Black raspberries: Earlier this season, Matt was about to cut back some thorny bushes that were growing through our fence from the wild lot behind us where they're still doing construction. Despite the fact that I'd been finding the prickly branches a nuisance myself, I asked him to wait, because I was pretty sure they belonged to a raspberry bush. Sure enough, this week we were able to harvest the rewards of having put up with the pesky plant: we each gathered a handful of sweet, sunkissed black raspberries to savour, and declared them some of the tastiest berries we've ever had. If you've never tried black raspberries before, you may want to keep an eye out for them at a local farmers' market. (There is one booth at ours that has been selling little boxes of them for the past week or so.) You won't be disappointed -- these little beauties are lovely sprinkled on salads or over granola, baked into pies or crisps, or simply eaten plain, by the handful!
A good salad spinner: I have owned several salad spinners since Matt and I got married, but most of them were pretty pathetic. It seemed I was always wrestling with the darn things, and a task as simple as drying off washed greens somehow ended up becoming an epic battle of sorts. Last month, I saw a sturdy-looking KitchenAid salad spinner at Costco and decided it would be worth the $20 it cost if it meant I never had to wrestle with wet lettuce again. The thing works beautifully (and even the boys like to use it with its easy to pump handle, see through bottom (wheeeeee!), and magic stop button). It has made cleaning the huge bunches of lettuce, spinach, kale, and arugula we've already harvested from our gardens a pleasure! If you have a wimpy salad spinner you're looking to replace, I highly recommend this one.
Overnight oats: I eat oatmeal with chopped nuts and fruit for breakfast almost every morning, because I like a hearty bowl of something nutritious to start off the day. In the summer months, though, I find that sometimes I don't really feel like having a hot breakfast. The solution? Overnight oats, an idea that comes from Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. I soak certified pure gluten-free oats and chia seeds with unsweetened almond milk in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight, and then in the morning, I simply create a cool parfait using the thickened oat mixture, nuts, coconut, bananas, and berries. (Angela has lots of ideas for other add-ins as well -- see the overnight oats link above for specific instructions.) It's a perfect breakfast for summer mornings -- no cooking required! It also makes a great breakfast to take on the go for summer road trips if you make the parfait in a mason jar with a lid. (Just don't forget to bring a spoon with you. :) )
An organized recipe binder: Once when Noah was very little, I spent about a week of his afternoon naptime putting together a recipe binder. I created sections, carefully organized all of the recipes I had cut out of newspapers and magazines and written down on slips of paper over the years into plastic sleeves, and created a useful kitchen reference for myself where it was easy to find whatever I was looking for. Over the busy years of raising little boys, my enthusiasm for putting each new recipe I found in a proper place in the binder wore off, and most of my more recent clippings or print outs ended up being stuffed in the front pocket of the binder "to be filed later". In recent years (and especially since our family changed the way we eat with the discovery of our food sensitivities), it seemed most of the time I was rifling through that pocket to find a recipe rather than in the binder itself! Finally, this week while the boys were at a summer day camp program, I redid my entire binder, getting rid of recipes I no longer use, and finding a proper home for each scrap of paper I had stuffed in the front pouch. It was satisfying work, and as an added bonus to now being able to easily find whatever recipe I'm looking for, I've also rediscovered a whole bunch of new ideas I had wanted to try. Stay tuned for new recipes here that have been inspired by what I found!
Hammock swings: Every summer when we visit my parents, there is one favourite spot that all of the kids flock to: the hammock my mom and dad have hanging in a shady and pretty back corner of their yard. For as long as I can remember, Noah and Will have always loved taking their turns sitting and gently swinging in that hammock with a good book when we're there, and I've always been sorry that we don't have a proper place in our yard where we could hang a hammock of our own. A few weeks ago, though, I noticed a hammock swing in the Canadian Tire flyer, and was excited to see that it could be hung from a single spot instead of between two. It took a rain cheque and a return trip to the store to finally acquire one of these swings because they sold out so quickly, but this weekend we were finally able to bring one home. It was really easy to hang using some chain and a quick link fastener , and it has instantly become a favourite peaceful spot for everyone in the family.
A fun word game: Our family is always on the lookout for fun word games to play together. I know I've already mentioned our love for Bananagrams , but we've also recently discovered another favourite: PDQ (or Pretty Darn Quick). This simple card game, which involves being the first to create a word from the three letter cards that are played on each turn, is easy to learn and play; it's also addictive! It's a great game for playing at the patio table on summer evenings or lazy afternoons, and its small size makes it ideal to take along on summer travels, too!
That's all for now, but I'd love to hear what you've been loving so far this summer, too!