Friday, March 31, 2017

cesar millan, what do you think of this pearl?

My mom has always liked to share her "pearls of wisdom" with my siblings and me, little life tips that she wants to pass along to us.  Some of her classic pearls are: don't put wooden salad bowls in the dishwasher or you will ruin them, don't ever buy store brand mayonnaise, you gotta look out for number one, and nothing good happens after 11 pm on a Tuesday.

Now, Mom (and Dad) have a different kind of Pearl in their life.

My dad was traveling yesterday so I stopped home to let Pearl out for a bit, and I got to see firsthand their current attempts at keeping Pearl off of the furniture: balloons and chafing trays.

(Pearl looks totally unimpressed.)

This particular Pearl of mom's is a bit of a challenge.

But she sure is cute.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

day in the life - prepare to be underwhelmed

Some of my favorite posts to read are day in the life posts, because I guess I'm nosy.  At work a few weeks ago we had to do a time study exercise and record our day in 15 minute increments and I LOVED IT.  So I figured I'd do a day in the life post, even though no one except maybe my sister will find it interesting.

I picked a day and took photos a few weeks ago, forgot about it, and when I got around to writing the post, I could not remember one thing I did that day.  Did you listen to the first season of the Serial podcast, when Sarah Koenig asks high school students to account for their whereabouts on a day in the recent past?

That was me.  I hadn't the foggiest recollection.

So, I decided to do a second take on Thursday.

I should start by saying that my job is unique in that I have a home-based position, but I supervise 12 people in three different offices, so I travel to those offices 3-4 times a week, and work from home the other days.  I can make my own schedule, which I like, but last Thursday I unintentionally scheduled three different meetings in three different offices, so it was a busier day than most.

Matt usually leaves for work before me, and kisses me goodbye and always says something when he leaves-- I just never know what it's going to be.  Sometimes it's a joke, sometimes it's sweet, sometimes it's "you kind of hogged the bed last night and kicked your socks off on my side."  On this day it was the inspirational message to "cherish today, live for tomorrow," said in a very dramatic voice.

I always say "Have a great day" in as cheerful a voice as I can muster at that hour and act like I'm going to hop right out of bed but then I continue to lay there/go back to sleep for anywhere from 2-60 minutes.

On this day it was only 2 minutes because I had an early morning.  I showered and then drank my coffee while I did my makeup, listened to a podcast, and made the bed.

(Side note, we got new coffee this week and when Matt was making it the night before, he looked at the bag and said,  "Well I guess I like my coffee like I like my women - rich, complex, and full-bodied."  I laughed for ten hours at that.)

Then I headed to the kitchen to make a smoothie and pack my lunch.  My smoothie doesn't ever look one bit appetizing but it tasted good and made me feel healthy and I suppose it's better than the Oreo and peanut butter I regularly enjoyed for "breakfast" from the years of 2011-2014.

I left my house at 7:30 and got to the office at 8:15.  The meeting was at 8:30, and was only about 20 minutes, so I chatted with the paralegals there for a few minutes and hit the road for my next meeting at about 9:15.  I also stopped for gas because why get gas in advance when you can wait for that handy light to come on?

I got to that office around 10:00.  Please meet my favorite elevator.

I left there at 12:30, ate my lunch quickly in my car in the parking lot, and headed to the third office.  I got there at 1:30, met with two paralegals, and did a little work in an empty cubicle before leaving at 4:00.

I'd filled my water bottle up before I left the office, put it in my cup holder, and evidently made a wild turn out of the parking garage because it went flying across the car, totally soaked the passenger seat, and despite the fact that I grab handfuls of napkins whenever I stop for food, all I could find was one measly paper towel.

On the way home I got a call from a paralegal at the first office and had to pull over and make a few phone calls regarding that, so I got back on the road at 4:20.

Luckily traffic wasn't too bad, and I got home around 5:20.  Since I spend so much time in the car I listen to podcasts and talk radio in addition to music, and the evening drive talk radio host is my favorite.  I got the red light at my favorite tree, so that was a nice treat.  I love this tree.  Does everyone have a favorite tree on their commute?  No?  Just me?

