Can you believe this is winter in Sicily? It’s true! The orange groves are one of Sicily’s most loved features. They bring such vibrancy and color to the “winter” months. They are also quite a tasty treat. So, it was no surprise when Britton told me she wanted family portraits taken in one.
If there is one word I could use to describe this family and these photos, it would be FUN! We really enjoyed checking out all of the different varieties of oranges and even watching dad juggle them!! There was even an incredible view of Mt. Etna in the background!! How could you better encapsulate Sicily in one photo? I’m not really sure it’s possible!
Scotland. It’s been on my “to visit” list forever and I just knew I HAD to make it happen. So, with very little lead time, I planned and booked it. Was planning something like this last minute a bad idea? Well, it honestly depends on your budget and flexibility, but we were able to make it work. While in Scotland, we prioritized Edinburgh, Glencoe and surrounding areas, and Isle of Skye. I’d honestly like to go back again one day, because there is just SO MUCH MORE to see!
The highlight of our trip to Scotland was definitely our time on Isle of Skye. All of the other places we visited (Edinburgh, Glencoe/Fort William) were amazing, but Isle of Skye was utterly breathtaking!
We spent three full days driving all around the island, hiking as much as we could, and taking in the sheer beauty of Scotland’s nature. We saw waterfalls, cliffs, flora and fauna, a plethora of sheep, and even the occasional highland cow! There were unlimited views and minimal people, especially compared to some of our other European ventures. The Scottish people were INCREDIBLY kind and overall, I really have nothing but good things to say about the entire adventure. I’m so grateful for the opportunity for visit such a magical place!
Anyone who follows along with me on Instagram knows I’m quite *obsessed* with Etna. However, we have mainly just visited her northern side. From winery visits to our skiing a volcano adventure to this pretty cool hike I did with my friend, Rachel, all Etna adventures have been on her north side. For this long weekend, we decided to check out more of what she has to offer on her south side.
We drove up to the southern cable car station, but did not elect to go up by cable car. Instead, we stopped just down the street from the cable car station near the Silvestri Craters. The lower crater is within view of the parking lot, so it felt natural to start there. The upper crater has two paths. Take the one to the left, as the incline isn’t as insane as the one on the right.
Overall, the hikes were easy (except for the insane incline to get to the top of the upper crater, but there is a way around that). Easy access, easy to hike, and the views were breathtaking. I felt as though I was on Mars most of the time.
Check out some of my favorite images from the experience below.
Christmas markets are one of my favorite experiences in Europe. Since Sicily is so warm year around, it makes getting into the holiday spirit a bit difficult. So, I found the perfect flight that left after work on Friday and returned on a Sunday evening. We jetted off to Frankfurt with the intention of meeting up with and old friend and taking the train down to Strasbourg, France for some Christmas market fun. Turns out France had a major transportation strike that weekend. So, instead of renting a car (totally do-able if that’s what you wanted to do), we decided to check out the markets in the Römerberg part of Frankfurt instead. I’m so glad we did because it was one of our favorite markets thus far. Last year, we visited the markets in Berlin and Budapest and we loved those too! The atmosphere in Frankfurt was just perfect for the holidays and we had a wonderful weekend hanging out with Max and drinking Glühwein!
Our second stop on our Scotland road trip was the village of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. We spent two nights here and explored nearby attractions such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Dunvegan Castle & Gardens, and Loch Ness, while in the area.
Coming from the city of Edinburgh, I couldn’t help but stare at the remarkable peaks that stood before us as we drove into Glencoe. With a clearly marked parking area, Glencoe offers many trails and hikes that can take you all the way up Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian. Be sure to bring your hiking shoes!
Not far from Glencoe is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, in all of it’s glory. Definitely check the schedule online prior to visiting if you want to see the steam train before you go. Also, it’s important to know there is a bit of a walk to the Viaduct from the parking lot, so allow for plenty of time prior to the train passing. We also visited Dunvegan Castle & Gardens on our way to Isle of Skye. was one of my absolute favorite stops on the trip, although I must say, the fog rolling in when we arrived might have had a little something to do with it. Loch Ness was a must see for Jordan. It was absolutely lovely and I know we both would have liked to have spent a bit more time there.
