Hello From Texas



It has been a busy and eventful summer and I have much to report, but for now, I wanted to drop a quick line from my new home state of Texas!

It has been six days since we rolled into Austin, but we’ve yet to explore much of this great city besides taking multiple trips to IKEA and Target. We’ve spent days rummaging through boxes, building furniture, and trying to add some flare to our cute new home. We are 70% there I would say, but it still feels like we have weeks of work to go.

Our apartment complex sits right on the Colorado River, or Ladybird Lake as it’s called around here, staring straight at the downtown skyline and offering us a river view that can’t be beat.  We are walking distance to some great restaurants and bars, and are just a short car or bike ride away from the city’s best parks and grocery stores. There are a couple of great food trucks parked right next door, one that even sells kale chips and local kombucha. I am grateful for the find as our pantry is pretty desolate and I am always in search for a good snack…

The hubs heads to campus today to nail down school logisitcs before classes start later this month. He’s excited and ready, though I know he is enjoying a few weeks off before his program begins.  Meanwhile, I’m decorating, writing, and actively looking for work. I’m browsing the web and flipping through photos in search for the perfect pictures and artwork to hang on our walls, and reading up on Texas crops learning the dos and don’ts of planting in this incredibly hot state.

We are eager to get out and explore, but I am proud with the amount of work we’ve accomplished thus far. It’s hot here, like 107 degrees at 7:00 at night hot, so I currently don’t have a lot of motivation to head outside. For now, I am enjoying the sunshine through our windows, staying cool with the breeze of a fan, decorating our new space, and making #101 feel more like home.

Until next time!

Cider is one of those things that I can drink during any time of the year. I love it on a brisk, autumn day when the sun is shining but the air is cold. Some of my sweetest memories  drinking cider take place bundled around a campfire surrounded by those that I love. Jacob and I tried many local ciders during our time in Boston as we traveled and explored the quaint and picturesque New England countryside. We tried dry ones, sweet ones, and ones somewhere in between. We tried making our own once with a gallon of juice that we picked up at Whole Foods, and while it tasted more like champagne than cider, it was equally as delicious and perfect on those cold Boston nights.


While drinking cider during the fall might just be my favorite, I really can’t complain about a cold and tart brew in the middle of a warm summer. I like them dry, and not overly sweet, just the right blend to cool me down on a hot summer day.

Several weeks ago when the farmer’s market had just opened for the season, I found hundreds of pounds of beautiful local apples- all marked down to half price. They weren’t really good for eating, but were begging to be used in some way or another. I thought about buying some for pies or some other form of dessert, or maybe to make batches of juice or applesauce. I purchased 25, 25 pounds that is, and awkwardly made my way home. With a large bundle of lemongrass crammed in purse, and 25 pounds of apples filling my market bag, my half mile walk home was much more difficult than my leisurely walk there.

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The hubs came home from fishing and could only laugh at my haul. “What will you do with all of those apples?,” he asked, “Maybe I will make some cider,” I replied. One week later on a cold and dreary Sunday afternoon, we juiced every one of those suckers and threw them in a jug with some yeast. On went the plug and there went our cider, hidden away in a cupboard, alone to do its magic.


Though we should have bottled over a week ago, it wasn’t until this week that we finally had the chance. Though flat and warm, we tasted our blend, and were pleasantly surprised by the results. Sour and sharp, just the way I like my summer ciders to taste. It’ll only improve with carbonation, and served up cold can only help its case. Now we sit, for two more weeks, waiting for a second taste.

About the time our cider finishes brewing, it’ll be time for us to start packing our bags. We have just over one month left in our sweet little home, and maybe only two left in this great little town. We will head to Austin in a few weeks to search for jobs and a new building to call home. I’m constantly surprised how quickly this journery has been. It feels just like last month that I was talking about visits to the market and the concoctions I was coming up with back then.There are still boxes in our apartment that have yet to be unpacked, but I can’t complain about that now as that’s one last thing to worry about when it’s time for our move. While our days have been incredibly busy, we are taking the time to enjoy the things in Arkansas that we both love to do. Fishing, canoeing, hiking and rock climbing; cookouts, camping, and in just two more weeks…cider with friends.



