Embracing Real Self-Care

Tea Break

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m grasping at the edge of a comfortable new existence. I’d probably be cradling a cup of chamomile tea, letting its calm warmth radiate through me. The past few months have been hard, more demanding than I could possibly have imagined. I suspect that no one who has experienced this kind of curriculum truthfully expresses how difficult it can be. Dwelling on the hardships would make the experience unbearable. As a way of shielding the uninitiated from undue mental anguish, this lie of omission might be effective. Unfortunately, it also downplays the importance of developing successful coping strategies. I mention “coping strategies” not to dwell on the negative, but simply to be realistic. It’s not always reasonable to aim for mastery in vet school. Coping with the curriculum and achieving proficiency—while striving to maintain mental fortitude and physical wellbeing—is essential, however. On an everyday basis, this means finding a way to make the best use of every hour and every ounce of strength at my disposal. And that necessitates embracing an idea that once made me cringe. Read more

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Porch Cocktails No. 4

Mixed Berry Collins
Mixed Berry Collins

All summer long, I stalk my local farmers market for the week’s freshest offerings. I initially recce the aisles, recalling recipes, pairing ingredients in my head, and determining how much produce one person can realistically consume in one week. Some salivating may occur, but I try to restrain myself, lest I look too much like a crazed, hungry predator stalking stationary prey.

When I see a quart of berries or a bushel of peaches, I think of all sorts of delicious baked goods, of course. I love the grandeur of beautifully constructed pies and tarts, and the satisfaction of turning out crisp, flaky pastry from a handful of simple ingredients. But, when temperatures and humidity soar, that pastry is sometimes difficult to achieve. That’s when I throw in the tea towel, and dream up ways to work those lovely, fresh fruits into a crisp, refreshing porch cocktail. Read more

Porch Cocktails No. 3

Mint Julep

A mint julep will always have a place in my summer cocktail rotation, from the first sip on Kentucky Derby Day to the last sip on a late summer evening on the porch. I shared a very large pitcher of them with some friends recently, and I was struck by their simplicity and versatility. The eight of us have diverse tastes, but we all agreed that there’s no better cocktail for a summer party. I don’t know why the mentholated chill of mint and the fiery warmth of bourbon complement each other so well, but they certainly do. A bourbon drink that’s refreshing enough for sticky summer days is as good as it gets. And one that doesn’t require a ton of fiddly measuring and mixing is perfection.

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Porch Cocktails: Homemade Tonic Syrup

G&T with Homemade Tonic

In my first porch cocktails post, I professed my love for a refreshing G&T. I also mentioned that I was in the midst of crafting some homemade tonic syrup in an effort to spruce up my go-to summer indulgence. Even with memories of this hilarious, disastrous saga in the back of my mind, I was itching to make my own tonic. I’m not one to be scared off by horror stories of DIY gone wrong. In fact, anecdotes like these have been known to encourage me. So, I found a recipe through David Lebovitz’ blog, and hunted down my ingredients, adapting the recipe to suit my needs.

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Porch Cocktails No. 2

Elderflower Cordial

Lest you fear that I’m indulging too often, I’m here to share the lovely non-alcoholic cocktail I’ve been enjoying at least as frequently as my go-to G&T. A dash of elderflower cordial in a tall glass of soda water is a great midday refresher. Concocting this delicious “mocktail” is as simple as drizzling some elderflower cordial over a glass of iced soda water, and stirring to distribute the cordial evenly. Each sip is sweet, zesty and floral–bursting with the bright, crisp flavors of summer–and finishes with a pleasantly yeasty aroma.

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