Indianapolis Community and Life

Keeping the Grass Green(er): How to Keep Your Lawn Looking Good

Posted by Mandy Padgett on Aug 26, 2014 10:00:00 AM

green

Taking care of grass may seem like a simple enough task, but with the onset of the blazing heat of Indy’s Summer months, it gets harder and harder to maintain the lush green turfs you’ve worked so hard on all Spring. There are, however, plenty of simple tricks you can do to keep your grass shining bright and green even when the sun is at its hottest.

Below are a few things you can try to make sure that your lawn looks cool and fresh even under the midday sun.

Mow the Lawn

While this seems like a no-brainer for anyone with any gardening sense, according to many landscape designers, mowing the lawn often promotes growth and keeps the grass healthy. It’s also advised that grass should be kept at around 2-3 inches tall since cutting the grass too short puts stress on the roots and prevents the grass from drying out too quickly during the hot summer months. Varying the direction the lawn is cut every time you mow the lawn also promotes grass growth.

To ensure healthy growth after mowing, don’t sweep away the grass clippings when you are done. Instead, spread it around your lawn so that the grass has a good source of nitrogen to use without the need for expensive fertilizers.

Weeds

Remaining vigilant against weeds in your lawn makes sure that the grass doesn’t need to compete for nutrients so it can grow thicker and greener. There are some natural ways to deal with the most invasive of the bunch, like dandelions, which can sometimes overrun and dominate a yard. We recommend good, non-chemical methods for de-weeding your yard space.

Fertilizer and Pesticide

A surefire way to get your lawn glowing is to add fertilizer whether it’s synthetic, natural, or organic. Fertilizer adds valuable minerals and nutrients to the soil which the grass can soak up. Fertilizer promotes lush growth, prevents any invasive weeds from growing as well as strengthens the root system. Just make sure that you don’t overdo the application; high concentrations of certain elements in the soil can kill grass resulting in brown patches across the lawn. Make sure that the fertilizer is evenly spread out across the entire lawn.

As for pests - there are always conventional options which are chemical based, but the reasons to use something closer to nature becomes more and more apparent the longer we see the results of chemical based pesticides. There are actually several plants you can grow in or around your lawn which act as a natural repellant to many pests, or of you don’t want to add to your plant family, here is a list of 100% natural pest solutions!

Good luck, and enjoy knowing that the grass isn’t greener anywhere else! 

Topics: Curb Appeal, Summer

[Quiz] Which Indianapolis community is right for you?

Posted by Paula Henry on Aug 24, 2014 10:30:00 AM

What Indianapolis community is right for you? With so many amazing areas to choose from, how do you know where you would fit in best?

ready-to-move

Find out by clicking below and taking our quiz. (Are your pencils ready?) 

What were your results? Were they what you expected? Post below in the comments. (We want to know!)

Topics: Indianapolis

Where to Find the Best Running Trails in Indianapolis

Posted by Paula Henry on Aug 21, 2014 10:30:00 AM

If you are a runner, then Indianapolis is a pretty great place to live, even though we may not always have the best weather for it. Runners abound here - in every age and stage of life. (I can't help but wonder if it's because we're home to the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, which is the largest half-marathon in the nation!) 

If you're new to the area and are searching for some running trails, you've come to the right spot. We're going to highlight for you where to find some of the best in Indianapolis.

runners

The Monon Trail

Formerly a railroad track, this trail was established in 1847. Completed in 2003, it is the "Rails to Trails" path from Indy Parks, which is open from dawn to dusk. You can enjoy smooth asphalt, beautiful bridges, and gorgeous trees lining both sides. You can run from 161st Street in Westfield all the way down to the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis. The Monon Trail goes right through the heart of Carmel, so you can stop for a burger at Bub's or a pizza at Bazbeaux if you get hungry. If you happen to get tired, there are plenty of benches and water fountains, as well. The path is family friendly; if you're out for a run, you'll be dodging children on bikes and youth on roller blades. 

