Saturday, December 31, 2016

Coffee Talk: Vacation, Lovecraft, and the New Year.

It's New Year's Eve! I imagine most of you have plans of some kind or the other. Whether it's a party, a small gathering, or curling up under a blanket, I know you'll have a good night. We're going pretty low-key here, although we might get over to a friend's get-together before 2017 arrives. 

As I've mentioned before, this has been a great week off for me. I've seen friends, spent time with my family, gotten out and about, and eaten great food, all while having a lot of fun. My week was capped off by a relaxing & calm two-day trip to Kansas City with my husband. It was an early anniversary trip, and we had a blast. It was also the reason I didn't get this post out today at my usual time. Some of the things I've done over this week, including the Kansas City trip, will be featured in some upcoming blog posts so stay tuned for those.

I was featured in a digital copy of The Lovecraftian Herald, which you can see here. You can find me three posts down on the left. My blog post about Lovecraft and Poe is the reason I was featured, and that's always fun. Check it out if you'd like! 

I've also gotten some research done for The Box as it's now in it's End Stage. The first third of my books are always the Beginning Stage, the second third is the Mid Stage, and the last third is the End Stage. The research I'm doing now is related to the ah-ha! moment I had earlier in the week, and it's a great development in the story. I will be putting up one last teaser before it's finished, but we have a little while yet before that happens.

As 2017 looms over us, it's that time of year when people start reflecting inwardly about how far they've come (or lack thereof), and where they'd like to go (or see changed in themselves) for the coming year. It's a time when people envision a do-over, a restart, a reboot, or a new beginning if you will. It's the time when people make resolutions and start out with the best of intentions.

As for myself, I've had a great year, personally and professionally, and for that I am grateful. I am like most people though, in that I am reflecting upon my life and, while I'm thrilled with how good life has been this year, I definitely have things I would like to see change and happen. It's time, then, for my own resolutions, and I'm hoping that 2017 will be even bigger and better than this year. I hope your year also proves to be better, or just a great, as 2016 was.

Outwardly, we also reflect on others. We think about our friends, the world, and those who's lives impact ours in some way. To that end, I hope that we all take the time here and there to make other people feel good, to reach out to those who need us, and to consider others when we have opportunities to have more than we need. I don't mean that you should give everything you have, but say a kind word to someone who looks down. Complement a friend on how they look. Give a few bucks or a sandwich to that homeless person. If you have a few extra dollars, donate to a charity you admire. 

There are so many ways to project the inward and outward reflections we make as we contemplate this year and the next. They can either be good or bad, depending on the choices we make. Life is a series of choices, and choosing well makes all the difference in the world. Try, then, to make the best choices you can make.

Wishing you all the best, this year and every year,


Friday, December 30, 2016

Recipe of the Week: Best Vegan Biscuits and Gravy, Updated!

I've talked about my love of biscuits and gravy before, and while my standard recipe is a great recipe, I recently surpassed it's greatness. I mean, just look at it!

It just looks delicious, doesn't it? So, how is it made? Read on.

The Best Vegan Biscuits and Gravy


2-3 vegan sausage patties, cut up into small chunks (recipe here)
4 c. unsweetened, unflavored almond milk (any vegan version will work, just make sure it's unsweetened and unflavored)
3 T. coconut oil
1/3 c. unbleached flour
2 t. smoked paprika
1-2 t. salt
2 t. pepper
vegan biscuits (I use a recipe like this but sub 1/3 c. coconut oil for the shortening and sub vegan milk for regular milk)


1. You can make the biscuits ahead of time, or make them now. When you put them in the oven, prepare your gravy.

2. Warm the coconut oil over nearly-high heat in a large frying pan or a dutch oven. When it's liquefied and rippling, add the flour and whisk until incorporated.

3. Immediately add the milk, a half cup at a time, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Keep adding the milk until all of it is incorporated.

