photo 4 happy tuesday!  what a fabulous few days here in the desert.  we got to enjoy some time at the oh-so-swanky hotel valley ho.  i was involved in a business function so during the down time, hubby and miss elinor visited and we got to lounge in the lobby.  p.s.  nothing makes you feel "i am so not cool enough for this" quite as much as hanging around the valley ho during the summer.  it is the scene for local hispters to be seen...wearing itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini wear OR flaunting biceps.  take your pick.  wow.  such a happening place!  such an old school cool vibe.  like rat pack in vegas cool. i felt like i should be snapping my fingers to some sinatra and sipping a martini.  of course, i was wearing a pencil skirt and doing work stuff on my computer in the lobby mod chair.  so...

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but take a look at my handsome man with our little girl!  sure, the stroller might have stuck out like a sore thumb next to all the cool kids but i think that our family is pretty darn cool.

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and elinor had so much fun being goofy with her grandpa.  plus, she totally coordinated with the deco wall and didn't even plan it.  it is pretty clear that our baby is much cooler than we can ever hope to be.

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after all that fun and busy-ness we headed back home to wind down and prepare for a new week.  this is kind of a ritual around these parts.  and usually involves some kind of home-cooked meal.  and during the summertime, i am all about simplicity.  since strawberries are just so darn scrumptious right now, i have been looking for any excuse to eat them.  so i grabbed a package of them during our trip to the market and decided to turn them into some glorious jam.  some tart and savory strawberry balsamic black pepper jam, to be exact.  we spread this glossy carmine goodness on some date and almond crackers, topped with some goat cheese and walnuts, and paired it with some red...and voila!  dinner is served.  there is something so sweet about summer suppers.  savoring light and simple dishes in the late afternoon.  nothing better, folks.

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for those who have asked about the jam, here is my "recipe"

chop up one package of organic strawberries and toss them into a saute pan with a few glugs of balsamic.  add a spoonful of raw, local honey  and some freshly cracked pepper.  let it bubble on medium heat until the balsamic reduces and the berries soften to form a thick mixture.  then, wazz it up to your desired consistency and refrigerate until you are ready to use {the jam will thicken as it cools}.  i wanted it tart and savory so i didn't add any extra sugar...but you could always omit the pepper and add more sweetness for a more traditional jam.  or add a bouquet garni of basil to the simmering mix toward the end to infuse the jam.  OR swap out the berries for figs and throw some rosemary in there.  yum.