Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category


Just a small, simple, sweet treat — for the 4th of July — with only 3 items from Trader Joes.   Start with the Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean mini sheet cake … and decorate with your favorite red and blue fruit.   Strawberries and blueberries in the picture above.  It’s best to use the same size strawberries so when you slice them, they are uniform for making the stripes.


Happy 4th of July!


Read Full Post »

Frozen Lemon Dessert

If you’re looking for a light lemony dessert for those hot days of summer, this is perfect!  It’s lowfat, easy to make and you can even make it ahead of time.

It combines light, airy lemon flavors with crispy coconut.   I usually make it a day ahead of serving.

Frosty Lemon Cooler

Serves 9


1 cup crushed Coconut Cookies  (I use Trader Joe’s Coconut

Cookies.  Trader Joe's Coconut CookiesI’ve also used Mother’s brand)

2 Tbs. Butter, melted

2 Egg yolks

1 tsp. grated Lemon Peel

1/3 cup Lemon Juice

2/3 cup Sugar

Dash of Salt

2 Egg Whites

2/3 cup Nonfat Dry Milk Powder

2/3 cup water


1.   Crush coconut cookies and combine with melted butter.  (I use 18 of TJ’s Coconut cookies, which results in a bit more than 1 cup.  I put the cookies in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.)  Reserve 1/4 cup of the crumbs and spread the remainder in a 9×9 pan.


2.  Stir together egg yolks, lemon peel and juice.  Add sugar and salt, mixing well.

3.  In a large bowl, combine egg whites, milk powder and water.  Beat on high speed with an electric mixer to stiff peaks (about 5 minutes).

4.  Add egg yolk mixture to egg whites and beat low just until blended.  I often fold in the lemon egg yolks to mix well.

5.  Pour over crumbs in pan.  Top with remaining crumbs.  Cover with foil or plastic wrap and freeze.


6.  When serving, dip the bottom of pan in warm water for 10 seconds.  (I usually use a rimmed cookie sheet and fill it with hot water.)  This makes it much easier to cut the dessert.  Cut into 9 squares.


Read Full Post »

summer tablescape

Just a few quick snapshots from a recent summer tablescape … using blues and white.  The sources are as follows:

  • Runner from Pottery Barn (2012) – although I believe they still have this.
  • Glass beads from the Irvine Antique Flea Market – over the past 3 years
  • Woven placemats, white dishes and candles from TJMaxx.

I have turquoise linen napkins and white cotton napkins that I use with this table setting.  I also use these same items on our table outside for al fresco dining.  Enjoy!


Read Full Post »

DSC00954    DSC00951


Happy 4th of July!

I found this cute red stripe burlap star at Pottery Barn (on sale!)  I ended up making a few more made burlap stars for decorations … directions coming soon!

Read Full Post »

This is one of my favorite appetizers!  The combination of mild brie with the sweetness of the papaya or mango makes a winning combination.  You can make the Papaya/Mango mixture ahead of time and even have the tortillas layered with Brie slices, so you’re ready to bake when guests arrive.

Brie and Papaya (or Mango) Quesadillas


1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 Papaya, peeled seeded and diced ** (or Mango)

1 Jalapeno Chili Pepper, seeded & minced

1/2 bunch of Cilantro, stemmed and minced

Juice of 2 Limes

4 large Flour Tortillas (or whole wheat)

10 oz. Brie Cheese, rind removed & thinly sliced

2 Tbs. Butter

2 Tbs. Olive Oil


1.  Soak the sliced onions in a small bowl of water for 20 minutes.  Drain well and pat dry.  In a medium bowl, combine the onion, papaya (and/or mango), chili and cilantro.  Add the lime juice and gently stir.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet.  Place slices of the Brie on one half of each tortilla.  Evenly divide the papaya mixture over the Brie slices.  Fold each tortilla in half.

3.  Melt the butter in a small ramekin in the microwave.  Add the olive oil.  Brush the top of each quesadilla with the butter mixture.  Bake for 5 to 7 minutes.  Turn the quesadilla over and brush the other side with the butter mixture.  Bake 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly browned.

4.  Cut each quesadilla into 3 pieces and serve warm.


  • ** I often substitute Mango for Papaya … or even combine Mango & Papaya for this recipe.  I like the sweetness of mango with the onion and Brie.
  • If I’m making just one or two quesadillas, I will cook them in a skillet instead of baking them in the oven.  I omit the butter and olive oil and just make them nice and crunchy on the outside.

Read Full Post »

Our family just returned from vacationing in Mammoth, California.  Although I’ve skiied Mammoth and camped in the area over the years, I haven’t really spent much time in Mammoth during the summer.  What a beautiful place … truly God’s country.  And, it’s a haven for those that love outdoor sports like hiking, biking and fishing.

We rented a home that we found on VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner).  We vacationed with another family and had 5 teenagers and 4 adults total … so it was nice to find a home that had a large game room for the teenagers to “hang”.

