Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Plant Saga Continues

I think I killed it.  Three weeks old, and it's a goner.

I would have been fine had the plant not started smelling weird, but stinky plants have got to go.  I watered it diligently--but not too often.  I kept it in moderate light.  I did everything right including pulling off the dead flowers.  But it smelled weird.  So I put it outside to air out.  And then the temperature dropped and I sort of forgot about it for four days.  And now the lil' guy is knocking on death's door.

If it's not stinking up a storm, I might bring it back in tonight to see if it perks up without any flowers (maybe they were smelling).  If it doesn't look better or smell better within a week, it's getting a new home.

Hey Mom, need another dead houseplant to revive? ;)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fa la la la la

Well hello again dear readers... that pesky little cough I had a week ago turned into a full-blown chest cold.  I didn't do much except lay on the couch for two solid days, and today I managed to get some quilting done between bouts of coughing up a lung and gagging on my own phlegm. The Man has taken to calling me "Pestilence."  I gotta hand it to him, though, this is the first time I've been sick since before we were engaged.  He put up with a lot of me getting up in the middle of the night to hack and cough and sneeze and blow my nose loudly and often.  "Good night, Pestilence," he'd say, "I love you."  Lub you too.

The only thing good about being off yesterday (holiday) was that Band of Brothers was playing on TV, so I could watch that all day long.  There was no good TV on today.  Not even Mythbusters.

Christmas was good.  Thankfully my cold held off for me to get through festivities without being too symptom-ridden.  I tried to keep to myself and not spread any germs, so I'm really sorry if anyone caught my bug (I was not sick nor contagious at my family's thing two weeks ago).  I probably ate way too much, but that's what holidays are for, right?

And then there is my current quilting project, a sort of extremely bright ohio star "lap quilt" pattern big enough for at least three laps.  Since I was home sick today, I did get some sewing done.  I have all of the triangles for the stars stitched down now, so I can do the nine-patch part Friday and hopefully the many, many sashing pieces Saturday and Sunday.  Realistically, stretch that out another week.  Then sewing the blocks together, quilting, and binding... maybe mid-January if I'm lucky.  I still need to buy batting!

That's my whole life the last few days.  I've felt like crap, but I'm getting better.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Holiday Checklist

I got off work at 2pm today.  It's a dead sprint to 6pm Christmas Eve with the following things on my to-do list... Santa's list probably isn't this long.

- Buy more Christmas cards because the hand-made ones didn't exactly turn out as planned
- Address Christmas cards and sign them
- Finish wrapping last-minute gifts
- Print pictures and note cards that go in last-minute gifts
- Monthly mold abatement and prevention in apartment (better safe than sorry, again)
- Bake dessert for Christmas Day
- Pack for Christmas Eve sleep-over at my parents' house
- Laundry, laundry, laundry
- Work on quilt (gotta have some "me" time on the list!)
- Figure out a side-dish for Christmas Day
- Figure out why I have some pesky dry cough

So if you don't hear from me for a couple days, know that I'm off working hard and celebrating much.  Here's to you and yours, a very merry Christmas.  Or Boxing Day.  Or whatever else it is you celebrate... Festivus?  Whatever.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I need another job...

The Man and I have been floating around a few ideas of things we'd like to purchase or upgrade.  We both are dying for a digital piano, but I'm holding out for a weighted keyboard (not some cheap $100 keyboard but one that feels right).  Since he got a new laptop, I have seen my geriatric Vista machine throw in the towel.  Four years old is old enough in computer land... but do I want another desktop or a laptop?  And then!  Last night, I went to a local sew-vac store to get some new feet for my sewing machine.  The nice lady there more than sold me on the necessity of a machine that thinks for me.  It's not one of those does-everything-including-cooking machines either, just a really nice machine with thirty or so stitches.  It doesn't even do embroidery.  And then the lady went so far as to tell me my little Huskystar is junk and will probably break the third time I use it (it didn't).  Way to discredit a potential client...  I was not very impressed by her.  Every one of the things we want is about $1000.  Ugh.  I'm going to have to wait a while, maybe on the piano at least until we get our tax return.  If we get anything back... *crosses fingers*

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas is Here!

This might sound strange, but part of me feels like Christmas is already over--and I didn't even get one present (not a bad thing).  Last Saturday, my mom's entire family gathered at Grandma's for our annual weekend-before-Christmas-Eve party.  With the exception of my oldest cousin who lives out of state and his family, everyone was there.  I counted about twenty-five people, and we had more than enough yummy food for all.

I slaved away Friday making baked rice and peppernuts.  Baked rice is fairly easy: stirring in the custard ingredients without scrambling the eggs is just about the hardest part.  Peppernuts take forever, but they were very "worth it."  Just please, nobody tell my grandma that I used Crisco instead of lard... I'm not about to go hunt down lard when I have perfectly good Crisco in the fridge already.  Yes, they tasted a little bit different, but my arteries are thankful.

Though we did have to stand for the requisite "cousins picture" with all of us lined up by age, we did not have to stand for family pictures or stand-in-order-by-shoe-size pictures or the dreaded whole-family picture.  I'm also happy nobody made me play the piano this year since I haven't even been able to touch a keyboard in over a year (sad!!!).

I was able to sit down and actually talk with all of my cousins, which was very, very nice.  One of them is headed south to warmer weather, one is busy with two young boys, and so on... we are all growing up and moving on with our lives.  It was nice to be able to be with them all this (last?) time.

But I gotta say, when I walked home to my own apartment where it was quiet and cool and I could flop on the couch and really spread out, that was nice too.  I was satisfied.  I feel like I had my Christmas already.

Not that I'm not looking forward to more Christmas, of course! :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's About Time

My neighbors finally moved their garbage from near the front door to an actual trash bin.  Two weeks.  I went out one day earlier this week to find a wad of slugs near the top of a plastic pop bottle.  I pretty much wanted to hurl right then and there.  I have seen rodent droppings in our porch alcove, so I know the critters are around and healthy.  I sweep our side of the entry area often.

Seriously, disgusting.  If they hadn't moved it by tomorrow, I would have called to complain.  The neighbors upstairs above them have also taken to leaving their trash right outside their door.  It's impossible for me to go home and not see trash bags.

This isn't going to happen again.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Candied Orange Peels

I made candied orange peels last night out of four of The Man's two-dozen (or more) oranges he got from work for the holidays.  We already gave a bunch of the fruit away, and there's no way he can possibly eat that many before they mold (one already did), so I used them.

Free experiments are the best way to go in my opinion! :)

Mind you, I don't like oranges.  They've always made me feel queasy after I eat them.  I don't like orange juice, nor do I particularly care for most orange-flavored things.  So when I say I'd never peeled an orange before last night, it's really true.  I peeled four oranges, saving the pulp and juice for The Man, and using the pithy rind for the candied oranges.

I sliced the rind into quarter-inch-ish strips.  With several pots of water boiling at once, I blanched the rinds three times.  Yes, three separate times.  That's a lot of boilin' water, folks!  I then stewed the rinds in sugar-water for seventy-five minutes.  Once the rinds were mostly translucent, I drained them and rolled half of the strips in sugar (in little batches).  The other half are waiting for a coating of dark chocolate.

They still have to dry out for another day before they're "done," but early taste tests suggest deliciousness.

Free successful experiments are awesome!  And you know what, I kinda like 'em.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I am going to learn to procrastinate.

Sorry for the absence this weekend!  The Man and I have been busy.  I finished a little practice quilt, we visited my sister, his parents, and my parents, and I made a birthday dinner for a good friend.  We also drove a lot, ate a lot, and slept entirely too little.  I spent my entire craft budget this month in one spree, and The Man enjoyed more than his fair share of my homemade devil's food cake (with vanilla frosting and a chocolate bar shaved all over the top).

I'm exhausted, but I have a short to-do list tonight.  It'll all happen... in it's own time.  Maybe tomorrow. ;)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Take Your Trash Out

How would you feel if your neighbors left their trash outside their front door every day?  I'm not talking a huge pile or anything, just two or three small white trash bags and maybe one or two doggy doo-doo bags from their huge-normous pet.  Right outside their door.  And their door just happened to be six feet from your door.  Because you live in an apartment complex.

Welcome to my world.

Our neighbors always have some sort of crap outside their door--literally.  Right now it's a huge bag of recycling that has been there for a week.  Our neighbors are not ill or infirm, nor are they particularly old.  They're younger than 40 and well enough to drive fancy cars and have a nice apartment and both work jobs.  But they have issues getting their trash to the big dumpsters.

I'll admit the dumpsters are quite a distance.  We're talking a good thirty yards away.  For those bad at math, that's about 100 feet (including the little porch, the area in front of the trash can, and accounting for an elevation change of about a half-inch).  If each step is 24",  that's about fifty paces to the nearest dumpsters.  Call it sixty if the steps are short due to the weight of lugging heavy garbage. 

Every time I go outside, I see their trash.  Part of me wants to shout at them and tell them to take it to the dumpster like every other well-behaved citizen.  Part of me wants to just take it to the dumpster to get it out of my way.  And part of me wants to report them to the management office for littering or improper waste disposal or something.

What would you do if you had to see garbage every time you walked out your front door?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dear Pasta Sauce Makers

Hi Pasta Sauce People,

I have a little request from those of us anti-tomato.  Will you please make one variety of pasta sauce called "No Chunks."  Some of us love tomato sauce without discernible tomato pieces.  I don't want to see seeds or skin or flesh or anything other than smooth pureed sauce.  Meat chunks are okay, and I'm even okay with olives or onion chunks, just no tomatoes.  Maybe call it "No Chunks--Except for the Meat."

I respect that people have different tastes.  I respect that it might be easier to market to the majority that likes tomato chunks in their sauce.  What about one small line of sauces that are smoother?  They make smoother applesauce and chunky applesauce... why not tomato sauce?  Pulp-free orange juice... how about skin-free tomato sauce?  It can't be that hard or expensive to make.  I can make it at home, but it takes me a long time and isn't nearly as easy as opening a lovely jar.

It would make me very happy, nice Pasta Sauce People.  No chunks.  Try it sometime.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Plant Deux

I finally did it: I bought a plant.

Some of you may remember waaaaay back when I had my first plant.  When I moved out into my own apartment in 2007, I bought myself a housewarming gift.  I got a little lucky bamboo plant.  I watered it carefully and gave it light every so often.  It survived for about a year before it started looking a bit wimpy.  I decided to fertilize it, but apparently I misjudged the amount of fertilizer because the plant turned yellow and brown within forty-eight hours.  Something tells me I burned the crap outta that poor plant.

I've been plant-less for several years, and I've had my eyes and ears open to the possibility of getting another plant.  I wanted an "idiot-proof" plant (because apparently that lucky bamboo stuff that was supposed to be indestructible wasn't).  I researched online and talked to people.  I scoped out different areas in our apartment we could keep a plant now that I finally have a south-facing window.  When the blinds are closed (99% of the time), our apartment is super dark inside, so I needed to get a shade-tolerant plant.

The Man and I were at Safeway shopping one day (because that's what you do at Safeway...) and I noticed the weirdest looking plants.  They were called a "Zygo Cactus."  Never heard of one of those before.  I did some digging when I got home and found out it's really just a Christmas cactus.  Aha!

Mom had a Christmas cactus years ago that bloomed white flowers once a year.  It only needed to be watered once a week or less, and it pretty much did nothing between the once-each-year blooming period.  Sort of a green spiny bump in a pot.  And they don't really need much sunlight.  Perfect!

Then this weekend, Mom showed me her most recent Christmas cactus.  How she got it isn't as important as the condition in which it was received.  It was dead.  Like no-water-in-six-months dead.  Like spines falling off, no blooms in sight, dirt dried to a crisp dead.  She watered it and fertilized it a bit and within just a few days it perked back up and has blooms on it already.  It's a pretty little cactus with pink blossoms.

If a plant can go six months without light or water and still manage to come back from the brink, that's my kind of plant!  So I bought myself a little 4" potted Christmas cactus with red blossoms.

We're up to day three and it still looks good.  Jaggy 1, Plant 0.

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Good Weekend

I had a good weekend.  Great weekend, actually.  Productive, restful, just the right length...

Saturday morning saw us working industriously.  The Man and I volunteered to help a lady across town clean out her gutters and put up her Christmas lights.  The Man bravely ascended to the top of her roof and had to look down two stories to see concrete below him.  He was very careful and got both jobs done in about two hours.  He also chopped some wood for her.  While he was busy, I swept her back deck and front porch free of the pine needles.  I wiped off her patio furniture.  Then I went inside and helped her make brownies, cut veggies for soup, and prep the produce for her party sandwiches.  We were there about three hours and earned ourselves a few dollars.

Later that day, The Man drove to Portland to visit his brother.  I stayed behind to work on my projects.  I super-deep-cleaned the bathroom, did three loads of laundry, and got the apartment all tidied up.  My parents weren't doing much, so I went over and visited them.  Mom took me to Costco (she has a card, we don't) so I could get The Man and me new Sonicare toothbrushes (my 4-year-old model D-I-E-D).  Mom offered to make swedish meatballs for us since Dad and The Man don't like them and neither of us will make them just for ourselves (too much work, too many leftovers).  Mom's dinner was fantastic.  I worked on my projects over there for a bit before heading home.

Sunday was very relaxing.  I didn't get out of bed until the double-digit hours.  I did manage to get most of one project done and more than half of our presents wrapped.  We did a little shopping and bought new Levi's for both of us ($32 a pair at Freddies!).  I also bought myself a plant.  More about the plant another day.  Suffice it to say this weekend was expensive.

But it was really, really good!

Friday, December 03, 2010

I *Heart* Crock Pots

I arrived home tonight to a crock pot full of turkey noodle soup simmering away.  The total amount of work I expended for dinner was slicing open a bag of frozen egg noodles and upending the bag to put the noodles into the soup.  Snip, flip, dump.  Dinner's done.

Since the turkey was cooked last weekend and then frozen, I didn't have to deal with that.  I did have to chop carrots, celery, and onions last night, but I did that while the waffles were cooking on my waffle iron (breakfast for dinner = yum!).  This morning, I tossed the veggies all into the bottom of the crock pot, put the thawed turkey chunks on top, poured in the chicken stock and some spices, and set it all on low to cook all day.

The Man stirred the pot on his lunch break.  That means he cooked dinner (according to him).

Thursday, December 02, 2010

It's Mine, You Can't Have It

I signed The Man and myself up for life insurance in the coming year.  We have a few little things that we need to have covered should anything happen to either one of us, plus it's nice to know our funerals will be paid for or something like that.  I did the whole "open enrollment" thing this October without a problem, so I was very surprised to see that our life insurance was left off the list when I got my paper summary this week.  Grrr!

I called the life insurance company and was greeted by a non-native English speaker.  Beautiful.  "Good afternoon, ma'am, may I have your Social Security number?"  So I'm sitting there at my desk in my office surrounded by people, and I am pretty protective of that particular number regardless of how kind my coworkers might be.  I told him no, you may not have my Social Security number, is there another number I can give you?  He got very testy with me and made a point to be snotty, "Well I need that number otherwise I can't do anything."

To which I replied, "Please don't take that tone with me.  My Social Security number is not to be used by anyone except the IRS as a means of identification.  You can't have that number."

He became insistent, so I hung up.  No sense beating a dead horse.  I then called up my human resources representative to confirm my benefits were all active, and she asked for a number too.  She asked for my employee ID number.  I gave it to her readily!  I heard some clicking and typing and was told that everything was fine, I just needed to fill out two more forms and everything would be fine.  No SSN, no snotty tone, no other questions, just kindness and answers.

I'm not giving that number out if I don't have to, and I don't think that's an unrealistic expectation.  The "last four" or the "first two" or something like that doesn't bother me, but the whole SSN?  No way.  Just the government forms, that's it.  It's my number, and you can't have it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Gosh and By Golly!

I've been fighting a lot this week, but in a good way (mostly).  I've saved myself a bit of money in the process, too!  Between AT&T, my apartment complex, my health insurance company, and The Man's student loans, we saved (or prevented having to pay) over $400.  Because apparently people don't know how to do math.

Let's start with the apartment complex.  They're nice people, and they've done a great job since we moved in.  I've kept a good ledger showing what we've paid and when, so when we got an overdue notice for $14.50, I was shocked.  The amount wasn't awful, but what on earth did we forget to pay?  So I called them.  I explained that I paid all of our rent on time and that they have a problem.  We receive a credit on our rent each month due to my place of employment (yay!), so I told them they were overcharging us.  In the end, they figured out they forgot to give us our rent credit for September--yes, three months ago, and we're just hearing about it.  We were issued the credit and all is well.

AT&T was a nightmare to deal with tonight.  My phone has been fritzy lately due to the battery.  Sometimes the battery doesn't seat correctly, and it almost never holds a charge more than a day now.  I finally went into the store to get it looked at while it's still under warranty.  The very nice (read: slimeball) salesman I spoke to first informed me that my "very outdated" phone would need to be replaced with a brand new phone and wouldn't I love to have an iPhone?  I got the phone less than a year ago.  They not only no longer carry the phone, but they don't have accessories or batteries for that phone anymore either.  Since I'm not eligible for an upgrade until mid-to-late 2011, he told me I'd have to pay full price for a new phone.  No. Freakin'. Way.  He directed me over to a very nice "sweetheart" of a girl behind a counter to assist me in my new purchase.  When I explained to her my problem, she told me the guy was full of $#@! and that she could get me a replacement battery since my phone was still under warranty.  A phone call later, and a new battery will be shipped to me at no cost next week.  If the battery doesn't work, they'll send me a replacement phone (same model) at no cost to me.  Is it too much to ask for a working phone?


I got a bill in the mail earlier this week indicating I had not paid some $202 for my endoscopy pathology last August.  I was dumbfounded that I hadn't paid some huge bill--granted, I'd never even seen a bill like that or from that company ever, but if I didn't pay right away, they were going to send me to collections.  Like Hell!  I got on the phone yesterday with my health insurance company (which was surprisingly nice and easy to work with...).  They conference-called the pathology service and informed them they keep double-billing me for one procedure.  The pathology people said they never received the insurance company's portion of the bill, so they were sending the full amount to me.  But then they discovered they'd created two accounts for me and that the two accounts were exactly the same, except one was paid and one was not.  So I don't have to pay the bill.


The Man has been paying his student loan off on one payment type called "income contingent."  I pay mine on the "standard plan."  He pays based on what we earn, and I just pay the same flat rate every month for the life of the loan.  Neither of us are interested in paying off the loans super fast since we get a huge tax credit back for our student loan interest, plus it's not bad debt.  However, with us both working, his "income contingent" rate has him paying way more than the "standard plan," so if we switch over (which is allowed with no penalty), we end up saving ourselves over $100/month.  And we won't be paying as much interest.  And we will pay the loan off in the same amount of time.  Yeah, not sure how that works, but we are both happy about it.

Just wait until tomorrow.  The story gets better: I have a real humdinger for ya!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Woman's Take

The transition from childhood to adulthood has been hard for me in many ways.  I still don't think of myself as an adult, but when I think of myself as a child, I don't necessarily identify with that person anymore.  Take, for instance, my childhood black-and-white views of the world.  I've matured and now look at the world through multicolored lenses: not everything is as cut and dried as we'd like it to be.  When I was little, my imagination soared.  Now I have a hard time discussing imagined things.

And it's more than that.  My childhood identity is forged in some little way in how I perceive others' perception of me.  If I thought my parents thought I was behaving poorly, then I thought of myself poorly.  Likewise, if someone told me I couldn't sing, I refrained from singing at all cost well into adulthood.  But this perception is so very wrong now.  Not only does my voice not shatter glasses, it can be incredibly sweet and, at times--like when nobody is listening--downright good.  (No auditions or tryouts for me though, my voice isn't likely to be shared anytime soon.)

People considered me a tomboy when I was little, so that's how I acted.  It was a sort of circular reinforcement or something.  They thought I wasn't feminine, so I didn't try to be feminine.  I didn't have jewelry or pink dresses or ballet lessons as a child.  I wasn't "girly" and still don't dress terribly feminine since that's not how I'm known.  But inside me is a real feminine woman screaming for pink and diamonds and massages!  I'm just too practical to spend money on diamonds and dresses and spa days.  It's not that I don't want those things, but I don't see a need to spend money on them.

And at the same time, there's a quiet femininity, a truly confident femininity that I've always possessed despite my boyish childhood looks or my love of denim.  I don't need glitz and glamor to prove that I'm a woman.  I don't need to wear dresses to romanticize my feminine charm.  The Man tells me he's so thankful I don't need to cover myself in any makeup every day in order to feel like I can go out.  A little chap stick and I'm ready for the world, like me or not.

I get frustrated when people still think of me like I was when I was ten years old.  I'm not into baseball or lighthouses or even playing the flute anymore, although they are beautiful in their own ways and I still respect each love, I've moved on.  I love to cook and sew and wear shiny things and swear every once in a while and keep a home and love The Man until it hurts.

I feel like people aren't allowing me to be feminine and have girly likes and dislikes.  I feel like I'm not allowed to change or grow and love sparkles.  I feel stuck in the between.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Day of the Turkey

The Man received a turkey from his employer for Thanksgiving.  Since Mom already had a turkey for yesterday, I decided to roast The Man's bird today and freeze it.  Our little freezer just isn't big enough for a whole frozen turkey, so by cooking it and then portioning it out, we can eat on it little by little throughout the next few months.

I've cooked turkeys before, always in an oven bag in a big roasting pan.  However, I don't actually own a big roasting pan.  Mom assured me a large cookie sheet would work fine for my 14-pounder, but I had my doubts.  I thawed the turkey from Thursday night until Saturday morning in the refrigerator, and then I took it out this morning and did a water bath in my sink, changing the water and turning the bird every twenty minutes or so.  Once I got the neck loose (ugh!) and the giblet bag out, I threw the turkey in the floured oven bag, poked some holes, threw it all on the cookie sheet, and tossed it in the oven for three hours.

Just a note: the oven bags sort of melt onto the cookie sheets.  Yeah.  BUT! After the turkey cooks completely and the juices spill out of the bag, the plastic bags will peel up if you're careful.  I thought my cookie sheet was ruined, but after a little baking soda scrub, it's good as new!

Three hours later, the turkey was roasted golden brown and the red thermometer spring had popped up, so I gave it another fifteen minutes and then pulled it out.  Well, first I burned myself twice and splashed hot juices on my hand and some of the oven door before I had to yell for The Man to come rescue the turkey from the oven for me.  He says that means he cooked the turkey today since he had to do the last part of it.  Bah.

I let the bird sit and then took it out of the bag, peeled all the skin off (yuck!), and then dissected it once it had cooled a smidge.  I got six quart-sized freezer bags full of turkey, evenly splitting the white and dark meat into each bag since we both like some of each when we eat.  The bags have just enough turkey for a pot of soup or a substantial serving of meat as part of a meal.  The juices are all cooling in the fridge in a covered mason jar so they can be skimmed, thinned, and then frozen as stock.

Meanwhile, I attempted to make myself a pair of pajama pants.  That was a complete failure.  I also did two more loads of laundry, set up the Christmas tree, and cleaned the kitchen (six times).

A lot of work to cook a bird, but it sure will taste good with cornbread and broccoli tonight! :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Fun

After a delightful Thanksgiving with my parents, sister and brother-in-law, and aunt yesterday, The Man and I ventured out to Michael's craft store for their Thanksgiving Day sale.  To say that we were underwhelmed doesn't even come close.  We went to bed at a decent hour and got up at 5:30am today to go out and score big.  We scored more like small-to-medium than "big."

See, there's a racket.  And it's stupid.  Michael's usually has pretty good sales on some of their stuff.  They regularly mark their scrapbooking supplies 40%-off.  They usually have beads 30%-off.  Their seasonal stuff is almost always at least 40-50%-off.  Several days before Thanksgiving, I received my coupons for Michael's big holiday sale and planned out what I wanted from what is usually on sale.  But when we went into the store with our 30%-off-total-purchase-including-sale-items coupon, I quickly realized that nothing was on sale.  Nothing was marked down two cents.  It will actually save me more money to wait on the one or two items I wanted when I can use my 40%-off-single-item coupon that I regularly get than it would have to spend anything last night.  When a store says "sale," I expect a sale, not a gimmick.  False advertising, I tell ya.  We didn't even buy anything!

This morning was actually not that bad.  We started with the sock sale at Freddy's.  The Man picked out a new style, and I got my standard favorites for just about $2/pair (over half-off).  We each got 12 pairs, so you can do the math, but it is enough for us to go almost two weeks without doing laundry and last another year.  We hadn't purchased new socks since before we got married, so we'd really been waiting on this sale!

Next, we hopped over to JoAnn's where we were horrified by the crafters loading up carts with twenty, thirty, maybe even fifty bolts to get the huge discounts on yardage.  I seriously thing one lady had more than fifty bolts.  Those of us with a meager two or three were not exactly thrilled about being behind that lady in line.  Oh, and the lines!  They have three cutting counters, so we queued up in three lines.  The employees kept making snide comments about how people should be making one line, but they weren't actually telling anyone to move.  There were no signs, no lines on the floor, no motions or gesture to indicate where to line up.  I didn't exactly feel much sympathy for their "problem."  I managed to find the BOGO machine quilting threads and some notions, and I got some pretty flannel fabric to make my own pajama pants all for $15.

We popped into GameStop but didn't buy anything, and then we mosied over to Staples where The Man treated himself to a brand new desk chair.  After the mail-in rebates, we will only have paid $30 for the black manager's chair.  It will be the first desk chair he's ever owned that wasn't a hand-me-down falling apart disaster, and it is super comfortable.  If my chair wasn't in as good of condition and the rebate was limited to one per household, I might have jumped at the deal!  Alas, I shall suffer with my bigger, still nicer, more powerful manager's chair. ;)

And we were home eating cinnamon rolls by 8:00am.  I then took a nap.  It was a good nap. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hooray for Snow Days!

I took a snow day yesterday.  The driveway was frozen over, and I couldn't get my car door opened, so I stayed home where it was safe and dry and moderately warm.  And I finished another quilting project!

Today was almost as good as yesterday.  I went to work at 8am like usual, but alerts soon went out that OSU had a fire someone on campus in the steam tunnels or something, so more than half of campus was shut down.  My building was not directly effected, so I didn't have much hope for leaving early.  Around 11am another alert went around saying more and more buildings were being shut down and, finally, the entire campus was being shut down.  Classes cancelled, work ceased, and I went home.

So let's do a quick run-down, shall we?  I worked eight hours on Monday, took Tuesday as a snow day (vacation), worked four hours today and get paid for the four hours the university was closed without having to use any leave.  I get Thursday and Friday as paid holidays.  12 hours of work, 8 hours of vacation, 20 hours of paid leave not coming out of my pocket.  Not bad for one week.  --- I just don't want to hear any comments about being a state employee in a cushy job, k?  My job is NOT taxpayer funded.

The Man and I scooted over to Borders tonight with our 50%-off coupons and each got a book super cheap.  We're about ready for a long couch session with our blankeys and books and tea.  It's totally a snuggly night as the last of the snow disappears.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to Remove Fusible Web from an Iron

Why on earth would I write such a tutorial, you ask?  Experience.  Entirely too much experience earned this weekend.

In addition to plumbing and heating issues (lucky me), I also managed to attempt ironing fusible webbing glue side up.  I only had three pieces to iron, and the first two went perfectly.  The last piece just stuck to the iron something awful.  When I pulled the paper away from the hot iron, all I could see was a velveteen finish of melted glue.

I figured the iron--a nice one, but not an expensive one--was done for.  With Christmas coming up, I wasn't terribly heartbroken, but I really do like the iron I have.  Pfft.

I popped onto the Internet to research solutions to my sticky mess.  One person suggested acetone.  Another person suggested lighter fluid.  Neither option do I own.  I don't wear nail polish and don't play with fire (ha!), so I had to try something I do have.  I started with Goo Gone.  Total and complete failure.  So, covered in greasy orange goo, I let the iron cool completely.  I broke out my handy-dandy razor blade (just a regular straight blade, the rectangle kind with the oval in the middle) and put it at a sharp angle to the iron's surface.  Thankfully I bought a stainless steel iron rather than a teflon one... but would fusible web have stuck to the teflon?  Blah.  I shaved the majority of the glue off the iron lickety-split.  I didn't know what to use for the last little bits, so I figured either rubbing alcohol or vinegar ought to work, right?  At least the iron will be sterile if not still gluey.  I tried vinegar first, and as luck would have it, it worked!  A little white vinegar on an old rag and some elbow grease cleaned 'er right up no problem.

