October 26, 2014

On Blogging and Italy

It's been almost a year since I've written anything on this blog, and to be honest, I'm a little nervous. My blogging frequency severely dwindled in 2013 and came to a complete stop in 2014.  With my work and personal life only seeming to get busier by the minute, I couldn't bring myself to write down really any thoughts that I felt should be put out here. My view of blogging has also changed as the shift to marketing your personal life has grown, and between the societal pressures to have the wittiest tweets and the prettiest instagrams, adding my voice to the blogging world just seemed exhausting and futile.

This is another rant for another day, but all I'm here to say is that Chin and I recently took a holiday to Italy, just the two of us. We really didn't have much of a summer-- between Chin studying for the boards, taking the boards and then quickly starting 12 weeks of grueling surgical rotations and electives ("What did we get ourselves into?!" is a common phrase in our household), and then me, planning and executing a 30,000 person wine and beer festival in August and having an event every weekend in September, we did not have a summer. Last spring we knew that our summer wasn't going to be fun (to be frank), so we decided to plan a trip for the fall to get away and spend time together other than when we were sleeping (we had a few of those on some of our 80-hour work weeks).

Don't get me wrong, more than a year later, I still really love my job and Chin loves med school. But we needed some time and to us, time together and traveling with each other are our top priorities right now.

Okay three paragraphs later I'm finally telling you why I'm blogging. While we were there I wrote detailed notes in my travel journal, and after getting my phone stolen and losing all my pictures and essentially everything since 2012, I decided I wanted to wipe off the spiderwebs on my blog and record my writing from our trip via the Internet. It's really a selfish preservation thing.

So, without further adieu, below are the journal entries I wrote for each day of our trip. Some are short, some are long, and some of them might not make sense because they're unedited and probably a little choppy. Blame posterity that these are on the Internet.

Friday, October 3, 2014: Getting There

We are lucky in the fact that getting from Rochester to Toronto, we were the least stressed we've ever been. It took us under three hours to get to the hotel to park our car, with a five minute wait at the border. Five minutes! Compared to our five hour debacle on the way to Paris where I couldn't stop hyperventilating last summer, we were calm, cool and on time.

After checking in with Mussolini's daughter who could not have been more unhelpful, Alitalia finally gave us the exit row for free. With Chin being a million feet tall, we always try to finagle an exit row on a transcontinental overnight flight.

Upon taking our sleeping pills, we both slept for eight hours, waking up at 6 a.m. for breakfast. That sensation of going to sleep in one country and waking up in another is still amazing to me. Being in Italy hasn't quite hit me yet, because we still have such a long travel day ahead of us and will have to be "on" for a majority of our trip to Nocelle. I'm hoping the thrill of our trip will come when we wake up tomorrow on the Amalfi Coast.

Saturday, October 4, 2014: Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Let me just say that after all the planning and fretting, we could not have gotten luckier in our travels so far. Nothing's been stolen (fingers crossed!) and we made it off the plane in time to catch the Leonardo Express train which then got us to Rome Termini in time to catch the 3:45 train to Napoli.

With only one small panic attack, we had a hard time finding the platform to Napoli. When we found it we rushed on the train and sat in two random seats. Little did we know the seats we randomly picked happened to be our assigned seats! Fate is a very real thing. Hoping the last legs of our journey are as smooth as the first.

Saturday, October 4, 2014: Nocelle and Long Trains

We seem to have jinxed ourselves. With what was the smoothest ride imaginable to Naples came a wave of frustration for the last leg of our trip. Upon arriving in Naples early, we went downstairs to buy tickets to Sorrento. We crammed ourselves onto a platform filled with locals and tourists alike and boarded the wrong train. It took us three stops to figure it out but it was three stops too late. We got off in a random town near Naples and had to backtrack, then take the 30-stop train to Sorrento. We lost our time we had earned and then some, but Pasquale, our amazing driver from our last trip to the coast in 2012, was waiting for us in bustling Sorrento.

