Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy (belated) Birthday, Tiffany and Happy (early) OU/TX Weekend! {Throwback Thursday}

When I was in college, this week was pretty much my favorite week ever.  One of my partners in crime's birthdays AND a holiday weekend?  The best.  Wait, what?  You don't know of a holiday the second-ish Saturday in October?  OH!  You must not have gone to the University of Oklahoma or the University of Texas.  It's OU/TX weekend, y'all!  And this week, I'm throwing back with some pics from the craziest of all the College celebrations.

But first, Tiffany.

I met Tiffany just after I turned 21 and we became fast friends.  We had a blast - we got in trouble together, went to concerts, parties, after parties... and at some point managed to find time for school.

We definitely bonded during our first OU/TX trip - and spent the next 3 years making memories that I'll never forget.  In 2004, Tiff turned 21 the night before we left for Dallas.  It was my last OU/TX weekend and kicking it off with her 21st birthday made it epic.

Here are just a few pictures from our shenanigans.
I *think* this is after a show. // September, 2003 // OKC, OK
This is the morning AFTER her 21st birthday!  Look how adorable she is. // October, 2004 // Tulsa, OK
After a concert.// May, 2005 // Tusla, OK
Celebrating my graduation at O'Connell's // May, 2005 // Norman, OK

Oh... OU/TX

We looked forward to it every year and every year we were sort of miserable.  Did you ever have something that looking back on seemed so much more awesome that it actually was?  So awesome, that you got psyched for it every year... and then time came - you got there and you were like, "Oh.  This isn't THAT awesome. Let's slap on a big fake smile {it's called the Texas smile.  Ask anyone.*} and power through it."  

Except for some reason it IS awesome - hangovers, tattoos, fights, Dick's Last Resort, laughing, burnt orange and crimson everywhere, whiskey, beer, dancing, the riot police, Deep Ellum, a million people shoved into a hotel room and football at some point... It was awesome.  And NOT surprisingly, I don't have a ton of pictures from the years I went.  Here are a few from 2004 (the ONE year I took photos, apparently).
Getting ready for the road trip.  // October, 2004 // Norman, OK

That gesture actually means "I love you" in our language. Also? Those are empty cartons.  I think the beer is in the bathtub... // October, 2004 // Dallas, TX

My 3rd and final tattoo - 2/3 of my tattoos I got from this same guy on two different OU/TX weekends.  It's a thing.  // October 2004 // Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX
This was seriously SO late (early?) and I don't even know what we were still doing up. // October 2004 // Dallas, TX
 I'd LOVE to go to Dallas for OU/TX weekend again and some day I will - hopefully with a lot of the same people I went with back in the day.  I know these future trips will NOT be the same... except for maybe the tattoo... I could use another tattoo.  

And Tiff?  Happy Birthday, again.  I love you!

*Ok, so my friends and I made up the "Texas Smile" - when I say 'ask anyone,' I mean anyone I know. :)
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Swedish Hill's Viking Red {Winetastic}

A few weeks ago, we went on a family trip to the Finger Lakes in New York.  One of the wineries we went to was called Swedish Hill.  Since our family has some Swedish heritage, we were really excited to check this one out.

I loved a lot of their wines - the Glogg and their Viking white were fantastic and so was this great Red we had last night for Sunday dinner.

The Details

  • Alcohol content - 12%
  • Residual sugar - 0.05%


To give it a try, you can buy online or find a place to buy near you (NOTE: They have a limited distribution area).

Tasting Notes

Viking Red is semi-dry, with a strong  berry finish.  It's pretty tart and can leave that sort of tangy feel on your tongue you get from too much sour candy.

It's definitely a drink-with-food wine and it paired fantastically with the filets, green beans and baked potatoes we had.

Overall

Not a favorite, but I'd definitely drink it again!

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pumpkin Dip Bowl

Last night was my brother's engagement party and one of my responsibilities was the veggie tray. I love a pretty veggie tray, and definitely wanted to do something special. Since this was a fall party (celebrating a fall wedding), pumpkins featured heavily in the decor and I thought of a neat way to feature pumpkin in my veggie tray - as the dip bowl! Check out the how-to below.
 
