Sunday, January 29, 2017

if crown molding wasn't so expensive, i totally would have bought the time-a-tan

On the weather segment of the news the other night, the meteorologist announced that the dead of winter is officially over.  The coldest temps in Philadelphia are from January 5-26, so things will only go up from here.

I almost went upstairs and put on a bathing suit.

Later that night night I was working on a photo book of pictures from last year, and when I got to summer photos, I wished I could transport myself to New Jersey in June.

Yesterday Matt and I went to some thrift shops, before we came home and installed crown molding, and event which shall hereafter be referred to as "the night we surprised ourselves with patience while simultaneously vowing never to put up crown molding ever again."

We didn't get crown molding because we are sophisticated and high society, we got it because we had to cover up an awkward gap between the brick fireplace and the ceiling, both of which were added when the garage was converted into a family room by the previous owners.  When we moved in, there was an ugly piece of wood in that space between the fireplace and ceiling, but we pulled it down because we assumed it was purely cosmetic.  As it turns out, it was not purely cosmetic.

Crown molding is complicated because there's lots of angles and you have to cut things upside down and the whole process is very delicate with minimal room for error, even though Matt was using terms like "I'll just chop this end off" and "we can just slice and dice this corner."

Perhaps all the chopping and slicing and dicing is the reason why I wanted to call in an S.O.S. to Tom around 7 pm last night.

And by Tom, I mean Tom Silva, of This Old House fame.

We refer to him simply as Tom around here and were personally responsible for about 4783 views on his Youtube channel last night.

A few hours in, I suggested to Matt that perhaps we should go a different route and he said, "failure is not an option."

And so we persisted, and now I'm sitting on my couch and enjoying my view of the molding and feeling pretty darn proud of our handiwork.

Anyway, back to the thrift shopping.  It's hit or miss, sometimes you find nothing, sometimes you find a treasure.

I didn't get it, but I could totally use it at the beach in June.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

we need a peephole. and a no soliciting sign.

Well, here I am with a thrilling report on the winter weather in southeastern Pennsylvania.  We haven't had much snow or bitter cold, but what we have had is a ton of rain and gray skies for weeks on end.

The past few days have been especially rainy, and I'm currently looking out at a pool of standing water in our backyard thanks to poor drainage.  It's not quite as bad (yet) as the Presidents' Day Flood of 2016, which necessitated a call to the police department.

Anyway, a few weeks ago it poured all weekend.  When there was finally a break in the deluge, Matt went out to the chicken coop in the back of our yard because it appeared from the kitchen window there might have been a slight flood.

While he was out back, the doorbell rang.  I answered because I thought it might be a neighbor in need of storm-related help.  Because don't your neighbors walk to your house and ring your doorbell during a rainstorm?

Mine never have, but there's a first time for everything.

It turns out that it was not a neighbor, but a Verizon sales rep who wanted to inform me that Verizon lines were recently installed in our neighborhood and would I like to sign up for Fios?  The conversation felt like a full circle moment, because last year when Verizon started their installation process, I called the police department because of a suspicious low-hanging wire.

We canceled our Comcast cable last year, and haven't really missed it, but we'd seen  few commercials for Verizon Fios and casually talked about trying it.  I told the sales rep that I wanted to talk to my husband before I signed up for anything.  He asked if he was home, and I said yes, but that he was very busy out in the backyard.

The man stood there, in the driving rain, and looked at me like I was crazy.  I was almost positive he was thinking, "Wow, that's a lame and truly unbelievable response."

So, because I'm an over-explainer and was feeling judged by his suspicious look, I said, "He really is out in the backyard.  He's back there because we have chickens.  And he had to check on the coop in all this rain and wind.  And anyway we don't even have cable right now so we aren't in a rush to sign up."

He cautiously stepped away.

I should have told him I had to get back to my butter churning.

Fast forward to yesterday, another day of downpours.  After work, Matt got dressed in his waterproof full body camo hunting gear and went out back to "check on the yard."  

And as soon as he walked outside, the doorbell rang.

I answered it because AGAIN, what if it was a neighbor experiencing storm-related distress, but this time it was two salesmen from, ironically, a solar panel company.  They told me I looked young to be the homeowner and I was so flattered that I listened to the first few minutes of their spiel about a federal mandate and no cost to the homeowner and blah blah blah, and then they started asking the hard hitting questions.

