March Madness

March is one of my favorite months of the year. And no, not because of basketball (although we do start watching more Spurs games). March contains my birthday, spring break (usually) my anniversary, and of course the end of winter.

This year, March has been particularly crazy and full of laughs, smiles, late nights, and good friends. I want to record as much of it as I can before it disappears from my memory. πŸ™‚ The month started off like any other month, until the second week when my birthday came on the 11th. It wasn’t anything special. Just a normal Wednesday, but we went out to dinner with friends and went to see our favorite Filipino band at the Village. It was low key and fun. After all 31 isn’t really a milestone age, so no fuss was ok.

That weekend, we had a nice dinner at a friends house on Friday, and on Saturday, I got up early to meet my friend Lariska to go to the Color Run Shenzhen. The Color Run is a popular race around the world, it tours through lots of cities in the US and in China. The “race” is really just a reason to get covered in powdered color, laugh and get your picture taken. It took place pretty far out from where we live in Shekou, so it took us 2 hours by metro to get there. It went by fast though, Lariska was good company and we chatted the whole way. When we arrived at the race, it was already underway. We checked in our stuff, then wandered to the start, which included taking lots of pictures and gathering up some free stuff being distributed. We saw some people from work and took more pictures before finally starting the race. It had a rolling start, with groups going every 5ish minutes so we joined a group and started to jog as soon as they shouted to go. It was very clear that no one had any intention of actually running the race. Lariska and I attempted to, but every few feet we were showered with gleeful people with handfuls of color. There were also a few stations along the way dedicated to getting you as colorful as possible. We were completely covered when we finally finished. We took a few more pics, got covered with even more color, then decided to head back to our side of town. It was pretty funny watching the faces of the people on the subway and we had the most person space I’ve ever had on there! Haha. I was happy to get in the shower and shed the color by the time I got home. I think maybe next year I’ll bring Paul. I saved my packet of color and colored him purple the next day and he loved it. πŸ™‚ A few Color Run pics:] IMG_6824 IMG_6803 IMG_6833IMG_6831IMG_6833IMG_6828IMG_6830IMG_6834After I got cleaned up, and took a short nap, I was off again to meet up with friends to go out to the new location of Bionic Brew. This is their third place, and Donnie and I really like their beer so we were excited to find it. Unfortunately, Donnie had a pretty wretched cough and sinus infection, so he was unable to come. So I joined up with some friends from work and headed out there. I had invited some of the ladies I play soccer with, so it was fun to mix my social groups. And of course since Shekou is like a small town, some of them knew each other. After a few yummy beers at Bionic, we hopped in a taxi back to Shekou. We went back to the Village to catch the last show I would see of that Filipino band. My other friends went home, so it became sort of a ladies night/birthday celebration with the soccer crew. We moved on to a latin bar called Laffe, but I called it quits around 2:30am (they went on until almost 6am) and headed home. It was a harsh recovery on Sunday, but I made it and it was worth all the fun from the night before. IMG_6835 IMG_6842 IMG_6848Β  Β  The next week was parent conferences, which means meetings all day long for two days straight, followed by 3 days of normal school. Donnie and I had a quiet night in for our anniversary. Eight years has passed and it’s gone by so fast! He was too sick and I was too tired to plan anything super special, but I did make a green cheesecake to commemorate the event (our anniversary is St. Patrick’s Day). We went to a quiz night, which was fun, but we missed our counterparts, Zack and Honey. They were out of town with very important business (adopting their child!). And the following night I had a dinner with the soccer girls at one of their houses.

This is a pic from our honeymoon in Munich 8 years ago. So young, so fresh. :)
This is a pic from our honeymoon in Munich 8 years ago. So young, so fresh. πŸ™‚
This was actually very tasty the pic doesn't do it justice.
This was actually very tasty the pic doesn’t do it justice.

Laura hosted, she’s from Mexico, and she made the most delicious spread of vegetarian Mexican food and some delicious mango drinks and margaritas. It was heaven! I have truly grown to appreciate my soccer nights and the time with these ladies. They are from all walks of life and areas of the world and I love that I can call them friends. It’s taken time to develop friendships, but I do think they will be long lasting. πŸ™‚

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Wow. I want some right now.
Such a fun group.
Such a fun group.
IMG_6872
Laura, picking the jams and me, drooling over the food.

