spilled nasturtium ice cubes

edible flower ice-cubes + taking stock | 01

I’m just going to waltz along and perpetuate the “I’m in need of some summer cheer!” trend I’ve been setting in this space!  First it was muddled lime caipirinhas, today it is nasturtium ice-cubes, and tomorrow I’ll be starting some marmalade to can over the weekend. These ice-cubes kind of count for a winter treat. They are frozen, after all, right?

Like everyone else, I have spent this week poring over citrus-centric recipes, preserves, cocktails, and colors. I’m also fixated on wintry, citrus-y salads. And my baking addiction has been out of control, and I need to tone down the amount of brownies, crumbles, and cookies that have been occupying my counter top. It doesn’t help that my boyfriend is an excellent baker and gifts me tasty treats from time to time, most recently, a pear-shortbread streusel.

It’s been an up-and-down week here in Denver, as far as weather is concerned. I think it’s almost always the case here. As I walked in from work last night, snow was gently falling, leaving about three inches of sparkling white in our yard. The crazy thing is that I’ll most likely be donning my flops over the weekend.

Fine by me!

I didn’t actually make these edible flower ice cubes recently. In fact, I made them back in late October, when I was still harvesting vegetables and herbs from the garden. I came across a bag of them in the freezer this past week and was reminded how fun and easy it was to make these eye-catching drink decorations. I toss them into green tea, sparkling water, and cocktails. They turn a drab g+t into a work of art.

nasturtiums


edible flower ice-cubes


  • ice-cube tray of your choice
  • distilled water
  • a handful of edible flowers, herbs, or fruit

I had never made edible flower ice-cubes, so I kind of winged it my first attempt. I like to call the way I made my cubes the “abstract and loose” method. It doesn’t require much thought or freezing time. Simply take washed, pesticide-free, edible flowers {here’s a great list of different flowers to consider} and place them in an ice-cube tray. Press them down, as much as you can.

Next, cover with purified water. Press down any petals that want to pop up. If you’d rather not see any air bubbles in the ice-cubes and want a perfectly clear rendition, use distilled water. I was a little lazy and forewent distilling my water. I actually like the pops of white and bubbly lines that resulted. Freeze. Wait. Et voilà!

nasturtiums

Since making these, I found that there are serious techniques for making the most symmetrical and clear ice-cube, graced with a perfectly centered, suspended flower in the center. I call this the “perfectionist” method. It yields a beautiful result, but it takes a little more time and patience. I didn’t have those traits the day I made mine. Do I ever have those traits??

No extra ingredients are needed, but placement and timing are key. This post on Gardenista lays it out well. Simply fill an ice-cube tray 1/3 full with water. Freeze. Next, place a flower on the frozen surface and add more water, until the tray is 2/3 full. Freeze. Finally, add the final layer of water and fill to the top. Freeze. This method yields exactly the scenario I described in the previous paragraph. I’ll have to do this next time because their suspended rose ice-cubes are absolutely beautiful.

nasturtiumsnasturtiumsBe creative with your ice-cube additives and use organic herbs, like mint, and toss into mojitos, tea, or lemonade. I’ve also made ice-cubes with fresh or frozen fruit . As the cubes melt, the fruit adds flavor and provides a frozen treat to enjoy, as the drink warms up. Makes me want to take my time sipping.

Need some more inspiration?

nasturtiumsWhat versions of ice-cubes have you made? I know I want to bring back that retro punch ring. Are you also planning any citrus-inspired recipes or have a link to share? I’ll definitely attempt a few recipes this weekend, specifically, some marmalade riffs. I am closing with a piece inspired by one of my favorite bloggers and fellow Floridian, Keira Lennox. She is a florist with an inspiring Instagram account and routinely posts at A Pretty Penny. Every once in a while, she writes a “Taking Stock” post. A kind of “checking in” of sorts, where she describes what’s going on in her life.

