Highland Black Mocha Stout

I am doing a special, celebratory tasting in honor of sticking with a diet long enough to lose 15 lbs. Hooray me! Hooray cupcakes and beer!

To highlight the diversity of beer flavors I decided to do a dessert tasting. I have paired Highland Brewing Co.‘s Mocha Stout with Sophie P. Cakes‘ Mint Chocolate Chip cupcake.

Sophie P. Cakes is a Lafayette cupcakery, and in my opinion, one of the best I have ever been to. The cakes are always fresh, and the flavors are unique without being nauseatingly saccharine. Mint and chocolate has to be one of my favorite flavor combinations of all time, so I was over-the-moon excited when they had this little guy the day I went to get my victory cupcake. The cake was very minty and bright green with dots of small chocolate chunks. The icing was a great compliment and the whole thing sang of wonder and joy.

Highland is the largest micro brewery out of Asheville, NC, America’s home-town of beer. During my recent visit I was able to take a walking tour of the brewery and taste a large portion of their beer labels. The Black Mocha Stout was one of my favorites. It is hearty and sweet in all the ways a classic stout ought to be.

Aroma: Hoppy with sweet caramel notes and a lot of oats. Very distinct coffee aroma- this by far is the strongest sent.

Flavor: Hops in the flavor add to the bitterness quality found in coffee, a lot of coffee flavor with some of the complex characteristics of caramel. Some chocolate, but mostly coffee.

Body/Mouthfeel: creamy and smooth with thick foam

Color: Dark brown, opaque in the glass

The rich coffee flavor and sweetness paired very well with the chocolate and aromatic mint of the cupcake. The heavier body of the stout also paired well with the cake texture. A very good combination. This stout makes a great dessert beer and I would love to try it in a beer float. Also, more cupcakes.

Photos courtesy of Mr. Andre LaFleur



DIY Painted Wooden Bead Necklace

So I’ve had this idea sitting around in my head for a few months, it is really quite novel and I’m sure no one has thought of it before: paint wooden beads and string them into an awesome necklace! Put paint on things! Well, apparently Kate Spade beat me to the punch here, which I found from another DIY on painted wooden beads here, and then another one here. Damn. Someone else had the idea to paint things! Balls. (wooden ones. with paint). Also, holyshitthatballnecklaceis128dollars. americandollars. thatslike5euros. So I thought I better get on the ball with this before it swarms pinterest and I’m just another “craft your own painted ball thing.”

This little project was actually quite fun and I’ve done it with two color pallets and with different stringing methods. One of the great things about a project like this is being able to develop a particular color and texture set that you can use on multiple projects to give yourself coordinating accessories. For my first color scheme I’m using the same paint and ribbon from my DIY Summer Glitter Shoes, so I will have at least one thing that will match my shoes perfectly! This project also allows you to experiment with top trending colors (tangerine tango, neons, bright pastels, etc) without having to commit a lot of money to something that will be passe in a few months.

Painting the Beads:

Step 1:  Decide how many beads you want to be painted half color/wood, half color/color, whole, striped, or anything else you can imagine. On the aqua necklace I just randomly picked up beads and painted them, but with the neon one I did the painting more systematically. On the half ones, use the painter’s tape to tape off half of the bead- this is much more difficult than it seems. If you are OCD you may want to not do this part, because it is almost impossible to get it perfectly in half.

Step 2: Paint the beads!! Using the toothpick really helps, and I would also prop up the bead using my nails. Not recommended to do after a manicure.

Step 3: I also decided to glitter some of the beads. While the paint is still wet dip in glitter (this was easy to do with the glitter mixed into a bowl) and gently tap off of the excess. Warning. Glitter will get everywhere and will show up five weeks later still in your hair.

Step 4: Let each bead dry after each step. I found that hanging them between two paint bottles worked the best.

Step 5: When painting half and half beads, first paint one bead a whole color and when the paint is dry wrap it with painter’s tape and then paint the other color. Choose high contrasting colors and paint the second color thick enough to cover the first color- use multiple thin coats instead of one thick one.

Step 6: The same goes with the stripe beads- just use a thin bit of painter’s tape.

Step 7: Use clear nail polish to seal in the glitter (do this!!!) and add to the other beads to give a nice high-gloss finish. This will also smooth out brush strokes and make everything shiny. I suggest trying some with the wood left bare (Aqua Necklace) and some with the wood glossed (Neon Necklace).

Step 8: Let the beads dry again by suspension. Now, marvel at your awesomeness.

Stringing the Beads:

For my Aqua Necklace I did a simple stringing of the beads onto some coordinating ribbons and then used lots of bows to tie them together. See the photos below these instructions. With the Neon Necklace, I used chains and some ribbon along with some basic wire beading to string the beads onto the chain.

Step 1: Look at the awesome beads that are black and neon.

Step 2: The necklace bits: chain, chain with ribbon woven inside of it, and ribbon. I cut the chain to 22″, the woven chain to 24″, and the ribbon I just looped back around to the other side to get a length close to 26.”

Step 3: Wire bits: Get some needle-nose pliers and another set of pliers that you like to use, spacer beads (I chose black), and some straight pins. If you plan on doing more jewelry crafts then I suggest getting a set of jewelry pliers- they sell them at craft stores and bead shops.

Step 4: Find the place on your chain that you wish to attach the wooden bead. Run the straight pin through the spacer bead, then through the wooden bead, and then through the chain link.

Step 5: Use the needle-nose pliers to bend the wire down and then carefully cut the excess with a wire cutter.

Step 6: With the needle-nose pliers, bend the wire into a loop encasing the chain link. Make sure rough edges are not sticking out.

Step 7: Attach chain parts together with a jump ring on each side and tie the ribbon together in a knot. You can dab glue or Fray-Check on the knot to keep it tied. On one jump ring also attach a lobster hook and on the other jump ring attach a bit of left-over chain to make the necklace a bit adjustable.

Finished Products:

note: I used Fray-Check on the cut portions of the ribbons to keep them from unraveling.

I hope you enjoy this little project! Also, credit for the photography and the studio set up goes to Andre LaFleur, go see more of his work.


Nautical Waves Mani


Poppy Mani

This was a fun Half-Moon style mani that I decided needed that little extra bit of fun- so I used a dotting tool to add a high-contrast floral accent. I know it isn’t exactly a poppy, I should have made the center black for more of a poppy look, but the bright red-orange look of Essie’s Meet Me at Sunset was perfect!

The following is a little tutorial on how to get the Half-moon look. I used standard hole-punch guards (like these), but any circular sticker thing will work. The base is Sally Hansen’s Miracle Nail Growth in Nurturing Natural and the contrast is Revlon’s Minted.

Happy Painting!