything for the entire day.  I can't even take naps during the day because I know it will mess my sleep schedule up!

This is my sleep ritual, and what I have to do is get all work done by at least 7 pm- dinner dishes done, everything placed just so and finished. I then watch a little TV, try to relax, take my shower, and just basically try to tune everything out and do mind-numbing things until I feel sleepy enough to go get in the bed. Then it's a little more TV or reading, and I start saying my prayers. If I'm lucky, I'll fall asleep in an hour or so with my Lavender eye pillow next to me, my Rain on the Roof sound app playing from my phone, Ginny tucked under my arm and hogging the bed.... Oh! and my breathe right strip since I am allergic to said Ginny and my nose stops up causing me to snore all night and then wake myself up!

I'm telling ya, it's a process!!!

What do you do when you can't sleep? Is it hard to sleep in new places like it is for me? No, seriously, I want to know!
Sleep Rituals

4

...compare yourself!  In this age of technology, posting photos and bragging about the highlights of life is done within seconds. You can post anything and everything, and people see it instantly. How does that affect your life? When you see your friend posting about a new car when you drive an older model, or when you are stuck in your cubicle and you see beach vacation photos pop up on your home feed, do you feel jealous?

I think everyone feels a little something to a point. I know I am guilty of this at times. It's human nature, and it's hard to always keep control over that not so pretty side of ourselves. So, I went to the bible in search of something cling to when this type of feeling bubbles to the surface.

 Gal 6:4 says that

 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone,without comparing themselves to someone else


We are not to compare ourselves to others. That's a pretty tough thing to do. We all know that we are blessed, well, at least I hope you do! Every now and then, I like to just sit and count each and every one of my blessings. Yes, my life hasn't been easy. There are things that I've had to deal with that most people will never know what it's like to go through, but God has blessed me tremendously in so many other ways that it's impossible not to feel loved and satisfied with the life he has given me.

Happiness and joy should come from within, and from acknowledging that your God gave you exactly what you need in this life he has planned for you. Who are we to say it's not good enough?  As long as we cling to him, and are thankful of the blessings he's give us, our lives will be fulfilled and happy.

Psalm 103:2

Praise the Lord, my soul,  and forget not all his benefits



Our God is going to give us everything we need, we only need to know and believe this in our hearts. We are not meant for this world, and because of that,  some days will be hard. Things will fall apart, but the love God has for you will never falter. Take comfort in that, my friends. 



What are some go-to verses that you use to get through rough moments?

Don't you dare...

9

So today, as all Mondays, I link up with The Nectar Collective to bring you my weekly wishes. This is just a way to hold me accountable for things/goals I need/want to do this week. Sort of puts a time limit on your to do list!

The Nectar Collective
Also, I'm going to be threading in my instagram pics from last week. Might as well share those with you while you read!


Last week's wishes:

1. Continue blogging and scheduling posts for the month. (but what blogger EVER feels like they are blogging enough, am I right?) 2 weeks scheduled out, booyah! I couldn't believe the amount of work it takes to cover weeks ahead of time. Good thing I love my readers! Next time, I think I'll just schedule a break instead, less stress that way! 

2. DIVE into my bible morning and night! I feel like the morning bible study sessions are awesome because it really puts me in the right mindset to handle the rest of the day. Although, at night, as soon as I lay my head down, all of the worries, thoughts, plans, and feelings have to run around in my mind, preventing me from falling right asleep! Hopefully, if I dedicate an hour to bible study right before bed, I can just concentrate on that and sleep like a baby! I've been doing this on most days, if not all. Sometimes I do get a bit lazy and just read the daily She Reads Truth devotional and meditate on it. But hey, I think it still counts! And if you haven't heard about them, please do yourself a favor and go check out the site! It's an amazing little community and so encouraging to study the Word. 





3. Start making lists! This week is to prep for the vacation. I need to make grocery lists of things we will need while we are at the lake, as well as packing lists so I don't forget anything! I am notorious for forgetting if it's not written down, so this is the only way everything will be taken care of. Sucks getting older! Done and done! Most of the grocery shopping is done minus the produce (I want it to be as fresh as possible.) Half the bags are packed, and/or sitting next to the luggage. Maybe if I throw everything I'll need in a big pile, the magical fairy will pack it for me the night before... or Ginny... 

 4. Comment! I am the worst blogger when it comes to this. To my fellow bloggers, I read your posts, I really do. And most of the time, I think the comment in my head and the move along BEFORE I actually type out the comment! I am terribly sorry about this! I promise to really focus and make sure to leave you comments of encouragement each and every time I stop by your blog! AND... I've been having all sorts of trouble with my Google + profile switching me to a no-reply blogger! I've converted back to the regular blogger profile, so hopefully this will work. But please, never hesitate to tell me when anything is wrong! Have y'all been feeling the love? You should! I've been pouring encouragement all over the blogosphere this week! I know how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into maintaining a space, so I want to show you just how much I appreciate YOU! Again, if I am a no reply blogger to you, please let me know so I can fix it again! 

And finally, 5. This is a big one, folks. I have been so inspired lately. More and more bloggers are just putting their faith and beliefs out there on blast. I love it! But, I have been so worried that if I post too much faith based posts, that I will loose readers, or offend someone. I am a people pleaser, so I tried to be very limited on my faith posts. I can say now, especially that I will be re-committing myself and my life to my savior, that there will be more and more faith posts on here. I know, almost for a fact, that I will loose readers. And that's okay with me. I won't hold it against you. It's not every one's cup of tea, and I am really not going to be upset about it. I just think that y'all come here to see what I'm up to, to read about me and my life, and this is a huge part of it already and will only continue to be even bigger part everyday. So, if this is your last time reading due to this, I thank you for putting up with me this long! :) I will be sad to see you go, but to each his own! I pretty much rocked this list! I've been brewing up more faith based posts and I can't wait to share them with you over the next couple of weeks! I think everyone starts a blog as one thing, but over time, it slowly morphs into something completely different. And that's okay, that's life! I hope all of you continue to read as my little corner of the web slowly becomes more me.

Can I just get a big yeehaw for knocking out all of my wishes?! Yeah! I hope everyone has completed their lists if not, at least a few chunks complete! 

This week, I decided I would not be giving myself goals or wishes. Basically, all I will be doing is more packing, getting ready, training Ginny to like her new Sleepy Pod car seat/harness! Have you checked those things out? Looks pretty intense to put on a dog, but if it will safe her life one day, I'm all for learning how to put that bad boy on her! 

What are your wishes for the week? Comment below! 

Weekly Wishes- The one with a harness and heavenly cupcakes

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Happy Friday y'all! I'm so happy you are here, checking out my little space today! This week has been great. God is really showing me what path I need to be traveling down! So, it's been a bit of rearranging things and prepping for this road, but folks, I am on the way!

Today, is Find Beauty Friday, so I link up with the talented Aimee from This Darling Day!

This Darling Day | Finding Beauty

I wanted to share this little gem with you. This is from the Dole Plantation garden on Oahu. The first year we went, it was beautiful with all of the native plants and flowers there. The last time we went, maybe 2 years later, sadly the gardens we not as impressive. I did manage ask an employee what gives, and they said because of personnel cutbacks, the grounds weren't getting the TLC they needed. Sadly, I have to say, if you are vacationing on the island, don't waste your money going into the gardens. Visiting the front gift shop is good enough. Along Hwy 99, or  Kamehameha Hwy heading to the North Shore, you will see the pineapple fields. Please, don't pull over and pick the pineapples, you will get caught!



