June Round Up

June busted out all over the place this year and flew by in such a whirlwind that we can’t quite believe it’s almost gone. We’ve been busy bees this month: We both went home for the weekend (on separate occasions), we both saw the Dixie Chicks (once together, Zelda twice), we saw some great theatre (Waitress for Scout and A Long Day’s Journey Into Night for Zelda), and we somehow managed to fit in work, laundry, food, sleep, blogging, and a social life in between. The whole city seems to hum with a new energy when the days get longer and the air gets balmier, everyone rushing outside to soak up as much sunshine as possible before the inevitable winter returns. It’s fun, and it’s exciting, but it’s often thoroughly exhausting as well. We’re doing our best to balance it all: work and play, friends and fun, adventures in this great, wide city and time to recharge in our cozy beds. June gave us ice cream and laughter and freckles on our shoulders. We can’t wait to see what July has in store.

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What We’re Doing: We’ve clearly had summer on the brain this month. Zelda made a list of essentials for one of her favorite warm-weather activities: the picnic. Scout did a little daydreaming about how some of our favorite iconic Southern ladies might take on this, the summer of 2016, in New York City, and she shared some tips for de-stressing and de-compressing when the social whirlwind that seems to accompany the longer daylight hours gets you down. It was also a musical month, from our Tony’s Study Guide playlist to Zelda’s essay about going home, physically and emotionally, for a Dixie Chicks concert on the banks of the Ohio River. And we topped it all off with some Hot Fudge Bourbon Milkshakes (which we both ate and drank), and a little inspiration to soothe our souls after this month of heartbreak and loss on so many fronts around the world.

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What We’re Listening To: We started off this month with a guide to this year’s HamilTony Awards. There were a bunch of great shows and great performers treading the Broadway boards this season, so make sure you give our sampler a listen! And if you’re in the area, catch some of these limited-run productions before they’re gone (sadly, for some, it may already be too late)! And just get in line with Zelda for Hamilton tickets. It’s gonna run for a good long time, don’t you worry.

We also love: Thanks to great friends of the blog Jason and Sarah, Scout has been on a McElroy Brothers kick. She’s spent most of this month listening to their family of podcasts, especially MBMBaM (for comedy and dubious advice), Sawbones (on the past misguided medicine of the human race), and Schmanners (for all your etiquette needs). Zelda meanwhile has been jamming out to new albums/singles/EPs  from some of her all-time favorite bands: The Avett Brothers, The Head and the Heart, and Mumford and Sons.

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What We’re Watching: Zelda has officially been indoctrinated into the cult of Australian lady detective Miss Phryne Fisher, with a full-on binge of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Essie Davis stars as the titular character who does not let her adventurous lifestyle get in the way of her fashion or feminism. Seriously though, we love a strong independent lady in 1920’s clothing. This show is a fun Australian vacation from a lot of the intensity of American crime shows, a throw-back to good old-fashioned Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries.

We also love: This look at The Avett Brother’s song-writing process. This NPR Tiny Desk concert by Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop. And this video of Grace Helbig doing one of her classic red carpet fashion reviews, Tony’s style (why yes that was a pun, thank you for noticing!).

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What We’re Reading: This inside look at how The New York Times tackled the late-night passing of our own hometown hero, Muhammad Ali (and a pretty good look at Zelda’s average worknight, although they aren’t always quite this crazy). This in-depth exploration of one of the great questions of our time: What does one eat while climbing Mount Everest? (Bon Appetit) This delicious little piece, in which Jason Adam Katzenstein renames famous novels as if they were Friends episodes (The New Yorker). This article about content creation, the online space, and why the mainstream media should stop discounting Team Internet (Variety). This beautiful essay about the heady romance of pure, passionate friendships forged at the age of 22, which may not last but are no less important for it (BuzzFeed). And this poignant ode to “Latin night at the queer club,” a safe haven for so many souls, written in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando (Washington Post).

