Tuesday, March 31

Myrtle Beach Beer Fest

Our long weekend at the beach was centered around the Myrtle Beach Beer Fest. Even though it was cloudy and we had a round of spinkly rain, the beer fest was really fun. This was the first year it was held. We’ve been to several other Beer Fests and while this was smaller, it was also less crowded and much more relaxing and enjoyable. Despite a lot of your typical domestic beers, we were able to try a few local brews as well as others we just have not had the chance to try for one reason or another. It was also a great way to try different styles that I don’t normally like such as IPAs. Tara and I were the talk of the festival with our Foothills Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout shirts! Rick decided to the be the oddball and wear and Dogfish Head t-shirt.March 2009 268 March 2009 252

My favorites were Clipper City Loose Cannon, Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown, New Holland Poet Stout, Foothills Peoples Porter, RJ Rockers Buckwheat, Stone Smoked Porter, New South Nut Brown Ale and Thomas Creek Deepwater Dopplebock.

March 2009 259 The festival was held in the new Market Street Commons. Afterwards, we ate at Gordon Biersch for a late lunch where I had the beer sampler, then walked around the shops. The trip was not complete without a beer-buying spree in the Piggly Wiggly of all places. What a great selection…we came out with Founder’s Kentucky Bourbon Stout, Southern Tier Java, Wild Dog Collaborator, New Holland Dragon’s Milk and Great Divide Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout!March 2009 267 March 2009 261

We were pretty exhausted from beer tasting, so dinner consisted of leftovers and the most amazing Mac & Cheese from Beecher’s in Pike Place Market…all the way from Seattle. My sister in law, Julie sent it to us since it’s the best comfort food she knew of. We were instant fans and plan on ordering more. It’s shipped fresh and ready to bake! DELICOUS!

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Beachin' & Shoppin’

Thursday evening, we departed for a great vacation at the beach with our friends Tara and Rick. Even after arriving at almost 11pm, the night would not have been complete without a very tastings of beer!

Friday morning, we were pretty lazy getting up and relishing in the fact our coworkers had been at work for quite awhile while we enjoyed Lemon Poppy seed muffins and fruit salad in our pjs. Our morning also included a quick walk on the beach. March 2009 106

March 2009 113 Since it was cloudy and raining we decided on shopping for the day's activity...a little retail therapy was really needed after the week I'd had! The boys were not too thrilled and dropped us off while they went to the movies. Bad mistake! Two girls running around the outlets for almost 4 hours...we did some damage. We ended up buying out most of Ann Taylor Loft, but there were some amazing deals. We each ended up with a new spring wardrobe and I found dresses for the upcoming bridal showers and weddings in the next few months. Ben and Rick were pleasantly surprised when they picked us up that we had gifts for them too! They got a lot of matching things (including matching cowboy hats and beer boxers)! March 2009 121

For dinner, Ben and I introduce the Kups to T-Bonz...our absolute favorite place to eat the beach. The meal would not be complete without an appetizer of Tommy Fries, baked potato wedges smothered with cheese, bacon and ranch dressing. I could barely eat my dinner! We all brought home leftovers.

Friday night was our official beer tasting night. We tried 8 different beers and different they were. It always seems our beer  tastings end up with all Stouts and Porters, but we had quite a few Belgians included this time. For several hours we spent hovered over tasting sheets, making notes and discussing beers like a bunch of nerds!  March 2009 115Here's our list:

Drunkin' Punkin'
1809 Berliner Style Weisse
Thristy Dog Raspberry Ale
Stone Vertical Epic
Struise Pannepot
┼╗ywiec Porter
Terrapin Side Project #4 Dos Cocoas Chocolate Porter
Thristy Dog Siberian Night Imperial Stout

Monday, March 23

A New Landscape

Today was a particularly bad day…we recently found out I was pregnant and had our first ultrasound this morning, however we did not get news that we were hoping for. The baby did not have a heartbeat and the gestational age was a week off from where it should be. Ben and I are sad, but are looking forward to moving on and have resolved that this just was not the right one for us.

I did not feel like going to work and took off the rest of the week since I’ll be having a D&C tomorrow morning. We did not feel like sitting around the house all day…the weather was too gorgeous for that! All weekend I was itching to get outside, get some new bushes and add some color to our landscape. We figured it’d be a great day to plant some new life in our front yard!

Blog 333Blog 332We planted an azalea in the very front in an effort to cover up an ugly utility pole. We also wanted a breed of roses and found these great rose bushes, Double Knockout Roses, that are very low maintenance and grow tons of flowers for most of the year.

Blog 336Blog 335 Not only did it get our mind of things, but we really enjoyed the great weather and spending some QT together!

Later we also received these gorgeous flowers from my brother, sister in law and parents. So many beautiful flowers in and outside of the house…they really cheer us up!Blog 341

Saturday, March 21

Human Treats!

After a scare with Freddie earlier this week and his hind leg injured, we went for a check up to the vet. This is another chore I absolutely hate. I love my dog to death, but we tend to put off his annual check ups for as long as possible! Freddie hates the vet, freaks out and becomes a Tasmanian Devil as soon as they touch him. Today was no different! Freddie is only 25 lbs and it still took three people to give him his shots, drawn some blood and cut his nails. In fact, our vet said he’s the only dog under 50lbs that takes 3 people to get anything done to him. I think it affects me more than him. Once he was done and got treats, although he really did not earn them, he was the vet’s best friend.

