Category Archives: Hobbies

The Homemade Gifts I Gave

The world wide web is a beautiful thing, my friends. It’s where I did about 60 percent of our Christmas shopping this year. Etsy, Rue La La, Amazon, West Elm… I loved coming home to new packages on our doorstep every couple days. But despite how easy and hassle-free online shopping can be, I’ve decided DIY gifting is my preferred way to go.

This year, my favorite gifts we gave were five mason jars filled with homemade potpourri and adorned with DIY glitter tags. We gave them to my four sisters-in-law and stepmother-in-law. Of course, the idea came from Pinterest via The Yummy Life blog. The Yummy Life does a great job of detailing all of the steps and variety of fragrances, so I won’t try to recreate her post. Definitely check it out if you decide to gift these yourself.

Of the five scents outlined on The Yummy Life, I chose three:

{Oranges, Cinnamon and Cloves}

orange cinnamon cloves

{Lemon, Rosemary and Vanilla}

{Oranges, Ginger and Almond Extract}


All you do is buy the ingredients, measure them out or chop them, put them in a jar, fill the jar with water and refrigerate until ready to give. Then, your lucky recipient can pour the contents of the jar into a pot, heat it on the stove and let the enticing aromas fill the house. When finished, cool the potpourri, return to jar and refrigerate until ready to use again.


The ingredients: cinnamon sticks, almond extract, vanilla extract, cloves, allspice, fresh ginger and fresh rosemary


Ingredients: oranges and lemons


Stuffed in a jar and filled with water


A close-up of the citrus and herbs

As for the jars and tags, I purchased the mason jars at Michael’s for under $2 a piece. I made the tags using gold ribbon and my handy dandy embossing tools — a stamp, embossing glue, embossing powder/glitter and an embosser (a staple for self-proclaimed scrapbooking enthusiasts like myself).

It was fun to spend a day doing something crafty. I even tested out the lemon, rosemary and vanilla mixture myself with the leftover ingredients I had. It smelled lovely.


When all is said it done, these were an easy, inexpensive but thoughtful way to wish our family members a Merry Christmas. Now I’m tempted to try out some of the other scents on The Yummy Life that I didn’t attempt on this first round. And I’m also thinking about who else I can gift these to. Too bad the guys in our family aren’t much into potpourri.


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Homebrew No. 2

During the week we had off work between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Mikey did some man work in the kitchen. This kind of man work…








That would be Brew #2, a Smoked Wheat Beer, which we have named “Winter Fog”. It was brewed on a cold day in December, and the smokiness conjured up the image of fog. So after a few minutes of name-storming on the couch, “Winter Fog” it was.

The mix was brought to us by Brooklyn Beer Shop, and Mikey was the brewmaster who put it all together. I tried to play beer apprentice in the kitchen but got bored holding tubes and stuff, so I switched to playing photographer.

It was Mikey’s first time brewing with a Brooklyn Beer Shop mix. His first homebrew (which goes by the name “Greenhorn“) was a kit from Mr. Beer, and after he deemed that successful, he was ready to get a little more advanced.

I purchased a Brooklyn Beer Shop book for him last year, and in it are recipes that take you through the steps of mashing, sparging, boiling and fermenting. Those steps require specific supplies like an airlock, racking cane and soft tubing. So I seized the opportunity to buy additional supplies and a mix from Brooklyn Brew Shop’s online store for his birthday. Their selection of mixes changes seasonally, and they all seem pretty appealing. Some of the flavors from this season include a Chocolate Maple Porter, a Coffee and Donut Stout and a Grapefruit Honey Ale. Yes, yes and yes, please. To see all their varieties, click here.

Another reason why I like Brooklyn Brew Shop is because all of their recipes are based on one-gallon mixes. Smaller batches are more manageable in this tiny house of ours. Without much space to brew, except our shotgun-style kitchen, it’s a much more manageable way to make beer. Maybe we’ll upgrade some day when Mikey gets his man cave, but until then, these small scale recipes are a hit.

With a one-gallon batch of Smoked Wheat, we got about 10 bottles — only one of which I actually got to drink! Mikey decided to share the wealth with some of his coworkers, so it all went pretty quickly. Guess it’s time to make another batch.


First taste is a success.


