Friday, August 25, 2017

Cocktails with the Mister // Make this Rose Mojito

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe
****Among my husband's greatest talents is his ability to make a very drinkable cocktail. He never worked professionally as a bartender, but at any house gathering, you'd be sure to find him mixing away at the bar for a thirsty line up of our friends who put their faith in him to "surprise them" with something particularly delectable... and he always delivers. Never too tart, never too sweet, never too strong.  The glass in hand is without fail the one you didn't even know you wanted. 
So I too asked if he would surprise me with a monthly recipe and feature it here on the blog. So today, we're kicking off 'Monthly Cocktail with the Mister', where he will ideate and mix you up a drink just in time for the weekend happy hour. ***

It's not uncommon for my wife and I to be out in a local restaurant and for her to request I 'figure out how to make this' cocktail she's sipping eagerly through her straw. Such was the day she returned from shopping and dropped a similar request to deconstruct a drink she had at the new upstairs bar over at our local Nordstrom. The drink is known as "Vine Street' on their menu and has both the flavors of a glass or rose and a minty mojito. Ingredients (though not the measurements) are listed on the menu and they probably would have been kind enough to tell her how to make it if she had asked. Nevertheless one Sunday afternoon I set out to make her my interpretation of that cocktail, which emerged as a Rose Mojito.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

She didn't believe me, but it's important to measure for this one so that you get the right ratio of vodka to rose. I also added an additional ingredient not found on the menu, but one that became immediately important to help balance the heat of all that alcohol out in the drink - simple syrup.  I could only guess that the restaurant used a slightly sweeter rose or prosecco in their version. You have some flexibility when it comes to the grapes and mint - add a little more or less according to your own tastes. When shaken, the grapes and mint flake off into the mixture and end up in your glass - much like those little flakes of ice in a martini that always seem to make so good.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

Once shaken, the foamy elixir is strained and served over ice and then garnished with a skewered assembly of grapes and mint after finishing with floater splash of prosecco that gives it a nice soda like fizz in the finish.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

Recipe for Rose Mojito
Recipe by Ryan Neally for Holtwood Hipster

2.5 oz. Rose Wine
1 oz. Vodka
0.5 oz. Simple Syrup
12 grapes (10 for muddling, 2 for garnish)
6-8 leaves of mint
Squeeze of Lime
Splash of Prosecco

In a cocktail shaker, muddle grapes and mint, along with your simple syrup. Muddle well so you get all the juice out of those grapes and release the mint by breaking it up.

Add your vodka, rose and squeeze of lime to the shaker. Cover and shake well.

Prepare your glass of ice. I like to use crushed ice for this drink.

Strain the mixture over the ice, making sure to shake the flaky remnants of the mint and grapes through the strainer holes into your glass. Finish with a splash of prosecco and skewer of grapes and mint.

Rose Mojito Cocktail Recipe

There are quite a few bottles involved in this drink, but capped well - the rose and prosecco will save for a couple of days in the fridge. Cheers!


Friday, August 18, 2017


The inevitable summer wind down may already be in the works, but end of season outdoor sales have me dreaming of ways to extend the feeling of summer through a quick refresh of our outdoor decor. Our loungers that we purchased when we bought our house 6 years ago finally gave way and made it to the curb. So, I've been on the hunt for replacements and in the process, uncovered the best patio furniture and accessory deals. Today, I've rounded up a few of my favorites and I'm sharing them with you here. I admit that it's always a gamble to wait and see what inventory remains at mid-August. That rug or dining set you had your heart set on in April may no longer be available. My own indecision (or lack of allocated budget) earlier in the season meant I missed on a couple of things this year myself. But there are still some good design options to be had - and many are being offered at steep discounts as retailers make way for holiday inventory.

In this round up, you'll find many of these items reduced by 50-60% off. Retailers are also extending additional discounts through coupon codes so your savings may even be far greater than what you see on the product page. Personally, I'm thinking hard about that sectional and 2pc lounger featured here. Can you believe it? The geo rug you see below - it's just $22 on clearance right now. 

2017 summer end of season patio clearance products
Find them here:

2017 summer end of season patio clearance products
Find them here:

2017 summer end of season patio clearance products

Find them here:

2017 summer end of season patio clearance products

Find them here:
Find them here:
25. Play Teepee   26. Chiminea   27. 3pc Dining Set

See any favorites? Are you in the loop on other sales hitting the web this week? Do tell! 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles by Holtwood Hipster Blog

Around here, we're always on the lookout for ways to step up our foodie game and it doesn't always mean patronizing a new restaurant. Finding a way to craft our own version of a common store-bought item can be so satisfying - even if it means some extra time in the kitchen. Take these easy to make refrigerator pickles for example. In no time flat, we made use of that extra bounty from our garden and produce piling up in our refrigerator drawer and had a full on pickle parade to snack on for weeks to come. Trust me once you make your own pickles, you'll reconsider that jar of grey, lifeless cucumbers on your next trip to the grocery aisle.

Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles by Holtwood Hipster Blog

Truth be told, our upcoming camping trip gave us further motivation for prepping our jars of beans, cukes and carrots. Camping (or any gathering really) is serious food business amongst our group. As we typically do this time of year, we're making preparations for the camp Bloody Mary bar we host each morning during our stay. It's always a good way to circle up the troops before kicking off the day's festivities and we are always working on something new to bring to the table for those who swing by on site to take part. This year, we're stocking the bar with our very own handmade pickled garnish accoutrement (you know, if we can keep from eating them before we get there). I even designed some labels to further personalize our offerings.

Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles by Holtwood Hipster Blog

Of course, you don't have to make a caseload at one time like we did. It's easier - and quicker than you might think to prepare a jar or two of your favorite variety.

