Category Archives: #DrinkingwithSusie

#DrinkingWithSusie: Melissa Rountree

With summer winding down and the impending arrival of cooler months (that can’t seem to come soon enough), pants are a very real thing in my future.  Since I want to fit into them when the time comes, I’ve started going to spin class, eating one less cookie, and walking Tully an extra time each day … but I thought I’d call in the big guns.  Meet Melissa Rountree, a friend that, when we met, I was immediately jealous of her because she was incredibly fit.  Well, turns out, when you sweat your butt off in your workouts and eat right, you can be fit.  (Who knew?)

I asked Melissa to take some time out of her busy day as a mom, realtor, fitness instructor, and business owner to show me some of her go-to moves to help me kickstart my workouts.  In return, I introduced her to a healthy (and delicious) cocktail.

6oz Salty Dog Kosmic Kombucha (or whichever you choose)
2oz vodka
1tsp agave

Combine all ingredients over ice, squeeze in a wedge of citrus, and stir.  (Yeah … this one is that easy.)

So why kombucha instead of ginger beer?  Kombucha* has beneficial elements like probiotics, antioxidants, and amino acids that are meant to be good for your digestion and liver function (WOOOHOOO).  We chose Kosmic Kombucha’s Salty Dog with citrus (Vitamin C), ginger (inflammation), sea salt, and agave (deliciousness).

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And why Bellion Vodka?  It’s the world’s “first functional vodka” thanks to some magical element called “NTX Technology”.  While it’s super mysterious because the FDA hasn’t approved their claims, they say that the technology protects your liver.  I’ll take it.

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Now for the less delicious, but very important part … the workout.  Melissa walked me through a few exercises that she uses in her fitness classes–maximum results for minimal effort.

Side Lunges are a great way to stretch your inner thighs while gaining strength in your glutes and quad muscles. Start in a standing position and take a wide step out to the left and then back to standing. Do 10 times on each leg.

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Kneeling Seat is a way to stretch and open up your hips while defining your seat muscles. Start on your hands and knees. Raise your right knee up to hip height and back down to kneeling. Use your arms to support your balance. Do 10 times on each side.

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Pro Tips

Push-ups: Lead with your chest and keep breathing. Do them slowly to increase the challenge in your upper back and arms.

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Crunches: Keep them small. Large range crunches can be hard on your back. Raise your upper body high enough to feel your abs and then make small movements from there.

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How long have you been a fitness instructor? Off and On since college so most of my life.

Is there anything you do daily that changes your whole day?  I have to break a sweat everyday to relax my mind. I also love stretching because of the flexibility it gives me.

Tell us about your line of activewear, and where can we find it? It’s a limited edition brand. Currently it’s available at The Bar Method as well as online at

What makes your activewear stand out? All of our prints are in small quantities so you’re always going to stand out in the gym instead of wearing the same thing everyone else is wearing. Plus they’re all designed to work out or wear in your daily life.

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What’s your favorite healthy meal? I am a huge fan of quinoa salads with tomatoes and cucumbers.

MELISSA ROUNTREE (Fun, Fashion, Fitness)
Instagram: @funfashfit
Twitter: @MelissaRountree

Pictures by Madison Mentesana.

*Kombucha is a fermented tea made with yeast and bacteria that grows on top of the tea throughout the fermentation process. “After a short period, fermentation yields raw kombucha, a lightly effervescent tea with unmistakable notes of vinegar.” – Kosmic Kombucha

#DrinkingwithSusie: Jaclyn Mittman

While it’s hot outside, it’s really tough to still look cool … and even harder to keep your cool when entertaining.  Luckily, my friend Jaclyn Mittman is giving me some outdoor entertaining pointers for my summer parties.  Her biggest advice: texture.

We got together for a quick tablescape lesson and some tequila cocktails … because, summer.  Scroll to see what we got into.

What inspired your tablescape?
Rustic summer. I love the look of the distressed wood with modern, elegant pieces like gold flatware and matte black dinnerware. The white peonies and eucalyptus offered even more texture and elevated the entire table without having to add a lot of color. I tend to stick with neutrals so this tablescape reflected my design style perfectly.


Where can we get this setup … like STAT?
Target has the best, affordable pieces for entertaining!  And the best part is it’s so reasonably priced that you can have multiple sets/motifs.

