Strawberry Basil Iced Tea

In the battle to supply refreshing, thirst-quenching drinks to my boyfriend, and now roommate (!), who like some, rarely drinks a plain glass of water, I’ve begun making copious amounts of iced tea in attempt to beat the heat while dissuading his $20/week Gatorade habit.

So far, we’ve tried raspberry tea, honey green tea, Arnold Palmers, sweet tea, chai tea…you name it. All have been tasty, but none so unique as Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Basil Iced Tea, which we tried today.

This tea is infused with some of summer’s most poignant flavors, and would make the perfect picnic accompaniment… or Gatorade-replacer as the case may be.

Ingredients
* 8 black-tea bags
* 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved (quartered if large)
* 1 cup water, plus more for steeping
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1 cup fresh basil, plus more for serving
* Ice, for serving

Directions
1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add tea bags, and let steep for 5 minutes.
2. Place strawberries in a bowl. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add basil, and let steep for 10 minutes.

3. Strain over strawberries; discard basil. Toss to coat. Let stand until cool, about 25 minutes. Combine strawberries (with syrup) and tea in a pitcher. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve over ice, and garnish with basil.

* My only changes: adding sliced lemon to the simple syrup, and putting another round of fresh basil into the finished tea for stronger herbal notes. Crossword suggested but not required.

1 minute project: Clothespin Photo Banner

After coming across a collection of gorgeous photos of my Grandparents from the 40s , I instantly knew I had to display them in a way I could actually see (photo albums so rarely get looked at in my house).
I also wanted to avoid damaging the photos with puncture marks or the like.

So, voilĂ , another 1 minute project was born.

The necessities:

Clothespins. I used mini ones here as they were more to scale to my vintage photos.

Twine, string, ribbon, or whatever is handy at the moment.
I used hemp for this banner, leftover from my hemp necklace making days… remember those??

Photos, naturally.
I ended up using a mix of both old and new- for color and sentimental value 🙂

All together now.

Directions:
Simply arrange your photos in the order you’d like them to hang, as looks most pleasing.

Fasten the photo to the string with your clothespin.


This is a photo of my Grandma, Stella. I love how carefree and full of life she looks here; I can almost imagine that I’m right there with her that summer, on the lake with her betrothed.

Now hang, and you’re done!

Signs of Summer

It’s a Memorial Day Miracle. My tomato plant is showing its first signs of ripening fruit!

After countless years of shriveled tomato-growing efforts, it seems like I’ll finally be enjoying my own backyard tomatoes this summer.



And because I wouldn’t want any garden beauty feeling neglected– here are a few shots of the Rainbow Swiss Chard growing merrily alongside the tomatoes. What started as a haphazard sprinkling of seeds has sprung into this..

I have some big plans for this Chard, so fingers crossed no pests find their way to it before I do.

Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky: Design Inspiration

I spent Friday night indulging in one of my favorite solo activities: a movie and.. a bottle of wine. Last night’s menu included rosĂ© and Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky.

Film critique aside, I could not get over the gorgeous interior design showcased throughout. The majority of the movie takes place in Coco Chanel’s country home, outside of Paris in the 1920s, which is as elegant and bold as its proprietor.

In one of my favorite scenes, Igor’s wife asks, “You don’t like color, Mademoiselle Chanel?” To which Coco dryly responds, “As long as it’s black.”









The tailored, yet feminine aesthetic that ruled the furniture, paint, wall coverings, rugs, and of course, the fashion, played nearly as large a role as Mademoiselle Chanel herself in the film.

If, like me, this sparks in you the urge to start splashing black paint on just about everything in your home (crown moldings, door jams, painted wood floors, staircases), here are a few items to help start the Art Deco transformation.


$89.99 from http://www.designyourwall.com/store/Urban-Geometric-custom-digital-wallpaper-Black-and-White-pr-2271.html


$219.99 from sears.com


$160 from http://www.skyiris.com/Black-Greek-Key-Wool-Hook-Rug-30TT40FC05.htm


$59 from http://www.prettycleverdecor.com

The Crawfish Boil- A Louisiana Springtime Ritual

Mudbugs, crawfish, crawdaddys.. whatever you call the little suckers, anyone who has spent time in Louisiana has inevitably come across these crustaceans in famous dishes like Crawfish Monica, Crawfish Etouffee, or at it’s most elemental, at a Crawfish Boil.

