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Strawberry Basil Gin & Tonic and Reading With Intention 2015 (June)

Strawberry Basil Gin & Tonic | www.thatwasvegan.com

After what felt like weeks and weeks of rain, rain, snow, more rain, and actually having to turn my furnace back on, it appears that summer may finally be showing her face here in Denver!

And what better way to celebrate that than with a tasty G&T, my favorite summer drink of all time!? This time around though, to make it just a tiny bit different, I went with a Strawberry Basil G&T, which still has that delicious gin flavor, but also a touch of summer. Because really, what could possibly taste more like summer than fresh strawberry and basil? It truly is just a touch, though. A slight hint. You could always add more strawberry and basil if you want the summer to shine through, so to speak. But me? I like my cocktails spirit-forward!

Strawberry Basil Gin & Tonic | www.thatwasvegan.com

Strawberry Basil Gin & Tonic | www.thatwasvegan.com

There was no question what kind of gin I’d use (although you can use your favorite!) – I went with Spirit Hound, which I picked up on a trip to Lyons. This gin is so good. If you live anywhere along the Front Range I highly recommend you take the time to stop by their distillery and tasting room. Especially the tasting room!

Strawberry Basil Gin & Tonic | www.thatwasvegan.com

Also, this. HAVE to share this:

kids

You see, it’s not just the changing weather that made today feel right for a cocktail post. It’s also a melancholy day. My step-brother Jamie and his family moved to Denver almost exactly one year ago- and today they’re leaving, heading back to Houston. Jamie and I were fairly close growing up- we were in the same grade and lived together since we were in the third grade, and I’m pretty sure he was the one who convinced me I should eat cow corn (yuck!), but you know how it is when you grow up… I moved to CA, he ended up in TX, and we only saw each other at weddings and family gatherings.  I hardly saw (or even got to know) his wife Kathy or their kids, and in fact I had only met the two youngest one time before they moved here. 

People who know me IRL know I’m sort of ambivalent towards kids. I don’t dislike them, but I’m also not oohing and ahhing over them. I certainly never wanted any of my own. So when I found out they were coming here and I was to be rebranded as Auntie Barb, I wasn’t really sure how it would go. Would I like these three little rugrats? Would they be clean and polite and well-behaved? Would I know what to talk to them about???

If you had told me a year ago that I would fall so in love with those kids, I’d have thought you were crazy… but it’s true! They are so wonderful and being around them makes my heart just about burst. They’re funny and smart and adorable and sweet (and (mostly) clean and polite and well-behaved!) and I could practically just eat them up. LOVE them! Jamers is a genius AND can mix a mean cocktail, Gaby loves dogs and is just so sweet and patient with Sally, and when little Squirtus climbs into my lap to snuggle, it is heart-meltingly sweet. They are probably the best kids ever. (They also have the best nicknames ever, right!?)

They’re even great enough to lure me to Houston for visits, which is really saying something! It was also fun to spend the last year boozing it up with Jamie, and finally becoming friends with Kathy, and I’ll miss them too of course, but it’s the kids that had me tearing up as I drove away from them the last time. I just hope they don’t grow up too fast in between visits. ❤️ you guys!!

Okay, enough tears… time for books!

reading june

 In May I read… 

  • Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill … Okay, so I’m sorry to report that I didn’t love this book. The story was of course wonderful, but there were more footnotes than actual story, and jumping back and forth really kept me from ever getting into the story itself. I understand what they were trying to do, and it was truly fascinating to read the historical facts behind so many of the stories I remember from the Little House books, but holy crap! I felt totally psychizo trying to read this! Plus it’s an enormous book and I couldn’t bring it on the bus. 
  • Revival by Stephen King … I liked this more than I thought I would. I’ve always really enjoyed King, especially the looong books that suck you in. This one had a really good ending too.
  • Fingersmith by Sara Waters … Love, love, love, LOVE! My second book by Waters, and now I’m completely dedicated to reading the rest. This story was phenomenal, and I loved how you don’t know until the end who knows what, who’s bad, who’s good, who’s just trying to survive!
  • Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick … I know there was a lot of controversy over this book, but I enjoyed it. I really like Bolick’s voice and writing style- this book was a surprisingly quick read because of it. It’s basically a closer look at how society views and treats single women.
  • The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain … More fiction, but good. She’s pretty highly rated on Goodreads which I think is how this book ended up on my list. I read it over one weekend and enjoyed it. It’s the story of a family torn apart by a secret, and the remaining family members who try to put it back together. Touching, well written. Not a great book, but it’ll draw you in and go by fast.
  • Songs For The Missing by Stewart O’Nan … I was feeling under the weather one day and wanted to just lie in bed and read something by O’Nan, but didn’t feel like rooting through the boxes of books I haven’t unpacked yet <ashamed face>, and this was the first one I found that was available for immediate download from the library. It’s a great book, a perfect example of how O’Nan can A.) write amazingly well from a woman’s perspective (seriously, the guy nails it!), and B.) capture the day-to-day minutia of a family without ever letting the reader get bored. This book is about the family of a teenage girl who goes missing. It’s not my favorite, but ranks somewhere towards the middle of the pack- and yet I still love it. So just imagine how much I love his really, really good books!?

 Books for May 2015

  • Chance Encounters: Travel Tales from Around the World by Janna Graber … I love to travel, and when I can’t… I love to read about it!
  • A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett … another travel read. A “dramatic and redemptive” memoir about a girl who escaped a violent childhood through travel- first imagined then actual. She goes on to have some wonderful, and some very, very life-threatening, adventures. 
  • Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on Their Decision Not To Have Kids by Meghan Daum … So yah, this seems an odd choice in light of my loving words about my darling niece and nephews – or does it?- but I’ve been waitlisted at the library and it finally came up!
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins … there is so much buzz around this thriller (and there was such a long waitlist at the library) I feel like it has to be good! It’s been compared to Gone Girl which I also really enjoyed, so we’ll see. 
  • The Women by TC Boyle … Another book by Boyle, and yes- another re-read, this one about the four main relationships in Frank Lloyd Wright’s life, told from the point of view of the women. Having read Loving Frank made me want to re-read this one again, to be reminded of all the other women in his life besides just Mamah. 

Strawberry Basil Gin & Tonic
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 6 strawberries
  2. 4 basil leaves
  3. 6 oz gin
  4. 8 oz tonic water
  5. Ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Dice the strawberries and basil leaves and place into a martini shaker. Smash them with a fork or the back of a wooden spoon as well as you can. Add the gin and let sit for a minute or two.
  2. Fill your glasses with ice and pour in the gin and tonic, stir well and enjoy!
Notes
  1. If you don't have a shaker, you'll need some sort of strainer because it's really hard to enjoy your drink with bits of strawberry and basil getting caught in your teeth!
  2. As I mentioned, this recipe gives you just a hint of the strawberry and basil flavor. If you're not a fan of G&Ts and want it sweeter, I'd try doubling the strawberries, or maybe pureeing them in there!
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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • AnnMarie June 5, 2015, 8:36 am

    Those kids are pretty cute, and that drink looks so pretty and perfect for a hot summer day!

  • Reia@TheCrueltyFreeReview June 5, 2015, 9:17 pm

    Perfect timing for this post, as I have some basil growing on my balcony that’s just begging to be used. Assuming, of course, it makes it through this latest round of weather hell.

  • Angie June 9, 2015, 10:58 pm

    This tonic sounds sooooo good.
    I am sad to hear about Pioneer Girl, but I am right there with you on footnotes! I feel like I am at a tennis match looking back and forth.
    I have A House in the Sky on my list to read during my travels this summer!

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