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On Labor Day weekend, Matt and I traveled back home to Louisville, Kentucky for my older brother Tony’s wedding to the ever-wonderful Anastasia.  Weddings are always so much fun and we love seeing all the family and friends that come into town to celebrate a new family.

Wedding day started off bright and early with hair appointments!

Her dress was absolutely beautiful!

My sisters, Claire and Natalie, showing off the flower girl flower bundles.

Here are Anastasia’s shoes. Now, this is a good story. So, their wedding happened to be on the same day as the big UofL/UK football game and oddly enough, most of her family members are big Kentucky fans and our family roots for Louisville. She had shoes dyed blue for her “something blue”, but since UK’s colors are blue and white and she is a big UofL fan, she had one of her friends draw this on the bottom of the shoes to show a little Cardinal pride.

Mona getting all dolled up!

Now, we depart from my pictures and into some photos that I borrowed from Facebook. Since I was in the wedding, I didn’t have a chance to take any pictures during the wedding or the reception.

The wedding ceremony was at Our Lady of Lourdes in Louisville.

Here’s the entire wedding party. It was a big group!

Now, for those of you who don’t know, I have two sisters and four brothers ranging in age from 26 to 6. And we were all in the wedding. My poor mother.

But, it turned out to be a beautiful day. The weather was perfect and everything fell into place.

The reception was at the Starks building in downtown Louisville on the atrium floor. It was a courtyard converted into an indoor room, so we were surrounded by buildings and the ceiling was glass which meant lots of natural light.

The awkward sweet tradition of tangling arms while drinking champagne.

To satisfy the family members who gave up their tickets to the game, Tony and Anastasia had the game on in the corner. Unfortunately, the Cards lost the game. But, hey, at least we scored!

It was a beautiful day and we are so blessed to have Anastasia as a sister! Congrats Tony and Anastasia!

Wedding and Reception photos taken from here and here.
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Well, I just don’t have time to put up the first dining room post today, so I thought I would let you have a look see at the European Excursion that Matt and I took a few years ago.

We started in New York, visiting some of our dear friends, Greg and Lynn, who were living in Long Island at the time.

We hit all the New York stops: a show on Broadway, Starbucks, Central Park, the Apple Store. Good times. Then we caught a flight to Athens!

That picture is of an olive tree and the Acropolis above it. Did you know that olive trees can live basically forever? There are olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane from the time of Jesus! Athens was pretty cool and everyone was super nice to us obvious American travelers.

We then boarded a cruise ship to take a tour of the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.  First stop, Cairo by way of the port in Alexandria.

Besides being massive, the pyramids are pretty much what you would expect. It was a little strange to see cars just parked all around them with the occasional camel walking by.

Next up, the Holy Land. We visited Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, and these places:

The Holy Land was amazing, but we were not able to spend nearly enough time there. Hopefully we’ll be able to go back sometime!

After Israel, we hit up a few more stops in Greece including Rhodes and Santorini and Ephesus, Turkey. By the way, Greece was by far the most beautiful country we visited, Santorini in particular.

St. Paul’s Bay (Rhodes)

Santorini

After the beautiful country of Greece, we stopped at the not so pretty country of Tunisia, in Africa. If you’ve never heard of the country, do not be alarmed, neither had we. Apparently their claim to fame is having been the location where George Lucas decided to film Tatooine. We also saw these spices at an open market that was otherwise a bit scary.

We learned later that there is terrorist activity in Tunisia. We still can’t figure out why the cruise ship decided to have Gabes, Tunisia as a cruise stop.

Anyway, our next stop was Malta. A tiny tiny country south of Italy, Malta was so refreshing after being in Tunisia!

This is part of their port.  It was beautiful! Did you know that Malta is the most Catholic country in the world? They are 98% Catholic.

On our way to Rome, we floated past the active volcano Stromboli, near Sicily:

After the cruise ended, we stayed in Rome for a week. I think that we would have stayed in Italy for a month if we could have.  The center of our culture and religion is in Rome, the food is divine, and we were surrounded by so much culture that one week was just not enough time to take it all in.

Here’s St. Peter’s Square from the top of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Colosseum:

And what trip to Rome is complete without hanging out with the Pope?

After Rome, we headed back home to Louisville, Kentucky for a family visit, just in time for Halloween with my youngest brothers and sisters.

This trip home also marked Matt’s first ever solo pumpkin carving experience.

We were disappointed proud of him.

Overall it was a fantastic trip!

Next up, Dining Room, Take 1!

(name that TV show.  Hint: It’s where the main character’s parents live.)

Last weekend Matt and I took a delayed anniversary trip to Boca Raton, Florida. For those of you who don’t know where that it is, it is a hop and a skip above Miami on the east coast of Florida, about 2 1/2 hours south of where we live in Merritt Island.  It was a nice and easy drive, straight down I-95.

Now, just to give you heads up, I planned this completely trip. Matt just kinda nodded his head and let me research the area, find places to eat, a place to stay, and stuff to do around town. Which is a long way of saying that we stayed at the Boca Raton Resort, possibly the fanciest place I’ll ever stay, ever.  Here’s what it looks like as you pull up.

If you’re thinking, “Holy schnike!”, you’re not alone. Actually, those were the exact words that left our mouths when we saw this place. Let me rephrase that, those were the words that left our low class, uncultured, gum chewing, Kentuckian-in-Florida mouths.  We were not quite prepared for the level of wealth that we would catch a glimpse of over the next few days.  But, back to the story. We pulled up to the front to check in and there are bell hops and valets waiting. Crap. We I started freaking out about who to tip and how much do we tip and do I have cash and oh no I can’t get to my cash fast enough without looking dumb.

