Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Introducing Sugar Town Sweets & Eats!

Hey friends! So if you know me or have followed my blog then you know all about my love and passion for baking. As evidenced of course by the plethora of recipes I’ve shared here over the years lol. Well I’ve been selling my baked goods at a local bookstore/coffee shop in my town for over a year now. And from that, I have been getting really amazing feedback and also lots of orders! This has been so much fun for me and such a huge blessing in my life! My biggest order so far being 100 brownies & 100 cookies for an event called Hope Spoken in Dallas. Okay, so I may have gotten myself in a little over my head with that one lol, but it all turned out great, thankfully! And I’m so grateful for every opportunity that comes my way.

All this to say that I finally decided to create a Facebook to sell my baked goods and to help get my name out there! And after going over countless name ideas and with the help of my family, I finally settled on Sugar Town Sweets & Eats! Naming it after a song by Nancy Sinatra that my sister and I have loved for years called, “Sugar Town”! The song is so happy and cute, it just made sense. Plus, music being my second love affair after baking, I’m always happy when the two can intersect in some way.

On the Sugar Town Sweets & Eats Facebook you can take a gander at the yummy treats I sell and message me if you would like to order! Right now I’m selling a variety of cupcakes/cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins and other pastries. I can also ship certain treats such as cookies, brownies, and muffins, if you’re interested! For a complete run down and price list, click on the “About” page on the Facebook!

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(My first ever business cards! I ordered these from an Etsy shop called Seed To Sprout Design. Lovely designs and great service! I definitely recommend them!)

I believe in things that are homemade, handmade, and from scratch. And I believe that the best quality ingredients make for the best quality product. There's nothing that I love more than being in my kitchen, listening to good music, and baking my heart out. It's what truly makes me the happiest!

So please check out and “like” my page… and if you feel so inclined, place an order! I would be happy to bake for you!

www.facebook.com/sugartownsweetsandeats

Some photos of the baked goods I offer:

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Follow Your Arrow – DIY Arrow Ornaments

 

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Follow Your Arrow by 2014 Golden Cove on Grooveshark

I’m a firm believer in handmade gifts. There’s something so special about receiving something that was made just for you by the hands of someone you love. Likewise, it feels really rewarding to make something for someone that they will not only love but that will also have a special meaning to them.

That was the idea behind the gift I made for my sister Cecily this past Christmas. In all honesty, I had been planning this gift for months…. but being the world class procrastinator that I am (le sigh) I didn’t finish it till after Christmas. I know, major Christmas gift fail. But I swear Christmas comes faster every year and we all know just how very slyly it sneaks up on us. But I did finally finish it (yay me!) … and thanks to me, my sister got to open one more Christmas gift in January lol.

These cute little arrow ornaments were actually a last minute addition to her gift. I came across this tutorial by the lovely Jess Gatlyn of Boho Baby Bump and knew I had to make one for my sister. One of her favorite songs lately is “Follow Your Arrow” by country singer, Kacey Musgraves. I hadn’t heard the song until she put it on a mix cd for me some months ago. I’m not a huge fan (and that might an understatement lol) of country music but this one isn’t too bad, I guess (in other words, it’s listenable). Because of the message of the song she had mentioned that an arrow had kind of become a special symbol to her. So naturally I thought of her when I saw this craft.

I was going to use it as an accent on top of the wrapped gift in place of a bow but that didn’t end up working out. So instead I just tucked it into the case of the mix cd I made for her (we recently started sending each other mix cds in the mail).

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They were so easy and fun to make that I made about 5 of them for myself. I posted the video of Jess making them below and I’ll also link to her blog. But basically all you do is paint wooden skewers, cut the arrowheads out of scrapbook paper & hot glue them on, glue on feathers and a string to hang it and cover that with a strip of washi tape, and voilà! There was something really relaxing about painting the skewers in different colors and patterns. Just a really fun & cute craft!

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Now this baby, this butterfly dream catcher/wall hang was the real gift… the one that took me a while to start and to finish lol. 

