Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mykanos, Greece

I am way behind on my blogging, but I have to catch up with some pictures from our Newlywed Adventures in 2009 before I can even get to 2010! Let's start with Mykanos...

What can I say? Greece is breathtaking, the food, the views, the culture, the perfectly sculpted blue and white domed churches, it was all deliciously wonderful and a perfect place for romance. The afternoons in Mykanos are perfect for strolling around the little shops and lingering at the cozy outdoor cafes. While at one of these adorable cafes in Mykanos we met another couple from the US who had been living overseas for 15 years in Ireland. They brought their kids over while they were in high school and started a family business. The couple now spends their free time traveling throughout Europe living the laid back European life. While I am not so sure I can slow down enough to become accustomed to the European lifestyle I commend them for their risk taking and dream chasing! I just love meeting people who thrive on adventure and actually live it out. Kudos to them!

These pelicans are filled to the brim with personality and are the island's own mascot.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Day on the Amalfi Coast

Ever since I saw the movie Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane in 2003, I have wanted so badly to visit this particular region of Italy and take the beautiful drive across the famous Amalfi Coast. A little over a month ago, I finally got the chance. It was just as picturesque as I have always imagined. If only the pictures did it justice! We had the pleasure of enjoying this perfect day with new friends that we met while on the cruise ship. Reese & Elizabeth, flight attendants from Phoenix, AR as well as Nana & Renee, both optometrists from Ormond Beach, FL gave us the pleasure of joining us for a day tour of this postcard perfect destination. We had such a great time getting to know these guys while on our trip. It is such a treat to have fun traveling buddies while away from home.

We started our day out in Naples, Italy and spent the afternoon driving along the Amalfi Coast line as we experienced all the wonderful things of that region of Italy. We had a very experienced driver who amazingly squeezed us in and out of the tiny, windy roads. He was an excellent tour guide of whom I would love to recommend to anyone visiting the area. If ever in Italy, you must stop by and enjoy this little piece of heaven. The food was delicious, the shops perfectly quaint and the sights were breathtaking. Here is just a small taste of our day...

Love Locks
Couples write their names on a lock and fasten in on this fence in symbolism of their love.
In the background is Mount Vesuvius which destroyed Pompeii when it errupted in 79 AD.

Driving along the Amalfi Coast from Naples, Italy

Just taking it all in...

Renee, Nana, Reese, Elizabeth, Julie, Barron

My love! Overlooking Positano, where I had wanted to visit for years!!!

Reese & Elizabeth Alexander

During the demonstration inside a factory that makes gorgeous inlaid wood music boxes & all kinds of furniture

An English Setter outside the factory

Overlooking Positano

Church in Positano

The Amalfi Square

Sitting at a cafe in the Amalfi Square

Shops of Amalfi

A sample of the magnificent ceramics on the Amalfi coastline

Pizza in Positano

Delicious Gnocchi

The REAL Caprese Salad

Reese & Elizabeth celebrating 10 years of marriage with a "Drunken Donut" topped with strawberries and drenched in Limoncello.

All in amazement after our fabulous meal in Positano. Yum! Yum!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Right Under Your Nose

We just returned from a long, wonderful trip across the Mediterranean and I promise that pictures are coming soon, but today I want to write about something God spoke to me about this morning. For now though, here is my favorite picture from a winery in Santorini, Greece. Oh how much fun the Mediterranean was, but oh how I love to be back at home with my family.

This morning I was out walking the dogs on this beautiful, crisp fall day. As I was on my way back home I noticed that an outside road had been exposed through the brush where all the trees have already lost their leaves. It was the main road outside our house, peaking in to the inner walls of our neighborhood, a beautiful fence lined path. Then it dawned on me, something so simple, yet so profound. A thought that through the hard times in life, we try to lean on and during the good times, we often forget. Over the vast tree filled, grassy meadow, was a path in which I have traveled to a fro, for many years, from the age of sixteen when my parents first moved out this way, until now where Barron and I are turning a house into a home. When I first drove along this street it was at an age in which a girl starts to truly wonder what God has in store for her life. On rainy days and sunny days I drove that road to the grocery store and back, maybe to the mall or even on a date. Little did I know, all the worrying I did, or wondering, God knew all along, that one day eleven years later, I would be looking out from the other side of that road, from my new home, with my loving husband, two little dogs and warm thoughts of our future family together here in this place. Right there, admist every trying time, every tear, every laugh and every stepping stone, this was God's plan for me. He always knows and yet so often we resist to trust His plan. I once heard a quote that has stuck with me over the years.

"When you can't see His hand. Trust His Heart ."

