Thursday, September 29, 2016

there's no place like home

Well, it's been a long week.

I mean long in the sense that I got home at 7:00 last night, after being away for work since Monday, and I immediately changed into some lounge wear.

And then I came down into the kitchen and Matt said, "Um, I think your sweatpants might be on backwards."


I left for my trip on Monday afternoon.  The rental car pickins were slim at Enterprise, so I went with a Ford Focus because I have a Ford Focus, so I wouldn't have to learn any tricky new radio knobs or windshield wiper controls.  I believe I fall squarely into the category of seasoned Ford Focus expert.

And then I drove the first 1.6 miles in the rental Focus in low gear.  It felt a little sluggish, but it didn't even occur to me to check and make sure the right gear was selected until I went to shift it into "park" at the gas station and realized the gear shift was on L.

The rest of the drive was problem free, and when I settled into my room at the Best Western, I immediately found the room service information.  I had big plans to order room service and watch the debate.  I picked up the phone to order a chicken pot pie, and then the woman asked, "Would you like any sides?"

Well yes, yes I would.  French fries please.

It's just too bad they were stingy with the ketchup.

All I have to say about the debate is that the high point was the fact that I watched it in bed while eating chicken pot pie and french fries.

God bless America.

When I left the hotel the next morning, I saw signs everywhere welcoming visitors to the 2016 PFA Conference.  I see the initials PFA in my line of work all the time, but to me it means Protection From Abuse.  At this hotel, it meant Pennsylvania Farmers' Association.

There were farmers everywhere.

I had to be at another meeting by 7:30 this morning, which meant that Matt and I were getting ready for work at the same time.  I am the type of person who prefers not to talk to anyone for approximately 1.5-2 hours after waking up, whereas Matt is the type of person who gets ready for work at 5:55, just as cheery as can be, and narrates his morning routine in an accent.  Today's was "1935 cowboy voice."

Matt and his accent should have joined me at the hotel yesterday.  He would have fit right in at the PFA Conference.

But it really is good to be home.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

maybe we could borrow one of those antique cars for a few days

To provide some closure for my last blog post, Matt came home from work last Tuesday and said, "I read your blog today, you didn't realize it was me that put the chicken plate in your car?"

Evidently Matt's stepmom picked up the dish at a thrift shop.  Matt got it when he stopped at their house last weekend to borrow a tool from his dad, and instead of bringing the dish into the kitchen, he thought it would be funny to put it on my passenger seat.

So rest assured that I do not have a poultry based interloper on my hands.

We had a productive Saturday today, I cleaned and Matt worked on a few projects around the house.  After lunch he was planting some trees along the side of the house, and I came out to tell him I was going to run over to Goodwill for a little bit.

"Maybe you'll find some chicken plates!" he said.

Everyone's a comedian.

And then he bent down and picked something up from the dirt.

"Would you look at this?" he said, "A potato!"

"Oh my gosh!" I exclaimed! "The old owners must have planted a garden in this spot at some point!"

It was a rock.

You can't believe anything these days.

I got two shirts and two books at Goodwill, and I was more than a little tempted to buy these chicken pictures and put them in Matt's car.

Late this afternoon we headed down to the main street in our town for a little fall festival and car show.  We had the best time.  It was a beautiful night, there were a ton of cars, and we walked around for two hours.

After the car show we headed over to Chili's for for dinner.  While we were eating, Matt was telling me about his to-do list for tomorrow.  On his list was mulching around the new trees, and before I even knew what I was doing, I heard myself saying "Do you want me to mulch?  I love mulching."

I LOVE MULCHING?!  It's like I don't even know myself.

On the way home we decided to drive by Lowe's to pick up some mulching supplies.  Unfortunately, about a block away from Lowe's, we heard a terrible sound come from Matt's truck, and as Matt slowed down, the sound of metal scraping was even more terrible.

And that's how we found ourselves ending a perfectly lovely evening with a broken down truck in the parking lot of Elevation Burger, with both of our cell phones on less than 8% battery.  Matt diagnosed the problem as a missing bolt on the brakes, but even though we were only 2 miles from home, Matt didn't want to risk driving.

It's always better to be safe than brake-less.

