It’s finally spring! At least, it is today. It might snow tomorrow. St. Louis weather is finicky! But, no matter what the weatherman says, I’m already preparing for spring. Our winter coats have been pushed to the back of the closet and I’m trying to decide what the best pair of flip flops for these pregnant feet will be this summer.
Here are a few products that I’m enjoying that are helping me celebrate the beginning of warmer, sunnier weather!
- Contigo Water Bottle – We bought these in a two pack at Costco and haven’t looked back. I love that this water bottle has a straw. I’ve found that having one leads to me drinking much more water throughout the day.
- LaCroix Lime – Again, purchased in a giant pack at Costco, this is a recent favorite. It’s the perfect drink to pour into a pretty glass with a slice of lime and drink on the patio after work. Since I’m off the cocktail wagon for a few more months it’s nice to have a drink that still feels fancy!
- Gentle Leader – Without the gentle leader our boys are beasts to walk. They only weigh about 20lbs each but when they aren’t being gently lead it’s hard to keep them on the path. Having one of these for each of them makes going for a quick walk a more enjoyable and frequent experience.
- Simple Human Compost Bin – Our garden is about to yield it’s first round of produce and we’re stocking up on more fresh foods at the grocery each week. As a result, the composter is back in action after a sad, slow winter. This bin is pricey, but worth every penny. We’ve used it for over a year now and I’ve never, ever, even once smelled grossness in my kitchen.
What are your favorite things this spring?
Posted by Erin on May 3, 2013
Last Friday was yard work day. Not usually my favorite day, but at least we had some lovely cool weather for it. A light sprinkle of rain in the morning helped soften the ground and loosen the roots of all those weeds that had snuck into our front garden bed. We spent hours trimming hedges, cutting back boxwoods, ripping out flowers that had seen better days, and shaping up our maple tree. Tomatillos and eggplants were pulled out of the garden boxes. The monster tomato plant that was overtaking our little lilac tree was chopped down. We dug carrots out of cool black dirt. We filled an entire dumpster with yard waste.
It felt good. Good to work with our hands. Good to be dirty. Good to rip out the old and make space for the new.
Good to celebrate the coming of a new season in the garden and in life.
This summer had it’s highs and lows. And the low points often felt like they won. We experienced a lot of change and loss this summer. It wasn’t fun. In fact it was not fun at all. The good news is that wasn’t our whole story. Our kitchen was filled with pie and our table shared with friends. Our friends laughed and cried with us, made us dinner, and prayed for us. We celebrated new marriages, toasted to the life of dear friends, and snuck away for weekends of rest.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the turning over from one season to the next and I’m hoping that this next season will be one full of joy. I’m so glad that even though the last few months have been hard on my heart, I’m still walking into the fall with a bountiful harvest behind me and plenty of good earth in front of me. My hope is not foolish because I know that my God is faithful, he calls me to live a full life here on earth, and he promises that when I seek him, I will find him. He promises to restore what is broken.
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
(Jeremiah 29:5-7 ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
(Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV)
Posted by Erin on September 20, 2012
I have always found a bit of solace in baking. Cutting cold butter into sifted flour feels purposeful. When a pie comes together or a cake bakes just right and the icing is smooth, I feel like all is right in the world. This summer has been a roller coaster for me and I’ve found myself baking more than my normal share of pie – baking something that brings joy to the friends around our table and a few moments of peace to my own heart as I mix fruit and sugar and butter to make something beautiful.
Even though my mom’s peach pie recipe is the very best, my husband loves blueberries more than most other fruits. I have been long overdue to give a blueberry pie a go and since they were on sale this week it seemed like the perfect moment to try my hand at it. For his birthday last week, Mr. ThirdRow was gifted some artisan cherry flavored Moonshine from a dear friend. While it turned out to be a wee bit too strong to drink, it was just what I’d been looking for to take my pie crust to the next level! I still swear by Pam’s Pie Tutorial from The Pioneer Woman. I follow her directions to a tee, but this time I added ice cold Moonshine instead of water to my crust. I’d read about people using vodka in their crusts so that the alcohol bakes out leaving a delicate and flakey to-die-for crust. They were right! This was my best crust yet.
