fredag 22 september 2017

Challenge yourself to do something new


Ask yourself: How long is it since you did something new for the first time?
For me, its 1 week. How long is it for you?

We get trapped in routine so easily that it is almost hard to think back to when something really new happened. By doing something new, you force your brain to do things that it is not used to do, and it will never be the same again! I am not a specialist, but I've seen The Arrival.
Don't just think that you are adaptable, actually put yourself in situations where you need to adapt, learn something new... Big or small doesn't matter, just that you do something new and you will progress your mind to another level.

So, ask yourself from time to time... How long is it? If it is too long, do something about it.. Find an evening class, pick up a new hobby and just enjoy life!

Until next time! Abrupt reminder of mortality

Brewing with the Coobra Craft Brewer 25

Finally the time came to brew a batch of beer with my home grown hops. As this was a test session, we pretty much used whatever ingredients we had at hand. Also, this was an excellent time to try out my new toy. The Coobra Craft Brewer 25 and the Coobra Sparge Water Heater 16.

The recipe 

Malt

  • 3.5 kg pilsner malt
  • 1 kg Abbey malt
  • 0.5 kg Cara 150
Hops
  • 20 g Magnum (60 minutes)
  • 120 g homegrown fresh hops (20 minutes)
  • 60 g homegrown fresh hops (7 minutes)
Yeast
  • Safale US-05
Estimated alcohol by volume: 5.5%

The process

Cleaning procedure of the Coobra Craft Brewer 25

In the manual it stated that you should run the pump with a 10 liters of water and a cleaning substance for 5 minutes, followed by running it 10 liters pure water for 5 minutes * 2.
The cleaning substance we decided to use was vinegar, roughly 3 table spoons in the 10 liters.
We decided to go with vinegar as it is OK even if there would be some rest products left after the 2 water runs. I.e. it is safe.

Cleaning procedure of the Coobra Sparge Water Heater 16


As stated in the manual, we filled the heater up with water and boiled it up and then discarded that water through the ball valve.

Mashing

Time for the mashing process. We filled the Coobra Craft Brewer 25 with the water amount we planned to use. (I actually forgot to write down the water amounts)
Setting the initial temperature was no problem on the control unit, and popping the watts up to 2500 to get the water heated in minutes.
After the water reached the given temperature 73º C , we set down the watts to 700 and lowered the temperature to 66º C.
We threw in the malt and stirred it around a little so that it got all soaked.
Time to start the pump.
The spreader was a nice touch, spreading the pumped water over the malt bed
The Coobra CB 25 pump in action
This was nice, the pump pumped for 48 of the 50 minutes, the after that it clogged up and I had to shut it down and be cleaned. When reading the manual we found out that the bazooka filter in the brewer sometimes can let through small bits of the malt and when it happens, you just open the pump and rinse with clean water and the pump is in action again.
Halfway through we started the Coobra Sparge Water Heater 16. When it indicated the correct temperature (81º C) it went from heating to keeping warm mode. After a test with a manual temperature check, we noticed that the heater was off by 10 degrees celcius. So we set the thermostate to 91 and after some minutes it was OK.

Sparging

After the timer completed it was time to start sparging. Ideally we would have used the pump bit as it was out of order we ended up using a bucket. But it was a real improvement to heat all the water to the correct temperature at once.
During the sparging we started to lift up the mash bed. For sake of simplicity it had steps so that you can lift it up little by little and leave it there to drop.
It seems that you can do it all in place with this method, but we decided to move the mash temporary to an fermenter for 2 reasons.

  • We had to move the brewer from the kitchen
  • Gives us a better view of how many liters we are dealing with

Boiling

Total volume at the start of boiling was 22 liters.
We set the started the Coobra Craft Brewer 25 again and just set the power to 2500 watts and it started to heat the water until it started to boil.
We threw in the first sock filled with hops and secured it to the brewer with a clothespin. After 40 minutes we added the second sock and with 7 minutes left we threw in the last one.
We tried to place the cooling spiral into the boiler for the last 10 minutes to let it boil to clean it. But it was really problematic with the socks in place and the silicon tubing to the spiral touched the brewer (that was hot) etc, so I don't think we will do that the next time.

After one hour, we had boiled 3.5 liters of water and were down at 18.5. This was good by our calculations.

Starting the cooling water in the spiral the the excess heat was removed in 10-15 minutes or so, quite OK time.

Tapping it all into the fermenter through a juice filter to get out eventual fragments of malt.
We also tapped a little to a tasting glass and to the test tube for the gravity check.

