Welcome to Fine Craft Living!

Welcome! I’d like to formally welcome each and every one of you who found your way to Fine Craft Living. I am Amber De Grace, site owner and content creator at the time of FCL’s inception. I brought some content over from my previous blog, Tickling My Fancy, and may pull more here and there but all else will be brand spankin’ new.

My reason for getting rid of Tickling My Fancy and moving to Fine Craft Living is two-fold. First, I was getting some ridiculous and disturbing traffic to Tickling My Fancy. Between “tickling” and “food p*rn” (see, I don’t even want to type it in here), I was feeling overwhelmed and troubled by the traffic I was seeing and realized the name didn’t actually fit my content anyway.. which leads me to the second reason: while I wrote about things over there that did, in fact, tickle my fancy, I wanted to create a site that better described my passions.

And that is this. Fine craft living.

I appreciate quality craftsmanship, artisan products, unique services, and fine experiences. This is what I’ll be sharing on Fine Craft Living.

From travel tips, restaurant reviews, products that will make great gifts, craft beer, small-batch coffees and liquors, wine, and a collection of recipes, I hope you find that I’m feeding your eyes with some of the best of what is fine and what is craft.

If you click on a category and find it empty, don’t lose heart! I’ll be adding content all the time to fill up these pages. I’ll also be tweaking the page as needed to make it as user-friendly an experience for you as possible. 

Follow along on this fine craft living adventure! You can subscribe to get all the latest updates, and we’re also on Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

I hope you have a fine day.

Review of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour

In my estimation, the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour was a resounding success. This is what beer festivals should look like. The Mid-Atlantic stop of the tour was held at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia, PA, and it was a glorious day.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

The Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour was a roaming beer festival that traveled from West Coast to East Coast with an open invitation to all breweries to come share their brews at each gathering. Read more here.

The park is expansive and located directly on the Delaware River and all day cargo ships glided by, cutting through diamond-strewn water that glittered in the day’s elusive high summer sun. The line gathered at the main entrance was long and intimidating but with all the vetting the workers were doing by validating IDs beforehand, once the gates finally opened it was a breeze to enter.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

It was so easy, in fact, that I was through the line and past security before I even knew what was happening. Suddenly the crowd in front of me opened up and there I was, at the gates! A collection of sampling glasses awaited festival goers under a tent and once past the tent, we were free to wander around and sample all the beer and eat all the food.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

The weather was questionable. Dark clouds threatened to let loose heavy drops onto the event below but as the day wore on, the clouds turned puffier and dissolved in places before piling up again toward the end of the event.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

Because there were so many breweries represented at the festival, the lines were not overly long anywhere except for maybe Russian River. They brought along some Pliny the Elder and news of that magnitude is sure to make locals in the Mid-Atlantic froth at the mouth. I opted to skip that line because while it’s an incredible beer that deserves all the hype, I’ve had it numerous times and was more interested in trying other beers I haven’t had before. 

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

I didn’t keep tasting notes of everything I enjoyed at Beer Camp but I did write down all the samples I tried. Please keep in mind these are all small pours and I wasn’t driving.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

I took the train down to Philly from Lancaster and watched the scenery while listening to entertaining conversations around me (I wasn’t on the quiet train). Small country towns and idyllic farmland blurred by as the train hustled down tracks with power lines guiding the way. A girl behind me was lamenting the fact that her boyfriend just wasn’t the type of guy who wants to go places on her Pinterest board, like fairytale castles in France. “I googled it and saw that if I have to google whether your relationship is over, it probably is.” 

I took the quiet train home.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

This list is in chronological order and I’ve made notes of the samples I found to be exceptional.

Spring House Braaaiins – pumpkin ale

Cigar City Florida Cracker – Belgian-style white ale

North Country Paleo IPA 

Heritage Brewing Kings Mountain – Scotch Ale

Manayunk Brewery Summer Paradise – seasonal ale

Weyerbacher Sunday Morning Stout – stout aged in bourbon barrels with coffee (exceptional)

Earth Bread + Brewery The Summer Day – session IPA (exceptional)

Firestone Walker Sucaba – barley wine (exceptional)

Firestone Walker Opal – farmhouse ale (exceptional)

Allagash Brewing Saison 

PA Brewers’ Guild Guildy Pleasure – imperial pale ale

Twin Lakes Pale Ale

Berwick Brewing Belgian Gold

Climax Brewing ESB

Union Brewing Black Lager

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

The Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour was exactly what I think a beer festival should be: a laid-back atmosphere with food trucks, room to move around, a fresh selection of breweries, and organized well.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

The MarchFourth Marching Band did an outstanding job entertaining the crowd, including one guy who was maybe a wee bit fuddled and was dancing the hula without a hoop. I wish there would have been more performance from them throughout the event because they were wonderful.