1. Cut off the pumpkin's top - carving into the pumpkin, cut a slightly larger top than you would for a Jack-o-Lantern. We outlined the shape we wanted in pencil.
Dad's always been the pumpkin guy.  He was happy to help out!


If your pumpkin's a little thick, you may have to resort to more drastic measures.


2. Remove the guts and seeds.
3. Using a spoon, scrape the pumpkin clean.
Bonus: You can save the seeds and roast them for a yummy fall snack!

4. Line the pumpkin with tin foil and pin in place. We used both toothpicks and straight pins.

5. Fill it with the dip of your choice.

6. Put the lid back on and add a decorative label so your guests no what's inside!

6 steps and you've got a cute and functional fall decoration that's easy to make!
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Pumpkin Beer Blind Taste Showdown {Beertastic}

It's fall and you know what that means - everything is pumpkin flavored!  So, for the first Beertastic Blind Taste Showdown I thought why not pumpkin beers?

What is a Blind Taste Showdown?

Let me explain how this works.  We start with a beer that I love (the Defending Champion) and find at least five other beers of the same variety (the Challengers).  The beers are numbered and then we do a blind tasting.   We vote in 3 categories:
  1. Best of the Best
  2. Ew. No, thank you.
  3. Wild card (this time it was "Most likely to be mistake for Pumpkin Pie")

The Pumpkin Beer Showdown

It was a tough job, but someone had to choose the best of the best pumpkin beers.  That night, we had a great team of beer tasters.
Back row: Matt, Megan
Front row: Brian, Brittany, Mom and Dad
We had 11 beers (that's right, 11!!) in total.  Each one was numbered and served to us in clear numbered glasses.  My mom graciously poured each beer for us so we could stay "blind."

The Defending Champion this go around was Pumking from Southern Tier Brewing Company, but we had no idea what number it was.

We made sure to have plenty of pretzels nearby for between-taste palette cleansers.

Here are my notes on the tasting plus a few snippets of conversation from everyone:

1. Flat and overall just meh.
Brittany: This one is familiar but not familiar...
2. Smells like pumpkin bread, sweet smelling but not tasting. Reminds me of GLBC's Christmas Ale.
Brian: I'm not getting pumpkin from either of these.
3. sickly sweet, almost bitter, definitely the bitter one, frowny face.
Matt took his tasing very seriously - he was organized and had notes and stars for each beer.
4. Sweet, less bitter, yummy
Brian: Tastes like pumpkin cheesecake.
Brittany: Eh.  I have nothing to say about this one.
5. Not very pumpkin-y, but a good fall beer
I was less organized, but still took tons of notes!
6. Tastes like pine and soap, bitter, not much pumpkin taste
Brittany: They're all blurring together.
7. GROSS
Me: What's that taste?
Brian: Band-aid.
Matt: It tastes like BO Smells.
8. Spicy smell and taste, dark
9. Watery and bitter-ish
Intense beer and pumpkin related debates.
10. EW Smell, great taste - rich and fall-like
11.  Smells good, pumpkin and citrus. Taste too citrus-y.
Dad: I think this whole pumpkin beer thing is still a work in progress.
Below is a list of all of the beers: the Defending Champion AND the Challengers along with each number they're assigned. Click any of the beer names to read all about it over at Beer Advocate:
  1. Pumpkinhead (Shipyard Brewing Company)
  2. Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale (Steven's Point Brewery)
  3. Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale (Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.) 
  4. Pumking (Souther Tier Brewing Company) 
  5. Punkin Ale (Dogfish Head Brewery) 
  6. Ichabod (New Holland Brewing) 
  7. America's Original Pumpkin Ale (Buffalo Bill's Brewery) 
  8. Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.) 
  9. Post Road Pumpkin Ale (Brooklyn Brewery) 
  10. Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Fat Head's Brewery) 
  11. Jaw-Jacker (Arcadia Ales)

The Voting

Voting was pretty entertaining.  There were more ties than we thought there would be and it was harder than we thought!

We voted for "Most Likely to be Mistaken for Pumpkin Pie" first.  2 votes for beer #4 and 4 votes for beer #2.  