Questions like do we receive our bills electronically or on paper, and how many kilowatt hours of power do we use monthly?

Well, I haven't the foggiest.

I told them Matt pays the bill and would know all of our stats, and they asked if he had a moment to talk.  I said he was busy in the backyard but I'd pass along their information.  And then again, because I over-explain and who hangs out in the backyard in the rain, I said, "I know it's really rainy out, but he's outside because we have chickens and a poor drainage, so he's checking on things."

One of the guys asked if he could look in the yard to see if he could see him, and I told him to be my guest.  He peeked around the side of the house and then said, "Are you sure he's back there? I don't see anyone!"

Well, sir, what I didn't mention was that he is dressed completely in camouflage.

Which I guess is working.

Then the guys thought I was really nuts and lying about my husband being in the backyard during a rainstorm, so I told them I'd look for him.  I ran to the dining room so I could simultaneously look out the kitchen window while keeping an eye on the front door and making sure the men didn't come inside and make a break for my jewelry box in a tricky heist.

But I peeked out that window to see if I could see Matt, and there he was, in the pouring rain, in all his camouflaged glory, HOLDING A SHOVEL AND DIGGING A GIANT HOLE NEXT TO OUR SHED.

I couldn't tell the salesmen that I found him digging a hole, because I thought they might end up calling the police on us.

So I just told them we wouldn't be making a decision on solar panels today, also, IT HAS RAINED FOR A THOUSAND DAYS SO I'M NOT QUITE READY TO RELY SOLELY ON THE SUNSHINE TO POWER MY LIFE.

When Matt came inside I filled him in on the solar panel visitors and questioned why in the world he was digging a hole?  He said water was starting to collect under his shed so he constructed a makeshift trench.

Of course.

All I have to say is the next time it rains, I am not answering the door. 

Unless it's someone selling backyard drainage systems.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

it's like forrest gump, but with butter. butter cookies.butter cake. buttered noodles.

I'm currently sitting here eating my breakfast - a cup of coffee and an English muffin with homemade honey cinnamon butter.  And it occurred to me that I never wrote about how it's possible for me to enjoy homemade butter whenever I please.

Did anyone else's husband think, when Christmas shopping this year, "I know what my wife would love for Christmas...a butter churner."  


Just mine?

Matt officially went a little out of the box with his Christmas gifts this year, and got me (among other gifts I truly loved) a butter churner.

Forget Laura Darling.  Just call me Laura Ingalls.

You might be thinking "Wow, Laura, I don't picture you as the butter churning type of girl" and I can assure you I was thinking the same thing on Christmas morning.

I went grocery shopping a few days later, and Matt asked me to pick up two pints of heavy whipping cream so we/he could get started on our butter production.  I wheeled my cart to the dairy department and right past the case of pre-made, pre-packaged butter, and selected two pints of heavy whipping cream so that I could go home and make the very butter I just walked by.

If you're questioning my sanity, you're not alone.

When I got home, I put the cream in the fridge and we read the directions.  Step number one was to let the cream come to room temperature for two hours.

So, naturally, we grabbed the cream from the fridge, dumped it in the jar, and started churning.

And churning.

And churning.

This is my butter churning "smile."

They weren't kidding about that room temperature thing.

Finally, and I do mean finally, we had ourselves a stick of butter.

It was so good that we made the honey cinnamon variety a few days later, and the process went a lot faster since we actually followed the directions this time.

When I was at the farm show last week, I saw a large crowd gathered, ooh-ing and aah-ing about something inside a glass case.  As I got closer and squeezed my way to the front of the crowd, I saw what was drawing their attention.

This giant sculpture made completely out of butter.

Matt better get churning.

Monday, January 16, 2017

my trip to the pennsylvania farm show

On Monday, the accountant at work sent his typical bi-weekly email about payroll, only this week he added one extra line.  A reminder about the famous milkshakes at the farm show.

Last week was the Pennsylvania Farm Show, held in Harrisburg.  Thanks to a little research, I can tell you that it's the largest indoor agricultural show in the county, taking place on 24 acres and hosting 6000 animals.

