Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: Spritz By Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau

Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Apertivo Cocktail, with Recipes is one informative and bubbly little book. Opening with a brief introduction on the history and classic bartender's definition of a classic spritz, the average reader may be surprised to find that the modern day drink has evolved considerably since it's best estimated arrival in Greek and Roman times. And that the partly bitter, partly sweet carbonated refreshment is best in the afternoon, as a low-alcohol cocktail with appetizers during the social hour. 

I knew from the very cover art of Spritz that I would fall in love with the content. The colors, the font---very classic cocktail hour, from a time and a place when consumption was classy not trashy. The photography within is bright and enticing. And the few dining suggestions in the back of the book from a simple crostini to a slightly more complicated 'Sarde In Saor' are a tempting pairing with many of the spritz recipes within, from the classics to the modern craft barroom interpretations. 

While some may think drink recipe books to be pretentious or simply reserved for people with a preexisting knowledge of bartending, the authors of Spritz make no such assumptions. It's written for  anyone with a taste for good food and drink with friends. And what is especially handy in addition to simplified versions of recipe ingredients, is a full list of what any novice needs to build a spritz bar. Because, let's face it. There's nothing worse than preparing a recipe and realizing you don't have that one key ingredient. 

So grab some friends for a few pre-dinner drinks after work, "Because who isn't better, and perhaps more oneself, with a spritz in hand?" 

And with the kind permission of TEN SPEED PRESS, you can sample these two spritz recipes for yourself. Cheers!

Venetian Spritz
GLASS rocks or wine glass • GARNISH olive and orange half-wheel

The spritz that launched a thousand spritzes, the Venetian Spritz is made with a range of bitter liqueurs, including the ubiquitous Aperol from Padua and the more locally beloved Select (thought to be the original bitter used in the Venetian Spritz). Always garnished with a skewered olive and a slice of citrus, this style of spritz is the most widely recognized classic and the standard-bearer of spritz living across Italy.


Build the ingredients in a rocks or wine glass, over ice, and add the garnish. 

NOTE: Aperol is the most widely available bitter liqueur; it is also the sweetest. If you prefer a more bracingly bitter spritz, try splitting Aperol with Campari (1:1). And if you can find them, Contratto Aperitif, Contratto Bitter, Mauro Vergano Americano, and Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano are four aperitivo bitters we find ourselves returning to over and over again in this classic formula.

GABRIEL ORTA & ELAD ZVI Broken Shaker, Miami, FL 
GLASS wine glass • GARNISH lemon half-wheel and mint sprig

The sunshine-soaked cult of rosé has finally reached fever pitch and is now making regular appearances in cocktails all over America. Here it shows up—rather appropriately—in a spritz variation at Miami Beach’s Broken Shaker, a backyard cocktail grove of palm trees and beautiful pool-goers who line up for seasonal Caipirinhas and Mojitos every day of the year. The rosé creates a background for bittersweet Cocchi Americano and sweet-and-sour papaya shrub, all bound together with a dose of prosecco.


Add the rosé, Cocchi, papaya shrub, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker. Stir well and strain into a wine glass filled with ice. Top with the prosecco and add the garnish. 

PAPAYA SHRUB.  Add 5 to 8 chunks papaya, 1 cup rice wine vinegar, and 1⁄4 cup sugar to a saucepan. Simmer over very low heat for 20 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes. Strain, bottle, and refrigerate for up to one month.


I have received a complimentary copy of Spritz from BloggingForBooks.com for the purposes of product review. 

Photos and recipes provided by TEN SPEED PRESS, subject to copyright. 

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Novel Idea: Must-Have Books For Secondhand Inspiration

Books For Secondhand Inspiration Vintage Flea Market Thrift Shopping

Make no mistake. I'm a bibliophile. Libraries, secondhand bookstores, Barnes & Noble---I love it all. My boyfriend and I make almost a weekly outing of browsing the shelves, often making purchases if not wish lists of titles to buy in the future. At any given time I'm reading three books simultaneously, typically one nonfiction, one fiction, one home reference/craft/cookbook. So you might say that this post is a long time in the making. 

Over the years I've curated a collection of the very best books for secondhand inspiration. From fashion to furniture, decor and more...I've read it, loved it, lived by it. And now I'm sharing my must-have list of books with all of you! While by no means is this list exhaustive, it's certainly a good starting point for vintage enthusiasts everywhere. 

Cheap Chic Thrift Store Paintings Flea Market Fabulous I Brake For Yard Sales Thrift Score
A hefty stack of secondhand inspiration. 

Fashion & Personal Style


Perfect for fashion-forward girls with a craving for technical know-how on fabrics, alterations, and classic style. While it's not as visually stimulating for thriftspiration, knowledge is indeed power. And if you want to know about what flaws can be fixed, how to identify genuine designer labels, and the best pieces to invest money in...this book is an excellent resource.

Cheap Chic: Hundreds of Money-Saving Hints To Create Your Own Great Look                           
 By Caterine Milinaire

The 40th Anniversary edition of this style-bible is a visual delight when it comes to classic vintage fashion. With interviews and tips from iconic designers, this books proves that personal style doesn't have to come at a high cost. It's all about knowing what to look for to make a versatile wardrobe. And with an introduction from Tim "Make-it-Work" Gunn, a whole new generation will know what it means to be Cheap Chic. (Many thanks to the eternally stylish Jessica at Chronically Vintage, for hosting the giveaway that won me my very own copy!) 


Furniture & Decor 

By Lara Spencer 

You might know Lara Spencer as the always smiling cohost of Good Morning America, but ever since her development and hosting gig of the HGTV hit Flea Market Flip, America's fans of the secondhand have come to know her as a thrift-loving, flea market expert with a penchant for cool and quirky vintage finds that she reimagines and repurposes with great success as a interior designer. Her love of color and pattern, along with her know-how of furniture and keen eye for decor are really the selling points behind these books. I Brake For Yard Sales has great tips on fabrics, furniture and design with wonderful little backstories on specific pieces in Lara's collection. Flea Market Fabulous puts those tips into practice with a room-by-room makeover using thrifted finds, flea market upgrades and Lara's own creative expertise. Both are indispensable resources for secondhand inspiration, and each is a fun read to boot! 

Better Homes and Gardens Books

This book was an impulse add-on to my Amazon cart that I snagged for a song. And you should too. Filled with vintage visuals that will have you aching for a trip to the flea market, the featured collections within this book are a secondhand shopper's dream. With helpful hints on what to look for/what to leave behind, and interesting reimagining of commonly found flea market wares, this beautiful book is as informative and inspiring as it is pleasantly displayed on a upcycled vintage coffee table it can help create. 


Seminal Secondhand Must-Haves 

By Al Hoff

If you're looking for information, this isn't the book for you. But if you're looking to relive that retro vibe with someone with a shared thrift-philosophy, then this is it. Based on the original zine of same name, Thrift Score is a fun little read that documents quirky finds from another time. Back in college I had the privilege of conducting a phone interview with Al Hoff and let me tell you---she had some interesting and refreshing things to say when it came to the thrifting culture, as she had began thrift shopping when there was a greater social stigma attached. Now there are books, TV shows...and blogs dedicated to the pursuit of the secondhand! It's now a competitive treasure hunt of cheap finds. And I freaking love it.

By Mary Randolph Carter

If there was truly an aficionado of Junk, Mary Randolph Carter would tout that title with pride, I'd imagine. With a handful of beloved books on 'Junk' under her belt, Carter takes her love of the old and the rustic and displays it in such a way that the clutter is enviable. In a wonderful stroke of luck with a dash of irony, I actually scored a hardcover of American Junk from Impact Thrift. It has since become a valuable asset of mine whenever I get behind the wheel on the way to the thrift store or flea market, as a reminder of what the possibilities could hold

By Jim Shaw

A celebration of unknown artists whose work, though sometimes lacking in technical skill, isn't short of wonder. Jim Shaw saw this and in turn opened an exhibition in 2000 in London of found secondhand art. This book published in 1992 was the prelude to the exhibition. And it's hilarious. I mean, what better coffee table book could there possibly be? Scale, perspective...it means nothing to these thrift store arteests. And if you've ever seen some truly horrendous art at the thrift store and were tempted to buy it 'just because'...you really need to own this book. 


A Word Or Two On Periodicals 

Now most of you know my love for magazines. And it's such a low cost impulse buy at the register, so it's seemingly the most innocent of guilty pleasures. Well, except for special interest magazines. Those add up quickly, with a cover charge of $10 or more. And while it might be slightly more cost efficient to subscribe for a slightly lower cost, these quarterly publications may very well not be worth it over time. Flea Market Decor, Flea Market Style, Secondhand Treasures, these three periodicals are the only specialty magazines that I've purchased. While I've been tempted to buy many more, these are the only ones whose contents I've found to be well worth the price. 

Specialty periodicals tend to feature evergreen stories that can be published, and even reprinted in later issues, at any given time. And while the photographs and layout may be appealing, much of the information can be found elsewhere for free. I tend to purchase maybe one or two titles a year, after much debating at the Barnes & Noble cafe as to whether I really need them. 

But hey, if these titles are what truly inspire you to be the best thrift shopper that you can be, who am I to tell you differently? 

So head on over to Amazon or to your local book store if you're looking for tips on vintage fashion, flea market decor, antique furniture upgrades and more. Because we can never have enough secondhand inspiration!

What inspires your secondhand ventures? 

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thriftspiration: The Celebrity Lookbook Of Ilda Pellett

A Crown composition book, to Ilda from Ellen.

It was a scorching afternoon at the Columbus Flea Market, the time of day where vendors are keen to packing up their wares.  And I was just about finished with the junking of the day and about to move along to the produce section for some sweet Jersey tomatoes. That's when I stumbled upon a chatty seller with just a few vintage items spread about a single table. We got to talking about our mutual appreciation for vintage photographs and ephemera...and the lost of art of memory keeping. 

While this used composition book was an add-on purchase at the suggestion of the vendor (the original item purchased will be featured in a later post), I was excited to see what was inside, to see what Ilda Pellett of the 4th grade once held dear. 

I was not disappointed to find an entire composition book of celebrity clippings, glamour shots, and fashion spreads from the late 1920s-1930s. Maybe you think this is silly. Or maybe you'd consider it a sort of primitive Pinterest board. But I love it. And hell, I've done it. Being a secondhand fashion blogger in part, putting together a notebook of style aspirations is something that helps me when I go thrifting. It helps me stay inspired and organized. And I've been recommending this sort of tangible on-the-go thriftspiration for years. 

And a special bonus: Ilda had tucked all of her favorite paper dolls and paper doll fashions within the pages of her composition book. 

A pile of paper fashions. 

A selection from the paper doll collection. 

Isn't it sort of amazing that these cherished paper dolls survived some 85+ years intact? I already have some crafty upcycling plans for them, in the form of shrunken plastic jewelry. But in the meantime I'll just enjoy the aesthetic of this collection. I thank Ilda Pellett for her creative vision and dreams of stardom, and to her friend "Ellen W" who gifted the Crown composition book to Ilda. I admire the vendor who saved this from an estate clean-out that could likely have ended in a garbage can, who saw the potential in saving such a personal item...and for selling it to me for just one dollar.

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