Posts tagged: summer
June 26, 2012

Summer Reading List

What’s on your summer reading list?

Inspired by Julie of Fresh Basil.

September 13, 2011

There’s magic there, if we make it

My, does it feel good to be home. But it always feels a little awkward coming back: walking through your own front door to a strangely quiet house, reappearing at work, resurfacing on your own blog. (Hi! I missed you!) I was away longer than expected. Hurricane Irene wreaked airport havoc just as we should have been boarding our flight home, and we couldn’t get home for another week. That was certainly an exercise in letting go.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We went to Washington to attend a wedding, the kind that takes place in a 1930s summer, where you’re greeted with an ice cream social and the groom processes to the alter with his ecstatic trombone leading a ragtag marching band. We arrived a week early to drive up to the San Juan Islands and settle ourselves into a cottage on a bay. You know how whipped into a fever life can get right before a vacation? You’re aching for a break, but there are nine thousand details to attend to before you can even head to the airport.

As soon as we walked into this tiny little cottage and I sat down, looked out past the birds in the front yard and onto the water, those tight-fisted stress knots in my shoulders and brain loosened and dissolved. Salt air can do that. I read in the mornings and did yoga on the front deck. I hiked steep mountain paths through the woods, and bought dungeness crabs, clams, and oysters from the seafood operation down the road. They kept a very gorgeous red rooster strutting around the front yard and a bouquet of dahlias on the counter. In the evenings, the hot tub, a glass of wine, and my very juicy Ava Gardner biography awaited. We cooked on the grill and ate outside, and I fell asleep in the sunshine. Even a rainy day felt right. We sat by the fire and ate chocolate chip cookies with our books on our laps, a ukulele and a guitar at our feet.

All that relaxing set the stage to ride the ferry back to the mainland and point our car toward the wedding. We sat in an arc of chairs in front of the water on a day bright with sunshine and expectation. We listened as two dear friends and very kind, special people shared the most honest, thoughtful vows I’ve ever heard. Wedding ceremonies so often get caught up in promises hard to visualize. What does what you’re saying look like in real life, like, on a crappy Tuesday when it’s raining and you don’t have any clean socks? These vows were as much about love and support as living a life that meant something together––starting now. They spoke about the everyday and their promise to show up each morning––to make it fun, to work hard, to keep being curious, to be creative, to cook. I wanted to say, I do, too. Instead, I cried behind my sunglasses and squeezed Sebastian’s hands, and thought of all the ways I wanted to keep showing up in my own life. I realized with a bitter pang, one of those knots reappearing in my throat, just how absent I had been.

The wonderful thing about weddings is how often they encourage everyone present to make their own commitments. When a couple is brave enough to take a giant leap together into the unknown, and you are witness to their nervous smiles, their cracking voices––it always makes me want to love better. But this wedding made me want to live better. I came to vacation worn-down, exhausted, barely myself. My friends stood in front of their family and friends looking so excited. They reminded me of the adventure of life, especially in its most quiet, quotidian moments. There’s magic there, if we make it. On that incredible day, we all ate and laughed and danced to Michael Jackson into the night. But I knew part of them couldn’t wait to get back to their kitchen table, the desks, their garden out front. I couldn’t either.

July 29, 2011

Happy Hour at Home: Simplest Gin and St. Germain Cocktail

The first time I had St. Germain was on a renegade vacation. We were due to stay in our vintage-y Napa motor lodge another night, but at the last moment we decided to check out. We threw our bags in the car, and drove on a steep, winding rode through dense wooks to Glen Ellen. There, we ate a greasy spoon breakfast, a prelude to the main event: I spied M.F.K. Fisher’s Last House from across a two-lane highway and at the little memorial to her in town, had my picture snapped next to a portrait of her at a typewriter. My ultimate fan girl moment.

Then we drove on to Sonoma, where the midday sun was beating down hot in the town square. Down a side street, I fell in love with a charming, busting airy restaurant, sat at the bar and ordered a drink. It contained St. Germain, a delicate elderflower liqueur, poured from the most glamorously tall, art deco bottle. There was also some gin, a cucumber spear, and maybe a splash of Lillet or champagne, though the specifics are hazy now. I just remember being so happy there, surrounded by dapper, quick-footed waiters, air-conditioning, the spirit of adventure that came from casting our plans to the wind, and, oh, the smell of cheese.

This is my bare bones attempt to recreate what I think is one of the most cool, crisp, refreshing and ladylike of summer cocktails. Drink this in your garden, when the gals come over to knock croquet balls in their spectator heels and talk about the rakish men they adore. I didn’t really drink this garnished with edible flowers as illustrated in the picture, though wouldn’t that be grand?

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July 21, 2011

How to Stay Cool in a Heat Wave

We’re on day five of super hot summer days here in New York, and we have yet to see the worst of it. I’m so scared about the crazy heat wave coming this weekend, you’d think it was the apocalypse. To mitigate my fear of what’s coming, I’m keeping a pretty glass carafe of water in the fridge (fancy!), my Wednesday night swimming lessons couldn’t have had better timing, and there may be a trip to Rockaway Beach in the weekend cards. Still, I’m a wimp. So while I hope this list might offer you a gem or two, it is mostly to keep me from freaking out. How have you been cooling off this summer?

  1. Daytime trips to the movies: If you haven’t seen Bridesmaids yet, take the next blisteringly hot afternoon as a sign from Melissa McCarthy that you could be laughing really, really hard in powerful air-conditioning. Plus: fountain soda!
  2. A picnic at the beach: Sand in your sandwich! Greasy sunscreen! Summer reading! And then, a dip in the water. Heaven.
  3. Slurpees from 7-11: Pull the lever on a Slurpee machine (put your cup’s top on first for the neatest execution) are you’re nine again.
  4. Icy cocktails: Also, if you can find it, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. So delicious.
  5. Homemade lemonade: Here are 21 different recipes to suit your fancy. But I’m loyal to this one.
  6. Find an open fire hydrant: And if you’re really enterprising (and brave) fill up an empty trash can and dunk yourself in it like I saw a kid doing the other day on a street corner. My heart kind of went out to him (I mean, it was a trash can), but I admired his spunk.
  7. A dip in the pool: Why are people so against public pools? Us city folk have no other option, and really, what’s so scary? Besides, I like to think I look very fetching in my required swim cap and goggles. (Oh, if this were true.)
  8. A bowl of ice water in front of a fan: I always think of that episode of SATC where Carrie’s perched in a chair, drinking iced tea and reading a magazine in front of a fan when Aleksandr Petrovsky calls for the first time.
  9. Close the curtains and turn on the TV: There’s something decadently subversive about staying inside on hot, sunny days. Have a marathon (may I suggest Party Down?) or watch cold, wintery movies (Think Dr. Zhivago).
  10. Cucumber ice water: Cooling, and you feel like you’re at a spa. Double whammy.
  11. Kiddie pools: Got a backyard? Then you really need to set up a kiddie pool. And then you need to invite over your friends who don’t have backyards.
  12. Cool baths: When no one invites me to their kiddie pool and the Y feels too far away, I like to just run a cool bath. A little too desperate and depression-era? Not when you bring a delicious beverage and a stack of magazines in with you.
  13. Root beer floats: Or a straight up beer float.
  14. Refrigerate your face products: Masks, sprays, toner, eye cream––it all feels better cold.
  15. Cold Watermelon: Quintessential.
  16. Ice cream: Practically medicinal.
  17. Homemade frozen yogurt: A friend of mine insists it’s easier than you think (and suggests adding a little vodka to keep it from getting an icy consistency. Kinda genius.)
Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead