Orange You Glad It’s Summer?

One month into summer, and I’m already worried about the days slipping too quickly away. All I want to do is take long evening walks, enjoy drinks on the patio and repose by as many bodies of water as humanly possible.

Here’s a quick look at how I’m making the most of this particular summer. See if you notice a growing trend …

Two-for-a-Dollar-Mangoes
The first time a pal and I decided to try our hand at a mango margarita, we spent absolutely ages trying to hack apart rock-hard, unripe mangoes. Let’s just say the results were less than stellar. Years later, an older-but-wiser Miss Mojito will put some perfectly ripe mango to much better use thanks to a stupendous mango sale at my local grocery store. I’m thinking of adapting this recipe from Food & Wine.

Strappy Statement Sandals
Summertime calls for fun and frivolous footwear, and these platform sandals fit the bill. I love the peep-toe slingback styling – it’s super flattering and feminine – and the layer of cork and pop of bright color just scream “summer.”

 

Frequent Pedicures
During the fall and winter, pedicures feel a bit over-indulgent. I might have a slight guilt complex over spending good money to pamper feet that nobody’s going to see. But come summer, polished toes are practically a necessity. I just love a hue that melds orange and coral, like A Good Man-darin is Hard to Find by OPI.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

S&C patriotism

If money were no object, the 4th of July holiday weekend footwear may look a little something like this:

For the picnic, or the baseball game (the Nationals have a double-header on Saturday, you know), let’s don these adorable Kate Spade sandals. That bow, the grosgrain fabric, the basketweave heel — nothing could say casual American holiday better.

For the night out, how about this classic Burberry espadrille paired with a flowy black sundress? Love the combination of red patent leather, espadrille midsol, and the check pattern.

For the wide-leg white linen pants (or the white linen anything), how about these striking Diane Von Furstenberg wedges? Yes, the height, the bold color, the multi-pattern wedge heel would contrast beautifully with white.

And what to drink this Independence Day? Well, we’ll have to get back to you on that, but these Black and Blue Mojitos and this Campari Cup are strong contenders (particularly given the amount of fresh mint we have growing over at chez S&C).

Happy fireworks, barbecues, picnics, baseball games, Declaration of Independence reading, patriotic song singing, parade going, blue-and-white sprinkled, sparkler waving holiday!

posted by Ms. S&C

The Slow Death of a Shoe

There are some shoes that are such an integral part of a girl’s daily footwear rotation that it’s hard to imagine a wardrobe – or life – without them. They’re what you might call the MVP’s of your shoe collection. The standby shoes that meld perfectly fashion and comfort. They’re the shoes that you have had re-heeled, re-soled and re-polished more times than you can count – and, possibly, beyond the point of repair. But even so, you just can’t let them go. Even with scuff marks or an uneven heel, these shoe stalwarts stand heads and shoulders above the other pairs lurking in your closet.

Today, I thought I’d pay tribute to several examples of such a heroic shoe in my own footwear arsenal. To be perfectly honest with you, I’ll probably never get rid of these pairs. Heck, I’ll probably keep wearing them until holes in the soles are fully visible. But I can’t bear to ditch these several pairs that have seen me through thick and thin.

I've been searching high and low for a replacement for these beat-up Mary Jane pumps that are a workday staple.

It may not look like much now, but this buttery beige Cole Haan loafer was my go-to travel shoe for years.

Some might consider the damage to these once-uber-chic peep toe kitten pumps to be beyond repair.

Miss Mojito wants to know: Am I the only crazy sentimentalist out there who can’t bid adieu to a good pair of pumps?

*Update* Just one day after posting this little homage to the beat-up shoe, I decided to wear a pair of worn-but-respectable gladiator-style sandals to work – only to witness the straps fall apart just steps from the front door of my office. Thus, today’s footwear of choice is my gym shower flops. Classy. Methinks the shoe gods might be trying to teach a lesson in proper shoe maintenance!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

When in Denver

When in Denver, there’s:

Hiking

Biking

And Drinking.

And by drinking, we mean grapefruit mimosas and cucumber bloody marys for brunch (get them both at delicious, delicious Duo). And by drinking, we also mean beer. There’s so much good beer! (We can recommend Mountain Sun beer and nachos after hiking in Boulder, and Falling Rock Taphouse in downtown Denver). And while you’re in the Mile High City, you may as well check out the city’s first bar, The Cruise Room. Opened the day after Prohibition was repealed, and fashioned after one of the lounges on the Queen Mary, this art deco style bar has an extensive martini menu.

