Thursday, February 28, 2013

Beer Me: Rivertown Brewing Co.

Rivertown Brewing Co. is located near the Ohio River in Cincinnati. I'm not sure how far out they distribute but if you can find it, buy it. Here are two that I've tried recently.

Roebling Imperial Robust Porter - This was a good, warming porter on a COLD winter night. Unfortunately, John only left 1 for me out the whole 6 pack! I guess he liked them. That, and I think I was drinking wine instead of beer a couple of those nights. Gotta be quick around here.

From their site: "ROEBLING (Vanilla Espresso Imperial Robust Porter) – Like a big chocolate, espresso infused brownie, Roebling Porter packs a lot a flavor from the use of fresh organic Ugandan vanilla beans, organic Peruvian espresso/coffee and natural raw cane sugar. 7.8% ABV A, 35 IBU, 31 SRM. Available in 6 packs and draft."

All of those delicious flavors they noted? They are all in there. All distinct as you sip. Low on the bitterness scale, high on taste. I don't know what SRM means though. Guess I should look that up. I think this is about $9.49 for a six pack. 

Also from Rivertown is their winter seasonal, the Bock Beer.

From their site: "(Released in February) Rivertown Brewing Co.’s bock beer seasonal lager is a big full bodied beer, with lots of caramel malt flavor and spicy hop notes. Our bock beer is a great way to welcome the coming of spring. best served at 48ºf in a brandy glass. 7.2% ABV"

Bocks, to me, are just good, easy beers. They almost never disappoint and this one lived up to my expectations as well.

I'm hoping to go tour their facility some Saturday when there's not much going on. In the fall, their pumpkin is one of my top 5 pumpkin beers too. That's saying something!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ashley Goes Country

Two Fridays ago, John and I went to the Nutter Center at Wright State University to see Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert in concert on their Locked & Reloaded Tour. John disclosed to me the day before the concert that if it hadn't been the day after Valentine's Day, he would not have agreed to go. Lucky me! The tickets were pretty cheap, only about $37 after the fees. The seats were okay but for that price, they were fine.

I had a lot of trouble deciding what to wear to the concert. Not wanting to go too literal with my choice, I skipped all plaid shirts in favor of a tank top and flowy cardigan. I didn't stick out but let's just say, I've never seen so much plaid flannel and camo in one place before in my life. Lesson learned! We missed the opening act because we had to park pretty far away but that's okay. It was Thomas Rhett and we heard most of his set waiting in line for the bathroom, and to get over 21 wristbands and then to buy our $7.00 Bud Lights. (P.S. Man, Bud Light is terrible. I do not miss drinking beer on a college budget.) Turns out I actually did know one of his songs. He played his hit at the end of his short 20 minute opening.

Shortly after we found our seats, Dierks Bentley took the stage. He is great live! Played all of his hits, had a good light and video display to accompany his show, and looked pretty cute too, of course. John found himself singing 5-1-5-0 the next day and said he was ashamed that he liked the song and that he actually really enjoyed all of what Dierks played. Well well well.

Guess what? The iphone camera doesn't take very good pictures when you're far away and there are lots of smoke and lights. But, the video did pick up some good sound. I tried to post it for you but Blogger wouldn't load it. I'm batting 1,000 today!

After Dierks played, there was a set change and then Miranda Lambert came on.

She put on a good show but surprisingly, I liked Dierks better. I was more excited to see Miranda initially but a lot of her lyrics were kind of hard to make out. The microphone was too close to her mouth and distorted some of it. I knew all the lyrics anyway but I wish it had been a bit clearer. She did have a surprise for the audience though, husband Blake Shelton came out to sing his new single with her. That was pretty cool. Now I can say I've seen him live too.

