12th Man Brew

by Beth Shepherd
( January 30th, 2015 )

Most of my friends know: a) I don’t watch sports, b) I don’t drink beer. You might wonder why I’ve written a post about a beer dedicated to the fans of a football team?

Here’s why. The Seahawks are in the Superbowl—again. All of Seattle is decked out in blue and green. Everywhere you look there are 12th man flags. This is why I’ve been feeling a bit like Scrooge of the Emerald City. So when I saw Dick’s Brewing Company’s 12 Man Pale Ale, I had to buy a case. Plus it was $4.99 at the Grocery Outlet, for a case of 12 (naturally!). How could I go wrong?

12 Man Pale Ale Dick's Brewing

Dick’s Brewing Company describes 12 Man Pale Ale as follows:

A mild and pleasant ale with a touch of residual sweetness. 12 Man Pale Ale is a solid, easy drinking beer that goes down smooth but doesn’t sacrifice on flavor. Caramel and Munich specialty malts are combined with premium northwest 2-row malted barley to create a light copper color. We add just enough hops for a delicate bitterness, subdued hop flavor and a nice aroma. Fermentation with our house yeast creates a fine English style ale approachable by the beer drinking Sports Fan.

Of course I also needed input from Big Papa, my resident beer afficianado.  Tasting notes per Big Papa (without having read Dick’s notes first):

Light bitter aroma. Pleasantly hoppy. A hint of citrus. Light on the palate. Hoppy finish. A tad effervescent (as one might expect with a fermented beverage). Pleasantly refreshing.

12 Man Pale Ale

So drink up Seahawks fans! Happy Superbowl—and GO HAWKS!

Seattle hawk

Take the road less traveled, Beth


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Street art in Paris: La Butte aux Cailles

by Beth Shepherd
( January 28th, 2015 )

Most tourists interested in Parisian art head to the Louvre, the Pompidou Center or Musee d’Orsay, but you can find some great art right in the streets of Paris.  La Butte aux Cailles,  in the 13th arrondissement, is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and walk the quiet cobbled streets filled with art. La Butte aux Cailles is quite different from most neighborhoods in Paris. Quaint and quirky, nestled on a hilltop south of Paris, La Butte aux Cailles—or Quail Hill—was named after Pierre Caille, a former landowner in 1543.

murals and street art in Paris

Centuries ago, the River Bièvre flowed through this tiny village filled with farms and windmills. During the 17th century numerous industries, such as tanning,  centered around the river which led to Butte aux Cailles. An unfortunate consequence of the dye factories was the River Bièvre turned into an open-air sewer. Slowly, streets were built that covered the river.

Quaint La Butte aux Cailless

In more recent years, Butte aux Cailles attracted a great many artists including street art enthusiasts who have turned the district into an outdoor canvas. You’ll stumble across whimsical murals around nearly every serpentine corner.

Paris mural in La Butte aux Cailles

La Butte aux Cailles was one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris. I loved wandering the streets and seeing the amazing murals. tiny one-story houses.  Plus, it really felt like we were in a village, not an enormous city.

La Butte aux Cailles murals

If you happen to visit on a Tuesday, Friday or Sunday you can enjoy the outdoor market that takes place on Blvd. Auguste Blanqui. Or stop in Les Abeilles (21 rue de la Butte-aux-Cailles) and try locally made honey. I’ve heard the owner Jacques Schakmundès, has been spearheaded the installation of beehives in many Parisian backyards and rooftops.

Street art La Butte aux Cailles

Pack a picnic lunch, or stop in one of the many cafes, and treat yourself to a side of Paris few visitors get to see. To reach lovely La Butte aux Cailles, take metro lines 5, 6 or 7 to Place d’Italie or Corvisart or the bus lines 57, 62, and 67.

Street art musician in La Butte aux Cailles

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Six things I miss about HOME when I’m traveling

by Beth Shepherd
( January 23rd, 2015 )

I love to travel. Even when I long for the comfort of home, I always feel a little sad when we’re about to board that plane and head back. Here are six things I miss when I’m away from home:

1. My cat*: I think about her all the time when I’m on the road. Traveling without her makes me feel like I’ve left a family member behind. Because I have.

Maggie with bird book 1

2. My bed: Even though I’ve slept in some very interesting beds—a straw bed in an Austrian B&B, and a rock hard Tibetan bed come to mind—in several really cool places, there is nothing like your own bed, your own pillow and being asleep in your own familiar bedroom.  And yes, there she is again, that cute cat.* I can’t think about my bed without thinking about my cat. She’s slept by my, and now our, side for nearly 20 years. My bed always feels a bit empty when I’m traveling and she’s not in it.

In bed with our cat

3. My shower: Occasionally I’ve enjoyed an incredible shower when traveling. I remember some of those to this day! Showering nude with Little Bird in the outdoor shower on Kauai, large dual shower heads at the Oregon B&B in a silo. However, more often than not, I’ve had showers I’d like to forget, where there was no hot water—or no water at all. I still remember some of those to this day too (like not being able to take a shower the morning we left Armenia for our 36 hour adventure bringing home Little Bird). Plus, at home we have an awesome old claw-foot tub…and the best shower assistant, aka Maggie, the cat,* a family could want. She is always on the rug whenever someone is taking a bath or a shower.

Bathing assistant

4. My garden: I’ve had the good fortune to visit some amazing gardens and sit in adorable pocket-sized city parks. But in my garden, no one tells me I can’t walk on the grass (even though we have none)—I’m talking about you parks in Paris. I don’t have to worry about being propositioned while sitting on a park bench (Athens) or seeing some guy, or two guys on the same day in two separate parks enjoying himself (Athens, again). If I need a little respite, I can sit and watch the plants grow, listen to the birds tweet (I love those birdies!), dig my fingers in the soil, or grab a bite of fresh-grown veggies if I’m hungry. Maggie* likes the garden too, lounging in the sunshine, savoring a bit of catnip.

Cat in the garden

5. Water straight from the tap and fresh vegetables: This only applies when traveling abroad in certain destinations. When we visited China and Tibet nearly a month, and on our longer trips to Armenia, I really missed drinking fresh water that didn’t come from a bottle. I missed ice cubes too. And brushing my teeth with water that flowed freely from the tap. We always try to be super careful and—knock on wood—so far have not gotten sick (at least from water or food).

Not being able to drink water straight from the tap also means not eating any fresh veggies that may have been washed with water. Not being able to eat fresh vegetables really bums me out because I love them and would like to try some of unique fresh veggies I’ve encountered in far-flung locations. But I’ve heard stories from fellow travelers who did indulge, and they weren’t pretty. I’m not sure how to tie this into my cat,* other than she also enjoys water straight from the tap. And asparagus.

Maggie likes asparagus

6. Being in one spot: Exciting as travel is, and as much as I wish I could travel quite a bit more than I currently do, being on the road and living out of a suitcase can get old. There is nothing like the security of familiar surroundings, sights and smells.

There is no place like home. With a cat.*

Cat and girl on the deck

*And this is not a post about my cat. Well, maybe just a bit.

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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