Saturday, December 31

2011: the year in review

Favorite movie: Without a doubt, Winter's Bone.

Favorite book: While I really enjoyed The Hunger Games series, the Sookie Stackhouse series has to trump them. I received all of the Sookie Stackhouse books for Christmas last year and read them in succession and then bought the new one when it came out in May.

Favorite music: 2011 was the "Year of the Foo" for me. I can't get enough of that band.

We went to Wildwood, NJ for vacation. While we did not do a lot of motorcycle riding this year, we did take an enjoyable day trip to Kentuck Knob. And, we finally managed to see some live stand-up comedy for the first time.

A few new business ventures were taken on--at the beginning of the summer we bought a rental house and I also launched my drinking/craft website, Everyone Drinks.

We like to know how to do things. This year we added canning to our repertoire.

Oh, and there was an earthquake in Johnstown.

Here's to 2012!

the living dead

I like zombies as much as the next person, but apparently not enough to read a book of short stories on the subject. There were a few good stories in  this book, but the problem was that many of the stories were only loosely related to the topic at hand. I started this book while on vacation in July and did not finish it until last week. Ugh. Of course, I read some other stuff in between. Not recommended.

Thursday, December 29

christmas wrapup

Judy and Dave came over last night for a Christmas visit. This should mark our last Christmas-related activity for the season. Onto New Year's...

We had a nice time sitting around and talking all evening. The dogs even behaved for the most part. Plus, I managed to snag another Foo Fighters CD and a bottle of wine, so we'll call it a winner! With four new Foo CDs, methinks it is time to get the iPod updated.

Well, I guess I have one Christmas related thing left on my to do list--I forgot send Judy's dogs' treats home with her, so I'll be making a stop at her place as early as today.

Monday, December 26

'tis the season

We spent a nice weekend with our families. First up was Christmas Eve. We had dinner at my parent's house (Brian's parents also spent the evening there). Afterward, we all went to the late service at our church, where Jake performed a Christmas song on guitar. He did a great job!

Yesterday, we spent Christmas afternoon at Brian's parents house with his extended family. In the evening, my parents, brother, and his girlfriend stopped over our house for a visit.

I got a lot of nice things such as: clothes, books, kitchen stuff, watch, cds, and pedestals for my washer and dryer that Jake and Brian worked tirelessly on in the weeks leading up to Christmas--that was a nice surprise!

The holidays are all but over, so after all of the food, drinks, and cookies, it's time to get back on the "diet".

Saturday, December 24

parenthood

Jake and I watched this movie last night--Brian was busy in the shop finishing up a Christmas present (for me!), so he got a pass. Since I watch the television show which is based on this movie, it was interesting to watch it (again, for that matter, as I saw the movie when it first came out). While I thought the movie was good, I now understand why the television show is so boring--they basically took a two hour movie and based the first two seasons on it. Talk about slow-moving!

Thursday, December 22

11/22/63

This is the latest Stephen King book (or should I call it a tome?). I rather enjoyed it. When I first heard about it, I was not looking forward to reading it because 1. it is a time travel novel and I'm not normally into science fiction and 2. it is about a historical event (the assassination of President Kennedy) and I'm not all that into history, either. But, as it turns out, it was a pretty good read. It took me a little while to get into it, but at 800+ pages, this was not a surprising development. The time travel stuff was kept to a minimum (that is, it wasn't a book about time travel, it just involved time travel) and it wasn't much of a lesson in history, either (the bulk of the book took place in the late 50s and early 60s but was reminiscent of "It" and "Stand by Me").

Sunday, December 18

in concert

Last night, my parents and brother went to church with us in order to see Jake play guitar. Apparently he's going to be doing this every Saturday, so the novelty will probably wear off at some point. After church, we all came back to the house, had dinner and sat around the table and talked for a bit.

Jake has some additional performances coming up this week. He's in a choral concert at the school on Wednesday and he's also performing at one of the Christmas Eve church services at our church. This will be different than what he has been doing as he's going to be playing the melody while someone else plays chords along with him. At our regular Saturday services, he's one of a group of four guitarists.

limitless

Eh. This movie was ok, but nothing earth-shattering. The three of us watched it last night and I believe we're all of the same opinion. Just in case you haven't heard the premise, the movie is about this pill that can make your brain work at 100%. You would think this would be interesting, but ultimately it wasn't.

Tuesday, December 13

christmastime

While I am not completely done with preparations yet, I feel like I am on top of things this year. I got all of my shopping done early, so that helped immensely. And, the dog treats have been baked and the Christmas cards were made and are in the process of being mailed. Those are my three main things. Everything else is just a bonus.

Sure, the house isn't decorated yet, but I hate decorations so we never do that until around the 15th. So, technically, I'm still on schedule. And, I still need to wrap gifts and bake cookies. I normally like to wrap all of the gifts at the same time, but I had to wrap my sister-in-law's crew's gifts last week because my in-laws were going there for a visit and they were taking the presents for me. I didn't have time to wrap the other gifts, so those are still on my to do list.

As for baking, I'm going to bake even less this year than usual because Brian rarely eats things like cookies and I have cut back on them myself. And we're not celebrating Christmas here, so we're not likely to see a bunch of cookie-eating people at our house over the holiday. Still, I feel the need to make something, so I will bake a couple of batches of cookies next weekend. And, Christmas gives me a good reason to make truffles--there's no other time of year I can justify the calories.

Sunday, December 11

bridesmaids

It felt like this movie was a female version of The Hangover. That said, it was pretty funny, though I was expecting more. While there were a number of funny scenes in the movie, it didn't have any "laugh till you cry" moments. Some of the scenes were a little long. I think if the movie would have been slightly shorter, it would have been better. But, still, it was worth watching.

Sunday, December 4

performance

Jake started playing guitar at our church's Saturday evening service. He is playing with a couple other guitarists and his first performance was last Saturday.

Of course, all of the grandparents want to see him play, so my in-laws (and niece) came to yesterday's service (my parents will be attending a service later this month). Jake is doing a great job and it's good experience for him to play in front of people.

Church is at a kind of inconvenient time 5:30 (it's too early to eat beforehand and too late to eat after), but I threw a lasagna in the oven before we left and we all had dinner at our house after the service. Maybe it's just the former Catholic in me, but I wish the service was at 4 or 4:30. That would be perfect.

Wednesday, November 30

mockingjay

This was the third and final installment in the Hunger Games series. I think I liked this one better than the second, but the first was still my favorite. I'm still stoked for the movie next spring. It will be interesting to see how they translate the books to film.

Sunday, November 27

beetlejuice

Another blast from the past. This movie was enjoyable years later thanks to Tim Burton. While it was not full of laughs, it had enough of them to keep Jake interested. Plus the f-bomb was dropped at least once--you don't see that every day in a PG movie.

Friday, November 25

thanksgiving 2011

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year. My parents, brother, grandmother, and great-aunt shared the day with us.

Not to brag, but I really have this holiday cooking thing down to a science. I did have some help with the food--my mom brought cranberry sauce, my grandmother brought the pumpkin pies, and my aunt brought a jello salad. I started off on the right foot by taking Wednesday off of work in order to prepare some of the dishes ahead of time. Most of the side dishes I made were oven-based, so it made it easy to have all of the dishes ready at the same time--as soon as the turkey was done, I was able to start baking the side dishes.

It was a nice day all around. After dinner, everyone sat around the dinner table and talked. Towards the end of the afternoon, we had dessert, and that concluded the festivities.

Here are the new recipes I tried this year (hint--all of them are keepers):

Green Beans Amandine
Roasted Squash with Butter and Sage
Sweet Potato-Pecan Casserole
Basic Bread Stuffing
Parker House Rolls
Roasted Turkey with Rosemary-Garlic Butter Rub and Pan Gravy

Good stuff!

Saturday, November 19

watching too much tv

There is so much good television to watch, but not so much on network tv, unfortunately. Showtime keeps me busy with Dexter, Weeds, and Californication. HBO has True Blood. We don't have either channel, so thank goodness for Netflix. We just finished watching season 4 of Californication last night. The dialog on it is so funny--that show never disappoints.

I kept hearing great things about Breaking Bad (on AMC), so we rented the first three seasons around the beginning of the year. Season four just finished up in October. There is only one season left--I can't imagine how they are going to wrap the show up, but I know it will be interesting. We'll see how things pan out, but I think it could be one of my all-time favorite shows. Another AMC show that I enjoy is The Walking Dead. Last season, I thought it was good. Zombies are definitely interesting, but there wasn't much else going on. Interestingly, while many people are complaining about this season (not enough zombies, too much drama), I absolutely love it.

As for network tv, there are a few good shows on. There are some other ones I watch, too. Tuesday nights, I watch Parenthood. This show kind of sucks, but it stars Peter Krause (Nate from the amazing Six Feet Under) and I can't stop watching it due to him. Brian refers to the show as a "steaming pile of Parenthood". He's got a point. Wednesday nights used to be my favorite, but now I only watch The Middle and Modern Family. I used to like it when Cougar Town was on, but they are moving that to Tuesdays as a mid-season replacement for Dancing with the Stars. I do love Modern Family, though. It's my current favorite show on network televsion. For years, NBC had a strong Thursday night lineup, but no more. I only watch The Office now. It's still funny, but not as compelling to watch now that Steve Carell is gone.

