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A Moveable Feast: Assisi, outside the city walls

Yesterday we spent the day — two days, really — wandering around the city of Assisi. Today we’re going to venture outside the city walls. On our second day in Assisi, we visited the Hermitage of St. Francis, the Church of San Damiano, and a fantastic winery-agriturismo outside Assisi in the town of Montefalco.

Our trip to the Hermitage of St. Francis (Eremo delle Carceri) was well worth the early drive via taxis (because the road is too narrow and winding for a tour bus) to the retreat on the slope of Mount Subiaso. This is where St. Francis and his friars came to get away from the busyness of life and pray in silence and solitude. The views were stunning, but the fact that we were able to touch the walls of the cell where St. Francis once slept was pretty overwhelming. Here’s a quick visit to the hermitage in photos. Read more

My dinner with Billy: HUGE!

So Dennis and I were having dinner at Caffe Italia in Albany (worthy of its own blog post another time) after a long day of driving to and from Burlington for a college visit with Noah. As we sipped our wine and waited for our entrees, Dennis looked over at a back table and said, “That guy looks like Billy Fuccillo.” (If you live in upstate New York, this man needs no introduction. If you don’t, you’ll understand the fascination when you watch the video clip below.) Anyway, once we heard his voice, we knew it was, in fact, Billy Fuccillo, and I said, “I’m not leaving here without taking a photo with him.” Read more

Foodie Friday: Hollow chef kicks it up a notch

When we were planning our date night this week, there was only one place on my list of suggestions: The Hollow Bar & Kitchen on North Pearl Street in Albany. I was craving the eggplant stack, which I’d had the first time we visited. I don’t care if you think you don’t like eggplant, you will love this. Trust me. It. Is. Incredible. So off we went, in search of eggplant and gnocchi and craft beer and wine.  Read more

Italy: Five weeks and counting…

Five weeks from today, our Italy: A Feast for Body and Soul pilgrimage will depart from JFK airport bound for Rome. The 40 of us will spend 13 days making our way from the beautiful spa town of Montecatini to Florence, Siena, Assisi, Rome, Naples, Salerno, the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Massa Lubrense (the small town where my grandfather was born), and finally to the Isle of Capri. I know how fast these next few weeks will go with start-of-school events and work deadlines to meet before leaving. It’s going to be here before I know it.  Read more

Foodie Friday: A great way to use summer veggies

When a friend gave me a week of her CSA share, I knew I had to act fast. I had bags of beautiful summer abundance sitting on my counter and only a few days to use them before we headed out on our own vacation. Thank goodness for Google. I did a search of a few key ingredients and found the most amazing pasta dish using almost all of the veggies. It was a huge hit with all three kids, and that’s saying something for a dish featuring eggplant. Here’s the recipe for pasta with roasted vegetables, tomatoes, and basil from Epicurious. Tweak as needed. If you don’t have eggplant but have tons of zucchini, use that. Don’t be afraid to mix things up. The beauty of this kind of pasta dishes is that it allows you to get creative. There are no set rules. Other than making sure the pasta is  al dente.  Read more

Manic Monday: Rocking the Bronx. And Syracuse.

How is it possible we have already hit mid-July? I would find that totally unbelievable except for the fact that I’m looking out at my yard as I write this, and it is clearly mid-July out there. It’s like a jungle, with plants run amok and weeds the size of small trees. This is what happens when summer starts to get away from me, and it almost always does. (It just so happens that as I was looking out at my jungle yard, Cari Donaldson posted this wonderful essay  about this very thing. Please go read it when you’re done here.) With everything on our calendar for the coming week (including another trip to NYC with my sister and brother and our families), I suspect things aren’t going to get any tidier any time soon.

Before we get on with the rest of Manic Monday, just take a look at that beautiful July sunset over the Stewart’s Shop near our house. Don’t forget to look for God’s beauty in unexpected places — like when you’re at a gas pump a mile from home.  Anyway, away we go with the rest of Manic Monday…

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Foodie Friday: Slow cooker Thai chicken

We’re dusting of the old Foodie Friday file today to bring you a super easy, super delicious slow cooker recipe. Pop it in the crockpot before you head off to work or the pool and return to dinner ready and waiting. And your house will smell amazing.

We serve this over Basmati rice with a side of steamed snow peas. It’s a favorite with everyone except the vegetarian, but even she has to admit that it smells delicious. Thanks to Dennis for discovering this one. He’s made it quite a few times, but I hadn’t had a chance to sample it until last week because for so long I wasn’t eating meat. Glad I finally got a chance to try it. Read more

Manic Monday: On the edge of summer

Summer vacation STILL hasn’t started for us. A few more days of school before the kids are free and we sit down to make our annual Beach Bucket List. Noah is taking a Regents exam as we speak and still has his big final oral presentation and a Latin final to go. Olivia is hoping thunderstorms don’t wash out the eighth-grade trip to the Great Escape tomorrow. Chiara is waiting for her last (half) day on Wednesday and her big end-of-year gymnastics performance that night, which will include a triple back-handspring and an aerial cartwheel, I’m told. From what I’ve seen in the backyard, I know she’s serious. And we’ll cap off the school activities with Olivia’s eighth-grade graduation on Thursday morning. Good week behind us, good week ahead of us, lots of good all around us. Here’s our Manic Monday menu: Read more

Manic Monday: A pope, a robin’s nest and Pearl Jam

I thought today’s headline should appropriately reflect just how manic this Monday will be, or how manic this past week has been. A little a bit of everything — and then some. Which is exactly the point of Manic Monday. Lots going on lately, and this week will be no different. We wrapped up our week with a first-of-season visit to Jim’s Tastee Freez here in Delmar, which you can see the girls enjoying in that photo on the left. Here’s what the rest of our Manic Monday looks like: Read more