Sunday, August 31, 2014

One of my first posts on this blog was a love note to my nephew who had just turned one. He was my everything back then. He changed the way I saw the world, he changed the way my family interacted with each other -- he changed everything. And here we are. He's turning 5 years old today. He started kindergarten last week & has already been given awards and such. (He's apparently so tired when he gets home, he'll only ever tell part of his day before excusing himself from the conversation.)

This kid is just the best. I love him beyond words. It's been a tough year in his life. His house burned down & they had to start from scratch. But the community supported Danzig & his family and they're in a good place right now.

As I've done since birthday number one, here's a quick look back at the life of Danzig...

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

August 2014

Happy birthday, Danzig! I hope it's the best. 

First | Second | Third | Fourth birthday picture recap

Friday, August 29, 2014

At the beginning of August, I set out to the Pacific Northwest with my mom & sisters in tow to explore the city of Seattle. This was my second time in the PNW - I went to Porltand last May & fell in love with that quirky town. Seattle wasn't at all what I was expecting -- it didn't rain once the whole time we were there -- but it was beautiful and so much fun to expolore. We had great food, went on great adventures and I'm extremely glad I had the opportunity to go.

Here's a few shots from my time in Seattle, and a list of where we ate & explored. Click the link to the full gallery at the end of the post for even more pictures of my PNW adventure....

Here's most of the places we went while in Seattle... 

Coffee:

  • Voxx Coffee - Cute neighborhood (right around the corner from where we stayed) and pretty good coffee. Great for watching locals run to and from work.
  • Analog Coffee - Definitely the most hipster place we went to all trip. I loved this place. The coffee & donuts were great. I loved the capital hill neighborhood.
  • Blackbird Bakery - This was a quick in & out once we got to Bainbridge Island. I wish I was hungry because their pastries looked incredible.
  • Cafe Cesura - We stopped here on the way out to the winery. The coffee was really good, but the atmosphere was a little cold & formal. But if you're in Bellevue, it's good for the area.

Drinks/Dinner:

  • List - This place was amazing. Four of us shared nine small plates. We had a few cocktails. All amazing. They just get packed really quickly & are a tiny place. So go early.
  • Canon - If I had to pick a dream spot, this would be it. It was pricey & made my family a bit uncomfortable (a little too uppity for their tastes) but I was in heaven. I threatened to stay there alone while everyone continued on. But, sadly, I wasn't in Seattle only for cocktails. Maybe next trip.
  • Von Trapps (now called Rhein Haus) - This was so much fun! Beer. Indoor bocce ball courts. And great sausage. We celebrated my mom's birthday here & it was the perfect pick.
  • Molly Moon's Ice Cream - Goodness. Best ice cream I've ever had. I picked up a lavender lemon flavor, while my mom got the salted caramel, which was incredible. Totally worth finding.
  • Eastlake Bar & Grill - So while this wasn't my favorite spot ever, the view was amazing & it was down the block from where we stayed. If it's convenient to go sit on a patio by the water & drink cocktails, I'm all in!
  • The Crumpet Shop - While I wasn't really a fan of Pike's Peak Market (way too many people!), this crumpet shop made up for it. They were amazing & I left wishing I'd ordered a second one.
  • Rachel's Ginger Beer - The second spot in Pike's Peak Market that made the crowds worthwhile. I almost brought a few gallons home, but sadly they had to be refrigerated.
  • Quinn's Pub - We finished our last night in Seattle here & it was hands down my favorite place of the trip. The cocktails were insane. The food was exquisite. And I loved the neighborhood it was in. Totally worth checking out.

Playing Tourist:

