Liebster Award!

liebster

I was just nominated for a Liebster Award!!!

What is this you ask?

“The Liebster Award is an award given to rising bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.”

I was nominated by the wonderful Lee from NoWheatNoWay! I have to thank you Lee for the nomination! CHECK HER OUT!

It is an honor to receive any recognition as a blogger, and what a fun, spirited award to be a part of! I am honestly still shocked when I get any likes, views, comments, or followers, and am so so appreciative of anyone that takes the time to even glance at my posts!

When nominated for a Liebster Award…there are a few rules:

1. You must thank the person that nominated you

2. Answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator

3. Pass on the award to 11 new recipients

4. Pose 11 new questions to your bloggers

The Questions:

1. What do you like most about blogging?

My fellow bloggers! The food they create, and the beer they brew and drink! I love exploring the blogosphere looking for new ideas. I am ALWAYS inspired! I love sharing my triumphs and my disasters, and getting feedback from my followers ( I still can’t believe I have followers) J

2. Describe your blog in three words.

Baking, brewing, yummm

3. What is your profession or what are you studying?

I teach special education preschool and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job ❤ I am so blessed to work with these amazing kiddos! I get to laugh and sing and dance around like a buffoon everyday and they think I am so cool. It’s the best.

4. What has been your all time favorite post to write or favorite topic to blog about?

My favorite topic to blog about is obviously BAKING! And I think my favorite post was my English Muffins! I was SO. PROUD. I had never attempted anything like this and they turned out beautifully and they were so delicious. YUM… I may have to make some more soon…

5. What is your favorite TV show?

THE WALKING DEAD, MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD… Basically AMC rocks my socks off. I also love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Workaholics…

6. Favorite film of all time?

I will have to stick with Nightmare Before Christmas on this one. I have watched it so so many times, though Moonstruck would be a close second… followed by Wayne’s World…

7. Do you have any hidden talents?

I’m pretty athletic. I don’t think people would expect that from me because I am usually a girly girl, but I played sports my whole life and I get super competitive and intense. Oh… and I usually win 😉

8. If The Doctor came right now where would you like to go in all of Time and Space?

I would go to Middle Earth and live in Rivendell…

9. You can only eat three things for the rest of your life, what are they?

CHOCOLATE, MUTTER PANEER, and… does BEER count?

10. What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Just. Keep. Blogging. Blog about what you love. Be passionate. Stay inspired. Keep fresh. And be INVOLVED in the blogging world! The more you explore, the easier it is to stay motivated. Be generous with your comments and share the love!

11. What can we expect to find on your blog in the near-future?

I swear… we WILL brew beer eventually. It is half of our name for Pete’s sake. Expect a new brew in the next two months and blogging about its progress!

MY NOMINEES!!!

Cook, Dine & Tinker

Hip Hip… Cakes

Food Flavor Fascination

Maggiesonebuttkitchen

The After School Chef

Brown Paper Belle

Jenna Makes Things

Sabhskitchn

Kat’s in the Kitchen

Paint Chips & Frosting

Twee-tea-licious

My Questions:

1.) What are 3 ingredients you could not live without?

2.) What is your favorite thing to blog about?

3.) What is your favorite post you have ever made?

4.) What is your least favorite post you have ever made?

5.) Why did you start blogging?

6.) What advice would you give a beginning blogger?

7.) What is your career / what are you going to school for?

8.) What is your favorite band of all time?

9.) Share something unusual about yourself 🙂

10.) If you could be anyone from Middle Earth, who would you be?

11.) What is on the horizon for you? What can we expect to see in your blog?

Thank you again Lee from NoWheatNoWay! I can’t wait to read everyone’s answers to my questions!!! Happy blogging!

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Sur la Table swag and an update

 

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Last month, I was so fortunate to have won a giveaway on the wonderful Uni Homemaker ‘s blog!

