Tag Archives: fall

#SweaterWeather and Cocktails at Foxwoods!

I always have a great time when I visit Foxwoods Resort Casino, especially when I pair together some fun activities. Last time it was dinner/drinks and a show. This time around it was shopping and lunch/drinks! That’s what’s great about a casino – I can arrive and park (for free!), and know that I have a long list of ways to have a good time that are available to me in one place.

My friend Rachel and I participated in a fabulous #SweaterWeather blogger outing centered around shopping for fall fashion at the new Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods. Boston and Connecticut bloggers were invited to partake in a little friendly competition – receive a gift card and use it to purchase as many sweaters as possible. The winner was to receive an overnight stay at Foxwoods, dining and spa credit, and more!

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Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival 2013

Make sure you check Cait Plus Ate on Facebook to find out who won my Real Art Ways Oddball giveaway. I hope you’ll consider attending – tickets are still available!

One great thing about a blog is the ability to look back at fun times of the past, especially if those fun times involve annual events. I have blogged about the Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival twice previouslylast year and the year before – but have never missed the festival since my first fall living in CT (2001). It’s frankly just an adorable fall event and really gets attendees in the spirit! The timing is great – the foliage is lovely, it’s not too cold out yet (hoodie/sweater weather!), and the autumn sun is often shining bright. Yes there have been some rainy years, but more often than not the Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival (Apple Fest) fares well weather-wise.


Look at that blue sky!

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Three Things Thursday: Travel Day!

Thanks so much for your comments on yesterday’s special WIAW post about my college food journey! I’ve come a long way and seen both ends of the spectrum, and it’s nice to have your encouragement and support as I continue to work on settling somewhere at a balanced middle.

The weekend will soon be upon us! But for me it begins at 1PM today, which is when I will leave work to get ready to head to the airport and catch a plane to Tennessee. I’m super-excited to reunite with my sister, my Nana Connie, and our close family friends. I’m also thankful that the University of Tennessee vs. Georgia football game we are attending on Saturday starts at 3:30PM. Last year the game started at 8PM and alas, tailgating got the best of me mentally and I did not end up attending the game. This time I am determined to enjoy myself and keep guilty thoughts at bay. I’m hoping for a nice tailgate that doesn’t start too soon before the game (and how could it with the game starting at 3:30PM), a fun game in which the Vols hopefully win, and some chill post-game relaxation at the hotel.

Can't wait to reunite with Nana Connie & my sister!

Can’t wait to reunite with Nana Connie & my sister!

I woke up yesterday with a cold, but am trying not to focus on it. I’m trying to use mind over matter and stay positive and enjoy my trip. Let’s get this Three Things Thursday goin’, as I enjoyed my recent Friday Five and am feeling random today.

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Devours by Devan Victoria – Recipe Guest Post!

One of my friends from college, Devan, is a fellow foodie with a flair for cooking. She is an incredible chef and recipe creator. I am so excited to have this fabulous girl guest blogging for me today! Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Diva Dev and her wonderful eats.

Me with bunny ears and Devan hanging out at the bar during college – my state here is questionable.

I have a confession, I’m obsessed with food: knee deep, head over heels, so very in love with the smell, taste, texture and “mmm” sensations of the countless meals placed on plates before me. But I’m not obsessed with just any food. Yes, lover of all things chocolate, cheese and a tapas fiend  nonetheless, I am excited about the food I create. My creative juices go crazy in the kitchen. Kitchen wiz kid on an appetite high. Unleash my brain overloaded with ideas and eager hands in a stocked kitchen with a full fridge, plentiful pantry and succulent spices galore and watch out for magic. Today, on a sunny lazy Sunday, the magic came out to play.

I DARE YOU TO MAKE THIS, but only if you aren’t embarrassed to experience a food-gasm. A food-gasm is a great thing, but I’m sure you knew that. I bet you’ve experienced a lot of them. Who isn’t ashamed of bulging eyes and the OHMYGODDD that tries to escape your mouth full of the food that just consumed every feeling in your body? It’s a magical thing that comes from magical food and magical tastes. This dish is vibrant, a full on dining experience and an original recipe I want to share with you.

With fall in full swing, farmers markets exploding with fresh produce and seasonal flavors taking over menus, I got inspired. Seasonal ingredientsare the best ingredients to get. Not only are they in season, but they’re DELICIOUS! FRESH! IN SEASON! USE THEM! Cabbage, root vegetables, cranberries, kiwi, pears, broccoli! Fall fruits and vegetables are just waiting at the grocery stores and farmers markets for you to snatch them up and make something sexy with them ;).

Cranberry Gremolata Pork Chops


  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 pound boneless pork chops
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Combine fresh cranberries, rosemary, orange juice/zest, and honey in a small mixing bowl and stir to make the Gremolata. Set aside.
  2. Season both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a skillet with butter and olive oil on medium heat. Add pork chops.
  4. Cook pork chops 4 minutes each side or until cooked through (note: a little pink is safe for pork!).
  5. Remove from heat. Top pork chops with heaping spoonful of Gremolata and serve!