So we walked to his dad's house to pick up their car.

And tomorrow Matt will go back to Elevation Burger to repair the truck.

Even though it was a lousy way to end the night, I have to look for a silver lining.

Guess who doesn't have to mulch tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2016

i've lost my mind, but found a dish

The weekend started off on a good note, because on Friday night we had a delicious dinner and then Matt announced he was going to bake something.  He made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and the whole house smelled amazing, and if that doesn't put you in a good mood to start the weekend, I don't know what will.

On Saturday morning I had three errands to run- the library, Target, and the food store.

When I got in my car, this chicken plate was sitting on the passenger seat, looking at me.
(Pay no attention to the Cheeto on the bottom right.)

  I'd never seen the dish before in my life and had no idea where it came from, but I tossed it in the back seat, as one does with newly discovered housewares of unknown origin, and made a mental note to ask Matt about it when I got back home.

I arrived at my first stop of the day and as I opened the back door to grab my purse and books to head into the library, I realized that I did not in fact bring my books.  Since I am a terrible library patron, I had a late fee and knew I wouldn't be able to take new books out until I returned the last batch and paid up, so I drove down the street to Target to use the $5 off $10 coupon that was burning a hole in my pocket.

I picked out my items fairly quickly.

(Shampoo, a pumpkin candle, and 8 bars of Ivory soap.)

(Matt planned to hang the Ivory soap from the trees in our backyard to deter deer from eating his fruit trees, which we planted back behind the chicken coop.)

(We might officially be those neighbors.)

Anyway, the line was long so I took the time to stare at my coupon and wonder why it said "Save later!" in big red letters across the top.  I read the fine print and couldn't figure out what it meant, but I had another coupon that said "Save now!" so I figured Target's current marketing scheme must be "Save now, save later, save ALL THE TIME!"

When it was my turn, I handed my coupon to the cashier and he said, "This isn't effective until October 2nd."

Well, I guess that's what save later meant.  My face turned as red as the cart I was pushing and I left the store without buying anything.  Live it up, backyard deer.  We won't be hanging the soap until October 2nd.

My third attempt at an errand was the grocery store, which was a raging success until I got out to my car with my paid for groceries and realized that the housewarming card I'd picked out for my sister-in-law was under my coupon folder and most definitely not paid for.

I walked back into that store so fast, and as I speed walked, I scanned the parking lot for cops.

As if my $2.99 greeting card was the biggest crime in town.

On Sunday afternoon my mom and I went to see Sully.  I loved it, but we both agreed that we didn't expect it to be such a tear-jerker.  I don't often cry at movies, but when Tom Hanks Sully got on the intercom and said, "Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain.  Brace for impact," I'll admit there were a few tears.

When I got home Matt was watching a documentary about the Titanic, so it's safe to say I am never going to travel by air or sea again.

I asked him if he knew where the chicken plate came from and he said, "You know, I saw that in your car and was wondering the same thing."  Normally I can tell if he's messing with me, but this time I couldn't.  I'm going to hope he put it there, because if not someone is breaking into my car and leaving me poultry themed dishware.

And that means I'll have to cross car travel off my list too.

Time to get a bike.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

it even comes with a spare tire

I am trying to think about what I did last weekend, and it seems so long ago.  I do know that on Sunday we took a good hard look at the walls downstairs because we want to repaint, but they are not in the best shape.  I channeled my inner Joanna Gaines and suggested we cover the old drywall with shiplap.  We even went to Home Depot and Lowe’s to look at shiplap supplies and for a brief, shining hour, my home renovation dreams seemed to be coming true. 

I even sang “God bless the broken road that led me straight to shiplap” as we walked down the lumber aisle at Lowe’s.

But then clearer and more fiscally conservative heads prevailed and we decided to just work with the walls we’ve got.

We didn’t make much progress this week because I was out of town for work.  I rented a car, as per usual, and this time I got a Jeep Wrangler.  When I got home I told Matt the only thing I didn’t like was that the windows were manual, and he said that was because the doors come off, so you can’t have electrical wires.
I don’t know if that’s true or not but I spent the past 48 hours debating whether or not I should take the Wrangler for a spin sans doors. 

