Pacific Northwest Craft Beers to Try This Summer

IMG_5195On Saturday night, we decided to head out to the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival in downtown Medford. We split our time about 50/50 between enjoying delicious brews and laughing at try-hard hipster outfits. Speaking of which, are sweatshorts a thing now? And I’m not talking about the athleisure trend, I’m talking about $5 Walmart sweatpants cut off at the knee. I saw at least three guys wearing them last night paired with chucks, and I don’t really know how to react to that. I’m currently stuck somewhere between “ew” and “but I do love sweatpants.” It was kind of like this:

Source, in case you want to buy some for your man.

Source, in case you want to buy some for your man.

Anyway, enough about hipster clothing. I’m really writing this post to tell you about my favorite brews from the night so that you can try them out this summer. Before we start, I feel like I should warn you: if you’re looking for a serious beer review containing phrases like “mouth feel” and “intricate lacing,” this won’t be that. This is more, “what I’ll be drinking this summer while watching Netflix in my underwear in front of a box fan.”

Ninkasi Brewing Company, Dawn of the Red

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Everyone in Northern California seems to be raving about the Eugene-based Ninkasi Brewing Company right now … and now I can see why. Their Dawn of the Red India Red Ale was easily my favorite from the entire night. I like me a super hoppy IPA, but even if you don’t typically like IPAs/IRAs you should still give it a try. It’s got a slightly fruity flavor (the label says it’s brewed with mangoes, papaya, and pineapple) that mellows the hoppiness a bit. Plus, how cool is the name? It’s a special release, so I’m not sure if you’ll see it in stores. If you do, pick it up.

OakShire Brewing Espresso Stout

bottle_template_StoutI wasn’t originally going to try this one, but I’m SO glad I did – this may be my favorite coffee/espresso stout I’ve tasted. I love coffee, and my main complaint with espresso stouts is that the java flavor isn’t strong enough. However, this was like drinking a glass of iced coffee. The whole time I was drinking it, I kept thinking, “This would go so great with a giant piece of chocolate cake.” (Then again, when do I *not* think that.) These guys are from Eugene too – apparently we need to plan a road trip, stat.

2 Towns Ciderhouse Hop & Stalk

hopAndStalkI mentioned that I love a hoppy beer, and I also love cider, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this imperial hopped cider from the Corvallis-based 2 Towns Ciderhouse. If you’re not a beer fan, you’ll probably love this – it’s super fruity, and it’s made with red rhubarb and fresh-pressed apples. It’s 8% ABV and goes down easily, which means this is a good choice if you’re looking for a nice buzz with not a lot of effort :)

Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA

hop-valley-citrus-mistre-24039-543zI’ve raved about Hop Valley’s Citrus Mistress IPA before, but I couldn’t leave it off the list. It’s tart, refreshing, and the grapefruit flavor isn’t too overpowering. I’m no expert but I feel like it would go really well with fish tacos. Mmm, fish tacos.

That’s it! If you can’t find these in stores near you, then there’s really only one solution: Plan a trip to Oregon right this minute.

Romper Madness

You guys, I’m afraid the unthinkable has happened: I want to buy a romper.

The first time I saw somebody wearing a romper in the wild, I remember thinking that there was NO WAY that they would ever catch on as a trend. (Although to be fair, I remember having a heated discussion with a high school classmate about how nobody would ever replace all of their VHS tapes with DVDs, so it appears that my trend prediction skills are not great.)

Anyway, rompers. My head says that they’ll probably give me saggy-diaper-butt and I’ll have trouble finding one to fit my pear-shaped body and do I really want to jump on a trend that requires you to distinguish between “toddler” and “women’s” when you search online? But my heart says, “look how pretty!”

I think this one is cute too, although I’m alarmed that it is giving the model a serious case of pancake ass, when she is literally a professional nice-ass-haver:

Source

                                           Source

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 8.41.11 AMDave is totally making this face right now:

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I think I might test my romper love with an inexpensive, simple version from Forever 21 (perhaps this one). That way if I wind up feeling like a 5’5 toddler when I put it on, I’m only out $17.

Tell me your thoughts about rompers: Do you wear them? Do you have a favorite romper that you wear every weekend that you want to tell me about? Should I run away screaming and pretend this post never happened?

I Need a Vacation

I’m juggling a bunch of different projects and planning several events at work right now, and I think the stress is getting to me because I had a minor panic attack in the car on the way to work yesterday over power strips. Specifically, whether I remembered to add power strips to an event purchase order. I know I *thought* about adding them, but did I actually do it? I don’t think I did … GREAT, I’M GOING TO BE FIRED AND I’LL LOSE MY CAR AND MY HOUSE AND I’LL HAVE TO LIVE UNDER THE BRIDGE LIKE A TROLL.

Friends gif

Contributing to the stress is the fact that I haven’t taken a vacation in almost a year. Partially because my new workplace puts employees through a six-month probationary period before they’re eligible to use vacation time, and partially because I’m one of those people who thinks their office CANNOT POSSIBLY function without them so they hoard their vacation time and wind up having mental breakdowns over power cords.

The good news is that I only have to wait a few more months before I finally get a vacation: A bunch of my best college friends and I are planning a summer trip to Palm Springs in August, and I cannot wait. We all lived in a house together our senior year, and we did a lot of reality TV watching/Chipotle eating/general adventuring around the LA area. It was basically the best time ever. Here is a picture of us hanging out in Santa Monica approximately one million years ago:

Cobras

That mint shrug is near the top of the Terrible Decisions I Made in College list.

I moved up to Northern California the year after I graduated, and it’s been way too many years since I’ve seen them (see vacation hoarder comment above). I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself at work, to the point where I feel genuinely guilty requesting time off, even if I’ve earned it. However, I’m finding that the older I get, the more I care about doing what’s best for myself, and that includes taking time off. Basically what I am saying is God help whoever winds up sitting next to me on the flight to LA.

Ready to party gif

Trip Pics and the Worst Text Ever

I got back last night from Sacramento, and the conference turned out to be really fun. It helped that it was held in the downtown/Old Sacramento area, within easy walking distance of a ton of fun restaurants, shopping, parks, etc. Normally we wind up in a Radisson across from a business park where the main attractions are Panda Express and Office Depot. Lunch the first day was on our own, and since I didn’t really know anybody I wound up eating by myself at a cafe on the river. The view wasn’t too terrible:

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Neither was the food:

IMG_5114I was in town attending a health/wellness conference, so I went with the somewhat healthy-ish option of a smoked salmon BLT on wheat bread. I’m sure the thick cut bacon, basil aioli, and crispy sweet potato fries outweighed any health benefits the salmon offered, but whatever. It was good.

I was about halfway through my meal when I noticed this little hipster dude staring at me over his Moscow mule. One minute I was looking down at my phone, and then when I looked up he was squatting awkwardly next to my chair.

Him: “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if I could get your autograph?”

Me: “Huh?” (FULL DISCLOSURE: Some bacon sprayed across the table when I said this.)

Him: “Aren’t you the girl from Interstellar?”

Me: “Yes, it’s me, Jessica Chastain. I could be relaxing on my yacht in Italy, but instead I’m here in Old Sacramento inhaling a plate of bacon and fries while wearing a $15 dress from Old Navy.”

For the record, I think I look nothing like Jessica (aside from the hair), but it was a nice change from Wynonna Judd and Fergie (the royal Fergie, not the peed-herself-on-stage Fergie).

The next day I received this text from Dave, which makes me feel simultaneously relieved and horrified:

IMG_5120TWELVE BLACK WIDOWS. The worst part was that he said the majority of them were living on the outside of the bedroom wall that our headboard is on. I WAS SLEEPING WITH TWELVE BLACK WIDOWS NEXT TO MY HEAD. I mean, they were separated by a layer of drywall and some siding, but still. Home Defense is supposed to work for 12 months, but I’m trying to convince Dave he should spray every month just to be safe. That’s not crazy, right?

Operation: Deck Flowers

Thanks to everyone who offered advice on types of flowers that deer won’t eat! We’re likely going to go with a combination of marigolds, iris (Dave’s cousin is giving us a bunch from her house!), and peonies for the front of the house. I hadn’t really considered peonies until we were visiting Dave’s grandma last week and she had a bunch of them in full bloom. I asked about them, and she said they do really well in our climate and the deer don’t eat them. Plus, they’re pretty gorgeous:

Peony

Breaking blogger protocol by posting a picture of a peony that’s not sticking out of a $2,000 handbag.

