Ultimate Beer Lover’s Happy Hour [Giveaway]

Ultimate Beer Lover's Happy HourOktoberfest officially comes to an end this week, but that doesn’t mean I won’t find an excuse to prolong the beer festivities. We are on our way to New Mexico, and the plan is to spend our time (in between hiking and admiring hot air balloons) checking out what’s on tap locally AND hitting up the New Mexico Brew Fest!

On the topic of beer, I am all about finding the proper beer bites to soak it all up. In John Schlimm’s latest book, The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Happy Hour, he shares ideas for pairings – bar bites, salsas/dips, tapas and more. I was sent a copy to peruse. The book arrived only yesterday, so I haven’t had much time to look it over. Schlimm includes descriptions of different beer types, as well as a seasonal beer chart, but he makes it pretty clear that his “rule of thumb is: drink what you want, when you want it!”

While most of the recipes are vegetarian or vegan, I was impressed with the creativity of the recipes. I do love my veggies, but I have plenty of room in my stomach for meat and fish. Depending on my mood, I might follow the recipes to a tee or change up a few things here and there.

With over 325 recipes and several beer pairing ideas for each recipe, you’re bound to find something you will like. If you’d like to win a copy of The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Happy Hour and other goodies, enter the giveaway below!

Here are two examples from the book of suggested pairings for Oktoberfest beers:

Hippie Cayenne Sourdough Pretzels

Pair with: Oktoberfest, Pale Lager, Pilsner

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard, such as Colman’s, or to taste
2 teaspoon mace
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
1 (1-ounce) packet dry vegetable soup mix
2 dashes Frank’s RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce or Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
1 teaspoon molasses
8 droplets liquid smoke, or to taste (search Colgin.com for plant-based liquid smoke flavors)
20 ounces sourdough pretzels

Preheat 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the margarine in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, mace, lime juice, vegetable soup mix, hot sauce, molasses, and liquid smoke. Heat until just bubbly.

Using tongs, dip the pretzels in the mixture, one at a time, coating them completely, and place them on the baking sheet. Let the pretzels rest for 15 minutes, then bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Turn off the oven, and let the pretzels cool there thoroughly, for 90 minutes or so. Serve the pretzels or store them in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to a week.

Yields about 4 cups

Flying Buffalo at the Tap Pizza

Pair with: American or English Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Oktoberfest

1⁄2 cup ketchup
1⁄4 cup Frank’s RedHot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup chopped yellow onion
8 ounces seitan, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes, or tofu, pressed drained, and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes (OR MEAT)
2 cups quartered cremini mushrooms
1 (12-inch) prebaked pizza crust
1 1⁄2 cups arugula or spinach, julienned
2 carrots, shredded
1⁄2 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices

Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine the ketchup, hot sauce, and liquid smoke in a small bowl, stirring well. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the seitan and mushrooms, and cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft. Remove from the heat. Combine the seitan mixture and ketchup mixture in a medium-size bowl, mixing gently to coat well.

Spread the seitan mixture over the crust. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and crisp. Top with the arugula, carrots, cucumber, and tomatoes before serving.

Yields 1 pizza or 8 to 10 slices

Either of those sound good to you?

There are also sections in the book with Beer Cocktails, Beer Chuggers, Beer Shots, Shooters & Chasers. Beer cocktails seem intriguing, while the beer chuggers and shots scare me a little bit. I can’t party like I’m 22 anymore!

Ultimate Beer Lover’s Oktoberfest Prize Pack Giveaway

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Weekend Hike – Lake Lagunitas (aka Fresca’s First Hike)

One of the highlights of living in San Francisco is its proximity to “ALL THE THINGS.” Want to go on a short hike? You can hop right to it, and that’s exactly what we did several weekends ago. We went about an hour outside of San Francisco to Lake Lagunitas in Marin.

Lake Lagunitas

I’d read about Lake Lagunitas in a Weekend Sherpa email and made a mental note of it as being low-key and dog-friendly. Lake Lagunitas is the smallest lake in the Mt. Tamalpais watershed, and for $8, you gain access to the parking lot, the picnic area, and some easy hiking. We had Saturday morning free, so we packed up some water and dog treats and were on our way for Fresca’s first official hike.

Lake Lagunitas

With the drought, the water level was a bit low, and it looked like the lake had an algae problem. Still, it was good to get outside. The weather was nice (a little hot out of the shade), the sun was out (we brought sunscreen!), and we were moving our bodies.

Fresca seems to be pretty good on leash, which is why I jumped at the chance to take her on a hike. Sasha was never so great on leash, and that limited the number of places we could take her since she preferred being off-leash.

While the leash isn’t a problem for Fresca, she has a tendency to stick her snout to the floor looking for goodies to chew on. We call this “vacuum mode.” Unfortunately, her definition of “goodies” also includes dirt, bark and grass.

Lake Lagunitas

Lake Lagunitas

We tried distracting her by handpicking other items for her to hold onto, like giant sticks or even her water bowl. It worked for a little bit, at least until she started dropping her bowl off the edge of the path.

Lake LagunitasAfter the 1.5 mile loop around the lake, we stopped in at Iron Springs Pub and Brewery in Fairfax. Even though our hike wasn’t particularly strenuous, shrimp tacos, a pulled pork sandwich and beer definitely hit the spot afterward. They also have a front patio area where dogs are welcome, and they made sure Fresca stayed hydrated.

It’s hard to believe that it is already October. My weekends are pretty full this month, so I am hoping to fit in more hiking for the rest of the year and through 2015! If you live in California and enjoy the outdoors, I’d definitely recommend subscribing to Weekend Sherpa. It’s a great resource, and reading it always makes me want to go outside.

