My New Favorite Thing: Gose (Rhymes with Rosa…)

Sips, Tuesday Revews-Day

It’s been a while since I’ve done a bevvies post, but that’s about to change: I have a new favorite thing and I just have to share about it!

It all started with a trip to Thomasville’s new watering hole: Hubs and Hops in the old Bacchus location on W Jackson…

Where I and my companion each ordered tasting flights…

Now I’ve become quite the fan of the tasting flights at Sweet Grass Dairy and have been broadening my craft beer horizons over the last several months to very pleasant results. I’ve learned that I’ll love anything that’s a Nitro; that my preferences are still all over the place as I adore both the lighter, fruitier beers as well as the heavier stouts; and that craft beers don’t give me the headache I usually get after a beer or two from the more traditional offerings. Go figure, right?

But there was something on Hubs and Hops’ menu that I was curious about, as were my companions, so we decided to order a pint of the Gose for the table…

The server was a little fuzzy on just what a gose was, so we ended up looking it up: it’s a sour beer of German origin that’s a little lemony and salty. I adored it! (So it was no hardship when my tablemates took a hard pass on it!)

A couple weeks later we were at AJ Moonspin and low and behold they had a gose on tap as well, so I had to give it another go to see if it was the three mini-beers I’d had prior that were confusing my taste buds or not.

Nope! I still loved it! So much so that I went hunting for it at Three Oaks Liquor this weekend to get some for home and–after confusing the first guy at the counter when I asked if they carried it–another guy was super helpful and pointed out the four brands they carried and which one seemed to get the highest marks (Westbrook Brewing Co), though I plan to go back and grab a couple others when I finish these.

Basically, it’s what I thought a Shandy would taste like back when I was introduced to them 4 years ago and ended up disappointed at the overall lack of flavor. (And when I said that to the liquor store gent he was like, oh, you really do like the sour… yup!)

Apparently the sour comes mainly from coriander and the salt–while usually added in the modern brews–goes back to the original brew however many centuries ago in Germany where there was a considerable amount of salt deposits in the ground, and therefore the groundwater was a smidgen on the salty side so the resulting beer was as well. The style died out somewhere between WWI and WWII, was revived mid-centuryish and faded back again, only to be revisted again during the current craft beer trend.

I don’t know how long gose will stay readily available, I can certainly understand that many would not cotton to it, but I’ll be happily consuming it while it lasts! If you like sour and salty, definitely seek some out and give it a go. Let me know what you think, too, I’m always curious!


Another Trip Around the Sun

Everyday Adventures

I’m grateful I survived!

Okay, this year hasn’t been that bad, my survival was never truly in question after all, but it’s been trying on all sorts of levels.

My 41st birthday weekend started Friday morning with cupcakes and a balloon from my boss and the Rose Festival parade that night. We didn’t stay for the street dance this year, but we still had fun. And Duncan was very good throughout the whole parade.

Saturday morning we met up with friends for Art in the Park and had a good time hanging out and wandering around Paradise Park before heading to the Farmer’s Daughter Vineyard tasting room for wine and cheese and more catching up.

And then, Saturday night, we had tickets to The Secret Garden,: The Musical, put on by TOSAC. I was so incredibly impressed by everyone on stage and totally got choked up at the ending. I love the local theater company anyway (and you cannot beat the $15 ticket price!) and wish I had time to volunteer to help with costumes or sets or something. Maybe some day.

On Sunday, my actual birthday, we met up with Mom at Kiku for sushi. Apparently they have a Sunday Brunch special, who knew?! We hadn’t been there in ages (as is the case for most of our old haunts in Tallahassee)!

Since lunch was kinda late we decided not to do anything specific for supper, instead we picked up cake and cupcakes from Publix (because I couldn’t make up my mind) and snacked our way through the evening.

All in all, not a bad way to turn 41!

I have high hopes for my 42nd year on earth: less stress, more crafting, and new experiences are topping the list.

Up a Tree With a Knitting Needle

In The Studio

Plus a crochet hook, some upholstery needles, and a pair of wire snips.


