If Once You Have Slept on an Island

Author: Kirsti Kay, Dinner, Food, Food & Drink, Inspiration, Recipes, Savories, Travel

If once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.
Oh! you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You’ll never be quite the same.
— Rachel Lyman Field

Eagle Island 1

The first time I stepped foot on Eagle Island, it was so foggy I could only see a few steps in front of me. My boyfriend (now husband) Aaron had been telling me about this island since we met—his most special place, his Disneyland, his Paris. We had traveled by plane, car and boat to get there. I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me, but the moment I stepped foot onto the shore, I understood that I was in a rare and magical place.

Eagle Island 2Eagle Island is only about a mile-and-a-half long by half-a-mile wide, but there are so many self-contained universes. There is a farmhouse in the middle of a big meadow, which is the hub of the island; a forest that has mysterious fairy bowers hidden throughout the trees, which no one lays claim to; an old schoolhouse from the 1800s that has not been touched inside for more than half a century; a small, but beautiful, cemetery; a lighthouse; a tiny post office; and a handful of gasp-inducing beaches so cinematic that they make you want to spontaneously burst into a rousing sea shanty.

Eagle Island 3The quiet splendor of this island rivals any great city I’ve ever been to, but what makes Eagle Island so special is that you feel like it belongs to you. You have to try hard to come in contact with other people here, so you can have the rare experience of not battling crowds, not angling for a better view or a perfect spot on the beach. You can just be still. You can listen to the sounds of insects buzzing. You can smell the ocean and feel the breeze on your skin. It’s not often we can be truly alone in beauty, and the island is restorative in ways other places can never be. The island belongs to you and you belong to it, and it’s a relationship you don’t take lightly. You want to nestle into her and whisper, “Your song is heard. Your people are dear to me, too. I will keep your secrets.”

Eagle Island 4Only a handful of people own cottages on the island, but there are many cottages of all different sizes that are available for rent. There is the Doll House, which is adorably tiny, all the way up to the Hill House, which has six bedrooms. The cottages have a cozy, vintage vibe that you usually only see in magazines meticulously curated by a dozen city people who may never have even been to an island. Treena and Krista are your island hostesses, and their bohemian loveliness is sprinkled over everything.

Eagle Island 5Aaron and I were able to spend a week on Eagle in August and we had, as always, the most wonderful time. The first several days were foggy, but warm, and the mist gave the island a dreamy New England feel. Then the weather changed and everything was sun-dappled and beautiful with seagulls singing in the sky and sailboats gliding through the sea. It’s hard to believe, but on an island with so few people, we had a very active social calendar. We had friends over for dinner, ate fresh lobster caught that day, and ended the evening with a sing-along. On another night, we went to Krista’s cabin for dinner and watched one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. Another night was a surprise cocktail party for Aaron’s moms’ anniversary. We were also invited to a lovely brunch, took long walks followed by long naps, had an impromptu lunch at the farmhouse where Krista whipped up the most delicious pasta with kale picked from the garden, read, and even made a short horror movie. We did everything and nothing and every second was grand.

Eagle Island 6

Several years ago, after visiting the island for more than 25 years, Aaron’s moms built a cottage on the island. Actually, they call it a cabbage—part cabin, part cottage. It’s warm and inviting and filled with laughter and music and has the most glorious view of the ocean. I love to sit out on the deck with the family, talking, drinking wine and watching the sunset. Even as we chat about this or that, we are each in the moment, recognizing the specialness of where we are, knowing how lucky we are to be able to sleep on an island—Eagle Island—and aware that none of us will ever be the same.

Eagle Island 7
KRISTA’S EAGLE ISLAND KALE PASTA

INGREDIENTS
I lb. penne pasta
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
2 bunches kale, cut from the ribs and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup salty, pitted green olives
2 Tbsp. capers, drained
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
4 Tbsp. (or to taste) Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (you can substitute soy sauce)
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, torn
salt and pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS
Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium low heat. Add kale and garlic and sauté until kale is soft, making sure not to brown garlic, about 7-10 minutes. Turn heat up to medium, add cherry tomatoes, olives, capers, red pepper flakes (if using) and Bragg’s Aminos and sauté 5 more minutes, until tomatoes are soft and heated through. Stir in basil and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, cook penne in lots of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add kale mixture and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan and serve. Makes 6 servings.

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Eagle Island

 

If you’d like to rent a cabin on beautiful Eagle Island, please contact Treena and Krista at Eagle Island Rentals.

 

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The Last Time I Saw Ferriss

Author: Kirsten K., Books, Literature, Nostalgia, Synchronicity

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, one of the things that Kirsti and I find the most swoon-worthy is synchronicity—when the stars align to create a situation so perfect and unexpected that you could not possibly have planned it yourself. You know what else is swoon-worthy? Laziness. Whenever possible, I believe in following the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle—reduce stress, reuse ideas, recycle posts. Two years ago today I experienced one of the best, if not THE best, moments of synchronicity in my life, which I wrote about at the time on my personal Facebook page. In celebration of anniversaries and laziness, I am lifting the veil of my privacy settings and sharing the story here. Enjoy!

Ferriss 1When I decided last year that I wanted to shed some weight before my trip to Paris, I started out by following Tim Ferriss’s Slow-Carb Diet. I’d read about it in his book The 4-Hour Body, and what he said about diet and weight loss made perfect sense to me. In fact, everything Tim Ferriss says makes perfect sense to me. I read his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek, years ago and found it to be surprisingly funny and eye-opening. He is the quintessential outside-the-box thinker who simply does not look at the world the way most people do. He’s always searching for a new angle. As someone who usually lives inside the box and always plays by the rules, I aspire to be more like him. He is one of my heroes.

I’ve thought about him off and on during the year-and-a-half since I started the diet, particularly when I was trying to brush up on my French for the Paris trip. Tim has an avid interest in language acquisition and has created his own method for becoming functionally fluent in any language in just a few months. I also visit his blog from time to time, because it’s packed with information on a wide range of topics, always with some fresh insight or cutting-edge discovery. However, I haven’t thought of him much in the past year until recently. Knowing that I’m a fan of Tim Ferriss, my friend Prashanta, who likes to listen to Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, recently sent me links to a couple of podcasts Tim did with Joe, which I listened to shortly before I left for my latest trip to Boston. Given that each show is two+ hours long, listening to them brought Tim vividly back into my consciousness.

Ferriss 2I thought about him again while I was packing for the trip. He travels frequently and has lived for extended periods of time abroad. I don’t know if or where he has a permanent residence and have no idea of his movements, since I don’t follow him on Facebook or read his blog regularly. He’s written about how he packs and prepares for a trip and how he gets to the airport. Everything this guy does is about being quick and efficient and doing the minimum amount of work for the maximum result. Looking at my large suitcase and assortment of clothes, I thought, “I need to be more lean and mean like Tim.” He only travels with a carry-on and gets in and out quickly.

I also thought of him right in the middle of my trip, when I was having a personal issue that I considered trying to explore through lucid dreaming. Since I hadn’t read anything new on the topic for a while and I’ve had difficulty in the past with inducing lucid dreams, I did a Google search for “how to have a lucid dream.” I shouldn’t have been surprised that one of the first results to pop up was a link to a post on Tim Ferriss’s blog about the subject. He mentioned Stephen LaBerge from The Lucidity Institute at Stanford (I’ve participated in their at-home experiments for more than 20 years) and gave some induction tips. Nothing new, but I thought it was interesting that he was knowledgeable about lucid dreams. Is there anything that gets by this guy?

Ferriss 3During the trip I saw that a friend of mine had commented on a Facebook post about a book called E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality. I was intrigued by the title and immediately purchased the ebook. I scanned the experiments and they seemed simple enough, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try them. I was also hooked by the introduction, which gave remarkable examples of synchronicities in the author’s own life, as well as some of the scientific evidence behind the idea that we are creating our lives through our thoughts, expectations, and beliefs. I decided to try the first experiment.

Simply stated, the experiment involves giving the Field of Infinite Possibilities 48 hours to show you proof of its existence. That’s it. You simply make a statement that you want a clear sign—that cannot be written off—that there is a “loving, abundant, totally hip force in the universe” that connects everything and is responsive to your thoughts. I read this on a Thursday and decided to start the experiment that afternoon. I made my statement that I wanted clear, unmistakable, unambiguous proof of the existence of this energy field. The 48 hours would expire on late Saturday afternoon, which is when I was leaving to come home from the trip.

Ferriss 4I went about my business and noted after 24 hours that nothing had happened, but there was still time. Early on Saturday afternoon I remembered the experiment. I’d unexpectedly turned a corner in Boston the day before and come across Max Brenner’s restaurant, and I wondered if that might have been my sign. I’d made a pilgrimage to his restaurant in New York [because chocolate] and didn’t realize there was one in Boston, so it was a surprise to see it, but then I decided it couldn’t be the sign. I’d asked for something unmistakable, so I wouldn’t have to wonder whether or not it was my sign.

After that, I was too busy driving to the airport, going through security, and getting on the plane to think about the experiment again. The 48 hours expired sometime during the flight, but I was focused on the experience of flying and on the audiobook I was listening to, so I wasn’t even thinking about it. I was sitting in an aisle seat and had been listening to my iPod with my eyes closed, but I opened them to see someone coming down the aisle toward the restroom at the back of the plane. I felt a spark of recognition, but then the person looked up and I locked eyes with him for a second. It was Tim Ferriss.

Ferriss 5Tim FREAKING Ferriss was on my plane! My little, single-aisle 757 flying from Boston to Los Angeles at 4:30 pm on a random Saturday afternoon in October. I was utterly dumbstruck. I actually put my head in my hands, because I could not process what I’d just seen. He went back to his seat toward the front of the plane and I didn’t see him for the rest of the flight, but I was in a daze. I’d gotten my sign in the form of Tim Freaking Ferriss. It HAD to be.* I thought about walking up there and telling him my story, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I am not the type of person to approach celebrities or public figures to talk with them, and I have a fear of meeting my heroes and finding out that they are rude or disappointing. But this story was too good! What to do? I decided that I would send him an email, even though I’d read in The 4-Hour Workweek that he checks emails as infrequently as once a week and most of them are vetted ahead of time by his staff. Still, it was either that or do nothing. I knew that I wouldn’t see him at baggage claim, because he only brings a carry-on when he travels.

When the flight landed and passengers started filing out, I looked for him in the aisle, but never saw him. By the time I got to baggage claim, there were people crowding around the carousel, so I went and stood near a tall, 30-something guy to wait for my bag. A minute later, Tim Freaking Ferriss walks over and starts talking to the guy. Turns out it’s the friend he was traveling with. O.K., Field of Infinite Possibilities, you’ve got my attention. My heart was racing. How could I possibly approach him? I was trying to work up the courage when he walked right past me, so I called out his name. He turned and said, “Yes? And who are you?” We shook hands and I told him my name. I said that, as he might have surmised, I had read and enjoyed his books. I told him that I didn’t want to disturb him while he was waiting for his luggage, but that I’d like to tell him a story I thought he’d find interesting.

Ferriss 6I related my tale and he was very attentive. He was gratified that Prashanta had sent me the links to the Joe Rogan podcasts. He said he hadn’t explored lucid dreaming for a while and really needed to get back into it. When I told him about all the ways he’d been on my mind recently and then about seeing him walk down the aisle of the plane, he replied, “You’re thinking, ‘Man, I can’t get away from this guy!'” From anyone else, that would have been mildly amusing, but it was Tim Freaking Ferriss, so I thought it was HI-larious.

The reason he was standing at baggage claim with his friend is that they were waiting for several boxes of equipment. Evidently, he was in town to film something (probably for his new TV show [The Tim Ferriss Experiment], which I just found out will be debuting in early December). I said, “This is just so odd. When I think of everything that had to coalesce for you to be on my plane… I mean, I don’t know about you, but I booked this flight months ago.” He said that it was very strange, because he never flies from Boston to L.A. In fact, before I’d called out his name, I overheard him say something to his friend like, “I think we took the wrong flight.” He seemed to be implying that they’d booked an earlier or later flight than they’d intended. In any case, weird!

Ferriss 7I said to him, “Well, I know you didn’t play any conscious part in it, but thank you for being my sign.” Then I asked him if he would indulge me by allowing me to take his picture—a sort of “proof of life” for the folks back home. He graciously posed for me, making a double thumbs-up. The picture is a little blurry, but the message is crystal clear: I got my sign and it was unmistakable and unambiguous. I met my hero and he wasn’t an idiot or an asshole. Now it’s time to explore those infinite possibilities…

In the two years since my close encounter with Tim Ferriss, I have had several more experiences of synchronicity, including three that were nearly as remarkable. I’ve also explored a number of possibilities, some of which culminated in the creation of this blog. I hope my story will inspire you to think big and expect the unexpected. The Field of Infinite Possibilities is just waiting for you to make your move.

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Tim Ferriss

 

The books in the 4-Hour series can be purchased from Amazon. All 13 episodes of The Tim Ferriss Experiment are available on iTunes. Be sure to check out Tim’s entertaining and informative podcast, The Tim Ferriss ShowE-Squared can be found at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

*To those people thinking, “Coincidence!” I offer up one of my favorite quotes from Kirsti: “I hate skeptics, because you never get to experience the joy of seeing their eyes light up over something you’ve said.” Also, consider the number of flights that take off and land each day in the U.S. alone and try to calculate the odds that we’d both be on that particular plane.

BAGGU – The Essential Travel Bag

Author: Kirsti Kay, Fashion, Travel

Traveling on an airplane has slowly gone from an event you dressed up for—heels and pearls and an in-flight martini served by a sassy stewardess in a mini dress—to an inhuman herding of beleaguered masses just trying to power through. Every time I have a flight coming up, I start dreading and worrying about it a month in advance:Baggu 1 with Caption

How early should I leave to fight L.A. traffic?
Where should I park?
Will the security line be long?
What if my flight is delayed?
Is the pilot a good “driver”?
Will there be turbulence?
What if I sit next to someone who smells?
The list goes on…

In order to combat all these stressful variables, I have developed certain processes to deal:

Rule #1 – Leave SUPER early for the airport to avoid any potential delays in traffic, parking, check-in or security. There is nothing worse that sweating in a panic because there was an accident on the 405 and you are cutting it too close.

Rule #2 – Bring tasty snacks. I usually stop at Whole Foods on the way to the airport and get a few yummy things from the deli case. And chocolate. There must always be chocolate.

Rule #3 – Bring every kind of entertainment so you can be assured you have something to do to pass the time. I bring a few magazines, a book, my iPad and several podcasts on my phone. And don’t forget my secret weapon, Ambien!

Rule #4 – Dress comfortably while trying to avoid looking like a jerk in pajamas. And make sure you have a sweater or blanket. I try my best to approximate pajamas while still passing for a normal. Also, earplugs and a sleep mask are a must.

Rule #5 – Do NOT forget to bring the Baggu!

Baggu 2I first stumbled across the Baggu on a travel blog. A Baggu is simply a nylon shoulder bag that folds into a tiny pouch, but holds everything you need in-flight so you can put your bulky bag in the overhead and still have all your treasures at your fingertips. And, at $9, everyone should have a few on hand.

I throw my cute little pouch into my big, oversized tote and, right before boarding, I take out the Baggu and fill it with all the things I want access to during the flight—mags, book, iPad, snacks, eye mask, ear plugs, lip balm and, of course, the chocolate. A Baggu is super sturdy, and the wide shoulder strap makes it easy to carry. When I get to my seat, I take it out of my tote, store it under my seat, and put the tote in the overhead bin where some a-hole will try to smoosh it to fit his (or her) oversized carry-on.Baggu 3

The Baggu is also perfect for the grocery store, the beach, or anytime you might use a plastic grocery bag, but want to be chic. There are over 20 colors and patterns to choose from and they are all machine washable. There are also Big Baggus and Baby Baggus, as well as a nice selection of other bags, including very lovely canvas and leather designs.

It’s amazing how much happiness a $9 nylon bag can bring to a girl. Well, that, some ear plugs and an Ambien. Safe travels y’all.

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BAGGU®

 

In addition to the company’s website, BAGGU® totes, bags, and accessories can be purchased from Amazon and a variety of online retailers.

‘SKusmi While I Drink My Tea

Author: Kirsten K., Food & Drink, Hot Drinks, Tea

SKusmi 1Shortly after Kirsti and I had our life-changing brush with culinary violet on a trip to France several years ago, I was scouring the Internet in my never-ending quest for the perfect violet flavor when I came across Kusmi Violette tea. I had never heard of Kusmi, but as a regular tea drinker and newly-minted violet enthusiast, I immediately ordered a large canister. I was a little wary after the number of disappointments I’d had in my search for a true violet extract, but the contents of this tin did not let me down. The floral scent is delicate beneath the robust aroma of black tea, but it smells and tastes like real violets. The brew instantly became my favorite and has remained so to this day.

Based in Paris since 1917, the Kousmichoff company—shortened to Kusmi—was founded in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1867 and achieved success with its special tea blends, including one that became a favorite with the tsar. Even today, their gilded and vibrantly-colored packaging evokes the Baroque interiors of the Winter Palace and brings to mind steaming samovars and White Nights.

SKusmi 2Kusmi is known for its Russian tea blends, and when my friend Mika returned from a recent visit to the South of France, she surprised me with a sampler containing some of their most popular varieties: Anastasia, Bouquet of Flowers N˚108 (Kusmi’s oldest recipe and the choice of tsars), Christmas Tea, Imperial Label, Kashmir Tchai, Prince Vladimir, and St. Petersburg (both black and green versions). While I normally prefer loose tea, all of the blends are uniquely delicious and fresh in their individual muslin bags. I particularly enjoyed the Bouquet of Flowers N˚108, which combines Earl Grey with citrus fruits and flowers. If it’s good enough for the ruler of Imperial Russia…

Knowing that Kusmi’s Violette tea wasn’t just a one-hit wonder, and having eight other tempting varieties on hand to sip and savor, I hope you’ll ‘sKusmi while I drink my tea.

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Kusmi Tea

 

Kusmi teas are available in the States from the company’s U.S. website and can also be purchased at Amazon and a variety of online retailers.

 

Violet Liqueur – The Bitter Truth Is Sweet

Author: Kirsti Kay, Cocktails, Drinks, Entertaining, Food & Drink, Nostalgia, Recipes, Spirits, Travel
Violet Liqueur 1

Swooning over the ice cream in Provence.

When Kirsten and I were in the South of France several years ago, we both had the same defining food moment. We were in Les Baux and ordered violet ice cream from a perfect shop on a perfect cobblestone street. We had tasted rose ice cream before, and on the previous day in Aix-en-Provence we had tried lavender ice cream for the first time. But the moment the first glorious spoonful of violet ice cream hit our lips, we truly and completely swooned. It was like the episode of The Brady Bunch when Bobby defends Millicent at school (awesomely played by Melissa Sue Anderson). She kisses him in thanks and fireworks go off in his head and he is happily dazed by the experience. France is, of course, one of the best places on earth…the food, the wine, the country…but my greatest memory of that trip was the singular, purple-hued cup of violet ice cream. Both Kirsten and I agreed that it was the greatest thing we had ever tasted. Loving food the way we do, that is saying something. Our violet obsession had begun.

When we got back to the States, we spent years trying to find a violet extract that would allow us to relive that violet-infused moment, but, despite spending a lot of time on the Internet and a lot of money on violet flavorings, we haven’t been able to replicate that firework-inducing moment of bliss, particularly when it comes to cocktails.Violet Liqueur 2

I always love using floral flavors in cocktails. When St. Germain, the celebrated elderflower liqueur came out, I was over the moon with delight. When Shakers released rose-flavored vodka, I was making vodka tonics several times a week (it is sadly not available anymore). I have purchased about four different violet liqueurs, but none really had that true violet scent and flavor (although some of the bottles are super dreamy). And then I stumbled on The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur. The moment I read about it, I felt panic that I might not be able to find it, but Hi-Time Wine Cellars shipped it to me within three days of my order.

The first thing I noticed about it was the deeply purple color. My other violet liqueurs are varying shades of purple, but none has the color the website describes as “reminiscent of a full moon reflected on a river in the twilight.” That is some damn poetry! I opened the bottle and the scent brought me right back to that cobblestone street in Les Baux. I needed to mix this with some stuff and pour it into a fancy coup, stat!

Violet Liqueur 3My friend Melissa was coming over that weekend and I decided to make the classic Aviation cocktail. The first thing I noticed was the incredible color—it was like a goth dream. The second thing I noticed was that it smelled just like violets! Some floral flavorings can be so sickeningly sweet and overpowering, but this was just right. And then the taste…all I can say is—fireworks. Melissa doesn’t drink very often, but I think she enjoyed her fancy cocktail. I ended up having two drinks (it would have been a crime to let that boozy goodness go to waste) and floated in a delicious violet haze for the rest of the afternoon.

