Local Beer in Charlotte, NC

April 29th, 2013 | Posted by Lackey in My Wining Life - (0 Comments)

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Time out from wine to give some necessary attention to beer! Whenever we go to Charlotte, NC to visit my son, we end up sampling some great beer. This time, we weren’t in town for an hour, when we stopped at Good Bottle Company, a new craft beer store and tasting bar that my son had been meaning to check out for a while.

The store is well stocked with beer from all over the country, as well as some international beers.

Along the back wall is a tasting bar with several taps and a map showing where the tasting tap beers are from.

My son insisted I try Word to Yo Moda, a red saison from Charlotte’s own NoDa Brewing Company. David tried Shift, a New Belguim Brewery Pale Ale. Sometimes I think my son’s first job washing dishes at The Brew Kettle introduced him to beer knowledge early on. We chatted with one of the owners about their business model, hours and interesting concept.

Before leaving, we entered the contest for the bicycle in the front of the store and headed down he street to the Savory Spice Shop to sample spices!

On Saturday, we finally had an opportunity to sample beers at two local breweries in the NoDa Arts District of Charlotte. Conveniently located next to each other – luckily this involved parking the car just once in the crowded parking lots – both were “hopping” on a dismal, rainy afternoon. The first was Birdsong Brewery,
founded in 2011 with a quest for better beer and a 5-gallon soup kettle. The outside deck was full of people and dogs and loud conversation.

Inside, it was standing room only with a few high top tables and a long pub bench table in front of a large window allowing views of the brewing facilities . A tour was in progress, an acoustic guitarist was entertaining in the corner and we enjoyed a round of very tasty beers. David said the Jalapeño Pale Ale was surprisingly sweet and not at all toxic. I enjoyed the Lady Bird Brown which had enough caramelly sweetness to please my palate.

Next stop, a run in the rain across the parking lot to NoDa Brewing Company.

NoDa was larger and noisier, but we managed a table for four and stayed a while tasting several of their beers.

David’s Hop Drop and Roll had enough IBUs to satisfy his craving for citrus bitterness and my Coco Loco was rich and nutty with hints of organic coconut.

It must have been edging toward dinner time, because servers from The Tin Kitchen Food Truck began circulating the room with menus and order forms. Coincidentally, we had met the owner a year ago tasting spices at Savory Spice and had a long conversation about his food truck enterprise back then. We had to order something! A sampling of Duck Confit tacos and a taste of chips and salsa for the table!

Sunday morning, we might as well have been home in Cleveland – gray skies, pouring rain and the culinary highlight of the weekend threatened by weather. We had planned on a day of fun in the sun back in the NoDa District at the Growlers Pourhouse Oyster Roast 2013. Growlers is a bar that specializes in “Craft Beer and Beer Food”. We got information from the Facebook page stating that the event was not cancelled, the bands would still play, and the food ticket price had been waived. For a $5 cover charge, we stood in the cold and rain to feast on buckets of steamed oysters, perfect pulled pork sandwiches, brats and pretzels. Of course – more beer!

Under dripping canopies, tables were set up with crackers, hot sauces, paper towels and oyster shucking knives. David tried in vain to steady the hot oysters in his cold fingers to pry. Luckily we found a young woman with advanced shucking skills who had already eaten her fill and who was happy to shuck for us so we could slurp some of the salty goodness of the steaming oysters. They ran out after our first bucket – but we had already had a plenty and the band and wet drinkers were getting loud.

Each beer I set down seemed to be snatched up by someone else before I could finish it, but our jeans were getting soaked and a warm movie theater was calling us. A memorable “pouring Pourhouse” experience that left us laughing – not “growling”!

Wine Tasting at Chateau Morrisette – Floyd, Virginia

April 29th, 2013 | Posted by Lackey in My Creating Life - (0 Comments)

One of our favorite Virginia wineries is Chateau Morrisette located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Virginia. Floyd is a heavenly little town known for bluegrass music and the annual Floydfest..

Our recent visit to Chateau Morrisette was off-season and the winery was quiet except for a few other tasters, so this time we paid attention to the building.

Large and impressive, the unique building was constructed from salvaged timber from the St. Marie River to create one of the largest salvaged timber frame buildings in North America: 32,365 square feet with 135,000 board feet of Douglas fir recycled timbers.

This time, I mentioned that I worked at a winery, and we had the $8 tasting fee waived! We sampled 10 wines from a tasting sheet titled Suzette’s Choice that had a nice little bio of Suzette at the bottom. The samplings included a Chardonnay, a dry Rose, Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Vidal Blanc, Blushing Dog, Red Mountain Laurel, White Muscadine and Blackberry wine. Their Blushing Dog was too sweet for my taste, but their red and white house wines which are called Our Dog Blue and Black Dog Red. The dogs are a constant feature of many aspects of the winery. In fact, they wander around at leisure. Several of the labels have dogs on them.

Along with the tasting room and lovely gift shop, Chateau Morrisette also has a fine dining restaurant that gets rave reviews. Their summer music festivals are loads of fun – especially on a lovely day when you can sit out on the rolling lawn facing the great outdoor amphitheater and take in the larger views of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the distance.

I first heard the name Mary Jane Butters when I came across her line of glamping inspired fabric for Moda. I purchased some of the laminated red fabric to use for a placemat set for my Etsy shop. When I first listed these placemats, I sold a set within a few hours – which means the glampers are out there!

To fuel my recent interest in glamping, I went in search of my favorite source of information – books! After a cursory search for books on the Internet, I happened upon a book that looked like the perfect resource. I was in luck when I found the local library could get me Glamping with Mary Jane Butters. This book is THE manual for glampers and a feast for the eyes. It is full of gorgeous modern photographs, sepia-toned archival photos, vintage snapshots of Mary Jane’s own childhood family camping adventures from the 50s, and kitschy illustrations of fifties era glamour women captioned with clipped vintage typewriter-font advice. In the introduction to this primer, she acknowledges generations of adventuresome women by “Viewing Women’s History in 3-G – Grit, Grace and Glam”.

Butters is, herself, a brash and ballsy outdoors woman. A little reading up on her life made me feel disgustingly sedentary and docile. After many camping experiences around Utah as a child with her family of seven, she took a job after high school as a fire look-out atop a mountain in northern Idaho. I KNOW! Then she became a wilderness ranger. Then she built fences, herded cows and raised an organic market garden. Then she founded PCEI.org, a regional environmental group in 1986. Readers of her magazine and website can learn about her philosophy of simple organic living – and see her retail product line. And, then there this great book of hers.

Every bit a how-to guidebook, the table of contents includes section titles such as Trailers, Gear and Safety, and contain information as basic as it is necessary. The section titled “Gettin’ Hitched” is literally about how to hitch a trailer and includes a glossary of towing talk defining trailer tongue, hitch ball and coupler lock. In the Housekeeping section, Butters tackles everything from laundry and bathing to building a tote-able toilet seat and lid from materials available through Amazon.com. Later she gets to the fun stuff – glamping eats and entertainment – and she includes recipes and DIY patterns for setting up the perfect Glamping retreat.

Butters instituted an annual International Glamping Weekend set for June 1 and 2, 2013. Maybe I’ll round up a few of my gal pals, get out my Glamping accessories, whip up a pitcher of Happy Glampers punch and a batch of Smoked Bacon and Mustard Salad from her recipes, and host a backyard Glamping event!

What’s Glamping? According to the Urban Dictionary it is glamorous camping or luxury camping – and it is quite the rage. According to the Glamping Hub website, where you can select a destination and book a trip, “Glamping is a growing global phenomenon that combines camping with the luxury and amenities of a home or hotel. Also called boutique camping, luxury camping, posh camping or comfy camping, glamping allows travelers to experience nature without the hassle of finding camp space, carrying their tents, and erecting and taking down their own tents.” At Glamping Hub travelers can search by type of accommodation – yurt, safari tent, camper, treehouse – or even igloo.

Not ready to book a trip but interested in browsing? Loads of Pinterest boards are labeled Glamping and are filled with images of colorful, hip new ways to get outdoors. So I decided to add the word “Glamping” to my search item tags on Etsy and it has given my picnic basket totes some extra views.

Last year, on spring break in Charlotte, NC. I bought the first two vintage picnic baskets at an antique store. That was the beginning of it all. Since writing about upcycling vintage picnic baskets for wedding gifts last summer, I have made and gifted four lovely oilcloth picnic basket liner totes individually made and measured to fit old wooden picnic baskets. Filled with colorful plates and napkins, plastic cutlery, wine, crackers, snacks – even bug spray and wet wipes, these baskets make a perfect gift.

Aqua Oranges Oilcloth picnic basket tote

Every picnic basket is a little big different, so I have altered sizes and pocket placements a bit. Every basket liner has silverware slots, and ample side pockets for picnic supplies. There is also a coordinating elastic loop on one end to keep that sleeve of red solo cups together!

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

This one is made from bright aqua and oranges print oilcloth and lined with orange gingham. It looks like a summer day!

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

I’ve added a layer of stabilizer in the bottom of the basket construction so that it will support a full picnic worth of fixings.

Another classy combination of oilcloth is black and white damask toile print and black and white gingham.

Black and White Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

This one was made to fit a slightly larger vintage basket. Since I have been sewing liners on my new sewing machine – which does not have a free arm – I have changed the way I sew the basket and liner together but I am very pleased with the clean line and strap attachment.

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote


I was glad for a chilly, but sunny day this week so that we could take the baskets to the park for pictures. I had previously photographed this blue cherries and checks print basket liner at home, but I need to get it out in the sun for a photo shoot to really show it off.

Blue Cherries and Checks Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

All three of these liners are for sale at my Etsy store. I have an idea or two for future Glamping products for my shop. Stay tuned as summer approaches and the glampers hit the road!