The Central Canal Towpath

The Central Canal Towpath is a scenic, mostly dirt and crushed limestone path. Good starting points include Butler University (just down the sidewalk from Hinkle Fieldhouse along 52nd street), farther north at the intersection of Broad Rripple Avenue and College Avenue, and at the eastern end where the path ends at the Monon Trail. The path is best maintained in the middle third between 52nd and Michigan Road, which is in the heart of the Butler campus. This area is also the most popular section of the Canal. You are likely to run into ducks and geese, but deer, foxes, turtles, blue herron, muskrats, and beavers have also been spotted.

Eagle Creek Park

Eagle Creek Park is one of the largest city-owned parks in the nation and arguably one of the best places to run trails within the city. The park is located on the northwest side of Indianapolis and includes 5K, 8K, and 10K certified road courses (in addition to an uncertified 7K course) that begin near the beach parking lot. Each course is clearly marked with road signs. The terrain is flat in some places but has gently rolling hills in others. There are also many miles of dirt trails for the off-road crowd. Warning: there is a charge for admission, but it's worth it. Eagle Creek Park hours vary during the year, so check them out before you visit.

Fall Creek Trail

The Fall Creek Trail is a narrow asphalt path that runs along the creek. It is popular with families and many runners and skaters. The scenery is dominated by large trees, many of which provide shade. The south end of the path is around 43rd Street and it extends North just past Emerson and 56th Street. The course is 2.75 miles from end to end (including a 1/10 mile trek along the road on the north end to make up the difference). It is conveniently marked at 1/4 mile increments in white paint.

Fort Benjamin Harrison

Fort Benjamin Harrison, formerly a military installation since 1903, is now a State Park and Nature Preserve. The park is located on the northeast area of Indianapolis and is most easily accessed from 465, and going east at 56th street. The park entrance is at the intersection of Post and 59th Street where you should be able to pick up a map of the roads and trails. Note: there are restricted areas, but there are still plenty of nice running spots. The Loop around the Duck Pond is paved with some good hills. The Fall Creek Trail is scenic, but be warned that it has a few very steep hills. The Lawrence Creek trail is a bit more friendly with its wide path and moderate terrain.

The Zoo Loop

The zoo loop is another popular race route, but it is also a wonderful "Heart of the City" run. There are 2 paths, a 3.3 and a 5 miler. Start at the corner of Capitol and Washington, go west to the zoo, then north along the White River Parkway. For the 3.3 loop, turn right on New York and go past the IU Track stadium and the Natatorium. For the 5 miler, turn right on 10th street, past Wishard Hospital and the Canal Overlook, then loop around Monument Circle. If you can find it, take the limestone walkway behind the zoo.

White River Wapahani Trail

The main section of the White River Wapahani Trail runs from 38th Street south to White River State Park, with several more miles planned (it will eventually connect to many other trails). Currently, it connects with the Central Canal Towpath, the southern segment of the Fall Creek Trail, and the Downtown Canal Walk. Trail users can also get to the Monon Trail via the Central Canal Towpath or a cross town connection on St. Clair Street.

 

Where are your favorite running trails in Indy? Share them in the comments below!

Topics: Indianapolis, Lifestyle, Things to do in Indianapolis

Whipping up Some Goodness: Cooking Classes in Indianapolis

Posted by Mandy Padgett on Aug 19, 2014 10:00:00 AM

cookingclass

The long summer months are great time work on your hobbies; and what better way than classes and what better skill than cooking? There are no shortage of places to get cooking lessons around the city, be they refresher courses or specialized courses on a particular kind of food. A few cooking lessons and suddenly you’re charming sweetheart on a whole new level, introducing the kids to a side of vegetables they never knew they loved, or just fanning the flames of your own culinary ardor.

So whether you know nothing about the kitchen and are looking for a beginner course or just looking for a few extra tips and tricks around the stove, Indianapolis has the places for you. So get out of the heat of the sun and into the heat of the kitchen because here’s some of the best cooking courses from around the city.

Indy’s Kitchen

With a broad range of classes on cuisines as varied as Thai to Seafood, from salads to spices, these classes with outstanding Indy chef Dwight Simmons is sure to delight. Ranging in price from $65 - $125, an evening full of memories to savor are in store!

