Backyard Party Ideas with @TheBoozyBungalow
We met Emily Farris of @TheBoozyBungalow during one of our Instagram scrolls and fell in love with her sharp humor and irreverent style.
Since we’ve been feeling very “summer” these last few weeks, we asked Emily to come up with a special cocktail for sipping outside with friends. Call it a backyard party idea, call it a staycation — we call it like we taste it: delicious.
We also took some time to catch up with Emily: her work, her life, and how she came to acquire all these cool skills she has.
You’ve had a very busy freelance life! Can you describe how you allocate your work days lately? Is BB your main focus, or are you still spending a lot of time in the freelance world?
While I would love to create cocktail recipes, rearrange my house, and take pictures full time, I don’t think I’m really cut out for the influencer life. I joke that I’m the anti-influencer; I’m a total pottymouth, I’m constantly hopping on IG stories with no makeup, and my house actually has color in it. The big problem, though, is that I refuse to post about things I don’t truly love (I’m the one who first reached out to Article for a partnership) or fill my feed with sponsored posts — which makes it kinda hard to make a living on social media. Oh, and my amazing, wonderful husband is good at many things, but taking flattering pictures of me is not one of them. An Instagram husband he is not! So, I do a sponsored post every once in a while to justify this little time-sucking passion project, and so far it’s working out okay. Plus, it’s fun to have a thing that’s just mine. I can write what I want, when I want, and I don’t have to answer to anyone.
That said, I do pay the bills creating content. I’ve been a professional lifestyle writer for nearly 20 years, and I also do copywriting, recipe development, and food and drink photography for brands. Earlier this year, I launched an online course all about writing for social media, and I offer a little one-on-one coaching as part of that business. And I guess if that does well enough, I could do The Boozy Bungalow full time without relying on sponsors. So quick, everybody go buy my course!
As far as my schedule, I wish I could tell you I’m super organized and on top of everything, but most days I’m just scrambling to get things done. I’m sure it’s a combination of being a freelancer and a working mom, combined with my ADHD (I was diagnosed last spring at age 36, but looking back it was so obvious all along). My diagnosis made me more aware of my workaholic tendencies, too. I used to work all the time, including nights and weekends, but I’ve been trying to work less in the evenings so I can spend more time with my family. It’s hard to not slip back into old habits, especially when my to-do list gets overwhelmingly long, but it’s nice to just close my laptop and (try to) ignore it after 5 pm.
Do you have any formal training in interior design? What piqued your interest in home decor?
No formal training! Like most things, I’m self taught. And I’m sure I make all kinds of mistakes and break all kinds of rules. But I’ve always been drawn to design — print, fashion, interior — and it’s impossible to turn off the part of my brain that wants to make things prettier or more interesting (believe me, I’ve tried; it can be an expensive habit).
I’m not really sure where I get it. Neither of my parents were into into design. They divorced when I was young, and at both homes, the furniture was utilitarian, at best. But I remember how nice it felt to walk into a home that had clearly been considered, and thinking I wanted to create a home like that someday. So, I started where I could: my bedroom. I was constantly changing up the decor in my space and I’m pretty sure I first painted my room when I was 10 or 11. It was red sponge paint halfway up the wall, where it was met by a black-and-white checkered border. Of course.
Also: cocktails. Can you tell us more about your experience as a recipe developer? Your process, how you research, what kinds of tastes you’re drawn to — the people want to know!
I’ve been creating random drink concoctions for as long as I can remember. Even when I was a kid I would mix Pixy Sticks with water and juice to try to make it into something palatable. Again, I wish I could say I had some magical, tried-and-true process for developing a cocktail recipe, but inspiration strikes all over the place — in my little container garden, at the grocery store, a random bottle of booze that arrives in the mail, when I’m enjoying a meal that I love, and every once in a while a new recipe comes to me when I’m not enjoying a drink and decide I can make a better version. Sometimes it’s even a particular glass or pitcher (usually vintage) that inspires me to come up with a new cocktail.
Because I’ve done so much professional recipe development, and drink so many cocktails (for research, of course!) I have a pretty good idea of what flavors work together and how. So, when I get an idea for a new drink, the recipe usually comes to me pretty quickly and I’d say 97% of the time it works on the first try, save for small adjustments like a few more dashes of bitters, a squeeze of lemon, little less less simple syrup, etc. And syrups are my favorite! I kinda hate cooking, but I love, love, love making cocktail syrups, depending on what’s in season or what I want to drink at any given time. I make rhubarb syrup in the spring, herbal syrups in the summer, and spicy syrups in the fall and winter.
Other than that, I gravitate toward whiskey-based drinks with citrus or bitters, and always just enough sweetness to be balanced but never, ever too sweet. I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t really have a sweet tooth.
What’s your favorite thing to do on your patio? We’re kind of looking for some backyard party ideas…
I’ve always been a homebody, and even more so since my son was born a few years ago, so mostly I love just relaxing on my patio in the evenings with my husband or friends while we enjoy a cocktail under the string lights. To be honest, I loathe the summer months and am pretty much allergic to the sun, so I tend to make the most of my outdoor space in the spring and fall. I can’t wait for it to get chilly so I can spend more nights on my newly redesigned back deck!
I’ve also given up on actual gardening and do some container gardening on the deck, too. When we bought our 1916 Arts & Crafts bungalow in 2012, we were drawn to many things, including an entire extra lot. We had grand plans to turn it into a little urban farm, and in a way we did — we have four chickens — but we also have two rowdy rescue mutts and a ridiculously invasive weed that smothered everything we tried to plant. So now I just grow a few herbs — two of which were the inspiration for my Late-Summer Lemonade made with a basil-mint syrup.
This bubbly, boozy lemonade was inspired by the massive amounts of basil and mint that pop up in my little back-deck container garden in the late summer months. Whiskey is my spirit of choice for this drink but vodka or tequila would work, too. You can also just skip the booze all together. Because the proportions are super easy, you can mix up one to cool off after a long, hot day, or prepare it as a punch for a patio party.
Most of the time, I recommend squeezing your own fresh lemon juice for cocktails, but if you’re making this in a big batch, that’s a lot of labor. Luckily, I’ve found a bottled lemon juice, Santa Cruz, that’s fabulous in cocktails. Just be sure to give it a good shake before you use it.
- 1 part basil-mint syrup*
- 1 part lemon juice
- 1 part whiskey
- 2 parts club soda
- Basil or mint sprig for garnish
Add the syrup, lemon juice, and whiskey to a glass, mix well, add a handful of ice, give it another quick stir, then garnish with a sprig of fresh mint or basil.
Yield: 2 cups
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup loosely-packed basil leaves (some stems okay)
- 1 cup loosely-packed mint leaves (some stems okay)
To make the basil-mint simple syrup, combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir well and bring it to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and add the herbs, stirring once to incorporate. Let the mixture steep for at least a half hour (even better, let it sit until it cools completely). Strain using a fine mesh sieve and discard the herbs, and transfer into a sealed jar or bottle. This will keep in the fridge for at least two weeks, but honestly… it’s fine for a lot longer.