Tuesday, May 19, 2015

it was everything i imagined a vacation day would be

Well, today may be Tuesday but it feels like Monday to me.  

I took the day off yesterday because it was May 18th.  A day of utmost significance.  A day that has been marked on our calendar for weeks now. 

It was the release of the new Cheez-It 'Extra Toasty' flavor.

And you better believe I was at the food store at 10:00 am to stock up.  

Now that I write that sentence, it’s sinking in that I made a special trip to the grocery store on my day off just to buy a new snack cracker.  I’m not sure if that’s a high or a low.

A few months ago, as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard Matt say, “OH SHOOT.  I CAN’T BELIEVE I FORGOT TO DO THAT.”

In case the forgotten task was turning off the oven or renewing the car insurance or something along those lines, I asked in my sleepy state, “Forgot to do what?”

“To write to the Cheez-It manufacturer.  I want to suggest that they put more slightly burned crackers in the boxes because those are my absolute favorite.”

So basically, we have literally lost sleep over the rarity of toasty Cheez-Its.

But evidently the request went from Matt’s lips to the CEO of Kellogg’s ears because we now have two boxes of extra toasty Cheez-Its in our cabinet.  I told myself that we could eat one box this week and save the second for our trip to the beach this weekend, but there is a better chance of me understanding calculus than there is of that second box of Cheez-Its making it to Saturday.

As for the rest of my day off, I woke up at 6:30 because I didn’t want to waste a second of it.  I sat on the balcony and drank my coffee, got all ready for the day, made a phone call to the mortgage man, listened to two podcasts, read six chapters in a new Jodi Picoult book, cleaned the bathroom, ate a tuna sandwich, watered the plants, vacuumed, organized the clothes in my closet by color and category, went to the food store, Sam’s Club, and the post office.

And after all that I looked at the clock to figure out how to spend the last precious moments of my day off and it turns out that it was only 11:37.  

So I decided to go home and grab my camera and a water bottle and take a nice long walk in the woods.  I came upon a horse farm on my walk and wished I’d picked up some carrots while I was at the store for Cheez-Its.

I didn’t listen to music because I was all by myself and I’ve watched enough crime shows to know that I’d want to be able to hear if someone was sneaking up on me so I could make a speedy getaway.  

Without my headphones, my mind wandered and I thought about how when I was little I read a book about a girl who found a tiny abandoned cottage in the woods and she lived there and made an adorable home for herself and even swept the floor with evergreen branches and cut the grass around the cottage with scissors, which sounds quaint in theory but in reality, not so much.  

I also thought about how I wouldn’t mind living in a hidden woodsy cottage now and then, specifically when it is between 65 and 72 degrees, with no precipitation and minimal winds.  However, I have to be careful not to share that with Matt because he would have us packed up and moved out and living underneath an oak tree before you can say “Where do I plug in my straightener?”

And just as I was imagining purple wildflowers lining the path to this imaginary cottage, I saw a large brown creature move out of the corner of my eye.  I stopped, and spotted something walking slowly behind the trees.

And the first thought that entered my mind was, “Oh my gosh.  One of those horses has escaped from the pasture.  I’m going to have to CATCH A HORSE.”

It was as if forty minutes in the woods turned me into some sort of rustic superhero who can catch runaway farm animals with her bare hands.

And then the horse walked into a clearing.  And the horse was a deer.  

Which I should have expected because there are approximately seventy trillion deer in those woods.

After my walk it was still only about 2:30, so I decided to drive around some neighborhoods and look for homes for sale because Matt and I are beginning the process of Buying A House.  And after my day yesterday I think it's best that we move into a civilized neighborhood.

With no wild animals.

And easy access to a grocery store.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

i certainly couldn't give it up altogether

When I was a little girl, my dad would empty his suit pockets when he got home from work and leave any change he had in his pockets on my dresser.  After dinner I would count the change, and if I counted correctly I got to keep it.

If I counted incorrectly, I had to donate the money to the poor.

More often than not the money was donated to the poor, because differentiating between a nickel and a quarter and their respective values is evidently a task that I've struggled with since I was six years old.

One of my very favorite things in the world is Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee.  There is a spring promotion going on at the DD stores around here and iced coffee is just 99 cents plus tax.   That brings the total to $1.05 and you better believe that I have been taking full advantage of that sale.

Matt and I collect our change to use for special treats, and since iced coffee definitely counts as a special treat, each morning I grab $1.05 from our coin jar and get my coffee.

One day last week, I rummaged through the change jar for my coffee money and grabbed two quarters and a nickel.

For those of you playing along at home, that is only fifty five cents.

