Friday, August 22, 2014


It was a kind of an odd week.  I had a tough time at work.  I have some things weighing kind of heavy on my heart and my mind right now.  But I'm happily enjoying a little staycation with our extended visiting relatives and I'm off to my happy place today - the Minnesota State Fair - so excited for Ollie's first time!  I'm keeping up with finding the positives in my world even when I'm dealing with a few less than ideal things and once again, TIGF Friday is perfect for that!  Here are the things I'm grateful for this week.

Date nights that include new to me beers.  We checked out a tap room we hadn't been to yet last week on our date night and it was awesome.  We just haven't gotten out to a lot of these places since Ollie has been born, so it was fun to do a little beer sampling!

Silliness on a Sunday with my favorite boys.  We made a space in our living room that we're now calling "Ollie Land" (copying my mom who created her own Ollie Land at her house.  Maybe we should be Ollie World?) to give him more room to try to crawl and learn to move.  We had a dance party this last Sunday with our new space and Ollie had some fun trying on daddy's hat.

The magic of a rainbow in your front yard.  Caught this one after a weird downpour earlier this week followed by sunshine.  It's been an odd weather week, feels like we live in Florida, but I love when it creates beauty like this!

Cat purrs.  I don't get as much time with my furry girls these days but when one of them sits with me, I make the time for pets and love. Love my kitties, they were still and always will be my first babies!

Afternoons off that take you to the beach.  It wasn't a super nice day but we still attempted a beach day with Nate's cousins and it was so nice sitting with the sand under my toes for a bit!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and can find something in your world to be grateful for this week as well.  Make sure to stop by Ashley, Laura or Nay's blogs for other posts of gratitude too!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thrift Style Thursday - Mad about Plaid

You guys!  Plaid is my favorite ever! I was so excited about this week's Thrift Style Thursday's Mad About Plaid theme.  Because I'm crazed with relatives in town, I decided to go easy on this week and feature my favorite thrifted plaid pants of all time and the various ways I have worn them!

They've often been called my Brady Bunch pants, my wild pants, my crazy pants, etc.  They are so comfy, they go with so many things and I will never tire of them ever!  Viva la Plaid No Boundaries brand pants!

For more Plaid awesomeness, check out the other Thrift Style Thursday gals below:

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Homebrew love

Nate and I love beer.  It's much more than a "oh man I want to drink to get smashed" kind of thing.  We enjoy it for the flavor, we enjoy trying different kinds, we like pairing it with food.  It's truly something that is just interesting and fun to us!  About six years ago Nate was lucky enough to inherit some homebrewing equipment from his now late grandfather and it was during a time he was out of work and needing something to do, so he took up homebrewing his own beer and it just evolved and grew over time.  We now have a bar with seven taps in our basement and have fun coming up with fun and delicious brews to fill it up with.  For fun, I thought I'd kind of walk you through the homebrew process in case you were curious!

We do two types of brewing - extract and all grain.  The best way I can think of to describe the difference is this.  Extract brewing is like making a cake from a cake mix.  Some of the ingredients are already put together for you but you add a few of your own to make an awesome creation.  All grain brewing is like baking a cake completely from scratch.  All grain is definitely my favorite - it's hard to tell the difference between Nate's all grain beer and the stuff you can buy in the store.  Extract brew still turns out and tastes delicious, but you can tell it's not quite the same as the all grain.  We mostly do all grain now, but it is a ton more work so this past weekend we did an extract brew.  Nate was mostly looking to get a batch done quickly so we can have a full stocked bar ready to go for our Oktoberfest party in late October.  Extract brew is a great place for a new brewer to start out - you buy a pre-made kit and all the instructions are right there for you (even this spaz can do an extract brew!)

 1. Giant pot  2. Adding the grains 3. Adding the malt

We use a giant pot that used to be part of Nate's dad's turkey fryer.  The process of brewing is almost like making a giant pot of tea - you get your water boiled to a certain temperature, then you steep your grains much like you would a tea bag.  The rest of the items that really make beer be well, beer, are not added until almost the very end.  It is usually about an hour or so to steep the grains.  Then you add in things like hops, malt and anything you want to use to flavor your beer.  This particular batch is a raspberry porter, so we are going to be adding in some fresh raspberries after the beer starts fermenting a bit.

1. Ollie "supervising"  2. Nate enjoying a cold one while waiting
3. My beer on the table  4. Cooling the wort

We do the brewing outside when we can for a couple of reasons - it's easy to use the propane from our grill and then we use something Nate made called a "wort chiller" to cool the "wort" (wort = boiled grains and ingredients) that attaches to our garden hose.  The goal is to get the wort cooled down very quickly and this copper contraption that he built takes in water and gets nice and cold very fast.  We used to stick the pot in a bathtub full of ice water and it could take 45 minutes or more to cool it down.  Now we can do it in six minutes or under.

Of course while we're brewing we have to drink a beer.  We also have a very cute supervisor now too.  I imagine he will get a kick out of helping his daddy eventually!  We'll be the cool parents (judge all you want) who will even let him have a sip when he's older.  

The beer will need to sit in fermentation (we use our basement bathroom, nice dark cool spot) for anywhere from three to six weeks depending on the type of beer.  Then it's kegged and thrown into our bar!  It needs a few days to get some carbonation going and then it's good to drink.  Below is a picture of our bar.

Our bar!  We actually have a seventh tap in the middle now - a "stout" faucet

We used to bottle the beer which was nice to be able to share with friends - but was a TON more work if you can believe that.  We recently figured out a way we can still share beer with friends.  Nate brewed a special anniversary brew for some friends of ours and bought something cool called a "jockey box" which is basically a cooler that was fixed up to be a little mini keg system.  It's fun to now have a way to share beer with people again!  The only downside is we have yet to figure out how to clean it...and one huge thing about anything with homebrew - everything must be sanitized and cleaned really well.  If it isn't it can actually cause your beer to get infected which can mess with the flavor and end result of your beer.  It won't necessarily make you sick if you drink it, but it won't be good!

Jockey box that can hold up to two taps if we want!

So, there you have it, my really brief sort of idiots guide to homebrewing.  Nate was attempting a homebrew blog for awhile and it kind of fell by the wayside.  He absolutely loves talking about homebrew and helping others though, so if you have questions, let me know and I'll pass them along to him!
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Giving back

On Saturday I stepped out of my shell a little bit and met up with a handful of other Minnesota Bloggers to give of my time at Second Harvest Heartland, an organization that helps food banks here in Minnesota.  We were a small but mighty group and it was nice to meet a few ladies I hadn't met before.  Sarah of Love Full Bloom was nice enough to register and set us up for a morning of giving - and I stole a few pictures of our day from her to share here so you can see what we did!

Second Harvest received some giant bags of potatoes from farmers in East Grand Forks.  When I say giant potato bags, I mean giant.  Take a look below.

Obviously, this giant bag is not suitable for distribution!  So, they needed us to help out by sorting through the large bag and pulling out any rotten or spoiled potatoes and then taking the good ones and measuring them into five pound bags.  Here I am measuring out potatoes with Jenn from Wonderfully Unkmept.

It was quite an operation. There were several other groups volunteering that day as well. Some of them were also taking giant boxes of cereal donated from Kelloggs and breaking those down into smaller boxes as well. At the end of our shift between the cereal and the potatoes we packaged up 13457 lbs of food that will help families in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin!  That's pretty awesome when we learned 1 in 10 families in those areas are struggling to put food on their table each night.  Makes the two and a half hours we worked seem like nothing.  I'd gladly do it again!

 Group shot!
Jen, Sarah, Me, Jenn and Brittany

These ladies were a pleasure to work with and it was awesome having a chance to meet some other bloggers from Minnesota.  I had to laugh at how the other groups we were working with kept asking "so what do you blog about?" and we're all like, um, stuff?  At any rate it was a very worthwhile morning and I look forward to going back!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Inspiration Monday - Simple

Well happy Monday one and all!  Today I'm doing a total "if you blink" interpretation of two birds Inspiration Monday model Kate Bosworth here.  I wasn't remembering the floral pattern on her dress so I went for a neutral one - oops!  I do like this pretty dress she's rocking here though.  It's a nice simple look and so is the dress I chose today, so I guess maybe I went for that overall approach?

And then it was raining so I had to take my pictures indoors - which I'm not super good at yet with Nate's camera.  I played with the settings and did the best I could do.  We'll be filing this post under "I am not a photographer" once again!  Anyway, I haven't worn this dress here since I was in my early pregnancy with Oliver, it's fun to pull it out again, it's so flirty and fun.

Dress - VS (gift from Nate), Necklace - DIY by me
Shoes - DSW 

Lots going on this week on both the blog and in my world - I have a short work week because some of Nate's St. Louis relatives are coming up to visit and we'll be doing some fun stuff with them.  I have some fun posts planned on the blog this week too - a post on homebrew beer, a post about my volunteer experience with some other MN bloggers and my usual Thrift Style Thursday and TIGF posts will be here this week too. Tons of fun ahead, stay tuned!  And be sure to visit two birds for other Inspiration Monday outfits that probably match better than mine!
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Friday, August 15, 2014

TIGF (and TGIF!)

Happy Friday everyone!  I'm back with my weekly dose of gratitude for Things I'm Grateful for Friday.  I had a couple of yucky days this week with work and also was rather floored by the death of Robin Williams as many of us were, so it's nice to step back and reflect on my blessings for a minute!

This week I am grateful for:

Date Night - I get to go on a date with my favorite person tonight.  We haven't had a date night, just us, in longer than I can remember right now - I think it was our anniversary.  Yes we did leave Oliver for that overnight in Duluth, but we ended up meeting up with some friends there and well, it was a beer festival, not a true "date." Tonight we're going to a grown up restaurant and just enjoying some time for the two of us.  One of my favorite bloggers, Megan of two birds, has said that it's important to take time out as a couple to do those kinds of things away from your kids and that in turn it can make you better parents.  I agree.  We're long overdue for this!

My boyfriend is ever so dreamy (points if you know what that quote is from)

Beer - I guess it could make me sound like an alcoholic, but I tell you, after a tough day at work yesterday I was pretty happy to unwind with a nice cold glass of my favorite beer!

Baby kisses - So last week Oliver started doing this thing where he grabs my face in his hands and puts his mouth on my cheek.  At first I thought it was a teething thing, he was trying to chew my face or something.  Then I realized, he is learning how to give kisses!  It is the sweetest thing ever, when I pick him up at my parents at the end of the day he reaches for me and as soon as I have in my arms he grabs my face and gives me a sloppy kiss.  I swear I could not love this child more. 

Heart = melted

Making money in side jobs - I get to sing at a wedding this weekend and make a little extra cash!  I love getting that opportunity when I can!  Every little bit helps.  I also ended up making a pretty nice amount from the Just Between Friends sale when all was said and done, so I'm really glad I decided to participate in that!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Thanks as always for being here in sharing in my world!  Head over to Ashley, Nay or Laura's blogs for other posts of gratitude or to add your own!
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