Monday, November 30, 2009

November has also been awesome

I didn't intend to wait so long that my next post would be another month wrap-up, but I guess that's what happens when it's been a busy and productive month: I spend very little time on the computer outside of work because I really am enjoying all the house upkeep and improvements, plus I'm finally getting back into knitting and crocheting almost every day, taking care of Juno, and actually using our Netflix subscription for a change, which means time most evenings spent curled up in front of the TV with Paul for a bit. We've finally gotten into the groove of 30 Rock Season 3 on Netflix Instant View streamed on the xBox, so that has helped. But it all adds up to a lot less time spent in the office on my computer doing things like blogging and uploading photos.

So let's see. I started out the month of November by washing my cell phone, which resulted in a dead cell phone. I went into the Verizon store all prepared to have to pay full price for a new phone, only to find out that I had again managed to kill my previous phone only days before my "New Every Two" discount kicked in, so I was able to get a discounted phone instead! Very fun. I got this phone and I like it a lot. It's very fun to have a full keyboard now that we have unlimited texting. Now if only Paul would take advantage of his discount to replace his phone, which is at least 4 years old at this point...

We also had lots of fun parties and gatherings this month, in no particular order: Dinner out for my mom's birthday
A surprise party (that wasn't too surprising, but still very fun) for Mindy's birthday
A football party at Shawn & Rachel's that Paul went to without me because I had to sing in
A choir concert (the choir concert was quite awesome, so I didn't mind too much)
What turned into quite the party at Isaac's in Lemoyne for the Nawakwa fundraiser (so many people showed up that they ran out of various foods)
A really fun night out with some of the usual suspects at Macaroni Grill followed by going to see New Moon, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Especially "Face Punch" and Jake's abs (although Luke only enjoyed one of those, I'll let you guess which one) (btw, Luke was the only guy at the movie, and it was his choice to be there; in fact, he's the only one who re-read the books ahead of time, so he was actually the resident expert on how accurate the movie was. And if you make fun of him, you will get facepunched!).

Then, of course, Thanksgiving. Paul and I hosted for the first time, with five people total: us, and Paul's parents and sister. It was definitely a success: I made a cheese log, Paul dressed the turkey, I made my dad's stuffing, we used frozen CSA green beans and a bunch of colorful carrots (orange, white, and purple) to make some lovely side dishes, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and topped it all off with Apple Kuchen and homemade vanilla icecream, all served on my Gommy's nice china that she gave me when she moved into assisted living. I also got to use other wedding gifts, which always makes me happy: the hand-thrown stoneware casserole for mashed potatoes, and the terra cotta roasting dish for the carrots.

We watched the Macy's parade followed by the dog show, and I tried to show Juno the Italian Greyhound in the toy category (who made it into the second consideration but then didn't place in the class), but she was only interested in getting back to her bed and curling up. Here are some pics of our preparations the day before, and of course the day of; I only forgot to take a picture of the table when it was all layed out with food.



The beaujolais nouveau finally did get drunk when Hannah brought over two of her friends to see the house, and the four of us polished it off in ten minutes flat. I only got about 1.5 glasses, and it's particularly good this year so I bought another bottle yesterday.

Paul had to work Friday and Saturday, so I took lunch to him both days, and because I did on Saturday I got to see this crazy accident in front of the apartment complex next to the store. In addition to the two totally effed up sedans in the foreground, note the Escalade on its side behind the Honda.

Then on Saturday I went down to Lebanon with my mom and Han to see some of those family members, and it was fun to show Gommy the pictures from Thanksgiving with her china. Saturday evening we met up with Sarah and Matt in York, and it was very fun to see them, as usual.

Sunday afternoon was spent in much the usual way, with minor housework and some lounging around. I finished making a little wreath by crocheting around a cardboard ring from some packaging, and it turned out really cute, so I'm working on another one now. Then in the later afternoon I had the urge to do some yard work, so I ended up cutting down all the dead flowers in the front garden and raking them out, and now you can see our lamp post. I will hopefully find something Christmasy to decorate it, but for now it's completely visible for the first time since May.

I also trimmed one out of the three evergreen shrubs under our front windows, and used the longer pieces to decorate the dining room for Christams. I bought two pine bundles from the local garden shop earlier, and added some holly from our holly tree (which, btw, is really huge) to those as well, but of course I'm most proud of the decorations that cost me nothing but some effort with the hedge trimmer followed by some string.

I might just use the trimmings from the other two bushes to decorate the lamppost too. Nothing beats free, especially when it comes to Christmas decorations! Plus then I can justify spending money on some new placemats, since the only set I have is decidedly fall-colored, as you can see in the Thanksgiving pics above.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and continue to have a relaxing and happy holiday season!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

October was pretty awesome

Wow, it's been almost a month.

Juno's doing slightly better; I just finished knitting her a wool sweater last night, and she looks quite cute in it. She seems to be slightly less petrified of us, but still pretty scared of the world. I took some pics last weekend, look for those soon-ish.

A few Saturdays ago we had a big Wii party at our house, and it was a big hit - in a lucky fluke, everyone we invited was able to come, so there was a total of 13 adults and 2 babies at our house, and no one was shy about participating in various embarasing Wii games, including Rock Band, hula-hooping, seagull-flying, and of course plenty of MarioKart. I have some videos to share of plenty of people shaking their hips in an attempt to secure the highest number of hula-hoop spins. Pretty darn hilarious.

Last weekend was spent in Northern Virginia for the wedding ceremony of our good friends Sarah and Ginny, who officially tied the knot in Connecticut months ago but wanted to make it official with their friends and family too. We had a lot of fun, and even brought Juno along and managed to fit in two visits to the C&O Canal/Great Falls state park, which was a great way to spend a sunny October morning, and a meal at my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant, the Cactus Cantina in DC near the National Cathedral.

The random lunch we had on Saturday afternoon before the ceremony inspired Paul to look up a recipe for green curry, which he made this past Sunday, and which is now quite possibly our new favorite thing we've ever cooked for ourselves. Even without a couple of obscure ingredients we couldn't find, it was amazing, and we're looking for a good time to invite people over for dinner just so we can show off. There's still a bunch of the green curry paste left, so I think we might be making it again tonight, maybe this time with chicken and cous cous instead of tilapia and rice.

Most Monday nights can find me with the Kellys and a few other girlfriends, depending who's available, hanging out at one of our houses while our husbands watch football elsewhere. We mostly spend the evening doing various crafts and just chatting, and it's been the best thing ever; we all love it and look forward to it all week. Sometimes it makes for a hard time waking up on Tuesday morning, but it's so worth it.

We did absolutely nothing in particular on actual Halloween last Saturday, but on trick-or-treat night Thursday, I enjoyed handing out candy and watching "The Nightmare Before Christmas" for the first time since it was new and I was too young and hated it. My favorite trick-or-treater was one little toddler who very politely took one piece of candy from my bowl, and when his mom prompted him with "What do you say?" thought for a moment and exclaimed, "More!" and took another piece of candy. Which was totally OK, since I had plenty left over, and was also extremely funny and adorable. Paul and I capped off the evening by going out for sushi for the first time months, so I feel like I really made the most of skipping choir practice for one Thursday evening.

Hopefully I'll get some of those pictures and videos posted soon, but I just wanted to get something up on the old blog before all the fun memories from October got swallowed up by the excitement heading into the holiday season now that it's November. I hope everyone is having as nice an Autumn as we are! Lots to look forward to in November, starting with more green curry sauce for dinner tonight, and some more of the pinot grigio bottle I opened last night at Kelly's. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Juno at the Dog Park

Juno had a few too many chicken livers on Thursday, which resulted in a lot of unpleasantness on Friday afternoon and even more when we woke up on Saturday morning. But that's behind us, and we've learned our lesson. She seemed to be even worse with the extreme shyness after all that, and even a trip to the dog park for her first off-leash experience on Sunday afternoon didn't seem to help.

Last night, we went on a good walk, and she spent the rest of the evening trotting around the house. Then while I was watching Lie to Me with Kelly M, I put a blanket on the couch beside me and put Juno on it, and she curled up there and let me pet her for about an hour. I got up at the end of the show, and was surprised to see that she stayed in her spot, but as soon as I came to sit back down she hopped off and ran away. But I definitely feel like we bonded, and even noticed that she curled up in the FRONT of her crate right inside the open door instead of her usual cowering in the back of the crate. And this morning when I hooked the leash to her collar, she got right up and walked out of her crate without me having to drag her! So I think we're definitely making some process. Yay.

I got some pictures of her trotting around at the dog park, sporting her red sweater. Since I can't post them to facebook from work, here they are instead. Enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Still Breathing Deeply

We were briefly successful at cooking dinners a few times a week and using all the leftovers for lunches and lazy-evening dinners, and I really want to get that back and finally nail down a semi-regular weekly grocery trip that will keep our kitchen well-stocked but never over-stocked, so that we don't have food going to waste. We've had no more than one not-even-full bag of trash per week, with recycling and a compost heap accepting the rest of our waste, so I'm happy about that. But I want to know that we're living as responsibly as we can afford to, not letting leftovers sit in our fridge and veggies rot on our counter because we're so busy and have more than enough. I want to have just the right amount. I want to fill up the freezer with our own prepared meals so we can easily make a great home-cooked meal for anyone at any time, and for ourselves when we need a night to just relax. And I want to be comfortable enough with running the house and kitchen that it will be natural to incorporate our own vegetable garden into it next spring, so that the awesome rain barrels Paul built will be put to good use, and we'll be even more self-sufficient!

We've spent so much money on ourselves since we bought this house, and we feel so lucky and happy to have so many nice things. And still, I want more things that I know I don't need: an iPhone, a Kindle, more shelves for the living room, new shoes, new fall clothes; I think of more STUFF every day. But starting now, I am going to make a huge effort to STOP. I am going to focus on enjoying everything we have, and getting it all organized into the flow and routine I crave. That's the really important thing right now, and once I can do that, it will be clear exactly where we stand and what should come next. Paul might be going back to school full time by next Fall or even sooner, but if everything else is running smoothly, that should fit right in with the routine and actually make things even easier.

I can feel my impatience kicking in already for all this to just happen, so I'm going to need to come back and re-read this post often to remind myself that I have to MAKE it happen, and that I CAN make it happen. And when I need a break, I already have a cozy house to relax in, an awesome husband to relax with, a ton of amazing friends nearby to hang out with, and a family nearby who's always happy to feed me dinner and DVR TV shows for me and welcome me into my old comfort zone while I work on solidifying our new comfort zone. Life is good, and it's only getting better.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Deep Breaths

I am still hoping we can get Juno this weekend. Whether or not she’s with us, I’m planning to spend the entire weekend cleaning, organizing, and hopefully clearing out the den in the basement so that can become another comfortable living space. Either the expectation of getting her, or actually having her there, will be a nice added motivator to get all this stuff done this weekend. If I can get significantly caught up, it will do an immeasurable amount of good for my stress level and feeling like we’re on the right track towards all these impossible visions I have for a smoothly-running household.
[UPDATE: Provided her biopsy results are negative, we will be getting Juno this weekend!]

I keep looking ahead a few weeks and expecting things to calm down and start being "normal," but they never do! I still think it might actually happen soon - once we get the dog, and clean up the den in the basement, there really isn't anything else big and exciting on the horizon. I really hope I'm right. I really, really, REALLY want to have a routine, keep the house reasonably clean & organized on a regular basis, and spend time doing a bunch of little things instead of a few big things. I want to knit, and read, and cook, and play with the dog, and spend 15-30 minutes a day cleaning; not stress about painting that needs to be finished and the huge mess in the basement and baskets overflowing with laundry and sink overflowing with dishes.

All these friends having babies have made me want to have a baby more, not less, even when I hear their first-hand stories about the bad stuff; but I feel like I don't even have my own life under control right now, so how could I possibly do it with a baby? This is part of the reason that I am excited to have a dog - it will be a lot of additional responsibility, but I always worked harder and did better in school during the most busy and difficult times, so I think this will be similar. I always get my house the cleanest when I'm expecting company or planning a party, and I think having a dog will help me keep my eye on the ball, step up to the plate, and really finally get into a viable routine that will allow us to keep the house at a reasonable level of organization all the time, instead of in big waves of super-messy to clean to messy again. And if we can do that, then stress will go way down, and we'll be able to focus on the important things.

I'm sure this will not happen as neatly and easily as it sounds when I write it like that, but I need to have this hopeful plan in place, so please don't leave comments telling me it's all a pipe dream. I need to believe that I can have my house 95% clean, organized, finished, and running like a well-oiled machine by mid-November so that we can enjoy it for the holidays. I want my plan to start sending more snail-mail from my very own desk in our little home office to be realized in time to send out nice holiday cards to everyone. I want to have the traditional Wednesday-night-before-Thanksgiving party at our house, and flow right into Thanksgiving Day with Paul's family, hosted at our house, our first official family holiday event in our own home. I want to send out change-of-address post cards to invite everyone to an open house, so that our home can be that place where everyone feels welcome to stop by just to say hello, ask for a cup of flour, borrow a rake, join us for dinner.

Still way long, so I'll finish venting tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Deep Breaths

I've been feeling thoughtful lately, but with no time to indulge in quiet contemplation. With Paul in class on Monday and Wednesday nights, and choir practice for me on Thursdays, we only have Tuesday evenings to ourselves at home. To avoid being lonely on Wednesdays I joined bell choir for the fall, and on Mondays the wives have been getting together while the husbands watch football (Paul joins them after class), so the upshot is a very busy schedule every single week. I love every activity, but it means that I don't do laundry, dishes, cleaning, or organizing that really needs to be done.

This weekend is the first in a long time with no big plans, so whether or not we get our new furry family member, I'm looking forward to spending it at home getting caught up. There's loads of cleaning, tidying, and organizing to do just upstairs, and even more to get the finished room in the basement cleared out. I feel stressed out just thinking about it, but luckily it's the kind of stressed out that makes me want to FIX IT. Unfortunately, that means I'm having a hard time thinking about anything else this week, wishing I could just go home and get started.

Last Saturday was a pretty huge stress-fest going to get the piano. Nothing went as planned, with traffic being the main stressor, but I'm happy that the piano is now living in its official spot in our living room. It's not very play-able right now, with two keys broken and the lower half of the keyboard not damping, but it still felt wonderful to re-introduce myself to Chopin's Raindrop Prelude, still my favorite piece. I was so happy when it came right back to me, and I felt like I could have sat there playing it over and over all night and not gotten tired of it. That made the stressful Saturday all worth it. I got the name of the guy who tunes and maintains Trinity's pianos, and he's coming to tune and fix my new pride & joy on October 13. I will be so happy that I will probably spend the rest of that evening playing the piano. Even not working properly, it feels SO WONDERFUL to own a piano again!

This week feels even more crazy, with not a single night at home, but it's all been fun so I can't complain. Monday night ALL the wives were free (usually only about half of us get together), and we were all at our house, which felt wonderful. Our living room feels lovely now that it has all the furniture we bought, floor lights, a colorful area rug, TV, curtains and blinds hung, everything painted, the piano, and even a painting propped up; but it felt like home with four friends, two babies, and a dog all hanging out and enjoying themselves. My mom even got to meet Ella and Andrew (the babies) for the first time! I had a great evening.

This post is getting extremely long, so I'll save the rest for tomorrow...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Home update

We got the carpet! It's brighter than in the pic in the previous post; in-our-living-room pic coming soon.

The TV stand is scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday, no word yet on the painting, but that's OK because I can't hang it until we also have...

this piano that we're getting on Saturday from friends near Philly!


In other exciting house-related news, today we officially applied for a
specific Italian Greyhound (as opposed to just applying to an agency for one in the future):

She's 5 years old and has lived in a kennel at a breeder thus far, having puppies. She sounds great for us because 5 years is about when IGs mellow out, she's used to sleeping in her kennel, she's healthy (which is why they used her to breed) so no expensive health problems, and she's already micro-chipped which means we don't have to worry about re-licensing her every year. In addition, of course, to all the other reasons we want an IG in the first place. Oh, also, I love the grey and white coloring. So, yay!!

Pictures soon, I swear.

UPDATE: We're officially approved to adopt the Italian Greyhound from Petfinder! She's getting spayed today (or maybe next Tuesday), and we will go pick her up as soon as she's recovered from the surgery! SO EXCITING!! I have to finish Ella's sweater before I can start knitting one for the new dog, but that's definitely next. Also, possible name (since we're re-naming her): Juno. As the Roman goddess of marriage and pregnancy, it fits with her first 5 years spent breeding. Also, it fits my criteria of not being a common human name (despite the recent movie). Thoughts?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Home! It's almost here.

On Monday, Paul and I finished the hardest parts of finishing the living room. The painting is done, the blinds are hung, and the curtain rod is still empty but ready to receive the curtains. The furniture is arranged. In a few days, I'm going to buy this 5'x8' rug to ground the sitting area:

and this TV stand:

so that our new TV can stop living on our coffee table:

(Side note: doesn't President Obama look great on our new TV? I thought so.)

and we can start LIVING in our living room!