Dressed-Up Cabbage Slaw


  • 1 pound of bacon ( maple or smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground sage
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, sliced/shredded
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook bacon in a skillet. Drain and let cool before crumbling.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add butter, olive oil, garlic, sage and onions. Stir and cook 3 minutes.
  3. Add cabbage and Brussels sprouts to pan. Stir together and let wilt 5 minutes.
  4. Add butter and mix in 1 minute.
  5. Add balsamic, red wine vinegar, and dash of salt and pepper. Mix. Continue cooking 2 minutes.
  6. Season to taste, remove from heat and serve with crumbled bacon on top.

Thank you so much to the talented Devan for dreaming up these inspired fall dishes! I know some of you (myself included) have snow outside your window right now, but winter is not yet here and fall dishes must be taken advantage of and enjoyed for as long as possible! If you make either/both of Devan’s recipes, be sure to share them with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or in an email!

Which of the two recipes do you think you’d enjoy most?

What’s your favorite fall meal?

What else do you think the cranberry Gremolata would be good on?

CT NOW Love Your Body 5K

Hello, Monday readers! I hope your weekends were wonderful. Mine was pretty good! I’m going to start this post off with a tummy update. I have been experiencing nausea, stomach cramping, and other GI stuff off-and-on for almost three weeks now. After my first two frustrating doctor’s visits (during which I was told it was a virus), I finally had a third appointment with my regular doctor. It’s been a lot of waiting for test results, but I’m happy to report that I’m that much closer to an answer to this whole mess. I was just hoping to test positive for SOMETHING and I got a call on Friday afternoon reporting to me that, low and behold, I had. My tests revealed the presence of a bacteria that can cause the on-and-off symptoms I’ve been experiencing and there is an antibiotic that can treat it. I immediately felt flooded with relief. I honestly was going to be panicky if my tests had shown nothing wrong. Images of being a Dr. House impossible-to-diagnose case have been flashing through my mind.

Of course, if this fine man was treating me, maybe I could keep a positive mindset. Source.

The antibiotics that can treat this bacteria tend to have side effects of even worse nausea though, so my doctor does not want to put me on them until they get the last of my test results back (hopefully on Monday). Once it’s confirmed that I have tested negative for everything else except this one bacteria, I will be treated for it. They don’t want me on these antibiotics unless I have to be, especially since it is so important for me to feel the best I possibly can so that I can get in the calories I need. I understand that for sure, but am also anxious to start the medication so that I can be sure that this bacteria really is what is causing my symptoms. I was so excited to test positive for something that I didn’t catch the name of the bacteria or meds when I was on the phone with my doc – oops. I will try to get them from her today and report back to you guys.


Now onto the subject of this post! Awhile back I announced that I’d signed up for the CT Chapter of the National Organization for Women‘s Love Your Body 5K  at the West Hartford Reservoir. I’m thankful that my good blend Maria was game to sign up with me; together we formed Team #AmazingMeI could hardly believe race day was already here when I woke up Saturday morning. Unfortunately my stomach was not 100% upon first waking but I rested at home for a couple of hours, drank up an apple cider vinegar and water “cocktail”, and popped an Imodium before I hit the road.

I’m one amazing, Fitfluential lady!

Since the race took place so close to Halloween, Maria and I immediately wanted to plan matching costumes. I decided that pink superheroes would be perfect for us. We love our pink and it fit perfectly with our team theme! I got a couple of fairly nice tech tees from Wal-Mart, and we decorated them with Sharpies before the race started. I represented the team name and Fitfluential on my tee, while Maria represented the team and Sweat Pink, for which she is an ambassador.

I loooove running skirts – and hot pink sneakers! Also wore my beloved Sweaty Band from the Fitness Mag Meet & Tweet swag bag!

I couldn’t believe Maria was able to find pink superhero capes, but she did! Actually, I think they were supposed to be pink vampire capes, given the classy collars. They still fit our purpose and everyone understood that we were supposed to be superheroes – with the exception of one little girl cheering for me at the finish line saying, “GO ballerina, GO!” OK, ballerina works too!

Maria testing out the cape after first putting it on. How much do you love her socks?

The cape passed the test!

After getting “dolled up”, we made a porta-potty pit stop (bleh) and picked up our numbers. The cherries on top of our costumes were these awesome signs that were available to fill out before participants proceeded to the starting line.

Not ours but I sure liked these ideas!

It was so inspiring throughout the race to see each participant wearing a sign that displayed how proud they were of themselves. Some even used their signs to display affection for the important people in their lives – and really, aren’t they truly better than any “perfect” body part? I especially loved the sign on one man running in front of me at a point that said “I Love My Love (Lori).”  Whether Lori is his wife, girlfriend, sister, best friend, it’s pretty clear that she lights up his life and he wanted to remember her while he ran. I myself am trying to get away from seeing my body parts individually. I am so used to honing in on one part of me (most often my stomach) and criticizing myself for imperfections, even when I rationally know that a perfect body is NOT the path to happiness and that many things “wrong” I see with myself aren’t even there. It has really been helpful to me to stop myself whenever I find myself concentrating on one body part, and focus on the entire amazing me. That’s why I filled out my sign as follows…

Maybe the vampire collar was going to my head.