We then made the winding, tedious, dark drive through the mountains to Nocelle, where we are staying for the next 3 days. I forgot how beautiful the Amalfi Coast is even in the dark. The roads wind around and around and every turn gives you a splash of the dramatic cliffs and lights of Positano and Praiano below.

Nocelle is in a league of its own. You drive to the village and suddenly the road just stops. No cars are allowed in the 115 person town. We got out of Pasquale's car and walked through twinkle-lit paths to our B&B, Casa Cuccaro. Someone was playing the accordion in a house below with the moon above. I thought it was a dream. The town is filled with B&B's, a few restaurants and a small square with a church overlooking the coast. Our B&B is wonderful, and has small but amazing amenities like U.S. plugs (!), a hairdryer and a private terrace with a killer view. We are lucky.





For dinner we went to Trattoria Santa Croce and were ridiculously spoiled with bread, prosciutto with melon, pasta bolognese, pasta with tomatoes and shellfish and grilled steak with parmesan, arugula and cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes were just... Stunning and delightful are the only two words I know to describe them. Everything was truly divine. We took a walk around the village after dinner and can I just say what a sport Chin is? He genuinely seemed to enjoy today and didn't complain at all about being tired or spending too much money. This vacation has been wonderful to us already.


Sunday, October 5, 2014: Mountain Goat Symphony

Is it possible to be in a more beautiful location than this? We woke up this morning and headed to the terrace for a breakfast of sweet rolls, yogurt, and plums overlooking the coast. I've consumed enough carbs in the past two days to last a lifetime. We then headed out of our B&B and up a few stairs and there we were on the Path of the Gods. We hiked to Bomerano, a small mountain town above Amalfi. Around every corner was stunning scenery: sheer cliffs, forested grottoes, abandoned brick homes, vineyards and unbelievable views of the coastline, from Praiano to Capri. As we hiked we encountered a herd of darling black mountain goats, their bells ringing above us in a joyous symphony as they pranced on the mountainside. We also ran into several mules and geckos. 


We got to Bomerano with the intention of taking a bus to Amalfi, grabbing lunch and then taking a boat to Positano. We soon found out the bus was 2.5 hours away because it's Sunday. So... We decided to hike to Praiano and see if we could take a boat from there. Back on the path we went until we found out we couldn't take a boat and our only viable option was to hike back to Nocelle. At that point we'd been hiking for four hours and I wasn't mentally prepared for two more hours of hiking and had a meltdown. BUT, we made it down the path, after much coaxing from Chin, and back to our B&B, dusty shoes and all.

We then got our bathing suits on and made our way to Positano, thinking we could quickly walk there as well. What is wrong with us? It's an hour walk. We finally got too tired at Montepertuso and took the bus down the mountain. In Positano our main priority was no longer lunch but just gelato. Pistachio and nutella for me, kinder and chocolate for Chin. It tasted like gold as we made our way to Spiagga Grande to take a dip in the sea and rest on the rocky shore.

For dinner, we got ready and were picked up at the Nocelle bus stop and taken to La Tagliata for an unforgettable meal. High up in the mountains, our table was perched overlooking Positano as it shined under the full moon. At La Tagliata (tie-ya-ta), you dine on what Mama and Papi are cooking that night. So, we gorged ourselves on bruschetta, ricotta, mozzarella, bread, marinated pumpkin, spinach with a chicken croquette and broccoli, peas with chickpeas, frittata and beans and eggplant parmesan with pork meatballs. That was the appetizer.


For primi we dined on pumpkin ravioli, "mama's" pasta, another pasta I can't remember the name of but was so good, and gnocchi. All freshly made. Mama wakes up every morning at 5 a.m. and they close the restaurant at 2 a.m., every day! For the meat portion we had: lamb, chicken, pork, rabbit, steak, beef, beef kebab and sausage. By then I thought I might die but we still ended up having dessert, chocolate cake and a fruit pudding cake with fresh fruit salad.

Walking back to our B&B I just couldn't believe how beautiful our world is and that we get to experience things like we did today. 

