Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Grumpis

I have had a bad day. It was an inactive, boring, long, drawn-out kind of day, and while there were only like two minor things that happened that were really worth being grumpy over, I let it get the best of me.

And so, I called my Mom when I got home. Yes, I’m 25 years old and still, there are few things that perk me up quicker than my Mommy.

Unfortunately we can only talk so long on the phone, so I decided to keep the goodness going by listing things that make me happy. Number one should reveal to you why this is a therapeutic exercise for me.

Things that make me happy:

– Writing
– A good scoop
– hummus
– the click of a camera shutter
– music that makes me want to dance
– gardening
– cooking
– stupid cheesy puns, eg. Josh hands me a giant whisk at Sur le Table, and says, “You’re taking a really big whisk here.” Annalee laughs forever.
– framed photographs
– sitting cross-legged on the ground with my horse grazing around me, especially when he knocks me over with his nose trying to get the grass under my butt.
– wine, of course
– road trips
– mountains
– warm Earl Grey tea
– my dad in his crazy 30-year-old cut off shorts, because it usually means he’s barbecuing
– a shopping cart full of fresh veggies
– running before work
– rhododendrons
– sparingly, yet properly used em dashes
– pictures of my nephew discovering the world
– a freshly made bed, and the action of crawling in it
– fighting over small couch spaces with my sister
– snuggling with my shih tzu Molly
– a free gallop up a hill on horse back, and his mane in my fingers as I hold on
– reading recipe books
– hand writing
– emailing my Grandma
– pretty much any second spent with Josh
– Anna Maria Island, Florida
– camping
– singing “Tennis Court” by Lorde really, really loud with Josh in the car
– singing “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” really, really, loud with Ally in the car
– a cold, worcestershire-filled Caesar with pickled beans and asparagus

It’s not definitive, but it is a happy list.

Love,
Annalee

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Pink Mango-ade Boozy Popsicles

You can always just skip the popsicle thing and have it over wine, too.

You can always just skip the popsicle thing and have it over wine, too.

I’m freelancing again, which means I spend a lot of the day at home while Josh is at work, and generally work in the evenings and on weekends. Since we’re recovering financially from our move, that also means there isn’t a lot of leeway to go out and explore Alexandria. To add to my list of first world problems, it is freaking hot in our apartment, and we’re trying to avoid using the air conditioning. It’s a battle my frizzy, curly hair and I are losing.

I need to do something productive. After playing musical tomato plants this morning to soak up every last second of sunlight my tomatoes need, I was projectless. I wanted to make cookies, but I don’t have half the ingredients. What about bread? Nope, not enough flour. Pasta? I’m making Thai peanut stirfry for dinner, and I already have two boxes of linguini, plus, I believe my first pasta making experience needs to be done with Josh and a bottle of wine as a helper. After going through all these options, I was still hot. Very hot. Why the heck isn’t the pool open yet?!

How about, popsicles? I am obsessed with DavidsTea and order from them whenever I can justify spending $50 on tea. Which, believe it or not, is at least twice in the past year. In my last order I picked up a Pink Lemonade tea, best served over ice. What if I freeze it? Can I put wine in that? What about the frozen mango chunks in my freezer? YES! Yes, and also, YES!

Using this Frozen Tea Treats tutorial as a guide, I got started. I made a simple sugar instead of using honey, which is usually my go-to with tea. I accidentally bought cheap clover honey last time I picked up a bottle, and it has a funny taste. I want nothing but goodness in my popsicles. Also, Josh made me an iced coffee on the weekend, and I realized we have a need for simple syrup in the house. Now I have extra!

Simple syrup has to be stored in a Mason jar, I thought that was a rule?

Simple syrup has to be stored in a Mason jar, I thought that was a rule?