If you're keeping track that was 3.5 hours in the car, so I was happy to get home and OUT OF IT.  Although I went back out with a towel and tried to sop up what I could of the water.

For dinner I made this Hello Fresh recipe.  We ordered Hello Fresh for a few weeks using some coupons and a free trial, and we LOVED it, but it was too expensive to keep up.  So last week, I discovered that they post all of their recipes on their website.  I picked five for the week, bought ingredients at the grocery store, and we still had a delicious dinner every night for a fraction of the price!

We ate dinner when Matt got home, let the chickens out, and went for a walk.  The rest of the night was rather uneventful - I did some laundry, read my book, and we watched a documentary on string theory.  Believe it or not I felt dumber at the end of the documentary than I did at the beginning.

 I'm glad there are people in the world who understand string theory, but I'm going to stick to other challenging things like remembering to put the lid on my water bottle.

Monday, March 27, 2017

would anyone like a martini? or several hundred feet of cable?

Matt texted me on Friday morning and asked if I wanted to go to Bonefish Grill for dinner to use a gift card we got for Christmas, and I told him I was all in.

He texted back, "Okay, I'll make a reservation. Is 6:00 too late?"

We're old.

After work we headed out, and as we drove around the corner, Matt slowed the truck down and pulled over to where a Comcast workman was standing by a telephone pole.  He rolled the window down and called out to the workman, "Let me ask you a question, do you guys get rid of those wooden cable spools when you're done?"

The workman paused for a few minutes, sized us up, and then said, "Yeah.  You want this one?"

Comcast has been working in our neighborhood for about a month installing new cable lines, and Matt said he'd been eyeing up the cable spools for weeks because he thought it would be cool to make one into an outdoor table.  

Before I knew it, Matt was out of the truck, the man was showing us the new wires, and then the two of them were loading the giant wooden spool, CABLE AND ALL, into the bed of the pickup.   

The workman asked us if we lived in the neighborhood and when we said yes, just a few houses down, he said, "Good.  Let's get this in, and then get out."

I've never felt more daring as we drove the 1000 feet back to our house to unload the cable spool, which is now on our back patio and looking a whole lot bigger than it did when it was laying next to the telephone pole.

We made it back to Bonefish for dinner and had a delicious meal and a wonderful time.  I ordered a Wild Orchid Hawaiian martini, and it came with an actual orchid in it.  As I admired the cocktail, Matt said, "You know, my grandfather is responsible for bringing edible orchids to the area."

Matt's grandfather, and later his dad, owned a produce business for many years.  Every morning they would fill their trucks with fruits and veggies from the produce market in South Philadelphia, and then deliver the produce to restaurants all over the area.  For this reason Matt is very particular about produce and I will never forget the first time we went grocery shopping together and he began enthusiastically slapping the watermelons.

Anyway, he told me that his grandfather was the one who encouraged restaurants to start using edible orchids in drinks and on cakes, and therefore deserves full credit for the popularity of the edible orchid in the Philadelphia culinary scene.

I'm not so sure I completely believe that, but what I am sure about is that the first cocktail I have at the new cable spool patio table better have an orchid in it.

(They see me rollin'...)

Friday, March 24, 2017

i hope this doesn't go on my performance review

Happy Friday.  May everyone's weekend start with a cocktail with a flower in it.

I'm always ready for the work week to end, but some weeks more than others.  This week was a good one, with one small exception.

I am on the newsletter committee for my company, which basically means that my English degree is pretty much paying for itself once per quarter.

The newsletter is called The Resource.  I had been communicating about my article with the woman in charge, who happens to be an executive at our company, via an email thread with the subject "March The Resource" Assignments.

Several emails in, I got a response back from her with a rather shocking subject line.  I couldn't believe it when I saw it, and thought, wow, I can't believe she used AY-ESS-ESS in the subject line.

