Saturday, December 29

the change-up

This was one of the crassest movies I have ever seen. It was hilarious. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend it because you will no doubt think less of me having watched it.

legal tender

I was on a mission to finish this book as I received a Kindle for Christmas and I can't wait to start reading it. This was another novel by Lisa Scottoline and it was in her "Bennie" series. This was pretty early on in the series so it was lacking the usual characters. But, it was a pretty quick read, so we'll call that a plus.

Tuesday, December 25

christmas parts 2 & 3

The relatively short edition...

We celebrated Christmas Eve with Brian's family. We went to their place for supper then they all came to our church to see Jake play guitar at the 10:30pm service. We didn't get back from church until after midnight, so by the time we got everything situated it was 1am until we went to bed. We had my family over for lunch today, so we had to get up rather early to get things going (6am-ish). I recruited Brian to make a turkey breast in the slow cooker and I put a ham in the oven. By the time everyone left Brian and I were beat, so we took a short nap on the couch. Unfortunately, I have to go to work tomorrow and Friday (I'm off Thursday), but I have a 4-day weekend coming up for New Year's, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

It was a nice couple of days. And, of course, we received a bunch of great gifts. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 23

christmas

We kicked off the Christmas season today and had Judy over for our annual Christmas visit. I made brunch (because it's Sunday, after all) and then we hung out and talked after opening presents. It was a nice afternoon. As a side bonus, the dogs were on "11" during her visit so now they're exhausted. Methinks it's time for a nap.

seeking a friend for the end of the world

This was an ok movie, but I probably could have lived had I not watched it. The movie told the story of what happens if you know the end of the world is coming. In this case, an asteroid was heading towards earth and was going to destroy life as we know it. It was billed as a dramedy and that it was. It has a couple of funny scenes, but overall, was pretty subdued. I watched this one myself because I couldn't talk anyone else into sitting through it.

Thursday, December 20

almost there

I'm finally done with all of my Christmas preparations. I finished making the dog treats (and I even did some cat treats) this week. And, I finished wrapping gifts this evening. Now, all we need to do is finish up the living room makeover and all will be complete. I was running a little behind this year. I'm going to have to make sure that doesn't happen again next year.

Saturday, December 15

mission: impossible - ghost protocol

Two impossible missions were accomplished yesterday. The most important one is that we made our final mortgage payment. Yay! That feels good. Still, I would like to move to the country someday, so we'll probably have another mortgage in our future. But for now, we are mortgage-free and I shall revel in that for at least a few years.

To celebrate this, the three of us had a little party. Each one of us picked something to make to eat (Brian did potstickers; Jake made cocktail meatballs; and I made spicy cheese straws). We enjoyed our snacks while sipping on sparkling wine (Jake had sparkling grape juice) and watching a movie. The movie was just as good as any other mindless action flick and perfect for the evening.

Sunday, December 9

mister slaughter

It has been well-documented in the past that I enjoy Robert McCammon's Matthew Corbett series. This book was no exception--it was just as good as the previous books. I'm already looking forward to the next one. Unfortunately, I haven't purchased it yet--I need to remedy this soon.

Saturday, December 8

global warming

It seems the global warming trend has hit Johnstown. I know it's too early to call this winter a mild one (technically it's still fall), but, whatever it is, I'll take it. I thought the weather we had last winter was just a fluke, but the way this winter is going so far, I'm starting to wonder.

Brian took advantage of today's decent weather and installed a tonneau cover on the new truck, so it's all ready for the winter (whenever it decides to arrive).

Monday, December 3

unstuffed pork chops

I came up with a brilliant idea and I finally tried it out tonight. I call it "Unstuffed Pork Chops". First, you mix up your favorite stuffing recipe (mine can be found here). Next, you pan sear a couple of pork chops (seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and sage) and then put them on top of the stuffing. Cook the combo according to the stuffing recipe instructions. Eat. Wonder why you haven't tried this before.

Saturday, December 1

3rd one's a charm

I previously documented big purchases #1 and #2, but this week had the biggest purchase of them all--a new truck.

My Highlander was at the garage last week for its inspection. It needed a bunch of work. We were planning on either selling it or trading it in next spring, anyway, so we decided to move that timeline up a few months rather than putting a bunch of money into it that we weren't ever going to see again.

We were looking to replace Brian's truck (which we also traded in) and decided on a Chevy Silverado. I've been scouring the internet for used truck deals and found a good one at Blue Knob Auto. Besides the fact that they had exactly what we were looking for, I was impressed with the information provided on their website. We ended up getting a 2012 truck with less than 20,000 miles. With the remainder of the factory warranty intact, I don't really have any worries about our purchase. And, I couldn't have been happier with the car-buying process--no haggle prices are definitely the way to go.

safe house

We enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It was nonstop action for the first 45 minutes. I decided to make Margaritas once the action slowed, but before I was done, it was nonstop action again. This movie received mixed reviews, but I'm not sure why--I thought it was pretty good for what it was, a CIA-based action/thriller. The only negative was the whole shaky cam thing. I don't know why this is the new norm for film making.

Thursday, November 29

transformation

We've been doing a little work in our living room in anticipation of the holidays. For years now, we've been trying to decide what to do with the fireplace mantel--originally we were going to replace it, but then I thought "why not paint it?" I did just that last weekend (in dark gray) and it looks great--certainly easier and cheaper than installing a new mantel.

I also bought three small bookcase/tables that we grouped together at one end of the couch. And, I have new blinds on order for the living room and dining room and the windowsills will be getting a coat of paint before they are installed. Brian's also going to be wrapping up the trim in the living room. That should just about do it for those two rooms.

Saturday, November 24

21 jump street

This movie was pretty funny. Dumb, but funny. It did not appeal to me when it first came out, but then I read a number of positive reviews about the movie, so I added it to our Netflix queue. I'm glad I did. Plus, Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise (from the original 21 Jump Street television show) had a hilarious cameo. As a side note, the movie shares pretty much nothing in common with the original series.

Friday, November 23

thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving with Brian's family this year. His sister and her crew were in, too. After having some great food and wine, it was nice to hang out and chat all afternoon. Even though we just saw them last weekend, we didn't get to talk much at the baptism due to the short nature of our trip and the general activity level at the dinner.

We stopped at my parent's on the way home to pick up some pie. My grandmother made 4 pies (note: there were 6 people at dinner). Needless to say, there was some pie left over, so I felt it was my duty to remedy that situation.

Sunday, November 18

baptism

Brian's sister had her 4th child this summer (this time a girl!) and the baptism was today, so we headed in that direction yesterday afternoon. We spent the night in a creepy little motel in Milford PA and then drove to the church in the morning. After the service, they had a nice, catered dinner at their house. Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay very long as it was a long ride home (and also a school night).

Saturday, November 17

midnight in paris

Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to watch a movie, but nevertheless, there's a movie to watch. When this happens, I don't give it the full attention it deserves. This was one such movie. To be honest, though, I don't think I would've liked it had I paid attention. It was just too sappy. I was on the fence about watching it to begin with, but I like to go on the fence every once in a while because sometimes I end up watching a really good movie that I wouldn't have watched otherwise. This was not one of those times.

Tuesday, November 13

dark ages

My dishwasher died yesterday. I'm so sad. :( Not only that, but my stove's been iffy so I ordered a new one on Saturday. I'm not sure who's paying for all of this, but thank goodness for Home Depot financing. To add insult to injury, Home Depot had exactly zero dishwashers in stock (everything there is apparently a floor model) so I'm not even getting a new dishwasher (besides Brian) until November 30. This year, I'm thankful that I'm not hosting Thanksgiving dinner. I'll be even more thankful if the refrigerator lasts the year.

Sunday, November 11

bernie

This movie was billed as a black comedy (which I do not enjoy), but it was done in a mockumentary style (which I do enjoy). It told the real-life story of Bernie Tiede, a man who was convicted of murdering a wealthy 81 year-old widow with whom he was friends. The film was pretty amusing but not laugh out loud funny, as is usually the case with a mockumentary. Overall, I recommend it if you're into this sort of thing (Jake liked it, too, for that matter).

Saturday, November 10

die hard

Somehow I managed to get through life (until last night) without seeing this movie. I'm not sure why I never watched it before. At any rate, it was pretty good for an action movie--not much to think about while watching this one, though.

Thursday, November 8

dexter: season 6: disc 2

This is an open letter to whoever (I say 'whoever' because apparently Netflix only has one copy of this disc for the entire United States) has had Dexter: Season 6: Disc 2 out for the past 6+ weeks: Please return it to Netflix, so I can watch it. Kthx.

