2017

Well, I guess a blogger is one thing I am not…

I started this thing two years ago as a new year’s resolution to document more of mine and Emily’s life and adventures; much like a journal/reflection type thing… Nothing extraordinary, not trying to make a living out of this or anything, just a method for friends and family to keep up with certain parts of our lives.

Man, did that tank quickly. The effort was there… for a few months… and then nada. I’m beginning to realize how serious this whole ‘being a dreamer’ thing is in my life and how quickly new ideas get lost in the excitement of something else.

As I’m sitting here enjoying a slow Saturday with a cup of coffee and a lit candle smelling  of leather and pine (how much manlier can you get?), I thought I’d jot a quick note and and   few thoughts from this old (32 and climbing) fart.

Intentionality. This is my word for the year which I am using as a theme for…everything.

Maybe starting my own business and finally realizing that I can make it in this world on my own is what initiated the change and brought this [word] front and center… I don’t know. I do know, however, that I am changing and that life looks a little different for me now than it did even a year ago. Hopefully, it will start to look differently to those who know me well.

So, back to the word ‘intentionality’… I really like this word right now… Almost as much as a good Ole Fashioned or pictures of cute puppies (thats a topic for a future post). Intentionality is a word that I want to filter my whole life through and I implore you consider the same.

Its great to be living in a period of such awesome technology and discoveries but it also blows. Everything wants our time and money. EVERYTHING. It’s exciting to have so many options, but the important stuff gets less of us. Sometimes I’m bummed I wasn’t born in the 1800’s. Sure, I could have died from Scarlett Fever or appendicitis, but I wouldn’t have to worry about interpreting someone’s tone over text message or who has or hasn’t poked me on FB (is that even a thing anymore?). The grass is always greener I suppose…

This year, I plan on giving more of myself to the things that matter and less time to things that do not.

Areas for growth in intentionality:

  •  Daily time with The Lord in silence, meditation and prayer.
  • A block of time each day for some form of exercise (I’m not trying to be the hulk here just trying to maintain overall health and physique).
  • block of time each day to sit and talk/listen with my wife about our days/personal wins and frustrations/goals/dreams for the future.
  • Little to no phone access when home.
  • Having a few very close friends vs trying to hang with everyone.
  • Reading more and actually finishing several good books.
  • Having a bro hang each week/ A few close dudes to spend one on one time with.

More and more I’m realizing the importance of these things and how they contribute to my overall health and to becoming the man God wants me to be. I want to care less about pleasing everyone and focus on the most important people; the people that need me to care the most.

If you know me, feel free to ask how this whole plan is going the next time you see me… Accountability is an art that could stand to make a comeback.

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DIY Vintage headboard

Call it jumping on the bandwagon, blame it on Pinterest, but Emily and I just made a headboard for our new King-size bed out of a vintage door. 

After making the decision to move from a queen sized bed to a king, it was nearly a 3 month process getting everything finished. The first step was our new mattress from Tuft & Needle which I wrote about in a previous post. Then after making sure we loved our mattress, we moved the mattress off the floor and got a bed frame, then came purchasing all new bedding…Now FINALLY we were able to complete the whole package with the headboard. 

In the early spring we found a great door at an antique store in Downtown Franklin and immediately thought it would look great as a new headboard. So, here is the process from door to headboard:

 Our awesomely, unique, rad door. 

  

 

Our bed sans headboard

 
We purchased the door because the weathered “distressed” look caught our eye, so we didn’t really want to cover its awesomeness with a crisp coat of paint. We decided to cover the door in a few coats of a matte finish spray paint and then just hang it as is. 
After racking my brain to figure out how to make this thing a headboard, my dad recommended I just hang it on the wall and leave it at that… Kids should always take their parent’s advice. 

We bought some cool wall attachments that hold 100 pounds each (about 10 bucks a piece).

  
After measuring exactly how high we wanted the door and where we wanted the attachments, We screwed in two to the back of the door and the corresponding pieces to the wall. It was so simple a third grader could do it. Great part is, all you need for assembly is a standard Philips-head screw driver and you don’t even need to find studs in order for these things to hold! Grand-slam if you ask me.

