Entertaining & nesting
with do-it-yourself details.

Skinny Cucumber Vodka Cocktail

Low-Calorie Skinny Cucumber Vodka Cocktail

I love when girls share their favorite low-calorie cocktail recipes. It’s like we’re all a part of some sisterhood that shares secrets about how to stay fit and still have a good time. While tailgating an away football game last fall, one girl’s drink became the toast of the town. “Taryn, you have to try Jen’s cocktail… it’s amazing. And it’s only water.”


“Water, and vodka.”

Jen was a friend of a friend who, after having sold her soul to the devil apparently, devised a drink using only cucumber vodka and water. And it was delicious. I brought the idea home with me after that football game, and spread word of this almost zero-calorie cocktail to friends like it was the new gospel. Ladies, it’s true. The only calories in this refreshing beverage are in the vodka itself, usually 60 calories per ounce. It’s a small price to pay for getting buzzed off of water.

Low-Calorie Skinny Cucumber Vodka Cocktail

The cucumber vodka cocktail has seen a few variations since then, but this latest iteration is my favorite. Besides cucumber-infused vodka and ice water, I add mint for flavor and a little bit of Truvia simple syrup for a hint of sweetness. You probably know Truvia is a no-calorie sweetener for coffee or tea, but you can also make no-calorie simple syrup from it, too.

Low-Calorie Skinny Cucumber Vodka Cocktail



I received products provided by Truvia to create this recipe. All opinions are my own. Products from affiliates and sponsors are screened to make sure I think they are a great fit for the site. Thank you for supporting the partners that keep Formal Fringe up and running!

Taryn Made Me Do It: Top Golf

topgolfIf you live near one of Top Golf’s 10 U.S. locations (or one of the eight about to open), this is where you need to be spending your summer. Even for people who’ve never golfed before—that would be me, before my first visit a month ago—it’s a ridiculously fun way to spend a Saturday. Imagine a driving range that got all caught up in a one night stand after a bender night with a bowling alley.

You hit golf balls at huge targets and your score is tallied for you thanks to the micro chipped ball. You don’t ever need to leave your comfy bay (and thank goodness for that, because the beer is cold and the Craft-Beer-and-Roasted-Corn Queso is delicious).

Semi-Homemade (But Totally From a Box) Watermelon Cupcakes

Watermelon Cupcakes

Inspiration is like lighting. When it comes, it’s strong and bright. But you have to catch it at exactly the right moment. And hopefully funnel that inspiration into a brilliant and original project or recipe. The proverbial “lighting in a bottle.”

This is not one of those times. This time, my lighting actually came in a box. A box of Betty Crocker watermelon cupcake mix. I saw it on the shelf at Target and decided I had to make it. So I did. And it was delicious.

Before you ask, no, the Betty Crocker company has nothing to do with me writing this post. I just wanted to share my cupcake experiment to show that boxed cake can still look (and taste) impressive. Especially if you find ways to put your own spin on it. I made the cake as directed on the box, but I definitely wasn’t into the overly-artificial taste of the coordinating watermelon frosting (from a can of course). So I made a half-batch of my favorite buttercream recipe from Billy’s Bakery in NYC (leaving out the vanilla), then mixed it together in my stand mixer with the watermelon stuff.

I love how my little improvisation lightened the flavor of the frosting a bit, and made these boxed cakes my own. Plus it made the frosting go a little further (There’s never enough in one can, is there?). Friends said the frosting was the best pat of these cakes. And it totally smelled like Bubblicious watermelon bubble gum. A.K.A.: Amazing.

Watermelon Cupcakes

Beer Can Chicken

Beer Can Chicken

There’s one thing I can always count on when we get together with friends for a backyard barbecue: Beer can chicken. It’s a unique way of grilling a bird that produces the most moist and delicious chicken you’ve ever tasted.

You don’t need any tools or special ingredients, just a can of beer. Clean and season your bird as usual, but instead of throwing it on the grill, sit her down on a half-full can of beer (with a few holes poked around the top). Any brew will do, since the chicken doesn’t hang on to the flavor (or the booze–this is a kid-friendly recipe). But as the beer bubbles up on the grill, it infuses the tender chicken with moisture that rumbles together with the bird’s natural juices to create the most succulent and delicious backyard grill chicken in existence.

Beer Can Chicken

Beer Can Chicken

Here’s a recipe for beer can chicken from Real Simple with a killer spice rub, but you can substitute your favorite sauce or rub to make it your own.

Beer Can Chicken

The Perfect Spring Weekend

Spring WeekendsA few weekends ago, while you could still feel a chill in the air at night, I got together with some friends to say hello to Spring and goodbye to a dear friend. He’s now getting settled in his new life in California, and I’m just getting around to sharing our wonderful backyard barbecue.

The party doubled as both a going away party and a housewarming party for our friends who just bought their first home–in downtown Norcross, right next door to mom (and grandma to their little one). They’re building a little family compound, and we broke it in with beer, games and a fire in the fire pit.

Oh, and beer can chicken. Lots of beer can chicken. (More on that tomorrow!)

Spring Weekend Fire Pit


Danger Zone Koozie

I’m a wee bit obsessed with beer koozies. It’s my go-to souvenir to bring home from vacation, and I am known to always have one in my purse, and in my car, and in my desk drawer at work. (Hey, things happen! I like to be ready.) This is my current favorite: The Danger Zone koozie from Rowdy Gentleman.

Get Motivated: Free Spring Prints for Your Office

Free Home Office Printable for Spring

I’m blaming this excruciatingly long winter as the reason why I haven’t been productive lately. I usually find Spring to be a motivating season; with projects blooming right along with the buds outside. But I’m finding it really hard to get psyched up for springtime when it’s still so frigid outside.

Until it actually feels like Spring, I wanted to make do with this framed print for my home studio. And since I suspect I’m not alone in feeling this extended freeze in productivity, here’s a printable for you, too. There’s four sizes and two versions, so you can pick what suits your space and style.

Free Home Office Printable for Spring

Choose the soft yellow script print or bold-lettered blue print, then download the PDF and print it at home. The first three sizes will fit on a standard letter-size piece of paper (just make sure you print at “Actual Size” or 100%, not stretch-to-fit).

Spring Into Action
Free Print-at-Home Art Prints

Free Home Office Printable for Spring

» Soft 4″x6″
» Bold 4″x6″

Free Home Office Printable for Spring

» Soft 5″x7″
» Bold 5″x7″

Free Home Office Printable for Spring

» Soft 8″x10″
» Bold 8″x10″

Free Home Office Printable for Spring

» Soft 11″x14″
» Bold 11″x14″

Vintage flower photos courtesy of Literary Spring Designs (CC BY-NC 3.0 US)