She and I had found this cute & hippy looking butterfly doily when we took a day trip to Austin last summer. We went shopping on South Congress for the first time ever and saw it lying on a shelf in what became one of our favorite shops, New Bohemia. I believe she said “If I buy this will you make it into a dream catcher for me?”. That was in July… so needless to say, she wasn’t expecting it lol. I had been making myself dream catchers out of doilies for a while just as a fun and decorative diy to hang in my bedroom.  This one was a lot of fun to make and I was really happy that she loved it!

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This was how I used my arrow ornaments, to decorate a Valentines tree! I’ve been seeing cute little Valentines trees all over Pinterest and wanted to try it! Loved the way it looked with the arrows! It made for some cute and quirky Valentines décor, I think!

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Some more Valentines décor in the kitchen, just because I believe in being festive! :)

Hope you guys spend an afternoon making a few of these lovelies for yourself or someone you love!

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For Jess’s written tutorial , click here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Phrase for 2015… His Plan is Better

I know, I know, we’re already a couple months into 2015 but I’m somewhat behind on blogging here, so bear with me as I race to catch up.

It’s a pretty common practice among us bloggers to choose a word for the New Year. A word that will set the tone so to speak and inspire the direction we hope our year takes. If you’ve been a part of the blogosphere as a writer or even just as a reader then I’m sure you know this. I’ve done this for the past few years now and I love the idea of it. It always made me feel hopeful for the new year, for a new start when maybe I was having a hard time doing that. But I have to be honest, this year… I could not even go there. I just couldn’t. I was totally and completely over it. Every pretty, inspiring, fluffy word felt fake and phony to me.

You see, the thing is, I was really dreading the clock striking 12 and the year changing into 2015. All that it meant to me was a list, a long list of all the things I didn’t accomplish in 2014. All the things I hoped and dreamed for it to be that it just wasn’t. It meant so much of what I planned that just didn’t happen. It meant that I had to face all the ways I didn’t change and didn’t grow. It was swallowing some hard truths… and it hurt. And I was a mere minute from falling apart at the thought of midnight on New Years Eve. And I hate that because I love celebrating that holiday with my family. But that’s where my heart was.

Somehow I made it through New Years Eve without any tears… this I believe is due in part to the yummy cheese fondue that we ate that night lol. But a few nights later, I was thinking about my plans that didn’t happen last year as I was scrolling through pictures of people who were doing that very thing. Needless to say, that sort of broke me. In tears at that point I started praying and asking God why weren’t these things happening for me? Why does it seem impossible for me to get to where I’ve been trying to go for what feels like forever?

Now, trust me, I’m not one to over spiritualize things and I try to be very very careful about saying the words “God told me” or “God spoke to me”… but at that moment I really did feel Him place these words into my heart: My plan is better.

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(Source)

That was it. No bells or whistles. Just four words… a reminder that His plan is better.  Was it God? I hope so. I think so. All I know is that it was a huge comfort to me and it’s something I’ve been repeating to myself since then. His plan is better. Everytime I start to worry, stress, or get antsy… His plan is better. Everytime I start to look back in regret and frustration or look forward in fear and confusion…. His plan is better. Everytime I get tempted to ignore His voice and go my own way… His plan is better.

So this year, I don’t have a word… I have a whole phrase. His plan is better.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dear Blog….

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(Photo of the lovely and dreamy Junk Gypsy store in Round Top, TX! Seriously one of my favorite places! Plan to blog about my recent trips there soon!)

Oh hello little blog of mine. Long time no talk, eh? I know it may not seem like it, but I've missed you.

You dear blog, hold 6 years of me. Six years! Crazy, huh? My how time flies. Six years of my thoughts, feelings, random ramblings, and of course two of my favorite things – lots of music & lots of recipes!

