strawberry lavender vodka lemonade (& a mocktail!).

summer can’t come quickly enough! no but seriously, it can’t. i need some sun, sandals and swimming in my life as soon as possible, or i just might shrivel up. maybe the problem is that we aren’t in a summer mood yet? maybe summer is waiting for us to get on board? so i thought i’d help it along by sharing a recipe for a summertime cocktail that will either make you feel like you’re lounging at the lake, or will be the perfect choice for when you’re there.

i know. i know what you’re thinking. who’s going to trust a cocktail recipe from a pregnant lady? but just bear with me, because if there’s one thing i know, it’s drinks. and also, i happen to have a very willing taste-tester living with me, who is only too happy to taste the drinks i create. he says you’ll like this one.

the strawberries add just enough tartness and fruitiness (i’m also currently obsessed with them), while the lavender simple syrup adds some sweetness and a really unique flavor. i used pink lemonade in mine, just because it’s looks so pretty with the strawberries, but obviously you can use regular lemonade too. vodka adds a kick but lets the other flavors shine, and the result is a drink that looks as gorgeous as it tastes. it would be fun to try bourbon or gin for a different take on this, but i’m partial to this classic combo.

and for anyone looking for a delicious mocktail, whether it’s because you’re pregnant like me, or because you’re just craving a refreshing summer beverage, just omit the vodka, and voila! a delicious, non-alcoholic twist on lemonade!

strawberry lavender vodka lemonade recipe (makes 2)

  • 3/4 C. fresh strawberries (thawed frozen will work too) + more for garnish
  • 4 oz. vodka (omit to make this a delicious mocktail!)
  • 2 oz. lavender simple syrup*
  • 1-2 C. lemonade
  • ice

muddle quartered strawberries in a cocktail shaker with half the lavender simple syrup. add the remaining simple syrup and vodka and shake well. pour into 2 tall glasses** filled with ice. top with lemonade, garnish with a strawberry and enjoy, preferably on a sunny deck wearing flip-flops and fun sunglasses.

note: a standard american shot glass is 1.5 oz., so use a little over one shot for every 2 oz. the recipe calls for.

*lavender simple syrup recipe

  • 1 C. water
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 3 tsp. food-grade lavender buds

combine water, sugar and lavender in a small saucepan. bring to a boil and stir to ensure all the sugar is dissolved. remove from heat and let cool completely. when ready to use, strain the lavender out of the syrup. store in a small jar or other container in the fridge up to three weeks. (great in hot or iced coffee/tea as a sweetener, or in another cocktail!)

**i recommend tall glasses for this recipe because short won’t accommodate the amount of mix + lemonade over ice. however, if you want to experiment with amounts, or prefer a stronger cocktail, feel free to adjust the size of the glass or the amount of servings in this recipe. after all, cocktails are a very personal thing!

this post is inspired by the #redBar: summertime cocktail project for Red Envelope. they’re sharing favorite summertime drinks as the weather gets nicer. check out @redenvelope and #redBar on twitter for other great summertime cocktail ideas!

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recipe: spiked hot cocoa with candy cane vodka [holiday cocktail]


welcome to day 10 of #12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup here. today’s prompt is “holiday cocktail”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit! share your link below!

today we’re sharing the christmas spirits! get it? see what i did there? spirits, like alcohol? but then it’s like a play on the phrase christmas spirit? you get it.

there are so many festive cocktails around this time of year. pomegranate martinis, bailey’s in everything, and cider cocktails abound (check out chelsea’s amazing creations to see what i’m talking about!). but this recipe is one of my favorites. it’s so festive and so easy, but people will be completely impressed that you infused your own vodka with candy canes! it’s so martha stewart of you!

now you can enjoy some spiked hot cocoa in front of a fire, while watching your favorite christmas movie, or maybe even in a travel mug while you’re outside in the cold…the sky’s the limit.

spiked hot cocoa with candy cane vodka

  • candy canes
  • vodka
  • hot cocoa mix
  • mason jar

break up 1-2 candy canes into a mason jar (depending on the size of the jar you’re using, you can adjust amounts). pour vodka over the candy canes, enough to fill the mason jar. let the candy canes dissolve into the vodka. the smaller your candy cane pieces, the faster they will dissolve. the vodka will turn a pretty pink color. once the candy canes are all dissolved, make your hot cocoa, leaving room in the mug for a shot of candy cane vodka. protip #1: i recommend using a large mug for a whole shot of vodka, a small mug can be pretty strong! protip #2: enjoy with a christmas cookie. protip #3: this makes a really good gift. mix up individual mason jars, tie a ribbon and an extra candy cane around the top, and give with some nice hot cocoa and/or a mug!

let me know if you make any this weekend, i hear it’s going to be cold out there!


