Italy {Bellagio and Off To Florence}

I have loved looking through my Italy Instagram photos for these posts.

I didn’t pick up my camera very often and I have to admit that using mainly my phone made me enjoy the moments more.

I want to make a book with all of the Italy Instagram photos and I will let you know what company I go with (and how it turns out).

We are now on days 5, 6, 7 and 8.

You can read about the previous days HERE and HERE.

On day 5 Kelly and I started it with a cappuccino in the beautiful breakfast room of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni.

I loved that we had our own routine and even the waiters knew us each morning.

Teresa Collins taught a scrapbook journal class and I later taught a painting class.

It was a full day of creating!

After class Kelly and I headed to the pool for a few hours before we met up with everyone at dinner.

We had a beautiful meal on the patio of Restaurante Bilacus.

{on Instagram everyone teased that this looked like a scene from a soap opera}

As you can tell our group got along VERY well!

The next morning we all met bright and early for a day excursion to Como.

I enjoy the smaller villages around the lake more than the larger city of Como but it was full of beautiful images that I couldn’t stop wanting to capture.

{I even found an art supply shop}

I stopped to see George on our way back to Bellagio and he sends his love:-)

I was so tired from the day of walking all over Como and then the long ferry ride put me right to sleep.

Once we arrived back in Bellagio we were enjoying an afternoon rain.

That evening I had an amazing dinner all alone with my boyfriend.

It was so nice to have the quiet of the evening together to just talk about this incredible area and our dreams to come back with our children.

The next day started off with the last class by Teresa Collins and the afternoon was spent at the beach.

I still can’t believe I captured this photo of Kelly diving into Lake Como.

This has to be framed and saved forever!

You couldn’t have paid me to dive into water where I can’t see the bottom.


The grand finale of the retreat was dinner at Mistral.

Every thing was so beautifully presented and the ice cream make using liquid nitrogen was awesome!

As cappuccinos were being served they asked us to come outside for a surprise.

We all made our way to the pergola overlooking Lake Como.

Waiting for us was the men’s choir of Bellagio and they gave us a concert in Italian.

It was the perfect ending to one of the most incredible experiences.

That night as we climbed into bed it was sad to know that it was over.

We were also excited though because the next morning a new adventure would begin for just the two of us….

We were off to Florence!

{Registration is now open for Laura’s retreat next year along Lake Como}

Flashback Friday {Inspired: What Katie Ate}

{Originally posted on January 31, 2011}

About a month ago my friend Kim shared a website with me that I had never seen.

What Katie Ate is a foodie blog by Katie Quinn Davies.

From the moment I saw it I was mesmerized.

In fact, I wanted to live in the blog and perhaps roll around naked in a few of the recipes.

I do not regulary photograph food…but the way she stages and photographs will inspire you no matter what you love to shoot through the lens.

Everything from the very original way she shares her recipes to the typography she chooses.

I ooh and aah through every post and it makes my mind go a mile a minute with so many new ideas for my own line of clothing and art.

Isn’t that amazing how that works!

I can look at beautifully photographed food and it gives me ideas for photographing my own lines of clothing and ways I want to express myself on my blog.

One of the best pieces of practical advice that I heard while at Alt was to look outside your area of expertise or knowledge for inspiration.

That doesn’t mean copy…it means find things that INSPIRE!

Inspired ideas are those beautiful ideas that open your  mind and heart to all of the original ideas inside yourself.

Where are you finding inspiration lately?

Living Beyond Happiness {Reaching For The Joy}


{image found HERE}

I hear it all of the time…

You deserve to be happy

I deserve to be happy

If I only had xyz… I would be happy

It is not that happy is a bad word.

I just know that there is more!

{image found HERE}

You are surrounded by it every day.

Surrounded by this idea that happy belongs to you and it you aren’t living it every second than you are doing something wrong or you deserve more.

Advertisers try to convince you that with their product you will have happiness.

In my recent Lucky Magazine they actually have a page that says “Fill The Void” and they had little stickies so you could tag everything in the magazine you wanted.

It was a joke..but was it really?

{image found HERE} is happy…what can be so wrong with a word like happy?!

Let’s get something straight before we go any farther…

There is nothing wrong with being happy.

I am not some sad, martyr of a person that loves to revel in my day to day monotony….honest:-)

I just want to suggest that there is something better waiting for you if you sometimes put “happy” aside and reach for the joy instead.

{image found HERE}

When I think of something that makes me happy I think of things that bring be short term happiness.

They are wonderful things and I appreciate them but….

When I think of joy I think of a state of being.  A way that I feel, live, believe, breath…no matter my circumstances.

Stay with me…I swear I will get this out and I hope at the end it makes sense.

{image found HERE}

I sat down with my kids and we all brainstormed some of the times that we chose the thing that brought immediate “happiness” and we wish we wouldn’t have.  We talked about how when you think of yourself and only what you want right now and what will make you happy right now…sometimes there are consequences and they can later rob your joy.

I was surprised how honest they were about their own choices and how they completely understood what I was trying to say.

{image found HERE}

We have also watched a few of our close family friends go through heartbreaking separations/affairs/substance dependence etc. this past year and we have watched daddies (and mommies) leave to be happy…but they don’t seem that happy.  They wanted more.  I know that what they thought they would find if they left…they haven’t found.  They were running after happy when with a little work joy could have been at their doorstep.

It is a healthy person that can prioritize their gifts and needs and do things in their lives that bring happiness and joy.  I am just trying to say where did we ever think we had the “right” to be happy?

To me it is no different than the people that are shocked that life isn’t “fair”.  Who ever told you that one? Sorry to disappoint you but life and fair don’t really go together.

I am a mom of three children, married, homeschool my kids and run a business.

I have to make decisions from the second I wake up (and many days when I am woken up before I am ready) about will I do what I want or do what is the best.

Sometimes that choice can be hard to make and other days it is obvious and easy.

I am a pretty selfish person by nature and I have to fight with myself a lot some days to do better…do more…do what is right.

If you are a mom I know you know this struggle.

If you are a parent I know you know this struggle.

If you are dealing with a sick family member I know you know this struggle.

Heck, if you are alive….I know you know this struggle!

I want to hear about the happiness you sometimes say no to you can live in the joy.

Definition of Happiness:

a pleasurable or satisfying experience

Definition of Joy:

a state of well-being and contentment

Here is the quick list we came up with and I hope you see something you can relate with here.

{image found HERE}

I think that we sometimes forget how much better joy feels than happiness.

I love happy.

I experience it every day.

I do many things for me and I am so thankful for times when I can think just about me and my needs and wants.

That is healthy too.

I hope you know what I am trying to say though.

That shouldn’t be my search.

That shouldn’t be my goal.

Think of all that I would be missing if it were!

I would love to hear your examples of choosing joy.