Current Obsession: Hot Tea for Cold Weather

By  January 05, 2015


When the temperatures drop, there is nothing more comforting to me than a good, hot tea. I drink tea year around because it promotes health, soothes and calms, and can give me energy or help me relax depending on what my body needs. And in winter, there are even more reasons to love tea, from fighting colds to warming up and even boosting your mood. Here’s a handy guide to find the perfect hot tea for cold weather:

To Calm: Smooth flavors and pleasing aromas are key to finding a warm beverage to relax and unwind with. The essential oils of both chamomile and lavender are often used to de-stress and even aid in sleep. Studies have shown that even smelling lavender can slow your nervous system down, promoting feelings of relaxation and encouraging sleep. A cup of calming tea can ease anxious feelings too. However, it’s important to find a scent and taste that works for you – if you don’t enjoy the scent of lavender, for example, it may have the opposite effect!

Combat a Cold: When trying to prevent or fight off a cold, look for teas that contain high amounts of antioxidants and immune boosting properties. Green tea gives you a great dosage of powerful antioxidants, while ginger tea is traditionally used for aiding digestion, soothing an upset stomach, and general pain relief. Adding lemon to your ginger (or lemon on its own) is a great way to get in more vitamin C during the winter months to help fight off colds.

Warm You Up: A hot beverage warms the body on the outside, but warming teas specifically warm your body up on the inside, too. In traditional Chinese medicine, warming teas are made of spices that actually offer a warming sensation, while giving your metabolism a boost. Try ginger or chai tea or create your own warming tea by adding a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Beat the Winter Blues: In addition to the benefits I’ve listed above, some teas can help boost your mood. If the calming scents of chamomile and lavender aren’t quite enough to treat feelings of depression, these may help: Some studies suggest turmeric as a natural antidepressant (as well as anti-flammatory and anti-cancer benefits), so turmeric tea is a good choice when looking for a mood booster. Ginseng has also been known to aid in the production of serotonin, which is essential for maintaining your mood.

MP Headshot 2 finalMichelle Phan is a young digital pioneer, who trail-blazed her way in the world of fashion; beauty on YouTube. With a growing global community of over 6 million, Michelle’s videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times, making her one of the most watched talents in the digital space. She is an award-winning content creator who produces, directs, stars in and edits all of her own work, and has released over 800 videos since 2007. Her unprecedented, signature video style clean, artful, and expertly edited, with clear, easy-to-follow titles and voiceover instruction helped solidify her position as the #1 Beauty Guru and the 3rd most subscribed female on YouTube.

The Best Bubbly Cocktails to Toast to 2015

By  December 30, 2014

2015 is upon us, and it’s time to raise a glass and toast to an epic New Year! The bubbly is sure to flow freely during the festivities, but it doesn’t need to be boring. We’ve found a few fresh recipes to shake up your spirits and those of your guests no matter where you get the party started. Cheers!

Pinnacle New Year’s Sparkler

1½ oz. Pinnacle Pomegranate Vodka
4 oz. Chilled Champagne
Splash of Grenadine

Pour champagne into a champagne glass and top with vodka.

Elderflower Fizz


1 oz. Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
1 oz. St. Germain Liqueur
1/2 oz. Lime
Garnish with small mint sprig
Brut Champagne

Place gin, liqueur and lime juice into a cocktail mixing glass. Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into Champagne glass and top with champagne.

Berry Bubbly


1 ½ oz. CIROC Red Berry
½ oz. Simple Syrup
½ oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
Top with Champagne

Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with a strawberry wedge.

Lavish Spritzer


1 oz. Belvedere Vodka
1 oz. Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach*
1 oz. lemon sour **
2-3 oz. Chandon Rose
Garnish: Orange slice + 2 raspberries
*Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach can be substituted with Cordon Rouge & still delicious.
** Lemon sour: 1 part lemon juice to 1 part simple syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Squeeze in the charred orange half and drop in the drink. Roll contents and serve.

Cloud 9 by Mark Drew of Critical Mass 


2 oz. Raspberry Infused NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin*
1/2 oz. Fresh lemon Juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
Dash Peychaud Bitters
Top with Champagne

Shake all ingredients (excluding the champagne) together in a cocktail shaker, strain into an highball glass over cubed ice. Top up with champagne and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a lemon zest or a couple of raspberries.