2 pie crusts (top and bottom layers)
2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
milk for brushing
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line pie plate with single layer of pastry dough and set aside. In a large bowl, gently toss blueberries in lemon juice. Sprinkle the corn starch, salt, and sugar over the top. Gently fold together to coat the berries. Pour the berries into the pie and dot with butter. Roll out the top layer of pastry dough on the counter and, using a pizza cutter, cut it into 1/2 inch strips. Carefully weave the strips to create a lattice top. Brush the lattice crust with milk and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until berries are bubbly and crust is golden brown.
My crust browned pretty quickly. So, after 25 minutes in the oven I covered it with aluminum foil and left it covered for the remainder of it’s baking.
Posted by Erin on August 4, 2012
My mom makes the best peach pie. I’m not even a big pie fan, but peach pie is something I can’t resist. Luckily, peach season isn’t too far from my birthday and I can usually convince mom to make me a pie sometime over the summer. But alas, now that I’m a grown lady with a home (and oven) of my own, I often find that I better bake my own pie when the craving strikes.
Last week I decided to take a risk with my first peach pie of the season and cut the sugar a bit. I’ve been trying to keep things healthy over here in this corner of the world and take advantage of the fresh ingredients of the summer. When a friend mentioned that his wife had cut the sugar in her pies down over the years and now used only a mere third of what was in the original recipe I thought it was worth trying. And guess what? It was brilliant! I used half the sugar I normally would and the peaches tasted fresher and less syrupy. Overall a big hit!
Mom’s Peach Pie
2 pie crusts (I faithfully use this recipe – all butter – and method from The Pioneer Woman)
5-6 cups sliced and peeled fresh peaches (about 9-10 medium)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 full cup)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare the pie crust. Roll out the bottom crust and place gently in a pretty pie plate (shouldn’t all pie plates be pretty?).
Mix together the peaches and lemon juice. Whisk together the flour and sugar (my mom also adds 1/4 tsp cinnamon here, but we’re not big cinnamon fans so I leave it out) and gently mix into the peaches.
Turn the filling into the prepared pie plate and dot the top with butter.
Roll out the other round of pastry and place over the filling. Fold and roll the edge and press to seal. Cut slits in your pie so that steam can escape. Brush with milk.
Bake until the crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits (35-45 minutes).
Posted by Erin on July 23, 2012
There are few things as gratifying as picking food from your garden in the warm sunshine and serving it on your table less than an hour later.
Our green beans have been heavy on the bush the last week or so just begging to be eaten. They did not disappoint! They tasted as full of summer freshness as they looked.
Asian Green Beans
Fresh Green Beans, trimmed
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp water
1/4 c slivered almonds
Drizzle olive oil into a hot pan. Toss in the fresh green beans. Add water and cover immediately. Let steam for a few minutes. Stir in soy sauce and almonds. Sautée until hot and al dente. Serve immediately.
Posted by Erin on June 28, 2012
Happy first day of summer everyone! Our hot weather crops are growing like crazy. I hope you are out enjoying the sunshine. I know I’ve been spending time on our patio recently eyeing those growing tomatoes and looking forward to summer salsas.
Posted by Erin on June 20, 2012
The summer crops are planted and we are anxiously awaiting dinners filled with fresh green beans and summer squash.
Posted by Erin on June 9, 2012
This was a full weekend. There’s a lot going on right now, but we made time for the garden (cold-weather crops out! summer crops in!) and a few naps with the boys.
The Volvo 2012 National Meet Up was in St. Louis on Saturday!!! There were some pretty cool Volvos on display. My favorite was a yellow Volvo 100 wagon. Loved it! We enjoyed walking in the sunshine and getting to know other Volvo-lovers. The boys came with us and made a few friends of their own.
Saturday evening was spent in the park across the street with many of our favorite neighbors listening to some great live music and watching Happy Feet 2 on a big screen. Even Mayor Slay was there and stopped to chat with us for a while! The company was great, but I’d skip Happy Feet if I were you….it was weird. Still, no matter how cheesy the movie, sitting outside on a blanket eating fresh popped corn with friends always makes for a great summer night. Here’s to the start of a wonderful season!
Posted by Erin on June 5, 2012
Posted by Erin on May 23, 2012
Things have been busy lately. Too busy. Hectic and more than a little stressful.
So, we’re taking a breather. Resetting our interior clocks to a slower pace. See you soon.
Posted by Erin on May 17, 2012