Anyone have any big weekend plans?
Find Beauty Friday, The one with the Dole Aloha in it

4


Today starts day 8, in Vienna. After breakfast, we loaded on the bus heading for Venice! Like most long travel days, we had to make a stop to allow the coach driver to rest, and ended up in Ljubijana. This is what Expat Explore had to say about this stop, "Vienna to Venice - no less than 3 countries today! Take your last look at Austria as you head for Slovenia, and the the pint-size city of Ljubljana. A local guide will escort you on a walking tour of this fairytale city, pointing out the numerous bridges and brilliantly preserved baroque, gothic and medieval architecture."







Small city, this was only a small stop over. They were having their independence day, and so there were people all over, off of school and work. We even caught up with their mayor and he came up and said hi to us. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood here! We caught sights of Ljubljana Castle, established in the 12th century, hilltop fortification is part of Roman and Habsburg history.


We wound around the Ljubljana river and walked through Preseren Square. When it's not Winter, you will find little tables set up outside the cafe's and people enjoying the river and square! Walking around, they still had snow on the roof tops. We almost were squashed by this massive piece of packed snow falling off the roof! Good thing we were on the other side of the street! 
Once the walking tour was over, we were dismissed for an hour or two to go explore and have lunch. This lunch was on our own. So we walked around but couldn't decide on where we wanted to eat! At this point, we were a bit panicky, knowing we had to get to the bus soon, we decided on a crepe guy wiht a little stand in the square. I ordered a ham and cheese crepe. Wasn't that fantastic, but they don't really use seasoning! 
We were always given a time and place to be so we could hop back on the bus and not be late for the next stop... which was VENICE!!!!



We arrived in Venice later, I think even after dark. We had the same routine of dropping our things in our hotel room and heading out for a night walking tour.  Everyone was so excited to finally get to Italy and taste all of the delicious Italian food!  This is what Expat had to say about arriving in Venice, "ake in the stunning scenery as you head south, crossing the border into Italy. And then...Welcome to Venice! This unique city, straddles 118 islands, and known for its canals, gondolas, Venetian masks, piazzas, art, traditional glass and lace making. On arrival, your tour leader will escort you on an orientation walking tour of the city, so you can use your free time in the early evening to explore properly. Get your cameras ready for the world famous St Marks Square, Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge, and more! The whole of Venice is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which indicates the level historical significance this city carries. The evening is yours to enjoy authentic Italian delights, with hundreds of fantastic local restaurants and bars to choose from. After an espresso, explore Venice the traditional way - from the canals. Relax and glide on a gondola ride. If you are lucky, the gondolier may sing to you to make the trip even more special!"

Venice is beautiful and creepy all at the same time. Most of the residents have moved out of the city due to it basically sinking into the water. So you have this eerie sort of mood after dark. It's mainly filled with tourists or partiers wandering around the many canals and bridges.  I didn't manage to take any pictures of Venice the first night, but the next day I more than made up for it. 

Our night tour was also very confusing! I am dyslexic, so me and directions do not get along, not even a little bit. To have so many twists and turns, going up countless sets of stairs and back down them, was very confusing for me. Not to mention Venice doesn't smell all that great. For our included dinner, we wound around the streets and came upon a little pizza and gelato place. We were able to order a slice of pizza about as big as my face, and a drink. After that, we went to the left side of the shop and ordered a cup of gelato! IT was as delicious as everyone has said before. 

After, we arrived back at our hotel, and slept the night away. The next day was a free day for us. We were to be turned loose in Venice, and we had major plans! Stay tuned! 




Expat Explore Ultimate Europe Trip


Check out how I managed to bring everything in ONE PACK here! Yep, you heard me right. 38 days traveling through Europe and we each brought one back pack. It was such a great idea for many reasons. AND, this trip was during Winter! I could only imagine what I could bring in a warmer time!


European Tour, Day 8, Vienna to Ljubijana to Venice

3



Blog, website, online journal, whatever you choose to call your little space of the internet is up to you. The basic idea behind every blog is, you have something to say that you think the rest of the world, or maybe just a few friends, wants to hear.


