Ginger Old Fashioned

IMG_1638

Hello, my name is Sara Lynn, and I am a young NYC man living in the year 1958 a 20-something woman who loves Old Fashioned cocktails.  But you can call me Don Draper.

Today, I will be sharing my favorite Old Fashioned recipe, because it’s my birthday, and I will be celebrating with Bourbon, Angostura bitters, and orange peel all night long if I have my way.  However, I’ll try to sneak a lemon drop or Manhattan in, so I can feel like Carrie Bradshaw.  I may have an identity crisis at the end of the night, but so be it.  Tonight is for celebration and cake and drinks with my friends!

Last summer while I was in London, the beers and ciders became kind of mundane after my 200th IPA.  One night, a group of (other) Nevada students and I went to a bar down the road from our dorm where I asked the bartender if they could mix cocktails.  Ignoring the slightly dubious look in the recent high-school-grad-of-a-bartender’s eyes, I asked for an old fashioned, which he then responded with, “What’s in it?”.  It was then that I learned that old fashioneds are American cocktails, and that England is strictly for wine, beer, and cider.  Message received.

I had an old fashioned when I flew home to the states, and while London is my absolute favorite place in the world, I’d really love if they would learn the finesse of an old fashioned.  (Or, if I just ended up at the wrong spot, if a local could recommend a good place for some whiskey).  However, since the first time I tried an old fashioned, I’ve been obsessed and haven’t looked back.

My first old fashioned was made with Bulleit bourbon and served out of a Tigger coffee mug around Christmas time while it snowed outside.  That’s a true story.  I’ve come a long way since then, but I can’t say that scenario won’t reoccur.  I am in college after all, and sometimes Disney coffee mugs are the only vehicle for alcoholic beverages.  However, I still do not own whiskey mugs, so discount water glasses bought at Home Goods will have to do for now.  The classic old fashioned is made with sugar cubes, Angostura bitters, citrus peel, ice, and Bourbon.  However, with the warmer weather, I decided to twist it up with some grenadine and Ginger Ale to make it a little more summery.  I love slow-sipping drinks, and I definitely think this one is perfect for an outdoor BBQ.

If you are more of a traditionalist, you can make the recipe the classic way without the Ginger Ale, maraschino cherries, and grenadine.  Or, if you like a drier drink, you can sub Club Soda for Ginger Ale.  If you’re having a party, you can leave these ingredients out for people to make their own Old Fashioned cocktails while you cook or talk with your friends. Old Fashioneds are forgiving and appealing to most cocktail-drinkers, so I consider them the perfect party drink.

IMG_1633

IMG_1626

old fashioned

As a bday present to me, please make this Old Fashioned tonight (or order one at your favorite bar 😉 )

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Dreaming by Seapony

 

Advertisements

The Twenties: I Can’t Even Commit to Getting a Damn Hedgehog

IMG_1515
I don’t have a hedgehog, but here’s a picture of my dog, Sophie.

Last night, I had a dream that I got a pet hedgehog that talked to me.  Honestly, I like to believe that in my dream, she was my sidekick, but I actually don’t really remember the dream that well except that at one point, my hedgehog got stuck in a PVC pipe in my kitchen and was yelling, “Sara, help me, I’m stuck!” and I had to squeeze her out of the pipe.  Also, why was there a big PVC pipe in my kitchen?

Actually, no, why was the hedgehog talking?

I digress.  There’s a backstory to this.

For the past few years, I have really been wanting to get a dog.  I looooove dogs, and my house has always felt lonely without one.  However, I have big dreams of traveling after college, and at this time in my life I’m not home consistently, so I decided a dog is not the best choice for me at the moment.  Then a few weeks ago, I saw a picture of a hedgehog on Instagram, and this is another part that I don’t actually remember, but I guess that I must have become obsessed with them in the meantime, because lately I just cannot stop thinking about hedgehogs.  They are the cutest little roly polies, and apparently (from my extensive amounts of research), they’re also quiet, and odorless, and they’re totally low maintenance.  The perfect animal for a busy student.

So why can’t I commit to actually getting one?!

