Making your own perfume from scratch might sound complicated, but it’s actually a lot simpler than you think. Most perfumes are nothing more than a mixture of fragrant oils, water and alcohol. Simply mix it all together and spritz! So break out that pretty spray bottle you’ve been saving and let’s bottle some blooms.Read More
This is going to be the most difficult Christmas for my family. On Saturday, I lost my step-father. His name was Michael Allen (Mike). He had been on dialysis for the past three years, but showed a rapid decline in health over the past two months. He had to retire from his day job and soon couldn't drive any more. He began to fall a lot and it became harder and harder to pick him up when he fell. It's still hard to talk about him in past tense.
On Saturday, after my mother picked him up from dialysis, he had what appeared to be a heart attack then silently slipped away. My mum tried to resuscitate him but with one final cough he was gone. We had learned in November that he only had about three months to live but after his last round of dialysis on Thursday, I knew he wouldn't make it to the New Year.
No matter how prepared we were, it still hurt. My mum said she was still shocked and some days it still doesn't feel real, but each passing day does make it easier. We've pretty much cancelled Christmas in our home, but I had to make a few gifts to show my heartfelt thanks to friends who have really supported me throughout the year. The first gift up is an infused whiskey for one of my best friend's Krista. I'd like to think Mike would've enjoyed this as well.
I used a half pint of Jack Daniels because she loves Jack Daniels. I looked up a few options for infusions with whiskey and found coffee and vanilla and vanilla and cherries. I figured, why not just combine both?
How to Infuse Booze
The only even slightly tricky part of infusing alcohol is narrowing down the flavors and deciding the amounts. You can infuse with almost anything: herbs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, spices, candy…you get the idea.
- Canning or mason jars, or large glass bottles with lids (make sure you can fit your ingredients in the mouth of the bottle)
- Alcohol of choice
- Infusion ingredients
- Packaging/ribbon and labels if you’re gifting
Put your infusion ingredients in the alcohol, cover tightly and store in a cool, dark place (a pantry is great). If you’re using fresh fruits, veggies or herbs, be sure to thoroughly wash and dry those ingredients first—use organic if possible.
Remove the ingredients after they’ve infused to your liking (see tips below), then strain the booze into your desired jars or just keep in your infusion vessel to use at home. If you’re gifting these, include a label, some pretty ribbon or packaging, and perhaps a cocktail recipe. It’s really that simple!
- To make sure you are able to infuse long enough, it’s best to start early—about 3 weeks before you want to gift or use the booze. If you get the flavor you want before that time, simply fish out/strain out the infusion ingredients, and store the booze until you’re ready to use or gift it.
- The ratio of infusion ingredients to alcohol varies. If I’m free-styling with my own combo, I look up a similar recipe, and use that as a basic guideline. You can always adjust.
- If you accidentally infuse too long, you can dilute with plain, unflavored booze as a last resort
- The longer everything sits in the alcohol, the stronger the flavor. It’s a good idea to taste your mixture every 5 days or so to see where it’s at.
- Generally, the more porous and intensely flavored the ingredients (coffee beans, fresh herbs), the quicker they will add flavor. This isn’t an exact science, which is why it’s good to taste as you go! If your lemon-basil vodka is getting too herb-y, remove the basil halfway through and let the lemon peel sit alone for longer.
- Vodka, brandy and whiskey are my favorites to work with. The booze is less nuanced, so complementary flavor profiles are easier to come up with.
- Rum or tequila will work too, although they lend themselves mainly to warm spices like cinnamon or clove, or tropical fruits like mango and lime.
- Gin is a little trickier since the juniper berry flavor is already very pronounced. I’ve seen recipes for infused gin using cucumber, citrus, lavender and earl grey tea, though.
- Middle-shelf alcohol is your best bet. No need to buy the most expensive, but don’t go bargain basement either! No amount of flavoring can salvage cheap booze :)
- If working with citrus, use only the peel (where the oils of the fruit are contained), and make sure to scrape off the bitter pith before using
- If you have trouble picking a flavor, think about how you would use the alcohol. Is it meant for sipping or to use in mixed drinks? For instance, if your infused vodka will be used in Bloody Mary's, think about what will work with that flavor profile.
Vanilla Cherry & Coffee Infused Whiskey
- 2 vanilla beans (split down the middle or 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract) + 1/8 cup coffee beans, slightly crushed with a mortar and pestle—or a plastic bag and wooden spoon
- 4-5 dried or fresh cherries (no need to pit)
If you try this or any infused alcohol recipe this holiday season, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @life_by_olivia. Stay safe and do not drink and drive!
This is the first Christmas in two years that I'll be home. I spent that past two years with my now ex-boyfriend in Miami (not so secretly wishing we could be somewhere colder). I had hopes of travelling somewhere snowy this year but when those plans didn't work out, I decided to find another way to treat myself this year. At first I thought I wanted a tablet for blogging on the go but when I looked at the cost, given the tech specs I would want, it just wasn't a worthy investment, because I really wouldn't use it that often. I already bought myself the Google home, which really works better in pairs and with connected devices, so that area was covered. And after lowering my credit card bill, I was only reasonably left with about $200 if I wanted to spend wisely.
While putting together the Gift Guides, I was browsing the home & kitchen section of Amazon when it stood out to me and I knew instantly what I had to get myself for Christmas: The Ninja Coffee Bar System. Everyone knows how much I love coffee. So much so I bought about 7lbs of it when I went to Europe this summer. I had seen the commercials and always wanted it so I figured after the ups and downs 2017 has brought me, I deserved this doggonit! I spent $220 BSD on the initial purchase on Saturday 2nd December and picked it up from Xpress-it this past Wednesday, but of course it wasn't that easy. Like the post says, this gift costs me FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS!
The price tag to bring it in to The Bahamas after customs, VAT and freight was $185.03, bringing the grand total of this ONE ITEM to $405! I couldn't believe it. I expected the freight price but completely forgot about the customs tax. I was heart broken, but I was also already $220 in the hole, so I had to pay the price.
So was it worth it?
I told an old friend last night that I spent $400 on a coffee maker and she was like, "You mean a person right? Like someone who will actually come to your house and make the coffee for you?" I joked that if my mum wanted tea, she'd better make it with this machine instead of the kettle and we would make soup in this if we had to, to make me feel better about the price tag. Because it's still new, I haven't had time to really play around with it yet, but I did brew iced coffee with it this morning. I made enough for my travel mug pictured above and it was great! There's definitely a different flavour with this machine as it really tastes like something I would've bought in a coffeehouse. I also used my frother for the first time today and had a lot of fun with it. Yesterday I used the Cafe Forte just to see what it would be like (it's really strong).
So far I love using it! I can't wait to tackle all of the recipes in the recipe book that came with it! The best part of the machine is how easy it is to use. I skimmed the manual, but it really is a straight forward process. I love setting it to automatically brew in the morning and I love that I can brew directly into my mug. I even got a new mug from one of my alumni associations that I can't wait to start using. It's a gorgeous red, just in time for the holidays! I can't wait to start making frappes and sharing the recipes with you guys.
How are you treating yourself this Christmas season? Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Do you think I spent too much on just a coffee maker? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Merry Christmas!
Welcome back! Did you all have an amazing Christmas?
Christmas in Miami is definitely not the same as Christmas back home in The Bahamas. But every year I spend with my boyfriend, is a different experience. If I were home, I would’ve spent Christmas in church, so to spend it doing anything else just feels weird. I didn’t get to go to church this Christmas season at all. To be honest, I spent most of the season sitting around the apartment either watching various crime dramas or the Mythbusters marathon. When I wasn’t home, I was exploring wherever Uber could take me.
I surprised my boyfriend by coming in a day earlier than I had promised, and whisked him off to watch Star Wars on opening day. We even went shopping in Lush afterwards on a whim. It's been five years since I shopped there so I've missed that store. I treated myself to a new camera this Christmas (it’s been four years since I upgraded) and my boyfriend got me the perfect zoom lens for it! I was also able to get my closest friends and family presents that they loved, so that was a great feeling. I spent Christmas and New Year’s Day with my boyfriend’s family. On Christmas Eve we went to a block party together and we spent New Year’s Eve dancing to J-Lo (don’t tell him I told you that).
My Christmas holiday was full of good cheer, traditional fixings and family visits. After church, my husband and I, house hopped to family and close friends, visiting the entire spectrum of relatives from grandparents to siblings and god-kids. The famous pound cake from Freeport was super moist and flavourful as always and our end of day count of fruit cake slices was nothing short of 6! We had just about every cake imaginable, with no shortage of walnuts in sight. The traditional meal of ham, turkey and vegetables also had an English flair with extras such as balsamic glazed Brussel sprouts, oven baked potatoes and English sausage.
After a competitive game of Dominos, we teamed up to play Cranium and emerged as the winners of the night after many Charades, Sketching and Brain teaser inspired rounds (Go team Sweeting!). I must say, I truly loved how I felt the joy of Christmas through sharing time with my loved ones. It was one of my best Christmases.
How was your Christmas break? Did you do anything or go anywhere exciting? Share with us your Christmas moments in the comment section below.
With only 12 days until Christmas we thought we’d share a holiday drink we found on Moncheri Bridals that is not only festive but looks gorgeous to boot! Wouldn’t these look divine served up at your Christmas party? We used a Shiraz Rose for ours so there wasn't much of an ombre effect, but if you really want that ombre look, use any white wine; don't feel limited to an expensive champagne. Recipe below.
- 1 cup fresh blackberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 bottle champagne
- In a small saucepan, combine blackberries, sugar and water. Bring to a boil on high heat and then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 12 ~ 15 minutes. The blackberries will become soft and bright in colour and a pinkish purple syrup will form. Take off the heat and drain the blackberries, keeping the syrup in a separate bowl. Set both aside and allow to cool.
- Once blackberries and simple syrup are cooled, spoon about 4 tablespoons of syrup into the bottom of each champagne flute.
- Top with champagne.
- Garnish with fresh blackberries or the cooked blackberries and a spring of rosemary ~ enjoy!
Which holiday event are you going to serve this at? Or maybe you'll just make some for yourself to sip on this Christmas. Share your holiday plans with us in the comment section below!
Rich chocolate chip layers, light, whipped cream filling loaded with crushed chocolate chip cookies…chocolate frosting, and a sweet vanilla glaze to finish things off.
Perfect, yes? How could Santa possibly resist?Read More
Who's ready for winter? I'm very inspired by this cozy, curl up and sweet colour palette. This year I am inspired to intertwine holiday classics in what I wear along with what I eat. Here's to wishing every month were December!Read More
The Life By Olivia team shares their Christmas Wishlist for the upcoming holidays. Is there anything on our list that you now want to add to yours? Or maybe there's something you're dying to get that should be on our list!The Life By Olivia team shares their Christmas Wishlist for the upcoming holidays. Is there anything on our list that you now want to add to yours? Or maybe there's something you're dying to get that should be on our list!Read More