Grapefruit-Saffron Mocktail

Summer is ending! I woke up this morning to the first seventy-five degree day we've had in what seems like an eternity. This meant of course that I rode into town with the windows rolled down and arrived at my destination with hair wind-teased to the max...and no comb to my name. So that was fun. I know that we'll have hot days to come but here's hoping that the the searing heat will temper into something a little more golden and lazy. And it is in that spirit that I share a recipe for Grapefruit Saffron "mocktails," one of the drinks I developed for The Gallery Life event back in July. This drink is non-alcoholic and therefore entirely safe for pregnant women and children, but possesses the midway "bitter" flavor of an aperitif so those of you who aren't all about sweet to the max should enjoy the drink we nicknamed "Bombay Sunset." With a double-dose of citrus from the rind and juice of grapefruit and an unexpected twist of black pepper, this drink is one with which to welcome Indian Summer.

Grapefruit Saffron Syrup:

1/2 cup red grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed)
1/2 cup water
Rinds from grapefruit*
2 Tablespoons Turkish honey
1/3 cup white sugar
8 threads saffron
2 teaspoons black peppercorns

1.) Dissolve sugar in water and grapefruit juice and bring to a simmer. Add saffron, peppercorn, and honey and simmer on low for ten minutes. Strain, cool, and bottle. When making a drink, add two tablespoons of the syrup to 6 oz. of sparkling water. Add ice.
* I save the rinds after straining and dry on waxed paper, then use them for garnish in the drinks

Garlic & Vanilla - The Summer Tomato Adventure

“Combine a teaspoon of raspberry vinegar, a teaspoon vanilla oil, a couple drops of garlic oil, and a half teaspoon of orange powder, and slather it onto half a beautifully ripened tomato. The first time I tried this, the taste was so unexpected it made me laugh.” -David Benley

I don't remember when I made a note on my phone containing this quote. I'm not even certain where I found the quote itself. Maybe I pulled it out of a food magazine. Maybe it was a newspaper. A cookbook. Someplace. The material point is that the oddity of the suggested flavor-combination was enough to make me “tear out” the quote and save it for later. Today I tried it and filmed the results. Nothing like some flavor adventure!

(rough recipe)

1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon orange marmalade
juice from one small clove garlic
2 drops vanilla extract

Summer Favorites: The Instagram Round-Up

Call me a millenial. Call me obssessed. Whichever you'd rather, but the truth is that when I'm with my friends I sometimes ask who they follow on Instagram and watch them scroll through their feeds. Some of my favorite accounts to follow have come to me this way so today I'm sharing my favorite Instagram accounts here on Lipstick & Gelato in hopes to help some of you share in some of the daily inspiration I enjoy. If you'd like, leave a comment with some of your favorites!

"I was running late to meet one of my friends for dinner and accidentally locked myself out of my apartment. My friend came to pick me up and I called a locksmith company to schedule a time for them to come open my door later that evening. During dinner I spilled my guts out to my friend about exactly who I envisioned my dream man to be. I wanted an olive skinned Israeli with dark hair and warm eyes who was my age so we could build a life together. Someone funny without ego who was smart, hardworking, and came from a good family. We talked for so long we closed down the restaurant and I had to reschedule my appointment with the locksmith company 3 times. My friend drove me home and as we pulled up, we noticed the locksmith was waiting in the driveway. She lowered her window down and so did he. We locked eyes and smiled at each other. I thought he was gorgeous, and I instantly knew he was Israeli! The sparks were flying and I could literally FEEL the chemistry between us as we both got out of the car. My girlfriend looked at me and said "Good luck..." as if she knew. Fast forward 6 years later, I'm now married to that locksmith and we have a precious 20 month old baby. I'm so grateful that my clumsiness finally came in handy for something." (📸: @laurencbelknap)
A photo posted by The Way We Met (@thewaywemet) on

@thewaywemet - this account is completely about the way various couples have met. And hopeful romantic that I am, it makes my day every time a new post comes through. Follow them - you won't regret it.

A photo posted by Emma Lisette Palmer🌻 Australia (@emmadrawseveryday) on

@emmadrawseveryday - this artist and her consistently charming, quirky creativity makes me smile on repeat. <3

A photo posted by Brittany Wright (@wrightkitchen) on

@wrightkitchen - in an Instagram word of minimalism and no-color, Brittany Wright is a breath of organized rainbow. I adore her gradient photos and the way she sees art in the deceptively basic canvas of food in her kitchen.

@willowcurves - a fresh-feeling fashion account run by a curvy-girl model who consistently keeps it classy and lends daily style-inspiration. I love her eye-makeup skills as well.

