Hightlights From Summer

Since I spent most of the summer months running all over the place and being a busy little bee, I thought I would sit down and take a few moments to reflect on the past few months and some of the high points. This is something that's H A R D for me to do. When things are positive, I tend to move on from them quickly and rarely take time to sit and think back. So I'm trying to change that behavior a little bit and share some of my highlights from the summer. 

If I'm being honest, this summer felt like a giant blur. A mix of traveling, work, friends in town, weddings, moving, not moving, trying to get enough sleep, and a lot of humidity. But it also was filled with many of my favorite things (and people). I also took a giant hiatus from blogging, which was semi-intentional with how busy I had been. Blogging for me is a hobby, something I enjoy doing, and when it starts to feel like another chore I try and take a break. Also, I create most of my recipes and content on the weekends which makes it hard when you’re busy.

Like most of the seasons these days, summer felt incredibly slow when I was in the moment but when I reflect back, really flew by. Here are a few highlights from the past couple of months…

Cape Cod. When I think back on it, I'm so thankful for this trip. It came at a time when things were feeling incredibly overwhelming for me personally & professional and to be able to jump in the car and drive away was a dream, especially since G and a travel buddy planned most of the trip for us. We spent a few nights in Salem, MA, then drove to Provincetown for a few nights, and ended at a friend's home outside of Cape Cod. The whole trip was super relaxed, we were able to escape the philly heat for a few days, and just filled with a lot of love and friends. 

This was also my first time in any of these places and Salem and Provincetown were very quaint and cute. Would definitely recommend them.

House Refresh. Where we live has been quite the topic of conversation this summer. We found out in mid-summer that our current landlord was going to sell our house. We live in an up-and-coming neighborhood in philadelphia so it wasn't a complete surprise, but we tried to approach the situation with positivity. We started looking for houses, looked at a few, people were touring our house (which was extremely annoying tbh), but in the end, they sold the house to an investor who wanted a tenant and we stayed in our home. We negotiated a few improvements to the house (helllllllo garbage disposal!) and decided to make some upgrades yourselves (painting, light fixtures, new towels & shower curtain, minimizing clutter, new kitchen bits, etc.). All in all, it was quite a lot of hubbub but we're happy to save on moving costs 😎  

Friends Visiting/Visiting Friends. Some of my favorite memories this summer were made with friends visiting or traveling to see friends in other cities. We spent a weekend driving out to Pittsburg to hang with friends, play board games, and swim in our fav wave pool. On top of that, we had a handful of buds stay in our spare bedroom, which gave me an opportunity to share my favorite city, eat all the best food it has to offer, and catch up while sitting on my own sofa.

Girl Time. Adult friendships are hard, my friend. And as someone who has never had a large group of tight girlfriends, I’m always incredibly thankful for the time my friends and I carve out for one another. I feel so grateful to have found my people, even if it’s not a huge dang group of them.

Highlights this summer were our weekend away in the Catskills, venturing out of the city to the airplane pool, and a handful of happy hours, dinner dates, and ice cream meetups.

Emerging From the Fog. The biggest change that happened this summer was emerging from the fog of anxiety and depression that I found myself in for most of the beginning of the year. It's uncomfortable for me to talk about—both because mental illness is a vulnerable topic and because I don't like to bring a lot of negativity to my digital life—but it feels a little like a victory to me. It’s difficult for me to figure out what caused this change (therapy, self care, changes in attitude, work, personal growth, probably a giant mix of all of those things) but I’m just thankful to be on the other side. Every day isn’t great and honestly, some days and weeks it’s still pretty unpleasant, but I’m able to see through the fog and that feels incredibly huge to me.

Until next time xo

Recipe: Peach Shortcake

Happy first day of summer, friends!

We've already had a few weeks of summer heat and so far I've dug my toes into the sand, bbq'ed a few hot dogs (as well as had my fav summer beer), hung by the pool, and covered myself in sunscreen and/or bug repellant from head to toe. I'm hoping for more of that as the summer weekends fly by. I thought about making a summer bucket list, but might just try to chill and see what the weekends bring.

Do you have big summer plans? Vacations and trips and big ideas? I hope you do! Got a bbq where you can't show up empty handed? I can help with that!

A twist on a strawberry shortcake, we're going a little wild and adding peaches instead of berries PLUS brushing these sweet little cakes with some peach syrup. The perfect way to feed a summer crowd but easy enough to throw together. We're hitting that sweet spot.

Peach Shortcake with Whipped Cream

Yields 8-12 slices

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For peach cake syrup:
1/2 cup peach puree (made from 1-3 peaches)
2/3 granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-7 peaches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare three 9-inch round cake pans by coating in butter and a thin layer of flour.