Paul needs to hang our clock above the fireplace, and I need to hang photos (LOTS of photos) to warm up those white walls, but that will be a fun process. I have a great idea for a big, asymmetric photo collage on the wall inside the front door. Also might get this 23"x35" Klimt stretched canvas, "The Tree of Life," which also ties right in with the whole color scheme:

On Saturday, we're heading down to Virginia for our friends Sarah and Ginny's wedding shower, and on the way we're going to stop at the Woodbridge Ikea to get another floor lamp to match the one in the picture above. If we see a pair of end tables we like, we might get those too, if the price is right! The shower is at 3:00, somewhere down Rt. 95 below Woodbridge, but we're leaving in the morning so we have time to stop at Lebanese Taverna for lunch before heading to Ikea. Should be a really fun Saturday!

Also, I posted pics of my various favorite babies:
Babies!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Babies

You may have gathered from Facebook and Twitter, but I know a lot of people who just had babies. My cousin had a baby about 6 weeks ago, and then this past week the deluge: Kelly and Luke had a girl early Tuesday morning, Rachel and Shawn had a boy on Thursday night, and other Kelly's brother and sister-in-law had a son on Friday morning. What a week! I have never been so glued to my cell phone. And these people all know each other! Luke works for Kelly's brother Jim, so they both became daddy's (Jim for the second time) within 5 days of each other. I am definitely envisioning triple birthday parties in coming years.

On Saturday, Kelly, Reed, and I headed down to Gettysburg to meet the first PREP baby, Ella Jo. She was born at 4:35 AM Tuesday morning August 18th, so she was 4 days old on Saturday. She weighed 6'5" when she was born, but on Saturday was a little below 6', making her the most amazingly tiny person I have ever met. She slept for almost the entire two hours we were there, and barely even stirred when we'd pick her up and pass her around. She was so comfy and cozy in anyone's arms, why should she wake up? It was amazing.

The last time I held an infant was at my high school graduation party. That was awesome, but this was transcendant. I could have stared at Ella all day. This is the first baby that I will watch grow up, and I'll be there and know her for her entire life. I'm so overwhelmed by this, so I can hardly imagine what her mommy and daddy, my good friends, must be feeling! I'm tearing up again, as usual, just from writing this down.

I haven't seen any pictures of Rachel and Shawn's son yet, so I'm excitedly waiting for that! Next Saturday I'll finally get to meet Miles, my cousin's son, and the following Saturday we'll have our first all-PREP gathering with Ella. I am positive that I haven't experienced anything this amazing before in my life, and nothing will top it until I'm holding my own baby in my arms. What an amazing week. I am so happy and thankful.

Miles at 5 weeks old:


Ella Jo on Saturday, with her mom plus 2 out of 3 PREP aunties:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dining Room Before & After

I can't believe it's taken me four days to post this, since I'm so excited about it!

Dining room in March before we moved in:


Dining room during wallpaper peeling, shortly after moving in at the end of May:



Dining room during painting in early and mid June:



Taking up the carpet after painting all trim but the baseboard, early August:



All finished!



Still to do in the dining room: Install the new white switch plate and outlet covers; put stuff into the curio cabinet (starting with the nice china I got from my Gommy); get a new chandelier; and hang some art on those walls! Today I got stuff at Michael's to help me do two out of four: the outlet covers are Paul's job, but I got some stands for the plates (instead of just stacking them all - I want to see them they're very simple and pretty!) and some poster mounting glue to fix the big Van Gogh that's all wrinkly in its cheapo frame--I think this will let me use the same cheapo frame but get the picture to stay all flat and nice permanently. Still haven't decided where to hang it, but I'm hoping once I can hold it up to a few places, there will be something obvious. Best guess right now is the wall between the kitchen entry and the pantry door, so I'll still need ideas for the wall to the left of the curio! Maybe some of my many unused landscape and nature photos. And no budget right now for a chandelier, but I think I know about what I want.

Also, thankfully you can't tell in the picture how badly the curtains need to be ironed. I'll do that soon...

We're planning to take up the carpet in the living room this Sunday!! Once that's done and I paint the trim in there, we'll officially be finished with the really big, necessary stuff. OMG.

I didn't continue cleaning the fridge tonight, and I'm OK with that.

Monday, August 03, 2009

More Progress! Plus gushing.

While I was jet-setting down to Raleigh, NC to visit Rachel & Kelly, leaving Paul at home by himself, look at everything he did:

- Sold the little tree in our back yard that we want to replace with a veggie and herb garden for next year; the guy is supposed to come dig it up on Wednesday morning.

- 100% finished re-installing everything to do with the fridge: My dad came over and re-installed the cabinet above the fridge, Paul re-applied the laminate front of the counter, and attached some quarter-round to clean up the edge of the cabinet beside the fridge. It looks so awesome! Now I have to fulfill my promise to clean the fridge, which was filthy inside when we got it and has not yet been cleaned.

- Purchased and installed heavy curtains across one end of the front unfinished half of the basement where he now has his table saw, so that the dust is contained and doesn't interfere with the laundry area

- Discovered that our attic fan has been disabled because it's a bit broken and therefore very loud, and so our attic has been getting extremely hot every day (well over 100 degrees) thus making our air conditioning much less efficient. I don't even know why he was thinking about this or going up into the attic to begin with, but it's a good thing he found out, because running the fan during the day while we're not home to be bothered by the noise will save us a lot of energy cost.

- Installed a brand-new digital programmable thermostat to better regulate the air conditioning (i.e. program it to raise the temp during the day while we're at work and lower it in time to be comfortable when we get home.)

- Bought me a sweater drying rack because he saw one for uber-cheap at Ollie's, even though we haven't discussed my wanting one for ages

- Bought a wireless digital indoor/outdoor thermometer, the outdoor portion of which is being used to monitor the attic temperature for the time being (what a good idea!)

- Brought upstairs and shelved a few boxes of books from the basement

- Did all the dishes so that I arrived home to a clear, clean kitchen counter

He told me about most of this stuff while I was sitting at the Raleigh airport waiting to board, and I exclaimed, "Wow, I'm going to go on vacation with my girlfriends more often!" And he said, "OK, you can." But really, I definitely need to thoroughly clean the fridge and paint the baseboard trim in the dining room this week, and hang the blinds in the dining room, and maybe get the curtains hung in the bedrooms and office, if I'm going to live up to all the work Paul did this weekend.

Speaking of going on vacation with my girlfriends, I flew in to Raleigh, NC late Friday night, where Rachel picked me up and we headed home to bed (but not before she fed me the peach-and-berry crostada she made while waiting to pick me up - so delicious!!) so we'd be ready to get up bright and early to meet Kelly on her way home from the beach and kidnap her from Reed (not really - this was all planned). It was too overcast to go to the beach for the afternoon, so instead we went back to Rachel's beautiful apartment and spent the day making and eating The Dip and chatting. It was wonderful.

Saturday evening we got a little dolled up and went out for sushi, and then decided to come home and do more talking, since it was obvious that's all we wanted to do and it would be better if we weren't in a loud bar. We changed into our jammies and talked into the night.

Sunday we rolled out of bed at 10:00, made blueberry pancakes and fruit salad, and added peach slices to glasses of sparkling wine for a refreshing morning drink. While we ate, we watched Mamma Mia, which must have been made with us in mind, because it was so awesome and fun to watch. Then in the early afternoon we braved the still-cloudy-but-not-too-rainy skies to sit by the pool for a while.

Around 3:00 on Sunday afternoon we headed in from the pool to get ready for dinner, where we met two of Rachel's friends at a Czech restaurant for a delicious experience(I had pork goulash with dumplings, and fried brie with cranberry sauce). Then they dropped me off at the airport before heading to the theater to see The Sound of Music live. I wish I could have stayed until Tuesday with Kelly, but alas, I couldn't afford to take the time off work.

I'm glad Kel and Rach finally got some sun today, so they're out by the pool again. I have to finish an FPA for an investigator's RFI, then start on two write-ups of providers I want to refer to investigations at the next INDC meeting. Oh, and finish the Extract Spike model results for June data, and look up some stuff for Wednesday's Infusion Code meeting. And go home and clean the fridge. It will be nice to stay around the house next weekend for once!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Progress!

Saturday evening I cleaned up the second bedroom to ready it for its second-ever overnight guest, and Paul vacuumed the entire house. The second bedroom now looks rather austere, with one empty bookshelf, one little chest at the foot of the bed, one bedside table with one lamp, the bed, and no other furniture or decorations.

