Archive for July, 2013

Carry On Bag Essentials

I’m heading south to Charleston, SC tomorrow!

I love to travel! Although I have a quick flight tomorrow, I want to share “must have” items that I always fly with–no matter what the distance:

1. Longchamp Bag 2. Sunglasses 3. Tea Bags 4. Larabars and snacks

5. Passport case 6. Toiletries 7. Life Factory water bottle 8. iPad and case

 9. Scarf  10. Wallet 11. iPhone & earbuds 12. Magazines

13. Small carry on luggage with anything you need in case your luggage gets lost.

14. Throw 15. Travel journal & pen 16. Travel pillow 17. Coffee travel mug

How does everything fit? Very carefully.

Read Full Post »


I just returned from a short trip to Pittsburgh to visit my former college roommate and her husband. They were fantastic hosts, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to catch up with great friends and explore a fun city.

Pittsburgh has a history of ketchup, badly dressed sports fans, and steel. I was pleased to see how “green and clean” this rust belt city has become and that this pictured sandwich is not your only food choice:


Pittsburgh has quite an emerging foodie scene, and I was pleasantly surprised by the raw, vegetarian, and vegan food options.

Where to Eat:

Quiet Storm Quiet Storm, set a bit off the vegan path in the Friendship/Garfield neighborhood, is a cozy hipster café. We brunched in the mismatched retro décor, enjoying coffee and the Saturday all-star menu dishes. Voted one of the best meat-free brunch spots, Quiet Storm has very creative vegan and vegetarian dishes made with fresh ingredients.  I just love brunches that don’t make your stomach feel heavy afterwards.

IMG_1207IMG_1185IMG_1193 IMG_1195  IMG_1188 IMG_1202

Eden One of my first nights in Pittsburgh I had the privilege of meeting up with my blend Kasey, the blogger behind Powercakes. Back in the early spring I met Kasey and some other wonderful bloggers at the Plant Power meet-up. I mentioned to Kasey that I would be visiting her neck of the woods over the summer, and she very graciously offered to have a meal with me. Kasey introduced me to a great restaurant called Eden. We had a wonderful evening of juice, delicious food, and conversation.


IMG_1011  IMG_1009

Thin Man Sandwich Shop I had a delicious, made-to-order goat milk marinated organic chicken breast, avocado, alfalfa, lemon pickled green onion sandwich on a multigrain baguette with a house-made cucumber-basil infused seltzer. If this sandwich became well-known, I am sure Pittsburgh’s sandwiches with fries would be extinct!


Crazy Mocha I had a great cup of coffee several mornings at this Pittsburgh coffee chain and caught up with the news.


JeanMarc Chatellier’s French Bakery Located in the borough of Millvale, Lindsay and I had a fun adventure sampling Parisian macaroons. This place was simply amazing. Our favorite was the chocolate– until we tried the chocolate Nutella macaroon.


Where to Explored and Visit:

Andy Warhol Museum On Friday night, Lindsay and I dropped into the Andy Warhol museum. If you are into pop art and don’t mind paying a steep admission price, why not? We went in the evening and got a student rate. I enjoyed Andy Warhol’s works but thought the museum could have done a better job displaying Warhol’s works and creating a timeline of his life.


Monongahela Incline Take the Monongahela Incline up to Mount Washington to admire the Pittsburgh skyline and the bridges along the river. Reward yourself at the top with some ice cream. Unfortunately, we were so hot that we ate our delicious swirl ice cream cones so quickly that we forgot to take a picture!  

IMG_1237IMG_1249 IMG_1263   IMG_1248

Of course, it was a great treat to stay in a beautiful three level townhouse over a hotel in a historic neighborhood. I enjoyed the luxury of waking up and making oatmeal for Lindsay and me in a full kitchen. We had fun making dinner on the grille a few nights and creating fabulous ice-cream sandwiches with homemade chocolate chip Toll House Cookies!  Hope Lindsay and Keegan will visit Rhode Island soon.


Read Full Post »

I enjoyed my trip to Québec City. As I mentioned in my previous post, when it comes to travel, you don’t have to twist my arm–I will jump on any excuse to not let my passport get dusty. You probably are waiting for me to say that Québec City is the Paris of North America without jet lag. Well, sorry to get your hopes up, but I don’t exactly agree with that statement. If you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway outside the US, sure, enjoy Québec City. But having been to Paris—PARIS, Québec doesn’t compare to the sights, food, and culture of Paris. But what about the Parisian macaroons? Sure. You can find them in Paris and now just about anywhere in the US. I suggest you drop into Laudree in NYC. I will agree with travel experts that Québec City is a more cost effective option than Europe right now. None the less, Québec is a fun city to visit, a doable weekend adventure. I had a fun weekend city exploring and using a little French to order coffee and a croissant.

