Monday, December 30

christmas 2013

This was a pretty laid back year for Christmas activities. To summarize:
  • We spent Christmas Eve with my family. Brian's mom and dad were also in attendance. After those festivities were done, we went to an overly long Christmas Eve service at our church, then came home and got things ready for Christmas morning.
  • Christmas Day was spent with Brian's family. It was a pretty quiet affair, with just Brian's parents and our niece. 
  • On the 28th, we went to a Christmas party at a friend's house. It was pretty raucous--lots of people, lots of kids. It's the same place we went for a Halloween party in October. Surprisingly, there was even more food at the Christmas party and all of it was great. Unfortunately, Jake was not in attendance as he was visiting his cousins in NY.
  • Last night, my parents came over for a Christmas visit. 
  • And, to conclude Christmas, we met Judy for drinks (and our annual exchange of gifts) at The Boulevard this evening.
And, that should wrap things up until next year. Brian and I have been taking every other day off over the holidays so that Jake didn't have to spend his time off at the office. Tomorrow is my day to work--those are my main New Year's Eve plans. I guess it's possible that we'll go downtown to the Celebration Johnstown event tomorrow night, assuming I can drag myself out of the house. New Year's Day will be spent in our usual manner--pork and sauerkraut for lunch (and champagne), a nap on the couch, and then the putting away of the Christmas decorations.

at the mountains of madness

This was my first foray (as far as I can recall) into H.P. Lovecraft and I'm pretty sure it will be my last. I read this on my Kindle (I downloaded the story for free). Amazon.com tells me that the story was only 84 pages, yet it took me about two weeks to read it--how's that for crappy?

My rating: 2/5

Saturday, December 28

the heat

Brian and I watched this movie last night. I found it to be humorous, but it seemed like they were trying too hard or something. I mean, with as much swearing as there was, it should have been hilarious. That said, there were a couple of funny bits, but it was a little too formulaic for my taste.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, December 24

junkie

I've been taking Zyrtec for allergies pretty much continuously for a year or so. I haven't been sneezing as much lately, so I thought I'd take a break from it until spring. I stopped taking it for a couple of days the other week and got all itchy. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I started taking it again due to the itchiness. I stopped taking it again the other day. Yesterday, I got all itchy. Noticing a trend, I did a Google search and, much to my surprise, this is a withdrawal symptom from going off the medication. Terrific.

dexter

I finally finished watching the Dexter series last night. Because it was unavoidable, I heard how the series ended before watching it (and frankly, I was disappointed). However, in watching it, I think they pulled it off pretty well. I would have liked a better explanation of the last few minutes of the show, though.

I was getting a bit bored with the series by the end. Season 4 with John Lithgow was outstanding, but things kind of went downhill from there. Well, maybe "downhill" isn't the correct word, but every season was the same (Dexter chasing some serial killer), so it was a little boring. My favorite thing about the show was Dexter's sister, Debra Morgan. She was the best thing on tv since Al Swearengen.

Wednesday, December 18

doctor sleep

This book, by Stephen King, was sort of a continuation of The Shining. It revolved around Danny Torrance as an adult. The antagonist in this book was a group of otherworldly type humans. Good vs. evil. Yada, yada, yada. This book was sort of in the same vein as Hearts in Atlantis, which is not one of my favorites. That said...

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, December 14

weekly blogger

Here is my obligatory weekly blog post. There's nothing blog-worthy going around here, hence the lack of posts. Which isn't to say that there's nothing going on, but do you really want to hear about how I spent an hour sanding wine bottle glasses the other night? I didn't think so.

Since I last wrote, we had some sad family news. Brian's grandmother passed away last weekend. The funeral was in Maryland, where she lived, so we were there on Monday for the viewing and Tuesday for the funeral.

Tuesday night, Jake had his Christmas choral concert at the middle school. The rest of the week was business as usual (that is, nothing worth noting). And that brings us to this weekend. We were supposed to go out for dinner with another couple this evening, but those plans have been postponed due to the weather. Grumble.