View of Lake Mamie

View of Twin Lakes from Lake Mamie

Friends of ours that have a place in Mammoth recommended that we drive up to Mammoth Lakes Basin on our first day — to get familiar with the area.  The first lakes you see are Twin Lakes. Lake Mary is the next lake, the largest in the area. When you get to Lake Mamie, there is a great view point on the right, looking down over the Twin Lakes. Horseshoe Lake is the last lake, reachable by road. It’s the only lake in the basin area that permits swimming.

If you’re in Mammoth for 3 to 5 days, here is my list of some favorite summertime activities.

Top things to do in Mammoth during the summer:

1)  Hike Little Lakes Valley trail in Rock Creek.   This is one of my most favorite hikes of all-time.  It’s about the most picturesque hike you’ll ever take!

To get to Rock Creek from Mammoth, you head South on 395 and take the Rock Creek exit at Tom’s Place.  It’s about 25 minutes from downtown Mammoth.  Rock Creek has many great campsites, places to fish and of course, many hiking trails.

Mosquito Flat & Rock Creek

The Trailhead is located at the end of Rock Creek Road.  Mosquito flat starts at an elevation of 10,300 feet.  The Little Lakes Valley trail is very easy and skirts the largest lakes in the basin, including Mack, Marsh, Heart, Box, Long and Chicken Foot lakes.

Marsh Lake

The trail stays fairly close to Rock Creek.  There are many great spots for photo ops along the way.

Trail with Heart Lake in background

We hiked to the end of Long Lake and then turned around.

Long Lake

2)  Eat homemade pie at “Pie in the Sky” after hiking in Rock Creek.  In the summer, they usually run out of pie by 1 or 2 pm.  So … hike early then go eat.  (They have great burgers, too.)

Pie in the Sky Cafe

3)  Ride mountain bikes in the Mammoth Lakes Basin area or Mammoth Mountain Bike Park.  Since most of our group hadn’t ridden in a while, we rented bikes at The Village.  You can take the free trolley (with bike trailer attached) up to Horseshoe Lake.  From there, the trail around Horseshoe is easy and pretty.  You can ride around the other lakes and when you’re ready to head back to town, there is a paved bike path through the trees.  You mostly coast down the path — which is a blast!

Bike Trail – Mammoth Lakes Basin

For the more serious rider, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park is the place to go.  There are trails for the serious down hillers and trails for all abilities.  You can get daily passes for access to the trails, gondola and shuttles.  Prices are between $15 – $45 daily.

4)  Picnic in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.   There are rocks and logs along the shores of most of the lakes – which make for great spots for picnics.  We parked on the road at Mamie Lake and hiked in several hundred yards and had a great picnic on rocks overlooking the lake.

Lake Mamie

5)  Take a day trip to June Lake.   This is great on a hot day when you’d like to find a place to play in the water.

  • Splash around in Rush Creek.  If the water levels are high, float down the creek in tubes.

Tubing on Rush Creek

  • Swing on the Rope Swing (into the water) at Gull Lake.

Rope Swing at Gull Lake

  • Eat lunch at the Silver Lake Cafe (closes at 2 pm).  Great burgers & sandwiches!

6)  Hike to Crystal Lake.  It’s a moderate hike with some of the most amazing views.  You climb 900 feet in elevation with quite a few switchbacks.  The trail head starts from the Lake George parking lot.

View from Crystal Lake Trail

The hike is well worth it!  It’s one of the lesser traveled trails in summer in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

Crystal Lake

7)  Eat lunch or dinner at Toomey’s — located in The Village.  The food’s just as great as Matt’s food was at the Mobil Mart (Lee Vining).  There’s not much seating, so make a reservation for dinner.  Check out the menu here.  Beware … they serve large portions — even the appetizers make a meal by themselves!

Matt Toomey (chef) at Toomey’s

8)  Eat homemade ice cream at Looney Bean Coffee & Roasting Co (corner of Main Street & Old Mammoth Road).  During the summer, they have 6 to 8 different flavors daily.  So creamy & delicious!  Our groups’ favorite flavors were Peaches n Cream, Blueberry and Mud Pie.  Their coffee and tea is great as well.

Barista at Looney Bean

If you’re in Mammoth for a longer stay, there are some great day trips:

  • Drive into Yosemite via Tioga Pass.  It’s about a 2 hour drive from Mammoth Lakes.
  • Take the shuttle bus to Devil’s Postpile & Rainbow Falls.  Due to the crowds in summer, the shuttle bus is the only way to visit this area.
  • Drive down to Bishop and float on the Owens River.
  • Visit the Hot Creek Fish Hatchery (off the 395 at the Mammoth Airport exit).  It’s a very interesting self-guided tour of one of the largest trout producers (the fish are then stocked in the nearby lakes).  This is a short trip and can easily be added on your way home from Mammoth.

Read Full Post »

What are you doing for the 4th of July?  We’re having our annual 4th of July BBQ … so I’m updating outdoors with a bit of Red, White & Blue.

Switching out our regular pillow for red and blue ones…

Have a fun and safe 4th of July with your family and friends!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »