During the holiday season I like to create one go-to holiday cocktail for guests whether they’re dinner guests, just drop in, or friends that have come by to help out with holiday wrapping or bake with me. That way I always have something to offer, and I don’t have to think too hard about it. Kombucha has been my go-to mixer all year, and winter is no different. Paired with Hangar 1 Vodka, a clean, high-quality vodka, spiced lemon simple syrup, a dash of bitters, and a sprinkling of pink peppercorns it’s just interesting enough to feel special for the season but simple enough that you don’t have to have a million ingredients to make it happen.

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I’m currently up in the Hudson Valley shooting the Jersey Ice Cream Company’s latest project, and I just said goodbye to my husband in Philly yesterday as he headed back home. Last night, trying to sleep at 2:30 AM, my mind was racing like a rabbit’s heart. Every thought from hollow eyed she-ghosts (one could imagine any of these old farmhouses haunted) to the pros and cons of concrete flooring (they’re coming to do some more work at our place this winter!) were taking their turns at milling about. For the first time in months, I realized I didn’t have a deadline looming. Sure, there are still a million and one time sensitive things to do and ever more coming, but no concrete deadlines. So now I’m trying to focus on being present & enjoying the beautiful home I’m working in today, the winter grey sky,  and getting excited for the holidays. As we all put the finishing touches on our celebrations, I wanted to share this DIY for floral gift toppers along with a few last minute gift ideas (hello copper & grey watch + grey suede clutch) from Skagen’s gift guide. Their no frills, minimalist approach is right up my alley, and a linen wrapped package spilling over with greenery with a gorgeous time piece or leather bag inside it is perfect.

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I met a man last winter in a coffee shop. He wore glasses, smiled incessantly, and made me feel edgy. It turned out the shop was his. Then it turned out we married five months later. And that’s how I married coffee. Until I met my husband, Matt, I thought (like so many of us misguided cooks & food enthusiasts do) that I knew good coffee. I was wrong. Completely wrong.

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This is a post about little gifts. A list of my five favorite blogs & a recipe for the perfect DIY last minute gift, homemade spiced preserved lemons. In a world full of content and things, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. That’s why I wanted to give you an idea for a simple, affordable, easy gift that’s also absolutely wonderful, and a very short list of my favorite reads.

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Tea leaves, herbs, and flowers bloom in hot water, transforming in the glass pot. A rustic cornmeal cake, warm out of the oven, sits on the counter—scenting the room with fresh thyme and Meyer lemons. The fully bloomed tea leaves create a golden elixir to be poured over drinking crystals, honey, or sugar cubes in a translucent tea cup. A slice of cake, still warm, is slipped onto on a plate, on top which melts a pat of salted butter melts drizzled with whipped honey.

The first sip, the first bite—this is restoration. This moment to yourself is practicing the art of slow living.

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