I did stick the narrow CD shelf in there (my Dad made it years ago) and stuck a bunch of old framed photos on it, so that was a slight improvement. It definitely needs a plant or two, a dresser, and some pictures on the walls, though. And a mirror.

Oh, and while I was cleaning? I put an old wash basket full of currently-dormant back packs, bags, and purses, and our aero bed and drying rack, IN THE CLOSET. Neatly. And now you can't see them when you walk into the room, but they're still there, in easy reach, beneath a shelf full of neatly-folded blankets, comforters, and sheets. I HAVE CLOSETS IN MY HOUSE.

Sunday afternoon and evening I cleaned up the carport: I tidied up all the gardening paraphernalia (and put it in our shed! I heart storage space SO MUCH), re-potted and/or cleaned off all the plants and brought most of them inside, and FINALLY did something with the 8 little herb seedlings that have been struggling along in their teensy little containers that should have been re-planted six weeks ago. I finally pitched the dead pepper plant from last year, and used its rather huge pot to hold all of the surviving baby herbs. They've all perked up a bit already, so I'm hoping now they'll finally start growing in earnest, and maybe by the end of Summer I'll at least have a handful of parsley and cilantro to supplement all my basil, chives, and rosemary. I also finally stopped by Highland Gardens and got some liquid plant food that's SO much easier to use than fertilizer sticks or pellets. Hopefully that will get everything looking perky and healthy, especially the aloe plants, which still look pretty pathetic almost a year after being separated from the monster mother plant.

Sunday night we also went to see the movie Up, and if you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it. It was so fun and whimsical, and totally sad and thoughtful and deep in some very adult ways, but still very happy and uplifting, especially the ending. The little vignette you hear about is the first 5 minutes of the movie, so you're crying 5 minutes in, but then only one other time might make you tear up.

Monday Paul finished converting the little coat closet in our dining room into a rather large, deep pantry closet complete with five adjustable shelves. I stopped at JoAnn Fabrics on the way home and got some thin, clear vinyl to use as over-sized shelf liner (cheaper than official shelf liner, which wouldn't even have been big enough to cover the two-foot-deep shelves), and then spent all evening stocking the shelves! There is room to spare with all of our food put away, and we now have only one remaining box full of spices, as they're the only thing we haven't decided where to put yet.

Tonight (Tuesday), we are going to move the dining room table into the living room and RIP UP THE CARPET in the dining room. It is going to be glorious. We will see the entire expanse of wood floor for the first time, and I can't wait! Hopefully that will go very smoothly and thus motivate us to get the living room carpet removed soon too! Maybe on Wednesday or Thursday I will be able to finish painting the baseboard & door trim in the dining room!! And/or I might haul some boxes up from the basement and fill the bookshelves in the office and bedroom with appropriate books. Actually, painting will probably wait until next week at this point, since I also have a bunch of clothing to re-organize and put away in the master bedroom.

Then Friday after work I hop on a plane and land in Raleigh, NC to meet Kelly M and visit Rachel! Maybe knowing I'm spending another unexpected weekend having fun with friends instead of working on our house is what's motivating me to get so much done this week so far. I hope it continues!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yummiest CSA food thus far

Yesterday we got a HUGE head of incredibly beautiful red leaf lettuce from Shared Earth Farm. It was delicious, just by itself.

I chopped up two entire cucumbers and two tiny onions, also from the CSA, sauteed two frozen tilapia filets with Gazebo Room Balsamic dressing, and plopped a filet each on top of the huge mountain of salad on our two plates. Add some crumbles of the raw-milk sharp cheddar we lucked out and got for free because someone didn't pick up their cheese share, and you have one incredibly delicious meal.

And just for fun, here's the not-really-a-tart I made for the 4th of July. I just slapped down some graham crackers, covered it with creamcheese mixed with sugar and vanilla extract, and topped it with blueberries, pitted and halved sweet cherries, and a few raspberries. I got tons of compliments, even though the graham crackers got all soggy - I guess you can't go wrong with creamcheese, sugar, and fresh fruit!

Can't help posting one more house pic, of the blinds I installed all by myself. Five windows total thus far, in all three bedrooms (i.e. two bedrooms and the office). Hopefully we'll get enough trim painted in the dining room tonight that I'll be able to hang blinds on that window next, and then I just need to decide what to do with the huge window in the living room...hmm...

I still haven't put up the curtains, as you can see. Soon.....

Thursday, July 02, 2009

200th post! And Sangria.

I posted the recipe for the Sangria I made at our party! Enjoy!

I have off tomorrow, but Paul does not. This means I will be home alone, which will be nice for the day. I hope to clean out the boxes of homeless pantry food from the kitchen, although I don't know where I'll be able to put it all...and we're still down by one cabinet until Paul has time to finish installing the fridge. Then I'll be baking a couple of things for July 4 festivities. In the evening it's over to Hannah's birthday party, yay!

In other news, this is my 200th post. Crazy! This is a big deal for bloggers who have myriads of followers, but for me with my immediate family and friends it's more just a fun little thing to point out. I posted my first blogger post on October 5, 2006. For a while I also kept up with Xanga, but that didn't last too long. Anyway, just an interesting thing to think about. I'm glad I have a blog, it's pretty fun to go back and read the old stuff. And I'm sure one day, 15 years from now, my future offspring will be able to get a few good laughs, and maybe some blackmail fodder. Maybe I should look in my parents' basement for an old journal of my mom's...does such a thing exist?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pictures! Of the house!

I found my card reader, yay! It was hiding in my purse all along.

From New House!


I also have a few before-and-after pics, but since the trim isn't painted yet and the carpet isn't lifted in the living and dining rooms, they're still technically before-and-during pics. The closest thing to an "after" pic is the bedroom, since I have painted the window trim, so in these views it looks like it's all finished!

Before:


During:



After:


I love the furniture! It was my grandparents' so it's all super solid and heavy. It will probably last forever. All we need now is to install the blinds and curtains I bought...might happen this weekend! Also, now that too-bright ugly floor lamp is gone and I have my old Ikea bedroom table lamp, which matches the room and the furniture so perfectly. I thought I had taken a picture of that, but I guess not.

And here's the living room before:



During:


and After, but with the trim not yet painted and the carpet still down, and no decorations or pictures on the walls yet:




The dining room is more obviously not finished until that chair rail (and window trim) is painted white so it really pops out and emphasizes the light grey and light greyish-brown, but even with just the wallpaper down it's a HUGE and drastic improvement:

Before:




During:




So there you have it. I have a few other pictures, but these are the main before-and-after-ish pics so far. What do you think?

In other news, we had our final apartment inspection yesterday, and we got our full security deposit back. The landlord had been weird about some things, so we were worried he was going to keep some of it, but he didn't, so yay! We are REALLY feeling like homeowners now. Our first bi-weekly mortgage payment was automatically debited from our account on Monday! Only 26 years to go... (actually we're hoping to up the bi-weekly amount and get it down to 20ish years...ZOMG)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cooking in the kitchen

It's not 100% there yet (Paul still has to hook up water to the fridge, re-install the dishwasher, and make everything pretty again), but we have the bookcase out of the kitchen, the extra cabinets hung, and everything is put away enough that I am looking forward to cooking dinner at home every night this week!!

We've had a few meals at the new house, but with the kitchen overrun with moving paraphenalia, tools, and painting supplies, it hasn't been easy to maneuver for actual food preparation. But no more! This week, we will use 100% of the CSA food, and it will be yummy and healthy and money-saving.

It's a good thing, too, because next week starts Whip It Up 2009, and with all the new stuff we'll be cooking to utilize our CSA veggies, it would be a shame to not participate! The latest recipe posted on Shared Earth Farm's recipe site is Kohlrabi Cakes, so I'm wondering if we'll be getting some kohlrabi tonight. If so, I hope we also get enough spring onions for the recipe! Hannah's home alone this week, so maybe if there's not enough spring onions once we divide them, she'll come over for dinner so we can combine forces, because those Kohlrabi Cakes sound pretty yummy!!

In other news, we slept in our new (to us) queen-sized bed in our master bedroom for the first time last night!! It was pretty sweet. Slightly marred by the fact that Paul had to stay up late to finish his extra credit, so all we could do after that was fall into bed and curse the alarm clock at 7:00 this morning for not letting us have a full night's sleep. BUT it's all OK, because I think the graphing and everything really clicked for Paul, and I always enjoy seeing that lightbulb go on, even when I haven't been the one to flip the switch. I think I provided some much-needed moral support. And BONUS: I got to re-learn the Unit Circle. Math is fun!!