Excellent day. Superb job, Sierra Nevada, and congratulations on your new location in Mills River, NC!

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

The Sierra Nevada Beer Camp also featured a collection of collaborative beers that were poured at the festivals and available in cases. Here are my tasting notes from those beers.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour Review

Myron’s Walk (brewed with Allagash Brewing Company) – Belgian-style pale ale brewed with coriander. Warm golden in color with slight haze. Tons of citrus and pine in the nose. Piney hop bitterness carries through the sip with Belgian spice clear at the front. This has a middling malt backbone. I get some peach and pear at the beginning. Overall impression is excellent and drinkable; it’s clearly Belgian. It is fairly hop-forward for a pale ale. A well-done collaboration!

Double Latte (brewed with Ninkasi Brewing Company) – Milk stout with coffee and lactose added. Visually, this is about as close to black as dark chocolate can get. Opaque but no haze. I get roast and coffee in the nose, along with a sweetness from the lactose. The texture is silky smooth and it is super roasty but balances nicely with the coffee bitterness and chewy lactose. I’m not typically a milk stout fan and generally dislike lactose but I’d order this again and again.

Chico King (brewed with Three Floyds Brewing Company) – American pale ale that is golden amber in color and crystal clear. I get floral, citrus and just a hint of pine in the nose. This was softer than I expected and tastes like a higher ABV than 6.5%.

CANfusion (brewed with Oskar Blues Brewery) – Rye bock that is orange in color and super clear. Fruity hops and spicy rye in the nose. Tons of spicy rye bite throughout and a strong malt presence. It’s pretty damn good for a bock, a style that isn’t my favorite. As it warms up, I get honey in the nose.

Maillard’s Odyssey (brewed with Bell’s Brewery) – Imperial dark ale at 8.5% ABV and 40 IBU. Extra dark brown, almost black in color with a light brown head. Tons of roast in the nose. Chocolate and roast in the mouth. 

Alt Route (brewed with Victory Brewing Company) – Altbier that is dark orange-red in color and super clear. It smells of marshmallow, sweet strong malt, and jasmine. Great floral hops.

Electric Ray (brewed with Ballast Point Brewery) – India pale lager coming in at 8.5% ABV and 70 IBUs. Golden orange in color. Musty, resiny hops in the nose. This is a dank beer and it tastes sticky. I get lager in how crisp and clean it is but some of the lager qualities are lost in this hop bomb.

Yvan the Great (brewed with Russian River) – Belgian-style blonde at 6.3% ABV and 50 IBUs. Gorgeous golden yellow with the slightest haze like a late summer sun. Warm spicy scent that carries through the mouth. Dry. Refreshing.

Torpedo (brewed with Firestone Walker) – hoppy pilsner at 5.2% ABV and 45 IBUs. Gold in color, mostly clear. Head was thick and white on first pour before it dissipated. Strong floral aroma, crisp and clean. The beautiful floral notes are in harmony with a medium maltiness. I get tons of jasmine in this.

Tater Ridge (brewed with Asheville Brewers’ Alliance) – Scottish ale brewed with sweet potatoes. 7.0% ABV and 35 IBUs. Chestnut brown in color. Spicy notes like cinnamon and nutmeg in the nose. Very sweet and malty. Full-bodied. Little to no hop presence. Very nice Scottish ale.

There & Back (brewed with New Glarus, who wasn’t at the Mid-Atlantic stop of the beer tour. What the heck, New Glarus!?) – ESB with 5.6% ABV and 40 IBUs. Orange in color and hazy and can see a moderate to high carbonation before even sipping. Creamy white head. Malty and citrusy in the nose, reminiscent of lemon zest. Strong malt backbone that is balanced by the citrus and floral hop aroma but little bitterness. Delicious.

Were you at any of the Beer Camp stops? Have you tried these collaborative beers?

Disclaimer: Sierra Nevada provided me with a complimentary pass to enter the Mid-Atlantic stop of the Beer Camp Tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mark Lanegan – Phantom Radio

Melodic, brooding, and sadly truimphant, Mark Lanegan scores another winner with his new release (October 21), Phantom Radio.

Stream the album over at Stereogum.