   
    
 
The last step took ten seconds as we literally just picked the door up and hooked it onto the matching pieces on the wall. Another great benefit to these hangers is that you can slide it right or left to get it in the right place on the wall to center it behind your bed; couldn’t be more fool proof if you wanted it to be. 

  
The door holds perfectly and now it’s not even remotely attached to the bed which is a plus for a variety of reasons… We immediately loved it and Em went to town making the bed all pretty-like. It was cool to see the finished product after months of piecing this whole bed together and dreaming of what it would be like to have a nice looking, complete bed.

   
  

Has anyone else done this? Any tips to add? 

The Motherland

Soooo, back in my elementary school days, one of our projects was to figure out our family lineage as far back as we could and find our family crests. Although we never found the crest for Foltz (I had a great imagination though and conjured up the raddest looking crest you’d ever seen… I got an A+), I did find out from talking with my dad and grandparents, that Foltz is predominately German. Ever since then I have had a deep fascination with the culture and the country. I traveled all over that place my fist time in Europe and it’s always a place I think I’ll revisit when I’m here. The last two days we have spent in The southern part of Germany and Salzburg Austria. 

We got into Salzburg, Austria yesterday afternoon and what a journey it took to get there. For starters, on our longest train from Zurich to Salzburg, there was a girl on our car that apparently had the same misfortune I had back in Italy. She was running to the bathroom on our car about 9 or 10 times and it was clear to all on board that her stomach wasn’t happy… She must have had the clam linguini too 😦 #blessherheart

As soon as we got off the train, we were approached by the sweetest little lady by the name of Lynn. Lynn was from Austrailia and was simply asking for directions to her hotel. Well, her hotel ended up being one street over from ours, so we walked and talked the whole way. She kept telling us that we were a God send and thanked us continually. It’s kind of funny sometimes how God can be at work, even in the simplest of things. Making travel/vacation buddies has been really cool. We kinda miss Lynn. 

Our hotel here is a little Austrian boutique joint that has been around for ages. Only problem is, the last two days have been the hottest days all year for this country and there is no AC in this mug. It’s been a warm, sticky last two nights but all is good in the neighborhood as our days have been filled with awesome treks and ventures to help take our mind off this all too familiar sticky weather. 

After first arriving in Austria, we decided to walk around for a bit before grabbing dinner. Of course, we had to go stop by the big attraction here which is a palace and a garden where a big chunk of The Sound of Music movie was filmed. We walked around the gardens, sang a bit of some of the songs from the movie, saw the famous gazebo and even eavesdropped on a sound of music tour that we clearly were not a part of. The gardens were beautiful but we were hungry and walked on to our dinner spot. 

  
So, my Brother-in-law had read about this place that is run by monks and apparently has some of the best beer that there is to offer here in Europe. We walked around forever trying to find this place, but when we finally found it, we were shocked at how we missed it! There were easily 1,000 people at this place, no lie. There was a popular band covering a ton of US songs, food stations everywhere and the craziest line for beer I have ever seen! This line was like no other. You waited in line to purchase your drink, then you got your ticket, went to pick up your mug off a shelf, waited in line again, got up to a rinse station where you held you mug under a fountain to rinse it out, then you waited in line again to hand your mug and your ticket to one of the monk server guys to fill you up. We all partook, we sang, we laughed and it was glorious.  

  
We finally found a seat and joined in on the fun atmosphere. We got some traditional German/Austrian food and enjoyed our beer. It truly was an awesome experience and I will totally go back when I visit again. We had a hilarious night after that and fell asleep on top of our sheets with no blankets as to not sweat to death in our slumber. 

The next morning we enjoyed a little complimentary breakfast in our hotel and then grabbed a bus and headed to southern Germany. One of Emily’s friends had suggested a hike there talking about the beautiful views and scenery… Of course, talk about beautiful views and we were sold. It’s a park where Hitler apparently visited for vacation back in his day consisting of huge mountains surrounding two pristine, crystal clear lakes. Let me just tell you, it totally lived up to the hype.