Still taking lots of pictures, and still don't have the stuff to actually get any off of my camera and onto here. But next weekend is IT for the apartment, we want to finish moving out the last of the little junk, clean, and then I will have no excuse to avoid posting all the pictures. Soon! In the mean time, why don't you just stop by and visit? Seeing things in person is always better anyway. And I can feed you strawberries!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Slugs & Marshmallows

I have decided that slugs are the cutest bug.

In the various types of leafy greens we've been getting from our CSA Shared Earth Farm, there are always a few stowaways. I've found them hanging out in my fridge after storing the unwashed lettuce for days; swimming (just floating, actually) in the bowl of water after washing my greens, crawling up the side of the same bowl, and just hanging out on the leaves.

I always take them outside, because they're just too cute to kill. I love their little eye stalks that poke out at different angles, and retract if they touch anything! It's so adorable. Sometimes I let them crawl around on my hand for a while before I toss them out into the grass.

For some reason it doesn't even gross me out to realize that, in all likelyhood, I've eaten a little extra protein over the last couple of weeks. I wash the lettuce thoroughly, but still find one or two additional little guys after I'm done using it for the evening, so probably one made it onto my sandwich last night, for example, or into my stirfry last week. Oh well. As long as I don't taste it or feel it go down, no harm done!

Last night, Paul and I learned about slugs from Wikipedia. I especially liked the info on how slugs procreate. Enjoy!

If you do not feel quite like I do about the slugs in my fresh greens, and if I have you over to dinner this summer, don't hesitate to let me know. We can work it out. And then I'll know to not enthusiastically show you my findings while I'm washing the lettuce before dinner.

In other news, despite being a curious person (couldn't you tell with the slugs?), I have managed to go my entire life thus far without ever having witnessed what happens to a marshmallow in a microwave. I've heard about it, but never tried it for myself. Well, last night, I decided I wanted a s'more, and the only easily available method of warming my marshmallows was the microwave, so I've finally remedied this huge deficit in my life experience. It was quite fun! My only complaint is that the marshmallows inflated and melted without actually getting very warm, so they didn't melt the chocolate a whole lot. It was enough, though, so Paul and I had an enjoyable dessert.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Paint

Still no pictures, sorry folks. I do have a lot to post. Soon...now that we have passed the big painting weekend, Paul and I are going to still be working really hard (there's still a lot to finish), but we won't be pulling the same late nights and feeling stressed.

Friday night we stayed up way to late to finish scraping, washing, and masking everything we wanted to have ready for Saturday. Kelly & Reed got there at 9:00 as promised, followed by the Virginia crew around noon, and they were all amazing - everyone worked together to mask off and paint the master bedroom, living room, and prime the bare plaster in the dining room.

Oh, and I successfully rid us of the big, heavy, green bird bath in our side yard - another freecycle success story! Someone picked it up on Saturday morning.

What I just summed up in one sentence actually took us the entire day, but we rewarded ourselves with a lovely picnic all evening and into the night - it was so much fun. There was lots of yummy food, thanks to my mom making a couple of salads, and Kelly helping me throw together some sloppy joe for the crock pot, and one huge trip to the grocery store on Friday for various chips, dips, and veggies. We all started out in the back yard on the camp chairs everyone brought along, and later moved into the car port where it was less buggy. Paul and Chris stocked the old fridge in the shed with lots of beer, and I tried my hand at sangria for the first time - it turned out really well! As a bonus, I was able to use a bottle of wine that I had never opened because I knew it wasn't going to be very good. Well, when you add brandy, cointreau, orange juice, lemon juice, and gingerale, it doesn't matter if your bottle of red wine isn't super delish on its own. Yum! I'm going to make that again very soon.

Sunday we took the remaining two Virginians to breakfast, then stopped by Lowe's for some additional supplies. With the expert paint sprayers having already headed back to VA, we decided we weren't talented enough to try spraying on our own, and opted to roll instead. Paul and I had seen a friend of ours using a paint roller with a tube that sucks the paint out of the can and feeds the roller automatically, and we were surprised and delighted to find it at Lowe's for only $25!! So we grabbed that and a few of the special roller covers (same thing as usual but with holes in the tube so the paint can come out from inside), and headed home to keep painting.

Hannah came over, we put the first coat on the dining room, and painted the one wall in the living room. Then we went for smoothies. After that we put a second coat on the dining room and one living room walls, and our friends headed home. Paul and I put a second coat on most of the bedroom, but ran out of paint, so we plan to finish that tonight and touch up a few places in the living room. Then we'll peel lots of masking tape, paint the bottom half of the dining room, and I'll get started on the trim later this week. I'll save the baseboard trim, though, until Paul gets the carpets ripped up to expose that lovely wood floor! Otherwise the paint won't cover all of the trim - even now you can see a previous layer of paint if you look closely by the carpet line.

*whew* what a weekend. But it feels good to know that our house is really on the road to becoming our home! We have to be out of our apartment by the end of June, and I think my goal of actually getting our house mostly set up by the end of June is do-able. I can already tell that we are going to be SO happy here! The little party we had on Saturday night was so wonderful and comfortable and happy. Knowing that I OWN the place where we were able to gather comfortably, and so I'll be able to have lots more parties like that in the near future! I love the little community of friends we have in this area. I'm so happy right now. Aaaaaah...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

House Tidbits

Sorry all, I have lots of picture on my camera but no way to get them onto the computer at the moment. Priority for now is washing walls and painting trim so we're ready for this weekend's big paintfest!

The living room boarder is now 100% removed, as of about 9:30 last night. Paul and I started on the dining room walls, removing big glops of glue using vinegar water and plastic scrapers, but there's still quite a way to go - two passes of vineger water + scraping followed up with a sponge still leaves some definite rough glue patches on the otherwise smooth plaster, so we're not sure what our next step should be.

In other painting plans, I've decided to spend this evening cleaning the trim in the master bedroom and living room so that I can mask and paint the trim tomorrow, starting in the master bedroom. That way, I won't have to mask anything but around the windows, because if I get paint on the walls it will just get covered up with the wall paint on Saturday. I think this is going to save a lot of time and masking tape. So tonight before going home to clean, a trip to Lowe's is in order.

I also plan to make potato kale soup for dinner, since we got a pound of kale in our first CSA share yesterday, and it's already looking wilty in the fridge. We brought over most of the kitchen utensils on Sunday, and I put them all away, so all I need to grab from the apartment is a few spices and some olive oil, potatoes, and chicken broth. Should be a relatively easy meal for the first cooked in our new kitchen! Then carrot cake for dessert, and maybe a mojito to use up the mint, also from the CSA. Add Rum, sugar, and limes to the get-from-apartment list!

We've decided to put away our Linens N' Things dishes that chip when you look at them wrong, and recruit the Farberware sets that Paul's Aunt Nancy got for us, but that we hadn't opened yet. I tested out our little apartment-sized dishwasher by loading it with all those dishes, plus some Cascade powder, and discovered that the dishwasher doesn't do a good job of rinsing anything in the very back. I could use liquid detergent instead, but then I worry that it still wouldn't be rinsed, but I wouldn't be able to tell they way I can when I see the white remains of the Cascade powder. I guess for now I'll just try to not load the back, and give a quick rinse in the sink to anything that needs it. Anyone else have experience with inefficient apartment dishwashers?

Yesterday I brought over all my plants from the apartment, and tonight I will get to use some of my basil, which is good because it needs to be pinched off so it can keep getting more bushy. Even more exciting, Paul mowed the lawn yesterday evening! It was great. We have a lawnmower! While he did that, I pulled out the old, dead growth left hiding the new growth in a mystery plant in front of our lamp post, and it looks much nicer now. There's a spot that needs a plant right at the corner between the lamp post and the driveway, where I plan to put one of the plants from the random garden patch that we're going to remove from the side yard.

Then I went to dead-head the spent roses from my three awesome rosebushes, and discovered that they have a pretty hard-core infestation of aphids. I read online today that the aphids don't really hurt the roses, they just look unattractive, so we'll see. I could mostly cure that problem by hosing the roses down, but that's not good for them in the spring when they're blooming profusely, PLUS I think they also have black spot, which means I should keep the roses as dry as possible, and hosing them down would spread the black spot problem and make it worse. So I'm not sure what to do! One site mentioned baking soda and water, so I might try that, and also just thinning out the roses so there's better airflow and they can stay drier so the black spot can't keep spreading. Boo for fungus. It's making the blooms die more quickly, and just look sickly in general. But luckily they still look great from a distance!

I feel dead tired at the end of each day, and washing walls etc. is still not any fun, but so far I'm enthusiastic enough about OUR HOUSE that it's all been happy work. And I think after this coming weekend, we'll feel really satisfied and richly rewarded for our work. Then the only major job before really moving in and settling down will be lifting the carpet and tack strips to expose the wood floors! And, of course, getting some polyurethane down on the wood, but we might wait a while before doing that.

