I’m Still Here

Hello Dear Readers, I just wanted to drop a quick line to confirm that all is still well and I do still exist even though it been a while since my last post. No major catastrophe or anything has occurred (of which I’m quite thankful even though that might make for a zinger of a blog post). No, it’s just been a case of the busyness of life overtaking the amount of time to do anything other then tend to mundane necessities such as going to work and taking the cats to the vet. As a result, this poor blog has become like a sad puppy waiting for its owner to come home. But the owner will come home soon and give plenty of belly rubs…er posts, I promise. For now however, it’s time for bed with me as my ability to type complete and comprehensible sentences diminishes with each second.

Off to go count some sheep!


I didn’t have enough mental energy or time to come up with an illustration for this post but did come across this somewhat equally adorable pic I made for a countdown in one of my old school animations…there’s no sheep involved but it still seemed appropriate.




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The brew saga continues

It’s been a week since I brewedย for my German-style wheat beer and put the wort in a fermenter. Since that time, the yeast has been diligently chowing down on sugar and turning it into CO2 and alcohol while the fermenter itself sits nice and cozy in the laundry room. (I use the laundry room because it’s both one of the darkest and warmest spots in the condo – I tried the bedroom closet when making my first home brew and my beloved husband was none too pleased when it started smelling like a brewery in there).

The recipe I’m using is from zymurgy magazine and it just calls for moving onto bottling if things look good or letting the wort stay in the the fermenter for another week. The first recipe I did also included moving my wort into a glass carboy and letting it condition for another week or two before bottling. While this extra step is not a part of the zymurgy recipe, I’ve found it’s one of these personal preferences that lends itself to a bit of disagreement among home brewers as to whether it’s absolutely essential or should never be done. This step also also often called “secondary fermentation” which gets even more people’s knickers in a bunch because the actual fermentation show has pretty much taken a bow and exited stage left by the time you move the wort to another container. Rather than list off the reasoning held sacred and dear to both the the pro-secondary and anti-secondary camps, here’s a quick link to two folks that have done just that: The Great Secondary (Fermentation) Debate by Dave Carpenter and Secondary Fermentation, Pros and Cons by Al Folsom. (Google will provide a plethora of other examples of course but these were two articles that helped me). I was pretty happy with using a secondary on the first go and figured I’d give it another shot with this brew as well.


First step, take off the fermenter’s lid and behold the wort (that icky looking ring around the top is just the some of the gunk left over after the yeast had its party – and one of the reasons why I’m a fan of transferring to a secondary).


Nice clean and sanitized glass carboy ready to go!


Since the wort needs to siphon into the glass carboy that means the primary fermenter gets to sit on a pedestal above it.

Once everything’s in place, the only thing left to do is get that auto siphon to do its magic.


One end into the primary…


And the other in the secondary. There was an extra picture my husband took that included more of the auto siphon itself but that also included too much me at a horrible angle so I opted not to use that – this one as my lovely gray slipper in the bottom right corner though so some of me is included.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚


And now we have a glass carboy full of worty goodness and ready to go in the laundry room!

For readers that have been with this blog for a while, I know it seems like we’ve left stories and odd characters behind (though one has to admit that yeast can be quite a unique character itself). I promise we’ll get back to stories that don’t involve fermentation soon!


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At Least I Didn’t Kill the Yeast

That’s a rather Dr. Seuss sounding title I suppose but it pretty much sums up my home brewing experience this weekend. In the last post, I mentioned that I’d hopefully get around to starting my next (and second ever) home brew if the necessities of life allowed. After learning the vet clinic I’d planned to go to actually closed early for the upcoming holiday and my work appointment had to be rescheduled, it turned out I actually had the time – hooray! This still somehow resulted in starting late at night but who wants to run a hot gas stove during the sweltering day anyway?

Like the first go, I got a pot of filtered water boiling and added in some malt extract…



Bubble bubble toil and trouble…well, hopefully not!

Then tossed in some hops…


Liberty hopsย  –ย  what better hops to brew with on 4th of July weekend?

I also mentioned before that one of the major differences between last time and now was the yeast. In the first go round, I used dry yeast that could just be prepped while the wort cooled down. Liquid yeast, which was to be the star of this show, has to be refrigerated before use. This is where common sense eluded me and apparently my memory as well because I swear I read the glass tube’s instructions like any other diligent home brewer and remembered thinking I could just take that puppy out during the cooling phase and be good to go. I thought this the entire time I cleaned and sanitized equipment and all through brewing the malt and hops. Then I took my yeast out of the fridge while the wort started cooling…and realized the directions actually say to take it out 3-6 hours before use!

