I just got a ticket home to Ohio for Thanksgiving…

2013 thanksgiving in ohio

….which makes me all excited to see my family (of course), eat amazing food (I heart Thanksgiving turkey and the million side dishes and PIE), but really I’m so stoked to see ALL THE BARN CATS at my great aunt & uncle’s farm! 3-2-1 cute kitten overload!

2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
*This one didn’t look so happy.
2013 thanksgiving in ohio
*Definitely not!

But, boy, I can’t wait.

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New Moon in Libra

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My co-worker’s wife is very into astrology and yesterday told my co-worker to tell me that tomorrow (today) is a very important day for the Libra. The year’s only new moon in my sign is today, and the next corresponding full moon in Libra occurs on April 4, 2015, which is also a total eclipse. Whoa. So the next six months are very powerful; today is sort of my celestial New Year according to the AstrotwinsΒ (love this site).

Unfortunately, most people are super sick on campus, so today I’m armed with my homemade “spa” water (water with mint and lemon), Vitamin C, and echinacea.

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In other random news, I’ve just started reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. It’s a young adult fantasy book Β – which I haven’t read in a while! -about a young assassin in some mythical kingdom. I work with a professor whose wife is a middle school librarian and she is currently reading this series. I usually love all of her book recommendations, so I checked it out of the library the other day.

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Apple picking @ Shelburne Orchards

Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards
Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards
Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards
Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards
Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards
Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards
Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards
Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards
Apple Picking @ Shelburne Orchards

The day started off gloomy and rainy, but by the time the students and I got to Shelburne Orchards it was – HELLO – so beautiful outside. We picked Fuji and McIntosh and ate our fair share off the trees (I eat like three apples a day during apple season, easily). The only downside was that they were out of apple cider doughnuts. Still. This is one of my favorite times of year in Vermont.

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BE 100 FD #100!

BE MY 100 from DANIEL CASTRO PHOTOGRAPHY on Vimeo.

One of my favorite blogs is having a contest for her #100th date! Enter and hopefully you’ll win if you are so lucky. I’ve had coffee in person in NYC with this badass lady, and let me tell you, she’s a dream. Deadline: October 15th!

P.S. Partnered? I have another contest for you! Jen and I keep trying for REI’s Travel Sweepstakes. I enter every.single.day. for the trip to Peru.

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Allison’s visit to Vermont

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My sister’s first visit to Burlington in almost five years! It’s mostly pictures of my sister Allison, my cat Merlin, and/or food! I whined to Allison that no one took pictures of me, and then she kept taking them and they looked so terrible, I told her to just stop trying. Haha! But we had such a lovely time, and I keep hounding her to come back soon.

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Before she arrived I made a batch of Serious Eats The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. A new chocolate chip cookie recipe for me, which is a rare thing and gets me all cookie nerd excited inside. This recipe called for browned butter! Very caramelized in taste and chewy in texture, but my friends like my NYT Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe better.

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I had to work most days, so Allison walked all over town with her Fitbit. One day she walked from campus to North Beach (which equated to like a half-marathon that day), so after work, I brought Allison down a warm chocolate chip cookie to the beach. #bigsisterbonuspoints

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I also made a huge pot of homemade spaghetti sauce for a pan of my mom’s lasagna right before Allison flew in and we ate the ENTIRE PAN of lasagna over the week. We’d usually go out to eat, go do something until late at night, then come home and heat up lasagna, while watching episodes of Portlandia in bed. It was so fun, but I don’t need any lasagna for a while…

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Other good eats – Burlington Bay breakfast sandwich!

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Anything at Mirabelle’s. Allison got the popovers she’s always been wanting.

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Early bird dinner @ Leunig’s on Church Street.

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Beer, bed, cat.

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$5 wine night at Oak 45 in Winooski –> the prettiest wine bar in town.

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My all-time favorite Burlington lunch: City Market’s North Country sandwich with Cape Cod chips, apple, and Honest Tea’s Moroccan Mint!

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El Cortijo margaritas and tacos.

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Free Ben & Jerry’s at the South End Art Hop. It was about 90 degrees that day, so this was an epic free treat.

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Iced coffee & apple cider doughnut at South End Kitchen.

Allicat!
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One day we drove out to the swimming holes in Bristol and Warren. It’s so beautiful and different looking from Burlington out there – pretty dreamy.

