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.

Friday, July 15, 2016

cloudy with a chance of grump delivery drivers

Tuesday was Amazon prime day, and what you may or may not know is that I am married to Amazon's number one fan.  Matt's been known to order everything from peanuts to dress slacks on the old Amazon dot com.  He was so psyched for Prime Day.  It was like his Superbowl.  As expected, he made a few purchases, and thanks to the 99 bucks we shell out annually for our prime membership, his new Stanley FatMax level and My Pillow were set to arrive on Wednesday.

I didn't know we needed a new level, but I certainly knew Matt needed a new pillow.  His previous pillow could only be described as a half full (empty?) sack of flour.  It was dense, heavy, and so small that I had to fold the pillow case over and tuck it into itself when I changed the sheets because there was always about 6 inches of excess at the end.  Since we got married I've been suggesting that he buy a new one, but he insisted there was nothing wrong with his pillow and it had a perfect indent of his head in it, which is evidently a feat that took years to achieve.

And then last week his neck started to hurt and I was able to convert him to the world of the My Pillow.  I bought a My Pillow last year and it lives up to the tagline of the most comfortable pillow you'll ever own.  Plus you can wash it and dry it and when I really want to treat myself I give it a little fluff in the dryer before bed and feel as fancy as a queen.

Anyway, I worked from home on Wednesday afternoon, and it was a rainy one.  There's nothing better than a good summer rainstorm, so I lit a candle and hunkered down in my office for a productive afternoon.  My office is in the front of the house, and around 2:30 I saw a beat up white car pull up in front of our house and start honking.

I didn't recognize the car or the driver, so I assumed she was honking for a neighbor and ignored it.

And then the driver honked more aggressively, so I walked down to the front door, just as she rolled her window down and shouted, "DELIVERY!!"

I stared at her through the screen door.

"I don't want the packages to get wet in the rain!" she yelled across the yard.

I wanted to respond that the packages were going to get wet whether she carried them or I did.  And also that one of us is being paid to carry packages in the rain, and one of us is not.

But instead I did what I do in most situations with a potential conflict, and stood there silently.

It was like a game of delivery chicken.

Finally, she reluctantly carried the boxes to the door and when she got there she told me, "I was really trying not to get rained on today."

Luckily the rain did not adversely affect the My Pillow or the Stanley FatMax level.

I just checked our Amazon app to get the accurate name of the level, and do you know what our number one recommended item is?

5 Horizontal (Side-Mount) Poultry Nipples.

Well my goodness.

We still have our chickens, but to the best of my limited knowledge they have no need for side mounted poultry nipples, whatever they are.

But if we do buy them, I'll make sure it's during a week when the forecast is dry.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

what i've been reading

I decided to try something new for the blog today, and I'm joining my first ever Show Us Your Books link-up with Stephanie and Jana to share the books I read in June!

Party Girl, by Rachel Hollis:  A few weeks ago I logged into my Amazon account, only to realize that I'd been the beneficiary of $17.00 in credit thanks to a class action lawsuit I didn't even know I was a part of.  I decided to download Rachel Hollis' series since I am a big fan of her website, The Chic Site, and had been dying to read her books for quite some time.  Party Girl is the first book in the series, and I read it in a few long porch sitting sessions over the course of a weekend.  The book is based on the author's life, and how she got her start as a Hollywood party planner.  I was rooting for the main character the whole time, and the book was fun, light, and made me laugh.  Which is something we could all probably use these days.

The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica: I've heard that this is similar to Gone Girl, but I didn't read that so I can't speak to the similarities.  It was about a young woman who disappears, and the chapters are each written from the point of view of a handful of characters related to her.  Each chapter is written from the particular narrator's perspective either before, during, or after the disappearance.  This was a little bit confusing, and a few times I had to flip back to the chapter title to see the time period, but overall it was an effective way to tell the story.  The story itself was gripping.  I couldn't put it down and just when I thought I had the plot figured out there was a major twist.  In one chapter I'd find myself liking a character I felt like I should hate, and hating one I felt like I should like, and then in the next chapter I'd change my mind completely.  Five stars.

