Better Boozy Pops

On account of the ungodly heat we’ve been experiencing (seriously, it makes me feel like THIS), I’ve been craving frozen treats like the chubby 12-year-old I really am. When we were little, my mom would make use popsicles out of various fruit juices and the molds she used were amazing. I think they were Tupperware and the sticks were yellow and had a little straw attached so as the popsicle melted you didn’t miss out on any of the drippy deliciousness. I, perhaps naively, assumed there would be a luscious bounty of popsicle molds in every grocery and convenience store below the Mason-Dixon but sadly there was not. I searched high and low – and by that I mean I want to Harris Teeter and Target – before deciding I would have to purchase my molds off the ole interwebs. I found these Tovolo molds on Amazon and was sold as soon as I read the reviews. Everyone loved them but complained that they are just too big. Seeing the considerable size as a pro and not a con, I ordered them post-haste.

After being disappointed by my first popsicle attempt – green tea, honey, cream, and blueberries – I decided to go with something more fun. I had cilantro and lime in the fridge for another recipe and decided to use it to make a flavored simple syrup and combine it with Vernor’s Ginger Ale and Gosling’s Dark Rum for a Dark ‘n Stormy-esque treat for the chubby 12-year-old inside who also may or may not be a lush.

My math is not what I would call “great” and certainly not what my engineer dad would call “accurate” so the measurements in the recipe that follows are close approximations at best. Each pop-mold holds about 1/2 cup of liquid so, keeping that in mind, I went with the following action:

Step 1: Cut a hole in a box.

Step 2: Heat the juice of a really juicy lime, a big handful of chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup tastes lime-y and cilantro-y to your liking.

Step 3: Combine 1 1/3 C Vernor’s Ginger Ale – NO OTHER KIND WILL DO, except maybe Gosling’s Ginger Beer, absolutely not some Seagrams or Canada Dry nonsense – 1/3 C cilantro-lime simple syrup and 1 T Goslings Dark Rum in a large measuring cup.

Step 4: Pour mixture into molds and freeze overnight.

This makes 4 pops because I also just happened to have some grapefruit italian soda and silver tequila lying around and I thought they might combine well with the cilantro-lime simple syrup for a Paloma-esque popsicle. Turns out I was right. The recipe for the Palomita Pops is exaclty the same as the recipe for the Dark ‘N Stormy-ish pops just substitute the Vernors for Grapefruit soda and the rum for silver tequila (I like THIS kind) and boom – delicious adult popsicles for a blazingly hot summer.

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Better DIY

I have giant hands. Not necessarily of the man variety, but giant nonetheless. Yet, I insist on attempting tasks meant for dainty, little, lady hands. Such as my latest DIY interest: sewing. I decided to take up sewing because shopping for clothes is the worst. THE WORST – I never seem to find exactly what I’m looking for, if I do find something halfway decent it is either out of my price range, too small, too big, or stained with some fool’s bronzer, and, to make matters worse, my blood sugar always seems to drop just as I’m making progress and I need to go home for a snack and some quiet time. So, after watching ole girl win Project Runway with minimal sewing experience I thought surely I can make a damn skirt or two.

My mom brought me her sewing machine – a bad-ass Husqvarna Viking– when she came to visit this past Fall and taught me the basics of the machine and reading a pattern. Since Winter was upon us, I decided to make a lovely little wrap sweater thingy. I don’t know why I thought sewing something with sleeves and a hood would be a good idea for my first attempt, but my mom seemed to think it’d be ok so I went with it. As I was pinning the pattern to the fabric I stuck the bejeezus out of one of my digits. “Shit!” I yelped, squeezing my index finger. “Are you bleeding?” my mom asked. I nodded, sucking on the wound. Without hesitation she responded, “Good, you’re supposed to bleed on your first sewing project.”

