Summer Stone Fruit Sangria


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One of my favorite things about this summer has been our amazing local farmer's market in Monterey. Each week, I load up with so much stone fruit from Minazzoli Farms that I think there's no way we could possibly eat it all, but we always do. John Shea devoured three whole peaches by himself today! It is the juiciest, most delicious and ripe fruit we've ever tasted, that I've been adding peaches, nectarines, pluots and plums to just about everything I've been cooking... including this incredibly fresh sparkling sangria. It isn't the weekend, but every day is a precious gift so Tuesday sangria it is.

I usually like to make a white sangria with sauvignon blanc but we brought home Rosé from Boyd Family Vineyard in Napa last week that sounded perfect with fresh fruit. Sparkling cider adds bubbly and sweetness, and with the fruit juice, this is a fresh, flavorful and light sangria that embodies the end of summer. You can either use a blender or a juicer and takes no more than five minutes to make. Do you "juice"? Cam and I have been convinced by many friends and have heard great things about juicers from Williams-Sonoma

I hope that wherever you are, you have a wonderful rest of this Tuesday and get to relax outside tonight with a glass of sangria!

Summer Stone Fruit Sangria
(serves 8)

2 bottles Rosé, chilled
1 bottle sparkling apple cider, chilled
3 very ripe yellow peaches
3 very ripe yellow nectarines
3 very ripe pluots or plums
sprigs of fresh rosemary for garnish, optional

For optimal flavor, choose fruit that is ripe to the point of almost spoiling. It should be soft enough around the stem that when you lightly push your finger into the fruit, it leaves an indentation. Local farmer's markets usually have the best selection!

Blend or juice one of each of the three kinds of fruit until all of the fruit and skin has dissolved. Set aside. Slice the remaining fruit. In a large pitcher, stir to combine the fruit juice/purée with the rosé and sparkling cider. Add in the fruit slices and top with rosemary for a pretty garnish. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Two Days in Napa Wine Country with My Love


Monday, August 18, 2014

Cam and I snuck away to Napa for two glorious days last week. Nana Bethie flew all the way from Colorado to spend the week with us and took charge of John Shea so I could take Cam on an early birthday trip. Thank you, Nana!!  We adore our baby boy, but any chance we can get out of our daily routines and spend time alone, we are so thankful. I started planning this little getaway a few months ago... and it turned out that it couldn't have come at a better time. 

We stayed in a beautiful b&b off the Silverado Wine Trail, owned by such a sweet and hospitable couple, with only four rooms that opened onto a veranda overlooking the pool & jacuzzi (both of which we used morning and night!) and miles of vines. The grounds were gorgeous. There was a huge fig tree outside our window, small olive grove, and fruit and citrus trees. The owner also has her own chocolate cookbook and breakfast came straight from it every morning. I cannot think of anyone who would want to start the day like that!?  The first evening there, with a glass of wine in hand, we walked the surrounding vineyards and spent so much time dreaming outloud together about our own vineyard. You'd laugh at how we have planned it down to details. Now it's a matter of, Lord willing, waiting for that time in our lives, our savings to grow and our prayers to be answered! 

We got to meet a handful of vintners from small, family-owned wineries and spent hours with each, drinking their amazing wines and picking their brains. To be honest, we fit in much better in the down to earth and laid back wine country in the south island of New Zealand. We aren't and wouldn't even know how to be wine snobs; we just love wine! Our absolute favorite in Napa though was Rowland Cellars. Gerry & Linda came to the b&b for the nightly wine pouring (amazing, right!?) and we sat out on the veranda with them learning and being inspired. We also slept in, which is monumental, rode our bikes to wineries, shared delicious meals (Farmstead was our favorite!) and the best of all, got to enjoy each other uninterrupted. I tried as hard as I could not to let my camera be an extension of my arm -- and success! -- these are it. 
I love my husband. Happy birthday this Thursday to him!!

Our Cameron-Made Farm Table + Thoughts on Eating Together


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My husband built this gorgeous table! And my photos do not do it justice! We've talked often about buying an extending farm table for the past few years. I told Cam what I envisioned for it, and instead of us trying to find and buy that vision, he just looked at me and said, "You know, I could build that. Yeah, I'm going to build it." After using two weeks of vacation earlier in the summer, he did! He built it out of solid douglas fir, and made a leaf for it that takes it from a six foot table to a nine foot. It seriously weighs about a thousand pounds and I think it's the most beautiful piece of furniture he's created yet.

