Kitchen Disaster — a Confessional

Tonight the Mr is “Mr. Kitchen Disaster” … “Taco the Terrible” … “Slaughterer of Poor Tortilla Chips” …

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. I was supposed to make second portions of a lovely, healthy dinner that The Mrs had made already, two nights in a row. She had helpfully left the recipe out on the counter, for a baked beef taquitos — one of those where everything that one usually would eat is substituted with something more healthy.

And so I thought, as I was assigned to go get more (lean) ground beef during the day, that I could surprise her when she came home from her after-work exercise class with: a hot meal, a cold beer, and the realization that she was done. A helpful surprise, if you will.

So, I started a half-hour early, pored over the recipe, and decided that — yes, I can do this! Continue reading

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So, my birthday was a couple weeks ago.  And yes, that number in the title corresponds to the number of birthdays I’ve had.  And, no, I’m none to pleased about the proximity of the number that the aforementioned number rounds up too.  But, I guess it’s better than the alternative, right?

I honor of this grand occasion, I’ve decided to take a cue from Xanthe. She’s a photographer in the UK.  I discovered her blog and photography through the Shutter Sisters blog.  On the 38th anniversary of her birth, Xanthe posted a list of things she like to do or accomplish in her 38th year – a.k.a her Birthday List.

That got me to thinking.  Maybe it’s just the beginnings of the midlife crisis I will inevitably have in 4 yrs, but there are things I want to do in life and I don’t want to put them off any longer.  So, without further adieu, in no particular order, here is My Birthday List.

My 36 Things:

  1. Learn to take really beautiful photographs.
  2. Actually complete a 365 Project…the daily photography practice should help achieve #1.
  3. Exercise regularly enough that it becomes part of my regular routine (like eating, going to work, brushing my teeth), not just be a project that I work on intently for a couple months and lose interest.
  4. Have more dinner parties.
  5. Enjoy my weekends, not just spend every Saturday simply running errands and cleaning my house.
  6. Hire a housekeeper. (Should help achieve #5).
  7. Plan a trip to the Oregon Wine Country/Willamette Valley.
  8. Make a budget and stick to it so as to boost general savings AND savings to pay for said Oregon trip.
  9. Call my grandmothers more often.
  10. Have intentional monthly dates with The Mr. …not just eating out because we didn’t have time or were too tired to cook at home.
  11. Explore Charlotte more.
  12. Explore NC more…I really wanna go to the Outer Banks.  We’ve been North Carolinians for 7 yrs. It’s time.
  13. Finish buying furniture for and decorating our bedroom.
  14. Decorate, organize, and actually use my guest room/office space for something other than storing things that have no designated home.
  15. Actually complete the Couch to 5K app I downloaded to my iPhone a couple years ago.  (I never seem to get past week 3…see #3).
  16. Make plans to stay at Blackberry Farm for some special occasion…or at least drop enough hints that The Mr.  surprises me and whisks me away to there.
  17. Learn to maximize the potential of my photo editing software.
  18. Participate in more local cooking classes, wine, and beer tastings.
  19. Make a habit of going to bed on time and at the same time every day.
  20. Make getting as much local food as I can from the famer’s market that is literally 1 mi from my house a priority.
  21. Stick with and grow this blog.
  22. Use my car less and my bike more.  (Should also help achieve #3)
  23. Live daily in the freedom of Grace, showing others the Grace that I’ve been shown.
  24. Have the guts to do something like this.
  25. Be intentional about cultivating my friendships.
  26. Go TO the movies more.  It’s so much more fun than watching Netflix on my couch.
  27. Get a primary care physician.  I have a couple specialists, but (ugh, as I get older) I need someone helping me look at the whole picture.
  28. Take more weekend trips.
  29. Sing more.
  30. Get a new haircut.  (I’ve had the same one for 5 yrs now.  It’s really cute…but I need something new).
  31. Memorize more Scripture.
  32. Make daily quiet time a priority and let that quiet time take many forms.
  33. Start going to the opera again.
  34. Start flossing daily.  (I got through spurts where I’m really good about it, then I won’t do it for weeks months on end.  Just keeping it real…)
  35. Eat at my dining room table daily, not just when we have people over.
  36. Stop being bothered by having just turned 36.

A lot of these things aren’t major world or life changing things.  Most of them aren’t sexy.  Many aren’t deep.  Some are.  On some level, most are unmet goals that show a pattern of non-completion in my life.  I want to be someone who finishes what I start, someone who sees things through to the end.   What do you say?  Wanna help keep me accountable?

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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A Month of Color

So, we bought our D90 just over two years ago.  We didn’t take it off “Auto” settings until I took an Intro to Photography class about 6 months later.  I took my second Intro to Photography class a year after that.  We just invested in our second lens a couple weeks ago. (By that I mean that The Mr. bought me a new lens for my birthday).  In this slow progression, I do feel my photography has improved, but it’s no where NEAR where I would like it to be.