I plan on checking in and “Taking Stock” in the middle of each month, so feel free to play along. Happy weekending!


taking stock | 01


Making  |  good use of my library card for new music and audiobooks!
Cooking  |  actually re-heating canned and frozen soups from the summer, serving alongside this bread.
Drinking Ruby Trust Cellars’ Gunslinger, Syrah blend. Yes, Colorado makes good wine!
Reading  |  Charlie Trotter’s Lessons in Wine Service, Winter Cocktails, by María Del Mar Sacasa, and, of course, the Botanical Interests’ seed catalog.
Wanting  |  to start waking up on time and a little earlier. I’m striving for 8:00.
Looking  |  unabashedly forward to the return of Merlot.
Playing  |  lots of scales and chord progressions on the piano. #newyearsresolutions
Wasting  |  my time, worrying what people will think. Stop. This. Now.
Drawing  |  triangles in my sketchbook and calligraphy each evening.
Wishing  |  to feel well-rested.
Enjoying  |  all the possibilities of the citrus season. I am beyond excited to make marmalade and syrups with all of the oranges and lemons.
Waiting  |  for Guffman. Sorry! That’s what first came to mind {…but I covet that ‘stache!}. Seriously, waiting to hear some news. I am hoping that it’s of the good variety!
Liking  |  the way my foam roller makes me enjoy the pain in my IT bands.
Wondering  |  what my cats are thinking.
Loving  |  how seriously my boyfriend takes his beer and beer pairings.
Hoping  |  I can get finally get to the point, where I treat myself how I treat my best friend.
Marveling  |  at my ability to devour 81 square inches of brownies in less than 36 hours. My sister can vouch. She made a batch with me, via phone and over the internets, in Florida.
Needing  |  another glass of wine. Even more so, to just go to bed.
Smelling  |  all of the citrus I bought this week. I still need to do something with it and not just dream up recipes and stalk Pinterest friends.
Wearing  |  a red bandana, black Nike shorts, yellow flats with rosettes, and a turquoise LS athletic shirt, layered over a navy blue Nike tank. There’s a reason I’m not writing a fashion blog.
Following  |  Pen and Peplum’s #52handlettered prompts over the next 52 weeks.
Noticing  |  how I love my cats to a serious fault.
Pinning  |  lots of citrus drinks.
Thinking  |  I should take my Advanced Sommelier test and then re-thinking if it even matters or would even make a difference in my life.
Feeling  |  happy that my uncle has a clean bill of health at 87 and grateful that I have my aunt as a friend, resource, and secret-keeper.
Listening  |  to Ariana Grande’s “Love Me Harder”. I am secretly in love with some pop. Please, don’t judge. On a more serious note, I am listening to Jo Robinson’s audiobook, Eating on the Wild Side.
Learning  |  how to master Copperplate Calligraphy.
Giggling  |  with my boyfriend about how hilarious Captain Murphy was on Sealab 2021.
Feeling  |  tired from one glass of wine but excited to meet my friend, Aimee, for coffee and calligraphy-talk in the morning.

XO,

Jayme

PS – “Taking Stock” inspired by Keira, who was inspired by Sydney, who was inspired inspired by Pip.

nasturtiumsnasturtiums nasturtiums nasturtiums PicTapGo-Image tabby cat ash nasturtiums


Self-love has very little to do with how you feel about your outer self.

It’s about accepting all of yourself.”

- Tyra Banks


 

two glasses filled with caipirinha cocktail

caipirinhas + new year’s intentions

Happy 2015!!

As I write my first blog post of the new year, I am compelled to revisit and thank this past year for what it gave me. 2014 was a spectacular year, filled with new friends, amazing writing opportunities, much dreaming of the future, breathtaking travel, lots of hard work, necessary goodbyes, and painful growth. I pushed myself to reach new goals, sometimes a little too hard, but I am grateful for the lessons I have learned along the way.

I took some time over the past few days to meditate on what it means to truly learn from both our successes, as well as our perceived failures. It’s a challenge to look at our failures eye-to-eye. But the fear of failing dissipates, when we realize that failure is almost always a prerequisite to success.

I am also learning that there is no such thing as an “overnight success.” Everything that I choose to do is propelling me toward the next goal. I am building upon what I’ve already done, and I am learning from my mistakes. As J. K. Rowling once said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” Pause and let that sink in.

I also recently read the book, Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon. His philosophy of putting yourself out there, failures and inchoate stages and all, really works. People are drawn to someone, who embraces an amateur-like stance, always learning something new and maintaining a teachable attitude. People love to see the actual process and behind-the-scenes photos or documentation of artists, makers, or business owners, for example.

So, I chose three words to conceptualize my goals for 2015. My friend, Kristy Gardner, wrote a post on compiling such a collection of words. I wanted to choose words that were measurable, positive, and conveyed action. I wanted them to resonate with my personal life, creative life, spiritual life, professional life, and physical life. What are my three words?

