Life in Sicily

It’s been a whole MONTH since we moved to Sicily, Italy! We’ve made it through the flights, unpacking, and all the logistics of moving abroad … and it’s starting to feel like home here.

Except … it’s nothing like home!

(Pssst … if you’re just here to see cool photos of our time in Italy, keep scrolling to the very bottom for a handful of my favorites!)

Here are a few ways Sicily is unlike any place we’ve lived before:

  1. We live in the shadow of a volcano. Actually, one of the world’s most active volcanoes - Mount Etna. (Luna always says, “See that? You see that volcano? Isn’t that cool?!”) It last erupted in December 2018 and they say the volcanic ash is the reason the food here is so good! Speaking of food …

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2. We almost never go to the grocery store anymore. Instead, we visit the butcher, the baker, the pasta shop and the local fish market where we find all our fresh fruits + veggies. And we purchase food by the kilo (“mezzo”) or ounces (“etti”) instead of by the pound!

Fish Market in Catania (open daily except on Sundays)
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3. Coffee shops are called bars, we pay in euros instead of dollars, and the oven is in Celsius degrees. I’m still getting used to the money!

4. We don’t have Walmart or Target. Or really any of the major stores we’re used to … instead, there’s a store called Auchan which is sort of the Italian version of Walmart. (Amazon delivers but it takes 1-2 weeks for packages to arrive. First world problems, I know!) And the stores/restaurants have weird hours - most close for several hours during the afternoons.

5. Drivers are next-level aggressive especially in the city. Stop signs are just suggestions, honking is socially acceptable, and mopeds weave through the tiniest gaps in traffic. They joke that the center line is the middle lane here … expect it’s not a joke! People actually drive on the center line between opposing lanes of traffic! And that’s just the beginning - sometimes you get stuck behind a flock of sheep or people will stop to talk to an old friend - literally in the middle of the road - while holding up traffic. We’re still waiting on our second car to arrive but that’s okay … I’m a little nervous to drive!

6. Everyone LOVES children but you rarely see them out. It’s almost strange how few children we see. I’ve heard a few theories about why and I’m not sure how many are true. All I know is that people stop to talk to Lu + Stella everywhere we go :)

7. There’s an obvious language barrier. It’s funny how simplest things become a lot more complex when you don’t know the language. Can you imagine walking into a store with only foreign labels?? Or trying to find a bathroom (“bagno”) and then realizing you don’t know how to say it? Or you need an ambulance but you have NO IDEA who or how to call. There are so many things you take for granted that you just don’t know when you move to a foreign country.

8. We’re living on a military base for the first time ever. And it’s honestly not bad. I’ve heard all the horror stories but I really love where we live. There are parks on every corner, the houses are spacious with high ceilings, and there’s a little daycare spot at the community center. There are also basketball/tennis courts and a SKATING RINK (ordering my roller blades right after this LOL). Plus we’ve already made friends in the community - we’re planning a trip with another family two weekends from now!

Fontana dell’Elefante in Catania

Which brings me to my favorite thing about Sicily …

9. There are a ton of travel opportunities! We’ve already been to Siracusa, Taormina, Motta, Catania, Brucoli, and Isola Bella. We’ve seen ruins, castles, and the bluest water I’ve ever seen. And there are still so many other places to see and things to do - not just in Sicily but also the rest of Italy/Europe. Here are a few photos from local places we’ve been exploring:

Day trip to Siracusa
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Day trip to Isola Bella
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Narrow streets in Siracusa
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Cupola Badia Di S. Agata in Catania
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City views in Siracusa

It’s honestly breathtaking here! And we’ve had so much fun traveling with the girls. Stella is always up for whatever and Luna was literally skipping for joy when we visited Fontana dell’Elefante (did you see the pictures above? They’re the ones where she’s wearing a striped shirt!).

Anyway, I’m sure there are a few more things I meant to talk about. But that’s all I can think of for now! And I guess what I’m trying to say is … life is different in Sicily. We miss our family + friends back home a TON but also … we kinda love it here :)

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With love,

Lace + co.

P.S. Are you PCSing to Sigonella?! Let’s connect using #sigonellmoms!

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50 Fun & Romantic Date Ideas

Over the weekend, Kris and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary!

(I spent a whole day telling people it was this coming Tuesday before I realized I had the date wrong …. whoops!!)

