DIY Mixology: Simple Syrup

The joy of going out for a great drink: the setting, the occasion, camaraderie, and paying to have someone else supply all the ingredients for an excellent cocktail. Sometimes, that’s just not in the cards. A bad workday, phone calls, family, or you’re simply suffering from stimulation overload. You want to be in the quiet and serenity of home. And still enjoy a drink.

Enter the simple syrup. Why? Because it can make a good drink better. Many times, more affordable. How you say? Lemme share:

Equal parts water and sugar. That’s it. The magic begins when you add flavors to elevate your cocktail. For purposes of the blog, I’ll use 1 cup measurements.

In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of sugar*. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes. Pour into container of your choice and refrigerate.

Infusing flavors

Citrus peel (not whole fruit)
Lemongrass (crush first to release flavor)
Mint
Basil
Ginger
Star anise

Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat, add ingredients to the hot mixture and let steep 30 minutes. Strain before placing into container. Any one of these are great on its own; play around to create your own taste sensation!

A splash or two to your liquor and topped with club soda or seltzer is lovely. Plus, no tipping.

Cheers, y’all.

*Feel free to use whatever kind of sugar you’d like, but the darker the sugar, the shorter the shelf life will be. I cannot advise sugar substitutes, as all of them behave differently when heated.

20140731-152713-55633128.jpg

Tipple Tuesday: The Spritz

New column, y’all!

I am in love with booze. My love ebbs, waxes and wanes like any love affair. I’m certainly an enthusiast, but no expert on cocktails except logging a myriad of hours sitting on a bar stool, talking and watching fantastic bartenders work their craft. My goal is to highlight adult beverages that are (usually) easy to replicate at home and if entertaining, look way more sophisticated than the ordinary.

Enter the aperitif, or more apt, the aperitivo. The latter term is Italian, meaning a pre-dinner drink ritual and the actual cocktail. It’s just enough to whet your appetite without making you too drunk before eating. Summertime means dining al fresco, light and easy. The temps in New Orleans are brutal this week, so a Manhattan or a Sazarac are the furthest thing from my lips.

I really this recipe, courtesy of The Kitchn. It’s easy to modify to suit your taste:

 

Sparkling wine such as Prosecco or Cava
1 shot Aperol
1 glug club soda
1 slice orange

Fill a tumbler or large wine glass with ice. Fill the glass 2/3 full with sparkling wine. Add the shot of Aperol. Top with club soda, stir well, then add the orange slice.

Enjoy!

 

Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz

Sunday? Sun Day! The Healing Edition

I give a lot of recommendations for preventative sun care, but I’ve never talked about post-sunburn care. Since the heat index is triple-digits and I attempted to exercise and felt the sunscreen streaming down my face today, here are a few DIY options to cool down your skin and let the healing begin:

1: Drink cold water. It may seem like a given, but you’re still a little dehydrated and cooling down your internal temperature will help your focus. If you like, coconut water is fine. In fact, if you cannot focus, you could have possible sun stroke and may need medical attention. In either case, try to avoid alcohol for the rest of the day, as it accelerates dehydration.

2: Plain yogurt. I prefer the thicker consistency of Greek yogurt, but to keep potential infections at bay, please leave the flavored varieties on the shelf for this purpose. It’s so easy – just apply a thin layer to the affected areas. Let sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse with cool water. Reapply if needed.

3: Aloe Vera. The higher the concentration, the better. Apply a thin layer to affected areas. No rinsing is needed. Don’t forget to read your labels; if it contains alcohol, it’ll do more harm than good. There are products designed for sunburn, but why expose yourself to any unexpected skin reactions?

4: Green Tea: A couple of ways to use the healing magic of polyphenols:

A) Brew 5-6 bags of green tea in 6 ounces of water for 10 minutes. Fill a 16-20 ounce container with ice and over brewed mixture over ice. Pour into a clean spray bottle and spritz over sunburned skin. Combined with yogurt, it’s a great 1-2 punch, especially if your scalp is burned.

B ) Matcha powder. The powdered green tea is so intense that it’s been used to treat severe burns. The regenerative powers are phenomenal. Place a few tablespoons of matcha in a small bowl. Add enough cold water to make a paste, then apply. Wait 30 minutes, then rinse.

Cool/cold water, ice, thick yogurt, aloe vera and green tea. Staples of any member of #TeamNatural, no?

