Currently viewing the tag: "drinks"

I took a much needed trip to Winona last weekend – my husband surprised me for Mother’s Day and sent me to a bed and breakfast, along with my old college roommate (and still dear friend), Kate. Kate and I lived together for several years in Winona, so we spent most our time walking around the Winona State University campus feeling nostalgic and dreamy, and catching up on everything. So much has changed since our time there, yet so much is still the same. We ate and drank plenty at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse as well, and guzzled down this rhubarb lemonade after a long stroll. After arriving home I immediately emailed Colleen for the recipe, and she graciously shared it with me.

A trip to Winona always involves a date with Larry and Colleen, and they kindly invited both Kate and I over for dinner. It was an incredibly warm evening for May, so we all sat outside, along with their son Erik,  sipping vodka lemonades and nibbling on all the goodness Colleen had waiting for us. The Wolner’s house is rather magical, and if you’ll allow me to pull out some nerdery, I’d say it rather has a Bombadil air about it: entering into their realm is a warm, welcoming respite during the adventures of life. There is always plenty to eat and drink, a warm fire, good conversation, and tasty treats. All the things this Hobbit heart needs.

 

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holiday drinks
A few weeks ago the kind folks at Martha Stewart Living sent me their new copper bar set. I’m not much of a mixed drink kind of person, more like the ‘1/2 beer with dinner’ type, even though I do have a cabinet stuffed full of liqueur bottles. These, however, are used almost exclusively for baking. I decided to live it up just a little this December; trade the beer in for something more sassy, and put the new set to good use.

I met Ben from BET Vodka at Molly’s fabulous brunch a few weeks back, and he donated a bottle to make some drinks with. I took a fancy to his beautiful vodka bottles at the brunch (I also had a delicious drink made from it), and thought it would go well with pomegranate juice and ginger ale. Turns out it does. Then I received a few bottles of wine from Seven Daughters – I have had a good number of glasses of it over at the Faux Martha’s house, and knew it would pair wonderfully with something simple. Orange juice and Moscato happened at a recent family gathering, and everyone loved it.

These two drinks are so simple they probably don’t need recipes, but I figured there might be someone like me out there who needs a little help with making party beverages appear fancy, so I thought this might come in handy.
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holiday drinks

holiday drinks

holiday drink

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The copper bar set was sent to me by Martha Stewart Living, and can be found exclusively at Macys.
BET Vodka can be found online here.
Seven Daughters wine can be found online here.

As always, all opinions are my own.

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A Trio of Summer Beverages
It’s the summer of fun! For reasons before mentioned, I am lining up guest posts for this summer. First up is Carey from Reclaiming Provincial. I somehow only recently discovered Carey’s space a few months ago, but fell in love instantly with her gorgeous photographs and recipes. She’s amazing.

Hello, everyone! I am excited to be sharing something in Sarah’s gorgeous space. I have long admired her work, and the unique sense of peace that it brings to me whenever I am here. Her hushed images and sincere words have a knack for finding their way to the very core. This is a quiet, honest, and beautiful place to be. And I am thrilled to be here with all of you today!

I have often felt a strong seasonal connection to Sarah, despite the fact that we live in different parts of the country. We seem to experience the same sort of yearly patterns—fleeting autumns and springs that give way to endless winters and sweltering summers—as well as the moods that result from dull, grey snow that hangs around for far too long, or humidity that makes you perspire with every breath then sadistically refuses to evaporate the beads of sweat from your skin. And when Nature decided to throw some unseasonably hot and humid weather at us here in the northeast the other week, I started obsessing over summer drinks filled with herbs and so. much. ice.

