Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Travel Tuesdays: Not-So-Famous Favorites

Travel Tuesdays

Welcome to my Travel Tuesdays link up! Please link up with me, I love reading about everyone's travel adventures. All I ask is that you link back to the current week's post (this week's link: http://bit.ly/1f5ZjLg if you do decide to link up. Either post a link or use the button above. You don't have to post on Tuesdays. That's just when I'll be posting and opening the week's link up.

One of the questions we're most often asked is: "Where's your favorite place that you've traveled to?" It's a tough question. We've traveled to so many famous and not-so-famous places and we're not even close to being done. But if I'm being honest, my favorite spots are the ones most people have never heard of.

Here are a few of our favorites. These spots are all within a two-hour drive of Aviano AB.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Will still hasn't been, but I loved Ljubljana. It still blows my mind that a whole different country is within a couple hours of where we live. The US is so big, not everyone can just pop over to visit a different country for the day. My friend and I were there for four days and I still could go back and spend more time there. The old historical center is so charming and beautiful. It's not intimidating or overwhelming to walk around and explore.

Trieste, Itay

Trieste, Italy

We visited Trieste back in 2012 and I'm shocked that we haven't been back. Not long after we moved to Italy Trieste was listed as one of Lonely Planet's most underrated European cities to visit. It's right on the water and has two castles and the world's largest tourist cave nearby. We got caught up at Miramare Castle, so we didn't have very much time to explore Trieste. I can guarantee we'll go back one of these days.

Bibione, Italy

Bibione, Italy

The first time we stumbled across Bibione by accident because of an attempt to avoid traffic. The second time I went back with some friends while Will was deployed. It's now my favorite beach spot. Lots of parking, tons of cute shops, and it's not as crowded as some of the other beaches. It turns out, that's where our Italian friends like to go too.

Two of the three were on the water...I guess I have summer on the mind today. Where are your favorite not-so-famous travel destinations? I'd love to hear your spots and add to my wanderlust.

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Handsome Laundry Helper

Will and I are the worst when it comes to doing chores. We wait to do dishes and laundry until we've run out of clean plates and underwear. It's a terrible habit, we know.

We have to go to the laundromat in the middle of the night because we almost always have tons of laundry to wash. Sundays are the worst time to go because everyone's rushing to get their things ready for work or school. Friday and Saturday evenings are the best time because who wants to spend their weekend doing laundry instead of going out?

We went at 4 in the morning and had the place to ourselves...just the way we like it. I think we had 12 washers going. The Kings' outdoor hockey game was on when we got there and the mister got distracted...

I had to scoot the cart around him and he didn't even notice. Eventually he peeled his eyes away from the screen and was genuinely surprised to see all the washers emptied and the dryers going. He made up for it though and helped me fold when everything was done.

This was pretty much the highlight of our weekend. We were planning on doing a day trip, but he had to work on Saturday (ugh, again) and Sunday turned into a lazy movie day. Have you seen Lee Daniels' The Butler? Such a good movie!

By the way, thank you so much for all the prayers and well wishes. My recovery has been textbook...no pain or complications. (If you didn't read about my procedure, catch up here.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Medical Condition

[I apologize ahead of time for misused medical terms. I'm trying to go off memory from what I've learned over the past few years.]

I've waited awhile to write about this because it wasn't something that I really thought about. When we first got to Aviano, I had a pap smear and it came back abnormal. I was referred to the Women's Clinic for a follow up and they determined that I had mild cervical dysplasia. There's really nothing that can be done but watch and wait. I've been going in for pap smears and colposcopies (biopsy of the abnormal tissue) every six months. In the last year, it has progressed from low grade to medium grade bordering on severe. I had the choice to wait and see or get a LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure) done to remove some of my cervix in hopes of getting rid of all the abnormal cells.

Because of the rare, but possible, risk of preterm labor or (even less rare) infertility risks Will and I decided to wait and see. At my last check-in my pap smear came back normal. I thought that my body had naturally corrected itself and I was in the clear! My doctor did another pap smear, colposcopy, and HPV test. My pap smear came back normal again and my HPV test was negative. Unfortunately, the pathology results showed that I still have medium grade dysplasia. It's been over two years since my diagnosis so my doctor wanted to go ahead with the LEEP.

Like I said, I haven't really thought much about my condition because my doctor reassured me that it was no big deal despite the ominous PRE-CANCER label. Even at this point, it's not super serious...it's just that it hasn't resolved itself so we're going to try to remove it. I'm hoping and praying that the LEEP will be the end of it. The bad cells will be removed and that will be that. They'll test the removed tissue and it'll be several weeks before I hear back on the results.

Think positive thoughts for me!