Going into making this blog, I thought, who is even going to want to hear my caca?  Chances are, it will only be family and friends. As it turns out, it's some friends and zero family that reads this space! That's okay, because the ladies that I have met and bonded with through blogging makes it all worth while. We are a community, of sorts, and it can be an amazing venue to meet great friends.

The questions are, how much of blogging is a labor of love? Is it what you thought it would be?

It's been almost  a year of regular blogging for me, and I have to say, it's trying! I find that blog upkeep can take up your whole day if you allow it. I try to sit and write all posts for the week on Saturdays after cleaning up my home, and in between loads of laundry. Most of the time, I only manage to write out 2-3 days worth of content, but at least it's something!


The hardest part is the social aspect of it. Well, I shouldn't say hardest part, maybe the most time consuming part. Emailing back to people who comment, keeping sponsorships straight, following up on button swapping, reading your favorite blogs daily and making sure to leave some love on their page. It's not an easy task, this whole blogging world. The rewards of this community, however, you just can't put a price on that.

Recently, I have inspired a couple of ladies to make a blog. Although I have only blogged for a year, I did think of a few tips for them. I'll share it here as well. Here goes:

  • Picmonkey is your new BFF, use it to watermark every picture to help gain exposure. Especially when you load them onto Pinterest. Almost half of all views for this site comes from Pinterest. Learn to use it and picmonkey, and you'll be golden. 
  • Find other bloggers with similar interests, email them, comment, really get to know them. New friends are always fantastic. Remember, no matter how "big" a blog is, or how many views they have, they are human. Don't be shy to approach one and say, "Hey! I like your style!"
  • Set a writing schedule, and stick to it! Blogging will swallow your days and you can't live life and have content to write about if you're stuck at home writing all the time!
  • Stay true to you. Write how you think, how you'd talk to your friends over coffee. Please don't change or say things in a way you wouldn't normally in real life. The reason people read your blog is to get to know YOU, so be YOU.
  • Link-ups are great ways to meet new bloggers! And they are fun. Find some that you really like and participate!
  • GET A PLANNER! I know most folks will say they write things on their phones, or whatever, but a paper planner is so helpful for you to plan your posts. I use it to make sure I'm not posting too many DIY's too close to each other, or to go over it and make sure that I have content evenly spaced out. It's also a way to make sure you have photos taken, edited, and linked to the specific blog post. 
  • Which leads me to my next tip, TAKE PHOTOS OF EVERYTHING! Well, maybe not everything, but most things. I see something pretty, or especially if something inspires a blog post, I whip out my phone like Lightening McQueen and snap away! You never know when you need a photo of some pine trees to really drive home a point in a post!
Basically, just remember, blogs should be about your life, not your life revolving around a blog. 


  How much upkeep do you do? Leave some tips for the new bloggers!
How much blog upkeep do you do?

3





...I'd probably offer you tea as well. Because I love both, so maybe you do to? After making our hot beverages, we'd get comfy on the couches and also enjoy some fresh raspberry macarons I baked a couple days ago. We'd also laugh at the huge stuffed minion the Mr. won at the Rib Fest, it's living in front of my fireplace for the summer. :)

... We would chat about the weather, and how it's supposed to be summer, but we had a polar vortex week, last week, where it was cooler than normal. We would also discuss any location we would like to be in rather than "Chiberia" for the upcoming winter.

...Ginny would be up in your face trying to lick you square in the mouth. She would also keep nudging your hand with her nose until you pet her. No, you are not allowed to stop, according to Miss Spoiled Brat.

... I'd ask you how you were REALLY doing. Not the, "Oh, I'm fine" answer. I have been known to be a great listener from time to time and tend to be the one that everyone opens up to.

