Watermelon Dill Gazpacho + Coconut Lime Crema

I didn’t discover gazpacho until my late teens, but I’ve been in love ever since.  It’s the perfect meal for a hot summer day and you best believe that’s the norm here in North Carolina.  In college, I worked at a catering company and I remember scrunching up my nose when I read gazpacho on the hor d’oeuvre menu.  I had no clue what it was and when another waitress told me it was basically cold soup, I was a little weirded out by the idea.  One of the chefs saw that whole interaction, pulled me aside, listed off the ingredients and gave me a sample.  I was hooked.  It really wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  I thought it would taste like V8 and I really couldn’t imagine eating a whole bowl of it, but it turned out to be thinner and sweeter with a little pang of spice.  Since my catering days, I’ve played around with a few different recipes so today I’ll share my favorite for sweltering summer days.  Watermelon Dill Gazpacho with Coconut Lime Crema is almost like a treat instead of lunch.  It’s slightly sweet, very light and refreshing and there’s no spice so you won’t be sweating over your cold soup ;)

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Equipment:

  • Blender (I used a ninja)

Gazpacho Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cubed (very ripe) tomato
  • 5 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup peeled cucumber
  • 2 TBSP fresh dill + more to garnish
  • salt & pepper to taste

Gazpacho Recipe:

  • Blend the tomato and watermelon until smooth.  Add in the olive oil and vinegar and blend for an additional minute.  Blend in the cucumber and dill for about a minute until incorporated, but not completely emulsified.  Add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.
  • Garnish with a sprig of dill and a slice of avocado and yellow sweet pepper if desired.  I highly recommend serving the gazpacho with a dollop of coconut lime crema.

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Coconut Lime Crema Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for at least 4 hours
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cool water
  • Pinch of salt

Coconut Lime Crema Recipe:

  • Add the soaked cashews, lime juice, salt and water to the blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add the coconut milk and blend until creamy.
  • Gently drip the coconut lime crema into the bowls immediately before serving.

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I truly believe the coconut lime crema makes this dish.  It adds a perfect creamy component to the chilled watermelon.  It’s also a more familiar taste so you can really wrangle in any guests who tend to eat on the safe side.  If you’re not in the mood to make the crema, garnish the gazpacho with slices of avocado and sprigs of dill.  The contrasting colors in this dish make it a pretty party food. I love serving gazpacho in small servings at get togethers that way guests don’t have to commit to an entire bowl of unknown, ya know?  It’s also fun to play around with different designs and patterns in each glass. This watermelon gazpacho will fly off the buffet before you have time to fill up more shot glasses.  I’m actually eating a whole bowl of it as I type!

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Colorado Hike : Chautauqua Park

We love to get out for hikes as often as possible and thought it would be fun to document these little adventures, like our recent trip to Maroon Bells.

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Last weekend we decided to stay close to home, wanting to explore more of what Boulder has to offer, so for our weekend hike we headed to Chautauqua Park (pronounced with a soft “shhh” for the CH – I’m still getting the hang of it!). Chautauqua was one of the older open space areas purchased by the city over 100 years ago when it began preserving wild lands. The park is home to the Colorado Chautauqua  Association, which provides cultural and educational programs throughout the year. Among its many buildings and features, the Association has a dining hall, general store, and cottages that you can rent! On this particular day we skipped all of the buildings and headed straight for the hills, but we’re hoping to stop in to the dining hall for brunch after our next hike.

**Before moving to Boulder, I was unfamiliar with Chautauqua, the adult education movement. Were you?

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Arriving at the park, we knew it was a popular weekend destination, but were overwhelmed by just how many people were there. These pictures don’t do the crowds justice. At all times there were people in front of us, behind us, scaling the rock face to our right and left. There were babies laughing (and crying), there were more college-age girls chatting away than I wish to remember. Ugh, it was crowded. But, the scenery totally made up for it, and I can’t wait to get back out there on a weekday. A friend also tipped me off that if we start at Four Pines on King St., then we won’t hit the crowds. Keep that secret.

