Wednesday, August 10, 2016

gold medal weekend

I didn't have work on Friday, so my mom and I decided to pick my niece up early from daycare because who doesn't love getting a jump start on the weekend?  Unfortunately Annabelle was getting a cold so she was a little under the weather, but we didn't let that get in the way of a fun afternoon.

My brother and sister-in-law have two cats, and sometimes cats bother me and sometimes they don't, allergically speaking.  I was fine the whole day, but on the way home my face started to itch, and by the time my mom dropped me at my house my eyes were swelling shut.  Matt and I originally had big plans to go to Senor Salsa for dinner, but when I walked in, he said, "Wow, what happened to you?" I knew I wouldn't be showing my puffy, red face in public, even for a three cheese burrito.

We decided to order out, and when he asked what I wanted, I said, "I cannot make that decision right now.  I will eat anything."  And then I went upstairs to shower and put on my PJs, and when I came down Matt was walking in the door with a BOX of food.

I guess an order of two cheese steaks (Matt got double steak, double cheese), loaded fries, and mozzarella sticks is when you graduate from the take out bag to the take out box.


We settled in on the couch to watch the opening ceremonies of the games of the thirty first Olympiad but that's a story for another post because I have lots of thoughts on the Olympics.

But here's a teaser.  At one point in the ceremony, there was an interpretive number with dancers weaving fiber optic fabric, which represented something about the earth and creation (I didn't quite catch the meaning because someone was being critical), and it was then that I realized this is our first married Olympics.

And by August 21st we might be in marriage boot camp or we might have a second television.

Or possibly both.

My face was so itchy that I had to take some Benadryl, even though I knew it would make me sleepy.  Thank goodness we were following the Spanish alphabet because I had to go to bed after the Estados Unidos made their entrance.

On Saturday Emily and I went to a flea market to see what we could find.

Do you know what we found?

Old gloves.  By the hundreds.

And old ties.

And some new ones!

But the hardest section to pull Emily away from was the old wigs.

Just kidding, she was totally grossed out even touching this one and as you can tell, wouldn't even bend her arm.

I did find some cool globe bookends.

The flea market is kind of in the middle of nowhere, and as we drove by miles and miles of farmland to get back to the highway, I told Emily, who is in the school of agriculture at Penn State, that she was looking at her future.

For several miles she talked about how much she would like to live in the wilderness, but then she got a look of concern on her face and said, "Umm...maybe there's more civilization the other way."

Yes, and that would be called Philadelphia.

We eventually made our way home, and I haven't left the house since because, Olympics.

Just kidding.

Kind of.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

what i've been reading: july

Today I'm linking up  with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books.  Here's what I read in July.

I was all over the board this month.

First up.

River Road by Carol Goodman
I would give this 3.5 stars.  It was about a college professor who got some bad news at a work party, and then hit a deer on her way home on a snowy mountain road.  She woke up the next morning to a detective at her door informing her she was a suspect in a hit and run that killed one of her students.


The woman's own daughter had been killed in a hit and run on the same road years earlier, and the investigation uncovers some similarities between the two tragedies.  The professor works to clear her name and find the driver.  The story kept my attention, had some good twists and turns, and even had a little love story weaved in and you cannot beat that.


Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand
First of all, this book made me want to move to Nantucket.  It sounds so quaint and picturesque.  This was about three friends who go swimming in the middle of the night, and one of them goes missing.  The search to find her uncovers some a bunch of hidden secrets.  The ending was okay, but if I'm honest about this book, it was a little boring.  And by the end I couldn't keep straight who was having affairs with who.  It was a little much.


Columbine by Dave Cullen
I had heard so much about this book and decided  to give it a go, even though I knew it wouldn't necessarily be an entertaining read.  I was 11 when Columbine happened, so my memory of it is mostly the major headlines.  Many of which, as it turns out, weren't necessarily true.  This book details the media coverage of the tragedy and what they did right and what they did wrong.  It also covers the law enforcement response and investigation, and what was known about the shooters before April 20, 1999.  Parts were very difficult to read, but I couldn't put it down.


I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
I drive a lot for work, so I listened to this as an audio book curing my trips, which was much more entertaining than flipping through radio stations.  I especially liked how Nora talked about getting her start in the publishing industry, and how she worked her way to the top.  She's also funny, which is a plus.


Dave Barry's History of the Millenium by Dave Barry
I love Dave Barry.  I think he is the most hilarious writer.  I listened to this as an audio book too, and I was CRACKING UP as I drove down the highway.  I had this playing one afternoon when I picked up my sister, and even though she was tuning in halfway through the millennium, she was laughing too.  It's totally ridiculous but that's what makes Dave Barry so funny.


