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  1. Managing Your Bar: DIY Bitters

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    January 22, 2014 by Jenn

    Managing your bar will be a new addition to the blog where I give you cheap and fun ways to create your own additions to your bar cart including bitters, simple syrups, and even liquors. A new segment for our blog was born out of sheer frustration. Two things happened recently, 1. I couldn’t find any interesting bitters flavors that I wanted and 2. When I found them, they were dumb expensive. There is a fancy liquor store in town and they wanted 19 dollars for blackberry bitters…. WHAT?! So I decided that I don’t need their stinkin’ bitters. I will make my own. Guess what? It’s SO easy.

    bitters

    There are a lot of posts that say you can make bitters from vodka but this just isn’t true. Vodka is not grain alcohol which is what you need in order to suck out all the flavors of whatever you are turning into bitters. If you soak a fruit in vodka, it will sort of taste like what you want but Everclear on the other hand will suck out all the flavor and make your bitters pretty colors to boot.

    For those who don’t know: Everclear is a clear distilled grain alcohol that is bottled at both 151-proof and 190-proof. I used the 190-proof to get high octane result. Don’t worry about the grain alcohol having an affect your cocktails alcohol-wise or taste-wise, the amount of bitters used in a cocktail is so small that the grain alcohol won’t make a difference, it’ll just add really great flavor since it’ll be so concentrated. The bitters I created are Orange Cinnamon Bitters and Blueberry Bitters. Let’s get started!
    To make these bitters you will need:

    - 1 bottle Everclear
    - 2 jars with tight fitting lids
    - 1 cup fresh blueberries
    - 3 cinnamon sticks
    - 1 orange
    - vegetable peeler

    Method:
    The amount of Everclear you use is really up to you. I know I would use the Orange Cinnamon Bitters more often than the Blueberry Bitters, so I made more of the Orange Cinnamon. I used 1 1/2 cups of Everclear for the Orange Cinnamon Bitter. I poured the Everclear into my jar then I dropped in the 3 cinnamon sticks and the peels of 1 orange. (I ate the orange as a bitters making snack after I peeled it) For the Blueberry Bitters, I used 1 cup of Everclear and 1 Cup of blueberries. Really, the amount of product you put into the Everclear really depends on how strong you want the bitters to be. Once the fruit is in the Everclear, screw on the lids tightly and put them in a cool dark place (I used a kitchen cabinet) and let them sit for 25 days. You might be thinking 25 days?! It takes a while for the alcohol to suck out all the flavor. After the 25 days, unscrew the lid and taste the bitters. If the flavor is right, remove the fruit with tongs or a fork will do just fine. If the bitters are not strong enough, leave them be for another 3 days and taste them again. Keep checking in 3 day increments until they are perfect. My bitters sat for a total of 31 days. Depending on how much alcohol you use, you could easily make 6 different kinds of bitters from one bottle of Everclear. SO much cheaper!

    What’s super weird is that once I took out my blueberries, they were really hard! Like rocks. All the juice had been infused into the bitters!

    blueberrybitters2

    blueberrybitters

    The same happened with the orange peels, they were colorless and hard once they were removed. The grain alcohol totally did it’s job.

    orangecinnbitters

    orangecinnamonbitters

     

    Once you’re finished you can bottle them or leave them in the jars. As long as they are tightly sealed, the bitters will last up to 6 months. Label them and poof! You’re ready to have a delicious cocktail with a great flavor!


  2. Our House, is a very, very, very, fine house

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    February 1, 2013 by Emily

    I didn’t mean to go all Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on you, but it seemed appropriate…This month has had some huge life changed for me. The biggest, and scariest, is that I bought a house!

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    It’s something that I’ve been striving for, for a long time, so once I got my teaching job I buckled down and really started to save my dollars and cents for a downpayment. I didn’t really start looking for a house until the beginning of December, but everything fell into place so easily it seemed like fate!

    I found this house the first day out with our realtor, except it was an open house! Less than 2% of buyers actually find their homes trough open houses, which is nutty…. but it gets even stranger!

    After all the legal things were said and done I finally got to met the owner during signing, and thats when I found out that this house was Her first house, that she bought when she was 27, and she fell in love with it during an open house the first weekend she started looking at houses! How crazy is that?! Yes universe, I get it! I was meant to make this house my home. We’ve only done the most basic of updates, ok just paint, but its injected my personality into the house so much…I cant wait to really move in at the end of February !!

    House-Living-room

    Can you see that I’m not afraid of color? After almost a decade of living in apartments and not being able to paint my walls i’ve decided to go full tilt. Dark teal living room?1 DONE! Bright red dining room?! Yes please!

    kitchen-nook

    These were the narrowed down paint swatches of vintage-y mint green… who knew there were SO MANY?!

    But do you want to hear the craziest thing?! When my dad was helping me prepare the walls for paint, we discovered the original paint colors for the rooms downstairs… are you ready? Our now teal living room was originally deep blue-green, the dining room was originally red and the breakfast nook was originally light green….Crazy right?!  I. Just. Can’t. Get. Over. This.

