Home Grown Mint Cookie Ice Cream

Last weekend we broke in our ice cream maker. It was a wedding gift and really needed to be put to good use. We perused ice cream flavors and settled on homemade mint with crushed cookies. I found a few variations and eventually make my own take. Verdict: awesome! The mint flavor of freshly extracted mint is not like store bought or mint extract…it is much earthier and floral. Perfect for enjoying after a farm fresh meal. Even better out of antique bowls.

Garden Mint Cookie Ice Cream

2 cups cream

2 cups whole milk

3 egg yolks (though next time we plan to use 5)

1 cup sugar

2 cups fresh mint leaves and flowers

1 pinch salt

Crushed oreos or other sandwich cookies (we used Newman’s Own)

1. In saucepan, combine 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk. Add mint leaves and flowers. Heat until steaming and then turn off heat. Let sit 3o mins. Then reheat to steaming and let sit another 15 mins.

2. Pour mint liquid through a strainer to remove leaves. Return liquid to saucepan.

3. Add sugar and salt to the mint mixture and heat until just steaming. Temper egg yolks and add. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 10 mins.

4. Remove from heat and add in remaining 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk (both cold). This will stop the cooking. Put mixture in fridge for at least an hour before putting in ice cream maker.

Churn in ice cream maker for 20 mins or until nearly done. Add cookies and churn until desired consistency.

Enjoy! 

Homemade Weekend

Saturday morning, finally a weekend sleeping in at home! We went to the farmers market, came home for a pancake brunch in the back yard, then embarked on an epic array of kitchen creations. I canned some pickled beets, made homemade mint oreo ice cream (from our fresh mint!), and Matt pulled out all the stops on a huge rack of ribs. Yum yum!

This was my inaugural foray into canning. I have helped my mom in the past, read a thousand blog posts and recipes, and watched others do it, but this was ME solo canning for the first time. It probably would have gone more smoothly if I had canning tongs, and maybe read the recipe all the way through, and maybe not tried to make ice cream at the same time, and yea, a cleaner kitchen would have helped. All in all though it was a success! I prepared 3 lbs of island grown beets in a beautiful apple cider honey sauce. The canning went ok. One jar exploded through the bottom seconds after it went in the pot (still not sure why) but the other three are sitting on the counter with cleanly “pinged” lids. Success! I had a few too many beets for a 5th jar so just left those out to eat. So excited for the next canning adventure!

We are enjoying the sunshine, and time to do projects. Before the summer ends we are trying to finish the back and front deck paint, paint the rest of the garden shed, and get a few other odds and ends finished up. And we are getting chickens!!! We have been planning chickens for ages, but have not found time to make a coop (surprise surprise). Last week though a friend from grad school posted that she needed to re-home her ladies, coop and all! I jumped on it, and it sounds like we are going to get to adopt these four chucking hens!

Speaking of critters, our current kitty ladies both got baths today. Yes, baths. As in soap, water and yowling. They are pretty and fluffy and all set to snuggle though!

Our garden is in its peak. We harvested a rainbow of goodies today.

  •                 Red tomatoes (3 varieties!)
  •                 Orange/pink/red/yellow chard
  •                 Yellow cherry tomatoes
  •                 Green Spanish beans
  •                 Bright Green peppermint
  •                 Purple jalapenos

…and some dried sweet pea seeds and flowers

It is a beautiful summer weekend on the island.

 

Moving to China

Well, china dishes that is :)

When Matt and I met we each had a set of dishes. I had some ceramic blue swirly ones, he had a mismatches set of vintage 70s era patterns. Both sets have served us well but we also inherited two sets of china…one from my great Grandmother, Ease, and a set from Matt’s grandmother, Elaine.

Now it seems that most inherited china is floral or gold or really fragile or ulgy…ie: sits in a cabinet for the until Christmas, is taken out once a year, fussed over, then stored again for another year. Or just not used at all. We lucked out with two sets of china that we LOVE, so much that we decided that they will be our everyday dishes. After all, they were our grandmother’s everyday dishes so why not us?