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What We’re Eating: Dearly beloved, we suffered a great loss this month. A guiding post in our lives, witness to so many important moments and milestones, has fallen from our midst, disappearing into the ether of hotspots gone by. We’re talking, of course, about Fritzl’s Lunch Box — beloved Bushwick watering hole and long-time staple of our lives. This place has fed our stomachs and our souls, filling us with burgers and fried chicken and johnny cakes and playing host to surprise visits from old friends, celebrations of new employment, and many a Z&S brainstorming session. We journeyed there together last Saturday for one final brunch, a wake of a meal in which we toasted all the happy times we spent within its walls (or in its backyard). RIP, Fritzl’s. You will be missed.

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What We’re Drinking: This month, we cooked up some incredibly tasty bourbon milkshakes with homemade whipped cream and hot fudge, the perfect drink for a hot day on the roof. We celebrated friend-of-the-blog Casey’s last week at our favorite watering hold, The Sampler, with many drinks and copious arepas from nearby Guacuco. And Scout went on a bar crawl in Park Slope, and discovered that there one can find a Kentucky bar called Commonwealth, which we will have to spend more time at!

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What’s On Our Wishlist: We’re both trying to get tickets to the Broadway shows closing in the next month (sadly, there are many). At the top of our list? Shuffle Along: Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Scout’s looking to pick up this tote from her favorite poet/rapper/Nightvale-weather Dessa; also, with summer upon us, she’s looking to update her Chacos, since the one’s she got for camp twelve years ago have officially seen better days. And Zelda has her eye on some summer additions to her kitchen arsenal: popsicle molds, an ice cream maker, and this gorgeous copper (swoon!) french press, the better to make iced coffee in.

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Photos Via: SCHMANNERS PODCAST, DEN OF GEEKNEW YORK TIMES, DOOMTREE RECORDS,

Life Moves Pretty Fast

Most people associate the summer with a nice slow-down. The days are longer and warmer, and everyone takes their time now that they have more sunlit hours in the day…at least that’s how it seems to go everywhere else. But this? This is New York City, the city that NEVER sleeps. And here, if there are more hours in the day when it’s socially acceptable not to be sleeping, that only means there’s more to do.

Now admittedly, I may be a bit biased. I work in the tourism industry, so summer is our busy season.  But add that to the amount of social engagements that seem to crop up when there’s more sunshine and more outdoor space to be social, and my introverted self gets a little overwhelmed. I need a very delicate balance of social and alone time, and if not kept in check I tend to devolve into a semi-functional stress ball of a human (insert picture of me wrapped in several sheets hiding from the world). Not that it’s inherently a bad thing to have lots to do, but for folks like me, it takes a lot out of us. Stress relief becomes very important. So here are some of my tips to stay as stress-free as possible as your work and social life ramps up this summer.

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Meditate: Y’all, I started meditating on the regular when I got my most recent job, and let me tell you it is amazing. Maybe it’s a sort of placebo effect, but making an effort to be really mindful for ten or twenty minutes a day has made me more efficient and productive and has definitely reduced my stress. While one option is to simple focus inward on your own, I prefer a guided practice and guess what? There’s multiple apps for that. My personal favorite is Calm. They have a guided practice for sleep that I use nearly every night, and a commuting meditation that is great for public transit.

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Color: Embrace your inner child with one of the many adult coloring books now on the market. Coloring keeps your mind somewhat active, exercising a different part of your brain from most day-to-day tasks, and it allows you to push your troubles aside for a little while and just make something pretty. I think the same is true for other creative projects — knitting, whittling, drawing freehand — but coloring is an equal opportunity artistic endeavor. If you can hold a pencil, you can color.

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Clean: Hear me out: I know that most people don’t really like to deal with their mess. But I am a firm believer that a clean room/house/sink equals a clean mind. I always feel like a small weight has lifted when my space goes from disastrous to tidy. So pull on those rubber gloves and do your dishes, or whip out the vacuum and spruce up the living room (preferably with a catchy soundtrack, dance moves encouraged). And let me tell you, nothing is better than collapsing into a freshly made bed.

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Hydrate: This is especially relevant when it’s hot outside, but no matter the season my brain just functions better when I supplement my caffeine intake with some good old H2O. I try to get in two 32-ounce Nalgenes  or like four S’well bottles a day (although it ends up being closer to one of the former or two of the latter).  I feel better when my body gets the liquid it needs; plus, I get to show off all the awesome stickers that live on my water bottle.