The new show Up All Night looked funny in the previews, but was rather disappointing. I'd watch it if it wasn't up against The Middle, but The Middle is definitely a better show. I've also caught a few episodes of Happy Endings. That show has some promise, but I'm going to wait and see where it goes before I commit myself. I watched a few episodes of Suburgatory (mostly since it's on between The Middle and Modern Family), but I just can't get into it. NBC has been airing extra episodes of Up All Night in the same time slot, and that's a better choice if I'm looking for something to watch.

Tuesday, November 15

catching fire

This was the second book in the Hunger Games series. Again, very good. I just found out recently that they are making a Hunger Games movie--it'll be out next spring. Jake and I can't wait! Next up, the third and last book in the series. Unfortunately, Jake is only half way through it, but I think I might steal it from him. I need to wrap this series up as I just got the new Stephen King book in the mail today.

Saturday, November 12

the hunger games

Jake was going on and on about this series of books, so I decided to give them a try. I finished the first one the other day. I have to say, it was quite good. I found myself reading when I was supposed to be doing housework, so that's how you know it was good (not that I wouldn't rather be reading than doing work, but stuff needs to get done, you know?).

The story was about a future version of the United States which is broken up in to 12 districts. On a yearly basis, the government picks two teenagers from each district who must fight to the death (until one person is left) in a televised battle. Pretty interesting.

The only negative thing I have to say is that the book is definitely written at a level for kids--as opposed to something like the Harry Potter books, which are directed at kids, but not necessarily written at a lower reading level. Nevertheless, I'm onto the second book in the series...

Monday, November 7

biutiful

Oops. I ordered two depressing movies in a row. I didn't mean to do it--I forgot to update my Netflix queue. Anyway, this movie was much sadder than Rabbit Hole. But, it starred the handsome Javier Bardem. And he was speaking Spanish the whole time. +2.

The move was directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, who also directed such films as 21 Grams and Babel. If you've seen either, you can guess the vibe of this one, too: depressing.

I thought it was pretty good. Brian complained about it due to the subject matter. In protest, he fell asleep on the couch during the last half hour or so of the movie. His loss.

Saturday, November 5

lizzy's day out

We got a new employee at Prime Design Solutions recently. She's into dogs, so I thought I'd take Lizzy in to meet her. I didn't want to take her in for a full day because I actually have work that needs to be done, so when I picked Jake up yesterday, I brought Alice home and took Lizzy back to the office with us. She's been to the office before so I pretty much knew what to expect--she was mooching scratches from the employees all afternoon. While she would not be a great dog to take to the office every day, she's not too bad on occasion. I'm sure this made her day--goodness knows, she likes going places.

Sunday, October 30

arachnophobia

I know I've been dogging on the movies from the past, but this one was actually pretty good. It was surprisingly uncheesy given he subject matter. It was a good way to cap off Halloween Movie Month.

Saturday, October 29

rabbit hole

I like a good, depressing movie just so long as there's a spark of hope at the end. This one fit the bill. Brian does not like depressing movies at all--at least not ones he can relate to.

This movie told the story of a couple's relationship in the aftermath of their young son's accidental death. It starred Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. Both were excellent in their roles. Nicole Kidman has been in some pretty bad movies recently, so it was nice to see her in a good one for a change. I'm only surprised that this movie did not make more waves at the box office.

While this film was an honest portrayal of the couple's grief, there were a couple of surprisingly funny scenes that did not take away from the message of the film at all. Recommended--except for Brian (who, incidentally, is still complaining about having to watch this movie).

Tuesday, October 25

p90=results

I'm only a few weeks into the P90 exercise routine, but already, I'm seeing results. While I haven't lost any weight per se, I'm definitely more toned than I was when I started. And, I'm only 25 days in, so I have to think things will only improve from here.

I really like the weight training days--I will definitely base future workouts on it. I absolutely loathe the aerobic days--I will definitely trade those in for the treadmill after I complete the 90 days.

I'm happy to have found an exercise routine that works and that I don't mind doing (well, not too much, anyway).

Sunday, October 23

paranormal activity 2

Much like the first movie in this series, I didn't think I was going to like this one, but I did. Unlike Poltergeist, which we watched a few weeks ago, this one was actually kind of creepy. Poltergeist was just too over the top to be believable, but this movie, you could actually see happening--not really because I don't believe in this crap, but on the other hand...

I liked how they tied the two movies together--that was pretty clever. I'll definitely be seeing Paranormal Activity 3.

Friday, October 21

foo fighters

Somehow the Foo Fighters have become my favorite band. I mean, I've always liked them, but never enough to buy their albums. A couple of years ago I finally picked up their greatest hits album, which I liked well enough.

A little while back, David Grohl formed Them Crooked Vultures with another of my faves, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, (and don't forget John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin). I really liked this band. It was kind of like QOTSA, but a little different. The next thing you know, the Foo Fighters released another album. One of the songs I kept hearing on the radio was reminiscent of Them Crooked Vultures, so I was into it. Then I heard another, and another, and I liked them all. So, I picked up the album and have been listening to it nonstop ever since.

The funny thing is whenever I hear old Foo Fighters songs on the radio, I like them even more than I did before. So, I'll be purchasing all of those albums, too. I suppose this is a good thing because it's slim pickings these days for good rock music.

I only regret that we didn't go see them in Pittsburgh last month. But, surely that won't be our last opportunity to see the band.

Monday, October 17

the end

Of gardening season, that is. I removed the remaining plants from the garden this evening. I have to say, this is one of my least favorite days each year. But, it had to be done. I need to get the garlic planted within the next week (hopefully tomorrow), thus the urgency--the weather isn't exactly going to be improving from this point forward.

Overall this was a good gardening year. I was hoping for more tomatoes, but I think that's just because I started canning this year. Next year I will plant more so that I can preserve even more. I'm going to simplify things next year by eliminating some items and planting more of other items. My ultimate goal is to preserve enough food to get us through winter, so I need to concentrate on the things we eat the most and that are easiest to preserve.

Sunday, October 16

two nights in a row

Brian and I went out again last night--this must be some kind of record. We attended a wedding celebration for a couple we are friends with. They were married last month in the Caribbean. We hung out with another couple we know and had a great time. There were appetizers, desserts, drinks and an acoustic band to be had. The event took place at the Boulevard Warehouse, which was cool. Another great evening!

Saturday, October 15

ron white

Brian and I went to see comedian Ron White, who played at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena last night. His set was excellent and the opening comedian was pretty funny, too. This wasn't a rock show--as soon as the opening act was done, Ron started. His act was around an hour and 15 minutes--not very long--but every minute was packed with laughs.

My grandmother watched Jake while we were on our "date". Since we got out of the show earlier than anticipated (around 9:10pm), we decided to stop at the Alibi for a drink before picking up Jake.

I like the fact that the War Memorial has been bringing in some quality acts. That place sat stagnant for so long. The new management is really doing a great job. Jake and Brian are going to see Judas Priest next month. I opted out of that one because I'm not that much of a fan and it's not like the tickets were cheap. But two cool events in town in two months is pretty good.

But, I digress. Two thumbs up for a great evening!

Tuesday, October 11

motorcycles

It was a beautiful weekend so we took a spin on the bikes on Sunday afternoon. What a great day for a ride. Unfortunately, that may very well have been our last ride of the year and we didn't do much riding to begin with this year.

Besides the either too hot or too wet weather, we lost a month to buying our rental property (I'm not complaining, I'm just saying).

At any rate, winter is officially on its way.

Sunday, October 9

the rite

This movie was more suspenseful than horror, which is fine with me (because today's horror movies are usually a gorefest, of which I'm not a particular fan). This movie was ok--a decent movie for the month of Halloween. It was PG-13 so we let Jake watch it. I think he had his blanket over his head for half of it, but it really wasn't that scary. While the movie was about exorcisms, it was nothing like "The Exorcist" so you'll want to make sure you don't have that mindset going into this movie or you're not going to enjoy it at all.

Friday, October 7

p90

I'm trying a new exercise routine called the P90. It's a routine developed by the same guy who did P90X, which is popular right now. I have no desire to be in P90X shape, so I'm doing the P90, which is easier (for the record, Brian's been doing P90X off and on).

Anyway, I've completed my first week and don't mind the routine. It's just difficult trying to fit it in as it's 6 days a week for 90 days. My ultimate goal is to get into some sort of shape doing this and then go back to my usual routine of weights and treadmill. I always lapse in exercising over the summer (why exercise when you can be outside gardening?) so I'm using this to kick-start my way back into shape.

Sunday, October 2

poltergeist

I thought this would be a fun movie to kick off the month of Halloween with. Jake liked it, but I just don't think some old movies hold up over time, this being one of them. It was definitely dated. Still, it was pretty mild for a "horror" flick, so it was good for Jake. He's going to totally freak out when we watch "The Rite" next weekend.

Saturday, October 1

kick buttowski

Today was quite productive. Not only was it laundry day, wherein I did six loads of laundry (and put away the two loads I did last night), I also took some time to clean out my email inbox and get caught up on some accounting-type things for Everyone Drinks.