The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
And this time Elin made me want to move to Tuckernuck Island.  I loved this book.  Two very different sisters, their well-meaning mother, and their quirky aunt spend a summer at the family's old house on the island after a broken engagement.  Over the next few months there are some new romances and unexpected discoveries.  Best of all, there is a happy ending.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

bad things happen in threes. at a minimum.

Two weeks ago my parents set off on a much needed vacation.  I didn't mention it in real time because Emily was home alone, and I was in charge of homeland security (self-appointed) while they were away.

Unfortunately, they left the house and Murphy moved in because EVERYTHING THAT COULD GO WRONG, DID.

The afternoon they left Emily had an unfortunate, literal run-in with the corner of her bed.  She initially thought she might have some broken bones.  The injury was self-diagnosed of course, because she takes after me in that regard.  Birds of a feather.

Luckily the injury improved and the first crisis was over.  But speaking of birds, Emily called me at work on Monday and said, "Sky died."

Sky is (was) my mom's classroom parakeet, and he was spending the summer at my parents'.

"Umm...are you sure he's dead?" I asked.

I'm totally your girl in a crisis.

"Oh, he's dead," Em said.  "He's laying on his side on the bottom of his cage with his eyes open.  He's is definitely not alive."

She should switch her major to veterinary medicine.

"Well," I said, "You're going to have to get him out of there."

"I don't want to," she said.

Sky had been a little under the weather in the weeks leading up to my parents' vacation, so his untimely death wasn't a complete surprise, but I could tell Emily was less than thrilled that he waited until my parents were 600 miles away to fly to bluer skies.

On day three of my parents' vacation, the check engine light came on in my dad's car, which Emily was driving for the week.  Emily dropped it off at the mechanic and I picked her up there and we went for a walk and talked about every single thing that could be wrong with the car, because give us a tough situation and access to google and suddenly we are professional auto mechanics.

Emily summed it up perfectly when she said, "It could be anything.  The transmission might be shot, or the gas cap might not be on all the way."

The next morning, the diagnosis came.

The gas cap wasn't on all the way.

The rest of the week was fairly low key, but Emily slept over on Saturday night and we decided to celebrate Bakery Sunday, which is a tradition Matt has been unsuccessfully trying to get off the ground for two years now.

As we rounded up our shoes and keys Matt said, "I have a funny feeling we're only celebrating Bakery Sunday because Emily is here."


But sadly, we pulled up to the bakery and it was closed.

Shut down.


So we drove to another bakery and got twice as much as we should've but we felt it was well-deserved.

Speaking of baked goods, our garden is going gangbusters.  In particular we have a surplus of eggplant and zucchini.  I made zucchini bread last week and then used two zucchinis last night to make "ravioli."

We'd finished our zucchini bread and I decided I really enjoyed having that around, so tonight I made chocolate chip banana bread.

It's like Bakery Everyday around here.

Who needs vacation?!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

goodbye july

My best work friend, Jen, got a great new job and left our company last Friday.  We've worked together for five years.  We were both paralegals for a few years, then she was my boss for a few years, then she graduated law school and worked as an attorney for our organization and I took her place as a supervisor.  Even though our jobs have both changed over the years and we no longer spend 40 hours a week sharing a cubicle wall, we still talk all the time.

Until this week.

But, she called me tonight after her first week at the new gig and we talked for two and a half hours.

I am in the midst of a competitive Fitbit workweek challenge so I walked while we talked and tallied 13,000 steps.  There was one interruption from the local ice cream truck (which, true to form, was playing Ode to Joy) but other than that it was a productive conversation.

And after a week of temperatures in the 90s and 100s it was a brisk 86 degrees.  I'm so happy we are heading into August because it is my very favorite part of summer, and I thought I'd share a few photos from the last few weeks because after talking for two hours my brain is out of words.

Also, one of my very best friends is facing a very tough obstacle right now with her little boy.  If you have a prayer to spare for a miracle, I'd appreciate it and I know she would too.

Monday, July 25, 2016

next time we're paying the $99 for delivery and assembly

When Matt and I started house hunting last fall, we also starting couch hunting.  We bought a couch and love seat set when we got married, and while we saved for months to buy them and at the time thought they were just fantastic, we got what we paid for, which was a couch that went completely flat by the time we'd had it for two years.  I flipped and puffed and rotated those cushions with fanatical routine, but my resistance was futile.

The cushions are like quicksand.  Once you're in them, you cannot get out.

We found a couch we loved during a Black Friday sale, and we finally got it this past weekend, because true to form, while we decided on a house in about three days, it took us seven months to commit to the couch.  Matt and his brother picked it up on Friday evening, and because it's a sectional, it came in six different boxes.

We foolishly decided to start the assembly on Friday night around 6:30.

Without eating dinner.

