Kate the Great Day 2012!

Can you believe it's been a year since I last wrote about standing in line for crazy hours for a beer? No? Well, I can't either.

Yesterday, Ted and I joined the ranks of many, many other beer geeks throughout the greater New England area and stood in line to get a taste of Kate the Great, the Portsmouth Brewery's famed Russian Imperial Stout. I stood in line last year, but this was Ted's first year experiencing the fun, crazy madness that is Kate day.

Cold line at KtG Day 2012

We woke up bright and early and arrived in line by 8:45am. I knew already we were in for a long wait; I was MUCH farther up in line last year and arrived 45 minutes later! I figured we wouldn't be in the first group of 250 or so that'd be let in at 11. So close, yet so far away...

You can probably tell from the picture that it wasn't exactly warm standing out there for a few hours. No, it was downright FREEZING. I had brought knitting in hopes I'd be able to get some of a dishcloth done, but no. I kept my hands in mittens the entire time and my toes kept on going numb. That's what happens when you stand outside in 25 degree weather...

Standing in line at KtG Day 2012

As predicted, we did NOT make the initial cutoff of people being let in at 11. However, we did not anticipate having to stand outside for another TWO hours being so tantalizingly close to the Brewery entrance! I started feeling pretty miserable at this point.

Webcam view at KtG Day 2012

Our awesome friend and beer blogger Brian of the Seacoast Beverage Lab posted a live blog and streamed a live webcam of the line waiting to get inside the Brewery. As we inched closer to the front, we appeared on the website! We may or may not have posed for the webcam for a few minutes while we took screenshots on our phone. (I'm right behind the guy in the bright blue jacket, by the way. Pink hat, white coat. So close!)

FINALLY, a few minutes after looking at the webcam, we got in! We were seated upstairs at the topmost floor of the Brewery, allowing us a full view of the chaos below. We loved it.

Inside Portsbrew at KtG Day 2012

We only had to wait for a few minutes before our waitress brought us our sweet, sweet glasses of Kate. The Brewery ordered special snifters for the day, which were smaller than last year's glasses. With a beer as strong as Kate, though, I didn't mind the smaller pours (8oz) this year.

I'm also thoroughly entertained by the Kate logo on the glasses. Yes.

KtG Day 2012 glasses

I thoroughly enjoyed my Kate, even with a red face, messy hair, and all over coldness.

Me at KtG Day 2012

My first impression of the 2012 Kate batch? Good, but I loved the sweetness and chocolate flavors of the 2011 batch. This batch seemed a touch more bitter, which may be attributed to the fact that the beer's pretty fresh. We'll let our bottles age a bit, and we'll taste the difference when we open one up next.

Was it worth standing outside THAT long for it? Yes, but 4 hours is definitely my stand-outside-in-cold-weather limit. I fear it will be even crazier next year, so hopefully the weather will be warmer. That's the hope, at least.

And now, we wait for Kate Day 2013...

Halfway done!

I should write about how I finished my first Snapdragon flip top mitt, right? Right. I'm only just a week late in posting it. But! I knit, and knit, and knit, and weaved in WAY TOO MANY loose ends, and here it is. Done.

Finished Snapdragon


To say I love how these look is grossly underestimating how I feel about these mitts so far. I loved my first pair, but I LOVE this pair so much more. They fit better, the stitches stand out more with the color I used this time... I could go on and on. I just can't wait to be done with the second so I can proudly wear my awesome pink mitts outside in the... uhh, warmish weather we're having up in New England.

Open finished Snapdragon mitt


What's a knitting post without a cute picture of a cat? Oh boy, I'm falling into the stereotype of being a knitter who posts pictures of her cats on her blog. I won't do it often, I promise.


This guy was very interested in my camera strap while taking pictures of my mitts. Of course, I had to take a picture of HIM, too. He didn't seem too pleased with that.

Until I finish the next mitt...

Mitten-ey goodness.

Look what I've been making!

Snapdragon on hand

I'm knitting a pair of Snapdragon flip-top mitts by Ysolda Teague to replace the ones I knit a few years ago. Yeah, I didn't knit them that long ago, but tragedy struck last March when I moved, and I LOST one of the mitts I knit. I spent an entire year looking for the lost mitt, but I must have dropped it somewhere that isn't in the apartment. Cue sadness.

Snapdragon close up

This time around, I'm knitting them in a lighter, pinker, funner yarn. I'm still using madelinetosh tosh dk, but in a punchy bright pink that makes winter almost tolerable! I'm in love with them, I think. (Don't worry, I won't tell Ted.)

