Tuesday, August 26

tomatoes!

I picked a nice basketful of tomatoes this evening--a couple of varieties. I will surely be giving some of these away. But, in the meantime, it looks like we'll be having some tomato side dishes this week. This recipe looks good. I think I'll try it this week.

the bathroom project

Last weekend we kicked it up a notch and finished a good portion of the bathroom at the office. We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday there, not to mention last night. And, Brian's there right now. And, we'll be going again tomorrow. We did manage to squeeze in some fun--Doug had a party Saturday evening. Other than that it was work, work, work!

We had one setback Friday night--Brian wanted to move the old toilet to the downstairs bathroom. But, while he was installing it the toilet flange broke and that was the end of that. We had a similar situation here when installing our basement toilet, and that took a bit of work, so we're putting that on the back burner for now.

As for the status, the floor needs a few more planks installed and it will be done. The toilet is installed. Brian is installing the sink as we speak. The new trim is painted and ready to install. Other than that, all that is left is the wall paneling and some of that is already up, too. So, I'm hoping this wraps up early next weekend and we can start working in the kitchen, because I have a feeling that is going to be a project unto itself.

Friday, August 22

tomato note

The Costaluto Genovese tomatoes I planted this year are doing pretty well. My tomatoes are somewhat pathetic this year and these have been the best producer thus far. I'll need to plant these again next year.

Thursday, August 21

more socialization

My parents watched Jake a couple of days this week so I asked them if they wanted to stay for dinner one night. Tonight worked best for them, so we had a little cookout this evening. Nothing fancy--just burgers (and the fixin's), kielbasa, and some of my famous freezer pickles. And, an ice cream cake for dessert.

It also happened to be my mom's birthday today (happy birthday, Mom!) so that worked out well. My mom's, dad's and grandmother's birthdays all fall within a few days of each other. Normally we get together for dinner to celebrate all of them, but since my grandmother's 80th birthday was celebrated last week, we didn't get together to celebrate my mom's and dad's this year.

So, this was the second night this week we got to spend in the back yard. Amazingly, this was the first time we've eaten on the patio all summer. And August is practically over! This has been an unusual year for us, but I expect better things in 2009.

Monday, August 18

a relaxing evening

Judy came over this evening and we hung out by the pond for a few hours. This was about as close to entertaining as we've gotten all year. We had a couple of glasses of wine and spent the evening talking. It was a nice change of pace from our usual routine of endless work. We'll have to get together again soon--perhaps for a meal. Things should be slowing down quite a bit for us by the fall, so I'm hoping to be more social then.

Saturday, August 16

good to be bad

I haven't had a music review in quite some time, so here goes...

Whitesnake was my favorite band in the 1980's. Some might say I was obsessed with the band. Some might be correct. Their 1987 album was my introduction to the band, but I grew to love the older stuff, too (you know, the stuff that no one even heard of, post-Deep Purple). While I'll admit I was a little disappointed in the follow-up to the 1987 album, Slip of the Tongue, I was still a huge fan of the band at that time. I even bought David Coverdale's solo album and his album with Jimmy Page. And, I even ventured to buy one of the Whitesnake albums he did with Adrian Vandenberg. It was not so good. Who would have thunk?

I caught wind that Whitesnake released a new album this year. I checked out the reviews on Amazon and they were surprisingly good. In an attempt to recapture my youth, I plunked down $10 and bought their latest cd (and, that's probably the least amount of money I've ever spent on a Whitesnake cd).

First impressions were eh. Nothing really stuck out. But, for me that's actually a good thing. If I like an album on the first listen, I'll be sick of it in two weeks. After a couple more listens to it, I have to say some of it is sticking. I've had a few songs stuck in my head for days now.

I will say this. While I love David Coverdale's voice, I don't consider him to be a great lyricist. He tends to repeat a lot of themes and actual lyrics in his songs. While this was ok when I was in my teens, now I just find it annoying. Some of the songs on this album are just a little too sappy--it's almost like he's phoning it in. However, his voice still sounds amazing. The music is pretty good, but not great. The sound is kind of what you would have expected if Whitesnake had released an album between Slide It In and 1987, though I don't want to give the impression that this album is better than Slide It In, because it is not.