  
We got there around lunch time and walked about ten minutes to the edge of the first lake. The mountains on either side of this lake were ginormous and the water was a crystal clear deep turquoise green color. I honestly have never seen anything like it before. We took a ferry ride, complete with the German national anthem, sung by what I can only imagine was a German homeschooler who simply asked if she could get on the boat mike and sing something (at one point I thought the ferry windows might shatter), and a trumpet song played by the captain in the middle of the lake so we could hear the echoes bouncing off the mountains (that part was actually pretty cool). 

When we finally got to our destination, the views were heavenly. Like I said, I have never seen lake water like this and it floored me. We stayed at this area far too long, got a ton of great shots and even went for a long refreshing dip. It was great and we didn’t want to leave.
  
After taking the long ferry ride back, we went to a local joint in Salzburg for some pizza and then ended the evening with a Nutella crepe and a walk to one of the large hills overlooking the city of Salzburg. We are currently sitting in our room, watching soccer on TV and trying not to have a heat stroke as we prepare for bed. Tomorrow, we head to Vienna! 
  

Wengen, Switzerland 

Well, after our train mishap in Como, Italy. We finally made it into, Wengen Switzerland around 6pm. It was a full day of traveling on what should be called “European sauna trains.” We were hot, hungry and I was still recovering my little food poisoning incident the night before. After settling into our sweet chalet with a view, we headed back up into town to get some dinner at the town pizzeria and then to the town supermarket to grab some fresh fruit, bread and Nutella for our breakfasts. 
   

the view from our chalet balcony


Wengen is a quaint little ski town village in the Swiss Alps just above Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken on Mount Männlichen. I can’t tell you much more than that in regards to its location, but you should totally check it out if you ever head this way and if scenery and more of a slow-paced day are your thing.
From our balcony, you could see Lauterbrunnen, the little town in the valley below us. This town looked like one of those vintage paintings on your grandparent’s dining room wall. It’s a tiny town tucked between two mountains. There is a famous waterfall (Staubbach falls) that falls right down into the town, an old church with a bell tower that plays on the hour, little pastures of sheep and cattle with bells… and when all else goes quiet, from our little town up on the mountain, the sound of the falls is all you hear down there. 

 

The view of Lauterbrunnen down in the valley

 
Our two days in Wengen, though filled with adventure, started much the same; a self-made breakfast of fresh fruit, bread, Nutella and coffee. It was very hard to wrap this portion of our day up because we were so enamored with the view from our balcony! Not only were the mountains and little town below breathtaking, but the valley was also a main location for skydivers and paragliders to soar through. 

Our first full day in Wengen, we decided to embark on a hike after breakfast (which was about noon time after our long porch-sitting). We took a sky train up to the top of Mount Männlichen, grabbed some Swedish bratwurst and beer for sustenance……. Played on the restaurant’s playground (crazy Americans), and THEN decided it was time to set off on our hike. 

   

 

For those who are interested, we hiked from Männlichen to Klein Scheidegg first which took about an hour and a half. This part of the trail was mostly uncovered (got a few sunburns to prove it) but had some crazy incredible views. 

  

 The next portion of the hike was SUPPOSED to be a two hour hike from Kleine Scheidigg back to Wengen, but of course, due to our lack of German, lack of sense of direction, and our inclination toward getting distracted by beautiful views, our two hour hike became five. Although at one point we did discuss our plan of we were still lost at nightfall, the wrong turns actually took us to some awesome spots that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Then again, God’s ways are better, right? Our round about path allowed us to wade through the icy glacier streams, walk through some herds of milk cows (with traditional Swedish bells around each of their necks), and walk along a ridge that allowed us some crazy ridiculous views!

  
  
 

brother-in-law Bill in the glacier stream

 
  After finally getting back (and several sighs of relief and high fives later) we were exhausted, achy and all a little hangry and ready to eat the next sheep or cow that walked out in our path. We settled on hamburgers on the Main Street and took them back to our porch to stuff our faces, relax and decompress. Maybe it was a little to do with the 7 hours and 17ish miles we spent hiking, but that burger was spot on. We sworn the night laughing about it day and comparing photos and all went to bed knowing the next morning had some new adventures waiting. 

