September 15, 2014

Arrivederci Tea Party and a Recipe for Peach Basil Sangria

Arrivederci Tea Party and a Recipe for Peach Basil Sangria
Four years ago, I met some pretty special ladies during my study abroad summer in Nottingham, England.  I'm happy to say we have kept in touch, getting together every few months for a girl's day or afternoon tea party.  A few weeks ago, we had one last tea party together as we sent our friend Sara off to Italy with an Arrivederci Tea Party.  Sara has been working towards an overseas teaching position since I first met her, and I am so proud that her determination has finally paid off with this dream job in Rome.  She is settling in with her kindergarteners, and making the rest of us jealous with her posts of her lovely apartment and beautiful new home town.  Our last tea party together was bittersweet, but we had fun hearing about Sara's adventures ahead and stuffing our faces with Italian themed food and drink.  I made a delicious Peach Basil Sangria, perfect for an afternoon girl's get together.  Join me in raising a glass and wishing the best of luck to my friend.  Arrivederci, Sara! 
Arrivederci Tea Party and a Recipe for Peach Basil Sangria
 Peach Basil Sangria:

- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 bottle Pinot Grigio
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 4 cups peach nectar
- juice of one lemon

Instructions:

- Combine the sugar, basil leaves, 2 cups peach nectar and lemon juice in a saucepan and simmer just long enough until the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Strain out the basil.
- Pour the liquid into a pitcher, then stir in the rest of the nectar and the bottle of wine.
- Add ice and serve.
Arrivederci Tea Party and a Recipe for Peach Basil Sangria

September 08, 2014

Chasing Crystals in Payson


Chasing Crystals in Payson
I have spent a few weekends in Payson this summer, and I have found myself on the hunt for crystals each time.  I recently learned there is a place in my mom's neighborhood where you can search for crystals right along the side of the road.  The Diamond Point site is located about 15 miles northeast of Payson on Highway 260.  You simply park your vehicle and start your treasure hunt!  Diamond Point is known for its double termination crystals, which means they have points on both ends.  The search can be tedious, but if you spend some time with your eyes on the ground, you may just see a sparkle that points you to one of these lovely crystals!

Chasing Crystals in Payson
Chasing Crystals in Payson
We spent a few hours looking for crystals, and found a handful.  Most of them were small pieces that had broken off of larger crystals.   In the top photo above, you can see a handful of rocks and quarts crystals that I unearthed.  On the left side of the plate, you can see some of the clear crystals, and on the right are some that have a milky white color.  In the photo above, you can see one of the better crystals we found.  It is only a single termination stone, but the point is well defined and it sure sparkles!
Chasing Crystals in Payson
Chasing Crystals in Payson
Chasing Crystals in Payson
On another weekend trip to Payson, we visited the House of Amethyst Rock Shop in the Western Village shopping plaza.  The shop has a wonderful collection of gemstones, minerals, fossils and other fun finds.  Many of the semi-precious and precious gemstones are harvested locally, making them wonderful souvenirs.  I fell in love with the enormous crystal quartz in the store window.  It was so big and all the different edges gave off such lovely sparkles!   Though I couldn't afford that particular gemstone, I did pick up some rose quarts and some sliced geodes. 
Chasing Crystals in Payson
Chasing Crystals in Payson
The geodes made for a fun and easy DIY when I came home.  I picked up some magnets at Michaels, and hot glued them to the geode slices.  Now I have a pretty reminder of my adventures in Payson where I can see them everyday!  If you are a rock collector, or simply a fan of anything that sparkles, I recommend a trip to Payson and Diamond Point.  Happy hunting!!
Chasing Crystals in Payson

August 04, 2014

Local Love: The Henry


Local Love: The Henry
If you live in the Phoenix area and haven't been to The Henry yet, go.  Go now!  One of the newest additions to the Fox Restaurant Concepts team, The Henry has been open since Fall 2013 and has been packed both times I've visited.  The food is good, but the main draws for me are the fun decor and separate coffee bar area.  This is an equally great place to go on a dinner date, lunch with the girls, or just to work on your laptop with a good cup of coffee.  The Henry is located at 44th Street and Camelback Road.
Local Love: The Henry

Local Love: The HenryLocal Love: The Henry
The Henry has serious curb appeal.  From the grey-blue building, to the black awnings, this place exudes cool.  And don't even get my started on that marquee arrow or the lettering Fox used for the sign.  You can't pass walk past without wanting to stop and take a photo, and most people do stop!  Inside, the place is divided into several areas: the restaurant, the bar and a grab-and-go coffee bar counter area with plenty of tables for work or play.  If you are into design, this place is a feast for the eyes.  I particularly love the blue Eames bar stools at the bar, toile wallpaper in the coffee bar, foxed mercury lanterns and the French style cafe chairs on the patio.  Are you sold yet?  Do I even need to mention the food?  Well, I enjoyed that, too.  I tried the signature starter cheddar popovers with smoked ham butter.  Very tasty.  I enjoyed my buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, topped with delicious Havarti.  And the fig and ginger mule is the best cocktail I've had in awhile!  If you are in the area, pop in for a coffee.  You may then find yourself staying for the popovers!
Local Love: The Henry

July 28, 2014

Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam

Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam
Nothing says summer like fresh strawberries!  When my mom suggested we make jam together while I was visiting her a few weeks ago, it was no surprise we both wanted to make a sweet strawberry jam.  When she mentioned she had basil growing in her garden, we decided to try a strawberry and basil combination that turned out to be amazing.  The addition of lime zest made this the perfect summer jam- sweet, fresh and with a surprising earthy note from the basil.  I'm eating this jam on everything.  It's great on bread with crumbles of feta on top, or even stirred into Greek yogurt.  I even spooned some over warm sponge cake and topped it with ice cream for a new spin on the classic strawberry shortcake!  Use your imagination.  This is a really versatile jam.
Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam
This was my first time making jam or doing canning of any kind.  Since I am obviously not an experienced canner, I am not going to go into details of the water bath method that we used to make this jam.  If you already can, you know the specifics.  If not, you can check out the Ball website or something similar and get the run down from the experts.  I was happy to have my mom walk me through the process.  It wasn't as complicated as I imagined!
Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam
Strawberry Basil Jam:
Makes 9 Half Pint Jars of Jam
- 3 Quarts of Strawberries (about 12 cups) washed, sliced and with the stems removed
- 6 cups of sugar
- Juice and zest from 2 limes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam
Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam

Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam

Directions:
** Use the water bath canning method for jar sterilization and preserving the jam**
- Add strawberries, sugar, lime juice and zest into a large pot.
- Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Cook, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F.
- Add the basil to the mixture and let cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Once the jam has reached the desired consistency, remove from heat and skim off foam.
- Fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headroom.
- Clean rims and close the lids on the jars.
- Place in boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal.
- Remove from water and allow to cool for 12 hours without moving.
- Tighten lids and store for up to a year.

Enjoy!
Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam
Recipe: Strawberry Basil Jam

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