Archive for the ‘Jenny’ Category

Booze Infusions: How To & Recipes

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that a few weeks ago Rachael and I visited the home of my friends Chris and Adele to learn how to infuse booze. Booze infusion is a pretty simple concept – you take alcohol, add ingredients to flavor it, and let it sit until you like the taste.

Since Rachael and I were new to infusions, the first recipes Chris taught us are simple. In fact, you are going to be shocked how simple these are and may be inspired to start today!

Here are some basic steps for doing most infusions:

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Step 1: Buy the supplies. You will need mason jars, the alcohol of your choice, and the ingredients that will flavor your drink.

TIP: If you are using fruit, buy organic. The alcohol is going to absorb all of the flavors, good and bad. Be sure you are using good quality produce grown without pesticides (the perfect excuse to hit up your local farmer’s market) and don’t forget to wash it when you get home.

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Step 2: Sterilize the jars. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully place your jars and lids into the boiling water for a couple of minutes. Using tongs, remove the jars and lids, and carefully dry off with a clean towel.

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Step 3: Place the ingredients that will flavor your drink into the jar.

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Step 4: Pour the alcohol of choice into the jar until the jar is full. When buying your alcohol, buy what you like to drink, not necessarily what’s on sale. Although the ingredients will give the liquor some flavor, a bad vodka will still taste like a bad vodka, no matter what you put in it.

TIP: For our tutorial, Chris recommended Svedka Vodka (as it is both good quality and not crazy expensive) and Makers Mark Whiskey or better. That will give you a sense of the price/quality level you should look for when making your purchase.

Step 5: Secure the lid on your mason jar, shake the jar, and play the waiting game. There is no set amount of time that works for all infusions. This is where it becomes more of an experiment. Each week, take a small taste and see if you like the flavor. Infusions that are too “young” will often have a bite to them, so giving them more time will help to mellow out the flavors.

TIP: Use a sharpie or a label maker to put the date you created your drink on the jar. This will help you to determine how many weeks it has been infusing.

Step 6. Tweak where needed, and be patient. Don’t be afraid to add something if you need to after your first taste. Even with the harsh edge, you will be able to tell if the end result is going to have a good flavor. Also, good things come to those who wait. Some of the infusions at Chris and Adele’s home had been sitting for a year or more, so don’t give up – what your drink may need is simply more time.

The great thing about infusions, as you can tell, is that the possibilities are endless. Like art, you must start by selecting your medium (alcohol) and what you will add. I found a great site that lays out some tips on choosing both elements here.

If you are like me though, you just clicked on that site, got intimidated, and almost closed this post. Wait! Don’t leave! I’ve got you covered. Check out three very quick and simple starter recipes below:

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Raspberry Infused Vodka

Ingredients: 1 pint organic raspberries, vodka, everclear and simple syrup (when serving)
Time it will need to sit: 3-6 weeks, depending on how often you change out the berries
Instructions: Add raspberries to a sterilized jar and fill with ½ vodka and ½ everclear. Seal and date your jar and let sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Shake the jar every once in a while when you think about it. Strain out the raspberries (they will have turned white, or as I called them “zombie raspberries”), and reserve the liquid. Add a fresh pint, pour the liquid over the raspberries, seal and let sit in your fridge for another 1-2 weeks. You will repeat the raspberry replacement step once more. Once they are fully infused, use a coffee filter or unbleached paper towel to strain the final alcohol into a bowl. You will want to strain the liquid three times. You can store this in a bottle or mason jar, and when you serve it, just add simple syrup to taste.

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Ginger Infused Vodka

Ingredients: Candied ginger (handful) and vodka
Time it will need to sit: 1 week
Instructions: Add ginger to a sterilized jar and fill with vodka. Seal and date your jar. You can store the ginger vodka on a shelf, and shake it occasionally. This drink should be ready in about a week, but taste it and let it sit longer if you need it to. This one does a cool magic trick in that a day after you put the candied ginger into the liquid, it expands and looks like slices of fresh ginger. If your ginger stays intact, you won’t need to strain this one. If you notice that it disintegrates, strain through a coffee filter or unbleached paper towel until the liquid is clear (2-3 times).

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Cin-Van-Sky (Cinnamon/Vanilla/Star Anise Infused Whiskey)

Ingredients: Cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, 2-3 star anise pods, whiskey/bourbon and brandy
Time it will need to sit: 4-6 weeks
Instructions: Split the vanilla bean and add it, the cinnamon stick and the star anise pods to a sterilized jar and fill with whiskey/bourbon and top with a shot of brandy. Seal and date your jar. Store the jar on a shelf, shake occasionally, and test 4-6 weeks after you infused it.

Last year for Christmas, I gave away homemade vanilla extract as gifts to my friends. From my friend Adele (who hosted our infusion lessons), I received a bottle of her limoncello. Homemade gifts are fantastic to give and receive, no matter what time of year it is. So, pin this post, and come back to it the next time you need to make a bulk gift, but want to do something unique.

The possibilities with this are endless, so be bold, be creative, and run to your local liquor store right now to get started.

Cheers!

Come for the drinks, stay for the life lesson.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

A few weeks ago, Rachael and I were fortunate to be invited to the home of my friends Adele and Chris for a lesson on creating booze infusions. My plan was to write a single post, with recipes and tips on the process. Once we arrived, and started taste testing, I realized there was so much more to share, as the experience itself was a great reminder that sometimes it’s good to slow down. So, today I will tell you about our experience, and in a follow-up post, I will provide you with the recipes we made and some basic tips on infusion so you can create an experience like this for yourself and your friends.

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Adele, Chris and their daughter are the kind of people you cannot believe you have the privilege to know. They are all incredibly creative, thoughtful and gracious people. They share my passion for food, and we have had a lot of fun over the years trying out new restaurants in Phoenix, or experimenting with cooking (like the time a group of us went to Adele’s house to make ricotta and goat cheese).

Over the past few years Chris has experimented with infusing different flavors into alcohol to create flavored liqueurs. Booze infusion is simple in nature – you soak a variety of ingredients in the liquor of your choice, and then let it sit until you like the taste. One of the most basic infusions that a lot of people are familiar with is limoncello — lemon zest soaked in vodka for a few weeks and then mixed equal parts with simple syrup.

Before we got started our lesson, we viewed Chris’ entire collection of infusions – contained in dozens of bottles and mason jars covering an entire wall in their pantry. Chris jokes that he is sort of a “mad scientist” when it comes to trying out new combinations but he’s an artist, too. He takes risks, imagines outcomes and tries new things just to see what happens.

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We grabbed a dozen bottles of varying flavors and sat down at their kitchen table to sample Chris’ creations. Some of our favorites were limoncello, vin-de-orange (red wine, rum, bitter & sweet oranges, grapefruit and spices – a combo Rachel described as tasting like “a library, tobacco and Christmas.”), chai liquor, and tequila that was infused with lime and salt (a margarita in a shot).

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As we sipped, Chris explained that many medicines actually started out as infusions. Some of the first forms of aspirin were actually the bark of a willow tree infused in alcohol. Another early infusion purpose was preserving fruit. People would combine fruit, sugar and alcohol in order to keep fruit fresh throughout the year.

We asked Chris how they normally drank the infusions – did they have them as after dinner drinks? Did they enjoy them with friends as we were doing that very day? Or did they use them in recipes?

Chris explained that his favorite thing to do was what we got to experience – having a group of friends around a table, and sampling a variety of his creations. “These infusions take such time to make,” Chris explained “But they arrest the moment. What I mean by that is that it helps to stop time. By taking time to enjoy these, you will remember this moment. You will remember the laughter and conversation that you had because we all sat down at a table together and enjoyed the experience, and each other.”

We went there to learn how to make delicious infusions, and as often happens when I get together with Adele and Chris, I came away with a life lesson. We live in a society where speed is king – we have fast food, overnight shipping, movies on demand – and because of this, we often forget to slow down and enjoy life.

I challenge all of you to have an “arresting moment” experience. Get together with friends for dinner at home, make something beautiful for the people you care about, turn off the technology, and enjoy time with the people you love.

Don’t forget to check out my follow-up post on basic tips for booze infusion, as well as the recipes for our three creations – Ginger Vodka, Raspberry Vodka and Cin-Van-Sky (a cinnamon/vanilla/star anise infused whiskey).

Cheers!

I Pinned It, I Did It: Guinness, Whiskey & Irish Cream Cupcakes

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

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At my company, there is a girl named Heidi, who makes the most anticipated food item of our entire year – the sausage roll. Every year, we all await the glorious day in December when we receive an e-mail announcing that the sausage-filled pastry has arrived, then we run as fast as we can to the art table to get a slice of our very own. It’s an incredibly fun tradition, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I decided that I wanted to start a tradition of my own – something that I could bake and bring in each year as a thank you to my amazing co-workers. Two years ago, I found a recipe combining two of our favorite things – cake and booze – and my first ever “I Pinned It, I Did It” began with these Guinness, Whiskey & Irish Cream Cupcakes from the Brown Eyed Baker.

This recipe is based on the drink with the not-so-PC name, the Irish Car Bomb. An Irish Car Bomb is a cocktail where whiskey is floated on top of Irish Cream in a shot glass, and the shot glass is then dropped into a pub glass of Guinness. For the cupcake, you start with a Guinness and chocolate cake, fill it with whiskey and chocolate ganache, and then top the whole boozy concoction with an Irish Cream buttercream.

This recipe is incredibly simple, but just requires a bit of extra time to put all the elements together. And the end result is amazing – the cake is moist and the overall booze content is not overpowering.

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The three spirits you will need to have on hand are Guinness (and note that the only thing I could find in a six-pack was the Extra Stout – any type of Guinness works great in this recipe, so don’t worry if you don’t have the original), Baileys and the Irish whiskey of your choice (I prefer Jameson). Since Baileys and whiskey are good staple items to have in your bar anyway, this recipe becomes a winner yet again, because you don’t have to buy some obscure liquor that you may not ever use again.

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I only have a few tips on this recipe.

If you don’t have a cookie cutter or piping tip to carve out the cupcakes, I find a small spoon works just fine. Same with the ganache. If you don’t feel like dealing with the mess that can come from piping it, just use a teaspoon to drop it into the cupcake divot.

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For the ganache, she calls for cutting up chocolate, but I say why not use chocolate chips? It saves you the hassle of having to chop up a chocolate bar. Both times I have made these, I have used chips, and they work great.

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For the icing, you can either use a knife to smoothly apply it, or you can pipe it. One of the greatest tricks I have learned to make filling the bag easier is to stand up the bag with the tip on the bottom of a glass. This keeps the bag standing, and makes it easier to spoon dollops of icing into it with a spatula. As a side-note, if you don’t have piping bags, a freezer bag with the corner cut off works brilliantly.

I prefer to use St. Patrick’s Day cupcake holders, or plain white cups for this, and I top them with simple green sugar that you can find in the baking aisle of most grocery stores.

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The cupcakes were a huge hit when I took them in two years ago, and I already have co-workers claiming dibs on them this year. Have a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day, and enjoy!

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Organize It: Medicine Cabinet Must-Haves

Monday, February 24th, 2014

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I have been extremely klutzy in the kitchen lately. Bryan hears me exclaim at least once a week “B! It happened again! Get Band-Aids!” Last week I made a doozy of a cut in my index finger, and made a mad dash for the medicine cabinet for a Band-Aid. What I found was a messy jumble of bottles and boxes (some empty and expired) and no Band-Aids. I am guessing I am not alone in this state of medicine cabinet disarray.

I decided to revamp my medicine cabinet, get rid of the emptied and expired meds, inventory what was left, and replenish what was missing. But what should a medicine cabinet have on a basic level?

Below is your very own list of must-have medicine cabinet items:

* Aspirin/Ibuprofen
* Decongestant
* Cough Medicine (Get both a suppressant and an expectorant.)
* Digestive Medicine (i.e. Tums, Maalox, Prilosec)
* Calamine Lotion or Antihistamine Cream
* Box of Assorted Band-Aids
* Medical Tape
* Hydrogen Peroxide or Antibiotic Ointment
* Thermometer
* Magnifying Glass and Tweezers
* Dental Painkiller (i.e. Anbesol or Orajel)

You can supplement the above items with things that are specific to you and your family. Have allergies? Add your favorite over-the-counter allergy med to the list. Have glasses? Get a glasses repair kit.

If you are like me and don’t have a traditional “medicine cabinet,” buy some of the small bins that they carry at Target, organize your boxes and bottles in them, and then put them in a cabinet or drawer.

Make sure you are reviewing your expire dates at least twice a year (make it part of your routine cleaning plan) and purging and replacing anything that is expired. If you find you run out of something, add it to your grocery list when you notice it. I have a running list that I keep in a drawer in the kitchen so that I can add things I run out of as I notice them.

Now all I need is a cooking class on knife skills.

My Mother’s Daughter

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

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Earlier this year, I wrote a post giving props to my pops for all the traits I had learned from him that I am proud of. This month, it’s my mom’s turn to get some kudos for teaching me some very valuable life lessons.

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My mom grew up in the same small town that my dad did in Southern Ohio. She was a cheerleader in high school (and even got to ride a float in their local parade!), and as a stay-at-home mom (which is a job I very much admire) she stayed very involved, often in leadership roles, throughout my schooling. She did everything from being President of the PTA to working in the school library at my elementary school. In her spare time, she was an avid bowler, and was always in a league no matter where we lived. So, to say she kept a pretty active schedule is an understatement, but in the center of anything she did, was me.

My dad is very logical and analytical, my mom is very empathetic and bubbly, so I feel really lucky that I benefited from absorbing both personality types.

Here are some of the lessons that I learned from my mom:

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Be selfless.
When I was in high school, my grandpa (my mom’s father), was diagnosed with lung cancer. My mom moved him from his home in Southern Ohio to our home in Chicago to ensure that he got the best medical care that he could. He lived in our guest room for months while going through treatment. During that time, she gave up her life, and dealt with a husband and daughter who were a little stressed by the whole situation of having him there, to make sure her dad was taken care of. That is the most extreme example I can give of her selfless nature, but because of it, I tend to think of others before myself, and to try to anticipate how my actions might affect someone or a situation. I know that this trait has made me a superstar in any customer service role I have ever had.

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Celebrate! (and never forget to send a card!)
My mom loves to celebrate any event she can. She never forgets a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or other life event in the life of anyone she knows. And she never forgets to send a card. I used to think that was kind of frivolous and a waste of paper to send a card for any life event, but now that I am getting older, I realize that she is making sure that everyone she knows feels special and remembered. And who doesn’t love going to the mailbox to find an actual hand-addressed envelope just for them?

I have to tell you a side-story to this that is only relevant because it involves the word “Celebration.” More specifically the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang. When I was growing up, they had a Wendy’s campaign for their chicken nuggets and they used that song in the commercial (in fact they rewrote the song so that it was about the nuggets). After dozens of plays, I grew to hate that song with a fiery passion. When Bryan and I first started dating, they realized that I hated that song, and would torture me by singing/playing it. So “Celebrate” is also a way that mom and husband bonded.

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Stay young at heart.
My mom and I have gone to Disney World and Disneyland so many times together, that I have lost count. In some ways, I joke that I “act old,” but most of my interests have stayed constant over my life. I love cartoons and pop music and bright colors. And I am not embarrassed by it. My mom always supported whatever interest I had, and never told me that “I was too old” for something. Because of that, I am comfortable with who I am and my interests. Also, I think that acting young keeps you young. I wish I was more like my mom in this regard. She still will sing loudly to a song while driving in the car, or break out in a little dance if we hear a song that she loves. I have never been quite that carefree, and am a little jealous.

Expand your horizons.
When I was ten, my mom took me to my first ballet – The Nutcracker. After seeing my first real live show (I am not going to count Sesame Street LIVE!), I was hooked. In the years following we went to every musical and ballet we could get tickets to. When I was in middle school, she and my dad let me go to Spain with my Spanish class, where we visited The Prado and saw them make damascene jewelry in Toledo. I am not good at remembering a lot of my childhood, but anything related to art is still so vivid in my memory. She never mocked what we saw, or viewed art as frivolous or weird. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience everything that I have, and now tend to find myself staring in awe the guy who shows up to an art show with a glitter mask, mint green suit, and white bowler hat topped with a gold glitter alligator head. Life is too short to be boring.

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I don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture where it seems like I had the perfect life and my relationship with my parents has always been flawless. That just isn’t true. We have our ups and downs, our disagreements and arguments, but in the end, I love them. They made me who I am both by making sure I was safe and taken care of, and also by exhibiting what I think are some pretty kick-ass personality traits.

Once again I challenge you, when you lament exhibiting a trait that is “just like something mom/dad would do” to find something to celebrate instead.

Women Who Rock: Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day!

Friday, February 14th, 2014

I love tv. And I love it even more when I can learn something through my favorite show. “30 Rock” had a Valentine’s Day episode entitled “Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day!” in which the lead character, Liz Lemon, bitterly scoffs at Valentine’s Day and instead chooses to honor the birthday of Anna Howard Shaw.

I had no idea who Anna Howard Shaw was before this episode, and after doing some Googling to learn more about her, I found that she was really an amazing woman. The Wilderness Girls have decided that in honor of her birthday, Anna Howard Shaw is the recipient of this month’s “Women Who Rock” feature.

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Name: Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919)

Why She Rocks: She is the embodiment of a self-made woman. Her father abandoned her with her mother and five siblings, so at the age of twelve, she had to support her struggling family. Passionate about education and the church, she was inspired by Reverend Marianna Thompson to attend high school, and after becoming active in the Methodist Church, she was licensed to preach at the age of 24. In addition to ministering at two churches, she earned a medical degree from Boston University, but set aside her medical career to fight for women’s suffrage and world peace.

Famous Quote: “Nothing bigger can come to a human being than to love a great cause more than life itself.”

Additional Information: Learn more about Anna Howard Shaw at the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

We are going to continue to feature other “women who rock” each month, bringing focus to a woman who we admire, be it a historical figure or someone in our own lives. Do you have someone you would like to see featured on our site? Leave a note in the comments section below.

I Pinned It, I Did It: Red Velvet Birthday Cake

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

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February is the month that two of my “moms” were born – my actual mom and my mother-in-law. My mom lives in Ohio, so we have to celebrate via a phone call and exchanging cards, but my mother-in-law Anne, lives nearby, so this past weekend we headed over to her house for dinner and cake. A cake I was tasked with making. So, I did what I always do – hopped on Pinterest and started searching for ideas.

Anne had no preference to the type of cake she wanted, so I turned to my first love, red velvet. Red velvet is to my rest of the year the way pumpkin is to my fall — I am obsessed. I didn’t have to go far in my search, as I pinned a Valentine’s red velvet cake about a year ago. I decided to step up and finally make it.

The recipe was easy to follow, and I give major kudos to Heather at Sprinkle Bakes for her detail in the instructions. My bigger fear was that the cakes would stick to the pan.

I tried to make a four-layer chocolate cake for my father-in-law last year, and it was a disaster. The cakes stuck, and I may have had a toddler-strength fit about it. I was bound and determined to master the “butter and flour” technique of greasing the pan this time. I took a stick of butter and very liberally rubbed it over the bottom and sides of each pan. I then looked up the best way to flour the pan, and it was very simple. I put about a tablespoon of flour on the bottom of each pan, and then shook and tapped the bottom of the pan until the flour was covering the entire surface. This technique was a huge success. The cakes came out perfectly when I put them on the cooling rack.

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I only have a few tips for this recipe. First, if you are using gel “icing color” (I got it at Michael’s), you will need to use more than the 1 1/2 Tablespoons she recommends to get the color that you want. Also, the batter will look more pink than red, but when it bakes, it darkens, so don’t worry about getting the batter itself the shade of red you are going for. Finally, the icing recipe makes an ample amount to layer and cover your cake. I was very stingy with the icing between the layers, fearing that I would run out when I had to ice the outside, but I had plenty left, so I could have used a bit more inside.

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The end result was gorgeous. The red was a nice bright shade, and it tasted great. My sister-in-law even commented that it was one of the best cakes she had ever tasted. There is nothing more satisfying than making something from scratch, and having everyone comment on how much they love your creation, and then go back for seconds (and thirds).

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Most of all, I wanted it to be a success because I love my mother-in-law. I am really lucky in that regard. From the start of my relationship with Bryan, she has been kind, supportive and wonderful to me. My favorite times with her are when I get to hang out with her one-on-one and hear stories about her life. She grew up in the Midwest, went to the same college my dad did (majoring in art), and even moonlighted as a go-go dancer at one point. She’s a cool lady, and brilliant artist. We have several of her paintings hanging in our home, and we get lots of compliments on them. I also adore her for raising Bryan to be fantastic husband – artistic, sensitive, and not afraid to pitch in and help around the home.

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Happy Birthday to Anne, and cheers to another successful Pinterest baking adventure!

Hard Fireball Razzyade

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

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This month, I am taking the whiskey baton from Christina, who created a fabulous Ginger Whiskey Cocktail last month, and spicing things up a bit by turning to a newly popular whiskey for inspiration — Fireball Whiskey.

Fireball Whiskey is a strong cinnamon-flavored whiskey; it’s delicious and perfect for people (like my husband Bryan) who are not whiskey fans. Although most people I know drink it as a shot, there are a lot of great cocktail recipes that feature this fiery whiskey.

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I was hoping to find a recipe that provided some surprise factor. I love it when I try something, or have someone try something, and you get to play the “Guess what’s in it?” game. Wait. Let me clarify that. I love playing that game when the answer isn’t something I wouldn’t want to be eating – like Rocky Mountain Oysters.

When I first read the recipe below, I was highly skeptical that cinnamon and lemonade would pair well, but this recipe definitely delivered. In fact, after taking one sip, Bryan informed me that he was taking mine and that I could make another one for myself.

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Hard Fireball Razzyade (Recipe by This Girl Walks Into a Bar)
* 2 ounces Fireball Whiskey
* 3-4 ounces raspberry lemonade (you can add more or less depending on your taste)
* lemon wedge, squeezed
* lemon slice and/or raspberries for garnish

Fill a glass with ice (I recommend using a lowball glass), then pour the whiskey and lemonade in the glass and squeeze the lemon wedge over the drink. Stir lightly with a spoon and garnish with a lemon wedge or a few raspberries on a toothpick.

To up the ante on the red, and keep the drink from diluting, you could also use frozen raspberries in lieu of ice.

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Go get some Fireball Whiskey and brew up this love potion for your own Valentine!

T-Shirt Mania!

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

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There is nothing more classic or comfy than a t-shirt and jeans. I am lucky enough to work at a company that has a year-round casual dress code, so my t-shirt collection has grown exponentially over the years. I feel that t-shirts, like bumper stickers, tell you a lot about a person – what their interests are, causes they believe in, their sense of humor, etc.

I am asked a lot where I get my t-shirts. Most of the time, I get them at one of the stores or online shopping sites listed below. They all have a great variety, good customer service, and a consistently good selection of shirts that cover pop culture stuff that I like.

Busted Tees

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http://www.bustedtees.com
What I like: They have a great selection of funny shirts, and usually have some kind of sale.
What’s not so great: If you don’t buy during a sale, the prices are a bit high for my taste. Also, they use a variety of manufacturers for their shirts, so the sizing is not consistent. Check the size chart on each item (and the snazzy photo feature they have showing each shirt on several body types) before you buy.

Disneyland

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http://www.disneystore.com/disney-parks-product/mn/1001081/
What I like: Usually the best part is that I am in Disneyland. If you aren’t able to jet off to the parks though, you can buy a lot of the same merchandise available on their website. The quality is good and they often have vintage-style designs, which I love.
What’s not so great: Like Busted Tees, Disney is a bit pricey in the t-shirt department. They also have inconsistent sizing, so make sure to check the size chart before you buy.

Hot Topic

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http://www.hottopic.com/hottopic/Tees.jsp
What I like: This is one of the few brick and mortar places I buy t-shirts on a regular basis, and so being able to actually try the shirt on before I buy it is great. They have one of the better selections of pop-culture shirts, usually from the 80s, so I can get my nostalgia fix.
What’s not so great: Their “women’s” sizes are for no woman I have ever known. In most stores, I can wear a M or L size, but at Hot Topic, I am usually buying an XL or XXL. I don’t shop here as much as I used to for this very reason, but I still get a shirt here and there from them, so they are still on my list of go-to stores…for now.

Old Navy

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http://www.oldnavy.com
What I like: Like Hot Topic, I love that I can actually go to the store and try on my t-shirt before I buy it. They sizes are good, the shirts last well and don’t shrink up, and I can also get jeans while I am there. The shirts here usually revolve around superheroes, Star Wars, and cereal/food, so it’s the Jenny trifecta.
What’s not so great: The selection is small. At any given time, they usually have fewer than ten designs, so you have to check back seasonally to see what’s new. Also, not all of the styles are offered on the website, so if you can’t find your size in-store, the web is usually not a reliable back-up option.

TeeFury

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http://www.teefury.com
What I like: This is hands-down my favorite of all the t-shirt store options, and the majority of my collection is from this site. Each shirt is designed by a different artist, and they have very obscure designs like the worm from Labyrinth that says “allo” designed in the style of Hello Kitty, Ron Swanson saying “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have” in the style of Dr. Seuss and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in the style of a record album cover. The list is endless. They are good quality shirts with consistent sizing (they print all of them through the same manufacturer), you can pick the color you want to have the design on, and they are only $11.
What’s not so great: There are only two things that I would say are “issues.” The first, and it’s also one of the cool things about the site, is that each shirt is only available for 24 hours. If you miss it, it’s usually gone. (UPDATE: TeeFury added a newer feature where you can purchase a selection of previously sold designs, at a higher price, in its Gallery page – score!) The only other challenge is that, although they have consistent sizing, you have to take a chance the first time you order and hope you used the sizing chart correctly. I found it to be accurate, and was correct in sizing with my first order.

My t-shirt collection embodies my varying taste in pop culture – it’s dominated by Star Wars, as well as a lot of sci-fi and cult shows (Firefly/Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), and things I loved as a kid. They are bright, colorful, and fun, which is how I like to think of myself.

What are some of your favorite t-shirts and what do they say about you? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below – I would love to hear from you!

Thank You for Being a Friend, Etsy!

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Bryan likes to joke that I act old for my age. He sees the glimmer in my eye when I see an ad for Viking Cruises, that bathtub with the door, or even the cane that stands on its own. I think I have always been a bit of an old soul. So, it is no surprise that The Golden Girls was one of my favorite shows growing up.

Who am I kidding? It’s still one of my favorite shows (and I may have a couple of seasons on DVD). I love Sophia’s crazy stores that always start with “Picture it..”, Rose’s sweet nature and St. Olaf stories, Dorothy’s quick wit, and Blanche’s Southern charm and obsession with youth.

I was surfing the net one afternoon and stumbled upon an article on People’s website called “15 Awesome Golden Girls Items You Didn’t Know You Needed,” and got extremely excited about the world of product on etsy that I didn’t know about.

I don’t know why I always forget about shopping etsy when I am looking for something unique (ether a gift or something for myself). Inspired, I decided to do my own search and share my favorite etsy Golden Girls items.

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1. The Golden Girls Spray Paint Tote Bag
2. I’m a Dorothy/Rose/Blanche/Sophia Print
3. Golden Girls Cupcake Toppers
4. The Golden Girls Brick People Toy Set
5. Golden Girls House Scale Model
6. Golden Girls Greeting Card (with cheesecake)
7. Golden Girls Magnets
8. Blanche’s Bedroom Fabric
9. Dorothy & Rose & Blance & Sophia T-Shirt

The great thing about etsy is not only that you can find unique products on even the most obscure pop culture, but that you are supporting small shop owners.

So, the next time you need a great gift, don’t forget about etsy. If you need a good starting point, check out Christina’s BFF Gift Guide.