I'm not sure why God spoke to me about this today. It is such a simple truth that we hear all of the time, but in this moment it really hit home. Maybe someone needed to hear this today. Maybe He is preparing me to trust Him about something in my life or maybe it is just a simple reminder that He is in control. He has a plan and no matter what He will always take care of our needs. He will never give us a task that we cannot handle and at the end of the day we should thank Him for what He is doing in our lives because you never know, His plan could be Right Under Your Nose.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Prayers for Laura Elleby - In Remembrance of Thomas M. Niebauer

"Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled"

Laura & her father, June 2009

Thomas M. Niebauer, a child of God, a father of two children, a husband and a dear friend to many, will be deeply missed by his family and loved ones. Barron's brother's wife, Laura Elleby, lost her father in a tragic motorcycle accident this past Friday evening. Funeral services were held today in West Palm Beach, Florida. From this day on and the months to follow, more than ever, Laura, her husband Ryan and the entire Niebauer family needs your prayers. Please pray for their strength and for God to give them peace in their hearts.

This is a painstaking, yet much needed reminder to each of our hearts that we are merely promised today and need not worry about tomorrow. God has placed us on this earth with a plan in mind, a plan in which we are not aware of and it is only He who knows when our life here on earth will be completed. We need to remember to live for today and enjoy every moment of the time we are able to share with our loved ones. It may sound cliche, but it is something we must continually remind ourselves to live by daily.

This Sunday I heard the most eloquent sermon by guest Pastor Darnell. He spoke of the beautiful place that Jesus has gone to prepare for us. At the time, my heart was very heavy from dwelling all weekend on the sadness of Laura's tragic loss and it was a breathe of fresh air to hear once again about the place that has been prepared for us and the golden streets Laura's father is walking down this very day. While it is difficult when surrounded by an earthly society, to comprehend God's plan for our eternal life with Him in heaven, we must continue to immerse our minds in the truth of God's word. Without the word of God, we cannot focus on what is truly important during our precious time here on earth. 

Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." John 14:1-4

Being that Laura's father, was a child of God and follower of Jesus Christ, he has now met his heavenly Father and been greeted as a good and faithful servant. Through this man's life, I am certain God has done many works, some of which are still in motion as his legacy lives on.

"What the heart has once known, it shall never forget".

~Author unknown

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thank You God For Your Creations

Cappuccino taking a curious sniff of the crisp morning air

The flood of these recent days has made me think a lot about God's powerful existence. God shows himself to people in thousands of different ways. He touches, molds, prepares, strengthens and opens hearts every day throughout the world. From miracles to destruction to the sun shining on us once again each and every morning, God continues to show himself to His people.

But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal king. . . . But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with rain and brings out the wind from his store-houses. Jeremiah 10:10b,12,13. NIV

Delicious Heirloom Tomatoes & Mums in my homemade version of a "topsy turvy"

Dwarf Lemon Tree

One of the ways God speaks to my heart the most is through the beauty of His creations, the majesty and intricacy of the nature he has placed around us. Barron and I were blessed with the ownership of our very first home this past spring and one of the greatest joys I have experienced from this new home is the beauty of the outdoor space around us. Many hours this past summer was spent in the backyard and on the back porch, digging, potting, spreading, trimming, clipping and watering. The best part of it all is sitting back and enjoying the fruits of our labor. This past season we have been able to enjoy every bit of fresh basil, rosemary, mint, cilantro and juicy tomatoes. Right now we are patiently waiting on our lemons, jalapeno peppers and red bell peppers to ripen. Yum! Yum!

You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
How joyful and prosperous you will be! Psalms 128:2

White table grapes for my Barron. He loves them! We are hoping they will produce fruit by next year.

One of Barron's patients so graciously brought us clippings from her garden at the beginning of the summer. When I finally found time to plant them they were malnourished and looked like half-dead droopy little specimens. These tiny clippings have now grown into beautiful FIVE FEET TALL Cleome flowers and an EIGHT FOOT TALL Butterfly Vine!! Little did we know what a special gift these little sprigs of life would turn out to be. We think of Barron's thoughtful patient every time we step into the backyard and will every summer as our flowers come back to life. We'd love to share our treasured perennials with other perennial lovers. Let us know and we'll swap with you next year! I love to have flowers from different people throughout our yard, it makes a garden truly special.

If you look close you can see a glimpse of our goldfish named Ginger. Our 2 little koi, Butterfinger and Spike are enjoying their favorite pastime, which is playing hide and seek below the water hycienths and lotus leaves.

Our Humble Little Water Garden

Barron surprised me one weekend this summer with tickets to the Atlanta Tour of Koi Ponds. Following the tour we took a hold of our inspiration and built a small water garden in our own backyard. We made probably fifteen more trips to Home Depot than expected, dropped numerous heavy stone blocks on our fingers and toes, as well as tested the ties of our marital bond, but WE DID IT! In the future, we want to build a really big pond, but for now we are happy with our petite little pond with the relaxing sounds of its gurgling fountain. It is the perfect size for our little fishies, Ginger, the goldfish, and Butterfinger and Spike, our baby koi.

Everyday I thank God for His beautiful creations. It is amazing what He has blessed us with in the world around us. Even on a bad day I can look at His glory in the vibrant color of a flower or in the warmth of the sunshine and realize, "WOW!" what an awesome and powerful God we have.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20 NIV

Surrounded by the splendor of the outdoors is one of my most prized possessions, my late grandmother's wrought iron table, filled with irreplaceable memories of true love and homemade biscuits.