  • Create. I want to delve into projects that feed me on all levels and to try new techniques and applications.
  • Release. I tend to put a perfectionist slant on almost anything that I do. That’s a plus but also a crippling negative, at times. I want to live freer and write fluidly and even draw or paint or cook with a looser hand.
  • Share. Back to Austin Kleon’s book, I want to openly share my progression. That is VERY challenging to me, for I only want to submit or post the final and best piece. But we lose the opportunity for connection and lose that in-the-moment, on-the-floor feel and liveliness of our work.

What are your three words for 2015?


“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”

- Robin Sharma


Alright. On to that refreshing, mid-winter cocktail I mentioned a few paragraphs back! I’m sure we have all had our fill of bourbon cocktails or ciders or hot toddies. Maybe some of us are still enjoying them. I needed a break. Something that reminded me of summer and let me know that spring is on its way. Enter the caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil.

Cachaça is the base spirit for this drink. It is a Brazilian rum made from fermented sugar cane juice that is distilled. The cachaça is muddled with fresh, quartered limes and raw sugar, yielding a tart and sweet cocktail. It’s simple to make and superbly refreshing. Let’s get our muddling on!


caipirinha cocktail


  • 1 lime, quartered
  • about 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 2 ounces cachaça
  1. In a pint glass or mixing tin, muddle the quartered lime with raw sugar until pulverized. {I just love that word!}
  2. Add cachaça and ice. I used about 8 ice cubes, but I’ve seen some caipirinha recipes use crushed ice.
  3. Stir to integrate.
  4. Pour contents into a double old-fashioned glass or “bucket”, and if you have a sugar cane handy, use it as a garnish!
  • If you are unable to find cachaça at your spirits shop, you may substitute rum. I use 10 Cane Rum, when I don’t have any cachaça on hand.
  • What are my favorite cachaças? Boca Loca, Leblon, and Beija.
  • Not a fan of cachaça or rum? Try making a caipiroska, which is a caipirinha made with vodka.


“In the midst of winter I finally learned

that there was in me an invincible summer.”

- Albert Camus


Cheers to a creatively inspired 2015! How are you making your resolutions stick? What is your mantra or three defining words? I’m super excited for all that this upcoming year has for each of us. It’s all about how we plan, react, and hit the ground running, despite the detour of a fall.

XO,

Jayme

sparkling almond butter and chocolate cookies on a plate and on a cutting board

sparkling chocolate + almond butter cookies {and why procrastination works}

So, here we are, two days away from Christmas. My boyfriend is at the grocery, picking up the last-minute details for our dinner on Thursday, and I am hustling to finish a few projects, before I leave for work. I keep telling myself the mayhem at the restaurant is almost over. I can do this. Just two more nights. This month is our busiest, as you would expect, and the entire staff is either overworked or fighting off illness or just plain exhausted.

Despite the craziness, I do enjoy this time of year. I love stringing up lights on the front porch, making garlands and wreaths, decorating the tree, lighting as many candles as possible, and baking as much as I possibly can. I always make several batches of sparkling peanut butter cookies, but I swapped the PB for almond butter this year, and I think they might be absolutely perfect.

I usually set aside a day or two, where I bake everything I’m giving away as gifts. I’ll crank out seven or more batches of cookies, decorate them, and package them up. This system has always worked for me. This year, however, I took my mom’s advice. “Jayme,” she said, “Why don’t you do what I do and bake a batch ahead and freeze it. That way, you can bake your cookies throughout the month, and by the time Christmas is here, you won’t be stressed for time, and all of your baking will be done!”

Wow. Brilliant idea! I’ll actually plan ahead and save myself some sanity. Those were my initial thoughts. So, earlier this month, I baked two batches, put them in the freezer, and told myself and Steve not to touch them. What innocently started out as sneaking a cookie or two became a series of late-night cookie-eating fests. Both of those batches are gone. All 75 of those cookies.

Mom’s advice isn’t always right {I foresee my mom popping up in the comments later on!}. In this case, procrastination wins. I’m fine waiting until the last-minute to bake, if it will prevent me from eating all of the cookies destined for my friends and family. In fact, I am guilty of actually opening up gifts I’ve already packaged for my friends, if I knew there was a chocolate bar or some cookies inside. Why I can’t just bake a new batch or run down to the store amazes me. Instant gratification, I guess!

