how to make limoncello | holly & flora

how to make limoncello + 2 limoncello cocktails

Spring is officially a hazy memory here in Denver. The season switched from straight winter to blazing, hot summer in a snap. All of the late spring rain and snow turned the usual, crusty, brown landscape of Colorado into a vibrant splash of bright green. I look back at some of the photos I took in early June, and I can’t believe I didn’t put a filter on them.

When I was flying back home from a recent trip to Napa, I looked down from the window in the plane in pure disbelief that I was, indeed, flying over Denver and not Ireland or some other verdant country. Everything is absolutely gorgeous, and my garden has never looked this good in early July!

I was even off work on the solstice and got to ring in the advent of shorter evenings in my backyard, with a glass of chilled rosé. I’ve been enjoying a lot of chilled rosé here lately. Come to think of it, I’ve been enjoying a lot of chilled everything here lately. Every year, Steve and I find some way to delay getting a swamp cooler for the house. We always seem to have a more pressing expense to consider, and every year, we always shake our heads and regret not making the purchase.

lemon peels in bowl how to make limoncello | holly & flora

I’ve found creative ways to keep my cool. I have grown fond of taking cold showers in the morning. I actually stood in a cooler filled with ice water just yesterday. I even succumbed to the overwhelming urge to strip down to my skivvies and run through the garden sprinkler this afternoon. Thank God for trees and fences to keep it all classy because when heat takes over my brain, I think I lose my sense of appropriateness and my self-control.

Luckily, I’ve gotten very good at seeking out air-conditioned coffee shops, sneaking the rare visit to the movie theater, and finding an excuse to go to the grocery store just to cruise the cool produce department. I am fortunate enough, however, to work at a restaurant, where there is a walk-in freezer on premise. As soon as I exit my {also without AC} car, I make a beeline to the freezer. No hellos. No courtesies. Not until I get my cold-air fix.

I decided to make limoncello back in early March, when I had an abundance of lemons on hand. I followed my obsession with all-things-citrus and made countless cocktails, a batch of preserved lemons {a first for me}, lemon curd, and several marmalade iterations. I figured I’d use the skins of the lemons I was juicing, so logically, I thought about limoncello.

I’d never made the tart, citrus liqueur before. I have had both amazingly delicious limoncello and cloyingly sweet, dull limoncello. I stumbled across a recipe, via the Williams-Sonoma blog, Taste. I followed James Schend’s recipe pretty closely, but I actually forgot about my limoncello down in the basement after week five, accidentally aging it SIX more weeks! Although I don’t know if the extra aging benefited the limoncello, I was not disappointed with my results.


how to make limoncello


  • 20 large, organic lemons
  • 750 mL of vodka
  • 750 mL of Everclear {or other 151-proof alcohol}
  • 4 cups organic cane sugar
  • 3 cups filtered water
  1. Scrub and peel the lemons, using a vegetable peeler. Try your best to avoid including any of the white pith, which adds undesirable bitterness.
  2. Place the peels in a large, clean jar and add both the vodka and the Everclear.
  3. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and store in a cool, dark spot for at least five weeks. I stored mine for 11 weeks. Stir or shake the jar twice a week to integrate the flavor.
  4. After five weeks, remove the lemon peels with a slotted spoon. To test whether or not the limoncello is ready for the next step, take a peel and bend it between your thumb and index finger. If it easily snaps in half, you may proceed to step five; if not, store for at least another week and perform the same test, after the week has passed.
  5. Strain the mixture through a double-layer of cheesecloth into a clean jar.
  6. In a saucepan, heat the sugar and water until dissolved. Remove the sugar mixture from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  7. Add the cooled sugar-water to the limoncello mixture and stir.
  8. Store the sweetened limoncello mixture for another six weeks, so that the flavor intensifies and becomes more cohesive.
  9. When the aging time has passed, strain the final mixture through a double-layer of cheesecloth and store in a clean, glass jar or in cute, decorative jars like these.
  10. Store your containers of limoncello in the same cool, dark place, or keep it refrigerated for “emergencies” and cocktail creating!

how to make limoncello | holly & flora lemon balm | holly & flora how to make limoncello | holly & flora

Making lemony cocktails that mimic the effects of cool, refreshing lemonade is only a natural response to these high-heat, sweltering conditions. I  know I’ll get some flack from my AZ or FL friends for sounding whiny, but the lack of heat tolerance is all relative. We can all benefit from a cool respite.

These two cocktails not only incorporate my new, favorite cocktail component, limoncello, but they are also summery and herbaceous and perfect served over ice. So, don your flops, find a cute hat {or settle for a bandana, like I do}, and prop up next to a shady tree.


summertime in the garden


  • 1 1/2 ounces gin {I used Boodles}
  • 1/2 ounce limoncello
  • 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 sprig lemon balm
  • 2 slices cucumber
  • splash seltzer
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the mint, lemon balm, and cucumber slices.
  2. Add the gin, limoncello, lemon juice, and elderflower liqueur.
  3. Fill with ice and shake well.
  4. Double strain into a cocktail glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish with even more lemon balm. Slap it first, in order to release the aromatic oils. Trust me; it really works!
  6. For extra color and flavor and fun, freeze mint leaves in ice-cube trays and use them in the cocktail.

how to make limoncello | holly & flora how to make limoncello | holly & flora how to make limoncello | holly & flora how to make limoncello | holly & flora


lavender limoncello gin ricky


  • 1 1/2 ounces gin {I used Boodles}
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce DRAM Apothecary pine syrup
  • 1/2 ounce limoncello
  • 2 ounces seltzer
  • lavender sprigs for garnish
  1. In a mixing tin, combine the gin, lemon juice, DRAM pine syrup, and limoncello.
  2. Add ice and shake well.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass, filled with fresh ice.
  4. Top with seltzer and garnish with a sprig or two of fresh lavender.

What things are you doing to keep your cool? I seriously need some advice. I’m making popsicles like they’re going out of style, and I have had to amp up my running routine just to maintain that lavish habit! ;-)

On an exciting note, I’m excited that Steve and I are having our garden featured in our favorite local publication, Nourish Magazine, at the end of this month! We have been putting in the extra hours to make sure the garden looks its best. Here is a sneak-peak into what’s been happening in our garden over the last couple of weeks.

Cheers!

Jayme

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the june garden


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strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora

rhubarb + strawberry shrub mojito | the reset button

It’s amazing what a new job situation will do to your life. There is always a transition. To navigate that transitional time well, we are encouraged to slow down, settle into the newer routine, make room for exercise, focus on our breath, and keep calm and eat, drink, or do something to balance it all out.