Plates – Threshold™ Large, $5.99; Small, $5.99
Table Runner – Threshold™ Natural Ramie Table Runner, $22.99
Flatware – Threshold™ Izon Flatware Set, $19.99 (5-pc set)
Glasses – Crate & Barrel Dizzy Double Old Fashioned, $1.95

Candles – Target
Flowers – Trader Joe’s white peonies, eucalyptus, and assorted leaves, $2.99 – $6.99


What is your best advice for entertaining?
Texture! Add texture to the table by adding in layers with a table runner, napkins, or florals and plants. Also alcohol. Alcohol is a must when entertaining.

Music can also completely set the tone and mood for any party. When entertaining, I stick with Spotify for their pre-made playlists based on mood or the type of party you’re throwing. I know I can let it play and not have to worry about it the rest of the time. Also, a great Bluetooth speaker is the way to go. I love the JBL Xtreme Splashproof Wireless Speaker for parties. (NOTE FROM SUSIE: feel free to use my boozy playlist!)

Do you have any special tips or tricks for summer entertaining?
Make sure you’re wearing something breezy, because the host is always running around. Also, make sure you’re providing guests with water, shade, and (if possible) fans! (And did I mention alcohol?)

Since it’s warm outside, we obviously needed something to cool us off.  Enter: tequila cocktails.  We went for something that was light but potent–The Resting Garden Margarita.  Plenty of tequila and some fresh juice keeps this recipe light and drinkable and the grilled mango garnish makes it gorgeous to boot.

The Resting Garden Margarita
1 3/4 oz Roca Patrón Silver
1/2 oz Patrón Citronge Mango
1 oz fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz agave syrup
6 sage leaves (plus more for garnish)
Pinch of salt
Grilled mango slices

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill. “Double strain” the drink by pouring it through a fine mesh strainer into an ice-filled old fashioned glass. Garnish with sage leaves and a grilled mango slice.

We went with Roca Patrón Silver as this recipe doesn’t have much going on … so you can taste the quality of the tequila.  (Because good liquor shouldn’t be covered up, y’all.)  If you haven’t tried Roca Patrón Silver, it has notes of black pepper, a citrus nose, and a smooth taste.

Glasses – Crate & Barrel Dizzy Double Old Fashioned, $1.95
Mini Clothespins
 – Home Depot, $2.98 (pack of 50)
Juicer – Gift from Patrón (similar: Cocktail Kingdom Mexican Beehive Juicer, $16.95)

Strainer – Crate & Barrel Tea Strainer, $4.95
Cocktail Shaker – Sur La Table Boston Shaker, $25

What made you start your blog,
I originally started my blog as a place to share my beauty findings and to be able to review makeup products I used regularly.  As it turns out … people wanted to read it. It has turned into beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and more!

What is your go-to sunscreen this summer?
I swear by Aesop’s Avail Body Lotion with Sunscreen. It doesn’t feel heavy like most sunscreens and it easily absorbs and doesn’t leave a white cast on your skin. It also smells incredible!

Any other awesome summer beauty items we all need?
Setting sprays and facial mists are a must in the summer. I often use both! My favorite setting spray to lock in my makeup for the day is Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray and my newest facial mist obsession is the Caudalíe Beauty Elixir for its skin calming effects … and it’s refreshing!

Kind of loving your outfit … it’s perfect for summer.  Where can we get it?
TopChoies Black Off Shoulder Half Sleeve Blouse in black, $11.90
ShortsMadewell San Diego Cover-Up Shorts in strokedash, $39.50 $29.99
HeelsSteve Madden Christey Heel in black suede, $109.95

JACLYN MITTMAN (formerly Pretty Petals)
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Pinterest

Pictures by Rico DeLeon.

#DrinkingwithSusie: Caroline Cradick (a.k.a. Caroline Contessa)

Being from Arlington, the original home of the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show (and Kidd himself), the name Caroline Cradick has been in the air (pun intended) ever since I can remember.   Kidd would mention his daughter on the show or a friend would be going to her house that weekend–I was always jealous.  I will admit: I fan-girled a bit the first time I met her.  I tried to play it cool at the office coffee maker (long story short: the company where I spend my sober days is partially owned by Kidd’s company, so we share office space) and then she said that she followed me on Instagram.  I nearly jumped out of my skin.  (I was not so smooth.)

