Thanksgiving Day Hike – Rose Island, Charlestown State Park, Indiana. November 2015.

Adventures

Rose Island Amusement Park was a popular destination in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Families would board steamboats in surrounding cities – Louisville KY, Madison IN, Henderson KY – and cruise down the Ohio River for a fun day at the park. A wooden roller coaster, ferris wheel, a black bear named Teddy Roosevelt – Rose Island had it all. The entire park was destroyed in the 1937 flood – 10 feet of water covered the park, and it was never rebuilt.

Today, the land is part of Charlestown State Park, and Trail 7 leads you through the Rose Island area, with educational elements along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Look: The V-Box, a vegan meal subscription service by V-Grits

Vegan

V-Grits – Louisville’s only Vegan Food Truck – is launching a new vegan recipe subscription service called the V-Box. They are still finalizing the details, but the V-Box will come delivered to your door on a weekly basis, filled with a delicious recipe and all of the ingredients needed to make it.  We were selected to test the V-Box before launch.

On our doorstep was a box from V-Grits, and inside were 3 unique recipes, with all of the ingredients needed to make them. Everything inside was measured and labeled with the recipe that the ingredient went with, making it extremely easy to select our first meal and get it started.

The recipes for the test box were:

  • Orange Cauliflower with Red Quinoa
  • Mediterranean Sweet Potatoes with Greek-Dressed Arugula
  • Fusilli with Sundried Tomato Tapenade and Roasted Kale

For our first meal, we chose the one that looked the most complicated: Fusilli with Sundried Tomato Tapenade and Roasted Kale. The ingredients were all top-notch, fresh, and organic when available. The instruction sheet, filled with step-by-step photos and instructions grouped together, was easy to follow, and we had a lot of fun working together on a recipe that we’ve never tried before. The instruction sheet also included preparation & cook times, both for novices and for experts, which were pot on with how long it took us.

Once finished, we sat down for the meal, and it was delicious! The tapenade had an excellent, robust flavor that really carried the dish, and the roasted kale was better than any we’ve made before.

The V-Box is launching later this winter – follow V-Grits on Twitter to keep up!

PEAKSgiving: Uplands PEAK Sanctuary – Indiana. November 2015.

Vegan

Uplands Peak is a farm animal sanctuary in Southern Indiana. In it’s short existence, it has already rescued seven pigs (Andy, Annie, Brandi, Erica, Isaac, Lucy, and Tulip) and four goats (William, Twiggy, Benny, and Greta).

PEAKSgiving is their annual fundraiser, where like-minded people can get together to share a vegan meal (including chick’n & dumplings from V-Grits) at the sanctuary and help raise money to help in the upkeep of the grounds and animals. A silent auction, Magbooth photo booth, tables from vegan-friendly groups, and live music made this a great afternoon.

Besides the delicious food for a good cause, what was my favorite part of the event? Watching the animals enjoy their PEAKSgiving meal – fresh pumpkins that were donated to the sanctuary.

Uplands Peak Sanctuary is located 45 minutes outside of Louisville, KY in Salem, IN. Visitor info and more can be found on their website: UplandsPeakSanctuary.org

Saturday afternoon at Clark State Forest – Indiana. November 2015.

Adventures

Clark State Forest is located outside of Henryville in northern Clark County, Indiana. It is the oldest state forest in Indiana, and remains one of the few completely free properties in the Indiana Department of Natural Resources system. Inside the forest are several lakes, White Oak Nature Preserve, picnic areas, a primative campground, horse & hiking trails, and a public shooting range.

For more information on Clark State Forest, visit IN DNR: Clark State Forest.

New Vegan Wraps at Heine Brothers’ Coffee! January 2015.

Vegan, Work

Note: Originally posted on the Heine Brothers’ Coffee website, where I am the Marketing and Technology Manager.

One of the most-requested items that we get from customers isn’t a coffee from a certain growing cooperative, or an exclusive pastry from one of Louisville’s many great bakers – but a good, hearty wrap that is full of flavor, made with ingredients that are wholesome and natural. We talked to Najla Asward, owner of Najla’s Cookies, to begin exploring what this would look like coming from them.

Several things were important to us in this. Using natural ingredients – if we have to Google an ingredient, it is probably not something we want in our food. Offering options that everyone can enjoy, from vegans to meat-loving carnivores, is also high on the list. Easy preparation, so that our baristas can quickly prepare the item to help you get to your next stop on time, is important as well.