Enjoying some Winter Fog in one of our customized beer glasses, a Christmas gift from my BFF, Lindsay. Sadly, The Bear waits in the wings.

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This Very Happy Hockey House

The Bear missing his Blues hockey

The Bear missing his Blues hockey

Its been a long, arduous winter. Drudging along with our mundane lives. Pained with the overwhelming feeling of loss and emptiness.

That is, until two Sundays ago when I woke up to find Facebook had revealed the most triumphant news in all the world — Hockey. Is. Back. After a few seconds of internal screaming, I gently tiptoed back into the bedroom, where Mikey was still snoozing and nudged him awake to announce the news.

“Hockey is back,” I said.

His response through closed eyes and clenched teeth, “Awesoommme”.

A week later, we were again wakened by good news — a text from Mikey’s friend, announcing that our 10-game package deal (now eight games, due to the shortened season) included tickets to the St. Louis Blues home opener at the Scottrade on January 19th. We jolted out of bed with excitement. In fact, I may have done a fist pump. Not sure.

And six days later, we found ourselves in matching outfits (Blues jerseys, mind you), making the pilgrimage downtown to the Scottrade Center to watch our beloved St. Louis Blues crush the Detroit Redwings. And crush they did. The Blues’ freshest face on the ice, Vladimir Tarasenko, stuck it to Jimmy Howard twice with shots worthy of the 10 minutes I spent watching the replay over and over this morning over breakfast. Blues Forward, Chris Stewart, also fell one score shy of a hat trick, making those who doubted his ability last season call themselves into question. And there was that sweet breakaway, courtesy of Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and made magical with a shorthanded five-hole zinger by Forward T.J. Oshie. By the end of the night, we were roaring from the top row of section 326 as the Redwings left St. Louis with a 0-6 score on the board.

We’ve had our fair share of random “I miss hockey” moments while the guys in suits and ties have been throwing hissy fits negotiating sans hockey for 119 days. But last night’s game couldn’t have been a better Blues “thank you” for the fans who haven’t gone a day without supporting them. As if it isn’t already evident, Mikey and I can’t wait to see what this short season will bring. Suffice to say, the future for the Blues is bright.

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Soaking Up St. Louis Craft Beer Week

I think our friends and family have been questioning our drinking habits as of late. Every picture I’ve posted on Facebook for the past few weeks has something to do with beer. But there’s very good reason for that, dear friends and family. Aside from the fact that beer just tastes good, our reasoning is that St. Louis Craft Beer Week just took place last week. Eight days of saluting craft beer and the microbrewers that make ’em.

St. Louis Craft Beer Week is an annual event in St. Louis, but for some terrible reason, we only found out about it this year. There’s a long list of beer-tasting events that go on around town at upscale restaurants to dive-style bars to microbreweries in the local area to wine and liquor stores in every neck of the woods. And so, like the planners we are, Mikey and I printed out the schedule and literally highlighted the events we wanted to go to. In the end, we only made it to a few, but the great thing about an annual event like this is that it’s annual. So better start clearing our schedules for 2013.

Here’s a quick rundown of the three events we attended.

Six Row Small Batch Strawberry Honey Weizen At noon on a Saturday, we stopped into Six Row Brewing Company in Midtown St. Louis — right across from our old stomping grounds at St. Louis University to sample the Strawberry Honey Weizen. Aged with 24 pounds of strawberries per barrel, it was the perfect way to start our Saturday. From there, we proceeded to Urban Chestnut to refill our growler with O’Florian’s Irish Stout. Oh, and then, we went to a beer-tasting birthday party later that evening, which was not part of beer week but kept in line with our “Beer Me Saturday” theme.

Party starts now.

I forgot to take a picture of my beer before I drank it. Oops.

Urban Chestnut’s draught menu. So many choices.

Huevos y Cervezas Brunch at Milagro Modern Mexican Brunch is by far my favorite meal of the day. I like it because brunch lends itself to the perfect mix of sweet and savory foods all in one meal. And because the word, brunch, is synonymous with, mimosa. So there you go. But this brunch at Milagro kicked off with not a mimosa, but a beermosa. A blend of 4 Hands Brewery Divided Sky Rye IPA, white wine and orange juice. While die-hard mimosa fans (or beer fans) might wince at the sound of beer and wine mixed together, it was actually a pretty delectable combination.

