Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

And so we meet again, December 31st. You come every year bringing the opportunity to say goodbye to another year. 2012 was a good one for me. It went by in a blink but it brought a lot of good memories and very few bad ones. That's really all you can ask for in another year of life, right?

A new year brings new promises. Rebirth. Renewed commitments. I, of course, have been mulling over my resolutions.  A lot of people think resolutions are made to be broken but I wholeheartedly try my darnedest to keep mine. In the end, I think (I hope) I'm a better person for it. my big resolution for 2012 was to run 500 miles. After I've tallied it up, you'll have to return in January to see what happened with that. Regardless of the outcome, it was a goal I worked toward the entire year with lots of sweat and determination. To me, that is the whole point of a resolution...bettering yourself the whole year through.

What will 2013 hold for me? Lots of excitement, to be sure. What will 2013 hold for you?

Cheers to the new year!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

We wish you the merriest, the merriest!

Merry Christmas to you all! I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. Good food. And that you get everything you always wanted.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pre-Christmas Beer

One last Christmas beer before the big day? Why not?


Sorry about the blurry photo

This is 5 Golden Rings from The Bruery. I have overlooked this for weeks at the store due to price ($10.00 for a 22 oz. bottle). But I kept reading good things about it and my friend also read good things so on the final weekend before Christmas, I loosened the purse strings.

From the website: "5 Golden Rings is the 5th verse in our ‘12 Days of Christmas’ winter seasonal ale series. The only golden ale in the bunch, we spiced up the natural pause in the classic song with cinnamon, allspice and ginger along with the delicious sweet and tangy flavor of pineapple."


I was all set to love this one but truthfully, it was a big let down. The addition of pineapple was a bit strange (and I usually like strange). The spices weren't forward enough for me either. It was an okay beer if you aren't hoping for one that screams HOLIDAY! But otherwise, kind of a disappointment.


Merry Christmas Eve!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Recipe Reblog: Hot Buttered Bourbon

John is the bourbon lover in our house. If you'll remember, we went to Bourbon Country down in Kentucky for his birthday earlier this year? But, I found this drink recipe and thought it sounded good enough, even for me.



Hot Buttered Bourbon: The nice part about this recipe is if you have bourbon, then you probably have all other ingredients on hand. It's a belly warmer for a cold winter night. Heated up on the stove and poured in a mug, you've got a great holiday beverage keen to soothe the senses. Even if you are not a bourbon fan, you'll probably like this. There are enough spices and other ingredients (plus OJ) here to mask that flavor. Mix this up today or for the holiday. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wild


Source

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed has spent many weeks on the NY Times Best Seller's list and I spent just as long waiting for it to be available for me at the library.

Good Reads' Synopsis: "A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
 
At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's devastating death, her family scattered, and her own marriage was soon destroyed. With nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than "an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise." But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. Gorgeously told, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild is the vivid story of a young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her."
What I Thought: Very often these kinds of books don't like up to the hype but I really enjoyed this one. Strayed has a wonderful story of bravery and soul searching to tell. While I have no interest in hiking, I found myself captured by her journey and admiring the guts she has. A quickly paced style offered up a fast and intriguing read. If you're needing a little non-fiction in your life, give this a try.

Rating: * * * *

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cowls Completed!




I am finished! Over the past few months, I made 10 cowls to gift this Christmas. What a feather in my crafting hat! I had true intentions of showing you all the yarn I used and what patterns I made up for each one but I got lazy. I had my eyes on the prize and those intentions quickly went by the wayside. I used a Lion Brand Thick & Quick, Bernat Roving, Deborah Norville (I can't remember what kind) and sewed up a couple as well. Some were knit seed stitch, some in the round, and some plain old garter.

See?



 I worked really hard to select colors and styles that reflected every one's personalities. There are 2 black and white houndstooths (in case you're counting) for the only guys in the bunch. Also, they're not cowls, just regular scarves. Do guys wear cowls? I would have modeled all of my handiwork for you but I didn't do my hair. Don't judge me. It was a Sunday in which I would not meet the public eye.

I wanted to show you this one because it's fancy and a little bit wild! I used Thick & Quick and also Lion Brand's Fun Fur. Very please with how it turned out. And pleased with the Christmas tree upon which to display it.



This one is my favorite! Mustard is my jam (no pun intended) and lucky for me, I bought a second skein to knit one up for myself now that all is said and done with the gifts. Don't you love the ribbing? LOVE! My arm looks creepy in this picture.




But my crafting didn't stop there. As soon as I've put the finishing touches on my Christmas day outfit, I'll tell you all about it. My back is killing me from 4 straight hours bent over my sewing machine but I'm confident it'll be worth it in the end.

Did you get all your crafty gifts finished in time? It's not too late!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brews of the Week

We interrupt this regularly schedule Christmas beer programming to bring you a couple beers of a special nature.



This is Innis & Gunn from Scotland. We had it a few weeks ago but I forgot to tell you about it. At the tasting, it was served in a tulip glass so I followed suit here. This Innis & Gunn is aged in rum barrels. So, if you like rum and you like beer, this one is for you! This is the Rum Cask but we also tried the Spiced Rum one which was equally as tasty. Both carry the sweetness of rum with a nice finish. I can't find any tasting notes on this one on their site. I don't know what that's about. Retails for about $11.99/6 pack. Give this a try for a little something different.

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The other weekend at our beer store they were tasting beers from the Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY. While there were others of note, this one was my favorite so I'll tell you about it. Seduction. If you like chocolate, this one is for you! It is a thick Belgian-style with a strong chocolate flavor and a cherry finish.

From the site: "Beautiful, rich and smooth, roasty and malty throughout, Seduction offers balanced chocolate-cherry notes, a bit of caramel sweetness and a long slow finish. Seduction is welcoming and warm-hearted, gently hopped and harbors no bitterness, leaving only a lingering glow."

No bitterness? Count me in! This was only available in a 750 mL bottle for, I think, $11.99 so we didn't buy it but it's definitely worth trying. Tasty and smooth wins every time.


P.S. Yesterday's was my 800th post. Who'da thunk?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Recipe Reblog: Sausage Pasta Bake

Comfort food to the max today, everybody! And special bonus, the main colors in this dish are red and green. Christmas pasta, anyone?

Baked Pasta with Sausage and Spinach: This recipe comes from Gina's Skinny Taste, a great site for healthy and delicious recipes of all kinds. Spend a little time going through her recipe index. It's worth it. I was looking for a 3-nighter (what John and I call a meal that we eat for 3 nights effectively cutting out a day of cooking). A 9x13 pan of pasta, sausage, spinach and marinara? Yeah, that'll work. We lightened it up (as Gina recommends) with chicken sausage. If you're afraid of chicken or turkey sausage, this is a good one to try it with as it's hidden amongst lots of other ingredients. I took a shortcut and used frozen spinach instead of wilting in fresh. Not only did this serve us for 3 nights, but we also froze 2 servings so, it feeds a crowd. This was really good and SUPER filling. It came together pretty quickly too. It can be prepared ahead and baked later on, which is a nice time saver. Give this one a try when you're all ham and turkeyed out from Christmas!

How's your shopping coming along? Got all your presents wrapped? Get cracking!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Casual Vacancy

Well, well, well. It's been awhile since I finished a book, eh? I've been slogging through an 800 pager and read this one in the middle of it. Because I am a fan of J. K. Rowling's work through Harry Potter, I thought it only fair to give her a chance on her new adult fiction, The Casual Vacancy.


Source


Good Reads' Synopsis: "When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils ... Pagford is not what it first seems.
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?"

What I Thought: I'm not even really sure where to start here. I wanted to like this very badly but I read a couple not-so-glowing reviews before borrowing it from the library. Instead, I cracked it open with lowered expectations. One of Rowling's strong points, character development, is certainly at work here and I appreciated that. The pace of the story was extremely slow. I only stuck with it because I did want to see what happened. The story picked up in the last 100 pages or so, thankfully. But, since it's 700+ pages anyway, that's a lot of trudging. Written by anyone else, this would not receive much attention. I hate doing this but I advise you skip it. I've heard they're making a miniseries on BBC of it. It might come off better on screen than on the page.

Rating: * * 1/2

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Beginner's Guide to Hot Yoga

This past summer, I bought a Groupon for 10 classes of hot yoga for $39. A STEAL! Hot yoga, or Bikram, is something I have always wanted to try but there were limited options in the Dayton area. Not surprising. This new studio is dedicated solely to the practice of hot yoga, and is relatively close to my house. If you're unfamiliar, this type of yoga is practiced in a room that is cranked up to 100 degrees. For 90 minutes, you sweat your way through 2 breathing exercises and 26 poses, both standing and floor. Same poses every time.

I have only attended a handful of classes so I'm still very much a beginner. But, here are some things I wish someone had told me before my first HOT experience.

1) Wear as little clothing as possible, depending on your level of comfort. I wear short compression shorts and a tank top. There are crazy people who wear long pants. I don't know how they aren't dead before class is finished. It's best to pick a wicking fabric as well. Cotton becomes heavy with sweat and can be uncomfortable.

2) Drink water! Before, during and after. You want to make sure you're well-hydrated before heading to class. Some people don't like to drink during class but I wouldn't be able to make it through without cooling off every now and then. It's especially important to drink water after class too to replenish everything you just sweat out. Gross fast: I sweat out 2-3 lbs of water each class. Got to replace that! I was going to take a picture of me post-class and then I thought better of posting something so unattractive.

3) If you need to modify a pose due to comfort level, that's okay. If you're light-headed, SIT DOWN. There is no shame in skipping a couple poses if you're feeling a bit strange. I'm told it's better to stay in the room if you can while you're resting. Something about the change in temperature and how your body responds. Last class, an old man laid down for a good 30 minutes. Truthfully, I think maybe he just wanted a place to nap.

4) Bring a towel. At the very least, you'll want one to wipe off your face. I don't think there's anything worse than sweat blinding you from rolling in your eyes. Another good place for a towel is on your mat. As you sweat, your mat gets slippery. I know. Eww. But it's true. The towel will give your feet something to grip while you're in the standing poses. They also sell sticky towels that grip to your mat on one side and absorb the sweat on the other.

