Monday, December 22, 2014

let's hope we don't need to buy a car for quite a while

On Saturday afternoon I went out with my mom and Mommom to help my uncle decorate his house for Christmas and then run some errands.  I got home around 4:30 and promptly sat down on the couch and fell asleep.  Evidently decorating and walking around the grocery store can really wear a girl out.

At some point mid-nap I heard Matt's voice say, "Do you feel like going to look at bedroom furniture?"  I thought maybe I was in the midst of a wonderful dream, but I opened my eyes and sure enough there was Matt's face, a few inches from mine and staring right back at me.

Well.  I shot up off that couch and ran to the closet to get my purse and in all of my excitement I blinked a contact lens right out.  As I searched the floor for the missing contact and the medicine cabinet for some eye drops, Matt said, "Don't rush, I'll be a few minutes.  I have to go put on my ......." and here is where I naturally assumed he was going to say "shoes" or "jacket."

No.  Do you know what he had to put on?

His negotiating pants.

I don't even know what that means.

Actually, I found out what it means when he walked into the bedroom and pulled the jeans that he'd worn to go duck hunting that morning out of the hamper and said, "Be honest, how bad do they smell?"

Since Matt owns only ONE PAIR OF JEANS (I KNOW-we are going to remedy that in the new year) I told him they smelled positively fresh as a daisy because I was not about to let some poorly planned wardrobe situation ruin my chance to get a new bedroom set.

On the drive to the furniture store, Matt, aka the self proclaimed King of Deals, outlined his strategy.  When he was all finished he said, "You just have to promise me one thing.  That you won't get mad if we walk out because they don't throw in a free box spring.  It's all part of my strategy."

And this is the part where I thought it might just be easier to continue sleeping in our low bed.

When we got to the store, an older salesman named Joe greeted us and gave us some information and told us to enjoy our shopping.  We looked and looked and looked and finally decided on the set we liked, and Joe came over to check on us.  He and Matt discussed bundle pricing and discounts and Matt must have said "Joe" no less than fifty thousand times.

"Joe, could you tell me how much it would be to add the dresser instead of the chest of drawers Joe?"

"Joe, that's great, thanks Joe.  Now, Joe, can we talk box springs Joe?"

As Joe walked away to get a price on box springs I whispered, "Can-you-please-stop-saying-Joe-so-much?"

"Just try to go with it," Matt said,  "It's a negotiating technique."

Joe came back and gave us the news that a mid-grade queen size box spring would cost $139, but if we did buy it, he would give us 10% off the rest of the furniture.  I'm no math whiz but I know 10% off is better than no percent off so just SHOW  ME MATT WHERE TO SIGN.


However, the King of Deals cramped my style when he said, "WOWEE, ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE DOLLARS, JOE?  Joe, I'm going to be honest with you, I have never paid that much for a box spring Joe."


Although between my "I just woke up half an hour ago" look and the sad state of Matt's negotiating pants, we probably did look like $139 could make or break us.

Joe laughed nervously and said, "Well, that's actually a pretty good deal for a decent quality box spring.  Can I ask you when was the last time you bought one?"

NEVER, JOE.  We currently sleep on very low bed that requires only a mattress and no box spring.  Which is the very reason we are here this evening.

Because Matt is no easy sell, he told Joe we needed a minute to think things over and we walked back to the easy chair section so Matt could Google the going prices of box springs and I could rock and recline furiously and tell Matt about my plans to stage a coup if he denied that offer.  I've been sleeping a mere eight inches off the floor for the better part of a year now.  I'd pay TOP DOLLAR for a box spring.

You will never guess how the story ends.

We bought the whole kit and caboodle and it is scheduled to be delivered between 8 am and noon tomorrow so Merry Christmas to me.

And next weekend?  We are going jeans shopping.  And there will be no haggling.

Even if I have to hide the negotiating pants.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the only downside is that i can never again leave the house in pajamas because i might run into someone i know

I feel it's only fair to update on my rowdy hotel compadres from last week.  Apparently they were members of some sort of football team, and at 11:30 their coaches went door to door, confirmed that everyone was accounted for, took all electronics, and announced lights out.  By 11:37 you could hear a pin drop.  I slept the sleep of angels and woke up more well rested than I've been in weeks.

Which was good because Matt and I moved the next day.

On Friday, we lived here.

And now, we live here.

Matt and I spent the past year living about thirty minutes away from the town where we grew up, which to most people probably isn't a big deal but to us, it was.  We moved there last January because it was closer to our offices at the time, but now we both have new jobs.  I work from home a lot and Matt takes the train into the city, so basically our only location requirement was that we live near a train station.  Our lease was up so we decided to move back because, in the wise words of Bon Jovi, who says you can't go home?

(Except for my dad.  My dad says we can't go home.  Which is why we're living in an apartment exactly 1.4 miles from my parents' house and not in their guest bedroom.) 

So far, it's been a good decision.  My brother and his wife live in the same apartment complex, and they helped us move on Saturday.  My parents came to help too, and they brought hoagies for lunch and the leftovers fed us straight through until yesterday.  Matt's dad came by on Saturday afternoon, a friend stopped over tonight, I saw three people I knew while food shopping on Sunday and I ran into Matt's best friend at WalMart on Sunday night.  Last night we ate dinner at Matt's parents' house and my friend Stacy and I have big plans to resume regular "exercise" in the form of mall walking.

All that to say, I AM SO HAPPY TO BE BACK.

Matt and I unpacked until we literally fell into bed on Saturday night.  I was determined to get every single box unpacked that night but we were totally exhausted and I honestly cannot even remember anything after about 7:00 p.m.

