A Taste of Summer: BBQ Nectarines

To me, one of the best parts of the summer has to the fruit. I have an ancient nectarine tree in my yard that produces the most amazing fruit in sums that would put rabbits to shame. It also means that I have an awful lot of it and am constantly looking for new ways to prepare them. And the newest one has got to be the best—BBQ Nectarines.

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BBQ Nectarines with Honey, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

-Nectarines (plan on one whole nectarine per person)

-Spray oil  (such as Pam)

-Honey

-Cinnamon

-Vanilla ice cream

ingredients

Directions:

1. Heat your BBQ to a medium flame. Hotter and you risk scorching the flesh.

2. While heating your BBQ, wash and halve your nectarines, removing the pits. Spray them lightly with your oil as it will help keep the nectarines from sticking.

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3. Place nectarines cut-side down, leaving them for 5-7 minutes. This allows you to get the roasting marks on the flesh, caramelize some of the natural sugars, and heat the fruit without scorching it.

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4. Remove fruit from heat and plate. Add a scoop or two of ice cream directly on top, then add a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve immediately…because if you don’t, your ice cream will melt very quickly.

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Delicious and beautiful, it’s the perfect dessert for a summer celebration.

Enjoy!

-Roxanne

 

Sneak Peek: Ballerina Birthday Party

My biggest bean has requested a ballerina themed birthday party this year, and since little miss is turning the big six, and ballet is the center of her world right now, I am more than happy to oblige. The big day is next weekend, and I’ve been busy sewing and painting and gluing and well, generally getting a little out of control with everything. I thought I’d give you a little sneak peek at what’s to come.

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Next week I’ll post the full party. In the mean time, hope your week is far calmer than mine will be.

-Roxanne

 

Summer Sangria Spritzer

This deep into summer and the nights are nearly as hot as the days. In search of relief, and without a pool in the backyard, I turn to the closest thing; alcohol. Alright, alright, perhaps the two are not the same, but they do go well together, just like the ingredients in this super yum, super easy drink I made up tonight, the Summer Sangria Spritzer!

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One of the best parts of this Sangria is that you don’t have to let it sit overnight. The juice that’s used imparts the sugar necessary that usually comes from the fruit.

Ingredients:

-1/4 cup red wine (I used Costco cabernet sauvignon. If you haven’t tried it you’re missing out. Such an easy and affordable wine)

-1/2 cup Blood Orange Italian Soda

-1/2 cup ripe nectarine, cubed

Add all ingredients together and give a gentle stir. The soda makes it effervescent, it’s light and refreshing, and the best part, its beyond easy. Enjoy!

-Roxanne

 

 

Pie and the 4th of July

We celebrated the birth of our great nation like every other patriotic American does; by overdosing on food and blowing stuff up. The morning was spent walking in our neighborhood parade, and by the time it was finished around 10 am, the thermometer was already at 103 degrees. We hightailed it back into the safety of air conditioning until later in the day when we joined some wonderful friends for a BBQ, some pie, and the amazing pyrotechnics done by the men lighting fireworks off in the streets (which are legal in our neck of the woods). And although the glitter of 1000 degree fireworks is quite a show, I’d contend that my cherry, strawberry, and blueberry pie was the show stopper. Image

In full disclosure, I didn’t actual come up with the recipe, BUT I did do the baking. I also didn’t come up with the design, that business is all over Pinterest already, but let me tell you, I deserve all the flippin’ kudos ‘cuz this bad boy was work. Cherry pitting is the pits, and that pie crust (which is amazing, btw) was a temperamental sucka, but in the end it was so worth it.

The recipe is from Epicurious and so worth all the work. It’s for a lattice crust cherry pie but I used blueberries and strawberries and modified the look of the crust and it was perfect. And the crust will be my new go to. Enjoy!

Goodbye Vacation

Today we make the long trek from Southern California back home to Northern California. It’s actually not that painful at just over six hours, but my two kids are trying to make me think differently. That, and I’m coming home to the Apocalypse. And by Apocalypse, I mean temperatures of 106 for the next four days. So basically, I’m leaving this…

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At a balmy 83 degrees to this…

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The good news is the heat should keep me indoors long enough to give you a thorough review of the trip. The bad news? I may melt before I write it.

-Roxanne

The Speed of Summer

The Speed of Summer

In my everyday life, I’m a high school teacher. And as much as I love my students, I might love my summer vacation just a little bit more almost as much. I long for the slower pace of summer—the lazy pj mornings, the spontaneity in spur-of-the-moment day trips, the long-forgotten bedtime routines. It’s a time where I’m a more relaxed parent, which works well, as it’s also the time my children decide to run wild.