If you ask any photographer he/she will tell you that the only way to get better at it is to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more.  Shoot CONSTANTLY.  So that’s what I’ve got to do if I truly want to build and learn to flex my photography muscle.  I’ve got to shoot daily.  I’ve pledged to complete a 365 project before, but unfortunately failed to see it through.  This time, though, I mean business.  As it’s early June, halfway through the year, it seems like as good a time as any to start project like this.  Sort of a Half-Year Resolution, if you will.  New Year’s Resolutions are SO CLICHE anyway.  😉

I’m a big fan of the Shutter Sisters.  Each month always have a monthly “Picture _____ ” project going.  The blank is usually filled with a word that allows for creative expression and interpretation in shooting.  You know “Picture Hope” or “Picture Summer” or “Picture Discovery.”  Well this month, thanks to Xanthe’s inspiration, the assignment is to shoot color.  Starting today each weekday has been assigned a different color.  Those who wish to participate are challenged to seek it out and shoot it.  Here’s the schedule.

Looks fun, doesn’t it?  Anyone want to join me?

I was first introduced to this concept by Nichole from Little Brown Pen.  She mastered it while shooting all over Paris and now has a book to show for it.  While I’m certainly not expecting a book deal from this project, I’m definitely going to use this opportunity to kick off my own little Project 365 – for real this time and see what I can do.  Check back and I’ll show you the finished color project at the end of the month!

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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Hoppy Camper

Last Sunday, we found ourselves driving back from visiting our newest niece (for all our other nieces who read about beer — we love you all the same!). After a long car ride, the Mrs can get a hankering for a particular food. And from then, it’s on.

As we pulled into town, she wanted her favorite burger — a special from Big Daddy’s Burger Bar (We refuse to call it Bad Daddy’s, just because they changed their name to avoid a conflict. How rebellious are we?)

The Mrs makes her own modified “Western Burger”, with buffalo meat, applewood smoked bacon, crispy onion straws, cheddar, and BBQ sauce. Mine is similar, but with no onion straws. She opts for sweet potato fries; I’ve got to have my tots.

We carry out more often than dining in, especially when our pups have missed us. So, we also ran by local favorite, Common Market, to pick up some brew.

I chose Old Hickory Death by Hops, and the Mrs reached for Tiny. As you might suspect from an name like Death by Hops, this gem from Old Hickory is an Double IPA or Imperial IPA.

DBH pours with big bubbles in the head but the head is about 1/4″ with a little lacing. I may have been a little too fast with my pour — I was excited about this one!

The color is a light amber and the smell! Smells like grapefruit and citrus … smells “hoppy” but not “piney”. (Clearly someone needs to do further hops research! I should be commenting on Cascade hops and dry-hopping)

On the first sip, I got a big bite on the front of my tongue, rounding around to bite the sides of the tongue as well. This beer is a biter, be careful! Yummy, yum, yum!

The Mrs. went for the Tiny, and I must confess that if I had to pick “last beer ever”, it might be that.

I’m back home with my pups, a great beer paired with a favorite burger, and I’m a Hoppy Camper!
The Mr. Signature

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Memorial Day weekend – the official start of summer.  I’m sure, per American tradition, that the rest of you munched on burgers and other outdoor grilled fare this weekend.  Not me.  I nibbled on something a little more delicate…

They belong to our new niece, Abigail.  I assure you, they were delicious…

Cheers y’all,

The Mrs. Signature

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Birthday Celebration

My birthday was last week.  I don’t know how you guys like to be awakened on your birthday but, personally, I enjoy being awakened with breakfast and presents in bed.  The menu – scones, raspberries, and itsy bitsy peanut butter cups.  (The Mr. knows that peanut butter and chocolate were my first love.)

He may have enlisted the help of Trader Joe’s for the “cooking,” but the presentation was all him.  I may have eaten a good bit of it before taking some pics…

After a sufficient amount of breakfast was consumed, there were presents.  I didn’t get any wrapped shots but, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything.  The Mr. prides himself on his bad wrapping jobs.  In fact, it’s a gift giving signature for him.  This year, they were wrapped in mismatched sale papers that you get in the mail.  The ends weren’t taped down despite the yardage of tape engulfing them but, hey, at least it was eco-friendly. 🙂

The wrapping isn’t the important part anyway.   What’s important is on the inside and, this, he did well with.  Being the techie guy he is, all of my presents were some sort of gadgetry, but all gadgetry that I needed and wanted.

