It’s the time of the year again, the kids are back to school and life begins to calm down a bit. My whole family begins to fall into a routine, and soon enough, our household starts to run like a well-oiled machine…. [read more]
I’ll be there first to admit that I’m not your typical kitchen friendly person. To be honest most times it is usually safer for me to be anywhere else but in the kitchen. Now that I’ve had kids I decided to work more in the kitchen to try and make things easier and share the workload with my husband, so we have been on the lookout for products that will help our lives be a little easier, and be able to help with dinner.
Your kitchen needs these items!
So with four kids six and under, what is one of the most essential kitchen items that I’m going to need you ask? Coffee and lots of it, don’t get me wrong I love my kids but man do they not ever sleep. So momma turns to coffee. I have been searching for a really good and easy to use coffee system for a while and I’ve finally found one. The Espressotoria System is an amazing cafe grade espresso system, letting you make everything from coffee to lattes to expressos right in the comfort of your own home. Whats the perfect coffee drink without that frothy top? Don’t fear because you also get this in your system, making your coffee experience complete. Unlike other machines you get you only can use up to 16 pods before needing to empty the containment area, making your coffee has never been so fun and easy. From a Brazilian Breakfast Blend to Espresso and more, there is a taste for everyone. All the pods are made to be fully recyclable, what is better than helping the planet and getting your coffee too! This Espressotoria system is easy to use even for kitchen novices like me. For more information visit their Facebook, or get yours at Walmart or Amazon.
This next kitchen item I found makes life so much easier, we recently converted the garage into an studio apartment at my mother in laws house to help keep an eye on her, but we don’t have a full kitchen area downstairs. This means everytime we need to use the oven we have to head up through her house and use her oven, but now that we have found the Power AirFryer Over our lives have become so much easier. This compact machine is a 7 in 1 powerhouse that can replace a deep fryer, rotisserie oven, dehydrator, oven, toaster oven, pizza grill and microwave. This thing is seriously amazing. I honestly was a bit skeptical at first can this little machine do all this, but YES it can. This is so easy to use ( thank the Lord for that one ), it only took me 3 min, this morning to make my three oldest children breakfast, and when mornings are packed and hectic just the smallest win helps us tremendously. Be sure to check out their Facebook, Amazon, or Website.
If you are looking for ways to make your kitchen more efficient then these items are for you. I know they sure help my daily life easier. Hope you love these products as much as I do.
What are your kitchen must-have items?
It’s that time again, back to school! For our family, that means picking up the pace! My son will be starting 1st grade this year, which is a big milestone for him. He’s excited to see his old friends, but a little scared of what kind of teacher he’ll receive this school year…. [read more]
I like to stay active with my son by going for walks. This past summer, we went for a walk almost every single day. Now that summer is over and he’s back in school, I’d like to start taking on walks after school. The local park is about a mile away. That walk alone is perfect because that’s two miles of walking right there. If he wants to walk and play around the park, that’s even more fun! I know that he and I need to get out of the house more often, just for space, the fresh air, and the exercise. Walking is the perfect pace for us.
Since we love walking, I am always looking for unique ways to stay hydrated.
Summer is one my favorite seasons of the year! I aspire to be in a Jimmy Buffett frame of mind, wearing my flip flops and feeling relaxed. For our family, it’s a time for cookouts, birthday celebrations, reunions, and vacations…. [read more]
As a mom, I always try and make sure that my kids always have the best, no matter what, with that being said, most of the time I forget about me. Now I’ve finally decided it is time to take care of myself and work on a better me. I’ve come up with a few things I do for self-care and a few must-have items that every lady needs to keep herself up to par.
Taking Care of Me
I love summer. I hate the unbearable heat and humidity that sometimes comes with it but having some stylish fashion accessories, sunscreen, some delicious food and beverage treats, and a good book or knit/crochet project on hand definitely makes dealing with the heat so much easier and more enjoyable! Here are a few items that are helping me pass the longer, hotter days of summer this year.… [read more]
Summer is in full, sizzling hot swing, and so are summer parties. From BBQ’s to pool parties, and rooftop hangouts to beach get-togethers, there’s plenty to enjoy this season. If you want to make a splash at your parties, you can’t forget must-haves like tasty food, refreshing drinks, rollicking entertainment, and Insta-worthy pictures.
Rosé All Day & Night
Staying hydrated, and covered in sunscreen, is non-negotiable in the blazing heat of summer. So bring on the water and the Rosé. It’s crisp, cool, and refreshing. One of my newest favorites comes from the clean-crafted wine curators known as Scout & Cellar.
All of the wines selected by Scout & Cellar are free of pesticides, chemical additives, and sugar. In other words, they are not chemically altered. After delighting over their NV PUNKT GENAU GRUBER SPARKLING ROSÉ from Austria, I’m curious to taste some of their other fabulous finds.
But before I get to refilling my glass, let’s talk about how this clean and refreshing organic sparkling wine lets me Rosé my day away. Not only am I fan this Rosé fruity notes, I also love knowing it’s from a family winery that’s been making wine since 1814. Can you imagine the type of summer parties the Gruber’s must have had? The bottles not too shabby looking either. I find its eclectic label so enchanting and amusing.
To keep my Rosé nice and cool, I skip the red solo cup. Instead, I pull my HOST Wine Freeze Cooling Cups out of the freezer. They help keep my wine at the perfect chilly temp for at least 2 hours. So I have plenty of time to responsibly enjoy all my summer beverages.
The Sounds of Summer Parties
No party would be complete without great music. You could hire a DJ, but I prefer to opt for something more realistic, and just as fantastic. Portable speakers are ideal for outdoor summer parties. Of course, they aren’t always so durable or waterproof. When I want my carefully curated playlist to sound amazing even while floating in the pool, I break out the Altec Lansing Baby Boom.
This sporty little Bluetooth enabled speaker not only sounds great, it’s also waterproof and shockproof. In fact, it even floats. With six hours of battery life, this portable like gem will keep the tunes blasting all party long.
Capture the Moments
Sometimes what happens at summer parties should stay at summer parties. However, in these days of Snap/Insta/Facebook madness, capturing the moments is a necessity. But how many times have you asked your friends to send you that great photo, only to never see it again, except on their feed?
When I want instant pict gratification, I go old school with the Polaroid Snap Camera. Funny enough, my first camera was a Polaroid. There are family pictures of my sister, brother, and myself with Polaroid cameras around our necks. Back then they were much bigger.
Thankfully, the Snap is about the size of a cell phone, which makes it perfect for all your summer parties. You can slip it into your pool, beach or party bag for quick Polaroids of all your adventures. You can also save your picts to the camera’s SD card or share them on social media via the Polaroid app. And bonus, the film is peel and stick, which means you can turn your favorite photos into stickers.
Summer parties just got a lot more interesting and fun. For even more inspiration, check out even more of our favorite summer picks.
What are your summer party plans? How do you make a splash?
Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of the summer entertaining season. It’s the first long weekend where we can all enjoy the outdoors with friends and family. Besides having great food, and looking summer fabulous, you also need a fully stocked bar, which why I’m sharing my picks for summer drink must haves.
Summer Drink Must Haves – Wine
I enjoy wine all year long, but when the weather heats up, I want something light and crisp. This can range from a delicious Rosé to a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. They both go well with everything from burgers to a cheese and fruit board. I recently discovered some new favorites that are now part of my summer drink must haves.
First up, is the refreshing and fruity Pomelo 2016 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2016 Napa Cellars Chardonnay. I could drink these California wines all summer long and I just might.
Pomelo 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notes:
- Aromas of fragrant white blossoms lead to white peach, melon and ripe citrus on the palate complemented by a lovely lemon curd finish.
As a big fan of blends, I adore the mix of Sauvignon blanc and Chenin blanc grapes used in the Pomelo wine. You can really taste the influence of the red, volcanic soils of the Mason Vineyard, the fruit from Monterey County, and the mineral soils of Clarksburg, California. I can’t wait to pair this with my vegan crab cakes and steamed asparagus topped with Remoulade.
