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Birthday goodies!

Happy birthday girl.

That’s right, I celebrated a birthday earlier this month. While I don’t like to make a big scene about my birthday, I was really excited to be surrounded by cakes, balloons, and I even got sung to, twice! Lucky, lucky girl right here.

I usually spend my birthday with reflection heavy on the brain, but this year, I lounged by the pool and sipped on a peach + wine slushee (get the recipe here). And honestly, I got some pretty cool gifts! I know, I know, that’s not what birthdays are about, but I thought I’d share some of my favorites in case you’re looking to shop for someone on your list.

Laura Geller Summer Goddess Collection – I have gotten a few Laura Geller samples in my monthly Birchbox and continue to be impressed with the quality of this makeup. So, I was pretty amped to get this four-piece collection of full-size products! It comes with Spackle Tinted Make-Up Primer in Champagne (sheer soft gold), Baked Body Frosting Face & Body Glow in Tahitian Glow (mélange of swirled tan, cream and pearly pink), Dramalash Maximum Volumizing Mascara in Black, and Fifty Kisses Lip Locking Liquid Color in Beige Bite (rich nude).

So far, I’ve used the bronzer and the lip color – both I love. The bronzer is the perfect mix of color and highlighter, and even helps to cover redness. The lip color is good for every day, and stays on ALL day with a matte finish. I love it! You can purchase this collection at Ulta.

Q&A a Day 5-Year Journal – This was such a surprise gift, and kind of just what I needed without really knowing it! I’ve always had trouble keeping up with a diary, or a journal, but I’ve read so much recently about the benefits of doing so. This journal is good for five years, and provides a simple question for you to answer each day. This means you can keep a record of your years, but with less of a hassle – I love it! I started writing in it a week ago, and I’m excited to keep it going and then look back at my entries. You can get this journal on Amazon.

Rhinestone Trinket Box – Earlier this year, I met my mom and best friend in Vegas. For my birthday, my mom surprised me with a small, sparkly trinket box in the shape of a fortune cookie, which she bought in Vegas (this isn’t the exact one, but it’s really close). It’s gold, which goes with pretty much everything I own, not to mention that I love keeping my fortunes – especially if they have my lucky numbers on them.

Girl and Dragon Malbec – As a wine lover, any occasion for gifts brings an opportunity for wine. I will always drink wine, and if you’re ever in questions as to what to get me, it’s wine. I will never get enough and I’m always look to taste something new. So, I was pumped when I got a bottle of Girl and Dragon Malbec, which had a cool label (because of course), and later, I found out they’ve won loads of awards. I drank it with homemade vegetarian lo mein and it was scrumptious. You can purchase a bottle on their website.

“The Year of Voting Dangerously” by Maureen Dowd – I don’t often ask for books or buy books because I borrow so many from the library. But this book in particular, has been on my list, and isn’t available at the library. Here’s the description from AmazonTrapped between two candidates with the highest recorded unfavorables, Americans are plunged into The Year of Voting Dangerously. In this perilous and shocking campaign season, The New York Times columnist traces the psychologies and pathologies in one of the nastiest and most significant battles of the sexes ever. Dowd has covered Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton since the ’90s. She was with the real estate mogul when he shyly approached his first Presidential rope line in 1999, and she won a Pulitzer prize that same year for her penetrating columns on the Clinton impeachment follies. Like her bestsellers, Bushworld and Are Men Necessary?, THE YEAR OF VOTING DANGEROUSLY will feature Dowd’s trademark cocktail of wry humor and acerbic analysis in dispatches from the political madhouse. If America is on the escalator to hell, then THE YEAR OF VOTING DANGEROUSLY is the perfect guide for this surreal, insane ride. …And now I can officially add it to my reading list!

Miss Spa facial masks – Much like wine, face masks are another thing I can’t get enough of. If you’re ever wondering what I’m up to, the chances are very likely that I’m sitting in my bed, watching trashy TV, with some sort of clay, sheet, or bee venom mask on my face in hopes I’ll wakeup with radiant skin. Don’t stop believin’! When I was gifted a STACK of Miss Spa facial masks of different varieties, I was excited to add them to my stash. You can get them on Amazon.

