Apples season is here…toast to Johnny Appleseed

It’s apple season…time to decorate for Halloween and sip on cozy apple cocktails. Johnny Appleseed’s birthday is this week! Toast to Johnny with this cozy Apple Autumn Spritz and German Apple Pancake.

I had about ten apples just waiting for me Saturday morning so I used my juicer and was inspired to enjoy apples all day long.

This bubbly apple and Aperol blend will make you want to roast marshmallows and enjoy the fall night air.

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In Good Taste: John Mark Gleadow

Inside a charming little art gallery in Rosemary Beach, Florida you might find yourself standing in front of a Marc Chagall painting…wearing a bikini, flip flops and smelling of sunscreen. Curate30A art gallery is special because it gives the viewer a casual environment…with that beach hair don’t care atmosphere. 

The walls in our Texas home host a collection of art that can best be described as eclectic and remind us of our past travels. The moment that I saw John Mark Gleadow’s painting In Good Taste at Curate30A, I could not stop smiling. It’s not the kind of art that will express a past vacation…it expresses my past cooking. There’s so much about it that’s personal to me. The same books that I’ve loved for years, titles that speak to me and especially seeing Julia, the queen of cuisine! Julia Child said, “I see every recipe as a little short story.” That’s what Gleadow’s art is to the viewer…short stories that provoke powerful memories. 

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Jell-O Girls

A few weeks ago, I was watching my children endure life in the sweetest season…summer. They would swim, I would read. They would sleep in, I would read. They would stay up late, I would read. Then my favorite…they would read and so would I! Reading curled up in a beach towel and lost inside a story with one foot in the pool. On a recent summer Sunday, my children persuaded me to walk out of Barnes and Noble again with a heavy shopping bag and a lighter bank account. I was so excited about my new book, Jell-O Girls.

I used to think that when someone new moved in to the neighborhood, had a baby or was sick that the kindest thing to bring them was a Jell-O mold. I can only guess that this came somewhere from an American upbringing. Jell-O is a part of our culture. That Jell-O jingle rang in my head as I picked up Jell-O Girls…but don’t think that this story is upbeat! No, the Jell-O family history has a dark side. “Teaching women, it turns out, was a tenet of Jell-O’s marketing…Jell-O, so pliable, so good, teaching them how to mold themselves to match it, pliable and good.” 

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Book Fairies do exist

Our secret mission began on a cloudy summer morning. My daughter carried the package under her arm, hoping not to attract attention. I whispered, try to look normal. Zooey surveyed the coffee shop…a dark cozy table with summer flowers in a green vase. Looks good. Casually, she wandered to the table and laid the package (Judy Blume’s Blubber) on the window sill by the flowers. When you’re a book fairy, you can’t attract attention. Zooey would have turned bright read if she heard…Hey, kid, you forgot your copy of Blubber.

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Old-fashioned summertime lemonade & limoncello

Remind me again, is that a lemon or a lime tree,” my husband asked? My parents gave us a beautiful lemon tree in the spring. It’s finally looking like it will be ready to harvest soon. 

I’ve learned that lemon trees are grateful sun worshipers…ours looks like it’s trying to hug the sun. Thankfully, lemon trees are happy in a container and have been protected from our lemon loving dogs. 

Our family loves the refreshing summer flavor of lemons in iced tea, ice cream, muffins and most of all lemonade.

My daughter and I made a batch last week and have savored every sip.
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Mermaid bath bombs

The kitchen is a swirl of purple, green and blue. Twelve-year-old girls are squealing. Flash back to 1988 and I’m feeling twelve again…wearing acid-washed jeans, making friendship bracelets and listening to 10,000 Maniacs. This feeling is just as I remember it, but better because it’s for my daughter Zooey. It was a full evening. We had pizza, made bath bombs (with glitter), dance skits were performed and there was swimming like mermaids. This is twelve. 

My friend Angela and I met in yoga teacher training. I remember going around in a circle and introducing ourselves. Angela said that she was a certified aromatherapist from Switzerland and my inner twelve-year-old wanted to say, “let’s be friends!” She is my friend and fellow mermaid and Zooey and I adore her bath bombs. We gave them as party favors at her last birthday and this year, we wanted Angela to show us how to make them.

Angela’s products are part of who she is…a Swiss/American aromatherapist using essential oils for mother and child. Oh, and she uses them in her yoga classes too! Yep, she’s the real bomb!! Follow Angela on instagram to see more of her creations. 

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Summer’s favorite cocktail: Cipriani Bellini

July feels to me like the pinnacle of summer, days well spent dining with friends and restful moments lounging poolside with a book…always with something fruity within reach. Specifically, a cocktail like this one that is as bright and beautiful as it is light and refreshing, a lovely way to bask in the season. 

Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party makes the viewer feel like sipping something fruity and refreshing while dining alfresco. Look at the peachy colors in this Paris cafe overlooking the Seine, the painting captures a happy afternoon among friends. Doesn’t it make you want a Peach Bellini? Create your own European cafe with a few ingredients…it’s the bubbly parts during the day that are the best to just take a sip, and sit back. 