And I know I’m not the only one guilty here!


sparkling chocolate + almond butter cookies


  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Milk chocolate baking discs {I find mine at Whole Foods. You can also go classic and use chocolate kisses.}
  • granulated cane sugar for garnishing cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a standing mixing bowl, cream together butter and almond butter until well-blended.
  4. Add the egg, almond milk, and vanilla to the butter mixture.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Form dough into 1″ balls and roll in granulated cane sugar. I pour some in a small bowl.
  7. Place rolled dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Space cookies about 2″ apart.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and immediately press chocolate discs onto the center of each cookie.
  10. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Allow each cookie to cool, so that any melted milk chocolate has a chance to harden again. I’ve definitely made the mistake of stacking the cookies in haste, only to be disappointed with a chocolaty mess. I usually eat those, myself!
  • Try rolling the cookies in finely chopped toasted almonds or cinnamon sugar for another flavor profile and texture.
  • This recipe doubles well.

These cookies are so simple to make. They are extra delicious with the almond butter, but they are just as good, if you only have access to peanut butter. Lately, I have been making my own almond butter with my Vitamix. I find it cost-effective and satisfying to make my own. I’ll post the process soon.

For added decadence, which is always an option, I served these cookies alongside some Graham’s 10-Year Tawny Port. The notes of baking spices, cocoa powder, orange peel, toasted nuts, and dried figs are a perfect match for these cookies.

So, the moral of this delicious story is that procrastination CAN work in your favor. Set aside a baking day, last-minute, the day before you have to mail out your gifts. A freezer-full of a month’s worth of treats won’t be a temptation, and that added frenetic, holiday rush will power you through!

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season, no matter how you choose to celebrate! Come Thursday, I will be happily sequestered in my house, wearing my cozies, enjoying crab legs and Meursault, and watching Christmas movies. It looks like we’ll have snow on Thursday, as well!

Happy Holidays, my friends and family!

XO,

Jayme

my finished DIY Christmas pine wreath

pumpkin spice waffles, good bubbles + how to make a holiday wreath

Well, we finally got a Christmas tree a little over a week ago. If we are lucky, maybe we’ll even decorate it before the 25th! Not a likely story. So far, the potted evergreen bears only a loosely hung string of LED lights on its small branches. But it is so adorable just as it is!

This is the first year that Steve and I purchased a living Christmas tree. We even have a spot in the front yard dedicated to its earth-bound arrival in late spring. I scoured the rows of now-small evergreen trees at City Floral and found the perfect one. It’s a little crooked, but its trunk is strong and solid. On the way to check out, I spied some loose tree trimmings in a box and was instantly inspired to create a handmade wreath.

Luckily, one of my favorite garden bloggers, Erin of Blackberry Burrow, had recently posted a beautiful evergreen wreath tutorial, so I took down a few of her tips and made an adorably wild wreath happen.

Armed with an obscenely large cup of coffee, alongside my new Christmas tree buckled in the passenger seat of my car, I set out to find a sturdy wreath frame and some floral wire. And some bubbles for later. Because I love bubbles.

That was last weekend. My boyfriend and I were gifted a day off together, which never happens in the month of December, when life is blowing by at full-speed at the restaurant. Late nights, late mornings, baggy eyes {thank God for concealer!}, and copious cups of coffee are all commonplace this time of year. But those wouldn’t bog us down that day. Not one bit.

Steve and I have an annual tradition of compiling a holiday playlist and even burn it out, old-school-style, on a CD. Kind of a “best-of” compilation of music that catches our ears throughout the year. While Steve was mixing a first-pass at the computer, I set out to make my first-ever evergreen wreath. But first, more coffee and some pumpkin spice waffles. I’ll get to those in a moment.


how to make your own evergreen wreath


  • floral wire
  • evergreen boughs, branches, or pieces
  • a wire wreath frame {found at craft stores or a floral shop}
  • yard scissors or “pruners”
  • wire cutters
  1. Forage for stems and boughs from evergreen trees or grab some from your local florist. Erin suggested gathering branches after a winter storm, but since we had been experiencing 75-degree weather, that wasn’t an option for me. I found some at City Floral here in Denver. I even saw that Whole Foods sold evergreen pieces for only $5 a “bouquet” – not a bad price.
  2. Bunch together a few branches of evergreen and tie together with a few wraps of floral wire. Depending upon the thickness, I used either three or four branches. You may also trim the branches along the way, if you want a more uniformly sized wreath. You can always trim it later, though.
  3. Set out your wreath base on your working area. I used this 18″ wire wreath base from Michael’s.
  4. Using your wire cutters, clip a long piece of floral wire. Take your first “bouquet” that you tied together and tie it securely to the wreath frame. In the third photo below, you can see the back of the frame and notice how I secured the groupings of evergreen pieces.
  5. Stagger the next evergreen bouquet a few inches away from the first one, sort of layering each time. Continue in this fashion, until you reach the place, where you began. It’s really that easy. Now you can decorate it or leave it in its unruly, woodsy glory!