Photo credit: Carlo Riswick on Flickr
Photo credit: Carlo Riswick on Flickr

If you’re not familiar with the wonders of Mark Lanegan, here is a taste of what he brings to your ears. His vocals are soothing, wrapping listeners in a cozy blanket by an autumn campfire. This is from the album Blues Funeral.

Pre-order Phantom Radio on iTunes.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue

“Everything at Tellus360 has a story. Reclaiming and reusing items is central to the establishment.”

Tellus360 is a live music and Irish pub in artsy and creative downtown Lancaster, PA. I entered the building from the West King Street entrance and was greeted by Ken Mueller, marketing director at Tellus360 and my tour guide for the afternoon. Ken was eager to show me the building, talk to me about future plans, and share stories about the many elements of architectural interest that are found throughout the property.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Tigh Mhary bar
Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Tap handles at Tellus360

“The large wooden doors behind the bar are from a Catholic church in Ireland and the bar itself is from County Waterford. The bar has three sections that are divided by glass panels. Originally, the section on the left was for the women, the one in the center for the men, and the lower section on the right? That was for the kids to hang out and get some candy at the counter while Mom and Dad were grabbing a pint.”

That sounds brilliant to me. 

(click on the photos in the gallery to see them larger for more detail)

Tellus360 occupies a large building near the square in Lancaster, PA. The first and only time I was in Tellus360 before this visit was to start out a downtown walking and tasting tour called Taste the World. Tellus360 was our check-in location where were given a bottle of water and had our first tasting of the event from Upohar. At that point in time, Tellus360 sold many repurposed goods. 

In case you’re wondering, tellus means earth in Latin.

There was jewelry made from Southeast Asian landmines, bottle openers made from old bike chains, and organic and ethical clothing. Today, the space looks quite different and although the style of business has changed from retail to bar, the same blood still courses through Tellus360’s veins. Guests will still find a uniquely repurposed environment here and the evolution is magnificent.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Table in Tigh Mhary

The spaces are eclectic, a mishmash of styles and texture. The front room, named Tigh Mhary, has a dais facing King Street where musicians perform. The tables are decorated with painted checkerboards and wax-dripped Jose Cuervo tequila bottles and some of the seating is old church pews. It is open and bright, pleasant and welcoming. There is a larger stage in The Temple which is located directly behind the Tigh Mhary room.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Looking down on Tigh Mhary from the balcony

Writing “The Temple Bar” puts me immediately in mind of Dublin and makes my heart feel a pang over missing a city I adore.

The bar in The Temple is topped with a gorgeous piece of solid wood from Africa that bears a blackened scar from a lightning strike. As with so much of what you’ll find at Tellus360, it is one-of-a-kind. A book could be written about this place with each chapter telling its own story, a true “if the walls could talk” tale. 

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue

The stages and speakers are professional remnants from shows put on by names like Lady Gaga, U2, AC/DC, and Maroon 5. Have you heard of Clair Global and Tait Towers? They’re the groups who are putting Lititz, PA, on the map when it comes to the music scene. They’re known for quality stage design and sound setup and have further expanded their influence recently with Rock Lititz. The speakers and stages at Tellus360 came from them so it’s not a stretch to say that the music experience you’ll have at Tellus360 venue will be outstanding. 

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue

And speaking of sound, you’ll hear plenty of it here. There is music going on most days of the week in a range of styles like traditional Irish, singer/songwriter, Americana, rock (that is the most generic term you’ll probably hear today), and DJs like The Thing With Two Heads spinning goodness for your freaky selves.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue

The bathrooms are located downstairs (also reminding me of many places in Dublin) and you should check them out even if you don’t need to actually use the facilities. The walls are covered in wood of varying colors, shapes, and sizes. One section of wall has varying bottom sashes from institutional-looking windows installed vertically, the indented handholds set at varying places and looking haphazardly perfect.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue

 The sinks are long troughs, fluid in their cement design and flowing the entire length downwards to the drain. The bathroom put me in mind of a forest glade, a place of harmonious marriage between industrial accents and organic canopies. 

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Sink closeup

As if two main level bars wasn’t enough, there is a balcony upstairs where the kitchen is located and food is served and further up are two more bars. (!!)

