Sunday, May 31, 2009
My wife's birthday was last week and she received a brand new Trek 7300 hybrid bicycle from her parents.
Yesterday we took our first ride together. We biked the 7 mile long Kanawha City Bike Route in eastern Charleston. It follows the Kanawha River through Kanawha City, past the Capitol and around the University of Charleston.
It was a beautiful day so we stopped on the campus of UC just long enough to snap a picture.
Last month my wife gave me a Mr. Beer kit for my birthday. Let me just say... it's the tastiest present I've ever received. It comes with sanitizer, beer mix, beer booster (sugar for alcohol purposes), beer bottles and a keg for fermenting.
Home brewing is an interesting process. First you have to make sure everything is sanitized... your pots, spoons and keg. After cleaning, you combine your beer mix with water and booster. It comes to a boil and you place it in the keg with additional water. This is called "creating wort."
After creating your wort, you let the keg sit for at least 2 weeks. This is called "fermentation" and it's definitely the most difficult step in the process for me. I'm very impatient. I want beer NOW! Haha. Anyway, after allowing the beer to sit for two weeks, it's ready to be bottled!
After sanitizing each bottle, you add additional sugar and your fermented beer from the keg. The extra sugar that's added in this step makes the beer carbonated. I like to call it "adding fizz." Sounds like you're all finished, right? WRONG! Heheh... you have to wait another 2 weeks for the additional sugar to finish carbonating the beer.
1 month after starting the brewing process, you can chill and drink your bottled beer! My first home brew was called American Devil IPA. It's an Indian Pale Ale that's hoppy and full fizz. It's very cloudy and there's always some residue left over in the bottom of your pint glass. I assume that's because it hasn't been filtered like many of the beers you see in bars and grocery stores. That residue, however, is what provides the hoppy taste. So it's a-ok by me. ;)
All in all, Mr. Beer is a great kit for home brewing beginners. It isn't hard. The directions are easy to follow and the ingredients are provided. Like I said before, the most difficult part of the process is waiting. If you've got a little patience, home brewing can be very rewarding.
So, let's raise a pint of your favorite home brew and give cheers to my wife for providing the tastiest birthday present of all time.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
10. Camping is better than watching game 3 of Pens vs 'Canes. :)
9. Setting up a tent has gotten amazingly easy.
8. Wearing a shirt made by Field and Stream doesn't mean you know how to catch fish.
7. My wife makes awesome dip and tortellini salad.
6. Air mattresses are key to a good night's sleep in a tent.
5. A friend's violent puking outside your tent can wake up an entire campground.
4. The better the boat, the more fun it is.
3. The Fosters are some of the nicest people in the world.
2. No jet skiing is better than too much jet skiing.
1. The scenic route is never the fastest route... despite what the iPhone says.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
So, yeah. This was wedding number 3 of 8 in 2009. We love it, though. Weddings are so much fun. You get to hang out with friends and family, eat very tasty food and maybe, just maybe... have a couple beers. Heheh.
Anyway, we got up early Saturday morning and headed west to Columbus. It was a rainy drive, but an easy one. We arrived in town around noon. The wedding wasn't until 6:30, so we'd planned on having a nice lunch and doing a little shopping. We headed to a gigantic, outdoor shopping village called Easton. We had lunch at the best chain restaurant in the history of the world... the Cheesecake Factory (stop laughing). And yeah, I had a piece of oreo cookie cheesecake. Can ya blame a brother? We then stopped in at Crate and Barrel and Trader Joes. We picked up some organic pasta and some "Two Buck Chuck". I'll blog more about "Two Buck Chuck" later.
Our bellies were full and so was the back of our Jeep, so we headed to our hotel in downtown Columbus. It was only 2 pm and we couldn't check in until 4. Luckily we ran into my aunt and uncle in the hotel lobby. They invited us up to their room while we waited for our room to be prepared. It was a great chance to chat and catch up with them while helping prepare some wedding favors and stealing cookies.
6:30 rolled around and we waltzed downstairs to the Scarlet and Grey Room for the wedding. It gave me the heebeejeebees to enter a room named for THE (barf) Ohio State University, but it was all good. There wasn't a hint of scarlet or grey anywhere. I kid, I kid! So anyway, after a little bit of camera confusion, the wedding started. My cousin looked great in her wedding dress and her husband-to-be was smiling from ear to ear. My uncle performed the ceremony and badaboom badabing, they were married.
The reception was in the same room as the wedding. So, for the next 2 or 3 hours, we danced, chatted, ate some quality food (I was extremely fond of the crabcakes) and had a few drinks. The afterparty was upstairs in the bride's suite. We just kinda sat around and relaxed. I got a chance to hang out with my grandfather and talk about old cars and his days as a kid living "up Osage"... something I hadn't done in a while and glad I got the opportunity to do. Slowly but surely people grew tired and headed back to their rooms to crash. I lasted until about 3:30 am (3 hours longer than my wife... heheh). After the fourth time I stuck my arm in the cheesecake sitting on the counter, I figured it was time to call it a night. Side note --- I just looked at my sport coat and it still has cheesecake on it.
