Florence Week One.

We got to Italy last Wednesday and it’s been a whirlwind since. Emily and I flew into Rome, took a bus to the train station, took a train to Florence, walked 60+ pounds of luggage up and down windy streets and FINALLY got our housing assignment. We met up with Delaney and Eileen and got to our apartment that night. It is small but has wonderful perks including a cozy patio off the bedrooms, mosquito screens, and a toaster? Everyday I get a little more comfortable here.

Florence is extremely confusing to me, since every street looks the same BUT today I wandered around mapless and found my way home, so progress is on its way?

We have pretty much spent our days exploring the city. Highlights include::

-Trip to the central market (basically a giant indoor farmers market) for fresh fruit, biscottis, and olive oil.

-More than one trip for gelato. One shop has an employee with the most ridiculous rat tail in all the world. We like to get gelato and sit on the steps of the Duomo (you can see it from our apartment…it’s about a 5 minute walk!) and people watch. People are really weird and watching them and making up back stories for their lives is one of my all time favorite hobbies.

-Morning run around Florence. The city is most beautiful in the morning I think. It was cool outside, so quiet, and really peaceful.

-Quiet times out on our patio.

-Dinner with friends out on the patio. Mostly anything on the patio is great.

-Mass at San Miniato al Monte and enjoying the incredible view afterwards.

-Roommate dinners.

-Skype dates with Isaac.

I’m not sure if Florence is exactly what I pictured, but I’ve loved a lot of moments since being here. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned so far has been trusting in the provision and protection of the Lord. I think it will be a daily decision to choose trust and peace, and it’s good. Once again, I feel like a year has passed in a week. It’s wild to think it hasn’t even been a week in Italy yet. So excited to make Florence my home for a while and see all that unfolds this semester.


Da Duomo. It really has not gotten any less beautiful. Every time I see it, I appreciate it so much.

Da Duomo. It really has not gotten any less beautiful. Every time I see it, I appreciate it so much.


Overwhelming cheese options at the market. Beautiful, I knowwww.


My front door. There are about 6 deadbolts to get into my actual apartment. Don’t know if that’s comforting or unsettling. Both I think.


Two of my cute roommates.


Dinner party set up.


Our view after church. Breathtaking. I needed that hike to see the beauty in Florence. When you get away from the tourist sections, the town is gorgeous and peaceful and at its best.


I get to live with the greatest girls. This is San Miniato al Monte. It sits on top of the hill with the view above.


America’s Next Top Model. I think I just got eliminated.


Even the Lorenzo de Medici cafeteria is beautiful.


Dinner party with friends 🙂


Making the trek back home.


The last few pictures were stolen from Emily and Eileen. Check out all my roommates blogs/pictures because they are all so beautiful and hip and real in, okay.






Bridal Shower.

People say you can’t have more than one “best friend” because only one person can be the best. These people don’t know Kathryn and Tiffany. I have been blessed with not one, but TWO best friends, and we have been inseparable ever since pre-school. Today, one of these girls is engaged and marrying her new best friend in one month! Tiffany and I are so excited for Kathryn and got to throw her a bridal shower a few weeks ago to say “hey. we love you and are excited that you are getting married. okay?”


Tiffany is the greatest to plan anything with. She is a go-getta at heart and has a mother with a secret stash of ONE MILLION mason jars.

see? mason. jars. everywhere.

see? mason. jars. everywhere.

We are newbies at this party-planning thang, but we adored every step of it. The menu planning, the baking, the setting up, everything.

The menu had the theme of Kathryn. We wanted some of her favorite things + a way to use up all those mason jars.

We had peach tea and lemonade for drinks. The striped straws were from a local craft store.



We had chicken salad, bruschetta, a “chip bar”, and DESSERT. You can’t gather 20+ women in one area and not offer multiple dessert options. We didn’t need to be party planners to know this.


Chicken salad.

Strawberry Nutella Tarts. (recipe below)

Strawberry Nutella Tarts. (recipe below)

Sugar cookies + homemade frosting.

Sugar cookies + homemade frosting.

Strawberry Shortcake Shooters.

Strawberry Shortcake Shooters.


Table set up at Moore Memorial park.

Everyone pinned date ideas for Kath as they left and picked up their “favor.” Attached was a prayer card. I saw this idea at a bridal shower I attended a few months ago, and I thought it was the most beautiful way to encourage a couple long after their wedding day.



Cookie sandwiches + prayer card.

Kathryn has been such a blessing in my life. 20 years of friendship with this girl is something I’m very thankful for. She will be a great wife, and it was so fun celebrating her new marriage with these beautiful women.