Napa Cellars 2016 Chardonnay Tasting Notes:
- Aromas of peach, bright apple, and graham cracker excite the senses. Flavors of pear, crème fraiche, and pie crust are complimented by a creamy texture with balanced acidity and a nice, lingering finish of crème brulee and white peach.
The Napa Valley is known for its chardonnays. The cooler, coastal climate is the perfect place to grow this variety of grapes. I love a good fruity chardonnay with rich oaky undertones. This 2016 Chardonnay from Napa Cellars embodies both. I can absolutely see pairing this with grilled kabobs or even just a bowl of strawberries.
Backpack Wines Tasting Notes:
- Rowdy Red is a tasty blend of Washington State Merlot and Syrah that shows dark cherry on the nose. It drinks velvety smooth showing black cherry, plum and a touch of spice.
- Snappy White is a Washington State Riesling based blend has a touch of sweetness and weight that finishes with refreshing acidity. This balanced white delivers notes of green apple and Asian pear.
- Cheeky Rosé is a Washington State Pinot Blanc and Sangiovese Rose blend is a drier expression, with a touch of peach, strawberry and rose petal; a clean crisp blush wine.
Summertime is also a perfect time for picnics and the beach. Taking a bottle of wine with you isn’t always a possibility. That’s where Backpack Wine comes in. These summer drink must haves are perfect for taking on the go because they come in can form. Produced from Washington State vineyards these four-packs are available in Cheeky Rose, Snappy White, and Rowdy Red.
I think the wine in a can concept is truly genius. They are the perfect bar or cooler alternative to beer or soda. Of the three options, I highly recommend Snappy White. It’s nice and light, yet full of flavor.
Summer Drink Must Haves – Liquor
A list of summer drink must haves wouldn’t be complete without a liquor component. And I have three fabulous brands to share with you. First, is the liquor that most surprised me, American Harvest Organic Vodka. I’m not usually a big vodka drinker. I typically reach for whiskey or bourbon, but this vodka is pure perfection.
American Harvest Organic Vodka Tasting Notes:
- Handcrafted in small batches from American wheat and distilled with 100 percent certified organic ingredients to yield a distinctly smooth spirit with a crisp, clean and slightly sweet hint of real agave.
Besides being an American-made organic vodka, it’s also a double gold medal winner. All of the wheat used to produce the vodka comes from local farms and the water from the Snake River Water basin in the Pacific Northwest. I love supporting an American made brand, especially when their Vodka goes down this smooth. You can drink this vodka alone or use it for all your favorite summer cocktails. Can someone say summer brunch and a screwdriver?
Trail’s End Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Tasting Notes:
- A smooth entry of sweet malt and chocolate, bolstered by toasted hazelnut with notes of tobacco and a touch of rye. Finishes long and warm, oily and buttery with a lovely alt spice kick and slight char note.
As I mentioned above, I’m a whiskey girl. I think it might be in my blood since my granddaddy used to make corn liquor, but that’s a story for another time. I instantly gravitated to this stylish bottle of Trail’s End. Crafted using 8-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and perfected in Oregon Oak, this whiskey is warm, nutty and oh so smooth. I can absolutely see why it’s won Gold and Double Gold medals in 2016 and 2017.
It was also recently announced that Trail’s End will be donating a percentage of their sales to help reforest the Pacific Northwest after all those devastating fires. Just another reason to add this whiskey to your summer drink must haves. I know I’ll be drinking it neat or trying out one of their many tasty drink recipes.
Camus Borderies Cognac Tasting Notes:
- Reveals enticing notes of vanilla pods and orange zest, on a bed of soft spice and floral aromas. Ample and unctuous, with a robust yet elegant structure and a light hint of woodiness. Beautiful, long finish, well-balanced and wonderfully fresh.
Last and certainly not least is the robust 2014 Limited Edition of Borderies VSOP Cognac. I don’t know about you, but there is something about drinking cognac that makes me feel like a sophisticated grown-up. Not only is the bottle beautiful, but so is the rich amber liquid inside. Developed by cellar master Patrick Leger, this rich cognac comes from the Camus family’s own vineyards.