... I'd ask you if there is anything I could pray about for you. And we would probably discuss what bible study we were doing. I'd confess I'm not as diligent as I plan on being in my studies. In an ideal world, I'd have hours each morning to study and dive into the word, and hours at night, but it doesn't happen that way, at least not everyday. I would tell you that I am waiting on an acceptance letter from a Christian university where I plan on getting my Theology degree. I'd admit to you that I'm nervous because I haven't been to school in 14 years, and I'm hoping my study habits can resurface quickly!

...We would discuss jobs. I would ask how your job is going. You would ask me about mine. I would tell you that the blog keeps me busy, which is good. And that there is going to be a lot more recipes and healthy snacks that I have discovered. That may or may not interest you. I'd also say I'm sewing my fingers off to stock the Etsy shop! 

... We would probably put our coffee or tea in a to go cup and take Ginny out for a walk. You'd laugh at how she flips her lid over seeing a squirrel, and I'd tell you that God truly blessed me with a dog that is perfect for us and where we are in life. She's the bomb!


...We would discuss diet and exercise while walking.  Which is where I would tell you that my doctor has cracked down on me and put me on Lipitor due to my high cholesterol. I'd also tell you all about my "new life" with My Fitness Pal and changing my diet severely, and how I've already dropped a few pounds. Most likely, I would try my hardest to get you do participate with me so I can stay excited about this!

... The visit would be oh so short, and there would be future plans for coffee dates made.I'd ask you what can I pray about for you, and I'd tell you what I need prayers about.  Ginny wouldn't let you leave without some extra lovin', and you'd be on your way!

Today, I link up with the sweet Chantel from A Harvest of Blessing for the Jack of All Trades Link up. Just a place where you can come together to meet new bloggers and encourage one another! 
A Harvest of Blessing


And that's what would happen if you came over for coffee. So tell me, how are you really doing? Can I pray for you?


If you came over for coffee...

9

Happy Monday, folks! I know, I know... Monday's are never really happy, but hey, you are alive! That's always a good thing, right? Sheeeeeyeahhhh!


So today, as all Mondays, I link up with The Nectar Collective to bring you my weekly wishes. This is just a way to hold me accountable for things/goals I need/want to do this week. Sort of puts a time limit on your to do list!

The Nectar Collective

Also, I'm going to be threading in my instagram pics from last week. Might as well share those with you while you read!

Last week's wishes were:
1. Still working on taking more pictures to share with you guys! I haven't come up with a plan on a post for this yet. I would like to do the picture a day, but how to share it and on what days hasn't focused in my mind so far. I know there are other link parties to do this, but I don't know if I want to join them or what. We will see what I come up with next week! Didn't take many pictures or come up with a plan to share them! Boooooooo on me! I've decided to share any photo's I've instagrammed on here with you today! Why not finish out last week with the photos? Sounds like a plan! 

2. Haven't emailed my church yet about being baptized. No excuse, just haven't done it yet! Hopefully this week. Still haven't completed this one. I know, I know! What's my excuse? Don't have one!  Winner winner chicken dinner! I have emailed them. I haven't received a response as of today, but I know I will! I feel like I just need to make this gesture as a re-commitment to our Lord. My whole life, I know, in my mind that Jesus loves me, but I feel like that was auto-pilot. This is me, as an adult, choosing to follow the straight and narrow. My life has been through so many twists and turns, I know that I had to go through certain situations to bring me to where I am today. I get it. I'm not mad about it, but it's time to put all of that behind me, and all of the doubting what God's plans are for me, just everything behind me and start anew. Sounds like something awesome is about to happen, right?!!?!?!? 
3. Blog like a mad woman! We have a week vacation coming up in August, and I have a ton, well, maybe not a ton, more like 25 blog topics I've saved in my draft folder that I need to share with y'all or I'll explode! One is my new work space area and a easy peasy DIY on recovering chairs!  This is on-going until I leave for vacation. I'm happy to say I have one week blogged and scheduled! Baby steps, but it's getting there! The travel posts I have coming up about our European tour is what takes forever with all of the photo watermarking! It's worth it, though, so I'm gonna keep truckin' along! I think we are up to Day 10, but the best is yet to come! Italy was a great time! 