The Peach Bellini is a famous bubbly cocktail that was created by Giuseppe Cipriani from Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. Cipriani named his drink after Giovanni Bellini, his favorite Italian painter, because the peach color of the champagne cocktail matched the color Bellini used in one of his paintings for a saint’s toga. The Peach Bellini has become one of the most famous and popular of all wine cocktails or champagne cocktails. It’s also difficult to make because of the scarcity of pureed peaches.

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Women’s Watermen SUP

When my friend Julie told me about the Women’s Watermen SUP, I laughed and thought “I don’t know if I can do it but I’ll try.” My motto for my forties has been Tina Fey’s saying, “Just say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.”

The day before the race was stressful… I had all these big events going on but if I could look forward to getting out on the water, I’d made it! It was a HUGE release that made me proud and a happy beginning to summer. Time can be like a secret weapon in handling whatever life throws at you that day and knowing that you’ll feel amazing after the event makes it worth the effort of getting out there. 

I’ve practiced SUP yoga many times and love the zen quality of outside yoga practice…the feel of the sun warming your body, the smell of sunscreen and the relaxation of the water. The paddle board 5K was more challenging because you keep moving…it’s still relaxing but I think more difficult to keep going. My toes started to feel tingly like they were falling asleep and I desperately wanted to dangle them in the water. 

Paddle boarding is a lot like bike racing…you can draft your friend and stick together. Julie and stuck it out the whole time. I can’t wait to do it again. 

This was an all women waterboard race. There were some pretty serious athletes up at the front that were shouting encouraging words and coaching as they passed us by… “Put your paddles deeper in the water.” Julie and I were more about having fun. We listened to Bob Marley blare on the speaker, enjoyed the wind in our hair and were relaxed enough to still make conversation. A paddle board 5K is probably the most relaxing race you will ever experience. 

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Peppermint brownies

Lingering candy canes still remain from the holidays and I can’t find it in me to toss them. A wintry rainy Sunday calls for peppermint brownies. My eleven-year-old gladly volunteered to smash the candy canes as long as she could occasionally sample several pieces. 

Chocolate and mint together are an amazing duo…really one of the most perfect dessert pairings. The freshness of the mint mixes so well with the sweet richness of the chocolate. We used two types of candy canes and two types of chocolate…really it’s about what you have left over from the holidays. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1  1/2 lb of chocolate (we used Hershey’s dark chocolate and left over Hershey’s candy cane kisses)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 candy canes (crushed)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter your favorite brownie pan. 
  • In a double boiler, combine chocolate with the butter. Stir until melted. If you’re eleven-years-old, you’ll want to use your Gryffindor spatula to do this! 
  • Scrape the chocolate into another bowl and let cool slightly. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture until glossy and thick. 
  • Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until mixed. 
  • Spread the brownie batter in the prepared baking pan. 
  • Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and bake for 30 minutes.

The crunchy bits of candy canes and the gooey chocolate can’t be beat! 

P.S.

Roasting and Toasting with S’mores & a Hot Toddy

Pumpkin brulee cheesecake

 

The Four Agreements

Have you read The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz? It should be on everyone’s bookshelf. It’s a perfect read to start off the new year.

Reading The Four Agreements helps us to understand how to distinguish between a tale and the truth. Ruiz writes about letting go of the attachments and beliefs that are in the way to a direct route to a happy and meaningful life. 

Don’t Take Anything Personally

‘Nothing others do is because of you. What others say is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.’

Don’t sweat the small stuff…It’s easier said than done but helpful to know that when someone is unkind and yells, gossips or harms you that it’s not about you! It’s based on what that person believes in their personal fantasy. Once we agree with what others have said, we take things personally. If we didn’t agree, the things that others say would not affect us heartily.  If a decision can be consciously made to not take it personally then, words or behavior no longer affect the heart.



Always Do Your Best

‘Under any circumstance, always do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.’

Give great effort in all that you do and enjoying that effort without expecting a reward. The pleasure comes from finding the fun in the effort and enjoying the moment…not expecting anything in return. When making the choice to “always do your best” this allows us to be fully alive in the moment and not worrying about the past or present. Transformation happens when we are taking action and living without regret. 

Don’t Make Assumptions

‘Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.’

It is so easy to get lost in our imagination and dream up what people are thinking, saying about us, doing… When we imagine these assumptions, we sometimes believe that they are true. This whole story that we’ve imagined may only be true to us but the mind believes it and one assumption leads to another…just like band, The Fixx sang:

Do what they say, say what you mean, and baby 
One thing leads to another 
You told me something wrong, I know I listen too long but then 
One thing leads to another

Instead of making assumptions, ask questions and say what you want. Communication solves the problem of assuming people know what’s in your head.

Be Impeccable With Your Word

‘Speak only with integrity. Say only what you mean.’

When love and gratitude goes out, those closest to you feel it and will return the same positive energy. If we tell someone, “I’ll be there” but we don’t mean it, your words have less value. Say only what you mean even if you have to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t make it.”

To be impeccable is to use your word in the direction of love and truth. When applying the practice “always do your best,” and “being impeccable with your word,” it has incredible rewards…allowing you to create your life as a magnum opus

This is a spiritual self-help book that can shift your life in the most positive way. I read The Four Agreements for my yoga teacher training and found it to be truly meaningful and it falls right into place with my yoga practice.