The next morning we woke for another round of porch-sitting and then headed to the train station to meet up with an outdoor company in Interlaken to go on a canyoning trip. Now, I knew NOTHING about canyoning before going, but if you ever get the chance, you should definitely do it. Our group was composed of the four of us (my wife, sister and brother-in-law), two guides and a German/Swedish bachelor party. Although we were a bit hesitant at first, the bachelor party guys that went with us made the whole trip that much more enjoyable. They were great. 

So after a train ride down to Lauterbrunnen, a bus ride to Interlaken to meet the guides, a 45 minute drive up another mountain to our starting point and a quick change into our wet suits and gear on the side of the highway, we were ready for whatever “canyoning” was. We started the adventure with a 100 foot rappel off the side of a bridge into the icy stream below. The rest was composed of zip-lining, jumping off of ledges into waterfalls, sliding down rock “water slides” and parts just floating with the current. Below is a video from the company we went with of exactly what we did. It was exhilarating and we’re all so glad we did it. 

  
Guys, this portion of our trip may be my favorite so far. The views, the tranquility, the adventure were all exactly the things that move me. I’d be happy to give more details if anyone wants them or is thinking about going to Switzerland. Thanks for letting me share! Now, off to Austria! 

Lake Como

Tuesday morning we left our lovely experience in Cinque Terre and boarded the train out of Riomaggiore to head north to Lake Como. Of all the places in Italy to visit, Lake Como doesn’t get quite the recognition it deserves. This place was right up my alley. There were minimal crowds, huge mountains everywhere and a beautiful, turquoise-blue lake. Not to mention, it’s a vacation home spot for many U.S. Celebs (George Clloney and Madonna to name a few), so that’s gotta be worth something, right? 

Our day started out a little rough as we tried to squeeze on a completely full train with all of our luggage. A fight broke out between an old Italian man and a couple of teenage boys over us trying to get on the train. The boys who were Italian street vendors had their bags of merchandise in the train doorways and were taking up space for passengers. Since we were the last four passengers on, the man was yelling at them to move their stuff and they didn’t. So, for about 15 minutes, with the four of us in the middle, Italian yelling and cursing was flying everywhere. We were all a bit uncomfortable to say the least. 

Finally, we arrive in Como and it is truly breathtaking. Like Cinque Terra, Lake Como has many little towns all around it that are great places to visit and they are easily connected by trails, roads and waterway. We stayed in a town called Cernobio which is about a 10 minute drive north of Como. We get a taxi to our AirBnB place (this place is highly recommended if you ever need the details) where the owner of the house welcomes us and gives us a little tour of the place. His name is Giorgio and he is a salt of the earth kind of guy who loves showing his guests a good time. 

 
From here we decided to rent Vespas and see the area by bike. Now, if you’ve read my previous posts, you may recall me indicating that Italians don’t seem to have many rules on the road other than getting from point A to point B… Needless to say, I was a bit nervous about getting on the highway in Italy with no motorcycle/motorbike experience of any kind, my wife on the hump behind me and nothing between us and oncoming traffic except for my Dry-fit T-shirt. To make a LONG story short, we did great and loved the whole experience. Plus, put another check on the ole bucket list! 

 
We got back from our bike ride just before dark and then walked into the town center to grab a bite to eat. Rissoto is really good by the way of you haven’t tried it. We called it a fairly early night around midnight and hit the hay. 

Day two in Como was one for the books. We started out grabbing breakfast at a famous pastry and gelato bar just a few blocks from our house. First of all, when you’re in Italy, get croissants whenever you get a chance. We don’t do it right in the states but over here, these bad boys go like fresh Krispy Kremes when they are put out. They are warm, they are covered with sugar and they are just plain, yes.

