Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Operation Casino Royale

Andy's birthday surprise trip was a success. He was surprised and we had a great time - Andy even won some moolah. I thought I'd take a moment to review the breweries and beers sampled on the way down and way back up. We only made it to 2 different places, but that's 2 more we can check off the list.

Brewery #1 - The Livery - Benton Harbor, Michigan


We had a great time at the Livery and our whole experience exemplified why I LOVE small/hole-in-the-wallesque breweries. We arrived around 1:30 pm and it was just us, a family finished lunch, the bartender/owner and a guy from Houston. Here's why I loved The Livery and why I love hole-in-the-wallesque breweries:

#1 - The bartender always has a good story - In this case, the bartender entertained us and Houston (I don't know his name, so I'm calling him Houston) with the story of how the bar came to be. Synopsis - They bought the space but didn't know what to do with it. They wanted to do something with live music because the market was lacking in the area. Then there was a giant wind storm and they came to survey the damage with some beer in tow. Whilst drinking the beer and surveying the damage the light bulb went off - live music + microbrewery = non-existent in Southwest Michigan. And so The Livery was born.

#2 - The people - We were there early, so there were only a few of us. But Houston had a pretty awesome story. He had a trip planned to Detroit to visit his buddy. His buddy bailed on him at the last minute, but he didn't want to cancel his flight, time off work, etc. so he came to Michigan anyways to embark on a brewery tour. Way to make lemonade out of lemons, Houston. The Livery was stop number 3 on his brewery trip from Detroit to Chicago.

#3 - The beer - No brainer there. This stuff was GREAT. My favorite was actually the Dunkle Weizen - a dark wheat ale. I love wheat beers, and I don't get to try dark wheats very often. This was a treat.

Brewery #2 - Old Hat Brewery - Lawton, Michigan

We arrived early on Sunday, just in time to see the Lions gain a large lead and then lose it in a matter of minutes. Good job, Lions. But, I digress. I'd have to say this brewery was a disappointment. The beer just wasn't that good. The brewery itself seemed rich in history and I liked the atmosphere of the place. It sounded like a nice family run little joint - mom was in the kitchen, daughter was our bartender and dad was owner and in and out throughout the visit. We didn't have a bad experience by any means, but I just left the place less than impressed.

I'd have to look at the list, but I that these were breweries #14 and #15 visited in the state. Only about 40 left to go.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

London Calling

Photo courtesy of E01 on Flickr

Oh bloody 'ell. That daft crumpet is blogging again.

I have no idea why I love the British so much. Perhaps it's the accents. Perhaps it's from the summer I lived/worked in London. Perhaps it's because their sayings are the best and there's no need to wonder why they're so entertaining - they just are.

My husband won't let me speak with a fake British accent. Maybe because I do it at the loudest/shrekiest level possible and he in turn tells me I sound ugly.

I worked with first graders and fourth graders while I was in London. There were a few times when I had NO idea what the kids were trying to tell me. For example:

I was in the first grade classroom when one of my sweet little 6 year olds came up to me with a sad face and her hand outstretched.

Me: What do you need, Tilly? (I'm not making that up - could her name BE any more British?)

Tilly (in her cute little accent): I've hurt my finger.

Me: Awww, let me see. (I examine the barely visible owwie on her finger)

Teacher: Can you get her a plaster? I'm out but there's some in the lounge.

Me: A what?

Teacher: A plaster.

Me: A what?

Teacher: Oh, you call them something different, don't you? Um, do you know, it's like a sticker that you'd put on a cut?

Me: Oh, a band-aid.

Teacher: YES! A "band-aid" (said in American accent). Could you run and get some?

Then there was the time the fourth graders were going to be playing tennis in gym.

David: We get to learn tennis today. Do you know how to play?

Me: Yes, actually, I played a lot back home.

David: Are you heavy?

Me: Am I what?

David: Are you heavy?

Me: What?

David: (completely exasperated in me): Ughhhh, are you any good?

I was straight rubbish when it came to understanding those blokes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Stuff #3 - Cheeks

Get your mind out of the gutter. Not those cheeks, I'm talking about the cheeks on your face.

Cheeks make my happy. I know, kind of weird, but bare with me here. Think about it - baby cheeks, cheeks with dimples, chubby cheeks - you just gotta love 'em. I actually have to hold myself back when I meet a new baby because I don't want to accidentally go overboard and squeeze their cheeks too hard. Now, who better to use as an example of awesome cheeks than my husband. Are you ready to see his baby cheeks as an actual baby? No, I don't think you're ready, but here you go anyways:


Since you're reading this, I like you, so I'll spoil you with another:


Ok, just one more:


Now look at those big round cheeks and tell me they don't make you smile.

Now, someday far away when we decide to have our own babies, I'm going to pray, hope and wish on every star I see that our kids inherit those cheeks.