I drove up the street to DD and marched inside with my three coins because I was feeling so confident and superior because HELLO, I COME BEARING EXACT CHANGE.  And my superior attitude and  I placed an order for "iced caramel coffee with skim milk, sugar, and extra ice please."

"That will be one oh five," said the woman behind the counter.

I handed over my three coins and waited while she looked at them and flipped them over and over in her hand a few times.  And then she slowly looked up at me and said, "One dollar and five cents.  This?  Only fifty five cents."

And I have no reasonable explanation for why I reacted the way that I did.  I can only imagine it came from a place of deep embarrassment.

But here is what I did.

I pretended that I did not understand English.


It must have slipped my mind that just seconds earlier I'd ordered an iced caramel coffee with skim milk, sugar, and extra ice please which is a very particular order for SOMEONE WHO ALLEGEDLY DOES NOT SPEAK ENGLISH.

I made a few gestures with my hands and pointed to the parking lot like a crazy person.  And then I made the walk of shame to my car to scrounge up two more quarters because I'd been so confident in my coin counting that I'd left my wallet in the car.

And to top things off, as I made my shameful exit, the wind caught the door and it flew into the glass window of the store next door, so I looked like a crazy person who knows just enough English to make a very specific coffee order and has an anger problem.

I returned with two more quarters and a red face and sheepishly handed the coins to the lady behind the counter.

Once I had that iced coffee in my hands I literally ran out of the store.

Never to return again.

Because that iced coffee may only be $1.05.

But my pride is worth more than that.

And by "more than that" I mean driving a quarter mile further to the next DD.

Monday, April 6, 2015

we also found a deer skeleton, but there are no pictures of that

Matt and I went geocaching for the first time on Saturday, and we found one!

Well, we didn't actually set out with the intention of finding a geocache.  It was more of a happy accident.  As we were walking along the trail Matt pointed at something off in the brush and said, "Hey what do you think that is?" and I said, "Looks to me like a piece of PVC pipe someone just littered" as I marched onward because I was ALL BUSINESS about our walk.

But Matt hiked in to investigate further and it turns out that it was a geocache with a notebook and pen and some little trinkets inside.  We walked for two more hours, and while we didn't find any other geocaches, we did find some beautiful scenery!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

north, south, east, and west, spin the wheel and hope for the best

Last night Matt and I each made a bowl of chocolate peanut butter ice cream and settled in for an episode of Brain Games.

I believe the words you're looking for are WILD AND CRAZY.

The episode theme was "Battle of the Sexes," and obviously I knew the ladies had this one in the bag but I humored Matt and agreed to play along with the scenarios.

First topic up was spacial reasoning.

Welp, Laura Darling, OUT.

The scenario was, "Which set of directions makes more sense to you? Drive north on main street for two miles.  Head west on Pine Street, and then drive southeast on Maple Street.  You will reach your destination in two thirds of a mile."  

OR "Drive out of the parking lot and turn left.  At the grocery store, make a right.  Stay on that road for three stoplights, and then make a right at the bank.  Your destination will be on the left, just past the pizza place."


Spatial reasoning has never been my wheelhouse.  However, I believe I come by it honestly because when my mom is using a map, she turns it so it's in the direction that she's going.  And a few years ago my family was driving down to visit my aunt in Virginia, and my Mommom mentioned that whenever she's driving downhill, she feels like she's going south, and when she is driving uphill she feels like she is going north.

And I knew what she meant because I automatically assume that whatever direction I am driving is is north.  South is behind me, east is to my right, and west to my left.

In fact, as I was writing this post in my head while driving, I came to an intersection with this sign.

And to me, that just does not make sense.  If I am turning left, I am turning west.

I scheduled a meeting with coworkers this week and I sent an email out with directions to the office and the most convenient parking garage.  People were driving in from all over, but in my mind I assumed that they were all coming via the exact route I take.  And so I said, "When you're on 69th Street, turn left onto Chestnut Street (just past the Foot Locker) and the parking lot will be on the left."

And a (male) coworker emailed me back and said, "Assuming we're driving which direction on 69th Street?"



My sub par spatial reasoning skillz do not stop with driving.  When I was in college, I had a terrible ear infection and called home for medical advice and a healthy dose of sympathy.  I talked to my mom, and I presumed that she was in the living room.  When she asked me which ear hurt, I said, "Well, I guess it depends which couch you're sitting on."

Yes, because that would make a difference.

So all that to say Matt won spatial reasoning.

The second section was all about following directions and Matt and I are both Big Time Rule Followers.  If there is a rule, we follow it.  But I edged him out in the scenarios, so the game was tied up.