5) It's yoga but it's intense yoga. You will likely be sore the next day. I walk out of there feeling rejuvenated and very alert but my legs feel like I just ran 6 miles. If you've never taken a regular yoga class in your life, you might not want to start with hot yoga.

Yoga is great for releasing toxins, relieving stress, giving yourself some me-time and it's just all around good for your well-being and fitness. Now you know!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Beers, part two

THIS is it. This is my favorite Christmas beer so far this year. It's not new but I had never tried it before. 

Say hello......




12 Dogs of Christmas Ale by the Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. is what we picked up this weekend upon the recommendation of our friendly beer monger. (What is the proper term for "beer salesman"? I realize it's probably not monger but I thought it had a nice ring.) When I asked his opinion he let me know that it was a top notch choice. Apparently, the brewmaster at Great Lake Brewing Co. abandoned ship and took the recipe for their beloved Christmas Ale when he went to Thirsty Dog. Hopefully this story is valid because I love a good scandal. While I don't go gaga for GLBC's Christmas Ale like everyone else in the world, THIS Christmas Ale is something worth writing about.

From the site: "Spiced for the holidays with honey, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and Santa's secret recipe." It stands at 8.3 % ABV (alcohol by volume) and carries 21.5 IBU's, relatively low on the bitter scale. 

Holy Christmas in a snifter, batman! Even though this is a dark beer that honey flavor comes through loud and clear. Believe me when I tell you that this is my new favorite. I loved this spice mixture and it reminded me of GLBC Christmas Ale when I first had it and the flavors were clearer than they are now. If this is on tap, it's what I'm ordering. Otherwise, it's $10.99 a 6 pack. Well, worth it.


After going on at length about that, I do have another one for you. It's much less exciting but I didn't want to be accused of neglect.



This is Cabin Fever from the New Holland Brewing Co. I chose it for two reason: 1) New Holland makes a delicious Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, 2) I thought the name was cute.

From the site: "Robust in character yet smooth in delivery, Cabin Fever is a roasty, brown ale and a hearty, comforting companion for long mind-bending winters. Its rye, roast and raisin notes carry off a subtle caramel sweetness and culminate in a dry finish."

I liked this one because I like a reliable brown ale but I don't know that I'd go out of my way to get it again. I was able to buy just one bottle of it, which was lucky. Any time someone at the beer store drops a 6 pack, the bottles that didn't break get sold as singles. If brown ales are your jam, give it a try. Otherwise, move on to more exciting seasonals.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Flu Shot Follies

Settle in for story time, friends. Everyone gather round!

We all know flu shots are important, yes? You've been seeing all the reports on the news about stronger strains, a faster flu season. Not immune to the hysteria, John and I decided we had best get our shots. We had been postponing it for weeks and finally saddled up. Last Wednesday, I stopped at CVS on my way home to get said shot and John was going to stop as well after his hair cut.

I signed into the Minute Clinic and was next in line. Forty-five long minutes later, my name was called. Minute Clinic, this was not. I was hungry and irritated but knew that the shot would be fast and I would be on my way to free Sadie and start dinner. I have had exactly one other flu shot in my life. This was during college because: 1) it was free, 2) I lived in a dorm with a LOT of germ-carrying people. That shot was fine. This one was not.

Breaking my cardinal needle rule, I looked at it as the nurse was filling it with the vaccine. I am not squeamish around blood but I NEVER LOOK AT THE NEEDLE. I'm not sure what made me feel cavalier in thinking I could handle a needle peek. I don't even look at the novacaine needle at the dentist. This needle was a lot larger than I was expecting and nerves started rolling in. The size of the needle was troubling because the pamphlet was touting that the needles they used were 90% smaller than before. If that's true, what did they used to look like??

Shot administered. Nurse says I owe nothing and I'm free to go. Hop off the table, gather my things and head out the store. After about 5 steps up the aisle, things were not going so well. My vision was spotty and I was a little dizzy. Just get to your car and sit down, I said to myself. One foot in front of the other, things are going downhill quickly. I can barely walk a straight line and have to steady myself on a shelf. In an attempt to pull myself together, I stopped to fake look at something on the shelf so people wouldn't think I was a weirdo.

I moved into another aisle and thought, I've got to sit down. Not wanting to do so in the middle of the aisle, I knelt down to pretend to look at something on the bottom of the shelf. It was a dog bed (not a crucial part of the story but a detail nonetheless). My vision is even worse, the dizziness overwhelming. In my ears, the sound of rushing water. Still checking out the dog bed and the next thing I know..........

"Ma'am, MA'AM! Are you all right?"

My eyes pop open and I discover that I'm on my back with a corpulent man is leaning over me. That's right, folks. I passed out in the middle of CVS. I have never fainted before in my life. I sat up, apologizing, and told those gathered around me that I'd just gotten a flu shot and that I was okay. People in line to check out are staring, gaping mouths.

"GET THE NURSE!"

He frantically shouts. A folding chair and a bottle of water are whisked to me. The nurse appears and asks what happened. She asks if I was hungry. I said, "Yes, I was hungry." To which I wanted to add, "because it took 45 minutes to be seen and it's now after 6:00 pm." I'm guided back to the Minute Clinic waiting area and told my vitals will be checked in about 10 minutes when I've had a chance to gather my wits. Twenty minutes later she finishes with the other patient. 