I went to my first boil while living in New Orleans and fell instantly in love with not only the strange shellfish, but the ceremony surrounding the boil. A crawfish boil is one of those food-centered gatherings that ends up not really being just about the food. Like ignoring the turkey on Thanksgiving in favor of football and sides, a crawfish boil is about laughing and drinking and prepping and stirring and peeling together. A messy, spicy, inebriated group of people getting together and making food.

So even when living in L.A., the farthest city in both spirit and looks from the swamps of southern Louisiana, we find a way to have a boil.
Luckily for me, I’m friends with a very enthusiastic deep South transplant here in LA who ordered a whooping 60 pound of crawfish for us to feast on.


Along with andouille sausage, corn, heaps of potatoes, mushrooms, lemons, artichokes, onion, loads of garlic, and numerous bags of Zatarain’s, we plunged the live crawfish into the pot.



After the crawfish are cooked, they’re dumped out on a communal, newspaper-covered table where everyone gathers around to peel, eat, and for the very dedicated, suck the heads. More on that here.


Turns out 60 pounds of mudbugs is too much for our humble stomachs to handle, but over a couple of Bloody Marys (with pickled okra, yum!), we managed to peel the entire batch.

The fruit our labor:

I can’t wait to use up the leftovers and have already started scouring recipes for a dish worthy of our hard-earned crawfish meat.
I’m thinking Etouffee, bisque, or Monica will be just the thing to cure my mid-week blues.

Even if I can’t still live in the coolest city in America, on a Sunday afternoon like this, I can at least pretend I do.

Nerd Alert

I adore libraries.
I love the quiet, the orderly rows of neatly stacked hardbacks, and the classic green desk lamps that slump over long wooden tables.
And in the case of the New York Public Library, I love the architecture.

Here are a few photos I took last time I visited this Big Apple landmark:

1 minute project: shot glass vase

What better way to put your extensive shot glass collection to use, while justifying that funny mojitos-with-breakfast habit you picked up in college, than with this herbal “arrangement.” I place arrangement in quotes here as it unduly gives too much credit to the arranger… but you get the idea.

Step 1: pluck your fresh herbs of choice- given the aforementioned mojito habit, I’ve chosen mint here.
Step 2: dust off your until-now-forgotten double shot glass (who actually measures liquor drinks out?) and fill with water
Ste 3: place herbs in shot glass, or several, on the center of your table, at a place setting, windowsill, or next to the stove for easy cooking access.

Combining boozy memories and soon to be muddled new ones– the perfect Sunday project in my book.

Good Morning, Sunshine

My favorite way to start off the morning, aside from a brimming cup of New Orleans Community Coffee, is with a walk through the garden.
Saying that last bit aloud confirms why I often feel like I’m 25 going on 50, but just looking at these photos I took over the weekend is enough for me to set my alarm an hour earlier so I don’t miss the best part of the day, a sunshiny morning.

Long Handed, Long Winded?

I better start this blog-journey off with a word about the title.

I’m an old fashioned kind of girl. Not in the Pilgrim-dressing, black and white TV watching kind of way, but I like to do things slowly. I endeavor to savor, and find this is most easily achieved at a slower pace- while I walk, bike, dig, plant, churn, and cook. There’s calm in those little moments, and in the midst of demanding careers, responsibilities, and obligations, these little moments are what makes me feel sane, connected.

Handwriting is one example of something that if done slowly, with care, can be so beautiful. It links history to our present, and represents art in the everyday.

So I am writing to assert that despite swirling debates, featured in both Time magazine and The Guardian ( here and here), handwriting is not dead. In fact, it’s loved. Just like soup from scratch, a fresh cut garden bouquet, and the rustling of the Sunday paper over coffee.

Although I’m acutely aware of the irony of writing a blog about all of these “slow” things, my aim, nevertheless, is to document these moments, recipes, and ideas, here.