A photo posted by brinson lomax mcgowan iv (@brinsonmcgowan) on

@brinsonmcgowan - I came across the account of this golden-hearted photographer in a roundabout way - his girlfriend is a very slight acquaintance of mine - but ever since finding him, I've been treated to an endless supply of inspiring portraits and photos of nature accompanied by thoughtful captions. Definitely worth a follow.

@theadoredlife - I think I've shared Alissa's account before, but her peppy, sassy photos and captions are like a little sip of lemonade in a world of dull water-glasses.

Who are your Instagram favorites this summer?

Vlog: Currently Reading

Thought it was finally time for another vlog - apologies for the slight blur effect in moments. Something was not jiving with my camera lens. 

Happy Birthday, Lipstick And Gelato + Giveaway

Yesterday was the official first birthday of this blog space! Over the last year Lipstick & Gelato has been through so much. We've seen giveaways and style posts, articles on entrepreneurs, recipes ranging from the comfortable to the outlandish, random vlogs and posts on the best food to try while traveling. I've loved getting to know each of you over the last twelve months - it's always so much fun to hang out with other people who love art, food, and fashion! You people (and the way this blog lets me interact with you) is probably the top reason I blog at all. So to celebrate the first anniversary of Lipstick & Gelato, I'm giving away one of my favorite things:

Three months of surprises!

Yep! I am giving away a 3-month subscription to Birchbox! I talked recently about how much I adore Birchbox and their monthly boxes. I've discovered some of my favorite beauty products since subscribing two years ago, including the end-all-be-all illuminating cream, the perfect red lipstain, my favorite daily-wear perfume, my favorite eye shadow palette, and more. It's like Christmas every four weeks and you know how much I love holidays. So when thinking of what I wanted to give away for this blog's birthday, a 3-month subscription to one of you readers soon became the most inspiring option as I get to keep showering fun times on you for the next 90 days! Please enter and share the giveaway below - I will be a choosing a winner this Wednesday, August 17th.

NYC Edibles

We made a pact: no Starbucks while in New York City. Accordingly, the last purchase from the old stand-by was made in the Norfolk airport at around five a.m. Saturday morning. In the book of Cardinal Rules About Traveling I think “no chain restaurants” is tops. I mean, why on earth would you travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles only to eat the same food or drink the same coffee you could get in your own town? Thankfully I was traveling with my sister, a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, which meant I was traveling with someone who had done her research. She suggested coffee shops, we collaborated on food stops, and we left a lot up to spontaneous suggestion.

We enjoyed three different coffee stops (not including the Plaza Hotel and a hot cuppa at Wafels & Dinges), five different restaurants, a desperate lunch at Whole Foods during the startling ghost-town which is The Weekend in the Financial District, Belgian waffles, the city's best cheesecake, and a skimpy serving of Ben & Jerry's. Here's the short list of our food and coffee experiences with our collaborative rating based off flavor, convenience, and price! (PC: Sarah Heffington)

Little Collins – MIDTOWN: This uber-local coffee shop on Lexington Ave. was the first coffee shop in NYC to employ the Modbar method* of coffee brewing. A self-labeled “Australian-style” coffee shop, Little Collins was the perfect way to kick off our experience of the NYC's coffee scene. It's a tiny shop but the prices are reasonable, the coffee excellent, and the food amazing. I went with “The Smash,” a hunky slice of toast topped with a bright-tasting avocado and feta mash topped with pepitas and red pepper flakes. Recommend 4 ½ out of 5. Half-point deduction for lack of seating.

*”Modbar is a new and revolutionary coffee brewing experience Completely modular with all the major hardware under-counter, all the customer experiences are beauty 'taps' that are designed for espresso, steam, and drip coffee...” -BAR NINE COLLECTIVE

Two Boots Pizza – LOWER EAST SIDE/ YORKTOWN: We found this New Orleans-inspired pizza parlor by accident and, having committed to eating there decided on the “Bayou Beast” which boasted “spiced shrimp, crawfish, andouille, jalepeno, and mozzerella.” For a reasonable price you get plenty of pizza and it is nice and crispy on the bottom as I enjoy my pizza. Loses points for the weird dusting of cornmeal which made me feel like I was eating a pizza burger on an English muffin. 3 ½ of 5 stars.

Shake Shack – TIMES SQUARE: I have been to the Shake Shack in the Buckhead area of Atlanta and loved it, but the Shake Shack in Times Square was so incredibly jam-packed it made eating a strange, gangly affair. Standing room only and even then we had trouble finding a spot to park our food as we shared a the Smoke Stack and cheese fries. Bonus: free water. 3 out of 5 stars to this particular location for the unpleasant business of eating here. Good food, though. Cannot complain about that.

