Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy 100th post!

Happy Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and happy 100th post.

Who knew when I started this little project last year that 100 posts later, I'd be a whole lot happier, stronger and have had some pretty neat adventures along the way?

Stay tuned for what promises to be an equally exciting 2010.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

A list ...

In no particular order, this is a list I made on Friday of all of the things that I need to do before Christmas, or more properly, before my mom gets here ...

- clean the bathroom
- scrub the kitchen floor
- clean the oven
- finish (AND PUT AWAY) all of the laundry
- dust
- vacuum
- finish putting up the Christmas decorations
- finish Christmas shopping
- finish the cross-stitch that I 'gave' her for her birthday
- teach the dog to stop barking at *everything*
- buy cat food
- take back the two presents that I bought, not knowing that the gift recipient already had the item in question
- finish sorting out the gift for people at work
- bake something for the treat exchange at work

In no particular order, here's what I accomplished this weekend ...

- checked Facebook about a million times
- answered my work phone about two million times
- watched a ridiculous amount of cheesy television
- waded through a million feet of snow to take Hadley out, who was potentially even less excited about the snow than I was
- spent several hours trolling Realtor.com looking at houses (yay!)
- after buying groceries on Friday evening, managed to cook absolutely nothing except toast.

(Um, that's right ... in case you were keeping track, I did nothing from the list. Absolutely nothing, except for the one load of laundry that's currently in the washer. I did buy dog food, but neglected to buy cat food.)

Ugh. Lots to do this week, apparently.




Friday, December 18, 2009

Amazing.

I had a seriously, insanely, ridiculously, beautifully amazing day at work today. Shockingly amazing. Outstandingly amazing.

Yeah. Amazing.

Things like this don't happen to regular people, you know? Wow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cheers ...

A few cheers for things that have made me smile in the past few days:

- shopping with Robin. The shopping was questionable at best, but the visiting was terrific.
- clear skies (and roads) for my trip back from shopping; last year's trip was a harrowing three hours over horribly iced-over roads.
- sleeping in this morning until almost 11 a.m. Decadent! Unheard of!
- phone calls from people who are not
a) telemarketers,
b) debt collectors wishing to speak to 'Warren Saunders' (seriously, dude, get yourself together!),
c) debt collectors wishing to speak to 'Tina Bankston' (Tina, see previous), or
d) people who work for me calling at 0-dark-thirty in the morning, bothering me with nonsense.
- my dad's Christmas tree
- the fall finale of Glee, which was awesome
- my Christmas tree, which my angelic cat did not bother at all while left home alone for two days

Things that will hopefully make me happy in the next several days:

- my nail place being open tomorrow, as they were unexpectedly not open this afternoon, and being able to get myself all primped and polished before Wednesday
- the dress I ordered arriving *on time* tomorrow, and fitting perfectly
- finding a black leather clutch handbag somewhere tomorrow or Tuesday
- wearing said dress and carrying said bag to a fancy-schmancy dinner on Wednesday, and looking, if not stunning, at least clean and presentable
- finding espresso powder so that I can make this for Christmas Eve
- figuring out a *genius* gift for my brother. Feel free to send suggestions.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas cuteness


I'm not feeling very Christmassy, and I'm hoping that's going to improve, but still ... it's just not happening so far.

However, I do have a Christmas tree, and it's a very pretty one (which I swear I'm going to put ornaments on. Tomorrow.), replete with lights and a lovely tree skirt. Before the lights, though, the cat had a good time checking it out.

Aw. Cats doing sort-of-bad thing are cute.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Great Rice Crispy Adventure of 2009


Regular people make rice crispy bars for their family. Mildly crazy people make rice crispy bars for staff at 11 group homes, on three separate shifts ... and a couple extra pans for the admin buildings -- 36 batches in total, in case you were counting. Since this was such a wacky way to spend a Sunday, I've chronicled the experience ... just in case you thought you needed a rice crispy bar fix.
First, the shopping experience ...

I'd been warned that the supermarket might not take kindly to
my photographic exploits, so I was totally slick with my phone. No one cared.


For the record, my shopping cart does not typically have that many bags of marshmallows in it ...


The goods. At home. It looks dramatic -- 'cause it was.


Just so you have a reference of the exact height of the pile o' cereal, Mousse thought he'd help ...



Yeah. It's still a lot of cereal.







Okay, okay -- on to the fun part. When regular people make rice crispy bars, these are the necessary ingredients:

What? You don't use
a whole stick
of butter?

You're missing out. Seriously.


For a while, it got a little sticky. Pretty much everything stayed in the pot ... yay for enameled cast iron!



Okay -- there was actually some progression from one pot to 36 pans. But you get the idea ...



36 pans of rice crispy bars later. Cost for all this marshmallow-y goodness? $105, including the foil pans, cereal, butter and marshmallows.


36 pans of rice crispy bars, packaged for work on Monday?


Priceless.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

And how.

There was pie. Lots and lots of pie. In fact, I may begin going into withdrawal once the last two pieces that managed to find their way into my fridge are gone.

We had pumpkin, pecan, a really delicious apple pie, and then the really spectacular parts (though I think the apple gets to go on that list ... ) -- a bourbon-pumpkin cheesecake with a really amazing pecan crust, and a Rum Cream Pie.

The Rum Cream Pie was straight out of the Colonial Williamsburg Cookbook, and is obviously not a 'new' sort of recipe -- there's a reason that things get handed down from generation to generation; this thing was incredible! Light, creamy and holy rum, Batman! This is a keeper, and thanks very much to C.'s family for hooking us up.

But -- pie aside, it was really wonderful to see my O'cousins, and to have all of us together at Grandma's house. I hope we can get together on another happy occasion again soon.

Also -- a shout out about New Moon, which was shockingly not-bad. Its predecessor having been so, well, laughably terrible, I wasn't expecting much (save of course for Taylor Lautner's ridiculously age-inappropriate body), and I was pleasantly surprised. I'd also like to say that the Regal Cinema at Snowden Square in Columbia, MD is about the worst organized movie theater I've ever been to. Damn, man -- get it together.

So, what am I up to now? Two things.

The Great Rice Crispy Bar Adventure of 2009 started today, and pictures are forthcoming.

Second, I'll be counting the minutes till I can make this for Christmas Eve dessert.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Time for pie.

The facts of the case:

- It is almost Thanksgiving.
- Pie is an important staple of my family's holiday gatherings.
- I *love* to bake.
- We're eating Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant and dessert at home -- pie will be the only homemade part of the holiday celebration.
- I like to show off with baked goods (just a little).

Verdict?

It's time for pie. Seriously.

So far, the plan includes a traditional pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie and a Rum Cream pie, 'cause that's something C's family makes, and it sounds pretty awesome (rum? heavy cream? sugar? buttery graham cracker crust? what's not to like?!).

Here's my dilemma. There are (only) 11 people attending this holiday extravaganza, and I've already got four pies in planning stages -- and I really want to make a pumpkin-bourbon cheesecake, too.

I feel like that scary skinny blond lady from the early 90s is going to pop out and tell me to 'stop the insanity' but since there won't be any real-food leftovers, how terrible would it be to send everyone home with some dessert for later?

I'm thinking extra foil pie plates for take-home slices, and perhaps this gem, as well.

And -- if you're going to be in central Jersey, and in need of dessert on Thursday, let me know. :)


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wild turkeys.

This isn't *exactly* what I saw this morning, 'cause there was no field or grass on I-95 near the Philadelphia Airport ... but it's a pretty good approximation.

Wild turkeys. Fighting. On the side of 95 northbound, right by the airport.

I'm shocked that there weren't any accidents, with everyone whipping their heads around to see the turkeys.

Crazy.

Incidentally, I'm fond of wild turkeys as a species; there was a flock in Brown Co., IN, and when I was doing a lot of driving back and forth to North Vernon, I'd see them pretty consistently, and was always glad they stayed nicely in the fields.


two young male wild turkeys fighting


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Feverish ...

No, not the Phillies pursuit of a repeat World Series victory (though I will be watching off and on tonight, and hoping for a Game 7). Ask me why I care -- seriously. It's a great story.