Anyway….

For our anniversary, my mom offered to watch the kids while we escaped for the weekend. So we left them behind, hopped in the car, and drove down to the beach just the two of us.

It’s been forever since we went on a real date so we had a *lot* to catch up on. We played laser tag, went to a hockey game, and caught a live comedy show. We took TWO naps and ate the best pizza I’ve ever had in. my. life. And that’s just a few of the things we did!

After 4 years of marriage, I’ll be honest - I kind of forgot how much fun dates are! But our weekend away got me thinking about all the other dates I still want to go on (plus a few I want to go on again!). Here’s what I came up with:

+ go to an escape room

+ ride in a hot air balloon

+ light a bonfire & roast marshmallows

+ lie under the stars in the middle of a field

+ take a ballroom dancing class (the choreography to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” video = *so* romantic!)

+ rent a jet-ski

+ play laser tag

+ watch a live comedy show

+ karaoke at a bar full of strangers

+ have a picnic wherever (by the lake, in a meadow, on the living room floor)

+ try a new restaurant

+ take a nap

+ road trip together

+ attend a murder mystery dinner

+ attend trivia night

+ spend a day at the lake

+ go to a hockey game

+ sign up for a couples massage

+ make it a group date and go bowling

+ visit a chocolate factory

+ go to a lantern festival

+ watch a live band

+ soak in a hot tub surrounded by candles

+ go ice skating

+ pick apples at the orchard

+ pick strawberries at the patch

+ see a magic show

+ go to a carnival

+ sign up for a food tour

+ take a limo to a 5-star restaurant

+ visit Broadway on Tour

+ hold hands on the boardwalk

+ sign up for a cooking class

+ make a handwritten bucket list together

+ daydream about your future house together while wandering through Pottery Barn

+ play Twister

+ get tickets to Cirque du Soleil

+ arrange a surprise romantic dinner (candles, ice water in a glass bottle, background music)

+ wander through a new city

+ roam through a bookstore

+ try couples yoga

+ dance in the dark to a Bryan Adams song

+ draw portraits of each other (Kris and I did this once and I could not. stop. laughing!)

+ bury a time capsule together

+ create a romantic scavenger hunt for your partner

+ attend a masquerade ball

That’s it for now! What are some of your bucket list dates? Or the most romantic date you’ve ever been on?! Tell me about it in the comments!

With love,

Lace

P.S. This list actually only has 45 ideas BUT 50 Fun Dates sounded better, ha! So I’ll be adding a few more soon :) Also, the photograph on this page was taken by Sharon Ashlie Photography in North Carolina - she’s one of my absolute favorite photographers!

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Top 3 Money-Saving Apps

The holidays are almost here!

I have so many fun gift ideas and can’t wait to knock out my shopping list! But (like most people) I’m also trying to save money where I can …

Apps are the perfect way to do it - and there are actually a ton out there! I’d love to use them all but honestly, who has time for that?! Instead, I stick to my 3 favorites: Ibotta, Walmart Mobile, and Ebates. (Wait!!! Keep scrolling to access my referral codes and we’ll *both* get EXTRA CASH BACK when you sign up!)

They’re easy to use, don’t take a lot of time, and actually give cash/store credit back for every single purchase. And the best part? They’re all completely FREE! Just download them to your phone to get started :)

EBATES

Ebates is BY FAR my favorite money-saving app. Participating stores offer a percentage cash back on all purchases made through the app. For example, today Amazon is offering 5% cash back - but I’ve seen it as high as 20%! I’ve been using Ebates for two years every time I shop online. Every few months, I get a check in the mail with my cash back (sometimes $50+) - it’s that simple!

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR EBATES AND WE’LL BOTH EARN A REFERRAL BONUS WHEN YOU USE MY EMAIL LACEANDLU@OUTLOOK.COM!!!)


WALMART MOBILE APP

The Walmart Mobile App offers a lot of fun features but my favorite is the Savings Catcher! Just scan your receipt within 3 days of making a purchase. If a local retailer has a lower price advertised for any of your items, Walmart will refund you the difference on an e-giftcard … GENIUS!!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WALMART MOBILE APP!


IBOTTA

Ibotta is the first money-saving app I ever downloaded. It’s a great way to earn cash back on things you already buy (like groceries, apparel, etc) and you’d be surprised how much that cash adds up!

