A Day at The Races Near or Far: The Kentucky Derby & the @Cottonelle Great Finish Sweepstakes

I went to school in Savannah, Georgia.   I spent summers as a kid in Atlanta where I fell in love with wrap-around porches and dreamt of dogwood and magnolia trees.  I spent summers at my great aunts’ house in South Carolina (their house even had a well in the back yard) where I learned that you can make delicious pound cake from scratch by using your hands instead of measuring cups.

I know the south.  I have a love affair with it.

Fun fact: when I was born, my mother planted a dogwood tree in the front yard of my family’s Washington, DC home.  Every year around my birthday, (February) I would watch to find the first buds of the year.  It was an annual celebration I could count on.  Happy Birthday to me!

With the Kentucky Derby on our heels, you can dust off your big hat and garden party frocks.  And if you don’t have one- you know where to find one!  Head on over to the shop, for our spring and summer faves and get derby ready!



No matter what your proximity to the Kentucky Derby- you can feel like a southern belle (or gentleman) with my very own (and coveted) mint julep recipe.  If there is one thing I have learned on my many visits below the Mason Dixon, a well-crafted cocktail is a must.

Refreshing Mint Juleps

Fresh Mint

Kentucky Bourbon


Raw Turbinado Granulated Sugar

Filtered Water

Ice cube trays

Ice crusher (or hammer)

Large freezer bag

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If you saw my post on Instagram about how I chose to preserve farmers market fresh mint, you will know I am a stickler for freshness and proper food prep.  If you missed it, here is a quick summary.

  1. Buy the freshest mint you can find
  2. Wash, rehydrate (if needed) and dry mint (tip: use a salad spinner or gently pat dry with paper towels)
  3. Separate the good leaves and bad leaves from the stems using kitchen shears or your fingers (save those stems and bad/bruised leaves)
  4. Lay 4-5 leaves on top of each other and gently fold in half
  5. Place folded leaves inside clean (and empty) ice cube tray
  6. Fill with water and freeze
  7. After your ice is completely solid, pop them out and store in a freezer bag
  8. TA-DA!  MINT ICE!

Obviously you would have to prep your mint ice the night before your derby celebration, so you better hop to it!

Also, the night before you should prep your simple syrup.

I like using turbinado raw sugar for many reasons, but the most important reason is FLAVOR.  Turbinado sugar has a deep rich flavor that is not too sweet and when you make your simple syrup the way I do, it has a caramel flavor that compliments bourbon in the most satisfying way.

  1. The number of cocktails you plan on making will determine how much simple syrup you need to make.  I use a ratio of 1:1 sugar to water.  This recipe will make enough mint juleps to serve four.
  2. Take 2 cups of sugar and pour in a small saucepan.
  3. Heat the sugar until it begins to turn dark (and will look like it is melting)
  4. When the sugar granules appear to lose their shape, take a wooden spoon and give it a quick stir to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot
  5. Measure 2 cups of COLD water and slowly add it to the sugar in the pot, slowly stirring as you go.
  6. After adding all the water, allow the mixture to boil- stirring occasionally.
  7. Remember those stems and “bad leaves” of mint you separated when making your mint ice?  Use them here!  Add the stems and leaves to the boiling pot and stir.
  8. Turn the fire down to medium low and allow the pot to simmer.  You will begin to smell the minty goodness and check to see what the consistency of the water is.  If it sticks to the surface of a metal spoon, it’s ready to go!
  9. Turn the fire off and take a slotted spoon and promptly remove the mint.
  10. Allow the syrup to cool (the mixture will become thicker as it cools).  Once room temperature, store the syrup in a glass jar in the fridge.

TIP: Simple syrup is so great to have on hand, and it lasts forever in your fridge!

The day of the races, when you are ready to enjoy a refreshing mint julep…

  1. Combine 1/2 cup minty simple syrup and 2 cups Kentucky bourbon in a cocktail shaker (you can also use a mason jar with a lid) and shake until well combined (you can add more simple syrup to taste).
  2. Use an ice crusher (I love my vintage crank crusher) or hammer and finely crush 4 cups loosely packed ice
  3. Fill glasses (or mint julep cups) half full with ice
  4. Take 8 cubes of your mint ice and crush with  a small handful of regular ice
  5. Take crushed mint ice and fill rest of glasses
  6. Pour glasses full with your expertly mixed cocktail
  7. Add more ice on top and a leaf of mint for garnish.
  8. You’re all set to enjoy a day at the races!
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My vintage crank ice crusher!


Check out my antique horse racing wall hangings from Vanity Fair art inserts way back when!

To kick off the races and give you an even more refreshing feeling all year ’round, Cottonelle is promoting a sweepstakes!

The Cottonelle Great Finish Sweepstakes is a giveaway that will reward Americans with a year supply of Cottonelle products should the No. 1 and No. 2 positioned racehorses place in that order during the Kentucky Derby.

People looking to get in on the action can sign up at the Cottonelle website. The first 15,000 entrants to sign up will be awarded a year’s supply of Cottonelle toilet paper and flushable cleansing cloths if the outcome aligns.

Woohoo!  How refreshing is that!?


