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REMEMBERING SUMMER 2014 – 1ST INSTALLMENT: CAPE MAY

Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, New Jersey – The very first thing we did when school ended in June!

When school started last week it had the depressing effect of abruptly ending my summer. The weather is still warm (unbearably so today!) but my mindset has shifted into more of a work-mode – Drat!

Lots of reading and paddle ball!

Lots of reading and paddleball!

I want to sit here for a few hours and recollect this most wonderful Summer and talk about some of the highlights (great and small) via the eye of my ever-ready camera!

Back on the familiar beach

Back on the familiar beach

  These are the moments in my life that are no longer lost on me. (and to think all it took was several decades of blindness!). This will be my third annual installment about our trip to Cape May Beach in New Jersey for a week with our friends, and every year a couple of gem moments stand out.

My friend Celine kicking off the Summer!

My friend Celine kicking off the Summer (and that’s not water in her glass!)

This year, it was my disbelief at how much the kids had grown up since we first began this ritual only three years ago!

Let's try the boogie boards

3 years ago

Three years in my life has bestowed my face and body with more “character” (my kind way of saying I have a few more wrinkles and feel a little creakier), but my kids and their friend Marie-Lyse, blossomed from children into teenagers and grew a collective 5 feet!!

This time

This summer!

Going from children to teenagers comes with obvious changes, but as  far as these three friends, and siblings were concerned, all bets were off when it came to hanging out together on the beach; the usual crab hunting,

Find those critters!

Find those critters!

boogie-boarding,

one two three

one-two-three

Paddleball,

Hurling the ball to the girls in the surf

Calder hurling the ball to the girls in the surf

and bucket and spade action were the top priority.

where there is sand, there is also a bucket and spade close by

where there is sand, there is also a bucket and spade close by

Suddenly being cool (or trying to be cool) wasn’t important anymore.

Stay up Ide!

Stay up Ide!

 Our routine was pretty much the same; late morning breakfast,

Butter Bun from

Butter Bun from The Red Store (A great restaurant in Cape May point, minutes from our house – more about The Red Store below!)

followed by the 3 minute trek to our spot on the beach and then, home for cocktails and a lavish dinner and late night chat, with maybe a walk on the beach.

This is probably one of the only places people doon't bat an eye when they see a grwon woman playing with a plastic bucket in the sand - lucky Celine!

This is probably the only places people don’t bat an eye when they see a grown woman playing with a plastic bucket in the sand – lucky Celine!

One of the reasons it is imperative for people to leave their homes for a few weeks during the year is to give them a break. When you separate or “break” away from your house you feel suddenly free. Why is this?

Marie-Lyse taking a break from fun

Marie-Lyse taking a break from fun

For me, it is simple: when I am supposedly relaxing at home, I still find myself cleaning or shopping for dinner and God know what else. I cannot sit still, always finding things to do. But, when I am stranded in a pretty cool house by the beach there is nothing to distract me, no laundry ( I lie, there is the pile of sandy towels to attend to each evening!), no running here or there, no anything.

lots of walks on the beach

lots of walks on the beach

I end up being busy thinking up a million different ways to have fun: invent new cocktails, explore the lighthouse a quarter-mile away, collect pebbles on the rock beach, dig holes in the sand (actually it was Dave who decided to dig holes – yes, a grown-up!).

The girls liked to climb into the life gaurds after they left the beach in the evening

The girls liked to climb into the life guard chair after they left the beach for the evening

And that was all we did really. There was no real objective and I began to feel like what my kids must feel like when there is no school. It is no problem for them to drop everything and be “in the moment” as they say. It takes me a little bit longer to shake off the guilt of being idle, but after three years of being stranded in Cape May for a week, I have finally gotten the hang of it.

Playing paddleball with Calder after dinner (dorsn't everyone?)

Playing paddleball with Calder after dinner (doesn’t everyone?)

So for a week, I sat in my deck chair reading or dreaming about dinner, while I watched the kids have the time of their lives.

Ide digging for disgusting sand crabs!

Ide digging for sand crabs!

And no one was more oblivious to the world around them than when Calder, Ide and Marie-Lyse were playing on the beach or in the ocean together.

waiting for that big wave

waiting for that big wave

While I watched them I knew I was looking at something special, and so found it easy to stop thinking about the world and all my problems, and instead be amazed by their faces as they appeared and disappeared in the water.

yeah!

yeah!