Okay, for starters, they’re like expensive hamsters.  They require the same materials, but since they’re exotic, they’re a good $200 more than hamsters.  However, they’re much cuter and friendlier, so I think it would be worth it.  However, I really do not think it is the price that is stopping me from getting a hedgehog but more the fact that I can’t even keep a damn succulent alive.  With my last pokey plant, I over-watered the thing a.k.a. I loved it too much, and it died.  Moral of the story: If I can’t keep a pokey plant alive, how do I keep a pokey animal alive?  I’m sure a living, moving thing would remind me to feed it and clean out its cage, but what if I hug it too tight or something?  Plus, apparently hedgehogs have to be kept in a 60*-75* F temperature constantly, and how do you regulate these things?  These are real life, first-world, Millennial problems, people.

Lastly, I have been trying to think of a punny hedgehog name for the past couple of days, and I really cannot think of one.  I simply cannot get a hedgehog until I have a fantastic name.

Anyways, I’ll probably end up getting a hedgehog at some point, but only when I stop being so crazy about it.  (Please note: I am NOT an indecisive person ever, so I don’t know how to deal with my feelings when I have an indecisive moment.  But hedgehogs are living things, you know?)

Any hedgehog owners out there?  Advice?  Thoughts?  How do you keep your hedgie warm?

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Wake Up by Arcade Fire

SF Coffee Recommendations

DSC_0518

As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, San Francisco is one of my favorite places to visit.  The foggy weather, public art, trendy restaurants, and bearded men get me every time.  Plus the coffee.  Because, as you also know if you’ve been following me for a while, I LOVE COFFEE.  Like, a lot.  So naturally, I have to write a post about my favorite coffee places.

Before I begin, let me first give you some of my qualifications.  1. It usually has to be specialty coffee.  I say “usually”, because of the “never say never” rule, and I can’t promise that I’ll never write about a non-specialty coffee shop.  For more info about specialty coffee, see here. 2. I have to be impressed by not only their coffee, but also by their employees and atmosphere.  That may not be fair, since really it’s all about the coffee, but there’s something to be said about the other aspects, too.  If I’m visiting a coffee shop on vacation, I probably want to hang out for a little while, and the atmosphere and employees should be pleasant.  3. I have to want to visit again.  I’ve been to specialty coffee shops that I’ve thought were okay, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit again.  To make the list, it has to be a place I want to spend a lot of time at.

And there you go!  The list will be pretty short, because not all the places I visited were list-worthy, and I also didn’t get to make it to all of the shops I planned on visiting.  However, I’ll update this list as I continue to visit SF 🙂

P.S. These are in no particular order.

1. Beacon Coffee & Pastry

If you’re staying near Fisherman’s Wharf, Beacon is a short walk away from most of the hotels and shops.  It was about an eight minute walk from our hotel, so not the closest, but definitely close enough for this coffee snob.  Their beans are roasted by Sightglass (see below), and they have great espresso drinks and a few snacks.  If you’re looking for a close, relaxing place to spend your morning before a day of shopping or tourist-ing, this is a great choice.  (Oops!  I forgot to snap a pic).

Beacon Website: http://www.beacon-sf.com/

2. Stanza Coffee Bar

Stanza is a cute, minimalist coffee shop in the middle of The Haight.  I love Haight Ashbury area, because they have really good food, some great thrift shops, and a killer record store that always has amazing finds.  I had never seen a specialty coffee shop there until this trip (I’m not sure how long Stanza has been there), so I was thrilled to see one! My recommendation would be a cappuccino.  Served the only specialty way, with silky foam.

Tip: They have another location in The Mission as well.

stanza
Me and my cute mom enjoy capps at Stanza.  The only picture I got!

Stanza’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stanzasf/info/?entry_point=page_nav_about_item&tab=page_info

3. Sightglass Coffee

This was my second trip to Sightglass, and I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first.  I have only been to their 7th Street location, but I imagine their other locations are just as beautiful.  The cool part about their 7th Street location is that it is where they roast their coffee, and there are 2 stories, so you can watch the action happening below.  They had Ethiopian coffee, which has been difficult to come by this summer in Reno, so I was beyond stoked.  They also have really great espresso drinks.  Plus, they have cool swag for sale – it’s where I got my amazing Chemex pin pictured above!

Tip: They have locations in The Mission, The SF Farmer’s Market, SFMOMA, and soon on Divisadero!

DSC_0513
The roaster roasting.
DSC_0515
The baristas baristaing. (Creeper Confession: The guy in the blue shirt is so nice!!)
DSC_0509
The coffee situation upstairs.
DSC_0505
Wait, do they rent offices across from the upstairs bar area?  How do I get one?!
DSC_0508
The star of the show.

