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Monday, May 4, 2015

Mojito Monday

This past weekend, I had my first mojito of the season...quite a momentous occasion. Except for the fact that the mojito I had was really, really BAD! I won't name names, but it was at a local bar/restaurant that should know better. To me, a mojito is all about being refreshing with an emphasis on FRESH. There should never be a mix of any kind used. So, I decided to have friends over last night and serve a mojito my way.  Here is my recipe for the perfect blend of mint, rum and lime- add muddled blueberries or pineapple to mix it up.


The Perfect Mojito Recipe

5-10 mint leaves, to taste
1 small lime
2 tablespoons ultrafine white sugar, to taste
1.5 oz. white rum
1/2 can lime La Croix or Perrier
Ice

Place mint leaves in the bottom of a tall mojito glass or mason jar. Add juice from lime and sugar; muddle (which means mash the leaves together with the other ingredients until they release the mint oil- don't totally shred them or else pieces get sucked up your straw). Add rum and mix. Add ice and top off with La Croix, mix with long spoon. Garnish with a lime, mint sprig or my favorite, a mini umbrella.

Here are a few of my favorite Mojito-themed beauty products that I use regularly. These are great for a Monday morning at 8am when a mojito isn't acceptable, but you need a little kick.


I received this Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm in a subscription box. It isn't greasy or sticky, you can use a little for moisturizing or more to create a gloss. The flavor isn't overpowering, just a nice subtle mojito mix.

I recently discovered hello Mojito Mint Toothpaste- it is 99% natural, no artificial flavors, dyes, or artificial sweeteners and it tastes incredibly refreshing. I was incredibly surprised that this natural stuff actually left my mouth feeling fresh even though it didn't foam up like most toothpaste does. They also make kid's toothpaste, which I am going to cover in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stickers so my son will use it.

Mint nails? YES please! Mint and lavender are two of my favorite nail shades for spring, and this Revlon Top Speed Jaded shade is perfect. As a mom, I usually have about 5 minutes of uninterrupted nail polish time during the day. I don't generally love to use quick dry polishes because they dry your nails out, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do, and this shade is so gorgeous. If you don't want quick dry, try Revlon Minted instead.

Cheers!

Disclosure: I received a hello samples for review purposes from Influenster; all opinions are honest and my own as always!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

#DateNight: Food and Fashion at Boltwood!


The goal of Boltwood, the Evanston Farm-to-Table collaboration between John Kim of Brothers K Coffehouse and Brian Huston of The Publican fame, is to "make our regulars feel like new customers and our new customer to feel like regulars." I was intrigued by this statement, and wanted to see what dining at Boltwood was all about!


I knew the location of Boltwood from former LuLu's fame (which elected to close doors after 21 years of delish dim sum), and love the buzzy downtown Evanston atmosphere that it delivers. First impression- I loved the space. It is modern yet cozy, which is such a difficult ambiance to deliver. One wall of the restaurant is comprised of oversize picture windows, bathing the entire north side in early evening light.


We were promptly greeted and seated, with our ebullient server dispensing tidbits of knowledge about the restaurant and cuisine. The cocktail menu was intriguing, which is an excellent quality when I visit a new hot spot. I ordered the Beurre D'Anjou, which was comprised of Modest Vodka, Pur Pear Liquor, Lillet Blanc and Lemon. It was served in a retro coupe, well-chilled and perfectly blended. I am a sucker for pear anything as long as it isn't sticky sweet, and this did not disappoint. My husband ordered a pint of Revolution's Galaxy-Hero, a delicious American IPA (which is my new favorite brew- please pick some up for me if you find it!).


We were presented with a jar of Castelventrano Olives and pickled peppers- I adore how attention to even the serving dishes was taken into consideration!

Since Boltwood's menu is meant for sharing and changes frequently, we took turns selecting items that jumped off the menu until we assembled a satisfactory amount. The dishes come from the kitchen as they are ready, our first being the Roasted Sweet Potato Ponzu Salad. It included broccoli, avocado, miso and peanuts- a tad spicy, and somehow reminiscent of a mild yet unique sushi roll in the form of a fresh salad. This was probably my favorite bite!