After we paid our $222 vet bill for them to tell us his hip is tight and he probably hurt it jumping off the bed…we decided we needed a treat of our own for enduring Freddie acting out. So on the way home we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for a dozen and a Coffee Coolatta…DELICIOUS!

Blog 330 Blog 329 The boys dug right in before I could get a picture of the colorful dozen. I enjoyed a Berries and Cream, but can’t wait to bite into a lemon filled, or the plain, or the Boston Cream. Ben might open the box to find a bit taken out of each one!

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The Worst Chore Ever!

I love a clean house, but I hate hate hate dusting! Maybe I’ve never found a product that works and the dust just gets scattered around. Or maybe I just wait too long in between dusting that there is too much!

Today I was determined to get the house spotless, so tomorrow we can relax and enjoy the clean house without the last few lingering chores hanging over our heads. I remembered I had bought these Pledge Dusters with the Multi Surface spray. They work pretty good…the spray seems to help trap the dust even more, so the duster picks up 90% of the dust. And because I’m pretty lazy when it comes to dusting and hate moving all the knick knacks, it fits into tight spaces so you don’t have to move them every time. These are definitely going into my cleaning supplies. Over the years of living on my own I’ve started to become partial to cleaning products as I find the ones that really work with the least amount of effort.image

Friday, March 20

Happy Spring!

I don’t think I’ve ever been so anxious for spring and warm weather. When stopping at Harris Teeter to pick up a few things for dinner, I decided to celebrate the day with a few bunches of fresh flowers…tulips and Gerber daisies! Let’s hope the weather continues to improve and stay gorgeous.St. Pats and Brew 037 St. Pats and Brew 032

St. Patty’s Day at the Beach

As with year’s past we headed to the beach for St. Patrick’s Day Weekend and the annual St. Patrick’s Festival and Parade. Due to the weather, this year was not a great turnout, but regardless we had fun.

We relaxed most of the weekend, enjoyed dinner at T-Bonz and celebrated another round of Ben’s birthday. This time with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. We realized we forgot candles, so we made do with a tea-light! Ben also enjoyed a few homebrews.

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Saturday, March 14

Great Weather, Great Grilling

Last weekend we had fabulous weather…highs were in the 80’s and it such a reprieve from the freezing temperatures and snow we had just 4 days earlier. Of course we got the itch to grill and I had a flank steak just waiting for us in the freezer. In the latest issue of Cooking Light was a recipe for Asian-Marinated Flank Steak. It takes a little forethought as it needs to marinate for 24 hours. After a trip to the store and no luck finding all the ingredients, I had to improvise with what I had on hand in my pantry. While Ben grilled the steak, I boiled potatoes and threw together ingredients to make horseradish-style mashed potatoes and dressed up frozen snap peas with sesame oil and ginger. It turned out to be an excellent spring dinner!

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Asian-Marinated Flank Steak (Cooking Light)

  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
  • Cooking spray

Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup hoisin mixture; spoon remaining mixture into a large zip-top plastic bag. Add steak to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 24 hours, turning bag occasionally. Remove steak from bag; discard marinade.

Prepare grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Place steak on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Serve with reserved 1/4 cup sauce.

Happy Birthday Ben!!!

Ben is celebrating the last year of his 20’s! Friday he turned 29 and we started off the day with cake and presents. He always requests such unique cake ideas for his birthdays and this year was no different. He wanted a strawberry cake, but not the homemade strawberry cream cheese icing that came with it. His reason was the pink colored icing is too girly. Instead he decided on chocolate! I thought it’d be a little weird, but it ended up like a Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake…delicious! We enjoyed the cake for breakfast after he opened his gifts from me. I got home a 3 month subscription to a Beer of the Month Club, a quick beer chiller and new running clothes.

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Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake (Paula Deen)

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
  • 1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
  • 1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Strawberry cream cheese frosting, recipe follows
  • Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
  • 1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
  • 7 cups confectioners' sugar
  • Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

For the frosting:

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.

Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

For the rest of the night we went to the Hurricane’s game and enjoyed hotdogs, nachos and beer. It was an exciting game with a win! The ‘canes always lose every time we’ve been to see them until last year on Ben’s birthday, so it’s sort of a Birthday tradition that we only go on Ben’s birthday…and they’ve always won since!

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Monday, March 2

Snowy Baking Day

Well, it was not so much snowy, but rainy and the snow was on it’s way. After a somewhat quick and crowded trip to the grocery store Sunday morning I got the urge too cook up a few yummy things.

A cold day was begging for hot piping lasagna. I love making this and now my recipe is a combination of all our favorite lasagna recipes….lots of veggies, a little meat, cabernet marinara and a yummy cheese mixture. March Snow 011 March Snow 016

After I assembled the lasagna and cleaned up, it was only 3pm. Ben brought home some ginger cookies a coworker made and they were so delicious I had to have more. For things like this, my go-to website is allrecipes.com. I usually go by ratings and reviews and this recipe did not disappoint with 1,601 reviews and rated 5 stars!

Big Soft Ginger Cookies (Allrecipes)

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. March Snow 010

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