Our babies, Bruiser and Cappuccino love to sit on the couch in our keeping room and watch us gardening outside. It's so cute! This is my favorite place to sit in the mornings, to drink coffee and enjoy quiet moments while indulging in beautiful glimpses of the outdoors.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New York, New York

Our romantic date night at Apiary

Devouring Melissa's Mini Cupcakes
Hallway of the old cathedral where Catherine & Jon live

The last week in August, Barron and I spent some time in NYC and a few days in New Jersey for a wedding. One of Barron's close friends from med school was getting married and we decided to make a vacation out of it. We were very lucky that Barron was extremely busy at his practice all summer and I myself tied up working weddings for my part-time wedding planning job. Therefore, other than a 3 day weekend in Charleston to visit Barron's family this was really the first trip of the summer for us.

We started off in Jersey for the wedding. Long story short, being uneducated about the area, we took a $60, hour long cab ride from the hotel to the church. While stranded by ourselves waiting 30 minutes for a new cab and another $60 cab fare, Jessica (the BRIDE) sweet as can be, saw us sitting alone after everyone had left (including the wedding party) and offered us a ride with her videographer. We were so very thankful! He was HILARIOUS!!! He was typical of what us Southerners imagine of Jersey men. Complete Danny Devito look alike, black slicked back hair with his shirt unbuttoned to expose a little hair and his collection of gold necklaces to match all 7 of the gold rings on his fingers. He was so proud to tell us over and over and over again that he was "best" friends with Deanna Pappas (previous bachelorette) from "Neman," GA he called it. He excitedly flashed us his autographed prints and live web chat photos of her he had downloaded from the Internet and uploaded onto his i-phone. Words cannot describe the humor of our 40 minute ride to the reception, but I can top it off by adding that we listened to him sing Kenny Chesney songs in his Jersey accent the whole way. It was Priceless.
The Getaway Car

The wedding reception was beautiful!!!! It was held at Addison Park which was a gorgeous venue. Being a wedding planner I wish this place was in Atlanta so that I could recommend it to my brides. Barron and I took a few pictures of ourselves in the lobby just to capture it all. The band was fabulous and the five course seated dinner was superb. This was definitely a wedding to remember. Jessica if you're reading this I give you 5 stars!

Lobby of Addison Park

Following our stay in Jersey, we headed to meet up with a friend of mine who I haven't seen since 7th grade. What an experience! Catherine and I were best friends in 4th-5th grade and had so much fun in the gifted program together doing crazy projects and visiting Cumberland Island. Since then, we have no history except for a run-in at the county wide Orchestra competition in 7th grade! Now, 15 years later she has 2 beautiful children and lives right near Union Square in an old renovated church that takes you back in time from the moment you walk in the door. The picturesque cathedral is located in the first suburb of New York and has ornate stained glass windows galore that tell stories from centuries ago. It was an amazing place to stay. She and Jon were so hospitable and we considered ourselves very lucky guests. We loved catching up and spending time with the children. I got to ask Catherine a million baby questions since I've learned very little since years babysitting back in college. I have a lot to learn before Barron and I start a family of our own one day!
Catherine & her beautiful children, Grey & Scarlet

While in New York we decided to spend our time strolling streets, shopping, and dining out. What better place to do that in besides New York? Catherine and Jon recommended some great places to eat of which I'd love to pass on to anyone who likes to visit New York. The first is not a restaurant, it is a cupcake bakery that sells mini cupcakes out of a tiny window on the side of the street in SoHo. Melissa's Cupcakes were DIVINE! Even the website will make your mouth drool. http://www.bakedbymelissa.com/ Barron found the "Best French Toast in the World" at NoHo Star. http://www.nohostar.com/ We had a romantic date night at a sexy, modern restaurant called Apiary, http://www.apiarynyc.com/ And truly a night to remember was spent with Barron's Uncle at this adorable Moroccan restaurant called Sintir, http://www.sintir.com. We absolutely loved our experience at Sintir. We dined outside in a courtyard underneath a tent seated on antique Moroccan carved benches. Barron's Uncle Steve lives in the upper East Side and it was so nice to be able to get together with him while in New York. Traveling the world is his passion and he is always filled with great stories of his trips. We fell in love with the addictive Moroccan Mint Tea and melt in your mouth Lamb Shanks. The night was unforgettable.

Before we got on the plane to head home, Barron and I took a walk through Times Square so we could take some pictures since it was our first trip to New York together. We got to sneak a peek at the Naked Cowboy who is currently running for Mayor. I was delightfully surprised to see all the beautiful new pedestrian areas the city has created in Times Square. What used to be busy streets is now walkways filled with a plethora of potted plants and outdoor seating. It was a perfect way to end the trip before we headed home. Goodbye New York, Hello Atlanta!!! We love the city, but at the end of the day, it is always nice to come back home!

Barron loves Times Square!

Admiring all the new pedestrian areas in New York

The Naked Cowboy