We had a baptism on Sunday, but when we got back from church Matt said, "Okay,  I'm going to go into the bedroom for one hour.  And when I come out, everything in there will be unpacked."  And sure enough, one hour and a lot of Italian opera music later (I don't even know), the bedroom was done.  I finished up the kitchen and living room, and then we trimmed the Christmas tree and kicked back on the couch and admired our handiwork and listened to Christmas music and watched the yule log on TV.  It was very cozy and lovely.

However, the mood turned serious when we decided to go to bed and Matt looked at me and said, "Okay, now I think we should just have a quick meeting about what we are going to do in the event of an emergency.  If there's a fire, we will obviously try to make it down the stairs.  If the stairs are blocked, we will go out on the balcony and climb down.  It won't be easy but we can do it.  I'll be there to help you."


Nothing like ending the weekend on a high note.

Speaking of high notes, last night we went shopping for a new bedroom set.  We currently sleep in the bed Matt bought when he moved into a house in the city with some buddies a few years ago.  His bedroom was in the attic and the slanted ceilings were too low for him to get a normal bed, so instead he got a bed that's just about eight inches off the ground.  So when I said a few paragraphs above that we fell into bed, I meant that literally.

In fact, one of the guys Matt lived with in that house came over tonight for the grand tour of our new place and he said to Matt, "Dude.  I totally forgot how low that bed actually was."

We hoped to get the bedroom set before we moved but then somebody had to get custom made orthotics that weren't covered by insurance.  And do you know what custom made orthotics are?  I mean, besides trendy and youthful and sophisticated?

Expensive.  So the bed purchase was postponed a few weeks but THE TIME HAS COME.

As we looked around the furniture store last night I said, "I wonder if they will offer us a deal."

Matt whispered, "Well, you might not know this but I am the KING of deals."

You learn something new every day.

In the end we didn't get anything because, in an unprecedented turn of events, we could not get anyone to help us.  Usually furniture store salespeople are all over you like white on rice, but that was not the case last night.  They were sitting behind the desk in the back playing games on their cell phones and watching TV and completely ignoring us.  Matt was especially disappointed because he was wearing his dressy work duds, which he thought would indicate to the salespeople that he was just made of money and they'd be clamoring to assist us.

So we took one last loop around the store as Matt proclaimed, "I came in here tonight to buy a bedroom set.  I was going to spend some real money in here tonight if only someone would help me," but his efforts were in vain.

We aren't giving up though.  We plan to hit the ground running (or more realistically, walking) again tomorrow.  And we're in this for the long haul.

I do have new orthotics after all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

i probably won't be sleeping in heavenly peace

Well, well, well.  I'm coming to you live from the friendliest and most confusing hotel on earth AGAIN.  I have had a work training all week long and I am READY TO GO HOME and also READY FOR A HOME COOKED MEAL.

I can expense my meals, but I work for a non-profit so I try not to spend too much and also, none of my friends are at this particular training and it's no fun eating dinner in a restaurant all alone.

So basically I've been living on a steady diet of Subway turkey sandwiches and Moe's taco salads all week.  Matt had a fancy work dinner himself last night and he called me on his way home to tell me that the bill was $1800.

For eight people.

So it's a good thing I don't struggle with jealousy or anything.

Tonight I ventured out to wander around the Target across the street from the hotel and grab a taco salad.  It was snowing when I left Moe's and I strongly considered just leaving my car in the parking lot and walking the quarter mile back to the hotel.  After much deliberation I gathered up my courage and drove Old Blue back to the hotel like a normal, levelheaded twenty six year old woman.  The lot was packed so I had to park around the side of the hotel, and once I did so, I sat in my car for a while just listening to Christmas carols and staring at the snow and thinking about the long trek to the front door and the possibility that I could slip and fall.

I know.  I have some serious issues with snow.

And overreacting.

As I sat there, a man in a jeep parked next to me and got out.  I figured it was the perfect time for me to get out too because in case I fell there would be someone to help me (what is wrong with me?).

I locked up my car and the man in the jeep said, "Perfect timing, do you want me to let you in the warm door?"

I hesitated because I've seen Criminal Minds, but he told me he was the hotel manager and would let me in the side employee entrance so I didn't have to trek through the slippery snow to the main door.

As we walked in he said, "So, are you here for that big college party?"

"No," I said, "I'm actually here for work."

"Wait a second? You work here?"

No, sir, if I worked here I would certainly know about this convenient employee entrance and I'd also know you, my boss.

He let me in the door and said, "Alright, do you know where you're going?" and while I really wanted to say, "No, but that's no different than any other time I enter this hotel," I just said, "Yes, thank you!"  and made a joke about hoping I wasn't on the college party wing and we laughed.


Because after I made my way across/over/up to my room and settled under the covers with my new book and Christmas carols on Pandora, the college students descended. All guys.  All around me.  They THUNDERED down the hall and I heard slamming doors and discussion about which bags go in which room and and at one point I even heard a key slide into my door and then a voice said, "OH MAN, THIS IS 325.  WHO'S IN 325?  ARE WE IN 325?"

No, R.J., I'm in 325.  TRYING TO RELAX.

After about two minutes of silence they all reconvened in the hallway and I literally laughed out loud at their conversation.  I cannot remember the last time I heard such excitement.







And on.  And on.

And on.

And let me clarify that this is a very old Holiday Inn in central Pennsylvania we're talking about.

This is not the Ritz Carlton.

(I feel qualified to compare the two because I have very fancy friends who booked the Ritz Carlton for my bachelorette party.  Except the whole thing was a surprise and Michelle picked me up and ordered me to wear a blindfold all the way to the lobby of the Ritz.  She reports that we were on the receiving end of many confused looks on the drive.  Especially when I would wave to the cars next to us.)

Anyway, the college boys returned to their rooms where they discovered that the curtains at the end of the room were not covering a window, but a door.

To the balcony.

The hotel is shaped like a "U" and evidently other members of their crew are on the opposite side of the U and they can conveniently scream to each other across the courtyard.

Which they did.

For ten minutes.

Basically it was a lot of "WHAT UP MAN?"


Then they screamed across the courtyard their plans to power nap until 10:30 and then meet up and hit the town.

Something tells me I should go to bed now because I have a funny feeling I'll be awake at 3:00 a.m.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

i won't be driving anywhere until april

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said you should do one thing every day that scares you.  Well, mission accomplished for today, Mrs. Roosevelt.  I drove during a WINTER WEATHER EVENT.

Over the weekend the weathermen started excitedly forecasting a Thanksgiving Eve snowstorm.  If there are two things weather people love, it's some drama and the opportunity to come up with a catchy name for a storm.  I think the combination of the term "Snowvember" and the fact that there were no hurricanes or major floods to keep them busy this summer made them desperate for this storm to turn into something major.

As a result, lots of people shrugged off the forecast as much ado about nothing. However, I was not one of those people.  I HATE driving in the snow.  I try to remain calm and in control but I cannot help it- I panic if I know I have to drive anywhere when the road conditions may be less than ideal.

And so, I did what any normal person does when the forecast calls for snow.  I CALLED MY BOSS AND TOLD HER I WOULD NEED THE DAY OFF.

In all fairness, I was already flirting with the idea of taking the day off because I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 10:00, and I was tempted by the prospect of a five day weekend.  But it was the forecast that sealed the deal.

The changeover from rain to snow hadn't happened when I left for the doctor at 9:30 this morning, but I threw a granola bar in my purse before I left JUST IN CASE I got stranded on the roads.  At the last minute I decided to also bring a few mozzarella cheese sticks with me because you can never be too prepared, and I shoved two in the front pocket of my sweatshirt on my way out the door.

Please keep in mind that the forecast called for ONE TO THREE INCHES.


I had an appointment with the podiatrist because I have aged fifty years since I turned 26, and at the end of the appointment the doctor told grandma here that I could put my shoes back on while he finished fixing up my orthotic.

Please imagine my embarrassment as I bent down to put my sneakers on and those two cheese sticks SLID OUT OF MY POCKET AND ONTO THE FLOOR.

The doctor looked at my cheese and me quizzically, and for a split second I thought about explaining that I brought them along in case I got stranded in my car due to the weather conditions.  I decided that scenario was just as odd, if not moreso, than just being that girl who carries cheese in her pocket, so I just said, "Oh, cheese!" and picked them up as fast as I could.

(Just kidding about the "oh, cheese" part.  I didn't actually say that because I didn't think of it until this very minute but how hilarious would that have been?)

The first flakes were falling as I drove home, and I white knuckled it the entire way.  Once I merged onto the highway I positioned myself behind a fruit truck that was driving slowly and sensibly because it seemed like the right thing to do.  I stopped just short of turning on my flashers to broadcast my intense fear to my fellow motorists.

The drive was uneventful but when I pulled into our parking lot I was so relieved I wanted to cry.

And now, allow me to provide a visual aid of the road conditions at the time of my travel.

I know.

It's a wonder I made it home on those not-at-all-snow-covered roads.

I still don't regret taking the cheese.

Better safe (and mortified) than sorry.

Or hungry.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

this is why i am a homebody

Last week I had to go on a work trip, and I stayed in the not-at-all-difficult-to-navigate hotel with the fourth and fifth floor on the same level, and the third floor located on the ground level.

I have stayed there at least ten times and I still get lost trying to find my way around.  

When I checked in Wednesday evening for my twelve hour stay, I was given a glass of complimentary apple cider, information about the continental breakfast, and a key for room 441.  I immediately began to regret my excessive packing as I lugged my rolling suitcase, laptop bag, two jackets, purse, lunchbox, and complimentary apple cider down the hall to the elevator, where I made the pleasant discovery that I was staying in the friendliest hotel in THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

I could hardly believe my good luck.

My belongings and I traveled from the groundthird floor up to the fourthfifth floor, and down several long hallways until at last I arrived at room 441.

I slid my key into the door, and the red light blinked.

Slid it in again.  Red light.

I flipped it over and tried once more.  And once more I saw the red light.

So I gathered my composure and all of my belongings and trudged back to the desk.  A different employee was there and she said, in a VERY FRIENDLY manner, "Hello, miss!!!! Is there something I can help you with?!!!"

"There is," I said, "I just checked into room 441 a minute ago and my room key isn't working."

She typed furiously on her keyboard for a few seconds and then said, with the biggest smile in the entire country, "I'm so sorry, but no one has checked in yet for room 441."

"Well," I said, "I am all checked in.  And my paperwork here says room 441."

After she looked into the matter a bit further and consulted with her manager, she discovered that I was supposed to be in room 449.  As she fixed me up a new key, she looked at me and said, "Don't worry Ms. C.!  You aren't the crazy person!  I AM!" with the COUNTRY'S FRIENDLIEST smile on her face.

I didn't think I was crazy at all, but the statement was oddly reassuring.

I am happy to report that the key to 449 worked beautifully and aside from a moment of my own confusion in the elevator, the rest of my stay at THE FRIENDLIEST HOTEL IN THE COUNTRY was incident free.

Since the location of my meeting was halfway to Penn State, I decided to drive the rest of the way there after my Thursday meeting and visit Emily.