Boston, Culture, Food, Food Photography, Photography, Recipes, Travel, Uncategorized

Heading West to Texas

Boston, Culture, Travel, Uncategorized

You can live in a place forever and never fully appreciate its beauty. Even when we lived in Boston, coming home for  visits to Arkansas never felt like much. It was the same place that I knew as a child, as a college student, and as a young adult. It was nostalgic, yes, but never really an exciting place to be. Now that our time in Arkansas is quickly coming to an end, I find myself taking the time to notice how sweet of a place that my hometown actually is. It’s funky and creative, and sometimes just flat out weird. The surrounding area is beautiful, and one of my favorite places to be. It’s a fun little state, and I am a little sad that it’ll soon no longer be my home.

I woke up Saturday morning excited for a sunny Spring day. I sipped my smoothie on the back porch and took some time to flip through a couple of magazines. I organized my grocery list and figured out what errands had to be taken care of that day. I slowly got ready and ventured out of the house, ready to walk the three quaint blocks to the downtown square for the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. On my way out the door I received a text from the hubs, letting me know about a dog parade taking place just a short stroll away. I altered my route and took a walk down Dickson, watching dogs parade by, and browsing the eclectic booths that lined the street. It slipped my mind that it was the weekend of Spring Fest, a funky little festival that has been taking place in my hometown since before I was even born.

Once the folk band stopped playing and I grew tired of watching interesting people walk by, I  made my way up the road and over to the to the downtown square. I took one lap around, just like I always do, scoping out what each vendor had to offer, comparing prices along the way. I  picked up a watermelon-lemon popsicle from the man who sells them off of the back of his bike before making my way home.  I walked home slowly, taking in the beautiful scene around me. The trees are in full bloom here, and new flowers make an appearance every day. First the daffodils, then the tulips. Now there are radiant irises popping up everywhere. Spring is my favorite, and Spring in Northwest Arkansas is a fabulous thing to see.

While we prepare our hearts and minds for Austin, I find myself nostalgic and thankful for the last days that we will call Arkansas home. It’ll always be our home, of course, but soon a new adventure will begin. Before we know it, it’ll be time to pack up our fun little apartment and  head out West. We are excited for Austin, and look forward to the memories that we will create there. Moving to Boston was scary as we had never before lived so far away, but what a beautiful adventure that turned out to be. I’ll miss the quaintness of New England, and the Southern charm of Arkansas, but am excited to experience the sights and flavors of the Southwest. I look forward to creating adventures in Texas and blogging about it along the way!

For now, we’ve still got two months left of Arkansas exploring to do! Until next time!


Chicks in the City

Food, Food Photography, Photography, Recipes, Uncategorized

If you’ve not read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,” I highly recommend that you  pick up a copy right away. As the Boston Sunday Globe puts it, “This book will change your life… Perhaps never before has [food] been written about so passionately.” While it’s not always easy to eat and grow food the way that Kingsolver and her family do, this book has certainly changed the way that I purchase and consume my food. Kingsolver has left me excited for the summer, and with a new appreciation for farm life. I look forward to planting my herbs  and to growing a few other vegetables on our small back porch. One of these days I hope to expand my garden beyond a few pots and to  participate in a few other farming activities of my own.

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There was a community garden in Boston that Jacob and I would sometimes pass on our way to one of our favorite markets. I always loved seeing that vast space of green in the middle of a sea of grey. It served as a reminder that farming is no longer confined to multi-acre lots; today even city-dwellers have some of the same opportunities that farmers do. As more and more municipalities relax their rules, the number of people who practice backyard farming steadily continues to grow. While larger cities such as Boston, Chicago, or New York, have limitations on what kind of farming can take place, other urban spaces like Austin and Denver, allow a bit more, such as chicken farming and/or beekeeping.


Photo By: Kara Isham

While I love the idea of producing my own honey, the thought of beekeeping terrifies me, but for years now, I’ve pictured myself one day owning a few backyard, feathered friends. No one knew this about me, really, besides maybe my hubs, so imagine how surprised (and excited) I was to receive an email asking if I would be interested in writing an article about urban chicken farming in my area. I said yes, of course, eager to learn more about this farming trend. I have always thought I would eventually raise a few hens of my own, so here was my chance to figure out if I really have what it takes.

While it might seem like a large undertaking, I learned that it is less work than one might think. It only takes about 15 minutes a day to attend to a chicken’s needs, and about one hour once a month to see to greater demands. I loved getting to meet all of the different families and their feathered friends. Each family had a funny story to tell about their chickens, and most had beautiful coops that they were eager to show off. Like myself, the people I interviewed decided to raise chickens so that they could know where their food was coming fun. Plus, most just thought that they were fun animals to have around.

Doss, Chickens 1


“I like watching them run across the yard,” said one woman I interviewed. “They look like little, old ladies running with their skirts hiked above their knees.”

I’m not so sure that I will be able to look at chickens, or little old ladies for that matter, the same ever again.

Hard work is an inevitable part of raising any type animal, but even after seeing the ugly side of chicken farming, I think that I am still interested in raising a few hens of my own. I like the idea of  having fresh eggs, and can’t help but chuckle at the thought of seeing little old ladies with hiked skirts running around my yard!

To read more about chicken farming in NWA, please see this month’s issue of CitiScapes Magazine!

Caramelized Onion & Apple Grilled Cheese with an Apricot Sriracha Spread

Boston, Food, Food Photography, Photography, Recipes, Uncategorized

My idea of a grilled cheese sandwich used to be limited to a slice of american cheese melted between two pieces of white bread. I would occasionally fancy things up a bit by adding a slice of ham or maybe a fried egg, but that’s about as far as I would ever go. Then, in college, a  restaurant devoted just to grilled cheese sandwiches opened up, opening my eyes to a whole new world of things  that I could sandwich between two slices of bread.


In Boston, there was a little grilled cheese truck that would park just down the road from our apartment. I tried a sweet potato, cheddar, rosemary-maple grilled cheese from there once, and decided that I was a fan of the gourmet grilled cheese trend. Since then, I’ve been busy  coming up with unique combinations of my own. I’ve made them with goat cheese and blueberry pesto, beets and arugula, apples and beer. I’ve used wheat bread, sourdough bread, oatnut bread, and the like. I’ve used a handful of different cheeses and have created my own special sauce. The opportunities are endless when making a good grilled cheese. As long as I’ve got cheese and bread on hand, it’s one of my go to meals when there’s nothing else around.


I  decided today that taking pictures of a grilled cheese sandwich isn’t nearly as fun as eating one. Let’s face it, a grilled cheese really isn’t all that pretty to look at, but who doesn’t love the messy, gooey goodness of a warm grilled cheese? This recipe was inspired by the lack of items in my fridge, and my lack of time to make it to the store. It’s rich and sweet with a small kick of spice, making it one of my favorite sandwich recipes yet.


Caramelized Onion and Apple Grilled Cheese with an Apricot Sriracha Spread

Recipe yields two sandwiches 

1/2 cup sliced yellow onion


1 small granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced into wedges

4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese

4 slices of bread – I used oatnut as it was what I had on hand, but I think that a sourdough would work nicely

3 tbsp apricot jelly

1 tsp sriracha

In a large skillet, melt a pat of butter over medium-low heat. Add your onions and cook until softened and lightly browned. 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your sauce by whisking together apricot jam and sriracha in a small bowl.

Once your onions are lightly browned, add your apple slices and another pat of butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes. You’ll want your apples to soften a bit, but you don’t want them overly soft. I like them with a  bit of crunch to add some texture to the sandwich.  Once your apples have softened, remove onion/apple mixture from skillet and set aside. 

Generously butter one side of a slice of bread.  Place bread butter-side-down onto skillet bottom and add 1 slice of cheese, followed by half of your onion/apple mixture. Add sauce to a second slice of bread and place sauce-side-down on top of sandwich. Grill until lightly browned and flip over, adding a pat of butter to the skillet before flipping. Continue grilling until cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining two slices of bread, cheese, sauce, and onion/apple mixture.

Bourbon-Sea Salt Caramels

Dessert, Food, Food Photography, Recipes, Uncategorized

I first spotted this recipe about a month ago when my December issue of Bon Appetite came in the mail. As a sucker for anything cooked with bourbon, I immediately dog-eared the page and made plans to return to the recipe as soon as possible. I had never made homemade caramels before, but knew I had found a great place to start.

