In the running to be a storyteller…

You guys.

I’ve been waiting WEEKS to spill this news!

Have you followed the DaVinci Storytellers over the past three years? I have loved hearing about their travels and watching the videos and reading posts about everything they learned with DaVinci wine.

DaVinci Storyteller

I actually entered last year, but didn’t make it into the finals (bummer). BUT THIS YEAR I DID. And I’m still freaking out about it.

And now I need your help!

They’ve chosen 12 finalists, and now it’s up to all of you to vote!

People from all across the country applied for the chance to join DaVinci in Tuscany this fall. The Storyteller applicants included artists, photographers, writers, chefs and so many amazing food bloggers that they actually included 6 in the final mix – 3 from the West Coast, and 3 from the East.

I am not one to beg, but please, please, PLEASE take a second and vote for me to represent the East Coast in Tuscany this fall. I can’t even tell you what a dream this trip would be.

lucy grape stomping

And I promise – I will do my best to recreate the grape-stomping scene from I Love Lucy if I get to go. That is a done deal. I mean, it’s the one goal I have if I ever make it Italy. It just has to happen.

 

 

temp-tations by Tara giveaway

To celebrate my birthday, I’m giving away some of my new favorite kitchenware!

Have you seen temp-tations by Tara?

They’re all-purpose, all-temperature, handcrafted kitchenware with gorgeous designs so you don’t have to bake something in a plain, metal pan or have to transfer your food from the baking dish into a serving dish. It’s an all-in-one!

temp-tations by Tara

I received a set of nesting/mixing bowls and some of their beautiful muffin tins to try out – and I. am. in. love. They are such a nice change from my usual clear glass mixing bowls and old, scruffed up muffin tins.

They have a ton of designs and colors to choose from, giving you all kinds of new options for your bakeware and mixing bowls (plus mugs, bowls, tea sets, loaf pans, etc).

temp-tations by Tara

I made a batch of  blueberry bran muffins in mine (still working on tweaking the recipe), and I loved having these colorful muffin tins sitting on my counter while they cooled. It automatically made the muffins feel a little more special.

One of my favorite parts about these? You can leave them sitting on your counters and it won’t look like you just haven’t picked up the kitchen. They’re gorgeous! They can easily sit out and add a punch of color to your kitchen. And they make incredible gifts.

temp-tations by Tara

I’m so happy to spread the word about these and so thankful that temp-tations by Tara is offering up some mixing/nesting bowls and muffin tins to one of you, too!

To enter:

Tell me about your favorite baking dish right now – was it handed down to you? Is it broken in, stained, scratched?

For extra entries:

Check out the designs and tell me what you would pick!

Good luck!

Contest open to U.S. residents. temp-tations by Tara provided me with bowls and bakeware to try and will provide the prize for the winner, but I was not compensated for my review or post. All opinions are my own.

Honey Sweetened Lemonade

I’m not big on cliché sayings at any time, but one that has always irritated me – really gotten under my skin – is the old “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”.

honey sweetened lemonade

I get it; I do.

We’re supposed to be making the best out of every situation, to take what we’re handed and somehow, someway, create something good out of the bad. But – to me, at least – it seems like these kinds of positive thoughts only resonate when we’re not in the midst of a lemon-heavy time. Life isn’t always what we expect. We’re not guaranteed the opportunity or time or resources to turn misfortune into something else. We’re not guaranteed anything, really.

honey sweetened lemonade

Life is not fair, in any capacity. Cancer, car accidents, war, missing planes, losing a parent or sibling or child or friend. It doesn’t play favorites, and it certainly doesn’t spare anyone from tragedy.

Is life great? Yes.
Can it be incredible? Most definitely.

In my short almost 31-years on Earth, I have experienced both extremes. Pure, exuberant joy and soul-searing, devastating pain. Everyone understands what it feels like to be on the losing end – when you’re the one being handed lemon after lemon after lemon while everyone else around you seems to be getting peaches instead. When someone else gets the promotion or the dream house or the baby. Maybe it’s luck; maybe it’s just that life – real, complicated, painful, joyful life – hasn’t caught up to some people yet.

my favorite iced coffee

Iced coffee seems to be “it” right now. I mean, really – it’s everywhere! On menus, on Facebook, on Instagram. Everywhere I look, all I see is iced coffee.

iced coffee

It’s the new avocado toast.

The new egg-on-everything.

The new green smoothie.

Although, if I’m being honest, I still eat (and completely love) all of those things, too. And seriously – I tried resisting. I convinced myself that I wouldn’t like iced coffee because I love hot coffee. I tried. I really, really tried.

And I thought I was fine after I tried it the first time because it was…gross. Some places don’t make good iced coffee – don’t forget that.

iced coffee

But then. Then I tried the iced coffee at my favorite local place, Lucie Monroe’s, and the heavens opened up. It was magical! NOW I knew why people loved it so much. The coffee was perfect – everything I love about coffee, on ice. No bitterness, nothing to get in the way of the actual flavors of the beans.

My only issue? Most places only have regular (caffeinated) iced coffee, and I like having my iced coffee in the afternoon. I still like my hot coffee in the morning – cold drinks are just too cold to have when I get up! And since I like mine in the afternoon, I want decaf. If I have caffeine in the afternoon, I’ll get shaky or I won’t be able to sleep, so I try not to have it after 10 am.

strawberry rhubarb pecan crumble pie bars

It’s rare that I go back and make changes to desserts. Once we have something that we love, it usually stays the way it is. Just how I like most things. But sometimes, you have to change it up a little bit.

strawberry rhubarb crumble pie bars

It’s June, which means we’re finding every excuse to as many strawberries as humanly possible.

Strawberries on their own and mixed into fruit salads. Strawberries in oatmeal and smoothies, in salads and dressings, in pie and jam.

And specifically, and especially, these bars.

strawberry rhubarb crumble pie bars

I first made these for a work picnic a few years ago, and most recently made a batch to take to my nephew’s 4th birthday party as a dessert for all of the adults.

As expected, most of the bars were gone by that evening. I’m pretty sure one was eaten for breakfast the next morning, and the last couple in the pan ended up being an afternoon snack for my mom, Nick’s mom, and me while we chatted – and ate, straight from the pan – around the kitchen island. I think if the last crumbs are being scooped out of the pan with a spoon, you’ve got a good thing going.

Today is a very special day.

Nick and I were married, 10 years ago, on a sunny Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend with all our friends and family around, just steps from the beach.

brown butter macadamia cookies

I feel like there’s no way that 10 years have gone by…but at the same time, I feel as though I’ve known and loved Nick for as long as I can remember. We’ve been together for 1/3 of our lives already, which just sounds crazy!

Last year, I shared a salted chocolate pecan cookie recipe on our anniversary, and I think that sums us up perfectly so I knew I had share this one today.

brown butter macadamia cookies

These cookies have quickly become a family favorite and are already being requested anytime we’re visiting.

The secret?

Roasted, salted macadamia nuts. I like macadamias, but I had know idea how much I loved them until I had them salted. They taste so different! Still buttery and rich, but balanced out with that little bit of salt. As soon as we tried them, we knew we needed to throw them in some cookie dough.