I also decided to book a hotel for the two of us since my days of sleeping in a college dorm are way behind me, and what college girl doesn't love a chance to get out of her dorm for a night?

Emily and I checked into the hotel on Thursday evening and the lady behind the desk gave us the key to room 233.

As we made our way to the room I told Em all about my experience from the night before and we laughed and laughed because ISN'T THAT CRAZY?  HOPE WE DON'T HAVE SUCH BAD LUCK THIS TIME AROUND.

And then I slid the key into the door in room 233 and it opened right up.

I turned on the light and waltzed in a few steps, only to discover THERE WAS ALREADY SOMEBODY IN THERE.

I saw a pizza and sodas on the desk, and I do believe I saw legs under the covers but I cannot be sure because I backed right out of that room faster than I've moved in years.

I whisper-yelled GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! as I literally RAN.  EMILY. OVER.

We hightailed it back down to the desk as Emily kept saying how that seemed like the opening scene of a Law and Order SVU episode and sufficiently FREAKING ME OUT.

When we got to the front desk the lady asked what was wrong, and I said, "It appears that there is someone in the room already."

"Well, there shouldn't be," she said.


She reassigned us to another room, which was, quite fortunately, unoccupied.

And then we took this adorable picture because we were so happy to be reunited and headed out for dinner (Emily), and...alive (me).

We had a very pleasant stay, but I think my next visit will just be a day trip.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

we can never get rid of our cars because then i would have no blog material

Matt and I headed to the gym one night last week, and we took my car because I needed gas.  Since I can't stand to be in the passenger seat of my car with someone else driving (I am a little weird about my car), I was behind the wheel.

We live in a VERY DARK area with turns and curves and hills galore, and other drivers are constantly driving with their high beams on and then not turning them off when oncoming traffic approaches within 500 feet, as per the customary rules of the road.  And the result is BLINDING. 

After about the sixth car did that the other night, Matt said, "This is crazy.  You should flash your high beams at them."

(I have since Googled the practice of flashing your high beams and it appears that such behavior can be viewed as aggressive, or even illegal in some areas.  Let's hope I can't be retroactively ticketed because I am about to incriminate myself in the next paragraph.)

And so I flashed my brights.  

And Matt said, "Why did you flash your fog lights?"

Well, color me surprised.  I told Matt I thought those were my brights, and that I was sorry but unfortunately I did not have any other light selections.  And that's when he told me to push the lever that also controls my windshield wipers and turn signals AND LO AND BEHOLD, THERE WAS LIGHT.


I had no idea those lights existed but now that I know they're there, I cannot stop using them.  

I can't even blame those other drivers for not turning them off.  The visibility is just amazing.

The whole situation reminds me of when I was a little girl and my mom took me to the movies a few days after I got my first pair of glasses.  As soon as the movie started, I slid my new specs down my nose, bifocal style, and throughout the movie I went back and forth between watching with my new glasses and without them.  My mom noticed my strange behavior and leaned over and asked me if everything was okay with my glasses, but it turns out I was just fascinated comparing how poor my vision used to be with how fantastic my glasses made it.

In both situations, I'd literally seen the light.

Speaking of my car, it has been violently shaking for many months now.  Anyone who has ridden in the car with me knows that during periods of acceleration and idling at red lights, there is so much vibration that you have to raise your voice to have a conversation.  
 Naturally my solution has just been to wildly smack at various plastic fixtures in an attempt to quell the noise.

And it's worked for me.  Until that same car trip the other night when Matt said, "How long has your car been shaking like this?"

Oh, ten, twelve months or so.

It turns out I needed a new motor mount, which Matt ordered online last week and planned to install on Saturday.  I didn't want him to think I was lacking confidence in his automobile repair skillz, but since my engine stillsmells of burning oil from his last "maintenance day," I said, "So, you know what you're doing here with this motor mount, right?" 

"Oh yeah," he said, "It should be fine."

Should be fine?

I'm going to need a little more certainty.

"Well, tell me the worst that could happen."  

(Why do I do this to myself?)

"You really want to know the worst that could happen? Well, I guess it would be that I drop the engine, but I promise that won't happen."

And then out the door he went with his toolbox and a whole lot of confidence and I stayed in the house and my nervous energy and I scrubbed the sink until it glistened and EVEN WIPED DOWN THE BASEBOARDS.

Matt came inside a few hours later brimming with the pride of success.  

I will say, my car has never felt so smooth and still.  Occasionally, at red lights, I fear that it has shut off completely because evidently I've become accustomed to the shaking.

And then, because we cannot catch a break, the fan in Matt's car began to blow with great enthusiasm and the check engine light lit up on Sunday.  He drove it over to the dealer, and when he called to give me the update, he told me the water pump was leaking and he had to get a rental.

Since the last time he needed a rental he got a FAN-CAY Camaro, I figured he would have been given a vehicle of similar caliber.   "Oooohhh, what kind of car did you get?" I said.

"Wait until you see.  You will not believe it."

And twenty minutes later, 6'1'', sports car loving Matt pulled into our parking lot in an itsy bitsy, teeny tiny, bright red, Ford Fiesta.

I half expected to see his feet running furiously beneath it, Flinstone style.

He said he was going to call it the Fiesty instead of the Fiesta, but when we took it to the grocery store and I thought I was going to have to get out and push it up the hill, I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps the name was too grand.

Matt's car was all fixed up with a brand new water pump today, so I followed him to the rental place to drop off the Fiesty, and when we got there I said, "Why did you slow way down when we turned onto Route 30? Were you looking at your GPS or something?"

"No!" he said, "I was pedal to the metal! That's all the juice it had!"

So they Fiesty may not have much power.

But I bet she has powerful high beams.

And to me, that's what really matters.