Monday, October 6, 2014: Sea Day

We ended up sleeping in this morning, which to be honest had me feeling anxious, but our day turned out to be lovely. We woke up for a quick breakfast and made the bus trek down the mountain to Marina Grande. We rented a small 8 horsepower boat and after some adjustment, made our way down the coast towards Praiano. We eventually found a small cove that looked as though it was a private beach-- with not a soul in sight. There was a ladder in the water leading up to several blue beach loungers, but nobody was there, so we made our way up to the carved out rock. We laid in the sun, ate lunch on the boat and cliff jumped (after much coaxing from Chin). The weather was perfect with beautiful sunshine all day. 

In the late afternoon we decided to make our way back to Positano until we realized our anchor was stuck on a rock. But, after some momentary panic and help from a nearby boat, we got the anchor out and headed back to the Marina. I laid on the front of the boat in awe of the jutting coastline and the sparkling sea. We got back to Positano and after a snack, spent another evening laying on the rocky sand resting in the sun. For dinner we went to Risto Degli Dei, a pizza shop in a cave in Nocelle, once again overlooking lit-up Positano . We had carrot soup and caprese salad and delicious pizza with the restaurant's cat and accordion player. Is this real life? 

Up next: Capri, Pompei, and arriving in Roma

November 27, 2013

What My Life Looks Like Now

Yes, I am still alive. Still here on the internet. It's now almost December and my life is flying and I still can't believe our trip to Paris, or summer for that matter, even happened. So much has happened since I spoke about how hard 2013 has been, and it's also been almost four months since I started a job that I am so unbelievably grateful for, and I've been relatively discrete on here. I'm ready to open up about it now (as much as I can while maintaining the level of professionalism and respect I feel for my company and colleagues). 

First, let's rewind back to the end of July. I had quit my first out of college, entry level "investment job" and took a month off to travel with Christian before he went back to school. I was gearing up to start my culinary arts program. The day I paid my tuition, we were in Denver helping my in-laws move to a new home. I had sent my tuition check a few days before we left for Denver, and had noticed that the check had been cashed on moving day.

That evening, after a VERY long day of non-stop moving and hauling boxes, I sat down in our hotel room to catch up on the internet world. Usually it consists of checking blogs I love (or don't love, too), going down my twitter feed, and meandering for a few minutes through facebook. I was excited to check my email that day, hoping I would have some information about my upcoming courses for school. Instead, I saw an email that was probably one of the most shocking things that had ever happened to me.

This past January, I sent my resume to a lot of PR/ad agencies and firms in Rochester, hoping to be considered for a job. I obviously didn't have much success, hence the investment job ----> culinary school. So when I got an email from a woman (my current boss) asking to interview me for an events coordinator/public relations position at the agency I'm at now, I was floored.

The rest of the story happened so quickly I barely could process it. After two days of skype interviews, I was the newest employee at New York's largest integrated marketing agency outside of Manhattan. It wasn't what I had planned for myself, and to be frank, it wasn't something I thought I'd ever be able to attain. I just didn't recognize that sort of potential in me. But, I'm so happy I took the leap of faith to start my job that brings new challenges and excitement every day (there truly is never a dull moment). 

So, after the news that I'd be starting a new job, we jetted off to Paris with butterflies in our stomach.

The day after we got home (let it be known that I was a little bit jet lagged), I started my new job, where I was immediately thrown into a massive annual event we were spearheading. I wore nice work clothes for an hour before changing into workout gear to head out to the venue where the event was being held. It was thrilling, intimidating, and exactly what I had always dreamed of doing.

Now, I'm starting to get a handle on my job and all that it entails. The people I work with are my biggest mentors. I work with strong, capable men and women who have taught me more in the last 4 months than I learned in the 4 years I was at BYU (no offense BYU Comms, I still love you to death). 

I get a lot of people who ask what I do on a day-to-day basis. The honest answer is that it varies.

