Last of Summer Loves

It seems like I’m one of the few who are just not looking forward to Fall and cooler days, which makes living in New Jersey even more difficult. Maybe because I’ve been recovering from knee surgery and haven’t been able to enjoy the season, but I feel this summer flew by. As we head into Labor Day, the weekend before schools start again, and summer schedules end, I’m hanging onto to summer, and everything I love about warm sunny days, for as long as I can. Looking through my pinterest I realized that I have way too many spring and summertime photos, but I’ve rallied up a few that are keeping me inspired and happy enjoying my favorite season has still to offer. If you’re going away for one last getaway or keeping it simple, hope you have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.  OntheBeachCollageSummer living is effortless. It’s sandy bods, from the laying in the sand, baring it all, and watching the sunset onto the waves.
SummerFoodCollageSummer is the most delicious season. It’s the perfect reason for outdoor entertaining, light and floral cocktailsfresh summer vegetable dishesseafood bakes and barbecuescolorful ice cream cones, and endless ways to eat toasted marshmallows.

SummerLivingCollage

Summer is for fun and play. It’s for road trips  to the beach, boating on the lakeweekend getaways, having no worries lounging by the pool, cooling off underneath a waterfall, and sunny bike rides.

Summer gardenCollageSummer is life. It’s meant to be spent outside each day, and help or watch nature produce life, like vegetables.

SummerOutfitCollageSummer is light and airy style. It’s white maxi dresses and fedoras, and plenty of chic neutrals.

summermindsetCollageSummer is bliss. It’s morning beach walks while on vacation, having a joyful childhood mindsetbonfires and watching the fireworks with friends and family.

Labor Day Inspiration

Labor Day InspirationIt was only fitting that the weather decided to warm up like typical summer, just as we head back to school, work, and Fall. Which is why as the last celebration of the summer, Labor Day, approaches this weekend, entertaining hassles should be kept to a minimum. The weekend should be spent relaxing and enjoying, even if you’re the host. A no-cook picnic style spread of various salads, crusty breads, seasonal fresh crudités and homemade dips. And dessert, chilled fruit like watermelon works perfectly, as does an ice cream cake. Here’s just a bit of inspiration for a hassle free Labor Day, or any warm weather gathering.

Setup a casual setting with a long table and seating on throws atop the grass. I would just love to spend my Labor Day weekend, one of the last of summer like this enchanting dinner party underneath twinkling lights. {image above via}

Labor Day InspirationPrep, and chill as much as you can the days before. Make a large batch of a simple cocktail, like summer fruit mojitos the night prior. Serve up an array of fresh tomatoes on ice, along with olives and radishes with dip.

Labor Day InspirationMake a variety of easy salads with produce that is overflowing at the farmers market, and whatever fresh ingredients you might have already. These salad starters can be made beforehand, and then just tossed with greens and dressing the day of. Highlight special produce, like figs in this salad with cantaloupe.

Labor Day InspirationBlend as much as you can, make a beet gazpacho or homemade jalapeño honey hummus.
Labor Day InspirationOffer meat friendly options, even without cooking by creating a smorgasbord of charcuterie meats, like prosciutto and pate, or smoked salmon and cheeses for non-meat eaters, along with plenty of crusty bread, good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Labor Day InspirationBecause there may not be enough time in the days to enjoy them, s’mores are a must to make, especially with white chocolate and jam. And of course a frozen yogurt cake makes every summer get together complete.

For patriotic inspiration see here and here |More outdoor entertaining inspiration see here and here

Into the Garden: Dahlias

 Into the Garden: DahliasI’ll admit that there are times you need cloudy chilly days, cuddled up with a good cup of warm coffee, watching The Great Gatsby and looking at pictures of the garden from this summer. The bright and colorful dahlias made it seem like it were a sunny morning, and instantly put me in a happy mood. I was purely content relaxing with an inspiring movie, getting creative. It seems like most of us relax, and do nothing during the summer; when responsibilities have lessened, the days longer, and fun and play are the only things on your mind. And now, as most are trying to take advantage of their last few days before routine takes over again, we try to drag out as many things we love about this season into the next.