And then I scrolled down to see the last email that I sent, and realized that I WAS THE ONE WHO CHANGED THE SUBJECT LINE.

To this:

I can only blame that unfortunate typo to a new laptop and a keyboard I am still getting the hang of.  After I died of embarrassment, I decided that the next step was to do what any professional woman would do.

I changed the subject line back, pretended like it never happened, and requested PTO for Monday.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

things around here are just ducky

I work in an office a few days a week that I share with three other people.  There are two desks and one computer, and while the math doesn't really add up, it works out because we are all in and out on various days and are hardly ever all there at the same time.

My office mates are lawyers.  I am not a lawyer.  I just play one at work.  That is a joke!  I do not play a lawyer at work!  As a paralegal I've been through enough ethics classes to know that there is an entire section in the Crimes Code dedicated to non-lawyers practicing law.  I also know that I prefer to live in my house and not the county jail so I do not ever give legal advice.

But, because the four of us are in and out, and because lawyers review lots of paperwork, other staff in our office leave things on the desks all the time.  When we come in we either (a) don't know what is meant for us, or (b) assume someone else has already dealt with it.  That highly efficient process meant that by yesterday the office was in major need of some spring cleaning.
I organized a bunch of paper, and also found the following:

- A box of Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies from last year 
- An old Saladworks container, with, I'm sorry to say, what used to be salad in it
- Rubber bands that were so old and dry that they lost all rubbery qualities and fell apart.
- A strand of Christmas lights
- A luggage tag
- A 2015 calendar
- This fork

After I cleared out all the random junk, I decided that I would make piles on the floor for the paperwork, and separate it by categories.  As I knelt down to add some things to the "can this be shredded?" pile, I felt something go awry on my left side, from the top of my hip to the tips of my toes.  I didn't notice it much the rest of the day as I moved around and organized, but when I sat down in my car to drive home, well, I NOTICED IT.

I've been noticing it since then and let's just say I contemplated bringing my very own seat cushion to Citizen's Police Academy last night.

I left the office yesterday and hit quite a bit of traffic because the EZ-Pass express lanes at a busy turnpike interchange are closed for a few weeks.  Even though I get on at the previous entrance, traffic has still been slower than usual this week.  

Traffic was inching along and then suddenly came to a complete stop, and I heard a lot of honking up ahead.  There was a tractor trailer ahead of me in the center lane and one beside me, so I couldn't see what was causing the problem.  After a few minutes, my lane started moving, and I saw a red Honda Civic in the right lane, in park, with no driver in the car.  And then I noticed a man in a suit running back to the Civic from the shoulder.  His car looked fine, aka not on fire, which is the only reason I'd get out of my car on arguably the busiest stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike during heavy rush hour traffic.  

And it was then that I noticed a duck waddling down the shoulder of the turnpike.  And not just any duck, but a HUGE white duck.

It was like a real life Aflac commercial.

Maybe I should've pulled over and asked about worker's comp options for my on the job leg injury.

Monday, March 20, 2017

sibling rivalry

Let's kick the new week off with a little competition.  My brother and I followed the photo prompts from this photographer's website all week, and now we're going to put our photos to a vote.  Check out the pics below and vote for your favorite, 1 or 2.  

Winner gets all the money I make from this blog.  

So, absolutely nothing.



In Motion






Off Center




Here's the wrap-up.  What do you think, 1 or 2?


Thursday, March 16, 2017

coming to you live from the place where winter never ends

Well the theme of the last few days around here is snow.  Emily was home on spring break last week and I took Friday off so that we could hang out.  Unfortunately, we had a little morning snowstorm.  If there is even a hint of winter precipitation in the air, I don't like to drive, but luckily the storm ended around lunchtime.  Because Mother Nature is crazy and it was  60 degrees the day before, the roads were warm enough that the snow didn't even stick.

