Dry Diggings Distillery – Whiskey Tasting Adventure

This blog probably should have been WWWB…Wine Whisk WhiskEY & Bliss as it is no secret that I love my whiskey. What do you think my answer was when 2nd dad aka Mikey aka Uncle asked if I’d like to go whiskey tasting? Um, YES. Not only does this blog support local and small business but so does my entire family!

Y’all Dry Diggings Distillery is the Hogwarts of whiskey: magical, secretly hidden, and extremely educational. Nestled in the heart of El Dorado Hills this local business/distillery gave us one exciting afternoon. Now, if you’re a whiskey hater…..why are you here? Just kidding. In all seriousness there is a wide variety of spirits available at Dry Diggings and ALL made in house, AND the people running the show are incredible so go anyways for a fun afternoon and memorable experience!

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Please welcome Michelle, my aunt to the blog! She isn’t cooking anything on this post but she went along for the tasting because that’s just what family is for. Kyle and my amazing grandpa went as well but apparently we didn’t take pictures with them….oops. Next time! Mikey and I collab quite a bit you may remember him here & here. We continue! All of us in attendance being whiskey tasting virgins.

We take the short drive to the distillery and upon parking Michelle looks over at me from the backseat with bewilderment across her face and asks “is this it?!” Hogwarts. The distillery is located inside your run of the mill business building! It is totally awesome. We walk through the door, were immediately greeted with a smile, and continued down a short hallway that then transported us into the magical place of Dry Diggings Distillery.

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Our tasting was hosted by Darci and she was absolutely delightful. My family is loud, funny, the best(slightly biased), and memorable and Darci put up with us the entire time! Whiskey and spirits tasting is not what Michelle and I initially thought which was taking numerous shots of whiskey until you can’t remember your name. No, the tasting in TOTAL is only equal to about 1 and a quarter shots. You also can pick your tasting here from whiskey exclusively which is what Kyle chose or the rest of the party’s choice: a mixed flight of both whiskey and spirits. Darci loves where she works and we all could immediately tell the minute she began to explain each bottle, how the idea for it was conceived, the entire process from start to finish, and the uniqueness in taste for each whiskey/spirit. The love for the art of spirits and whiskey absolutely radiates here. I am not going to give too many of the secrets/facts/education away here(sorry) but I feel it is absolutely imperative to hear and experience in person. If you are in the Sacramento area…if you are in California make the drive to this amazing local business. I am telling you that you will not regret it.

Fun fact: Whiskey/Spirit tasting is totally different than wine tasting! Duh, right? Michelle and I are expert wine tasters but had quite the learning curve here and Darci walked us through every step of the way. A fun trick we learned was to breathe in, take a sip, and then breathe out to really capture aromas and flavors while tasting. We tasted an odorless and tasteless vodka….this is how vodka is supposed to be guys if done right. Interesting, right? We had a white rum, cherry brandy, rye whiskey(one of the favorites), an apple brandy lovingly referred to as Apple Jacks(also a favorite of the day), and plenty more whiskey. Darci had a memory for every drink she poured which made the afternoon personal as we in turn told stories and laughed until our hot jaws hurt. Christine, the owner’s daughter joined as well and had a laid back fun personality to match. The tasting itself takes just a little over an hour. We all bought at least 2 bottles for our homes, in addition to her two bottles Michelle got some ginger soda for moscow mules, I bought hot sauces, bloody mary mix, Apple Jacks, and Kyle got a whiskey, and Mikey bought the amazing vodka.

Overall this was a forever memorable day not only because I got to spend it with my family but by the time we left Dry Diggings they also felt like family. Anyone that doesn’t kick us out for crude jokes, asking for a coke with whiskey, likes camping, and puts up with us becomes family. An event you will surely not forget is spirit and whiskey tasting at Dry Diggings Distillery! Check them out and tell em I sent ya! The whole group is going back in October for the official tour so stay tuned! Also stay tuned as one day we’ll get grandpa and Mikey to go wine tasting!

