Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Easy Lemonade Cocktails: Lemonade plus one

LemonadeBar

This weekend we had the pleasure of having dinner with friends. Jon, smoker/grill-master extraordinaire made a ridiculously good pulled pork and we provided dessert. Oh wait, no, we were supposed to provide dessert. Except I forgot, got tied up over an hour away, and was running late. So we brought bread, lemonade, and a bottle of Riesling. Perfectly normal, right?

Luckily the white wine and lemonade combo was a winner and Anna, who is not a big drinker, loved it. Which I consider a compliment - even more so when she mentioned it on Facebook and her blog! I agree - this little gem went straight into heavy rotation once it was introduced to my repertoire.

Lemonade+Wine

As for the combination of lemonade and wine: I have to admit the first time I had it I was a little surprised and a lot intrigued. My bridal shower was in the midst of the sweltering Chicago summer and my maid of honor and her husband threw a simply perfect outdoor bash. Our save-the-date cards read like a film script and made mention of (dry) Riesling wine. Fittingly, the main drink was one of my still-favorite Rieslings (Kung Fu Girl) and lemonade. It was refreshing, festive, and delicious. Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Vihno Verde - all work great and add a unique twist to this combination.

Since then we've incorporated the lemonade/pink lemonade/limeade + 1 idea across the board. From the non-alcoholic but always tasty lemonade and iced tea (an Arnold Palmer) to the slightly more unexpected. Here are a few favorites that make for embarrassingly easy summer entertaining:

PinkLemonade+Bubbly

A natural and fabulous progression from the lemonade and wine arena is lemonade + bubbly. Cava, Prosecco, Champagne, sparkling wine, whatever your preference!

Limeade+Vodka2

Lemon-, Lime- or Pink Lemonade and Vodka: 1 shot of vodka per highball glass or larger, or adjust to your preferences. I'm not a huge hard-alcohol drinker but I recently discovered a vodka that I actually really like: 360 Organic. The cherry flavor + limeade is a great combo. I will warn you though, chocolate vodka and lemonade? Not a winner.

Shandy1

The quintessential summer favorite around our house, the "Shandy", or Lemonade + Beer: half of each. We prefer it with a summer ale or a wheat beer but hey, it's worth playing around to see what you might like. Stouts I've never tried, and frankly, I probably won't - but if you are adventuresome and want to give it a go you let us know how it turns out!

Lemonade+Lambic

Lemonade + Lambic: half and half. If you've never had a Lambic before it is essentially a malt beverage with a lot of fruit added. It's usually sold as a beer and is super sweet but surprisingly good. The easiest to find in the US is usually the brand Lindemann's and it comes in a variety of flavors: Framboise (raspberry), Peche (peach), etc.

Lemonade+FlavoredAle

Lemonade and Fruit-Flavored Ale: half and half. Pretty much the same thing as with a Lambic but the flavor is a bit lighter and the color more like with a beer. Sam'l Smith makes a gorgeous fruit flavored set of ales that are perfect for this application but amazingly drinkable and not overwhelmingly sweet all on their own.

So, if you are entertaining this summer consider a lemonade + one bar. Garnishes are easy, mixing is fast, and everyone is happy.

My lemonade recipe is pretty open to interpretation but is usually 6-8 lemons, 6-8 cups of water and I start with 3/4 cup of sugar, then add more until I get the flavor I like. The best way to achieve a non-gritty lemonade is to dissolve the sugar in some of the water in a pot over about a medium heat - you want to heat the water and sugar enough to melt and dissolve the sugar but not more, then add to the rest of your mix. Essentially, its simple syrup and lemon juice, plus lots of water. For limeade simply switch limes for lemons.

Easy ways to flavor your lemonade:

Add muddled mint (preferably in the hot water/sugar mix)

Add muddled basil (preferably in the hot water/sugar mix)

Add the juice of one blood orange to your lemonade to make it pink.

Add a 1/2 - 1 pint of raspberries and cook until softened/dissolved in the sugar/water mix - will also make it pink - make sure to strain before adding to your lemonade.

Use 1 orange in place of 1 lemon for a less tart and more subtle flavor.

CitrusGarnish

For garnishes consider:

Any citrus - lemons, limes, oranges of all varieties in wedges, peels curled, or in rounds.

Fresh mint, basil, or lavender.

Fresh berries - any kind would be lovely.

Pretty straws

Ice cubes made into fun shapes or made of frozen lemonade - or even better, shaved ice!

Add sugar rims to your glasses - for the limeade glass above I used Swedish pearl sugar.