*For the Raspberry-Infused Gin: Place a small container of raspberries into a mason jar add 1 bottle of Nolet’s leave to steep for two weeks.

Pomegranate Sparkler


1 tsp. fresh pomegranate seeds
3 oz. VOGA Prosecco
½ oz. Pomegranate Juice

Scoop 1 teaspoon of fresh pomegranate seeds into a champagne glass. Pour in pomegranate juice. Top with VOGA Prosecco.

Cupcake Berry Holiday Cocktail


½ c. sugar
1 c. fresh cranberries
1 oz. ruby red grapefruit vodka
2 oz. Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco
1 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. black currant juice

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, dissolve sugar into 1 1/2 cups water. Add cranberries and simmer for 5 minutes, or until softened. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain, discard liquid, and place cranberries on a tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Chill vodka, Prosecco, and juices, then mix in a champagne glass. Garnish with skewer of 4 or 5 frozen candied cranberries. Reserve the rest for another drink.

Rum is the New Champagne Daiquiri
1½ oz. Caliche Rum
½ oz. Simple Syrup
½ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Top with Brut Champagne (or Dry Sparkling Wine)

Shake first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a flute glass and top with brut champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.

The Best Bottled Gifts for December Drinkers

By  December 22, 2014

Last-minute holiday gift shopping doesn’t have to be a doozy. Get boozy instead with beautiful bottled gifts the celebratory drinkers on your list are sure to appreciate. Don’t just head to the local liqueur store hoping to wing it, though. We’ve curated our favorite alcoholic beverages to bring all your relations this season. You’ll find a few cocktail recipes along the way– you can include them in the card.

Party Pointers: Introducing Easy Elegance to Your Next Holiday Dinner Party

By  December 12, 2014

It’s easy to get stuck in a daze during the holidays, especially when you’re hosting a dinner party. But overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed don’t need to be your preparty norm. This season, bring beauty and creativity into your festivities without the usual preparation freak-out with subtle, rather than overboard, elegance. These stylish solutions for making your soiree stand out are stress-free but statement making, with the power to take your party from drab to fab.

1. Place cards
Find a beautiful way to personalize each guest’s place at the dinner table with a posh place card.  You can type attendees’ names on pretty, festive paper and then cut them down to size, or you can simply write out your guests’ names with a nice pen. The older kids can even help with this one. This detail takes less than minutes but makes the entire tablescape look much more refined.

2. Signature cocktail
Come up with a cocktail with a name that’s representative of your party. For an easy cheat, look up a unique drink on the Internet that you can make your own for the night. This extra addition will take your party to a more personal, elegant level.

3. Printed menu
Add the elegance of a fine-dining restaurant to your party with a printed menu at each person’s plate. Type the names of the dishes you plan to serve in a calligraphy-style font and print your work on pretty paper. All done.

4. Stylish centerpieces
A candelabra, a fresh floral bouquet, or a holiday-inspired arrangement are all fantastic additions to the table. Make sure the dinner table looks more dressed up than it does on a usual night, even if this just means lighting some candles.

5. Color scheme or theme
A color palette or overarching theme will bring everything at your soiree, from the place settings to the decor, full circle. Select colors that fit the festivities and are easy to find, then simply decorate in those hues.

Here’s a necessary extra tidbit of party-prep advice: Make sure the family knows who the designated kitchen cook is! Is it just us, or does this scene look oh-too-familiar during the holiday season?

Rock Out In Style With Urbanears New Marc Jacobs Headphones

By  November 28, 2014


True Marc Jacobs fans love that you can rock his style from head to toe. From headgear to footwear, even popular perfume (hello, Daisy!), you can fill your closets and cupboards with all things MJ. And now you can add to your collection and listen to your favorite tunes in signature Marc Jacobs style. Urbanears, the distinctive and colorful European (verify) headphones company, has partnered with the bold designer to create Urbanears Marc, an exclusive collaboration with Marc by Marc Jacobs.

These are headphones made for slouching in style through a gritty urban landscape. Headphones made for glamorous airport travel. Statement headphones in three styles, in colors “inspired by various tones of nature and representative of the elements that come together to give music its raw beauty.” OK then. What does that mean? You can get earbuds or on-ear headphones that are two-toned. The “Berries” headphones speak for themselves, very on-trend for fall. “Ocean” is a bold cobalt blue paired with turquoise. “Oil” is the coolest, IMO – evocative of an oil slick on asphalt, they’re rainbow hued paired with black. Super fly. Humlan headphones are $60 and the Kransen plus earbuds are $45, available at Urbanears.com.

Contributing Editor, Patrice Grell Yursik is the creator of Afrobella.com, one of the first blogs to celebrate the beauty of natural hair and ladies of all skin tones and sizes. Affectionately called the Godmother of Brown Beauty Blogging, Patrice takes her readers inside unique beauty, fashion and cultural experiences.

Deck the Paws: 10 Holiday Treats for Your Furry Friends

By  November 26, 2014

Deck the Paws: 10 Holiday Treats for Your Furry Friends



Animal adorers know how quickly pets become a part of the family, so including them in the holiday festivities is simply a given. Add them to your seasonal gift list! We’ve picked the paw-fect treats for all your four-legged loves.

1. Holiday Treats
The holidays call for special spoiling—which means cookies for us and our pups. Pet parents just can’t go wrong when they come home with a bag of delicious treats for their pooch.

2. Whimzees™ Holiday Tin
This festive tin of natural dog chews from Whimzees™ is designed to keep canines happy and healthy. Pups have yet to pick up on the fact that these tartar- and plaque-preventing treats are both vegetarian and gluten-free. Or, if they have, they sure don’t seem to mind.  Holiday Tin available in-store only.

3.  Petlinks System™ Wild Thing Electronic Motion Cat Toy
If you plan to give your feline friend some special holiday snacks, be sure to balance them out with extra physical activity during playtime. This snazzy spinning toy will encourage your cat to channel her natural instincts to chase, pounce, and leap. Shop interactive cat toys.

4. Holiday Argyle Dog Sweater 
Bundle up your pup in proper sweater-weather attire with an argyle pullover. Not only will he look cute, but he’ll also stay comfy and cozy in this stretchy little piece, which comes in multiple sizes. And, of course, Fido’s festive fashion will fit right in to the holiday décor with its seasonally appropriate coloring. Lookin’ good, dog. Shop holiday apparel.

5. PetPals™ Group Cabana Cat Condo
Here’s one for the felines! Revamp your cat’s real estate this year with a cool cabana. Made of thick woven rope, the easily transportable cat pad provides the perfect hideaway to keep your kitty feeling warm and secure.

6. Harmony™ Accent Table Cat Scratcher
A new scratching post will make your cat’s holiday season purrrfect. This one boasts a slew of assets: easy assembly, Sisal-wrapped legs and scratchers that offer a variety of scratching surfaces, and a refillable top cardboard portion. Even Santa’s workshop couldn’t come up with something so feline friendly.

7. Holiday Tennis Ball Tug
Play a festive game of fetch this season with this red-and-white-striped tennis ball tug toy. In fact, it’s the only candy-cane confection that’s appropriate for your dog. Shop holiday toys.

8. Holiday Gift Box With Rope Dog Toy
Add some seasonally appropriate toys to your four-legged friend’s playtime. With a rope handle to tug on and a stuffed section to chew on, this toy will keep dogs occupied throughout the holidays. Shop holiday toys.

9. You and Me™ Holiday Plaid Paw Stocking
Every member of the family has a stocking strung by the fireplace, so why shouldn’t your pet, too? This very special stocking for your four-legged friend is adorned with a plaid paw print pattern. If he’s good, perhaps it will be full of treats come Christmas morning.

10. Brinkmann™ Pet Gusset Bed
Give the gift of luxury to your dog by snagging her a big new bed to call home. We humans know how amazing a new mattress feels; why not pamper your pooch the same way? Available in-store only. Shop dog beds.


10 Thanksgiving Cocktails to Celebrate the Start of the Holiday Season

By  November 26, 2014

Regardless of who you spend Thanksgiving with this year, we know there will be lots of love and plenty of plates of food to feast upon. A festive fall cocktail can complement to a great meal, and these libations are perfect for not only raising a glass but raising the holiday spirit.

