Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Brew Crew Hits the Road (The Brew Crew Adventures, part II)

Picking up where we left off...

The next morning, it was time to begin part two of the adventure. We were headed for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, with a final destination of Ocracoke island. But any Carolina beer tour worth its salt should have a stop-off at The Duck-Rabbit in tiny ol' Farmville, NC. They're not actually equipped to handle regular visitors but I had heard that if you requested a tour and tasting in advance, they would try their best to accommodate you. And they did!

Just the way we like it, the tour lasted about five minutes and the tasting about an hour and a half. The brewmaster even popped out for a while and "tasted" with us. (Meaning, like the good British lad that he is, he downed a pint.) And they really pulled out all the stops. We got to taste a beer that had only just been bottled and hadn't been shipped to any stores yet. In effect, we were the first people outside of brewery employees to taste the Schwarzbier. BALLIN'. They see me drankin'....they hatin'.

The bottles were not enough for Libby. She jumped behind the counter when no one was looking and started pulling pints for one and all!

Bottoms up one more time!

As if The Duck-Rabbit guy hadn't already earned a gold star with us, he was also quite knowledgeable about local cuisine. He first suggested one place and then said "But if you want some reallllllllly good food, I'll tell you where to go." (As if anyone would answer that with "Nah, we're good. We'll just go with the first one you mentioned. Bye!") He warned us that A. - this place looks a bit scary as it's housed in an abandoned gas station and B. - "Y'all better get on because they ain't got no hours. They just cook up a bunch of bbq and when it's gone, they close up for the day."

We showed up and learned that this guy was no joke. No frills, no menu even. Just damn good food. Jason and I walked up to the little sliding window on the side of the building and a very large man stuck his head out and just looked at us. Jason was all "Uhhh...two please?" The guy's response was "Plates or dinners?". We had no idea what the difference was and this guy's demeanor didn't exactly invite inquiries so Jason told him "One of each I guess."

We ended up with dinners for the boys and plates for the girls. A "plate" means que, slaw, cornbread sticks and a ramekin of eastern nc sauce. A "dinner" is all that plus a side of smack your mama. Kidding. It was a side of the most delicious stewed potatoes you'll ever have. Took me right back to my great aunt Kate's kitchen. She used to make me stewed potatoes that would just melt right in your mouth. And taste so good they make you want to smack your mama.

We declared B's Barbecue a raging success and hit the road for our long driving stretch all the way to the coast.

Once we hit the OBX, we headed straight for Weeping Radish, trying to make it in the door for a quick taste before they closed up. We needn't have worried though as their posted hours seem to only be a general guideline. Ahhh, the beach life.

They evidently take their name quite literally, as were greeted by, well... by a giant weeping radish when we walked in.

Four flights, please!

After sampling all Weeping Radish had to offer and buying some goodies for grilling from their on-site proper German butcher, we made our way to our overnight accommodations. Libby is affiliated with a charitable organization that raises funds by having members open their homes as B&Bs and scored us a great deal for our one night in Kitty Hawk. After chatting with our hostess and dropping off our things, we headed out on yet another beer mission.

Our final sampling of the trip would be at Outer Banks Brewing Station. I'll fess up and say that I wimped out here and Diet Coked it up. Even a beer-loving gal gets beered out every now and then.

The coolest part of OBBS was their huge "back yard". (Can a restaurant/brewery have a back yard? Doesn't quite sound right but I don't know how else to put it.) It was chock full of picnic tables, adirondack chairs, corn hole sets, playground equipment, and even a small stage where some hippy played guitar and sang. The corn hole boards were calling. And damn if Team BLT didn't win.


Upon retiring to our B&B, our competitive spirits got the best of us again so we decided that a game of Scrabble was an excellent way to wind down the evening. (Settle down, party kids!! Amiright?) Well, you may be wondering how an intellectual's game such as Scrabble got us to the point that Scott was literally climbing the walls while Libby and our host cat cheered him on from below.

Well, Libby decided to challenge Jason on his use of ID as a word, on the basis that it's an abbreviation of a word and not a word in and of itself. Nary a single bar of service was to be found on any of our smartphones so our only hope was an old-fashioned pulp-and-spine dictionary...Webster's stylie. And Scott, ever the gentleman, offered to search the library shelves on Libby's behalf. Good thing he's not afraid of heights! (As an aside, I have always dreamed of having a wall of bookshelves and a rolling ladder. That night, a tiny part of my dream came true.)

For the record, Jason won the challenge and the game so I'll gladly jump on that gravy train and claim a win for Team Sanger.

