Summer Job and a Successful Irish Stout

I am looking forward to the summer. Why? I am looking forward to the summer because I have a way to occupy it that is within my field and financially responsible. Indeed, dear reader, I got a job as a scenic artist at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Ultimately, the job description is very similar to the one that I do the rest of the year, but summer stock has a way of amping up the intensity on even the most mundane of tasks. Usually, one is building and painting full scale productions in a very short time period (a week is a luxury) and those shows are put into rotation (usually called Rep) over the course of a few weeks. Imagine doing what you normally do over a single week and then take that and accomplish the same amount in less than half the time. Yeah, the hours can get pretty wild. Luckily, this place sounds like they actually care about a person’s time and health. So, while I fully expect plenty of long days (and nights) filled with intensely creative cyclones, I also anticipate having a massive amount of fun being in a new environment. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I seriously love my job, but I am almost glad that I have three months away. Sure, it would be nice to not have to go on the hunt for a job in the summer. However, that means that I have to keep my portfolio up to date, I get to work in different places as well as with different people, and I don’t get bored during my hiatus from the Stage. Plus, I get a sweet little cushion between my summer job starting and Stage season ending so I get an actual break before all the madness. I have many a scheme for that month that make me rather giddy indeed.

Also, on a totally unrelated note, I have discovered a new craft. Well, craft brewing to be exact. Ladies and Gentlemen, this blogger has officially brewed her first batch of beer! Handsome got into brewing last year and when we moved here I made it clear that I would love to learn. Thus, a few months back, we got our kit and equipment and we now have our first beer fully carbonated and delicious while our second has just been bottled. First beer is an Irish Stout that came out rather fantastic. I know to some it probably tastes something like petroleum, but as someone who loves a good stout, I am deeply in love with ours. I practically glow with pleasure when I taste the thing that I and my gorgeous partner put together…and it doesn’t scream “DISGUSTING” or “AMATEUR”! I won’t go into too much detail because I realize brewing is one of those things that is far more rewarding to drink than to wax poetic about, but I will say that I thoroughly enjoy the process. Even if it means we now have way more beer than we ever thought of drinking comfortably.

Kentucky Journey Part 2: Good Food, Good Company

My journey did allow for some time to enjoy myself. What better thing to do on such a trip than to have excellent food in even more excellent company? So, starting from the beginning….

If you go back a couple posts, you will encounter a whopping helping of chicken and waffles. Handsome found this tiny little hole-in-the-wall called Hammerheads that served this monstrosity, and holy mercy was that dish one of the best things I have ever tasted. I could not do it more than once a year, but once I dug into the thing with my bare hands as my only utensil….let’s just say I was lost. In terms of the next wonderful meal, it starts with the fact that a portion of my former professors were at the conference. While I certainly enjoyed seeing all of them, one professor (who will henceforth be known as the Alchemist) was someone whom I shared a strong relationship as a colleague, professor, and friend. When I discovered he was at the conference, I immediately contacted him. After a series of texts, we agreed to go to dinner on Friday night. I told him I would be accompanied by Handsome, and with that said I eagerly awaited that evening.

We had decided to do Ethiopian food, because rumor had it there was a particularly good restaurant near the hotel. I will be completely transparent with you and say that my palette is extremely limited, particularly when it comes to ethnically based foods ( in my mind that means things like Indian, Thai, Afghan etc.) It breaks my heart, because when I taste such food, I can tell it is really delicious. The problem is that the taste is just not jiving with my personal buds. The usual culprit? Hot spices. Yup, I have the same tolerance to spiciness that a seagull has to Alka-Seltzer (supposedly seagulls explode from the inside out when you give them this fizzy product). Despite my misgivings, I knew Handsome and the Alchemist would enjoy it, and I usually always try all types of food regardless if I think I will like it or not. Thus, I found myself in a tiny Ethiopian restaurant called Addi’s Grill in excellent company. The man who ran the place also took our order, and after many apologies for the wait (apparently he was not used to the amount of customers that an influx of theatre-people can provide), he recommended that I get the vegetarian dish as it would be the least likely to burn my mouth off. I gratefully agreed, and this was what was given me