Fall For You


1 oz. Belvedere Bloody Mary
½ oz. pressed apple juice
Dash spiced bitters

Build in a rocks glass with ice and top with Apple Cider. Garnish with apple, chili and cucumber slices.

Pumpkin Rum Old Fashioned by Eddie Fuentes from Finka Table & Tap


1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters
½ oz. Homemade Pumpkin Pie Syrup
2 oz. Caliche Rum
Orange Twist
Toasted Marshmallow
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Add the liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a tumbler over ice and garnish with either a toasted marshmallow or roasted pumpkin seeds.

 Bitter but True by Chris Kearns of Burning Waters


1/2 oz. Tequila Avión Reposado
3/4 oz. Lime
3/4 oz. Agave syrup
1/2 oz. Campari
5-7 Mint leaves
3 drops of vanilla essence
Lime wheel and mint sprig for garnish

Combine all ingredients in an ice filled shaker, shake vigorously until chilled. Double strain over ice in a double rocks or double old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and mint sprig.

Cruzan Peach Cobbler


1 1/2 oz. Cruzan Peach Rum
1/4 oz. Turbinado Simple Syrup*
1/2 oz. Dark Sherry
1/4 oz. Blackberry Liqueur
1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
Orange Peel

Combine all ingredients over ice, shake and pour into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with fresh grated Nutmeg & flamed Orange Peel.

*For the Turbinado Syrup: 

Combine 8 parts Hot Water and 8 parts Turbinado Sugar. Stir until Sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate. Will last for 30 days.

Elevated Outcrop by John McCarthy at Cedar Local

2 oz. Snow Leopard Vodka
1/2 oz. Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
1/4 oz. Suze Saveur d’ Autrefois
1/4 oz. Coriander & Green Peppercorn syrup
1 dash Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Serve stirred with a large ice cube in a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon wheel or peel and fresh cracked coriander and green peppercorn.

Cider Punch by The Sea Fire Grill


4 oz. apple cider
1 oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. Ron Zacapa 23 year old rum
A pinch of fresh nutmeg
A pinch of fresh cinnamon
1 clove
1 quartered Granny Smith Apple (peeled)
1 quartered fresh orange

Mull apple cider, Granny Smith apple, orange and spices together. Then remove orange and blend, mixing in the grand marnier and rum with cider mixture. Chill for a few hours and strain. Add garnish if desired.

Berry Holiday Cocktail


1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 oz. ruby red grapefruit vodka
2 oz. Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco
1 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. black currant juice
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, dissolve sugar into 1 1/2 cups water. Add cranberries and simmer for 5 minutes, or until softened. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain, discard liquid, and place cranberries on a tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Chill vodka, Prosecco, and juices, then mix in a champagne glass. Garnish with skewer of 4 or 5 frozen candied cranberries. Reserve the rest for another drink.

Thanksgiving Harvest byTodd Thrasher


2 oz. Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
1 1/2 oz. Pecan Peach Water*
1 liberal dash of Peach Bitters
In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients with ice and stir for thirty seconds. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a large lemon twist.

*For the Pecan Peach Water:
1 quart of Pecans, broken up
2 Peaches, roughly chopped
2 quarts of Water
½ quart of Honey

On a baking sheet spread pecans out evenly and put into a 300 degree, pre-heated oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the oil starts to come out of the pecans. While you are baking the pecans, add water to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add honey and peaches. Transfer pecans to the honey mixture and reduce heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then strain through a fine chinois and then a coffee filter (there should be no solids in the final mixture).

Cranberry Orange Margarita


1 ½ oz. Sauza Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
½ oz. DeKuyper Triple Sec
4 oz. cranberry juice
2 oz. orange juice
2 oranges
½ cup cranberries, frozen
2 tbsp. sugar

First make your garnishes. Freeze ½ cup of cranberries. Using a channel knife cut a long spiral from on orange (see if you can make it all the way in one try!) and cut into 6 inch pieces. Twist the peels around your bar spoon and reserve for garnish.

Zest the other orange with a spice grater to remove just the peel and none of the pith and combine with sugar.Cut the zested orange into wedges. Rub a wedge of orange around half the rim of your glasses. Roll the glasses through the sugared orange zest.