Miranda and Blake - guess I should have cropped this

And just like that, it was all over about 3 hours later. This was our first time at the Nutter Center. It's a decently sized venue but the seats are tiny and close together. Not surprising for an arena though. It was pretty hot in there too with all the people. And as usual, the Ladies' room needed twice as many toilets. Never a line for the Mens', obviously. The crowd was really into the show, especially the two girls next John who draped their arms over each other's shoulders and swayed along to all of Miranda's songs pretty hard core. They were feeling it. And then John's pant leg was feeling the beer that sloshed out of their cups. Nice. Except for that, and having to park really far away and take a shuttle back to our car, it was an awesome night! Dierks and Miranda both played a good mix of old and newer songs, which I appreciated. John wins lots of points for agreeing to go but as I suspected, he ended up enjoying himself for at least part of the night too. Wonder who I can talk him into seeing next?

If the Locked & Reloaded Tour heads to your town, you should definitely go!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Curtains Up

When we first moved into our house 2 1/2 years ago, I went on a mad scrambling decorating spree. There was so much more house to fill than our previous condo and we had just spent a boatload of money. I struggled with quality versus cost. Heck, I still struggle with that. In the living room, 3 windows needed coverings. I envisioned a silk dupioni curtain in a rich slate blue that pooled on the ground. After scouring stores and internets, I landed on quite a compromise. Cheap, shiny satin curtains in the wrong blue, but they did pool. At first, I loved the pooling and hoped that it made them look more expensive. I was fooling myself. I grew to hate them, quickly. They were only $6 a panel. I couldn't even have purchased fabric for that price. The pooling got annoying come vacuum time and Sadie was forever hiding toys in them.

See? Disgusting.

Thus ensued a years long search for replacements. Again, not wanting to break the bank, I struggled. Do you know how expensive window coverings are? A pretty penny. But, I lucked out a few weeks ago at the Ballard Design outlet. This fantastic apple green linen with a strong geometric pattern was on sale for $15/yard. Yea hooray!

It originally retails for $24/yard so even though it was still a little more than I wanted to spend, I got a great deal. The quality is unmatched.

This past Saturday, I took to my machine.

And a few hours of cutting, sewing, ironing, and then ironing some more. I had myself some new curtains!

Ignore the Valentine's decor still on the mantel

I didn't line them but I think I will eventually. A lining will give them more weight and ground them a bit better. For now, they're fine.

I didn't take a picture of the whole living room but trust me when I tell you these babies really brighten up the place. I also switched out some artwork to add more lightness. The couch and loveseat are both brown as is the new leather ottoman we finally latched onto so the pops of color are very necessary.

If anyone has a need for 6 blue, satiny 96" panels, they are yours!

Also, this constitutes my February sewing project so two months into 2013 and my Sewing Challenge is still in tact.

What changes have you been making in your living spaces lately?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins

Sundays are breakfast days around here. Are they for you too? Usually John makes pancakes or waffles or, by request, egg sandwiches. He is the Breakfast Man. When we're out of syrup, I step in to pinch hit.

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins: We had a handful of bananas that were past the point of no return so I pulled up this recipe from Baking Bites and went to town. No white sugar, no white flour. Sounds dense but a healthy winner to me! These were very tasty and not as dense as I thought they'd be. Only half of them got walnuts because John doesn't like nuts in baked goods. What is that about? If you're looking for a lightened up muffin, give these a try. Oh! You know what else would be good in them? Chocolate chips! But, I suppose that defeats the purpose of the health factor.

Monday, February 18, 2013

MWF Seeking BFF


I powered up my Kindle recently to read MWF seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend , a memoir by Rachel Bertsche. So far, I love my Kindle but I don't love not having free access to all of the books I want to read. Oh well, can't have it all.

Good Reads' Synopsis: "When Rachel Bertsche first moves to Chicago, she’s thrilled to finally share a zip code with her boyfriend. But shortly after getting married, she realizes that her new life is missing one thing: friends. Sure, she has plenty of BFFs—in New York and San Francisco and Boston and Washington, D.C. Still, in her adopted hometown, there’s no one to call at the last minute for girl talk over brunch or a reality-TV marathon over a bottle of wine. Taking matters into her own hands, Bertsche develops a plan: Meeting people everywhere from improv class to friend rental websites, she'll go on fifty-two friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever."

