Saturday, December 31

house of 1000 corpses

Brian and I were divided on this one. He liked it. I didn't. I mean, it was ok, but I'm not a horror movie fan, so there you have it. This one was definitely a horror movie. Its sequel, The Devil's Rejects, was more of a thriller (almost). It was at least a little rooted in reality whereas this movie had some weird shit going on at the end. The reason that I generally don't like horror movies is that they just don't scare me. I find reality much scarier than any of these films, which is why I like thrillers--they are more reality-based. And as far as the gore in horror movies goes, I'm not into that, either. It's not like it grosses me out--I just don't find it interesting. Take away the gore and the weird monsters and you aren't left with much.

Thursday, December 29

doodleman pinscher

It took a poodle to do it, but they finally found a way to sully the fine reputation of the doberman. I introduce to you, the Doodleman Pinscher. Remember the days when these types of dogs used to be called "mutts" and were given away rather than purposefully bred and sold for $500 a piece?

I guess that makes Lizzy a LaBeagle if you want to get fancy with it.

Wednesday, December 28

the taking

This is another recent one from Dean Koontz. I don't know if his writing has gotten better in the past few years or if I just needed a break from him, but I really enjoyed the last two books I read of his. This book was seemingly about an alien invasion of the earth. I'm not so much into aliens, but this story had an apocalyptic tinge to it and I really liked that. The story had me on edge until the very end. He borrowed a trick from James Patterson for this novel--short chapters. As you're reading, you keep thinking, "I have time for one more chapter." 50 pages later you finally put down the book and go to bed. It only took me a few days to read, and that was over the busy holidays, so that's saying something.

I was a little disappointed in the ending, though. I thought more could have been written about the transition that occurred at the end. The book clocked in around 400 pages, so he probably didn't want to go much longer than that (a weak excuse if you ask me). Anyway, this was a great read and I definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, December 27

christmas 2005: a whole lot of visiting

As previously mentioned, we kicked off the Christmas weekend by visiting with Judy Friday evening. Saturday, Christmas Eve, was a nice day since it was on a weekend (Christmas Eve is not considered a "holiday" by either of our employers). That gave us the morning and afternoon to do whatever it is we do on Saturdays and then we went to my parent's for supper that evening. After that, we came home, changed our clothes, then headed to church. We went to the 10:30pm service. It's a little rough keeping Jake up that late, but our church only has Christmas Eve services, so we didn't have much choice.

Jake was all pumped up for Christmas this year. He only asked Santa for one gift, and he got it. He was so excited! Note: I learned a very valuable lesson last year--do not buy the kid what he asks for in the summer or fall. Wait until November because that is what he's counting on getting. Later that day, we headed over to Brian's parent's house and had supper with his parents, grandmother, and brother's family. That evening, my parents and brother came over to visit. Then last night, Brian's parents and grandmother visited.

I took today and tomorrow off to recover from the festivities. To celebrate, I took a long nap on the couch this afternoon. I'll probably be up all night tonight. Poor Brian had to go back to work today because he can't take any time off yet with his new job.

Normally my favorite part of Christmas is putting away our loot. I've been procrastinating a little this year and I think it's because I have no idea where to put all of Jake's stuff. Someone needs to buy that kid a bigger bedroom for Christmas next year.

Saturday, December 24

family guy presents stewie griffin: the untold story

We are recent converts to the Family Guy phenomena. I never watched the show, much less heard of it, before this year. This is probably due to its timeslot--Sunday nights at 9pm. Normally, I can be found watching whatever HBO Original Series is on. Anyway, the show is ridiculously funny and I especially love all of the pop culture references in it (whether archaic or not). I'm sure we're missing a lot of the jokes, but it's funny anyway. Since we're a few years behind on the series, we've been renting them from Blockbuster. While doing the search for the show, the Family Guy movie came up. I had it on my list for a long time before we got it, but it was definitely worth the wait. It was less movie-like and more like and extended version of the show. So, like the show, it was ridiculously funny. If you like Family Guy, it's definitely worth checking out.

christmas starts now

Last night, actually. Judy came over to exchange gifts and partake in food and drink. We had a pleasant evening sitting around chatting. Of course, thanks to Jake, we had to open our gifts immediately. But, at least that gave him something to do the rest of the evening. He proclaimed himself to be the offical "opener of gifts". I had to put a stop to that nonsense. I don't care how cute you are--you're not opening my gifts.

Jacob was very excited at the prospect of Judy's visit. It partly had to do with the gift thing, but he does really like her. All day, he asked "how long until Judy gets here". By 6:30 that evening, it got a bit ridiculous--19 minutes, 17 minutes, 13 minutes...Finally, the clock chimed 7:00. Where was Judy? I think she was about 30 seconds late. I guess she's going to have to set her watch to ours before she visits again as to not cause undue stress to Jacob.

Anyway, it was a very pleasant evening and a great way to start off the Christmas weekend.

Wednesday, December 21

bathroom remodel: days 42 & 43

Between last night and tonight, Brian installed all of the sink plumbing. I thought it went pretty well, though he'd probably tell you differently. It would've been done last night, but as it goes with all of our plumbing projects, we didn't have some of the right parts. After the installation was complete, we had a few minor leaks, but stuff just needed tightened more, so it wasn't a huge deal. One thing is still leaking ever so slightly, but we're going to reassess it tomorrow (sometimes plumbing problems just go away--believe it or not). Jake was so happy to be able to brush his teeth in the new bathroom before he went to bed. I'm looking forward to that as well.

There's still a good bit of work to do in there--the vanity needs doors and drawers, the ceiling needs wood trim, the new door and trim need to be made, and all of the little stuff needs to be attached to the walls. We attached one thing this evening--a framed poster of the Gashlycrumb Tinies. It hangs proudly above our toilet.

Sunday, December 18

bathroom remodel: day 41

Today, we installed the vanity and the top. We also put the faucet spigot and handles in. However, we did not have time to hook up the plumbing. We still need to go to the hardware store for supplies. As long as the plumbing is hooked up before Christmas, I'll be happy (sound familiar?).

blow

This was a movie that didn't blow. It told the story of George Jung, who is credited for bringing cocaine into America. I didn't really know what the plot was going to be about, but since Johnny Depp was in it, I figured it had to be worth watching. And it was. The movie also featured one of my favorite actresses, Rachel Griffiths, this time sporting a New England accent. She's from Australia and played a Californian in one of my favorite HBO shows, Six Feet Under. So, she sounds different every time I see her. Anyway, this movie is definitely worth checking out. It's more of a character piece than anything else, but I thought it was a really good movie.

Saturday, December 17

bathroom remodel: day 40

Today was supposed to be the day that the bathroom vanity was installed, but Brian ran into his buddy PJ at my work Christmas party last night and invited him over today to watch the football games. But, that's ok, because eating junk food all afternoon (topped off with some Italian sausage sandwiches for supper) was a lot more fun than working in the bathroom anyway.

I spent the week finishing the vanity so that it would be ready to install this weekend. The vanity is made of maple and birch plywood. I put two coats of blonde shellac on to seal the wood and then topped that off with three coats of Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish. It turned out pretty nice, if I do say so myself. Brian still has to make the doors and drawers, but at least we'll have a functioning sink soon.

Anyway, we did some work this morning before the game started. Brian disconnected the old shut-off valves and sink trap and finished preparing the vanity for installation. Everything is upstairs and ready to install. We need to make a run to the hardware store for some plumbing supplies and then we'll be ready to go. Hopefully things will go quickly for us tomorrow.

Friday, December 16

mean girls

This was a movie written by Tina Fey (from Saturday Night Live). It also featured a bunch of SNLers. It was a story about the cliques that exist (with girls) in high school. Nothing quite this extreme occurred when I was in high school, but I could relate. The movie was actually pretty funny. It was a good thing to watch on a Thursday night, which have always been devoted to sitcoms in our house. Sitcoms have been woefully missing from the Thursday night lineup since the advent of The Apprentice.

You know, I'm getting tired of writing movie reviews.

Tuesday, December 13

bowling for columbine

I just realized that we watched this movie last week and I did not post about it. We can't have that, so here goes...

This was another documentary from Michael Moore. This time, it was about gun violence in America. He made quite the compelling argument that Americans kill out of fear, which is perpetuated by the media and the government. Like I said before, you can make the statistics work any way you want them to, but he did bring up some good points. It also helps to be leaning to the left while you are watching this film.

This was another Blockbuster rental. Brian's two month gift subscription ends next week. But, I've decided to extend it another month or two so we can see the rest of the movies on our list. Damn Blockbuster, anyway. I guess that's how they get you, though. I will definitely be cancelling after we see all that there is to see. We have HBO and Starz, so there's really no reason to continue on with the subscription indefinitely. After Jacob was born, we fell really behind on our movie watching. We should be caught up in a month or two so then we won't need it anymore.

Sunday, December 11

more christmas preparations

Last night, Jake stayed at my parent's house. This gave Brian and I the opportunity to wrap his gifts plus the ones we're giving to each other. I wrapped the rest of our gifts this evening. We also put up our new tree and decorated it. I was worried that we wouldn't have enough ornaments, but the tree looks great. Jake had fun decorating it. I'm surprised at what a pain in the neck it is to get an artifical tree to look good. Had I known that, I might've stuck with a real one. Oh well, at least I won't have to vacuum pine needles every day. Plus we put the tree up a week earlier than we usually do since we don't have to worry about it drying out. So that leaves me with just a few more things...baking cookies and making some decorative envelopes for the large amount of gift cards we bought this year.

Saturday, December 10

bathroom remodel: day 39

This afternoon, Brian installed our new ceiling. I helped a little, mostly, by handing him things. The ceiling is from Armstrong's WoodHaven series (laminate ceiling planks) and looks like maple. The job went pretty well and looks awesome. Cross another one off the list. The nice thing about completing this is that now we can put all of our wall stuff up, like the poster we're hanging above the toilet, magazine rack, towel racks, etc. So, it should start to look more like a finished bathroom very soon. The only major thing that is left is to install the vanity and I'm planning on doing the finishing work on that this week.

