My Favorite Things – A Sweet Birthday Giveaway!

**This giveaway is now closed and the winner has been announced.**

It’s the middle of August, which means wild chanterelles are growing in the back forest, the hot air balloons go up twice a day at the nearby balloon festival, and it’s my birthday again.

Now that I’ve gotten over the shock of turning thirty (it took me a few years; you’ll understand if you too have recently left the twenties behind), birthdays are no big deal. Tomorrow I’m turning 33 and can’t wait to celebrate with a group of dear friends.

I also wanted to celebrate here, with you. One evening back in June, I scratched out a list of things I was currently obsessed with and thought ‘Wouldn’t that be a fun idea for a post?’. It didn’t occur to me that a giveaway of my favorite things would be even better, but eventually I put two and two together, contacted some of my favorite companies, and here we are!

This giveaway is epic. But first, do scroll through my list of current favorites things – everything from beauty products to iPhone apps, kitchen knives and shoes. Plus the all-important ingredient of a girl’s thirties – chocolate.

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Help Me Help You: Sharing the Cooking Load

Written by Danny.

This post was birthed a few weekends ago when Aimée was gone to BSP in Pennsylvania.  I had the kids for an extended weekend – on holidays – and it was both wonderful for the bonding and closeness I got with my boys and terrible as I realized that I rely on Aimée for so much.

You see, we both rely on each other for so many things: I believe that Aimée has filled the car with gas exactly twice in the 9 years that we have been married.  Each time comes with a story of exasperation and woe that I listen to with a bemused smile. Why? It’s just no big deal for me. For her, however, it is unfamiliar territory.

If I were to coordinate a Thanksgiving dinner, though?  The shoe would be on the other foot (and the pre-dinner snacks would be whole, raw apples).  I may be able to contribute to one of the side dishes, desserts or appetizers (I’ve improved since the apples), but to orchestrate an entire meal?

In my defense, I usually get our standard breakfast offering  ready for the family: coffees, APPLE juice (no other kinds tolerated, apparently) and some kind of cereal – oatmeal, cornmeal, flakes-from-a-box. But a cohesive, timely, organized lunch or supper? That’s different from day to day? Her territory.

You see, even though she wrote an awesome list of what to eat and when (mostly for the kids, of course) for the weekend she was gone, I nevertheless felt a bit out of place in the kitchen, and I realize that I have a basic skill set that I need to hone: cooking.

Perhaps you have a partner like me? Here’s what we need to be able to help share the cooking load effectively on a regular basis or in an emergency situation. [Read more…]

A Simple Summer Appetizer (Recipe: Creamy Homemade Ricotta)

Yesterday’s post was epic and last week was busy with a daily canning post. Today, not surprisingly, I don’t have many words. We took time out this weekend to relax, and my Aunt Jenny’s lakeside home was the perfect place.

A terrific cook, my aunt nourished us with roast lamb and other delights; it was wonderful to be cooked for. In-between meals, I sought solace at the end of the dock to process the past month and ponder what lies ahead. Life continues to be unpredictable, wonderful, tragic and mysterious.

I brought a jar of homemade ricotta out to my aunt’s and served it up for breakfast, spooned into bowls and topped with roasted strawberries. I’ve been making ricotta, well, since I was about as high as a bar stool, when I would help my mother make cheese from our goat’s milk. There’s nothing like fresh ricotta.

As I made a batch on Friday, I wondered if I should give up blogging and start giving cooking classes instead (I’m not going to!), because nothing makes me happier than demonstrating to others how simple scratch cooking, such as ricotta, just is.

Perhaps you’ve only seen ricotta in a plastic tub at the supermarket and didn’t even know it could be easily reproduced at home. Well it can, and today, I’ll show you just how. [Read more…]

Weekend Links: Food Blogging Community and a Pie for Mikey

On Friday I baked a peanut butter pie with two eager assistants: Noah and Mateo. Yesterday, we took it to my Aunt Jenny’s country home and shared it together. As our forks cut through the cool creaminess of the pie, I shared why I had brought over a pie for dessert.

So, what is the story behind a peanut butter pie? For me, it started last month at Big Summer Potluck, when I met Jennifer Perillo, of In Jennie’s Kitchen. Actually, Jennie and I have been friends online for quite some time. We have similar philosophies when it comes to feeding our families and connect on many levels.

Whether she knows it or not, Jennie impacted me in a big way at BSP. At the opening dinner, we sat down on a sofa together with our plates, crossed our legs and started chatting like old friends. She spoke so positively into my life, about my work, blogging….motherhood, that I was blessed beyond measure. As I have tremendous respect for Jennie, it was pivotal encouragement for me to hear at this point in my blogging career. [Read more…]

Weekend Giveaway: Tattler Canning Lids

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Laura!! A big thank you to all who participated. Stay tuned for my BIG birthday giveaway on Friday!

Today’s weekend giveaway is from Simple Bites sponsor Tattler Canning Lids, who make reusable, BPA-free plastic canning lids. A perfect way to wrap our canning series!

Suitable for all types of home canning, Tattler lids are guaranteed to last a lifetime when using USDA approved canning practices.

Many people do not know that the flat metal lids that come in a box of jars are good for one batch of preserves and then should be discarded. We’re supposed to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, right?  Sure, standard lids are recyclable, but with Tattler lids, I use less, can reuse year after year AND they’re a recyclable product.

I learned last summer that the flat metal lids contain Bisphenol-A. It was disheartening to think that in my efforts to remove BPA from my families food, my home canning projects were still tainted.  Not anymore.

Plus, Tattler reusable canning lids can be used with all the same methods of food preservation that you would use a traditional lid such as a pressure canner, water bath, and pickling.

I use a combination of Tattler lids and regular lids for my canning projects (such as yesterday’s Apricots in Honey Syrup!). I make a lot of jam to swap with others or give as gifts and am not parting with my reusable canning lids, so the preserves with Tattler lids are for my own use and the others are to give away.

You can get connected with Tattler via their Facebook page and Twitter account, and be sure to enter the giveaway below.

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