Thursday, December 31

2009: the year in review

Favorite book: The Road. Under the Dome came in at a close second. And, Speaks the Nightbird gets an honorable mention.

Favorite movie: The Wrestler.

Favorite music: I thought it was going to be another bust this year, but Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age) put together a band with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones and thus the first release from Them Crooked Vultures became my favorite album of the year.

2009 was definitely less stressful than 2008, however it was not without its own kind of excitement. I guess the biggest event was me quitting my job and going to work for Brian. It's really more of a lifestyle than a job, though. But, I like it.

We didn't get much motorcycle riding in this year, unfortunately. No bike trips, either. But, we did go to Cleveland, yes Cleveland, for vacation. And, we had a really nice time.

I have a lot of grand plans for 2010, so stick around and see how things pan out.

Wednesday, December 30

cross country

This was another book from James Patterson's Alex Cross series. This time, Alex goes to Africa to track down a killer. This was a quick read, but it didn't leave me with much.

Sunday, December 27

the 5th day of xmas

Today was a normal Sunday with football playing on the tube all day. The Steelers still have a slim chance of making the playoffs, so that makes some of the other NFL games interesting, since the Steelers will need some help in order to make the playoffs.

Brian's parents stopped over for a Christmas visit in the early evening, so that just about concludes our Christmas visiting schedule (only one visit remaining!).

I was pretty much lazy all day and I fear that is going to continue into the rest of the evening.

hard candy

To put it succinctly, this was a movie about a pedophile who meets a 14 year old girl on the internet. But it definitely takes a turn for the unexpected and morphs into more of a psychological thriller. I'd say it's worth watching, but it probably takes a special kind of audience to appreciate it.

Saturday, December 26

the 4th day of xmas

I didn't tell the story of the bike that Jake got for Christmas this year and there's no better time than the present...

We bought Jake a new BMX bike sometime last month. We stored it in the office basement so it would be out of sight. On the 23rd, Brian started the assembly only to find out the front forks were bent, so he took the bike back to Toys R Us and exchanged it for another one and put it together that same night. Everything looked ok, but on Christmas morning, Jake noticed that one of the spokes on the rear wheel wasn't connected. After determining that the wheel would have to be taken off (and this was the rear wheel which would have been a big pain in the neck) and the tire removed in order to fix the spoke, not to mention the fact that the part we needed was missing, Brian had to take this bike back to the store, too. This was a little disappointing for Jake, but it wasn't like he could have used the bike yesterday anyway. Long story short, they gave Brian the display model (he wasn't about to assemble the bike for the 3rd time or go back to the store due again due to missing or broken parts) and Jake now has a new bike, which he did get to try out today.

The funny thing is that I was looking at bikes online, which is where I like to do my shopping, and all of the reviews were bad because the bikes were arriving damaged or with missing parts, so I decided to buy it locally, only to run into the same issues.

After Brian and Jake returned from the store, one of Brian's friends stopped in for a visit. He lives in California and he and his girlfriend (who we had not met until today) were in for Christmas. The guys played pool for a bit and we got caught up on things.

Other than that, it was pretty much business as usual today.

Friday, December 25

the 3rd day of xmas

This morning started pretty early--6:30 AM to be exact. Jake couldn't contain himself any longer, so we all got up and opened presents. I got an iPod touch, so that has kept me busy for most of the day. While Jake and I played with our new toys, Brian finished up one last Christmas gift that he made in the shop.

Later in the afternoon we went to my in-laws for dinner, which was nice. After dinner we came back home and my parents and brother stopped in for a visit.

Since then, I've been on the computer/fooling around with my iPod. I even managed to spend one of the gift cards I received for Christmas. But, next, I'm going to sit back and relax for a little bit before I hit the sack.

the 2nd day of xmas

Because we work for an awesome company, we had Christmas Eve off work. After not having much time off this year, I was definitely looking forward to the long weekend.

We spent the morning wrapping up some Christmas-related stuff, then Brian and Jake played the role of Santa and delivered presents to the neighbors and a few other friends.

By the time they returned, it was time to go to church (4:30 service). We made like Catholics and left after communion so we could get to my parent's for dinner on time. Thanks to the weather being ok, my Grandmother and her sister were able to join us for dinner (which was excellent, by the way).

Jake chattered the whole way home. He wasn't excited about Christmas or anything (right). We didn't really do anything after we got home. In fact, our gifts are still sitting on the dining room table. Normally we'd put everything under the tree, but Buster was a little too interested in the things we brought back from "The 1st Day of Xmas" so we've been putting stuff away instead.

This was the first year that Jake didn't believe in Santa, so we didn't have to stay up until he fell asleep (we put the presents out this morning instead--more on that in my next post), though we were still up later than usual.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 24

double cross

This was another book from James Patterson's Alex Cross series. Either I'm sick of this series or James Patterson's writing isn't what it used to be. I think it might be the latter. The book was entertaining enough but it really lacked depth--the characters were very one-dimensional. That said, I have another one sitting here and I'm going to read it, too, so I guess they aren't that bad.

Sunday, December 20

the 1st day of xmas

Brian's sister and her family came in this weekend so we headed to my in-laws for an early Christmas dinner. It was quite riotous with all of the kids opening gifts. The weather was definitely Christmassy. This is the only time of year I don't mind having snow--it doesn't seem like the holidays without it. However, I could have done with a little less--the roads were pretty bad on our drive there, but by the time we left, it had quit snowing and the roads weren't as bad.

Saturday, December 19

more fall tv

I heard some good things about The Middle so I started watching it and now everyone in our house really likes it. Good show. ABC really has quite a Wednesday night line-up. If they could only figure out the 8:00 slot they'd be golden. Wednesday has replaced Thursday as my favorite tv-watching night. In the past few years, there haven't been a lot of new sitcoms. And the ones that have come out haven't been very good, so what a nice surprise to find three new shows that I love this season (The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougar Town).

I'm also in the midst of watching the first season of True Blood. I heard all of the hype surrounding it when it first aired, but I held off until I was sure it was something I was going to like. Though the fact that Alan Ball (producer of Six Feet Under--one of my all-time favorite shows) was producing didn't hurt matters. Finally, I succumbed and now I'm obsessed with vampires. What a great show!

Monday, December 14

jingle bells

I'm not quite ready for Christmas, but almost. I hit a number of milestones today. For one, I put the last of the Christmas cards in the mailbox this morning. I used to actually go to the post office and mail them, can you believe that? Now, I put a bunch out each day until they are gone. It works just as well, but without the trip to the post office.

I also finished baking tonight. I only did three batches of cookies this year, much like I have been doing the past few years. That number seems to work out well, though I'm still usually sick of cookies until all is said and done. I did five batches of dog treats again, too, but if you ask the dogs, it's not enough!

Over the weekend, we decorated the house (inside and out) and put up the tree. We even did a small tree at the office this year. Here I am wishing I didn't have to decorate at the house and I end up having to decorate at the office, too. At least we have an employee to help!

I still have to wrap the gifts. Normally I would have this done by now. In previous years, we would send Jake to the grandparent's at the beginning of the month and Brian and I would spend an evening wrapping gifts. That didn't quite work out this year, though. But since Jake figured out the Santa thing, we don't have to be as stealth about it either. So, I'll probably just wrap stuff as I have time. With eleven days to go, I'm sure I won't have any problems completing this final task.

Saturday, December 12

the amazing panda adventure

Jake saw this movie at school last year and wanted to watch it for Family Movie Night, so we watched it last night. It was ok, but not great (from an adult point of view). Of course, that kid watches The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, so no one's accusing him of having discerning taste. But, since we do the Family Movie Night thing for him, we have to let him choose the occasional movie.

Thursday, December 10

back to normal

It seems that all of our December projects are doomed to fail. After a few excruciating days with "Crazy Buster," we put him back on his full dose of medicine. And just like that, he's back to normal. Well, normal for him. Maybe we'll try again next year. Or the year after.

Tuesday, December 8

under the dome

This is the latest book from Stephen King and I have to say that it is the best book he has written in years. I could not put it down. Clocking in at almost 1,100 pages, it is a formidable read. But, I was hooked from the beginning and spent every spare moment reading it.

Basically, a dome comes down over a small town in Maine and the shit hits the fan from that point on. At the beginning, I kept thinking about the Simpsons movie where a similar thing happened, but that parallel was quickly forgotten as I kept reading.

I will note a few things. First, this movie had a ridiculous amount of "bad" guys in it. It's hard to believe there could be so many in such a small town, but I guess if you can suspend belief enough to believe there's a dome over a town, this shouldn't be that much of a stretch. Second, the ending leaves a bit to be desired. It ends on somewhat of a positive note, but overall the tone of the book was rather depressing. I remember being about half way through the book and thinking, "How can this possibly go on for another 500 pages?"

I was surprised when this book arrived at my doorstep (thanks to being in the Stephen King Library). But, I was even more surprised at how much I liked it.

Monday, December 7

door fail

We were going to install Jake's door this evening. I read it's easier to finish doors after they are hung so we wanted to get right on it. Brian took some measurements and realized that the door jamb was not wide enough. The doors we bought were designed for drywall and we have plaster, which is thicker. Brian remembered seeing doors with larger jambs at Home Depot, but thinks they were too large for our purposes. He's going to double-check, but it's not looking good. Unfortunately neither one of us thought to check this measurement before we headed to the store.

Back to the drawing board--quite literally, perhaps.

Sunday, December 6

making concessions

We had grand plans to make solid cherry doors for the rooms throughout our house. The first one was supposed to be for the bathroom that we remodeled four years ago. It just never happened. Luckily we kept the old door up. Jake was supposed to get the second door. Unfortunately for him, his door was removed when we remodeled his bedroom in 2007.

Part of the problem with the door-making thing is that making doors just doesn't hold Brian's interest like making furniture does. The second problem is that it's impossible and/or expensive to find cherry thick enough, so he was going to have to laminate boards together in order for this to work.

An idea struck me the other day--why don't we just buy some doors and call it a day? So, we went to Home Depot today and did just that. They are the plain old standard doors that everyone has, and not unlike the ones we're replacing. But, at least I'll be able to stain them cherry and they'll kind of match our trim.

I'm not coming out of this empty-handed, though. Brian is still going to make the closet doors, of which we have a large number of. These will be easier to make because they won't be as thick as a regular door. Plus, they will be in the style I wanted. Jake's closet door is up first since he doesn't currently have one. Brian has already started on it, but probably won't get back to it until after the new year.

to die for

I added this movie to our queue way back when I was on a Nicole Kidman kick. I didn't know much about it, but read it was one of her better movies, so I figured it was worth a watch. It was. The movie was about a fame-seeking woman (Kidman) who hires three teenagers to kill her husband. I thought it was going to be a drama, but was surprised to find out it was billed as a comedy. It definitely was not a comedy in the traditional sense of the word. I guess you could call it a black comedy, but I never can get into those types of movies, so I hesitate to call it that. Unlike most black comedies I have seen, it was actually funny in parts. The movie really defies categorization, though. And, that makes it all the more interesting.

Friday, December 4

he's two!

It's hard to believe that we've let Buster live this long. He turned two today. While he is 100 times better than he used to be, he is still one high maintenance dog.

That said, he's doing so much better than before that we're going to try to take him off the medication we put him on last year. Hopefully the training we have done with him has taken effect permanently and he'll be ok off the meds. If not, we can always keep going with it. We're going to wean him off slowly because even if we can't get him off them completely, he might get along fine on a smaller dose.

Buster has finally gotten to the point where we can leave him loose when we leave the house for a little bit. I still don't trust him enough to leave him loose all day while we're at work (or elsewhere). I barely trust him when we're only gone for an hour or two (we just got a new couch last spring and I always picture it ripped to shreds whenever we return home from anywhere and Buster has been left in the living room). However, I have to say he does much better upon our return when he is left loose rather than when we lock him up in the hall (less hysterical barking).

Brian takes care of Buster's exercise needs, which are also less than they used to be. The two of them go jogging a few days a week. I guess it helps keep both of them in shape.

Buster is definitely done with the puppy craziness. Two is a magical time. I can only hope that he keeps improving with age.

Wednesday, December 2

stuffing

I have been obsessing about stuffing since Thanksgiving. I love stuffing. This year, there were only two pieces left after Thanksgiving dinner. My mom was nice enough to send one of them home with us. We hadn't been home for very long when I pulled the turkey and stuffing out of the fridge and ate them. Cold. I didn't want to take the chance that anyone else would eat the stuffing. At any rate, it wasn't enough, so I bought some bread cubes this weekend and made stuffing for supper today. We had baked breaded chicken breasts and asparagus, too. And there are leftovers!

Sunday, November 29

zack and miri make a porno

This was a typical Kevin Smith film. Much like his other works, I liked this one. The dialog was witty and there were definitely some funny moments in the movie. I'm not a fan of Seth Rogen, and while his character was annoying as usual, it didn't detract from the film too much. The funniest parts, I thought, were the brief scenes with the Mac guy (Justin Long). Hilarious.

Saturday, November 28

thanksgiving, part 2

Brian's sister and her crew came in yesterday, so we headed to Brian's parent's house last night in order to visit. There was good food, good wine, and good conversation to be had. Plus, we got sent home with some leftovers, so I don't have to cook today!

Thursday, November 26

marley & me

This was a pretty good movie. I think I enjoyed the book more, though. I thought I was going to be watching it by myself because Jake saw it before and Brian didn't like the book, but Jake watched the entire movie with me and Brian caught most of it. Much like the book, the ending was very sad. Makes me thankful for my pooches, even if they are pains in the ass.

thanksgiving

It was a lazy day for me, but I guess I deserve at least one of those a year. I thought about doing some stuff today, but then opted out. I mostly sat around and read or watched tv in my spare time.

The morning was uneventful. My mom was cooking dinner today, so we headed over there at the lunchtime hour. We had a nice dinner and hung out there until about suppertime, when we came back home.

This evening, at Jake's suggestion, we started our first Family Game Night. As I am the oldest, I got to choose the game this time. My choice was Boggle. After kicking some Boggle ass, I settled in and watched a movie. Next up, I'll be reading the new Stephen King book I got the other week, Under the Dome.

Happy Thanksgiving!

speaks the nightbird

This was a book about a witch. A witch trial, actually.

To be honest, I wasn't that impressed when I first started reading the book (it had very flowery language). I had to put it down a couple of times before I really started reading it. However, being a fan of Robert McCammon's previous works, I plowed on with it and was glad I did--it ended up being an excellent read.

Luckily, the story doesn't end here--there are some other books in this series. I will definitely be checking them out.

Saturday, November 21

done shopping

I am officially done with my Christmas shopping! I always try to get done by Thanksgiving, but I usually have a few outstanding things to get once that day rolls around. But this year, I was on the ball. I don't have all of my gifts in hand yet, but everything is at least ordered at this point.

I'm still making Christmas cards, but that is moving along just fine. I expect to be done with them well before they need to be sent out.

We don't decorate until the middle of December, so I don't even need to think about that yet. I do need to get started on my baking, though. Maybe next weekend will be a good time to start on that.

Friday, November 20

martyrs

By my posts, you'd think the only thing that I do is watch movies. That is not so. I also have a job and do housework.

At any rate, this movie is the perfect example of the reason why I do not let Brian pick the movies. As his punishment, I made him watch the entire film. This movie was completely painful to watch. Seriously. If you're into watching people be tortured for great lengths of time, have I got a movie for you. I did, however, think the very ending was pretty cool. But, getting to that point, not so much.

Sunday, November 15

weather

The weather has been crazy warm this month. It would have been a good year to try the fall planting bit. The good news is that I was behind on a lot of things outside and now I'm almost caught up. If the weather can just hold out for one more weekend, that should do it. More next weekend (hopefully)...

the best november ever

How about this weather? I, for one, have really been enjoying it. I've been getting some last minute things done outside that were put off for too long. Today's job was to clean out the vehicles and put in the winter mats. I thought about washing and waxing my car as well, but decided to have some fun instead and practiced rollerblading for a little bit. I stayed on the patio again, but I'm going to need to broaden my horizons soon. Of course, by the time I get this figured out it will probably be too cold to use them any longer.

I also did some minor stuff outside this afternoon. I came inside just in time to catch the last quarter of the Steelers game and boy am I glad I didn't waste the whole afternoon watching that game! Next up: some housework.

The weather is supposed to be decent for the next week (not quite as warm as it has been, but still nice for November) and then it's going to be more seasonable after that. I'm hoping to get one more nice weekend because I have a few more things to cross off my list. I hope it isn't too much to ask for.

the host

This was one of those Korean monster movies. It was not really up my alley. We did get off to a bad start, though--we started the movie in the DVD's default format, which was badly overdubbed American voices. After 30 minutes of this ridiculousness, I found out that we could change the language to Korean and turn on American subtitles. This, for whatever reason, made the rest of the movie bearable. However, the movie wasn't the least bit scary and was full of anti-American sentiment, making this movie another one I cannot recommend.

Saturday, November 14

addams family values

Much like the first movie, I liked this one more the second time around (even if it was 16 years between viewings). Another good Family Movie Night.

Sunday, November 8

another beautiful day

My parents invited us out for dinner at this great restaurant in Altoona, The Phoenecian Mediterranean Restaurant. There, we had a Mediterranean feast, which consisted of multiple courses. The meal started out with some appetizers (the hummus was outstanding), followed by a salad, and then the main course (the grilled meats were quite tasty). Everything was delicious. And, it was a nice day for a drive.

Once we returned home, I went outside and cleaned up the brush in the yard. Well, the brush is still in the yard, but at least it's all in one pile now. So, I guess the outside is done for the year.

Saturday, November 7

beautiful weekend

Today started off like most Saturdays, with laundry. I had to get my Conzatti's fix this morning, too, as I was out of a few essentials. After lunch, we went to the office to do some work on the building--just a few small things. Once we got home from that, I finally got outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We still had not put away/covered up the patio furniture, so I took care of that. That done, I grabbed my new rollerblades and tried them out on the patio. I could use some more practice, but I'm getting the hang of it. My ultimate goal is to be able to walk one of the dogs while rollerblading. Probably Lizzy or Alice (and not Buster) as I'd like to live a little longer than I have.

Tomorrow's supposed to be nice, too, so I have some more outside stuff planned for the afternoon. As is Monday, but unfortunately it gets dark by the time I get home from work, so that's not going to do me any good.

