Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Free Music!

When my daughter read that Josh Garrels was making his new CD available FREE on Noise Trade (it is not yet on iTunes) she rushed over to the website to check it out. We immediately became addicted! I have heard of Noise Trade before, but never took the time to look. If you are into the indie music scene or just like finding new music, you will love this totally free, totally legal, music download website. The site offers artists a place to create their own page, showcase their music, and even link the page to other online venues they may have. Fans don't have to sign up- all you have to do is provide your e-mail address and zip code- and voila- instant free music! There are tabs for you to share your finds with friends via facebook or twitter, and even a place to leave a tip for the artist if you'd like.

You can start by searching the main page, look up the newest or top downloads, search by genre, city, and more.  My favorite way is  the "for fans of..." search.  Just type in anything you like here; Mumford & Sons, The Civil Wars, etc. and you are linked to the artists whose music is similar.

Here are some of my faves!

New & top downloads:
http://noisetrade.com/carybrothers- I am loving the "Blue Eyes" acoustic version!

If you like Bob Dylan, Matt Nathanson and Amos Lee:

If you like The Civil Wars and Elenowen:

And this is the one I keep playing over and over this morning...


Jenny and Tyler, like Elenowen, are a married couple that make beautiful music together. I also love their song "Carry Me" featuring Mac Powell of Third Day. Read more about them here:


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fresh Peach Cobbler- From Tree to Table!

Driving home from Auburn last week we made a quick pit stop at Lane Peach Orchard in Fort Valley, Georgia. The drive was getting long and hot, so we welcomed the opportunity to browse the huge indoor facility and gift shop. We did not have time to tour the farm and orchard, but Lane does give tours and even has a corn maze to wander around in! We took a stroll upstairs to watch the peaches being hand sorted and put into boxes for us to immediately buy off the shelves- they are that fresh!

Although we did not eat at the cafe, they are very well known for their southern cooking, especially their homemade peach ice cream. In addition to peaches, the gift shop carries many varieties of locally grown produce, pecans, homemade jellies, jams, sauces, juice, even fresh baked pies and bread. We got a little carried away and went home with several goodies. 

The peaches were amazing; they were truly the sweetest Georgia peaches I have ever tasted in my life. I decided to make a cobbler out of most of them. I seriously contemplated not adding any sugar to the recipe, they were really that sweet. I haven't made this recipe since my pastry chef days, but it was always a best seller. It is easy to make and you can also substitute the peaches for any kind of fresh fruit; blueberries, blackberries, apples, etc.

Peach Cobbler

8 cups sliced, fresh peaches (do not peel)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water

for cobbler dough:
1 cup sugar
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons table salt
12 oz. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
up to 1 cup ice cold water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
additional 2 tablespoons sugar (for sprinkling)

Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)

-Mix cornstarch and cold water until blended.
-Toss peaches with fresh lemon juice and sugar.
-Add cornstarch mixture to fruit.
-Set aside while you prepare cobbler dough.
-Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in large mixing bowl.
-Cut in butter pieces until mixture is blended and resembles small peas.
-Gradually add just enough ice cold water until the dough comes together.
-Turn out onto flour dusted table.
-Roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut into several 2 1/2 inch circles. (You can use a cookie cutter or even the top of a drinking glass to do this)

-Pour fruit mixture into 9x11 inch baking dish.
-Top fruit with cobbler dough circles.
-Brush dough with a little heavy cream.
-Sprinkle tops of dough with granulated sugar.
-Bake 35-40 minutes until cobbler dough is golden and fruit mixture is bubbly.
-Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stuck in My Head...