It is so much easier said than actually done.

The first four months of this year were a financially stressful time for me. I was only working one evening each week at the restaurant, and my paid freelance jobs had stalled. In late April, I decided to take on another job, buying wine and spirits for a small wine shop here in town. The pay wasn’t great, but I kept my eyes on the promised opportunities: conducting wine-based trips, maintaining a website, and curating their social media.

It’s quite amusing how untimely life can be {or timely, perhaps}. As soon as I made that commitment to become a wine buyer, within just a couple of weeks, I was offered a raise and more shifts at the restaurant. It was an offer I couldn’t decline. Within a week, I was slammed with some writing and photography assignments. Looking back at this crazy time, I am actually shaking my head and laughing. I had to make one of the toughest decisions this year. I had to make a choice, and that choice required me to go back on my word.

I turned in my notice to the shop. I felt like absolute crap. Had I known what was coming my way only two weeks in advance, I would never have accepted that new job.

strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora

I truly wanted to just stop working at the wine shop and pretend this all hadn’t happened. Instead, I gave them proper notice, while simultaneously jumping into my new role at the restaurant. I don’t even remember much of late April, and May was a complete blur. There were a few 60-hour work weeks, copious amounts of tears, second helpings of wine, and nights where I fell asleep on my desk.

My sleep schedule was so wrecked that I was able to call my mom on two occasions, while she was getting ready for work at 5:30 in the morning. She lives in Florida, so she is two hours ahead of me. I hadn’t gone to bed yet. It was 3:30 my time, and I had to be at work at 8:00. I was breaking down. Forget about those deep breaths or proper exercise or healthy eating or, while we’re at it, a healthy relationship with your significant other.

strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora

There is a silver lining to this story. I promise.

Although I’m still recovering from the exhaustion from the last two months’ events, I am proud of myself that I persevered. I didn’t call in sick, I gave myself grace for not keeping the house clean, and I reinforced bridges that I could have potentially burned. I even capped off that whirlwind of craziness by successfully {more like miraculously!} finishing my first half-marathon. It was a rite of passage and really let me know that I’m more powerful than I give myself credit. We are all more powerful than we give ourselves credit.

I know all of us have piled on too much at once, whether or not we foresaw the outcome. How have you recovered? What tips to you have for getting the balance just right? I’m sure we can all benefit from further discussion.

rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito

I am happy to create more time to relax, get back to enjoying this blog, and run a little more. I am especially giving more attention to simply relaxing. My favorite moment last week was lying down in the back yard and staring up at the clouds. No phone. No active thinking. Just drifting.

And more time for cocktails.

Back in early March, I wrote a detailed post on how to make shrubs or drinking vinegars. They are a refreshing additive to cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, or just a little soda water. As I mentioned previously, a shrub is basically fruit, or even vegetables, combined with two other components: sugar and vinegar. After the correct ratio of those ingredients integrate over a little time, the result is a perfect balance of tartness, sugar, acidity, and texture. Shrubs are mouth-watering and concentrated, and they taste amazing when combined with soda water or integrated into a cocktail.

I made this rhubarb and strawberry shrub and have loved adding a little to homemade lemonade recently. I think I loved it best in a mojito. My mint is going crazy, so I have had to be super creative with using it in as many was as possible.


rhubarb + strawberry shrub


  • 10 ounces rhubarb, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 6 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, and sugar.
  2. Vigorously muddle the fruit. You really want to get out as much juice from the fruits, as you can.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for three days, stirring the mixture occasionally.
  4. Add the white wine vinegar, muddle the fruit a little, and stir to integrate any undissolved sugar.
  5. Strain the mixture through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer into a clean jar.
  6. Return the shrub to the refrigerator and let it hang out there for one week, in order for the flavors to integrate.
  7. Shake well before using and either make a cocktail or add a little shrub to your soda water.

rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora rhubarb strawberry shrub mojito | holly & flora

Mojitos were always so time-consuming to make, when I was behind the {muddling} stick. I know other bartenders, who would make theirs halfheartedly, so that no one would order them again. I actually found the process quite therapeutic, and I loved the taste of a well-incorporated mojito. I still do. For a little more history on the mojito, read this post on PUNCH.

Many recipes call for muddling raw sugar with mint leaves. I chose to make a mint simple syrup, instead. I’m using it for some orange-mint coconut cream pops, and I figured it would work perfectly in a mojito.


mint simple syrup


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • a handful of freshly cut mint leaves
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar on the stove, just until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat and toss in the mint leaves.
  3. Let steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain the mint leaves and cool.
  5. Store it in a clean, glass jar and use it up within a couple of weeks.

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rhubarb + strawberry shrub mojito


  • 2 quarters of a lime
  • 1/2 ounce mint simple syrup
  • 2 sprigs of mint
  • 2 ounces white rum, like Downslope
  • 1 1/2 ounces rhubarb + strawberry shrub
  • soda water
  1. In a mixing tin, muddle the lime, simple syrup, and one sprig of mint. Save the other sprig for a garnish. Don’t slack. Muddle it well!
  2. Add ice, rum, and the shrub. Cover and give it a shake or two.
  3. Pour into a tall glass and top with soda water.
  4. Garnish with another sprig of mint, find a sunny spot, and sip slowly.
  • This recipe yields one drink. It is also a little tart because of the shrub. I like it that way, but you can always tone down the amount for a more subtle mojito. And adding more soda water also dilutes it!
  • If you don’t want to make the mint simple syrup, simply substitute regular simple syrup and add a little extra mint when muddling.
  • This multiplies easily for a pitcher drink. Just combine all of the ingredients, reserving the soda water for when you are ready to serve.

strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & flora strawberry rhubarb shrub mojito | holly & floraCheers to an amazing week ahead!

Has your spring been consumed with herbaceous cocktails and fruity shrubs? If so, let me know what you’re doing. If not, get out and make yourself some!

XO,

Jayme

the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora

the apricot stinger cocktail | hello, spring

I won’t apologize for my excitement that spring is finally here. All I see are sunny days ahead on my weather app, and I am taking full advantage of this string of good luck. Like March, April is oftentimes a volatile month here in Colorado, where you’ll be wearing flops and shorts at noon and donning a full-on winter coat and battling an onslaught of wet snow by sunset. Here’s hoping for the best.

