Tuesday, September 23, 2014

life of a homebrew wife.

It occurred to me during the following interaction that I am a full fledged homebrew wife... Please, let me illustrate what I mean. 

Me, as I am washing the dishes after dinner: "Are you going to do a yeast starter soon? I can hand wash the Erlenmeyer flask if you're using it, otherwise I'll stick it in the dishwasher." 

Mad science lab or just our kitchen counter? 

As soon as the words "yeast starter" and "Erlenmeyer flask" fell effortlessly from my lips as I performed a seemingly innocuous task, I realized that I had crossed over from "person who knew a lil' sumpin sumpin about beer" to "Homebrew Wife." 

Now let me just take this moment to remind you of the roots of this little hobby. Once upon a time, we brewed our first batch of beer and it was so fresh and new and exciting! We watched the boil like little hawks, we stirred the grain with such care, we marveled at the hop addition! In just about a year, R has brewed (with some help from me and from others) 35 batches since that first recipe! And since that first Irish Red Ale, this hobby has grown into a major passion. And I realize that even though I'm not the brewmaster, I've gotten sucked in to the homebrew cult and as I caught myself speaking the lingo, I realized I was drinking the hoppy kool aid. 

Suddenly, I looked around my home with fresh eyes. The decor around our home is less Crate and Barrel and more barrel aged. 

Once in a while we do laundry in our main beer cellar. I've used arrows to help point out the things in our laundry room that are not laundry and are in fact beer. We have another beer cellar that I sometimes hang coats in and a third cellar that we also let guests sleep in. It's nice to be able to use our cellars for multitasking. However, when it comes to the brewing equipment, that gets housed in a room that non-homebrewing families refer to as a "garage". Our cars sleep in the driveway so as not to disturb the brew process. 

If you do find yourself as a guest in our production brewery/house, don't be alarmed at the gurgling and bubbling coming from behind the shower curtain in our guest bathroom. This is a slow week, so there is only one batch fermenting, but I have pulled back the shower curtain, ready to take a relaxing bubble bath, only to find up to three of these little fellas gurgling back at me. Cool dark places are a fermenting beer's favorite place to hang out, so unfortunately, my bubble baths get the boot while the beer gets the prime guest bath real estate. 

You might be thinking, what do they do with all this beer they make? Well, we drink it of course! (And it's seriously good.) But, as any Homebrew Wife knows, I had to draw a line in the grain when it came to storing the beer that was ready to drink. When I realized we had no room for milk and eggs in our fridge because of beer takeover, a second fridge was procured and everyone was happy. 

That doesn't mean the main fridge is off the hook. It houses yeast in varying states. Currently, this California Ale yeast is waiting patiently to become an IPA. And next to it is a yeast that has already realized it's destiny as a white wine blend. (Hey, we're not discriminators of fermented beverage in this home!) 

Even though it means my house looks a little like a package store and even though I have to balance around fermenting carboys to do a load of laundry and even though I have to sweet talk my husband into hauling out the fermentors so I can take a bubble bath, (which he does with no complaint because he's a good Brewmaster and husband) I gotta say I don't mind that of all the hobbies he could have picked up, he chose this one. 

At least the perks are delicious! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

then there was summer.

Once upon a time it was summer. And then it wasn't. Just like that. And all the plans I made to blog all the time and organize my makeup drawer and tackle the Pinterest projects on my to-do list were just a mere dream.

It was the kind of summer that makes me glad I abandoned all my plans for productivity, though, because it was basically awesome. I had a month off of work in between transitioning positions, and might I suggest everyone take a month off work? It's good for the soul. 

Instead of work and productivity and responsible adult affairs, (like the stack of papers at my desk right next to me) there were adventures. 

There was a trip to Virginia to visit my old Navy friends. There were long talks on couches and meeting friend's babies that were brand new and still smelling all baby-y. There was the old familiar scream of low landing jets and eating at my favorite lunch place and ordering my standard BLT with a slice of brie on it. There was a long drive back to Florida by myself, where I could freely put my jams on replay with no fear of judgement. 

There was a trip to Fort Walton Beach where my sister and her husband were vacationing for a week. There was day drinking and boogie boarding and seashell hunting. There was figuring out how to use my sister's GoPro and taking about a zillion action shots. There were sunsets and sandy sheets and laughing late into the night while we watched the stars come out over the Gulf. 