Where we Wined & Dined

Casse-Crêpe Breton While wandering the streets of Old Québec, we stopped to fill our hungry bellies at this great crepe restaurant. The David’s tea staff recommended Casse-Crêpe Breton over another place up the road. There was a wide variety of crepes, from savory to sweet. The restaurant has a cute atmosphere, the wait staff is dressed in costume and you can watch your crepes being prepared. Adam was manly and adventurous and ordered wild boar. I stuck with strawberries, maple syrup, chocolate and ice cream. This delicacy did not disappoint. I also ordered a delicious cheese fondue which came with the cutest, most delicious side salad.






Brûlerie Saint-Jean Brûlerie Saint-Jean was absolutely one of my favorite places, and I found it by chance! The first rainy windy morning we were in Quebec City, I wandered around looking for a great espresso. I simply went out the back door of our hotel and stumbled upon this place on the corner. I could smell the fresh roasted coffee from down the street. There was even a boulangerie on the same block. Win, win! I went every morning to both places. The espresso drinks reminded me of those in Europe. I would spend a lot of time and money in Brûlerie Saint-Jean if I lived in Quebec City.

Le Café Du Clocher Penché One night Adam stayed behind with Anthony. Ellynn, Melissa, and I went for a girls’ night out. I had been reading yelp reviews of restaurants all evening before our excursion. I couldn’t decide where to go, so I using my little French I asked our concierge for her recommendations from my top three choices. She told us to dine at Du Clocher Penché, a farm to fork locavore bistro which we walked to a few blocks from our hotel. We saw a lot of Quebecois dining and wining. Since we didn’t make a reservation, we sat at the bar which put us at a great spot to watch everything, meals made to order coming out of the kitchen and the cocktails being expertly prepared. This place was so great I am still thinking about the food. Good luck getting a table if you don’t have a reservation. The menu changes weekly due to the local produce and seasonal selections. This restaurant has high ratings but still allowed us to get a bit away from the touristy neighborhoods and dine with the local foodie crowd. Every meal was created by people who appreciate quality food. My kind of place! Du Clocher Penché made my night.

One of my favorite things to do when I am traveling is to visit markets so after dinner I strolled into a cute little grocery store/market. I found some imported European Swiss chocolate and maple cookies which we all munched on for dessert back at our hotel. Yum!

-2-4-5 -6

-8 -7

Pillard Bakery We stopped into Pillard Cafe and Boulangerie for some sweet treats and coffee. This is a great place for a quick croissant and coffee. They also have quick meal choices such as sandwiches and pizza.

IMG_0619   IMG_0622

Canadian Maple Delights Canadian Maple Delights is the place to pick up all your overpriced maple souvenirs and sample everything maple. On the second floor there is a free museum that educates you on the history of maple syrup. You can even have coffee sweetened with maple syrup. I had maple syrup taffy pop which is traditionally made by rolling maple syrup in the snow or ice, as in this café.

IMG_0598 IMG_0599  IMG_0604IMG_0562

Where we Explored and Toured

Old City Quebec City is located in the St. Lawrence Valley, and this capital city runs along the beautiful St. Lawrence River. We explored and shopped in the historical Old City. Fun history fact (I promise this is not going to be a UNESCO World Heritage type post): The Old City is surrounded by walls because the English were trying to protect it back in the late 1700s from the Americans; Quebec City is the only walled city in North America. We had fun walking on the cobblestone streets and visiting little shops.

IMG_0556IMG_0615IMG_0641IMG_0643IMG_0649 IMG_0650 IMG_0653



The Château Frontenac The Château Frontenac is a popular honeymoon hotel and probably one of the most photographed hotels in the world. I think if I were honeymooning in this region, I would like to a bit outside of the city, from a rental property that might be found on flipkey or airbnb—my two newest travel search sites!

Just for fun 


Have you visited Québec City?

Do you have any fun trips planned this summer? Where is the next place you are traveling to?

Read Full Post »

Vermont Visit

I just returned from a trip to Quebec and Vermont.  My housemates were kind enough to invite me on their family vacation which coincidentally fell on the week of my birthday. I can never say no to an opportunity to use my passport so I was up for the road trip and getaway.