Next up was "Ew. No, thank you." It was a tie - 3 votes for #11 and 3 votes for #7... and then Dad put all of the rest of his votes in that bag.  He wasn't really a fan of the beers at all.

Our last vote was for "Best of the Best." This was also a tie - first we were split 2 votes for #1, 2 votes for #10, 1 for #3 and 1 for #4.  Then we had everyone re-taste beer #1 and #10 once more and vote on just those.  It was an evenly split tie between them - 3 for #1 and 3 for #10.

The Winners

Most Likely to be Mistaken for Pumpkin Pie - Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale (Steven's Point Brewery)

Ew. No, thank you - America's Original Pumpkin Ale (Buffalo Bill's Brewery) and Jaw-Jacker (Arcadia Ales)

Best of the Best - Pumpkinhead (Shipyard Brewing Company) and Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale (Fat Head's Brewery)

Overall

While Pumking may have been dethroned as the Best of the Best, it was actually my favorite.  Everyone was really surprised they picked something other than Pumking as their favorite, but that's why we did it as a blind tasting.

What surprised us even more was that we disliked so many of the beers!  That one really DID taste like how band-aids smell.  It was terrible.

We had such a great time!  I enjoyed ending the night with some pretzels and a full glass of my favorite.
Pumking.  Mmm.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Dating Profiles Dos and Don'ts {The Search for Charming}

Dating can be rough - putting your best face forward on first dates, being prepared with sparkling conversation - but it should be easier online, right?  You create a profile full of great information about yourself and throw up an awesome picture.  Easy, right?
Well, people can screw up anything.  Here are 16 DOs and DON'Ts for your online dating profile.

1. DO fill out your whole profile. 

It doesn't take long and it shows you put some thought in to it.

2. DON'T use a picture of you with a child as your main profile picture unless it is YOUR child. 

If it's your kid - that's awesome and cute and great.   If the kid in the picture is your niece, nephew, cousin or sibling - include it in your pictures, just not as your main picture.  If the kid in the picture isn't related to you, don't use the picture at all.  I'm sorry, it's creepy.

3. DO use correct grammar, spelling and complete sentences.  

It matters.  Sure, not everyone reading your profile is going to care, but chances are those people aren't very bright.

4. DON'T talk about how lame you think online dating is. 

You're here, aren't you?  Get over it.

5. DO keep things positive! 

If you click with someone, there will be plenty of time for you to complain* while your match is emailing you or you're texting or you're face to face.  Just keep it off of your profile...
*Please note I'm not suggesting you complain regularly at all... but if that's your thing, that's your thing.

6. DON'T use your profile to rant about the terrible experience you've had so far.  

Look, we all know online dating can be crappy and that a lot of terrible people are on these sites, but we don't need to talk about it on our profiles.

7. DO be original. 

If you aren't original, be funny.  If you aren't funny, just be you.  Mostly, be you.

8. DON'T use LOL or other text speak anywhere in your profile. 

Honestly, unless you're a 16 year old girl, don't.  And if you are a 16 year old girl, why do you have an online dating profile?

9. DO smile in your profile picture. 

EVERYONE looks better when they smile.  It's a fact.

10. DON'T post pictures that you had to blur or crop out someone. 

Come on.  We're always going to assume the person blurred or cropped is your ex.  It doesn't matter how good you look in the picture. Use a different one.

11. DO talk about things you like to do and are passionate about.  

How are any of us supposed to navigate through the online dating world if we don't learn anything about each other?

12. DON'T post pictures of you with other girls/guys. 

It doesn't make you look cool to have a million pictures of you surrounded by members of the opposite sex.

13. DO answer the personality questions. 

They're fun and you can learn a lot about people.

14. DON'T answer the personality questions that have correct answers if you don't know the answer.

Here's a freebie. The answer to this question from OKCupid, "In the line “Wherefore art thou Romeo?,” what does “wherefore” mean?" is WHY.  Wherefore means why.

15. DO be candid in what you're looking for. 

If you want an athlete, say that.  If you need someone who likes to cook, say that.  If someone who lays around in their pajamas most of Sunday is unacceptable, say that!

16. DON'T use any of these as your profile picture.

These are REAL pictures from actual profiles... all of them were the primary photo.  




I mean... holy crap.
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