To commemorate her 100th post, Anne generously gave away a $50 Sur la Table gift certificate to one of her existing or new readers! There were many many who commented, liked, followed, and shared… AND I WON! Yay!

Here is what I got with my winnings:

  • Pearl Cake Stand
  • Le Creuset Heritage Soleil Loaf Pan
  • Pyrex Glass Measuring Bowl (can you believe I didn’t already own one?)
  • Poppy kitchen towel
  • Floral vintage-inspired kitchen towel

Of course, I contributed a little of my own funds for the entirely unnecessary (but man are they pretty) kitchen towels. I am a sucker for things that make me smile, so naturally I had to own these kitchen beauts.

I am so excited to start using my new goodies!

A HUGE THANK YOU again to Anne at Uni Homemaker !

As for the update portion of this post…

I have baked several things in the last week, I just have not gotten around to posting them yet, so look for them soon!

Soon to come: french silk pie (yum), sausage crescent squares (yum), and lemon meringue pie (yum, but fail).

STAY TUNED!!!

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March for Babies, for my niece Miss Opal Rose

This post will be a slight deviation from my normal baking posts. You have been warned.

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My adorable niece, Miss Opal Rose amazes us every day. She is literally a miracle baby.

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She was born at 23 weeks and 6 days.

She weighed 1 pound 6.7 ounces and was only 12 inches long!

She could literally fit in your hand (though we obviously could not touch her).

She was in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for a whopping 105 days! It seemed like an eternity, especially the first two months where her condition could change so drastically minute to minute. This was an intensely difficult time for my family, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Naturally, we cherish every second we have with our little Miss Opal Rose.

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She has since bloomed into a happy, healthy baby girl!

Just look at that face!

She is 16 months old and loving life!

She is meeting all of her (adjusted) developmental milestones and has only experienced minor complications.

However, there are many babies born prematurely who are not as fortunate as Miss Opal Rose. We saw it time and time again during Opal’s stay in the NICU.

I will be walking in the March of Dime’s March for Babies in Valparaiso, IN on April 28th. The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

I wanted to publish this post in the hopes that someone out there may read it and feel inspired to learn more about the March of Dimes, and to generate awareness of the struggles that can occur as a result of premature birth.

Please consider getting involved or donating to the March for Babies, so that other babies like Opal Rose can have the opportunity to live long, happy, and healthy lives.

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Here is my personal page, and here is my team page.

To learn more about the March of Dimes please click here.

Thank you!

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Winter Canada Trip

 

Back in Jan. we went on our annual trip to Canada to cut ice off the lake, which we store in the ice house for the summer. We also got in some hiking, snowshoeing and ice fishing. This was only the 2nd fish I’ve ever pulled through the ice, so I was pretty stoked.

Baking Bucket List

Here it is.

A declaration of my baking aspirations.

In black (or blue-ish gray) and white.

I will consider this ever-evolving list to be my baking road map. Leading me through the curves, over the hills, through the mountains, and around the bends of some of the most iconic and classic baking recipes.

I started this journey a month ago and already tackled my first loaf of bread, my first biscotti, and my first soft pretzels. I baked these things because they sounded good at the time, I had never made them before, and because I knew it would be a challenge. I baked many other things throughout the month, but these three posts stand out in my mind because I consider them personal accomplishments.

I don’t know what the next year will bring, but I will BRING IT WITH THE BAKING. That’s for damn sure.

I began yesterday compiling a bucket list of all the baking challenges I would love to attempt. I could only break the list down in to 5 categories:

Desserts/Pastries, Entrees, Appetizers/Side Dishes, Breads, and Miscellaneous

What else is there really?

My goal is to eventually complete the list successfully. SUCCESSFULLY being the operative word. I’m not just going to try to make Cannoli, realize it’s hard, have my shells crumble, then quit.

I WILL NAIL THOSE CANNOLI AND THEY WILL BE DELICIOUS.