So far, I've made just one minor modification to the pattern; I'm using size 4 needles instead of the size 6 the pattern calls for. I knit my originals with my trusty size 6 needles, but always felt they were a little loose, especially around my wrist. The size 4s make them fit so much better.

Another noteworthy item pertaining to these mitts; I'm FLYING through them. I'm most likely the slowest knitter on the planet and I still made this much progress on the mittens in just one day. Yeah, I can't believe it either. I really, really want to get these done so I can focus on other knitting, especially that Arisaig cardigan I'm wanting to FINALLY finish. I'm confident I can do it.

Knitting and school.

Want to see why I haven't been writing in this blog recently?

Shawl and homework

Yes, knitting and school. My final exam is tomorrow and I'm hoping the studying I did yesterday and today will suffice! I'm excited to be done with this class.

I'm also excited to have done more work on the Ginkgo Shawl. I FINALLY reached the lacy edging, and I'm about halfway through it! I'm really, really hoping I don't run out of yarn. If I do, I'll get creative. I really want to get this done before Christmas! I'll need to really start cranking this out if I want to make that deadline. Oh, Christmas knitting.

Hopefully after I finish my final tomorrow, I'll be writing here more often again.

Ginkgo leaves and knitting.

I haven't really been posting much about my knitting these days. Suffice it to say, I'm still making things.

Ginkgo close up

I'm making the Ginkgo shawl for Ted's mother for Christmas. I'm fairly certain she does not read my blog, as she doesn't really frequent the internets, so I'm safe to post it here. (If not, hi Ted's mom! Hope you like the gift I'm knitting for you!)

I found this pattern through my friend Kelly, who emailed myself and another knitting friend a question about the chart. I believe I forgot her question when I set eyes on the shawl! I knew I needed to knit it, but I'm still having a hard time rocking the shawl look. I need to learn how to artfully drape a knit shawl around my neck so I can wear them that way. Hopefully I can learn this art sometime soon. For now, I'll knit shawls for other people, mainly those I like a whole lot.

Ginkgo shawl closer up!

So far, this pattern's been a breeze. It looks pretty boring right now, but I'm fine with boring knitting if I can get this thing done before Christmas! I've been knitting on it here and there, whenever I have a spare minute or two, and I'm making decent progress. I can't wait until I get to the end.

DrupalCamp NH 2011!

Drupal Camp NH 2011

I've been in and out of the Drupal community for the past couple years. I worked extensively with the CMS from mid 2009 to mid 2010 when I changed jobs, and since that point, I've been playing with it here and there. I haven't been focusing on it as much as I should; I keep on seeing new technologies and think 'ooh, shiny!' However, every time I attend a DrupalCamp, I'm reminded how much I love the CMS, the community, and the awesomeness, and this time, I really want to make my way back to the community I love.


I woke up at the ungodly hour of 5:30am to drive to Manchester last Saturday morning. Yes, 5:30. I am surprised I not only woke up, but dressed myself accordingly and packed my overnight bag in almost complete darkness due to not wanting to wake poor Ted up. Sidenote: Ted's on off hours support sometimes. Last weekend was one of those times. He received a phone call at 12:30am about an issue, and he was on that call for THREE AND A HALF HOURS. He went to bed at around 4, so with me waking up an hour and a half later, I wanted to make sure he slept soundly!

Oh, another thing.

Weather stations in the area predicted a rare winter snowstorm for Saturday night, and on Thursday, I sucked it up and booked a hotel for the night. I did NOT want to chance driving the hour drive from Manchester to Portsmouth in a snowstorm. I wondered if I had made the right choice. Long story short? Yes, I did.

Back to the camp.

I arrived in Manchester at around 7:15, along with my fellow volunteers. Throughout the morning we set up the tables, talked to early arrivers, picked up coffee, and when the badges arrived, set them up on the registration table and started doling them out to registrants who arrived. It was hectic, but well worth it! I got to see many of my old friends — Jake Strawn, Michelle Lauer, Erich Beyrent, Chris Pliakas, Kenny Silanskas, Jeannie Finks, Susan MacPhee, Lisa Rex, Ryan Price — and talked to some new folks in the area as well. I also met Diana LeRoi-Schmidt for the first time in person after being Twitter friends for a long time! I loved being a volunteer, for sure!

I attended a few great sessions. My favorite of the day was Erich Beyrent's session Hack-Proof Your Drupal App, in which I learned most Drupal vulnerabilities lie in the theme layer! This made a perfect talk for me to attend, as honestly, I'm not great with security practices and the talk gave me some great ideas to protect my themes from unwanted attacks. I also attended Chris Pliakas's talk on Why Drupal Projects Fail, and I loved hearing his insight and I've always loved his talks!

