I love the idea of homemade holiday gifts, but I usually don’t get around to them in time. Seriously, who has the fucking time to make gifts for people? Like, multiple people. I don’t bake, so I can’t even do cookies. Most years, I just end up playing Supermarket Sweeps in TJ Maxx two days before Christmas and getting my family a bunch of shit they don’t need and probably don’t even want. I mean, does my dad really need another flashlight headband? And by now, my older sister probably has a closet full of fucking holiday-scented bath salts thanks to me and my old friend TJ.
Somehow, though, a few years ago I managed to get my shit together after Thanksgiving, and busted out one of my favorite experiments: homemade coffee liqueur. (Looking back, I was probably on those crazy diet pills, which are pretty much prescription meth, so that explains a lot. I was so productive and so thin, but also a raging bitch).
Anywaaaaaay, this stuff is like Kahlúa, but better. I compared it, over ice, to the store-bought stuff, and I had a hard time stomaching how syrupy and artificial the Kahlúa tasted after drinking my homemade version.
Most “homemade Kahlúa” recipes I’ve found online call for instant coffee, but I don’t touch that shit, so I wasn’t about to include it in my labor of coffee-flavored boozy love. I figured a way around it: I made a stock pot of super-strong coffee (more of a coffee sludge) with freshly-ground beans, and manually filtered it. I mixed the filtered coffee with vanilla extract and sugar, then mixed that with an equal amount of vodka, and let it sit for 30 days. Yes. Thirty. Fucking. Days.
This recipe takes a little work, and a lot of patience, but the result is an amazing, easy-to-sip coffee liqueur that will last indefinitely — I mean, if you don’t drink it all right away.
Homemade Coffee Liqueur
Active time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total time: 1 month, 1 hour and 30 minutes
Yield: 128 ounces (16 cups)
12 ounces of a quality dark roast, whole bean coffee
9 cups water
3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla extract (I prefer Madagascar bourbon vanilla)
64 ounces (8 cups) vodka
Grind the coffee (if you have the option to choose the grind, choose the coarsest possible). Add the coffee grounds and water to a large pot, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. As soon as the coffee begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and let the mixture (the “coffee sludge”) simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, fashion some sort of filter system over a french press or other tall container. I used a ceramic drip cone used for pour overs that I picked up at a thrift store for $2 (you can buy them online and at many box stores and coffee shops). These cones are meant to sit on top of a coffee mug and require paper a paper filter. Since we don’t use paper filters, and I didn’t want to go back to the store at 10 pm, I cut an unbleached flour sack towel, and used the pieces as my filter.
Ladle the coffee sludge into the filter. Depending on what you use, it may take a while to filter through, and you’ll need to clear or replace your filter a few times before you get through the entire batch.
You should have muddy grounds stuck in your filter. If not, it’s probably getting into your mixture, and you don’t want that.
Add the filtered coffee back to the (rinsed!) pot over low heat. Add the sugar and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and stir well. At this point, you should have about 8 cups of coffee syrup. Let the syrup cool for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now, you can do one of two things: 1. Add 8 cups of vodka and the syrup to a large jar or bottle. 2. If you’re adding this to individual bottles for gifts, go ahead and fill each bottle halfway with the coffee syrup, then fill the rest of the way with vodka. Either way, use a funnel.
Let your boozy concoction sit in a cool, dark place for 30 days. In the meantime, make tags or labels for your gifts. Give it a shake every few days, when you remember.
I know what you’re thinking: “Hey! There aren’t 30 days left until Christmas. Why didn’t you post this earlier?” No problem! Just write “Enjoy After ____” on your label or tag. Believe me, people will be happy to drink this on a cold January night or save it until Valentine’s Day.
A word of warning: This shit goes down easily, and it’s hard to put down. I drank it the night my husband proposed to me, and let’s just say I’m really glad there’s a video of the whole thing. Because if you didn’t catch my drift, I was fucking wasted.
Why the fuck are all the string light cord options green, white, and black? I’m over it. I mean, not ALL string lights go on trees or hang outside in the dark. Don’t Christmas light cord manufacturers look at fucking Pinterest? Well, they don’t know that all us bitches want everything to be shiny and brass and gold, but I do. And if you want some fucking string lights with a gold cord, you need this DIY. It’s super easy, and makes for a much more festive indoor holiday decoration than boring-ass dark green.
What You’ll Need
For this ridiculously easy project, you’ll need string lights, a little bit of newspaper or paper towel, gold spray paint, and tape. I really like the Krylon Short Cuts for craft projects — they don’t drip or clog and they’re just really fucking easy to use. I use one called Gold Leaf (it’s the same one I used for the smaller one of my DIY “brass” hanging planters).
As far as lights, I used these cheap-o lights from Target with a randomly sage-ish green cord (they were on clearance, clearly not a popular color, and apparently you can also get them in blue — whyyyyyy?), but you can do this with just about any strand of string lights that has a plastic cord. Use big lights, little lights, white lights, multi-colored lights — you do you. But as you can probably imagine, it’s going to be way easier and a lot less time consuming with a strand of 25 big lights as opposed to 100 tiny lights.
First, you’ll want to carefully remove and set aside the bulbs (and I’m serious about the careful part; that shit is fragile). Then stuff paper towel, cotton ball, newspaper, toilet paper, or whatever into the light sockets. Definitely make sure there’s enough paper product in there to cover any of the contact points, but don’t stuff them so full the rim of the socket won’t get spray paint. I also decided to rip the little clips off the outside of the sockets, but you may not need to worry about that with your lights. Or maybe it just wouldn’t bother you; I didn’t want to have to paint in and around the clips since I didn’t really need them.
Before you start spray painting (or if you forget and get to the end of the strand and remember then — oops!) tape off the actual plug prongs so those doesn’t get sprayed, either. I’m not sure what would happen if the metals from the spray paint got on the plug and then it got plugged into the wall, but I’m fairly certain it would be some Christmas Vacation shit and I don’t really want to find out this year.
The next step — if you’re not a dumbass like me — would be to change into your painting clothes and shoes so you can efficiently spray paint and probably complete this job with one small can of spray paint. Or, if you decide to stay in your expensive Madewell Jeans and new Tom’s booties and spray very, very inefficiently, you may end up needing about three cans for one string of lights. Up to you, really.
So, next, you spray the cord and sockets. If you’re dressed appropriately, you can hold it up to make sure you get all the way around and in the nooks and crannies. Or if you’re very inappropriately dressed for spray painting, you can put it down on something, spray from really far away and wait for it to dry on one side before you turn it spray on the other side (and repeat about four times because you really don’t want to mess up those expensive black jeans).
Once everything is dry, pull out the paper you stuffed up in the guts of those sockets (it’s easy work with tweezers), remove the tape from the plug prongs, carefully replace the bulbs, then plug that shit in so it’s all fucking merry and bright. Seriously, the lights seem a hell of a lot brighter on the gold cord than the drab green one. They look fabulous on my black fireplace, but they’ll also look really nice on your Christmas tree, or wherever the hell you plan to hang them.
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Oh, hi. Here’s a tutorial for a DIY eucalyptus wreath literally ANYONE can make for the holidays or any damn day. Much like my washi-tape Easter eggs, these likely aren’t instructions you actually need. I mean, you could probably just look at the picture and figure that shit out. That’s exactly what I did, anyway. I was chilling at a holiday styling event (basically a room full of fashionable blondes in tan ankle booties) at Golden & Pine last month, and I spotted these adorable little minimalist hipster fucking wreaths. Then I thought, I could make that shit. And then I thought, I will make that shit. And then I thought, I shall turn that shit it into holiday content. And so I did.
So now you get way too many pictures of a really simple, pretty little DIY, because I finally got someone to take some goddamn pictures of me (but somehow didn’t manage to zip my jeans up all the way). Of course, I haven’t been home with good light to take a final beauty shot, and I’m also making them with pine right now, so I feel like I’m keeping so much from you! I’m planning to switch that shit out by the season, too, so be sure to follow me on Instagram to see all the places I’ll go. With the wreath I mean. I rarely go anywhere but home and work these days. And like I said, I’m never home when the sun is out.
What You’ll Need:
Thick brown craft wire (I used this stuff from Michaels)
Thin green or brown craft wire (optional)
Fresh Eucalyptus (I get mine at Trader Joe’s)
Good scissors or wire cutters (or both, but probably wire cutters for the thick wire)
To start, form a circle with the thick brown craft wire. I went all the way around twice so that shit was nice and sturdy.
Next, affix some eucalyptus to part or all of the circle. I used thin green craft wire to do this, but the thick stuff will work, too, if you don’t have both.
Create a little hangy-dangy thing with about eight inches of brown leather cord. Tie the two ends together in a knot then loop it around one part of the wreath. (And unlike me, be sure your fucking jeans are zipped up all the way!)Voila. You are done! How fucking easy was that? (Easy. Really, really easy.)
