Monday, March 31, 2008

Wine

Paul and I had a great weekend visiting Hannah. We drove up to Mansfield Friday evening, Han made us dippy eggs on Saturday morning, and then we drove up to NY to Lake Seneca! We originally wanted to visit Watkins Glen to hike around in the state park, but the Gorge Trail was closed for the winter, so we found a park on the lake and froze our arses off walking across a bridge and out on a little jut of rock to get down by the water. It was in the 50's here in South Centeral PA, but up in NY around Lake Seneca there was fresh snow on the ground, and the branches and rocks near the water that got splashed with each little wave were coated in a thick layer of ice. By the lake there was also a strong, extremely cold wind that took my breath away.

Luckily after that we warmed up in a little deli in Watkins Glen and had yummy sandwiches on fresh-baked bread.

After our little escapade in town, we drove up the West side of the lake to an organic winery slightly off the beaten path, and had a very nice wine tasting that we shared with two very friendly cats. I bought a bottle of one of the reds we tried: it was just one of the most delicious things I'd ever tasted! Han's going to come cook dinner some evening this summer and we'll drink it then. Yum!

Since the deli where we had lunch didn't have a bathroom, and the organic winery didn't either, I was getting a little desperate. Luckily, the other winery Han wanted to visit was on the other side of the lake, so we drove back down to Watkins Glen, failed to find a bathroom at Sunoco and Subway, and finally found success at Hardee's. What's the deal with public restrooms? Sheesh.

Then we headed back up the East side of the lake to a bigger, more commercial winery where, for $4 each, Han and I got to taste 12 wines and each got a free wineglass! As it turned out, they had the wine tasting sorted by color with the reds first, and by the time we were halfway thru the reds a bus had arrived carrying a rather obnoxious blonde 20-something who said "Can I skip right to the reisling?" when she looked at the wine list. So Han and I being the wine snobs that we are decided to skip the rest of the white wines and blushes, and leave with our sanity and our free wine glasses. Han bought a bottle of Roaring Red.

We went on a mini-hike down a big hill thru the grape vine fields behind the second winery, which had a stunning panoramic view of the lake - gorgeous.

After we got back to the car, we decided to keep heading North, and to Paul's delight saw a sign for a winery that was also a brewery. So we stopped there and did a beer tasting, which Paul enjoyed a lot. Surprisingly, probably because I was very slightly buzzed from all the wine, I really enjoyed the beer as well! We all liked their seasonal Sugarhouse Maple, made only once each Spring just after the Maple trees are tapped, so it somehow incorporates maple syrup into the brewing process. It was really quite good. Paul bought a mixed 6-pack for us, and we got a 6-pack of the Maple for my Dad.

On the way back South, we stopped for some fun pictures at a waterfall tumbling down the on the West side of the road: it flowed over some huge, flat rocks under the road, and then continued down on the other side. It was nice to have Hannah along, because for once I could get some pictures of Paul and me without either handing my expensive digital camera over to a stranger or taking it myself at an arm's length (not good for those panoramic views).

We took a lap around the gift shop at the Corning Glass Museum since it was about to close and also it's free to get in to the gift shop, and even got to see a big Chiuly glass sculpture that resides in the museum's lobby. Then we had dinner at a brewery restaurant in Corning, where the food was mediocre, but we had fun anyway.

When we got back to Han's apartment we were all so pooped that we spent the rest of the evening watching the next three episodes of Battlestar Galactica that Paul hadn't seen yet, and then went to bed. The next morning, we slept in a bit, and had breakfast at Mansfield's coffee shop before Paul and I headed home. Paul and I stopped at two "scenic views" on the way home, then had a normal Sunday afternoon culminating in a yummy meatloaf dinner while watching an episode of The Wire.

And now it's Monday, and I have to go to work. Boo. I've got my backpack full of swim gear, though, so I will be heading to the Y to swim at 6:00. Still gotta lose this gut before the end of May...

Pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

no more puffy eyes!