I hope no one gets overdone in the sun! If you do, I hope these tips will help you feel better quickly!

#NOLACrawl Style Suite

Another swanky event during EssenceFest was the #NOLACrawl Style Suite, hosted by a quartet of beauty bloggers: Sekou of Simply Rides, Jessica of Glamazons Blog, Christina of Love Brown Sugar and Lexi of Lexi With The Curls:

20140724-202530-73530194.jpg

Guests were treated to a light lunch, cocktails, complimentary manis, raffles for additional prizes and photo booths to capture the fun.  I enjoyed meeting other members of #TeamNatural, and chatting with other beauty bloggers.  Marvelling at how great my quick-draw mani looked?! Confession: I gave up manicures years ago. It was destroying my natural nail bed. This may make me change my mind, at least a few times a year :-)

20140724-202529-73529760.jpg

The suite’s sponsors were Beautiful Textures and Ford Motor Company. Ford encouraged all guests to test drive their latest models at the Convention Center and register to win a 2015 Mustang!  All attendees received a deluxe gift bag that included Beautiful Textures’ Texture Manageability System, designed to temporarily straighten natural hair for up to three months.

 

 

Design Essentials’ Big Easy Style Lounge

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Design Essentials‘ invitation-only event during Essence Fest this year. Tucked away in a private area of the W New Orleans, guests had the opportunity to try and take home products from their line. I am always searching for natural product lines to try and review (coming later!) and they do not disappoint! A big shout-out to Yodi of Yodi International (pictured far right) for her patience and fun, easy-going manner in sharing professional tips to achieve curly and straight style in New Orleans’ humidity!

Ledisi and the Design Essentials® Style Team. From L to R Sheena of Loc Oasis; Ledisi; Anika Robertson, Design Essentials® Marketing Coordinator; and Yodi of Yodi International.

Ledisi and the Design Essentials® Style Team. From L to R Sheena of Loc Oasis; Ledisi; Anika Robertson, Design Essentials® Marketing Coordinator; and Yodi of Yodi International.

*above photo credit: ExclusiveAccess.net Courtesy of Design Essentials®. 

I’ve seen Ledisi perform when I lived in San Francisco and she was always great! I missed the chance to meet her in such an intimate setting, though I did see another artist drop by:

2014-07-04 15.15.25

Attendees also got the chance to receive beauty services and deluxe samples from brow expert Joi Mebane of The Look By Joiluxury body butters from Jones & Rose and anti-aging pampering pillowcases from Morning Glamour. These woman-owned businesses really delivered with service and style! I must confess…I’m a little partial to the mini-massage I received…can’t imagine why…

2014-07-04 14.41.16

Can’t wait to review all these goodies!

EssesnceFest: Day 3

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Many attend on Sunday because of the stellar Gospel lineup of singers and preachers. I was there – early – to get the viewpoint of what an average attendee goes through in the Convention Center. Personally, I’ve tried to get into the My Black Is Beautiful exhibit for years and it’s either too crowded or all the appointment slots are taken. This year, I was getting in, Hell or high water. I’ll talk about that experience later…

Lines. That was my day – lines. All the major sponsors: Ford, Walmart, Verizon, State Farm, Cola-Cola, etc. had lines upon lines to get whatever freebie they had. The personalized Coke bottle was so popular the wait was easily two hours. Getting Ford swag went quickly; the line to test-drive was as painful as the local DMV. Walmart’s money booth was slow and clumsily run, while hawking their prepaid cards so the purchaser can jump the line or get closer access to free (Walmart-hosted) speakers and artists. I didn’t have the stamina for all of these wait times. The concrete floor is brutal for standing!

The exhibit for the James Brown biopic “Get On Up” was short, swift and fun, like most of the late great artist’s songs. The #YesWeCode hackathon was ending, and Disney fans of all ages were queueing up for blinged-out mouse ears and pics.

I spent the day in here and was happy to head home with a bag of goodies. They were hard-earned, lemme tell you.

Essence Fest 2014: Day 2

My day really consisted of one event – the #NOLACrawl Style Suite, sponsored by Ford. There’s a long list of hosts and additional sponsors which will be detailed in a separate post.

I knew the Convention Center would be a madhouse and every featured speaker I wanted to see were scheduled at the same time as the outside events I attended. Since I’d never attended any events on Sunday, it was a fine time to call it quits early and come back the next day.