Sunday, November 1

the orphanage

We've been on a horror movie kick lately. I guess it's the season for it. This was a pretty good film. Not totally awesome or anything, but worth a look if you're into ghost stories. It rated very low on the gore factor and that was fine with me. Be warned: the film is in Spanish so if you don't like subtitles, skip it.

Sunday, October 25

worker bee

The guys went to a Steeler game today, so I made up my mental "to do" list in preparation for the day. I got up early in order to see them off and decided that I was hungry for some chocolate chip cookies, so I whipped up a batch. This was not an item on the "to do" list, but, in retrospect, it should have been.

In the morning, I vacuumed and mopped the living room, dining room, and hall floors and cleaned the bathroom. By this point it was lunchtime and the weather had warmed up, so I went outside and did a bunch of yardwork. I came in just in time to catch the end of the Steeler game.

Also today, I changed the beds and washed the sheets. And, loaded the dishwasher multiple times. I even managed to finish a book. There were a few other things I was hoping to accomplish, but that always happens when I make a "to do" list. The one thing I was really hoping to do was catch a nice nap, but since I was outside working all afternoon, that didn't happen. I did manage to catch a catnap for a few minutes, so that was better than nothing.

All in all, a pretty good day. Now, I'm going to spend what little time is left in the day relaxing on the couch.

the dangerous days of daniel x

This was another one of those James Patterson collaborations that I'm not fond of. This one was written with Michael Ledwidge. It is also considered to be an "all ages" book, so the level of writing was down a few notches. That said, the story was ok. It's about this teenager, who is not only an alien, but also an alien hunter (he's the good guy of the story). Jake's always complaning that there's nothing to read, so I'm going to try to get him to read it. I think he might find it enjoyable. The problem is that he's still reading little kids books, which he finishes in one sitting. He needs to start reading some real books. Before long, he will be at the reading level where he can read anything we have in the library. That should keep him busy.

enjoying fall

We have had a few nice days in October (besides the ones where it snowed), so I have been getting some stuff done outside. It's nearly impossible to get anything done during the week since it gets dark so early, so that leaves the weekends.

Today, I harvested the Brussels sprouts and removed them, the cabbage, and the broccoli rabe plants from the garden. But, my garden is not empty--I planted garlic today. I like the fact that something is growing in my garden 365 days a year. My ultimate goal is to lengthen my gardening season. It's too cold around here to do 4 season gardening, but it's not that difficult to extend the season a little and start it a little earlier, too.

Besides that, I finished the first (of many) garden paths. This one leads from my garden to Jake's playhouse. Why, the playhouse? Well, once Jake outgrows it, we're going to put a greenhouse in the same spot. It's going to be so cool. I'm also going to lay a stone path around the other 2 sides of the garden. I still have some stones so, with any luck, I'll be able to continue working on this project until the ground freezes. We're also going to put in a path from the patio to the shed, but I don't have the details on that figured out yet.

Here's a picture of the final path. The first part of it (between the garden and patio) has been done for some time. The plants you see growing in that portion are a type of thyme. I had to plant something for two reasons. One-to keep the sand in the joints and two-to keep the weeds down. As it turns out, it also looks good, so I guess it's serving three purposes. Here's a picture of the finished path:

Saturday, October 24

race to witch mountain

We did the Family Movie Night thing last night and watched this flick. It was ok. I'm still having problems finding good movies for us to watch. Jake liked it, but his tastes aren't exactly discerning. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) starred in this movie, but he kept his shirt on the whole time, so this movie has nothing for the moms out there.

Sunday, October 18

drag me to hell

This movie looked great in the previews, but not so much in the DVD player. First problem: it wasn't the least bit scary. Second problem: they went for the gross-out instead, but that, too, was ineffective.

I guess I'm not a huge horror movie fan (I have pretty specific tastes on the subject), but I do like a good movie no matter the genre. This was not one of them.

Saturday, October 17

the good guy

Yet another Dean Koontz novel. It wasn't really that much different than any of his other books, but, for some reason, I enjoyed it more than most. I think maybe it's because I haven't read a Koontz book in a while. If I read a couple of them in a row, they get a lot less interesting as pretty much all of his books have the same plot.

Anyway, if you're in a Dean Koontz kind of mood, this one'll do.

harbinger

A few weeks ago, Brian had a cold. Mid-way through his illness, I caught it. We have since both recovered.

Yesterday, Jake woke up with a sore throat, cough, fever, etc. It sure looked like the flu to me. However, today he is much better (still has a fever, though), so now I'm thinking it must be something else. Though if it was the flu, he got off easy.

None of us have gotten flu shots yet. Jake was supposed to go today, but can't since he is sick. His doctor is supposed to have them next weekend, also, so we'll have to try to hit it then. There are some flu shot clinics this week so Brian and I are going to get ours then. My doctor's office is having a clinic today, so I'm going to run over there to see how long the line is so I might be able to get mine today. Of course, this is for the regular flu shot. From what I've read no one is actually sick with the regular flu, just the swine flu. And, the swine flu vaccines aren't available yet, so all the good this is going to do us.

Sunday, October 11

fall television

I'm happy to have found two new shows to watch this season, Cougar Town and Modern Family. The Cougar Town pilot was hysterical, but the quality has dropped off some since then. It's still worth watching, though. I'm hoping they can get their stuff together and churn out some more episodes like the first one. Modern Family, on the other hand, has a good chance of becoming a classic sitcom, in my humble opinion. A lot of critics are comparing it to Arrested Development. Let's hope it lasts longer than AD did. Both of these shows are on Wednesday nights on ABC.

I was already watching The New Adventures of Old Christine and occasionally Gary Unmarried on Wednesday nights on CBS, so I guess this now makes Wednesday my major tv-watching evening. Both of these shows are ok. Christine has an hysterical joke now and then. Gary is pretty much a formulaic sitcom. But, both are good to watch while ironing clothes, which seems to be my Wednesday evening task.

Thursday nights have always been THE night for television. I mean since forever. More than forever, really. I can't remember not watching NBC from 8-10 on a Thursday night (sure, I didn't watch Kath and Kim last year, but a lot of the time the TV was still tuned in). Not so anymore. It's a shame NBC can't find some better programming. I tried watching Parks and Recreation last year, but could not get into it. This year, they have introduced Community. While I would consider watching this if I didn't have anything else going on, I'm just not that into it. I find the main character annoying. So that leaves The Office and 30 Rock. The Office has lost some of its gleam, but is still compelling enough to watch. I do love 30 Rock, though, and can't wait for its return this Thursday.

Beyond that I have been keeping up with some of the shows on Showtime: Dexter, Weeds, and Californication. All are great shows, but in completely different ways. I'm thinking about checking out HBO's True Blood as well.

Sunday, October 4

the weekend that wasn't

Brian was sick with a cold all last week, so I came down with it on Friday. We were supposed to go to a wine tasting party at my mom's that night, but had to beg off due to my illness. I had all sorts of outdoor activities (gardening, home improvement, and otherwise) planned for Saturday and Sunday, but that went down the tubes as well, at least on my end. Brian was kind enough to take care of some stuff outside this afternoon, so all was not lost. We did manage to go see my brother cross the finish line for today's Johnstown Marathon. He finished at #19 out of around 100 runners, so pretty good!

london bridges

I finished this book last night. Much like all other James Patterson books, this one was a quick read. He definitely has a formula going on, but it's a good one. If you like the other books in the Alex Cross, series, you'll like this one, too.

Sunday, September 27

fall is here

Fall is pretty much here weather-wise. I still have a lot to do outside. Hopefully we will have some nice weekends in October so I can wrap things up.

All that remains in the garden is peppers, broccoli rabe (of which I harvested some last week), cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. I'm waiting for my garlic to arrive so I can plant that mid-October.

Last weekend, I started working on the garden path again. I really need to wrap that up before it gets cold. I have a pile of rocks sitting in the driveway and they have been there way too long.

Also last weekend, Brian built me a screen for sifting my compost. I screened the first load of it and dumped it in the garden--it looks great!

night out

I've been trying to get together with my friend Carol for months now. It finally happened last night. We met for supper at Big Dogz, along with our husbands and her son, who was in town for the weekend. Jake was supposed to go, too, but he got a better offer (all of his cousins were congregating at my in-laws this weekend). We had a great time bs'ing all evening. It was good to catch up. I always say this, but we need to do this kind of stuff more often. Hopefully it won't be as long between visits till the next time.

Friday, September 25

fu2

This is what greeted us when we got to work this morning. So, Brian had to take the afternoon off work in order to attempt to remove the graffiti from the bricks. No easy task. He has been scrubbing it with lacquer thinner and then power washing it. If anyone knows of a better method, let me know. He made some progress with it, but it needs more work.

Since Brian was outside all afternoon, he got to talk to a lot of the neighbors. It turns out we weren't the only ones hit--at least 3 other houses were spray painted (and one car, too) and there were other random acts of vandalism throughout the neighborhood. Hopefully we weren't the only ones to report this to the police. Since it wasn't just a single act of vandalism, maybe the police will have a better chance of finding out who did it. It doesn't sound very promising, though.

Saturday, September 19

house party

One of Brian's former co-workers had a party today to celebrate their new home. It was pretty much an all day thing, but we didn't make it there till around suppertime (it was in the Altoona area). Well-behaved dogs were also invited, so we left our 3 at home where they belong. A number of people did manage to take their dogs and they were all well-behaved. It was interesting to see that many dogs at one place. All behaving. It was a new experience for us. At any rate, the rest of the party was fun, too. There were cinnamon rolls there (I keep saying it--but I really need to place an order!) We got to eat, drink, and hear some funny stories before heading home for the evening.

romancing the stone

For lack of a better idea, the three of us have been watching some movies Brian and I enjoyed as kids. Last night was Romancing the Stone. It was less action-packed than I remembered but, but still essentially how I remembered it. Jake liked it, so we'll be watching its sequel sometime in the coming months.

Monday, September 14

the road

What can I say about this book? It's probably one of the best ones I've ever read, though I can see how it might not be for everyone--the author definitely took some liberties with sentence structure and punctuation. However, I was so engrossed that I didn't even notice until Brian pointed it out.

The book was based in a post-apocalpytic world. This is only one of my favorite subjects to read about. But, it was really just a story about a man and his son and what they had to go through. Totally riveting, though. I started reading it Saturday night and finished it Sunday afternoon. Had I started reading earlier in the day Saturday, there is no doubt I would have read it straight through.

The author, Cormac McCarthy, is the same guy who wrote "No Country for Old Men". We really liked that movie, so we're going to check out that book next before reading some of his others.

Whether or not you read this book, you're going to be hearing a lot about it soon--it's being released as a "major motion picture" next month. The trailer looks incredible. It's already on my list. We might even go to the theater for this one!

Sunday, September 13

pleading guilty

I finished reading this one yesterday afternoon. This was the second book I've read from Scott Turow, and much like the first one, this one took me forever to read. The storyline was interesting enough, but I just never felt compelled to sit down and read it. So, I guess that's not much of a recommendation. I did have incentive to complete the book or I might still be reading it--Brian finished reading "The Road" last week and absolutely loved it, so I ripped through the rest of "Pleading Guilty" just so I could start on it. That review is forthcoming.

Saturday, September 12

superbad

Last night was another one of our patented "Movie and a Margarita" nights. In the DVD player was Superbad. I thought it was superok and Brian thought it was superfunny. I think that it was geared more towards men (or maybe 14 year old boys). I can't say I'm a huge Seth Rogen fan so seeing that he both wrote and starred in this movie didn't help it any.

days like these

We were supposed to do the "Windber Rumbles" thing today, but Brian had to work and the weather wasn't all that nice for riding, so we didn't go. I didn't care one way or the other, but Brian really enjoys the run, so I felt bad we couldn't attend.

However, I had a great day. It was like getting an extra day in my week. I did a bunch of work around the house. I even enjoyed cleaning because I set up my former office desk as my new "card making" area. I rarely work at home anymore so I decided to move my card stuff from my very small bedroom desk to my enormous desk upstairs. It should make card making more enjoyable. I'm looking forward to making Christmas cards already! Plus the whole office, with the exception of Brian's desk, is now clean.

I did other stuff, too. Worked outside for a little while, ran to the store, cooked minestrone for supper, started a biga for tomorrow's ciabatta, and even finished a book in the afternoon. All of that on top of 5 loads of laundry. Unfortunately, I did not take a nap today, though I could have used one.

We have no plans for tomorrow, so I can only hope it will be as productive as today. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, so maybe we'll get in a motorcycle ride this weekend after all.

Monday, September 7

labor day weekend

We sure had a packed weekend. Thank goodness it was of the three day variety (so it had some recovery time built in)!

Friday was business as usual. I don't believe we did anything out of the ordinary that day.

On Saturday, our friends PJ and Lisa were married. We went to the ceremony in Westmont and then to the reception at the Holiday Inn downtown. It was your standard, classy kind of affair. We had a nice time, but the funny thing was that I worked with PJ and Lisa for quite a number of years so there were a lot of ex-coworkers at the wedding. That made it feel a little bit like a company Christmas party (but, with a bridal party!). At any rate, it was nice seeing everyone again.

Yesterday was quite busy. We started off the day by going to the Ethnic Festival to catch some lunch. Namely, pierogies at St. Mary's church. We walked around for a bit down there and then headed home because Brian had practice. After that, we made a stop in Moxham for our neighbor's open house (at Jackie's Toss N Wash). Then we went to a birthday party of an associate of Brian's. Once we returned home, we did some work outside and then watched a movie.

Today, we had no concrete plans. We were supposed to do some work on the office building, but the Small Business Expo is on Thursday and Brian is behind on the presentation we're showing, so he spent most of the day doing that. I mostly worked around the house, but threw in a little PDS work on top of that. Jake had a friend over in the afternoon.

All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. I managed to get caught up on my sleep, so I should be good to go for at least the next few days.

my own private idaho

We watched this movie last night. I'm not sure why I put it on my list and after seeing it I'm really not sure why I put it on my list. The movie wasn't horrible or anything, but I just wasn't into it. The sleeve of the movie said that one of the characters was a "narcoleptic male prostitute". Sounds hilarious, eh? Unfortunately it was a drama. Need I say more?

Sunday, September 6

garden wall continued

Here is the completed garden wall project. This evening, Brian cut the pieces for the corners so that they'd fit properly. Scratch another one off the "to do" list.

Tuesday, September 1

reservoir dogs

I saw this movie shortly after it came out and it has been on Brian's list since about that time. Thanks to Blockbuster screwing up the order of my season 3 Dexter DVDs, we were looking for something to watch this weekend (thanks again, Blockbuster!). So, I pulled this one out and we watched it (while drinking a Margarita, of course). I actually liked it better the 2nd time around. Brian liked it, too. If you like Quentin Tarantino, you will be sure to like this.

garden wall

So, I added caps to my vegetable garden wall last year. This made some of the blocks, made crooked by the frost heave, more obviously out of joint. I had it on my "to do" list to reset the messed up blocks, but never got around to it until yesterday. And, it only took a half an hour. Sometimes I don't know why I put stuff off.

For a change, there were no kids screaming in the background while I was working in the garden. However, the township decided that yesterday evening would be the perfect time to tar and chip our street. So, instead of having a quiet, relaxing evening in the garden, I got to work to the strains of heavy equipment and the smell of tar. Nice.

Friday, August 28

my groundhog day

It's been a while since I have blogged. That's because my current schedule is this: wake up; go to work; make supper; work around the house for a few hours (which is not nearly enough time); relax for an hour or so; go to bed; repeat. Notice: there is no blogging in there. I'm just grateful that I don't have Brian's schedule, which consists of wake up; go to work; go to bed; repeat. Ugh.

Weekends have been keeping us busy, too. Starting in mid-August, our weekend social calendar filled up through fall. I don't quite know how that happened. I mostly spend the weekends, working around our scheduled activities, trying to do all of the things I couldn't accomplish during the week. There is never enough time!

But, I know fall is on the way and that will free me up some since I can't go outside to work after supper when it's dark out. Even so, I'm not looking forward to that.

Saturday, August 22

the end is nigh

The main part of my gardening season is coming to a close. I removed the zucchini plants last week and the cucumbers today. The tomatoes will surely be coming out soon, too. They haven't looked good all season. I'm hoping some of the green tomatoes ripen before I have to remove the plants. Normally I don't do this stuff till after Labor Day, so I guess I'm ahead of the game this year (unfortunately).

I'll have some other stuff growing in there through the fall, but the events of the past week make me feel like the summer is over already.

Monday, August 17

jacob's ladder

We did a Movie and Margarita Night on Saturday and watched this film. It was really good--right up my alley. In the vein of Sixth Sense, but creepy. I don't know why I waited so long to watch it--don't make the same mistake!

Saturday, August 15

14 + 15

Last night we bottled our last two batches of wine for the year. It seems like we're always bottling the last of it in November so we're way ahead of schedule. That's the only place we're ahead of schedule, unfortunately. There is certainly not enough time in the day. Anyway, I'm not sure where I'm going to put all of the wine as there's not enough room on my wine rack. I guess I'll have to box some stuff up to make some room. There are worse problems to have.

Today, we went to the Carnegie Science Center with our friends to see the robot exhibit. It was pretty cool. I'd like to put Judy up against the air hockey robot and see how she fares--I didn't see too many people scoring points on it (and Judy is a wicked air hockey player). All of the boys had a great time checking out the science center.

I'm spending the afternoon getting caught up, as Saturday is wash day. I have a million other things to do, so I should probably get started on at least one of them.

Monday, August 10

long time, no post

I can't believe it's been over a month since I have posted. I guess I've been too busy gardening to blog. Seriously, though, I have gotten in a decent amount of gardening this summer. The garden is doing pretty well, though my tomato plants look a little scary. I don't think they have the blight, but I'm also not expecting a whole lot of tomatoes this year. I'm going to blame it on the weather since it's been so cold. Everything else has been good, though. I got a lot of cukes again. I made some refrigerator dill pickles last month. They turned out pretty well. I'd like to make some freezer pickles again this year (though not as many as I made last year--that was a bit ridiculous).

We joined a CSA this summer so between it and my garden, we have been inundated with veggies. I guess this is not a bad thing. Things were particularly bad the week we went on vacation but we're back to normal levels now.

