Last summer, summer 2011, was the summer of wedding planning (also known as The Pit). I spent all my free time hunkered down in there, absorbed in the constant tasks of ceremony details, caterers, jazz bands, invitations, favors, showers, guest lists, seating charts, expectations, and I’ll be honest with you: sometimes it got a little dark. Thankfully, Tim was with me. Having the two of us together made The Pit more cozy.

The only problem with hunkering down for a summer, however, is that you miss a lot of things. It has to happen, but you do. While we were making regular trips back and forth from Chicago, the rest of the world continued on, the way it always does. While our weekends were spreadsheets of to-do lists and hours picking towels and bed sheets at Target, I tuned out of blogs and stopped reading or writing or paying attention to, well, anything that couldn’t get into The Pit with us. Sometimes my family got in there. Sometimes, our friends. But everything else didn’t fit, and so I let it go.

For the most part, that was OK. Simplifying, even. But then a few weeks ago, I was washing dishes in our kitchen, looking out the window, and I noticed how big and tall and purple our neighbor’s tree had gotten. In an instant, my eyes moved across the street to another one, hot pink like a Spring Break bikini. We drove to the grocery store, past that vintage brick apartment complex we always see, and an entire row of trees bordering the road had exploded into whites and reds and violet and deep maroon. It was then that I realized just how deep we’d been buried, together with our heads down, moving through that tunnel in the dark.

Last summer, I don’t remember a flower. This year, giant blooming trees are EVERYWHERE.

Nashville in Bloom with white buds
Nashville pink flowers

So if there’s one thing I’ve wanted for summer 2012, it’s to stay above ground. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been here so often. When I look back on this year, I’ll remember making risotto with my brother, enduring weeks of three-digit-temperature days, sitting inside while the sky got dark with clouds and rain and thunderstorms.


I’ll remember walking through neighborhoods with Tim to see the world in bloom, camera around my neck, marveling at the different colors and the intricate petals and the way they look against the early evening sky.

I’ll remember telling myself to take the time to notice, really look at and observe, the life I’m living: the mornings Tim and I shuffle to the dining table, laptops in hand; the afternoons walking down the driveway, feeling the heat as we grab the mail and see that couple across the street who wave like friendly grandparents. I’ll remember walking through a park last night, where the air smelled mossy and moist, surrounded by one hundred different shades of green.


But mostly, I’ll remember what we’ve been eating:

The ice cream.


Summer 2012, in addition to being the first summer we were married and the first summer I felt like I lived in Nashville has also, more notably, been this, at least in our house: The Summer of Ice Cream.


There are new flavors rolling out every week, from frozen yogurt to chocolate chunk to cinnamon honey, and we eat it almost as quickly as it comes out of the machine. The first time Tim made this strawberry version, plumped up with chopped walnuts and big pieces of soft chocolate chunks, we polished it off in one day. It might be our current favorite.


In fact, the way things are going, this fall may be The Autumn of Ice Cream and this winter, The Winter of Ice Cream, and who knows how long it will go. But whatever the future brings, ice cream and otherwise, one thing’s for sure:

I get to have my eyes open to notice it, right now, today.

Strawberry Walnut Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
Makes just over one quart

3/4 cup sucanat
1 cup of milk
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of pureed fresh strawberries

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, added at end
1/3-1/2 cup chopped chocolate, added at end
1/3-1/2 cup of shredded coconut, added at end (optional)

Combine sucanat and milk in the Vitamix, blend until dissolved. Stop and add egg yolks, vanilla, cream, berries and then blend on low speed until all ingredients are incorporated. Add to ice cream maker and use as directed or until ice cream is set up. Either add mix-ins during the last 5 minutes of churning or add in when ice cream is finished while placing into another container.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 29 Comments

  1. Kendra

    So CLEARLY I love your blog, but I’ve never pinned/bookmarked several of your recipes in a row. I mean, they’re always great (again, clearly), but you’re on a roll. Maybe it’s the food. Maybe it’s the story behind the food. Maybe it’s the photos. Or maybe it’s just me. But the last few things you’ve posted are on my let’s-make-this-this-week list.

    And my life is The Life of Ice Cream. Seasons are just too dang short.

    1. Kendra

      P.S. I’m channeling you this morning. Salted blueberry-walnut spelt pancakes cooked in coconut oil with maple syrup. It’s pretty delightful. Over and out.

      1. Shannalee

        I can’t decide which I love more: the phrase ‘my life is The Life of Ice Cream’ or the image you’ve created of those salted blueberry-walnut spelt pancakes. Cooked in coconut oil. With maple syrup.


  2. Annalise

    Beautiful post! It’s the Summer of Ice Cream in our house too. In years past I’ve always regretted not making more ice cream, so this year my goal is one new flavor a week. This recipe of yours looks fantastic!

    1. Shannalee

      Annalise, That is a goal we could definitely get behind! : )

  3. Jacqui

    Ahh, wedding planning. We don’t have a cute name for our experience … mostly when I think about it, I think about how happy I am that I never have to do it again. Seriously, next time I’m eloping! 😉 So glad you’re enjoying your summer. I was afraid I’d miss mine this year with all the house stuff we have going on, but it turns out, owning a house makes you notice it even more. And ice cream. Ice cream! I think I should add an ice cream maker to my “Things I NEED” list, right next to popscicle molds. But we did find an awesome frozen custard place nearby. Have you had frozen custard? Different than ice cream — creamier, richer, dare I say, better? Hey, happy weekend!