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Go on a Solo Outing: Whether it’s to your roof or the bookstore or the bar or the coffee shop or even the great outdoors, it’s great to do something just for yourself. This is one of the things I miss most about having a weird schedule. Working at night or on the weekends really allowed me to go do things on my own, and let me be out of my apartment without draining my socializing capacity. Whether you go on a hike or go lay in the park and read a book, just go for you.

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Exercise: Okay, so I haven’t been on a regular exercise regimen since I was on a sports team in college, but even if I don’t always follow my own advice, I know that exercising is a great way to relieve stress. In the words of the great Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” So listen to Elle: relieve stress and avoid homicide.

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Journal/Write: Sometimes you just gotta get it all out. Journaling is a great way to do that. Just put it all out there. Maybe you’ll look back on it later, or maybe you’re the type to spew your feelings in a Word document and then select all and delete. And if you need a a bit more structure or guidance to get you started? There are journals for that. You can write fiction, or poetry, or songs,  or to-do lists. Just put it out there.

The best way to relieve stress, at least for me, is to spend a little time with yourself — to do some stuff just for you and forget about the rest of the world for a while. In this busy season and city, it’s especially important to slow down the tempo of your world and give yourself a breather. Because in the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Eat This, Drink That: Hot Fudge Bourbon Milkshakes

Dear readers, we know you didn’t get an “Eat This, Drink That” last month, and we really didn’t want to disappoint again this month. But truth be told, y’all, we’re busy. We’ve been adulting hard-core lately, and bopping about from Brooklyn to Louisville and beyond, and it hasn’t left us a lot of time to sit in the same space, much less conquer to kitchen, together. But fear not! We flexed our time management muscles and got together to bring you a speedy (like, really speedy — we’re busy ladies), two-in-one installment that is perfect for summer: Hot Fudge Bourbon Milkshakes. Ice cream for eating + bourbon for drinking = enjoyment for everyone.

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Start your timers now, ready…go. We used this recipe from Jessica Merchant’s How Sweet It Is. First off, we made some bourbon whipped cream. In Zelda’s electric mixer, we whipped ½ cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of bourbon, and 1 tablespoon of sugar until soft peaks formed (about two minutes). Toppings, managed.

After that, we came to the main event : the milkshake base. Combine 1 1/2 cups of vanilla ice cream, ½ cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 2 ounces of bourbon, and ¼ cup of hot fudge (we probably used closer to  ⅓ cup, because chocolate is important) in a blender, and mix until smooth and creamy.

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And finally, assembly! Coat the bottoms of two medium-sized glassed with EVEN MORE fudge (1-2 tablespoons worth). Pour your milkshake concoction in next, then top with your homemade whipped cream. Add a fancy straw if you’re fancy, like us, and sip to your heart’s content. Overall, the whole process took us maybe a half hour (including buying the ingredients and stopping for coffee). We could have sped up the the process even more if Zelda’s kitchen had more than one accessible outlet, allowing us to make both the whipped cream and the milkshake simultaneously, but alas.

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Guys, let us tell you, these things are ridiculous. Not as big as the recipe promised (which is probably a good thing), but so decadent, so delicious, and with a perfect balance of booze and sweet. We will definitely be whipping these up again: We can already picture these taking our slumber party game to a whole new level.

Two milkshakes later, a little boozed up, and very satisfied, we parted ways to return to our respective adult lives. Blogging, managed.

Summer Picnic Essentials

The sun is out, the sky is blue, and the subway is an icebox. In New York, these signs can only indicate one thing: It is officially picnic season.

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Now we love to complain about how crowded this city is — all those people smushed in the cracks between a mishmash of buildings that would give any self-respecting urban planner a migraine. But one area where New York excels is green spaces. This city has parks coming out the wazoo. And not just parks: accessible parks, where you can walk and lounge and cartwheel on the grass to your heart’s content. Some of us are blessed with air conditioning, others make do with an elaborate Rube Goldberg-esque concoction of fans in every size and ilk. But all of us need to get out of our apartments every once in a while, and what better way than with a picnic.