Our garden is overflowing with tulips, daffodils, crocuses, miniature irises, and crabapple blossoms. Even our mosses and creeping thyme plants are greening out and filling in the gaps on our flagstone path. This is such a beautiful time of year. Bulbs are waking from their winter dormancy, and grasses are hastily shooting up to meet the sun’s warmth. This well-rehearsed symphony of color and fragrance is a fleeting performance, however. Sure, summer is beautiful and bountiful, but there is something special about this time of transformation from winter’s dull, brown landscape to the vibrant, bright-green newness of spring. The season is simply invigorating and holds such promise for life and change and progress.

Change is in the air!


“Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

– Robert Frost


I am taking every moment possible to note the changes happening in our garden. I love sitting outside, underneath our crabapple tree, my favorite spot, with a cup of coffee and just listening to the growth. It is almost audible at times, and the energy is palpable. I find myself planning for the summer’s crops and dreaming up ways to preserve them later on, when I should be just soaking up this beautiful and short metamorphic season.

So, I couldn’t resist photographing this cocktail outside in the garden. Parts of the garden have yet to wake up, but this little, shady corner feels like another world.

the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora


“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.”

– Heraclitus


So, I have to say that photographing this white, frothy cocktail was rather tricky. Have you had the same challenge? It is almost like the tiny, pale bubbles got lost in their brightness, and I was unable to capture the dimension of the cocktail. It washed out. I think it is good to stretch your photography skills and place yourself in different lighting situations, but it is frustrating, all at the same time.

I’ve also had difficulty photographing other similar subjects, like ice cream, and making them “pop” in a low-light situation. Do you have any tips for a lighting and texture situation like this? The subject is in focus, since you can see the gold rim of the cocktail coupe in detail, but getting those fine bubbles to show up was challenging. I finally threw in the towel and did the best with the knowledge I had and the variables I was presented.

the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora

The flavor profile in this cocktail is straight-up creamsicle. The rich, frothy influence of the whipped egg whites pairs perfectly with the lemon juice, apricot liqueur, and the subtle notes of honey in the vodka. Usually, I am not a flavored vodka gal, but I am in love with Spring44’s Gin, so I had to give their honey vodka a go. Spring44’s award-winning Honey Vodka is handcrafted in Colorado and uses Rocky Mountain artesian spring water in its distillation process. The result is a pure, clean, clear spirit, made without any additives whatsoever. This aromatic, floral vodka boasts bright notes of lavender, rich honey, vanilla, and toasted nuts. And it is also great served by itself, on the rocks.

I’ve long been a fan of Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur. This liqueur marries perfectly with bourbon and paired magically {I know I overuse that adjective, but it completely applies here} with Teeling small-batch whiskey and steeped black tea in another cocktail I recently made, the Irish Breakfast. Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot has just the right amount of sweetness, without being cloyingly so. Its eau-de-vie base shines through and imparts a richness that complements the vibrant, fresh fruit component. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the notes of honey in the vodka. Like springtime in a glass. A frothy, rich, meringue-like expression of spring.

the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora

I actually hadn’t tried an egg white-based cocktail until about 2011. I know. I was late to the party. What do egg whites do to an already delicious cocktail? Think about a lemon meringue pie. It is tart, sweet, and silky in texture. Integrating perfectly whipped egg whites into a cocktail results in a cohesive, balanced, velvety drink.

And there is no need to worry about any food illness issues. If you source organic, pastured, fresh eggs, preferably from a local source, you’ll be guaranteed a safe product.


the apricot stinger


  1. In a mixing tin, combine the vodka, apricot liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white. Without adding any ice, “dry shake” for at least one minute. Don’t cheat.
  2. After the minute has passed, add ice and continue shaking for at least another minute. This is the “wet shake” stage. Shaking for two minutes is optimal. You jest, but the froth you’ll get from this vigorous shaking is remarkable. Texture is what you’re after in this recipe.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lemon peel, mint sprig, or an edible flower {note: my miniature daffodils in the photos are not tasty and were only present for decoration, since my violas hadn’t bloomed quite yet}.
  • Always choose fresh, organic, pastured eggs.
  • The cooler the egg, the easier it is to separate the white from the yolk.
  • The easiest way to separate the white from the yolk is to simply crack the shell and pass the yolk from one half of the shell to the other. You may also crack the whole egg over a slotted spoon or a julep strainer. Just do this over a bowl or directly into the cocktail tin.
  • Don’t overlook the dry shaking step. Shaking the ingredients without the presence of ice lets the mixture emulsify and bond together. If you want to speed up or accentuate the process, you can add the spring from a Hawthorne shaker or a blender ball {whisking ball} to the tin.
  • Don’t slack on shaking the cocktail, once you’ve added the ice. This last step slightly dilutes the cocktail and chills it down, without destroying the fine mousse you developed during the dry shake.

the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & floraSo, yeah, spring. I’m seriously having a little trouble jumping right in with gusto, as far as my personal life is concerned. I can’t seem to find my writing groove, and I have fallen off the running wagon and haven’t trained in over a week. Did I mention that I am registered for a half marathon in a little over a month? Eek.

Like I mentioned above, spring is such a fleeting moment of intense growth. I feel invigorated from the life and movement of the season, but it is almost overwhelming, when I try to actually put my dreams and aspirations to work. Despite this busy season, and my laundry list of aspirations, it is important to slow down and seriously enjoy the changes that are happening. They don’t happen overnight in nature, so why should I place the same pressure upon myself?

My aunt told me a story over the weekend that helped place all of this into proper perspective. She likened our experiences in life to a ride on a train. If we hustle along, only thinking about our destination, crossing off our to-dos, never slowing down, we make it to the end, and it’s done. We have met the end of our life and haven’t even enjoyed the stops along the way. Seriously, what is the rush? Why can’t we just pause and let ourselves enjoy the path we’re on, instead of trampling the flowers and ignoring the potential friends along the way?

the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & floraI am definitely not alone in the quest for the perfect, frothy, egg white-based cocktail. If you are ever in New York, I hear that the Alabaster Crowley cocktail, an egg white-based cocktail that mashes up Old Tom Gin and Amaro Montenegro, at the Garret is pretty much earth-shaking. My friend, Renée, just took the plunge and moved to NYC to work as a fashion assistant. Apparently, this particular cocktail is so good, she’s ordered it in succession. Here are a few unique recipes to try, along with a couple of classics.


