Never Fear, Shower Beer!

 

I think that I shall never see

a poem lovely as a tree.

 

There’s nothing lovelier to see

than a shower beer, just for me!!

My love.

I don’t always drink Bud Platinum…

But when I do, it’s in the shower.

It’s gonna be a great weekend, y’all.

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A Tale of Three Zumbas

I just love the heck out of some Zumba.  Apparently, this is abundantly clear to anyone who participates in class with me as, today, as I was leaving the gym, one woman came over, having just sweat next to me for an hour, and said,

I just love your enthusiasm and energy in the class! It really just makes me wanna work even harder!

I said thanks, letting her know that it meant a lot to me knowing I could contribute to the workout.  And I’ll admit, more often than not, I like to take zumba class seriously. When instructors say, “Oh, it’s just about having fun! Don’t worry if you don’t get the steps,” I say, “NAY! If it were PURELY about having fun, I’d be off at some discotheque with some cute skinny jeans and a bandeau under a tank top. Instead, it’s about getting my sweat on to some of my favorite jams, and incorporating pure joy into fitness.”

Ok, I don’t really say that, as I’m likely winded already and toweling sweat off my face and that’s a lot of words to say between water breaks.  But I do take it as seriously as I take any workout.

That is to say very seriously.

That’s why, today, I decided to look at three different Zumba experiences I’ve had in the month of March, with three different instructors, and investigate the differences.

Up first: Zumba Red

Colors = Different Instructors

This class, taught in the beginning of March, was by a instructor that I’ve come to dread.  If I’d never taken a class before, and she was my instructor, I might not know any better.  But I’ve taken dozens, from MANY different instructors, and I’ve become a bit of a snob.  Instructor Red takes things easy. While she occasionally mentions the higher level options, she rarely never demonstrates those options. She also sticks with the most traditional of the traditional Zumba songs. I’m talking almost entirely samba, salsa, and merengue. Sure, there’s the occasional hip hop or contemporary song, but it’s often the slowest of slow, and the moves are repetitive and uninspired.

I find myself having to invent my own “higher level options”, jumping when she steps, lunging when she leans. It’s a challenge to me, not to keep up with the instructor, but to keep making up ways to keep the workout exciting.  It’s a shame, I’m sure she has the best intentions, but she’s the kind of instructor that would be better suited for Zumba Gold. Also, I tend to like it when I can sing along with the music. When every song is in Spanish, I can’t. And that’s the worst.

If you look at the image, too, you can see the deep drops in heart rate. I love a little breather now and then but, when my heart rate dips to 120 and I’m not cooling down… that’s a little bit of a bummer for me. When I only have about an hour to work out, I like to get the most bang for my buck.

Zumba Blue

I’m pretty sure the initial spike up to 201 was a fluke, but I will say that the blue instructor always starts the class off with a bang. He (yup, it’s a dude!) teaches the most athletic Zumba class I’ve ever attended. There’s jumping, shaking, quick feet, and core work. But despite the variety of exercises, I am sweating the entire time. He probably plays the most “contemporary” music, with a lot less focus on the traditional Latin tunes. I know that’s not maybe the most kosher, but it helps me when I’m drenched and gasping for breath to at least be able to say the words of the songs in my head.  Also, one of his favorite songs to play?

That’s right, the hit song from the Madagascar 2 soundtrack.  Listen to it, and you’ll be able to imagine the booty shaking and thrusting that goes on in this song.  I LOVE it.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s nice to look at, but that’s neither here nor there.

Zumba Yellow

Instructor Yellow is a firecracker. She’s a ray of light every day that I get to work out with her, and she fills the group fitness room with light (that’s why I chose yellow for her.) Mixing traditional Latin music and current songs, she is never afraid to challenge us with a song that doesn’t seem like a “Zumba” song. (Country Girl, anyone?) While there is never truly a “slow” song, she tends to feel the crowd out and throws in a slightly slower paced one every now and then if we’re huffing and puffing.

The thing I like the most about her, though, is she makes the class interactive. She invites the boys to the front of the class every now and then for a particularly booty-shaking-focused jam, she calls people out when they’re really rocking, and she always knows what to say to pump us up for a song. Also, unlike Instructor Blue who has a more athletic, though slightly jerky pace, she has a nicer flow than all the other instructors I’ve worked with in the past. She doesn’t restart songs if we aren’t dancing immediately when it starts (which I think can mess with the flow of the class) and, if she messes up, she always recovers with grace and a chuckle. She just seems at ease all of the time, while simultaneously making the class feel comfortable AND kicking our asses.  It takes a powerful character to accomplish all that at once but, despite being tiny, she packs a wollop!  You can tell if you look at the heart rate chart.  Woo, nelly, no joke!

It doesn’t hurt that her outfits are bright and exciting, making her a flash of color across the stage at the gym.  She’s just the best.  And when you find a Zumba instructor you click with, you just know.

What makes a group instructor particularly great in your opinion?

A Very Craft Beer Saturday

I slept like a baby on Saturday night. If babies were allowed to drink beer all day and fed only fried food and cheeses (if that’s how your baby sustains life, we’ll just keep that on the down low.)

See, sometimes, the craft beer stars align (actually, more often than sometimes in this beer-centric Triangle) and I’m presented with not one, not two, but three impossible-to-pass-up craft beer events.  Who am I to mess with destiny?

Though I only stopped by briefly, the Lonerider Brew It Forward event was PACKED, I assume all day.  This incredible event, benefiting Nourish International, invited home brewers to submit their beers to judges from Lonerider for a chance to “brew with the big boys.”  While I only saw the third place announcements, I heard that there was a number of tasty selections and the live music drew a big crowd of beer enthusiasts and family folk, alike.

I stayed a little longer at the other events, though.  Namely, the most arrogant bar in America.

New Favorite Bumper Sticker?

After selling the most Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone Brewing Company in a designated week’s time, the Raleigh Times Bar was given the prestigious title of the Most Arrogant Bar in America.  The joint was jumping (though I couldn’t tell if this was the norm for Raleigh Times) but I think the main draw was also the main attraction.

Greg Koch, one of the co-founders of Stone and basically a rock star in the craft beer world.

Wait, let me put this better.

If all the giant, brewery-shirt wearing, proud, beardy men are teenage girls, Greg Koch is their Justin Bieber.

It was a total sausage-fest, which was not surprising considering Koch’s numerous fanboys.  I’ll admit, I was initially a little surprised, and even  thought to myself “what’s the hype? It’s good beer, but REALLY?” as the grown men went up to Koch, visibly shaking, to ask for his autograph. But real talk, let’s be honest, I think he’s got Bieber beat.

Another one of the magnificent beards of beer

I couldn’t resist getting a photo with the man (the myth, the legend) as he offered me an autographed CD or DVD or something (I haven’t had enough time to even see what it was. First class, Jordan.)  But I think he was really just playing the crowd well, as we sipped on Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Beans (decadent, smooth, and delicious, a great treat for a sweet tooth like myself), Arrogant Bastard Ale with Chipotle Peppers (whoah! spicy!!), and Dry Hopped Arrogant Bastard (which, in my opinion, was much tastier than the classic Arrogant Bastard due, primarily, to the added enjoyment from the olfactory experience of floral hoppiness).  Thanks to Daniel, one of the nicest, most generous beer buddies I know, for that Dry Hopped delight! I never would’ve known the joy were it not for him.

As they say, though, there’s no rest for the wicked. Or the Arrogant, in my case, and I soon had to head back across the Triangle. We had a Craft Beer and Cheese Pairing to get to!

Another amazing event thrown by my favorite beer broads!!

Erik Lars Myers, Head Brewer and owner of Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough, NC invited us to come and taste four of Mystery’s signature beers.  My favorite was the  Six Impossible Things (a Chocolate Breakfast Stout), though we also enjoyed  the Gentlemen’s Preference Blond Ale, Mousqueton, a Belgian-Style Tripel and Queen Anne’s Revenge, a Carolinian Dark (which I’d tried before).  He paired each beer with a different cheese, all of which were provided by Weaver Street Market.  All I could think about was how much I want to have a beer and cheese party of my own (add it to the Triangle bucket list?!)

Beer and Cheese is a glorious match!

Melissa invited a number of her buddies, who were fantastic new additions to the NCGPO crew, and I was so happy to have a new bunch of lager-loving-ladies to crack jokes and beers with!

Beautiful beer babes!

We quickly realized that girls can’t survive on beer and cheese alone (hard as we may try) and decided to end arguably my LONGEST beer day/night in some time at Hillsborough’s Wooden Nickel Pub. If these fish and chips have anything to say about it, it was a brilliant idea.

Come to mama!

This EPIC platter of fish and chips was split between three of us, and, even then, was still a hefty meal. The Wooden Nickel certainly knows how to feed folks!!

Once the music got too loud (and, after realizing I’d had something like 13 beers in the previous 24 hours (the UNC game had been on the night before, enjoyed at a bar), I asked Melissa if we could head home. She happily obliged my sleepy eyes, and I drifted off into a dreamless sleep. The kind of sleep only beers, cheese, friends, and fun can bring.

Epic day? Yes.

Do I want to repeat it any time soon? No.

Well… at least not until World Beer Festival.

Can you go-go-go all day, or do you like to save your festivities for either morning, day, or night?

