Monthly Archives: February 2017

Celebrate - Drink

French (3) Quarters, Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail

February 22, 2017

French 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail

Cocktails and Mardi Gras naturally go hand-in-hand, but can we take it really over the top with a punny party trick drink? Oh yes. We can.

The French (3) Quarters is a twist on the classic French 75, making use of a vibrant purple, blackberry lavender syrup that turns a party pink when mixed! Pair it on your bar cart with green champagne bottles & gold accents and you’ve got yourself a true Mardi Gras set up.

French 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail

So there are two ways to make the focal ingredient, the blackberry lavender syrup. Method 2 just has an extra step for a slightly different taste and possibly more convenient if you don’t have culinary lavender but do have lavender tea. Method 1 tastes more like infused sugar and Method 2 is more delicate like really good lavender ice cream. I would recommend trying both. Let me know your favorite!

Blackberry Lavender Syrup Method 1
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup gently crushed blackberries
1-2 tsps culinary lavender

1| Combine water, sugar, blackberries, and lavender in saucepan.

2| Bring to simmer over medium-high heat and stir until sugar dissolves.

3| Strain the syrup through a double mesh strainer.

4| Transfer to an airtight glass container and let completely cool before using.

Blackberry Lavender Syrup Method 2
1-2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup gently crushed blackberries
1 lavender tea satchel

1 | Brew lavender tea according to directions or simmer 1 T of culinary lavender for 10 minutes.

2| Transfer 1 cup of tea to saucepan and add sugar & blackberries. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves.

3| Strain and transfer to a glass container. Let completely cool before using.

French 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail

The French (3) Quarters
1/2 oz simple syrup
1-1.5 oz gin
spritz of lemon juice
2 oz Champagne or sparkling wine

1| Shake simple syrup, gin, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.

2| Strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with Champagne. Watch the purple turn bright pink!

3| Garnish with blackberry & lemon twist.

French 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail

French (3) Quarters Tips:
Make the syrup ahead of time! Infused simple syrups can keep ~1 month in the fridge.

Use a London Dry Gin– by definition they are all natural and don’t have any extra flavoring or sugars that could clash with the syrup.

French 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras CocktailFrench 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail French 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail

If you made it all the way to the end, you’ve earned a confession- this drink was supposed to be purple. *shameface* But with more digging I’ve noticed:
a) purple cocktail syrup recipes usually just show the syrup, not mixed into anything!
b) purple cocktails use of Blue Curacao
c) blueberries might make it more purple, but the colors are wildly all over the place and I couldn’t tell if they were natural, Photoshop, or good old-fashioned food dye.

French 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail

C’est la vie. Now I actually love the surprise of the dark purple turning pink and it tastes great anyways, so it all works out 😉

French 75 Blackberry Lavender Mardi Gras Cocktail

If you’re looking for another easy yet impressive crowd pleaser, check out the Cara Cara Citrus Syrup and Cara Cara Mint Smash Cocktail from last year. That one is easily my go-to drink at home on a warm day.

How are you celebrating Mardi Gras this year?

Create - Gift

Printable Secret Compliment Cards for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2017

Secret Compliment Cards for Valentine's Day

Calling all last minute gifters, this one’s for you! With one of the shortest posts on ctrl + curate, print out a few ‘secret’ compliment cards on cardstock and hide them for your friends or Valentine to find throughout the day.

Secret Compliment Cards for Valentine's Day

These cards are the perfect way to make someone smile without ever having to say a word. But if a sentence isn’t enough, write your own compliments on the back. Nothing wrong with spreading even more love, especially on Valentine’s Day.

Secret Compliment Cards for Valentine's Day

Going through compliment cards on Pinterest was the best part of this project. You find all sorts of gems like ‘you elegant eggplant’ and ‘you smile is as contagious as the flu, but less vomiting’.

Secret Compliment Cards for Valentine's Day

What’s your favorite compliment?

Create - Gift

21 Gender Neutral Valentine’s Gifts for Bae to Buy + DIY

February 9, 2017

gender neutral valentine's gifts unisex valentines gifts

I’m 1 work week away from donning head to toe blush and wearing my one matching set. It’s the final countdown to the loveliest, doviest, most tear jerker holiday!

And you my friends are here for the good stuff. 21 gender neutral gifts for that special someone right? A lot of these diy ideas I’ve actually gifted Michael and and they’ve gotten the boyfriend/fiance stamp of approval. So let’s get shopping or crafting!

gender neutral valentine's gifts unisex valentines gifts

Cards
The card sets the stage for any gift. Make it bold with an illustrated , letterpress card from Sparkvites, simple and modern with a ‘love’ word search or pass on a bear hug with this Valentine’s Bear.

