Spicy Grapefruit Cucumber Vodka Martini: By Jen Oliak

a delicious refreshing vodka martini recipe. #ozofsalt #martini #vodkadrink #mixeddrink

Who likes spicy drinks? This is a good one. It will satisfy both sweet and savory tastes.  A dash of simple syrup gives this drink the perfect balance of spicy and sweet.

Recipe follows:



Spicy Grapefruit Cucumber Vodka Martini

1/3 Jalapeno or 1/2 Serrano pepper, thinly sliced

1/3 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise (nice addition by my friend- Thanks Julie!)

3 oz Grapefruit juice

2 oz vodka

Dash of simple syrup (more or less based on preference)

Garnish with a slice of pepper and a few slices of cucumber



The trick to this drink: muddle the pepper and cucumber before mixing.


Add vodka




Make sure to use fresh grapefruit juice!

FullSizeRender (12)

Shake with ice for at least 30 seconds! Drink should have ice chips in it.

So, what do you think? That I know how to make lots of alcoholic cocktails? Yes, it’s true.  My friends call me “The Mixologist.” My preference is vodka. Will you try this recipe this weekend? It is delicious.  Let me know how you like it!

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. A lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak.

Poker Chips- How Many are You Playing With? By Allie Mac.

The players with the most Poker Chips in their hand take the most risks.

It’s true.

I’ve watched people play poker in Vegas and the players who “go all in” or “double down” are not the players with 2 chips left.

My friends who have the most risk in the stock market are not the ones struggling to make their car payment.

What if each little bit of our self-esteem was like one poker chip?


When a speaker at a seminar suggested this, it made me think.  I thought hard.

I thought about how my own self-worth influenced so many of my decisions in life as well as my behavior.
  • Several years ago, I was invited to audition for “The Voice” TV show based on a recording I sent in, but I never showed up because I was too worried about having to ask my family to watch my kids that day. And what my boss would think if I missed work. And what if they didn’t like my voice?
  • I always wanted to avoid conflict with people (especially my ex-husband) so I did not speak up when something bothered me or when I was let-down.
  • Expressing my opinion or asking for something might cause him to think I’m a “nagging” wife.
  • I was overly apologetic with everyone, even if it wasn’t warranted.
  • This led to resentment with no confidence or strength to change.

When self-esteem is lacking, we settle. 

  • We don’t speak up for what we want in life. 
  • We allow people to use us. 
  • We are fearful to say “no” to anyone, even if our plate is overflowing with commitments, for fear of how we might come across to that person.
  • We want to be nice, liked, and loved more than we want to take care of ourselves. 
  • We care so much about what “others might be thinking” that it controls our behavior more than we do.
  • We build resentment towards spouses, friends, and others because we blame them for our unhappiness.
  • We risk being stale and stuck in the mundane “duties” of life rather than embracing our interests and running with opportunities.

The more self-esteem we have, the more risks we are willing to take.

I collected “poker chips” a number of ways, but primarily used 3 strategies.

These helped me build self-worth and start taking control of my own happiness.

  • I started speaking highly of myself; no more “my thighs and butt are so big.”
  • I stopped comparing myself to others; no more “If I only had her talent or her body.”
  • I respectfully said what I needed to- when I needed to- and quickly realized the result was not what I feared.
  • I realized that healthy disagreement is ok and can be empowering and build respect.

Yes, there are still times I catch myself comparing my legs to hers, but I stop myself quickly.

Risks don’t have to be dangerous or crazy.

Trying a new job that excites you can be a “risk.” Or telling your spouse how you really feel about something or asking him/her for something you need. 

I didn’t realize how low my self-esteem had become until I gained it. 


With it came an exciting, rewarding life, with more amazing friendships and plenty of adventure!

  • I do even more for other people now, but it’s because I choose to and it makes me happy.
  • I travel more.
  • I have an opinion about things to discuss with people.
  • I enjoy motherhood fully.
  • I make time for personal interests, goals, and dreams.
  • I take risks because it makes me feel alive (Yes, I hailed a cab naked!).

Think about yourself, your self-esteem, your self-worth, and add up your “poker chips.”

Are you the confident and adventurous one with stacks of poker chips in hand?

Or are you the one with just 2 chips, who doesn’t have enough to risk anything; the one who doesn’t value themselves enough to have a say in their own happiness?

How many poker chips are you playing life with?  How could life change if you collected more?

Woman with poker chips

Build your poker chips!  You are worth it.

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. 

Come Tour My New Kitchen: By Jen Oliak

Have you thought about remodeling your kitchen?  It’s daunting, isn’t it? We thought about our kitchen remodel for about 5 years before we finally decided to go for it.

We started our project a year ago. The kitchen portion took about 3 months. After you read this post, if you’ve been thinking about it, you may decide to pull the trigger!

Our house was built in 1999 and the builders did not build to optimize the view.  In Manhattan Beach, most houses by the beach are built with living space on the top floor to take advantage of the ocean views.  Homes are very close together with lot sizes between 185-270 sq feet.

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

View from our balcony. Closer buildings are part of Grandview Elementary. Further buildings are homes.

While our family room has a view, we felt the kitchen needed it too. This was our main purpose for the remodel, but in the process we wanted to change themes from Mediterranean to Transitional. We also wanted more light in our kitchen. We were interested in creating an open floor plan for our kitchen and living spaces. That way, I wouldn’t feel so “closed off” when I was making a meal while everyone else was in the family room! I love before and after pictures, don’t you?  I’m excited for you to see these.

Before and After Shots of our Kitchen Remodel.

I still can’t believe what a difference it made!

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

Narrow island with no seating, kitchen was closed off in the center of the house.

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

We took out the wall on the right and built a large island around the dumbwaiter opening. We brought the dumbwaiter down to floor level and hid it in the cabinets.

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

View from top of the stairs and where the wall from prior picture used to be.

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

Same view! We opened up the archway and took out the wall. It’s like a different house!

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

Other vantage point of the kitchen island. We used to bring over small stools to sit by the island.

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

Now we can enjoy the view of Manhattan Beach and the ocean from our island.

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

This is the wall we took out. We moved the fridge to the other side of the room where a small desk sat.

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

Isn’t the difference amazing? And we love our island lights!

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

View from Family Room into Kitchen

Manhattan beach kitchen remodel

I love that the family is now always in ear shot and view from each other when we are hanging out at the house.

Our homes are such important parts of our lives, aren’t they?  Home is our sanctuary.  My husband and I wish we had done this project years ago when we first starting thinking about it. Stay tuned for my future post on the main points I learned from our remodel! And if you want to see my powder room remodel, click here.

Designer Credit: Danijela Zaric of Space Intervention.  For info on her services, contact her at Shunkica@gmail.com. She is talented!

Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt. A lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak.