Birchbox Man – October 2012

Just a quick post to share what Tadd received in his October Birchbox Man shipment!

This month’s theme seems to be a swanky drinking gentleman’s wishlist.  Tadd got a jigger and whisky stones, which REALLY delighted him (he immediately put the stones into the freezer and a few hours later poured himself a Jameson with them…he also let me hold them for a second when he took them out of the freezer and wow, were they cold!).  He also got some Art of Shaving pre-shave oil, Borghese cleansing creme (which can be used as a shaving cream), a sample of Oribe hair styling creme, and a tiny vial of Cartier’s Declaration fragrance (which he and I both really like).

He also got a $10 giftcard for Caskers.com, which is a craft spirits retail website.  Of course, everything on the website is around $40+ per bottle, but it’s still kind of cool.  We may use it to buy a really nice bottle of scotch to give as a Christmas gift.

The whisky stones were the clear favorite of this box.  They normally come in a set of 9, but as a sample, we got a set of 6, which I think was pretty generous.  They would make a great gift or stocking stuffer!

Check out Birchbox Man, and find out how to get your own subscription!  Getting random packages in the mail is fun!

In the interest of full disclosure: I haven’t been compensated by Birchbox for my opinions above.  However, if you sign up through the referral links listed above, I will get points to use on the Birchbox website after your first payment has been made. 

Advertisements

Peachy white sangria!

I am going to preface this post by saying that I really didn’t take any “glamor shots” of the finished product of this recipe because we loaded it into a cooler, dragged it to a local park for an early 4th of July fireworks celebration, and drank it out of red solo cups.  BUT, despite the lack of pretty pictures, please give this recipe a try, especially if you like peaches.  I think it was one of my best sangrias yet!

1.5L bottle pinot grigio

4 cups Ocean Spray White Cran-Peach juice

1/4 cup white brandy

1 or 2 sliced peaches

4 cups of Sprite

I think the most important detail about this recipe is that we started it the day prior to when we needed it.  It had a good 24 hours for the flavors to meld.  I firmly believe that this makes all the difference!

Slice the peaches and place into the pitcher or jug.  I estimated two, but one would have been fine.  My mother-in-law and I snacked on peach slices while we put the sangria together, so no harm no foul.

Pour the wine into the jug over the peaches, then add the juice and brandy.  Stir everything well and refrigerate several hours, or as I suggest, overnight!  Patience, people!  It’s so important when it comes to crafting fine sangria…

Just before serving, add the Sprite, and enjoy!  The flavor is slightly sweet, very peachy, and extremely refreshing on a hot summer day!

shabby creek cottage

Pink Sangria!

It is definitely sangria season!  I know I have mentioned in the past that I love making sangria.  I don’t really use a recipe, I just kind of mix up what tastes good, but I do have a basic and very versatile formula that I use to get me started.  It’s very easy to add and subtract and substitute ingredients based on my mood or the occasion.  Last summer I shared the basic recipe that I use for classic red sangria.

When attending a housewarming party for some friends of ours over Memorial Day weekend, I knew immediately that I would bring sangria and soon decided on making some pink sangria!  Here is what I used to make about a gallon of sangria for the party:

Pink Sangria

1.75mL bottle of white zin

1 orange (juiced)

4 cups tropical fruit juice (here I used strawberry kiwi juice, but you can use anything tropical…bonus if it’s already pink in color)

splash of white brandy

2+ cups of cranberry ginger ale (you could also use regular ginger ale or Sprite)

Pour the wine, fresh squeezed orange juice, tropical fruit juice, and brandy into a large pitcher.  Let sit a few hours or overnight.  Just before serving add the ginger ale (I ended up not measuring and just topping off the pitcher with it, but figure about 2 or 3 cups).  Serve over ice.

Enjoy!

P.S. I have another variation that I have done with equal parts white cranberry juice and pineapple juice instead of the strawberry-kiwi juice, and Sprite instead of ginger ale, and it also turned out awesome.  See?  Versatile!