Blood pressure checked. I'm asked if I hit my head. Yes, yes I did. On a cardboard display of Russell Stovers candy. OK well, we are liable so come back if your head hurts. I'm sent on my way, crying all the way home of embarrassment and, I don't know what. John took good care of me and did not end up getting his shot that night because it would have taken too long.

The most disconcerting part of the story is not that if I hadn't knelt down I would have been standing when I fainted and could have hit my head on a metal shelf. Or that I had wanted to just make it to my car and sit down and could have fainted in the parking lot, hitting my head on unforgiving pavement. It might not even be that I passed out in front of a lot of people in a drug store. No. The most disconcerting part is that I was "ma'am'ed" and not "miss'ed". This is the second time in as many weeks that I was a Ma'am to a stranger. I may be hurtling towards 30 but I am a miss through and through. Sigh.

I wish I were making this all up but sadly, the facts are completely true.

Moral of the story..........Eat before your shot. Sit down for a few minutes afterward, just in case. And go with a buddy who can catch you if you faint.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Recipe Reblog: Roast Beef

Here's a recipe worthy of your intimate holiday parties coming up!

Roast Beef with Dijon-Caper Sauce: It's not very often that I say to John, "I am really in the mood for roast beef." Perhaps once a year do I buy a large cut of beef to roast or throw in the slow cooker. But the mood struck last week and I did a little digging for the perfect recipe. This comes from Bon Appetit so you know it's good! If you are not super into beef, do not brush this one off. The eye of round roast came out tender as can be when sliced super thin. We followed the recipe exactly and it cooked up to perfection. The dijon-caper sauce finished it beautifully. Please give this a try! It was super simple and will fool your guests into thinking you are a kitchen savant.


And now I'm off to sequester myself in the kitchen with mass amounts of flour in a marathon Christmas cookie baking session!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Beers, First Installment

I know I already blogged about the gingerbread beers so technically this isn't the first installment but this will be the first multi-beer post. Cool?




This is Southern Tier Brewing Co.'s holiday beer 2XMAS. (duh) It was one of the first ones out this season and we actually tried it a few weeks ago but I forgot to blog about it. I am a big fan of Southern Tier in general and their seasonal beers are unmatched (Pumking anyone?). So, I was pretty excited to try this out.

From the website: "We were inspired by a Glogg party, deciding on the spot to brew a beer in this Nordic tradition. 2xMas ale combines traditional brewing ingredients with fig, orange peels, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and ginger root. "

Sweet sassy molassy, I liked this one a lot. at 8% ABV it's got the extra warming quality you expect from a holiday brew. I loved the combination of flavors too. Nothing screams CHRISTMAS like the spices listed above. Recommended glass is a snifter which is what I used. It really lets the flavors expand. If you don't have a snifter, you should really invest in one. Mine was $2.00 and it really helps certain beers. This 6 pack retails for $10.99 so not the cheapest but expect most Christmas beers to be a bit pricier. 





Sam Adams' has a couple new Christmas beers every year. If you can get your hands on the mixed, seasonal 12 pack, you won't be sorry. White Christmas Ale is new to them this year.

From the website: "As crisp as the first snowfall of the year, this unfiltered white ale is blended with holiday spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange peel.  The familiar citrus and wheat characters of the ale are complemented by the warmth of the spices for a festive brew that’s perfect for the season."

I liked this one too but John thought they missed the mark on it. If you are a fan of Blue Moon or Hoegaarden, you'll like this one. I know it calls out the same flavors as the 2xMas but these are VERY different beers. The 6 pack usually runs about $8.99 but if you don't want to commit to 6 of these, there are 2 in the multi-pack so you can try them in there.




And for your viewing pleasure, a couple we tried in North Carolina on vacation. 




First, here is only half of the craft beer aisle at Total Wine & More which we discovered in Raleigh. From this side and the other side, you can mix your own 6 pack, priced per bottle. The nice Kroger by us also lets you do that but the selection is tiny. We were like kids in a beer candy store and it took a LONG time to make our choices. They had so many we had never heard of. It was insane! The nice thing about this is the ability to try so many varieties without having to buy a whole 6 pack of something you might not like.

Apologies in advance that I did not instagram these pics all pretty. Please forgive me.



This one was okay but not nearly as gingerbread-y as the Merry Mischief I wrote about the other day




This is the End of the World Midnight Wheat by Shock Top. John's had his eye on this for awhile because of the curious addition of chocolate, chilies and other spices. Yes, I said chili. However, there was no heat in this and very little chocolate. Kind of a disappointment.





Festive Ale is the Christmas offering from SweetWater Brewing Company located in Georgia. It was okay but not too memorable. It's also probably hard to come by, depending on your geographic location. Flavors of cinnamon and mace and smooth drinking but not terribly special.



What's been in your glass lately? Any good Christmas beers to put on my list to try?

TELL ME!

Tis the Season!