I also vacuumed the house and did some shopping online (both general and Christmas). I managed to put a good dent in my Christmas shopping list, but I still have many more things to buy. Everyone is so hard to buy for anymore--it's tough coming up with something interesting year after year.

I also cooked three meals today (while I cook every day, I rarely make more than two meals in one day). Jake had a friend over last night, so I made waffles for breakfast (from scratch, of course, otherwise it wouldn't count as cooking). Next up was lunch. I have a bunch of winter squash from the CSA. I'm not a big fan of winter squash so I've been looking for interesting ways to prepare them. I found this squash soup recipe and it looked pretty good, so I made it for lunch (minus the cheese croutons. I wish I would've made those, but, alas, I had no bread on hand). Anyway, for soup made out of squash, it was pretty good. I'll definitely be making that again some day. For supper, Jake and I whipped up some Rigatoni with Spicy Italian Salami, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes, Olives and Capers. Delicious! I think we made a new record today for how many times a dishwasher can be run in a single day.

Today, I was motivated by the fact that I need to do some Prime Design Solutions work tomorrow. I wanted to clear my schedule so that I didn't have a bunch of things hanging over my head. Mission accomplished. I even managed to sneak in a nap, so not all was lost.

Oh, and I started this morning with a new exercise program. More on that in a later post.

Friday, September 30

pond lady

Last weekend I was doing some yard work when I saw our neighbor walking down the street with a friend and their respective dogs. We briefly exchanged pleasantries and they continued to walk down the street. Once they got a few steps away from the house, I heard the friend say the phrase "pond lady". He was obviously talking about me because I'm the only "lady" in the neighborhood with a pond in her yard. I guess I've been called worse. Though it is interesting that we (Brian and I) used to call another neighbor "the crazy gardener". What goes around comes around.

Monday, September 26

mother earth news fair

Brian, Jacob, and I went to the Mother Earth News Fair on Saturday. It took place at Seven Springs. We were hoping to hit up some of the seminars they had going on, but the one we wanted to attend the most was jam-packed, so we opted out. There were quite a lot of vendor booths to visit, so we did that instead. I was hoping some of the booths would have the info I was after, but they did not. I guess we shouldn't have been so quick to dismiss the seminars. Though, they did have a nice bookstore set up inside and there were animals on display outside (including alpacas!), so that was all good.

Just as we were about to leave, Jake got caught up in some kids' activity (against his will). Let's just say that 350 did not help further their cause on Saturday.

Overall, it was worth attending, but I probably won't go back for a few years (maybe when we're closer to the goal of building our new house).

Wednesday, September 21

neglect

I've been neglecting the blog a little lately. I've been watching season 5 of Dexter, so I don't have movies to force me to blog. That will be remedied soon enough. Maybe I'll even read a book (if I can ever finish this book of zombie short stories I started reading on vacation).

Gardening note: I decided to remove the herb garden as it always turns into a mass of weeds by the end of the summer. I try to keep up with it, but there's only so much time to do weeding tasks. So, it's on its way out. I'm just going to plant grass in that area. I'll still grow some herbs, but they'll be in pots. There are so many things growing out there that I hardly ever use, so it doesn't seem worth the effort.

There are still some things growing in the garden, but the tomatoes have been removed. September has been a bit rainy so I haven't had a lot of time to work outside. Plus, it gets dark at 7:30, so that cuts into my gardening time even more.

The good news is that soon I will have time to do some things in the house. I need to beef up my Everyone Drinks inventory as well as work on some home-improvement type things. I guess that's one good thing about fall/winter.

Monday, September 12

hmm

Nothing much going on here. I'm just trying to use up all of the daylight hours before they are gone. We spent all of Saturday at our rental property, wrapping up some projects that needed to be completed before winter. That was an exhausting day. I'm not used to doing anything but sitting on my butt for 8 hours. But, at least everything has been completed and we don't have any work to do there until next year (emergencies excepted).

I had to remove the tomatoes from the garden as they were spent. I did plant a few things for fall, but it's starting to look a little barren out there. I spent this evening working on the pond. The pond pump quit working a while ago. I replaced it, but didn't manage to bury the new piping until this evening. But, it's all good to go now.

Sunday, September 4

shutter island

It has been a while since we've watched a really good movie. I thought this one was going to be one, but it wasn't. Don't get me wrong, the movie was ok, but I was expecting a little more from Scorsese. The movie had a crazy twist at the end, which was good. But, clocking in at 2 hours and 18 minutes, it was a little long (I found myself glancing at my watch several times in the first hour). Overall, worth watching, but not quite what I expected.

Saturday, September 3

behold!

The world's most expen- sive fruit! Consid- ering the fact that I pur- chased three fruit trees (apple, peach, and cherries) and then some fruit sox to keep the bugs away, I didn't get much of a harvest for my money. Note: the entire harvest is shown in the photo.

I'm blaming it on the birds--I don't know what else would have done such a thing. All of the trees had fruit on them at the beginning of the season. It wasn't long after I put the fruit sox on the apples and peaches that the fruit disappeared. So, I guess I'll be spending even more money next year on bird netting.

I will say, that the peach was the most delicious I have ever eaten. Probably not worth the money, though.

Monday, August 29

red

This was a typical action/comedy type film. It had a couple of laughs; the plot was ok. Casting Helen Mirren as a hit-woman was an inspired choice, though. I approve.

Sunday, August 28

catching up

I tried planting a couple more things in my "fall" garden last week: carrots, spinach, peas, and more radishes. Of course, we got a couple of inches of rain right after I planted the seeds, so who knows if they will sprout? I hope some of what I planted works out--it would be nice to have a few veggies in my fall arsenal.

Yesterday morning, we went to the range to target practice and in the afternoon, we took a motorcycle ride to the Flight 93 Memorial. It was a lot different than the last time we were there (quite a while ago), but I thought it was going to be further along for the 10 year anniversary. The next phase isn't going to be complete until 2014, which will pretty much wrap things up. I guess we'll be going back then.

This afternoon, we went to Yellow Creek State Park for a wind and solar power class. It was pretty interesting. They have both wind and solar power set up at the park and went over the pros and cons of each. If we build a house in the future, as we are hoping to, we'd like to implement some green technologies in order to reduce our dependence on "the grid".

Tomorrow is back to school for Jake and we already have a packed fall schedule. I'm almost looking forward to winter so I can relax for a couple of months. Yeah, right.

Wednesday, August 24

infrequent occurrences

So, the earthquake yesterday was pretty exciting. Who would have ever thought we'd have an earthquake in Pennsylvania?

I was sitting at my desk and heard Brian get up and walk down the hall. My first thought was that he was walking rather heavily to be shaking the walls like that; my second thought was that he was doing something in the basement that rattled the walls; my third thought was that someone hit our building with their car. I didn't have a chance for any further thoughts as one of our employees exclaimed that there had been an earthquake. Crazy! Hopefully that will be the first and last of that nonsense.

Yesterday was exciting for other reasons, too. I actually left the office at lunch and went out with Judy. She was in the area around lunchtime and invited me to the Village Street Cafe, which happens to be one of my favorite places to eat, so how could I say no?

Sunday, August 21

the mechanic

This movie was ok for what it was--full on action--but certainly not the best of the genre. Still, I liked it better than last weekend's movie, The Fighter.

Wednesday, August 17

kentuck knob

Ever since we visited Fallingwater a few years ago, I've been wanting to see Kentuck Knob (not to mention a number of other Frank Lloyd Wright creations).

I actually liked this place better than Fallingwater, if you can believe that. I felt it was more practical in nature. Plus, it was very well kept. Apparently the owner of the house still entertains there in the summer.

We couldn't have asked for a better day to visit. We both took the day off and went there on our bikes--what a nice trip it was! Perfect weather and motorcycle roads. We stopped for some pizza when we got back to Johnstown. Who could ask for anything more?

Sunday, August 14

the fighter

I hate it when I rent a movie that was supposed to be good but it bores me to tears. This was one of those movies. It did not help that all of the characters--except for two--were completely unlikeable. I will say that the boxing scenes were kind of good (very realistic), but that's about it. I guess I should have read Roger Ebert's review before adding this to my queue. That about sums it up.

Friday, August 12

after dark

It's already starting to get dark before I'd like it to. I'm able to garden until about 8:30pm at this point, but before you know it, it'll be dark at 7pm and I will no longer get outside during the week, regardless of how nice it is outside. I was reminded of this fact this evening when I was harvesting potatoes from the garden--the garden is getting a bit thin. In a few weeks, there won't be much left growing. On the plus side, at least I'll accomplish some things in the house--I have a hard time doing all there is to do whenever I'd rather be outside gardening. I could almost be happy with the crappy weather we put up with around here if it didn't get dark until after 8pm every day.

Sunday, August 7

dodging bullets

As if I needed a reason to want to expand my garden, put up my own food, and get some livestock, too, our personal food supply has been involved in two recalls this year. And, the year's not over yet.