Instagram Link Party: Don Draper’s Favorite, The Old Fashioned

So, who else enjoyed the premiere of Mad Men last night?  I won’t spoil anything for those who haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch yet, but I must say I loved it!  I wish every episode was 2 hours like the premiere.  I’m so glad my show is back!

To celebrate, we decided to make our own swanky Mad Men-inspired cocktails.  We chose Don Draper’s personal favorite, the Old Fashioned, made, of course, with his favorite Canadian Club whiskey (which incidentally made a brief cameo in last night’s episode during the birthday party scene!).

Don Draper’s “Old Fashioned” Cocktail

  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • small amt of club soda
  • a tsp of sugar
  • a few dashes of angostura bitters
  • 2.5 oz of Canadian Club whiskey

Muddle the orange slice, cherry, sugar, bitters, and club soda together to make a fruity paste.  Add the whiskey and serve over rocks.  Enjoy!

Linking up with the weekly Instagram link party over at a {little} dash of ash!

Countdown to Mad Men Season 5.

One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Mad Men, and I am SO excited about the Season 5 premiere this Sunday night on AMC!  If you are a fan like me, I’m sure you are just as excited.  We have been waiting patiently for new episodes for almost a year and a half!  So to say this Sunday’s premiere is highly anticipated is an understatement.

source

source

If you know me, you know I love history.  And something that I find so utterly fascinating about Mad Men is the attention to detail when it comes to historical accuracy.  Even subtle, little things that might fly over the majority of viewers’ heads (especially those of us who did not live through the 1960s), they take the time to get right.  For example, the premiere of Season 2 took place on Valentine’s Day, 1962.  The end of the episode concluded with everyone being glued to the TV, watching Jacqueline Kennedy give a tour of the White House.  Sure enough, this little detail really happened…On February 14, 1962, CBS did, in fact, broadcast a special of the First Lady inviting the nation to see all of the restoration work that had recently been completed.

source

And for me, it’s not only the historical accuracy that I love so much, but also the way it’s woven in and out of the story with such a natural flow.  You never feel like these details are inserted intentionally with a wink and a nod to the modern audience.  There’s nothing clunky about it; it’s just really good writing (and acting!).

source

And I would be remiss if I talked about Mad Men without mentioning style.  The clothes, hair, makeup, and set design are all drool-worthy.  It’s as if the whole show is one big piece of art.  While I’m not sure that the mid-century style fits MY personal style perfectly, there’s just something about it that is so aesthetically pleasing.  The sleek furniture, rich colors, classic suits, and tailored dresses just ooze with class.  Again, it’s the little touches I love, like Betty’s tufted headboard (above), and Joan’s signature gold pen necklace (below)!

source

source

Did you know that Banana Republic has its own limited edition Mad Men-inspired line of clothing?  Some beautiful stuff too…

pinterest

pinterest

pinterest

pinterest

pinterest

pinterest

pinterest

So we are getting ready in this household for our own little two-person season premiere party on Sunday night.  I broke out the Mad Men cookbook that my brother gave me for Christmas, and will be making a few items from it, including Don Draper’s favorite cocktail, the Old Fashioned (made, of course, with Canadian Club).  I had thought about making classic martinis (a la Roger Sterling), but Tadd is just not a martini kind of guy.  And he hates olives!  And to make a classic martini, you MUST have olives.

Only 48 hours to go!  Who else will be watching the season premiere with us?  Are you doing or making anything special for the occasion?

Macadamia Coconut Cookie Bars & Holiday Punch!

As a rule, I generally only make 1 drink and 1 food item per party and buy everything else store-bought.  It’s just too much (for me anyways) to make everything from scratch in addition to all the other preparation and work that goes into party planning.  And usually whatever I do make is very simple.  I haven’t heard any complaints, so it works for me.

Last night was our 9th annual Christmas Party at our house, and I decided to make Rachael Ray’s Macadamia Coconut Cookie Bars and a Holiday Punch recipe I found last year on AllRecipes.com.

Macadamia Coconut Cookie Bars

To start, you need the following:

  • 1 pkg dry sugar cookie mix
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup halved macadamia nuts
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

To start, prepare the cookie dough per the package directions.  Mine said to simply mix it with the butter and egg until it formed a dough.

Then add the nuts, coconut, and white chocolate chips.

Mix it up (not an easy task, as it is VERY chunky), and press it into a thin, even layer on a buttered rectangular baking dish.

Bake it at 375F for 15-17 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to get golden brown.

And then, because I can never leave well enough alone, and because it IS Christmas, I added a light dusting of red & green sugar.  You can skip this step.

Let it cool slightly, then cut into squares and serve!

 

Holiday Punch

I doubled the original recipe to make one large punch bowl’s worth.  It was completely empty by the end of the  night!

 

  • 2 bottles of red wine (recipe calls for burgundy, but I used pinot noir)
  • 2 cups sugar (I used a bit less)
  • 4 bottles of champagne
  • 2 cups of brandy
  • 2 quarts club soda

Simply dissolve the sugar in the wine, then add everything else just before serving.  Viola!

Weekend Update

Friday night we got some Publix subs and a bottle of white zin on the way home from work, then relaxed per usual and watched a couple of interesting documentaries on lovely Netflix.  I love documentaries and I love Netflix.  What a great intersection of entertainment!

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to meet a friend to go on our blueberry picking adventure, which you can read all about at the link if you haven’t already.  We had such a great time!

On the way home, we spotted the Citrus Tower, which is one of those old-school Florida attractions that pre-dated Disney World.  Neither of us had ever been to the Citrus Tower before, so we decided to stop and check it out.  We entered through a very charming little gift shop (of course!) and paid a nice woman $4 to go up in the elevator to the top of the 22 story tower.  Would it shock you if I told you we were the only ones there?  Kind of sad, really.  But when you get to the top, you can see why.  The tower was built in the 1950s, when the area was literally blanketed with citrus groves.  Now, you can see some pretty lakes (Lake Apopka, Lake Minneola, and Lake Minnehaha) from the tower, and lots of subdivisions, highways, and strip malls, but not quite so many citrus groves.  It was still a fun little diversion, and I like that we were supporting an important landmark from the history of our area.

Here’s a video I found about the Citrus Tower’s history and significance in mid-century Central Florida:

Anyways, after our blueberry picking and Citrus Tower adventures, we headed back to Orlando, picked up a quick lunch and then I headed home to shower and clean up for the evening.  When I got home, Tadd informed me that he could not bear to give all three kittens to the shelter as we had intended, so he made the decision to keep one.  I was a bit taken aback, because I wasn’t expecting to take on a newborn kitten with everything else we have going on right now, but I relented in the end.  So thanks to this little guy, we are now a 3 cat household.  His name is Jacoby, and he is growing on me very very quickly.  Look at that face…how could I not wuv him?

Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka

Saturday night, we drove out to a friend’s house in Deltona to celebrate a birthday.  The big hit of the evening were cocktails made with Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka.  Have any of you tried this stuff yet?  We mixed it with rootbeer for a rootbeer-float-tini and with Orange Crush for a creamsicle-tini.  Good stuff!  I have had it once before at a restaurant/bar, but it seemed to taste extra good while sitting on a patio outside surrounded by tiki torches and good friends.  Although I must admit, that patio got quite humid after awhile and we retreated into the air conditioning before the end of the evening.  I cannot wait for the Florida Summer to be over!  Counting the days!

Sunday Tadd helped a friend who had been having car issues.  We had planned to get some of the powder room done that day, but the garage was occupied with the car-fixing stuff, and it took much, much longer than expected, so we never got to it.  I am starting to think that this powder room project might never end!  Tadd promises we will finish it by the end of July, so we’ll see.  I spent the day doing a little cleaning and organizing.  I put the 4th of July decor away and redecorated our entry table to have more of a non-holiday-specific summertime look (which I may show you later!), and did some various other things around the house.  By the time our friend left with his car, it was around 8pm, so we just relaxed for the rest of the evening until bedtime.