Perhaps these awesome gifts I got can serve up some ideas for someone in your life, or heck, maybe you just need to treat yoself. Cheers!

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That 3-day weekend tho.

Whew! It’s sucky because it’s kind of like a Monday, but it’s a little less painful knowing it’s Tuesday, and in just four short days, I’ll be running out of the office a la Kevin McCallister on Christmas Eve yet again. I hope you all had a fabulous weekend – I know I did!

I pretty much did everything on my list; I got started a little early and hit up a taco truck Thursday night. I got two beef tacos, complete with pico and fresh lime, along with some nacho chips. I walked a few blocks home and scarfed them down with a few glasses of Chenin Blanc + Voigner by Pine Ridge.

Friday, I left work and hit the wine shop and found a bottle of Rose that looked delicious (Mulderbosch 2015 – perfect for red wine lovers). Then, I went home and made bacon-burgers with tomato jam and slaw. YUM!

On Saturday, I enjoyed a leisurely morning with coffee (of course), did a few hours of freelance work, and enjoyed a nap. I also cleared out a few hours of TV from my DVR, including “The People’s Couch”, “The Voice”, “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” and “Real World: Go Big or Go Home”.

Then, I drove to Round Rock to see my first Express baseball game – versus the Reno Aces. For starters, the stadium is really nice. I had a third row seat, which meant, I was really close and could see the players nice and well, just in case any of them were cute.

Patrick Cantwell.

Patrick Cantwell.

A few innings in, and I’ll be honest, I was starting to miss the excitement of the Texas Stars games. But then they called up Patrick Cantwell, catcher for the Express, to the plate. His walk out song was “PYT” by Michael Jackson (which is one of my favorite songs), and his number is 3 (my lucky number). Hmm… I flipped to his page in the program. From New York.

Perfect! He is sooooo freaking cute, I thought (pay no mind to the fact that he’s only 26). And then he cracked the bat, scoring the first homer for the Express. They ended up winning 5-4.

I wasn’t really hungry during the game, but I had been thinking about a hot dog all day. So, I swung by Sonic on my way home and got a coney dog and one of those Turtle Pecan blasts – holy shit, those are good!

On Sunday, I had a decent amount of freelance work to get done, so I got up and tackled it for about 4 hours while I watched the Indy 500 in its entirety. I also gave myself a pedicure, and then headed to the Drafthouse to see “Neighbors 2”, where I enjoyed a “Blood & Honey” on draft and another cheeseburger. I told you I was going to eat this weekend!

The movie was pretty funny; very similar to the first one, of course. Zac Efron looked fan-fucking-tastic – nearly too buff, but I’d still take him, no questions asked. I finished up my night with a few glasses of wine in bed and a little TV.

On Monday, I slept in, and stayed in bed as late as possible, out of sheer principle that it was Monday, and I wasn’t at my desk. Glory to God in the highest!

I had my coffee, and I finally ventured onto my patio to get a few things done. I planted the remaining seeds I’d boughten weeks ago – filling two pots with soil for wild flowers, two more pots with soil for cat grass (this is a regular thing I do for Blanche), and filling a final pot with soil for a packet of seeds I got online – tulips! I swept my patio and got things looking clean.

That’s when I realized that it was totally supposed to rain all day Monday and it was sunny, and hot as hell. So, I packed my new beach bag and headed to the pool for THE FIRST TIME. I was surprised to see that there were only a few people there,  so I lounged with my book (“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty) and my white wine spritzer (yeah, I said it) for around 3 hours. It was fantastic!

I got home, got cleaned up, and cooked some chicken, had some wine, and watched “JAWS” – which is the first time I’ve watched it in awhile and it’s definitely interesting seeing it as an adult.

What were you up to this weekend?

Guide: Say ‘okay’ to Rosé.

Ahh, looks refreshing!

Ahh, looks refreshing!

So… we are oonllllyyyyy a daaaaayyyy awaaayyyyy from the official kickoff of summer: Memorial Day weekend! I’m sure summer means lots of different things for you, but one thing it means for me is refreshing cocktails, and that includes a delicious bottle of cold Rosé.

