Meyer Lemon Limoncello

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When my mom’s Meyer lemon tree was overflowing with glowing yellow citrus, I found myself the lucky recipient of a giant bag on my doorstep. I started researching all the delectable ways these lemons could be incorporated into recipes. It was an experiment that yielded beautiful cocktails and desserts, and one gorgeous roasted chicken.

What makes Meyer lemons so special? ’Lisbon’ and ‘Eureka’ lemons grow year-round and are most likely the lemons you select whenever you reach for them in the grocery store. The Meyer lemon, named after Frank N. Meyer who discovered it in Asia in 1908, is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin. The Meyer lemon is less acidic and sweeter with a more fragrant smelling rind. The Meyer lemon is seasonal, available mainly from December through May (Costco had bags of Meyer lemons this year, which I just noticed).

Obsessed with Limoncello from my first trip to Italy, I decided to use the Meyer lemons to first make my own Meyer Lemon Limoncello. I let my peels infuse for a month and the result was delicious.
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This Christmas, I plan on making Limoncello again with the Meyer lemons and giving homemade bottles as gifts during the holidays. There is so much you can do with the packaging and suggesting different ways to drink, cook and bake with Limoncello. If you want to try this recipe, any lemons will do, but take advantage of the Meyer variety if you have time.

A thick piece of lemon peel can be tied around the neck of the bottle. Create an "L" out of the lemon peel and glue to a gift tag.

A thick piece of lemon peel can be tied around the neck of the bottle. Create an “L” out of the lemon peel and glue to a gift tag.

Ingredients
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11-12 Meyer lemons, washed and dried
1 750-ml bottle vodka (80-to-100 proof)
2 cups sugar
2, 1 quart Mason jars
Strainer/Collander
Small funnel
Decorative/Sealable bottle(s) of your choice

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Cover the Meyer Lemon peels with vodka

Directions
Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler being careful to avoid the pith. Divide the lemon peels equally between your two, 1-Quart Mason jars. Fill each jar to the top with vodka and seal.

Fill jar to the top, covering all peels, and seal the lid

Fill jar to the top, covering all peels, and seal the lid

Place the Mason jars in a dark, cool spot and let the vodka infuse anywhere from one week to four weeks. *The longer you infuse the vodka the more lemon flavor you will get out of your Limoncello.

Vodka being infused with Meyer Lemons

Vodka being infused with Meyer Lemons

Once you are ready, place your collander/strainer over a measuring cup that is large enough to hold at least two cups but preferably four. Strain the infused vodka through the collander/strainer. It should yield four cups of vodka approximately. Add your four cups of infused vodka to a large pitcher.

Now you will prepare a simple sugar syrup which you will add to the infused vodka (once it has cooled). Bring two cups water and two cups sugar to a boil and stir. Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let the simple sugar syrup cool completely.

Once the simple sugar syrup has cooled completely, you will add it to your pitcher of infused vodka and stir. Be sure to taste it and make sure it is to your liking. I used a 1:1 ratio and thought it had the right kick.

Pour Limoncello into a decorative bottle that seals

Pour Limoncello into a decorative bottle that seals

You are ready to bottle your Limoncello. Pour into the decorative bottles you selected using a small funnel or a steady hand! I found the pretty bottles you see here at Cost Plus but am certain any variety and any size can be found online. Chill the finished Limoncello in the fridge or freezer for four to five hours before enjoying. I always keep my Limoncello in the freezer as I like to serve it cold and it will last much longer (up to a year).
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Limoncello Ideas

champagne and flowers

IMG_6151This simple and stunning floral arrangement will beautifully grace your holiday table or serve as a novel hostess gift. It works double-duty as a floral arrangement and a festive drink. Once the flowers have run their course, you can remove the oasis and pop open the bottle of bubbly.

Embellish arrangement with descriptive words for your Thanksgiving table

Embellish arrangement with descriptive Holiday Expressions tags

Surprisingly, this arrangement was made with just three bunches of flowers from my local Pavilions grocery store. The flowers and the Oasis floral foam came to a mere $18. The bottle of champagne (or sparkling wine) adds to the cost, but you can still create an affordable arrangement or gift on a budget. See this list from Gayot for their top Ten Sparkling Wines; all reasonably priced.