  • Bainbridge Ferry/Bainbridge Island - This was an almost all-day excursion but it was so worth it. The ferry ride was really fun & the island was beautiful to explore! It was great to see more of Washington than just the city of Seattle.
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery - My mom visited here a few years back & insisted we drive out to take a tour. And I'm so glad she did. It was lovely! Instead of the traditional winery tour, we opted for the garden tour, which gave us a more intimate look at the grounds surrounding the winery. That was a good choice.
  • University of Washington - My sister Dana is headed to grad school next fall to get her Masters/Ph.D. in Classics and Latin. U of W has one of the best programs around, so we snuck into the classics building, listened in on a class & even snuck into an empty classroom for a bit. The campus was gorgeous & I'm really hoping she gets in. I'd definitely visit her all the time.
  • Freemont Troll - Ok. So this wasn't exactly the best use of our time. But it was close to the University & we just had to. It was hilarious.
  • Moss Bay (Kayaking) - This may have been my favorite non-touristy (kind of) thing we did. I'm not usually an adventurous type, but something about kayaking under sea planes landing and taking off just sat right with me. And these guys were super nice & a great place to rent from!
  • EMP Museum - Of the super touristy things we did, this was my favorite. The museum was quirky & had so many interesting artifacts and hands-on exhibits. It was a little pricey, but a great way to spend a few hours.
  • Space Needle - One cannot go to Seattle for the first time without going to the Space Needle. It was a little cheesy & crowded, but the view of course was gorgeous & I would have kicked myself for missing it.

And that's all from Seattle. I'm headed to Chicago (one of my favorite cities ever) at the end of September... let me know if you have any suggestions. It'll be my first time there without family. So I get to do more "me" things ;)

Check out more pictures in the gallery (click the button below...)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Welcome to the first installment of a new series that I hope you'll look forward to reading as much as I'm looking to creating: Brunch Your Way Through the SEC.

During each of Texas A&M's conference games, I'll be posting a brunch recipe and complementary cocktail for us all to enjoy. The recipes won't be your typical tailgate fare. I'm classing these up to bring a little extra fancy to our everyday lives. And really what's not to love? Brunch and cocktails is pretty much the best combination around. Get a group of friends together & celebrate your weekend!

This Thursday, Texas A&M will take on South Carolina in the first ever match on the SEC Network. It's going to be a tough game, for sure. I can't stop thinking about it & have been driving myself crazy with excitement.

This dish is inspired by the state fruit of South Carolina - peaches - and the breakfast food of the south - grits. It's a fairly easy recipe to put together and it can all be done in less than 30 minutes. May I suggest pouring yourself a Summer Peach Punch before pulling the pots & pans out? That way you'll be ready for a second cocktail before brunch is even served. At least that's what I do...

Summer Peach Punch

{ View the recipe on Fueled by Cocktails }

A simple and smooth blend of peaches, grapefruit vodka and rum. It goes down smooth and leaves you wanting another.

What you need to make it: Peaches. Rum. Triple Sec. Cranberry Juice. Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka. And honey.

Tools needed: Muddler. Mixing glass. Hawthorne Strainer. Crushed Ice.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 peach, peeled & cut into small pieces
  • 1 oz. Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Triple Sec
  • 1 oz. Cranberry Juice
  • 1 oz. Ruby Red Vodka
  • Honey, to taste

Serves 1

Directions

In a mixing glass, muddle peaches until mushy. Add rum & stir. Fill glass with ice and add remaining ingredients. Stir until chilled & strain into your drinking vessel. The more fun the glass, the better.

Use the honey to taste. If your peaches aren't quite ripe or sweet enough, add more honey. But try & let the peaches do the talking. It'll be better that way, I promise.

Thyme Polenta & Peach Chutney

While this is the south, I decided to switch out the more traditional choice of grits with polenta . This is for a variety of reasons, but polenta is just easier to elevate. When I make grits all I want is cheddar cheese & a stick of butter in it. With this polenta, instead, there's actually no use of fat in it. So while it's still corn, it's not terrible for you. The peach chutney, on the other hand, is as decadent as can be. The two balance each other out nicely. And the poached egg is just the runny yolk needed to make it a complete brunch dish.

Ingredients

  • 3 Peaches, Peeled & Cored
  • 1 TBS Butter
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 1/4 c. Honey
  • 1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 cup Polenta
  • 1 TBS Fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. Arugula

Serves 4

Directions

Step 1: Make Your Peach Chutney

Melt butter in a pan on high heat until browned & add red onions. Stir for 5-10 minutes until translucent. Add peaches and mix until warmed. Add honey, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper & salt to taste. Mix until fully combined and let simmer for 20 minutes on medium heat.

Step 2: Make Your Polenta

When the chutney has about 10 minutes to go, boil 3 cups water in a pot. Add polenta and stir slowly for about 5 minutes. Add thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Take off the heat & let cool slightly. You want it to set otherwise this will turn into a porridge meal. And where's the class in that?