Sightglass website: https://sightglasscoffee.com/.

4. Four Barrel Coffee

Four Barrel is probably my favorite SF coffee to date.  Their Valencia shop has a lot of energy, local art, cool staff, and (of course) amazing coffee.  Honestly, it’s a good thing I don’t live anywhere near this neighborhood, because I would spend all of my tip money (unless they want to hire me?  Yes?  YES?!).  Anyways, aside from their fantastic marketing, mugs, and (duh) coffee, they have adorable coffee roasters.  I watched them dance when they weren’t looking (Creeper Confession #2).  However, I don’t think they would mind my watching.

Side note true story: They had this mug in their shop for the longest time that I loved, because it really embraced my personality.  Right when I decided to buy it, they went out of stock.  SO MANY TEARS.  See mug here.

Tip: They have locations at The Mill and in Portola!

DSC_0498
Dancing roasters in the way back.
DSC_0490
My coffee + my elbow

Four Barrel website: http://fourbarrelcoffee.com/.

My next stops include Blue Bottle and Ritual (which I’ve actually been to before, but I don’t really remember…)!  Any good SF coffee recommendations?

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Out of Tune by Real Estate *
…because I got to watch Real Estate perform this live while on holiday!

The Perks of Being a Wildflower

DSC_0600

When I was younger, I loved looking up the symbols of birth months – birth stones, astrological symbols, birth flowers; being a July baby: ruby, Leo, larkspur.  But, I was never all that excited about my birth flower, not compared to April with sweet peas or August with lilies.  I never saw my birth flower growing wildly in fields near my cabin in Utah or daintily posed in the floral section of the grocery in puffy bouquets sprayed with dense TDZ.  I had no idea what a larkspur was, and I had completely forgot about them, right until recently when, while scrolling through the Travel Nevada Instagram, I noticed a picture featuring a vibrant, purple field of flowers with an orange sunset setting the scene.  Larkspurs!  I had finally found them, and they were so close!  I was (clearly) excited, until I reached my destination and realized I was actually looking at…

Lupines.

Also, I had missed prime lupine season, so all I was going to find after an hour drive to Lake Tahoe at 7 p.m. after an 8 hour shift was a bunch of green bushes with a few leftover purple flowers slowly closing for the season.  But never the matter.  I was at the lake, it was a beautiful day, and fields of green and purple are even better than just fields of purple, in my personal opinion.  However, my favorite color has been green my whole life, so I may be biased.

DSC_0532

DSC_0549

DSC_0559

DSC_0531

DSC_0599

Apparently, the best time to visit the lupines is in June, when the weather is warm, the lake is higher, and the water can reach the bushes.  There are fuzzy, mostly-black bees swarming the flowers, and little orangey-red ladybugs fly around with them.  I also found a tiny, secluded beach where the wildflowers are abundant, and I spent a quiet evening relaxing in the sand and watching the sunset.  After a few hours at the beach, I stopped by one of my favorite local pizza places, Wild Garlic, where I had cheese pizza with plenty of jalapenos, ranch, and honey (for the crust.  A Reno thing, I believe).  After a long day at work, I was very excited to relax and enjoy some me time, especially in such a serene place.

DSC_0567

DSC_0588

DSC_0614

DSC_0558

DSC_0542

DSC_0555

Pictured here: My new Lucky dress, which is definitely a favorite. Similar.
My old, trusty lace TOMS that I wore to my high school prom years ago. Similar.
Jewelry made by my aunt 🙂

If you’re visiting Reno or Tahoe, and want some good local recommendations, feel free to reach out!  I’d love to share my favorite spots 🙂

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Asleep by The Smiths

 

High-Altitude (and Sea-Level) Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

IMG_1491

My life of late has been one big mess of a situation, and normally when that happens, I like to revert to simplicity rather than complicate things with multiple different factors.  Aside from a number of other difficult life events happening, last week I lost my grandmother unexpectedly.  Don’t worry though, this isn’t going to be a gloomy post :).  While of course I am incredibly sad, I also have some amazing memories of my grandma, growing up visiting her ranch out in Washoe, Nevada and riding horses.  My grandma loved Native American history and traveled around Nevada for archaeological digs. She had a huge passion for animals, particularly horses and dogs, and she loved making large, comforting meals for the family – and the dogs.  True story.  One time, my aunt had a friend over, and when she learned that the 2 roasted chickens resting peacefully on the counter were for the dogs, she may have lost her faith in humanity.