Pork Chops w/Raspberry Sauce and Baked Sweet Potato fries


I know you love my awesome jokes. Here's a new one. You're welcome.

Q. What do you call a pig that knows karate?

A. A pork chop

Which brings me to:

Pork Chops with Raspberry Sauce

These were FANTASTIC. I followed the recipe exactly but didn't have the fresh thyme, which was optional anyways. The pork was still a little pink, so next time I will probably cook about 6 minutes each side instead of 4-5. The raspberry sauce was so good with it - just the right amount of tart and sweet.

I baked some Sweet Potato Fries to go with it. No recipe really, I sliced up 3 sweet potatoes into thick sticks. I threw into a bowl and added about 1 or 1 1/2 Tbsp's of olive oil, a little pepper and maybe 1/2 Tbsp. of Cajun seasoning. I put them in the oven preheated to 400 degrees on a greased cookie sheet. They were done about 40 or 45 minutes later. Simple and delicious.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh son, you just got Rick Rolled.

I got a new wrinkle in my brain this weekend. I didn't learn anything that will help me in my career, save the planet or anything else that would be deemed even somewhat purposeful. Nope, instead I learned what Rick Rolling is.

Say you go to search for something on You Tube, like for instance, the funniest Family Guy clips. You click on the video, but instead of seeing Family Guy clips - SURPRISE! - you hear or watch the video for Rick Astley's awesome 80's song Never Gonna Give You Up.

First, an example of getting Rick Rolled. Don't spend too much time with this clip, the next clip is the real winner.

Now, I present you with the actual video for the song. I can't embed the video, so you're going to have to bare with me and click the link:

Rick Astley, God's gift to women

Let me provide a brief synopsis of the video. Rick sings outside by a fence and showcases his awesome dancing arms. Random blonde girl spins around. Rick sings in a secret underground cave. Rick sings inside a restuarant. Bartender thinks Rick sounds pretty groovy. Bartender can't resist the urge to dance his pants off. Random blonde guy shows off his Napoleon Dynamite-esque dance moves. Fade to black.

I'm sure the director, producer, and idea man behind this video went on to great things. With a plot line like that, you really can't go wrong.

Just so you know, my favorite part of the video happens at 2:08 when Bartender changes into hotpants and jumps off a fence. It's pretty intense.

I miss the 80's.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic


Q. Why did the mushroom go to the party?

A. Because he was a fungi!

Q. Why did he leave?

A. Because there wasn't mushroom.

Ok, after you've picked yourself up off the floor from laughing at my hilarious jokes, let me tell you about my love for mushrooms. My favorite pizza growing up was ham and mushroom. My birthday meal of choice was always steak with sauteed mushrooms. However, I don't cook with them much, and was looking to change that with this little recipe.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I left out the flour. However, in the end I wished the sauce would have been a little thicker. So I probably shouldn't have left that out. You live, you learn.

While this was quite tasty, I have to compare it to one of my favorite recipes: Braised Balsamic Chicken I made this over a year ago and it turned out delicious. Now that I remember how much I love it, I'll be working it into a meal plan in the coming weeks.

Sausage Pasta


I'm way behind on recording my recipes here, so I'll just start adding a few. We made this tasty meal last week. This is the recipe we followed:

Sausage Pasta

I LOVED it. The hot, spicy turkey sausage is a must - otherwise I don't think it would have had enough flavor in it. We also used whole wheat pasta to make it as healthy/nutritious as possible. Although the healthy may have gone out the window when I applied a few hearty helpings of parmesan cheese.

I also compared this to a meal we made a few weeks ago following this recipe. It doesn't look like there is much difference in the two recipes, but the allrecipes one was a lot better - the onion, garlic and chicken broth gave it some much needed flavor flav.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Big Brother is watching . . .

. . . puppies.

Could anyone else watch puppies all day long?



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Simply the Best

Andy called. Apparently he won tickets from work to take a party bus to see Tina Turner in concert at The Palace later this month. Immediately this scene from The Office UK began playing in my head.

On that note, if you haven't already watched The Office original UK version go rent it tonight. Or just call me, I'll loan it to you. Don't get me wrong, the US version is excellent, but the UK version is pure genius.

Halloween in Pictures

It's been a busy couple of days. With Halloween festivities and the election and general chores the Davies household schedule has been packed. I thought I'd update the blog on the festivities of Halloween 2008. I'm going to do this through pictures, because I'm tired, lazy and everyone remembers as a kid picture books are way better than books covered in words.

As you peruse these photos, think about these things: Guess which pumpkin Andy carved? Yes, that is a REAL mustache. Don't worry, they're just cookies. Reverse cowgirl. It's Goose, not Maverick. Don't worry, he's just refilling his costume.

And I'd like you to know that I tried to convince Andy to switch costumes with me, because, come on, it would have been way funnier.