Since we have a Giant Eagle Advantage card and they track all of our purchases (kind of like a "Grocery Big Brother"), we were contacted directly both times. The first one occurred in the spring and was related to salmonella-tainted cucumbers. However, we had already consumed the cucumbers a few weeks prior to the call, so there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it. Obviously we did not contract salmonella (or you would have heard about it here), so I guess you could call it a false alarm.

The second one occurred this week. Again, Giant Eagle contacted us about salmonella-tainted ground turkey. We consumed the turkey a month or two ago with no ill effects, so, again, no action is required on our part. I've always operated under the assumption that all turkey and chicken products contain salmonella, so I'm not sure how all of these people are getting sick from this. I mean, unless I'm missing something, proper food handling and preparation should prevent any illness from occurring when consuming poultry products. Still, it is a shame that we have to be concerned with the safety of our food supply.

Saturday, August 6

crocodile dundee

It's strange how the movies I enjoyed while growing up aren't quite as entertaining 20+ years later. Case in point: Crocodile Dundee. I remember liking this well enough when I was younger, but I didn't find it all that entertaining last night. But, seeing as how we're all caught up on watching recent "family" movies, I guess we'll be stuck on the past until Jake is old enough to start watching the types of movies we usually watch (that is to say R-rated).

Thursday, August 4

fall garden

After removing some spent plants, I ended up having a large empty space in the garden. So, I dug through my seeds to find out what I could plant for fall. I've tried planting seeds for fall before, but have only had luck with broccoli rabe. But, since I had the opportunity to try again this year, I went for it. So, in went the broccoli rabe, lettuce, radishes, and beets.

The soil got a fresh layer of compost, so if that doesn't help, I don't know what will. I noticed that the radish seeds were sprouting already. They sprouted in the past, but were rather pithy. We'll see how it goes this year.

Sunday, July 31

shoot

Because Brian's "so caught up in [me]," he bought me a .38 special as my anniversary present this year, which marked 15 years. Coincidentally, we joined the Portage Revolver and Pistol Club at the beginning of the year. We have a few other guns that we haven't shot in a while and wanted to do some target practice. My Dad joined the club as well because he bought a replica muzzleloader this year and needed a place to shoot it.

In addition to the "club" location, they also have a location out in the middle of nowhere in Portage. That is where we went yesterday to shoot. This was our first time out and it was pretty fun. We even let Jake shoot some of the smaller guns. We're hoping to go back a few more times before the weather turns cold.

Friday, July 29

my melons

A few years ago, I tried growing water-melons from some plants that I bought at a local nursery. I believe I got one watermelon--approximately the size of a quarter--for my efforts. Not all that refreshing, really. But, a friend and fellow gardener introduced me to the "Sugar Baby" watermelon. Since I like to try something new every year, I decided to try it this year. I was pleasantly surprised to see some watermelons forming. They must really like heat and humidity because they really started to grow during the recent heat wave. I don't want to wish away the summer or anything, but I am looking forward to trying these watermelons next month.

Saturday, July 23

cocktail party

Last night, we hosted our first cocktail party. It was a lot of fun. We had a handful of friends over for drinks and appetizers. I made way too much food (note to self: make less next time), but I tend to do that (I've never been accused of sending anyone away hungry). It was nice getting to talk to some people I don't get to see all that often. Best of all, everyone seemed to have a good time, so I'll call this party a success.

Wednesday, July 20

nothing to report

But, I'm going to do a quick report anyway. Since we got back from vacation, I haven't had anything pressing to do, though there's always something to do. I did some weeding outside. I can't say I finished because that work is never done until winter, though things are looking pretty good. We did a bunch of canning/preserving over the weekend (blueberry jam, pickles, and pickled cherries) despite my proclamations that I don't want to can more that one thing a weekend. I also picked the rest of the garlic and made some onion braids. I had some smaller onions, too, and I put those on the storage rack Brian made me at the beginning of the season.

Work has been going ok, too. Though, since we hired the new sales guy, all I have been doing is writing proposals and this week was no different. But, this is a good thing, though I'm a little concerned that a bunch of projects are going to hit at once, but these are good problems to have.

All in all, things have been going great and the weekend is shaping up to be a good one, too.

Thursday, July 14

wildwood crest, nj

We went to the Jersey Shore for our 2011 vacation. We let Jake take a friend this year so the boys had a great time swimming and otherwise. For the most part, we stuck to the beach and the pool, but we did do a couple of extra things yesterday (our last full day of vacation). In the morning we went to the boardwalk wherein we did a little shopping; the kids played some video games; and we visited the Wildwood Insectarium, which was pretty cool. Later that afternoon, we went to the Cape May Winery. Their wines were pretty good--we brought home two bottles.

Brian and I got some well-deserved R&R. We got in a lot of reading and relaxation. I busted my ass at work and the house the weeks prior to our vacation so that I wouldn't have a bunch of stuff hanging over my head while we were away and that definitely paid off.

Wednesday, July 13

cross

It's getting hard to keep track of all of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels. One thing is for sure--I always enjoy reading them and this one was no different. At this point, I'm pretty sure that I've not read these books in any kind of order, but it doesn't seem to matter too much.

I do find that I enjoy Patterson much more if I don't read two of his novels in a row, so I'm going to keep to that schedule and read a few other things before tackling another one of his books.

Tuesday, July 12

everyone drinks

Well, my website, Everyone Drinks, finally launched at the end of June. I was holding off on the official announcement because there were still a few things that needed to be done to the website. All of the major stuff is done, but there are still a few things remaining--I'll get to them someday. At any rate, the site is up and running. Now, to start my marketing campaign...

Monday, July 11

law abiding citizen

We watched this movie over the weekend. If you are able to suspend disbelief at all the numerous improbable plot turns, it was kind of interesting. But, overall, not a great movie.

Saturday, July 9

dead reckoning

This was the latest book from Charlaine Harris, whose books inspired HBO's True Blood series. On one hand, I wasn't as into this book as some of her others. On the other hand, I tore through it pretty quickly. It did serve as a warm-up for season 3 of the series, which came out on DVD recently and will be topping my Netflix queue shortly.

Wednesday, July 6

canning










So, I got canning equipment for Mother's Day and my birthday (including a fancy-ass pressure canner). Now we are canning. It's something I've been wanting to do for a while (I mean, my freezer only holds so much stuff).

Despite the fact that I'm a hypochondriac and fear that I will contract botulism each time I eat one of our canned goods, we have been soldiering on with this project. We've been trying to can something every week (I say "we" because Brian is on board with this project--and we even got Jake into the mix last weekend). We are running out of ideas until tomatoes come into season (soon enough), so we might not be able to keep up with our previously torrid pace. So far we've done two types of strawberry jam and two types of mustard. I can't wait to start canning tomatoes, salsa, and tomato sauce! We'll probably be doing pickles next but that might have to wait another week or so as I don't have enough cucumbers yet. Anyway, I definitely like learning new things and this has been a lot of fun so far.

Monday, July 4

blue valentine

I heard a lot of good things about this movie, so I was surprised to find that I did not like it as much as I expected to. Sure, the movie was depressing, but that much I knew going in. The performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams were great. But, it was just missing something--and I don't know quite what. Brian did not like it at all. That, I would have guessed.

Thursday, June 30

garlic braids

I've been wanting to try my hand at braiding garlic for some time now. I finally got around to doing that tonight. It was pretty easy and looks cool so I think I'm going to do that with all of the garlic from my garden (and the onions, too).

My garden is doing pretty well this year. The potato plants look better than they ever have in past years. I'm hoping that means I'm going to get a good harvest. I'm trying a few new things this year, watermelon being one of them. I have a couple of tiny watermelons growing. I hope they turn into something.

The only negatives to note are the eggplant and carrots. Something is eating the eggplant leaves--I do not think the plants are going to survive. As for the carrots, every year I have to plant carrots twice. They never seem to come up the first time. This year, I got them in the ground late. By the time I decided that the seeds were not going to sprout, it was too late to reseed. I'm going to be disappointed in the fall--picking carrots is one of the fun things about gardening. I guess there are a couple of them growing out there, but it's not going to be the same as picking 10 pounds of carrots.

The cucumbers are doing especially well, too. I think we're going to have a bumper crop this year. Coincidentally, Brian and I have started canning this summer, so pickles are on the upcoming schedule. I'll have more on canning in a future blog post...

Sunday, June 26

salt

We drank Margaritas while watching Salt, coincidentally enough. I've come to the conclusion that I'm not a fan of Angelina Jolie action movies. This movie wasn't as bad as Wanted, but I could have thought of a better way to spend 90+ minutes.

drizzle in the valley

The weather was not ideal for this year's Thunder in the Valley, but we managed to go downtown a couple of times (albeit without the bikes). Thursday night, we caught half of a set from the Eric Tessmer Band. I could have listened to them all night. The band was great, but the guitarist was phenomenal.

We took Friday off, as is our custom and we went downtown in the afternoon and walked around for a bit. Saturday, having seen all there was to see, we simply went for a ride on our bikes. Next year, I think we need to branch out and check out Windber Rumbles.

Friday, June 24

poor alice

Alice had to have some lumps removed (5 to be exact). Poor dog. She's doing well. Though, she's not allowed to go on walks or anything for two weeks.

