Friday, December 06, 2013

Five Years Later

Five years ago today, my world was tossed upside down. You can read about it here. You don't expect to be 39 and wonder how will you go on.

Some days, I am still sad. Some days, I am happy. Some days, I am still angry. Some days, I find that there is something I want to share with you. Some days, I wonder what might have been. Some days, I don't think about you at all. I think that Rufus still misses you.

I look back over the past five years and think about  how my life has changed. The things I've done that I never thought I would or could do. The places I've gone. The people I've met. I probably would have never done any of that if you were still here.

I found out that I'm stronger than I ever knew could be. For that I'm so glad.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Big Eddy and the Angels

This post is a long time in coming. Just never got around to taking the pictures off my phone.

Last month, Barley's Angels was invited to the Miller Caves for a Leinenkugel's tasting. I had met the 10th and Blake representative, Lisa Zimmer about a year ago for a Beer Club event she hosted. We later found out that we are both space geeks and would have been at the same NASA TweetUp for the last ever shuttle launch. I had contacted her to see if she was interested in hosting an event for the Angels. She was.

The meeting was being held at the historic Miller caves. The caves are where Frederick Miller first stored his brews over 150 years ago. It was a pretty cool (literally) place carved into the hillside. The theme for this month's meeting was Leinenkugel's and their Big Eddy series of beers.
The Miller caves are carved into a hillside and is the original stone

When we arrived, we were treated with Honey Weiss or Orange Shandy paired with either spinach, mozzarella and tomato flat bread or roasted red pepper and basil flat bread. I liked mixing the two beers together and having what was called an Orange Blossom.

The first course was the Hoppin Helles paired with rosemary chicken breast stuffed with herb garlic and topped with a balsamic cream sauce and caramelized onions over pearl couscous. The sauce was made with the Hoppin Helles and really brought out the citrus flavors in the beer and food.

Hoppin Helles

Next up was the Snowdrift Vanilla porter paired with sweet potato puree topped with brussels sprouts with bacon and vidalia onion. The porter and sweet potato was perfect together. I even ate a brussles sprout an it was ok. Just not a big fan of them.

Snowdrift Vanilla Porter

The main course was the Big Eddy Baltic porter served with prime medallion filet mignon with the porter demi-glaze and fingerling potatoes. This was fantastic!! The steak was so tender you didn't even need a knife to cut it.

Big Eddy Baltic Porter

For dessert we had Bid Eddy Russian Imperial stout that had been aged a year. It as paired with a flourless chocolate torte with Door County cherry and raspberry melba sauce. OMG!! This was fantastic. The stout really was so good with the berry and chocolate. I could have had that every day and I would be happy.

Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout 2012
I was blown away by Lisa, Amanda and Chef Ernie. We had a great evening and I hope that Barley's Angles and 10th & Blake can pair up again for an event.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Cutting the Cord

Most everyone has cable. Every couple of months it goes up. Not a lot, a few dollars here and few dollars there. After a while you realize that your cable bill is damn near a mortgage payment.

It started almost a year ago when Time Warner (TW) started charging for "leasing" their cable modem. I've had the same modem for almost five years and now they want $5/month to lease it. After talking to a few people, I discovered that you can use your own cable modem. I went to TW's website and found a list of modems that are supported. I bought one on Amazon. Do your homework as prices can vary quite a bit. I wanted one that if I ever upgraded my internet speed the modem could handle it. It took about 15 minutes to set up. You have to call TW and give them the MAC address of the new modem. Make sure you return the old modem to avoid still being charged for it.

I work from home two days a week and some days spend 3-4 hours in meetings so having a land line is essential. Using my cell phone would eat my minutes up in a couple of days. So, I started doing some research on VoIP phones.  A few days later had a Ooma as one of their daily deals. I snapped it up. I liked that Consumer Reports gave them a good rating. An added plus was that when you register your device you enter your address and it can be used by 911 to determine your location. It is now $40 to port your existing phone number. They said it would take a month. More like a week and there was no loss of service. You get emails from them at every step and know when things are going to happen and are done. They even notified TW to cancel their phone service for you. The call quality is excellent and have never had an issue with it. All I pay for is taxes which comes to $3.71/month. That saved me $30/month

TV service is where things took a bit longer. I started out by making a list of what I DVR'ed. Everything I watched except Finding Bigfoot (which I may break down and get on iTunes, unless some kind soul will let me watch it at their house) is available for free. I can either watch most shows live or stream from the networks websites. 

I've had Netflix for years so I can use that as an option for some shows

I had a digital antenna I got when the gov't was giving them out for free several years ago. TW was giving them out for free, so you may want to ask them if they sill are giving them out. Otherwise you can get one at Target or Best Buy for $20. If your tv is newer it may already be built in. I already had a Roku player. That can get lots of channels including Netflix/ Hulu. There are several options available.

My DVD player was about 10-ish years old (it was a PJ’s raffle one from like 2002) so for $75 I bought a blue ray that has internet and Netflix built in. It can get several other channels as well. I have a Wii and stream Netflix from there as well.

My laptop is older and does not have an HDMI port so I bought a little converter on Amazon. I can connect the laptop to my tv and stream network shows from there if I want to watch something that has already aired.If you have an HDMI port on a laptop, you can stream using a cable to the tv without the converter

One of the biggest things I watched on cable was sports. Namely the Brewers games. Come next baseball season I can stream from any of the devices. If you are wanting to watch your local team they are delayed. So I found a website that will switch your IP address for $25/year so you can get the games live instead of on delay. The Brewers season ended on Sept 29th. I returned my cable box on the 30th. 

My last cable bill was $143/month. Next month it will be about $53. I call that a huge win to my pocket book 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

World of Beer Festival 2013 - Angel Style

Yesterday was the World of Beer festival sponsored by the Beer Barons of Milwaukee. It is a small, by choice, beer festival that boasts it is "By beer nuts, for beer nuts". The breweries in attendance were fairly standard but many brought out the rare and normally not available in this area beers. Lots of special casks and barrel aged treats to sample along with a whole section of meads.

The gathering crowd

The nice thing about the festival is that it is small and not a drunk fest like other festivals I've been to. One of the coolest things about the festival is that it had its own app. You could check off what beers you wanted to try. It then gave you a little map of where the beers were located. I would love to see this for other beer festival. It really helped me put a plan of attack in place.

 This year I went not as a participant but as an exhibitor. Barley's Angels (@BarleysAngelsMKE) is now a registered home brew club. We were invited to serve up our home brews on the patio with other local clubs.

Paula and Erin working hard. Don't you love the bright table cloth we had?

The weather was perfect. Warm and sunny. Erin and Paula arrived early to secure a prime spot on the patio. As women, we are naturally well organized and were so efficient that we were often mistaken for the check in table.

Paula is getting her taps ready

Erin is wicked with a mallet and a tap
We had seven different beers for folks to sample. A special cask of Natalie's British session ale, two versions of English Milds, a Wheat Ale, Black IPA, Hefeweizen and Paula's very popular cranberry cider called Candy Crush. Aptly named after the addicting game.

Natalie is tapping her cask of British Session Ale

The festival kicked off and our tent was always steady. There was even a crowd (three's a crowd, right?) waiting for the tapping of the cask at 2 pm. It was fun to talk with people about our beers while they sampled them.

With having four of us there, everyone had some time to go off and sample other beers. It was great to see Alex from Rustic Road, Scott from St. Francis Brewery and fellow Angels Meagan, Tallgrass and Joan, Oscar Blues. I didn't get to sample as many beers as I would have liked but made the most of the ones I did try. Some winners were Psuedo Sue from Toppling Goliath, Tounge Thai-ed from Blue Moon's Graffiti collection and the Fleur de Houblon from Ommegang

We got to meet lots of women and introduce them to Barley's Angels. I'm excited for our next meeting to see how many come out and enjoy a good beer with us.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

Over the past few weeks I have noticed some terrible driving around town. Are the drivers here just that dumb/ignorant/clueless or too self absorbed to actually drive decently??

I was coming home from the grocery store after work a couple weeks ago. Stopped at the light. Car in front of me stops. Sits there for about 10 seconds and then proceeds to drive thru the intersection. There was still traffic going the other direction. It is a miracle he didn't get hit. A couple blocks later another car did the same thing.

Brookfield is known for having a lot of speed traps set up along Capitol Dr. There will be five cop cars sitting in a spot and picking speeders off bing, bang, boom. The funny part is that they are sitting there in plain sight, in marked cars. Do people not see them sitting there??

Driving home from work seems to be the worst. Car will drive down Capitol Dr, turn their signal on and then proceed to drive past four or five driveways. Leaving people to wonder if or when they are going to turn.

Getting on the freeway is another tough task. Do drivers not know what the metered ramps mean?? Stop on red and when your light turns green, one car goes. It even says that on the signs. One car per green. People won''t stop or if they do, a couple cars will go at once. The worst part is that they were in such a hurry to go until it comes time to actually merge, then they fail to get up to speed before the end of the ramp.

Last night was another perfect example. I stopped at Subway on my way out to meet a friend for a drink. I have to do a left turn/half U turn to get in the driveway. Cars coming towards me had a red light. Do you think that any one of them would maybe stop before the driveway/median break to let me through. Nope! It was not like I was going to slow them down in any way.

Being in LA last fall, made me really realize how inconsiderate our drivers are. LA may have a lot of traffic but they were always driving smart. Using turn signals when turning or changing lanes, speeding up to merge, stopping at the crosswalk if you know you won't make it through an intersection before the light turns red. Nothing that is all that big of a deal but sure makes the other drivers around you less stabby.

So stop talking, texting, eating or whatever else you do in you car and just drive.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Things I've Learned today

It is barely noon and I've learned all sorts of interesting things today.

  1. The St. Francis recycling center does not take old garage door openers. 
  2. The St. Francis recycling center does take yard waste including grass clippings! I've lived here for 5 years now. How did I not know this? I always bag my grass clippings.
  3. I took my old garage door opener to the recycling place and I got $10 for scrap metal! Win
  4. Petco, where the prices on everything are crazy expensive, so I never shop there, price matches. Need a store ad or previous receipt.This will now save me the time driving over to Pet World and $18 on a bag of dog food. When you buy a 30 lb bag of dog food every month that adds up quickly. Now if they only sold the bird food in bulk.
  5. There is no 5 yet. But the day is early.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Being Sick

The last few days have been rough. It started on Tuesday evening when I ate dinner before a meeting after work. My stomach was all sorts of rumbly. Sounded like some dinosaurs where fighting in my belly.

On Wed, I worked from home because I was doing a guest brewing thing at Rustic Road Brewing in the evening (blog post coming soon). I had not been feeling great most of the day. Some GI issues but felt good enough to go. I had not eaten anything but an apple during the day and we stopped at Subway for dinner on the way to Kenosha. I only at half of my sub.

The guest brewing was fun but didn't drink a lot as my tummy was still wonky.

Thursday, I woke up and felt lousy. I was sooo cold and could not get warm. GI issues were still hanging around. I knew I had some stuff that only I could do for work and of course my laptop was going thru a Notes upgrade that took FOREVER. So I sat at my desk with a long sleeve tshirt, my heaviest hoodie on. I had a blanket wrapped around me and Rufus on my lap. I was still so cold. By time 4 pm rolled around, I was toast. I took the pups outside and grabbed my comforter, two blankets and my pillow and lay down on the couch.

When I got up at 8:30, I knew I was not good. I was still so cold. I took my temp and it was 101.7. I took the pups out and went back to sleep on the couch.

When I was a little kid and I would get a fever I would have hallucinations and night terrors. One of the dreams I only have when I have a fever. I dream that I a being chased by King Kong. I am in an Oak Creek subdivision where we used to live. But when I was little that was all forest and fields. I eventually escape him by crawling into a culvert.

I also have the sensation of lightning coming from my fingertips. It is weird, I know. What is even more bizarre is that I had the tv on while I slept on the couch. I had a dream that I started a fire on a house with the lightning coming from my fingers. Now I'm pretty sure that I must have heard while sleeping the reports of a house fire in West Allis (I'm not even going there). But is was most strange.

About 4 am I woke up just sweating to death. My fever had broken and I was now drenched. My GI issues were still going on but I no longer felt like a truck had run over me.I took the dogs outside and went back to bed.

I got up about 9 am and felt pretty good compared to the last few days. Stomach wasn't rumbly. I wasn't freezing and no more lightning from my fingertips. I actually feel hungry. Something that hadn't happened since Tues.

I don;t get sick very often. I'm glad it was fairly short lived.

Now to get prepared for BEER WEEK!!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Boys of Summer Are Back

Baseball is back!

Baseball means sun, warm weather and enjoying time outside once again. 

I was going to get rid of cable until I found out mlb.TV will only show out of market games live. I wouldn't be able to see the games live. Sure, I could listen to them on the radio and love listening to Uecker but I love watching the games on TV.

The past couple of years I only made it to 3-4 games a season. This year is different. I bought a ticket package. I'm kinda excited about the package we got. We start out with seats that are in Bernie's Terrace.  If the Brewers win you move up to a better section. By the last game, if they keep winning, you could be sitting in field level diamond box seats.

How fun would that be?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Little Free Library

As most of you may know, I am a big reader. I have always liked to read. My library card gets a workout. Now I find myself with more books to read than I have time. As a result, I pay lots of overdue book fines. I was so jealous of my friend, Renee, who was on vacation for three weeks and was able to read over a dozen books. I long for that kind of free time.

Lately, I've noticed that there have been lots of Little Free Libraries popping up around my neighborhood.

What is a Little Free Library? They are little structures that are placed in public places that house books. Their mission is to build more than 2510 libraries around the world and to promote literacy and the love off reading. They are operated on the "leave a book, take a book" principle. I love the concept that books are available for anyone to read and is never closed.

The libraries often are decorated in various themes or styles. Some look like the home where the library resides, some look like schools or churches. You can go to the website and see some them. If you go to the map page, most of the spots on the map have a picture of the library there.

Here is the library on the northwest corner of Oklahoma Ave and Lake Drive in Bay View

Lots of different books in this one

How much is that doggie in the window?
The kitten wants to keep an eye on things as well.

This one is on the southwest corner of Howard Ave and Lipton Ave in St. Francis.

Fairy tale themed

The castle and mermaid


Unicorns too!
I encourage you to find or even build a Little Free Library in your neighborhood. You never know what or who you may find there.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bock This

This post is a little, ok, very late in coming. Almost two weeks ago, Laura and I went up to Stevens Point for the weekend. Why Stevens Point you ask? Well, beer, duh! And a race, of course. You know I like to take run-cations.

Back last fall, I won a package from the Stevens Point Visitors center. It included a free hotel night at the Country Inn. When I seen that registration was opening up for the Point Brewery's annual Bock Run, I asked Laura to run with me. She agreed and we both signed up for the race when it went on sale at noon on New Year's Day. As always the race sold out in like 18 hours.

We decided to make it a beer weekend since the run was sponsored by a brewery and Laura is my assistant at Fartlek Brewing.

We left bright and early Saturday morning. The race wasn't until noon but we wanted to make sure we a) got a good parking spot and b) had plenty of time to get there and not be rushed. We made it up there by a little after 10. We hit up the gift shop at the brewery and bought a few things. I had only worn some yoga pants because my tights are way to warm to spend 3 hours in so I had to change. There were no real bathrooms nearby so I changed in the car. Which was now beginning to resemble a Ragnar van, minus the stink.

After we pick up our packets we go back to the car. As we are sitting in the car keeping warm, a woman decide to park in front of us in her Prius. In front of us was a home with a wheelchair ramp and the front was all a huge snowbank where they cleared off the sidewalk. After go back and forth several times, she now has her car on the snowbank at such an angle. the right side of her car is almost a good foot higher than the left. She gets out, looks at it, gets back in, goes back  forth a few more times. Not that it did any good. She gets out again and decides that it is good enough. Laura and I are cracking up at this. Laura decides that we are too close to the corner and pulls forward a foot or so. Cuz, you know?

Laura and I pre race.
It is almost race time so we head out to the party.

We line up and away we go. I had not run much since Disney 6 weeks before so my goal was to not die.

First mile 11:11, ran the whole time. Mile 2 12:10, still ran it all but a bit slower. The course is nice and flat. Mile 3 12:35. Took a short walk break, made the halfway turn at 29:50 walked thru the water stop. Mile 4 13:13 a few more walk breaks but it seems like it is going fast.. Mile 5: 13:12. I am almost done. I kept pace with another guy for the last mile and a half. We turn the corner and know it is only a block or so left. About 100 yards left the guy says "race ya to the finish" Game on. I ran my ass off the last few feet and clocked in a super speedy 9.1 mph. Total time 1:02:14. Laura was also super speedy and finished in a little over 53 minutes. She had a beer waiting for me at the finish.

Laura and I post race. Yes, we are smiling. We have beer!

My cousin and a couple of her friends had come down to hang out with us. She missed us crossing the finish line but had some great signs that we forgot to get pictures of. We forgot to tell her this was outside and muddy and it was decided that they would meet us back at the hotel later.Laura and I hung around for a few hours enjoying the party and several barley pops.

We weer hanging out at a table where a bunch of flyers were in boxes for other local races. We found it hilarious that there was one for breast feeding. Seriously?? Do they really need a fund raiser for that? I wanted to run it with two dolls attached to my boobs.

Breastfeeding 5k??

We are now out of beer tickets and decide to head back to the hotel and shower and warm up.

Coming soon: Beer tours

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Surviving Boot Camp

Remember when I last posted that I was going to do a boot camp?? Well, I did it! And I didn't die.

There were only four of us in the class with Tracey. It helped that I knew Laura and Nicole and "knew" Chelsey from twitter. I wasn't going to be surrounded by all these super fit people and I would feel like a lumbering ox.

We focused this week on lower body. I was scared that with the impending snow storm I was going to be so sore from the boot camp that I would not be able to shovel the snow on Friday.

We started out with a nice warm up of jumping jacks. I remember why I don;t normally do them. They hurts your boobs. The best sports bra in the world can't keep them in tight enough. Luckily the jumping jacks ended quickly.

We did some circuits that were fun and while challenging not so difficult that I couldn't keep up. Jumping on the bosu ball was freaky. Thought I was going to bounce right on my ass a couple times. It definitely got the heart rate going.

We ended it up with core ab work and stretching.

On Friday, the snow fell and I was able to shovel it. I then got lazy and used the snow blower for the rest. My butt muscles were a bit sore but once I got moving they were fine.

It was fun class and Tracey kept us all motivated and from feeling like we were dying. I am looking forward to next week and doing upper body stuff.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Comfort Zone

Tonight I was sitting in my chair with Rufus on my lap, reading the newspaper (Yes, I still get a real newspaper). I had The Biggest Loser on tv. I wasn't really watching it but had it on for more background noise.

This year they have kids on the show. I can't remember the girls name but the boy is named Bingo.

One of the girls (red team) wanted to be a cheerleader. The show arranged for her to practice with a squad. It looked like she was doing pretty good and had fun. In the interview she gave after practice she said that she had to step out of her comfort zone. She said it was scary but she did it and had a great time.

That struck something in me. I live a very safe and comfortable life.

For a couple years after hubby died, I learned to step out of my comfort zone and tried a lot of new things. I met lots of new people and had some fantastic experiences. While it was scary at first, I learned to embrace that fear and just jump right in. The water was always fine.

Tonight, I realized, that I have settled into the comfort zone and need to try some new things. Time to shake things up. I signed up for a boot camp class. Tracey has just started teaching the classes. She was promoting them this morning on Twitter and I did look and noticed that they were in Bay View. So I said "What the hell! I need to step out of my comfort zone and try something new". So I went over to the book of faces and clicked that Join button.

I'm excited, a bit nervous and hoping I don't die. Ok I know I won't die but I'm hoping I can still walk the next day.