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Photos by Grace Pritchett
You guys, sometimes my mom would let me drink booze before I was 21. Maybe she was festive as fuck. Or maybe she just didn’t really give a fuck. For good measure, let’s say it was a little of Column A and a little of Column B (though she didn’t celebrate Christmas or any “pagan” holidays, so that kind of eliminates Column A). But because I don’t want to make her out to be a monster here, let’s pretend she was also influenced by cool European moms. Anyway, all that matters is that this Nuts & Berries cocktail is one she’d let me sip a little around the holidays. Though I don’t know how it even happened, because she never kept any booze in the house, save for the jug of shitty pink wine that was constantly half full in the fridge. And now that I think about it, it was my cool aunt Susie who first introduced me to this drink and definitely not my mom (sorry, Mom!), though I know my mom let me drink it.
Everyone and their mother (see what I did there??) seems to have their own take on the Nuts & Berries cocktail. Some people make it with heavy cream or half and half — but I don’t really see the point in using cream when you can use cream liqueur. The recipe that’s been handed down in my family is Baileys Irish Cream, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, and Chambord raspberry liqueur (which, by the way, I pretty much equate with cough syrup on its own because I generally hate fake fruity shit but it’s really, really good in this). This year, I mixed things up by swapping the Baileys for Buffalo Trace’s new Bourbon Cream. And let me tell you: It’s good — like, put-it-in-my-coffee-every-damn morning good.
Maybe it’s more nostalgia than anything, but there aren’t too many drinks I liked at 18 that I still like at 35. This is definitely one of them. Of course, I think of it like a dessert cocktail and usually only have one. Otherwise I would probably have to buy bigger jeans real soon. Yes, it’s sweet. But even if you, like me, usually prefer straight whiskey to sugary, creamy drinks, just fucking give this one a try. It’s sweet, but not in a nasty way, and creamy, but also not in a nasty way. Oh, and it’s five ounces of straight-up liqueurs. So there’s that.
If you don’t believe me, and you’re in Kansas City, join me on Saturday, December 16 from 3-5 pm at at my sugar business, Brookside Wine & Spirits. I’ll be schmoozing (probably in a festive fucking sweater) while I mix up samples. While you’re there, you can get 10% off the ingredients. And if you already have this shit in your bar, what the hell are you waiting for?
Nuts & Berries Cocktail
2 ounces Buffalo Trace Cream Liquer
2 ounces Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1 ounce Chambord raspberry liqueur
Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled glass, on or off the rocks, depending on your preference.
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We are deep into the holiday season — like, all up in its guts and shit. Today I even bought a Christmas tree, and it’s still barely November and I feel like I’m super late. It’s a tiny Fraser fir and it will live on a table since I have a human toddler and a dog toddler, but it’s here and I can’t wait to decorate it. But first, it’s time to finally get you organized for the upcoming month. I’m still super behind from my pre-Thanksgiving plague, but at long last (really, the last possible fucking minute), I present your free printable December 2017 calendar, available now as a digital download.
This month, I went for ornaments, which I realize are super Christmassy and I’m more of a Happy-Secular-Holidays-type person, but goddammit, I was raised in the midwest and even my atheist ass loves singing O Holy Night and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing on occasion (or possibly for the entire month of December and maybe a little in November, too). And I like shapes. And ornaments come in fun shapes. I also added some holiday reminders on here. In addition to Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve, I jotted dowm the start and end of Hanukkah, as well as the start of Kwanzaa. I’ve avoided adding holidays before, because once you start, where do you stop when you’re festive as fuck? But I hope this covers most of what should be noted in December.
The PDF is set up so that if you have the capability to print to the edges of paper, the ornaments will look like they’re coming from the very top. Unfortunately, every time I tried to do that with my shitty little printer, it would only print in gray. So I’m not really sure what’s up with that. Best of luck you? I fucking hate printers. (Seriously, why has printer technology not evolved since, like, 1997?)
As always, the calendar is free, and as you may or may not know by now, the only catch is that you need to “buy” the digital file from my store. You don’t have to pay any money or give any credit card info or anything like that. You just have to plug some information into some boxes. But I promise I won’t sell your email address, or stalk you (unless you’re really super fucking cool), and I think if you create an account it makes it really easy to download it next time. Also, I think I’ve fixed it so that those of you who aren’t in the US can easily download it. (My physical items are US shipping only for now, since I’m too lazy to deal with international shipping.)
And, really, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. We’re on the honor system here. Don’t be a dick. Especially not during the holidays.