Sunday, November 4

party time

Our neighbors invited us to an impromptu Halloween party last night. Brian took Jake and the neighbor kid around for trick or treating and they invited us over for pizza afterward. We sat around all evening drinking wine and bs-ing. It was a lot of fun--I'm not sure why we don't get together more often. We'll have to remedy that.

Saturday, November 3

the five-year engagement

I thought this was pretty good for a rom-com. Brian rather enjoyed it, too (to the point of cry-laughing at one of the scenes). I don't watch Parks and Recreation, but that guy from the show who was in this movie was hilarious--he really made the movie. As is common, this movie was about 30 minutes too long. But, definitely worth watching if you're in the mood for some laughs.

Wednesday, October 31

frankenstorm

The weather in the Johnstown area at the beginning of the week was a lot less scary than predicted. However, that did not stop Jacob's school from canceling on Tuesday. I still don't understand that decision. I'm thinking we should worry less about what they think might happen and worry more about what actually happens. The liquor stores throughout the state were closed, too. Yet another decision I don't understand--it's not like the storm affected the entire state. At any rate, I was pleased that our electricity stayed on for the duration at both the house and the office.

Sunday, October 28

the outsiders

Brian suggested this movie for Family Movie Night and I have to say, it was enjoyed by all. A lot of times older movies just don't hold up, but this one did a pretty good job. And, the future star power was dazzling (Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise, Diane Lane).

smile!

Yesterday, Brian and I started installing the security camera system we bought for the office. We've been wanting to do this ever since the FU incident, but it seems like there is always something else to spend our money on (like payroll). We bought the cameras in the summer, but had to wait for it to cool down a bit because Brian has to crawl around in the attic to install the cabling for the cameras and it's really hot up there.

So, we (when I say "we", I mean Brian--as this was mostly a one-man job) got the outlet for the DVR installed, along with two of the interior cameras. We have two interior cameras to go (which should be fairly straightforward) and four exterior cameras (which should be a total pain in the ass). Not sure when all of this is going to get done, but we'll just have to chip away at it on the weekends (weather permitting for the exterior cameras) until it's done.

Thursday, October 25

day off

This looked to be one of the last nice days of the year, so I took the day off in order to wrap up some things outside. I washed both motorcycles and both cars (I had to run to the office after lunch to swap vehicles) and touched up the rear bumper on my Highlander with some automotive spray paint (primer, paint and clear coat if you want to get specific). In between coats of paint, I raked all of the leaves in the back yard and put them in the compost pile.

After lunch, I took a well-deserved nap (yet I am still tired--I guess manual labor does not agree with me). After the nap, I went back outside and cleaned out the shed (so that we can put the motorcycles away before the big snow storm hits next week) and I rerouted two of our downspouts, one of which was connected to the sewer system and the other of which was connected directly to my rain barrel--I added a diverter to it so that when the rain barrel is full, the water will go through the downspout instead of draining through the overflow tube on the rain barrel. Nothing but fun for me today.

The rest of the evening, I'm just going to sit on the couch and watch tv, then read. Oh, and have a drink.

Wednesday, October 24

moment of truth

Another one from Lisa Scottoline's Bennie Rosato series. However, Bennie Rosato was mysteriously missing from this book. Instead, the story centered around one of her associates, Mary DiNunzio. It was a pretty good book--it was about a man who confesses to his wife's murder because he thought his daughter committed the crime and he was trying to protect her. But things aren't as they seem. Dun-dun-dun!

Saturday, October 20

machete

This movie started as a fake movie trailer for the Grindhouse films. Apparently the trailer garnered enough interested that the director decided to turn it into a movie. It was definitely entertaining, though not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, the violence was so extreme, it was almost comical in nature. I will definitely watch the upcoming sequel, Machete Kills.

Thursday, October 18

wishing for winter

I am so sick of all of the roadwork that has been going on all spring and summer that I'm actually looking forward to winter this year, just so I can get from point A to point B without having to take a detour.

The worst of it is the sewer line project they are doing in Ferndale. Single lane roads were the norm all summer, but they've taken it a step further and the intersection at Goucher and Franklin Streets has been closed for a couple of weeks. There's a way around that, too, but even it was closed earlier this week. So, instead, we've been driving past the hospital (which always has a lot of traffic) to get to work. The project was supposed to be done by now, but yet it isn't.

Plus, up by our house, they are putting in sidewalks along Goucher Street. Again with the single lane roads. It wasn't too bad until last week when they started working at the end of our street. This project isn't supposed to be done until next month, but I think it might finish up before the Ferndale one does.

Here's to winter!

Monday, October 15

no naps for the busy

Sunday was a busy day. I started off the morning with a run (Did I mention I'm running now? It's not very far--I just go around the block twice, which is one mile, and I'm doing more walking than running at this point but it's a start). Later in the morning, Brian and I got our flu shots. (And now my shoulder is killing me. Thanks, flu shot!) We also hit Ace Hardware to pick up some parts for the afternoon's rental improvement project.

The weather was nice yesterday afternoon, so I took the opportunity to clean out the garden and plant the garlic while Brian was at band practice. After that, it would have been a great day for a motorcycle ride, but we had to go to our rental property to take care of a few minor issues. Seeing that our motorcycles don't pay us hundreds of dollars a month, sometimes other things have to take precedence. 

The evening was topped off with the season three opener for The Walking Dead. And, a store-bought bottle of zinfandel. Plus, the Steelers didn't lose. All in all, not a bad day.

Sunday, October 14

juliet

We finally got to meet our niece Juliet yesterday. She's nearly three months old now and is a sweetie. Brian's sister and the kids came in for the weekend so my in-laws had a family get-together yesterday afternoon/evening. We got to see some of Brian's relatives that we haven't seen in a while, so it was good to get caught up with everyone. Jake ended up staying the night. It's nice that he gets to hang out with his cousins frequently even though they all--with the exception of Erika--live in NY.

Saturday, October 13

the cabin in the woods

I don't always watch horror movies, but when I do, I watch them in October. 

I'm not a big horror fan, but it only seems appropriate to watch some horror movies around Halloween. We watched this movie last night and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. But, this is not your typical horror movie. For one, it had some really funny lines going on throughout the movie--I like a non-comedy with some humor. And, the main twist (leading up to the end of the story) was quite good--you'll never see it coming. I am less enamored with the very end, but I guess it works. Also, if you are going to watch this do not research it first--that will ruin the surprises (and there are a few).

Sunday, October 7

paranormal activity 3

Much like the first two movies in the series, this was fun to watch. Though, I am sensing a trend here--all of the movies are basically the same (people videotaping what goes on at their house; main characters dying at the end; etc.). Still, pretty creepy. We'll be watching Paranormal Activity 4 once it comes out on DVD.

Thursday, October 4

winterize

The leaves are starting to fall (in particular, into the pond), so I spent today's last 30 minutes of daylight covering the pond with netting. The weather has been decent, so I haven't turned off the pump yet, but given the cooler extended forecast, that will be happening soon. 

I still have a few things that need to be done outside, but it's getting difficult to accomplish anything during the week since it's getting dark so early. Hopefully I will be able to catch a half decent day one of the remaining weekends in October, though things aren't looking good for this weekend.

Sunday, September 30

seafood lover

Last night we went to Red Lobster for supper. This is notable only because we rarely eat out (sure, we grab a pizza or a sub on occasion, but as far as sit-down meals go, it's a rare occurrence). Brian's parents bought us a Red Lobster gift card so this gave us an excuse to go out for a meal. Red Lobster was surprisingly crowded. Not sure if it's always that crowded--the last time we went there it was for lunch and we were practically the only people there. There were a bunch of kids going out for homecoming, so that probably attributed to our wait. But, it's good to see people spending some money. Maybe the economy is recovering.

deadlocked

This was the next-to-last book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. It was not well-reviewed on Amazon, so I was a little apprehensive to read it. The book was ok, but I will agree with the reviewers on one point--not much happened in the story. It was full of filler. Sure, one major point was made, but it was a pretty weak storyline at that. Also, there wasn't much dialog going on from the other characters--it seemed like the whole story was dominated by Sookie. Sure, she is the main character, but she's not the only character...

Saturday, September 29

the grey

This was a movie about a bunch of Alaskan oil workers whose plane crashes in the middle of nowhere and the survivors are left to deal with a pack of wolves that is tracking them. For what it was, it was pretty good. But, I thought the movie would have been more effective had they used the wolves as more of a psychological element rather than how they did because the wolves were very fake-looking and, due to this, it took away from the story.

Tuesday, September 25

real steel

This was not exactly my kind of movie, but for what it was, it was good. It had some nice special effects. Not much of a plot, really. Jake enjoyed it, so that's all that matters.

Monday, September 24

gone fishin'

The three of us took a quick fishing trip to Yellow Creek State Park on Saturday morning. It was a nice day for fishing. Unfortunately we didn't catch anything--the fish were not biting. This was the only other time I went fishing other than our vacation. I was hoping to get out more, but it seems like we're always busy doing something. Jake and Brian at least got out one other time (at the beginning of September with my Dad).

Seeing that we're planning on vacationing at the same place next year, I'll be getting my fishing license again in 2013.

Wednesday, September 19

new germany festival

I've been thinking about doing some craft shows for Everyone Drinks. This would be down the road because I don't have enough inventory to do one at this time. So, I mentioned to my mom that I'm going to be checking out some craft shows over the next year in order to find out which ones would be good to attend and she suggested that we go to the New Germany Festival of Arts & Crafts. We did just that over the weekend.

Some things to note...there were a lot of people there, but I didn't see a lot of people actually making purchases. There were some crafters there with exceptional work; quite a number with good work; and more than a few with shoddy work. The stuff I sell is definitely unique--there were a couple of related items for sale, but no one strictly selling booze-related items.

This was a two day festival, so I don't know that I want to jump into something like that for my first show (and it's not cheap to attend, either). I would prefer to try a one-day event and see how that goes. There will be plenty of other shows to check out in 2013.

Tuesday, September 18

the proposal

The three of us watched this movie over the weekend. It was an ok comedy. While the ending was quite predictable, it was still hard to believe (I did not feel that the actors had very good chemistry). Betty White was kind of funny, though. I love Betty White!

Sunday, September 16

vineyard

It's official--we now have a vineyard. My parents were in the Finger Lakes region last week and they brought me home five Riesling grape vines. I wasn't sure where to put them at first as we are running out of real estate at an alarming rate, but I decided the myrtle patch on the side of the house would be the perfect location. It's guaranteed to have crappy soil (which grapes like) and is in full sun (which grapes also like). Hopefully they will survive the winter.

Tuesday, September 11

the descendants

This was an ok movie. I liked it well enough, but unfortunately, it was too depressing for Brian. Had I known that it was going to be depressing, I wouldn't have suggested that he watch it. That said, it did not end on a depressing note. (I hate when depressing movies end in a depressing manner. For example, Clint Eastwood movies.) Luckily for him, we're watching The Proposal this weekend, so it shouldn't offend his sensitivities.

Monday, September 10

wedding

One of Brian's high school friends had a beach wedding last week. The reception for it was yesterday at the Imperial Ballroom in Ebensburg. It was a nice, low-key affair. Brian gave the toast or his "speech" (as many people there called it). We had to leave a little early as it was a school night for Jake, but most of the festivities were wrapping up by that point anyway.

Sunday, September 9

final appeal

Good thing for books and movies, otherwise I wouldn't have anything to blog about. It seems like it was a busy summer, but I don't feel like we really did anything. We did almost zero entertaining this year. And, with the exception of the bathroom remodel at our rental, we've been staying away from that kind of work in the summer. I did do a good job keeping up with my weeding tasks, so apparently that's what I did this summer. I also canned and froze a bunch of stuff (and am not done yet).

That said, I finished this book yesterday. It was another one from Lisa Scottoline. It was all right, but nothing to write home about. This was one of her older works (I like her newer stuff better). Scottoline writes legal thrillers, by the way. 

I did have some motivation to finish it up as the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel arrived at the end of last week. Though that book did not get good reviews on Amazon, so who knows how that one's going to turn out? Check back in a week or so to find out.

Saturday, September 1

ethnic fest

We went to the Ethnic Fest yesterday to get our pierogi fix from St. Mary's church. They were delicious as usual. There weren't any good bands playing while we were there so we weren't down there very long, but we did manage to run into a couple of people we knew. It seemed like they had a pretty good turnout this year. Hopefully today's rain didn't put a damper on things.

american reunion

This was probably my least favorite of the American Pie sequels, which is not to say it wasn't funny--there were some good one-liners, but I don't think it was as good as the other movies in the series (of course, I can't really remember much about the previous movies at this point, but apparently I really liked American Wedding). Overall, it went well with my Margarita.

Thursday, August 30

fall planting


I planted my fall garden in one of the raised beds Jake made for me in the spring. I bought hoops for it for when the weather turns cooler. I installed them and put summer-weight fabric on it. I figure it'll keep the birds and chipmunks from stealing the seeds. I will put a heavier fabric on whenever it cools off.

I put in bunching onions, mesclun, carrots, spinach, beets, swiss chard, radishes and beans. Some of these things I've planted in the fall before, but some are new. I just keep trying stuff to see what works. I'm hoping to be harvesting well into November this year--that would be awesome.

Monday, August 27

getting darker

This time of the year is always bittersweet. While there's still plenty of time to garden (especially since I'm planting a fall garden this year), as it gets darker earlier, there's less and less time each day that I can enjoy the outside.

The good news is that I can finally get some stuff done around the house. Not that I don't get stuff done in the summer--it's just a struggle. I've come to the conclusion that I really need to hire someone to clean my house. Because if there's one thing I don't like to do, it's clean. Plus it takes a lot of time that could be better spent elsewhere. Unfortunately, with the dogs (not that I'm naming names--Buster!), I don't see how that will happen. There's just nowhere to put them when someone is here so that would probably be more trouble than it's worth. Though Brian did take Buster to the shop a few times the other week and Buster was a little angel down there. This could work out on a number of levels--Buster would be out of everyone's hair and Brian would have to work on woodworking projects. Hmm.

Monday, August 20

red dawn

Brian thought Jake might like this movie (you know, because it had a lot of guns and stuff), so we gave it a watch last weekend. Despite the movie being popular when I was a teenager, I'd never seen it before (mostly because I wasn't a teenage boy). It was ok, but Brian and Jake really liked it. I hear they're doing a remake of it. Despite the fact that the remake stars Chris Hemsworth, I don't think I'll be watching it.

Saturday, August 18

sail

This wasn't bad for one of those co-authored James Patterson novels. It was a quick read (as are most Patterson novels) and sure, it had some ridiculous things going on in the plot, but I guess everything can't be a literary masterpiece.

Thursday, August 16

the end

I started removing stuff from the garden today, so this officially marks the beginning of the end of summer. And, quite a bit earlier than usual, at that. This was a weird gardening season--the spring was so warm and the summer started off so hot, but now the weather is getting cooler (at night, anyway) and the plants are dying. That said, it was a pretty good year. I'm pretty happy with my vegetable yields this year. Sure, there are always things that could go better, but overall, it was pretty good. I picked quite a few tomatoes this evening, and they will be getting canned in one form or another this weekend. And I have a lot more out there, so I'm hoping to do a few batches of sauce and maybe even some straight-up canned tomatoes.

I already have some plants growing for this year's fall gardening experiment. And, I'm going to put in a mini hoop house and plant even more stuff once I clear out the raised beds. My hope is to be harvesting veggies into November. We'll see...

Saturday, August 11

bathroom project: done













As promised, here's the photo of the completed tub surround. Unfortunately, I do not have a 'before' shot, but everything was tiled previously and the window ledge ran the whole way to the right wall of the shower.

The biggest challenge of this project was the window ledge. While they do sell window ledge kits for showers, none would fit in this one because it was too deep. So, the guy at Home Depot suggested using plastic lumber. It seems to have worked out pretty well. We used the same type of molding for around the edges of the surround.

This project has inspired me to schedule the 3rd and final bathroom remodel of our house. Well, that, and the fact that it's awfully crowded in our tiny bathroom when everyone's getting ready in the morning.

On the top floor of our house, we have a powder room. The room is pretty large for just a powder room so I think we can squeeze in a shower up there. One issue is that we will have to hire a plumber to rough in all of the plumbing since stuff will need to be moved and added. We shall do a feasibility study on this soon (i.e. get an estimate). Another issue is that we have a slanted ceiling up there so we're going to have to get a custom shower door made. The rest of the work we can do ourselves, though.

Friday, August 10

the queen of bedlam

This was the second book in Robert McCammon's Matthew Corbett series. And, much like the first book, this one was excellent. Also, like the first book, this one took me a couple of hundred pages before I was committed, but once I got into it, there was no stopping me.