I realized a little while ago that, if I’m going to be fun at night after enjoying beer events earlier in the day, I definitely need a nap.  Otherwise, I’m a sleepy Sally (you know… like a Debbie Downer, but less depressing and more tired.)

Six Pack Sunday: Suicide Cereal and a Diamond in the Rough

Oh goodness, it’s been a long week. And a wet weekend. And I just rounded it out with a tasty egg, egg white, and veggie omelet which, after fried fish, fried french fries, and fried zucchini, makes me feel a little less like a lump on a log.  And, with the Tar Heels scheduled to play only moments after I witness the cinematic perfection that I assume  The Hunger Games will be, I’ve got a date with the treadmill to help in that same venture. But let’s focus on the task at hand.  Six Pack Sunday. Yeah, buddy.

1.  The Eleventh Plague

I know that the Ten Plagues of Egypt took place a long time ago and all, but maybe Pharaoh (of Durham) has been ticking the wrong people off, lately.  We have another plague on our hands.

Hey, little guy. Get the hell outta here.

The eleventh plague, made ENTIRELY of inchworms. And their godforsaken “webs” which are really just spider-like lines that fall from the skies and get in my hair.  Gross.  I’m ready for this plague to be over, thanks.

2. Suicide Soda Cereal

I don’t know about you all but, when we were little kids, my friends and I would always play the “Suicide Soda” game at soda fountains. Who’d be the one to drink the mixture of Sprite, Iced Tea, Root Beer, and Diet Coke? Which daredevil wants to add Mello Yello to the mix?  Well, with age, comes wisdom. The wisdom to know that this idea should apply to other things.  Things like cereal.

The perfect storm of cereal.

I took the tail end of a box of Erewhon (gluten free) crisp brown rice cereal, and added some mini boxes of tastiness to the bag, shook it up, and VOILA!! Suicide Cereal.  UNLIKE the fountain soda experiment, though, this combination only got better with each addition.  Especially the Oatmeal Squares.  If you have just a LITTLE bit of a bunch of cereal left, try this out! Feels like a brand new box.

3. You Might Be My Lucky Star

Morningstar, that is.

Hot cha cha!

So I nabbed myself some Morningstar Buffalo Wings Veggie Wings which were on major sale this week, after a HORRIBLE experience at Buffalo Wild Wings (note to self: never go there if you’re not eating chicken. Not many options.)

Luckily, my craving was satisfied above and beyond with these bad boys.  There was a great little spiciness to these wings, and while I didn’t think to myself ZOMG CHICKEN! when I ate them, I did think “Huh… I could nibble these for a while.”  You’re looking at about half a box worth of “wings” on this plate and, considering these were $3.33/box on sale this week, it’s basically a better deal than the Wendy’s Value Meal (I make that comparison because, let’s be honest, I spent a LOT of time there back in my day.)  If you’re going veggie, or just looking for something new to try with that “Buffalo” flavor, I’d recommend them.

4. Love for the Uggos

Awwww, poor little guys.

These are the ugly ducklings of the sweet potato family

These White Sweet Potatoes, while hideous, are apparently sweet as candy (THOUGH apparently have less health benefits than the orange ones.) Health be damned, though, I took pity and bought one.  I’ll report back with the taste but, I have to agree with the sign… they’re not pretty.

5. Some Like It Rough

Don't worry, just the right hand.

My apologies for the hideous “manicure” leftover from a rush-job painting for St. Patrick’s Day.  HOWEVER, I wanted to share my very first diamond! It’s a “rough diamond” so it hasn’t been cut or polished or fancy BUT I found a wondrous seller on Etsy who specializes in working with these rough diamonds, making rings and earrings and the like.  For the past month or so, I’ve been totally fixated on getting myself a Right Hand Ring.  Ever since those De Beers ads, I’ve wanted to “raise my right hand” with the successful women of the world.

Whatever you say, ad!

I’m an advertiser’s dream come true.  I love it, and haven’t taken it off yet.  It’s totally unique, totally beautiful, and TOTALLY mine.

6. Menchie’s in DURHAM!!

Melissa just sent me a text message with this picture:

I'LL BE RIGHT OVER!

I hope you don’t mind but, when a Menchie’s opens less than a mile from your door, you know where you’re going for dessert.

Have a great Sunday night, folks!!! I hope it’s full of froyo and blissfully lacking any inchworms.

Or I at least hope mine is.

Philadelphia Fears

Oh, Jessica, you did it again.

BBQ Cheddar Chickpea Burgers, made in a food processor, and smashed together with love.