I love dahlias, because they are one of the few colored flowers that bloom at the end of June, well until September. These mostly vibrant flowers make it seem like summer longer, and I love having them in my garden even when the days call for light jackets.

Whenever I do something or write about it, I like to learn more about it, and I wanted to learn more about one of my preferred flowers. My favorite is this blush hued one. Dahlias are a symbol of elegance and dignity, and signifies a change, or travel, and I’d say they’re great words to head into a new season. It continues to be used today to express personal sentiments, and is also known as symbol of a commitment and bond that lasts forever, and marriage and love. Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: DahliasInto the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: Dahlias Into the Garden: DahliasFor information on how to grow and care for dahlias in your garden, read here.

Individual Summer Pies

Individual Summer PiesWith a basket full with plenty of ripe peaches, sweet strawberries and deep hued cherries, I knew I just couldn’t let the fruit that were a bit past their fresh eating days go to waste. With my favorite pate brisee {pie dough} on hand, pie was a dessert I could manage baking up sitting down. I didn’t just want to make a hearty fruit pie by combining the different fruits together. I wanted to highlight each signature flavor. My collection of mason jars, meant I had the perfect containers for individual pies that would satisfy any fruit pie craving. Individual Summer Pies

Individual Summer PiesIndividual Summer Pies Individual Summer Pies Individual Peach Crumble PiesI like to let my fruit pie fillings sit for at least five minutes, so that the flavors and natural juices develop more intensely. I used a blend of the ripest white nectarines and peaches on hand, creating a naturally sweet pie topped with equally decadent crunchy almond crumble, which I need to place onto everything. Individual Peach Crumble PiesMy baking sheets have definitely seen better days, considering they’re the first set I bought. Individual Strawberry PiesThe random patterned top on the strawberry pies, came from a piece of dough not large enough for much else. When desserts are in mini form, anything goes with design, at least I think so. Individual Cherry PiesI’m quite a sucker for a fresh peach pie, but after this summer, my love of cherries has gone to another level, mostly in part for this simple syrup, which give these pies an intenser cherry flavor. Heated up with a scoop of ice cream, these individual pies are sure to be a crowd pleaser at parties or eaten solo on a brisk summer night.
Individual Summer Pies

Peach Almond Crumble Pies

Ingredients {Makes 3, 3″ pies}

One Recipe – Pate Brisee {one recipe will make about 9, 3″ pies}

2 pounds {about 2 medium} – Peaches {chopped}

1/3 cup – Dark Brown Sugar {packed}

2 tablespoons – Cornstarch

2 teaspoon – Fresh Lemon Juice

Pinch of Salt

Almond Crumble

1/3 cup – Almonds {raw, unsalted}

1/3 cup – Dark Brown Sugar {packed}

Recipe

For the almond crumble, chop the almonds in a food processor until resembles coarse almond meal. Add in the brown sugar, and pulse until combined. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter your metal jar lids, making sure the remove the bottoms if they have a rubber strip. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll pate brisee to 1/8″ thickness, and cut circles 1/4″ larger than your jar lid. Fit dough into buttered lids, leaving an excess overhang. Refrigerate about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt. Let sit until juices thicken slightly {at least 5 minutes}. Divide filling between pie shells. Trim excess dough, and finish the edge. Bake until golden brown, and juices bubble {about 25 to 30 minutes}. Serve warm, or a room temperature.

