Tis the season to be crafty (fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la).

Even though I’m not one to start blasting Christmas music the day after Halloween or to start grabbing wrapping paper off the shelves before Thanksgiving, I will definitely be tasting and trying some new holiday traditions this year. From “wow, does this really exist?”, to “seriously, you can actually make that?”, I’ve discovered new tricks up my sleeves to having a more wonderful holiday season.

Alright, so you know the typical draft beers: MillerCoors, Budweiser, Pabst, etc. What comes with draft beers? Standard taste; average, same-old-same-old, one in the same. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some draft beers. But when you’re looking for a new, unique, bold taste, you have to go with a craft beer. Let’s define a craft beer, shall we?

According to brewersassociation.org, a craft brewery is defined as being “small, independent and traditional”.

Retrived from http://bit.ly/1xTYnDn.

Retrived from http://bit.ly/1xTYnDn.

Craft breweries produce less than six million barrels per year, and less than 25% of the company is owned by a member that is  not  a craft brewer. Also, a majority of the ingredients in craft beer come from traditional brewing practices.

A perfect example of a company that produces these “traditional ingredients”  is Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. Born and raised  in  Chilton, WI, Briess creates  an array of malts with a touch of Wisconsin flair to enhance craft beers across  the nation,  including  Milwaukee Brewing Co!

Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1xTYMpu.

Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1xTYMpu.

A few examples of other popular craft beers are Sam Adams, Dogfish Head,  Capital,  Lagunitas, and Goose Island. Below are the craft beers I’m most  excited to try this  winter:

Alright, so you know the typical holiday activities: hanging ornaments on the tree, mailing a million holiday cards, wrapping an  endless amount of gifts, etc. What comes with holiday activities? Expenses; Christmas lights, printing family pictures, wrapping  paper, ribbons, presents, food (the list goes on forever). The holidays are not supposed to be stressful, they’re meant to be fun!  Here are three DIY crafts that will guarantee some savings, especially for us “right-out-of-college” youngings:

Copyright of Jennifer Rogers.

Every year, I always strive to make my presents as personal as they can be. Last year, I wanted to show my creative side and do what I do best. After wrapping each present in plain, light brown wrapping paper, I drew the name of the recipient. I wanted to create elegance to each of my presents and thought this would be a great way to do so. After finding the perfect font online for inspiration, these effortless “name tags” came to life.

Since the wrapping paper was brown and the names were black. I decided to add a dash of color (I mean, it is Christmas after all). I found my endless stack of Food Network magazines and remembered seeing a DIY tutorial on how to make your own Christmas bows. With all of the various textures, colors, and recipes that Food Network magazine brings, I knew these bows would be scrumptious.

Copyright of Jennifer Rogers.

Copyright of Jennifer Rogers.

I am going to leave you with new ideas, new traditions, new holiday beverages, and hope you have the most “crafty” holiday season.

 

“Even though she was a grown woman, she believed in elves and Santa Claus and flying reindeer and sacks with an endless capacity for toys.  Furthermore, she believed that believing in these things was the chief reason that she had more fun in life than others.”

-Anonymous

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Confusing combinations making absolute sense.

I always wonder who was the first one to think of spreading creamy, smooth peanut butter onto a slice of bread and smashing it together with a glop of jelly. Or melting a marshmallow oh so slightly and piling it on top of a graham cracker with some milk chocolate. Whoever thought of these crazy concoctions are now my new favorite people, or I guess people I aspire to become. Mixing, blending, simmering, tossing, stacking and combining ingredients together is the ultimate way to be an adventurous foodie.

Ok, I know the PB&J sandwich and the s’more are classic examples. By taking it to the next level, I am going to reveal two outstanding and mind-blowing creations I discovered this past weekend.

*Warning: Your mouth may drop, salivate, drool and/or crave the following collaborations*

First let’s take a journey to the capital of Wisconsin, Madison. This infamous city is known for the rambunctious university, the state’s mascot (GO BADGERS!) and Scott Walker. . . let’s not get into politics. During my wondrous time visiting my study abroad/Sconnie friend, Kirby, she brought me to a local restaurant her family calls the perfect place for Italian cuisine. This watering hole is called Lombardino’s. It’s a tiny, cozy place that serves phenomenal dishes ranging from the classic spaghetti alla bolognese to wood grilled paprika sausage and octopus.

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Copyright of Jennifer Rogers.

My eyes constantly scroll across the menu as I try to choose only one delicious entrée. All of a sudden my entire body feels warm and anxious as I see the most incredible choice, pepperoni and sicilian green olive brick oven pizza. Holy crap. Here’s the description:

Thick cut pepperoni with San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella & cream cheese

Are you serious?! I shoo away the green olives and patiently await (who am I kidding…) this masterpiece. This poor quality photo from my cell phone does not do it justice.