I picked Emily up and we went to Corner Bakery for lunch, and then decided to do some shopping at Primark.  I decided that despite the snowy weather, I was in the mood for some springtime accessories and picked out this baseball cap and sunglasses for LESS THAN FOUR AMERICAN DOLLARS.

I tried them on and asked Em to take a photo discreetly, and she looked at me and said, "Well, there is NOTHING discreet about you right now."

We wandered to the shoe department and these caught my eye.  "I might get a pair," I said to Emily, "aren't they cute?" "Well," she said, "they're...leopard." In Emily's terms that's a hard no, so I passed.

Instead I picked out a pair of sporty sneakers, and she said, "Well, there is no way your othotics will ever fit in those."

So, we walked over to the makeup section and I said I'd like to find a new lip gloss. "Ehh," Emily said, "lip gloss really isn't 'in' anymore."

The moral of this story is, if you want to simultaneously feel very old while not spending any money, go shopping with Emily.

Just when Friday's snow started to melt, we got hit with another storm Monday night.

There is nothing Matt likes more than a snowstorm.  He tracked the radar all weekend long and kept me posted with periodic updates.  He knows the names of all the radar models and throws around terms like the NAM and the Euro like he's Jim Cantore.  When he got home on Monday evening, he walked straight to the big back window in the kitchen, looked out, and said, "Yep, there they are.  Just as I expected."

"There what are?"  I asked.

"The high level clouds I've been waiting for."

After dinner Matt did some snow prep, which involved bringing wood inside for the fireplace and using the word "rations" in conversation and without irony. He also did some work on the chicken coop that involved tarps, plywood, and a nail gun.  We are officially those neighbors.

The meteorologists predicted a foot and a half of snow, and, true to form, we ended up with about 7 inches due to the snow "underperforming."

Whatever the storm's performance, I got a snow day out of it, and an out of town work trip was canceled, so I was a happy camper this week.

And now, I'm ready for spring.

I even have the appropriate accessories.

Monday, March 13, 2017

what i read this month

I'm linking up with Steph and Jana today for their monthly book post.  It's a fun way to share what you've been reading and get ideas to add to your list!

First up for me this month is In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.  
I feel like I'm the last person on earth to read this book, but in case anyone hasn't read it, I don't want to spoil it.  So I will just say this: I couldn't go to bed on Saturday night until I'd finished it, which meant I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading.  Our kitchen is an addition off the back of our house, with a LOT of windows, and when I went up to bed I was too scared to walk into the kitchen and past all those dark windows to turn the dishwasher on.  Read it, but not late at night.  Because then you might not have any clean plates or coffee cups the next morning.

Next up is a book by Aimee Bender, called An Invisible Sign of My Own.  

This book was good, but in a weird way.  Or weird, but in a good way.  Either way I felt like I knew what to expect because I'd read another book by this author, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which was also a good-weird.  I know this type of book isn't for everyone, but give it a try if you like slight suspension of disbelief, unique plots, and quirky but troubled characters.     

I also read another thriller, No One Knows by J.T. Ellison. 

 I really liked it. The book was 368 pages long, and on about page 362 I still had no idea how the author was going to manage to tie everything together by the end.

The last book I read was Spring Fever by Marykay Andrews.  

This was the second book I read by her, and I LOVED it.  It was lighter than the thrillers for sure, but not so cheesy that it didn't make me think.  I loved the main character, there were some interesting twists and turns and the end was a total shocker.  The thrift store was having the 25 cent book sale a few weeks ago and I got several more Marykay Andrews books and I can't wait to read them!

That's it for me this month!  Have you read any of these, or do you have anything I should add to my library list?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

our first two weeks of Citizen's Police Academy

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Matt and I had signed up for the Citizen's Police Academy in our town, and we got "accepted" (I think the bar was very low).  I put the initials C.P.A. from 7-9 on Wednesdays on my work Outlook calendar, which my boss has access to.  I have some out of town meetings this week, and I didn't request a hotel room for Wednesday night.  The administrative assistant who handles hotel reservations emailed me and my boss last week and said "I just want to confirm that Laura doesn't need a room for Wednesday night."