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two too many gin drinks.

i don’t have many life rules, but the ones i do have are very important. here are two of them:

1) if you ever have the opportunity to order a cocktail that you could maybe argue is your namesake drink, always order it. even if it’s your second gin drink at a speakeasy. even if it’s too expensive. always order your namesake cocktail.

mine is the {tenacious “e”}. 

2) if you are ever given the opportunity to spend saturday night with two of your best girls sipping gin in a basement lounge, say yes, no matter how cranky you are earlier that day. it will be worth it. you might even find your namesake cocktail (see above).

these life lessons have been brought to you by two too many gin drinks and erin’s brain.


now i want you all to meet nikki, also known round these parts as the rural rookie. rural meaning she lives smack dab in the middle of nowhere, rookie meaning she used to be a city girl. i have loved getting to know her through her honest blogging and fabulous sense of humor about living life in the boondocks (seriously, it’s so fun to live vicariously through her with that stuff). nikki and i have a similar habit of looking for the silver lining in everything, and she is a joy to know. i highly recommend you get going with that.

“I’m a 20-something almost-married girl, living in rural PA with my country boy, Mr. B. My blog started as a way to document my adventures after moving to the country, but these days I write about a little bit of everything.

I’m thankful for so much in my life, I don’t even know how to sum it up. I truly am lucky to be where I am in life. I’m trying to make the most of each day – appreciating the little things and soaking up everything life has to offer. Planning a destination wedding, figuring out domesticated life, living life with the man I love, learning about life in the country…I’m in the middle of such an exciting time in my life, and I’m so grateful for it!”

find more of nikki here:



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i gave up coffee and only partly died.

you’ll forgive me if this post doesn’t make any sense.

you see, my head is very cloudy today, as i’ve given up coffee in the very recent past.

i swear i’m not insane or suffering from sort of psychological episode, and i’m also not pregnant (because don’t tell me that’s not where your heads all went immediately!). i’m just trying out an experiment of sorts.

we need to back up a bit to talk about where i was at before making this decision, okay?

every morning i would wake up and make coffee for myself and the husband. i’d pour myself a large travel mug full before running out the door to catch the bus. by the time i got to work, i would be halfway done with the travel mug, and it was gone by 9:00am. a lot of days i’d have networking meetings at the caribou coffee in the lobby and i’d get another small light roast. then by the afternoon, i would be feeling a little tired, so i’d grab a keurig pod and scoot on down the hall to make another cup.

so by the time i’d get home i was 3/4 of a pot of coffee deep. and i’m just a little thing!

and let’s not talk about the vending machine pop. (yes, pop, not soda.) as a co-worker of mine likes to say, “that first sip is just so cold when it hits your lips!” not quite the same addiction as my coffee one, but it was starting to creep up on me.

so i was already starting to think about cutting back, you know, for health reasons, and sleeping better, and being more alert during the day. oh and not wanting to have an addiction. that too.

but that wasn’t quite enough to light a fire under me and actually give up anything.

the final straw was when, at my annual lady doctor appointment, i mentioned that i was starting to think about popping out little ‘z’ babies (i repeat, i am not currently pregnant), and made the mistake of saying i was just going to wing the coffee withdrawal when it happened. i got a couple of raised eyebrows and a side comment of, “you can survive without caffeine…i made it through med school without it”.

well at that point the gauntlet had been thrown. tossed at my head, really. and i went straight from, maybe i’ll cut back on my caffeine, to I’LL SHOW HER I CAN GO WITHOUT CAFFEINE, WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS?!?

so, like many big decisions in my life, the decision to give up coffee and soda was done purely to prove that i can do something just as good as someone else. don’t call me competitive, i’m just passionate.

it’s going…okay. i have been drinking tea in the morning to keep up the ritual of having a hot drink in a travel mug on the bus. i’ve been trying to save money anyway, so it’s pretty easy to go without the caribou. and i’ve been so busy at work that i don’t have the time to get my keurig in the afternoon. the only time it gets bad is right after lunch, when my vision starts to blur and i can’t think of any of the right words to say. and that lasts right into the evening…you should have seen me trying to type this post.

the only thing i don’t think i’ll ever be able to break the habit of is drinking a cup of coffee on weekend mornings with my love in the living room, reading the paper (him) and catching up on emails (me).  that’s just too precious and wonderful to me.

but i never said i was perfect. just competitive and stubborn.


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thirsty thursday: blueberry basil gin spritzer.

it’s the last thirsty thursday of july today! i’m back over at trisha’s spot with a delicious (if i do say so myself) hendrick’s gin cocktail. i thought it was only right to finish this series the way we started. with hendrick’s. hop on over to her blog for the recipe!

have a happy day! (click here, here and here for our other thirsty thursday recipes…)

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