Kir Royale- New Cocktail for the New Year

Dry White Wine + Crème de Cassis = Kir
Dry Champagne + Crème de Cassis = Kir Royale

This was the perfect choice for a celebratory New Year’s Eve cocktail, we all liked it! Perfect for a party yet fuss free.

I’m all for the crossroads where easy meets sophisticated. And if you don’t care for sweets in general, this is your drink. Stick to a 1:4 ratio of cassis to champagne to keep the liqueur’s sweetness in the background, and use the more dry champagne (Brut) or wine (Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc).

Read up at TheKitchn.com for more info, that’s where I found the directions and ratios- Kir and Kir Royale: Two Iconic French Wine Cocktail.

Wishing you all the best in 2016!

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Good Old Friends and Complete Silliness

What happens when you put a family of five into an SUV for thirty hours of nearly straight-through driving to visit their old friends and attend the Rose Bowl? They have fun. We helped our old friends get their wiggles out by putting them through our Tourist Treatment, specially constructed for Hoosiers.

You get some terribly centered selfies…

Some Christmas Card worthy photos…

 

A whole LOT of drinking…

 

And pics that were as much fun to see and share as the whole day.

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Seven years ago we were all canoeing on Sugar Creek in central Indiana:

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And this is the ridiculousness into which we have degraded:

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“Look, Mrs. J! I bet she’s not wearing any undies!”

 

 

 

 

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men -or- Exceeding Expectations

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
adapted from “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns

-Date Nights
-Book of the Month
-Monthly Project

What happened to my goal of trying a new hiking route once a month? When did an Official Date Night get dropped from my monthly calendar of new stuff? The Monthly Project fell by the wayside, too, disappeared around the same time as the Book of the Month I hoped to read. I could do one, but not both.

By the time this school year picked up steam (which, in my defense included not only moving an international student into our home, but also my own teen moving north about 1,200 miles), the well planned months of new things to do seemed to go from a fun challenge to fit in everything… to darn near impossible.

Daily new things happened though, just in a slightly different way  for the second half of 2015. Even though “Date Night” never seemed to materialize, The Husband joined me in close to half of the new adventures this year. We spent the better part of the year finding new restaurants, breweries, and touristy outings, most without any teens to accompany us. What a strange occurrence this was, as for about the last 18 years nearly every activity has been a family activity. We all went to sporting events, concerts, work parties and vacations together. Now our life is different, with two freshman- one in high school and one in college.

And so, with my family growing up and away in the best ways possible, I am very glad that I started this adventure to find new things to do in 2015. Just for me. Myself. I had forgotten how much fun comes with novelty and curiosity and exploring. I really needed this project!!

What will 2016 bring?

 

Worthwhile Things I’ve learned- Personally or Vicariously

1.  Own a cast iron skillet. Or several. And learn how to properly use and care for them.

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2a.  Life is too short for mediocre coffee and poor wine. Buy the best you can afford.

2b. Even if it is just for you.

2c. Especially if it is just for you!

2d. Sometimes a $2.99 bottle of wine can surprise you ( in a good way). Don’t be a snot- more $$ does not necessarily equal better.

3.  If you aren’t just collecting friends like a teenager seeking validation, Facebook is really awesome.

4.  Temperature is relative- move from California to a colder clime and you’ll make fun of family for wearing sweaters when the mercury drops to 60 there. Return, and you’ll go right back to doing the same thing.

5.  A hybrid car is sooooo worth it.

6.  If you can make spaghetti sauce, baked chicken, and muffins from scratch you will never hunger and save big bucks.

7.  Real friends stay with you until the tow truck arrives (inebriated or not), or until your parents/spouse/friend can get there with spare car keys.

8.  Everyone should own at least one Hawaiian shirt. You never know when a party might break out.IMG_5604_2

9.  Electric kettles are the best!

10. So is plain, black tea. And freshly brewed iced tea.

11. Screen time is overrated. People are underrated.

12. Mom Advice that is everywhere, but we don’t appreciate until later: “The days are long but the years are short.”

cute relationship quotes
Be This Person!

13. You need a community- humans are social creatures. Join and meet regularly with at least one spiritually/socially edifying group be it a church, synagog, club, society, etc.