As many stay-at-home parents know, being home with your children all day long can be taxing at best, and drive you to drink at worst. So, first, cheers. Drink up. You’ve earned it.

via Martha Stewart

via Martha Stewart

Now, grab an envelope (or the back of a coloring book works fine too), and compile a list for you. A list of things you want to do for yourself this summer. Look, no one is going to do it for you, and before you know it, summer will be long gone and you’ll be regretting not giving yourself more room to breathe, to stretch your own wings. You’ll regret living at the speed of your children’s summer, and not your own.

And just to demonstrate that I try to practice what I preach, here’s my very own Speed of Summer List:

The Speed of Summer 2013

  1. Lie out in the sun and soak up the vitamin DImage
  2. Buy/cut yourself flowers weekly.Image
  3. Eat a basketful of berries by yourself. Don’t share. Not one.Image
  4. And a pint of ice cream. Pick your favorite flavor and hide it at the back of the freezer so no one steals it out from under your deserving spoon.Image
  5. Swim in the ocean, or a lake, or a creek, or whatever body of water you got that’s outside. *bonus points if you do it a la natural. Shhhh…I won’t tell.*Image
  6. Go on a date to the drive-ins without kids. Who cares what the movie is? You’ve got a car and no kids and a solid two hours without interruption.Image
  7. Wear a daring shade on your toes. No time like the present to wear “It’s Raining Men”.Image
  8. Read a book. The.Entire.Book. It doesn’t have to be great literature. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be good literature. Just make sure you enjoy it. And that you finish it. Seriously, finish it.Image
  9. Eat what you want all day long. Not what you should, and not what your kids want, but what you want. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. And dessert. And ignore those guilt-laden calories—it’s only one day.

  10. Let the sun wake you up as often as possible. Too often our final sweet moments of slumber are lost to the incessant whine of the alarm…or the kids…or the dog… If you can, lie there until the sun warms your face and you remember your long forgotten friend.

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Make your list now, before another moment goes by and it’s swallowed up in everything you need to do for someone else. Look it over, write down all the things that whisper to your heart. There is where you will find your own speed of summer.

-Roxanne

See’s Mint Patty Knockoffs

My husband is a big—BIG—chocolate fan. We’re talking a fan of “last meal” proportions. And his favorite chocolate treat is See’s Peppermint Patties. Now, if you’re not from California, you may be unfamiliar with See’s. And I’d like to just say sorry, because you’re missing out. But, if you can’t come visit me any time soon, you can make these instead!

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Epic Dark Chocolate Patty Recipe
-6 cups powdered sugar
-One can condensed milk
-1 tablespoon peppermint extract
-1 bag Guittard’s (or another high end/high milk fat) semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions
In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix milk, peppermint and a cup of sugar, adding a cup at a time to incorporate it all. The texture your looking for is like soft sugar cookie dough.
Put the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up the mint filling. Remove and using a table spoon or melon baller, scoop out approximately one table spoon of dough, roll into a ball, and flatten slightly in your palm. Keep it up until you’ve exhausted yourself and your filling supply. Place patties into the freezer for 30 minutes.
While the patties chill, melt the chocolate. I prefer melting my chips in my ghetto double boiler. It’s a Pyrex bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. It lets my control the temperature of the chocolate so that it’s doesn’t get too hot and start to grain. This will take you about as long as your patties need to freeze.
Once your chips are melted and your patties are cold, work quickly, dipping them in your beautiful melted chocolate one at a time. I use a fork for flipping.
Now that your patties are thoroughly coated in chocolate, let them cool and then devour them in one sitting. Just kidding…maybe. Makes 48.

Mary Poppins Birthday Party

My beautiful daughter turned three this last week. About two month prior to the big event,we were having our Friday family movie nights, and on this particular evening, we were watching Mary Poppins. My daughter is at that tender age where a gentle breeze will sway what theme of birthday party she wants, and so I seized on the opportunity to suggest Mary Poppins. And with constant reminders that she is *so excited* about having it, I took her lack of disagreement and ran.

Now I want to put out the disclaimer up front that I can be a little over the top with birthday parties. I claim it’s a hold over from my childhood in which birthday parties usually consisted of either a maniacal rat with pizza or a few friends spending the night. But the fact is, I just enjoy throwing the darn things. That being said, my new years resolution this year was to go “Roxanne 9.5″, meaning I would dial it down a notch on things like parties, handmade gifts, etc. Because, well, because I sometimes start to look like said maniacal rat after taking one too many things on.