When I got an invitation for my dear friend’s third annual “Thirsty Santa” Christmas party, I knew right away what I would bring: Shauna Niequist’s goat cheese and bacon dates and these bourbon-sea salt caramels. We spent the night munching on festive treats and stealing one another’s booze–all in good fun as part of our game. I returned home with a full belly,  an empty date tray, and only a small handful of candy.

I modified the original recipe a bit, adding a bit more salt and an extra splash of bourbon. I often enjoy a salty contrast in sweet treats, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an extra slosh of bourbon?

A candy thermometer is essential as you want to be sure and reach that perfect “soft ball” stage, and when I say constantly whisk, I mean it. My arm was sore for a good two days. I think that maybe I’ve found my new favorite, holiday workout…

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Bourbon-Sea Salt Caramels

Adapted from Bon Appetite magazine 

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp bourbon

1/2 tsp kosher salt

sea salt

Cover an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly coat paper with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook until mixture turns a deep amber color. About 8-10 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and whisk in sweetened condensed milk and butter until smooth. Fit pan with candy thermometer and return to medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until thermometer registers 240 degrees. Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon and kosher salt. Pour into prepared pan and allow caramel to cool completely. Once cool, sprinkle caramel with sea salt and cut into small pieces. Wrap each piece individually in parchment paper.

Store in airtight container at room temperature. Recipe yields approximately 50 pieces.

Assisi, Italy :: Part 2

Culture, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

I find it a bit funny that I would write two posts about our time in Assisi. Though I was sure I would enjoy spending some time in this quiet town, it was also the first place on my list that I was ready to give the  boot. I kept it on the itinerary solely for my hubs.  It wasn’t the first place that I wanted to stop, but as he has a thing for St. Francis, it was just one of those places that we really had to see.

As mentioned in Assisi, Italy :: Part 1, our time in Assisi didn’t go quite as planned. We wound up in town half a day late, and our itinerary suffered from it. We felt frustrated and rushed when we finally made it to our inn, but the people we met along the way helped to make up for it. We first met Stephen and listened to his quirky stories. Then came inn owner, Lanfranco Carli, who knew about three words of English, but quickly had us in high spirits as we comically tried communicating.  Later that night we met Fabricio, slow food enthusiast, who prepared us one of our most memorable Italian meals and set our evening off on the right foot.

After our picnic we set out to explore the mystery that Assisi had to offer. We put away our maps and filled up our cups with wine. We were giddy with excitement and were glad to find some peace and quiet after our convoluted day.

We found ourselves on the steps of the basilica where we listened to the quiet strum of a guitar, and to the voices of children singing praise. First in Italian, then in English. “Sing a song that brings peace to the people. Sing a song that brings joy to everyone.” They sat in a circle and sang in perfect unison. They brought a tear my eye, and left me glued to my concrete seat. “I will be gentle with myself, I will be kind to myself, I am a child of the universe, being born each moment,” they steadily sang.

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It was the first holy sight in Europe that actually felt holy. There were no hoards of tourists taking pictures. No tour guides spouting off random facts. There was just a grande and quiet church, and a small group of weary travelers, delighting in the sound of these humble voices.

The night was growing late, and it was time for us to move on. We tore ourselves from the church steps and set out to see what other sort of magic that we could find. As we slowly walked down a nearby alley, we heard the voices conclude their presentation with an Italian rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.” A favorite Southern classic…


After getting a bit lost on the hillside, we found ourselves back in the town square where more random and spontaneous singing occurred. This time not by quiet and humble children, but instead by loud and happy adults. People held hands and sung in a large circle, struck by joy, and maybe by a bit too much wine. Once again, we sat and watched, this time smiling and laughing. The singing finally broke up, and we made our way home. Full with lots of joy and happiness, and eager for what the next day would bring.


We woke early the next morning  to be greeted to a whole  new side of Assisi. The quiet and mysterious alleys that we met the night before were replaced by bright and cheery storefronts, and row upon row of St. Francis memorabilia. We took a brisk tour through the basilica, before making our way back to La Bottega dei Sapori for one last visit with Fabricio.

