September 18, 2014

Simple Non-Alcoholic Drink Recipes to Make

I love a delicious cocktail, but sometimes an event (or a person's lifestyle) calls for something non-alcoholic. There's no reason to think that just because alcohol isn't involved you can't serve unique and delicious beverages. This morning, I'm joining those folks at Knoxville's Fox43 to share three simple recipes for delicious non-alcoholic drinks. Check them out!

Simple and Delicious Non-Alcoholic Drinks

1) Power Tea 

This drink would be perfect for tailgating, especially while preparing to cheer on the Tennessee Volunteers. Even if you aren't a Vol for Life, you can still enjoy this tasty concoction. You might want to change the name though! 

Power Tea Recipe: 

Brew 1 gallon iced tea (I used Tazo orange flavored). Stir in 4 cups orange juice. Add 1 liter orange flavored sparkling soda. Stir together, serve with ice and enjoy. 

2) Mocha Madness 

For all those coffee lovers out there, this non-alcoholic drink might give you a little buzz...but caffeine is the only source of its spirit. To create it, brew a pot of coffee. While the coffee is still warm, sweeten it to taste. After it cools, stir in heavy whipping cream to your liking. Some people enjoy a darker coffee, while others enjoy a little coffee in their milk. To this, add two small scoops of mocha ice cream (or mocha gelato). As everything melts together, you get a wonderful mixture! 

This drink would be wonderful for your next book club or game night! 

3) Cheers Darling Hibiscus Mocktail 

This recipe was the simplest of all, but the drink is so refreshing! You start by placing a preserved hibiscus flower in the bottom of your glass. I tried several package stores as well as a gourmet chef's market before finally finding hibiscus at a local grocery store (The Fresh Market).

The blossoms come packed in syrup and sort of taste like raspberry. You can eat them, but I don't think I would. From here, just pour a carbonated drink of some kind over the flower. I used a hibiscus flavored sparkling soda (Onli brand, purchased at Publix). This makes the loveliest drink and so easy!

This could be great for a baby shower or bridal luncheon. Of course if you want to make a more adult version, you could top the hibiscus flower with champagne or another type of sparkling wine.

Cheers, darling! 

September 14, 2014

What I Want

I want to pay more attention, not less.
I want to get wiser instead of smarter. 
I want to listen more and zone out less. 
I want to spend more time with people I love and less time with people I have to impress. 
I want to give of myself, my time, my energy, and my resources without ever worrying that there won't be enough to go around. 
I want to cook beautiful, delicious, decadent meals for my family and never take a single photo for Instagram. 
I want to travel to distant lands, and have new adventures. 
I want to create new inside jokes with old friends. 
I want to eat cold spaghetti out of a bowl while standing in front of my grandma's refrigerator. 
I want to wear my fancy perfume, the one I've been saving for a special occasion. 
I want to stand up straighter. 
I want to laugh 300 times each day. 
I want to create more and consume less. 
I want the days and hours and minutes of my life to count for something. 
I want to do a cartwheel. 
I want to stop judging everybody so damn much. 
I want to stop judging myself most of all. 
I want to send more letters and postcards. 
I want to find an authentic Hermes scarf at a thrift store for ninety nine cents. 
I want to have more picnics
I want to see each person, really see him or her, and quit lumping them all together as some collective 'other.'
I want to learn once and for all that the value of an experience has very little to do with its monetary measure.
I want to accept the past for what it was, realize it's over and let it go.
I want to remind myself that nothing is impossible if you refuse to give up.
I want to make the world's best deviled eggs.
I want to give more than I take.
I want to leave things better than I found them.
I want us to agree that I can want what I want, and you can want what you want and neither cancels out the other.
I want to throw away the rule book and declare us all winners.
I want to remember every day that all of this is worth it.

Now your turn. What do you want? #WhatIWant 

September 11, 2014

Memories of College Days Gone By: Transportation Woes & Blinky

The other morning I found myself stuck behind a school bus while hurrying to a business meeting. It wasn't just any ordinary school bus. The bus I was stuck behind happened to be a University of Tennessee transit bus, one out of a fleet of many like it that zips around campus taking students to and from class or wherever glamorous places they happen to be going.

I found myself reminiscing about my own college days and feeling a tiny bit bitter because we didn't have such fancy (or reliable) transportation.

8 a.m. class on the other side of campus? Back then, it meant waking up extra early and hoofing it [a fancy term for walking]. Nowadays students probably have an app on their smartphones that alerts them to when the bus is coming so they don't have to spend even an extra minute waiting in the elements.

I'll never forget my cousin, who was older by six years, telling me about her first day of college experience. She got up early and put on a cute pair of sandals with her linen walking shorts (people, it was 1994). She said by the time she got to class, she was a disheveled mess complete with blisters, sweaty hair, and other war wounds.