We decided to check out the water on this day and took a ferry to several different towns along the way to explore some of the cool historical villas and hotels. My personal favorite was Villa Balbianello. This villa is where part of the James Bond film Casino Royale was filmed and a portion of a Star Wars movie. Now, I’m not a movie need, but that kind of stuff gets me pumped. 

 
We checked out another popular Villa called Villa Carlotta. Now, after having just been to the Biltmore earlier this year, this place paled in comparison. However, the gardens of this place were on fleek (trying to be one of the cool kids) and I could have spent hours   Here just staring at all the trees and flowers and dreaming about a huge manicured garden/Forrest of my own one day. 

  
Em and I decided to go check out the town of Bellagio and grab some dinner, buuuut, due to some confusing listings on the ferry schedule, we were only able to spend about an hour there, so we just grabbed drinks and a snack instead. 

 
We then grabbed the last speed boat out of Bellagio back to Como to meet up with Bill and Tyler for dinner. We tried a new local place that we stumbled upon while walking through town and, as I highly recommend doing, I got the waiter’s choice dish, which was clam linguini… However, there apparently was a bad clam in the bunch…. I’m going to go ahead and let you figure out how the rest of my night went. A few hours later and I was sicker than I have been in 10 years. I’m not sure I have thrown-up that many times in my life. Now, I’m not blaming the clam… But my body was definitely trying to get rid of something, that is for sure. 

The next morning had its own struggles as we couldn’t get a taxi to come pick us up from our place to the train station. So, we missed our train to Switzerland and had to purchase a whole new set of tickets to get where we were headed to. So, today has been predominately a travel day. We took 4 trains and I swear all but one of them had the heaters on. It may have been the fact that I had just thrown my intestines up the night before, but I had sweat coming out of every pore the majority of the day. We were greatly rewarded with beautiful views as we entere Swiss territory and started up the Alps.

All in all, Lake Como was a great decision and one of the most beautiful places in Italt that I have ever seen.we hope to go back someday and stay a bit longer. 

 
We are here safely in Wengen, Switzerland and I can already tell you, this place may take the cake!!! 

Cinque Terre

Listen up. If you ever even think you’re going to travel to Italy one day, you MUST make sure that you visit Cinque Terra. The culture is awesome and the scenery and landscape are some of the most beautiful on the planet. There are many phrases and words to describe the beauty and awesomeness but some of my catch phrases were, “holy crap,” “Is this real life,” and “Are you kidding me.”

  
Cinque Terre is a string of five towns on the coast of northern Italy that are all connected by trains and trails. It is a popular place for tourists but you still feel like your totally submerged in the culture and it is totally worth every minute you spend there. 

  
We arrived in Riomaggiore early in the morning, found our little local hotel, grabbed some lunch and beer at a locally recommended restaurant (La Lampara), then got some local delicacies of fried calamari, fried anchovies and a Nutella crepe. After all the food, and with a few prayers for our digestive systems, we set off for our first hike. We were staying in Riomaggiore which is the most southern town of the five, so we took the train back up north to Monterosso al Mare, the most northern town of the five (to train from the bottom town to the top is only about a t 15-20 minute train ride). 

There is a popular coastal trail that when open runs along the coast from town to town. (Need to purchase a hiking ticket) However, most of the time, due to landslide and rain, a portion of the trail will be closed. From past experiences and blogs, we heard the first coastal trail from Monterosso to Vernazza was the most beautiful and popular, and as that was the only portion of the coastal trail that was open, we had no choice. Man, oh man was it worth it. Be forwarded though, on a hiking difficulty level I would give it about 7 or an 8. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do a few weeks of conditioning before your trip to prepare… But for real, it’s a great workout. Also, hydrate before each leg and chug a bottle of water because you don’t want to hold one while you’re hiking, and you’ll end up sweating it all out on the hike anyway so don’t even worry about trying to find a restroom. We had a blast and some great bonding time on the trail and some ridiculously awesome pictures along the way. 

  
After this hike, we rewarded ourselves with a dip in the Mediterranean. The water was so clear and turquoise and we were so exhausted and hot from the hike that it was just calling our names. We went swimming in our clothes, but decided after the fact that we could have stripped down to just our undies after seeing some of the people (and body parts) that we were surrounded by. 