After the welcome beermosa, we were seated in the dining room at the same table as a couple from St. Charles who shared the same enthusiasm for craft beer. We were lucky to get paired up with such a nice couple who shared a lot of the same interests as we do. We’re now following each other on Twitter and have sworn to seek each other out at the next beer event we happen to be at.

But let’s get to the most important part of this brunch — the beer and the food! Here’s a look at our three-course beer and brunch menu.

1st Course:  Blue corn pancakes, strawberry ancho agave syrup, fresh berries paired with Schlafly Pilsner

2nd Course:  Chorizo and sweet potato hash, poached egg, chipotle hollandaise paired with Stone Pale Ale


3rd Course:  Brisket birria ‘beer-ee-uh’, rice, corn tortilla, onion paired with 4 Hands Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown Ale

4th Course:  Mexican chocolate brownie, Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Stout chocolate sauce paired with Great Divide Espresso Oak Age Yeti Stout

4 Hands Oatmeal Brown Ale on the left. Great Divide Yeti on the right.

My favorite pairing had to be the third course. Definitely had a spicy kick to it, but the Oatmeal Brown Ale was the perfect pairing to soothe my tingling taste buds. And the Oatmeal Brown Ale goes down as my favorite beer of the brunch. Overall, awesome, delicious, amazing event. Must do again.

Schurcipefones Beer Festival  Believe it or not, after the beer brunch, we laid low for the week and didn’t venture out for another event until a whole week later. The following Sunday was when the closing ceremonies (aka Schurcipefones Beer Festival) took place. The festival was a block party in downtown St. Louis right in front of Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar with live music, arts and crafts, free bike tune-ups, food and of course, craft beer from local St. Louis microbreweries, in addition to New Belgium, the out-of-town guest.

Here’s the roll call of the beers I sampled:

  1. Bailey’s Chocolate Ale Perennial Artisan Alesbrews this for the Bailey’s Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square. It’s surprisingly not too dark or heavy, which made it great to sip even in the sun.

    Mason jars as tasting glasses. A nice, craft-style touch.

  2. Belgian Street Water  Charleville Vineyards and Microbrewery make this refreshing concoction. It’s a sour beer, which I’ve always been a big fan of. In fact, I have never met a sour beer I didn’t like. And while at the festival, I realized that I may be in the minority on this one. Guess sour beer isn’t for everyone, but I love it.
  3. Sertaozhino Weiss Coffee Wheat  Urban Chestnut deserves two thumbs way up for this one. Smells like a fresh cup of coffee and is brewed from a coffee bean supplied by St. Louis-based Kaldi’s coffee. Question: Would you judge me if I woke up to a mug of this every morning? Because I considered doing so for a minute. Or maybe five minutes. Or so.
  4. Peach Berliner Weisse  I remember Mikey was scrolling through his Twitter feed the night before and caught wind of all these people talking about the Peach Berliner Weisse from Perennial Artisan Ales. We were jealous that we weren’t able to venture out that day to get a taste but were overjoyed when we saw the Perennial tent was untapping it at 1:00 on the day of the festival. The peach flavor was subtle — not too sweet — and super refreshing.
  5. Vanilla Bean Chocolate Ale  There was no better way to wrap up St. Louis Craft Beer Week than with this one from Perennial Artisan Ales. They untapped later in the day at 3:00, and there was a long line of people waiting to try it. But when we got our tasting, it was glorious. And it goes down as my favorite Schurcipefones Festival brew.

Not only was the beer great, but the work friends that joined us there were great company too. St. Louis actually graced us with good weather, and the downtown city setting was a perfect for our beer-drinking adventure.


As for St. Louis Craft Beer Week overall, I can honestly say that the talent and creativity of the microbreweries in town are truly admirable. Some may argue that St. Louis is late to the craft beer scene just as we have been to the food truck scene, but seriously… quit all the mumbo jumbo about the latest trends already and pour yourself a local beer!

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Blog Bouquet

We took The Bear on a walk this afternoon (a super hot one, by the way) and decided to mosey on down to the street that runs behind our house. We can’t really get a close look at the houses on that street because there’s about eight feet of brush in between our back fence and the street. We were curious about how intense the growth was, and Teddy just wanted to get a good sniff at all the cars and dogs he barks at on a daily basis.

