Saturday, July 30

better than a rain dance

This weekend, Brian and I had a wedding to go to, so Jake stayed at my parent's house. We thought this might be a good opportunity to catch a few rides on the motorcycle since the weather was supposed to be excellent all weekend. Excellent.

We planned on going for a short ride on Saturday night and a long ride on Sunday afternoon. We ducked out of the wedding early so we could go riding while it was still light. On the way home, I commented on how it was getting darker earlier these days. Of course, I didn't think it was getting dark quite that early (8pm) yet. Shortly after, it started raining a little. The little bit of rain then turned into a downpour that lasted over an hour and a half. Around 9:45, Brian decided that he still wanted to go out (probably just to prove that he didn't forgo alcohol all day for nothing). We weren't out for long and it started to rain a little again. And things were just too wet in general, so we returned home rather quickly. He's in the kitchen right now making vodka on the rocks with a twist of lemon. Didn't take long to start drinking, eh?

So, the general theme seems to be if I'm riding or plan to go riding, you can expect rain. So, don't make any outside plans for tomorrow at 1pm.

charlie and the chocolate factory

Brian, Jacob, and I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night. This was, of course, a remake of the classic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The movie was pretty cool. It was definitely weird like the original, but in a different way. There were quite a few differences in the plot, as well. I was curious to read the story that insipired the movie after watching the original, now I definitely am going to buy the book. I've been on the Johnny Depp bandwagon as of late. As always, he was excellent. His Willy Wonka character reminded me of Michael Jackson, though it supposedly wasn't based off of him (but, he was child-like, wore gloves, had a weird haircut, wore weird clothes, and liked to have little kids over to the factory. hmmm.) Tim Burton is a hell of a director, too. His movies are always fantastic and so imaginitive. All in all, a good flick if you ask me.

Sunday, July 24

new fascia

With our ongoing attic insulation/ventilation project, we needed to put fascia vents in the back of our house. Our fascia boards were painted about 6 years ago. I think it looked good for about a year and then the paint started peeling off and it looked rather awful. So, while we were doing the ventilation, we decided to cover the fascia boards with vinyl. The project came out great. Brian's bummed because it's not the sort of thing that people are going to notice now that it looks good (because it now looks how it should), but I'm sure people noticed when it didn't. Regardless, it was bothering me, so at least I'm happy now.

My parents took Jake on a little "farm vacation" where they stayed at this farm bed and breakfast somewhere in the State College area. Jake was given chores to do while there and had a great time. He was away for two days which allowed us to complete our project. I took a vacation day Friday (it was Brian's flex day). The next time Jacob is away, we're going to have to plan something fun rather than a crappy project (like I always manage to do).

Since my parents were dropping Jake off in the late afternoon, I suggested that they join us for a cookout. My brother came over, too. Yesterday was a nice day to be outside. After supper, we headed over to a party at my boss's house for some drinks. We had a great time there. Jake played with some kids the whole time, so he was thrilled. I am beat today, though. I think I'm going to need to get some couch time later this afternoon. Maybe after I finish a few chores...

Friday, July 22

wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

This evening, I got to ride on the back of Brian's motorcycle for the first time. I can see why he enjoys riding so much--it was a lot of fun. I did learn a few things while on the back of his bike:

1. Riding a motorcycle is better than meditation (thoughts of hitting the pavement remove all other worries from your head)
2. Going 35 miles an hour feels like 60
3. Going 55 miles an hour feels like 100
4. It's probably more fun to be the driver
5. I'm obviously going to have arthritis in my knees and hips judging from the state I was in after the ride
6. Wind chill is definitely a factor
7. Wind chill with rain I could do without experiencing again

When we were first driving down the road, I thought to myself, "I'd probably enjoy this more if I were in driving." We all know what a control freak I am, so I guess that thought isn't surprising. I also think that I just don't like someone else having quite that much control over my destiny.

But, did I like it? Hell, yes. I'm already looking forward to the next ride.

Wednesday, July 20

happy birthday, judy

Today is Judy's 30th birthday. I never thought I'd see the day. I've know her for what seems like forever (but has "only" been 8 years) and she's had the nerve to be in her 20s the whole time. Not any more. Today, she has joined the ranks of the 30-something crowd. We're glad to have her.

Sunday, July 17

further proof that i should've lived in the dark ages

Recently, my grandmother decided to get rid of her sewing machine. I decided to take it because I figured that I could use it for upholstering the furniture Brian makes. It turns out that her sewing machine is this kick-ass black cast iron number from the 1950's. It's so cool. I haven't sewn anything since 7th grade home economics. Doing the math, that was 23 years ago, so I thought it might be a good idea to buy a book on the subject. The book has a few cool plans in it that I'll probably attempt for practice before trying anything major. And, if anything happens to come out, they'll probably be doled out as gifts this Christmas.

I was leafing through a Pottery Barn catalog the other day and saw a sideboard in there with a runner on it. That sounds like a good idea for a first project. Not only did it look great, but it will also help protect the top of my sideboard from the "claw of the doberman". So now I'll probably make myself a runner for my sideboard if I can find material that I like.

Then, damn that Pottery Barn catalog--I found some drapes that I really liked. They would be perfect for our living room and dining room. Unfortunately. they don't come in the sizes that we'd need. I happened to be leafing through my sewing book to check out the runner plans and lo and behold, they also have plans on how to make drapes. So, that's another thing on my "to do" list. I doubt I'll get to any of this till fall, though. I'm just too busy in the summer with the garden and "exterior home maintenance" and whatnot.

Over the 4th of July I mixed up this concoction called "Lemon Drop Liqueur". I had to buy some canning jars in order to make this. This got me to thinking about canning vegetables from my garden. Brian would love if I'd can tomatoes. Then, he could have pasta with fresh tomato sauce "all winter long" or so he says. I'm still on the fence about this concept. It seems like freezing stuff is an easier route to take. But, it does have some merit for certain items, I suppose. To add to the madness, I was telling Steve about this yesterday and he was highly encouraging the activity as well. So, this might be another thing for me to try. I'll admit, a bunch of canned vegetables sure look a lot nicer than a bunch of bags of frozen, blanched vegetables. And, they'd be easier to store as my freezer tends to overflow at certain times of the year. I probably won't try it this year. But, if I end up with a bumper crop of tomatoes, who knows? More likely, though, I will research this over the winter and plan on it for next year.

murphy in action

Yesterday, Brian's good friend and co-worker, Steve, came over for a cookout. If anything could've gone wrong with the preparation, it did.

First of all, the previous weekend, I looked for a small leg of lamb roast while we were grocery shopping. The store didn't have one. I figured maybe they'd get some in by the next week. No such luck. So, I sent Brian on a mission to two more grocery stores Friday night, with a contingency plan to buy a defrosted turkey breast with a bone in it if his mission should fail. So, he comes home with boneless turkey tenderloins, of course. I was concerned that these might dry out on the grill, so I didn't want to make them for company. He did say that the one store had a boneless leg of lamb that was larger than I wanted, so I decided to go with that. (I just cut it in two pieces and froze the extra part for another meal).

With that done, Friday night, I was making the dessert. I turned the stove on and it took 30 minutes to preheat (it usually takes 7). I'm not sure if the dessert came out right or not (as it was the first time I tried this particular recipe), but it seemed to be ok. Then I was making bread yesterday. This time the stove took 45 minutes to preheat and it wouldn't heat to the required temperature. Due to the lower temperature, the bread didn't brown properly, but it still tasted quite good. I guess I'll be calling someone tomorrow to service my stove. Just what I need--another expense. Good thing it is the summer and I don't rely on it much for cooking.

The weather was thundery all afternoon, but it only ended up raining for a few minutes so we were still able to have dinner outside. Brian and I figured the storm had to be pounding someone somewhere. Evidently, that 'somewhere' was Richland.

Steve is a big gardener. So, when Brian started band practice, that gave us a chance to swap gardening tips for a bit. I don't know many people who are into gardening even more than I am, so it's always nice to have someone like that to talk to.

In the end, everything turned out ok, so I guess that's all that matters. All in all, a very enjoyable evening.

Thursday, July 14

a face only a mother could love

Even I find this dog to be frighteningly ugly.

Wednesday, July 13

end table

Brian designed and built an end table for our living room (and to think some people actually buy furniture). I did the finish work last weekend and the piece made its way to our living room this week. You can read about it on his site. He built it from a load of cherry he scored at an auction last October. Building this one piece of furniture has practically made the lumber pay for itself. Of course, he needs to make some more stuff if he plans on storing his motorcycle in the shed this winter. Don't worry--I've got a few things lined up for him.

Monday, July 11

take me out to the ball game

The company Brian works for buys Altoona Curve tickets every year for the employees to use. Since we're not huge baseball fans, we've never taken advantage of this perk--until now. Jacob expressed an interest in going to a baseball game, so Brian planned on taking him to a Curve game this summer. Brian thought he was only getting two tickets, but when he picked them up, there were four. I wasn't interested in going (I would rather work than sit through a baseball game--that's how uninterested I am), so Brian invited Jacob's friend Jake and his dad Jamie. The four of them went to a game today. It was at noon, so both dads had to take a day off work (no complaints were heard regarding that). It was hot today, to say the least, but the kids made it to the 8th inning before the whining got out of hand. Of course, they spent a lot of time eating and playing, too, so that helped the cause. The Curve lost today, but the four guys had a great time nonetheless.

