Butter London “All Hail the Queen” – a splurge, but worth it!

I am not skilled in the art of a self-manicure.  I am always rushing, unwilling to do the prep work needed for a salon-quality job and not ambidextrous enough to make my right hand look as neat as my left.

And I am rough on my hands.  Between typing, cleaning, cooking, and daily life, I am pretty lucky to be chip-free 24 hours after polishing my nails.  And cuticles… forget about it!  Mine are a train wreck!

But none of this stops me from trying!

My go-to brand of polish is Essie (love this red, this pink and this grey) because I like the quality and the price.  I definitely love my Dior Nail Glow still, it is the perfect better-than-clear, easier-than-color polish.  I have tried a few Deborah Lippmann but haven’t felt they justify the high cost (although I am not giving up on the brand!).  Recently I have been finding my favorite Essie polishes to chip and loose their shine quickly.  I am pretty confident I am the problem (refusing to use a top coat, not prepping my nail, etc.) but it is still less-than-inspiring.

I recently pinned a Butter London polish (Dubs) that had me thinking about that brand.  I see it every time I wander around Nordstrom, but have never felt the urge to buy a bottle.  During a trip to Ulta I saw the cute Butter London display.  I couldn’t find Dubs unfortunately, but did see multiple other options that called my name.  Maybe it was the chipped Essie Barefoot and Topless (STILL my favorite nude as of late) on my nails, but a $15 bottle of nail polish seemed worth trying suddenly.  I snagged a bottle of All Hail the Queen (only 30% of the decision was based on loving their branding SO much) and decided I would give it a shot.

Let me tell you – the price is worth it!  Not only did the color go on more smoothly than any other polish I have tried, but it didn’t stick to my cuticles AND dried quickly!  It is maintaining it’s shine and hasn’t chipped!  Plus, the color is super fun!

All Hail the Queen | StylishlyLived.com

My next Butter London purchase is going to be a soft pink.  I am picky about those.  I want them opaque, but not too bubble-gum.  Shiny but no glitter.  I think Pink Ribbon might be the ticket!

And fabulous news: through October 27th, Butter London is offering 30% off your purchase (promo code: BEZZIE14) if made through their website!  Dubs, Pink Ribbon and maybe LadyBird are going in my basket!

Disclosure: the opinions in the post are my own.  I have no material connection to any of the brands or products included in this post and have received no compensation for their inclusion.

Mad Men Cocktail Hour – Black Walnut Old Fashioned

Today we are revisiting the very first Mad Men Cocktail Hour post ever which was an Old Fashioned.  Old Fashioned cocktails remain my very favorite drink but sometimes you want to put a little twist on the classic.

I love trying new  mixers and bitters and fun things to add to drinks.  They are a quick why to turn an old standard into a new favorite.

Fee Brothers make my favorite bitter, they have so many options!  And my new favorite is Black Walnut Bitters.  It has a hint of maple and vanilla, is nutty and warm – perfect for bourbon and a fantastic alternative for a classic Old Fashioned!

Black Walnut Old Fashioned | StylishlyLived.com

 

Just a slight variation off my usual Old Fashioned recipe.  Rather than Orange Bitter, I use the Black Walnut Bitters (check out the link for specific instructions):

2 oz Bourbon

several dashes Angostura Bitters

8-10 dashes Black Walnut Bitters (I don’t shy away from really adding flavor)

Sugar cube

Ice

Directions:

Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass and wet with the bitters,.  Muddle the sugar and bitters together, add ice to the glass (I prefer one very large cube) and bourbon.  Stir to combine.  I prefer mine with a splash of soda water, but that is optional.

Enjoy!

Mad Men Cocktail Hour: Tart Cherry Gin and Tonic

There is something a little buttoned-up about the Gin and Tonic – I always picture a very tightly-wound British Bank Employee coming home from work, walking over to his wet bar and loosening his tie while pouring a stiff G&T.  He takes that first sip, breathes “ahhhhh” and then chats with his wife about Polo or biscuits or the Tube or bopping up to the Country for a bit of a holiday or something else terribly classy and not Reality-TV related (a favorite conversation topic in this household because we are not very classy).

While I love Gin (as witnessed here and here and here), Gin and Tonics haven’t really been a favorite drink around here.  They are a bit sweet for me and we never stocked tonic water because we drink it so rarely a big bottle would go flat.  But there is no denying that occasionally nothing hits the spot like a G&T, especially on a warm Spring day.

Enter mini bottles of tonic water!  So cute on a bar cart and totally practical if you only make Gin and Tonics very rarely.  I bought the Schweppes brand at the grocery store, but these Q Tonic bottles are pretty (although not mini) and supposedly this brand is less sweet – I will have to try it next time!

Traditionally, Gin and Tonics are made with lime but I wanted to switch it up (especially with the price of limes right now – nutso).  While wandering through a local liquor store recently I spied a bottle of Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur made by Leopold Brothers, a small batch distillery located in Denver, CO.  The bottle and label were too pretty to pass up so I snagged a bottle.  And right on the bottle is a recommendation to add the liqueur to a Gin and Tonic!  Perfect!

A small bit of the liqueur adds some complexity to the cocktail, but it doesn’t taste of artificial cherry.  It adds a more tart burst of flavor.  I love the liqueur so I will definitely be trying a few of their other offerings (Hello Coffee Liqueur and Blackberry Liqueur) as well as giving their Gin a try (I have seen it stocked in many bars, must be good!).

If you’re in the mood for something light and tasty, give this Tart Cherry Gin and Tonic a try:

Tart Cherry Gin and Tonic from StylishlyLived.com

 

Ingredients:

Ice

Gin

Tonic Water

Leopold Bros Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur

Instructions:

Fill a glass nearly to the top with ice.

Pour two ounces of gin and half an ounce of Leopold Bros Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur into the glass.

Fill the glass the rest of the way with tonic water.

Stir.

Enjoy.

Mad Men Cocktail Hour: Harvey Wallbanger

I have missed having Don Draper in my living room every week – I am so glad he will be back for a visit tonight!

And glad to have any excuse to bring back a happy hour.

Last season ended in 1969 (if my memory is serving correctly), so it seems likely that this final season will take place in the 70s.  Could be wrong – maybe Matthew Weiner will leapfrog to the 80s…  But I don’t think so.  The 70s weren’t a great time for the craft of cocktails.  Lots of sweet, sticky drinks were popular.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try them!

One of the most popular cocktails of the 1970s was the Harvey Wallbanger.  You may have heard the story about a surfer in California who inspired the drink or you may believe that it’s creation came from the mind of a Galliano Liqueur marketing exec – either way, seen appropriate for sipping while watching Mad Men!

This cocktail tastes like a more complicated Screwdriver – and that is pretty much what it is!  Galliano Liqueur is very herbal – with tastes of anise and vanilla.  I ended up having to buy a huge bottle of it and I do like it’s complexity – so look for more recipes featuring this liqueur coming soon!

One little change I made to was add lemon juice into the mix.  Even with a low-calorie orange juice I used this drink would have been a bit too cloying for me and the bit of bright sourness helped quite a bit.

So put on your leisure suits and strap on your disco shoes – it is time for a Harvey Wallbanger:

For Mad Men Happy Hour: Harvey Wallbanger cocktail with StylishlyLived.com

 

Harvey Wallbanger recipe:

Fill a tall glass with ice

Add four-and-a-half ounces Orange Juice, one-half ounce Lemon Juice and two ounces Vodka.  Stir.

Add one ounce Galliano Liqueur, floating on the top of the drink by pouring the Galliano into the glass over the back of a spoon.

Garnish with orange slice and Maraschino cherry (cherry optional).

Enjoy!

(author’s note: I enjoyed the cocktail more when the Galliano combined more into the rest of the drink, so stir again after adding the Galliano if you prefer – no judgement here!)

A cocktail for the Holidays – Cranberry Negroni

The Holidays are a time for celebrating in all forms and one of my favorite forms of celebration is clicking cocktails together with friends and loved ones.

So many holiday drinks are super sweet or creamy or heavy, so I thought I would share something a little different.  Enter the Cranberry Negroni.  Negronis are an acquired taste, as is Campari, the spirit used to make them.  Bitter, with a distinct aftertaste, the flavor of Campari doesn’t match the pretty pink color.  But stick with it!  I really didn’t like the first Negroni I had and now really enjoy the taste of Campari and the bitter refreshment it offers.

This Negroni isn’t far off from the traditional, but for a little holiday twist, I added cranberry.  While wandering around Bevmo I found some cocktail cranberries but I can’t seem to find them anywhere online.  So if you can find those, great!  If not, I think that these candied cranberries would be even better.  Or use some Cranberry Bitters.

Since I was garnishing with cranberries, I skipped the traditional orange twist.  But I did want some orange flavor so I added a couple of dashes of orange bitters.  Bitters are the best and I definitely recommend stocking a few of your favorites!

Cranberry Negroni | Stylishly Lived

Recipe for a Cranberry Negroni -

Combine in shaker with ice:

1 oz. Gin

1 oz. Campari

1 oz. Vermouth

Splash cranberry juice and/or dashes cranberry bitters

2-3 dashes orange bitters

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with cranberries.

Gift Guide 2013: Perfect gifts for the Chef in your life

Gifts for Chefs - gift guide 2013

I love the gift round ups I see every year for the holidays.  I love shopping and giving and getting and just the whole idea of presents!  For being almost 30-years-old, I am probably way too “present focused” but I can’t help it – I love them!

So this year I thought I would get in the spirit with a series of my very own gift guides.  Keep an eye out for one or two a week (maybe a few extra this weekend to ramp up my general online-shopping excitement).  These are all things that I would love to give and/or receive!

I want to start it off with gifts for chefs.  People usually fall in three categories from what I can tell: “hate to cook”, “love to cook” or “intrigued but terrified to cook”.  I live in the “love to cook” group and would definitely enjoy getting any of these things to further that little hobby.  Missing, you’ll notice, is a cookbook.  That is because I am so hugely passionate about my favorite cookbook that I think it deserves it’s very own post.  So look for that next week!