My hotel was 12 miles from the office, and last night it took me 52 minutes to get there, even with my GPS.  I could see the hotel from the highway, but I could not get to it.  I am not kidding when I say that I made the same circle on PA 15 N, and then PA 15 S, three times.  I would have been in a bad mood about it, but people kept waving to me and their friendliness kept my spirits up.

Then I realized the people who were waving were also driving Jeeps.

That Jeep wave is a real thing and by the time I returned my Wrangler to Enterprise tonight, I was a waving pro.  The only downside to the Jeep was that it was very loud.  It didn't seem very aerodynamic and it sounded like I was riding in an airplane. 

This is how close my hotel was to the highway I kept driving up and down.  One more missed exit and I would have taken that Wranger off-roading. 
 I got home tonight and we had breakfast for dinner.  One time when I was a little girl, my mom told me that we were having pancakes for dinner and I said, “Pancakes? Can’t we have a roasted chicken or something?”

I’m sorry for that, Mom.  I understand.

We sat down at the table to eat, and I raved about how wonderful it was to feel the breeze coming through the open windows. 

But geez, listen to those dogs barking,” I said to Matt.

Those aren't dog, they are the cheerleaders down at the football field,” he said.

Whoops.  My apologies to the cheerleaders.

The Jeep must have been louder than I realized.

Imagine if I'd taken the doors off.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

what i read: august

Three months in  row linking up for Show Us Your Books with Stephanie and Jana!  It's becoming fun to keep track of what I'm reading this way, and get some new ideas!  Here's what I read this month...

First up, Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell
I swore I wouldn't read any more books about kidnapping, but this was a book club read.  There was a little twist to the standard kidnapping novels, but it was still very predictable.  But maybe that's because this is the forty seven thousandth kidnapping novel I've read.  The basic plot is that two girls were kidnapped when they were young, and now they are in their thirties and one is a writer and one is an actress.  The writer authors a book turned screenplay about their kidnapping, and the actress is chosen for a starring role, so they meet again! What are the chances?  It wasn't awful, but not my favorite.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
I LOVED this book.  Five stars.  The story was unusual, and the characters were so quirky and likable.  The story centers around a widower who owns a little bookstore in a vacation town.  He leads a solitary life, until one day a little girl is abandoned in his shop.  He adopts her and his new little sidekick makes him take a closer look at some of the relationships in his life, including those with an agent from a publishing house, and his brother and sister-in-law, and why some things turned out the way they did.  I didn't want this book to end.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I don't usually read books like this, but I've seen so many rave reviews that I thought I'd give it a try.  And here I am with my unpopular opinion- I did not care for it one bit.  I had to force myself to finish it.  It was 300 pages of navel gazing.

Irish Eyes by Marykay Andrews
This was my first Marykay Andrews novel and I loved it!  It was the perfect weekend read.  I went ahead and judged this book by the cover, and assumed it would be a light read.  But it centered on a retired detective who now runs a cleaning company with eccentric employees.  She witnesses a shooting and even though she's retired from her detective days, she can't help but solve the crime.  In doing so, she uncovers some underground police organizations and learns people aren't always who they seem to be.  There's a whole shelf of Marykay Andrews books at the library, and I can't wait to get another.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
This was another winner.  It was about a woman who owns a bookshop with her best friend.  She goes to sleep one night and dreams she is living another life, the life she would have if just a few things in her life had been different.  As the days go on, the dreams get more realistic and it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate between her real life and her dream life.  It reminded me of It's a Wonderful Life, and I loved it.

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg
I'd read some novels from this author in the past and enjoyed them.  I enjoyed this one too, but it was so sad.  I haven't read Me Before You, but I saw the movie and it's a similar story.  A man is dying, and the main character becomes his caretaker and falls in love with him.  She wants him to fight, and he wants to die.  It was a good book, but a downer, and the day I finished it, I was in a bad/sad mood the rest of the night.

Next month's goal is some cheerful stories!

Friday, September 9, 2016

come on over for an omelet

I haven't mentioned them recently on the old blog, but the chickens are still hanging around.  Although by last week I thought we might be spending our hard earned cash on fancy organic chicken food for nothing because WE WILL NEVER GET EGGS FROM THESE DARN CHICKENS.