My goggles and swim cap came today! I was going to go to the Y and do the elliptical machine this afternoon before bell choir practice, but instead I went swimming, and I made a very happy discovery: the pool is very low-traffic right after the swim team is finished at 6:00 PM. So instead of dragging myself out of bed at 6:00 AM to go and share a lane with someone, I can go after work at 6:00 PM when I'm tired of sitting at a desk all day and bursting for some physical activity and have a lane all to myself! It's a win-win situation. So that's what I plan to do from now on, and I'll wake up early just on the days when I ride my bike to work, which will hopefully start to happen soon - it was warm enough this evening that I didn't wear a jacket to bells, and then when I left bells it was chillier, but still OK to walk to my car with no coat and short sleeves. YAY!!!

Oh, and perhaps it's too early to tell for sure, but the goggles worked very well at keeping my eyes dry (as did the swim cap at keeping my hair out of my face), and so far my eyes are happy and I have no discomfort, so it seems I've solved my main swimming problems. Now if I could only get comfortable at breathing to the left so I could alternate sides while I do laps...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Puffy

Last Wednesday, Paul and I got a family membership at the YMCA! I'm very excited about it.

The very next morning, I got up early and went to do laps. I was amazed at how tired I got after only a few lengths of the pool - I used to be able to do 20+ laps! I'll get better.

This morning I did the elliptical machines instead of swimming, however, because I'm pretty sure it was the chlorine from the pool that gave me very puffy, itchy eyes for days afterwards, all the way thru Sunday. I ordered matching pink swim cap (to keep my hair out of my eyes) and goggles (to keep the chlorine out of my eyes) on Amazon, and they should be here later this week. Then the only thing I'll have to deal with is the dry, itchy skin from the chlorine, but I will keep lotion and face lotion especially to mitigate that.

So despite everything so far, I'm still REALLY excited to have a Y membership and be able to swim regularly. The exercise room is also very nice, with tons of elliptical machines (my fav), including some with individual TV's with a headphone jack, so you can not only tune into the radio frequency of the TV's on the wall, you can also watch just exactly what you want! Unfortunately all the radio waves flying around from the wall TV's makes it difficult for me to listen to NPR on my little radio...but o well.

Oh, and probably my favorite part of our Y membership, and something I didn't even know we'd get going into it, is an included membership at the HUGE outdoor pool and rec center just south of New Cumberland! I'm really excited that now I have a place to swim outside in the summer where I won't have to pay to get in every time. Yay!

I didn't get to bed early enough last night, so I'm going to try again tonight and hopefully do more elliptical machine tomorrow morning, but I also need to get to work early, so if I don't manage to get my lazy butt out of bed on time I'll go tomorrow afternoon instead and check out the crowd levels at a different time of day.

Paul and I also got ourselves an Easter present in light of our new Y membership: we went to the cool sneaker place in Swatara where they look at how you walk and your foot width and arches and stuff, and then give you a ton of sneakers to try on so you get a pair that fits perfectly. We each got a shiny, new, custom-fitted pair of sneakers to wear ONLY when we're working out at the Y or walking (which we've also done twice since last Wednesday). They're very nice, and Paul's are especially an improvement over previous sneakers, because at this place they were able to sell him extra-wide shoes for his extra-wide feet! I like my sneakers because they're so amazingly lightweight compared to any sneakers I've ever had before. Very cool. Then the plan is to stick with the same pair of sneakers and next time we need a new pair we can order the same ones online for cheaper.

So hopefully I'm on my way to a more beach-ready body by the end of May for Kelly's wedding week extravaganza at the Outer Banks!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tidbits

Lots of fun since my last post!

First of all, here are my pics of Kelly R's bridal shower! It was very fun. The photos up now are full-sized for now (in case anyone wants to download), but I'll take these down and put them back up with the smaller file size in a few weeks.