The sad thing is, I think Rosé gets a bad rap, and I’m here to set the record straight: the stuff is tasty. So, let’s hop to it!

What the heck is Rosé?

A Rosé gets its pink hue because it only holds some of the red grape skins – obviously not enough to make it a red wine. It’s the oldest type of wine, because it’s often made using the most traditional method (skin contact). Although popular Rosés are pink in color, this varietal can range in color from very pale to deeper orange. Of course, it also ranges in flavor and textures, just like any other wine – it can be sparkling, bone dry, all the way to very sweet, line a white zinfandel.

How do I order/buy the right Rosé?

Think of Rosé as a type of wine, and not necessarily from a certain region, because it’s not. Just like you can get red or white from pretty much anywhere, the story’s the same for Rosé.

Cute, right!?

Cute, right!?

When ordering, region won’t particularly be an issue, since it’s produced in many corners of the world, however if you’re looking for a dry version, look for European grapes such as Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, and Pinot Noir.

Now, I don’t want to knock the white zinfandel, because I’m not a wine snob. But, it’s not a wine I like, and it’s mass produced and very sweet. If you don’t like sweet, you can ask about the dryness of the wine you might order.

The more dry it is, the less sweet. Those European grapes are going to offer the dryness, whereas Rosé produced in other areas of the world will be more sweet.

One of the most important things to pay attention to when buying or ordering a Rosé is the year – Rosé doesn’t get better with age, so the newer the better. Don’t drink anything older than two years.

What are some delicious Rosés to try?

The great thing is, just like other types of wines, you can get a delicious bottle of Rosé for under $20. Score!

Domaine St. Aix ”Aix” Rosé, $17 

A bright, pale pink wine, this rosé has a crisp acidity to it that makes it a great match for pairing with light salads and Asian food.

Bieler Pere Et Fils Rosé, $13 

A blend of syrah, grenache, and cabernet, this elegant rosé is marked by strawberry and watermelon flavors.

Club W’s “Summer Water”, $18

A deliciously light and airy Rosé made from pinot noir, this is the perfect sipping wine for summer afternoons.

Charles and Charles Rosé, $14 

This Syrah-based rose presents loads of fresh picked strawberry essence and herbal spice on the nose. Elegance, ambiance, and packaged with some serious bottle appeal, the 2015 rose from Charles and Charles delivers exceptional citrus, earthy minerality, sizzling acidity and a dry, crisp, food-friendly finish.

…And there you have it! I don’t see a ton of Rosé options in my local grocery store, but there are a lot of wine shops around. I hope you give Rosé a try if you haven’t, because it really is perfect for summer!

Bucket List: ATX Edition.

Beautiful pic of downtown Austin.

Beautiful pic of downtown Austin.

I’ve lived in Austin, TX for 9 months now (time flies!), and I can honestly say, I’m not sure how long I’ll be here. Don’t get me wrong, in general, Austin is pretty freaking cool, but I just don’t know if I’m ready to say, yes, this is the place I’ll be for the rest of my life.

It’s a commitment I’m not ready to make. But, I definitely want to make the most of my time here, whether it’s two years or 10 years, I want to leave knowing I experienced everything there is to experience in this cool city. So, here’s my list (so far):

