Summertime’s Cheep Trills

Chirped by Cass and Tina

Oh where has the summer gone? Our last Cheep Trill was in April and our most recent Chirp was June’s Crafting for a Cause.  As is probably the case for many of you, summertime has been busy! Between having the kids home from college, vacations, visits to and from friends and family, etc… these days of summer are just flying by. Now we are in the midst of packing the kids up to head back to school again! But we’re taking a moment to breathe, and celebrate ten favorite things from the past few months…

Favorite Book

Our favorite book for the summer was The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. Set in the 1970s in the wilderness of Alaska, this book could put a chill down your spine on the hottest summer day. We loved the descriptions of living off the grid, surviving the dark, cruel Alaskan winters, and a community that pulls together to help each other in times of trouble. More disturbing were the family’s constant battles with the father’s violent temper and PTSD from his days as a Vietnam POW. The writing beautifully captured Alaska in all its fearsome glory – as much a character in the story as the tough-as-nails Alaskans struggling to carve out a life there. Two thumbs up!

Pro Tip from Tina:  I read this book for both my book clubs, and hosted the first one at my house. For an Alaska-themed menu, try the smoked salmon potato bite appetizer we raved about in March’s Cheep Trills. In case you’re tempted to make your own akutaq, the Eskimo ice cream mentioned several times in the book, I did that too. And I made it the traditional way demonstrated in the link – with my hands! My friends were impressed, but it came out like cold blueberry frosting, which was tasty on Animal Crackers (think wild beasts of Alaska!), but not something you’d really want to dig into with a spoon. If you’re going all out on the Alaska theme, don’t make too much of it!

Handwoven Hat Enhancement

Tina’s floppy hat from her St. John trip needed a little spiffing up, so her aunt created a beaded hat band on a loom that she constructed from materials available at Home Depot. The colors go great with Tina’s new cover-up and bathing suits! And there’s nothing like a little handmade love from your favorite crafty aunt…

Favorite Dinner Recipe

Tina made this delicious Ina Garten Caesar Swordfish recipe for her family this week. It was a crowd-pleaser, and you can make the sauce up in advance to save prep time at dinner. The fish bakes in the oven for 10-12 minutes so it’s quick and plates nicely with a little rice and fresh Caprese salad – if you have ripe tomatoes and basil from the garden or local farmer’s market!

Favorite Breakfast Recipe

It’s a little scary when your son wants to make everyone breakfast and requests that you get a box of Captain Crunch cereal from the store. But, I will have to say he made a very yummy Captain Crunch French Toast that morning. We were all pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted.

Directions: Prepare your usual egg/milk/vanilla French Toast recipe. Pour the Captain Crunch into a Ziplock bag (about 2 cups). Seal the bag and then take a rolling pin to it, to crush up some of the cereal. Dip your bread into the egg mixture, then into the crunch crumbs and cook on a griddle as you would regular French Toast.

Pirate Room Makeover

Tina’s neighbor needed a super quick fix for her son’s bedroom. They were hosting some out-of-town basketball players for a weekend tournament and he still had a pirate-themed mural on his walls from his childhood. There was no time to paint over it and he was in a panic – what to do? A quick trip to Burlington Coat Factory yielded a couple of striped shower curtain panels that coordinated nicely with his bedspread. Raiding his closet uncovered some souvenir and high school team jerseys. We tacked the shower curtains over the cannon, treasure chest and pirate flag using thumb tacks, and added school jerseys for interest. Then we displayed the souvenir jerseys and some framed varsity certificates beneath the mast of the ship to draw the eye away from the ship’s wheel and prow. Not bad for an afternoon’s work… Her son was thrilled with the last minute makeover!

Virtual Reality Game….or Workout?

On a weekend getaway with college friends, Tina was introduced to the game “Beat Saber” for the PlayStation 4. Her friend’s son brought his VR headset and handsets and the rest is history. Armed with two different colored “light sabers”, the object is to strike down oncoming blocks of the same color, in the direction indicated by the arrows – all to the beat of the music and while avoiding approaching walls. Her friends were awarding bonus points for style, and the game actually gives higher scores for grander, more enthusiastic arm motions. The adults had as much fun rocking out to the bundled Imagine Dragons pack as the kids, and it was even fun to watch as a spectator on the big flat screen! Only drawback is that it’s a one-player game, but when you’re playing on the more difficult levels, you’ll need some cool down time anyway – it’s a serious workout!

Rain and Lilies

This summer the northeast has had a lot of rain. But after every rain storm, my lilies bloom. My dad gave lily pots to me and each of my siblings, so it makes me think of him and my mom whenever they flower… Little reminders that they are always with me.

Fruits of the Land

All this rain has also made our gardens bloom – both with vegetables and weeds. That means long early mornings of weeding for Tina, and plentiful herb and vegetable picking for me. Tina gets a fair amount of satisfaction from her “before” and “after” weeding shots… at least until the thistles come back within a week and the poison ivy blisters start to appear. She’s going to try an old organic gardening trick of her mom’s next round, laying down newspapers under the mulch to block the weeds’ growth. My black plastic has the same effect – but the weeds still pop up around the edges. The struggle is real, but we will prevail!

 

Fruits of the Sea

A couple of seaside excursions have provided the inspiration for some appropriately-themed crafty exploits. Check out Tina’s sand lobster, sculpted on the Atlantic coast during a long weekend with her husband’s family, and her latest painted art projects. The wooden egg features an egret she admired while visiting her aunt on the Gulf of Mexico. The first rock is modeled after a spotted eagle ray she encountered on a trip to St. John. The octopus rock is a treasured gift from the same aunt she visited, who also beaded her hat band! The craft force is strong in their family…

Dogs Days of Summer

Our pooches have been doing their best to enjoy this hot summer. One has taken up boating. Another enjoys playing ball – no matter the temperature. And the puppy… well I’m not sure he enjoyed his cone of shame, but he didn’t let it stop him from getting treats from the neighbors through the fence!

We’ll share more detailed accounts of our summer adventures and projects in upcoming posts. In the meantime, hope all of you find your own reasons to smile as the summer winds to a close!

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