Friday, April 29, 2016

i'll never be able to hitch hike

Our big project this past weekend was getting the yard and patio in shape.

First up was our customary Saturday morning Hope Depot trip.  When we got home we power washed the patio, planted two rhododendron bushes and some raspberry plants, put together a patio set that my parents very generously got for us, and began to plant 120 flowers.

That's right.  One hundred and twenty flowers.  It's safe to say I grossly overestimated how many flowers it would take to fill our gardens.  Whoops.

We decided to quit around 5:00 on Sunday.  I had a vacation day on Monday, so I decided I'd finish the flowers then.  As we were putting away our tools, Matt said, "We can just leave the shovels in the garden center, since we'll use them again tomorrow."

I'm sorry, the garden center?

He was referring to the small fenced area on the side of the house where the previous owner kept his trashcan.  It made me laugh because my parents have a deck and an upper and a lower patio in their backyard, which they refer to as Zone 1, Zone 2, and Zone 3.

We're just carrying on the outdoor area naming tradition.

Monday was 80 degrees and sunny and I was all hopped up on spring weather and decided to make a big pasta salad before I started gardening.  I threw in a bunch of veggies we had in the fridge, and decided at the last minute to toss in some red onion.  As I was cutting the onion, I thought to myself, "I should research how to cut an onion properly.  I always feel like I'm going to slice my thumb."

And two seconds later I SLICED MY THUMB.

To make matters worse, Matt had a bad run-in with a broken glass last weekend and had the band-aids with him in his work bag.  It was touch and go for a few minutes but I managed to stop the bleeding and get on with my gardening.

The thumb injury only hindered my progress a little bit.

I hope it heals.

And I hope it's green, because I have 120 flowers depending on that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

it's tough to pass up an AARP day bag

A few weeks ago my father in law came over to help fix a plumbing problem we were having, specifically replacing the broken outside spigot.  We bought The Pocket Hose, aka the hose that grows, and unfortunately one night we turned it on and then couldn't turn it off.

And that is not a hose problem you want to have.

Along with his plumbing tools, Matt's dad brought along a box of Matt's childhood belongings.  It's funny how when you buy your own house with storage aplenty, your parents expect you to get your stuff out of their basement.

(Mom and Dad, I'll be by for those last few boxes any day now...)

After dinner we went through the box, and found a lot of high school memorabilia, Matt's varsity letter, and an old piggy bank that counts your coins as you drop them in.  But the piece de resistance was Matt's coin collection.  Which we then organized AND vacuum sealed on a Saturday night because the excitement never ends.

A few days later, this showed up in the mail.

I think our house is bugged.

Also, tricky "free with payment" wording, AARP.  It's too bad we've just vacuum sealed all of our valuable coins or we might've taken you up on this tempting offer.

Friday, April 22, 2016

tomorrow we buy the oreos

Spring has officially sprung here and I am over the moon.  This past weekend was particularly beautiful and I walked around for 48 hours like I've never experienced spring before.

"Look at how BLUE that sky is!"

"Have you ever heard birds sing so melodiously?"

"The air smells like perfume from all of the blooming trees!"

I feel like a new person.

The warmer weather has also inspired me to prepare fresher, healthier meals, instead of meals whose main ingredient is cheese with a side of cheese.  I bought tons of fresh fruits and veggies this weekend and even made myself squash soup, which, looking back, may have been a little misguided. 

Tonight after dinner Matt said, "Do we have any snacks?" and all I could offer was a handful of roasted almonds or some tortilla chips made from only chickpeas and sesame seeds and some sort of magic.

"No thanks, I was hoping for something more...mainstream," he said.

In other news, we bought a chiminea last weekend, and we had our first fire Tuesday night.  Matt turned the Phillies game on the radio and I brought out my new book and we listened and read and talked and the whole thing was so relaxing.  We canceled our cable a few months ago, and the price we paid for the chiminea was what we'd pay for one month of cable.  In my opinion, we've already gotten a 100% return on investment.

It was nice to have such a lovely evening in the yard, because it had been the scene of a traumatic experience earlier this month.  

When we bought this house Matt proclaimed he needed a riding lawnmower because it would take him 3 hours to mow the yard with a push mower.

My counter-argument was that it takes me 3 hours to clean the house, so I need a maid.

We got the lawnmower.

I'm sure the maid will show up any day now.

We found the lawnmower on Craigslist and got a pretty good deal.  Matt fired that bad boy up last Friday.  He made his first lap up and back and was grinning from ear to ear.  Mowing his own yard.  It was the moment he'd been waiting 27 years for.

And then on lap 3, the lawnmower died.  Among other problems, the engine block was cracked, and in case you're not up to speed on the going rate for new lawnmower engine blocks, I can tell you they're about $800.   Which is more than we paid for the lawnmower to begin with.

Let's just say it was a bad night around here, because we were pretty convinced we were going to be out the money from the first lawnmower, which we couldn't sell to someone else since in the current condition, PLUS have to buy a second.  We ran some errands on Friday night but neither of us were in great moods, and when we got home Matt casually mentioned he was hungry and I casually mentioned that he better get used to that feeling because we're never going to be able to afford to eat again.

It wasn't one of my finer moments.

On Monday morning Matt decided to try to call the man we bought the lawnmower from to see if they could work things out.  And I'm here to tell you there are still good people in this world because the man felt terrible, apologized profusely, and gave us every cent of our money back.

So the good news is that we now have a new working lawnmower and our lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood in no time.

And the great news is that we will be able to afford to eat another day.

Maybe we can even splurge on some mainstream snacks.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

you lucky dog

My family had a dog named Sandy when I was very little, but she died when I was six so I don't remember very much about her.  After that, my brother and I made half-hearted requests for a new dog every now and then, but the requests never resulted in a new puppy because did I mention half-hearted?

And then Emily came along.


When Emily was in first grade, my mom sewed felt patches all over a white sweatsuit for Halloween, but Em wore that puppy costume long after October 31st.

And then Emily took things to a whole new level when she started barking and crawling on all fours to the door when the doorbell rang.

And in February 2003, we got Rosie.

There was some family discord about what to name our new puppy, but when we found out that she was born on December 27th, Emily's birthday, we all agreed that we had to name her Rosie, after Em's middle name, Rose.

Rosie was an English Springer Spaniel, and we quickly learned they weren't kidding about the "spring" part.  A few weeks after we got her, my dad made himself a big, juicy sandwich for lunch, put it on the table, and went out to get a soda from the garage fridge.  When he came back inside, the sandwich was gone, and Rosie had crumbs on her mouth.  Let's just say Dad was less than thrilled with her display of agility and speed eating.

My brother and I were talking about The Notorious Sandwich Incident of 2003 this weekend.  We both thought that after Rosie's brazen act she wouldn't make it 13 more days in our house, let alone 13 more years.

But she defied the odds.

That's not to say she stopped eating forbidden treats.

There was the time she ate 30 lollipops intended to be Emily's class Valentines.  She gave herself away because she emerged from her candy binge with lollipop wrappers stuck in her long, floppy ears.

One time she ate a platter of gourmet chocolate covered pretzels my mom got from her students.

And when she was definitely old enough to know better, she ate the two layer heart shaped cake I made for my parents' 25th anniversary.  I came home from work on my lunch hour to ice the cake, and it was gone.

Just this past October, my mom and I returned from an afternoon of shopping, and Rosie was standing in the hallway surrounded by empty Halloween candy wrappers.

They say chocolate isn't good for dogs, but it never bothered Rosie.

Rose loved to be outside and in the water.  She went with us on vacations to the lake and for hikes in the woods.  She loved to be in the backyard, drinking from the pond and chasing squirrels and laying in the sunshine.

But mostly, she loved to be with her people.

She usually laid in the middle of the hallway, where she could see the kitchen and the family room, and keep an eye on the front door.

At night she'd drag her bed out to the family room to be with everyone.  She'd get all settled in and fall asleep, but when she heard the television click off, she'd jump right up and trot into her crate for bed.  

You could always count on Rosie to hear the garage and be waiting for you at the door when you came inside.

And if she was outside alone for too long, she'd come looking for a friend.

She wasn't allowed upstairs, but when someone went up, she'd wait patiently on the landing for them to come back down.

She was a dog, but for thirteen years, she was part of our family.

And she was Emily's best friend.

I don't think any of us appreciated Rosie's loyalty and unconditional love more than Emily did.

Over the last two weeks, Rosie's health declined.  On Friday, my parents knew it was time.  I went over to see her one last time after work, and I sat down next to her on the floor.  She was weak and tired, but she picked her head up and put it on my knee.  Up until the very end, she really loved her people.

And her people are really going to miss her.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Easter was egg-cellent

Well now that it's been two weeks since Easter, I guess it's about time I write about it.

For the first time this year, we had Easter brunch instead of Easter dinner, and I have to say it was a fantastic idea.  I was responsible for bringing two things, so I made bacon wrapped asparagus and a french toast casserole.  Typically I do a practice run before bringing something to a crowd, because while I'm definitely improving in the cooking department, things can still be a little dicey when I try a new recipe.  But I threw caution to the wind for my Easter contributions and made them for the first time, and it was a huge success.  The only mistake I made was "accidentally" doubling the butter in the french toast casserole, and I have to say, it wasn't a bad thing.

Also, the cutest baby in all the land came to spend her first Easter in Pennsylvania and despite all the candy my parents bought, I think she was the sweetest thing about Easter.

