Missouri Beer Festival

Lots of people at the Holiday Inn Expo Center
Lots of people at the Holiday Inn Expo Center

Brooke and Meg went to Girls Weekend at the Lake, as usually happens this time of year, leaving me all by my lonesome with Calvin.  Thankfully, my wonderful parents were thinking of my plight and Mom watched Calvin while Dad and I checked out the Missouri Beer Festival.  This event has been held for a few years now, switching venues once or twice as it has grown.  The Holiday Inn Expo Center is among the largest available in Columbia, as other options on the University’s campus, wouldn’t allow the sale of alcohol.

Overall, for $25, we were pretty impressed with the selection of breweries and beers.  The Festival opens at 1:00 pm (unless you lay $25 more for a VIP pass) and continues until 5:00 pm, yielding plenty of time to make your way around the Festival floor, trying the wares from the available breweries.  Though their website has mostly comprehensive list of the breweries that were present, there were others like Civil Life, Stone and Abita that were also featured.

As part of the deal, you were given a tasting glass, where each brewery would pour somewhere between 2 and 3 oz of beer for you to try.  Though this doesn’t sound like much, it certainly adds up over a 4 hour period.  They also had food available for additional cash, and believe you me, that BBQ smelled pretty great.  They also allowed voting for your favorite brew (apparently Rock Bridge won for their Option #2 beer), though the organizers took the ballots at 3:45 without announcing that they were doing so, and we weren’t quite ready to vote yet, so I guess we didn’t exercise our constitutional rights on this one…

Me, Dad and cousin Laura

Me, Dad and cousin Laura

The main thing I’d like to see corrected for next year’s event hinges upon the beer list.  When we’ve attended Schlafly’s events in years past, they provide you with a list of the beers and descriptions for each, thus allowing you to cross them off as you move through the stations.  It gives you a good sense of how many you had and which ones you liked.  For this event, you were provided with a list of breweries (and their locations on the Festival floor), but no list of beers.  Granted, you could always write that down, but with the complexity and length of some beer names, it’s not ideal.  I’m not sure how they could easily fix this, as some breweries won’t decide which beer to bring until the last minute, but surely there’s something they could do.  An 8×10 sheet of paper with all the beers listed, including style and alcohol content, would be just fine.  It would also allow me to seek out the beers I liked far more easily, rather than requiring me to try and remember (during an afternoon of heavy drinking…) which ones were awesome and which ones were just so-so.

Overall, we had a pretty good time.  We saw some familiar faces (Dad saw half of his office there…which was kinda crazy…), got to try some great beers, and had a pleasant time with a bunch of people we didn’t know.  I suspect we’ll be back next year, so long as our babysitter’s available.  :-)

A Beautiful Day

The lake at Van Meter State Part
The lake at Van Meter State Part

We haven’t had many absolutely gorgeous weekends lately, though we haven’t really had any terrible ones, either.  Still, we took advantage of the weather and went to Van Meter State Park again to get a picnic lunch in and a brief jaunt down the trail.  We went down a different section than the last time, heading down into a valley toward a lake set up for fishing, with a trail wrapping around it.

Calvin walking by the lake.
Calvin walking by the lake.

The trail is something like 0.6 mi long, and we didn’t get anywhere near that distance.  We didn’t deal with putting kids in backpacks or anything this time, so we tried getting Calvin to walk as best we could.  For the most part, he did fine, though part of the trail got a bit closer to the water than we’d prefer.

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Sitting on the dock.

We didn’t end up staying all that long.  Maybe an hour and a half or so.  I suspect Meg, Calvin and I will head back frequently this summer as an excuse to get out of the house and take in some fresh(er) air.  We walked back up the hill to the car (Calvin had to be carried by this point, and Meg wasn’t too happy about her feet…) and headed home.  Calvin took a nap after we got back, Brooke got some painting done, and I mowed the lawn.  Meg had a birthday party at 4:30, and while Brooke took her, Calvin and I got dinner going.

Filet and veggies.  Mmmmm.
Filet and veggies. Mmmmm.

