Instead of our usual Healthy Blogger Thursday post, I thought I would interrupt the series for some random thoughts for the weekend and a new infused vodka that you can make today and have ready for Labor Day. It’s worth wading through my ramblings, trust me.


This weekend we are celebrating Manatee’s parents 50th wedding anniversary. All of his 5 siblings will be in town and with 3 siblings in Arizona, it is rare to have the entire bunch together.

I always wished to have an Italian family when I was growing up. I didn’t know if I was going to somehow turn into an Italian or marry one, but I loved this stereotype of the loud, boisterous Italian family where everyone and their friend was welcome, wine was poured at length, and food was always bubbling on the stove.

Manatee is not Italian.

No one in Manatee’s family is Italian.

I don’t even know if anyone in Manatee’s family knows an Italian.

But God has still given me an “Italian” family.

When the Manatee’s family is together, you can identify the in-laws very quickly. We are the ones sitting quietly or trying to corner people for 1-on-1 conversations, generally in the kitchen while we do the dishes. We speak beneath the din while the family is talking over each other (volume always escalating), gesturing with wine glasses, outdoing each other with clever quips, belly laughs, and back slaps.

Strangers are always walking in the door, people are playing the piano, and kids are putting on skits.

Despite my normal quiet existence, I am in heaven, an overwhelming heaven at times, but heaven nonetheless. My voice rarely raises and I think I may have that deer-in-the-headlights look most of the time, but I love it.

On top all of the great family times, we are also so happy that we are able to celebrate this huge milestone with Manatee’s parents. 50 years is a long time. Manatee’s parents have gone through a lot together and have done so by keeping their senses of humor in tact and never taking themselves too seriously. We have a lot we can learn from them. Okay, so maybe, I have a lot to learn from them.

My parents will also be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year. How cool that we both have our parents around for this!


No, I am not going to get political on the blog. Don’t worry. And on that note, I will delete any comments that fight for one side or another, or worse, slam one side or another.

So, why did I even bring it up?

I love this time of year. I watched the Republican National Convention last night (and will be watching the Democratic National Convention as well, don’t try to pigeon-hole me). I love watching politics in performance.

I love watching the speeches at the conventions, the debates, even the awful commercials. I love hearing the words they choose because every word is important.

I am not passionate about politics, but I am passionate about words. This is the one time where everyone else pays as much attention as I do to words (and won’t I be mortified if there is a typo in this post…).

Each word that is chosen is chosen for a specific performance purpose. Each action, each gesture is designed to exude a certain persona. Even the commercials, which most people hate, I love to watch. Yes, I know they want to manipulate me, but I want to see how they are going to do it.

In my previous life as an academic, I studied performance and political performances (both plays that related to politics and how leaders performed their political roles), so I guess it just makes sense that I love this stuff.

Manatee can’t stand my obsession. We are both very private about our politics and have both been raised to tread softly when discussing politics and religion. I do think it’s important to be involved and educate yourself, but that’s as far as I will go in promoting a political view. I challenge you to watch the speeches and the hoopla for what it is: a performance, complete with costumes, characters, scripted speech, and special effects.

End of Summer

I know some people are looking forward to the end of the summer, but frankly, I am terrified. What happened to summer? Here’s hoping September in Madison is warm and balmy. I still need to have many more picnics, bike rides, afternoons of golf, and drinks on our patio.


For those of you who have been following me on Facebook, you know that I recently received way too much basil. Like 3 pounds* of basil. Don’t sound like much? Have you ever weighed it? Basil is light. Really light. I wish I would have taken a picture, but I was so mortified by my stupidity in ordering that much that I did not take any. In case you were wondering, this is the best way to store fresh basil.

storing fresh basil

Put the stems in a shallow bowl, jar, or glass, then cover with a plastic bag. Leave it on the counter and do not put it in the fridge.

So far, I have made 6 different types of pesto (and froze them), basil frozen in olive oil, basil butter, multiple Caprese salads, and then I realized that I was missing the one thing I always seem to be making lately: infused vodka.

We have no less than 7 types of infused vodkas in our basement, 9 if you count limoncello. In my defense, most are for the two cookbooks I am working on, but this is just for us, and now it’s just for you.

It’s too easy NOT to make. 3 days and you will be able to make some awesome basil-inspired drinks (basil vodka and lemonade, anyone?) and totally impress all of your guests.

Basil Infused Vodka

How many of you just scrolled down to this section? Be honest.


20 fresh basil leaves
1 liter vodka

1. Place basil in an airtight container. Pour vodka over and make sure all leaves are submerged.

2.Put in a cool, dark place for 3 days. Taste the vodka on the 3rd day. It should be nice and pepper-y. Strain the vodka through a fine mesh strainer and enjoy with your favorite lemonade or with some fresh lime juice and sparkling water.

 *Did you catch my facebook mistake? I knew it was a lot but I had to double check to be sure and lo and behold, I was way off, but trust me, this is still a LOT of basil.


What is on your end-of-summer to-do list? Anyone else love watching the political performance of the elections? Anyone celebrating any anniversaries coming up? Any other random thoughts you would like to share?

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