Non-Alcoholic Mixers:

Lemon-Lime Soda.

Iced Tea.

Seltzer water.

A scoop of lemon sorbet.

Because I like the idea of a lemonade bar and party so much, and I love my readers, I have a freebie label download for you (click file, download original, save and edit from there)! Just change the text to anything you want, print, cut inside the grey line, fold in half and there you go - little table-tent signs for your party!


If you are having problems getting the font to load it is free and downloadable here or here. Download, install, re-open and try again.

Enjoy and cheers!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekend Reads: No-reading edition

This weekend I hope to be doing no reading. Ok, that's a lie. If I am reading though, I hope it's leisurely, with a cold beverage in my hand and warm sun on my shoulders. All long weekends should be so idealistically lounge-laden and relaxing.

Flag

While relaxing though, please take a moment to put those we've lost, their families and loved ones into your heart. No matter your stance on war, home-country or station in life, someone, somewhere has sacrificed for you. Gratitude for life and the moments in it, be it as small as a wave from your child, as great as an overwhelming expression of love, as quiet as holding a hand or as loud as screaming into the Grand Canyon, are all ways of saying thank you. Be wildly joyful about the life you've been afforded by the sacrifices, strength and support of others - it is the best thanks you can give.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

52 Pickup: Excuses Distract from Your Perfection

Remember, all 52 pickups are open to interpretation. My interpretation might not be the same as yours - make it yours, make it a mantra, make it life lived well.
This week the pickup is:

How many times have you let excuses hold you back from pursuing something you wanted? Did you use money as an excuse not to take an enriching class (but without actually trying to make a few extra bucks or save)? Did you use time as an excuse to avoid making a meal you actually love? Did you use self-blame to apologize for something which needed no apology?

This is not to say we shouldn't hold ourselves to high standards, nor should we allow ourselves to simply forgive every misstep, but rather to discover ways we self-blame, self-shame, and negotiate ourselves away from joy. Life is messy business, there is no way around it, but if we are side-stepping happiness, focusing on negativity, simply in the name of an excuse then there is no excuse.

I'll use creative-types for an example but I trust if this is not your niche you can apply it elsewhere in your life. I see so many bloggers apologize for being human, for not posting as often as they expect themselves to, for being distracted by life - this self-blame and drawing attention to something that, honestly, most people completely understand, only distracts from your perfection as a maker, writer, creative, chef, or contributor.

Instead of self-blame focus that energy on self-nourishment. For instance: You feel as though you're behind on you're blog writing, therefore, instead of writing about how you're behind on your blog, use that time and energy for an even better post for the next time. Using energy to create is a gift to yourself and the world - it is a way to give and see beauty, a way to find balance, and a way to express perfection even in the trials, errors and flaws.

So many things we view as perfect are imperfect on purpose, because they are seeking to identify with that organic, passionate, centered perfection that is willing to embrace mistakes, willing to evolve, willing to trust in the process of innovating without mistakes. The post-it note was a failed adhesive, play-doh was supposed to be a wallpaper cleaner - the people who came up with these things, or how to use them, didn't let excuses get in the way of the perfection that was inherently there...conversely, they highlighted and recognized the value already there.

So instead of allowing yourself the time to whine about having a messy house, a tight budget, or a busy life consider instead your perfections, your fulfilled life, your creativity to make things work, your inherent perfection in imperfection.


Gretta (remember Gretta, with the goats?) came over the other day to drop off some samples of her soaps. We're working on getting them photographed and made available on the internet. As I was looking at everything I noticed a bar with a deep dent in it, then remarked how I needed a "more perfect" bar to work with.

I despised saying this, loathed noticing and regretted even more the explanation - that we need the "most perfect" samples for product shots - which, while true, is exactly the opposite of why I love Gretta's soaps. I love the texture in her soap bars. I love the way they often curve up on the sides making them easier to hold. I love that she didn't let packaging, logos or branding stop her from starting, from just getting out there and making a great product for people. Everything I love about Gretta and her products is the complete opposite of seeking that mass-market, perfect-every-time model - and there is no reason to make excuses for the perfectly imperfect handmade soaps she makes.

If you are an artist of any sort, please don't let materials, opinions or distractions stop you from creating.

If you are a cook or baker, please don't let others' preferences in taste stop you from trying new combinations or techniques.

If you are a mother, please don't let others' parenting styles stop you from doing what you know is best for your child.