I love cooking (as you know!) and it has been a lot of fun to already have friends and family around our beautiful table that Cam worked so hard on. One of my best friends Carie spent a couple days with us a few weeks ago, my big brother Matt was here last week, Nana Beth is here right now and we've had a few friends over for dinner, which means I have a lot of new recipes to share soon. We're hosting an Olmsted dinner here next week for 14. Let's hope they like what I make... !

When we were in Okinawa, our dining table was on our deck (and really uncomfortable) so we avoided it every time it was too humid or we didn't feel like being eaten alive by mosquitos and spent many nights eating on our couch in the cool AC. We were good about ditching our phones and distractions to have that time together, but more so now.  Half the time I don't even know where my phone is. Ha! Seriously. It's been wonderful to slow down, drink wine, and really talk to each other and re-connect after John Shea goes to sleep. It's become precious time to us each night and really good for our marriage.

I wholeheartedly think that the table is the very heart of a home. It's such an important part of life. None of us can survive without eating and drinking, but meals are so much more than that. It's time to sit down, relax, talk, communicate. I think that something so simple has such great importance, with ramifications through our whole society. All throughout the Bible, too, we see breaking of bread together, meals shared, good food and wine, real conversation. Cam and I love the verse in John 12 about Lazarus reclining at the table with Jesus.  It's after he had been raised from the dead and had tasted paradise. It's like he's saying, yeah, I know what awaits me and nothing in this world can take away that joy so I'm going to sit here all night next to Jesus and fully enjoy this meal. Yes. I love too how Jesus is inclusive. "Come and eat," "Come and see," "Come and have breakfast." (John 21:12) I want to be like that!

If my blog does nothing else, I hope that it encourages people to eat together. Preferably with really good food and wine :)

(More Cameron-Made Furniture here)

John Shea at 11 Months


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I feel like Cam and I blinked and we're a month away from our sweet baby being a one year old! (Though, haha, the months of sleepless nights and the 5month sleep regression felt at the time like an eternity!) Our John Shea is more little boy these days than baby it seems. You can find him crawling as fast as he possibly can to the patio door, sliding open the screen with his chubby little fingers and scurrying in a beeline, giggling the whole way, to his favorite substance on earth: dirt. His curiosity, abilities and understanding have exploded lately. He's also been a champion sleeper this month! He was an angel and slept like one the week we really needed it... like he understood that mama needed rest and he needed to be on his best and sweetest behavior. I even got extra open-mouthed kisses all over my face. God's grace is constant. I think he would have become a good sleeper much sooner if we hadn't been living like gypsies the past few months, taking him all over through different time zones. We still have rough nights here and there but I'm sure that will (along with all of his other ever-changing patterns!) continue to ebb and flow as he gets older. He still captures attention from every person we pass by, still smiles and wants to "chat" with everyone, is still the most joyful person we know, still loves snuggling and giving hugs and kisses, and still eats about as much as a grown adult. Currently his favorite foods are marinated mozzarella in olive oil and herbs and parmesan crusted salmon. Ha, quite the refined palate! John Shea, we tell you this about a thousand times a day, but we love you so so so much and cannot get enough of you. All of these day-to-day moments your Daddy and I get with you are the sweetest, most precious gifts.

My Camera and Lens


Monday, August 11, 2014

This post has been a long time coming! I'm selling my camera, which is bittersweet to part with yet so exciting to upgrade. I  have loved my Nikon so much that it's taken me almost two years to get the ball rolling with this, and I honestly would have ended up waiting another year or two if Cam hadn't pushed me to finally make the leap. It is a Nikon d90 and included is a 50mm 1.8 and a 18-270mm lens that I have used for travel, food photography, all of John Shea's photos... literally every photo that I've taken on my blog. Something that I have absolutely loved about Nikon is the color quality. It is beautiful and has allowed me to keep my photos very natural with minimal editing (I always shoot in natural light, and slightly up the brightness & contrast, sharpness, and rarely add saturation).

Cam and I bought it just before we were married and it's the camera I taught myself how to shoot exclusively manual on. It has been used and loved -- traveled all over the world with us! -- but is well cared for and I've never had a single maintenance problem with it. 

If you're interested, please send me an email :) 

(All of these were taken in Okinawa, except for the third one down {New Zealand} and the second one from the bottom {Vietnam})

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