AK Monthly Recap: February 2023

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The month started with a week in Sicily and ended with a brand new, completely unforeseen product launch. Fabulous!

Let’s take a look at what made February great.

Kate smiling, sitting at an outdoor table, holding up an Aperol spritz in one hand and a bowl full of fried seafood in another.
Spritzes and fritto misto — that’s what Italy does!

Destinations Visited

  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Palermo, Monreale, Castellammare del Golfo, Mazara del Vallo, Marsala, Erice, San Vito Lo Capo, Scopello, Calatafimi, and Balestrate, Italy

Highlights

Launching Passport to Confident Solo Female Travel was an incredible ride! I’m going to write about this in the “Side Projects Update” section further down.

A fun trip to Western Sicily. This was going to be our winter 2023 escape — 10 days in Sicily, based in Palermo for most of the time, then some driving around and exploring!

First off — the weather unfortunately was not on our side, which I’ll go into in the “Challenges” section, and unfortunately that put a damper on much of the trip. But there was a lot of great stuff, too.

Palermo is one of my new favorite places in Italy. It’s such a cool city — energetic and friendly yet surprisingly chilled (and far more low-key than I expected — I thought it would be like Naples). It’s also FANTASTIC value for money, where you can eat extremely well for under 10 euros and get a giant, filling arancini for a euro.

We dove into Sicilian food, hardcore. Palermo has a lot of unusual dishes that you won’t find elsewhere in Sicily, and we worked our way through a long list I had put together. Expect the big Sicilian food post soon!

Beyond Palermo, we got to visit several cool towns. Erice was a highlight — a beautiful hill town perched up in the clouds, with spectacular views from above. And San Vito Lo Capo is a place I want to return to in summer — a North African-flavored town with gorgeous cliffs along the beach and square whitewashed buildings in town.

The Segesta ruins were pretty cool, too, and I’m not a big ruins person ordinarily. The view from the amphitheater on top of the hill is spectacular!

Finally making it to Lumina Park. You might recall that last month Charlie and I were supposed to meet our friends at an Alice in Wonderland-themed outdoor light show — then we got trapped in the snow behind a fence!

We made it here this monthand it was fun walking around in the dark around light sculptures of playing cards, mushrooms, and the Cheshire Cat.

Finding a pair of wedding shoes I actually love. I can’t wear most heels due to arch issues in my right foot, so formal shoes are always a pain. This month I found a pair of low gold peep-toe heels from French brand Jonak. On sale, too!

They have a lovely retro look and will work for the legal Prague wedding and the big Prague wedding. (I’ll still keep the gold wedges I bought in Massachusetts for the Boston wedding, as the ceremony will be on grass.)

A square stone church topped with unusual red domes.
Church of San Cataldo, Palermo

Challenges

Sicily was SO MUCH COLDER THAN I EXPECTED. As we planned our trip, it looked like temperatures were going to be around 55 F (13 C). And it WAS like that the first day and a half. And the last day.

But in between the weather turned cold and rainy. It was around the low 40s F (5 C). And buildings in Sicily are BARELY insulated at all — each day, Charlie and I went to work in our dining room, wearing layers of sweaters and piles of blankets!

You’d think it would be better if we went out to a restaurant or cafe. Nope! Freezing cold air came in between the windows and walls! Bars and cafes left their doors open all day and just stayed as cold as possible!

The only time I was warm on that trip was when we were in our car. At least we could turn the heat up in there!

But this serves as a valuable lesson — to me, and to you. The Mediterranean may be “nice” in winter — but it will be much colder than you think it will be. Bring all your layers and wear them all. And stay in a city, not a village, because there might be one bar open and that’s it.

Murray has stopped pooping in the litter box. This has been hard to deal with so I’d love to solicit my cat owners for tips, if you have any. Murray has always peed in the litter box fine, but he’s not always been great about pooping — he would often stand in the litter and poop off the side, or occasionally poop on the bath mat.

But now he’s started pooping in front of the front door all the time (man, that’s fun to come home to). We got him an additional litter box next to the front door, and he managed to use it once…while pooping off the side. Ah, Murray. Any tips to fix this??

The US Embassy messed up my marriage paperwork. They listed Charlie as a Czech citizen rather than a British citizen.