If you are a woman, of color, any religion, sexual preference or in any way marginalized, please don't let others' misguided thoughts, opinions, or ignorance stop you from being perfect as you are.

If you are a writer, please don't let grammar hold you back from expressing yourself and telling your stories.

If you are worker please don't let politics, boredom, or pay stop you from being the best you can be at what you do.

If you are human, please don't let excuses stop you from being, creating, and seeing perfection in imperfection.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recipe: (Slightly) Spicy Creamy Corn, Roasted Pepper Chowder

For every divine, borderline sweltering day we've had lately we've been met with another chilly, cardigan wearing, shuffle-about in slippers day. It's been quite the balance, ebb and flow of summer to spring transition. One day the Coq au Vin I've made for dinner with friends seems too heavy for the heat, the next day a Niçoise Salad seems not warm enough for the chill.

CornSoup

We have had one clear winner though: a corn soup. A chowder, I suppose. Asked to make it twice in a week is a winner in my book....especially considering I have tried and failed to master a corn based soup worth keeping for well over a year. Something always seems to fall short with corn soup for me - be it lack of flavor or too much. Finally though, we seem to have found a winner.

What did it take to find success? A little heat, and a few key complimentary vegetables to round out the flavor. Well, and I suppose bacon/pork, but I think it could do without just fine (though I'm not sure my husband would be as big a fan).

CornSoup3

One of the funny little treats we have as the crops begin to grow and the promise of open air markets looms, is cleaning out last year's finds and treasures from the freezer. I was pretty thrilled to discover a heaping full bag of the sweetest corn I've ever tasted waiting in the freezer. Adding in some of our CSA ham and tomatoes from our garden set my wheels to spinning. A quick pantry scan yielded onions, garlic, a potato and a jar of roasted red peppers. A few more additions and we ended up with a tasty corn soup that was as filling as it was flavorful.

You could make this with easily grocery fare - canned stewed tomatoes, fresh or frozen corn, or roast your own peppers if you like. If you happen to have frozen tomatoes though, this is a great application. If you'll recall I freeze mine whole, peel and all. When it comes time to use them I let them defrost a bit on the counter or in a bath of lukewarm water. As they defrost the skin will peel right off.  A couple seconds of popping off peels and a quick dice and you have un-stewed tomatoes.

Regardless,  I think you'll enjoy the sweet-spicy mix and hearty meal this simple soup makes. My dear friend showed up the day after I made this and the leftovers became a point of contention - a battled upon find in the fridge, though I think I was the one most devastated when my husband polished off a final hearty serving.

CornSoup2

Spicy-Creamy Corn and Roasted Pepper Chowder

1 thick slice country ham, cubed
      OR 1/2 lb bacon cut into 1/2 inch slices
      OR 1 large ham hock*
1 medium onion, diced
1 large baking potato, diced/cubed
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 lbs (2 x 16 oz bags) frozen corn (still frozen) (you can use fresh as well)
1 x 14oz can stewed tomatoes with water/juice
      OR 1.5 lbs frozen tomatoes, peel, chop and save the juices
1 cup stock of choice (ham stock is prefered but you can use vegetable or chicken)
1 jar roasted red peppers, diced
1/2 cup water + 1 large chipotle pepper in adobo, pulverized**
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp fresh chopped chives
2 tbsp adobo seasoning (start with 1 tbsp)***
1 cup cream (you can use a fuller-fat milk as well)

* For ham hock add at step 5 and cook until fall apart tender, take out of soup, shred and add meat back into soup.

** Using an immersion blender or food processor add chipotle and water together and pulverize until thoroughly incorporated/chopped. Usually the chipotle in adobo is in the south american foods section of a grocery.

*** Adobo seasoning can be heavy on the salt so if you are on a salt-restricted diet or don't prefer salty flavors you might be better off making your own or using a low-salt version. If you can't find adobo at your store you can easily make your own as well.

  1. Heat a deep, thick bottomed pot on medium heat. Add country ham and brown slightly on all sides, set aside. If using bacon: cook thoroughly until crispy or nearly so, set aside and leave rendered fat in pan.

  2. Add onions to rendered fat and sauté until transparent. If you are not using meat or have no rendered fat simply use a tablespoon of olive oil.

  3. Add cubed potato and cook on reduced heat with onions for 5 minutes, stiring often. Add oil if needed.

  4. Increase heat back to medium and add garlic - stir for 15-20 seconds.

  5. Add remainder of ingredients (including reserved ham/bacon) EXCEPT cream, bring to a boil. Reduce to an active simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are appropriately tender - depending on your potato you may need more time.

