There are so many things I love about today.
What is better than a Memorial Day with friends, family, ours dogs and a fabulous cookout? Zach's mom and sister arrived to town Friday afternoon for the long weekend. Zach's sister, Wendy, will be in town all summer interning and working and enjoying the sweet California summer. We have been so busy all weekend so today was our chance to recoup. We set up our picnic table and loaded it up with some juicy burgers (with all the fixin's of course), sweet-buttery-salty-peppery corn, potato salad, watermelon, cookies and pie. Some friends joined our fab four to devour this feast in our warm sunny backyard.
Zach manned the grill.
Everyone pitched in to get the spread to the table.
Memorial Day weekend is the first of the summer, and we kicked it off properly.
The four of us spent most of the day in the apartment or outback with the grill. It was just one of those perfect days to me. I actually had time to wake up and make breakfast (spinach, artichoke and parmesan frittata), something I so rarely get to do.
I made some Southern Style Sweet Tea with the mountain blossom honey we bought down in Jullian, California a couple months ago, and I even whipped up a pie while I was at it. I know that all sounds exhausting for one single morning, but it was actually really relaxing for me. As a few friends started to arrive, we moved the party downstairs under the peach tree in the backyard. Stanley slept quietly nearby while Sube's dog, Three-Hole-Punch, pranced from person to person, looking for the suckers (me) who would give up a bite of their burger or whatever else she could get her paws on.
As early afternoon shifted to late afternoon, I found myself at the dining-room table in the midst of a highly anticipated sewing machine tutorial. Zach's mom was not only kind enough to bring her old sewing machine with her to give to me, she also taught me how to use it. I am going to continue making some fancy aprons with that machine, only now I will be about 9823745873658746 times faster...that is the hope, at least. Ain't she a beauty?
We went on to watch a really good movie called The Machinist from the comfort of our living-room sofa and ate California Chicken Cafe for dinner (a Lindzachary favorite). SeewhatImean? Perfect day.
Having Wendy here reminds me of the summer I spent doing the same thing she is about to do. It was a summer that changed my life in so many ways. My dad and I made the drive across the country on I-10, 10 hours a day for 4 days straight. It was a really special trip for me. While we did not make t-shirts to commemorate the drive (as Wendy and her mom did), we had a really good time listening to books on tape, finding good places to eat and talking a lot. I am pretty sure San Antonio was my favorite spot to stop.
Arriving in a new city like LA can be pretty overwhelming, but I seem to remember looking at it as a city in which I will never be bored instead of a city that will overcome me. It was really hard when my dad left to go back to Florida, leaving me in a new place by myself. I doubted my decision for about a minute. Internal dialogue: "What have I done? What do I do now? It's a beautiful day. I like it here."
I had never been so alone, but I embraced that feeling more than anything. I went to movies by myself, I shopped (wayyyyyyy too much), I went to the beach, to the farmer's markets and I ate at great restaurants. As a bonus, I loved the internship I was fortunate enough to do. I treated LA like my own little Paris, sitting on the outdoor patio at restaurants with a book (or more likely a magazine), taking walks and seeking out the city's great hidden places. I spent the summer falling in love with California and finding a career that seemed to excite me all at the same time. While I missed my friends and family in Florida ("missed" is probably an understatement, but I am sure you get the idea), I think that summer alone was something I needed and will always value. I think time alone with anyone teaches you a lot about them, even if that person is yourself.
I am glad Zach and I get the chance to be a part of Wendy's summer in LA. I really hope it can be as memorable of an experience for her as I found it to be 5 years ago.
Now for a recipe! Why? Because that is what I do! It is all about the food here. Every time I ask Zach what he wants me to make for dessert, he either mentions key lime pie or cheesecake, neither of which I have attempted until now. I found a recipe that seems to incorporate the two (although it is far more key lime pie than it is cheesecake). The recipe includes cream cheese in the pie filling. I am not a huge fan of key lime pie, but this one seemed pretty darn tasty. It is perfect for a hot summer day with a glob of cool whip on top. Doesn't it just make you want to have a picnic?
California Lime Pie
(recipe from Recipezaar, originally from the Cincinnati Enquirer - makes 8 - 10 servings)
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice (I could not find any here in LA so I made it the California way with regular old lime juice)
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (you can make this yourself, but I just bought one for convenience)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Beat softened cream cheese until creamy.
Add sweetened condensed milk and beat to incorporate.
Add egg yolks and beat well.
Add lime juice and beat till combined.
Pour mixture into pie crust and spread with spatula until evenly distributed.
Place on cookie sheet and then into the oven and bake for 10 min or until the filling begins to set.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack at room temp.
Then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour (two works better)
Cut into 8 slices and serve with a generous helping of whipped cream.
This post was written as a Guest Blog for my #1 alltime favorite blog: The Boston Lady (or as I like to call her: the giver of the sewing machine...seriously...so nice!) If you like my blog, you will love hers.