Summer Solstice

Just down the street from us is an open space that follows the path of the creek. There is one small space where they let you go down and sit by the water, and it is a favorite of the boys and their friends.It is this magical place where I swear the sun always shines golden, the trees seem to always rustle in a soft breeze, and the water is warm and perfect.

Recently my friend Annika and I took our four boys down and let them tie their rafts to the trees for some warm weather relaxation. Watermelon, bubbles, stick boat making (and racing), and a fun nature treasure hunt ensued.

I am hoping that we find most of our days like this: sticky, warm, exhausted, but refreshed at the time spent in the sunshine. Wishing you all a wonderful start to your summer!

Nature Treasure Hunt

Create a nature hunt list to hand out to each child.

Find:

:: Something round

:: Something alive

:: A place where an animal would live

:: Animal tracks (and guess which creature they belong to)

:: Something that is a spiral shape

:: Three different types of leaves

:: Something scary

:: An animal’s habitat

:: Something old

The nature hunt can be done two ways: Either by collecting the items as you go, or taking photos of each of the items using a Polaroid or camera phone. You can find lots more fun ideas for Nature Treasure Hunts on this Pinterest board, and check back here in a few days for a pattern for our exploration bag.

Watermelon, Mint and Lemon Sorbet

* This recipe requires an ice cream or sorbet maker.

8 cups of cubed watermelon (seeds and rind removed)

2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice

The zest of one lemon

2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

1/4-1/2 cup agave nectar

Place your watermelon and mint into the bowl of a food processor, and puree. Add the lemon juice, and simple syrup and stir well. Place into the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

* The day of the party, place the bowl of frozen sorbet into a cooler packed with ice to transport and store. Serve in a glass bowl with a spring of mint on top.

Making Stick Boats

Gather your sticks together. If using gathered materials, the boat will have a fun and rustic feel to it. If using precut twigs, the boats will have a clean line and perfect proportions.

:: Using your glue gun,  glue the smaller sticks across the larger pontoon sticks to form a deck

:: Find a fun stick to use as the mast, and glue the fabric sail to it. On the very top of the mast, place one small bead of glue and attach as many pieces of embroidery thread as you would like.

:: To adhere the mast to the deck, simply place a bead of glue on the bottom of the mast, and attach on either the right or left center of the deck.

:: Your boat is now ready to race!

We hope that this first day of summer is all that you wish it to be.

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In Celebration of Summer

June 19, 2012

Yesterday was my 600th post! It feels so crazy to me that it has been a little over 5 years and 600 posts. Thanks for sharing this incredible journey with my family and I. Here is to 600 more! 

Tomorrow at 7:09 PM EST, the sun will shine on it’s longest day and Summer will arrive. I love this day of celebration and fun, as we welcome the light back and rejoice at all that it will offer us this season. Every time the seasons change, I quickly proclaim that this one is truly my favorite, outshining the rest. I must admit that it is the change of seasons, the promise of what each one holds, that I am in love with most. I enjoy each season fully, and I am sure with equal love, but it is the transition from one to the next that leaves me feeling that this one is my true favorite.

We will celebrate quietly, as our quaint and beloved town is currently battling the largest forest fire in our state’s history. We will celebrate with cherished family crafts and traditions, a little planting (in long sleeve dress shirts no less, cause that is how every 8 and 6 year old boy enjoy getting dirty), a few songs, and lots of summer reading.

Of course no celebration would be complete without a bit of good eats. I have recently been enjoying a crisp glass of white wine and an individual veggie dip on those busy warm nights when cooking just isn’t calling my name. These can be made in advance of any party or dinner and popped in the oven just before eating. While I try and stay clear of dairy, these are worth indulging  in on occasions.

Individual Veggie Dips

Makes 6-8 individual ramekins

1 (8 oz) container of cream cheese

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small bunch of spinach, chopped

1 small bunch of kale, chopped

1 bunch of asparagus, roasted and chopped

1 head of garlic, roasted and cooled.

1 small bunch of basil, finely chopped

1 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for the tops of each

½ tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Dash cayenne pepper

2 tbsp. whole milk

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the spinach and kale until wilted, but still bright green. Drain and set aside.

Combine the cheeses, asparagus, roasted garlic, basil, salt, pepper and cayenne in the bowl of a food processor, and mix. Add the sautéed veggies, and pulse just to combine. Spoon the dip into individual ramekins and top with grated parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven broiler on high for five minutes. Place the ramekins under the broiler until warmed through and golden bubbly.

Parmesan and Thyme Toasts

Yields 20

3 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Loaf of day old baguette sliced into 1/2” slices. (We use Schar GF baguettes)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the olive oil and thyme.

Brush each side of the bread slices with the olive oil and thyme mixture and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Season with salt, pepper and top with parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Allow to come to room temperature.

* The Berry Tart recipe can be found on this post.

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