Sprint To The Holidays

It’s that time of year….

Where we run around at high speeds (in some instances we’re crazy enough to attempt it in high heels), masses of lists clutched with a death grip in our white knuckled fingers. Gifts to buy. Parties to attend. Food to prepare. Surviving the holidays with our sanity, our number one priority.

But isn’t a holiday, by definition, a leisurely time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure? What if we all make an effort this holiday season, to enjoy the things around us a little more? Take a few more deep breathes. Stop for a minute and admire the lovely Christmas decorations. Sing along with our favorite Christmas song. Smile at our loved ones.

If you, like me, need a little “reminder” of how to survive the next few weeks, without getting short of breath sprinting to the holiday finish line, here’s a little list to add to your pile. Keep it on top and read it often.

Those of you wanting the details on #4, read on…

Festive Cranberry Margarita

Source: me

  • 2 C Tequila of your choice
  • 1 1/3 C Cranberry juice
  • 1 C Cointreau
  • 2/3 C Fresh-squeezed lime juice.
  • Combine everything in a medium sized pitcher and stir to combine. Pour into glasses (rimmed in sugar if you please) and garnish with a few frozen cranberries. Now sit back, enjoy the company of your loved ones and move to the next item on the list (see #5 above).
Advertisements

A Life Without Coffee..or Passion…

Each morning we get up. And do what we do. We put one foot in front of the other. We make that morning cup of coffee, needing that jolt to help us face the day. We’re stuck in a rut; the mundaneness of busy, everyday life. Or maybe we’re stuck in a rut because of a loss or tragedy (Busted plumbing anyone? No I’m not referring to the kitchen garburator. Yes, I am referring to my own internal, and apparently faulty insides. And yes, laughter does a lot to mask tears.). A rut that sucks out all the passion. Like drinking hot coffee on a steamy summer morning. It offers no pleasure, only function.

How do I get that passion back? Is passion a conscious decision? That feeling in the pit of your stomach, that burning desire which creates a commitment to something – be it your work, your family, or your love (and most hopefully your love life).

Living without passion feels empty and purpose-less. Isn’t passion what makes us, at least partly, human? Honore de Balzac writes that passion is universal in humanity; without it, religion, history, romance and art would be useless. Imagine our world without Michelangelo’s art or Mozart’s music. Imagine your world without any elation, joy, anger, or frustration. Without any feeling at all….Sure, when you’re passionate about something you open yourself up to an entire arena of possible hurt and vulnerability. Disappointment and pain and a whole host of scary stuff. And on some days, it just seems like it might be to much to deal with…but passion can give us strength to keep going and transcend the ordinary, even the mundane routines of daily life. It’s real. It’s my choice. And it’s hard, but ultimately it keeps me going.

And a little coffee now and then doesn’t hurt either.

Cold Brewed Coffee

adapted from The New York Times

In my life, hot brewed coffee is not a culinary dictate. It’s a sunny, summer day….

  • Grind about 1/2 cup coffee. Medium coarse grind works best.
  • Place coffee grinds and about 1 1/2 cups cold water in a jar or French press (easier for straining). Stir. Cover and let sit for at least 12 hours at room temperature.
  • Strain.
  • Fill any size glass you want with ice. Top up with cold brewed coffee. Add a little milk if you want and enjoy.

Notes:

  • For those of you who fancy yourselves coffee connoisseurs, there really is a huge difference between cold brewed coffee and plain cold coffee. Brewing it with cold water and letting it steep all night reduces the bitterness.
  • These are pretty loose directions. I like my coffee industrial strength so adjust accordingly.
  • We all know caffeine is a stimulant so go ahead, play some Etta James, drink that venti double strength iced, cold brewed coffee and get passionate….

Miss Margarita

Oh…Miss Margarita how I do love you on a blistering summer day. With pineapple and basil you’re perfect enough to knock an entire pitcher out of the way. Lounging on your deck with a cool glass in hand, let your mind wander in the drenching sunshine, and day dream yourself to a far off land.

…by the blue water’s edge, let your toes dig into the warm, white sand

…let the ocean breeze cool your skin, while the sun across the water skips

…let yourself lose track of time under a palm tree with your love, when under the horizon the sun dips

A plan for the near future might not include a change in latitude. But plenty of refills of Miss Margarita, under the sultry summer sun, are more than enough to brighten your mood.