Step 3: Poach Your Eggs

When the chutney & polenta are done, then you can poach your eggs. Don't be tempted to do this earlier. The eggs will get cold. That chutney & polenta will not. So be patiend and wait until now.

If you don't have a handy egg poacher like I do, here's a great tutorial on how to poach eggs.

Step 4: Put it all Together

On four plates, evenly distribute the arugula. Carefully and artfully spoon polenta onto plates. (This is where you can impress your friends and make fun designs. I stuck with circles because that's the extent of my culinary scultping. But you can make it into whatever shape you'd like!) Add the peach chutney to the plate. And then top with your egg.

Cheers! Here's to a great football season. And lots of amazing brunches in our future!!

View the gallery below to see even more pictures....

Monday, August 25, 2014

To say my heart turned away from this space for awhile is an obvious statement. Posts stopped coming naturally and after a few forced attempts at posting, I gave up. For the first time in over three years, blogging just wasn't a priority of mine.

That reality stung. I was heart broken from the loss of a passion. But I stepped back, knowing that forcing it wasn't making it any better. So I escaped into other projects. I escaped into the woods. And I escaped to Seattle. I allowed my mind to see daily occurences as memories and not just blog posts. It was so....nice. Being in one place without imaging how to recreate it allowed my inner creative self to get the rest it needed.

I sat in a coffee shop in Seattle, watching the business casual hipsters on their way to work, while I sipped a fabulous latte & enjoyed the cool breeze coming up from the lake just down the hill. And words suddenly had meaning again. I could see how writing and creating blog posts would fit back into my life. I wrote out a plan and have made it happen. I couldn't be more thrilled.

So that's where I've been. Resting. Experiencing. Dreaming.

So where am I going? That's something I've been trying to answer for a few months now. The first stop was a literal move in blogging platforms. I've been with Blogger since the start, but it wasn't where I wanted to be anymore. I wanted to control my own space and I wanted all my websites to be as streamlined as possible. So, I moved my blog into Drupal, which is what Fueled by Cocktails & my portfolio website are also on. The sites can "talk" to each other more, and I'm able to make each site mirror each other for a more cohesive online presence. (I'm still working on the other two sites...) So with the change in platforms came a little facelift for this blog. Hope you like it.

(PS: There's a Random button. Over on the sidebar there's a "Random" button. When pressed, it brings up one old post from my past. It's a fun way to jump around my site & get a feel for this blog. I've been obsessively pressing it and am always delighted by its results.)

I'll also be writing more about food & cocktails. Fueled by Cocktails is my passion project & I really want to share more of that passion with you. I originally intended to blog over at Fueled by Cocktails, but decided I wanted to keep all of my writing in one place. The Fueled by Cocktail website will be my recipe index, and this will be its story.

Finally, in the the attempt to allow my creative self the rest it needs (and to accomodate for the freelance gigs I've started to take on), I will be writing here a little less. But that will mean better quality posts, which is what we all want anyway.

So to those who have made it through the journey with me, you're the best! There's so much more to come & I hope you'll stick around.

Much love,
Amy xoxo

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



I've been slowly falling into the world of podcasts. It started innocently enough a few years ago with This American Life. It was popular, easy to access, referenced everywhere and something C really loved. Then I subscribed to The Moth, a direct result of listening to This American Life. And then came Democracy Now, which I listened to on my drive home, but I always tended to miss it so I just decided to bypass the radio altogether.

Podcasts bridge that gap between the times I can't focus on reading, but don't feel like listening to music. It fills moments with other's thoughts and words. They challenge me, intrigue me, frustrate me; make me laugh and make me cry. I've spent hours upon hours listening to podcasts and then even more hours talking to C about what we've heard.

Podcasts keep me up to date with current events and modern thought. They broaden my view of the world, by bringing stories from Afghanistan, reporters from Switzerland, interviews with Julian Assange and fictional tales from David Sedaris.

They've become the filler in my commute. The connection between me & the larger world.

After spending nearly a week in the car over the past two, I've listened through all my podcast subscriptions & decided to dive deeper into this world... and I went on a subscription spree. I added some popular, some informative, some sexy & flirtatious, some super specific to only a small crowd and some meant for everyone. It was really fun!

So now I have an iPhone full of podcasts and ears ready to listen. I'm looking forward to opening this little world up even more & seeing what I can find.

Are you a podcast listener? What's you're favorite? Tell me! ♥

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