Running from the Law: March 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Shaker & Spoon - A Monthly Cocktail Subscription Box Review

A few weeks ago I was driving to work and listening to one of my favorite podcasts called Stuff You Should Know and they made a reference to Shaker & Spoon, a monthly subscription box that sends you ingredients to make your own specialty cocktails. Those of you that know me well (or even a little bit) probably realize how excited this made me - two of my favorite things in the whole world (subscription boxes and booze!), combined into one. I've quite possibly never been so excited to get to my computer that morning so I could look up this company and get my hands on a box! 

How it Works
Shaker & Spoon is a cocktail subscription built around one different liquor each month. Each box contains all the ingredients (other than the alcohol) for you to make a dozen drinks using 3 different cocktail recipes (all using the same liquor). You provide the booze and they basically provide the bartender. The box contains 5 cards - 1 card explaining the concept and includes a list of ingredients, 1 card is a glossary of bartending techniques/terms and appropriate glassware and 3 separate recipe cards that walk you through the cocktail making process. The recipe cards teach you how to  mix, muddle, shake, stir and garnish the cocktails and the glossary explains everything you need to know to be a mixologist. Each box's glossary is specific to that month's box, but the full glossary can be found on their website
When your box ships, you get an email with the shipping information, along with a few recommendations from the company for what liquor you should have ready (including specific brands) and the recommended barware. The email came a couple days before the box arrived, so I had plenty of time to make it to the grocery store and pick up a bottle of tequila. I like that they gave a mid-shelf and budget option, so I could choose between the two price points. While the barware is recommended and probably makes it easier to follow directions exactly, I will say that there were quite a few things that we didn't have on hand, but did just fine without. 

What You Get
In addition to the cards described above, each Shaker & Spoon cocktail box includes all the ingredients to make 12 cocktails (4 of all 3 recipes). Everything you need to make the drinks (other than the booze and the ice) is included in the box (and almost always vegan), from citrus to syrups to salts. I loved pulling out each little vial of syrup or bag of spices to examine, taste and smell. All the syrups and salts are made in-house by the Shaker & Spoon team and they come in such awesome little bottles with droppers and pretty labels. I absolutely loved all the fun ingredients they sent. I can't even tell you how many times I've wanted to make a new recipe only to get discouraged because it called for simple syrup or bitters or something else I didn't have on hand, didn't want to make or didn't want to buy just to use a couple drops. But now!!! This makes it so incredibly easy to make fancy cocktails in your own home without any of the prep work or hassle of finding/making these ingredients. 

I actually looked up some of their past ingredients to get a better idea of what I could expect and here are a few of my favorites: green tea kukicha twig syrup, floral celery bitters, black pepper ginger syrup, Kaffir lime leaves, hibiscus syrup, goji berries, orange bitters, spearmint extract, rosewater, lemon-infused sparkling water, cinnamon syrup and ginger flower syrup. I'm not even kidding. 
Agave Blanco Box
The box I received was called the Agave Blanco Box and I purchased a bottle of Espolon tequila blanco (about $25). The box came with 4 limes, 1 lemon, 1 cucumber, 2 chili peppers, 1 bottle of ginger beer, tajin (spicy salt), hellfire tincture, mole bitters, simple syrup, agave syrup, and Mexican spice syrup. Don't ask me what all these are because I have no idea...but I do know they were delicious. The three recipes were the Burro Buck, the Old Oaxaca and the Jefe Del Pepino. 
I have to admit that even though I bartended for a while prior to starting law school, I was a bit intimidated by the recipes. I love margaritas, cucumbers and ginger beer, but I didn't know how I was going to feel about these drinks, particularly if they were super spicy. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I loved all of them. They had a hint of spice, but nothing was super intense or too powerful. Plus, once I made one drink, I knew how to dial the spice up or down based on the ingredients. I was really excited about how much I liked all the drinks, but of course I had a favorite, so let's start there. 
The Burro Buck was a combination of limes, tequila, Mexican spice syrup and ginger beer. This cocktail was light and refreshing and crisp. I loved it and refused to even let Ryan have a sip because I wanted it all to myself. I loved the way the recipe has you cut lime slices and put in the drink - such a cool presentation and I felt so fancy drinking this!  
The next cocktail we tried was the Old Oaxaca, which was made of tequila, agave syrup, bitters, hellfire tincture and lemons. This one was strong, but so so good. I loved the lemon in this one and it made me excited for the summer and lemonade cocktails by the pool. It was surprisingly easy to make, despite terms like swath and tincture. 
Ryan's favorite cocktail of the three was the Jefe Del Pepino. This one had limes, cucumbers, tajin, simple syrup and chili peppers. This reminded me of a really fun twist on the classic margarita, with a tiny bit of spice, but also a refreshing cool cucumber flavor. It was really really good! I will be saving this recipe card and making this one again for sure! 
At the end of the day (night), I was really happy with Shaker & Spoon's product and service. We had so much fun making and drinking the cocktails! Ryan and I took turns making each recipe over the course of three nights and really looked forward to trying out a new cocktail after a long day of work. These drinks were so much fancier than we were used to, but they didn't really take much additional time or effort to throw together since we had all the ingredients and the directions were really easy to follow. We felt so cool pulling our kids around the neighborhood in a wagon drinking our shaken, salted and syruped cocktails! 