For the past few weeks, when I wasn’t at work, sleeping, or eating, I’ve been scrambling to finish the major project I started back in July: the Furry & Feathered Wildlife Yarn Bomb in conjunction with this year’s Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival.


While I was certainly on a knitting kick when I started the pieces, I think I’ll be abstaining from fiber work for a little while–I’m all fibered out!

Speaking of pieces, for the curious, here’s what went into the tree (and the patterns I used, for those inclined to try them out):

  • 15 Banana Leaves (adapted from CraftSide)
  • 2 Knit Monkeys (adapted from Alan Dart’s Chimps’ Tea Party)
  • 11 Bananas (also from the Chimps’ Tea Party, linked above)
  • 1 Crochet Monkey (from
  • 1 Parrot (from Knitted Pets–affiliate link)
  • 3 Crochet Butterflies (the large ones from
  • 7 Knit Flowers (from Little Miss Stitcher)
  • Plus various “vines” (no pattern needed, just single crochet over battery-powered LED strands or randomly knotted lengths of yarns)


I have no idea how many hours went into the above. I know each leaf, for instance, took two Criminal Minds, aka an hour and a half, but that it took more than a week of knitting every night after supper to complete the medium-sized monkey, closer to two for the large, but only a concentrated day for the small, crocheted one (and I was running out of time by then, so it was a godsend to be able to switch styles for him). I can say, however, that it took a little over 7 hours to install the pieces and parts onto my assigned tree over two evenings and a morning.


And when I was finished and had a break before the opening events actually started? I had no idea what to do with myself.

It’s not like I didn’t have anything to do–I’ve been putting off all sorts of things (including vlogging) for weeks. I decided to putter around on the internet for a while, watch a couple of episodes of The Crown, and start working on this post.


Around five o’clock I fed the dog and walked back to downtown (where Todd would meet me after he got off work) to see all the finished trees, the Re-Wilding exhibit and, super important, the party at Bacchus where the winners would be announced.

There were 4 known prizes, Best in Show, 1st, 2nd, and an honorable mention, with cash prizes ranges from $1500 to $250. When it came time to announce the winners, of course everyone was hoping for that top prize, but they actually started out by saying…

We’re actually gonna give an extra award that we don’t have a ribbon for because we struggled with it as judges…So the first award (it doesn’t have an envelope or a ribbon but you will receive one) is the Judge’s Choice for Technical Execution.

And then they called my name.

Now, I could be bummed about not winning one of the announced prizes [or even by not having a ribbon and envelope, considering the prize was created on the spot and I’ll learn later what the actual prize I won will be (aside from the bragging rights)] but I’m not bummed at all. Because to be one of the 5 artists (or teams of artists, most trees were completed by 2 or more people) recognized instead of the 18 or so that were not? Yeah, I’ll take it. Technical merit is not a dirty designation in my book. I’m a good knitter, I’m a technically adept artist. “Flawless execution” is an accolade I will take with pride because it matches my detail-oriented style of creativity. I thrive on the minutiae. It’s the right and left brains working together.

The other reason I’m pleased as punch is that, walking around to the other trees, I never had a moment of ‘oh, man, I should have done something like that!’

No regrets. I had a clear vision going into the project of how I wanted my tree to look and the finished tree looked a helluva lot like my concept sketch. Back when I decorated cakes I was always impressed when the finished cake matched what I’d seen in my head. That awe and satisfaction haven’t changed, no matter the medium. Plus I received a slew of compliments from other artists and people taking in the scene during the art walk, what have I to complain about?!

And who did those prizes go to?


Honorable Mention: Invasive Plant and Animal Species


2nd Place: Holiday Feast


1st Place: Twelve Days of Christmas


Best in Show: Spirit of the Wolf


The Great Eyelash Yarn Shortage of 2016

In The Studio

I have some leeway in my evening schedule this week, thanks to it being Todd’s turn to cook. Wohoo! Still loving this arrangement we started back when we first moved in together, way back in 2009. I don’t have any projects due in the next week, which means I could actually work on something just for fun. Except for the very large project that is the Yarm Bomb due in November.

