Bourbon & Brew Grand Tasting 2015 Review

The Bourbon & Brew Grand Tasting was a REALLY good time. Just starting with that.
First and foremost – there WAS Brown Jug Bourbon Cream floats. And they were every bit as amazing as anticipated. They also had it mixed with coffee, which I could also live on. I actually went hunting at all of the open liquor stores near me trying to find a bottle to bring to Thanksgiving for floats, but I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, so no luck. But I’ll keep looking!  🙂

The other winner of the night? Jim Beam Honey. It’s good enough to sip but also great in a hot toddy or mixed with lemonade. Yes, I did find out about those two after buying a bottle after the tasting. I have found a new go-to drink.

 

You want this. #BourbonandBrew #jackdanielshoney

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I cannot claim to be a country girl or to be a big listener of country music, but the bands were great and the music set the perfect vibe.  I even bought and wore a cowboy hat, special for the occasion. Now I am busy looking for more excuses to wear it.

 

Got my hat for the #BourbonandBrew tasting! #loveFL #Tampa

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I ran into my niece and her other half there, which made everything that much more fun.  The fact that we were at Armature Works on Tampa’s Riverwalk didn’t hurt either, we were able to grab a drink and sit beside the stage while looking out at the lights reflecting on the water.  You really can’t beat it.

I have to say, changing things up by making this a ‘tasting’ instead of a festival was a great idea.  It was fun to be able to try so many different bourbons and moonshines and really cool that I was able to find a couple of new favorites.

Bourbon & Brew -The Grand Tasting 2015

I was just looking back, and it seems I have not been to a Bourbon & Brew Fest.  Highly strange, I love all of Big City Event’s festivals, but it seems this one always came up after I had committed to something else.  Not this year!

This year instead of the traditional festival they are having a bourbon tasting. There will be over 40 kinds of bourbons to try and it’s all in Tampa this Saturday from 5pm – 10pm.

Now I gotta admit I love a really good bourbon over ice, but also flavors amuse me greatly. There will be Jim Beam Maple Whiskey (hell ya!) and this:

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Now, I doubt they will have bourbon cream floats at the tasting, but I will be trying the Brown Jug Bourbon Cream no matter what they mix it with. Or don’t mix it with. Enough said.

Besides the opportunity to taste all kinds of bourbon there will, of course, be some brews AND moonshine.

Oh, and don’t forget the music. All country all the time.

So, to be honest I’m not exactly a good ole country girl. Or anything other kind of country. But I love pretty much all live music, and who doesn’t love this?


I am so going to buy a cowboy hat before Saturday!

Go here for all the important info including prices, what you can and can’t bring and such. The Grand Tasting is at Armature Works on Tampa’s Riverwalk. Have I said enough times yet how much I love Riverwalk?  Probably not.

After you do that, how about a chance to win a pair of General Admission tickets?  Just let me know if you are a year round country fan or a fan of convenience (like me) and if you’ve listened to any of the bands that will be at the tasting!  Also, use the Rafflecopter link so I know who you are:
Enter HERE!!!

I received two VIP tickets to The Bourbon & Brew Grand Tasting 2015 in exchange for writing a review and a giveaway. As always, my opinions are all mine.

My Favorite Vegan Tweets of the Week

So, two things.

First of all, I joined NaBLoPoMo this month which is a challenge to post every day in November.  I already took last weekend off, so there’s that.  But I’ve still already got further than any challenge thing I joined before. So I feel obliged to post something. Sorry.

Second of all, after going to the Tampa Bay Veg Fest last weekend I got motivated to try the 30 day vegan challenge.  It sounds so easy since I’ve been a vegetarian since forever, but not so much. I’m actually going to write a separate post about that. See, once I start writing I tend to just keep going and going and going….  Again, sorry.

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to share some Twitter tweets (not that there are any other kind) from some of my favorite tweeters.

The Gay Vegans don’t post a lot of recipes, but they do post a lot of things that make you think.  I like following them because in addition to blog posts they tweet a lot about whatever they happen to be doing so you get to virtually know them.  I think they’d be great people to get together over a drink and philosophize with.

 


Broke Vegans, on the other hand, post a ton of recipes.  The vast majority of them look amazing and are not usually recipes that I see everywhere else.  For sure follow them for the food, vegan or not. This recipe is cool because it seems like the vast majority of vegan cheese recipes involve nuts, this one is based on garbanzo beans.


I have to admit, I haven’t actually looked at 50 pizza recipes, but since deciding to try vegan for a bit I have been pizza obsessed. OBSESSED.   That is not an exaggeration. Those stupid Totino’s 99 cent pizzas are tempting me. I know. So sad.