  
After the swim, we grabbed a drink and dried off for a bit and then took the train to Manorola, the fourth town and decided to try one of the footpath hikes to the town we were staying in (is it clear that we love hiking?). I think it’s safe to say that this was the best decision of our day. 

  
For those interested, the hike was trail 531 (Before you embark on any trail in Cinque Terre, make sure you have a trail map… Very helpful). Let me just say, this hike is now my most favorite hike that I have ever been on… And I have been on some pretty awesome hikes. The difficulty level of this hike (8-9), the weather (65-70F), the time of day (sunset), the company (Bill, Tyler, Em and I were the ONLY people on this trail the whole time), and the views made this hike complete perfection. 

  
After arriving back in Riomaggiore, and feeling all kinds of levels of joy and accomplishment (and hunger) that I haven’t felt before, we took a new route around the town and settled at a sweet restaurant on he main road for some Italian dinner and wine. The food was great, we laughed at some Americans that stuck out waaaaaay more than we did, had some kick-butt gelato and decided to call it a night. 

We had a grand time in our tiny 4 person room that night laughing about the day, reveling in our adventurousness and spontaneity and looking back over pictures of each event. All in all we agreed it had been the perfect day and we went to sleep exhausted, full of good food and with satisfied smiles on each of our faces. 

Pavia-ish

Yesterday we made a quick stop in a little town called Pinarolo Po just outside Pavia, Italy. It was the quaintest, most picturesque little place  and looked exactly like the Italian towns many of the foreign films depict. There were cobble stone roads everywhere, planters full of flowers on every window, wisteria and jasmine crawling up every building and a town bell that chimed on the quarter. I know it’s not the same country but it totally felt like the opening scene from Beauty and the Beast…you know the one,  “Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour!”

  

 
We walked the streets with our bags until we found our place. We stayed in the most rustic bed and breakfast you could imagine. The entire place was made of red brick and barn wood and had that smell like you just knew it had centuries of memories plastered all over the walls. Our first item on the itinerary was a tour of a large vineyard estate about 20 minutes away in the hills. 

Now this is where the fun began. We had a taxi called to take us to the vineyard. However, the guy they sent might as well have been a corn farmer from somewhere in Kansas because this Bro had no clue where he was going. Even with his GPS and multiple phone calls with the place we were trying to get to, we still managed to stretch a 20 minute car ride into almost an hour and 15 minutes. I was getting car sick in the back seat as home boy was flying around curves, hitting potholes like a champ, dodging oncoming motorcycles and turning around to backtrack every five minutes.

After finally arriving at our destination we were taken on the most awesome private tour of a family estate and vineyard. We learned about the family, learned a lot about growing and harvesting grapes and got a pretty thorough education on wine. Our visit ended with a tour of the property in a Land Rover Defender and then a tasting of the estates wines. Talk about feeling cultured. 

   
        Next we headed to a well known farmhouse for a family style Italian meal. We arrived early and had a few hours to kill before dinner. We explored the property, drank more wine and took pictures of everything (everyone knew we were Americans within 5 minutes). We did make friends with a few peeps from the UK though, and they thought we were pretty cool. So, yeah. 

  
Dinner was… Different. We just pointed at stuff on the menu when we ordered and figured we’d enjoy it. That method had worked pretty well for us so far, why would it fail is now? Well, it did. Some things hit but some things missed quite horribly. The cow cheek with mashed potatoes was a huge hit but the cheese plate with “fart cheese” was the downfall for everyone. A few gags and swigs of wine later we called it a night and headed back to our rustic bed and breakfast. 

  
All in all it was a great day filled with memorable experiences. We laughed a lot and all decided that we really like wine and that not all cheese tastes good. On a train now to Cinque Terre. Cheers to new adventures in a new place! 

Milan

Em and I have been anticipating this sunmer’s vacation with such excitement. We have been planning a two week trip to Europe with my sister and brother-in-law since last summer and it is finally here! I’ve decided to attempt to post after each city on our list. First stop: Milan, Italy.