  1. Have an Adventure on Lake Travis – I’ve been to Lake Travis a few times already, and it’s gorgeous! But I want to kick things up and have an adventure! There’s all sorts of things out there, such as: jet skis, dinner cruises, parks, wineries, cooking classes, and festivals, among many others. I’m on it!
  2. See a movie at the drive-in theatre – The Blue Starlite Drive-In is one of the best out there, according to Conde Nast. They are always playing cool movies, and it looks like they are playing a “Grease” Sing-a-long this weekend! Might have to hit that up!
  3. Eat at The Salt Lick – This is the place everyone’s heard about, and they’re known for their large outdoor fire pit where they make some (apparently) delicious BBQ!
  4. See the bats – From March to November, the bats are out in Austin! Rumor has it, the largest urban bat colony lives in Austin! There is even a boat tour where you get to see the bats leave the Congress Bridge; definitely must do this.
  5. Hit up Rainey Street – This is the historical area of downtown, although it’s come along way in the last few years. It’s known for its collection of dive bars, but it also has hot brunch spots, pizza places, and a few notable pieces of graffiti.
  6. Eat at The Hula Hut – Located on Lake Austin, it’s always island time at the Hula Hut! Mexican food with a Polynesian twist – this place looks delicious.
  7. Visit Waterloo Records – This shop has been the iconic place to get tunes since 1982, and although Austin’s grown a lot since then, it’s still the mecca for music lovers in Texas.
  8. Have a Moment at Teo Gelato & Espresso – I saw this spot on my way to UT the other night, and after some Googling, I see that this is the real deal; authentic gelato made from scratch. Yum!
  9. Bullock Imax – A part of the Bullock Museum, the IMAX theatre has tons of good flicks coming up, including “Finding Dory” in 3D. I’m admittedly really excited about this!
  10. See a baseball game at UT – I went to the UT campus for the first time two weeks ago, and stomped around a little bit. And I must say, the baseball field looks beautiful. I must see a game there!
  11. Host my own breakfast taco competition – Not a real competition, but I do want to try as many different breakfast tacos from different places, and see who’s got the best one, in my opinion. I’ve already tried them from Taco Deli and Torchy’s (both delicious).
  12. Bullock Texas State History Museum – I don’t really know much about this, but I’ve heard it’s great, and seriously, when was the last time I went to a museum??
  13. Sushi at Uchiko – Saw this place on an episode of #FoodPorn and although I might have to save my whole paycheck to eat it; I must do it.
  14. Pedicure at Caesar’s in the Domain – I saw this place when I was Christmas shopping and it looked so nice, and my hairstylist actually goes there and told me it was great, and sanitary. Always a plus! She said they even serve booze there; count me in!
  15. Austin City Wide Garage Sale – Started in 1977, this isn’t really a garage sale at all, but it’s a bunch of vintage items all in one place on certain weekends of the year. I’ve been on the hunt for a typewriter for awhile now, so maybe this is the place I’ll actually find one!
  16. Wait in line for Franklin BBQ -Waiting in line has become commonplace at Franklin BBQ…and we’re not talking a 20 minute line; it’s at least a 3 hour line. So, you get a bag of tacos and you eat while you wait for the food, and I’ve heard there’s sometimes beer pong.
  17. Dollar hot dog night at a Round Rock Express Game – This happens on Mondays and I’m SO down to hit up a ball game on a boring Monday night! Bring it on, summer!
  18. Lala’s Little Nugget – An Austin institution, Lala’s is known for keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year ’round with Christmas decor and even an old school jukebox. Cash only!
  19. Baylor Street Art Wall – This historic wall shows various street art from many years passed to the present.
  20. Buy Stuff at a Farmer’s Market – There are farmer’s markets all over Austin (seasonally, of course), and I’ve really never been to one. I’d like to go and check out all the fresh grown foods and homemade goodies.
  21. Tour Jester King Brewery – Jester King has a TON of beers, of course, made right here in Austin! Their brewery tours are free, and the tasting room is located right near a local pizza shop. Yes!
  22. Take an Antonelli’s cheese class – Aside from just wanting to visit this shop, I want to take one of their cheese classes, where you get to learn about certain cheeses and the wines that taste best with them. Cheers!
  23. Tackle the Wine Trail –  There are 48 wineries in the state of Texas, and each October, you can purchase a “passport” that provides you with a free tasting at each winery and a discount pass if you buy wine at the wineries! YAS.

I’d also like to note that I’ve already done several things that would be on a bucket list like this, such as Zilker park for Kite Fest and the Trail of Lights, Mozart’s Coffee, went ice skating at Whole Foods, eaten at Hopdoddy, been to several Texas Stars’ games, been to The Oasis, had drinks at Midnight Cowboy, partied on 6th Street, and have seen several movies at the Alamo Drafthouse. I’m all about an ATX adventure!

Nail a wine-inspired lip.

