Thursday, August 28, 2014

Brew Ha-Ha

This past weekend, John and I ventured out of our comfort zone (read: the same 5 places we go when we go out to dinner) and headed down to Cincinnati for Brew Ha-Ha. Held at Sawyer Point, the Brew Ha-Ha is a 3 day beer and comedy festival benefiting the fight to cure cancer. The event was free but you paid $5 for a wristband to be able to drink and $1/taste. Throughout the day, there were local comedians performing sets on a few different stages leading up the the headliners at night.


Believe it or not, with over 100 beers to choose from, we had tried the majority of them. The rule of the day was not trying anything we'd had before. We had big plans to sample a lot but the rain had other ideas. We spent a lot of time seeking shelter under a tunnel and then later under a tree. P.S. Trees don't really provide shelter from driving rain.

Rainy view from the tunnel with 50 other people

Prior to the rain, I debuted my new knock-off sunnies. Instead of $170, I paid $14. You can get them here, thanks to my friend who is always looking out for me and now we are sunnies twins!



In the end, we only tried a handful before moving on to dinner but the award for Most Interesting goes to Shocktop's Spiced Banana Wheat. The nose was full on banana. The taste provided a typical summer wheat but a strong banana flavor came through on the finish. I wanted it to be spicier but it was still interesting.

We only got to hear a few short comedy sets before bailing. Some were funny, most were not. I think they must get funnier as the night wears on, and as you have more beer. The headliner was David Alan Grier but he wouldn't have gone on until much later and we hadn't planned on staying anyway. As it happens, the rain didn't let up all that much so the umbrellas we had left in the car wouldn't have helped. There were lots of food trucks where we could have found dinner but in the interest of exploration, we ended up here:



This is the Rookwood restaurant which is housed in the old Rookwood Pottery manufacturing facility in Mt. Adams. The interior still has all the original fixtures and woodwork. You can even sit at tables inside the giant kilns that are still intact, though, thankfully not functioning. There was a neat outside patio/deck area but again, the rain deterred us from sitting out there. I had a delightful garden burger and John got the pastrami sandwich. Prices were incredibly reasonable for sandwiches. The entrees were a bit more expensive but I'm sure they are worth it. My burger and John's sandwich got many Mmmm's from us throughout the meal. John even said he liked the garden burger which is a glowing seal of approval.

After dinner, we headed behind the restaurant to check out the view of the Queen City.



We considered picking up dessert closer to our house but in the end, made s'mores in the oven. My friends, if you are jonesing for a s'more but don't feel like building a fire, turn on your broiler!!! A couple minutes and you have a gooey, melty treat to be devoured. I didn't take any pictures of me eating said s'more because it wasn't pretty. It WAS pretty delicious though.

I'll chalk this up to a very successful adventure and hopefully it will inspire us to to continue to try new places, even if it means driving an hour south.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

All the Light We Cannot See

This new release from Anthony Doerr has been climbing the charts so I decided to check it out for myself.

Source

Good Reads' Synopsis: "Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works as the master of the locks (there are thousands of locks in the museum). When she is six, she goes blind, and her father builds her a model of their neighborhood, every house, every manhole, so she can memorize it with her fingers and navigate the real streets with her feet and cane. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's agoraphobic great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall.

In another world in Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at an elite and brutal military academy and, ultimately, makes him a highly specialized tracker of the Resistance. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

Doerr's gorgeous combination of soaring imagination with observation is electric. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, All the Light We Cannot See is his most ambitious and dazzling work."

What I Thought: I wasn't sure how to take the short, snippet chapters at first but in the end, I liked that style for hopping back and forth between Werner and Marie-Laure. I found myself anticipating the part where they would inevitably meet up and what would happen after that. I loved Marie-Laure's independence and Werner's wishes to be back with his sister. I really Doerr's writing and the story. If you like historical fiction, especially during WWII, you'll like this one a lot.

Rating: * * *

Monday, August 25, 2014

Recipe Reblog - BBQ Turkey Meatballs over Cheddar Corn Quinoa

Confession.

In recent months, I've done a terrible job of cooking up new-to-me recipes. I find them online and pin them all the time and then just never make them. I'm very consistent in gravitating towards the easier recipes I've made 100 times for quickness and familiarity.

I'm so glad I broke that cycle with this one.

BBQ Turkey Meatballs over Cheddar Corn Quinoa: This recipe is from Pink Parsley and I've made and enjoyed several things she's posted. In our house, we use ground turkey almost exclusively over ground beef for health and cost reasons. The flavor in these meatballs was awesome! I love incorporating BBQ sauce in non-traditional ways. I did use extra sauce for dipping. The quinoa was a much fancier side dish than the plain quinoa I normally make. I'm glad to have classed things up a bit. I did mix up the meatballs ahead and refrigerated them to save me time on a weeknight. I also ran out of scallions but I don't think anything suffered and I know John didn't notice. I will be making this one again soon, and you should too!

Remember back in 2011 where I made a new recipe every week? Maybe I ought to reinstate that challenge.

P.S. Blogger spell check thinks I spell quinoa wrong. Get with the times! It's only the hottest grain around. Sheesh.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Time Marches On

-That moment when you see a girl wearing something cute and you think about asking her where it's from then realize she's not even old enough to vote

-When you can't go up the stairs without your knees, ankles or toes cracking

-Being able to say, "I haven't watched this in 20 years....." (Kill me now)

-Knowing that extra glass of wine is most definitely going to give your morning an even slower start

-Forgetting how old you are and then having to do the math in your head while someone looks at you like you are a total nutter because you DON'T KNOW how old you are

-Spending a lot of time pursing your lips in the mirror to watch your smile lines disappear

-Being concerned with adding things like flax, omega-3's, supplements into your diet because you probably aren't getting enough of them anyway

-Making sure you turn on CBS Sunday Morning just as it starts and getting excited to watch the entire thing


Oof.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Interestings

Look! Another camp book that is actually about camp this time. Well, most of it. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer has popped up on a lot of lists lately. I actually had it on hold for me at the library months ago but I was out of town and couldn't get to it in time.

Source


Good Reads' Synopsis: "The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestingsexplores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life."
What I Thought: This one had a lot of promise for me in the beginning. I enjoyed getting to know the characters as teenagers. It transported me back to a time when I could have pointed out a person in my life to fit every one of these kids. However, as they aged and their stories continued it just dragged on a bit. There was no real spark. I wasn't invested in their futures or where they ended up. I kept wishing Wolitzer had spent more time developing their stories at camp. It just felt a bit flat which was disappointing.


Rating: * * 1/2

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lucky Star Brewery

A couple weekends ago, John and I were entertaining his parents at the B&B. Now, John is the breakfast maker around these parts. I couldn't flip a pancake to save my life. But, I was in charge on Saturday and made scones. Knowing that wasn't enough to sustain our day until lunchtime, I supplemented with a genius idea. Yogurt bar! It was a great way for everyone to customize their own parfaits with berries, coconut, walnuts, etc. Healthy option with fruit and protein. I think it was a big hit. After breakfast, I attempted a new hairstyle.



Dutch braids! If you don't know the difference, a Dutch braid is done by passing the strands under each other as opposed to a French braid in which the strands go over. The result is a braid that sits on top of the other hair. Some people call it an inside out braid. I followed this tutorial and felt like it did a good job explaining the steps.

What does this have to do with Lucky Star Brewery? 

Well, nothing really. Just that I was really proud of my handiwork. It was a hot day and my hair was off my neck. that was the main goal. Plus, it looked cute.

Onto the brews!




Lucky Star is the latest local brewery to open here in the Dayton area. It's located in Miamisburg about a block down the street from Star City Brewing Co., which we also took my in laws to for the first time. This was opening weekend for Lucky Star so we weren't sure if it would be too crowded to check it out. 
(Spoiler Alert: it wasn't).




Along with some brew kettles, the interior is brightly painted with Mexican decorations all over, including this hand painted skeleton face on the wall. Pretty fancy, eh?



They have 5 beers and their own root beer on tap. The flight was $6.42. Don't ask me why I remembered that exact amount. Maybe because I thought the tax on top was a little odd. But, the flight board was a cute wooden star and the glasses were mini handled mason jars. Too cute!



John doing what he does best


Here is the part where I have to slap my blogger self on the wrist. I didn't take a single note and I didn't take a picture of the board listing all of the beer. Duh. In my defense, we had been to a beer festival in Cincinnati first, then Star City. So, this was the third stop and I may not have been as sharp as I should have been.

What I definitely remember is that the hands down favorite at the table was what they're calling a Sweet Stout, but was really a milk stout. I love a good milk stout but my mother-in-law LOOOOVES a good milk stout and she was downright giddy for this one. Star City's milk stout is tasty and we were excited to have her try that but on this day, it wasn't very good. Something was off in that batch and we were disappointed. But, this Sweet Stout made up for it ten fold.

I know they had an Irish Red, a lager or wheat (what I'm holding up), probably an IPA that I would have skipped and maybe an Amber? That's my best guess. The 6th glass on the board is the ROOT BEER!! Root beer is my jam, y'all. I don't drink pop but if you hand me a frosty mug o' root beer I will drain that thing in about 2 seconds. It was sweet and crisp and simply amazing. It's non-alcoholic, just so there's no confusion. What this means is that if you have a buddy who is not into beer, they can come to Lucky Star with you and order the root beer instead!

Why would I go to a brewery and not get beer? For the chips and guacamole, of course! There is a small food menu and had we not been heading home to burgers and brats, we would have stuck there for dinner. The chips and guac were only $3.50 and holy cow was that guacamole full of flavor. There are several types of tacos available too and all reasonably priced. Service was fast and friendly the whole time we were there. The space is pretty sizable. You can sit at the bar or there are plenty of tables as well.

You're still here reading? Put your shoes on and get over there already!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Written in My Own Heart's Blood

I have been waiting for this book for 3 years! It is the latest installment in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I've been waiting so long that I completely forgot what happened in the last book. I probably should have read my own review or another synopsis. No matter. I still remembered all my old friends.


Source




Good Reads' Synopsis: "WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth novel in the world-famous OUTLANDER series. In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married Jamie’s wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel _and_ a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for Ian’s Quaker betrothed.

Meanwhile, Claire Fraser deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she’s facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand. Fortunately, her daughter has a miniature cricket bat and her mother’s pragmatism.

The best of historical fiction with a Moebius twist, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD weaves the fibers of a family’s life through the tapestry of historical drama."

What I Thought: Well, this didn't make as much of a splash for me as I had hoped. In 800+ pages it didn't really seem like a whole lot happened. Of course that's not true but I felt as if it was a bridge book. Like we were just trying to end up somewhere for the next book, which won't come out for even more years. I liked it because I enjoy the series but I wanted to like it a lot more. If you haven't read any of the Outlander books, obviously start at the beginning. But know that they are large and it will take you awhile. The journey is worth it.

Rating: * * *

Additional exciting information! Starz is now showing the new Outlander series. Do you have Starz? I do not. Can I come to your house and watch???? The actors they selected for Jamie and Claire do not fit my personal vision of them but I'm still excited to see it. Even if I have to buy it on DVD (do they still sell DVD'S?) whenever it comes out. If you've watched it, PLEASE tell me how it is.