The Saturday Breeze: Week of July 24

This week…I found a new dip recipe from the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten, and hosted our July Mrs. Twist Reads This book club. July’s book was Camino Island by John Grisham.  In keeping with the seaside theme in which the book takes place…we enjoyed everyone’s favorite cookie — Milano’s in Key Lime and Sea Salt Caramel.  Who can resist the little ruffled paper trays they come in?

And this Herb Dip from Ina Garten.  It’s from her cookbook Barefoot Contessa at Home.

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Pulse in a food processor and serve at room temperature.  I served it with cucumber spears and parmesan garlic pretzel chips.

After we reviewed Camino Island, everyone got to vote on the book for August.  I covered the books with brown craft paper and marked each one A. or B. Without revealing the title, I read the description of each and the majority won.

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvin.  “They say life can change in an instant… After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?

The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.

On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.

As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.”

Want to read along with us?  You can sign up here for free through BookMovement — a terrific site that helps connect people across the world to a community who love to read.  Even if you can’t join us, we can be the motivation to help you read more and disconnect from technology. At least that was my reason for forming our book club and so far I’ve read three books this summer.  Once you sign up you can find out what book we will be reading, when we will meet, see possible selections for the future, and receive email reminders.

Have a super Saturday!

The Saturday Breeze: Week of July 26

Recapping this week — the highlight was book club on Thursday night which you can read about here.  Kathy Hepinstall was a delight!  I wanted to make a special cocktail to celebrate the book’s main character, Polly, and I found the perfect sip from The Cocktail Club by Maureen Petrosky. It’s a “year of recipes and tips for spirited tasting parties.”  It just so happened that during the month of June, margaritas are the featured drink.  Strawberry-Basil Margaritas sounded perfect.

I bought huge containers of basil and strawberries from Trader Joe’s (I plan to make pesto with the leftover basil).

Recipe:

One cup of sugar

zest of one lime

10-12 strawberries, hulled and sliced

8 fresh basil leaves

2-2 1/2 cups of silver tequila

1- 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (about 10 limes)

Ice cubes

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and zest with 1 cup of water. Simmer over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and strain the syrup into a clean container.  Let it cool completely.

Add the strawberries to a large pitcher.  Bruise or gently squeeze the basil leaves and add them to the pitcher.

Add the tequila, lime-flavored simple syrup, and 1 cup of the lime juice and stir.

I only used 2 cups of tequila and one cup of lime juice, but taste it to adjust to your preference.  I also took a potato masher and crushed the strawberries more.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Serve in glasses filled with ice.

It was refreshing and a perfect twist on the traditional margarita.

For next week’s breeze, I will have fun details to share from our neighborhood fish fry — including a fried shrimp recipe from my hero — Helen Corbitt!

Have a splendid Saturday!

The Saturday Breeze – Week of June 18

I packed in alot of stuff this week!  While Mr. and Miss Bee were away on a mission trip for church, I took the week off work and well…worked on my house!

I prepared a to-do list and I have to say I did pretty well.  I made sure to take lots of breaks and afternoon naps with Hazel.  I also enjoyed binge watching Netflix HGTV and NCIS episodes in the background. Have you ever watched an episode of HGTV’s Vintage Flip?  They are the cutest couple!  Jesse and Tina take their “passion for era-appropriate restorations with thoughtful modern updates to beautify the Golden State one vintage home at a time.” Nothing is over the top, and no drama like “oh, wow, I didn’t know the house was falling down and we didn’t budget 90K to fix it!” plus they share the history behind when the homes were built — like during the gold rush and the citrus boom.  Check it out here.

Here’s what I accomplished:

Wiped down all the kitchen cabinets to give them a good cleaning (you can use a mixture of water and vinegar.  Wipe then dry with a cloth)

Retouched the paint on the cabinets and drawers from normal wear

Repainted the fireplace surround and the columns in the kitchen to lighten things up (I used Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter — a fab color I have used all over the house).

Painted the niche.  #Ihateniches.  Is it just me?  A niche means needless decor to sit inside of it.  I’d much rather it be a blank wall.  I found some pretty hand-painted Asian inspired plates on clearance from Williams-Sonoma in all the colors I love — orange, navy and green.  I thought they would be perfect hung in the niche with a backdrop of Sherwin-Williams Naval — a deep navy blue. I used the leftover paint I had from my laundry room gallery wall.

Moved furniture around, redecorated with stuff I already had but moved it from room to room so it looks new.   I got out my collection of sea shells and sea glass to make it look summery around the house.   I hung a mirror I painted with orange lacquer paint and flanked it with fun appetizer plates I found at Target.  I will show you that project soon.

And since I clearly have watched too much HGTV this week, I tackled my dining room chandelier with gold paint and new bulbs.  I’ll share that project, too.

Cleaned out drawers and cabinets and filled seven boxes of love for Goodwill.  Yay, me!

Took some nicer home decor to Furniture Buy Consignment in my neighborhood.  They have beautiful things and I have had good luck selling my home decor and furniture there, and finding new affordable pieces as well.

Cleaned and reorganized our game room so it can be a fun place for my sweetie pie niece to play!  Now it’s all set up with her own table and chairs and kitchen and drawers full of games and toys.  She is coming this weekend to spend the night and I can’t wait for her to see her space.

Cleaned the entire house top to bottom and sweated like I ran the NY Marathon.  Seriously, I think after this week FitBit may be calling me to make sure someone else isn’t wearing my device!

I ate healthy food all week and only ate out once — Zoe’s Kitchen for their yummy Mediterranean chicken and stopped into my favorite bakery — Hurley House for a treat.  And, I worked out with my trainer four days! Yay, me again!