It is here that our story shall pause once again. I know I promised you all sorts of things and only delivered on one but just think of all the wonderful tales you'll now have to look forward to in the conclusion to The Brew Crew Adventures!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Introducing...the BLTs (The Brew Crew Adventures, part I)

Technically, this isn't the BLTs first appearance here. (You may know them as Scott and Libby. Or the Tunes.) But I can't say they've had a proper introduction until now. This marked the first time the four of us got together with no hockey game to bind us. Plus, they didn't actually earn the BLT nickname until this trip. But more on that later.

The BLTs arrived in Raleigh after a couple of days on the road from New Jersey. And they were my favorite kind of house guests - the ones that show up bearing gifts! Having spent the day touring the campus at Duke, and knowing that Duke is the one and only team we have in common, they presented us with a Duke themed mini corn hole set. (It would come in handy when we had to wait for our ferry to Ocracoke.)

But first, we had promised Scott and Libby a mini NC brewery tour so we needed to get started. First up was Bull City Burger and Brewery, a pretty new brewpub in Durham. We were, however, stumped upon arrival.

If the door was not a door, what was it?? And how would we get in???? Was this some sort of existential riddle that we had to solve before they would let us at their burgers and brews????? Thankfully, no. It was just the entrance/exit for the Patty Wagon - their burger delivery service. (Which, by the by, I would love to be walking around downtown Durham one day and see somebody pulling a wagon filled with burgers.)

Luckily, we soon found a door that was indeed a door. And oh my sweet pimento cheese burger...what delights were to be found inside.

Beyond burgers and brews, another "b" awaited us - Bulls baseball. And after a slight rain delay, the game finally got underway. And though we had tons o' fun, the Bulls couldn't quite make the magic that night. Following is my twelve second summary of their performance:

Ohhhhhhhh noooooo. from heathers on Vimeo.

Thankfully, I was able to entertain our group with my Flashdance every time JJ Furmaniak came up to the plate. He's my favorite player, on name alone. "He's a Furmaniak, Furmaniak...on the field!" He even hit a home run so I put a little extra stank on that particular performance. (And if you think video of that exists, you're sorely mistaken.)

We got home that night and threw on the ol' MLB package via Apple TV to watch the Red Sox game but, between the rain delay in Boston and the extra innings, it got to be very late o'clock and none of us could make it past the 12th inning. So we vowed to pick it up in the morning; such is the beauty of Apple TV. Long story short, Sox lose in the 14th inning. I'm telling you all this because this is how the BLTs came to be.

You see, our history with the Tunes looks something like this:
Feb 2011 - Hurricanes vs. Devils (Hurricanes lose)
April 2011 - Hurricanes vs. Sabres (Hurricanes lose)
July 2011 - Bulls vs. Mud Hens (Bulls lose)
July 2011 - Red Sox vs. Royals (Sox lose)

Therefore, Jason declared them the Bad Luck Tunes...or BLTs for short. And the name stuck like gum on a shoe.

But the BLTs were here to stay and there was more Raleigh-ing to do. So we took them to Escazu, a local chocolatier.

I basically have no words to describe the aroma that overtakes you when you walk in. And as you can see, Escazu is also a feast for the eyes. Don't even get me started on the taste. It's a veritable assault on the senses! That is, if the word "assault" had a good connotation...

For our final Raleigh trick, we gathered up a small crowd for a private tour at our favorite local brewery, Big Boss. They even let us crawl all over the equipment!

But sadly, they were not so forthcoming with the ammunition bunker, which stayed decidedly locked.

Bottoms up!

We'll stop here for now, but fear not. The journey will continue as we make our way eastward across the state, beering and beaching. So get ready for such antics as Scott climbing a rolling library ladder in a total stranger's home, Jason accidentally stealing a bicycle, Libby and I doing tribal dances around a beach fire to avoid getting bitten by crabs and all of us acting like total fools while we put the camera on auto-click for 30 seconds.

Now that's what I call a teaser!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Two feels good

You may remember my despair over my weight back in the summer. If not, here's a small clip from this post:
Now. This photo. I have a love/hate relationship with this photo. Here's what I love about it: 1) the ocean and 2) the fam looking all gussied up. Here's what I hate about it: I look chubby. Which leads me to one more thing that I love about it: this was my wake-up call to get my ass back on Weight Watchers and lose the pounds I'd slowly accumulated over the last five years. Down 13 and counting. (Coming soon - skinny Heather, v2.0.)
Well, four and a half months post-photo, I am proud to say that I'm 20 lbs. down and only 6 to go before I hit my goal weight. At which point I will reward myself with new James jeans. It's been a dreary few years buying cheap "fat jeans"and, more recently, "my-old-jeans-are-falling-off-me-in-betweener jeans". But I gotta be honest, Old Navy cheapies or not...two feels pretty damn good.