Najla came back with 2 different items, and they both knocked my socks off. Both are animal-free products, and as the lone vegan on our leadership team, I was excited to see the reactions from the rest of the group. They LOVED them! Najla listened to what we wanted, experimented in her kitchen, talked to other culinary professionals in Louisville, and brought us something even better than we could have expected.

We’re excited to launch these new pocket wraps in all Heine Brothers’ and Vint locations this week. Heine Brothers’ is committed to sourcing as many products as possible from local vendors, and through building these relationships, offering you the best that is out there. More varieties of the pocket wraps are in the testing phase (including non-vegan and gluten-free items), so stay tuned for those.

From Najla:

Creating these vegan wraps has been a labor of love. When the opportunity came to resume production I was not sure what the final product would look like. At Najla’s, our mission is and always will be to create premium hand-crafted specialty foods that don’t contain high fructose sugar, preservatives, trans fats , etc. We were challenged because to source ingredients without a lot of these over-processed ingredients required a financial commitment to pay more for better ingredients. Our commitment is to toast each tortilla by hand. Why do you ask? Because our tortillas contain 5 ingredients – flour, water, oil, salt and sugar and most of the other significantly cheaper options contain more ingredients I can not pronounce. We chose to squeeze fresh limes because we believe you can and should taste the difference in our Special Sauce for the Breakfast Wrap. We use organic tofu, organic ketchup and organic salsas and non-GMO canola oil because it really matters to us. We thank Stanley Chase from the Louisville Vegan Jerky Company for his creativity and Amanda from Strecker’s Vegan Foods for her vegan advice. We hope you enjoy what we have created as much as we have enjoyed making them. Even if you are not a vegan, we hope you will try them. We mean it when we say, “we are proud of what’s inside.”

Thank you for your trust in us.
Najla

Tablets: A Look Back. May 2013.

Technology

Since tablets will be dead in five years (at least, that’s what Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins thinks), I thought that I’d look back at the tablets that I have had over their short existence.

tumblr_inline_mnfa6x8ttn1qz4rgp

1. Palm TouchPad

When HP announced that they were discontinuing the TouchPad and selling off all remaining stock, I picked up a 32 gig for $149. I was already sold on Android at that point, but really liked the user interface of WebOS, and the TouchPad was a fun toy to play with. After about 6 weeks, it was collecting dust on my desk, and seeing that they were selling for $300 on ebay, I sold it.

tumblr_inline_mnfa7hFWmX1qz4rgp

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

I later decided to give the tablet another try, and picked up the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. The size worked well for reading books, but felt too small for browsing the web and watching videos – I found myself reaching for my laptop when I wanted to spend more than 5 minutes browsing the web. The tablet was slow, but I could have been ok with that, if I didn’t have to put up with TouchWiz. I was used to stock Android (from using a T-Mobile G2), and the user-interface enhancements, and custom programs replacing Google stock programs, just made it slower, ugly, and not what I wanted. Again, this sat on my desk for weeks at a time, not getting used, so it ended up on ebay.

tumblr_inline_mnfa811Wrp1qz4rgp

3. Apple iPad 3rd Generation

Since the only tablet I would see around the coffee shop was the iPad, and it seemed like people were actually being productive with it, I decided to go ahead and give it a chance. This was my first experience really with iOS, and, well, it wasn’t that bad. The iPad had a great screen, it was really comfortable to use, and had plenty of apps for productivity and play. My only real complaint about it at the time was it’s integration with Google stuff – I use Gmail, depend on my Google Calendar, use Google Docs/Drive for almost everything – and I just didn’t think that they worked well together. Luckily, the price they were selling for on ebay was about the same price that I paid for it, so off it went.

tumblr_inline_mnfa8orUFB1qz4rgp

4. Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

Asus had a hit with their Transformer series (at least as much of a hit as possible with Android tablets at the time), and the specs on this one were great, so I picked it up, along with the keyboard accessory. This really was the ultimate tablet – fast, almost-stock Android, and really usable. With the keyboard attachment, I could do almost everything that I could do on my laptop,  but in a smaller package. The screen looked great, it was light, but sturdy – everything you should want in a tablet. After about 3 weeks, I noticed that, although I was using it more at home than I was my laptop, that it cost as much as a mid-range laptop, but Android didn’t have all of the functionality of Windows or Mac, so it was returned.

tumblr_inline_mnfa811Wrp1qz4rgp

5. Apple iPad 3rd generation (again)

For some reason (maybe an 18-months no interest credit card helped), I decided to give the iPad another try. It was just as good as it was before, but had the same limitations as before as well. I just didn’t love it, and to add another form factor & operating system to what I was used to using (Android phone + Windows PC), I really wanted to love it. So, probably within a week, it was returned.