Maria went a similar route!

Woooo bod pod!

We decided to start out running together, but if one of us picked up a faster pace, she was of course free to move forward. Immediately I started out feeling pretty good and surged a little bit ahead. I still carefully monitored my stomach – at the first feeling of nausea, I planned to scale it back.

Thanks for this great pic, Maria!

The race course was gorgeous. The West Hartford Reservoir is incredibly beautiful and I had only gone running there during the summertime. The sight pictured above truly took my breath away. As I ran by each lake-and-leaves scene I felt overwhelmed by the beauty before my eyes and I truly felt a wave of “zen” wash over me. It’s amazing what nature can do!

Throughout the race course there were NOW CT volunteers spread out with encouraging signs. It was a fantastic addition to the 5K! My favorite sign said “Si Se Puede!”…anyone else remember that Disney Channel original movie? I also was a big fan of this guy with his “You Are Wonderful!” sign. I pointed at him and said, “No, YOU are!”

Our costumes were a huge hit! A lot of people I ran by smiled and cheered for me, saying, “Nice cape!’ I think I need to just wear this costume every day of my life because those smiles certainly made me feel great. The cape stayed on well despite the fact that it was only secured around my neck by one piece of velcro!

Unfortunately as I was going down one of the last big hills of the course, I got a REALLY bad stitch in my side. Maria came up behind me and stopped to check on me, advising me to massage the cramp. I did so while breathing out for as long as I could (I heard that this helps side cramps) but did have to stop and walk. For a second I felt disappointed in myself, especially as the folks I’d previously passed were passing me. However the feeling quickly passed. I mean, I have not been feeling my best and here I was running a 5K! My body needed walking and I gave it just that. As I neared where I knew the finish line was I felt confident that the cramp had passed and picked up the pace to a jog, and then a run. Once I was close to the finish line I saw that the clock read 29:40. In the back of my mind I’d had a goal to finish this 5K in under 30 minutes, so I broke into a sprint and crossed at the (unofficial) time of 29:54. Amazing Me indeed!

Maria and I post-race!

My friend and former co-worker Brian was working at the finish line and handed me a water bottle. He is the one who told me about this event and I am so grateful that he did! It gave me a chance to donate to a cause I believe in, feel inspired, and hang out with a good friend in a beautiful setting.

Thanks Brian! He loves his quads!

The post-race swag was quite impressive! The shirts actually fit well and I am wearing mine today at work. I love representing a race or event in the workplace – yay for a casual dress code in my office!

Oops, mirror image. #selfieproblems

However the very best part of the swag was, to me, the fact that they offered bananas of varying ripeness. I have never seen that before…there were both plain yellow and brown-spotted bananas. Most people are very particular about their banana ripeness and I don’t know if it’s just me but I was seriously blown away that there was a choice for runners!

Plain yellow…

…and brown-spotted too! This was my choice.

Maria and I also snagged some natural lip balm, White Chocolate Macadamia Luna bars, oranges, and Chewy bars (you’re welcome, little brother).

Me with my swag bag!

Something else caught my eye at the swag table…local CT wine?! Turns out the top three male and female finishers each got a bottle. I joked that if I had known, maybe I would’ve picked up the pace a bit 😛 and suggested they gift the only costumed runners with wine as well. I got a “maybe next year!” in response to that. Nice try, Caitlin.

Unfortunately after we got to our cars, Maria and I had to part ways. She had errands to run and a best friend’s birthday to prep for, and I had (still have…) a paper to write. But I left happy that I’d seen her, proud of myself for walking when I needed to, and pleased that I was still feeling good in the tummy! Oh, and extremely grateful for such a WARM October day. Seriously, I don’t mind this part of global warming.

Thank you to the CT Chapter of the National Organization of Women for putting on a great event with an inspiring message!

Have you ever dressed up for an athletic event? What was your costume?

Have you ever participated in a love-your-body centered event? Did it inspire you?

What’s the best race swag/tee you’ve ever gotten?

Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival 2012

I really could use a heavy dose of positive thoughts today, and hope writing this post will be just the ticket. For those just tuning in I have been having on-and-off GI stuff going on for a couple of weeks. Yesterday I was feeling 99.99% back to the old me. I even went to Group Power and was able to lift weights almost as heavily as I usually do (I scaled them back slightly just in case). I came home and chowed down on a tasty dinner and a couple small glasses of Cab. About fifteen minutes later, I was hit with the worst wave of nausea I’ve experienced yet during these last two weeks. I didn’t sleep much and still feel just as shitty today. I went to work because a) there was stuff I needed to get done and b) I just hate missing work. I’m always paranoid that people will think I’m faking sick or “not sick enough” to stay home. It’s smartest to rest though, so that’s what I’m doing. Currently I am at home, blogging in my PJs, drinking Evening Comfort Tea from Daybreak.

Apparently several of you agree with my tweet.

I actually looked up Giardisis (parasitic infection) on WebMD per my co-worker’s suggestion and am definitely going to ask my doc about it tomorrow. The last two visits were each with a different doc, both of which are not my normal one, so I am hoping that my usual doctor tomorrow will be more open to a suggestion that THIS ISN’T A VIRUS. I really don’t think viruses last two weeks and leave you feeling fine one day and like shit the next. I am also hoping hoping HOPING that the test results I’m waiting on will contain an answer. Giardisis is characterized by symptoms that come and go and that’s DEFINITELY what I’ve been experiencing.

What better way to cheer myself up than reliving the amazing fall event I attended this past Saturday – the Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce‘s 38th annual Apple Harvest Festival!

Fall is my favorite time of year in my hometown!

I have attended the Apple Fest almost every year since I’ve lived in CT, and recapped it during the blog’s earlier days. The Chamber of Commerce enjoyed that post so much that they asked me to cover the event again this year. Don’t mind if I do – I never miss an Apple Fest!

Way to be social media savvy, Chamber of Commerce!

I attended with Jeff and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful fall day! Perfect light jacket weather, a crisp breeze, and bright, strong sun. We got cups of Pumpkin Spice coffee to go from Daybreak (of course) and set off to Glastonbury’s Riverfront Park.

I see rides!

I was happy to see that the great weather had already brought out a good crowd even just an hour after the Apple Fest’s 10am start time. Jeff and I started by perusing the field’s exterior to take a peek at the food vendors, as well as the Beer Garden. This was the first year ever that the Apple Fest had a Beer Garden and I snuck in before they opened to snap some photos.

The Beer Garden featured local beers AND wine! The price of $5 per glass of anything impressed me as well. I’d expected baseball-stadium $12 beers.

Four wines were featured from Colchester’s Priam Vineyards.

Shoutout to City Steam, Hooker, and Olde Burnside…and there was hard cider too!

I wasn’t feeling interested in imbibing at 11AM though. Though perhaps if I had I could have become a party animal like my friends…

BABY PYGMY GOAT. This guy was so small he kept escaping through the metal bars!

…it’s time for PHOTOS OF CAITLIN WITH FARM ANIMALS! Yes, this was not only the first year that the Apple Fest had the Beer Garden, but also a petting zoo!

Clearly wishing this child would back off my goat.

Llama rejection.


Llama mama.

Bye bye llama.

Lovin’ the lambs!

The only animal pic Jeff would be in, boo.

I probably spent the most time having fun in the petting zoo out of any adult at the event. I even came back for a second visit in hopes of getting a pic with the most exotic member of the zoo, Polly-Anna the camel.

During our first visit, she was chillin in this position and refused to move.

Later she was ready for pics!

Her head was surprisingly soft! The fur looked so matted.

End scene.

I came to the Apple Fest armed with cash to peruse and purchase goods from the local craft and food vendors. It’s the perfect place to find adorable, unique, delicious, insert-positive-adjective-here products!

Totally intrigued by my local TCBY‘s Coffee Liqueur froyo flavor!

Handmade finger puppets, some of which I have to say barely resembled their intended characters.


C is for CAITLIN!

That’s what he said? No wait, he never would.

Wicked Wicks combined two of my obsessions…mason jars and candles…to make non-GMO soy candles!

How cute are these wine bottle carrying cases by Sinful Spirit?!

I adore fall crafts! I know Lisa would love these 🙂 except that cat is kinda creepy.

Christmas meets Halloween.

Eons of cat salt and pepper shakers for all my #catsofinstagram peeps.

My family’s church’s baked potato booth is always a HUGE hit!

This Curry Nut Crunch Granola by Platte Clove Naturals of NY was one of the tastiest granolas I’ve ever had!

I brought home a bag of these delectable gems – Garlic Nut Crunch granola chunks!

I wish I knew of the vendor who made this beautiful bag – it was only $15.

Perfect for my school books!

After spending more money than I should have (and somehow Jeff walked away without spending a dime) we decided to do something I haven’t had a chance to do since the last Applefest – ride the rides!

“Family” ticket deal – 24 for $20.

A less-seen perspective of a ferris wheel!

I was a bit scared of the first ride we went on but I’d been on once before and (obviously) lived, so I agreed to ride whatever this thing below is called.

The random top 40 music coming from this ride was at least quite calming.

Of course I had an amazing time on the ride and wished it lasted longer. It was my favorite of the day for sure and I wish I’d taken my camera on there to get some cool aerial shots. I was sure to take my camera on another ride, the Scrambler, but instead of aerial shots we ended up with mucho selfies.

Jeff and I happened upon a fun Werther’s Original candies booth after we departed the rides area. Yes, that is a glass container where leaves blow around and you grab as many as you can to try to win free candy.

Obviously I volunteered.

Frantically stuffing leaves into the box to try to get 20 gold leaves.

