For a change of pace, remember that Summer is an invitation to free up your daily routine to take some time to explore and add a new activity to your “how to do playbook.” I have narrowed today’s list to 6 easy ideas to wrangle. Use the tips below as a starting point to get you to the finished product. For me, the best part is the reward I get from doing things myself and sharing them with friends and family. Rolling up your sleeves, enlisting the kids and friends and sharing good times, make each day a joy of learning.
How To Shake A Cocktail
Why not start out with a refreshing “pick-me-up.”
Select and prepare the glassware. Add ice if using or chill glass in the fridge. No one wants a warm drink. In your drink station or bar with your stainless steel shaker, place the smaller shaker near you on the bar and the larger shaker behind it. Put all of your ingredients in the smaller shaker, starting with the least expensive, so if you mess up and have to start over, you are only throwing out the cheapest and not your special aged Scotch. Add ice to the bigger shaker so that when you are ready to shake, you can see and smell your cocktail. Shake all cocktails that contain fruit or citrus juices.
Shake it up
Tap the shakers to secure, keeping the larger on the bottom. With one hand, place two fingers on either side of the seam like you throw a football. Hold your hand on the bottom for extra support, if necessary. Shake hard and short for about 20 seconds, holding the shakers in front of you or by your ear to get the cocktail cold. Then, tap the seam with the palm of your hand to separate the shakers. Retrieve your cold glass and leave shaker closed until ready to pour.
Gently pour your shaken drink into the chilled glass. For an extra smooth drink, strain twice with a fine mesh strainer.
Like James Bond admonishes, a Martini should be stirred, never shaken. All Martini like drinks and spirit drinks should get the stir treatment.
A well-made drink garnish can simply be a lemon or orange zest, artfully cut with a peeler or a sprig of mint or edible flower is a nice touch. Many drinks today have reached a new extravagance in artistic garnishes which do enhance the drink experience, but you don’t have to be seduced by such antics.
If you are hankering for a quick, cool drink and your cocktail shaker is on the fritz, stir up a “fizzy whizzy” easy drink.
Tequila Sunset Recipe
Fill glass with ice
Add 2 T Grenadine
Top off with 3 T Blanco Tequila
Add 6 T freshly squeezed orange juice
Add 1/4 cup orange flavored sparkling water (La Croix)
Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a fresh orange slice
If you love Charlie Chaplin as much as I do, see how his “Little Tramp” shakes up a cocktail in his special inimitable way.
How To Preserve Fresh Herbs
Fresh aromatic herbs deserve a special treatment. If you have an herb garden, you know how wonderful they smell. All grocery stores are now stocked with a wide variety of fresh herbs which add a depth to all your recipes. Here are three different methods of fresh herb preservation.
Herbs that are filled with water need to be treated like a bouquet of flowers. Chives, parsley, and cilantro should be placed in a jar of water and stored in the fridge for a lasting freshness.
To preserve herbs in oil, place a sprig such as rosemary or other hardy herb in a tall bottle filled with oil for your own herb infused flavoring. Store in the fridge and use within a week in your favorite salad dressing or spritzed over roasted veggies. You may also chop the herbs and place in an ice tray, topped off with olive oil to maintain the flavor. Freeze and enjoy as you like.
If you have an abundance of thicker herbs such as thyme or oregano, dry them. Spread the herbs on a plate or baking sheet and set them on the oven for a couple of days to dry. You can also put them in an unlighted oven, but don’t forget they are there and try to bake in the oven. Turn over the herbs often so they dry evenly. After a couple of days, strip off the leaves and place in small, airtight jars. Home dried herbs are more savory and by making them in small batches, the delicate flavor is preserved – no more dried up, stale, store bought herbs disintegrating in your spice rack.
How To Read The Sky
Our sky is a miracle light show each night. Look up at the night sky and acquaint yourself with the stars and planets to place yourself in our big planet.
