Pomegranate Brown Derby Cocktail

This Brown Derby Cocktail combines whiskey and grapefruit, with a splash of pomegranate, for a tart twist on a classic.  It’s my favorite cocktail in the Autumn and Winter!

Pomegranate Brown Derby | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Pomegranate Brown Derby

My favorite bar in Reno is one of the first bars I ever (legally 😬) went to.  It’s dark and moody with an entire wall of crystal bottles filled with amber liquids.  The bartenders wear vests, there’s a pool table in the corner, and it always smells like smokey whiskey.  I have many favorite nights from this bar laughing way too loud with my friends, drinking one too many drinks, and then doing it all again the next weekend.  I would say this happens less often now that I’m not in college, although it is still my favorite place to grab a drink after dinner on the weekend.

The first time I went there was my 21st birthday.  It was a Monday, already pretty late at night, and considering this is not a college bar, we had the whole place to ourselves.  I remember the bartender’s name was Charlie, and upon hearing that it was my 21st (and that I am obsessed with coffee), he pulled a dark bottle down from the shelf.  It was a coffee-flavored liqueur, similar to Kahlua, but much better.  We took a shot together, and then I continued to play pool with my friend.  (Side note: It was my first time playing pool, and even though my friend still hasn’t admitted it, I know he let me win).

Pomegranate Brown Derby | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Brown Derby with Pomegranate

Over the years, I have gone to this bar time and time again, and I still think they have some of the best whiskey cocktails.  Their old-fashioned is one of my all-time favorite drinks.  But, one night in college, probably while wearing a LBD and some T-strap heels, I was not in the mood for an old-fashioned.  I asked the bartender to make me a drink with whiskey.  Any drink he wanted to make.  I watched this tattooed, vest-sporting bartender with a mustache make a tiny orange-ish pink drink.  He slid it across the bar, “Brown derby”.

And then my life changed, because never had I known that grapefruit + whiskey is the best thing ever.  It has become my signature drink.

Pomegranate Brown Derby

As much as I love going out, I don’t always feel like putting on pants (yay adult life).  So, I decided to learn how to make a delicious brown derby cocktail just like my favorite bar.  Because I wanted a pink drink, I added some tart pomegranate juice, and wowww.  Grapefruit and pomegranate belong together.  It has my favorite cozy autumn flavors I crave while still being refreshing.  I’m going to bottle some up and bring it to allllll the parties.

On a side note, what are you being for Halloween?  I thought about making Marc a hanging chad costume and breaking out my inner slutty pumpkin again, but idk.  (Any How I Met Your Mother fans, or did that just go over everyone’s head??)  It’s much more likely that I’ll revert to my usual Rosie the Riveter or go for a costume that I already have easily laying around my house.  Any ideas?  What should I beeeee?!

Brown Derby Cocktail



xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Inside Out by Spoon

This Pomegranate Brown Derby combines bourbon, grapefruit, & pomegranate for a refreshing autumn cocktail.
Pomegranate Brown Derby | Serendipity by Sara Lynn

Everything Bagel Popcorn

Everything Bagel Popcorn with Everything Spice & Nutritional Yeast

Growing up, one of my all-time favorite things to do was spend the night at my grandparent’s house.  My grandma and I would sew, take a ride in the golf cart, and have tea parties.  My grandpa would buy me ice cream and take me to breakfast after church on Sunday mornings.  Whatever sports game he was watching would blare throughout the house, and every time I smell Listerine, I think of my grandpa.  He has a green comb that he keeps on a side table next to his recliner.  My grandma has a violin hanging on a velvet backdrop across the room.  My grandparents have lived in this house my whole life, and it’s still one of my most comforting, happy places. Continue reading “Everything Bagel Popcorn”

Potato Wedges with Zhoug + Garlic Aioli

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Let’s play a quick game of Family Feud where we take lots of creative liberties!  In this scenario, I am both Steve Harvey and the audience.  The topic in question: What does Sara put on top of food when she doesn’t want her meal to be a basic bitch?

If you answers were to put an egg on it, cover it in yogurt, or douse it in ketchup, you would be correct!!  And for bonus points: drench it in zhoug sauce.  Have you ever tried this stuff?  It’s so good I could eat it with a giant soup spoon.  Zhoug is a Yemenis hot sauce made out of peppers + herbs usually served with falafel.  I used to only eat it on shawarma, but now I use it on everything.  Every once in a while, I will make a big batch for the week to marinate chicken, add to a little mayo for sandwiches, or dip veggies in.

