Fleeting June

summer

{Rug from Target. And the lady at the nail salon told me the mole on my big toe means I’m a “wanderer” and will always love travel. I told her I received that sweet blessing. ;)}

June is typically one of those months known for the start of sweet summer. It’s famous for no-more-school {hallelujah praise} and the opening of pools nation-wide, “ma & pa” farm stands on the road-side of the freshest garden-grown produce, and those sticky-legged bugs {that happen to be named after the month} + loads of fireflies making their debut. My sweet niece loves to catch them, and watching her try is one of my favorite past-times. The air smells of my childhood nostalgia {a.k.a BBQ smoke} and over-zealous neighbors compete for the most aesthetically prestigious lawn, because everyone knows the winner will receive honks from passers-by and head-nods of approval for THE REST of sweet summer.

In my personal case, it’s involved “floating” through some of the best storms this year {Kansas City has practically been entirely submerged under water for about 42 out of the last 60 days, but who is counting, clearly not the woman who just purchased her own paddle boat?} It’s even included concerts of long-time favorite bands + unheard of new favorites from Oregon, friend’s milestone birthdays {#dirtythirty is a thing}, and visiting my sweet cousin, the seriously brave soul who just underwent spinal surgery, in the hospital on my rare day off. By the way, I will never understand why hospitals smell the way they do. Or why they’re so hard to navigate. {Because ending up in the pediatric bone-marrow transplant ward and being screamed at by a nurse to “scrub up” and throw out my fresh flowers because they can’t come through the main doors is normal for you too, right?}

Joseph, that band from Oregon I was telling you about {just go ahead click on their name for a mini listen to some serious talent + gift to your ears. Three woman bands are all the rage these days. ;)}

sun

{The Trader Joe’s sunflowers I took my cousin.
Because they just scream “summer!” to me + they’re the flower of Kansas, you know?}

Recently, toward the end of June, I found myself at Women’s Dessert night for church, where I ate my entire week’s quota of sweets in one sitting. {Bring on the clean-eats in July, am I right?} Needless to say, I was blessed beyond belief by some of the open dialogue and discussion that happened when the question “What do you dream of for the church?” was asked. Can you say holy moly estrogen fest? Feelings and passions flew around the room like fire-flies, but more than that, connections were made, walls were broken down, and this overall sense that women can really be for one another was understood and believed in again. Gosh, it was refreshing.

dessert

{These tarts from the dessert night were delish. I may or may not have
stuffed 3 in my purse for the car-ride home.}

Speaking of desserts, here’s the recipe I promised for my easy-peasy Cherry Garcia Brownies, one of my all time favorite flavor combos. I love these because they use fresh, local ingredients, healthy fats, and are only semi-homemade, so a serious cinch:

+ Set aside one 8 oz. block of cream cheese to come to room-temp.

+ Choose your favorite boxed brownie mix and follow their directions for a 9″ square pan serving, substituting coconut oil for vegetable oil, and making sure to use room-temp, fresh, local farm eggs. My go-to brownie brand + favorite will forever be Ghiardelli Ultimate Fudge Brownies, because the texture/consistency is the best {FUDGE, helloooo!} , and it includes mini chocolate chips {which I just add more of, but that’s beside the point}.

+ Additionally, add 1 1/2 tsp. of cherry extract, found at your local grocery market.

+ Mix well, adding in a heaping handful of your favorite 60% cacao dark chocolate chips {ain’t nobody got time for the semi-sweet!} in a gentle folding motion with a spatula.

+ Set aside your brownie mix to let it rest, and in the meantime, preheat your oven, and dice 1/4 pound of freshly washed cherries, tossing the pits/seeds out.

+ Pour the brownie batter into a greased 9″ square pan, evenly distributing with a spatula, and gently sprinkle and slightly push the diced cherries into the top of the batter, so they’re sunken into it, but not all the way at the bottom of the pan, which they will stick to.

+ Bake according to directions and your oven, but also be prepared to add anywhere from 15-20 minutes. I find that the addition of the cherries adds moisture and texture that just prolongs the baking process, so be patient and keep an eye on them.

+ While the brownies bake, put your block of cream cheese in a large mixing bowl, and add 2 tsp. vanilla extract and 4 Tbs confectioner’s sugar, and beat on a medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the icing is creamy and aerated. Keep chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

+ Once the brownies have finished baking and cooled completely, evenly ice them with your cream-cheese frosting, cut to serve, and place an individual cherry on each piece so people know exactly what they’re biting into.

cherries
{These are MESSY, as you can see from my photo, but worth it–and so, so good!
Please let me know what you think or if you did anything differently. }

In addition to baking and brunch + heart-chats with a dear old pal, and cleaning and DIY projects {photos coming soon}, I had some sweet fellow missionary friends pass through KC en-route to…Seattle! Patty is moving there with another friend, Meg, and I could not be more excited for them. Seattle is definitely one of my favorite cities {next to Kansas City…just look at our skyline, wouldja?}

friends {Chelsea, Myself, and Patty at Liberty Memorial overlooking Union Station}

It was so good to sit over BBQ with these amazing women and hear their hearts, learn more about their personal journeys, and encourage one another in the mundane, scary parts of life like the risk it takes to move cross-country, or finish a graduate degree, or date a man. We laughed a ton, because that’s just the kind of people they are, and in the wee hours of morning when they departed, I sent them with some Cherry Garcia Brownies for their continued westward journey. {An absolute road-trip must, and you have to eat them quickly, because they should be served cold.}

june{GIF image via @romanticiist via Tumblr}

All in all, June was a good month–a rich and full month that taught me a lot about myself and reminded me of my fondest dreams and ambitions. It set the trajectory for summer, and gave me a lot to look forward to! Don’t you just love it when your calendar is about to burst with great gatherings to celebrate friends and let some others rest in your abode? I sure do. The rest part is hard for me, but I have a feeling July will be so hot, no one will see my pasty ass anywhere near the sun, as I’ll be inside fanning myself.
______________________________________________________________________________

“Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know he’s at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.

Matthew 24:35 MSG

{Coming Soon: those DIY project photos I previously mentioned.}