EXCITING NEWS!

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Today I am launching an online shop to sell a few stickers I’ve designed. Visit the shop here! I’m starting very small, but hope to be adding more stickers soon. If you have a chance, check them out. I would also love feedback on what future designs you’d like to see. Cheers!

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Beer Review: Divine Sauvage

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Divine Sauvage – a Belgian Tripel aged in Red Wine Barrels
brewed by Green Flash Brewing Co. in San Diego, CA

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Divine Sauvage is a Belgian-Style Tripel Ale aged in red wine barrels – 36 different barrels to be exact. This blend was brewed in 2015 & 2016 with Syrian Golding and Czech Saaz hops and fermented with Monastery and Brett yeast. After being aged in vintage French Oak red wine barrels for up to 30 months, it was bottled in March and resulted in this brilliant piece of artistry.

Divine Sauvage poured a highly carbonated, deep golden color. Topped off with an eggshell-colored head reminiscent of lemon meringue, this beer had brilliant head retention. I was initially taken aback by the lack of bold aroma, but there were certainly subtle wafts of tannin, oak, and sour apricot. As the beer warmed up, there were also distinct Brett notes apparent in the nose. Upon first sip, I was impressed with the tart, balanced mid-palate flavor – clean funk that gave way to a lingering, soft lemongrass finish. The tart flavor reminded me of the loquat fruit: similar to apricot with floral overtones, presenting as tart due to not quite reaching its ripened prime. The joy of sipping this beer evoked nostalgic memories of sticky juice running down my hands and chin as a child after biting into the season’s first apricot at a roadside farm stand. Divine Sauvage clocks in at 9.7% ABV and 24 IBU. If you have an opportunity to imbibe this tasty beer, I highly recommend that you DO!

Cellar 3 is home to Green Flash’s barrel program, self described as “where craft evolves into artistry.” For more information on Cellar 3 and Green Flash, I highly recommend checking out this video:

 

Beer Review: Green Zebra

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Green Zebra– A Gose Style Ale brewed with Watermelon and Sea Salt
brewed by Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, MI

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I was super excited this made it to Indiana! Having lived in Grand Rapids for eight years, I definitely consider it my second hometown. Founders Brewing Co. has brewed a beer every year to benefit ArtPrize, and Green Zebra is this year’s brew! What is ArtPrize, you ask? It is an open, independently organized international art competition and festival held annually in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flood the streets every fall to experience this special event. More than five hundred thousand dollars in prizes are awarded each year, which include a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts. Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate. For more information about ArtPrize, please visit their website.

Green Zebra is a gose style ale brewed with watermelon and sea salt. It has been quite a while since I have had a gose that I truly enjoyed. I have described the recent goses I have imbibed as “drinkable” at best. Watch out world – here, to revive the true potential of the gose is Founders’ Green Zebra! For those of you unfamiliar with the gose style, here is BeerAdvocate’s description:

“An old German beer style from Leipzig, Gose is an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50-60% malted wheat, which creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang. A Gose will have a low hop bitterness and a complementary dryness and spice from the use of ground coriander seeds and a sharpness from the addition of salt. Like Berliner Weisse beers, a Gose will sometimes be laced with various flavored and colored syrups. This is to balance out the addition of lactic acid that is added to the boil.”

Green Zebra poured with dancing carbonation and topped off with a dollop of bright white head. It was the color of a wheat field on a summer day, and was effervescent with an ever-so-subtle haze. The initial wafts of aroma were tangy and almost sour, which soon gave way to a powerful smell of watermelon with an underlying hint of brine. The overwhelming scent was very reminiscent of watermelon flavored salt water taffy. As predicted, the carbonation of Green Zebra electrified and fizzled across the tongue, highlighting the tangy bite of flavor across the full palate. At first sip, I was greeted with a very sweet, candy-like watermelon flavor at the front of the palate, along with the light, soft, creamy mouthfeel. While the watermelon candy taste remained throughout, it got bumped to the background by a funky, sour taste – like a tart green apple. The tang was accentuated by sprinkles of saltiness throughout, and was capped off by the lingering salty aftertaste. Though the various flavor contributions to this beer sound like an odd combination, it truly finds a harmonious balance. Green Zebra clocks in at 4.6% ABV and 10 IBU. I highly recommend you get your hands on it, before this zebra goes extinct!