Prior to her surgery, the vet did some routine bloodwork. Everything was good except her triglycerides. They were 1,500. They're supposed to be in the 70-100 range. So, I guess you could say they are a little elevated. Sigh. The first thing we need to do is put her on low fat dog food. Of course the prescription stuff from the vet has the lowest fat in it, so I'm going to buy a bag of that to start. I'm hoping I can find something at Petco that is comparable. Beyond that, I'm not sure what can be done. I'm assuming there's probably a pill for this, but it's not like she needs to be on any more pills.

While she was out, the vet also cleaned her teeth. I noticed that she cut her toenails too (that one was a freebie). I think this particular visit may have wrapped up the financing for the Law wing of Richland Veterinary Hospital.

Wednesday, June 22

fushing feefs

So, I was all excited the other week because my fruit trees were bearing fruit. I went to the trouble of ordering nylon footies to put on each piece of fruit so that they would not get eaten by bugs. One day recently, I noticed one of the nylon footies in the driveway. I assumed it must have blown off the tree. Another day, I noticed one in the yard. By this point I was pretty curious, so I took a look at the trees to find that almost all of the fruit is GONE. There's maybe one peach and one apple left. I have to assume the birds stole all of my fruit, but the jury is still out on that one. My neighbor informed me that a gang of chipmunks has been hanging around my garden during the day, so they are suspects as well.

Sunday, June 19

predator

This was a novel by Patricia Cornwell. I've read some of her stuff in the past and it was ok, but I just could not get into this book. I was trying to slog through it because I got the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel for Mother's Day and was anxious to start reading it. Still, it took me over a month to read. But, I finally finished it yesterday. By the time I got to the end, I didn't even know what was going on. I'm sure I'm not going to have any of these issues with the book I'm reading now.

Tuesday, June 14

black swan

Cripes. I've been so busy I haven't had time to blog about this movie, which we watched last Friday. Saturday we had a wedding and Sunday Jake had a belated birthday pool party with his friends at my in-laws' pool. Beyond that, we have been spending time at the office (painting the exterior) and doing some odds and ends at a rental house we bought two weeks ago. So, it's not like I have been busy or anything...

Anyway, I found this movie to be a disappointment. It sounded like it would be right up my alley, so I was careful to not pay attention to all of the hype surrounding it. However, for a thriller, it was not thrilling enough. I guess the overall premise was clever, but I just wasn't into it. Interestingly enough, Brian managed to stay awake through the entire movie (and I'm sure that didn't have anything to do with the gratuitous lesbian sex scene that was part of the film). He liked the movie, by the way.

Wednesday, June 8

real birthday

My birthday started off on a bad note. I was outside doing a few things and I got stung by a wasp. But, thanks to Jake's quick fingers, we found a couple of remedies to try and one of them worked. We tried onion, baking soda paste, ice, and Tylenol. I'm putting my money on the ice and Tylenol, but who knows?

After that, things improved. Brian grilled up some food and we had lunch outside on the patio. It was a pretty nice day. For presents, I received more canning stuff (namely a canning cookbook and a pressure canner). I spent a good chunk of time that evening going through the cookbook and picking out recipes. We even ran to the hardware store to pick up some canning jars. Hopefully we'll get to can something in the next couple of weeks--I can't wait to try it!

Saturday, June 4

megamind

This was a pretty good film, for a cartoon. Will Ferrell did the voice for the title role and he was totally excellent. All three of us enjoyed it. Sadly, Brian fell asleep halfway through (I don't remember the last time he made it through a movie, though).

Wednesday, June 1

fruit

I planted some fruit trees last year (apple, peach, and cherry). I didn't get any fruit from them last year, but this year, there are little fruitlings on all of the trees. The peach and apple have a decent amount of fruit on them, but there are like three cherries on the cherry tree. I guess I won't be making cherry pie.

Sunday, May 29

the girl with the dragon tattoo

This was a pretty good mystery. A friend recommended the movie to me, but just last weekend, my (great) aunt was telling me how good the book series was, so I had intended on reading the book before watching the movie. However, I forgot to update my Netflix queue and the movie happened to be at the top, so guess what we watched this weekend? Oh well. I still might read the book but it's not as urgent now. By the way, this was a Swedish film so if you don't like subtitles, you might want to wait until this comes out later this year as an American remake.

Wednesday, May 25

birthday

We'll it's not my birthday quite yet, but my parents had us over on Sunday to celebrate my (and my brother's) birthdays. We had a delicious turkey dinner and then opened presents, wherein I received the worst present ever from my brother. He bought me a scale that I wanted, but the damned thing makes me weigh four pounds more than my previous scale. I guess the good news is that I still lost the weight I thought I did, but now I want to lose more so I can hit my "real" target weight. Damnit.

Monday, May 23

oops

I've had an algae problem in the pond, so I thought I'd try some pond dye in it (pond dye is supposed to block out the rays that allow algae to grow). It arrived today so I mixed some up and dumped it in and now the pond is solid black. Methinks I put too much in. It shouldn't cause any problems, but you definitely cannot see anything now. So, in effect, it has solved my algae problem. I suspect with more rain in the forecast, the pond will turn a lighter color shortly. If not, hopefully the algae that is in there will die from lack of sunlight.

Sunday, May 22

painting & drinking

Yesterday, we spent a good bit of time at the office and started painting the outside. We got most of the rear wall done and all of the one side (with the exception of a few small areas that need to be cut in). It looks great. My only concern is the weather forecast--I'm not sure when we will be able to finish up. We need probably 3-4 hours to do the other wall. If we have any nice days this week, we'll go and do some of the areas we skipped. After everything is done, we have to go back and paint the trim, but that will be easy in comparison. Boy did this make us tired--we're used to sitting on our butts all day, not doing actual work. Even after a nap yesterday and a decent night's sleep, I woke up tired this morning.

Last night, we had another couple over for drinks, appetizers, and conversation. It was a nice evening to spend on the patio. I think we're going to be doing more entertaining like this and less "dinner" entertaining and see how that goes--it's so much less work, but with the same results.

Saturday, May 21

127 hours

Long time, no blog. Good thing I watch a movie just about every week, otherwise I might not have anything to say.

Last night we watched 127 hours. I found the acting and cinematography to be excellent, but overall it was kind of boring. I mean, there's only so much you can do with one character that immobilized in a cave, you know? The movie clocked in at about 90 minutes, so it's not like they could have made it any shorter. The part where the guy cut his arm off was pretty disgusting. I'm thinking they could have shortened that scene a bit, though.

Today is supposed to be beautiful, so we're going to start painting the outside of the office. Hopefully we will get a lot done because the forecast is calling for some sort of precipitation 11 out of the next 14 days so who knows when we will be able to paint again.

Saturday, May 14

the week

I got all caught up with my vegetable garden last week. Everything that is supposed to be planted is now planted. Whew! Of course, there will be more to do in the coming weeks but it feels good to be caught up. I have plenty of other things to do outside, too. First up will be weeding.

Yesterday was Jake's 11th birthday (Happy Birthday to Jake!), so we went out for dinner at Rey Azteca to celebrate. Jake's friend and his friend's mom joined us for dinner. The food there is really good and I still can't believe how cheap it is. As crowded as that place always is, you'd think they'd raise their prices.

This afternoon, we're making a trip to Toys R Us so Jake can spend all of his birthday money (which, evidently, is burning a hole in his pocket). And, tonight is Family Movie Night. So, the fun continues...

Wednesday, May 11

sunday

We had a Jake's birthday/Mother's Day cookout on Sunday. It was just with the family--Jake will have a kids' pool party next month. The day was pretty nice, so we did the outside thing. It was a little chilly, but not too bad. Brian and Jake worked like mad on Saturday to open the patio, so at least we were able to use it. It was an afternoon full of drinking and eating. Brian's dad brought this cool bottle of wine (check out the label). And my mom brought some homemade limoncello (yum!). Couple that with the extra wine from our bottling session the night before, and there was no shortage of things to drink! A good way to spend the afternoon.

Saturday, May 7

the book of eli

Continuing with the Denzel Washington theme (we watched Unstoppable last weekend), we watched The Book of Eli last night. It was a pretty good movie, but I was so tired from working outside all evening that I had trouble concentrating on it. There were some great fight scenes and it was an interesting story with some cool twists. I only wish I had been more alert while watching it.

mulch

We had a bunch of mulch delivered yesterday and got that taken care of last night. The three of us worked like mad to get things done before dark. During the mulching process, I removed the nonproductive blueberry plants and raspberry bushes. It made it easier to mulch, anyway. Someday, I will attempt both again, but not until I can put them in a secure area.

Thursday, May 5

minus one

Since I have been having trouble coming up with content for both of my blogs, I have switched back to a single blog. My gardening blog has been imported into this one and has been deleted. Since I had my gardening blog on my custom domain (angelalaw.net), I'm going to use it for this blog now. It's not currently working, but hopefully it's just a DNS thing and will be up soon.