In the end, I think we spent 8 or 9 hours outside today, soaking it all in.  Lots of productivity, lots of play time.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I guess we’ll just have to remember today while we’re stuck in the house tomorrow.

Speaking of “the house,” the next post will hopefully feature our next upgrade.  Tonight, we were able to finish up the paint in “the music room,” though we have a little more work to do in mounting the guitars.  By midweek, we should be good to go.

Onward and upward!

The New Garden

A wide shot of the garden area.
A wide shot of the garden area.

When we were looking for houses last summer, the building itself definitely caught our eye, but the extra lot next to the house was the real selling point.  If we weren’t going to live further out in the countryside, we’d at least like to have the space to grow a metric ton of produce and still have chickens like we’d had in St. Louis and Iowa.

We tried killing off some of the grass over the winter by covering patches of the property with large tarps, yet all that seemed to do was store leaves, sticks and live grass for the spring.  In the end, we ended up borrowing our neighbors front-tine tiller and renting a rear-tine tiller to get a bit deeper and pull all the sod off.  Though we’re still dealing with some grass trying to reclaim their previous home, the tilling generally worked alright.  We’ve currently put in two plots: one larger, the other smaller.  Next year, we’ll add another plot that’s the same size as the larger one, but for now, we figured we should start with something manageable.

So far, Brooke has planted peas and carrots, with radishes yet to go in this weekend.  We didn’t have much luck with peas up in Iowa, but we’re hopeful that planting them a bit earlier will make a difference.

Ultimately, we’ll put corn, green beans, soup beans, tomatoes, and peppers in the ground between the two plots currently dug out.  A third plot will go in next year, but more on that in a bit…

Spinach and lettuce in the cold frame.
Spinach and lettuce in the cold frame.

Brooke also set up the cold frame we picked up at an end-of-the-season sale in Iowa, this time with lettuce and spinach.  We tried putting herbs in it in St. Louis, but didn’t find much success.  I think we got a little lettuce out of it, but probably not much beyond the paltry salad or two.  Based on our current trajectory, I think we’re off to a better start…

Blackberries and raspberries.
Blackberries and raspberries.

As I said, we’ve got two plots going right now: one larger, one smaller.  The larger one will be replicated next year, giving us two of the same size.  The smaller one, however, will live on its lonesome, and in its twin’s place, we’ll put in some bushes.  That is, we already have put in some bushes, but more will likely grace that location in the future.  Currently, raspberries and blackberries are already in, some of which we may already harvest by the end of this year, yet we suspect it won’t be until at least next year when we start getting enough to write home about.  Ultimately, we’ll probably put some hops there and maybe some other bushes.  Brooke also has some blueberry bushes to put in, but we haven’t decided if they’ll go in this plot, or if we’ll put them somewhere else.

We haven’t picked them up yet, but we’re also planning on putting some fruit trees closer to the road, at the far side of the first image posted above.  Cherries, apples, and quince are currently on the docket, though we may add another (pears?).  I’d never heard of quince until last year, but apparently they’re a fruit you wouldn’t necessarily want to take a bite out of, yet they have high concentrations of pectin, meaning that you could add quince to your preserves to somewhat naturally produce jellies and jams, among other things.  Seems interesting, at least, and they should do fine in our climate.

Other than that, I’m all for adding more garden space.  The more the merrier.

Less space for me to mow…

Calvin’s Word List

"I don't know!"
“I don’t know!”

Though Calvin started off pretty slowly, so far as the whole “talking” thing goes, he’s been picking up pretty rapidly in the past month. Meg had 35 at this point in her development, but Calvin’s been able to rely on his big sister to help him out up until now.  Still, it looks like he’s running a bit ahead on language than she was (though, again, it feels like an explosion in the last month, whereas Meg got them a bit more gradually).