That initially led me into an enormous freak-out, as you can only get Embassy notary appointments a month in advance and Czechs need international marriage paperwork long before the wedding date — but I contacted the Embassy and they just let me pop in and got me new paperwork for free. How about that.

Murray the gray tabby cat sticks his head out of a carrier backpack, his eyes wide and expectant.
Murray, baby…please poop in the litter box!

Blog Posts of the Month

23 Fabulous Things to Do in Palermo, Italy, Sicily’s Sizzling Capital — I really loved my time in Palermo! It’s one of my new favorite Italian cities, and it wasn’t much like I expected to be.

40 Italy Landmarks To Experience Once in Your Lifetime — My blogger colleagues helped me with this collab post, highlighting some of the coolest spots in Italy.

Lewis the gray tabby cat with a white stripe on his nose, posing regally on top of a red towel, next to several oranges.
Still Life with Lewis.

This Month on Patreon

On the Adventurous Kate Patreon, I publish exclusive content and never-told stories that you can access for $6 per month. We also have a private Facebook group and members get free access to the Book Club each month.

This month on Patreon my long form post was about Sicily in the cold — and the realities you face when visiting the Mediterranean in winter, because the weather isn’t always as good as you expect!

I also published a preview of a BIG BIG BIG trip I booked for August — a solo trip to what will be one of the most adventurous destinations I’ve ever visited. This trip is going to be NUTS, in a good way!

I also gave my patrons a free copy of my new $5 Mexico guide that I’ll be selling shortly.

And they got an additional 50% off Passport to Confident Solo Female Travel.

A dark park with a lit-up arch creating the shape of the outline of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, its two eyes gleaming.
Lumina Park was a fun visit!

Book Club This Month

Our next book club will take place on Sunday, April 16, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. (FYI, this day happens to be Orthodox Easter.) We will be reading The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories by Afghan-American author Jamil Jan Kochai.

“Pen/Hemingway finalist Jamil Jan Kochai ​breathes life into his contemporary Afghan characters, moving between modern-day Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora in America. In these arresting stories verging on both comedy and tragedy, often starring young characters whose bravado is matched by their tenderness, Kochai once again captures “a singular, resonant voice, an American teenager raised by Old World Afghan storytellers.”

In “Playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” a young man’s video game experience turns into a surreal exploration on his own father’s memories of war and occupation. Set in Kabul, “Return to Sender” follows two married doctors driven by guilt to leave the US and care for their fellow Afghans, even when their own son disappears. A college student in the US in “Hungry Ricky Daddy” starves himself in protest of Israeli violence against Palestine. And in the title story, “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak,” we learn the story of a man codenamed Hajji, from the perspective of a government surveillance worker, who becomes entrenched in the immigrant family’s life.

The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories is a moving exploration of characters grappling with the ghosts of war and displacement—and one that speaks to the immediate political landscape we reckon with today.”

You can sign up for the book club here. Patreon members have their own sign-up in the Patreon.

The view from the top back row of a half-moon shaped amphitheater, with views over a hilly green countryside and a blue sky studded with puffy clouds.
Segesta was well worth the visit!

Side Projects Update

This month I came up with the idea for a new product from scratch — Passport to Confident Solo Female Travel — and did a full launch. Imagine starting from zero and going to a fully created, sold, and launched product — and selling more than 70 copies!

How I was actually able to do that is something I’m going to debrief in the Patreon.

But now I’m looking toward the future. People who buy this product get lifetime access and all updates, and I’m already planning how it will be updated for the next launch.

That took up most of the month, though I did publish Things to Do in Hanover, NH and Things to Do in Concord, NH on New Hampshire Way, my New Hampshire site.

Things have been a bit more quiet on my new niche site that I haven’t revealed yet — just continuing to publish content. We have 18 posts live and a few are already ranking on the first page of Google!

What I Watched This Month

At this point, I am forever addicted to Below Deck. How is this show SO ENTERTAINING?! I can’t believe I didn’t know it existed until after a dozen seasons had come and gone!

We are currently on Season 8 of original Below Deck, where the blackout drunk guest Delores jumped overboard at night against the Captain’s orders, had to be baby-sat by the crew all night, and was kicked off the next day. FUN TIMES!