However, that was my grandma.  She was quiet, but she always made me laugh with her simple, non-obvious sense of humor.  Before we went shopping one day, we were walking out the door, and she raised her fist in the air and said with passionate spirit, “Let’s go kill something!”.  She could go to Sephora and spend $400 on just eyeshadow and nail polish.  She loved going to restaurants and talking to me about my plans for my education and travel.  She taught me to never take no for an answer.

And yellow cake with chocolate buttercream was her favorite cake.  She passed that on to the whole Hunt family, and aside from a special recipe for chocolate cake, this was always a family favorite that I associated with my grandma.

IMG_1497

IMG_1495

Going back to simplicity, I think yellow cake with chocolate frosting is one of those classic recipes that everybody has some kind of connection with.  I love when food has a story behind it, and I definitely can think of happy memories behind this recipe.

Since moving to Reno, I have not been able to make a normal cake without it sinking and turning crusty.  I can make any other type of baked good, and it comes out beautifully, but cake does not come out ever.  I have since resorted to using high-altitude cake recipes, which at first I was sad about, because I have a perfect sea-level cake recipe, but luckily, I was able to find an amazing high-altitude cake recipe that I have tweaked to my liking.  It’s super easy, delicious, simple, and adaptable.  (But no worries!  If you live at sea-level, I have those adjustments for you also).

IMG_1481

IMG_1499

*Adapted from Good Life Eats

cupcakes

Sea-level adjustments: Use 1 Tbs. baking powder, 1 1/4 c. buttermilk, and 1 1/2 c. sugar.  Bake at 350*F for 14-16 minutes.

Cheers to an amazing lady.  I love you Gram!

XO SaraLynn

*Song of the Day: Songbird by Fleetwood Mac

The Twenties: What is this?

DSC_0415-1

For those who have been following me for some time, you probably know that I like to share little snippets of my life on the blog.  Most of the time, I’m talking about feminism or my struggles with anxiety or just weird things that I come across, but lately, things have been unusually hard in my personal life concerning career goals, relationships, family, adulting, and the like.  This is totally not new to any twenty-something that has ever lived.  Honestly, it’s no secret that the twenties are an ever-evolving, revolutionary time period that everyone experiences.  Like, shit, 80% of sitcoms on TV are dedicated to the portrayal of the twenty-somethings’ lives.  For unknown reasons, people think we’re a fascinating species, but really I think it’s just that we’re relatable.

I have to admit that I have not been in my twenties for very long, so by no means am I an expert.  However, I’ve always thought that your twenties start when you move out on your own (in my case 18) and pretty much last until you’re in your thirties (or when you get married/buy a house/have kids?  I don’t really know).  What I’m trying to say is that I have noticed the struggles of the twenties in my personal life starting at 18 and even in some of my older friends that are now in their thirties but are still experiencing the same stuff they were dealing with 8 years ago.  This is a period of our lives where half the people we know have toddlers and engagement rings while the other half woke up half-naked on the front lawn of a frat house covered in profane Sharpie doodles.  Which leads to my question: What is this?  What are our twenties?!  We watch our childhood friends graduate college, get careers, become someone’s wife, become someone’s dad.  We struggle with our career choices, dating, an onset of health problems we thought we wouldn’t have for another 20 years (why do I always have heartburn?!), learning how to like green juice and drag our ass to the gym in the morning pre-coffee.  The twenties are difficult, and I won’t believe otherwise, but I’ve also been told that it’s the best time of my life.

See, I have this issue where I’m currently in college, and everyone is telling me, “Make it last as long as you can.  You’ll never get this time back.  After college, it’s just work and paying bills.  Yadayadayada”.  However, I truly do not believe I am currently living the best part of my life.  And for the love of God, if this is my peak, I’m just going to stop now.  I can tell you for sure that, while I have truly enjoyed college and life during, I have also had some of my worst anxiety and sadness over the past few years.  There are days where I want to stay in college forever and days where I can’t wait to be set in my career.  It’s a battle, but I try to learn from the hard days and cherish the good ones.  I want more than anything to have the best time of my life during the twenties, and I really do believe that it’s going to happen, but I guess I’m kind of just wondering when that will be?  (Patience is not my forte, have you noticed?)  I have to say, as of right now, I’m not super impressed with my twenties, but I also had set myself up to believe that everything was going to be perfect by this time in my life.  Every time something good happens, I think “This is it!” until it isn’t.  However, I’ve already learned so much from dealing with more difficult aspects of life, and I know that with persistence, I’ll find what I’m looking for (and if anyone is persistent, it’s me).  I’m working on getting out of my head a bit, opening up, and not taking myself so seriously.  This has been a problem in the past.  While physically I’m in my twenties, my personality is far into her thirties.  I must disclose this, because my opinions may not be completely accurate of a twenty-something, although obviously this varies person-to-person.  While my thirty-something personality can sometimes be a drag on my younger self (when I feel like my life is not progressing fast enough, when I would rather stay home than go out, when I put insane amounts of pressure on myself at work or in school), it has also had a lot of benefits (I have formed adult relationships, I set goals, I know – basically – what I’m looking for in life).