Strawberry and Lemon Basil Pies

Ingredients {Makes 3, 3″ pies}

8 ounces {about 2 cups} – Strawberries {chopped}

1 tablespoon – Fresh Lemon Basil {finely chopped}

1/2 cup – Sugar

1 tablespoon – Cornstarch

2 teaspoon – Fresh Lemon Juice

Pinch of Salt

Lightly beaten egg

Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter your metal jar lids, making sure the remove the bottoms if they have a rubber strip. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll pate brisee to 1/8″ thickness, and cut circles 1/4″ larger than your jar lid. Fit dough into buttered lids, leaving an excess overhang.  Refrigerate about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon basil, lemon juice and salt. Let sit until juices thicken slightly {at least 5 minutes}. Divide filling between pie shells. Trim excess dough, finish edges, and top with single layer of dough with holes to vent or smaller rounds of dough. Brush with a lightly beaten egg, and sugar. Bake until golden brown, and juices bubble {about 25 to 30 minutes}. Serve warm, or a room temperature.

Cherry Pies

Ingredients {Makes 3, 3″ pies}

1 cup – Fresh Cherries {coarsely chopped}

1/4 cup – Cherry Simple Syrup {recipe here}

1 tablespoon – Cornstarch

Pinch of Salt

Recipe

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter your metal jar lids, making sure the remove the bottoms if they have a rubber strip. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll pate brisee to 1/8″ thickness, and cut circles 1/4″ larger than your jar lid. Fit dough into buttered lids, leaving an excess overhang.  Refrigerate about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the cherries, simple syrup, cornstarch and salt. Let sit until juices thicken slightly {at least 5 minutes}. Divide filling between pie shells. Trim excess dough, and finish edges. Bake until golden brown, and juices bubble {about 25 to 30 minutes}. Serve warm, or a room temperature.

Flower + Herb Arrangements

Flower + Herb ArrangmentFresh flowers are a weakness of mine, and I try to have them throughout each room in the house, not only because they’re pretty, but for the aroma they bring into any room. I tend to place simple bud vases with single large blooms in the bathroom, or gather smaller arrangements together to create table centerpieces lovely from every angle the eye can see. Lovely mint julep cups were on sale here last week, and I just couldn’t pass up this great opportunity. I’ve been eyeing these pretty and versatile glasses for some time, imagining creating lovely flower arrangements or delicious drinks.

Since the beginning of the month, I’ve slowly begun collecting a variety of herbs from the garden to prepare for the colder months ahead, hanging them along the wall in my dark basement. Some will be brewed for tea, while others as spices in special dishes like this holiday baked brie.

Flower + Herb ArrangementI’ve been trying to take in as much summer freshness into my days, while I still can. So, I decided, while smelling the fragrant herbs in my basket, why not create small pretty arrangements, that make a subtle statement. The sweet basil and the refreshing lemon mint scents blend beautifully, hugging your senses with summer love. Herbs usually last in water and cool temperatures, refreshed and cut every other day, about 1 to 2 weeks, depending on care. Which allows me to enjoy the scents of gardening and summer until the remainder of August, while still working well with the beginning of the Fall season, where then I can start envisioning what these delicious herbs will become once winter.

Flower + Herb ArrangementThe front garden is blooming with so many pink garden roses, which I paired with delicate white flowering lemon mint.Flower + Herb ArrangementThe deep plum coloring of the Thai basil, is the perfect color as he head into fall.
Flower + Herb ArrangementI’d say the most unique part of my garden, are the small corners dispersed throughout of different succulents. We have small ones that resemble a bushel of rosettes, like these, and my favorite, which look like large bloomed flowers, like this one. I just loved the lavender hue a flowering succulent looked along with bright yellow flowering dill.
Flower + Herb ArrangementA large bunch of fresh mint makes for a beautiful, and beyond aromatic arrangement. Flower + Herb Arrangement

Nostalgia

Nostalgia photo by The Dreamery Do you ever get an intense feeling of nostalgia, where a certain smell or the weather takes you back to a certain moment or time in your life? This morning a cup of coffee took me back to my favorite coffee shop in Arizona, and drinking multiple pumpkin lattes, getting me through planning several large fundraisers. The morning sun and the brisk end of summer wind reminded me of opening the wood window shutters every morning in Portugal, looking out onto the farms and forest. I usually get these feelings, often wondering if it’s because I’m longing to be somewhere else in my life, to a time a bit more fulfilled, or is it because that I’ve had and continue to have many happy memories, that I’m often reminded of them by the simplest of things.

