Book Review: Lilac Girls

When we stopped in New Jersey for a pit stop on our way to Norway in June, my Grandma gave me a book to read while on vacation, and I just finished it last night. More specifically, I took a pain pill (I had surgery on my foot last week) and read until the wee hours. It was glorious… I can’t recall the last time I stayed up late because I couldn’t put a book down.

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Rafting Down the New River

Last Saturday Mark and I were able to join the Huntington Ski Club on a special day trip rafting down the New River. I have been talking about organizing a trip like this for the club for a long time, and this summer we were finally able to get it together and actually go.

There are several white water rafting companies to choose from, but we used Adventures on the Gorge since they are the most well known. I called about 1 month in advance, set the reservation date and time and all I had to do was call them as the date got closer and update them on the number of people coming. Easy Peasy. As most things like this go, we had people sign up, change their minds, decide to go, or show up at the last minute. Typical, right? Adventures on the Gorge made the whole experience painless. We were able to give a final count the day before the trip and pay the balance the morning of the trip. It was great! Continue reading

Norway in Pictures

I was very lucky to be able to visit Norway for 2 whole weeks this year, a luxury I have not had since the summer of 2014. I love my life here in the Mountain State, but there is a constant longing in my soul for a life in that rock pile called Norway. One of the problems with “coming from” two places so far apart is that you never really feel quite at home in either one of them.

I have this snapshot in my head of my hometown in Norway- the way things were when I left almost 18 years ago. But time has changed my little town. It’s growing, houses are popping up all over and all the people I knew back in school have moved away or I have lost track of them. I still expect to walk down the street knowing everyone I pass, but that is no longer the case.

One thing is certain. I was able to make new memories with my family. Here are some pictures from our trip that I have chosen to share with you. Enjoy!

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I have been on vacation and I am planning an epically long post with a ton of pictures.

I wanted to stop by and tell you about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale going on- I am lucky enough to be in New Jersey at the moment and was able to stop there yesterday to pick up a few things. (I have Early Access, the sale opens to everyone on July 21st.) Check it out:

Ruffle Sleeve Tunic Dress by Bobeau

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Wine in a Can

Yeah, you read that right. I wanted to check in today just to tell you guys about some wine that I am loving lately that comes in a can. I know this blog centers on beer, but sometimes there is nothing better than coming home from work, throwing on some Sylvan Esso and a pair of sweatpants, cracking open a can of red, and cooking up dinner. So relaxing.

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Geeking out with Star Wars

On Sunday, Mark and I drove up to Cincinnati again for a day of Father’s Day fun. With the kids being off in Norway for a month, things are quiet around here, and Father’s day with no kids is a little sad.

After brunch at Taste of Belgium, our favorite breakfast spot, we drove over to the Cincinnati Museum Center to check out Star Wars and the Power of Costume. The exhibit will be there until October 1st, so if you are in the area you may want to give it a whirl. Mark and I are big Star Wars fans, but we aren’t fanatics about it. So what if we FORCED the kids to watch all the movies….? They would be lying if they said they didn’t like them.

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The exhibit hold 60 costumes from all seven Star Wars movies and shows all the intricacies of planning so many costumes for characters from all over the galaxy. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that George Lucas wrote the saga and had all these details in his head that he made come to life. The walls of the exhibit were covered in drawings of all the versions of costumes they came up with for each character before settling on the final version. Incredible.

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My favorite part of the exhibit by far was “Padme’s Journey”, simply because the dresses were a princess’ wardrobe on steroids. (And can I just mention how tiny Natalie Portman was when she made those movies?!) They had a short film playing of her talking about the dresses she wore and I was mesmerized by all the thought that went into every scene. There is one in particular where she does nothing but pack a suitcase while talking to Anakin, and it took weeks to make the dress she wore for just 1 minute of screentime.

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Mark and I also loved the end, where the tour ended in a gift shop (what else is new) but they had displays of all the old Star Wars toys and figures. We found quite a few that we used to own when we were little and the displays included the lengths kids would go through to get some of the ones that were hard to find. Does anyone remember collecting the proof of purchase off of cereal boxes? I sure do.

If you go: the tickets were a little on the pricy side ($48 for 2), considering we only got tickets for the Star Wars portion and skipped the rest of the museum. It was however, only $3 more to get the ticket for everything. The exhibit is only there until October 1st, so catch it before it’s gone forever. Also, portions of the museum are off-line right now due to extensive renovations to the building. Check their website to be sure one of those areas aren’t the one you are dying to see. For example, Henrik would freak out if we went all the way there are he didn’t get to see the dinosaurs because it was closed.

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We left the museum to do some shopping at Jungle Jim’s, then went to Rhinegeist to sit on their rooftop beer garden and enjoy the beautiful weather. The last stop was at a restaurant called Nada where we feasted on Mexican. The guacamole was outstanding, so I completely inhaled it and then couldn’t finish my dinner.