Obviously my Desserts/Pastries category is the largest… and I am sure throughout the year it will continue growing as I continue learning. I’m sure all my categories will multiply throughout the coming year, but here is my first attempt at a Baking Bucket List.

Baking Bucket List

Desserts/ Pastries

Macaroons

Danish

Peanut Brittle

Cream Soda Toffee Cupcakes

Sticky Toffee Cake

Chocolate Babka

Sticky Buns

Cardamom Cookies

Cannoli

Cream Puffs

Peanut Butter Pie

Gulab Jamun

Scones

Apple Tarte

Entrees

Chicken Tikka Masala

Boeuf Bourguignon

Gnocchi

Appetizers/Side Dishes

French Onion Soup

Egg Rolls

Baked Beans

Breads

Plaited Bread

English Muffins

Pizza Dough

Bagels

Irish Soda Bread

Croissants

Baguette

Puff Pastry

Miscellaneous

Granola

Crepes

Crackers

Tortillas

Pasta

January: A Month in Review

Us at Winterfest!

Us at Winterfest!

The first month of my life as an amateur baker and blogger has come to an end, and I feel like I am just starting to get a handle on my new hobby.

I am starting to figure out how I’d like to present my baking adventures, what my ‘voice’ is, how often it is reasonable for me to post new recipes, and how to become more involved in this blogging world.

 I have begun planning things to bake including things that just sound yummy to personal challenges using ingredients that I had previously thought intimidating (yeast). Trust me if I only baked things that sounded good, I would constantly be posting chocolate chip cookies and cakes… I would gain 50 pounds in the next year… and this blog would be quite boring.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

 I began this adventure right after the holidays when I was staying with my family for a couple of weeks. My family is huge and they eat like pigs. Thinking of things to bake for them was a cinch. Plus there were two birthdays thrown in there back to back which made for perfect occasions to create a cake and cupcakes.

 However, now I am back to my normal life where it is just me and Wills, and baking for two has proven quite challenging.

I don’t want to bake too much of anything because it will spoil. I don’t want to bake anything too heavy or rich because I don’t want to totally wreck our waistlines. So…

A goal for the next month will be to plan more practical baking endeavors like breads and entrees, things that we would consume regardless of my new baking habit.

Photo taken at Crown Brewing, Crown Point, IN

Photo taken at Crown Brewing, Crown Point, IN

Another goal for February is to get our first batch of beer brewing!

Baking & Brewing. It’s half of our name for Christs sake! Our first batch will be an Amber, and I cannot wait to get Wills involved in this blog. We had a good time this month visiting new breweries and attending Winterfest in Indianapolis. We will continue posting about our adventures in craft beer!

 In case you missed any of my January posts here they are by category:

Breads

Classic White Bread

Soft Pretzels

Best-Ever Banana Bread

Soft Pretzels
Soft Pretzels

Cheese Rolls

Olive Garden Breadsticks

Muffins

Blueberry Cheese Muffins

Graham Streusel Lemon Muffins

Cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Cake

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Chocolate Chippers
Chocolate Chippers

Chocolate STOUT Cake

Cookies

Chocolate Chippers

Etc.

Pretzel Dogs

Buttermilk Pancakes

Swedish Cinnamon Biscotti

I am always looking for feedback or suggestions! Anything you’d like to see in February?

As always…

Swedish Cinnamon Biscotti

Swedish Cinnamon Biscotti

Enjoy!

Winterfest! (Indianapolis Brewfest)

Waiting in line for Winterfest!

Waiting in line for Winterfest!

WINTERFEST!

Saturday was Winterfest in Indianapolis, where 70 breweries from all over the country joined at the Indiana State Fair Grounds to pour out unlimited 3oz samplings of their most cherished brews. It is 3 hours of all-you-can-taste beer sampling.

Sounds like heaven, am I right?