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Wine @ 815

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There are three things I am exceptionally good at in life: cooking, writing, and wine tasting. The struggle with wine tasting (and I use struggle lightly because we all know I still get in my car and go) is that the nearest wine country is about 45 minutes from where I live. Amador County is where I go to giveaway all my money to grapes less fortunate than myself. Napa is about an hour and a half away, and so realistically reaching wine country is not too bad, but then Wine @ 815 moved in 5 minutes from my house. Girl, we are in trouble. Rayann and I did not walk we ran to see what this was all about.

From all stand points Wine @ 815 is genius.

Genius #1 – it is actual wine tasting in Historic Folsom. $5 per flight (5-6 tastings) which is extremely reasonable and tasting fees are waived if a bottle is purchased.

Genius #2 – Marketing. Wine @ 815 consists of 3 wineries: Rempfer Cellars, Fiddletown Cellars, Los Portales. Cross promotion makes me swoon, and these guys are doing it right. All 3 are local as well.

Genius #3 Atmosphere. I really just want to take my laptop and setup shop there while sipping on wine all afternoon, and I might actually get something done(probably not cause I totally love Lia the Tasting Manager). The shop is small but they have kept the floor plan open so the feeling of being in a tiny space never sets in. Dimmed lighting is key, because everyone looks better in dimmed lighting, right?

Genius #4 Make your own cheese board. Okay, so I almost never order cheese boards, because they always consist of cheese I can’t pronounce and I don’t want to look like a fool AND there are more creepy cheeses than anything else. 815 has changed the game, though. They have a tiny fridge filled with a wide variety of cheeses, pickles, olives, crackers, and snacks. You pick what you would like, pay for those items only, and grab a cheeseboard to eat off of. Unique and fun.

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Genius #5 Experience. I am not going to give too much away here, because wine tasting is really something that absolutely has to be experienced in person. I will tell you that I would have been more than happy to stay at 815 all day and chat with Lia. The education provided while tasting is the perfect blend as all highlights about each bottle, awards, and regions are discussed, but not so in depth that you need a full glass of wine just to be able to listen about the next. Having only 3 wineries provides a more in depth discussion for each pour, and each back story is extremely unique. Lia is fun, smart, and you can really tell she has passion for what she does.

The Wine. Have ya’ll just been waiting for me to talk about the wine? Shut up, Krystal and talk about wine. Okay, here is the main thing. Just go there. Seriously. I will tell you the most shocking reason you should take all your friends and go. Wine @ 815 is red. Red. Red. Red, and some more red. They did not have Los Portales in when I visited so I was only able to taste Fiddletown and Rempfer which are both red. Let’s be honest California is red. Krystal (me) is a white girl living in a red state, and I loved every.single.pour, AND bought with REAL money Rempfer Cellars Petite Sirah and my life was forever changed. I have been to Amador more times than I can count and I have NEVER brought home a red. I thought I would be the girl that loves bubbles and German wines forever, but I am very excited to say that my favorites are now changing thanks to 815. I will put the tasting flights below. I am not going to repeat the fun facts about either the wineries themselves or each wine because it is such an amazing experience to hear Lia tell you for yourself. I will be back. I might live there. I may have them on speed dial. Follow them on Facebook!

 

 

Party with me in Limbo 

“Where Did You Go?”

Day 1

I stopped apologizing for my absences a few years ago. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but not in my case. Neglect makes me resentful. Absence makes me bitter. Yet, I find it fairly easy to drown inside this heart of mine and find even the task of breathing to be an inconvenience. Where have I been? Right here. Where have I gone? Nowhere.  I call this place Limbo. I call this place grief and you are welcome to take a look inside.

Sometimes it seems fitting to start a sentence saying “often times with chronic illness” but fuck that. My tragedies and my struggles are not my identity. When I bury myself in this place of in-between it’s because I’m experiencing disconnect, and not because I am a sick girl crying for your sympathy. Do not ever associate me with her.  I was made to be her my entire childhood and my main sense of pride as an adult is that I am me not my disease.

 I experienced identify theft at the age of nine and often I find myself mourning for a life I never experienced. I grieve for a child that never got to live. Occasionally my heart aches for a life completely different than this while my brain slaps me upside the head saying “silly girl, move on”. It’s hard to run when your feet won’t move. It’s hard to fly when you do not trust your own wings. I have created this imaginary ledge to keep me in my place.

 “Don’t walk too far, don’t dream too big, don’t wear yourself out, and don’t do too much, Krystal”. My entire life in one sentence: “Don’t (fill in the blank) too long, Krystal”. You’re a fragile China doll. You will fall. You will shatter. Shatter to pieces. They can put you back together, but you will never be the same, because once your skin tears it doesn’t fit back together the way it should. Bruises go all the way to the bone. You will no longer be smooth, soft, delicate or porcelain. You’ll be harsh, ragged, and dark. You’ll just be the broken China Doll someone sells at a yard sale for 50 cents, but really you’re worth only 10. So, remember – not too much, not too long, Krystal. My limbo is a place where every hope, goal, and dream of mine comes to be erased. It’s where I go when the logical part of me takes over. It’s where I go when the sick girl wins. It’s where I have buried her.

 I am writing, again. Here it is. Raw and unedited. You ask where I have been and it is just right here in the in-between. My brain wants logic, order, organization, and for me to make a damn story board for once in my life so my writing falls into place. My heart just wants the words to come out.  I have this chronic urge that pulses in my chest 24 hours a day to write. Write something, Krystal. Anything. The feeling of needing to remove something from your body so badly you can’t even think straight until you do. I felt that way about my portacath. If that thing was not going to come out of my body I was going to rip it out myself, and had thoughts (or delusions) of actually doing it! Imagine wanting a cookie so bad you’d slice your own arm off in exchange for one, and you make the deal with the devil only to find the cookie jar is empty. I’ve made the deal. It is still empty in here. I’m writing for some kind of relief.  

 Give me something to write about. If there was ever a time to learn about me it is now. I’m starting something new. Or, I can just write nonsense like I did above. I’m a writer with a blank page and you’re a reader. What do I write? What do I say to you? The world is a blank page for me just as much as it is for you. Let’s start over. Im leaving Limbo. Not at a fast pace but nonetheless, I am walking towards the exit.

Why I can’t Eat the way You do

I have been wanting to write a post like this for quite some time, and yet lacked the motivation or inspiration until now.

I am more often than not critiqued on the way I eat and even more so the grocery stores I shop at and the money I spend on food. Now, before we continue please read that one more time and really focus on the last word. Food. Food is the essence of life. We live off of food and food alone. We either slowly die from the food we are consuming most or we thrive. Those are truly the only two options. Food is important to me for many different reasons and I am hoping to explain them in way you can understand in this post. I will not blab about organic, GMO, or all the other new hippy words on the market. I am simply going to explain why the quality of the food I feed myself and my family is fundamentally important to me and in so hope to gain some understanding.

#1 Food Fuels My Body
I have an autoimmune disease. If you are new to this blog I have Dermatomyositis to be more specific. You can Google that on your own time, and I wish you luck….no one suffers from it so no one cares. You will not find charities, ribbons, t-shirts or research.
I have to take care of my body. Shocker, right? The funny thing is, though: so do you. You may not be sick, diseased or disabled such as myself, but for me it would be an even better reason to take care of my healthy body. Okay, back to me. Food makes or breaks me. I have been so in tune with my body this year. I can tell you what I need to eat to feel better, I can tell you the exact time I need to go to the bathroom (accomplishment when you’ve taken medication since the age of 9),and I can tell you what I ate that sent me into a spiral of misery. I know my body.

When you suffer from a disease you are forced to become more in tune with your body. When you live in pain you become much more aware of “triggers” because baby Jesus knows you don’t need more. I eat Taco Bell, I eat fried foods, I live on butter, and I am by no means the idol of perfect health. Yet, everything I eat I know exactly what I am in for. Kyle and I had Smash Burger yesterday for lunch. My order: fried chicken sandwich, sweet potato fries, and fried pickles. Yes, girl I can eat. Do you know what the rest of my day looked like? Me rolling around on the floor in agony while my dogs trampled me thinking my entire existence was nothing but a joke. I did nothing the rest of the day. I eat bad. I just know the consequences. Want to know what I ate today? Some dandelion root tea, a vegan protein shake, some chicken sausage, and a banana protein muffin. It is 2:30pm and I am overflowing with energy. I made breakfast burritos for the week, those muffins, marinating chicken for another post, and this isn’t the first post I’ve written today….its the 3rd. If I was physically able to I’d run a couple miles. I feel amazing today, and I have lived too much of my life miserable or in pain to sabotage myself too often. My body suffers when I treat it like crap. My hair is starting to grow back after 15 years. My hair.  This may be due to me no longer being on medications, but I have not taken a chemo based drug in over 10 years….if my hair was going to grow back simply by being off of that it would have happened a while ago. Derma (skin) my skin is better. My joints only ache when I overdose on unhealthy foods (totally worth it from time to time). I have never had a sweet tooth, and I truly think it was my body’s way of protecting me when I was initially diagnosed and still to this day….sugar lights my body on FIRE. I am telling you that I am not healed but I am better. I am better because I eat like I give a damn.

#2 Knowing WHERE my Food comes from is Important
Some foods are much better organic, but I am always more interested in WHERE my food comes from. Why? Because, local is better. Less travel time means food is at its freshest. Less travel time means less chance of contamination or losing quality. Believe it or not I only buy certain foods organic, and the list is very small. I prefer to shop local. I prefer to shop quality. Food is going into your body for one reason: to provide your body energy. Food tastes great but our bodies do not care how food tastes our bodies care about how they can use it to heal us or keep us healthy. I buy Kerrygold butter because it is grass fed (do your own research, ever wonder how I weigh 90lbs but eat butter with ultimately every meal? Grass fed…..breaks down in your body completely differently….your body can use it), I buy meat from our local butcher because the meat comes from a farm less than 100 miles away, I buy local cage free eggs — way more important than organic eggs. Now, buying local comes at a price simply because farmers or local businesses cannot beat out large store prices. Take that or leave it. I find quality and peace of mind in buying ingredients local so I know exactly what I am getting, and you are helping along someone’s dream.

#3 Food is my hobby
Hello? I write a food blog. I love eating. I love cooking and I place importance on those two things. Local and better quality food tastes better which results in a better end product for me to publish. Kyle and I go out to eat maybe twice a month. We do not live a lavish life and so many things that we save on is what allows us to have a larger grocery budget than most. People spend their money on things and items that are important to them. My health and food go together, so how is me spending more money, time, and energy on food any different than someone spending their hard earned money a brand new TV? It’s not. I have priorities different than someone else. Welcome, to life. You can bet anything in the world that I will buy a $5 bottle of almond milk, but you can also bet that you won’t see me at a bar downtown every Saturday night buying drinks or buying name brand socks….Target brand that shit.

I hope this opens the eyes of one person. I know long posts tend to be my least popular, but it was something I felt. I write what I feel. Your food is fuel. Your food is medicine. Your food is your life.

 

 

Co-pays Paid with Time

It is a funny thing what just a few short days can do for your well being. 60 days ago I was a wreck. Emotionally and physically. Life just took hold of me and decided to throw me around a little bit. I say a little bit, because I’ve been through worse, but the difference between this experience and ones in the past is that I learned a few things during this particular ride. In the past I went along with the nightmare, got out of bed, stumbled in pain, went to appointments, took my meds, and eventually got myself physically back on track. I was numb emotionally, though. I wouldn’t try to break things into little pieces and exam them, I never allowed myself to be upset with my circumstances because that just felt selfish and needy. I know now that being selfish and needy is perfectly fine on occasion.

I know my life had shifted when I went to my 6 month appointment with my Rheumatologist yesterday. I see the best Rheumatologist on the West Coast. People travel from all over to see him, different cities, towns, and even states. I have been under his care for over 10 years now and he is the first doctor that truly lets me decide my own fate. He is very well aware that I am addicted to steroids, and is constantly reminding me of their adverse effects when I need to up them. I am in control of my meds, and he is really just there to supervise and advise. During my allergic reaction nightmare an ER doctor increased my daily 5mg of Prednisone to 40mg, and as I stated in that article….I was in Heaven. My body works on steroids. I can move like a normal human being, I can outlast the best of people without the need for caffeine pumping through my system 24 hours a day. Prednisone slowly kills me though, my vision goes blurry, I get the face of a puffer fish, and I just know internally my insides are decaying. So, I am back down to my maintenance dose of 5mg back to aches and pains everyday. There is this fun balancing act with autoimmune, and the rules are always changing and the outcome is never the same. It really isn’t a balance at all, but rather roulette.You either win or you lose. I often win, but when I lose I lose it all.

Seeing the best has its dues and not just in the form of co-pays, but in payment of time. When I was a girl and reliant on my parents to bring me to my appointments we always had to pay an additional amount in time. Hours. I remember sitting in the outdated waiting room agitated and just wanting to go home. I would run out of magazines to read and the TV only played PBS (still does). My mother would be irate for having to wait so long, and my father remained calm until we left and then it was a continuous rant all the way home about how an office could be managed in such an unprofessional manner, etc. Everyone in the car ride home including myself seemed to have amnesia about my actual visit with the doctor. I got all the time I needed, all questions were answered, all aspects of my disease were explained to my parents (for the 10th time), but most of all we were never rushed by the doctor himself. It is in our nature for the good to immediately dissolve the minute any negative is associated with it. We did that, time and time again.

I sat in that outdated waiting room for probably the 50th time in my life on Saturday. I watched a show about a British vet, I don’t sit in the 50 year old chairs because the cushions have worn down and I can’t seem to ever get out of them. I read the walls cluttered with pictures of charity events my doctor has contributed to, and for a slight second I thought to myself “I am going to be here forever today and be bored out of my mind”. You see, in my adult years I have learned to take the earliest appointment on Saturday(says something about a doctor that works Saturdays) usually 6am, and then I am the first patient and I don’t have to wait. I see him for roughly 30 minutes, leave with my prescriptions and do not return for another 6 months, but this Saturday all that was available was 7:30 meaning my doctor would already be at least an hour behind. As the thought of my own boredom creeped into my mind I became angry with myself. Angry because 60 days ago I was the patient needing the hour long appointment when I was only scheduled for 20. I did sit in that office filled with anxiety and fear about a disease and medication I had been dealing with for years that suddenly seemed to change its attack method. I had all the time in the world with the man whose care I have been under for 10 years. I was not rushed, I wasn’t even sick, and I was not made to feel guilty for eating into 3 other people’s appointments. So, Saturday I waited an hour over my scheduled appointment time to see my doctor for 20 minutes. I am no longer the sickest person in the room. In fact I usually am the freak show of the waiting room, I am under 100 years old, I don’t look sick, and so to everyone else in the room me seeing a Rheumatologist is just absurd.I sit in a room filled with bitter old folks who bitch about their appointment not being on time and I just want to scream at them, because once they get back there they always take up an hour of the doctor’s time. We get to choose the way we react about the situations we are put in. I typically check in, ask how far behind the doctor is, and then offer to get Starbucks for the receptionist and I don’t come back until she calls. It really is that simple.

As I have grown older I now know that nothing comes without asking for it first. I do not feel I am more fortunate than most when it comes to my general doctor and my specialist, I feel I have an amazing relationship with both because I opened my mouth and asked for it. Doctors and surgeons do not have time to hold anyone’s hand….especially those that are not truly ready to be well. I used to go to my quarterly appointment with my specialist, answer the questions, get my meds, and leave – 20 minutes max for a 2 hour wait time. In my most recent years those I speak my mind. I ask for the things I want, I challenge his opinions for him to give me a better answer, and I 100% am honest with the outcome I hope to accomplish. I know a lot of people with chronic illness that walk around this life filled with complaints. Complaints about their health, their doctors, and their meds. All situations are different of course, but I can guarantee 90% of these people are just not asking for what they really want, and not giving up until they receive it. You aren’t always going to have the best doctor, hell I won’t in a few years, my Rheumatologist is somewhere near 100 years old, and I’ll never find someone like him again but I can damn well make sure the next one hears me just as clearly as this one. I have found a voice. When you have a chronic illness having a voice is the most important aspect. No one hears you when you are silent. No one hears you when you have already given up the fight.

I wrote this mainly because I enjoy that I have become more self aware. More aware that not all situations deserve a reaction, and that our reactions are 100% reliant on us alone. The last few months I have been surrounding myself with much more positively from the outlook I have to the friends I keep. No matter how much pain, defeats, or obstacles life gives you the reaction you give life back is 100% the way life will continue to treat you.