Nestle Inn

The Nestle Inn Bed and Breakfast is a great place for cooking lessons if you’re looking for a relaxed feel and a light atmosphere. Lessons are held twice a month and are taught by two graduates of the The Chef’s Academy, Chefs Meija and Lauren Day, as well as a wine and beer expert from the Indy Star, Robert Scheer. The lessons focus on different aspects of cooking and kitchen skills each time with lessons ranging from knife skills and homemade pasta to making dog treats and canine birthday cakes. It’s definitely an experience the whole family can enjoy.

Grill Master

Looking to get down and dirty on the grill? Then Chef JJ’s Back Yard has the perfect cooking course for you. Chef JJ Boston shows attendees how to grill all kinds of food be it steaks, ribs, burgers or wings. He takes students on a food journey from meat preparation, learning various grilling techniques as well finally chowing down and eating all your delicious hard work. Chef JJ’s only uses fresh, local meat and each lessons includes beer tastings and non-alcoholic beverages.

Sweet Delights

If you just can’t deny your sweet tooth nibbling on sugary snack, why not learn to make them at home by taking lessons at Circle City Sweets? Not only are dessert lessons such as learning how to make delicate macaroons, chocolates, and pastries offered, but there are plenty of other great tips and tricks that you can pick up from the course. Circle City Sweets also offer knife skills and sharpening workshops as well as how to make soups and seasonal cakes.

This summer, give Netflix a rest and head out to become a Masterchef on your own.

Topics: Things to do in Indianapolis, Summer

Our Favorite Indy-Centric Pinterest Boards

Posted by Paula Henry on Aug 17, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Pinterest is all the craze. If it's not a social media platform you've dug into, we highly recommend it with all its home ideas. You can spend hours browsing through upcycling or recycling, bathrooms or bedrooms, decorating or organizing. Pinterest has it all!

Indianapolis has a solid representation on the site, as well. Check out a few of our favorite Indy-centric Pinterest boards.

pinterest

Indianapolis Colts

Our hearts bleed blue around here at Home to Indy, so it's no surprise that the Indianapolis Colts' Pinterest board is among our favorites. It offers everything from tailgating essentials to Colts crafts to cakes! It even has ideas for the home if you want to deck out your abode with blue and white in support of your favorite NFL team!

Visit Indy

We're proud to give a shout out to our friends at Visit Indy. They're your official guides to Indianapolis, and it shows on their Pinterest board. It's THE place to go for Indy eats, local shopping, and family fun. It even has a board for Girlfriend Getaways. (Gentlemen, we recommend paying attention!)

Indianapolis Children's Museum

The Indianapolis Children's Museum is the biggest and best in the world! (You don't have to take our word for it; it has been nationally ranked for years!) Their Pinterest board is filled with tons of fun boards, not surprisingly. There are boards for the young (Your Top 20 Toys) and the young at heart (Superhero Inspiration)

Indy 500 Through the Years

This Pinterest board is a tribute to our beloved race shows highlights throughout the years. Dating all the way back to 1911, this impressive display shows everything from winners to drivers' wives to crashes to cars. If you're a fan, it's a must see!

Indianapolis Zoo

Though this is not an official Indianapolis Zoo page, this Pinterest board beautifully captures the essence of our amazing zoo! Seen through the lens of visitors' cameras, these stunning photographs show animals and patrons alike. (We must say, the baby elephants are darling!) 

Indianapolis Breweries

If you're a beer fan, this Pinterest board is for you! It includes a map of local favorites. The pictures look so good, you can nearly taste it!

The Best of Indianapolis

We love it when locals tout their favorites! This Pinterest board highlights one person's favorite places, things, and events in the Circle City!

Drapery Street

This Carmel-based favorite shop celebrates everything local on their Pinterest board. From Fishers to Zionsville, they tout pictures of their favorite spots. 

What are some of your favorite Indy Pinterest boards? Put them in the comments below!

Topics: Pinterest

How to Choose Children's Extracurricular Activities

Posted by Paula Henry on Aug 14, 2014 10:00:00 AM

We proudly serve a lot of families here at Home to Indy. Oftentimes, parents will ask about local extracurricular activities they can get their children involved with. But with so many amazing options (from theater to sports to music), how is a parent to choose?