So now you know.  And I know.  And let's just say we're never going to let that happen again, m'kay?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Apartment Repair Karma

Every apartment has its own unique quirks.  Our last apartment had a management quirk--that was fun.  Our current apartment seemed delightful and quirk-free until this weekend.  If it could go wrong, it did.

Saturday night, the toilet became plugged.  Never mind who did it--we both need to eat more fiber to be sure--it happened.  We both gave plunging a go, a go, and a go again, until we finally realized that our black rubber plunger was completely useless.  By that point, both of my hands were raw.  The water would drain, but slowly and never completely.  After a shower and some research online, we determined we should buy a new plunger, one that would actually flex and bend and work.  We hopped over to Home Depot and grabbed one of those little red plungers, the kind that flex really well and are super cheap.  Obviously the non-flex rubber kind didn't work, so maybe this kind would, right?  Well... it did end up creating much better suction and did help out a lot, but by the time we went to bed (three hours later), I had a blister and could hardly straighten back up after being hunched over the plunger.  We hoped a good long "soak" overnight would help things along.  This morning was no different than last night: partial flush, slow drain, no luck.  We could put liquid waste in the toilet, just nothing solid.  I finally had to go around 3pm and determined to give 'er one more good plunge session before we called in the apartment emergency line to have it fixed.  The toilet flushed just fine.  Best sound I've heard all weekend!

And then there was the wall heater.  Anyone familiar with modern apartments knows the joy of Cadet heaters.  They're these useless little holes in the wall that heat is supposed to blow out of, but my experience is something more like a useless little hole that just blows warmish air and costs me a lot of money.  Well it's finally getting cold outside, and our delightful apartment was a tropical 62 degrees inside when we got home from Salem last night.  I was so cold, I had to curl up with two blankets between plunging sessions.  I was worried the toilet was going to freeze before we got it unclogged.  So I turned on the wall heater in the living room.  The elements inside the heater starting glowing red-hot immediately, and there was a burning smell quickly thereafter.  I knew a fan was supposed to kick on to blow the hot air, and nothing happened.  It was pretty scary.  We turned the heater off and figured we'd just tell the maintenance guy on Monday (when we're supposed to get snow!).  But this afternoon, we were under 60 degrees inside.  We were cold.  I figured, what the heck, if it works it works, right?  So I turned the wall heater on again.  No red coils.  The fan kicked on right away.  All is well.

Holy freakin' crap.

So the toilet is fixed and the wall heater is fixed and our overall comfort has increased considerably since last night.  I pulled a muscle and wore a blister from plunging a toilet this weekend.  Yeah.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quilt Ideas!

I know I said I'd take a long break from all the quilting and crafting now that the quilt for our bed is done, but I can't stand not having a project.  The Man and I went up to Salem today to see his parents.  He went on up to Portland with his father, and I stuck around with his mother.  She has a huge craft room and quilting books up to the ceiling, so I browsed her selection.  I think I borrowed five patterns to try out, most all of them smaller projects.  I'm definitely not ready for a huge project quite yet, but a good weekend project would help me learn things and maybe get the walls covered a bit better.  We had a great day.

Tomorrow?  Quilting! of course.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why no Normal Shirts, Fashion World?

The Man and I made a quick trip to Salem this evening.  We popped into JC Penney to look for a few things, one of which was a new button-down shirt for me.  I'm talking normal oxford shirt.  Long-sleeved, buttons from the neck to the bottom hemline, simple.  Easy.  Apparently also impossible to find.

It's not hard to find 3/4-length sleeves.  It's not hard to find a bunch of annoying gathers or added details or gold-flecked fabric.  It's also very common to see a shirt that cannot be buttoned together at the top (the highest button is somewhere between the collarbone and a deep plunging V).  Why is it so hard to make a whole shirt these days?

I just want a shirt with no missing parts.  Full-length sleeves.  Buttons from the top of the collar to the bottom hem.  Darts would be appreciated, otherwise it's basically a men's shirt.  Which I seriously considered buying since men seem to have a whole freakin' wall of exactly what I'm looking for, only it's made for a man and not a woman's curves and that pretty much defeats the whole "attractive cut" thing.

I tell ya.  Shopping sucks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Among other reasons to leave Facebook in the dust...

One of my husband's friends recently complained in a wall post about how loathsome it is to have to attend or be an attendant in a sibling's wedding. The friend wasn't complaining because she wasn't happy for her sibling or because she disliked the future in-law. This friend complained because the wedding was going to be "long." Specifically, the bride and groom want to have a full Catholic Mass for their wedding.

An hour. A whole hour. Maybe an hour-fifteen if you count the processional, recessional, and receiving line. SUCH a travesty!

Far be it for a couple to want to celebrate their wedding in the presence of God, family, and friends, and to make their faith a central part of the celebration rather than their "love of the outdoors" or their need to show off at some exclusive location. Really? Have we reached a point in our society where the idea of being married in a church is so off-putting that we can publicly humiliate couples who choose to take solemn vows inside one? Have we reached the point where the idea of taking a whole hour to vow your life to another person isn't fast enough? An hour? Really?

A whole hour to pledge your life to another person seems like such a strikingly, astonishingly short amount of time, come to think of it... and our Catholic wedding wasn't even a full Mass. I'm absolutely stunned that another person would have the guts to say it's "too long" or that it's "too boring." It's the beginning of a marriage, a couple hopeful to be together for the rest of their lives: would you rather have it quick and faithless?

I'm so glad I am not on Facebook anymore. I don't think I could handle it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Christmas Shopping in November

The Man and I decided to start our Christmas shopping very early this year in order to split the cost up a bit.  I was looking at some ads for local stores and realized that yesterday was a shopping day too good to pass up.  Plus I didn't even have to leave town!

We have gifts for all but two people already!  I have two other people who will get a few other smaller things with the gifts we already purchased, but we're nearly done.  In one day.  WOW!

And my sister came over on Friday night so we could craft our Christmas cards together.  I haven't had as much luck with the rubber stamping as I would have liked, but I think the cards can be fixed.  Only 45 left to do... ugh.

I got a good jump on the holiday season, and I saved a bunch on sales yesterday, so I'm happy.  Staying debt-free always makes me very happy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Blessed Week Off

Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not about to get a week-long vacation from work anytime soon.  I simply took the entire week off from crafting, creating, cleaning, or doing anything other that existing... and it was really nice!  Of course, I did have to do some cooking, but that wasn't bad either.  I made some incredible chicken last night with a side of rice and celery sticks filled with peanut butter.  PB's a veggie, right?  It comes from a legume...

The Man and I are almost through with season one of our JAG-a-thon.  I begged him to watch two episodes Wednesday night and two more last night so that I could return the DVD to Netflix on Friday and get the next disc by Monday night.  He has a movie for us one night over the weekend, probably some shoot-'em-upper I won't want to watch.

Still no plans to start another quilt, although when I was showing my parents the fabric before I started the last one, Mom made a comment that she has a hard time finding pretty blankets for a king-sized bed.  It would be sort of nice to see a quilt I made on someone else's bed, though I am still getting used to seeing one on my bed that I made!

Our weekend is filling up quickly, but we're hoping to have some down time Sunday evening after some friends come to visit us.  I hope to get some early pre-madness Christmas shopping done at some point, but I just don't know how motivated I'll be after my lazy week.

It feels really good to take time off and do what I want sometimes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Adventures of Jaggy & The Man

The Man mused to me on the couch last night that if some bigwig movie screenwriter were to write a movie about our lives via the information from my blog, it would be a darn boring movie.  He thinks it would be better written as a comic strip.

I'll get back to you about the comic strip drawing...

But seriously.  If someone made a movie about our lives, even I wouldn't want to watch it.  It would be like watching people watch a movie or watching people play video games.  Yay.

No, really.  A general synopsis of the movie of our daily lives:

Morning: get up and go to work, music montage through the brushing of hair and teeth scene.
Lunch: go home and eat a PB&J sandwich.
Afternoon: complete lack of interesting activity.
Evening: dinner, showers, TV or a movie, reading, blogging, a few chores, and then bedtime.

No climax, no weird plot devices, no symbolism, no awe-inspiring theme music...

I'm really going to have to work on the comic strip though.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Think About It After You Read This

I've had sex on the mind lately, but not like you're thinking.

When was the last time you saw sex portrayed in movies or on TV or even in conversation as anything other than lustful, selfish, overly physical, domineering, fake, or greedy?  Really think about it.  When was the last time you saw sex in the media as a normal occurrence between a husband and wife?  I'm not talking a full-blown action scene, just a casual reference. 

I've never seen nor heard of sex--outside of the textbook-style conversations in school--as anything other than "a duty," a weapon of controlling the other spouse, a shameful act, an immoral urge, or a subject of gossip.  I've never heard of two married people engaging in sex without having fought, begged, or bemoaned about it first.

Because people don't talk about it.  The people in control of the media know that "normal" sex doesn't sell.  Only plastic, airbrushed, model sex sells.  The natural act of intimacy has been so tainted by Hollywood that anything other than 100% perfect interactions is unacceptable.  The MPAA would have me believe that sex is two people kissing, falling onto a bed, and then waking up together.  It's so unacceptable to show marital relations that only limited intimacy can be presented.