Another thing we’ve been doing this month is prepping for the first beer festival we were invited to as brewers! We are taking our brewing a bit more seriously now, and so we bought ourselves some better equipment. As dorky or obsessed as I might sound, the new equipment is awesome! And the act of brewing has become a relaxing activity that Donnie and I can do together (Paul helps too) at home on the weekends. We get most of our ingredients from a shop in HK, but we ordered the new, bigger, better equipment from an online outlet through taobao. Our upgrades include pots with spouts (sooo much easier!) and a mash ton that can hold 40L, a digital thermometer, a few fermenting containers and a new wort chiller. This was one of those, “I’m so happy I live in China” moments because all of our new gear only cost around $150 USD. We have only used our new stuff once, but we were really happy doing it. We had a couple of friends come over and join us for the last bit. That batch should be ready to be bottled this weekend. πŸ™‚ (If anyone has any brewery names for us…we need a good one. The only one I can come up with is Mixtli Brau or Nanhai Brews.)

Sparge water and mash ton ready to go...
Sparge water and mash ton ready to go…
Mashing in.
Mashing in.
Post mash, prepping for the boil. NO MORE SCOOPING!
Post mash, prepping for the boil. NO MORE SCOOPING!
Boiling. Our house smells like a hoppy brewery in this stage.
Boiling. Our house smells like a hoppy brewery in this stage.
Chilling the wort with our new chiller. :)
Chilling the wort with our new chiller. πŸ™‚

Ok, enough geeking out about beer…except that we spent the last weekend in March enjoying it! We headed out to the first craft brew festival this past Saturday. The backstory is that the guy who runs Bionic Brew (basically the only craft brew pub in Shenzhen) invited us to join a homebrewers group, and then in turn invited us to bring our beer to the homebrew tent at the festival. It’s a way to socialize and keep in touch with other brewers. So we brewed up a hoppy batch of IPA, and headed out to the festival with 3 gallons to share. We went pretty early, and the breweries were still setting up so we made some friends by bringing the owners some of our already iced and ready beer. They returned the favor later. πŸ™‚ We met so many fantastic people! We met equipment distributors, fellow home brewers, owners of craft brew pubs, ingredient suppliers, friendly beer lovers and the best part was, they all LOVED our beer. It was sad when we ran out and had to go home. I was so happy to be a part of it, I was proud that our brew could stand up against some of the professionals and that we had made all these awesome new contacts. We could’ve stayed longer, but I wanted to get back and have the rest of the day with Paul (he was having a blast with Amy).

There were 6 local breweries in attendance.
There were 6 local breweries in attendance.
In a place called Honey Lake. There was a defunct amusement park as the background. Sort of gave a post-apocalyptic vibe.
In a place called Honey Lake. There was a defunct amusement park as the background. Sort of gave a post-apocalyptic vibe.
Ready to share!
Ready to share!
My homemade sign for the homebrew tent.
My homemade sign for the homebrew tent.
We're the best brewers ever!
We’re the best brewers ever!
Tons of dudes.
Tons of dudes.

The last weekend wrapped up with an Easter egg hunt in a neighboring community garden. Paul and I went last year, and so we went again this year. There were so many kids! It was chaos, but Paul had a really fun time. It’s so great that we can count on our QSI family to host major holidays like this. I don’t think I’d be able to keep up with it all if they didn’t host things like this. πŸ™‚

IMG_6987 IMG_6986 IMG_6985 IMG_6983 IMG_6982 IMG_6969 IMG_6967 IMG_6966 IMG_6964easter pic

So it truly has been a busy month, but so much fun also. April will go by just as fast. We go to HK this weekend for the long weekend, then I leave on a school trip to Nepal on April 10. May will be here before we know it, but June still seems so far away. Summer plans are in the works to stay tuned. πŸ™‚

Here are a few random pics I couldn’t resist posting:

IMG_6931 IMG_6927 IMG_6892 IMG_6861IMG_6921

Love to all, and I hope your March was just as fun and full of love.

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