Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hangin' with Friends for the Holidays

It was great to have a few days off around Christmas this year. Ryan and I managed to catch up with several friends over the past week. It has been lots of fun.
This is Greggie and Bo and Mandy at Buffalo Wild Wings last Sunday after the Colts game.
My friend Mandy.....don't you just love her cute little dimples?!?!?!?
Ryan and Greg with their designated driver :-)

OK I just realized these are out of chronological order, but I have had a hard time with these pictures, so you'll just have to deal with it...............

Anyway, this is Nick, Ryan and Jamie in Indy Saturday night. We went down there to spend some time with a bunch of people, and stayed at Nick and Ashley's.
Ryan and I both thought the other one brought the bottle of wine for me, so TeShannah, Ashley and me all had to take a quick trip to the liquor store. I was definitely taking advantage of not having to be the DD for anyone, and not being on call for a I HAD to get my bottle of wine!!!!!!

I'm pretty sure the guys in the liquor store were ticked when we walked in at about 11:57. They closed at midnight. TeShannah had to buy "Sunday beer" for Matt, so she's trying to scoop up two thirty packs of Busch and a bottle of something for herself, and out go the lights. I took that as our queue to get up to the cash register. They weren't exactly friendly....and didn't find it humerous at all that TeShannah had just broken one of the packs of beer she was carrying. Give the poor girl a break....I mean, she WAS carrying 60 Busches!!!!!!! We all thought it was really funny.
Back at Nick and Ashley's, TeShannah and Ryan posed for a quick photo.
This is our good friend, Jamie. He works at the prison at Grissom, and is considering a job in Afghanistan to help train their guards at their prisons. I am really worried about him taking this job, but he is pretty pumped about it. Saturday was the first I've heard of any of this, so hopefully he won't be leaving any time soon, if he even goes at all. It was fun hanging out with him. It seems like we hardly ever see him, and he lives closer than most of our friends!!!

On Christmas Eve,Ryan and I partook in our annual tradition of opening one gift. After that, a few friends came over to play some games. We played the Mexican Train Game and Apples to Apples. Here's Cindy with her stocking right before she opened it. I LOVE making stockings.....I think I gave away at least ten this year.This is Remmy. He belongs to our neighbor, Marcus. He is a big fat English bulldog. Looks mean as hell, but he's actually just a big pussy cat. He came over to get some Christmas goodies too.
Remmy was thrilled to wear these reindeer antlers for our entertainment on Christmas Eve.
This is Marcus, Cindy, Ryan and me. Marcus lives right next door to us, and Cindy used to live across the street. Now, she lives just down the road from Ryan's parents. We really miss having her in West Middleton with us, but we have amnaged to keep in touch pretty well.

After spending a little time at home, Clint called us and asked if we would come meet him at The Kozy. By that time, Cousin Aaron had come over, so we all hopped in the car and drove up to the bar to see Clint. I was really surprised by how many people were out partying on Christmas Eve. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone. I ran into several people I hadn't seen in a long time, so that made for a wonderful start to Christmas.
next blog entry: family photos from Christmas.....but not today. The computers here at work have gremlins :-)

Christmas lights at We Care Park

Mom and I took a little cruise through We Care Park just before Christmas. It was awesome!!! I can't believe the amount of lights these people put out. It's really an awesome thing that our community does this. Aside from the We Care auction, and raising money here at the park, I think it is very heart warming to know we have a community willing to open up and decorate their yards for us to gawk at. Personally, it would drive me insane having people trucking through my alley for two months through the winter. BUT, it is all in the spirit of Christmas, so who can blame them? Thank God there are still people out there with enough Christmas spirit left to do this for us.

Even though it is a short ride, it is absolutely amazing. There is Christmas music playing over several loud speakers. I always roll my windows down and crank the heat up on high so I can listen. They have a path so that people can also walk through the park if they want to....another thing that would drive me insane......but, I'm sure glad they do it!!!! It blows Highland Park's display out of the water!!!
Mom loves these little displays with moving figures inside them. She says they remind her of Christmas when she was a kid. They used to have these displays set up in most of the store windows in Germany for the holidays. She also said that most people don't decorate the outside of their homes at Christmas in Germany, only the inside. The outdoor decorations are more for businesses and advertising. I thought that was interesting.
It's always good to spend some quality time with Mom around Christmas. I feel like we have made up for a lot of lost time over the last few years. We do things together that we might have done when I was a kid if she had been able. Now, I take her to do all the things I wish we could have done together when I was younger........better late than never, right?

Whammer Ale

Well, Ryan cracked the Whammer Ale this past Saturday for Dad's birthday. I think it turned out alright myself. Even though I'm not a big beer drinker, I thought it tasted pretty good. I was proud of him.

The only thing Ryan was hoping for was that it was drinkable.....mission accomplished!!!! He kept one case out of the two they brewed. I'm pretty sure most of the guys in the family who wanted to try it got to. Except for Brent.....sorry "B" you missed out!!!!

I got Ryan a recipe book for 101 different kinds of beer. Any requests??? We just might be able to brew up some original brews once we perfect our craft. This is fun!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Brewin' Again

This past Sunday was another fun day for Ryan and Matt!! They started the next step of their brewing process. They started out by cleaning the bottles they would soon be filling. They had to mix up some kind of cleansing concauction so soak the bottles in first.
Matt is preparing to rinse the bottles.
Here, Matt is rinsing the bottles in the cleanser, and next they will go on the bottle tree.
This is the bottle tree. It is used to let the bottles drip dry so there is no residue or lint from using anything else.
This is the glorious Ale Pail that has been sitting in the garage for two weeks. It has a small valve on the top that has been letting carbon dioxide escape while the fermentation process was happening.

Be careful if you ever get into my just might drown........................

This was an exciting part of the day.........after two weeks, we were finally able to open the bucket and see what had been going on in there all this time!!! ......and this is what we found!!!!! eewwwwww......looks nasty to me!!!!!

I thought it smelled awful, but Ryan and Matt thought it was awesome. It burned my nose and my eyes.

They siphoned the beer from the first bucket into this bucket to get rid of some of that junk floating around in there. Then, they siphoned it a second time for the same reason.

After they sucked all the brew out, this is what was left. It stunk. But, once again, the boys thought it was awesome!!!!This is the second siphoning run. After this, they added the sugars to carbonate it.
TeShannah and I prowled in and out of the garage all day. Every once in awhile, we decided to help a little. TeShannah handed the boys the bottles when they were ready to fill.........
This is Matt's ginormous hand squeezed into a normal man-size glove, filling the bottles. The tube the beer flows through has a valve on the end that blocks the flow unless there is pressure on it. So, when you push, the beer flows. When you let up, it stops.Once each bottle was filled, we had to cap it.
This is the tool that is used to hold and compress the caps. It holds them with a little magnet.
You just set the cap on top of the bottle and compress each side. It's that simple.
I even got my hands in on that part. The deal is, I have to drink the beer I capped.........we'll see :-)
I thought I had to push real hard....that's what I'm doing here. But really, I could have broken the bottle doing it that way. Luckily, we only lost one bottle out of two cases because of that.
TA DA!!!!!!!!!!
So there you have it.....the first official West Middleton Whammer Ale will be ready to drink on December 22nd. I'll let you know how they did!!!!!

Santa Claus is Coming to West Middleton

Saturday morning, Santa Claus came through West Middleton. He always comes to visit us on the fire truck for the Harrison Township Fire Department. They drive him around and he throws candy to everyone. He even threw a bone to Mickey who was out on his leash when they went by.....Good ol' Santa!!!
My tree is officially up now. It took me longer this year to get motivated to put it up for some reason. Now that it's up, I wish I would have done it sooner. I love sitting in front of it at night with Ryan. We just cuddle up on the couch with the puppies and stare at it. It seems a little silly, but I really look forward to that every night.
Of course, the puppies are in the holiday spirit too!!! Delilah has been sporting this sweet little Christmas dress for almost a month now....She loves it!!!
Jerry is always in good spirits, but especially at Christmas......see...............
He's gonna sing you a Christmas song now :-)
They were all such good puppies when I was taking their pictures the other day. I know they think I'm crazy, but as long as I talk in a real high pitched voice, and kinda fast, they think they're doing something to make me really happy, so they get's a win win really.
"MERRY WOOF WOOF" from Franklin Blue!!!!!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Photo contest

Hey everyone!!!! Just wanted to ask you all a favor. Go to this link: and please vote for my picture called "Trowing Fire." It was chosen to be in a coffee table book that I will receive in a few weeks. It's copyrighted, so I thought that was cool.
I think this website prints almost all the pictures they receive, because they come out with a new book pretty often. Regardless, it will be cool to have something that I did in print.
Thanks in advance for your votes. If I win some cash......thanks!!!! :-)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Brew Day Number One

Ryan has officially begun brewing his own beer. We won't know for a few weeks if it's drinkable or not, but we're excited nonetheless. Ryan says as long as it doesn't taste like band aids, he'll be happy.

Ryan and his friend Matt had gone to a place in Indy called Great Fermentations a few weeks ago to talk to someone about getting started. They bought a few supplies, and Ryan started reading a home brew book. Yesterday afternoon, they both went to a brewing class and came home extremely motivated to get started. The process seemed to go very well overall. They ran across a few questions as they were doing everything, but most of what they needed to know was in the book, so they referred back to it a few times.

The house smelled really weird. Kinda like fresh bread, but not as good. I guess that's from the yeast they were using. It was cool to watch the yeast after they mixed it. It seemed like there were a million steps involved, but the guys seemed to think it was pretty easy. They started out with an IPA, which is a pale ale. Even though I don't like beer, I will try this when it is ready. Eventually, I would like to start making my own wine. I think I'll let Ryan perfect his craft first, and then he'll be able to help me quite a bit with the wine.

Of course, I took some pictures of the process. Let's see if I can remember what's going on in these.............This is the turkey fryer I got out of this whole deal. The guys needed a five gallon pot with a spout to drain liquid from the bottom, so we went to Rural King and bought a turkey fryer the other day.The process begins with sterilized water that has had to sit in a closed and vacuum sealed container for at least 24 hours. Ryan is stirring in some of the first ingredients here. This makes what is called the wort. The wort is basically the malt and hops mixed with water before it ferments.
Not sure what he's doing here. Everything has to be extremely clean for the beer to turn out right, so our kitchen smelled like alcohol and bleach from all the cleaning we had done.These are the hops that Ryan is smelling. I personally think they stink, and they burn my nose, but Ryan thinks they smell delicious.This is one of the exciting parts, when you get to add the hops. It's common to have a "boil-over" when this happens, but the guys got lucky for their first try, and it never overflowed on them.Matt did an excellent job keeping an eye on the wort as they got it ready on the stove. It is never supposed to boil, but you want to keep the temperature as high as possible, so they had to watch it very closely.After the wort is finished on the stove, it has to be cooled down to a certain temperature before you can tranfer it and add the yeast. In order to cool it down quickly, the guys put the turkey fryer in the tub full of cold water. Ryan bought a digital cooking thermometer to make it easy on himself.This is the wort colling off in the tub.The garage has now become our little brewery. After the wort cooled off enough, it had to be transferred to the container that had the sterilized and vaccum sealed water in it. This bucket has some kind of valve on the top if it that allows carbon dioxide to escape as the water sits. That helps the fermentation process somehow, and keeps everything fresh.This is Ryan adding the yeast to the wort and water in the garage. It is starting to smell like a brewery in there.Here, Ryan and Matt are shuffling through supplies in the garage preparing for the next night of work. That will take place in two weeks.
In two weeks, after the wort has fermented with the yeast, the beer will then be transferred into a large glass bottle to collect any sediment that might be hanging on. After the glass bottle, they will transfer it a second time to this plastic bucket. This bucket has a spout on the bottom to fill the actual beer bottle with. So, they should have enough to fill 48 bottles in a couple weeks.

After the beer is transferred to the bottles, it has to remain untouched for another two weeks. I'm not sure what happens during this time. Ryan hasn't explained that part to me yet. The guys are going to call their beer "Wammer Ale." That's where they came up with this crazy "W" thing they're doing with their hands......crazy kids!!!At the end of the night, the guys celebrated with a big high five!!! far.................