I also ended up helping Michelle with her Ask the Experts: Site Building session on a pinch! I wasn't very well prepared for actually speaking at the camp this year, so hopefully I wasn't too terrible last week :). I made my speaking debut at DrupalCampNH last year and I spoke at Drupal Design Camp Boston in 2010, so I'm at least not new to the speaking in front of others thing. Hopefully next year I'll present again, now that I'm becoming more involved in the community again!

The rest of the camp went off without a hitch. However, at around 3:30, snow started falling, and by the time the camp ended at 6:30, the roads were awful. (However, I did win a copy of the awesome Definitive Guide to Drupal 7, signed by none other than Ben Melançon!) I've never, ever seen this much snow so early in the season, and I'm always nervous about driving when the first snowfall of the year comes. Still, I wanted to hit the afterparty at Milly's Tavern, so 15 minutes later after driving about 20mph through unplowed side streets in Manchester, I arrived.

I love Milly's beers, especially their Pumpkin Ale! I'm not big on pumpkin beers for the most part, but I enjoyed this one. I enjoyed the cinnamon on the rims, until the cinnamon started running down the sides of the glass, making my hands sticky. Still. Awesome beer! Even more awesomely, all the beers were free. One of the best parts of this DrupalCamp, though, of course, it's still second to talking Drupal with people at the party.

After a long, fun day of Drupal, I made my way down to my hotel. This drive was especially awful, punctuated with bright flashes of light either from lightning or transformers exploding. My car slipped and slid throughout the drive, and I felt relieved when I reached the hotel. My car got stuck in the parking lot, but I finally managed to secure a space. Whew.

When I finally made it to the front desk, though, I was greeted with unfortunate news; the hotel had lost power. "There's another hotel with power right down the street off of the major interstate," the woman at the front desk told me. "I'm not going back out there tonight," was my reply. NO WAY was I driving out there again, so I sucked it up and stayed in a powerless hotel that night. Let me tell you, walking down a pitch black hotel corridor with nothing but a flashlight to light your way is just a little on the creepy side!

I went to sleep when I got to my room, and woke up the next morning to sunlight. Who needs power?

Thankfully my drive back to Portsmouth a few hours later was uneventful. I made a good call waiting until the next day to drive back, as the road from Manchester to Portsmouth was pretty much plowed. And, of course, when I arrived home, I found that we'd never lost power at our apartment and all the snow was almost melted. I was amazed at the difference!

All in all, DrupalCampNH kicked ass! It's reaffirmed what I already knew; I need to get back into Drupal. I need to change this blog back to Drupal and I really want to attend DrupalCon Denver in March. I'd love to get back into the community and start doing more to help! This time, I really want to stick with it.

Drupal Design Camp Boston 2011

D4D 2011

Last Saturday, I attended Drupal Design Camp Boston, an event I've been going to for the past few years. Throughout the years, I've participated, both as an attendee and as a speaker! This is the first Drupal event I ever attended, so it holds a special place in my heart.

I'd been on the fence about going; I haven't been working with Drupal as much since I left my job as a Drupal themer/developer last year. I also hadn't even touched Drupal 7 and knew I needed to stay current for fear of really falling out of the Drupal loop.

I am so, SO glad I attended this year! I had forgotten just how much I love the Drupal community and meeting new people. I caught up with my old buddies @bymiche, @himerus, @susanmacphee, @lisarex, @finkatronic and met up with a few new people, including @geekgirlweb! I had a great conversation with @nikibrown at the afterparty and hung out with New Hampshire Drupallers @kbaringer and @hak42. So, so much fun!

I also attended a few great sessions; @evolvingweb's session on how they built Travelocity's Allhotels CMS in Drupal, Peter Farrow's presentation on jQuery Mobile, @kenwoodworth's talk on CSS3 and preprocessors, focusing on SASS (which I REALLY need to start using!) and lastly, @himerus' talk on his Omega theme and responsive layouts. Jake, your presentation rocked my socks off and I now want your madd Keynote skillz.

I came home from the day inspired and rejuvenated, eager to dive into Drupal 7 and some of the other technologies I learned about. I'm so excited, even now, and I'm so happy I braved the massive thunderstorms last Saturday morning to meet up with a bunch of talented, intelligent, friendly people. Thank you, #d4dboston!

Kate the Great Day 2011!

So, I kind of like beer. A lot. I love trying new beers and scoping out breweries.

My favorite brewery, however, has to be the Portsmouth Brewery, just a short walk away from my apartment! This brewery? One of the best things about living in Portsmouth. Sure, Smuttynose and Redhook are good as well, but to me, the Brewery is the best.