I guess we’ll never know if Bobby Brady would have seen fireworks if he tried The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur. I’m sure Alice or maybe cousin Oliver would have saved him from the degenerate horror of underage drinking. But I bet that Greg would have dug it, surreptitiously sipping from Mrs. Brady’s martini glass in his fringed vest up in his groovy attic room, maybe even with a few of those cigarettes he was so fond of. Queue the laugh track while I pour myself another…Violet Liqueur 4

AVIATION COCKTAIL (courtesy of The Bitter Truth)

2 oz dry gin
¾ oz The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur
⅓ oz maraschino liqueur
¾ oz fresh lemon or lime juice

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Makes 1 drink.

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The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur

 

The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur can be purchased from Hi-Time Wine Cellars. Maraschino liqueur and dry gin are available at BevMo and most liquor stores.

 

All Hail Queen Victoria!

Author: Kirsten K., Literature, Magazines, Nostalgia

Victoria 1Tomorrow we say goodbye to spring and usher in the lazy months of summer. Every year, as we straddle these two seasons, I think of the Spring/Summer 1987 issue of Victoria magazine, the one that started it all.

I first encountered Victoria in the fall of 1987 when my mother passed on an issue that a friend had given her. I immediately swooned over the elegant fonts, feminine design, and dreamy photographs by Japanese photographer Toshi Otsuki. When I discovered that this was the second issue of the magazine, I quickly ordered a copy of the premier issue. I had no idea then that this was the beginning of an enduring romance.

Victoria 2The magazine’s mission statement could be summed up in a single line within the pages of that first issue: “A Return to Loveliness”. The editors stated that, “We have looked to the graceful, gracious days of the Victorian era as inspiration for Victoria—for that was the elegant time that brought loveliness to everyday American life.” As a modern-day American girl whose heart was in 19th-century England, I was hooked.

The magazine went from being published twice the first year, to seasonally, to bi-monthly, and finally to monthly in the fall of 1989. The first four issues said Good Housekeeping’s Victoria on the cover, but by the fifth issue it was simply called Victoria. On the cover of the May 1998 issue, the word “Bliss” appeared above the name and has continued to be used in the magazine and on special issues to this day.

Victoria 3Over the years, I have struggled to describe Victoria and how it makes me feel when I read it, but this one word—bliss—sums it up. It’s difficult to categorize the magazine: a mix of fashion and beauty, home and garden, cooking and entertaining, travel, literature, enterprising women, and so much more. There is such a wealth and variety of features in each slim issue that I can savor it over days or even weeks, instead of mere hours.

There have been three Editors-in-Chief of Victoria, each with her own personal style. Under the direction of founding editor Nancy Lindemeyer, Victoria was shamelessly feminine and romantic. When Peggy Kennedy took over with the November 2000 issue, the magazine took on a cleaner, more streamlined look and started featuring longer, in-depth articles on weightier topics. During her tenure, there was an unfortunate redesign of the logo and layout that didn’t seem too popular with readers (myself included), but the content was excellent.

Victoria 4By this time, Victoria had seen me through my difficult college years and was a beloved and constant friend, so I was horrified to discover in 2003 that the publisher, Hearst Corporation, had suddenly and inexplicably shuttered the magazine. After years of badgering Kirsti to subscribe, I’d finally decided to give her a gift subscription when I was told that the June 2003 issue would be Victoria’s last. Without any advance warning for the editors, there would be no farewell issue, no thank you to the loyal readers, no look back at 16 years of loveliness and bliss.

I was devastated. Victoria had been my port in the storm of modern life. Whatever ugliness I witnessed on the news or in the streets could be wiped away by a few minutes spent within the genteel beauty of its pages. I felt as though someone close to me had died.Victoria 5

In the ensuing years, I would regularly flip through my collection of back issues, but I lamented the fact that there would never be another new issue of Victoria. However, unbeknownst to me, there was someone else who felt as I did, and she was in a position to do something about it.

Victoria 6In the summer of 2007, I received a postcard in the mail with the words I never expected to read: Victoria was coming back! Phyllis Hoffman, CEO of Hoffman Media (which publishes Southern Lady magazine, among other titles), had been a huge fan of Victoria and took on the task of bringing it back to life, becoming the third and current Editor-in-Chief. In a true return to loveliness, Victoria resumed publication with the November/December 2007 issue. All was once again right in my world.