other egg white-based cocktails to try


  • The Clover Club, a classic, citrus-y, gin-based fizz, accentuated with raspberry jam, via Oh So Beautiful Paper
  • Rhubarb and Rose Ramos Gin Fizz, this twist on the classic calls for rhubarb syrup and rose water, brightening up this creamy, gin-based cocktail, by way of Food 52
  • White Lady, a classic cocktail, featured in the 1930s classic, Savoy Cocktail Book, which features dry gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, and, of course, egg whites, found on PUNCH
  • Cotogna’s Aperol Fizz, showcases one of my favorite spirits, Aperol, and adds a creamier twist to the classic Aperol Spritz, via Serious Eats
  • Meyer Lemon Gin Fizz, a simple cocktail that lets seasonally available Meyer lemons take center stage, via Spirited Alchemy

the apricot stinger cocktail | holly & flora


“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”

– W. Somerset Maugham


There is no doubt that I will make that last cocktail on the list, the Meyer Lemon Gin Fizz, when my Meyer lemons ripen. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had about 13 little lemons ripening on my dwarf Meyer lemon tree, which I over-wintered this past cold season. During the first five years of a Meyer lemon tree’s life, it is very unlikely that fruit will actually set. I am surprised that I have three, rather large, yellowing Meyer lemons! I am beyond excited! I don’t care if I get only one out of the deal. Whatever I make with that one, perfect lemon will be decadent. IMG_2940 IMG_2938

I’m closing with some photos I took, while prepping the garden soil this past week. As far as the garden edibles go, mint, tarragon, chives, thyme, and sorrel have all made their perennial appearances over the past few days. We even discovered some potatoes from this past fall that were absolutely delicious and sweet. The onions we planted last summer were ready, as well.

My friend, Ashlae, recently dropped by for breakfast and helped sow the early-spring seeds with me. She is my local supplier of vanilla crack, better known to all as the Real Deal vanilla extract. She is also a pretty fun person to hang around. We have both agreed that we are grandmas, since we cherish being at home, enjoy good books, dabble in the DIY department, and enjoy getting our hands dirty and gardening. I’m proud of the label. I think we ended up talking way more than we did actually planting. We managed to plant buttercrunch lettuce in succession, and we sowed several varieties of Swiss chard, some kale, and a few rows of beets.

The buttercrunch lettuce is already popping up!

IMG_2967 IMG_2968 IMG_2945 IMG_2948 IMG_2950 IMG_2951 IMG_2952


“If nothing lasts, then everything has meaning. If everything dies, that means we actually live.”

– Chris Matakas


So, which egg white-based cocktails have you made? Do you have any other recipes where honey vodka would be a great component? Also, if you have any advice on photographing ice cream or other frothy-textured foods, lay it on me!

Cheers to a wonderful rest-of-the-week! And happy spring cocktail-making!

XO,

Jayme

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rosé berry sangria | holly & flora

juiced spring berry + gin + rosé sangria | my post-birthday musings

It has been exactly one week, since I celebrated my birthday, and it was truly one of the most memorable celebrations. My boyfriend and I kept it super simple and decided to visit some of my favorite spots around the city of Denver. We started out at the Weathervane Café for some good coffee and shortbread, picked up the latest copy of Nourish magazine at Studio Colfax, scored five new albums at the record store, and had a hummus plate at Café Max. We drove back home and leisurely got ready for an early dinner at the famed farm-to-table restaurant, Fruition. The food was beautifully plated, exceptionally fresh, and perfectly coursed. Our sommelier, Aaron, even blinded us on the wine he chose, which we nailed almost perfectly: a 2001 Mersault-Genevrières.

That’s French for darn-good Chardonnay!

Earlier this week, I extended the birthday celebrations and treated myself to a cut and color. I decided to go for a more dramatic, asymmetrical shape, along with a series of copper and blonde highlights. I always enjoy going to the salon. It is like a getaway for me. I’m greeted with a big cup of coffee, and I basically have a two hour-long gab fest with my hair dresser, consisting of mutual confessions, some psychological counseling, and tear-inducing bouts of laughter. Aside from enjoying a glorious head massage during the shampoo session, I also indulge in my guilty pleasure of reading fashion magazines and catching up on the celebrity gossip in US Weekly or People. Sometimes, I even scan through an OK!, if I really want to know what’s going on. It’s the only time I break away from my usual Modern Farmer or Lucky Peach periodicals. rosé berry sangria | holly & flora rosé berry sangria | holly & flora This time, I opted for the latest Harper’s Bazaar. It must have been the magazine’s “age issue” because in between all of those clothing and perfume ads, it was peppered with stories on what it means to age gracefully, how to dress age-appropriately, along with musings on the topic of aging from a few fashion icons. I have always admired the work of designer, Carolina Herrera, so when I came across a short article highlighting some of her thoughts on the topic, I dove right in. It was inspiring to hear that she actually started her successful business in her 40s. She affirmed my stance on growing older: I seriously believe we should all follow our passions, whenever we discover them, at whatever point we are in our lives. rosé berry sangria | holly & flora My aunt, Edith Jackson, is also one of my inspirations on the whole “getting older” topic. She has been a painter and designer for almost all of her life. Every morning, she greets her basement studio, nestled in the Smoky Mountains, with energy and creativity. She is actually the person who prompted me to start a blog. She even honed my social media skills and was one of the first to introduce me to Tumblr and Twitter. She makes every, single day count, educates me on current events, posts a snap of her sketchbook paintings each day on Instagram, cooks from scratch, has overcome breast cancer, and just recently opened her Etsy shop. Did I mention she is 70? We can either start living or stop living at any point in our lives. I, like my beloved aunt, am choosing to live with ferocity!


“You don’t have to be afraid of getting older; fear is the most disgusting thing. You have to get older because the alternative is horrible. If you don’t get older, you’re dead!”

Carolina Herrera


About that sangria. The word, sangria, actually translates as “blood” or “bleeding.” I know that doesn’t sound that appetizing, but there is a reason I am making this reference after posting my thoughts on living life with fierceness and purpose. Traditionally, sangria is made with brandy, fresh fruit, and red wine, hence the connection with the red-toned hue of blood. In many cultures, however, blood is symbolic of life and relates to living life with vigor, passion, intensity, and ferocity.