The Shop on Blossom Street, by Debbie Macomber:  I read this in a few hours while I sat on the beach, and it was a perfect beach read because I didn't have to concentrate too hard on it.  I could read a few pages, people watch, read a few pages, people watch.  It was totally predictable from the first chapter, but it made me want to move to a tiny town and open my very own yarn shop.

And I don't even knit.

The Bright Forever, by Lee Martin:  Well, I think I've met or exceeded my annual quota for books about people who disappear.  This one was about a little girl who rode her bike to the library, and never came home.  The book details the investigation and I felt like I was watching an episode of Law and Order: SVU.  It was sad and to be honest, the end got weird.  I work in the child welfare field, so reading a book about a missing child and the people she should've been able to trust but who didn't protect her when it mattered wasn't enjoyable for me.  I'm glad I finished the book, but I wouldn't recommend it, and it made me want to pick up lighthearted Party Girl again.

This weekend I finally joined our local library, so I feel like I have the literary world at my fingertips.  I got three books this weekend, and two audio books.

And none of them are about mysterious disappearances!

Any suggestions for me?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

he literally looks like a million bucks

A few weeks ago Matt started watching a show called Justified.  After the first episode he said, "I can tell I'm going to love this show.  It has all of my favorite things - cowboys, cops, and crime-solving."

I figured he'd love the show and start looking for a job and real estate in the eastern Kentucky mountains, where the show is set.  What I didn't count on what getting this notification from Amazon on Thursday morning.

First of all, can I just say THANK GOODNESS for Amazon Prime, because how would we ever survive waiting more than 24 hours for this sophisticated Stetson to land on our doorstep?

When Matt got home from work on Thursday night we talked about the purchase and I asked if it was really worth the money, since he works in a fancy office in Philadelphia and is not an actual cowboy, and also what in the world did he plan to wear it with?  And he said, with a completely straight face, "I'm going to wear it with my cowboy clothes."

I worked from home on Friday, and the mail truck came by and deposited the Stetson around 2:00.

When Matt got home from work I was chatting on the phone with my friend Stacy, but he walked into the living room and tipped his hat to me and said, "Good evening, miss."

My family always jokes that I love nothing more than a reflective surface so I can look at myself.  Which is admittedly true.  I even glance at myself in the microwave every time I walk by it.  Well once Matt donned that hat last night he kept walking by the mirrors in the living room and remarking on his good looks.

He's been working on a big project at work and had to finish a few things this morning, and I saw this when I walked by the office.

The hat may have been many, MANY times our annual hat budget (which happens to be zero dollars), but he does look handsome.

But I'm not going to be as easily sold on a move to Kentucky.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

hindsight is 20/20

Last week was my annual eye exam.  As soon as I scheduled it, memories drifted back into my mind of of last year when I attended my appointment and ordered all manner of optical accouterments and paid for the whole shebang out of pocket because I was under the impression that I did not have vision insurance.

As it turns out, I did.


So this year I had every intention of printing my vision insurance info out at work, but I completely forget so I stopped at my parents' house before the appointment to use their printer.  Unfortunately, in order to log into the insurance website you have to log into 47 other places first, and I could remember exactly zero passwords.

After half an hour of unsuccessful log ins, my dad suggested I just go to the office and see if they could find my insurance in the system.

I use the word "office" because it sounds more sophisticated than where I was actually going, which was the vision department of my local Sam's Club.

The vision assistant, Bevin, found my insurance right away and told me that my exam would be covered and I had a $50.00 credit towards materials.

Well, hot dog.

Things went downhill from there.  I had to take my contacts out and then sit for ten minutes in the "waiting room" aka a metal bench in the toothpaste aisle of a big box store, until the doc was ready.  And in those ten minutes I became incredibly nauseated from watching blurry figures wander about with carts filled with what I could only imagine was all manner of giant bags of pierogies and lifetime supplies of Ziploc baggies.