Friday, November 7, 2014

several unrelated thoughts

Every time Matt and I drive by Cracker Barrel we say, "We should go there for dinner one of these nights."

And then we never go because I am turning into quite the chef and also, one can only eat so much fried food.  Well, on Sunday night we were feeling wild and crazy and decided to head over for dinner.

At 4:30 p.m.

So maybe it wasn't wild or crazy at all, but I blame it on a combo of the time change and a small lunch, and certainly not our ever increasing senior citizen tendencies.

Shortly after we sat down, the most adorable family was seated at the table behind us.  It was a young couple, and the man was wearing an army uniform and they had a little girl about two or three who was insistent that she did not need a lid on her cup and was fascinated with unwrapping butter packets.  As they looked through their menus and did their best to keep the butter unwrapping to a minimum, the manager and another man came over to their table.  The man told them that he came from a military family, and to show his appreciation for their service he wanted to pay for their dinner.

And the men shook hands and the baby smiled and the wife burst into tears.

Which made me fill up with tears because I am becoming a softie in my old age.

Even our waitress was so distracted that she brought us two bowls of cornbread.

A few years ago I babysat for a family with three little boys.  The youngest was two at the time, and when I would pull up in front of their house he would be sitting at the front door waiting for me, and he would greet me with the most enthusiastic welcome and I always thought about how I'd love to get that kind of hello every day.

One time I babysat around Valentine's Day and upon my arrival he presented me with a little plastic baggie filled with pink and red sprinkles that he'd saved for me from the donut he'd had for breakfast.

That wouldn't be bad every day either.

On Saturday afternoon I closed my eyes during halftime of the Penn State-Maryland football game, which, in my defense, was a SNOOZE FEST, and woke up three hours later.  And when I opened my eyes Matt said, "Are you awake? Oh, finally!! I have missed talking to you so much!!"

So I guess my wish came true, just without the sprinkles.

By 8:00 on Sunday night, all of our sheets and towels were clean and I even washed the bathroom rugs because I was on a laundry roll.  The ironing basket was completely empty and every single item of clothing we own was washed.

And so I slept in my jeans so that I didn't have to throw anything in the hamper.

Just kidding.

But I thought about it.

My cousin got married on Friday night and I love a good wedding photo shoot.  I had a new dress and Matt and my dad clearly called each other to discuss wardrobe.

Also, my dad wore his halo to the wedding.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

in the end, the cinnamon scent is worth it

When Matt and I voted tonight, there were several local candidates at the polls.  While I signed in, Matt chatted with one of the candidates, and he looked awfully familiar to me.

That's because he was.  I'd met him a few weeks ago.

While Matt was hunting last Saturday morning, I enjoyed a leisurely morning with several cups of coffee and all manner of morning television.  Around 10:30, the doorbell rang.  I had ordered a dress online and it was scheduled to arrive that morning, and since I work from home and have a husband who is addicted to, I know our mailman always rings the bell when he leaves a package at our door.  So I opened the door in my fresh out of bed, pajama clad state, and to my surprise, there was a man in a suit standing there.

Note to self, next time, use the peephole.

The man was holding a stack of political pamphlets, and he asked me if he was at the home of a registered voter named Matt.

I didn’t want to tell him that Matt was out and I was home alone because STRANGER DANGER, but he asked if he could ask me a few questions and since I love nothing more than a good poll, I was all in.

First, he asked if I knew who Matt would be voting for next week.  I wanted to say, “Well sir, he is currently hunting and when he gets home he will turn on the Nascar race, so that should give you a pretty good idea about which way he leans politically.”

But instead I just answered all of his questions and then went on with my Saturday, which included shopping with my mom and a trip to the spa and dinner with Matt’s mom, and I arrived back home that evening feeling ALL KINDS OF RELAXED.

I walked in the house and the smell of cinnamon overwhelmed me. 

Since the beginning of the fall, I have looked at and smelled and considered the purchase of a bag of cinnamon scented pine cones at the grocery store. However, the grocery stores keep the pine cone display outside due to the overpowering cinnamon scent, so by the time I am ready to check out I totally forget about them and thus, I have spent this whole fall pine cone-less. 

It’s been tough, but I’ve powered through.

So, back to last Saturday.  After I recovered from the smell, I looked around the condo to see pine cones, everywhere. 

They were here.

And here. 

And even…here, strategically spread out for maximum scent dissipation.

Now, Matt enjoys home decorating as much as the next guy, which is to say, hardly at all.  And by the look on his face, I could tell there was an ulterior motive for the pine cone displays.

“I bought you these pine cones today,” he said.  “And…I bought some other things…and you might not be thrilled about them.”

I braced myself and asked what the purchases were.

“Well, I bought a bag of Kit Kats.  And..a two year NRA.”

I only wished I had that information earlier in the day to share with our local representative along with the hunting/Nascar info.

But as it turns out, he and Matt talked for quite a while tonight and he actually lives on our street. Maybe one of these days he will stop by again and they can continue their conversation.

And I can explain why we have pine cones all over our house and everything smells like cinnamon.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

to be fair, i've made an appointment for just about everything else

Something came over me the other night, and I slid the coffee table out of the living room, pulled on my yoga pants (which had previously only been used for lounging and the occasional trip to Target), and fired up a yoga video.

Specifically, I followed the instruction of Jillian Michaels, my nemesis ever since I unsuccessfully attempted to complete the 30 Day Shred several years ago.  And the other night, after about seven minutes of stretching and “melting my chest to the sky” and struggling through the cobra position, Jillian said, “Okay, now that we’re all warmed up, let’s start the workout?”

START the workout?



