My Auntie Nan is famous around my hometown for her homemade sweet pickles. She makes and bottles them every year, and delivers them at Christmas time to her friends. My family happily has been on the receiving end of Auntie Nan’s sweet pickles for 3 decades. They are delicious, and always make an appearance on our holiday relish plates. I had wicked cravings for them when I was pregnant–and that dear lady who isn’t really my Aunt at all–mailed me 3 quarts of them. Enough to see me through an entire pregnancy of cravings. Her recipe is closely guarded, and the procedure is tedious and time consuming to be sure. Each little pickle is just bottled right up with love and kindness, and I’m pretty sure lots of sugar and plenty of spice.
This recipe is not hers. Not even close. But it’s a pretty tasty one, nonetheless, and ridiculously easy. It takes only minutes to put together, and they are ready for serving up at lunch the next day, right alongside your potato salad and hot dogs, or with your favorite sandwich. The flavor is tangy and spicy and even a bit zesty, and a refreshing change of pace … >> find out more...
It’s Winter in the Southern hemisphere which means citrus season in South Africa. Lemons and oranges are a plenty, and it’s wonderful. If I need lemon juice, I just go outside and pick some lemons off the tree. I don’t have an orange tree, but no worries. The side of the road is dotted with merchants selling bags of oranges for only R15. That’s comes out to only a little over $1. Every week I buy a bag, and every week we have freshly squeezed OJ for our weekend breakfasts. Goodness.
All this citrus takes me back about thirty years. It’s funny how certain things invoke memories in you. My grandmother lived in North Dallas, and we would go and pay her a visit frequently. The best was when that visit also involved a trip to Northpark mall, perhaps because the adults in our company would be like a magnet drawn to its opposite as they strolled over for a treat at the best place ever, Orange Julius.
I didn’t know what was in the frozen, citrus treat. All I knew at eight years old was that it was delectable, so delectable that it etched a memory in my … >> find out more...
Let’s talk hair for a minute, shall we? Hair is a big deal to me, mostly because about the time I turned 21 I realized it wasn’t a huge thing to just swap out hair with the seasons like you would a nice throw rug in your home. Easy, relatively painless, and the overall effect is so visually impressive it’s hard to stop.
Aside from the pastel colors, my hair has been every natural color available: red, blonde, orange, black, brown, and currently dark brown streaked with silver. I’ve also done almost every hairstyle: pin straight and long in high school, the Rachael in college (if you’re too young to get that reference, you can Google it. it wasn’t a good look, even on Jennifer Anniston), a short “mom” bob after my daughter was born, long again but with strong bangs this time, then short and layered with side swooped bangs, blonde and short like Posh Spice (again, see Google if needed), short and black (see Katie Holmes) and finally, buzzed on the sides and mohawk on top a la P!nk.
It’s funny to me, as I’m looking back at the last two decades of the evolution of my current … >> find out more...
Friends, I have an epic giveaway for you today! I’m partnering with nine amazing bloggers to offer two lucky winners one $500 Amazon gift card each! The graphic below includes some sweet things you could use that gift card towards (Apple watch! iPad! Samsung camera! Kate Spade bag!) but of course if you’re looking to load up on fancy pens, that’s up to you!
Enter to win between July 21-31, 2015 via the widget below. You need to login to Facebook or with an email so we know you’re not a robot, but don’t worry, you will NOT be added to any spammy mailing list! Promise. Basically, if you follow all 10 bloggers on Instagram (and you will want to, because each of these ladies is flat out awesome!) you will have tossed your hat in the ring 10 times (x 2 since there are two gift cards to win…sometimes math is awesome). Once the giveaway ends, the winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via Instagram, with 48 hours to respond. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
… >> find out more...
Most everyone loves a nice sunset picture, and though some may tire of seeing them clog an Instagram feed on a summer night, I do not. The sky is an ever-changing and ever-commanding force of life and presence. I never tire of that. I think if you get bored of a bright orange sky, then you need to re-assess your excitement scale.
I was in Northern California recently, and the first night I was there, the sky was quite welcoming. I ran to the nearest hill and took pictures of the clouds until it got dark out. Here are some tips when capturing a sunset:
1. Underexpose the sunset. When you underexpose the picture, it will make the colors look more intense; the photo will be more dramatic overall. You can do this by using manual mode on your camera, and then selecting a fast shutter speed – or you can shoot with the camera in “aperture priority.”
2. The horizon line does not belong in the middle. A good general rule in photography, is to put the horizon on the bottom third of the photo if the sunset is the point of interest, and on the top third of the photo if … >> find out more...
If you’ve never visited one America’s national parks, you have been missing out on all kinds of wonderful things. Really. You should get on it, pronto. Especially if you have kids; they’ll remember it for a lifetime. We journeyed up the road to Yellowstone, our nearest national park, last weekend and captured this direct quote from my 8 year old: “Yellowstone is the coolest place on earth!” And he’s been to Disney World, folks.
We happen to live within a 2 hour drive of 2 of the country’s greatest gems: Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. And easily within a days drive of at least half a dozen others: Zion, Arches, Mount Ranier, and Glacier to name but a few. I think that each one harbors it’s own very special kind of magic, from red rock desert to bursting geysers and mineral pools, to dense coastal forest, to jagged snow peaked mountains. I’ve fallen in love each time, in each place, over and over again.
Whether you like to enjoy the scenery from your car, or get up close and personal on a gorgeous hike or canoe trip, or learn fascinating new things from a park … >> find out more...
If you haven’t made your own jam before, you’re really missing out! Nothing store-bought can compare to the look and taste of homemade freezer jam. And it’s crazy simple. Really. And you know what else? My top secret fool-proof recipe comes straight from inside the little box of pectin. It hasn’t failed me yet! Follow along and you’ll be licking your own glittering spoonful of summery super-sweetness in no time.
A few tips to begin with: use fresh, ripe in-season fruit that has been thoroughly rinsed. I’m using strawberries in this example, but raspberries, blueberries and apricots also work beautifully. You can use any strawberries you like, but I’m convinced that the small-ish imperfect ones like you find at the farm stand have a truer strawberry flavor than the gigantic kind you often find in grocery stores, and result in a better jam. If you prefer less sweetness, opt for low-sugar pectin and follow those instructions for tasty results. I simply prefer the look, texture and taste of the original.
Ingredients for this strawberry freezer jam:
4 cups of strawberries, rinsed and hulled (about 2-3 pints)
4 cups of sugar
1 box of regular pectin
3/4 cup water
Mash your… >> find out more...
For my big vacation this summer my family and extended family rented a beach house. When things get a little too fiery and dry in Utah, it’s oh so nice to head to the coast. There is a cozy little beach about an hour north of San Francisco, called “Stinson,” with sand dollars, lemon trees, and low-flying clouds. It’s positively dreamy.
There are rows and rows of houses for rent, each pierced with big windows and protected by little wooden panels, all washed-over with salty air. You can rent a house on the beach, or around the lagoon; I prefer the lagoon. We rent paddle boards and kayaks for early-morning glides in the diamond-shaped inlet. Good times, my friends. The best kind.
It sounds too dreamy to be true, and it almost is, but if you don’t mind a windy drive and a bit of summer splurging, then Stinson is a very touchable reality. As John Burroughs said, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order” and Stinson does indeed soothe, heal, and pop my senses back into place. All that Pacific coast air, the sand and the waves…it’s … >> find out more...
It’s no secret that traditionally, a functional but cute camera bag has been hard to find. Until, that is, my rock star friend Maile created Epiphanie Bags, a line of gorgeous camera bags, because the need was there (big time) and she’s a genius.
I’ve owned an Epiphanie camera bag for over 5 years and I love everything about it. It’s stylish and utilitarian, and sometimes I use it for a purse without even taking my camera anywhere because that’s how much I love it.
But when I do need a purse to hold a camera, my Epiphanie bag is my go-to. I use it as my personal item on any flight I take across the world because it fits just right under the seat and holds all my essentials, (including my super precious camera).
Maile (the creator of Epiphanie) recently re-designed all her bags, this time using 100% leather. And you guys, the bags are gorgeous.
I’m personally torn between the Chelsea and the Catalina. But I’m definitely not averse to the Florence either.
I’ll take one of each, please. In every color.
So if you’re in the market for a new … >> find out more...