Another weekend, come and gone.  Looking forward to next weekend though!  It’s going to be a big one!  More on that later…

Yelp! Fire & Ice Gala

Tadd and I attended an event after work last night hosted by Yelp! Orlando; the Yelp Fire & Ice Gala, which was held at the oddly-located Heaven Event Center which is an office-building-ish structure in the middle of the super-industrial portion of Sand Lake Rd.  It’s a really strange spot for event space (they hold weddings, corporate functions, etc at this place)…not to mention, it’s super strange to enter an industrial office park to find one of the buildings with a giant sign that simply says “HEAVEN” on it.

I never thought "Heaven" would look like an office building!

Once inside, after receiving our credentials, we scanned the scene.  They had a DJ playing some very loud music, which made it hard for me to really think about what I wanted to see/do first.

So my brain went where it normally goes after a normal business day…”Let’s get a drink.”  So we headed over to the martini bar hosted by Cocktails Catering.  I got a (VERY delicious!) lemon drop martini and Tadd got a blue razz martini.  We headed over to one of the many lounge areas in the corners of the event space and took a seat to enjoy our cocktails.  A magician approached us and did a few cool magic tricks for us, which was fun.  Tadd kept trying to dissect what he did and how he did it after the magician left, because his IT analytical brain is always trying to “solve” problems instead of just enjoying the magic for what it is!  I still love him though…

After that, we decided to peruse the various booths and see what other free stuff we could get!  We located the Sprinkles booth, which was the highlight of our evening.  They have these glorious inventions called Cake Shooters.  They are basically a delicious layer cake, shoved into one of those push-pop contraptions that you used to get from the ice cream man.  You push up the cake as you eat it.  This craze is apparently gaining steam, as even quasi-celebrity Tori Spelling had a batch custom made and shipped from Orlando to L.A. for her daughter’s 2nd birthday party.

This is what I loved about this event:  you just walked up to the display table, and grabbed whichever flavors you wanted for free!  They had a ton of flavors to choose from too.  We restrained ourselves and only chose one each.  Tadd got peanut butter chocolate, and I got pina colada. All I can say is HOLY YUM!

After that, Tadd wanted a beer, so we went over to the Orlando Brewing booth.  We had visited the taproom at Orlando Brewing a couple years ago for the Pints For Paws event put on by Pet Rescue By Judy and had a lovely time, and really enjoyed their beers.  Just a few weeks ago we shared a beer flight of Orlando Brewing beers at The Wave in the Contemporary Resort at Disney.  We are big fans.

Tadd, perusing the calendar of Orlando Brewing events for the month of July.

We knew Sweet by Good Golly Miss Holly was going to be at this event, so we set off to find us some more desserty goodness.  I have heard mixed reviews about these cupcakes and I have to say that after the delicious cake shooters, these cupcakes didn’t stand much of a chance.  But since this bakery is very close to where Tadd and I live, we wanted to give them a try.  And I must say the little cupcakes they gave us were really cute!

Sweet by Good Golly Miss Holly's Red Velvet Cupcake

Maybe we were sweet-fooded out by the time we got to these, but they were just okay.  Not bad at all, but we liked the cake shooters so much better.

After wandering around for a bit, we decided to grab some soft drinks and head home before it got too crowded.  There were starting to be long lines for every booth at that point, so we stopped by the HonesTea booth and picked up some lovely pomegranate blue beverages on our way out the door.  We really liked them.  They are organic and not too sweet.

HonesTea Honest Ade Pomegranate Blue drink

All in all, I would say we had a great time at this event.  The price was right (FREE!), and we got to try a bunch of neat stuff!  I would definitely attend another Yelp-sponsored event in the future.