Friday, February 23, 2018

Adult Game Night Favorites

...that aren't Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity.  Don't get me wrong, I love both of those, but everyone has them!  Mike and I are definite games people; we bring cribbage whenever we go to the bar together (yes, we're old people), and we love having neighbors over for game night to introduce them to new ones.  Having friends who love games as much as us is a definitely plus, and they've starting sharing some different ones with us, too.  Today, I've rounded up ten of our current favorites, a mixture of Mike's family's favorites and ones we've acquired after we played them with friends, to share with you!
one: Sequence - Technically, this game is played with playing cards, but it's not a traditional card game.  Each person receives 6 cards from a double deck, and each time it's your turn, you put one down, place a playing chip on that card's image on the board, and pick up a new card.  The only images not on the game board are jacks.  Play a one-eyed jack, and you can remove any one of your opponents' chips, or play a two-eyed jack, and place your chip on any available card image you want.  Depending on the number of people playing (you can play up to 2 or 3 players individually or up to 6 on teams), one or two sequences of 5 chips in a row wins.  They even make a cats version!

two: Mastermind - This one is only a two-player game, but it's still a great one.  The first player makes a sequence on the decoding board of 4 pieces and hides it from the second player behind the shield.  Then, the second player creates a guess on the other side of the board.  The first player lets the second player know if they have any correct by placing pegs next to the guess, indicating if any pieces are the right color but in the wrong spot (white peg), or the right color and in the right spot (red peg).  The second player continues to guess again and again, across the board, until he/she decodes the sequence or runs out of rows.

three: Takenoko - On New Year's Eve, we had the best game night at our next door neighbor's house.  They received this game for Christmas, and granted it took about a half hour to learn the rules, once you get it, it's a blast to play.  The premise is that the emperor of Japan was gifted a panda and the players (the emperor's court) are tasked with cultivating land plots, irrigating them, and growing 3 species of bamboo with the help of the imperial gardener.  The player who manages his land plots best, growing the most bamboo while feeding the the panda, wins the game.  After we read all of the rules, we watched this video to see it played first-hand.  You can play 2-4 players.

four: Suspend - Here's another one we learned at a friend's game night.  Each player (up to 4) is given a set of different shaped wire pieces to hang from the structure.  You roll the die to determine what color (each color is a different shape piece) you'll add to the structure.  If your piece or any others fall from the structure during your turn, those pieces are now yours.  Whoever gets rid of all their pieces first is the winner.

five: Ligretto - Mike's family has been playing this game for years, since his family's foreign exchange student from Germany introduced it to them.  Imagine a giant game of spit where everyone is throwing cards into different piles to make sequential 1-10s.  It's definitely wild and a lot of fun!  Each Ligretto sets comes with cards for 4 players.  Each player is coded by color, so you can buy additional colored sets and play with 8 or more people!

six: LCR - I love that you can play this game with as many people as you want.  We have everyone bring 3 quarters instead of using the chips.  Then, you roll 3 dice.  They will either land on L, pass a quarter to the left, R, pass a quarter to the right, C, pass one to the pot in the center, or a circle, keep it.  You keep going around in a circle until only one person has quarters left, and that person gets the whole middle pot.

seven: Rack-o - This is one of Mike's family games that I fell in love with.  Each person is dealt 10 of 60 total cards and places them in their racks back to front, without looking at them.  The goal is to get all of your 10 cards (that have a number 1 through 60) to go from lowest number (in the front) to highest number (in the back).  Each turn, you can either pick up the card at the top of the discard pile or draw a card from the deck and replace that card with one of the cards in your rack.  You keep going until one person has all 10 in order.

eight: Rummikub - Two to four players start by drawing 14 upside-down tiles.  Players try to make groups (sets of the same number) or runs (consecutive numbers in the same color) on their boards, and "meld" when they get to 30 points.  Each turn, you try to discard more tiles from your hand by adding to existing runs, groups, or moving tiles around to make new ones.  If you cannot add with anything from your hand, you draw a tile.  The first person to run out of tiles wins.

nine: Uno - But this isn't just any Uno!  We have added a few rules that make it super fun (and can keep one hand going forever).  The first rule is for drawing - you have to draw until you can play.  That means, you can wind up with 10 or more cards in your hand from one turn.  The second rule is stacking - if the person ahead of you plays a Draw 2, you can either draw 2 cards or play another Draw 2 that you have in your hand (doesn't have to be the same color for this rule).  Then, the next person either has to draw 4 or play another Draw 2.  This also works for Wild Draw 4 cards.  The third rule is "samesies."  If a person anywhere in the circle plays a card, and you have the EXACT same card (color and number), you can jump in before the next person goes and play that card.  Play continues from the person who jumped in with "samesies" as if it was their turn.  The final rule happens when "Uno" is (or isn't) called.  If someone has "Uno" and didn't call it, you can call them out, and they have to draw 7 cards.

ten: Rollers - A lot like Yahtzee, you roll dice to collect sets of each number.  The added component is that when you successfully get and close a set of a certain number, if you roll that number again, you collect chips from those who have not yet closed it.  You win the game by getting all your sets and having the most chips.

What's your favorite game for game night?  We're always looking for new ones to add to our collection!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My Top 10 Charleston Restaurants

Happy Humpday, friends!  I'm excited to hit publish on part one of a different type of round-up today with y'all.  You know that I looove to eat and always enjoy sharing my best-loved restaurants around Charleston.  This week, I am rounding up 10 of my absolute favorites.  Because it's so ridiculously difficult to choose, I decided to break it up into 10 categories and share one for each that I've previously written about.  Then, in two weeks, I will be back to share bloggers from all over the country's favorite local spots!
Breakfast: Callie's Hot Little Biscuit - Biscuits with jam, biscuits with pimento cheese, biscuits with bacon, egg, and cheese, biscuits with a crab cake, and biscuits (in the shape of a bowl) with shrimp and grits.  Everything is so good, and now they have two locations in downtown Charleston: King Street and in the City Market.
Lunch: Queen Street Grocery - Crepes, salads, smoothies, and paninis in one of the cutest little residential neighborhoods downtown.  All of the ingredients are fresh, and bonus: they have a grocery in the back with local beer, wine, and produce.
Southern: Tavern & Table - I didn't think mac & cheese could get any better before I went to T&T.  But now, I've learned if you add barbecue brisket and cornbread crumbles, you hit a new high.  Their appetizers and small plates are my favorite: pimento cheese and bacon jam, crab and artichoke dip, peel and eat shrimp, and the cornbread skillet.  They're located on Shem Creek, so it's the perfect happy hour spot to sit outside and watch the boats go by.
Seafood: Cru Cafe - I have never been to a place with fresher seafood than Cru!  They get their local shrimp right off the boat here in Charleston, and they can do anything with it.  I know it's not seafood, but don't forget to order a side of their four cheese macaroni, too.
Mexican: Yo Bo Cantina - It always amazes me how much delicious Mexican food there is in Charleston.  I love Yo Bo for their burritos and tacos - anything with rojo chicken.  The street corn is delicious, too, and they have two locations in West Ashley and Park Circle.
Barbecue: Home Team BBQ - Their dry rub is unlike anything else: savory, salty, sweet, spicy.  They smoke all of their meat on site at either their West Ashley, Sullivan's Island, or downtown location.  The nachos are giant, and the chips are even sprinkled with that delicious dry rub.  When the mac and cheese balls are on special - get those, too!
Burgers: Poe's Tavern - Burgers at the beach - perfect combo!  Our favorite beach in the Charleston area is Sullivan's Island, so whenever we're over there, we make a stop here (or at the restaurant below this one).  Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island before the Civil War, and everything on the menu has a "Poe" theme.  My favorite is the Annabel Lee, a burger or grilled chicken breast with a crab cake on top.
Italian: The Obstinate Daughter - If you're going to have an Italian restaurant in Charleston, it makes sense for it to also be a raw bar, right?  Pictured below is the Rigatoncini, but you know our appetizer before this was a delicious half pound of fresh peel-and-eat shrimp!
Sushi: O-Ku - Okay, so I have to be honest there, I don't really do the whole "raw fish" thing.  However, I do have friends who say this is the best and freshest in town.  What I can tell you is that they have my favorite roll ever, the potato roll: tempura shrimp and avocado deep fried inside shoestring potatos.  My favorite thing about O-Ku is their happy hour - half price rolls on Mondays, Wendesdays, and Fridays from 5:00-7:00pm.  If you're going for happy hour, make sure you get a reservation.  They fill up on OpenTable at least a week in advance!
Dessert: Peninsula Grill - Okay, so this is the only restaurant I've never written a full post about.  I'm waiting to go for a whole meal, but for now, you need to know about the cake.  The 11-layer coconut cake at Peninsula is ah-mazing.  Usually once a month, we walk in, grab a slice, and bring it home.  Clearly, people are doing this a lot, because they have them ready to go and all packaged up!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Life Lately - Three Favorite Places

Happy Monday!  I thought I'd throw a little life update your way today while I'm enjoying an extra weekend day.  I had to work all day at an event on Saturday, so this it's nice to still have a two-day weekend.  If you follow me on Instagram (@megd_taylor), some of this might be a repeat for you, but here's everything we've been up to recently at a few of our favorite places...

One: Avondale - If you saw my post last Friday (here's the link, if you missed it), I introduced you to one of my favorite neighborhoods in Charleston.  Avondale is close to our home, so we make a point of getting there at least a couple times per week.  Most recently, it's been for a can release and for my current favorite brunch, both at the Fermentory.  
Two: King Street - So many of our favorite places are on King Street downtown.  We were at SEWE this weekend with a stop at Kudu for tea and beer, I went to a fun opening party for a new space at Skinny Dip Charleston (hello Bib.On donut wall!), and we almost always head down each month for Second Sunday when the street is closed and lots of extra vendors are set up down the street.  Doesn't that fried chicken mac and cheese from Mac Daddy look amazing?!?
Three: Home - Mike rearranged our living room furniture before the Super Bowl to make room for extra seating, and I am loving how wide open the room feels.  Plus, we bought these new bar stools from Target, and you seriously cannot beat the price.  Our whole first floor is definitely getting a mid century modern feel!  Of course, I had to re-share the photos I posted in Instagram last week of the cats in their Lilly dress.  Funniest thing ever!  I'm in a Lilly swap group on Facebook, and someone had this made for their dog.  She outgrew it, so I got it for the girls!  And, last but not least - Charlie!  I love that little fish, and he loves his little leaf shelf that Mike bought - definitely a welcomed addition!!
I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Exploring Avondale

For those who have been to Charleston before, you might know that our area is broken up into a bunch of different sections by the rivers that cut through the Lowcountry.  Each one of these areas has its own little neighborhoods that make it unique.  North Charleston has Park Circle, (my favorite place to get a burrito), downtown has Harleston Village, Mount Pleasant has the Old Village, and West Ashley has Avondale.  Living in West Ashley, I am partial to Avondale; it has our favorite brewery, a bunch of parking (optimal for Charleston!), a few great restaurants, and the best street art anywhere in the city.

The chART Initiative was started as an outdoor art gallery to support contemporary artists.  It gives so much life and color to the streets of Charleston, in an otherwise very historic and strictly regulated area.  Even as you're driving into Avondale on Savannah Highway, you can start to see bits and pieces of art on each building.
Charles Towne Fermentory in Avondale is our go-to spot.  I shared about it earlier this month in my third installment of local breweries, but it definitely deserves to be mentioned again.  They have a rotating cycle of delicious beers, and they're known for their New England-style IPAs and Gose.  Right now, I am obsessed with their Skipjack Oyster Gose.  They also have a small rotating kitchen inside with some awesome chefs coming in throughout the week.  Anything from ramen to a lobster roll and huevos rancheros to cheeseburgers is available in their kitchen on any given night.

And after you've had a drink or two, make sure you stroll to the alley behind the Fermentory for some of the best art in Avondale.  You can even catch a glimpse of the brewery behind the Fermentory taproom through the windows.
Across the street from the Fermentory is the best place for cheese steaks in the city: DB's.  I especially love the mural outside their shop - it's a full map of Avondale with the big horse nose where DB's is.  Funny story: that horse wasn't originally part of the design, and there was a DB's logo over the shop on the map.  City of Charleston ordinances only allow one piece of signage per restaurant, so they had to put the horse over it to cover the additional advertising!
Walk across Avondale and Maple streets from DB's to get to some of our other favorite restaurants in the area.  Verde salads are my go-to for lunch, Mellow Mushroom has delicious pizza, and I still have a Groupon to Al Di La that I need to use!
After dinner, don't forget to walk behind Mellow's strip to see even more fantastic art!  No matter where you go in Avondale, you're bound to see or try something really cool and unique.  If you're in Charleston, I definitely suggest a visit to my favorite neighborhood.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood in your city?  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Simple Pleasures on Valentine's Day

Happy heart day, friends!  
I hope all of you treat yo'self a little today.  We have kickball tonight, and I made some treats for our teams.  I thought it would be fun to share some simple pleasures on the blog today.  I have little notes in my phone and in my planner, and I've been trying to keep track of more fun, positive things recently.  So, here are my simple pleasures, this time, related to "firsts:"
  • The first day of a new Pandora month, when you feel like you have limitless skips
  • A brand new EOS lip balm - it's so perfectly spherical!
  • That first giant chip when you open a new party-size bag
  • When you buy a new bathing suit and the inner padding is in the right place... for the only time ever
  • The smell inside a new peanut butter jar
  • How long your phone battery lasts when you first buy it
  • The first beach day of the year
  • New car smell
  • The first spring blooms of the year - coming soon in Charleston!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sweet and Spicy Korean Beef

This shop/post has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #ItsAMatch #DietCoke #CollectiveBias

Dinner is my absolute favorite meal of the day.  It might sound crazy, but I love stopping at the grocery store on my way home from work, grabbing a few ingredients, and making something Mike and I will enjoy.  One of our absolute favorites is Korean Beef.  This was one of the first recipes Mike ever made for me, and it's so delicious.  We've made it our own over the years with some added sriracha as well as the addition of lettuce wraps, but without a doubt, it's never disappoints!
Ingredients:
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1.4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- optional: cooked rice or romaine lettuce
- garnish ideas: toasted sesame seeds, sliced carrots, green onions
While at Harris Teeter, shopping for all my dinner essentials, I also picked up a pack of Diet Coke® Zesty Blood Orange.  I love the pairing of citrus in Asian cooking, so the Diet Coke Zesty Blood Orange was the perfect pick to go with my fresh lineup of ingredients.  As you can see, they have a few other new flavors, and you can check them out here
Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, ginger, and sriracha.
2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook and crumble ground beef until browned.
3. Drain nearly all the remaining oil/fat.
4. Fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes in the middle of the beef.
5. Stir together the beef, garlic, soy sauce mixture, and green onions, allowing to simmer until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
6. Serve over rice or in a lettuce wrap.
What I love about this recipe is the easy ways to offer exactly what both Mike and I want, changing nothing about the actual Korean Beef.  I cooked white rice in our steamer for him and picked up bib lettuce for me.
Seriously, how delicious do both of these options look??
Obviously, Mike and I both chose Diet Coke Zesty Blood Orange to go with our meals, but Diet Coke® has added four new flavors to its lineup.  They now feature Fiesty Cherry, Ginger Lime, Twisted Mango, Zesty Blood Orange, and, of course, Classic Diet Coke®.  The can-shape may have changed for the Classic flavor, but the delicious taste has not!  You can look for the single cans to try all the new flavors at an affordable price.  You can even take this quiz to see which Diet Coke® matches to you!  I matched with the Diet Coke Zesty Blood Orange - how about you??
What's your favorite easy dinner?  Have you seen the new sleeker Diet Coke® cans?

 
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