Sunday, December 8

almost

I am almost ready for Christmas. Almost. I have most of my gifts bought, but not wrapped. Some of my dog cookies are made (none of the human ones though--maybe I'll skip it this year). The house is decorated--with the exception of putting the ornaments on the tree. So, really, nothing is done (except for my cards, which I did last month). I suppose I should pick a lane and finish one of these tasks. Maybe next weekend...

Saturday, November 30

the iceman

This movie was based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski, a man who claimed to kill over 100 men. The main character was a pretty entertaining mashup of a serial killer/mob hit-man (and, strangely enough, family man). Brian and I both gave it a thumbs up. Plus, it clocked in at under two hours, as all movies should.

My rating: 3.5/5

Friday, November 29

turkey day

We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year. Members from both of our families were in attendance for a total of 13 people. This may not sound like much, but typically our family gatherings are eight or less in number, so this was a pretty big affair for us.

Ironically, Brian built a new dining room table that seats eight, but since we had so many people over, we had to set up a second table.

I took off Wednesday to cook and clean, but mostly fooled around on the computer, so I was cooking like a madwoman yesterday. I did have some help--the guests brought desserts and side dishes--so it wasn't all on me. Unfortunately, I forgot to put out the cranberry sauce that my mom made (sorry, Mom!) so I guess I'll be eating a lot of that over the next few days.

While hosting a holiday dinner is a lot of work, I do rather enjoy the whole process. Except maybe the cleaning part...

Wednesday, November 27

table games

So, I was supposed to have a new dining room table by Thanksgiving. And, I will--sort of. Brian has been diligently working on my Mission-style table all month. The top is completely done and finished, but the bottom half is still a work in progress. He's planning on having it wrapped up this evening, but I am doing a multi-step finish (which takes a number of days to complete), so it will be unfinished for tomorrow's dinner. But, that's ok as long as we have a table to use. I am looking forward to wrapping this project up, though.

Saturday, November 23

the campaign

This was a pretty funny movie. It starred Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two opponents in a congressional race. It was full of hilarious profanity and stupid humor--right up my alley. There's not really anything else you need to know.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, November 18

the weekend

Besides the usual laundry, cooking and cleaning, I managed to accomplish a lot over the weekend. Since the weather wasn't too bad, I went outside and did all of the stuff that was supposed to be done last month--finished winterizing the pond; did some yard and garden clean-up; and put some things away.

Indoors, I made my Christmas cards and worked on some wine bottle glasses for Everyone Drinks. I also watched a movie, "Sons of Anarchy" and "The Walking Dead". I even read a little bit of "Doctor Sleep".

And, I even snuck in a nap each day. We'll call it a winner.

Saturday, November 16

the lincoln lawyer

This was a interesting legal thriller. I knew nothing about this movie going into it (other than the fact that Matthew McConaughey played the main character, a lawyer) so I won't spoil it for anyone by talking about the plot because how this movie comes together in the end is practically brilliant.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, November 11

first world problems

You know how when your accessory mode of transportation won't fit in your outbuilding? That's the problem we encountered yesterday. Neither one of us gave a thought about the fit until it was time to pull the bike and sidecar into the shed. So, now my poor bike is going to be sitting in the driveway all winter. However, all is not lost. I found these motorcycle shelter things online and ordered one of them. This sidecar just keeps getting more and more expensive as time goes on. Hopefully I'll actually be able to enjoy it next year.

Sunday, November 10

this is the end

This was an amusing film about the end times (aka the rapture/apocalypse) and how it affected a group of celebrities that were at a party at James Franco's house. Given the subject matter, it bordered on the absurd a number of times (though I'm sure this was on purpose). I like my comedies to be rooted in reality a bit more than this one was, but it was entertaining enough.

My rating: 3/5

in wake of water

I forgot I had a blog there for a moment.