4. When the gravy has thickened, turn the heat down to medium. Add the seasonings and sausage chunks.

5. Stir well, then turn the heat down to low until biscuits are done. If already done, move to step 6.

6. Ladle this thick, rich gravy over your biscuits, and sprinkle with some extra paprika. 

7. Enjoy!


*The sausage patties can be made well ahead of time. If I'm making the sausage to use in recipes like this (or for pizza topping), I press the sausage mixture into a greased pie tin and bake at 350 until cooked through. This is easier than making a bunch of patties when you need sausage for recipes instead.

* The biscuits can also be made ahead of time and stored at room temperature. You can also store them in the fridge, just make sure you warm them up first!

*Salt and pepper your gravy to taste. You can also add other seasonings, but I find simple is best for a recipe like this and stick to these three.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Latest Libations: 2nd Edition

Good morning, and Happy Wednesday! I'm really enjoying my downtime from work. I've gotten to spend quality time with both of my kids (at the same time no less), I've been catching up with friends, and I'm generally feeling much more relaxed than I have in quite some time. I also had an 'ah-ha!' moment yesterday while working on my latest book, and, trust me, that's a very good thing! 

Anyway, as I've mentioned before, I do love to imbibe in some good spirits, and I especially love trying new flavors. With my birthday and the holiday recently I've gotten to enjoy some wonderful drinks, and I'd like to share them with you. 

First up is some Strawberry Mead made by the local Moonstruck Meadery. I've enjoyed their mead on several occasions, courtesy of the Nebraska Renaissance Faire, but had never gotten a chance to visit the meadery itself. With my birthday looming over the horizon earlier this month, I was searching for a good Groupon that my husband and I could use on the special occasion and ran across one for the Moonstruck Meadery. We ate a meal and sampled different meads via a flight, and, of course, brought a bottle home. Delicious!

Good old Leinenkugel's Cranberry Ginger Shandy. Hardly a beer, but tasty and flavorful anyway, it's a good sipping beer for the holiday. 

Typically, my husband and I will each get a "Mix-a-Six" and then a 12-pack sampler to enjoy. In this vein, then, we purchased a 12-pack sampler of Sierra Nevada beers. This brewery has dark, robust, and deep beers. This one is Maple Scotch, and I had never seen it before, but I really fell in love with it. I've had plenty of scotch ales in my day, but never one that tasted this good!

Abita Brewing Company's Turbodog is a Brown Ale. I've enjoyed Samuel Smith's Brown Ale before, and I've enjoyed the fruity, but not sweet, offerings by Abita before, but never an Abita brown ale. It's good, but not great.

Another from the Sierra Nevada pack, Kellerweis is a Bavarian-Style Wheat beer. My favorite beer of all time, Franziskaner Heffeweissbier, is a Bavarain-Style Wheat beer. While this Kellerweis is good, it cannot touch the awesomeness of Franziskaner.  

I've seen Coney Island Brewing's other offerings of Hard Orange Cream Soda and Hard Root Beer, so when I saw their Hard Ginger Ale in the Mix-a-Six section, I thought I'd try it. This is odd, mainly because I'm not a ginger ale fan, but something compelled me to grab it. I'm so glad that I did! If they made just ginger ale, I'd probably drink it because it was that good. It was an extremely rich and tasty ginger ale with alcohol that you couldn't taste. In other words, it's dangerously delicious. 10/10 will buy an entire 6-pack of next time.

Last up is the Coffee Stout by Sierra Nevada. I love me a stout once in awhile, and this one did not disappoint. It's got the heavy body you'd expect in a stout, but with the flavor of cold-brewed coffee. For those of you who might not think they would go together, flavor-wise, you wouldn't be more wrong. The dark and rich body of both drinks completely complement each other, and Sierra Nevada has brewed the perfect blend.

And there you have it: the beers I've been sampling as of late. I would like to point out that I do not binge drink, I enjoy drinking beers as a past time, and not simply a means to get completely drunk and stupid. So, please, drink well--meaning drink good, quality beers on occasion--but drink responsibly. Have a great rest of your week!


Monday, December 26, 2016

Ipsy's December Glam Bag

Good morning. I hope you had a good holiday with friends and family! I know we sure did. It was nice and relaxing, and I get more of the same this week as I don't go back to work until the 3rd. For those of you who are back to work today, have a great day.

