Monday, April 29, 2013

Everyday Luxe: Coffee & Tea, Please.

Growing up in the land of Starbucks & Tully's on every street corners has its advantages and major disadvantages. Advantage? Swing on by the drive-thru Starbucks at the entrance to my high school. Disadvantage? Being a caffeine-addict at the tender(?) age of 12. Believe it or not, I'm not short due to my coffee-fueled adolescence, but just do to genetics.

The little A on the left is Starbucks, the big A on the right is my high school. Not shown: 3 more coffee shops within 5 minutes.

I quit coffee pretty much cold turkey when I entered college (with, of course, the rare exception of nearly all-nighters spent in Tyler House's dining room) and haven't really drank much since. I allow myself a sabbatical from my coffee-diet in the warm summer months, when I once again become an iced-coffee and frappuccino fiend (I miss you Woodstar Cafe).

Woodstar!

How do I survive the winter sans coffee? It's pretty simple - I switch to tea. I hated tea all through college (although I did grow obsessed with Friday Afternoon Teas at Smith due to the delicious treats) but I realized later that I actually am just very picky with tea. I hate fruit (watered-down-warm-juice) and herbal (medicinal-yuck) and I will only do green tea if it is a side to delicious Chinese food. But black tea? Yes please.

One of the highs of my last trip to Disney World with the fabulous Kayli was that at Epcot there is a Twinings Tea Shop:



Kayli and I stocked up big time. Safe to say it was my only major purchase at Disney this time. So worth it.


Let's get onto the luxe of Everyday Luxe.

Coffee & Tea

The most expensive drink you can order at Starbucks amounts to $47.30 (article) but besides having a lot of espresso shots has a bunch of filler items (banana, strawberries, chocolate curls).

But what is the most expensive drip coffee you can get?

Look no further than the brand Kopi Luwak.

Their coffee comes from Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, is processed through a civet-like cat. So basically a cat eats the fruit, and "deposits" the coffee beans on the jungle floor because they cannot digest them. The natural fermentation process gives the beverage unique characteristics that no other beverage can replace.



Civet, civet cat, Kopi Luwak, Kopi Luwak coffee, coffee, coffee cat
Civet!

The cheapest option found on their website, the Gold Blend Medium Roast, costs roughly $31 USD for a 200 gram package, or around 36 cups of coffee if you use 1 tablespoon per cup.


Civet, civet cat, Kopi Luwak, Kopi Luwak coffee, coffee, coffee cat
Or you could for for their Box Gift Set, which will give you around 27 cups of coffee for the price of $346 USD plus a fancy cup. If you're going to get the coffee state-side you better start asking your local cafe now. Only a few of them get it, and sometimes only once a year. At Bean There in Virginia - they charged $20 for an 8 oz cup.


Civet, civet cat, Kopi Luwak, Kopi Luwak coffee, coffee, coffee cat

It should be no surprise that one of most expensive teas in the world also starts out as excrement.

An entrepreneur created a fertilizer from panda feces that he uses to grow tea leaves. He claims the finished product is fragrant and smooth. It's not currently for sale to the public, but from its initial run cost drinkers about $3,500 for 50g, or about 16 cups of tea.


I borrowed this photo from Reuters

The most expensive tea in the world puts both the panda poop tea and the cat-poop coffee to shame.

Dà Hóng Páo is a prestigious oolong tea that is still sourced from the original bushes that the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor drank from. Typically the tea is not for sale, and only presented to honored guests, leaders, and emperors. The tea has only been sold at auction a handful of times, the last time for about $21,000 for 20 grams (that's less than 1 oz). It's estimated value is about $20 million USD per kilogram.



You can't buy tea from the original treas, but you can buy it from their clones. A 1lb bag will set you back $110 at the online shop of Harney & Sons. Or you can purchase it through  TeaSpring.com - $56 for 200 grams.



Harney & Sons, tea, expensive tea, Dà Hóng Páo, Da Hong Pao
The most expensive tea bag? Created in 2005 to celebrate PG Tips 75th Birthday, it is worth over $14,000. Why the high price? Well it was created by jewelry specialist Boodles and contains 280 diamonds and regular tea leaves.

PG tips, tea, expensive tea, diamonds, diamonds tea
Diamonds are a tea's best friend!

Did I mention they gave it away as part of a contest? Jealous.
That's all! Now I'm going back to my cup of Twinings and more work.
~Charlotte

Friday, April 26, 2013

Weekend Wishes: Spring Touches

After a hectic work week I am definitely looking forward to the relative calm of the weekend. I still have my retail job on Saturday evening, but I definitely think I can get through my to-do list.

Taking inspiration from this drool-worthy article on the home of Refinery29's Creative Director and applying it to the Mountain Prep apartment for Spring:



Trying to infuse summer (Ijustcan'twait) into everyday with cute nautical inspirations: 
Plate via Zara Home.

Avoiding the temptation of buying these dresses at Madewell:


Afternoon Dress in Navy via here.

Silk Cami Dress in Flora via here.


Trying out new places in Denver:


View House in LoDo, website.


Liks Icecream, website.


The Populist, website.


Also on the agenda:
  • Looking at patio furniture - any ideas for cheap and durable?
  • Planting my balcony garden
  • Playing with Sprinkles the iPad
  • Riding the new light rail system for free on Saturday
  • City-wide party at Union Station with free food
  • Prepping libations for next weekend (more on that next week)


Hope you enjoy your weekend!

~Charlotte




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday's Treat: Banana Bread

I grew up in a household where bunches of bananas were bought...and then left untouched. Let's just say we had a lot of over-ripe banana treats growing up. Besides Banana Frosties (I will have to dig out the recipe for that one another day) the house favorite was Banana Bread.

I'm not sure what recipe my mom used....mostly because I've been too lazy to ever ask her... but she always ruined the bread dropping in my nemeses: walnuts. Ugh-  it's the worst thing you can do to a treat - make it all healthy and stuff.

Bananana Bread. 




I made this a long time ago based on this All Recipes one.

 Ingredients:

2 cups flour (all purpose)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) - softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
6 (yes, 6) large over ripe bananas

First off, if you don't want to wait until you have an abundance of over-ripe bananas floating around the house, I have a trick for you. Buy a bunch, put them in a brown paper bag for 2-3 days, and roll the end up and secure it. You will have ugly over-ripe bananas. OR you can go to your local 7-11 (many of them sell bananas) and I've had good luck finding a bunch when my local grocery store only had the green ones.

Seriously, you need a lot of these.


Steps:

1) Is your butter softened? Proceed to step 3. No? You are failing at this already- go to Step 2.
2) Let you butter sit out for an hour or two at room temperature. Do NOT microwave it. You will ruin everything. Softened? Go to step 3.
3) Turn your oven on, and to 350F.
4) Mash all the ripe bananas together in a bowl or glass measuring cup. I have good luck using a fork. Do NOT blend them it will be too smooth and not very rustic. You should have over 2 cups of banana mush.

Mutilated bananas.


5) Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Sift together.
6) In bowl #2, mix together soft butter and brown sugar, until it is almost a paste..a delicious paste.

Delicious paste!

7) Crack those eggs in a tiny bowl and beat them if you haven't already. Slowly pour the egg mixture into bowl #2, and mix together.

Egg waterfall!
8) Pour the banana mush (slowly) into bowl #2 and incorporate it with the butter/sugar/egg mixture.
9) Grab bowl #1 (I'm sure he has been lonely) and slowly pour about a quarter of the banana/butter/egg/sugar mixture into the flour mixture. Mix and add more of the banana mixture. Repeat until the flour mixture is just moist.

Almost done!

10) Grease/butter/spray a loaf pan.
11) Pour the mixture into the loaf pan - it will be okay if the mixture almost reaches the top. I use a 9x5 clear Pyrex/Anchor loaf pan.
12) Bake for 60- 65 minutes.

It's a miracle!

13) Check the bread by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it's clean you are good to go. If the toothpick has batter goop on it, you want to up the oven temperature to 400F, and bake for another 5-7 minutes.

Just hanging out in the oven..
14) Once done, pull out of the oven and let cool. 
15) Eat, enjoy, pretend you are a monkey.

Additions/Alternatives:
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cinnamon
  • Chocolate chips (thanks, Rae)
  • Walnuts (just don't tell me about it)

Muffins: Pour into a prepared muffin tray and bake at 350F for about 20-25 minutes.



Words of wisdom: don't pull a Sylvia Plath and stick your head in the oven.


Enjoy!

Charlotte


Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend Wrap-up

This basically sums up my weekend:


Correct spelling from Starbucks.



Banana Bread for Thursday's post.



Tiny friend at work.



The perfect Summer print.



The biggest challenge.



Madewell Event: treats + deals.



New toy.

Her name is Sprinkles.


Posting from the new toy right now!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday's Treat: A Sundae for Thursday


Once upon a time in 2011, I worked for an ice cream parlor as a hostess. It absolutely hated it, though the sundaes were beyond compare. Originally I was going to recreate their peanut butter sundae, but while I was at the grocery store gathering supplies, a bar of chocolate caught my eye: milk chocolate with crushed up bits of pretzel. Into my basket it went, and onto my sundae when I got home, my plans of making a peanut butter sundae totally abandoned. Maybe some other time.

I also had a cookie that I needed to eat (that my wonderful roommate set aside for me).

So, this treat wound up becoming the dessert version of C.O.R.N. (For those of you not from the Midwest, it means "Clean Out the Refrigerator Now"...meaning you put random stuff you need to use up in a casserole dish, bake it, and serve it for dinner. I am incredibly grateful to my father for imposing a "No casseroles of any kind" law in our household growing up.)

So. Here's my sundae:



I put the cookie on the botton of my dish.



Then I beat the sh-t out of my chocolate bar with a rolling pin.



I put two scoops of vanilla ice cream on top of the cookie and sprinkled them with chocolate bar debris. Then I made a mountain of whipped cream on top of it all and decorated with very small bits of chocolate. (...I guess now's as good of time as any to tell Charlotte that I used some of her whipped cream...)

And then I ate it all like I was Dudley Dursley.

I will, of course, be having a sugar crash at any moment, so I better reheat my coffee as an added precaution.

Have a wonderful rest of your week.

xx, Caroline.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Everday Luxe: Hair Care

I felt I couldn't limit this post to just shampoo, especially since I know there are some ridiculously expensive hair care products out there. Ladies will spend anything for perfect hair - the hair care product market generated nearly $49 billion globally in 2010 (source) and the salon services generated about $72 billion in 2011 (source). That's a lot of money spent on hair.

Hair Care & Repair


Philip B's White Truffle Collection Set is a "botanically powered" shampoo and conditioner. It contains white truffle oil from Italy, lavender, hops, nettle and comfrey.




 This set will set you back $115 at PhilipB's website.



Philip B also offers a $140 shampoo: Russian Amber Imperial Shampoo found here.

Have you ever wanted to smother your hair with caviar? Here is your chance; Keratase's Chronologiste counteracts hair damage using Mimetic Caviar Pearls, immersed in sea water and a cream masque.



Available at Keratase's website for $149.


Frederic Fekkai's Ageless Overnight HairRepair helps to replenish and renew damamged hair overnight, without getting your pillowcase gross. No super crazy ingredients in this one, just Edelweiss berries.



 You can purchase on the company's website for $195.

This might be the most luxe shampoo around: Fuente's Intelligent Shampoo.



Made with the skin of white truffles (I'm seeing a theme here), pure diamond dust, and meteorite dust from space. Supposedly it exhibits different results for each specific hair type, returning your locks to top condition. I hope so, considering it is $490, available via select salons found on their website.


And the most luxe hair product I own? Number 4's Clarifying Shampoo.



I received a sample of this in my Birchbox, and fell in love. I use it about once a week, and it is worth every penny of that $32. You can find it here.

Do you own any luxe hair care products? Would you spend that much money to acheive perfect hair?


~Charlotte

Friday, April 12, 2013

Weekend Wishes: Derby Ready

Considering I did not know what Lilly Pulitzer was when I was growing up, it might surprise some that I have a major crush on the brand.

But their clothes symbolize what I've tried to make my outlook on life; sunny, colorful and full of adventure.

Here are my picks if I was attending any of the Triple Crown Races (I think the Kentucky Derby would be my favorite) which are on my bucket list.

Derby Ready:


Henley Dress in Multi-Corded Organza Stripe, $288.

If I had my choice, I would wear this to a polo match.

Lacinda Dress in Just Add Mint, $288.



Mint juleps on a dress? Perfect for the Kentucky Derby. 

Tabitha Dress in New Green Batt It Up, $378.



Love this green lace.

MarieKate Dress in Hotty Pink Go to Batt, $378.



Tried this on in the green above last summer and fell in love. Seriously regret not buying it then.


Iona Shell Engineered in White Safari, $148



I think this is from last summer? Anyhow, they are almost of out it.

Every Derby Ready outfit needs something to top it off:

Have you ever ordered from Marley Lilly? They are an awesome online shop to get personalized gifts for friends. I used them to get monogrammed scarves for a bunch of friends, and was impressed with the quality.



They have a great selection of wide brimmed hats perfect for the races.

Monogrammed Wide Straw Derby Hat.



This comes in a variety of colors, and has a wire rim so it will only flop where you want it to - genius! The price is not bad at $36.

Monogrammed Derby Hat - Floppy Outline.



This is the original Marley Lilly Derby hat, and it comes in 8 different colors. It does not have a wire through the rim so it will flop where it wants to. This will set you back $30.


Other options via Nordstrom:



Fascinator by Cara, $46.



Garnet Romantic Hat by August Hat, $78.


 Flower Fascinator by Badgley Mischka, $50.


Derby Fascinator Headband by Tasha, $38.


Marisa Sun Hat by Eric Javits, $375.


I would finish the look with a good luck charm (you want your horse to win, after all) or if you don't have your own lucky accessory you could always pick one up:

Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry: Mini Clover Bracelet, $155 via ShopBop


~Charlotte

P.S. When I started the idea for this post, the wonderfully bright and youthful Lilly Pulitzer (wiki) was still charming Palm Beach.



 On April 7th, 2013, Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau, the barefoot princess of Palm Beach, passed away surrounded by friends and family.

I don't think I could fairly illuminate how special Lilly was to those who had been bitten by her bright clothing empire lifestyle, and I won't here. I do recommend this article by Vanity Fair (thanks, Alix) that is a glowing tribute to the life of a lady who made so many others happy.

image via The Silver Pen