But November’s a long ways away, right?

Sure, but there are a lot of pieces going into this project and I need to knit hay while the sun shines. Or something to that effect… (I do have a portion that involves crocheting with hemp, though no hay will be knit for my submission.)

And suddenly I realize that I may not have mentioned this project at all, tumbleweeds on the blog as they were for a while.

So… Thomasville Center for the Arts is doing an Art in the Open competition this fall, to coincide with Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, and the theme is Furry and Feathered. Teams of up to 3 fiber arts will be yarn bombing the crepe myrtles along W Jackson St with proper cash prizes on the line!

If you guessed that there might be monkeys on the tree I’m decorating you’d have guessed correctly. My original plan includes 3 monkeys, one parrot, several butterflies, some flowering vines, and a hellovalotta banana leaves. Some of the yarn is being provided by the local yarn shop, but it won’t be in for a few more weeks, and that’s what I plan to knit the banana leaves out of, so I’ve been working in the characters.


The parrot is more or less complete, though I feel like he needs a little something, maybe some plumage on top of his head? He’s mostly made of recycled sari silk that I’ve had in my yarn stash for ages. I had to order in the yarn for the monkeys, though, since I was going to need a bunch, and then had a merry time finding the last few skeins of eyelash/fun fur novelty yarn in some shade of dark brown to give the monkeys a bit more interest. Seriously, there’s a shortage of brown fun-fur yarn out there for some reason that I just cannot fathom. My supplier only had one skein to send me, the other supplier had none, the usual online suspects were no help, neither were JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels. Finally, on the bottom shelf at Hobby Lobby, I found three skeins of the stuff on Saturday.

Persistence pays off.

So now my monkeys can live up to their furry expectations.

Meanwhile, I also want to get caught up on the vlogs–I’ve got two weekends to edit and I want to do an August Favorites video, as well. I think that should just about fill up the week and weekend, then, when it’ll be time to start on my next design team project!

What projects do you have going on right now?


A Hawaii Five-0 Milestone Birthday Luau!


We had so much fun this weekend!

Post-Party Selfie

Post-Party Selfie

One thing about Todd is that, while he doesn’t mind celebrating mine or anyone else’s birthday, he’s not what you would call enthusiastic about celebrating his own birthday. Which is why I was so surprised when he told me, one night before bed, that he thought of the perfect theme for his 50th birthday: his Hawaii 5-0!

Anyone up for a luau?

Setting the Scene

Oriental Trading was kind enough to send me a box of goodies for the party, including leis, decorations, and tableware. I combined them with items I’d saved from a previous promotion (long-time readers may recall the Avocado party from 2013) and beach-themed items I’d stowed away after a wedding shower I threw in 2010.

Now, I’m not necessarily thumbing my nose at the de-cluttering movement but, well, maybe I am a little. There’s a lot to be said for hanging on to decorations and party supplies (even through 2 moves) because you just don’t know when you’ll be able to use them again. And if I’d had to start over from scratch? Oof! (Did you know I “broke up with” FlyLady back in the day when she suggested we cull any craft supplies we hadn’t used in 6 months?) The important thing is how you store it! I keep decor items in bins organized by color, so for this party I knew I could grab beachy items from the blue bin and utensils and other decor from the green bin.

So I took the new stuff from Oriental Trading and combined it with my decor stashes to decorate our dining room and entryway fit for a luau.

Perfect use for a coat tree when the weather warms up? I think so!

Perfect use for a coat tree when the weather warms up? I think so!

To be ready to greet our guests, I draped the leis over the newel post and on our coat tree so I could deck them in flowers as soon as they arrived.

I once read in a mid-century party guide that the perfect hostess greets her guests at the door, takes their coat, and offers them a drink. While it might be old fashioned, is it really all that bad an idea? The problem comes when the drinks cart is two rooms away from the door, so I thought it might be worth a try setting up a drink station in our main hall.

