Meet Singer/Songwriter Taylor Grey: An Old Soul with Youthful Energy

Indie-folk singer/songwriter Taylor Grey maybe your average teenager talking about love, but she somehow brings the conversation to life so eloquently and maturely, yet remains relevant to her age.

Her two EPs, Mind of Mine and Mind of Mine II (available here) were released earlier this year and teases at one incredible album from a new artist that’s bound to make waves in the industry.

Oh, and did I mention she is charismatic and  adorable to boot?  Check Taylor Grey out in the music video for “Love Sweet Love”

Listen on Spotify!

Follow Taylor Grey
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Mama Kate’s Potato Salad

Like many people, I learned how to cook from my mother.  I began cooking and baking when I was 8-years-old and adored that time spent with Mom.

Whenever I make one of her recipes, I get nostalgic and sometimes, it feels like Mom is right there with me in the kitchen.  Yesterday marked 9 years since she has passed away and the moments I miss most were those times we slaved away well into the wee hours of the morning cooking for holidays.  We’d laugh so hard and listen to music and talk about anything and everything.

The thing about Mom’s recipes, though, besides being delicious, they were never vegan or measured out.  Hell, I still don’t measure anything, unless I’m creating a recipe to post on the blog.

Mom’s potato salad is one recipe that can easily be made vegan.  I had my siblings be the judge on comparing the taste and they gave it a family stamp of approval.

This potato salad wins over any crowd, even those who don’t generally like potato salad.  It even won a contest at a barbecue with my friends a few years back.  The ingredients are simple and the hardest part of this recipe is boiling, cutting and peeling the potatoes!  But if you hate peeling like I do, and love tater skins, use red potatoes, keep those skins on and you’ll love it just the same!

MAMA KATE’S POTATO SALAD [VEGANIZED]

SERVINGS: 10+

INGREDIENTS:
5lbs Red Potatoes
1.5 Cups Vegan Mayonnaise (I use Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise)
1 Onion, chopped
1 TBSP White or Apple Cider Vinegar
A few splashes Nondairy Milk
2 tsp Salt or to taste
1 tsp Pepper or to taste
1 TBSP dried or fresh Parsley, plus more for garnish

Step 1: Wash potatoes and peel if desired. Place in pot with water and boil until a fork can easily go through potato.

Step 2: Run cold water over potatoes for a few minutes and set aside to cool off.

Step 3: Once potatoes are cooled down, slice into chunks.

Step 4: Stir together chopped onion and potatoes.

Step 5: Season potatoes and onions with salt, pepper and parsley. Mix together.

Step 6: Add vinegar and nondairy milk and mix before adding in mayo. If potatoes look dry, add more mayo.

Step 7: Store in refrigerator overnight preferably or for a few hours. The flavor will set in and it will taste much better the next day. If salad looks dry, add a little more nondairy milk and/or mayo.

Step 8: Garnish with parsley.

*Non-vegans: Mom used Hellman’s mayonnaise only (swore by the stuff) and also used about 3 crumbled hard-boiled eggs in this recipe.

Trying out this recipe?
Post your photos and tag @SandyLoMedia on Instagram! 🙂

Spotlight – Prologue

Spotlight” is the 6th book in the “Dream Catchers” Series and is from the perspective of photographer Haley Foster and rock star Jordan Walsh’s daughter, Aylin.  “Spotlight” will be released November 15, 2016.

SYNOPSIS

Aylin Ashton always had a voracious heart and is fiercely loyal to the ones she loves. At twenty, she wants more than the celebrity lifestyle her family is known for—she wants an identity of her own with friends who care about who she is and not her last name.

Most of all, Aylin wants the love story her parents have. In a world full of divorce, and a society that has made it hard for her to be “normal”, she is not sure if true love can be her reality.

She finds herself struggling to grow romantically and keeps hitting a dead-end with men. From the egotistical pop-rocker Rad Trick to hipster music critic Mike, Aylin is not particularly gaga for either of them, and can’t help to pine for too-old-for-her Irishmen, Colin Houlihan, who happens to be her father’s tour manager!

The impetuous Aylin can’t help but make passes at the flirty, always doting on her Colin, and when he actually admits an attraction to her, the two are on dangerous ground.

The experience leaves Aylin wounded, but ultimately sends her on a journey to find out who she is and what she really wants, and maybe to the special someone she had hoped for.

