The Bee’s Knees Cocktail

12/10/2015 § Leave a comment

Quite Continental: Bee's Knees

A honey of a cocktail if there ever was one, the Bee’s Knees cocktail is a relatively simple gin tipple that I frequently make at home.  All you’ll need are a few fresh ingredients, a bottle of your favorite gin, and a shaker.

The Bee’s Knees
2 oz. Brooklyn Gin
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. honey syrup (1:1)

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail coupe, garnish with a fresh slice of lemon.

But wait, what the heck is honey syrup (1:1)?!
Don’t you worry girl, I got you.

Grab a small mason jar and your honey container.  Put equal parts honey to warm water in the jar.  You won’t need much to make one cocktail, but having a bit on reserve in the fridge is a classy move, so let’s do 2 ounces each of honey and water.  Screw on the lid and shake it up until it is thoroughly mixed.  Voila, you just made honey syrup!  Refrigerate any unused portion and throw it away after two weeks.

Cheers!

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DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

12/01/2014 § 3 Comments

QC DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

This Christmas, instead of simply handling all of my shopping online as I am usually wont to do, I decided to put my paws to work and create as many homemade gifts as I could.  This included an organic raw sugar and virgin coconut oil shower scrub, which is a relatively quick and easy beauty remedy for dry skin — no mean feat in the winter, but truly makes a great gift all year-round.  While the scrub itself doesn’t take much effort, I especially enjoyed working on the packaging.  My East Coast recipients received pretty blue Heritage Collection Ball Jars topped with brown craft paper, green twine, manila packing tags and a spring of evergreen.  My West Coasters received rubber gasket jars topped with ribbon and smudge sticks from Juniper Ridge.

Ingredients (all organic if possible): raw sugar, virgin coconut oil, argan oil, essential oils (optional)

Combine two parts sugar to one part coconut oil in a large bowl.  Add a tablespoon of argan oil and mix well.  If you want to add fragrance — I honestly like it without, and prefer the natural coconut/sugar scent, but to each her own — essential oils are most effective, but you can also try natural ingredients like vanilla extract, lemon zest, fresh mint.  Pop the mix into a jar and you’re all done!  Easy!

QC DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 18 – Updo and Done

23/09/2013 § 3 Comments

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

QC Charm School: Updo and Done“Hmmmmm, is this bow too much or just enough??”
Photo by Peter Stackpole for Life Magazine.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce today’s guest speaker!  Please meet Erica Whelan, the exceptionally talented hair and makeup artist whose work can be seen everywhere from the runways of New York Fashion Week to the glossy pages of your favorite editorials to some of the most fabulous private clients.  Indeed, whenever we catch up, she’s always got several new stories and numerous beauty tricks up her sleeve.  She’s my own secret weapon!

If you are not yet familiar with Erica, it is my pleasure to introduce you.  For her lesson, I requested she share a simple updo, something everyone should have in their styling arsenal.  Good for everything from board meetings to brunch to broadway show, think of this classic chignon as a style soldier of fortune, able to handle any sort of occasion you might throw at it.  You might also recognize the guinea pig in the chair…I knew all this hair was good for something.

Without any further ado, Erica’s tip for a charmed life.
Photos by the equally talented Amelia Tubb.

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QC Charm School: Updo and Done

You will need a teasing comb, boar bristle brush, an elastic ponytail holder, bobby pins, hair pins, texturizer spray and hairspray. Depending on your hair type you may also need a flat iron and smoothing crème.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

1) Hair can be clean or slightly dirty (“second day hair”). Get volume in the top section of hair by spraying a dry texturizer spray like Oribe or dry shampoo like Klorane. This will instantly add volume to dry hair. Hold hair straight up and away from head then spray at the root. Wait a few seconds then massage product into your roots.  If your hair is curly, you should use a flat iron to straighten and add shine to your hair.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done

2) Brush hair into a low ponytail. I usually position my ponytail at the occipital bone, which is the bone you can feel at the back of your head. I like to spray my brush with hairspray before I brush the hair into a low ponytail — this trick will help tame flyaways. Your ponytail should be smooth. You can use a dime-sized dollop of smoothing crème and run over your ponytail to remove any frizziness. You can style the front of your hair to your liking. Ex: a few pieces of hair framing your face, a middle or side part, or backcomb the top section for volume — your choice.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done

3) Once your hair is in a low ponytail, slide the ponytail holder about an inch down. This will give you enough room to split the hair down the center.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

4) Split hair down the center then flip the ponytail up. Starting with the ponytail end, begin feeding it through the split. Grab the ponytail with your fingers from underneath and pull it through the split.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done

5) Give the ponytail a gentle tug so it tightens back up.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done(Editor’s note: OBVIOUSLY THIS IS MY FAVORITE PICTURE.)