When we reached the point where we could actually see the back of House of Riley, I was pretty impressed. Not gonna lie, our house is kinda cute. And I think I can owe it all to the lovely flowers that are gracing our front and back yard as of late. Amazing what color can do to make the place pop. Here’s a look.

Front Yard

My favorite flowers in the world, hydrangeas. Much more purple than they have been in years past. Gotta remember to up the acidifer next year. Also ticked about the hail storm we had earlier this year that ripped up the leaves on these and many of my other plants.

Hydrangea close-up. Don’t you just want to smush your face into these perfect puff balls. Okay, no? Maybe it’s just me.

New Guinea Impatiens with Creeping Jenny. Hmm… sounds like rock concert, doesn’t it? The story behind the Creeping Jenny is that I planted it last year, and it endured our mild St. Louis winter. Fooled you, annual!

These lillies just opened up yesterday. Gotta enjoy them while they last, but thankfully, a few more are on their way to blooming.

The lighting is super harsh in this picture but had to share it anyway. Of the three dahlias I purchased (the others are pink and orange), these purple ones are doing the best. Big blooms and healthy, dark green leaves. They’re pretty perrty.

These little pink flowers are quickly becoming a favorite of mine. They’re called calibrachoas, and they come in a variety of colors — purple, orange, yellow, red, etc. They’re great for hanging or window baskets like this one we have on front window sill.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what the name of this flower is. All I know is it’s another puff ball flower, which apparently, I’m into.

Back Yard

Love bringing in the tropical look with this Canna Lilly. Although you do have to bring it indoors in the winter. Hauling it in is always a fun process for the hubs. Right, hun?

Another flower that needs to hibernate indoors for the winter, the Mandeville.

On the other hand, this Bear does not need to hibernate indoors in the winter. Impatiens pictured left.

I have a whole other set of hydrangeas in the back yard, but these are currently the prettiest ones in bloom. Love the pink centers and white tips.

In one of my recent posts, I dropped a line about a cold weather gardenia. Here is one of its first blooms.

Took this Clematis three years before I actually saw some decent blooms on it. Now it’s overflowing on the trellis by the deck.

Of course, no back yard is complete without The Bear. Here he is chasing down a Frisbee.

Hope you enjoyed this big splash of color that’s currently creating a cheery ambience around the house. It certainly does make me want to hang out around our house more.

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Spoil Your Green Thumb

When the weather outside gets less frightful and little green shoots start to creep up from the soil in St. Louis, where do green thumbs go? I only speak for my own green thumbs when I say Lowe’s, Garden Heights Nursery and Bowood Farms.

Lowe’s happens to be our go-to for all our home improvement needs. They have all the basics there as far as flowers go, but it’s always our staple for things like mulch, gardening soil and fertilizer.

Whenever I feel the mood to step it up from the basics though, it’s down the street to Garden Heights Nursery. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. That place makes me happy. Really, really, really happy. And whenever I am happy at a place of business — Crate & Barrel, Urban Outfitters, Whole Foods Bakery, etc. — my wallet is put in immediate danger.

African Daisies

Stock flowers. Always thought the name “stock” was a little lackluster for these beautiful blooms.

Ranunculus. Their only fault is that their season ends by summer.

But seriously, I like Garden Heights because the selection is great and the staff is very knowledgeable. We’ve purchased nearly all of our shrubs and perennials from Garden Heights because of the quality and variety they offer. And on top of that, they keep me up-to-date with a presence on Facebook and Twitter and an e-mail newsletter. Good to know this nursery is with it!

The third gardening destination in St. Louis is Bowood Farms, which my mom and I recently discovered over our lunch breaks a couple weeks ago. We decided to try lunch at Cafe Osage, a bright, airy restaurant tucked away in a more distant corner of the Central West End. We both ordered the quiche and salad, which was delicious (especially the house-made crust). After polishing off our plates, we decided to explore Bowood Farms, which is the nursery attached to the Cafe Osage.

