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Coffee Talk 03.12.23

outfit details

Good morning on this Daylight Savings weekend! I’m never a big fan of Daylight Savings, as I’m a morning person, but I have to admit, it does make spring feel a little bit closer… even though it’s only 29 degrees here this morning and we had snow flurries yesterday.

I’ve learned from living the past 27 years in the northeast that I should never get excited about spring until at least May, so we have a ways to go. And that is why I planned another trip to Florida! I’m going down this week for a few days to soak up some sun… and shoot outfit pictures, of course.

So this has a been a busy week, trying to get ready for that, plus my daughter was home from college on Spring Break, so I wanted to spend some time with her.

And speaking of travel plans… We recently decided to plan a family trip to Italy this summer. You may remember that Paul and I missed out on a trip to Paris to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary back in May of 2020, and we just never felt like the time was right to reschedule that.

Now we are in a different place in life with our kids and life in general, so we decided to plan a family trip, and we honed in on Italy for various reasons, but my point in sharing is this…

I’m feeling a bit of a time crunch to get this all planned, as it seems like everyone and their brother is traveling to Europe this summer, and things are filling up. I have no experience traveling in Europe, and Paul hasn’t been since he was in college. Plus, we’re a family of 5, which is kind of an awkward number for travel, and one has Celiac Disease.

All that to say, I really need someone to help us with the planning, and I’m hoping one of you might be able to recommend a custom travel planner who specializes in Italy. If so, feel free to comment here, or email me. Thank you SOOOO much!

In other news, today is the last day of the Nordstrom Bonus Points Event, so I quickly wanted to share a few things I just got in that I’m really happy with. I will be doing a full review on these items in my next try-on haul, but in the meantime…

These cargo pants are really good – soft and stretchy and comfortable. They’re sort of a cross between a crop flare and wide leg crop pant. They could be nice for casual work wear environments, or they make a nice denim alternative for everyday. (Size down if in between; I’m in the 6.)

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And my favorite spring/summer jacket is BACK this season in a gorgeous new shade of green they’re calling Cactus. (It also comes in a pretty bright pink.)

I had the chestnut color last fall and the coral color last spring, and both were included in my 22 favorite outfits from 2022. (They’re #4, #12, and #13, if you want to take a look!)

This jacket adds the perfect finishing touch to a casual denim look, and they usually sell out quickly, so if you like it, I would grab one now.

They are sort of cropped and fitted, so I ordered the small and medium to compare, and I ended up keeping the small. It fits perfectly over a lightweight tee or tank, but I wouldn’t be able to wear it over anything bulkier.

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Also, these sandals are part of the Nordstrom bonus points, and they’re on a major markdown. And this top is only $29, but it’s LOFT, not Nordstrom. I love these mixed media tops; I always grab one or two for spring/summer. This year I grabbed the pink floral and this pretty medallion print.

outfit details

There’s so much more, but I’m out of time this morning. I’ve got to get my daughter on the road back to college and then head out for church, but I did a big post with a bunch of shopping widgets. In case you missed it yesterday, you can check that out here: Nordstrom Bonus Points Event.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

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46 Responses

  1. Shay Shull or Erica Slaughter at Mix and Match Travel Agency. They are both bloggers from McKinney, Texas.

      1. I was going to suggest them too! One of Shay’s daughters has Celiac, so she will know which way to point you. They focus on Disney & European vacations.

    1. Great choice!! Check out mix and match travel agency or mix and match mama both are on instagram! You can also email the agency. Shay’s oldest daughter has the same disease & they travel all over. Great resource for you!

  2. Oh a family trip to Italy….what a wonderful way to make some lifetime family memories. I’m in the midst of planning a trip to Germany this summer and you are correct in saying it’s overwhelming. (And flights are crazy expensive) Even with a good planner (in my case I’m doing it all myself) get a good Rick Steves guide book…so well written and helpful as well as his travel forums online. You can ask questions and get very helpful answers and just read others questions and answers. Just Google Rick Steves Italy forum.
    As for Paris…please put it back on your future travel plans…maybe for your 30th? It’s a beautiful city…maybe my favourite

  3. Yeah to Italy! My husband & I are going in May for 3 weeks. 30th wedding anniversary trip. I found a travel agent, told her we wanted to eat, drink & sightsee all across the country. We are flying into Venice & flying home from Rome. Agent booked our flights, hotels & train tickets. Check out visitacity.com, It’s full of tours you can book yourself. Also, Anthony Tucci, from The Devil Wears Prada, has a series on Netflix that will really get you excited about Italian food.
    Also, how do you like the Paige wide leg crop jeans? They look amazing on you!

