Posts in "Sponsors"
Madison Reed Color Bar | San Francisco

This post is sponsored by Madison Reed.

Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian

For the longest time (I’m talking 10 years), I dyed my hair a slightly darker shade of brown, and then more recently I spent a few years (and way too much money) going lighter and exploring the whole ombre trend. With a toddler keeping me busy these days, I’m in a season of more low-maintenance hair care, having just chopped a good 6 inches of length and staying away from any color regimen that includes a full afternoon in a salon chair.

Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian

Because of that, I was really excited to get an invitation to try out Madison Reed Color Bar in San Francisco. Madison Reed focuses on high-quality ingredients and a high-end salon experience, but they get you in and out in much less time than other salons and also focus more on roots, gray coverage, and all-over color (so it may not be the right place if you’re looking for something more high maintenance).

Because it’s been a while since I got my hair colored, I decided to go with the color-reviving gloss in the shade Espresso, which is a really nice cool brown shade that’s just slightly darker than my natural color.

Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian
Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian
Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian

The colors and glosses are all pre-mixed and ready to go, which is so nice because you can buy them (and all of their products) on (use code MEGANCOLOR for free shipping). They sent me home with a tube of the Espresso gloss so I can do it myself at home in 6-8 weeks. The gloss is just $25 online! I think their prices are so reasonable for the wonderful servicethey provide, not to mention the gorgeous space!

Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian

There are also do-it-yourself hair drying stations in every salon that you can use for free, or you can add a blow out to any service for just $35—their products seriously felt so good and smelled amazing! I’m a sucker for a blow out so I truly felt like I was living my best life in there on a Saturday morning with my little head massage and double espresso.

Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian
Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian
Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian

If you live near one of their locations, you should totally try them out! And if you don’t, make sure to check out their website and shop around if you’re looking for a new shampoo or conditioner, styling product, or one of their many lovely glosses and permanent dyes. Use the code MEGANCOLOR for $20 off your first roots treatment in a salon or for free shipping on your next Madison Reed online purchase.

Madison Reed Color Bar | Freckled Italian

Thank you Madison Reed for having me! I can’t wait to try the at-home color and hopefully visit again soon.

Photos by Cue the Light for Freckled Italian.

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Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps with Crispy Onions and Garlic

Thank you Vanity Fair® Napkins for sponsoring this post. Take on everyday messes with Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian

I don’t know about you guys, but Rob and I very rarely eat at our dining room table. Now that Sophie eats three meals and some snacks, we’ll sit down at the table with her for breakfast and lunch, but since she goes to bed early, she eats dinner early, which means we usually do our own thing for dinner once she’s down.

I always thought when we moved out of our smaller apartments/townhouses and had more space for a table we might sit down for meals, but for the most part when it’s just us, we’re definitely couch diners (or stand-up-at-the-bar eaters). Every night I really look forward to enjoying a simple, but delicious, meal with Rob, catching up at the counter, or watching whatever show we happen to be binging at the time. So, I was excited for the opportunity to partner with Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins to share an easy weeknight recipe that can be enjoyed from whatever room you choose!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian


  • 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

  • ¼ of a red onion, sliced thinly

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 pound of ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (or more if you like it spicier)

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • Sesame seeds, for garnish

  • A handful of shredded carrots

  • Half of a cucumber, diced

  • 2-3 tablespoons of rice vinegar

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 6-8 large leaves of lettuce (Romaine, green leaf, or whatever you prefer)


  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add crushed red pepper and continue to cook until onions and garlic start to get crispy and browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove from pan and set aside.

  2. Add the beef to the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper and cook until beef is fully cooked and slightly crisp around the edges. Stir in soy sauce and garlic chili sauce. Remove from heat and add sesame oil. Stir once more to combine.

  3. In a separate bowl, toss carrots and cucumber in rice vinegar with a pinch of salt. Set aside until ready to serve.

  4. To assemble the lettuce wraps, arrange lettuce on serving plates and spoon beef onto leaves. Top with crispy onion and garlic, carrots, and cucumber. Garnish with sesame seeds and enjoy right away.

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps with Crispy Onions and Garlic | Freckled Italian

You could substitute ground turkey for the beef or use shrimp, chicken, or thinly sliced steak for this recipe if it sounds better--it can also be made vegetarian if you used cubed tofu or sautéed mushrooms instead of beef! I love soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili garlic sauce together and it works well with a variety of toppings, making this an easy recipe to mix up however you like.

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian

And back to this recipe’s sponsor--Vanity Fair® Extra Absorbent Napkins feel luxuriously heavy and can stand up to even a messy lettuce wrap on the couch! They also feel fancy enough for entertaining, which is great since one of my intentions for 2019 is to have friends over more often. Some of my favorite memories are not at the dining room table, but around a kitchen island or the coffee table--I love the thought of having friends gathered comfortably in the living room or around my kitchen peninsula  with their plates and drinks, enjoying an evening together. Thank you Vanity Fair® Napkins for helping make it happen!

Chili Beef Lettuce Wraps | Freckled Italian
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Summer Staples: Grilled Shrimp and Cold Rice Salads

This post is sponsored by La Crema. You can find the recipes I talk about below on their blog right here!

Herby Shrimp and Chilled Grain Salad | Freckled Italian
Summer Staples: Grilled Shrimp and Cold Rice Salads | Freckled Italian

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been the world's most amazing hostess--she could feed a crowd with one hand tied behind her back. I think back on Thanksgiving and Christmas with a lot of lovely memories, but the ones that stick out to me the most are in the summer--Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Labor Day, or really any weekend in Virginia when the sun is out, the grill is hot, and the wine is pouring.

She also always had La Crema Chardonnay chilling in a bucket on the counter--even before I started working with them it was a staple in our house and we served it every single time people came over. (Her love for the brand and its presence in our fridge at all times both encouraged me to approach them over four years ago at Alt Summit in Salt Lake City.)

My family loves to feed people and I'm so glad it's a tradition and a passion that Rob has embraced as well--I love the idea of one day cooking a ton of food for Sophie and her friends when they're home from college every summer. Nowadays we don't do as much entertaining as I'd like to, but when we do I always stick to a few basics that I learned from my mom: flavorful but easy-to-prepare dishes that you can make or at least start ahead of time, using the grill as much as possible to get everyone outside and cook a lot of things at once if you need to, and--of course--a few bottles of La Crema. 

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

When summer rolls around I love grilling seafood, especially shrimp. I buy the biggest ones I can find and leave the shells on so they don't fall through the grate, and I like to season them simply and then toss them in a ton of fresh herbs--I'm notorious for adding sliced green onion to everything in my kitchen, and grilled shrimp are no exception. Cilantro, dill, parsley, scallions--if it's fresh and green and you can chop it, you bet I'm going to be using it.

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

Grilled shrimp is my go-to, but my newest favorite summer thing is a cold salad with a nice grain compontent--rice, quinoa, farro, whatever you like. I cook it and cool it and add whatever greens and veggies I have in the fridge. The recipe I shared on the La Crema blog has tomatoes, kale, and arugula, but you could add spinach and cucumbers or swap any other ingredient for something you like better. Even if you aren't entertaining, it's a great dish to throw together on a Sunday evening and enjoy throughout the week.

You can find my recipes for herby grilled shrimp and a chilled salad with rice and quinoa today on the La Crema blog. I live for autumn and often wish away the end of summer, but there's nothing like a July or August cookout with friends and family.

Summer Staples | Freckled Italian

Photos by Cue the Light.

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