Just like beef! (nothing like beef)

I’ll admit, my first attempt at the patty ended up as a mushy splat, but it was still tasty.  Today’s lunch patty, however, was more successful (and cohesive). And topped with caramelized onions and BBQ sauce, along with some Vermont Cheddar (I love ordering 4 slices of cheese at the deli counter) and served with some steamed vegetables made for a delightful midday meal.

But that’s not what I really wanna write about today.  Well, I did, I just wanna write more.

I’m a type-A person, when it comes to planning.  Maybe not when it comes to cleaning, or organizing my living space, but when it comes to planning, Type-A all the way!! And, when it comes to planning something as big as the next chapter in my life, and a big move 400 miles away from my current apartment and most of my buddies, it’s a little overwhelming.  Sure, there’s the basic concerns:

  • Where will I live?
  • How will I pay for city living/grad school?
  • Will there be a washer/dryer in my apartment?
  • Will I need a car?
  • What’s it going to be like studying again?!!?
  • Am I going to be shot?

But everyone faces those.  I’m a little more afraid of the parts of moving that only come up when you’re moving “back” to somewhere that you once called home.  Sure, downtown Philly was never actually my “home”, but it’s the city closest to my heart. And it’s chock-full of people that I once thought would be my BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!

AP English, anyone?

Looking at that photo (from 12th grade, I believe?) I see folks who have gotten married, folks that are living with their partners, folks that are probably inches away from being doctors, people I kissed, sleepover buddies, one that I went to college with, and several that I expected to stay in touch with forever.  And then I moved to North Carolina, and everything changed.  I changed.

I found my niche in North Carolina, in college and then again a year after college, and got comfortable.  But I didn’t maintain the friendships that I grew up with, while most of them spent weekends and holidays together, summers and spring breaks.

Since I’ve gotten the news about grad school, I’ve been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and excitement from family and friends.  But not just my NC buddies (who I love, and will miss dearly).  These long-lost friendships have started surfacing again, and making me question why I ever lost touch with these kind, funny, caring people in the first place.

Whatever, I know the answer to that. It’s inconvenient to juggle nearby friends with far, and it’s definitely not a one sided thing. I don’t blame anyone, as I know I certainly didn’t make much of an effort, but it’s still exciting to think that I may be “coming home” to a few built-in buddies in the area.  And while we’re not planning canned food drives or pep rallies, it’s still encouraging to know that they’ll have my back, because the other scary challenge is that whole “finding new friends” thing.

  • Will the Philly craft beer community be as welcoming and amazing as the one in the Triangle?
  • Will my classmates be friendly?
  • Will these old friends really want to rekindle, or is this just the politeness of PA that I know and love? (I bet all my Southern friends are rolling their eyes right now, imagining “Northern Hospitality”.)
  • Will I even have time to have friends in the midst of studying?
  • Will I be cool enough to fit into the big, hip city?
  • Will saying “big, hip city” make me uncool and immediately dissuade folks from wanting to interact with me? (Probably.)

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions.  All I can do is hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and buckle up for the ride….  Luckily, I’ve got my main squeeze waiting in Philly for me already, so he’ll be a pro by the time I get there.

In the MEANTIME, if YOU live in Philly and want to be my friend (or know someone awesome I should meet, or a neighborhood I should check out for apartments, or a great realtor, or a fantastic spot for craft beer, or any other hidden gems like that) TELL ME!! I’ll be moving up (likely) around mid-summer/July, but will definitely be visiting before then.  And I would love any/every bit of advice you have to give!

What’s the most recent “big change” you’ve made in your life?

Were you scared?  Did anything help?

Spring: The Good, the Bad, and the (b)Ugly

Maybe it’s gorgeous weather we seem to be having (on every day except the weekend), or maybe it’s the ever-thicker layer of pollen on my car every morning, but it’s DEFINITELY springtime here in the Triangle!  Who knows, maybe soon I’ll be bringing back No-Pants Wednesday soon! But, in the meantime, I figured I’d mention a few of my favorite (and not so favorite) parts of spring.

Grilling weather, baby!

The Good: Ahhhh grilling season. Though my apartment complex doesn’t allow grills on our property, they have a few by the pool. And let’s face it: food on the grill tastes MUCH better than anything coming from my George Foreman.

STFU

The Bad: Hey, morning glory…. Shut up. I’m trying to sleep. Or cook. Or watch TV. Or read. And there you are, outside my window, yammering away like you’ve got something important to say. Unless you’re giving me tips on filling out a March Madness bracket, I don’t care.

So fresh and so green

The Good: Salad time! Salads, I think, are just meant for warm weather. And, come spring time, I just wanna throw away my “comfort foods” and chow down on piles of fresh veggies, black beans, salsa, and greens!  MMmmm.

DIE, DEVIL SPAWN!