Read the “Dream Catchers” Series on Amazon!

PROLOGUE

True love was something I always knew existed, but I also believed it to be rare. Relationships crumbled too often for me to think it common.

I never thought much about love’s existence as a child since it surrounded my home. My parents said the words often—to me, to one anotherr, to their friends. But my young brain hadn’t given any thought to what the words “I love you” meant. I loved lots of things, like animals, children, ice cream, and my family. Outside of that, I never had a dire need for any particular person or object.

You know how daughters are usually daddy’s girls? That was me, but I was equally a Mama’s girl, too. My parents traveled plenty for work purposes, and they took me with them often. When one of them–usually my dad–traveled and left me behind in New York, I had missed them terribly.

I knew how much I loved them and couldn’t imagine if they were ever taken away from me. But the kind of love Mom and Dad have for one another was what really baffled me. They embody true love. In today’s world, you don’t see it often, but it was always right in front of my face within my parents.

Throughout my school years, I couldn’t remember a single friend whose parents weren’t divorced. While traveling with my dad’s rock band, Tortured, I would meet all of these celebrities, most of whom were on their second or third marriages, or just never settled down with anyone at all.

Even my dad’s best friend, Danny and the band’s manager, Cami, who were married almost as long as my parents had been, got a divorce a few years ago! I came to find out Danny was cheating on Cami, and they never had what she would describe as true love to begin with. The demise of their marriage opened my eyes to the fact that love is sometimes–most of the time–a novelty that wears off.

I was always content being surrounded by two loving, amazing parents who had the coolest careers. Mom is a notable photographer whose work had been featured in just about every magazine across the world. Dad, AKA Jordan Walsh, famous lead singer of Tortured, is renowned for his voice, songwriting, good looks and humble personality. I’m proud of who my parents are and all they have accomplished.

While people think my parents are cool for their professional accomplishments, I find their love for one another the most significant thing about them. They’re incredibly in sync with each other. Over twenty years together, and they still look like kids with a crush. I want that.

I just don’t know how or when I will have it–if I will ever have it. While I am grateful for what I have, relating to kids growing up and making friends or having boyfriends was difficult.

I was around the band more than anyone else my age. When I wasn’t on tour with Tortured, I was accompanying my mom on photo shoots with teen heartthrobs, like my celebrity crush Bex Moore or his rival Rad Trick. Or I was cheering on Uncle Drew, shortstop for the New York Yankees, at home games. That was all normal for me, but it wasn’t for my peers.

Now I am no longer a teenager and have grown tired of tagging along with my parents. I used to be a boisterous free spirit who went with the flow and didn’t stop to think about anything, but the moment I was in. Senior year of high school was a serious wake-up call. I became frustrated with my so-called friends when they continuously wanted to use me to get to Tortured or the Yankees or set them up with a celebrity I met.

I used to be happy and excited about life. When I turned eighteen, I suddenly felt alone. I couldn’t trust any of the friends I made in high school and meeting new people was not easy.

I kept waiting for something and I didn’t know what that something was. I thought college would be better. I could find some kind of career calling and find some real friends, but ultimately, I wanted to find true love–to have a partner in life to express all of these emotions to. I didn’t want to feel used for my last name, the celebrity company I keep, or my money.

I’d settle for a simple crush on someone my own age who wasn’t super out-of-reach. The hugest crush I had was on my dad’s hot tour manager, Colin Houlihan. As soon as he said hello to me with that adorable Irish accent, I was planning our life together at eight-years-old.

Not long after I became infatuated with Colin, I asked Mom how she knew Dad was her true love. I hoped her explanation would help me identify the feeling within myself one day. Instantly, a big smile had taken over her face.

“Did you know right away?”
She laughed, “No, I hated your father at first sight.”
My eyes widened, “Hated him?”
She nodded, “I thought he was gorgeous, of course, in that unpolished way he has about him, but we were totally different people. I was scared of boys, especially ones that smoked and had tattoos…”
“Dad smoked?” I gasped, disgusted.
“Yes, repulsive, right?” She rolled her eyes and then laughed, as if she was lost in the memory of when they first met.
“So, did Dad fall for you right away?” I wondered. “Did he annoy you so much until you just went out with him?”

Fame or no fame, Dad had a way about him. He was good at getting people to do what he wanted, especially girls. He was what most people called charming, and I’ve been told many times that I have inherited his charm. I don’t know about all of that since most people my age were too entranced with my father than to ever notice me.