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Before heading out, we asked for some trail recommendations and received a number of excited responses suggesting Royal Arch Trail, but it was still closed for raptor nesting.  So, with all of the well-marked trails in the park, we decided to wing it. We headed up Chautauqua Trail, made a left on Blue-Baird Trail, and then came back down on Bluebell Trail. In total, the hike took about an hour.

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As you hike up the hill you leave the grasslands behind, entering the pine forests and areas of exposed bedrock and boulders of the Flatirons.

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There are two climbers in the photo on the right above! They are near the top of the single pine tree that’s growing out of the rock face. Eventually you reach a few open areas overlooking the city.

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liveseasoned_summer2014_hike18Just like last week’s hike, there were plenty of flowers blooming here with a promise of more to come.

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On our way back down the hill (mountain?) we left the pine trees behind and welcomed the grasses again. As you can see from these photos, the skies were overcast for our whole hike, but I think that worked to our advantage, keeping us cooler and less worried about sunburns as we walked.

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Extra Details:

  • Knowing that the area is popular on weekends, we were worried about parking, but easily found on-street parking a few blocks from the entrance.
  • I had a hard time finding a good trail map online, until I looked to Google. Google’s map of the park is great, with all trails well marked!
  • A hiking-with-kids tip: We knew we were heading out during Little A’s naptime, so rather than take the hiking carrier that doesn’t offer him anywhere to rest his head, we put him in the Ergo on Calder’s back. It was an easy carry for this short hike, and within a minute Alex was content and sleeping with his head supported between Calder’s back and the Ergo’s hood.

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In Season: Being a Bookworm


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We’re always all about books over here. From leisure reading, to research, to good old coffee table browsing. Read on (ha!) for some fun book-related links.

I love the idea of storing all my books in my stairs like this or this.

This bookshelf is different, but I’d have to find space for my large photo books.

I could probably find a space for them here!

If you’re a book lover, you probably save damaged or meaningless (to you) books. If that’s the case, try one of these crafts.

Katie’s saved all of her old college science textbooks and wants to frame some of the great illustrations.

There are a lot of great printable bookplates out there.  Right now we just write our name inside the front cover (usually with sharpie). This would be so much prettier.

Did you see the fun reading loft that Design Mom made in her Oakland home (which They call the tree house and is amazingly lovely)

 

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Summertime Tea Smoothies

Have you ever made a smoothie with tea?  I like to think that I’m the only one who has ever done this and that it is going to blow everyone’s mind. I refuse to google tea smoothies just in case (BUT I HIGHLY DOUBT IT) it has already been thought up.  Anyway, on with it! Summertime Tea Smoothies are so refreshing and they even involve a bit of caffeine if you use the suggested teas.  Of course, you could always substitute with whatever tea is in your cupboard or if you don’t drink caffeine, blend in your favorite caffeine-free tea.  The tea adds a whole other flavor element and makes it easy to switch up the smoothies even if you have loads of the same fruits and veggies on hand.  Like most smoothie recipes, the sky is the limit.  Feel free to substitute, subtract and add in ingredients to best fit your diet. For instance, if you don’t eat dairy, swap out the yogurt and add in a little bit more tea.

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Mint in your Lamb Meatballs?

Mint is our ingredient of the season. Of course we made mojitos. We also made some saladsiced teaagua fresca, a body scrub, and… deodorant!

I’ve been sitting on this recipe ever since Sarah and I picked mint as the ingredient of the season. It’s not that mint is the star of the dish, it’s just that, when do you ever expect to see mint in a meatball recipe? You might think it’s expected in a lamb meatball recipe, but the cookbook actually refers to these as beef meatballs. And mint isn’t the only thing flavoring this dish; it calls for four different fresh herbs and over a half dozen spices! If that sounds complicated, it’s worth the effort.