I made it through (most of) the workout, and then I collapsed into my bed and did not move for ten hours.  When I woke up the next morning, I walked about three steps to the shower before I realized that every muscle in my body was screaming in pain.  I couldn't lift my hand up to turn on the light switch, and instead just kind of leaned against the wall and then stood on my tiptoes so that my shoulder slid the switch up.

Basically, I invented a new yoga move.

Unfortunately, that same maneuver does not work for turning the switch off. 

Which is why the light stayed on for three days.

Due to the aforementioned severe pain, I could barely shampoo my hair in the shower, and I didn't even bother attempting to blow dry it when I got out. 

I’d given up.

My doctor told me that yoga would help me with my balance, but if I was going to put myself through such an ordeal on a regular basis I was hopeful for some more health benefits, so I decided to do some yoga research.

My searching took me to WebMD, a site where I spend a lot of time because I have been known to overreact in the face of a mysterious symptom, or really, any sort of minor discomfort.  In fact, when Michelle and I lived together we were constantly diagnosing ourselves with all sorts of outlandish conditions thanks to our active imaginations and WebMD’s handy symptom checker, and then we’d text her sister, a nurse practitioner to tell her the scoop and see if we should make a doctor’s appointment POST HASTE. 

And ten times out of ten she’d say, “You sound fine.  It’ll go away.”

A few months ago I was telling Matt about a strange problem I’d noticed (my hand was tingly/my leg felt tired/my head felt weird/I found a scratch of unknown origin/my hair wasn’t growing as fast as usual/pick your poison).

As I was telling Matt about the symptom du jour I kept saying, “What do you think it is?  What do you think? I really want to know what you think.”

And he looked at me and said, “I think you’re going to be at the doctor for this by the end of the week, that’s what I think.”

Hey, my peace of mind is well worth a copay.

Anywho, I read all sorts of articles about yoga, and one article led me to the pilates page.  From there I clicked over to read about the benefits of cardio and then made a total 180 and ended up learning about the pros and cons of Crossfit.  Just reading the article stressed me out and as I was about to search for "ways to relax"  this popped up.

Okay, WebMD, I get it.  I will stick to one type of exercise.

And perhaps switch my loyalty to

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

it's only a matter of time until i get my own show on the food network

Well, I'm coming to you live with the news that tonight I made the best dinner of my life.  Stuffed peppers, which sounded easy enough when I was planning meals on Sunday, but when I took a good look at the recipe today and saw that it was twenty seven steps long and rated FOR THE INTERMEDIATE CHEF, I got nervous.

 (Despite the clock on the oven, it was not 11:25 when I was cooking this.  We are not nocturnal.  It's just that the power goes out here so often that we've given up resetting the clocks.)

I pressed on and when Matt walked in the door after work the house smelled fantastic.  I was on the edge of my seat as he took his first bite.  "This is delicious," he said.  "In fact, it tastes just like my grandmother's."

Well, HOT DOG.  This culinary success could not have come at a better time because I am currently angling for an early retirement so that I can become a stay at home wife.  So far Matt isn't on board with that plan because we want to buy a house someday and will therefore need a pesky down payment, but imagine GOURMET DINNERS EVERYDAY.

Also, I needed to redeem myself from a very unfortunate kitchen incident that occurred a few weeks ago, that I will now explain in great detail.

We had a family event to go to at Matt's parents' house, and we were in charge of dessert.  I decided to make a pound cake, because they are delicious but simple to make.

Or so I thought.

The party was at noon so I woke up early to start baking.  I was just about to pour the batter into the pan, but before I did, I added some chocolate chips to jazz things up.

And by some, I mean an entire bag.

Listen, I blame the spontaneous artistic license on my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I put that thing out on the counter and suddenly I fancy myself a gourmet pastry chef who can alter recipes on a whim.

I dumped the chocolate chips in, gave everything a good stir, plopped it in the oven, and asked Matt to take it out when the timer beeped as I headed for the shower.

This is where things went south.

When I got out of the shower, Matt reported that the center of the cake had not cooked one bit, so he put it in for another five minutes.  Well, I checked that cake every five minutes for the next half hour, until the outer edges were completely burnt and the middle was still completely liquid.

I threw the pan onto the stove top, slammed the oven shut, and went into the living room to ask Matt if he could go to the grocery store and buy some premade cookie dough so we didn't show up to the party empty handed.

There may or may not have been tears accompanying the request.  I've never seen him leave the house faster.

He returned a short time later with four packages of cookie dough and got to work slicing and baking. I finished drying my hair (a girl's gotta primp) and walked out of the bedroom to see the kitchen counters covered in cooling cookies, and Matt on the patio, grilling my pound cake.

He still had hope that he could save it.

When he accepted that it really was a goner, he brought it inside to throw away.  As he dumped it out of the pan, he said, "Lady...did the recipe call for these chocolate chips?"

"No," I said, "I added them myself to make it a little jazzier."

"Okay," he said as slowly turned the pan over.  "How many did you add?"

"The whole bag!"

"You can't just add a whole pound of chocolate chips to a cake with such a light batter.  The chips probably all sunk to the bottom which means that this thing would never fully cook."

Sure enough, upon further inspection of the ill-fated pound cake, that's exactly what had happened.

Also, wow, that's a lot of chocolate chips.

We packed up the cookies and went on our way to the party, and as we walked in I said, "Okay Matt, don't tell A SOUL about the pound cake incident."

"It never happened," he responded.

Not only does Matt's family consist of great cooks who love good food, his uncle is a PROFESSIONAL BAKER.

I'd never live it down.

When dessert time came around, people flocked to the cookies.  They were a total hit.  And then, they started asking who made the cookies.  When they found out it was us, they started coming up to us REQUESTING OUR RECIPE.