A two-tier beverage station ready to go!

A two-tier beverage station ready to go!

Our console table was just the right size to hold a punch bowl, glasses, and two pitchers, and the inflatable canoe cooler from Oriental Trading snugged right underneath to hold cold beers. Not only was it convenient to offer guests a drink as they entered, it kept the party moving around the house a little more than if everything were in the dining room (the way we usually do it). Along with the leis from Oriental Trading, I also received some hibiscus hair clips that I hooked to the netting on the table as decoration until our guests arrived and claimed them for their own. It was a great way to have them handy without just having them in a pile somewhere!

Speaking of keeping people moving, there is some debate on whether it’s a good idea to have seating available or not (to encourage folks to mingle). It depends largely on the type of party I’m throwing, but for the luau I knew people would want to sit and enjoy their food, not have to juggle their plate and drink.

Our guests appreciated the place to put down their drink and plate and relax.

Our guests appreciated the place to put down their drink and plate and relax.


I took the chairs from around the dining room table and dispersed them through the library and living rooms with some small, wooden folding tables. We also had seating available out on the front porch for anyone who wanted to enjoy the beautiful day it turned into (despite predictions of all-day rain).

These palm trees were a quick way to really give the room a luau vibe.

These palm trees were a quick way to really give the room a luau vibe.

In the dining room I decorated our windows with these fabulous foil palm trees. They’re meant to hang from the centers but it was no problem to rearrange the fronds and hook them over the curtain rods. The looked fabulous with our gold curtains and the cheeky little sun hanging between them was just plain fun!

Just because it's off to the side, I didn't want to neglect the mantle for decorating potential.

Just because it’s off to the side, I didn’t want to neglect the mantle for decorating potential.

The dining room mantle featured cotton netting, seashells, and beach glass from my stash, and those charming tin lanterns are from Oriental Trading from a few years ago (similar ones can still be found on their site in white). That’s the great thing about a luau theme, bright colors and beachy items all work together seamlessly!

A Little Mood Music

While I wasn’t too worried about providing entertainment–I’ve learned that guests are quite capable of entertaining themselves and each other when the right atmosphere is provided–I did want to add a little something to the background.

As an Amazon Prime member I’ve really been enjoying the albums and playlists available through Amazon Music at no extra cost. For the party I put together a playlist featuring Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (aka Iz), the Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, and even a little Bob Marley. They also had several classic hula and luau albums I selected some songs from. All told it was about 3 hours worth of music and I set up my Kindle tablet and a small portable speaker in the hallway.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a way to share the playlist, but if you’re a Prime member and haven’t checked out their streaming services, I’d definitely recommend it!

The Menu

The shining star of the luau, of course, is the food! After all, a luau is a feast first and foremost, and I got a lot of help with my menu planning from The Polynesian Cultural Center.

What everyone looks forward to: the food!

What everyone looks forward to: the food!

Roast Pig
King’s Hawaiian Rolls
Condiments (Mayo, Grainy Mustard, BBQ Sauce)

Hawaiian Chicken Legs
Lomilomi Salmon
Sweet Leilani Luau Salad
Potato Salad

Hawaiian Cheese Dip
Assorted Crackers
Fruit Tray

Banana Pudding
Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Luau Punch
Sweet Tea
Sparkling Hibiscus Berry Tea
Beer and Soda

A whole pig is synonymous with a luau and it was the first thing I knew we needed. Now, I considered doing the pig myself and looked into multiple ways but, thankfully, came to my senses and called our favorite local barbecue joint to see if they would be willing and able to handle the roasting duties for us. Man, did they delivery!

That's some pig!

That’s some pig!

Not only did Fallin’s source and smoke a whole pig for us and the owner, John, delivered in on Saturday afternoon, they did it for an amazing price, too. There was no need to carve the pork, once you peeled back the skin it just came off in pieces with tongs. And the flavor was amazing. Our guests unanimously agreed that it was delicious–not too much smoke, just right. Of course, this is just one of the many reasons we love Fallin’s, but it’s a big one!

