cocktails & cookies.

Fresh Scratch, Rosemary Meyer Lemon Drop

Last week I held my favorite soiree of the year: my annual cookie swap with all my ladies. But I’m going to be honest here and tell you: it’s really a cocktail party with cookies.

Before I go sharing my two newest concoctions with you, let me tell you that if you’ve suddenly found that you’re in need of some last-minute gifts, these couldn’t be simpler. The cookies would be great in a tin {reuse one of the many that have already made their way through your front door this month!}, hugged by a bit of parchment. And I can vouch that a bit of rosemary simple syrup in a half-pint mason jar, accompanied by one Meyer lemon, a recipe card, and a mini-bottle of vanilla vodka is a delightfully unexpected thank you to hand off to your dog groomer, your mailman, your waxing lady, your hairdresser…your you-name-it.

Fresh Scratch, Ritzy Rolo CookieWhile surfing around on Pinterest for an ungodly amount of time when I was home with my broken leg, I came across these little numbers. They were terrific as they were, but I think they’re even better with double the chocolate-caramel action. I think you might agree.

Ritzy Rolo Cookies
Buttery, Salty, Caramely, and Chocolaty. Your mouth will thank you. Oh! And they're a breeze to make. Did I mention that?
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 min
  1. Ritz Crackers
  2. Rolos {unwrapped}
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Cover a cookie sheet with a single layer of Ritz crackers, salty-side up.
  3. Place two Rolos next to one another on each cracker.
  4. Bake for 3 minutes.
  5. Smoosh the melted Rolos down with another Ritz cracker, salty-side down.
  6. Let cool.
Fresh Scratch
Fresh Scratch, Rosemary Meyer Lemon DropThis lemon drop in this exact iteration was a happy accident. I had asked Matt to get two dozen lemons at the store for my cookie party cocktails. He came back with two dozen Meyer lemons. Pricey, but, in the end, so worth it. It’s like one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

I think the cookie party mavens may have liked it just a tad, too, as the pitcher was totally gone by the time my last guest left, leaving me to, um, well, make more.

Rosemary Meyer Lemon Drop
Woodsy, Sweet, and Sour, all at once. A Christmas miracle, I tell you. The amounts are kept vague so that you can easily adapt this to any size.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
  1. Sugar
  2. Rosemary, chopped
  3. Meyer lemon, juiced
  4. Vanilla vodka
First, the Rosemary Simple Syrup
  1. Place equal parts sugar and water into a small sauce pan.
  2. Add 1 T chopped rosemary for every cup of sugar used.
  3. Over medium heat, cook until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Cool completely, then strain out rosemary leaves.
  5. {This syrup will keep in a jar in the fridge for about 3 weeks.}
For the Cocktail
  1. Mix equal parts rosemary syrup, Meyer lemon juice, and vanilla vodka in an ice-filled shaker {no shaker? Just stir with ice in a big cup.}
  2. Pour into the glass of your choice, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
  1. For a more intense rosemary flavor, let the syrup cool on the counter overnight before straining.
Fresh Scratch
 Merry, merry!

xoxo, mrs. fresh scratch


ciao, bella.

Fresh Scratch, Assisi, Italy

Lately I’ve been giving a little attention to my photos from my time in Italy this summer, culling through them for my favorites. I thought I’d give you a little gift of sunshine today, wherever you are. Even the light in these photos shows you how hot it was, but in case you still can’t tell, it was the kind of hot where sweat drips down your back. Hot as Hades, only prettier.

Though we spent a couple days in Florence, I’ve got nothing for you. If you remember, I spent almost that entire leg of the trip in a tiny hospital with a sick teenager. And it only cost ten Euro!

Fresh Scratch, Assisi, Italy Fresh Scratch, Assisi, Italy Fresh Scratch, Assisi, Italy Fresh Scratch, Assisi, ItalyMy friend Steve and I wandered all over Tuscany’s hill town of Assisi, giving our cameras probably the heftiest workout they got the entire trip, aside from Mykonos {coming soon!}. While we captured all the beauty we could, our students shopped until they literally dropped – I’d come around a corner and find them sitting in a patch of shadow cast by a building, surrounded by bags of things like Birkenstocks. I will never understand this urge to blow money on stuff you could get back home, only to have to shlepp it the rest of the trip.

I’d much rather delight in passing two cute nuns on the street, wearing long-sleeves in 107-degree heat. Or feel like the luckiest person ever for spotting a baby-blue Fiat all alone with no people to mess up the shot.

Fresh Scratch, Assisi, Italy Fresh Scratch, Assisi, Italy Fresh Scratch, Assisi, Italy Fresh Scratch, Assisi, Italy Fresh Scratch, Assisi, ItalyWhat’s funny is that our first stop in Assisi {after the cathedral} was the castle ruins at the tip-top of the town – that’s a straight-up trek over the cobblestones with pretty much no shade. It was so hot up there – the kind of blown-out heat that made all my pictures of Tuscany look like they were covered in a thin film of white. Not one shot is really worthy of sharing, but it was still so beautiful it almost hurt to look at it. You know that kind of gorgeous scenery that on film never remotely translates? That. Only twenty times hotter.