On Saturday, we decided to go ahead and get some color on our deck since we don’t have much of a critter problem back there. I got a little too excited about all the pretty options at the store, and wound up spending close to $200 on flowers, planters, and soil. WHOOPS. It’s definitely looking better out there, though!

Deck

It took us two years to do this, so our dream deck should be ready just in time for us to retire.

Now I feel a little better about inviting people over to hang out back here, which we did on Friday night after the Rangers/Lightning game. We bought a few sourdough loaves, some delicious cheeses, and all of the wine, and had ourselves a little wine and grilled cheese party. This is pretty much how I want to spend my Friday nights for the rest of the summer.

Wine

We’ll have to invite everyone back over next weekend, since there’s no way they remember what the deck looked like after all that wine.

Up next is finding a couple of bigger plants to put in the corners of the deck (a potted lemon tree could be cool!) and figuring out some better lighting. This will probably consist of a combination of string lights (I like these, to string up the tree in the middle of our deck) and a better wall light than the one we’ve got now. I think a Lowe’s trip will have to happen next weekend.

And in case you’re thinking that that doesn’t look like $200 worth of flowers, you are correct: some of the plants we bought on Saturday went out front, but I’m going to wait to post photos until we’ve made some more progress out there. Step 1 is for Dave to spray spider poison under the lip on the siding of the house, since he has seen multiple black widows out there this spring and my hands will not go anywhere near the side of the house until it’s been thoroughly coated in lethal chemicals. And even then, I’ll be dressed like this:

kigvAnyway, that’s our progress so far. I leave tonight for a work trip, so we’ll see if they’re alive when I come back Tuesday night!

DIY Cake Stands (and some other stuff)

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Last weekend I made these cake stands out of thrift store/dollar store finds for an upcoming party. I was going to post a tutorial, but it turns out it’s super simple and I don’t want this to turn into one of those Pinterest-bait “how-to” posts about projects that could be carried out by a moderately bright tapeworm.  I swear I once saw an entire post devoted to a “recipe” for raspberries stuffed with chocolate chips.

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Anyway, if you want to make these cake stands just do this:

– Find some vases/wine glasses/other glass vessels of varying heights.

– Buy glass plates at the Dollar Store.

– Glue them together.

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We were out of super glue, so I bought a tube of this super mega industrial strength adhesive at Walmart. I noticed midway through my project that the packaging was covered in warnings about cancer and/or kidney failure. I wasn’t in a well-ventilated area and got it all over my hands, so who knows how long I’ve got left. If a day goes by and I haven’t Instagrammed a cat photo, send someone to check on me.

Other things of note:

– Something keeps eating the flowers in our front yard, which pisses me off because for the first time in my life I’ve actually been remembering to water them. I’m pretty sure the culprits are either deer or squirrels. If you have some suggestions for wildlife-resistant flowers, I’d love to hear them because I’m pretty close to becoming this guy:

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– Dave is making mini blackberry-lemon cheesecakes with lemon-infused crusts for the upcoming party mentioned above. I’ll try and talk him into guest-blogging the recipe, because he makes the greatest cheesecake ever and also he’s a funny writer. Feel free to peer pressure him in the comments.

– Ally McBeal is on Netflix Instant, and I’ve been bingeing on it regularly because IT IS SO FUNNY. I remember watching as a kid and thinking of them as “old people,” and I was kind of appalled to find out that they’re only supposed to be in their late 20s. I’M OLDER THAN RICHARD FISH, WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Bygones.

Bygones.

I’ll leave you with a pic of our sad flowers. RIP, PETUNIAS:

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Memorial Day Weekend: Three Words Per Photo

We had a fantastic three-day weekend over here – we managed to strike just the right balance of lying around doing nothing and spending time with friends. I’m posting a few photos of what we were up to, since I’m still in ultra-lazy mode and don’t feel like writing anything longer than a paragraph.

Whiskers{Furry alarm clock.}

Herbs

{So. Many. Herbs.}

Bears

{Crazy bear lady.}

Thai Food

{Shrimp panang curry.}

Cake stands

{Making cake stands.}

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{Jump squats. Ouch.}

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{SPF 30 sucks.}

Barbecue

{Monday night dinner.}

And now it’s back to work … I hope your weekend was as relaxing as ours was!