When we began this journey into the blogosphere in the summer of 2009, it was simply just a way for me to share lyrics and poems that I was writing at that time. Just a virtual home for words never put to music but had instead lived on paper, written in pen (remember that lost art?). So I tacked a name on you that my sister actually came up with (in reference to my love of writing & baking) and used lyrics from my favorite Tristan Prettyman song as a url. A url, which in hindsight, doesn't really make much sense considering the title is completely different... but that's beside the point. The point is, that was my only plan and intention for you. I didn't realize at that time what you would come to mean to me. I didn't realize that you would become a place for me to share so much of myself.

I loved sharing in this space. I loved watching it change and transform... watching myself change and transform on these pages. We may not have ever had hundreds of followers or comments... but again, that wasn't really the point anyway, was it? There was a time that you became such a huge part of my life that I couldn't imagine not sharing my life with you.

But alas, things change, dear blog. I have changed... and blogging has definitely changed. Sharing in these spaces is not what it used to be (thanks instagram ;)).

It's now been 7 months since I've written. That's the longest I've ever been away from you. When I stopped writing last summer it wasn't intentional by any means and it wasn't for a lack of things to say. For some reason I just couldn't bring myself to come here. I think I needed some space.

But lately the need to share has been tugging at my heart again. We all have so much to share with the world. And to share our words, thoughts, feelings, experiences, talents, hopes, dreams, joys, and pains is so important. We need each others stories. And to share them not only helps others but also speaks to the truth that we matter. To share is to believe that you matter, that your story matters. That you have something of value and worth to offer the world... and trust me, we all do.

So all this to say that I do have things to share, that I want to share. But I can't make you any promises, dear blog... I know myself too well. I don't know what this space will become or what direction it will take, if it takes any direction at all. But I just think my words need to find a home here again.


"I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to let your God given creativity surface. The world needs you. The church needs you. We need your ideas, your insights, your colors, Your contribution. What you are passionate about was created in you to make a splash in this life that no one else can make. Make it now." - Nicole Johnson


P.S
Okay blog, so maybe it's a little overly sentimental (if not slightly self indulgent) but I wanted to share some of our favorite moments from this space over the years. The ones that still make me smile, the ones I feel most proud of.... so here's to you! ;)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June Foodie Penpals Reveal!

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Hey my fellow foodies! It’s been so quiet over here on my little corner of the internet lately as I have become the worst blogger ever! Ugh! Seriously, can you hear the crickets? Because I can. But I thought I would break my silence to tell you (if you’re still here, that is) about this awesomely delish Foodie Penpals box I got for June!

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Above is a picture of just a few of the yummy treats in my box, taken immediately after I excitedly rummaged through it. And yes, that bag does say Ketchup chips lol. So I was totally spoiled this month by Raina over at The Home Plate! Raina shares her delish recipes as well as other FPP boxes she’s received, so definitely check out her blog!

Raina and I both have a love of coffee, chocolate, and all things salty and sweet… so I knew I was paired with the perfect person lol. In my opinion, the most fun Foodie Penpals boxes are always the ones that are filled to the brim with some of your favorite things as well as a few things that are new to you. Which is exactly what this box was. Here is what it was chock full of:

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I seriously did not know where to start lol.

One of the first things I was curious to try were the Ketchup Chips. Raina said that they are her favorites and that even though they sound so wrong, they are oh so right. I’ll admit, I was skeptical lol. But I have to say that she is right! They really are so good! They have a tangy tomato-y flavor that I actually really liked!

The Dill Pickle Popcorn has a light tangy pickle taste and is so good! The Cheerwine Cherry Soda was one of my favorite things! I love cherry soda so this was right up my ally! It was enjoyed along with some of the chips & popcorn during the season premiere of one of my favorite shows, Switched at Birth! Made the perfect snack!

Okay, the coffee with Chicory… oh man, so delish!! How am I just barely discovering this?? Drinking this up fast!

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A closer look at all the assorted chocolate treats!!! Think I’ve tried just about everything now. I have a few things left in my chocolate stash but it is quickly dwindling lol.

