A perfect Sunday

Things around here have been pretty busy– with just two weeks until my dissertation is due I’ve been frantically typing away just about any chance I get, which is why there has been such a lull on the blog. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m not quite as worried though, which arrived just in time for yesterday when Cameron and I celebrated out six-year anniversary.

It’s crazy to think about how quickly the last six years have flown by. Is it just me, or does each year seem to go faster and faster? I think I listed to a podcast about this exact feeling once, which said it had something to do with the fact that as you get older there are more years, and so in comparison you have more to compare them with. Or something like that.

Anyway, after a regular morning, we spent the afternoon wandering around London. Our first stop was Buckingham Palace. I hadn’t been yet, even though we’ve lived here almost a year, and Cameron thought it would be fun to see the changing of the guards. As its summer, so did everyone else. With a little patience, and some strategic shuffling, we made it close enough to see a few minutes of what was happening. Seeing over people’s heads was the easy part, but the wall of iPhones, iPads,cameras, and kids on shoulders was another matter (does this bother anyone else?). It was still really fun, and I was glad was finally made it. If you’re in London and are hoping to see the whole thing I would aim to arrive at least an hour early to get a good spot.

After that we had a lovely walk through St. James’s park and then crossed the river to go to Southbank centre for lunch and to wander around their festival of Love. We decided to stop at the Bleeker St. pop-up which had a really delicious tofu burger. After lunch we browsed the book market, and wandered over to the Tate Modern’s Switch House to explore before our next activity. When it was time to head out I finally got to hear where we were going– the Eye!

I was especially excited about going on the eye because we’d booked a spot when we first moved, but missed out spot because of various admin things we had to get done/navigating the tube for one of the first times. The wait was definitely worth it– there view was amazing because it was such a sunny/clear day, and it was surprising fun to point out all of the buildings we knew from above. It was an even better surprise as Cameron got us tickets for the option with a glass of champagne, which made the whole thing even more festive.

After the eye we stopped at home to change before going to dinner at Uni, a super cosy sushi place with a Peruvian influence. After a celebratory cocktail (or two) and some super-yummy sushi we called it a night.

Monday Motivation

Last week was a busy week for me. I started a new internship, said goodbye to a friend of mine who moved back to the states, and had a mini-breakdown that it’s August and my dissertation is due in less than a month. I thought I would put together a few things that helped me through the week, and hopefully help you, too!

This TED talk titled “How To Make Stress Your Friend” by Kelly McGonigal will change your life. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever described something on the blog that way. We all know that stress is super bad for our our health…or is it? Kelly’s talk made me completely rethink the way I handle stress and conceptualise stressful situations.

I love listening to podcasts when I’m commuting, running, or getting ready in the morning. They are a great way to keep updated with the news, learn something new, or are  distracting enough to keep me from panicking when the tube is packed at rush hour. I’ve been listening to a new Ukrainian language podcast, as the class I’m taking is on summer holiday. At about fifteen minutes it’s just enough to keep me practicing daily. The NPR Politics podcast has also been a great way for me to keep up with the US election while living in London.

Since I’ve been on the go a lot recently (and occasionally playing Pokemon Go), this EasyAcc power bank I got during Prime Day has been my new best friend. It carries enough of a charge to power my phone four times, which means it can live in my purse during the week always at the ready when my phone is about to die, and has a flashlight!  It’s great, and if you don’t have a backup power pack already, I definitely recommend this one.

Happy Monday!

Friday Cocktail: Summer Shrub

A shrub? Yes. Well, no, not if you’re thinking about the garden variety, but definitely yes if you are thinking about a delicious, summery syrup that will keep in your fridge well into the fall, then the answer is definitely yes.

What is a shrub exactly? Well at it’s most simple it’s a sort of drinking vinegar. While that doesn’t sound terribly appetising, bear with me because it’s actually delicious. Using vinegar to preserve fruit has a long history, but it became especially popular in colonial America, making drinks with or without alcohol. And it’s exactly this ability to enjoy with or without alcohol that makes them so nice in the summer– they are super refreshing and full of flavour!

The prep work is wonderfully simple, but there is some waiting involved. Patience is definitely not a virtue that I have been particularly blessed with, but if I can wait two days for this, you can too. If you were to google ‘shrub’ lots of different recipes and combinations will come up, ranging from one with a single fruit, or multiple. The idea for this recipe comes from Renegade Kitchen and uses plums (one of my favourite summer fruits) and basil (one of my favourite herbs). Besides these two things you’ll also need some sugar, plain granulated works great, and apple cider vinegar (yay probiotics!).

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I definitely recommend using a granulated sugar rather than something liquid like agave or maple syrup since the friction will be your friend here. A lot of recipes call for white wine or golden balsamic vinegar, but I like apple cider here because it adds some good-for-you fermentation and hints at the flavour of kombucha.

Ingredients:

• 4-6 plums (your favourite kind), pitted and quartered

• large bunch basil, roughly chopped or torn

• 1c sugar

• 2c apple cider vinegar

Directions: 

  1. In a large bowl combine the plums, basil, and sugar. Use your hands (or a wooden spoon) to really coat the fruit with the sugar. Set this in the fridge at least overnight, stirring once or twice in between.
  2. The next day, strain this mixture through a fine mesh strainer (or a clean pair of stockings). There should be a lot of liquid around the fruit, but be sure to press/squeeze any excess out of the plums. Discard any solids
  3. Combine the strained juice with the vinegar and stir gently to combine. Decant into a glass container of your choice and leave in a cool place on your counter overnight.
  4. It will be ready to try the next day, but the longer it sits the more the flavours develop, and the more the vinegar mellows.

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A really lovely and refreshing way to enjoy this is to add a bit to the bottom of a collins glass, add some ice, and top with sparkling water or club soda. It’s a lot more interesting than soft drinks, and is a great way to enjoy a cocktail without any alcohol. An added bonus is the gorgeous pink colour from the skins of the plums.

For an more ‘adult’ version of the above, add a shot of your favourite gin, and a lemon twist for garnish.

I’m definitely excited to use this once the temperature begins to dip again as well– I think something like whiskey or bourbon combined with the summery plum and basil could be really interesting, so check back in a few months to find out.

If you liked this recipe and want some more inspiration, the New York Times has a great article on shrubs here.

Cheers!