The pond is doing well, too. We bought two tadpoles at the beginning of the year and, as expected, they turned into frogs. What was not expected is that they're still hanging out in the pond. I'll end with a great pic that Brian took last week. And, here I thought frogs only sat on lily pads in illustrations in children's books...

Sunday, August 9

eight and nine

The weekend was pretty busy. Yesterday, at the office, we removed a window and permanently installed an a/c in the reception area--just in time for the heat wave. It gets pretty stuffy in there on the warmer days so it will be nice to have an a/c in there. Of course, no job we do is ever completely done--we still need to paint the plywood we put in the window. Maybe next week...

Last night, we went to a party at Doug's house. It's been a while since he's had a party so this one wasn't to be missed. We got to meet some new people and catch up with with the rest. We all had a lot of fun.

Today, I couldn't wait to put our house a/c on for the first time this summer. I fired it up and it was running for a while, then Brian heard a funny sound when he was downstairs. It was the a/c. We fiddled around with it for a bit, but could not get it running. So, I need to call a repairman in tomorrow. Bad timing for this, that's for sure.

Brian got some shop time in throughout the day. I did some stuff around the house. I also had to work a little, as did Brian.

In the afternoon, Brian and I made sauerkraut for the first time. We made a ton of it (over 10 pounds). I did the slicing and he did the pressing. Hopefully it will turn out. It's surprisingly easy to make. We'll know in 4-6 weeks if it's any good.

After we were done with that, we went on a little motorcycle ride in order to cool off. I didn't get cooled off much as it was apparently almost too hot to ride today. But, it was still fun--we haven't gotten out much this year.

When we got back from riding, we went to the Roxbury Bandshell to check out today's music--Jenny Drummey and the Southside Strays. Brian took some photos for the Do Johnstown! photo stream.

Finally, this evening, I spent some time working in the yard. It was a good way to end the day.

Friday, August 7

the pink panther 2

This movie wasn't all that different from the first one in the series. Not too much I can say about it. Sure, it had a couple of amusing moments, but for the most part wasn't particularly funny. Jake could recite verbatim a bunch of lines from the movie, which tells me that they had way too many commercials on the air since this was his first viewing of it.

Kids will probably like this movie. Adults will want to stay away from it.

Monday, August 3

weddings

We went to our second wedding of the year on Saturday. My cousin got married. The reception was at the Mirage and was very nice.

We have yet another wedding coming up next month. It is interesting to note that we haven't been to many weddings recently. In our younger days, it seemed like we went to them all of the time, then it became one here and there. I realized just this weekend that all three weddings we were invited to this year were second weddings for at least one of the people involved in each and that most people were our age or older. Interesting. I wonder if the next few years will bring more of these events or if this year was just a fluke?

Sunday, August 2

vacation photos

http://www.brianlaw.org/photos/

american gangster

I'm a little behind on my blogging...We watched this film Friday night. It was good. It was based on the real life story of Frank Lucas. Pretty interesting stuff. Plus, my man Denzel Washington played the lead. You're always in for a good film when Denzel stars. If you're into organized crime flicks, you won't want to miss this one.

Friday, July 31

r.i.p. ariel

We finally decided it was time, so Brian took Ariel to the vets this evening to be put to sleep. The poor cat was getting way too skinny. Brian found some canned cat food that she ate for a little while, but she stopped that a week and a half ago so it made the decision pretty easy.

Ariel has been a part of the family since the beginning (13 years). She will be missed.

Thursday, July 30

cleveland, ohio!

We got a lot of strange looks when we told people we were going to Cleveland for vacation. I'm not sure why exactly. We really enjoy vacationing in cities and seeing what they have to offer so that's how Cleveland made the list. And much like every other city in the USA, this one has a lot to offer.

Sunday 7/26
We arrived at our hotel (Hampton Inn downtown) in the early afternoon. The first thing we did after checking in was let Jake go on a shopping spree at the b. a. Sweetie Candy Company. For those of you not in the know, it's only the largest candy store in the USA! Needless to say, it did not take him long to burn through the $20 we gave him to spend there.

After that, we went back to the hotel and got situated and then went on a walking tour of downtown, thanks to this guide. We hit a few of the landmarks, which started an impromptu photography contest between Jake and Brian, and then went to the Winking Lizard Tavern for supper. The Winking Lizard is a sports bar so we had plenty of televisions to watch while eating our supper. By the time dinner was done, we were ready to go back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the evening.

Monday 7/27
Today was spent at Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom. We came back exhausted and sunburned (despite multiple applications of SPF 55). One of the disadvantages of having one kid is that they don't have anyone to play with at activities like these, so Brian took that role upon himself today (and for that I am grateful).

After Geauga Lake, we returned to the hotel and got showered and then went to Flannery's Pub for dinner. On our way back to the hotel, we continued our walking tour of downtown. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing in the hotel again. There's not a whole lot going on at night here--most of the touristy things close at 5:00. Though I have to say, by the time evening rolls around, we're all pretty much content to hang out in the hotel.

Tuesday 7/28
This morning we went to the Cleveland Botanical Garden. It was so beautiful there that even Jake liked it. They had a number of different types of gardens there, my favorite being the water gardens (though the herb garden was pretty nice, too). They also had a butterfly conservatory that was worth seeing. I could have spent half the day there.

In the afternoon, we hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Steamship William G. Mather Museum. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was cool, but it mainly dealt with the founders of rock rather than rock across the board (there was a disappointingly small mention of metal there). The ship was cool, but by this point it was getting pretty hot, so we hoofed it back to the hotel to get ready for our next adventure, which was a trip to see one of Brian's friends who lives in the area. She had us over for a dinner and we hung out and chatted all evening.

Wednesday 7/29
This morning, after Brian took care of some work stuff, we went to one of the Cleveland Harley Davidson dealerships. That afternoon, on the suggestion of Brian's friend, we checked out the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. They had quite a nice selection of antique cars there (some airplanes and motorcycles, too). Then we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around The Cleveland Museum of Art. By this point, we were spent, so we opted to order dinner in. And, we spent the rest of the evening, watching tv, surfing the net, and reading. Our last night of relaxation before heading home.

Thursday 7/30
On our way home today, we stopped at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We figured that we'll probably never be in Ohio again so might as well catch it while we're there. We thought it was pretty nice--probably the nicest of the 3 HOF's we've been to (hockey, rock, football).

So, we're back home now and getting things in order. I should have our pictures up by the weekend.

Monday, July 27

weekend blogger

I noticed that I've only been blogging on the weekends lately, so I thought I'd take a moment to get caught up.

Ariel is still hanging on. She's not eating much, though and is getting really skinny. Brian found a canned food variety that she will eat some of the time, so she's been eating that, at least. She still acts ok, though.

Work at Prime Design Solutions is going well. It's definitely a different environment that I'm used to working in, so I'm still adjusting to that, but I can say that it's the best job I've ever had.

Sadly, I have not been riding the motorcycle much this year. When it's not the weather, it seems that there is always something else going on. On the plus side, I have been doing a lot of gardening. (though never as much as I'd like to!)

I can't believe it is the end of July already. Where is the summer getting to?

Saturday, July 25

american psycho

The premise of this movie sounded promising enough, but the execution (no pun intended) left a little to be desired. It was a story about a yuppie serial killer (that is to say, a serial killer who is a yuppie) named Patrick Bateman. Part of the problem with this movie was that all of the characters were incredibly annoying. The other part was that I just didn't find it interesting. Patrick should take a few tips from Dexter.

Saturday, July 18

vicky cristina barcelona

This was my first Woody Allen movie, believe it or not. The movie was about two women who went to Spain for the summer. Both fall in love with the same guy, an artist played by Javier Bardem, who is hot, hot, hot, in my humble opinion. Brian and I both enjoyed the movie. It was good, light fare for "Movie and a Margarita Night."

t is for trespass

This was another one from Sue Grafton. I haven't read all of her books by any means, but I've read quite a few of them at this point. The good thing is that you don't have to read them in order to be able to follow the plot.

This one was much like all of the others--a good, but not spectacular read. That's the thing about these books--they are all good, but at the same time they aren't stories that stick with you after you've read them.

Saturday, July 11

biker wedding

We went to a biker wedding today. There were real bikers there (unlike the fake bikers we usually hang out with). The sister of one of Brian's high school friends got married. It was pretty cool. The ceremony took place at Lake Rowena and then all of the bikes rode together to the place of the reception. It was fun riding through downtown Ebensburg in a parade of a few dozen bikes--heads definitely were turning.

paul blart: mall cop

I'm thinking about cutting Jake off from picking future movies. From what I read about this film, I didn't think it was going to be any good and it wasn't. It's not like it was completely horrible, it's just that it wasn't even mildly amusing. I'm pretty sure I could write something funnier than it. At any rate, he liked it, but I'm hoping his taste in movies improves soon.

Wednesday, July 8

freedom

As I mentioned in my last post, I quit my job recently. My last day was yesterday. I'm taking the rest of this week off and then starting full time with Prime Design Solutions on Monday. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that.

The next two days, I'm scheduled to go to cub scout day camp with Jake. Brian likes to go, so he did the duties today. This will be my first year for this as Brian always went in the past. I'm sure it will be an interesting experience.

pea farmer


I spent the evening pulling weeds from the garden and removing spent peas plants. In doing so, I picked a whole basket of peas, which can be seen on the ledge in the photo. I'm not sure who is going to eat all of these as I'm just about good on peas at this point. (We have been eating peas multiple times per week for the past few weeks.)

I also picked some garlic that looked ready to go. My grandmother's tip of refrigerating my garlic harvest paid off as I'm still using garlic from last year.

In other news, after a few minor disasters, the pond is fairing well now. The plant life is really taking off this year. We had a few fish mishaps, though. First, all four of the goldfish we bought this year died. And two from last year died (one from some sort of disease and another from a pump mishap). We had some water quality issues that are now under control and may have contributed to the death of the new fish. But, on the bright side, the remaining goldfish have spawned and we have some babies in there now (some as large as an inch). Hopefully these will survive and I won't have to buy any more fish!

I trimmed the front yard hedges over the weekend. I had a little bit of help from Jake, who wanted to use the "chainsaw" (i.e. electric hedge trimmers). But, the novelty of that was short-lived so I had to finish the job myself. Normally I use the manual trimmers, but this year, since they were out, I used the electric ones and finished up quite a bit faster than usual. I think I might be onto something...

Sunday, July 5

w.

This was the second of two consecutive Oliver Stone movies for us. While the casting of the supporting players went from bad (Rice) to good (Rove, Cheney), I thought Josh Brolin's portrayal of Dubya was superb. But, I thought the overall portrayal of Bush was too sympathetic and I was certainly not expecting that from Oliver Stone.

Thursday, July 2

garden progress

I need to get a new picture up of the garden. It is doing really well. We've had a bumper crop of peas this year so they've been on the menu practically every night. All of the other plants have been fairing well in this odd weather we've been having. I guess it must be warming up just enough between the rainy days in order to keep things moving. There are a couple of tiny zucchinis out there that should be ready soon. The tomato plants are growing like weeds and there are a few peppers growing already. I think this year will bring a good harvest.

since last week

We went to Thunder in the Valley a few times. It was cool, as usual. We didn't check out anything in particular--mostly people-watching. We also went on a number of bike rides over the weekend and that was fun. The weather has not been very conducive for bike riding this season so it was nice to get some riding in.

The vet called on Monday. Ariel indeed has cancer. There isn't anything they can do for her so now we're just waiting and watching. She still seems fine, but I'm pretty sure she isn't eating much--she is visibly thinner. The vet put her on steroids in order to reduce the inflammation in her lymph nodes. We'll see what happens. But, it's really just a matter of time.

This next thing didn't happen in the past week, but since I haven't mentioned it, I will now. I quit my job! I'm going to be working for Brian full time starting on the 13th. My last day at work is Tuesday. I can hardly wait!

Saturday, June 27

wall street

This was an oldie. In it was one of Michael Douglas's more memorable characters, Gordon Gekko. I have always been a Michael Douglas fan (though it seems he hasn't been in much lately) and I always hear about this movie when I read about him, so I thought we'd watch it. I think the whole Wall Street thing is pretty interesting. Brian, on the other hand, doesn't care about it at all. Guess which one of us liked the movie and which didnt?

Wednesday, June 24

something new

Last year, I heard about garlic scapes. What are garlic scapes? Why, they are the flowers that would form on the garlic plants, but they are removed (before they flower) so that the bulbs get larger. In previous years, I just pitched them, but I heard they are edible so I tried them in a few recipes this year. For Sunday brunch, I made a garlic scape frittata and it was delicious. Today, I made garlic scape pesto. It was so garlicky, and so good. We'll call this one a winner.

sick kitty

At the end of last week, we noticed that Ariel's eye looked funny. I called the vet and they said to watch it and see if the problem resolved on its own. It did not, so Brian took the cat to see the vet yesterday. We are waiting for the test results, but there's a good chance that it's cancer. They took a sample from her swollen lymph nodes, but were unable to identify what they saw, so they had to send it out. The poor cat has lost a pound since she was there in November. Weighing in at around 10 pounds, that's a pretty significant loss. If you didn't know any better, she seems ok, but we're not holding out too much hope at this point, given the facts.

Friday, June 19

happy hour

On Wednesday, I met up with a couple of friends from work for a happy hour (Working Woman's Wednesday) at The Backdoor Cafe. It was only my second time at that restaurant, but it continues to impress (and I'm not impressed easily). We probably sampled half the items from their appetizers menu--all were great. And the stuff on the happy hour menu was pretty inexpensive. I had such a good time that I'm trying to figure out when I can do this again.

Sunday, June 14

demolition man

Yesterday, with the help of a backhoe, Brian removed the garage from our office property. Here's a before and after photo. Today, he removed the footer from the concrete pad with a borrowed jackhammer. In a couple of weeks, we're going to get a big load of gravel and presto!--we'll have a parking lot for 4 cars.

Saturday, June 13

a night out

Last night we met up with Judy and John at Tulune's Southside Saloon. Coincidentally, the Pens game was on, so we'll call it a bonus (we had this scheduled before we knew there was going to be a game seven). We had a good time drinking, bs'ing, and watching the game.

I have to say I like SSS a whole lot better now that it is non-smoking. Previously, when I'd go there, I'd leave smelling like an ashtray even if no one was smoking.

And, of course, the Pens won, so that made a good night even better.

Thursday, June 11

nin|ja

Last night, Brian and I went to see Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction at the Post-Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown. While seeing NIN for the second time wasn't quite as magical as the first, it was every bit as good. What I had not realized until last night when Trent Reznor mentioned it, this was his final tour. I hope that doesn't turn out to be true. At any rate, they played one of my all-time favorite NIN songs, "The Downward Spiral." (Note: the light show was cooler last night, but this is still a good clip.) It was worth going just to hear/see that.

As for Jane's Addiction, I've never been a big fan of theirs, but they sounded pretty good. Brian has always wanted to see them so now he's fulfilled that wish.

Sunday, June 7

caught up

Everything has been planted. The garden has been weeded and mulched. I returned to cocoa mulch this year, so I'm expecting big things from the garden. I haven't posted a garden picture in quite a while so here goes:

a laid back birthday

My birthday was on Friday. I didn't really want to do anything in particular to celebrate. So, we watched The Wrestler and drank margaritas that night. How is that different from any other Friday or Saturday in our house? Well, it isn't, but still not a bad way to celebrate a birthday. Brian insisted on doing something, though, so I picked out something for him to make me for supper on Saturday, which ended up being one delicious Italian sub.

The weekend, as a whole, was pretty good. I got some yard time. The house is relatively in order. We didn't have much running around to do. I made wine this evening. The worst thing about the weekend is the fact that I have to return to work tomorrow. Other than that, I give it a thumbs up.

Saturday, June 6

the wrestler

This was a great movie. We both really enjoyed it. It was a story about an old professional wrestler, played by Mickey Rourke, who must retire due to health issues. He really should have won an Oscar for his performance, it was that good. I also must mention the 80's metal soundtrack that permeated the film--also great. There's nothing bad I can say about this. Of course, I really like character studies, but I think just about anyone could enjoy this film.

Sunday, May 31

since i last wrote...

Sometime since I last wrote, I got the rest of the veggies in with the exception of the peppers. I planned on planting those this weekend, but the forecast is calling for it to be as low as 37 tonight (depending on your source), so I'm going to leave the peppers in the cold frame for another day. I considered covering the other plants outside, but never got around to it. I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't get too cold tonight.

I read something about using Epsom salts on tomato plants so I tried that this year. I don't know if it made a difference, but it certainly didn't hurt the plants--they look great. I threw about a tablespoon in each hole when I was transplanting. I believe I'm supposed to dissolve some in water and water the plants with it once they start flowering. I need to remember to do that. I was talking to a fellow gardener this afternoon and he mentioned Epsom salts were good for peppers, too. So, I'll be trying that as well. I figure it can't hurt.

the devil wears prada

This movie was ok, but just not my cup of tea. When I watch a comedy, I want to laugh out loud, not think to myself, "my, that was humorous." So, that's about the worst I can say about it. The acting was great. The plot was kind of lame, but comedies aren't exactly known for their riveting plots. I've never actually watched an episode of "Sex and the City," but I get the same vibe from this movie. So if you like that series, you might like this. Otherwise, skip it.

Friday, May 29

my bro

My brother has a quote in the current issue of Business Week. Scroll down to see it.

Monday, May 25

the weekend

It was quite a busy weekend. In addition to the wine party on Friday and going out to eat on Saturday and the other things I have already mentioned on the blog, we have gotten quite a few things accomplished.

Besides the boring housework that is always hanging over my head, of which I will not go into detail, we installed an a/c in the office kitchen. Brian also snapped off the remaining tapcons from the "siding removal project."

I got to ride my motorcycle for the first time this season. I felt a bit rusty, but things went just fine. We just rode around Westmont for a bit. I'll need to make a point to get out a lot between now and the end of June so that I'm ready for Thunder in the Valley.

This morning, Jake and I ran to Toys 'R Us so he could spend one of the gift cards he received for his birthday. He got a new game for his Nintendo DS and was happy the rest of the day. I also had to make a brief stop at the Galleria.

And, the weekend was rife with gardening. That was the best part!

progress

I've been working quite a bit outside the past week. First, I got my tomatoes and pumpkins in the ground. I still have to plant the cukes, zucchini, and peppers. Those are slated for whenever the rain stops. I also got all of the herbs in except the basil.