So of course that means I need to hand make the invitations! (Hangs head in shame). Actually, I’ll be honest. If Loralee Lewis made a carpet bag invite, I would have snapped those puppies up instantly. Just go take a look at her work and TRY not to throw a party based off her paper goods! But while her Mary Poppins themed invite is gorgeous, I wanted something more “spoon full of sugar” than “jolly holiday”.

So I created an invite modeled after Mary’s tape measure, with a carpet bag holder to set the theme. And while it’s not LoraLee Lewis (’cause who could wear those shoes?), it turned out darling all the same.

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Next came the decor. I scavenged the house, looking for anything and everything that even hinted at being British. Flag? Check. Tea pot? Check check. Mismatched sterling silver spoons? Hell ya…I mean, check.

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Speaking of the spoons, I used them as the “stick” to my cake pops. They were perfect for a “spoon full of sugar” moment.

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I also wanted to have a kite moment, so I made kite cupcake toppers with kabob skewers and a little bit of scrapbook paper. Easy!

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The carpet bag was also another fun touch to add to the set up. I threw in a tea pot, medicine bottle, spoon, and lamp, just for good measure.

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And it can’t be practically perfect until it’s properly measured.

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The *other* lady of the hour would have it no other way.

sillohetteThanking our friends was simple. A little Target dollar bin find of prewrapped chalk meant all I needed to add was a thank you tag. Sweet!

favorsIt really was a fun, mellow, cheerful party. My littlest bean had a fabulous time with a handful of friends from daycare and an overload of suger-filled spoons. I can’t believe my tiny baby is three! How the time flies…

Isla3just like kites…

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Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift

Honestly, for all the creative ideas I pin on pinterest, one might think I was brimming with one project after another, but in all reality, I waited until the very last minute (read—must be put in the mail the next day or else it wasn’t getting there on time) to make my mother’s day gifts. I knew I wanted to make something that involved my girls, but it had to be something that I could put together rather quickly.

What I came up with was a small art collage consisting of my daughter’s hand prints and a little home spun painting done by my littlest bean. A little glitter, glue, and rhinstones, and voila! I present HANDS IN SPACE! Or you can just call it last-minute-easy-gift. Your choice;)

I started by choosing three craft paint colors for my base. We did an aqua blue, lavender, and purple. I put my little bean to work, letting her go to town on the two small canvases. They were 5″x5″ and needed little paint, which meant it also dried quicker. And for this project, that was a win.

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As they dried, I shook a little iridescent glitter on the paint. While that set, I chose three complimentary colored scrapbook papers for my hand prints. This couldn’t be easier–choose your papers, trace your little kiddo’s hands, and cut them out. By this point, my bigger bean had come home from school, and so she got in on the crafty action. We glued the hand prints, first big beans, then the little’s, with simple Elmer’s Glue.

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I then ripped a small rectangle (very precise work here…fold…tear…repeat) and wrote “We Love You” in silver Sharpie. Feel free to insert any sentiment you’d like. Another note; silver Sharpie *sounds* pretty, but in reality was difficult to read. I wrote over it in purple marker.

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With everything glued in place, I took my *very expensive and high-tech weight* (stack of magazines) and let the project sit for a solid hour to dry.

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After they dried, I was feeling a little left out of the mix and so I dry brushed some of the same paint from earlier over the hand prints. I like the layered look it gave the pictures. Dry brushing is a super easy technique. Literally, you take a dry brush, get a little paint on the end, and tap/rub the paint off on a paper towel until there’s barely any left and THAT’S when you then paint your picture. You just want a hint of paint.

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And we’re in the home stretch! Mind you, at this point all we’ve done is let our kids do a little painting, cut some hand prints,glued them down, and brushed a smidge of paint on yourself,  but the next step makes it look like you’ve got a PhD in craftology…or got a bedazzler;) I took a few rhinestones I had laying around the house (yep, they’re everywhere. Very Liberace-esque), and glued those suckers down as well, again, using my trusty old Elmer’s Glue. There’s no rhyme or reason for the placement. Feel free to glue them wherever your heart takes you.

embellishments

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This last step is your call, and it will make the drying time longer (it takes about an hour to dry completely), but I wanted my project to be a little hardy since it was going in the mail in order to get to grandma’s house. I hit my project with a thin coat of clear acrylic spray. It harden all the pieces, and keeps them on there. I like Krylon’s UV-Resistant Clear since it doesn’t yellow.

ImageShake a little extra glitter on top while it dries and there you have it—a keep sake that you can make today and none’s the wiser. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there. Whether you’re new to the neighborhood or a veteran of the trade, mothering couldn’t be a more important job. Hats off to all of you our there!

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-Roxanne

Derby Time

Derby Time

Not a mint julep, but roses from my garden and a good bottle of sirah should do to thank my lovely party hostess. Let the big hats commence!

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