Next up- Crispy Potatoes with garlic schmaltz (yes, I had to Google what schmaltz was, but I have no doubt the staff would have given an appetizing description). I would have added a tad more garlic, but otherwise these were absolute perfection. They cut the potatoes into hefty chunks, managed to get them crispy on the outside and almost creamy on the inside, and served alongside a to-die-for dipping sauce.

Our main dishes were Grilled Hangar Steak (which I ordered Medium Rare, which is tough to do on a thin steak such as this) and Scallops. Both were delicious- the steak was seared to my specified taste, and the scallops were caramelized on the outside and buttery soft on the inside.


My second cocktail was "Beets"- Beet-Infused City of London Gin, Orgeat, Mint, Citrus, House Grapefruit Bitters. It arrived as a bright red, slightly frothy concoction on the rocks. I would have enjoyed even more beet flavor, but mostly because my palate isn't as used to gin as most. I do think it was well-balanced and offered an offbeat take on a Pink Lady.


Dessert consisted of Chocolate Tureen with pistachio, caramel and honey cognac chantilly. If I could have just consumed a bowl of the caramel sauce, I would have been a happy gal. The chocolate tureen wasn't overly sweet- fairly reminiscent of pure unsweetened cocoa as opposed to rich chocolate.


Both owners were on site that evening, with Brian in the kitchen and John dropping in on tables and tending to guests. It seems like their partnership is very complementary, and the vibe works. They have an incredible amount of staff, which means you are never left stranded at your table without a refill or plate clearing. I highly recommend Boltwood for a casual bite or a long, sumptuous gourmet dinner.

As for the fashion, I am LOOOVING long-sleeved maxi dresses right now, particularly wraps. The weather is still disgustingly chilly in the Midwest, so I haven't abandoned limb-covering outfits. This particular dress is from LuLu's- and at $58, it won't break the budget. I think this is a perfectly affordable option for this DVF dress I am obsessed with:
As for the shoes, I paired my BCBG gold d'orsay pumps (a staple- similar here by Steve Madden), a Kendra Scott "Dylan" necklace in black (goes with everything), and Rocksbox earrings (want your first month free to this jewelry subscription box? Use code shopgirldailyxoxo). The clutch is a Linea Pelle that features a great chunky chain, but I am loving this laser cut gold clutch. As for the hair- my newest obsession is a bun pin- yes, jewelry for your hair. I purchased this sold-out Kitsch piece a few months ago, but there are about ten others that are available and adorable. This particular geometric crown is on my wish list!

Hope you enjoy your date night!! Let me know if you check out Boltwood and how your experience was!

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Mother's Day Wish List

This Mother's Day, I am making my own wish come true- a boozy brunch and shopping trip with some of my best friends! We decided to go out on the Saturday before, let the husbands take care of the kids while we pretended to be 20something with plenty of disposable income to blow and a high capacity for bubbly. I can't wait.

If someone was going to get me a gift, though, there are a few things out there that don't cost a lot but would put a smile on my pasty pale face. One is the Escape to Rio Getaway Essentials Kit at Sephora, available for $29 right now. I am dying to try their spray self-tanner, the two polish colors are right up my alley for warmer weather, beautiful bronzer shades, and aqua eyeliner? Sign this gal up. It is a $63 value, so over 50% off.

I JUST started with a Fitbit today and can see the obsession, but the band is just...blah. I mean, I never was into the sporty look, and don't really plan on being into it any time soon. The only running I do is running late. Let's jazz it up a bit! This Tory Burch geometric cuff should do the trick, although at almost $200 I think it is a bit out of range.


How about floral sunnies? This is one trend I wouldn't spend a lot of $$ on but a fun summer fling nonetheless.
Annnnnnd just for fun, how about some jewelry? Forget something classic, let's go for fun. This Kendra Scott double ring in Gold/Bronze Drusy is a knockout...plus it is vaguely reminiscent of brass knuckles. So badass in a glam way.
Ummm and if I had unlimited funds, I would get a Diane von Furstenberg Abigail Maxi Wrap Dress. Just putting that out there. I am loving long-sleeved maxis, and who does a wrap better than DVF? This one is fun, right? And at 50% off at The Outnet, it is almost in my reach. I can so imagine myself in this at all the luxurious sunset pool parties that I will be attending...oh wait, most likely sunrise swim classes...sigh a girl can dream, right?