  6. Add cream, 1/4 cup at a time until a consistency/creaminess you prefer. Taste and add more adobo for flavor if needed.
Don't forget - if you need a conversion chart you can always download/print one here!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Weekend Reads: The Left Behind edition

    This week brought out a whole lot of crazy, and while I, personally am not planning on going anywhere (as I don't believe the end of times bus is making a stop), some do...which provides near endless fodder. And fodder there was- from zombies to left-behind looting, to non-believer pet sitting volunteerism and epic playlists (see: this post by my friend Jackie, a foul mouthed, educated, daughter of a believer - you've been warned).  I have to say though, I'm pretty sure my twitter followers and friends will be glad to have the apocalypse over and done with so they can get a reprieve from my banter. If, somehow I was wrong though at least I went out laughing - because I laughed a LOT this week.

    Unrelated to the rapture there were also other discoveries and "breakthroughs".

    It's now legal to catch catfish with your bare hands in Texas...which seems like an excellent choice of recreational activity if your school books aren't educating you and you've grown bored of attending classes. Also, a superb use of tax money, as removing all the textbooks from libraries has rendered them irrelevant and therefore needing less capital. It also seems like a really fun, new-old way to lose a finger. Forget carpentry, this way you get a meal out of your appendage losses.

    Noodle it over with some images and videos...then have a fish fry. Nothing like another fabulous disservice to the reputation of southerners. Sarcastic yay.

    The World Beard and Mustache Championships were last week....it got pretty hairy in there (pun and subsequent groan intended). Fact: More than 600 pounds of beard wax was used during the competition. Fact: The aforementioned use of the word fact was a fallacy, but it could happen...Actual fact: It was held in Amish Country. I can't even make this stuff up anymore. I give up.

    Now might be a good time to plug the etched mustache pint glasses I made my husband for Christmahanakwanzikah...that are an excellent idea for Father's Day...

    I'm still saddened that the Fu Manchu winners came from nowhere close to any Asian state, province, or country but I'll go cry in my hubby's underwiskered Garibaldi full beard about it later. Luckily the Lumberjack World Championships haven't occurred yet this year, so there is still something to look forward to...

    More images of excellence in facial manscaping to be found here and here.

    Lest you think humanity is perched on the precipice of the downward slide with no handrails I give you the "romance isn't dead it just isn't your boyfriend/spouse/life partner/J-date" links...

    Like the movie preview marriage proposal.

    Or the written in sand, washed away to the sea but you'll be mine forever proposal.

    Ok, actually that's all I've got...marriage proposals. Which is sort of sad because to be perfectly honest I think being married rocks, it just isn't epic huge, show the world with glitter every single day. Maybe next week though. I'll tape my husband doing dishes, you'll see, movie proposals are so "Gone in 60 Seconds", but spot-free glassware is for-ev-er.

    Finally, Jamie Oliver and I share a birth week, which is a further testament to how awesome Jamie Oliver is. Sadly though, we are both very well adjusted - mostly because Ruth Bourdain isn't our birth mother. Shame really. A good amount of crazy makes for such excellent writing/resources/therapy bills. That's ok, she/he is still a winner.

    And so are you. Winner, Winner, tofurky dinner - all of you.

    Have a great weekend - laugh heartily on the way to the pearly gates, pearly whites are a great admission ticket. Speaking of which, I have a dentists appointment tomorrow. I'm first in line St. Peter!

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    52 Pickup: Not in That Shirt!

    Remember, all 52 pickups are open to interpretation. My interpretation might not be the same as yours - make it yours, make it a mantra, make it life lived well.
    This week the pickup is:

    Seriously. When is the last time you dressed up - really dressed up? For yourself. Wore something you love and that looks great on you but for no occasion. Not for an interview, a big meeting, work or others. Not for a date, a performance, or a better restaurant dinner? When is the last time you dressed fabulously just for you?

    Fabulous, of course, being a relative term. You can start small. If you are a work-from-home person, full time mom, or a retiree who wears yoga pants all the time, maybe today is the day to switch to a skirt, or those jeans that make you feel really great. If you dress up for work every day but find yourself in a rut maybe today is the day you think about adding some personality to your button-down shirt and slacks with an accessory or two. Maybe you dress pretty wonderfully all the time but have forgotten some wonderful shoes in the back of your closet.

    Or maybe you rarely get dressed at all anymore. Maybe you're depressed, sick, apathetic, tired. Today, put some clothes on...any clothes, and a pair of shoes. If that's all you can do, that's ok. Go lie down again if you need to but you've made a great first step.

