Urban Eden

I've lived in Cincinnati my entire life, but until recently I've never had a desire to explore it. I interned at Cincinnati Magazine for a few months in college, and that was when I actually developed a desire to learn more about my city.

Over-the-Rhine (OTR) is the up and coming part of Cincinnati right now. There are tons of cool bars, restaurants, and boutiques - with more opening shortly! It's a great place to hang out, whether you are looking for a quiet Saturday morning or loud and crazy Friday night.

I recently took an entire Saturday and dedicated it to exploring OTR. I'll be sharing all about my adventures over the next few months, but I'm going to start with what I think was my favorite experience of the weekend.

Welcome to Urban Eden. I walked in and initially just thought it was a cute little shop that sold work by local artists - pottery, paintings, jewelry, jams, notecards and more. It definitely was - but the experience I had made the shop so much more than just an art boutique.

The owner, Julie, greeted me when I entered the store. I asked her if I could take some pictures for Passing Daisies, and her answer was, with a smile,  "Sure, as long as you only post nice things!" Naturally - how could I possibly say anything bad?!

Let me tell you - Julie knows everything. Seriously. I was blown away by her knowledge about the city and her willingness to tell me all the details about everything she sells. She knew every artist, where they lived, and what their most popular pieces are. She could tell me why she decided to sell their work and how their pieces related to Cincinnati history. We also talked about Senate, known primarily for their gourmet hot dogs and creative street food. She disappeared for a minute and came back with her personal, autographed copy of the restaurant's new cookbook (I want to buy it!).

"I wanted to show you this!" she said. She flipped through the pages and pointed various things out to me, all because I had mentioned that I loved food and had heard good things about Senate.

All I can say is that Julie is AWESOME. And check out Urban Eden, even if you don't buy anything. The customer service alone will bring you back the next time you're in town.



Life gets kinda crazy sometimes, doesn't it?

A lot has happened since September. Going through a break-up, traveling virtually non-stop for work (Lexington & Frankfort, KY + Farmington, Minnesota), and having to buy a new car (RIP Landon, my '95 Pontiac Grand Am) are what I would consider the top 3. So September and October have left me rather scatter brained and exhausted. Which has actually inspired a lot of songwriting - a new hobby of mine.

Thank goodness I love traveling. I wish it was for enjoyment rather than work, but I still get to explore the city in my free time. I'm currently in Lexington until the end of next week, so I'm doing my best to explore every nook and cranny - especially local favorites. Good thing I've basically been living in Lexington during the week since August because I'm finding tons of hidden gems!

I've learned recently that travel is a part of who I am. I love it. I find joy in exploration. So I keep planning little weekend trips to different, not so far away places. And because I love what I find, I want to share it with you. So PD is now going to take a little bit of a different angle. It will definitely still be about food and memories (which is key to the vision of PD), but it will also be about where I go on my travels. And this gives me a good excuse to practice photography! Soon I'll talk about Lexington, KY and Columbus, OH and Mammoth Caves, KY. 

Pretty things in Mammoth Caves, KY.

Before the end of the year I'll probably return to Columbus, as well as journey to Cancun (so excited!) and do a "stay-cation" in Cincinnati (Over the Rhine, specifically), along with a small Thanksgiving break trip to a place TBD. Next year I'm planning to go to Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA, as well as a potential trip to Greece and Italy (still only a maybe right now) and possibly a missions trip to South Africa. And I will DEFINITELY be returning to New Orleans in July for the fourth time!

I'd also like to show you some places I went and never blogged about -  NYC & Albany & Paris (VA, not France) & the Bourbon Trail (KY) $ New Orleans.  And did I ever blog about my 3 weeks in Europe back in 2007?!

So many adventures completed, and so many more to come. I've got some wanderlust in me.

Stay tuned, friends. Some good things are coming!


PB&J Revolution

Well, it's back to school time, once again. Even though I'm no longer a student, it's still back to school for me because I work in elementary schools. When I think of going back to school, I think of brown paper bags filled with lunches. Peanut butter & jelly, specifically.

Can you ever go wrong with peanut butter? 

The answer, of course, is no. So when Peanut Butter & Co. asked me, as part of the Yum Squad, to create a gourmet pb&j, I couldn't refuse. They sent me two jars of peanut butter and two jars of jelly, in the flavor of my choosing, to use for my recipe. 

I chose The Heat Is On (spicy peanut butter) and Mighty Maple, but I also had Dark Chocolate Dreams & The Bee's Knees in my cabinet. For jellies, I chose Awesome Apricot and Rip-Roaring Raspberry.

What I created: French Toast PB&J bites. 

The concept is simple: simply make a pb&j using the peanut butter & jelly of your choice,  cut it into four squares, and submerge the pieces in a mixture of egg & milk (2 eggs and 1 T. milk should work for two sandwiches). Then cook sandwich pieces in a HOT pan, covered in butter, until brown and toasted on both sides. 

Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with maple syrup for extra yumminess. Another way to think of this is as stuffed french toast!

Here are the combinations I used: 

The Heat Is On & Awesome Apricot
Dark Chocolate Dreams & Rip-Roaring Raspberry
Mighty Maple & Awesome Apricot

Delicious. I encourage you to try out some combinations of your own! I think fig butter or cranberry butter would also be a really good choice for jelly, and you could even make this using Nutella, Biscoff spread or cookie butter! How delicious would THAT be?! I think these bites would be great as a back to school breakfast or as a lunch item. I remember french toast sticks being a popular lunch item when I was in high school, and these remind me of french toast sticks... but better! 

