Spring returns!

It's Friday and the sun is shining.

I had a "rant" post all set for today about something driving me nuts, but it doesn't feel right to post it today because I'm in a good mood. So, you might get my soap box on another day I guess. Maybe not. It was trivial and I honestly was just trying to come up with something to post!

So instead - I'm reveling in it being Friday and sunny outside.

I am enjoying the return of spring.

There is green grass. There are birds chirping.

The sky is as pure of a color blue as I have seen it in days.

There is just no reason to grumble on a day like today!



The answer is....

So last week I posed the question to all you readers of "What do you think this is"

Pretty much all of you guessed just about right! It is an wort immersion cooler for use when making beer. "Wort" is what the beer is called after it has boiled with all of the stuff like hops that make the beer "beer". And it is important to get that wort chilled very quickly or it won't necessarily ferment well. See, when you boil the wort, it gets all the way up to about 225 degrees or so. You need to get it under 140 degrees as soon as possible and then all the way down to 80 degrees or less before you stick it in the carboy (containter it then ferments in). The way this chiller works is you connect it with some tubing to either your kitchen sink or a garden hose if you are outside, the water spins around the inside of the copper tubing you see pictured above - it's set into the beer pot and the cold copper cools the wort.

Nate used to stick the entire pot that he boiled the beer in into a bathtub full of ice water. And he could usually get the temp down to 140 degrees quickly enough but the rest of it would take almost an hour to cool down. So, he decided maybe it was time to get one of these immersion chillers. And then when our extra freezer in the basement died and we ended up not having storage for large bags of ice any longer, it sealed the deal. He quickly discovered he could build one for cheaper than he could buy one pre-made, so he built it and we tested it out when we brewed beer over the weekend - it works SO WELL. We acheived 140 degrees in about a minute and were under 80 degrees in six minutes. It is such a time saver. And acheives the goal of getting the wort cool so much more efficiently!

So there you go - as I said, all those who commented were pretty much on the same page (except for you Mr. Anonymous - and Nate wants to know who of my readers thinks he would even dream of engaging in such illegal activity as distilling alcohol - we don't need the FBI on our tail, we'd never do that!) - so true to my word, I have drawn a name for a coffee gift card and Miss Julie, you are the winner. I will send you a gift card to whichever of the three coffee places I mentioned strikes your fancy, just let me know.

Thanks to all who induldged me in this fun little game, maybe I'll try it again sometime!



Taylor the Wonder Cat

So indulge me once again in my nostalgic/milestone mood as I approach my fifth wedding anniversary. It's also the fifth anniversary of something else - my becoming a "parent" for the first time.

I know you're going - you don't have children Beth, what are you talking about? I'm talking about becoming a kitty parent of course! So, here we go, storytime!

I moved into our house two months before our wedding so I could start getting things settled and what not. And, as much as I wanted to and as much as she was my cat, I just knew in my heart I couldn't take Cleo away from the only home she'd ever known. Not to mention she was already getting older and she was just as much my mom's cat as she was mine (I've said before that Cleo pretty much has always been a "girl's" cat and just tolerates my dad). So, it was hard for me, but I left her behind.

So, I moved out and started adjusting to my new home. Fortunately I wasn't there completely alone, Ali had been living there to keep it from being empty and to help clean it out since so much of Auntie Helen's stuff was still there and such. But her and I did have different schedules and sometimes I was there alone and it would be kind of lonely at times. So after barely a month of being there, I started thinking about getting my own cat.

Nate and I discussed adopting a cat just as soon as we got married since we both grew up with cats and loved cats. But we had thought we'd wait until after the wedding and honeymoon and all of that.

Then two things happened -
1. Ali and I babysat their family cat for a weekend while my in-laws had their house painted. It helped me see both how a cat would work in our house and also that I truly missed having one around.
2. I started looking at Petfinder.org in my free time and found a cat through an organization called Cause for Paws and I fell in love.

I found out that Cause for Paws was having an adoption event at a Petco not far from us and that the cat I wanted was going to be there. So, I went over to check her out.

And of course, she was even cuter in person. She was this tiny ball of fur, she was about six months old at the time and so sweet. I called Nate who was working on his car and said "I'm going to do this, we are adopting this cat." He agreed, though I'll never know if it was because he was distracted from working on the car or not! I signed the papers and bought all the supplies I'd need for her - the organization was kind enough to give out coupon books to anyone who adopted that day - and then discussed with her foster mom when I could come and get her. She was working on healing from a tiny eye infection, so the foster mom said "let's wait a few days and then you can come and get her." This was fine since Missy hadn't quite gone home yet from our house!

A couple of days later however, Missy went home, and the foster mom called and said my kitty's eye had cleared up and we set up a time for me to pick her up.