Yay for completing all 3! Woop!

This week's wishes are going to be easy,

1. Continue blogging and scheduling posts for the month. (but what blogger EVER feels like they are blogging enough, am I right?)


2. DIVE into my bible morning and night! I feel like the morning bible study sessions are awesome because it really puts me in the right mindset to handle the rest of the day. Although, at night, as soon as I lay my head down, all of the worries, thoughts, plans, and feelings have to run around in my mind, preventing me from falling right asleep! Hopefully, if I dedicate an hour to bible study right before bed, I can just concentrate on that and sleep like a baby!

3. Start making lists! This week is to prep for the vacation. I need to make grocery lists of things we will need while we are at the lake, as well as packing lists so I don't forget anything! I am notorious for forgetting if it's not written down, so this is the only way everything will be taken care of. Sucks getting older!


4. Comment! I am the worst blogger when it comes to this. To my fellow bloggers, I read your posts, I really do. And most of the time, I think the comment in my head and the move along BEFORE I actually type out the comment! I am terribly sorry about this! I promise to really focus and make sure to leave you comments of encouragement each and every time I stop by your blog! AND... I've been having all sorts of trouble with my Google + profile switching me to a no-reply blogger! I've converted back to the regular blogger profile, so hopefully this will work. But please, never hesitate to tell me when anything is wrong!



And finally, 5. This is a big one, folks. I have been so inspired lately. More and more bloggers are just putting their faith and beliefs out there on blast. I love it! But, I have been so worried that if I post too much faith based posts, that I will loose readers, or offend someone. I am a people pleaser, so I tried to be very limited on my faith posts. I can say now, especially that I will be re-committing myself and my life to my savior, that there will be more and more faith posts on here. I know, almost for a fact, that I will loose readers. And that's okay with me. I won't hold it against you. It's not every one's cup of tea, and I am really not going to be upset about it. I just think that y'all come here to see what I'm up to, to read about me and my life, and this is a huge part of it already and will only continue to be even bigger part everyday. So, if this is your last time reading due to this, I thank you for putting up with me this long! :) I will be sad to see you go, but to each his own!

WHEW! That was a bigger post than originally thought! Still, I'm glad I told you guys about my big plans coming up!


Did you check out my favorite post from last week about Bratislava to Vienna? See it here!  

How do you hold yourself accountable to complete weekly goals? I need all of your tips and thoughts! Comment below! 


Weekly Wishes, Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

1

Happy Aloha Friday! If you didn't notice already, I have beach on the brain! The Mr. and I have always loved the water, it could be a lake to beach to pools, we can't get enough! Mine water love came from living by Lake Lanier in Northern Georgia most of my childhood. We would often visit the ocean on summer trips, even if it was stopping somewhere on the Gulf coast for an hour to stretch our legs during the long trip from Georgia to Louisiana. The Mr.'s like a fish and swam competitively throughout high school. Actually, all of his siblings did as well! Then there were the 4 magical years living on Oahu, that pretty much cemented us as water/beach babies. So, if we are away from water for to long, we start getting a little antsy!

This could be why I chose to decorate our home with ocean theme in the middle of Illinois! And why, after months of  my mantle being this way, I still love it! I just knew that for Find Beauty Friday linkup with the amazing Aimee from This Darling Day, I had to share it with you again!



Anyone enjoy the water as much as we do? What's your favorite thing to when you can't get to the water? Comment below!
Take me to the sea!

7

Do you use sunscreen daily or only when you know you will be basking in golden rays? Do you wear sunglasses all the time? How about a big hat, do you wear one to keep out of the sun?