14. Stop being so offended by everything, people . It offends me.

15. Spend time with people who lift you up and make you want to be a better person- spiritually, mentally, emotionally. And in turn, BE that person with everyone who spends time with YOU.

16. Pop your own popcorn in a heavy pot. It’s an entirely different species than microwaved stuff.

17. Everyone thinks they are the most interesting person in the world on Pinterest. They are all wrong. I am. I can prove it:  https://www.pinterest.com/DDWJ/

18. A trick I learned from a dear and darn near holy woman: carry candy in your purse to always have on hand to share with your friends’ little ones. Guaranteed favorite adult status!

19. If you want to try something new every day (need to get yourself out of a rut? Overcome anxiety? Or just looking for some good, clean fun?) but don’t know where to start, start small. Pick one small project- a new book, decorate an area you have neglected, try a new cuisine. Don’t start with large or grandiose projects (Re-landscape front yard! Read the complete works of Shakespeare!). I guarantee you will be surprised how uplifting it can be to simply repaint your front door.

 

New Things to NOT Do Again…

#1 Take The Boy to an R Rated movie.
#2 Gain five pounds from all the new foods tried.
#3 Try to cram too much stuff into each month (a book, a project, a play, a tourist attraction, four new restaurants, four new menus, a date night, a couple of random acts of kindness, including moving one kid out of state and moving a new kid into our home… August was a bit… much).

New Recipe-Hasselback Potatoes Gratin à la Serious Eat’s J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

I intended to look up a scalloped potato recipe for tonight’s dinner with the whole fam-bamily, but got sidetracked by Facebook… Uh oh? No! The first things I came across was a New York Times Food link to one of one of my favorite food site people- J. Kenji Lopez-Alt from SeriousEats.com.

Hasselback Potato Gratin (“These Might Be the Best Potatoes Ever”)
Look at this glorious photo and click on it to link to theSeriousEats.com recipe (or click here: SeriousEats.comHasselbackPotatoGratin)

These were easy to put together with the cheese grating delegated to The Girl and potato peeling to The Husband. All I needed was my super-sharp chef’s knife (recently sharpened by my dad, thanks, dad!) to get super thin slices from my russets. Then I tossed them in the cream, salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic.

Here they are, half cooked at 400 degrees for thirty minutes, before they got shoved in a box and carted up to one of the in-law’s house:

(pretend that this is a picture of the half baked potatoes, use your imagination)

And here’s the nearly gone and mostly empty dish, the only pic I could snap of the potatoes that could net the least amount of ridicule from extended family:


These were DELICIOUS! These were unbelievably easy to prepare, travelled well half-cooked (unlike my extended family, LOLOLOL!!) and were gluten-free for the family members with Celiac to whom we wanted to show some kitchen love.

Put this recipe for Hasselback Potato Gratin on you list of new things to try next year.

Ballast Point Spirits- $1 Billion Purchase Nets More Than SoCal-Style Beer

The recent One Billion Dollar purchase of Ballast Point Brewing may have been just a blip on your local new, but here in San Diego this was Big News. San Diegans were either puffed with pride over the price tag, or horrified at the prospect of a local favorite becoming watered down for the national tastes. Ballast Point’s Sextant Oatmeal Stout is the first beer that I liked- up until I tried a stout, I thought that I just didn’t like beer… it turns out that I don’t like hops.

IMG_9787Constellation Brands Inc. not only bought some choice brews, but included in this deal are the Ballast Point Spirits- four of which are available in cans… yow! Conveniently canned mixed drinks include Fugu Bloody Mary, Three Sheets Rum & Ginger, Three Sheets Rum & Cola, and Old Grove Gin & Tonic.

This could seriously alter my adult beverage drinking opportunities!

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Handy guys deserve a good drink.

We tried the Old Grove Gin & Tonic. Could a classic mixed drink work in convenient pre-packaging? Yes. We highly recommend it. Got a little Pre-Holiday home repair going on? This is a fine occasion to serve a drink to the guy who can take apart a Roomba while doing other home repair, too. Just not too much, at least until the vacuum is fixed.