A few weeks and a lot of profanity later, I finally finished the damn thing. The seams weren’t exactly straight, the corners were messy, and the sleeves were a good two inches too short. So, I gave it to a friend of mine who’s just tall enough to not be legally considered a little person. I decided to try a few up-cycle/re-fashion projects before committing to another serious garment so that I could practice measuring, sewing in a straight line, and making even hems. In nerding around on Whole Living’s website, I found this Oxford Napkin idea and decided to give it a shot with one of J’s old shirts. 

First order of business was to take the shirt apart. At first, I sat down with a glass of wine, an episode of The Daily Show, and my seam rippers only to discover that it would take me the length of Jessica Simpson’s pregnancy to do it that way. So, I grabbed my Ginghers and made quick work of it.

Then, I took the back of the shirt and cut out four, ten-inch squares. Martha says to cut out 12 inch squares, but J is a rather svelte man so the shirt didn’t provide THAT much fabric.

This is where it gets tricky – for me anyway. I can’t seem to sew a hem in a straight line so what I have to do is iron the edge over a book, pin it down, then sew. Like sew: (see what I did there?)

Since I used a 10-inch square rather than the 12-inch square a portly gentleman’s shirt would have provided, these turned out more like pocket squares and less like napkins. But that’s ok – I don’t really use napkins anyway…

Better Baking

My favorite desserts are always strawberry-related – especially in the Summer: strawberry shortcake, strawberry icecream, strawberries with honey and cream, strawberry popsicles, whatever. In high school, my then-boyfriend’s mother brought one of the most amazing strawberry-related desserts ever to a cook-out that was more than likely marching band related. It was cold and refreshing and had so many tasty components: frozen strawberries, jell-o, pudding, cool whip, and cake. Thankfully, she isn’t one of those Southern women who withhold recipes like they do affection and approval and she gave my mom a copy. Being that it has been oppressively hot for what feels like forever, I decided it would be the perfect dessert to bring to the Fourth of July party we went to on Wednesday. So, before getting down to business on my kick-ass American flag tank-top, I ran to the store to get the fixins for the cake and, while enjoying my morning coffee, got to baking.

Strawberry Ice Box Cake. The ingredients are simple:

For the cake:

  • 1 box white cake and everything it says you need on the box
  • 1 large (6oz) box strawberry Jell-O
  • 16 oz box frozen strawberries (chopped/halved/sliced/whatever)

For the Icing:

  • 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 medium Cool Whip (softened)

First, you bake the cake in a 9×13 pan according to the directions on the box using the 3 whole egg directions, not the bullshit 4 egg white directions. Meanwhile, mix the box of strawberry Jell-O with 2 cups of hot water until the Jell-O is dissolved. Add the frozen strawberries to the Jell-O and stir until melted/thawed. Once the cake is finished baking, poke holes all over it with a fork. I mean ALL OVER it – go nuts with the fork. Once you think you have poked enough holes, poke a few more just to be sure. Then, slowly pour the Jell-O mixture over the cake, allowing it to soak in evenly. The strawberries will sit on top of the cake for the most part, but some will sink down into it over time. Like so:

Chill several hours, or over night. Make the icing by first mixing the box of pudding and the 2 cups cold milk then, using a hand-blender (or whisk if you’ve got the stamina), add the container of Cool Whip a big dollop at a time. Evenly spread over the chilled cake and serve cold. Like this:

I enjoyed a pretty sizable piece at the party (the above picture is merely the last bite – I was so engrossed in the cake I almost forgot to document it in all its glory) and then, foolishly, left the remaining half of the cake at the party so I was unable to enjoy it for breakfast the following morning when I was suffering from a hangover-related headache and icky-belly. I trust that it went to good use though. Before Summer is over, I plan on making it again using frozen peaches and peach Jell-O. I’ll report back with delicious results.