Sunday, May 1

unstoppable

I didn't really want to see this movie, but since it was partially set in central PA, I figured we'd watch it as a Family Movie Night (rather than the kids' movies that we always watch). The problem was that Jake ended up not being around this weekend (he apparently doesn't sleep here anymore on Fridays or Saturdays), so Brian and I watched it last night. Correct that--I watched it last night. Brian fell asleep 15 minutes in (that seems to be a recurring theme lately). This movie was kind of like Speed on a train. That statement wasn't a compliment.

Thursday, April 28

too much rain

I mean, seriously. Besides having an effect on my gardening schedule, this rain has been affecting other parts of my life as well. For one thing, we haven't been able to get the motorcycles out of the shed. Due to this, we haven't been able to get the lawnmowers out of the shed. We got the bikes out yesterday so the grass has finally been cut. Good thing, too, because it was only about 10 inches high. I've needed to access some other stuff in the shed, but the bikes were in the way of that, too. I guess I'm good to go now, but I feel like I'm so far behind because I haven't been able to work outside much this spring. Jake's family birthday party is next weekend, so I need to get ready for that. We like to do a cookout, but the weather rarely cooperates. Just in case, I need to be prepared for it.

Sunday, April 24

water, water, everywhere

It has been raining like every day this month. I haven't been able to plant anything for a couple of weeks (and given all of the rain, the potatoes and onions are probably rotting in the ground). Nor have I gotten much done outside. Everything's so wet. Ugh. It's not just me, the farmers haven't planted yet either according to an article in the local paper.

I'm assuming that the weather will turn around at some point, so I'm moving forward wherever I can. One of my friends sent me a variety of tomato seeds (and also some gherkin seeds--I've never planted those before) this week so I planted all of them last night, with the assumption that I will be able to garden by the end of May.

NOAA weather is again calling for rain every day this week until Friday, on which it will be 58 degrees. Great.

the town

This movie was directed by Ben Affleck, who was also the lead actor. It was a "heist" movie which is a subject matter that Brian and I typically enjoy. While I have never been a big Affleck fan, I thought he did really well in this movie. He also directed Gone Baby Gone which I thought was pretty good, too. So, I guess I'm going to have to keep an eye on his movies in the future.

Saturday, April 23

johnstown generals

Last night, we took Jake and one of his friends to a Johnstown Generals game. The boys had a blast, as they always do. I'm not sure of Brian's opinion of the game, but I was a little underwhelmed. It was not as polished as I was expecting and the play was not quite on par as compared to something like ECHL hockey.

The War Memorial was maybe 1/4 full. The boys wanted to change seats so we let them go over to the end zone area. No sooner did they get there and they were kicked out of their seats by the usher. It seems that tickets for the first four rows are more expensive than the rest so they don't let you sit there unless you've paid to do so. Never mind that hardly any of the seats in the building were sold. It's always been my experience that you can pretty much sit wherever you want at these kinds of events. But, if someone with a ticket shows up and you're in their seat, you move. So, I thought that was a bit much, but maybe that's just me.

Thursday, April 21

just one look

This book had the most convoluted plot of any book I have ever read. At first, it seemed like it was going to be interesting, but in the end, it was not. I still don't get the ending--it made no sense. I think I'm going to stay away from this author's (Harlan Coben's) other books.

the weather

The weather has not been very cooperative this spring. Usually we have a couple of nice days strung together, but we've only had a couple of nice days total so far this month. So, I have not been outside much, unfortunately. I did manage to get the pond open on one of the nice days, but that's about all I have done outside. I hope it gets nice soon because I have a lot to do.

Monday, April 18

mother and child

I really wanted to like this movie. It was written and directed by the writer and director of Nine Lives, which was quite good. Plus, Naomi Watts starred in the movie, so it made it a must-see. But, neither one of us could get into it. The movie ran 2 hours, the first 90 minutes of which were pretty boring. The last 30 minutes were quite interesting--it's where all of the stories told in the first 90 minutes intersected, but it was too little, too late for me. Unfortunately Brian fell asleep after the first 90 minutes, so he didn't even get to see the good parts.

Saturday, April 16

alone

I have the house to myself most of this weekend, so I'm trying to get some stuff done for Everyone Drinks. I started working on some beer cap magnets last night and finished them this morning. Later today, I'd like to finish up the wine cork trivets I started last weekend.

Jake went to NY for the weekend to visit his cousins. Brian is at a coopering (barrel-making) class most of the weekend. So, things are quiet around the homestead.

The weather will probably preclude me from leaving the house today, though I do have some running around to do--maybe tomorrow.

One thing is for sure--a nap is definitely in order for this afternoon. I woke up at 6:30 this morning and could not fall back asleep.

Tuesday, April 12

diet

So, last fall whenever my pants stopped fitting, I went on a diet. More of a new lifestyle, really. I started out simply counting calories, and therein was the problem--I was eating too much. So, I cut back and lost a few pounds, but then hit a plateau for a couple of months. The only thing I could think to do was to give up sugar. I don't feel that I was eating too much sugar, but I do like my sweets and would occasionally overindulge. It's not that I don't ever eat junk food, I just try to limit it my consumption. I also cut sugar out of my tea--again not a huge amount, but both of these efforts allowed me to lose a couple more pounds, so my pants fit again. I have to say, I thought I was going to like tea without sugar (as I drink my coffee black), but it just does not taste good. Maybe I'll get used to it eventually. But, either way, at least my pants fit again. Oh, and getting old sucks.

Sunday, April 10

inglorious basterds

I like to be entertained, but not necessarily for 2.5 hours. Sometimes it is necessary for a movie to be that long, other times it is not. In this particular case, it was not. I found this movie to be rather boring for a Quentin Tarantino flick. Brian slept through the last hour, so maybe he agrees (or maybe he was just tired). Brad Pitt's character was kind of funny. Too bad there wasn't more of him in the movie.

Tuesday, April 5

the weekend

The weekend held a lot of activities. The main activity was a camping trip with the Boy Scouts, which Brian and Jake attended. They left Saturday afternoon and came back Sunday morning. While it was a bit cold out (and there was actually snow on the ground at the campsite), they had a great time and were able to stay warm.

While the boys were gone, I just did stuff around the house. My main project for the weekend was to finish painting the stairs. Mission accomplished! I still need to paint the handrail and remove the trim around the entry way (there used to be a door there). But, I am so glad to be done with this portion of the project. We're trying to finish the upstairs this year, so this was a good step in that direction.

I've also been cleaning the office. I've been using that room to finish the new doors we bought for the house--it was (and still is) a complete mess. But, I've been making good progress up there--I should be able to wrap things up by the end of the week. I've been using the office as my craft room for Everyone Drinks so it's been a little cramped up there, but things will be in shape in no time.

On Sunday, we went to Brian's parent's house to celebrate his mother's birthday. On our way home, we stopped to check out a property in Vintondale that looked good on paper. However, it was right off of route 22 and this proved to be a negative. The property was absolutely perfect, except for the fact that you could hear every car and truck that was going down the road. So, that was a bummer, but I'm glad we went to look at it anyway.

Our trip home was interesting. As we were driving down the road, I saw a bug on my hand. As I shook my hand to get rid of the bug, I realized it was a tick! So, I frantically searched for it and found one on my pants (presumably the same one that was on my hand). I grabbed it with a tissue and threw it out the window. Jake then started freaking out about ticks. You could tell Brian felt that we were over-reacting. Brian was showing him with his fingers how big a tick was, when Jake said, "is that one on your hand?" The expression on Brian's face was priceless. Once we finally arrived home, we all stripped down and searched for ticks on everyone. No more were found. I'm sure this will only be the first of many surprises about the country life.

Monday, April 4

and they're off!

I don't care if it is supposed to snow tomorrow--I did some gardening today. Granted, it was in the house (I planted tomato seeds), but it was gardening nonetheless. Actually the weather has been kind of messing me up a little. My onions always turn out small, so I was going to see if planting them early had any effect on their size. But, the weather hasn't cooperated for that experiment, so I'm not going to get them in much earlier than I usually do.

Sunday, April 3

think twice

Another fast-paced book from Lisa Scottoline's Bennie Rosato series. Her writing style reminds me of James Patterson's--not that they are writing about the same subject matter, but she writes short chapters (seriously--there were 128 chapters in the 372 page book) that keep you engaged. Before you know it, you're done with the book.

This was only the second book I've read in the series, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that all of these books involve Bennie's "evil twin" who is either trying to impersonate or kill Bennie (or both). But, I've only read two, so maybe I'm wrong. I think I have a few more of these books. I should probably look up what order to read them in, though I don't know that it really matters.

Saturday, April 2

bill and ted's excellent adventure

Somehow I missed seeing this movie when I was a teen. I probably would have enjoyed it more back then. It was ok. Jake liked it. Brian slept through it--probably due to starting P90X this week--though he did see it numerous times before. Somehow, Jake thought this movie was going to be Wayne's World, so we're going to watch that next. Kind of in the same theme, but Wayne's World was better, if I am remembering correctly.

Wednesday, March 30

thundershirt

Because there's a sucker born every minute, I bought one of these shirts for Buster recently. The short story is that I'm keeping it (they have a pretty good return policy). While it doesn't work (for Buster) for everything they have listed on their website, it works well enough for some things that it's worth keeping.