I will eventually post pictures...I'm taking lots of them!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's the economy, stupid

Since I started my new job with EDS, which is now owned by HP (you probably own a printer or something made by HP), a few things have happened of the trying-to-ride-out-the-recession variety. For me, up to and including today's addition, these crappy little concessions haven't had an adverse impact on my life or finances, but there are people I work with who are definitely feeling the pinch more than I am.

First, HP mandated a 5% cut in all employee salaries. This happened a few days after the offer we put in on our house had been accepted. Luckily, we're buying a house well within our means, and even with the 5% pay cut my salary is still a nice margin above what I was making at my previous job.

Then HP mandated an additional 10% pay cut for the month of April. That put a big, scary feeling in my stomach, but pretty quickly we found out that because of the type of contract we were on, we were exempt from this pay cut. *whew*

Around the same time as the pay cuts, HP decided that instead of keeping up the regular employer mathing program for our 401k contributions, they would STOP matching in each paycheck and start doing an analysis of their ability to match at the close of each quarter, and only then would they match, but only up to their ability. Read: in all likelyhood, no more matching of 401k contributions for the forseeable future.

This morning we received a fourth harmelss-looking e-mail that hid some bad news. HP is mandating two weeks of vacation time from December 20 through January 2. There are two regular holidays during this time, but for the rest of the days we would normally work, we are now required to use our own vacation time or take leave without pay. Suck. We can borrow from our 2010 vacation, but who wants to do that? It will be lovely, of course, to be home for two weeks, but I'm not sure yet exactly what this means. Will I have to cancel some of the days off I already have planned and move them to the end of the year? I guess we won't be taking a mini-break over our second anniversary.

In comparison to the hardships I know a lot of people are going through, these measures being taken by HP are really not bad. I have not lost my job, as have a few people I know, and my pay isn't being cut any more. My hours aren't being cut on a regular basis. But news like this still gives me a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think it's the helplessness - if they can do this, what else might happen next week or next month? And what can I do to stop it? Nothing, that's what.

I'll tell you what I'm not going to do: I'm not going to roll my SAIC 401k into HP's 401k program. I'm going to go private with it. And hopefully I can do the same thing with my HP 401k, with whatever I've built up over the past six months. Because if they're not matching my contributions anyway, what's the point of using theirs? I might as well stick with Vanguard.

I also understand that companies including mine absolutely need to take steps like these to remain competitive and avoid more drastic measures down the road. As in, of course I'd rather take a pay cut and manditory vacation now, if it means that I'll still have this job years down the road; even more so if it means we'll come out of the recession in a strong position, and then maybe I'll get a nice pay raise or a bonus or something.

I think this most recent installment feels different because of the way we were told. It just seems very inconsiderate. From the looks of the FAQ's on HP's employee site, this is something HP has done in past years, maybe every year. So my question is: if you are doing this every year, why do you wait to tell us until the start of Summer when everyone's planning their vacations and looking forward to that week at the beach? I'd much rather have it mandated from the beginning, and plan my vacation around it to begin with instead of the big disappointment and forced change of plans. Maybe former HP employees know to plan for this possibility, but we at EDS sure didn't see it coming.

When did this get so complicated? Sheesh. It's a damn good thing that I like this job a lot better than my old one. I'm beginning to see why big corporations get such a bad rap - the bigger they are, the easier it is for stuff like this to feel like you just fell through the cracks, instead of feeling like you're suffering for the good of the company. But in the end, I'm mainly thankful to have my job, and thankful for all the great benefits I do still have. Feeling upset about it now won't stop me from thoroughly enjoying my two weeks off for the holidays!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Recurring dream

Reading Katy's post on her strange dream reminded me what I first remembered when I got in the car to go to work this morning - that I had a pretty odd dream last night too.

I've never had the same dream twice, or really even a similar one, but I do have one major element - plot device? - that has been showing up in my dreams since at least High School. When I dream, I frequently find myself driving a car in which the breaks don't work properly. The breaks always mostly work, but typically even when I have the breaks pressed the whole way to the floor, and I am pressing as hard as I can, the car will still be moving slowly, and I am unable to get it to stop. Nothing bad has ever actually happened as a result, but in these dreams I'm always very nervous or scared.

Last night the car was a minivan, and I was taking care of someone else's baby, but this baby could talk and reason like a regular person. So as I'm putting the baby in the car seat in the back of the car, I realize that the car is drifting forward slowly. I close the door and get in the car myself, but someone else is driving, and since neither of us can get the car to stop despite braking hard and even turning off the car, I direct her to pull into another parking space that's on a steep incline. It works, and the car stops, but when I go back to make sure the baby's all strapped in correctly, I find that it has moved itself to the other seat in the car, and it is laughing at me because it tricked me! This whole time the baby has also been talking to me, but I have no idea what it was saying, just that it felt a little weird and I was exasperated that an otherwise cute baby was ruining my afternoon by acting like a sarcastic adult. The car eventually started drifting backwards out of the new parking spot, but I must have woken up before I figured out how to fix that problem.

I feel like Katy's dream fits pretty well with some of the stresses she talks about on her blog, Bonnie Hunt aside; but I really haven't ever thought of a compelling explanation for this car-that-won't-quite-stop-even-though-I'm-breaking-as-hard-as-I-can theme. I don't think dreams are ever predictive, unless it's of something we already know subconsciously, and generally I think my dreams are completely random amalgamations of my subconscious's mental diarrhea during REM sleep - often including elements of my recent experiences or stresses, but just a meaningless garble that has no potential to tell me anything about myself in my waking life. However, this one recurring element is hard to ignore after almost ten years, so I'd be interested to hear anyone's ideas.

I know I'm having this dream on the brink of probably the biggest stress-inducing event of my life so far, purchasing a house. But I've been stressed about that for weeks now, and there's still a few days to go, so why last night? Plus, I'm pretty sure I've had this dream plenty of times when I wasn't stressed about anything...but now that I think about it, that would be a good thing to start keeping track of - what else has been going on in my life when I get these dreams? I'll start writing it down, starting with this one.

Friday, May 22, 2009

www.craft-day.com

Back again with more domain purchasing mania:

Try out www.craft-day.com!

In other news, tonight is my bowling birthday party at The Coliseum. It will be just like the ones you used to go to when you were eight, minus bumpers and plus alcohol. But we're still having pizza and cake, so really, just about the same.

Tomorrow morning you can find me from 9:30-11:30 with my lovely sister Hannah volunteering on the VanGo Bus at Artsfest on Front Street in Harrisburg. Should be a good time, come out and see us! Hannah has even promised to buy me a Birthday Gyro, my fav.

After Artsfest, Paul and I are headed down to York to help out his mom and sister (and others from their Relay for Life team perhaps?) at their booth for the Chili Cookoff at the baseball statium where the York Revolution plays. I will be bringing a water bottle in case I get anything too spicy!

Saturday evening Paul wants to go see Terminator, so hopefully I'll find some girlfriends, or else stay home and do some much-needed packing.

Sunday afternoon is picnic with my family.

I have no idea what I'm doing on my actual birthday on Monday. We'll see.

Then thank goodness I only have to work 3 days while waiting for THE BIG DAY, May 29, when the house will finally be ours!! Then starts another 3-day weekend filled with before pictures of the entire house, and of course lots and lots of wallpaper peeling. Haven't decided yet whether we'll take the carpet up at the same time, or wait until we're done painting the next weekend. So much to think about! I am already so nervous and excited that I might explode before next Friday.

Come help peel wallpaper, or just stop by to see the house, any time you want!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

peacelovemath.com!

In order to test out how it works, I just paid $10 through Google Blogger to register peacelovemath.com for a year! Much kudos and thanks go out to Jordan, my...cousin-in-law? He is a very awesome person who set up my cousin's site, and she is married to Jordan's brother, so I think that makes him my cousin-in-law. Anyway.

It takes about 48 hours to percolate through the abstract inner workings of the internet, so it might not work yet, but eventually it will just direct you back here. But still, so cool!! I have laid claim to my own domain name, and it was so cheap and easy!

This is all practice for my main goal, which is to claim a domain for Craft Day. craftday.com is currently owned by someone who isn't using it for anything (type it into your browser and it takes you to GoDaddy.com), but I'm still waiting on a reply to the e-mail I sent to her (the current owner). If that doesn't work out, then I will go with something like craftdaypa.com, which is available. Any other suggestions are very welcome!