There are so many reasons and studies, proof that the sun is harmful to you, but yet, we all want that golden tan! I, too, am guilty of this.  My heritage is Cajun and Cherokee, I am supposed to be this glorious golden bronze like pretty much the rest of my family. Am I? Of course not! I am the pasty, sickly looking girl with lighter hair, lighter eyes, and freckles that burns when I'm outside for 5 minutes. This is so not fair!



When I moved to Hawaii, my brother and I had a contest to see who could tan better (darker). This was so dumb, I'll admit it here and now. He gets bronze in 5 minutes where my skin will look like a boiled crawfish (or lobster to some of you who have no idea what a crawfish is). But, he challenged me and I had to go through with it. I did add a stipulation that it was whoever was darker OR whoever develops skin cancer first.... covering all my bases here because I just knew it would happen in Hawaii.  This lasted for months, and I did manage to burn on top of burn and look like I had a nice tan for a while! I was over it a few months in because when your skin burns so much you can barely sleep, yeah, it's over. Check please!


Now, I try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. I've also noticed that girls who are able to tan well, always had a nice tan even in Winter. I know it's due to them going to the tanning beds religiously, but I still envied them... until now! These lovely ladies have tanned since they were teens. And while now we are entering our 30's, I see that they have wrinkles. Yes, wrinkles. I'm assuming it's from the sun, because I have very few, and they only really show when I laugh. I mean, maybe it's their genes, but it seems like every girl I know to have tanned throughout teens and 20s now look in their 40's. Coincidence? Probably not.

So that makes me determined even more to practice safe sun. I recently bought one of the big white southern belle floppy hats, but of course, "If it doesn't move, monogram it!" so  I did, with hot pink thread! And I pretty coral colored baseball cap, monogrammed of course. I also use sunscreen if I know I'll be out for longer than 30 minutes.  Now, in the effort of getting rid of as many chemicals as I can due to the fact I am on Lipitor (bad high cholesterol genes from my parents), I am omitting all of the sunscreens I've always used! This makes it hard because, from I've found, the natural ones don't really protect that well. Also, I've read things about using some essential oils like carrot oil to protect you from the sun. I have yet to try those, but I certainly will and let you know how it goes!


The other thing I have working against me is a Vitamin D deficiency. Yeah, you heard right. Not only do I have to load up on vitamin d, I should be out in the sun more! This is a mess, my friends. It's get skin cancer by going out in the sun to help the vitamin d deficiency, or use chemical ridden sunscreens and hurt my liver even more because I'm on Lipitor. It's just a giant mess! And no matter which way I go, something is going to be worse because of it. My only hope is that I find an essential oil blend that will protect me from getting burnt, while still letting in a little sun to help the deficiency. Sounds like a plan, right?

What about you, what are some of the things you do to protect yourself from the sun? Or, do you think a little sunshine never hurt anyone?


Do you practice safe sun?

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You just need a breather.


Some days...

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After leaving Bratislava, we trucked on to Vienna. We arrived later in the afternoon, and quickly checked into our hotel. This room was nice! I still can't remember the name of it, but the painting of the ladies and the larger bathroom was a blessing after the long day!  Throughout the whole tour, I believe there was only one accommodation that we didn't care for. And that was mainly because I found mold in the shower stall. 

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

This dinner was included in the tour, and I believe we went right around the corner to a dinner and had a traditional Austria meal, some sort of stew or goulash. Honestly, we can't really remember what exactly it was. It didn't stand out as delicious, but it was a meal!  Also, our friend Kate wrote down on her diet specifications that she was lactose sensitive, so we were served our food. Then, this lady (that wasn't so nice) came up to Kate and snatched her plate away saying, "No" really strongly! We had a giggle! She brought out some sort of substitute that was actually worse! For dessert, they served some sort of pancake type of thing that had a dollop of ice cream on top, and poor Kate received an apple on a saucer!  Don't worry we snick her a bite when the lady wasn't around.