Start with three small bunches of florals

Start with three small bunches of florals

 

Alstroemerias in a deep burgundy play well against the Chrysanthemums

Alstroemerias in a deep burgundy play well against the Chrysanthemums


Items Needed

1 bottle Champagne or Sparkling Wine/Prosecco
Oasis floral foam
2 to 3 bunches of flowers
Chrysanthemum (burgundy and gold)
Alstroemeria (deep burgudy)
Fishing wire
Holiday Expressions tags (the ones pictured below are from the Paper Source)

Gently hang word tags from your arrangement with clear fishing wire

Gently hang Holiday Expressions tags from your arrangement with clear fishing wire

Directions
Make sure oasis is soaked in water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once soaked, take the oasis out of the water and let drain for a few minutes. Take the oasis and cut the edges so the shape is more circular. The oasis is easy to cut with a sharp knife – think of it as slicing a piece of cake. Once you have the desired circular shape, carefully push it down onto the chamapgne bottle until it is firmly in place. Water may drip down the bottle as you are working with it so keep a paper towel on hand to wipe up any moisture.

Trim corners of the square oasis into a circular shape

Trim corners of the square oasis into a circular shape

Gently push oasis onto top of bottle until firmly in place. Wipe up any moisture that may drip down the bottle while you are creating the arrangement

Gently push oasis onto top of bottle until firmly in place. Wipe up any moisture that may drip down the bottle while you are creating the arrangement

Start filling in around all sides of the oasis, one flower at a time. Be sure to fill in from the bottom as well for a round and robust effect. Keep filling in the oasis, varying the colors and types of flowers. Your goal is to create a round shape that is full. You don’t want to see any part of the green oasis. Once you have everything filled in, make sure you turn the bottle to look at it from all sides.

Start filling in the oasis from all sides, making sure to cover the bottom as well

Start filling in the oasis from all sides, making sure to cover the bottom as well

 

Keep filling in with flowers until you have a full effect and the oasis cannot be seen at all

Keep filling in with flowers until you have a full effect and the oasis cannot be seen at all

If you want to embellish the arrangements with special holiday words (like this version below for Thanksgiving), tie each small card with fishing wire and hang from the arrangement. To keep your arrangement alive, you can spritz with water every other day. This arrangement here lasted over a week.

I love how the fishing wire is invisible, creating a floating look with the word cards.

I love how the fishing wire is invisible, creating a floating look with the Holiday Expressions tags

Bold holiday colors showcase the beautiful arrangement

Bold holiday colors showcase the beautiful arrangement

create a vision board – a diy for every age

Lead Vision BoardI tried to get both of my kids to write resolutions for the new year. I thought our New Year’s escape to Ojai would be an ideal opportunity. I enVISIONed myself neatly writing down their respective resolutions during the three-hour drive, hoping they would motivate each other and find some new aspirations for 2014. Well…we snacked and listened to music and talked during the drive (to and from) and neither kid ever took the “resolution” bait.

Flash forward to the last Friday night of Christmas vacation. Sports practices and high school games were back in full swing, “voluntary” 3-day soccer camps were ongoing and my daughter’s science fair project loomed with a glaring annoyance. One day after soccer camp, my daughter talked her BFF into being her “timer” as she tracked the results of her science experiment. They finished and came inside to change for my son’s high school basketball game. When I came downstairs, ready to leave, both girls had on furry pajamas and were cozied up under their blankets watching a movie. Clearly, a brother’s basketball game was nowhere on their tuckered little radars.

And since they had a night of movie watching on their agenda I said, “Why don’t you create Vision Boards!” Yep – blank stares. Their interest perked up a little bit when I explained what a Vision Board is. Then I pulled up some “cool” examples on Pinterest and they said, “Yeah, we’ll do that.” I gathered up every magazine in the house so they could start cutting and tearing out images and words that appealed to them. I explained there was no right or wrong to the process. They simply needed to put aside those things that appealed to their passions and instincts without thinking too hard about it.

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I found black canvases at Aaron Brothers (cheers to the 2-for-1 penny sale) and when I got back from the basketball game, they were still on the couch cutting away with scraps strewn everywhere. The girls happily worked for at least four hours on their boards. My daughter’s friend created a board that highlighted fashion and her individual style. We embellised the border of the canvas with a few diamond specks and fresh rose petals for extra impact. My daughter’s board was a random smattering of sports, surf and expressions that fit her personality.