(On another note, it's amazing what a few unexpected days off can do for your blogging motivation.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eight.

Eight years ago this evening, at precisely 7:30 pm, I was seconds from starting my walk down an aisle. An aisle at the end of which stood the love of my life, waiting patiently for no one else but me.

It was the least he could do. I waited six years for him to propose.



It was worth it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Super Nanny's Not Top Plays

See? This is why I didn't proclaim the Nutshell dead in my last post. I get these wild hairs... But this barely counts because this is an old old old post I wrote a long long long time ago. As in before we moved to Belgium. But since I'm about to take on a little one-day-a-week nannying gig, I recalled writing this and never posting it so I decided to dig it out and dust it off and try to pass it off as new content. So, without further ado, imagine me now throwing fistfuls of glitter into the air as a means to distract you from the fact that I wrote this in 2009:

As my nannyship has drawn to a close with my little charge starting pre-school, I feel it's time to reflect. Not upon those moments where I felt like I was really making a difference in a young child's life. But upon those moments where I really f*cked up. Because those are funnier. So, if I may borrow from my favorite segment on SportsCenter, I present my Not Top Plays:

Red or white?
She loves to play pretend cook so we're playing restaurant and I order a steak. She brings the plate over to me, and I say "Hmm, I need something to drink. What should I have?" She sets down a little goblet and says "Red wine or white wine?"

As a disclaimer, I would like to make it known that we were friends with this little girl's parents before she was ever born and when we get together, there is always wine. So she probably associates me and Jason with coming to her house and drinking up all their wine. (That actually wasn't much of a disclaimer considering it only served to further incriminate me.)

I hope it gives you help.
I typically tried to pay attention to what was on the radio when we were in the car because she loves music and loves to sing along so I didn't want her getting any naughty lyrics stuck in her head. For example, even though she loved Lady Gaga, I turned the station when the Disco Stick song came on because that's just disturbing coming from a 3.5 year old. (It's disturbing coming from Gaga, come to that.)

But one day... the sun was out, the windows were down, we were cruising along Ray Road and one of my favorite songs of the summer came on - Gives You Hell by All-American Rejects. And just for a moment, I forgot that this probably wasn't the best song for a pre-schooler considering it has a pretty catchy little chorus that repeats the word "hell" about 4,000 times.

That is, I forgot until I heard a little voice from the back seat. "Hope it gives you help, hope it gives you help." She thought they were saying help! Thank the lawd! Dodged a bullet on that one.

Oh no, please don't puke. 'Cause then I'll puke and...oh crap...
One day, we were heading back to her house for lunch and rest time and she was a bit pouty because she wanted to go to McDonald's for lunch and I said no since she had been a little sassy that morning. So when we got home and I gave her a few options for lunch, she begrudgingly chose mozzarella sticks. The pout-parade continued and she was basically dipping the mozzarella sticks in sauce and just licking the sauce off, over and over. Not to mention totally ignoring the fruit and veg on her plate.

So I told her she had to actually bite and chew and swallow some of her lunch, not just lick sauce off of it. She said she wasn't hungry. I told her she absolutely had to eat. She nibbled an ant-sized crumb of breading off the mozzarella stick and put it down. She commenced the quivering-lip-about-to-cry thing that kids are so good at. I told her this was not acceptable behavior, especially at the lunch table. So she started to cry in earnest.

I tell her that she has to eat abc amount of fruit, xyz amount of veg and at least one whole mozarella stick. She picks at the fruit, shoves the veg around and starts to eat the cheese. She takes a giant bite, way too big for her, and starts chewing away with her cheeks puffed out to the size of ping-pong balls. And then she starts to gag. And I'll just let you imagine how this one ended up.

Nordstrom or J. Crew?
It's no secret that I enjoy a bit of shopping every now and then. (A bit = a lot. Every now and then = as much as I possibly can.) So it was rather convenient that our preferred weekly story time location was Pottery Barn Kids, as PBKs are often in malls. It seems I used these mall outings as an excuse to have a quick look around my favorite stores a few too many times. One morning as we were getting ready to go to story time, I told her that we needed to go a little early because I had to go somewhere first. Her immediate response was "Nordstrom or J. Crew?"

Christmas is awesome.
Once I had to make a pitstop at my house to pick something up and she started to rifle through a stack of miscellaneous papers. In the stack happened to be one of those sound cards, featuring Michael Scott from The Office waxing poetic about the joys of Christmas. Of course she opened it and here's the quote that spilled forth:

"Christmas is awesome. First of all you got to spend time with people you love. Secondly, you can get drunk and no one can say anything. Third, you give presents. What's better than giving presents? And fourth, getting presents. So four things. Not bad for one day. It's really the greatest day of all time."

