Winter Bucket List

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Although the weather as of late feels like winter is upon us, the first official day isn’t till this Saturday. Gosh, I hope it goes by fast. To help pass these cold days by, I wanted to continue with my tradition of putting together a seasonal bucket list. Should any of you want to join me for any of these, you just let me know!

1. Ice skating on Frog Pond. It’s true. I lived in Boston for 11 years and never, ever went skating in the common. This needs to be remedied immediately, I know!

2. Catch up on the Classics. Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Some Like It Hot… I can’t believe how many of AMC’s Top 100 Classic Movies I haven’t seen.

3. Explore a New City. Atlanta is on the docket for early January. I have been twice but never really ventured beyond the convention site. Recommendations welcomed!

4. Host Ladies Night(s). Downton Abbey, Girls, a New Year. There are plenty of reason to get the ladies together. Just need to make it happen!

5. Send the Love. Send at least four care packages over the next three months to brighten someone’s day.

6. Build a Gingerbread House. Again, something I have never done. Since the holidays are going to be a bit quiet this year, perhaps I shall spend the 25th being an architect for the day.

Any winter activities that you love that I may have forgotten? Should note, I’m not a skier!

An Island Holiday

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I know I am biased but there is no better place to celebrate Thanksgiving than Nantucket and you know what, the Vice President thinks so too! I have only missed two in my entire life. This year, with my parents being out in California, my sister and I decided to host our very first Thanksgiving dinner at our family home and what a day it was. The prep started Wednesday with Michelle mastering the art of baking a pie. After getting home from the shop, I took to the kitchen to make my Aunt’s delicious cranberry mousse and apple butter for my sister Marie’s Thanksgiving brunch (and checked another two items off the fall bucket list). Check out the recipes below.

While waiting for the apple butter to bake, I turned to our tablescape. I knew I wanted to incorporate the collection of beautiful gourds in yellows and greens I purchased at Bartlett’s Farm so decided on a purple, yellow and celdaon green color palette. I placed my favorite John Robshaw table-cloth on the table with our Simon Pearce belmont dinning plates and my “only for special occasion” Kim Seybert napkins. I have these fantastic yellow bud vases for Bodega that I turned into candle holders for our green tapers. Feeling a bit DIY, I made place cards and the menu from old Rifle Paper pieces I had on hand. We made little wreaths from rosemary and Michelle added a personal touch by writing each of our guests a little note letting them know we were thankful for them. I just loved the way it all came together.

I was a bit hesitant to handle the actual bird… 16 pounds and all. I guess I know why I call myself a selectarian (raw meat totally squimishes me out). Luckily I had some help and got the bird cleaned, filled the cavity with oranges, lemons, garlic, thyme and onions and put her in the oven. I used Ina’s recipe as a guide cause really, the Barefoot Contessa has never failed me.

My absolute favorite sides with my Thanksgiving meal have always been stuffing and butternut squash so I knew I wanted to try something different. I had seen a picture on Pinterest for a butternut squash bread pudding with leeks and prosciutto and I knew that was the winner. Absolutely sinful (2 1/2 cups of half and half) but well worth it. For the stuffing, the verdict was in that sausage is a must so once again I turned to Smitten Kitchen to be my guide. Add in some roasted carrots and brussels sprouts, mashed new potatoes and a kale salad with roasted acorn squash, pomegranate seeds and a Dijon cider vinaigrette and we had ourselves a feast.

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Hope you all enjoyed a lovely day with your friends and family. And now for those recipes!

Auntie Deb’s Cranberry Mousse
– 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
– 2 3 oz. packages of raspberry gelatin
– 1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries (Nantucket has one of the largest bogs on the east coast)
– 1 large navel orange
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 cup sour cream

Directions
1. Open pineapple and drain liquid. Reserve 1 cup of juice.
2. Bring pineapple juice to a boil and stir in gelatin until dissolved.
3. In food processor, chop cranberries, sliced unpeeled orange and sugar to make a relish.
4. Combine relish and pineapple with gelatin in large bowl. Chill 1/2 hour, or until slightly thick.
5. Fold in sour cream and pour into a 2 quart mold. Chill until firm.
6. Unmold onto a serving plate.

* I should note I couldn’t find a mold so just poured into a large serving dish. Not as pretty as my aunt does but let me tell you, this cranberry mousse brings a leftover turkey sandwich to a whole new level.

Apple Butter
– 4 pounds assorted apples, peeled and chopped
– 2 cups apple cider
– 1 cup packed light brown sugar
– pinch of salt
– 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– pinch of ground clove

Directions
1. Preheat over to 250 degrees.
2. Combines the apples, apple cider, brown sugar and salt in a dutch oven (I’m obsessed with my Le Creuset) over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes.
3. Remove apples from the heat and stir in lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla extract and cloves.
4. Puree the mixture in a blender in batches until smooth.
5. Return the mixture to dutch over and bake uncovered, stirring every 30 minutes. The total cook time is about 3 hours. The mixture will become thick and a deep amber color.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer to n airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

* My sister Michelle used the remaining apple butter on Saturday night when she hosted friends for turkey soup. She spread it over brie, wrapped it in her pie crust and baked. Absolutely delicious!

To You

Sara Barellies is just one of those singer/songwriters whose lyrics speak to my soul. “Something always brings me back to you, it never takes to long.” Gravity. Gosh, everytime I hear that song I remember those feelings of lost love.

While enjoying her Blessed Unrest concert in Boston this past weekend, I was introduced to I Choose You, a letter Sara wrote to her future soul mate. Beautiful, right? So I was thinking, I should write one. Let me know what you think!

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Wow… what a road it has been to get to you. I really tried to never lose site of you at the end of this journey but I must be honest and say I maybe fell short a few times. But you, you have restored my faith in not only relationships, but love and myself. With you, I have found me. I was always worried about the silences I shared with lovers in the past. “What are they thinking” would run through my head. But with you. I love the silence. Because I no longer doubt how another feels for me. You show me with your words. You tell me with your actions.

I was worried I would have to chose between passion and friendship but you put that worry to bed. I finally found the one to be silly with. And honey, you make me laugh harder than I ever have in my life.

Where will this journey lead us? Only time will tell. But I will tell you this. I will be here for you. Every minute of every hour of every day. I know there will be challenges. I know there will be tears. But I also know that there will be great laughter. And adventure. And a journey we never knew we deserved until we were united.

And I just have to say this, I love that you love to kiss me as I much as I love to kiss you for it truly is one of my favorite things to do.

I am grateful everyday for you.

My New Hobby

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I can officially cross one item off my fall bucket list! Scalloping. And what fun it was. Ventured out with my good friend David, a bee keeper and all around nature guru on the island. How does one scallop you might ask? It’s really quite easy. You need: 1) waders (or a wetsuit if you’re snorkeling for them); 2) a rake; 3) a bucket in a tube and 4) lots of patience. Scallops live in the eel grass around the island so we had to find a high destiny spot and start raking. Sadly, most of the ones we caught weren’t legal (need to be at least two years old and you can tell that by their growth ring) but we were able to collect enough for a delicious lunch. My favorite part of all… catching the amazing sunset from the water. A perfect night indeed!

Pictured above: my rake; a scallop (did you know that they are hermaphrodites… crazy); and our bounty the next day for lunch. Delicious!

My List

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It’s that time again… my seasonal bucket list. Fortunately, work life has slowed down just a bit so hopefully I will be a bit more successful is completing these (fell a bit short with my summer list)!

1. Go scalloping. Yes, I am a native and no, I have never been. Tragic, I know.
2. Make apple butter. Fall always makes me reminiscent of my college days and one of my favorite memories is heading to Judie’s in Amherst with my girls. They made not only the best apple butter but the popovers to accompany said apple butter were insane.
3. Plan a road trip. I don’t want to admit how long it has been since I have been out of the lovely state of Massachusetts. For a girl who use to always be on the move, I can’t believe I have stayed still this long. Let’s just say, a boat reservation for the trusty Volvo has been made and I plan on hitting a few states. More to come!
4. Host a pot luck. It really is time to bring all my island friends together in my home.
5. Recipe testing with cranberries. Nantucket has one of the most beautiful cranberry bogs and I would love to spend a day in my kitchen coming up with some new recipes. Inspiration is most certainly welcomed.

Island Cocktails

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Not quite sure how but my little brother is 21 today. And since I am quite certain he hasn’t taken to the island nightlife quite like his older sister(s) (wink, wink), I thought I would share with him, and all of you, some of my favorite island spirits.

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The Goombay Smash – One of the finest rum punches at one of the best, Straight Wharf. But a word to the wise, these things go down a bit too easy so take caution.

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The Crucomber
My summer pick! I suggest one slight modification… ask the bartenders at Cru to use Hendrick’s gin instead of the Zubrowka vodka.

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Mudslide
The Gazebo’s dessert in a glass with a little kick… love it!

Last summer’s cocktail of choice was Ivy’s Poison at Dune. Sadly, I don’t have a photo to show you just how beautiful this cocktail is but let me describe it for you… muddled strawberries and mint, rose and St. Germain. Heaven in a glass is exactly right!

Just a few more contenders include The Proprietor’s Number 4; Slip 14’s The Berry SEXY, and the Madaket Mystery at Millie’s.

I am a firm believer that every home needs a house cocktail. Mine is quite simple: Izzy’s sparking grapefruit mixed in equal parts with Cisco’s Triple Eight blueberry vodka. My favorite party trick is to get the glass bottles of Izzy, empty out half of the grapefruit deliciousness into a pitcher (easy to refill later) and pour the blueberry vodka right into the glass bottle. Top it with a straw and you will impress your guests upon arrival. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Childhood

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As a little girl, I always wanted to be a mermaid. You see, my love for the ocean started at an early age being an island girl and all. I don’t remember a time where I ever feared the ocean. From the moment we arrived at the beach, till the moment we left, I was in the water. I loved to swim out past the sandbar. I distinctly remember the change in temperature when I reached the part when I knew I couldn’t touch. I would dive and dive and dive some more. In search of what, I am not quite sure. With all the chaos in my childhood, the beach was that one place where I could truly escape.

When I saw this little piece by local artist Elle Foley, I knew it had to be mine. My favorite childhood memories. A mermaid. That was me.

What A View

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I was remiss in including a visit to the Maria Mitchell Observatory on my list of Island Must Do’s. It only took me three decades but I finally made a visit last week. And what a time it was. Not only did I see the surface of the moon, and vega but I also got to see Saturn, rings and all. How amazing is that?

One of the many fascinating things about this little island is the rich female history we have. Maria Mitchell, the first female astronomer, was born on Nantucket in August 1818. At the age of 14, she became the first female librarian at The Atheneum, discovered a comet in 1847 from the windows at the Pacific National Bank, became the first appointed professor at Vassar College in 1865 and was an advocate for ending slavery throughout her life, which led her to convert from a quaker to a unitarian. What a woman!