Is that a light at the end of the tunnel?

mr. & mrs. smith

This was a movie with something for everyone. Namely, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. If you don't find one or both of them attractive, it's time to make an appointment with your eye doctor. The movie was about a pair of assassins who were married (neither of them knowing what the other one actually did for a living). Things came to a head when they were supposed to assassinate each other. They prevailed in the end, of course. The movie was OK--a perfect "date" movie, if you will (or the married person's equivalent--margarita and a movie night). Definitely nothing to ponder the next day. After all the hype, I thought it was going to be better, but it was entertaining enough.

Monday, December 5

putting the x in xmas

Yesterday, when I was getting the Christmas decorations out of the attic, I got out one of our nativity sets. Jake, seeing the picture on the box, said, "What are you getting that Jesus stuff out for? That doesn't have anything to do with Christmas."

I guess we shouldn't have skipped church yesterday...

doberman banned?

Here's a solution. I'll have to keep this in mind for down the road when we get another dobie. You never know what laws our township will pass till then.

It's funny every time.

Sunday, December 4

christmas decorating

Brian went to the Steeler game today (which was almost a good game). This left Jake and I at home to fend for ourselves. I had wanted to go to the Westwood Plaza Theatre and Cafe for lunch and a movie, but they weren't open this afternoon for some reason. So, instead, we put out the Christmas decorations this afternoon--everything but the tree.

We also played many board games and, of course, watched the football game. I did other fun things like clean the bathroom and kitchen. Now, we're just sitting around waiting for Brian to get home. Jake just threw in a videotape, so hopefully this will buy me some time to do some things for myself.

Saturday, December 3

bathroom remodel: day 38

And you thought I was done with these posts? After a brief hiatus, we're back to work.

Brian has been working diligently on the vanity. It's almost ready to be turned over to the finishing department (perhaps as early as this week).

This afternoon, we installed the furring strip grid for the ceiling. It went up pretty quickly--it only took a few hours to complete.

That is all for now.

the colorado kid

Stephen King has a new book out. So much for retirement. This book was published in paperback from Hard Case Crime. One of Brian's coworkers had the book otherwise we probably wouldn't have heard about it. It was a story about a man who died on a beach and how he finally was identified thanks to the work of two newspapermen. The story was told from the perspective of the newspapermen to a woman they were hiring to work at their paper. As usual, the characters were good (when doesn't Stephen King have good characters?). I had a little trouble following the book at the beginning because I was reading it at the veterinarian's and was having trouble concentrating (because I had other things to worry about). But, once I got into it, it was a pretty quick read. The ending kind of sucked, though. Brian, in particular, really didn't like it. Still, it was definitely worth reading.

i heart huckabees

This movie sucked.

Friday, December 2

ready for christmas

Well, I'm somewhat ready for Christmas at this point. I finally finished up my shopping today. Thank God for the internet. Normally, I complete my shopping by Thanksgiving, but I guess a week later isn't too bad. The issue is that I'm out of ideas for a number of people, so it's hard to decide on something to buy for them.

I'm ahead with my cards this year, too. Not only do I have them addressed and stamped and ready to go, they're all hand-made as well. They've been done for a few weeks. I guess the time I saved on shopping enabled me to get ahead on the cards.

I always said I would never have an artifical Christmas tree, but guess what we bought this year--an artifical Christmas tree. It looks pretty nice, too. I'm looking forward to not having evergreen needles all over the house this year. We usually put our tree up and do the decorating in mid-December. Now that we have the artifical tree, I wonder if these things will happen earlier this year. I guess it will depend on our schedules.

I always do a little baking--a couple of batches of cookies. We get a little bit of company over the holidays, so it's nice to have something to put out. Not sure when I'll do those. Most of the time I like to do them early and throw them in the freezer. In previous years, I always made a bunch of dog treats for my pooches and the other ones I know, but I don't think that is going to happen this year. The thought of making all of those treats and Ripley not being around to enjoy them just makes me sad.

Wednesday, November 30

the devil's rejects

I was holding out to watch this movie until we got to see it's prequel, House of 1000 Corpses, but things didn't work out. For whatever reason, it's been on backorder at Blockbuster Online for the past few weeks. Perhaps it has a new popularity due to the recent DVD release of The Devil's Rejects. That said, we watched The Devil's Rejects last night. The plot was not so complex that we couldn't figure things out seeing the movies out of order.

I'm not a slasher film buff by any means, but I like Rob Zombie and this movie got good reviews, so I figured what the heck? After the initial nausea passed, I began to enjoy the film. There were a couple of funny things in the movie where we both laughed out loud. This is more than I can say about some recent comedies we've watched (Office Space comes to mind).

I hate to nitpick, but the flimsy body armor the clan had on at the beginning of the movie hardly seems like it would deflect a gunshot. It just wasn't realistic. But, like Brian pointed out, a family of serial killers isn't all that realistic, either. Right. But apparently I can get past one unrealistic point for the sake of a story, but not two. Other than that, I don't have any problems with the plot.

The soundtrack was rather interesting--all classic rock from the 70s. You would not think this would work for a movie of this genre, yet somehow it worked perfectly. I could've done without hearing Freebird at the end, though. In fact, I could go my whole life and not listen to Freebird again and I would be a happier person for it. Freebird! Skynyrd! Yeah--heard that enough times.

Saturday, November 26

a new twist on an old favorite

ala Jacob:

The more you eat,
The more you toot.
So eat your beans,
The magical way.

the interpreter

Last night, Brian and I caught this one while drinking margaritas (of course). Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman starred in the movie, so you know it had to be good. And good it was--full of political intrigue and whatnot. The movie really held my interest throughout. It was a story about an interpreter (Kidman) at the U.N. who overhears an assassination plot for an African leader who will be speaking at the U.N. It took a lot of twists and turns and we find out that Kidman has ties to the country in question, which further complicates the plot. Penn played a member of the Secret Service who was assigned to the case. His acting is always good, and this movie was no exception, but his part wasn't all that interesting. Still, a pretty good movie.

Thursday, November 24

riding the bullet

Brian and I watched this movie last night (it was a lender from one of his friends). It was based on the eBook (by Stephen King) of the same name. I vaguely remember reading the eBook a few years ago. I did not enjoy the format (that much I do remember). Anyway, the original story was ok and the movie followed it pretty well from what I can recall. A lot of the story was the internal dialog of the main character. It was interesting how they pulled this off in the movie--they had two versions of the actor in those scenes and the "extra" character would talk to the main character. This movie also cemented the fact that David Arquette is a horrible actor. Luckily, he was not the main character, but he had the second largest role in the film. Still, it was probably the best thing on TV last night.

thanksgiving 2005

Today was a rather subdued day for a holiday. My parents, brother, and grandmother were all supposed to come over for dinner, but my grandmother couldn't make it due to the weather and my brother got called out to work. He eventually made it here, though, so that was cool.

We spent the past few days cleaning up the house and I spent all morning cooking. I was hoping to do the turkey breasts on the grill this year, but due to the major snowstorm we got yesterday and today, it didn't seem like a good time to do so. The food turned out well. We had your standard holiday fare. Brian's all bummed out because we all but ran out of gravy, so I will have to make some more tomorrow from some chicken broth. It won't be as good as the stuff we had today, but I guess it will have to do. That's as close as I will get to cooking tomorrow. Time for a well-deserved day off. We're both off work tomorrow, so that will be nice. Jake's time off continues through Monday for the official Pennsylvania holiday of the First Day of Deer Hunting.

Monday, November 21

r.i.p. ripley

Brian took Ripley to the vets after work so she could be put to sleep. He stayed with her the whole time, which was nice and not something I could've handled. He said things went about as well as they possibly could have and he was impressed by the compassion shown by the staff.

Needless to say, we're both really sad. Jake on the other hand, is downright cheerful and is annoying the hell out of us both. I guess he's just too young to understand what is going on.

Rest In Peace, Big Sweet Rip.

the latest on ripley

I took a sick day today (because I am pretty sick about this) in order to spend one last day with Ripley. After much discussion last night, we came to the conclusion that the best thing to do for Ripley is to have her put to sleep. The poor dog can't even eat anymore and that is probably her most favorite thing in the world to do (followed by frisbee and ear scratches and eating yellow dogs--none of which she can enjoy at this point). It's kind of funny, because she still gets excited at mealtimes (old habits die hard, I guess), but then just looks at the food in her bowl and walks away. I guess some people might wait a little longer, but I would prefer to remember her how she's always been rather than her decline. So, the deed is scheduled for 5:45 today. Brian is going to take her after work because it's just not something I feel I can do. I still have to talk to our vet. I want to make sure she agrees with the diagnosis. I have to think she will because a lot of it is stuff she already brought up. Even if we had a few thousand dollars to spend on Ripley's treatment I don't think we'd do it anyway--I don't think putting the dog through a lot of pain in order to, at best, reduce her quality of life is a good decision.

At least we had a great summer together. For the past six months, I made a concerted effort to exercise the dogs twice a week. A tired dog is a good dog, they say. We had a lot of fun playing frisbee in the back yard. Even Lizzy now enjoys the game. Of course she is on a tie-out because she won't stay in the yard, but Ripley has always stayed in the yard. On one particularly beautiful Sunday afternoon (and I've got a roll of film to prove it), the dogs and I went out to play frisbee. When we were done it was too nice to go back into the house so we just hung out in the back yard for a while--me in one of the patio chairs, them sniffing around the yard. It's one of the nicest memories I have of my two current pups.