Well, that's all for now. To see more gourmet pb&j recipes, check out the hashtag #PBJrevolution. Thanks Peanut Butter & Co!


Memories & Comfort Food

Some nights, I absolutely love simply reflecting on the craziness of life. Where we came from, and the journey we took to get to where we are now. 

Thursday was one of those nights. Apologies, by the way, for being so absent in the blogging world. I just recently left my nanny job, have been training for my new job (officially start DAY ONE on Monday!), and have been going through a whole bunch of other life changes - both beginnings and ends. So keeping up with the blog has been challenging. But know that from now on, whatever I post will typically be a high quality post. Lower quantity = higher quality, right?! :)

Also, one of the purposes of this blog was to connect memories to food (read the "about me" page if you haven't already to learn more!). So I'm going to work on doing that more often as well!

Anyways, back to Thursday. Do you ever get one of those feelings where all you wanna do is sit down and think about the past? I had that feeling - and it's a good feeling! I went to a house that I consider my second home, where four of my closest friends live. I would say from last fall up until a few months ago, I would be at their house nearly every day. There is a group of 7-8 friends who became extremely close over the past year and this house became the go-to whenever we wanted a place to hang out. 

Thursday was my first time back in that house (with about half of the group there) in a long time, and it's funny how it still feels so much like a second home to me. I'm comfortable there and I always feel happy and at peace when I leave. I would go pretty much anywhere as long as that group of 8 people would go with me.

When I left, I started thinking about all the changes we've been through since we've become close friends. Nearly half of the people in the group, originally all single, now have significant others. I'm planning on becoming roommates with 1-2 of them sometime in the winter. Huge job transitions. Heartbreak. Difficult conversations. Some have stepped up into leadership roles, and others have left leadership roles. 

It's always crazy to me to look back at who I was and who I am now. I am completely changed from the woman I was last year (a good thing), and I'm radically different from the woman I was two years ago (a really good thing!). Sometimes thinking back makes me sad and frustrated, but then I remember everything I overcame and how much stronger I am and I immediately feel better. Comforted. Happy. 

Just like how I feel when I eat a big 'ole bowl of ice cream. :) And speaking of ice cream...

Peanut Butter & Co. recently partnered with Turkey Hill to make a limited edition ice cream - banana with peanut butter. Delicious banana ice cream swirled with large strips of peanut butter. And, as a member of PB&Co.'s Yum Squad, I was sent a coupon for a free container of ice cream. Talk about YUM.

I mean, do you SEE all the peanut butter in there?! The peanut butter is crunchy, just like chocolate chips. SO GOOD. Amazing. 

I'll tell you an example of just how good this ice cream is.

My mom came home one day after I got the ice cream, and she was asking me all about it. Then she wanted to have her own, so went out and bought TWO half gallons of the stuff. I think I ate a mug of this cream nearly every day until it was all gone. I HIGHLY recommend running to your local grocery store & getting some!

And, before I forget - it's only available through September, and you can only buy it in stores EAST of Mississippi.

But it's amazing. So stock up!

Sometime in the next week or two I will post again, with more fun surprises from Peanut Butter & Co. (I'll give you a hint...it involves gourmet pb&j!). Talk to you soon!


The Bee's Knees Peanut Butter Power Balls

Peanut Butter. 



Personally, it doesn't get much better than that. 

One of my favorite snacks to make recently has been peanut butter balls. I make them a lot with the girls I nanny, because I can call them "cookies." These guys are way healthier than cookies, but the kids don't know that. So, ssshhh.....don't tell them!

This is a pretty simple recipe. You can also add some powdered milk to make the balls hold together a little better when out of the fridge ... I just didn't have any on hand when I actually threw this recipe together. 

The secret ingredient to these little balls is in the peanut butter - The Bee's Knees from PB & Co. This peanut butter already has honey mixed in, so it's extra delicious! You could try making these balls with any type of nut butter, though - and I bet flavored nut butters (ie: chocolate peanut butter) would be delicious as well. 

These little power balls are great because you can put whatever you want in them - coconut, nuts, raisins, dried fruit, chocolate chips....or you could get a little crazy and throw in some candy, like M&Ms. Although then these wouldn't be power balls (power balls give you HEALTHY energy!)....they'd be more like cookies.... but that's okay too!

Peanut Butter Power Balls
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup The Bee's Knees peanut butter
1-2 Tablespoons honey
Handful each of mix-ins of choice (I used coconut, chocolate chips, raisins and walnut pieces)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. 
Roll mixture into balls, using anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of dough, depending on how big you'd like them to be. 
Store in the fridge to keep firm.

Oh, did I mention... we are also having a giveaway for two jars of the Bee's Knees peanut butter! I love this stuff. Wanna win? Here's how!
Please leave a separate comment below for each entry. 

1. Tweet about this giveaway, using the hashtag #peanutbutterbuzz and tagging @passingdaisies in the tweet. 
2.  Follow Passing Daisies on GFC or subscribe via email (new subscribers and followers only)
3. Tell me what mix-ins you would put in your peanut butter balls if you made this recipe.

That's it! Giveaway ends May 19th at 8pm EST. Good luck to everyone!

As a member of Peanut Butter & Co.'s Yum Squad, I received two free jars of peanut butter in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.