After the shower we were going to have a bridesmaid sleep over at Katie's, but everyone ended up having other things to do, so Katie, Laura, Kelly, and I just hung out at Katie's for a little bit, ate some snacks, played with Katie's adorable, friendly rat terrier and watched him do some funny tricks like turning on and off the lights, rolling over, and giving a high-five, and then went home around 7:00.

I was glad we decided not to sleep over, because I had to be at church at 10:15 this morning to practice Ubi Caritas one more time before Thursday night, altho we didn't end up practicing then because a few of the youth bell choir kids were very late and they needed to practice. The one girl did show up until right before they were supposed to play the preludes, so Tim had already pulled me in to play...I heard from Amy that she was pretty upset that she couldn't play, but I think Tim was right to not let her - everyone is so important, that if even one person is missing it really messes things up for everyone else, so it's not fair to the other kids who were there on time to practice. A few others were late but still got there in time to practice, but Tim got really mad! I've never seen him be so stern and angry!

You know how when you were in school and your teacher was yelling at the entire class for something that a few students had done, how even if you weren't at fault at all, you still felt bad and got all tense? Well, I was standing there with my bells when another girl came in late (25 minutes late at that point), and that's what set Tim off, so I was "in the class," so to speak, as they were getting yelled at. So that made me all tense, and then even tho the bells I was playing had quite a simple part and I did do fine when we played (I only messed up one note), I was nervous because I had only played the songs once before. Then when the bells were done playing the adult choir was singing the last prelude, so I had to trot back to the Narthex, grab my music, and only snuck in the door in time to pick up the song at the top of the second page! So I was all out of breath and sweating like crazy, and with the much larger than usual attendance on Palm Sunday, it was warmer than usual in the Nave to boot. I was so warm. Blech. And that was my Sunday morning.

Now I'm sitting in the family room blogging while Paul's corned beef brisket roasts in the oven, along with 5 carrots, 5 potatoes, four onions, four stalks of celery, a bunch of garlic, two parsnips, and a rutabaga, and it smells divine! We're having our Irish dinner for St. Patrick's Day tonight, even tho St. Patrick's Day is tomorrow, or technically last Friday because the Pope actually officially moved it this year so it wouldn't interfere with Holy Week, haha.

Hannah made a yummy dinner for us last Wednesday evening, including fresh bread she baked earlier that afternoon. Well, Paul and I forgot about the half loaf left on the counter, and so of course it was very stale when I found it today...so I have it cut up into bite-sized cubes and tossed with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and fresh minced garlic, and later tonight (once the brisket is out) I'll spread them on a cookie sheet and finish making some yummy croutons. Then later this week Paul and I are going to have a healthy dinner of fresh greens, chicken breast, and the croutons. Probably some red onion too...mmmmm. So that will be a delicious, healthy dinner, and Hannah's great bread won't go to waste.

And now, since I know you've been wondering (since you care so much about my cell phone): I love my Cherry Chocolate, it's been great, no problems. It's so sleek looking, I love keeping it in my pocket, and I love popping it open to make a call and zipping it closed again when I'm done - it's so fun! I definitely don't regret buying it. I have it set to auto-answer, so if I have my headphone plugged in when someone calls, it rings twice and then picks up without me having to press anything - that will be fun and handy for when I ride my bike to work! Eventually hopefully I can get the bluetooth headset, but for now the older one I have is fine. And with the 1Gb micro SD card we have, I just need to rip a few CDs to wma files, and I should be able to use my one headset to listen to music while I ride, and I think the phone would then switch to a phone call automatically, and hopefully back when the person hangs up, all without me having to do anything! I love it.

Paul and I went on a nice long walk this afternoon once he had all the veggies chopped and them along with the brisket in the oven. We discovered that it's pretty nice to walk down towards the Susquehanna and then along the railroad tracks for a ways, but right when you're about as far south as the theater in New Cumberland it gets a little too rocky. Luckily that was the perfect place for us to come back up to the road, since Paul wanted to stop at Coakley's to get a sixpack of Guiness to have with dinner. So now I just have to wait patiently until 8:00 when we get everything out of the oven and dig in! It's going to be so good...mmmmmm......