Anyway, here’s a non-exhaustive list.  I’m probably missing a few…

Words/People:

  • Mama (“Mama”)
  • Daddy (“Dada”)
  • Meg (“Meh”)
  • Sam (“Hem”)
  • Nana (“Nana”)
  • Mimi (“Meh-meh”)
  • Harper (“Hah-pah”)
  • Emma
  • Banana (also “Nana”)
  • Milk (“Mah”)
  • More (“Moh”)
  • No (“Nooooo”)
  • “Cow” (“Boo”)
  • Pig (“Pih”)
  • Snow (“No”)
  • Snowman (“No-MEN”)
  • Please (“Peas”)
  • Baby (“Beh-beh”)
  • Books (“Boo”)
  • Bed (“Beh”)
  • Bath (“Bah”)
  • Shoes (“Soos”)
  • Socks (“Hoks”)
  • Moon (“Moo”)
  • “Shh” (“Ssss”)
  • Water (“Wah-wah”)
  • “Rock rock” (also “Wah-wah”)
  • Elmo (“Meh-mo”)
  • Bye bye (“Bah-bah”)
  • Night night (“Nah-nah”)
  • Tractor (“Tac-tah”)
  • Bird (“Bih”)
  • Truck (“Tuh”)
  • Dog (“Dah”)

Body Parts (Identification, mostly):

  • Mouth
  • Nose (“Noh”)
  • Belly (“Beh-beh”)
  • Toes
  • Feet
  • Head
  • Hair
  • Cheeks
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Knees
  • Eyes
  • Teeth
  • Ears
  • Fingers

The Bathroom

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This post has been “in the making” for, well, months.  When we first moved into this house last August, we knew that the upstairs bathroom was probably going to be the first thing set for a “re-fit.”  Largely, this was because the toilet (pictured above) had to go.  It must have been one of those top-fill types that used to have the tank suspended high above it, yet no such tank existed.  The toilet actually flushed just fine: you just had to fill it by opening a valve inside the tank, effectively rendering it useless to our 4-year-old (and a hassle for us).

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The rest of the bathroom was “fine,” at best.  Tiled all the way around.  Nothing too offensive.  Everything else worked fine.

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So, we got a new toilet.  One that flushed.  And filled.  Of course, in doing so, we lost some tiles behind it.  As we clearly couldn’t leave it like that, Brooke started looking into replacing those tiles.  As she tried removing a few of them, they started crumbling all around her.  To make matters worse, she removed the towel rack from the bathtub area and found that the lathe behind it was wet, suggesting that the grout had to go.  Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned “crumbling” part, re-grouting wasn’t a viable option.

So, I came home from work one day to see much of the bathroom looking like this…

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…minus the ladder, of course.  I came home in the middle of this debacle.  You can see some of the less-broken the tiles in the sink there.  Brooke did nearly all the tile removal and I contributed by hauling tiles and debris outside.  The wallpaper came down remarkably easy (though unsurprisingly, as the humidity in the bathroom made it pretty loose).

As you can tell, the plaster underneath the tiles came along for the ride, while the plaster behind wallpaper was mostly unscathed.

DSC_0094A similar story around the bathtub.  Firstly, we had to solve the tub problem so we could actually shower in this bathroom (it’s the only one in the house).  We grabbed some moisture-safe drywall and put it up where the tile used to be.

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Next, we had to replace the tile, or at least line the tub with something more water-resistant than drywall.  After looking around online a bit, we settled on fiberglass sheeting.  As you can see in the picture below, we got it done in time to give the kids a bath.

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It was a similar story across from the tub.  This time, however, no fiberglass was necessary, so Brooke just used joint compound to merge the plaster and drywall, plugging a few holes in the process.

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Not all that attractive, we know, but nothing a coat of paint (or two) can’t fix.

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After filling in the gaps and patching the ceiling a bit with plaster, we primed the walls in preparation for paint.  We decided to go with a brown-ish color, as it seemed to go pretty well with some of the shades in the floor.  In the end, we think it came off pretty well.

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Finished product in the tub!  We added an organizer to the corner and put in a new mirror that didn’t look like it was from the 1940s.  We’d still like to replace that pedestal sink sometime, but for now, it’s functional.

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The wall across from the tub looks better with some paint, right?  Brooke put up a rack of hooks for all our towels to go on.  Nice and accessible from the shower.

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The finished corner.  It’s probably worth scrolling all the way up to the top to compare these images, as we think it looks quite a bit better.  New towel rack, new toilet paper holder, some shelves above the new toilet, and the lack of tiles.