And then of course, there was the food…and it was STELLAR!

Pesto and chicken with crisp romaine lettuce for lunch

Pesto and chicken with crisp romaine lettuce for lunch

We packed wonderful lunches every day with cold drinks and ate whenever we felt like it.

Soft shell crab

Fried Soft shell crab

And the thing that would revive us each evening (and spur me on to make dinner), was a refreshing Cape May Cocktail (Cape Maytini!).

Cape Maytini: 1 shot vodka, 1/2 shot of triple sec, 2 shots of good quality lemonade, shaken and poured over ice - deliciously refreshing

Cape Maytini: 1 shot vodka, 1/2 shot of triple sec, 2 shots of good quality lemonade, shaken and poured over ice – deliciously refreshing

After an outdoor shower followed by a cocktail it was very easy to mill around the kitchen and get dinner ready together.

Pork Lo Mein

Pork Lo Mein

 One night we had Asian, the next night French, and the next a Fish Fry, depending on who was doing the cooking.

Whole Chicken slow-cooked in white wine and fresh herbs whcih I brought from my garden. (this cooked while we lounged on the beach!)

Whole Chicken slow-cooked in white wine and fresh herbs, which I brought from my garden. (this cooked while we lounged on the beach!)

One of the meals that I most remember was the night Celine cooked a boatload of fresh sole fish.

Fried sole

Fried sole

Before going to the beach one morning, myself and Celine headed to The Lobster House with the intention of buying a few dozen crabs for dinner. When we got there and saw a pile of freshly caught sole, we both instantly thought, “Fish Fry!”

Rice with pesto and veggies

Rice with pesto and veggies

While Celine fried the fish, I made a rice and veggie medley.

Expertly chopped lemons

Expertly chopped lemons

Dave Chopped lemons (I know, a real chef in the making!)

Romaine and Mozzarella salad

Romaine and Mozzarella salad

and then Celine made a fantastic Romaine and Mozzarella salad.

our spectacualr dinner

our spectacular dinner

The whole thing was completely amazing and we managed to eat 4 lbs of fish between us!

Freshly baked croissant from

Freshly baked croissant from The Red Store in Cape May Point

Some mornings I treated us to some yummy pastries from the cafe five minutes walk from our house.

The artful truck of a landscape gardner in Cape May Point

The artful truck of a landscape gardener in Cape May Point. We came across it while walking to the restaurant.

One day we treated ourselves to brunch at The Red Store, a fantastic little local restaurant (and the same place I got the wonderful pastries)

one more look at this amazing truck!

one more look at this amazing truck! It is at times like this I am so glad that I have a camera attached to my shoulder.

The Red Store is this great little restaurant run by Lucas Manteca and Deanna Ebner, who focus on locally sourced food and support local artisans like beekeepers who supply their little restaurant shop with honey,

and all sorts of other locally grown products.

Beach Plum Jam form Jalma Farms

Beach Plum Jam form Jalma Farms

They also have a star pastry chef, Michel Atelier who made the mouth-watering pastries we ate most mornings.

for brunch, the girls started out with berry smoothies

for brunch, the girls started out with berry smoothies

It is a laid back place where you can bring your own bottle of wine if you so choose (darn, forgot the champagne for mimosas – next year!)

Quiche Lorraine with Fresh green Salad

Quiche Lorraine with Fresh green Salad

I had a lovely Quiche with a great garden salad, while others of us tried some of the omelets.

Hame and Cheese omelet with savory homefries

Ham and Cheese omelet with savory home fries

Next year we plan on having dinner one night ( I’ll let you know how it is!).

A lush pond which I ran around most mornings!

A lush pond which I looped around most mornings!

And there it is, another Cape May trip has come and gone. We played on the beach,

Calder & Ide

Calder & Ide

took time with friends,

Just hanging out

Just hanging out

played strenuous sports (!)

Played lots of paddleball

Paddleball!

And dug a hole big enough to put a chair into and eat your lunch in private!

A very large hole (this hole kept Dave busy excavating for hours!)