Last night I cleaned out the two sets of old dishes to make room for the china. We carefully unpacked, stacked and organized them into the cabinet. I could not stop looking at them! Ease’s dishes are vintage Johnson Brothers blue and white while Elaine’s are solid white with a petite pattern on the edges. Together they are a perfect matched/mismatched set! And also go perfectly with some bowls we got as a wedding gift.

So bring on the meals! Bring on the dinner parties, holidays, pizza nights and oatmeal mornings. We are celebrating with family heirlooms that are just too precious and beautiful to keep locked in a cabinet.

PNW Summer Adventure: Camping, Wedding & Anniversary in the North Cascades

The moment our laundry was done it was packed up again for another weekend adventure. Towels were crammed into our beach bag, tents folded, cooler stocked…we were off for an anniversary/wedding/camping weekend in the North Cascades!

Our first stop was a visit at my parents in Ferndale. We played croquet, ate tons of food, explored the garden, visited with visiting grandparents and cousins, prepped camping meals and had some good down time. And I made pie crust. Sour cream super easy and amazingly delicious pie crust!

Early Friday morning we jumped in the car (only an hour later than planned…) and drove out Hwy 20 to North Cascades National Park. It was a glorious day for a drive! Our goal was a campsite at the Colonial Creek Campground. After one loop around the campground we began to get nervous…there were hardly any empty sites left! We managed snag a private site with HUGE trees…not exactly riverfront but still pretty nice. Our mini looked tiny next to those trees!

After setting up camp and filling water bottles we packed our for our first hike: Diablo Lake. 7.5 miles from the Diablo Dam all the way up to Ross Lake’s dam. Beautiful hike, saw only 4 other people. Perfect! We were hot and dusty from our hike, and with no showers at the sites what were we to do? Swim in the lake of course! Yes, we were a little nuts to jump in the FRIDGID glacial waters (hey, the color looks like the Caribbean!) but it felt so good!

 

Dinner was epic. Homemade buffalo kabobs with mushrooms, peppers and onions. Completed with corn on the cob, cucumber salad and champagne we have been saving from our wedding. With plastic camping wine glasses we toasted to two years of marriage!

 

The next morning we made pancakes and geared up for another hike, this time on the Thunder Creek trail. We trekked two miles along a beautiful river, crossed a bridge, and then made our way back to camp…to grab swimsuits and chacos! With our water –adventuring attire we ventured back down the path until we found a side trail to take us to the water. We waded across the wide, sparkling (ahem, FREEZING!!!) river to a beautiful rock sandbar. We splashed and swam and bodysurfed rapids until we could not feel our legs. It was SO COLD! But the sunshine was warm and we dried off quickly. Swimming in glacial rivers really makes you feel alive!

 

Refreshed and clean, we put on wedding clothes and drove over to the North Cascades Learning Center for my good friend and old apartment-mate’s wedding! Too much wine, a canoe-full of beer, lots of food, many friends I had not seen in ages, and topped off with karaoke…it was a fun night.

The next morning, not so fun. Poor Matt was cursed with a camping hangover. While he recovered I broke camp and loaded up the car for our drive back to Seattle. A quick stop at Costco for groceries, some gelato and a hot dog to share (great hangover food) filled every last space in the car. We managed to pull into the ferry line just as one was starting to load. Great timing!

As always, it felt so good to be home. We cleaned and unpacked. Watered the garden and visited with the kitties. And to celebrate our actual 2 year anniversary, we had leftover kabobs in the back yard. Matt gave me an antique sapphire necklace from the antique store on Vashon. 

Two years. It has been great. What a glorious end to an epic PNW summer weekend.

 

PNW Summer Adventure: Kayak Camping on Skagit Island

Friday was a milestone in our household: Matt’s final day at a job he really did not like. We had a cinnamon roll date to celebrate, and then took a final water taxi ride home together in the sunshine excited and light with this dark cloud lifted. What is next for him? We are not sure! For the moment house projects, relaxing and job searching. The goal? Take a break and figure out what he could really enjoy.