Sunday, November 20

so, that's that

Brian called a bit ago. I'm not sure of all the test results, but Ripley definitely has a mass in her chest (probably cancer). And she might have some sort of auto-immune disease at work as well. Today's options were:
1. spend a few thousand $$ for surgery and treatment that might not amount to anything
2. have her euthanized
3. take her home

Brian opted for #3 for now. I'm sure I will need to talk to our vet tomorrow, but things obviously aren't looking good.

bathroom remodel: day 37 & sick dog

Yesterday, I touched up some spots I missed while painting (painting textured paint is a real pain in the ass) and finished caulking the tub surround. Brian spent the day working on the vanity. Lowe's also delivered our vanity top and it looked fine. They gave us about a 20% discount so at least we don't have anything to complain about anymore.

We were hoping to work more today, but Ripley's condition keeps getting worse. So, we made a decision to take her to a 24-hour animal hospital in Monroeville. Brian left around 2pm and it doesn't look like he'll be home anytime soon. He has called a few times with updates, but mostly he has been waiting. Apparently it's a busy place. They're going to do some tests and try to come up with a diagnosis (sound familiar?). Then there will be decisions to make depending on what they find. Hopefully I will hear from him soon because the waiting is killing me.

Saturday, November 19

score

This is another movie I've been wanting to watch for a while. It starred Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, and Edward Norton. In a nutshell, it was a movie about a heist. There wasn't enough sex, nudity, or violence in it for me, but Brian really liked it. The three main characters did a great job in their roles (though Brando's part was pretty small). As far as movies about high-end thieves go, I liked Heat a lot more.

office space

When this movie first came out, I wasn't really interested in seeing it. I already live it, so why would I want to watch it in my spare time? But, I heard some good things about it in the meantime and Jennifer Aniston, who I like, was also in the movie, so I thought I'd check it out. Looks like my first impression was the one I should've stuck with. I mean, the movie was ok--kind of amusing--but not laugh out loud funny. If I'm going to watch a comedy, I feel that it should make me laugh.

Friday, November 18

ripley, part 2

No news would've been better than the news I got today. The vet called and Ripley's white blood count was low (rather than high, which would be seen in an infection). Additionally, one of her kidney tests came back high, which means things aren't working correctly there either. Due to the kidney numbers, I had to take her off the diuretic for now. She's going to remain on the antibiotics because those won't hurt anything, though it's starting to look like she doesn't have an infection. Really, the problem is that there are so many conflicting things going on, it's hard to diagnose. The latest thing to rule out is a lymphosarcoma. The vet thinks it is quite possible that she has cancer in one of her organs and it spread to another. Great.

We had to run to the vet's office again this afternoon, as she wanted to give Ripley some fluids to make her more comfortable over the weekend (since her kidneys aren't functioning properly).

Ripley's going to need to go to Monroeville for an ultrasound of the kidneys and chest. They will also do a chest tap so that the fluid in her chest can be tested. This has not been scheduled yet. I have to call the vet's office on Monday with an update on her condition and then we'll talk about scheduling it. I keep getting the idea that the vet thinks she's going to go downhill fast and that's why it was not scheduled today. Really, though, if you didn't know Ripley, you wouldn't even know anything was wrong with her. Not that that's doing any of us any good right now.

Thursday, November 17

ripley's latest malady

Our Doberman, Ripley, has not been acting like herself for about the past week. I finally called the vet yesterday and made an appointment. They took an xray of her chest and it showed fluid in the lungs. This could be caused by numerous things, but the diagnosis is pneumonia for now. Her blood test results will be in tomorrow and those will either confirm or rule out the diagnosis. I'm rooting for the pneumonia at this point because it seems treatable. She was put on antibiotics and a diuretic and will remain on them for a few weeks unless the diagnosis changes.

While researching her symptoms yesterday, I came across dilated cardiomyopathy and thought for sure that was going to be it (damn the internet!). After describing Ripley's symptoms to the vet, that was her first guess, too, but that's why she ordered the xrays. Luckily, Ripley's heart was not enlarged, so this doesn't appear to be the problem.

We all love Ripley and showed it again today when I paid the vet bill. For that kind of money, I could've bought a new Doberman (but she's well worth the money). Dobermans are great dogs, but they have so many health problems. One guy who works at the vets used to have one and says he'll never get one again because of all of the health issues he had with his. I can kind of understand his attitude, but I do really like the breed.

More on this subject tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 16

big dogz

I've been wanting to check out this place since it opened. We finally made it there this evening. The food was fine (Brian and I both had sandwiches). We ordered mac & cheese for Jake and it turned out to be deep-fried macaroni and cheese wedges, so they obviously serve a lot of health food there. Healthy or not, he ate it. If we go there again, I'll have to remember to order a mixed drink. Our waitress's answer to my question "what kind of white wine do you have?" was "Chardonnay". They don't exactly have a large wine list is what I'm trying to say.

Sunday, November 13

bathroom remodel: days 35 & 36

Between yesterday and today, I finished painting the bathroom! It's so nice to be done with that. Brian spent a lot of time on the vanity over the weekend and is making good progress with it. I guess my work here is done until the vanity is ready. Besides it, we have to put in the new ceiling (no small task) and install all of the fixtures. Still a lot of work left to be done, but at least the bathroom almost looks complete.

Saturday, November 12

beef & wine

Yesterday was a busy one. After I got off work at 2:30, my mom and I ran to Somerset to pick up a side of beef. After splitting the meat between the two of us, I crammed ours into our little chest freezer (I really need to get an upright freezer soon) and then loaded Jake into the car to run for wine supplies. Someone told me that Oak Spring Winery moved from the Galleria to the Westwood Plaza, but I'll be damned if I could find it. I really needed supplies, though, so I took a chance that the new Thomas Feed Mill wine store (can't remember the name) would still be open and ran to Windber. Luckily, they were open till 6:00 (it was 5:45 when I arrived), so I was able to buy some bottle sanitizer.

I spent the evening washing bottles and then we bottled my last two batches of wine for the year. We did a Petit Verdot wine kit which was quite tasty already and a batch of Strawberry-Zinfandel that I made from a recipe. I used red zinfandel rather than white zinfandel this time so it's a little drier than usual, but still quite good. Anyway, that gives me over four cases to put in my wine racks come Monday night. Good thing--they were starting to look a little sparse.

On Friday, I also reserved the five Selection Limited Edition wine kits for 2006. Cheers!

Friday, November 11

collateral

Brian and I caught this movie on HBO the other night. I used to totally love Tom Cruise. So did my mom. We used to go see all of his movies at the theatre whenever a new one came out. Not so, anymore. He's kind of fallen out of favor with me with all of the Scientology crap. I still think he's a good actor (though he can't grow a beard to save his life. maybe he should take some vitamins or something.), but I don't like him enough to shell out my hard-earned cash to see his movies. But, if one should be showing for free, I'll probably watch it.

This was a great movie, though. It is a story about a contract killer (Cruise) who hijacks a cab driver (Jamie Foxx. hoo-rah) and makes him drive him around the city so he can kill a bunch of people on his list. This was my first Jamie Foxx movie. I rather liked him. I remember watching him on In Living Color way back when. He's turned into quite a good actor.

The Flick Filosopher has much to say about this movie so I might as well not even bother trying. You can read a good review here.

odd thomas

I finished reading this novel yesterday while waiting for Jake at his karate lesson. I rather enjoyed it. It's the first book from Dean Koontz that I've read in a while and I was wondering how it was going to be. After reading a bunch of his books, I noticed that they all sort of had the same theme so I pretty much gave up on worrying about his latest releases. This one was pretty close to his usual theme, but had a slight twist at the end that made it a good read. I'll have to check out some of his other recent books now.

I'm too lazy to write a synopsis of the story right now, but it is typical Dean Koontz fare complete with bodachs, killers, and ghosts. (oh my!) Having read quite a few Koontz books, I'd say this is now one of my favorites from him. Apparently there's a sequel to this novel, called Forever Odd. I'll definitely be checking that out at some point.

Wednesday, November 9

bathroom remodel: day 34

Last night, I finished up the walls. Next up: painting. Not sure if I'll have time to work today because I have too much other crap going on, but at least the hard part is done. Brian also worked on the vanity yesterday evening. He finished up the base of the cabinet. Next up is the face frame. Once that is done, I will finish the vanity and we'll install it in the bathroom. After that, Brian will work on the doors and drawers as time permits. Anyway, all of this puts us in a good position for the weekend.

Monday, November 7

bathroom remodel: days 32 & 33

Yesterday, I patched all of the holes in the walls (with some help from Brian). Today, I put another coat of drywall compound on them. I think one more coat will do the trick and then I can finish painting in there. Brian is working on the vanity as we speak, so I think we're going to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel sometime soon. Whatever will I blog about when this project is finally done?

Sunday, November 6

time to plant the garlic

I planted the garlic. 216 cloves to be exact. I got it in the ground just as it started to storm. Good timing. I was running a few weeks behind this year (I normally plant it in mid-October), but I don't think that will matter much.

Saturday, November 5

bathroom remodel: day 31

Brian finished wiring the wall sconces this afternoon and started on the drywall. I found out part of the reason why we're so behind on this project--as soon as we get a little bit ahead, we're like "hey, we're ahead, let's stop working!" On the plus side, this allowed me to clean up my butterfly garden this afternoon and work on my Christmas cards. On the minus side, we'd probably be done by now if we'd just keep working.

fahrenheit 9/11

Brian and I caught this documentary last week. It was really funny (or it would've been if it weren't so true). Now I realize that you can make anyone look bad and Michael Moore is a liberal filmmaker, but he had so much material to work with, I don't know how he cut the film down to two hours. I don't think this film would influence anyone one way or the other (if so, maybe you ought to pick up a newspaper and read it), but it did bring up some good points. Anyway, I liked it and I don't normally go for documentaries, so it's worth a look if you're already leaning to the left.