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Besties. He enjoyed having her just as much as I did.

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iPhone Gifs, my world’s been changed.

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Did you know that you can send GIFS over iPhone messenger?!?!?!?!

Allison and I just figured out how to do it last night (um, copy and then paste) and our world’s been changed. We can’t stop. I’m so over emojis now. Last night we were out at El Cortijo and I think we annoyed ourΒ waitress with all our gif giggling.

Some of our favorites from Portlandia (Allison feels like she’s living in an episode up here in Burlington) and Reddit.

 

 

 

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Beach house in Sampieri

Beach house @ Sampieri

My first breakfast in Sicily, that’s espresso and almond milk granita eaten al fresco with a plate of fresh brioche buns.

Yo, I lived la dolce vita for exactly five days. Everyone kept asking why I was only there for such a short time. I DON’T KNOW?! Reality is cruel. In an alternate universe, if Americans had off all of August, I’d have stayed longer. Sicily is spectacular.

I flew from Dublin into Catania – there’s a direct flight! – and explored the city of Catania in the morning with my friend Lisa and her uncle Aldo before we drove to meet her aunt Mira at their beach house in Sampieri. I couldn’t get over Catania’s fresh produce at the market.

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

Post granita, we drove down to Sampieri. I had no idea where this was, and it’s basically this tiny beach town in the very southern spot of Sicily, across from Malta and Tunisia. It already sounds awesome, right? I thought so too. And then I arrived and saw THE VIEW of the Mediterranean. Their adorable cat. The hibiscus flowers. I was like, whoooooaaaaaa, sensory overload. This is all too cool.

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

Mira and Aldo’s house is also very artsy and I was essentially obsessed with everything, down to their hand-made raku ceramic towel-rod holders in the bathrooms and the mosaics on their walls.

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

Lisa and I slept here!

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

Shortly after arriving Mira, Lisa, and I went the beach AND to the market (love a double market day). I laughed at the pasta aisle at the grocery store: SO MUCH PASTA.

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

The next few days had a similar routine: wake up, read a little outside, drink espresso, maybe grab a granita, go to the beach.

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

Head home – 1:30ish – for a big lunch. (I’ve never eaten so well for lunches in my life.)

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

Then we’d relax and go on an afternoon excursions, gorgeous old cities like Scicli or Modica or places with ancient Roman ruins. I MEAN…and I’d usually eat gelato somewhere in there everyday. One afternoon, we also saw a proposal on the steps of a beautiful church. He had set up a little table on the steps outside, complete with flowers and wine. It was soooooo romantic.

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

*Lisa and I look so weird and creepy here – we are literally posing in a tomb that Aldo thought would make for a neat photo opportunity.

Then we’d have a late dinner and drink bitters with their friends – usually Sergio, who was absolutely hilarious, would stop by. Lisa would laugh because I was NOT used to staying up so late. I needed a few more days to get on the night owl routine! I think this explains why I have no dinner food photos? At all. And the dinners….oh the dinners. The creamy ricotta, salty olives, sweet tomatoes, pastas, grilled vegetables, and wine. The wine was homemade, as was the olive oil, so I’d pretty much drink wine at every meal and drizzle everything in this delectable oil which Aldo had in a barrel in the dining room.

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

On Sunday we went to the festival of St. Sebastiano, or what Lisa dubbed as the Naked Baby Festival. He’s the patron saint of Palazzolo Acreide. I can’t even describe this properly, and I could look up the actual religious description (but I don’t feel like it, or care to). It’s more fun to tell you how crazy it was as a bystander who knew nothing of what was going on – the church pretty much exploded with confetti for a full ten minutes and then people handed guys standing on a Jesus statue their naked babies to hold up in the air. Afterwards, we all went out for pasta and wine.

Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri
Beach house @ Sampieri

On my last night, there was a super moon. My camera couldn’t capture it’s amazingness – okay, lunar photography just continues to elude my photography skills even after I spent a good amount of time dragging tables and boxes and rocks out on the patio for height/camera stability and playing with a variety of ISO/aperture/shutter speeds – but I think you get the gist of its loveliness. Much like my blogging can’t really capture all the loveliness of Sicily.

Beach house @ Sampieri

Lisa’s aunt and uncle were the most incredible, sweetest, coolest hosts ever. It made me want to learn Italian and go back again and maybe never leave. I think Lisa’s onto something here!

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