6) Use a comb to tease the ponytail. This will create the base for your bun. Tease as much or as little as you like. Remember, the more you tease the bigger the bun. Once you’re done teasing, smooth the underside of the ponytail with your boar bristle brush. This is the side that will be visible so it needs to be smooth.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

7) Put the back of your hand on the inside of the ponytail (the teased part of the ponytail) about mid-length. Wrap the ponytail around your hand and tuck the tail into the hole you created when you split your hair down the center in Step 4. Keep tucking until you form a bun.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

8) Using bobby pins (medium size for short to medium hair or large size for medium to long hair) secure the bun. I like to use two bobby pins at the top where we tucked the tail into place. Then gently pull apart the bun to make it fuller. Then continue to pin into place.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done QC Charm School: Updo and Done

9) My secret weapon to keeping hair in place is to use a hairnet. Hairnets come in different colors so you can find one that matches your hair color and the mesh is so fine that no one will be able to detect it up close or in photos. Cover bun with hairnet then pin into place using hair pins. Make sure to grab the hair and then the net when you pin. FYI – A hair pin is a u-shaped pin that is lighter than a bobby pin. Bobby pins secure a hairstyle into place where as a hair pin keeps the hair in place once the style has been secured.

QC Charm School: Updo and Done

10) Final step – spray with hairspray to keep in place and tame any flyaways.  All done!

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Mariah Can’t Cook: Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata

25/06/2013 § 3 Comments

QC Cooks: Frittata

I will freely admit that I am not an expert when it comes to cooking, nor is it something I frequently do.  In fact, at home, I actually keep my shoes in the kitchen cupboards where my pots and pans should be.  My cardinal rule is that if I make something that you can consume, it’s to be considered “cooking” — and this includes cocktails, natch.

That said, I do enjoy eating well and luckily I have a someone to help me hone my (lackluster) culinary skills: my good friend Tara Cole, who is a holistic health and nutrition counselor.  She patiently spent a recent morning cooking with me and passed along this super easy recipe for a sweet potato and kale frittata that looks a good deal fancier than it actually is.  So whether you’re making an effort to impress the in-laws or to simply step up your home brunch game, I can attest that anyone can make this.  Even me.

QC Cooks: Frittata

Frittata ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 1 red onion (sliced)
  • 1 pepper (any color, diced)
  • 5 stalks of kale (de-stemmed and ripped apart)
  • 6 eggs
  • goat cheese
  • fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp almond milk (optional)
  • olive oil (for cooking)
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1-2 scallions (sliced for garnish)
  • grape tomatoes (sliced for garnish)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of fresh nutmeg (optional)
  • red pepper flake (optional)

Salad and dressing ingredients:

  • mixed greens
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ lemon (juice)
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note: must use an oven-safe pan (no rubber handles).

QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Saute sliced sweet potatoes in olive oil in a medium-heat pan for 10 minutes, (season with salt and pepper) stirring constantly. Once fork-tender, add in the onions and peppers and season, saute for 5-7 minutes (you may need to add a bit more olive oil). Add in both vinegars, stir, add kale and season, mix for 1-2 minutes. Whisk eggs and milk together, add thyme, nutmeg, and red pepper flake, and pour into pan. Ensure that the egg mixture is evenly distributed in pan, add as much goat cheese as you like. Place pan in preheated oven and bake 10-15 minutes or until the eggs are cooked. Serve with diced tomatoes and scallions on top, and side salad (recipe below).

QC Cooks: FrittataQC Cooks: Frittata

Salad: In a bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard,
and salt and pepper, mix together then toss in lettuce.

QC Cooks: Frittata

Voila!  Fancy (looking)!

Tara assures me this is a great basic recipe to get creative with.  She suggested substituting in things like mushrooms, Gruyere cheese, fennel, and/or spinach.  If you have any questions — or would like more recipes — hop over to Tara’s site and she will set you right up.  Enjoy!

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 15 – Brew Your Own Bitters

13/03/2013 § Leave a comment

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

QC Charm School: DIY BittersGreta Garbo, Beatrice Lillie and patrons at a New York City speakeasy, 1933.
Photo by Margaret Bourke-White for Life Magazine.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce today’s guest speaker!  Please meet Lani Zervas, the exceedingly fabulous and fashionable lady behind the blog Mon Petit Chou Chou.  While she’s a Boston native, I had the pleasure of meeting Lani in New York two years ago and we’ve been fast friends ever since.  She’s been such an amazing partner in crime at Brimfield and New York Fashion Week, that I am more than a little upset with myself that it has taken me this long to feature her brilliance!  Her charming blog encompasses her interests in fashion, interior design, art, cooking, two very lovely dogs and all things Boston — but wait, there’s more!  She’s also getting ready to be the most fabulous mommy the world has ever seen!  I’m sure that you will find her to be as lovely and as funny as I do.  If you are not yet familiar with Lani or Mon Petit Chou Chou, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Lani’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 15: Brew Your Own Bitters
A proper lady knows when she has had too much, and likewise should know how to speed the road there when the occasion calls for it, with an arsenal of tried and true recipes to mix it up, at the bar and in life.

To that end, embrace your inner mixologist and commit to memory the recipes for some basic tipplers. I would suggest you have the classic Manhattan, Aviation, Martini, and Daiquiri in your repertoire and ready for the mixing at your home bar. Practice makes perfect and you’ll find your friends willing participants in your ‘research’ for cocktail perfection. When you have mastered these basics, time to take on more advanced studies, in home brewed simple syrups and bitters.