I emerged triumphant and windswept.

I won the candy!!! Gifted it to Heather‘s dad 🙂

Then we enjoyed a 3-course snack with the Vitamix man!

We started with a green juice…

…proceeded to a hot tortilla soup…

…and finished with (unpictured) frozen cashew butter!


On our way out of the Apple Fest, we spotted CT Senate candidate Linda McMahon schmoozing with some teens. I myself am not a Linda fan (or really a fan of either candidate we have running for Senate) so I didn’t say hello, just snapped my creepy paparazzo pic.

A guy and his pie.

The cherry on top of Jeff’s day, or the apple, was likely the above apple crumb pie, a gift to us from the Chamber of Commerce! Many thanks 🙂 I left the Apple Fest with a bunch of stuff I’d bought, and Jeff left with a free homemade pie. I’ll try not to think about that one.

Writing this post has definitely helped put me in a bit of a cheerier mood – it was such a fun day! I don’t plan to live in CT for the rest of my life (or a lot longer for that matter) but whenever I leave, I will certainly miss the Apple Fest. It’s such a fun fall tradition that brings me back to old memories…

Apple Fest 2007 – been taking ride selfies for the last five years!

…and creates new ones!

Thank you the Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce for having Jeff, me, and a few of my other friends at the Apple Harvest Festival! I received the tickets and pie for free, but all opinions are my own.

Do you have any experience or know someone with experience with a stomach parasite?

Which of the Apple Fest activities I partook in looks the most fun to you?

What’s your favorite fall event or activity?

Edmondson’s Farm: Fall Decor At Its Finest!

TGIF!!! I am already feeling like it’s going to be a good weekend. Yesterday, my professor showed up to class 15 minutes late, and proceeded to tell us we’d be getting out over an hour early! I used the extra free time to attend Group Power and finally check out the newest release. I was fairly satisfied, but thought the second leg track was a bit too easy. It was still nice to get a surprise lifting session in! I came home to an awesome dinner and of course, an ice cream sandwich follow-up.

I also woke up early this morning (a good early, as in naturally, before my alarm, feeling well-rested). So, I left home ahead of schedule, beat some traffic, and got some term paper research done at Starbucks before work. It was nice to do some reading, even if academic related, and start my morning out NOT looking at a screen.

Continuing with the fall vibes I’ve been feelin’ lately, I thought I’d share the awesome experience I had on Sunday (before the Applefest) at a little farm Joe and I stumbled upon after I picked him up. Edmondson’s Farm was advertising hayrides on a road sign, so we pulled over and were pleasantly surprised to find not just hay rides, but tons of pumpkins and an adorable country store with extremely affordable autumn decor! I was freaking out – and so was Joe, but over the fudge selection, not the home furnishings.

While Joe was deciding on his fudge flavor of choice, I was busy picking out as many decorations as I can hold. I am a decor junkie.

I couldn’t argue with the prices though. That sign on the right was only $4.99. Seriously?! I’ve seen stuff like that at specialty shops for $20!!

How cool is that painting with the crow? I really wanted it but had to restrain myself. And the bronze sun would look beautiful in a garden!

Don’t worry, I didn’t buy that pumpkin-scarecrow-manthing. He weirded me out a bit.

But I did get plenty of decor for my cubicle at work, including a Christmas decoration that will have to wait until after Thanksgiving for its debut!

We didn’t even end up getting to do the hay ride because it had just left when we arrived, and we were on a schedule (as I always seem to be…), but I didn’t mind at all because now my workspace is a little bit cheerier and definitely Halloween-ready.

Why yes, I have a giraffe print stapler, why do you ask?

I’ve clearly been bitten hard by the decorating bug, so I also went to a hardware store last weekend to get adhesive magnetic strips for the ceramic piece that I painted at the Claypen a few weeks ago! Yay LivingSocial deals! All I had to do was stick the strips on the back of the piece (the adhesive is fairly strong) and ta-da, I had a giant magnet that I could stick on my cabinet!

I’m feeling so thrifty! I’m pretty sure I have the most decorated cube in the whole office, but I love it. I spend a lot of time here, so why not make it fun?

This post has quickly gone from farmstand fudge to how-to-decorate-your-cubicle – funny how that happens!

And by the way, Joe chose the maple walnut fudge. He said it had plenty of maple, but not enough walnuts. In case you were wondering.

Do you decorate your cubicle at work? What’s your favorite flavor of fudge?

Apple Harvest Festival 2011

On Sunday, I attended the Apple Harvest Festival that my town puts on every year. It’s a beloved tradition around here, the kind of thing kids come home from college for. I truly believe there is something for every age group – it used to be the rides that drew me in. Then it was the craft tables and food. Now I can honestly say I participated in everything – and I got to do it all on a pretty fall day too. I had an amazing time!

I won free tickets on the festival’s Facebook page, so Joe and I got to bypass the whole spending-money-at-the-door thing (in favor of spending way too much money once we were through the doors). We were greeted immediately by a person in an apple suit. Seriously, I was loving it already.