I know that I was not ready for Christmas things prior to Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I don't even know if I'm ready for Christmas now that it's December. Like it or not, the calendar marches on. In order to get myself into the holiday spirit, I planned a little kick-off weekend for John and me! It started on Friday night with this.






Wine and cheese have nothing to do with Christmas but I love both of them. They also got us in a festive mood to do this.


We put up our tree! More and better pictures another day. I was getting too frustrated with my phone. Guys, my tree skirt is missing. I have pulled out all the holiday storage bins and it is nowhere to be found. How does this happen? It's not as if I could have used it during other times of the year. We have zero idea of its whereabouts. I didn't like the skirts at any store we went to on Saturday and didn't feel like braving Saturday at JoAnn's to buy fabric to make one. I've got to remedy this next weekend. No tree deserves to go skirt-less.

On Saturday night, we had tickets to go see Scrooge, the musical. Growing up, my mom always picked a holiday play, show, or concert for us to go to and I always enjoyed it. I haven't done the best job of keeping up that tradition. This is the year that changes. Dayton actually has several Christmas events to choose from but I picked this one because it was at a small theatre I had never been to, and it was the cheapest ticket. Let's be honest. Frugal almost always wins with me.




The show was put on at the Dayton Playhouse which is located in the Wegerzyn Metroparks Garden.....in a not so great area of town. But we forged on. It's a small theatre but has been producing plays and musicals for 25 years. OK, I had extremely high hopes for this production. Having never seen Scrooge as an adapted musical of Dickens' Christmas Carol, I didn't really know what to expect. Guys, this was pretty terrible. I hate to even write that because I know how much work and effort and time and love goes into putting on a musical. This, however, was not really the cast's fault. (Although I do have to fault the cast for the finale song. Not a single person was smiling. Not one. No one smiled during the curtain call either. What is that about?!) The script and the songs took a lot of liberties and strayed quite a bit from the classic. I suppose as an adaptation, that's its right. The general theme was there but, yikes, pass on this one. John was beside himself with horror because he thought he was going to see a regular version of the show. When Scrooge started singing a song called "I Hate People, I Hate Women" I thought he might croak. Now I feel like I should pick a different show to redeem it but we are running out of weekends. Better luck next year....... At least we got out for a new experience, right? And we supported local theatre, which is good. Hopefully their other production choices are more successful.

And there you have it. Decorated. Christmas play watched. Mostly shopped. Exterior lights lit.


Bring on the mistletoe!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wish List

I didn't put these on my Christmas wish list so I don't expect to see any of them under the tree. But, if I had been a really extra good girl this year, Santa would be bringing me the following:

Source

The Uba Hoodie from Lululemon is just delicious. At $178 it's more than slightly out of anyone's price range. Sigh. I like the white but I think I'd get more use out of the black one.

Source


This one is by Brooks and is a STEAL at $110, right? It's the Utopia Thermal Hoodie. It features my new favorite thing about long sleeve and zip up hoodies....thumb holes! They keep your sleeves down. I think the Lulu one has thumb holes too. All the cool kids are wearing them. This one matches my beloved Brooks Adrenalines though. Brand loyalty, yo.




I am dying over the simplicity of this bag. Talk about a classic! The Transport Tote from Madewell retails for $168 but I feel like you would carry this for a lifetime. I get a new bag from John almost every year and this would definitely be on my list for him if I didn't already know what he purchased (I was with him). But, if you're looking for a workhorse of a bag, check this one out.


Source

These beautiful boots are the Melissa Button from Frye. I am ashamed to tell you their retail price but I'll do it anyway. If you've got $328, they can be yours! I am in love with the color and their casual style. I have brown riding boots but they're chocolate and these are not. Big difference.

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Ugh. These classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers. I know that I could get knock-offs much cheaper but because I have now gone several years in keeping my sunglasses alive, I think I could graduate to a designer pair. I used to lose or break all sunglasses. No longer. These are $150, well worth it.



What's on your wish list? Reasonable or not?




Monday, December 3, 2012

November Running Round Up

I honestly don't know what happened to my mileage this month. I ran three times in Raleigh but that doesn't account for the low numbers the rest of the month. My new love, hot yoga, may have played a part. More on that another day. At least one day that would have been a long run, I chose to sweat it out in the studio instead. Anyway, here's where we stand:



Nov 3: 5 mi TM in 43:42, 8:45 avg pace
Nov 6: 1 mi TM in 8:35, sore legs
Nov 11: 6 mi TM in 53:16, 8:53 avg pace
Nov 19: 2.5 mi OT, hilly
Nov 20: 3.1 mi OT, 32 mins, hilly 
Nov 22: 3.1 mi OT, ?? Mins
Nov 25: 4 mi TM in 34:14
Nov 27: 3.5 mi TM in 29:49, 8:42/8:30/8:18/4:19



Total: 28.2 miles

Only one more month this year. It feels so strange typing that. I wasn't going to count up my total mileage until the very end but I cheated and did it a couple weeks ago to see where I stood. But, you'll have to wait until the end of the month to see if I accomplished my New Year's Resolution for 2012, or not.........