The two big things with Buster are barking and car sickness. Whenever Buster is in a barking mood, if I put the shirt on him, he just stands there like a zombie. Some people might think this is a negative, but it's actually an improvement on his normal behavior.

The big test came yesterday--Buster always gets car sick. I mean always. I don't remember a trip in the car that didn't involve me cleaning up dog vomit upon returning home. That is, until yesterday. Buster had a vet appointment so I thought that would be the perfect time to give the shirt a try. While he got pretty drooly early into the trip, he did not get sick yesterday! Now, I will say that the vet's office is only 15 minutes from the house, but seeing that he's gotten sick in less time in the car than that, we'll call it a winner. I hope to desensitize him to the car by taking him on longer and longer trips.

The shirt did not pass the thunder test, however. Both Buster and Alice are afraid of thunder. During one of the recent storms, they each had a turn in the shirt, but I did not notice any change in their behavior.

Still, definitely worth keeping.

Sunday, March 27

despicable me

We watched this movie at the beginning of the month. I just realized that I never blogged about it. It was pretty good, though it's not my favorite animated movie (I guess that honor would have to go to 'Up'). I would say more, but I don't remember a whole lot about it (other than the fact that Steve Carell's character was awesome).

Thursday, March 24

a touch of dead

Wow did this book kind of suck. On a positive note, it only took a few days to read. It was a collection of short stories based on the Sookie Stackhouse series. The main problem was that I had a hard time reconciling the stories to the timelines in the actual books. I'm not convinced that they could have even happened. The secondary problem was that the stories were not all that interesting. Nevertheless, I'm still looking forward to the next book, which comes out this summer. Time to read something else.

Tuesday, March 22

feeling winey

The past couple of days have been a wine extravaganza around here. On Friday, we racked a red wine kit. It's brand of wine kit that I hadn't tried before (RJ Spagnols). It has a simplified process, which I like. Plus, the kit had dried grape skins included, which is the way to go. Last year, I did a kit with grape skins and it turned out so much better than the ones without. I won't be going back.

On Saturday night, we bottled a batch of blackberry port. Yum! And, tonight I started a white wine kit, from the same brand as the first one we did. It was a white wine, but also had dried grapes, so I will be interested to see how it turns out. Normally, all of the white wine I make is pretty good, so I wonder if the grapes will add anything.

I have another kit sitting downstairs and another one that will be in at the end of the month. Beyond that, I'm thinking about doing strawberry wine again this year as I'm not sick of it yet and I only have a few bottles left from last year. The wine racks are looking a little bare, so this should help remedy the situation.

commence gardening

Despite the fact that it's supposed to snow this week, it's time to start planting! Well, inside, anyway. I planted a bunch of pepper seeds this evening. I did 24 green bell peppers, 20 cubanelle, and 4 jalapeno. I'll be sharing with the parents, of course. I haven't scoped out the next couple of weeks, but I suspect there will be more gardening activity soon. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 17

new obsession

Last fall had us thinking about buying a new house. While we were able to talk ourselves out of that idea, we have not been able to talk ourselves out of owning some land. It is doubtful that we would find a land/house combination that we'd like so that leaves us with building a house. I looked through scores of plans online and found a bunch that were really nice. Many of them were too large, realistically speaking, so I started scoping out some smaller houses (ones that are only a little bigger than our current house). I found this one set of plans I really like and the house is perfect--exactly what I'm looking for.

But, now we wait. One of the reasons we decided not to buy a house is that we'd like to get out of the Westmont School District (due to the tax situation). But, we don't want to move while Jake's still in school. The good news is that gives us some time to pull this off (or to change our minds). Worst case, our house will be paid off in December 2012. After that, we'll start looking for a lot (actually, I'm looking now, but we probably wouldn't be able to swing the purchase until the house is paid off). If we find some land, we'll buy it and then start looking for a builder when Jake's in high school, so we can move after he graduates. It's definitely a long ways off, but that's now the plan.

Wednesday, March 16

dead and gone

I guess I must have liked this book because I tore right through it. I even stayed up a little late last night to finish it--I only had a few pages left and just couldn't put it down. So, I only have a book of short stories to read (which I had forgotten about), then I guess I'll have to get back to my regular reading schedule.

Tuesday, March 15

oh boy!

It's almost time to start gardening again. Can you feel it? I can. I got my garden plans and schedule organized recently and ordered the necessary seeds, so I'm ready to go. I have high hopes for this season, much like every other year and I'm anxious to get started. I'm moving my herb garden and putting in an additional vegetable garden (8x8 feet) this year. The extra room is going to give me some room to experiment with some things I wouldn't normally plant, which is cool. Soon enough, I guess.

stairwell to heaven

One of our current projects is refinishing the stairwell that leads to the library/office area of the house. The original finish on them was shellac and the stairs are made out of pine. Years of oxidation created a cherry sort of color on them. I was hoping to just do a little scuff sanding and refinishing, but that didn't pan out. The problem was that someone put down rubber on the stair treads for traction purposes. After removing the rubber, we found that the stairs were much lighter in that area, so the treads had to be sanded down to bare wood. Brian and Jake handled these duties (phew!). They finished up a couple of weekends ago. I stained the treads cherry (ironically enough) and put a bunch of coats of Waterlox on them. They look pretty good now, but you probably wouldn't know they were refinished unless you saw them before. Once the Waterlox is finished curing, I'm going to paint the risers and the stair trim gloss white--that's up for the weekend. It's going to be a pain to do this (it will be a lot of precision paintbrush work), but I think the results will be worth it.

Sunday, March 13

the social network

The acting, casting, and direction of this film was undoubtedly great. However, I did not like the movie (nor did Brian). I know I'm in the minority with my opinion, but it was so boring (and the Zuckerberg character was an annoying twit). As Jake put it, he knew it couldn't have been good because every time he came into the living room "they were in a meeting" (referring to the legal scenes). How right he was. I wish I would have stuck with my initial instinct and not added this to our queue.

Friday, March 11

from dead to worse

After finishing the book prior to this one, I was afraid that maybe I was tiring of the series. However, the latest book proved to me that was not the case. I tore through this one in less than a week--it was just as good as all of the others. So, I'm ready to read the next one, which I will start tonight.

Sunday, March 6

tuna

Brian's been talking up Surplus City for about 10 years. Now that I've started up my craft business, I thought it might be worth a trip out there. So, we went there yesterday morning to check things out. Frankly, I was a little disappointed. I went there with a list, and that was my first mistake. They didn't really have what I was looking for. I did find some stuff I could use, so it wasn't a total bust. They did have some cool items there, though not related to crafts. I think it would be fun to go there and buy some of the unusual stuff they have, but that's a trip for another day.

After shopping, we intended on going to Red Lobster for lunch as we have a gift certificate to use. However, there was a 20 minute wait and I wasn't in the mood for that so we hit a drive-thru on the way home instead. I was really surprised about the wait. It's not like something special was going on yesterday. Maybe I'm just used to eating in Johnstown where you never have to worry about that. That said, we're going to go to the Red Lobster in Johnstown next weekend instead.

So, Altoona was a bust, but at least the rest of the weekend was good.

Saturday, March 5

all together dead

Yet another book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the previous ones, but it was still pretty good. Two more to go, then I'll have to wait for book #10 to come out this summer.

Thursday, March 3

i heart bgf

It's that time of the year again--time to sign up for Blue Goose Farm's CSA. This will be our 3rd year of membership. I really enjoy being a member. First off, it's nice to support a local farmer. Secondly, we don't eat near enough vegetables, but in the summer, between my garden and the CSA we sure get our fill. We are not ones to waste food, so I try to make sure everything gets eaten or frozen (or given away if it's something we really don't like, but that's not too often).

This year, in order to extend the harvest (or so to speak), I plan on learning how to can. While I freeze as much as I can, I think canning is a better way to go, storage-wise. Plus, you can can other stuff like soup and sauces--that would be awesome. I'll start off slow this year and see where things go from here. One step closer to self-sufficiency. Now, if I could only get some chickens...

Tuesday, March 1

sleeping with the fishes

I'm always surprised to find out that the fish survived the winter, but they did yet again. I was outside over the weekend and did a headcount, so that's how I know.

Soon, it will be time to get the pond running again. I'd like to get a power filter this year, but we'll have to see about that. It would sure make my life easier.

Sunday, February 27

winter's bone

I read about this movie somewhere and it looked intriguing so I checked into it further and then added it to our queue. The movie was about a girl who had to search for her father, who skipped bail, so that she and her family would not lose their home (which was put up for said bail). It doesn't sound very interesting when you put it that way, but it was. It was set in the Ozarks, where poverty abounds, which was interesting in itself. Brian wasn't too thrilled with my selection--until he watched the movie. He said it was one of the best he's seen in recent years and I have to agree.

And, they didn't do my pet peeve thing of saying the movie title in the movie dialog (at least not that I heard). It made me like it even more.

Friday, February 25

something

I've been trying to make an effort to blog more frequently--at least a couple of times a week. However, I see I've fallen behind. But, that's because nothing has been going on that I haven't discussed already. I've been working on stuff for my upcoming store, reading Charlaine Harris novels, and finishing the interior doors (2 to go!). That's it, really. Oh, and I've been doing the yearly update to my recipe book, but who wants to hear about that?

