Late July: Summertime Musings

Hilton Head Island sunsetSummer. It’s a season we long for in the midst of winter, plan for in the blossoming of spring and fondly recall in the crisp autumn air.

It is here, but almost gone, forever coming and going like the rhythmic nature of the ocean’s tide and perpetuating a sense of longing most acutely felt in the remembrances of innocent days from our childhood past.

Summer is light and airy, colorful and calm. It is waves, rivers, streams and sand; mountains, hillsides, gardens and picnics. Summer is the intensely vivid ocean sunrises and the heavenly, soothing evening skies.

It is wild and invincible – a time to “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air”, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote. Read more

Happy National Cheesecake Day!

Blueberry cheesecake recipeHappy National Cheesecake Day! While not many people we know care for cheesecake, a good cheesecake, such as the Cheesecake Factory’s Banana Cream Cheesecake and the Devil’s Food Cheesecake at Junior’s in New York City, is hard to resist.

Thought to have originated in ancient Greece on the Island of Samos over 4,000 years ago, cheesecake was considered a good source of energy – consisting of flour, wheat, honey and cheese – that was supposedly served to athletes during the first Olympic games in 776 BC (it was also the wedding cake of choice for Greek brides and grooms). Read more

The Charleston Tragedy: A Conversation On Faith & Forgiveness

Please note: this piece was also published in The Huffington Post.

Charleston shootingWe often hear about the power of forgiveness. Its ability to transform and heal, freeing us from the weight of bitterness and resentment that anchors itself all too comfortably in the depths of our soul.

The concept, in theory, is familiar: to forgive is to recognize the reality of human fallibility and our finite understanding of the cruelty and injustice we at times bear witness to in an imperfect world. In practice, however, forgiveness is more uncomfortable, challenging us to confront our pride and redirect our inherent desire for revenge and ill will with a purity and grace that seems more well-suited for a heavenly, divine people. Read more

“Movin’ to the Country, Gonna Eat a lot of Peaches”

Georgia peaches seasonGeorgia peaches have been on my mind lately after enjoying a melt-in-your-mouth, warm peach cobbler dessert with homemade butter pecan ice cream at Hogs Head Restaurant in Bluffton, South Carolina.

With a little research, I learned that Georgia peaches – legendary for their flavor – were introduced to the state’s coast by Franciscan Monks around 1571 and that 90 percent of them come from the Fort Valley plateau. Searing hot nights, intense high humidity, mineral-rich red clay soil and consistent rainfall make the valley the ideal place for peaches to grow, producing ‘suGeorgiar’ (sweet Georgia sugar). Read more

A Perfect Summer Day: Art and Architecture in Chicago

Famous Chicago architecture“The story of architecture,” writes Jonathan Glancey in his book The Story of Architecture, “is one of remarkable human endeavor…[a]t its best…it lifts our spirits and sends shivers down our spines…”*

Chicago, world renowned for its architecture and considered the birthplace of the modern skyscraper, has its own unique story, which is delightfully told by professionally trained docents on the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, a spirit and eye lifting adventure for the rich history lessons it offers. Read more

Rediscovering “Gift From The Sea”

Gift From The Sea QuotesI first read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s* Gift from the Sea in my late twenties, early thirties when I was a busy young mother of three with an innocent, idealistic view of the world and the life I had ahead of me.

I remember it as a neat little book that spoke to the duties and responsibilities of raising children, and the never-ending business of making and keeping a home. I remember thinking to myself how lucky she was, as a mother of five children, to be staying at a beach house by herself with enough time to compose such beautifully expressed sentiments, written in such a calm, lyrical and soothing manner.

I read her book with the eyes and mind of a young, inexperienced and naive woman, mother and wife who had little knowledge of the trials and tribulations that life’s journey would inevitably bring. Read more

Red, White & Light Recipes for a Fourth of July Picnic

Tres Leches Cake RecipeTime to get cooking! The Fourth of July is almost here which means it’s time to gather “Around the Table” to celebrate all things red, white and blue. Below you’ll find some “red, white and light” recipes for a family picnic or barbecue that are refreshing, cool and easy to make. Happy Fourth!

See also our reflection on America and our pictures of the U.S. from “sea to shining sea.”

Tres Leches

Tres Leches (Three Milk Cake) is a cake that is popular in the Latin American countries, predominantly Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Guatemala.

According to some sources, its origins come from the British Trifle, the Italian Tiramisu and the Jamaican Rum Cake and so can be thought of as a melding of European, Latin and South American influences. Read more

La Vita È Bella – In America, That Is

Statue of LibertyIt can be surprisingly easy to neglect the history and symbolism of July 4th, otherwise known as Independence Day, when surrounded by family and friends, a picnic table full of delicious summer treats and an explosion of red, white and blue fireworks.

The rhythmic nature of our daily routines and habits does not lend itself to a full appreciation of the basic principles and values upon which our country was founded – including freedom, security and lawful order – particularly when we have never encountered an experience that denies us those very things.

It was an unexpected sequence of events in Italy several years ago that led me to this stark realization, where I not only gained a greater understanding of the cultural and societal norms of another country, but developed a newfound appreciation for “all things good” in America and was reminded of how much there is to be thankful for in this great “land of the free, home of the brave.” Read more

Happy Fourth of July!

Fourth of July celebrations

In celebration of the Fourth of July, we’re sharing the lyrics of two of America’s greatest songs below, together with pictures from across the country – from sea to shining sea!

See also our reflection on “all things good” in America and recipes for a July picnic.

America, The Beautiful

Written by Katharine Lee Bates (1913)

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea! Read more