I have this song by Andy Grammer stuck in my head today! Here is the video featuring a cameo by Rainn Wilson (The Office). It's a catchy tune that will brighten up your day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekday Getaway

While the girls were at camp this week, my hubby and I decided to spontaneously getaway to one of our favorite places at the beach. The Postcard Inn is a chic boutique hotel located in St. Pete Beach that we happily discovered last year. In 2009, Starwood Capital Group poured 8 million dollars into renovating a 1957 beachfront Travelodge. The result is a hip, very casual, budget-friendly hotel with a retro-surf shack vibe. The rooms are decorated with vintage lamps, desks, surf photos, and beaded room dividers. Some rooms even have surfboards in them! We took advantage of the "Ditch the Desk" promotion which is available Sunday-Thursday with rates starting at $90.00 a night. We especially like the late check out option- for an additional $59 you can stay until 6:00 pm (when available). It was very relaxing and we enjoyed the quality time together. It seems like we were away longer than just one day!

Surf-vibe room
St. Pete Beach

View from my hammock

By the way, don't forget about my Jewelry Giveaway! Contest ends tomorrow!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jewelry Giveaway!

I am happy to announce my first blog jewelry giveaway, and it's straight from my very own Etsy shop! This idea was inspired by my daughter's iPod on our road trip home from Auburn yesterday. We both really, really love Switchfoot and since she nearly owns all of their tunes, we can listen for hours as the miles fly by. I have to admit that sometimes this is a ploy by her to get me to drive just a little bit faster- you try driving the speed limit while listening to The Sound (John M. Perkins Blues)!  I have actually named several pieces in my shop after Switchfoot songs- which are the pieces you get to choose from if you are the lucky winner! (see photos above)

To enter, become a follower of my blog, and leave a comment about your favorite piece of jewelry in my shop or your favorite Switchfoot song (or both)!

Contest ends June 18th, winner will be announced June 19, 2011. Winner will choose one piece from the selection above.

If you are in the San Diego area, check out the 7th Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am June 19th. It is a free, family-friendly event starting with an early morning surfing contest, live music all day long, and fantastic beach vendors (including Jedidiah whose t-shirts we just love)! Proceeds will benefit their local chapter of Stand Up for Kids. While admission to the beach event is free, funds will be raised at an Auction Night Soiree (set for June 16 at a private residence), sponsorships, beach vendors and an after-party held on the evening of June 18th at the Belly Up Tavern in nearby Solana Beach.

I wish I could go!!!

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

Listen to and watch more Switchfoot here.

*For details on another amazing giveaway check out Kelli Murray's blog. Kelli is the lead designer for Jedidiah and an amazing  artist whose work and Etsy shop I've mentioned before (my girls and I love it)!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Brown-Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Being a former professional pastry chef, I can't believe that I've yet to post one single recipe on my blog! I promise to start sharing a lot more recipes in the future. I still bake a lot, but I always forget to take pictures before everyone digs in! This cake is one of my all time favorites. It is easy to make and not too fancy- just a little dusting of powdered sugar, but it is full of flavor and the brown butter smells like heaven! It makes a great snack cake, simple dessert, or thoughtful hostess gift. A little sliver with a cup of coffee also makes a fabulous breakfast! I hope you love it!
P.S. My husband insists it is best with a scoop of vanilla ice cream :)

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 large mashed bananas
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt1
1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips (tossed with 1 teaspoon flour)
-powdered sugar (for dusting)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Spray either a bundt pan or a decorative cake pan (I have a sunflower pan I like to use) with pan spray and dust with a couple of tablespoons all-purpose flour. Tap out any excess.
-Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. After it melts, continue cooking until it gets foamy and slightly brown. It will begin to have a delicious nutty aroma. Watch it carefully- it will burn fast! Remove pan immediately and carefully strain melted butter into a large mixing bowl. Let cool 10 minutes.
-Whisk the sugar and eggs into the cool, melted butter. Continue whisking for 1 minute.
-Whisk in bananas, salt, and vanilla until well combined.
-Sift flour and baking soda together.
-Fold flour mixture and chocolate chips into batter until just combined. Do not over mix.
-Spread batter into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.
-Let cool at least 15 minutes before removing from pan.
-When cake is completely cool, dust with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.