Thankfully, the only line that stuck with her was simply "Christmas is awesome." She thought that was a slice of comedic gold and repeated it over and over and over, completely cracking herself up.

To the Red Sox?
Everyone who's been reading here for any length of time knows that my passion for clothes and accessories is rivaled only by my passion for sports. So it's possible I may have made a few passing comments related to my favorite teams. Anyway, the final day of free agency in hockey is one of the most exciting/nerve-wracking days of the year for any diehard fan. I was keeping a close eye on Twitter for Hurricanes news and was getting very nervous that Erik Cole hadn't re-signed yet. I must have had a worried look on my face while checking my phone because she said "Ms. Heather, what's wrong?". I replied that I was sad because my favorite hockey player might be going to another team. Her reply?

"To the Red Sox?"

Back off, filthy child I don't know.
One of our regular activities was going to the NC Museum of Art for kids craft time. This was great because it exposed her to other children. This also sucked because it exposed me to other children. One of whom got a little too close for comfort. We're minding our own business, picking out bits of colored tissue paper for our butterfly and a particularly, shall I say, moist child approached me with her dirty face and wet (wet with what, I have no idea) hands outstretched...going right for my leather Kooba Sienna bag, asking "You have sumting in der for me to eat?" My instant reaction was to snatch my bag out of her reach and say "What?? Ew. No." The worst part? I didn't even feel bad. I had fine leather goods to protect.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heather Takes On: Everydamnthing

Folks, I have to be honest. I'm struggling here. I think I am well and truly over blogging. It's become a chore. An item on my to do list. And I'm pretty sure that's not what I intended when I started this thing. Part of me wants to officially call it. Time of death: October 2011. But the other part of me wonders if I'll get the taste for it again and then I'll just look like the foolish dramatic girl who can't make up her mind. So while I stew on whether or not this post will be the final nail in the Nutshell coffin...please enjoy this sampling of what goes on in my bitter, cynical little brain.

I'll have a tall skinny mochachino please.
I recently did my annual knickers shopping spree and noticed that the color assigned to one pair I picked out was "mochachino". Seriously? I really don't know how to feel about my intimate apparel having names that remind me of breakfast...or any other meal for that matter.

Shut up and drive.
I find that I always drive with the assumption that every other person on the road is an idiot. I'm rarely proved wrong.

What? You need an example? Fine.
Here are the fellow drivers I hate the most. You know when you're driving and one of the lanes is coming to an end (due to construction closures or whatever) and there are signs everywhere telling you the lane is ending and all the normal courteous drivers get in the lane that isn't ending and naturally that creates a bit of a backup but hey, that's life, get over it and while you're sitting there in your car a bunch of self-important jerks with no regard for others fly past you up to right where the lane actually ends and squeeze in ahead of everyone? I think there's a special circle of hell reserved for those people. And you know those idiots at the front of your not-ending lane who actually let the self-important jerks in? I might hate them even more.

OMG, I literally died.
Raise your hand if you've ever heard someone say something like "My heart was literally beating out of my chest." (No, it wasn't. If that happened, you'd literally be dead right now.) or "It literally took forever to get home from work today." (No, it didn't. If that were true, you'd literally still not be home yet.) or "There were literally a billion people at the mall on Saturday." (No, there weren't. That would be a fire hazard and also literally impossible.) I'm pretty sure these people literally don't know the literal meaning of the word literal. And that makes me angry.

Are you political-correctionally challenged?
Why do people think the correct term for all black people is African-American? Do those people have any idea how likely offensive that would be to a black person who (or whose ancestors) did not come from Africa, but instead from somewhere in the West Indies, like Jamaica, Grenada, Haiti or Trinidad and Tobego? It's like saying everyone who speaks Spanish is Mexican. Foolishness.

Questions, anyone?
Do I hate it when people answer a question by asking themselves a question and answering it? Yes. Does it drive me crazy when they do this over and over as part of a series in order to make a comparison? Absolutely. Is there anything I can do about it? Unfortunately, no.

Give it up for DJ Dumbass on the ones and twos.
Can anyone tell me why radio dj's exist? Seriously. Hey dj's, guess what - YOU COULD EASILY BE REPLACED BY A $250 iPOD ON SHUFFLE. No one wants to hear their inane chatter between songs. STFU already and just play "Single Ladies" again. GOD.*

*This one is a direct copy and paste from a recently-discovered, long-forgotten drafted blog post that got lost over the years. It's like a study in anthropology because a) this was clearly written before I had the luxury of satellite radio and b) hello..."Single Ladies"! I'll take Irrelevant Pop Culture References for $500, Alex.