I think another part of nostalgia involves growing, and learning from events in your life. For me, it’s my love and much greater appreciation for Portugal and my family. Now that I’m older, and life’s responsibilities occupy my time a bit more, I don’t have the opportunity for month-long stays like I used to have when I was younger in school. But since then I’ve become more sure of who I am, my interests and how much my past has shaped those.Nostalgia photo by The DreameryLooking back on these moments that suddenly appear in your day, allows you to make connections within in your present life. For me, I always knew I loved nature because I spent many summers in Portugal, where we live on a farm. The fact that I cannot go at this time, makes me truly appreciate those long summers spent outside all day, picking potatoes and riding tractors, going onto the farm with my family picking dinner, making wine and looking up into the best starry skies.

IMG_1994Farming and food have become a great passion of mine, and need each other to thrive successful. I want to integrate my past into my future goal of a owning a bakery and farm. It’s a part of how I was raised, my family, and all those wonderful happy moments in my life that motivate me to create a future.

Nostalgia photo by The DreameryIt’s amazing how so much can be conjured with an instinctual whiff or a small melody. A song you didn’t notice at that time, a place you didn’t even know had a particular smell. On one hand we long to be be in the past, but look more forward to the present and future. I stumbled upon this passage, and loved the bittersweet interpretation of nostalgia and how I’ve been feeling.

“But here is the truth of nostalgia: we don’t feel it for who we were, but who we weren’t. We feel if for all the possibilities that were open to us, but that we didn’t take. Like wax dripping from a flame, in the moment capable of transforming into any form, then solidifying into what it will always be, it becomes the past. A solid, single record of what happened, still holding its wild curves and contours the potential of every shape it could have held. It is impossible-no matter how blessed you are by luck, of the government, or some remote invisible deity gently steering your life with hands made of moonlight and wind-it is impossible not the feel a little sad, looking at the bit of wax. That bit of the past. It is impossible not to think of all the wild forms that wax now will never take.” Welcome to Night Vale #21

Nostalgia photo by The Dreamery

Nostalgia photo by The Dreamery

What are your thoughts on nostalgia?

Summer Squash Salad

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This past weekend the garden bloomed with plenty of bright green zucchinis and yellow squashes. They’re lovely grilled or baked into cakes, but I prefer mine fresh as a salad. I topped steamed asparagus and hericots verts, with spaghetti-like ribbons of squash. When I made a batch of this, I knew extra was going to be needed, because I have been adding it onto everything.IMG_4620

I just loved the way the roasted tomato pesto became the perfect dressing for a bed a delicately sliced summer squash. It brought out each lovely ingredient’s flavor, a flavor so distinctly homegrown. When you take the time and effort to take seeds, nourish them and ensure they grow into food, you taste the difference in vegetables’ taste. Reading The Third Plate has given me a greater sense of where my food comes from, and more importably the techniques used to get them onto our kitchens. So, I was proud of this simple dish, a lunch I quickly put together with ingredients picked from the garden a few steps from my kitchen.IMG_4621

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Summer Squash Salad

Ingredients {Serves 2}

2 cups {about 1 medium} – Zucchini

2 cups {about 1 medium} – Yellow Squash

1 cup – Red Grape Tomatoes {halved}

2 ounces – Fresh Mozzarella {chopped into 1/2″ pieces|

3 small – Artichokes {halved, use a jarred brand with no salt}

1/4 cup – Fresh Parsley {chopped}

Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons – Roasted Tomato Pesto {recipe here}

Recipe

Using a mandoline, or a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the zucchini and yellow squash into a medium bowl. Stir in the tomatoes, mozzarella, artichokes, and parsley. Season with salt, pepper and pesto, and toss together.