I want to stress that I am not here to judge or psychoanalyze anyone like I’m some kind of expert on living-life-to-the-fullest or learning how to be your “best self”.  I’m just here to share observations in my usual satirical way.  The twenties are hard and confusing, and honestly, I don’t quite know what I’m doing with my life.  I’m just looking to share some of my experiences while I navigate whatever it is that I’m looking for.  I want this to be humorous at times and therapeutic in others.  Hopefully, I’ll find some people who can relate, and we’ll swap war stories.

If you have any good advice or thoughts, please feel free to share.  I’ll be here in my minuscule corner of the internet attempting to finish my degree, find love, and actually remember to put gas in my car before I’m running late to an important event.

Cheers to the twenties, ya’ll.

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: The Modern Age by The Strokes

 

Mixed Berry Pie

IMG_1469

I have the tendency to delve into projects that require far more time than I had ever anticipated.  I usually know what I’m getting myself into and enter an inner-cranium deliberation with myself.  It normally goes along the lines of: “Hey!  I have a great idea to make this really beautiful thing, and yeah it will probably take an hour or two of my life, but in the end, I will be so proud of this beautiful, wonderful thing that I made and everyone will think I’m great!”.  And then instead of taking one or two hours, it takes three or four or ten.  In this case, it was hand-cutting stars out of pie dough, because apparently it’s totally obtuse to believe that I could find a star-shaped cookie cutter within a week of the Fourth of July.  I’m not sure if it has to do with them being sold out or that there’s just no demand for star shaped scraps of metal, but there were no stars to be found, so it was back to the drawing board.

IMG_1447IMG_1471

You see guys and gals, here’s how it goes.  I get an idea in my mind, and once it’s there, it will not leave.  So when I started seeing beautiful freedom-inspired pies taking up the likes of Instagram and Pinterest, all hope for a simple double crust pie with some slits across the top was lost.  I needed stripes.  I needed stars.  And it had to be red, white, and blue.  I found a particular pie that would inspire my own (I believe it was from Williams and Sanoma) that was cut to look like an American flag.  It was beautiful and picturesque, and I thought “How hard can this be?”.  That’s when the star escapade came to be, and I realized how hard it actually can be and that a star-shaped cookie cutter was not in the…stars… :I

IMG_1442

IMG_1460

After getting slightly frustrated, I determined that I was just going to wing it, since that’s how I’ve essentially been living my life for the past year or so.  I rolled out the pie crust and started cutting it into strips.  In that moment, I taught myself how to lattice a pie, and trust me I realize this is probably not the correct Martha Stewart-esque way to do it, but listen, that’s just not how my life goes.  And then I started cutting out little stars by hand, and while they did take a while, it really wasn’t that bad.  Once you get a hang of it, they go pretty quick.  I’d say to cut out 12 stars took about 20 minutes.  I lightly traced little stars (like you used to draw in elementary school) using a fondant cutter, although a knife would work too, and then I just cut around the edge.  And everything was okay.

Also by hand-cutting my stars, my pie is now artisan, right?

IMG_1446IMG_1451

As for the pie, I just mixed a bunch of berries that I had around the house together with some sugar, tapioca starch, and lemon.  I have to say, this pie is amazingly delicious, especially since I completely winged the recipe.  I used strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries, but you could use any combo of berries you like.  Also, my pie was slightly tart, so feel free to add more sugar.  For a juicier pie, use less tapioca starch.

P.S. You can use cornstarch instead of tapioca starch if that’s all you have on hand.  However, I am firmly team tapioca starch, because I think it makes a more stable pie.

recipecard - Copy

Happy 4th ♥

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: American Girl by Tom Petty