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Archive for the ‘Meta-Blogging’ Category

I know. That massive honeymoon-recap never happened. I’m sorry. Life is busy and crazy. And lifey. And I already recapped it through words and photos a million times for friends. It’ll happen someday. When I haven’t thought or talked about it for a long time and am feeling nostalgic.

I don’t even have a new beer or recipe to share with you. Yet. But I’m popping in to say that what I post next is going to be epic. Thanksgiving always is. After the smashing success of last year’s dubbel pumpernickel chantarelle stuffing, the Prestwiches (that’s us) were charged again with contributing the stuffing to this year’s feast…and well, I think the impulsive email I just sent to Dan as I interrupted both our workdays explains it best:

“I JUST HAD A GREAT IDEA.

beer bread stuffing.

beer.

bread.

stuffing.”

Dan’s response?

“ok”

It’s on.

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I like hiking. And I like hiking analogies. Let’s pretend this blog is a trail up a mountain. That mountain is called….Mt. Content.

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Pretty.

Now, let’s say, as this blog traverses up Mt. Content, this blog’s current focus–it’s current “direction,” if you will–takes it straight up the mountain, vertically. As such, this trail is called the “Beer Trail.”

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Now that’s all well and good. That trail gets you to the summit of Mt. Content efficiently (if you’re a master climber, I guess). But let’s stop for a minute, pull out our map and compass, and make some freeze-dried beef stroganoff on our camp stoves. And let’s review some of my favorite blogs to read.

Blogs like this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one and this one and this one.

(Hi people I’ve been stalking for years! I have no idea how I found most of your blogs, and you probably had no idea I read them. Is it weird that I kind of feel like Seth Rogan talking about Vince Vaughn in Knocked Up when I read your blogs? You know- “I feel like he’d like me. You know, I’m sure a lot of guys are like, ‘Oh, I’d like to hang out with that celeb’, but I really think he would want to hang out with me, is like the cool thing.” I’m pretty convinced that we’d all be best friends if we ever met in real life. There, I said it, and came out in all my blog-stalky weirdness)

So now that I’ve creeped out….8 different people into taking out virtual-restraining orders on my virtual self, let’s talk about why I keep coming back to their blogs. If you’ll notice, none of those blogs are beer blogs, even though I write a beer blog. The reason? I find most beer blogs pretty boring to read. I mean, beer is awesome. Beer, to me, is like truffles or smoked salt to a foodie. The possibilities of beer are endless, the way they taste, the way they make other things taste, the way they feel, the way they make us feel because of our individual experiences with them, and what their tastes and textures stir in us. But after awhile, I read the posts in most beer blogs–and my own posts–and go, yeah, OK. Beer is great. What else?

All those blogs I love tend to be food- or healthy-living focused. But that’s not why I love them (though I do love food. And treating my body, mind, and soul right. And living). Their content keeps me coming back because food is just the ice-breaker. Food is the pretense. A means to a conversation, a great story. It’s the thing everyone gathers around at the table, yes, to enjoy, but more significantly, to bring everyone together to enjoy + celebrate each other and enjoy + celebrate the unique people we all are.

These blogs use food to tell stories of other things I love: Cooking. Friends. The outdoors. Adventures. Archaeology. Love. Music. Meditations. Constantly becoming oneself. Facing life’s life-y twists and turns head on, with humor, strength, and grace. Ridiculous animal companions. Snark.

I realized my favorite posts that I’ve written have been similar: the ones with stories surrounding the beer. Like the time I hiked Wildcat Mountain and drank my first Christmas Ale of the season. Or the time I reflected on my love of (and former life in) archaeology through Dogfish Head’s Chateau Jiahu. Or when I compared Marzens to Sam Cooke.