Lucky for him I don't actually like apples.

I was hungry upon our arrival, so we trudged through the muddy fields to see what food options awaited us. Answer: EVERYTHING. It was one of those occasions when I wished I had about 5 stomachs – I have never seen such a variety of tasty food at the Applefest before! And of course it coincides with the point in my life where I am at my peak level (so far) of foodie.

This booth was selling some of the freshest pulled-pork sandwiches I've ever seen.

I was freaking out about all the food, but Joe was pretty calm. He knew what he wanted.

Fried dough with marinara and sugar of course!

While I was decided, I went to visit my mom at her church’s baked potato booth. Remember the attack of the potatoes? Well, they clearly didn’t stand a chance because they were being sold to hungry fair-goers topped with cheese, bacon, chunky salsa, and broc. Mmm.

But I passed on a potato, because we were having them with dinner that night anyway. And the sign to the right of that booth caught my eye…

Be still, my heart! Greek food love! For just $3, I got one of my favorite Mediterannean creations…

(Green?) falafel and tzatziki sauce!

Does anyone know why the inside of this falafel is green? Does that mean it’s not legit? I mean probably…it’s from a fair…but it still tasted DELICIOUS and the outside was so satisfyingly crunchy. If you tell me it’s fake I won’t care!

We continued on our journey and picked up free Chobani Champions yogurt from the Chobani truck! I also got a free bag to carry my purchases in, in exchange fro the promise to like them on Facebook – and I did, obviously. I’m a woman of my word!

And then it was time for perusing the craft booths. Ran into my friends Capa di Roma and sampled more of their awesome marinara sauce – even though I already know what it tastes like and that I love it. Stopped by Ariston Olive Oil‘s display too and purchased garlic-stuffed olives. This olive/garlic freak was in heaven. They had an impressive display of olive oils and vinaigrettes for sampling and purchase!

One of the coolest cooking creations I came across was made by Judecraft Specialty Foods. They make “gourmet dip mixes, cheesecake dessert mixes, and bread dipping blends” in tons of varieties. There was a sample out for every single dip flavor! I went to town – the creamier dips were created by blending the mix with some sour cream and other simple ingredients (listed on each package) and pretzel sticks were provided as the “sampling tool”.

I was most enthused by the mixes meant to be blended with olive oil though. They were sampled on crusty bread and I knew after one bite that I’d have to take some of these home with me. I went with one package each of the Bruschetta, Garlic Butter, and Grecian Delight (obviously).

Though I was no longer hungry from falafel and samples at this point, that didn’t stop me from spending several minutes oggling desserts. And sampling peanut butter and maple fudge.

Had one of these at '09's fest…amazing.

And then it was time for RIDES! I didn’t think a cheap-o like me would be willing to fork over $20 to go on a few rides, but I was feeling the Applefest spirit.

The rides were SO worth it, even if just for the pictures I got. Awesome views from the ferris wheel!

My favorite shot of the day.

Awkward spindly finger clutching the edge?

Mid-ride photos are the best.

After three rides, we determined it was time to head out, and hit the local mall and DSW to run errands. And, for the better, we both left purchase-less. I also almost left phone-less because I lost (and found) my phone in DSW. D’oh, careless.

What a fun day though! Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce for putting on such an awesome event 🙂

Do you have a local fall festival in your area that you attend?

Autumn Leaves Cheese Festival

Did everyone survive Monday? I did, and was glad to come home after a nice elliptical/Group Power session and feast on a classic dad-grilled meal and watch the last ep of SNL. Did anyone else see it? Reviews I’ve read are hatin’ on Ben Stiller and saying he can’t top Melissa McCarthy’s AKA the original Sookie (none of this True Blood business, GG all the way!), but I actually thought her hosting job was completely lackluster and I barely laughed during her episode, whereas last night my dad and I were absolutely cracking up. And ZOOLANDER made an appearance? How can you not love it?

I also love how in last night’s class, I increased my weights during both the triceps and shoulder tracks. And I’m not dying nearly as much in the bicep track (definitely my toughest muscle group to improve in)! The day I increase the weight on that one will be an exciting day indeed, but I think I’ll make that my next Group Power mini-goal. Do you set mini-goals for yourself when you work out? I find them more fun because you usually conquer them sooner 🙂

I have been seriously slacking on both food and fashion photos, and I swear I will post them soon, but for now I’d love to recap the Autumn Leaves Cheese Festival that I ended this past Sunday at Beltane Farms.

I arrived and made a beeline for the wine tasting table (priorities, people) hosted by Priam Vineyards.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the wines were different than the ones I sampled at my first tasting there! I love how I’m expanding into whites lately too. My very favorite wine that I tried was the Salmon River Red, and the woman running the booth even gave me an extra pour. I think she could tell I would appreciate it! The wines that were being sampled were of a nice variety and no two wines I tasted were alike. That is just the way I prefer my tastings!