We also repeatedly said that this would be such a fun thing to do with another couple on a double date night - one couple brings the box, one couple brings the booze. Then each person could try 1 of all three drinks and everyone gets to take turns making the cocktails and picking their favorites. Or, wouldn't this be a really fun gift for a newlywed (or newly engaged) couple? 

TODAY (March 31) the cost of a month-to-month cocktail box is $40 per box (one a month) or $110 for a 3-month prepay ($37/box). I think that's pretty reasonable for putting everything together, providing so many amazing and otherwise nearly impossible to find ingredients and curating such unique and fun recipes. 

STARTING TOMORROW (April 1) the price of the subscription is going up to help with compensating bartenders for providing original recipes and to cover the price of even more amazing, original and exotic ingredients. The new price structure will be $50 for a month-to-month subscription, $135 for a 3-month prepay ($47), $252 for a 6-month prepay ($42/box) or $480 for a 12 month prepay ($40/box) plus a flat $5 shipping fee for each box.  

Ryan and I had a blast with this and and we can't wait to do it again! Rumor has it that the next box is called "Vodka, Adventures & Spring, Oh My!" which quite possible could be my spirit animal. It'll include fun ingredients like cherry preserves, elderflower syrup, Meyer lemon juice and sage. You can bet your bottom dollar that I've already signed up for that one and for the rest of the summer!

And you can too! Because I love you and think you deserve a drink (or 4), just use the code RFTL10 to get 10% off your order. Sign up today to take advantage of the old pricing! Go now!

Which of these 3 recipes do you think you'd like the most? 
What's your favorite fancy cocktail of choice?

*I received the product free in exchange for my honest opinion, but was not compensated for this review. All thoughts, opinions and preferences are 100% mine alone. Post contains no affiliate links. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring Cleaning With Toddlers

It's that time of year again! Time for some spring cleaning, organization and purging! As much as I hate cleaning, it's really hard to deny how good it feels to open up all the windows and let the breeze blow into your thoroughly scrubbed house, free of crap/clutter, which smells lemony-fresh. Today I'm joining forces with an amazing group of mom bloggers to bring you all kinds of posts on spring cleaning and organization. We've got everything - including how to get your kids involved in cleaning (right here!), spring cleaning printables/schedules, prepping a spring garden, organizing closets, favorite essential oils for cleaning and much, much more! See the list at the end of this post for all the topics and links to each blog post. ALSO - there's a fun little spring cleaning GIVEAWAY at the end of this post to help you with your cleaning, so keep reading!
One of the best (and worst, sometimes) things about the kids getting older is that they want to do everything I'm doing. I love that they want to help, but let's face and three-year-olds usually make more messes than they help clean up. However, we have found some things that toddlers, preschoolers and little kids can help with, that they love doing and (if properly supervised) doesn't cause too horrible of a mess! I try to involve the kids in cleaning around the house as much as I can, even if the chore isn't something that they can completely do on their own. My theory is that they'll get a little better at the project each time they do it and eventually will be able to do some of these things on their own and be proud of themselves for helping out. Or this could totally backfire and they'll both despise helping me with anything around the house by the time they're five. You never know!
Mac, in particular, is a great helper. He loves "projects" and is one of those kids that just gets into trouble if he's not focused on something or involved in whatever it is that we're doing. We've gotten very good and figuring out what projects he can do on his own, what he can do supervised and what he wants to do, but still needs help with. At almost-four, he's a big help around the house when he wants to be - the key is getting him motivated and making him feel like he's doing independent tasks that help everyone out. We have a list of chores stuck to the refrigerator that he can do on his own, which we give him anytime he's bored and needs a good distraction. Here's a great list of chores that are appropriate from kids 18 months - 5 years old. 
Pick up toys in the playroom
Stack or re-shelve books in bedroom
Feed dog/cat and refill water bowl
Take plate to sink after meals
Wipe down countertops and tabletops after meals
Suck up dog hair with handheld vacuum
Put dirty clothes in hamper or down laundry shoot
Put away clean towels
Make bed
Help match socks out of laundry
Wash windows and doors
Clean mirrors with spray
Wipe up spills with rags/towels
Vacuum main living areas
Carry groceries from car to house
Rinse dishes in sink
Water plants
Put away groceries
Help restock diaper changing area
Dust shelves/bookcases
Clean out areas under bed and under couches
Put away all shoes and hang up coats/jackets
Bring small trashcans to kitchen for consolidation