To our disappointment, our friend  was not there. Hungry, and needing food for our train ride, we decided to order a bite to eat anyway. This time I wound up with a sandwich of deer salami, a smelly pecorino, arugula, and tomato, while the hubs tried out the porchetta, or grilled pork. Both sandwiches were once again delectable, and well worth our last few euros.

As we were leaving, we ran into one more happy surprise, and had one last visit with  our friend Fabricio. He shook his head and kissed his fingers as he sang praises over our sandwich choices. “So good! So good! Mama mia! It’s so hot…”

With a kiss on each cheek, we hugged goodbye in the middle of the town square. Fabricio bid us farewell and made us promise to visit again.

Later that day I joked with the  hubs of how most women go to Italy and fall for the young tan boys with flowing locks of hair riding around on vespas. I,  on the other hand, fell for the sweet tubby guy with a deep love for truffles…

We boarded our train and sat in silence as we departed the station. Assisi took a strong toll on us, and left us anxious to return. We thought about the people we met and the memories we made as we watched mile after mile of sunflower fields, a giant sea of yellow. The beauty of these fields left me giddy and feeling anxious for our next Italian destination. Each stop was like a dream, and I couldn’t wait to discover what the next town would bring.

Until next time!

Liebster Award



I’m not typically the type to answer random Q&A style posts on the internet. You know, like the ones that are constantly popping up all over Facebook these days? Although, when I read a comment from fellow blogger Maci from The Thoughtful Plate, informing me that I had been nominated for a Liebster blog award, I was glad to accept, even if it did mean spilling out random facts about myself for all to see… I do that each time I post anyway, right?

Everyone seems to be blogging these days. With the progression of websites such as Pinterest, and with the popularity of social media sights like Facebook and Twitter, it’s sometimes hard to find a voice in the midst of all that is being said. As a blogger, I think that it is important to show support to other small blogs. While most blogs that I stay in tune with have a large following and readership, some of my favorites are those that not many seem to know about.

After doing a bit of reading about the Liebster Award, I found that the rules vary, depending on who you ask. Some people answer 11 questions, others 10. Some say to nominate blogs with no more than 200 followers, and some say that the number of followers doesn’t really matter. In this case, I have decided to follow the rules of the person who has nominated me, answering 10 questions, asking 10 questions, and nominating five three blogs. Three may not seem like a lot, but to be honest, I a.) feel that a smaller number of nominees is a bit more meaningful, and b.) feel that more people will actually go and read these three blogs as opposed to just skimming a long list.

Maci asked…

  • Do you prefer the city or the country? Growing up in the South, I’ve always loved the countryside. Although, after moving to Boston, I learned how much I truly love the city. So I will answer like this… for now, during this season of life, I  prefer to live in the city… just as long as the country is close by.
  • Which countries have you traveled to? I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Mexico, Costa Rica, St. Lucia, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Though the list is long, there’s still much more that I desire and plan to see.
  • What is one of your favorite holiday traditions? Going to Lowe’s just a couple of weeks before Christmas (because that’s when the trees go on sale) with my dad, sister, and family dog, and picking out the biggest Christmas tree that we can find. We all ride home together, in my uncle’s borrowed and beat up pickup truck, listening to Christmas carols, and huddling together to stay warm. My sister usually gets bored by the time that we make it home, and I am usually left alone to decorate the tree, sometimes with the help of my mom. I don’t mind so much though, and I am not quite sure that I would want it any other way. This is something that I’ve missed out on for the past two years while I lived in Boston, and I am glad to be able to participate again this year.
  • Have you ever met a famous person? I’ve chatted with Taylor Swift once or twice.
  • What is the first thing you do in the morning? As much as I hate to say it, I look at my phone. Checking email, looking at Facebook, etc…
  • How do you prefer to spend your free time?  It all depends on the day. Some days I like to cook, and others I like to curl up in bed with a movie or book. And if I have the money, my favorite free time activity is to travel.
  • How often do you read the news? I don’t often read a newspaper, but I typically read 2-3 digital articles every day. I also watch the news pretty regularly.
  • Do you play any instruments? Unfortunately, I don’t. I know a teeny, tiny bit on the guitar and piano, but that’s all. I do aspire to learn how to play the fiddle and master the harmonica, though.
  • How do you feel about crowds? If I can mentally prepare myself for a large crowd, I can handle them just fine. I typically prefer more intimate settings though.
  • Vanilla or chocolate? Usually almost always chocolate, although I do enjoy a good vanilla frozen custard every now and then.