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Raleigh Tourists, Part II

The first stop on this post actually happened the day before when we went to Chapel Hill but I felt like breaking it up. You're welcome! As you know, I am a wine lover. I also like finding and trying local wines and wineries when I'm in a new city. North Carolina has a bustling wine country but the most concentrated area of wineries and grape growing is in the more central and western parts of the state. In all my research, I found exactly 1 winery that was less than 30 minutes from my sister's house.


Chatham Hill is an urban winery in Morrisville, NC. We were a little unsure of where it was exactly because it's in a business park with no grapes around. Quite unorthodox. Once inside (where I didn't take a single picture!), we were pleasantly surprised. They had a tasting bar, retail area, and large open room with tables and chairs. We had the pleasure of having our tasting guided by the owner as we were the only ones in there on a Monday. Chatham Hill grows their grapes elsewhere but all the wine is made and stored onsite.

For $8/person, you got the tour (brief but informative), 6 tastings and the souvenir glass. We enjoyed several of their normal varieties but they also have a number of fruit wines. These were pretty syrupy, sweet and we didn't buy any of those. We did purchase both their Christmas Red and Christimas White and a bottle of Pinot Grigio to bring back to Ohio with us. The Christmas Red also came with a mulling recipe that was delicious. Really looking forward to sharing that with fellow wine drinkers this season.

If you're in the area, this is a good way to kill an hour and try some local wine without having to drive a few hours out of the way.


On Tuesday, we had other cultural things in mind. We decided to check out the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. The museum is open from 10-5pm Tuesday through Sunday, and a little later on Friday nights. Admission is free but they have rotating exhibits to tour for an extra fee. While there, they were running one on Edvard Munch (The Scream guy) and a Still-Life one. I'm sure these were lovely but at $18/person, we opted to tour only the free, permanent collection.

There was a sizeable contemporary and modern art section but this wasn't my jam. I much prefer the Renaissance and older paintings. While I can appreciate a modernist point of view, if it looks like I could have painted it, it doesn't impress me much. The museum also boasts a large Rodin sculpture garden.





Those are just two of probably 15 statues outside. There is also a trail/greenway behind the museum that has various pieces of artwork along it. This thing was HUGE and composed of wood and graphite.




I zoomed in on this tree so I didn't get to read its placard but my guess is the medium is some sort of aluminum.




And because I really liked my outfit this day. Here's one of me! The cowl tunic is from Target. I'm always looking for tops to wear over my leggings and boots. If I had enough options, that would be my everyday uniform.


The museum has two separate buildings housing their collection but both were easy to get around and not far from each other. I would recommend the museum as a good way to spend a couple hours. We are typically speedy museum people opting not to read every single description but we still spent a good amount of time there.

We also ventured to the Farm Market in Raleigh after the museum. I didn't take any pictures there but even in November they had lots of fresh produce for sale. We ate lunch at the southern style restaurant onsite and I succumbed to the fried chicken on the menu. It was fatty, and worth it. The Art Museum had a restaurant but my experience with museum restaurants is that they are often overpriced so we passed on that.

A great day in a new city!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Destination: Raleigh, NC

This past week, John and I loaded up the car and headed down the road 9 hours to Raleigh, North Carolina. My sister, bro-in-law and nephew moved there in February but we had yet to visit them. Thanksgiving gave us the perfect opportunity to do so! The drive wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, luckily. We only stopped once. Yes, that is quite impressive, especially if you knew how small my bladder is.

I passed the time with this.



And feeling sorry for Sadie in the backseat. She was feeling sorry for herself too. The only reason we made it with only one stop is because she wasn't sitting on me, her preferred car ride location. The humans were happy. The canine was not. But, she trooped through.


Look at those sad eyes

We had 3 days to sight see on our own while our hosts were at work. We spent a couple hours walking around Chapel Hill and near the UNC campus. Had lunch at the Carolina Brewing Co. and sampled some of their local beer. The seasonal was called Santa's Secret and it was delicious!



The weather was quite pleasant and the leaves were falling all around the campus. I also happened across this cute sign outside a book shop.




More on Tourist Day Two another day.......




Monday, November 26, 2012

Not Your Grandma's Gingerbread

Bring on the Christmas beers! I have a slew of beers to highlight from our North Carolina trip but this we drank before we left town. Once again, we had already made our selections when this caught our eye at the store. We are such suckers.





This is a special offering from Sam Adams only available in the 22 oz. bottle for about $6.99. You can't tell but it has cute little gingerbread men on the label. Yes, it's a gingerbread beer.

From the site: "This rich dark gingerbread stout entices with the aromas of the holidays, hinting at the merriment and spices within.  The flavor of gingerbread comes alive beginning with the smooth sweetness and heartiness of dark roasted malts and a touch of wheat.  But it’s the intensity and spices of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, & ginger that add a wicked kick for a jolly playful brew full of merry mischief."

This was like liquid gingerbread. It sure was smooth, even at 9% ABV (alcohol by volume). It debuted this year but I think it might stick around as a special holiday offering. I liked it but I don't know that I would go out of my way to make a repeat purchase. John, on the other hand, couldn't get enough and said he'd buy it again and again. It is worth trying if you can find it.

Another gingerbread beer coming up in my North Carolina Brew Review........