To put it simply, I fell in love with the place. They have a great collection of gifts from soaps to candles to bud vases. And because I thought they were so great, I bought one of their Lollia candles — the Summer of 1982 scent, which is burning on our fireplace mantle as I type, and is oh-so dreamy. Bowood is also an excellent destination for terrarium supplies. I will definitely be back when I finally make mine. And as for the plant selection and quality, it’s the best I’ve seen in St. Louis. There were varieties I’d never seen before, such as a hydrangeas with lime green colored leaves — as green as sweet potato vines. I was also impressed with their array of succulents and indoor plants — the most I’ve seen at a St. Louis nursery.

Succulents in every texture and pattern

Round the curve of tropical indoor plants, and you’ll find the white shelves with all the terrarium supplies.

Bowood is so laid-back, there’s even a cool cat that walks freely around the garden center.

So many gifts with the most unique fragrances. Tobacco Blossom actually sounds kind of interesting.

Bud vases and bowls in all shapes and sizes

Ahhh, yellow hibiscus.

Those lime green hydrangea leaves. Heavenly.

A perfect bed of impatiens that I wanted to fall into back-first. Snow angel-style. But something tells me I would’ve gotten in trouble for that.

The major downside to Bowood is how pricey everything is. But the fact that this place offers such high-quality plants right smack in the middle of the city is definitely something to admire — even if you only stop in for a look around or a bite to eat.

With three go-to garden shops in my little black book of happy places/bank account drainers, you can imagine I’ve been going to town on beautifying our yard. I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about it and  posting pics in the coming days, but in the meantime, two of the things I’m most excited about this year are a cold-weather gardenia I bought for the backyard and the duo of clematises that are finally starting to mature and grow wild in the backyard. More to come!

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A Girl’s Guide to Good Beer

You always hear about girls getting together for a night on the town to enjoy a few cosmos or fancy-glassed martinis. You also know about girls nights in, which consists of watching chick flicks and bonding over a bottle of wine (which contrary to popular belief, boys, does not happen in our underwear). But what you don’t hear all too often is girls heading for the mountains, having a sure sign of a good time or flirting with the most interesting man in the world. Translation: Busch, Bud Light and Dos Equis — and beer in general — aren’t #1 on a girl’s list of go-to drinks.

That could easily be because some girls don’t care for the taste of beer. In fact, I have a few girlfriends who have long been opposed to beer in favor of wine or liquor. But I’m here to tell you that with as many microbreweries that have been born and booming these past few years, there are way too many “chick beers” to choose from for girls to not have an affinity for good beer. Not that I’m a beer aficionado or anything, but if your reaction to beer is a bitter beer face, here are three ways to branch out and find something you like.

1) Ease yourself into it. 

A good starter beer is Michelob Ultra’s line of fruit-flavored beers in Lime Cactus, Dragon Fruit Peach and Pomegranate Raspberry flavors. The fruitiness is subtle enough not to overpower the beer, but then again the beer flavor isn’t strong enough to overpower the fruit. A good balance, especially on those hot summer days, which are bound to be upon us with these record-breaking temps lately. And for those who might be into that whole low-calorie beer thing, that’s what Michelob Ultra is known for. So sip, sip away.

My brew of choice for our annual lake vacation at the Ozarks.

2) Stay classy. 

I first tried this concoction at (whaddya know) a wine bar called 33 in the Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis. The wine and beer list there was so extensive that I didn’t know what to order. But after telling our server that I was a big fan of Belgian-style beers, he recommended the Duchesse de Bourgogne. It’s a super fancy name that I don’t even know how to pronounce. So my suggestion when ordering it at a classy establishment is to say, “I’ll have the Dutchess.” Then, it’ll just sound like slang — like you’re so clued in to what this beer is all about that you don’t even need to say the full name. (Hey, it works for me.) Anyway, this beer is actually dark, but sweet. And rich, just like the Duchesse de Bourgogne. Whoever she is.

Love the label too.

Photo courtesy of Beer Advocate

3) Fake it. 

If beer still doesn’t cut it for you, back yourself all the way up to the very beginning of the beer spectrum by trying a beer that really shouldn’t even be considered a beer. The flavor is so yummy and sweet and fizzy that you’d think you had just poured yourself a glass of sparkling grape juice. But it’s not grape juice, and it’s not wine. It’s called Framboise Lambic Ale, a Belgian style fruit beer, made from fermented raspberries. So while the dudes around you may argue it’s not beer, you can direct them to the word, “beer” on the label, and then tell them to go to the grocery store and find it in the beer aisle. Because that’s exactly where it’s sold.