Now for my nominations…

1.) My dear friend, Cate Jones at Cate Jones Photography, for her beautiful, beautiful photos.

2.) “Bowl #1” at Two Red Bowls for her solid posts and yummy recipes.

3.) Mandy & M.C. at The Graduate Wife for helping me with my own journey and struggles as a graduate wife.

Here’s what I came up with for you ladies:

  1. Which kitchen gadget could you not live without?
  2. What is one of your favorite holiday traditions? 
  3. What’s your dream profession (all restrictions, limitations, etc. aside!)? 
  4. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
  5. Where is your dream place to live? 
  6. Do you speak another language? If so, which one? If not, is there one that you would like to learn? 
  7. What is your favorite condiment? 
  8. What is your greatest fear? 
  9. What is one of your favorite memories from your wedding day? 
  10. How do you prefer to spend your free time? 

I look forward to reading the responses from all of my nominees and hope that you all enjoyed reading my own. May we all continue to show our love and support to other bloggers. Who knows, you may just end up reading something that you really like.

Until next time!

Assisi, Italy :: Part 1

Culture, Food, Food Photography, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

I finally made it through the entirety of my Italy pictures. All 1,800 of them. There were pictures that I immediately deleted, and then there were those that I sat and stared at for a good five minutes at a time. There were those that made me laugh, and then there were those that reminded me of such powerful memories that all I could do was cry.

Our time in Assisi Italy was much too short. We had planned to have a full day, one night, and another half a day before leaving the quiet land of St. Francis and  starting our pilgrimage towards Rome. Due to an out-of-date bus schedule, we wound up spending an extra eight hours in Siena. I can’t say that we hated this delay as Siena was one of my favorite stops in Italy, but it did throw things off a bit. We ended up having a relaxing afternoon in our favorite Tuscan town sipping espresso, eating a leisurely lunch of fresh buffalo mozzarella and a tasty house wine, and enjoying gelato in the Piazza del Campo.

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In a way, I am glad for this delay. It gave us a late start and forced us to see  Assisi the way that I am sure St. Francis knew it to be. Assisi in the day is kitschy. It’s full of tacky souvenirs and St. Francis bobble heads. But at night, Assisi is quiet. It’s mysterious and magical. It’s full of wonderful people on true pilgrimages to visit the church of the famed saint.

At night you’ll hear the sounds of the Benedictine monks singing their nightly vespers. You’ll get to watch the flaming colors of the sun as it sets over the Umbrian countryside. And you’ll meet quirky travelers and store owners, like Stephen, and our friend Fabrizio.

We met Stephen while sitting at the bus stop. We were hot, and hungry, and were feeling anxious to make it into town. Stephen, an Italian native, was visiting Assisi on a pilgrimage. He told us his story, and all about his travels. He talked about his time as a journalist, and about his last 40 years in China where he’d been working in an orphanage. He told us about his home in the Canary Islands, and about how he had predicated the death of John F. Kennedy 45 days before it had happened.

We ran into Stephen a handful of times during our short stay. He always appeared at random, and in ways, he felt like one of those people who just couldn’t be real. His stories were so intriguing that most of them seemed fake, but something about him tells me that every word that he said was true. He was an interesting character, and only added to the magic of Assisi.

Later that night we met another fun and wonderful individual. Hungry and late to our date with the sunset, we wandered into a recommended store to pick up some meat and cheese for our picnic. We thought that this would be a quick stop. We planned to grab something already prepared and to rush off to find a good spot to watch the sunset. Instead, we met Fabrizio, store owner,  and a slow-food-enthusiast.

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La Bottega dei Sapori is a mouthwatering little shop right in the middle of the town square. Stocked with local wines and speciality treats such as olive oil and truffle paste, I could have easily spent the remainder of our euros right in that tiny establishment. Fabrizio Pagliaccia might be one of the friendliest human beings that I’ve ever encountered. He was passionate about his products, most of which came straight from his family farm, and was eager for us to indulge in his samples.

“Not about the shopping, about the experience,” he would say in his broken English. “Fast food down here, slow food up here,” he’d motion with his hands. “Here, you know it’s good,” he’d exclaim with a huge smile across his face. There was something about this man that made us never want to leave. We stayed for a good half hour, chatting with him as he prepared one of our most memorable meals.

He made us his favorite sandwich, capicola, truffle spread, and picorino on freshly baked focaccia and opened us up a bottle of his favorite local wine. “Montefalco Rosso! The strong one! I open, you finish!” We said goodbye with a kiss on each cheek, and didn’t even care that we spent about double the money that we had intended to spend.

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We enjoyed our picnic on the steps of a small church. Breathing in the smell of incense, and listening to the chants of the nuns, we savored each bite of our delectable meal, and delighted in each sip of our sumptuous wine. We watched day turn to night and slowly finished our sandwiches. Little did we know, our magical night had only just begun. We filled our cups with the rest of our wine, and set out to explore the winding and hilly streets of Assisi.

Cooking in Venice

Culture, Food, Food Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

For someone who loves to cook, our month this summer in Europe was hard in ways.  As much as I enjoyed our floodlit piazza dinners and our rustic thrown together picnics, visiting the flavorful markets in Italy was sometimes hard on me. I’d scan the rows of colorful produce and breath in the scent of fresh herbs, longing for a kitchen to play in. While some of my favorite meals were those of fresh bread, unpasteurized cheese, and local olives and fruit, I often wondered what I could accomplish if only I had an oven, or even just one lonely burner.

We cooked once or twice at our hostel in Switzerland, but as the nearest grocery store was at the bottom of the mountain, our selection on what to cook  was limited. We made a funny meal one night of pasta, canned tomatoes, and some strong and stinky mountain cheese that we picked up from the cow next door. We ate it along with a bottle of wine at an elevation of 5000 feet. I’m not sure if it was the elevation, the wine, or the combination of both, but we ate every bite of that pasta, and found ourselves longing for more.


Venice was our first stop in Italy, and even though I had every other place that we stayed in Europe booked before we left the states, for whatever reason I never found the time to book a place to stay in Venice. I think that we were hoping to couch surf, but unfortunately no one had the space.  Although just winging it is usually something that stresses me out, in this case, it worked out beautifully. My mom, being the saint that she is, got to work and found us a wonderful apartment right off of the Grand Canal. As it was on the opposite side of the mainland, we landed ourselves with a great price, and an even better view.

Here are a few things that really excited me about this apartment: For one, It had air conditioning!  This was something that we had yet to experience while in Europe, and Venice was HOT. Secondly, the bathroom was huge! Not only was the shower giant, but there was enough room for a washer. We could finally wash our clothes somewhere besides a sink! And last but definitely not least, it had a fully equipped  kitchen overlooking the water. We ate breakfast at our sweet little table each morning watching the boats pass by and mapping out our day. I couldn’t complain.

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Our first night in Venice we dined out. We wandered far away from the other tourists and got lost in Venice’s winding and colorful streets. We stumbled into a quite little hole in the wall restaurant where we were served by our bored and unenthusiastic waiter. The food was mediocre, but it was our first meal in Venice, so we didn’t really care. We were in Italy!

For our second night there I had big plans for dinner. We finally had a kitchen and I planned to take full advantage of it. My goal was to visit the local market and pick up some local ingredients, but because our morning got off to somewhat of a rough start, our day was put a bit behind schedule. By the time we finished at Doge’s Palace and the Correr Museum, half of the day was gone and the market was over. Hot, tired, and cranky, we stopped in at a local grocer and picked up a few simple but tasty items for dinner. We packed our bags with a of bottle of Peach Bellini and a local red wine, and hopped a vaporetto for a scenic ride back to our little home.


For dinner I prepared veal ravioli with sauteed mushrooms and a local tomato sauce. I chopped fresh green basil and buffalo mozzarella to mix with baby arugula and Mediterranean olives. We ate next to an open window and sipped our Veneto wine. We enjoyed our Bellinis for dessert and delighted in a good night of rest. We had an early morning train to the Italian Riviera the following day and still had many flavors and sights left to explore. Our adventures in Italy had only just begun.