Next I headed to Savor, LLC of Waterbury’s table to try some of the most unique cookie flavors I’ve ever heard of! The seasonal smoked red onion contained, you guessed it, smoked red onions, which were a great contrast of flavors with the sweet, shortbread-like cookie. They were also selling lavendar and roasted leek varieties! Their website has a black olive flavor – now that I’ve gotta try. I’m an olive freak!

There was also a nutty fudge from Harbor Candy Shop in Maine out for sampling that was so tasty. Definitely not too rich like you often see with fudge.

Two thumbs up to Savor! Their packaging was adorable too – little things like that make a huge difference.

Next it was time for something salty – Appalachian Naturals sauces and spreads on tortilla chips!

Pictured above is the cilantro lime vinaigrette, which was a bit hard to sample since the oil kept sliding off the spoon before it could get onto my chip (I didn’t want to dip). Still, what I tasted was very good. I also am a cilantro freak, so anything cilantro I am bound to love. There were other dressings (ginger miso, which tasted exactly like miso soup) as well as some awesome chipotle honey mustard and a sundried tomato horseradish (definitely my favorite).

Now time for something sweet from Peace Tree Desserts! These guys are all about organic, sustainable food, as well as making what I can honestly call the best caramel sauce I have ever tasted. It’s made with goat’s milk and has a Mexican dulce de leche (founder Robyn Ead’s words) vibe to it. The particular type of caramel is called cajeta caramel and Peace Tree makes applejack, curry, rosemary, cinnamon, and lemon flavors.

Isn’t Robyn’s apron beyond cute? Her friend made it for her!

Next I spoke with a nice man, Ron Pinto of Winding Drive Jams & Jellies. I was pleased to hear that he gets a good portion of his ingredients from farms in my town! He and his wife make marmalade, jams, and jellies by hand. I sampled the Pear Eau de Vie jam (Bartlett pears and French pear brandy). It was delicious! If only it had been made with Bosc pears, my one true love…well, after pickles and cilantro and olives.

Other notable flavors I’d love to try next time I see Ron at an event: Strawberry Pinot Noir, Roasted Garlic (AH another love) & Caramelized Onion, and Mint Rosemary! I have a feeling the Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Onion could be a future purchase for use on the many meats we are always grilling.

I tried some of the best feta (seriously, I need to stop proclaiming I love things in this post, but oh how I love feta) at the booth run by Taylor Farm Cheese of Vermont.

Holy cow (see photo on the packaging) there is nothing like fresh-made cheese. After this event I am thoroughly convinced that I can never eat non-local cheese again.

Aren’t they pretty? Almost too pretty to unwrap – but too tasty NOT to. I encountered a cheese-tease when I sampled Vermont Ayr, a Crawford Family Farm creation. There was none available to buy, hence the tease comment, but I think I could have eaten an entire block. With some Ritz crackers, please and thank you.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Phyllis of Mariah’s Chow Chow Relish again! My mom and I fell in love with her Sweet & Spicy relish after I purchased some at the Coventry Farmer’s Market, and this time I sampled the Sweet & Hot. It was the perfect amount of hot, and I’m pretty sensitive to spicy foods. Phyllis was kind enough to give me a jar to take home and enjoy – thank you Phyllis! I can’t wait to open it once we finish the first jar!

Thanks Mariah’s Relish for the image!

Though I’ve already tried Beltane Farms fresh chevre (I had some of the chive flavor on my english muffin this morning in fact), I was excited to try many new varieties of chevre and other cheeses. The garlic herb chevre, paired with crackers, was awesome.

Another reason I love these types of events, besides tasting all the food and supporting the local businesses, is getting to expand my own palate! Danse de la lune (French ripened cheese with brie rind), Harvest Moon (hard, nutty cheese), and vespers (French ripened cheese) are all cheeses I never tried before and realized I love. I also sampled the ricotta, but was not a huge fan (never have been though).

Artisan Food Store of Southbury, CT helped put on this event, but they also were selling their cheeses and had a generous number of samples to hand out – I must have tried almost 10 varieties at their booth! I bought some cheese and was reminded that their next event, the CT Cheese & Wine Festival, is in just a couple of weeks – woo hoo! More cheese and wine!

I stopped by The Farmer’s Cow to pick up a free carton of fresh skim. They also were giving out apple cider (not my thing) and selling farm-fresh ice cream for just $1! Most people that came by seemed to be choosing the coffee flavor – can’t blame them.

Ladies of Lebanon (no photo – sorry!) offered me some of their chive cottage cheese. It was delicious, but I actually prefer 1% cottage cheese to the 4% because due to the lower fat content, it is easier for me to dip my veggie chips into it (veggie chips and chive cottage cheese are one of my favorite snacks). I was lucky enough to purchase their last fresh greek yogurt. I had some last night for dessert and it was very decadent, but very good. Just a little bit was enough to satisfy me!

I unintentionally saved what ended up being my favorite part of the festival for last. Rachel LaPorte, a chef and teacher at Windham Tech High School, whipped up goat cheese and swiss chard crepes for us! I know this is a sin, but I’ve never had a sweet OR savory crepe. The reason I know this is a sin is because after trying this thing, I was in disbelief. It was AMAZING! The swiss chard was sauteed and so fresh. She used only ingredients, with flour being the exception, that had come from Beltane Farm. I could taste the difference!