Before we jump into priorities you need to consider before you choose your child's activities, let's take a step back and acknowledge the pressure that (obviously) exists for your kids to excel.

 kids-play-soccer

The Pressure

Let's face it: it’s no secret that kids today are under an astonishing amount of pressure. Razor-sharp deadlines and workloads once reserved for college students are now standard for middle schoolers who are simply striving to get good grades, yet also still be kids.

For many, college does not seem far off and the pressure to compile a college-worthy resume compounds their daily stress. While it is important for tweens to begin participating in activities that get college admissions officers to sit up and take notice, it is equally important that they spend time enjoying the ride and choose extra-curricular activities that enhance character as well as their quality of life.

Each child is an individual and, with parental guidance, should choose their after-school activities based on personal preferences and goals. Remembering there are only 24 hours in a day, even for goal-driven children. 

Areas to Consider

Cost

We know that not everything is about money, but reality is that a lot of extracurriculars can be expensive. So you need to consider if you can afford for your daughter to dance in the competitive troupe or for your son to play on the all-star soccer team. Will you have to forego saving in order for your child(ren) to participate? Will you have to sacrifice in other areas - like having a family vacation? If the activity forces you into financial strain, then we suggest declining.

Sustainability

Even though you may be able to afford private piano lessons now, will you be able to sustain them longterm? Especially if you have multiple children in multiple activities, the bills add up quickly. You also should consider whether or not this is an activity that will be something your child will be able to carry into adulthood. If so, it might be a worthy investment to help your child hone skills that will land him/her a scholarship in college one day.

Time

Another area to consider is time: does your child have time for this activity? Furthermore, do YOU have time in your schedule to act as a cheuffer to and from lessons, practices, games, etc? If you happen to homeschool, time may not be as big of an issue for you. On the other hand, if your kids are in school and are involved in several activities after school, when will they ever be home? 

Commitment

Will this activity require a year-round commitment or is it just seasonal? For example: swimming lessons have a fairly low commitment rate of 2 weeks each summer. 

If your child is just delving into an activity, perhaps sign up for a short-term season just to make sure it will stick. On the other hand, if your child is older and more experienced in the extracurricular, maybe a longer-term commitment will save your family money by paying upfront.

Priorities

You should also think about if this activity is in line with your family's priorities. If your priority is to spend quality (and/or quantity) time together, will this activity distract from that? Or if you happen to be a church-going family, will this extracurricular require practices or games on Sunday mornings (or when your church meets)? 

Interest

Does your child have a genuine interest in this activity? Check your motives. If you are interested in it for your child because you feel like you missed out during your childhood, the "transfer of dreams" may not be the best way to go. Be sure that your child has a natural passion, talent or desire for this particular activity.

Purpose

There are many benefits to children's extracurricular activities - such as better grades and behavior and building self-esteem. Ask yourself: What is the purpose of this particular activity in my child's life? Will it will boost his/her ability to work within a team? Will music or art lessons stimulate creativity? Once you determine the purpose, then we challenge you to take a step back and determine if your child needs to be involved in multiple activities if they all meet the same purpose.

Consider the areas above and make the best choice that you can for your child and your family in regards to extracurriculars. 

 

Topics: Family Activities, Children, Back to school

Keeping it Cool: How to Condition Your Air Conditioning

Posted by Mandy Padgett on Aug 12, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Beat_the_heat

Temperatures are climbing, and I bet Gene Ray Heating and Cooling and Thiele are in high demand again. (Both locally owned and operated service providers with a good reputation here in the city.)

If you know what’s good for your AC—and your sanity, you’ll check in with the health of your air conditioning unit now, before it’s having to work really hard, to save yourself the headache of a breakdown or higher bills than necessary when the heat is high! Here are some tricks to keep your air conditioning going strong, as we head into the dog days:

Make sure the filter’s filtering—but not too much.

See your unit’s filter’s minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV. This ranges from 1 to 12 for home AC units. A higher number means better filtration, but it takes more energy to pull air through and around, so you’d want a nice balance between air-quality and energy costs.

