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How to Make Glam Drink Stirrers Perfect for Your Oscar Party

A little bit of glitz goes a long way. That’s why these darling stirrers are the perfect addition to any drink you may be planning to serve up at your awards show party. Whether you will be hosting a red carpet viewing party or perhaps you’re going for a full fledge Oscar party these stirrers are the perfect glamorous  touch.

How to Make:

  1.  You will need scissors, glue gun, skewers (I started with 10 inch) and gold garland.
  2. Cut your garland into 2- inch pieces.
  3. Place a bead of hot glue in the center of your 2 inch piece.
  4. Fold the garland in half and press until it is set.
  5. If needed break your skewer to the size you desire.
  6. Trim any leftover pieces of the skewer for a clean edge.
  7. Place a bead of hot glue on the cut end of the skewer and press the garland ball onto it until set.
  8. Trim the garland for a smaller pom pom
  9. Voila- the perfect glam stirrers for any party!

For this Oscar Party Punch recipe check out The 10- Minute Happy Hour on thekitchn.com.

What is the Maker Lifestyle?


From cupcakes to cocktails, to knitting and beekeeping, living the maker lifestyle is all about creating and cultivating crafts that have been around forever and making them a part of your life today. Makers love what they make and I share the love. Here at maureenpetrosky.com (a.k.a. makerlifestyle.com) I want to teach, learn, and showcase what makers around the world are whipping up. Want to be a maker? Or maybe you already are, then click around and see what we’re making.

How Hibiscus Liqueur Will Make You Want to Call Your Mom- Jackie Summer’s Sorel Story

Jackie Summers felt he had hit his peak as a marketing executive and began to crave more meaningful work–something that would let him explore his Barbados upbringing. That’s when he began making Sorel, his own sweet and flavorful hibiscus liqueur. With deep roots in the Caribbean and made from ingredients sourced from international spice markets, his new venture turned out to be delicious.

While Jackie is a native New Yorker, his family hit U.S. shores from Barbados back in the 1920s. His journey may inspire you to quit your job, call your mom, make a drink or all of the above. This brilliant ruby red colored sip brought Jackie back to Barbados and like us, you may be surprised to find out his Sorel story wasn’t always smooth sailing.

Maureen Petrosky Lifestyle [MPL]: How did you get the Sorel business started?

Well, one day I found out golf-ball sized tumor in my spine. The doctor drilled a hole in my spine, took a bone out, pulled out nerve sheath and expose my spinal cord. I had a 50% chance of partial paralysis.

At the time I was a publishing executive at a fashion magazine and I just realized my life had to be about something more than that. The truth of the matter is that there’s nothing I enjoy more than being with interesting people during the day and eating good meals and drinking. 

Now, it’s my job to drink with people. 

MPL: Where does the idea for the Sorel hibiscus liqueur come from?

[In Barbados], if you were to wander off the beaten path, you might see kids picking hibiscus flowers. They make ice tea with them so they have something to drink after school. Parents add rum after the kids go to bed.

First, to bottle this specific beverage, we use actual botanicals.*

*Hibiscus from West Africa, clove from Barbados, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

We didn’t drink for enjoyment, we drank for medicinal purposes. Water made you sick, so you drank tea or alcohol to kill bacteria. In the 1600s, Sorel in the Caribbean was an elixir—a digestif and a medicine.

MPL: Where do you get your ingredients from?

I work with a spice importer called Golembek. The place is this five-story warehouse right near where I was living. The guy who’s running it right now knows everything about spices, but he can’t smell!

MPL: How do you pick the best quality spices?

It’s just like a grape, it’s all about the quality of the soil. The Caribbean is moist, has a tropical climate so the hibiscus flower there is delicate.

That’s why he imports the hibiscus from West Africa, which has a sturdier soil that creates more powerful liqueur.

MPL: Where did your knack for flavors come from?

I learned about flavor in my mother’s kitchen. From as early as I can remember she would say “Son, tell me what this needs.” She would show me what each spice was and I learned how to balance spices and make them play together.

MPL: How are you using this background to make your very own liqueur?

Hibiscus is notoriously difficult to work with—it’s very citric. So my goal was to create a balanced version of this drink. The clove gives brightness, the ginger masks the heat of the alcohol, and the nutmeg adds a woody note at the backend.

Instead of all these spices competing, they work together.

MPL: How can I use Sorel in drinks?

You can take any of those flavors and pop them out. You could add cinnamon or nutmeg when it’s cold out. I tried making it with Pellegrino and I noticed that adding lime makes it citrus-y while the blood orange kind brings out nutmeg flavors.

It’s really a beverage that is completely malleable to the person that is pouring.

It can go in whatever direction you’re willing to take. It will mix with everything else. Sorel is that one thing that will create something completely different every time.

MPL: What has Sorel done for you?

This entire venture is an excuse for me to be more me. I spent 25 years in corporate America trying to fit into something that I didn’t. I started to reach into the deepest parts of myself, asking “Can I be smarter, can I make this more interesting?” 

You will succeed if you become more of who you already are. I always go out there and want to show my gratitude to folks. I drink professionally, I don’t need to drink at home.

MPL: Who are your biggest fans?

Our most loyal fans are people who place the same culinary value on their choice in beverages as their choice in cuisine. And it’s always interesting to see the Caribbean peoples’ reactions to Sorel. I get the same response every time: “Is that Sorel? My grandmother makes the best Sorel!” Then they try it and go “not bad”—which is the best complement you could ever get from a Caribbean person.

We do six events a week in Red Hook. It’s very guerrilla–my goal is to put the product into people’s mouths. If people taste it, they buy it.

MPL: What’s been a source of strength for your throughout the process?

We launched in May 2012…in October of 2012, hurricane sandy destroyed the headquarters. Everything was destroyed. It was an unmitigated disaster…so that was a major setback. 

I cried- A Lot, but the neighborhood refused to quit, and since no one else quit, I figured neither could I. Everyone helped everyone else. I took the fact that I survived as a direct result of my community. 

– Interview by Jack Meyers

– Photos courtesy of Jackie Summers


The Pennsylvania Book Publisher with a Purpose

Ever since I was a kid, my room has been over-flowing with books—science fiction, history, action, classics. You name it, I read it. So, this week I was thrilled when I got to fulfill the life-long dream of bookworms everywhere; to go behind the scenes and learn about the people who make books.

I sat down with Bruce Franklin, a descendant of Benjamin Franklin’s brother John Franklin, and it was obvious how his passion for history had bound him to his latest project: Westholme Publishing, an independent body of authors which he alone directs out of his 19th century farmhouse in Yardley, PA. Right away he took me to his library, which, brimming with books, showed me that his passion for pages is what it takes to be a wholesome book-maker. Here’s what else Bruce had to say about his verbatim adventures:

Maureen Petrosky Lifestyle [MPL]: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got here?

I was studying for my Ph.D. at University of Chicago when I got a part-time job working at the U. Chicago Press in production. Someone was leaving and they offered me a full-time job—so I stepped up.

I was what we call “A.B.D.”—all but dissertation—I had given up on it. I learned how books are designed and produced and how to get rights.

Bruce was so passionate about writing history that he couldn’t wait any longer. He got a position at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Press house, which is where he learned about publicity and marketing, rounding out his publishing repertoire.

We don’t have a T.V. in our house. An avid listener of sports radio, Bruce instead stresses the importance of reading to and with his two kids. After all, it would be hard to resist getting lost in that library he’s created.

MPL: So, how did you start Westholme Publishing?

I began my career in university press publishing, but university presses operate on a different model than trade presses. They are constricted by the expectations of their authors and their mission to the academy. I wanted to publish books I like to read and admire. Every publisher has a unique set of ISBNs, the numbers that identify individual books, and I bought 1000.

I guess I was optimistic!

It turns out this was a genius move. In 2003, when the Seabiscuit movie came out, Bruce took on a re-print of the 1940’s original story by a then-famed horse-track writer.

Through production contacts, I figured out how to re-print the book. 

This re-print turned out to be a wild success. He was quickly featured in Publisher’s Weekly and he sold upwards of 20,000 copies.

MPL: How does the book publishing process work?

First, we take 10 weeks for the editorial process. Bruce takes the book from beginning to end and shares directly with the authors his own insights and edits. In Westholme’s earlier days (that’s still the first decade of the 2000s) he worked with an author, Hugh Soar, exclusively over fax machine.

He was located in the U.K. and we talked back and forth over fax machine. I used floppy disks, but even then floppy disks were outdated. 

Luckily the book, “The Crooked Stick,” was a niche hit and it caught the eye of Erich Eichmann, reviews editor of the Wall Street Journal. A colleague of his was a long bow fanatic and that led to a major review in the paper. Bruce keeps in touch with Eichman and the two share a passion for discussing books and publishing.

MPL: What has been one of your best-received books? 

It was To Raise Up a Nation by William King. He’s a truck driver who would think through everything while driving and then go to the public library when he was free to write the book. Usually I say, ‘If you get bored, cut it,’ but this one was exciting all the way through.

In fact, this book sold more than 5,000 copies and was given the Outstanding Academic Title award by Choice magazine, which reviews academic libraries.

This title is considered “tenure-granting” for university professors. 

In other words, it was an overwhelming success for Bruce, who does all of this work from the comfort of his 19th-century farmhouse.

MPL: Tell me about your authors. How do you find them and who are they?

I have authors all over the world. I was recently working with an author who’s living in Chile, and many are from the U.K.  I sometimes commission books, but I also get plenty of proposals. The great thing about commissioning a book is that you have no competition.

As tribute to Westholme’s global reach, it turns out that Pope Francis has gotten his hands on a copy of Saint Katharine, one of Bruce’s Fall 2014 new releases, a nun who defended the rights of African Americans and Native Americans to equal education across the country.

MPL: Who are your biggest fans?

I target general readers of history, mainly guys in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who are passionate about history.

He explained that the unsung heroes and unwritten stories make his publishing house stand out among the rest.

MPL: What do you think about e-books? Do you think people would rather hold a book than see it on a screen?

Contrary to what some suppose, I think they are ideal for older readers. E-books have allowed an older generation of reader to continue to enjoy their pastime, a “bonus” market, if you will, from the intended younger, digital audience that first spurred e-book development. In addition, those with eye problems, young and old, have benefited from being able to adjust the size of the type on the screen.

For my business, it’s great because those over 40 do begin to lose the ability to read smaller type.

People buy books to take a break from their screens. But, I can’t imagine [print] books going away anytime soon because so many people are still writing away. And I still get the thrill of seeing how a finished book looks.

MPL: Who else is on your team? Who does marketing for you?

I have a group of people who have been with me since the beginning. My designer is in Brooklyn, my proofreader in Oregon, my cartographer in Oklahoma, my indexers in Maine and Indiana, and my copy editors in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Virginia. I do all the marketing, editorial, and production tasks myself, and anything else that needs to be done.

And it’s clear his hard work has paid off – this year was Westholme’s 10th birthday!

Interview and Story by Jack Meyers

John & Kira’s- The Chocolate Life

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

If that’s the case, Angela Sticco the woman behind making those boxes of chocolate has life all figured out. She’s the head chocolatier at the Philadelphia- based chocolate company, John and Kira’s. She’s crazy smart and savvy, and she’s dishing with us at maker lifestyle on living a life in chocolate.

Except for taste- testing, what’s your favorite part of making chocolate? A lot of the skills we use on a daily basis in the kitchen allow us to use both a delicate and forceful hand, which I find is quite fun. Sometimes we have to use a softer touch (like when we are piping stems onto our cherries), but other times we get to bang things around and make loud noises (when we are molding or knocking candies out of molds). Getting to do both of those things in the same job keeps things interesting and fun around here.

What’s your favorite product to make? I love making our every flavor box, which consists of 10 different flavors of ganache squares enrobed in 62% Valrhona chocolate.  There’re a lot of steps that go into the process and the end result is a box with beautifully balanced flavors that is sure to excite any true chocoholic. The flavors are mint, honey, lavender, coffee, strawberry, raspberry, pistachio, ginger, lemongrass, bergamot tea and star anise.  The entire process takes a lot of finesse to pull off correctly, but there’s a great deal of satisfaction in the end!

Dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate- go! Milk chocolate is a great pairing with a lot of the more bold and delicate ingredients we use at John and Kira’s. We make a honey lavender ganache that simply wouldn’t work with a darker chocolate because it would just wash out the delicateness of the honey and lavender together. When we pair those ingredients with a 40% milk chocolate it balances out all of the flavors so that no one thing is competing against the other. As far as I’m concerned there is no real debate, both dark and milk have their places. It really depends on what flavors you are trying to play off of them.

What makes your chocolate different from the other guys? I believe our chocolates are different from others because of the fun, whimsical nature behind them and also because of our attention to detail. Our ladybugs and bees never hesitate to impress people with the way that they look on the outside, and you also get the added bonus that our flavors are very well balanced. We take a lot of time to craft the right flavors for each box.

What drink would you pair with your chocolates? I am a firm believer that champagne and chocolate are the perfect accompaniments to any good meal.  If you can’t find pleasure in some fine chocolates and a sparkling wine, I truly feel bad for you! I also find that intense fruity wines pair very well with chocolate. Fortified wines like Marsala and Maderia pair very nicely, but if those are too sweet for your palate I recommend trying a Syrah or a Cabernet Sauvignon.

What is it about chocolate that gets you up in the morning? The excitement of the fact that I have a job that I actually love to do. I love to work with my hands and create edible art and I also love that what we do makes people happy. I never get tired of seeing someone smile when they eat some of our chocolate, or the compliments we receive from customers. It’s very hard work, but it’s also rewarding and fun. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

What’s your most popular product? The caramel bees are always a crowd pleaser. They are filled with a liquid salted honey caramel that pairs beautifully with their dark chocolate shell.

How did you get started in the chocolate world? I sort of fell into the chocolate industry, it wasn’t something that I expected to happen. I went to culinary school in Philadelphia, did a pastry apprenticeship in France and discovered that I loved chocolate and confectionery work. After that I worked a few years in Philly for a small confectionery company, followed by a life changing experience living and working in Sicily for 2 years. After all of my travels one thing was clear- I love making candy. Happily, I ended up at John and Kira’s in the late summer of 2010.

Are there any secrets in the chocolate business you can share? This isn’t a secret about the chocolate business, but about the food business in general: It is not for the faint of heart! For the most part I like the amount of food contests that have infiltrated television over the last few years, but I assure you it’s not an easy career path. It takes a ton of discipline, focus and tenacity. It is not as glamorous as it seems on TV- we actually wash our own dishes and clean our own kitchen!

Find these awesome chocolates on www.johnandkiras.com or by calling 1-800-747-4808.

By Michael Nunes