Happy Women’s Day from South Africa.

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On the August 9th, 1956, over 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to protest the ‘Pass Laws‘ during the Apartheid era. The women stood there in absolute silence for 30 minutes and then started singing the protest song, Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.)

An adaptation of this phrase…

“You strike a woman, you strike a rock”

…has since come to represent a South African woman’s strength and courage.

National Women’s day has been celebrated every year on August 9th, since 2004.

It was then even more special that I had the privilege of photographing Deolandre: a strong, confidant young lady, on the eve of National Women’s Day as she prepared for her Matric Farewell.

(For our international readers, a Matric Farewell is South Africa’s version of an American Senior Prom.)

It marks the end of her high school career, the ceremonial coming age, the growth of an independent woman, the flourishing of hopes and dreams, the world in the palm of her hands. In South Africa it is a gift longed for by many, yet awarded to only a few. The moment I was tasked with, to freeze in frames for a lifetime. A blessing and a privilege indeed.

Camera: Nikon D4S

Lens: 50mm

Location: Clients home, Centurion

Time: 3 – 4:45pm

Lighting Conditions: A few indoor photos with good natural light, althogh most of the photos were taken outdoors with good natural light but before sunset. No flash.

Kids in tow, but I’m super thankful for the client’s little brother who did a superb job of keeping my 3 minions entertained and out of harms way.

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It’s a delight for me to be able to share a few of these photos with you. To celebrate this strong, confident woman and shine a light on many like her who are going through life changing moments. As women we need to lift each other up. We need to be each other’s biggest fans. We need to appreciate our differences, while at the same time enjoying our similarities.

This is one of the greatest parts of the friendship I share with Katie. She is always the first one to offer advice, guidance, and a prayer. She encouraged me even though we were in the same industry, she never once saw a competitor, she saw a friend and ultimately – a partner.

So, if you have a woman on your heart who has played a significant role in shaping the person you are today. Give them a call, give them your words, give them your love. It goes a long way.

Happy Women’s Day, wherever you are.

la

Virginia is for Craft Beer Lovers

In honor of Virginia Craft Beer Month, I thought it would be fitting to share some of the amazing craft breweries we have visited. We have yet to make it to every region of Virginia, but we will one of these days! This is a booming industry with lots of talented brewers and a culture all it’s own. At the heart of It’s a Colo{u}rful world and DGRCP is community over competition and that this what I love most about the craft brew culture. There are so many fantastic stories of established breweries helping up-and-coming brewers. There is even a tradition of handing out stickers and having a spot for other breweries’ stickers, fostering a feeling of togetherness. That is the type of stuff I can get on board with and support! Here’s to all the amazing craft breweries in Virginia making some amazing beers to be enjoyed and experienced with family (kids and dogs welcome) and friends! Don’t forget to tag #ToastVA #VAcraftbeer #LoveVA when you visit.

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Northern Virginia (aka NoVA) – 

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Brew Republic Bierwerks – It was a real treat to meet head brewer and one of the owners of Brew Republic, Darcy. She is passionate about the process and shared her experience of moving from a homebrewer to a real brewery (and taptoom) as she prepared to open her own – see community! We really enjoyed tasters of their patriot ic beers paired with sliders and pretzels, yum! For a non-acoholic beverage they offer their own root beer on tap. Standout brew: Patriot 212 Helles Lager | 5.0% ABV |18.0 IBU Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans, & swag | #ToTheRepublic #ANationOfBeer 

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Capitol City Brewing Company – The first brew pub in DC post-prohibition has deep roots in the DC Metro area and is located in both the Capital and Shirlington, VA. It has also been a long standing favorite for our family. Plus, complimentary pretzels – need I say more? Standout brew: Award winning Amber Waves American-style Amber Ale | 5.6% ABV | 31 IBUs | Take aways: Growlers & swag #CapCity 

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Fair Winds Brewing Company – Voted DC’s Best Local Brewery for the second year in a row. The taproom is intentionally airy and light with a stack of board games, in house snacks, and food trucks outside, all inviting you to come taste and stay awhile. The designer in me just has to say I really dig that their nautical branding is consistently carried from their logo to the names of their brews. Standout brew: Howling Gale IPA West-Coast style IPA | 7.2% ABV | 80 IBUs | Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & swag 

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Forge Breworks – This no-nonsense brewery is perfectly located in an industrial park, where they forge both Belgian Ales and German Lagers that pack a punch, some coming in as high as 11.5%. There is something for every adventurous beer drinker. Standout brewBrown Dwarf Star Quadruppel | 11.5% ABV | and The Empress Imperial Pilsner | 9.2% ABV Take aways: Growlers  & swag 

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Heritage Brewing Company – We have visited both the brewery and taproom in Manassas and their new brew pub in Arlington, and both sites perfectly house these flavorful, revolutionary-themed ales. I truly appreciate their attention to detail in the decor and food choices, as well as their beer – seriously all of their flagship brews are great. They also serve and sell Veritas Cold Brew coffee at the brew pub for those need a caffeinated pick me up. Standout brew: American Expedition Honey Ginger Wheat Ale | 4.5% ABV | 15 IBUs and  Double Taxation Imperial Indian Pale Ale | 9.0% ABV Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans (of both beer and coffee),  & swag #heritagebrewing

