Tag Archives: DIY

smoky + spiced pear ginger fizzes | diy spiced pear liqueur

Hello and happy 2016!!

It’s been a minute. I can safely say that I’ve started and backspaced this post well over five times now. I have had the biggest case of writer’s block and lack of motivation these past few weeks, both here and in other projects. Am I alone here?? Nothing seems to be flowing or resonating within me, and despite my strong desire for change and my sketched-out plans for the year, I can’t even manage to get out of bed without a straight, ten-hour stretch of deep sleep.

I can feel my sister rising up in fury down in Florida right now. She is a new mom, who is happy when she gets a solid, consecutive four hours of sleep. Granted, we live different lives and are in different phases in our lives, but right now, I’m so tired that I could easily sleep for 14 hours straight. I’ve done it. I did it last night. And although it sounds decadent, it’s quite depressing to wake up with only four hours of daylight left with which to work, especially when you were so pumped about the promise of this new year.

I’m seriously grateful that we are slowly inching toward sunnier days, but part of me questions why I fight so hard against the urge to slow down, rest, and recharge?

smoky + spiced pear ginger fizzes {how to make pear liqueur} | holly & flora smoky + spiced pear ginger fizzes {how to make pear liqueur} | holly & flora

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the mai tai: variation on a theme 01 | a peek inside emily hanโ€™s “wild drinks + cocktails”

This week, I am super stoked to highlight a book from one of my favorite cocktail creators, Emily Han. Emily just released her book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, which is filled with a bevy of recipes to add to cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, alike. The pages are brimming with beautiful photos and recipes for handcrafted syrups, shrubs, bitters, infusions, squashes, and switchels. I’d like to think that this book was written personally for me. If she lived here in Colorado, I just know we’d be fast friends, scouring the Front Range for cocktail components!

Emily’s book is my favorite addition to my kitchen counter all year. It won’t be collecting dust anytime soon. She gave me special permission to share one of my favorite recipes from her book, and since I’ve been on a Tiki cocktail kick recently, I felt that making her hazelnut orgeat, a nut-based syrup used in many a Tiki drink, would be fitting. Let’s meet Emily, learn how to make her hazelnut orgeat, craft a classic Mai Tai, and put a creative spin on this classic.

And I won’t judge you, if you decide to make one before noon on a Wednesday!

variation on a theme: mai tai | a peek inside emily han's "wild drinks + cocktails" variation on a theme: mai tai | a peek inside emily han's "wild drinks + cocktails"

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how to make shrubs {aka drinking vinegars} | 3 refreshing recipes

Shrub. What a funny, little word.

When I passionately mention my newly acquired skill of shrub-making to my friends, the first thing that comes to their minds is usually that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when the “Knights Who Say Ni” demand a shrubbery. Of course, the Knights desired a shrub of the green and leafy variety. If only I were there, when that demand was made. I would’ve had a much more exciting and delicious rendition of what they were asking for!

So, what does the word, shrub, mean, exactly? Michael Dietsch explains in rich detail the history of shrub-making, which dates way beyond even Colonial times, within the pages of his recent book, Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times. 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.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora

The first time I even heard about shrubs, aka “drinking vinegars”, was on a recent trip to Oregon, back in the fall of 2013. I was working the Pinot Noir harvest with EIEIO & Co Winery, and I, along with the other members of the internship team, met up for dinner at Pok Pok, an award-winning Thai restaurant in Portland. Jay, the winemaker at EIEIO, insisted that I try one of Pok Pok’s drinking vinegars. I was kind of in the mood for a beer, but I acquiesced and chose the tamarind drinking vinegar from a list of about ten different, and often rotating, options.

I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical, at first. Drinking vinegar? I didn’t even know if that sounded appetizing. I was completely proven wrong, when I had my first, refreshingly vibrant sip. I quickly ordered another flavor and then thought about the possibilities of adding a shrub to a cocktail. I was smitten immediately, but it wasn’t until this past month that I became insanely obsessed with the shrub-making process.

how to make shrubs | holly & floraI promise you that you’ll be pleasantly surprised the first time you make or taste a shrub. They really don’t require a lot of work, just a little time and patience. Once you’ve made the shrub, strained it into a clean Mason jar, and let it rest for a week, the shrub is ready to drink. Shrubs will keep up to about six months, but discard if the shrub begins to bubble or ferment, or develops a slimy texture.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & floraFor each of the recipes shown here, I incorporated the technique of making an oleo-saccharum during the shrub-making process. The phrase translates as “oily sugar” and is made by combining sugar with the zest of citrus and letting it integrate over the course of an hour or so. Adding this zesty sugar to a shrub recipe brightens the shrub and adds a depth of complexity to the mix. I especially noticed what the lemony sugar did to my raspberry-mint shrub – it added a punch of citrus and really balanced the flavors.

I learned this technique from the book, Shrubs, and it is super easy to follow.


how to make an oleo-saccharum


  1. Remove the zest of your citrus fruits with a vegetable peeler. You may use the skins of oranges, lemons, or grapefruits. Michael Diestch advises avoiding limes, since their skins are much more bitter.
  2. Be sure to avoid removing the tough, white piths of the citrus, when you’re peeling the zest away. The photo below shows the results you are looking for.
  3. In a bowl, combine the strips of zest with whatever measurement of sugar your recipe calls for. Using either a cocktail muddler or a sturdy, wooden spoon, really put some elbow grease into pressing the zest into the sugar.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour.
  5. Remove the peels, once the time has passed. Your oleo-saccharum or “oily sugar” is ready to use!

how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora


blood orange shrub


  • 5 or 6 medium blood oranges, peeled and juiced {yield is about 1 1/2 cups juice}
  • 1/2 cup turbinado or raw sugar
  • 3/4 cup Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  1. Following the oleo-saccharum method above, combine the peeled skins of the oranges {the colored part of the orange peels} with the sugar, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for at least one hour.
  2. Juice the blood oranges.
  3. Once the oleo-saccharum is ready, remove the pieces of orange zest and add the blood orange juice and the Champagne vinegar to the sugar mixture.
  4. Stir well to dissolve any sugar particles.
  5. Transfer the shrub mixture into a clean jar, seal it, and shake it to further blend the ingredients. Store the shrub mixture in the refrigerator. Allow 2 to 3 days for the flavors to meld, before enjoying.
  • A special thanks to Michael Dietsch for letting me post his recipe for an orange shrub! I agree with him that the orange flavor matches perfectly with the raw sugar and Champagne vinegar. The next two recipes are my own creation, but were influenced by the tips and steps within his book.
  • Tip: When I tried removing the orange peels from the sugar, I found that a lot of the sugar was sticking to the peels. I didn’t want to lose all that sugar, so I simply poured the juice and the vinegar into the bowl of zest and sugar. I stirred the mixture well and then poured it through a fine-mesh strainer. I then tossed the zest.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora


strawberry + peppercorn shrub


  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 lemons, peeled
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 30 black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  1. Using the oleo-saccharum technique, muddle the lemon peels with the sugar in a bowl. Cover the sugar mixture with plastic wrap and set aside for at least an hour.
  2. Once the hour has passed, remove the peels from the sugar and add the hulled and quartered strawberries, along with the coarsely crushed peppercorns, to the bowl. Stir to incorporate.
  3. Cover the strawberry mixture with plastic wrap, transfer to the refrigerator, and store for two hours.
  4. Remove the mixture from the fridge and muddle the mixture even further, getting out as much juice as possible from the berries.
  5. Add the vinegar to the strawberry mixture. Cover the bowl again, transfer the mixture back into the fridge, and store for two days.
  6. Remove the mixture from the fridge, muddle the berries again and strain through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer into a clean Mason jar.
  7. Store the shrub mixture in the fridge for a week to further integrate the flavors, before enjoying. Shake before using.

This recipe sounds a little labor-intensive, but follow the directions, and you won’t be disappointed with the results. This shrub has a sweet-tart strawberry flavor with a subtle, peppery finish.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora how to make shrubs | holly & flora


raspberry + mint shrub


  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 2 lemons, peeled
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  1. Prepare your oleo-saccharum by peeling the skins of the lemons with a vegetable peeler. In a bowl, muddle the peels with the sugar, cover with plastic wrap, and wait for at least an hour.
  2. Add the raspberries and mint to the sugar mixture and muddle the raspberries, expressing some of their juice. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer into the fridge. Let it sit for one day.
  3. Remove the raspberry mix from the fridge, muddle the fruit even more, and then add the vinegar to the mix. Stir to integrate and dissolve the sugar.
  4. Strain the mixture through a chinois or a fine-mesh strainer into a clean Mason jar.
  5. Store the shrub mixture in the refrigerator. Allow 1 week for the flavors to meld, before enjoying. Shake before using.

how to make shrubs | holly & flora

There you have it! Have you been smitten with the shrub-making bug like I have? If so, what tips do you have to offer? Any recipes you absolutely love? Clue me in! I can’t wait for gardening season to fully kick in. I have visions of celery shrubs, beet shrubs, and even herbal shrubs.

Oh! You probably want some ideas for how to actually incorporate those tasty shrubs of yours. I enjoy adding a shrub to a glass of ice and sparkling water, like the ones shown in the photos here, but they make amazing additions to cocktails. I like tossing in a small portion of shrub, say, an ounce, along with some gin and soda. Super simple. I did find a pretty good “cocktail generator equation”, via Bill Norris, contributor at Badass Digest:


basic shrub cocktail equation


  • ย 1 ยฝ to 2 parts base spirit {ex: gin}
  • 1 part complementary flavored liqueur {ex: citrus liqueur}
  • 1/2 part shrub
  • 2 dashes bitters {ex: orange or chamomile bitters}

Just combine those ingredients, along with ice, in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain either served up or over ice, along with a dash of soda. Garnish with an herb sprig, slice of fruit, or citrus wheel. Enjoy!

Cheers to shrubs, discovering new preservation techniques, and to the laughter and silliness that the entire Monty Python movement brought us. Now, go and cut down the tallest tree in the forest with a herring! ๐Ÿ˜‰

XO,

Jayme

my finished DIY Christmas pine wreath

pumpkin spice waffles, good bubbles + how to make a holiday wreath

Well, we finally got a Christmas tree a little over a week ago. If we are lucky, maybe we’ll even decorate it before the 25th! Not a likely story. So far, the potted evergreen bears only a loosely hung string of LED lights on its small branches. But it is so adorable just as it is!

This is the first year that Steve and I purchased a living Christmas tree. We even have a spot in the front yard dedicated to its earth-bound arrival in late spring. I scoured the rows of now-small evergreen trees at City Floral and found the perfect one. It’s a little crooked, but its trunk is strong and solid. On the way to check out, I spied some loose tree trimmings in a box and was instantly inspired to create a handmade wreath.

Luckily, one of my favorite garden bloggers, Erin of Blackberry Burrow, had recently posted a beautiful evergreen wreath tutorial, so I took down a few of her tips and made an adorably wild wreath happen.

Armed with an obscenely large cup of coffee, alongside my new Christmas tree buckled in the passenger seat of my car, I set out to find a sturdy wreath frame and some floral wire. And some bubbles for later. Because I love bubbles.

That was last weekend. My boyfriend and I were gifted a day off together, which never happens in the month of December, when life is blowing by at full-speed at the restaurant. Late nights, late mornings, baggy eyes {thank God for concealer!}, and copious cups of coffee are all commonplace this time of year. But those wouldn’t bog us down that day. Not one bit.

Steve and I have an annual tradition of compiling a holiday playlist and even burn it out, old-school-style, on a CD. Kind of a “best-of” compilation of music that catches our ears throughout the year. While Steve was mixing a first-pass at the computer, I set out to make my first-ever evergreen wreath. But first, more coffee and some pumpkin spice waffles. I’ll get to those in a moment.


how to make your own evergreen wreath


  • floral wire
  • evergreen boughs, branches, or pieces
  • a wire wreath frame {found at craft stores or a floral shop}
  • yard scissors or “pruners”
  • wire cutters
  1. Forage for stems and boughs from evergreen trees or grab some from your local florist. Erin suggested gathering branches after a winter storm, but since we had been experiencing 75-degree weather, that wasn’t an option for me. I found some at City Floral here in Denver. I even saw that Whole Foods sold evergreen pieces for only $5 a “bouquet” – not a bad price.
  2. Bunch together a few branches of evergreen and tie together with a few wraps of floral wire. Depending upon the thickness, I used either three or four branches. You may also trim the branches along the way, if you want a more uniformly sized wreath. You can always trim it later, though.
  3. Set out your wreath base on your working area. I used this 18″ wire wreath base from Michael’s.
  4. Using your wire cutters, clip a long piece of floral wire. Take your first “bouquet” that you tied together and tie it securely to the wreath frame. In the third photo below, you can see the back of the frame and notice how I secured the groupings of evergreen pieces.
  5. Stagger the next evergreen bouquet a few inches away from the first one, sort of layering each time. Continue in this fashion, until you reach the place, where you began. It’s really that easy. Now you can decorate it or leave it in its unruly, woodsy glory!