I take my first bite of the crispy, airy crust tied in with the spicy pepperoni and toasted cream cheese dollops and fall in love. The mozzarella complementing the cream cheese is perfect. Oh goodness. After bragging about choosing the best dish, I was able to take the remains home, which ended in me handing it off to Kirby.

Cream cheese on pizza = a Sconnie’s dream.

The second reveal was discovered downtown Appleton, also known as the heart of young professionals seeking to have a great time. An impromptu dinner at an unbelievable restaurant called Katsu-Ya led to adding a drink to my top ten all-time favorite beers. Three words, The Dark Side. Already intrigued by the name, I had to look at the combination. Wait for it. . . Guinness and Blue Moon *insert singing angels*. Again, not-so-hot photo quality.

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Copyright of Jennifer Rogers.

Quick side note: the main reason why I ordered this beer was because of my dear love for Black & Tans, a mixture of Guinness and a pale ale. When choosing a dark and light beer combination, you should always let the beer settle before consuming. Why? Since the dark beer is so thick and rich, it needs precious time to mix with the lighter beer to get the full effect. Knowing how much I adore Black & Tans, I thought “Hey, why not! Let’s give it a whirl.”

What an awesomely awesome decision. The darkness of the Guinness seeping into the citrus flavor of the Blue Moon is ravishing. I have honestly never sipped on anything like it. I will be that person recommending to sell this drink at every bar in the near/distant future.

The take-away: never stop being curious. Whether it’s trying a thousand trial-and-error recipes or wondering how people get those pirate ships into tiny bottles, always envision new creations.

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”- Alice in Wonderland. 

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Moo-tivation (I had to).

I’m riding a bit off the beaten path of cuisines, beer and Sconnieness with some tips for people feeling “stuck”. What do I mean by stuck? Well, this is when you are living life. Wait a minute. . isn’t this what you’re supposed to do? No, I mean you’re just living. No progression, no new changes, no achieving success. Just living.

Don’t get me wrong, this feeling of being stuck is not bad. It’s quite similar to being content. You’re not happy or sad, you’re just content. You’re just stuck.

I’ll give you a prime example, me. A recent college graduate with all of the passion in the world who cannot wait to succeed in the PR industry. One problem: no job. According to a Huffington Post article titled “Unemployment for Recent College Graduates by Major”, half of the 2013 grads work jobs that do not require a degree. HALF!! 

Fellow college graduates, do not get discouraged (which is a lot easier said than done). The perfect job will come at the perfect time, trust me. Even though this “AH-HA!!” moment has not happened yet, it definitely will. This waiting game takes time and you have to avoid being “stuck”. Again, a lot easier said than done, us recent grads need to stay motivated. 

Use these tips whenever you are starting to feel stuck:

  1. Get a hobby. But seriously, find something that you are incredibly passionate about that will always keep you interested (And no, watching TV does not count. Even if I have watched every “How I Met Your Mother” episode in chronological order and am now on season six. . . I can’t believe I just admitted that.) Examples include reading fiction novels, exploring your town/city, baking scrumptious treats, starting a blog (how ironic), mastering a language or completing numerous arts and crafts projects.
    &nsbp;
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    Retrieved from http://bit.ly/19sAd4k.

  2.  

  3. Spend time with awesome people. If you have crappy people in your life, kick ’em out! Make sure to spend your valuable time with folks who love you for who you are. Just listen to John Lennon, he’s pretty cool. And awesome. Ergo, be with awesome people.
  4.  

  5. Keep your chin up, and stay positive. After applying to countless jobs that I thought were perfect for me, I realized they weren’t. And I wasn’t the one to accept the job offer. Being frustrated, worried, upset and disappointed did not solve anything. It didn’t get me a job, and it won’t if I keep feeling this way. So I got my head back in the game and remembered to be optimistic.

We’ve all been stuck at some point in our lives. To fix this, you have to learn what makes you incredibly motivated and ridiculously happy. Crackin’ jokes with my best friends, reading inspirational books by famous actors, baking intriguing cupcake recipes found on Pinterest and keeping up with current events in this crazy world is what makes me unstuck.

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Egg-cellent breakfast (very punny)

It’s a sunny Saturday morning with a cool, crisp breeze as you walk into a diner for a scrumptious meal. The first options that come to mind?

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PANCAKES! TOAST! SAUSAGE! BACON AND MORE BACON! I agree that all of these choices are amazing, however people tend to underestimate and underrate the infamous omelet.

Yes, maple syrup running down your stack of strawberry pancakes as you lick your fingers clean of stickiness is an awesome feeling. But taking a bite into a fluffy, flavorful, burst of deliciousness ranks supreme. The variety of omelets are endless and I’m going to share with you my favorite combination, as well as a recipe for my own!

One of the best omelets I have ever consumed was in Texas when I was visiting my dear friend Amanda for a long weekend in summer of 2012.
The Magnolia Pancake Haus. (Seriously, click on the link).

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This infamous San Antonio restaurant has an hour wait every Saturday and Sunday morning, which makes it even more irresistible. I know, I know. It says “pancake haus”. Why on Earth would I get an omelet?! As I’m flipping through the mouth-watering menu, I see this- the Denver Frittata. Take a look at the description from the website:

Green pepper, onion, ham & tomato prepared open faced and topped with cheddar cheese. Roasted Red Pepper salsa, Cilantro pesto & sour cream add the crowning touch.

Holy cow! I got rid of the tomato (not my forte. . ) and asked for the salsa and pesto on the side. After my first bite, I fell in love. The gooey-ness of the cheddar cheese combined with the crunchy green pepper drowning in sour cream, yum. The pepper salsa was a bit too spicy for my liking, however the cilantro pesto was unbelievable. Dipping a perfect portion of the omelet into the pesto was quite refreshing. And, of course, enjoying this with one of my best friends made it even more awesome.

Every type of Denver omelet has three basics I love with eggs: green peppers, ham and cheese. Green peppers give it a kick, ham provides the juicy, meaty-ness (I tend to make up words) and some Sconnie cheese is a must (obviously). I tend to create this easy-to-make omelet quite frequently with just a few ingredients.

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As you can see, mine turned into a wonderful plate of scrambled eggs.
(I may or may not have taken a bite of toast. . )

2-4 eggs (depending how big you want the omelet)
Half of a green pepper
1 cup of cheddar cheese
1 cup of mozzarella cheese
1 Tablespoon of milk
1 Tablespoon of butter

Melt the butter in a heated skillet on medium-high. Chop the green pepper into tiny, pieces about the size of your thumbnail. If the slices are too big, you will only taste the green pepper. Sautee the green pepper with the melted butter to give it an awesome glaze. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl until combined. After a couple of minutes, pour the egg mixture into the pan with the green pepper. Pour half of each cup of cheese on top of the omelet in the making. Once the bottom of the omelet is cooked, carefully flip one half on top of the other and let it finish cooking completely (this part is very tricky, look at the photo to your left). After perfecting your omelet, finish it off with sprinkling the rest of the cheeses to create a melty, gooey topping.

 

Promise me this. Next time you grab a sit-down breakfast with a couple of your closest friends, choose one of the crazy unique omelets.

Trust me, they are worth every bite.

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Beer here, beer there, beer everywhere!

Let’s just cut to the chase right from the get-go.

Beer = awesome. 

Sampling James Squire beers in Melbourne, Australia while reppin' my Sconnie pride.

Sampling James Squire beers in Melbourne, Australia while reppin’ my Sconnie pride.

If you don’t agree with the statement above, then you should definitely keep reading. But seriously, beer is amazing. What are the first three things that come to your head when you hear “Wisconsin”? Cheese, Packers and BEER. Because of my Sconnie title beer is my favorite drink and, quite possibly, my favorite hobby. Wait a minute, how can beer be a hobby?! The endless types of beer mixed with the drink’s benefits allows me to have awesome learning experiences while having fun. Well, here we go folks.

To start off my beer rant, this famous quote explains the outline of my obsession:   

“He was a wise man who invented beer.” -Plato

A wise man, indeed. Because of the many variations of beer, everyone can enjoy their unique pint. This infographic explains everything:

Beer Varieties Chart-Infographic

Retrieved from http://bit.ly/XiGdZw.

 

Ok, holy cow!! The two most important ones to know are ale and lager. The biggest difference between the two is the type of yeast that is used during the brewing process. Ale is fermented warm while lager is fermented cold (because of the different yeast). Ale is brewed, at minimum, of seven days. With lager, the brew cycle is a little longer lasting several months. Enough with the facts, how do you taste the difference?

Ale is known for its strong and bold taste that are typically darker beers. Some examples? Guinness (my personal favorite), Samuel Adams and Blue Moon. Lager has a smoother and subtle taste that are usually lighter beers. Budweiser, Coors and Miller Lite fall into this category.

Now that you know a little more about beer, let’s discuss it’s health benefits. Here come the protesters: beer has so many calories, how can it possibly be healthy!? Yes, some beers do have a high amount of calories, especially darker beers (yum). However, beer provides many health benefits that could change your life. An article titled “Beer is Healthy for You”, demonstrates how beer is pretty natural. The four main ingredients of beer are water, hops, barely and yeast, which are all quite healthy. Also, “moderate beer drinking decreases the risk of heart disease by 31 percent”, which is very similar to the benefits of wine.

Next time you head to the bars, ask the bartender to pour a delicious and refreshing beer for you. While you sip (or chug) your way to happiness, remember this:

Beer = awesome. 

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September 23, 2013 · 3:36 pm