Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chop, Chop.

Thanksgiving was festive and lovely this year and we spent it in Omaha at my parents place. The following weekend we headed down to southern Colorado (near the Springs) to get ourselves a good old fashion Christmas tree - cue Clark Griswold.

Cutting down a Christmas tree is a big family tradition for us that  we started with our pseudo family member "Uncle Bacon" 5 years ago. As a toddler, Ian loved the adventure for about 5 minutes... he ran free through the snow giggling, and then he realized it was hard work and said "mama hold you." I carried that little stinker down the ravine, up the hills, and though the woods - pretty sure it was comparable to a crossfit workout. Despite the physical fitness challenge, we found ourselves a tree and I only had to cut the top off of it 3 times once we got it home to be able to fit the star.

I think what I love most about chopping down our tree (aside from the family made memories) is that they are NOT Christmas lot trees. They aren't perfect and they sometimes need a few extra ornaments to fill in a bare spot, but they are extra special and real as they exist in nature.

The McG's and our tree

My little buddy is precious.
Auntie Em and Uncle Bacon making there way in

Mama and Ian....this is the point that he wouldn't let me put him down

Todd checking out his goods

Eddie LOVING the snow

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Birthday Beer Bash 2.0

Yet another year has come and gone for old Johnny McG. So what did we do to celebrate? Drank beer, of course. Being that John is beyond annoyingly obsessed with beer he loves and I mean LOVES an excuse to crack open his "cellar" and do an annual (which we have decided will likely be bi-annual...get ready to mark your calendars for this summer) beer tasting. His hope is that you are exposed to something you haven't tried before, hopefully you learn something new, but bottom line it's all about having a good time drinkin' beer.

This year's line up had 54 beers to taste.  Naturally, John has a spreadsheet that categorized the evenings' sampling into groupings which he rolled out throughout the night. I wish I could say that after blowing through 54+ bomber bottles that we really freed up some space in the old cellar, but I cannot. Did I also mention that John has a hoarding beer obsession? He is constantly picking bottles up and stashing them for that "right moment" ... that right moment usually includes sharing with friends he knows will also appreciate them.  Point being, feel free to stop by our house at any time for an impromptu tasting. 

Once again, the menu for the evening included all beer infused food...

  • Beer Mac-N-Cheese with Bacon : This went like hotcakes... next year I'll make a vat. The Italian in me still wants to die at the fact that this ran out, but guess that's also a sign that it was good. And I'll have you know that I tripled the recipe. 
  • Beer Cheese Dip : My brother-in-law, Todd, was basically spooning this in his's an EASY winner. And in all honesty you can throw in beer in there. Super simple and tasty.
  • Chili Beer Chicken Wings: Going to be honest...didn't love these wings. WAY too salty (I think it was the soy) and something was just off (maybe it was the fact that the wings I got from the grocery were freaking huge). Wouldn't do it them again.
  • Stout Cupcakes : I used this recipe, but used Fort Collins Brewery Double Chocolate Stout instead of Guiness, and obviously I converted it to cupcakes. Personally, I think these were amazing.
  • Sober up mix: Ok, that's just what I called it... this would be a good thing for any party though. Ya know, step it up from your standard store-bought mix. 
OH! OH! AND I almost forgot the "slow turtle" made it out for the party.... Have you forgotten about him? Here's a refresher.

Pretty sure this is the only appropriate use of the turtle in a non-douche bag way...
Alerting you to SLOW for adult beverages.
Honestly, I'm surprised the Stapleton police weren't called for misuse of the turtle.  

Some of the line up.

Everyone was able to pick up their own tasting glass. Hint, hint I got these puppies from IKEA and then slapped some chalkboard labels on the so everyone could mark their name on them. I still lost my own taster no less than 3 times. 

We also did some voting for people's favorite beer of the night.

Just got stamps to fancy up my disposable sporks... I'm not kidding I really think stamps are great.
I sort of love my discovery of re-usuing beer cans as "holders. " It's as easy as using a can-opener to pop off the top and
TA-DA!!  You now have the perfect vessel to hold utensils OR act as a vase for flowers. 

These plates were a big hit. You can find them at your local Crate and Barrel for like 20 bones.

The crack dip...  (if only I could get this stupid pic to rotate)

Gretchen is having fun with cheese, but please note Todd in the background...what's in his hand? Oh that would be the beer cheese dip.  Woof.

Beer can floral arrangement

Gotta have munchies when everyone is downing big beers

This was likely gone .2 seconds after this photo was taken 
Stout Braised Sliders with Cheddar, Pickled Onions, and Horseradish Cream

Bacon enjoying a chili beer wing

I made up little score cards for everyone to be able to rate the beers they tasted and keep track of what they liked/didn't

In. His. Element.

Cheers folks!! That's a wrap for 2013... join us again later this TBD.  Thanks to all who came.  And a special thanks to all those who came, threw down, and took cabs (you are our favorite people).

The People's Choice Winner was: Tart of Darkness. I personally thought it was ah-maze-ing. It's from The Brewery out of California, and if you haven't gotten a taste of this I recommend you do so. Like it's name it's tart, but for those into sours this doesn't disappoint.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sister's Big Day

I am behind... again... what else is new? I think I mentioned that we attended 3 weddings in September, one of which was my sisters. I thought it was lovely, so lovely that I'm going to share a few of the professional photos with you. The photographer was Happy Confetti Photography.

The maids getting dressed

Ian sees "Emmy" for the first time that day
Dapper lad getting ready. The hat did not last.

Me, Sis, Mom

the McG Clan...on a stroll...
My little family
The ladies 
The gents being silly 

Ian, Eddie, and Todd's sisters going down the aisle

Chalkboard Calligraphy by Pink Ink Paper

John walking mama H down the aisle

The ombre affect...
Crooked Willow Farms in Larkspur, CO
Toddlers don't always follow directions...
he thought the petals needed to be picked/played with up mid-ceremony

Cheers! Happy Couple!

The detail on the cake was icing molded from the lace on Emily's Bride dress... impressive!
The cake was by Intricate Icing