Find the leaks and fix them.

If your formerly fast and trusty unit is suddenly taking far too long to cool the room, you might have a leak. You can use the old “smoke trick” to find any leaks. Not sure how to go about this? Here’s a video from This Old House that takes you through the process of detecting leaks, step-by-step. To repair ductwork, use foil tape to seal small gaps and duct mastic for larger ones.

How’s your insulation?

This could save you hundreds of dollars. One of the things that might cause your AC (or furnace, for that matter) unit will work harder than necessary is un- insulated air ducts. Especially if you live in an older home, but even in some newer homes, it’s a good idea to check to see if your duct work has been insulated. If your ducts aren’t insulated your AC works first has to work to cool hot air in non-insulated ducts. That means more energy consumption, which in turn means more dollars out the door.

So make sure your ducts are wrapped to prevent hot attics or crawl spaces from turning the air in the ducts hot. You can use spray foam, batt insulation, or rigid-foam insulation. Seal batt and rigid insulation with foil tape (not duct tape). For tight spaces, wraps like Reflectix offer some degree of insulation.

Here’s a video demonstration of one method!

Help your AC cool you.

Where’s the sense in having the AC full blast if the sun is roasting the room through the windows? This can be especially challenging if you have an East/West exposure for your home. It's beautiful for light, but it's certainly a bit more challenging in the Summer. Use blinds and even awnings to keep off the intense heat, use floor or ceiling fans for a cool breeze and air circulation and check the efficiency ratings of your windows and close off the

This might be the year your AC should be retired.

If your chilly friend is approaching or more than 10-15 years old, chances are it’s not as efficient and eco-friendly as it should be. Not only does this affect your bills, it’s also against the law to run less-than-efficient AC. The SEER and EER (seasonal/ energy-efficiency ratio) for central units must have a minimum rating of 13. This doesn’t mean if yours is less than that number you must go purchase a new one right now; it just means that when the time does come to get a new one, retailers are no longer allowed to sell you a less efficient unit. And. if your AC has a higher number, good on you. The higher the number, the better the savings!

Sign up for annual maintenance.

This is where your local friendly HVAC comes in. It’s just a good idea to have regular maintenance on your major appliances. Just like you would change the oil on a car, your AC is no exception. Every year, ideally before the cooling season, have someone do the following for your AC:

  • clean and inspect coils
  • clean or replace filters
  • adjust and replace fan belts
  • lubricate motors and bearings
  • clean and check blowers and fans
  • inspect controls and safeties
  • verify operating temperatures
Hopefully these little steps prove useful to you this summer and beyond, where my wish for you is that you “be cool!”

Topics: Home Maintenance, Summer

What You Need to Know About the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

Posted by Paula Henry on Aug 10, 2014 10:00:00 AM

When people are moving to the Indianapolis area, they often ask what sort of activities or events we recommend they do. One of the first items that we list is the Indianapolis Zoo. What's not to love? It's family friendly, conveniently-located downtown, and it's full of amazing animals! A few months ago, they opened a new exhibit featuring even more incredible primates: Zoo lovers everywhere (well, in and around Indianapolis, anyway) rejoiced on May 24 with the opening of the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center! Here's what you need to know about this magnificient new exhibit.

orangutan

What's so special about this center?

This center is the newest and most dynamic exhibit ever designed for the Indianapolis Zoo. (In fact, it was 8 years in the making.) It is home to 8 fascinating and endangered orangutans (one of the largest groups of orangutans in any zoo in America), and it has been designed especially to stimulate their physical, social, and intellectual abilities. The ground-breaking habitat offers its great ape residents and human guests an experience like no other. The exhibit features multiple observation opportunities with interactive features, allowing visitors to realize the intelligence and athleticism of these apes, as well as their remarkable similarities to humans. Be prepared to be amazed as they swing up to 80-feet above your head! 

What all is included in the exhibit?

Zoo guests will enjoy diverse viewing opportunities ranging from intimate encounters in the Efroymson Family Exploration Hub and the R.B. Annis Atrium to the spectacular Skyline. This aerial gondola ride, which includes 1,200 feet of track and rises 50 feet above the Zoo, offers an up-close view of the orangutans exploring the Myrta Pulliam Hutan Trail — the apes’ sidewalk in the sky.

