Archive for June 2012

Book Review: Once Upon A Secret

With all the heat in the nation's capital lately, I just haven't felt like venturing out and about. And the latest book I wrapped up was such a quick easy read, I struggled to put it down for too long. Now let's be honest, who doesn't want the sordid details about a presidential affair?

Always in search of a good book, I often read the book review sections of newspapers as well as many "must read" lists that I stumble upon. Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath was discovered as a result of one of those lists. As I mentioned the book is a quick read, written in a rather plain and simple style. It occurs to me now that the style of writing really set the tone for the book even without realizing it immediately.

The author, Mimi Alford, had an affair with President Kennedy while serving as a White House Intern at age 19. She held onto this secret for nearly 50 years before writing her story. She struck me as a very naive and almost blissfully ignorant girl. And for that matter, I don't believe she has really grown beyond that today. She shares the details of how she ended up in bed with the president on her fourth day in the White House and how it continued for the next 18 months. What I found interesting was her sense of loyalty to JFK even after all the years following his death. However, what I didn't understand was why. She shares a little insight into this, but I finished the book feeling pity for her. Ultimately, I just didn't find the writing to be that strong or the story that good.

However, there's still plenty of time this summer for a book by the pool or on the beach and this book fits the bill. If you're looking for a little more about the story itself, I'd recommend checking out the New York Times review.

So, have you read anything good lately? I'm making progress on the stack next to the bed. So much so, that I'm ready to acquire a few new additions.

Posted in , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Pappy: The Pappy van Winkle Legend

A few months ago I contributed to my first (and likely only) kickstarter project.  The project is a film titled, "Chasing Pappy." I'm really excited about the project for a couple of reasons.

First, if you've ever had the good fortune to taste Pappy van Winkle bourbon, you understand why the bourbon is so sought after.  It is, in my opinion, the best bourbon (and probably whiskey) in the world.  It tastes amazing; it really is incomparable.

Second, because it is so freaking good, people go to extremes to find bottles available for purchase.  For years, they were relatively easy to find, but over the past five or seven years, bourbon has become very popular.  As more people got interested in bourbon, the harder it became to find Pappy van Winkle.

At this point, Pappy is going for hundreds of dollars on e-bay. (But don't worry, it's labeled as a "collectible.")  The shortage and popularity of Pappy has led people to do crazy things to find a bottle of Pappy.  And that's what this movie is about.

Compared to a lot of folks, I'm relatively new to bourbon connoisseur-ism. I've only been drinking bourbon for 3 years, and until 18 months ago, I'd never heard of Pappy van Winkle.  But then I had my first taste.  Since then, I decided I needed a source.  People have different strategies--some try to make friends with distributors, others search dozens or even hundreds of liquor stores.

But that's what this film is about. I think you'll like it.  Nicole and I are working with the director to develop strategies to get this film out there.  For now, you can follow us on Twitter at @chasingpappy.  We'll be tweeting out information as we know more about the release schedule.

And if you've had the pleasure of tasting Pappy, we'd love to hear about your experience.

Posted in , | Leave a comment

Night Out: Spring Awakening

One of my favorite things about living in the District is the theatre options. It's not New York, but coming from Topeka, Kansas this place is an arts mecca. I've been trying to convert Keith into the theatre lover. However, I know my limits. And the limit is a musical. He's down with Shakespeare and dramas like Twelve Angry men, so I count my victories where I can.

The Keegan Theatre in Dupont Circle is a wonderful gem of a theatre tucked away on Church Street. The building has quite a rich history having served as church, school gymnasium, and now a vibrant theatre. If only the walls could talk. After seeing my dear friend, Edward, in Rent at this theatre I just cannot get my fill of them.

When I heard they were running a production of Spring Awakening I had to check it out. Thankfully, Edward, who is my theatre husband was game for the night out, and Keith was relieved Edward saved him.

Set in late 19th century Germany, Spring Awakening tells the story of teenagers discovering their sexuality. It boldly tackles issues of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse, and suicide. In 2007, the score received 11 Tony Award nominations; winning eight, including best musical.  Of course, I had to know what all the hype was about.

The Keegan's presentation was good. However, I found the musicians visible on the set to be distracting. Additionally, the music often overpowered the performers making it difficult to hear the full story. Edward agreed with my assessment including their use of hand microphones. Following the show on our walk home, we found ourselves amused as to how those hand mics just popped up out of no where.

Regardless, I found it was a great Friday night of theatre. Edward and I are already making plans to see Cabaret when the Keegan produces that next season. Do you enjoy the theatre? Any shows you recommend taking in?

Posted in , , , | Leave a comment

Too hot to do much else

Rumor has it that Washington, DC had record highs yesterday. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but it was ridiculously hot and humid in our nation’s capital.  So much so that we took the lead from Sammy.

Instead of going out to watch Goonies at one of the parks close by as planned months ago, we stayed in and watched a very disappointing Thunder-Heat game. Fingers crossed that the weather gives us a break this weekend. Otherwise, it will be another weekend hidden away with a book and cold beverage.

Do you have any good weekend plans? I’d love to hear about something in air conditioning.

Posted in , , | Leave a comment

Bourbon Women

Earlier this year I was looking for groups of women that enjoyed a little whiskey or in my case a little bourbon. After an afternoon of searching, I learned about Bourbon Women and even better they were having an event in DC. You could say I stalked them anxiously waiting to learn more.  I was such a giddy little girl waiting for last night to arrive. 

Bourbon Women Take Flight was held last night at Jack Rose. It was an opportunity to meet a great group of bourbon loving women, participate in a Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, and sample a few special bourbon based cocktails. And don't worry there were some bourbon friendly appetizers to keep you from getting into too much trouble.  I had to laugh a bit to myself as I was tasting the Small Batch collection given we recently purchased the collection. 

It was nice learning more about the location in the racks from where particular barrels were pulled from.  Although Keith's recent tasting determined Knob Creek as the favorite, I have to side with the lone Basil Hayden's fan from that group. I probably liked it a bit more because it was on the low alcohol side. I just can't handle that strong stuff that sets my throat on fire. Second was the Knob Creek Single Barrel for me. I found it to have a nice smooth, carmel finish. 

I also learned a few random pieces of trivia that I can bust out at bourbon gathering. Of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection, all have the same mash build with the exception of Basil Hayden's. Instead, it's heavy on the rye with only 51% corn and double the rye. That was really interesting to me as I tend to shy away from the high rye bourbons. I most prefer high wheated bourbons - think Maker's Mark. Because I can't share all of my fun facts now or I won't have anything to impress you with later.... more, 75% of the flavor in bourbon comes from the barrel. 

Because women know how to host a party and women with bourbon do an even better job, it was such a nice touch to walk away with a bag of goodies. Coming home and checking out the loot left Keith a little jealous. I also met some great women and hope to participate in additional DC events. 

Posted in , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Year We Left Home

How was your weekend? Keith and I found our weekend of doing nothing close to home to be so relaxing that we plan to repeat it again this coming weekend. The farthest we ventured was three blocks to make it to the gym. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we made an effort to spend a little time on the back porch grilling and enjoying it. But the rest of our time was spent watching the U.S. Open and catching up on some reading.

All of this quiet time at home allowed me to finish up another book. This time I read a novel, The Year We Left Home, by Jean Thompson. The book tells the story of an Iowa farm family over the course of three decades. Your introduced to the family as the oldest is getting married and the second oldest is dealing with his feelings about living in a small town and the decision to head off to college. Thompson then takes you through all four children’s stories in such a way that you learn each child’s thoughts at the different stages of their lives over the next three decades. It’s well done in this regard as you don’t have just one narrator and the story never becomes confusing or taken off course.

Sometimes you just connect with a book in such a way that it touches a piece of you inside. This is one of those books for me. Perhaps, we can attribute that to growing up in small town Kansas. I understood the mixed emotions some of the children faced having grown up where they did and the challenges it provided later into adulthood.

The Year We Left Home was nominated for several literary awards, but I’d recommend it to you because it is a good story about a family and growing older.

Have you read anything lately that you’d recommend?

Posted in , , | 3 Comments

Make your own bitters

As I've learned more about classic cocktails like the sazerac, sidecar,  and old fashioned to name a few, I've wanted to do whatever I can to perfect them when I make them at home. Knowing that fresh, homemade pasta is better than a box, I figured the same had to apply to a bitter.

We've already established I like a good deal, so it should come as no surprise that I couldn't resist the Groupon for a "make your own bitters lesson" at the Georgetown Spice and Tea Exchange.  This store smelled amazing with a wall of such fragrant spices and herbs. I may have came home with a purchase or two.

The class was disappointing for the price, even though it was a deal. I honestly think I would have been better off purchasing a book from Amazon. The instructor was knowledgable, but wasn't very organized or effective at sharing that information. It's really unfortunate because I had high hopes. Instead, I need to find a book or just pay the local liquor store a visit. Suggestions? Do you make your own bitters? Or maybe you have a favorite cocktail you'd recommend? It is Friday, after all.

Posted in , , , | Leave a comment

Hello, Summer

While Keith was tasting bourbon with his buddies, Andrea and I were off on our own little adventure. Initially we had planned to pick berries, but on second thought we decided to spend the day at the Jetty Dock Bar across the Bay Bridge listening to a buddy sing.

The day was absolutely perfect for drinking a couple of these. Well, to be honest, I had one and then switched to bourbon. I just can't get down with beer no matter how much my wallet tries to convince me.

We listened to the Jenkins Duo perform as we caught up on life. I was highly impressed. I never thought I'd really like a Lady Gaga song, so Corey hats off to you for your spin on it.

When in Rome or when near the Bay, you must partake in the crabs. After that adventure, I was reminded that it always sounds better than it is. It's a lot of work beating those little guys with mallets for such little meat. Yep, I'd much prefer a big juicy medium rare burger.

As the sun started to set and Andrea was convinced we need a boat, it was time to head back to the District. I was curious to find out what kind of shenanigans Keith had gotten himself into. The sunset was a gorgeous way to end the day and officially welcome in summer.

Thanks to Andrea for capturing that moment. 
Have you had a chance to officially welcome summer?

Posted in , , , | Leave a comment

Bourbon Tasting with Friends: The best way to spend a Saturday

Last Saturday I hosted a bourbon tasting for a few friends of mine.  All of the attendees are bourbon enthusiasts, so we decided to taste our way through the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection.  If you are a bourbon rookie, when you hear Jim Beam you probably think of the ubiquitous white label bottle.  But we wanted to step up a bit from that so we chose the Small Batch Collection. The Collection consists of Basil Hayden's, Booker's, Baker's and Knob Creek.  Each of the bourbons in the Collection is aged for a different amount of time and they are bottled at different proofs.  Basil Hayden's even uses a different mash bill (recipe), so there is quite a lot of variance across the collection.  Which is what makes tasting your way through them so much fun.

Nicole, also known as the greatest wife in the world, prepared the tasting in such a way that none of us knew which bourbon was which.  She poured us samples ahead of time so none of us would know which was which.

After we tasted our way through, we voted on which one we liked best and which one we liked least.  Water and ice were available to dilute as necessary.  The winner was Knob Creek, which got three votes (Basil Hayden's got one).

This was mildly unsurprising as Knob Creek is a very recognizable bourbon, and there's a reason for that.  It is really well balanced and has a nice sweet finish that is quite pleasant to drink.  At 100 proof, it is right in my personal preferred proof.  If you're new to bourbon and want to start expanding your tasting experiences, I highly recommend Knob Creek. (Even if you aren't new to bourbon, it might be time to stop chasing Pappy or the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and give Knob another try.)

Basil Hayden's got one favorite vote.  B-H is quite a bit lighter than the other bourbons, as it is 80 proof.  The other notable thing about B-H is that it is made with more rye than the others.   This gives it a spicier flavor.  Our tasters described it as "soft and smooth" which makes for nice drinking on a hot summer day.

The least favorite bourbon was Baker's, which was also unsurprising to me.  I've had Baker's on a couple of occasions and I can't say that I've ever really enjoyed it.  Our tasting panel found it woody and hot, and adding some water or ice did not really improve it. The best I can say about it is that it is boring--it doesn't stand out against the other bourbons in the Collection.

The last bourbon, Booker's, was apparently safely in the middle.  I've always enjoyed Booker's quite a bit, but the proof--130--can be a real turnoff.  Booker's almost always requires some dilution, but it is a whale of a bourbon. It's got lots of bold flavors, but if you can dilute it down just right, it strikes me as an incredibly flavorful, sweet bourbon.  My impression is that our tasting panel was a bit impatient with Booker's, as it takes some planning to dilute it down to each taster's preferred proof.

I should mention that we had a really nice spread of food to keep our stomachs full--again, thanks to my wife for that.  We made a special trip to the grocery store to buy some supplies and we put out some snack mix, potato chips, pretzels and had some shredded chicken sandwiches made in the crock pot.  Nicole was nice enough to bake us some cookies--they were a huge hit.

Posted in , , , | Leave a comment

Ain't a Party without Bourbon

Keith and I just can’t have a social gathering of any kind without a little bourbon. Case in point, we spike the apple cider at Thanksgiving with it. We didn’t serve champagne for our toast at our wedding. Instead it was a bourbon-based cocktail.  It makes a nice substitution for orange juice in a mimosa for brunch. And well, it’s just one of those things we pour when we want to have our own little celebration at home on Tuesday night.

With all of that in mind, Keith is frequently on the hunt for those rare, hard to find bottles. And when he finds one, the hunt is just as important as the sharing. Well, tomorrow is a day for sharing. Keith is having a group of guys over for a bourbon tasting. They’re going to focus on the Jim Beam small batch collection, which includes: Booker’s, Basil Hayden, Bakers, and Knob Creek. (I only wish the Knob Creek Rye was in our area to throw that in too.)

Why do I care especially since it’s a group of guys that will probably mess up my clean house? If you’re going to do something, you’re going to do it right. That means I’ve created special “place mats” that will have a place for the four cups. It will be a blind tasting, so all they will know is the letter identifying each. I’ll leave Keith an envelop identifying each. (I’m going to slip out for a little day drinking of my own with Andrea.)

I’m also going to be the responsible one, or as much as I can given I won’t be there. What goes with bourbon, but barbeque? Given safety and convenience is key, I’m going to throw something together in the slow cooker. Thinking it will be a feast of shredded chicken sliders, slaw, and chocolate chip cookies. Although, the more I consider this, I should proceed with caution. I don’t want to make them too comfy and find a house of boys when I return.

I’ll have pictures of at least the set up and tasting notes on Monday. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a nice weekend with perhaps a splash of bourbon. Seriously, bourbon makes it better.

Posted in , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Hunger Games

I have a confession to make and it may come as a shock to some of you. I read all three books commonly known as The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. In fact, I essentially devoured them in 72 hours.

For those that don’t know much about the books, the story takes place following the destruction of North America as we know it. The area now consists of 12 districts controlled by The Capitol and one outlying district that is essentially left alone. For the most part, each district is poor and ruled by an iron fist. As punishment for rebellions several generations earlier, one boy and one girl from each of the remaining districts is forced to participate in the “Hunger Games” aka a fight to the death where there can only be one victor. The Hunger Games are to serve as a deterrent to those thinking about rebelling and for the Capitol’s entertainment.

Honestly, I didn’t know that when I started reading, which is probably a good thing. Had I started with that much detail I probably never would have picked them up. If I ruined it for anyone else, I apologize.

Given the audience is young adults, the books are a quick and easy read. Occasionally, you’ll find the plot has been simplified a bit too much. However, you will be entertained. Several friends described the first book as the best and leaving you anxious for the second. The second book started slowly, but kept your interest. By the third book, I was over it. The story was starting to unravel and the writing was not as strong as the first book. Not to mention, I found the ending as an abrupt stop.

With all of that said, if you want a quick easy read for the beach or a rainy weekend, these books are a great option. You’ll be entertained and won’t have to think too hard.

Apollo’s Angels has been on my nightstand for far too long, so I hope to finish that one up soon and report back. What book or books are you reading?

Posted in , | Leave a comment

Feel the burn

By no means am I in amazing shape. I’m afraid that ship has sailed, but I have dreams. Well, remember that barre class?

I was pretty excited about the class considering it incorporated ballet and that had been a part of my life for over 10 years. I had high hopes of it being just what I needed to jumpstart the exercise regimen I continue to procrastinate.

BikerBarre - A spin & barre studio

The studio was fresh and modern with warm, friendly staff. So far, so good. We’re instructed to leave our shoes and bags in a cubby upstairs and then grab our weights – one lighter and one heavier pair along with a mat.

The first third of the class was awesome. The focus was on arm strengthening exercises. In fact, the weights may have even been too light. Yeah, I said that. It then transitioned to the barre work for legs and that’s where it all went down hill. Pile' after pile' had my quads on fire. And all the while the teacher was all happy pushing you to go more. Of course, she was happy she was walking around the room correcting form. The rest of the class was a bit of a blur for me as I was distracted by the raging fire taking place in my thighs, so I'm of little help in providing feedback.

The class was an hour and definitely had my heart rate up. I’m thinking had I not had a session with a personal trainer that decided squats and lunges of all types were necessary the day before I might have felt better. Just to confirm this theory I’ve signed up for another class this coming Saturday.

Posted in , , | Leave a comment

Hello, weekend

Do you find short workweeks more exhausting than a full one? Maybe it’s just me. I feel like we’ve tried to fit in as much as possible this week, but then that did help it pass quickly and bring us to the weekend.

What plans await you this weekend?

Saturday appears to be the busy day for us. Keith has plans to play a round at the Renditions Golf Course with some buddies. I think he feels like a pro for a few moments. That is until he snaps back to reality as he’s searching for his ball in the woods.

I’m kicking myself now, but I signed up for a barre class at the new Biker Barre on the Hill. Fingers crossed that I fall in love with this style of strength training and work myself back into some pants. (If you’ve taken such a class and have tips for survival, I would love to hear from you.) After all the hard work, I’m rewarding myself with a mani/pedi using one of the new Essie polishes.

The night wraps up with dinner at Art and Soul. Their fried chicken equals bites of heaven. Guess that’s why I’ll be working out in the morning. I really need to work on more than maintaining.

Who knows what Sunday will bring, but I’m sure it will involve some sort of lazy breakfast.  If only it could be spent with a book and a hammock like this. Enjoy your weekend!

Via Adam Meaney, Flickr

Posted in , , , , , | Leave a comment
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Powered by Blogger.


Swedish Greys - a WordPress theme from Nordic Themepark. Converted by