FIKA – FINANCIAL DISTRICT: Unlike the others coffee shops we visited, FIKA's Financial District location was entirely empty on the rainy Sunday morning we visited, apart from one older gentleman working quietly on his laptop near the large windows. I ordered a dirty chai latte and while the foam on the latte was amazing, I was disappointed by a lack of depth in the chai flavor. Definitely not complex. The chocolate croissant, however, baked at FIKA's Midtown bakery, shattered devastatingly well and served as a foil to the lack of complexity in my chai. 3 ½ of 5 stars to this shop based off sluggish service and a lack of pizazz to their chai blend. Still a lovely place to get out of the rain and breathe a moment.

Joe's Shanghai – MIDTOWN, CHINATOWN, FLUSHING: This place, tho. We'd been craving Chinese all weekend and while watching the rats come out in Central Park around dusk (yes, the rats), we did a little research and found this decent-sounding restaurant not far from our corridor of Fifth Avenue. A more or less hole-in-the-wall treasure, Joe's seems to be a favorite of locals. I think we were the only tourists in the restaurant as we enjoyed pan-fried vegetable dumplings and a plate of “intensely chewy” Shanghai noodles topped with steamed spinach and perfectly-cooked shrimp. I highly recommend Joe's and am deducting one star based off the lack of personable waiters and the slightly above-average price for Chinese. Totally worth it though. 4 of 5 stars. I already look forward to a return trip.

Wafels & Dinges – BRYANT PARK: We worked long and hard to find this elusive Belgian Waffle joint, having heard mysteriously magnificent things about its waffles. The main difficulty in locating it was the malfunctioning of our map app in the environs paired with a heavy drizzle, having already walked twelve miles, and laboring under the delusion that it was based out of a food truck. Voted #1 Food Truck in America (there lies the deception) we knew Wafels would be worth the confusion. Let me save you the trouble: Wafels and Dinges (pronounced “Ding-us”) can be located in a gazebo-like structure in Bryant Park on the West (back right-hand) corner when facing the New York Public Library. Get your waffle. Get your hot coffee. Love it to death. I chose de s'mores wafel smeared with spekuloos, toasted marshmallows, and melted Belgian chocolate. To die for.

The Palm Court Restaurant, Plaza Hotel – MIDTOWN: Our main splurge for the trip was the bucket-list item of breakfasting at the Plaza Hotel like Eloise. Just like Eloise. On this particular (Sunday) morning the breakfast options were limited to the buffet...but what a buffet. It was more like being invited for a lazy snow-day morning banquet at Buckingham Palace and once you were done filling your plate from the dazzling table, full service began at your side with waiters dropping by to refill your coffee, pour a cup of tea from the pot, top off your glass of orange juice, or inquire about your satisfaction. I felt exactly like an elite member of the upper crust which is exactly how one wants to feel when eating at the Plaza Hotel. 5 of 5 stars. I'd do it again in a heartbeat if I had the funds.

Carnagie Deli – MIDTOWN: If you want cheesecake and you want New York cheesecake and you want cheesecake to ruin all other cheesecake for you forever more, then you'll want to dive for the immense $10 slices to be had at Carnagie Deli. Sarah and I trekked back up toward Times Square, retrieved our slices to the amusement of the waitress, and dodged back to our hotel (through a monsoon) where we proceeded to enjoy half in bed and half for breakfast the following morning. Supreme cheesecake there. I adore it. My only quibble is their choice of whole graham crackers instead of crumbs as the crust. I take issue with that but it's a forgivable sin. 5 of 5 stars, y'all. Make this stop a point on your itinerary.

Ground Central – MULTIPLE LOCATIONS: If you like a bustling, locally-loved, high-quality coffee shop with reasonable prices and swift service you will want to pin-point every Ground Central location near your hotel when you come to NYC. We visited the nearest branch to our Lexington Ave. hotel on Monday morning before heading down to Grand Central Station (oh, the puns) and were rewarded with great coffee and a charming picture of businessmen lounging in the back reading room, steaming coffee keeping company with laptops and spreadsheets. 4 ½ of 5 stars.

contraband photo of The Palm Court

48 Hours in NYC: What To Do With Your Time

Home from New York! It was a weekend we won't soon forget – and not because New York was instantly magical! Actually, quite the opposite, but there is time to get to all of that. Suffice it to say, the longer I stayed in the City the better I liked it and by Monday (weekdays bring the classic NYC experience into existence) I didn't want to leave. This week on the blog will be NYC catch-up week. I'll be featuring posts on trip-planning, on many places we ate, on the style-trends we witnessed, and of course many of the photos the official trip photographer (my sister) took of our misadventures. That being proposed, here are suggestions on

How To Get The Most Out Of Two Days In New York City*

  • Plan loosely but don't worry about scheduling.
Sarah and I had a list of sites we specifically wanted to see such as the Manus x Machina exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and breakfast at the Plaza Hotel's Palm Court Restaurant, but we also left plenty of time for spontaneous exploration as well as options for changing our tentative schedule of events. The beauty of having a malleable schedule is this: one has time for unexpected detours and those detours are often some of the finest. Schedule things that need reservations (The Plaza or a Broadway show) and leave the rest tentative. You'll love the sense of freedom attending spontaneity. 