This event was entirely sold out weeks ago, with the VIP tickets selling out extremely quickly. Knowing this fact, we set out for the fairgrounds donning our pretzel necklaces, aiming to get there early, get a good place in line, and be in the doors with a beer in our hands at 4:00 on the dot.

Oy Vey.

About a half mile of excited beer enthusiasts in front of us, about another half mile behind us. Envy doesn’t describe our feelings for those who had purchased VIP tickets who were already warm inside enjoying their larger glasses and early access. (We will definitely pay the extra for VIP next year)

Once inside, it was like thousands of adults in an adult candy store.

Sea of beer enthusiasts.

Sea of beer enthusiasts.

Hopping brewery to brewery, trying to sample everything, from everyone.

With each brewery offering an average of four options, this was just not humanly possible, but you could pick and choose those that sounded most delicious or interesting to you, and trust me there was something there for everyone.

From the Imperial Stout infused with Ghost Peppers from Zwanzigz, to the firkin tent, to the Komodo Drangonfly Black IPA from Upland, to the Double 574 Double IPA from Bare Hands Brewery, any beer lover would not have any trouble finding their new favorite beverage.

The trouble is always remembering it the next day 🙂

The classics such as Sum Nug from Shoreline Brewery, Alpha King from Three Floyds, Superfly from Oaken Barrel, and Amazon Princess from People’s did not disappoint when stacked against the other offerings.

To be expected it was intensely crowded, verging on uncomfortable at times, with lines for the bathrooms extending into the common area (for both sexes). However, the lines for samples were never too long and usually gave you just enough time to enjoy your previous sample before asking for another… and another… and another…

The breweries in attendance included:

Breweries from Indiana:

Upland
Fountain Square
People’s
Thr3e Wise Men
Rock Bottom
New Day

A little blurry, but here we are at Winterfest!

A little blurry, but here we are at Winterfest!

Iechyd Da
Daredevil
Crown
450 South
Zwanzigz
Flat 12 
Bier
New Albanian
Triton
Three Pints
Powerhouse
Hawcreek
Evil Czech
Bulldog
Back Road
Black Acre
Sun King
Bloomington
Mad Anthony
Turoni’s Main St.
Shoreline
Tin Man
Ram
Half Moon
Figure 8
Broad Ripple
Bare Hands
Cutters
Three Floyds
Barley Island
Brugge
Twisted Crew
Oaken Barrel
Great Crescent
Four Horsemen
Big Woods
Big Dawg
Union
Lafayette

Out of State Breweries:

Ace Hard Ciders
Mendocino
Boulder
Sixpoint
Sampling some fine brews.

Sampling some fine brews.

New Holland

North Coast
Tyranena
Founders
Finch’s
Lexington
Falls City
Country Boy
Against the Grain
Traveler
New Belgium
Sierra Nevada
Destihl
Victory
Bluegrass
Rivertown
Schlafly
Bell’s
Boston
New Albion

It was a great time with great people, and I don’t think there was a guest in attendance that walked away disappointed.

Next year, the VIP pass will be a must!

… and our pretzel necklaces will be more creative… I’m thinking a mini pretzel version of my Soft Pretzels recipe…….

BREWERIES!

Photo taken at Crown Brewing, Crown Point, IN

Photo taken at Crown Brewing, Crown Point, IN

It was about a year and a half ago when Wills and I discovered that we love craft beer… like we really really really LOVE craft beer.

North Peak Brewing Company, Traverse City, MI

North Peak Brewing Company, Traverse City, MI

For our 6 year anniversary we rented a cabin up in Traverse City, Michigan and while exploring the little downtown area, we decided to have lunch at North Peak Brewing Company.

We shared our first flight, a sample of five different brews, and we fell madly and deeply in love (with craft beer of course).

We had never heard of a flight or a snifter, a growler or a bomber, cask conditioned or bourbon barrel aged… we were seriously sheltered from this community of breweries and beer enthusiasts and we had a lot of ground to make up.