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Old Bust Head Brewing Company  The first time we visited OBH we became fans of this brewery’s mission, crafting inventive and flavorful beers while nodding to their Fauquier County roots. They are so creative, using a myriad of ingredients including a variety of fruits and vegetables, even chilis!  It is even a treat for the underage crowd with their delicious root beer floats. Standout brew: The Graffiti House West Coast-style IPA | 7.5% ABV | 75 IBUs and Watermelon Bright Prospect mixed with Margarita Gose  – a creative sour concoction! Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans, & swag #oldbustheadbrewingcompany #oldbusthead

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Port City Brewing Company – This fantastic brewery won Small Brewing Company of the Year in 2015 and is one of my personal favorites. I just love their motto “We put the ‘ale” in Alexandria!” They definitely deliver great award-wining year-round brews, as well as tasty seasonal ales, including Tidings one of my favorite Christmas beers. Standout brew: Optimal Wit Belgian-style White Ale | 4.9% | 15 IBUs and Colossal Five English-style Old Ale | 9.8% ABV | 55 IBUs  Take aways: Kegs, growlers, bottles,  & swag #PCBC

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Water’s End Brewery Aptly named because indeed at some point “water ends and the beer begins.” A laid-back and easy-going atmosphere with a separate play area for children including toys, games, and coloring books (THANK YOU!). Outside food is welcome and the Paisano’s pizzeria across the way seems to be a regular guest at the brewery and they don’t charge a delivery fee. They even have a Beer Club that we would definitely be members of if we lived close by, it truly is a neighborhood brewery! Standout brew: Hop Drop Double IPA and Damn Beer Golden Ale|5.0% ABV Take aways: Growlers  & swag #webrew


Central Virginia – 

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Wild Wolf Brewing Company – A true family brewery led by a mother-son team, Wild Wolf wowed us with their tasty brews and their “farm-fork” and sustainable story. Their site is close to the Shenandoah mountains and surrounded by beautiful landscapes making it a truly picturesque place to sit and sip awhile. Standout brewBlonde Hunny Unfiltered Belgian style Blonde Ale | 6.8% ABV | 21 IBUs Take aways: Kegs, growlers, cans,  & swag #wildwolf #wildwolfbrewingcompany


Hampton Roads (Coastal Region aka the 757) – 

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Alewerks Brewing Company – The oldest brewery in Williamsburg with a great history of creating crowd pleasing ales. They also brew exclusive beers based on historic recipes in collaboration with Colonial Williamsburg. They have a large range of brews from classic IPAs to the more extreme barrel aged ales. Standout brew: Jubilee X Belgian Strong Dark Ale | 12% ABV  Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag #Alewerks

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Brass Cannon Brewing Company – The atmosphere is carefree with its yellow and green paint job, shelves of board games, and chalkboard wall. Brass Cannon invites patrons to join in their challenges and draw on the wall. The beers were surprising and full of flavor. Standout brew: Angry Scot Scottish-style Wee Heavy Ale | 7.8% ABV  Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag 

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Commonwealth Brewing Company – Ever since we first walked into this refurbished firehouse, this brewery has been one of our favorites. The beach vibes definitely lend to a laid back atmosphere with outdoor games, board games, and inventive Belgian inspired brews.  Being walking distance to the Bay certainly doesn’t hurt! Standout brew: Big Papi Double IPA | 8% ABV | 61 IBUs, Wapatoolie Tropical IPA | 6.4% | 90 IBUs, and Cheval Au Soleil Belgian Wit | 7.6% ABV | 17 IBU  Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & (FANTASTIC) swag 

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O’Connor Brewing Company  Just like their logo of the tree, this brewery’s roots go deep in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk brew scene collaborating, mentoring newer breweries, and hosting events. Their space is definitely conducive to hosting large events with a stage at the back and plenty of seating. They have a wide variety of ales, promising that there is something for everyone.  Standout brew: Discovery Scotch Ale | 9% ABV | 32 IBUs and Spyhop White IPA | 7% ABV | 65 IBUs Take aways: Growlers, bottles,  & swag #OBCBeer

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Smartmouth Brewing Company – One of the original breweries in the area and a fan favorite among our VA Beach family.  Their cheeky, in your face brand lends to the vibe around the tasting room where you can check out their craft on tap, in a can, or through the windows. Outdoor games are a big draw and a fun way to pass the time with friends (and kids!). Standout brew: Murphy’s Law Amber Ale | 5.8% ABV | 35 IBUs Take aways: Growlers, cans,  & swag 

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Virginia Beer Company – Two College of William & Mary grads opened the brewery a little over a year ago and have enjoyed impressive success in a short time frame. They have a wide range of well refined beers and are truly taking a foothold in Williamsburg. We are excited for them and look forward to our next visit. Go Tribe! Standout brew: Wrenish Rye Amber Ale | 6% ABV | 39 IBUs and try a bottle of Barrel Fermentation Saison. Take aways: Growlers, bottles, cans,  & swag #VirginiaBeerCo


Check out Virginia Tourism’s list of Breweries here to discover all the other great local breweries we cannot wait to visit! Please let us know what you think when you visit these, we hope you enjoy yourself!

Cheers!

kdg

 

Home is where {a piece} of your heart is

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“I have so many feelings!” This is my exclamation when my beloved husband asks what’s up? I am a jumbled up, hot mess of feelings these days. We are heading back to Tel Aviv soon and I’m excited for this next year and the adventures awaiting us there and of course getting to see our pup – every dog makes us miss her. That said, my heart is breaking just a little, all over again.

They say “home is where your heart is.” If that is true, my heart has been left in pieces around the world in the hands of our family and treasured friends, with most of those pieces in Virginia. Oh, the bittersweet life of an expat!

I’m typing as we weave our way around the the streets of our old neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia pointing out favorite spots to the boys and my nose is tingling. It was a good life we lived here. Our boys were born here. As you can imagine, there are so many memories flooding back. We truly loved living off the beautiful George Washington Parkway, all the colonial brick buildings and streets of Old Town, and the small town feel right outside the metropolis of our Nation’s capitol. Oh the feelings!

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Although Alexandria was a literal home for us and holds our little family’s history, there are pieces of our heart scattered across the state.

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Warrenton, VA is where our love story began and where I tearfully moved for my senior year of High School from Kansas. It’s where I started Young Life and grew so much of my faith. It is a quaint little town that is simply booming! From old town and Main St. hosting shops and restaurants to the bustling businesses and amenities we didn’t have 15 years ago. Driving west on Route 66 to Warrenton may be a nightmare some days, but once we arrive it has so many good memories for us. Not to mention, it is on the way to the mountains.

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Visiting the Shenandoah Valley is like a family tradition. It is where I experienced my very first hike and camp adventure. There is a lot to appreciate up there including the glorious views, walking and hiking trails, well kept campsites, flora and fauna, local shops and restaurants, and the knowledgable rangers, staff, and volunteers – a couple of which we call family. I highly recommend Fall up there it is simply awe-inspiring to see all the warm tones!

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Fredericksburg, VA was my home for 4 years while I attended the University of Mary Washington. Those were great years full of laughs, learning, and growing up. Another growing town with new things every time we visit. The old town streets are charming with shops and restaurants, including one of our post college favorites, the Capitol Ale house. The college itself expanded in the decade since I graduated with new buildings and a pedestrian bridge across Route 1, and new amenities. Go Eagles!

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Williamsburg, VA holds a big chunk of our hearts from our college years. The College of William Mary, Colonial Williamsburg, Bush Gardens, and Water Country USA, are all attractions that keep us coming back annually. Williamsburg is a part of the Colonial Triangle, along with Jamestown and Yorktown and we definitely recommend checking them out and diving into all that history. In Colonial Williamsburg (CW) we visit the Cheese Shop for Virginia ham sandwiches with their special house dressing, stroll around the historic streets, and visit the W&M bookstore. Go Tribe!

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South of the Colonial Triangle is Virginia Beach and some of our favorite beach bums. From the Bay to the boardwalk there is a ton to do! We particularly enjoy playing on the shore and going mini golfing with our family and friends. Meeting at Chick’s Oyster Bar for a meal is also one of our family traditions. This is one stop on our usual tour we sadly didn’t get to make this year.

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A couple of years ago my parents moved to Woodbridge, VA near Occoquan and although I didn’t grow up in their new house, it is where one of the biggest chunks of my heart lives, which is why it feels like home just being there with my family. We spend our days relaxing and spending time on the Potomac River. It is glorious!

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Out near the mountains between Fredericksburg and the Charlottesville is Orange County, VA. This picturesque county is full of small towns and history. For us it is where our boys experience farm life – running in fields, feeding a horse, working in the garden, climbing trees, getting dirty, and a cookie jar filled with Grandma’s cookies.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of places to visit in Virginia, there are so many other towns and cities in Virginia that make the state a great place to live, explore, and adventure. There are wine and ale trails, fantastic eateries, arts and crafts, music, museums, and outdoor activities; all covered in warm hospitality with rich history. I highly recommend visiting or touring the state for lovers of all the above! For more information or help planning your trip check out the tourism site. #LoveVA

I am so thankful to call Virginia home and for all the people who loving keep the pieces of my heart here with them – I miss you all dearly!

Do you have pieces of your heart scattered around the world? How do you cope with leaving home? Travel safely everyone and cherish each moment in each place you call home.

from Virginia with love,

kdg

CrossFit with a view

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This past weekend we had the opportunity to experience CrossFit culture in all its glory. We ventured to the little town of Clarens for the Clarens Winter Games. And what a gorgeous setting it was.

We have close ties to the CrossFit Tiger Valley Box here in Pretoria and it was amazing to not only watch the members compete, but also passionately cheer each other on. As Katie noted in her post Strength and Beauty, it’s not just a physical strength that is at work, it’s very much a mental strength too.

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It was hugely inspiring to watch individuals who have trained up to 2 hours a day performing with machine like abilities, and it was equally inspiring to watch the beginners in their first ever competitions leaving all of themselves on the open fields.

Well done to all those who took part.

My biggest challenge of the weekend was trying to photograph the event while keeping an eye on 3 rather needy minions. The lens I favoured was the Nikon, 105mm prime. If I was able to bring my 80-200mm that would have been the ideal lens for this event, but the 105 was a pretty decent 2nd choice. My 80-200mm was simply too big to travel with on this trip.

We had the privilege of staying in self catering units at Kiara Lodge, which was about a 10 minute drive past Clarens itself. This family friendly accommodation is set between the Maluti Mountains and Golden Gate. Another true gem of the Free State. Being only a 3 hour, 30 minute drive from Johannesburg, it really is an ideal getaway for a long weekend, especially with little children who don’t sit well on long road trips.

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The kids had an absolute blast at the lodge. They were in kiddie heaven. Giant blow up floor bouncy pillow, large colourful wooden climbing frames, large hanging tree swings, miniature golf, trampolines, and the highlight of the weekend – bunnies everywhere.

Note: If you do make your way there, please take lots of carrots for hungry bunnies, they are very friendly and this little activity keeps the kids busy for hours.

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I have come away from the weekend with a greater understanding of the CrossFit culture and a better appreciation for the depth of their passion. I come from a sporting family and have been involved with sports all my life, however I now manage an auto immune disease which limits my abilities and if it wasn’t for this, boy, I’d be right along with them.

If you have ever been tempted to give CrossFit a try, go for it! It will change your life for the better – this I am sure of!

Cheers from SA,

la

 

 

A Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Pilgrimage

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A Dogfish Head ale flight was one of our first tastes of craft beer. We were hooked. For about a decade our crew of friends would meet us at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Falls Church and Fairfax for dinners and a much needed catch ups. While each of us has our own favorites styles, DFH is famous for using weird ingredients in their recipes so we almost always started with a taster flight. My favs include the Namaste White, Rasion D’Etre, and the Punkin Ale.

“At every turn, our restless desire to create what hasn’t yet been imagined keeps us bringing new stories, new tastes, and new experiences to you.” – via Dogfish Head website

Sam Calagione, the owner and founder of DFH, started his homebrew journey with a cherry ale, a rather ambitious recipe for a first timer, back in the mid-1990’s. The brew got rave reviews from his friends and coworkers and he decided that rather than following his English major path he was going to be a craft brewer. He won a homebrew competition later for his Punkin’ ale and has been winning awards and aweing brew enthusiasts ever since. Sam even  hosted a television show called Brew Masters were he traveled the world with his genius brew team to discover new (and old) brewing techniques, recipes, and inspiration for new beers. It was really fascinating for us as homebrewers as we were able to watch, learn, and get to know DFH. Talk about brand loyalty, ha! You can read more about their story here.

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For years, our closet friends Melissa, Joy, and Kyle, have walked this craft brew journey with us. Kyle and Tom have become quite the brew snob bros. The five of us have been talking about taking the trip from Northern Virginia up to Rehoboth, Delaware to the original brewpub. This summer we finally made it happen. Our “pilgrimage,” as we are referring to it, included a tour at the brewing facility, happy hour at Chesapeake & Maine, dinner at the newly constructed brewpub, and finally a stop at the original brewpub where it all started to shop.

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At the DFH brewery we partook in our 4 free tasters as we waited for our tour of the facility; also free. The team behind the bar was friendly and willing to chat about their favorites as we tried some of the exclusive offerings and newest brews. We sipped the decidedly sour cider first, followed by the SeaQuench session sour, which was like a margarita in a can, then Flesh & Blood IPA (not as citrusy as I imagined it would be), and the Fort.  Others in the group also tried a barrel-aged version of DFH’s Olde School Barley Wine and a cask version of their English Strong Ale. All were unique and complex in their own right.

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When our fabulous tour guide Marge (pictured above) called us to attention we found our way to the cubbies of crocs and safety glasses. We did not anticipate the need for closed toes shoes (it is summer at the beach after all), so we found the thoughtfully provided crocs that fit to protect us from the various puddles and spills we may encounter along the way. Armed with corny, but funny brew puns and anecdotes, Marge took us through the beginning of DFH and showed us where the magic is made. We learned that Sam and his team were the first to incorporate continuous hopping into their brews, having been inspired by a cooking show. Also, most of the pieces of equipment have been named by Sam, including their very own continuous hopper, Sir Hops-a-Lot – “he likes big hops and he cannot lie.”

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To an English major, names and symbolism are important and Sam takes the naming process very seriously. Marge relayed that the DFH team does help with the creative process as bit, as well. In addition, their mission statement  is rooted in a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, which is where they derived their slogan “off-centered ales for off-centered people” and it is painted on the facilities wall to remind the team what is truly the heart of their work.

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Once we left the brewing area of the facility my crew wanted to go drink all that delicious well made beer at the bar, however I had to see the packaging and shipping department so I continued the tour alone. The designer in me had to know more! What I learned was that the font DFH uses was originally a stamp set that Sam used to label his brews and has since then been converted to an actual font called “doggie font.” They have an in-house graphic design department that creates the labels and packaging, however they have used illustrations by artists they admire to create the label art. Pretty cool!

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Marge also shared that that the original homebrew bottling process took Sam and his buddies about 8-10 hours to bottle 100 cases. Now in 2-3 minutes their state of the art bottling line can bottle and package 7,200 cases. Mind blowing right?!

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Once the tour was over we made the trip south from Milton, DE to Rehoboth. The original brewpub, where until recently one could exclusively taste test small batches of experimental recipes and paired with a delicious and very intentional menu, now stands between two newly constructed restaurants.

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I love intentional and cohesive design, so as you can imagine it was not lost on me that the design of the restaurant buildings mimics the brewing facility in Milton, to include the circular windows reminiscent of bubbles and the wood and metal materials used. Read more about DFH brewing and eats here.

 “We’ve learned from working with Dogfish Head for the past nine years that the company has its own special culture and loyal fan base, so we set out to design a space to provide the background of the unique Dogfish experience,” says Chris McAdams, Project Designer at DIGSAU. “It’s a very raw, wooden, naturally finished space, built with a few special off-centered quirks, like the barrel booths and the nook by the bar – spaces where people can say ‘that’s my spot’.”  (found on the DFH website)

We thoroughly enjoyed our cocktails at Chesapeake & Maine, where they focus on the DFH liquors rather than the brews. You can also do tastings of the liquors at the brewing facility and learn more about the process there as well. We said cheers with a Bloody Mary, a couple of  Sun Salutations, and a Sea Shanty. All delicious and refreshing. I loved all the attention to detail in this nautical fantasy design, including the oyster chandeliers, sea monster map wallpaper, and the rope tying station to practice your skills while you wait.

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From Chesapeake&Maine we made our way to the new brewpub for some fantastic eats. Our favorite plate being the the soft pretzel bites. In our collective book, they are must at every brewpub – seriously pretzels and beer are made for each other!

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It was a fantastic day full of DFH geeking out, the only stop we did not make on this pilgrimage is the newly designed Inn. Which we will hopefully make it to sometime in the next decade, ha!

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We would love for you to share your DFH experiences with us in the comments below! What’s your favorite off-centered ale? Have you made it to Milton or Rehoboth? If not we totally recommend it!

Cheers,

kdg

Moolmanshoek – Free State

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This past weekend we had the absolute joy of visiting the beautiful Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Free State in South Africa.

It is a place where families and friends get together and appreciate mother nature at her finest. This magnificent reserve is nestled in the heart of the sand stone mountain area, and home to over 200 horses. The open bush veld is home to Springbuck, Antelope, Ostrich, Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Jackal, and many more of Africa’s beautiful creations.

The bed and breakfast retreat is beautiful and old. With all the original charm of the early 1900’s. It has not yet lost itself to modern amenities like wifi. While the rooms themselves have no cellular connection to boast or wifi availability, the main house does. So while you appreciate the pockets of isolation and being cut off from the rest of the world, calling home and checking emails really is just a little walk away, up to the main house.

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It’s at this main house that we were treated to a buffet breakfast every morning, beautiful farm home made soups for lunch with home made fresh bread, and a thoughtfully put together dinner in the evenings. They even went out of their way to accommodate my gluten-free child and my own vegan preferences.

My dad and his wife, Anne, are amongst the fittest people I know. Every morning they went out on their bikes with a few friends and rode through the bush for miles, getting right up close to the reserves wildlife. If they weren’t on a bike, they had running shoes on to see what nature to show them by foot. While they went about their physical explorations of the area, the kids and I went for a gorgeous 2.2 km trail walk, perfect for my 3.5 yr old. The kids loved it. They really felt as if they had the freedom to go exploring the bush on their own trail, yet I knew that it would not be too strenuous for them – it really wasn’t. They really LOVED it! This reserve really has something for everyone, for all ages and all physical fitness levels.

The highlight for the kids and I was the horse riding. On our last night there, we went for a magnificent 1 hour horse ride as the sun was setting. Not to mention the play gyms set up for the kids that litter the grounds with childhood charm.

Yes, Moolmanshoek has something for everyone; for me and the kids and for our family and friends. It gave us precious memories and for those few days we were there, everything seemed right with the world again.

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For more information about Moolmanshoek, click [here]

Cheers from SA,

la

Sensory Overload, and our first misty morning.

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There’s something about going home. Whether it’s just to your childhood house you grew up in or your home country you travel back to.

And then there’s something extra special about coming home to Africa.

The minute I step off the plane, it’s like breathing out. My shoulders get lighter and my troubles seem far away.

It’s winter here now and it’s spectacular. The temps are so wonderfully mild. Our middays are reaching 22’C (70’F), but the mornings bring with them that winter chill I still fondly remember.

What strikes me the most about my first few days here is always the sky. The air is so clean and fresh. Such contrast to the desert life. I posted about our famous dust storms in Kuwait a few weeks ago and how, for the summer seasons, it seems that we live in a sepia world. When I land in South Africa, all my senses come alive, as if every colour is showing off. Every landscape is standing proudly at attention. I hear every single bird chirping, I have no idea what birds they are, but oh boy do they serenade. I smell every flower in full fragrance, the rains on the horizon before they fall, and every earthy grain of sand. Textures are in abundance and the influence the land has over it’s people and local design is unmistakable.

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My children are filthy. I’m talking about scrub them in the tub and leaving a dirty ring in the bath kind of filthy. And I LOVE it! They are out the house and exploring their environments every single day and I couldn’t be happier about it.

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This past week we woke up to one beautiful misty morning. It was magical. My eldest ran outside to share in my joy and found her very first dew drop.

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Aside from the land and her people, being around all our family and friends again is so special. Listening to the cousins playing outside, the familiar belly laugh of my brother and the kind words of my dad. The sweet giggle of my new niece and the warm comforts and hugs from loved ones who truly know you.

Yes, going home is special. 

Love from Johannesburg,

la

 

Brew Adventures & Inspirations

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Almost seven years ago we started our homebrewing adventure. I surprised Tom with a Mr. Beer homebrewing kit and in our tiny blue kitchen he crafted his first brew. The first beer recipe came with the kit and, while it was easy to drink, it was fairly un-remarkable. Regardless, he was surprised by how simple the process was and was hooked. Not to mention, this was a hobby I could totally get on board with!

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As we began exploring this new world of beer, we discovered more and more craft beers. If you didn’t already know, craft beer is made at smaller breweries and not mass produced on large scales like those from corporate breweries. Often times their smaller scale lends to more inventive and complex beers, as well as better quality ingredients. In the interest of learning more, we started seeking out new craft brews and Tom started absorbing knowledge.

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While it took me a little longer to develop my palate, I loved every brew tasting and brewery tour along the way. It was on those adventures that I discovered my passion for photographing beer. I found myself inspired by the rainbow of natural colors that comes with a flight of tasting glasses arranged on a wood board. Much to my Tom’s chagrin, I found myself asking him to wait to taste until I had the perfect photo. Last summer I was humbled when the Virginia Tourism company contacted me to purchase one of my images and feature it in their #VAcraftbeer photo competition.

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Many brews and several years later, Tom is now brewing here in Israel in our bomb shelter. Yes, you read that right, we have our very own bomb shelter equipped with it’s own A/C unit making it the perfect place for fermenting. Using equipment he’s gathered via online purchases and at the occasional stop at a homebrew store, he has been exploring a myriad of beer styles. Among the recipes he has tried are: a Belgian wit ale, an Irish-inspired red ale with roasted chestnuts, a pumpkin ale, Belgian ale with honey and sage, and a barleywine – aptly named the “Bomb Shelter Barleywine” since it was fermenting (and then aging) down there for months.

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We’ve also had a blast exploring the nascent Israeli craft brew scene. A few of our favorites include: Alexander Brewery (4), Busters Beverage Co. (5)Dancing Camel Brewery (6), Galil Brewery (1), Jems Beer Factory(3), Libira Brewery (2), and Shapiro Beer (7).

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There is also this fantastic place called the Beer Bazaar, with several locations around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, they focus on distributing local brews, including their own, and have pubs with selections on tap. Not only are the beers delicious, but the people behind them are fun to hang out with!

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A about a month ago, another brave homebrewer gathered a few other homebrewers together to create an American expat “brewmaster” event.  With the help of our friend, Shayne (below top left), they invited the guys behind the Beer Bazaar, Shapiro, and Busters Beverage Co. to spend the day with us at this beer tasting event and homebrew “competition”. The professional brewer took the time to taste and rate each of the homebrews. After their thoughtful deliberation, they shared their thoughts with the novices. Tom was awarded best aged beer for the Bomb Shelter Barleywine and he was humbled by the response and feedback he received from crowd, especially the pros. Like most of us creatives, he is often his harshest critic, so it was great to see how positive the reactions were to his craft.

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We don’t know where this homebrewing journey will take us one day when Tom retires, but I love the idea of opening a family brewery back in Virginia. Until then we will continue to learn and drink better beer. On that note, the next time we head home to Virginia for a little rest and relaxation, we will be touring a few breweries, new and old favorites. I will, of course, be documenting our brew tour and exploring the colors of the beer world, from the golden wheat to the ruby red ales to the dark brown stouts. Stay tuned here and follow along on Instagram and at my hashtag #dgbrewphotos.

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Share your favorite brewery and/or brew with us in the comments below, maybe you can introduce us to a new one!

Cheers,

kdg

My Africa, my home – for the next 2 months at least

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By now you know I am a South African girl living in the deserts of Kuwait, raising my children and supporting my husband to the best of my abilities. It’s not an easy journey by any means, but one that is well worth it. On Katie’s post An American Patriot Abroad, she put it beautifully when she said:

“Living the expat life may even strengthen one’s patriotism as we experience life away from all that we know and love.”

One of the joys about living abroad is the luxury of travel. Living here means we get 3 months of school summer holidays. With the temperatures reaching unbearably high, everyone who is able, escapes the country with kids in tow for the bulk of this period.

I have been travelling between countries for the past 11 years. All my children were born in Kuwait and have been travelling since they were at least 3 months old. That said, flying is not something that comes naturally for me, and for this reason I feel I have to over prepare in order to cope. This girls feet prefer to be planted firmly on the ground, but alas, my life story has been written a little differently to what I expected and I have been ever so blessed for it.

Last year we travelled to Portugal and this year we are going home to Johannesburg. We are simply so excited. We have a new little family member to meet, old ones to catch up with, friends to cherish, birthday’s to celebrate and a whole lot of new places to see and plenty of adventures to go on. I am even looking forward to the days where we don’t do anything at all. For the next two months I will be writing to you from a beautiful wintery South Africa.

In December, I made this journey alone with the 3 kids and we made it fine with no real drama to write about. Even so, with a very thankful heart my husband will be travelling with us and escorting us safely home this time.

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So to get to Johannesburg from Kuwait we will fly to Dubai (1.5 hours) and catch a connecting flight (8 hours) into Johannesburg (JHB). I choose day flights wherever possible which goes against what most of my friends do (including Katie). I generally, find that the travel is easier on my kids when they have a good nights sleep. We then travel all day and when we get home in JHB I put them straight to bed for another good nights sleep. This way we all wake up the next morning ready to start the day with no jet lag in sight. The challenge then becomes…

How do I cope with and entertain 3 small kids in the confined space of economy class all day long?

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Well, here are a few of my top travel tips when travelling with kids. We all know ever child/family is different, but these work for mine.

1 – Travel as light as possible.

2 – Each child over 4 (in my case 2 of them) carries their own little backpack. (As light as possible)

3 – My smallest (3.5 year old) and I share 1 backpack.

4 – My one on board luggage bag with wheels is strong enough to carry the weight of my smallest around the terminal. He loves to ride my bag at the airport and it saves me having to carry him or push an extra stroller as well. The girls are big enough to handle the airport walks and we simply walk at their pace, but my little guy is not. Especially if he has just woken up, or having one of his ‘moments,’ so riding the bag it is.

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5 – Kids should be comfortable. I’m talking sneakers and sweat pants when travelling long haul.

6 – Starve them of as much screen time as you can for the week before your journey, those little onboard movies will be a huge hit.

7 – Pack on board luggage carefully and intentionally. Remember, you’re trying to pack as light as possible. 

That leads me to some of my go to packing tips:

1 – Bring a ziplock bag full of a few of their favourite snacks. Yes, airlines have great options for kids foods now a days, but especially in the case of my one gluten intolerant child, the little comforts of familiar snacks go a long way. Of course, if I cater for the one, I HAVE to cater for the other two as well. I don’t need to be miles high with 2 tantrums and no where to hide. I traded the fancy lunch boxes for simple ziplock bags to help with the weight issue, I mean something that gets lighter while travelling can only be a good thing right?!

2 –  I pack a change of clothes, not just for each child, but for myself as well.

3 – Pack a small toy for each child.

4 –  I save yummy fruit gummy’s for landing, if any of them have fallen asleep and I need them to get excited about being awake, a little treat (which also helps with their ears and cabin pressure) is sure to do the trick.

5 – Wet wipes, massively important when going anywhere with kids.

6 – Lip balm, that recirculated cabin air can dry out your lips fast.

7 –  Empty packet (or baggie) or two, there’s nothing worse than little wrappers and pieces of tissue littering your seat for hours on end and those poor cabin crew members have more than one family to serve. I find a little empty packet very handy when you want to contain bits of rubbish here and there and it’s pretty easy to dispose of when you need to, keeping your area tidy.

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This is the first trip I will be trying out a little travel Play Doh kit from Sensory Play Kuwait. It’s small enough and light enough for the kids to carry, so let’s see what they think of it. I will keep you posted.

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In the spirit of being overly prepared I even mentally map out my morning-of routine and make sure that all luggage bags are packed up the night before. One of the key elements of  this strategic plan is meal times. The kids will have a bowl of plain yogurt, banana or oats before we leave the house. After we make our way through passport control we will head up to the lounges (or food court) for a  second breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages and fruit. Honestly, well-fed kids are happier than hungry ones.

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Having said all this, no flight home is ever the same, I am constantly learning and refining this travelling process. I will recap once we have landed and update you all on how things went and what I would do differently. For those of you who pray, please pray for safe travels for us!

I look forward to showing you my neck of the woods. Come along for the ride, it promises to be a colourful one! I’d also, love to hear from you what you think of my country and I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Cheers from the skies,

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UPDATE: Our flights went well, the kids were super stars, not much sleep onboard to report but I really can’t complain. It’s a traveling game changer when your kids have their own seats on the flight! (And that only happens when they’re over 2yrs old on most airlines) 


Our first morning here is a special one, my middle child turns 5 and we were greeted with a spectacular African sunrise. It’s cold, and it’s perfect. 

Ein Hod Artist Village

{Guest post by: Keturah Maraska}

Have you ever thought about running away to live amongst other artists? Well, if you ever do feel the urge I have the perfect location – Ein Hod. Last week I was lucky enough to join a group of ladies for a tour of this quaint little village and learn a bit more about the wonderful artistic culture here in Israel.

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This Israeli artist colony is nestled just south of Carmel Mountain National Park and has a great view to the Mediterranean Sea thus providing the perfect picturesque inspiration for new pieces of art. Artists first began to move here in 1953 when artist Marcel Janco invited some of his talented friends to join him in settling in a colony with like-minded individuals. The original group of villagers was part of the Dado movement arising post WWI. Though there were just a few initial residents of Ein Hod, the village has grown to approximately 150 artists and their families.

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What makes this village unique is that only artists are allowed to own homes and live in town. Artists are not permitted to deed their property to their descendants unless they too are artists who are living and working in the community. This policy maintains a creative culture inside Ein Hod, even leading to second and third generation artists living in the neighborhood.

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Artists in Ein Hod consist of photographers, potters, painters, jewelers, sculptors, those who work with textiles, and even musicians. During our tour we had the privilege to meet a few of the artists and experience short demonstrations of their craft. First, we encountered the Magal sisters. These twins are second-generation Ein Hod residents. They are potters who use glaze to paint their pottery before they fire it. They do not paint and then glaze, but use the glaze as the paint, which makes the process more complicated since the glaze melts and blends during the firing. This technique is laborious and tedious, but these women spoke of their work with a passion that filled the air. The final product is vibrant in color and often very detailed. My favorite pottery items are the sheep they painstakingly create by rolling and looping each piece of “wool” before glazing and firing the final product. As I admired their work it was clear the Magal sisters love what they do and are extremely proud of their craft.

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As second-generation artists, the Magal sisters first found themselves in Ein Hod due to their father’s love of painting. His original oil works are available for a hefty penny; however, the sisters produce silk screens of his work which are much more economical. The sisters are also quite proud of the work their father produced and will gladly discuss his inspiration – the Mediterranean Sea and elements of Jewish culture.

Another artist we met was the potter Tal Shahar who opened her Ein Hod workshop in 1985. Shahar shares her workshop with budding potters and serves as their mentor and guide. Her palette is more earth tone than the Magals though she does paint her creations at times. Cups, dishes, and vases that Tal produces in color are usually developed by using a pigment and underglaze. One more unique technique that Tal employs is the Japanese style of Raku – firing at a high heat, them removing and “smoking” the ceramic so that it darkens and cracks in spots. I have seen this technique before, but I did find Tal’s finished products rather beautiful. The most interesting were a white design made through useof the “naked” Raku process. (For more information on ceramic pigments and stains visit this site).

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Finally, our tour guide, Lea Ben-Arye, demonstrated her silkscreen technique for us on the steps just outside her store. Nestled under the trees in a corner, Ben-Arye’s shop is the perfect location of group lessons in silkscreen. She has her own technique that allows her to reuse her stencils and create unique designs. Her husband Dan Ben-Arye works beside her creating jewelry, wooden sculptures, etc. She said he likes to learn from the other artists in the colony and then develop his own technique. Their store is filled with many of their creations from scarves, necklaces, wooden benches, and Dan’s newest passion – photographs of the clouds of Ein Hod. The one item that really caught my eye was their necklace design of a pomegranate and Star of David in one – both very symbolic of Israeli culture and life.

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Should I ever decide to run away this would be high on my list of places to end up. Art is everywhere – from the garbage cans, to chairs, to roadblocks, etc. Sculptures are on just about every corner. You can’t help but have some pop of color catch your attention around each bend in the road. Traffic is almost non-existent so strolling through the streets and admiring all of the craftwork around you is not only possible, it is almost demanded. Oh, and don’t worry, there are great restaurants and a coffee shop or two to fill your stomach and please your eye with “art on the plate” in order to energize you for the next set of galleries and workshops on your list of “must-sees”.

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It doesn’t take much of an imagination to understand why people would be drawn to this location; it takes even less of an imagination to see why generation after generation would want to stay here; once here, though, your imagination is the only thing that can limit what lies ahead.

keturah

 

 

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Keturah is a Marine wife and mother to two high school boys, and an Elementary school teacher.  Their family is currently transitioning back to the United States of America after a year abroad in Israel. She loved living in Tel Aviv and will miss living on the Mediterranean Sea.

Katie featured her family’s photo session earlier this week and shared about their creative bond and friendship. We are so thankful to have Keturah as a part of our creative community and look forward to  having her share her adventures with us again.