In case you can’t make that all out, the goodie pile includes: 1) an external hard drive – pink, of course, because it’s a girl’s hard drive, 2) LED lights for my bike, both rear and front, so that I am well seen in not so great lighting, and 3) the piece de resistance – a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens for my camera!! Yeah for low f-stops!!  (I could previously only get down to a 3.5).

The only bad thing about my birthday was that I had to go to work.  This was the first birthday in probably 7-8 yrs that I haven’t taken it off. (Never again.)  Good news is that my last evaluation cancelled, allowing me to knock off just a little early…allowing for pre-birthday-dinner beers at World of Beer.  The Mr. was introduced to this place earlier in the week and desperately wanted me to see it too.  I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it later.

This month, our local World of Beer is highlighting brews from the Southern Tier Brewing Company, which we tasted and enjoyed before.  I wanted a Southern Tier Choklat Stout, but its keg had run dry. So, I tasted a Southern Tier Creme Brûlée Imperial Stout.

Wah-hah-hah…THAT was sweet!  My mouth is puckering now, just thinking about it…days later.  Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t taste bad at all.  In fact, it was quite good, just intense…and sweet.  I might have been able to ingest more of it if it had it been poured over my morning waffles.  For real drinking, I opted for a the Southern Tier Oat Imperial Stout  instead.

The Mr. had a Southern Tier Krampus, for reasons that appeal only to him and his odd sense of humor.

World of Beer doesn’t serve food, but it partners with several nearby restaurants who will bring food to you while you sip your brew.  As novel as that sounds, bar food is not exactly what I had in mind for my birthday dinner.  So, we polished off our beers and headed Uptown to Dandelion Market , a local Dublin pub-inspired tapas restaurant.

I ate there with girlfriends for another birthday celebration about a year and half ago, but The Mr. had never been.  I loved the atmosphere as well as the food.  Check out the lovely table water…

Another really cool thing about Dandelion Market is that it has a deal where for $230 you can order EVERYTHING ON THE MENU.  That sounds like a lot, but when you go with a party of 15-20 people, it’s kind-of a great deal.  We did this when I went for my girlfriend’s birthday celebration and, even with the 17 of us that were there, it was a ridiculous amount of food.  So good, but SO MUCH!  Needless to say, The Mr. and I did not attempt that on our own.

We split the Pan Seared Ahi Tuna,

the Ale Simmered Sausage Bites,

the Baked Potato Croquettes,

and the Market Mac and Cheese.

It was all fantastic but, I’m here to tell ya – that tuna was out of this world!!  I almost pulled a “it’s-my-birthday-I-don’t-have-to-share-if-I-don’t-want-to” line but, The Mr. really loves a seared tuna and I just couldn’t keep it from him.  What can I say?  I’m a giver.  Even if I had withheld the tuna, I have no doubt that he would have enjoyed himself.  You see, I’m the kind of girl who doesn’t really like for my food to touch.  Him, he’s a combiner…

We finished the evening off with a Guinness-based, ganache-filled birthday cupcake.  I was stuffed by that point.  But, a girl has got to have a little bit of cake on her birthday…especially if there is Guinness in the batter.

Despite the ever increasing number associated with the anniversary of my birth, it was a really good day!


Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

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Don’t ya just love fresh herbs?




German Thyme

Last summer, having gotten tired of paying $4 a pop at the grocery store for small plastic containers of herbs that I never fully use before they go bad, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I bought two of these lovely planters from Crate & Barrel, had The Mr. mount them on the railings of our back “porch,” and got my hands dirty.  I planted basil, parsley, and oregano in one and rosemary, mint, and thyme in the other.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  With daily watering and all that direct sunlight on my “porch,” I had spent less than I would on containers of those herbs at the grocery store and I was gonna keep myself in fresh herbs throughout the summer!  Those were my thoughts, anyway.  That is…until we went away to the beach.

I asked our pet sitter to please water the herbs for me daily.  Well, she did, and I came home to HERBS GONE WILD!!  They had tripled in size in 10 days time!!  (Unfortunately, I seem to have deleted this pics I took, so I can’t prove it.  But I promise it’s true!)  Horticulturally speaking, that was pretty awesome. But practically, I COULD NOT use them fast enough.  I put basil and parsley on anything that would stand still.  I made mojitos like they were going out of style.  I even infused olive oil with rosemary and mint and made a bath scrub out of it.  (I understand that all of those things would have made interesting blog posts, but who can write when you are worried about herbs taking over your home?) But the herbs just kept growing and growing.  I gave all my neighbors permission to just come up on my porch and snip off any amount of herb they wanted.  I tried to give them away to my friends.   And still they grew…and grew…and GREW!  By the fall, my “porch” railing planters no longer housed a lovely, demure little herb garden.  They had become monstrosities of the highest order, disproportionate in size to their containers, with yellowing leaves from disuse and snaking limbs.  They were huge and hideous and starting to choke each other.  So, I did what any self-respecting gardener would do – ripped them all out and planted pansies.