For Easter yesterday, we had a big family dinner with ham, scalloped potatoes, marinated asparagus, rolls, and a carrot salad that I can’t wait to post soon!  Oh, and the aforementioned traditional strawberry shortcakes 😬 I wore one of my absolute favorite spring dresses and drank Moscow Mules while my little cousin looked for Easter eggies.  After, I took Bell on a long walk during sunset and then watched Hitch while destroying my tongue on a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs that were on sale.  It was a perfect day!  And now I have a bunch of ham for sammiches, and I’m putting zhoug on those sammiches, don’t try and stop me!!

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A few years ago, when SSL was a baby blog, I was really into these recipes touting descriptions such as “low-fat”, “sugar-free”, “healthy”, blah, blah, blah everything that I now hate.  Seventeen Magazine and Pinterest had me convinced that these ingredients were healthy for me even though I could actually taste the chemicals in them.  Not that I don’t post healthy recipes anymore, but now instead of using a bunch of processed shit (like low-fat Cool Whip ugh), I make recipes that are naturally healthy and wholesome and don’t have ingredients like hydrogenated vegetable oil!  Anyways, at one point, I had posted this recipe for “healthy potato chips with low-fat garlic aioli”, and even though that description gives me shivers now, the recipe was actually pretty decent.  The greatest offender in the ingredient list was low-fat mayo which…I don’t know I guess could be worse??  And, the picture was taken with probably an iPhone 4 and was blurry.  I’ve come a long way since then, but the other day, I accidentally came across the recipe and decided to recreate it!  This time, I decided to make the potatoes wedges, because there’s more surface area for crispiness, and I added the zhoug sauce, because potatoes need it.  Also, I’ve included some ~hip~ new tips to make those potatoes super crispy without deep frying, so this is perfectly healthy for a weeknight meal yay!

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Potato Wedges with Zhoug + Garlic Aioli
Serves 4

Potato Wedges

2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
1/4 c. flavorless oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut potatoes into 8 wedges.  Place potato wedges in a bowl of cold, salted water.  Let soak for a couple hours over overnight. This will make the wedges super crispy!

Preheat oven to 400*F.  After soaking potatoes, drain and add to a pot of boiling water.  Boil for about 6 minutes, or until you can just pierce potatoes with a fork – they should not be mushy.  Drain well.

Toss potatoes with oil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes.  Flip potatoes and cook for another 20-25 minutes until crisp.  Serve with aioli and zhoug!

Zhoug Sauce

2 c. cilantro
1 c. parsley
2-5 jalapenos, depending on spice preference*
3 cloves garlic
Zest + juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. cumin
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. olive oil

In a food processor, combine cilantro, parsley, jalapenos, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Pulse until everything is chopped up.  While the processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil until combined.  Serve.

*Sometimes I use 2, which doesn’t yield a super spicy sauce.  I’d say my favorite is 4.  If you’re super sensitive to spice, just use 1.  You can take the seeds out if you prefer, but I leave them in!

Garlic Aioli

1/4 c. mayo or plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 c. parmesan, shredded
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine mayo or Greek yogurt, lemon juice, cayenne, parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Whisk in olive oil.  Serve.


xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Cutlass Cruiser by TOPS

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Blueberry-Almond Skillet Cake + Jord Wooden Watch Giveaway!

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Reno just finished second winter.  It’s like when hobbits eat second breakfast, but in this scenario, Reno is a hobbit and winter is breakfast.  Normally, I’m totally pro-snow, but the combination of negative temperatures, daylight savings, and sudden warm weather mixed with a doctor’s recommendation to tone down the caffeine has turned me into an unmotivated Doughboy who only wears baggy sweatpants.  But, Sunday was the first official warm day of the year, so to celebrate, I made a cake, packed up my favorite vintage tablecloth, and headed to the arboretum for a brunch/picnic. I wore a sundress and even got a bit pink from the sun! After, I went to my favorite coffeeshop and enjoyed a cappuccino in front of the Truckee.  It was ~perfect~.

Picnics have always been the epitome of spring, in my opinion.  When I was little, my mom would have picnics for us practically on a weekly basis.  (One of the perks of growing up in Vegas – picnic weather is year-round). In some ways, I think it was a way to avoid making a mess in the kitchen at lunch, but I also think it was just her fun way of entertaining me and my little brother.  We had these super strange, tiny grass hills in my childhood home — I would probably actually call them lumps — and they were my favorite picnic spot. I have a very specific memory of a lunch that consisted mostly of Goldfish crackers and those rainbow-colored Nilla wafers that tasted like food coloring.  Those were the good days before we acknowledged how bad Red 40 is for your insides.