On the PR side of things, I am writing PR plans and press releases, as well as doing a variety of media relations like media pitching, t.v., radio and print interview coordination, publicity value analyses, print and tv advertising coordination, press release distribution, etc.

On the events side, we do everything from vendor relations to decor, catering coordination to venue management, presenting creative concepts and seeing through an event from start to finish. A lot of our clients are non-profits, which means we do a lot of fundraising events like galas. We also do some corporate work and I'm currently working on a festival (the same one I started working on my first day) that happens every August.

So. Now you know what I do and why I love what I'm doing. My colleagues are smart, kind, hilarious and experts in their field. I, on the other hand, am still learning how to do what I do, but I'm grateful to have the opportunity to learn in a collaborative environment. 

a small view of my desk (check out my custom nameplate- seriously love!):

September 19, 2013

Some Things About Me

Um hi. All of a sudden it's been like, a month and I haven't written anything on here. But that's kind of the name of the game now, right? Getting caught up in other things, I sort of forgot my virtual world existed. 
I don't have much to say, I'd love to tell you about my job, but I think I'll wait until I have more time and energy for that. 
My beautiful friend Amber, PR goddess and mother extraordinaire, tagged me in a fun questionnaire that I thought I'd share with you! So... here goes.
Why do you blog and how has it affected your life? I started blogging when Christian and I got engaged- mainly so that my family who didn't live near us could keep track of wedding plans and thoughts about our engagement. It's sort of turned into a place where I can track my thoughts and sometimes it's just really therapeutic to share your world with others. It's made me learn a lot about what I do want to share on the internet and I've also learned a lot about other people through blogging. It's also made me realize that there is a big disconnect between the online world and the real world. You shouldn't live your life to blog about it, you should live your life, and blog about it if you have time. 

 What is your biggest fear? My biggest fear in life is missing out. I've always been that way. I'm obsessed with being in the know and experiencing things that others do too. It's really stupid and something I should learn to get over, but there are SO many things I want to do, and I'm worried about not being able to experience it all. How do you time your life to make sure you can be apart of the things you're supposed to be a part of? And how do you even know what those things are? It's a terrible, terrible game.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Yes, this is just a practice run for your next job interview. Hopefully no more job interviews for me for a while! If I could time it right, I would love to be well established in my career, preferably at the agency I'm at now. There's so much room for growth and development there. Kids are off the radar for me at the moment (give me 8 more years, then I'll think about it). Ultimately, I hope to be even more in love with Christian than I am now and in a place where my self-esteem, standards, and heels are high.

What is your most awkward/embarrassing moment? Do I seriously have to pick one? I wish there were just a few, but unfortunately my whole life is one big embarrassment. There's that time I threw up chinese food all over the parking lot in front of Chin's grandparents the first time I met them. That was a good time. 

If you could meet anyone, real or fictional, who would you choose? On a less serious note, I day dream about meeting John Mayer, like every day. Luckily, BFF Ali and I share this dream and have a game plan down for our first encounter with him someday. On a more serious note, I would love to meet Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife. Her story in The Paris Wife blew me away, and I would love to pick her brain (also highly recommend the book!). 

What is something you wonder about a lot? I wonder about people who I don't talk to anymore a lot. It's ridiculous and not good to dwell in the past, but when you leave the path of someone you used to know, it's natural to think about them from time to time. When you care about someone a lot, and then all of a sudden you don't, you don't ever really don't. Excuse my grammar. 

Where  do you find your greatest inspiration? I find a lot of inspiration through traveling. I'm a little bit of a wanderlust freak and being in a place where there's nothing to do but explore the beauty of what's around you is amazing. The sounds, sights, and smells of an unfamiliar place are the ultimate inspiration. 

Tell us about a favorite memory from growing up. One summer my family went to the 1000 islands up in Canada, and we stayed at this small bed and breakfast near Alexandria Bay. I think about it all the time because of the beautiful sunsets, the cold water, and the swing that hung from the B&B owner's tree in her front yard. I can still smell the blueberry breakfast bread pudding she made for us and for me, it was like the quintessential summer trip. I had sun-kissed cheeks and salt in my hair, and I can still remember waking up early in the morning, anticipating another day to start. Simpler times, people, simpler times. 


And there it is. I'd love to hear your answers to these questions! 

August 26, 2013

The Pingrees Take Paris

I've been putting off talking about our trip to Paris for weeks. I can't seem to find any words to describe our time there. It was such a special time and it hurts my heart to think about not being there. All I'll say is that exploring the city of love and lights with Chin, without knowing the language and only relying on each other without phones or internet and language barriers, was the best time of my life. 

Instead of doing multiple posts about our trip, I might save our stories for just Chin and me and my little travel journal. However, here are just a couple photos from our trip and a little video I made with footage from our trip. Enjoy!

July 29, 2013

Vive La France!

We are off! I haven't talked about our trip to Paris much on the blog, but tomorrow we set out for another summer journey to the City of Love.
I've been dreaming about Paris for years. There's such a stigma that comes with the city. The romance, the excitement, the lights, the food (ooh la la, the cuisine!), the sights, the history. All of it appeals to all of me, and I can't wait to turn my dream into a reality. 

We've gone a bit mad (read: I've gone crazy) about traveling recently. I think it's the thought of our someday future of children and careers and other responsibilities that has us wanting to wander all around the world while we're young and full of life (I start my dream job the day after we get back, details to come!).

Our apartment is right in the heart of the 7th arrondissement (neighborhood), with an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower from our windows.

So, Paris, be prepared for me. I'm coming to take advantage of everything you have to offer. I am giddy with excitement and cannot wait to spend a week taking french macaron baking courses and strolling the Musee d'Orsay, picnicing on the Champ de Mars and viewing Paris at night from the Sacre Coeur. And most of all, I can't wait to spend a week in the most romantic city in the world with Christian.

"There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris."
 -Ernest Hemingway

July 26, 2013

Nantucket & Cape Cod

During our trip to New England, we got out of the city for a couple days to explore the cape and Nantucket. 

On the first day we took a ferry over to Nantucket to spend the day and explore the island. The day started out a little rainy and we were kind of worried our day would be spoiled by the weather, but about 10 minutes after we got there the rain cleared up and the weather ended up being perfect the rest of the trip. It was cool enough to enjoy riding our bikes around the island, but warm enough to visit the beach and stay in shorts.
Nantucket is incredibly beautiful and I couldn't help feeling like I didn't fit in at all. I spent the day with my hair in a huge curly mess on top of my head, and my makeup was smeared from the humidity and drizzling rain. The people visiting there are beautiful and the shear wealth of the place was a little overwhelming. I didn't really mind not fitting in, and seeing how the other half lives (eg not forever college students) was fascinating. 
We spent the day riding bikes around the island, stopping at different beaches and landmarks. We shopped around Main Street and ate dinner at a small pub, and naturally ended the day with incredible ice cream (Um hello salted caramel coconut with toffee! Chocolate with peanut butter cookie dough! Rainbow sprinkles! Handmade waffle cones!) before heading back on the ferry.
I can't wait to go back there someday.

The next day we began with a huge breakfast at a local diner, and then a stop at the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory. We got to see how their kettle chips are made and try some free samples (which were delicious). Then we drove up the cape all the way to the very tip of Cape Cod to a small town called Provincetown. It was quintessential New England, with narrow cobblestone streets and old buildings. It had shops filled with salt water taffy and a pier with a pirate ship at the end. The weather was sunny and warm and the little town was about as eccentric and lively as they come. We walked down the pier and explored the shops, and found more ice cream and a delicious mexican restaurant.

Maren and I matched not on purpose. Our outfits are flipped!

Relaxing on Jetties Beach

Nantucket is filled with hydrangeas with deep color hues. They were absolutely stunning

Paths made out of seashells? Yes please.

Provincetown, MA

Do you see those nachos?

Thanks for reading along on our adventure to the most beautiful place in the U.S.A! New England, I love you.