The best thing about this series is that there are at least two more books in it. (I'm not sure if he's writing a 5th, but I sure hope so.)

Highly recommended.

bathroom project: day 7

We're done! We finished the caulking and cleanup this evening--it only took about an hour. Jake helped, too, so that sped things up a bit. I will post a picture tomorrow as we're going to run over there in the morning and take one final look at it.

Thursday, August 9

bathroom project: day 6

Ok, so we weren't able to finish up everything this evening. Such is the story of my life. Brian did get all of the new plumbing fixtures installed as well as the remaining trim, so at least we can check those off the list. I finished about half of the caulking (there's so much to caulk!). And, we have at least half of the clean up done. So, I guess we will finish tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to getting back to my regularly scheduled tasking.

Wednesday, August 8

bathroom project: day 5

Things are back on track. Everything looked good this evening, so we were able to get the windowsill and all of the trim (except 4 pieces which couldn't be measured for until everything else was installed). So, tomorrow, we just need to install those last 4 pieces of trim, caulk everything, install the new plumbing fixtures and clean up.

Tuesday, August 7

bathroom project: day 4

And, just like that, we're behind again. We worked from home this morning and went to our rental property after lunch. There were a couple of spots on the surround that needed to be re-glued so we did that first. We also ran to Home Depot to pick up some more supplies (mostly trim). After that, Brian cut the pieces for the windowsill and we went back over there after supper to see if everything was going to fit. We need to wait for the tub surround adhesive that was applied today to finish curing before we install the windowsill, so that's on hold until tomorrow. It's only Tuesday, but it feels like we're running out of time already. I'm hoping that I will have a different outlook tomorrow.

Monday, August 6

bathroom project: day 3

Today was the big day. We both took off work in order to put in a long day on the project. The messed up plywood was replaced and we also lined the whole surround area with quarter-inch plywood--we had some concerns about the new adhesive sticking to the leftover glue residue from the tiles, so the plywood will remedy that. Brian also got the window boxed in. Then, after cutting out the plumbing holes and the giant hole for the window, we installed the tub surround. It looked pretty good when we left. We had to put bracing up in order to hold everything in place--hopefully that will hold up until tomorrow or we're screwed.

So, assuming everything is ok with that, all of the hard stuff is done. There's still a bit of work to do, but we should easily be able to finish it up by the end of the week. Since we're back on track, we're only going to take the afternoon off tomorrow. We should be in pretty good shape by the end of the day tomorrow (fingers crossed).

Sunday, August 5

bathroom project: day 2

We only had a little bit of time to work on the bathroom today because we had my cousin and her family over for a cookout this evening (which was way more fun than working on the bathroom, let me tell you).

After further inspection, we decided to remove and replace some of the plywood that was around the tub--it just had too much water damage. We managed to remove the plywood, but we didn't have a chance to buy the new stuff yet. Brian also built the framing for the window that we're boxing in. For whatever reason, there was a 4 foot ledge beneath the window. We're going to make the ledge window-size in order to cut down on potential water issues. 

At this point, we're definitely behind where we'd like to be, but we're taking tomorrow (and maybe Tuesday) off work and we're going to be dedicating all of tomorrow to working on the project, so that should put us in good shape (I hope).

Saturday, August 4

bathroom project: day 1

The bathroom at our rental property has been in dire need of a tub surround since we purchased it. Even though the tub area was tiled, it was never meant to have a shower in it (thanks, people who owned the house before us, we really appreciate you installing that shower head!), so the walls and the area around the window were all squishy. Squishy is not typically a good thing when you are talking about a tub.

We finally bit the bullet and decided to install a fiberglass tub surround. This evening, we removed all of the tiles from the shower area, along with the rotted wood beneath them. This was a rewarding experience--there's nothing I'd rather do that remove ceramic tiles from a wall. The end result was worse than I hoped for, yet better than I expected. I guess you can't ask for more than that.

Saturday, July 28

harry potter and the deathly hallows: part ii

This was definitely my favorite movie of the series (and not just because it was the last one). It was quite good. After last week's setup, we were back to the action in this film. I loved how this story ended. I also liked how the movies stayed true to the books--that doesn't happen very often.

Monday, July 23

harry potter and the deathly hallows: part i

This was probably my least favorite Harry Potter movie so far. But, that's because they took the last book and split it into two movies. I realize this had to be done due to the length of the story, but it made for a weak first half in my opinion. The other negative about this film was it was darker than the others and didn't have as many cool special effects due to the storyline. But, I'm expecting good things from the final film now that the plot has been set.

Sunday, July 22

forest county

For vacation this year, we headed north to Forest County, Pennsylvania. It was a quick trip of about two hours, but it seemed like we were a world away from everything (mainly due to not having cell, internet or tv reception). We rented a little cabin called The Storybook Cabin for the week (5 nights, actually). And, I can't remember ever being on a more relaxing vacation than this one. 

While there were other cabins in the area, no one else was around (perhaps they were only used as a weekend retreat by their owners?) so we got a good taste of what it would be like to live in the country, which we would like to do someday. I have to say, I really liked the seclusion. 

The cabin was pet friendly, so we took Alice with us. I have never seen that dog so happy. She was off-lead most of the time and behaved very well. Now I cannot imagine vacationing without one of the dogs.

Our days pretty much went like this: get up, eat breakfast, do something, eat lunch, relax/read/nap at the cabin, do something else, eat supper, fish at the river or board games, campfire (with campfire snacks!) and then read before retiring for the night.

Activities for the week included fishing, canoeing/kayaking on the Clarion River, Cook Forest State Park (in particular we visited the Forest Cathedral area and the fire tower), Double Diamond Deer Ranch, Forest County Visitors Center, Sherman Memorial Lighthouse, the Tionesta Lake and Buzzard Swamp. There's a whole lot more to do up there, but we kept the pace pretty slow.

Fishing on the river wasn't good (it was all fished out), so we went to Buzzard Swamp (which is part of the Allegheny National Forest) to do some fishing. We only caught little fish there, but at least we caught something. That was my first time fishing since I was a teenager. Given what we had to pay for our fishing licenses, I imagine I will be doing some more fishing this year. Next year (yes, we are going back) we're going to try our luck at Tionesta Lake.

We ate most of our meals at the cabin. Brian and Jacob came up with a nice menu for the week. We ate lunch out most of the week--this gave us a chance to drive to Brookville, where there is cell reception, and check our emails and phone messages.

This definitely ranks as one of our best vacations ever. Who would have thought that we could experience that just two hours from our house?

Saturday, July 21

the ides of march

We watched this movie last weekend--I totally forgot to blog about it. Starring Ryan Gosling and George Clooney, this was a tight political thriller. I've always been interested in politics, so it was pretty interesting to see what goes on behind a political campaign. Plus, you know, it had Ryan Gosling and George Clooney. Worth watching.

Saturday, July 14

garden

So far, the garden has been producing nicely. This year, for the first time ever, I picked some large onions and beets. Normally both run small. I don't mind it for the beets so much, but tiny onions are a pain to deal with. I'm not sure what's the cause for the large vegetables--all I can figure is that it has something to do with the early spring because I planted everything at the same time of the year that I usually do.

No red tomatoes yet, but the plants look great. I should have a good crop this year. Due to the blight problem, I bought some fungicidal spray for the plants. I've only sprayed once so far. I'm trying to do it the least amount possible since I don't like using stuff like this, even if it is approved for organic gardening. Blight is dependent upon the weather (cool, rainy weather). I sprayed during one of the cooler times, but it's been pretty hot and dry since then so I haven't bothered to do it again (yet). 

I've been canning and freezing some things, too, but that won't get into full swing until more things start to ripen. I'm trying to stay away from novelty items this year (pickled butternut squash, anyone?) and just stick to things that I can really use. 

Tuesday, July 10

cross fire

I was in the mood for a quick read and this did the trick. I always enjoy James Patterson novels whenever I haven't read one in a while, as was the case with this book. It seems like his older books had a little more substance to them, but maybe I'm remembering wrong. At any rate, it was a good read.

Wednesday, July 4

google chrome

Firefox, my browser of choice for some time, had been acting up in recent months--it was hogging all of the RAM on my laptop and running slowly. A reboot of Firefox would fix the issue, but having to reboot several times a day was an annoyance. 