And we could not figure out how to put it together.  We were also working in our dimly lit family room, which still contained our two old couches, two end tables, and coffee table, and was approximately 86 degrees because our circa 1983 wall air conditioning unit has seen better decades.

By 9:30 we'd had the couch in about six different unsuccessful configurations, so naturally Matt surmised that it was manufactured incorrectly.  There are clips on both sides of each piece, some facing up and some facing down, which are ideally supposed to click together.

Due to the assumed faulty manufacturing, Matt unscrewed the clips on four of the six pieces, flipped them upside down, and screwed them back on.

And then it REALLY wouldn't go together.  We decided we should put the clips back the way they came, but we couldn't remember which we'd switched and which we'd left and it was then that I started to cry and suggested we just order pizza and try again tomorrow.

And so that's exactly what we did.  And we ate it on our old flat couch because we didn't want to chance getting pizza on the new one.

Life is glamorous.

We tried the couch assembly again on Saturday, and things went much better after a full night of sleep.  It also helped that the corner piece, which had been sitting right on the ground and therefore three inches below the rest of the couch causing us great frustration, had a zipper pouch on the bottom with six little legs.


My sister was coming over on Saturday evening, and just as Matt and I high-fived our successful couch assembly, Emily texted me and said "Hey, can you send me your address so I can plug it into my GPS?"

We've lived in our house for seven months.  She's been here several times.  And it is a whopping one point nine miles and three turns from my parents' house where Emily has lived for her entire twenty years.

But I sent her our address and she made it here without getting lost on one of those three tricky turns.

I recently learned that Em had never seen Forrest Gump (or Father of the Bride, which is a movie marathon for another weekend), so that's what we watched on Saturday night.  As the credits rolled, I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said, "Well, that was Forrest Gump, a cinematic masterpiece.  What did you think?"

And she rolled her eyes and said, "Meh."



I still get nervous when Emily drives, so as she got in the car to leave, I walked out to the sidewalk and yelled through the open window, "Use your mirrors!!  Never trust someone else's turn signal! Hands at ten and two!!"

And she laughed and said, "Hands at seven and nine!"

Seven and nine?  I didn't see how that would ensure complete control of the vehicle but figured maybe it was some newfangled driver's ed trend.  But then Emily shouted, "Oops!! I meant nine and three!  Bye!" 

And she drove off into the sunset, with her hands who knows where on the steering wheel but most definitely not adjusting the radio dial because SAFETY FIRST.

Today was a hundred degrees (literally) and around dinnertime a whopper of a storm rolled in.

Emily texted me to see what she should do if the power went out and I offered some sage advice.

Matt turned into Jim Cantore over here had the radar going and was literally racing from window to window checking out the conditions in the front yard versus the back yard.

When it started to hail, Matt ran outside to grab a piece and had me take a picture to tweet to his favorite meteorologist, which she retweeted, HOLLA,

And then he saved the hail in the freezer.

"We have to save the first hail in the new house!" he said.

Such a sentimental guy.

Also, please don't judge the three containers of ice cream in the freezer.  Matt emailed Turkey Hill a few weeks ago to share how much he enjoys their ice cream and to keep up the good work, and they sent us a PACKAGE of coupons and vouchers and we've been using them with reckless abandon.

I'm falling back into my childhood routine of eating a bowl of ice cream every single night before bed.  Except as a child I would sit at the kitchen table and read/memorize my elementary school's handbook and family directory.

Now I can at least sit on a firm, perfectly assembled couch while I enjoy a bowl of chocolate peanut butter cup.

And watch Forrest Gump.

Life is glamorous.

Friday, July 22, 2016

it's basically a giant pot luck. you don't know what you're gonna get.

For many months, lo, even years, Matt took an egg salad sandwich to work for lunch.  On Sunday evenings I would hard boil a bunch of eggs and make a batch of egg salad with the perfect ratio of four spoonfuls of mayo, three squeezes of dijon mustard, and two twists of pepper.

And ten shakes of salt because we laugh in the face of sodium around here.

Then we got chickens in May, and Matt's campaign to eat a lot of eggs ceased.  He promptly started taking turkey sandwiches for lunch.

The only problem with this new meal plan is that it requires that I spend six to forty nine minutes of my life at the deli counter every Saturday.

There is a long history of hard feelings between me and the deli counter.

It all started when I was a little girl.  Our grocery store was around the corner from a big US navy base, and there were always men in uniform at the deli counter.  As I child I was capital T terrified of anyone in uniform, and I remember crying real tears when I would see servicemen ordering their lunch meat.

I've since grown to appreciate men in uniform, and have accepted the deli as a necessary evil in my life.