Me. I'm feverish. It seems to be coming and going -- 100 degrees on Monday, fine yesterday, sick overnight, rallied for work from 11 - 5, and then 100 degrees at the end of the day. By the time I got home, around six, it was 97.8, which is just a tiny bit above where I usually run.

For goodness' sake.

So, I'm pushing fluids, taking a homeopathic flu/cold remedy, and hoping that I'll kick whatever this is that's haunting me in the next 12 hours.

In the meantime, I have visions of rice crispy treats dancing in my head. Can someone please bring these over?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Haven't had much to say -- or perhaps have had plenty to say, but no time to say it ...

Here's a few highlights from the past couple weeks:

- Finished my 2009 Breast Cancer 3-Day experience, happy, strong and only a little wet and cold. Sadly, days 1 and 2 were canceled due to the Nor'easter that whipped through the Mid-Atlantic, but the 3-Day spirit would not be dampened.

- Went to my first family wedding of my generation. Congrats to my cousin Marc & my new cousin-in-law Mallery. The bride (and the groom) and the wedding were beautiful. Happy honeymoon, kids!

- Thanksgiving planning with the fam. Think that we'll have all the O'Cousins together for the first time in five or so years. Should be good -- but perhaps a little crowded.

- Watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" I adore Peanuts specials, and only hope that they're still around when I have a child who might love them, too.

- Have (possibly) finally figured out Hadley's vomiting. After five days of vomit this time, I called *the best vet ever* and she was able to see us about 20 minutes later; she thinks he has pancreatitis, which apparently is common in Schnauzers.

- Am treating myself to professionally steam-cleaned carpets on Saturday (see previous reference to vomit). Happy Halloween to me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm just sayin'.

When even Deb is talking apple cider donuts, the Happy Valley is surely calling my name.

Counting down the days till Reunion. May 21 - 23, 2010. Where will *you* be?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On a day like this.

It was miserable out. 40 degrees, raining and windy. It was the kind of cold that bites into your bones, and doesn't do anyone's arthritis any favors.

But you wouldn't have known it -- 3000 3-Day walkers and 350 crew members, and boatloads of cheering fans made the city of Philadelphia warm as a tropical beach.

I may have had better days, but I'm hard pressed to think of one that's more meaningful or inspiring.

This photo is of the closing ceremony -- after all of the walkers and crew have entered the ceremony site, the survivors enter, and everyone holds up a shoe in tribute.

More to say about the experience in days to come, 'cause I'm drop-dead tired right now, but suffice to say that it was a spectacular event and I think I'm hooked. See you in 2010!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What it means ...

I think having the first two days of the 3-Day canceled was almost a blessing in disguise -- first, I will not catch pneumonia before Marc's wedding (that's good news!), and second, I think it gave all of the 3-Day participants an opportunity to remember that this wasn't about us, anyway.

2009 Philadelphia walkers collectively raised over $7.7 million to fight breast cancer. That's awesome -- and the funds aren't all in yet.

Many walkers headed to the malls and other indoor facilities to walk yesterday & today; they were damn sure that the weather wasn't going to ruin their experience.

I'm thrilled that we'll still get Day 3, and even more importantly, I'm thrilled to have been a part of this amazing collective. While there was a fair amount of whining, complaining and general mean-spiritedness expressed on some of the 3-Day message boards, the overwhelming sentiment has been, "hey -- we didn't do this for us. We did it to fight breast cancer."

Thanks to Susan G. Komen Foundation, over $1 billion has been invested in treatment, prevention and research of breast cancer since 1982.

You can count on the fact that I'll be back for more in 2010 -- and can't wait to experience the Philadelphia 3-Day in its entirety.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Heartbreaking ... and not.

So -- after 10 months of training, fundraising and general hard work, Mother Nature has decided that she had other plans for the weekend.

Day 1 and Day 2 of the 3-Day have been canceled. We're still walking on Sunday -- about 15 miles -- and still having the Closing Ceremonies.

I know that the event organizers made a gut-wrenching decision -- and I know that it was absolutely to ensure the safety of the participants, and I completely respect their decision, and know they made the right one -- but man, I am so horribly upset about it.

I committed to the 3-Day for so many reasons -- chief among them to prove to myself that I could do this. Walk 60 miles. Raise $2300. Train for 3/4 of a year. Sporty Spice I'm not, and very few people in my life would've thought that this would be something that I'd even *want* to do, let alone be able to do.

But I have. I've done it.

And now I can't do the walk.

But ...

I have still raised -- just me -- over $3200 to fight breast cancer, and to help support research, education and prevention.

I have still trained for 10 months, and have walked almost 1,000 miles in training since January 2, when I decided to do this.

And ...

I still don't have breast cancer.

And I guess I have some rainwear I can return.

Get your 3-Day weather forecast here!

It's almost here. T-13 hours from the time I'm posting this. I'll arrive (thanks to an incomprehensibly fabulous Cynthia) at Willow Grove Mall at 0600ish, and be on the 3-Day route around 0745, after crying my eyes out at the opening ceremony.

So that you can feel some of the experience with me, I want to share the meteorological predictions with you. Short version? Yeah, it's gonna be miserable.

Weather.com says ...

But no worries. I've got Techwick base layer garments, I've got PVC ponchos, I've got fleece and I've got GorTex. And, worst case scenario, I've got Cynthia's cell phone number, and cab fare to Josh's.

Most importantly?

I don't have breast cancer. A few days of chilly, wet weather (with 2000 other people who are chilly, wet and still cheerful) is nothing compared to surgery, radiation, chemo or the psychological effects for a survivor or her family. I will sail through this -- and if the thousands of people who do this year after year have anything to say about it -- it will change my life.

'Cause after all, a lifetime is worth walking for. Even in the rain. 3-Day, here I come!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rain, rain ...

go away!

The 3-Day is this weekend, and I just know that despite all of the nonsense I'm hearing on the news about coastal storms and a Nor'easter, we're going to have a beautiful, sunny weekend for walking!

It's almost here, and despite my cold, today's round of spine injections, and the dismal weather forecast, I'm so excited, and can't wait!

At least I won't have to worry about a sunburn!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy National Coming Out Day

Being free to tell your friends, family and anyone else who matters to you who you are and how you live your life is important.

Being free to be honest about your life and your intentions is important.

Being free to say what you need to say despite possible fear of repercussion is important.

To anyone who needs it, today or any other day, I wish the courage to be honest with the important people in your life, whether about your sexuality or any other aspect of yourself that you've felt obligated to keep closeted.

May you feel the love and support of your family and friends, and the feeling of freedom that comes along with honesty.

Happy National Coming Out Day.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Third time's a charm?

After having a couple rounds of transforaminal nerve blocks in August/September, I've still been having lots of trouble with my back -- which has not been great for my 3-Day training.

I had an MRI a couple weeks ago, and saw my pain management doc's nurse practitioner on Thursday, to get the results and hopefully a magical cure for the ridiculous back pain that's getting in the way of my life.

What she told me was that in fact I have a third herniated disc -- just above the other two that we've been treating for the past couple years.

Good news, I guess -- at least we know that it's not the first two discs that are causing all the trouble and not responding to treatment, but ugh: another disc? We're going to try another nerve block for the newly herniated disc (L3-L4) on Wednesday, and hopefully that will get me through the 3-Day, without too much trouble.

I do love the nurse practitioner -- she was super-helpful, and also told me that I was the only patient she had that was doing something as active as the 3-Day, and that my condition has the potential to produce much more serious pain than most of her patients who aren't getting out there and moving around. Good news there: I knew I was doing something great, but I didn't really know how much of an obstacle I was overcoming to do it. Cool.

After the 3-Day, I'm going to try another round of physical therapy -- in the water, this time. Hopefully, that'll help too.

But for now -- the 3-Day is in SIX DAYS!!! Please click on the widget at right to give if you haven't yet; this is a big thing I'm doing, and I definitely need all of your support.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I love my job.

Last week, I had the unpleasant task of terminating yet another employee. No matter what anyone says, I do *not* enjoy this part of my job. It's a necessary evil, and I've come to terms with it, but it's by no means a top-10 activity. Usually, though, the person being terminated a) kind of sees it coming, and b) wants to get out of the experience with a shred of dignity left.