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Now, my brunch tastes are slightly more refined and consist only of homemade food that is filled with all kinds of organic, Red 40-free ingredients.  It almost makes me feel ok about eating cake for breakfast while the athletes of Reno jog around my picnic blanket. This brunch in particular consisted of my croque madame galettes, lots of fresh coffee, oj, skillet cake, and red fruit salad!  

For the skillet cake, I made one of my favorite desserts ever.  It’s filled with almonds and blueberries and kind of looks like a giant muffin, which essentially makes it a breakfast food.  However, it’s also perfect for a spring BBQ or basically any time you need to use up some berries ASAP. The hardest part of the recipe is flipping it from the skillet to a plate, and even that isn’t really a requirement.

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One of my favorite parts of spring is getting to bust out all of my sundresses and fun accessories.  By the end of the cold season, I get a little lazy with the whole “getting dressed” aspect of adult life, and I tend to rely exclusively on oversized sweaters.  When you spend your days getting splattered with coffee, climbing rocks in Lake Tahoe, and spilling cookie dough all over yourself, high-quality, durable pieces are a must!  I’ve been looking into updating my wardrobe with some more staple pieces lately, so it was perfect timing when Jord asked me to be a part of their spring campaign! Jord makes a series of unique mens’ and ladies’ wooden watches, and they’re so beautiful!  I’ve actually been wanting to buy a watch for forever, but I was never able to find one that matched my style or looked good on my petite frame. I’m not a super blingy girl, so the organic, simplicity of the wood was perfect for me.

Another bonus was the option to get a personalized, engraved watch.   I chose to get some lyrics from “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty engraved on the back of mine.  The song has a lot of meaning to me, and having it on the back of my watch is so special.

If you love these wooden watches as much as I do, enter my Jord giveaway for the chance to win $100 off a watch!  Even if you don’t win, you still get 10% off just by registering. To enter the contest, click here. The giveaway will be announced on April 1!

P.S. Pretty watches also double as fancy cake timers!


Blueberry-Almond Skillet Cake
Serves 8

Ingredients

10 Tbs. butter, softened and divided
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 c. sliced almonds
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. blueberries

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  Butter and flour a 10-inch skillet.

Mix 6 Tbs. with the sugar until creamy.  Add eggs one at a time until incorporated, and then mix in extracts.

Mix in half the flour and half the buttermilk, and then repeat with remaining ingredients.  Fold in 2/3 c. almonds.

Melt remaining 4 Tbs. butter.  Stir in brown sugar, and mix with blueberries.  Spread in pan, and sprinkle remaining almonds over the blueberries.  Cover with the cake batter.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.

Cool, flip onto a plate, and serve with cream or ice cream.


Xo Sara Lynn

Thanks so much to Jord for sponsoring this post!  As always, all thought and opinions are my own. I am wearing the the Cassia series watch in zebra and ivory.  Make sure to check out their other products too! Shop Women’s watchesShop Men’s watches.

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Wooden Wrist Watch

Pumpkin + Sage Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

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While Insta has proven to me that the ~hip~ people of the world have been spending their weekends partying in bunny costumes, I have spent mine doing laundry, petting my hedgehog, and watching Stranger Things.  *raises the roof*.  I just got back from Toronto, where my friend Stephen took me to all kinds of breweries, Niagara Falls, aaaaand (!!) I had poutine for the first time!  Where can I get poutine in Reno??  I need it more frequently in my life!  Usually when it comes to deep-frying foods at home, I dodge it like it’s hot (the messssss), but for poutine, I might be willing to pull out all the stops.  Or maybe I can rig it with some extra-crispy tater tots right out of the oven?  Canadians: would that be sacrilege??

On another note, I will be spending my Halloween night eating white chili with my cousins and taking the kids trick-or-treating!  I found an amazing vintage 1960s dress at a thrift store the other day that I was planning on utilizing in my costume, but now that I’ll be walking around in the cold weather, I’m thinking of pulling out my classic Rosie the Riveter costume and calling it a day.  It’s almost a tradition at this point after all.