Victoria 7The magazine took a little while to regain its footing and become the Victoria I’d known and loved, but after almost eight years, it remains a familiar oasis of loveliness and bliss. The reincarnated Victoria has continued the traditions of a yearly Writer-in-Residence and Artist-in-Residence, as well as annual British- and French-themed issues and one devoted to women entrepreneurs. It is published bi-monthly, but there are special issues seasonally, such as Gardens of Bliss and Holiday Bliss—plenty to provide me with a regular dose of beauty and peace amid the chaos of a rapidly-changing world.

I swoon in my appreciation of Phyllis and all of the editors and contributors who have worked together over the years to deliver the gift of Victoria to its readers (they are Staff Worthy Of Our Notice). I hope you’ll discover the wonders of this magazine for yourself and join me in saying, “All hail Queen Victoria!”

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Victoria Magazine

 

Victoria is available on newsstands and in digital format for iPad, Kindle, Nook and Android devices. The first 208 issues of the magazine (from 1987-2012) can be found on the Victoria Complete Collection DVD, which features two searchable DVD-ROMs that are compatible with both Windows and Mac.

Respect Your Elderflowers

Author: Kirsten K., Cocktails, Cold Drinks, Drinks, Food & Drink, Spirits
Respect Your Elderflowers 1

Belvoir Elderflower Pressé – 100% Good!

On a trip to England in 2002, I was swooning over one of the magnificent gardens in Cornwall when I stopped by a concession stand for a drink and purchased a bottle of something I’d never encountered before: elderflower pressé. I was instantly smitten with its light, floral flavor that had the refreshing astringency of citrus. Although I saw this delightful beverage in several places over the course of my trip, I searched in vain for a bottle once I’d returned home to the United States.

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photo credit: Mika McDonald

Elderflowers bloom in lacy clusters of white or pale cream blossoms and have traditionally been used in Central and Eastern Europe to flavor regional desserts and drinks. Pressé is a French word meaning “squeezed.” The elderflowers are steeped, then pressed to extract as much of the flavor as possible. Most bottled pressé drinks I’ve seen on the market are carbonated and are often labeled as “sparkling pressé”. Translation: elderflower pressé = pressed elderflower soda.

Respect Your Elderflowers 3Years after my trip, I was thrilled to discover Belvoir Elderflower Pressé for sale at my local World Market. From that day forward, I routinely had a bottle chilling in my fridge. I began to take it for granted until one day when I couldn’t find it on the shelf and learned that the store was no longer going to carry it. Fortunately, my devastation was short-lived. A friend discovered that IKEA carries its own version of Elderflower Drink Concentrate (Dryck Fläder to you Swedes) that, when mixed with sparkling water, tasted virtually identical to the pressé I knew and loved—at a fraction of the price.Respect Your Elderflowers 4

In the midst of all this, the holy grail of elderflower beverages made its debut. In 2007, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur descended from heaven on a cloud of tiny white flowers for the delectation of humankind. I’m not sure what we did to deserve it, but to say that this liqueur is swoon-worthy would be an understatement. From its sweet, nectar-like flavor to the gorgeous packaging that evokes the decadent height of the Roaring Twenties, this product is truly in a class by itself. It can be enjoyed straight from the bottle, but we at The Swoon Society love adding it to a flute of sparkling wine (Kirsti prefers Gruet Extra Dry to balance the sweetness of the liqueur, but if you have a sweet tooth like me, try Gruet Demi Sec).

Respect Your Elderflowers 5Recently, I’ve seen Belvoir Elderflower Lemonade on the shelves of World Market, but I prefer the flexibility and price of the elderflower concentrate (Belvoir also makes an Elderflower Cordial, which is the same as concentrate). In addition to making elderflower soda, it can be used as an ingredient in cocktails and a sweetener for lemonade, or just mixed with plain water for a light thirst quencher.

Now that the elderflower seems here to stay, I no longer worry about being able to find it, but I also make sure to savor it and never again take it for granted. The blossoms only appear for a few weeks in late spring and must be harvested at that time to last the rest of the year, so take a lesson from me and respect your elderflowers!


Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:

Belvoir Elderflower Pressé
Belvoir Elderflower Cordial
IKEA Elderflower Drink Concentrate
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Gruet Extra Dry Sparkling Wine
Gruet Demi Sec Sparkling Wine

 

Belvoir Elderflower Pressé (marketed as Lemonade in the U.S.) and Cordial can be found at World Market, some British import shops, and online at Amazon. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur can be purchased at BevMo. Gruet Extra Dry and Demi Sec are available at many specialty wine shops and liquor stores.