The  centerpiece of the Center is the Nina Mason Pulliam Beacon of Hope, a towering 150-foot structure that will be illuminated each night, and the colors will be controlled by the orangutans. This beautiful addition to the downtown skyline is a symbol and call to action that the hope for endangered orangutans rests with all of us.

What makes this an international center?

The impact of the Center will be felt around the world, serving as a hub for groundbreaking research, education efforts and global conservation outreach. Additionally, guests can become part of the global effort to save endangered orangutans. The Zoo supports the Orangutan Kutai Project in the Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan, Borneo; and through donations accepted at the Center, Zoo visitors can help plant trees to reforest depleted sections of orangutans’ home ranges.

How much does it cost?

Admission to the Center is free for Zoo members and included with regular Zoo admission. You can purchase advance tickets here or at the gate. The Total Adventure Package is $27.45 for adults and $23.20 for children 2-12. Standard Admission is $17.45 for adults and $13.20 for children 2-12. Children 2 and under are free.

You can meet the apes before you go by clicking here. Check out the exhibit and let us know what you think in the comments below! 

Topics: Things to do in Indianapolis

Farm to Fork Food Festival: DigIN 101

Posted by Paula Henry on Aug 7, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Indiana is in the heart of the Midwest, which is known for its farms. But most people (incorrectly) don't associate it with fine foods. In fact, most people likely associate Indiana with its State Fair Food. Don't get us wrong... we love a lemon shake up and friend tenderloin like the next person, but there's certainly more to this fine state (and city) than we often get credit for.

If you're new to the area or have never been to DigIN, this is the year to go! It's where high-quality, locally-produced products will be available for your tasting. Come with an appetite and a hunger to learn more about Indiana's finest!

bruschetta

What is DigIn?

DigIN is a festival held each August in Indianapolis, highlighting farm to fork food. More than 35 Indiana chefs, vintners, brewers, and food artisans will showcase their fine dishes and beverages.

Their goal is invest in Indiana food and agriculture through education, experiences and conversation that benefit the community and economy. It began in 2008 by transforming the existing Taste of Indiana event with the goal of increasing awareness of Indiana's diversity in agriculture and culinary arts.

When is it?

Sunday, August 17 from Noon to 5:00 p.m. (Early admission is at 11:00 a.m. for those with the Ultimate VIP Experience ticket holders.)

Where is it?

White River State Park, 801 West Washington Street, Indianapolis

How much does it cost?

$35 for general admission ($45 after August 13)

$55 for early admission 11:00 a.m. start time ($65 after August 13)

$99 for the Ultimate VIP Experience ($115 after August 13) which includes:

  • 4 James Beard Award-nominated chefs (from Bluebeard, Libertine, R Bistro and Recess) providing dishes
  • Climate-controlled luxury restrooms
  • Designated VIP-only parking and entrance
  • Air-cooled tent
  • Rare and reserve beers and wines available exclusive for VIPs
  • Bistro table seating
  • Swag bag
The single-price admission includes all samples and live performances by Indiana-based musical groups.

Tickets are available at digindiana.org or at the gate. 

What's new this year?

New participating restaurants are Rook, Peterson's, and Barn Brasserie. Gourmet food trucks (Serendipity and Hashtruck)  will be on site, and cooking demos are also new additions for 2014. Chefs will demonstrate cooking skills and techniques at a new demo kitchen. 

What can I expect?

More than 35 of Indiana’s finest chefs will prepare a unique dish based on fresh produce and meat and poultry from Indiana farms. Attendees will be able to interact directly with the chefs and some of the producers while dining on tastings. Come hungry and fill up on the nearly three dozens offerings available at the park. Sweets from Just Rennie’s Cookie Company, Circle City Sweets and Nicey Treat as well as some vegetarian options will be available.

Dig IN has partnered with the Indiana Wine Grape Council and the Brewers of Indiana Guild to provide Indiana-made wines and beers. More than 20 wineries and breweries are on tap, as is Bjava Coffee & Tea with a signature iced coffee and Natural Born Juicers with a special Dig IN juice. Beverages will be available for taste and purchase.