    In reality this isn't about clothes - it's about investing in yourself. No, I don't mean expensive clothes - I mean taking the time to do something for you, taking that first step towards feeling great (or feeling normal again). 

    So sometime this week stop yourself at the door. Give a little "Oh no you're not! Not in that shirt/shoes/pants!" reprimanding to yourself and take a moment for yourself. The power of a great pair of pants has little to do with the actual pants and a whole lot to do with how you feel, what you exude, and how your attitude improves. If all it takes are pants to make the day better then by all means, wear the pants!


    Truth be told I had a few rounds in the ring with our old friend postpartum depression after I had my daughter. There were days I changed from one set of pajamas to another and other days where I didn't even get that far.

    I finally started forcing myself to get dressed. Every day. No matter what. Including shoes - ok, actually sometimes slippers but, close enough. Some days just getting dressed was enough, others I would go out, do something. Each day was adding a little more, investing in myself (and, benefiting my family) a little more.

    Thankfully that hurdle feels like it is long in the past now but even on days where I know we're not going anywhere we still get dressed, still make an effort, still take the time to be decent to ourselves - kiddo and I, hubby too. The dogs hate clothes so fine, they are exempted. 

    Yesterday I added a great accessory to my outfit, today a shirt I love. Some days it is more than clothing - going the extra distance, but each day, a little something.

    When is the last time you took that time for yourself, got dressed up or wore something you loved?
     Change your shirt, change your attitude, make the world a little better...

    We have a winner: We Heart Paper Giveaway

    Ok friends! We have a winner! After delays and hiccups we finally have a reliable blogger platform again and a randomly drawn entrant, number 19, "gac85".

    If you are the lucky winner (I think I might know who you are) go ahead and email me your info and we'll get your lovely cards sent out!

    Thanks everyone for participating and your great comments!

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Weekend Reads: The Rapture Readiness edition

    It's come to my attention that the end of world is scheduled for this Saturday. At six. Since I don't actually know what time zone that was for you might want to be ready for Friday around 6:00 in case it starts in China.

    Although, I should mention, there might have been a misinterpretation of the etymological underpinnings of the ancient Mayan info and we might actually not be experiencing the rapture, but rather "the raptor", as illustrated here. Personally, I'm prepared. I've watched "How to Train Your Dragon" enough times to know that a little kindness with hulking reptilians goes a long way.

    In order to prepare for possible, maybe, imminent demise I've made some preparations. Using The Burning House blog for inspiration, I've pillaged my house to determine just what to pack for the journey (because obviously, I have a first class ticket).

    Writing tools. Manual mode. The "computer" doesn't need a power source and comes with a super duper cute suitcase so, *hair flip*, it's a no-brainer.

    A plush toy to buy off any Raptors. This one has opalescent wings so I feel it's got a little something extra over standard raptor bribe toys.

    Also, a model spaceship - that way I'll have a guide in case mine needs any repairs. This one even comes with some little model people so we can do role playing. I'm hand crafting some hats for the models much like in this reference material.

    Some reading material:

    Hyperspace - I haven't opened it but maybe it has maps.  
    Cradle to Cradle - I mean that makes sense, right?  
    Language, Existence and God - I think all of these will be pretty crucial when ending the world.
    2000 Most Obscure Challenging and Obscure Words - I'll finally have some time for this one.
    If the Buddha Came to Dinner - In case I have to throw any dinner parties in the after world I think I'll need a guide - not sure I can throw something together on the fly when serving dieties.
    The Book of Answers - I have a feeling this will get loaned out and never returned.


    A collection of dieties and religious reference material- you never know who you're going to meet, best to be prepared. Plus, two of my dieties are the "destroyer of obstacles" and one is supposed to bring cash, money, bling-bling and happiness. I'm ok with them coming and hanging out in my purse in case...

    A really old light meter and a hat. I don't know which direction we're going in - to or from the sun, so I'll bring a hat and some photo preparedness. I'll be bringing my camera too but try as I might, I spun around in circles for an hour and just couldn't get a good shot of it...

    Noshes.
    The fruity, citrus taste of Sauvignon Blanc really speaks to the occasion, no?

    Cream Soda. I'm positive the rapture tastes like vanilla, you cannot convince me otherwise.

    Biscoff, because seriously, the two pack they give you on the plane is never enough. I might pop to the store and pick up another sleeve...