This quickly presented a rather major problem as obediently following these instructions meant my star of the show would not be ready for the stage until 3am at the earliest. Upon realizing my blunder, I did what any slightly panic-stricken home brewer would do and searched through online forums to see if anyone else had been just as silly and what they’d done about it. The general peanut gallery advice I gained warned of the yeast not working and potential “off” flavors if the 3-6 hours instructions weren’t followed. One post suggested putting the yeast in some warm water to help wake it up a bit faster and so I gave my little glass vial a bath.


This “speed up” attempt was not a great idea either but in the wee hours of the morning, desperate times call for a glass of lukewarm H2O.

Along with this boo boo came the hunt for a thermometer – again something I thought I was good to go with up until I desperately needed it. When I went to check the temperature of my cooling wort, I noticed something very odd about my instrument of choice…it started at 100 degrees Fahrenheit/40 degrees Celsius. I had sanitized and attempted to check my home brew’s temperature with our candy thermometer! Sigh…maybe late night brewing was not such a grand plan.

I searched for the thermometer I used last time but firmly believe by this point that it has grown legs and run off somewhere. Maybe it had dreams of becoming an actress in New York or something. Godspeed little thermometer and good luck.

This obviously presented another conundrum as yeast tends to be very picky about wort’s temperature and, like Goldilocks, needs that “just right” range of things to be happy and content with the world. If the wort is too cold, the yeast will say “hump, I’m going back to bed, it’s too cold to work!” and nothing will happen. If the wort is too hot, the yeast will die (and no one wants zombie yeast roaming around). I did consider running out to Walgreens or some other place that might be open after midnight and grabbing a digital thermometer off the self but also feared that my wort would become too cool in the time it took for me to go out and get one. I won’t go into all the thermometer fun that occurred but suffice to say, I remained thermometerless.ย ย  :O

My wonderful husband (who is quite often the one between us possessing more common sense and calm in such situations) pointed out that we had the condo’s thermostat set to about the temperature suggested on the yeast’s vial. So using the ultra scientific and accurate method of touching the sides of my fermenter to feel if it felt room temperature (and hence, in that 70-75 degree range), I pitched my almost-but-not-quite-ready-according-to-the-label yeast into what I hoped was truly not a death bed for it. As I put the airlock in and headed off to bed, I didn’t know what the fate of those little yeasties truly was.

But then I woke up this morning to this…

While not reason to throw a party just yet, bubbling in the airlock is what we want to see because it means the yeast is doing its job and belching up CO2 as result. This is also is a very good sign that I did not murder the innocent vial of yeast.

It remains to be seen, however, if this batch will be a success or prove me to be more of a mad scientist this round.


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Time for the next brew

This weekend we had friends stop by the condo for a quick minute and then we all piled into a car to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was a great night but of course I went into my usual semi-neurotic mode of cleaning things up before they got here. Carpet cleaned and even treated it with one of those perfumed dirt cleaner uppers beforehand. Toilet beautiful enough to drink out of (though if you ask one of our cats, that’s always true). Tables, while not entirely spotless, were at least devoid of their usual amount of random litter. So when our friends stopped by for that quick wee moment, I felt pretty good about how the place looked – except I’d completely forgotten to remove the small plethora of empty beer bottles from the living room and kitchen and my efforts ended up presenting myself as a very tidy lush. Sigh.

While I am very much a fan of carbonated fermented yeast and hops, those bottles actually serve a much higher purpose than presenting themselves as an unintendedย  eyesore. You see those many bottles will, hopefully within a month or so, become glass abodes for my next home brew. (Yeaaaahhhhh! Let’s all do a happy dance! Come you, yes you – dance!)

Since my first try at home brewing yielded results that were surprisingly drinkable, I’m giving it another go! I’ll be going “by the book” again like I did with the last one as I don’t want to get too experimental until I’ve got a few successful batches under my belt but there’s definite differences already. For one, this recipe will be for german-style wheat beer rather than the simple ale I made the first time and instead of dry yeast, I’ll be using liquid yeast housed in what looks like a test tube.


And the bottles? Well, they got themselves a good scrubbing this weekend.


Soaking and getting off labels from a few commercial bottles.


Each and every one gets a good scrub with the brush and then a trip in the dishwasher.

Of course, before bottling I’ll need to brew my lovely wort and fermenting will need to take place. Unless cat vaccinations and other life requirements deem otherwise, that just might be next weekend.


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Stepping Out for a Cure!

Normally I try to sleep in a bit on Saturday mornings if at all possible since the rest of the week tends to involve an alarm clock that always goes off way too early. This Saturday, however, there was no time for being a sleepy head because 8am involved attempting Zumba and following it up with a 1 mile walk. Is this some new weekend exercise routine? Oh no, much bigger than than – today was Hiking & Hotcakes for Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma!


Hiking & Hotcakes is an awareness and research fundraising event held by the Georgia Chapter of The Scleroderma Foundation. Never heard of Scleroderma? I never had either until a couple years ago when I met a co-worker affected by it. Scleroderma is a chronic, autoimmune disease for which there currently is no cure. To learn more about it, click here.

This is the second year I’ve walked on my former co-worker’s team. She and her team raised over $3,000 for Scleroderma research in this year’s event, of which I can only claim to have aided in a very small portion. The Georgia Chapter’s goal was to raise $30,000 and I learned that the total by event’s end was over $41,000!


The Team Jenkins banner – an awesome team with a doubly awesome lady leading it!

The weather could not have been more perfect (no too hot with lots of cloud cover and even a nice breeze). Of course, both those running in the 5k and less athletic participants such as me who did the 1 mile walk needed to do some sort of warm up and that called for Zumba! I found out while trying to do Zumba for the first time in my life that I utterly lack any rhythm or coordination but I’m pretty sure everyone was having too much fun to notice.


I took this photo while taking a break from almost whacking someone. Fortunately, no event participants were injured from my killer dance moves.


The walk itself was great and full of conversation and cheering for the other runners/walkers as they passed by and made their way to the finish line. And after the walk, we were all treated to pancakes and sausage during the awards ceremony. Walking for a great cause and pancakes – what better way could there be to start off Saturday?

Sadly, I left with no good pictures of the actual walk or the awards ceremony because I was busy walking and devouring pancakes (at the respectable times for each of course). Then again, such pictures can only be so interesting anyway unless the pancake has a smiley face or something. But hey, over $41,000 towards finding a cure for Scleroderma? That is definitely smiley face worthy!

๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  ๐Ÿ™‚



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A Tar Heel Weekend

One of my nephews graduated high school on Friday, which beckoned me back home up to NC this weekend. I began my journey at the absolute stupidest time of 4:30pm on Thursday (I know, I knoooow – that was not the initial leaving time I’d planned) and arrived at my sister’s a little after midnight. I drove back today, with thankfully much less traffic to contend with, and am still in a fun state of trying to sort out where I am in the space time continuum. I guess traveling through three states in four days will do that.


Even though it was a whirlwind weekend of sorts, it was an awesome one. I got to hold my great niece for the first time since she was born almost a year ago.ย (Yes, great niece – does that make me old? No, it just means I’m a great aunt no matter what I do). I’m not sure she quite knew what to think of me since the first facial expression I received was “fart face” but I got a few smiles before leaving too.

Along with some much needed quality time with a whole gang of other amazing people, I also got a break from what’s become the daily sights of just day-to-day life. Now mind you, Marietta, GA has plenty of its own charm and so does the urban jungle of Atlanta just a short drive away from where I live. But they’ll never be a match for Climax, Siler City, and Silk Hope, NC. This is the land of family and the type of landscape I’ve known since birth. (Yes, Georgia has pretty farm land as well – but no one I share genes with lives there so NC wins).


Not my photo but an actual pic of the farmland in Silk Hope (thanks Google image search). This is pretty much what all of the area where I visited looks like – so pretty!

Of course before I left the the Tarheel state, I had to make one mandatory stop and get an edible souvenir. You see, my husband and I only hail one form of barbecue as being real barbecue and that is the wonderful Eastern North Carolina vinegar-based style. This has not been easy to come by in Georgia, which favors that thick and sugary sauce. And so, before my couple hundred mile trek down I-85, I swung by Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q and grabbed two pounds of delectable happiness.

Sadly for out-of-towners like me, Smithfield’s is ONLY found in NC – thank goodness for coolers and ice packs to keep future dinner safe and yummy for the long ride home!

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Ah, Nature…and Graffiti.

On Saturday, one of my friends posted on Facebook that they happened to be hiking at a park further north from me. My first thought was “well it’s really nice day for walk/hike/sojourn through the woods, bet they’re having fun.” My second thought was “wait a minute, it IS a really nice day for a walk and I have a walking trail just a few minutes drive away – why am I sitting inside and staring at a computer?” And so, off I went to….


If you happen to Google this place, you’ll find there’s a couple different names it goes by, including Bob Callan. I just go by what the sign tells me it is.

Now for anyone planning to venture here, this is a pretty typical paved trail with nice little benches spaced about and even a spot with wooden tables for a picnic. Like any good trail, there are a few unpaved mini ones shooting into the woods for exploring off-road but you’re bound to see some up close and personal nature no matter which way you go – like, say, a momma duck and her itty bitty, itty bitty ducklings swimming in a row.


Okay, so since this pic was taken with my camera on max zoom, it was not actually an up close and personal encounter…but I’m sure momma duck preferred it that way.

However, what I noticed as soon as I entered the park this time was not the nature around me but something equally colorful – my eyes zoned in on graffiti. I blame this first example that greeted me before I went under one of there bridges the trail meanders through…



Considering how tricky it probably was to get in position on that wall, this person was obviously very committed to their craft.

It’s odd but I’ve come to this trail a couple times and never really taken notice but once I spotted this first one, well, it became my unintended mission to seek out more. And I find I did – sometimes it just took a closer examination…



At first glance, just a nice scene of the Chattahoochee River running under a bridge.


But a closer look reveals a snake doodle and…some other artsy stuff.


When you take a closer gander at this part of the trail you’ll find that…



And sometimes the graffiti was a bit more easy to spot…


This seems to be a more philosophical, “fill in the blank” sort of approach.

Directly to the left of the “Sometimes In Life” was a spotty cover up job with black spray paint in effort to conceal what the lighter-colored paint underneath revealed as a penis. For obvious reasons, that one did not get included here but makes me wonder if both had the same…um, artist?

Fortunately, there were no other potential X-rated creations – but somewhat unique nonetheless…


There were actually a lot of cover up jobs present but even these were sometimes used for artistic license…like this jolly snowman for example.


On these pillars there were three questions: “Will you go to prom with me?”, “I can change will you give me another chance?” and “Will you marry me?” I assume this was the same person asking all three…though if so, question two begs the question of whether one or three should be a yes.


Just so no – never go to prom with anyone too lazy to write out the work WITH.

Unfortunately for me during my walk back to the parking lot, I had not worn my good walking shoes for this expedition. Oh no, I wore just my regular ol work shoes. Go me.


Yep, that’s my pasty white legs there. The white spots on my non-trail-appropriate shoes show that I had least had the foresight to wear bug spray. The odd red and white “ball” I’m standing on is a mystery – just another bit of graffiti that filled my heart with glee.

I realize these highlights of mine may not seem to depict the trail as being a great place to bike, walk, or run (the latter of which I would only do if chased), but it really is a nice trail. Keep in mind I was sort of seeking out the ugly to some degree. That being said, beauty can sometimes be a matter of perspective. For example, take this beautiful pic I took of a flower near the entrance…


Hey, looks like we’re at the botanical gardens or something, right?

An entrance which happens to be the in middle of a bunch of construction and so a bigger shot may not look so pretty…

Flower Circled

Nope, we’re not. The flower circled in yellow is the exact same one in the other photo.


And besides, even nature got into the graffiti act…


Oh so you’re gonna put some weird candy cane looking thing next to the woods? Well how about a little rust on that?

So – a little nature spotting, a snowman, and pleadings for second chance under a bridge. All in all, I’d say I had a pretty good walk. Though I could have done without the barely concealed penis on the wall. Avert your eyes children and go watch the baby ducks!


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Nothing says love like firing photon torpedoes at your sweetie.

My husband and I are both fans of Star Trek (though I suppose I can’t call myself a true Trekkie since my interest is almost solely devoted to Star Trek TNG – except for episodes of Deep Space Nine that included the Dominion). As further proof of his higher rank in fan status he recently bought Star Trek Attack Wing which, as the makers of the game proclaim is “an exciting, fast-paced miniatures battle game set in the Star Trek Universe.”ย Here’s a link to WizKids webpage for it. (Dominion and a few other factions not mentioned there because they were added later).



There’s a surprising number of game pieces involved in intergalactic ship battles…I guess I never quite realized that all these years when watching the show.


Tonight he talked me into playing and it was admittedly fun…even though my ship got blown to smithereens. He played as Riker commanding the U.S.S. Hathaway, a Federation ship, while I played as one of my favorite Dominion pals Keevan, commanding the 5th Wing Patrol Ship.


My hubby’s game piece – sitting pretty and preparing to kick my butt.


My game piece in all its glory. Let’s face it, the Dominion ship looks cooler.

One of the aspects in moving your ship is that each player gets a little dial like the one on the right in the above picture and everyone reveals the direction they’ve chosen at the same time. During me and hubby’s game, there was a comically awkward moment in which we chased each other in a circle. We ended that game of tag by finding ourselves on a collision course (which fortunately for all imaginary crew members involved, only meant we put ourselves back in weapons range).


Okay, so now I’m gonna take a sharp right turn and looks like your going to go a little to the left…hmmm, let’s just get up close and personal why don’t we?

Alas, my shields and weapons were no match and the Federation won. But I’m okay with that because as much I dig the Dominion, I’m well aware they’re not the good guys in the Star Trek universe.

Sorry Keevan – guess you should have picked a fight with the Romulans.

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Mr. Stickman saves the day

Hello wonderful readers!

I initially had the grandiose plan of a stop motion animation with some adorably awesome characters to introduce you to for today’s post – grandiose both due to lack of time and also finding there are a few kinks to work out. After a little trial and error, it became quite clear that the actual stop motion I’d envisioned is for a future post. This prophetic moment was not very helpful since it now left me with no animation and no post.

Ah, but it appears my sentimental pack rat tendencies have come to the rescue. Once upon a time when I was just starting to tinker with animation, I had three packs of tracing paper at my disposal, a webcam, and my trusty Compaq desktop to may my very first test of sorts. The webcam is no longer usable, my trusty Compaq has long since bitten the dust, but I still have those three packs of tracing paper and the original video I made of that first animation.


This pic was taken today but shows the three tracing paper pads that proudly withhold some of the first scribblings I ever did.


I used each page underneath to match up what my next drawing should be and placed a white sheet of paper under the tracing paper as I took a picture with the webcam.


In a way, I used the tracing paper pads as a flip book. Pics here show the left page both before (top) I turned it and after (bottom) for my little guy’s swaying back and forth.


Small problemo in just posting that ancient animation though – my original video was saved as a Windows Media Video File which doesn’t talk too well with WordPress. So, I did a little tickering to get it transformed into a GIF and…partially succeeded. No matter how much I tried to resize and whatnot, the full video was just simply too beefy to become a single GIF without getting memory complaints from my conversion program. I know part of this is may be because I wasn’t just taking pictures of each page when I made that animation, I also captured video of me turning pages and setting things up for the next shot. Rather than go all or nothing, I finally succumbed to just splitting the final GIF into two portions – which is what you see below. The top GIF (which starts with the title “Sticks” and plays until I start tracing over Mr. Stickman with a sharpy) is the first portion and the bottom GIF (which starts with Mr. Stickman holding two red sticks for his house and ends shortly after he starts building it) is the second portion. Unfortunately, Mr. Stickman does not finish his house because this animation stops on the last page of tracing paper I had available at that time (150 pages in total) but I may revisit one day and help him finish.






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Farewell to one of my old friends from NC

Today I said farewell to a dear friend that I met back in June of 2009. A true friend, one who helped me move from North Carolina to Georgia and didn’t mind the two confused cats meowing in the back seat. A friend who listened to all the same radio stations and music I do. A friend who knew all my favorite places to go and always made sure I made it safely home.

Except for recently when my friend started having tantrums on a regular basis and particularly this past Friday when they left me stuck and helpless in the middle of a busy road. It’s okay friend, I forgive you…but you have run your course and far exceeded your blue book value. Today, I say farewell to you 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer.


I took a picture at the repair shop where we said goodbye.

Considering the amount of miles I put on that poor thingย  (from just barely over 100,000 when I took ownership to just shy of 300,000 when we parted ways), my Lancer did a pretty fair job in my book. I kept up with all the basic duties of a responsible car owner, like oil changes, but in the end it was simply no spring chicken and staring to show its age.

My husband and I had already started chatting about how we needed to start preparing to put the Lancer out to pasture when I picked the car up from its most recent visit to the shop on Thursday afternoon. Then Friday morning, I had suspicion we might be at that point when the check engine light popped on followed by an immediate and then total lack of acceleration. The car died on a section of East-West Connector that is a very, very bad place to be completely dead in the water because it’s one of those sections where everyone speeds along and stopping abruptly is a little challenging. Since there were two cars that actually did have to slam on their brakes and skid to a stop, it’s fortunately possible. If it had not been for the super sweet and awesome woman who’s home I had happened to break down near and two equally awesome guys who helped push my car out of the danger zone, this post would be about the accident I was involved in instead of just a farewell to my car.

But ah dear, dear, Lancer you will be missed even though our last day together involved you taking a nap in one of the worst places ever. And though I will certainly have a new friend take your place (because our city’s transit sucks), you will always have a special place in my heart.


One last look…sniff, sniff. Farewell old friend!

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