Here’s how to enter:

1. Visit the Cottonelle sweeps page.
2. Click on the Cottonelle Great Finish Giveaway
3. Click on “Sign up now”
4. Register for the Cottonelle Updates website

It’s that easy!

Good luck everyone and drink responsibly!

Thanks to Cottonelle for sponsoring this post and keeping me fresh in The West!

SHOPPING & PARTIES: It’s My Birthday (sale) + @blackmarketsf Pop Up Night Market

Today is my birthday.  It’s so funny how sometimes you don’t feel like you are any different than the year before when your birthday comes.  But today I put that into perspective.

When I was eight, I remember how my brother and I would listen to Peter and the Wolf  or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on cassette before we went to sleep, or how we used to play with our flashlights on the ceiling like they were spaceships fighting amongst the plastic glow-in-the-dark stars and the stubborn GAK residue from years past (does anyone remember that stuff?  It was disgusting and awesome all at the same time).  I also remember this was the year I had my first licorice jelly bean and almost called Ralph.  It was also the year I learned how to use the microwave; I asked my grandmother to put an already cooked hardboiled egg inside and entered our home phone number…and then watched it explode.  I was just a kid, and the world before me had endless possibilities.

When I was twenty, I had just come off the hardest summer of my life where I worked not one, not two, not three, but FOUR jobs and took off a quarter from school to work and save money for books, food and rent for my first apartment when I went back to school.  I was living in what was technically an office; a 9ft by 13ft single-windowed room where I had accounted for and planned the space down to the last inch to make it as efficient as possible– including a double folding futon FOR ONE (yes, they make those).  I even was working part time as a barista in between classes, waking up at 6am 4 days a week to open the cafe and bake enough scones to get the shop through the lunch hour rush; even when finals came I would take 20 minute naps and wake up and keep working (and I aced all of them).  I had grown up, gotten a thick skin, and I still knew the world before me had endless possibilities.

When I think of those points in my life, when I was at such vastly different stages and add them together, the space in between makes sense and I understand today what I am made of.  I’m a kid with tough skin, who grew up and I know the world before me has endless possibilities.  It’s kinda beautiful.

So today is a day of reflection for me, keeping those tender memories alive because that’s really the stuff we are made of.  But today is also a day to celebrate!  Another candle on the cake, another ring on the tree or whatever you want to call it- I have lived to see another day and that’s pretty fantastic.  I have lived in 4 states from the East to the West, found love and passion.  All great things to live for and tip you hat to.  And for that I am grateful.


So to celebrate, I’m announcing a pretty sweet sale for the shop (of course!).  Enter HBD2ME at checkout and get 15% off your total purchase.  The shop is already marked down 20%, so you’ll save 35%!  Heyyyooooo!

In other (awesome) news, I am participating in a new pop up night marketplace called Black Market SF which is an exclusive shopping event that happens at a mystery location every few months.  You have to register online to stay in the loop!  Black Market SF features a select group of local crafters, designers and small business owners to sell their goods all in a  night market atmosphere.  Enjoy live music, food and spirits and often times, there is a charitable cause involved.  Sign up ASAP to get the invite and get your tickets!  Presale tickets are available now for FREE until end of this week, $5 after they run out, and $8 at the door.

This month’s event is on Saturday February 15th from 7pm until 12am and will feature food and dessert vendors, craft vendors (and of course yours truly), pampering station, awesome DJs, a photobooth by SnappeaSF and tons more secret activities.  PLUS live performances by local folk band Whiskerman and indie band all the way from LA, AKW.
I will give away FREE tickets to three lucky folks!

Here’s how to enter:

1.  Follow me on Twitter

2. Follow Joules Jewels Vintage on Facebook

3. Pick an item you like in the shop and “heart” it!

4.  Leave a comment below with your name, e-mail address, and the link of the item you favorited from the shop!

Winners will be chosen and announced on Thursday February 13, 2014 and will be contacted by e-mail.

*All persons entering must live in the San Francisco Bay Area or must be willing to commute to the event.  Must be 21+

Good luck!

GIVEAWAY: @snaililla & @mumzymum Won The Kat Von D Giveaway!

29 fabulous ladies entered the giveaway and the decision has been made!

Thanks to RandomPicker.com, two winners have been chosen for the giveaway announced on FreeGrechen.com!

Congrats Lyra D!  You are the grand prize winner!  You won…




Also, a big congrats to Tina M.  You are the second place winner who will take home…



Thanks to everyone who entered!  And if you didn’t win, don’t worry!  We will have more giveaways coming soon!

So stay tuned and tell your friends!

 Also, a little side note, remember our first double giveaway we had a few months back with Victoria from Our House Vintage & Design?

Well, Our House just released their new Fall 2012 line!

They were also on Monoco Japan!  So exciting!

If you missed the Monoco sale, head over to her Etsy Shop and scoop one up!

xoxo, Joules

PS Thank you HuffPost Style for the cute gif!  Follow them on Tumblr!


*No purchase necessary to enter.  All samples were gifts with purchase curtesy of Sephora.  

Kat Von D, Sephora or HuffPost Style did not endorse this giveaway or post.