And if you're wondering what the alcohol by volume content is, that's a good question. It isn't on the label.

Photo courtesy of Chef Ray Christopher

I bought Mikey a beer recipe book a few weeks ago that have a number of recipes I’d like to try. If we ever get around to making a batch, a couple of them may just be good enough to add to this list. Until then, there’s always a new school of beers that rotate into the local grocery stores these days, so there really is something for everyone. The hubs and I have already been on an unofficial mission to try most all of them.

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What Happens (And Doesn’t Happen) When Playoff Hockey Begins

Start of overtime during Round 1, Game 1 vs. San Jose Sharks.

Last Friday was Cardinals Spirit Day at work for both me and Mikey. And so in honor of the World Series Champs, we wore our St. Louis Blues attire to work. Because in this family, baseball season doesn’t start until hockey season ends.

Playoff hockey season is in full force, my friends. The hubs and I have secured tickets to every Blues home playoff game, and we are pumped. Pumped, as in, me dancing in front of the TV with The Bear, pumped. Pumped, as in, shouting “Let’s Go Blues!” at any given moment, on any given day, at any given hour, pumped. Pumped, as in, creating our very own, “Get Pumped” playlist to listen to on the way to the games, pumped. Do you see the level of pumped we are living in, folks? It’s serious business.

Aside from these prime examples of pumped-ness, there are a number of other things that happen when playoff hockey begins. And on the flip side of that, there are a number of things that don’t. You see, the road to the Stanley Cup finals is a long one, made up of three best of seven rounds. And if your team kicks butt enough to make it to the finals, it’s another best of seven round — which, timing wise, puts you in the month of June. Those three months of battle may result in the following:

Your husband may get a little scruffy.
In true hockey tradition, Mikey is growing a playoff beard this year. The last time I saw him with a playoff beard was back when he played in college. And it was not pretty. But I figure since he hasn’t done it in 10 years, he should give it a shot this decade.

Mikey's playoff beard in progress.

Your voice may get a little scratchy. Or you may lose it altogether. Same goes for your hearing.
If you’re fortunate enough to make it to a playoff hockey game, you should be ready for insanity. It’s unlike any form of screaming and cheering and cussing and high-fiving right in line with the strangers around you. So don’t be surprised if you lose your voice and your hearing. Just take comfort in the fact that your surrounding comrades are in the same boat.

Your calendar will become one big TBD.
Your best friend calls you up and wants to make dinner plans in two weeks. Ehhhh, you can’t really commit at this point because in the event your team makes it to the next round, you don’t want to spend game 7 catching up over cocktails. You’d rather be losing two of your five senses at the game. Sorry, friend.

You may find yourself penny-pinching.
Let’s face it. Attending every game in the playoffs is going to be expensive. So as much as you’ll hate to do it, you may resort to having a glass of water and crust of bread for lunch every day. And the lone inhabitants of your fridge will be a) the Heinz ketchup bottle and b) the remaining pickle juice from the jar your husband ate for dinner last night.

Your couch will see some serious action.
Yes, there’s nothing better than cheering on your team. But watching the other teams battle on TV while warming your couch is highly entertaining, too. Those of you who have caught the Penguins/Flyers series these past few days will know what I’m talking about. That’s what makes hockey great. I can easily watch other teams aside from the Blues play because it’s not like that other sport where watching any team other than your own is more snooze-worthy than Ben Stein reading War & Peace from cover to cover.

Your house will fall into eternal disarray.
Not that my house isn’t already in eternal disarray, but I’ve felt it even more since playoff season has arrived. The floors don’t get swept nearly enough. Your plans to mulch the yard get pushed further and further. The dust on your fireplace mantle gets thicker and thicker. (Good thing I’m short. I’m not tall enough to see the top of the mantle to really even notice.) There are just some things that will be neglected during this time of year. And it’s okay. Take a deep breath, and repeat after me. It’s oooo-kay.

Your beer intake levels will see their highest scores year to date.
It’s only natural to want to enjoy a cold brew while watching a playoff hockey game (or any hockey game, for that matter.) Which is why when your husband tells you he isn’t going to have any beer at the game tonight (in an effort to penny-pinch), you suddenly realize he’s had two beers at $9 a piece! (Yes, this is a true story.)