So, yeah, I was super stoked with my results! I actually ran out of evergreen pieces during the wreath-making process, so Steve kindly trimmed some of our overgrown bushes in our yard and came to the rescue. The little blueish pieces and the long, wispy pieces are from his handiwork!

We took a break to make some pumpkin spice waffles from Cookie + Kate. I made only a few adaptations from her original recipe. You can find her detailed post here. I am constantly inspired with her vegetarian cooking and creative ways to make healthy treats taste delicious.

I also had a bottle of Prosecco to taste and review, so I figured I’d taste it in the morning and make mimosas with the leftovers! And just in case you’re someone who needs a little brush-up on how to make the perfect mimosa, I’ve got that covered, as well. This post I wrote at the Kitchn a few months back will definitely hone your mimosa-making skills.


pumpkin spice waffles {gluten-free}


  • 2 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 packed pumpkin purée
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together until combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together. Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended.
  3. Now add the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir just until combined. There will be some small clumps, and that’s okay. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes. Now is the time to preheat your waffler.
  4. Once the time’s up, give your waffle mix one more toss with a spoon. Waffler sizes vary, but I found success scooping out a hefty 1/2 cup onto the surface of my waffle iron. This is the one that I use, but I am dying for a Belgian waffler {swoon!}.
  5. I took Kate’s advice and preheated my oven to 200 degrees, so that I could make the entire batch of waffles and place them in the heated oven, until I was ready to serve them. This was perfect advice!

  • Make your own oat flour. If you don’t have oat flour on hand, simply toss 2 1/4 cups of whole oats into a blender, until the oats turn into a fine flour.
  • Freeze your own pumpkin purée over the summer. Since I grow so many pumpkins and squashes, I always have pumpkin purée on hand. I roast up a batch of two or three, purée the roasted pumpkin, scoop out 2-cup portions, and freeze them in plastic bags. There’s no need to purchase any from a can!
  • Make these waffles ahead and freeze them. I placed them in freezer bags and removed as much air out of the bag as possible. I have enjoyed them multiple times over the past week!
  • Get creative. I infused my maple syrup with fresh thyme and added toasted pecans. I have definitely done this before, and here is the proof.


Nino Franco “Rustico” Prosecco, Valdobbiadene Superiore, Italy, MV


  • On the eyes – bright, pale straw.
  • On the nose – floral overtones, supported by golden delicious apple, green melon, white peach, and orange pith.
  • On the palate – This is a leaner style Prosecco and is great if you don’t gravitate toward bread-like, biscuit-y sparkling wines. It is moderate in acidity, has a chalk-like finish, and definitely showcases all of the aromas listed above. Delicious on its own and complemented with a little grapefruit juice!
  • On the table – Excellent with oysters or shellfish.
  • On the shelf – about $16.
  • On the ears – paired with SOHN‘s “Artifice” from the album, Tremors. I am freaking in love with his sound and am bummed that I missed him, when he passed through Denver earlier in November. The entire album is gorgeously written, and his haunting vocals deliver the words poetically. A couple of his tracks definitely made it to our Best-Of playlist. I’ll post a link soon, and if you would like a hard copy {ie: a compact disc}, I can make that happen, too. I’m all about music swaps!

Have an inspired, authentic, and profoundly creative rest of your week!

XO,

Jayme

swiss chard from the garden in fall leaves

hello, goodbye

Well, hello and happy….December!?! Yeah, I know it’s been awhile. I just got back from spending a week down in sunny Florida, in my hometown, to recharge, recenter, and visit my family. I had the most amazing and memorable time. The days there seriously flew by, and all of a sudden, here I am back in Denver, just as I was finally beginning to relax and regain a little sanity.

It is good to get back into the swing of things; although, I could easily trade Denver’s cooler temperatures and snow boots for the palm trees and sunshine I’m already missing.

Lately, in the midst of harvesting the last of the garden and preparing for a hectic holiday season, I’ve been meditating on the simple fact that time is truly a gift. We have the opportunity to either waste it, leisurely enjoy it, or make the most of it and squeeze every last drop out of it. Personally, I haven’t been the best steward of my time as of late. I have run myself ragged, been overly self-critical to an almost crippling degree, and not given myself the rest that I need for proper functioning.