    And glittery exaggerated cat eye glasses. They aren't my prescription but once I drink up that bottle of wine and only have cookies to eat I'll be lit like an Ab Fab character – might as well dress the part.

    Not pictured? My "Stop Hammer Time" t-shirt. I'll be wearing it.

    Now, hypothetically, I could miss the flight. In which case I'll be participating in some other activities. Namely: looting for cool cameras and coffee cans filled with cash.

    If you would like to join me there are ample opportunities....

    On Facebook, for example.


    You can click the button on the left for me!

    Or Craigslist.


    I saw someone on Twitter was having a party and bringing clam dip. How could you miss that?

    I've also written a playlist. This was difficult. I was faced with the perplexing decision of giving my musical accompaniment a theme - and should it be tragic or excited? Melancholy or amped-up? Wistful, filled with Sarah Mclachlan-esque songs a la "I will Remember You" that pop up every year around graduation time – 18 year olds holding hands and making teary eyes thinking they'll be "best-friends-forever-ever" before venturing off and realizing the rest of life is SO MUCH MORE AWESOME?

    Sorry. I got carried away.

    Anyway. After a moment of thought (literally, it was only a moment), it became clear to me there was really only one way to begin my playlist to the key of Rapture...with "I'm So Excited" by The Pointer Sisters.

    Ob.vi.ous.ly.

    And no, R.E.M never had a chance with that grating "End of the World As We Know it" business...

    Other items on my playlist of doom? I mean I don't actually love all these but you know, I offer them in case they are selections you want to add...also, I'm isolating to hip hop/rap because otherwise we would be here until the literal end of the world.

    Say Goodbye - The Black Eyed Peas (the old, good version of The Black Eyed Peas) 
    Stop Being Greedy - DMX. I'm dedicating this to the hoarders and looters.
    Spaceship - Kanye West. What's up Xenu? Bring it.
    Beware the Boys (normal or Jay-Z Remix) - Panjabi MC. Because if I don't have some Panjabi/Indian/Asian rap at my final dance party I will lose it...
    Hey Ma - Cam'ron. Lyrically this is quintessential end of the world activity.
    Music - the Rick Sermon and Marvin Gaye mix. Again, no Marvin Gaye at the end of the world? Unheard of.
    The entire Michael Jackson compendium. Actually no. None of that whiny stuff, just the dance floor beats. If I don't include this someone will inevitably request it and we'll be out of luck, so I'll throw it on the mix for the after hours part of the party, or for when everyone is all ho-hum glum and need to get up and dance. Either/or.

    NOT on my playlist? Grease Lightening. Seriously people.

    I also have some picket signs I've been working (not hard) on. Feel free to borrow and print any you'll need:






    Hopefully this leaves you a little more prepared for the apocalypse. Enjoy your trip...or treasures a-plundered. 

    Visiting the Farm: Goats, Soap, and Friendly Faces

    Goat_White_Pygmy

    For what seemed like both an eternity and a nanosecond it was gloriously, gorgeously summer here. Hot, hot, hot, dipped our toes in the sand/ lake/and grass, drinks with ice cubes, open windows with billowing breezed curtains, simply divine.

    Then, as all things do, it came to an end, again. Such is life in the upper midwest.

    MoveAlong

    With all that sunlight and outdoor time the confinement and cold made us all a little itchy to be back outside, basking. Since that simply wasn't possible we did the second best thing - we took a quick field trip to the farm to visit my friend Gretta's goats - and lucky for us Gretta and her husband were there as well!

    HappyFarmer
    Gretta is in the process of building her little goat empire - right now making uncommonly scrumptious smelling goat's milk soaps. She also makes to-die-for fresh goat's milk cheeses, but, the dairy industry especially, has hoops, hurdles, and an abundance of trials to work your way through (monetarily and otherwise), so for now we get to simply enjoy her savory yields at "book club" (hint: no one reads the book).

    Goat_White_Pygmy2

    The sweet pygmy's that Gretta is raising couldn't be cuter - they love a good scratch behind the ears, can't get enough of their treats, are playful as puppies, and, in the case of the fiber-producing ones, are rabbit-y soft.

    Farm_Goats2

    We're lucky to have a place that provides a few warm smiles even when the weather turns cold again...but numb hands make for quick trips so we'll have to visit longer once the sun stays higher in the sky.

    Farm_Goats3

    Sorry to say you can't get Gretta's awesome soaps online yet - but we're working on that! I'll let you know more details as they are available!

    Now you can get Gretta's soaps online at Grettasgoats.com!

    GoatMilkSoap