In addition to hiking, biking, and drinking, there is yoga. There is wonderful,  invigorating, heart-opening yoga (Vital Yoga is a fantastic studio in the Highlands neighborhood).

But, most importantly, there are super awesome friends in Denver. And great memories.

posted by Ms. S&C

Variations on a Fruity Theme

One of last year’s fave cocktail concoctions was most certainly this Fruity Bourbon Fizz, which combined tart cherry juice, bourbon, lemonade and sparkling wine with delightful results. For a recent mother’s day celebration, I was eager to put the cherry juice to good use again.

The R.W. Knudsen brand makes a delightfully tart, organic black cherry juice that has become more widely available in grocery stores as of late. The flavor is quite potent and a little certainly goes a long way – making it a great mixer for a crowd.

Since I already had tequila on hand, I decided to meld the liquor with the juice in a vibrant Cherry Margarita. Given the pow packed by the cherry punch, I like to give my guests a fair warning and introduce this as a Tart Cherry Margarita, so they’re fully prepared for the pucker that inevitably follows the first sip. Feel free to mellow out the tartness level with some extra agave syrup for sweetness – but personally, I find the bite refreshing!

A pitcher full of cherry tequila goodness.

Cherry Margarita
Serves 6.

  • 10 ounces tequila blanco
  • 6 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 ounces tart bottled cherry juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • Fresh cherries (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and stir well. Serve in chilled glasses over ice, with optional fresh cherries as a festive garnish.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Favorite things 2011

It’s that time of year again. It’s that time when Ms. S&C and her splendid group of girlfriends compile ten of their favorite things, meet for dinner, draw names, and exchange baskets of goodies.

At this year’s basket exchange party, Ms. S&C scored a jar of pickled asparagus (perfect garnish for bloody mary’s), delicious wasabi-flavored almonds, and a slew of beauty-related items: night cream, Olivella soap, and hair removing cream (bathing suit season is right around the corner, you know).

Here’s what Ms. S&C put in her (mostly) health-and-wellness themed basket:

  1. GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha — Yes, the documented health benefits are a bit conflicting, but Ms. S&C is convinced that this fermented tea beverage — which she drinks three times a week — is great for her digestive health and her skin. (And now she wants to make her own.)
  2. Incense — Until about six months ago, Ms. S&C probably hadn’t purchased incense since college. But — as part of a new age-y streak — she is at yoga four times a week, at the acupuncturist once a month, taking daily Chinese herbs, drinking crazy fermented beverages, and lighting Champaka.
  3. Dried apricots — A perfect snack, with a handful of cashews or a spoonful of almond butter. This treat is also great when served with pork or duck (try cooking with carmelized onions). Salty+Sweet=Yummy.
  4. Cloth napkins — Ms. S&C likes to use cloth napkins for everyday use (and bright colors means that stains don’t show as much).
  5. Nude-colored lip gloss — Ms. S&C loves the dark-smokey-eyes and nude-colored nail polish and shiny nude lips look. She also likes the “Perfectly Nude” brand from Sephora.
  6. Yoga — It is hard to put yoga in a basket. So, Ms. S&C’s love of yoga came in the form of a strap this year.
  7. Dark chocolate — This is Ms. S&C’s indulgence item. She has a fondness for fancy dark chocolate, and Mast Brother’s has a special place in her heart. (So does Vosges for that matter.)
  8. Misha’s coffee — Hooray for local artisanal coffee! (And kudos to Whole Foods for carrying it.)
  9. Running/workout playlist — Ms. S&C loves making playlists (it’s a recurring item in her basket), and this year she adapted a running mix she shared awhile back.
  10. Recipes — Thomas Keller’s roast chicken and crispy kale and are (excuse my language) fucking phenomenal.

And while there wasn’t anything cocktail or shoe-related in her basket, Ms S&C’s friends definitely came through, as gin, vodka, and sparkling rose all made an appearance.

Now, of course, Ms. S&C wants to know: What favorite things would you put in your basket? Share in the comments below!