The Bad: Just like their birdy friends, the bugs decide it’s time to play. I saw this little monster-sized spider outside of my office this morning.  My hand’s there for perspective, but I didn’t wanna get too close to it.  Attacks and all.

Color me excited!

The GREAT: Colorful outfits!! I know that some people rock out their colors all year-round, but I tend to don the darks during the winter months.  NO MORE!! Bring it on, sundresses. I’m ready for you.

My old nemesis

The Bad: Then again, with the sundresses inevitably comes the massive amounts of shaving that need to be dealt with on a more regular basis.  When the gams come out, so do the razors.
A small price to pay, right?

Sweet treat

THE BEST! Free Rita’s Italian Water Ice. Because if you grew up in Delaware or the Philly area (or both!) you know that the first day of spring means ONE THING: A Free Regular Water Ice from Rita’s! Luckily, few folks in NC know about this delight yet, so I didn’t have to battle high school gangs for my cup of tasty.

And if you call it Italian ice in front of me, try not to be too offended by my exaggerated eye roll.

Happy Spring, everyone!!

What’s your favorite “spring thing”?

Six Pack Sundays: Green Beer and Grad School

Ah, the morning after St. Patrick’s Day. The birds are chirping (which I can’t stand), the green food coloring is starting to fade off my hands, and the desire to make something productive out of my day is doing battle with the wish to never leave this couch.  It’s been a busy week with a quick trip home to Pennsylvania and little to no time to blog.  But now, on a foggy Sunday, there’s no better time to whip up a Six Pack Sunday post!

1. BYOB(lue)

Blarney Beer

Fun tip I learned last year. If you wanna drink green beer on St. Patty’s Day, but don’t wanna chug the swill that most bars are shelling out with green in them, bring your own blue food coloring. A drop or two in a golden ale or lager, and VOILA you’ve got a beautiful green brew without having to force down warmish Natty Light that’s neon green.  A tasty Harp Lager in Raleigh’s Moore Square was just what I needed on the sunniest St. Patty’s Day in recent history!

2. Might as well fact it, you’re addicted to Judd

Nice guns, Ashley

Is anyone else watching Missing? I have only just started, but I already know I’m a fan. With my luck, this probably means the show will be canceled in less than a season, but fingers crossed other folks get in on this trend.  I sense it’s a similar idea as the film, Taken, which is pretty much my favorite action film of all time.  And it has ASHLEY FRIGGIN JUDD as the lead!  Ever since watching Double Jeopardy with my mom as a little one, she’s been a favorite leading lady, but I haven’t seen her in anything too exciting since High Crimes.  I think this type of role (ex-CIA, serious badass mother trying to find her son who was lost or taken in Rome!) is meant for her.  Knock on wood that my notorious bad luck with new shows won’t rub off on this one.

3. Help a Sister Out?

Contest is over BUT thanks to y’all who voted!

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re on Facebook sometimes, too.  If you could take a quick second to “like” this picture of tasty beer ingredients from my visit to Big Boss with NC Girls’ Pint Out, I could win VIP tix to World Beer Festival! I know there’s not really much in it for you BUT I’d really appreciate it.

Here’s a hilarious picture/caption of Tyler Zeller, instead!

What a catch.

4. Brunch and Beers!

Better than Christmas?

This is most of the tastiness that we had for our St. Patrick’s Day morning party at my friend, Andrew’s house. Since I’m still going strong on the Pescatarian Lent, I brought a French toast casserole to deal with not enjoying the tasty Chick-fil-A biscuits.  I also whipped up some pistachio cupcakes inspired by the most delicious one I enjoyed from Glen Mills’ new Whole Foods!

I wish all brunches came with Guinness.

5. Seafood at a Steakhouse

I promised myself that I’d never be “that person” that goes to a steakhouse and doesn’t order the steak.  But when your mom mentions that all she wants for her special birthday dinner is Alaskan King Crab, you make it happen, no matter where you’ve gotta go.

Luckily, we found them at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Wilmington, DE.  Mom got her Alaskan King Crab and I was in for a treat of my own.

Seafood Heaven

My dinner was total perfection.

Pan-seared mahi mahi over sauteed spinach with “crab-stuffed shrimp” (which basically translated to butterflied shrimp surrounded by tender crab meat.  I couldn’t even finish it (though I only left one crab-stuffed shrimp) but it definitely gave me faith in steakhouse seafood.  I’m a believer.

6. Celebratory Sushi

Get inside of me.

After an early flight on Thursday morning, following a fantastic (albeit brief) visit home, the last thing I wanted was to go home and cook for lunch.  But it was my coworkers last day in the office, and I also had to celebrate a little bit.  We got sushi at Shiki in Durham and it was fantastic! Scallops, tuna, avocado, I totally splurged and got some special rolls I’d never tried before.