The recipe I am sharing is made with rosé wine and uses freshly juiced berries, apples, and lemons. Most sangria recipes toss fruit in as simply a garnish, not as a main component in the flavor profile. I recently became the proud owner of a Hurom HG Elite Slow Juicer, and I have already put it to use and made another sangria recipe, a juiced cucumber, melon, and white grape sangria. I justify consuming a couple of glasses of it because of all of the fruit servings I’m getting. It has to be healthy.


spring berry + gin + rosé sangria


  • 1 bottle of dry rosé {I like a rosé of Garnacha, like Las Rocas}
  • 6 ounces the Botanist gin
  • 4 ounces Leopold Bros. “American Orange” liqueur
  • 6 ounces berry juice {a good handful each of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries}
  • 6 ounces apple juice {about 3 apples}
  • 1 ounce lemon juice {about 1 lemon}
  • 1 ounce agave nectar
  • soda water, for finishing
  • blackberry-studded ice cubes {see instructions below}
  • sliced strawberries or mint leaves, for garnish

Give yourself a day ahead to make and freeze your fruit cubes. You can juice the fruits and vegetables in advance, as well. That way, the juice has time to chill in the fridge.

  1. Juice the berries, apples, and lemon, following your manufacturer’s directions. Juice each separately, so you’ll know the exact amounts yielded.
  2. Combine the juices, bottle of rosé, gin, orange liqueur, and agave nectar, mixing well.
  3. Refrigerate mixture until ready to serve.
  4. Garnish cocktail or wine glasses with berry-studded ice cubes and pour juice mixture into each glass, saving a little room for a splash of soda.
  5. Toss a sprig of mint or a strawberry slice on each glass for a garnish.
  6. Don your sunnies, sit on the back porch {or fire escape or patch of grass}, and pour yourself and some friends a glass or two. There’s plenty to share.

rosé berry sangria | holly & flora rosé berry sangria | holly & flora rosé berry sangria | holly & flora rosé berry sangria | holly & flora rosé berry sangria | holly & flora rosé berry sangria | holly & flora Even if you don’t have a juicer, you can still make this particular recipe with a blender. Just strain the blended fruit purée through a fine-mesh strainer or chinois for a less dense juice. I have used my Vitamix in this very fashion. If the final sangria is a little too thick for your liking, simply add more soda to the final mixture or perhaps a little white grape juice. You can even add water to the fruit mixture, to dilute it just after you blend it.


blackberry-studded ice cubes


  • 24 blackberries
  • filtered water
  • 2 ice cube trays {12 cubes each}
  1. If you want your blackberries suspended in the middle of the ice cubes, fill the slots halfway with water and drop the berries in. Let it freeze and then fill the slots all the way up with water {I didn’t do this here; I just tossed the berries into the slots, filled them with water, and froze the trays}.
  2. Freeze until solid.
  3. Use them, along with plain ice cubes, as an eye-catching and delicious garnish for the sangria.

You obviously can choose whatever berry you’d like. Just make sure you have enough ice for your sangria. Iced tea tastes better with, well, ice. The same rule applies to sangria.

IMG_2333 rosé berry sangria | holly & flora rosé berry sangria | holly & flora rosé berry sangria | holly & flora There won’t be a shortage of rosé, since more and more producers are making it, due to its rise in popularity over the past few years. Personally, I have always been a pink wine supporter, but I am happy to share that love with all of the new-found rosé drinkers out there. Pink really is the new white. ;-) So, after you make a juiced rosé sangria, experiment with some other spring-inspired rosé sangria recipes. Here are a few of my favorites:

Do you have any favorite rosés that you’re already enjoying? I can’t get enough, so please let me know if you’ve had an amazing one. What is your favorite sangria recipe? Have you ever used freshly juiced fruit? What are your thoughts on getting older? Who keeps you inspired? Cheers to a freakishly amazing weekend! Jayme IMG_2342

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

sea salt shortbread cookies with lemon curd | paired with Kracher Auslese 2011

I had every intention of sharing these cookies, along with the lemon curd, even the dessert wine, with my coworkers. I set aside 40 of them to take to work this past Saturday. Between me and Steve, we not only consumed the 15 allocated to the two of us, but we also polished off the portion reserved for the kind and hard-working chefs, servers, and managers at the restaurant. Hmmm. Yeah, sorry. Not sorry!

I just couldn’t stop eating them. I am trying not to think about the fact that, between the two of us, we ingested two sticks of butter over the course of fewer than three days. Somehow, that fact is easier to disregard, when the butter is divided among almost 60 small, heart-shaped, dainty cookies!

There is a lot to cover in this post: a recap on this modification of Emilie’s shortbread recipe over at the Clever Carrot, a how-to on Meyer lemon curd, and a review of the dessert wine that paired magically with these sweet and sour components. I’ll keep my personal update short for sake of space, but I will let you know that, in addition to eating all of these cookies, I am really winning so far this week: I overslept that 5-mile race I had signed up for. I seriously blame these cookies. Somehow, they were the culprit.

I can honestly say that I blame cookies for a lot of things. But that’s an entirely different post.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.”

– Victor Kiam


I had actually made a few jars of lemon curd before reading a recent post by Emilie over at the Clever Carrot. Emilie is a chef, who believes in the concept of “healthy comfort food.” She makes amazing sourdough bread, posts useful tips, writes heartfelt posts, and creates recipes far beyond sweets. And she has a kick-ass Instagram feed. Recently, she and her boys made the cutest batch of shortbread cookies. She made a modification of shortbread that included egg yolks, since traditional shortbread recipes call for simply one part butter, two parts sugar, and three parts flour. Just looking at her post, though, made me want to roll out of bed and bake several pans of these cookies. There is nothing like the combination of lemon curd and shortbread.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

I only slightly modified Emilie’s original recipe and added some of my citrus salt I recently made, along with a little vanilla extract, a sprinkling of sea salt, and a slight tweak of flours. My baking session, however, was a little less eventful from hers. Simply skimming the first 100 or so words of her post will clue you in on her baking adventure. If only my two cats were that exciting.

Another component that really set these shortbread cookies apart was the addition of a little sea salt, sprinkled on top of the cookies before baking them. I used some Canadian sea salt, a gift from my dear friend, Kristy. I didn’t even know that Canada specialized in sea salt. The company, Vancouver Island Salt Co., was started by a chef, and their Fleur de Sel is Canada’s first sea salt.


