Sep 28, 2012

All the Small Things

[A bulldog puppy sitting on his friend's head]

[Porcini mushrooms fresh from the mountains served with tagliatelle pasta]
[Never gets old - il Duomo a Firenze]

[Tile art along a tunnel wall]
[There's nothing better than room-service fish tacos to end a long day]

[New manicure - Essie's Bobbing for Baubles and Penny Folk]
Any fun fall-themed plans for the weekend??

Sep 27, 2012

Buffalo Chicken

Are you as obsessed with buffalo chicken as I am? Does the thought of that spicy sauce make your mouth water? Well, fear not my friends … I’ve got a great recipe for you. First things first, break out that crock-pot! Don’t have a crock-pot? Go buy one. Like, right now. Crock-pots are heaven sent and I feel that no home should be without one.

Next, gather the following ingredients:

·           3 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breast
·          12 oz. of Frank’s Red Hot
·           A packet of Ranch seasoning mix
·           Spray butter

Start out by giving the crock-pot a few squirts of spray butter, just to ensure that the chicken breast won’t stick to the sides of the pot.

Next, place your chicken breasts right in there. Take the 12 oz. of Frank’s and pour it right over the chicken.

Last but not least, sprinkle the entire packet of Ranch seasoning on top of everything.

Set the crock-pot to “low” and allow to cook 7-9 hours.

Once the time is up, shred up the chicken with a fork (it will fall right apart because it is so tender – thanks to the slow-cooking method).

[Looks freaky - tastes amazing]
 I chose to serve my buffalo chicken on some sandwiches. I got whole-wheat roles from my grocery store’s bakery, and gathered classic sandwich-topping items, so diners could choose what they want on their own sandwich.

[Tomato, red onion, lettuce, avocado]
 I can’t have buffalo chicken without bleu cheese, but I also hate that one tablespoon of that stuff is a ridiculous amount of calories. Well, the salad dressing gods must have heard my complaint because I have recently discovered a bleu cheese dressing that uses yogurt!! It tastes EXACTLY the same as the original dressing, yet it’s low-fat and low-cal! So amazing. And it makes me so happy.

[There are no words...]
 This chicken is so versatile, so don’t think you are limited to just sandwiches. Try it on salads, wraps, nachos, dips, or anywhere you think buffalo chicken would be a good addition.
[Where have you been all my life?]
Anybody else as obsessed with buffalo chicken as I am? Would you be willing to try a yogurt-based dressing?

Sep 26, 2012

Cinque Terre

On Saturday we took a day trip to Cinque Terre, a place I’ve wanted to visit for years. There are five typical Italian seaside villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare), but what makes them especially unique is their proximity to one another and the ease of getting to and from each one.

[Via Dell'Amore]

We started out at Riomaggiore and traveled to Manarola by way of a walking trail called Via Dell’Amore (aw, romantic) that is cut into the cliffs and overlooks the Mediterranean.

[A tradition among couples is to close a lock and throw the key into the sea]
[Approaching Manarola]
(As a side note, on Monday there was a rock slide on this part of the path and four Australian women were injured, but they are being treated and will hopefully be okay.)

[Love locks with Manarola in the background]
You can also travel by train or ferry to get to the other villages and we opted for the train the rest of the way as certain parts of the trail are still impassable as a result of last October’s floods and mudslides. It takes less than 5 minutes between each village and the trains come pretty regularly.


Corniglia welcomes you with a flight of 368 steps. How’d they know I’d been yearning to work my gams? They’re so thoughtful, that village.

[The view of Manarola from Corniglia]
Then there is Vernazza and Monterosso (my faves), which were hit particularly hard by the torrential rains last year. The damage is visible and repairs are still ongoing, but the restoration that’s already been completed is incredibly impressive. The hope was to be ready for the summer tourist season and they certainly achieved their goal.

[Can you see the marks above the doorways? That's the point the flood water reached]

Cinque Terre is a huge tourist hot spot, but it's in no way over-rated. If you've visited in the past, did you have a favorite part? If you haven't been and are planning a trip to Italy, definitely make sure to add it to the list.

If you'd like to see more pictures, you can see extras on our Facebook page!

Sep 25, 2012

Elbow Room

Summer is great and all, but I love feeling that first chill in the air because that means I can break out all my sweaters and cardigans, which happen to be my favorite type of clothing. My group of friends (Ferg included) rarely go anywhere without a cardigan. It has gotten to the point where we even bring them out to parties or bars, thus giving the cardigan a whole new meaning and a whole new name – the “party cardi.”

Shopping for a new sweater isn’t a difficult task; there are so many styles, colors, and options to choose from. I recently purchased the below Ralph Lauren sweater and it was most definitely love at first sight.

[Hello gorgeous]
I love the camel-hue of the sweater; neutrals are perfect for the fall months. And I love the strip of suede lining down the front row of buttons in that rich chocolaty shade of brown. My favorite thing about this sweater though, are the elbow patches! I think elbow patches are such a classic characteristic for a sweater to have. They remind me of rainy days in England and grandfathers (weird combo I know but don’t judge me). 

After finding that sweater, I went on the hunt to see what else the fashion world had to offer in the way of elbow patches; my results were pleasantly surprising!

Instead of regular-shaped patches, check out these heart ones! Now you really can wear your heart on your sleeve!