Wednesday, November 2

bathroom remodel: day 30

More electrical work was done this evening--the one sconce is hooked up and the other one is ready to hook up. That said, if it all works, we are set for the weekend. Hoo-rah.

Tuesday, November 1

bathroom remodel: day 29

This evening, Brian and I ran the wires for the wall sconces. So, that puts us in a good position to have the bathroom workable by Thanksgiving. We need to have the electrical stuff totally done by the end of this weekend in order for my revised schedule to work.

Lowe's sent two delivery guys to the house today to pick up our vanity top. Brian talked to a real manager there yesterday and he says the holes can be plugged and new ones drilled. We'll see. From what I've been reading about Corian, it does sound possible. Supposedly the turnaround time is going to be a week. We'll see about that, too. We did learn one lesson--don't even bother calling Lowe's on a weekend if you have a problem with something. Waiting till Monday to call surely would've saved Brian a few points on his blood pressure.

Monday, October 31

the assassination of richard nixon

Brian and I caught this movie Saturday night. It was ok--Sean Penn's acting was superb as always--but we weren't into the movie as a whole. For some reason, the two of us thought the plot was going to be completely different (it was basically about a guy who was a complete failure in life and he somehow came to blame this on the president). As you can surmise from the title, this movie took place in the 1970's. Unlike the last movie I watched that took place in the 70's, Boogie Nights, this movie didn't look like the 70's threw up all over the characters--I wasn't sitting there thinking "just look at those clothes and hair!" the whole time. One nice surprise in the movie was the fact that Naomi Watts was in it. The woman is like a chameleon. Every time I see her she looks different (sometimes even within the same movie). I always have to ask Brian, "Is that Naomi Watts?" I wouldn't say she got to shine in this movie, but just having her in it made it better that it would've been.

Saturday, October 29

bathroom remodel: day 28

We should've gotten a lot done today, but we did not. Here's why: first off, we were supposed to go on a bike ride today, but it was kind of chilly, so we did not. But, we already had Brian's parents lined up to babysit, so Brian ran Jacob over there this morning, anyway. After he got back, we did our fall yardwork/put stuff away for the winter. Everything's done except tidying up the gardens and planting my garlic.

After this, we were finally able to start working on the bathroom. First, the old wall lights were removed. Next, we determined the location of the new mirror and wall sconces. We didn't have the right type of electric box for the sconces, so Brian had to run to Lowe's for supplies. While he was there, he planned on picking up our vanity top (which finally came in this week--7 weeks after we ordered it--10 to 14 working days, my ass!). Any time he's picked up any special orders from Lowe's he's always had to wait 30-45 minutes for them to find our stuff "in the back". Today was no different. After they loaded up the vanity top, he noticed that the holes that were drilled for the faucet did not look correct. His suspicions were confirmed after he arrived home and I brought out the new faucet. So, he called Lowe's and spoke with a manager, who had to call him back. Brian wasn't home when the manager called back and no one else in that big store could help him when he returned the manager's call, so now this is going to have to wait until tomorrow. To be continued...

While we basically did no work today, since Lowe's took up a few hours of our time (between the trip out there, talking to people on the phone, and general bitching about how we're never going to shop there again), I feel this counted as a "remodeling" day.

monster

As promised, last night was a margarita and a movie night. The movie was Monster. Our friend Lish has been talking up this movie for a few years and now I understand why. What a great movie. Unlike the incredibly sad 21 Grams or the utterly depressing Mystic River, this movie had the right balance. The story was based upon the life of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. I felt really bad for the main character, but she did cross the line (as serial killers are wont to do).

Though I disagree with the Flick Filosopher's review of the movie, it is pretty entertaining and brings up some good points.

Friday, October 28

day off

Jake's school's "Fall Party" (read: Halloween Party) was today. I volunteered to help out at it so I took the day off rather than trying to work it into my busy schedule. And what a nice day off it was. My long weekend started last night when Jake and I made bat cookies for his party. This morning, I was able to sleep in because, thanks to afternoon kindergarten, Jake no longer gets up early (nor does he go to bed at a decent hour, but that's another story). Given my short morning, I didn't really do much. I got Jake off to school and then drove over there a little bit later. The kids were dressed in their costumes and they did a little parade inside the school and then outside. Brian even managed to stop by (just another perk of working in Johnstown). The party was next. This went fine--the kids all seemed to have fun eating their snacks. I ended up having to stay there until the end of the school day (which is an early 1:15 on Fridays).

In the afternoon, I started working on my Christmas cards. I'm happy to report that I made a fourth of them today. I would've preferred to have them done by now, but I don't imagine I'll have any problems finishing them up soon. The thing I am concerned about this year is my shopping. I'm way behind, but this is because I don't know what to buy half of the people on my list. It's not for lack of looking, either.

Of course, I did some requisite housework. You can't have a day without housework.

Next up: it's a movie and a margarita night. I had been watching HBO's new series, Rome, on Friday evenings, but I've finally given up on it so we're going to watch a movie tonight instead.

Time to make the margaritas!

honeymoon

This was a book by James Patterson and Howard Roughan. I finished it this past week. While I would hardly call it a literary masterpiece, it was a pretty quick read, so it must've had something going for it. It more reminded me of Sidney Sheldon rather than James Patterson. Definitely entertaining. I could be wrong, but I don't think guys will be into this book. The book was about this woman who gets these rich men to fall in love with her and then she kills them (with an untraceable drug mixed in their food) and then she transfers their money to her offshore account. The ending was pretty weak and the whole premise of the book kinda goofy, but I really enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 26

bathroom remodel: day 27

It's hardly worth noting, but we installed the new shower rod, shower curtain liner, and shower curtain last night. Looks pretty good if I do say so myself. That'll be it until the weekend unless I get motivated to do some of my work in there and that's pretty doubtful.

Monday, October 24

heat

I'd been wanting to see this movie since it was released 10 years ago. Thanks to Blockbuster Online and Brian's sister, my wish finally became a reality. Though I can't say it was quite worth the 10 year wait, it was a pretty engrossing film. Brian and I caught it over the weekend (in two parts--it was three hours long!) while Jake was camping with my parents. The two main stars of the movie were Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. Any movie with these two in it has to be good, right? Right. And, it was nice to see DeNiro back when he still used to act in movies unlike the crap he's been in the past few years (Meet the Fockers, et al). The story was your basic cop versus robber one. I think DeNiro is trying to get into the Guinness Book of World's Records through the scenes in his movie. This movie had what has to be one of the longest firefights that has ever been in a movie. This, of course, follows up the longest car chase scene I've ever seen in Ronin.

In conclusion, a pretty cool film if you have three hours to spare.

bathroom remodel: day 26

This evening, Brian finished putting the trim pieces up for the tub surround and I installed the soap dish and shampoo shelf. After that, I did what I do best--caulk. I caulked around everything within the tub surround area, so Brian will, at last, be able to take a shower tomorrow night. I still need to do the perimeter of the surround, but I will save that for another day because I am done working for the day.

Sunday, October 23

bathroom remodel: day 25

Jake was camping with my parents this weekend so it seemed like a good opportunity to tackle one of the larger items that is left on our bathroom remodel "to do" list. So, yesterday, from noon-10pm we installed our new Corian tub surround. As you can tell from the amount of time it took, it was a major pain in the ass. And, we're not quite done with it either--there's still some trim and the soap and shampoo shelves left. We're taking a well-deserved break today and will finish that stuff up during the week. The day went ok except for Brian's near death experience (much like volatile substances, it's not a good idea to sniff Corian dust all day).

Part of the reason the job took so long was that we have a window in the middle of our shower so part of the surround had to be cut out. This probably added two to three hours to the project which was supposed to take a whole day anyway. The good news is that Brian will finally be able to shower again. The bad news is that our faucet handle does not reach when we put the escutcheon on. You knew we could't complete something without a problem, right?

sushi. again.

Our good friend (and Brian's former co-worker) Steve took Brian and I out for sushi at the Sakura in Altoona on Friday night to celebrate Brian's new job. We had a great time. Unlike last time, Steve did not consume two pounds of raw fish, so Friday night was a little less entertaining than it could've been. I didn't eat any raw fish this time. I sort of wanted to, but they didn't have any combination dinners that interested me, so I stuck with the cooked stuff instead. Brian and I both had the tempura and it was delicious. We capped off the night by going out for a few drinks and then made the long trek back home. I'm already looking forward to our next trip to the Sakura.

Thursday, October 20

boogie nights

I caught this movie on Sunday while Brian and Jacob were at the Steeler game. I've been wanting to watch it for a long time (I probably taped it a year ago), but Brian and I could never find the time because the movie is over 2 1/2 hours long. Anything over two hours (assuming it isn't kiddie fare) and you can just forget about it. Jake isn't in bed early enough for that to ever work out and I need my beauty rest so I'm not staying up late to watch tv.

That said, I rather enjoyed the movie. I thought it was going to be more of a "fun" movie, but it did have some drama as well. Mark Wahlberg did a great job with the main character (good thing seeing that his music career went down the toilet. Remember Marky Mark?) and for the first time ever, I liked Burt Reynolds. He played the director of the porno flicks. This movie was about the porn industry in California in the 70's and 80's.

One thing I have a love/hate relationship with with these types of movies (from the 70's and 80's, that is) is that the people look all goofy with their hairstyles and the way they dress. It's kind of painful to watch, really. On the other hand, it's kind of funny. Or maybe it would be if I didn't live through it.

You can expect to see a deluge of my pseudo movie reviews in the next two months. In February, Brian's sister got him a two month subscription to Blockbuster Online. After waiting eight months for him to start up the subscription, we all decided it would be better if I were in charge of it. Our first three movies arrived today. I guess I know what I'm doing this weekend. If nothing else, Brian's sister is going to get her money's worth out of that gift.