 

 

Bedtime Yoga

I love yoga, and can’t even imagine running without following it up with yoga.  I actually have been maybe getting back the running bug a bit after  many, many months of doing very little besides work. And paddleboarding, but that usually is reserved for weekends so doesn’t get  much of a chance to keep me in any kind of good shape, especially when all of the rest of my time was at the computer.

Sometimes I go through whatever yoga poses happen to seem right at the moment, but for the most part I prefer to put my mind on autopilot and follow along with a video. This is my favorite one at the moment:

Why is it my favorite? Easy. Because it’s close to 40 minutes long so every single time I start it I have no intention of finishing the video (it IS bedtime after all) but then it’s done and I am sooo relaxed.

It’s also a super easy one so whether you are into yoga or not, give it a try. By the end you will wonder how you ever survived without yoga in your life.

Do you have a favorite evening yoga practice? Share the link if it’s an on line video, I always love trying new practices and new people to follow for videos.

Great Smoky Mountains

Have you ever gone somewhere that was so cool you knew you’d have to go back and then when you got home you realized that you didn’t know where you’d been? Well, me either. Much.  On my recent trip I stopped at the Great Smoky Mountains national Park. It was great, I totally plan on going back.  So I googled it just now and found out there’s like 5 of them and I have no idea which one I was at.

Lucky I got pictures.

2015_10_26_North Carolina trip5So what happened was…

We couldn’t find a truck stop but we saw a place that had lots of cars and probably a restroom so we stopped. There were a bunch of people looking at some turkeys and I was tired of being in the car so we went and looked too.  There was a flock (herd?) of turkeys walking around eating whatever they eat off the ground.  We have some in my neighborhood, but these were cooler.  After all, they were surrounded by fall leaves. Then I looked up and a couple hundred feet away was a herd of elk.  There was a dirt road leading that way and some people over looking at them so we went to see.  One of the elk came within a few feet of a lady, and as happy as she was about it I deemed going around the other side of the fence to look a better idea.  There’s just something about a huge wild animal whose butt is as high as my head that does not scream I want to pet that to me.

And then, this.

You can bet I took that video through a fence and with a plan to jump up into the hayloft thing behind me if needed.  It seems I was the most paranoid person there.  After we started walking back a park ranger came by and started telling the elk (who mostly ignored him yelling and waving his arms at them) to get back away from the dumb humans.

It seems the elk were the males that had been chased across the river by the bigger, badder elk over there and they were all a wee bit frustrated and ready to fight. The ranger said they had been charging people and cars. AND CARS. Time to go!

Tampa Bay Vegfest

Last Saturday I went to the Tampa Bay Vegfest in Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park on Riverwalk. It’s their 6th annual festival, but the first I’ve been to. I think last year I had a run at the same time. My loss, it was a lot of fun. Actually, my partner in crime went last year and said this year was much bigger.  I guess that means I better go next year because it’ll likely only be bigger and better.

So, what do you even do at a Vegfest?  Well, I think it depends of the fest.  I went to one in San Diego in like ’89 and it was a total hippy fest.  Reggae music, a haze over the crowd that was not tobacco smoke, a lot of girls in skirts that had not bought a razor maybe ever (I had never heard of women not shaving at the time and was a bit mystified.  Still not my thing but to each their own and all). This was not that.

Fast forward 26 years (writing that makes me feel old, but lets go with wise, shall we?) and vegetarian is pretty much main stream.  My 16 year old daughter is vegetarian (my sons are not), she has friends that are vegetarian that went to the festival, and my son (22) has dated like 3 vegetarians.  Apparently, it’s a thing now.

The Tampa Bay VegFest had all ages from kids, to high school and college age to  retirement age people. I have to admit that last one surprised me.

Anyways, what was there to do?

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Well, there were lots of vendor booths. Some where selling things like t-shirts (the Hail Seitan, Go Vegan t-shirt was one of my favorites), soaps, jewellery, snacks, pretty much a bit of everything. There were also some great vegan samples. My very favorite was Treeline nut-cheese (that sounds so bad, I know). It was a spread for crackers that all by itself made a case for the deliciousness of vegan food. I had to take a picture that was too bad to share but enough that I could go buy it. There was also a coconut ice cream sandwich that was amazing, which surprised me because I have bought the same brand of vanilla ice cream in the past and didn’t love it.  I’m going to have to try it again.