I’ll tell you what though. All of this is worth it because that’s what hockey fans do. And if you walked up to any of them and asked, they’d tell you they wouldn’t have it any other way.

And now for my random, intermittent Tourettes-like call-out… LET’S GO BLUES!

Fan salute to celebrate the 3-0 win in Round 1, Game 2 against the Sharks.

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First Born Brew

Yesterday was a big day for Mikey. His first attempt at a homemade batch of beer was ready for consumption as of 9:00 last night. I’m happy to report that Riley Brew, Batch #1 was a success!

Clockwise from top left: 1) Hubs and Bear with bottle numero uno. Ready for its big debut. 2) Sniff test. Smells like beer. That’s a good sign. 3) First sip… err, chug. 4) I, wifey, approve. 5) Frothiness. 6) A beautiful pour into Mikey’s favorite beer mug. A St. Louis Blues mug, of course.

There are still seven more bottles waiting in the wings. At the recommendation of a coworker, Mikey decided to hold off on opening the other bottles in order to let the flavors develop. But based on the success of bottle number one, we think they’re going to be pretty darn delicious.

Of course, me being the writer/branding geek of the household, I decided that Mikey should name every batch of brew he makes. That way when we’re socializing with friends, we can sound all cool and be like, “Mmm, this store-bought beer tastes like batch #6, code name: Black Shadow”. Then, we’ll link arms and toss our beers back in unison. Or not.

So after a bit of thinking in front of the TV while sipping on batch #1, Mikey came up with the name Greenhorn. It came out of the fact that the beer (which is a pale ale recipe by the way) is a beautiful golden hue. And that made us think of the Discovery Channel’s TV show, Gold Rush. It’s a series about six heavily bearded men who “risk everything to strike it rich mining for gold in the wilds of Alaska.” It’s actually a pretty interesting show. We sat in front of the TV all day last Sunday to watch the back-to-back marathon. (Apparently, Man Week is really rubbing off on me.)

Anyway, one of the miners, who was new to the mining business, was referred to as a greenhorn. We thought “greenhorn” was a term specific to gold mining, but by definition, it’s actually a person who is new to or inexperienced at a particular activity. And being that this was Mikey’s first attempt, Greenhorn is a perfect name.

So over the next few weeks, I fully expect Mikey to ask me something along the lines of, “Hey, wanna pop open a bottle of Greenhorn while we watch the new episode of Gold Rush tonight?” Ladies, if that’s not your idea of a hot date with your hubs, I don’t know what is.


Filed under Hobbies

Man Week

Last week, the hubs and I took off work for the holidays. And without any travel plans in store, we were free to do whatever the heck we wanted. For me, that meant being my normal nerdy self by catching up on blog posts, scrapbooking for hours on end and cooking all sorts of high-calorie, high-fat recipes with bacon as the main ingredient. For the hubs, it usually means warming up his special spot on the couch — remote in one hand, beer in the other and hockey or football on the tube. But this year, Mikey was graced with two very manly man presents for Christmas — a charcoal smoker and a beer brewing kit.

So the Tuesday after Christmas, he set an alarm for 7:00 a.m., rolled out of bed and started smoking an 8 1/2 lb. brisket over applewood chips in his brand new smoker. After 10 1/2 hours of smoking, the end result was oh-so tasty. And Bear-approved, I might add — as the video below demonstrates.

Smoky, tender and downright delicious.

The following day was beer brewing time. Never have I seen Mikey so intense in the kitchen.

"Beer-making is serious business, Mom. No time for the usual tomfoolery."

The beer recipe is for Pale Ale and is currently fermenting in our dining room. In one week, Mikey will take the next step, which is bottling it and adding sugar to carbonate it. (Apparently, this a very ceremonious process, judging by the fact that he sent me a meeting planner on our iPhone calendars, entitled Time to Bottle the Beer!).

And finally, to round out Man Week, I endured a full three hours of Braveheart. All for the man I heart.

In all honesty, it’s great to see Mikey develop new hobbies. As long as he doesn’t pick up crocheting or interior decorating. Because that just wouldn’t be manly at all.


Filed under Food, Hobbies, Marriage