During all of this, I heard that Google Chrome topped IE as the most popular browser, so I thought I'd give it a try (again--as I tried it when it first came out, but didn't care for it). Well, I am converted this time. In general there's not anything I don't like about it--it has a clean interface and is super fast. The only negative is that one of the toolbars I use, the Web Developer toolbar, is missing some features that I need. So, I still need to use Firefox when I want to access these tools. I still see no need for IE beyond testing websites to make sure they render correctly in it (which I something I do at work, not as a hobby). 

Sunday, July 1

contagion

I was hoping for a little more "apocalypse" in this movie (there was some of that, though not too much), but it was still interesting to watch how quickly a global pandemic can occur. Jake is my new movie-watching partner and he liked it, too.

Saturday, June 30

smarter

In anticipation of disconnecting our home phone later this summer (actually, I'm going to try to port it to Google Voice for voicemail purposes), Jake and I got smartphones (Brian already has one for work). While having a smartphone is more of a luxury than a necessity, I do really like it. In fact, it paid off for the first time yesterday while we were at family day at Boy Scout camp. Two of the people there had ridden motorcycles to the event (Brian being one of them). I checked the radar at one point only to find out that it was going to be storming soon (despite the fact that the forecast called for nice weather). It was decided to pack up camp and leave while the weather was still ok. So, it will definitely come in handy when we are on our bikes.

And, I've found that I fool around a lot less on the computer since I got the phone. I normally have my computer on at all times because I use TeuxDeux for my "to do" list and I'm constantly referring to it to find out what needs to be done next. Also, Google Calendar. Since the smartphone is less convenient for internet browsing, I tend to do the bare minimum on it and am not tempted by the internets as much.

Tuesday, June 26

the debt

This was a nice little spy thriller. It was a little confusing at first and that was made even more complicated because I wasn't totally paying attention--I actually had to go back to the beginning of the movie at one point because I didn't know what was going on.

That said, the reason the movie was confusing was that it had two points in time going on (one from the 1990s and one 30 years prior). So, of course, there were different actors playing the same parts and the young actors didn't really look anything like their older counterparts, hence the confusion.

Once you get that figured out, it was quite entertaining. A couple of nice twists, too.

Sunday, June 24

thunder 2012

This year Brian wanted to spend more time riding and checking out the other venues, so we did just that. To start, we took off Thursday and Friday afternoons. On Thursday afternoon we went for a ride and then hit Wheels and Wings in Ebensburg in the evening. On Friday, we went downtown in the afternoon, went for a ride after supper and then went to Windber Rumbles later in the evening. Saturday we went for a ride (to the Humane Society of Somerset County's open house--nice country roads!) and then went downtown again in the evening. We were not able to partake in any Thunder-related events today due to a prior commitment, though we normally don't do anything on Sunday, anyway (we might have tried to squeeze in a ride, though).

Wheels and Wings was ok. Ebensburg was packed and we had to stand in line forever to get some wings. Windber Rumbles seemed a little cliquey. Everyone was standing around talking to each other, but we didn't run into anyone we knew, so we weren't there too long as there wasn't much else going on at that moment. Downtown was the same as always--not overly crowded during the day, but packed in the evening. 

In retrospect, I would have rather spent more time downtown. Perhaps hitting just one of the other venues would've been enough. I guess there's always next year...

Wednesday, June 20

world war z

I heard of this book and was intrigued, given my interest in zombies. When I heard that Brad Pitt was starring in the film (to be released in 2013), my interest was piqued further. I figured it would tide me over until the next season of The Walking Dead.

Unfortunately, I did not like this book at all. It was an interesting concept--it told the stories of various people who survived the zombie war. But, each story was just that--a single short story. None of the stories tied together. And, other than the narrator, there weren't any recurring characters. The narrator was a UN employee who went around the world interviewing people after the conflict was over. The movie sounds a little more interesting in that the main character is going around the world trying to prevent the zombie apocalypse, so I'll probably still check it out even though I did not enjoy the book. Plus, it has Brad Pitt.

Sunday, June 17

friends with benefits

This. This is what I want to see when I watch a comedy. This is the funniest movie I've seen since the 40 Year Old Virgin. And, to think that I almost didn't watch it due to Justin Timberlake being one of the main characters (normally he annoys me, but he was great in this role). Sure, the movie had a couple of slow moments, but overall it was nonstop laughs. Brian even gave it his highest rating--two eyes open.

Wednesday, June 13

shame

For an NC-17 rated film, this sure was a snoozefest. It was a story about a guy who was a sex addict. The story really didn't have much of an ending. I think I've had my fill of indie films for the year. Time to watch some blockbusters.

Monday, June 11

pool party

Jake had his annual birthday pool party yesterday. It was a nice day for swimming, but not quite as nice if you were sitting in the hot sun all afternoon. I don't know what it is about the sun, but it exhausts me even if I'm not doing anything. But, the kids had a great time and everyone was well-behaved, so we'll call it a winner.

Saturday, June 9

harry potter and the order of the phoenix

Another day, another Harry Potter movie. This one was less fun than the previous movies, but the special effects were just as dazzling. Three to go...

Tuesday, June 5

birthday

While my official birthday might be today, we did our bulk of celebrating over the weekend. Friday night was the Polka Fest. We almost didn't make it there due to the storm, but things let up and I was able to get my pierogi fix. On Saturday we had a Family Movie Night and watched The Muppets. And, on Sunday, Brian grilled up a delicious lunch and we ate on the patio. I got an awesome hammock for my birthday, but have not had an opportunity to give it a good test. Brian did get it hooked up on Sunday night but it was a bit too cold to be laying around outside.

I'm off work today due to a new "birthdays off" policy we implemented at Prime Design Solutions for 2012. Sometimes it pays to be a policymaker. I have nothing special planned for the day, though. I'm just getting caught up with some things that I have been putting off. But it should be a relaxing day nonetheless.

Sunday, June 3

the muppets

Last night, we had The Muppets and a Margarita night, which is not normally a combination you see in the wild. The movie was ok--it had a little too much singing and dancing for my tastes, though. And, I couldn't get past the fact that Kermit didn't sound like Kermit. I mean I've heard better impressions of Kermit than how he sounded in the movie. Other than that it was nice to see the Muppets again.

Saturday, June 2

the weather

I know you're not supposed to blog about the weather, but I have a valid reason for doing so as it affects my garden. Due to the extreme heat we had at the end of May, my broccoli started to bolt already and the heads on it are tiny. This has been the only negative thus far, though.

The tomatoes look pretty good--they love the heat (of course, now it's cold outside--go figure). I tried tomato teepees in the past and didn't get any tangible results from them beyond being able to put my tomatoes out a couple of weeks early. But, this year, I'm going to leave them out all year (rather than removing them when the weather is nice) to see if that makes a difference. It will definitely keep the ground around them warmer. We'll see what happens. At this point, the teepee plants are bigger than the non-teepee plants and have more flowers. 

Everything else looks pretty good. I still have to plant some cukes--something ate my plants and now a chipmunk eats the seeds every time I try to replant. Worst case, I'll need to buy some plants. I also need to plant pole beans. Jake talked me into doing the "Three Sisters" gardening thing (like the Indians did, where you plant corn, beans, and squash together). I have the corn and squash planted and now I'm waiting for the corn to grow a little before I plant the beans (as the beans will grow up the corn stalks).

A plus side to the nice spring weather we had is that the CSA is starting up a week early this year as they have produce available already!

Sunday, May 27

luncheon

The guys (Jake, Brian, my dad and Brian's dad) all went to Gettysburg yesterday to check out a Civil War gun display at one of the museums. Since the guys shouldn't be the only ones to have fun, I had the moms over for lunch. It was a pretty warm afternoon, but not too bad if you were just sitting. I did up some food on the grill and we had a nice lunch on the patio.

hall pass

This movie was way funnier than I had anticipated. Definitely one of the better comedies that I have seen in recent days. Don't get me wrong, the comedy was completely crass and who's going to give their husband a "hall pass" anyway? But if you can get past the plot and you're into juvenile humor, you will probably like this film.

Tuesday, May 22

birthday dinner

My Mom had the annual birthday dinner for my brother and me on Sunday. This dinner historically occurs on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, but had to be moved up a week this year for whatever reason. We had a delicious Thanksgiving-themed dinner (thanks to my brother's love of turkey and my love of stuffing). I had to bring my dessert home, though, because I was too stuffed--probably from all of the stuffing! Plus, there were presents! It was a nice afternoon.

Sunday, May 20

harry potter and the goblet of fire

Another Harry Potter movie. What can I say? It was just as good as the others, though I have a feeling I'm going to be Harry Pottered out by the time we're done with this series of movies. Four to go.