What was I celebrating?

I got into grad school!!

I applied to four programs and, though I’m still waiting to hear back from three, I was accepted into one of my top choices!! I’ll definitely be moving back to Pennsylvania sometime this summer because next year, though I don’t know where yet, I’ll be a student again!!

I can’t wait for this next step in my life, and to move back to the North. There’s a lot left to do in NC before I go (Triangle Bucket List, anyone?) but it’s a great feeling, like a weight off my shoulders, knowing there’s at least one program that wants me as much as I want them!!

I may actually go and celebrate a little more with a trip to the mall/bookstore.

Again, I’d deeply appreciate any “likes” on my Facebook photo!

Did you make any tasty green treats for the holiday?

What’s something you’re celebrating?

D

Glen Mills, Meet Whole Foods!

You know when you live in a small town and when new things come to town (3D films! PF Changs! New iPads!) everyone loses their shit and invades and it’s a mob scene?

Well, I experienced it firsthand yesterday, in Glen Mills, PA (my hometown!)  And it was EXCELLENT!

Even the SOAP was welcoming!

As of Wednesday, March 14 at 10 a.m., the doors of Whole Foods opened to the residents of Glen Mills, and the residents responded accordingly.  That is “en masse”. I decided to dress to impress for the special occasion.

Oh, you fancy, huh?

Well… actually, I was dressed for an all-day interview but, once that was over, I rushed home to invade Whole Foods.  And, while the aisles are lined with amazing and tasty foods, and the fresh pasta station is BALLER, let’s be honest. I only had eyes for one spot:

Brrrr....

I like my beer-rooms like I like my closets: temperature regulated and walk-in.

In case you don’t know Pennsylvania alcohol laws (What?! You don’t?!) most “beer stores” sell beers by the case. And you can buy some six-packs at bars, or “licensed retailers”. But basically, finding beers for sale in numbers less than 24 isn’t always easy.

Enter: Whole Foods.

I believe they’ve gotten around the laws by having the “Brew and Brau” pub inside of the market.  This little pub could be my new hangout (at least until 9pm, when it closes for the night). Serving up local coffee, beer, wine, and selling pub food to nibble, this little niche in the store is the JAM! Just imagine, doing half your shopping, then needing a beer. I wonder if you could park your cart for a pint-break.

Samples and Pimento cheese?! who could say no?

I spoke for a little to Rick from Yards Brewing Company and Jack from Prism Brewing Company about how excited I am to have a spot near my family home to buy and drink good, local beer (while trying samples of their tasty brews).  In fact, I’ll admit, being as spoiled as I am in North Carolina, living near dozens of local breweries and being able to drink exclusively local drinks (though I don’t), I wasn’t expecting there to be as active of a brewing scene as I learned there is in Pennsylvania!!  I can’t wait to try more beers nearby.

I took my mom out for her birthday, and decided we needed to try it out. I enjoyed a Ginger Mango IPA from Boxcar Brewing Company and nabbed mommy some blush vino.

Note the tasty nibbling bar snacks in the background.

The whole scene was very surreal. Seeing shoppers outside, enjoying drinks inside, having the opportunity to grab a six-pack if we wanted (we couldn’t, I was headed out in the morning). But the beer was tasty (and fresh), the wine was apparently delicious, and the company (my mommy) was the best.

For dessert, I figured I should enjoy something from WF, to celebrate the opening (excuses, excuses).

While I was DEEPLY tempted by their beautiful, pristine white coconut cake, I went a different route, inspired by my recent enjoyment of LocoPops pistachio ice cream.

Pistachio Vanilla Cupcake, don't mind if I do.

I think I want pistachios in all of my desserts from now on, forever.

To sum it up: Glen Mills welcomed Whole Foods with open arms. And open tummies. And open livers.  And I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

NC Whole Foods: Take note. GET A BAR INSIDE OF YOU, STAT!

At least I can still buy beer in gas stations…

What’s your favorite local/secret spot that you’d never think to get a drink?

I’ll be spreading this (not-so) secret all over the place.

Six Pack Sunday: Doodles and Dooty

Ok, I’m sorry, I kind of hate myself for the title of this post.  But, more importantly, I think it’s hilarious, especially when the word “dooty” is used in any type of writing, so hopefully you’ll bear with me and stick it out to enjoy the REST of this week’s Six Pack Sunday!

1. Ask and You Shall Receive

Oh goodness, I can’t thank the Twitter world enough!! On Friday, I was a little bit at a loss. I knew that I wanted to bring treats to my little sister’s volleyball tournament this weekend but a) I’m not a baker and b) I was low on time.  After rocking out an awesome Zumba class with Sierra, the queen of Triangle blogger workouts (check out the link for an adorable picture of our height difference), it was already 7:30 and I had to make dinner AND whip up some good stuff. I asked the internet, and y’all DELIVERED!