Sunday, July 10

triple r.u.b.*

Brian logged a few miles on his bike this weekend. Yesterday, he and his friend John were supposed to go for a long ride, but John had to cancel because he was sick. I suggested that he contact one of my co-workers, Jeff, who got a bike a year ago, but he wasn't able to get ahold of him. Brian decided to head out anyway and went out for a nice, long ride. Here is a picture from his journey. It was taken somewhere near Shawnee State Park.

Brian heard from both Jeff and John yesterday and the three of them decided to head out for another long ride today (I'm such a tolerant wife). They basically went to the same place Brian went yesterday, but they took a different route. The three of them (can this be considered a gang?) took off from our house. Jacob and I saw them off, jealous that we had to stay home all afternoon while the guys were out having fun on their bikes.

*rich urban biker

Friday, July 8

cook-in

Judy came over for a cookout this evening. Well, seeing that a storm blew in minutes after she arrived, it was more of a cook-in. At any rate, it was an enjoyable evening. We don't get to hang out any where near as much as we used to. I guess this can be chalked up to a number of factors, but it is always nice to get together and b.s. all evening. We had one of my favorite recipes, chicken soft tacos with the works and margaritas (of course--it is Friday, you know?). Good food, good drinks, good company--what more could you ask for on a Friday evening?

incorruptible

Each of the past three years, my parents have bought Brian and I play tickets for the Mountain Playhouse for our anniversary gift. We went there last night to see "Incorruptible". It was a farce about a bunch of monks that go to extreme lengths to further the works of their church. The first half of the play was kind of slow, but the second half was pretty funny. Going to plays isn't something I'd want to do on a regular basis, but catching one per year allows me to refill my "culture" meter every summer.

Tuesday, July 5

the in-laws

I had planned on doing some much-needed yard work this evening but the rain put a damper on my plans (it's amazing just how much yard work is required to keep things looking good). So, I decided to iron some clothes and watch the tube instead. HBO was showing The In-Laws tonight, so I watched it. It's not like there's anything else on TV. The movie was about an undercover CIA agent (Michael Douglas) who was in the middle of an operation during his son's wedding. He, of course, gets everyone in both families involved in the situation. The movie was OK, but it's certainly not something I'd watch again. But, it certainly filled the void this evening.

fourth of july

We started off the holiday weekend with a party at our friend Lish's house on Sunday. Jacob had a blast because there were a bunch of kids for him to play with there. That night, we came home and took the pups for a walk. Once it got dark, we had a fire in the chiminea and watched everyone's fireworks while Jake played with his sparklers.

On the 4th, we didn't do much. Jake went to my parent's in the morning and came home around supper. While he was gone, Brian and I got caught up on our work around the house. Then, the three of us had a little cookout for supper. Last night, we were hoping to catch the fireworks that were going on downtown, but they couldn't be seen from our place. And there weren't as many fireworks going off yesterday as Sunday so we didn't catch too many (much to Jacob's chagrin).

Saturday, July 2

fruitful day

Today started off with a picnic at Shawnee State Park. We had some lunch and then Brian and Jake hit the water. I'm not much of a swimmer to begin with (let alone when water that fish are actively pooping in is involved) so I sat under a tree and relaxed while they swam. Somehow, I still got slightly sunburned. Apparently dappled light from the shade of a tree is not equivalent to SPF 45. Who knew?

On the way home, we stopped at Giant Eagle and bought 16 pounds of strawberries. What are we doing with 16 pounds of strawberries you might ask? Well, the girl at the checkout counter wanted to know, so I'll tell you, too--we were making strawberry wine. I've been waiting for a good sale on strawberries, but have not seen one. Giant Eagle had them on sale this week and I didn't want to miss the summer "strawberry window" so I bit the bullet and bought them today (though they were certainly not at the best price I've ever seen by any stretch of the imagination). So, if you see strawberries on sale from this point forward, I don't want to know about it. Making strawberry wine sure is a lot more work than the grape wine kits I usually make (particularly when your helper is out riding his motorcycle for the first 90 minutes of the process). But, the deed is done and 5 gallons of strawberry wine are currently fermenting in the kitchen.

Now for the computer problem of the week: our cable modem was not working again today. For the average person, the lack of internet access might not be a big deal. But, we have Vonage for our phone company, so it is more than a mere inconvenience for us. Luckily, they have a feature that when the internet (our our network) is down, our cell phone will ring at the same time as our house phone so we don't have to miss any calls. But, this is certainly not as nice as when everything is working properly. Given this, we went to Circuit City to buy a new cable modem this evening. Before we left, I checked to make sure our cable modem was still broken. It was. When we returned home with the new cable modem, I checked ours again. This time, it worked (of course). So, I left it plugged in for now. I didn't have a whole lot of confidence that Atlantic Broadband could activate a new cable modem at 9:00 on a Saturday night. What do I hate more than computer problems? Well, a couple of things, but I can't list them here so we'll just go with that for now.