November 29, 2011

Santa's Little Helper...Backpacking & Camping

I know some people consider it odd, but I am one of those people who actually enjoy camping. I even spent my Thanksgiving weekend camping on Cumberland Island (a post on that coming soon). If you know somebody who loves to camp, maybe they would enjoy some of these gifts.

November 25, 2011

Santa's Little Helper... Gifts for the Homebrewer

Do you have somebody in your life who wants to start homebrewing? Maybe you already have a homebrewer in your life and don't know what gadgets they may still need. Below I have outlined gifts any homebrewer would love at a range of price points so any gift giver can feel comfortable. As always, feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have. These gifts are sure to bring a smile to someone's face, and if you are lucky, a few beers to you in return.

November 23, 2011

Santa's Little Helper...Travel in Comfort

Lets face it, airline travel has become one of the most undignified, uncomfortable and stressful parts of any vacation. You know something great is waiting for you when you hop off the plane, but first you have to run the gauntlet. Baggage fees, carry on allowances, damn it my perfume is 5oz not 3, palm swab (this is a new one but it actually happened to me last month), x-ray, strip searched,  buy a $5 bottle of water, wait a few hours since you got to the airport at the suggested time, settle in to your rock hard seat located next to crying baby/arm rest hog/sneezing guy (pick your poison), try unsuccessfully to nap, arrive (Yeah!), lost luggage (Boo!).... You know the drill! These gift ideas hopefully make the journey a lot more comfortable for your loved one (or you), so when they arrive they can start their vacation off on the right foot. Grab a few and make up a gift bag or stuff some stockings to bring joy to your traveler's face this season.

November 22, 2011

Santa's Little Helper

Struggling with ideas for Christmas gifts? Over the next few weeks I will post "Santa's Little Helper" posts to hopefully give you some ideas for that person who has everything.

My Rescue Pup- Coby

And as a way to really celebrate the season, I have figured out a way to give back to a charity I love. Many of the links in my posts will be to If you click through one of my links I will get a 'kick-back' from Amazon for ALL the purchases you make in that transaction.  It doesn't increase the price for you at all. These kick-backs are already built in to the price they charge, so if you don't click through my link Amazon will simply pocket the extra cash. And, here's the best part, all of the kick back money I get from my blog I will donate to the Humane Society! So if you plan to do any shopping this holiday season through Amazon, please consider linking to them through my blog and help out a great cause at the same time. Remember, you don't have to buy the things I recommend in order for me to get the kick-back.

Merry Christmas!

November 17, 2011

Marble Cheesecake

My assignment for this Thanksgiving is to bring the desserts. I will be making the traditional pumpkin pie, but wanted to try out something a little different as well. My recipe of choice is this marble cheesecake from foodnetwork. The only issue is that I have only attempted a cheesecake once before and it was a soupy disaster! I decided to do a test run just in case I made cheesy soup again I could come up with another plan. To my surprise, this one came out great! I did use a water bath (not called for) and tweaked the baking time a bit based on other recipes and cheesecake tips I read online (and out of fear I would under bake it again). I did get a few cracks on top but I consider this one a success none the less.

November 16, 2011

Calling all entrepreneurs

I am working on a series of blog posts focusing on Christmas gift ideas. I would like to make one of those posts all about my crafty and creative friends (or friends of friends) who make and sell their own products. Send me a message if you or somebody you know would like to be involved.

November 15, 2011

Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

I recently tried this Good Housekeeping recipe that was suggested to me by a great friend of mine. Turns out that even though it is super healthy, it actually tastes good too! Prepping the squash is a bit of a pain, but once you accomplish that, the slow cooker does the rest. I served it with grilled old bay seasoned shrimp, but it would be great plain, as a side or with pretty much any other protein you like.

November 11, 2011

A Pinch of Joy on Facebook

Just started a Facebook page. Click the Like button on the sidebar to follow me there. Please let me know if you have any issues getting it to work. Thanks :)

Washington DC

I have been traveling for work a ton lately so sorry for the lack of posts. One upside to work travel is going to places you have never been like the conference that recently landed me in DC. Amazingly, the closest I have ever been to DC was a layover in the airport. It seems like most people I talk to went there on some middle school field trip. I must have been absent when those permission slips were handed out! Ron was able to meet me up there for the weekend which made it even more fun! So without further ado, our trip to DC in pictures. PS - I forgot the camera so you get to see it all through the eye of my iphone.

November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Beer

Every year we brew a pumpkin ale. For the last 5-ish years we served it at the world's largest outdoor cocktail party - the Florida/Georgia game. This year I was in DC for work that weekend so the pumpkin ale had to wait until now. Each year we tweak the recipe slightly to play with spices, ABV, hops, etc.... Here is this years recipe. Should be ready in time for turkey day.

29oz can Libby Canned Pumpkin (make sure it is 100% pumpkin, not pie filling or anything added)
.5 lb carapils
1 lb amber candi sugar
1 oz cascade hops
1 oz hallertau
16 oz molasses
6.4 lbs golden light malt extract
Wyeast American Ale 1056
2.5 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp Irish moss

Steep grains in grain bag to 180. Turn off burner and steep 15 extra minutes. Bring water to boil. Add malt. Return to boil. 60 min - add cascade. 30 min - add pumpkin, .5oz hallertau & sandy sugar. 15 min - add spices, molasses and irish moss. 5 min- add .5 oz hallertau. Move to fermenting bucket. Pitch yeast when cool. Ferment at least 2 weeks.

OG - 1.050