Make your cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to remove any lumps and combine ingredients. Mix in half of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, then mix in the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the other half of the dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Split the batter evenly between the three 9-inch cake pans and bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Make your cake syrup: While the cake is baking, make your cake syrup. In a food processor, puree 1-3 peaches until you have a 1/2 cup of puree. In a small saucepan combine peach puree, sugar, and water. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolved (about 5 minutes) and remove from heat. 

Once your cakes are cooled, use a pastry brush to brush the syrup onto all over the top of them. Wait a few minutes until the syrup soaks in , then repeat. You can do this as many times as you want (I did 2-3 times), but you will have extra peach syrup.

Make your whipped cream: Place your metal mixing bowl and wire attachment in your fridge 10 minutes before you begin whisking. Add heavy cream and sugar to the bowl of the mixer. Begin whisking on low, and then gradually increase the speed until medium-high. Add in your vanilla extra. Continue to whisk until you have siff peaks (about 5-7 minutes).

Assemble the cake: place one cake on the center of a cake stand or large plate. Using a rubber spatula, spoon a third of the whipped cream into the center of the cake and spread towards the outside. Thinly slice your peaches and place them in an even layer on the whipped cream. For presentation purposes, you want to them to be all the way to the edge of the cake so you can see them once you assemble the rest of the cake. Repeat with the middle and top layer.

Store in the refrigerator or chilled space before serving. Because this is a "naked" cake, you'll want to eat the same day as the exposed cake will dry out faster.

Cocktail: Watermelon Mojito

I'm holding on the fleeting end of summer with both hands right about now. While everyone else is dreaming of sweater weather and muled cider, I'm over here buying up all the summer flowers and product I can find. It's been a busy summer (as you probably have realized by my lack of blogging) filled with road trips and beach days and a lot of rosé sipping. And as much as I can live without the horrible humidity we've had this summer in Philadelphia, I'm my happiest when it's warm and sunny. 

So in celebration of summer were whipping up the perfect summer cocktail: Watermelon Mojito. Muddled mint, fresh-squeezed lime juice and pureed watermelon shaken together with rum and a lot of ice. Essential for lazy summer days. 

Watermelon Mojito

Makes 1 cocktail

1 large handful fresh mint
1 oz lime juice
4 oz watermelon puree**
2 oz white rum
ice
lime wheel and sprig of mint for garnish (optional)

In a cocktail shaker, add large handful of fresh mint and muddle. Add in ice, lime juice, watermelon puree, and rum and shake thoroughly. Strain the cocktail over a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and a sprigs of mint. Cheers!

**To make watermelon puree, place pieces of watermelon into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and no larger pieces appear. At this point you can strain your watermelon puree if you prefer, but I never do. Store in the refrigerator. 

Summer Bucket List Review

Since Labor Day was last weekend, I thought I would sit down and write a little bit about this summer and what I knocked off my Summer Bucket List, which can be found here!

Even now that I'm an adult, summer feels special to me. It's a time to take it a little easier, make time for relaxing, make plans with friends and family, and take time for some self care. Maybe it's because I work at a college where summers are a lot less hectic and busy, or maybe it's just because I try really hard to take advantage of the warm weather but summer continues to be very special to me. And this summer was pretty darn special. I almost crossed off everything on my bucket list (!!!) so I wanted to share some of those things with you all today.

1. Go Camping: This was an easy one since G and I already had our trip to Central and Western New York to visit his family and friends already planned out when I made this Bucket List. But camping is one of my favorite things that I don't do often enough. We spent two nights camping during that trip and got to do all the camping necessities: put up our tent, cooked over a fire, made s'mores (which was also #6 on the Bucket List), woke up smelling like campfire, all the lovely things. I shared more about our trip here.

2. Make Popsicles: Well, you all know I conquered this one! At the beginning of the summer I purchased this popsicle maker and I love it. Easy to use, easy to clean. If you missed it, I shared these Peaches and Cream Breakfast Popsicles and Funfetti Cake Batter Popsicles.

3. Drink More Water: Even though I still feel like I have a long way to go with this one, I do feel like I've been drinking more water daily. I even bought two new water bottles! More than keeping up with drinking more water, I can actually notice a difference in my body and brain when I'm dehydrated, which wasn't something I could even notice before. Crazy right? Yeah, I think I'm just used to functioning in a dehydrated state so it's nice to quench that.

4. Take More Photos With My Instax: I feel like I made some headway on this one too! Though I still feel like I carry this camera around wayyyy too much for how few photos I have, I do have some great memories captured on film that I really adore. Can't wait to keep using this into the Fall.