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Recipe Reblog: Thanksgiving Recipe Re-hash

Well, I think I survived Thanksgiving. I haven't stepped on the scale yet so I suppose that's the true test of survival. Somehow, I only got to eat Thanksgiving once. Not even any leftovers. What is that about? I tried two new recipes this year for our little gathering. I know you're not supposed to debut recipes for the Big Show but I did anyway. So there.

Lightened Up Green Bean Casserole: This came from How Sweet It is and it was GOOD! Fair warning, it was quite a lot of active work whereas the traditional green bean casserole involves dumping cans in a casserole and popping it in the oven. This one uses fresh green beans and I nixed the mushrooms in the recipe but kept everything else the same. It was delicious and I think you should try it. This would even be good on a day that's not Thanksgiving but I thought it was a refreshing change from the sometimes tasteless green bean casserole that appears on buffets all across the country.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie: Some of the adults wanted pumpkin pie. Some also wanted pecan. (Just FYI - I'm referencing only 3 adults here, the 4th adult wanted chocolate. 2 year old gets no vote) This recipe from Baking with Blondie mixed the two in a layered pie that did not disappoint. I am not a baker but I think I did a pretty good job, although I should have pulled it out of the oven sooner. Don't be afraid to take some help from a pre-made crust. Ain't no shame in that. I would have liked a little more pumpkin flavor as the pecans were prominent but it was still super tasty.



How was your Thanksgiving table? Try any new recipes?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

On Vacation

Taking the week off from blogging, faithful readers. John and I are in North Carolina visiting my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Much to report when we are back in Ohio. Safe travels to those of you hitting the road or the air.


Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Favorite Shirt

Man, I love a good polka dot. Almost as much as I love stripes. And plaid. And checks. Oh, and paisley too. But really, polka dots are my jam these days. I have been eyeing this totally awesome polka-dot Oxford at the Gap for weeks.


Source


I know you can't see the dots in that picture but they're there. Trust me. The only thing holding me back was the price tag. It retails for $49.95. While I appreciate the quality of Gap clothing, it goes against my nature to pay full price for anything. This past weekend everything was 30% off. What luck! I snapped it up, along with a skinny studded belt and went on my merry way!

Can't get enough of dots like me? Here are some other options........



Source

This one is from my other lover, J. Crew, but the dots are super tiny on it as well and you can't see them in this shot. It does come in other colors, unlike the Gap option. But, it also costs a lot more at $78.

Source

If chambray is your thing, you might try Madewell's Dotted Chambray boyshirt for $72. I saw this in the store and it looks super comfy, casual in person. I know chambray is in right now but I just haven't decided if I can get into it yet.

Source

And if you're working on a budget, here is Old Navy's take. The quality of clothing at Old Navy as far inferior to the establishments listed above but the price also reflects that. On sale now for $24.97. This one is chambray too but I like the darker wash.

For about 2 seconds, I thought if I could find the right broadcloth fabric, I could have sewed my own. Then I decided I'd rather save the time and toil. Somethings are just aren't many to be handmade.

What have you been coveting lately?


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cowls coming


You guys. I am all about the handmade gift when it’s done right. Those clutches I made for my staff and co-workers last year? Rave reviews! But, I started those in July and sewed them in 2 rounds and was still overwhelmed by the amount of work that went into them. And then, 5 days before Christmas, I decided I NEEDED a plaid shirt for Christmas. Like, in the worst way. It turned out for the best but really, what is wrong with me?
If I am anything, I am a girl who does not always learn from her mistakes. This year, I decided my handmade holiday would include knit cowls and scarves. Cowls for everyone! I proclaimed. Luckily, cowls knit up quickly. Unluckily, I only have 4 done and I need 10. Additionally, I don’t like the yarn I used for 2 of them and would rather not gift them. For the next 6 weeks, I will be a knitting fool! The downside of this project is that every new skein of yarn I buy is awesome and I want to knit the cowl for myself. All the cowls for Ashley! That’s not really in the giving spirit though, is it. I do have 2 9 hour car rides coming up next week so I’m hoping to make amazing progress then. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

First Winter Beer



Leinenkugel’s Snowdrift Vanilla Porter is new this year as their winter seasonal offering. I am a big Leinie fan in general so when the winter beers started popping up on the shelves, this was one of the first ones we snapped up.
From the Website: "Celebrate shorter days with a fuller body. 
Leinenkugel’s® Snowdrift Vanilla Porter™ is brewed with a select 
blend of seven malts revealing layers of caramel, chocolate and 
coffee notes. Aged on real vanilla, this brown and ruby-hued brew 
imparts a slightly spicy aroma from its creamy body that’s ideal for 
the season"
Well, howdy-doo, I liked this one. This came as no surprise to me because in my top 5 all-time favorite beers is Breckenridge’s Vanilla Porter. (Don’t ask me what the other 4 are because some other beers might have hurt feelings. Kind of like picking a favorite kid, no?). The Leinenkugel’s wasn’t quite as smooth as the Breck (point to Breckenridge) but the vanilla flavor was just as forward (tie) and the Leinie is $1.50 cheaper (point Leinie) at $8.49/6 pack. Definitely give this one a sip!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Holiday Humbug


Things I Am Not Ready For:
-Christmas music
-Christmas decorations in stores
-Christmas decorations on houses in my development

Things I AM Ready For:
-Turkey
-Pumpkin Pie
-Mashed Potatoes
-Macy’s Parade
-Black Friday

……in other words, Thanksgiving!