Not so much last week. I met with the person, explained the performance problems and that I was unfortunately terminating her employment, and she went absolutely bonkers. Crying hysterically and screaming unintelligibly. Flailing her arms. Throwing herself on the floor and *grabbing my ankles.*

Please, please picture this.

It took absolutely every ounce of decency in me not to break out in hysterical laughter.

I did not, and as such, can still live with myself.

But seriously -- definitely on the list of "what not to do" if your employer tells you you're being let go.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lady Chablis

I've got the *most ridiculous story ever*, but I'll wait till Sunday to share it, 'cause I said I would.

However, in unrelated news, I had a shocking day yesterday.

My doorbell started ringing at about 7 a.m., which made the dog bark hysterically. I was certain that no one I knew could possibly be horrible enough to be waking me up the morning after the evening shift outing at 7 a.m. After trying to tell the person that was ringing my bell that they must have the wrong apartment, I went upstairs to explain that they had the wrong apartment.

I found my upstairs neighbor, who told me that my car had been broken into. Driver's side window smashed. In the spot directly in front of the door to the building, in front of windows into four people's homes. Ugh. Having not gotten home until about 1:30 that morning, it hadn't even been six whole hours since I'd been in my car.

Glass everywhere -- and my iPod (which was a gift, a long time ago, and which I'm very sad to be without), FM transmitter cable, and GPS were gone. The worst part? (Other than the broken window, the inconvenience, the fact that crime touched my very lovely condo neighborhood?)

I had actually remembered to put my GPS and iPod away. In the glove box. Which had also been jacked open & damaged. I almost never remember to do that. Ugh.

So -- called the police, who actually came out and fingerprinted my car (very CSI!), called the insurance company, called the auto-glass-repair place that we use at school. They didn't think they'd be able to get a Forester window for a couple days, and suggested that I call the dealership, so I did. Cleaned up what seemed like three windows' worth of glass, and took a bunch of junk out of my car.

One very windy drive to Newark later, I arrived at the dealership and talked to a very nice chick at the service counter, who asked if there was anything she could get me while I was waiting. Hmm. "Maybe I could see what's on the lot, while I'm here?" She was only too happy to get a salesman.

Now -- before I go any further, I want to make it clear that while I l-o-v-e, love my Subaru Forester, it's a 2001 with 155k miles, and burgeoning mechanical problems (check engine light, sunroof motor dead, occasional gear slipping, and a few other minor electrical things). So, I've been car-shopping in my head for a while, and even looked into the Cash for Clunkers thing (it wasn't a clunker).

I met Scott, who was the nicest, least sleazy car salesman I've ever met. We looked at a few things, he asked about what was most important to me (don't laugh: it's the heated seats), and what I was looking to spend. We test drove the most beautiful, brand-new Forester, though we both knew I couldn't afford it.

And then he showed me Lady Chablis.

Yeah, yeah, I'm a geek. But I'm a geek who bought a new car!

She's so pretty. 2008 champagne-colored Outback with ... seat warmers. And some other cool stuff like the Sport-Tronic transmission, and cool display panels with mpg, distance till fill-up, time since started, etc.

I told him that this might work -- if he could work out my trade and take care of the broken window, so I didn't have to deal with it. Smart girl, too -- 'cause the service counter chick came back and said it was going to cost about $1k to fix. It wasn't *just* the window -- it was the window motor and the door frame and the seals and a bunch of other stuff that was expensive.

So, I started the day with a broken window, and ended the day with a new car. Perhaps a bit of an overreaction to a broken window, but definitely better than spending $1k to fix a window on a car with 155k miles.

Definitely a day of turning lemons into lemonade. Or into Chablis, perhaps.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bread ...

I made zucchini bread (and posted the recipe -- see below) last week, and I've been eating pretty much nothing but toast for the last week or two, and the only thing that sounds good is crispy sandwiches fresh from the panini press (especially fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and a schmear of pesto) ...

Apparently, I'm needing just a little more yeast (and/or other leavenings, depending on the day) in my life.

  • This Ethiopian Honey Spice bread sounds spectacular, and you can be sure that it will be gracing a Dutch oven near me no later than this weekend.
  • This brioche looks like an adventure.
  • I'm making this. Right now. Well, maybe not *right* now, but soon.
On my mom's side of the family, we always joke that we haven't met a yeast product that we didn't like, which quickly leads to comments about the formidable (and inevitable) Choiniere butt ...

Maybe that's my fixation -- I've been trying to decide whether I'll be able to get to my cousin's wedding (the first wedding! Yay M. and M. ... also, yay M&Ms!), and sent the affirmative reply card back yesterday: I'm in.

Here's hoping for some of Grandma's sweet rolls while I'm out there.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend round-up

First of all, I can't believe how much darker it is, and how much earlier. Granted, I live *way* East, but still -- I was sitting here thinking it had to be at least 8, 8:30 -- and that was about an hour and a half ago, around 6:30. And the time change is still a long way off. Thanks, Congress.

While we're on the time-change-tangent, though, I always really missed the time change when I lived in Indiana (which, by the way, now changes with the rest of the Eastern time zone, though it should definitely be Central) -- and now, it feels like a hassle, and just one more thing to keep track of. Grass is always greener, I guess ...

Some happiness to end the week:

- Notre Dame pulled out a win over Purdue last night; 24-21, and it was a nail-biter.

- I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. (I might actually be more excited about that than about the Irish win ... don't tell.)

- The NYT magazine had this article on kids coming out earlier -- middle school and high school -- and it's pretty good news.

- If you haven't done it yet, you MUST try this recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Cake. My coworkers are going to enjoy it again tomorrow, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

- Ooh, and try this too, if you haven't already -- Villainess Soaps. So wonderful. I'm in love with Neisthai and Quick or Dead.

The walk is about 20 days away, and I'm starting to get nervous. My back is still not quite right (MRI scheduled for tomorrow morning, way too early), and I'm hoping I can get things straightened out before the walk. If not, well, I've raised the money, and I'm going to go and enjoy the experience. You can still donate -- click the widget on the right-hand side of the page.






Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ah, Saturday.

I can't think of the last time that I was so grateful to wake up at 0630 -- mostly because this morning, I realized that it was *Saturday* and I could go back to sleep guilt-free.

After a wonderful lie-in, I've had the sort of Saturday that gives a good name to all of them -- the weather was beautiful, everything was leisurely, there was an almost-nap this afternoon, and I'm rounding out the day with a little baking.

If you have any leftover zucchini -- or heck, if you just haven't gotten enough of the stuff this summer (which, I must confess, I never have done -- gotten enough of zucchini, that is) -- try my variation on many, many other zucchini bread recipes. Oh -- and also, try this chocolate cake; Nicole made it while I was in Bloomington, and it was fabulous. My co-workers raved when I brought it to work last week. Skip the chocolate chips & walnuts and go for chocolate frosting instead.

Never-Fail Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
a generous 3/4 c. oil
1 2/3 c. sugar (I like to mix white & brown or use turbinado)
2 c. shredded zucchini
1 tsp vanilla extract (Snell's good vanilla, preferably)
1 tsp almond extract
3 tsp cinnamon (I used pumpkin pie spice today. The batter tasted amazing.)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
3 c. flour (you can substitute 1 c. whole-wheat flour, but not more than that)

Beat eggs gently. Add oil, sugar & extracts and mix well.

Combine dry ingredients -- or heck, do what I do: add the spices & leavenings to the wet ingredients, and then add the flour by half-cupfuls, mixing as you go. I'm a little bit of a quick-bread renegade, I know.

Pour batter into two bread pans (I have one that's an 8" and one that's a 9" -- it works) that have been greased & floured.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes -- check for doneness, and bake until a toothpick comes out clean (anywhere from 50 - 65 minutes, depending on your oven, and the water content of your zucchini). Cool on racks. This freezes well, but your co-workers would really enjoy that 2nd loaf ...

What else?

Well, I bought my last pair of 3-Day shoes today (Nike Zoom Vomero 4s -- alas, another pair of pink & silver shoes ... they're SO comfy, though!), and finally, dropped off all of my winter dry cleaning -- it's almost sweater-weather, after all. When I arrived at the dry cleaner, there was a man standing in the doorway, having a tantrum about not being able to have his polo shirts laundered for the price of a regular men's dress shirt. Hey mister -- have your tantrum elsewhere! I have thirty sweater-sets in need of dry-cleaning!