We spent the evening in a mad dash of packing, sorting, organizing and loading the car for a weekend adventure. Sea kayak camping!

The 6:25 boat pulled in with a stunning sunrise. We celebrated with a stop at the Original Bakery for bran muffins. Driving in Seattle is usually a miserable experience, but at that early morning weekend hour we zipped through town and up I-5 all the way to Deception Pass. And got their earlier than the rest of our group so we waited. And poached good waterfront parking spots.

When Ryan and Matt (not my Matt, another one) showed up with boats and dry bags it was another yard sale of stuff to pack up the boats. Everything fit, and when we were loaded and suited up it was time to push off! Our first real kayak adventure! Matt and I were in a double and Matt and Ryan each had a single.

It was a 2 mile paddle out to Skagit Island from the marina, and when we landed on the beach the campsite was occupied. Luckily the people camping were on their final day so we just hung around until they left. The site was epic!!! When we read “primitive site” we were expecting bare bones, and it turned out to have an outhouse, picnic table, fire ring AND waterfront views from the tents. SO AWESOME! There was a trail around the whole island and it was our private retreat for the next two days.

The first night we cooked dinner, made a fire (regretted that we did not bring smore’s stuff), played games and then I went to bed early. The boys all stayed up to play more games, watch stars and saw bioluminescence in the water!

We woke up to fog. Beautiful filtered light on our private island. Freeze dried breakfast pouch was on the menu and coffee from our inherited camping coffee pot. Nothing beats good coffee when you are camping!

With camp set we were able to go on a daytime paddle without extra weight. We took off around the North side of the Kukutali Preserve, and then headed south to Hope Island. A beach provided the perfect relaxing spot for lunch, exploration and naps before we headed back to Skagit Island. The scenery was beautiful. The water was nearly calm as a lake. Perfect paddling day.

After landing boats back on our island we headed out for a hike. The trail took us through thick salal, alongside waterfront cliffs, through a madrona forest, a dry desolate rock face and finally back through thick salal to our campsite. Great trek! The boys collected firewood while I took photos.

So now what do we do? Downtime on these camping trips is always the best part. The boys immediately all turned into 8 year olds tackling projects. Matt and Ryan went about making fire with sticks. My Matt moved driftwood around the beach to make a raft. He eventually called out for someone to come play with him so I joined my sweet husband on the raft in the FREEZING cold water of Skagit Bay. We had a ball!

Dinner that night was another camping freeze dried meal (I was really excited to try these!) of spaghetti and meat sauce. It was great! That was followed by more games, sunset watching, campfire and beach star gazing.

In the morning I woke up to eagle calls overhead. No fog, just brilliant sunshine that made the tent unbearably hot. Guess that is the price you pay for waterfront property!

We took the morning slow but eventually packed the boats and headed back towards Deception Pass and ultimately, home. After tying the boats up, sorting out wet gear and packing the cars, we celebrated a great weekend with burger and shakes at the Chuck Wagon Drive-In in Mt. Vernon. Great end to an epic weekend.

….

Now we are off on another adventure! The gear has been aired out, laundry done and the car packed once again. We are off to the North Cascades for a wedding and our 2 year anniversary weekend camping!

STITCH FIX REVIEW: FIX #4

Back for a summertime fix!

Since this is my 4th box, and there is not really anything I feel I need in my closet right now, it was really just for fun. I also had some remaining referral credit (thanks ladies!) to use so I figured, why not get another box?

When I opened this one initially a few pieces really caught my attention…for both good and bad. There was a dress in a soft teal pattern and I was really excited to try it on. And a BRIGHT magenta shirt that I knew was out from the first second. So I went into my mini fashion show with mixed feelings (and a ton of BBQ party prep-to-dos on my mind!) and ultimately found one winner in the bunch. Ready for the rundown?!

GRETCHEN STRIPED RAGLAN SWEATSHIRT
I liked this but the color aIMG_9780fixnd style, but was not a fan of the exposed edge seam stitching. Not quite polished enough. It was super soft and cozy though and only $28 so to avoid losing the $20 style fee I used $8 of my credit to keep it. It will make a good casual weekend top.