*strawberry nutella tarts recipe here

*pictures were taken by Andrew Rizer. No way I could ever make those straws look so artsy.

Thankful for a new day.

I am a sinner. If it’s not one thing it’s another.
Caught up in words, tangled in lies.
But You are a Savior, and you take brokenness aside.
And you make it beautiful. Beautiful.
-All sons & daughters


Working on believing this more.

1 4 3 2


“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
-Isaiah 43:18-19



Today is TUE-Cool!

If this Tuesday morning street fought my Monday morning yesterday, it would win hands down! Then it would go take a shower in glory. Or maybe chocolate pudding because today is National Chocolate Pudding Day. It was a good morning and here are some reasons why::

1. This guy exists. His photographs have found some beautiful landscapes and interiors and cute kids. Here are some of the ones I really like::

2. Chris Burch is the race director for the Des Moines Marathon. He is a friendly guy who let me volunteer in place of a steep ol’ race fee last year. And today he e-mailed me again offering the same deal! What a pal! I guess this means I may be running the 26.2 again in October. But we’ll see.

3. I listened to some free music here. And discovered the newest song from Purity Ring. Hook me up with the freakin album already…am I right or am I right?

4. I was again impressed by how creative my friends are. They are too cool. Whether its working wonders with a camera, guitar, basketball, or pen, I’m continuously amazed by the gifts I get to see everyday.  My friend Andrew made this video here and I love it. Please watch and become jealous of his life for a moment. And then stop, because no one like a jelly belly.

5. THEN I got to say TUE-cool in this post! Not very often do I get to be so funny, because it’s only Tuesday once a week!

I hope your day has been nothin but good.

The truth about bikes.

First, a joke:

Q. Do you know what is the hardest part of learning to ride a bike?


A. The pavement!!!

After you’re done laughing, note that this is actually a lie. The hardest part about learning to ride a (new) bike is when your pedal flies off two miles into the ride and you are forced to bike home in the dark with one pedal and a sore right quad. 

Goal for this week: Get a working bike again. Also, ride it twice in one day because I’m into recycling! And maybe, just maybe, run into Clark Gable while pedaling. I really like to aim for the stars. 

What are your goals for this week? If you don’t have one, your goal should be to make a goal for this week.

You go, girl.

Here’s to YOU, Sophie Duran. Your Undiscovered Wonders of the World collection is absolutely beautiful. When I look through the collection, I feel that the art actually has some soul or personality. As if one print may be asking another one out for drinks tomorrow night. I wish there were more for my eyes to see!

I regretfully have one bone to pick, however. Your tumblr is called “Colour me Sophie.” Really? I mean, sure, Sophie is one adorable name. But do you really want to be ADORABLE? You are no puppy. No cutsie toddler with smushed blueberries all over your face. You are an artist. A conceptual artist. And a woman, for goodness sake. Now, I know I just sprung this on you, so here are some ideas I’m cooking up::

1. “Colour me Vivienne” — Who cares if that’s not your name. No one will know until they look at your bio, which buys you a solid 2-7 minutes. Even then, they will assume Vivienne is a dead grandmother or some evocative woman that they don’t even KNOW about, because, heck, they just aren’t as cool as Sophie Duran!

2. “Colour me Badd” –You get to put a British spin on the guys who wanna sex “you” up, but you can still skedaddle out the lawsuit door, because your tumbie name has a “u” in it. Best of both worlds, you sneaky Netherland person, you.

3. “Colour me Gouda” –Gouda is your hometown, but most people will initially think of cheese. Again, they will probably assume the name is one of layers, symbolizing an intricate web of design ventures and personal influences that they are too inept to understand. But it doesn’t! And it won’t make any sense at all and it will be funny. (For me, and maybe for you too.)

Open to other suggestions, Sophie. We’ll figure it out.




But really I’m over it, because I love these prints like woah.

Be content.

COOL! I bet he's content he's in this picture. I'm content I'm looking at it.

We can all grow in contentment.

“One who is content with what he has and who accepts the fact that he inevitably misses very much in life is far better off than the one who has much more but who worries about all he might be missing. For we can not make the best of what we are if our hearts are always divided between what we are and what we are not. We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony. Let us therefore learn to pass from one imperfect activity to another without worrying too much about what we are missing.”

-Thomas Merton.

^”A great old Catholic guy” according to Josh Miller.

Thanks Matt for the photos.

HAPPY MONDAY EVERYONE. Make it a funday.