Saturday, May 19

it's garden time!

It's only mid-May and my garden looks awesome already. Thanks to the warm weather, everything but the peppers are planted. And, I'm sure they will be in within the next week. We've happily been eating lettuce, radishes and green onions so far. Every year I think it's going to be the best year ever, but this might just be the year!

Wednesday, May 16

take shelter

This movie was interesting at the beginning. It was about this guy who was having nightmares about protecting his family. Storms were involved in the dreams. Eventually, this started spilling over into his waking hours. But this movie, like so many others, had an ending that could be interpreted in a number of ways. I'm really getting sick of watching movies like this. How about if someone out there makes a movie that actually has an ending? Is that too much to ask for?

Monday, May 14

the hunger games (movie)

I took Jake and his friend to see The Hunger Games on Saturday night. It was great. Of course, some things were missing from the movie, but movies are rarely as good as the book. And, Jennifer Lawrence was great--she is one excellent actress. I'm looking forward to seeing more from her in the future. We've been wanting to see the movie ever since we read the books, but were waiting for it to come to the Westwood Plaza because that's the only place (other than my living room) that I will watch a movie.

This coincided nicely with Jake's birthday weekend. Friday night, we did a Family Movie Night and Sunday, we had a Mother's Day/Jake's birthday party.

Saturday, May 12

the wind through the keyhole

Another Dark Tower book from Stephen King--I didn't think that was ever going to happen. This story actually falls between books 4 and 5 of the series. The book didn't really shed much light on the overall story, but it was still an enjoyable read--quite an interesting little tale. While you wouldn't necessarily have to have read the Dark Tower series to enjoy this story, it is recommended (if only because it's awesome).

city slickers

Surprisingly, this movie held up better than most. It was actually funny and enjoyable to watch. I was not expecting that.

Wednesday, May 9

hesher

This movie starred an almost unrecognizable Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors) as a heavy metal dude, who is not invited, but moves in with a family who is grieving over the loss of the wife/mother. There is some speculation that this movie had a Fight Club-esque thing going on in it, but there's no real indication of that in the movie. Though, I have to admit, that would definitely make it more interesting.

Saturday, May 5

harry potter and the prisoner of azkaban

Jake and I watched this last night. We both liked it. I particularly liked how they did the dementors--they were different than I pictured when I read the book, but very effective and creepier in the movie.

Friday, May 4

the vendetta defense

This book was ok, but the plot was a bit of a stretch. I have a stack of this author's books to read, so I hope the next one is better. This was from the series that I usually enjoy, but one of the side characters was the main character in this one. That wasn't so much the problem as the plot. Nevertheless I had to wrap it up because the new Stephen King book was waiting in the wings.

Wednesday, May 2

i made cheese!

In my never-ending quest to learn how to do everything, I made hard cheese last weekend (previously, I have made mozzarella and ricotta). Brian helped, too. It was pretty fun, but it was a very long process (partly because this was our first attempt, but mostly because cheese takes a long time to make). We made a farmhouse cheddar, which is the recommended first hard cheese due its shorter aging process and ease of process.

The first step was to heat the milk. This could not be done on the stove, so we put the cheese pot in a larger pot filled with hot water.
Once it got up to temperature, we added a cheese starter culture and ripened the milk for 45 minutes. Next we added rennet (which is an enzyme that causes milk to separate into curds and whey). Again, the milk had to sit 45 minutes. Once the curds set, I cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.
Next, the curds had to be cooked--they were heated slowly until the temperature reached 100 degrees. This process pulls the excess whey from the curds.
After resting for 5 minutes, the whey was drained from the curds and the curds were tied up in a piece of cheesecloth and left to drain for one hour.
After this the curds were broken up into pieces and salted.
Then they were put into the cheese mold and pressed with increasing amounts of weight. The first two pressings were at lower weights for shorter periods of time. The third pressing was at a high weight (50 pounds) for 12 hours. Also, check out the nifty cheese press Brian was kind enough to build for me.
After the pressing, you end up with something that sort of looks like cheese.
At this point, the cheese was air-dried at room temperature for a few days. Once the drying was completed, the cheese was waxed and put into aging.
As I do not have a cheese cave, I am aging my cheese in the fridge. This is not the recommended method, but I have no other way to do it. Since this cheese only has to age a month, this probably won't have too negative an effect on it. But, once I start making other kinds of cheese, I'm going to have to figure something out.

Stay tuned for next month, when I cut the cheese. Literally, not figuratively.

All supplies (and my cheese making recipe book) were purchased from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.

Sunday, April 29

the hangover: part ii

This was an ok comedy--it had some funny parts, but nothing hilarious. And, it was pretty much a rehash of the first movie (down to showing the photos of what happened during the closing credits). Here's to hoping there's not a third movie in the series.

Saturday, April 28

wine night

Last night we bottled two batches of wine. The first one was a German Traminer Spatlese and was quite good. It's been a while since we've made a German wine and I had forgotten how much I like them. The second one was a blend of muscat, symphony, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay. This, too, was good, albeit a bit too sweet. I think I messed up when I forgot to check the specific gravity at one point in the process. But, at least it tastes good--I was a bit worried about that.

I have two red kits to make. I need to get on that this week. The bad news is that I don't have anywhere to put them once they are bottled (the wine racks are full). The good news is that we're going to need to drink a lot of wine in order to make some room.

Wednesday, April 25

a better life

This was a good movie. It told the story of an illegal immigrant (played by the awesome Demian Bichir from Weeds) and his struggle for his son to have--wait for it--a better life. There wasn't a whole lot going on in the story so I don't want to give anything away by mentioning any of the plot points. But, if you like a good character study, this will do.

Saturday, April 21

drive

Despite the fact that this movie starred Ryan Gosling, it sucked. The dialog was horrible, the movie was slow (even though it clocked in around 1:40), the plot was stupid, and the soundtrack sucked. The only good thing about it was Bryan Cranston--I didn't even realize it was him until his 2nd scene. The last half hour of the movie was definitely more interesting than the first two-thirds of it, but not enough to redeem the film.

Tuesday, April 17

painting floors

Because there's nothing I'd rather do than paint, we decided to paint the floors of the music room, which is in our basement. We're on a mission to finish up the room. A few weeks ago we painted it, then Brian put up quarter round around the ceiling. Next, goes the door and floor trim and we'll be done. Here's the before and after:

Sunday, April 15

50/50

I rather liked this movie. Brian did, too (he even managed to stay awake for the entire thing despite doing manual labor for me all day). It was the story of a young man (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is diagnosed with cancer. Normally not the kind of movie you might want to watch, but it was a dramedy. So, where's the funny part come in? Well, mostly from Seth Rogen, who plays the best friend of the main character. This movie was one of the few instances where Seth Rogen didn't get on my nerves. Actually there wasn't anything about this movie that I didn't like.

Monday, April 9

ham pot pie

I made up a slow-cooker ham pot pie recipe, which we had for supper this evening. My Mom sent home a ham bone with us yesterday (along with some other delicious Easter leftovers), so I was trying to figure out something to do with it. It was pretty good and was made even better with homemade noodles. Yum!

Sunday, April 8

harry potter and the chamber of secrets

Jake and I watched the 2nd movie in the Harry Potter series last night. It's interesting to see how they pulled off all of the cool things from the book. So far, they've done an excellent job with the special effects. Much like with the first movie, I think I saw most of this one before. I'm looking forward to the later movies where this isn't the case.

Friday, April 6

on the loose

I let Lizzy out this afternoon and when I went to let her back in, both she and the tie-out cable were gone. Yikes! So Jake and I scoured the neighborhood and he found her (thank goodness) on the street that runs parallel to ours. The tie-out cable connection has since been reinforced.

Thursday, April 5

altoona curve

The three of us got to go to the opening night of the Altoona Curve tonight thanks to one of our employees winning the Curve's 2012 Opening Day T-Shirt contest (thanks, Katherine!). Not only did we get tickets to the game, but the tickets were for one of their luxury suites. Very nice. Most of the people she invited sat outside, but what's the point in that when you have a suite?!? I'm not a baseball fan, but if you're going to watch a game, this is definitely the way to go.