The third and final section was about memory.  I hate to brag but I am a memory WHIZ.  I remember everything, so it came as no surprise that I won each and every memory quiz and then gloated about how girls are the best and my fantastic memory put me over the edge.

Notably, there was no section on humility.

And then, because today is Thrifty Thursday, Matt decided to set up automatic payments for my student loan.  I prefer to go to the student loan website and pay my loan manually each month, because then I know it was done, and done correctly.  I don't trust automatic payments for the same reason I don't trust the check deposit app on my phone, and still prefer to take my checks to the bank and hand them to the teller like it's 2003.

Anyway, it turns out you get a discount for automatic payments so I agreed that we should give it a go because somebody's gotta put the thrifty in Thrifty Thursday.  And when I got out of the shower this morning I had a text from Matt that said, "What's your six digit pin for your student loan?"

"I don't use a pin," I said, "I just log in with my username and password."

"You should have an account pin too though.  It's six digits.  You probably picked it when you filled out your FAFSA form."

As a lady I hate to give away my age, but let's just say that FAFSA form was filled out NINE YEARS AGO.


It failed me.  I had no idea what my pin was so I had to call and reset it.

Pride comes before the fall.

I'm holding out hope that maybe someone will ask me for directions this week, and I will have the opportunity to redeem myself.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

i feel like i'm being watched

There are days when I have no idea what to write about.

And then there are days when inspiration literally lands on my doorstep.

Let me provide some background.

Matt is an Amazon fanatic.  Over the past year, I cannot even count the number of Amazon boxes that have been delivered to our house, and they've been filled with everything from khaki pants to Planter's Peanuts to water filters to engine gaskets to a case of organic white chocolate bars, even though we don't really eat organic white chocolate bars.

I was working from home one day a few weeks ago when I heard a knock on the door, and I opened it to find a delivery man holding an ENORMOUS Amazon box.  It was addressed to Matt, but I texted him to ask if he'd mind if I opened it, because is there anything better than opening a package?  I think not.  However, in the event that Matt had ordered a present for me, I didn't want to ruin his surprise.

It was not a present for me, so major bummer there.

But Matt told me to knock myself out and go ahead and open it, and when I opened the box that giant, plastic, freaky looking hawk was staring out at me.

And I almost had a heart attack.


The woman in the apartment below us has a lot of bird feeders on her balcony, which means that the birds sit on our balcony railing, and leave behind...well...what it is that birds leave behind.

It's not pleasant.

And they're not dainty, pretty, little birds.  They're enormous, gross pigeons that Matt calls rats with wings.

So this giant plastic bird creature was Matt's first move in a strategy to keep the pigeon-rats off of our balcony.  When he got home from work that night I told him very dramatically that, "THIS THING HAS TO GO OUTSIDE IMMEDIATELY.  IT CANNOT LIVE IN OUR APARTMENT.  IT DOES NOT MATCH THE DECOR AT ALL AND IT FREAKS ME OUT.  THOSE EYES FOLLOW ME."

Matt said he'd get a few bungee cords to fasten it to the railing and get it outside right away.  But not before he played a trick on me because the next morning I stumbled into the bathroom and flipped the light switch and this is what I saw.

I almost had a heart attack.

Mr. Hawk was in his new home on our balcony railing by that evening.

Except, instead of deterring the pigeons, he attracted them.  Like they were all old buddies.  Sitting on the railing.  Chatting about the snow and their wives and the stock market.

Needless to say, this camaraderie drove Matt crazy.  Now that the weather is (very, very, VERY slowly) warming up and we plan to spend lots of time on the balcony, Matt decided that today would be the day he'd throw down the decoy gauntlet.  While I washed the dishes, he went out on the balcony to fix things once and for all.  And he came back inside a few minutes later and triumphantly proclaimed, "He's like a real bird now! I rigged it so it looks like he's flying.  No pigeons will be coming to this balcony!"

"Woohoo!" I said, "that's awesome,"  and I continued on with the dishes. 

And then I finished the dishes and walked out of the kitchen and saw this.


That was not the solution that I expected.  And then Matt then taped tin foil all around the railing to deter the pigeons even more and I CANNOT EVEN TALK ABOUT THAT.

I had grand plans for the balcony this summer.  Some colorful Adirondack chairs and plenty of flowers and a nice citronella candle and maybe even some wind chimes.

And now I'll be working around our freaky hanging hawk and tin foil railing.

But at least there won't be any pigeons.

And that is, literally, a silver lining.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

i hope this post doesn't embarrass my parents

I woke up on the first Saturday morning of spring and saw this out my window.  I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  Come on, spring, get a move on.