Emily was home from college for the weekend.  My mom had the day off Monday and planned to drive her back to PSU bright and early for her 10 am class, so I took the day off and joined in the fun.

And fun it was.

We left at 6:00, so by 9:30 my mom and I were at the point where we found everything, especially ourselves, completely hilarious, and Emily was at the point where she was ready to crawl out the car window at a red light.

We dropped Em off for her class and made plans to reconvene at her dorm at 11:15 so she get her luggage and load the car up with her winter clothes to send home.

Which meant my mom and I found ourselves with an hour to kill on our old college campus.

So we decided to walk around and take pictures at various Penn State landmarks and text them to Emily in class.

The creamery! My freshman year dorm! The student union! The library! Em's favorite study spot! The lion shrine!

We met back up with Emily after her class and she did a combo eye roll/grin about the pictures, so our plan was a total success. 

I wonder if she will ask us for a ride back anytime soon.

Monday, April 4, 2016

the bar has been set

And then the next morning I easily and conveniently drove my rental car right through an EZ pass entrance on the turnpike instead of the cash ticket lane, and racked up a forty one dollar and fifty cent toll even though I only drove eleven miles.  Apparently when you exit without a ticket they charge you the price from the VERY FIRST ENTRANCE.

Literal highway robbery.

But, I decided to give renting another go, and my mom drove me over to Enterprise this afternoon to pick up a car for a work trip tomorrow.  As we pulled into the lot, she scanned the available vehicles and announced her prediction. "There's not much here today.  You will probably end up with that white minivan."

And then I walked into the rental office and Jake behind the counter said, "There's not much here today.  How do you feel about that white minivan?"

"That would be fine I guess," I told him.  

But then at the last second I added, "Is that all that's available?" because it doesn't hurt to ask.

"Let me check what's in the bay," he said, and walked over to the little garage area.  I always thought that's where they washed the cars but evidently it's where they hide the luxurious options because Jake came back to the counter and said, "It's a Jaguar.  Would that be okay?"

After checking to make sure it wouldn't cost any more than the standard (read: cheapest available) car that my nonprofit employer's Fiscal Hotline had approved, I set off in style in my very own Jaguar.

I parked the car in the street when I got home, and went inside and said to Matt, "Could you come outside real quick and make sure I parked close enough to the curb with MY JAG?"

The look he gave me resembled the one he gave me the other night when I laced up my sneakers and announced I was going to go for a run.

That is to say, complete and utter disbelief.  

But he walked to the front door and what to his wondering eyes should appear but a shiny black Jaguar.  

We went outside together because he wanted to see how many liters were in the engine and something about torque, and I wanted to read the manual for a few practical things like which buttons adjust the mirrors and how do I turn on the defroster?

On my drive home I'd noticed that behind the steering wheel there were two big buttons.  One had a "+" and the other had a "-." Naturally I thought they were for the radio volume, so I pushed the + while I was at a red light and the car sounded like it was going to take off.

After I adjusted my mirrors and found the defroster, I said to Matt, "what do you think these big buttons behind the steering wheel are?"

"Oh those?  Those are your paddle shifters." 

It's official.  I'm in over my head with all this luxury.  

As I was upstairs packing my suitcase for my trip tonight, Matt came into the bedroom and said, "I've been doing some research and that car?  It goes zero to sixty in 5.1 seconds."

Well, we will just see about that tomorrow morning as I merge onto the Pennsylvania turnpike.

Via the cash ticket lane, of course.

Friday, April 1, 2016

all because i'm high maintenance

Matt wasn't feeling well last night so he went to bed a little early and I decided to hang out in my office to paint my nails and watch one more episode of The West Wing because I'm about at the point where I'm ready to write in Jed Bartlett for president on my actual ballot in November.

As I was watching President Bartlett give the State of the Union and applying a second coat of OPI's "Ce-less-tial is More," I heard a tremendous crashing sound.

I couldn't tell where it came from, but obviously it meant someone had broken into our house.  I sat so still in my chair for about ten seconds, and then I did what any reasonable 27 year old woman would do and RAN to the bedroom, woke Matt up, gave him a whisper version of what happened and requested that he check the doors/windows/closets to locate the intruder.

After he stared at me for a few seconds, he got up out of bed and did just that.  I stood in a safe spot at the top of the stairs, and after a few minutes Matt turned the corner and said, "Well, there's officially no one in this house but us."

After he checked out front for a getaway car, we both went to bed.

And then this morning I went into the shower and found this.

It appears my intruder was just an over-filled shower caddy.

I guess I didn't buy one that was equipped to handle all of my products.

Tonight at dinner we talked about the "break-in" and Matt said, "I don't think robbers typically break in to a house at 10:00 at night.  When all the lights are on."


And today I'm buying a new shower caddy.

And maybe a home alarm system.