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A couple of weeks ago, I surprised my parents for their birthdays by coming home from London a week earlier than I told them.  (Although, they did end up going on vacation for their birthdays, so I had to pretend I was still in England for a few extra days yikes!).  I showed up at their front door and rang the doorbell cake-in-hand.  They were so excited, we went to a delicious steakhouse for dinner, and then we celebrated with this cake for dessert!  It was exactly what I wanting, and they loved their birthday present (me, obvs).  This cake was the perfect addition: a lightly sweetened pumpkin cake with a touch of sage flavor and a sticky brown sugar icing that tastes faintly of caramel and butter.  It’s the perfect fall dessert and makes a great addition to a Halloween party or even a Thanksgiving dessert table (it has sage in it after all!).  Plus, you can decorate it like a pumpkin or turkey or something if you really want to make it festive.  Obviously, I went the easy way with a few sage leaves and a rustic ‘happy birthday’ sign.  Have a spooky night!


Pumpkin + Sage Cake with Brown Sugar Icing
Serves 6-8

*Cake is for High-Altitude baking.  Please refer to alternative measurements if you do not live at high-altitude!*

Cake Ingredients

1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. + 6 Tbs. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder*
1/2 tsp. baking soda**
1 egg
1/2 c. Tbs. buttermilk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Grease and flour two 6-inch cake pans.  Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl.  In a medium bowl, cream the brown sugar, sugar, egg, buttermilk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.  Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk.  Then add the remaining flour mixture and milk.  Divide the batter between the two cake pans.

Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick shows a few crumbs.  Let the cakes cool.  Meanwhile prepare the icing (below).  Level each cake, and cut each cake in half so you have 4 even layers.  Spread frosting between each layer, stacking them until there are 4 cake layers.  Frost the outside of the cake.  Decorate as desired.

* Use 3/4 tsp. baking powder for regular-altitude recipes.
**Use 3/4 tsp. baking soda for regular-altitude recipes.

Icing Ingredients

1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. milk
1 3/4 – 2 c. powdered sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add brown sugar.  Boil over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Cool to lukewarm – add milk.  Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat until thick.  If it becomes too stiff, add a little hot water to thin.  Frost over cake!

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xo Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Atmosphere by Joy Division

 

 

Beef Sliders with White Cheddar + Bacon + Peach-Bourbon BBQ Sauce

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Well guys, I’m graduated!!!  A couple weeks ago, I crossed the stage, didn’t even trip in my tallest heels, and I’ll be mailed my actual diploma in a few weeks time!  It was great.  The tradition at UNR is to go to the famous college bar, The Little Waldorf, before graduation and drink mimosas and maybe relive your most wonderful/awful times as a college student?  Idk, because I had never even been to The Wal until that day, but I was able to get past the sticky, beer-soaked floors that I’m sure have never been mopped, and my friends and I drank cheap champagne on empty stomachs and it was perfect.  After graduation, I stuffed my face with Thai food at our favorite local joint, and then after I attempted a nap, we had a huge graduation BBQ with my friends and family.  My parents ended up playing rage cage with all of us young kids, and also it was my first time playing!  Of course I had all of my college experiences the day I graduated.  But it was a super amazing time, everyone drank and had fun, and I got to sleep the whole next day with a less-than-fun hangover (shoutout to Gatorade for getting me through that one).

I’m off to Europe in less than two weeks (!!!), so I’m trying to enjoy some of my favorite Reno summertime activities before I leave.  Namely, Lake Tahoe, fun outdoor bars, and sitting at patios at cute local restaurants.  Also, I spent the last weekend in San Francisco drinking lots of coffee and cocktails with my cousin.  We even found a bar that had a “bondage” theme, and I was impressed.  Oh SF, I <3 u.

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Since I’m leaving so so soon, I’m trying to get all of my cooking in while I can.  Although I’m soooo excited to eat at wonderful European restaurants for 4 months, I also will miss the luxury of a kitchen, even though I’m sure my airbnb hosts will be accommodating if I really get the itch.  Namely, I’ve been taking advantage of my BBQ, because we just got a brand new sparkly one, and in the summertime, I’m pretty sure the only acceptable food is any that is BBQed.  The other day I was craving burgers like no other thing in the world, but I wanted something a little more creative than my standard beef-cheddar-veg-bun combo I normally go for.  I really love smashed burgers, but since it’s summer I have a difficult time cooking indoors when my brand new sparkly grill is in eyesight from my kitchen window.  Also, I really wanted something with BBQ sauce but not ribs or pulled pork, so I just combined everything into one package and then added bacon for good measure.

It’s a little more work to make the homemade BBQ sauce, but it’s honestly a super easy recipe and totally worth the effort.  However, if you really can’t be bothered, you can always buy some store-bought sauce, but you’ll probably miss out on peaches and bourbon which is not the kind of world I want to live in.