While I love DavidsTea, they do have a flaw I find in a lot of their teas, which is they have really, really fine particles that I have a really hard time filtering out. I usually have to leave a half an inch or so at the bottom of my tea, much like Josh’s homebrew. I really didn’t want that in my popsicles. I ended up filtering three times. After the tea steeped, I used a fine strainer to filter the tea into a Pyrex measuring cup. Then I let that settle for a bit while I cleaned up. Then I used my one cup loose leaf tea maker, and filtered it twice, letting it settle in between.  This all worked well, because you want your tea and simple syrup to go to room temperature before forming the popsicles.

Using my brand new food processor, I puréed the frozen mango chunks with a half cup of the tea, and a tablespoon of the syrup. Then I tasted it, and it was SO FREAKING GOOD that I quit trying to do anything fancy, and I dumped the rest of the tea and a bit more syrup in. This caused my food processor to overflow, and I learned a valuable lesson. So, instead of doing what I did, purée in batches, until it reaches your desired consistency. I left mine chunky, because popsicles with a bit of chunk are amazing. Ben and Jerry of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream have the right idea. Then, I poured it back into a bowl, and stirred in a half bottle of wine. When I say that, I mean I made a cocktail out of the puree first, then dumped the rest of the bottle in the popsicle mix. Duh. And into the freezer they went. I didn’t use sticks, only because I didn’t have any, and I thought Josh would object to my using every single one of our very limited supply of forks and spoons for popsicles.

My tea popsicles in the freezer.

My tea popsicles in the freezer.

And now, I wait!

Pink Mango-ade Boozy Popsicles

2 cups water
DavidsTea Pink Lemonade tea, 4 tbsp
Simple syrup, about 4 tbsp, but add to taste
One bag frozen mango chunks
Half bottle of wine. I used Chateau Ste Michelle Sauv Blanc
Plus:
Popsicle makers, or plastic cups and popsicle sticks

Boil the water while making the simple syrup. Steep tea for 5-10 minutes, until the water turns bright red. Strain several times to remove as many of the tiny fibres as you can. I strained three-four times. Allow to cool for a while. Add mango chunks, half a bag at a time, with a half cup of tea and a tablespoon of syrup into a food processor or blender, and purée. Repeat until all is done to your desired consistency. Pour finished purée into a bowl. Stir in the wine gently. Don’t forget to use a little — or  a lot — to make some yummy wine bellini cocktails! Pour mixture into popsicle maker or plastic cups, add a stick, and place in freezer. Stir gently after one hour to prevent sweet stuff from settling at the ends.

Pink Mango-ade Cocktail

Make the recipe as above, but do not put it in the freezer. Instead, fill a wine glass about 1/3 full of wine, then add a bit of purée, and top with soda. Or, use sparkling wine and skip the soda!

Our new seventh-floor home in Alexandria has a patio that looks out on the Arlington and Washington, D.C. skylines. The weather hasn’t been great the past few days, yet still, I’ve found myself out there thinking — reflecting. How did I get here?

I was born in a teeny tiny mining town in Northern Ontario, and grew up in the beautiful Canadian Rockies that will forever be what I call ‘home.’ Yet, here I am, at 25 looking out on the most powerful city in the world.

What went right — or rather wrong, if you think about where me life was headed in 2009 before I met Josh? I think it’s absolutely crazy that I now live outside of the capital city of the United States. There was seemingly nothing in my life that forecasted such a dramatic change and adventure in my life. Or was there?

When I was a teenager, I was absolutely obsessed with the pop punk band Good Charlotte. I knew everything about them. I knew the lyrics to every song, could name all their favourite bands and brands. I knew where they lived, where they grew up and where they went to high school.

And that is where my journey to Washington, D.C. seems a little less weird. Why? Because I now work for TSS Photography in a little Maryland town called Waldorf, and this weekend I’m doing a photo shoot at a little Maryland high school called La Plata. Why is that weird? Why does this make my life seem a little less random? Because Good Charlotte’s founding members grew up in Waldorf. Good Charlotte’s founding members went to La Plata High School.

Waldorf Worldwide, indeed.

This doesn’t explain everything. But I can’t help but feel my teenage obsession foreshadowed my adult life just a little. When I stare out at that skyline, watching an endless stream of jetliners land at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, it all makes a little more sense.

Love,
Annalee

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