And, one more thing!  I am so excited about the surprise I am going to reveal on Monday regarding Mrs. Twist’s Book Club!  Have you signed up to read The Book of Polly?  Sign up here for our summer book club and you can join in on the fun next Thursday at our June meeting. You will not want to miss this news.  So check back on Monday, or sign up to receive my emails delivered right to your email in box bright and early each day I post.

I hope you have a super, breezy, fun Saturday!

The Saturday Breeze — Week of June 12

The month of June is a big month for birthdays in my family.  First, Mr. Bee’s, Daddy’s was the 11th, and today is my brother’s birthday. Tomorrow is Father’s Day.  Mr. Bee and Miss Bee leave for a mission trip in the morning so I get the entire week to myself!  I’ve got some projects planned that I will share with you, along with alot of sleeping late and reading by the pool.

This week, I felt like baking so I got out my salt plate from Williams-Sonoma.  It’s a hand-cut slab of iridescent salt crystal mined from the foothills of the Himalayas and you can use the salt plate on the grill or stovetop, in the oven, or as a chilled serving platter.

The recipe is really the best chocolate chip recipe I’ve made and I make these even without using the salt block.  You can omit the smidge of sea salt sprinkled on top before baking if you want to.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp of baking soda

1 3/4 cups of butter (I use European butter)

1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1 whole egg, plus one egg yolk

12 oz. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325.  This makes the big difference in how your cookies bake.  Slow and even.  In my opinion, 350 is too hot for cookies.

Mix the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside.  Cream the butter and sugars. Add in eggs. Then vanilla.  Toss the chocolate chips into the flour and coat evenly, then stir into the butter sugar mixture.

Drop scoops full onto a parchment paper lined tray. Bake about 12 minutes.  You want them almost underdone.  They will cook a little longer on the hot cookie sheet before you transfer them to your cooling rack.

Makes about 24 cookies.

Last night I treated Mr. Bee to a surprise — The music of Pink Floyd at the Concerts in the Garden.  It was like nothing else I have heard before — the music of Dark Side of the Moon accompanied by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.  Oh, my, it was amazing.  We went with our friends Darold and Becky and had such a fun night under the stars sipping wine, noshing on dinner and listening to the music.

Central Market is the concert picnic partner and they make it so easy to have the perfect outdoor meal while you enjoy the concert.  You call the catering office (Alexa was super helpful) at Central Market, place your order, and on the evening of the concert, you pick up your meal on the concert grounds all packed in a reusable insulated tote bag.

You can bring in your own food, but really, this makes it so much easier. We enjoyed a charcuterie platter, grilled chicken and beef tenderloin sandwiches with roasted vegetables, strawberry spinach salad, and dessert.  We brought our own bottles of wine and water (and flameless candles!).

And, look how cute Becky is in her Pink Floyd t-shirt!  She said she found it just this past week at Nordstrom rack and knew it would be the perfect touch to the night.

We sipped wine I purchased on a recent visit to Fredericksburg.  A summery rose´ from Baron’s Creek and a Le Quattro Stagione 2014 from Becker Vineyard.

And I told Mr. Bee I paid a little extra for fireworks at the end!   Have a super Saturday.

The Saturday Breeze — Week of June 5

Happy Saturday!  Until I can get up the courage to try my hand at doing a Saturday video series for you, I’ll “shoot the breeze” (aka idle chitchat according to Urban Dictionary) the old-fashioned way, through words and photos recapping my week.

Even Hazel identified with the dog in the book…

I finished The Book of Polly. OMG. It is probably one of the most touching and relevant books I have read in a long while. I just loved everything about it. The humor, Willow’s stories of her childhood, and the Mother-Daughter relationship, had me right there with the author Kathy Hepinstall.  It is our selection for this month’s Mrs. Twist Reads This book club.  I hope you will read it.  I didn’t want it to end.

We hosted a “Farm to Table” Party at work on Thursday.  The tables were beautifully set with a bounty of summer vegetables and fresh florals.

And we gave Cat Studio custom glassware as our party favors.

We had to say farewell to our almost 19 year old kitty, Sophia.  Sophia will be reincarnated as a true Southern lady. Proper, demure, sweet and ladylike.  The only time I saw her get cross was to swat Wilson across the face a time or two if he got too close (it made that hollow popping sound and was hilarious to see his face afterward). We rescued her when Miss Bee was a baby, much to my dismay.  We already had in addition to a newborn, a Dalmatian and three cats.  But, Mr. Bee felt certain God wanted her to be his, and she was for a very long time.

Sophia may have had only one eye, but she never missed a thing and could pack a punch when needed. Never sick a day in her life, in the last six months she started losing weight and had trouble getting around.  She was diagnosed with renal failure, a common ailment for felines in their senior years.  But, Sophia rallied with medicine and renal supplements and even enjoyed walking laps around the pool in the afternoon sunshine. The last few weeks, it became increasingly difficult for her to do much of anything so we made the decision to make her comfortable.

This was a sweet photo I captured of a moment our sweet Hazel had with her friend Sophia just a few days before Sophia died.  It is such a hard thing to do, yet you know it’s the right decision.  But, boy, knowing I will have to keep doing it as long as I have pets, that’s tough…

Hazel and Sophia

Lastly, Happy Birthday to my beloved Mr. Bee!  Your life is a gift and I am so glad I get to share it with you.  Thank you to all of you who complimented him on his England posts.  I shared your feedback at our team meeting and he got employee of the month!

That’s the Saturday Breeze!