Summer, so far

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Recent travels to Philly and Nantucket, followed by a particularly jam-packed 4th of July weekend put my writing and updates on hold. But now I’m back in Boston to catch my breath (for a minute). It’s been a weekend of “housekeeping” and I thought I’d do the same for my blog. This is the perfect opportunity to check the progress of my bucket list, now that we’re (already?) more than halfway through summer:

  • Write something everyday. Even if it’s just a thought or a Tweet
    • So far, so good! Tweeting all day, everyday at @BtwnLines.
  • Post to this blog at least once per week
    • With the exception of last week…
  • Go kayaking on the Charles River AGAIN
    • STILL NEED TO DO THIS!
  • Spend as much time as possible with my amazing friends
    • Best 4th of July weekend ever and looking forward to more summer fun 🙂
  • Reconnect with old friends
    • Recent reconnections and upcoming date nights scheduled!
  • Go to a wine tasting
  • Discover some awesome new restaurants and bars
    • In Boston, New York, and on Nantucket  –and always looking for more.
  • Wander through outdoor markets on the weekends
    • Found an awesome cigarette tin at the 34th St. outdoor market in New York.
  • Soak up some culture at local museums, parks, festivals…
    • Fenway counts as a park, right? Need to work on this one…
  • Take my cooking to a new level and try some new recipes (like learn to make ice cream)
  • Find the best ice cream in the city if/when I fail at making my own
    • In leaving this goal virtually unfulfilled, I will always be on the hunt for better ice cream (and have an excuse to eat more).
    • Please note: Fresh cucumber ice cream is back at JP Licks for July!
  • Find a few beautiful new places to run
    • Been going the same route for awhile, but want to get out to Jamaica Pond.
  • Read. Lots of articles, blogs, and at least 10 books:

A few of my favorite sites & blogs:

Already read:

    • Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
    • And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini (my review)
    • We Live in Water, Jess Walter
    • TransAtlantic, Colum McCann

Currently reading:

    • Tinkers, Paul Harding

On the list:

    • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • The Cuckoo’s Nest, Robert Gailbraith (aka JK Rowling)
    • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
    • Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter
    • This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
    • … always open to more suggestions!
  • Do outdoor yoga
    • The Liberty Hotel offers complimentary community yoga classes on Saturdays at 10am! On nice days, these take place outside on their patio.
  • Grow my indoor garden with potted plants and herbs (and keep them alive…)
    • Hayden (by basil plant) is just hanging by thread, but trying to revive him!
  • Take a class: An art class, computer workshop, or even a webinar on finance management
    • If time is of the essence, all my contracts are broken.
  • Discover some new bookstores (preferably indie and perfectly charming)
    • Two adorable bookshops on Nantucket, and again, always looking for more.
  • Walk everywhere and spend as much time outdoors as possible
    • Check!
  • Get completely lost visiting a place I’ve never been before
    • Really, this is not difficult for me to do. I get lost in my own neighborhood.
  • Have several deep and meaningful conversations with the people I love
    • Yes!
  • Do some traveling: Already booked to visit my family twice this summer
    • Back home in three weeks!
  • Take a few moments each day to bask in perfect happiness
    • 🙂

Halfway through summer, and halfway through my list! This is not to say, however, that my strikethroughs indicate a permanent “check.” I absolutely plan to spend as much time as possible with friends, and do more reading, writing, cooking, traveling, experimenting, discovering, wallowing in happiness. And, of course, continue to get lost between the lines.

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NOT the same as ice cream

During a visit home last weekend, I watched part of Parental Guidance (2012), a cute but perfectly predictable family comedy. In the film, grandparents (played by Billy Crystal and Bette Midler) make the mistake of buying an ice cream cake for their sugar-deprived grandchildren. Chaos ensues as the children devour the entire Carvel. Upon their mother’s return, the eldest accuses: “Mom, you lied to me! Yogurt is not like ice cream!”

That’s kind of how I felt when I tried this recipe that has bombarded the health boards of Pinterest since last summer:

 Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Photo of frozen banana

Freeze a banana overnight. Peel & chop into bite-size pieces.

Several food/cooking bloggers claim that if you freeze a banana and blend it till smooth, the result will yield a refreshing treat “just like soft serve ice cream!” No additional dairy, sweeteners, or ice cream maker needed. Learning to make ice cream was one of my goals for summer, but I was not quite ready to invest in the necessary equipment. This seemed like the perfect solution.

Photo of blended banana

Blend until smooth.

What I want to know is what sick and twisted health-food fanatic thought that a blended frozen banana could even compare to the rich and silky decadence that is ice cream. Sure, the result looks like ice cream, and the consistency is similar, but this cold, cream-less mush falls short of my snobbish standards.

Photo ice cream

Topped with fresh strawberries & chopped almonds.

Perhaps a blended banana concoction could serve as an adequate alternative for those so unfortunate to suffer from a lactose intolerance or dairy allergy. But it is by no means a substitute.

So do yourself a favor and indulge in the real deal. If you’re local to Boston, head down to your neighborhood J.P. Lick’s. Their featured flavors for June include Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb and Candied Ginger. Or, make a trip out to Toscanini’s Homemade Ice Cream in Cambridge, where they boast unique flavors like Vienna Finger Cookie, Lemon Pistachio, Bourbon Black Pepper, and Earl Grey. Never settle for less when best is at the tip of your tongue.

While I have a few signature locations nailed down, I’m still on the hunt to find the best ice cream in the city. Apparently, it’s not to be found in my own kitchen.