In other news, if you have a Picasa web album (Google's photo-sharing program), send me a link to you so I can add you as a favorite! I somehow missed this feature, luckily Kelly M (it's so weird that she's not Kelly D, haha) and Rachel enlightened me yesterday at the shower. I finally found Kelly and Rachel's, and I have my mom and Julie D, so I think I've got everyone who has one, but if you've got a Picasa let me know!!

Dinner is smelling better and better...gotta wait another 70 minutes until dinner...I don't think I can make it!!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cell Phone Saga: Every cloud has a chocolate lining

So last night I kind of noticed that I didn't know where my phone was, but thought nothing of it.

This morning I had Paul call my phone, and he informed me it went right to voicemail, meaning the phone was off. That was strange, since I knew the phone had been plenty charged, and I certainly hadn't turned it off myself. Even when I am at the movies or in a meeting or something, I only set it to vibrate, never turn it off. But anyway, I figured I had left it on my desk at work, and still wasn't worried.

Shortly thereafter I got into work, where a quick glance around my cubicle revealed no phone. I commented out loud that, huh, I didn't know where my phone was, and someone down the row answered that someone had brought a phone in this morning that they had found in the parking lot. Sure it was mine, I went out to the admin's desk, and sure enough, there was my phone.

It had spent the night in a rainy parking lot.

It did not work any more.

Actually, after drying out all day and a new battery (that, oddly enough, I happened to have in my purse - actually the original battery that only holds a charge for about 3 hours), the phone miraculously powered on. However, the screen occasionally flickered to white, and the antenna must have been damaged as well, because sometimes it showed zero signal even though I usually have lots of bars at my office.

After chatting with my co-workers, I decided to head out to the Verizon store after work to see if they'd give me my new-every-two discount 11 days early.

At the Verizon store, the guy informed me that (1) I needed to either have my dad with me or have him add my name to the account in order to get my new phone, and (2) he would get me a new battery for my old phone, but (3) I would have to wait until 3/16 to get a new phone.

So, with my new battery in my deteriorating but semi-functional old phone, I headed to Killian Fireplace Center to see my dad. He agreed to add me to the account so that I wouldn't drag him out to the Verizon store on a Sunday, so I called the customer service number from Paul's phone and waited on hold until a person picked up. After my dad added my name to the account, the customer service guy said he would check with his supervisor about moving my discount up to today...so dad handed the phone back to me, where I waited on hold for about another 5 minutes. When the guy came back on, he had the news I wanted to hear - my discount had been moved up to today, yay!!

So I headed back out the pike and back into the Verizon store, where I triumphantly purchased my first-ever non-free phone. When the girl tried to offer me a car charger, insurance, texting, and other add-ons, I told her that this was my first time ever paying for a cell phone and I didn't think I could handle any more than that right now. She was very friendly, and after waiting while she transfered all my contacts and pictures, I skipped out of the store with my very own LG Cherry Chocolate phone!!

I am so excited, I can't even tell you. Ninny says Franny just got a blue chocolate, so with me and Betsy that makes 3 chocolate cousins! We are so cool. I hope Hannah decides to get that Samsung one that opens two ways and has a full keyboard so that she can have lots of fun with her text messaging. But right now I am just super excited that I have a really fun cell phone for the first time ever! YAY.

Foe Paw

Just spotted for sale on facebook:

"$150 - single pain Bay Windows listed at Harrisburg, PA"

Now why would I want to buy that?

From the picture next to them, it actually looks like they each have 9 "pains." That's even worse.

Seeing things like this gives me a pane in my head.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spring!