So, here are my thoughts on saying “hello” to what I want more of and saying “goodbye” to the stuff that no longer serves a purpose, accompanied by some photos of our garden’s beautiful, final hurrah. And if you need a little reading music, this little song pairs quite perfectly.

Let’s rewind a few months back to summer. That blurry photo above? That pretty much depicts how my summer felt. My job at the restaurant demanded six-day workweeks because of our weekly summer concert series, a revamp of our by-the-glass wine list, and a cocktail list makeover. In the midst of the busyness, I squeezed in a trip to assist with wine-making in Oregon, flew down to Georgia for a weekend family reunion, and took a press trip to France.

Steve and I even did our first radio interview on Wine Life Radio back in September {if you want to laugh at my nervous self, talking about the restaurant, bubbles, and Pinot Noir, you can give a listen here}. As soon as I felt I had a moment to catch my breath, though, I would have a wine article due, or I’d glance out at the garden and realize I had herbs to harvest and tomatoes to pick, process, and preserve.

And then there was the blog.

I would eschew writing a post because I felt didn’t have the perfect photos, or I had gotten behind and felt the post was no longer relevant. And that is when the blog temporarily curled up and died. What once gave me joy became a looming, demanding burden in my mind’s eye. I have had to accept that there may never be a “perfect time” to write, and that the imperfections along the way and the messy reality are, surprisingly, captivating and endearing. I am realizing that it is also okay to give myself permission to actually live my life and not to feel compelled to document its evolution along the way. It is really okay to take a break.

All of this sounds so simple. Why is it always so difficult to actually put into practice? I’m totally chastising myself here.

I am realizing that living a “fulfilled” life does not necessarily mean cramming it full of activities, obligations, and projects. A fulfilled life means feeding ourselves with proper rest, letting go of things {projects, people, objects} that no longer serve a purpose, and making room for what we deem important at this point in our lives. So, yeah, I am ready for some change.

IMG_8812 IMG_6930 IMG_9164

I don’t know about you, but I am even more excited about making changes in the fall season, than I am come New Year’s Day. I guess it all traces back to my childhood, when I counted down the days until I could buy brand-new school supplies, go shopping for back-to-school clothes, and open those blank spiral-bound notebooks, just waiting for the first scribble. A fresh, new start with endless opportunity. Those memories symbolize change, newness, the learning of new skills, and the implementation of ideas. It was all so invigorating!

So, here are five actions I’m implementing right now, along with five that I’d rather never see in my life again.


5 Things I am Saying “Hello” to Right Now


  1. Being okay with where I am right at this moment. I don’t want to look back at the past or be upset with myself for not being where I think I should be. I want more contentment with the process of becoming. I could also add to this point, “manifesting happiness.” It is a choice. I am choosing peace and choosing to cultivate a positive outlook!
  2. Moving more. I want to run and feel physically strong. When I take the time to work out and fuel my body, my confidence rises. I am setting myself up to run a half marathon next year, and so far, I’ve already peaked at four miles just this evening. I’m still in my running clothes, as I’m typing this!
  3. Spending intentionally. My dear friend, Batya Stepelman, of the Sparrows + Spatulas blog, recently inspired me. She and her husband went on a “shopping fast” for a couple of months and saved an impressive amount. I am going to eat at home, deal creatively with the wardrobe I have, and rent movies from the library. No more absent-minded purchases!
  4. Creating daily. I’m not talking about placing unrealistic pressures upon me, but I am talking about looking for ways create more – sketching regularly, practicing my piano, making a new cocktail or recipe, or writing a haiku. Even rearranging furniture counts!
  5. Getting up earlier. I work late. That’s the nasty truth right now. It is so challenging, however, to simply put myself to bed, when I get home, sometimes around midnight. Can you imagine getting off work at 5:00 and then going to bed within an hour? Yeah, not likely. I am going to force myself to get up at the same time each day. The days are so short right now, and if I don’t get enough sunlight hours, I get seriously depressed.