 

 

Better Patriotism

This year, I had zero plans for the Fourth of July until the afternoon of the third when we were invited to a last-minute shindig at a friend’s house. Elsewise, I would’ve started this project earlier and posted it in time for the Fourth but, alas – such is life. For the last few weeks Pinterest has been covered in adorable patriotic creations ranging from ridiculous to sane. I mean, really – who has the time to make a danged ole American flag yarn wreath, paint their nails with stars and stripes, arrange fruit kebabs and various other edibles to look like the flag, and place said edibles on the table around the red, white, and blue bean (I don’t know where they found blue beans either) centerpiece? After all, it is a holiday meant to be spent drinking cold beer, playing yard games, and blowing shit up. But, I don’t own any patriotic clothing so I had no choice but to make an American flag tank top out of one of J’s old white shirts. So, I woke up early-ish to get a head start on the strawberry ice box cake for the fiesta and to create my star-spangled ensemble.

First, I took an old white v-neck and, using one of my favorite tank tops as a template, cut out the sleeves and neck. Like so:

Then, I covered the giant clipboard my husband has for some reason in paper and secured the tank to it placing a broken down Cinnamon Life cereal box inside the shirt to avoid getting paint where it didn’t belong. You could probably use any kind of cereal box, but Cinnamon Life really is the best. Next, using a variety of tapes and cardboard cut-out stars, we secured the design to the shirt. Observe:

Then, using some acrylic paint J had lying around (I am telling you, I have been known to complain about the random shit he accumulates but it really comes in handy sometimes) to execute the bitchin’ design. Like so:

Once I got the shirt on my person, we cut the sleeves into strips and tied the back of the shirt together to create a skinny racerback. And, BOOM – festive attire for the Fourth of July:

Not to toot my own horn or anything but the shirt got a lot of good press at the party and certainly made me feel more American than everyone else. Happy Birthday America!!

Better Friends

So, the solstice has come and gone and now it’s hot as balls. The closest I’ve gotten to any sort of cleanse has been taking a few days during the week to avoid alcohol before enjoying weekend merriment once again. The right time just hasn’t struck yet – I had 4 of my closest girlfriends in town over the solstice for a reunion/birthday/bachelorette celebration – detoxing prior to such an engagement would’ve been futile.

This particular group of lady-friends formed 7 years ago when we were all in our early 20’s studying abroad in Granada, Spain. We bonded over the same things most folks who study abroad bond over: wanderlust, self-discovery, home-sickness, and alcohol. We’ve managed to get together once or twice a year since we studied abroad together. The first reunion was only a few months after we all got back to the states – it was my 21st birthday and we decided to throw a party at my folks’ house. We constructed a giant slip-and-slide in the back yard which turned mildly dangerous when, after the contraption was deemed not slippery enough, we added dish-soap to the mix creating a foamy, eye-burning mess. My parents must have been so proud watching me get hammered in their back yard and slide around on plastic sheets repeatedly getting soap in my eyes three years into my college career.

We’ve gotten together many times since then in various places and we typically wind up sitting around, enjoying adult beverages, and reminiscing about the time Christine pulled a ham leg out of the trash outside the Cathedral and used it as a mic to interview randos on the street about their views on abortion rights, or the time most of us decided it’d be a good idea to go to the beach for the weekend with dudes we’d just met and were all perfectly ok getting in the back of a white, windowless van with no seats – the exact kind you imagine sexual predators drive around in – to get there. In the e-mails planning this reunion, we all claimed we didn’t do much drinking anymore and that we’d like to get a run or two in over the weekend and maybe spend a day at the climbing gym. All bullshit. We didn’t get into to same kind of shenanigans we usually do – getting drunk and playfully harassing strangers – after all, one of the ladies is newly preggers. But we did spend the bulk of the weekend sitting in various establishments, drinking, and talking about everything from why (almost) all of us refuse to read Fifty Shades of Grey to what really happens to your nipples during pregnancy and, as always, what the hell we are all going to do with our lives next.

I certainly polluted my person with rich food and plenty of alcohol, but there is something cleansing about spending time with your true friends – with whom you can just let go. At least that’s what I’m telling myself for now to make me feel better about my failed (nonexistent) attempt at a cleanse. I’ll detox with Bikram yoga and plenty of wheatgrass juice one of these days, but today is not that day.