  4. We are also a family of 5 going to Italy (Rome, Florence, & Sorrento) for two weeks in June.

    Join the Italy Planning FB group. So much helpful info. I’m planning our trip myself but I started last August. Wise idea to get help from an agent.

    I’m thrilled because this will mean you will be looking for outfits to wear in the very hot weather. The Vaticab requires knees and shoulders be covered. The shoulders are easy enough with a shawl but I’m looking for a midi or maxi dress that will pack well.
    You will be too so post options!

  5. A friend’s daughter has severe gluten allergy and enjoyed tons of GF pasta in Italy! She said they had no problem finding something she could eat. There is an app Find Me Gluten Free and it has reviews and ratings to find good, safe food. I use it when traveling.

      1. Jo-Lynne. Read the article I linked in my comments below. It explains WHY Italy is GF friendly. And point you to a great App that’s inexpensive for dealing with doing GF in Italy.

  6. So awesome you all are going to Italy! Our July 2020 trip was canceled and we haven’t rescheduled yet. College, jobs, family comm are tough to plan around. We have said November 2024 is THE time though. Join the Italy Travel Panning FB group and sign up for Katy from Untold Italy emails. She has all sorts or itineraries and great tips and ideas. So happy for you and I can’t wait to follow along!! Ciao!

  7. Grace Roth at ABC World Vacations. We’ve just used her to plan our family trip to Italy. She came personally recommended by many people in my town. It was too overwhelming for us to do the planning ourselves! She’s found us loads of great walking tours and guided tours – we’re a family of four with older teens.

  8. Oh how exciting Jo-Lynne. When you had said last week you had some exciting news, my first thought was you and Paul rebooked your Paris trip. I was close. I think you made a great decision. Your kids will only be available to all go so long and you and Paul will have many years to go just the two of you anywhere. I got overwhelmed thinking of you planning a trip that far for 5. Lol. I know I’d need help with it. Glad you are looking for a travel agent. With all my food allergies we haven’t traveled far for so long, but my son and his wife went to Italy and Greece and she is gluten intolerant and she said people were telling her to try the pasta as it’s so clean she won’t have trouble. She was brave and did and said she was ok with no stomache issues, but didn’t push it and have daily. I know you can’t do this with Becca and celiac, but I’m thinking if their grains are so pure to make homemade pasta, they will be able to accommodate with gluten free pasta too and do good on no cross contamination. I think you should get Rick Steve’s book. My friend plans all her trips with his suggestions etc. It’s going to be a wonderful trip with family memories. I can’t wait to see your pictures. Have fun in Florida. Will you see Cyndi? I think she said she was going this week. I love you in the wide leg jeans in this post. I just don’t think I can pull the look off. I’m not tall enough…..just would shorten my legs but I’ll never say never. Happy Sunday.

  9. How exciting! I can’t wait to see your pics… although I hope you just get to enjoy the moment with the family! Those times are precious and few and far between as they age.
    Enjoy planning:)

  10. I highly recommend Sarah Murdoch from Adventures with Sarah (adventureswithsarah.net). She is a former Rick Steves tour guide for 20+ years and specializes in Italy, and helped write some of his guide books. Since the pandemic she started her own tour company where she does group tours, personal tours, and travel planning (Europe, Asia, and beyond). She has two teen age boys who frequently travel with her so she is well familiar with making things interesting for families and that age group. You also find her on Facebook and Youtube. Happy travels!

    1. Totally agree, Adventures with Sarah is great. She was our tour guide several years ago. She has helpful tips on her YouTube about packing too. Rick Steves is always a good choice too. I’ve heard them recommend hiring a local tour guide for a more personal experience. And, based on our own experience, I highly recommend travel insurance. So exciting!

  11. I heard from a local bakery that uses unprocessed flour that many with celiac disease are able to eat their regular breads, even though they do also have gluten free products. They told me in Europe the flours they use in baking aren’t as processed as here so many who need gluten free are able to eat breads and pasta there. Might be worth researching.

  12. So exciting! Check out Rick Steeves for sure! I bought his France guide last year when planning our trip. I just started planning a trip for Ireland in late July and feeling like I should’ve committed to it last fall as, like you said, things are booking up! We want to take both our sons with us and so the cost of everything doubles too since we have to get multiple hotel rooms, bigger rental car, etc… With your large family consider bringing carry-on only (or at least have your kids do that so you don’t have to lug around too much). The Amalfi coast is gorgeous!