20130315-184549.jpgYah dude, I was a little speechless. That bread type substance is called injera, and it was kind of a cross between a flatbread and a pancake for me. You break off pieces of the injera and use it to scoop/grab various things on top of the even bigger piece of injera underneath. What I will say of the meal is that I really enjoyed how you have to eat it with your hands. Again, I could tell the food was good, and while I did eat a generous portion of my meal, I do not think I will be seeking Ethiopian food again outside of rare occasions. As for the company, I could not have picked two better gentleman to hang out with for the evening. Not only did I have the distinct pleasure of sharing a meal with two people I know, but I also introduced two kindred souls. We were having such a good time that (naturally since we are all beer lovers) we went out to a local brewery that the Alchemist had visited the previous evening. My heart was warmed not only by the excellent drink (suggested by the Alchemist, I got a beer that also had mead mixed in, which is probably one of the best things ever!), and the fact the Handsome and the Alchemist were clearly getting on as if they had been friends since college. The evening ended on an excellent note, with a suggestion from the Alchemist on where we should go for brunch the next morning.

We decided to take the Alchemist’s suggestion, and mercy alive we were not disappointed! What do you get when you combine a kitchy atmosphere,

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scrumptious brunch food…..20130315-192307.jpg

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and the most sensuous tea I have ever encountered?

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why, that would be this place 🙂

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Hillbilly Tea, is a most lovely place, and I truly wished I could have gone more than once. I did purchase two of their excellent teas to enjoy from my own loose lease infuser, and both have proved most fitting choices for my tea tastes.

That’s that then. Truly a most glorious collection of experiences indeed.

Strange Creatures

"He's Mr. Green Christmas, he's Mr. Sun..."

“He’s Mr. Green Christmas, he’s Mr. Sun…”

For those who are unfamiliar with the character above, he is Heat Miser from the fantastic claymation movie The Year Without a Santa Claus. If you want to hear a fantastic song, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy did a cover of the song that is originally sung in the movie by this character and his more wintry brother. In case you’re of my generation and have a certain expectation of linkage, here you are.

Why is this fiery personage making an appearance? He is merely an exaggerated illustration of the friend I met with in Philadelphia last week. He will henceforth be known as Heat Miser, but that is not nickname that is new to him. Considering he is an outstandingly large (as in tall and broad, I am not calling him fat…the boy is 6′-5″ for heavens sake), burly, irishman with a size 17 shoe and carrot red hair, you can see the comparison. The only differences being that he is a little less grumpy (mostly) and tends not to be caught in sparkly things (unless attached to a utilikilt). I met him in high school, and he is basically the closest thing to an annoying older brother that I have.

It had been a long time since we had seen each other, let alone talked. Then, one evening, it just occurred to me to call. Heat Miser is currently touring as a master electrician for one of the larger shows, so I figured he probably wouldn’t have time to chat. Well, fun fact, he did have time to text. Turned out he was in Philly, which just so happens to be extra close to me right now. I had never driven into the city, but I found myself doing so with less than a day’s notice. Philadelphia is a really close city. No, I mean close, as in the streets are so tight I felt a new kinship with bottled ships. I managed to make it without incident, and Heat Miser and I had an excellent time drinking excellent beer and racing to know the last year of the other’s life. Friends are strange creatures. Some can basically be absent from your existence, and then enter back in and barely ruffle the drapes on the windows. Heat Miser is just such a person, and I am the same for him I should think. We are both restless, and therefore keeping constant track of one another is less of an issue because we know the truth. We will find our way back to a good talk, good beer, and…..

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…a damn delicious oreo cheesecake 😉

I Swear I’m Here

I make no excuses, I only say that my life has events arranged in such a way that blogging as consistently as I once did is proving quite a challenge. However, here are a few new things in my life that I either love or completely detest at this point.

Love: Cigar City Brewing Company I mentioned them in the post before the giant voting sticker, and I am still totally in love. I am extremely fond of beer, and to have a fantastic (and affordable) local brewery in my area makes me absolutely giddy.

And an excellent logo to boot!

Detest: Gold/Metallic Paint Not exactly new, but it has been present in my life more often in this short time period than previously. For anyone who thinks gold paint is awesome, I must believe that you have not worked with the substance. At first, everything is cool and sparkly. Then….it makes a stupidly obvious mess everywhere that cannot be remedied by begging, pleading, or even a full bottle of GoJO. No longer cool, but still annoyingly sparkly.

Love: Dragonvale I first heard about this game on the CogKnitive podcast from the wonderful and fabulous Dr. Gemma. In her segment “Something I Really Like,” she waxed poetic on the wonders of this game. I listened to her happy exaltations and then promptly forgot them. Then, my dear Handsome was talking about online games last night, and I had the idiotic impulse (you know, the ones that come late at night when you’re tired and your guard is lower than usual) to download this free app. Very. Poor/best/bad/wonderful. Decision. The premise is simple; one buys dragon eggs, hatches them, and then formats an island for said dragons to live upon while doing all kinds of fun things in the interim. Kind of like farmville, just with dragons that are way too cute for comfort. It is simply unfair how nifty this game is, and I am not going to admit how many times I fed my dragons today during my shift.

Too Much Adorable!

Detest: Zep Lubricant No, this is not the fun kind. This is the gak you use to keep the parts on an outdoor stage from rusting together. Extremely effective product, not exactly nice to use. Looks like a bodily fluid, smells like gasoline and contact cement, and it will eat through anything it touches (including skin). Only had to use this briefly, and twas enough for a few lifetimes to be sure. Felt quite terrible for SuperLady who had to use it for miles of chain…ickyyyyy.

Love: Banana Bread Herculine got me hooked on the cake, and now ZeldaStark has become my supplier of the bread. Seriously, every time we go to market, she shows up with a tin-foil-wrapped treasure that smacks of homemade wonder and sunshine. The bread is always moist and perfect. A delightful treat to get me through the week until she comes round again.

Yummmmmm!!!

See? I promise I am still having adventures in living a life, and I promise to update thee as much as possible. And besides, the longer I go without writing, the more I will have to tell you. An excellent scenario, don’t you think?

My Weekend, Quite Perfect

This weekend rocked all kinds of socks, shoes, and other various attire that could be said to do so. Handsome arrived Thursday, and Friday was spent meandering around Lettuce Lake. We stopped at one end of the boardwalk, and I happily sketched away while he took the opportunity to nap. We met a lovely gentleman who was a fellow artist, and we happily passed some time chatting with him about various stuff. Then, we went home and proceeded to prepare for a costume party at Super Lady’s domicile. Sweet Shooter was kind enough to drive, and I was pleasantly surprised by how awesome the party was for me. Normally, I don’t do well in large groups of people, and a good portion of the people at this event were unknown to me. However, a perfect party is had when everyone is friendly and drunk in the enjoyable fashion, and that was exactly how this one ran. I had lovely conversation, enjoyed some Yuengling, and did quite well in a game of giant Jenga. Quite an excellent evening to be sure

The next day, Saturday, Handsome and I decided to go back to Lettuce Lake and rent a canoe for the afternoon. A totally perfect idea. The river was calm, and we saw many a beauteous bird and tree as we made our way. I have a deep fondness for canoeing, ever since my camp days. For a time, I was even certified by the Red Cross in canoeing (yeah, certification for everything these days). I learned most of my skills from a canoe trip I took through the Adirondack State Park. I was 17, and it was probably one of the best weeks of my life. I had not canoed since, but getting back into one on Saturday settled my heart in a strange and glorious fashion. I easily remembered the strokes to steer the vessel with little trouble, and I got to again enjoy the feeling of slicing through that water as though it were a silk curtain. I managed to get some lovely pictures of the trip.

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20121104-220306.jpg20121104-220328.jpg20121104-220343.jpg20121104-220403.jpg20121104-220428.jpg20121104-220428.jpg20121104-220455.jpg20121104-220511.jpgToday was a fitting end to a fabulous weekend. We went to market, and then headed off to The Refinery for brunch. If I have not gushed about this restaurant, or even if I have, I simply must do so now/again. This is my favorite place to eat in all of Tampa, because it is a most unbelievable combination of everything I want in a restaurant. Local produce, interesting menu options, gourmet cooking, excellent drink menu, and surprisingly affordable. I went to brunch with the Gentleman once before, and I have not gone for brunch since. Today was just as unfairly delicious as I remember.

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20121104-220618.jpgAfter stuffing ourselves senseless, Handsome suggested we go take a tour of the Cigar City Brewing Brewery. He had toured there last time he was in town while I was at work, and he was adamant that I would enjoy the experience. He was completely correct (which is not out of the ordinary). Though a very small brewery, Cigar City Brewing is a world renown brewery with seven beers in the list of the top 50 beers in the world (note that no other single brewery, let alone a micro brewery, can claim that many). Our tour was $5, and we were immediately given a pint glass, which we got to keep, and then taken into the small brewery attached to the tasting room. We got to fill our glasses with our beer of choice at the beginning of the tour. Handsome and I went for a dark called Maduro, and what a spectacular choice. The beer was smooth and rich, quite a delightful brew. I never thought I would be one to enjoy beer, but ever since I discovered the rich variety of flavor that one can experience within this beverage, I simply can’t get enough. The tour was concise and informative, and we then wandered back into the crowded tasting room. Handsome and I expressed how much we enjoyed the Maduro, and our tour guide insisted we try the Vanilla Maduro. I cannot even begin to describe how scrumptious this beer’s flavor is, even having had a fair number of different varieties in my short life. The fullness of the vanilla is a perfect accent to the richness already in the beer. Handsome and I were so taken, we bought a growler before we finished our pints. Top all this off with a charming conversation with a couple at the bar, and the time spent at the brewery was a worthwhile experience. Such a great weekend!

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The “Short” Version

Perhaps we shall just put down the short version of life for a moment.

Things That Made This Week Awesome

– My Colleagues: Yes it is true, sometimes the Lord hears the prayers that only our hearts speak. I am blessed to have people like PNinja and Ren Man around. While work was definitely a bit of a marathon to make up for the lost day on Monday, there is an excellent rhythm among the three of us. PNinja and I are not only talented and good looking, but we also work really we together in the midst of creepy places that can potentially undo one. Ren Man is a person who has so much knowledge and experience, yet he is probably one of the most chill people I have ever encountered, which is a quality that allows PNinja and myself to explore without fear that we are going to mess up the project. I know the both of us are going to miss him terribly when he flies away at the end of this upcoming week, but I know that I am extremely glad that I got a chance to work with such an individual.

-Phone Conversations: Indeed, I had the opportunity to speak to lovelings that I have been desperately missing. Today, I spoke to SexyLibrarian, who is a friend I have known since the very beginning of high school. She and I were in a summer program together, and I must say at first we were not fans of each other. I felt that she was an invasive snot, and she had a bias against my Care Bear tee shirt. Needless to say, such silliness was soon swallowed by a friendship that is nothing if not interesting. In the midst of the week, I spoke to Emrys. Now, this guy holds the record for putting up with me as a friend for the longest amount of time (the title goes both ways, just so you know). We met in 6th grade, and let’s just say I was not the incredibly mature and gracious young woman I am today.  He invaded my space (rather obnoxiously I might add), and I slapped him across the face (***Please note, this blogger does not endorse violence. However, there were multiple factors that contributed to her violent tendencies towards the male sex when she was younger and thus would beg the reader not to judge her to harshly****). After that event, our friendship blossomed, and we are knit so closely in our experiences and responses to those experiences that it’s almost uncanny. Finally, Persephone and I had a lovely chat somewhere in the beginning of my week. Persephone is a spritely pixie stick of a lady, and we met in my junior year of high school. I happened upon her eating cheerios in one of our school’s theatres, and I asked to join her. From that conversation, we discovered kindred spirits in almost every form and fashion. Though they are not right next to me here, such people still contribute a huge amount of love and joy to my existence.

-Knit Group: Always a light in the week 🙂

-Today: What did I do? PNinja and I had only a few hours of work, parted company to run some errands, and then rejoined at her domicile where we proceeded to veg out on television and stovetop popcorn. As someone who does not own a TV, it is a rare and special thing to join someone in the watching. We watched Faceoff, Thor, and Day Breakers, conversing the whole time. Another tech from work joined us for Day Breakers, then I bid them farewell so they could enjoy some video games.

What I Am Looking Forward To

– Farmer’s Market: Tomorrow, ZeldaStark and I hit the farmer’s market with our new baskets for some yummy produce. I do dearly miss her during the week, and it seems that this Sunday market business may become a thing to do together, so my heart is very glad.

-Another Phone Conversation: This time with Handsome, who is definitely super fun to converse with on any occasion. Perhaps that back story will come another time 😉

– New Travel Mug: Bought it today because my other one is nasty. Yay Busch Gardens employee store!!!

-Haircut: With color this time, let’s hope it goes as well as the last visit.

– World of Beer in Awesome Company: So, there is this magical place I have heard tell of that has hundreds of beers on tap. Take this magical place, and throw a friend who I have not seen since WordBridge into the mix, and you have one very excited panda over here!!

Now that I have certainly made up for my days of not posting, (remember, that’s the short version), adieu dear reader, may active peace follow you.