sea salt shortbread cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted almond flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons citrus salt {you may substitute regular salt}
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift the flours into a large bowl and add the cubed butter. Using your fingers, break apart the cubes of butter and incorporate the butter into the flour. See the photo above for an example of what kind of texture you’re looking for. You want pea-sized pieces of the mixture. And you can always use a pastry cutter, if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, but getting your hands dirty is half the fun!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks well and add the sugar and citrus salt. Stir until incorporated.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and, using your fingers again, mix until the dough forms a ball, being careful not to over-mix.
  5. Flatten the dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Over a piece of parchment paper, roll a portion of the dough to about a 1/4″ thick. Like Emilie, I also sandwich my dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. This makes removing the cookies SO much easier. The dough won’t stick to your rolling-pin. I don’t attempt this any other way, and this method works when rolling pie dough, too.
  7. Cut out cookies with the cookie cutter of your choice. I love these little hearts! They also make a lovely pie crust.
  8. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle the cookies with coarse sea salt, and bake for 12-15 minutes, just until slightly golden.
  9. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool the cookies on it for 5 minutes. Remove the cookies with a spatula and transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
  10. Let the cookies cool completely and serve alongside a glass of Kracher Auslese and smother them with lemon curd. Better yet, make lemon curd shortbread sandwiches and chill them in the refrigerator, until you’re ready to enjoy them!
  • This recipe yields about 55 smallish cookies, depending upon the size of your cutter.
  • Make sure that you thoroughly chill your dough before cutting the cookies. You can always chill the dough down in the fridge in between batches.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

Curd, curd, curd. Curd’s the word! Okay, I am officially delirious right about now. I think I’m still recovering from the birthday celebrations over the weekend. But, seriously, I did grow up thinking that 50s and 60s rock was the current music of my time, since I only listened to my dad’s “oldies radio” station. I didn’t discover Michael Jackson until I was nearly 13! Thanks, Dad. So, about that lemon curd! And back to being slightly serious. Of course, you can purchase some delicious lemon curd from the store, but making lemon curd is super easy and requires just a short amount of time. And, honestly, sprinkling the shortbread cookie with a little sea salt was a perfect match with the sweet-tart lemon curd.

I actually hadn’t actually tasted lemon curd before experimenting with making it this year during my citrus obsession {shocker!}. I’d even loosely used “lemon curd” as a term for describing certain wines’ characteristics. I assumed it had a creamy, rich texture and a citrus-y, tart kick. I was definitely right about that. Kind of like the California Chardonnay I’m sipping on this very moment. A basic fruit curd recipe calls for egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice, and zest. The result is a super rich, custard-like spread that pairs well with anything from scones to waffles to fresh fruit.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora


meyer lemon curd


  • 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1 regular lemon
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  1. Sterilize the jars you will be using for the lemon curd. I used random Mason jars and jars from store-bought relish and jellies. Since you won’t be processing these jars, you can use whichever containers you’d like, as long as you sterilize them properly. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place the jars carefully inside. Boil the jars for at least 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars inside the pot, until you need them in a few minutes.
  2. Wash and scrub the skins of the lemons well.
  3. Grate the zest from the 3 lemons into a stainless steel bowl. I used a Microplane. Be careful to avoid zesting any of the bitter, white pith. If you don’t have a fine zester, like a Microplane, you can take Ina Garten’s advice and simply peel the skins with a vegetable peeler and pulse it, along with the cane sugar, in a food processor.
  4. Juice all 3 lemons into the same stainless steel bowl.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and set the bowl over the simmering water. This is kind of like a double boiler situation.
  6. Add the sugar, salt, and butter and stir until the butter melts.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Strain the egg mixture through a chinois or sieve into the butter mixture.
  9. Here’s where some elbow grease comes into play. For the next 6 to 8 minutes, whisk the mixture constantly until smooth and thickened to a custard-like texture. Don’t slack!
  10. Pour the lemon curd into the sterilized jars and let the curd cool.
  11. Cover with the lids and store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  • This recipe yielded me about 12 ounces. I divided the lemon curd into three 4-ounce jars.
  • Make sure that you use a clean spoon or knife each time you serve the lemon curd. This will keep the curd fresh and lengthen its shelf-life in the refrigerator.
  • If you can’t find seasonally available Meyer lemons, feel free to substitute with regular lemons.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora

As you well know, I sing the praises of serving dessert wine after a meal either alone or alongside a sweet treat {case in point, here, here, and here}. I chose an acidic, sweet dessert wine to accompany this shortbread and lemon curd duo. The producer of this sweet, late-harvest wine is Kracher, and they have consistently set the standard for quality, sweet wines from Austria. When I tasted the wine with the shortbread and lemon curd, I knew I had to share this experience with the staff at work. I really did have the best of intentions. I’d like to say that I dropped them on the floor or something, but in all sincerity, Steve and I ate. them. all.

I can say, however, that I’ve managed to remember to run almost every day this week!


Kracher, Auslese Cuvée, Burgenland, Austria, 2011


  • Off the vine – 60% Chardonnay, 40% Welschriesling
  • On the eyes  –  very pale yellow
  • On the nose  –  fresh aromas of ripe peaches and apricots, tropical white fruits, with a pronounced citrus blossom note.
  • On the palate  –  medium in body, not too thick on the palate, with lots of honeydew, tangerine, citrus blossom, and lychee notes, with a touch of wildflower honey. This wine has a lingering citrus-y finish and a bright acidity. This dessert wine is sweet but not cloyingly so.
  • On the table  –  perfectly paired with the creamy, rich lemon curd! This Auslese would also complement a slightly spicy Asian dish, fruit-driven desserts, and fresh goat cheese. I’d drizzle the goat cheese with a little honey and serve it along with some toasted pecans.
  • On the shelf  –  around $23 {375 mL}.
  • On the ears  –  I splurged and got five new albums from the record store on my birthday this past week. One of my favorite purchases was the latest from Digitalism. I was smitten by their 2007 album, Idealism, and I couldn’t believe I’d missed their latest effort {2011, so new-to-me}, I Love You, Dude. If you haven’t heard of this German duo, give this track a listen, and it will give you a feel for their sound.

lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & flora lemon curd + shortbread cookies | holly & floraIf you’ve been digging dessert wine lately and want to research more about it, here are a few links that will lend you a little more information:

If you make these cookies or attempt a batch of lemon curd, let me know how it all turns out! And if you score a bottle of this moderately priced, delicious dessert wine, let me know what you think. Here’s to a week filled with commitment to goals, not as many cookies, and a lot more green smoothies. At least that’s what I’ll be striving for!

Cheers!

Jayme

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apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | thoughts on intentional living

There’s nothing quite like a scathing but well-deserved comment from a loved-one, before you’ve even set foot on the floor, first thing in the morning. My alarm had gone off, I had snoozed my standard three times, and I was beginning my morning routine of sleepily scrolling through the emails that had popped up during the night, checking my Instagram feed, and noting the happenings on Facebook. I heard Steve mutter something to me. “What’s that?” I didn’t even look up. Sighing, he asked the question again. Staring at my screen, I quickly responded, “Just one second. I need to finish this email.”