We were really impressed with the round taste at this point. Really has potential to become something nice. Gravity before fermentation was: 1.055.

Overall impressions

Before, we have used a friends plastic brewer modified with heat control. The Coobra CB25 was a real boost. Hopefully the water pump works a little better next time, too bad it got stuck at the end of the cycle.
Overall: Would buy again

Update July 2, 2018
We have been brewing with the Cobra CB25 during a number of sessions now.
Things we've found out:

  • Add extra boil time. Our recipes said 60 minute boil, when we started with a 15 minute pre-boil with no hops, we hit the mark. I.e. recipe for 6.2% but we always got 5.4%... with pre-boil, we get the 6.2%
  • Service the water pump. It has stopped twice for us. When it gets warm, a little plastic bit inside of it can move out of place. Open the pump, make sure the plastic part is at an OK length to be able to rotate in an controlled fashion. The length is adjustable, design flaw or feature? Who knows : )
  • Would still buy, the amount of top class beer that this thing outputs is amazing. All my friends and neighbors love it.

Next time: Brewing wheat beer with the CB25

Disclaimer
I bought this product myself and this is my opinion on them. I am in no way affiliated with the manufacturer of this product.

fredag 15 september 2017

The Alice Themed Wedding


So a month ago me and my better half got hitched. She said yes already back in 2009 but we kinda pushed the event in front of us for some years for various reasons. But now in January this year, when I was hospitalized for pulmonary embolism, we decided to get it done.

Invitations

The save the date cards my wife drew by hand. The actual invitations we ended buying and adding some extra touches by hand. This took a lot of time but was a fun part of the preparations.

Wedding website

We ended up using theknot.com for our wedding website. The actual invitations only included the link to the site and the password. All relevant information was put on the wedding website.

Theme

Whenever we've talked about the wedding during the years, we have always ended up wanting to have a theme and the theme has pretty much been Alice in Wonderland from day one.
Next question was. Which Alice? After a lot of pondering we decided on the old Disney version.
We made clear in the invitation that it was not a masquerade, but theme based details and accessories would be great!
We ended up buying 60 cat and bunny ears that people could wear, and everyone did!

Locations

For the ceremony, we decided on a local landmark bridge. Talked with the owner and got a yes of course!
For the party, we asked the brides sister if we could use their barn. And the answer was yes as well. They already had a bar and party area on the upper floor but we needed more room for the dinner and toilets etc. So we ended up building those during the spring and summer. Took more time then we anticipated and got a little stressful at the end, but damn, the best decision....

Rings. 

We went to the jewelry shop (the same that we got our engagement rings from) and decided on a pair of rose/white gold rings. No diamonds as she didn't want any.

Guests. 

52 guests decided to attend and that perfectly matched a deck of cards. So the place cards were just 2 decks of cards. One in the envelope and one at the place. I think we invited 64 from the start but as expected some were not able to attend.
We specified that there was a lot of time for families to find baby-sitters. Only the closest families kids were invited as well as some toddlers. So in the end 11 of the 52 were minors.

Party program

We did this ourselves as well. We ended up buying a laser printer and printing in black and white and adding extra color touches by hand. We colorized average of 7 programs per night, took 2 hours per night. So make sure you plan for the time if you decide on doing things by hand. It is a lot of work but gives in the end a personal touch to the party.

Drinks. 

Me and a friend brewed been in the spring, 26 bottles of IPA and 24 bottles of bitter. Together with home made mead and apple cider there was a variety to chose from for the dinner.
2 weeks before the party we went to Systembolaget (the Swedish alcohol monopoly) and ordered all other alcoholic beverages for the dinner and party.

  • 4x4x24 33cl bottles of beer. Different brands, mostly lager..
  • 2x4x24 33cl bottles of cider. Different brands and flavors
  • 10 bottles of champagne for the toast when we arrive at the party
  • 1 bottle of champagne (little more expensive) for us during the photo-shoot after the ceremony
  • 4 red bag-in-box wine
  • 2 white bag-in-box wine
  • 10 bottles of bubbly rose wine
  • 6 bottles of vodka for drinks
  • 1 bottle of Makes me smaller, vodka and a lot of pulverized super sour hard candy (a lot)
  • 1 bottle of Grows me taller, vodka and a lot of pulverized super salty hard candy (a lot)
+ a lot of non alcoholic beverages and water

We ended up returning 1/4 of the alcoholic drinks afterwards, but better that then running out during the evening.

Flowers

The bride decided to go to our local grocery store and order 200 roses. More than enough for the party and bridal bouquet (that she made herself)

Catering.

