Cucumber Basil Breeze

This is the first of five cocktails we created using the alcohols we infused, and I think it is also our favorite! This drink is so light and refreshing -- perfect for a hot summer day.

For this drink you will need cucumber infused vodka, fresh basil, lemonade, lime and club soda. To start, put 1.5 shots of your vodka and 8-10 leaves of basil into a glass/shaker.  Muddle the basil well using a muddler or spoon. Add in 2 shots of lemonade and shake with ice. Add 1-2 shots of club soda and the juice of a wedge of lime. That's it!

Last night we used the cucumber vodka, but didn't have the ingredients to make this drink so we mixed the vodka with tonic and lime juice instead. So yummy!

DIY Inspiration

Lately this blog has been lacking in the DIY department. Last summer I was doing all sorts of projects, but this summer time and money have both been short and all of the projects that I have saved up have fallen to the bottom of the to do list. Recently I've gotten to urge to get creative -- I have a few projects in mind that I want to do so I can finally put the finishing touches on my room. I also might get to bring my mom's old sewing machine here after I visit home, so I am dreaming of all of the sewing projects I will be able to do!  After looking through my pins I decided to throw together a bit of a DIY inspiration board with some ideas for future projects.  Maybe some of these ideas and images will inspire you too! 
1: I've always loved marquee lights as statement pieces...There are lots of tutorials out there for how to make your own.  Figuring out a DIY that is in my budget/works for me has been on my to do list for ages // 2: I've been thinking about all sorts of ways to display plants and flowers in my room lately.  I have a project in mind that also uses a series of glass bottles // 3: Have you seen the tutorials out there for decorating your own dishes? I love the design on this mug // 4: I have been lusting over this bag ever since I pinned it.  And a couple of months ago they got it in stock at a store a few blocks away from my house.  It has taken all the will-power I have not to buy it.  Once I get ahold of a sewing machine I want to try my hand at creating something similar // 5: Love this colorful swing.  We have a few trees in front of my house that would be perfect for something like this! // 6: Surprise! Another plant project.  There are so many cool hangers out there that I want to try and recreate // 7: Another sewing project on my list is to make some colorful pillows to brighten up my bed.

I'm hoping to finish up a couple of projects in the next few weeks to post up here. Do you have any projects you've been wanting to do? Items on your wish list you wish you could recreate for less? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Italy Video

Here is the video we made about our time in Italy! The first song is "You Don't Know How Much You Can Suffer" by Jan Morks Quartet, and the second is "Tintarella di Luna" by Jenny Luna.  Enjoy!

Eurotrip: Rome, Italy

Our last stop in Italy was Rome. We had both been to Rome before and had very different experiences: I went with my family when I was younger and fell in love.  Taylor went during a school break while he was abroad and didn't have the greatest experience (let's just say his bunk bed was shaking all night long thanks to some very oblivious/intoxicated guests in the sketchy hostel he was staying in...awkward).  I was determined to change his opinion about Rome.
Rome was quite the change of pace after being in Modena and Bologna -- there were so many tourists and so many things to do that at times it was overwhelming.  We decided to only do a couple of the big sights and then explored other parts of the city where we could breathe and relax. We ended up seeing the Colosseum/Roman Forum and the Vatican/Sistine Chapel, and then dropped by Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. 
Each day we explored a different park.  We found two different spots with beautiful views of the city - an endless landscape of buildings the colors of sand and sunsets, dotted with the occasional ruin. It's a pretty unique city to see from above.  Both parks felt like a quiet oasis above the city where we could people watch and take in the city from a different perspective. One day we took sandwiches and beer up for lunch.
We also spent a day walking around the Jewish Ghetto. It was nice to explore some quiet, pretty streets. We didn't have any particular destination in the neighborhood, so we just let ourselves get lost! On our last day, Taylor decided to get his haircut at a barber near our Airbnb, which ended up being a fun adventure. The shop was run by the sweetest old man and his wife.  Neither of them spoke any English so it was pretty funny trying to communicate with them!
TO DO & SEE: Beyond whatever tourist sights you want to see I would recommend taking walks up to see the parks I talked about above. The one near Travestere is up on Gianicolo Hill -- this one is a longer walk. There are a couple of monuments and a botanical garden to see on your way up the hill. Villa Bourghese is the park near the Spanish Steps. It is not so far removed from the city, but is a good place to go for a little break from everything.  Definitely spend some time in Trastevere -- it is full of sweet little streets and piazzas (I'm a sucker for narrow, cobblestone European streets...have you figured this out yet?) and a couple pretty churches. Like I said before, the Jewish Ghetto is also a nice place to explore.

TO EAT & DRINK: For lunch on our second day we went into a little meat and cheese shop on a side street intending to buy materials to make our own sandwiches, but the guy inside offered to make them for us. We chose everything and he threw it together for us.  We grabbed a big Perino beer and took everything up to the park. I would definitely recommend doing this for lunch over trying to find a good restaurant.  When you're out seeing tourist sights it's hard to avoid crappy/overpriced food. 
On our first night we went to a great little restaurant in Trastevere called Meridionale.  The walls are covered in old magazine clippings and it is furnished with retro, mis-matched tables and chairs.  Aside from the meal being amazing, it was also a nice place to eat because it was away from the busiest parts of the neighborhood. By far the best meal we had was at Il Duca, which is also in Trastevere. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Taylor got carbonara and I had the best lasagna of my life.  We also got fried artichoke and prociutto e melone to start.  I still dream about it. After dinner at Il Duca we popped into a tiny little convenience store to get beers and walked around the streets with the crowds of young people. We liked doing this at night rather than finding a place to get drinks, but we did go out for drinks one night in Trastevere at a place called Nylon. They had good drinks, a cool atmosphere and nice outdoor seating that was perfect for people watching. 
Oh, and I can't write a post about Rome and not mention gelato. We had amazing gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino.  It's all homemade and doesn't have gross artificial colorings and flavorings.  We read somewhere that it's a bad sign when gelato is super colorful. 

Look back tomorrow for the video we made about our time in Italy!

Adventures in Infusing Alcohol

A couple of weeks ago my friend, Caroline, and I decided to give infusing alcohols a try. This has been the summer of cocktails -- all of our friends are finally 21 and we've been enjoying experimenting with different ingredients in mixed drinks. We decided to make 5 different infused alcohols using both vodka and tequila and were super happy with the results.  Over the next couple of weeks we will be sharing 5 different yummy cocktails we came up with using these!  See below for the details of each infused alcohol!
1) First, we made a small batch of jasmine tea infused vodka.  We just threw in a couple tablespoons of the dry tea (see above) with the vodka.  We left it in for 3 days but this made it wayy too strong...because it's tea...duh (honestly we kind of forgot about it...).  It worked out ok because we can just dilute it with plain vodka. We mixed about a third of a shot of this with 2/3 of a shot of plain vodka to get a good strength. If you just leave it in for 24 hours it should be fine to use on it's own.
2) One of the riskier concoctions we threw together was jalapeños and rosemary in tequila...In the end this one ended up being one of our favorites, even though it took a bit longer to perfect a cocktail using it since the flavors are a little different. First, we put around 5 or six sprigs of rosemary in with a little tequila and muddled it.  Then we added in a couple chopped up jalapeños and the rest of the tequila. Definitely take the jalapeños out after 24 hours or it will get too spicy.  We left the rosemary in for 3 days which may have been a little too long--it is a pretty prominent flavor.  I would suggest taking it out after 2 days, but if you want it to be a very subtle flavor you could take it out on the first day with the jalapeños.

3) We also made some vodka with just jalapeños.  Just throw in a couple of chopped up peppers and leave them in for a day.
4) One of our favorites was cucumber vodka -- so refreshing and summery (quick, go make it before summer is over!).  We just threw a chopped up cucumber into some vodka and let it sit for 3 days.

5) Last but not least was ginger pear tequila. We cut up a pear and a couple of inches of fresh ginger and let them sit in the tequila for 3 days.  The flavors weren't super distinct so I would suggest muddling the chopped up ginger in a little bit of tequila to get the juices out before you add in everything else.

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for some yummy drink recipes using these!

Eurotrip: Modena & Bologna, Italy

After our time in Strasbourg, Taylor and I took the train to Italy to spend some time with some of his family friends in 2 smaller towns/cities in Italy. We started in Modena, and then went to Bologna. It was great to experience Italy from an Italian's perspective for a few days and get to know Taylor's old family friends -- We had the most wonderful hosts and were sad to leave! (Thank you Laura, Gianfranco, Maurizio, Massimo & Wendy!). This is a collection of pictures from both places -- they are pretty similar, but Bologna is bigger.  They both have the most beautiful sunset colored buildings and little cobblestone roads. We spent most of our time wandering around and eating lots of amazing food.
In Bologna we took a walk up a big hill along the worlds longest continuous portico to see Il Santuario di San Luca -- the view from the top was beautiful! Afterwards our hosts, Maurizio and Massimo took us for a little drive around the hills and we went to a super yummy restaurant tucked away above the city.  
Above: First, the streets of Bologna. Second, beautiful buildings in Modena. My camera was full of pictures like this -- I can't resist those colors!

