The Cocktail to Know

The Moscow Mule’s was created at the Los Angeles Cock ‘n’ Bull pub in 1941 when marketer named John G. Martin, who was having trouble selling vodka to Americans, met the bar’s owner, Jack Morgan, who was having trouble selling his ginger beer.  The two got creative behind the bar and several variations later they had a cocktail that is wildly popular today. The Mule is often served in a copper mug, rumored to initially be provided by a third colleague with a large inventory of mugs to move.IMG_6738

The drink enjoyed tremendous popularity in 1950’s and 1960’s, it is one of our house favorites year-round for it’s simplicity (3 ingredients) and it’s zigny taste.

Like any simple recipe, the Mule provides a perfect base for creative variations. While enjoyed more complex versions (like the Wonkey Donkey at London’s Pollen Street Social) or subtle twists like adding cucumber (like everyone was serving in Berlin this fall) but for mixing at home when guests pop by we keep to the basics:

Moscow Mule

1/2 lime, squeeze fresh

2 oz vodka

Fever Tree ginger beer

Fill a tall glass with small ice cubes, squeeze juice from the lime, add the vodka and then top with ginger beer.  Garnish with a lime.

Keep these ingredients on hand and you will have a refreshing fix that is equally as delicious for those skipping the vodka.

Quick Tech 411-Tile

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 3.46.38 PMNew tech toy TILE has been making a lot of noise the week in advance of the product release on the 8th – potentially the perfect gift for anyone on your list who frequently looses their keys or the tv remote.

Here’s What We Know

Attach a Tile (1.4 inch white, water-resistant square) to an item and download the app (available for Apple iOS devices with Bluetooth and coming soon for Android) to set up tracking. Using Bluetooth, the app records the last place your Tile was located. When you begin tracking a lost item the app’s tracking circles let you know your progress-a little like “you’re getting warmer.” The Tile also plays chimes until it is located. You can name and track up to eight items and a Tile costs $15-$25 each depending upon quantity ordered.

The team behind this Silicon Valley startup envisions a community of Tilers, using their app for good.  If you pass by a lost item that has been Tiled, a location update will automatically be sent to the owner who is searching for that lost item. This concept of the “world’s largest lost and found” will only be as effective as the number of Tile users.

From The Makers of TileScreen Shot 2014-12-04 at 2.58.44 PM

Here’s a snappy video that’s way more fun than our description and a Pinterest page dedicated to the Top 50 Things to Tile.

Word on the Street

A little inside scoop from our guy in the know: stick to non-mobile items.  The search range is 100 feet-so skip the pets and small children for now.  Another challenge: Tile only works with Bluetooth, which with constant use drains the battery.  Other early adopters who helped crowdfund Tile tend to agree: the time saved finding things lost in the house is worth it-giving favorable reviews across the board.

Having weighed the cons against the fun of Tiling things-we’ve got our pre-order in and await the real deal next week.

Will you give Tile a try?

Full House

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 2.12.27 PMThe arrival of the holiday season most often means the arrival of house guests.  Whether you relish having them in your home or not, smooth visits begin by welcoming your guests with a thoughtfully appointed guest room or space.*

When planning a guest room experience, think about the elements you enjoy when in house at a luxury hotel or when a houseguest yourself. We have streamlined our list of ABSOLUTES to just five:

1. A Place to Rest Their Suitcase

If you have space for guests to unpack, that’s lovely, and a luggage rack eases the process. If their suitcase will also double as a closet/dresser an elevated rack is key. A dedicated place for the suitcase ensures the luggage, which has been out and about in public collecting dirt and germs, stays off the bed.

2. The Fresh, Allergy-Free Bed

The Claritin down alternatives pillows and comforters are an easy way to accommodate all guests comfortable, including those with allergies, and alleviate the need for keeping extra sets of pillows/duvets. Beside, who doesn’t’ want protection from dust mites, pollen and other allergens? A water carafe or bottled water bedside is handy too.

3. The Charging Station & Access

Almost everyone needs a power source for phones, tablets and laptops-so make power easy and accessible. The Jackery Giant is a sleek, charger that blends seamlessly with any decor and will win over even the most particular of guests. A printed card or note with the house wireless network name and password is a nod to our favorite hotels that include access for guests free of charge.

4. The Full-Service Bath

If the guest bath still features supplies from last year, it’s time! Fresh shampoos, soap, toothpaste tubes, extra toothbrush, pain reliever, tums, disposable razor and bandaids make all the difference. Once a quarter, rotate your guest room supplies into a bathroom in use daily to use up and replenish. Don’t forget the extra tp and plunger-no guest wants to have to ask a host for those items-and the girl products too!

5. A Touch of Welcome

Whether you choose a few books or magazines or display a meaningful photo for your guest, leave a small gift on their bed or simply a hand written note-these are the touches that will start the visit off on the right foot!

*Actually, welcoming guests begins at the door!  Try shopwelcome for a fresh take on the welcome mat!

Twist on a Twenty-First


We love this fresh take on a 21st birthday celebration-a champagne brunch complete with lawn games, vintage touches and a relaxed vibe.  

 IMG_4633A birthday girl with a love for Sundays -“It’s my favorite day of the week” – Sara set her sights on a sophisticated morning to celebrate with her college friends, rather than the traditional ‘bar-crawl” usually associated with this birthday.