References:

“Gose.” BeerAdvocate, 21 January 2012, https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/style/16/.

Beer Review: Shploing!! Mango S’mores

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Shploing!! Mango S’mores – an India Pale Ale
brewed and canned for Omnipollo by Dorchester Brewing Co. in Boston, MA

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Saw this at my local bottle shop, and was immediately intrigued. An IPA brewed with marshmallows? I couldn’t imagine it, so I knew I had to try it. Besides, the can design is awesome!

Shploing!! Mango S’mores is an IPA brewed with marshmallows, graham crackers, salt and lactose sugar with mangos and vanilla added. I love IPAs and I love s’mores, but I really couldn’t imagine the two meeting. It poured from the can a hazy, straw color with about a finger of off-white head. The head dissipated really quickly. The aroma was exactly what I was hoping for: strong mango scent, with a distinct vanilla marshmallow smell cutting through. The taste was prominently tropical fruit and citrusy hops. I picked up on an incredibly subtle vanilla aftertaste. The malt flavor definitely took the back seat to the hops, though I could see it being described as graham crackery (I suspect this to have a lot more to do with the actual malts used than the fact that it was brewed with graham crackers, but who knows?) There was a bit of sediment at the bottom, but not invasive or so much that bothered me. I’ll be honest, I expected a lot more marshmallow flavor than there was from this beer; but I was also worried it would be too sweet for my liking which it was not. I had fun trying this, and there were some subtle unique flavors, but overall I would categorize this as a basic, but solid, India Pale Ale. I highly recommend it for the bitter hopheads, but suggest you stay away if you’re only in it for the marshmallow. Shploing!! Mango S’mores IPA clocks in at 7% ABV.

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Have you tried Shploing!! Mango S’mores? What was your opinion of it? What is the most unique combination of flavors you’ve had in a beer? I’d love to hear from you, please feel free to comment below!

“The Dale Cooper” Coffee, Cherry Pie, Whiskey Shake

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In honor of the return of Twin Peaks this evening (after a 25 year hiatus!) I wanted to share with you a boozy shake called “The Dale Cooper.” Inspired by Special Agent Dale Cooper’s affinity for coffee and cherry pie, this is one drink you’re going to want to make before the Showtime premier tonight. I hope it’s as good as what Norma serves up at The Double R Diner!

Note: This recipe uses all vegan ingredients, but I’m sure it will also taste great if you go the dairy route.

Ingredients:

2 cups vanilla cashew ice cream
1/4 cup cashew milk
1 cup frozen black cherries
2 packets (4 g) decaffeinated instant coffee crystals
1 shot of whiskey
1 graham cracker

Optional Toppings: Crushed graham crackers, whole espresso beans, & vegan whipped cream!

Instructions:

Throw it all in a blender, and blend! Top with crushed graham crackers, whole espresso beans, & whipped cream. Enjoy!

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Did you try the recipe? How did it turn out? Do you have any improvements or suggestions? Please comment below!

Relearning Happiness

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Social media tends to be my “happy place” – I usually only post pictures of things that make my life seem fun, happy, and interesting. But recently, I have not been well. Mental illness is a very real thing. I’ve struggled with depression most of my life. A bipolar diagnosis was both scary and enlightening. My most recent downward spiral landed me in the hospital for 5 days, disabled me to the point where I had to leave a job I absolutely loved, and (gasp) I haven’t had a beer in 50+ days. There are days where I wouldn’t leave my bed if it weren’t for my lovingly stubborn husband forcing me to. I am trying my best to land back on my feet, but to be honest, I’m still struggling. With vulnerability and humility, I offer you this blog post of things that have helped me as I continue to navigate the journey of mental health.

Happiness is NOT a state of being.
The best thing a therapist has ever told me was that happiness is not a state of being. We can’t be happy all the time. No emotion is a state of being – our emotions change, and that’s normal. Striving to reach a constant state of happiness is impossible, and trying will only lead to disappointment. Learning how to regulate and react to our emotions is the key to success. We can do this with a variety of tools – and of course, what works for everybody varies. For some people, it may mean working to change their automatic/reaction thoughts. For others it might mean going for a walk, yoga, or dinner with friends. It may mean medication and therapy. It could often mean a combination of all these things. I want to share with you four things I was challenged to do EVERYDAY on my journey of Relearning Happiness that have really helped me:

1.) Self Care
I’m sure the concept of self care is not a new one to many of you. What it means in the simplest terms is taking care of yourself. This includes taking any medication you may be on as prescribed, eating healthy foods, getting physical exercise, making time to relax, and practicing good sleep hygiene.

Taking your meds as prescribed is important – missed doses can really mess with you both emotionally and physically. If you don’t feel like the medicine you are on is working or if you don’t like the side effects, talk to your doctor! Make a list of what you want to say so when you are communicating with them you can be articulate with your needs and wants. Do not ever go off your meds cold turkey without consulting a doc first. They’ll be able to tell you if/how to ween yourself off – trust me on this one, the withdrawal effects can be gnarly!

Eating healthy foods and exercising are not generally my strengths. Fortunately, I am married to a vegan marathon runner who loves to cook, so some of his good habits rub off (or are forced) on me. For me the key to eating well is finding healthy food that tastes good to me. Don’t force yourself to eat something disgusting just because it is supposedly good for you. Spend some time on the web hunting through recipes that sound good to you, and have fun making them! Additionally, don’t feel guilty for indulging in unhealthy foods that you enjoy. It is absolutely okay to treat yourself on occasion, and yummy “bad” foods can contribute as much to happiness and well being as healthy food. As far as exercising goes, I don’t really enjoy going to the gym or other traditional workout methods. But that’s okay! I try to think outside of the box, and find fun exercise that works for me. My current favorite is hula hooping! Unfortunately, when dealing with depression, the motivation to simply get out of bed can be nonexistent. I have found that forcing myself to go on a short walk around the block is a good place to start.

Finding time to intentionally relax is important. Note that I said intentionally! Schedule times in your day dedicated completely to an activity that relaxes you – meditating, yoga, praying, deep breathing – whatever works for you! Additionally, work on your sleep hygiene – that is, get in a habit of practices that allow you to have sufficient, high quality nighttime sleep. My personal nightly bedtime routine starts an hour before I plan on going to bed. It consists of turning my phone on airplane mode and plugging it in for the night, abstaining from looking at any screens (tv, computer, etc), dimming the lights, making some caffeine-free tea, lighting a candle, and reading in bed. I also make sure to start this routine early enough that I will be able to get at least 8 hours of sleep.This-Is-About-You-Amazing-Weird-Beautiful-You-Uncustomary

Looking for more suggestions on self care and self love? I highly recommend the book This Is About You: Amazing, Weird, Beautiful You by Mary England of the blog Uncustomary.

 

2.) Journaling
If journals haven’t worked in the past for you, I can relate. But I think once you abandon the idea of a traditional journal, you may find it a very beneficial tool.

When I was a kid I was enamored with all the cool, cute, and beautiful journals and diaries available. I tried time after time to be a diary girl. I would write every detail of everyday into them…for a few days. Then I would skip a day, a week, or a month, and give up on it all together despite only being a few pages in. It was super defeating and I dreaded the stress, but it didn’t stop me when the next pretty diary came along. It was a vicious cycle.

My freshmen year of high school, I had a glorious revelation – a journal doesn’t have to be a detailed record of every single day. A journal doesn’t have to have a specific format. It can be a complete free-flowing train-of-thought ramble sans punctuation. It can be something you don’t write in for months, and decide to pick up again. One page could contain your deepest thoughts, the next a doodle, and the next your weekly grocery list. There are no rules! You don’t like the idea of a notebook? Try typing in a word document or starting a blog! Get a tumblr and reblog pictures, quotes, or gifs that express your feelings. The options are endless!