Maurizio and Massimo's sweet furry daughter, Wendy. We were both pretty smitten with this pup.

TO DO AND SEE: Modena is a super small little town--we just had one full day there which was really plenty of time to do a little exploring.  We started in the center of town and walked around from there. There are a couple of churches to take a peek into (such as the Duomo di Modena), but what we enjoyed most was just finding interesting streets to walk around and little stores to pop into (our hosts recommended walking down Via Taglio). There is a Ferrari Museum nearby for car lovers -- I guess a couple of famous car designers grew up in the area. When we were there all of the piazzas were filled with displays of super expensive cars -- there was some sort of convention going on. Didn't interest me much, but I made sure to send lots of pictures to my car obsessed brother!
TO EAT AND DRINK: We didn't actually eat out in Modena so I don't have much to say about restaurants -- We were lucky enough to have an amazing cook as our hostess! But, let me just tell you now, don't leave Italy without eating prosciutto e melone.  This is what we had for lunch on our first day, and I was addicted for the rest of the trip. In terms of places to grab a drink--we were wandering around in the rain on our one full day in Modena and stumbled across the coolest little bar called Juta Café (on Via Taglio).  It actually really reminded us of Portland--the picture above (with the quote) is from there. I would definitely recommend stopping there for a drink.

TO DO AND SEE:  Definitely take the walk up the portico to see San Luca.  It is a pretty long walk but definitely worth it.  Or if you have a car and want to drive up I would recommend driving around the area afterwards to find a place to eat among the hills -- unfortunately I can't remember the name of where we ate, but we passed a lot of restaurants in the area that looked nice. While we were in town we saw a lot of monuments and really beautiful churches around the city--I don't remember all of their names, but that is something you can find in a guide book! We also enjoyed walking around the student quarter--it was a nice little area to explore. Do a little shopping if that's your thing -- There is a big Zara and an H&M that is way better than ones in the U.S.  There are also quite a few boutiques that have beautiful locally designed to look into but a little pricey.  
TO EAT AND DRINK: Oh my goodness guys.  We had the best food ever in Bologna.  Apparently it's the place to go for Italian food. Two restaurants I would highly recommend: Casa Monica (on via San Rocco) was a little more fancy and not strictly traditional (still Italian but with a fancy twist). It's a beautiful little restaurant that is family owned. On our last night we went to a restaurant called Tratorria della Santa (on via Urbana) that was very traditional Bolognan food. I had ravioli the way it is traditionally eaten--in a broth--and an incredible tiramisu. So yummy. The food is reason enough to stop in Bologna for a day or two.  In terms of drinks, we went to this really cool place that our hosts recommended called Le Stanze (on Via Borgo di San Pietro) in the student quarter.  The drinks were pretty good but they also gave us a strange (free) plate of random (slightly stale) nibblies...Which were not so good. But it is a really neat spot---apparently it was originally the 16th-century private chapel of the Palazzo Bentivoglio so it is painted with really beautiful frescoes. They also have a couple of tables outside--great people watching spot. It sounds like the actual meals there are quite good so I would still recommend giving it a try. On our way back we stumbled upon what looked to be a pop up bar in the middle of Piazza Marco Biagi. Unfortunately we needed to get back for dinner so we couldn't stop, but it looked like a fun place to check out.  I'm not sure if it happens everyday, but if you're interested maybe drop by around dinner time--that is when they were setting up!

Confessions of a succulent addict

Guys, I have a confession to make.  I'm a succulent addict. I can't help but buy 1...or 2....or 10 every time I go to New Seasons for a few groceries or on accident end up in the plant store down the street...they're so cute! And only one dollar! How could I resist the little green guys?
Part of this addiction means coming up with fun ways to display all my succulents (I'm slowly running out of space in my bedroom...ruh roh). I have been collecting fun little vessels to put some of them in, but ever since I saw this I've been wanting to find something to put a little garden of succulents in.  I don't have room for something so big, so I was trying to find a suitable container for the longest time. But no luck. I ended up deciding to use a regular pot for now, and I'm actually really glad I did because I love the way this one turned out!  To do this I first spray painted the pot with white.  Then I used painters tape and a paper bag to cover the top portion of the pot and spray painted the bottom half gold. Done! When you're moving your plants into their new pot just be very careful with their roots and make sure you are using special succulent soil -- they don't like regular soil.