When I first went to the Brewery to check out their beers, I started hearing about this fabled beer, Kate the Great. I heard about the lines, the standing in the cold, getting up way early in the morning to get a few bottles. I very nearly went to Kate Day 2010, but I'm not the friendliest at 6am on a cold late winter morning! So I waited. I bought an Imperial Pint Club membership that fall. And was rewarded with my first taste of Kate in December 2010 at an Imperial Pint Club anniversary party.

Yes. I was in love.

This year, I knew I needed to take the day off and stand in line. Why not? It would at least be a story to tell! I knew I'd meet interesting beer geeks from all over the area and it would be a fun day.

So. 9:30am. I woke up, showered, and walked to the Brewery, only to find the line like this:

KtG Day 2011 line

No worries. I checked my phone a bit, texted a couple people, and talked to the people in line behind me. I can text any time. Meeting other Kate enthusiasts? This only happens once a year.

So, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. The outside temperature wasn't terrible when I started waiting, but when 11:30 rolled around, I started feeling pretty chilly. I just wanted to go inside and drink my delicious beer!

At 11:45, I got my wish. Time for Kate!

KtG Day 2011 glass

I ended up sitting at a table near the front of the Brewery near the front door, apparently in the view of the live cam ALL day. It was kind of great. I loved my seat. I met many cool people; a few guys from Chelmsford, a young couple from Providence, some people who talked about the Decemberists and Bright Eyes over their beers... it was great. I was the only local at my table, which surprised me, though I did see a couple of my buddies (Brian of Seacoast Beverage Lab and Twitter user @thevandaley) enjoying themselves.

KtG Day 2011 beer board

All in all, a very awesome day! I brought home Kate Day shirts for both Ted and I, and we ended up picking up the bottles we won from this year's lottery system just this past weekend. We're looking forward to drinking them, whenever that will be! I'm already looking forward to Kate Day 2012!

(Note: Ted was supposed to come with me, but ended up having to work that Monday. Let's just say I drank enough Kates for both of us...)

DrupalCamp Montréal 2009

Drupal Camp Montréal 2009!
The Drupal Camp Montréal 2009 crowd!

This past weekend, myself, along with a few cohorts at Commonplaces (@sethcohn, @himerus@bymiche, and @ebeyrent), traveled by van up to the faraway land of Canada to attend DrupalCamp Montréal! My coworkers each presented at least one session over the two day camp, and I was there to cheer them on from the sidelines.

Among some of my favorite sessions were, of course, my coworker Jake Strawn's presentation on Advanced 960.gs theming with his awesome Omega theme, my coworker Michelle Lauer's presentation on Advanced Views: Arguments and Relationships, and my boss Erich Beyrent's case study on Twolia.com, a site I worked on a little bit at the very end of the project when I first started working for Commonplaces.

I also enjoyed Michael Collins's Extreme Navigation TacticsLisa Rex's presentation on an awesome site she worked on with Jake called What's the Soup, implementing Google Map goodness, and Angie Byron's BOF on patching Drupal.  Her presentation made me want to dive on in and see what I can help with! So, now I'm excited.

Of course, I was also reminded that Drupalers love to get their beer on afterhours.  Two thumbs up to Benelux and their awesome, delicious brews!

I am happy to have become part of the Drupal community during the past six months.  I love the people, I love the comraderie, and I love the project.  I am hoping to give a presentation of my own in December at DrupalCamp NYC; I'm considering giving a talk on the basics of Ubercart.  The prospect of this has me very excited.

Thanks to everyone who put together such a great DrupalCamp!  I'm very excited to see the quality of the video recordings for each session; props go to DNB for their awesome job recording, and I can't wait to see what the results look like! Thanks for the good times, Montréal!

Nanowrimo 2009

It's started again; National Novel Writing Month!  This will be my seventh year participating in the madness that is writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, and I look forward to it every year. The madness starts on November 1st, but I will be spending the month of October getting ready for hardcore novel writing.

This year's Nano will be strange; I met a very awesome group of people who became some of my best friends when I lived in South Bend, and doing NaNoWriMo without them will be an adjustment.  However, I've joined the New Hampshire region of the forums this year and the region seems to be fairly active with meetups and write-ins, so I'm optimistic I will find new writing friends here.  Still, I will miss my South Bend writing buddies.

This year I am going to attempt my grocery store romance yet again.  I've tried writing this for NaNoWriMo both in 2005 and 2007 and failed miserably, so I'm crossing my fingers I can finish it this year.  I plan on outlining, fleshing out my characters, and having a general idea of where I want the story to go, so hopefully that will help me out this year. Either way, I am excited! And writing a funny, cheesy novel about grocery store employees is right up my alley, I have to say.

Is anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo this year?