I wanted to blindly feel my way to the Dramamine aisle because I was in a STATE.

Finally the doc called me back, and after I read a few lines on the screen, he pulled the giant lens contraption away and said, "Hmm.  Let me just wipe off these lenses to make sure they're not smudged or something."

They weren't smudged.

My eyes have just evidently had a rough year and I will now be sporting driving glasses on top of my contacts.

Part of me was bummed, but the other part of me was psyched to be able to use my $50.00 material credit to return my aging eyes to their youthful glory.

And now I'm wondering how far I could take this vision insurance thing.

Maybe I should make an appointment to see about an eye lift.

Pun intended.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

it's like christmas in july

Well, we're having the most gorgeous July weather here and I tried to write this blog post on the patio, but for some reason the neighborhood ice cream truck plays only Christmas carols, and it has already driven around our block 647 times with a steady loop of Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

I suppose the driver didn't get the message that it's July 4th weekend and American the Beautiful would be more fitting.  I feel like I should clue him in to some more seasonally appropriate songs, since I consider myself an expert on holiday music and even hummed My Country, 'Tis of Thee while I cooked dinner tonight and warned Matt to get ready for a weekend of song because I have lots of patriotic numbers in my repertoire.

I use the word repertoire like I regularly sing someplace more sophisticated than our stall shower and the occasional elevator with good acoustics.

Anyway, we kicked off the holiday weekend yesterday afternoon.  Matt and I had dinner reservations at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse at 7:00, but my office closed early for the holiday so I took the train downtown a few hours early.

Matt met me at the train station and showed me his office, but unfortunately he was in the midst of a major work deadline so I hung out at the Starbucks down the street until he was finished working.

And let me tell you, I could write a book about what I witnessed during my ninety minutes in that Philadelphia Starbucks.

The only seat available was at a high top table, quite unfortunately located right next to the bathroom, but the alternative was sitting on a bench in the rain outside next to the people with ACLU shirts handing out flyers, so I took the table.

About five minutes into my visit I learned that the code to the bathroom was 1776, which I'm sure would make our Founding Fathers so proud.

I became the unofficial keeper of the code, and whenever someone would try to open the bathroom door and realize there was a code, I would just say, "It's 1776."

God Bless America.

I brought a book with me, but I was so preoccupied people watching that I only read 23 pages. 

There were two women sitting at the counter against the window with bare feet and no visible shoes. 

They were sitting next to a man with a sleeveless shirt and a paper number from a run safety-pinned to the back of his shirt.  Interestingly enough, he'd paired the running number/shirt with jeans and  pair of sensible loafers.  

A half hour into my visit, a woman with an accent and a handful of maps asked if she could sit at the other stool at my table for a minute.  I said yes because she looked like a tired tourist who could use a little rest while she waited for her drink.  But then she proceeded to change the numerous band aids covering the blisters on her feet.  

A lady came in with quite a large dog who had a menacing bark.  I would know because he barked for five solid minutes.

There was also the woman sitting right next to the door who asked every patron what they'd ordered before they left.

"What did you get?"

"A skinny venti iced caramel macchiato."

"How about you?"

"A flat white."

"What's that drink?"

"It's the new Youthberry White Tea Granita."

Eventually I decided to wander to the Macy's down the street because I wanted to make sure my hair and makeup were on point for date night, and all I had at my disposal was the teeny tiny mirror on the end of my chapstick, and the mirror in the 1776 bathroom that I wouldn't enter for a million bucks after I watched the parade of characters going in and out over the last hour.

Matt met me at Macy's, and then we wandered around the city for a bit and then headed to dinner.  We had two Ruth's Chris gift cards so we went ALL. OUT.  I didn't even eat again until about 2:00 this afternoon, and even then I had a few bites of my leftovers and was full again.

But now that I'm thinking about it, I could go for a sweet treat.

I just need to follow the Christmas carols to the ice cream truck.