Then I caught the tail end of another question he asked, and I answered, “Um, yes.” Judging from Steve’s facial expression, that was clearly the wrong answer, and it did not even pertain to what he asked. I put down my phone, apologized, and begged him to ask me again. I was going to pay full attention this time. Promise. Instead of posing his question again, he curtly stated, “I am tired of playing second fiddle to your cell phone. Every morning.”

Those words resonated within me. It was true, and I hated to admit it. It’s not like I even care what I am lazily scrolling through, and I know that I’d have a better morning {and relationship!}, if I forewent my daily ritual of catching up on digital details. The guilt of hurting someone I dearly care about tore me apart, and I made a pact then and there that I would not pick up my phone first thing in the morning. I wouldn’t even keep it beside my bed. It would be a tough habit to break.


I felt like Fred Armisen on Portlandia, the “Technology Loop” episode. “Please help me. Please help me.”


So, the past two mornings, I have stored my phone across the room, so I would actually have to get out of bed to turn off my alarm. No more snoozing. No more mindless swiping and tapping. No more trading quality human interaction with my dearest for a one-sided session with a pocket-sized, life-sucking inanimate object. This entire shift of how I choose to spend my morning coincides with an article I read in the latest edition of Uppercase Magazine. The piece focused on how we can fit more intentional creativity into our daily lives, despite the onslaught of digital distractions, and highlighted a book, aptly titled, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World. Have you read it?

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

I immediately put that book on hold at the library and decided to make a conscious effort to be more present in my daily life, both in how I interact with others and how I choose to use my personal time. I don’t know if I could go, say, 30 days without social media or my phone; although, it sounds very enticing. Shifting my thoughts toward being more intentional with my actions, however, has yielded some good results, even though I am only three days in on my commitment. I squeezed in a run each morning, started the day with a meditation, and even went outside and connected with my backyard garden. I took time to lie on the ground, take in the smells, look up at the sky, and decide how I wanted to sculpt my day. Why hadn’t I done this any sooner?

I have a long way to go, before these new actions become habits, but I am pointed in the right direction. And I am not exempt from any potholes. In fact, I snoozed this morning, it was raining outside, and I had a raging headache. Initially, I reached for my phone and cozied down in the covers, but I decided against it and forced myself to go out for a run. Even my running wardrobe is currently fighting against me: I have only one matching pair of socks, and I have to wear three of my sports bras to get actual support. No exaggeration. They are that old and stretched out {the bras, that is}. It’s a little embarrassing, and now you know this detail about me. Despite these circumstances, I managed a solid 3-mile run.

So, I’m due for a reward. In the form of a cocktail. It is Friday, after all, and it is important to celebrate the changes we make, right? I’m pretty good at justifying reason for making a drink.

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

I decided upon a whiskey-based cocktail, since I have been on that loop here lately. And since St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, why not an Irish whiskey? This cocktail is slightly sweet, with notes of ripe apricot, has just the right amount of citrus-y acidity, and finishes with a tea-like bitter note. It’s balanced and marries perfectly with the flavor profile of this particular whiskey, Teeling, a small-batch, blended Irish whiskey, which is aged in rum casks.

Teeling’s notes of caramel, baking spices, dried herbs, and orange peel are perfect matches with apricot liqueur, a little lemon juice, a splash of bitters, and a black tea simple syrup. The black tea simple is easy to make and, as I mentioned above, adds a depth of bitterness to the cocktail. Make this simple syrup in advance, so that it has time to cool.


black tea simple syrup


  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 2 bags organic black tea
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add the bags of black tea, and remove from heat.
  2. Let the tea bags steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, carefully pressing out the excess liquid with a spoon.
  3. Place the saucepan back on the stove and bring to a slow boil once again. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • If you wish to make more simple syrup, you can increase the amounts. It’s an easy 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. 
  • This particular recipe for black tea simple syrup will make about 8 cocktails. 
  • The simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator up to one month. If you have any extra, add it to iced coffee or iced tea for an added depth of flavor and sweetener. Black tea simple also marries well with spiced rum. It would be perfect with bourbon and lemon or lemonade, depending upon your desired level of sweetness. 

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

It’s always a fun process to name a cocktail. You can play it safe and simply name it by its ingredients, or you can name it after an author, a book, a movie, an inside joke, or a terrible pun. I’m definitely guilty of the terrible pun, but today I will settle on calling this cocktail, the “Irish Breakfast.” Since black tea is a component of the cocktail, it reminded me of “Irish Breakfast” tea. I figured, if it is a true Irish breakfast, however, whiskey must be involved. And I can so joke about this, since I have a little Irish in me. ;-)


irish breakfast


  1. In a mixing glass filled with ice, build the cocktail with the whiskey, apricot liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass, filled with ice.
  4. Add a splash of soda and garnish with a lemon peel.

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora


Maybe every once in a while we can take a break from doing everything faster and quicker to reflect on who we are and where we are going.”

– Joe Plumeri


What are you doing this weekend? I will be reconnecting to my garden, turning the compost, dead-heading the grasses and shrubs, and mulching the beds with Steve. I’m regretting signing up for a race this Sunday morning. It would normally be fine, but I forgot that it is officially St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and I’m sure the streets of downtown Denver, where the race is held, will be strewn with the aftermath of Saturday night’s debauchery and its accompanying sights and smells. At least I have a beer to look forward to at the end of the race!

  • How do you detach from your wired world? What means do you have to remain balanced?
  • Do you recommend any helpful books or resources?

apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora apricot + black tea irish whiskey cocktail | holly & flora

Here is a peek into what’s happening in the garden this week. It still looks pretty brown, dead, and dismal, but there are signs of life popping up here and there, giving me hope that spring is around the corner. The sights around here will be drastically different even within a month. I am beyond ready for you, spring!

Cheers to an amazing weekend and cheers to intentional living!

XO,

Jayme

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winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

winter citrus salad + blood orange shrub dressing | paired with chenin blanc

Don’t we all wish we could view and present our lives through an Instagram filter? We could give our day-to-day messiness a hazy, golden glow; smudge away the imperfections, late-fees, traffic tickets; paint a ray of sunshine on our grey days; make our piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and dark circles look, somehow, like awe-inspiring works of art; and delete those harsh remarks we’ve made. Count me in!

But how do we ever make changes in our lives, unless we examine ourselves, under close scrutiny, raw and un-retouched? How else do we know when we need to progress or say goodbye to places, people, or habits, which no longer serve us? I remember visiting with a financial planner years ago, a time when my finances were in a bad place. In order to see where my problem areas existed, I was instructed to look back, tally up my past expenditures, and write down everything I was spending on a daily basis. I begged to skip this step. I just wanted to scratch the past and simply move forward from where I was.

