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Chronic FOMO

Bar Institute Austin

Humpback Sally’s UpFront at Bar Institute Austin

Bartenders host the best events. Try to prove me wrong, but if you’ve ever been to a Lush Life Productions events, you know. Though I’ve never been to Camp Runamok or Portland Cocktail Week (both are on my bucket list), I went to the educational Bar Institutes in Miami and Austin. Right now, I’m missing Bar Institute New York, which will showcase the year’s most popular seminars and presentations.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve skipped or missed a lot of those events, both locally and nationally. Instead of traveling for work or fun, I’ve mainly been making trips out of necessity to visit family. At the time, family took precedence, and I wouldn’t trade the memories from those trips for anything in the world.

The tiny, fearful part of my brain tries to convince me otherwise. “You could be having so much fun,” it whispers. “You’re only young once.” But even at the events I’ve attended, even at amazing Bar Institute parties and dinners with friends I love, I find myself counting down until I would be by myself, curled up under a bunch of blankets.

It would seem that there’s no right answer. But the truth is that I’ve been pushing myself beyond the limits of my body and mind for more than a year. I’ve been exhausted, both mentally and physically, and need to give myself some time to heal. Hell, after my last big trip in July, it took almost three months to recover from feeling utterly off-kilter when I got home.

Tonight, I’ll wish my friends all the best fun, drinks, and food New York has to offer. Y’all post all the pictures so I can keep up and stay jealous, alright? If you need me, I’ll be curled up on my couch under a blanket, headed for an earlyish bedtime.

This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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Whiskey Trail: Day Two

Day two was our Suntory-Beam visit.* We started the day by sleepily boarding the bus at 7:30 a.m. After an uneventful (and half-asleep) drive, we reached Jim Beam. This visit was one of the most interactive tours we experienced, and started out with guests getting the chance to scoop grains into the mash cooker.

Probably the coolest part of the tour was being shown around by Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s seventh generation master distiller. He’s a character, to say the least. When your dad is Booker Noe, I think being colorful is pretty much an expectation. His stories…man, his stories. I could tell you, but it’d undermine some of the pitches I have placed or sent.

From there, we headed to the Maker’s Mark Distillery. It was rustic, picturesque and absolutely gorgeous. It’s the type of place where you wouldn’t be surprised to see a man in a frock coat running to catch a well-trimmed buggy.

And did I mention that part of the aging warehouse has a ceiling designed and created by Dale Chihuly? It’s stunning. We exited through the gift shop and it was time to depart.

One of the things that was most interesting to me was that both of these distilleries allowed visitors more access to unfinished bottles. At Jim Beam, they allowed us to rinse our own Knob Creek bottles and then to fingerprint the wax when it was still warm. At Maker’s, the gift shop has the option that allows you to dip a bottle in their red wax and let it drip down the sides.

Then it was back to the bus for the ride to Louisville. We ate out, and then caught drinks at the Seelbach Bar in the lobby of our hotel, the Seelbach Hotel. It’s. Gorgeous.

Tomorrow, we visit Woodford and Wild Turkey. I’m looking forward to visiting both, and will be sure to take enough notes to recap the day.

*Suntory bought/merged with Jim Beam (which owns Maker’s Mark) in May.

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Whiskey Trail, Day One

On Monday evening, I opened up the bar at Octane and then left. From there, I went home, packed, ate, and went to pick up my rental car. You know it’s going to be an interesting night when your reservations specify a “Toyota Camry (or similar)” and the person behind the counter asks if you’d rather a SUV or minivan.

When I walked into the parking deck and spotted my white Ford Expedition, I immediately named her White Lightning. She was bigger than the foyer of my apartment building and handled like a yacht. Driving in such a contraption was both awesome and terrifying, and I blasted CHVRCHES and my trashy, trashy road trip playlist.

One uneventful drive later, I stopped by No. 308 in Nashville to see Alan and crash the local USBG party that was going on there. Five words: Lucky Charms and Jameson punch. It was rad.

The next morning, I bade White Lightning farewell and hopped on the Discus (Distilled Spirits Council) bus to the George Dickel distillery. It was (shamefully) my first ever distillery tour, and the combination of whiskey, food, nerdery and scenery was so cool.

From there, we rode to Lynchburg, TN to the Jack Daniels distillery. During our time on the property we toured, ate, and spoke with both their master distiller and assistant master distiller. After dinner, the group hopped back on the bus and headed to Bowling Green, KY to spend the night.

Thanks to the excessive amounts of espresso and tea I consumed to make it through the drive, I didn’t sleep much that night, which meant the rest of the day was kind of surreal. But if the week keeps up at this pace, I can’t wait to see what else is in store.

I’m lumping my late night drive into this entry because I want to. So there.

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Split a decision with long division

FEED ME

FEED ME

When I landed my first big girl job, I panicked. Taking over responsibility for my health and car insurance payments seemed more daunting at the time than finishing hundreds of hours of physics research. I had budgeted my time and money before, but needed more support and clearly outlined goals. I needed to invest money in envelopes or time in finding a web-based service.

My first instinct was to go back to Mint. I had first adopted this service two years ago after researching quite a few budgeting and business apps for my first freelancing article. Though the Mint app was free, its interface was anything but intuitive. To this day, I couldn’t tell you how to set a budget or savings goals on that website. After a few months of bill reminders and weekly spending reports, I abandoned that account.

Instead of revamping my Mint account, I started googling. Several articles later, I stumbled across LearnVest. The web-based service was still in Beta testing, but the interface was clean and the budget center easy to navigate. In 20 minutes, I had set a budget, marked financial goals and enrolled in a budgeting boot camp.

I spent several hours surfing their Knowledge Center section. Reading stories from others in their 20s, 30s and even 40s who were starting from scratch has been a powerful motivator. The daily e-mails about articles and service updates keeps me engaged and reminds me that my money and debt exist. It also reminds me that I am not alone.

Since then, LearnVest has introduced an app that miniaturizes most of the services available on the website including the articles. Using a combination of the app and online services and the envelope system, I reached my first savings goal last month. At the same time, we have built up a vacation fund by saving loose change and using a rewards-based credit card for all grocery (6%) and gas (3%) purchases.

Even though money is tight, a modest beach weekend is on the horizon with plans to travel to points further afield this summer. None of it would be possible without a budget and a plan.

Today’s title is from Bo Burnham‘s “New Math.” Full disclaimer: I did not receive compensation for this review.

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