Airbnb home
Anniversary Getaway and more

1. Anniversary Getaway: our eighth wedding anniversary was last weekend, so we treated ourselves to a celebration getaway at a beautiful Airbnb in Virginia. As per usual during the pandemic, we brought our own food—using our new Igloo cooler—and cooked at home in the gorgeous chef’s kitchen (though we grilled on the patio the first night). We basically spent our trip relaxing, watching Survivor, and playing games. It was fantastic and we would love to return to this Airbnb.

Airbnb home

2. Cinque Terre Puzzle: while John was in out of town visiting family recently, I worked on this puzzle that I bought because we visited Cinque Terre on our honeymoon! (We only went to Riomaggiore; I believe the village in this puzzle is Manarola.) I wanted to complete the puzzle and surprise John with it when he returned. Mission accomplished! How dreamy is this place…we need to return to Italy someday.

Cinque Terre puzzle

3. Empress Gin: a few weeks ago I made my first trip into a local liquor store in more than a year. I did a quick shop to minimize my time inside (and I masked up even though I’m vaccinated, because I’m still paranoid and don’t trust unvaccinated people to wear masks). I spotted this gorgeous purple bottle on the checkout counter so I 100% got it as an impulse purchase. I’ve seen friends post about this gin on Instagram and wanted to try it for myself. I’m not a big gin fan, but it’s too pretty not to try! The purple hue comes not from food coloring but from butterfly pea blossom…and the gin changes color depending on what you mix into it. How fun…and tasty, too!

Empress Gin

4. Trader Joe’s Breaded Fried Ravioli: growing up in St. Louis, toasted ravioli was a THING. It’s an appetizer on basically all local Italian menus, and sometimes it’s found at other types of restaurants as well. My high school revolted when the cafeteria stopped offering the occasional lunchtime toasted rav, so they brought it back. I’m not sure why St. Louis calls these ravioli “toasted,” because “breaded and fried” is an accurate description of how the pasta is prepared. When I saw on social media that TJ’s had released this dish, I hoped it wouldn’t disappear before we felt comfortable returning to shop there! A few weeks ago, John finally made a TJ’s trip and lo and behold, he snagged a bag. And the t-ravs did not disappoint! Fingers crossed that these become a staple in the TJ’s freezer section.

TJs Breaded Fried Ravioli

5. Jeni’s Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream: speaking of St. Louis treats, this ice cream is another STL specialty that recently entered my life. Gooey butter cake is another STL tradition that I ate plenty of in my 18 years there. Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn has a fantastic Ooey Gooey Butter Cake ice cream flavor that I wrote about years ago. Jeni’s recently opened a new location by John’s office, and he surprised me by bringing home a pint of this flavor. It is so good: cream cheese ice cream layered with crumbles of soft vanilla cake and swirls of caramel-butterscotch sauce. HELLO, GET IN MY MOUTH. It’s been so long since I tried the Ample Hills version that I really can’t compare the two. But I’ve already finished the pint and would absolutely get this stuff again.

Jeni's Gooey Butter Cake Ice Cream