Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Srawberry Cucumber Infusion

When I think about summer, my imagination instantly goes to a summertime BBQ. I imagine the blazing sun beating down on me, with a smoking hot grill charring burgers, chicken and dogs! Only needing a moment of relief from the suns warmth, I take a sip of a perfectly balanced and refreshingly cold cocktail!

That savior of a cocktail is a homemade infusion, made just to my liking!

 Strawberry & Cucumber Infused Vodka
All you'll need is
-1 bottle of vodka 
-1 container of strawberries
-1 medium cucumbers peeled and seeded

Infusing vodka is an extremely simple and rewarding process. You can combined any variation of flavors, however, for summer I love the crisp, refreshing taste of cucumbers with the sweet flavor of strawberries.

There are two way to go about this infusion.  
1. If you are interested in having more cucumber come through, add the cucumber when you add in the strawberries.  
2.If you are interested in having more strawberry come through, add the cucumber two or three days after you add the strawberries.
(When I originally made this, I was completely surprised at how strong the cucumber was and removed some of the slices and added in more strawberries. At first, I went with 1 container of strawberries to 3 medium cucumbers.)

Before you throw all the ingredients into a container and call it a day, there is a bit of prepping that needs to be done.

After you've rinsed off both the strawberries and cucumbers, peel the cucumbers and cut them in half length wise, then take a spoon and carve out all the seeds along with any other pulp like mess. 
Next, cut the greens from the strawberries and take out the white centers.  This gets rid of any possible bitterness the strawberries might give off while infusing.  It is not totally necessary, but I do recommend it. 
 Once all of the ingredients are ready, chop them up to a desired size, trying to cut them neatly as possible.

When the fruit is cut up, place it into an air tight container and cover them entirely with vodka.  It is important to make sure you have every piece of fruit covered so that nothing goes bad, which could ruin your entire infusion. 

 For this infusion I decided to keep everything in a glass dispenser, which is a great and easy presentation for a summer BBQ. Another option is to put the infusion in large mason jars.
The final step is placing the infusion in a dark cool area.  This infusion took about a week to make, however depending on the combination you use it could take more or less time.
It is a good idea to check your infusion every day or every other,  to make sure you are enjoying the taste. If you put it in a mason jar, give it a good shake, or good stir if it is in a dispenser. Once the infusion has reached your desired strength in flavor, strain out the fruit.  If you are displaying this at a BBQ, replace the old colorless fruit for new vibrant fruit!

Some simple and refreshing recipe suggestions for this infusion would be:

Strawberry Cucumber Vodka and Soda
1 1/2 oz infused vodka
Fill the rest of the glass with seltzer
Serve over ice

Strawberry Cucumber Cosmo
2 1/2 oz infused vodka
1/2 oz lime juice
1 oz triple sec
Splash of cranberry juice so that it is pink, not red
Serve up or over ice 

Some other infusion flavors I've tried are:
-Lemon & Mint
-Carrot & Orange
-Lemon & Orange Zest
(For martinis and Bloody Mary's, very interesting)

What is your favorite summertime cocktail?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Six Must Have Beauty Essentails

I can spend hours in a store perusing the different beauty products, whether it's an assortment of lotions, serums, or toners.  After my fair share of trial and errors, I've finally discovered some of my favorite frugal beauty essentials that wont break the bank! There are countless beauty products out there that will cost $75 for a dollop of lotion. I just don't see how that is in any way practical, no matter how "amazing" it may be. So, the way I go about purchasing is by using an assortment of relatively cheap products and splurge on only one or two items!

To begin, I always wash my face with 
I have been using this soap for years. It has a very mild scent, does not dry out my skin, and creates such a creamy lather leaving my face extremely clean.  You should keep in mind that the 'gentle exfoliating' aspect of this soap is just that, gentle, so don't expect it to be a face scrub.  The tiny blue beads are only meant to moisturize your face while cleaning.  

My next beauty buy is Witch Hazel!
I've been using witch hazel for about 4 years and absolutely love it.  The main beauty purpose of witch hazel is to clear pores, reduce redness, create an even skin tone, and also reduces acne.  Every morning after my shower I dab a little witch hazel on a cotton ball and wipe it over my entire face. I've heard that it is best to wipe in an upward motion, because wiping down can eventually cause wrinkles, and no one needs any of that nonsense. 

 I swear by this little guy! I know we've all been there, when we have a hideous Mars-like zit in the middle of our forehead or hanging out by our chin. All we want is for it to GO AWAY! Well, if you become slightly obsessive about applying this spot treatment you will see some significant shrinkage over the course of a day!

Next on the list is Epsom Salt!
 Epsom salt is the All-Star of the beauty world!  Not only is it used for foot soaks or full body soaks in a relaxing bath, but it is perfect for a quick body scrub when mixed with your favorite body wash. However, my personal favorite is mixing Epsom salt with conditioner as a scalp treatment.  A quick in the shower scalp scrub, or a longer scalp treatment will get rid of any product build up or dry skin hanging out up there, leaving your hair with tons of volume and bounce!

I know ladies, we don't like to admit it but sometimes we all have a little 'stache going on! This product is amazing because you don't have to put yourself through the torture of getting your lip waxed, which takes off a complete layer of skin and leaves a huge red line across you face, which might as well be a blinking neon sign. What's also great about this creme is that they provide you with a smaller lotion to apply to the area afterwards, leaving it soft and smooth!

Last but not least, my splurge item, the Elizabeth Arden Peel & Reveal Revitalizing Treatment

On days when I need some extra pampering or before a special occasion, I whip this bad boy out. After applying a complete layer of this sticky goodness with the adorable little brush I wait for it to dry. Once dried, I peel it off starting from my chin and pull upwards.  It removes the excess dirt and oil leaving my skin feeling tight and clean!

If you have a beauty essential of your own, I'd love to know, so please share some of your great finds in the comment section!