What a great day. I hope all of you got to do something awesome with the important men in your lives. Have a great week!


Ice Box Cake for Father’s Day

Because of the fact that I lived in Norway, I tend to migrate towards the Norwegian side of my heritage, but my Dad’s side of the family is Italian. Growing up we called our spaghetti sauce “gravy” and waved our hands around a lot when we talked. Oh wait… I still do that.

My Dad tells me stories about my paternal grandfather sometimes, and one of the stories are about when he was a milkman. Apparently they had a lot of milk during that time, because my grandmother used to make a no-bake cake called Ice Box Cake. I have recently brought this cake back into my life, and despite the ingredients being something I would not normally eat, when you put this all together, its weirdly amazing.

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What you’ll need:

1 box of Graham Crackers

1 box chocolate pudding (Cooktop – not instant)

1 box vanilla pudding

1 box butterscotch pudding

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That’s it! Here’s what you do: Use a 3 quart glass or metal dish with high sides, add a layer of graham crackers on the bottom. Cook the butterscotch pudding according to the package directions. Pour it over the graham crackers. It’s OK that it still hot, that will soften the graham crackers and make it better! Clean out the pot, and cook the vanilla pudding next. Add a layer of graham crackers and pour the vanilla on top. Repeat this step with the chocolate. Crumble a couple of graham crackers and sprinkle them on top of the chocolate layer to make it look nice (this cake is not very pretty..) and pop it in the fridge. Don’t knock it till you try it, this cake is the bomb! Plus, you don’t have to heat up your kitchen in the middle of summer by fooling with the oven. It’s a winner.

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This cake is so easy, Maren made the entire thing. Then she ate it.

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Happy Father’s Day! Since the kids are out of town, I am treating Mark to a day in Cincinnati full of beer and brunch. He deserves it for being such a loving Dad to our kiddos. I am also thinking of my Dad, Mike (this cake reminds me of him), my grandpa Lou and Mark’s Dad, Dick. We love you guys!

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Buying gifts for Father’s Day is so hard. I tried to take some of the guess work out of it this year and came up with some items your Dad, Husband, Grandpa or Father-in-law may enjoy.

1. Himalayan Pink Salt Slabs

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Mark sent me a link to these in an e-mail recently and said the guys at his work were talking about how awesome they are. Apparently they are great for foods that cook very quickly, like seafood or thinly sliced vegetables, chicken, or beef. They also provide a mild salt flavor to the food without adding any extra salt. They can be used anywhere like a grill or stove, the trick is to heat them up very slowly. He can step up his grill game with these bad boys.

2. Son of a Tailor T-shirt

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I bought a gift card for a Son of a Tailor T-shirt (the name is awesome, right?) for Mark for Christmas, and it’s a pretty badass gift. I got the gift card that includes a tape measure so that you can take the measurements specified on the website, pick the style, color, and details of the shirt. Voila! A couple weeks later you have a personalized T-shirt sewn to the specifications you entered. They even put your special fella’s initials on the tag. It’s the personalized shirt you know is going to fit!

3. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

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For those of you that have a Dad that is especially hard to buy for, I recommend some ice cream. Everyone loves Ice cream, right? Jeni’s is taking it to a whole new level with a Father’s Day collection of flavors ($55) like Butterscotch Cocoa Nibs, Sweet Cream Biscuits & Peach Jam and Salty Caramel. This is sure to please any Dad! Note: Jeni has partnered with Stone Brewing to bring us Mocha Black Cherry – it incorporates the bitterness of Stone’s Imperial IPA, and they blend it with sweet/sour cherry sauce. Sounds like a winner to me.

4.  Barrel Aged Coffee Beans

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We are big fans of coffee at our house and since we grind our own beans, we love to find fresh roasted beans to liven up our morning cup. Barrel aged beans bring together our love of coffee with our love of beer and other spirits. There are several coffee roasters out there using bourbon and whisky barrels to bring us some amazing morning joe, here are some that I found that you may want to check out:

Dark Matter Coffee For $45, you can get Dad a “bean flight” of 4 bags of delicious beans.

Death Wish Coffee Rum or Bourbon flavors available!

Spaceship Earth Coffee/Prairie Artisan Ales Collaboration I got this for Mother’s Day and I can tell you it is outstanding.

5. Bobonos

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Half of Mark’s wardrobe is from this on-line store (they have very few brick and mortars) and the quality of the clothing is awesome for the price. He especially loves their shorts and T-shirts. You can get shorts there that are a reasonable length- I feel like shorts for men are super long, not a look to go for guys! Note: They offer 20% off to new customers, and you can get 1.5% cash back on Ebates right now. (If you don’t have Ebates, I seriously don’t know what you are doing with your life.)

Enjoy the day with your Dad, and stay tuned, I have a recipe for a great “Dad” cake to make for his big day. Enjoy your weekend!