Last week, I finished this novella. It was written by a friend's wife (SBR Martin). Not a bad first effort. I was particularly impressed by the fact that there weren't any typos in the book. How does a self-published effort accomplish that feat while major publishers can't get that right (I'm talking to you, Charlaine Harris)?

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, November 3

rent

Our first set of renters at our rental house moved out this weekend. They were there almost 2.5 years, which was great for us. We need to do a couple of maintenance items at the house and then we'll put it back on the market (probably by the end of the week). I'm not looking forward to finding new renters. The ones we had were pretty good and I know that's not always how these things go.

Wednesday, October 30

paranormal activity 4

We watched this last night. I did not enjoy it as much as the previous Paranormal Activity movies. It was slower moving than the others (basically nothing happened in the first 30 minutes). And, the ending was predictable, too. Nothing special here.

My rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, October 27

mama

This was a nifty little horror story. Two very young girls were left in the woods for five years and had to fend for themselves. Once they were found and returned to their family, weird stuff ensued. This movie had some pretty great special effects particularly related to the antagonist.

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, October 26

rat-a-tat-tat

My parents had been after us all summer to go target shooting with them. But, summer's always busy for everyone and we never were able to make that happen. They planned on going shooting this weekend and invited us along. We happened to be available, so along we went. Brian and Jake built an AR-15 last weekend, so we were going out one way or the other this weekend. The new gun is really nice--it's quite fun to shoot. We took a bunch of other guns, too. My parents took a variety of targets (balloons, water bottles, clay pigeons) for us to shoot, so that was more interesting than shooting paper targets. It was a bit chilly this afternoon, so I think this will be it for the shooting until next spring.

Monday, October 21

troubleshooter

This was the 3rd novel in Gregg Hurwitz's Tim Rackley series. For whatever reason, I did not enjoy this book as much as I've enjoyed his other ones. I think it had to do with the fact that the plot centered around a drug-running biker gang. And, since I just finished watching Breaking Bad and am currently watching Sons of Anarchy, it was a bit of a thematic overlap. Or it could be that I'm just too distracted with a million other things to concentrate on reading. I guess I'll find out if that is the case once I start reading my next book this evening.

Sunday, October 20

b.y.o.p.

One of Brian's friends invited us to a pumpkin carving party last night. It was quite the event--there were probably 30-40 people there, mostly kids. And, these people cooked up a storm. They will probably have enough leftovers for a week!

They had multiple pumpkin carving stations set up. And, after everyone was done eating, the kids got to work. After the kids got bored, the adults finished the job. There were some nice pumpkins on display. What a fun way to spend a Saturday evening!

Saturday, October 19

world war z (movie)

As much as I disliked the book, I liked this movie. It was quite engrossing. Of course, the movie was nothing like the book, so that explains it. And, it starred Brad Pitt (which is always a plus). It was just your basic zombie apocalypse story. So, if you're into that sort of thing, you will surely enjoy this movie. And, did I mention Brad Pitt?

My rating: 4/5

Monday, October 14

true blood

I read all of the "True Blood" books in the not-so-distant past. I thought the book series started off strong, but ended on a rather weak note. But it has nothing on the TV series. I will not be sticking this one out until the end. I found myself reading magazines while watching episodes from season 5 and decided to hang it up. The show has quite a lot of differences from the book, so I was hoping that it would have a stronger plot, but it did not. Dare I say, I think it's even worse than the books. I did enjoy the first season or two, but season 5 was just awful. I think it's time for "True Blood" to meet the "true death".

Sunday, October 13

ki ki ki kia

As you might have gleaned from one of my posts yesterday, our wrecked Hyundai Elantra was designated as "totaled". We got word of this on Thursday and were required to return the rental car on Friday. Unfortunately, we haven't received the money for the car yet--we just got the paperwork for that in the mail yesterday, but we can't really function with one car, so we went to Blue Knob Auto and bought a new car yesterday. 