Some of my favorites were the Goo Goo Cluster, I think it was the first one I ever tried. The nuts, caramel, marshmallow, and chocolate… addicting! Also, the chocolate covered graham crackers & s’mores graham cracker, chocolate bar with maple, the chocolate covered espresso beans, and the chocolate digestives! Yes, this box was all about the chocolate, ha!

I thought the Chocolate Digestives (such an odd name for a cookie, right?) were especially interesting. They’re basically round cookies, that to me taste somewhat like graham crackers, with one side covered in chocolate. They’re simple but good! And from what I hear very popular in the UK.

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Here’s a picture of the Cheerwine cherry soda! So refreshing! Wish I could get this in my area!

I want thank Raina for this crazy awesome box! It was such a fun one! If you want to know what I sent her click here! And also thank you to Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean for organizing all this foodie fun! :)

P.S Just realized this is my 11th time participating in Foodie Penpals! lol So that should give you some idea of how much fun this program is and how much I love it! So if you want to join in, get some yummy treats sent straight to your door, and make some new friends in the process, the info is below!

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Here’s some details about FPP in case you want to join in for July:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written.
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers.
-Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. 

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for July, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by July 4th as pairings will be emailed on July 5th!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Hey loves! It’s been somewhat quiet over here lately. I have no excuse really just haven’t been in “blogging mode”. I’ve been in baking mode. Spending my days baking cookies, brownies, cakes, ect. to sell at my local bookstore/café as well as to family. It’s been so fun and has given me some great experience but I do not think I’ve ever been in the kitchen more!

And I’ve also as of late been in healthy eating & fitness mode. And how that fits into all the baking I’m doing for other people I have no idea, ha! Though I’m doing pretty good, I think. But I mean a good baker has to taste what she makes, right? Especially if someone is paying me for these treats… so I’d be lying if I said I haven’t taken a bite more than what I should’ve. Baby steps.

So all this to say, I thought I’d slip back into blogging mode with a yummy and indulgent cupcake recipe!!! Woot!  This is one of the cupcakes I’ve been making to sell at the bookstore/café and it’s been the one I’ve gotten the most comments on. So far it’s definitely been one of my best selling treats. I’ve also made it in cake form for family and got some really great feedback on it! It pairs two of my very favorite things, chocolate and coffee! Match made in heaven, right?

I have to give credit where credit is due though. I first got the idea for these babies when I tasted the “Chocolate Bolt” cupcake at a bakery called Yummy Finds, which is located just an hour from where I live. I was in love with the combo of  the chocolate cupcake with espresso filling and chocolate frosting. I was inspired so I just had to go home and try to replicate it. And I think I got pretty close. By the way, if you’re ever in Victoria, Texas do yourself a favor and stop by Yummy Finds. They not only have delish cupcakes but they serve awesome lunches as well. It’s one of my favorite places!

For this recipe I used what is now my very favorite chocolate cake recipe, along with an amazing recipe for espresso buttercream that I came across on Pinterest, and my stand by chocolate buttercream frosting I’ve been using for years. If you love chocolate and coffee and need a little caffeine jolt, give these cupcakes a shot!

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes -

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(First time I made them. Garnished these with just chocolate chips but I definitely  prefer the chocolate sprinkles and espresso beans.)

A moist, chocolaty cupcake filled with creamy espresso buttercream, frosted with a rich chocolate buttercream, and finally topped off with a small dollop of espresso buttercream, a chocolate covered espresso bean, and either chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles!

This chocolate cake recipe is very similar to the one I’ve always used which is the Hershey’s recipe. But I recently tried this one and found that with the edition of the buttermilk and coffee it’s a lot more moist and rich then the Hershey’s cake. So this is definitely my staple chocolate cake recipe from now on.

This espresso buttercream… oh, what can I say? It’s magic. It’s just pure magic. It’s a fluffy, creamy coffee lover’s dream. And I’m definitely a coffee lover so, truth be told, I add in a smidge more espresso than the recipe calls for. Tell ya, I could eat it all with a spoon… ahem, not that I ever have or anything.