So, I want my blog from here on out to do something similar, with every post. I want my blog to ascend up Mt. Content like this:

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I want beer to be the conversation-starter on my blog. I want to traverse all the other great stories (…ahem…”great.” We’ll see. They’ll be “stories,” nevertheless) I have to tell. I want it to reflect my interests and passions, like:

Food

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The Great Outdoors

(that guy apparently has paddles for arms)

Love

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Photography

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…yeah. That one was too hard. That’s an illustration of a flash going off on a camera.

And because I’m lazy now: Good friends. Karaoke. Poetry. Yoga. Laughing. Snarking. Crappy Paintbrush drawings.

And I want it all to start with the suds.

So, here were some hurricane suds I drank this past weekend:

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This is from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Series, a beer called “Kick.” I think I must’ve been thinking of this guy when I wrote my notes on this beer, because I had written in my notebook “New Belgium Fat Lips of Faith Series ‘Kick’ “!

Anyway, this is 75% ale brewed with pumpkin and cranberry juices, and 25% ale aged in wooden barrels (what type of wood, we’ll never know. Not if we only go by what’s on the bottle and are too lazy to research it more, at least). This is sort of what I imagine all the Hogwarts kids are drinking in the Harry Potter books when they mention PUMPKIN JUICE! (Without the 8.6% ABV, I mean) Funnily enough, it doesn’t taste a lot like pumpkin…but it does taste like fall, and like bounty, and like harvest. It’s tart and funky, rich and deep. It’s got the kick of cranberries, predominantly, with the light burnt orange color of our favorite fall gourd, and a veeeeerrrry slight woody, smokey taste at the very end of the swig.

And yeah. OK. I’ve already kind of failed at my new resolution to blog more about all aspects of my life, told through stories of beer, because I thought of this blog-changing revelation and wanted to get it down before I had a chance to…you know…live any good beer stories. Or photographs illustrating any stories. So let’s just catch up on my life lately.

As you all know (or, as you all know now!), I’m a defense analyst by day, and a poet by night! (and, well, let’s be honest…sometimes by day too). I graduated from Johns Hopkins with my M.A. in poetry this past winter, and while I beat along against the currents of the poetry publishing world (believe me….it’s a very up-river swim), my awesomely brilliant fiance and I have also founded and begun to edit an online journal of poetry and film called Magic Lantern Review. It has been an amazing experience so far, and our first issue is due out this fall. We’ve gotten an influx of poetry so far, so submissions for poetry are currently closed. But we’re still taking submissions of short digital films as well as film analysis, so if you know anyone who does either of those things, or is interested in trying their hand at either of them, tell them about us!!

I’ll love you forever.

Oh yeah, and speaking of the awesomely brilliant fiance, he will be the awesome brilliant HUSBAND in two weeks! We’re getting married on September 10. And yes, beer will be part of the ceremony. At a winery. You heard me.

Here is a picture of him:

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(crabbing in Galesville, MD)

And another:

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(with me on our fifth anniversary)

And another:

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(A crappy phone photo of him picking a karaoke song at karaoke at the Rhodeside)

That’s another thing you should know about me/us. We spend a lot of time singing karaoke at the Rhodeside in Rosslyn. A LOT of time. To the point that the DJ knows us, hangs out with us at the bar, and says hi to us around town. And knows when our wedding is. We make friends wherever we go.

Speaking of friends:

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This is me with my friend Laura. She and her husband are Dan + my downstairs neighbors, and we sing a lot of karaoke together. You may recall her as the co-host of the legendary Crappy Light Beer Blind Taste-Testing Party back in January!

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And this is me with my friend Sarah. We’re 15 (maybe 16?) in this picture, and we’re feeding ducks because we’re on an island in the middle of Lake Umbagog, New Hampshire, on one of our annual kayak-camping trips where we’d kayak out several miles to a campsite living off only what we could stuff into the holds of the kayaks. For a week. They were amazing and beautiful times.

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And here is a picture of me and several more of my friends (L to R: Annie, me, Christine, Sarah, Sabah) at 10th grade homecoming. How is it possible I looked older at 15 than I do now at 24? Something probably to do with immaculate beauty habits that I abandoned in adulthood when I realized I had better things to do with my time.

And while we’re flashing back in time, have some baby pictures. Of me. That I stole from my parents’ house recently.

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“Yeaaaahhhhh, I’m gonna play with a toy!”
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“Wait. I’m already confused.”
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I think we’re on a ferry here. I think I’m threatening mutiny. I look evil. That’s my mom next to me.
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Bound for sudsy, bloggy glory.

I hope you enjoyed this really long post! And I hope you’ll stick around for more. More content. More new content. More brief content. I promise.

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Bad Blogger

That’s me. Sorry. Part of it is that work has been busy and I no longer have downtime in which I’m bored and apt to blog. And homegirl’s freetime is scarce, even now that the big M.A. is completed. (I used the word “homegirl” right there because Dan told me this past weekend that you can’t refer to yourself as “homegirl.” And thus I have to refer to myself as it. A lot)

But there will be a post coming soon. Yes, soon, loyal readers (all three of you…hi Mom + Dan + Sarah!). For tonight, I’ll be cooking with beer!!

Because food + beer together is just so much more interesting than either of those things alone. Alone, they’d be like music without dancing, or camping without mosquitos.

Wait. Mosquitoes are not interesting. Just annoying.

Re-write: like camping without beastly grunting noises in the night that you convince yourself are bears or moose stalking you with the sole intention of ripping you apart like a burrito where the tortilla is nylon tent material and the meat is you. Or trampling you like a burrito, as a moose wouldn’t eat you, but would probably trample a burrito? Because a little fear makes for a very interesting night indeed. Even if the noise turns out to be just a fellow camper stretching after a hard day of kayaking.

True story. Old story.

New story coming soon.

For now, I leave you with a picture of beer amidst the cherry blossoms:

And a picture of me, in case you’ve forgotten what I look like (along with the future husband there):

And for good measure, here’s a song that is currently stuck in my head, because spring/summer beer drinking should be done outdoors, preferably with music. Ignore all the random “WOOOOO!”s; this was all I could find on YouTube:

Feel free to add dancing at your discretion.

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for those of you who set out to work until 6 PM today but finished everything you could possibly accomplish today at work at 3:30. And got bored and decided to eat the kiwi that was in your office and write (er…read) a blog post.

I’m lookin’ at you.

A fun little feature of WordPress is that it can tell you the top search terms people have found your blog using, by day, week, or since the inception of your blog. If you have a blog, you should check these out sometime. If not, or until then, you can have fun with the phrases people use to find MY blog!

A lot of these were obvious. “Ale.” “Beer Glass.” “Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.” “Pictures of bubbles in a beer glass.” Stuff like that. Some of them, however, were so choice I had to share them (capitalization- or lack thereof- authentically replicated. People do not like to capitalize when searching).

Like #1. “angler fish” I get how that search term would lead people to Iambs and Ales, actually. Awhile back I did a post on RJ Rockers’s Fish Paralyzer, which included a picture of an angler fish. Now, I’m (very very vaugely) SEO-savvy, so I knew to label the picture “angler fish.” I also included the term a couple times in the post. I’m not surprised that people have found the blog through that picture at all. I’m just incredibly happy that the #1 search term used to find my blog is “angler fish.” And that 15 INDEPENDENT PEOPLE found my blog that way. To you 15, I say: welcome, fellow angler-fish-lovers! We share a passion for ugly, scary, mysterious sea creatures that few other people can know the intensity of.

#3. “racial harmony” Again, I know why this came up. It’s probably from this post. I’m just proud to say that 14 people came to my blog looking for racial harmony. I hope they found it.

#6. “crazy foam experiment” Fucking sweet. That’s all I can say. I’ve never featured a crazy foam experiment on this blog, but this makes me think I should. There are six people out there incredibly disappointed now, and I feel like some crazy experimental foam content could really kick this blog up a notch.

#22. “not washing urself” Apparently my blog’s a good place to find out about that. I mean, I will admit to some unsavory showerless stretches on weekends (usually only weekends with wicked hangovers though, which don’t happen that often) or on travel days. But how can they sense that through my blog?? And even more questionable…what sort of information on not washing “urself” did they hope to find by googling that? And MOST questionable…did two separate people, as the stats indicate, really spell that word “urself”?

#26. “pics of little cats drinking beer” …disturbing. I mean, there was also a search term further down the list that read “cat drinking beer” but for some reason, that sounds like good fun. The cats are just having a good time. This sounds dirty. Part of it could be that for some reason, I think the word “pics” is sleazy, like someone’s getting real visceral pleasure out of these “pics,” and even more so when combined with “little cats.” Like grown cats weren’t extreme enough. It’s like the pedophelia of cats-drinking-beer fetishes: kittens drinking beer. Or really small, runty cats. But either way it sounds like they’re being forced into it, and they can’t fight back because they’re little kittens. And just one little kitty isn’t good enough. Oh no. This has to be a group thing. Blech.

#29. “taco smashing before a big game” Is this some awesome pre-gaming ritual I’m not aware of? And are you really smashing tacos, or is that a euphemism for something else? It sounds like it could be either.

#42. “examples of bitter tastes” ….similar to my final concern about #22, it sort of blows my mind that two discrete people on two discrete occasions searched for “examples of bitter tastes.” There are really two people out there who can’t think of examples of things that taste bitter? We should get them together.

#46. “interestingly fotos” I like interestingly fotos too! And speaking gud grahamerz! I certainly hope these people found my fotos to be interestingly!

#99. “super knives” Enough said. My blog is officially badass.

And my personal favorite,

#136. “chewy meat wine”

Mmmm. Chewy meat wine.

(let it just be known, that amidst all these, the title of my blog- “Iambs and Ales”- was searched for by 1 person. It was #131 on the list).

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Testing 1, 2, 3…ECTO!

This is a test post to test out Ecto. Here, have a picture I like but haven’t gotten to use because it’s not a beer or food!

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Does anyone out there use Ecto for blogging? I kept hearing great things about it, but it’s been very sassy with me so far. There is a lot I need to figure out to still. Anyone have any tips for getting Ecto to play nice? Like for instance:

  • How do I make captions for the photos? This is not crucial, but something that would be nice to be able to do.
  • Why does it seem to make my computer go into conniptions if I click the wrong thing?
  • I’d like to find some way to preview what a post will look like on my actual blog.
  • For blog-maintenance-related posts like this, I’d like to have the option to make them private entries for testing purposes.
  • It messes up the formatting for some reason and you can’t even fix it through the web except to re-do the post from scratch??
  • Also, I paid for my copy of Ecto, but still had to download it separately after I bought it, then didn’t have to enter any registration info? That makes me think I paid for a copy, but then got some crappy free-trial copy when I downloaded. Especially since the support page seems to think it has features and options to click on that I don’t seem to have, but that would solve my problems. If I had them.

Basically, I want it to have all the same capabilities as WordPress, but be easier to use. Not be easier to use in some regards, but more inconvenient in others.

I know this all sounds very demanding. And there some things I already DO love about Ecto- like how easy it is to edit posts you’ve already put up. But mama don’t stay in relationships that aren’t meeting her needs. So Ecto, we’ve got a long way to go. But I’m willing to try to work things out, baby.

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Aaaaaand we’re back!

With a new, snazzed-up domain!  If anyone has this bookmarked/Google Reader-ed/linked to in their email signature (I’m joking about that one….unless I have die-hard fans I don’t know about) change it to http://iambsandales.com!

Now I feel professional.

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Bear with me…

As I mess with the format of this blog.  I’m trying to find one that works best.

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