I vowed never to experience this during my college days, but probably took it to the other extreme by wearing stretchy pants and t-shirts way too frequently. Once, while eating lunch with a group of girls from my sorority, a friend glanced my way and asked me, "Didn't you wear that shirt yesterday?"

Without missing a beat, my roommate piped up and said "Yeah, and she slept in it too." Not my finest fashion (or hygiene) moment.

But back to the issue of transportation. It kind of makes me feel like a grandma or grandpa with the proverbial story of walking to school up hill both ways in the snow. "In my day, there weren't any high falutin' buses. We had to walk to class (uphill both ways)."

The thing is, walking was good for us. I actually miss all the walking I did in college. And I enjoyed getting to walk with people, and talk to them while we walked. Nobody had his or her phone out because cellphones were for 'emergencies only' and mainly just used at night, when the free minutes kicked in.

[Another side note - My freshman year of college, I was the only person I knew with a laptop computer and I never once took it to class with me...that's what my spiral bound notebooks were for, duh.]

In so many ways, I'm grateful for what we didn't have back then. I'm grateful there was no social media, no Twitter or Facebook, no Instagram.

[As if! Our Blinky van was never this cool looking]
One thing we did have while I was in college that I doubt still exists on UT's campus is Blinky. Blinky was a 15-passenger Ford van with a blinking strobe light on the roof. This phantom cab of sorts made one wide continuous loop around campus after dark, picking up and dropping off mainly unaccompanied ladies and people on crutches so they wouldn't have to walk unsafely to their destinations. I spent many a night outside my dorm or the dorm of a friend, scanning the horizon for that dimly blinking light, hoping that Blinky was on its way. Blinky drivers really made the experience what it was too, some not speaking a word while others talked your head off, taking each curve on two wheels.

I know these are just silly stories. But there's more to it than that.

Each subsequent generation will have different experiences. And each will probably think they had it harder than the next one. And in some ways maybe that's true. But I know that kids today face different challenges. In many ways, I think it's harder now than ever before.

One day people who haven't even been born will teleport to their college classes and their parents will bemoan the way they used to have to ride only solar powered buses (the audacity!).

But for now, I'll reminisce about the way it was for me. And maybe you have some fond memories about the way things were in your experiences. I hope so!

September 10, 2014

Why You Should Always Marry the Funny Guy

As a bride-to-be, I've spent a lot of time thinking about marriage...what it means, and what it might be like. Even before I was engaged, I thought about it. Heck, before I ever met my beau I thought about it then too.

As a little girl, I sometimes imagined the man I might date and eventually marry. In my teen years, I had a ridiculous list of qualities that I wanted in a mate...written on a sheet of paper torn from a composition book, now lost (thank goodness). I'd be too mortified to read what my 14-year old self sought in a life partner, let alone want to share it with y'all.

Whatever was included in that magical list of must-have qualities, I'm positive I thought it was a combination that would equal true love and happiness.

I'm sure lots of researchers would say there's a science to matchmaking. That based on a thorough list of qualities and personality traits, it can be determined what partner might be best for you. I haven't done online dating but I was always intrigued by how those types of sites pair people up. I've known several couples who met online and are very much in love so I'm not disparaging that method at all, but I just wonder how a computer can determine who might go with whom.

When I first met my beau (soon to be husband), I never considered him to be someone I'd end up dating or potentially marrying. He was friendly enough, but I thought he had terrible fashion. When he finally asked me out on a date, I said yes because it had been so long since I'd had a date and I was caught up in the excitement and terror of getting ready to graduate from college a few weeks later.

Over the next decade, our relationship has deepened and gone through all sorts of wonderful and challenging periods. Hopefully we've both changed for the better. But one thing that has not changed and I hope never will is his ability to make me laugh.

I don't mean the kind of jokes that you politely chuckle at to spare someone's feelings. I'm talking about belly laughs. The kind where you can't believe something could be so funny and you need to say "please stop, it hurts to laugh anymore."

Whether it's something he's doing on purpose to be funny (ask him to tell you about the high society of Birmingham) or just being himself (accidentally using the dog's toothbrush, mixing up the meanings of popular phrases "pigeon hole" vs. "pigeon toe", etc), he never ceases to make me laugh and laugh.

Of course I think he's attractive to look at too, but we all know that looks can change, as can any other physical qualities.

I'm no relationship expert. I've really only had the one so there's not much for me to compare it to, but I know we've been able to laugh our way through some trying times. And I'm certain more challenges are ahead. But it'll be okay. Because we can laugh about them. Eventually.

So if you find yourself looking for a mate, my advice is to find one who makes you laugh. And keep him/her around for the long haul.