P.S. the BBQ sauce will make quite a bit, and you definitely won’t need all of it for the recipe.  You can either put it in jars and seal it (if that’s your thing) or you can use it for another recipe, but I’d use it within a week (or two if you’re willing to risk it, which I am).  This sauce would be perfect on pulled pork, ribs, or chicken.

Also, I served my burgers with wedge salad, but some oven fries would be amazing too.

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recipecard - Copy

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Warned You by Good Morning

Blood Orange Margarita

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It’s that perfect time of the year where citrus is at its absolute peak, and I stock my fruit bowl with clementines, limes, and grapefruit, my absolute favorite.  Although grapefruits are essentially available year round, January-February seems to be the time they get that very sweet, intense grapefruit flavor.  I usually end up eating so much of them that I get blisters in my mouth.  I would probably eat even more, except that I absolutely hate peeling/cutting/spooning out grapefruit, so that keeps me within my boundaries a little.  If anyone knows an easy way of dealing with grapefruit, I’m all ears, because it’s honestly the biggest pain.

Equal to grapefruit on my list of Citrus I Get Too Excited About is the blood orange.  I tend to forget about it every single year until the day I walk into the grocery and have the good fortune of spotting dark red oranges out of the corner of my eye.  I then buy at least a couple pounds of them, because I can think of endless ways to incorporate blood oranges into my favorite recipes.  Plus, their season is so short that you have to take advantage of the opportunity to buy multiple while you have the chance.

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If you’ve never experienced a blood orange, I highly encourage you to head to your local grocery, especially if you have a food co-op or health food shop that frequently carries seasonal ingredients, and buy at least a couple.  I know the name doesn’t necessarily sound appetizing, but the blood orange is one of the most beautiful fruits in my opinion.  The flavor is tart like a regular orange, but has sweeter berry-like tones.  My favorite part of blood oranges is how versatile they are – while they are perfectly delicious on their own, I prefer to take advantage of their beauty to use them in salads, desserts, and with a splash of tequila, because I’m fun like that.

My first round of blood oranges was used in an almond-blood orange cake that had a truly delicious, fresh flavor but lacked a textural component I was looking for.  Not to worry, I will continue to practice making this cake, even if I have to use regular oranges until next year…

I also threw some segments into a salad that I made for dinner, and of course I ate one or two on their own, but then I realized that blood oranges were made for alcohol.  The tart-sweet taste would blend perfectly with a little vodka or gin or tequila (!!!) so I decided to go for it, because life is short, and margaritas are good.  Plus, I was looking for a simple Valentine’s Day recipe that was not couple-y (because single, yo), but one that would also have the pretty V-Day colors I was looking for.  How fitting that blood oranges happen to show up in late January-early February, right as I’m trying to think of a drink to make for my Galentine’s celebration!  Yay for love and female friendships!

Also!  Whilst walking out of a grocery store alone at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday night carrying only a large bottle of tequila, I discovered one of the ultimate forms of self-loathing.  If you’re going to partake in these types of activities, I’d recommend also grabbing a bag of tortilla chips, some salsa, and maybe a puzzle, because it’ll earn you less judgmental stares, and it may even make you feel better about trying margarita recipes by yourself when you should be out socializing with friends.

Are you ready for some margarita action?!

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Further notes: If you can’t find blood oranges, because they are unavailable or not in season, go ahead and use regular oranges or another citrus if you’d prefer.  The recipe is perfectly versatile!

P.S. I chose my tequila based off of a list of “Best Cheap Tequilas” I found on the interweb while in the middle of the liquor aisle at my grocery store.  (In Nevada, they sell liquor at grocery stores, which I guess is shocking to some.  Born and raised Nevada-girl does not understand why this is surprising).  Use whichever tequila you have laying around the house, or go for a silver tequila made with 100% agave – just stay away from Jose.

P.P.S. How fun would it be to have a Mexican-food-night-Valentine’s-Day?!  If you don’t want to rush through dinner crowds, you could make some delicious carnitas (or order in), and have ruby-red, romantic margaritas with your lovie (or girlies or dog or….).  If you decide to have a Valentine’s Day-girl’s night, pls invite me, and I’ll make a big pitcher of blood orange margaritas to share.  Just promise me no weird anti-V-Day hooliganism, because I’ve already been to a singles party before, and I don’t need that in my life again.

XO Sara Lynn

*Song of the Day: Unfucktheworld by Angel Olsen