It was a lovely 90 degree fall day so even wearing a tank top I was happy to hear they had speakers and movies playing at the history center. We only made it to listen to one speaker, but wow was she great.  We got to listen to Jo-Anne McArthur speak about animals she had met during her photojournalist adventures. Adventures sound like great things but in this case not so much. She has traveled the globe to bring us the faces and stories of animals whose lives have been hidden. She has photographed minks and foxes being raised for fur in horrific conditions, factory farm victims, a bear whose life of suffering cumulated in having his paws removed for soup (but was rescued), all sorts of things.  But it’s all tempered with visits to a farm sanctuary full of happy, healthy animals and other sanctuaries which if nothing else allows you a glimpse into lives of people who dedicate themselves to good instead of evil. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that these places do exist.

There was also a food truck circle (yay, food!), bands and a cooking demonstration. I attended the Thai Tacos and Caribbean Rice and Beans demo. The demos were done by the people at thefoodpharmacy.com. Check out their web site, they have all kinds of recipes and videos on how to cook vegan recipes.  Their theme seems to be good, healthy food now instead of drugs and doctor visits later. Radical, right?

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Then there was the mandatory circle of animal rescue groups with dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, even a great big real pig.  I’m a sucker for this section and the partner in crime even put an application for a great dog there.  Should hear back some time this week. A photographer and a blogger and we were so into the dog we forgot to take a picture of her.  FAIL.

All in all a great time. If you’re on Facebook follow them here so that next year you’ll have all the info you need to attend. Bring your compassion and a huge appetite.

Vegan Fine Dining ?!?

I became a vegetarian when I was 17, 28 whole years ago.  Way back then when the dinosaurs were still around the only thing you could find when out to eat was a side salad (iceberg lettuce, 2 cherry tomatoes, croutons, please hold the bacon bits. Um, I said hold the bacon bits…). Fast food joints equaled Taco Bell bean burritos or french fries. They did not do salad.

Back then when I went to McDonald’s and asked for a burger no burger extra veggies 90% of the time I got a blank stare or outright not being nice laughter. Mostly at McDonald’s, still don’t go there anymore. Probably why I still curse too much to this day.

Fast forward to today and I can eat pretty much anywhere besides Cracker Barrel (bacon in the green beans!) or Apple Bees. But as a person who hasn’t ate (eaten? I can’t decide) meat in so long that if I do on accident it’s the equivalent of food poisoning, I sometimes have to ask if there is some kind of meat broth or lard (I love Mexican food) in things and I hate to do it because I don’t want to be a pain.

So you cannot even imagine how excited I was that there were enough vegan restaurants in Asheville to eat at a different one every night of the week.  Not even just vegetarian, vegan!

By far one of the best dining out experiences I have had was at Plant. I decided since I was living large and all that I would go all in and try the raw Lasagna Cruda. I haven’t really tried raw meals before, but all the more reason to try it when someone else is not cooking, right? I only tried it because it was in my I’m-on-vacation-screw-it-I’ll-try-anything mood, but it was one of he most amazing restaurant meals I can even remember. Live herbed almond cheese and kale & pecan pesto almost kept me from trying this, but they ended up being the best part. My definition of restaurant food worth the drive /  money is something that would take me all day to make myself (and still wouldn’t taste as good) and this definitely fit the bill.

Bad picture but it was the kind of place where taking pictures at all seemed kind of over the top. Just trust me.

20151023_201836My partner in crime had the Seitan Chile Co Queso and that was pretty dang amazing too. We actually started the whole thing off with fried plantains drizzled in some undefinable not too hot hot sauce that made me want to eat there every day.

The second night we went to the Laughing Seed Cafe. This was the night after hiking over 8 hours, and in all honesty I think I was leaning against the wall eating half asleep. I took no pictures, ate part of the East West Quesadilla, and basically zombied through what was probably a great meal. All I really remember was they had an amazing bar drink with ginger in it and my partner in crime had a dinner with tofu (neither of our favorites) that was absolutely amazing. Low Country Rollups which was a BBQ sauced wrap that has inspired me to try making something somewhat similar. We shall see.

I don’t know of any restaurants near me like these. There is The Cider Press Cafe out in St. Pete, but it’s fairly far from me so I haven’t tried it yet. Probably eventually.

Do you have any great vegan or vegetarian / vegan restaurants near you? If so where are you, I want to go!

Craggy Gardens

The whole point of driving all the way to Asheville, North Carolina from Tampa was to see fall. I’ve never seen it and though I don’t have a bucket list if I did seeing fall and snow would be on it.

So the first morning we woke we woke up at the you-know-what of dawn (seems to be becoming a weekend ritual) and drove about 45 minutes (I think north?) to Craggy Gardens. Why get up so early when on vacation?

Because this. The top picture is of the sunrise and the clouds we are looking down on. Ya, I’ll wake up for that.

Craggy Garden SunriseAs if that wasn’t enough a baby bear ran in front of the car on the drive up.  Having never seen one I babbled like a 2 year old about it until my partner in crime was probably ready to slip me a Valium, but hey, it was cool. And he pretended like I wasn’t crazy annoying, so all good. 🙂

Once the sun was up we started hiking. Turns out hiking in the mountains for 8 hours after living in totally flat Florida for 8 years was a wee bit tiring.  But totally worth walking being a chore for like 3 days.

2015_10_26_North Carolina trip2I had forgot how much I loved wandering about in the mountains, sloshing up streams and generally spending entire days just exploring outside. The entire day we saw one couple after we had turned back to the car, no one else was on the trail at all. Perfection.

What was missing?  Well, I had kind of expected more color.  There was lots of yellow and gold, but very little reds except for one tiny little tree. The best place of all was about 500 feet of the trail where the leaves on the ground looked like rose petals (in spite of no red in the trees above) which seemed like at any moment a fairy could fly by and you wouldn’t even be surprised.

2015-10-26Now I am not and was not complaining about the lack of red color in the trees, because truly the place was beautiful.  But wait until you see what we found on the drive out.

Classic fall. Can’t wait to show you.

Paddleless Paddleboarding

We interrupt or regularly scheduled  North Carolina trip post for a quick reminder that I am in Florida after all…

One of the reasons paddleboarding never gets old is because it can be the most calm, peaceful activity you can imagine or it can be a crazy good workout or adventure.  It just depends on you, your location, and the weather.  Mostly the weather.

Your body acts like a sail, and when the wind is particularly high it can become impossible to paddle against it without kneeling or sitting down to catch less wind. It can be exhausting and dangerous if you don’t know your limits. So, tip of the day is always paddle out against the wind so when you are getting tired the wind can help you back.  There was one time when just as I turned around the wind changed direction and I think by the time I got back home I slept the rest of the day, but it usually works.

Last weekend we headed out to Fred Howard park, and though the wind was moving along pretty good we hadn’t been out on the boards for 2 weeks so decided to give it a go anyways. After all, who could resist heading out into a morning like this?

SunriseNeedless to say getting to the other side of the little bay area we were in took about 3 times longer than usual.  Heaven forbid you decide to stop to rest, you would end up moving backwards.  Which is actually kind of fun because the fin on the board makes it turn around for you. But still. Tiring, remember?

Heading into the sun is beautiful, but you can’t see a thing in the water because of the reflections.  Heading away from the sun the water is so clear you can see straight to the bottom.

2015-11-02Here’s the cool part.  Once we decided to head back we just stood on the boards and on occasion made a slight course adjustment to come in where we needed to.  Check out how fast we were going – no paddling needed.  Keep in mind I was standing on the moving board when you judge my mad videoing skills.

I kind of had a squirrel moment with some birds, but the point is the board was going that fast all by itself.


This is what Tampa residents come home from vacation to. Groovy, right?

3 Legged Art

Right near the border of northern Georgia we happened upon a place that I swear if there are magic places this was one of them.

It was a little shop full of paintings and statues and all kinds of art that the man in the store (definitely a second generation hippy) and his father had created.  Everything from maybe 8 inch paintings to a huge metal elephant, all hung from the wall, the ceiling, leaned haphazardly against each other and generally looking like an old second hand store with really cool art instead of junk.

I thought it was called 3 Legged Art but now looking at the picture there is no D so call it what you like.

3 Legged Art

There was an attached building next store that was full of furniture.  Maybe one of a kind metal table and chair sets, maybe manufactured somewhere and brought in, I don’t know.  They also had huge wooden tables and chairs, each carved from one huge piece of wood. I didn’t take any pictures inside because it seemed disrespectful, almost like stealing but if you ever pass by that way you have got to stop and wander about a bit.

Way out front in a gated area they had all kinds of metal statues imported from Mexico, everything from little dogs to jack-o-lanterns to a big purple dragon.  There was even a metal mattress frame hanging from the ceiling that had been made ornamental with the help of wine bottles and such.

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I would just LOVE to get that dragon, put him in my front yard and listen to my home owners association (aka the bane of my existence) bitch about it.  I’d have to win the lottery though so that they could fine me or whatever they would do.

I really wish I would have asked the guy if I could take a video walking through the shops because he was super mellow and groovy and probably would have said yes.  It wouldn’t have done the place justice but I’d love to share a little of the feeling of the place.