Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tiptoeing Into Summer

My new outdoor living room, and favorite place to be in the evenings

I'm peeking at the weather for the rest of the United States, wondering what it's like for my friends enjoying a beautiful sunny 75 degree day in San Diego, for my friends in Dallas where it's hitting 95, and sympathizing with my friends in Boston who have a cloudy day also. This year, Seattle has had an unusual pattern to our summer weather. It was in the 90s for a few days in May (totally shocking to us), then raining as normal through much of June. Here I am in July, turning on my furnace at night, and unable to use my beautiful outdoor living spaces much of the time due to rain!

I'll try to look at my blessings - free water for my grass and garden, cool temperatures and no mugginess, very few mosquitoes for the most part.. Still, I am discouraged. I managed to have a couple outdoor dinner parties so far but had hoped to have more. I really hope we get a real summer this year - evenings warm enough to sit out watching the stars, dining on my patio at midnight, hot days to brighten my tomatoes, etc.

Is your summer progressing as hoped? Let me know in the comments below!

I've been obsessed with mint juleps lately!

QUICK THINGS TO DO TODAY:

  • Does your porch, patio or deck need sweeping off? Mine's a bit rainy so I can skip this chore this weekend!
  • Are you and your family members going to work, day care, camp or activities tomorrow in clean clothes? Returning home at night to clean sheets? Time to do some Sunday evening laundry!
  • Clean one shelf, one drawer or two door shelves in both your fridge and freezer. It should take less than ten minutes to remove everything from the shelf, wipe the shelf down, inspect the food for expiration dates or mold etc., dry the shelf and return the food in an organized manner. Doing this every weekend means your whole fridge gets cleaned out every month!
  • Do you have a second refrigerator, like I do in my garage, for beverages and extra popsicles and ice cream? Don't forget to sort and clean a shelf or drawer in that one too!
  • Make your menu plan for the weeknights ahead; create your grocery list.
  • Try to carve some downtime for yourself - just yourself - tonight if possible. Extra time for journaling, sketching, reading a book or magazine uninterrupted for twenty minutes if possible? A long hot bath instead of a quick shower perhaps?
  • Glance at your calendar for the week ahead. What doctor, dentist, salon, vet, or other appointments do you and family members have this week? Any upcoming birthdays you need to remind to call, or send cards, gifts or flowers for?

How to enjoy a Friday night alone on a nearly-summer evening!

LOVELY PROJECT FOR TODAY:

My outdoor office, where I work in the evenings when it's not too sunny to see my laptop!

Today I am cleaning and organizing my indoor and outdoor bars! This might be a fun project! I want to take inventory to make sure I have the right beverages for my upcoming parties, for weekend entertaining, to treat my dogsitters while they're here for a week or two, and to delight houseguests who might drop by this summer.

I'm going to give up on a bottle of Sambuca we got for an Arabian Nights party two summers ago. Four or five people took a shot out of it, enjoyed it, but it hasn't been touched since. I think if we haven't had any of this strong licorice tasting beverage in two years, nobody is likely to, and it shouldn't be taking up room in my bar cabinet. I'll pour it down the sink and recycle the bottle, since I don't have any friends who want this type of liquor either. I'm already noticing I'm low on tonic in my mixers cupboard, and almost out of cherries for my Manhattans! Adding to my shopping list!

This project should take less than 20 minutes, including dusting my bar indoors and wiping down the outdoor one. This gives me a nice quick useful project before I go to my friend's house to watch a movie later tonight.

What project might you tackle today?

Here's a peek at my herb and veggie garden on my deck

LOVELY BLOGS: The Cookie Rookie

Becky's blog specializes in sharing the easy, delicious recipes she's learning to cook. Also, once a week or so, her friend Maryanne stops by from her The Little Epicurean blog to share a lovely link roundup of recipes she's found in the blogosphere. Today's, for example, is 17 Campfire Recipes.

Check out Becky's recent recipes for Chicken Enchilada Skillet Pie, Skinny One Pan Caribbean Jerk Chicken, and a Stuffed Caprese Chicken Sandwich. I enjoy her photography as well!

http://www.thecookierookie.com/

LOVELY BOOKS: Puddings and Dainty Desserts

Here's a charming vintage 1886 cookbook you can look through at The Internet Archive. There aren't any illustrations inside, sadly, but the book is full of intriguing old recipes such as Orange Sponge, Blackberry Short-Cake, Velvet Cream, and Banana Charlotte.

Chapters include Miscellaneous Dainty Desserts; Various Fruit Desserts; Custards and Omelettes as Desserts; Puddings; and Pies.

Let me know in the comments if you try out one of these old recipes!

Puddings and Dainty Desserts, at The Internet Archive

LOVELY COSMETICS: Too-Faced's Le Grand Chateau

I'm sorry to throw such a delightful yet expensive temptation in front of you! I can't possibly splurge on this for myself, but I'm thinking this attractively packaged set of makeup palettes might be a fantastic over-the-top gift for a good friend's birthday or Christmas present. I'm swooning at the package design!

Le Grand Chateau, at Amazon.com

LOVELY DISHES: Sur la Table's Hydrangea Collection

I can't decide if I love these hydrangea dishes (I have blue hydrangeas like this planted all over my back yard!) or if they are too "old lady" for me at this stage in my life. They're currently on sale for 50% off. Definitely colorful and summery, but perhaps too busy a pattern for many people? Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Hydrangea Collection, at Sur la Table

LOVELY LINKS FOR TODAY:

Baked Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Shells (Naturally Nutritious)

Corn Fritters (Alexandra's Kitchen)

Couscous Salad with Pesto, Goat Cheese and Veggies (The Kittchen)

Gluten Free Ricotta Heirloom Tomato Tart (Bakerita)

Grilled Berry Pizza with Whipped Ricotta (Baking a Moment)

Grilled Corn Couscous Salad Recipe (Party Bluprints Blog)

Grilled Corn Salad Recipe (Le Creme de la Crumb)

Italian Squash Blossom Fritters (The Taste SF)

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Almonds (Honest Cooking)

Pimento Cheese Rice (Spicy Southern Kitchen)

Ricotta and Goat Cheese Tomato Tart (Italian Food Forever)

Zucchini Fritters (Framed Cooks)


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