Enjoy the zucchini bread. And do not mock the sweater sets.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Too tired ...

to post anything of value, except to say that I think I may have missed my calling as an interior designer ... for group homes.

If I see another throw pillow again, or have to hang another piece of art, I may vomit (in lovely neutrals and earth tones, so as not to detract from the ambience I've worked all week to create).

Guh.

Am suffering from walking setbacks, both in the form of working 12 hour days, and from having ridiculous back pain. Double guh.

Am going to go enjoy a vodka & Vicodin cocktail now, and figure out what to wear tomorrow.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yuppie heaven.

I shopped at two of my three holy-trinity-of-yuppiness-stores this afternoon/evening, and just to round out the day, I did spend quite a while wandering around Barnes & Noble.

What's the holy trinity of yuppie shopping, you ask? I suppose it depends on the area and the social mobility of said yuppies, but in my little world, it's Trader Joe's, Target and IKEA. Maybe this set of stores is not so much for the yuppies (which I keep typing as yippies ... wonder what that means ... ) as it is for the 'we haven't quite moved beyond our grad school years' set. You see, when I look around at my lovely, mismatched & hand-me-down life, I think that my life is probably just about how it will continue to be.

My gut instinct is that I will always find better things on which to spend my money than matching living room furniture, though. Like books. And sporty shoes like these, or even these. And traveling to visit friends and family.

I need a new term to replace yuppie, though -- since it's meant to be 'young, urban professionals,' it doesn't quite suit. Suggestions?


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Today's project: "we need a little Christmas ... "

First, yes, I do know it's completely wrong to be talking about Christmas in September. However, I'm allowed for the following reason only: I'm canning fresh, summer-ripe peaches as a Christmas gift for co-workers (and anyone else who asks nicely).

My dad sent this article a couple weeks ago. Did you know he sends clippings? It's a really wonderful thing -- a little "I was reading and thought you'd like this," or "Hey, this is cool -- check this out!" moment when I open the mail, which is usually nothing but bills and catalogs.

I may have posted the link on Facebook already, as I know at least one of my friends did -- there's something so wonderful and homey about canning; yeah, it's a throw-back, but it means you can eat local wonderfulness beyond its typical growing season. A couple years ago, I fell in love with Barbara Kingsolver's 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year in Food Life,' and wanted to grow my own vegetables and fruits, can everything and maybe raise some chickens.

I live in a condo. With no real outdoor space. I do not have chickens.

But -- I do have access to a few great farmers' markets, and next year, I promise -- I'm going to get back on the farm share band-wagon. I did it a couple years ago (not coincidentally the year I fell in love with farming), and have meant to do it again but haven't gotten my act together as of yet. I'm saving my vegetable money now.

So -- the point of the Christmas-referent was to say that today will be spent making brandied peaches, and hopefully some poached pears, too. Those might have to wait a couple weeks.

Ask nicely if you'd like peaches for Christmas.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New shoes!

I bought one of the pairs of shoes that I'll actually wear during the 3-Day this evening. (Geez, I'm going to have to come up with a new name for the blog ... the 3-Day is fast-approaching, and will be over before I know it!)

There's something totally satisfying about buying new shoes; I remember wearing them out of the store as a little kid (and have done that as a big kid, too, but not tonight), and thinking I was the coolest thing ever.

Mine are hot pink and white (and lightning, but I'm not sure what that is exactly). Asics Nimbus 11s. Woo-hoo. I'm debating a second identical pair (perhaps in a different color for variety -- there are purple and 'frost,' too), or maybe changing it up a bit and trying a pair of Saucony Triumph 6s. The ones in the store were WAY too purple and silvery, but there are apparently some light blue/white/gray ones, too.

Gotta check out sleeping mats -- I think I found what I'm looking for at REI, but I'll do just a little more looking. Any recommendations? Think plushy & comfy and good-for-sleeping-on after walking 20 miles!

It's getting closer ...

Monday, August 31, 2009

From the file marked: 'Don't say this to your boss.'

1. Do not say, in response to the question, "what do you remember about your contact with person X?", "Uh, I was kind of drunk. I'm sorry."

2. Do not say, when explaining to your supervisor that you think *her* supervisor should be part of this, "I'm not sure you can handle this."

3. Do not say, "I wasn't really paying attention," when asked if you were provided information on a particular topic in your orientation.

As a supervisor, feel free to say:

- Do you always have difficulty with your memory, or are you attributing that to being intoxicated?

- I was hired for this position for a specific reason, and it has nothing to do with what's between my legs.

- I'm sorry, are we boring you here?

And also, when you've had a particularly trying day, don't forget about Texts From Last Night. Possibly the funniest thing ever. Thanks to Josh for that gem of a procrastination device.

Feel free to remind me that I was *just* on vacation for a week!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You can't go home ...

Well, you can, to some extent, but I guess the point is it's never what you expect, and it's never the same.

But the burritos are good.

Bloomington day 3 now, and lots of fun has been had -- and thanks to e., 14 miles were ticked off the walking schedule yesterday. I had certainly never seen that much of Bloomington on foot, so that was a big plus, as was the good company.

Today brings lunch with some of the Stone Belt gang, and hopefully, a shorter walk this afternoon. I'm thinking five miles -- perhaps down to the Bakehouse on the square for a lovely coffee beverage.

Breakfast plans for tomorrow morning and drinks plans for tomorrow evening -- all in all, not a bad way to round out the trip.

Heading back to Ohio on Friday to see Grandma & James, and then making a break for the East Coast on Sunday a.m. Early. Really, really early. Call me if you're up and bored ...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Almost there ...

I'm actually heading out on a much-anticipated, much-needed vacation tomorrow, and despite my usual aversion to travel and everything that precedes it, I'm totally looking forward to this.

First of all, I'm not really 'traveling' per se, I'm just going *home.* Tomorrow evening, I start my trek for Bloomington, Indiana -- a little piece of paradise in the Midwest.

I'm so close to being there, other than geographically, that I can just about taste it. What does Bloomington taste like, you ask?

- Upland Dragonfly IPA
- Yogi's buffalo chips
- a burrito from Laughing Planet (ooh -- e: that's a perfect mid-walk lunch!)
- Special Eggs from the Village Deli
- a double-tall cappuccino from the Bakehouse
- and half a million other things that I'm sure I'll consume while I'm in town.

Calories don't count when you're *visiting,* right?

Despite the fact that this mentions nothing about the people that I'm just about dying to see, I can barely contain my excitement -- I don't get home often enough, and I'm always worried that I'm missing something great. And I probably am, just a little, 'cause Bloomington is a pretty remarkable place.

Does everyone equate 'going home' with tasty-treats-that-can't-be-had-elsewhere?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Exhausted.

No, I didn't just get back from a super-long, training-for-the-Breast-Cancer-3-Day walk. And I haven't been helping anyone move, operating heavy machinery or farming, scrubbing the kitchen floor or rock-climbing.

I'm just freaking exhausted, it's entirely psychological, and let me tell you why.

So, my job is intense, but that's not news, and I knew when I took the position that it was going to be hard, it was going to interfere in my personal life, and it was going to make me want to claw my eyes out every now and again. Where do you sign up, right?

And there aren't really any *new* problems -- it's just more of the same -- but I guess that's what's getting me. *More* of the *same.*

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not looking for NEW ways to be agitated, but I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall -- and without the trippy endorphins that are associated withhead-banging.

I mean, what do I have to do to get people to understand that not acting in the best interest of the clients is a surefire way to see the wrong end of a termination notice? Seriously? Is there no such thing as common sense anymore?

Gah.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

A sad day.

Tulip Trace Girl Scout Council officially closed its doors today. This is sad, for many reasons.

I'm sad for the many wonderful women (and couple of men) who have given so much to the council and community for the past years, and are being dismissed so completely. They are (with one exception) good people, who have dedicated their time and energy to bringing the Girl Scout program to girls in south central Indiana.

I'm sad because the community is losing such a vital and valuable resource; Girl Scouting has been in its current form in southern Indiana for more than 50 years, which means that most of the folks living in Bloomington don't remember not having Tulip Trace there.