Preparing the Lomilomi Salmon the day before gave the flavors time to mingle.

The napkins from OTC coordinated nicely with the plates we purchased at Sam’s Club.

I’d taken Friday off of work so I could prep as many of the dishes as possible and not have to rush before the party started at 2pm. It helps that a lot of the side dishes were meant to be served cold or had components that could be put together and combined just before the party.

Those chicken legs... wow!

Those chicken legs… wow!

The Hawaiian Chicken Legs were a particular hit, and it’s all thanks to marinating them overnight. I did tweak the recipe just a little bit as I had a surfeit of pineapple juice and, unfortunately, Kikoman soy sauce which the recipe originator claimed too salty for the job. So I improvised with 3/4 c of soy sauce, 3/4 c of water, and 3/4 c pineapple juice per batch. Between that, the brown sugar, and the coconut milk, the chicken turned out the best I’ve ever made.

The fresh pineapple in the Sweet Leilani Luau Salad worked to marinate the rest of the vegetables overnight, then I added the actual dressing about 15 minutes before combining it with the quinoa I made in the rice cooked just before the party.

The fresh pineapple in the Sweet Leilani Luau Salad worked to marinate the rest of the vegetables overnight, then I added the actual dressing about 15 minutes before combining it with the quinoa I made in the rice cooked just before the party.

Another favorite was our vegetarian main dish option: the Sweet Leilani Luau Salad. Quinoa, vegetables, and pineapple with a light dressing of soy sauce and lime juice. Even though most of our friends and family are omnivores, we do have some vegetarians in our crowd and I try to always accommodate their needs with more than a side dish or vegetable platter.

There was one slight mishap with the menu: the Banana Pudding. I’ve made cooked vanilla custard many times with nary an issue, but this time it just didn’t gel. It looked like it was right when I took it off the heat to cool, but after a night in the fridge it was just as liquid as when it went in. Maybe even more so! And baking it long enough to brown the meringue topping didn’t magically pull it together.

But when something like this happens right before the party you just have to roll with it. After all, I knew the components were good, so I put out extra cups and a ladle and the first pan was empty by the end of the party. If you’ve ever had Floating Islands (meringue in a pool of thin vanilla custard sauce), this was a lot like that, but with banana slices and Nila Wafers.

The Pineapple Upside Down Cakes were a big hit!

The Pineapple Upside Down Cakes were a big hit!

But it also didn’t hurt that I’d made a second dessert, as well. Options are a good thing and the mini-Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes might have been the single most time consuming dish of the party (pineapple rings don’t fit into the bottoms of muffin tins, so each little piece of pineapple was trimmed and placed individually, for all 36 cakes) but it was so worth it once I actually tasted one.

While I used the linked recipe for the inspiration, I subbed a Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake mix for reliability and used pineapple juice in place of the water the instructions called for on the box. Another thing to know is that you really need to saturate your cupcake liners with pan spray before filling them to ensure the brown sugar mixture and the cake do not permanently bond to the liners and make a big mess when you unmold them shortly after they come out of the oven.

The End Result

Another view of the buffet, just because.

Another view of the buffet, just because.

Todd and our guests had a wonderful time. Fewer people than expected showed up so we definitely didn’t run out of food (and I won’t have to cook much of anything for the first few days of the week, at least). We showed the house to the few folks who hadn’t been there before, everyone ate their fill and spent some quality time chatting in the library, living room, and on the front porch enjoying the cool breezes and sunshine.

Todd’s dad came into town from Nebraska for the weekend and helped get the bathroom into shape before our guests arrived–they even squeezed in a Lowe’s run Saturday morning after breakfast! We had a nice visit with him before he headed back to the Midwest on Sunday afternoon.

Big thanks to Oriental Trading for providing the decorations and huge props to Fallin’s Barbecue for taking on the pig roast duties. I will faithfully recommend both for their outstanding customer service and products to anyone who asks (and plenty who don’t, truth be told).

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We’re linking up with the Get It Together Link Party this week!

Sunny Sweet Days