As summer closes in…a feast

Is your summer starting to wind down?

We live in the mecca of summer vacationers – Martha’s Vineyard.  The head count here right now is about 115,000 people when normally the population is roughly 15,000.

(It used to worry me that we could sink into the ocean in summers but I’ve been assured we won’t!)

So even though our island is bursting to the shores with visitors, in only another week or two, everyone will go home and back to school and all will become quiet again on the home front.

Until then, my husband Rob and I are soaking up these last summer days with close friends, including visiting and local Women on Fire and Vision Day guests.

Women on Fire at breakfast this weekend on Martha’s Vineyard! From left:  Jamie Eslinger, Suzi Schadle, Michelle Whittaker, me! and Lisa Umberger Arundale. (Photo by Zan Schmidt)

One of this past week’s many highlights was Women on Fire member Phoebe Lapine coming over and preparing the most elegant, delicious lunch to celebrate the summer.

Phoebe with her luscious creation!

Phoebe is based in New York City and is a cookbook author, food writer and private chef and we love her – and I love sharing her talent in our Women on Fire community!

Check out her blog at Feed Me Phoebe.

She made a Salmon Cobb Salad and we paired it with a twist on another Woman on Fire Debi Lilly’s refreshing summer drink recipe – Watermelon Mint Muddles.

Phoebe and I say cheers to the Muddle! Thank you, Debi Lilly.

I am always on the lookout for entertaining tips and food ideas that are healthy, easy, beautiful and FUN. (Phoebe certainly hit every one of those buttons with her Salmon Cobb Salad… and she even did the grocery shopping! Thank you, Phoebe.)

Phoebe preparing lunch. (Photos by Rob Berkley)

I’m pretty sure after watching Phoebe I can duplicate this gorgeous salad. And, if I can, you certainly can, too!

Here are the ingredients for Phoebe’s Salmon Cobb Salad:

Grilled wild salmon, salad greens, purple basil, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, avocadoes, fresh corn raw sliced off the cob, crispy bacon.

Simple and elegant — one dish shared among six guests.

In addition to Phoebe using fresh and organic ingredients, what truly made this salad outstanding was Phoebe’s yummy Creamy Dill Dressing drizzled over the greens and the salmon.

Creamy Dill Dressing (from Phoebe’s blog)
Makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 garlic clove
1 small shallot
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a small food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse until finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons water and puree until the mixture is very smooth. Depending on the consistency you like your creamy dressing, add more water to thin it out.

Summer fun with dear friends — Jamie Eslinger, Phoebe Lapine, Robert Joerger, Edward Beck, Rob and me. Hope you will visit us when you come to Martha’s Vineyard! You never know who you might meet here:-)

Watermelon Mint Muddle

Adaptation from Debi Lilly’s recipe in her book A Perfect Event: Inspired, Easy Elegance for Every Occasion

In a tall glass, fill bottom with watermelon and several sprigs of fresh mint; “muddle” together (I use a wooden spoon).

Then fill with ice; sparkling water (or sparkling wine such as Prosecco). When I use sparkling water, I add a splash of lemonade to give it even more pizzazz!


Phoebe’s masterpiece!

I look forward to seeing a number of you here on Martha’s Vineyard next Friday when RoseMarie Terenzio will read from her best-selling book Fairy Tale Interrupted.  She will discuss her life as John F. Kennedy Jr.’s personal assistant for the last five years of his life and how experiencing that and many other losses has informed her life today.

Rose was the featured interview on the Women on Fire members’ CD a few months ago. I’m so excited many of you will get to meet her as well as other Women on Fire attending!

Have a terrific week. I can’t wait to share lots of inspiring opportunities happening this fall for you!

Muddling through the heat!

Unless you are in Antarctica today — or Seattle or Portland — chances are you are roasting hot.

And, these extreme temperatures are expected to stay with us much of the  upcoming holiday week in the United States.  But never fear!

Because today’s SPARK! is a tip about a drink so delightful that you will be cooled down and cheered up just by looking at it.

Debi Lily Book
The Muddling Bar is featured in our own Debi Lilly’s brand-new book on entertaining. Debi’s book-signing table all set up. (Photos by Rob Berkley)
In just five, super easy steps we’re going to show you how to make this healthy,  thirst-quenching cocktail or spritzer. It’s perfect for Fourth of July entertaining or if you’re like me, I’ve been drinking this special drink (sans alcohol) all day long today.

But first …

I had the pleasure of celebrating and honoring a Woman on Fire in our home.  Debi Lilly, the founder and creator of A Perfect Event in Chicago, has spoken at our retreats and been a part of our community from Day One.

(She also has been a favorite and personal planner of Oprah’s for nearly 14 years!)

So it was only a natural that when Debi’s first book was published — A Perfect Event ~ Inspired, Easy Elegance for Every Occasion — we would host a book launch for her. And what an evening it was!

Several Women on Fire attended and one even sent chocolate! (Thank you, Melissa McClain in Seattle who needed a sweater today while the rest of us dripped with sweat;-)

Debi Lilly with muddled cocktail
Debi Lilly with her special, amazing drink in hand!

In typical Debi-style, she and her family whipped up mouth-watering, summer food from her new book and brought it on the ferry boat from Nantucket where she was vacationing to Martha’s Vineyard.

She arrived at our home and with grace and ease put together the party in an hour!  Her dream is making your life’s celebrations — whatever they may be — easy and effortless. No one shows us how to do that better than Debi!

To quench your thirst and dazzle your friends and family the next time you entertain, here is how to create Debi’s Muddling Bar and drink.

Step 1: Fill glasses with your favorite fresh fruits

Step 2: Assemble your favorite fresh herbs — we chose this mint from our garden as well as thyme and rosemary

Step 3: Place everything on beautiful trays for your guests to create their own drinks

Debi Lilly Muddling a cocktail
Step 4:  Select any or all of the fruits and herbs and mash with a wooden spoon into the bottom of a glass to create the “muddle.”

Debi Lilly pouring a muddled drinkl
Step 5: Pour Prosecco sparkling wine into the glass — and enjoy!

Optional Step 5: Instead of Prosecco, pour ice and sparkling water into the “muddle” and you can drink all day! I also used splashes of lemonade with the sparkling water to give it even more of a refreshing flavor.

Debbie Phillips with Muddled drink
Cheers!  Happy Fourth of July this week to you and your family and friends.

What are ways that you keep cool in the heat? You are always welcome to share your tips and ideas in the comments section below.