In case you forgot 7th grade science, locate the North Star or Polaris as it never moves from its top position directly over the North Pole which always points us to true North. Here are a few tips to orient yourself to the North Pole.
The Big Dipper is the easiest constellation to find which is your guide to locating the North Star. On the Big Dipper, find the two stars on the far side of the dipper or the scoop. Then, draw a line away from the first star in the scoop of the Big Dipper, straight up at a 90 degree angle. Presto! The North Star should be shining brightly to guide you on your way.
Using the Sun is another way to get a good sense of direction and a good idea of the time of day. Around noon, the sun points south in the northern hemisphere and in the southern hemisphere it points due north. Anywhere you find yourself in the world, the sun rises in the east and is at its high point in the sky at noon and sets in the west. Just look up and let our faithful sun or the North Star help guide your way, should you find yourself lost.
How To Save A Seed
Did you know that the fruits and vegetables you just brought home from the fridge are harboring the seeds that you can plant and grow? The seeds of produce such as tomatoes and peppers, melons and winter squash can be saved once they are fully ripe. Scoop out the seeds and spread them to dry on a baking sheet. Keep the seeds in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight or wind blowing in through the windows. A couple of days should do the trick. Cucumbers and summer squashes need extra ripening beyond the eating stage. Wait until these are soft and scoop out the seeds. Rinse them well and dry as above directions.
If you want to save flower seeds from your garden, allow some of the petals to turn brown and dry out. Clip the dead seed heads into your hands or into a paper bag and let the pod drop into a bag and shake the pod to let loose the seeds.
Store the vegetable and flower seeds into small envelopes, marked with the name, date and variety of each seed type. Place the envelopes into an airtight jar and keep up to a year to plant and grow.
How To Grow Healthy Houseplants
Green plants are good for our health and our soul, nourishing us in both ways, but we need to keep them happy and strong to gain the benefits. House plants clean the air, soaking up toxic home air pollutants, turning carbon dioxide into oxygen-a wondrous cycle. Green plants are natural air fresheners and beautiful accents in our homes.
Houseplants prefer moderate to hot temperatures from 50 degrees to 80 degrees. Direct heat is disliked by our green plants so avoid heat vents blasting away for the happiest plants.
Watering is the biggest challenge to long lasting indoor plants. Set up a regular schedule based on the type of plants growing in your rooms. It is better to water your plants deeply and infrequently. The entire surface should be wet so that the roots are well surrounded with water. Pots with drainage holes are best so that the roots can breathe and not be soaking in water. Room temperature water is best even though a few ice cubes in your orchids will work as orchids need very little water. Plant experts love filtered water as some of our city water supplies contain harmful minerals. Don’t overlook plant food as it really is a miracle drug for all plants, flowering and green.
If your thumb is not eternally green, try these low light, easy to grow plants that practically need no care except an occasional, “good morning” and a hug. Pothos, Snake Plants (my favorite) and Spider Plants top this list and Cacti are austere, modern and visually stunning and need little care.
How To Make Marshmallow Play Dough
Now for some real fun with your little ones for a treat that together you can concoct, bend, stretch, pinch, pat and stamp, and the best part – EAT! Store bought Play-Doh is one of the few things that is never allowed in my house with its awful smell and crumbly mess. But this safe and edible Play Dough is irresistible, easy to make and requires no batteries.
Marshmallow Play Dough Recipe
6-8 fresh and soft marshmallows
1/4 cup of cornstarch
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Drops of food coloring in the amount of color desired (optional)
Place the marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl. Add the cornstarch and the oil. Microwave on high about 30 seconds or until puffy. Add the drops of food coloring to your desired shade or leave white. Knead the dough together with your hands until pliable. Add more cornstarch if needed for a stiffer dough and add a little coconut oil to your hands to prevent sticky hands.
Make additional bowls of dough for different colors and play dough away the day.
I hope you discovered a few secrets to make your days smooth sailing, with the wind at your back, always on the lookout for where you want to be.