The weather has since cooled off, but the brief hot spell was a reminder that summer is just around the corner. And I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Sarah’s break than with three delicious beverages that are perfect for sharing with loved ones and making the heat a little more bearable. Happy Summer, Sarah!
A Trio of Summer Beverages
A Trio of Summer Beverages
“If we wish to know about a man, we ask ‘what is his story—his real, inmost story?’—for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us—through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives—we are each of us unique.” —Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

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vanilla bean soda (with or without bourbon) | the vanilla bean blog
I’ve always been in love with books. Since I can remember, I’ve had my nose stuck in one. I whizzed through every elementary and middle school series: Nancy Drew, The Baby Sitter’s Club, and the Sweet Valley Twins, to name a few. My Grandma thought reading a worthwhile investment of my time, and took me to B. Dalton once a week to pick out new titles to add to my collection. It wasn’t until I was twelve, however, that I read my first ‘real’ book. Each week my Grandma would talk to me about how I ‘need to read the classics’ and became obsessive about it over time. ‘How about Wuthering Heights?’ she would ask,‘or Jane Eyre?’ I had no idea about these books, except I was sure they weren’t exciting mysteries filled with clues and frequent make-out scenes, and pleaded with her to let me pick out my favorites instead. Finally, however, after weeks of her insisting I caved, and together we went looking for the classics. Somehow this little bookstore did not carry any of the books she suggested, but there was one copy of Gone with the Wind sticking out from their shelves, and Grandma grabbed it immediately. And so after much debate, my Grandma sent me home with the 1,000 page novel. I remember racing down to my room and staring at the cover for a long time, embarrassed and intrigued by Scarlet’s heaving bosom and Rhett’s intense gaze. I knew Nancy Drew had never found herself in an embrace like that, and it suddenly dawned on me exactly what  ‘juvenile fiction’ meant. I was timid to open the book, but finally turned to page one and began to read, captivated by each line, each word. I devoured the entire novel in one week, living and breathing Katie Scarlet O’Hara; finding myself torn by all the conflict and falling desperately in love with Rhett Butler. My little twelve-year-old heart had never read anything so complicated, so moving, so romantic, so heartbreaking. There, in my closet of a room tucked away in the basement of my house, a door inside me burst wide open. I wanted to always be lost inside a good story, and spend my life there.

As all good books do, they stay with their readers, printing their beautiful and painful words across the psyche of each one. And while I desperately hoped that somehow Scarlet’s courage and fearlessness or her ability to attract Rhett Butler-types would bleed off the pages and become part of me, it was her frequently repeated phrase of ‘I can’t think about that right now. I’ll think about that tomorrow,’ that stuck with me, weaved it’s spell. Somehow, very subtly, that sentence I’ll think about that tomorrow became my mantra over the next twenty years. I am officially now an expert at avoiding what needs to be done, and a professional at reaching for other less important (although much more interesting) things to distract me. For, you see, tomorrow is a great place for sticking homework assignments and long complicated papers, phones calls, emails, and personal goals. Tomorrow holds apples and oranges, eight glasses of water, and a yoga class or two. Tomorrow is the keeper of words that need to be spoken, the letters that should have been sent, the time well spent. Tomorrow is always gleaming bright and beautiful, filled with good intentions and promise of a follow through.
vanilla bean soda (with or without bourbon) | the vanilla bean blog
vanilla bean soda (with or without bourbon) | the vanilla bean blog
vanilla soda (with or without bourbon) | the vanilla bean blog
But, as I’ve come to figure out, living for tomorrow makes today a somewhat awkward and uncomfortable place to be. My thoughts are always in the next sunrise, wandering and ungrounded. And so, this brings me to the whole point of this post, which is I am taking a break from my blog for the summer.

It’s a much needed break in many ways. There are two very important reasons for it, the first one being my children. My daughter will be starting full-day Kindergarten in the fall, and while we are excited for her education, my heart is breaking at the thought of her being gone all day. So we are calling this the summer of fun, and we are going to live it up here: time at the beach, day trips by train and car, picnics in the park, long walks, and lots and lots of time, together. The second reason is a little harder to talk about, but I need to take some time away from baking and focus on getting my body healthy. I’ve always struggled with food – either eating too much or not enough, and since having my second child it’s been very hard for me to find a healthy food lifestyle. I’ve tried several times this past year to change my eating habits and exercise routine, and find I keep putting it off until tomorrow.  So I am going to step away from all the butter and sugar and heavy cream. Baking has always been a comfort and a joy to me, but I’ve found myself in the kitchen constantly, losing myself in puff pastry and ice cream instead of good books and my husband’s eyes. I hear the poets calling me, and I have to heed their whispers.