Yet it's 100% acceptable to show a man blow another man's CGI head off, squirt fake blood around a room, and then have CSI come in and determine what happened.  It's okay to say the F-word hundreds of times in a movie, but it's not okay to show someone "doing the deed."

I'm not trying to be down on sex.  On the contrary, I'm just wondering why "normal" sex is bad, but our culture is obsessed with it anyway.  We dare not show it in its full glory, but a half-nakkey woman on a billboard is good.  Sex is immoral outside of marriage, so we can't even talk about it with anyone but our spouse, but half of marriages fail, and one of the biggest things couples fight about is sex.  Really?

All I can figure out is that, from the time I was old enough to know what sex was, I've seen all manner of media portrails of unhealthy relationships: what people are doing wrong, what they can do to make their sex lives better, what celebrities are doing about it, and all manner of perverse periphery.  But I've never seen the media actually discuss real sex.  Flabby, squishy, messy, smelly sex complete with failed attempts and dual success and everything in between.

Because we can't talk about it.  That would be bad.  It would be bad to admit that we're human and not perfect and not airbrushed and not censored.  Golly.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

My First "Real" Quilt is Done!

It's done, it's done!  And I have pictures to prove it!  I finished my first queen-size quilt this weekend in a massive 18-hour push.  I worked all day Saturday and half of Sunday to get it finished, and now it's on our bed, nice and cozy.  As you can see, the primary color selection is purple and green.  I tried to prevent it from becoming too feminine, but that didn't work as well as I'd hoped.  The pattern is a modified log cabin, and I pretty much used strips (though I cut every piece myself using a rotary cutter). I machine stitched everything, and tied the quilt rather than actually quilting it.  My little sewing machine was balking at sewing the top pieces together, so I can't imagine trying to roll up half a queen-size blanket and squeezing it through there.  The back is solid white muslin with no seams.  The border is black with some small dark grey swirls on it.  I even mitered the corners of the border.

I learned a lot on this quilt.  First, even though every quilter tells you this, I have to repeat it since I learned the hard way (again): you must cut and sew every piece accurately.  I also learned what a joy a non-bent sewing needle is... d'oh!  I had much better luck quilting with a real quilting needle and machine quilting thread (mercerized cotton) than with cheaper stuff or a generic needle.  And I learned to respect quilters who actually quilt.  It's not an easy job.

I also learned I will never be able to go back to comforters or blankets on my bed.  It's a quilt or bust for me now... *sigh*

I have a couple other pictures on Picasa if you're interested.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Blog Year Retrospective #5

Happy five year blogiversary to me!  Yes, it was five years ago that this experiment began.  I have had more visitors here in the last year than in the previous four combined, so I think the whole blog thing is headed in a good direction. :)

A year ago, I was a very new bride.  I was literally just getting home from my honeymoon when I wrote my annual review.  Married life has been amazing.  We accomplished many "firsts" as it was our first year of marriage.  We had our first compromise, our first Christmas, our first tax season, and our first opportunity to conquer something together (other than wedding planning), among other exciting firsts.  We learned to live on a very tight budget as The Man didn't have a job our first six months.  I'm not talking a date on the town once a month tight, I'm talking potatoes three nights a week with no meat tight.  And we stayed debt-free.  Thankfully he found full-time work, and we've been incredibly blessed to have the opportunities to buy "grown-up" furniture and a brand new car recently... debt, but we replaced a car that hit 500,000 miles.  Yeah.

Apartment life is oh-so-thrilling.  We had difficulty involving a certain air conditioner this year, not with the unit itself but with the apartment management who were a treat to work with (not).  After much thought, we decided to move at the end of the summer.  Now we have more space--our space, not mine-and-he-moved-in-with-me-space--and we pay less money, plus it's much quieter.  Did I mention bigger?  WAY bigger?  Yeah.

Being married sure did cut down on some of our other hobbies.  We haven't danced much at all, and aside from a trip to the coast one weekend, we didn't have many real adventures (blah!).  Blogging has become a regular, routine part of my life, sometimes a chore and sometimes enjoyable.  I didn't have too many funny moments that were blog-worthy, nor did I have many astounding life lessons that I shared here.  I turned into one of those boring married people in less than a year!

Sure, I ranted a lot (just ask The Man), and I did get a fancy new camera this year that allowed me to take some wonderful pictures including my sister's engagement and wedding photos.  I didn't make any huge leaps and bounds with my faith this year, but I'm not worried.  I'm working on that strong, silent type of faith, the kind I've always respected the most.  (It's the "silent" part I keep having trouble with! HA!)

I've had quite a year learning to cook for two instead of one!  I started meal planning so that we didn't eat pasta every other night.  I scoured the Internet for new and exciting recipes.  I even invented some of my own recipes and shared them on my bloggy.  Oddly, I didn't cook any really bad meals our first year--oh no, that was last Friday night, and we're just not going to talk about it, k?  And I did not gain fifteen pounds in our first year of marriage (so there, evil genetics).

Most notably, aside from the whole "marriage" thing, I've indulged in one particular hobby this year.  I crafted in earnest.  I am a practical crafter, so the vast majority of the stuff I made I'm using now.  I threw together a few smaller items, and I finished my first quilt this summer.  I attended a craft retreat with my mother-in-law.  I even had to set up a crafting budget lest I go crazy and try to make everything all at once!

It's hard to summarize all that I've done and learned in the first year of marriage, so I don't think I'll attempt it now.  Know that we're happy and healthy, working hard (both of us--full time, hallelujah!), and thankful for incredible families and friends.  Who knows what the next year will bring: joy, sadness, challenges, victories, or changes.  I'm a little bit scared and a whole lot excited to find out.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Quilting Mayhem

I've been working like a crazy person trying to get my quilt done.  Unfortunately I didn't spend as much time as I wanted on it on my birthday day off this week as I felt guilty for not having my family's calendars done yet, but such is life.  The calendars are much closer to being done, and I'm still kicking on the quilt.

If I can sew a strip onto each block tonight, iron it, and sew another piece, and then iron, sew the last pieces, and iron tomorrow morning, I can probably get the top pieced and the trim on by the end of the day.  Hopefully I'll get it turned, too, so that all I have to do Sunday morning is tie it.

I am thinking I'll probably end up getting it all done Sunday night, realistically, but that won't make me happy.  I have lots of other things that need to be done that take up time as well.  Maybe I can make The Man do the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning...

Yeah, yeah, that sounds like the perfect way to spend a weekend: I quilt, The Man does chores.  HA!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Birthday Vacation

I'm taking tomorrow, my birthday, off.  After Monday's daytime nightmare-that-shall-not-be-shared, going to work this morning was quite a stretch.  But I did it.  And I'm taking tomorrow off.

And I'm quilting all day long.  If I work hard, I think I can get the piecing done.  That leaves sewing the pieces together and stitching the back bolt-widths together once I actually decide and buy that fabric.  I already have the batting.  Need to get the yarn/floss to do the tying, and maybe a curved needle just to be "official," but that's little stuff.

If I really push myself, there's a possibility my quilt could be done this weekend.  A remote possibility.  But I'm hopeful.

And I get my birthday off from work.  Hallelujah!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Time to Clean out the Cob Webs Already

I don't really know what a "cob web" is come to think of it.  I know what a cob is, and I know what a web is, and I have no idea how a cob gets a web or a web can get a cob.  Whatever they are, they need to disappear!

When The Man and I moved recently, we purchased two sets of Sterilite shelving.  I've slowly been amassing totes in order to clean out our cluttered extra closet.  I have six of the clear large size and six of the clear small size, but I could use about six more of the big ones.  The smaller ones work great for fabric scraps, computer games, and various other little items.  The big totes are full of blankets and bedding, games, and junk we (I) insist on keeping (like my pencil collection which is too big for one of the little totes).  None of the containers are perfectly water tight or bug proof, but they do make moving things and searching for things easier.  With the handy-dandy label maker The Man bought me for my up-coming birthday, I have everything neatly labeled and sorted.  Phew!

I've felt pretty bad today with a nasty headache.  We'll call it a head cobweb for all the inability-to-think I suffered.  My parents stopped this morning, and I wasn't even much of a conversationalist with them.  Felt kinda bad.  I braved post-OSU-football-game traffic this evening to get over to Bi-Mart to look at a lamp and a bookcase.  I was surprised at the lack of candy left for Halloween tomorrow.

Speaking of Halloween and cob webs and all that spooky stuff, did you know it's Christmas already?  Oh yeah, it's October and the stores are fully decked out in red and green.  Michael's is the worst offender in my book.  They don't even have a Thanksgiving decoration selection, just eighteen aisles of glittered faux flowers, bins overflowing with imported rubbish, and the world's most hideous display of non-green fake Christmas trees.  I'm all for fake trees, but a purple fake tree?  Really?

Laundry to do, dishes to do, a month's worth of menus to plan, and a shopping list to make.  And two hours to get it all done before bed.  I'm hungry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oven-Dried Apples

I tried an experiment with some Granny Smith apples last night.  The apple chips turned out wonderfully.  I simply washed and thinly sliced three medium apples and arranged the slices in a single layer on my Silpat-lined cookie sheets.  I put the sheets in my oven set to "warm," about 140-degrees for around four hours with the door propped open just a smidge to let the steam out.  I did flip the slices over about half way or a little more later.  Once the dehydrated apples cooled completely, I stored them in a couple freezer bags and left them on the counter.  Easy as that.  If I could find some FruitFresh, the apples would be less brown, but honestly the color doesn't bother me on dried apples.  Next time I might slice a little thicker and dehydrate longer, maybe overnight.  I like the chips a tad more chewy and a bit less crunchy, but still, these are fabulous.  And healthy! :D

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Did I Ever Mention How Much I Hate the Dentist?