Saturday, March 31

buried

Who knew that Ryan Reynolds was a good actor? Certainly not me. This was quite an interesting movie. It was a story about a government contractor (Ryan Reynolds), working in Iraq, who is ambushed and buried alive in a coffin-like wooden box. The entire movie took place in said box. You wouldn't necessarily think this could possibly be interesting, but it was. Spoiler alert: it did not end well. When I told Brian the plot, he was not the least bit interested in watching, yet he caught almost all of the movie. And, while I wouldn't say he enjoyed it, it certainly caught his attention. Go figure.

Monday, March 26

u is for undertow

In case you didn't guess, this was another book from Sue Grafton's alphabet mystery series. I always enjoy her books, but I liked this one more than usual. I don't know if it's because I read a couple of crappy books before it or if this one was just that good, but I did like it.

The story was pretty complex, but I liked how things worked out in the end. The main character is a private investigator, so you see the story unfolding in the same way she does. Pretty interesting. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it was used and someone ripped out the last page--can you believe that?!? I had to look up the story on Wikipedia to find out one part of the storyline ended.

Sunday, March 25

breaker boys

The three of us went out to dinner with our friends Carol and Bob last night. Carol suggested meeting at a new restaurant in Colver called Breaker Boys. I was glad she did. The food was excellent. They have tons of specialty beers available (and at very good prices), too, so Brian got to branch out a little from the ordinary. Brian and I both had a traditional stromboli and we both brought half home for today's lunch. It was really good (and huge). Jake had an Italian panini, which he liked.

Best of all, it was nice catching up with Carol and Bob. While Carol and I do a pretty good job of keeping in touch through email and the phone, we don't get to see them very often, so it's always nice when we do manage to get together.

Saturday, March 24

harry potter and the sorcerer's stone

Jake used to have the first few Harry Potter movies on videotape, so I've seen bits and pieces of the first few movies in this series, but I never sat down and watched any of them in their entirety. Now that all of the  movies are out on DVD, Jake and I are going to watch them all.

I really enjoyed the books and it was cool to see how they pulled off some of the stuff in the movie. And, it's a good story to boot, so it will be a fun series to watch.

Thursday, March 22

charbroil red

After 10 years, it was time to toss the Weber. After replacing a number of parts on it throughout the years, the frame started rusting. I wasn't as thrilled with the Weber as I had expected to be, so we decided to try a different brand this time around. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, either, because it seems that grills don't last that long no matter what you spend.

I read about the Charbroil Red grill at one point and was intrigued. While they market it as an "infrared" grill it has more of an indirect heat thing going on (there's a large pan that sits above the burners, so the flames aren't directly cooking the food). I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, but so far I'm liking it just fine. Due to the indirect heat, it's excellent for roasts. And, I did some burgers on it last night and they were awesome as well. No flare-ups means no burnt meat. I guess it's a bit early in the grilling season for a review, but I've been giving it a workout for two weeks and I think I'm going to like it.

Monday, March 19

roku

I bought one of these nifty devices recently. I haven't had a lot of opportunities to use it, but Jake's been giving it a workout and he seems to really like it. We used to have cable tv at the office, but we cancelled it recently so I bought Netflix streaming so Jake had something to watch (on his iPad) while he is there. I figured I might as go one step further and get a Roku so we can stream stuff to our tv as well. The one negative thing I will say is that of the 30+ items in my Netflix queue, only three of them are available for streaming. There are a bunch of free channels available which I haven't had a chance to explore yet, but it looks like they might have some of the stuff I want to see, so that's a plus.

Given the fact that more and more things will be available through streaming in the future, I think this was a good investment to make. Now, if only I could cancel our cable tv at the house. Maybe someday...

Friday, March 16

texting...

...the new telegram.

I joined the revolution last year and finally started texting. This all happened when Jake got a phone. It was an easier and cheaper way to communicate with him. Telecommunications have definitely improved throughout the years--telegram, telephone, email, cell phones. But now it seems that texting is the most popular means of communication. I've heard that some from the younger generation don't even use email (gasp!). With the popularity of cell phones, the home phone is definitely phasing out. In fact, I have plans to get rid of ours this summer. But, still, I can't help thinking that we are regressing a bit by using texting so much. And, I don't think it's going to improve anyone's spelling or grammar.

Wednesday, March 14

jumping the gun

Along with everyone else, I have been loving the nice weather. Since the long term forecast is calling for more of the same, I decided to do some early gardening this year. For insurance, I put my cold frames in the garden (as nice as the weather has been, this probably wasn't even necessary). This evening, I planted scallions, radishes, mesclun, and spinach in them. I also put some onion sets in the ground.

In pond news, I removed the winter netting from the pond. I still need to hook up the pump and filter--that will be done within the next week. The fish all look good and there are a couple of babies in there that must've been born last summer. Seeing them was a nice surprise.

Saturday, March 10

look again

This book was ok--not as good as some of Scottoline's other books, but not as bad as the last one of hers that I read, either. The thing I disliked about the last two books I've read is that the dialog was off. It was to a lesser degree in this book, though. For example, one of the characters in this book was a 3-year-old boy. I just couldn't see a kid talking in the way he did in the book. While the book revolved around him, he wasn't really a main character. In the previous book I read, one of the main characters was from the inner-city. This character's dialog was totally unbelievable. This made the book difficult to read because, being a main character, there was a lot of this dialog throughout the book.

Saturday, March 3

mrs. doubtfire

Yet another movie from the past that did not hold up. Though, I have to say, it wasn't as bad as some of the other ones we have watched--at least it had a couple of funny parts. You could tell that Robin Williams was improvising throughout the movie. But, with a run time of around 2 hours, they definitely could've tightened things up a bit and made a better movie.

Tuesday, February 28

forgetting sarah marshall

Alas, Brian's Birthday Month of Comedies had to come to and end sooner or later. And, we ended on a positive note with this movie. He previously caught part of this movie on TV and wanted to rent it, so into the queue it went. It was a pretty good comedy. While it didn't have any "laugh till you cry" moments, it had enough funny stuff all around. In fact, the jokes were coming pretty fast--I probably missed a few.

The movie was about a guy whose girlfriend breaks up with him. In an attempt to get over her, he takes a trip to Hawaii. Unfortunately, she is also in Hawaii (staying at the same hotel, no less) with her new boyfriend (played by the always slimy Russell Brand). Hilarity ensues.

Friday, February 24

licensed to carry

Brian and I went to the courthouse yesterday and applied for (and received) our license to carry firearms. Interestingly, there were three other people there at the same time, doing the same thing. So, apparently just about everyone in Cambria County is packing heat. I was not expecting to have to wait in line to do this, but I guess that says something about the county we live in.

We also changed our voter registration from Democrat to independent. Given the gun thing, you probably thought I was going to say Republican, but I can assure you that will never happen.

While in town, we made a stop at the Cambria County Solid Waste Authority in order to drop off some items for recycling. Among other things, I had a boxful of CFL light bulbs. Those things don't last any longer than regular light bulbs and besides being more expensive, you can't even throw them in the garbage. Terrific.

Since we took the day off work to do all of this stuff, we treated ourselves to lunch at Everyday Gourmet & Fine Food Merchant. I've been wanting to go there since I first heard about it. We both had a soup and sandwich combo. My soup was quite good--French onion. The sandwich was good, too, but nothing special. It was a turkey, bacon, and Swiss. I will probably try something more adventurous if we go there again.

On our way home, we made a stop at the gun store in Richland and Brian bought a new gun (yay, tax refund!). We can hardly wait for the weather to break so we can go target shooting again.

Thursday, February 23

the art of racing in the rain

Brian bought me this book for Valentine's Day. It was quite good (despite being very sad throughout). The story was narrated by a dog named Enzo (yes, a dog--quite an insightful one at that) and was a super quick read (I completed it in 2 or 3 days).

Enzo was a believer in reincarnation. He believes that dogs are reincarnated as other dogs until they reach the point where they will become a human in their next reincarnation. This was the crux of the story.

This book was recommended to Brian by one of our clients. I have recommended it to Jacob, who is now reading it. I hope he enjoys the book as much as I did.

Tuesday, February 21

our idiot brother

I did not have this in my Netflix queue, but Brian wanted to see it, and since it's Brian's Birthday Month of Comedies, I felt obliged to add it.

That said, my original instincts were on target. It was a pretty boring movie. Brian fell asleep during it, but that is not necessarily a reliable way to judge a movie. It was not horrible by any means, but if a movie is a comedy, I expect it to be at least a little funny. This movie was a little funny, alright--very little.

Sunday, February 19

devil's corner

This was another book from one of my new favorite authors, Lisa Scottoline. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in this book (I guess they all can't be winners). The storyline and characters were just too unbelievable, even for fiction. Even so, it was a fairly quick read, though I did have to force myself to finish it--luckily I had a new book waiting in the wings and it gave me some motivation, even if the storyline didn't.