Wednesday, October 19

bathroom remodel: day 24

I came. I saw. I primed.

I finished priming the bathroom this evening. Sort of. We still have holes in the wall (and will be creating more, I'm sure) from our ongoing electrical work. But, I'll be able to spot prime those areas, so the bulk of my priming work is done. It's surprising how much better the bathroom looks already.

Brian worked a little on the vanity this evening. Once he gets the base done and I finish it, we're going to install it so that we can get a sink in the bathroom (assuming our vanity top ever comes in). Then he'll work on the doors and the drawers at his leisure. As long as his leisure gets them completed before Thanksgiving, that is.

Tuesday, October 18

mary, mary

I just finished reading this book last week. It was ok. There was a "plot twist" at the end that I saw coming from about 100 miles away. I do enjoy Ed McBain books, though, and I did enjoy this one. It's just not a "must read". Ed McBain is the pseudonym of the author Evan Hunter. I have not read any of Evan Hunter's books. One thing that intrigues me about Ed McBain is the fact that he wrote a book with Evan Hunter. Exactly how do you write a book with yourself? It was probably just a publicity stunt, but it kind of makes me want to read the book just to see what's up. I should probably read an Evan Hunter novel before I do that to see if he has a different writing style.

bathroom remodel: days 22 & 23

Check another thing off the list! The past two evenings were spent replacing the old outlet and adding an additional one. This involved cutting seven holes in the wall so that the new cable could be run. Ugh. I guess I will never be done with patching the walls. Luckily, the area that we cut into will be hidden by the vanity so I guess I don't really even need to fix it, but I'm far way too anal retentive to leave a bunch of holes in the wall.

I also did a little patching of the walls the past two evenings. I think those walls are just about ready. I need to prime before this weekend's planned project of installing the tub surround, so they better be ready soon.

One one hand, it seems like things are rolling along. On the other hand, I know we still have a ton of work to do. I guess if we keep chipping away, it'll be done eventually.

Sunday, October 16

bathroom remodel: day 21

I guess I will take some credit for doing work in the bathroom today. Brian and Jacob were at the Steeler game all day so I filled my day with fun things like cleaning the kitchen cupboards and working on the bathroom.

We've come to the conclusion that the toilet really works, so I hacksawed off the ends of the mounting bolts and snapped the bolt covers on. Earlier in the day, I ran to Home Depot to buy some more stuff for our project--most importantly a new chain for the flushing mechanism and a light bulb for the exhaust fan. We needed a new chain because our toilet has such great flushing power that it managed to flush the old chain down the drain the first day we used the toilet. I had a temporary fix in, but wanted to get the right part in there. I, of course, was not able to find the right part, but I was able to improvise with what I bought. I also adjusted the flush lever because it was not working as I would've liked. And, I caulked around the toilet base.

After all of this, I did some more drywall work. The good news is that I should be done with that soon (except for the holes Brian is going to be putting into the walls for the electrical work, that is).

stupid dog

I hate to say it, but dogs really are kind of stupid.

I found the link to this video on One Good Thing. It is freaking hilarious.

bathroom remodel: day 20

Yesterday, Brian installed our new exhaust fan/light combination unit in the bathroom, so check that one off the list! He did some other wiring as well. His dad also stopped by and installed a GFCI breaker in our circuit box. This is required by code since we put the fan/light in the ceiling over the shower. And, it's not a bad idea either way to have all of the electrical work in the bathroom protected by a GFCI.

I mostly played "gopher" yesterday and got stuff for Brian as he was working. It was a long day for him, but at least a few things got wrapped up. There is still a bit of electrical work to do, though. Namely, our new wall sconces need to be installed and unfortunately for Brian, they are not going in the same location as our current lights. And we also need to put in an additional wall outlet. This will probably be easier to do, but both projects will involve cutting holes in the wall and running wires through them. Ugh. Not sure when all of this is going to get done. It was nice having last week off of the project, but I think we're going to need to work in there a bit this coming week.

Saturday, October 15

dog flu

Like I don't have enough to worry about already: Pet owners worry as dog flu spreads across U.S.

new job

Brian got a new job. Woohoo! He started this past Monday. The job is in Johnstown, which is cool because he has basically spent the past 10 years driving to the Altoona area to work. You can't do that forever, that's for sure. Plus, now that Jake's older, he'll be around for whatever is going on with him--school activities, sports, and whatnot. And the recent rise in the cost of gasoline was killing us, so our savings in gas and wear-and-tear is just an added bonus.

Last night, we went out to celebrate. We wanted to go to Big Dogz, but their parking lot was full so we figured that was a bad sign. Then we went to the Bistro and you had to wait for a table there. Then we went to Chilis and their parking lot was packed (plus, we didn't really want to go there), so we decided on the Alibi instead. Apparently Friday night is not an ideal day to go out for dinner in Johnstown. The Alibi was pretty packed, too, but there were more people at the bar versus at the tables. We had a nice dinner and then hit Brogies for some bikewear. Brian needed a dressier leather jacket so he can ride his bike to work. Brogies happened to be having a sale so he was also able to get a new pair of boots. Good deal.

Thursday, October 13

my current obsession

As promised, no work has been done on the bathroom since the weekend. This has given me a chance to concentrate on my other favorite pastime--obsessing about the impending avian flu pandemic. Sure, we've been hearing about it for a few years now, but it seems ever so close to happening now. Perhaps not this year, but sometime soon, I'd imagine. In the meantime, I'll be stocking up on food, water, and ammo. Blame it on reading of The Stand one time too many.

propaganda

Bush teleconference with soldiers staged.

I caught this on the news this evening and couldn't believe my ears.

Monday, October 10

ham-a-licious

My mom and I split another half a hog this year. I learned an important lesson last year--always order the pig a few weeks before the Cambria County Fair. This ensures getting a "fair pig" (in more ways than one).

The ham and bacon came in last Friday. I baked our ham on Saturday. I found a nifty recipe for ham soup in Penzeys One magazine. It called for a ham bone and since I had one, I decided to try it out. As an aside, I've been ordering all of my spices from Penzeys for years now. Excellent quality.

The recipe turned out great, but it takes forever to cook. I also had to add extra water more than once (otherwise, I would've had ham and bean stew). Here's the recipe:

Gram's Bean Soup

Stock:
3 quarts water
1 onion, halved
1 stalk celery, halved
1 meaty ham bone or a large ham shank
2 bay leaves
2 cloves

Soup:
1 lb. bag dry beans (navy, pea, or northern) soaked in a large bowl of water overnight
1 lb. ham, diced (3-4 cups)
2 carrots, peeled, ends removed, diced
4 medium potatoes, diced (about 4 cups)
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. savory leaves
1 tsp. salt (optional--some hams are salty)
1/2-1 tsp. black pepper

Place all the stock ingredients in a soup pot. Over fairly high heat, bring quickly to a simmer, then reduce heat and simmer at least 2 hours, skimming occasionally. Strain and return to the cleaned pot. Add beans, cook 1 hour, add ham, carrots, potatoes, thyme, savory, half the salt and pepper. Simmer another hour, until beans and potatoes are tender. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.

Yield: 3-4 quarts soup
Prep time: 10 minutes (yeah, right)
Cooking time: 4 hours

Sunday, October 9

bathroom remodel: day 19

We did a little work this afternoon/evening. Brian installed our new ceiling light and removed the old exhaust fan and plugged the hole (since we are putting the new fan in a different location). I did some drywall patching. A few more coats of drywall compound and I should be done. I also caulked around the baseboard tiles--again--I just can't get that to look how I'd like it to.

I think we're both convinced that the toilet is working properly. However, the stupid flushing mechanism is broken so we can't use it anyway. The chain that connects to the handle to the mechanism apparently detached itself and got flushed down the toilet. We don't have a spare chain on hand and neither of us felt like running to the hardware store today so the toilet is out of commission for now. I might try rigging something up if I can find something that will work.

I think we're mostly going to take the week off and catch up on other stuff around the house.

Saturday, October 8

bathroom remodel: day 18

As it usually goes, we didn't get to work as much as we would've liked today, but we still managed to wrap some things up. Jacob's school had an event this morning/afternoon. When we returned from it, we started to work in the bathroom. Brian picked up a Fluidmaster wax-free bowl gasket for the toilet at Lowe's this morning. We installed it and the toilet in short order. It seems to be working. Unlike last time, there's no water running into the woodshop when we flush the toilet. However, Brian has banned us all from using the toilet until Monday night because that is the magical night when he'll be convinced the toilet is actually working. In the meantime, we're just going to flush it at random times and check for running water in the room below. I believe this is known as the Guzo Methodology of Toilet Testing. Or something like that.

After that, he installed the last of the drywall around the tub. Jacob and I then had to go to an anniversary party for one of my relatives. It didn't take a lot of arm-twisting to get Brian to stay home and work on the vanity. As I understand, all of the pieces for the base are cut to fit and ready to assemble.

Thursday, October 6

the power of the holy ghost***

It has been suggested by more than one person that perhaps our bathroom is possessed by malign spirits and that is the reason why we're having so many problems with our remodeling project. So, I performed an exorcism of sorts this evening. Brian's skeptical, but we'll see how things go from now on. I'll keep you posted.

Already, I see an improvement. I wouldn't say we worked in the bathroom this evening, but we did disconnect the toilet to see what the problem was. The job was surprisingly easy (it doesn't take long to disconnect a toilet) and we didn't make a mess because we sucked all of the water out of the toilet with a shop vac before attempting anything. Yesterday's problem turned out to be a simple misalignment of the wax ring. I think we might try one of the new non-wax gaskets for our next attempt. That way, if there are any issues, you can make adjustments rather than run to Lowe's for yet another wax ring.

***Clutch, "Burning Beard", Robot Hive/Exodus

Wednesday, October 5

bathroom remodel: day 17

Two words more than adequately describe this evening: toilet disaster.