 Now, on to the important stuff. *wink wink* It's sub time again with this month's Ipsy! Let's get started. 

Can I just say that this month's bag is so cute! This shaggy, pink bag with a wrist strap is fantastic. I'd have to say it's one of my favorite bags, and it's pictured here with the card.

The contents of the bag. I've actually used all of them already!

First up is Ouai Haircare's Wave Spray. It's got a nice scent, and while it doesn't deliver body, it does deliver some gentle waves. Spray a light mist on damp hair, scrunch, and go.

Cake's Heavy Cream. This is a self-proclaimed "intensive hand repair balm". I have used it a couple of times so I cannot attest to this claim (although it is really rich and a little goes a long ways), but it actually smells like heavy cream with a touch of birthday cake. Heavenly.

Tarte's Maracuja oil. This is a face oil for use at night. You use a few drops right before bed for overnight moisturizing for those with seriously dry skin. Along with the lotion, this is perfect for dry winters. I take showers in the morning, and with my combination skin, I get really dry patches afterwards. I, then, use a few drops of this oil on my cheeks and neck and let it soak in before using primer and it helps a bunch!

Ciate of London's Liquid Velvet gloss in the color "Pin Up". Not my first makeup item by them--but my first lip color by them--this is a rich, creamy, and dreamy color. I adore various shades of pink and purple best, so this goes along well with my makeup in general. It's a deep pop of color, so works best for night looks.

Last, but not least in any way, is an eyeshadow by Nyx in the color "Punk Heart". As I mentioned about the liquid lip color above, pink and purple shades are my absolute favorite. This purple is amazingly fantastic. It looks fabulous and goes on perfectly with no fallout. I used it every day last week!  It's definitely a color I will purchase when this one runs out.

And there you have it, another month of the wonderful world of Ipsy. I really enjoyed this month's sub, moreso than the others I've gotten. As always, if you'd like to get in on it yourself, head over to their website

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Yuletide Greetings!

Happy Yule! Here in my house, we celebrate Yule. I am a Swede by heritage with both of my paternal grandparents being from Sweden. We always celebrated the holiday on Christmas Eve by having a big meal in the evening followed by opening presents. Then, on Christmas Day, we would open the gifts in our stockings.

After I had my own family, I carried on the tradition. We also have a few of our own traditions. I always serve something different for our Yule meal, tonight will be Chinese food, and, after we eat, we will open gifts. Tomorrow morning, I will set out a big table full of snack foods and goodies for us to munch on all day, thereby ensuring I don't have to cook or clean. Much like the day after Thanksgiving, the day after Yule is an easy day where I will relax and eat at my leisure. The kids will open up their stockings and enjoy the little assortment of gifts in there. It's like bonus Yule! 

I am now on my official Holiday leave from work, like most everyone else at my job. I work at the local University, and we shut down for ten days (this year) over the holidays. I'm looking forward to sleeping in a lot; visiting with friends I don't get time to normally spend time with; getting out and doing things with my kids & husband; getting more time to work on my book; doing things I normally don't get a chance to do; and getting out of town for a few days on an adult trip with my husband. 

I hope, however you celebrate, that your holiday is wondrous and full of food, laughter, and love. I'm reminded, especially during this time of year, how fortunate I am. I never take that fact for granted, no matter how tough things can seem at times. I wish for you the same.

From mine to yours, best wishes for a holiday season,


Friday, December 23, 2016

Coffee Talk: Afternoon Edition

Image courtesy of swingjuice

Good afternoon! Here I am posting coffee talk in the afternoon. I know, unusual for me, but I have a good excuse. Yesterday was my birthday, and I stayed up late watching a movie, eating pizza, and drinking beer with my husband and one of my closet friends. I had a lot of fun, but I definitely did not rush out of bed this morning. Besides, my kids are out of school now for the Winter break and it's my husband's regular day off, so that meant I didn't have to get anybody up or drive them anywhere. So, I stayed in bed until I had to take a shower.