I'm sad about the loss of Belmont -- a wonderful camp property in Brown County (one of the most New-England-like places I've ever been to, outside of New England).

Mostly, though, I'm sad because people like Sue Wanzer, Marcia DeBock and Kathleen Boggess so soundly destroyed something that was so wonderful and so good -- and for selfish, petty reasons.

Girl Scouts is about working together, doing what's right, and most importantly, helping girls grow up to be caring, competent, confident women (thanks, Barbara!). It is not about name-calling, blame-storming, and shirking responsibility and claiming ignorance.

When I grew up in Girl Scouting, I learned that I was supposed to be honest, fair, help where I'm needed; be cheerful; friendly and considerate; show respect for authority; use resources wisely; protect and improve the world around me; show respect for myself and others through my words and actions; and be a sister to every Girl Scout.

The men and women on the soon-to-be-defunct Board of Directors of the council weren't any of these things -- and they should be ashamed of themselves. They've taken away something very precious from the girls and adults of south-central Indiana, and while Girl Scouting will continue to be provided by the Central Indiana council, it will never be the same.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The day has arrived ...

Is it odd to be so excited about a needle in the spine? Perhaps not -- since I hope that it will relieve the stabby pain down the sides of my legs, and the throbbing ache in my lower back.

Cross your fingers that it works as well as it did two years ago.

Also, please be a little excited: yesterday, I got an iPhone. Unexpectedly. For work. I can't even believe the good luck myself. Yay!

And another thing -- my root beer vodka fest is long overdue; I'm thinking Labor Day. And I'm also thinking that it will be more of an 'ode to summer in New England.' Do let me know if you'd like to be invited ...

Time to get ready for my trip to the outpatient surgery center ...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thanks and praise ...

First -- a big THANK YOU to my fabulous landlord for fixing my air conditioning! Ah, the lovely, lovely feeling of cool, de-humidified air, blowing about happily, making me not-so-agitated.

Praise -- to any deity to whom you wish to send gratitude -- be for the nerve block injections that I have scheduled for next Wednesday! I will be so very happy once the shooting pain down my legs and throbbing ache in my back are but a mere memory.

Also -- gratitude to the many wonderful, amazing friends, co-workers and family members who have dug into their hearts and pocketbooks, and helped to support my 3-Day trek. I'm only $624 from hitting the minimum fundraising goal, and $824 from my personal goal of $2500 ... and just think -- only $1324 from reaching $3000! (My basic math is pretty good -- I can keep going ... )

Check this out -- while I don't share all of the same food aversions, I definitely sympathize ...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ode to air-conditioning and a clean house ...

Oh, air conditioning, how I miss thee.

No, seriously -- my A/C isn't working right; it's *working* (very hard, I might add), but not so much cooling the air. The ceiling fans are helping a lot -- thank goodness for that -- but the air blowing out of the vents? Not so much chilly.

I've let my landlord know, and it's the one time that I'm just a little glad that I don't own a house -- I am so not interested in footing an A/C repair bill right now!

Also -- my house is in desperate need of cleaning, or more properly, straightening. My back has been such a wreck that I've been coming in, setting down my things, and leaving them there, and that does *not* make for a serene, organized environment, or a happy Katie.

Ugh. Anyone want to send me a maid?

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Don't panic."

That was the title of the workshop on Packing for the 3-Day that I attended at the 3-Day Expo on Saturday in King of Prussia.

(Sidebar: I happened to spend 4th through 6th grade living in Valley Forge, about five minutes from the hotel where the 3-Day Expo was located. I've driven around there since I've lived in Delaware, but still ... it was cool.)

But -- I have to say: now that I've been to the Expo, which was actually pretty cool, I'm totally panicking. A lot. Seriously.

And let me tell you why.

First, because I'm afraid that now that my back is a hot mess, and preventing me from walking as much as I should be -- at least till I get dosed with another round of steroids injected into my spinal column (and no, that doesn't make me nervous ... should it?) -- that I'm going to DIE midway through Day 1.

Hopefully the injections will get scheduled soon -- my appointment with the pain management doc is on 8/3, and I'm not sure how I'm going to make it till then. I was completely unpleasant to be around at work today, 'cause taking the big drugs at work makes me not-so-alert, and I've got shit to do. In the meantime, while there's shooting pain running down my right leg and my back is throbbing, steer clear.

[Note: I managed to herniate two discs a little more than two years ago -- May '07 -- and had very successful 'selective nerve root block' injections in September '07. They're wearing off -- but I'm totally lucky that they've lasted this long: the doc said at the time that they might only last 6 months!]

Second, I'm now terrified of blisters. Have you had any blisters, you ask? No. But still. The doctor giving the presentation on 'Be Kind to Your Body' scared the living daylights out of me. You're supposed to do *something* with Vaseline -- only as much as you would put on your lips -- but I'm not sure what. Rub it on your feet, perhaps, which seems ... gross.

Third, I do *not* have the equipment I need for this expedition. I need a large duffel bag, capable of holding my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothing, toiletries, etc., which must weigh in at no more than 35 pounds. I need more walking attire. I need more socks, many more pairs of socks. I need a visor. I need some 3-Day attire -- I don't even have anything pink!

I also should apparently be getting used to drinking Gatorade -- which I hate -- alternately with my water while walking. Gatorade tastes like sweat. Seriously. Ugh.

So -- and I'm sure this is normal: I'm now TOTALLY FREAKED OUT about walking 60 miles in three days, less than three months from now.

I still have a little bit of money left to raise (please click the widget at right to give, and if you've already given -- you're awesome, and thank you!), but mostly, I am now officially terrified of what I probably should've been worried about all along.

When cooler heads prevail, remind me to tell you more about having dessert on Saturday evening at Betty's Speakeasy in Center City, Philadelphia -- a fabulous new bakery & confectionery that Josh's roommate Susan works at. Liz, the owner, is lovely, and the fudge & treats are amazing. Try the lavender mint fudge, and ask what Susan's 'scone of the day' is!




Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Things I know ...

- that dark chocolate mini Reese's cups exist, and are FAR superior to their milk chocolate buddies.

- that Jane Austen is far better with a side of zombies (Seriously. You've got to read 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.' OMG. It's high-larious. Seth Grahame-Smith is the mastermind behind this work of hysterical brilliance.)

- that pearls aren't so much a punchline when you rock whatever you're doing while wearing them.

- that chocolate chip pancakes and Dawson's Creek are sure to cure most anything that ails you.

- that I really, really (did I say 'really?') want to open a bakery, even more so after seeing J.'s great photos from The Bombon Cafe in Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood.

- that I've walked so much over the past few months that the 10-mile walk on Saturday morning before the 3-Day Expo in King of Prussia is not deterring me from making plans to wander around Philly later that afternoon.

- that I need more sleep than I'm getting currently.

- that two years is a fabulous amount of time for the selective nerve root block injections to last in eliminating pain from a herniated disc, and having to think about another round of them is not that stressful.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

The most to say ...

Why is it that when you (and yes, by 'you,' I really mean 'I') have the most to say to someone or about something, the best that comes out is 'I don't know?'

But I *do* know. I have a whole dissertation on the topic! Geez, Katie, just spit it out already!

In emotionally unrelated news, my back hurts after my walk this morning. I think I twisted funny or something -- though, after the herniated disc drama of 2007, it doesn't really even take a twist to cause a potential problem. I'm hoping that being quiet & gentle (despite the shopping for group home decor that I need to go and do) -- and taking Advil like it's my job -- will get me back on track, without the need for more advanced intervention.

But first -- a shout-out to Walt's Flavor-Crisp Chicken and their amazing sweet potato pie.

Alright -- going to get that shopping done. Yuppie holy trinity: Target, Pier One & IKEA, here I come!



Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wow.

So -- June was not an exceptionally chatty month here on the old blog ... which is funny, because I feel like a) there's been a lot going on, and b) I've had a lot to say about it. 

The 'Wow.' in the title, however, refers not to the suspicious lack of postings (and btw, Jen Lancaster was weeks without posting, too -- so there! Definitely check out her link to 'why George R. R. Martin is not your bitch,' while you're over there.) and your presumed happiness at my resurfacing, but to the eight-mile training walk that I rocked this morning.