Many years ago, I bought a plum lip pot from Victoria’s Secret (similar item here). It was so dark in the little jar, but when you put it on, it was sheer, yet bold. I used it up quickly, because it was an incredibly luxe gloss that I absolutely loved. Ever since, I’m always on the look out for similar looks that are sexy, yet easy to pull off.

Not to mention, I love wine (check out my complete guide to Merlot), and I am obsessive over makeup (see: How to Rock a Red Lip and/or The Perfect Bold Lip for NYE).

The key to pulling off a wine lip is to pay attention to the other makeup you’re wearing. Many people say that if you want to do a bold lip, you’ve got to mute everything else… not quite true. If you do that, you’ll look like a vampire and/or Wednesday Adams. If that’s not your thing, wear makeup that’s dewy and well, full of life!

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Wine lip hues to try:

Desire Tinted Lipglass by Mac ($18) – Tinted Lipglass is a unique lip gloss can create a high-gloss, glass-like finish or a subtle sheen. Designed to be worn on its own or over a lip pencil or a lipstick, it’s the perfect product for creating shine that lasts. It’s pigmented, very shiny and can impart subtle or dramatic color. It’s formulated with jojoba oil to help soften and condition lips.

Wine Tour Moisturizing Lipstick by e.l.f. Studio ($6) – All e.l.f. lipsticks provide even, natural-looking lip color, without fading or drying out. Each lipstick has been formulated with key ingredients and vitamins to nourish and moisturize lips for a healthy, long-lasting look. e.l.f. Cosmetics offers the best selection of high-quality, affordable lipstick cosmetics.

Shiraz Lip Tint by Wine Country Organics ($7) – This organic grape seed oil lip tint provides rich organic moisturizing with a touch of natural pigment. This 100% natural formula – made with 97% certified organic ingredients – soothes, conditions and moisturizes for soft, beautiful and kissable lips.

Merlot Crème Smooth Lip Colour by Laura Mercier ($27) – Laura introduces a luxurious new lipstick that gives lips the ultimate in colour, texture, and finish. In one smoothing swipe, the creme formula envelops lips in rich colour with a semi-lustrous finish. The cushiony, lightweight texture feels comfortable, while pure Olive Oil and Vitamin E nourish lips. Features an elegant, modern case with a metalized finish. Application technique: Press bullet to lips using even pressure to apply colour on both upper and lower lips; to refresh press lip together.

Divine Wine Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lip Color by Maybelline ($6) Maybelline’s Color Sensational Creamy Matte Lip Color delivers a burst of bold lip color and a surge of creamy texture in make-a-statement shades, for mattes your lips will love to wear!

Copenhagen Soft Matte Lip Cream by Nyx Cosmetics ($9)This matte lip cream is a new kind of lip color that goes on silky smooth and sets to a matte finish. Soft Matte Lip Cream is surprisingly durable and, unlike some matte lipstick formulas, also moisturizing. Delightfully creamy and lightweight, our award winning line just expanded with two captivating new shades. Apply directly to lips, or over lipstick. Apply with lip liner to define outline of lips.

If you’re a wino, like me, and have experience true wine lips after downing a glass a bottle, it’s not really the look you’re going for. To prevent REAL wine lips, make sure you’re regularly exfoliating the lips (try The Lip Scrub). Red wine sticks to dry skin. It’s also a good idea to smear on a little lip balm with olive oil before indulging in a sip session (try 80 Acres).

If it’s too late, and you’re mid-date in the bathroom with wine lips, dap on a dark red hue over the wine-stain and it’ll look like you meant to do it this entire time!

The other part of the problem could be wine teeth. This is not a good look! Avoid getting wine teeth by brushing your teeth before you hit the bar. If possible, sip water between sips of wine. And finally, load up your purse with some Wine Wipes – these suckers are safe for your teeth and will clean up that Merlot mouth ASAP.

So, there you have it – you can master the wine lip in the right way, and avoid the downsides (though they are few and far between) of sipping the sauce.

Guide to Merlot.

I'll take all three, please.

I’ll take all three, please.

Ever notice that my Monday posts are about alcohol? Perhaps it’s because I’m fresh off a weekend of partying (not really), that I really don’t want to go back to the office (maybe), or that I just have a drinking problem (perhaps), in general.