I just so happened to be staying six miles from the farm show this week due to a work trip, and I decided to head over for a little agricultural experience on Wednesday night.  I don't usually go to things like this alone, but the previous two nights my evening activity had centered around walking around (and around, and around, and around) Target to get my steps in for a Fitbit challenge, and I think after a third night of that the employees would catch on to me.

After my meeting I made my way to the farm show complex, parked in an overflow lot about a mile away, and hopped on a school bus where the driver told us that they brought her in from two hours away for the week.  Then she said, "Ya'll here for the rodeo?"

Well yee-haw.

I walked in and was greeted by a sign for the cheese competition.

I've never felt more at home.  I wandered through the exhibit hall and saw competitive exhibits including but not limited to hay, straw, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, maple syrup, Christmas trees, mushrooms, and anything else that can be grown in Pennsylvania.  

From there I wandered past this bull and into the dairy cow barn.

I guess someone had tried to pet him on his head.

There were cows, everywhere.  Lying, standing, looking around.  And the more remarkable thing to me was that little kids, (from their farm, not just random little kids) were lying beside and around them, reading or taking naps or just relaxing.  And the cows were as calm as could be.

It was about this moment that I realized I'd made a rookie mistake.  I just wore a cute vest instead of a jacket because I made the foolish assumption that the entire show would be heated.  It was not.  Because cows and goats don't typically require a heavily regulated indoor temperature of 68 degrees like I do in January.

After I'd seen enough cows, I made my way to the goat barn.  I tried and tried to find a goat that wasn't completely goofy looking, but it was impossible.

As I watched this adorable baby goat (kid?) I heard a woman behind me say "excuse me," so I moved aside and glanced behind me.  And it's a good thing I got out of the way because the woman was walking with a giant bull.

The room next door was hosting the sheep to shawl contest, which is just what it sounds like.  They were shearing sheep and then making shawls, which makes a trip to the mall for a new sweater seem incredibly lazy.

I finally arrived at the promised land, the food court.  The room was the size of several football fields, and filled with food from all over Pennsylvania.  I ended up with a potato donut and a famous milkshake from the PA Dairymen's Association, one of over 100,000 sold during the week.

It exceeded expectations.

The antique tractor pull was going on next door so I decided to watch while I enjoyed my donut and shake.  I also got an education on competitive tractor pulling from the two old men sitting beside me.  I learned that Internationals are good, Farmalls are overrated, and that you can go out of bounds in a tractor pull.
I know this last thing because they kept yelling OUT OF BOUNDS!

After several heats of tractor pulling, I visited the horse barn, where I remembered my love of the Thoroughbred book series.  Did anyone else read them?  I spent about three years of my life wishing I was Ashley Griffin living at Townsend Acres with her very own horse named Wonder.  

There was  draft horse/mini horse challenge at 7:00 that I wanted to see, so I found the arena (right next to the mechanical bull, obviously), sat down, and George Strait was crooning Amarillo by Morning through the speakers.  I texted Matt then and there that we should buy a farm and move to the country.

The draft horse/mini horse challenge was just that.  I wanted to put that tiny horse in my pocket and take her home with me.  Her owner's name was Laura so she would have felt right at home.

The farm show closed at 9 and it was getting late, so I decided to hit the alpaca barn on my way out.

And I'm glad I did, because my life is better now that I've seen an alpaca wearing sunglasses.

I'll have to remember to buy some sunglasses for our own alpacas when we get our very own farm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

i guess you get what you pay for at the Target dollar spot

It's important to do what you love.  

Unless you love making signs, but are a terrible speller who lacks attention to detail.

In that case, do something else.

Monday, January 9, 2017

i have some thoughts on some things

In a stunning turn of events, the local weather forecasters barely made a peep about snow this weekend, and then on Saturday it ended up snowing all day long.  Matt ventured out in the morning to get a haircut and to buy the ingredients for a huge pot of spaghetti sauce (or as he would say, gravy) but other than that we hung out at home.  There's nothing like being home all day while it snows outside and a big pot of sauce simmers away.

