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.

Amber DeGrace’s food and craft beer stories on LNP

I write part-time at LNP, the local newspaper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Following, find a list of all the stories I have published there. Click through to read them – all of them are food and booze related, making it a perfect fit for readers of Fine Craft Living. 

New stories will be added to the top of this list as time passes, making it easy for you to get the very latest without having to scroll through the entire list.

Raw red beet marinara, a recipe

It’s my favorite time of year: summer.

Insects buzz in the afternoon heat, ice cream shops are crowded and every week my CSA haul contains plentiful fruits and vegetables.

I’ve been getting beets every week, and while I love using my Paderno spiralizer and think every kitchen should have this tool (affiliate link) and eating those beets raw, drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, cracked black pepper and goat cheese, I am always excited to try new ways of eating the rainbow.

Raw red beets are beautiful marbled jewels when peeled: smooth and firm, sweet and earthy. Don’t fear the staining properties of the juices – that pigment’s name is betalain, and it contains antioxidant properties.

raw red beet marinara
red beet

This recipe couldn’t be easier, and as long as you at least have fresh red beets, you probably have just about everything else you need right in the pantry. I think fresh tomatoes taste best, but the first time I made this, I used three cans of diced tomatoes (drained) and it was still delicious.

The color wavers between hot pink and ruby red, and tastes just as good right out of the blender as it does after heating it. Raw or not, the choice is yours. 

raw red beet marinara
raw red beet marinara

Some ideas of what to do with this raw red beet marinara:

  • top spiralized zucchini “noodles”
  • use in place of pizza sauce
  • lasagna or spaghetti pie
  • add cooked meat for a non-vegetarian version
spaghetti pie
spaghetti pie

Please for the love of all that’s holy in the kitchen, don’t substitute fake maple syrup for the real stuff in this recipe. If you don’t have real maple syrup in your house, go get yourself some (affiliate link) because it’s a game changer on pancakes, ice cream and raw red beet marinara. 

What will you make with this red beet marinara?

Raw Red Beet Marinara
Raw red beet marinara, full of brilliant pink color, adds a touch of earthiness to the standard marinara sauce.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
  1. 3 cups diced tomatoes
  2. 2 medium beets, peeled and diced
  3. 3 tablespoons onion, diced
  4. 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  5. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  6. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  7. 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  8. 1/4 cup fresh basil
  9. 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  10. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  11. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
In a blender
  1. Blend tomatoes until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth, one to two minutes.
  3. Serve raw, directly from the blender, or heat and cook as desired.
Adapted from Nutrition Stripped
Fine Craft Living http://www.finecraftliving.com/
 This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase anything I linked to, I will receive a small amount of money. I only endorse products that I love.


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!

Celebrating all that is finely crafted in life.