Hallway Closet Cleanup

This is one of two hallway closets in the house, and it was the one I tackled in Project: Hallway Closet Cleanup (super creative, I know).

Hallway Closet CleanupIn this closet, we keep first aid supplies, extra toiletries and other bulk household items. This also happens to include an overflowing supply of bandaids in all sizes, feminine hygiene products, many tubes of toothpaste, Ryan’s deodorant subscription that he forgot to turn off, and two Costco packs of razors because I couldn’t find the first pack I bought and so another was purchased.

While those are all pictured, I’m proud to say that the hallway closet is in the best condition since we moved in! I finally took the time to organize it this past weekend.

On Friday, I picked up two stackable drawers at Target and didn’t do anything with them until two evenings later. After clearing out one shelf and organizing personal care items into and next to the two drawers, I realized that I could easily apply what I had done for the first shelf to the others. So I made another run to Target!

Since the top shelf extends higher, and it would be difficult to open up drawers on the top shelf, I opted for two plastic bins. One holds our light bulb supply, while the other is currently empty. There’s a Costco toilet paper run in the works.

Hallway Closet CleanupFor an idea of what it was like before, here is one of the shelves before the cleanup. My subconscious must have been embarrassed by the clutter because I completely forgot to take photos before I started on the project! Notice the plastic baskets? Ryan attempted to organize the closet a while back… Hopefully this time it sticks!

With “Back to School” sales in effect, I was able to get some nice deals on storage/organization. It probably would have cost slightly less because the four subsequent drawers that I purchased were not offered at the sales price I found on Friday.

Hallway Closet Cleanup Project

6 – Sterilite Small White Drawer (16 Qt)
2 – Sterilite Clearview Latch Box (27 Qt)

Total Cost: ~$65 (6 stackable drawers and 2 plastic bins)

How do you keep your hallway closets organized? Any tips to share?

Walmart To Go : Spoil Fresca Edition

Ordering online and having items delivered to your doorstep quickly is all the craze these days. When I was approached to try the Walmart To Go service, I decided to give it a whirl. We don’t get very many things delivered directly to our door because we’ve had a few instances of farm box thievery in the neighborhood. However, Walmart To Go has a solution for that problem – by having you choose a delivery time that works for you, you will always be home to accept your delivery.

I placed my order on Wednesday. Delivery times span from the early AM to the late PM the next day, which works out great for my inconsistent schedule. Since I would be out most of the following day, I picked the 8PM to 10PM time frame. At 9:45PM on Thursday, I received a call that the delivery was on its way, and everything reached the house before 10PM. Amazing!

Here’s the haul:

Spoil Fresca

Definitely the “Spoil Fresca” edition! The first toy she grabbed from the pile was the hedgehog, which turned out to be a substitute for another toy I had ordered. They give you the option to allow for substitutes when you order. If the item is not available and you end up with a substitute that costs more than the original item, they don’t charge you extra.

Spoil FrescaOne thing that I did notice was that if you weren’t exactly sure what you were looking for, you could spend a great deal of time scrolling through the expansive selection. There were some filters available, such as brand or type, but it was still a bit overwhelming. I searched and scrolled through Walmart’s dog toy and treats selection for quite some time. Since we don’t have a Walmart that we frequent, I wasn’t familiar with the selection. Unfortunately, the Walmart To Go website doesn’t pull in reviews that one would normally find on their regular site, which would have been helpful.

When I finally made all my choices, I was a bit surprised at the quality of the treats. Impressed, even. No weird ingredients. All natural. No artificial preservatives. Fresca seems to like them, but then again, she’s also the dog that will pick up old chewing gum off the streets… Ugh.

Overall, it was an easy process. If you know what you’re looking for or have a running grocery list, it can be incredibly convenient.

From what we can tell, Fresca loves her new stash of toys, or at least she enjoys gnawing them into smithereens!

As a participant in the Walmart to Go First program, I’ve received a personal invite and payment for my time and efforts in creating this post. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

August 2014 in Pictures : Introducing Fresca The Pup

At the beginning of August, we said goodbye to Sasha. It was a Friday. Our last Friday with her. With the sadness, we distracted ourselves with a weekend of activities. We went on a sunset cruise in the bay, and we stuffed ourselves at Cochon 555‘s Heritage Fire event. It was a good weekend, and we really needed it after the month that we had been through.

August 2014 in Pictures

We didn’t really expect to move quickly in terms of getting another dog, but then we met the pup whom we’d immediately name “Fresca.”

August 2014 in Pictures

She was spunky and cute. Super friendly and energetic. We pretty much fell for her immediately, but because we had two weeks to decide, we really took the time to “make sure” even though it was pretty obvious.

I did a lot of volunteering one weekend and was rewarded by someone smashing a window of my car. Thankfully Ryan was around to help me take it to the shop, and it was fixed the next day. City living!

August 2014 in Pictures

Since Fresca is only 9 months old, everything is new to her. House training is coming along, but the most fun comes when we introduce her to everything. All the parks. Swimming. Dog-friendly bars. The beach.

August 2014 in Pictures

I wrapped up summer with the beginning of the new Spinsters of San Francisco year and the first official event of the year – New Member Tea. I’m no longer on the Board of Directors, so I’m not in the know of most things, but it’s good to relax as well. In a week or so, I’ll be presenting a check to our charity partner from last year.

Also got a sneak peek at the new See’s Candies store that opened up nearby and spent Labor Day weekend on my first Trail Mavens trip!

August 2014 in Pictures