This sweater not only has heart-shaped patches but it also utilizes one of my other favorite fashion trends – color blocking! I really love the pink and navy together, girly but not to an annoying extent.

Not into the whole “cardigan scene?” (Although you’d be crazy not to be…) try a pull-over sweater – still with those great elbow patches!

There's such a variety out there when it comes to cardigans - I can't wait to see what designers come up with next!

Sep 24, 2012

Pleats Me

This past Friday night was spent wandering around Florence, visiting the numerous historic palaces, and partaking in a unique wine tasting at each site. Needless to say, the palaces were beautiful, the wine was delicious and the weather was absolutely perfect for a September evening.

As we walked around throughout the night (and obviously people watched) I noticed a few girls wearing pleated skirts. When I typically think of pleated skirts, I think plaid, old-fashioned, school girl uniforms, but that’s not what I’m referring to. These skirts redefined my idea of pleats and now I can’t get the floating images of pleated skirts out of my head.  Seriously, not kidding, they’re up there dancing around right now.

There are so many different types! On the one hand you have the maxi pleated skirts or the high-low pleated skirts. Then on the other, there are the mini-skirt pleated skirts or pleated skirts that almost seem like tennis skirts. I’ve unofficially won the award for highest usage of the words “pleated” and “skirts” in a single post.

Anyway, each skirt is awesome in it’s own right (if skirts had rights) and they’re perfect for this time of year when it’s warm during the day, but chilly enough for a jacket at night. You can pair them with a tank top, a graphic tee, a cardigan or a light jacket. The layering options would almost be overwhelming if they weren’t so wonderful, not to even mention the accessories! Here are a few pleated skirts I’ve found that demonstrate their diversity.

How do you feel about pleats? Do you have a preference in pleating style?

Sep 21, 2012

All The Small Things

[A glimpse of Assisi through the castle walls]
[Cows that resemble Oreo cookies at the Big E, a large fair in New England]

[Watching a bike race speed past our house]
[Enjoying the last of the summer fruit]

[Wandering the countryside]

[I knew Connecticut was good for something]

Happy weekend!! What fun things do you have planned??

Sep 20, 2012

Furnas, Sao Miguel

One of my favorite day trips during my vacation in the Azores was to a town called Furnas. Furnas is an incredibly unique place due to the fact that there is volcanic activity occuring near the surface of the earth! Now, I'm not saying that if you were to visit Furnas you would be at risk of experiencing an explosion, BUT you do have to be careful where you step because there are small pools of naturally boiling water all over the place! As my boyfriend so eloquently put it, the boiling water was simply "the earth breathing." 

[Small pool of naturally boiling water]
There were several spouts which allowed you to give naturally "carbonated" water a taste. 

It wasn't horrible...but I'll take a Poland Spring over that stuff any day. Because of the minerals coming from the earth the water also had a slightly sulfuric taste.

[Large sacks of corn cooking in the boiling water]

Large bags of ears of corn were placed right into the boiling water to cook, and then sold at nearby stands. 

Corn on the cob is one of my favorite foods so obviously I couldn't pass it up. It was delicious.

[One of the cooking pits]

Near the Lagoa das Furnas (Lake of Furnas) there was an area that was sprinkled with small pits built into the ground. I was informed that people put together large pots of food at home, containing various meats and veggies. They then bring the pots, all wrapped up in a towel, to Furnas. The pot is placed within a pit early in the morning (think 6:30 a.m.) and left for 6-8 hours to cook, thanks to the heat underground. 

[Our pot - meats and veggies!]
I was amazed by this, and decided that I simply had to try it for myself. I had no idea where to begin so I enlisted the help of a couple girlfriends I made on the island. Luck was on my side because one of the girls happened to be a butcher and she hooked me up with chicken, 2 types of sausage, and 2 cuts of pork, and a huge cut of beef. All that meat, along with a head of cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and salt were thrown into the pot. 

The next day, my boyfriend and I woke up before dawn (ugh) and drove with our sacred pot of goodies to Furnas. We gave our pot to the most official-looking man in the area. He placed the pot in the bottom of one of the pits, placed the lid back on, shoveled some dirt on top of it, and gave us a number so we would remember where our pot was. 

Because both mine and my boyfriend's minds are way down in the gutter, and the fact that we were so loopy and up before the sun, we found our assigned number quite hilarious. 

Since we had about 8 hours to kill before lunch would be ready, we decided to go around and enjoy the sights that Furnas had to offer. Our first stop was a natural hot spring. The water came up from beneath the earth's surface at a steamy hot-tub temperature. It is said that this water is very good for your skin because it is full of minerals. Many people rubbed the minerals from off the rocks and directly onto their faces, arms, etc. 

Our next stop was another hot spring, this time the water spilled directly into a gigantic pool. It was in a park called Parque Terra Nostra. It was a gorgeous estate with a sprawling garden containing plants, trees, and flowers from all over the world. 

A huge mansion overlooked the pool. The water was a murky-yellow color because of the minerals.

At last! It was time to pull up our pot for lunch. We handed in our number, the dirt was shoveled off our pit, and we pulled up our lunch. Team effort!

We set up our "picnic" at a nearby table. Of course a Portuguese lunch is never complete without wine and bread, so we made sure to bring those from the house. The food from the pot was more delicious than I ever expected; the meat was tender and juicy, the vegetables were cooked to perfection and so flavorful. By far, our day spent in Furnas was one of my favorites from the vacation.