Enjoy a wide range of music from local bands that will be playing in three areas around the park. Demonstrations will include cooking classes on a large stage and smaller stations featuring ongoing education throughout the day. Look for topics such as Indiana barbecue, canning and food preservation, and other ways to savor the bounty of Indiana’s agriculture. Indiana experts will be on hand to discuss nutrition and the latest concepts on the local food scene.

DigIN is an experience, not merely an event, definitely one worth checking out! Have you been to DigIN before? Comment below and let us know your favorite parts!

Topics: Things to do in Indianapolis, Downtown Indianapolis

Summer's Best Refresher: Must Try Drink Recipes

Posted by Mandy Padgett on Aug 5, 2014 10:00:00 AM

bestrefresh
Summer is here, and it's hot — so what do we need? Something cold to drink. Here are some of our favorite summer drink recipes. Some are fast and classic, some are quite luxurious and need a little bit of patience. But they’ll all make you feel refreshed and ready to enjoy every second of your Summer. Pitchers ready? Here we go!

JUNE BUG (no alcohol):
3 cups ginger ale
4 tablespoons grenadine
4 tablespoons orange juice
3 scoops orange sherbet
Simply mix together all four ingredients in a blender. Pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses. Want alcohol? Add white rum!

THE WATERMELON MARGARITA
1 and 1/2 oz Don Julio Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz lime juice
1/4 oz agave syrup
1 slice watermelon
pre-frozen martini glass
Muddle watermelon and agave syrup. Add the rest of the ingredients. Shake well. Double-strain into waiting glasses. Use a watermelon slice as the proverbial umbrella!

CLASSIC MOJITO
12 whole mint leaves, plus a few extra for garnish
1 1/4 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
1 tsps sugar
1/2 oz lime juice
1.oz soda water
With the mint leaves at the bottom as the bed of the drink, muddle the crushed ice, rum, sugar and lime juice. When you’re done, add the soda water and plop more mint leaves on top!

THE BRAMBLE SMASH
4 each of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries
2 half-inch thick wedges of lemon 2 half inch thick wedges of lime
1 tbsp simple syrup
16 oz cocktail shaker
1/4 cup vodka or for a non-alcoholic version, club soda crushed ice
Muddle the berries and citrus in the shaker. Add the simple syrup and shake four to five times. Add the vodka. Strain into an old-fashioned glass. Plop crushed ice in there to the halfway point. Stir, and then top with more ice. See? A snow cone! Garnish with berries!
(Tip:If you don't have simple syrup on hand and want to make it at home it's super...well...simple. Syrup for drinks and cocktails has 1 to 1 ratio of water and sugar. Boil water, add sugar. Heat until all granules are melted)

The Cantaloupe-Basil AGUA FRESCA
3.5 lb cantaloupe, removed chopped
3/4 c lemon Juice
3/4 c basil leaves
2c cold water
Chop cantaloupe up and puree slices in a blender until smooth.
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl. Add cheesecloth to this sieve. Strain the puree into the bowl. Repeat this with new cheesecloth in a pitcher until you have enough juice for 5 cups.
Add 3/4 cup lemon juice, 3/4 cup basil leaves and 2 cups of cold water to the pitcher. Steep this for about two hours. Serve your agua fresca in ice-filled glasses. Aaahhh.

SPARKLING PEACH SANGRIA
5 peaches
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bottle of moscato wine (Or grape juice for a non-alcoholic version)
1 bottle of champagne, or sparkling wine (for the virgin version use non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice)
Remove the peach pits, cut into wedges, and just place the peaches, thyme and moscato in a large pitcher. Stir and then leave it for at least four hours to let the flavors blend and infuse. Overnight is best. Pour in the sparkling wine or champagne into the pitcher just when you’re about to serve and stir. Pour your peach and thyme sangria over ice and garnish with fresh thyme and peaches.

Have fun playing with these recipes and beat the heat with these refreshing ideas for wonderful drinks!

Topics: Just for Fun, Summer