On Sunday afternoon I braved the grocery store, which was twice as bad as usual because all of the typical Saturday shoppers (me) were there too.  For months I've boycotted the deli because the workers make something as simple as slicing half a pound of turkey seem like it's something as complex and time consuming as, let's say, brain surgery.  Also, the last time I ordered from the deli, my cheese looked like someone cut it with their toes WHILE DOING BRAIN SURGERY so I took a photo of it and emailed the store manager to complain.

And then the manager himself called and left me a voicemail.

Obviously I didn't call him back because what was I going to say?  The picture spoke for itself and also HOW DID I BECOME A PERSON WHO CALLS THE GROCERY STORE MANAGER TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE NEATNESS AND UNIFORMITY OF HER CHEESE SLICES?

Anyway, desperate times call for a pound of Cooper Sharp cheese, so I bit the bullet and took a number.  When it was my turn I ordered my pound of cheese, waited patiently, and then the the worker handed me a package with precisely one half a pound of cheese.

I told him I ordered a pound and he said, "Oh.  My bad."

Yes sir, your bad.  YOU HAD ONE JOB.

Anyway, when I got home I made the spur of the moment decision to empty out every single kitchen cabinet and drawer and reorganize.

We have a large kitchen that consists of 22 cabinets and 13 drawers.
(This is only half of it.  Also, how do you like that wood paneling?)

Needless to say, that was a decision I regretted the moment I emptied the final cabinet, but now everything is nice and neat and in a completely different place than it was 24 hours ago.  The timing wasn't the best because I left today for a 4 day business trip, so I hope Matt can find what he needs in there.

Before I hit the road today, I went to my parents' house today to check on Pearl while they were at work.  Two weeks ago, they brought home a calm, quiet, nervous little puppy.

And since then, you could say Pearl has turned into a bit of a wild woman.

I also had a Lean Cuisine for lunch at their house.  The directions on the box said to, "Place the flatbread on the revolutionary grilling tray."

Oh, so that's what we're calling cardboard boxes now, Lean Cuisine?  How fancy.

I got to my hotel around dinnertime tonight, so I ordered takeout from the Chili's right next door and went over to pick it up. Since I was only going to the pickup window, I wore a few pieces of apparel from my relaxation collection.

That's a fancy way of saying yoga pants and a hoodie.  I'm taking a page out of Lean Cuisine's book.

Unfortunately, there was a sign at the take out window that said, "Takeout customers - please see bartender."

Even more unfortunately, not only is tonight the first night of the Pennsylvania Farm Show which happens to be in this town, but also the college football championship.  The bar was packed with farmhands and sports fans.

The bartender asked my name and then went to get my order.  And when I say she came back with my bag of food, I don't mean a tiny, ladylike, there's-probably-a-small-salad-in-here-at-most bag.  I mean a Chili's SHOPPING BAG.

The container of food was huge.  For scale, here it is next to my laptop.

I think maybe tomorrow I'll just buy a Lean Cuisine and microwave it in my room.  With the revolutionary grilling tray.

While wearing my relaxation apparel.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Well, it's a new year, and around here we are walking New Year's stereotypes.  We've been drinking fruit and veggie smoothies for breakfast, systematically de-cluttering the house, going to bed earlier, and we joined a gym.

Actually Matt joined the gym but has granted me guest privileges, but he isn't starting until Monday.


Because why start a new workout routine today when you can start on Monday?

Anyway, the fizziest drink around here on New Year's Eve was the Akla Seltzer Plus Cold tablet Matt dropped in his water before dinner.  And then, he dramatically held up another tablet and said, "How much would you pay me to just eat this straight, without dissolving it in water?"

First of all, we share a bank account, so I would pay exactly zero dollars to watch Matt ingest an Alka Seltzer tablet.

Second of all, can you say wild partiers?

We did rally and had a fancy dinner and some fun snacks while we waited for 2017 to arrive.

On my last day of vacation, I met Stacy for coffee.  We hadn't seen each other in a while, so we caught up on all the goings-on and then before I knew it, we were talking about what grocery stores have the best prices on meat.

I guarantee you that's not the conversation we would have been having the morning after New Year's Eve 8 years ago.

My Christmas break ended with an unbelievable spring-like day, so I had no other option but to go for a long walk at my favorite place.

I hope to log a bunch more walks here in 2017.

When I'm not at the gym, of course.