CHEERS!

CHEERS!

 

Wills decided last summer to make it a mission to visit as many Indiana breweries as possible or reasonable (though sometimes ‘reasonable’ was not a factor ).

His goal is to collect a growler from every brewery in Indiana so that when he has his ‘man cave’, or his own bar in our future home, he can adorn the walls with shelves of growlers from his home state.

The map below features all of the breweries we have visited thus far, and collected growlers from.Brewery Map 

People’s Brewing, Lafayette
Lafayette Brewing Company, Lafayette
Half Moon Brewery, Kokomo
Upland Brewing, Bloomington
Bloomington Brewing Company, Bloomington
Oaken Barrel Brewing, Greenwood
Crown Brewing, Crown Point
Powerhouse Brewing Company, Columbus
Big Woods Brewing, Nashville
Three Floyds Brewpub, Munster
Salt Creek Brewery, Bedford
Sun King Brewing Co., Indianapolis
Flat 12 Bierwerks, Indianapolis
Broadripple Brewpub, Indianapolis
Fountain Square Brewing Co., Indianapolis
Bier Brewery, Indianapolis
Shoreline Brewing, Michigan City
Figure 8 Brewery, Valparaiso

 

We also visited Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer, Michigan, and Northwoods Brewpub in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Greenbush Brewing Company, Sawyer, MI

Greenbush Brewing Company, Sawyer, MI

Not bad for one summer! It was like going on a mini adventure every weekend, and gave us something to look forward to!

Some were fantastic and worth the trip (Half Moon Brewery, Oaken Barrel Brewing), and others… hate to say it… but not so much (Bloomington Brewing Company, Broadripple Brewpub- like seriously is anyone here passionate about beer?).

 

 

Now, we have sampled brews from many Indiana breweries that are not on our list at the Beers Across the Wabash Brewfest and the Valpo Brewfest! Who doesn’t love a brewfest! All you can sample for three hours or so. Best. Idea. Ever. Can’t wait for Winterfest in a couple of weeks in Indianapolis!

Beers Across the Wabash

Beers Across the Wabash

There are about 50 breweries in Indiana according to the Brewers of Indiana Guild, and we will post as we continue to check breweries off the list, attend brewfests, and as Wills begins his own homebrewing adventure!

We’d love to hear about your experiences at Indiana Breweries as well!

Cheers!

Canadian Wilderness

The brewing portion of this blog will be stalled for a couple of weeks and here is why: 

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Wills family came to own an old railroad house, “Buck’s House” on Favel Lake in Ontario, Canada near Kenora. It’s an isolated little spot with only a few other cabins and houses on the compound and is accessible only by boat (in the Spring-Fall) or by train (in the Winter). No electricity, no running water, no phone, no BATHROOM.

Wills is getting ready to embark on his annual Winter trip up to Buck’s House to cut ice out of the lake, which is stored in the ice house. Why do they do this? So that the families visiting Favel Lake in the warmer months may have refrigeration to store their food items.

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And what does this craziness look like you might ask?

To the right is a picture of Wills, his dad, and my dad taking a break from shoveling off the lake. After they clear a spot on the lake, they drill a hole with an ice auger. Then they use these man-sized saws to cut blocks of ice from the lake, then huge pincers to heave the ice blocks from the water. Below is a photograph of the men in action. Oh look! There’s also a photograph of ME in action as well.

Canada 2Canada 5

 

Canada

That’s right, they got me to go on this trip a couple of years ago… It was quite the experience. Such an experience, I don’t think that repeating it would be necessary. Something about venturing out in to the wilderness to the outhouse when the temperature is -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

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I enjoyed the manual labor, the quiet, the isolation, and even at times the bone-chilling cold. It was truly a breathtaking sight to behold, miles of untouched wilderness covered in snow. Something I will always remember and may revisit from time to time… in my photographs…

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