PS) You can check out Ms. S&C’s favorite things from 2009 and 2010.

posted by Ms. S&C

Herbaceous Trending

In January, the Huffington Post made one particularly spot-on trend prediction in the world of cocktails – and it’s a trend that I’ve particularly enjoyed exploring as of late: herbal infusions. Food & Wine has noticed a similar trend in their 2011 cocktail guide, commending to its readers a non-alcoholic Almond-Fennel Cooler.

I’ve long been a fan of using basil in my cocktail concocting (Basil Gimlet, anyone?), and we’re all familiar with the king of herbal cocktails, the Mint Julep. It’s high time I got experimental with some herbs that are more off the beaten path in mixology, particularly as more fresh herbs are in season this summer.

Most recently, I jumped on the herbaceously trendy cocktail bandwagon with the Intimate Secretary, a pleasing blend of grapefruit vodka*, rosemary syrup, lime and club soda, at Balliceaux in Richmond. The herbal notes temper the sweetness of the syrup with eminently drinkable results.

So, how else might we meld herbs and cocktails? Taking a nod from Balliceaux, I’m eager to try my hand at other herb-infused syrups by making a basic simple syrup (bringing equal parts sugar and water to a boil, then simmering until liquid reduces by about half), adding herbs while the syrup is still hot and letting it steep while the syrup cools. What do we think about …

  • Thyme Syrup + Vodka + Homemade Lemonade + Vanilla
  • Lavender Syrup + Gin + Prosecco
  • Cilantro Syrup + Tequila + Grapefruit + Club Soda

Miss Mojito wants to know: Have you had any success with herbaceous cocktail mixing?

*Why haven’t I tried this before? And does grapefruit-infused gin exist? Immediate investigation required.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Americans in London

Did you think S&C would totally ignore the upcoming nuptials of Wills and Kate? No way! Especially when Ms. S&C has two great friends living in London and so close to the action! Especially when we’re talking about a real prince and princess. Especially when the soon-to-be-princess wears such magnificent hats! Especially when we can find an excuse to use the phrase tea and crumpets. And cheerio.

Friends of S&C who live in London discuss the upcoming Royal Wedding

When Ms. S&C reached out to Mere, an American living in London for three years now, she seemed a little more excited that the sun had been shining for a few days straight — and that she has Friday off work — than the actual wedding. Here’s what else she had to say:

What will you and most British people be doing the day of the Royal Wedding?

Either watching it on TV at home or in a pub. I haven’t decided what to do yet, I have a feeling I might try to ride my bike down to the park by the palace. Other things that most neighborhoods are having block parties so that should be fun. I think there is one in my square. Also: lots and lots of UK flags are everywhere. It is like the World Cup all over again.

What will you be drinking to celebrate the occasion? What will most Englishmen be drinking?

Pimms! of course. Also the standard of beer. But I think it will be more Pimms and Champagne.

Tell us something about the Royal Wedding — and the festivities — that we don’t know.

I think the U.S. news has covered everything. I think most Londoners are going to bunker down and go to their local pub or friend’s place and the people downtown will be tourists. There are a crapload of random things you can buy like mugs, magnets, ash trays, bells, etc.

Tell us why we should care about the Royal Wedding?

I have no idea why anyone should really care about the Royal Wedding. But it is a day off here so I am glad it is happening.

————————————————-

S&C friend, Sesolf, an American living in London for less than three months, is a bit more like us: a little more caught up in the fairy tale and extravaganza. Here’s what she has to say about the wedding day:

What will you and most British people be doing the day of the Royal Wedding?

I am desperately looking for the best pub / bbq / party to go and watch the whole affair whilst drinking heavily. I think I’ve finally been pointed in the direction of a pub in Spitalfields where the owner is a crazy character of a woman who is already a major royalist and I’m told should be putting on a great party for it. But, every Brit that I have talked to says they have no interest in watching and will be going to bbqs b/c it is a free day off of work, so they will be getting completely wasted, but just not at all caring to watch the wedding itself. I, however, will find a way. At the very least, there is a pub down the street that is throwing a proper drinking and viewing party, so I will go there alone if need be…

What will you be drinking to celebrate the occasion? What will most Englishmen be drinking?

I think most will be drinking beer and cider at bbqs, as mentioned above. I’ll drink cider in a pub, since I’m not a big beer drinker and don’t trust wine in pubs – and don’t want to drink wine at 11 AM. That said, if the pub has a sparkling, preferably prosecco, I will load up on that to celebrate the nuptials.

