Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Weekend in the Hudson River Valley

Every summer our family gathers for a weekend at my brother Tom and his wife Stacey's beautiful farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley of New York. Nestled in a bucolic country setting, their home was originally the barn of an estate and was converted to a home in the 1940's. As you can expect, it exudes charm and character; from the crown molding and chair rail to the stone hitching post and water trough by the front door. 
The quiet is a welcome respite from our busy suburban lives. The serenity of their rolling acre of lush, green grass and the shimmering, crystal clear pool definitely soothes the soul. I look forward to it all year long because it's a weekend spent unwinding, relaxing and catching up with the ones we treasure most. That, to me, is worth more than any fancy, five star getaway.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Quick & Easy Summer Hostess Gift

As I was leafing through a magazine a week or two ago I saw a feature about berry bowls and colanders and this adorable little white ceramic one caught my attention immediately. Usually these product features are chock full of high end, high price pieces so you can imagine my surprise to see that it was from Target! And under $20! And dishwasher safe!
Win ~ Win ~ Win!
Naturally I ran right to Target and snatched one up. Pretty enough to stay on the counter top and perfect for storing fresh fruit since it affords plenty of air circulation, I initially intended to be selfish and keep it for myself. Then I remembered that we were going away this past weekend to visit my brother and sister in law at their gorgeous farmhouse in the Hudson River Valley of New York.
Since it is blueberry season right now in NJ, it only made sense to fill the colander with fresh, Jersey blueberries. Blueberries are one of the best parts of summer! Then I made a simple little tag with a fun play on words because I simply could not resist.
I like to bring a hostess gift, especially when the hostess truly goes out of her way to make your stay fun and comfortable. My sister in law Stacey goes above and beyond always ensuring we have a wonderful time.
I really like this idea. Not only is it practical and sweet, at under $20 for the entire gift it is affordable and a great way to highlight fresh, seasonal produce. You can be sure I will be picking one up for myself on my next trip to Target. How could I not?

See last year's hostess gift ideas here.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summer Drinking ~ The Blackberry Basil Bourbon Smash

It's been a while hasn't it?
Life is all sorts of crazy right now ~ crazy good, crazy stressful, and even crazy exciting ~ but all in a very good way. Unfortunately, I cannot expand on that right now (boo!) so instead I come offering a cocktail that celebrates some of my favorite things about summer. 
Nothing warms my heart like finding freshly picked berries at the farmer's market, having bowls full of ripe fruit sitting on my kitchen counters, or seeing a bumper crop of herbs growing in the garden. In fact, this year our basil has grown to epic proportions. There are basil leaves out there as big as my hand! Giant basil is perfect for a delicious caprese salad and also for muddling into a refreshing cocktail. 
So let's put those giant basil leaves, and the plump little blackberries littering the farm stands to good use, shall we?

Blackberry Basil Bourbon Smash

Muddle 7 basil leaves (or less if they are as big as your hand), half of a lemon, quartered , with 3 blackberries in a glass. 
Add a tablespoon of simple syrup and 2 oz of bourbon and give it a good stir. Using a strainer, pour it over an old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with basil sprigs and some extra blackberries.

Try saying the name of this drink 5x fast. Better yet, try saying it after knocking back a few of these bad boys!