I've been fairly decent about keeping up with my walking, but have definitely drifted somewhat from the schedule (because, you see, of the lots of things going on). I was totally worried about the walk this morning (and almost convinced myself to skip it -- twice), but I thought that at the very least, I'd show up, and see how it went. 

It was great! I really, really like walking with other 3-Day walkers, especially women who have done the 3-Day before. It's great to hear what the experience was like for them, and it's also totally reassuring to meet people who have *done* this, and are doing it again.

But -- let me say this: eight miles is a long way. Depending on how you might know me, let me break this down into different geographic examples for your reference.

- Eight miles is roughly the distance from Chicopee to the Orchards Golf Course.

- Eight miles is roughly the distance from my mom's house to Stone Belt -- via a very circuitous route through town on Tapp, then Walnut, then 3rd Street, then up the by-pass.

- Eight miles is approximately the distance from my house to the Christiana Mall (Delaware's finest tax-free shopping!). 

- Eight miles is just slightly less than walking from the Philadelphia Art Museum to the IKEA on Columbus Blvd.

At any rate -- and hopefully you get the picture -- eight miles is more than we typically think of as 'walking distance.' But it was totally great.

And I'm doing six more miles tomorrow. Meet me at Delcastle! :) Oh -- and please: click on one of the widgets at right, and give your spare change to help me reach my goal and help Susan G. Komen throw money in the right direction -- toward finding a cure!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Needing to say ...

something.

I generally like to post happy, heart-warming things, thus sending a little more good humour and kindness out into the universe. And I have a few of those things to mention. Later.

Right now, though, I'd like to climb up on my soapbox, and yet again say how very disappointed I am in the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Tulip Trace Council. I am overwhelmingly disheartened by their too-little, too-late approach to involvement, stewardship and oversight, and completely disgusted by the board president and her utter disregard for the well-being of the girls served in those 11 counties in southeastern Indiana.

That doesn't even begin to capture how I'm feeling about these people, some of whom I've known for years, and had a lot of faith in, and their actions over the past 90 days (and inaction over the past three years) -- but I guess as Forrest Gump would say, "that's all I have to say about that." (*puts soapbox away ... for now ... *)

In happier news, I finally picked my books for my co-worker's baby -- Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, and If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss. These are both childhood favorites, and I found a particularly compelling quotation from one of my favorite writers, Anna Quindlen, to add to the inscription in the Seuss book:

'I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.'

Speaking of which, I need more. Bookshelves, that is. 

And Dr. Seuss.

I'll close here with one of my favorite passages from my very favorite Dr. Seuss story, If I Ran the Circus.

'Ei! Ei! What a circus! My Circus McGurkus!
My workers love work. They say, "Work us! Please work us!
We'll work and we'll work up so many surprises
You'd never see half if you had forty eyeses!"'

Don't you wish *your* workers felt that good about their jobs?



Thursday, June 11, 2009

A proper celebration

My friend C. is experiencing a bit of an existential dilemma. Faced with a difficult and unexpected transition, she's having to carve out a new plan for herself, and that's definitely made the last few months stressful. Last night was the night-before-her-last-day at her current job, and being nothing if not helpful, I had decided several months ago to cheer her out of any pending gloom by providing the ultimate in late-90s-women's-college-celebratory-traditions, tickets to an Indigo Girls concert.

[Disclaimer: okay, so my motives were not *entirely* unselfish; cliched or not, the Indigo Girls happen to be my very, very favorite musical group, and it's been awhile since I've seen them live ... and they just happened to be performing at Wolftrap in Vienna, VA -- a hop, skip and jump down the Beltway from my dear friend's home.]

However -- no matter the reason (my heart or my shoes, and what-not), as we headed to Wolftrap last night, both of us were exhausted from work, and just generally feeling not so much like being out late on a school night. Because we're old. We were totally talking ourselves into going and being excited about it. 

But ... we got ourselves to the show, and I can speak for both of us in saying that we are so glad we did. First -- Matt Nathanson was the opener, and he absolutely rocked. He's cute, funny & chatty -- all of which are highly desirable in an opening band -- and he started off by dedicating a song to Miley Cyrus, and asking the ASL interpreters if they would sign dirty things. Love it.

Somewhere in the middle of falling in love with Matt Nathanson, the skies opened up and it started to rain. And then it started to pour. Cats, dogs and giraffes. Giant, ridiculous, Midwestern-style thunderstorms. Wolftrap is an open-air pavilion with pavilion & lawn seating. We had front orchestra seats, but as the storm kicked up and the rain started to blow in, it felt more like we were on the Maid of the Mist than sitting in a performing arts venue. Luckily, we were sitting by some pretty terrific folks who were better prepared for the elements, and let us scoot to the middle of the row, from the aisle. 

I've got to say -- Indigo Girls fans are a fiercely loyal bunch, and very few people gave up and left -- even those hale & hearty souls sitting on the lawn, huddling under ponchos and umbrellas. The Indigo Girls themselves were awesome -- and their new accompanist, Julie Wolf, is insanely hot -- their new music is great, and they played enough of their old standbys to keep me happy. 

Most importantly, though, I think for a few minutes, C. and I both forgot that we're grown-ups with serious, important lives, and remembered what it felt like to be in college, so sure that everything would work out for the best, and not beginning to imagine what life would be like at 30. For a few minutes, we were 19 again, just lost in the music, singing along and feeling full of hope and happiness. We forgot that change is hard and transition can be sad, and just enjoyed each other's company, and the company of the thousand or so other happy, singing-along fans.

That, my dears, is what I call a proper celebration.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Panic at 0620

My phone rang at 6:20 this morning. It wasn't my work phone, and jolted out of a dead sleep, I recognized the ring-tone, being one of those vaguely lazy "I like to know who's calling before I bother getting up" (okay, totally lazy) folks that sets ring-tones for most of the frequent callers in her life. 

It wasn't someone who should usually be calling at that hour. (Is there anyone who *should* be calling at 6:20 on a Saturday morning? I think perhaps not.)

Of course, I instantly went into crisis mode, assuming the worst and trying to figure out how quickly I could get to Bloomington (because of course something must be wrong with Mom. It's not. She's fine. She's probably sleeping. It's early still.). 

I called back immediately, not waiting for the voicemail to come through, and got the on-the-other-line beep for what seemed like an eternity. 

At this point, I'm wide awake, irritated as hell, and heading toward panic, for real for real.

I sent a "what's wrong?" text.

I continued the compulsive redialing.

Finally, I get regular ringing. The owner of the cell phone picks up. I immediately demand "what's wrong?"

Um, yeah. Her bag called me of its own accord. I'm touched. I'm flattered. I'm *going back to bed.*

Ah, the miracle of modern technology -- making our lives easier. ;) 


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Let's Hear it for the Boy(s)!

This has been a great weekend, and let me tell you why.

First, I had an excellent Friday night, despite a few calls about power outages at work, going to a punk band practice. It was cool -- the band was really good (a good thing, since they have a show next weekend), and I had a great time.

Then, my brother came to visit on Saturday a.m., and that was an unexpected treat. We had lunch at Klondike Kate's in Newark (great Sassafras salad -- two thumbs up!) and didn't get caught up in UD graduation traffic -- I completely forgot about that!

We visited my grandparents, bearing strawberry-rhubarb pie, on Saturday afternoon, and they were really happy to see us, and we had a lovely visit. My grandma isn't doing so well health-wise, and I've really been making a concerted effort to get up to visit her as often as I can. I was up the weekend of Mother's Day, and now this weekend -- June is pretty packed, but I'll figure out when I can get a few free hours to pop up again.

J. and I also had a great dinner at Jose's Border Cafe -- try the fish tacos -- with perhaps a margarita too many. J. is headed to Miami University to start an M.Arch. degree in June, and I'm so proud of him I could spit. 

Today, I'm heading up to Philly to have brunch with Josh -- our friendship is perhaps the best thing to have come out of spring/summer 2008. Very much looking forward to seeing him, seeing a little more of Philly, and hopefully having something with syrup. :) Josh's choice of restaurants has been fabulous thus far (Pub & Kitchen being my favorite of them, though the Greek place was great too ... ), and I'm excited to see what I'll be introduced to today.