Living in Sicily means LOT OF LEMONS! Growing up in Virginia, I was used to the summer season as the main time of the year for growing plants. In Sicily, it’s fall and winter, and that is just so strange to me. I have to say, I really do love it though. Instead of everything looking all brown and dead, winter is colorful, the grass is green, and it’s clearly a season of growth.
Our lemon tree really took off this year, so I wanted to capture some images of Chalupa and Birdee out in our tiny little yard. Dad joined in for a few because Birdee was very curious as to what was happening outside of the fence. See some of my other shoots from around our neighborhood here and here.
We had some incredibly thick fog one evening. So, of course, I dragged the gang out for a little bit of fog portrait play. These are a few of my favorites from walking around our neighborhood.
I’ve been starting to document our life at home more often. The main reason I ever picked up a camera was because I wanted better photos to keep of our family. I’ve photographed some family things, but mostly travel and photos for others. I decided to take my camera on one of our casual walks around our neighborhood with the puppies. Here are some of my favorite images from this day.
We had the pleasure of visiting Florence to celebrate Jordan’s 30th birthday over Veteran’s Day weekend this past month. His requests for the trip were to stay at a Tuscan villa and to enjoy the local wine and food. So, of course, we did both. We had also originally planned a day trip to Siena, but failed to make it due to all the fun we had. The weekend consisted of a stay at an incredibly ornate Tuscan villa, a Florence food tour, sightseeing with new friends, and a pasta making class with LovexFood in the Chianti Hills outside of the city. We tend to prefer vacations outside of the city, but I have to say, we LOVED Florence!
We splurged a little for Jordan’s birthday weekend and booked a room at the incredibly luxe Villa Cora. The grounds were stunning and the rooms had real paintings, each with their own lighting! The views from the top balcony (which never closed) were breathtaking with the changing autumn leaves. The villa was just a bit south of the city, but they have a free shuttle that will take you in for free. We also walked back and forth a couple of times, and it was approximately at 30 minute walk (depending where you are, of course). Totally worth it!
I can’t believe we lived in Italy for two years and had not yet learned to make pasta! LovexFood just outside of Florence remedied that for us and it was THE BEST experience. I have an entire blog dedicated to this class here. If you’re ever in Florence, I highly recommend booking this experience. If you can book it on your first day (as opposed to your last, like we did), Luca and Lorenzo also provide you with recommendations for food and activities in the city. Don’t think twice about this one!
I’ve said it before – we aren’t tour group people! I’m always a bit skeptical to sign up for tours when we visit cities, but I have yet to be disappointed by a small group food tour. The Taste Florence food tour is no exception! Alessandro, the host, is incredibly knowledgeable and takes you to smaller shops that you wouldn’t normally visit on your own. A butcher, a bakery, a chocolatier, a wine shop, and the local vendors at the food market, were a few of my favorite stops. Alessandro teaches you about the Florentine life as much as he does about the food you’re eating. It felt a bit like I was hanging out with Anthony Bourdain, but with a bit of a different sense of humor. We really enjoyed this tour as well, and Alessandro also provides food and wine recommendations for every desire.
We aren’t huge fans of museums, but we HAD to visit the David while here, and I’d recommend you do too! It was even bigger than I imagined. We also made a point to stroll around to see many of the more famous sights, including Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
One of the most famous dishes in Florence is the Florentine steak. So, we had to have one! I was also a huge fan of the cheese and sage pasta.
Our favorite restaurant locations included:
Coquinarius – for pasta
Casalinda – for the Bistecca (Florentine steak)
Mercato Centrale – for fresh food and a variety of food (check top level for a restaurant -type food hall).
Enoteca Alessi – for wine
All in all, we had so much unexpected fun in Florence, I wouldn’t be surprised if we visited again one day!