Mom had laughed at me thinking my father forced himself on her.
“Your father thought I was a stuck-up brat. But we both felt like we had to prove something to the other one. I think we came off so different that we were both a little intrigued, and secretly liked challenging the other one,” Mom shrugged. “We got to know each other and realized you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” she concluded.

She looked at me the way she did when she wanted me to come away from something with a lesson. Never judge a book by its cover, got it, Mom. I don’t think she realized the real response I was searching for, though.

I never did get a clear answer of the moment Mom knew Dad was her true love, or how she knew. Did the feeling just hit you? Was it gradual?

Now at twenty, I felt like I should know something about relationships and love, but I was still clueless and desperately wanted to mature in that department. As for the whole don’t judge a book by its cover… well, I never did, and sometimes I think I should have. Sometimes a book turns out exactly like its cover, and its one you never should have read to begin with.

Read the “Dream Catchers” Series on Amazon!

Justin Timberlake Returns To TN Roots with the Pilgrimage Music Festival

unnamed(1)Actor and Musician Justin Timberlake continues to expand his role in the music industry by signing on as a partner and producer of the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival. The two-day event transforms The Park At Harlinsdale Farm into an oasis of music, food, and culture set against the natural setting of this former walking horse farm located in Franklin, TN taking place September 24 and 25, 2016.

Born and raised in Memphis, Justin Timberlake will return to his Tennessee roots to not only come on board as a producer of the festival but to lay down roots literally.

“I couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of The Pilgrimage Music & Culture Festival. Being a Tennessee native and now a member of the community in Franklin, I have been watching the development of the festival over the past two years. For me, this is an amazing opportunity to help build an exceptional event and contribute to my community,” says Justin Timberlake.

Timberlake’s creative director Trace Ayala who is also a Franklin resident, couldn’t agree more. “Being a resident of Leiper’s Fork and the Franklin community, I’m thrilled to have this event right here in my own backyard! As Justin’s creative director, I’m looking forward to putting our stamp on this thing! It’ll also serve as a great stage to showcase the artists we’ve signed to our artist development company, Villa 40.”

pilgramage festival 2016Original Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival producers (Kevin Griffin, Brandt Wood, Michael Whelan) will work closely with Justin Timberlake, although he will not be performing this year, and Trace Ayala on the creative direction of the upcoming festival taking place September 24 + 25 as well as years to come.

“It really is a perfect fit to have Justin on board as a partner not only for his knowledge and accomplishments in the music industry but also his love for the Tennessee area,” says co-founder Kevin Griffin. “We are looking forward to introducing new fans to Pilgrimage and to the music, food, and culture of the southern region.”

The two-day festival, which is going into its sophomore year, has been hailed by Rolling Stone as having “established itself as a festival to watch” and will return with another incredibly curated lineup. Heavy hitters such as Beck, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Jason Isbel, and Kacey Musgraves will #MakeThePilgrimage to Franklin along with indie favorites including Kaleo, The Strumbellas, Shakey Graves and more.In addition to artists performing their own sets, Pilgrimage will feature Pilgri-mashups where one-of-a-kind pairings of musicians collaborate with one another on stage as well as the Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor stage featuring local artists. The family friendly festival also features world renowned children’s musicians as well as interactive activities throughout the day. REMEMBER: Kids under 10 get in FREE when accompanied by an adult GA Ticket. Last but not least, the region’s best food and drink will be on display as well as numerous local artists and artisans creating an all-encompassing festival experience.

Not only will the festival drive tourism dollars to Williamson County but a portion of each ticket sale will benefit the City of Franklin and Franklin Parks. In addition, a portion of ticket sales will also benefit MusiCares®, a nonprofit organization that was established by The Recording Academy® to provide a wide range of emergency financial assistance and addiction recovery resources to members of the music community.

#MakeThePilgrimage
http://www.pilgrimagefestival.com

Coffee Shop Etiquette 101

There are some things you should never do in a coffee shop.  You may think your behavior is totally normal, but you might be royally pissing off your barista.  Who cares, you say?  Well, not only will your baristas secretly dread seeing you, you may actually be slowing down the pace of the cafe for other patrons.  So many people (most of them good people) are guilty of such bad etiquette that I thought I’d list some items here for all to see.