I hated to tell people that they were premade cookies because SHOW SOME EFFORT, SISTER, so finally, after the third request, I said, "Okay, fine.  I have to come clean about something."

I looked at Matt across the table and his eyes widened.  He couldn't believe I was going to do it.

And then I admitted to everyone about my culinary crisis and the reason we brought premade cookies.

And oh, the story made their day.  They thought it was hilarious.

That's me, impressing the in-laws since 2014.

As it turns out, we are spending Thanksgiving with the same folks, and they've already requested that we bring our famous cookies.

But maybe this time I'll bring my stuffed peppers too.

Friday, October 24, 2014

just your typical friday

When Matt got home from work the other night, he went into the bedroom to change and came back out a few minutes later in his bare feet and said, "Hey Laur, would you mind looking at something on the bottom of my foot?"

Oh, marriage.  You are full of unexpected situations.

I managed to get out of the extremity examination, but it turns out that Matt's dress shoes were a little too small, so he decided that he would stop at the store after work last night to look for a new pair.  He also had to buy shotgun shells because he and his dad are hunting tomorrow and he volunteered to bring the shells (not called bullets, as this non-hunter has learned), and DSW and Dick's Sporting Goods happen to be in the same shopping center, which is basically retail jackpot.

Matt called me as he was leaving the shoe store to see if he should start dinner when he got home.  I was just heading out of the gym and running into the food store because we needed apple juice and yogurt (SO MANY DETAILS).  Since he would probably beat me to the house, I told him the dinner plan.

(Leftover chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans.  This is fascinating.)

Before we hung up, I asked him what kind of shoes he bought.

"Hush Puppies," he said.

Well, this morning I put on my sensible new sneakers with orthotic inserts for a follow up appointment with the podiatrist, and Matt broke in his Hush Puppies.  If you need us Saturday night, we'll be at the diner for the early bird special and then at the bingo hall because evidently we are 100.

I told Matt I was just about to run into the food store and asked him if he needed anything else.  "Nope," he said.  "I've got my Hush Puppies and a few boxes of shotgun shells, and what more could a man really need?"

Go ahead and embroider that on a pillow.

For the first six months of our marriage, Matt pretty much handled all dinners.  But now, since he doesn't get home from his new job until much later, it made sense for me to take over in the dinner department and IT IS TURNING OUT TO BE A LOT OF WORK.

When I was growing up, every night as we finished eating dinner I would ask my mom, "So, what are we having for dinner tomorrow?"  If there are two things I love in this world it's a good meal and a schedule, so it was a totally sensible question in my mind.

However, God bless my mom for never saying, "YOU'RE GOING TO WANT DINNER...AGAIN?" because that's what I wanted to say to Matt this afternoon when the dinner topic came up.  But I maintained my wifely composure and said, "Don't worry about it Matt, I'll definitely figure something out."

Well, Matt knows me pretty darn well because tonight at 6:15 he walked through that front door holding a hot pizza in his hand which was very convenient since I HAD NOT FIGURED ANYTHING OUT.

After we ate our pizza, Matt disappeared into the bedroom and came back out in full hunting gear for what turned out to be a dress rehearsal of sorts for tomorrow morning.  He was a little bit concerned about temperature control- he didn't want to wear a heavy coat and be too hot, or a light coat and be too cold.

So I stood in the closet and looked through his outerwear options while repeatedly suggesting I thought he should wear his leaf suit so he'd blend in with the elements until he finally said, "LADY, IT IS NOT CALLED A 'LEAF SUIT.'  IT IS CAMOUFLAGE."

You say camouflage and shot shells and I say leaf suit and bullets.

I'm learning.

Matt eventually finalized his wardrobe, which he carefully laid out in the dining room so that he can change out there when he wakes up at 3:30, and doesn't have to wake me up because he has apparently learned I do best on eight plus hours of uninterrupted sleep.

I am kind of high maintenance.

Also pictured is Matt's toolbox (don't know the technical name) of hunting supplies and a box of latex gloves to clean birds.  He bought several hundred in a fit of unbridled optimism despite the fact that there is a two bird limit.

Really, I sure hope he shoots a pheasant (or two) tomorrow, mostly because he will be totally thrilled and it will absolutely make his entire hunting season.

And also because, well, dinner.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

a lesson in humility

Emily has now been living it up in college for eight weeks.

I haven't seen her since August, and the other night I was thinking about how this is approximately seven times longer than we've ever been apart before.

And then it dawned on me that I too went away to college.  And we survived those four years just fine.

In any event, our cousin is getting married on the 31st and Emily will be making her grand return to town for the wedding.  Last week, I saw a post of hers pop up on Instagram, and the caption loaded before the picture did because HAVE I MENTIONED OUR POOR CELL PHONE SERVICE?

This was the caption:

A goof that she is so excited to see in fifteen days?  Well naturally, I figured that the picture, when it loaded, would be of me.

And now, the picture:


Obviously I sent her an urgent message expressing my displeasure, and then she posted this one to appease me.  It was nice, but it was definitely "prompted" and what some in the biz may call "too little, too late."

(The biz? I have no idea.  It sounded good so I went with it.)

And then, yesterday.  Yet another post to Instagram with an enticing hashtag referencing three countdowns.  I waited on the edge of my seat for that picture to load, and in turn, her countdown to me.

Please feast your eyes on the countdowns:

The royal baby.  The dog.  And Christmas.


Hey Em, it's now nine days.  You know, just in case you're counting.


Monday, October 20, 2014

this time, my car trouble involved law enforcement

Well, now that this Monday is just about over, I can officially say that it was better than the last one. 