5 Things I am Saying “Goodbye” to Right Now


  1. Procrastinating. I think I just might the world’s worst procrastinator. Sometimes it works out great, like when I clean my house, empty my email, and polish the glassware, all because I am nervous about a writing assignment. The procrastination feels justified! I was reading Real Simple recently and had a profound epiphany from one of their articles: if a task only takes five minutes, do it now, instead of putting it on your to-do list.
  2. Comparing myself to others. This one is lethal for me. Comparing my work, life, or ideas to someone else’s is creatively stifling. It kills friendships and prevents any forward movement in my own life. As I reinvent my creative and design career, I tend to look at others, who have “succeeded” and sometimes find myself depressed. I am trying to simply work hard and congratulate myself on my progress, as well as being genuinely happy for the success of others!
  3. Feeling guilty about relaxing. I have a tough time doing nothing. As soon as I lie down on the couch, my mind is racing onto the next project, and I am scanning the living room for my to-do list. I think that I will be a better relaxer, when I stop the procrastinating!
  4. Thinking the world is out to get me. I tend to brace myself, when I venture out into the world. All of that tension and worry is wasted energy, and my emotional state is a product of my own making, not a product of my environment.
  5. Over-committing. This one is a tough one. Sometimes, the timing just isn’t right. The opportunity might sound amazing, but what does it cost me or my family? My health, peace, sleep, and sanity are much more valuable to me. Instead of saying an emphatic “yes” to helping a friend or taking on another project, I am going to say, “I will get back with you.”

 

I will go ahead and close this post with a few more photos. They do speak a million words, and I have already written a little over my norm here already! Here’s to all of us living more intentionally, welcoming more creativity into our lives, respecting boundaries, being authentic with our answers, slowing down, knowing when to say no, and letting old habits die.

I wish you a very happy beginning to the holiday season!

XO,

Jayme

 

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetIMG_9502 IMG_9530 IMG_9190

cucumber + melon + white grape sangria

Doesn’t summer seem to be just flying by? Even though fall is soon approaching, I am not giving up this season without a fight. Right about now is when farmers’ markets and gardens start to really pump out the produce, so I am trying my best to capitalize on the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables. At the moment, most of the tomatoes in my garden are plump and green, but give them a few more hot, toasty days, and I will be making and canning tomato sauce on a weekly basis.

I have definitely been enjoying my fair share of rosé and white wine this summer, but sometimes I simply want to sip on something different. Enter the classic, refreshing wine cocktail, sangria. Most traditional sangria recipes call for wine, an additional spirit or two, maybe a little citrus juice, and a bunch of fresh fruit tossed in for a colorful infusion. Ever since I got my new slow juicer, however, I have been experimenting with incorporating fresh juices in almost everything – even in my sangria. This particular sangria recipe is a unique, herbaceous, mash-up of cucumber, white grapes, and melon. It’s just about as garden-to-glass as it gets!

I love sangria, but so many times, the fruit gets mushy, as it infuses. I don’t even end up eating it because of the texture. By juicing the fruit in sangria, you get the freshest flavor without the unwanted consistency. I use a Hurom HG Elite Slow Juicer. It’s one of those kitchen splurges that you won’t regret. What makes it so special? It is a heavy-duty, slow-masticating juicer that cold-presses every last drop of juice from foods, preserving the inherent nutritional integrity. And we all need a little healthy kick, once we add in the wine and booze, right!? I still add freshly cut fruit, but I toss it into the sangria, only when I am ready to serve it.

Wine is the base of sangria, so choose a wine that you wouldn’t mind sipping on by itself. You can make sangria with either red or white wine as a base. This particular recipe calls for a white wine base, and I chose Pinot Grigio, since its citrus and tropical notes pair well with the fresh cucumber and honeydew. Select a dry, un-oaked, style of white wine, with crisp acidity, like a Pinot Grigio, Albariño, or something different, like Vinho Verde.

I am also pretty choosy about the spirits that I use for my cocktails. There are plenty of flavored vodkas out there on the market, but there are only a few that I consider an option. Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka is, most importantly, an organic option. It is made “with respect from seed to glass”, and the care and intention behind this product is evident – crisp, summer cucumber with a clean, light finish. This was a perfect addition to this sangria.


cucumber + melon + white grape sangria


  • 1 bottle of Pinot Grigio
  • 4 ounces Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka
  • 2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 6 ounces white grape juice {about a half-pound of grapes}
  • 6 ounces honeydew or Galia melon juice {a little less than half a melon}
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • soda water
  • cucumber + mint ice cubes {see recipe below}
  • mint leaves, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices for garnish

Give yourself a day ahead to make and freeze your fruit cubes. You can juice the fruits and vegetables in advance, as well. That way, the juice has time to chill in the fridge.