I’m a firm believer that food tastes better outdoors, due to some alchemy of fresh breeze and grass or tree smell playing across your palette like a classical violin. I’ve picnicked on rooftops and riverbanks and islands and once, recently, on a 1920s-themed lawn. And I’ve learned, through my adventures en plein air, that there are a few things you should have to make your picnicking experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. These are some of my essentials.

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A Blanket: I recommend one with a waterproof side, so you don’t end up with a soaked derriere thanks to a recent shower. And if you can find one that collapses for carrying convenience, even better. (Target, $19.99)

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A Large Tote: The fancy-pants among you may be turning up your noses in favor of a bona fide wicker basket of some kind. But even price point aside, I actually prefer a tote for its versatility (and lower splinter potential). Make sure you get one that’s roomy enough for a picnic’s worth of delights, and with long handles should your load be heavy. (Matthew Gray Gubler, $22)

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Insulation: A picnic requires refreshments. And nothing ruins a good picnic like food or drink that is meant to be served cold arriving in your mouth decidedly tepid. You can opt for a cooler or insulated lunch bag of some sort, or you could even combine steps one and two and go full-on insulated tote. (MIER, $15)

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Thermos: What’s worse than lukewarm food? Lukewarm drinks. Repeat after me, kids: Thou shalt chill the rosé. And bring an insulated bottle or thermos so you can enjoy it as the good lord intended (S’Well, $42)

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Sun protection: Once, as a young teen, I was told that I would “make an awesome goth” because of my pale, pale skin and dark, dark hair. But even if you’ve been melanin-ly blessed, you should never venture out under the sun’s rays without a little SPF. And speaking of sun, don’t forget about sunglasses! They’ll keep you from squinting uncomfortably at your fellow picnickers, and make you look cool and stylish to boot. (Neutrogena, $10.49)

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Entertainment: If you have planned your picnic correctly, carefully selected your companions for maximum conviviality and adventure and brought enough tasty treats and drinks to leave everyone sated, you should be set for a marvelous time. But while the picnic can be the activity in and of itself, it never hurts to have a little extra fun in your bag.  A Frisbee, a volleyball, or a compact group game will not go amiss, and will leave your fellow picnic-goers marveling at your expert hosting skills. Also a good call? A Bluetooth speaker to provide the soundtrack to your festive outing. (Jawbone, $59.99)

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Nitty gritty: Finally, these are some things that are not terribly glamorous but will vastly improve your picnic experience: hand sanitizer, wipes, paper towels, and a trash bag. We’re lucky to be blessed with such magnificent lawns and benches and knolls in which to do our summer dining. Leave your space just as clean (or better yet, cleaner) for the next folks.

images via: TARGETMATTHEW GRAY GUBLERAMAZONS’WELLNEUTROGENAAMAZONTHE WILDERNESS SOCIETY

Inspiration Tuesday: I Hope

What to say. After the events of this past weekend, we could really use a little pick-me-up, some sunshine in our lives to drive away all the hurt and anger and hate. Love is love is love is love is love, y’all, and so we keep striving, and loving, and working for a brighter tomorrow. These bits of sunshine have made us smile and laugh and sing along and dream a little bigger. We hope they bring some summer into your hearts too.

Art: “Street Shadows,” Jacob Lawrence (1959)

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Poem: “Summer Night, Riverside,” Sara Teasdale

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Book: No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay

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Song: “I Hope,” Dixie Chicks (Taking the Long Way)

Video: Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2016 Best Score Tony acceptance sonnet

Quotation: “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

images via: MOMA

Summer Character Inspiration

When we first started this blog, we took as our namesakes two awesome Southern women who inspired us, in myriad ways, with their beauty and wit and strength. And so sometimes we like to wonder, what the original Zelda and Scout do when faced with 21st century New York City? We like to think they’d embrace it as we have, especially as we drift into the pleasant (or not so pleasant, damn you climate change) summer.  And it gets us thinking about other iconic Southern women. What museums would The Help’s Skeeter visit? What would the melodramatic Scarlett O’Hara listen to as she lounges on her roof (or more likely on a beach in the Hamptons)? What would Jean Louise Finch wear to combat the heat and humidity and hot garbage smell of these city streets? From this week’s daydreams, here are what we think some of our favorite Southern ladies would do with this New York City summer.