The benefits of journaling are that it slows down your thoughts – you can only write so fast! It can also help sort out/process thoughts and emotions. Additionally, it’s nice to have a record of sorts, to help find behavior patterns and identify repeating thoughts and emotions.51qKhbS1BUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Looking for ideas of what to write? There are TONS of journal prompts online. I’d also like to recommend the book Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling by Katie Dalebout, of the podcast ‘Let It Out’.

 

3.) Play
Engaging in play seems simple and maybe even silly, but it is truly an important part of recovery! Rediscover old things you once liked to do, or explore new ones. This can include going to the movies, sports, hiking, camping, board games, concerts, video games, dancing, taking your dog for a walk…anything that brings you joy in participating. Some of personal favorite ways to engage in play include playing dress up, throwing tea parties, going to the roller skating rink, and running through sprinklers! Don’t worry about what other people think of you – happiness happens when you are doing things you love! One of my therapists prescribed PLAY everyday, and I think you should try it too!51Ic6V8NxhL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_-1

Looking for more ideas of how to play and generally celebrate life? I recommend the book Succulent Wild Woman by Sark, one of my biggest and long-time inspirations.

 

4.) Goal Progressing Activity
Ugh, all four of these things I’m sharing with you are incredibly challenging, and can even seem impossible when depressed – but Goal Progressing Activity is the holy grail of hard things for me when I’m depressed. What does Goal Progressing Activity mean? Doing things that are productive. This can include making the bed, washing the dishes, organizing things, going through old emails, writing a budget, or working. These tasks can all seem daunting and overwhelming when you are fighting depression, but try to start small. During recovery, just try to complete one productive activity every day. Just one. Go to bed knowing you accomplished something, even something small, with your day.51yBwBd70+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_-1

Looking for inspiration on finding motivation? Please please please read Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton, founder of the brilliant blog Momastery and non-profit Together Rising.

 

“It’s all of those feelings that you’ve numbed for so long. Now they’re there and they are present. And at first it just feels kind of tingly and uncomfortable but then those feelings start to feel like daggers, the pain, the love, the guilt, the shame, it’s all piled on top of you with nowhere to run.

But what I learned during that time is that sitting with the pain and the joy of being a human being, while refusing to run for any exits is the only way to become a real human being. And so these days I’m not a superhero and I’m not a perfect human being. But I am a fully human being. And I am proud of that.”
          -Glennon Doyle Melton,
          ‘All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in the Mental Hospital’ – TedxTraverseCity

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Have any of these things worked for you? What other coping skills do you use? I would love to know, please comment below!

Beer Review: Femme Fatale Brett

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Femme Fatale Brett – an India Pale Ale
produced and bottled for Evil Twin Brewing by Westbrook Brewing Co. in Mt. Pleasant, SC
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As a beer lover with a film degree and a passion for film noir, I couldn’t pass up a beer called Femme Fatale, especially if it comes from Evil Twin.

Femme Fatale Brett is an IPA fermented with brettanomyces and hopped with Galaxy, Citra, Summit, and Cascade hops. It poured a hazy, bright, glowing orange and had a huge, frothy head with incredible retention. The aroma was of fermented fruit, notes of lemon, and sweet banana esters. The initial flavor was strong citrus and apricot, while a consistent sweet yeast undertone ran across the full palate. Mid palate was tangy, with a distinct brett taste dancing across the tongue, and a subtle biscuity hint reminiscent of sea salt. The lingering aftertaste was both sweet and funky. Despite the large head initially, the mouthfeel lacked carbonation and was thin and flatter than expected. If you are into brettanomyces and citrusy belgian ales, I highly recommend you face the funk and taste this incredibly drinkable beer. Femme Fatal Brett clocks in at 6% ABV.

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Have you had Femme Fatale Brett? What did you think of it? Is there a beer you would like to see me review? Let me know!