We decided to not cater anything. Instead we bought and prepared everything during the days before and handed out work assignments in teams during the whole night.

Photographer

We ended up hiring an upcoming photographer who didn't cost that much, but had an excellent portfolio to present us. A little bit more risky, but one tenth of a professional photographer.
She photographed the wedding ceremony as well as the wedding photos afterwards.
For the rest of the evening, we had asked guests that we knew liked to photograph to bring their cameras. Some excellent photos from these friends
We also bought 3 digital cameras (the cheapest ones we found, total around €60.) and placed on the tables, labeled 'Use me!'. Got an extra 400 photos of the evening from those.
Also, we had already 3 months before started to use a hashtag on Instagram (following patter #brideandgroomYEAR) and pushed our guests to post with that hashtag during the evening.

Photo booth

Cheshire cat, hatters hat, bunny's ears, a clock and playing card colors

Hand made photo booth frame fitting the Alice theme and a Canon EOS 400 on a tripod to photograph all the guests during the evening! White veil as backdrop as well as flashlight and a large reflector in the ceiling.
Turned out good, pretty much every guest made an appearance.

Best man, Brides maid, Toast master

We decided to not have any. Instead the bride explained the idea of the evening, people were allowed to hold their speeches whenever there was time etc.
It turned out work good with our guests, plus we did not stress out our closest friends by giving them the most stressful jobs at a wedding.

Work assignments

In the party program leaflet that every guest received when they found their seat there was a list of jobs for the evening.

  • Prepare starters
  • Clean the tables of dishes
  • Put leftovers in refrigerators.
  • Prepare main course
  • Barbecue duty
  • Clean the tables of dishes
  • Put leftovers in refrigerators
  • Prepare desserts
  • Clean the tables of dishes
During the evening we had also some more general assignments
  • Bar assignment. Keep track of the drinks table during the dinner and server drinks after the party started.
  • Music. 1 person selected who had access to the music
OK, this was a little controversial idea that turned out to be a good one.
During the years we have attended a number of weddings and it is always the same thing, you end up sitting at your table during the whole dinner (that is 4-8 hours) and only talk with the people seated around you. We did not want that.
So instead, by giving the guests work assignments in teams consisting of people from other tables they were forced to mix with people that they did not know from before and talk with them. As a grownup you grow to know other people mostly by working together and if you mix that into a party where people do not know each other from the start, they will end up making new connections.
The dinner ended up going on for 6-7 hours. BUT, after each course there was a natural pause where everyone not on assignment had a chance to walk around, mingle and chat with people. When the next course was ready, the bride rang a bell and everyone was seated again.

Lessons learned from the assignments was that some of the work teams could have had a couple more members to speed things up. But otherwise, turned out to be a fantastic idea to get people to talk with each other!

Conclusions

In the end, we ended up doing a lot of things ourselves and the project lasted 6 months. This probably saved us a lot of money, I have no idea what this would have costed if everything was catered, rented etc. But that doesn't really matter. In the end it was more true to ourselves to do it this way then letting someone else do it. It got a personal touch on all planes and having the dinner and party on top of a barn, the cozy and joyful atmosphere infected our guests as well. 

Planning a wedding in this way you have to know your audience a little bit, know that there are people who enjoy cooking, talking, bar-tendering, photographing etc. and wouldn't mind to be bossed around for an evening as a surprise : )

I guess I forgot to write about more then half of the stuff, if you have any questions then feel free to ask in the comments and I'll try to answer to my best ability.

torsdag 7 september 2017

My current plan, 2017 September


August went by fast this year. 4 weeks of vacation spent 2 weeks preparing for our wedding, celebrating the weekend and then trying to relax for the last 2 weeks with a road trip and camping. Best vacation in years.
But now, we're back at work and the days are getting shorter again.

Last couple of weeks I've noticed a new intensity on the articles predicting a market decline. And as I've stated before, I almost hope it happens as I think that my plan is actually would thrive in a downturn.
Luckily I don't need to be able to predict the market, I'll just stick to my plan of adding a building block to my money machine each month and in the end it will pay me back.

This month, another building block put in. This time the bank.

Short one this month as I am working on a project in the few free hours I have.


Until next time: Work to Live, Don’t Live to Work

Disclaimer. I am in no way an expert on capital management or investing. On this blog I only wish to share my findings, ideas and comments on current events and fields that interest me. I hope that my thoughts can entertain you. I expect that everyone reading take their time and do their own research before acting on anything read on this blog. Investing is not for everyone. E&OE.

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