     

    But now theres a blank canvas for rooms and rooms of DIY projects and renovations and styling, I cant wait to share it all with you! Pssssst just a heads up, you’ll get to see a renovation novice redo a kitchen this summer!


  3. Quick Tip: Plastic bag storage

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    January 27, 2013 by Jenn

    I save all my plastic bags so I can re-use them as trash can liners, cat poop bags, etc. but having them all around the kitchen isn’t very pretty. No one likes that. Instead, create a bag storage container. When I finished all my oatmeal, I made this inexpensive and visually appealing holder to corral all my plastic bags!

    recycledoats

    Take the paper off, paint on some mod podge, and use a scrap of fabric to cover the can. Use an exacto knife to cut off the excess fabric, then cut a hole in the lid of the can. Voila! Easy bag storage that takes up very little space and looks cute doing it.


  4. Products We Love- Kitchen Edition

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    January 18, 2013 by Emily

    jennskitchenpicks

    1. I’m a huge fan of classic food presentation. Nothing is classier than a single large perfect cube of ice in a fancy cocktail, particularly one with bourbon. The Tovolo King ice cube trays are only 8 bucks, they come in a few different colors but I prefer the pink. ; )

    2. Okay, an apple slicer might not seem that cool but I use it for a lot of things besides apples. You name it, tomatoes, potatoes, even cake. Sometimes I’m a little lazy and don’t feel like it, having a slicer makes my life a little easier. Plus, Ikea sells em for only 3 dollars!

    3. French Press, oh how I love thee. I’ve always been a coffee gal but lately I’ve been getting more and more into tea. This french press is by Bodum, the one I had before (who shall remain nameless) did not properly steep loose teas. Somehow tons of little tea bits would end up in my water. Not cool. This french press has an extra reinforcement layer to strain out even the smallest pieces. I haven’t had dirty tea since. It was also a bargain at Target, in store I got mine for 17 dollars for a 4 cup, the online for an 8 cup is 29.95. Still not too shabby.

    4. This is probably my favorite thing I own right now. First of all, the brand is called Babycakes, super cute. Second, it makes WAFFLE STICKS. Yeah, you heard me right, no, I didn’t stutter. Breakfast just got way more fun. Maybe sometimes I eat them for lunch, maybe don’t worry bout it.

    5. Just because they’re adorbs. I collect salt and pepper shakers and these cupcakes are cuuuute.

    kitchen

    1. Silicone Tongs- Ok, I’m not going to lie, I used to be the type of cook that would reach into a hot pan and grab something with my fingers…. YES, I’ve even done this with things in boiling water. I’m crazy. After many burnt fingertips I realized something needed to change, and apparently so did my mother…because every Christmas for the past few years she gives me a new pair of tongs that have silicone ends on them. I use my tongs every single day in the kitchen, they’re heat resistant and have a soft edge so they’re perfect for using in my non-stick pans, but also strong enough to hoist a pot roast out of the pan and onto a serving plate.

    2. Digital Kitchen Scale: This is a new gadget for me. I used to be fine with liquid measurements when cooking, and usually I still am, but having a digital scale handy is really great for a lot of things. Personally, I use my scale most often to portion out bulk foods (cheaper in the long run!) into packets to go into the freezer for later, or when making bath products (like our solid lotion bars!) but I’ll also use it when I’m working on a finicky pastry recipe like macaroons where exact measurements are really important.

    3. CUPPOW!- Cuppows are a plastic sippy cup lid that will fit onto any wide mouth mason jar, turning any mason jar into a travel cup…. Alex and I have a few of these in our kitchen that I use every single day. Now I have loads of travel mugs, bonus is that I didn’t need to clutter my cabinets with other travel cups!

    4.Mason Jars- Seriously… I can’t live without mason jars. I use these bad boys for everything in my kitchen. They have become my drinking glasses, my Tupperware, pantry storage, liquid measuring cups and even my cocktail shaker. I especially like being able to utilize these kitchen multi-taskers when I bring liquids to work for my lunches, I used to be paranoid that my soup or smoothie would spill in my bag on the way to work, but the mason jars screw on lid has given me great peace of mind.

    5. Covered Metal Mixing Bowls- These are along the same line as my obsession with mason jars, I really like being able to seal up my containers and bowls to reduce my chances of spills (I’m really clumsy!) plastic wrap just doesn’t do it for me, so these covered bowls are right up my alley! I especially like them for when I’m breading things because I can pop the lid on and shake with reckless abandon!

    6. Silicone Cupcake Liners- ANOTHER kitchen multi-tasker! I like them because anything I put inside them for baking or molding purposes pops right out! very little mess and NEVER any baked good left behind, stuck to the bottom of the muffin tins! It doesn’t hurt that they’re reusable until the end of time and I don’t need to deal with any more of those paper liners!

     


We are a collective based out of Baltimore, MD dedicated to showing you how to live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget. We believe in the power of creativity and fun. We believe that anything is possible and we would like to inspire you to do the same. Thanks for stopping by!

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