So, if you're a die-hard Whitesnake fan, you'll probably like this. Otherwise, feel free to skip it--it's not like you're going to hear any of this on the radio, anyway.

not what it seems

I thought I was going to get a bunch of stuff done today since the guys were camping, but that didn't happen. Buster was a royal pain in the neck all day. I couldn't leave his sight or he'd start barking up a storm and/or eating inappropriate things. I took him for a couple of walks, but that didn't seem to help. I gave him a pig's ear to eat while I was outside doing some stuff. That, at least, kept him busy for the duration, however short. Finally, around 8pm this evening, he collapsed in an exhausted heap onto the dog bed. I was kind of hoping he'd sleep all day like he usually does. I had grand plans for this afternoon.

That said, I still got a lot done. Just not some of the things I was hoping to accomplish.

back in order

The pond is back in working order once again. The new pump came in on Thursday. I hooked it up that evening. It's nice to see the water running again and I'm sure the fish appreciate the oxygen. I still have not had a chance to sit out back and enjoy the pond for any length of time. Maybe next week...

Friday, August 15

rizzo's

My mom hosted a dinner at Rizzo's Restaurant this evening to celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday. The dinner was quite good--it was a homestyle dinner and consisted of Italian wedding soup, antipasto salad, bread, lasagna, rigatoni, meatballs, and spumoni. I have some leftovers for tomorrow so I don't have to cook (the guys are going on a scout camping trip).

In attendance were my parents and brother, the three of us, my grandmother's sisters (and the one spouse), and, of course, my grandmother. It was a nice evening.

Wednesday, August 13

aaaba

My company gave away AAABA tickets for Monday and Tuesday night's games, so I took them up on the offer even though I hate baseball. We went to the game last night. We didn't stay very long, but Brian seemed to enjoy it. Jake couldn't see anything because he forgot his glasses and he was busy bitching because he forgot his money so I don't think he got much out of the game. We stayed till the 7th inning and then went home. Johnstown lost so I guess we didn't miss much.

Sunday, August 10

on broken pond

Brian went outside yesterday afternoon to relax by the pond. Something seemed amiss. It took him a few seconds to realize that the stream (i.e. the pump) was not running. Of course by the time all of this went down, the store where we bought the supplies was closed, so we have to wait till tomorrow to make the exchange. I hope they have one in stock.

I went outside this afternoon and tied up some loose ends around the pond. Some dandelions are already cropping up--I'll need to take care of those soon.

New summer goal: actually sit by the pond one evening and enjoy it.

broccoli rabe

I planted some broccoli rabe last week. I tried planting it last spring, but it got all buggy. I tried again in late summer, but it was a little too late so it never matured. So, I'm trying it again this year. As far as vegetables go, this is a pretty good one. I don't see it in stores much so we've only had it a few times. Hopefully I'll have better luck with it this year.

Saturday, August 9

bottling night

We bottled 2 batches of wine tonight--an Australian Riesling and an Italian Brunello. I think both are going to turn out to be fine wines.

This is the first wine we've bottled this year so this should help replenish the wine racks. I still have more stuff to make but am waiting for an order to come in (next month, I think).

juno

This was a good story. Even Brian will admit to this fact. It was about a teenage girl who gets pregnant and then decides to give the baby up for adoption. The marital woes of the prospective adoptive parents was a side story. It could be described as a dramedy, though there were some pretty funny parts in the movie.

Recommended.

Wednesday, August 6

Tuesday, August 5

garden pond: step 8 photo

As promised:

i heart costco

With the cost of everything rising these days, I thought it might be a good idea to join one of the "warehouse clubs". I've heard great things about Costco for years and thought I'd give them a try. I've been to Sam's club and while I thought it was ok, I'm not a fan of WalMart, so I figured I didn't have anything to lose by trying out Costco.

Well, I did have one thing to lose--about a half a day. The closest Costco is in Pittsburgh. I went to the one in West Homestead. Due to the construction on route 22, it took me forever to get there. All of 22 is under construction. All of it. But, once I got there, it didn't take me long to fill up my cart and then some. I could have easily bought another cart of stuff, but it was only me, so I had to make due with the one.