5. Purge My House: I did a small purge in the middle of the summer, but I'm excited to really go through my house with an iron fist in the next couple of months. So I feel like I kind of checked this box, but excited to really see a significant difference in my house soon.

6. Make S'more: Happy to say we took care of this during our camping trip and I think also down the shore. Check out #1. 

7. Dress Up More: I feel a little like I should explain that for me, this goal didn't mean wearing anything specific. I wasn't looking to wear more dresses or skirts or have my hair done more. It's more that I own a good amount of clothes and I tend to get in ruts with them. Add to that the fact that it's been VERY hot and humid this summer and I feel like I can't be bothered putting on decent makeup or wearing anything more than a airy tank top and flip flops. BUT I made a conscious effort to mix and match my wardrobe, only buy pieces that I really put some thought into and really wanted, and felt good about my outfits and looks most of the summer. Three cheers for feeling good!

8. Find A New Farmer's Market: This actually happened even though I wasn't trying very hard! I had been to a few around me that weren't really doing it for me. Only a few vendors. All selling the same handful of things. But then I stubbed upon a market by G's house in West Philly, which is just lovely! It's not huge, just one side of a park, but a variety of vendors selling meat, vegetables, fruits, honey, and beautiful FLOWERS. Can't wait to go back a few more times.

9. Swim in a Swimming Hole: This is one of my favorite summer memories. While on our trip, we found a small waterfall and got to spend some time splashing around in the water, floating on the donut, and just being happy. While on this trip, we also swam in two pool-like swimming holes as well.

10. Go Ziplining: This is the only thing I didn't even remotely do. We tried to plan this a handful of times, but either our friends weren't available or the weather wasn't cooperating or it was just a bad weekend. Oh well! I'm sure the opportunity will arise someday.

And that's it! I feel like 9 out of 10 isn't too bad! One of the most important things I did this summer was eat more ice cream and frozen treats than I every had in one summer. If you've been following me on Instagram, I'm sure you've seen my addiction, which I don't plan on stopping come Fall. Though I love summer, I must confess I'm looking forward to the change of seasons and the crispness in the air that Fall brings. I'm not rushing it, I'm just excited for the change.

Recipe: Banana Pineapple Daiquiri

Just in time for the end of summer, we're making daiquiris in pineapple cups and drinking them in the afternoon post-beach day. Preferably in a hammock if you have one. As much as I'm kind of over the intense humidity and 98 degree days, I know I'll be wishing for summer in only a few months. So I wanted to make you a drink that's acceptable when you're sticky from sweat and have sand still behind your toes, but also can easily throw together when it's snowing and you need a little tropical refresher. 

If you've checked out my cocktail recipes before, you know I'm not a complicated cocktail mixologist or anything. I'm here to show you how to throw a bunch of things in a glass (or blender), give it a mix and get to relaxing. In my opinion, booze should be used for celebrating or destressing, so we need to get to the end result quick!

Banana Pineapple Daiquiri

Makes two drinks (or one pineapple cup)

2 bananas, peeled and frozen
3/4 cup pineapple (or two large pieces), frozen
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 lime, juiced
4 oz white rum (optional)

Pineapple Cup: To serve this drink in a pineapple cup, you'll need a pineapple and a pineapple corer. I have this one on Amazon and never had a problem with it. Place the corer centered over the core of the pineapple and twist the corer until you get near the bottom (about an inch or so from the bottom to be safe. If you twist too far down, you'll puncture a hole in the skin of the pineapple and you'll ruin your cup). Once you're near the bottom, twist the opposite way and pull the pineapple slices out of the skin. It makes a perfect cup and all the fruit is sliced. Store the fruit in the refrigerator or freezer. Then use a pairing knife to remove the core, which is by far the most annoying part. I just kind of hack at it until most of it is gone. Very professional. 

Just FYI, I learned about this method from A Beautiful Mess last year. It's very fun for parties.

Daiquiri: If you are using a blender, add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until bananas and pineapple are fully pureed and mixture is similar to a smoothie. You might need to stop blending and push frozen fruit down towards the blade with a spoon if blender is having trouble. Pour into two glasses or the whole thing into your pineapple cup!

If you want to use a food processor, add the frozen pineapple, frozen bananas, and about 1/3 of the coconut milk into the processor initially. Pulse until the fruit is pureed and then add the rest of the liquids and pulse until combined. I found that if I added all the liquids at once, it was hard to get the fruit as pureed as desired. Pour into two glasses or your pineapple cup!

This also makes a really refreshing smoothie, just leave out the rum!