When I mentioned to her that I was doing this series, I was honored that she said that she’d work with me on an installment.  Enter: #DrinkingwithSusie + Caroline Contessa.  Caroline recently launched a really beautiful and (sometimes) deeply inspired and (sometimes) just really fun blog that features some of her favorite recipes, song covers, deep thoughts, etc.  I thought it would be the perfect chance to mix her a cocktail and try to make her my new best friend.  (I didn’t know that I’d be lucky enough to sample some of her cooking, too!)  Head over to for full recipes for her “Haute Pocket” and Crock Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Since Caroline is a consummate hostess, I wanted to make sure whatever cocktail(s) we whipped up would be appropriate for all her friends (a.k.a. many different tastes).  Since it’s usually difficult for me to land on just one batched-out cocktail for my guests when I entertain (and I inevitably end up making two or three … ), I decided to simply do a smash bar and give her guests the chance to exercise their own creativity while making their drinks.

CC_SDD_full bar

A “smash” is a very simple cocktail mainly found in the south, and the origins of the smash go back to 1862!  This is a cocktail that has more guidelines than recipes and, because of that, it can be interpreted in many ways … which is the beauty of the beast to me.  The basics: seasonal fruit, an herb, and a spirit base.  (Basically, a smash is a julep with fruit.)

For our seasonal fruits, we chose blackberries, raspberries, and pineapple, and for our spirits, vodka, bourbon, and gin.  Throw in some fun simple syrup options and you have a perfectly stocked smash bar!


While everyone’s preferences for liquor vary widely, it’s usually safe to stick with three , simple (yet bold) spirits-vodka, gin, and bourbon.  Everyone can get behind one (or three) and having three options leave the door open to creativity.  So, why did I choose the three I did?

Four Roses Bourbon – The crisp yet smooth flavor of Four Roses lends flavor to cocktails while not overpowering the drink.  It has slight notes of apple at the end, so it works well with fruity counterparts.

Reyka Vodka – This small batch, handcrafted vodka from Iceland has a deliciously smooth taste thanks to the clean air in the town where the distillery is located.  To ensure a clean taste, they use glacier water and then filter the spirit through lava rocks, which apparently help remove impurities naturally.  Rock on.

Hendrick’s Gin – Not only do I LOVE the bottle (5 points for something slightly different on the bar), but Hendrick’s is, in my opinion, a blank canvas with just enough character to hold up in cocktails thanks to its infusions of rose and cucumber.

Fresh mint
1/2 a lemon
4-6 berries (of your choice)
1oz  Demerera syrup
2oz Four Roses Bourbon

Lightly muddle berries and mint in a shaker with juice from 1/2 a lemon and Demerera syrup.  Add bourbon and shake with ice until chilled.  Pour through small strainer over crushed ice in a rocks glass.  Garnish with mint and berries.

As mentioned, we had girls with varied tastes, so we ended up with for entirely different cocktails!  The vodka version shown below uses the same recipe above with a few ingredients changed out.  Follow the basic proportions below!  If you find that your guests need a bit … less … top their smash with a bit of club soda.

Fresh mint
1/2 a lemon
4-6 berries (or any fruit)
1oz simple syrup (or any flavored syrup)
2oz spirit
Club soda (optional)

Lightly muddle mint in a shaker with juice from 1/2 a lemon and simple.  Add spirit and shake with ice until chilled.  Strain over crushed ice in a rocks glass.  Top with club soda (optional).  Garnish with mint.

4 oz dry Sherry
3 slices orange
1oz simply syrup

Shake all ingredients hard with ice and pour, unstrained, into a Collins glass. Garnish with fresh mint and berries.

What inspired you to start your blog?  I always love reading lifestyle/fashion blogs and I was getting a lot of questions about my outfits/recipes on social media so I figured it was time for me to start my own! It has been a wonderful creative outlet for me and now I give bloggers WAY more credit than I used to. It’s a hard job!

I heard that you just started a cleanse … how long until I get to make you cocktails again!  Ugh, girl! I’m seeing how long I can go on this cleanse …but my birthday is at the end of April, so I’m sure I’ll be up for a cocktail by then!

I’ve heard you’ve made a name for yourself in the kitchen.  (Y’all can just call her Caroline Contessa.)  What is your favorite dish to cook, and can we find that recipe on your site?  The biggest crowd pleasure is the short rib mac & cheese. I’m constantly getting requests from my friends to make it. (It can be a little time consuming so I try to do it for special occasions now.)

What do you love most about Dallas?  I love how it has something for everyone. Arts, fashion, food, business, music! I loved living in Nashville but I found Dallas had way more to offer me be it business opportunities or social opportunities!

I’m loving the Covers with Caroline! What is your favorite song you’ve covered?  Thank you! I absolutely loved shooting “Tennessee Whiskey” I felt really connected to the song and it was so fun to sing a song by one of my favorites Chris Stapleton!