So, yeah, I was super stoked with my results! I actually ran out of evergreen pieces during the wreath-making process, so Steve kindly trimmed some of our overgrown bushes in our yard and came to the rescue. The little blueish pieces and the long, wispy pieces are from his handiwork!

We took a break to make some pumpkin spice waffles from Cookie + Kate. I made only a few adaptations from her original recipe. You can find her detailed post here. I am constantly inspired with her vegetarian cooking and creative ways to make healthy treats taste delicious.

I also had a bottle of Prosecco to taste and review, so I figured I’d taste it in the morning and make mimosas with the leftovers! And just in case you’re someone who needs a little brush-up on how to make the perfect mimosa, I’ve got that covered, as well. This post I wrote at the Kitchn a few months back will definitely hone your mimosa-making skills.


pumpkin spice waffles {gluten-free}


  • 2 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ยฝ teaspoon ginger
  • ยผ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ยผ teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 packed pumpkin purรฉe
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  1. In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together until combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together. Add the remaining wet ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended.
  3. Now add the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir just until combined. There will be some small clumps, and that’s okay. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes. Now is the time to preheat your waffler.
  4. Once the time’s up, give your waffle mix one more toss with a spoon. Waffler sizes vary, but I found success scooping out a hefty 1/2 cup onto the surface of my waffle iron. This is the one that I use, but I am dying for a Belgian waffler {swoon!}.
  5. I took Kate’s advice and preheated my oven to 200 degrees, so that I could make the entire batch of waffles and place them in the heated oven, until I was ready to serve them. This was perfect advice!

  • Make your own oat flour. If you don’t have oat flour on hand, simply toss 2 1/4 cups of whole oats into a blender, until the oats turn into a fine flour.
  • Freeze your own pumpkin purรฉe over the summer. Since I grow so many pumpkins and squashes, I always have pumpkin purรฉe on hand. I roast up a batch of two or three, purรฉe the roasted pumpkin, scoop out 2-cup portions, and freeze them in plastic bags. There’s no need to purchase any from a can!
  • Make these waffles ahead and freeze them. I placed them in freezer bags and removed as much air out of the bag as possible. I have enjoyed them multiple times over the past week!
  • Get creative. I infused my maple syrup with fresh thyme and added toasted pecans. I have definitely done this before, and here is the proof.


Nino Franco “Rustico” Prosecco, Valdobbiadene Superiore, Italy, MV


  • On the eyes โ€“ bright, pale straw.
  • On the nose โ€“ floral overtones, supported by golden delicious apple, green melon, white peach, and orange pith.
  • On the palate โ€“ This is a leaner style Prosecco and is great if you don’t gravitate toward bread-like, biscuit-y sparkling wines. It is moderate in acidity, has a chalk-like finish, and definitely showcases all of the aromas listed above. Delicious on its own and complemented with a little grapefruit juice!
  • On the table โ€“ Excellent with oysters or shellfish.
  • On the shelf โ€“ about $16.
  • On the ears โ€“ paired with SOHN‘s “Artifice” from the album, Tremors. I am freaking in love with his sound and am bummed that I missed him, when he passed through Denver earlier in November. The entire album is gorgeously written, and his haunting vocals deliver the words poetically. A couple of his tracks definitely made it to our Best-Of playlist. I’ll post a link soon, and if you would like a hard copy {ie: a compact disc}, I can make that happen, too. I’m all about music swaps!

Have an inspired, authentic, and profoundly creative rest of your week!

XO,

Jayme

garden-inspired sugar scrubs {DIY}

Well, this week has definitely been a lesson in learning to not take myself so seriously, to stop the jealousy and comparison cycle, to organize effectively, and to simply slow down. Pretty heavy, huh? My Friday morning began just as I had wanted – with a great workout, a fulfilling breakfast, and a published blog post. Ahhh. Somehow, however, I lost track of time and realized that I was running late for work. I threw an outfit together, assembled a “lunch” of granola and yogurt, and frantically dried my hair.

Clayton, my ride and another one of the sommeliers at work, sent me a text that he was outside, waiting outside in his car. I needed an extra arm that morning for my stack of necessary work items. I precariously held my yogurt container, black dress jacket, makeup bag, earrings, and handbag, and I slumped down in the front seat. It was a hot one, too. Sweat had already started dripping down my face, as I settled in for the five-minute ride to work. I wiped my brow, took a deep breath, and decidedly declared that the rest of my day take a turn for the better.

My internal dialog kind of went like this: “Sigh. Off to work. But things are good. I think I’ll make it today. I’ve got this. Good grief, it’s hot. Are the cats fed? I need more concealer. I haven’t called my dad in a few weeks. Did I forget to turn the stove off? I like this song. Wait. What is that liquid oozing down my thighs?!!” I flinched and saw that my yogurt container wasn’t sealed properly, so white, sour-smelling liquid was dripping down the front of my jacket and into my lap. Eff. Em. Ell. Clayton asked if I wanted to turn around and grab another suit, but I just {crazily?} laughed and said I’d deal. We were late, anyway. After that incident, I mean, what else could go wrong?

So far this week, I’d already miscalculated a bill and overdrawn my bank account, overlooked an important writing deadline, spilled coconut oil inside my purse {who does that?}, flipped out on my boss, and sassed the neighbors at midnight for stealing “my” parking spot. I am in need of a few days off, and thankfully I have a break until Wednesday. It is like I’ve been directly channeling the antics and mania of Mr. Furious from Mystery Men, and I am beyond ready for a makeover.

I ended up surviving Friday, even though the outdoor summer concert at work was rained out, I took a bad fall in the kitchen, and I didn’t get to sleep until 5:30 Saturday morning. One of these days, I’ll have to post an hour-by-hour account of what it is like planning an event for well over a thousand people, praying for the rain to dodge us, over-booking the dining room {despite the weather concerns}, and dealing with high-profile guests, who expect a free drink because of the out-of-my-control rain issues. All of this, while I am wearing yogurt-laden pants and sporting frizzy, wet curls and mismatched socks. With a quick, slight tilt of my head, a bright smile/smirk, and a flit of my lashes. It is a wonder I don’t drink more than I do.

DSC_0047

Steve and I recently took a week-long visit to lake Burton, in north Georgia, for a family reunion. The humidity worked wonders for my skin. While I can’t take the nourishing moisture back home to Denver, I can make a good substitute. Enter sugar scrubs. I am not talking about the $20-a-jar possibilities at the store. I am all about the simple ingredient, good-for-you versions that you craft on your own, for multiple dollars less. Annnnnnd because cute little mason jars!


energizing citrus + vanilla sugar scrub


Fragrant lavender growing along our driveway. The bees are loving it, and I am trying to capture its aroma in every possible manner!


relaxing lavender sugar scrub


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups almond oil
  • 1/8 cup lavender buds, dried or fresh
  • lavender essential oil

I am sending out a super thanks to my amazing aunt, who basically lectured me and led me through a guided meditation over the phone, well over an hour this afternoon. I am feeling a little more centered. I am trying to let go of any jealousy or comparison to other writers, somms, artists, or photographers; those feelings and actions only rob me of my creative energy and positivity. They are destructive and depleting. I don’t like who I become, when I lose my sense of gratitude and focus. I become stagnant with my creativity and take a nosedive into depression and lethargy. It is a destructive cycle, and I am on my own course.

I can at least now laugh at the yogurt incident. I know I need to take more time to plan ahead, schedule out my day, and not take myself too seriously. Until I become more proficient with these skills, I will indulge in sugar scrubs and long baths and good rosรฉ. Those are good lessons to adopt, as well, right? I hope that you have a restful and rejuvenating weekend and that you find the humor in the rough and edgy spots. And let me know if you’ve had one of those yogurt-in-your-lap moments lately. How did or didn’t you effectively deal?

Cheers!