Picnics are having a real moment at our house. Since we’ve been spending so much time at home, taking our lunch outside is a welcome change of scenery. It’s also usually a tasty excuse to think about how to make a weekday meal feel special. Now that the weather is feeling more summery, I’ve also been plotting some outdoor activities where a packed picnic is key. I made these simple mason jar salads that were built for backyard picnics and weekend adventure lunches — layered with antipasto ingredients, vinaigrette and Little Leaf Farms lettuce. read more

We have a few summer traditions that are absolute essentials for our family and one is particularly tasty: making my Grandma’s homemade blueberry cobbler recipe. The family recipe is in my cookbook’s summer berry chapter, but I still love pulling out the original flour and butter stained index card that my Grandmother wrote the recipe on years ago. To me, each bite tastes like a burst of summer. I was craving it recently and looked in the fridge to see I only had a few blueberries left — not enough to make the recipe. What I did have was some leftover peaches and strawberries from a rosè sangria I had mixed up earlier. So, I did a little experiment and used my base cobbler recipe to mix up a strawberry and peach cobbler. read more

My journey to “clean beauty” was not a drastic moment of change — I didn’t dump out my makeup bag one day and replace every single item at once. It looked more like a long and winding road, because to start, I never really considered myself much of a beauty person at all. Up until recently I’d had nearly the exact same makeup routine since high school, and my skincare routine was almost non-existent (more on that later). I’ve also never been into the clean-eating trends (oh boy, you can keep your kale, I looove myself a bag of Cheetos every once in a while). But here I am, sharing how I started to educate myself about what was in the beauty products I was using, began to make small changes and swaps in my makeup and skincare, and ultimately got on board with a brand I have been using since — Beautycounter. read more

We have had a lot of drastic makeovers in our house since we bought it and oh man, I love a good ‘before and after’ post to show how far we’ve come. A few years ago we did a major overhaul on our master bedroom (like major-major: there used to be a kitchenette in our bedroom!) which was a makeover for the ages. Off of our beautiful new bedroom was a secret little sunroom that needed some love — outdated carpet over even more outdated linoleum floors, dark brown wood paneling, and an eyesore of a 1970s ceiling fan. I’ve been saying I’ll tackle it for years, but we just never had the time so the door remained shut and the space went unused and frozen in the ’70s — out of sight, out of mind! Then in March when it looked like the stay at home order was about to start, I realized I might finally have all those free weekends I needed to finally give this room the makeover it deserved.  read more

Before we started social distancing, I used to go to the grocery store at least 3 times a week. Popping into the store every few days for last minute ingredients that I forgot or fulfilling a craving I had for a dinner idea. Now I am trying to stretch my grocery trips to last me 9 or 10 days and it’s totally flipped the way I think about my meal plan. I’m leaning on recipes that use up every last ingredient in the fridge and picking proteins that have a longer shelf life. The al fresco chicken sausage has been a lifesaver. I have different varieties stocked up in my fridge to toss into a pasta dish or serve on top of roasted spaghetti squash, to mix into omelets and frittatas, and I’ve even chopped up the buffalo chicken style sausage on top of a loaded baked potato. read more

A few years ago I hosted a bridal shower at my home on a steaming hot summer day. The weather was so warm that I started to panic that my menu wouldn’t hold up in the heat. I went down my list of recipes, trying to figure out what I could rework and tweak to survive the oppressive backyard sun. I got to the potato salad on the list and decided to cross off my traditional recipe (which you can find in my cookbook!) from the menu and swap it for a French-style potato salad made with a vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise. It was a winner, and something I always keep in my back pocket now for warm weather gatherings. read more

As we enter week 8 of being at home, I’m starting to feel like we’re hitting our stride and finding some new routines that make this not-so-normal situation feel a little more normal. The weather is starting to feel like spring and that is helping a LOT — getting fresh air and playing in the yard was a major mood-lifter this weekend. And there have been lots of silver-linings too, like finally having time to work on big house projects (I have some great before and after posts coming soon) and tackling my stack of to-be-read books. I’m finding it’s a delicate balance of keeping busy and cutting ourselves some slack these days. I’ve got some timely updates in this week’s download with Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day on the calendar, plus lots of reading list reviews, garden plans, and some kids stuff — scroll down to read more!  read more

Have you noticed recently how so many people are cooking from scratch more now that everyone is at home? We have tried our hand at fresh bread, roasting chickens, and tons of baked goods. Part of it is that we’re looking for something to do at home on the weekends (cooking with kids is usually a pretty fun, if not messy, activity). But another big part of it is out of necessity! We place our grocery store order online and it’s a bit like playing roulette to see what exactly will be in the bags when we arrive for curbside pick-up. My recent order was missing an out of stock item that I was craving: tortilla chips to dunk in my favorite Heluva Good! Dips, so I decided to try and make my own. read more

Taco night is a favorite in our household. Whenever I’m stumped about what to make for dinner, the first suggestion that always gets thrown out is “how about tacos?” and I am nearly always on board. Lately we have been making it part of our Saturday routine to grill up a bunch of tasty chicken and make our own tortillas (my sister gave us this fun tortilla making kit for Christmas and it’s fun to do as a family).  One of my favorite side dishes to make when we’re having taco night is a spicy chipotle broccoli slaw. Most of the time when I make this dish, I use a broccoli slaw mix that you can get near the bagged lettuce at the grocery store. I’ve had trouble finding it lately in my grocery orders so I decided to make my own version — scroll down for the full recipe! read more

There’s a lot of tough news in the world right now, so I’ve been trying my hardest to find the silver linings wherever I can. Little bits of light and positivity make all the difference to my mood and outlook. It can be something as simple as making our weekends feel a little bit different than the weekdays, even though when we’re all at home together it all kind of feels like it’s blending together! One fun thing I’ve been doing on the weekends is mixing up some special cocktails, experimenting with the ingredients I have on hand to make something tasty. My friends at Riondo Prosecco sent me some of their delicious, bubbly prosecco to  #TakeASeccoTo enjoy a little happy hour, and I got to work mixing up this simple cocktail. read more