I spent way too much money, but I do believe all of my purchases were valid and will be used (no 5 pound boxes of cereal for me!) I couldn't believe how good some of the prices were--like on office stuff. Having just outfitted an office, I know what things cost and we paid way too much for some of the things we bought.

The nice thing about Costco is that you can order stuff on the internet from them as well. I was checking out some of their prices and they do seem to have the lowest price on a lot of items. Since I like ordering through the mail, I definitely will be taking advantage of this.

All in all I thought the store was nicer than Sam's Club, but maybe this is just my WalMart bias showing through. I can't wait to go there again--if only it were closer.

Monday, August 4

berkeley springs, wv

Jake is on vacation with my parents, so Brian and I planned our annual motorcycle vacation for the weekend. This time, I rode my own bike. We headed to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia yesterday afternoon. It was a pretty nice day for a bike ride. I didn't particularly care for the highway riding, but I was fine with it by today when we came home.

The ride was nice and uneventful. We got into town, checked into our hotel and then headed out to check out the local scenic view (I rode with Brian for this). After that we hung out in the hotel and watched some tv, including the opening NFL preseason game. We ordered in pizza for supper. I also read for a bit. It was a relaxing evening. I don't get many of those. I guess that's why we have to plan these trips. I got a solid 8 hours of sleep for a change, too. That was nice.

This morning, we got up bright and early and headed home. The weather seemed nice enough till we hit the highway--I have never been so cold in my life! We stopped in Breezewood to thaw and I could barely operate the motorcycle because my hands were frozen into claws. We went to a local shop and bought me a sweatshirt for the ride home. Brian's apparently tougher than I am and didn't opt for any additional clothing. Note to self: wear layers next time.

The rest of today has been a blur. After arriving home, we went to Milkie's and picked up another load of mulch. Then we ran to the Cozy Inn and picked up the dogs. After a late lunch, I took a nap and Brian went to work. After I got up, I went to the office and painted the bathroom. We both came home at the same time, had supper, then went to work in the yard. Unfortunately, we need one more load of mulch before my project is done. It has been a busy day. I was hoping to accomplish another thing or two, but that didn't happen. Do I know how to spend a day off or what? I'm off again tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to knock out a few things on my "to do" list. Though I'm a bit skeptical about that because I have plans for most of the day already. To be continued...

Saturday, August 2

garden pond: step 8 (landscaping)

A lot has been accomplished this week. As previously noted, the stream was finished earlier in the week. Later in the week (Thursday, maybe) I went to Westwood Garden Haven and picked up some fish and some plants for the landscaping. Yesterday after work, I went to Ray's Nursery and picked up a few more plants. Last night, Brian hauled some rocks and created my "rock garden" on the hillside. Today, he picked up a load of mulch and we put it around the pond and the side yard.

Unfortunately, we ran out of mulch before we finished the side yard. But, this was not unexpected. I hope to get some more mulch early in the week so we can finish that up. Once that is done, I'll post some photos of the pond.

On another note, I'm also going to mulch the dog area. I hope this works out. The yard looks like complete crap there (no pun intended). I think the mulch will look nice, but I hope they don't track too much of it in the house or go on digging frenzies every time they go outside.

what a week

I spent every waking moment working this week. Most nights were spent in the yard till dark, then doing housework until 10 or later. Today was no different. Ugh. The morning started off with some laundry then we went to the office to work. Brian did some plumbing stuff, which took him most of the day (don't ask!) and I primed the bathroom (holy yellow, batman!). After I was done there (Brian had to stay behind and plumb), Jake and I stopped at Em's and grabbed a late lunch. I did some more work and then ran some food to the office for Brian. Before you knew it, it was time to run Jake to my parent's--he's going on vacation with them tomorrow morning. I returned home, ate a quick supper, and then Brian and I went outside to do some work.

The good news is that the pond is officially done. I'll be posting the pond pictures just as soon as we finish mulching the side yard. It looks friggin' awesome!