It isn’t perfect, though.  The wall under the window there is a bit rough, as it’s still the original plaster and not drywalled.  We may add some trim there eventually, but for now, it’s alright.  I also need to remove the paint on the wood frames, the doors and the window, as I suspect they’re laced with lead, but that’s a job for another time.  Perhaps this summer that’ll get done.

Much better than we found it, though!  That’s the most I can ask for.

Meg Turns Five

She turned out alright...
She turned out alright…

Granted, we’ve gone through more than a few adjustments in the last five years, but it’s still difficult to believe we started out with the one on the left up above, and currently have the one on the right.

Yes, Meg was born five years ago today at 8:57 am.  At the time, it was difficult to imagine how the next five years would go, and now, I don’t even know how this next one year will go for her as she begins <gasp> Kindergarten.  Since Calvin was born, she’s taken to the role of “Big Sister” more than we thought she was capable of, sometimes making me forget she’s still extremely young, yet perhaps more responsible than some of my college-aged students.

This year also marked the first time for two birthday parties: one “Kid Party” this past weekend, when three of her best friends from preschool came over for a “dress up party,” and then the next one coming this weekend for “Grown-ups” (i.e. family).  I think the “Kid Party” came off pretty well, as the girls mostly played by themselves and stayed out of trouble (mostly…).  Meg got some play makeup, a “Cinderella” costume, and a copy of Tangled (which she’s been asking for since December…).  She requested lemon cake with blueberries, and that turned out pretty awesome (thanks to Brooke, of course).  I think she’s requested spaghetti for the “Grown-up Party” this weekend, as well as a strawberry cake.

Personally, I don’t see how it’s fair that she gets two cakes, but whatever…

This morning, she woke up to a bike at the bottom of the steps, so surely that will present its own new challenge for 2015.  She literally, finally, learned how to make a tricycle “go” in 2014, so it’ll be interesting to watch her fight a 16″ bicycle with training wheels this time around.  Good thing my schedule’s pretty flexible this summer…

Aside from the presents and parties, the crazy part still remains: Meg is five.  She’s been with us for five years.  Half a decade has blown by.  She’s entering a stage of development that I actually remember in my own life.  Which is to say, these are years that she’ll start remembering 10, 20, 30+ years down the road.

Happy birthday, Margaret Jean.  I hope it’s great. :-)

Linsenblog 2.0

…or 4.0, by now?  I dunno…there have been a few iterations at this point…

As all two of you may have noticed, the blog has been effectively MIA the past few months.  I’m hoping to change that and get back to posting more regularly, now that my schedule has kinda evened out at school, but also now that I’ve shifted the blog off of a server I’m running onto something a bit more professional, hosted by GoDaddy.

Since moving to Marshall, I’ve been trying to run the site on a Raspberry Pi, a super cheap Linux-based computer that is powered by a cellphone processor and is, thus, quite energy efficient.  The problem, I found, was that a). it’s slower than I want it to be, and b). its limited version of Linux couldn’t reliably handle the database that this site relies on (hence the “Error Establishing Database Connection” that kept on showing up the past few weeks).

Rather than build a new Linux-based computer, I’m paying for off-site hosting now.  We’ll see how this goes, but the performance is already leaps and bounds better than anything I’d built the past few generations.  Hopefully, keeping the site up-and-running more reliably will also make it easier for me to post things on a more regular basis.  As always, of course, the blog has been more of an outlet for me (and occasionally Brooke), so I’m not trying to garner additional web traffic or readership or anything…

…I just want it to work…  :-)

Furniture Projects

Shortly after moving in, Aunt Diane and Uncle Mike were looking to unload some old furniture from an outbuilding of theirs that they’ve had for awhile.  By “old furniture,” I mean it was my grandparent’s set, and various parts were used by them and my Dad (among others, I suppose).  It was a set they picked up in St. Louis sometime in the 1950s – it still had the furniture store’s information taped onto the inside.

Regardless, we’ve had quite a few furniture pieces in a bay of our garage since it all arrived.  Two matching three-drawer chests made it into the house right around Calvin’s birthday, but some other pieces were taken care of over the break.  The priority was a vanity that my Grandma Corine used.  As with the other pieces, the wood was veneered in such a way that wasn’t particularly “modern,” so we sanded it down and repainted it in white.