A very large hole (this hole kept Dave busy excavating for hours!)

All in all, a trip worth remembering.

sunset Cape May Point, New Jersey

sunset: Cape May Point, New Jersey

The Beach, Cape May: Day 1 and deciding on the Holiday Happy Hour Cocktail (with recipe!)

So, it is officially Summer and yesterday, we packed the car to the gills and headed to what appears to be our annual trip to the beach at Cape May, New Jersey.

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The first look at the beach for my kids and their best friend Marie-Lyse!

The traffic was pretty brutal, so what was supposed to be a 3 hour drive turned into 5. This would have been awful except for the fact that my daughter and I decided to use her iPod to make videos of ourselves singing along to whatever was playing on the radio. Yes, it had definite goof-ball qualities but I am pretty sure that it is done on long road trips more than travelers are willing to admit!

Day 1

Day 1

We were meeting our friends who drove from Quebec to meet us at the same house they rented last year. The kids had not seen each other since Christmas when they came to stay at our house for the holiday, and were beside themselves when we arrived. It was so odd, I was a year older and felt every bit of it, and they had grown inches taller and looked fabulous.

jhg

Ide & Marie-Lyse

Instantly they hugged and laughed and then sort of stood back and looked,  feeling sort of shy staring back at their friend who had morphed into a different person, older looking… was that eye make-up?  It was an interesting moment to watch, and then I remembered I was a tired and frustrated woman in dire need of a drink: just to calm the nerves.

Beach finds

Beach finds

Our friend Kelley stood in the kitchen and pointed to the counter and said, “I’ve been to the wine store, what should we open?” I told him that wine was great but that this time I was going to introduce him to a new drink, a cocktail that perhaps we could make a staple of our happy hour for the week. There were no objections.

green rocks

Green rocks

The day before I had killed myself cleaning the house, planning possible menus and packing for our trip, and by evening felt the urge to go to a bar and have a shot of whiskey. What I mean is…have you ever watched one of those movies where the protagonist has gone through some major crisis and the next shot is of him (or her) bellied up to their local bar and nodding to the bartender? Of course you have. Then the bartender would pour the required drink and it would be downed in a single head throw-back. This is how I felt, only I wanted to act as my own barkeep.

Marie-Lyse and Green Rocks

Marie-Lyse and Green Rocks

As Kelley went for the wine opener I asked if there was ice? When he nodded I told him we were going to have something a little stronger. “Like what?”, he said. “Like Vodka”, I replied. He said he hadn’t had anything but beer or wine in “God knows how long”, but he felt my urgency and pointed to the freezer.

The Beach

The Beach

I told him about my crazy day of trip preparations and the need for a drink, and the discovery of having nothing alcoholic in the house, followed by the trip to my sister-in-law next door where we were supplied with what they had: vodka, and then my inventing this drink, which was derived from pure desperation: lemonade from my daughter’s Lemonade Stand and the vodka from next door.

The cocktail

The cocktail

The drink that was created satisfied me to no end and this is what I wanted to reinvent for Kelley, (after all when drinking one needs a partner!). I paired vodka with homemade lemonade over ice. I wasn’t quiet satisfied as I wanted it to be something special and more unique. It is hard to serve up a simple vodka and lemonade in this day and age with all of those mixologists out there grinding herbs and infusing fruits into drinks that should be photographed and not libated! So, I added a sage leaf that I had brought from my garden and served it to Kelley who said, “Why would you put a leaf into a perfectly good drink?”

Well, he drank it! And, the next day we had another, and another. He seems to be fine with the “leaf ” now.

The drink with a leaf in it!

The drink with a leaf in it!

Anyway, we have 6 more days here in Cape May and the only thing missing is Celine, Kelley’s lovely wife and my good friend who could not make it this time around. This week of our adventures of sun, beach, food and cocktails is dedicated to her so she feels a little like she is here with us.

Recipe for Vodka with Lemonade and Sage

1 shot (1/4 cup) of chilled vodka

2/3 cup lemonade (the most natural you can find)

1 slice lemon

1 sage leaf

Method:

Fill glass with ice. Pour vodka with lemonade into glass. Add a slice of lemon and sage leaf. Feel free to bruise sage before adding to release flavor. Drink!

More to come

More to come