In fact, Camus, founded in 1863, still remains the largest family-owned Cognac house around today. With a history like that, it’s not surprising that this limited edition Borderies VSOP is truly remarkable and very distinctive. Each time I take a sip, I feel like I’m part of a long heritage of cognac makers and drinkers. I can absolutely see why you would want to pair this with chocolate or cheese. Basically, my favorite before and after meal treats.
What are your summer drink must haves? Which wine or liquor are you curious to try?
I’m a Jack and Coke kind of girl. Although it’s my signature drink, I’m always up for trying something new. After all, life is all about experiencing different flavors, cultures, and adventures. One way I indulge in this is through craft cocktails. I’m just fascinated by the unique combinations bartenders around the world come up with. Recently, I got to try my hand at making some unique cocktails thanks to Shaker & Spoon.
The brand was kind enough to send me their October 2017 Austin Without Limits Box. Inspired by the “Live Music Capital of the World”, and one of my favorite cities, this box features drink recipes from three of Austin’s hottest bartenders. In addition to the recipes, each box comes with glossary card and enough contents to make 12 cocktails. All I had to do was add the liquor and the barware.
Craft Cocktails Goes to Austin
One of my favorite things about this box was that each recipe could be made with either Bourbon or Tequila. If you’ve ever been to Texas, you know both are popular choices. I like my dark liquor, so I made two of the drinks with Bourbon and one with Tequila. Next time, I might switch it up.
First up, I decided to fill my rocks glass with The Beat Goes On. Created by Jessica Sanders, award-winning bartender and owner of Austin’s drink.well., this craft cocktail ups the ante on the Old Fashioned.
The recipe required me to mix the included Spiced Mojo Syrup, orange bitters, Hella Bitters Aromatic Cocktail Bitters, anise pod, and lemon with my bourbon. My The Beat Goes On came out perfectly thanks to the easy to follow instructions. In just three simple steps, I was sipping my way through the rich, smoky, yet sweet flavor of my craft cocktail. It kind of made me nostalgic for the trip I took with my mom to Austin last April. I know she would have loved this drink as much I did.
Next, I took to Rainey Street in Austin for a cocktail inspired by Chris Bostick, owner of Half Step. Recently named to Esquire TV’s Best Bars in America, Bostick knows a thing or two about making your taste buds sing with to the delight of his Huarache Nights.
For this craft cocktail, I gave my tequila a shake alongside the box’s Ginger Grenadine Experimental Syrup, lime juice, soda water and lime zest. The results were a Collins glass filled with both smokiness and sweetness. The ginger, lime and pomegranate flavors mixed perfectly with the tequila. I could imagine drinking Huarache Nights while sitting outside with friends listening to some great music.
Last, but certainly not least comes the most unique cocktails I’ve ever made, the MaSour. Created by award-winning bartender Caer Ferguson, the MaSour is inspired by Texas’s first female governor. In addition to being the first woman to govern Texas, Mariam “Ma” Ferguson also worked to repeal Prohibition. She was a woman after my own heart.
I was excited and apprehensive about trying the MaSour. First off, it uses a raw egg white and secondly, it required me to fat-wash my bourbon. Fat-washing is a technique used by bartenders to add savory flavors to liquor. In this instance, I would be adding browned, salted butter. I love the flavor of brown butter. It’s rich and smoky.
After fat-washing the bourbon and following a few more steps, I was ready to fill my coupe. I topped it off with the charred flavor of a cinnamon stick and took a sip. My MaSour was an absolute delight. It was rich and creamy, yet somehow still light. I loved it, even more, knowing the bartender who created it had asked Shaker & Spoon to donate 50% of her proceeds to the Houston Humane Society. Sounds like a true Austinite to me.
My Craft Cocktail Experience
I absolutely loved everything about my Austin Without Limits box. It was so much fun creating my own craft cocktails. I can’t wait to try it again or to share them with friends. I also think these boxes would make a great gift for cocktail lovers, or anyone who likes to experiment with flavors.
Do you like craft cocktails? Which drink from the box do you want to try?