    1. Shannalee

      Preach, girl. Next time, eloping for sure. And my vote says an ice cream maker is totally one of the things every kitchen needs. We use ours more than the crockpot or the immersion blender or the waffle maker….

      And PS – frozen custard. At Andy’s? I remember it well. Oh, Bolingbrook. You’re a nice place.

  4. Lan | angry asian

    to me, it’s all about slowing down and taking the final destination out of the equation and paying attention to the journey. having tunnel vision is only beneficial if all you want is to complete a task. there’s something to be said about taking a moment, holding onto it, savoring it and breathing.

    PS. national ice cream for breakfast day is in February (it was founded/discovered by dw’s bff’s grandmother or something 6degrees-y), so Winter of Ice Cream totally works.

    1. Shannalee

      Ice cream for breakfast! A holiday that is right up my alley. And now I practically know the person who invented it? I’m in.

  5. Ashley

    Looks good! I’ve been wanting to make ice cream all summer but just haven’t gotten around to it.

    Thank you for making the entire post visible in feed readers! I appreciate it.

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, Ashley! The full post was actually a mistake in RSS feeds; I think I’ve corrected it now. I’m totally with you and like having an entire post available, but unfortunately it opens our content up to trolls and spammers. (We had people taking our content when we used to leave the whole thing in the feed.) Right now, we’re trying to include as much of the post as we can, but usually the recipe requires a click-through. I hope you understand—and thanks for bring it up!

  6. Rachael

    Haha! Wedding planning is totally eating up my time right now. I love how you mention taking the time to notice; to live the life you’re living. I REALLY need to slow down and enjoy the tiny moments God gives me. :) Btw, have you ever read Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts”? Similar ideas there.

    1. Shannalee

      Rachael, I haven’t. I did go hear Ann Voskamp speak a few months ago though, and I came away refreshed with her perspective on gratitude. Happy wedding planning to you—it’s almost impossible to take it all in, I think, but I’m hoping you come above ground more than I did. : )

  7. Kristen

    It sounds like you’ve had a wonderful summer of awareness. And ice cream – love it!

    1. Shannalee

      Thank you, Kristen! It’s been so good.

  8. Helene @ French Foodie Baby

    Lovely lovely thoughts… I’m one of those who will be eloping next time as well :-) Love the description of your walks and looking at the flowers and being intensely aware of the world around. I’ve felt that as well. I guess the world is there for us to look at and take in when we’re ready to do so. I haven’t made nearly enough ice cream this summer, but relieved to think I have all year to make up for it!

    1. Shannalee

      Ha, Helene, yes, definitely… at least if we’re any indicator. : )

  9. Jen @ Savory Simple

    This looks really wonderful. I got married last year as well and it’s quite an ordeal! I had no idea how many details needed to be planed. The ice cream looks wonderful.

    1. Shannalee

      Me neither, Jen! Tim and I still tell each other, regularly, how glad we are that we don’t have to plan a wedding anymore, ha!

  10. Ashlae

    My boyfriend and I hunkered down this summer (although not for wedding planning, as he has yet to put a ring on it) and I have to admit – it was nice to stay inside and let our little loft completely consume us. And in hunkering down, we discovered a love for homemade ice cream. Our ice cream machine is officially worth it’s weight in gold.

    I’ve been hesitant to use sucanat in my ice cream recipes, but only because I thought the molasses would be overpowering. Making chocolate ice cream this morning, and putting my sucanat to use! Cheers to the Summer of Ice Cream.

    1. Shannalee

      Definitely try it, Ashlae. We’ve been using Sucanat for ice cream all along, so I’m biased, but I still have to say I think it’s really lovely.

  11. Ashleigh

    Hi Shannalee-

    Or should I say -Hello from The Pit.- I loved reading this post, it spoke to me from the future, told me there’s life after wedding planning, and a pretty darn good one at that. (we registered for an ice cream maker *fingers crossed*)

    Just two weeks out from The Day, I’m already looking forward to all the things we’ll have time for when the Binder, the Seating Chart, and the Procrastinating Groomsman disappear. Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and words of wisdom. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

    1. Shannalee

      Ashleigh, Hello in there! The fact that you’re reading this post shows you’re handling the hibernation much better than I did, and congratulations on the upcoming wedding! There definitely is light at the end of the tunnel—and I’ll be crossing my fingers with you for that ice cream maker—hope you enjoy these last weeks before the wedding… almost as much as you’ll enjoy the ones after.

  12. mary

    Great look to these photos – very moody. Makes me want to lay in bed, eat ice cream, and read all day.

    1. Shannalee

      Thank you, Mary! I’ve been playing with darker backgrounds lately. And, between us, I feel like laying in bed with ice cream and a good book most days.

  13. Madison Mayberry

    What a beautiful reminder, Shanna, to be more present in the every day. On the way home from work, I drive through the most beautiful Iowa countryside. And although my drive is long (close to an hour) I really should be more thankful for the beauty that’s around me.

    Great looking ice cream, too!

    1. Shannalee

      I know exactly what you mean, Madison—it’s so easy not to notice (and PS, wow, an hour commute!). Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Richard Smith

    That ice cream looks truly amazing. I know what I’m having for lunch (yeah right)! Also, I find it funny you don’t remember flowers from the summer of wedding planning, aka “the pit.” Been there, and I totally empathize. Congrats on being able to notice & appreciate flowers yet again! :)

    1. Shannalee

      Ha, Richard, ironically, flowers were one of the few wedding details we didn’t deal with. My brothers-in-law picked up a bunch of bouquets from Trader Joe’s the day before the wedding for centerpieces, and a friend made my bouquet for me.

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