"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to It

It hasn't all gone exactly according to plan.  At least not to any plan I had concocted in this head of mine.  I had envisioned being moved into our new Island home by now, being immersed in painting, unpacking, decorating, and planning a fall garden.  I was certain we'd have the kids begin the school year at their new school.  Alas, none of this has come to pass.  We've missed two closing dates on the house, and are coming up on our third, which will undeniably result in yet another delay.  Painting, decorating, and garden-planning still exist only in my mind.  But...there is a bright side...

These kiddos just hopped on the bus this very morning, off to school.  Their old school, of course, as we're not yet moved.  This is a mixed blessing, because while they're happy to spend time in a familiar place, with familiar friends and teachers, for a bit longer, we will have to transfer them.  Soon, hopefully.  And, being a parent of the worried-mum variety, I fear it'll be much harder on them, than it would have been to start anew at the beginning of the school year.  They're flexible little people though, so I'm sure it'll all work out in the end.  If only we had any inkling of when that "end" was to be.

Happily, though, they are well ready to start school...and I'm not too proud to admit, I am well ready for them to get back to it.  And on that note, let's have a little celebratory toast, shall we?

Remember that blueberry vodka I began a couple weeks ago?

It went from this...

...to this...

Here's how I made it:

Blueberry Vodka

3 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed, stems and soft berries picked out
400 ml vodka

I used two old juice jars, and split the berries and vodka between them.  Leave to infuse in a cool, dark place, such as a cupboard, for 2 weeks, shaking daily.  The blueberries will gradually lose their color, and the vodka will turn a gorgeous magenta.  At the end of the two weeks, strain out the blueberries, and store the vodka in the fridge.

It tastes absolutely lovely.  If you're a martini sort of drinker, this would be divine shaken with ice, and served with a twist for garnish.  Or, if martinis aren't your bag, let's mix up a little blueberry lemonade...

Blueberry Lemonade

1 to 2 oz blueberry vodka, depending on how strong you like it (or need it)
lemonade, either freshly made, or I like Newman's Own, or Simply Lemonade, 6 (or so) oz

(Note - limeade is delicious here too!)

In a shaker full of ice, combine your vodka, and lemonade, and shake vigorously.  Pour into a glass, over ice, and enjoy.

Here's to Back to School!  And to making it through another busy summer.  Well done, my friends.  Well done.

Given that it's still morning though, we may want to wait just a wee while before cocktail hour...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

It's a mixed bag around here these days.  A veritable roller coaster of ups and downs.  I am attempting to ride with grace, but fear I may not be so successful in my goal.

The Good...nay, The Great:  I had the very immense honor of being doula to the beautiful goddess I call friend, last week. 

I do believe that the sheer joy with which this lovely boy has been welcomed into the world will get me through The Bad, and The Ugly.

He's absolutely perfect.

I feel a little guilty following that marvelous-ness with The Bad, but here we are.  We're mired in a bog of waiting, right now.  The house that we made an offer on two months ago, have spent countless hours dreaming about, and planning for, is an exercise in patience.  Unfortunately for me, patience is not a virtue I possess in abundance.  We did have fair warning that buying a bank-owned property is at best, a frustrating endeavor; at worst, a soul-destroying act of futility.  Perhaps I am a little heavy on the drama, but it is proving tricky to keep up good spirits while waiting on faceless (useless) bankers to get the freaking job done.  At the end of the day, I know we'll be grateful for having stuck it out, for this place is well worth it (I keep telling myself).  In the meantime, I'll continue impotently shaking my fist and cursing at those incompetents who seem to hold our lives in their greedy, dawdling hands.

And I'll take another gander at that wee boy up there.  Ah.  That's better.

The Ugly:  While our home-buying limps painfully along, I too limp my way through the day, rocking one of these beasts:

My innate clumsiness is a bit of an ongoing joke with those who know me.  In my defense, I had a good run - a couple of years! - with no major injuries.  One little stumble off a deck, and there we have it.  Damned inconvenient.  Lucky for me the 90+ degree days have spent themselves.  Always a silver lining, isn't there?

Let's hit The Good again, shall we?  Recall those blueberries we hoarded a wee while ago?  

They have turned into some delicious treats.  One of them being this blueberry jam:

The recipe is from, once again, Food in Jars.  And once again, it absolutely rocks.  Bright, a tiny bit tart, with a hint of cinnamon...it is something else, I tell you.  And scrumptious spread on bread with a little bit of sharp cheddar.  Stop by Food in Jars, and make some, recipe here.

Last, and with impeccable timing, I've got this to look forward to:

That there is my blueberry vodka.  It's been infusing for about a week and a half.  It's meant to hang out for about 2 weeks, but I'm thinking, with this crazy roller coaster ride, I may just have to sample some.  ASAP.  Don't you think?

I'll let you know how it goes.  And I'll share the recipe soon.