Sweep out garage
Rake leaves
Fill holes with dirt
Help plant seeds for garden
Water plants
Pull weeds
Pick up sticks
Help take trash to curb
Help return recycle bin to house
Clean windows and glass doors
Help wash cars
Sweep front/back porch
Bring in mail and newspapers
Wash cars
Wash outside of house with hose
Mac's favorite chores are vacuuming with the Dust Buster (which he received from Santa last year!), washing the windows, sweeping the garage, raking the leaves, shoveling snow, watering the plants and helping with the landscaping outside. Not surprisingly, the dirtier the job and the more gear it involves, the more he loves it. Also, anything that Ryan does, Mac wants to do too...from washing the cars to mowing the lawn to blowing leaves and taking out the trash. Daddy is his hero and if he's doing it, Mac wants to do it too. 
Mim, on the other hand, likes straightening up. She loves putting away her toys, feeding the dog, washing the dishes, stacking books, putting away shoes, emptying the trash, putting clothes in the hamper, putting away laundry and bringing in the mail. She likes the Dust Buster, but she's not a big fan of the loud vacuum, the leaf blower or the lawn mower. Mimmy's on the young side to be doing chores and helping around the house, but she's much better at it than I ever thought to give her credit for. 
One of the best ways I've found to get the kids involved is to give them their very own cleaning products in a little cleaning caddy. We had a couple of sand pails in the basement that I grabbed one day and threw in a couple old dish rags, a lint roller, an old dish scrub brush and a squirt bottle filled with a kid-friendly cleaning solution that I made from water, lemon essential oil and vinegar. Other things you could include: baby wipes, duster, sponge, microfiber cloth, dust pan & hand sweeper. You can get as creative as you want with this and kids love it! 

Here's a list of the rest of the amazing bloggers involved in the Spring Cleaning & Organization Round-Up. Make sure to go check out their posts for additional inspiration, tips, tricks, advice and tutorials. And don't forget to enter below to win one of FOUR Mrs. Meyer's Variety Gift Buckets to help you with your spring cleaning! Best of luck to you! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you get your kids involved in cleaning?
What's their favorite chore?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hoppy Easter

Easter came and went in the blink of an eye. With it being so early this year, I felt rather unprepared and was scrambling last minute to find all the baskets and eggs in storage in the basement. I did however, manage to stock up on Cadbury cream eggs and Reese's peanut butter eggs...priorities. The kids were thrilled to wake up to baskets filled with goodies - Mim got books, puzzles and clothing, while Mac got a soccer ball, tennis racket and Nerf baseball bat. We began our special holiday with donuts, followed by a bajillion jelly beans and chocolate eggs, leading to more meltdowns and tantrums before lunch than we usually have in a month. The kids were candy-crazy and I finally had to take everything away from them and hide it! At one point Mim ate completely though the wrapper on a mini Kit-Kat to get to the chocolate (swallowing the wrapper and all). Holidays are so much fun! I'm sure you're all feeling a bit bombarded by the millions of egg hunting and Easter basket photos filling your social media screens today, so feel free to just gloss over the photos - they're as riveting as little kids finding eggs in the front yard can possibly be. 

Once again, our neighborhood organized a multi-house Easter egg hunt for the little kids on the street. Every participating family put out 50 filled eggs for kids to find in the front yards and after taking the obligatory group photo, the kids took off like jack rabbits in the attempt to find the most eggs. The bigger kids obviously had better luck and quicker feet, but with that many eggs, even the littlest egg-hunters had plenty of fun. 

This was the third year Mac participated and the first year that he really had fun with it. The first year he was so distracted by the candy in the very first egg he found that he just sat down to eat it all and didn't care about finding any more. Last year, he did better at finding the eggs, but wanted us right next to him, holding his hand and pointing them out. This year though, he bolted and made a beeline to our front yard and collected as many as he could fit in his basket. He was competitive with the other kids, but was also sweet enough to help Mim find some eggs to fill her basket too. Although, surprisingly that child didn't need one bit of help - she was totally into the egg hunt and acted as though she'd done this a million times! She squealed with glee when she found an egg and counted every one she put in her basket (two, three, two, four, eight!). 
Hope you had a lovely Easter weekend, too!