But I do think I've found the one thing Meatloaf wouldn't do for love.  And that is stand at the deli counter on a busy Saturday afternoon when you're number 68 and they're only on 46, and a handful of customers between 47 and 67 have the audacity to request samples of every single prepared salad in the deli case.

I always laugh at our deli counter because no matter how loudly you speak, the worker always, always, ALWAYS double checks the amount you ordered mid-slice, and they are always, always, ALWAYS wrong.

"I'll have three quarters of a pound of honey maple turkey, please."

"No problem.  Was that half a pound of the smoked ham?"

"No, three quarters, honey maple turkey.  And then I'll take a pound of Boar's Head swiss cheese."

"Absolutely.  You said a quarter pound of American?"

They ask so many clarifying questions that eventually I confuse myself.  Two weeks ago I ordered a pound of pepper turkey and instead came home with half a pound of honey ham.

Last week Emily had the great honor of accompanying me on my weekly shopping trip.  When we got to the deli, I told her to prepare herself, and then proclaimed in a dramatic fashion that the deli is where my soul goes to die, which she thought was hilarious.

I don't think she fully believed the stories I told, so I bet her that the deli worker would clarify my order, and that they'd be wrong.

"Hi, I'll have a pound of the teriyaki chicken, please."

Three minutes later.

"M'am, was that half a pound for the roast beef?"

I will say that I've found solidarity among my fellow deli customers, and we have had many conversations about just making peanut butter and jelly for lunch that week.

As soon as our chickens start laying eggs, it's back to egg salad for lunch.

And in the meantime, I'm just going to hope Meatloaf shows up at our deli counter one of these Saturdays.

Monday, July 18, 2016

basically i've been struggling with dinner lately

Well I'm back with a report on my exciting weekend.

It all started on Friday evening.  I picked Emily up at 5:00 and we headed over to the mall to walk laps.  What can I say, I was in the throes of a very intense FitBit workweek challenge and I was determined to get a few thousand more steps on the board.

After our walk I dropped Emily off at home and stopped by a local fried chicken establishment aptly named Chicken Time.  I've instituted a new rule in our house called "I Don't Cook Dinner If It's More Than 80 Degrees Inside," because evidently mid-July is about the time when goofballs who bought their house in December regret not picking one with central air.

Earlier last week we'd received a coupon for a free 8 piece fried chicken meal from Chicken Time, the timing of which coincided perfectly with my new no-cooking rule.  I placed my order and was told to take a seat, it would take about 14 minutes to be ready.  As I sat down in a booth, I was first fascinated by the gentleman dining at the table next to me who brought his own dinner plate from home.  It appeared the "restaurant" only served paper plates and who wants to eat their fried chicken on a paper plate when you can bring some perfectly good Corelle dishware from home?

In addition to the B.Y.O.P. (bring your own plate) trend, I unfortunately observed a whole host of unappetizing sights in those 14 minutes.  While I waited I texted Matt to tell him that the cleanliness of the restaurant was questionable at best, to which he replied with the most recent report from the county health inspector.

Let's just say in March, 2016 there was some evidence of members of the phylum rodentia in the dry food storage area.

And good old Chicken Time is a repeat offender in that department.

Needless to say, I didn't eat much dinner.

Saturday was my niece Annabelle's first birthday party.  We partied so hard that I came home and took a three hour nap. 

Matt cooks on Saturday nights, so when I awoke from my slumber I asked him what his dinner plan was.  

"Well," he said, "I have a new, innovative dinner idea for tonight.  I hope you're as excited about it as I am.  The idea is called, Create Your Own."

"Create your own what?" I asked.

"Dinner," he said.

I told Matt I appreciated the ingenuity but I create my own dinner six nights a week.  On Saturdays I'd like someone else to create my dinner for me.  

When I was growing up, and let's be honest, even when I still lived at home at age 22, I would ask my mom EVERY NIGHT after dinner, "So what are we having for dinner tomorrow?"  And for some reason she always answered calmly and just didn't escort me out to the curb and change the locks behind me, which is what I might've done after I answered that question LITERALLY six thousand times.

But Matt came through on Saturday night with some delicious bacon cheddar burgers on the grill.

On Sunday I walked by the thermostat as dinnertime approached, and HOLLA 86 degrees. 

 I made the formal announcement that due to the temperature the kitchen was closed, and fixed myself a plate of leftover sandwiches and pasta salad from the birthday party.

Matt joined me at the dinner table with his glass of milk and a plate containing simply two giant kaiser rolls and butter.

He didn't make one comment about the absence of an official dinner, but I realized I'd just unintentionally thrown "create your own dinner" right back at him.

So since we have a lot of hot days ahead and man cannot live on rolls and butter alone, I spent Sunday night preparing a lengthy grocery list and well thought out two week meal plan.

Rest assure there is no fried chicken involved.


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