  13. Alexis Salerno at Alexis With Wishful Wanderings Travel. She’s been a GF blogger for several years, sharing restaurant recommendations and recipes but became a travel agent a few years ago. She’s been a lot of places including Italy and has lots of knowledge of travel and navigating the GF diet there.

  14. I didn’t have a good experience with Mix and Match travel. It was one of our least favorite vacations.

    I recommend finding someone who specializes in Italy.

  15. Hi Jo-Lynne,

    I don’t have a travel agent to recommend, but I will let you know that my friend’s husband has Celiac and they traveled for 3 weeks in Italy last summer. She shared that Italy is the best place to eat for those with Celiac because for some reason that’s a common disease in Italy. They had no trouble in restaurants and his eating restrictions were happily accommodated. Enjoy your trip!

    Best,
    Karen

  16. A trip to Italy – awesome! I spent two weeks in Italy many years ago, but loved it. The people were friendly and the food was delicious! We used a travel agent when we went to Paris in 2019 and she was fabulous! Her name is Nan Gatlos with World Travel in Gilbertsville. Phone 610 367 9390. We did everything by phone or email and only had to make the trip to Gilbertsville once to pick up our tickets. She had great options for us and we actually flew out of Newark as it was a lot cheaper. Good luck. I know it is nerve wracking!

  17. I’m very excited for you and your family! My husband and I are headed to Italy at the very end of August for 11 days, so I’ll be looking forward to reading about any planning that you care to share, and about your experience overall.

  18. Jo-Lynne, a dear friend of mine has an online travel agency. Patti has travelled the world and is really good at what she does. She’s organized, efficient, and has a heart of gold. Here is her email address [email protected] as well as her website https://www.millsroyluxurytravel.com.

    Like you, Patti blogs and sends out weekly newsletters.

    Patti became GF decades ago so she definitely can help you out there as well.

    Italy is beautiful and so many things to see. I have been there twice (another friend was born there) and plan to go back. Amalfi Coast is a must as is Pompeii.

  19. Mix and Match Travel Agency in McKinney, TX would be a great choice to contact for your trip planning. The owner, Shay Shull, even has a daughter who has Celiac too. I think the website is mixamdmatchtravelagency.com or just Google it if that’s wrong,

  20. Enjoy Italy! We honeymooned for 5 weeks there. Sienna, Luca and Cinque Terra were our favs. Try to stay on the main high speed trains. The smaller regional trains are reaaaaallly slow and broke down often….. 8 hrs to do a 250 km journey south from Naples. Still remember that trip journey yrs later. Bring comfortable supportive shoes. Walking on cobblestones all day is fatiguing on your ankles.

  21. Devika Saletore ([email protected]) coordinated our trip to Italy. We had the best time. She matched everything up with all our wants and needs. Check with her before booking airports because she may advise you to fly into one and out of another :). Have fun!

  22. MMM travel agency seems to go to places but outside of eating and walking…I don’t know. They went to Aulani and rarely left the property. I’d match yourself with a travel agency that is more aligned to what you and your family want to do and experience. Do you want to go to three cities and immerse yourself in their culture than I’d find another travel agency. If you want to visit 12 cities in 14 days then MMM is the travel agency for you.

  23. If you are a AAA member I would highly recommend that you take advantage of their travel planning services. You can schedule a face to face meeting with a local agent or do it over the telephone. I work for AAA and can confidently say that the travel service is exceptional

  24. We have planned an Italy trip with 2 other couples for the end of July. The trip was planned by Concierge Travel:
    http://www.conciergetravelinc.com
    (610)329-9044
    Pattie Cooney

    She did a great job planning the trip to include Florence, Rome and Sorrento. The trip includes a cooking class, vineyard tour, small group tours.

  25. Not sure that you would need a travel agent for Italy, it’s not that complex just a matter of researching and booking. Prioritise the places you really want to see and then arrange an order that reduces backtracking. I definitely prefer northern italy, especially if you are travelling in summer. There is so much to see and it is all so marvelous it is kind of hard to go wrong.

  26. Hi Jo-Lynne,
    I know you probably have all the information you were asking people to email you. I’m curios where in Europe you will be going to? We have been quite a few times and also have gone in the summer many times. You will have a blast!
    I like the jacket, and it’s perfect for spring.

      1. Florence is one of our favorites, and we have been there three times. The food, the shopping and not to mention the culture!! I found a leather store and they actually put a permanent stamp inside my leather handbag with my initials. A lot to see and do. Rome is also amazing. The Vatican was unbelievable and the colosseum was absolutely breath taking. Be careful in Rome for pick pockets. I always keep my handbag in the front of my body.
        You are going to have a fabulous time!!

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