My boss emailed me and said, "I'll let you respond to Maryedna's email, but I assume you don't need a room because I see on your calendar you have a meeting with your CPA that night."


Or a meeting of the Citizen's Police Academy.

I was afraid we would be the only people there.

I was wrong.  There are 35 people in our class, and there are even other young couples just like us. 

Three minutes into our first class I began mentally drafting my resignation letter to my boss in order to pursue my newly realized dream of becoming a police officer. The dream last approximately four minutes until they told us the physical requirements for women in my age bracket.

Oh Laura Darling, OUT.

I managed to enjoy the rest of the class, despite accepting the fact that I would be a paralegal forever, and we learned all sorts of things.  We live in a fairly large suburb outside of Philadelphia and I learned that our police department is the second largest in the county, with 96 officers. 

We also learned that the busiest hours for police here is from 12 pm to 9 pm.  I always assumed that the busiest time is the middle of the night due to all of the burglaries and kidnappings, but apparently that doesn't really happen here.

All I legitimately have to fear at night is my shower caddy.

The officer teaching the class asked us if we'd ever had to call the police out to our homes, and what were the qualities that we appreciated in the responding officers?

There were many stories of medical emergencies, car break-ins, fires, etc.  Matt was dying for me to raise my hand and tell everyone about the time I called the police because a wire in our yard was hanging low, and the police came out just to tell me that Verizon was doing work on their lines in our neighborhood.

It was an embarrassing experience, but I did appreciate the quality that the officers DID NOT MAKE ME FEEL LIKE AN IDIOT.

We got a behind the scenes tour of the police station this past Wednesday, our third wedding anniversary.  If you told me on March 8, 2014, while I ate fancy food and wore the most beautiful gown and rode in a limousine and felt like I was living a fairy tale that I'd spend March 8, 2017 touring the local police station FOR FUN, I wouldn't have believed you.

But there we were, in the cell block, at the fingerprint station, and touring the mugshot setup, which was admittedly very interesting.

I did struggle to keep my composure in the cell block though because the officer was telling us about career criminals.  And he kept using the word "burgle" as a verb.  As in "We do run into some career criminals.  They get out of jail and go right back to burgling.  That's just what they do.  They burgle."

I was literally biting my lip not to laugh.

I've since googled the word "burgle" and learned that while burglarize is the more commonly accepted term in the US of A, burgle is not technically incorrect. 

This week was also the week where Matt decided to share his law enforcement knowledge with the rest of the class.  He kept a low profile the first week, but didn't hold back this week.  I half expected the lieutenant to give him a taser and an honorary badge on our way out.

The officer asked the two times when people are most likely to run from cops. Matt knew: when they are being handcuffed, and when they are being taken out of the car at the station. 

He asked the one time when a juvenile can be kept in a jail cell.  Matt knew: when they are being charged as an adult for their crime.

He asked the names of the police officers assigned to the local high school AND MATT KNEW THEIR NAMES EVEN THOUGH HE HASN'T BEEN IN HIGH SCHOOL IN A DECADE.

We have class again this Wednesday and it's all about K-9 units.  It will all be news to me, but it won't surprise me at all if Matt already knows some of the commands.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

the traditional three year gift isn't diamonds, but i'm not about to complain about my new necklace

When it was time for me to enter the real world and get up and go to work each day, one of my least favorite parts was scraping the ice off of my car windows every morning in the winter.

When Matt and I got married and moved to a condo, I mentioned to Matt, several months into winter, that the sun must be stronger at our new place because I hadn't had to scrape ice off my windows at all that winter.

And that's when he said, "That's because I've been scraping them every morning."

Well, wow.  He did that lousy chore for me, every single morning, and NEVER ONCE mentioned it to me for thanks or credit.

Yesterday we celebrated our third wedding anniversary and I am here to report that since March 8, 2014 I have never once scraped ice off my car windows.

For that reason, and a million more, he's a keeper.