But, dear friends, not to worry. I am working on setting up guest posts for the summer, so this space will still stay alive. I will also pop in from time to time with some picture posts of our adventures, and I will still be around on Instagram (although you may find more pictures of my kids than cookies). And, well, if you miss me terribly, you can always make this vanilla bean soda and think about all the good times we’ve had together. Or maybe pick up that copy of Gone with the Wind you never got around to, and lose yourself in a summer of fun, today.

vanilla soda (with or without bourbon) | the vanilla bean blog
vanilla soda (with or without bourbon) | the vanilla bean blog
*It would have been my Grandma’s birthday this week, and writing this post makes me smile and weep at the same time. She was a friend, and I miss her company. I wrote a little more about her here, if you’d like to read it.

*About six months ago I was thinking about my book crush on Rhett Butler (because, it’s hardly gone away), and just what was it that made me fall so in love with him. It dawned on me that all the things I found so attractive: his sharp personality, his insistence on telling things like they were regardless what people thought, his sly sense of humor, being completely unromantic and romantic at the same time, and the way he just loved Scarlett: knowing her so well when she didn’t know herself, and so willing to walk with her through all her weaknesses; these were all things that made me fall in love with my husband. And so, somehow, I did end up with Rhett Butler after all. My Adam is the book I am lost in. But our story is so much better; it is filled with happy endings.

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frozen frangelico coffee with maple cream | the vanilla bean blog
I have only recently become someone who likes to have the occasional alcoholic beverage. Throughout my preteen and young adult years it was common to hear phrases such as ‘goody two shoes’ hurled at me by friends and enemies alike; however, I’ll save delving deeper into those stories for a much sadder day. The only thing you need to know now is that although the thought of not being in complete control of everything my evening activities absolutely terrifies me, I do enjoy a drink. Usually I opt for a nice cold beer or Crispin hard cider, but this sassy number has my name all over it. It’s the perfect potion: frozen, slushy coffee, hazelnut liqueur, and whipped cream infused with maple syrup, all in one tall, beautiful glass. Cheers to you, to me, to things that only make us stronger, and all of life’s funny little hang ups.
frozen frangelico coffee with maple cream | the vanilla bean blog
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I spent the weekend tossing and turning, crazy sick with the flu. While it was absolutely miserable, it was the first time in months that I had time to really hear myself.
There are moments during sickness where one grasps delirium and clarity at the same time. Almost like in childbirth, the mind and all energy is turned inward, focusing on how the body is reacting and responding. In this space of time the soul cuts through any suffering, offering itself loud and clear. It’s important to listen in these moments, to hear one’s self.
I asked myself hard questions. I thought about my time, and how I ignore it’s unyielding ticking. I wondered at my hands and feet – how they’ve been idle, and unconcerned with building and forging. I was bewildered at my daily evolution – living a world through a digital and removed mind instead of feeling and being with all parts: hair and face and limbs and toes. My heart spoke: it moved me, and demanded of me. And there, in that juncture of illness and lucidity, I made an action toward breaking bread and planting seeds, toward scrubbing floors on hands and knees, toward face-to-face and arm-in-arm. A movement towards good health, and conscious, and being. Drink with me, if you will.

I don’t think there is such a thing as bad sangria. But some sangria is better than others, and this is one that is top of the pops. It’s not overly sweet, and it requires only two kinds of fruit and really cheap Merlot. When it’s all mixed together and sits for 8 hours, it becomes a smooth deliciousness that will end your summer evening just right. Enjoy.

black tea lemonade | the vanilla bean blog
we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
trickled
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
concentrated,
born of the cool, fresh
lemon,
of its fragrant house,
its acid, secret symmetry.
-Pablo Neruda
black tea lemonade | the vanilla bean blog
black tea lemonade | the vanilla bean blog
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