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The above is something of a “Work In Progress” shot.  It actually took me awhile to complete because it was, well, really cold out in the garage and I could only tolerate sanding sessions for limited periods of time.  I ended up putting a few coats on it as I was battling the effects of “drying” and “freezing” of the paint throughout.

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In the end, it turned out pretty well!  The mirror could use some restoration still, as it looks like a 60 year old mirror, but it fits perfectly in Meg’s room, as if that’s where it was meant to end up.  I’m sure Grandma would be tickled to see Meg sitting at it. :-)

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The next piece of furniture was a larger, four drawer chest.  We weren’t sure where exactly to put it initially, but Brooke thought the dining room would be a good fit.  The weather was unbelievable today (almost 60 F in mid-January…seriously?!), so Brooke sanded it down outside and got a few coats of paint on it in the afternoon.  Clearly, the paint could dry a bit more efficiently when the temperature wasn’t 15 F.  The inside of the drawers weren’t all that spectacular looking, so Brooke used some blue paint (from the entryway…) to “spice it up” a bit.

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Ultimately, the muted red color Brooke went with paired nicely with the wallpaper in the dining room.  It’ll probably end up containing place mats, table cloths, etc.  At the very least, it’s yet more storage space for all our stuff, so the more the merrier!

I’m just glad Grandma and Grandpa’s stuff has a new home!

…and glad my garage is nearly empty enough to fit both cars:-)

A Busy Christmas Break…

I’m hoping to queue up a few posts here, as we’ve been pretty busy over the past, well, few months…

First of all, as I now have the privilege of working for a college, that means I get a month off at Christmas and three months off over the Summer.  Aside from the whole “much needed break” part, it also provides a substantial amount of time to get some stuff done around the house.

I should start by saying that this house is filled with wallpaper, most of which we’ll be pulling down over the next few years.  In some cases, it doesn’t really look all that bad – tasteful, even.  But in other cases, it’s simply got to go away.  As we don’t have much experience with wallpaper, we started small, with the back entryway to the house [though, technically, we pulled down wallpaper in the bathroom first, but I’ll return to that in another post…].

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Meg and Calvin actually got started with pulling down the wallpaper in the entryway a few weeks before, thus accelerating the need to do something about it.  In the picture above, you can see the drywall along with some white “patching” I did to seal some cracks.  I took care of this in an afternoon, as well as some patching on the ceiling above.

IMG_20141219_091904550After it dried, we painted it with a light blue-ish color.  The image above was taken without a flash, so it looks a bit deeper than it really is.  However, this is a blue color we were considering putting in a few other places, especially the kitchen, so we’ll probably scale back our use of it.  In the end, however, I was pretty pleased with how it turned out!

As a test run, it went pretty well.  The wallpaper came down very easily, though it’ll be more challenging in other areas of the house where plaster predominates.  More pictures will be on the way as we make various “upgrades” (including some of the projects we’ve already completed, of course), but next on the docket we’ll be covering the kitchen and what is to become “the music room.”

Onward!

 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas at Nana and Papa's house.  Jake, Kristen, Andy, Meg, Calvin and Brooke
Christmas at Nana and Papa’s house. Jake, Kristen, Andy, Meg, Calvin and Brooke

Again, haven’t posted much recently. I’m still on Break for another two weeks, but much of that has been taken up with various projects around the house (which I still need to take pictures of and post…) and various travels around the state for Christmas.

That, and I’m still fighting with access to this blog from within my own network at the house, as our router isn’t very happy about that…for some reason…

Anyway, Christmas has been pretty fun this year.  Meg has been pretty hyper all week, so my patience has been strained recently, but we’re in Hannibal now completing our week-long Christmas celebrations, so that should subside soon.  Calvin still doesn’t quite understand the concept of opening presents yet, but he certainly enjoys the new toys he’s been getting.

Regardless, this is mostly a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” post.  I’m still working on getting everything working properly with the system at home, so once that’s done, I expect to post quite a bit more often.  There’s much to catch up on!