tumblr_inline_mnfa9qcm6w1qz4rgp

5. Nexus 10

Now I have the Nexus 10 from Google. There is a lot to like about it: stock Android, perfect size, fast, amazing screen – in fact the only complaint I have about it is that it doesn’t (yet) have a Smartcover-inspired screen protector/keyboard, like what has been made for the iPad or what Microsoft has with the Surface. It’ll probably never come, but it would be convenient. Android 4.1 (for tablets anyway) allows for multiple user accounts, which makes this perfect for work – I can have one account with all of my personal stuff logged in, and another account with all of my work stuff logged in, and which makes it great to use for both. Samsung’s build quality on this threw me off – lots of plastic, but feels very durable. It is the only tablet that I’ve stuck with for over 2 months, and I really don’t see a reason to change to anything new.

Travel – San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico. November 2011.

Blog, Work

In September 2011 I was given the opportunity to travel to San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico, to meet with the coffee cooperative Maya Vinic and give advice and guidance in the opening of their cafe. This was my first visit to Mexico, and San Cristobal is a wonderful town, full of culture and beauty.

Most of the time was spent in the offices of Maya Vinic, working with the coop on the opening of their cafe. We took a day trip to their production facility, as well as Acteal. In Acteal, we not only got to see a clean water project being worked on, but got to see the vivid details of the Acteal Massacre.

Places visited: San Cristobal de las CasasMaya VinicActealOrquídeas MoxviquilMuseo del Ambar.

Special thanks to: the Cooperative Coffees crew (Tomas, Janet, Matt, Chris), Mike Mays & Heine Brothers’ Coffee, everyone at Maya Vinic, Alex, the people of Acteal, and everyone else we talked with, shared coffee with, and laughed with.

Twin Peaks Fest. August 2011.

Blog

I’m still having a hard time believing that we went all the way to the west coast for a festival for a television show. This is not the kind of person I see myself as. That being said, it was awesome!

Twin Peaks aired on ABC from 1990-1991, when it was cancelled due to low ratings. David Lynch brought his insane personality in to his first television attempt, and nothing has come close to the quirky, campy, dark mystery since. Lynch really understands small-town America, and the dark under-belly in it. The show opens with the wrapped body of Laura Palmer washing up to the shore, and after the first few episodes there are numerous people that could have been the killer.

While the show has always had a cult following, the last few years have brought a new generation of viewers who appreciate everything it is. It is currently available for streaming on Netflix, which has helped the younger generation find it. The fest had a wide age range – there were people there from the ages of 20 to 50 years old. It was also international – there were several attendees from Europe and Canada, as well as Australia.

The festival took place in and around North Bend WA and included a movie night (watching Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me), Q and A with several of the series stars (Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Lenny von Dohlen, Phoebe Augustine, and Jan D’arcy), a dinner, trivia contest, media library, shooting location tour, and picnic. There are already plans for us to return for 2012 – the 20th anniversary of the festival.

 

Javatrekker – a book review. August 2008.

Misc.

I picked up a copy of Javatrekker after being asked to represent Heine Brothers’ Coffee in the Just Creations International Book Club. Author Dean Cycon is the owner of Dean’s Beans, another founding member (including HBC) of Cooperative Coffees. Things didn’t work out with the book club, but since I am interested in travel, the lives of coffee farmers, and fair-trade, I sent ahead and read the book.

Dean Cycon has traveled the world, visiting coffee farmers, and has a great story to tell. He is also a great story-teller, and does an excellent job keeping the reader entertained in the various antics that go on during his travels, but also reminds the readers that coffee farmers are some of the poorest people in the world, and deserve a lot more for the coffee the produce for their customers.

Africa, the Americas, Asia – he has been to them all, and has adventures that really make me want to hop on a plane and visit some of these farmers. Fair-trade coffee is a great step in helping these farmers – if you are looking for a local fair-trade roaster, check out Cooperative Coffees member list.

5 Things from Seattle, Washington. August 2011.

Blog

While in WA for Twin Peaks Fest 2011 we stayed in Seattle for a couple of nights, and spent a day checking out the city.

  • Grunge is not dead.
  • Seattle (and Washington in general) is beautiful. Lots of trees, mountains, ocean…
  • The weather was awesome. We left the 95 degree Louisville for 75 degree Washington. It barely rained, and was never too hot.
  • There were a lot of vegan restaurants, that were all really great. Special mention goes to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe – luckily this is not in Louisville, because I’d be totally broke.
  • Parks – it felt like there were just as many parks as Louisville has, and they ones we visited were all actively used. With their weather, I’d bet that people are enjoying the parks daily.

Finding the perfect soy milk for espresso drinks

Vegan

I manage a fair-trade / organic coffee shop, and part of the job is making sure that every drink that goes to a customer is the best drink possible. With our quality espresso and trained baristas, that usually isn’t a problem. One thing that I (as well as several of the baristas I work with) am not happy with is our soy drinks. We currently use Silk Vanilla. It has an ok taste, but it doesn’t foam well – and who wants just a cup of hot soy milk with espresso added? The texture of the milk is a main part of espresso drinks, and its something that I would like to see improved with our soy drinks.

Because of this, we decided to try out some other soy milks. I went to 2 local natural food stores, and bought a variety of soy milk products. The only requirement when selecting them was that it had to be organic (our current, Silk Vanilla, is “natural”, not “organic”, which they changed somewhat recently).

We had 6 people rating the drinks. We rated them all on a 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing) scale, both in taste and in foaminess. The results were not too surprising, there are definitely some better soy milks out there for foaminess, and some worse soy milks out there for taste. We did find one that we all agreed was best on both ratings, and we are hopefully going to be able to switch to it in the near future.

Child’s Play 1988/2011

Misc.

tumblr_inline_mnqnbisx171qz4rgp

My grandfather went by “Charles”, my father goes by “Charlie”, so when I was born and my parents gave me the same first name as them, they decided to call me “Chuckie”. As a child of the 1980’s I was there for some of the best horror movies ever made – A Nightmare on Elm StreetFriday the 13thSleepaway Camp, and of course, Child’s Play.

The doll/killer in Child’s Play was a “My Buddy” (rumors are it was a “That Kid” doll, whatever that was) doll named… Chucky. Of course I had one of those dolls when it came out in 1985. I was a fan of horror movies as a child (I still am), so I was excited about Child’s Play. I won’t go on about the movie, I assume most people have seen it and it’s greatness.

Sequels have followed – Child’s Play 2Child’s Play 3Bride of ChuckySeed of Chucky – and now the writer/director of the series has decided to, instead of doing yet another sequel, reboot the series. Great idea, or a complete disaster? Most will agree that the modern reboots of 80’s horror movies that have come out lately have been disasters, but if you have the same writer/director, maybe it’ll work out? I guess nothing can be worse then Seed of Chucky…

Pitchfork Fest 2010: Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down

Misc.

 

Thumbs Up:

  • Pavement! I never thought that I’d be seeing them live.
  • Big Boi – probably the most entertaining of the fest.
  • Comedy Stage on Friday – seeing comics perform at a music festival was great.
  • Cheap water, vegan corn dogs, Arnold Palmers.
  • Real Estate, Best Coast, Sleigh Bells, St. Vincent, Liars, Lightening Bolt, etc.
  • Recycling bins right by every single trash can

Thumbs Down:

  • Small park, lots of people.
  • Knowing several people that were going, but not seeing any of them
  • Heinekin beng the only beer available. How about some local brewers?
  • No coffee vendor – I could have used iced coffee after being there all day

Forecastle 2010: Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down

Misc.

 

Thumbs Up:

  • Working at the HBC booth means that I got in free all weekend
  • Cap’n Jazz’s first full set in 15 years! They were awesome – played everything I wanted to hear, and they all looked like they were having a lot of fun.
  • Devo – Costume changes, great use of the video screen on-stage, highly entertaining
  • Cake was surprisingly good for a band that I haven’t paid attention to in 12 years. I’m going to check out some of their newer stuff, it was really good.
  • Cirque Berzerk was beautiful. They had multiple performances every day – I wish I would have been able to check them out more than once.
  • Mucca Pazza was definitely fun.
  • Had too much iced yerba mate, and felt like I was cracked out for the weekend.

Thumbs Down:

  • Only 1 water fountain, bottled water costing $3 each, no way to refill them.
  • Heat. I guess it could have been worse, but it was HOT.
  • 4 stages, most bands that I wanted to see were playing at the same time as another band I wanted to see.

Falls Of The Ohio – Indiana. March 2010.

Adventures, Blog

I’m able to take Malady on day-long hikes – she enjoys them, doesn’t run out of energy, and we have fun.

Piper, on the other hand, throws up after being in the car for more than 5 minutes. She has short legs, has to take frequent breaks, and falls asleep as soon as we get in to the car to go home. That being said, I feel guilty taking Malady places and leaving Piper at home, so the day after I took Malady to the Charlestown State Park I took Piper for a stroll around the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

The Falls of the Ohio State Park is another newer state park in Indiana (newer as in the last 20 years), though its beginnings are 386-million years old. It sits on the banks of the Ohio River, along with Clarksville’s Ashland Park, directly across from Louisville (99% of the Louisville skyline photos you see are from here).

Trail 6, Charlestown State Park – Indiana. March 2010.

Adventures, Blog

In my world Monday is known as “Manager Monday”, when I slave over spreadsheets and payroll and sales (for about an hour) and then do other stuff that goes in to managing a semi-successful shop. This past Monday was no exception. In between putting away an order updating something on the computer I stepped outside, and, well, that was it. the weather was too nice to be inside doing stuff all day, especially when it was all stuff that I could put off.

So, around 2pm, I got in my car, got Malady from the house, and went back to Charlestown State Park.

This time we went out on Trail 6, which is the newest trail in the park. It starts at the parking lot for the boat dock for the Ohio River, climbs up the bluff, and follows the river to Fourteenmile Creek, where it descends to the Ohio River. From here you follow an old service road back to the parking lot. I really like this trail – it isn’t too long (around 2.5 miles), or too rugged, but there is a lot to see and a lot to do.

8th Street & P Avenue, Charlestown State Park – Indiana. March 2010.

Adventures

One of my favorite things about Charlestown State Park is it’s past. The land was once part of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, where tens of thousands of people made smokeless gunpowder for the military starting in the 1940’s. the plant (over 10,000 acres) continued manufacturing goods until 1992. Some of the land was turned over to the State of Indiana in 1995 & 1996, when they developed it in to a state park.

The main part of the park has 6 trails, a campground, a boat dock, picnic areas, and a playground. There are still several gated areas with roads dating back to it’s former use – many of these areas have “Do Not Enter’ or “No Trespassing” signs, but some don’t. There are several abandoned warehouses scattered throughout the gated areas, as well as railroad tracks & cars.

Trail 3 – Charlestown State Park – Indiana. March 2010.

Adventures

I woke up this morning with the birds chirping, the day off of work, and the need to get out. It was still in the 20’s outside, but I knew that the high was supposed to be around 50, and the sun was shining, plus I still haven’t really been able to really try out my new camera, so I decided that I was going to spend my day at Charlestown State Park.

Charlestown State Park is special to me. I took a summer school gym class in high school (I didn’t take it during the school year because of scheduling conflicts.) and we went to the park on a field trip. I had an interest in the outdoors as a child, but I lost it in middle + high school. I reconnected with nature that day – the park was so calm, so beautiful. I’ve returned to that park every summer since, probably 20 times a year in the last 7 years even. Last spring they opened 2 new trails, and they have plans for more in the future.

Today I took Malady on Trail 3, which runs down an old service road, descends to the Ohio River and goes along the Fourteenmile Creek valley, and then returns to the service road.

Otter Creek Park – Muldraugh, Kentucky. September 2007.

Adventures

Overcast, humid, and warm, but I really wanted to take Malady somewhere, so we ended up driving out to Otter Creek Park. When we got there we went straight for the old Ohio River boat launch (it’s been closed for years), where we walked down the river bank to where a creek let out, then we turned around. After that we walked down the rail road tracks to see a waterfall, which we ended up not being able to really get down to. Then it started raining, so we jumped in to the car and came home.

Deam Lake – Indiana. August 2007.

Adventures

It has been years since I’ve been to Deam Lake, and it was the middle of winter when I last went, so I decided to go ahead and check it out. It actually seems pretty awesome. While there we didn’t even check out any of the trails. We started at the beach, walked around to the boat dock, and just played around. I definitely want to go back, maybe get some people together to camp or something.

Jaycee Riverfront Park – New Albany, Indiana. June 2007.

Adventures, Blog

Malady and I were planning on going to the Loop Island Wetlands in New Albany, IN, but apparently there was a fire in the park earlier that week, so instead I took her to the Jaycee Riverfront Park, which pretty much takes over the entire riverfront area of New Albany. We parked over the flood wall where they are building the Scribner Place complex and walked to the park. From there we walked around the amphitheater down to the river, where the New Albany Fire Department were having a mock rescue. I let Malady play on the empty skate park for a few minutes then we walked to the other side of the Sherman Minton bridge, and down the park to a picnic area. From there we went down a trail to the river, walked down the side of the river bank for a while, then climbed through the brush and trees to get back to the park and the car.