Use referral code QCIONMC and we’ll *both* get extra cash back when you sign up!!


Whats your favorite app for saving money? If you have other suggestions, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

With love,

Lace

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6 Tips for When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

It makes me laugh writing this post because I get overwhelmed all. the. time. Some days I’m at a breaking point and it’s not even lunchtime yet!

As a stay-at-home mom, somebody always needs something from me. I’m changing diapers, picking up toys, making meals, doing the zillionth load of laundry, giving baths and wiping tears, scrubbing spit-up out of the carpet … I’m also trying to run a blog, be a good wife, and find time to eat something/wash my hair every now and then. And that’s just the everyday stuff on my list!

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I’m not sharing this post because I never feel overwhelmed. I’m sharing it because there are things that help on those *really* hard days - and sometimes I’m just too stressed out in the moment to remember them. I’m hoping it will help me to write them down - and maybe it’ll help you, too :) Here goes:

Give yourself a Time Out

Even adults need to regroup sometimes. Take a minute to clear your head and put things into perspective. Ask yourself: Is it really THAT big of a deal? Will it matter in a year, or next month, or even tomorrow? Is it worth giving up my sanity/happiness over? If not, then try to let it go.

(I had to remember this recently when Luna poured milk allllllll over the coffee table. She was trying to make chocolate milk by herself and my brain was just like “noooooo!” Then I realized that a) it was an accident, b) she’s becoming more independent which is a GOOD thing and c) it really wasn’t that big of a deal. So instead of freaking out like a crazy person I gave her a high five … and a wet paper towel to clean up the mess!)

Cut your To Do List in half

Realistically, it’s not all getting done today anyway. Focus on tasks that are really urgent/important and leave the rest until tomorrow. Or cross things off altogether. Am I ever going to shampoo all the carpets in my house? Probably not, which is why it isn’t on my list anymore :)

Do a quick clean

Take 10 minutes to straighten your house, wash dishes, and toss in a load of laundry. *Everyone* functions better in a clean space.

Focus on things you can control

There are some things you just can’t change no matter how much you try. Take them out of the equation … then focus your efforts on the things you can control. You’ll feel a lot less helpless and a lot more confident in your own ability to get things done.

Ask for help

I’m convinced that 95% of the times I’ve felt overwhelmed could have been avoided by asking for help. Trust me, I *know* it’s hard. But you’re not an island - you can’t do everything on your own all the time. So accept help when it’s offered and ask for it when you need to!

Learn to say “No”

If you really don’t have the time or energy, give yourself permission to say “no”. In the end, you don’t actually have to do all the things. Just the ones that really matter.

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With love,

Lace


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Cozy Fall Fashion for Toddler Girls

It finally feels like fall around here!

It’s crazy how fast it happened. One day we were running around in shorts and tees and the next it was practically freezing outside … which of course was the exact moment I realized I didn’t have ANY warm clothes for Luna!

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Target is *usually* my go-to store for toddler clothes. Even though it’s an hour away, I packed up the kids and we headed in that direction. But for some reason I couldn’t find anything that I loved there. Maybe it’s because Lu was really energetic by that point - she kept grabbing things off racks saying “this is SO cute!” faster than I could get them back on!

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Thankfully, Old Navy was only a few miles away … and their selection was a lot more my style! I loved how all the clothes coordinated without being too matchy matchy.

BUT … I forgot that Old Navy doesn’t have carts, ugh! So while Luna had the best time running through the racks, I was stuck lugging Stella around in her infant car seat which was definitely a mom fail moment. I actually overheard (not one) but TWO other moms telling their toddlers how good they were being after passing us! I felt like such a bad mom in that moment. It’s funny now but I wish those moms had been a little nicer. I mean, we’ve ALL had days like that, right?! Where our toddlers are out of control but we *really* need to get things done? But it also reminded me that kindness is everything. So if you see a mama looking way in over her head, I hope you’ll offer to help her out - I know I will!

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Anyway, we walked away with a few cute pieces and then I ordered more online (I got an extra EIGHT PERCENT cash back using the Ebates app!!). We’ve already gotten SO many compliments on her new looks - now it has me thinking that I need to snag a few things for myself from there!

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What are your favorite places to shop for toddler clothes? Or for yourself?! Leave me some recommendations in the comments!

With love,

Lace

P.S. Shop the looks here!:


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