Thirsty Planet Brewery | Austin, TX

One of my friends here in Austin is soon leaving the great state of Texas for a new adventure and I’m super excited for her and all the things that await! Anyway, one of the things we decided was to try and do some Austin type things before she leaves. So last month a few of us headed out to Thirsty Planet, a popular brewery out in Austin.

Minus the fact that it was blazing hot (and I don’t know if the ac was working inside), it was a fabulous trip! It’s always fun to tour and see how different breweries make their beer. Thirsty Planet fits Austin so perfectly as well and worth checking out if you enjoy trying local beers and find yourself in Central Texas. :)

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The owner, Brian Smittle, sharing about the process.

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They have three year around brews and my favorite was definitely Thirsty Goat. Perfect for football season and grilled burgers or hot dogs!

Thirsty Goat

  • American-style Amber Ale
  • Sweet, Malty and rich deep flavor with a spicy finish

Buckethead

  • American-style India Pale Ale
  • Light caramel sweetness followed by a bitter punch in the mouth with a long finish

Yellow Armadillo

  • Light American-style Wheat
  • Crisp and refreshing, light citrusy notes, clean finish

I liked that they had games available for use – it makes for a great afternoon of conversation and laughs. A perfect fall day would make the visit even better, you know when you can sit outside and not turn crispy.

Find out more about Thirsty Planet around the web
Website | Twitter | Facebook

What are some local hot spots where you’re at?

Love Letters from God by Glenys Nellist | Book Review

Do y’all remember The Jolly Postman? It goes down as one of the best children’s books ever. I still have my copy (it was the Christmas version). It was full of different kind of letters you can pull out from the pages. Full of colorful characters and postman adventures, this was a hit in all my classes.

After seeing Love Letters from God pop up on my radar, I had to pick it up, only if to fulfill my nostalgic whim. Written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp, this book is perfect for young readers!

What child does not love to receive mail? What if that child could receive, open and read his or her own personal mail from God? The Love Letters from God will invite them to do just that! Accompanying each story in this unique children’s Bible is a very special and encouraging letter, each tucked away in its own lift-the-flap envelope, just for them. Written for children ages four to eight, the Love Letters from God includes eighteen of the most popular Bible stories—nine from the Old Testament and nine from the New Testament. Following each story the child will find his or her own letter from God. Children will love the excitement of opening the letters and parents will love how each letter elaborates on the Bible story being told. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Wonderful Words To You will accompany each story and letter. Much more than a mere memory verse, each carefully chosen promise will be God’s very own personal words of love, encouragement, and hope. This book will culminate in an invitation for the children to write their own RSVP to God.

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Covering keys stories in the Bible, this colorful and fun read will share stories in a new way for your young ones. From creation, to Adam and Eve, to King David, to the calling of the disciples, to key parables, to stories from Jesus’ time on earth, and of course the Resurrection, I know children will love reading through the stories, learning scripture verses and reading the letters.

Each letter from God takes lessons from the biblical story and what God’s heart is. Like this one from the story of David and Goliath:

I have something very special to tell you: No giant is bigger than me! No giant is stronger than me!

So do not be afraid of giant things in your life that might frighten you. Never forgot I am bigger and stronger than anything you might be scared of. So try to be like David-do not be afraid. Remember, I am always with you.

Your Big Strong Friend,
God

Plus there’s even an invitation and spot for children to write their own letter to God!

I love all of the creative and fun bible stories for young ones these days! How about you? Did you have a favorite story as a child from the bible? Or are there current ones you love sharing with kiddies?