This weekend, Brian built me this nifty compost bin. It's my birthday present! He reworked some plans I found in the Organic Gardening magazine. So now I have plenty of space to put all of my compostable items.

We made a trip to Westwood Garden Haven and bought flowers. This evening Brian helped me plant them in the shed window boxes, the top of my water cistern, and in my new patio planters. We rearranged the furniture slightly on the patio to accommodate the planters. I think it looks pretty good back there. Too bad we're too busy to do much entertaining this year.

We also bought a couple more fish and plants for the pond. They had tadpoles for sale, too, so we threw two of them in for good measure. My pond is currently full of algae, so we can't actually see anything in the pond, but it should clear up in a week or so. The pond was doing great, but the water level dropped a little due to the lack of rain, so I topped it up with the water from the cistern. I happened to open up the cistern today only to find out that the remaining water in it was full of algae, so I think that I might have introduced the algae to the pond. But we have a UV light running in the pond system, and it kills algae, so nothing to worry about there.

I'm kind of glad it's supposed to rain the next few days--there are a lot of plants outside that need to be watered! Plus, I should really get some stuff done in the house, too. But, I have been enjoying all of the time I've been spending outside this year so far.

silkwood

For whatever reason, I had this movie in my queue. It was a story of a woman (played by Meryl Streep) who worked at a nuclear power plant and who was possibly murdered after investigating some suspicious activities at the plant.

This movie is the perfect example of why I don't normally watch older films. The plot was ok, but it played more like a made-for-tv movie than anything else. And it wasn't exactly riveting. I can't really recommend this movie.

doing johnstown

Yesterday, we went to the Roxbury Bandshell to check out one of the acts from their summer concert series. The band we saw was the Cash Review, a Johnny Cash tribute band. They mostly do songs from the Johnny Cash/June Carter era. While I am a bigger fan of the Johnny Cash solo music, I did think they sounded pretty good. I've been wanting to go to one of these bandshell shows for quite some time now, but we never got around to it until now. Brian wanted to get a photo for the Do Johnstown! flickr photostream, so it was a good excuse for us to finally go. There are a few more bands on their schedule that I'd like to see, so I'm sure this won't be our last trip there this summer.

Sunday, May 24

the allegro

Yesterday, we went to the Allegro in Altoona to celebrate my birthday, my brother's birthday, and my parent's 40th wedding anniversary. We picked up my grandmother on the way and that was the highlight of the trip. We were using my GPS and she just about pissed herself laughing every time the GPS spoke the directions--"the car is telling us where to go!"

Anyway, dinner was pretty good. And, it was a nice evening out.

Saturday, May 23

wine party

Last night, Brian's parents hosted another wine party. This party's theme was "animal" so we all brought bottles of wine having an animal on the label. I thought that was a pretty neat theme. All of the wine was great, as was the food and conversation.

I really need to get with it and host another one of these at our place. Maybe this summer...

do johnstown!

Looking for something to do in the Johnstown area? Look no further. The Do Johnstown! website launched yesterday and is chock full of events and information for the area. Check it out!

Sunday, May 17

lights!

Over the course of the past two days, I put all of the solar lighting out. I also buried all of the cables around the pond area. I still need to verify that all of the lights are in working order.

In other gardening news, my tomato plants have been outside in the cold frames for a few weeks and I haven't killed them yet! I've been bringing them in when it gets below 50 at night and I've been opening the tops of the frames during the warm days. I think the key to my success this year was putting them outside when it was cooler and overcast for a few days.

There is still a lot to do outside, but it seems like I never have the time to do it. At least it's still early in the season.

yes man

In honor of Jake's birthday week, we let him pick the movie for family movie night. His choice was Yes Man. This was a story about a guy who decides to say "yes" to everything for a year. Frankly, I wasn't holding out much hope for the film (for one thing, I'm not a big fan of Jim Carrey), but it turned out to be half-decent. In fact, there were a couple of pretty funny moments. The end of the movie played like an episode of Scrubs, though, complete with acoustic guitar music. Overall, I wouldn't rate it as one of my favorite comedies, but it's probably worth watching if you're looking for some comedic fare.

Friday, May 15

blvd

Judy contacted me the other week and wanted to hook up with us sometime soon, so we settled on the Boulevard Grill for this evening. Dinner was good. Afterward, we came back to the house and hung out in the back yard. Jake wanted to have a fire in the chiminea, so we lit the first one up for the season. Much silly talk ensued, thanks to having a 9 year old in on the conversation. It was a fun evening, but now I'm ready for bed.

Wednesday, May 13

happy birthday to jake!

Today was Jake's birthday. He had a hankering for some Mexican food, so we took him to Rey Azteca for supper. This was Brian's and Jake's first time there. I think they liked it. I thought the food was great, as usual. And, you sure can't beat their prices. I'm hoping this becomes his new birthday tradition.

Happy birthday, Jake!

Sunday, May 10

mother's day

We didn't have any major plans for the day. But, my family decided to take my grandmother and aunt out to Eat 'N Park for supper and we were invited to go along, so we accepted. My brother treated everyone to dinner. That was nice of him!

Other than that, it was business as usual, with one exception. This week is spring cleanup week. This is normally my favorite week of the year (there's nothing like throwing away a bunch of crap, if you ask me). Unfortunately, we didn't really have anything to throw away this year, so we imported some stuff from the office. We had some metal kitchen cabinets, that we knew the "recyclers" would take. We brought one of them home on our first trip and then headed back to the office. By the time we got home, it was gone. We put the second one out and by the time we got back into the house, someone was loading it up in their truck. I suppose we should just recycle this stuff ourselves, but we just don't have the time. At least it's not going to the landfill, though.

weed. weed. weed. plant.

I've been doing a lot of weeding, it seems. Yet, there are still weeds everywhere! How does that happen?

In addition to weeding, I've been doing a little planting. I put some more peas in the garden yesterday and I planted a bunch of carrots. I also planted some thyme between the cracks in my fieldstone path. Hopefully those will crowd out the weeds eventually.

Here's a pic of the freshly mulched pond area, as seen from the side porch:

birthday party

Yesterday afternoon, we had Jake's "family" birthday party. We're doing things a little different this year--no kid party! But, later this month (or once the weather turns nice), he'll have a few of his friends over for a sleepover and some other activities.

All of the grandparents, along with a few other family members, came over for cake and ice cream. Jake could hardly contain himself--he was so excited to open his presents. He sure got a lot of nice stuff, too.

The weather ended up being nicer than forecast, so most people filtered out onto the back patio at one point. Unfortunately, we don't have the patio set up yet, but there was enough stuff set up to accommodate everyone.

As far as birthday parties go, we'll call this one a winner.

Saturday, May 9

serpico

This movie was done before Al Pacino became a caricature of his acting self (way back in the early 1970s). It was quite a good character study. Not a lot of action, but it just wasn't that kind of movie. It told the story of a police officer named Serpico, who blew the whistle on police corruption in the New York city police force. Two thumbs up.

Sunday, May 3

landscaping and more!

Brian and I spent a good amount of time yesterday morning and afternoon mulching the pond area and around the trees. We were hoping to get away with two truckloads, but Brian had to run and get a third one in the afternoon. We also extended the mulch to the other side of the shed, so practically the entire side yard is now under mulch, slightly furthering my goal of not having any grass in the back yard. I did a lot of weeding while we were at it, too. Today, all of my muscles are sore. Strangely, particularly the ones in my hands.

Today, I transplanted my pepper and tomato seedlings into pots. I also planted zucchini and cucumber seeds inside. Transplanting day is always the start of my dilemma--where to put everything. I only have enough room under the lights for the peppers so the tomatoes are currently sitting in the shop. I plan on getting the cold frames out of the shed tomorrow and putting the tomatoes outside during the day. Hopefully I won't kill them this year.

more press

This guy is always in the paper. What's up with that?

Saturday, May 2

walk hard: the dewey cox story

Brian and I watched this last night. The movie was a parody of the excellent Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line. While there were certainly some mildly amusing moments, this movie was definitely less than excellent. I'm not sure that it would even be mildly amusing if you hadn't seen Walk the Line. I'm all for stupid comedies, but this one just wasn't funny enough. As a side note, the movie did seem to employ most of the past and present comedic talent from NBC. In summary, a disappointment.

Tuesday, April 28

slash

Slash's autobiography was replete with sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. So much so that after the first few hundred pages, I was getting more than a little bored with it. But, once we progressed past the GNR days, things got a little more interesting.

My biggest gripe with the book was that I just didn't feel that it was written in his voice. I just could not equate what I was reading to be the voice of Slash. Maybe it was just me. Still, it was interesting to hear his take on the whole Guns 'N Roses thing. Unlike other rock (auto)biographies I have read, I don't think you would find this interesting unless you were a huge fan of the band.

the last temptation of christ

Quite frankly, I don't understand the brouhaha this film generated when it was released. Sure, the film had its moments, but the ending wrapped things up in a christian-like way, I thought. What bothered me more about the film was the fact that they gave Judas, played by Harvey Keitel, red hair. Maybe they thought his name was Judas Isacarrot. But, I digress.

To sum things up, Brian thought this was a brilliant piece of cinema. I thought watching it was like going to church.