With a little effort on Brian's part, the toilet was installed. We were happily playing with the new flushing mechanism when I noticed a little bit of water on the floor. That sucked because obviously the seal between the toilet and the flange wasn't good. It was too late to work any further, so we started cleaning up, with the intention of re-tackling the project some other day. I went to the woodshop to put some stuff away and saw gallons and gallons of water all over the floor, dripping from the ceiling. Most notably, it was all over the maple that is reserved for the vanity.

Lessons learned:
1. flush once and check the woodshop for leaks
2. hire a plumber

Tuesday, October 4

bathroom remodel: day 16

Things certainly didn't go how I hoped today. Right after work, I busted my ass to get the toilet and tub areas painted. Our intention was to install the toilet this evening. We started working on that after supper only to find that the new shutoff valve we bought was the wrong kind. We went to the hardware store up the street and bought a new one. This one was the wrong size. Then we ran to Lowe's and bought another one. This time it worked.

Brian attached the wax ring to the toilet and set it on the floor. It didn't look like it fit properly (it was too small--probably because the ceramic tile raised the height of the floor). Since it was 9:30, we didn't feel like running to Lowe's again, so this will have to wait until tomorrow. Also, the bolts that were in the toilet flange were too short. New bolts were supplied with the wax ring and they look like they'll work, but we had a scare when we thought the old bolts weren't going to come out.

This is the worst project we have ever worked on or ever will.

Monday, October 3

bathroom remodel: day 15

Will it ever end?

I actually feel like we accomplished something today. After I got home from work, I texture painted the bathtub area. After Brian got home from work, we removed the rest of the damaged plaster from around the tub and replaced some of it with drywall. We didn't even work that long today. I guess I feel a sense of accomplishment because there is no more damaged plaster. Hooray for us! Granted, I'll have a lot of patching to do once we get the rest of the drywall in, but since the tub surround is going to cover all of it, I can get away with doing a half-assed job for my patching.

If tomorrow goes how I hope it does, I will finally feel like we're getting somewhere with this project. Keep your fingers crossed...

Sunday, October 2

stupid cat

I forgot to mention this in today's bathroom remodeling post. After Brian cut the hole in the roof, out popped the cat onto the roof. I thought we were going to have to call the fire company to get her off. It took a few minutes of coaxing, but Brian managed to get her to go back through the hole and into the attic. A few minutes later, she popped her head out again, but Brian was on the ladder and made her go back in the attic. It would've made a great picture, though. But, I was not prepared for a potential photo op this evening.

kiss the girls

Brian and I caught this movie last week. It was based on the James Patterson novel of the same name. In fact, this might have been the first Patterson novel I ever read. I mostly wanted to watch the movie so I could see how they handled the Alex Cross character. In the movie, he is played by Morgan Freeman, who is rather old. In reality (and given his age in the books), he should be played by someone like Denzel Washington. And really, who would you rather look at for two hours--Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington? I think the choice is clear. Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of the movie and apparently with it, the interaction with his family, so I may never know.

They didn't really have too much going on with his partner, either. It's been so long since I read the book that I don't remember if this is how the original story went. I'm guessing not, though. Anyway, I thought it was a decent movie, but it probably would've been better had I not known the entire plot.

bathroom remodel: day 14

I was motivated to do all kinds of stuff today, but remodel the bathroom wasn't one of them. So, I did a bunch of other random stuff while Brian was at band practice this afternoon.

There are many undesirable tasks in our bathroom remodeling project. Number one on Brian's list was installing the roof duct for the new bathroom fan. We did this today. Or rather, he did. I did have to crawl in the attic and drill the center hole for the ductwork (Brian claims to have a problem with his knee and was therefore unable to crawl around in the attic. I, on the other hand, think this was my punishment for making him remodel the bathroom). But beyond holding the ladder, my work ended there.

The reason this task was so undesirable for him (besides the very fact that he had to cut a hole in the roof--that just doesn't ever seem like a good thing to be doing) was that he had to stand on top of a 16 foot ladder for 90 minutes in order to complete the task. Our roof is too steep to stand on so the project had to be done from the air.

All in all, I'd say it went pretty well. It only took two hours total, which isn't that bad, I guess. Now, all we have to do is wait for it to rain in order to determine if it was a true success or not. The way things have been going with this project, I might as well put a bucket in the attic tonight.

Saturday, October 1

bathroom remodel: day 13

Will the bathroom ever be done? If we could ever get a full weekend in, it might. Brian spent the morning helping his dad with something and then spent the rest of the day at a Penn State game with my dad. There's not a whole lot I can do when he's not around, but I can paint. So, I texture painted the toilet area. I'm pretty pleased with the results for a number of reasons:
1. It actually looks half decent.
2. I used a sponge rather than a loop roller to apply the texture paint and this method was decidedly less messy than my previous efforts.
3. It didn't take that long to do.
4. So far, it's the only project-related thing that hasn't ended in disaster. Of course, there's still time for that.

All I have to do is paint that area and then we'll be able to install the toilet. I will say one thing--the rest of my painting is going to be done in one fell swoop, so our next priority will be to finish fixing the walls. Now that our tub surround has arrived, it would be nice to get that installed, but I have to paint first. Hence, the new priority. Painting is also dependent on some electrical work. With this project, it seems like everything is dependent on everything else and it's making it really hard to get anything done. It's going to be a busy week...

Friday, September 30

bathroom remodel: day 12

We did a little work tonight--Brian did some electrical stuff (there's plenty of that left) and I washed the walls in preparation for a weekend of painting. Lowe's finally got our tub surround and ceiling planks in so now I'm really motivated to get some work done. I'd say we're way behind schedule at this point, but as long as the bathroom is competely done by Thanksgiving(because we're having Thanksgiving dinner here), I'll be happy. Of course, the earlier it is done, the happier I will be.

Wednesday, September 28

bathroom remodel: day 11

Today is hardly worth writing about, but we did get a few things done. I guess if we just do a few things each day, eventually this project will be done. But, I'm not totally convinced of that at this point. Brian got home from work too late to work on anything substantial, so instead, he replaced some of the drywall around the tub. I managed to apply the grout sealer this afternoon.

Exciting day, huh?

Tuesday, September 27

bathroom remodel: day 10

Brian wired up one of our new light switches this evening while I stood around looking pretty. I don't know nuthin' about that 'lectrical stuff. I did some odds and ends the past two days, but nothing substantial. I really need to start on the texture painting, but I figure if I put it off long enough, I'll die and then I won't have to do it.

Sunday, September 25

robot hive/exodus

This is the new album from Clutch. If you haven't bought it yet, do so NOW! Brian acquired this cd about a month ago and I've been listening to it nonstop ever since. The music is pretty cool, but the best thing about this band is the lyrics (but there are a number of wicked licks on there as well). There are so many archaic references in them that it's hard to keep up. Luckily for us, Clutch provides urls for many of the items found in the lyrics so that you can find out just what they are. I knew we had a winner when Jake started singing along on our way home from Home Depot this afternoon. I guess I'm going to have to check out some of their back catalog now.

bathroom remodel: day 9

As promised, not much was accomplished today. I did some caulking and put another coat of primer in the toilet area. Brian intended on doing some electrical work after the Steeler game, but since it wasn't over till kind of late, it didn't happen. Of course had we known what the outcome of the game was going to be, we could've gotten all kinds of work done today.

Saturday, September 24

bathroom remodel: day 8

Yesterday, while I was wetting the curing grout, I noticed that there were not one, not two, but three baseboard tiles that had hairline cracks in them. I don't know how I missed that when I was installing them. But, those tiles had to come out. That ended up being the day's "unplanned activity". I thought their removal was going to be a royal pain in the ass, but it wasn't too bad. The only problem is that I don't have any more grout, so a trip to Home Depot is in order for tomorrow.

Now onto today's regularly scheduled items: I primed part of the wall (the toilet area). Brian made a new access panel for the plumbing area, which enabled me to get Jacob's room back in order. Brian also did some electrical work. Well, it was more like electrical planning. We ran one line, but didn't hook anything up to it. After opening the switchplate cover that is currently in the bathroom, he took one look at it and decided to call in the big guns--his dad. So, Ed stopped by this evening and told Brian what needs to be done. Basically, what is currently there is crap. But, that's ok because we were going to redo it anyway.

Tomorrow's going to be a wash. After church and brunch, Brian has band practice. After that, the Steeler game is on (and this one is definitely going to be one to watch). With any luck, we'll get an hour of work in. I guess that's better than nothing.

Friday, September 23

tickle me pink

The Joey show on NBC had yet another Whitesnake reference last night (I believe this is the 3rd one). This one was more subtle than the others--the one guy on the show was wearing a Whitesnake t-shirt. And, it happened to be one of the same shirts I used to own. Of all the running jokes to have, I'm really enjoying this one. I wonder if David Coverdale is paying them for all of this press? If not, he should be.

Wednesday, September 21

bathroom remodel: day 7

Today was grouting day. To add insult to injury, I started to grout and found a loose tile. And then another. And then another. All in all there were six loose tiles. Luckily we had some liquid nails for tile on hand and I was able to reset the tiles. However, now I'm wondering how many more are going to pop up and just why this happened? I mean, this is the 5th room we've tiled in our house and we've never had this problem before. All I can figure is that I spread the mortar too far and it started to dry before I laid the tile. I can only hope this is the case because then all of the tiles won't be affected. All of the tiles that are going to be under the vanity were in perfect shape, of course.

The good news is that we're running out of potential disasters for the project. The other good news is that the satisfaction I get from a finished tile floor, I may get to experience again and again if any other tiles decide to pop up.

last day of vacation

I can't believe I have to go back to work tomorrow. And tomorrow isn't even a telecommuting day! I should've scheduled my vacation better. Yesterday really beat the crap out of me--every last muscle on my body is sore today. Knowing that I'm not going to be in the mood to do any work after grouting the bathroom this evening, I did a bunch of stuff this morning and afternoon--ironed clothes, cleaned the floors, cleaned the kitchen, and various other boring things.