The main reason I wanted to share this on the blog is because of the comments I read on some message boards. Ladies were freaking out and not enough people were reassuring them. I'll admit, I was pretty nervous before today. I had the procedure done this morning and it was not a big deal at all. The numbing shot was the worst part. They used lidocaine and epinephrine. My doctor warned me before we got started that the epinephrine was going to make my heart race and cause some shakiness. That freaked me out more than the procedure. I'm glad I was warned because it's a seriously freaky feeling. But other than that, it was smooth sailing. It also helps that I have an amazing doctor who has a great sense of humor and makes sure to talk me through everything both beforehand and while he's doing it.

If you have any questions or need someone to talk to, feel free to email me (echandwill@gmail.com). It doesn't have to be a scary diagnosis...but it can be if you let yourself think about it too much.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Our Landlord's Birthday

We had big plans to spend the weekend in Salzburg, but there was a DUI and Will's squadron was called in for an extra early morning formation/briefing on Saturday. Boo boo boo. Oh well, I was happy because we were home to watch the Seahawks win the NFC Championship game!!! GO HAWKS! I'm also happy with the Broncos' win. It's going to be a great Super Bowl.

Sunday was our landlord's birthday. As usual, we were handed cups as soon as we walked in the door. This time it was a mix of Prosecco and ginger ale. Sounds weird, but it was good! I had to switch to beer after a couple cups because it was too much sweetness for me. Lunch was gnocci with ragu sauce and pork shoulder.

Instead of cake, Albino cut a birthday strudel. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to him as he doled out servings. Same tune, different language, no candles. They also passed out cookies, tiramisu, and some sort of bar with fruit topping. All amazingly delicious.

At one point, an uptempo song began playing and a couple of the guys began singing along loudly. I didn't think much until it was over. One of the guys turned to us and asked, "You know what the song means?" I shook my head and he smiled. "It talks of mowing the grass on the woman's..." I blurted out, "SHUT UP!" and turned bright red. Everyone in the room looked over and burst out laughing. I turned to one of the women who speaks English for confirmation. She grinned and nodded. The next song was about a guy who meets a girl at a club, takes her to his car to hook up, and a policeman catches them. Turns out, the officer is the girl's dad and the guy has to run for his life. After that, I feel like all the songs on that disc were dirty.

Ech & Will

In the lower left picture, Albino is handing out grappa to everyone. I handed mine off...it's way too intense for me. That stuff is strong. One of the jars has alcohol soaked cherries and the other had raisins. See that sly look on his face? That's his "Shut up and drink it" face. He was specifically trying to get Will drunk because of New Years. He told everyone to make sure Will drinks lots.

We ended up staying over eight hours, we were having so much fun. And really the only reason we left was because we wanted to get a nap in before the game.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What City Should You Live In?

I took that quiz that's been circulating around Facebook...or at least my Facebook feed. Apparently, this is where I belong:

Yay! I do belong in Portland! Of course I was super curious about Will's city so I made him take it too. He picked almost completely different answers and still ended up with Portland as well. At first he jumped up and celebrated. But then he was like, "That doesn't make any sense! I should live in Florida!"

Is it rigged? Probably. I'm sure there are only a handful of cities to choose from. But I'm going to take it as fate.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Coffee Date

I'm linking up with Taking Steps Home & In Its Time today!

Where are you seated (near the counter, near the window, near the door, against the wall, etc.)? I'm at my desk on the first floor, against the wall, and facing the kitchen.

What are you sipping/munching on? I just finished the last of my water. I know I should be sipping on some coffee, but it's almost 2 in the morning here. [I'm on a horrible sleep schedule because I was up all night watching the NFL playoff games last weekend. I figure I'll be up late again this weekend so I didn't bother trying to adjust back to a reasonable bedtime.] I was just getting hungry though. I was debating between a frozen pizza or leftover shrimp pasta.

What do you want to get off your chest first (can be as deep as you want)? Honestly, there's nothing really weighing down on me. Life is so good right now. Other than my anxiety over football, I've been so happy and content lately.

If you could choose anyone (besides us of course) who would you have a coffee with? My best friends from Portland. We rarely get just the four of us together to sit and talk for hours like we used to. It's so rare between family and husbands and busy schedules...not to mention the fact that I live halfway around the world now.

Ech & Will

What is inspiring you lately? As always, my blogger friends. They're all writing and photographing and cooking and creating and running and traveling and conquering the world. They constantly inspire me to be more creative, to make positive changes, and to try new things.