She had already been given the name Taylor and we noticed she did respond pretty well to it from the first day we had her at our house. So, we decided to keep the name. Later when I'd put up pictures of her on Facebook and such, I'd say "This is Taylor the Wonder Cat".

The first few days were a little tough - she cried a lot at night and had anxiety about me leaving the house, I'm sure because it was a new environment and at her foster home, she had other cats around and they were confined to one room for the most part. And then just as we got her more or less settled, I had to lock her up during the day for a few days when I was gone because of Nate's family coming in and out and preparing for a garage sale to get rid of the rest of Helen's things.

For the most part though she was so sweet and seemed pretty happy! She had the nicest little purr and she would lick us as a sign of affection (something she still does). She absolutely loved playing with toys, especially ones with string or rope.

When we got back from our honeymoon we made the decision to have her declawed - something I wish I had not done looking back, though that's a story for another day.

As time went on, she started having a few issues that we still deal with - namely that she sometimes urinates outside of her litter box. I realize that would be enough to make some people get rid of a cat, but we love her and we have figured out ways to contain it to certain areas when it does happen. We think she was taken away from her mother too soon and a number of other things that leads to that happening sometimes. Fortunately it's not a frequent occurance by any means and there's a great product that cleans it up very well if it does.

We got Pippin with the intention of her being a friend for Taylor - Nate was going back to work full time and we thought she'd enjoy it. Of course, it took quite awhile to get them acclimated to each other and for the most part I think she just tolerates Pippin, but I do think they keep each other company when we're not around. Taylor is defintely the "queen bee" out of the two of them, even though Pippin is big enough to totally whip her butt.

Nate is Taylor's favorite person. Before we got Pippin, this used to bug me a little bit, but it turns out, I'm Pippin's favorite person, so it just kind of works. And Taylor has moments she likes to be with me. Mostly in the morning while I'm eating my breakfast, I sit on the couch and check my email and Taylor likes to curl up on my lap.

I love her so much, issues and all, I wouldn't change a thing really. And when/if we have children someday, Taylor will always be my first "baby" in my mind!

The wonder cat in all her glory


Easter greetings

"The angel spoke to the women, do not be afraid, if you are looking for Jesus, he is risen from the grave" - He Is Not Here, David Haas

Happy Easter one and all - whether you celebrate today in a Christian sense or if it's just about bunnies and eggs - I hope you all had a wonderful and glorious holiday.

We had a nice and full day today - early Mass, brunch with my in-laws, dinner with the extended in-laws and dessert with my parents. The sun is shining and it's finally decent outside!

It's nice to pause for a bit, spend time with those we love and reflect on our many blessings.

*Still time to comment on "What Is It" - scroll down a couple of posts to find out what I'm talking about. All will be revealed on Tuesday morning*



Music and art

I'm having fun reading all the comments on my previous post for "What is It" in the picture. I will not say yet if the responses received are correct or not, but so far everyone is guessing the same thing or idea. There's still plenty of time to guess, even if you want to weigh in with what the majority thinks so far!

Yesterday was the big Rock the Garden lineup announcement. I have seen responses so far that some folks are less than impressed with the lineup and I respect any and all opinions on that - but for me personally, I am geeking out with excitement over one of the artists that is coming - Neko Case. I have been a huge Neko Case fan for several years, ever since hearing "Hold On, Hold On" when it was used in a television show in 2006. Thanks to the magic of Pandora.com I discovered even more of of her music and just fell in love. If she's not your cup of tea, that's cool, but I absolutely adore and love her music. (you may recall from my Lasik post that I even chose her to listen to when I had my surgery - I find her voice soothing and relaxing) I am beyond thrilled to finally get to see her in concert and especially in this venue - chilling on the grass at the Walker with a beer in hand and listening to her mellow tones - lovely.

I will agree on some level that some of the other acts are questionable - Booker T, who is a legend yes, Nate is excited for that one, I could take or leave him, but I'll give him a chance. The headliner this year is My Morning Jacket whom I'm not super familiar with. I'll also give them a chance, but it is interesting I guess. Local group Tapes and Tapes rounds out the lineup and I have enjoyed the music I have heard of theirs so I believe they should be good live.

Anyway, I'm happy, I got my tickets after the website freaked out a bit yesterday and I am very much looking forward to the event. My summer is shaping up to be super musically fantastic.

In other news, we finished our three week art class last night. I'll post pictures soon of our little projects - although we had to leave our honey pots behind, they were having trouble getting the kiln hot enough and so it did funky things to the glaze. Our teacher said she could fire them again and it should fix them. So we can stop back at the park in a couple of weeks and pick them up. I was able to bring home my homemade paper and the cute book we made last night though!

I thoroughly enjoyed this little class, it was relaxed and informative and now that I've had a taste of the different types of art they teach at Silverwood I am hoping to take a class that focusses on one of them, such as pottery or book binding. It doesn't hurt that the park is super close to my house.

And I'll leave off with the depressing news that most MN people are already aware of - it totally snowed this morning. Super yuck! And of course, that meant we did not go running today. Not. Happy.

Happy spring?


"What is it?" photo contest!

All right, time for a little reader participation. We're going to play a little game. Can you guess what the item in this picture is?

The only clue I will give you is that it is something Nate is working on for something specific.

I want to see if anyone can guess what it is. Leave a comment telling me what you think it might be. And to make this more fun and hopefully encourage some participation, I will award the person that guesses correctly or most closely with a $5.00 coffee gift card of their choice - Caribou, Starbucks or Dunn Brothers. If more than one person guesses correctly, I'll draw names out of a hat. And yes, I'm willing to mail the gift card if you are out of state.

I'll leave this open for one week - get your guesses in by Tuesday, April 26th! If you have never commented before or even if you comment all the time, I'd love to hear from you! Put your thinking caps on or exercise your Google skills and tell me what this item is for!

*It should be noted I am in no way being paid for or endorsing any of the three coffee places mentioned, I am a coffee person and thought it would be a fun prize that I will pay out of my own pocket for. Thank you*


Running two steps forward, one step back

So we hit a milestone today in our running so far this year, in that we completed the most consecutive minutes at a time since starting up again.

And now it's going to snow again.

This weather has really been making our return to our running routine a huge challenge. It is frustrating. Last year at this time we were practically wearing short sleeves for running in the mornings, this year I'm having to wear layers.

At any rate, I am glad we are trying to progress as much as we can and I am enjoying being back into the routine. I just wish it would stop getting interrupted so much.

Two steps forward, one step back.


A few updates

Man I just haven't been in "blogging mode" much lately! There isn't anything bad going on. There also isn't anything terribly exciting or good either though! Life is just life right now. And there's nothing wrong with that.

The new bed is awesome, but led me to figure out I needed a new pillow. I found one with good reviews for side sleepers and bought it, I'll be trying it out tonight. We'll see how it goes.

My art class is going well, we did paper making this week. Next week we'll do book binding and then we'll be done. I will post pictures of my projects when I get them all home next week. I'm so glad we took the class, it has been fun.

Lent is drawing to a close in the next week, hard to believe. Easter and Russian Easter strangely fall on the same day again this year, pretty rare to have that happen two years in a row. At any rate we're spending the day with Nate's family this year and catching up with my parents for dessert.

Nate finished the grout in the upstairs bathroom and it's been nice having that all back to normal. My dad has slowly been working on the basement ceiling and lights as he's had time. Once that project is done I'm not sure what we'll be working on next. With the weather hopefully starting to improve more I am hoping to get at some outdoor things pretty soon.

That's about all I can report on - as usual we're busy, but it's nothing new or out of the ordinary. But again, it's not all bad!


Crazy weekend

Project New Bed is complete. They delivered it bright and early Saturday morning - at 7:45 am to be specific. They had called on Thursday and said we'd be the first delivery of the day and to expect them between 8:00 and 10:00 am, but that they'd call when they were close. Well we set the alarm for 7:30 and they called not two minutes after it went off and said they'd be there shortly. It was nice getting it out of the way early though. Got everything all set back up by 8:30. Could have almost gone back to bed, but decided to start our day.

Had a nice visit with my friend Justine and goddaughter Elsa, they stopped by for a little bit while waiting for her sister's plane to come in, it was nice to be able to see them since we hadn't seen them since October. After that I hit up a sale at Old Navy - man they were practically paying you to take some of the stuff away.

After I returned on Saturday afternoon Nate suddenly ended up quite a bit under the weather and I tell you, time just stops when the most important person in the world to you is sick and there is nothing you can do to make them feel better. I despise the feeling of helplessness. All of our plans for the rest of our weekend pretty much went out the window. Thankfully it was a very short lived illness, not sure really sure what that was all about.

Sunday found us being pretty lazy due to the events of Saturday and fortunately we did salvage a bit of our weekend, watched some Mad Men as we had a disc of it from Netflix and we got take out from a nearby Vietnamese restaurant that is quite good.

I'm thankful Nate was back to normal so quickly and back to work today. So parts of the weekend were good, but other parts were not so good so Monday doesn't feel so bad I guess!


Party like it's 1999

Yeah, I know, been quiet on the ole blog here this week. Just haven't had much exciting things to share! Nothing wrong with that. Anyway, I was listening to the Current this morning (what else do I listen to?) and they do a 9:30 coffee break where they pick a theme and ask for suggestions. Today's theme was 1999 - as in the year, not the Prince song. So I Googled songs from 1999 for the fun of it and man, what is it about music that brings memories flooding back so easily? Many of the songs I found totally put me back in 1999 and I thought for fun I'd share my thoughts today. Let's go back 12 years...

In 1999, I was finishing my junior year of high school and beginning my senior year. Nate and I had been dating for one year.

A typical Friday night for us consisted of either going to a movie after dinner or watching movies in my parent's basement.

A typical Saturday night for us was usually spent out at dinner after I sang for 5:00 mass at church. Sometimes we'd go with my parents, sometimes we'd go alone. Usually followed up with more movies in my parents basement. So exciting.

We spent every Thursday night at church for youth group.

We went to Y-Teens, Sadie Hawkins and Prom in 1999. I had a lead in the spring play, Harvey.

I had a summer job at Homeplace - a "home goods" store that used to be at Northtown Mall and is no longer in business. I hated every second of that job, but wanted to prove my independence to my parents, so that's why I took it. Nate worked for Franks Nursery and Crafts - unlike me, he actually liked his job and still worked there during the school year. I started my job in June and quit by the second week of August.

I attended Music Ministry Alive for the first time that summer - one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Also became a cantor at church for the first time.

I went to Maine with Nate's family that summer as well. And managed to also spend a week in a cabin up north with my parents too. Guess that summer was all about traveling!

The fall took us into our senior year. Pep band at Friday night football games. Other school activities consuming our time a little more than usual because it was the "last" time for some of it.

We both turned 18 that November. I started applying for colleges. Making the slow transition to "adulthood". Celebrated the end of the milenium at Nate's house with his sister and a friend of ours, somewhat low key, but we were never big "partiers". We were who we were and didn't really care what others thought.

I remember those days with wistful fondness - they were some of the best of times really. Carefree, innocent. I wouldn't trade where I am now of course, as I love my life now too, but 1999 was a good year in my life. And I'm glad that music can have the ability to take me back.

Soundtrack for this post: Slide - the Goo Goo Dolls
Steal My Sunshine - Len
Silent All These Years - Tori Amos
Hands - Jewel
Sex and Candy - Marcy Playground
(Radio station of choice in 1999 was 104.1 The Point - it does not exist any longer!)

Nate and I - Y-Teens Winter Formal, early 1999


Pleasant and Productive weekend

We accomplished a lot of good things this weekend.

First of all Nate and my dad worked a very long time on Saturday on the wiring in the basement - I tell you, every time they've done an electric job of some sort in our house they find more surprises and things done poorly. So of course it takes about twice as long whenever they work on things like this, but we want it done right so the extra time is worth it. After their hard work we now have our switches separated in a way that makes much more sense and we also put up different wall sconses - the ones that actually used to be in our living room! They look very nice on the wall down there! Now my dad has to come back and do a little work on the ceiling before he can install the new ceiling lights we bought - but we're getting closer on this project.

Nate also got some work done on the bathroom project. The tile is now back up and drying, he can add the grout after that and then seal her back up. I miss my bathtub, but the downstairs shower hasn't been all bad to use.

The biggest news of the weekend was that we finally finished our taxes (yeah I know, way to be last minute right?) and due to getting a nice sized refund and also because we're fed up with waking up with backaches (which were exceptionally bad for both of us yesterday)we went and picked out a new mattress yesterday! It will be delivered next Saturday and I can hardly wait. We also bought a new frame for the bed as well. Best part is they will haul away our old one, I am excited that we don't have to deal with the old one ourselves. Mostly, I'm looking forward to better nights of sleeping and not being so sore all the time, I'm too young for back problems like this!

We also got together with Nate's parents and sister and planned our trip to St. Louis this summer. I am really looking forward to it, we haven't seen this branch of the family since our wedding. And Ali mentioned that we haven't ever had a chance to go down there all five of us, so that will be nice too.

We still managed to get in a nice date night as well, had dinner at Donatelli's on Saturday evening and came home and watched a movie. I'm glad we had that time to relax.

This week I look forward to finishing the bathroom, getting a hair cut, starting my art class with my mom and getting our new bed next weekend! It is the little things sometimes!


Just a shorty post

We made it through an entire week back at running! It was looking a little close towards the end of the week here, I wasn't sure if we were going to make it with the weather, but fortunately the rain held off this morning and we managed to squeeze it in. Next week is looking like it may start out shaky weather wise, but we will do the best we can. We're back and it feels great.

We have a rare weekend ahead of us with very little going on. Of course we're filling it up with projects at home that I blogged about earlier this week, but that is just the way life goes sometimes. I am most excited about going on a date with my husband tomorrow night. Since our experience at Vic's was less than pleasant this week and we have a Saturday night totally free we're going out to one of our favorite restaurants that we haven't actually been to in quite awhile. We'll also probably watch a movie and just relax for a change. I can't say that is a bad thing at all!

Happy weekend everyone!