What I Thought: I could have written every word of this book myself. Well, the parts about wanting more friends....not the parts where she goes on 52 girl-dates over a year. That, I haven't done yet. But all of the feelings of loneliness, the difficulties of making friends in your late 20's, longing for more closer friends, hanging out almost exclusively with my husband in a city I transplanted to, all resonated so strongly with me that I found myself nodding in agreement while reading. What? Don't tell me you've never done that too. Anyway. Bertsche's story is encouraging because while it was a year full of hard effort and putting herself out there, she did end up with lots of friends. It has inspired me to reinvigorate my friend search. Unfortunately, Dayton is not Chicago and there are fewer opportunities here. I mustn't lose hope though. I WILL find more friends. If you too are feeling a dearth of friends. give this a read and see if you can't pick up some tips, and you'll laugh a little along the way.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken

I'm always looking for a cook crock pot meal, aren't you? Nothing better than coming home from work with dinner ready and waiting.

Crock Pot Bourbon Chicken: I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a go. I had most of the ingredients on hand except for the apple juice (my least favorite of all juices.....except maybe grapefruit). The recipe reminded me of my dad's love for bourbon chicken at the mall food court. Looking back, I had a lot of meals at that food court in the most ghetto mall. It wasn't ghetto then though. I digress. This came together quickly and while I liked it, I think it could have used a little something extra. You can use chili garlic sauce in lieu of ketchup and I think next time, I might try that. John liked it a lot so into the recipe binder it went. If you like sweeter, saucy chicken meals, give it a try.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope you all have lots of loooooooove in your lives today. For me, Valentine's Day is no big deal. Sure, I like getting flowers from John but we don't go all out on gifts, or chocolate. We don't get frantic trying to make a reservation for dinner. I have very few Valentine's decorations I put up around the house. Showing someone you love them a lot on one specific day as opposed to throughout the year kind of defeats the purpose of loving someone in the first place, yes?

This year, John wins an award for Best Husband. Tomorrow night we are going to see Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley in concert! My country-music hating husband agreed to go several months ago and now the day is here! Dayton doesn't get many musical acts we are interested in but lots of country folk do come through and we never get to go. I don't like all country music but I do like these two. So, John's sucking it up and toe-tapping along with me.

That's love.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand has been on the NY Times Bestseller list for several weels. That's usually enough for me to take notice even if the topic isn't something I typically go after.

Good Reads' Synopsis: "On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit."
What I Thought: Man, oh man! What a story! I did not expect to enjoy this nearly as much as I did. I found myself finishing it feverishly because the Kindle borrowing time was running out and I didn't want to wait for it again. I even shunned television for two nights in favor of reading. That says something! Zamperini's story is nothing short of amazing. History is not my thing but this one sucked me in big time. Hillenbrand does a superb job of conveying the POW's hardships and the terror of war. PLEASE READ THIS!

Rating: * * * *

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Beer Me: Variety Week

Truth be told, Sierra Nevada beers don't really do it for me. There are a couple seasonals that I like but I don't go out of my way to buy them otherwise. This was a single bottle purchase that looked interesting enough so I forked over my $2.79 and went on my merry way. Also, I thought the name was super cool.

From the site: "Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come."

Lots of cocoa going on here and pretty high on the alcohol content at 10.2% ABV. Apparently, due to its imperial stoutness, this one ages well but who has time for that? I wouldn't buy a 4 pack of this but if you can get a single, it's worth trying. Very dark and a 60 on the bitterness scale, just so you know what you're getting into.

These were just quick tastings at our local store. Don't worry, I'm not going broke buying beer.

Two Brothers North Winds Imperial Stout: Not a lot of information on their site about this one but I enjoyed it. Warmth of an imperial stout but not heavy on the coffee flavor. Also not sure how much it costs. I'm going to guess $10.99 / 6 pack.

Ballast Point Victory at Sea: This one wasn't even listed on Ballast Point's site. What gives? I did find that it is an American Porter at 10% ABV. We liked this one too. Lots of coffee here with a little sweetness too.

Troeg's Troegnator: This is a Double Bock from Troeg. (pronounce like rogue with a T on the front) If you've never had a double bock before, you should definitely give it a try. Sorry about the glare in the pic. This was another single bottle we purchased but I'm sure the 6 pack is at least $11. Troeg's doesn't come cheap. 

