Friday, November 13, 2015

I Do Spy | Foxes

I'm not sure why foxes remind me of the fall but they do. Maybe it's because the animal is associated with changing leaves but I think it's safe to say that I'd incorporate these into my daily life year-round.

Tail Me About It! Scarf
Aura and Fauna Skirt
Walk On the Wily Side Measuring Cups
Clever So Sweet Flats

Song of the Blog: "What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis

These links are Modcloth affiliate marketing links. This means that if you click them and buy something, I get a little tiny piece of commission. But that doesn't mean I don't love each and every one of them. In fact, I think I need those measuring cups for my new baking job #professional. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review | Why Not Me?

Why Not Me?
by Mindy Kaling

Goodreads SynopsisIn Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

Review: If Amy Poehler is the Queen, then Mindy Kaling is the Princess.

Her voice comes through in every aspect of her writing and throughout the entire memoir, all I could hear was Mindy. This is one of the first celebrity memoirs where I thought, huh, maybe she didn't have a ghost writer.

Mindy does a great job at making all of her stories relatable, because she's basically the perfect girl-next-door celebrity. She talks about her ups and downs with her body image and the struggles of making and keeping friends. She describes her "weird as hell" relationship with B.J. Novak and gives us her insights on why she hates weddings. I really enjoyed how she included photos to really make her point or add to the story. For instance, there's an entire essay on "A Day in the Life of Mindy Kaling," where she allowed her assistant to take pictures of her at her finest and her worst for several days. It's like we're married now.

But I think my two favorite sections were the story time essays. In "One of the President's Men," Mindy gives us the low down on her very slow-moving yet quick relationship with a man who works for the president and it's filled with intrigue and heartache and The President of the United States. What more could you ask for? In "A Perfect Courtship in My Alternate Life," she gives us a glimpse into what her life would have been like in 2005 should she have chosen to stay in NYC and become a Latin teacher — and it's told entirely in e-mail exchanges with a happily ever after. She's brilliant.

Finally, Mindy leaves us with an impressive and everlasting final word:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 goats

Song of the Blog: "Human Nature: by Michael Jackson

I received a copy of this book for free from Blogging for Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Clearly.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

I Do Spy | Beer

It brought me great sadness to wrap up #IntothePintGlass this week. I knew I had to remember and celebrate it for as long as possible. When I realized I hadn't featured beer yet in this quirky shopping round-up, I was both shocked and please. It was like I knew I would need this week to release my beer loving needs. Good job, subconscious.

**also, I need every single one of these items**

Hop Pendant Necklace — Feral Strumpet
I Run Because I Really Like Beer T — Awesome Best Friends Tees!
Pour-ganic Chemistry Glass — ModCloth
Bottle Cap Shadow Box — Christine's Craft Samplers

Song of the Blog: "Let's All Go To The Bar" by Dear Tick

Some of these links are Modcloth affiliate marketing links. This means that if you click them and buy something, I get a little tiny piece of commission. But that doesn't mean I don't love each and every one of them. In fact, I think that pint glass needs to be added to my ever growing collection. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | Meads

This is it. This is Mariah and I's last regularly scheduled program of #IntothePintGlass. Sure, we'll have special season posts and when a new style becomes popular, we'll be sure to tell you all about it, but it won't be the same.

We decided to finish off this series with, ironically, a non-beer. In fact, it's sometimes referred to as a honey wine. But we thought every one should be included and that includes all you glutards out there. 

Mead is really frickin cool. It's basically the oldest beverage known to mankind. It existed even before there was a thought in a vineyard. Many sources differ at where it originated from: some say it was created in India; other's that it came from the Island of Crete in Greece. It's found in history all across the world and even in some culture's folklore. It is, after all, The Nectar of the Gods. What's even cooler is that the word "honeymoon" derives from the practice of the father of the bride including enough mead in his daughter's dowery to last the entire month of the wedding celebrations. 