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This recipe comes from the cookbook Jerusalem. If it sounds familiar, I shared a couple of recipes from the book in April. Or maybe you read a review of the book, or heard that a Jerusalem craze is taking over the nation (it’s the #1 cookbook on Amazon in the natural food cooking category). I have to admit that I didn’t realize it was that popular until writing this post, but I completely understand the compassion for this book. The range of recipes are exciting, they are made from ingredients that I want to eat, the book’s photographs are wonderful, the descriptions of places and history transport you… Through food, this book blends religions and cultures, if only it could bring peace to a troubled land.

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Minty Fresh Deodorant

Mint is our ingredient of the season. We love to use it in drinks, both alcoholic and not, in salads, both savory and sweet, and in the shower!

There couldn’t be a better time for this post. Why? Because it’s about deodorant, and I bet you’re getting your smell on by late afternoon this summer. And because this recipe requires coconut oil, which is sure to be in a liquid state on any given 80+ degree day, making mixing easy!

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Now, to back this truck up, today we’re talking about making our own non-toxic, totally biodegradable deodorant that’s safe for your body and smells great too! I’ve been using this exact recipe for close to four years now and feel no need to go back to the store-bought stuff.  You may already have the ingredients in your house, but if you don’t, they are relatively cheap* and each have other uses in your house/kitchen. Finally, it’s always fun to mix up a potion, particularly one that you can personalize with your favorite scents!

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Colorado Hike : Maroon Bells

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They say that the Maroon Bells, those two mountain peaks in the photo above, are the most photographed spot and most famous scene in Colorado. I had never been, so we made it one of our small adventures over the Fourth of July weekend.

The area is breathtaking in summer. Wildflowers are blooming everywhere you look. In early July there was still some snow on the mountains, reminding you just how high you are, yet it’s melting quickly, so the streams are roaring adding an element of excitement to every bridge crossing. And as if it couldn’t get any better, there were signs of beavers and a couple of moose!

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Maroon lake was created by glacial deposits, but there are also some busy beavers on the lake working to build up the dam. We followed the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail along the lake, over the roaring Maroon Creek, through an aspen grove, and around to a small active beaver pond.

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liveseasoned_summer2014_maroonbells8_wmWe were standing at the pond, taking in the tranquil scene, when all of a sudden someone realized that we were looking right at a moose! Can you see him in the lower center of the photo below, to the left of the pond? This was my first moose sighting and I was ecstatic, the other members of my party – not so much. Apparently moose are extremely dangerous. So much to my chagrin, we turned around and headed back the way we came.

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Wildflowers were blooming all along the trail, but particularly in the riparian and shrubland areas around the lake. We visited just at the beginning of the blooming season, but if you want to see everything in peak bloom, schedule your visit for late July into August.

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When I got back to the house and was identifying plants, I couldn’t believe that we saw the most poisonous plant in North America. A piece of the water hemlock’s root the size of a marble can kill an adult in 15 minutes! Even more frightening, children have died while playing with the hollowed out stem, using it as a peashooter and such. Crazy!

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Walking along the Scenic trail, you get a fantastic view of the beaver’s home. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any beavers, but just being close to their dam and home was fun. Fun fact from Calder: beavers can get up to 150 pounds!

From this vantage point, you can also look back towards the dam and see the crowds along the shore. The photo below is the mountain version of those beach paintings/photos where everyone is just a colored speck in the sand grassland, isn’t it?

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As we were driving back down into town, we noticed a group of cars pulled off to the side of the road. There was another moose! This one was far enough away that no one was in danger, so I hopped out and took a few more photos. Two moose in one day, I was a happy camper.

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Before you go:

  • The Scenic Trail was an easy hike with a few steep spots, but overall there was relatively little elevation gain. Waterproof shoes with good traction are recommended as there were muddy areas.
  • Wild at Heart is a fantastic resource if you’re planning a visit. It’s a field guide to the plants, birds, and mammals of the rockies, with a particular focus on the Aspen-Snowmass area. I know that it’s out of print and not available on Amazon, but I’m pretty sure you can still pick it up in some of the shops around Aspen and Snowmass (I just received my copy as a birthday present, so it’s out there!).