I told you Tellus360 was huge.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Looking down on Tigh Mhary from the balcony

The lounge-like room previously known as Gallery360 will soon have a rebirth with sofas, easy chairs, turntables and vinyl, bookshelves, and games like darts, ping pong, and cornhole. Wood-burning fireplaces will create a warm and cozy space to relax in and chill with friends or spend some quiet time alone. The lighting in this space comes from old air raid sirens that have been outfitted for bulbs. Keep an eye on this lounge as it comes together in the coming weeks and months.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Air raid siren lighting in the Lounge

The rooftop has a bar and seating area with some killer views of the city. Directly beside Tellus360 is the Downtown Marriott and behind is the Penn Square Parking Garage, which makes this a convenient location for those who don’t live in the city and want to visit.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Green rooftop bar at Tellus360

I loved this rooftop area and even on a stuffy, hot afternoon there was a whisper of breeze going on up there. The rumor is that mosquitoes don’t wander so far from the ground so you’ll be enjoying the urban outdoors in bite-free peace.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Green rooftop view

A green roof like what Tellus360 has implemented absorbs 70-90% of rainwater that falls during the summer.¹

More than half the rooftop is green, meaning it is covered with living plants that absorb rainwater and drastically reduce runoff.

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
A living green rooftop!

This is an important eco-friendly feature because the city of Lancaster is currently facing hefty fines from the EPA due to massive quantities of polluted rainwater runoff entering the Conestoga River, which eventually makes its way to the Chesapeake. Just think what a positive impact the city could have on the environment if more buildings followed Tellus360’s lead by creating their own green roof areas!

Tellus360 isn’t a sports bar but it does host gatherings for sporting events. There is definite Irish influence from the Tigh Mhary bar to menu items like a full Irish breakfast with black and white pudding. That kind of meal speaks to me. “Eat me. Eat me, Amber. I’m delicious.”

See what I mean? I am not crazy because my food talks to me.

In short, Tellus360 offers something for just about everyone. They also have free wi-fi, making it a perfect space for someone to work, too. I could hang out here for hours and write. 

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
“All who enter these doors are equal”

If you are planning an event, see what Tellus360 has to offer. If you dig live music, see what’s happening this week. Looking for a place to meet friends for a few drinks? You have plenty of options, including Irish whiskey and craft beer! My only disappointment was that I didn’t see the venue in its full glory during business hours. I need to remedy that soon and swing by for dinner and a show. 

Tellus360, an Irish Pub and Live Music Venue
Green Rooftop Bar

Have you been to Tellus360 yet?

You can find Tellus360 on Facebook! Follow them there for all the latest and stay hip to the know.

 ¹ Green Roof Benefits: http://www.greenroofs.org/index.php/about/greenroofbenefits

Artist Highlight: Alice Savage

For this first artist highlight on Fine Craft Living, I’m sharing the beautiful art of Alice Savage. I own her print “Prey” with hand-painted silver effects that make delicate butterfly and moth wings look even more magical when the light hits it in just the right way. 

Alice Savage mostly sketches women with occasional furry creatures like a rabbit or insects tossed in. Her females are full of dreaminess and intelligence, mysticism and magic, with expressive eyes (or none at all) and finely stranded and flowing hair. 

She lives in Italy, views herself as an “artisan of beauty”, and has participated in quite a few art shows around the world. Her work is full of movement and natural beauty. I want to run my fingers through their perfectly untangled hair and I can’t help but gaze into their detailed and intense eyes.

Price points on her work range from around $10 for a set of mini-prints to $130 for an original drawing. My “Prey” hand-painted limited edition print arrived quickly and in perfect condition. Enclosed was a personal thank-you note and a small sample print of another one of her works. 

You can see Alice Savage’s work here {all photos are courtesy of Alice Savage’s Facebook page and you can click through each embedded photo below to see the original post}:









You can purchase her work on Etsy and learn more about her and view more work on her website. Follow her on Facebook to see new work!

Do check it out and support an artist. These pieces look lovely in the home and also make great gifts.

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in Austin long enough to get a solid handle on the city. I can’t recommend the “best of” anything. I can’t share any “must see” attractions. I didn’t stand in an absurdly long line for any of the “best BBQ in town”. I was in town for Austin Psych Fest and spent most of the days and evenings at Carson Creek Ranch. I did write this Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide for where to eat on Rainey Street but please do not mistake me for being an expert on Austin.

One thing I did take note of when driving through the city is that it reminded me of other favorite cities like San Francisco, Portland, and Asheville. Many buildings are decorated with elaborate murals. Storefronts are full of curiosities. Food trucks are everywhere. 

That is not an exaggeration. 

Austin gave me the impression of being Bohemian, artsy, local-centric, and embracing of the weird.