Simple syrup is, as the name would lead you to believe. painfully simple to make. It is a one to one ratio of sugar, water, and what ever you decide to steep. I personally like ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, and a turbinado, or raw, sugar syrup. These also make easy and chic gifts, appreciated by all hosts, and often immediately employed at social get-togethers (recipes and more on simple syrup here). Ahh, but the bitters, now these are more involved, take a bit more time, and are worth every ounce of effort. Not sure what bitters are? Or how they fit into the equation?

“People say bitters are the salt and pepper of the bar, but really, they’re like the spice rack,” (per Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all).

QC Charm School: DIY Bitters

Bitters are a type of infused high-proof alcohol, with flavors derived from plants, barks and herbs. Originally brewed for medicinal purposes they evolved into flavorful additions to cocktails, via the classic brands Peychauds and Angostura, both of which rely heavily on gentian (a bitter herb for flavoring). You don’t need these store bought staples though, not when you can wow people with your home brewed batches.

It will take some initial effort to gather the more exotic ingredients — if you count ordering from Amazon effort — but once your pantry is stocked, you will have more than enough to make batch after batch of the home brew. The recipe below for Cranberry Anise bitters from Food & Wine is a personal favourite, and makes use of gentian root, an ingredient that usually repeats in all bitters recipes and which is a good foundation to start experimenting with your own creations.

QC Charm School: DIY Bitters

Cranberry Anise Bitters

2 cups high-proof vodka (like Stolichnaya Blue 100 Proof)
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, each one pierced with a toothpick
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
2 star anise pods
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon gentian root
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
2 tablespoons simple syrup
  1. In a 1-quart glass jar, combine all of the ingredients except the syrup. Cover and shake well. Let stand in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily.
  2. Strain the infused alcohol into a clean 1-quart glass jar through a cheesecloth-lined funnel. Squeeze any infused alcohol from the cheesecloth into the jar; reserve the solids. Strain the infused alcohol again through new cheesecloth into another clean jar to remove any remaining sediment. Cover the jar and set aside for 1 week.
  3. Meanwhile, transfer the solids to a small saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes; let cool completely. Pour the liquid and solids into a clean 1-quart glass jar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week, shaking the jar once daily.
  4. Strain the water mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel set over a clean 1-quart glass jar; discard the solids. If necessary, strain again to remove any remaining sediment. Add the infused alcohol and the syrup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Pour the bitters through a cheesecloth-lined funnel or strainer and transfer to glass dasher bottles. Cover and keep in a cool, dark place.
Bitters can be stored at room temperature indefinitely. For best flavor, use within 1 year.
QC Charm School: DIY Bitters QC Charm School: DIY Bitters QC Charm School: DIY Bitters QC Charm School: DIY Bitters QC Charm School: DIY Bitters
In short, stir up high proof vodka, cranberry’s, anise, gentian, along with cinnamon sticks, anise and white peppercorns.  Allow to sit in a cool dark space for a few weeks. Then strain, boil, strain again, add simple syrup, and allow to sit some more. Finally, once everything has melded to perfection in this mysterious cool dark space, you have a rich, deep, aromatic elixir to bottle, and share (or hoard, I won’t tell).
I often keep a bottle in my purse — one never knows when cocktails will be needed and best to be prepared! As every proper lady and fledgling mixologist should be.

For more ideas and recipes, check out the full Food and Wine article here, and the aforementioned bible on bitters, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all.

Sante!

By Lani Zervas, of Mon Petit Chou Chou.

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

Charm School Extra Credit: How to Tie a Bow Tie

29/10/2012 § 2 Comments

Editor’s note: Even though February’s Charm School has come and gone, a bit of Extra Credit is just the thing to get us through the other 11 months of the year, no?

The Corsillo Brothers, the lovely Brooklyn-based duo behind The Hill-Side and Hickoree’s, have created an elegant — stop motion! — film to teach you how to tie a bow tie, which makes an excellent hidden talent for anyone’s toolkit.  Closely related to a previous Charm School lesson (see: Tie a Tie), this would definitely be taking it to the next level.  Granted, learning to tie a bow tie takes patience and practice, but without any hands getting in the way of this tutorial, you’ll be on your way in no time.

Personally, I can’t wait to break out my holiday bow tie.
Do you have any plans to wear one?
And if you like the indigo chambray tie featured above, you can find it here.

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

DIY: Dip Dyed Nylites

12/03/2012 § 16 Comments

The folks at Tretorn were nice enough to include me in the Nylite Project, sending me a pair of sparkling white canvas Nylites which I spent an evening dip-dying pink.  Full admission: As I am not well-schooled in the art of fabric dying, I used red Dylon dye, thinking they would be much more red, but I am quite pleased with the pink ombre that resulted — better for spring!

Dip Dye DIY

  1. Moisten shoes, prepare dye in stainless steel sink, according to package instructions.
  2. Dunk half of shoes into the dye, hung over the faucet.
  3. Fall asleep for three hours. (This step is optional)
  4. Remove from dye and allow to dry overnight. (I cheated and put mine on the heater.)

Voila!  I’m crafty!

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