Eh, who really cares? Last week, I was super jealous of someone I’m following on SnapChat because she was in Temecula, California. Let me just explain that Temecula has a special, special place in my heart: 1. it is beautiful, and 2. it is some to some exquisite vineyards and wineries that produce delicious, godly nectar.

Over the years, I’ve taken several wine classes, worked at different bars and restaurants, and been lucky enough to travel to many wineries. I’ve learned a lot about wine, and I’ve also met lots of people who have the hardest time buying a bottle for themselves or ordering a glass at a nice restaurant.

So, you may recall my “Bubbly Basics” at the end of 2014, but don’t be surprised if you see more wine guides ’round these parts. I’d love to drop some knowledge bombs, in the form of wine barrels!

Merlot is one of my favorite varietals, so I chose that to get us started. It’s also something you’ll see on many restaurant wine lists and even in grocery store aisles. No need to splurge here, you can get a fantastic bottle of this stuff for under $10. Let’s get this Merlot Monday going!

Oh, yeah.

Oh, yeah.

What the heck is Merlot?

Merlot is the second-most popular varietal in the United States, right behind Cabernet Sauvignon. It thrives in most climates, which may be why it’s so popular (aside from it being delicious), but it’s known widely in France, Northern Italy, and the warmer regions of Switzerland. In America, Merlot grows well in Northern California and Oregon.

The cool thing about Merlot is that, instead of having a specific flavor, it’s more well-known for it’s smooth, velvety texture. It’s often used to mix in with other varietals, such as Bordeaux and Cabernet. Why? It’s got a thick skin and can mellow out the strong tannins in other varietals. This is what makes Merlot so, so easy to sip.

How do I buy/order the right Merlot?

Merlot is a bit of a chameleon when it comes to flavors, and those flavors really depend on the region where it was grown. So,  when shopping or looking at a menu, pay attention to the location on the label or under the wine name on the wine list. Cooler climates produce one set of flavors while warmer locations create another flavor profile.

Cooler Climate: France, Italy, Chile

  • Licorice, tar, roasted, red, dry, anise, charcoal, mineral,

Warm Climate: California, Argentina, Australia

  • Mocha, cherry, juicy, raspberry, spicy, cocoa, silky, vanilla

What are some delicious Merlots to try?

L’Ecole No. 41 2012 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Merlot, Oregon ($36)

Made in Washington with grapes from Oregon, its black-plum flavors have a subtle bottom note of cocoa.

I'll tap that.

I’ll tap that.

Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2011 Reserve Merlot ($19)

Concentrated aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry and chocolate are layered with notes of cinnamon and vanilla on the mid palate. The subtle and soft finish lingers with toasted oak.

Sebastiani 2010 Merlot, Sonoma County ($18)

Balanced, elegant, fruit forward but not overly ripe, this is an elegant wine with noticeable tannins and great cherry notes.

Concha y Toro ‘Marques de Casa Concha’ 2012 Merlot, Peumo, Chile ($16)

Aged 17 months is French oak barrels and is noted for its smokiness in scent and taste. It also has notable flavors of cherries, plums, licorice, and dark chocolate.

…And there you have it! Next time you need a little Merlot in your life, hopefully you’ll have a little direction and can treat yourself to something delicious. I hope y’all have a great Monday – see you back here tomorrow!

Single Girl Recipe: Holiday Cocktails!

It's Christmastime, cheers y'all!

It’s Christmastime, cheers y’all!

Whether you’re spending the holidays with family, friends, or both, the chances are likely you’ll need a cocktail to get through one more round of dominos with the grandparents or flip through that dusty photo album with your mother-in-law, for the 11th time.

Or, maybe you’re like me, and looking for any excuse to get a sip! As a kid, my dad used to make special drinks for the holidays — drinks we could all enjoy — that simply consisted of cranberry juice and 7Up. We called it a “Cran-Up,” and I always felt so special drinking it out of a festive glass.