This week promises to be busy -- work stuff, and a tour of the National Constitution Center on Thursday a.m. in preparation for Philadelphia Celebrates Mount Holyoke on September 30 (Joe Ellis will speak: be there or be square). 

And walking. Five miles on Friday. Hopefully six miles this afternoon. Three and four miles each evening this week ... I've got to stay on track, here!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yup.

I have (kind of) learned how to drive a stick shift. And in a Jeep Wrangler, I might add, which is really, really cool.

Sigh.

I may only be acquainted with 1st and 2nd gear, but nonetheless, I have at least begun to learn the concept. And only stalled twice. In an hour. I drove on two actual streets, with people and cars (and a roving collie) -- not just the high school parking lot. No one was injured. There were no tears or tantrums.

There was just rock-star quality driving. ;)

Oh, and by the way -- I'm still walking ... don't forget to click on the widget at right and donate some of your hard-earned cash to help find a cure for breast cancer. It's the least you can do.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Good (?) things on a holiday ...

Happy Memorial Day. Please take a minute to remember anyone who's no longer a part of your everyday life -- be it through death, or something less permanent -- especially the brave service men and women who have given their lives for our life of relative ease & freedom.

Then, please take a minute to notice the fact that one of my favorite blogs has posted my recipe for fried chicken. I'm sure she didn't mean to use it without crediting me (could be that it's the most logical possible way to make fried chicken, and that she doesn't know I exist), but nonetheless. If you want to know why my fried chicken (which, I must say, it's been an appallingly long time since I've cooked it) is the best, check this out

In personal news, I am going to attempt to learn to drive a stick shift today. This is a landmark event, as I did not get a driver's license until I was 21 (long story short: I failed the test the first time, hadn't really ever failed anything before, went to a residential college & didn't need to drive ... until the summer after graduation, and then my lack of driver's license hit critical mass, and bless her, e. taught me to parallel park), and am not as one might say, "mechanically inclined." 

I struggle with right and left (and knowing which is which). My dear e. actually used to tell me "my way or your way," which helped. A lot. She usually did.

I do not like doing things that I'm not good at. Hence all the posts about cooking and stuff, and none about auto maintenance or money management or maintaining a relationship.

And -- woe to the person who is going to try to teach me -- I get frustrated easily (especially by things I don't do well), and am prone to fits of hysterical crying.

Now, if that doesn't sound like a fun time, I don't know what does!

But -- it's so damn cool (much like smoking, without the associated death risk). And I really want to learn. And I'm going to be on my best behavior, and really try to understand how it works.

So -- cross your fingers, stay out of the high school parking lot, and tune in later this week for a progress report. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Agree to dis-degree ...

Here's the question of the day.

What's the relative value of a college degree?

Are all degrees equal? Does just having slogged through four-plus years of General Studies *somewhere* have equivalent value to having a degree in Worked-My-Ass-Off-ology at a so-called prestigious institution?

Can you successfully complete a college degree and still have very little substance to offer?

Mathematically, my Mount Holyoke degree is worth about $125k -- and that's not taking interest on student loans into account. Philosophically, my Mount Holyoke education is invaluable -- priceless, as it were. 

But in terms of either social cache or personal merit or she-makes-good-dinner-conversation-ability, what's a bachelor's degree worth?

Twice as much as an associate's?
Two-thirds as much as a Master's?

The mind boggles. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Magic numbers ...

There are lots of different kinds of magic numbers, and no, I'm not referring to that which the phrase often refers. What I'm really interested in is as follows:

How long is long enough? 

It's a question that merits consideration in a variety of arenas -- but let's just consider the "how long since you broke up with your ex?" scenario.

How long should it be before you're considered date-able again? A month? Three months? Six months? What about a year?

I know it's relative and subjective and all of that vague stuff, but there must be some kind of curse-has-been-lifted kind of timeline. 

'Cause I got asked today "how long it had been" (it's been a year -- almost precisely), and I suddenly felt like maybe it wasn't long enough, and that there might've been a wee bit of judgement.

And then I realized that I'm just the teensiest bit over-sensitive, and that maybe it was really just a question.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, you know.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pins & needles

Kind of literally.

Not as in straight pins and sewing needles, but as in that half-asleep feeling in your foot after too long in lotus position. 

But in my hands. Both of them. Kind of like gloves -- prickly, pins-'n-needles, invisible gloves, whenever I'm touching or holding anything. 

Yes, I do think this is of at least mild medical interest, and yes, I've already made appointments, and scheduled tests.

However, the point is not the pins-'n-needles feeling in my paws, but the psychic pins and needles that I've been waiting on for the past 12 years -- ever since the first doctor said, "sounds like you have fibromyalgia." Now, granted, I wrote off that opinion largely on the basis of a) no actual medical evaluations having been conducted, and b) the doctor in question knowing an awful lot of family history, that while relevant, was probably prejudicial, and c) the lack of actual medical tests confirming said diagnostic utterance. Did I mention that there were no medical tests? Not even an ANA or an RF level? (Oh, I guess I did.)

There have been such tests since, though, and they've been largely inconclusive, due to my totally wacky thyroid. But, I figure, sooner or later, the other shoe will drop. 

So here I am, likely totally blowing tingling hands out of proportion -- what? don't your hands tingle for four days at a time? -- and fearing the worst.

This is what's been on my mind. However, there have been several delightful distractions in the past few days, and I'll mention those now, in lieu of more belly-aching.

- getting flowers at work. The card said "Happy Tuesday." That pretty much rocked my day -- as did the flower-giver's later appearance.

- catching up with a friend that I've been seriously missing, though I'd have picked a cheerier topic if I'd been choosing.

- the fabulous posts at Smitten Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman. Hello, Deb & Ree: will you be my friends?

- excellent weather. Finally.

- visiting my grandma on Saturday. It made her so happy.

- OPI's 'Magnifico Mexico.'

- digital cable, coming soon to a TV near me on Sunday. I caved. I'm buying digital cable, though I only have to pay the difference between the digital and what's already included with my condo. I'm wicked excited about it -- on-demand, here I come!

-  fabulous, generous donations for my 3-Day walk! (Don't forget to click at right to give!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Mmm. Spring.

First of all, I have *got* to find some rhubarb this weekend -- it's crazy that I haven't seen any yet, and I'm dying to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie (because there are fresh, local strawberries), and I also want to try out this amazing rhubarb cobbler from, you guessed it, Smitten Kitchen.

Second, it is so nice that it's lighter earlier and longer. After 11 days of rain, I was definitely feeling some seasonal-affective effects yesterday, and just when I thought I was going to have to crawl under my desk & cry for a while, the sun came out. Seriously -- it was like the heavens opened and the angels sang, and my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mood was almost instantly cured. (I'm sure my co-workers were grateful; prior to that, I'd been seriously contemplating fake-'n-baking, for the UV exposure.)

There's also something about this weather that makes you want to, well, find some ... extra-curricular activities ... whatever that might mean to you. There's definitely something in the air -- or in the case of my office, maybe in the water: we've had more babies in the last year than anyone can remember before. 

Speaking of babies -- one of my co-workers is having a baby shower next week, and instead of bringing cards, we've all been asked to inscribe a children's book for her baby. It's a lovely idea -- and I'm all over the place with book ideas. Perhaps you have some recommendations?

Here's hoping the sun stays out for the next couple days. My mood could use it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weird, bad, good ...

Things that are weird:

- when people turn up unexpectedly in places that are, frankly, unexpected. This is disconcerting. And I prefer to be concerted ... or something like that.

- when the sheets & towels in the dryer all roll up in a ball (but are still dry).

Things that are bad:

- Comcast's sudden decision to take MSNBC (and therefore, Rachel Maddow) away from me, unless I subscribe to digital cable. While I see the relative merits (hello, on-demand!) of digital cable, my regular cable is already included in my condo fees, thank you very much. Decisions, decisions.

Things that are not weird or bad (and are, in fact, good):

- the amazing & generous donations that are finding their way to my 3-Day account. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

- Villainess Soaps. Good. Very good.

- the Cooper Sharp & ham omelet that I had for dinner, in lieu of another piece of leftover lasagna.

That's what I've got for today. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy birthday to Miss Courtlyn, who is four years old today -- completely unbelievable. Her mother would like me to tell you that she was born on 5/5/05, and will be 20 on 5/5/25. We both think that's super cool -- and were both excited on 3/3/09. We are, apparently, both nerds.