Guests were greeted with a vintage typewriter for sharing notes and strict instructions from the birthday girl to turn off cell phones and plug into the moment.


 Cornhole and oversized Jenga sets provided just enough activity, and the pool and garden were a welcome change from spending the afternoon in the library studying.


Breakfast was a hearty brunch served family style, with plenty of mimosas, bloody mary’s and champagne to toast the day, but first, coffee!


No strangers to having every moment of their lives captured, this group was content to pose for dozens of group photos before boarding the party bus back to school.

 Happy Birthday, Sara, it was wonderful to be a part of your special day!


Hey, Pumpkin!

IMG_4796It finally feels like fall is in the air and that means the return of all things pumpkin.  

From gracing our doorstep in heaps to taking center stage at dessert time, this seasonal signature squash brings a bold spot of color to our decor as well as remarkable health benefits.  An excellent source of fiber, vitamin A and potassium, pumpkin can boost eyesight, aid in weightless and refuel the body post workout. It is naturally rich in phytosterols, which has been shown to reduce LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, as well as the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, which may play a part in cancer prevention.  Pumpkin is hydrating, at 90% water, can boost your mood and is beneficial in keeping skin smooth and wrinkle-free.

The average American will reportedly consume five pounds of pumpkin this year, but it may be that Americans love pumpkin-flavored foods and beverages even more. Pumpkin beer now accounts for two-thirds of all fall beer sales, according to Nielsen and Starbucks’ early release of their Pumpkin Spice Lattes felt like a national holiday. (As an said, we tend to agree with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’s take on this spiced drink, that “the coffee that tastes like a candle.”)

But back to the task at hand: sharing our favorite pumpkin-inspired foods.  If you have the time, bake The GREAT Pumpkin Bread because it’s amazing and nothing tastes more like fall. If you are slim on time, we have to admit that Trader Joe’s offers a good alternative when baking from scratch isn’t always accessible.  Their boxed pumpkin mix, with its prep time of four minutes flat, is causing us to stockpile our pantry for the months ahead, like a squirrel gathering acorns.

Equally as delicious is another new favorite: Pumpkin Pancakes, also from Trader Joe’s. This light and delicious breakfast treat is irresistible when topped with melted butter and paired with crispy bacon and charmed ever the most seasoned pancake connoisseur.


If you want to add a little pumpkin to your body regime, try a moisturizing pumpkin body mask (1/2 cup each of pumpkin puree and cold-pressed coconut oil with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon).  Massage into skin, wait 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water.

For the extreme pumpkin experience, head to the World Pumpkin Capital in Half Moon Bay, California for the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival to “pay homage to the great and almighty gourd.” Complete with a pumpkin parade, art & crafts, a $30,000 pumpkin weigh off and “Smashing Pumpkins: Battle of the Bands” competing on three stages, there is plenty to celebrate at this world-famous annual event.  So raise your Jack-o-tini and toast the arrival of Orange October.

 How are you enjoying this seasonal favorite?

à la votre (cheers)

fields-of-lavender-brian-jannsenNothing is more glorious than the south of France in the summer-when the lavender is in full bloom and the air is intoxicating. As we celebrate the last official weekend of summer (fall  begins on September 23rd ) we offer our house-made Lavender Martini and our French Se Bon playlist for you to enjoy.

We use the digital music streaming service Spotify to create a variety of playlists to suit our every mood and occasion.  You can create playlists, import your iTunes, follow other users (we recommend LiveWell_bySLD of course!) and access your music from any of your devices.

We have been experimenting with infused simple syrups in the test kitchen all summer and find they add a tremendous, natural elegance to the drinks.  The Lavendar Martini is clean,  slightly mellow and the perfect way to toast the weekend.

combine in an ice-filled shaker:  2 oz gin ⋅ 1 oz  house made lavender simple syrup ⋅ 1 dash of bitters

shake until chilled ⋅ strain into cocktail glass ⋅ add a sprig of lavender ⋅ cue the playlist and savor the moment ⋅ à la voter



Twist on a Tailgate

Fight on place seettingFootball season has arrived and one of our favorite events so far was the President’s Tailgate before the USC vs Stanford game.  Traditionally hosted in the afternoon, this year’s event was remained  as a relaxed family-style breakfast full of Trojan spirit.buttons

While some celebrations require a subtle approach, events to showcase school spirit or support of an organization demand to be lived out loud and colors and logos beg to be showcased.


For a large seated crowd, we love the drama of servers parading out to deliver platters of innovative food for the guests to share.  Tasking guests with passing the food serves as a great ice breaker for those who may not yet be friends and makes for easy conversation.  Family-style is a particular SLD favorite for rehearsal dinners-where you are introducing people from not only two families, but many different stages of life.

table 18

Bloody Marys

Playing off the school colors, as well as the time of day, cocktail hour featured Bloody Mary’s with football garnish, Mimosas and Aqua Frescas in mango or pineapple while a coffee cart stood by Pastriesto create specialty coffees.

Once guests were seated, trays of house made pastries, french toast in shot glasses with syrup, yogurt & granola parfaits and early girl tomatoes filled with scrambled eggs were delivered and devoured!  The power breakfast strategy clearly worked as the Trojans scored a victory over The Farm later that afternoon. Fight on!

Crew at the BarAll photographs Mary Alessandra  Event Design Sarah Lucas Designs
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