May your day be filled with nothing but Good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beat the Heat

This foraging business is some fun, I tell you.  The kiddos and I hit up the nearby blackberry bushes, and scored a number of tasty treats.  Along with a number of scratches from thorns.  But it's well worth it.

I had plans to make a black and blue crumble, but it was far too hot to turn on the oven.  And so, after freezing a load of berries to save for the days ahead, I turned to David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, and got to work on a blackberry sorbet with my remaining fresh berries.  Oh my, yes.

This couldn't be simpler, as far as making your own ice cream goes.  No egg yolks to temper for a custard, no messing about infusing flavor into cream.  Just a quick whiz in the blender, a while spent chilling, and a turn in your ice cream maker.

Here you go:

Blackberry Sorbet - adapted from The Perfect Scoop
- makes one quart

4 cups blackberries
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pureé the berries in a blender with the water and sugar.  Press the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds, stir in the lemon juice, then chill thoroughly.  I popped mine in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Freeze the chilled mixture in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's directions.  It will be somewhat soft, and quite lovely, served immediately, or you can pop it in the freezer for an hour or two if you'd like it more frozen.

Absolutely gorgeous, and the best way to beat the heat.

Have a beautiful day.

Monday, August 13, 2012


For the first time, since we've been back in the States (7 years!), I've actually made it to the blueberry farm.  Every year, I've had the best of intentions, and every year, I've missed those blues.  Not this year, my friends.  On Friday, M and the Kiddos and I picked our hearts out.

This picking business is addictive, I tell you.  Long past the point where the Kiddos gave up, and sat on the grass, nibbling their haul and playing with ladybugs, M and I picked.  And picked.  And then picked a bit more.  It was nearly impossible to stop.  Each new cache of plump, juicy berries discovered urged us to keep on picking.  With the sun gently warming the berries, the mountains standing sentinel in the background, we managed quite a load.

Forty pounds between us, to be exact.  That's a lot of blueberries.

So now, we've got blueberry jam in the cupboard, blues in the freezer, a blueberry chocolate pavlova birthday cake, blueberry vodka on the go:

...and a blueberry crumble, a la local kitchen, which was devoured.

Should you be in possession of some gorgeous, ripe blues, you'd really best get on over to local kitchen for the recipe.  It's incredibly simple to prepare, foolproof really, and get this:  I am not a baked fruit girl...and I loved it.  This new-found respect for baked fruit could have something to do with the fact that we picked it ourselves.  Or it could just be an outstanding recipe.  Either way, it begs to be made and enjoyed.

And today?  Guess what the Kiddos and I are picking...

Blackberries.  And the best bit...they're free, and a short bike ride away.

I'm sensing a black and blue crumble for dessert tonight, using the above recipe as guide.

Enjoy the sunshine today!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

In the Blink of an Eye

Already a week into August...how is this possible?  Summer is flying by this year, and I'm sure that it is doing so at a faster rate than ever before.  (Is this what it means to get older?  Yikes.)  I do believe I've been in a bit of denial about this passage of time, this season, convincing myself that it's not moving nearly as quickly as it appears to be.  That we still have ages before school starts...that the house still could close on time...that it's entirely possible that we could be moved in before school starts...that it hasn't been over a week since my last post...Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, I've been reveling in the heat and sunshine with the Kiddos.  What else can be done?  I certainly have no control over banks and their ridiculously slow speed (time again, see?) with real estate transactions.  School will open in a few weeks, ready or not.  Father Time trudges on, despite my feelings on the matter.  (True, it is possible that I have some control over when I sit down to write.)  So, in a One-Woman Stand against that which I have no control, I've been living in blissful ignorance (mostly, except for those moments of panic when reality sets in), and soaking up Summer, because look, people:   It will be gone in the blink of an eye.

The past week has seen us enjoying pretty much every sort of water source available, from the Puget Sound, to mountain and foothill lakes, and on out to the Coast.  And today we're hitting the pool.  Not a bad way of keeping it cool.

With all the adventuring going on, as well as the heat, things have been kept pretty simple in the kitchen.  Salads abound, and homemade ice cream for dessert bribes those who ask:  "Salad again?"  I spotted a beautiful salad recently on davidlebovitz.com, and I highly recommend it.

Inspired by his travels to Israel, this Israeli Salad (recipe here, on his blog) is a complete stunner.  Vibrant, crisp, and filling, it's perfect for throwing together on a hot evening.  The only changes I made (for what need is there to change a Lebovitz recipe?) were purely out of necessity:  I substituted golden beets for the red, because that's what I had.  I omitted the pine nuts, and used sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and walnuts, because I tend to panic and run away from them in the store, when I see the price.  And instead of the red onion, which I lacked, I used a few scallions. 

And it was divine.

To Summer!  And to being fully present for all it has to offer, before it moves on.