I'll snicker YOUR doodle!

Kelli suggested the Snickerdoodle Blondies from My Baking Addiction, which were UNBELIEVABLE! They were so delicious, I had no idea what to do with myself other than wrap them up to bring the goodies to the girls before I ate them all myself.  The other hit (which admittedly looked like poop, so I didn’t photograph them) was courtesy of Kaitlin’s recipe for No Bake Cookies. Peanut butter, chocolate, oats? Impossible to go wrong, especially when cooking for teenage girls!

The only change I made with BOTH recipes was replacing the vanilla extract with almond extract. That’s my personal touch to MOST recipes, primarily because I like the taste and, if I don’t wanna eat my own creations, who would?

Every single crumb was eaten (I definitely helped with that) and the girls and parents alike were enamored with my creations!  THANK YOU to everyone that suggested recipes, I was so stoked with the results!

2. Not Now, Wool E.!

That's BULL!

Wool E. Bull, the Durham minor league baseball team’s mascot, made a visit to the Raleigh Convention Center to watch some volleyball.  Don’t let the smiling girls fool you, they were SO annoyed as he was trying to give high fives in the middle of the GAME! There’s a time and place for everything (and every bull). This was neither the time, NOR the place.  Sorry, Mr. Bull.

3. Dress to Impress

Always fierce, always winning spring fling queen

One of the terms used most frequently to find my blog is “What to wear to pure barre” which all stems from my Pure Barre Breakdown post Here’s my advice: wear something cute, but make sure it’s comfortable! At the studio I go to (occasionally, not regularly, as I’m not loaded enough to afford the classes in addition to my gym membership), there are mirrors all over. So I definitely do my best to try and look put together. In my opinion, when you look good, you feel good, or at least you don’t think about it. I was rocking my new Lululemon shirt (which I got on sale when I picked up my FAVORITE LEGGINGS EVER that actually gave me the courage to post my first tummy picture on the blog) and one of my favorite pairs of leggings from Nike. I hate to say that clothes make the (wo)man, but it was definitely my favorite Pure Barre class ever.  I’m not saying it was JUST because of the outfit… but it didn’t hurt.

4. Heavy Dooty 

Maybe I’m watching too much TV lately, or maybe just too many kids’ channels (I love cartoons), but I’ve been seeing THIS commercial on a lot, lately.

At first I didn’t pay any attention to this commercial, but then I paid some.  And I was like “Wait. WHAT?”

Are these kids pooping in their diapers, and then being judged on it?

What?

Poop, there it is, indeed.

5. Meat Free Meal at The Pit

The one bummer of the weekend was a trip to The (legendary) Pit in Raleigh…. Not because it wasn’t tasty (it was TOO TASTY) but because, as per my Lenten sacrifice, I’m not eating any of their specialties right now. No NC BBQ, no pulled pork, no beef brisket, no pimento BLTs…  But I made it work.

This appetizer could be breakfast, dessert, and dinner for the rest of my life.

Up first? Pumpkin skillet cornbread served with maple butter.  I split this with my dad and sister, but could’ve easily devoured the entire skillet (even if the skillet was full sized).  Warm and crumbly, every bite was balanced with the right amount of spice and savory cornbread flavor.  The maple butter was (literally) the icing on the cake. Divine.

Fried EVERYTHING!

Since I wasn’t eating meat, as I enviously eyed my sister’s pulled pork, I ordered myself a fried catfish platter.  Healthy? No. Delicious: A-YUP!

Fried catfish with remoulade sauce (which was described as spicy, but wasn’t actually very spicy at all) and sides of hush puppies, a biscuit, sweet potato fries, AND fried okra.

Fried food OVERLOAD!  I saved half of the catfish and the biscuit for later, but pretty much demolished the rest of the plate. The sweet potato fries were crispy and even better dipped in some ketchup and/or remoulade. The fried okra, a rare indulgence, wasn’t slimy at all, and the seasoning was light but still salty and savory.  I didn’t even need dinner that night (except for the blondies).

6. Cocoa Mole: The Horchata of Beer

Worst beer shot ever? Sorry. Focusing on the drinking.

I had the pleasure… Nay, the JOY of trying New Belgium’s Cocoa Mole spiced ale on Thursday.  My Untappd description? “Amazing. This is so delicious I don’t know how to deal with life.”