In a shaker, combine the rest of the sugar and orange zest mixture with the cranberry juice, orange juice, Sauza Blue Silver, orange liqueur, and the juice from the orange. Twist the orange peel over the drink and place on the prepared glass. Top with frozen cranberries and serve your cocktail!

Peachy Queen by Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark

2 oz. bourbon whiskey
¾ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ tbs. brown sugar clove simple syrup
Two dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz. IZZE Sparkling Peach

Combine first four ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 15 seconds. Pour into a coupe glass and top with IZZE Sparkling Peach. Garnish with a pinch of ground cloves and toast to a peachy autumn.

To make the simple syrup, combine ½ cup brown sugar with ½ water in a saucepan with two dozen whole cloves. Heat on low until sugar is dissolved and allow to cool, then strain into a jar and store the remainder in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Sabrina Soto’s Top Tips for a Thrilling Thanksgiving

By  November 24, 2014

SabrinaSoto-Thanksgiving-TipsHosting Thanksgiving can seem like a daunting task, but HGTV’s haute hostess Sabrina Soto has a few insider tips on making the most of your seasonal spread.

Don’t Stuff Tom The Turkey – Well, not completely anyway if you need to save time. Soto suggests keep the stuffing separate for faster cook time. If time is really of the essence, you can serve the breast first to speed things up further. “The cooking time is faster for white meat and I find you have much less turkey wasted at the end of the day but still enough for leftovers,” she explained.

Stir Up Mulled Wine Slowly – Skip the stovetop this year and mix up your mulled wine in a slow cooker especially if you plan to serve a slew of sides. “Not only will you get rich flavors, but your stovetop stays wide-open for meal prep!” Soto noted. She likes to blend Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi wine with two teaspoons of ground ginger to kick her mother’s special recipe up a notch.

Get Familiar with Family Recipes – Mixing in a few family favorites alongside new ones you’ve discovered and collected will make the most of your holiday menu. You can even add different ingredients from your childhood to put a spin on a classic dish. “This year, I’m making my Heritage Stuffing – for me, adding a special ingredient like green plantains to a holiday classic is the perfect way to honor my Cuban heritage and make sure a piece of my family’s history makes it to the dinner table,” Soto shared.

Fashion Fresh and Festive Centerpieces – Gourds aren’t reserved just for pies and soups; they can also spice up the Thanksgiving tablescape. Instead of dotting the table with fall veggies, cut off the top third of the gourd with a sharp knife before scooping out the seeds and flesh. With a quick rinse and a water re-fill, you can add fresh flowers for a unique vase.

8 Gifts To Give Your Thanksgiving Hostess

By  November 24, 2014


With the big Thanksgiving meal just around the corner, you’re either prepping your kitchen exhaustively or frantically shopping for the perfect gift for the hostess who’s prepping hers. Since we’ve always been taught to never show up to someone’s house empty-handed, bringing a wonderful hostess gift to your Thanksgiving dinner is a must. While it can be tricky to pick out something she’ll absolutely love, we believe it’d be hard for her to dislike any of the items on this list (maybe she’ll put it to immediate use on her Thanksgiving table!). There’s something cozy, something sleek, something trendy…and, of course, something sweet. Bring her one of these goodies and there’s no doubt you’ll be invited back for next year’s feast.

Glam, Gears, and Grapes: Winning Wine Country in a BMW

By  November 13, 2014


If Chanel were an animal, Choupette the couture cat would be the feline up front. If Vogue were a haircut, Anna Wintour‘s chic fringed bob would become its representative. If Kimye were a food, some type of high-class caviar would probably best align with their aesthetic. Feel free to think of your own comparisons–it’s quite fun.

As for this round of creativity, I’m wrapping it up with what Glam would be if it were an automobile. The Glam girl, like myself, loves modern luxury and classic fashion with a fresh take, incorporating this type of aesthetic into her life through her savvy style. She’s elegant but practical, refined but with a wild side. The Glam girl is the new BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.

This mega-babe motorcar was my mode of transportation for a tantalizing two day trip to wine country from the San Francisco Bay Area. Along the way I became quite the car connoisseur, a French Laundry believer, and a Napa Valley hot air balloon ride alum. Follow my Instagram Diary for all the glam details on my gear-and-grape themed getaway.