From their site: "Troegenator Double Bock is a dark, strong lager.  It pours into a glass with a bronze to brown color, fluffy white 

head and bready malt aroma. The Troegenator leaves a rich, 

warming feeling and subtle spicy flavors. The style, Double 

Bock, dates back a century or so ago. During periods of 

fasting without solid foods, the Monastic brewers relied on 

the Double Bock; a stronger, richer beer to fulfill their basic 

nutritional needs. Known to them as "liquid bread," a Double 

Bock has a strong malt aroma and rich chewy body. In the 

spirited tradition of naming a Double Bock using the suffix "-

ator," we give you Troegenator to provide warmth and 

nourishment all throughout the year."

This one also has a sweetness that I enjoyed. Really smooth 

and tasty.

And last but not least......

Granitbock: This bock-style beer is from Austria and it is 

PRICEY. $7.99 for a bottle. That's a 12 ounce bottle, nothing 

larger. But as luck would have it, the grocery store was 

selling tastes for a buck. 

From their site: "The Granit Bock is brewed in large granite open troughs. The granite stones are then heated to be white hot and added to the wort. This causes the sugars in the malt to caramelize around the stones and gives the beer lovely caramel and roasted flavors. It also gives the Granit Bock a unique smoked flavor. 

Yeast is added about 1 hour after the white hot rocks have been added to the wort., allowing for an open fermentation. The Granite Bock is then matured for several months on the cool cellars under the brewery."

This one was sweet with a lot of molasses flavor on it. I liked it a lot but would never pay that price for a whole bottle. The dollar tasting was enough for me and John drank most of that.

And thus concludes a beer whirlwind. I have to admit, I might be a little beered out. It's possibly time for me to return to my first love, wine. For some reason, while I still like drinking wine and do so (I just don't post about it) I don't get as excited to try new wines as I do in seeking out new beers. I don't know what that's about. But this weekend, I didn't really care what we ended up bringing home as far as beer goes. Which is odd for me. Perhaps it's the season and the fact that the seasonal options right now don't excite me. Plus, our little wine club hasn't met for a few months due to hectic schedules but maybe my wine love will be rekindled with that. Who knows?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Paris, My Sweet

In my never-ending quest for knowledge for my upcoming European adventure, I borrowed Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas from the digital library on my Kindle. I follow her blog, God, I Love Paris and decided her memoir would be a good read as well.


Good Reads' Synopsis: "Part love letter to New York, part love letter to Paris, and total devotion to all things sweet. Paris, My Sweet is a personal and moveable feast that’s a treasure map for anyone who loves fresh cupcakes and fine chocolate, New York and Paris, and life in general. It’s about how the search for happiness can be as fleeting as a sliver of cheesecake and about how the life you’re meant to live doesn’t always taste like the one you envisioned. Organized into a baker’s dozen of delicacies (and the adventures they inspired) that will tempt readers’ appetites, Paris, My Sweet is something to savor."

What I Thought: I really liked this one but it's possible that I liked it only because I love eating and can't wait to go to Paris. It was an easy, conversational read about a topic that I'm interested in. It also made me wish I could go live in Paris for a year. I would love to have the guts to do that but I'm pretty sure no one will be knocking on my door to hand me that opportunity. If you like pastries and you like Paris, you'll enjoy this book.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Chicken Parm Burger

I am a burger lover. Burgers of all kinds are friends of mine. I was slightly skeptical about this recipe because ground chicken grosses me out but I cooked it up anyway.

Chicken Parmesan Burger: There's a lot going on in the mix here. Red pepper, onion, spices aplenty. The burgers went under the broiler and then got topped with marinara. Back under the broiler to melt the mozzarella cheese and you've got yourself a sandwich. John and I both liked these a lot more than we were expecting to. All of the flavors of your traditional chicken parm in burger form. If you're looking for a different, healthier burger, give this one a try. Don't let the ground chicken scare you. Trust me.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beer Me: Stouts

I tried two new stouts last weekend while out to dinner with John and my in-laws. The restaurant had a great craft beer selection with lots to choose from on bottle and draft and pretty reasonably priced too. All things considered.