Despite this failed experiment, I still had a strong desire to grow my own herbs.  I mean, even though they are just herbs, it’s still nice to think that I’m eating something I grew myself.  Also, without having my own, I’m forced back into my original predicament - paying $4 a pop at the grocery store for small plastic containers of herbs that I never fully use before they go bad.  This year, though, I decided to take a different route – CONTAINMENT!

I was given this sweet little plant stand by a neighbor who moved and wasn’t going to be able to take it with her.

It had been sitting on my “porch” for a couple of months, as I was uncertain about what to do with it myself.  But then I thought, “Hey, what’s this in my living room?”

A HUGE window with excellent natural light, perfect for plant growing.   Plant stand, meet ginormous window.  You both love plants.  Discuss!!

Hmmm…but what to put in said plant stand?  If, I put some herbs in smaller pots, and grow them inside through filtered window light, I might just be able to grow the herbs I need without running the risk of them squeezing me out of house and home.  One problem, though – the orangey-color of terra cotta pots doesn’t exactly mesh with the look I’ve got going in my living room.

What to do?  Several months ago I saw Martha decorate up some cute little terra cotta pots on her show and loved them.  I refreshed my memory with an archived video from her website, ordered up some Old Fashioned Milk Paint, and headed to Michael’s for a hot glue gun and some twine.  I’m usually not the crafty type, but this little project was just calling my name.   I know I’m no Martha but, they didn’t turn out half bad, huh?

I love the dusty, weathered look from the milk paint and the “Driftwood” color blends perfectly with the color palate of my living room.  Now I’ve got a window full of sweet little herb pots. They’re fresh and demure, just like I like ’em!

‘Cuz, let’s face it, nobody likes a haughty herb!

Cheers, ya’ll!

The Mrs. Signature

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Saw This Today

I met my friend, Meg, for dinner at Cantina on East Blvd tonight and look what was right in front of my eyes as I pulled out of the parking lot…

I’m super excited!!  I’m guessing it’s brand new 1) because of the “Now Open” sign in the window and 2) because I know a interior design boutique used to be in that same location.  We had a blast in a similar place called Mountain Town Olive Oil in Park City last year.  We’ve been loving the oil and vinegar we picked up there ever since.  But, I’ve kinda been dolling it out sparingly, not knowing when I would be able to get more.  Now it looks like I won’t have to do that anymore.  I’m running low on olive oil anyway.  So guess where I’m headed when I do my weekly shopping this Saturday!  I’ll let you know what I find out.

Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

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Hellooooooo…Is anybody out there?


I seriously doubt there is anyone out there still reading this.  If you are, um…sorry about the nearly year long hiatus…we got busy…

Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  If you were a reader before, you can tell we’ve had a little site redesign.  I’m pretty excited about the new look, although there are still a few things still outstanding on the “site redesign to do list” (or since the computer-nerd-software-developing-web-designing hubs is in charge of that stuff, it could also be called the “blog honey-do list.”)

Although we have been total slackers since last May, we both really enjoy this blogging business and are re-invigorated to start it a new.  We’ve been thinking and there’s something else that is different.  The hubs still insists that we use pseudonyms for posting.  Previously we referred to ourselves as the Beer Guy and the Wine Girl, but we’ve been doing some thinking, myself in particular, and we feel that  those pseudonyms were a little misleading: 1) While we do enjoy good fermented beverages, either hops or grapes, neither of us is an expert in either beer or wine.  It’s not for lack of trying 🙂 , but there are no formal credentials there.  2) This blog isn’t meant to be just about beer or wine.  It’s about food, travel, learning to use our fancy camera, and us trying to step out of our comfort zone in little ways every day.  For a refresher on what this delicious little blog is supposed to be about go here or here.   3)  While the hubs certainly knows his stuff when it comes to beer, and I feel I know a fair amount about wine, I’ve come to learn that I actually have a more discriminating palate for beer than I do wine.  And a nice craft brew is generally my go to beverage of choice.  I felt like a phony referring to myself as a Wine Girl.

So gone are the days of BG and WG.  Since we are a married couple enjoying all these little adventures together we thought our pseudonyms should reflect that.  Henceforth, we shall refer to ourselves as  The Mr. and The Mrs.  It’s cute, no?  But is it as cute as this…

Maybe not.  But these new pseudonyms aren’t nearly as limiting as the old ones.

Whether you are a new reader or The Mr.’s mom who’s stuck with us from the start – Enjoy!  We are getting back in the saddle and hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Cheers y’all!

The Mrs. Signature

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P’Stone Comfort Food

So it’s New Years Day and after coffee and a good talk with a friend, I called WineGirl to see if I needed to pick up anything on the way home.
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