Quick Steps

It's a simple preparation equation: wash, cut, boil and fill.

Wash. You'll want to give a good wash to all your veggies and jars.

Cut. Prep all your vegetables by chopping well before you make your brine. You may find you need to double your recipe like we did given the volume you wish to bottle up. We used green beans, carrots, onions, turnips and cucumbers. My husband also made a batch of pickled eggs. But you'll also want to prep cuttings of fresh herbs like dill and thyme and even extra onion, peppers and garlic cloves. You'll be layering those extras into your jars around your veggies.

Boil. There are many brine recipes out there. In all, we whipped up 5 different brines for this round. But don't be intimidated. There are a lot of recipes available out there with enough flexibility to satisfy all tastes. If you like them on the sweeter side, add a little extra sugar and use cider vinegar vs. the common white variety. I also whole-heartedly recommend using other types of vinegar like champagne, white wine, red-wine and even rice-wine as alternatives to the more pungent common white.

Fill. When you fill your jars, you will want to layer in your herbs, garlic and onion amongst your cut veggies. Leave an inch at top (so if you need to cut your vegetables down, do so). You can always go back in and add after the brine has been poured in.

Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles by Holtwood Hipster Blog

My Tips

  • Use kosher salt - not table salt in your brine. 
  • Jars come in all shapes and sizes. Its fun to mix and match. I like to use these quart size and these smaller ones.
  • Change the hue of white veggies like turnips and onions by adding a couple of slices of beet.
  • Stray from the common pre-made pickling spices and use other things like mustard seeds, coriander seed, dill seed and caraway.

Recipe Links

Here are some links to recipes I personally like. I typically stick to the published ratios of water-vinegar-salt-sugar in these recipes, but I do take some liberties with the herbs and spices to suit our personal tastes. Not all use boil brines, but that's my preferred method.

Feasting at Home gives a great foundation for brines (with really pretty pics!)
Baked at Midnight features a non-boil, half-sour brine
Leite's Culinaria has a good recipe for a sweet pickle
Dinner Then Dessert has a recipe for the pickles I can't get enough of at my favorite Lebanese restaurant

There are a ton of recipes out there. Do you have any hot tips or personal favorites to share?

Care to see what we're cooking up this time? Our culinary camping adventures are well documented over on Instagram (@holtwoodhipster). Click the link to follow along!


Friday, August 11, 2017


Rose Wines to Drink Now, Best Rose Wines

I get it. By now, it's mid-August and your thoughts are already drifting to a pumpkin latte. But friends, the weather is still warm and you're well ahead of Labor Day weekend. From where I sit, there is still plenty of time to fill your glass with a refreshing rose. Not sure which one to pour? Fear not. I've spent the last couple of months sampling them all (trust me...) and I've narrowed it down to some rose picks that are easy to drink, easy to find and easy on the pocketbook.

Rose Wines to Drink Now, Best Rose Wines

AIX Rose 2016 ($17) // I might have been drawn in by the label, but was very happily surprised with the drinkability of the AIX Rose. I picked up mine at Whole Foods and paired it up with a platter of cheese and veggies (go here for some ideas!).

Saved 'Magic Maker' ($14) // The label design got high marks from Forbes back in 2014, but this limited CA production wine also deserves praise. It's been my pick during concerts this year at both the Bowl and the Greek and I've found it consistently stocked at our local grocery chain store.

Whispering Angel ($19) // I picked up a couple of bottles of Whispering Angel for a family pool day and quickly understood why I've seen this one on so many bar and restaurant menus this season.

Listel Grain de Gris ($10) // Our local walk-up fish counter serves this one and its another one that is just so light and drinkable! Not sure and want a second opinion? Wine-searcher lists this one as climbing in popularity over the last year. Its also affordable enough to serve to the masses while entertaining.

JCB #5 Rose ($19) // I've seen this one priced as high as $29 a bottle which might fall into the splurge category. Catch it on promo right now at or your local BevMo.

I've declared pretty much anything by winemaker Gerard Bertrand a good choice. There are some pretty tasty bottles of bubbly made by this wine house. But I say, start with the Cote de Roses ($13), as its easily found on your grocery store shelf (and at Costco!). Then branch out and sample the Chateau La Sauvageonne ($20) and Gris Blanc ($12) found at chain outlets like BevMo or Total Wine. All three bottles are solid tasty options to drink now through the official end of summer.

Am I missing any of your favorites? Drop me a note in the comments section! There's certainly plenty of time left in these last warm weeks for me to adopt a new favorite.


Monday, August 7, 2017


What we loved and didn't about our Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Remodel

Well hello there!

We are fast approaching the 90-day mark on the backside of our Modern Farmhouse Kitchen reveal for the One Room Challenge (can you even believe it?!). As far as room makeovers go, I know I often wonder how the people living in the space feel about the "after" once the buzz of renovation activity has waned. Would they do anything differently given a second chance?

In that spirit, I thought I'd be a good time to circle back and let you know how things are holding up with our own kitchen remodel, what we're loving and if there are any things we'd reconsider if I had to do it all over again.

A quick reset to catch those of you up with our primary goals for this project.

Improved functionality in our smallish kitchen workspace
Durability across our selection of upgraded surfaces
Lots of layers and textural details
Creative use of space to maximize our what we have
Project an overall brighter background in a shady area of the house
Design it to flow and function well for entertaining
Ensure the update is complimentary with other areas of house

You can see what we started with [here] and what became of the adjoined kitchen / dining areas after in the reveal post [here].

So, let's break it down. Are we loving the changes we made? In short yes. Are there things we'd do differently, well maybe.

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