Tell us something about the Royal Wedding — and the festivities — that we don’t know.

I had a great fun conversation this weekend with someone from The Sunday Times who insists that this whole wedding and “love story” was a complete coup planned by the Middleton family from the moment Wills decided to go to St. Andrews. Apparently Kate was going to university somewhere else, and then changed all her plans to go to St. Andrews, all with the intention of finding Wills and marrying him. It was absolutely hysterical, b/c he was adamant that she is a little hussy doing whatever her parents make her do to get into the royal family and Wills is such a dumb dolt that he’d have no idea and just fall for it… I enjoyed the conversation, but am still sticking to the fairy tale story and happy to like Kate… for now. (Also, side note, most interesting to me is that EVERY Brit apparently knows that Harry’s dad was the bodyguard that Diana had an affair with – spitting image of him, it’s not even a question – but I’d never heard that in the U.S. I mean, obviously we can see that they very likely have different fathers, but still, I had know idea it was just absolutely known and accepted here. Also, Diana was sleeping around with loads of footballers etc., while Charles and Camilla were 100% together from pre-marriage and on… this came up in the statement that Kate will be just like Diana and sleep around within a year.

Tell us why we should care about the Royal Wedding?

Because it is even more awesome when in the context of all the royal scandal as discussed above. And it is real. I mean, he really is a prince. And she really is a commoner who is going to become a princess. I love it!

Has Ms. S&C mentioned that she has awesome friends? She has awesome friends.

posted by Ms. S&C

Hyperbole for Effect

Friends of Miss Mojito know that she is somewhat prone to exaggeration in her storytelling. A little hyperbole, in my humble opinion, can vastly improve the quality of a tale. But who knew the same principle applies to shoe-buying, too?

Take my new BCBGeneration platform sandals, for example. Everything about this shoe – from the oversized proportions to the satisfying “clomp” of shoe meeting pavement – is slightly exaggerated with an aesthetically pleasing result, to Miss Mojito’s eye.

The heel is thick and oversized, with a chunky heft and a towering height of five inches, supported by a two-inch platform. And the styling of the faux-wood base and golden studs appeals to Miss Mojito’s clog-friendly shoe sensibilities.

My particular pair is in a lovely shade of “Desert Toffee Crosta,” aka taupe, but they’re also available in black and a (somewhat startling) dark pink – err, “Red Berry Soft Tumbled.”

Is this a shoe that will stand the test of time and become the next classic go-to shoe in my closet? Well, probably not. But will the shoe give an air of 70’s style to my footwear wardrobe, lending an era-appropriate touch to my wide-legged jeans? Most definitely. This is my definition of a fun shoe.

And, to answer the question on your mind, they’re actually surprisingly comfortable, particularly for shoes of such delightfully exaggerated proportions!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Bourbon and blackberries

“Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist?” That’s a question Washington Post spirits columnist, Jason Wilson, asked in a recent article.

It doesn’t really matter if a perfect bourbon exists. One reason: we probably couldn’t afford it. Another reason: Ms. S&C (and Wilson) agree that Buffalo Trace — who is said to be making the so-called ‘perfect’ bourbon — is an excellent bourbon just as is. (Wilson even goes so far to call it his “desert-island bourbon.”)

Buffalo Trace doesn’t have to be the ‘perfect’ bourbon. It goes perfectly
well as is with blackberries.

Ms. S&C is sure she’s had — and written about — bourbon mixed with berries before. The inspiration comes from somewhere (aside from there being a lot of bourbon in the house). Anyway, this drink came together recently (but not so recently that Ms. S&C hasn’t had time to try it a second time). We give you a bourbon and blackberries cocktail that’s quite good.

Ingredients:

  • Blackberries (three to five per drink)
  • Lime (one per drink)
  • Agave Nectar
  • Bourbon (Ms. S&C likes Buffalo Trace and Maker’s Mark)
  • Ice
  • Seltzer
  • Lime peel (for garnish)

Directions:
(for one cocktail)

Muddle 3-5 blackberries with juice of one lime and a spoonful of agave nectar. Add ice (enough to fill a glass) and 1.5 to 2 ounces of bourbon. Shake well. Pour and top with seltzer. Garnish with lime peel.

posted by Ms. S&C