 Milan is one of the Italian cities that I never visited when I studied abroad in college, so I honestly had no idea what to expect. Now, I’m no fashion guru (I just found out last week what a romper was, ha!) but even I know that Milan is the fashion Capitol of the world (supposedly). 

 After leaving the train station, we checked into our hotel (with my Patagonia hat and our 4×6 foot map, I’m certain we stuck out). We immediately set out to explore our surroundings and see what Milan had to offer.

   
     We walked the busy streets and realized rather quickly that there are no traffic rules on the streets of Italy. Not only are there cars to dodge but there are motorcycles that do whatever they please (even ramp up on the sidewalk), bicycle lanes that are can be easily mistaken for pedestrian sidewalks and add on top of that the lack of good ole southern hospitality and you have yourself a recipe for disaster (or a few broken bones). Luckily we are all still in one piece. Bless our hearts.

We checked out the fashion district, walked into a few big-name stores just to say we did and ordered beer and pizza from a waiter that only knew the English word “English” (it was like a scene from the Miracle Worker) from a well known Italian restaurant. After lunch we checked out the historic Duomo cathedral which was humbling to say the least and the original “Last Supper” fresco (Mind blowing). Nature and architecture (especially structures that are centuries old) have a way of moving me to pieces. I stand in awe every time. Such a reminder of the power of our creator and the imagination and gifts that he has instilled in each of us.

   
    Due to not getting much sleep on the flight over to Italy and probably in part to the medicinal cocktail we all took in order to try to sleep (not to mention the 8 miles we walked) we all got the hay around 9pm (it is still light in Italy at that time). 

Day two was super sweet. We went and checked out The World’s Fair Expo. Nearly every country was represented and each had a unique multi-million dollar building representing their country. And, since this world’s fair was centered around food, every country had a little taste of their local cuisine, which we didn’t complain about. The U.S. Made us proud with their “food truck nation” strip with everything from cupcakes to pulled pork sandwiches (we opted against the food here though and saved room in our bellies for the stuff we don’t get in the states). Pimm’s cup shots from the UK, Wiener schnitzel’s and pretzels from Germany and Nutella crepes from France were among the favorites… And obviously wine to wash it all down made everything taste that much better. 

  
  
We ended the day with a little trip to a castle and a nice al fresco candlelit dinner with lots of pasta and of course, more wine. Our evening was short but sweet as the four of us sat on our hotel balcony overlooking the streets of Milan discussing the city and our adventures, the plan for the next morning, lots of laughter and… You guessed it, mucho vino!

Milan travel tips: watch out for motorcycles and say a firm “No” to selfie-stick peddlers (they are everywhere, folks).

On the train to Pavia! Ciao, Milan!

   
   

Mattress wizardry.

I don’t care who you are or what you put in your smoothies, your body IMMEDIATELY changes the day you turn 30. Yeah, yeah… It sucks, but it’s life. After my 30th about a year ago, I started noticing that my lower back would hurt first thing in the morning after waking on my super cushiony euro-top mattress that was nearing a decade in age. The last few months the pain got so bad that I could only sleep about 6 hours before the pain would wake me up. Em also started experiencing some comfort issues and we collectively decided it was time to invest in a new mattress… Oh if it were only that simple…

For those of you who have journeyed down the mattress purchasing path recently, you too would probably agree that having an ingrown toenail removed would be more desirable. Being the researcher that I am, I began to look at mattress ratings, read chiropractor blogs and even read up on how to best prepare ourselves to haggle with the best of the mattress salesmen out there! After gathering what valuable information I could, we set off to find the holy grail of mattresses. 