Thursday, February 16

birthday boy

Not only is it Brian's Birthday Month of Comedies, it's also Brian's Birthday Dinner Week, wherein Brian's birth is honored at three dinners. We started off the week with dinner at my parent's on Sunday. Next, up was his actual birthday dinner at our house (in which I prepared an awesome lasagna). And, we'll be ending the week with dinner at Brian's parent's on Saturday. I guess we could also refer to this week as "a vacation from our diet".

Sunday, February 12

crazy, stupid, love.

This was a pretty solid movie. While it was a comedy, it was more of a date-type movie, so it was a little less on the laughs than a typical comedy. And, it made me realize, the more I see of Ryan Gosling, the better.

Wednesday, February 8

crazy baby

Early yesterday morning, Buster was trying to get into our bed, so I kicked him out of the bedroom and went back to sleep. I heard a beeping noise coming from the living or dining room, but didn't think much of it at the time.

A little while later, Brian got up for work and woke me up to say that there was something wrong with Buster. Brian brought him into the bedroom and he was shaking like a leaf. It was not unlike when we have a bad thunderstorm. But the weather was just fine. We then wondered if he got into something that he shouldn't have, but we couldn't figure out what that would have been since our house is pretty much dog-proof at this point.

Buster wouldn't leave the bedroom, but I left it in order to investigate. While I was looking around, I heard the beeping noise again. It was our carbon monoxide detector, which was emitting a low battery warning. You might not know this about Buster, but he doesn't like beeping noises. This goes back to his puppyhood when Brian was trying to figure out the alarm system that we bought for the office and accidentally set it off a couple of times (we couldn't use the microwave for a week after this incident without Buster going nuts).

So, I replaced the battery in the carbon monoxide detector and, while Buster was still on alert, he was more or less ok at this point.

Fast-forward to today. I was working on my computer in the living room this afternoon and thought I heard a beep. I looked over at Buster and found out that he definitely heard a beep. I couldn't tell where it was coming from for a few minutes--it was the smoke detector in our family room. By this point Buster was shaking again and wouldn't move from the carpet by the door. He sat there for about 30 minutes (until the shaking stopped) and then moved to the dog bed.

Beep! Beep!

Monday, February 6

super bowl

We had our annual Super Bowl party last night. I like to do a food theme each year (either based on one of the teams playing or on the location of the game), so after the Steelers dropped out of the playoffs, I was rooting for food. I was really hoping San Francisco was going to be in it (not because I used to be a fan, but because Napa Valley would've been a great theme), but we ended up with the Giants and the Patriots. I wasn't about to make baked beans and clam chowder, so I stretched the idea a little and we went with an Italian theme for food (there are a lot of Italians in NJ/NY in case you didn't know).

This year, our guest list included various members of our family. Everyone shared in the food preparation duties so I didn't have to do that much, really. For whatever reason, I hardly watched any football this season, so last night was the first full game I saw. And, unbelievably, the Giants beat the Patriots (again) and it was a pretty decent game at that. All in all, a good evening.

Sunday, February 5

the money pit

We kicked off Brian's Birthday Month of Comedies with a Family Movie Night! How's that for a bunch of made up events? This was another one of those movies that did not hold up over time. It wasn't horrible, but just not that great. Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of PG rated comedies these days, so we're stuck with the "classics".

Tuesday, January 31

super "bowl"

In recent times, we've been having a mold issue on the wall in our basement bathroom. There was no plausible reason for the mold as the wall is completely above ground thanks to our sloped lot. The only thing I could figure was that the toilet was leaking. As it turns out, I was right.

We pulled the toilet on Saturday and found that the rubber seal that came with the toilet flange was warped and hardened. This was easy enough to remedy, but what about the wall? It was decided that we would paint the room since it would be easier to paint with the toilet out, rather than in.

So, paint we did. It didn't take too long as it is a small room, but we had to do a second coat on Sunday. I always hope one coat is going to do it, but it never seems to do the job.

We spent this evening cleaning the bathroom, so now it's all ready for our annual Super Bowl party on Sunday. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the bar.

Saturday, January 28

gran torino

Brian and I caught part of this movie on television a few months ago and wanted to see the rest, despite it being a Clint Eastwood film (I had just about all of the depression I could take from him after watching Mystic River and Changeling). While this movie also had a sad ending, it was the kind of movie I enjoyed watching.

Despite the overall tone of the movie, there was a surprising amount of funny dialog going on. I laughed more while watching this movie than I did for some recent comedies. In summary, this was what I would call a "good story". Well worth watching.

Friday, January 27

cleaning house

In an effort to keep up with the housecleaning, I started cleaning rooms on a schedule a few years ago.  I've been able to keep to it for the most part, but there was just something missing...

Brian came across this article recently. I was intrigued (because there's only one thing I like better than a schedule and that's a list). Normally, my cleaning tasks take longer than the 20 minutes of the article. Of course, I wasn't cleaning every day, either. But, I decided to give this a shot, so I broke down the tasks, made a list, and recruited Brian and Jake to help me with the work.

So far, so good. We're less than a week into it and the house looks better already. Plus, it's not a chore to devote 15-20 minutes a day to cleaning, though we'll see how I feel about that once the weather is nice again.

Sunday, January 22

primal fear

This was a pretty good drama from the 90s. Netflix thought I might like it and I did. As Brian mentioned while we were watching the movie, it's nice to watch something that's not purposely trying to confuse you (Inception--I'm talking about you). The movie had the requisite twist at the end--no surprise there. Overall, it was a good movie, though.

Sunday, January 15

horrible bosses

This was a pretty funny movie. Not hysterically so, but funny nonetheless. The plot was about three friends who have "horrible bosses" and decide to kill them. You wouldn't necessarily think that storyline would lend itself to a comedy, but it did a pretty good job with it. Jennifer Aniston played one of the bosses and she stole every scene she was in--too bad there weren't more of them. Recommended.

Thursday, January 12

dirty blonde

My mom bought me a few Lisa Scottoline books and I liked them, so she ended up buying me her whole catalog. While this particular book had a questionable storyline, it was a pretty quick read. To summarize the plot, the story is about a (female) federal judge who likes to sleep around (i.e. pick up guys in bars). These actions land her in trouble (otherwise there wouldn't be a story). As much as I thought the plot was corny, I did enjoy the book. I think I might try another one of hers next before I temporarily move onto something different.

Tuesday, January 10

family weekend

Saturday night, my brother hosted a "meet and greet" for his girlfriend at his house. He had some of his friends and some of our relatives over for drinks and snacks that evening. It was a fun time. Sunday evening found us at Brian's parent's house celebrating Brian's dad's birthday (Happy Birthday, Ed!). Also, fun.

Sunday, January 8

finding nemo

Jake and I watched this movie quite some time ago (I think he had it on a VCR tape back in the day). Despite multiple viewings by Jake, Brian never saw the movie in it's entirety, so we watched it on Friday night. The movie was quite good--an animated classic for sure. This is one of those movies that is for more than just kids.

Friday, January 6

366

So, there's the photo thing that's been going on the past few years, Project 365, where you take a photo each day and post it somewhere for people to see. The idea behind it is to make yourself a better photographer. Jake received a new camera for Christmas this year, so I suggested that maybe we should give it a try. So, we're all doing it and posting our photos to Facebook (and we've even recruited a few others to join us). It's kind of fun at this point, but I have a feeling that it's going to get tedious after a while, so I'm trying to get ahead (which is technically cheating because you're supposed to take a photo each day, but whatever).

Monday, January 2

unknown

I thought this was going to be another ass-kicking Liam Neeson movie, but alas, it was not. And the plot was so contrived that it was hard to enjoy. Three thumbs down.

Sunday, January 1

bad teacher

Overall, I thought this was a pretty funny movie. Not a classic, by any means, but worth watching if you're into the kind of comedy that presents itself in this movie. There were a number of funny scenes/quotes, some not mentionable here. I did a Google search and was disappointed to find out that the phrase "shut the front door" did not originate in this movie, but since I first heard it there, I'll give them credit for bringing it to my attention. (We've been using that phrase around the house ever since we heard it in the commercials.) The car wash scene was hilarious and was made even better by the soundtrack ("Still of the Night" by Whitesnake). Sure, Cameron Diaz's role was over the top and her change of heart at the end was not believable, but it's just entertainment--not rocket science.