Monday, July 28, 2014

Fruity fun

Photo from Martha Stewart Living

Nothing says summer like a little backyard entertaining. And what better way to start a party right than with a yummy cocktail? We made these Blackberry-Plum Mojitos over the weekend and they were delicious! 

The Recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart Living):

1 1/4 cups sugar
juice from 3 lemons
2 lbs plums (pitted and cut)
1/2 pint fresh blackberries
1 cup fresh basil leaves
3 cups vodka
sparkling water

Bring sugar and water to a boil stirring consistently until sugar is dissolved (about 3 min). Let cool 15 minutes. 

Combine lemon juice, fruit, basil and syrup in a bowl. Refrigerate 1-4 days. (I was lucky to get in marinating for just under 24 hours)

Add vodka and sparkling water to fruit mixture in a pitcher. Serve over ice. Garnish with basil and mint.

I was just a little bit intimidated about making the simple syrup for some reason, but the whole thing was so easy peasy and it was such a fun cocktail to serve and drink. 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Schedule shmedule

I started the summer off very excited about lazy summer mornings not having to get out the door for the bus, pre-school, swimming lessons, etc. Then I started to worry. Did I really only sign my 6-year-old up for a total of 2 weeks of morning camp all summer long? And my almost 4-year-old for one week of 2 hours a day? Lazy days are great and all, but I began to worry that instead of the dreamy summer I imagined, my days would be filled with whining asking for "just one show" and proclamations of "I'm hungry, can I have a snack?" (minutes after finishing a meal). I figured we would be at the beach or field tripping it to a museum at least once or twice a week, but I wanted a fall back for the days that we were sticking closer to home. I created the one above and we followed it (mostly) the first full week of vacation. I started this blog post way back then (two weeks ago) and wanted to be able to share it and tell you how smoothly it went. But truthfully, it was a little bit over-scheduled and instead of having the calming effect I wanted it to have, it kind of stressed me out. 

The following week was a week of vacation in the woods of Upstate New York in a place where there are definitely no schedules. Days on end where the toughest decision was choosing between the pool, the lake, a trip for ice cream, or laying in a hammock (not as relaxing as you'd think with a one-year-old jumping on you). 

When we returned from vacation a week ago I decided that the schedule was probably not going to work out so well for us. We filled this past week instead with some great summer activities including a beach day, time with family, exploring nearby towns, a musical performance of The Little Mermaid at The North Shore Music Theatre, and more trips out for ice cream than I'd like to admit. 

For us, the trick seems to be to have something to get us out of the house by mid-morning, even just a trip down the street to the library. And then when we get home, the girls seem more content to make their own play. We usually need to get out again for a quick errand or bike ride in the afternoon if we don't already have something else planned. 

So in the end, even though my crazy organizational mind was craving a serious schedule, we seem to operate better with a much looser plan on how to fill each of our days. 

Now, if I could only find the time to fold the giant piles of laundry lurking in practically every corner of my house.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

There is something extra special about being an Ex-Pat on Independence Day that is hard to put into words.  So just by way of spreading some July 4th love, here are my top 10 favorite things about the 4th of July this year:

1)  My auto correct is screaming at me to change favorite to favourite and I'm ignoring it completely!

2)  Having an excuse to be a bit more obnoxious than normal.  For some reason, I feel today it is acceptable for me to be the stereotypical loud American (which most of my British friends would say I am anyway). 

3)  Knowing the Spiedies are marinating away - nothing says home like a Spiedie!

4)  All the lovely text messages I get from my British friends wishing me a Happy 4th of July.  I don't think I exchange messages with my American friends, so to my friends in Boston in particular, Happy 4th of July! 

5)  This hilarious Steven Merchant Newcastle Brown advertisement about if the Brits had won (warning - it's a bit rude).  

6)  My American Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes - enough said!
Thanks Pinterest!
7)  This quote "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.  -  Abraham Lincoln

8)  The forecast for tomorrow - 6 years in a row that its been sunny for Rebecca's family friends party.

9)  The fact I'm still riding high on the USA's performance in the World Cup.   This team's performance against Belgium on Tuesday exemplified spirit, work ethic, commitment, and pride.  As heartbroken as I was at their loss, it was a perfect example of what I hope to instil in my kids, and makes me so proud to be an American.  
10)  As it is every year, my favorite thing is that I had Rebecca today...

Wishing you all a Happy Independence Day!