Hardly Sweetened

When I created Pinterest Fail back in 2012 I had no idea that it would be what it is today, but I am really enjoying the experience I’m gaining from running it. So much so that I decided to try my hand at starting another “niche site.”

And of course, as an ex-Mormon, what else could I do but start a site devoted entirely to cocktails? Ha! I’ve really enjoyed exploring the word of alcohol for the last 18 months, but have felt frustrated that so many mixed drinks rely heavily on sugar. Every time I want to mix up something I have to sort through 15-20 options, wondering whether the drink would be just as good with a reduction in the sweetener, before I find something with ingredients I have on hand.

Hardly Sweetened, low-sugar cocktails

Enter Hardly Sweetened. It’s a site devoted to showcasing low-sugar cocktails, and also a place for me to share what I’m learning about infusions, mixers, terms related to alcohol drinks (what’s it mean if my drink is straight up?), and classic cocktail recipes. If you’ve been hesitant to try your hand at mixing up cocktails at home, I hope that this site can act as a guide for you. And if you’re a mixologist extraordinaire maybe you have a favorite hardly-sweet cocktail recipe that you think I should try?

Hardly Sweetened, a cocktail blog filled with recipes low in sugar - like this kaffir lime vodka, cucumber, Perrier lime mix that's perfect for a summer afternoon


Click here to visit Hardly Sweetened

I’ve been putting a lot of work into the site in anticipation of the BlogHer conference this weekend and I would really appreciate your support as I try to build an audience for the site. Pin the recipes that interest you (click through to the actual posts to see the Pinterest-friendly image concept I designed!). Follow the @hardlysweetened Twitter account, check out the @hardlysweetened Instagram feed to see what drinks I’m working on before they go up on the site, submit your favorite hardly sweetened recipes via the contact form, and most of all, click over regularly to see what’s new!

I’ll be working hard on this for the next few months, which sometimes means hardly working since part of the job description means creating and sampling new cocktails for the site. I’m certainly not going to complain about that.

I admit, I’m nervous. Putting yourself out there and trying new things is hard! If you try any of my recipes (most on the site so far are recipes I made up myself!) I’d love to hear what you think about them. I don’t want my own content ending up on Pinterest Fail!

Wodna Wieza

I think this post represents two firsts for me – the first time I’ve written a recap within 24 hours, and the first time I’ve done so with photos taken and edited on my iphone. All edits were done with VSCOcam and the side-by-side shots are done with TwinCollage.

Everyone else in my family is sleeping in today (we are still in Poland), and since I was up at 5am I’ve had plenty of time to process photos and put this post together. I’m hoping I can keep this early morning momentum going because I love feeling like I’ve accomplished so much before 8am.

I wanted to write up a post about our dinner last night for a few reasons. I’ve been doing lots of Europe trip planning lately and the English-language blog posts I find about things I’m researching are really handy. TH and I also fell in love with Wodna Wieza and when we like a restaurant that much we start to worry it might go out of business. This happened to our favorite Dallas restaurant, Aurora. I know odds are slim that any of my readers will be heading to Krakow anytime soon, but if you ever do visit the southwestern area of Poland I think it would be worth a trip.


 Wodna Wieza calls itself a Steampunk Cafe, though I think the use of the term cafe makes it sound a lot simpler than it actually is. It’s nouvelle cusine with a touch of molecular gastronomy in a setting that has attention to detail unmatched by any restaurant I’ve ever been to.

Is there a Steampunk Restaurant Supply catalog somewhere? My iphone couldn’t do this place justice.


The wine cellar.


It wasn’t just the decor that wowed us, with each course of our 5 course tasting menu they brought us unique silverware unlike anything any of us had ever seen before.


The restaurant is on the top floor of an old water tower, so the views are stunning as well!


Our dining group for the evening.


The first course was a grouping of individual mushrooms, in a very unique serving dish, made 10x cooler when the server “watered” the largest mushroom and revealed the presence of dry ice nested underneath. Throughout the meal I was really impressed by how far they were able to take things without it feeling cheesy or trite. We ooohed and aaaahed with each new thing brought to the table. Even the bread and butter! (Honey and lemon infused butter, delicious.)

20140621-085722-32242569.jpg Continue reading

T1’s 4th Birthday Cake

If you’re looking for a cake to make, the Diner Dream Cake I made for T1’s 4th birthday is one of the best I’ve ever had. Pinterest Fail has taught me that following the instructions exactly is crucial, and so I not only did everything Sweetapolita said, but also made cake flour using Joy the Baker’s instructions since the grocery store closest to me didn’t have any.

I was going to make myself a cake too, but my birthday is so close to T1’s (3 days apart) that I was overloaded with sugar and didn’t want any more dessert. Maybe I’ll start a new tradition, baking myself a cake for my half birthday each year. This Chocolate Espresso Cake will probably be my 2014 pick.

30×30: Fortune Cookie Factory

The first item I crossed off of my 30 Before 30 list was visiting Golden Gate Fortune Cookies in San Francisco’s Chinatown. I spent the afternoon with a friend and we had dim sum in a park, stopped by the cookie factory, and ended our day with a stop by the Tin How Temple. The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie visit took about five minutes, so it’s more of a stop than a destination.

The cookies spin around on the machine in the upper right hand corner, and the fortune cookie former (does she have an official title?) pulled them off and twisted them around a metal rod. I paid 50 cents to take a picture, and ended up buying a bag of “naughty” cookies for our upcoming New Years Eve party. They were really tame adult-style messages, and it was fun to see everyone’s face when they broke open their cookie and were told things like “A kiss is the upper persuasion for the lower invasion.

I had my film camera with me, and after we visited the factory I wanted to take a picture of my friend. Then I asked her if she would take one of me. Hers didn’t turn out (she was mid-blink, bummer), but I really like what she captured of me. The factory is down and to the right from where I’m standing. As you can see it’s not really a road that you will find it on, more like an alley.


30 Before 30

Mission: Complete all bolded items before I turn 30
Deadline: April 15, 2015

Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and crab louie salad at Barbara’s Fish Trap in Half Moon Bay

I thought about going to Boudin and eating on the pier, but it’s a bit of a tourist trap and I have Half Moon Bay on my list of places I’d like to visit. This way I get to eat my sourdough bread bowl while sitting on the beach, though I’ll have to go before mid-summer if I want to eat my crab in-season.

It’s It

I plan to buy an It’s It, Big Daddy, Super Sundae, and Chips It, and then invite some friends over to do a little tasting party with me so we can choose our favorite of the line.

Burrito in the mission district, The Little Chihuahua

I chose The Little Chihuahua because it has the Fried Plantain & Black Bean burrito. That combination of savory and sweet it calling out to me. I plan to bring the kids, get our food to go, and then walk over to the Golden Gate Park playground so T1 can ride down the concrete slides.

Chez Panisse

I’d like to dine in the restaurant on a Monday night, when the menu is more rustic and regional. Or maybe the cafe, which serves similar food but isn’t as pricey.

French Laundry

Saving up all my pennies for this experience (Alinea taught me that it’s not just a meal, it’s a performance).

Oyster farm tour at Hog Island Oyster Company

I fell in love with oysters on my honeymoon, where I was able to eat several from different bays and understand the way the environment affects the taste. For $10 I can visit Hog Island and see how they’re grown, then buy some to-go and shuck them myself.

Jelly Belly factory tour

The website pitching the tour says it takes a week to make a single bean. The tour only takes 40 minutes though. Continue reading