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.

Gettin’ All Up in My Grill

Everyday Adventures

This post is sponsored by Mean Green Degreaser.

Labor Day marks the unofficial end to summer–I can only hope the thermometer gets the memo. And even though we here in the Deep South have the luxury of using our grills pretty much year-round, it feels a little more natural to use it more in the summer. And a well-used grill tends to show it.

When Todd and I moved in together back in 2009, my family gifted us with a lovely gas grill for our housewarming party (that we immediately put to use). That grill is still hanging with us, though we had to get new grill grates a couple years back because the set that came with it had been cooked and scraped through in places. Now, I’d like to see the replacement plates last at least as long as the originals, so a little maintenance is in order.

We try to remember to give them a once-over with the wire brush before each use, but it’s more like every 2-3 uses if we’re being real. Now that prime grilling season is over, though, it’s a good time for a deep clean.

The Before: Not Too Pretty

The Before: Not Too Pretty

Oh, wait, let’s get a little closer so you can see the true extent of what we’re working with.


Yeah… kind of a mess, right?

First I hit it with the wire brush to knock any larger particles loose and then shook the plates out before hitting them with the hose.Then a liberal application of Mean Green Super Strength Cleaner & Degreaser, let it soak in for a minute before giving it a scrub. Rinse and repeat because, well, it’d been a while.


Once they had a chance to air dry, back into place they went–not quite good as new but definitely a vast improvement. Even Todd was impressed!

The After: you could totally eat of this grill (which is sort of the point, right?)

The After: you could totally eat of this grill (which is sort of the point, right?)

This clean-up was simple and painless and didn’t ruin my nails, not something I usually associate with grubby tasks like cleaning the grill or anything else. It all comes down to the right tools, you know?

So before you put away your summer gear, make sure it’s ready and waiting for the next season by cleaning it up before you store it.

And with that, let the autumn fun begin!


Episode 15: Summerfeeling


Welcome to another episode of Random Acts Radio 2.0! This one goes out to all the people who would rather not see fall approaching (or having already arrived in some places) but want to hold onto summer with both hands. The music in this episode reminds me of both the languid days of summer–good for planning and relaxing–as well as beach parties to get the blood pumping and ideas churning.

This episode’s playlist:

Absinthe Minded—Adrienne Pierce
Fading—Al Stravinsky
Corbeaux Following—Kobo Town
Give Thanks—JoJoe
Stand By Me—Rouffdraff
Lucy Anne—Little Plastic Stars
Throwin’ It Down Beside the Sea—20 Riverside
Drinks Are On Me—880 South
Lottery—Sam Page
Dance To The Radio—Blade Of Grass 

As always, our thanks go out to all of the artists who make their work available to easily share with you. The music from this episode is from Mevio’s Music Alley. If you like what you hear, use the links, above, to find out more about these artists and show ’em some love. If you don’t like what you hear, let me know!  I can’t improve if I don’t know what the problems are, and constructive criticism is always welcome.

Wishing you creative days!

A Summer Soup


Chowders are usually heavy soups perfect for cold, winter months to warm you up when the weather is frightful.

Corn ChowderThis chowder, though, is light, a little sweet, and full of summer vegetables. I served it as part of my book launch tasting menu this weekend and it was perfect for a rainy, summer day spent in a bookstore. The leftovers were also just as tasty the next day when our friends came over for gaming.

What makes this chowder different is the use of coconut milk for the dairy. And if you use vegetable stock (which we prefer to do, for this), the meal is totally vegan!

Corn Chowder

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
5 cups stock
2 cans coconut milk
1 # corn kernels (frozen is easiest, canned also works)
1 cup diced potatoes
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp thyme

1. Heat olive oil on medium-high in a large pot.

2. Saute onions, cellery, and diced bell pepper until the onions are translucent and the other veggies are tender.

3. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds.

4. Sprinkle on the flour and stir to mix evenly.

5. Reduce the heat to medium and cook and stir until the flour lightens in color a bit–about 5 minutes should do it but watch it doesn’t brown.

6. Stir in the stock a bit at a time until each addition is absorbed.

7. Stir in the coconut milk, corn, potatoes, and roasted red bell peppers.

8. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook 10 minutes or so–long enough that the potatoes are cooked through.

9. Season with thyme. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Serves 8, from What to Feed Your Raiding Party

Calories: 383 per serving

This goes great with corn muffins or buttermilk biscuits.

the 12th Art: Water-Spewing Games

64 Arts

And it’s at this point I give the esteemed list-maker a sidelong glance as if to say ‘the hell?!’

That knee-jerk reaction aside, let’s think about this for a moment.

  • Water… water is good, it’s nice and cool and when we’re in the middle of a hot summer it prevents drought, cools our bodies and quenches our thirst. I’m good with water.
  • Games… games are fun, they provide entertainment value and can often get us moving. Movement is a good thing for our health. I’m good with games, too.
  • Spewing… Yeah, see, this is where you lose me. I mean, it has the word ‘ew’ right in there, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s icky; brings to mind spitting and other nasty habits. Nope, not good with spewing.

But don’t think I’m skipping out just yet!

Sure, the dictionary definitions of spew don’t really help (though the one about clay trimmings does put me in a more creative frame of mind), I’m going to take some of the less objectionable, roll them around in my head for a moment, and come up with projecting. Know what it reminds me of?

When you were a kid, did you ever play in the sprinklers on a hot day? Maybe you were a little better off and your family or neighbors had one of those toys that hooked up to the hose and sprayed water through little whipping tubes coming out of some alien-like head? Maybe your pleasures were simpler, just the spray of a hose, maybe during a car wash?

Drinking water straight from the hose. Letting in run a bit to get the sun-warmed stream out of the way of the cool, refreshing water from the pipes underground.

The smell of wet grass on a hot day–not dewy, not rainy, not fresh-cut, just green and clear and bright. The squeak of the blades under tiny, smooth, wet feet. The inevitable slips and slides (and the toy of the similar name). The shrieking at the sudden cold. The swimsuits that never completely dried all summer long.