I was all gung-ho to go on another walk with Paul yesterday evening to take advantage of the great weather (since I was too lazy to get up early and ride my bike to work), but then instead we sat on our behinds and ate yummy food for three hours...but I have an excuse: Hannah's friend Susan's parents couldn't make it to the cooking demonstration at the Kitchen Shoppe in Carlisle, so they offered it to Paul and me at the last minute! It was pretty cool, and the Kitchen Shoppe definitely has TONS of neat stuff there - more gadgets that I've ever seen in one place before, for starters. The food we ate was pretty good; I think I'll try the oven risotto, I'd definitely make the basil chicken pasta salad again, and the stuffed pork was also tasty and very tender. I also want to try making balsamic glaze sometime, even tho you can buy it and it's just as good. The chef was this very full of himself guy from Lancaster who talked about himself more than the food, but it was interesting stuff. He travels all over the world, has a BS in biochem or something, then went to cooking school, has some connection with the congress of the EU even tho he's an American, and is also somehow an RN to boot. He is also unmarried and, I think, gay - at the very least he couldn't possibly be doing all these things and even have a serious relationship, let alone a marriage or children.

I've heard from a lot of people so far about the LG Chocolate phone, all VERY bad with the exception of my cousin Betsy, who loves hers. I believe she has the newer model, the VX8550, and that everyone else has the VX8500. That's what I'm hoping anyway. So I might still get it...if I can't have the Chocolate, I want a brick phone, but I searched thru literally every phone for sale on Verizon's website last night, and not a single brick phone. They're all flip or slide, unless I want a PDA or blackberry, which I don't and besides can't afford. So that's my tale of woe...hehe...I'm so piteous, right? I mean, to have this kind of problem...

In other news, Paul and I are going to visit Hannah in Mansfield on the last weekend in March: sleep at her place Friday night, head up to the Finger Lakes in NY early Saturday, spend the morning walking around, hiking, grab lunch when we're hungry, and then Hannah wants to go to a wine tasting so hopefully we'll find a good place to do that - apparently also something they have a lot of around that area. Then I figure we'll head back to Mansfield and take Han out to dinner on the way, and spend the rest of the evening hanging out at the bar with whoever, and head home after brunch on Sunday late morning/early afternoon. Which reminds me, I need to sign myself out of choir for that Sunday. Oh, and the previous Sunday...whoops.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Chocolate

Caution: shallow, consumerist whining to follow.

Two weeks from today I can get my new-every-two discount toward a new cell phone. The only only only phone I want is the LG Chocolate VX8550. I know I am going to have to shell out my own money above the discount to get it, but I don't know how much. I'm not sure how much I'm willing to spend...but I want it sooooooo much!! I think I want the black cherry color.

BTW, when did text messaging get so ridiculously expensive? I remember it being 10 cents to send and like 2 or 5 cents to receive...well two days ago, according to the info on my phone while I was signed in to our verizon wireless account, it was 15 cents to send AND to receive...and then today I checked again and it now says 20 cents each way!! What is the deal with that? First, was there seriously a 33% price hike in the day since I last looked, and second, what is the deal with charging so much for this? We are talking infinitesimally small bandwidth required for a cell network to send a text message (i'm not talking photo or video), especially compared to the bandwidth required for voice during a regular call...the cell companies should be ENCOURAGING the use of text messaging as a cheaper-for-them alternative to phone calls! If they let us have just texting for free with any plan, I imagine they could reduce their bandwidth significantly enough to save money on their ever-expanding demand for more bandwidth. I think they'd probably at least break even, if not come out ahead, in the long run. The $5 per month Hannah pays for 250 text messages (which comes to 2 cents per message) is probably well over 1000% profit for verizon: I can't imagine Hannah's 250 text messages are costing them move than a few pennies. The only possible acceptable explanation would be if they're actually making extremely little profit on their other services like normal cell plans and the phones themselves, and the exorbitant texting prices are keeping other prices from skyrocketing, but I severely doubt that's the case.

I'm done ranting now...is it March 16 yet? I want my new phone!!

Give me tips on getting a good price from Verizon...Ninny's tip was to look up the price on line and then go to a kiosk, where they have the ability to give you a better deal. It almost sounds like you can haggle like buying a new car. I wonder if I'd be more likely to get a good price on my own, or if I bring Paul along?
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