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Getting there:

  • Traffic is restricted from mid-June through September
  • The site is open to all traffic from 7:00am-9:00am and 5:00pm-7:00pm
  • With a few exceptions, all visitors are required to take a bus from 9:00am-5:00pm. You catch the bus in Aspen Highlands Village (where you can park for free). The pass fee is $6/adult, $3/child.
  • Cars with children under 2, disabled passengers, or groups of 11 or more are allowed through from 9:00am-5:00pm if they pay a $10 fee.
  • You can also drive up if you are camping in the area
  • For detailed information see this site.

 

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In Season : Renting Style

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This week Alex and I finally joined Calder in Boulder. I was excited to see the townhouse we’re renting in person (I saw a few photos and videos, but it’s not quite the same thing).  It’s a great place and I think it will make a perfect home for us for the next year or so. Right now I’m still unpacking and figuring out where to put things, what to keep in storage, and what goes on our shopping list. It’s fun to think creatively about how to set up the space – trying to make the space work for us without investing too much work into projects that we would lose when we move. Thus today’s list of low-work home upgrades, space savers, and simple decorating ideas.

We have three bathrooms in this place! Unfortunately they all lack storage. So I’m thinking a small cart or slim shelving unit would work well in a few places. Maybe organizing my doodads is a job for FINTORP? And what do you think about hanging veggie baskets in the showers?

I was really excited to try out some temporary wallpaper, but arrived to textured walls! bummer.

Our kitchen is much smaller than in our last house. We’re finding it easy to work with by keeping a lot of our extra kitchen supplies in storage. We’re also thinking about how to use the wall space. Calder found these beautiful magnetic knife racks and this spice rack on Etsy!

We left the highchair on the east coast and are back to using this booster seat. It is nice to have that floor space back.

Our new deck has a 5 foot wall on two sides. It could be fun to buy a planter with a trellis and fill it with some flowering vines to make the wall a little softer and less boring.

I just placed our order for Sibley’s Backyard Birds of Western North America poster. We had the eastern poster hanging in our last house, so it will be easy to slip this one in the same frame and hang it near a window.

 Photo from the Oakland Museum of California.
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It’s my birthday, and I’ll spell how I want to…

errr, not quite.

It is my birthday (hooray!), but I don’t want to be the atrocious speller that I am. Hands up if you’ve caught the many spelling mistakes that happen over here? We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled posts for a good, old-fashioned confession and giveaway!

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I’ve been a life-long bad speller. Apparently I’m not the only one. You’ve probably noticed. It’s atrocious, right? Calder laughs at my grocery lists and then grades them.

I have absolutely no clue how to spell some words and no amount of studying helps. My family still jokes about an infamous 8th grade end-of-year multipage spelling exam. I got the second lowest grade out of 100+ students (yes, I take it as a point of pride that I didn’t get the lowest grade). That test asked you to pick out words spelled wrong and spell them correctly. I did the opposite. My rules were simple: if a word had double letters I took one out, if it didn’t have any, I’d put one in. For the longest time that test sat on our pop’s desk, giving him a chuckle whenever he looked at it. We can’t find the exam now, but if we ever do, I may have to frame it.

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Spellcheck has been a godsend, but it doesn’t help when I misspell one word only to spell another. I put a few of my more recent misspellings into the graphics in this post. Did you catch some of these on the blog? You might not have seen the bowel misspelling, because it didn’t happen here, it happened when I was commenting on another blog (embarrassed much?).

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Here’s our giveaway – comment below with a misspelling of ours that you came across while reading the blog. Can’t find or think of any? Then tell us about your best worst spelling mistake. We’ll pick one lucky winner and they’ll receive a good, old-fashioned birthday goodie bag!

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