Archive | June, 2012

Thirsty Thursdays — Vanilla Lemonade

21 Jun

I have decided to start my first regular installment — Thirsty Thursdays — and will be posting some of my favorite drink recipes each week when I have one to share. Check out some of my previously posted favorites such as Meyer Lemon Drop Martinis, Strawberry Wine Coolers, Hurricanes, and Pina Coladas.  I came across this tasty refresher this week via a newly discovered blog and couldn’t wait to test it out. Fresh homemade lemonade is a treat by itself, but add the subtle hint of vanilla bean, and it transcends to a whole new level. Try this lemonade this weekend — your family will thank you 🙂

A fun twist for your lemonade!

Yield: about 12 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes
Total Time: 20-25 minutes


For the Simple Syrup:

1 cup Sugar
1 cup Water
3 slices of Lemon Peel
1 Vanilla Bean
1 generous pinch of Kosher Salt
Cheesecloth, to strain syrup

For the Lemonade:

Juice of 6-8 lemons, strained
8-10 cups of water
1 cup of vanilla/lemon syrup
Lemon slices to garnish


Slice the vanilla bean in half and with the back of your knife scrape out all the seeds.

Bring sugar, water, vanilla bean and pod, lemon peel and salt to boil on your stove.

After sugar dissolves I gently simmer mine 5-10 minutes to really get the lemon peel flavor in there.

Remove from heat, strain through a few layers of cheesecloth set over a large measuring cup and cool. You can speed up the process by placing the measuring cup in a large bowl surrounded by ice.

Once the syrup has cooled; add it to a large pitcher along with the 8-10 cups of water and strained lemon juice. Garnish with a few lemon slices.

Pour in a tall glass over ice and sip.

Adapted from Simply Scratch via How Sweet It Is.

Renfew 2.0 and a First Birthday

8 Jun


So here's my second version of the Sewaholic Renfrew top that I made a few weeks ago. I chose the 3/4 sleeve cowl neck version for this incarnation. As you can see from the wrinkly sleeve bands, these "3/4 length" sleeves are more like elbow length on me. Next time I will lengthen them a bit to get a true 3/4 length. I cut this top from the same modified pattern as my last Renfrew but this one is a lot looser in the armpits. All I can say is that it is because of the fabric (this one is a really lightweight jersey). Be warned that the less stable your fabric, the more you will have to take in your seams. Aside from that, my only other issue (and it is very, very minor) is that the back of the neck is a little loose. Next time I will cut the cowl in a smaller size than the neck opening to eliminate this problem.

Version 2.0 improvements include cutting the sleeve and armbands 2 sizes smaller and stretching them as I sewed them on to ensure a snug fit. I didn't want another loose waistband like I had on my last version. This change solved the problem and the waistband is perfect! Also, the cowl on this version is awesome! It is pretty and drapey and it doesn’t show your goodies when you bend over.

All in all, I highly recommend this pattern. The second time around, I spent about 4 hours from start to finish on this shirt, and that included making some stupid mistakes that I had to fix. Next time (and there will be a next time soon), I bet it will take 3 hours or less.

I also completed a kitchen project recently, this cute ruffled cake for my friend’s daughter’s first birthday. My friend, Jenny, asked if I could make her little girl, Dublin, a banana-flavored, ruffled birthday cake with colors that matched the ocean and a dress sewn by her late great-grandmother. I was happy to oblige and went straight to my favorite banana cupcake recipe and made a double batch of the batter for a three layer 9″ round party cake plus a two-tiered smash cupcake. I filled the caked with salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream and frosted it with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. I was afraid the buttercream would be too sophisticated for a toddler’s palate, but Dublin seemed to enjoy it more than anybody, and that made my day 🙂


This was Dublin's first taste of something sweet and there wasn't a crumb left when she was done!

The only modification I make from the recipe I linked above is using my own caramel recipe. If anyone is interested, let me know and I will be happy to post it.

Strawberry Wine Coolers

5 Jun




This recipe is in honor of my office nurse, Tammy, who asked me a while back for a drink recipe involving strawberries.  I searched a bit, experimented a bit, then Annie’s Eats popped this little beauty into my email inbox.  I tried it within a few days but wasn’t completely sold.  I made a few adjustments and now I think it is “Tammy-worthy.”  This cooler is refreshing, grown-up, and delicious.  So, Tammy, here you go.  Bottoms up to my first and favorite RN 🙂


Strawberry Wine Coolers


1/2 pound strawberries, hulled and rinsed

1 ounce citrus vodka

1 small pinch salt

1 bottle Moscato wine



Yield:  3-4 servings


Blend together berries, vodka, salt, and 1 cup of wine.  Strain into small container.  Chill for 1-2 hours.  Fill wine glass with ice.  Fill glass half-way with strawberry mixture.  Top with wine and stir gently.  Drink immediately 🙂