There was a girls only trip to Nashville with my two best ladies, who traveled from New York and Wisconsin just for some much needed catch up time. There was antique shopping and honky-tonks and very, very late nights. There were cocktails and outfit changes and belly laughter. There was catching up about babies and engagements and jobs and feeling the blissful comfort of being with girls who have known you since way back when. 

There was a trip home to Wisconsin that meant a long, two day drive. There were beer stops at out of the way, hole in the wall, beer meccas. There was a stop in South Carolina to climb the states highest point, Sassafrass Mountain, (which is something we do in this family). There were audiobooks and pit stops and the kind of calm that comes from doing nothing but driving long stretches of road with your man and your pup. 

When we got to Milwaukee, there were all my favorite things! There was my whole family in one place, because my nephews were in town. There was food and beer and more food and more beer. There was the sweet summer weather of the North, with warm days and cool nights, perfect for a fire or slipping on a sweater.  There were old friends, and aunts and uncles and cousins, and siblings, and parents, and we got to catch up with all of them over, you guessed it, food and beer. There was lots of porch time, which is pretty much my favorite way to spend time. 

There was even more porch time, which meant I was happy all week long. 

There was a five year anniversary! There was dinner and drinks and a trip down to the old boathouse that we got married at five years prior. There was long conversation about the last five years and who were were that say we said, "I do" and who we've grown into since then. There was toasting to many more years with this wonderful man.

There was my very first 5K back here in Jacksonville. There was a bridge run (the bridge in the background) which nearly killed me. There was a lot of sweating and heavy breathing and wishing I was on a porch somewhere instead. Then there was a finish line and a cheering husband and sense of accomplishment that gave me a high I've never felt before.  

And then there was Fall. 

And it's been back to work and back to routine and I like that, too. It was such a good summer that I can't help but be okay with the idea that I didn't cross off all the items on my ever nagging to-do list. 

There's always more time for that. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

catching my breath.

Sometimes in the race we call life, just like any other race, we need to slow down and take a break and catch our breath for a minute in order to regain our energy and keep moving. 

At least that's what I'm told. I try not to run if I can help it. 

My point is that I disappeared from blogging for a while. I needed to take a break and catch my breath in my real life. The last six months have felt pretty non-stop for me. I started a job before we'd even unpacked and felt very disconnected from my life in Virginia and my family in Wisconsin. I dove in to my life here in Florida and it feels like I'm finally coming up for air. 

I'm in the middle of a transition from one position at my agency to another and it means a little time off from work and then a shift to less hours. But what it really means is that I am catching my breath. 

And that means more structure and more things that I've neglected. Like answering text messages in a timely manner. And cleaning my house regularly. And blogging. 

So, hello again. It's nice to be back. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

twenty eight.

I turned 28 last week. 

It was a very low key day and from the outside looking in, you might think it was the most ordinary birthday around. But I felt very special and very much loved all day. 

I woke up to a sweet kiss and a whispered "Happy Birthday" from the one voice I never get tired of hearing whispered to me in the morning. 

I went to work, at a job I really love, and smiling faces popped into my office all day long to wish me a happy day, ask about my evenings plans, and even insist on buying me drinks after work. (To which, in 28 years, I have almost never said no to). 

My phone buzzed and dinged all day with texts from the people I love the most. My girlfriends, sprinkled all over the country and my family, sending me love from icy Milwaukee. Facebook wishes poured in all day, and each little mention, from a person I might not have seen in years or from people I've been missing dearly, made me smile. 

My coworkers sang to me and we shared cake and a card signed by everyone read, "You are a bright spot in the office!" We had drinks and I drove home with the windows down, which is a wonderful luxury in February and birthday present in itself. There were fresh flowers and a sushi date waiting for me when I got home.

I spent the day feeling loved and appreciated and valued. I think I'm lucky enough to have friends and family and a husband who make me feel that way a lot, but when it comes pouring in all day long, I just can't help but think I am the luckiest girl in the world. 

I think that's a great way to start my 28th year. 

And as I drove home with the windows down that evening, I thought that I would like to spend this year making those same people feel just as loved and valued and appreciated. Because if you're reading this and you are in my life and you are one of those people, (you know who you are) well, guess what? 

You are the best thing about my life. 

You girlfriends sprinkled around the country and you family sending me love all the way from the frozen tundra and you coworkers, past and present, who make me feel like a bright spot in the office, and especially, you early morning whisperer whose voice I never get tired of waking up to? You are the ones who got me through 27. The tough year. The long year. 

And you are the reason I'm celebrating 28. The new year. 

Thanks for all the birthday love, this year and every year. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

forty (messy) hours.

My desk. Corner office, suckas!
(It's literally in the corner of someone else's office. Just livin' that non-profit life...)

I'll give you one chance to guess who got herself a job and has been putting in 40 hours a week like a real grown up...

That's right, friends, your girl here has been working hard for the money and that is why the blogging has been spotty. Before I tell you what I'm up to, can we all agree that working full time is not for the faint of heart?! In Virginia I worked two days a week. Two. Glorious. Days. I had all the free time in the world! NOW, I get home at the end of the day and I have just enough energy left to pull on some yoga pants and lift a bottle glass of wine to my lips. After that, I am done-zo. So if you work 40 hours a week and come home with enough energy to parent your children or clean your home or work on a Master's degree or do some Pinterest crafts, you are my hero and you have my undying respect and admiration. Seriously. If you want to come over, I'm happy to pour you a glass of wine then stare catatonic-like at you because that's probably all I'll be able to muster on a weekday. (And lets be real, if you come over on the weekend, don't expect to see me before noon or in pants ever.) 

Once upon a time, we moved to Jax and I was super anxious about finding a job. Well, I didn't need to be because only a week after arriving, I met a friend of a friend who got me hooked up with an awesome opportunity. I won't give out all the details because that's just bad internet practice, but I WILL say that I am a Project Coordinator for a sexual violence prevention program and also a victim advocate for survivors of sexual violence. 

It's funny. When we were getting ready to move, I prayed a lot that God would lead me to a job that spoke to my deep desire to work with women. I think though in my head, I meant working with women in a comfortable and clean kind of way, like leading a college women's ministry or working with young girls in an urban after school setting. (Although, to be fair to the people who do "clean, comfortable" work like that, working with people in any setting is messy. So I was really just naive all around.) I prayed and prayed that God would just put me wherever he wanted me, but I think deep down I really meant, "Where I wanted me." 

Then this job came up and I took it knowing it would be hard and it's pretty much the opposite of clean, comfortable work. It's ugly and messy and disheartening and frustrating and unfair and it makes me want to rage about the injustice and violation of women and men, boys and girls in the most visceral way you can violate someone. Not clean or comfortable at all. 

And somewhere, in my rage and frustration and in the messy, I know I'm right where I belong. 

Because, not to be too Sunday morning about this, but Jesus is in the ugly and the messy and the disheartening and the frustrating and the unfair. And he weeps with us over the injustice and the violation of women and men, boys and girls, who bear his image, who are his precious sons and daughters. And he's there to heal.

Sometimes we need to be there in the ugly and the messy, working 40 long, exhausting hours, instead of the clean and comfortable work we think we'd be perfect for. 

So that's where I am. Humbled and honored to be a part of an organization that takes on the messy and just glad to be right where I belong. 

And just for the record, where I am (literally) is also exhausted and in yoga pants with a wine glass in hand. Just keeping it real over here. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

out of the box.

If you have ever moved, you know my recent blogging absence has been brought to you courtesy of having my life in boxes up until now. There are still lots of parts of my life in boxes. But the internet part of my life is up and running and that's what counts. 
We packed up and got out of Virginia in the second week of December and since then our life was pretty much a haze of driving, suitcases, holidays, more driving, more suitcases, and then a solid week and half unpacking until we couldn't see past the packing paper mountains. 


More driving. I was probably two 5 Hour Energy's in at this point. (10 Hour Energy?) He's not impressed. 

Unpacking. Ugh.
Then my sister and my brother in law came to visit us for a week and we hid everything in the garage and just pretended we were the kind of put together people who unpack and decorate their whole house in two weeks. 

They left this weekend and we are finally feeling mostly settled in. 

Now that my life is mostly out of boxes and I actually have a place to sit and type, I will get around to taking some pictures this week and posting them for all the curious folks. I still have a picture here and there that need to go up before it gets the internet reveal stamp of approval. But I will say that we are super happy in our new home and we are settling in quite nicely!

But until then, I will leave you with this picture, which is the essence of our new Florida lifestyle. The best part of our house is the french doors that open up to the "lanai", a fancy Florida word for a screened-in porch, and we've all taken to enjoying the fact  that we can have the doors wide open in January, especially our little sun-bather.