Maybe I am totally off-base and need to return and spend more time exploring the city and discovering its personality. What do you think?

I was able to capture some of Austin’s spirit on the streets. 

{click on any of the smaller gallery-style photographs to view in a slideshow}

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Keep Austin Weird: Mobile Photography Essay

Are you an Austinite? What should I know about your city?


Sierra Nevada Mid-Atlantic Beer Camp Tour

Sierra Nevada’s exciting collaboration beer camp tour with craft breweries across the United States continued on August 2, 2014, with a stop in Philadelphia. The MarchFourth Marching Band, hailing from Portland, OR, was exuberant and a fun way to close out what was probably one of the best beer festivals I’ve ever attended. Included here are photographs and video from the event. Cheers!

Zucchini-Broccoli Hotcakes, aka What To Do With All Those Zucchinis

It’s that time of year. The time when gardens are overflowing with inappropriately large zucchinis, vividly green and uncomfortably phallic if one gazes at them too long. I have been eating a lot of vegetables for breakfast lately thanks to a crisper that is fully stocked from our CSA. The zucchini was calling my name because I have quite a few and need to eat them before I’m forced to toss them in the compost. I did get several wonderful ideas of what to do with them when I asked this question on Twitter:

… and, as always, Twitter did not disappoint! These were a few responses I received:

Great ideas, right? Especially those muffins! – tasty. I went a completely different direction with these zucchini-broccoli hotcakes but will definitely be giving these two ideas a spin in the coming days.

As Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen says, “I guess if anyone could find a use for zucchini on my block, it would be me.” Boredom can be an excellent motivator.

Zucchinis (or courgettes, depending on what part of the world you live in) are vegetables (for eating) but actually considered fruits (in a botanical sense) and happen to be the ovaries of the plant that are swollen and heavy-laden with seeds. I bet some of you didn’t know that. Still hungry? Stay with me. It’ll be worth it. So while you’re (I’m) standing there thinking those zucchinis look all phallic and rated R, they’re actually the plant’s lady bits.

Zucchini-Broccoli Hotcakes, aka What To Do With All Those Zucchinis

I love how they ooze, don’t you? One time after peeling a squash, that slightly slimy goo made my hands go completely numb for hours. I panicked. I thought I was having an allergic reaction. It looked like my skin was peeling off and I couldn’t feel anything properly. It only happened that one time but man, I was terrified of making them for awhile after that. Has that happened to anyone else?

Oh, and remember that the next time you’re eating fruit. Fruits are ovaries.

Moving on.

You’re going to start this recipe by scrubbing the zucchini in cold water and trimming the ends. Then you’ll grate it – I used the coarse side on my box grater – and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. I just used my hands but you can use a dishtowel if you want. Toss the zucchini in a bowl and chop just the florets of broccoli, removing as much stem as possible. Add that to the bowl along with the other ingredients.

I used colby jack cheese but you can use whatever floats your boat. Sharp cheddar would taste nice in this dish. The seasoning I used was a rustic Italian herb blend with some salt mixed in. You could do 1/2 tsp. oregano and 1/2 tsp. basil or any other combination. If you don’t use a seasoning with salt in it, you’ll want to add some to taste. The same goes for pepper!

I used coconut oil as my fat but you could use others. Whatever you want. One thing I encourage when sharing recipes is experimenting with it and making it your own. Don’t be afraid to make substitutions! 

Zucchini-Broccoli Hotcakes, aka What To Do With All Those Zucchinis

I served my zucchini-broccoli hotcakes topped with Blue Isle Spicy Vegetable yogurt spread. Disclaimer: I was given a box of Blue Isle yogurt spreads to sample and share with my readers, if desired. After trying them, I did desire to tell you about the product! The spreads are made with milk from California dairy cows, use all-natural ingredients to create five flavors like honey and French onion, and are sourced from cattle that have not been treated with artificial hormones. It’s a spread you can feel good about! Plus, yogurt is full of good bugs for your gut so you’ll be dosing yourself with healthy strains of live cultures and probiotics. You can use it as a dip, a spread, or use it in place of cream cheese when cooking. Give it a try! You can find a coupon on their site and even more recipe ideas.

Zucchini-Broccoli Hotcakes, aka What To Do With All Those Zucchinis
Blue Isle Spicy Vegetable spread

I also drizzled on some Humboldt Hotsauce in their habanero-mango flavor because I’m a heat-seeker. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and heat. Disclaimer: Humboldt Hotsauce doesn’t know who I am and I discovered them through a hot sauce trade with a friend who lives in Santa Rosa.

Zucchini-Broccoli Hotcakes, aka What To Do With All Those Zucchinis

What are your favorite ways to use up all of those zucchinis in your garden?

Zucchini-Broccoli Hotcakes, aka What To Do With All Those Zucchinis

Zucchini-Broccoli Hotcakes, aka What To Do With All Those Zucchinis


Zucchini-Broccoli Hotcakes
Serves 2
These healthy zucchini-broccoli hotcakes are a quick and easy breakfast dish.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 2 c. zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
  2. 1 c. broccoli florets, chopped
  3. 1/2 c. shredded cheese, your choice
  4. 1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs
  5. 1 tsp. dried herb seasoning of your choice
  6. 2 eggs, mixed
  7. Salt and pepper, to taste
  8. 2 T. coconut oil
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Heat coconut oil over moderate heat in a large skillet and scoop handfuls of vegetable mixture onto hot skillet. Press the mixture fairly flat, like a pancake.
  3. The egg may spread out a bit from the hotcakes and that's okay! Just press it back in with your spatula, if needed. These are eggy hotcakes.
  4. Let the hotcakes brown nicely on one side before flipping, about 5 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Serve topped with your choice of spread, hot sauce, syrup, or just eat it plain Jane.
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Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Jekyll Island is part of the Golden Isles, located in charming coastal Georgia and surrounded by salt marshes and warm ocean currents. The island is about 7 miles long by 1.5 wide and offers all the amenities necessary for a great vacation for families or couples. Jekyll Island is a state park and an entry fee is required to drive onto the island.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Entry point onto Jekyll Island

The entry cost for vehicles is $6 per day and it’s good for 24-hours of driving on-and-off the island. If you’re staying for an entire week and don’t plan on leaving the island at all, don’t bother buying the week-long pass, opt for the day pass and you’re set. If you want to explore the other Golden Isles then consider purchasing the week-long pass.

So what makes Jekyll Island a great travel destination for you?

The natural beauty. The wide, expansive beaches have hard-packed sand and tidal pools that beg to have bare feet splash in them.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
The wide beaches are beautiful

The water is comfortably warm and shallow, with gentle waves that allow even little travelers to feel confidence in the almighty sea. My 4-year old daughter, Lotus, paddled in and out of the water on her own while wearing an inner tube around her waist.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

At one point the somewhat murky water smacked her in the face and she shouted, “I hate this water!” but after a few minutes of stewing on the shoreline and angrily digging toes into the sand, she came back out and spent hours giggling and playing. 

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Driftwood Beach is located on the northern end of Jekyll Island and is a dramatic area, a graveyard of trees.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Finely grained and sun-bleached limbs with roots thrusting into salty air in an unapologetic rigor mortis litter the sand and reach longingly for the ebbing ocean and horizon beyond. Little crabs and cockroach-looking creatures scurry and scatter among the rocks and trees, and sea birds gather for the obvious feast.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Common scenery on Driftwood Beach

This seemed to be a popular local spot for photography sessions because there were at least a handful of fancy cameras capturing the magic hour while attempting to wrangle young clients into staged poses when they’d rather be running in the sand and surf. 

As always, all images posted here were captured on an iPhone 5c.

Wildlife? Jekyll Island’s got it.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Coastal whitetail deer

During our week stay, I saw wild dolphins just offshore, sand dollars galore, horseshoe crabs, an abundance of coastal whitetail deer, terrapins crossing the causeway, and our friends caught and released many sharks while fishing off a boat in the channel.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Horseshoe crab

Many sea turtle nests are located on Jekyll Island and the surrounding islands. Sea turtles seek high ground for their nests and they face so many obstacles in reaching adulthood that the Georgia Sea Turtle Center was founded to give them a fighting chance at survival.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Georgia Sea Turtle Center

They rehabilitate, educate, and help to preserve the environment. The Sea Turtle Center has educational programs for all ages, a museum to learn more about the life of these quiet creatures, an observation window into an operating room where doctors remove fishing hooks and stitch up other injuries, and a hospice area where turtles are given the chance to gain strength and heal in peace. 

Historical significance. The idea behind the Federal Reserve was discussed and mulled over on Jekyll Island by the big-wig bankers and major financial players of the day. It was once the private playground of the wealthy, with plantations and the Jekyll Island Club dominating what is now the historic district.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Jekyll Island Club

The Jekyll Island Club is still in operation and has a spa on-site and I’d love to spend a few nights there at some point in the future. You know, for research purposes … not because I’d enjoy the luxury and pampering or anything. The grounds are magnificent and ooze with deep Southern charm, thanks to the old and gnarled trees that positively drip with Spanish moss. 

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

Jekyll Island embraced slavery at one point in her history. In fact, the last known ship to bring Africans to the United States for the dastardly purpose of slavery was The Wanderer, a pleasure-yacht-turned-vessel-of-horror. It landed in Jekyll Island in 1858. Today, visitors can learn more about this scar on our nation’s history by going to the Jekyll Island Museum for a full exhibit on The Wanderer and honor the lives of those brought over by visiting the memorial which is located in the southern part of the island at St. Andrews picnic area. 

Head to St. Simons Island and visit Fort Frederica. About 30 minutes away from Jekyll Island is Fort Frederica, located on St. Simons Island. This was once a British military outpost and was built in 1736 to defend against the Spanish. It held soldiers and their families, as well as merchants and those with trades like bakers, shoemakers, and blacksmiths. 

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer

The grounds today are mostly cleared of buildings but much work has gone into preserving the history of the fort. Roads are mapped out with street signs, remains of foundations have plaques telling of who once lived there along with a display of artifacts that were found at each location. The ditch that contained the moat is still in evidence surrounding the entire fort and it’s easy to imagine palisades and fort walls surrounding it in the glorious yesteryear. It is built on Frederica River and was established by General Oglethorpe. It served its purpose for years before the Spanish threat waned with British victories and the fort declined and is now in the state you’ll find today.

Why You Should Plan A Trip To Jekyll Island This Summer
Mature trees and Spanish moss

Fort Frederica is a quiet place with a hush hanging in the air. The citadel and barracks are still somewhat intact and the graveyard still contains the remnants of tombs. Spanish moss grows thickly and rustles quietly in the breeze, not wanting to disturb the rest of the footsteps of those who once walked these streets.

It only costs $3 for visitors who are 16+ to visit and is an excellent day trip from Jekyll Island. Definitely check out the museum for an educational video on the history of the island, additional artifacts found at Fort Frederica, and a few fun activities for children.

Stop at the Pier Village in St. Simons Island for a range of dining options before heading back to Jekyll Island.

Jekyll Island is an attainable destination for most any budget. You can stay where our nation’s wealthiest used to flock, at the Jekyll Island Club with rooms starting around $189/night. There are various chain hotels like Quality Inn and Suites and Holiday Inn Resort, as well as other luxurious accommodations like Villas by the Sea and the Beachview Club

House rentals are another option, which is how we stayed in Jekyll Island, thanks to an invitation from great friends! Here is a list of current offerings on Airbnb and VRBO.

Go camping! The Jekyll Island Campground offers primitive camping sites ($29/day) and full hook-up sites for RVs ($38/day for pull-through). It is located near Driftwood Beach and there is a general store located on the grounds for necessities you may have forgotten.

Jekyll Island offers quiet solitude with the option of luxury amenities, outdoor adventure, and historic interest. Charter a fishing boat. Go paddle boarding. Kayak along the coast. Bicycle along more than 20 miles of trails. Go to Summer Waves Waterpark. Hit some balls around the golf course. Relax. Breathe. Feel the stresses of life melt away.

These are the reasons why you should plan a trip to Jekyll Island this summer. I’ll be running a photo essay shortly with more of the natural beauty found on Jekyll Island.

Find out even more about Jekyll Island here.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. My only credit must be given to our wonderful friends who invited us to stay with them at their friends’ beach house. 

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin {Rainey Street Edition}

I will be the first person to tell you that this should not be taken as any sort of definitive guide of where to eat in Austin. I didn’t have nearly enough time to explore the city and eat all the food. That’s okay, it just means I’ll have to go back and eat drink explore some more.

Local Austinites, I’m sure, have about two dozen other places to eat and drink that they prefer over what is listed here. Are you from Austin? Travel there often? What else belongs on this non-definitive guide? I’ll add it to the growing list of where I need to go next time.

I was only in Austin for five meals, the other meals we had at Austin Psych Fest or at HausBar Farms and Guesthouse. This limited our exposure to the dining scene. The parameters for our search included but was not limited to: tacos, BBQ, craft beer, Texas craft beer, and Texas border cooking. 

Here is part one of a two-part series on where we ate food and drank beer and margaritas in Austin, Texas. I’ll call this the Rainey Street Edition.

Food, craft beer, and travel is a trifecta of happiness.

Rainey Street. Parking is a crooked and haphazard affair where sidewalks can’t be found, laughter is loud, and what appears to have once been a small community has evolved into a bustling enclave for bars and restaurants. 


Banger’s is located on hip and chaotic Rainey Street in Austin.

 There is outside and inside seating at Banger’s, the former consisting of long family-style picnic tables piled into a large courtyard. Entry doors lead inside where porcine taxidermy overlooks additional family-style tables and a tap list of over 100 beers.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

Banger’s prides itself as having the largest selection of sausages in Austin and they offer meats like duck, antelope, venison, and more common varieties containing pork and chicken. 

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin
From left to right: Southern Anteleope & Venison Merguez, Dak Bulgogi

Of course I had to get the Southern Texas Antelope & Venison Merguez, because where else am I going to find Southern Texas Antelope in Pennsylvania? It was mildly spiced but not spicy and surprisingly moist inside a casing that popped with every bite. I’ll be honest, though, the Dak Bulgogi that my friend chose was amazing. From Banger’s menu, the Dak Bulgogi: 

Bulgogi Chicken Sausage topped with sriracha, kimchi, oyster sauce, cilantro, carrots, and jalapenos on a kolache bun with a side of soy caramel lime. Served with a house made kimchi salad and sun dried shrimp chips.


The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

With such a huge variety of craft beer, outstanding sausage and a poutine dish worth sharing with your friends, the laid-back atmosphere at Banger’s is definitely a place I’d go back to again and again.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

They also offer menu items like fried cheese curds, currywurst, boiled peanuts, a michelada bar, and beer milkshakes.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

If you want to get a tattoo of the cute Banger’s logo, a hybrid cowboy boot/beer mug, talk to your server. Apparently they have a deal with a local tattoo shop and it’s free. 

I should have gotten one. Talk about awesome conversation-starting souvenirs. Banger’s, we’re talking about this tattoo the next time I’m in town, okay?

They have live music, many events, and are dog-friendly.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

The legends of their founder, Olaf Gufstafson Banger (OG Banger), are colorful. See their website to read all about him.

Now I want a sausage.

Banger's WebsiteBanger's Facebooktwitter


Craft Pride

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

Craft Pride is also located on Rainey Street, close to Banger’s and wholly dedicated to all things Texan and craft. There is a small bottle and merch shop, inside seating that is decorated richly but simply, and outside seating areas.

The interior walls are black with an ornate pattern, the comfortably curved barstool-style seats at the pub tables are covered in black leather(ette) and heavily studded at the arms. On the ceiling is a large cut-out wooden plank relief of the Lone Star State, appropriately decorated with a single illuminated star.

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin

You will only find craft beer made in Texas at Craft Pride, with offerings from more than 20 breweries taking up 54 taps and 2 casks from breweries like Live Oak, Hops & Grain, and Saint Arnold. The staff is knowledgeable and happy to answer questions about the beer that is served there. If you don’t understand a style, just ask!

The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin
Detroit-style Carnivore Pizza from Via 313

If you need something to nosh on while at Craft Pride, head out back to the courtyard and order one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had, an exotic Detroit-style pie. Via 313 is a food truck that is parked behind Craft Pride and sells pizza by pie, consisting of four corner slices. One pie was plenty of food for two people. 

But what is Detroit-style pizza?

For starters, it’s delicious. The crust is crunchy and full of cheesy grease-soaked flavor, the toppings are piled on the crust and the sauce gets spread on top. We chose the Carnivore pizza and it was truly memorable, what with its pepperoni, ham, sausage, and bacon. The menu also includes The 500 (with pepperoni, jalapeños and pineapple), the Continental (prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan), and the Omnivore (cremini mushrooms, sweet onions, green pepper, pepperoni, and hot Italian sausage). Order your pizza, sit back down with your beer and an order number placard, and have it delivered right to you.

Craft Pride has events like Flight Nights, release parties, and live music. When stepping out on Rainey Street, Craft Pride and Banger’s are great options for you.

Craft Pride: WebsiteBanger's Facebooktwitter

Via 313: WebsiteBanger's Facebooktwitter

I hope you enjoyed this first post in my Non-Definitive but Delicious Guide of Where to Eat in Austin, the Rainey Street edition! Check back next time for Guero’s Taco Bar and one or two more locations.

Celebrating all that is finely crafted in life.