After Jake went to school, I laid on the couch for nearly two hours. And I'm still tired. After he got home, we took the pups outside for some exercise and we picked the rest of the tomatoes and removed the plants from the garden. I also picked a few peppers (my peppers are still growing like mad) and some brussels sprouts. My carrots are still in there, too, but they got a late start. So, I'll leave them in for a few more weeks and then I'll harvest them. Before you know it, it'll be time to plant garlic again.

Anyway, I think I'm going to have to go to bed early tonight if there's any chance that I'm going to wake up for work tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 20

information highway

Apparently the search engine gods have been working overtime recently. Here's how some people have found my blog in the past few days:

MSN searches:
#1 for how to put fascia on
#2 for only a face a mother could love
#2 for QOTSA BLOG
#4 for the superficial lizzy
#5 for motorcycle safety courses york pa
#5 for go nude aerobics
#24 for whats eating gilbert grape
#37 for lumber rack

Alta Vista search:
#3 for winchester va adult movies

Why this interests me so much, I'm not sure. But it's kind of funny how search engines index things, that's for sure.

bathroom remodel: day 6

Today was ceramic tile day. It came out awesome. We did gray and white in a checkerboard pattern. The tiles were 6"x6" in size. I'm really happy with the job. There was one snag, of course. We bought a box of the ceramic baseboard trim. I started taking the pieces out of the box and they came out in pieces. Uh oh. We ended up just three short. All told, there were six broken pieces that will be going back to Lowe's sometime soon--that stuff's too expensive to chalk up to a loss. There were three other broken pieces that we were able to get parts from. That's a lot of broken stuff. Plus the one box of ceramic tile we ordered was obviously dropped on its side at some point and the ends of half of the tiles were broken off. But at least we were able to use these at the "cut" pieces. And we have a half box of each color left over so there was enough to cover any losses.

Brian took his bike to Lowe's and is trying to buy the pieces we need plus a few extra to have on hand. I sure hope they have them in stock. I hate it when a job is so close to being done, but you can't complete it.

Tomorrow will be an easy day. Brian goes back to work. I'm off for one more day, but I can't work in the bathroom tomorrow because the tile needs to set for 24 hours before it gets any traffic. Tomorrow evening we'll be able to grout. Then, at least the floor will be done. So, I guess during the day I'll get caught up on my other work that I've been ignoring for the past week. A nap would be nice, too.

Monday, September 19

hade remodel: tide 5

Brian managed t' finish up th' plumbin' today. 't seems t' be workin', but we`re goin' t' keep our one good eye on 't fer a wee days t' make sure thar be nay leaks before we close up th' plumbin' access area.

I continued t' work on th' walls. Thar be still much patchin' t' do, but things be finally startin' t' look better in thar.

'tis hard t' believe we`ve been workin' on th' hade fer five days already. I think 'tis on accoun' o' th' plumbin' tookst so long t' do--th' three days 't encompassed seem like one. We`re nay too far off track, tho. I`d say we`re only about a tide behind me virtual schedule at this point. I be kind o' lookin' fore t' Thursday, tho, as we`re takin' th' night off. I`d say se'en days straight be long enough t' work--we deserve a break.

Translation provided by Pirate Speak.

Sunday, September 18

bathroom remodel: day 4

One phrase describes today and that is "plumbing disaster". Of course the way plumbing projects usually go around here, I'm probably being redundant with my phrasing. Actually things went pretty well up to a point--all of Brian's soldered joints worked, so that was definitely a plus. When he turned on the water, one joint was leaking and it was a threaded one. The problem is that something was soldered to the piece connected to the thread, so it could not be tightened.

He took the section of pipe out and then tried to resolder it, but there was water in the lines that we could not get out (for those of you not versed in plumbing, this is a losing proposition). So, we decided to take a different approach and went to the dreaded WalMart to try to find some new parts. They had no copper fittings whatsoever, but I did see a canister of MAPP gas. Brian always uses propane. I read about MAPP gas the last time he had problems soldering something. I tried to find some at Lowe's, but couldn't, so we just stuck with the propane. As it turns out, MAPP gas totally kicks ass. I should add that for three hours, Brian tried to resolder the pipes with propane. After we got the MAPP gas, it took five minutes to resolder the same pipe. That is some good stuff.

Anyway, we turned the water back on again and there was a small leak around the other threaded pipe (do you see a theme here?). To top things off, only hot water is coming through the spigot at the moment. We're hoping it has something to do with the bread we stuffed in the pipe while trying to resolder. With any luck, it will dissolve overnight and everything will be in working order in the morning. The leak seems to have stopped as well, though things like that make me nervous. We'll see how that's working in the morning, too.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Saturday, September 17

bathroom remodel: day 3

Get used to it. I suspect you'll be reading these posts until the end of October.

Today wasn't as productive as I'd hoped. Of course, I'm always way too hopeful about getting stuff done. Plus, we slept in this morning, so we got a later start than we should have. But, we were both beat from the previous two days' work so neither of us set an alarm last night.

I worked on the walls for a bit--patching the plaster and some of the holes. My work is not done yet--we have to put in some new drywall around the tub and where the medicine cabinet used to be. Not quite sure when that's going to happen. And I know we're going to have to cut some holes into the wall for the electrical aspects of the project--those wires have to get through some how. To top things off, I'm going to have to texture paint the room before I paint it. There's no other way for me to get the walls looking presentable since they used to have tile on them and are all bumpy from the adhesive. I had good success with this when we remodeled our kitchen five years ago, but I do not like to texture paint. It makes an incredible mess. Every time I do it, I swear it's the last time. My only consolation is that the bathroom is very small.

Brian spent the day getting the new bathroom fixtures ready to install (no small task). This involved much soldering of pipes, and elbows, and sleeves. (oh my!) I was hoping he'd get them installed today, but we ran out of time. Cutting off the water supply is not something that you want to do at 6pm. So, this is the first thing on tomorrow's agenda.

Friday, September 16

bathroom remodel: day 2

Today went so-so. Brian had an appointment to go to in the late morning, so we didn't really get started until late afternoon. And by started, I mean we mostly pondered how to accomplish certain tasks that need to be done. We also managed to finish up the tub stuff that wasn't completed yesterday.

After supper, we started on the "real" work of the day--installing the concrete backer board for the ceramic tile. We both felt that we needed to accomplish something today and this was just the thing because now we can install the tile whenever we want. This is good because after the tile is installed, we can hook up the new toilet. Having to go up or down a floor in order to use the restroom is not very convenient (especially in the middle of the night and when a five year old boy is involved). So, the sooner the better.

Thursday, September 15

bathroom remodel: day 1

Today started the remodel of our main bathroom. Brian and I are off work for about the next week so we can work on this project. Being the only bathroom in the house with bathing facilities, this required that we accomplish a few things today--namely installing the new tub.

We started working at 9am this morning. Jake, surprisingly, was a big help this morning (don't worry--he was a total pain in the ass the rest of the day so he made up for it). I guess anything that involves destruction, he's into. He helped us remove the (pink) ceramic tile from the walls. He almost did one wall himself! Just before Jake had to leave for school, Brian started to work on the removal of our cast iron tub. The way you remove a cast iron tub is with a sledge hammer, by the way. This took about an hour. We got the truck all loaded up and Brian was off to the dump and to the lumber store to pick up some maple for the vanity he was supposed to have done by now.

While he was gone, I did some clean-up work. When Brian returned, he noticed that we forgot to remove the cabinet above the toilet. Luckily, everything below "eye level" was taken care of. I guess the cabinet will be removed of tomorrow. Good thing we have a shed to store our "garbage" in.

Next, we started on the tub installation. Of course, nothing ever goes how you want. We had to remove some of the plaster from the tub area in order to squeeze the tub in. No big deal because the tub surround is going to cover that area so it won't take much effort to fix. It did take much effort to install, though. After that came the drain plumbing. You'd think this would be easy, but it's not. We got the plumbing to work well enough so that we could all bathe this evening, but it still needs some work tomorrow.

If nothing else, all traces of pink have finally been removed from my house. We'll call it a winner.

Sunday, September 11

peppers

I have found pepper nirvana and it is called ground chipotle pepper. It makes everything taste good. Especially bean dips. This evening, Brian and I consumed a recipe of hummus containing some of the aforementioned ingredient. Any time Brian eats a half a recipe of bean dip, you know it's a good recipe.

On another note, I tried drying some cayenne pepers in my microwave today. Previously, I have dried them in my oven with good results, but I didn't want to turn on the oven for just a couple of peppers. After reading this story a while ago, I should've known better than to try another method. My results were much the same. However, I was only doing a test run of two peppers, yet it nearly killed us. I put them in the microwave for 20 seconds. About half way through, one of them popped. I thought that maybe I should put a slit in them so that the popping would not occur. I opened the microwave half way though the cooking time and pepper gas wafted through the house. We were able to dissipate the gas by opening some windows and turning on some fans. I ended up stringing up the peppers and hanging them in the kitchen to dry. So far, so good.

dog run 2005 pictures

Brian put together a little Dog Run photo gallery on his site. Check it out.

Saturday, September 10

dog run 2005

Brian and I participated in the annual Dog Run event today. It was a lot of fun. I wasn't sure how I would like it as my knees and hips always get sore while riding on the back of Brian's bike for any length of time (I suspect I will have to replace some of those joints at some point in the future), but there were stops set up every 25 miles so things worked out pretty well--just when I started to get uncomfortable, we'd get to stop and stretch our legs. We rode with John and his friend Viola and Jeff. John was the only veteran of the Dog Run in the group. When he did it last year, he waited until all of the bikers left. We did this again today and I think it's the way to go. Especially since the "stops" on the run are bars and many people were drinking, it's not a bad idea to stay behind the crowds. You would not believe the amount of bikes lining up Graham Avenue before the event unless you saw it yourself. I can't even imagine what Sturgis must be like.