After finishing up dinner, we went on a guided walking tour with our tour leader, so all sight seeing was at night. Nevertheless, the sights were amazing! Oftentimes on tours like this, when you arrive at dusk in a city, the tour leader will guide you on a night walking tour of the city because you will leave early the next morning to a new destination! This is what Expat Explore has to say about the Vienna stop, " After your Bratislavan ‘breather’, you are all set for the Austrian city of Vienna - boasting some of Europe’s most impressive architecture, and a cultural heritage steeped in glorious flamboyance and style. Home to Sigmund Freud, the Vienna boys choir, a clutch of the worlds most celebrated composers (...try Mozart, Beethoven & Brahms), the United Nations, OPEC and Weiner Scnitzel, the city centre has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. Take a glance at the famous Schonbrunn Palace as you approach Vienna, and once you have arrived, explore the centre on your guided walking tour of the city. Taking in the Golden Mile, Imperial Castle and St Stephen’s Cathedral, allow the history to wash over you and marvel at Vienna’s significance in modern and ancient history."
Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

 Vienna surprised us by being #2 on our list of favorite places. Our tour guide brought us down one of the major shopping streets called Mariahilfer Stra├če. My favorite was the Skwarovski Crystal just because of all the beautiful crystal on display! There also happened to be a place with the word "weiner" in it, and the Mr. made a funny face and giggle, which made the rest of our little pack giggle also! This became "The Weiner Face" and stuck around until the end of the tour! 



Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Continuing our night time stroll, we came upon St. Stephen's Cathedral, or Stephansdom. This place was truly magical. We all couldn't resist taking a peek inside! Forgive my camera settings, I tried really hard to keep up with the group AND take great nighttime photos!
Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack


They also had a Vienna Opera going on that night. HUGE production! You have probably watched something about the Kardashian girl getting tricked when she went this past year. It's a big to-do, and we were able to pass along side the building. No celebrity sightings, at least none that we knew, but it was still nice to watch the limos pull up and folks decked out to the 9's walk into the Opera house!

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack


Check out where Mozart studied and lived! The first two pictures are the little hall where he studied. They were having a small concert, so we had to quietly sneak by and take photos discretely. The second photo is where he lived during this time. The second level is all one flat. I believe he was married or newly married and his wife lived with him here.

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Just a couple of extra photos to show you how gorgeous this city really is

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

See all the shiny pretties in the window?

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack
 Gorgeous fountain!

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack

Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack


Expat Explore Europe Trip With one Backpack


Once our tour was over, we rushed back to our hotel and tried to get a quick shower and sleep. It's always a bit of an adjustment for me to fall asleep in a new place, but this day, I was extremely worn out from Bratislava and Vienna's walking tours that I fell asleep right away. Breakfasts are almost always included in the tour, so all you have to do is show up! it's mostly fruits, cheeses, some sort of salami type meats, maybe some eggs, plenty of coffee, tea, and juices. Depending on what you like, breakfasts are pretty filling. How Expat does their tours is this, you get up, get dressed, and packed. You bring your luggage down to the bus while the driver loads it for you. Then you go back into the hotel for the breakfast, and after everyone gets back into the bus. If you choose to sleep in and forgo breakfast, that's your choice, but it could be hours before we stopped to fuel up and you could purchase snacks! Also, if you were late getting on the bus, (we think most mornings were about 8am to be on the bus) then you had to get on the bus PA system and sing to the whole tour group! We only had a couple that were late :)

Expat Explore Ultimate Europe Trip

Check out how I managed to bring everything in ONE PACK here! Yep, you heard me right. 38 days traveling through Europe and we each brought one back pack. It was such a great idea for many reasons. AND, this trip was during Winter! I could only imagine what I could bring in a warmer time!

How about you- what's the least amount of luggage you've brought on a trip?


A Harvest of Blessing
European Tour, Day 7, Bratislava to Vienna

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