Exposing my poor choices to a stranger was terrifying to me. But even more terrifying was coming to grips with my own addictions, my lack of discipline, and my frivolity. I can tell you, however, that if I hadn’t gone through that bitter process of digging deeper, realizing the patterns I’d created, I would most likely be making those same poor choices today.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

You know what’s even more difficult than self-evaluation? When someone else evaluates you, without a prompt, unsolicited. Gulp. I recently came across a blog comment that I must have overlooked somehow. It was written back in October in response to a recipe I had posted. As I read the words, I cringed inside and felt defensive, at first. I adjusted my robe, mirroring the way I felt inside: like someone saw something I didn’t want them to see. But really that was just my ego getting in the way. Someone actually took the time and let me know that the recipe was unclear and even offered a suggestion to enhance my post’s readability.

You know? I am seriously grateful that this person deemed it important to kindly share his thoughts in a constructive fashion. I immediately fixed the problem and even began to look at my recipes with a keener eye {that’s not to say that I am mistake-free from now on!}. If that reader hadn’t taken the time to share his thoughts, I wouldn’t have grown as a writer or matured a little as an individual.

My boyfriend and I sat down together this past week and took a critical look at our garden. The promise of spring, along with the time change and some warmer weather, has gotten us into “planning mode” for our garden. We took out a piece of paper and sketched out three categories: garden failures, garden successes, and aspects we need to improve upon. Granted, it is much easier to discuss the ins and outs of gardening, as opposed to deep soul-searching, but the concept is similar. You’ve got to know your starting point, know your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can move forward and see the results you want – in your life or in your tomato patch.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

Okay. I’ll bring a little levity to this post and talk about a salad I’ve been making lately. I don’t really follow recipes for making salads. In fact, most of the time, I end up either grabbing what’s in season at the store, pulling something from the garden, or sifting through my fridge and assembling something tasty with what’s on hand. I’ve also mentioned it before: you don’t need to follow a strict recipe for a salad dressing, either. And you definitely don’t need to purchase salad dressing from the store. Ever. It is really a simply process and tastes so much more delicious, when you make your own. I tend to follow the following ratio, and it suits me perfectly every time:

—  3 parts oil + 1 part vinegar + squeeze of citrus + seasonings  —

I have recently caught the shrub-making bug and have made three kinds already. I detailed a how-to post last week, in case you missed it. I used my blood orange shrub in the dressing for this citrus salad. It provides a tangy, sweet-sour taste and can substitute the vinegar usually found in dressing recipes.


blood orange shrub vinaigrette


  • 1/3 cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange shrub
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup crushed raw pistachios
  • If you don’t have blood orange shrub on hand, you may substitute the shrub with 2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar. This combo makes a great vinaigrette, but if you’d like a little more blood orange flavor, just add the juice of half a blood orange, or more to taste.
  • I like to combine all of the ingredients in a mason jar and shake well until emulsified.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blendwinter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend


winter citrus salad


  • 5 oranges {a mixture of your choice}, skins removed and sliced width-wise
  • 1 Meyer lemon, skins removed and sliced width-wise
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a head of radicchio, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • chiffonade of mint leaves {about 10 leaves}
  • handful of raw, sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • sprinkle of feta cheese
  1. Remove the skins of the citrus with a knife. Slice the citrus width-wise.
  2. Using either a mandoline or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the fennel bulb and the radicchio.
  3. Peel the shallot and slice it super thin.
  4. To make the chiffonade of mint, take the 10 mint leaves, stack them on top of each other, roll them from top to bottom, and slice the roll of leaves thinly.
  5. Arrange the citrus slices, fennel, radicchio, and shallot on two plates {or one, if you’re hungry} and sprinkle the mint, pumpkin seeds, and feta over the top.
  6. Drizzle the salad with dressing and enjoy with a glass of Chenin Blanc.
  • This video show an excellent example of removing the skins of citrus with a knife. Be sure to remove the pith {white part} from the fruit. It’s perfectly fine to eat, but it offers a bitter taste.
  • Don’t know how to chiffonade? Here’s a great visual.
  • This recipe yields about 2 salads.

winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend winter citrus salad | paired with a chenin blanc blend

I paired this salad with Marvelous “Yellow,” which is a Chenin Blanc-dominated blend from South Africa. This wine is one of my favorite white wines I’ve tasted this past year, and it pairs perfectly with this citrus-fennel salad. The Marvelous wine portfolio is a collaboration among winemaker Adam Mason, chef Peter Tempelhoff and passionate wine entrepreneur Charles Banks. They also make the “Red” {a Syrah-led blend} and the “Blue” {a Cab Franc-led blend}.


Marvelous “Yellow”, Chenin Blanc Blend, South Africa, 2012


  • Off the vine  –  Chenin Blanc {60%}, Chardonnay {30%}, and Viognier {10%}, sourced from the Western Cape.
  • On the eyes  –  brilliant, pale yellow.
  • On the nose  –  wildly aromatic, with notes of white flowers, lush, tropical fruits, and a hint of golden apple and lime.
  • On the palate  –  dry, medium-bodied, with a silky mouth-feel, vibrant acidity, and a mineral-driven finish. The palate confirms the nose with bright, tropical fruits, a hint of vanilla, citrus, and ripe, golden apple. It’s the perfect balance of flavor, texture, and acidity. You can really sense what each grape brings to the wine.
  • On the table  –  perfect with citrus salads, grilled chicken, or a buttery, spring pea risotto.
  • On the shelf  –  around $15, which is a crazy value.
  • On the ears  –  paired with some Samia Farah from her 1999 self-titled album. This Tunisian-French singer’s style mingles among the jazz, pop, and reggae genres and conjures up images of lazy, hazy summers. This album is a standard for the sunny months of June, July, and August. It is the perfect putzing-around-in-the-yard music. I especially like the track, “Je Sais”; I tend to blast it on mornings-off, over coffee, out in the garden. This video will clue you in on her sound even further.

tulips before the snowstormour backayard in the snowcat pawprints in the snow

I’ll close with some wintry shots I took with my iPhone on a walk a few days ago. We finally got some well-deserved sunshine and warmth today, and I even cracked some sparkling rosé and donned the tank top. Maybe it was a bit premature {insert goosebumps and a little teeth-chattering}, but it was worth it!

Cheers to an amazing rest-of-the-week, peppered with a little introspection and some self-growth!

XO,

Jayme

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