This month we’re also working our way through many of the Oscar movies. I especially loved Everything Everywhere All at Once and will be rooting for it on Oscar night! I enjoyed Tár too; I love movies that dive into a morally compromised fictional character so deeply. The Banshees of Inisherin started out so beautiful but turned SO dark — I didn’t like it after its gruesome turn.

A car slowly driving down a Sicilian street, a big crowd of dozens of sheep in front of it!
Sicilian traffic jam near Marsala!

What I Read This Month

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley (2023) — Aretha is a success-chasing Black lawyer at a top firm in New York. When she falls for coffee entrepreneur Aaron, she’s smitten by his brownstone in Brooklyn. Soon she moves in — and realizes that his roommates are hardcore survivalists, stocking guns and building bunkers and eating nothing but nutrition-optimized soy.

This was a fun read. While it was a little long-winded in times, I loved that this was a journey into a community that puts stereotypes on its head — instead of older white dudes in a rural area, these are Black New Yorkers planning for the apocalypse.

One thing that I loved most about Cauley’s writing is how playful it is. One cater-waiter moves to Arizona and Cauley imagines her serving tiny pieces of cactus with the spikes still in it. Two people ill-advisedly hook up and Cauley compares them to trekkers successfully summiting Mount Everest and immediately breaking their own legs to make sure it never, ever happens again. Just really fun stuff.

Scatterlings by Resoketswe Manenzhe (2022) — This novel tells the story of an interracial family in South Africa in 1927 whose lives fall apart after the Immorality Act is passed, criminalizing interracial marriage. The mother, Jamaica-born Alisa, poisons herself and attempts to kill both children to spare them from this life; one survives and takes off with her father as they search for safety.

This was this month’s book club pick, and to be completely honest, none of us were feeling this book. It felt like it had such audacious ambitions, but ended up losing itself in such long-winded passages that didn’t move the plot forward. I made sure to choose something a bit more positive for this coming month.

Paris at night, on a long street of gray buildings with some cafes and a motorcycle barreling down the street. In the background is the Eiffel Tower, lit up in bright gold against a dark blue cloudy sky.

Coming Up in March 2023

This month, Charlie and I are heading to Paris for four days! It’s Charlie’s birthday and this is what he suggested we do. It’s actually his first trip there, ever, so I’m feeling lots of pressure to make him fall in love with the city!

We already have a few activities booked (an afternoon cheese tasting in a cellar, a market tour and charcuterie hunt), but for the most part, we’ll be exploring, chilling, and eating good food.

If you have any special recommendations for Paris — especially if they’re relatively new places — I’d love to hear them.

What are your plans for March? Share away!

6 thoughts on “AK Monthly Recap: February 2023”

  1. For Paris I highly recommend a romantic photo session with Alex https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/14430 you can find pics on Instagram under _parispics_. My husband and I did this and they are such amazing photos. My favorite places to eat are Les Bougresses, Le Temp des Cerises, and Le Petit Marche, all in the Marais. Les Bougresses is so cozy, small and the owners are really nice. I hope you have a fabulous time!

  2. OMG I totally agree about going to a “warm” Mediterranean destination in the winter. We often go somewhere like Spain or Italy in the winter, usually for a month or two, and sometimes it’s rough since the homes are built to keep you cool in the hot summer months. Definitely spent a long month in Sevilla one winter working while wrapped in a blanket.

  3. I always look forward to your recap, they are your most fun posts for sure.

    The tea shop of yamTcha in Paris is darling. It is the casual sister restaurant to the Michelin starred one around the corner. Both in the 2nd.

    The cozy setting, the husband from China who knows about the tea, the bao stuffed with come cheese. A most lovely place to visit.

  4. Hi Kate,
    Just wanted to let you know that because of your writings about the Ultramarine and Quark that my husband and I went to the Crossing the Circle Expedition. We love everything about it. Thank you for the inspiration! I loved the clothes list as well. And we did go in the water after we crossed the circle in the polar plunge. It was an epic trip.
    Marjean

  5. Lifelong cat owner here. Your cat is pissed about something. If they pee outside the litter box, they could be sick. Poop–she’s angry–especially doing it right at your front door. (I once accidentally locked my cat in the garage and she pooped on my car in front of my driver’s side window. In other words, where I couldn’t miss it.) My guess is your litter is too small, not cleaned enough, or you have a second cat she doesn’t want to share with. You could try putting a smaller box inside a bigger box for the pooping off the side thing.

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