Mead is simply fermented from honey, water and yeast and, given the perfect climate, can even ferment on its own (you know that's how the dinosaurs for their buzz on). And it's a very similar process to brewing beer, only much easier! In a very short nutshell, you boil some liquids, mix those with other liquids and yeast and then you let it all sit for a long time. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Once you start adding in a whole bunch of other ingredients and flavors, it actually has other names:

Braggot | Traditionally brewed with honey and hops, Currently brewed with honey and malts, with or without hops
Melomel | Fermented with honey and any type of fruit, although some fruits have their own specific names
Cyser | Fermented with honey and apple juice
Perry | A blend of honey and milled, ripe pears
Sack Mead | Made with a lot of freaking honey
Pyment | A blend of honey and red or white grapes

Mead can be still or carbonated, sweet or dry. But it's always delicious.

Redstone Meadery's Black Raspberry Nectar
Style: M2E. Melomel
ABV: 8%

Aroma: It has a lighter honey scent with only a small twinge of raspberry. Like, really small.

Appearance: It's pink! That was my first reaction when I poured it and that's all anyone should ask of me. It's also very bubbly. It looks like a sparkling rose so I'm already game.

Flavor: Woah. There is way more raspberry flavor than the aroma would make it seem. The raspberry definitely outflavors the honey, which I can appreciate in a melomel.

Mouthfeel: It's a little bit water-y. And not as carbonated as I would have thought. This mead is just full of surprises.

Overall: It's incredibly drinkable. Like any mead, it's a little bit sweet (helloooo honey!) but I would have another bottle. Right now. Who wants to get day drunk with me?!

Moonlight Meadery's Fling
Style: M2E. Melomel
ABV: 13.3%

You guys don't know my attachment to Moonlight Meadery. The first time I ever had mead, my mind was blown. Then, my dad and I were at pro-brewers night at the NHC a couple years back and Moonlight was there. They had seven meads and we would get our cup filled, then get back in line to try the next flavor. After the last one (these are much higher ABVs than beer), we both looked at each other and said with a sway, maybe we should stop. It was the best. God, I love mead.

Aroma: Heaven. I only smell heaven. And honey. And rhubarb. And strawberries. Heaven.

Appearance: It's a ruby red-honey color with very light carbonation.

Flavor: The Web site labels this as semi-sweet but, dear lord, it is sweet. The main flavor is definitely the honey with a backdrop of strawberries and rhubarb.

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrup-y. But the semi-sweet makes sense to me now because it has a great dry finnish.

Overall: If you all haven't had a Moonlight Meadery mead, I urge you to go to your local bottle shop and pick up a bottle. It can be any flavor. You're only going to win. I loved this mead. I could drink it like water. In fact, screw water. I'll drink 8 glasses of this a day from here on out.

It's been a real privilege drinking with all of you. I hope you learned something new every style. I hope your love for beer grew. I hope you tasted only fantastic beers. 

Keep drinking, my friends, and stay classy-ish. 

Song of the Blog: "Closing Time" by Semisonic

Monday, October 26, 2015

How To: Drink Beer in Italy

What do you think of when you think of Italy? Beautiful beaches. Pizza and pasta. Rolling hills. A sinking city.

And wine. All the mother loving wine.

But what about us beer drinkers? Do we have to have wine at every meal, or worse, drink Peroni or Nastro Azzuro (the Miller of Italy)?

The answer is a resounding no. The craft beer scene in Italy had a late start compared to its other European and American amici but that doesn't mean they aren't kicking some serious birra butt. Many of the breweries are in the far off country side, only accessible via car down windy roads with crazy drivers.

I don't know if you all heard, but while I was on my travels throughout Italia, I happened to run into at least one beer-only bar in every. single. city. The hops called to me. I slowly began to realize that not only is Italia brewing beer, it's brewing some fantasticly delicious beer.