We got up Sunday morning and helped everyone get organized and packed. It was time for brunch! We headed to the 94th Aero Squadron next to the Columbus airport. Here's a link: 94thaero.com. It was an interesting place. There were pictures, memorabilia and signs from WWI and WWII everywhere. I even learned that people in the military call the bathroom a "latrine." We had waffles, smoked salmon, garlic mashed potatoes and homemade macaroni and cheese. All-in-all, it was a great brunch. And most importantly, it allowed the entire family to hang out for an extra couple of hours.
After brunch we said our goodbyes and made our return trip to Charleston. It was an enjoyable weekend and like I've said before, I can't wait to do it again.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
I'm going with a spring/summer theme to match the current season. I hope the new look doesn't throw you off!
Edit 5-13-09: Ok... I couldn't handle the new colors. I've left the layout change, but returned the colors to maroon and grey.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Here's a picture from Luce Landing. This is the beach I mentioned in my previous post. To left is the Long Island Sound. On the other side of the sound was Connecticut. Like I said, it was pretty dreary and we couldn't see much.
Very New England-esque, right?
My wife's cousin was married last Saturday in Riverhead, NY. Riverhead is located in the middle of Long Island... about 65 miles east of New York City and 30 miles west of "the Hamptons." This is where the bride grew up.
We left Charleston at 7 Friday morning and arrived at New York's Laguardia Airport a little after 8. I really hate flying, but how nice is it to get from WV to NYC in an hour and twenty minutes? Anyway... the weather was so dreary in NYC that we couldn't even tell we landed there. We could have landed in the middle of a rainforest and we wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. We then picked up the rental car and drove through the rain to Riverhead. After a short stop at the hotel to pick up another of my wife's cousins, we headed to the shore to catch a quick glimpse of the beach. There really wasn't a lot to see. The air was rainy and dense. So it prevented us from getting a good view of our surroundings. We took a few pictures and headed off for lunch. We found a quaint little place called The Lobster Roll. I had a crab cake sandwich, some clam chowder and a local brew. It was solid, but nothing spectacular. We then headed to downtown Riverhead. After much deliberation, we decided to head into a little bar named Tweeds. We made friends with the piano player, the waiter and the owner. It turned out that Tweeds was a bison bar. They raise their own bison (we passed them graising in a field on the way to town). They butcher it and serve it in their bar.
Friday evening was the rehearsal dinner. It was on a golf course just on the other side of town. The bride and groom did all the normal bride and groom stuff while everyone else pigged out on some quality BBQ and fixin's. The drink of the night was the Mint Julip in honor of Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
Saturday was fun. Myself, my wife and two of her cousins headed east in search of Buzztime Trivia. The closest bar with Buzztime was 25 miles away. After a 30 minute drive we arrive only to find out the place was closed. No worries, though. There was a brewpub across the street that entertained for the next two hours with beer, food and sports. We're pretty easy to please.
Here's a link to the brewery: Brickhouse Brewery
After one of the fastest changes of clothes ever, we headed to the wedding. It was a pretty church and the sun managed to peak through the clouds during the ceremony (I think that was the only time the sun shined the entire weekend). It was traditional... stand up, sit down, pray, happy marriage time.
After a short break we headed to the reception at a vineyard. Wow. Just wow. I had seafood salad, sushi, cheese and crackers and more seafood salad. There was a pasta bar, a carving station and a fully stocked bar. I was having a blast. I overheard someone say, "Don't eat too much before the reception. You don't want to be too full for dinner." I was thinking to myself, "What the hell?" That's right, though. The reception had a reception. They do it up right on Long Island.
The REAL reception was even better. They had a great band with 4 different singers. The bridal party intros were studly... perhaps the best I've ever seen. The food was great. The bar was awesome. The music was perfect. We danced the entire time. There were even some dance solos that absolutely stole the show (I'm grinning from ear to ear as I think back to those performances). It was probably the most perfect reception I've ever seen.
Sunday morning was a little rough. What's a fellow supposed to do? We were on LONG FRICKIN' ISLAND. So I had a few too many long island iced teas at the reception. Lucky for me there was a greasy, hearty breakfast at the hotel courtesy of the bride's parents. That seemed to take care of the post wedding hangover. We then headed back toward NYC, stopping midway at Houlihan's to play some Buzztime Trivia. And yes, this time the establishment was open. We played a few games, had lunch and headed for the airports. My wife's cousins were leaving from JFK and we were leaving from Laguardia. Driving around, to and from those airports was quite the experience. But thanks to our good friend TomTom, we only took one wrong turn.
We arrived back home Sunday night at ten. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but it was a blast. It's now Tuesday evening and I think I'm finally recovered from the trip. I'm looking forward to doing it again!