Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice.

In my opinion the first day of summer should be considered a national holiday.  A day to be celebrated.  Celebrate having endured a loooong winter.  No one should have to work and everyone should spend it outside in the sun.  Fruity cocktails with umbrellas optional, but encouraged.  Because we live in Montana our solstice was a cool day with rain showers on and off.  The sunshine did grace us with her beautiful presence briefly so we took advantage.

Along with this first day of summer came our first week of summer vacation.  It's always an adjustment going from scheduled school days to carefree summer days, but we found our groove.  I think this first week is a good preview of weeks to come...

Picnic at the park with cousins-

This park is always a favorite because of the small stream running through it.  It goes slow enough that even the littlest cousin can wade in without falling down.  They made it their business to to clean out the grass flowing down stream.  I think we came home with more grass on us than was in the stream.

Long walks home and Popsicles on the porch to cool down...
She was so proud pushing her cousin home in the stroller...little mama in training.

After a few warm sunny days we woke up to dark clouds and rain.  It has been a rainy spring, I don't mind, it makes everything such a lovely green and smells amazing.  First "rain day" of vacation is easy to solve with a trip to the library and baking cookies.  If we continue to have these it will not be as easy to appease them.

This is how I found them...laying on the floor in the living room, Ava reading the books we checked out to her sister.  Love this.

The cookies we made are some of my absolute favorites.  Double chocolate peanut butter deliciousness.

I've made these babies a couple times before.  They take more time than some, but so very worth it.  You can find the recipe here.  

While on the subject of food, summer is bringing on fresh creativity.  I am a person who cooks with the seasons.  I'm all about a big pot of veggie chili in the fall, lots of warm soups and casseroles in winter and come summer I am ready for salads, seafood and anything with fresh veggies.  The one exception to my seasonal cooking is pasta and pizza.  These are good anytime of the year, anywhere, all the time.  I have a new favorite potato salad and it is so different than any of my others.  I like a good old traditional potato salad with eggs, pickles, mayo and mustard.  (Maybe this isn't traditional to all, it is to me because it's how my mom makes it!)  I also make one with celery instead of pickles and a mayo-vinegar sauce rather than mustard.  This new one is totally different.  Grilled potato and cucumber salad...

Oh, it is so good and screams summer with the grilled taste from the potatoes.  I'll put the recipe at the bottom.  

I love cooking with fresh ingredients and try to instill healthy eating habits in the girls.  Of course you can't get it right every time.  Case in point, the girls dinner tonight-

Matt's cooking dinner for me and the girls and I were picking up a few things for him at the grocery store.  I told the girls they could pick out what they wanted for dinner and this was the winning choice.  I can't blame them, there is something so comforting about this box of processed cheese and fake noodles.  Why does it taste so good?  I may have had one or five bites before I finally gave in and scooped myself a bowlful.  Darn you Kraft Velveeta Shells.  I slave for hours to get perfect pasta and a creamy sauce and they go and make it so easy and ready in ten minutes.  

I am very much enjoying the extra hours in a day with my girls.  It's nice hearing their voices and giggles as we go about our days.  It's nice to have an extra hand around the house especially now that Miss 6 & 8 year old are much more capable of running a vacuum and broom.  They add an energy and spirit that is contagious.  Of course, we are one week in and everything is blissful.  Give it a month and I may be counting the days until the first day of school, sick of fighting, whining and wishing for a moments peace.  But, for now I am soaking it up.  

Since we are still in blissful summer vacation mode, we decided to start a project.  Last year the girls and I painted one of our fence posts that we had replaced.  This year we are taking our creative talents to the bench in our backyard...

I think it is going to turn out super cool.  It will have our very personal touch to it.  Ava said it best "I don't know why anyone would want a plain old bench when they could have one painted by an artist"  Agreed my smart girl.  

It is time to go and continue to enjoy this longest day of the year.  Happy official summer to ya.  

Grilled Potato Cucumber Salad
1.  Boil four potatoes for around 15 minutes (depending on size)  Let cool.  Slice each one in quarters lengthwise.  Brush with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.  Grill over medium heat turning occasionally to grill on all sides.  Remove and let cool.  Slice in smaller pieces
2.  In a large bowl mix 1/2 cup mayo, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tbls sugar, 1 tsp celery salt, 1 tbls Dijon mustard, one garlic glove minced, a pinch of red pepper flakes, pepper and some fresh chopped parsley
3.  Add 1/4 cup chopped red onion and a thinly sliced English cucumber to the sauce and stir.  Add potatoes and toss to coat.  

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