Strawberry Top Water

I meant to post this three months ago* when strawberry season was at its height, but here it is now: strawberry top water!

*”What with one thing and another, three years passed.” -William Goldman, The Princess Bride

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This is an idea I found via Clotilde Dusoulier’s blog Chocolate & Zucchini, and I have very little to add except that it is a delicious idea and you should make strawberry water any time you have strawberries in the house. It’s like that cucumber-infused water they have at spas, only a hundred times better. And it hits that sweet spot: it’s low effort, but looks/tastes impressive.

  • Rinse strawberries. Slice off the tops, put them in a jar of water, put the jar in the fridge for several hours (overnight is okay).
  • Drain the water and toss the berry tops. Drink delicious, pale pink strawberry water right away or store for 1-2 days in fridge.
  • If you have some fresh herbs around, especially basil or mint, a few leaves make a tasty addition. Same goes for a little sliver of lemon. Strawberry-lemon-mint water, anyone?

It’s quite refreshing. And of course, it’s a nice complement to whatever you plan to do with the rest of the strawberry.

 

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Homemade chocolate ice cream

Last summer we made a few flavors of ice cream using the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment. We learned a few things:

  • Don’t even bother trying to make ice cream if it’s already over 80 degrees in the house. The ice cream will not get to a proper consistency no matter how long you churn it.
  • Small batches are better than large batches. Homemade ice cream doesn’t last as long as commercially manufactured ice cream, and it is very, very sad to have to throw it out.

This year, we checked out Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book from the library. Not that recipes online can’t be trusted (in fact, the peach ice cream we made last year was a Ben & Jerry’s recipe we found online), but the library had it, so why not?

The first recipe we tried (Jerry’s chocolate, with unsweetened chocolate cocoa powder) was a five-star success every step of the way; we have been enjoying it every evening since we made it. (I say “we” but I mean “Ben.” All I did was pour the batter into the bowl. And lick the bowl.) We followed the recipe exactly, except instead of adding the optional chocolate chips, we added Heath bar bits.

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Our friends gave us two excellent reusable containers made for storing ice cream. Before this I didn’t know such things existed, but if you’re making your own ice cream, I can’t recommend these highly enough.

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I suspect they might also be good for freezing soups in wintertime, but I’d be setting myself up for disappointment there: imagine opening a container that says “ice cream” and finding anything other than ice cream inside.

For now, it’s this. And it’s delicious.

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Our trip to Portland

This morning, we got in the car and headed to Portland, Maine, for a day trip. There can only be so many beautiful summer days left in the year, and we wanted to take advantage of this one. We planned to have brunch, go to the art museum, maybe Longfellow’s house; a meadery and a chocolate bar were also on the agenda, and perhaps some time sitting by the ocean; maybe a visit to the Maine potters market, and a peek into the impressive public library. Our friends had agreed to take care of the dog’s evening walk and dinner so we didn’t have to cut the day short. It was going to be great!

Let’s let the pictures tell the story.

Ben staring at his car, minus one functioning ball joint.

11:10am: Ben staring at his car, minus one functioning ball joint.

The lovely Adopt A Visibility Site, Georgetown, MA

The lovely Adopt A Visibility Site, Georgetown, MA. Who knew there was a Georgetown, MA? Or a Rowley?

Ben making friends with a caterpillar on a pine needle.

Ben making friends with a caterpillar on a pine needle while waiting for a tow truck to come.

A whole lot of pretty sky, and no tow truck.

A whole lot of pretty sky, and no tow truck.

Finally! After a mere three hours of waiting. Thanks, Liberty Mutual! Hate to think how long it would have been if it'd been snowing.

Finally! After a mere three hours of waiting. Thanks, Liberty Mutual! Hate to think how long it would have been if it’d been snowing.

The Independent in Union Square, Somerville, MA.

4:02pm: The Independent in Union Square, Somerville, MA.

So no, we didn’t get to Portland today. But on the plus side, if the car had to break down at all, this was pretty good timing: we had nowhere to be, no one to meet, the weather was as conducive as it could possibly be for spending three hours on a highway overpass. We had a frisbee and at least one of us had a book; I learned a lot about ball joints. And we got to have lunch (dinner?) in Union Square, where we never go because it’s inconvenient to get to, but it’s where our trusted auto mechanic is located (Mike!), and we were very hungry by four o’clock. (Thank you to the fine, fine folks at The Independent, who brought us tasty food speedily. Much appreciated.)

Maybe another time, Portland.

My day was great, thanks for asking.

My day was great, thanks for asking.

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Lucky Number Seven(th Birthday)

Two years and two days ago, we brought her home.

Sudo on her first day with us, July 14, 2012.

Sudo on her first day with us, July 14, 2012.

She settled right in.

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If “settled in” is synonymous with “took over the couch.”

She’s a little grayer in the muzzle now, and has a touch of arthritis in her toes, but she’s just as cuddly as ever, and she’s even braved various bodies of water (up to her belly, at least).

Car ride!

Car ride!

Here’s to several more years of snuggles and walks.