   Also, we spent the evening at the police station.  That's a story for another day!

Monday, March 6, 2017

pearls of wisdom. or...something

Last week was not my favorite in the work department.  On Thursday morning I sat in my car in the parking garage for a few minutes willing myself to actually walk into the office.  And then I got out, and was standing at the passenger side of the car getting my laptop bag and coffee, and it was so windy that the car door blew into my head.

I literally saw stars.

My first thought was I'M BEING MUGGED but after I remembered it was an especially blustery day, I just headed into the office and thought "please, get me to the weekend."

I did indeed make it to the weekend, and it was a busy one.  Friday was Matt's birthday, Saturday I had a bridal shower, then Matt's parents came over for dinner, and on Sunday we had my family over for a birthday brunch for my dad.

You can see Annie was feeling especially crazy.

Speaking of craziness and Sundays, last Sunday my parents went to visit Emily at college so I was in charge of watching Pearl.

Pearl is now four months old and let me tell you, she is a wild thing.  She eats your shoes, both while they are off AND while they are still very much on your feet.

She bounds through the pond without a care.

And she would rather eat her bed than sleep in it.

My mom and I frequently walk at a local trail after work, and now Pearl has joined our walking club.  She has never met a person she doesn't ABSOLUTELY ONE HUNDRED AND TEN PERCENT LOVE and practically hops on her hind legs across the path to get to someone.  You can almost hear her saying, "PET ME, PET ME, OH PLEASE PET ME."

It's a little embarrassing.

She graduated from puppy kindergarten a few weeks ago and immediately took a giant bite out of the bottom corner of her diploma, which is proudly hanging on the fridge at my parents' house.

It reminds me of my junior year of high school when they would hang my D+ physics homework on the fridge.

I wouldn't say they were proud of the D+, but when it comes to physics, everything is relative.

(Get it?)

(Just a little physics humor.)

(And that's why I became an English major).

Anyway, the only time Pearl is somewhat calm is when it's time to go in her crate.  Then she flattens herself completely against the ground, and shimmies along the ground to her crate.

I can't tell you how much time I spent luring her into her crate with a pieces of hot dog last Sunday.

Maybe I'm the crazy one.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

the tale of the cracked drip pan

When we were cooking breakfast on Saturday, the fridge made a strange noise.  It kind of clanked for a minute and then we heard the sound of streaming water.

Matt and I dealt with it in our typical fashions: I turned up the music because I employ the same "if you can't hear the weird noise it's not happening" strategy in my car and it works just fine.  Meanwhile Matt pulled the fridge away from the wall to check for leaks and then got out the owner's manual.

After a few minutes we chalked it up to a fluke and went on with our lives.  Later that afternoon I ran to the grocery store and called Matt to ask what kind of fruit cups he wanted, and he said "peaches in sugar-free strawberry gel, but I gotta go, the fridge is leaking a lot."

It took me a minute to process the leaking fridge because I was trying to wrap my mind around his request of peaches in sugar-free strawberry gel.  But things really sunk in when I got home and saw a vast array of tools on the kitchen floor, a pool of water, and no Matt.

I figured he'd gone to the hardware store because desperate times call for a trip to Lowe's, and judging by the fact that the hunting knife he uses to clean pheasants was lying on the floor beside the oven, it seemed to be a desperate time.

He got home a few minutes later with a fix for the problem, which was a cracked drip pan.  I half-halfheartedly offered assistance, and when he didn't jump right on my offer I did what any wise wife would do and got the heck out of dodge.

I decided to go to the library and then for a walk around the grounds of a local cathedral and some old estates because one of us should be able to relax on a Saturday afternoon.

It was a nice day and I spent the time imagining that the rich people who lived in those mansions probably never had to worry about a cracked drip pan or be humbled by the amount of dust that gathers behind the fridge that you don't think about until you have to move it.

When I got home from my walk, the fridge was fixed and the kitchen was back in order.

So I guess our own little castle isn't so bad after all.