Now I’m craving one all over again, and it doesn’t help that I’ve been snacky all day (thank you strength training). I may try to recreate something similar to this at home, since a co-worker was kind enough to give me some swiss chard from his garden yesterday. If that isn’t fate I don’t know what is. Not sure if I could master a crepe, but maybe an omelette would be a good breakfast option for this weekend. We’ll see!

Don’t worry, that is not what I paid for that cheese!

Thank you to Artisan Foods and Beltane Farm for putting on such an awesome event!

What’s your favorite cheese? What’s the best crepe combo you’ve ever had?

October Opportunities

Happy October! I can’t believe September is already gone. It seriously flew by! Though I love summer and being warm, I did get a little excited as I was driving to the Coventry Farmer’s Market yesterday (gonna have to post about my purchases ASAP) and saw the fall foliage creeping onto the trees, as well as signs announcing various local fall festivals and Halloween events. I love me some fall! EDIT: Right after posting this I discovered I had won two free tickets to the AppleFest that I mention in this post – is that fate or what!?

Right near my dorm!

Meghann did a post on things about October that she is looking forward to, and though mine may not be as hardcore as hers (marathon training? Umm…) I thought it sounded like a good way to get myself excited about the month ahead and give other people ideas for fun things they can do this fall at the same time!

Amazing fall beverage I had on Saturday: bourbon infused with peach, apple, and cinnamon at Rooftop120 in Glastonbury, CT.

So for those of you who want to know…what am I looking forward to about October?

1. Visiting Tennessee

Orange Nation AKA my family.

In the last weekend of this month, my family and I get to fly down to UT to see my sister and catch a football game! I’m so excited to see Hannah’s school and her dorm, and also to tailgate and attend my first UT football game since I was very young. My family is made up of some die-hard Vols fans, and despite being a UConn alum, I will always be a Vol through and through! I was just raised that way. There really is nothing like SEC football and I’m hoping the fall weather will be out in full-force for the game to add to the fun, cozy vibe of bonding over the game with my family.

Yes, that was my uncle’s 50th birthday cake.

2. Fall Festivals

Oh wow, just thinking about all the fall-like events I have lined up for this month gets me so psyched! The AppleFest in my town is always a huge deal, and like a townie nerd I seriously can’t wait. I even plan to volunteer at our church’s baked potato booth at this event, and if you didn’t know already, I’m a serious baked potato addict.

I also just recently found out about a few wine-and-cheese festivals at local farms that are reasonably priced and will be happening in the weekends to come. I am so excited to try new wines, cheeses, and more, as well as support local farms and vineyards. They’re all so reasonably priced and it’s a good idea to do a local search to find out if anything like this is happening in your area!

Corn maze in South Windsor, CT.

I’m also pretty excited to completely nerd out and check out the CT Renaissance Faire and their Halloween Knights event this weekend. I love all things Halloween and Lidia and I are planning to hit up this thing to shop, eat, and oh yeah, dress up. Yes, I ordered a costume off of WalMart.com.

Lidia and I are no strangers to nerding out when it comes to fall activities.

3. Halloween

Even though I am unfortunately past the age of trick-or-treating, and now past the age of college bar-hopping as well (I maintain my opinion that Halloween is the best weekend of college each year), I still can’t help but get excited for Halloween. I’ve already started decorating my work cubicle and bought a little ladybug outfit to wear there since the holiday falls on a Monday. This will also totally reflect how much of a grandma I am, but I’m excited to spend my first Halloween at home handing out candy. Please don’t make fun of me. I think it’ll just be fun to see the excited kids in their costumes!

There’s really nothing like a college Halloween.

I also think that it’ll get old after about 15 minutes since a) no one ever comes to our house and b) I can’t really stand kids. But we’ll see how it goes.

If a Green Man shows up on my front step, I’ll be shocked.


Foliage right by my house!

There’s really not much more I can say about this. I just love fall leaves. LOVE THEM. On a sunny day there is just nothing more beautiful than driving down a road framed on either side by orange, yellow, and red leaved trees.

Driving through upstate NY.

5. School

I’m such a loser. But yes you read that right, I enjoy school and in October, we really start getting into the meat of material in courses now that we’re past the intro stuff. So yes, I am looking forward to school. Maybe not starting my ten-page paper, but at least it’s on a subject that I’m interested in (corporate ethics and marketing in the fast food industry). And with school also comes more time studying in my new favorite cafe each weekend. Their newest coffee flavor is chocolate dipped banana – what’s not to love?

What are you looking forward to most this coming month? Do you have any goals for the month that you want to share?

PS. Completely off-topic but I totally forgot to post one of my pizza creations in my pizza making post!

Broccoli and fat-free ricotta. Not the most creative of pies but certainly tasty. Those are roasted brussels on the side 🙂 favorite roasted veggie.