I cheered up a little bit and then Matt asked if I'd like to go to the mall with him because he found himself in the market for some sunglasses.  I never turn down a trip to the mall, so off we went.  We wandered through Macy's and Matt said, "I wonder if I could get some cologne while we're here.  I've been thinking of getting some.  A nice musk."

Well, I couldn't have been more shocked if I'd see an elephant.

We got to the sunglasses and I immediately remembered that Matt has issues with sunglasses.  And those issues run deep.

Here's how I buy sunglasses.  I walk up to the $3.00 rack in Wal Mart and pick the pair with the most rhinestones.

Here's how Matt buys sunglasses.  He identifies a pair and then proceeds through a checklist that includes but is not limited to the following specifications:  They can't be too tight.  The arms have to be thin because he doesn't want to lose any peripheral vision.  They must have a very dark tint.  No aviators.  The nose pads must be comfortable, but not too thick so his nose doesn't get sweaty.  The tops of the glasses cannot touch his eyebrows.

He is like the Goldilocks of sunglasses.

After about fifteen pairs failed his test, I said, "Matt, what is it that you are envisioning?"

"Well," he said, "I basically just want to look tricked out."

Tricked out and smelling like musk.  He is full of surprises.

We left the mall an hour later without sunglasses or musk cologne and while the sunglasses search will continue, I think we may have dodged a bullet with the musk.

On Saturday evening we went out with friends, and I threw caution to the wind and had a giant iced coffee at 5:00 p.m.  So when we got home, sleep was the last thing on my mind and I decided to clean instead.

Matt turned on some music, specifically patriotic instrumental bagpipe music.  It's a long story, but basically thanks to St. Patrick's Day he is on a bagpipes kick.  

After a while we decided to take a little bagpipes break, and when I turned on the Eagles Pandora station, this song came on.  

My parents love Steely Dan, and growing up I bet I heard this song five hundred times.  I sang my little heart out and then pulled up my Pandora app so I could give the song a thumbs up, when much to my surprise I saw the title was "Reelin' in the Years."

I always thought it was "Reelin' in the East."

As in- I don't know what they're doing over in the west, but we're reeling here in the east.

You learn something new every day.  And on Saturday I learned I should verify song lyrics before I belt them out with confidence.  Who knows what else I'm singing incorrectly. 

Maybe Matt's onto something with the bagpipe music.

Friday, March 13, 2015

well, i won't be cooking lentils again

My sister was home for spring break this week, so I took a few days off work and we did all the important things like going to the mall and out to lunch and Sonic and Michael's Arts and Crafts.


It was back to reality today and I will admit, it was not my favorite Thursday.  Not only did I have to return to work after five glorious days of freedom, but I also cooked lentil curry soup for dinner.

As it turns out, I don't like lentils.

Or curry.

And most especially, I don't like the two of them combined in a soup.

All I have to say is thank goodness for that bag of chicken nuggets hiding in the back of the freezer.

It was my first foray into Indian food after quite a hiatus.  The last time I ate Indian food was sophomore year of college, when I went to an Indian restaurant with some friends and our waitress dropped an entire plate of tikka masala on me and my brand new cream colored sweater.

It was a bad night.

After my lentil curry disaster, I headed out for a walk around our apartment complex because HELLO, FORTY NINE DEGREES AND A 7:05 SUNSET.

This morning, Matt mentioned having a Thrifty Thursday meeting after dinner tonight.

Yes, that is a thing.  Matt coined the term "Thrifty Thursdays" a few months back and he likes to rendezvous each Thursday evening to discuss savings and stocks and insurance and budgets and make sure that we're both on the same page.

And I like to discuss the chances of me being able to to go into early retirement.  And by early, I mean sometime in the next 6-12 months.

Spoiler alert: it's not looking good.

Matt didn't mention our Thrifty Thursday meeting after work so I was secretly hoping he'd forgotten since I don't know how many times I can use the story that there was a sale I couldn't possibly pass up at Target/Macy's/Ikea/the nail salon before we have a needs vs. wants conversation.


He called the meeting to order (actually he didn't, but how funny would that be?) and 1.5 hours later I took it upon myself as co-president to adjourn the meeting.

I was experiencing information overload.

But speaking of thrifty, I bought a shelf at the thrift store last weekend for $2.00.  I got some paint at one of our many trips to Michael's this week, and for a novice painter I think the transformation was pretty impressive.

 (Emily helped.)

As far thriftiness goes, I think I have the arts and crafts department down.

Cuisine?  Not so much.

There are some areas of the budget where you should splurge.

And dinner is one of them.

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