Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Asheville, NC in Two Days

As the weather started to dip into something cool, we got the opportunity to drive up to Asheville and visit the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Though I've been to Asheville before, this is the first time I've gotten to explore the city and experience its beer culture.  The last trip was a high school choir trip to sing at the Biltmore Mansion, so we opted to leave that out this time.

The first evening was all about getting in some craft beer and some delicious food in the heart of downtown.  John and I seem to always have the bad luck of killing kegs, but we were able to taste a few good brews.  John being a brewer himself, we hunted down a local beer supply store the next morning to get some freshly milled barley and malts for a new brew he was planning.  Near the beer supply store is the UNC Asheville botanical gardens, where we got out to romp around with the native species.

One of our foodie highlights was Early Girl Eatery, a local hotspot for sustainably grown and local food.  I had a fantastic "Early girl benny" with fried grit cakes, poached eggs, wilted spinach, avocados, and a tomato relish on top.  John had a good looking "porky breakfast bowl" as well with pulled pork.  All of that goodness got us ready to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway for some fantastic overlooks!

We finished our trip with a walk down to the Wicked Weed brew pub.  Their menu, like many others in the region, are very IPA and hop heavy, which we don't really like, but they had so many options we were able to choose some great beers.  I had their Transcendence, which is one of the few bacteria beers out there.  I know it sounds gross, but just think of a more lemonade taste woven into the beer's profile.  The food was also great, but the service, not so much.

Again soon, please!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

Taking advantage of Fall break and vacation time to see some mountains.

More of this to follow, but for now, beer is calling my name!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Coffee and Cream Shower Scrubs

Buying a gallon of refined Coconut Oil was totally a great call.

I've been trying to move my beauty routine to include more natural products in its rotation.  So, the face scrub containing Plant Stem Cells that I have been using doesn't really qualify, but my line of scrubs and moisturizers exceeds expectations.  Coconut Oil has natural health benefits that are great for your skin, and food grade even has benefits for uses in the kitchen.  The properties that I focused on most were the fact that it does not clog pores, it stops and prevents rashes, it leaves skin feeling wonderfully soft and smooth, and it smells good!  These can only be good things.

Coffee has also had a place in some of my scrubs because of its exfoliation, antioxidants, and caffeine, which all help to reduce dull patches and cellulite.  Another win.  The only thing that could make this better?  The addition of Peppermint Essential Oil.  I'm crazy, I put mint in everything, but its aromatherapy benefits include calming stress, and soothing pneumatic issues.

After trying one of these cuties in the shower, I know you will find this a decadent way to start your day.

Make It:
1 cup of coffee grounds (make sure they are as dry as possible)
1 cup of Coconut Oil, melted
ice tray or another mold

Slowly melt coconut oil in a microwave safe glass until completely melted with no chunks.  Spoon dried coffee grounds into cubes of the ice trays, again, make sure there is no remaining liquid in grounds.  Pour melted coconut oil over grounds in ice tray molds.  Stir them gently to make sure grounds are incorporated into the oil to prevent dry and uneven spots.  Place tray into refrigerator or freezer until set.  Once set, pop out of tray and transfer to a jar or other container.

Take one into a shower a use on entire body, taking care to exfoliate rough spots like elbows and knees.  Body will feel soft and moisturized afterward, so make sure to pat dry to let your skin absorb the oil.

Coconut oil melts at 78 degrees, so keeping in in the fridge until use is a good idea.  Unless you live up North, in which a counter top might be ok, but in the South, it is NOT ok.

***Warning!***  Kitties like Coconut Oil, so they may try to be meddlesome.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Roundup : DIY

Inspired by so much, and such little time to do it, I have compiled a quick list of projects that I want to do.  Now the hard part is making time to start checking these things off.  

First off:

Playing with Lighting:
There are so many cool lighting project that I want to do.  I've actually been fascinated with customized lighting for awhile now, but can never make myself take the plunge to acquire parts.  And I even have teacups that are perfect for this.  [Sydney Morning Herald]

Natural Wood Projects:
There are a lot of projects that would fall under this category, including a ridiculously cute tree branch and slate table that I just saw on design sponge!  And really, my parents have already mastered this with the tree branch candle holders that they made for Christmas last year.  I just need a chainsaw . . .
Also, the guys at [Cantilever and Press] have some cool things working!

Yarn Projects:
Okay, it's about time that I learn how to knit, or crochet, or something.  There is way too much couch downtime in my life for my hands not to be busy on something so cute as this.  It's a mandrake from Harry Potter! Cuteness.
[Mr. Fox]

Air Plant Gardening:
Now to be fair, I am ready to do this project.  I even went on an air plant gathering walk at the Riverwalk yesterday, but finding air plants in SC is much more difficult than finding them in your yard down in FL.  Just saying.  These mounted air plant plaques are so cute, and they help clean the air you breathe as well.

Why haven't I tried to make these yet?  To be fair, they take a lot of work, patience, and preparation, which are basically the three things I hate about cooking.  But I've make it through the Liukse waffles recipe several times by now, so how bad can this really be?
Image from [Macaroon Cafe]

That is well enough to keep me busy for some time.  What projects are any of you working on?

P.S. I've written this whole post while Fosca sleeps away under my desk.  The life of a cat . . .

Friday, October 11, 2013

Roasted Chicken Salad with Avocado and Blue Cheese

Don't act like you aren't drooling over this salad.

It all started with a roasted whole chicken when I was totally owning the kitchen yesterday. I had been putting off making waffles again because I was out of yeast, but a quick trip to the store found yeast and more. A fresh young chicken came home with me, and, shamefully, a box of whole wheat croissants. I cannot help that they are so good.
The multitasking that came out of that kitchen yesterday was austounding! This whole staycation from work thing is really suiting me... I love waffles... this kitchen smells amazing.
So, as for the chicken, it was seasoned only with Herb d' Provence and black pepper. Then it was sauteed in the bottom of our 8qt Staub, which is literally the best tool we own in the kitchen. We do so much with it. This browned skin beauty then goes directly into the oven with the lid on. 325 and several hours later, a lusciously moist bird comes out of the oven.
But this wasn't even the star of my salad. The perfectly ripened avocado was drizzled with a lemon and olive oil vinigrette. The blue cheese chunks brought out the tangy of the cherry tomatoes. And red leaf lettuce supports a light drizzle of bleu cheese dressing, good good times.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hello Fall!

We had a short tease of Fall weather last week with dips into the 50s!  Of course, being in South Carolina, it has already climbed back up into the 80s again, but that doesn't stop me from decorating the house in its Fall garb.  Just recently, the Spring grapevine wreath transitioned into the Fall version.  Seriously, one of the smartest things I have done was to purchase a bare grapevine wreath.

Next are plans for a Halloween masquerade party, filled with spooky cakes and cocktails!

Be jealous.