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Container garden: July update

Happy to report that everything is going pretty well! Something is getting at the strawberries – even with the net I put over them – but the herbs are doing splendidly and there is even a new rose on the rose bush (originally a Valentine’s Day present from the Whole Foods flower section).

These things. Their name refuses to stick in my head but they are very pretty.

These things. Their name refuses to stick in my head but they are very pretty.

The parsley is most enthusiastic, but sage and basil aren't far behind.

The parsley (middle) is most enthusiastic, but sage (right) and basil (left) aren’t far behind.

Top: flowers and herbs. Bottom: strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes.

Top: flowers and herbs. Bottom: strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes.

The squash, now with two blossoms.

The squash, now with two blossoms.

Rose red.

Rose red.

Here’s what everything looked like in mid-May, for comparison.

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Upside is the best kind of down

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Under the (coffee) table and dreaming

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

You can't tell me how to sleep.

You can’t tell me how to sleep…

...or with whom...

…or with whom…

...or where to sleep. This bed is now mine too.

…or where. (This bed is mine now.)

Sleeping in range of the camera is not for the self-conscious.

You also cannot tell me when to wake up.

Especially that.

Especially that.

But perhaps I will wake up if there is a car ride involved.

But perhaps I will wake up if there is a car ride involved.

Or a squirrel toy to chew...

Or a squirrel toy to chew…

Squirrel toys beware!

Squirrel toys beware!

Sleeping in range of the camera is not for the self-conscious.

Sleeping in range of the camera is not for the self-conscious.

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A to Z Bookish Survey

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Who can resist a survey? Well, we’ve all gotten better at it over the years, or maybe it has just become more distributed, spread out across various social media platforms, so that your Goodreads friends know what you’re reading and your Twitter followers know who you thought should have won Best Picture and your Facebook friends know you “like” the new Matt Damon movie (not to mention all the old Matt Damon movies).

Anyway, my friend Linda (ThreeGoodRats) found this survey at Roof Beam Reader, created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, and I’ve been suckered in.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Ann Patchett comes to mind first – I’m fairly certain I’ve read every book she’s written. But there there were all those series books I read as a kid, so it could be one of those authors, like Joanna Campbell or Joan Lowery Nixon or Lois Duncan or Caroline B. Cooney.

Best Sequel Ever:

I did love The Subtle Knife, the second book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, even though it had a cliffhanger-y ending. I also liked Gayle Forman’s Where She Went,sequel/companion to If I Stay.

Currently Reading:

The Vacationers by Emma Straub, and Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King (audiobook).

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Depends on the season.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical, mostly. I get a lot of digital galleys on the e-reader, and it’s a nice way to read the really long books (Bleak House, Anna Karenina, The Goldfinch) and not have to carry around a four-pound block of paper.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

“Would have actually” is pretty far from “would have wanted to.” I quite like Sean Kendrick from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell; these were book club picks and I needed the nudge, but I’m so glad I read them and got to discuss them. Another book club book I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise: Anna Karenina.

Hidden Gem Book:

Overture by Yael Goldstein was really lovely.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Er…learning to read? My parents read to me every night until I was about eight and decided it would be faster if I read by myself.

Just Finished:

Orlando by Virginia Woolf, The Secret Place by Tana French, The Cove by Ron Rash, Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Self-help/inspirational, diet books, celebrity memoirs, Nicholas Sparks.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

Anna Karenina, I think. Unless you count the whole Harry Potter series as one book. Updated to add: is Gone With the Wind longer than Anna Karenina? If so, GWTW. But Anna Karenina felt longer.

Major book hangover because of:

This happened more when I was younger. Last year when I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes I couldn’t face reading anything else right away so I just read it over again. Sometimes a magical place or particular writing style/voice will linger with me. Updated to add: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Six, plus a basket of New Yorkers in the bathroom.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Hahaha, ONE? I’ve probably read The Time Traveler’s Wife more than any other book, but I love re-reading.

Preferred Place To Read:

Anywhere, everywhere.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“It occurs to her that there is one thing about people you can never understand well enough: how entirely inside themselves they are.”-Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
“No one can do a thing about feelings, they exist and there’s no way to censor them.” -Identity by Milan Kundera

Reading Regret:

I regret spending time on books I disliked from the start when I should have abandoned them; I regret not having read certain books yet, but I plan to remedy that eventually.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

Not sure there is one. There are series I haven’t finished but it’s a conscious choice.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett, His Dark Materials (trilogy) by Philip Pullman.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

“Fangirl” certainly brings Rainbow Rowell to mind…I’m also vocal on behalf of Ann Patchett, Neil Gaiman, Simon Van Booy, John Green (though he has enough fans now), Chris Cleave, David Levithan, Julia Glass…

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

I’m always wildly excited for new Tana French or Maggie Stiefvater books. Right now I’m looking forward to The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

Worst Bookish Habit:

I often have more library books checked out than I can read in any given three-week span. Then I give the library books priority (because they have due dates) and take forever to get around to reading the books I actually own.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

The Likeness by Tana French. (Fiction is shelved alphabetically by author.)

Your latest book purchase:

Oliver and His Alligator by Paul Schmid from Porter Square Books.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

The Secret Place by Tana French.

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