Anyway, tomorrow morning will see a regular Saturday post with a peek at one of my monthly subs. Hmm, I wonder which one? You'll have to stop by in the morning and check. I'm quite excited for this day to end, and not just because it's Friday. My job closes down over the holidays, so after I get off work today, I don't have to come back to work until Tuesday, January 3rd. Yep, that means ten whole days off! That's ten days of writing, sleeping in, seeing friends, spending time with my kids, and even getting away for a weekend with my husband. I might even get The Box finished....maybe. 

Tonight, my husband and I are going out for my birthday and I'm excited for that as well. We're going to eat dinner at the same Meadery that makes the mead served at my beloved Nebraska Ren Faire. I hope your Friday looks fun, and your weekend even better. I'll see you tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Portrait of Omaha: Saint Cecilia Cathedral

Good morning! It's time for another installment of Portrait of Omaha. It's a photo series I'm doing that showcases some of the historical, iconic, and unique spots that make up Omaha. Today, I'm going to show you Saint Cecilia's Cathedral.

Saint Cecilia's is a huge Roman Catholic cathedral. Construction on the structure began in 1905 and was completed in 1959. One of the largest cathedrals in the United States, it's built in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style and beautifully looms high above the skies of Omaha. If it sounds impressive, that's because it is. Whether you're religious or not, if you appreciate art and architecture this is a do-not-miss spot in the city.

As it's a Catholic church, it is open to the public every day, and you can always count on seeing at least one other person while there. If you're interested in seeing it for yourself, you can find it on the corner of 40th and Burt Streets, just south of Cuming Street. It's absolutely gorgeous inside, so let's take a look shall we?

The outside of Saint Cecilia's rises high into the sky, seemingly touching the clouds.

A view looking up from just outside the front entrance. The architecture is inspiring, and the Spanish Renaissance Revival style is evident in the details.

As you make your way inside and walk down the Nave (the main aisle of a church), make sure to look up. 

This is one of many doors you will find inside the church. It has a beautifully, hand-crafted metal frame with decadent stained-glass windows.

A close-up of the metal frame and stained-glass from the previous photo.

Along either side of the Nave and rows of pews, lie two aisles. This one, to the right of the Nave, runs directly to the cordoned-off area behind the altar.

A view up above the Narthex, you can see the impressive organ pipes of the church.

One of a couple of short staircases that lead off the aisles, it leads to nowhere in particular. It's function is probably simply to admire the detail in the stained-glass, and contemplate things.

Off to the right of the Narthex, after entering, you will find this statue. I guess it to be a young Jesus and his father, Joseph, but I could be wrong about that.

A small chapel can be found off of the right aisle, and it's exquisite and rich. An ornate ceiling, fantastic painting, red stained-glass, and a large chandelier adorn this small room.

A close-up of the ceiling and one of the stained-glass windows from the aforementioned chapel. It's lovely to look at.

A view, from the left aisle, of the Apse of Saint Cecilia's Cathedral. Therein lies the main altar of the church with it's large crucifix and domed ceiling.

Walking around Saint Cecilia's is truly a feast for the eyes and mind, and a must-see for anyone with a love of history, art, and architecture. It's an iconic piece of Omaha, and I hope you can see if for yourself one day. For more information about Saint Cecilia's, you can visit their website here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Recipe of the Week: Broccoli Soup with Croutons

Broccoli "Cheese" Soup with Homemade Croutons

Ahh, Winter. The perfect time to stay at home, curled up under some blankets, while reading a book or watching a movie with a steaming hot cup of cocoa, tea, or maybe even a stiff drink. It's time to warm up the house with the scent of baking, and cook some rib-sticking meals. One of my favorite rib-sticking meals for Winter are soups and stews. (I've elaborated more on that, including the pans I use, here.)

I've had a bag of yellow split peas hanging around for a long time, so I soaked them overnight, determined to make a soup out of them. My husband, on hearing that I planned on making soup, asked, "You have those broccoli heads in the refrigerator, why don't you make a cheesy-broccoli-style soup?" That got my brain working double-time, and so I did what I often do, and that's wing it.

We thought croutons would be good on top of the soup, and we were right. You can use already-made croutons, but homemade ones are easy and better tasting if you have some leftover bread. The whole thing turned out yummy, and my husband was even impressed. He admitted that it actually tasted much like cheesy broccoli soup. Here's how it came together:

Broccoli Cheeze Soup with Homemade Croutons


2 lbs yellow split peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
10 c. vegetable stock (keep more on hand for adding if soup needs more liquid)
2 heads broccoli, cut up into small florets
3/4 c. nutritional yeast
1 t. turmeric
1 T. mild curry powder
2 t. smoked paprika
1 T. parsley flakes
1 - 2 t. cayenne pepper
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. onion powder
2 t. salt
2 t. pepper

3 c. of hearty bread, cut into cubes
2 T. olive oil
pinch of salt


For the soup:

1. Cook split peas, seasonings, and vegetable stock in a dutch oven, over medium high heat, until soft and mushy. This takes a few hours, but stove-time can vary so just check it every so often.

2. When peas are soft and mushy, transfer half of them into a bowl and let cool for about 15 minutes.

3. Turn to stove down to simmer.

4. Add the cooled peas, along with the nutritional yeast, into a high-powered blender.

5. Blend until smooth.

6. Transfer the mixture back into the dutch oven with the other half of the pea soup.

7. Add the broccoli and turn the stove back up to medium-high heat.

8. Add more stock/broth as needed.

9. Cook until broccoli is tender.

For the croutons:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.. Add the bread cubes, oil, and salt to a bowl and toss until well-coated.

3. Transfer to a baking sheet.

4. Bake until crisp, approximately 10 minutes.


Make the croutons right before serving the soup. Toss some on top of a bowl of the soup, and enjoy! You can blend up all of the soup for a creamier texture, but I prefer the body that some of the whole peas give. Either way, it would be perfectly delicious. And, as always, you can alter or change the seasonings you use depending on what you have and your favorites. For instance, I've been on an Old Bay kick, so that was added to this soup as well.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Lovecraft & Poe

H.P. Lovecraft
Edgar Allan Poe

In another post recently, I talked about my love of macabre fiction. This love was fostered when  my dad's best friend gave me his copy of Stephen King's Pet Sematary. My appreciation of the genre was even furthered by my dad when he came across his old horror comic books from the 1960s. After giving them a nostalgic once-over, he gave them to me when I was about 9 or 10, and a fan was born. 

I'm still a die-hard fan of King's, but it was this gesture on my dad's part that really fostered a deep appreciation for Horror Fiction. As the years moved on, I graduated to reading Clive Barker, Thomas Tryon, and Dean Koontz, among many others. I enjoyed them all immensely, and devoured any book I could get my hands on.

It was my dad's old comic books (you can read the post I wrote about them here) and old books that he had kept--like Weird Tales--that piqued my interest in writers of the macabre older than them. I'm talking about H.P Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. Poe, in particular, was a favored author to use for Creepy and Eerie magazine stories, and I can remember how much those illustrated stories both mesmerized and frightened me. I can remember The Call of Cthulu and how uniquely different it was from the horror fiction I had read before.

As I got older, I began to actively seek out Lovecraft and Poe books to read, deciding that I should go straight to the source. Between Lovecraft's The Picture in the House, to Poe's The Cask of Amantillado, I spent many hours poring over their fiction. To this day, their work still packs a punch, and they still hold a large influence over my likes, my tastes, and my life.

Have you read any Poe and/or Lovecraft? If so, what have you read, and what do you think of these stories? Leave me comments below.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Random Pictures from the Last Few Weeks

I made some tostadas recently. It's like an open-faced taco, and it's fabulous. For this one I slathered some black refried beans on the tostada shells, then added fried, seasoned potatoes; southwestern corn; spinach; sweet Italian peppers; plain coconut yogurt; and plenty of hot sauce. Yum!

Before the weather turned cold, Nature Girl and I spent a lovely afternoon at Schramm State Park. I took this picture of my reflection as we crossed over the suspension bridge during our hike.

Whenever we complete a hike at Schramm, we walk through the fish hatchery ponds, which always affords a lovely view, no matter what time of year.

This is a geological rock formation at Schramm State Park. There really is plenty to do here, and this is one of those things. You can climb amongst the strata and imagine you're in the mountains.

My husband has a fondness for old-timey, cheap beer, and Hamm's would be one of those beers. I will occasionally drink one, and I'm always reminded of the old commercials where they sang about the "sky-blue waters".

The trees are now firmly devoid of any leaves, but I snapped this picture of one of the last trees that was still graced with a few.

This is a close-up of a lava lamp. I thought it looked cool all lit up.

Last, but not least, is our Christmas tree, complete with gifts. NG made plenty of homemade presents, as well as all the bows for the presents we wrapped for the kids.

I hope your Friday is great! The weekend is here, and tomorrow is going to be viciously cold. I plan on spending the coldness by staying indoors and keeping the house warm by indulging in a rare event: baking. 

Until next time,


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Seeing Things Through

What is about finishing things that get people worked up? I don't just mean for the people who don't finish things, but also for the people who are waiting for some people to finish things. There are many things in life that people don't finish, or follow through on. Many people start projects that are never completed. Ideas start to fruition, then flounder into nothing. And, is the case with writers such as myself, many start books, but never finish them. 

There are two reoccurring themes in each scenario: 1. A great idea was formed, and 2. There were good intentions. This means that many great ideas are come up with, with the greatest of intentions, but for whatever reason, the idea faded into obscurity. The worst of these to fade are the ones that are actually started, halfway there, or close to completion; particularly the last one. 

I, myself, understand this failure to finish all too well. I tried quitting smoking a few times before I was actually successful. One time, I even made it a few weeks before failing yet again. My first book, Cold, sat on my computer--three chapters in--for two years before I picked up where I left off and finished it. My best intentions were there, but I just didn't have the follow-through at the time.

Finally quitting smoking was the first time I really felt like I had "finished what I had started". This feeling intensified when I finished Cold and was followed by feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. You want to hear a confession? Cold isn't that great of a book. Look, it's not bad, but it's just...well...okay. And that's all right. Each book I've written since then has been a true learning experience, and I can see how much I've changed and grown as a writer during the process. That book paved the way for better books and better writing.

So, why don't we finish those pesky things we start? Is it because we lose our passion for that thing after we get started? Is it because we run out of inspiration? Is it because we're afraid of failing, and that the end product will be terrible? Truthfully, it's probably a combination of those things, and maybe a few other reasons. 

We need to move past those in order to finish things. Finishing things is seeing things through, and that's important for a few reasons. When we complete projects, we prove to ourselves that we can do it and that we're not afraid to fail sometimes. Every thing we see through leads the way for more things to be completed, giving us a satisfaction that would otherwise be lacking. It also means that we're more confident in our abilities, that we'll try new things, and leaves us with a sense of achievement.

So, wrap-up  that project, book, painting, guitar lesson, organizing your closet, or what-have-you. Then, complete another. I'm glad everyday that I quit smoking or that I finished that first book. I've finished more books since then, but I wouldn't have if I hadn't of finished the first one.



Monday, December 12, 2016

Coffee Talk: Lazy Winter Days

Good morning and Happy Monday. I just grabbed a hot cup of coffee from a freshly brewed pot, and it's already starting to perk me up. I made sure to get a good night's sleep last night as I had stayed up late the previous three nights, but had still gotten up early. In other words, I was tired and needed the sleep.

As I mentioned before, the weather has definitely gone to the colder side. We've only had a couple of light dustings of snow that melted quickly, but the cold wind is here. No matter how much I bundle up before going outside, I still get chilled to the bone. Is it any wonder then, that I've really had the urge to hibernate this year, more so than any previous year? 

When the weather is beautiful, I get outside. In fact, when the weather is beautiful, I feel compelled to go outside. I just want to be out there, soaking it all in. Then, the weather turns cold, and I want to stay inside where it's warm and cozy. Nature Girl and I have started spending our mother-daughter Sundays enjoying time together indoors, playing games, watching television, coloring, and doing some cooking. We boil water in the kettle and make herbal teas and hot cocoas while we huddle up in slippers and comfy blankets.

Inevitably, I'll get more acclimated to the colder weather and will venture outside more, but for now, I'll relish some cozy time with my family.

I finally feel like I'm ready to start talking about that other book I've metioned...the one that is different from my other work. It's called Lola and the Machine, and, instead of my usual paranormal thriller, it's a dystopian/cyberpunk story with adult content. It's a longer story than my other ones, and will take me much longer to complete. Besides, I have some other work to finish (like The Box) before I can devote any more time to the project. But, I will, and I'll be sure to keep you posted along the way.

Now that I'm well-rested and I have that first cup of coffee in me, I am ready for Monday. I hope you are too, and that your week starts off great.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Latest Libations: 1st Edition

Good morning, and Happy Saturday! Ahh, I love the weekend, and mine's off to a great start. I had a pleasant Friday evening watching a television show (I know, right? Me? Watching television shows? Eh, I wanted a music break.), hanging out with my little family, and drinking some beers.

Beer is one of those things, people either love it or hate it. When I was a teenager and we found someone's older sister to buy us some booze, somehow I ended up with an Old Milwaukee one night. I decided right then and there that beer was gross and I hated it.

Fast forward about eight years later when I was in my early twenties, and began hitting the bars almost nightly with my friends. When you have a limited income, drinking whatever beer is on tap is usually your cheapest option. So, after awhile, I grew to enjoy the taste of beer. As the years went by, beer became one of my favorite drinks. Now, I enjoy beer on a whole different level, and I like to try new kinds and visit breweries whenever I get a chance.

A local grocery store chain has a "Mix a Six" deal where you mix and match a six-pack from a variety of beer singles. My husband and I love doing this as we can experiment and try new flavors. Here, then, are a few of the beers I've tried out recently.

Lucky Bucket's Certified Evil Imperial Oatmeal Stout

This is a proper dark beer. It's deep, rich, and creamy, leaving you with a pleasant aftertaste and a sense of great satisfaction. I love the gothy vibe of the bottle as well, "Dark and Brooding" indeed.

Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin

This is an IPA, something my husband is fond of but I don't particularly care for. This particular IPA though is infused with natural grapefruit flavor, which my husband is fond of, and so he convinced me to give this one a try. I have to say, it's about the only IPA I'd purposely drink. It's not overpowering with the hops flavor that is standard with IPAs, and it's got a subtle grapefruit flavor that gives it a lighter finish and kind of balances out the hops.

Woodchuck's Gumption Hard Cider

I was never much of a hard cider fan, especially after consuming a few too many Reds, but that all changed after my trip to Ireland. Over there, they have Bulmer's Hard Cider, and it's fantastic. I've had good luck finding quality hard ciders, and this is one of those. I was skeptical at first because I'm not a huge fan of Woodchuck Cider, but this is different. Woodchuck's Gumption Hard Cider is absolutely delicious. It's darker than a standard cider, giving it some body, and the apple flavor is reminiscent of fresh squeezed cider. 

Stiegl's Grapefruit Radler

Radlers are also coming into vogue, and since this one is a grapefruit one, my husband brought it home one day. Radlers are beer mixed with soda, and this one, of course, is grapefruit soda. I love it. I think Radlers are fantastic, but be careful, they go down quick and easy.

Warsteiner's Dunkel

What can I say that hasn't already been said about Warsteiner. Warsteiner is one of the most recognizable beer brands in the world, and this is their Dunkel. I prefer dunkels whenever I hit up an Oktoberfest, and Warsteiner has a corner on the market. Still.

Ciderboy's Pineapple Cider

This was another hard cider I decided to try on a whim. It's very sweet and reminds me more of a pineapple soda rather than an alcoholic beverage. I won't get these again, but I'd drink one if someone handed it to me.

There you have it, some of the beers I've enjoyed recently. What kinds of drinks to you enjoy? Are you a beer connoisseur like myself? What kinds have you been drinking lately? Leave me a comment!