Salerno, IT

I was walking back from dinner toward my hostel looking for a place to have a night cap when a handsome redhead Italian man asks me if I'd like something to drink. I reply, a glass of wine? He said he only had beer. Little did he know that was the key to my heart.

This bar has three beers on tap and an industrial-sized beer fridge filled from top to bottom with Italian craft beers. There's a tiny little bar, where I sat two nights in a row talking it up with Giampiero (the perfect man) and Maria (the cutest Italian young woman) and drinking fine beer. If you wanna drink your beer outside, there are plenty of tables outside on the cobblestone to people watch in this perfect, small town.

Bir & Fud
Roma, IT

Luigi, the owner of BAI, told me that when I'm in Roma, I must visit this restaurant and bar and say hello to his friend, Alfonso. I met up with a friend my first night in the Capital city and we were looking for a place to eat when, of course, we stumbled across Bir & Fud. Not only is this the most perfectly named restaurant in all the land, it is awesome. The bar inside seemed a little dark and cramped so we sat outside on one of the few perfect-weathered nights.

Their bir selection is extensive and, even though they had The Duchesse on tap, I went with another wonderful light sour ale. The fud was out of control awesome. I had a bruscetta (pronounced brew-sket-ta) like dish with thick, salami-like meat, a creamy cheese and lemon shavings that knocked my socks off.

Open Baladin
Roma, IT

I was not able to make it to Open Baladin on this trip but from the looks of the photographs, it looks like I would have never left, so it's probably for the best. They have over 100 Italian craft beers to choose from and some tasty-looking eats.

BrewDog Firenze
Firenze, IT

I was not cool enough to actually step foot into this place, let alone go in for a beer but that didn't stop me from going here multiple times throughout my ten-day stop in the greatest city in Italia. The only catch is that BrewDog is not Italian beer — it's a famous brewery based in Scotland. But many of their bottled beers are Italian and they do have several rotating guest taps that will feature one or two Italian breweries.

Overall, it's a really cool punk rock bar with American food (those burgers looked amazing but I couldn't bring myself to eat one while I was in, you know, Italy) and BrewDog really does produce some fantastic brews.

Beer House Club
Firenze, IT

Let me just say this: a large pizza and a large beer for €10. They have a good amount of craft beers on tap, the pizza was decent and the owner (a female!) was so interesting to chat with. I was there at 14:30 on a week day so it was empty, but I bet this place would be really fun to go to at night.

Archea Brewery
Firenze, IT

I LOVE IT HERE. Guys. I love it here.

They don't brew their beers on site — they brew it at another facility in Southern Italy so you're not able to get a tour. But who cares because I just wanted to sit at the bar, drinking awesome beer, talking to Antony, the greatest own co-owner, taking in the vintage movie posters (like Big Trouble, Little China) and listen to classic rock music.

I'm going to make sure my future apartment is right next door to Archea so that I can go here every day.

If you want to learn about Italian craft beer and it's history, this is a great book to read. 

Do you have a favorite Italian craft beer? How about a favorite place for beer in Italia?

Song of the Blog: "When Love Finds You" by Vince Gill

Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Review | The Mapmaker's Children

The Mapmaker's Children
By Sarah McCoy

Goodreads SynopsisWhen Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. 
Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

Review: I expected this book to be different. And before I talk about the actual plot, I just want to say that the writing and descriptions and language are beautiful. McCoy does a fantastic job painting a scene and a landscape and the introduction was absolutely my favorite part of the whole book.

The first half moves incredibly slow. I couldn't get into either character's plight because it was mostly about being unable to conceive and Eden, in particular, was a whiny, selfish woman who used that as her excuse to be miserable and rude. I found it impossible to relate to. Sarah's story was, by far, the superior story line. It was compelling and pertinent.

Once I got to the middle of the book, things started to pick up for both story lines and I really found myself enjoying it. I was quite disappointed in several outcomes of each story. Sarah's story line ended in psuedo-happiness that I wasn't really thrilled about and Eden's story line ended in a little bow. But, of course, each had to have terrific tragedy to have a fruitful ending.

