Imagine That: Summer Citrus Card

In The Studio

I don’t always look forward to summer, but when I do, it’s because there’s good food and fun to be had.

We’ve been working out in the yard a bit lately–planting flowers and clearing the way for some bigger projects to come (driveway! fence! deck!). And at the end of a day outside, there’s little that’s as refreshing as a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade.

When you can’t share a glass in person, send a cute card like this one, complete with a liquid-looking inside to your lemonade pitcher.

The liquidy center was inspired by those baby bottle toys we had as kids–the ones where the liquid looked like it disappeared as you tipped it up?–and it gave me the opportunity to dig out my woodburning tool to combine with the diecuts to make it work. You can do the same, most like, with a Fuse tool or similar.

The video play-by-play and the full supply list can be found over on the Imagine blog.

I’ll Drink to That: Lemon Edition


The last time I saw an old-fashioned lemonade stand was actually just a couple months back during the local Parade of Homes. An enterprising youngster in one of the more developed neighborhoods was selling bottles of water as well as lemonade to thirsty parade-goers.


Lemonade is one of those perfect hot-weather drinks, doing well on it’s own whether left sweet and tart or combined with other fruits (strawberry, for instance) or even herbs (rosemary and basil both go very well in lemonade). Mix it with iced tea and you have an Arnold Palmer, and if the tea is Earl Grey then you can have your own version of the Earl of Sandwich’s Earl Grey Lemonade. And if you mix lemonade with beer, you end up with something called a Shandy.

Shandy is a bit of a thing these days and my friends farther to the north tell me Del’s is the brand to drink. I came across the Leinenkugel Summer Shandy first, though, and decided to give it a try. Now, the first time I tried it I wouldn’t say I loved it, but I didn’t hate it, either. I suppose it was a disconnect since I didn’t know what to expect and whatever I did expect this wasn’t it. The second time I tried it, that puzzling first taste over with, I actually enjoyed it more.

Now, considering it’s been three weeks and I haven’t finished the 6-pack, you can probably guess it’s not my favorite beverage ever, but then beer isn’t at the top of my spirits list anyway, so I suppose it’s following along with that.

Speaking of lemonade, though, I stumbled upon Pellegrino’s Limonata the other week while shopping and I thought it was more like the slightly-flavored fizzy water like the Perrier versions, so picked up a 6-pack for something a little different. Obviously I didn’t pay too much attention to the label as this is actually a sparkling lemonade and I’m in love. There was a grapefruit version next to it and I’m sure that’ll be among the next grocery run, but for now I’m rationing out the Limonata so I don’t over-indulge.

Of course, for true indulgence, I go straight to the freezer to pull out a bottle of limoncello. When we were at Disney for our honeymoon I didn’t do much day-drinking though the thought was there. One of our last afternoons, though, I purchased a limoncello from the cart in EPCOT’s Italy pavilion and it so refreshing. Having made my own limoncello I think I appreciate it a tiny bit more that I used to, but since I don’t usually have a surfeit of lemons, I’ll leave it to the masters once our homebrew batch is expended. (Unless we decide to plant a lemon tree, here–that might change things a bit!)

What about you–are you a fan of lemon in the heat of summer? Do you like yours sweet over ice, mixed with something else, or as far away as possible?

Limoncello Diary, Part 1


The other week I read somewhere about someone making their own Limoncello. A virtual ear perked up at that–I’m always up for trying something new! Then Grace flat-out asked how to make Limoncello this weekend.

Oh, it’s on!

That was just the little nudge I needed to add lemons and grain alcohol to my shopping list this Saturday and away we go!

First, of course, I did a little digging as to the how to. I’ve found recipes that are done in a weekend all the way up to 3 months and a few points in between.

Limoncello is, essentially, a lemon-infused alcohol sipped after dinner in Italy. It’s fairly simple to make since you don’t need to distill or ferment anything, you just need the patience of a saint to let it sit for up to three months. While the recipes that suggest a weekend or week’s wait is all that’s require are, I’m sure, perfectly fine, the peanut gallery is actually very helpful in persuading me to do it longer, a la LimoncelloQuest.

***I should also point out that, should you play along and make your own Limoncello with me, that you can drink it at home and share it with friends but under no circumstances should you attempt to sell it without proper authority of the Bureau of Alcohol and whatever-else in your area. End public service (and save your ass) announcement.***

Ben over at LimoncelloQuest has been incredibly thorough in practice and documentation of his mission to create amazing Limoncello so I’m going to use his experience and the base for my forray into infused liquor, adjusting as necessary, though his recipe mirrors others I’ve found across the Internet with the exception of time involved.

All we’re using is the zest, so choose lemons based solely on their appearance. I know, I know, it’s not fair to the lemon’s inner beauty but we’re looking for thick skin so I think they can take it. Buy organic if you can. This will save you time cleaning off waxes and pesticides.

Prepping the Lemon Zest

Prepping the Lemon Zest

Zest the lemons avoiding the white, spongy pith beneat the surface. LQ prefers a microplane but I prefer a simple paring knife. Remove strips of lemon peel and then clean up any of the inevitable pith that tags along. Unless you know of a source of square lemons, it’s going to happen.

Mincing Zest

Mincing Zest

While I had no intention of reducing the zest to dust, I do believe if giving the alcohol ample surface area to harvest the cirtus oils from. Once cleaned of all pith I reduced the strips to small matchsticks. I briefly considered freezing the zest strips before slicing them up, going back to my recent observation about ice and zest, and I suppose you could shave off a week or two that way but for this go round I figured we could do it the long way to start.

Lemon, Meet Alcohol

Lemon, Meet Alcohol

I used 8 large lemons for the single 750 mL bottle of 151 Everclear (grain alcohol). Some folks think Vodka is a good base alcohol, others prefer a cleaner grain alcohol. Inside a 2 qt “cracker jar” I picked up at Wal-Mart that morning the lemon zest and the alcohol had their first handshake. The lid seemed fairly tight but it did have a cardboard insert rather than metal or plastic so I placed a piece of plastic wrap over the opening before screwing on the lid.

A Good Beginning

A Good Beginning

It’s going to be cozy for 45 days, give or take, before we add a quart of sugar syrup and let it sit for another 45 days. But for this first week we’re going to be swirling and shaking it around several times a day. We were surprised that within minutes the Everclear had taken on a yellow hue, certainly a positive sign!

Over the next 3 months I’ll be doing a check-in with the limoncello-to-be and post a photo every week so we can see how things develop over time. Once we get closer to the end (early October) and it’s time to start straining and tasting, I’ll do a quickie batch and Todd & I will taste the two and compare.

If you decide to play along and make a batch of limoncello alongside Todd & I, let us know in the comments.

And, in the mean time, turn those now-naked lemons into lemonade! 8 lemons yeilded a smidge over 1.5 cups of juice, a perfect amount to combine with a sugar syrup of 3/4 c sugar and 2 1/4 cups water, making a quart of lemonade concentrate to be combined with equal parts water, sparkling water, soda or (as we prefer) strongly brewed Earl Grey Tea.