I’m a huge word worm and I heard that you have your own language. Tell me all the things.  LOL. I definitely do have my own language and I got sick of people asking me what they meant so I started the Cradictionary. “Jam-jams” is one of my favorite words that means something creeped you out. Like “that was the most awkward situation with that guy, totally gave me the jam-jams”.

What does it mean to you to be working with your father’s charity, Kidd’s Kids?  It is such an honor. It really pays off when I get to see the kid’s faces once we enter into Disney World. It is so wonderful to see them be a “normal” kid and not have to worry about hospital visits and feeling sick. I get to see them having the time of their lives and that is a beautiful thing.

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#DrinkingwithSusie: @Natalie_Keinan of The Fashion Hour

I have some really fun friends.  I thought the other day that it’s a damn shame that I don’t get to show them off more.  Enter: #DrinkingwithSusie!  I’ll be hanging out with some of my foodie/fashion/fit friends to bring you fun recipes and introducing you to some Dallas movers and shakers.  Stay tuned for more next month!

My first #DrinkingwithSusie victim is Natalie Keinan.  I was lucky enough to meet Natalie about a year ago and knew we would be great friends right off the bat because, well … we both love happy hour.  Natalie runs the popular fashion and happy hour blog, The Fashion Hour–a lot of fashion and a little booze!


When we got together to make our cocktail, she had requested the following: no tequila, nothing bitter, and something light and refreshing.  Oh, and it had to have champagne in it … and she wanted to use the copper pineapple I’d given her for Christmas.  (The pineapple just happens to be a part of a gift set offered by Absolut Elyx, and for every one sold they donate a week of clean water to people in need!)

So, what did I come up with?  A lotta bit of Elyx, a little coconut water, and plenty of champagne.  (And that’s how life should be.)

3 parts Absolut Elyx
1½ parts sparkling wine (I chose Veuve Clicquot)
3 parts coconut water
1 part fresh lemon juice
1 part honey syrup
Garnish: Coconut shavings

Either shake or stir the Elyx, coconut water, lemon, and syrup with ice until chilled.  Fill pineapple with fresh ice and strain contents over ice.  Top with sparkling wine and garnish with coconut shavings.  (Bonus: mound shaved ice on top of cubed ice.)

Protip: when pouring the champagne into the pineapple, since it’s opaque, it’s hard to see when the level rises and the sparkling wine can bubble over.  To avoid spilling, pour slowly.

How and when did you decide to start The Fashion Hour?
I created The Fashion Hour in October of 2013 after kicking the idea around for several months and doing a lot of googling. I started it as a creative outlet from my job in corporate America where I would share good deals on clothes I found along with my favorite happy hour spots. It has grown quite a bit since then but both of those topics are still the core of what I write about!

What are you must-have items for Spring?
My must-have items for spring are: a pair of retro sunglasses (I love these clear and tortoise shell Illesteva ones), a straw hat, and turquoise jewelry like this spike bib necklace!


What clothing trends do you see being hot this spring?
Anything off-the-shoulder, frayed denim, necktie scarf/bandana, overalls, fringe, pom poms … is that too much?

What’s your go-to spring outfit this year?
I always gravitate towards simple and casual so my go-to spring outfit is a pair of skinny or ripped jeans, basic tee, and this suede moto jacket (I seriously wear it over everything).


Where is your favorite happy hour in Dallas?
That is HARD. There’s just so many so it’s impossible to choose a favorite, but I am pretty excited about the new House of Blues patio. Who doesn’t love food and drink specials before a show?!

Follow Natalie around Dallas (and some other fabulous destinations) for her style tips, sale scoops, and, from time to time, boozy recipes!

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Susie-4040Natalie’s Outfit:
Suede Moto Jacket, Nordstrom
Black Skinny Jeans, Nordstrom
Tank, T.J. Maxx (similar: Nordstrom)
Necklace, BaubleBar
Shoes, Nordstrom Rack

Susie’s Outfit (like it matters …):
Denim Dress (similar: Bloomingdales $78, Asos $47.77, Macy’s $62.99)
Flip Flops, Nordstrom Rack
Bracelet, Cartier

Copper pineapple,, $98
Copper Japanese Style Jigger, Cocktail Kingdom, $19.95
Copper Barspoon, Cocktail Kingdom, $25.95
Copper Strainer, Absolut Elyx (similar: Cocktail Kingdom, $18.95)
Mixing Glass, Absolut Elyx (similar: Williams-Sonoma, $29.95)
Wooden Muddler, Amazon, $4.09
1oz Glass Bottle with Dropper, Specialty Bottle, $0.84

Photography by Adam Stewart