Friday night started with strawberries. Beau left work a little early and we headed to Heartland Farms for the fourth year to check out their fields and bring home some berries. And after the heavy rains we've been having cancelled plans for most of the week, it turns out they were worth the wait - they were the biggest, juiciest, and most plentiful berries we've ever picked. We picked an entire crate full using about four feet of field space. Cruz was a good helper this year, and similar to his first year at the berry field (check out the resemblance!), Mila tried her first strawberry and sucked that baby down like she had never tried anything sweeter. It was a tug of war between my hand holding the berry and her mouth, and the juice ran down the sides of her face, creating the perfect war paint for a successful night of picking. The farmers loved her stained little cheeks and her big smile was icing on the cake. Watching her immediately brought me back to a little Cruz in a white onesie, sitting on a blanket on the outskirts of the field, strawberry juice running down his face and onto his chubby tan legs. The years go much too fast...
I had packed a picnic along and the night was shaping up to be a perfect picnic night. We found ourselves spreading out our blanket next to Kingsley Elementary School, found within my favorite neighborhood in Waterloo on Prospect Blvd. There was no one there, the sun was beginning to set into an absolutely beautiful sky, Cruz was excited to explore a new playground, and Mila was happy to stretch her legs. We feasted on sandwiches we have now labeled as 'the Kate,' ham and salami, fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, and basil on foccacia bread, a summer time quinoa salad, grapes and pepperjack cheese, and freshly baked brownies with of course, lots of strawberries. Beau and I snuck in a couple of Canoe Paddlers and we soaked in the calmness of the night. Friday night ended with the kids tucked in their beds, a couple of mixed drinks and cribbage on the deck, and a late night spent with neighbors.
Saturday's forecast was rain, so we didn't plan a lot other than taking care of the abundance of strawberries on our counter top. When the sprinkles ended, we decided to check out our local Farmer's Market and walked away with a great selection of onions, garlic, and turnips for Mila. I have vowed to make Mila's baby food with as much of my own grown or locally grown produce as I can this summer, going with what's available. It's the perfect time of year to introduce her to all these amazing fresh flavors and I want to be creative with what's available in our own backyard.
The clouds had parted ways by the time we dropped our produce off and we decided to head to the pool before naps for fear the rain would eventually settle in. It was Beau's first time joining me at the pool and it was great to have another set of hands! When Mila got tired, we put her to sleep in her carseat, sat her in a shady spot, and sat in a sunny spot beside her. The pool was less busy than our usual week days and it was fun to each get in the water a bit more and play with Cruz. We ended our pool afternoon with two sleepy kids and our usual stop at Tropical Sno before long awaited naps.
Thanks to three hour naps from both kids, Beau and I had the afternoon to ourselves and decided to spend it in one of my favorite ways - hip to hip in the kitchen. Just like the old days, we cooked and made quite the mess in our kitchen for three hours straight, creating a strawberry inspired dinner to enjoy on this summer solstice. Beau smoked a braided pork tenderloin with a strawberry chipolte glaze, I made a strawberry spinach salad with a balsamic dressing, and for dessert, made two strawberry rhubarb dishes - a crisp and some bars. We played music, mixed some drinks, and enjoyed lots of conversation while the babies slept.
And since it was not only the first official day of summer, but the longest day of the year, we decided to stay up a little late and have a date night at home. We fed Cruz and Mila, tucked them in their beds, and set the table outside with good dishes and candles. We ate after 9:00, but the food was definitely worth the wait. It was one of the best meals we've had in a long time and it might just be because we could sit down and enjoy it. Savor every bite. Even when I looked over at the door and saw a little blond head peering at us from the kitchen! Cruz didn't quite know what to make of our date night, but after a potty break, glass of milk, and an extra snuggle or two, he finally went to sleep!
We are officially strawberried out for a few weeks, but ready to start using up our garden's plenty in the next several weeks. I picked my first round of green beans last night and have been adding basil, rosemary, and parsley to just about everything we cook. We are officially into summertime and I hope for more weekends like this one. There is so much good to be found in the simple and ordinary.