What are your plans after coffee? I would love to clean the house, but my husband is currently on day shift and would give me the look of death if I woke him up. I'll probably eat and Netflix. [I still haven't decided between the pizza or leftovers] I've been getting into Torchwood since I've suspended my watching of Season 7 of Doctor Who. Will got me the collectors set of the series up until the anniversary episode. He's been watching from the start and I figure I'll watch with him instead of going ahead without him. It's slow going though because he works long hours and we have to alternate with Dragon Ball Z. I bought him the series for Christmas and he's trying to make me love it. But yeah...food and Netflix.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Travel Tuesdays: My Favorites

Travel Tuesdays

Welcome to my Travel Tuesdays link up! Please link up with me, I love reading about everyone's travel adventures. All I ask is that you link back to the current week's post (this week's link: http://bit.ly/KaS1fs if you do decide to link up. Either post a link or use the button above. You don't have to post on Tuesdays. That's just when I'll be posting and opening the week's link up.

I don't actually have a Travel Tuesdays post for you today. But I want to share these awesome travel posts with you:

I've been to Seattle many times and have visited the first Starbucks store a few times, but I've never been inside. See Seattle Bloggers' visit: Original Starbucks Store at Pike Place Market

Budapest is on our list of places to see before we leave Europe. I loved reading about Semi-Charmed Kind of Life's time there: Cityscape on Camera: Budapest, Hungary

It's no secret, I'm from Hawaii. So any posts about Hawaii immediately captures my attention. This post by Captain & Clark (aka two of my Tanzania battle buddies) had me itching to do something epic and adventurous. Adventures in Hawaii

Unplugging and spending time with family sounds like all kinds of perfection to me. Check out Take Steps Home's recent family reunion: Trio | in pictures

I'm already dying to visit Boston someday. But the snowy pictures on Jodi Bean's Blog were sprinkles on the cupcake for me. So gorgeous! Snowy Boston

Monday, January 13, 2014


I moved away from Hawaii when I was ten. Ever since then, one of the best parts about coming home was visiting my grandparents. Grandpa would give me an epic hug. It was a long lingering hug filled with intense amounts of love and joy. As he hugged me he would always say, "I love this girl!" When I was a kid, I would wriggle away anxious to run and play with my cousins. But as I got older, I really looked forward to those hugs and I squeezed him back longer.

We all get to know our grandparents in two stages: as a kid and as an adult. I was lucky enough to get to know Grandpa in both stages.

To me, as a kid, he was the bravest man in the world when he rushed in and killed a centipede that had invaded the tent I had made with my sister and cousin in the living room. He wielded his centipede scissors so fearlessly. He was the clean upper all my sodas and juice cans...sometimes while I was still drinking them. If I grumbled at him about my missing can, he'd grumble right back and I'd go get a new drink.

As an adult, he became my favorite person to sit with and talk story. I loved hearing stories about his shipyard days and how he knew he had to get out when they started bringing in computers. I still don't know the whole story about how he met and married Grandma because he was always going off on tangents. Once, he called me when I was living in Portland just to talk story. It was one of those rare times that I didn't have anywhere to be and we talked for over an hour. For the life of me, I can't remember what we talked about for that long. But I remember it being a good conversation and I wasn't in a rush to end it.

I stopped calling my grandparents about five years ago. Their hearing was starting to go and they could never figure out who I was when I called. "Who is this? What? I can't hear you." They'd pass the phone to each other to see if either of them had better luck hearing me as I yelled my name over and over. Finally, Grandpa would laugh and say, "I'm sorry I can't hear you." Then they'd hang up.

So I began writing to them. I wrote letters and sent cards. I told them about my life, my jobs, and what I was up to. I sent them a photo album when my husband and I first got to Italy so they could see our house and where we were living. I have...had...a ritual when I travel[ed]. The first thing I did was search for postcards to send. I wanted them to know that no matter where I was in the world, I was thinking of them. Like I said, it was a ritual...so it's a constant reminder of my loss when I have to stop myself and put one of the postcards back.

My grandpa was so special to me. He saved the best version of himself for his grandchildren and I admired that about him. I have always thought fondly of him and I always will. I wish I could be there to say goodbye to him in person today, but this will have to be my goodbye instead.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The BCS Championship game aired here at 0230 here Tuesday morning. I felt so bad for Will when he found out he went to work at 1700 Monday night. He was stressing about it all weekend, poor guy. He has been a life long fan of Florida State University. Really truly honestly...I didn't even know about FSU until I met him. But we've been following them (and the Ducks) closely ever since we got married.

I didn't realize how much I have come to care about his team. Especially after they outed us at the #2 spot back in October...there was a lot of hate thrown his way for his team. (You remember that angry post I wrote) But it turns out, he has me fully converted into a fan. Not above my beloved Oregon team though.


Thankfully Will was able to get home in time to see the end of the first quarter. And he was disgusted. At halftime he was ready to walk away. He just didn't want to see his team lose like that. But we stuck with them and we were handsomely rewarded. I wish I had videos to see our reactions with that return.