If you’re aiming for tears, make it personal with a diy I love You Becausejar.

gender neutral valentine's gifts unisex valentines gifts valentines truffles

Treats
Start date night dinner with a heart shaped pizza or this Penne A La Vodka. (Excuse the pasta’s name, but hey, it can’t hurt right?)

Bring it all to the sweetest of ends with funnel cake or feeding each other dark, decadent truffles.

valentines balloon gender neutral valentine's gifts unisex valentines gifts

Small Surprises
A living plant (plus pun) beats flowers at the office everyday.

Forget 99 red balloons. Spell it out with L-O-V-E.

Do you remember burning cd’s and carefully crafting playlists? Try a modern take with a personalized usb. Ya, they can get music from anywhere now, but the usb will be cute and show you thought about them.

End the night with a scented massage bar.

gender neutral valentine's gifts unisex valentines gifts

Pretty Things
Say it loud, say it proud with diy message shirts. Make a matching pair for Korean idol levels of cute.

Put together a photo book of your 1st year of dating, the year in review, or places you’ve traveled. Next level tip: Throw in one ‘goal’ picture at the end as a surprise gift. (If you made a travel book, add a picture of a place you want to go together.)

Tell you favorite coffee buddy ‘I heart you like XOwith these (mugs).

gender neutral valentine's gifts unisex valentines gifts

Date Ideas
Stay away from the bars and host a chocolate & wine tasting or beer tasting for two. The cheaper and cozier way to sample spirits.

The Dating Divas have a date night and printables for every occasion. The Valentine’s Day ones are extra sweet.

My Drifting Desk had 90+ free date night ideas already to print for a date night jar.

Or if date night is always a toss up, let this diy fortune teller decide.

Pretty Fluffy no sew dog toy valetentines puppy

And last but not least, a puppy!!! I’m 100% kidding here (also puppy crushing very hard on this guy), but if you do have a puppy for your Valentine’s why not try your hand at this no-sew toy for them?

Eat - Gift

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt Truffles for Valentine’s Day

February 2, 2017

sea salt truffles

Nerd alert guys. When I was younger and it was Valentine’s Day in a manga, I wished and wished it was the norm in the States to hand make chocolate. In the books stores would be filled with decorative papers and chocolate ingredients that made me swoon. Store bought was for lazy people. Or so I thought until I actually tried to start from just raw, unsweetened chocolate and loads of sugar. Ack. That was disgusting. And held me at bay from trying any chocolate making again for awhile. That is until my mom made truffles!

sea salt truffles

The melt in your mouth, completely decadent, smooth chocolate are to die for. And it’s so, so easy to make! The only *slight* setback back is there’s no clean way to do this. Chocolate hands everywhere. But that’s not such a bad thing right? 😉

You’ll need:
8 ounces semi-sweet bar chocolate
8 oz bittersweet bar chocolate
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp finely ground Himalayan salt
coarse ground Himalayan salt & cocoa powder to garnish

Important note- you have to use bar chocolate for the recipe to work. Chocolate chips don’t have the same fat content that will set your chocolate.

1| Chop all the chocolate as finely as possible. We’ll be relying on just the heated cream to melt the chocolate, so it’s important to have even, tiny pieces to start. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl.

2| Bring the heavy cream and finely ground salt to a simmer over medium heat. Quickly give it a mix and pour over the chocolate.

3| Let stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Cover and transfer the bowl to the fridge to set for ~2 hours depending on how good your fridge is. If you’re short on time, you can transfer the chocolate to a glass baking dish. Spreading the chocolate out in a thin sheet can cut your set time to 30 minutes. Once set, the chocolate should be soft enough to be scooped out and hold its shape.

4| Scoop ~1″ balls and loosely roll between your hands. Don’t worry about getting a perfect sphere. The rough shape is a nod to the truffles’ namesake, the truffle root, and is a mark of true handmade goodness (Thank you Martha Stewart ;D).

5| Drop the balls in cacao powder and top with a sprinkle of salt. Start lightly with 2-3 salt pieces on top- the pink sea salt packs a big punch. I love the sharp contrast between salty and sweet so I went very heavy handed. Prepare to wow all with chocolatey goodness.

sea salt truffles

Ingredient notes:
Did you know there are two different types of cocoa? Yup, and which one you choose can affect your truffles! Serious Eats breaks down the difference between natural & Dutch processed cocoa. The short of it is, use Dutch if you want a darker color and more bittersweet, earthy, balanced flavor and use natural processed if you want classic chocolate flavor.

sea salt truffles

sea salt truffles

sea salt truffles

sea salt truffles

sea salt truffles