I used large pushpins to attach a thick burlap ribbon into the back of the canvas frame so they could hang their boards wherever they wanted. I also added an envelope on the back of each board that says “Goals” so they can drop in any goal that pops into their heads during the year.

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Apparently there IS a correct way to create a Vision Board and the method has proven effective in achieving goals and dreams that we each manifest internally (I found this article on Oprah online but there are hundreds of articles and examples out there).

Personally, I love the “no thinking,” creative, instinctual aspect of putting a Vision Board together. And rather than writing a list of resolutions that may just add to our daily pressure and checklists and failures, I prefer the easy roadmap style of this process. I think of a Vision Board as a gentle daily reminder of where each of us wants to go – in our own time and at our own pace.

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I have gathered a new stack of magazines and plan on having a few friends over for a “Vision Board” party (wine included). Happy New Year. Be good to yourselves.

seashell diy treasures

I have always enjoyed making ornaments to give away or to save for my family’s Christmas tree. I think my love for crafty ornament making began back in Ms. Meyer’s Kindergarten class when we made those salt dough ornaments (do you recall making those???). I don’t know about the rest of the country, but we Florida kids always wondered why our treasured ornaments were slightly moldy the next year…. “Ahhh, the good old Florida humidity!”
The Seashell ornaments shown below are sure to last a lifetime. My teenage daughter and her bestie loved making these seashell treasures. We have a bucket full of shells that we picked up from our local beaches over the years so these ornaments are a little more personal to us. You can purchase shells if you do not have your own collection. It’s also fun to personalize with last names, dates, or the name of your city and state. Make sure you have a glue gun for this activity as the shells need to be securely fastened.
Grab your teenager or little one and make an ornament for your tree or to give away as a gift. Years from now you will be so happy you took the time to make a seashell treasure. The best gift you can give your child is time, attention, love and memories….
PicMonkey Collage

Supply list to make 8 ornaments
8 large clear glass ornaments
1 small bottle metallic aqua blue paint
1 small bottle gold paint
Paint brushes
1 can glitter spray paint
Glitter (we used white, blue and red)
Shells (we bought two bags from Hobby Lobby and used some that we found on Siesta Key Beach)
Ribbon
Glitter Glue pen (to write your name, date, or city’s name)
Glue gun with extra glue sticks

PicMonkey Collage

Instructions
1. Carefully remove the top of the glass ornaments and fill 1/4 of the way with glitter.
2. You can leave your ornaments clear or you can spray paint the outside with the glitter spray paint. Let dry completely.
3. While ornaments are drying, paint your shells. We painted some of our shells and left some shells in their natural color.
4. Plug glue gun into power.
5. Being very careful with your glue gun, glue your shells onto your glass ornaments in the design of your liking.
6. Using the glitter gel pen, write the date, your name or your city or state’s name onto your ornaments.
7. Let the ornaments dry completely then replace the top of the ornaments.
8. Tie a ribbon onto the top of the ornaments for hanging.

PicMonkey Collage

smashing pumpkin floral for thanksgiving

Pumpkin Lead 1Part of our Cashmere Apron style is the “Entertain” component which is my personal favorite and the center of today’s post.

Everything about this floral arrangement was made with a modern freshness in mind – the pumpkin vase, the Brussel Sprout stalk used as a focal point, the cranberry garland and the persimmons and pears that add a pop of color to the finished decoration.

Follow the simple steps below and your table will be the hit of Thanksgiving. This arrangement was easy and inexpensive to make. All of the florals were purchased at Trader Joe’s (no bunch cost more than $5.99). I stopped at my local Hobby Lobby and found an antiqued black tray in the clearance section, thick burlap ribbon at 50% off and a monogrammed sign with a giant “T” to represent Thanksgiving or Thanks (and of course, my name is Terry). One more stop at Ralphs for a package of cranberries, persimmons and red bartlett pears and I was ready to go. Once all of my materials were laid out on the kitchen table, the arrangement took less than an hour to make. Try to add one unexpected element to your arrangement. I saw the fresh Brussel Sprout stalk at Trader Joe’s and knew it would add the unpredictable touch I was looking for.

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Pumpkin Collage 2

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Floral Tips Final