My day included a trip to the dentist.  I think that deserves at least a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or three as retribution on my teeth.

Yeah.  So there, evil dentist man.

My whole face hurts, my teeth feel out of place, and I can't get this smeared chap stick off my ear.  Because, really, sticking a finger in my mouth, dragging it across my lips, and then sliming my ear makes me feel so warm and fuzzy.  Nothing like a wet willy to complete the visit.

Peanut butter cups, indeed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Weekend Down and Up

Blogging wasn't very high on my radar this weekend.  After my uncle's funeral on Saturday and a lazy Sunday on the couch, I just didn't have the energy to sit at a screen and pour out my thoughts and emotions.

This weekend was a whirlwind.  We drove to Albany and picked up my sister and brother-in-law and headed to Portland.  We stopped at Bridgeport Village to get me new shoes, but we had to pop over to Washington Square to buy the right color.  Thankfully the price was the same.  We grabbed lunch and then hustled out to Gresham for the funeral.  Afterward, we visited with some of my uncle's family and had a nice chat at one of their houses.  We left in the late afternoon and puttered back to Albany to drop off our passengers, then we hopped the freeway to my parents' house for my sister's birthday dinner party.  We all had very fully bellies and, later, some laughs over the game we played.  The Man and I didn't get home until 11:00pm.

Sunday dawned entirely too early.  I didn't feel very well, probably exhaustion from all the go-go-going from the day before, and I wasn't exactly in the mood to go grocery shopping and to Mass, although after three loads of laundry we finally got around to both.  After a late lunch, I melted onto the couch for a nice nap.  I did manage to throw some pork in the crock pot, so dinner was a snap, and I was even motivated enough to iron my quilt blocks that I haven't worked on since the move *shame.*  Then I watched a movie, snuggled on the couch with my blankey, and maybe had a cookie or three before bed.

That pretty much brings us to Monday where I'm motivated enough to do a little more cleaning and, if I'm super lucky, take time to install an old game on my computer.  We'll see if The Man's old lappy can handle some Sims.  *evil grin*

Friday, October 22, 2010

No More Drive-Bys, Please

My mother does it.  Apparently some of my coworkers do it.  I even have friends who do it.  And I can't stand it!  They are snoopy, creepy, stalker people who find it necessary to do a drive-by to find out where someone lives.

For example, The Man and I just moved.  We sent out moving announcements to let people know where we live now.  I even took extra time to draw a map for them.  You'd think that was enough, but no.  They saw the map and then had to ask, "okay, where is that exactly?"  It's right there!  Where the big yellow star is on the map!  Hello!

But they plugged our new address into their computers and GPS devices just to get a different angle.  Some of them even followed their GPS all the way to our physical location just to see where we live.  They didn't come up to the door, didn't knock, didn't stop and say hi, no, they just drove by.  Slowly.

I realize that addresses are public information, but I think there should be a law against stalking someone just to see where they live.  As if the exterior of our giant apartment complex with absolutely no personal touches by us has any sort of reflection on the type of people we are, the amount of money we have, or our ability to do yard work.  It's one thing if someone actually designed a house or did some major landscaping... then I could see an inspection-type drive-by.  But for an apartment?  Really?

No more drive-by stalking.  Please.  It's just creepy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

There's a Reason they Call me Jaggy

Thanks to Netflix, I've queued up all ten seasons of JAG.  That's right folks, I'm starting from the beginning and watching them one by one.  We're up to season one, disc two already... only about fifty six more discs to go.

And I'm going to love every second of it!

The Man is even watching them with me, though he keeps asking me when Mac is going to show up.  Second season, I tell him, soon.  We have to get through the Meg episodes and I think a promotion for Harm first and eighty-eleven cheesy grins, stolen Top Gun scenes, and swelling emotional background music moments.

Did I mention I'm going to love every second of it?

Yeah, they call me "Jaggy" for a reason...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Hate Big Cities

I had to drive up to Beaverton today to do some training for work.  For once, I was the trainer and not the trainee!  Left in the dark and got to the big city around 9:00am.  Took I-5 to 217 no problem, but then traffic got nasty, especially headed into Portland.  Thankfully the GPS took me off the highways and onto side streets pretty fast.

I was so excited coming home to hit not only back roads, but entire stretches of roads without another car on them.  I was thrilled to get into Corvallis and not have to wait an hour at a stoplight.  Heck, I was just excited to know shortcuts and ways around the tiny bit of traffic I did encounter around here.

I am so not cut out for big cities...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oil, Filter, and Cat Change

Dad had some excitement when he went to change the oil in my car this weekend.  He lifted the hood on my little car to find a mass of fur sitting on top of some part of the engine back by the firewall.  Apparently a cat crawled up under the hood and died sometime in the last month (since that's the last time I know I checked my oil).

We've accounted for both of my parents full-grown-and-much-too-large-to-fit cats.  The Man and I looked around our apartment complex for signs indicating a missing cat and found nothing.  The one black cat that we know about was alive and very friendly the day after Dad changed my oil, so we know it's not that one.  He thinks it was a feral cat from behind their property that was looking pretty sick.  He said they recently found another dead cat up by their house, so he knows they're around.  Simon and Isabelle (their cats) don't go outside the garage either, so there's little risk of them getting sick from the feral cats.

Mom sent me a picture of the cat on my phone, and it didn't really look like anything but a sleeping cat on my engine.  No blood and guts, no burns, just dead.  Dad said there was no smell.  We really just have no idea how the cat got up in there or how long it had been there.  Part of me feels bad for the poor kitty, but maybe it's better to go on a warm engine that at the teeth of something more vicious.

I already promised Dad I'd not send my car to him with a cat under the hood next time he changes my oil.  Bet his ticker was tickin' awfully hard when he saw that!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy First Anniversary to Us!

We did it!  We survived--and thrived--through a whole year of marriage!

I wish I had some sort of great lesson learned or awe-inspiring quote or funny recollection, but I'm not sure what to think still.  A year is both too long and too short to try to analyze.

All I know is that we're more in love now than we were a year ago.  We're also better at talking and experienced at disagreeing.  We're better at forgiving more quickly and learning what is and is not important to us as a couple.  It's just like a year ago only more of everything good and bad (but mostly good).

Being married is a lot of work, but I wouldn't trade The Man for the world.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Goodbye Uncle Chuck

Following a stroke and bleeding in the brain, my uncle passed away this morning.  I'm sure he met St. Peter and St. Paul at the pearly gates in full leather with his motorcycle engine roarin.'

I have quite a few uncles, as my parents both had several siblings.  These people are blood-related to me, so they are "Aunt Jane" and "Uncle John" to me (never just the first name, but that's another story).  Some of their siblings have married and remarried.  If I've grown up with that significant other, they're my aunts or uncles too.  My mom's younger-older brother and his wife are--without a doubt--"Uncle..." and "Aunt..."  But I have another aunt who has remarried a man who I do not call "Uncle..."  He is not my uncle.  He is just a guy who married into the family that I like.  Not a good or bad thing, just not "Uncle."

My uncle who passed away never actually married my aunt.  He had no legal or religious reason for me to call him my uncle.  However, he was always kind and respectful toward me, and he made my aunt very, very happy.  He fit right in to the family--certainly a bunch of characters, and he was one.  I'm not often one to "adopt" family as I have such an awesome real family, but this uncle earned it.  He was my uncle and my "Uncle Chuck"  And for me, that's saying something.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anniversary Flowers

The Man surprised me at work just before lunch today with a vase of red roses to wish me a happy anniversary.  He really does know how to make a girl feel like the most important and special person in the whole world. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I keep telling myself I will add pictures of our new apartment.  There's a tiny voice in my head telling me to not post anything that will give away our location at the same time, so I had to be choosy with my pictures.  The first picture is of our bed.  Not that exciting to you maybe, but it shows our new headboard and The Man's quilt that his grandmother made for him before she passed away.  He didn't get to see the quilt until we received it for our wedding shower via his mom.  We both love the quilt very, very much.  We were also lucky to find flannel sheets that match perfectly!

The second picture is of my laundry closet.  Again, not that exciting to you maybe, but it was a big deal to me.  We don't have space to put a proper hamper on either side of the machines, so I used some baskets up above that are labeled "whites," "darks," and "jeans and towels."  We don't really have enough jeans to do them in a separate load, so we wash them with the towels.  Some people might disapprove, but it works for us.  Also, please know that my dryer does not actually have that much junk on it now.  I took these pictures just after we moved.
So there you have it.  A peek inside my little corner of the world.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Show the Kids Some Courtesy, Will Ya?

I recently attended a charity event (name withheld) where some teenagers performed a few song and dance numbers.  They were the dinnertime entertainment between courses.  Seeing that I was sitting a narrow gym's distance across from these performers, who were singing into microphones, I expected to hear them sing.  I expected a lot of things, I guess, none of which actually happened.

My biggest complaint of the entire charity event was the guests.  As the teens began singing, the guests just talked louder.  To hear each other across the table (a library table, not even a round table), we had to speak up, though we did know better than to talk during the performances.  Furthermore, guests would get up and amble about blocking the view for other guests, and distracting other guests, and completely ignoring the performers.  I was ashamed to be a part of the audience and felt terrible for these kids who had put so much work into the performance.  It's not easy to get up in front of people, I know (seven years of band anyone?).  But I can't imagine it's any easier to get up in front of people who are ignoring you or are rudely trying to outperform you decibel-wise.

