The Case For Signature Cocktails

As a party host, you probably aren’t seeking even more tasks to put on your to-do list (isn’t figuring out the food, playlist, and where to put people’s coats enough?). But I’m suggesting one extra component—and although it’s not a necessity at social events the way, say, cups are, I’d argue its rewards outweigh the extra planning. Whether you’re organizing apps and drinks for a game night, planning a potluck with a few friends, or hosting a housewarming that anticipates a decent crowd, a signature cocktail defines the event.

Here’s my case:

It’s special. I attended a summer soiree last year—and one of the most enjoyable moments, in addition to the pleasant company, was receiving a frosty, boozy ice cream float the hostess had stirred up on the spot. There’s a personal touch to hand-concocting a drink for each guest that makes the party-goers feel particularly welcome.

It’s an opportunity for a nod to the season. Themed plates and napkins are always appreciated, but a drink can really harness the season and help pull together a theme or occasion. Think cinnamon-mulled wine for winter, a sparky champagne cocktail for celebrations, and a spiked float or shake for the dog days of summer. 

It keeps your hands busy. In some ways, a cocktail is the introverted party host’s best friend. Not that I have any first hand experience with this at all (ahem), but for anyone concerned about finding a good conversation starter and putting newcomers at ease, having a drink to prep solves both challenges. Plan a drink that takes just a couple simple steps to assemble, and you’ve got an easy but necessary task to perform as you welcome your guests—as well as a topic of conversation (inspiration for the drink, ingredients, tweaks you made to a recipe, etc. etc.).

It allows you to greet everyone. Hopefully you’ll manage to make the rounds and say hello to everyone. But offering each guest a made-to-order drink doesn’t just make them feel special, it also gives you a brief moment with each of them, giving you an excuse for a longer chat than your quick hello-how-are-you. Invite them into the kitchen to keep you company while you make the drinks for a brief one-on-one tete-a-tete before your guest slips into the hubbub of the party crowd.

It livens the party. Generally, people appreciate a party with fancy drinks. It’s just fun.

(Note: if you like the idea but don’t actually feel the need to serve guests individually, a mulled wine kept warm on in a crockpot or a bowl of punch offer just about as much fun, but leave you free to bounce about the party and mingle as you please. A do-it-yourself garnish station can provide an interactive piece.)

Here’s the recipe for the drink pictured above—a pleasingly sweet-tart concoction.

Sour Cherry Gin Smash

From Country Living

Ingredients (per drink)

  • 6 sour cherries (these you can find at most grocery stores—cans in the baking section or frozen bags in the frozen fruit section)
  • 1 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz. gin
  • ginger ale
  • ice
  • 1 lime slice

Directions:

  1. Add cherries to a tumbler glass and mash slightly with a fork, just so the berries begin to break apart. Add lime and gin, and stir together.
  2. Add 3 ice cubes to the glass. Top with a splash of ginger ale (or more to taste). Garnish with a lime wedge.

A few resources for finding a drink that fits the atmosphere and occasion you’re putting together:

Marthastewart.com

Smittenkitchen.com

Delish.com

Daylight Savings Scones

Because yes, those are a thing and, if you're going to get away with getting an extra hour of sleep, you should definitely celebrate with something baked and yummy.

I don't know about you, but my usual weekday breakfast makes me kind of sad. A half-eaten piece of toast here, some lonesome granola there. Who has time to properly sit down and enjoy the kind of scones one was meant to enjoy? You do, my friend. When you get an extra hour of sleep.

I wish we all had a million hours in a day to do whatever we please. If it were up to me, I would "believe six impossible things before breakfast" as the Queen of Hearts once said. But things need to get done, so less practical matters--like daydreams and scone-making--often get left behind. NOT TODAY. I adapted these little guys from this ole' recipe, but threw in some white chocolate chunks and left out the glaze. No one has time for a glaze, even the most adamant believers in the impossible. Plus, they're sweet enough so that you don't need it. Cheers to an extra hour of doing whatever you please, and shoving your face with delicious bits of sugar and butter.

Salon Hacks: Simple Tricks for Salon Tresses

By Megan McDougall

As much as we’d all love to afford a trip to the salon every week, that’s just not possible. And sometimes even buying our favorite products to pamper ourselves can be a stretch. But we foxes are crafty and industrious- so we learn to make do.

Winter in Minneapolis is the cruelest joke anyone could play on me, especially my hair. The second Jack Frost makes his first visit to my window; my hair immediately becomes drier and more brittle. Now if I had it my way and my pockets overflowethed, I would no doubt purchase a lifetime supply of Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment. Unfortunately, my pockets aren’t so much overflowing, as they’re typically just empty- but that’s okay!

When you’re ballingonabudget.blogspot.com (click on that. Just do it), you need to find ways to feel luxurious and pamper yourself in the small ways you can. You don’t need loads of money to feel beautiful and here at Scotch & The Fox- we thrive on thrifty shortcuts that get the job done. So for all the foxes looking for a quick and easy way to get your tresses feeling soft and revived, we have found a little trick for you to try at home. Bonus: it’s ridiculously easy.

At-Home Hair Masque

What you’ll need:

Coconut oil

Honey

Saran Wrap

That’s literally all it takes.

In a bowl, mix equal parts coconut oil to honey (more or less of each depending on how long your hair is). When you’ve reached a good mixture- microwave for about 30-40 seconds, or until the coconut oil has melted.

It works best to apply on wet hair, but it’s not necessary- do as you may. Wrap a towel around your shoulders as to avoid sticky spillage and begin applying to your mane. Make sure to really saturate the tips! Once you’ve finished applying the mixture, put hair in a makeshift bun atop your head and begin wrapping your head in saran wrap, turban style. Let your hair sit for about a half hour, then wash thoroughly. And then get ready for the softest, greatest smelling hair you’ve had since the last time you walked out of the salon. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it works. What more could a fox want? 

-Megan

5 Tips for Sustainable Living that Will Save You Money

Two years ago I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Environmental Design and Analysis. I know, it’s a mouthful, but more easily put: Green Design. Although I have been out of college for a couple of years now, the practices that I learned regarding sustainability have stuck with me in my personal lifestyle as well as in my career. I currently work at an ESCO (Energy Savings Company) as a lighting designer. We provide our customers with sustainable lighting solutions that will ultimately save their companies lots of money. At home and in my non-work life, making sustainable choices has become second nature to me. I want to share some tips with my fellow Foxes on how to make more sustainable choices while also saving some cash.

Ride it – According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for almost 30% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Gas prices are high and will likely increase, so biking serves as a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money. Biking can also be a great way to explore your city from a different point of view. Hop on your bike, get some exercise, and enjoy the outdoors. Don’t have a bike? Consider googling the nearest Nice Ride Station!

Turn Down for What? – For Earth?! In the winter, turn the heat down and cuddle up in some blankets. That’s cozier anyway. Your body will adjust to the temperature change, and here's an added bonus: according to studies in the Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism Journal, spending time in cooler temperatures in the winter can boost calorie burn by up to 30%! In the summer it can be refreshing to come home to a nice air-conditioned house after a long hot day, but turn the dial up a few degrees and reduce your cooling costs; again, after a while your body will adjust to the change. Or on a breezy summer day shut the AC down completely and open your windows. Who doesn’t love some fresh air?

Flashing, Lights, Lights – The next time a conventional incandescent light bulb goes out in your house, replace it with a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) or an LED (Light Emitting Diode). Yes, the latter two will cost more upfront, but they use far less watts. And besides the fact that switching to CFLs or LEDs will save you money on your electric bill, changing light bulbs is a pain and you’ll have to do it a lot less. CFLs last more than 6 times longer than incandescent bulbs and LEDs last over 40 times longer!

Stop Buying/Using Plastic – Sadly, landfills and oceans are full of plastic, compromising ecosystems and wildlife. Stop continually paying for disposable plastic bags and plastic water bottles and invest in reusable products with a one-time payment that last longer.  Next time you have leftovers and want to reach for a plastic bag, use a glass food storage container instead. Also, many companies offer BPA-free products that serve as cute alternatives for disposable plastic; Graze Organic and Snack Taxi, just to name a couple.

Get Some Balls – Dryer balls that is. Wool dryer balls are a reusable alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners. Not only will you reduce waste created by dryer sheets, but you will also reduce your drying time by 30 – 50%, saving energy and cutting down on costs. These chemical-free wool balls soften fabric and diminish wrinkles. Check Etsy.com for some cute colorful ones!