Amongst all of the faults that are completely subjective, I found myself racing to finish the book to see if these two women lived, in a sense, happily ever after. I also loved the thrill of figuring out how these two women were connected, as McCoy only hints at it through the entire novel until, really, the last few chapters.

Rating: 3.5 goats

Song of the Blog: "Wade in the Water" by Ella Jenkins

I received a copy of this book for free from Blogging for Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Clearly.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Into the Pint Glass | Pumpkin Beer

IT'S PUMPKIN SEASON, YA'LL. Have you consumed enough PSLs yet? How's your Pumpkin Beer intake? I hope it's high because we are about to discuss the pivotal vegetable of the season. Let's let Mariah do the introductions (again, because this girl is a slacker).

Pumpkin beer is not really a defined “style” of beer. It’s basically a fruit beer; a beer based on its additions, not the base style of the beer brewed. For example, a pumpkin ale, may start out as a saison, a brown, a stout, or whatever and then the pumpkin and spices are added to it. Under the BJCP guidelines, pumpkin beer is classified under the Spice, Herb or Vegetable beer category. Pumpkin beers can contain real roasted pumpkin, pumpkin puree, pumpkin flavoring, and/or just pumpkin spices (like nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and allspice). This beer is wildly popular in the US market. It’s a seasonal beer, released in the Fall. It’s the beer lover's answer to the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
It’s also a hotly debated issue in terms of what is the “best” pumpkin beer out on the market. I personally don’t think there is a definitive answer for that question, but to get you started on your pumpkin beer journey here are a few lists:
I didn't want to do traditional pumpkin ales for this special occasion. I've already tried Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale a million times (it's on my restaurant's tap) and while I respect my beverage director's (of the best restaurant group in ATX) opinion that Shipyard has the best pumpkin ale of this season, I wanted to do something different. 

Buffalo Bill's Brewery's Black Pumpkin
Style: 13C. Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 7.5%

Aroma: I get mostly Oatmeal from this guy. There's a slight twinge of spice in the background but for the most part, I get really heavy oatmeal.

Appearance: This thing poured heavy. And with three fingers of a light tan head! Holy Carbonation, Batman! It is thick and it is dark.

Flavor: I'm sad to say I don't really taste much pumpkin. I suppose there are some spices if I'm really searching for it but I taste a really dar, traditional oatmeal stout. I will say, though, that while it's sweet from the heavy malts, I do get some bitterness.

Mouthfeel: It has a dry mouthfeel with a good amount of carbonation (which we all saw coming from the appearance).

Overall: It is very well-balanced, with the sweet and bitterness factors. However, this beer isn't really for me. Who wants to come over and finish off my 22oz bottle for me?

Boulevard Brewing Company's Funky Pumpkin
Style: 21A. Spice, Herb or Vegetable Beer
ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 28

Aroma: All Hail, All The Spices! For serious, though. I definitely get a wiff of that classic pumpkin with nutmeg and allspice. However, I also smell a strong presence of ginger, which (before I get a little taster) I think will taste great with the Brettanomyces bacteria.

Appearance: It is a very light copper color with a good bit of haziness. There's a very light and thin head on top that gives out very fast moving legs.

Flavor: It's like a spicy sour beer. I mean, that's literally what it is. The pumpkin flavor is definitely less than the actual scent. And I definitely taste that ginger. I don't know if it's because I want it more, but I taste that more than anything.

Mouthfeel: It's a medium body with low carbonation. There isn't really that lemon mouth puckering that comes with many sours.

Overall: I have found my beer. If you all are looking for a Christmas present for me, this is what I want because I doubt they'll bring this back (I wonder what next year's beer-of-the-moment is going to be because sours are living). It's the perfect level of sour and spice and I love it.

Into The Pint Glass

Last, But Not Least: Meads (This one is for all you glutards. So we can all go out with a bang together!)