This is the 2X Stout from Southern Tier Brewing Co. that I've had my eye on for awhile. I'm just starting to really discover milk stouts but unfortunately, John's not really a fan of them so I didn't want to buy a 6-pack of it. Luckily, it was on the menu so I ordered one up.

From the site: "Milk stout, also called cream or sweet stout, is a stout containing lactose a sugar derived from milk. Because lactose is unfermentable by beer yeast, it adds it adds sweetness and body to the finished beer."

They say you are tasting roasted malt and light sweetness, creamy with chocolatey notes....and they were right! It has a little bitterness to it but nothing overpowering and I'll attribute that to the 2X level making it 7.5% ABV. I was glad to try it but I was also glad that I didn't have to drink a whole 6 pack. There are others I like better.


Oatmeal stouts are quickly becoming a favorite of mine for their dark smoothness and finish. I had never had anything from Founders Brewing Co. before but when I saw the Breakfast Stout on the menu, I just had to try it.

From the site: " The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever."

I liked this one a lot! It's their winter seasonal so get it while you can. Tons of coffee flavor going on here and super smooth. No smokiness whatsoever. 

What stouts are you into these days?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I Am The Messenger

I Am The Messenger is an older release from Young Adult author Markus Zusak. I really enjoyed one of his other works, The Book Thief, so I had high hopes for this one.

Good Reads' Synopsis: "Meet Ed Kennedy—underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That’s when the first Ace arrives. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. . . .

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?"

What I Thought: Don't let the young adult genre fool you. I've told you this many times. There's some good writing and storytelling going on here. I probably said the exact same thing about The Book Thief. Zusak does a great job of painting his characters with vivid imagery. I really cared about Ed and the journey he was taking. Full of compassion, I Am The Messenger is worth picking up.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Monday, February 4, 2013

January Miles

I started the year off right on the treadmill. I also had one unseasonably warm outside run with my brand new Garmin Forerunner and ipod. Pretty exciting stuff. Mileage goals aren't my thing this year. That being said, I'm still trying to hit 50 miles each month. I didn't quite do that last year even though I did surpass my 500 mile goal.

Here's how the rubber sole met the rubber belt this month:

Jan 2: 4 mi, 34:57, 8:44 pace
Jan 6: 6 mi, 53:35, 8:55ish pace 
Jan 8: 3.6 mi, 30:09, 8:32 pace?
Jan 10: 3.1 mi, 30:00, TM hills-rough!
Jan 12: 4 mi 0T in 38:47, 9:43 avg pace
Jan 15: 4 mi in 34:54, 8:58/8:50/8:41/8:25
Jan 20: 6 mi in 53:11, 8:52 pace
Jan 22: 4 mi in 33:37, 8:48/ 8:09/7:59/8:40 - speed int.
Jan 27: 7 mi in 1:03, 9 min pace
Jan 29: 4 mi in 36:40, 9:10 pace, slow & sore

Total: 45.7 miles

One run shy of 50 but that's okay. I've been hot yoga-ing on Saturday's and that eats up a run day so I've had to shift around my weeknight workouts a bit. That's okay too. I need to learn to be a little more flexible. Figuring out that moving workout days or taking rest days when necessary is something I'm working on. It's tough.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Recipe Reblog: Pasta with Sausage and Kale

A pasta dish for you today!

Pasta with Sausage and Kale: This was also from Men's Health's section on kale just like those kale chips I wrote about a couple weeks ago. The original recipe calls for orecchiette but that doesn't come in whole wheat. We used penne. I can't remember if the original recipe uses regular sausage or not but we used turkey. If you've never tried turkey sausage, give it a try. It still has lots of sausage flavor but without as much fat and calories. Anyway......back to this dish. Sous chef became executive chef on this one because I was on the treadmill but John said it came together pretty easily. The aromas from the kitchen wafted to the basement and I wanted to cut my run short and EAT, but I didn't. Because of all the kale and sausage, it fed us for 3 nights. The lemon really brightened this up and paired well with the other flavors. For a twist on your normal pasta dinners, give this one a try!

P.S. We survived January! Yea hooray!!!