This beer was spiced, it was rich, and it was delicious.  Described by the brewery:

Say Hola to a spiced up ale full of cocoa and ancho, guajillo, chipotle peppers. But don’t fear the heat, because plenty of caramel and chocolate malts bring a smooth, complex flavor to our Cocoa Molé. Scents of cinnamon when poured will have you saying, “¡Olé for molé!”

I felt like if Horchata (cinnamon rice milk) had a beer cousin, Cocoa Mole would be him.  I want to bathe in this beer (or maybe just keep drinking it.  Bathing in it could get gross, fast.)  Cinnamon, chiles, good carbonation, and not so heavy that you felt like you could chew it, this is the kind of dark, complex beer that I love to find.  It had that mouthfeel that made you want to keep drinking it, and I couldn’t stop smelling my glass.  Served at Rockfish out of a gorgeous New Belgium goblet, I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable Thursday night beer choice as we planned our St. Patrick’s Day agenda.

The past week was fantastic, and the upcoming one is going to be incredibly busy, exciting, and intense. Mid-week trip back to PHL, St. Patrick’s day on Saturday (YES! WEEKEND GROWNUP HOLIDAY!) I’m tired just thinking about it… But I’m definitely NOT complaining.

Anything exciting for your upcoming week?

What’s the craziest fried food you’ve ever had? Or at least the tastiest?

Fried mac & cheese is pretty divine…

“Hi, Neighbor! Have a ‘Gansett!” Narragansett Pint Night at the Flying Saucer

Ah, NC Girls’ Pint Out… even when you throw together an event last minute, you are always fun!

Last night, I ventured over to Raleigh’s Flying Saucer with a few of my favorite princesses of pilsner for an impromptu GPO get-together featuring the special of the night, the Narrangassett Lager, and their GORGEOUS 20 oz glass that went along with it!

Brews for ALL!

It was a packed house at the Flying Saucer and, for my first time visiting the establishment, this place ROCKS! They have a fantastic club called the UFO club where, for $18, you can join, get a sweet shirt, and a magnetic card to track all the unique beers you drink. After 200 unique beers, you get a saucer on the wall with your name for all the world to see!  If I lived a little closer to this joint, I’d be there ALL the time.  Luckily for my wallet (and my liver), it was a bit of a hike… But I still love it.

ANYWAY, Melissa and I grabbed ourselves some veggie-friendly (and tastebud friendly) nachos, which were fantastic, as well as a beer for each of us.

Fun fact: Narragansett was the official beer of the Red Sox for 32 years! Melissa clearly knew this, and dressed accordingly:

And adorably

The beer was what all of us at the GPO table called “A Beery Beer”. Refreshing, tasty, and crisp, we struggled to find words other than “Lager-y” and “beer-like”.  I know, I know, all those beer education classes for naught, right?

I volunteered to help Jim, who came all the way from Providence to pub the beer, out by running around and taking pictures, as well as handing out some raffle tickets for swaggggg.

The Holy Grail for swag-grubbers all over!

I schmoozed with strangers, even pestering a few for pictures with Jim… Luckily, they obliged my blogging tendencies.

Jim and a few of his buddies

I also got to try some of the fancy (and seasonal) Narragansett Bock (that fancy green can pictured above) that was definitely more my style.  From the brewer:

Gansett Bock is a deeply flavorful beer with a rich golden color and a full body.  It is drier, hoppier, and slightly more bitter than a traditional bock, but still with a relatively low hop flavor.  It offers an extremely approachable craft experience not to be confused with the double and triple bocks out on the market.  The beer pours well, producing a large creamy, persistent white head, and moderate carbonation.  Despite its full body, the flavor is not overly malty and delivers an elegant spicy character from the hops that produces a balanced, smooth finish.

From the ME:  I liked this beer a LOT more than the lager. Though I received it in a can, I promptly poured into my new Narragansett glass for consumption. A little sweeter, a little fuller in the mouth, and with a drinkability that I don’t always get from the aforementioned double and triple bocks “out on the market”, this beer was a slightly more complex tasting brew without being too intimidating for the average beer drinker (you know, the one that might not be interested in a Habanero Pale Ale or something crazy like that…)

ANYWAY, as with all the nights with NCGPO, my favorite part was socializing and, after collecting all the signups for swag, it was time to kick back and relax with my ladies.

Ladies of Lager, repping it so hard.

And a few of us even managed to walk away from the event with some new swag of our own….

You better believe I’ll be rocking my new, kelly green ‘Gansett shirt come March 17th.  No pinches for this girl.

What’s the “weirdest” or most “out there” beer flavor you’ve ever tried?

I make it a point to try any and every wonky brew I can find.  I definitely did try the habanero pale ale (not my favorite) and the “bacon beer” of Fullsteam’s Hogwash still stands out as a pretty intense flavor-profile.