And then last night Matt and I went outside to check on the girls after dinner, as per our daily custom, and look what we found.

I only wish we had some eggs last week, because I had to bring deviled eggs to my uncle's cookout and had to buy a big carton of Land O'Lakes.

Part of me thought I might be asked to bring guacamole to the party, since I've recently been enlightened about the world of avocados.  My aunts and cousins and I were out to dinner a few months ago, and somehow we got on the topic of guacamole when I said, "I love guacamole and I'd make it more often if it wasn't such a pain to peel all of those avocados."

And they all stared at me until someone said, "You don't peel avocados."

Well, that was news to me.  The handful of times I've made guacamole, I have painstakingly peeled each avocado, which is a messy and somewhat dangerous endeavor.  

Not to mention incredibly time consuming.

A few weeks after the guacamole revelation, I made guacamole using their method and it was the easiest thing I've ever done.  

Shortly after that, I was making a recipe that called for mango, and Matt walked into the kitchen while I was painstakingly peeling that slippery mango.  "Why are you peeling it?" Matt said.  "You can cut it like you cut an avocado."


Who knows what other produce I'm incorrectly cutting/slicing/peeling.  It's much easier to eat candy and potato chips.

But least I know how to crack an egg.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

we might have hamburger helper tomorrow

Well, it was a lovely Labor Day weekend and I couldn't be more sad that it's over.  On Thursday I got to hang out with our nephew, and on Friday I got to hang out with Annabelle.

On Saturday my uncle had a cookout.

Sunday was a walk at the park where I took a million pictures because it was the most gorgeous day.

On Monday I did a little shopping and my in-laws came over for homemade pizza.

Reality hit hard today, and the low point might have been when I got home from work and had to face the music and create a dinner with the ground beef I'd thawed.

Matt came home while I was browning the meat, and when he asked what I was making, I told him it was a special gourmet masterpiece and assured him he would love it.

"Oh I know what that means," he said, "hamburger helper."

We should be so lucky.

Turns out my gourmet surprise was CHEESEBURGER PIE.  Do you know the one thing worse than cheeseburger pie on a Tuesday?  Leftover cheeseburger pie on a Wednesday.

On the plus side, we are already halfway through the week.  And halfway through our cheeseburger pie.


Friday, September 2, 2016

we shall (hopefully) overcome

Matt and I decided that as part of the family room face lift, we'd install a few lights in the ceiling.  It's a dark room and the ceilings are low so we thought overhead lighting would be the perfect solution.

Well, easier said than done.

Matt's brother is an electrician, so he came over the other night to work on installing the lights.  I decided the general placement of the lights, and then the boys set out to carefully measure the exact locations so they wouldn't drill a hole and run right into any wires or joists.

And then they drilled their first hole and ran right into a joist.

In their defense, it was an unexpected joist.  They are usually installed every 16 inches, and this particular joist was only 8 inches from its neighbors.  However, I don't think joist are installed for cosmetic reasons so it was probably there to serve a purpose.

I was sitting in the dining room but when I heard Matt say, "I wish I was an engineer, because I'd say just cut through it," I hopped up from that dining room table so fast because do you know what is right above that joist?

Our bed.

I told Matt if I snuggled into bed one night and crashed through the floor I would be LESS THAN HAPPY.

In the end Matt took the conservative route and decided not to cut into the joist.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that we now have a hole in our ceiling and no immediate solution for how to fix it.

But I think I'd rather have a hole in the ceiling as opposed to no wall between the family room and garage, so I'm remaining calm, and remaining in other rooms until the situation is resolved.  I know Matt will come up with something and the room will look great.  To encourage myself I thought I'd share some pictures of our most recent room redo, our master bedroom.

This is what we started with.

And this is how it looked during.

This picture was taken when I was a fool who thought wallpaper removal would take a few hours, max.  That smile was short-lived.

And this is how it looks now.

 (Please excuse the air conditioner.  It's not really aesthetically pleasing, but it's a necessary evil.)

I love it.  It's so relaxing. Which is convenient because I need a room like that at this time.