Am I managing to warm you up a little?

Fresh Scratch, Rome, ItalyAfter Assisi, we drove through a thunderstorm and into Rome. Student travel is a funny thing for lots of reasons, but one of them could be that you could be staying in absolutely the sketchiest, dumpiest part of a city, yet wake up to find your breakfast is on a rooftop terrace with a lovely, bird’s eye morning view of the city and all of the pastries you can stuff into your face.

Everything was so still and silent that morning. All I could hear was the faint clang of cathedral bells coming from all over. It’s one of my favorite sounds on these trips.

Fresh Scratch, Rome, Italy Fresh Scratch, Rome, Italy Fresh Scratch, Rome, Italy Fresh Scratch, Rome, ItalyYou can see from the light that we hit the Colosseum and the Forum early in the day, thank goodness. It’s difficult to wrap the brain around just how very, very old this place is – it was built nearly 2,000 years ago! Though it’s truly a shadow of what it was during its prime, it’s pretty awesome to walk where Caesar Augustus and Virgil stepped, if you’re nerdy like that. And – oh! – I’m nerdy like that, alright.

Fresh Scratch, Rome, ItalyMuch like my hunt for the mosaic graffiti in both London and Paris, while I’m in Rome I like to keep my eyes peeled for funny stickers on these signs. It’s creative, and people seem to leave the stickers alone. It’s kind of like seeing a STOP sign here with the words “Hammer Time” below it.

Fresh Scratch, Rome, Italy Fresh Scratch, Rome, ItalyYou know evening is my very favorite time during summers in Europe. As soon as lunch is over, I am just so happy that we’re on our way past the heat in a matter of hours. Even though it’s gorgeous and super-cool and I know I am very lucky to be there, the hot days are something I just survive. Evenings are the parts I truly enjoy.

I’ve said it before, but the best, best, best place to get gelato is near the Pantheon at Giolitti – but beware! It hides. I even drew a map in my journal last year so that I could find it alone this time, and I swear I followed it to the letter and still couldn’t find it. Steve to the rescue. The guy won’t eat ice cream, but he sure has a nose for gelato.

This place has over 200 flavors and it is crazy busy. This year I seriously had two cones in a matter of hours. It was that hot. Favorite flavor? Pink grapefruit.

Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, Italy Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, Italy Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, Italy Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, Italy Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, Italy Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, Italy Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, ItalyOMGoodness – how gorgeous is Sorrento?!

After a sweltering morning spent kicking up dust in Pompeii, it was such a relief to disappear into the narrow, twisting streets of this beach town. There was fresh fruit everywhere, with orchards even growing in the parking lots – seriously, how cool is that idea? The orchards had been planted with space for cars between the rows and permeable surfaces underfoot to allow the trees to grow and get watered. Genius.

I began a week-long love affair with orange slushies on this day, let it be known. They were basically orange granitas with nothing but orange juice and ice, and I would catch my breath every time I saw them for sale because they felt. that. good. in this heat.

After raiding all the ATMs , we’d all taken out about as many Euro as we could in anticipation of leaving for Greece the next morning. If you’ll remember, things in Greece weren’t looking too promising last July. We had no idea if we’d be able to get money there or if there’d be riots or if we’d have to bag Greece all together and go home early. They had just voted the day before to exit the EU.

Which left that evening in Sorrento feeling extra-sublime…

Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, Italy  Fresh Scratch, Sorrento, ItalyYou do things a little differently when you think they’re about to end, right? You live a little fuller. So, though this was the view from my ultra-sweet and beautiful little hotel room, I let it go in favor of my swimsuit and a zig-zagged walk down a switch-back, cobblestoned road that led down the side of a cliff and to a little beach resort. I stashed my flip flops, and we found a good place where big rocks jutted from the cliff’s face and into the sea. We climbed them over and over and over again, jumping into the cool waters as the sun sank low, laughing those cackling laughs that come from truly feeling present and free and half your age.

I’ll let you guess who the first one in was.

Fresh Scratch, Adriatic Sea, Italy, Greece, High Speed FerryWe had to leave at 3 am for the drive to Italy’s east coast where we’d catch the high-speed ferry to Greece. I slept through the countryside, waking up for a foggy sunrise. By sunset, I was on a ferry crossing the Adriatic, along with a ton of German teenagers who were on what I could only gather was a beer-drinking tour of Europe. Unlike us, they didn’t have rooms on the ferry, so they stayed up dancing on the windy deck and putting their beer bongs to some impressive use.

We had no idea what lay before us, which is part of the high of travel, I suppose. I’ll fill you in…”next time, on Serial.”

{Just kidding. Not on Serial. But I thought that was funny for you fellow Serial podcast addicts. Haha.}

Ciao Bella,

mrs. fresh scratch.

PS: For the over-view of this three-week trip, click here.