For those of you that think Vermont is just a state with Ben and Jerry’s (where we had to stop) and those controversial green leaves, you are terribly mistaken.  Growing up in New England, I passed through Vermont a handful of times in my youth, but I don’t think I really gave the state enough credit until this past week!

I have fallen in love with Vermont. Now don’t freak out, I’m not jumping ship on Rhode Island (just yet), but I am planning on visiting VT more regularly. From the classic inns to the maple syrup, the covered bridges, mountain views, local fresh foods from the farmers and the dairy treats, the list of Vermont treasures goes on and on. You could seriously spend your whole time just admiring the scenery of Vermont!

Where we wined and dined:

King Arthur Bakery, Cafe, and Shop

IMG_0490IMG_0497 IMG_0493


I love this place! We had lunch which included freshly baked treats, hot from the oven. I paired my salad with some delicious coffee from the café. I then spent about an hour perusing the shop which has every ingredient, kitchen tool, mix, flours, and pan you can imagine. I also poked around the baking education center and watched the bakers at work! Adam, Ellynn, and Anthony were so kind and gave me a gift card which I used to buy a cute retro kitchen timer, some King Arthur Flour to bake delicious treats, and a cute purple bake t-shirt!


IMG_0509 IMG_0503 IMG_0504

American Flat Bread

This is a must stop if you visit Vermont and love wood fired earthen oven pizza!

Each pizza is prepared with the finest all natural, local ingredients. I love the founder, George Schenk’s philosophy which is reflected in every part of the menu: “Food is important. What we eat and how it is grown intimately affects our health and the well-being of the world.”

My travel companions and I shared a bunch of delicious pizzas. My favorite pizza included strawberries, Belgian endive, dates, and scapes.


Edelweiss Mountain Deli

We ate the best deli sandwiches at Edelweiss after a hike. Edelweiss has homemade baked goods, including cookies and pies, and a huge deli where your sandwich is prepared right in front of you with the freshest local ingredients. On the other side of the store is a market with many local gems and a large selection of beverages. I enjoyed my maple turkey sandwich with Joe’s Peach lemonade. Boy, did that hit the spot after a 3 mile hike!

IMG_0712 IMG_0716 IMG_0718 IMG_0722

Harvest Market

I happened to find this market while I was running one lovely morning. I am ready to move in. I love everything about this market– the decor, the staff, and of course the food! I enjoyed talking with the staff, sipping coffee and pairing some delicious treats with my morning espresso.

IMG_0744 IMG_0758 IMG_0746 IMG_0749

Green Goddess Café

What a charming little place for breakfast and lunch! Well, since I couldn’t go to Wildflour or Garden Grille while I was away, this café definitely was a wonderful fix. The menu has a large selection of sandwiches, salads, juices, and scrambles with some interesting twists. I had difficulty deciding what to order! I ended up doing a build your own salad bowl with fresh beet, ginger, kale, and carrot juice.


I.C Scoops

Order a maple creamy. “Creamy” is what Vermont calls soft serve. Delicious. I think maple creamy is giving my coffee soft serve some competition.


Where we went & the sights we took in:

Von Trapp Family Lodge

We visited the Von Trapp Lodge and signed up for a Von Trapp History Tour of the grounds. The tour featured a hike and the chapel built by the Trapp family sons on their return home after World War II. Yummy maple syrup tasting!

IMG_0706 IMG_0707IMG_0678 IMG_0703 IMG_0704 IMG_0701IMG_0691IMG_0695IMG_0690

Where we visited & toured:

Ben and Jerry’s 

We had a tour that included samples of a blueberry chocolate chip flavored ice cream. Delightful and the perfect size. We stopped into the Ben and Jerry’s flavor graveyard. What a trip down memory lane!

IMG_0836reIMG_0829 IMG_0830IMG_0850

Lake Champlain Chocolate Store and Café

I enjoyed purchasing some of the “seconds”. They were first in my book!


Blogger Appropriate!

Cabot Annex Store


Samples of the entire Cabot Cheese collection

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

This visit was complete with free apple cider tasting. I tried an apple cider doughnut for $0.50. Life changing doughnut!


Green Mountain Coffee

Melissa found a coupon for a free mug in the cute little Inn where we stayed. When I presented the coupon, the nice employees at the counter told me I could have any iced or hot drink for free in it! I chose ice coffee. Delicious.


What I want to visit & experience when I return to VT:

Have you been to Vermont?

What are your favorite places and eats?

Read Full Post »