Sunday, April 26

spring planting

I spent the past few days prepping the garden and planting my spring crop. I planted cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, spinach, radishes, and peas. The stuff that you can actually see growing is the garlic I planted last fall. That's the nice thing about garlic--you always have some growing early in the season. The garden doesn't look like much at this point, but here's a pic:

afternoon tea

The Portage Area Historical Society, of which my mother is a member, had an afternoon tea today. I guess it was a fundraiser, but I'm not positive. Anyway, my mom was nice enough to buy me a ticket to the event so I went and sat at a table with a bunch of her friends (my mom was busy serving tea and food).

We started with tea and scones and then proceeded to finger sandwiches. Next up was a gigantic platter of cookies. They even passed out baggies so you could take home some cookies. Now that's the way to do it! All in all it was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

amici's

It looks like I'm turning into a weekend blogger. I should remedy this. There's plenty of stuff going on during my weeks, just nothing interesting. But, since it's the weekend...

Brian's parents invited us out to dinner last night to celebrate Brian's dad's retirement. We went to Amici's in Ebensburg. We had never been there before. I thought it was a pretty nice restaurant and the food was great! I had their home made ravioli and they were outstanding. I brought some leftovers home so I can hardly wait for supper tonight.

Saturday, April 18

rizzo's

We were supposed to meet our friends Carol and Bob at Big Dogz for supper this evening, but I received a call from Carol yesterday saying they had to cancel. It seems their first grandchild (a boy!) arrived a little early so they were going to be out of town. Congrats to them!

I haven't been grocery shopping yet this weekend and wasn't really in the mood to cook since I was looking forward to going out to eat, so I suggested that the three of us go out. We went to Rizzo's and used a gift certificate that my parents got us this past Christmas. Dinner was quite good. Brian got their lasagna and Jake and I had their home-made ravioli. Yum.

changeling

Angelina Jolie did a great job with her role in this movie, but that's about the best thing I can say about it. It had a decent enough storyline, but there was just something missing for me. Perhaps it was the ending--the viewer doesn't get much closure. Some, but not enough. Quite frankly, I thought this movie was going to be a lot better than it was. This movie had the same tone of the only other Clint Eastwood-directed move that we've seen, Mystic River (another well-acted movie, but just completely depressing). This makes me think that we should steer clear of Eastwood directed movies in the future.

Friday, April 17

buster: the good dog

I'm not sure what is going on with Buster, but he's been sleeping in the living room for the past few weeks (previously he slept in our bedroom) and he hasn't been hanging out with me in the home office on the days I telecommute. Perhaps we can chalk this up to his "teenage" dog years--time to rebel against the parents. Prior to this, he was at our side 24x7. This was due in part to the fact that he's still considered a puppy (and we didn't want him destroying everything in the house) and in part to his separation anxiety issues. But, now, he's practically independent!

Not only that, but he is down to about 10 minutes of "idiot" time per night (down from about 2 hours). Of course, we make sure he gets plenty of exercise. In fact, I recently bought this nifty contraption just for him:


We've only used it a few times, but it tires him out nicely. Far better than the two mile runs Brian normally takes him on, and in less time as well.

Monday, April 13

flowers

I picked up some flowers at Cambria County's annual plant sale last week and wanted to wait until the really cold weather passed before planting them, which translated into today. I split the flowers between the herb garden, butterfly garden, and pond area. Hopefully the coming weather won't be too cold for them. I'm pretty sure they are hardy stock and will be fine. My mom divided her russian sage plant and gave me some of that, so that went in the pond area, too.

It was almost too cold to go outside this evening, but I toughed it out and was glad I did. I really enjoy working outside and this year I plan to make the most of it.

Sunday, April 12

more planting

This morning, I went downstairs to check on the pepper plants and was pleasantly surprised to see that about half of them have sprouted (I fully expect the rest of them to sprout soon). I turned on the grow lights for them so now they're all set.

This evening, after today's Easter festivities, I planted a bunch of different kinds of tomatoes and some giant pumpkin seeds (provided by Brian's dad).

I also took a look at my planting schedule and found that I'm supposed to plant some stuff outside already. I'm not sure when that is going to happen, but it's good to know that the planting season is now under way.

jaws

Apparently Jake has heard some tall tales about this movie from his friends, so we had to put it on the list for family movie night. He liked it. I thought it held up ok for as old as it was, but what can you expect from a PG rated "horror" flick?

easter

We spent today with Brian's dad, mom, and grandmother. We went to their place for dinner and spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and drinking wine. It was a nice day, but couple the wine drinking with getting up at 5:30 am this morning in order to go to the sunrise service at our church and I'm about ready to zonk out.

Saturday, April 11

you're welcome, moxham

We started our latest project today--removing the god-awful siding from the front and sides of our office building. Why anyone would do that to a brick building is beyond my comprehension and apparently all of our Moxham neighbors' comprehension as well--we've had a number of people ask us when we're going to remove the siding.

We got the one side done today and it looks great. Luckily the people who installed it went into the mortar rather than the bricks so all of the screw holes will be easy to fix. I can hardly take credit for working on this project because I mostly just hauled the stuff away, but I digress. The plan is to finish the remaining two sides the next two weekends, but the weather will have to cooperate in order for us to accomplish that.

Monday, April 6

it's snowing

Can you believe that?

Sunday, April 5

maria full of grace

This movie tells the tale of a young, female Columbian who takes a job as a drug mule in order to raise money for her family. It was quite a good story. So good, in fact, that I hardly noticed the fact that the movie was subtitled. The plot was quite straightforward, so much so that it could have been someone's biography that we were watching.

The overall theme of the movie was a little depressing, but with the open ending you could take the character wherever you like. And, for me, that made the movie end on a positive note.

Thursday, April 2

the science guy

Jake

Jake's science fair was today. His subject was who has more bacteria in their mouths: dogs, cats, or humans. Alice (one of our dogs) won that contest hands down, so keep that in mind the next time you visit. Jake got a really good rating from the judge of the show. I'm not sure if they give out prizes as I did not see any ribbons anywhere, but he definitely deserved the kudos he received.

Wednesday, April 1

peppers

Just a quick post...I planted my pepper seeds on Sunday. This year, I did them two weeks later than I usually do. Typically, the tomatoes and peppers get too large for the grow lights, so that's why I waited this year. I planted green bell, jalapeno, hot wax, and aconcagua.

Sunday, March 29

house project

Now that we have things relatively under control at the office, it's time to start working on the house again. First up is addressing the peeling paint on our side porch. We are in the midst of covering most of it up with vinyl fascia. The rest we will paint once the weather gets warmer. I also want to replace the plywood on the ceiling with vented soffit, but that might have to wait a while. We're only about half way done with this project, but it looks 100% better than it did before we started. We're hoping to wrap it up this week, but it will depend on the weather and Brian's work schedule.

wanted

This movie had some spectacular special effects, but not much substance. The plot was acceptable enough, but the way it was executed just left me feeling indifferent about the whole thing. If you're in the mood for some mindless entertainment, this might fit the bill, but I don't recommend it.

Friday, March 27

dinner with the laws

We went to dinner at Brian's parent's place tonight and had a delicious meal of manicotti, salad, bread, and a chocolatey dessert. We took some homemade wine for the meal and Brian's dad provided some port to go along with the dessert. He generously sent the remainder of the bottle home with us, and I just finished my glass of it right now. We'll call that a good evening.

Sunday, March 22

gone baby gone

I thought this movie was pretty good. It started off straightforward enough, but in the last hour, there were more twists and turns than a James Patterson novel. But, in the end, it was a movie about the moral choices we make and the effect of these choices on others.

free press

Brian was consulted for input in an article that ran in today's business section.

Saturday, March 21

pinewood derby

The Pinewood Derby for Jake's cub scout pack was today. He fared pretty well this year--1st place in his den, which got him into the finals. Unfortunately, competition was stiff and he did not advance to the next Pinewood Derby race. Even so, I think he was happy to have gotten a trophy out of the deal.

the addams family

We watched this for our monthly family movie night last night. Apparently I was the only person in the house to have seen the movie before. While not a masterpiece of cinema, it was better than I remembered. Everyone enjoyed the film, so we'll be putting the sequel on our list for future viewing.

Wednesday, March 18

days like these

Work's been kind of slow lately. Add to that a 68 degree day in March and that equals one afternoon off.

I decided to take today off in order to work outside. The long range forecast isn't showing a better day than this in the near term (it's going to be downright chilly the next few days), so I figured what the heck, might as well take the afternoon off.

But now, that my fun is over, I guess it's time to start tackling my indoor chores.

pond work

Since it was such an unseasonably beautiful day out there, I took this afternoon off in order to do some work on the pond. A couple of days ago I decided to redo the front portion of the pond. I ran out of rocks last year and had to compromise a little. I thought it turned out fine, but the smaller rocks I used kept falling into the pond when certain people weren't careful around it (ahem: neighborhood kids--including Jake--that would be you). Another thing we decided to do was to "bury" the pump hose in the rock wall. This took surprisingly less time than I thought it would. I probably game-planned longer than the task actually took. Lastly, we had a leak on the one side of the stream. Presumably, the ground sunk over the winter and caused the issue. I thought I had it fixed the other day, but it was still leaking so I took another stab at it today. Hopefully this will be it.

All told, I was outside for about 2 hours and the only reason I came in was that I ran out of stuff to do. That's what I call a good afternoon.