I tested two kinds of cucumber ice cubes – basil and mint. I really enjoyed the bright subtlety of the mint. Basil is a pretty intense flavor, and it seemed to overpower the delicate aroma and flavor of the cucumber. I say experiment with both and see what you like!

  1. Juice the melon, cucumber, and lemon, following your juicer’s manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Combine the juices and add the Pinot Grigio, cucumber vodka, and elderflower liqueur, mixing well.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Pour into glasses, garnished with cucumber + mint ice cubes.
  5. Top with a splash of soda water and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, frozen grapes, or cucumber slices.
  6. Sit on your back porch, patio, or park and enjoy!

cubes


cucumber + mint ice cubes


  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 8 ounces filtered water
  1. Juice the cucumber and the mint leaves, skimming any foam off the top of the juiced mixture. This yields about 8 ounces.
  2. Combine 8 ounces filtered water with the cucumber and mint juice.
  3. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid.
  4. Add the cucumber + mint cubes to your sangria {these cubes are pretty intense, so toss in a couple per glass, and fill the rest of the glass with some plain ice cubes}. The cucumber flavor will slowly infuse the sangria, as the cubes melt.

This recipe yields one ice cube tray’s worth of liquid, so plan accordingly.

What if you don’t own a juicer? Don’t fret. You can still create a fresh juice sangria, using a blender. I used my Vitamix for years before owning a juicer and simply strained my blended fruits and veggies through a chinois or sieve for clarity. Williams-Sonoma has a wide spectrum of styles to choose from – cold-press juicers like mine and whole food juicers, along with the high-speed variety.

Cheers to stretching out these last days of summer! I refuse to even think about pumpkins, ghosts, or turkeys, even though the decorations are already up in the stores. I must admit that I did cave and buy a pumpkin candle at Pier One the other afternoon. I couldn’t resist. I’ll just save it for later. And let me know if you have a great recipe for sangria, or if you decide to make this particular green version!

XO and happy summering!

cherry + vanilla + coconut milk ice pops {vegan}

I made these cherry + vanilla + coconut milk ice pops a couple of weeks ago. They disappeared all-too-quickly – within, like, two days! Or so I thought. I was cleaning out my freezer yesterday and, to my delight, found that one had slipped under some frozen blueberries. It was waiting so patiently for me to find it! Needless to say, I went out to the garden, sat down, and tried to savor it slowly. These are some my favorite ice pops to date.

It was almost like I was immediately rewarded for taking the time to clean out my frozen storage department. I have been following along with the Kitchn’s twice-a-year “Kitchen Cure”, a step-by-step revamp of your kitchen over the course of a few weeks. I am not quite up to date with the assignments, but I have the best of intentions to get my kitchen into shape, since our recent remodel. An upcoming {and long-awaited} blog post on the process and the details will definitely happen in the near future. We are awaiting the delivery of our range hood, and then we can complete the final tiling!

Until then, let’s enjoy some cherries!


cherry + coconut milk ice pops {vegan}


  • 9 ounces full-fat coconut milk
  • 12 ounces ripe cherries, pitted and fully blended
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Combine the coconut milk with 1/8 cup of the agave nectar and the vanilla. Stir to incorporate.
  2. Evenly divide the mixture into six ice pop molds and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, purée the pitted cherries and add the remaining 1/8 cup agave nectar and the lemon juice, mixing together thoroughly. Set aside.
  4. Once the 10 minutes have passed, slowly pour and evenly distribute the cherry mixture over the coconut mixture. Freeze for 30 more minutes.
  5. Now you can add the stick and continue freezing for another 3-4 hours.
  6. Wait patiently, and then eat them UP!

We grabbed some cherries from the Pearl Street Farmers’ Market here in Denver and also hand-picked our own sour cherries at Berry Patch Farms in Brighton. Aside from eating them right out of the box and making a couple of batches of ice pops, we have made a summer fruit bake, baked a cherry pie, fixed some brandied cocktail cherries, and mixed up some amazing cherry bourbon smashes.

I’ll close with some shots from a recent trip to Berry Patch Farms. This organic, family-run farm is about 30 minutes north of our house, but the trip is always worth it. We brought home some free-range, fresh eggs, colorful flowers, herbs, and vegetables. This past trip, we picked cherries {first time ever!}, and it was so much fun. We arrived about an hour before they closed, so we hustled and managed to quickly pick about eight pints. It helps to have a 6’4” boyfriend to score the cherries at the top, that no one else had gotten that day!

XO!