Pay Attention

working-in-retail-gets-me-every-time-65621This one should be obvious, right?  But in today’s world, NO ONE pays attention to anything but their phone!  You stare at your phone while waiting online.  You talk on it while placing your order, which is kind of rude, by the way!  Hell, ,you even pay for your coffee with your phone, but yet you never have your app ready at the register!  Worse yet, you don’t even have your order ready after waiting on line!  To top it all off, you complain about how long the line is and how we’re making you late for work… it could never be poor planning on your part, right?

However, lines can get pretty long during the morning and we try so hard to get you guys in and out quickly.  But sometimes, our customers don’t make it easy.  I’m not saying it’s your fault, but it’s everyone’s fault.  You don’t know what you want, so you stare at the menu board, trying to figure it out, even though, we both know you’re going to get a caramel macchiato, though you want to “try something new”.  You know what happened before you got to the register?  The person in front of you also couldn’t decide what they wanted.  And the person after you?  You guessed it, also decided to play on their phone instead of figuring out  what they were ordering.  In short, use your time on line wisely.

Don’t Stare!

When you’re at work, do you like it if someone is behind you, lurking over your shoulder while you type at your desk?  No?  Funny, us baristas hate lurkers too!  Staring at us over the espresso machine does not bring your drink out faster!  In fact, it totally creeps us out.  It also makes us nervous, thinking we’re not moving fast enough when in fact, you JUST placed your order and there are 10 drinks in front of yours.  And FYI, if you happened to have ordered food, hot tea or regular coffee, it is not the barista at the espresso bar’s responsibility to make those items, so don’t look at them wondering whether or not they’re making it.

Stop Explaining

Not to be rude, but we don’t need to hear reasons behind why you order a certain drink or why you don’t want to reload your gift card or how you spilled your drink.  We will gladly try our best to solve your problem and give you great service, no questions asked.  Yes, we love small talk.  Yes, we love building relationships with our customers, but just let us clean up your spilled drink instead of continuing to describe how it happened.  When placing your order, we don’t need to know why you want nonfat milk, but keep the whip cream.  We’ll make it anyway you want – no explanation needed!

No Touching!

Anything behind the counter or bar area is off limits to customers.  Just because you have long-ass arms that can reach a cup, straw or our water spout does not mean it is free to take!  In fact, if you touch a cup or lid, we are technically required by our quality assurance inspectors to toss those items out.  Just politely ask for something and we will be happy to get it for you!

Don’t Talk To Us Like Idiots

willywonkaThis one should go without saying, but nothing bugs me more than when people speak to me like my brain can’t comprehend much or they talk slow as sludge to me.  “I would like a… grande… mocha… extra shot… decaf… iced.”  And then they look at me as if waiting for me to ask them to repeat their order.  It actually makes it harder for me to take your order the more you slow it down.  As baristas, we were taught to call out beverages in a certain order.  We don’t expect customers to figure out our code, but telling us your order in a normal, audible speaking voice is best.  By the way, while we’re at it – if you specify the size and whether it is iced or hot first, that is a huge help to your barista.  We can’t mark anything on a cup until we know those 2 things.  Lastly, you repeating “decaf” five times is unnecessary.

Stop Spelling Your Name For Us

As a writer and awesomely intuitive name speller, this actually offends me.  If I ask your name, tell me what it is.  Don’t immediately start spelling.  Now you’ve thrown me off.  If someone asks my name, I don’t say, “Es. Ay…” I fully expect someone to think my name is “Essay” before I can finish spelling.

Also, if I ask you to repeat your name, it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to spell it.  It simply means it is too damn loud between the blenders, the grinder and espresso machine to hear you.  Just repeat your name for us.  If I ask if your name is Sarah with an “H” or Zack with a “K”, don’t tell me it doesn’t matter.  I take my names very seriously and nothing pisses me off more than people spelling my name “Sandi” (as so many of my co-workers do).

Okay, wait.  Scratch this whole paragraph… maybe most baristas don’t care about spelling your name right at all.  Maybe some of them are snarky jerks.  But if you happen to come to my register, let me spell your damn name! ;-)  Apparently, I am just a weirdo with a name spelling fetish.

The Traveling Barista is meant to be in good fun.  Baristas genuinely love their customers, but we deal with the general public on a constant basis and therefore need to vent heavily.

Have a coffee shop story you want to share?  Comment below!
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