Pineapple & Basil Margaritas

lightly adapted from Martha Stewart

  • Pulse 1 fresh pineapple (cored & cut into chunks) in a food processor. Do not puree.
  • Muddle 1/2 C. fresh basil with a rounded tablespoon of sugar in a pitcher.
  • Add in the fresh pineapple and any juice from that pineapple,  two cups of Limeade (mix the Limeade concentrate with about half the water called for on the package. Keep any leftover Limeade for your next pitcher.), and 2 cups of your favorite tequila. Mix well.
  • Refridgerate at least one hour.
  • Fill the pitcher with ice, stir well & enjoy on your patio while listening to Sergio Mendes.
  • Don’t forget to rim your glasses with salt, garnish with a slice of pineapple and reapply your sunscreen as needed.

Loyalty

Flowers are blooming.

Bees are buzzing (let’s forget about the constant hum of mosquitoes, shall we?)

Patios are in full swing with scantily clad ladies sipping fruity concoctions.

While most people are casting aside the whisky that carried them through our harsh winter months, I’m feeling a little more loyal. No need to abandon my bourbon without just cause. Bourbon stood my side during the dark and dreary days of winter, listening to my rants and raves. Soothing my numerous tears. Always there for me like a good friend. And while some friends come, others go but a true friend sticks it out.

Just because the sun has come out and I’ve traded my winter boots for flip flops, I’m not going to lift my skirt as I run off into the sunset, a trail of long strawberry-blonde hair streaming behind me.

I shall remain loyal.

Maker’s Mark Lemonade Iced Tea

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 4 oz. Lemonade
  • 4 oz. Iced Tea
  • Serve on the rocks in a tall glass

Old Fashioned Lemonade

  • Combine 3/4 C water, 3/4 C sugar and the zest of one lemon. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Should make about 1 C simple syrup.
  • Stir together 1/4 tsp salt,1 C simple syrup, 1 C fresh lemon juice, 1 C water, and one lemon sliced. If the lemonade is to tart or to sweet adjust according to your taste.
  • Let cool in fridge and drink within one day.

Sweet Iced Tea

  • Steep 3 tea bags (I like the flavor of black iced tea bags from Starbucks) in 3 C boiled water for about seven minutes.
  • Add about 1/3 cup of sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add about 4-6 cups cold water.
  • Sorry this isn’t exact. Like a good small town girl, I grew up on sweet iced-tea. I don’t really know the measurements I just make it. Like my mom did.

Notes:

  • It seems like a lot of work, but home made lemonade and iced tea are worth it! Trust me….(trust…another virtue of a good friend. But that’s for another post).

The Soul of Memories

When nothing else subsists from the past, after people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence,the immense edifice of memory. Marcel Proust

Do certain smells have the ability to transport you, as they do me, to a place or a time, bringing back a memory so intense you feel as though you’re reliving the moment?

…the scent of your lover’s cologne lingering on your skin

…the steamy aroma of black, French press coffee, wafting from a nearby cafe

…the heady smell of salty ocean air

A familiar scent can make me laugh, or cry, or feel sentimental. It can bring about memories of tearful goodbyes or last kisses. Of balmy summer evenings spent gazing up at the stars. Of fragrant jasmine blooms that only flower at night lining the walk way to our exotic Balinese villa.

Every time I make Jasmine Iced Tea, and I pour the hot water over the loose tea leaves, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and I’m carried back to a far off land where the sun is endless, I can always hear the roar of the ocean, and jasmine flowers adorn my hair. The promise of another idyllic day spent under the heat of the sun, the promise of another steamy night…

Ahhhh…the scent of paradise…


Ginger & Mint Jasmine Iced Tea

Inspired by Le Jardin, Seminyak

1- 1/2 Tbsp Jasmine tea

4 Slices of fresh ginger, peeled

1 Lime, sliced

4 C. Boiled water

6-8 Mint leaves

Steep fives minutes then strain and cool.

Serve over ice with desired amount of simple syrup. Garnish with mint springs, a lime wedge, and a piece of ginger.

Notes:

  • Be sure to let the water cool 2 minutes after boiling so as not to scald the tea.
  • Steeping time might vary depending on type of tea. I use a black jasmine tea.
  • Simple syrup: bring to a boil 1 C sugar with 1 C water until sugar is dissolved. Stores well in the fridge.