(Thank you to Zonderkidz for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Books

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Hit by Lorie Ann Grover | Book Review

I don’t read much YA. Unless, apparently it’s dystopian or fantasy, but that’s for another post. Thus, diving into a contemporary YA novel is always an unknown adventure. I try and read novels out of my normal scope from time to time and this one piqued my interest in that it was based on real life events (the accident) of people in the life of the author. Here’s a bit more about Hit by Lorie Ann Grover:

After receiving a full-ride scholarship to Mills College for Girls, it appears Sarah’s future is all laid out before her … that is until she walks into a poetry class led by Mr. Haddings, a student teacher from the nearby University of Washington. Suddenly, life on the UW campus seems very appealing, and Sarah finds herself using her poetry journal to subtly declare her feelings for Haddings. Convinced Mr. Haddings is flirting back, she sets off for school in the rain with a poem in her back pocket—one that will declare her feelings once and for all.

Mr. Haddings has noticed Sarah’s attention; the fallout from any perceived relationship with a student is too great a risk, and he has decided to end all speculation that morning.

But everything changes when Mr. Haddings feels a thud on his front bumper when he glances away from the road, and finds Sarah in the street with blood pooling beneath her.

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I cannot even began to fathom the horror a parent would feel and experience when their child is in such a terrible accident. (I think that’s sign #1 YA isn’t so much my genre, when I instantly connect with the parents in the story.) Anyway, I thought Grover was able to provide a honest look at how it would be for parents, siblings and of course the girl in the accident. Knowing this aspect was based off of real events, my heart definitely went out to the family and that part of the storyline.

It’s hard to write this review, because my bias keeps trying to creep in. So while reading, I found my youth/college ministry leader coming out at times wanting to impart sound advice to the kids. As the writing is geared towards teenagers, I realized it’s not my style. But I’m not in high school anymore and haven’t been for a while, so I think this could be a good read for that age group.

What are some fiction books you’ve read based on real life events that you enjoyed? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

(Thank you to BlinkYA for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Books
Right now there’s a deal going on if you pre-order Hit! Check it out here.

Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson | Book Review

“Galveston became Atlantis.”

If you enjoy non-fiction, you need to read Erik Larson’s books.

If you don’t enjoy non-fiction, you need to read Erik Larson’s books. :)

But for real internet, he is one author who can turn anyone into a non-fiction reader. Not only because he’s an excellent and engaging writer, but he writes about historical episodes that are completely fascinating, like my book club’s recent read: Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History.

September 8, 1900, began innocently in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas. Even Isaac Cline, resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau failed to grasp the true meaning of the strange deep-sea swells and peculiar winds that greeted the city that morning. Mere hours later, Galveston found itself submerged in a monster hurricane that completely destroyed the town and killed over six thousand people in what remains the greatest natural disaster in American history–and Isaac Cline found himself the victim of a devastating personal tragedy.

Using Cline’s own telegrams, letters, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the science of hurricanes, Erik Larson builds a chronicle of one man’s heroic struggle and fatal miscalculation in the face of a storm of unimaginable magnitude. Riveting, powerful, and unbearably suspenseful, Isaac’s Storm is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets the great uncontrollable force of nature.

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Knowing Texas as it is in 2014, it’s pretty mind-boggling to think at one point in history Galveston was battling Houston for first place in, well, anything. It truly put in perspective what a devastating storm can do to alter history.

“If there were a Pulitzer for bleak irony, however, it would go to the News for its Saturday-morning report on one of the most important local stories of the year—the Galveston count of the 1900 U.S. census, which the newspaper had first announced on Friday. The news was excellent: Over the last decade of the nineteenth century, the city’s population had increased by 29.93 percent, the highest growth rate of any southern city counted so far.”

The first half gives a lot of background. From the history of hurricanes to the cities involved, the background and history lay a solid foundation not only of the characters, but how weather forecasting was handled in different parts of the world. I wasn’t expecting that much background, but it gives a more broader understanding of how big this storm was and the rippling effects.

When the book began to dive into that fateful day of the hurricane, I couldn’t put the book down. It’s an intense tale to read, but I found I couldn’t pull myself away from the pages.

Dealing with a natural disaster is going to bring gut-wrenching facts (I did have to stop reading for a while after the part about the destruction of an orphanage and the lives lost, i.e. kids), but even with painful truths of the story, Larson is able to deliver without being overwhelming or too descriptive. It’s no easy task, but one he has mastered.

I couldn’t help but wonder why did people stay? If water is filling up and reaching my steps…y’all I’m out! This story (and people’s stubbornness, pride, fear, whatever), is another fascinating aspect of the book. It’s just sad to think that it caused many people their lives.

I think I like In the Garden of Beasts a bit more, but it’s a close one. Both are intriguing stories and written fantastically.

Anyone else a Larson fan? I’m so excited he has a new book coming out soon!! Are you a big non-fiction reader?

Where to buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A Tolkien Blog Party of Special Magnificence | 2014

If you didn’t know, September 22nd was Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday. My blogging friend Hamlette puts together an annual and awesome blog party and since I wasn’t able to join in last year, I thought this year would be the perfect place to start! My fellow Tolkien fans, I think you’ll enjoy it!

You can find out all the details (and WAYYYY awesome giveaway) over at Hamlette’s blog and find out how you can join in too! Now on to the 10 questions!

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1. Who introduced you to Tolkien’s stories?
When I was much younger, I remember watching the following cartoon (the animation will blow.your.mind ;) ). Yep, my first exposure was a 1977 cartoon version of The Hobbit and I have no recollection of who introduced me. I didn’t actually read Lord of the Rings until after the first movie came out. I remember after I watched The Fellowship of the Ring at home, I thought to myself WHY THE HEY HAVEN’T I READ THESE?! That’s when my love of Tolkien took on a whole new level :).

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2. How old were you when you first ventured into Middle Earth?
This is why I should read through questions first before answering them :), since I pretty much answered this in question #1. To be accurate, I was 20 years old.

3. Did you read the books first, or see movie versions first?
I only saw The Fellowship of the Ring first and then read non-stop until I finished the entire book. What wonderful days those were :)

4. A dragon or a balrog — which would you rather fight?
Bring it on Smaug! Although if I had the talent of Gandalf, I’d battle a balrog. Or maybe I just want an excuse to slam down my weapon while yelling “You shall not pass!” That might possibly be the real reason.

5. Who are three of your favorite characters? (Feel free to elaborate on why.)
Samwise Gamgee. I love his loyalty and bravery. He is the definition of friendship. Plus he has the best quotes.
Aragorn. He makes such a great king because he doesn’t crave power and I’m drawn to his initial reluctance and his journey towards returning as king.
Éowyn. She does.not.play (she’s described as spirited and brave). She’s not defined by people’s expectations and knows what it means to sacrifice. She does what she must to protect those she loves. Plus I love that she ends up with Faramir (another favorite of mine). :)

There’s definitely more, but I figured I pick one from different regions. :)

6. Have you ever dressed up like a Tolkien character?
No, but I have had a Hobbit Party before, which consisted of lots of food.

7. If someone asks you to go on adventure, how do you respond?
“I’m in!”

8. Have you read any of the “history of Middle Earth” books?
Yep! I’ve read The Silmarillion (I know it’s not technically one of the histories, but it’s one of my favorites) and The Children of Húrin (which was 8 levels of crazy and you can check out a discussion here). I’m excited to read through the rest with The Inklings Series on my blog!

9. Would you rather drink a bowl of Ent Draught or a glass of Old Winyards?
Oh goodness…decisions, decisions. If I choose Ent Draught, will my skinny jeans fit again? I feel with all of it’s healing type properties and height giving qualities, it can at least get them jeans back on. :) If not, then bring on a glass of wine.

10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken:
The crownless again shall be king.

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places: but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

“I would have followed you, my brother… My captain… My king.” COMMENCE CRYING.

“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo – and it’s worth fighting for.”

“What is this new devilry?” I’m pretty sure I use Boromir’s line at least once a week.

How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back?

Well, there’s some insight into my Tolkien love. If you join in, be sure to share the link! Or feel free to share in the comments :)