The end of the run practically goes past our house, so we stopped in to feed the dogs and swap vehicles. There's a big party at Windber Rec after the run. Since Brian planned on drinking there, we took the truck so I could be the designated driver. When we got there, we couldn't believe how many people were there. We weren't able to find Jeff, but about a half hour before we had to leave, we managed to hook up with John and Viola again. Jake was at Brian's parent's today, so we had to go and pick him up at a decent hour. It was a pretty good day and I'm looking forward to the Dog Run next year as well. We're planning on trying out some other runs during the year if our schedule permits.

harry potter and the half-blood prince

I just finished reading this book yesterday and I have to say, much like the other books in the series, I really enjoyed it. I thought it started off kind of slow, but by the time I got near the end, I couldn't put it down. The thing with this series is that the first book was so magical with all of the inventive stuff going on--Quidditch, Hogwarts, all of the cool creatures, etc.--that you don't even care about the story as much as you're revelling in all of the details. But, this is old hat by the time you've read the sixth book so now we're relying on how good the story is. And, this one was good. I, like millions of others, am now axiously awaiting the next book.

Wednesday, September 7

not sharp

Look--I found a blog more boring than mine. It's The dullest blog in the world. Yet, it gets way more hits than I do. Maybe there's something to be said for being the best at something. Even if that something is dullness.

Tuesday, September 6

handsome devil

Here is a picture of Jake in his tux. I think we're going to have our hands full in about 10 years...

Monday, September 5

the tuxeudo disaster that wasn't

Suffice it to say, you don't want to hear the boring tuxeudo story. Though, this weekend has caused me to rename my medication to "Lawbrax" ("Law" being the generic term for any of Brian's relatives). We'll just chalk that experience up to the fact that weddings make everyone crazy and leave it at that.

That said, Jacob was in Brian's cousin's wedding yesterday. He did a great job, thankfully. He was the ring bearer. The wedding was nice and so was the reception. It was held at a place called the Willow Room in Belle Vernon. The food was really good and the wine was excellent. I like it when you go to a wedding and they actually have something good to drink. That happens surprisingly infrequently.

Unfortunately, I was the designated driver, so I only had one glass of wine. But, after not eating for eight hours, it did the trick. And, we were there late enough that the effects wore off before I had to drive us home (of course). I have become the official wedding designated driver because normally there's nothing worth drinking at these affairs. Yesterday was a definite exception.

Brian and his mother took a bunch of photos of Jake, so I'll be posting at least one of them once they are made available to me. Keep watching...

Wednesday, August 31

first day of school

Ever.

Jake's first day of kindergarten was today. Brian managed to work at home so he could see him off. I was already working at home. Pappy Law also stopped by. The bus was 15 minutes late, though I was warned that the buses tend to run late the first two weeks. Neither Brian nor I were sad to see him go to school. Maybe it's because he's been in daycare for the past few years. I'm not sure. I do know that now we'll be able to take all of that money we're saving on daycare costs and buy gasoline with it. Good timing.

Here is a picture of the happy kid waiting for the bus. He wasn't so happy this evening. Brian asked him if he had an assigned seat to sit in at school. Jacob didn't understand the question. Brian rephrased it and asked if he had to sit in the same seat when he goes to school tomorrow. Jake was like, "But, Grammy is watching me tomorrow." Brian told him yes, but that he still had to go to school in the afternoon. After a few rounds of this, Jacob's response was, "Oh."

nola

The hurricane and consequential disaster that has taken place in New Orleans and the surrounding area really saddens me. This has the potential to be one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. While it pales in comparison to what happened to the tsunami victims last year, it has really hit home with me.

Back in 1998, Brian and I went on vacation to New Orleans. It was the best trip either of us have ever been on. It has become a measuring stick for all other vacations. I don't know what it was about the place, but we felt at home there. I think that's the most relaxed I've been in the past seven years (maybe it was all the alcohol). Brian is always threatening to move to New Orleans, even now (well, up till the hurricane, anyway). One of the highlights of our trip was a ghost tour. We had this cool tour guide named Bloody Mary. We got to cruise the above ground cemeteries and check out a voodoo museum. I was delighted to see her on a Discovery Channel special about New Orleans a few years ago. The trip frequently comes up in conversations between Brian and me.

Anyway, if you have the means, please help these people out. Make a donation to the Red Cross or The Salvation Army. These two organizations seem to be doing the bulk of the work down there--throw them some cash so they can continue their good works.

Tuesday, August 30

mary had a little lamb

And two helpings of corn.***

After years of trying different varieties, I finally got some good corn from my garden. This evening, I was pondering what vegetable to make for supper when I remembered that my corn looked like it was ready. So, I picked a few ears and was pleasantly surprised that it appeared to be edible. I cooked it up and we had it along with some grilled leg of lamb and couscous for supper. Dee-licious.

I guess this means I should plant the same corn again next year so I can determine if this year was a fluke or not. Conveniently enough, I am currently plotting next year's garden, so I guess this was a good time to find out about the corn. I was figuring this year was going to be a wash, so it looks like I have some rearranging to do. In case you were wondering--yes, I do like to plan ahead. I used to wait until winter to plan the next year's garden. But, I like to do it at the end of the gardening season now--while everything is still fresh in my mind. e.g. Under no circumstances do I want to plant two zucchini plants again next year. This thought may have been forgotten if I waited till January to do my planning, you see?

*** paraphrased from one of my favorite The Far Side cartoons

Saturday, August 27

company picnic

This afternoon, my company picnic was held at Idlewild Park. It was more on the idle, versus wild, side. Somehow we managed to miss the rain. It was raining on our way there and it was raining on our way home, but only drizzled a few times at the park. Jake had a really good time playing with my coworker's children. This was his second trip to Idlewild this year, so he's practically a pro. He also went with his daycare earlier in the summer. He was hoping to hit the SoakZone today, but it was not warm enough to do so. I'm sure Brian was relieved because there was no way in hell I was going to do that, so he "volunteered" for the duty.

Friday, August 26

johnstown brewing company

This evening, we went to the Johnstown Brewing Company with Judy. We didn't have the cod. I had chicken marsala, which was quite good. And I have leftovers for my lunch tomorrow, which is cool. Brian had the pale ale and rather enjoyed it. Judy stopped by our house afterwards and hung out for a bit. It was good to see her again--we don't get to hang out as often as we used to.

I think this was only the second time we've eaten at the JBC. We've been there for drinks numerous times, but only for food twice. Both times, I enjoyed the meals. It's kind of cool to have a brewpub in town, so hopefully they will have continued success.

dead meat skulls

This is the name of Jacob's new band. Please note the lack of pretentiousness--they are "Dead Meat Skulls", not "The Dead Meat Skulls". I don't know if they're punk or what as I have not heard any of the music yet. But seeing that Jake's playing guitar for the band, I'm sure I'll hear something soon enough.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 24

the weather outside is delightful

At least that's how AccuWeather has described it recently. I'm inclined to agree--70s and sunny during the day; upper 50s to lower 60s at night. Talk about good sleeping weather! Does weather like this exist anywhere 365 days a year (I'll even take some rainy days--that would be ok)? If so, let me know because I'm going to move there.

Saturday, August 20

family reunion

Today, we went to Portage for my family reunion. It was a pretty laid back affair this year. Jake had a lot of fun playing with his distant cousins. Brian and I just hung out and relaxed the whole time. Brian's really going to have to start taking his camera with him everywhere we go. We missed a great photo op on the way home. Some guy had a sign in his yard that read "doe and buck urine for sale." Where else but Portage could you find a gem like that?

band bash 2005

Last night, we had our annual band cookout. What band, you might ask? Well, representatives from Garden of Ashes, Rottenstone, East of Eve and Temple to Blackness were in attendance (and that only accounted for three of us!). I made way too much food (due to the fact that some people can't commit--don't worry, I've made note of it), so it looks like we'll be eating BBQ for the next few days. Fortunately, no one's complaining about that.

Thursday, August 18

feeling saucy

Steve gave me a bunch of tomatoes this week so I whipped up a batch of marinara this evening. This marinara was totally organic--it consisted of tomatoes, from both my garden and Steve's, along with onions, garlic, basil, and oregano that I grew. It came out quite tasty. Brian helped me skin the tomatoes. It is never a fun task. I used to do the boiling water/ice water bath method but this year I wanted to try something different. I was looking for one of those tomato crusher contraptions, but couldn't find one on short notice. So, I ended up settling for a food mill instead. Granted, it was a cheap one, but it was not up to the job. Brian and I ended up skinning the tomatoes by hand which was not a fun task. I make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes virtually every year so I really need to find a good (that is, easy) way to skin my tomatoes. Ideas, anyone?

Sunday, August 14

new religion

Last night, Brian asked me if I wanted to get up early and go for a motorcycle ride with him before church. Let's put it this way--the only day I've ever voluntarily gotten up early was the morning we bought Ripley (my Doberman). So, my answer was 'No'. Then he was like, "What if we skipped church and went for a ride instead?" I was agreeable to that because Brian never lets me skip church. I'd hate to miss out on that opportunity. Plus, riding motorcycles is fun--just not at 8am. (The only thing that is fun to do at 8am is buy a puppy.) He then went on to say that he'd get up and go to early service and then we'd go for a ride after that. Right. Needless to say, he didn't get up early, but we did go for a ride this morning. I guess you could say he's now worshipping at the altar of Harley-Davidson. In the name of Harley, Davidson, and Ghost Flames. Amen.