Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer, Summer, Summertime

Que Will Smith and D.J. Jazzy Jeff...  Now that we're starting to get in the mood, its time to gather the rest of my summer essentials.

For some reason (and you can call me crazy, I don't care) after I go swimming, I instantly crave a sandwich and when I'm sitting in the sun, I CRAAAAVE (hopefully the three extra A's make you aware of its intensity) lemonade. It's just how it is.  I can't fight it so a-sandwich-and-a-lemonading I will go.

The lemonade is a pretty simple find but my challenge is how to keep it from getting watered down in the hot summer sun.  If there is one thing that makes me fly into an uncontrollable rage, it is a watered down drink.  Kidding... but it isn't ideal.  I had an idea to create "lemon ice cubes," ones that would keep a drink cold but not dilute it.  For this, I sliced up some lemons, rinsed each slice in water and laid them out on a plate...

I sprinkled some of the slices with granulated sugar and then popped the whole plate in the freezer for a couple hours. When I pulled them out, they were ice cold and pure lemony perfection.  Then, I used the frozen lemons as ice cubes and placed the sugared slice on the rim of the glass (you know, to make it a little more sassy).  Side note: I'm pretty sure the sugared lemon slices would be an outstanding addition to a lemon drop shot or a lemoncello.  Haven't done it yet, but you bet your bottom I'm going to soon.

It worked out really well (although, I recommend popping the lemonade in the fridge first and using the frozen lemons to keep the drink cold, because they were not that successful in making it cold) and doesn't it look absolutely refreshing?!?!  Oh, and I know this goes without saying but it also makes for a SUPER delightful vodka and lemonade.  Duh.

Now, onto the sandwich...  I tried this little gem while I was out to lunch with my friend at Pret A Manger and had to replicate it.  It is a Balsamic Vinegar Chicken and Avocado Sandwich and it is one of the best sandwiches I've had in a long time.

All you need is:
* A Hearty Bread (I used Healthy Multi-Grain from Trader Joe's)
* Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
* Balsamic Vinegar
* Wisconsin Swiss Cheese
* Avocado
* Lettuce

Slice chicken breast in half and tenderize, so that the cutlet is fairly thin.  Place chicken on grill for several minutes a side.  Before flipping, drizzle on desired amount of Balsamic Vinegar.  Toast bread and cheese, then  top with sliced avocado, lettuce and chicken.  (I let the chicken cool for a bit so it was room temperature and not hot.  Hot chicken on a hot day just doesn't seem that appealing.  Side note: I also had this sandwich later and used the leftover chicken straight from the fridge.  Both were delicious.)  Drizzle over some additional Balsamic to taste (I don't know about you but I love this stuff) and enjoy.

Now its time to go sit in my kiddie pool and have a delicious chicken sandwich with a super cooool glass of lemonade!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Mom's Garbage...

If I had to put a number on it, about 70% of the furniture in my apartment was acquired because my parents or another family member was throwing it out, 19% is stuff I borrowed from my parents for a party and then failed to give it back, 10% were garbage picked “treasures” and then 1% was purchased off of Craigslist.   I’m not lying!!  Ok, wait, I did lie.  I have one couch that was purchased from CostPlus World Market.  You can reconfigure the math but I hope you get the full mental picture that I live in a Salvation Army store.   On one hand, this is awesome because almost everything I “inherited” was free, but on the other, some looks a little worn.   I decided a fun summer project would be to redo the outdoor furniture so my yard can be a little more HGTV and a little less “apartment hobo.”  (Which is a real term for an apartment yard that consists of concrete, weeds, a paint-peeling deck and an “eclectic” grouping of old yard furniture.)  If you check out the before, you’ll notice that both the table and couch had the lovely dull sheen of weather beaten wood that can only be accomplished by sitting in the Chicago sun and rain for an entire decade. 

After my six stage process (for each piece mind you) of sanding, staining, staining again, polyurethaning (not really a verb but it should be because it’s definitely an action), sanding and polyurethaning one last freaking time, I was finally finished.  Here is how they turned out…

Even though I spent a good majority of my time in the garage cursing and sweating, I was so happy with how everything turned out.  Plus, it only cost me (ha, I say me but I really mean the boyfriend because he bought it for me) $30 for the stain, sandpaper and Poly.  Not too shabby.  And since I am a firm believer in “Whaaat?!  You’re selling 20 blue Mason Jars for $10 ?! I have no idea where I will use them but I will take them!” my little centerpiece only cost me around $10. ($1.50 for the jars, $6 for the flowers and $2 for the Citronella candle.  Everything else seen is stuff I had from a different yard sale purchase and I don’t remember how much I paid for them.)  LOVE IT! 

Now, I will leave you so I can make myself a shandy and hang out on my new deck furniture!!
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