The holidays are always so hard on any healthy diet, but they don’t have to be. Earlier this month, Shape Magazine released a list of “Low-Calorie Holiday Cocktails” and they are absolutely fantastic! Below are some of my favorite twists on this year’s list:

The Pomegranate Mojito

1/3 cup light pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 ounce rum
1/4 teaspoon Stevia or sugar
1/2 cup champagne
Pomegranate seeds

In a glass, add pomegranate juice, lime juice, rum, and sugar. Mix well. Fill the glass with ice cubes and top it off with champagne and pomegranate seeds.

Note: I’m not sure how they can call this a “Mojito” given that there’s no mint in the recipe. Add a fresh kick to it by muddling a few fresh mint leaves and stirring them in.

Rosemary Gin Fizz

3 sprigs rosemary
1 small lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 ounces gin
3 ounces club soda

In a small drinking glass, muddle the fresh rosemary, lemon juice, and honey. Fill the glass with ice, then pour with gin and top with club soda.

Not a gin fan? Replace it with vodka (lemon vodka would be delicious, too).

Apple Cider Moscow Mule

2 ounces ginger flavored vodka (but plain will work too)
2 ounces apple cider (we love homemade!)
1 small lime wedge, juiced
Ginger beer to top off, to taste
Cinnamon to sprinkle

In a copper mug, add the vodka, apple cider, and lime juice. Fill the glass with ice, sprinkle cinnamon over the ice, and top off with ginger beer. Stir well and garnish with an apple slice and cinnamon stick.

…And there you have it! What are your favorite things to sip on this holiday season? Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see what’s in my cup at any given moment.

Your zodiac’s wine wish.

Alcohol never looked so pretty.

Alcohol never looked so pretty.

The holidays are here and that means one thing: DRINKS! Okay, so maybe it’s like that ALL year ’round, but let’s pretend like we’re not all functioning drunks, K? Delish.com has put together a list of wines that you’ll love, according to your zodiac sign.

And, I’m not sure what the information is based off, but mine is pretty spot-on. So, there’s that. I’ve beefed up the list with some wines you could try, and a few other fun wine trinkets for the wine lover on your list (wine not?).

ARIES (March 21-April 20) — Energetic, enthusiastic, and sometimes arrogant, the Aries is looking for something fresh and different. Best Wine: Orange Wine. Orange wines are trendy, and are a mix of red flavor with white fruit; call them the new rose. Try Pheasant’s Tears.

TAURUS (April 21-May21) — Down to Earth, practical, and generous, the Taurus needs a bold varietal. Best Wine: Barolo. Once known as Italy’s greatest wine, Barolo is fragrant and tannic. Try Rivata Barolo.

GEMINI (May 22-June 20) — Fast-thinking and intellectual, the Gemini needs a smart, efficient  cocktail. Best Wine: Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc is light-bodied, that’s sweet and dry. Try Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Voigner 2014.

CANCER (June 22-July 22) — Romantic, creative, and kind, this is the sign of your favorite bitter blogger, and this sign needs a good blend. Best Wine: Zinfandel. Red zinfandel features a fruity welcome with a smoky finish. Try St. Francis Old Vines Zinfandel 2012.

LEO (July 23-August 22) — Optimistic, merry, and obsessed with being the center of attention, the Leo needs a drink that gets the party started. Best Wine: Champagne. Bubbles certified from the Champagne region of France. Try Veuve Cliquot Brut Yellow Label.

VIRGO (August 23-September 22) — Analytical, critical, and in love with perfection, Virgos need a sip of something structured and balanced. Best Wine: Pinot Noir. Pinot noir is medium-bodied, and often features flavors of black cherry and raspberry. Try Leese-Fitch Pinot Noir 2013.

LIBRA (September 23-October 22) — People-oriented, balanced, and peaceful, Libras wish for a cocktail that soothes the soul. Best Wine: Riesling. Dry and sweet. Try Rock View Riesling Columbia Valley.

SCORPIO (October 23-November 22) — Powerful, passionate, intense, and curious, a Scorpio needs a strong slugger. Best Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon. Balanced tannins, moderate acidity, and cedarwood flavor. Try Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.C

SAGITTARIUS (November 23-December 22) — Freedom-lovers, well-educated, and philosophical, Sagittarius wishes for a drink that stands out from the crowd. Best Wine: Teran. Full to medium-bodied, tannic, and acidic. Try Terzolo Teran.

CAPRICORN (December 22-January 20) — Ambitious, driven, responsible, and dry, the Capricorn longs for a balancing nightcap. Best Wine: Bordeaux. Dry, medium-bodied and diverse. Try Chateau Villars 2012.

AQUARIUS (January 21-February 18) — Eccentric, quirky, and kin, an Aquarius needs a unique wine. Best Wine: Biodynamic Wine. Grown following biodynamic principles, these wines are said to be delicious. Try 2003 Movia Ribolla. 

PISCES (February 19-March 22) — Emotional, sensitive, and dreamy, the Pisces wants a mood-boosting drink. Best Wine: Pétillant-Naturel wine. Mildly, naturally sparkling. Try Onward Wines 2014 Pet-Nat Suisun Valley.  

Gift Guide for the Wine Lover in Your Life:

Wine2Go, a foldable wine bottle

A wine glass that fits an entire bottle of wine

Wine-Opoly, a Monopoly board game

Corksicle classic wine chiller

3D Wine Glass iPhone 6 case

Fish in the Sea.

I was in the stockroom at work one Saturday, trying to reorganize clothes, when Austin came in complaining about a recent date he went on. The girl he went with worked at A&F with us, just like all of the girls Austin took on dates. His general complaint was a blanket fear of never finding someone.

Then he asked me to dinner.

I had been invited to a pity party. But I was nearly five months out from my breakup with Adam, and I knew it was time for me to get out there. It had been awhile since I’d been on a real first date—one where I didn’t know the person well. I hadn’t been jaded enough yet to hate dates {like I do now}, so I agreed. He seemed thrilled I didn’t reject him, and assured me we would have lots to talk about, but I didn’t know how true that was.

The next weekend, I was getting ready for the date in the sorority house, and my roommate warned me of two things. She said, “Holly, don’t get too drunk, and two, don’t go to The Caterie.”

The Caterie wasn’t the problem—it was the band playing at The Caterie. I had an innocent crush on the lead singer, but it turned gruesome once I mentioned it in a column, and gave his girlfriend a nickname. Since then, I wasn’t the most welcomed among fans.

But I was ready to head out, and Austin arrived at the house to pick me up. Once I got in the car, he said he knew where he wanted to take me—Bonefish Grill. On the drive there, we were messing around with his CD player. He had a few different CDs in the dash, and we randomly selected three songs to see how they might describe our approaching night out—an electronic 8-ball, if you will.

The first song was the remix of “What’s Love” by Fat Joe and Ashanti. The second was an Enya song. And I can’t remember the third—probably because the first song was the one most likely to describe the next few years I had with Austin.

We made it to Bonefish Grill, where there was a wait. We talked some while we sat outside. I remember being nervous we would have nothing to say to each other. He told me I looked nice, sort of.

“Thank you for dressing appropriately,” he said.

Once we got our table, I was completely impressed. He was officially wining and dining me—we ordered glasses of wine, so many that it should’ve been a bottle. And we each got decadent seafood meals, it was very delicious. To my delight, we did have a lot to talk about. Of course, we covered the bases: hobbies, school, family, etc. But Austin was daring and cut to the chase, asking me about politics and religion, too.

After we closed down the restaurant, Austin said he wanted to go someplace else. We drove by Duvic’s, a martini bar {that would be the next stop in a romance years later}, but ended up going to The Caterie.

There I was, a little too drunk for a first date, and in the very spot I was warned not to be. But I didn’t mention this to Austin, and we went to the bar. I lead him upstairs, hoping to avoid any run-ins with a very pissed off girlfriend. Once upstairs, we took shots of red snapper—premixed. It was disgusting. But we got beers and sat at a ledge near the stairs.

During our conversation, I carved our initials into the ledge: HP + AF. Shortly after, he drove me back to the sorority house, asked me for a second date, and kissed me goodnight. I stored the date away as one of the best yet, and went to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, Austin had sent me a text:

“Thanks for having dinner with me…and taking my breath away.”

I didn’t know it then, but I was hooked.