Last Monday morning, I woke up feeling pretty lousy.  I stayed in bed for an extra half hour and had a surprisingly involved internal debate with myself about whether or not to take a sick day.  In the end I decided that I’d feel better once I got moving and I had a lot to get done (you win, work ethic) so I made myself get up and go into the office. 

Which turned out to be the wrong decision.

On my way to work, while I was driving along a VERY BUSY HIGHWAY, I saw large pieces of metal bouncing around the lanes ahead of me, and before I knew it, I felt something hit my tire.  I knew right away that it was a pretty forceful impact, and ten seconds later my low tire pressure light lit up and an alarm started dinging.
I pulled onto the shoulder and hopped out to take a look at my tires and see if I could make it to the next exit, since it was just a mile away and, you know, being in a disabled vehicle on the side of a three lane highway during rush hour is not the most ideal situation.  Unfortunately, my right tire was already COMPLETELY flat, so I got back in the car and called my BFFs over at roadside assistance to tell them, HEY, IT’S ME AGAIN WITH YET ANOTHER CAR PROBLEM.

I honestly feel like I should invite the roadside assistance operator over for dinner, I talk to her so often.

I looked around while I dialed the insurance company, and I counted at least ten other cars and trucks pulled over with flat tires.  Evidently I was not the only one who fell victim to the metal debris in the road.  And a few minutes later, I saw cop lights in my rear view mirror.  Normally that sight would fill me with dread, but in that moment I stopped just short of hanging my head out of the window and screaming PLEASE OFFICER, PICK ME.  

The state trooper came to my window and when I told him that roadside assistance gave me an estimate of an hour before they would arrive, he rolled up his sleeves and changed my flat tire for me.

I could have kissed him.

Once I was all set, I rolled very slowly to the nearest auto part store and bought myself two new tires and an alignment. Which brings the current total for Matt and me to EIGHT new tires in eight months of marriage.

This week, we are going shopping for bikes.

Or personal chauffeurs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

i just keep telling myself i'm young at heart

Well, I have aged thirty years in the last five days.

Let me explain.

On Friday, I paid a visit to the podiatrist and left with some sweet new orthotics for my shoes.

On Sunday, I was doing my hair when I discovered a big gray patch right in front.  After a few moments of panic and a desperate text to my sister, it occurred to me that the gray may have been the result of an overenthusiastic application of dry shampoo. However, I haven't used the dry shampoo in two days and I haven't noticed a change, so I'm not feeling very optimistic about this development.

And then today, I walked into my office at work only to discover this on my desk.

Way to kick a girl when she's down, AARP.

I guess the least I can hope for are some discounts on orthotics and hair dye.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

i'm not typically high maintenance when it comes to hotels

I was on a quick work trip for a few days last week.  The day before the trip, a group of us received an urgent email from an administrative assistant letting us know that there had been a mix up with the hotel reservations.  Our hotel was being changed from the fancy Holiday Inn Express to the not quite as fancy Quality Inn.  Not only that, but there were ten people going on the trip and only nine rooms available.  And since there were no other rooms at any other hotels in the area, she pleaded for two people to volunteer to share a room.

Since I've been  workin' girl, I've learned that being on the good side of the administrative assistants can be worth its weight in gold.  So I sent a quick email to tell her that I would be willing to share a room if she still needed a volunteer.

Which is how I ended up spending Wednesday night in a hotel room with someone I've never met before.

The rooming situation turned out to be fine, but the pillow situation?  

As you can see, The Quality Inn promised me a Q bed with NOT ONLY 200 thread count sheets, but also a generous supply of fluffy pillows.

I know what you're thinking.  How lucky can a girl get?

Well, it would seem the Quality Inn and I have a different interpretation of the word "generous."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

that time i got sentimental

Matt and I have been married for seven months today.  Not eight months, as I initially thought the other night when I burst dramatically into the kitchen and proclaimed, "This month is our GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY! Eight months on the eighth!"

And Matt thought for a moment and then said, "Actually, March to October is only seven months."

Listen. Time flies when you're having fun.

Also, perhaps we should rethink who handles the budget.

Anyway, I know this is going to sound so cheesy but when April ended, I remember thinking, "April was my favorite month of marriage yet."  And then I thought the same thing about May.  And June.  And every month since.  I feel like we have settled into our routine and even though we have been friends for TEN YEARS (we calculated the other day, we are old) and dated for five, we are still learning all sorts of new little things about each other.

For example, I have learned that Matt does not utilize the sleep button on the alarm clock, loves to keep me up to date on the weather forecast and if I will need an umbrella/sweater/ice scraper, and sleeps with a flashlight next to our bed "just in case." And he makes me laugh all the time.

And I love funny.

Just this morning I was up at 5:40, an hour and a half earlier than normal (unlike Matt, I am a big fan of the sleep button), because I had an early meeting two hours away.  I was grumpily drying my hair and I could hear Matt humming cheerfully in the bathroom as he got out of the shower and brushed his teeth.  When he came into the bedroom, his humming got louder and quite impassioned, and after a few minutes, he said, "Well, have you noticed anything different about my humming recently?"

Unfortunately I had to tell him that no, I hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary.

"I've been humming Christmas carols the past few days!" he said.  "I'm just trying to ease into the season."

And at 5:40 this morning, that made me so happy.  Partly because he knew it would make me laugh, and partly because that is so Matt - a well thought out procedure for everything.

I even got a text from him this afternoon asking what I'd like to do for Valentine's Day.  It would seem that someone has holidays on the brain.

In honor of our seven months of marriage, here are seven wedding pictures.

(Actually, it's way more than seven.  But I'm not the math person, remember?)