Facebook status

I've never heard Will react like that to any game we've ever watched together. The whole fourth quarter he was pacing and stressing out so hard. I laugh, but I was the same way. My hands were shaking and I felt like I was going to throw up.

And then this happened...

AND IT WAS ALL OVER!!! Not quite...we still held our breaths and screamed at the screen until time expired.

We were exhausted and had stayed up almost 24 hours, but we were so amped up after the game we couldn't sleep. Will is still running around chanting and cheering. As he should.

Regardless of who won that game, it was a good one. Both teams put up a really fun game to watch.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Travel Tuesdays: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Travel Tuesdays

Welcome to my Travel Tuesdays link up! I love reading about everyone's travel adventures. All I ask is that you link back to the current week's post (this week's link: http://bit.ly/1idmANO if you do decide to link up. Either post a link or use the button above. You don't have to post on Tuesdays. That's just when I'll be posting and opening the week's link up.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

I've seen lots of gorgeous pictures of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II on Pinterest and I was really looking forward to walking through the gorgeous stretch of designer shops. In my mind, it was a lot longer/bigger than it is in real life. But it was more beautiful in person than the photos.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Since I was with a bunch of boys, I didn't go into any of the shops. Will actually offered to go with me into Gucci or Prada. But I didn't want the temptation. I have a Gucci and I love it. I thought my dad was crazy for buying me one when I was 18. I was never a girl who loved purses. But my dad has an amazing eye and chose the perfect purse for me. Ever since then, I've secretly wanted another. It's so much money and so frivolous that I can never justify buying one. Will doesn't say no to me very often and I didn't think I had the willpower to not ask him for a new purse if I found one that I loved. He even hinted that he could be persuaded to buy me something. But I did the responsible thing and kept a healthy distance between myself and the stores. I focused on the gorgeous architecture and the colorful mosaics on the floor.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Before we moved on, everyone in the group took their turn spinning on the bull's balls for good luck. You're supposed to plant your heel in the divot and turn three times. I wasn't going to do it because I felt like I was going to be the idiot that fell while trying to spin around. But I was talked into it...and I really did almost fall! I had my Air Force 1's on and they had too much traction on the indent in the ground. It almost stopped me in my tracks as I started spinning. But I caught myself and I got through my turns unscathed. I guess those lucky bull balls worked their charm quickly.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Monday, January 6, 2014

We're Old

Once upon a time, going out at midnight was no big deal. It was later than I usually went out...but midnight wasn't a reason not to go out. But now...now I'm old. Our friend got a gig at a place in Brugnera and we promised we'd show up. He said to show up around 11:30. I guess I wasn't paying attention to that part. On the day of, we had to take a nap. We overslept and didn't get up until midnight. Crap. If it were for a lesser friend, we would have gone back to sleep and apologized later. But we rallied, got all dolled up, and headed out.

dressed up
My handsome man in his new vest

As usual, I forgot to have someone take a picture of us together. I should have. The theme was "Dress to Impress". I was planning on wearing a dress until I realized how cold it was. I was bummed. I love a reason to wear a dress. Oh well, next time.

One of my favorite parts of the night was as we were leaving. Our friend put on a mix of the Cupid Shuffle and he got all the Italians to line up. Even the older guys and the guys who were posted up against the bar joined in. 

dressed up
dressed up
My "I can't believe I'm up this late" face

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year Success!

Do you use slow cooker liners? I love them...when they work. 75% of the time it leaks and I end up having to scrub it out anyway. So frustrating. Anyway, I got some pork shoulder and made BBQ pulled pork in the slow cooker and whipped up some macaroni and cheese. I put out a couple different kind of rolls some hamburger buns to eat with the pulled pork...so good.

We weren't planning on a crazy night, but it kind of turned into one. At first we just had a few drinks/shots while we hung out. Of course a few turned into a few more. By midnight we were still doing well. Then we invited our landlord to come over for a drink. Turns out he was on babysitting duty and had sat at his house all night. So when he came over, he was playing catch up and was such an instigator. Needless to say, we were all hurting in the morning. But it was a really fun night full of great friends and lots of laughs.

New Years fireworks
Coolest thing about our house...fireworks in every direction.
Show #1 was from the west. This was show #2 from the north.

I figure we don't have a lot of nights like that in our future. We have to enjoy them while we can. ...not that I plan on drinking anytime soon. No way. I finally went into the party room today to clean up and it reeked of Jack Daniels. I power cleaned as fast as I could...I had to get out of there asap. Not a happy smell.

I hope 2014 is treating everyone well. I'm so grateful to have had amazing friends to usher in the year with us and a handsome man to make out with at midnight.