Happy birthday to Wendy, without whom my job would be sheer misery.

And now -- a few more fun things:

- I know you didn't ask, but I love Hot Tamales. Irrationally. They are nothing but sugar and artificial flavoring, but I love them. 

- I am thrilled to report that our class met our Annual Fund fundraising goal. This is good news, ladies -- it means we can totally rock our $25k goal for next year!

- I am proud of myself for walking tonight, despite the fact that 15 minutes into my five-mile walk, it started to pour. Buckets. Cats and dogs and hamsters and giraffes. Awful rain. And I gutted it out. Yay me.

- I believe I've mentioned the delicacy known as Creme de Menthe cake before -- and I baked another one tonight for our celebration of Wendy's birthday tomorrow at the supervisors' meeting. It is a little slice of mint-and-chocolate heaven. With Cool Whip on top. 10 points if you can name the restaurant I bastardized that tag line from -- bonus points for identifying the menu item to which the slogan relates.

You can make your very own Creme de Menthe cake (photo coming tomorrow). It couldn't be easier, and people will go nuts for it. You'll need:

- one white cake mix (or make your own -- fancy-pants!)
- one 16 oz. can of Hershey's syrup (I actually do like to mix things up & make ganache)
- one tub of Cool Whip
- 2 Tbsp. of Creme de Menthe (or you can cheat & use 1 tsp. of mint extract + green food coloring -- I won't tell) plus a splash more for the frosting

Mix cake according to package directions. Add creme de menthe (or mint extract/food coloring) and mix well. Bake as directed. Let cake cool completely -- really, I mean it -- then top with Hershey's syrup & chill overnight. 

Add a splash of creme de menthe to Cool Whip & frost cake. Keep chilled, or serve immediately.

I promise. It's that good, you won't care that it's totally store-bought & processed. Sure, you can read Deb's blog & learn how to make the perfect cinnamon raisin bagel from scratch ... or, you can read my blog & bake Midwestern desserts with the best of 'em.

And hey -- I walked five miles in the rain entirely because I'm committed to the 3-Day. Perhaps I should *be* committed, but until that happens, please find it in your pocketbook to donate ... click on the widget at right. 


Friday, May 1, 2009

Misadventures

I finally did it. 

I've lived here for almost a year (a whole year on June 21, thank you very much), and I haven't done it yet. But today I did.

Yup, I finally locked myself out of my house. 

And let me tell you how.

Crazy night at work last night (I won't go into details, but suffice to say, tires were slashed, police were called, and people were arrested), and I was exhausted, but slept horribly (too much angst about work -- surprise, surprise!). So, I overslept this morning, and was in a rush to get ready & get to work, because it was Family Day.

My co-director called me at about 8:25, as I was putting the leash on the dog, and getting ready to head out for our walk. We talked for a couple minutes, and then Hadley & I headed out.

And once the door clicked behind me (the giant, metal door to the main stairwell that keeps out the unwanted), I patted my pocket to reassure myself that my keys were there, as I do every time I hear the door click. (Note to self: check for keys *before* door clicks. Duh.)

No keys. No cell phone. Just a socially-awkward dog, a raincoat, and a dollar in my pocket.

I did not panic. (I don't care if you don't believe me, I still didn't panic.)

I calmly walked the dog around to the back patio -- which has a 3.5" wall around it, and checked to see if any of my windows were unlocked. Being a good, safe sort, they were not. 

I thought brightly to myself, "Oh -- there's that hide-a-key that Dad gave me, for just such an emergency!" And then I remembered that I'd never hidden the hide-a-key. Crap.

I picked Hadley up and over the wall (which he was none-too-thrilled about, I might add), and then climbed over to survey the patio. Doors -- locked. Check. Windows -- still locked. Check.

I pried up the edge of one of the screens (with my beach umbrella -- very MacGyver of me, don't you think?) and checked the smallest window again. Still locked. I thought about breaking the window, and thought that surely, this would be the least expensive to replace (as in, less than the two sets of French doors). I seriously considered breaking the window for a hot minute.

And then I heard it. The sound of some sort of small power tool, coming from the maintenance garage at the end of the drive. I shimmied back over the wall, and went to investigate, hardly daring to believe my change of luck.

Saved by a power sander. And by the nicest maintenance guy ever. I was only a little teary when I asked if he could please let me in (because I'd locked myself out, and I was really, really, really sorry) -- which, of course, he did.

Catastrophe averted.

The day got only marginally better -- one of the low-lights was merging from Rt. 1 onto 95 (across 5 lanes of traffic) while driving a school van with a let's-just-say *pharmacologically-liberal* mother, and having her say to me (after I apparently hadn't heard the questions she'd been asking), "So, you just don't know anything, is that it?" That was special.

My day ended happily, though, with a really lovely (and inexpensive -- score!) manicure & pedicure. My feet are now ready for sandal season (with the exception of the calluses quickly building up on the soles -- thanks *so* much, 3-Day training!), and my nails are pretty & happy. 

I do have a giant bruise on my thigh as a memento of my morning escapade, and I'm pretty sure I'll be hiding that hide-a-key as soon as I get a(nother) spare made. 




Sunday, April 26, 2009

Heading out ...

Training walk this morning -- should be right around seven miles, I think.

I'll be walking to the park on Polly Drummond by the Unitarian church & back. Check out the route here ... 

Should be a nice walk -- sidewalks all the way, and lots of stuff to look at. I'll be home around 11:ish, hopefully without any appreciable damage. :)

To do next weekend (as this weekend is almost over):

- buy backpack/camelback/hip-pack thing for walking (there are not enough pockets for all the stuff you need to carry!)
- check out shoes
- buy socks -- the breathable, wicking, padded, won't-cause-any-blisters kind

Yup. It's serious walking time, kids. Don't forget to click on the widget at right to donate.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Apropos

My Storypeople "pick one for me" today was:

I've always liked directing. It's the only time I can get people to do exactly what I want without having to pretend I don't care whether they do or not

This is fitting.

Happy Amy's birthday and Administrative Professionals' Day!

Happy birthday to Amy!

Happy Administrative Professionals' Day to anyone who is inclined to celebrate said holiday. I'll be taking flowers and some small treats to some of the very wonderful ladies at work who make my job a heck of a lot less unpleasant than it might be otherwise.

Especially Sue Ellen, who saves me from phone conversations that I really don't want to have, and tells me I'm great when I'm just being cooperative and doing my job, and as Miss Diane would say, is always a "ray of sunshine." And she's on my bowling team, starting Monday.

While I don't usually cotton to celebrating commercially invented holidays, every day should probably be Administrative Professionals' Day. Seriously. I wouldn't last for a minute at the switchboard.

On a side note, every now and again, just when I think I've seen it all, people surprise me. I had two such surprises yesterday -- completely different, but both were net positive -- though again, with radically different results. Yay for surprises.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More happiness ...

because that, of course, is my favorite stuff to post. There's more than enough misery in the world without my whining, thank you very much.

- congratulations to e. on finishing her very first triathlon this morning. This is spectacular. You rock!

- congratulations to Cynthia on her fabulous Greek Easter feast. Yum-o. 

- congratulations to NOM for making us all giggle at just how ignorant they are ... Seriously? This is your big plan to convince us that same-sex marriage is scary? There's a lot of scary stuff out there, folks, and this just ain't it. (Okay, this isn't really happiness, per se, as it's really about groups who don't respect the rights of others, but I have to give a nod to anyone who gives Rachel such entertaining material. I'm not above saying it -- the teabaggers are awesome ... awesomely hilarious.)

- a big thank-you to Deb at smittenkitchen for her Chocolate-Caramel Crack(ers) recipe; my friends & co-workers thank you in advance, as do future patrons of The Box. 

- love and kisses to Josh & Roger, for taking time out of their crazy pre-finals schedule to spend a fun evening eating great Greek Easter food & putting up with my ridiculous barking dog.

and last, but not least, some general happiness for great weather for walking, an afternoon to relax and get ready for the week ahead, and excellent dinner plans this evening, including seared ahi tuna, zucchini ribbons, a little saffron orzo and some more terrific company.