From what I'm reading, it sounds like Google would even let me set up an online store on the domain if I eventually wanted to, which would be so awesome. But at first, if I can get a little business of the ground, all I want is e-mail (which I already have, but which also comes with the domain - I could be mer@craftdaypa.com!), and a blog setting to upload info and pictures. Which I also already have, but it will be way cooler and feel more official if I can direct people to craftdaypa.com, no need to remember the blogger part of the domain.

Woo hoo! Thanks, Jordan!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grow

I have a few extremely teensy sprouts coming up in my herb planter! They've been under the grow bulb in our living room, and there's a chance of frost tonight and cool weather today and tomorrow, but Saturday and Sunday should be in the 80's (!!!) so they're going outside for the weekend! I should have some pictures by Sunday. I'm so excited!!

I still haven't been able to replace my mysteriously empty seed packet of Genovese Basil, so hopefully I'll stop by HG tomorrow so I can get those suckers planted in time to benefit from this weekend's super weather.

Now that I'm in Bell Choir through the end of the season, you should all come see me and my mom play at TLC on May 3. We are doing both the 8:15 and 11:00 services, communion music plus one piece with the piano that is really exciting and peppy! Should be a good time. Except for the part where we have to be there at 7:30, but you don't have to be there nearly that early to see us, so no excuses.

I'm feeling so motivated today that I cleaned my whole desk at work in addition to getting a bunch of work done already. I wish I could be at home today and apply all this energy to cleaning and packing! Or better yet, actually in my new house so I could apply it to de-wallpapering and painting.

I think I might get some non-pressure-treated scrap wood and make my herb garden a raised garden. Thoughts?

I also got another great idea from our visit to Ikea: They had for sale a live fern in a deep clear glass, filled with layers of stone and sand and gravel and peat and dirt. The fern was still under the rim of the vase, so the whole thing created a really neat layered visual that would make a great decoration, but since it was all inside the glass it was still very clean looking, with the shades of brown and textures of all the layers and the burst of green on top. I was scoping out similar big glass vases at Michael's the other day, so this summer I'm going to make my own. I'm thinking centerpiece for the dining room table, to match the green paint and bring in some earthy tones. Think terrarium without the lid.

Yay for the nice weather to come this weekend! I can't wait. Maybe I can get a little tan going on my dreadfully white toes so they look better in these cute sandals. If the diet keeps going as well as it is so far, I might even need to be tan all over come Summer! Here's hoping.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Already a busy weekend

Last week, I saw birds on our feeder for the first time! Bright and beautiful Goldfinches:

Then this morning, there were more! Actually probably the same pair:


Last night, before stopping by Highland Gardens to get the makings of an herb garden, we drove past the house to see if anything new was growing. The Bradford Pear tree is now in full bloom, proving that it is, in fact, a Bradford Pear like my mom guessed!


Then we got the herb supplies. Instead of a pre-packaged kit for sprouting seeds, we figured out it was about the same price to buy our own 36 little seedling pellets, planters, tray, and greenhouse lid. Plus three kinds of Basil seeds, Chives, Dill, Coriander/Cilantro, and Parsley, total was about $25! I decided to only plant the Genovese and Sweet basil, and leave the Lemon basil for planting in June because the packet said it didn't transplant well or grow well inside...but then I couldn't plant the Genovese basil because the seed packet was empty! So I'll plant those once I have a chance to go back and get a good pack.

Hopefully in a week or two I'll have little sprouts to photograph!

Once we move, I'll dig a garden out back ASAP and plant all the yumminess in the sunniest spot in our yard, and they'll help spice up lots of CSA veggies all summer long! It will feel great to be a locavore.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Herb garden

Lemon Cornmeal Cake is a dessert you'll definitely want to try over at my recipe blog!

I also found time to sign on to goodreads for once, and reviewed Brisingr. If this book is still popular with young readers when my kids are old enough, I really hope they read and appreciate Tolkein and Lewis and a few other young adult fantasy writers first so that when they read Paolini's books they can appreciate how not-that-great they are and move on to re-reading Harry Potter. If you look at Brisingr's page on Goodreads.com, take a look at some of the negative reviews - they're pretty great.

Super nice weather forecast for this weekend, so I think I'm going to spend some time on Saturday with a trip to Lowe's for a seed sprouting kit and a bunch of herb seeds. Then I'll be all ready to go when we move into our new house at the end of May, with lots of little seedlings to plant so we have lots of herbs to complement all the veggies we'll be getting from our CSA subscription! I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

Week One of my new measured diet is going very well. I felt a little sad at the skimpy 8 oz of Chiang Mer (made with Tilapia this time) that didn't halfway fill my bowl on Wednesday evening, but as soon as I walked away and sat down to start eating, I was fine...plus, I've already enjoyed the leftovers once, and because I ate so much less on Wednesday I still get to enjoy it twice more!

Herbs for my seedlings:
Basil (two or three varieties!)
Rosemary
Thyme
Parsley
Dill
Cilantro
Chives
Fennel

4 to 6 weeks seems to be the recommended time for seedlings to grow before planting, so if I do it tomorrow it will correspond perfectly with our first weekend in our new home!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New food plan

Yesterday I got an idea, and I felt so good about it that I had the drive to implement it last night, and I now have stashed in the fridge in the break room 2 meals plus 1 snack for each day this week.

My idea is to start using the nice little digital kitchen scale I registered for before our wedding. It's been sitting on our sideboard, rarely used, for over 18 months now. Last night I gave it a good workout, and it did a great job.

I've tried counting calories, and from that experience I know that I'd never stick with the Weight Watchers points thing either, if I ever felt tempted to try it. It was just way too much hassle to figure out what everything I ate contained, and from there to decide how much of it I could/should eat.

Then on a few occasions, mainly after New Years and right before summer, I've told myself that I can eat all the foods I love, but just eat less of them. Well, this doesn't work for me either, because it's just too vague: I need a hard, bright line to use, but one that's easy to see and stick with.

Yesterday I decided that bright line would be the weight of my meals. Last night, I first took a trip to Giant for some lean protein snacks and a pack of the Ziplock 8 oz plastic containers. At home, I measured and weighed to create containers of breakfast and lunch for Tuesday-Friday this week, and now they're all at work with me, lined up in the fridge and ready to grab. Each meal is 8 oz of food, all of it food I love. I also have supplies for various high-protein, low-fat afternoon snacks weighing in at 4 oz each, and here I'm trying some new things, such as 1% cottage cheese to which I will add a scoop of fat-free salsa, and 1-oz packs of part-skim string cheese.

Breakfast is a 1/2 cup scoop of oatmeal, a scant handful of walnuts, a scoop of the blueberry sauce left over from a cake I made this weekend (it's just blueberries, brown sugar, and lemon juice), and then I top that off with skim milk until I hit 8 oz. The sugar in the blueberry sauce is all the sweetner I need, and it's so delicious that I plan to make more of the sauce, sans cake, just to use on my oatmeal.

Lunch this week is leftover pork curry over rice for two days, and for the other two days an egg salad sandwich piled high with broccosprouts, my new favorite sandwich topper in the known universe. The lunch containers only weigh in at 6 oz, so I'll probably add a string cheese each day for a total of 7 oz.

Snacks are all pre-packaged, so I can decide what I want each afternoon and still know exactly how much I'm eating. Cottage cheese with salsa or plain, some fat-free Greek yogurt (I got one peach and one vanilla to try), and tonight I plan to make some fat free dip out of 3 oz fat free plain Greek yogurt plus 1 oz of fat free sour cream, add some garlic and pepper, and dip in the baby cucumbers I bought to make something like a fat free, high protein tzatziki.

For dinners I plan to cook as usual, whatever food we want to make, no restrictions (altho we are going to start eating leaner meat and more fish!), but then instead of loading up my plate or bowl with as much food as it can hold and thus ending up with no leftovers, I'll use the handy scale again to make sure I don't take more than 8 oz. Then if I am really hungry for seconds, or if I want dessert, I can have up to another 4 oz.

In addition to all that, which I'm going to follow 100%, I have two other tricks I'm going to try: I'm going to take time to eat my meal or snack, trying to stretch it over a half hour if possible; and I'm going to try to not drink during meals, and wait for another half hour after I'm done eating before I have anything to drink. That last part is going to be hard for me, because I've been used to drinking as I eat for my entire life, but I've been looking up information about it, and it seems to be better to drink before a meal and not during. I might not stick with that part, but we'll see; maybe I'll get used to it pretty easily.

I feel so differently about this plan than about any other diet-like plans I've had before. I literally never stick with anything for more than a day or two, but I think it's been because it was too much hassle, too hard to follow, or too vague. I don't feel nervous or hesitant or annoyed or hassled at all by this plan - I just feel really relieved that I don't have to think about what I'm eating for the rest of the week, I don't have to fool around trying to figure out what to eat in the mornings or what to take for lunches, and I don't have to worry about feeling guilty when I don't have time to pack my lunch and I end up eating in the cafeteria.

Instead of having a small idea like trying to make myself eat yogurt for lunch every day, which leaves me unsatisfied and craving more food, this time I have an entire plan and all the tools to do it - a variety of food and snacks, reuseable containers in the right sizes, a kitchen scale, and regular, normal food that I like to eat.

I weighed myself last night, and now I'm going to follow the plan for at least 2 full weeks before I weigh myself again. I hope that after 2 weeks of never pigging out, I will have lost a few pounds, and that will be more than enough reward to encourage me to keep doing this indefinitely. Already just the feeling of not having to think about what I'm eating during the day, not feeling guilty, and knowing that I'll be efficiently using all my leftovers and saving money by packing all my food, makes me feel so great that I have no desire to stray at all.

Goals:
- Lose weight
- Waste less food
- Save money
- Eat more protein
- Eat less fat
- Eat more fruits & veggies

Here's hoping I've finally come up with a plan that will work for me!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back

I totally forgot to do anything on facebook yesterday, which I guess means my giving it up for lent really served its purpose. And I didn't twitter all day either, except to say "I'm back!"

Easter was fun, with probably my favorite parts being singing the Halleluja Chorus (always makes me cry a little, in a good way), and getting to play in the bell choir. When I get subbed in at the last minute before a concert, I get all the reward of a couple of challenging rehearsals and then a performance, with none of the bad feelings associated with going to practice every single week. When I was in bell choir for real, it meant two nights a week at church, and it was just too much for me.

Saturday since it was raining, I was going to make us work on the basement and getting everything organized and packed down there, but was easily swayed by Paul when he suggested going to Ikea instead. We had so much fun! We didn't spend any money, we found a couch we both really love that we think will be perfect for our new living room, we got tons of other ideas, and the icing on the cake: Paul remembered a bunch of leftover hardware from our kitchen cabinets, which he brought along to return, so not only did we not buy anything but we walked out with a nice chunk of store credit! If we buy the couch we want, it equates to about a 13% discount on the couch!

When we got home Saturday, I got bitten by the domestic bug and proceeded to bake a cake I've been wanting to try (Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed Blueberry Sauce - Paul loved it even more than I did), and also hardboiled and colored the 10 eggs we had left in our fridge. Of course, then I basically forgot about the eggs, and have yet to eat one. I might just make egg salad out of them, otherwise I'm afraid I'll never use them.

I also need to post pictures of my getting-close-to-finished first-ever sweater. Last night I finished the second sleeve and attached both sleeves to the body in-the-round, so now I'm ready to do the raglan shaping decrease rounds, then the neckline, then sew up the few small seems and fix a couple of holes and it's done! Now I just need to find a toddler to wear it. Anyone have a toddler who would fit into a sweater with a 26" chest size?

Next up: Kelly's baby sweater, interspersed with as many wool soakers as I can finish.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

More proof that I love Margaritas and Camp Nawakwa

I still don't remember it, but Tom R and, I assume, Marilyn D have managed to dig up the "contract" Marilyn told me existed. I didn't believe her, and I still don't remember it, but that is definitely my signature, so it must be true...I whited out my last name for purposes of internet posting. Tom posted this on facebook earlier this week, but since it's still Lent I had to have Paul e-mail me a copy so I could see it:


Meredith will live in a hole in Swamp for FCI [signed] Meredith [dated] 11/10/2008 Paul: Maintenence [sic] Shed

I registered for Family Camp I earlier this week, which I'm guessing is what prompted them find this up and post it. I just hope they don't charge me full price for sleeping in a hole in the swamp...maybe they'll let me crawl in with Paul in the maintenance shed if it does rain.

Of course, I suppose a hole in a swamp would be filled with water anyway, so maybe the rain won't even matter.

I can't believe they kept track of a napkin for this long. I'm impressed.

Monday, April 06, 2009

6 more days

until Lent is over and I can go back to facebook and twitter. I haven't missed them nearly as much as I thought I would. I have missed facebook, and have heard of a few juicy tidbits from people that I wish I could rush online and check out for myself, but it will all still be there next week. Twitter I think I'll cut back on and mostly just use to update my facebook status.

I'm back at work today, but starting light with a couple of hours out over lunch today to see my grandfather get married. That should be really fun. I'm wearing my dark-blue-with-creamy-white-flowers Easter dress at work today as a result, which is really no fun in the rain and I almost forgot how much I hate wearing nylons, but it's OK because I look cute.

David Sedaris was so much fun to see live in Frederick on Saturday, and before that a fun lunch with Kelly P and Luke and Matt P, followed by a very successful shopping trip to the Gettysburg outlets - two perfect summery cotton cardigans and two pairs of pants at the Gap outlet, plus a new pair of sandals that are super cute.

Got up at 6:45 this morning with no problems, so I'm hoping my energy feeding off of preparations for moving in less than 2 months will follow through and start getting me into work at 8 AM regularly, so that I can get home earlier to continue preliminary packing and (more importantly) knitting for all my pregnant friends. I finally started the second sleeve of my first-ever sweater, so I want to get that all finished, and then I have my yarn for Kelly's baby sweater, plus I still want to finish a few baby toys and diaper covers to use up some of the Paton's Classic Wool yarn I have.

Making that big donation to Salvation Army on Saturday morning felt great. I hope some 12-year-old girl really loves the size 4 pink courderoy pants I barely wore, and my favorite-ever jean shorts with the little embroidered sunflowers.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Haven't had time

Sorry I haven't delivered on the video of the inside of our house. I haven't had time to edit it down to an internet-friendly size yet. In the mean time, here are a few pictures of the outside:



Yesterday I got most of the way done with the basement, altho it still looks like a mess. But now that I'm so far in, I'm more enthusiastic to keep going - it makes the moving seem more real.

Paul went to the gym after work, so I had a little longer to keep working. Since I had off all week but we didn't do anything vacation-y, we decided to go out to dinner last night, and to kick the evening off right, Paul brought home three yellow roses for me! He had them sitting on the kitchen table in my favorite vase when I came up from the basement.

He also got me a new faceplate and mouse pad for my iBook, which is getting up there in years for a notebook computer, and has been having keyboard quirks for quite a while now. For instance, the Q key is overly sensitive: both times I've used it in this paragraph, it's typed two. The zero key is the same way. And then last week the mouse button stopped working reliably. What Paul bought won't replace the keyboard, but it will replace everything else visible, and it will give us a chance to pull of the keyboard and clean it, so hopefully it will solve all the problems. The only other thing that might be a problem soon is the optical drive, but that doesn't even matter - I rarely use it, and if I needed to get information off of this computer I can always use the USB ports and our external hard drive, and transfer it to Paul's computer if I needed to burn a disc.

Also yesterday the yarn I ordered came in the mail! It's so soft. I got a rich, dark brown for the body, and a lovely, muted green for the trim. I'm going to make a cardigan, so the green will be at the edges of the sleeves as well as around the bottom and up the front and for the neckline. So exciting! And before too long, I will get to meet Baby Prep and hold her and have a picture of her wearing the sweater I made. That will be so amazing.

Today we're headed to Salvation Army this morning to make a big drop-off of lots of old clothing, a few blankets, and more than ten pairs of my old shoes. That means I can officially buy a pair of cute sandals this afternoon if I see anything good! And I have Paul's express permission, because I've met his one criteria for buying shoes: get rid of a pair that I already have. So actually, by his requirement, I could theoretically buy ten pairs of shoes today...but I won't. Maybe two pairs if there are cute sandals AND cute ballet flats.

After Salvo and smoothies from the Lemoyne Farmer's Market, we head down to Gettysburg to Kelly's in-laws for a breakfast party for the first day of trout season. Since we're not coming home afterwards we won't be trying to catch any trout, but it will still be fun. I can't wait to see her belly!

Then in the afternoon we will head over to the Gettysburg Outlets, where I will look for some khaki pants, cardigans, and those cute sandals to show off my newly-painted toenails. Then before 5:00 my parents will meet us in the parking lot and we'll hop in with them to head down to Frederick, MD for dinner and to see David Sedaris! Should be a really fun day. Hannah and her friend Carl will be there too, but she's driving separately so she can go pick Carl up from the Northernmost Metro station, since he lives in DC.

Tomorrow afternoon: more basement cleaning, and hopefully getting close to finishing my first trial-run sweater. And maybe trying out the salmon with rice salad I was thinking about last week.
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