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Like I said, I use my stand by chocolate buttercream. It’s just my favorite. It’s my own version of the one bowl buttercream recipe.

To hollow out the cupcakes so I can fill them I use my trusty cupcake corer. Makes it so much easier and faster. Plus, I kinda like eating the little centers lol. And then I just pipe some espresso buttercream right in the center!

Top these caffeinated lovelies off with an extra dollop of espresso buttercream, a chocolate covered espresso bean (got these in a Foodie Penpal package, love ‘em!), a dash of chocolate sprinkles and you’re good to go! 

And while they make amazing cupcakes they also make a very lovely cake! -

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(My cousin asked me to make this one for her mom’s birthday. Really happy with the way it turned out and really really happy the they loved it!)

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(First time I made this cake. For this one I used crushed chocolate covered espresso beans on the sides. But I ended up not liking the texture of them on the cake.)

Ingredients:

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(Recipe adapted from mybakingaddiction.com)

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons King Arthur Flour Black Cocoa, optional
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 
Directions:
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa(s), baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about two minutes; the batter will be thin. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

For cupcakes bake for 16-18 minutes. For cake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.


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(Recipe adapted from browneyedbaker.com)

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons espresso powder

Directions:
Mix the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.

Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about a minute or two.

Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary.

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Ingredients:
1 stick butter
4 tbsp. Cocoa
2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. corn syrup
heavy cream (I never measure how much. Just a little drizzle to make it light and fluffy.)

Directions:
In a medium bowl cream butter and cocoa with mixer until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add in vanilla, corn syrup, and heavy cream and beat on medium speed for two minutes until light and fluffy.

Assembly: After cupcakes are completely cool, hollow out the center and fill each one with espresso buttercream. Then pipe on chocolate buttercream. Pipe a small dollop of espresso buttercream right on top in the center. Finish with chocolate sprinkles or chocolate chips.

Monday, March 31, 2014

March Foodie Penpals Reveal!

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Hey fellow foodies! I’m here with another Foodie Penpals reveal today!

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This month I received a lovely package from Ginger over at Mini Me Wannabe! Ginger shares her health and fitness journey with her readers and has some really great tips, so definitely check out her blog! The box of goodies she sent me all came from Trader Joes! I’ve never been to a Trader Joes before as there are none around my area but have heard so many awesome things about it. It was fun to get to sample some of their products!

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Included in the box ~

Sweet Potato Bisque – I wasn’t sure about this soup as I’m not a huge sweet potato fan but it was actually really good. It’s really creamy and the warm flavors kind of remind me of fall.

Bruschetta – This looks delish! I already have this recipe in mind to use it in!

Cowboy Caviar – This is so delish!!! A salsa chock full of black beans, corn, and peppers. It’s really flavorful with a little kick and is just a little addicting.

Thai Dry Chili Paste – Haven’t tried this yet but it’s supposed to be a little on the spicy side. It says on the jar that it can be used to season veggies, meats, poultry, and also for dipping crackers when mixed with a little olive oil. Love that it’s so versatile, excited to try it!

Green Tea Infused Mints – Was also a little nervous about these mints but oh my gosh, they’re amazing! I’m usually not much for mints but these babies don’t taste like typical mints. They have a very light tea taste along with other very warm notes. Refreshing and almost soothing flavors.

Onion Dip Mix – Loved this dip! You just mix it with some light sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and let it sit in the fridge for a while and you have a creamy, tangy dip! Though I will say those Green Tea mints sure do come in handy after eating this dip, ha!

Oh and last but not least, seriously how pretty is that peacock card?! Love it!

I want to say thank you to Ginger for all these yummy snacks, I’m really enjoying them! And also thanks to Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean for putting all this foodie fun together! :)

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Here’s some details about FPP in case you want to join in for April:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written.
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers.
-Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. 

If you’re from the US or Canada and are in participating for March, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by April 4th as pairings will be emailed on April 5th!