We were finally checked in and on our way to the Bungalow portion of the resort (we didn’t tip anyone!).  I chose the Bungalows because they got better reviews that the other portions of the resort that we could afford. Plus, they just sounded cool.

Our room looked like your typical hotel room. The only downside to the room was that the cable was limited and did not include the Food Network or HGTV. Since we don’t have cable at home, hotel room cable is always a treat because of these channels. Not so much this time.

We settled in to the room and after realizing I would not get my HGTV fix, we decided to check out the rest of the resort. So we hopped in the car and drove back up to the front only to discover that there was no parking near the main building. None. Zilch. So, back to the Bungalows we went. On the way, we passed a Boca Raton Resort Shuttle. And then another.  Ooooohhhhh. You’re supposed to take the shuttles around!  As it turns out, the shuttles come pretty quickly. The longest we had to wait was about 5 minutes.

Our main goal of heading to the main building was to go to a dessert place called Serendipity. Matt had seen some people walking around with ice cream when we checked in and couldn’t get it out of his head.  We arrived at the main building only to discover that it was HUGE and swarming with people dressed in upscale evening attire. And before you ask, yes, we were wearing our finest shorts and flip flops. Matt had on a baseball hat. If you know Matt, he is extremely laid back and I am…not.  I was begging him to let me run back to the front desk to ask for directions to this dessert place while simultaneously trying to avoid eye contact with passersby.  He was content strolling around, peeking into different shops and restaurants, and telling me to chill out.

When we finally found Serendipity, I had worked myself into a fit. But, sharing this helped to calm me down:

That, ladies and gents, is a Peanut Butter Truffle Frozen Hot Chocolate. Yum.

This was the ceiling in Serendipity. Super cool.

On the way back to the shuttle stop, Matt made a friend. It’s called, “Man with Monkey on Head”. Just kidding…I hope.

On Saturday morning, we got up and went to breakfast at this place called Saquella Cafe. It is supposed to be a slice of Italy in Boca Raton. It was pretty good, but I’m not sure how closely it resembled Italy.

Next on the agenda, the beach.  While the beach wasn’t high on my list of things to do because we live so close to the beach, we wanted to check out the Beach Club part of the resort.  What we saw when we walked out on the balcony of the beach club is the closest I’ve ever felt to being in a movie. It was spectacular.

We walked down to the beach and laid out for a bit. We did complete the experience by ordering Strawberry Daiquiris and drinking them on the beach. That’s the life.

After lounging with some of the wealthiest people I’ve ever seen, trying to figure out what the heck they do for a living, we headed back to the main resort area. We wanted to check out the place during the day.  And, yes, we changed out of our beach attire.

This was my favorite room at the resort. It was the “family area”. They had a bunch of games, TVs, and a couple of computers. And it was attached to the ice cream place.

I love love love the colors in here. And check out that chandelier!  And nothing says “family” like some giant fish on the walls.

Here’s a shot from the outside. It’s also a “Where’s Waldo” type picture for Matt. Can you see him?

For dinner that night we headed out to an upscale shopping/dining area of town called Mizner Park. We decided to eat at an Irish Pub called The Dubliner. It was super good. We sat outside because it was unusually breezy and not too humid. This also gave us a prime location to car/people watch. Matt was pretty impressed when this was valet parked in front of us:

For all you non-car people (like me!), it’s a Porsche.  We also saw a couple of Bentley’s drive past. Crazy. We also had a long conversation about how weird it would be to have your trunk in the front and the engine in the back.

On Sunday, we went to Mass at St. Joan of Arc’s and had breakfast at the same place we did on Saturday. After checking out of the resort, we went to the other side of Boca Raton for a little shopping and lunch. This, my friends, is where I was introduced to Home Goods. I read a bunch of home decor blogs and everyone raves about Home Goods, but the closest one is about an hour away from us. When we drove past, I knew I had to go. Matt pulled up and told me he was going to wait in the car. After I assured him that he would probably die from heat stroke if he stayed in the car that long, he sighed and got out of the car. He was pretty much convinced that this was going to be the worst hour of his life, right up there with going into Hobby Lobby. But, he actually didn’t have that bad of a time. We are desperate for some artwork in our house, so we had a great time picking out a beautiful painting of an Italian village. Unfortunately, it did not fit in our car, but we still have a good time.

We finished up the day with lunch at Jimmy the Greek’s (delicious and not related to the sportscaster) followed by Gelato. Double yum.

Overall, it was a great, relaxing, getaway weekend. It was also kind of fun to peek into the lives of the rich. But, the part of Boca Raton where the resort is located was so…bland.  Sure, there were lots of places to shop and eat, but there was absolutely no diversity, no culture or character.  We’d much rather eat at a local restaurant and jam to live music at the local coffee shop. We like seeing people of different ethnic and financial backgrounds walking down the same street.  We like not feeling like we have to dress a certain way and drive a certain car in order to be accepted.  I guess it could be easy to get caught up in all that nonsense. But, we sure are thankful that our parents taught us to value the important things in life like faith and family.

Now, if only we could get one of those local coffee shops in Merritt Island…

Oh, and for all you who were wondering, Del Boca Vista is from Seinfeld. That’s where Jerry’s parents live in Florida. The whole week before we went to Boca Raton, I couldn’t get Del Boca Vista out of my head!

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