If you are ever invited to an event, regardless of what kind of event, if there is anything more than a background orchestra, show some courtesy, will ya?  Please?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Art & Soul Retreat: So Much Fun!

My mother-in-law generously paid for me to go to the 2010 Portland Art & Soul Retreat this last Friday.  The retreat is actually more than a week long, but I only attended two classes, both on Friday.  My 9:00am to 4:30pm class was about photo tinting or hand-coloring photos.  The evening class we took together from 6:30pm to 9:30pm, a sort of junk-to-art class.

The retreat was held at the Embassy Suites Hotel at the end of the PDX airport runway.  We could hear jets all day, especially the F-16s that flew right over our heads as we went out to get our lunches from our cars.  They couldn't have been but a couple hundred feet over us, zooming so fast and loud it shook the ground and made our ears hurt.

My photo tinting class was long but good.  I learned more about that than I expected, taking away a better idea of what is involved in photo tinting.  It's not just slapping some fake make-up on a portrait or filling in some tree color.  I learned about different kinds of media and how they can be used effectively on different substrates.  That was the "scientific" part of what we focused on.  For example, you would never be able to smear Sharpie ink on cardstock.  And you'd never be able to effectively color a glossy photo with crayons.  Certain substrates use certain coloring agents better.  Soft papers with a big "tooth" work best for oil pastels.  Medium papers (think regular paper) are great with colored pencils or some dense pigment paints.  Shiny papers require stains watered down and floated onto the surface.  Clay-like papers (think old photographs with a matte finish) take more media than any other type of paper--they're a dream to work with.  The rest of that class was not so scientific and quite relaxed.  We colored inside and outside of the lines.  We smeared, smudged, and scrubbed on a lot of different kinds of pictures.  At the end, we all shared our work.  Everyone was kind and supportive.  Very fun.

Between the two classes, The Man's Mom and I hopped the river to Vancouver where we ate at Sweet Tomatoes.  I restrained myself and only had two blueberry muffins this time (oh the willpower!).  We were back in Oregon with just enough time for me to spend my "complimentary" $10 in the retreat store.  I bought myself my first real bone folder and a set of metallic chalk-paints.  My total out-of-pocket in the store was a whopping $0.25, so I think I did okay. :)

We took the second class together in the evening.  It was a trash-to-treasure, a junk-to-art type class.  The total instruction time was about five minutes.  We all got to get up then and scrounge around for items that "spoke to us" and assembled them using glue, caulk, cement, whatever! to hold our projects together.  I made a sort of photo journal box that has room to grow.  The box itself was an old cigar box with pretty ducks on the outside.  I lined the inside with papers and fabrics, glued a few trinkets down, and even invented a funny little picture file thingy.  Around 8:30, we both ran out of gas and decided it was time to motivate southward.

Now I had been a genius and took I-5 to 205 going north.  But coming south in the dark, I chose to trust the GPS to take me home the way I'd come.  About halfway into downtown, I realized something was very, very wrong.  I hate bridges, and the I-5 bridge in downtown scares me to no end.  And there is no way to get off I-84 between 205 and Terwilliger, so I was stuck.  I took a few deep breaths and made it across without incident, but I wasn't very happy about it.  Terwilliger was exciting as it had started raining... and then I was in more traffic than I would have liked until Wilsonville... and then it rained the whole way to Albany... and I didn't get home until 11pm.  Exhausted.

But it was a good day. :)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Dear Food Network

You're driving me nuts with all this talk about nutty flavors!  When one of your shows highlights a rice or a fruit or a cut of meat with "nutty" flavors, there is no indication of what that flavor actually is.  There are whole recipes with nutty flavors that do not call for a single nut.  How can something be nutty and not contain nuts?  Get that Good Eats guy to explain what flavor compounds comprise "nutty" so I can build more dishes that are supposedly nutty and therefore be a better cook (because obviously only the best cooks can prepare nutty foods).

Your chefs constantly talk about nutty rice.  I've cooked quite a bit of rice in my day, and it has never once tasted nutty.  It always tastes... ricey.  Go figure, rice tasting like rice.  I guess that's better than rice tasting like bananas or avocados.  My potatoes don't turn out nutty.  My shortbreads and slow breads and not-so-breads all taste just like they're supposed to as well: not like nuts.

Peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios... these things taste nutty.  Brownies with walnuts taste nutty.  There is a distinct "nut" flavor (and crunch!).  Brownies without walnuts do not taste nutty.  This is not a hard concept to explain.

When your hosts describe something as "nutty," are they referring to the Maillard reaction creating something toasty?  Are they explaining the grain-like flavor of a starchy product?  Are they talking about a known flavor compound (like vanilla or almond) that can be added?  Or are they just making it up to sound smarter than the rest of us?

Oh, and while I'm at it, can you please tell your hosts to stop having orgasms on TV.  I realize that the food they are eating is probably fantastic.  I don't really need to know that they're "having a moment" while on TV.  Whatever they're eating cannot possibly be *that* good.

Tired of Nutty Chefs

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Prayer for Uncles

I don't have much to say tonight.  Two of my uncles are in the hospital, one for heart problems and the other for brain problems.  The prognosis for the heart patient seems to be good--considering he just had a triple bypass...  The stroke/aneurysm is a bit more tricky.

I'm sending out a prayer request for these two men.  Even a quick shout-out to the Big Guy is much appreciated.


UPDATE (9:30pm): Mom's brother has been taken off the ventilator and is already up and moving around after his open heart surgery just two days ago.  Apparently doctors are potentially moving him out of the ICU tonight if things keep going well.  Keep the prayers coming!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Woman on a Mission

There are few things in life I detest more than being treated like less of a person because of my gender.  I am a woman, yes, and the only things I need special treatment about are medical care and clothes.  I don't mind having doors opened for me, but I am fully capable of doing it myself.

Buying a car was a challenging experience for me this weekend.  I've yet to visit a car dealership that doesn't employ jerks who try to sweep things past me or skirt around topics or glance over details because I'm a woman.  Auto parts stores are commonly like that, too.  This weekend was no different.  The finance guy focused much of his time on my husband, explained details to him and not to me, and spoke that obnoxious "guy language" right in front of me, you know, that guy-to-guy "know-what-I'm-talkin'-'bout" dialect.  I understand there was a bit of familiarity between The Man and the finance guy since they see each other every day.  I accounted for that when judging the amount of sexist behavior the finance guy exhibited.

For example, on Friday, The Man and the finance guy were talking about the 'recent graduate discount' The Man got on his car.  The finance guy suggested The Man take the money as cash back instead of as a down payment.  He said, "I'll cut you a check under the table so you can spend it without your wife knowing."  The Man came home that night and told me all about the little scheme the finance guy was trying to pull over me.  I have no worries that The Man would ever sneak that much money around (not to mention we share 100% of our finances with each other, so it's not like I wouldn't notice the bump in our budget).  But I thought the suggestion alone was pretty disgusting.

I know things about cars.  I know how to change wiper blades, tires, oil and filters, some fluids, etc.  I don't know all the details of engines or electronics, but I'm pretty good with the cup holders and the flippy visor thingies and even the whole "park vs. reverse" thing.  When it comes to financing a car, I understand loan terms, interest rates, about how much to put down, and not to make any late payments.  It's not that hard.  But when people talk down to me or dumb things down or skirt around the issue, it really, really pisses me off.  And when they do it simply because I'm a woman, oh, that's just wrong.

Just plain wrong.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Showcase Showdown

The Man and I deliberated for a long time about this decision.  We researched.  We thought.  We consulted each other.  We talked to people.  In fact, I think we talked to too many people.  Today was a big day for us, a very big, very expensive day.  We bought a brand new car.

As previously mentioned, The Man's car recently turned 500,000 miles.  Yes, you did read that correctly.  He has never owned anything but a hand-me-down car (which is not a complaint, just a fact).  He works at a dealership, so he sees fancy new cars every day.  When I mean "researched" a car, I mean he test drove at least one of everything, got to see all the bells and whistles on many, many car types, got to feel out what he does and doesn't like.  Not just sitting at a computer looking, but actually driving, working on, looking at, and reading about cars.  All day long.  For months.

The dealership we bought from offered him a fantastic employee discount, a recent graduate discount, and 0% financing.  When the deal was all said and done, the dealership lost money selling us a car.  We drove it off the lot and it actually gained more value than what we paid for it.

Sorry, no details about the car here.  I'll suffice to say it's an imported car with a few slight modifications that make it look sporty and sleek.  But it's still a family car and not some mid-life-crisis car, so don't worry.  We didn't loose our heads with this purchase.

While buying a new car was stressful (to say the least), I'm glad we did it.  Hopefully it will last us a very long time.  *crosses fingers*  The Man is absolutely giddy today, and I feel like we just won the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right!  (Except we have to pay for it...)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Countertops!

Our apartment complex graciously offered to pay for new countertops in our unit after we moved in since the ones that were there were pretty ugly and scratched badly.  We used to have canary/mustard/tan countertops, and now we have black, brown, and cream.  They look much, much nicer.

The best part?  The contractor didn't even have to take the counters out!  They "reglazed" the tops in place.  The canary/mustard/tan stuff is still there, just underneath the pretty new stuff.  The contractor explained to me that it's sort of like paint used on cars, except they don't spray the huge, heavy clear coat on top (because who needs to drive a kitchen at 60mph down the highway?).  It will be maintained just the same way as laminate, just wipe and go.  Don't put hot things on it (duh), and don't cut directly on it (duh), and don't use scratchy things on it (duh).