I think it’s completely unacceptable that on November 1st I was inundated with Christmas at the mall, on TV and elsewhere. Look, I love Christmas just as much as the next girl. But, people. Do we really need to extend the season to a full 2+ months prior? Puh-lease. What about Thanksgiving? Respect the TURKEY! When people start asking for my Christmas lists in October, it’s too early. MUCH too early. I understand you’d like to get your shopping done but what happens when I think of something else I’d like to add to the list on December 8th. So sorry. Much too late for amendments or corrections to the list as everything has been purchased and wrapped. I’ve taken to throwing the request right back at whomever gives it to me. Tit for tat! And still, I have yet to receive lists from any (save for one) of those people who I obliged. Hmph.
Don’t even get me started on the stores that are opening on Thanksgiving and all those poor workers who, while I’m sure are thankful to be employed, are not necessarily excited to leave their families early.
Can we please all just remember that there is a holiday in November too? Don’t short-change me. And And AND! It’s a holiday centered around eating and by association, shopping. Let’s not overlook that marvelousness. And again! For me, it almost always, without fail, involves travel. That’s fine because traveling just happens to be one of my other favorite things in conjunction with shopping and eating. This year, we will be going to visit my sister, brother-in-law and nephew in North Carolina for the first time since they moved there. While I’m bummed to not be headed to Austin and that great Texas weather (and food!), I’m excited to explore a new destination. And though I do love travel, I do not always love the airport at Thanksgiving. This year, we are driving 9 hours instead. That is something to be thankful for, said the girl who hates driving. What I am thankful for is traveling on our own schedule, not having to pay outrageous ticket prices, not worrying about flying with Sadie, and having a vehicle at our destination.
In summation, and because I try not to complain on my blog too much (no one cares to read that), I will just please ask you to celebrate Thanksgiving with gustatory gusto.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Recipe Reblog: Sweet Potato Chili


Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili: A crockpot chili chock full of veggies including sweet potatoes? Count me in! I found this recipe online at Can You Stay For Dinner and thought it sounded tremendous. I have several chili recipes that I like but you can never go wrong with chili, am I right? However, there was some unfortunateness with this recipe. If your crockpot is smaller than 5 quarts, you will not, I repeat, WILL NOT, be able to fit in all the ingredients. We fully intended to add ground turkey but after throwing in everything else, there was no room. The turkey (or beef) was listed as optional so my sous chef and I decided that we’d go vegetarian for this chili. This was a mistake, and we were supposed to eat this for 3 nights. Gulp. While I found it overly tomato-y, yet tolerable, John ate his bowl with the worst look on his first and proclaimed he did “NOT LIKE” this recipe. Emphatic, to say the least. I made an executive chef decision and we added turkey for the 2 subsequent evenings. That helped tremendously. So, my advice on this is to make sure it’s meaty. And one more thing, the wildcard ingredient, sweet potato, didn’t pay off like I thought it would. I think there’s a reason no other chili I've had has potatoes in it. Even a tuber as lovely as a sweet potato. I did not appreciate the potato texture juxtaposed with the beans and turkey. Odd.
I suppose what I am trying to say is, cook at your own risk.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

One Last Pumpkin Beer

I know that it's November and if you've been to the store lately, all the Christmas beers are coming out already, including the oft-coveted Great Lakes Christmas Ale. John snapped up the first 6 of the season last Friday on that one. And don't you worry your pretty beer-drinking heads because we'll get to those in good time.

BUT! Pumpkins are a Thanksgiving thing too. So, if you can find this one, you're in for a treat.




The Great'ER Pumpkin comes from Heavy Seas Brewing Co. There is a Great Pumpkin version but this is the Great'ER Pumpkin because it's aged an extra three weeks in bourbon barrels. That's right, folks. You better believe my bourbon-loving husband couldn't pass this one by. It's an Imperial Ale at 8.5% ABV so it's sold only in 22 oz. bottles for about $7.99.

From the site: "Great Pumpkin draws much of its flavor from a mixture of spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and allspice. Dark brown sugar adds color and some dryness to the spicy, malt-forward ale. The addition of the spices and pumpkin in the kettle makes this brew opaque. A warming pumpkin aroma and a slightly sweet taste characterize our special fall seasonal. The bourbon barrel-aged version of this beer, Great’ER Pumpkin, spends three weeks in barrels from Virginia’s A. Smith Bowman Distillery."

They don't have a separate description for the bourbon version but there was a LOT going on here. All the spices, great pumpkin flavor and of course, the bourbon was right in there too. If you can find this one, and I haven't seen it since we bought it, you are in for a real treat. Give it a taste!



P.S. GO VOTE! Yes, I know it's a pain to go to the polling place that is really close to your house. And the weather may or may not be so great where you are. You already get up so early that you don't want to go before work and after work you're beat. I get it. But, it's important stuff, people. And you know what? After today, no more political ads on TV or Pandora. Hooray!