Earlier this month, Catskill Provisions reached out to me about concocting a drink with their NY Honey Rye Whiskey to celebrate National Pollinator Month — an initiative to save the bees. As usual, I was my very blunt self, and replied with something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t like flavored whiskey, but I do want to save the bees, so sure!”
While I waited for the bottle to arrive, I imagined masking the flavor with a super-spicy ginger beer and elderflower liqueur. The nice people at Catskill Provisions had assured me their product wasn’t like all the shitty flavored booze out there, but to be honest, I wasn’t convinced. Well, I WAS WRONG, OKAY? It’s not like all the shitty flavored booze out there, and I actually do like it. It even inspired me to go another direction with the drink. After a little sip, the taste that was left in my mouth can best be described as rye that had been poured into a cup that had sweet tea in it before (and hadn’t been rinsed out, of course). And since I love a good tea cocktail, I went with it.
The final product is somewhere in the land of Arnold Palmer and sweet tea — with whiskey, of course. And while you could get away with using just about any rye for this, Catskill Provisions donates 2% of proceeds to bee preservation causes. So that’s a thing to consider.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, nobody paid me to write this, though I did receive a free bottle of whiskey and a jar of honey. But I get bottles in the mail all the time. Some I write about, others I don’t. Sometimes I get a bottle and I write about it three years later. Other times, I get some weird blue vodka and regift it to friends who actually like that shit.
Anyway, for this drink you’ll need to make a super-simple sweet tea syrup with honey and earl grey tea. Because have you ever tried adding honey straight into a cold cocktail? Whole lotta nope.
Sweet Tea Syrup
2 cups water
8 earl grey tea bags
1 cup honey
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and steep the tea bags for 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags and stir in the honey. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight jar or bottle in the refrigerator.
Queen Bee Sweet Tea Cocktail
2 ounces sweet tea syrup (recipe above)
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Lemon wheel for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker (or wide-mouth mason jar) with a handful of ice. Shake the shit out of it and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube or fresh handful of ice. Garnish and enjoy.
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If you’re into booze, there’s a good chance your social feeds have been filled with images of Negronis for the past few days. That’s because it’s Negroni Week! And if you’re anything like me a few years ago, you’re all, “Cool, Negroni Week. But, wait. What the hell is Negroni Week?” Founded by Imbibe Magazine and Campari (one of the ingredients in the drink) in 2013, Negroni Week is a celebration of a classic, three-ingredient cocktail, as well as an effort to raise money for charitable causes around the world. For seven days, participating bars mix up variations on the Negroni, the a portion of the proceeds goes to charity.
The Negroni in its simplest form is quite easy: one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, and one part Campari. And that simplicity is why people love making riffs on it. Obviously, The Boozy Bungalow is not a bar, and I’m not selling drinks (I’d probably go to jail for that), but I mixed up my own variation this year (just like I did last year) and I doubt anyone who’s been following me for a while is even the slightest bit surprised that I put vinho verde in my Negroni.
Now, you may be thinking: Wine in a Negroni?! That’s gonna get me drunk! And you’d be right. This is not a session cocktail. It is, however, strong and summery and easy to make, so if you like Negronis and vinho verde, you should give it a try. I’ve given you a recipe below, but the even simpler breakdown is one part Negroni to one part vinho verde. Get it!
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3 ounces vinho verde
Orange slice, for garnish
Add all ingredients to a large wine glass or collins glass, and stir well. Add large ice cube or handful of ice, garnish with an orange slice, and enjoy!
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I’ve been in the mood to make tiki drinks lately. The cups are fun, the garnishes are fun, and I really need to up my rum consumption (I’ve been getting way too comfortable with whiskey and the truth is I’m a total rum dummy). But when I think of tiki drinks, I think pineapple juice. And that’s a problem because when I eat pineapple or have a drink with pineapple juice, the skin inside of my mouth literally burns off! It’s super weird and uncomfortable (though not entirely uncommon) and my theory is that my more extreme reaction probably has something to do with me being super pale and not able to to tolerate anything even remotely tropical; I also have a weird mango allergy, and while I realize it’s the source of all life on earth, the sun can go suck a dick. Anyway, I wasn’t going to let some stupid fruit hold me back from tiki time on a random Thursday afternoon at home alone, so I made a super easy tiki drink with no pineapple.
This pineapple-free drink still has all the tiki vibes, thanks to three kinds of fresh-squeezed citrus juice, fancy-ass rum, and some bitters you might already have on your home bar: Campari and Angostura Aromatic. And while my pineapple intolerance kept me from buying and wasting a whole fruit, it certainly did not stop me from plucking a single frond off of a grocery store pineapple and sliding it into my purse — hence the name the Furious Frond Burglar (the “furious” part is due to the fact that tiki mugs always look really fucking pissed, even though mine is just a pretty little piece of pottery).
The Furious Frond Burglar
2 ounces rum (I used Diplomático)
2 ounces fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
2 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce Campari
1 generous dash Angostura Aromatic bitters
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake the shit out of it and strain into a tiki mug filled ⅓ of the way with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange wheel and pineapple frond (if you dare). Enjoy!
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Holy shit, you guys! I did it. Well, I didn’t do it all by myself. I had help from my husband Kyle, my Home Depot credit card (thanks for the mid-project limit increase/enabling, guys!), and my new BFF Shawn — who really gets all the credit and came over on the weekends to do all the things I thought I could do but actually had no business (or tools) attempting myself. With all that help, we renovated my kitchen in just about three weeks. I mean, I hardly slept, and I did mildly electrocute myself early on, but other than that, it all went fairly smoothly.
I could write The World’s Longest Blog Post about this kitchen renovation, but considering this is technically my first home decor post since my name change, and I’m still tired AF from all the renovation sleep deprivation, this is just the highlight reel. I’ll break down details for you later on. But if you have a question (like “What shade of black is that basic black paint?”), ask it in the comments and it could inspire a future post.
Now, before we get to the after, we have to start with the before. And we’re going way back — to when we bought this 1916 bungalow in 2013. The kitchen was a total shithole (almost bad enough to make us not want to make an offer) but I saw its potential and decided I could at least put some lipstick on that pig for a while. Lipstick in the form of paint, that is. Because paint makes everything better. Or at least look better. Of course, I didn’t know I was going to have a home decor blog five years ago — hell, I didn’t know I was going to have a home decor blog five weeks ago — so I wasn’t great about taking before pictures. But I did capture a few mid-paint-job shots before we moved in.
I managed to make it okay enough. And after that initial mini makeover (removing some of the cabinet doors and painting the cabinets a dark gray, as well as painting the walls a cool gray color I immediately regretted), I made some additional improvements along the way, like swapping out the stainless cabinet hardware for brass, painting the walls a warm white, and putting black coin-dot rubber flooring over the most disgusting tile I’d ever seen (which you can see above). Stop-gap measures, you know?
Still, it wasn’t nice. It remained my least favorite room in the house. The countertops were old and cheap and gross, the almond sink was scratched and stained, and the bulky upper cabinets didn’t do anything to help the feel of the room — which doesn’t get a ton of natural light to begin with (okay, yeah, white might have been a better choice for the cabinets from the get-go).
Not content with anything ever (I mean, the first home decor piece I ever wrote was called “My Design ADD” — who knew I’d get diagnosed with real ADHD a decade later?! — actually, anyone who’s ever met me), I needed to make it better, and prettier. MORE INSTAGRAM WORTHY. Plus, I got an assignment from the DIY Network: How to replace your kitchen cabinets with open shelving (here it is, by the way). Which I might have begged them to give me so I could convince Kyle that I had to do this. FOR WORK.
Since my livelihood and future career prospects clearly depended upon this project, I DM’d Shawn and we hatched a plan! I should probably point out that four weeks ago, Shawn was just my high school friend’s husband. But 976 Instagram messages and three dust-filled weekends later, he’s basically the Jonathan Scott to my [whoever those blonde ladies are who boss around the construction dudes on HGTV]. I’m sure he’s about to get real sick of me and all my to-dos, but he’s launching his own renovation and restoration business, so at least I won’t be the only one telling him that my photo-worthy backsplash made of joint compound and paint will be JUST FINE.
Before I knew it, I was chiseling away at shitty white tiles and taking a ton of plaster with them. The plaster was so old it had horse hair in it! Horse hair! Obviously, repairs needed to be made, and Shawn taught me how to skim. When left to my own devices, I used an entire 5-gallon bucket (and then some) of joint compound to fix up the rather small area where the backsplash had been. I regret nothing.
So cabinets got ripped down, walls got repaired, the sink and faucet got replaced, and I painted more meticulously than I’ve ever painted in my life (more on that and my magnificent black half wall another day). By the third weekend, we were putting up shelves. I’m super impressed that we did it so quickly, and that it turned out so well.
To be honest, the sink feels a little small, and is smaller than the two-compartment sink we took out (I fucked up the measurement) but it’s nice to have the additional counter space. Plus, I can fit a sheet pan, stock pot, or baby in it. And the smaller the sink, the fewer dishes will pile up in it. I hope. We can always cut a bigger hole later.
Just when we thought we were finished, I decided that the spot where we do most of our prep was a bit too dark (black isn’t exactly the brightest color) and remembered I had this IKEA clamp light in a closet. I was worried about what to do with the super long cord, but I kind of dig my solution (though everyone else seems to hate it).
I made two snap decisions mid-renovation, and I’m so glad I did. One was spray-painting the shelf brackets a bronze-y gold (they were white to begin with). The other was getting a sexy black ductless hood to go over the stove — even if I can’t manage to get a sexy picture of it.
Here’s a little recap of what we did:
- Removed the upper cabinets and backsplash
- Patched and painted the walls
- Replaced the countertops (IKEA Karlby)
- Replaced the sink (Kohler Mayfield)
- Replaced the faucet (Delta Trinsic in Champagne Bronze)
- Replaced white outlets and switches with black ones
- Painted the ceiling (god, that fucking sucked)
- Replaced the light fixtures (Ceiling, Sink)
- Repainted and polyurethaned the lower (and only remaining) cabinets
- Installed a ductless hood (Winflo, 30-inch) which was the best decision ever!
- Painted and installed the shelving brackets (Closetmaid)
- Painted and installed the shelves (1″ x 12″ common boards)
Of course, there were lots of other little things, too but I’m trying to keep this from being The World’s Longest Blog Post. And remember: You can ask me anything in the comments, and I’ll write more about this soon. Just know that if you ask how much it all cost, I may curl up into the fetal position and put a blanket over my head like I do every time Kyle tries to talk to me about money. Honestly, I don’t even know how much I spent, but I’m guessing with all the overbuying I did (because who wants to rinse a fucking paint roller at 3 am) probably close to $2,500.
Totally worth it, right?! RIGHT.
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If you’ve been watching my Instagram stories, or even reading my captions, you know I’m changing my handle! Festive AF has been real, but to be honest, it’s fucking exhausting being festive as fuck all the damn time.
When I started this blog, I was all, “It’s my dream to get paid to craft and make cocktails and style photos and write snarky shit all day.” Except I didn’t get paid (I mean, I made a few bucks here and there, but I’ve lost a LOT of time and money on this thing). I put so much pressure on myself to do things on a schedule: weekly cocktails, monthly calendars, regular events (and then planning the events, and working to get people to actually show up to them). And that was all on top of a full-time job, a busy freelance writing side hustle, and being a mom and a wife — with a ton of projects I’ve been neglecting around my house. And don’t even get me started on having to pretend I actually like Valentine’s Day.
But speaking of my house, when I started giving little snippets of my kitchen renovation on my Instagram stories, you guys ate that shit up! And you know what? I love home decor even more than I love crafts. I’ve written about it for publications you’ve actually heard of (even ELLE DECOR, though it was ages ago) and since I have an entire 102-year-old Arts & Crafts bungalow that needs ALL THE WORK, it makes sense to shift my focus toward home decor.
So, if you loved Festive AF I think you’re going to love The Boozy Bungalow even more. I’ll still be the same awkward, drunk asshole you’ve come to know and love, but you’ll get more snippets of my house, along with the random shit I drink on a Tuesday night (and yes, still lots of cocktail recipes!). You’ll also come to learn all about my vintage rug obsession and throw pillow insecurity (I just made that up, but it’s a thing). You might even get some snippets of my beer-professional husband, Kyle. Maybe.
Anyway, thanks for sticking around this long.
You’ll see I’ve updated the name here and you should look out for the change on Instagram and Facebook sometime this weekend.