So our apartment is a little tiny bit smelly from all the spraying the contractor did, sort of like a mild nail salon, but it's quickly dissipating.  Since we closed our bedroom doors, there's no smell back there.  We can use the bathroom sink (they did the counter there too) to brush our teeth tonight, and we can be "in business" in the kitchen by noon tomorrow.

Oh, and the company that did the counters was StrongArm Reglaze.  They're out Springfield, a family-owned company, and the guy that came and worked in our apartment was SUPER nice.  He was thorough and kind and treated our place very well.  You can look them up online.  They advertise themselves as a "green" company seeing that they spray over existing counters, tubs, and sinks, rather than replacing the entire thing.  I'm impressed!  (That was an unpaid testimonial... I never make money on my poor bloggy.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Love Lamp

It is an interesting experience to have to walk out of a bedroom, down a hallway, and around the corner to get to the kitchen. I haven't experienced such distance between bed and sink in three years.

The Man and I sat down last night to our first real homemade dinner at our dining table. Aside from when we had friends over, we never ate at our dining table in our old apartment. There wasn't space to leave it out with chairs all around it, so we put two chairs in a closet and pushed the table against a wall. It was used more for crafting and folding clothes than anything. To be able to sit across from one another and talk while we eat is an odd thing. I am excited to do more of it though!

I've only noticed a few negative points to our new apartment. One, it gets very, very dark inside at night. We need more lamps and night lights. I'll see what I can pick up at Home Depot tonight, because stumbling around in the dark is NOT fun. The other big negative is the shower head height. Even with an attached shower head that sticks up higher than the arm coming from the wall, both of us have to duck a bit to get under the shower head. And we're not exactly "tall" at a whopping 5'8". I think I can get an extender thingy that works with our shower head/hose setup, but we'll see...

More money to spend. That's the story of my life right now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One Last Look

I vetoed the idea of accomplishment today and settled for crafting and creating.  I did have to go over to the old apartment today and pick up our last mail and do the walk-through.  They said we did a fantastic job cleaning and will probably only charge me for the carpet cleaning (which is total crap--that should be a fee they absorb).  I was both sad and happy to be moving on and taking that one last look around my very empty apartment.  The more I am here at the new place, the happier I am, but it's still sad to leave the other apartment.  That was home for the last three years.

In a sweaty-hot hour of productivity, I scoured the kitchen and bathroom floors and mopped all of the hard floors really well.  There's some funky stuff along the edge of the bathtub that might need to be caulked over now that I'm sure it's clean, but otherwise the floors are looking much better.  Professional cleaners apparently came through the place before we moved in, but they obviously were working blind or limbless or not really at all.

Just have to make dinner and hang some pictures and I'm done for the night.  Done, as in, not moving from the TV or computer chair or bed except to move between the three.  Work tomorrow. *sigh*

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pushing too Hard

We are completely unpacked.  We packed, moved, and unpacked everything we own (and a few things we may or may not "officially" own) in four days.  I'm not saying we simply moved it and are living out of boxes, oh no, we're done.  We can have company over.  I'll hang a few pictures tomorrow just to make the place look lived in, but I don't really consider artwork part of unpacking.

I learned something important about myself in this move.  Sometimes I'm a little to dogged in getting everything done in one day.  I worked really hard yesterday to get stuff situated.  I pushed hard until at least 10:00pm, stopping only to eat lunch with our moving crew and dinner with The Man's brother.  I finally reached a point where I could not get up without nearly falling over.  "Put one more thing away," I kept telling myself, "just get this box done."  Five boxes later, I was still moving.  But box number six had to be put aside for a shower. 

I went to bed around 11:30pm or so and slept through my alarm until well past 8:00am.  The Man and I got up and ran a bunch of errands.  Just after lunch, I sort of melted.  Not emotionally, just a physical melting.  My head started pounding, my body weak... The Man told me to take a nap.  Much as I don't like naps, I didn't argue.  He covered me with my blankey, gave me a kiss, and left me to sleep for nearly two hours.

That was the best two hours of my entire weekend.

Between 4:00pm and 6:30pm, we worked together to organize our extra bedroom's closet on the new shelves my sister bought us with the matching tote bins The Man's parents helped us buy.  It all looks so nice.  I need to get a few of the larger totes to replace copy paper boxes, but that can wait for sales and coupons.  I thought I could be all ambitious and get the hard floors scrubbed today, but that'll be my one big project for tomorrow.

We took a break tonight to go to Mass where neither of us had to look at a box, a project, a list... and we came home to a fully unpacked apartment.  Yes, I pushed myself too hard, but we're done.  Phew.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We Moved!

In one day, with incredible help from our family and friends, The Man and I have moved all of our stuff from one small apartment to one larger apartment.  We have more furniture and less closet space.  Although we don't have much space to store linens, we have second bedroom and finally have both of our desks in the same room!

The kitchen is 98% done, the bathroom done, the bedroom done, the books nearly done, and the Internet connected.  Aside from tying up a few loose ends, we're already unpacked.

And the old apartment is already completely clean.

I am going to bed now, and I may or may not be able to get up tomorrow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Moving Boxes Everywhere

Today was an expensive day.  Between the necessities like laundry soap and batteries and contact solution to the new shelving systems for the new apartment and a haircut for me, I spent a hefty sum today.  Aside from the shelves, though, everything was sort of standard budget stuff that we would have had to buy sooner or later anyway.  I had a bunch of coupons, and lots of it was on sale, but still.  *sigh*

Tomorrow is our big moving day.  We're having a sort of moving party with family and friends helping us.  It's going to be a long day.  Before then, I need to clean the bathroom completely so I can switch our fancy showerhead for the crappy one that came with the apartment.  I refuse to clean a shower without a showerhead on a hose.  I also need to empty the kitchen and wipe everything out.  Between those two things, I think I'll be swamped for the rest of the day.  I'm going to try to use baking soda and vinegar for most things to avoid so many chemical fumes.

People have asked me if I'm excited to move into a new apartment.  I'm a little excited and a little sad.  Nearly three years (to the day!) ago, I signed my first lease. I remember moving home after college and then working so hard to find work and pay back my parents and move out on my own.  Those were not my best sixteen months.  Being out on my own, not just financially but in every way, has made such a huge difference in my life.  My apartment represents, to me, that independence.  Leaving my first apartment is sort of hard.  I love The Man, and I am so happy to be married to him, but there's that part of me that loves being home alone (except at night).  I know we're going to a bigger, cheaper, quieter, less-second-floor, apartment.  But this place was my first "mine."  My first place where what I say goes.  My first chance to set the rules.  My first big responsibility to maintain. 

I keep running a quote through my head, a Captain Jack quote from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.  "That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom."  And I think of my apartment along the same lines: it's not just a floor and walls and windows and doors, that's what a home needs, but what a home really is is freedom.

Tomorrow I get a new home.  Our home.  A little sad, but a little excited too.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A New Rule that I Just Made Up (re: DWTS)

As a dancer myself, I don't often tune in to watch Dancing With The Stars.  While the contestants may be stars, they aren't exactly dancing.  They're performing choreography.  And I assure you, there is a huge difference between knowing what is coming next and not knowing what move a partner will throw at you next.  The Man and I dance, that is, make it up as we go along.  I'd argue it takes much more knowledge of the dance to be able to respond on the fly than to simply choreograph a routine and do the same patterns over and over and over.

So I have a new rule for the show: contestants cannot have any prior dancing or choreography experience.  No tap dance, no ballet, no jazz, no ballroom, nothing related to dancing after the age of seven.  Any prior experience with dancing or choreography can give contestants a significant advantage over the other competitors.

Remember what happened last season with Donny Osmond?  I have nothing against Mr. Osmond, but his lifetime of stage performance and choreographed routines gave him a huge boost.  He mastered dances faster and better than the other contestants because he has practice doing exactly that.  I imagine Jennifer Gray's situation will likely be the same this year.  The only reason I think she wouldn't win is because she doesn't have the 40-to-50-something female fan base like Mr. Osmond (not to mention a certain religion's vote).

As the rule has been pronounced, so shall it be written.  No prior dance experience for DWTS competitors.  Zilch.  End of story.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Living out of Boxes

It's a weird feeling to see your entire life put in boxes.  I feel good that we had to wait until the last minute to box things up because we actually use the things that need to go into boxes.  I feel really guilty seeing that many boxes.  Then I remind myself that half of the boxes currently filled contain only books.  Not really sure what to think of the amount of books The Man and I have: either we're really smart or we're really crazy.

Speaking of crazy reading (odd segue), we recently watched a fantastic movie: Into the Wild.  The movie kept appearing in my Netflix recommended list, and I kept putting it off thinking it sounded hippy-dippy stupid.  It's NOT!  The movie is a true story about a guy just a year or two younger than me giving up his privileged life and living as a wanderer and finally an Alaskan wilderness survivor--for a while.  Telling you the movie is tragic pretty much gives away the fact that the guy dies in the end, but it's such an amazing film.  Sean Penn directed, and several scenes were filmed in Oregon.  The main actor did all of his own stunts and lost over forty pounds toward the end of the filming process to portray the character accurately.  It's stunning.  And it's all true (with very small liberties taken for the movie).

Just goes to show me that I don't really need all the stuff I have in boxes.

(But I'm keeping it anyway--because the guy died in the end, a pretty good indication that we do need some stuff.)