Luckily, we're watching a movie tomorrow night, so I'll have something to say about that.

Sunday, February 20

definitely dead

This was the 6th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I don't know what to say--it's much like the previous books and I liked it. And, I didn't find any typos in this one. Onto the next book...

Thursday, February 17

winter thaw

I hate to call spring already, but things are definitely thawing out (and I saw a bunch of motorcycles out today--a surer sign of spring than robins).

I was outside doing my post-winter dog area cleanup (ugh). While outside, I took a look around the yard. The blueberries were eaten by something again this year. Damnit! I tried covering them up the past couple of years. While that mitigated the eating of the branches somewhat, the bushes all got crushed under the snow last year. So, I left them uncovered this year but now they are chewed down to nibs. I'm never going to get any blueberries. And, that reminds me--I forgot to look at the raspberries. I wonder if they're still there.

On a positive note, I saw at least three fish swimming around in the pond. It always surprises me to see that they survived the winter. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since it's happened more than once, but I still am.

And the garlic is starting to show itself in the garden. Nothing like kicking off the gardening season with something growing in the garden in February.

It's almost time to start digging in the dirt again, which will mean more posts for this blog.

Tuesday, February 15

birthday boy

Yesterday was Brian's 40th birthday. In honor of the day, we both took off work. He puttered around in the shop most of the day and I spent the afternoon cooking. Since it was a special birthday, I made a special meal, Lasagne Verdi al Forno, Caesar salad, and garlic bread. We had a nice cabernet to go along with the meal. I made this lasagna once before (for an previous birthday of his), but it tasted even better than I remembered (and it didn't take me quite as long to make--probably because I've made homemade pasta a few times since then). It was just the three of us so it was a pretty laid back evening.

Birthday week kicked off with dinner at Brian's parent's last weekend and will conclude with dinner at my parent's this weekend. How does he rate?

Saturday, February 12

dead by day

This book was made up of books four and five in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead to the World and Dead as a Doornail. I enjoyed these two stories just as much as the first three, if not more, due to the fact that they were all new to me. One negative I will say about these books is that there are an inordinate amount of typos in them. I mean, I've seen typos in books before, of course, but not that often. I've seen more than one typo in each of these books so far (methinks Charlaine Harris needs to get a new editor). My favorite typo of this book was "Eric pushed himself to his feat..." Feat? Really? Despite this, I will be starting the next book later today. And, I will enjoy it.

Thursday, February 10

the house

We've been doing some work on the house this winter. The main thing is that we're replacing all of the interior doors on the main floor. We bought oak doors even though our trim is made of cherry, so I've been jumping through some hoops in order to get the two woods to match. So far, four of the doors are finished and two are installed. There are three to go. Of course, there's the trim work that will need to be done once all of the doors are in.

We took a break from the doors to work on some bookcases for the library. Brian helped me finish them because it was quite a job. They are now ready to install. I can hardly wait to fill them with books. There are still a lot more bookcases to make, but the major construction is complete.

And the third major project is to stain/paint the stairs that go to the second floor. Brian started sanding them, but that kind of got pushed aside with everything else that is going on. But that project will resume shortly.

Monday, February 7

not-so-super bowl

Despite Pittsburgh's loss, we still had fun watching the Super Bowl. Actually, we probably had more fun eating, drinking, and socializing, rather than actually watching the game, but you know what I mean.

The usual suspects came over to watch the game--namely, our parents. Brian also invited a couple of his friends, but only one (and his girlfriend) was able to make it.

I usually do a food theme either based on the city the Super Bowl is taking place in or one of the teams. But, this year, I just did regular football food--chili, wings, and a giant sandwich. It worked out great. I'll probably revert to doing a theme again next year, but I wanted to do something different this time.

Anyway, it was a good evening and just another foray back into entertaining on a regular basis for us.

Tuesday, February 1

social eyes

Last year was "Brian and Angela's Year of Fun" and this year is the year we get back into entertaining. We used to do quite a bit of this, but business ownership got in the way for a few years. So, we're trying to ease back into things this year. While our January plans fell through, we did manage to go to a party last weekend so I guess that counts.

We have a couple of events planned for the year and I guess we'll just wing the rest. But I am looking forward to getting back into the role of hostess.

Thursday, January 27

new venture

Last year, I got this idea in my head that I wanted to start my own business. Obviously, there were some parameters to this since I already have a job. So, that led me to the idea of an online store. I kicked around the dog treat idea, but realized that I didn't want to have to make dog treats every time someone placed an order, so that was out. Plus, there are a lot of places already making dog treats.

I was perusing a catalog I received in the mail and saw some wine bottle glasses. I had seen them before, but that got me to thinking that they would be fun to make. Then I started thinking about all of the other cool drinking-related items that could be made and thus started my new company.

Over Christmas break, I wrote up my business plan and now I'm in production mode. The first couple of months of this year, I'm going to be making stuff for the store (Brian's going to help with the wood projects I have planned). My first project was some whiskey scented candles (in mason jelly jars, of course). I made those last weekend. I have a couple of projects scheduled each month and then my store will launch in June. I'm pretty excited about this. Brian has already designed my logo and the website, so things are moving along on all fronts.

Given my penchant for making things, this store will be a perfect fit. And, the idea behind it is that the merchandise will be made in limited quantities, so I won't be stuck making the same things time after time.

Stay tuned for updates...

Sunday, January 23

iron man 2

This was pretty good for a sequel. I really like Robert Downey Jr. in this role. I don't have much to say about this--the movie had great special effects, good acting, and a decent enough storyline. If you liked Iron Man, you will surely like this one.

Saturday, January 22

dead in dixie

Dead in Dixie was the name of the book I just finished reading, but this book actually contained the first three books in the Sookie Stackhouse series (the series upon which True Blood is based): Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, and Club Dead.

While it has been documented that I do not enjoy reading a book after seeing a movie (or tv show in this case) upon which it was based, I did rather enjoy these stories. I've only seen the first two seasons of True Blood, which corresponded to the first two "books", but there was enough of a difference between the two storylines to make it interesting to read after the fact--some things were followed exactly, other things were not even in the books.

In the long run, I think I'm going to enjoy the books more than the show, but I guess that should not be surprising.

Saturday, January 15

inception

This was a very complicated movie to watch. On one hand, I like a movie that makes me think. On the other hand, it takes away from my entertainment if I have to think too much about it. This one was definitely a thinker. It would be impossible to describe the plot because there are so many theories out there about the storyline. I thought the movie was good overall, but I prefer things more cut and dried. I don't like having to wonder about what the director was trying to convey.

Brian fell asleep during the last 30 minutes of the film. I'm not sure if he was inspired by the plot or just bored.

Friday, January 14

router flu

Brian's mom was having some issues with her pc the other week, so I took a look at it. There were some problems with the configuration of her virus scanner, which I fixed. The computer was working fine on our network, but when she tried to use it at home, the internet connection kept dropping. She ended up having to get a new router, which I installed on Sunday when we were there for my father-in-law's birthday.

The previous week, our internet connection kept dropping at the office. I contacted the cable company and they said that our modem had been connected to them all week so the problem must be elsewhere. So, I also ordered a new router, which I installed this week. There must be something going around besides this cold Jake gave to me and Brian.

Everything at the office was working ok at first, then our connection started dropping again. This time, the internet light on the cable modem was out. A reboot fixed the problem, but I had to do that a number of times. I'm hoping the issue was somehow related to the weather because it didn't happen again today. Otherwise, I'll be buying a new modem next week. I hate hardware problems, because you just never know if the issue is with the hardware or something else.

Monday, January 10

dolores claiborne

I'll give it this much, I enjoyed the movie more than the book. That's probably being a bit critical, though. Actually, the movie was pretty good even though it wasn't based on one of my favorite Stephen King books. I read it so long ago that I didn't remember much about the storyline, though things came back to me as the movie progressed. But, whenever Kathy Bates talks in a Stephen King movie, you better listen.

Monday, January 3

date night

Brian and I watched this movie over the weekend. We both thought it was pretty funny. It got some tepid reviews so I wasn't sure about watching it, but it was definitely worth the time. The only negative I'll say is that there were some scenes that dragged on for longer than they needed to, but I think we watched the extended edition so this may have not been an issue in the theatrical release.

Sunday, January 2

christmas: day 3

We had another Christmas celebration today. This one was at Judy's house. She was away over the holidays so hence the late get-together.

We went over there around suppertime so she ordered some pizza. Yum! She sent us home with a few pieces and I just ate another one moments ago. Anyway, after the pizza eating, we got down to business--opening gifts. Jake has this thing where he wants everyone else to open their gifts first and then he opens all of his so we did just that. We all got some nice stuff, of course, but the thing I'm most interested in is the book she bought us--Country Wisdom & Know-How. It looks quite informative. I can't wait to read it. It was also nice to sit around and talk for a bit--we haven't done that in a little while.

But, the fun had to end sooner or later as Jake has school tomorrow. Brian and I are off, though. Our office is observing New Year's Day tomorrow, while all of the other suckers are at work. So, we get one more day before everything's back to normal, but boy is it going to be a busy week.