  • Carry a physical map
As helpful as it may be, don't rely completely on your phone's map apps. In certain places in the city (Times Square & environs) the signal is dodgy or your battery might drain and you do not need to be lost if you have a fold-up map! Also, there is something extra satisfying about navigating with a map in hand. Manhattan is built off a grid-like basis. You can do this. It's almost impossible to get lost, unlike DC. While your app works, however, use an app like TripAdvisor to help pin-point spots you don't want to miss!

  • Stay in Manhattan
Of course no one is going to fault you for crossing the Brooklyn Bridge or taking the (free) Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but if you're looking to make the most of your short burst of time, stay on the Island. There is so much to see and so much to do you won't get through it all. No need to go off-brand this trip.

  • Choose one thing on which to splurge
Maybe you have an endless budget like some of those women in Bergdorf Goodman's. If you do, I congratulate am woefully jealous of you. But for those of us who don't have a huge budget, pick one thing you'll go all-out on and spend your money there. For Sarah and I, that was breakfast at the Plaza Hotel's Palm Court restaurant. A bucket list item for me and 100% worth the cost. NYC is one of those places where it's entirely okay to spend a little more on yourself than usual but instead of worrying about it, go whole-sale on one thing and enjoy the guts out of it. 

  • Familiarize yourself with the subway system
Before heading in, I wasn't sure if we would even use the subway system that much. However it soon became a mercy in cases, like Sunday, when we trekked from Midtown to the Financial District and Tribeca. Weekend service is all botched up so knowing the alternate subway routes and which head which direction is incredibly valuable and makes you feel like you actually know what you're doing when in reality you're really just hoping you don't have to transfer in a super sketch bit of town.

  • Get out of Times Square
Personally, I hated Times Square. It could have been the fact that it was a rainy weekend night when I saw the place, but the enormity of the flashing screens, and the mechanized feel of it all was overwhelming. I felt like we'd been thrown into a video game without consent and that if I bounced hard enough on the sidewalk I might win points and a bonus life (which incidentally might come in handy in the case of a mugging). It's important to see if only to say you've been there, but there are far better places to spend your time in New York City. I strongly urge you to give Times Square a quick trot-through and get your tail to the outlying parts of town where you'll get an idea of parts of the City where its residents spend their time. I recommend walking through Times Square on Seventh Ave., exploring the West Side Theatre District for a couple streets, then cutting East on W. 40th St till you hit Bryant Park. Order a Belgian waffle from Wafels & Dinges and check out the gorgeous New York Public Library. 

  • Get to know your surroundings

We stayed at the Hilton Doubletree Metropolitan on Lexington Ave. - a good part of town. Even so, it was helpful during the daytime to take note of the swiftest routes, cleanest side of the street, and spots with the least wait-time for crossings. This made our trips back to the hotel swifter and safer, allowing for more time seeing the City! No one wants to spend time avoiding traffic, construction, or beggars!

  • Wear comfortable shoes

People say this and you think you're obeying and then you walk thirty miles in three days (and we used the subway system several times!) and you realize you didn't take them seriously. Of all the shoes I bought, my espadrilles were the life-saver. They got wet every time it rained but dried fairly quickly and provided enough support to help with the crippled feeling every time I stood after sitting for a while.  

* we spent just over forty-eight hours in NYC and in that time were able to hit these sites at least once:

Little Collins (Australian coffee shop, Lexington Ave)
Central Park (twice)
Metropolitan Museum of Art (admission by donation)
Two Boots Pizza (Upper East-Side location)
Albertine (French-English bookstore and reading room)
Fifth Avenue
Tiffany & Co.
Dolce & Gabbana
Bergdorf Goodman
Michael Kors
The Plaza Hotel
The Palm Court Restaurant
Rockefeller Plaza & 30 Rock (three times, by the end)
Top of the Rock ($30, 360-degree views of Manhattan. Totally worth it)
Radio City Music Hall
Times Square
Theatre District (Hamilton, Finding Neverland, Aladdin, The Nederlander, etc.)
Shake Shack
Wafels & Dinges
Bryant Park
Paley Park
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Trinity Church
Staten Island Ferry (free: views of Ellis Island & Statue of Liberty)
Financial District & Federal Hall
FIKA (Swedish coffee shop)
Trinity Church (Alexander and Eliza Hamilton are buried here)
9/11 Memorial & Ground Zero
Joe's Shangai
Carnagie Deli (best cheesecake in town)
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Ground Central (coffee shop, chain)
Grand Central Station
New York Public Library (see original Winnie The Pooh stuffed animals here!)