 

ALISON SLEEVELESS COLORBLOCK DRESS
I liked the color and the idea of this dress, but it was just too short and not flattering enough for mybottom half. I felt like it chopped me in half.

IMG_9808fix

 

 

OHARA FAUX WRAP
TIE-WAIST DRESS

I really wanted to like this dress. I love the color and style. Ultimately I sent it back since it did not feel like it would stand up to much use. The material was pretty thin and light and pill prone. Not what I am looking for when I invest in my wardrobe.IMG_9803fix

 

 

 

 

WITHERFORD COLORBLOCK PLEAT DETAIL BLOUSE
I do not like these huge swingy tops. If I was pregnant…maybe, but I am not so away it goes. The shoulders were cut well and I liked the idea, but this was not IMG_9788fixsomething I would wear. Nice material though! This felt like a quality piece.

 

 

 

 

IZZIE ASYMMETRICAL BUTTON FROIMG_9794fixNT COTTON CARDIGAN
Really did not like this one at all. It felt poorly made and was a really bad color for me. Just a bad fit all around. No thank you.

 

 

 

 

So only one piece worked in this fix. And honestly without the referral credit I would have probably sent them all back. Still, it was fun and I got a new top that I have been wearing all day. It is really cozy and will turn into a new go-to hangout top. Woohoo!

 

Want to give Stitch Fix a try?  If you do, please use my referral link  :)

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3354856

PDX: Channel Your Inner Hipster

Hipster I am not. I would venture to say that hippie is more my style, but even that does not quite fit. Vashonite does. Again, hipster: not so much…and this week it was obvious! I spent two day in Portland for work and boy did I feel like I stuck out! I spent a meal texting my best friend in Madison, WI, about the awkwardness and we at least decided that my bangs were an asset.

Oh Portland, what a wonderful city. Friendly people, amazing food, great cocktails, awesome public transportation and yep, a great close flight from Seattle.

On Tuesday I visited with good friends from my masters program at BGI, going out for good food and good drinks. I learned that house punch of the day is a major “thing” at least in the places we went. Served in course in vintage pressed glass cups. I am pleased to report that pickleback is also now part of my vocabulary.

Wednesday I was at work events all day, with a few hours in the afternoon to find my hotel, grab dinner and pop into a few neat shops downtown. I texted my friend Alana for a dinner suggestion and found myself at what felt like the ultimate “Portland” place: Clyde Common. Communal tables, an esoterically vague and intriguing menu (thanks for the description inspiration Jenny!) and a very ironically hipster wait staff. Thank goodness I felt cool with my new bright orange clutch and bangs. Only JUST cool enough to pull off a solo dinner though.

Dinner was amazing: a happy hour green salad with a super good dressing alongside a lemon/ginger/honey cocktail. Super summery…great for the 90+degree day. I was seduced by many things on the menu, but ultimately went with a plate of pickled beef lips with marrow cream and cucumbers and a plate of raw cow milk cheese with honey, rhubarb compote and beet bread. And why not apricot upsidown cake for dessert? It was such a good meal. I just wish I could have shared it with someone else!

After such a long, hot day I feel quickly asleep in my airconditioned hotel room. Sweet talking the desk clerk got me a great room on the 21st floor of the Hilton with a stunning view of the West Hills. But I did not sleep too well. I never do without Matt.

Two days was enough and it was time to go home. Thrusday was a MAX ride to the airport followed by the short flight back to Seattle.

It was 20 degrees cooler and much more comfortable when we landed! I worked for the afternoon and then met Matt in Georgetown for a great dinner date (thank you Travelzoo coupon deal!) at Via Tribunali. Then a quick zip in a car2go back to West Seattle in time to catch the ferry home. HOME! Ah, nothing beats it.

This weekend is the Strawberry Festival on Vashon and we are not leaving the island. Not that we would want to with all the fun stuff happening…but if we tried it is a nightmare ferry line. We plan to go the parade, eat street food, shop for some local art and prepare for our summer BBQ next weekend. Busy weekend ahead!