If you are searching for a gift for the Chef in your life, keep reading to see twelve of my favorite recommendations!

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Scents and Sensibility – my favorite perfumes

I believe Coco Chanel said it best about perfume…

coco chanel perfume quote

As much as I wish I had a signature scent ( a’la Marilyn Monroe with Chanel No. 5), I just can’t choose between a few favorites.

Perfume favorites - Stylishly Lived

Jo Malone – Wild Bluebell: I wrote about this one before.  It is sweet and lovely and lady-like.  A light floral.

Chanel – Coco Mademoiselle: A more sophisticated scent, with citrus and floral notes drying down to musk, patchouli and bourbon vanilla.

Kate Spade – Live Colorfully: I probably wear this the most.  Mostly because it is my husband’s favorite.  Light and feminine, I had a handsome French man stop me and tell me I smelled elegant.  That is a compliment.

Bvlgari - Omnia Crystalline: This is one is unique and I have never smelled someone else wearing it.  It is warmer than the others, on me the sandalwood, amber and bamboo really come out.  It smells soft and subtle, like what wearing cashmere would smell like.  Probably my favorite of the four.

Color Love – Autumn Glamour

I love Autumn colors – warm, glowy, comforting.  Here is a little twist on the traditional oranges, reds and yellows.  The hint of sweet blush and the dark, lush wine tones add a bit of elegance to the palette.

Gorgeous pom poms for Ban.do

Inspiration photo source | Ban.do

{Via}

Autumn Glamour Color Palatte - Stylishly Lived

How to: apply eyeliner to hooded eyelids

About four months ago I learned a trick that transformed my eye makeup!

I have always struggled with my “Hooded Eyelids” and how to make my eyes look larger and less heavy.  If you don’t know what a hooded eyelid is, it means that extra skin folds over and hides the crease and eyelid.  They looks sort of heavy or sleepy and many women who have them absolutely hate them!  There is even a surgery to “correct” hooded eyelids.  They aren’t considered traditionally pretty, but plenty of celebrities have them too!  A perfect example is the always lovely Blake Lively:

blake lively

So how to make the most of your hooded eyes?  A fantastic trick in eyeliner placement!

For years I lined my eyes like 90% of the population – by tracing along the top of my eyelashes.  But that meant that the only thing visible was a tiny sliver of dark eyeliner, none of my eyelid!  And the whole effect was dark and heavy.  I compensated by using golden or taupe eyeliner, but that contrasted quite a bit with my dark mascara.  I just didn’t know any different.

During a visit to my local Nordstrom and specifically the Laura Mercier counter a fabulous make up artist showed me exactly what I was doing wrong.  Rather than line ABOVE my lashed, I need to line in the roots of my lashes!  And to do this, I needed to gently lift my lid by putting the tiniest bit of pressure just above my lashes and sort of “popping” my eyelid open to expose the roots of lashes and my upper water line.  By pressing a thin line of eyeliner into the roots, my eyes are nicely defined in the smudgy “does she have makeup on” way.  Nothing dramatic about this look, more subtle and perfect for everyday.  And a bit of eyelid/eyeshadow is now able to peek through my lashes, rather than just the hooded brow portion hanging over!  This technique is called tightlining.

Before I get to the illustrations, let me recommend the tools I have been using to line my eyes this way.  For me, nothing beats Laura Mercier ‘Tightline’ Cake Eyeliner.  I use the Tightline Activator Fluid rather than water – this fluid really ensures that the eyeliner stays put, it absolutely lasts all day and night!  And to line I use the Bobbi Brown Ultrafine Eyeliner Brush - it gives me control, but puts enough pigment on that I can line the lashes in one “go”.

And now… How to Tightline your eyes:

How to: tightline hooded eyes

Cocktail recipe: Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler ~ perfect for entertaining

Some days just call for staying at home and sipping some cocktails with friends.  Warm Autumn days are perfect for this.  And while I love a glass of Sangria (either a classic red or a crisp white version) or wine, for me nothing is more fun than whipping up cocktails for a group!

We had a game night awhile back where I tried to make cocktails to order – not fun.  At all.  Enter the pitcher cocktail!  Not all cocktails are meant to be mass-produced.  An Old Fashioned would not work very well.  But sparkly, herbaceous cocktails DO work.  I love combining champagne and liquor – particularly gin!

Enter the Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler:

Gin Pitcher Cocktail - Stylishly Lived

Slightly sweet from the grapefruit, woodsy from the Rosemary, herbaceous from the Gin, bubbly from the prosecco – this cocktail checks all my boxes!  And it couldn’t be easier!

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler

Gin Pitcher Cocktail

Combine the following in a pitcher:

          One and a half cups gin (I used Tanqueray)

          One cup Rosemary Simple Syrup (I used this recipe from theKitchn)

          Two cups chilled sparking grapefruit soda, such as Q Grapefruit (I found it at Whole Foods, can also purchase on Amazon.com)

          One bottle Prosecco – chilled

Stir lightly to combine.

You can definitely make it ahead of time, but I wouldn’t add the prosecco until you are ready to serve.  Pour into pretty cocktail glasses (over ice if needed) and enjoy!

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