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Zelda Fitzgerald 

Listen: Coming Home, Leon Bridges

Do: Midsummer Night Swing, Hendrick’s Gin Cucumber Festival of Wonder, Governor’s Island Jazz Age Lawn Party

Wear: Flowy skirts and t-shirts, and these sunglasses

Watch: “You’re The Worst

Live: West Village, Manhattan

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Jean Louise “Scout” Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird)

Listen: Side Pony, Lake Street Dive

Do: New York City Bourbon Bash, Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare in the Park, NYCFC at Yankee Stadium

Wear: Overalls (she’s totally stoked they’re back in again) and Chacos, all day every day. 

Watch: “Preacher

Live: Kensington, Brooklyn

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Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)

Listen: True Sadness, The Avett Brothers

Do: “Manus x Machina” at the Met Costume Institute (through August 14th), Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

Wear: Maxi dresses and big hats, so, you know, not much has changed. 

Watch: “Orange is the New Black

Live: The Hamptons, but really we can’t imagine Scarlett dragging herself above the Mason-Dixon line.

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Idgie Threadgoode & Ruth Jamison (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe)

Listen: Love You To Death, Tegan and Sara

Do: Brooklyn Pride Festival, Smorgasburg, Waitress on Broadway

Wear: Sundresses and Frye boots for Ruth, girlfriend shorts and linen shirts for Idgie. 

Watch: UnREAL

Live: A loft in Gowanus, Brooklyn

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Listen: Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast

Do: “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: The Ramones and the Birth of Punk” at the Queens Museum (through July 31), probably has season Mets tickets

Wear: Honestly, her wide leg pants and printed t-shirts are back in style, so she’ll keep on doing her thing. 

Watch: “Mr. Robot

Live: Sunnyside, Queens

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Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (The Help)

Listen: Johannesburg, Mumford & Sons

Do: NYC Poetry Festival, “Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty” at MoMA (through July 24th), Afropunk Fest

Wear: Printed shorts and Converse high tops

Watch: BrainDead

Live: Harlem, Manhattan

Photos Via: AMAZONHELLO GIGGLESFANPOPREEL CLUBVOGUE ITALY,  funkymbtifiction

June Playlist: 2016 Tony’s Study Guide

It’s that time of year again, y’all! The most theatrical weekend of them all, bursting with talent (and drinking game potential) — it’s Tony season! Now you may have heard tell, from us or from literally any news outlet in the world, about a little musical called Hamilton that is poised to sweep all of the awards. And we here at Z&S have absolutely drunk the Hamilton Kool-Aid (even if only one of us has managed to see the show in person…yet). But there were, in fact, other new musicals that opened on the Great White Way this season, several of them perfectly wonderful — from the Sara Bareilles-composed Waitress and the Bluegrass-infused Bright Star to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s latest, School of Rock, and the re-imagined Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. And frankly, we feel that these 2016 stepchildren are underrated, perhaps doomed to tout themselves as “Nominated in the Same Category as Hamilton” without much hardware to show for it (but that being said, anything can happen! It’s the Tony’s!).

And on top of these four original shows nominated alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brainchild for Best New Musical, there are also four shows up for Best Revival. If you’re not crying as Cynthia Erivo sings “I’m Here” from The Color Purple, we don’t know what to tell you (come to mention it, between Deaf West’s Spring Awakening‘s teenage death and angst and Fiddler on the Roof‘s xenophobia and refugee crisis, the ebullient romance She Loves Me is really the only cheery one in the bunch). So here, dear readers, is your homework before Sunday’s ceremony.  Listen to them well. If you find something you like, check out that full cast recording (almost all of which are available — we’re just waiting on Shuffle Along!). And don’t forget to tune in at 8 p.m. as James Corden leads us merrily through the festivities. With the suspense seemingly removed from many of the categories, any surprises will be all the more surprising, and win or lose it’s bound to be a hell of a night. The Tony’s are all about our shared loved for theater (musical and otherwise), and whoever the winners may be, surely we can all celebrate that.


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