How We Spent Our Summer Vacation

Fall is in the air and, like many of you, the gals of Duchess are in "back-to-school" mode, so to speak. It's always tough to say goodbye to the lazy, sun-dappled afternoons of summertime, but we've missed our Duchess Honey Buns (that's YOU!) and we've got a lot on our to-do list as we prepare for the release of our second album, "Laughing at Life," and some upcoming shows.

So, as September draws to a close, we find ourselves once again meeting every week at Amy's place for snacks, strategies, and singing (and alliteration, apparently). Since we've been on hiatus for a couple of months, we thought it would be fun to bring our fans--and each other--up to speed on our respective summer holidays. Read on, and then please leave a comment and tell us about how you spent your summer!

What was your favorite summer experience?

Amy: My summer was full of such great adventures with my family. We went to Canada to visit my family and [my husband] Oded’s family came to visit us from Israel. We had so many great trips and adventures. I think my favorite thing was taking our kids to The Newport Jazz Festival to see Anat Cohen play the music she and Oded worked on and later recorded. It was such a thrill to introduce them to so many friends and colleagues and the community that I feel so lucky to be a part of.

Hilary: I spent an idyllic long weekend in Montauk with my husband. For four days, we lazed at the beach, ate fresh lobster, and watched the sun set over the bay. We played badminton and laughed ourselves silly. Then, in early September, my mother and I spent a couple of weeks traveling in Italy: Venice, Lucca, Siena, and the little paese where I spent my foreign exchange many years ago. I’m so thankful for the chance to travel and spend time with my mother, and it was heaven to see my dear Italian friends and re-immerse myself in the Italian language.

Melissa: Every August, we do a 3-4 week tour to visit family in Ontario and Quebec, and this year's tour was epic. We had a great time at the cabin on Sturgeon Lake, especially. Before we embarked on the trip to Canada, we visited our friends at their family place on Islesboro Island, Maine, and that was a perfect way to start the vacation tour. It's an incredible place.

Amy's summer highlights...Newport Jazz Festival with the family, lakeside and poolside relaxation.

Amy's summer highlights...Newport Jazz Festival with the family, lakeside and poolside relaxation.

What was the best thing you ate this summer?

Amy: I’m the girl who always forgets to take pictures of the food because I’m too busy eating it. I’m also the girl with the horrible memory. So…even though we had seafood by the sea, my favorite childhood french fries and gravy, and Kawartha Dairy ice cream, my favorite food was the pizza my sister and brother-in-law made for the whole family. Delicious pizza and a chaotic and delightful family hang.  

Hilary: A perfect baked potato and sweet corn on the cob with a lobster dinner in Montauk made me finally understand what all the lobster fanaticism is about! Utter simplicity and perfectly married flavors. Pumpkin and ricotta-stuffed tortelli in Lucca, sun-warmed tomatoes from my Italian host father’s garden, and gelato (eaten daily) were my favorite culinary moments from my Italy travels.

Melissa: We spent ten sunny days (and one rainy one) at [my husband] Jamie's family cabin, and the Reynolds family is all about good food. Jamie really wowed us all with his Chicken Provencal and, I have to say, my two-layer chocolate cake was pretty yummy, too!

Melissa's summer highlights: family time and delicious eating! (Melissa, PLEASE make that cake for Duchess!)

Melissa's summer highlights: family time and delicious eating! (Melissa, PLEASE make that cake for Duchess!)

Favorite summer beverage?

Amy: Besides beer, which is completely predictable and Canadian of me, the other drink of choice this summer was an Aperol Spritz. Delicious.

Hilary: Oh my god, Amy, ME TOO! Aperol Spritz, hands down. It’s so festive and tasty. [Aperol is a cousin of Campari, but not nearly as bitter, with flavors of orange, rhubarb, and herbs. The spritz is a signature Venetian cocktail, made with Aperol, prosecco, sparkling water, and a slice of orange.]

Melissa: I like beer, wine, scotch, etc., but in the heat of summer, I've discovered this thing called a Grapefruit Radler, which is a German wheat beer mixed with Grapefruit juice. It's so yummy and low-octane. Now that it's getting chilly, I'm all about the scotch again, but it was perfect in August!

Hilary's summer highlights: Venezia, Aperol Spritzes in Lucca with mom, and a picture-perfect lobster dinner in Montauk.

Hilary's summer highlights: Venezia, Aperol Spritzes in Lucca with mom, and a picture-perfect lobster dinner in Montauk.

Summer soundtrack?

Amy: I started running a bit this summer. No, no one was chasing me. For exercise. My favorite thing to run to is the Hamilton soundtrack. I only get a few tunes in, but it’s the perfect combination of motivating and funny with great grooves. I am not giving away my shot!

Hilary: Siembra, a Fania record by Ruben Blades and Willie Colon. I am literally incapable of sitting still when that record comes on, and Ruben Blades is seriously one of the greatest singers I’ve ever heard. Also, a gorgeous Brazilian record by Ary Barroso and Dorival Caymmi called Um Interpreto e Outro.

Melissa: Morning Phase, by Beck. Jamie put this on and I loved it. I had only heard one track before and it was just the perfect thing to listen to during our 8-hour drive days.

What did you miss the most while you were on summer hiatus?

Amy, Hilary, Melissa: Each other!

What are you most excited about for fall?

Amy: Fall!!! It’s my favorite time of year. I love my sweaters and my plaid shirts and my awesome fall/winter shoes that support my feet properly instead of all these flat summer sandals. Also, #girlongirlharmony.

Hilary: Autumn cooking is my favorite cooking, with its long, slow braises and heartier fare. I have missed my sweaters and boots, too. I’m really excited about a few new projects on the horizon, especially the new Duchess CD, and more singing and laughs with my girls!

Melissa: Using my Hudson Bay Company wool blanket, a little piece of home that is perfect for fall. Oh, and cooking lots of warming stews and apple crumbles and such. And hot toddys. And sledding. Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself a bit. I'm so glad to be back in the groove and can't wait to see what crazy hijinks we get up to this fall/winter while we prep for the upcoming release!

Back in the #girlongirlharmony groove...first rehearsal after our summer hiatus!

Back in the #girlongirlharmony groove...first rehearsal after our summer hiatus!