I believe we made it through two stores before we called it quits. The salesmen were actually very nice and didn’t push too hard, but after the mattress we liked most was price tagged at 4,999.99, we decided to go home and see what of our current possessions we could hawk on Craigslist for some extra cash…

I got back online and stumbled across a website called Tuft & Needle. I had actually heard a testimonial about the company a few times on the Christian radio station we listen to at work, but had never really paid attention. The company was started by two college buddies that were frustrated with the mattress buying process too. Before starting their company they discovered, through research, that the cost of making most of the top dollar mattresses that most of us buy only comes to about 250-300 US dollars. The rest of the fluff you and I pay for covers the fee to have it shipped over seas, pay off the middle man AND allow the salesman to be able to “throw in” some freebies such as a bed frame, box springs and a few pillows to make you feel like you’re getting a great deal… Well, the jig is up you money sucking mattress empire conglomerates! 

Check out the website here and see for yourself: Tuft & Needle

After researching their website and reading hundreds of reviews, blogs and drooling over the prices and return policy, we were sold… We purchased their 10 inch King mattress for $750. We laughed the whole way through entering our credit card information and kept telling ourselves we were either really stupid and about to get duped, or pretty smart and about to make the best purchase imaginable 🙂

Our mattress arrives:

  
We were curious to see how this was all going to play out. The mattress arrived via FedEx (that’s another story for another blog entry…#UPS4Life) and accurately (according to the site) weighed about 70 lbs. Em and I hauled it upstairs into our bedroom and the excitement began. There must be a jet engine powered vacuum that compresses these things at the factory because our king mattress was in a box about the size of a 7-year old child. 

   
 

Other bloggers had cautioned to be careful when opening this thing and one even claimed her husband was thrown against the wall.. Needless to say, I was prepared for this thing to jump out of the wrapping and scissor-kick me into submission… The process was actually EXTREMELY anti-climactic and no more exciting to watch than a documentary on the various types of edible tree bark. 

   

However, we were still highly amused at the whole process and are still flabbergasted at the wizardry used to get that mattress in a box that size. 

We have only slept on the mattress for two nights now, but Em and I are both highly impressed so far. The mattress feels great (we even both agree that it feels better than the 5 grand Temperpedic that we liked) and my back is feeling progressively better each morning. Plus, we are stoked at the 4 thousand dollars we saved too!

So far there are no complaints from the Foltzes. Give this company a try if you are in the market for a new mattress. You won’t be dissapointed. 

 
 

Status: Full-blown hipster

So…here we are middle of May, trees are green, birds are hatching, flowers have blossomed and consequently my need to be outdoors has quadrupled. Whether it’s a hike, a float down a river, a cup of joe on the porch or a simple outdoor project, it doesn’t really take much to get my fix…

This year, as a first year homeowner, Emily and I thought it would be fun to start our own garden. Why ease into this homeowner thing, right?! Needless to say, we got the itch to grow our own produce and so the planning and scheming began. 

I looked online for a fairly simple “DIY” raised vegetable planter that I could put together. And when I say DIY, I mean I scoured the World Wide Web for the easiest of projects from materials needed all the way down to cost. I didn’t want this to break the bank OR take too much time or effort. I found a pretty sweet blog (there are hundreds) that even gave me a cut list that I could take to Home Depot and have them cut the wood for me. I felt like a total tool (pun most definitely intended) getting them to cut everything for me but the guy was super cool about it. I altered the dimensions a little for the height I wanted them, (to fit right beneath our kitchen windows) lined the bottom with 1/4 inch mesh and then landscaping fabric and started planting. 

   
   

We planted the essentials (the things we use most often) and some things that are just downright expensive (I was way close to planting coffee bean trees, you have no idea). A few weeks later, as promised, I stained them to blend in a bit better with the house and try our best to not become “those neighbors.” I used a natural (would you expect anything less?!) stain of vinegar, coffee grounds and steel wool to get the job done and it turned out pretty neat. Get the recipe and directions here

   
 

As you can see from these photos the stuff is growing like crazy. We are anxiously awaiting the first signs of our miniature produce… We will keep you updated with the bountiful harvest as the crops start swelling. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a recipient of some of the abundance! Any great summer projects you have or will be taking on this summer?

Also, future fun post alert: we got a Green Egg this last weekend…. That’s really all I wanted to say 🙂

  
Stay tuned: