Monday Musings

Just curious…are any of you out there in New England right now, reading this after digging out all weekend from the latest winter storm to wreak havoc on the eastern seaboard?

(NASA // Source)

I’m not going to lie: I’m semi-jealous of the massive snowfall totals being reported. There is a teeny-tiny part of me that wishes I was trapped in a log cabin deep in the Adirondacks with nothing but a roaring wood fire, a weeks’ supply of food, hot coffee, and a few good books while the blizzard raged outside.

Instead, we’ve been treated to a soggy gray weekend in central Iowa, with temps too warm to sustain any amount of snowfall. Oh well…at least our lawn will benefit from all this moisture come spring! In the meantime, I’ll let these jaw-dropping timelapse videos help in filling my lack of snow void (each link is a different video) 😉

Curing Cabin Fever

In serious need of spending time outside of our walls, we decided that Saturday would be a busy day of doing for the Hardinge family. We started things off right with a trip to the zoo! (Ok, so technically we started with a stop at Hobby Lobby to pick up a few crafty things for Missy…but girls sat with me in the van and watched Cars while she shopped for 20 minutes.)

The best part about the Zoo in winter is that hardly anyone else is around. Blank Park has a small, but fun rainforest exhibit…

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…as well as indoor aquariums & terrariums that are often too crowded to visit during the busy season…but even the weekend attendance is sparse in February.

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We did manage brave the winter chill for a few minutes to see the tigers and sea lions, but the stiff breeze had us running for the gift shop before long!

Let me just say that as parents of toddlers, our zoo passes have probably been one of our most worthwhile investments. Now that the girls are older and have longer attention spans, we’re thinking about getting a Blank Park Zoo & Science Center of Iowa combination pass when we renew come spring.

Any current SCIowa members care to share their thoughts on this?

Cribs for Life

But not the kind you see on MTV.

The older girls have been able to get up and over their crib rails for some time now, even in the middle of the pitch-black night to rouse Miss & I from our slumber. So on Saturday we decided to pull the trigger and finally take their front rails all the way off.

(Our cribs convert toddler beds…and we can even use them as head & foot boards for their full size mattress eventually!)

We improvised fall protection with rail guards meant for full-sized mattresses…

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…and modified pool noodles (thanks Pinterest!)…

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…and hoped for the best. After two successful nap times and one successful overnight sleep, we had this thing in the bag.

Or so we thought.

Last night was awful. I don’t know if it was something they ate, or that their Night Light was in a new spot, but we had to visit their room four times! On the last two trips in at midnight and 2:00AM, I found Jovie asleep Sienna half-awake on the floor, having both fallen…or purposely gotten out of…their beds 😦

We’re going to give it one more shot tonight (Missy laid down the law before bedtime)…and if we have to make any more visits, the side rails are going back up.

Adventures in Home Brewing

A few months back, a coworker and part-time apiarist hooked me up with a fresh jar of honey his hives had produced this past summer.

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It tasted sweeter and far better than anything that I had ever purchased from the store and I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it:

Make beer.

Believe it or not, the inspiration actually came from the POTUS. I had known for some time there was a small homebrew operation going in the White House and that just recently (after a successful online petition) they had released two of his top-secret homebrew recipes: Honey Porter and Honey Ale. Being the novice home brewer, the Honey Ale looked a bit less challenging, so after gathering my ingredients a few months ago I was finally able to set to work.

However, first things first: I needed to add one more piece of equipment to my arsenal…a Wort Chiller.

Not to get too technical on you, but when you’re making beer, the faster you can cool the wort (the liquid extract from boiling grains & hops containing the sugar that yeast will consume and convert into alcohol) the better your beer will turn out. You can buy these online or at any homebrew store, but it’s much cooler (and even a little cheaper!) to make them yourself.

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There, that’s what I’m talking about. Now it was time to brew.

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The wort chiller worked perfectly (OK…not so much. One of the hoses wasn’t quite clamped tight enough, nearly causing a catastrophe)…

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…cooling the wort was a much faster process than previous efforts.

Now, we wait. I will be racking the beer on Thursday or Friday, then bottling in a few weeks. Then hopefully it will be ready to enjoy come Spring Break. You can bet that I will keep you updated!

Ramblings

  • For the past week, NBC has been making a big deal about being “One Year Away from the 2014 Winter Olympics.” Exciting news to be sure, especially for avid Olympiad fans like Missy and I. But I have to ask…why Sochi? I understand that this is the first time Russia has ever hosted, but I did a little digging and it turns out that Sochi is a resort city on the Black Sea, known more as a summer getaway locale rather than a winter destination. Granted, the Caucasus Mountains have snow during the winter months, but even there…40F & 50F degree temps aren’t that unusual in February. Apparently, the Russians are so nervous about this fact that they are already hoarding snow just in case they don’t have any next year. Ummm…they do know that Siberia is in Russia too, right? The same Siberia that’s home to the world’s coldest temperatures ever recorded (outside of Antarctica)? So again I ask…why Sochi? One thing is for sure: this will be the first Winter Olympics where we will see more palm trees than snow.
  • Lent starts this Wednesday, and I’ve started to think about things that I could “Give Up” or “Take On” for the 40 days leading up to Easter. Anyone care to share what they are doing this year? Maybe I’ll give up blogging…hmmm.
  • To the dismay of all, Missy gave Jovie her first actual hair cut last week…

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When she was a baby, she had an intense case of Cradle Cap…which in turn caused the back of her hair to grow out faster than the hair on top of her head. Having since long grown out of it, she had developed…for lack of a better term…a mullet. So, we fixed it, and now she looks super cute (not that she didn’t before)! I’ll make sure to get a picture up soon 😀

  • Fella’s, don’t forget: Valentine’s Day is Thursday!

That’s all for me tonight, folks. Happy Monday and have a great week!

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