We ended up with a 2013 Kia Optima. I had a bunch of different makes and models on our list (you need to do that when you're researching their cars because they go FAST!) but the Optima was at the top of the list because it had less than 1000 miles on it and Kia has a 5 year warranty. We took it for a test drive and liked it, so that was all she wrote! So, basically, it was like getting a new car, but at a couple thousand dollar discount. You can't beat that.

Saturday, October 12

ding

I left the office yesterday to pick Jake up after he got home from school. When I exited the alley behind our office, I cut the wheel too sharply and scraped the rear fender against a telephone pole. Ugh. I pulled over to survey the damage and wasn't too happy with what I saw.

So, I returned to the office and told Brian about it. He was understanding, as usual. On our way home from work (our rental car that we've been using since the accident had to be returned yesterday. hopefully we're going to get a new car today), we stopped at Deyarmin's Garage and they were able to pull most of the dent out (with a nifty device like this). That made me feel a little better. However, there is a scrape in the paint so we're going to need to have that repaired. The guy at the garage didn't think it should cost more than a couple hundred, so I guess that's not too bad. However, it is one more thing that needs to be done.

Needless to say, my bike is being winterized this weekend. It's the only vehicle of ours that hasn't been involved in an accident this year and I intend to keep it that way.

sinister

It's been a while since we watched a movie. I cut back on my viewing over the summer (plus I was catching up on a few TV series on DVD) so hence the lack of movie reviews.

I like to watch horror movies every October just to get into the spirit of things. In the DVD player last night was Sinister. The premise of this movie sounded interesting enough--a true crime author moved his family into a house where a crime he was researching was committed. He found a cache of snuff films in the attic of the house. Soon, he figured out all of the crimes were related and things went downhill for him from there.

The movie was ok, but don't make the antagonist look like a character from a Norwegian black metal band and I might be able to take it more seriously.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, October 8

marathon man

On what was probably one of the hottest October days ever, Brian ran in the Johnstown Marathon on Sunday. He spent the summer training for this event. And, while it took him a little longer to complete than he might have liked, he did manage to finish. Things were looking a little sketchy at first--the aid stations weren't supplying him with enough hydration and I had to make a delivery of water and Gatorade around the 17 mile point. Luckily, he met up with someone who was running her 96th marathon and she coached him through the rough spot. The good news is that he can now check this off his bucket list.

Saturday, October 5

sandyvale wine festival

We went to the Sandyvale Wine Festival with our parents this afternoon. This was the first one and, by all accounts, it was a success. I could not believe the number of people in attendance--particularly since the Windber Octoberfest was also going on today.

It looked like it was going to be a perfect day, but there was a brief rain shower about half way through the event. Luckily all of the vendors were set up in tents, so the rain did not put a damper on things. We got to try a number of local wines and my father-in-law bought a bottle to share with all of us while we were waiting for some of the lines to go down (it was pretty crowded).

All in all it was a nice event and I definitely plan on attending again next year.

Tuesday, October 1

breaking bad

Breaking Bad is, without a doubt, the best television series ever. From the first episode to the last, I was hooked. Every last detail on the show mattered (down to the color of the clothes the characters wore)--I can't wait to watch the whole series again just to see what I missed the first time.

The show's finale on Sunday did not disappoint--there was no ambiguous ending for this story. I also liked the fact that Vince Gilligan, the show's creator, had a story to tell and he told it and didn't drag things out by tacking on another season or two.

I still think it would have been hilarious if the show ended with Bryan Cranston waking up in bed with Jane Kaczmarek and saying "Lois, I just had the strangest dream..." (ala Newhart).

Saturday, September 28

well, shit

Last night, Brian had to run to the office to get something. Jake and I were watching Sons of Anarchy at the time. Shortly after he left, I heard the fire whistle blowing and I thought "hmm, I hope that wasn't Brian". Turns out it was. A skunk was crossing Goucher Street and Brian slowed down to avoid hitting it. Unfortunately, the lady driving the car behind him did not and she rear-ended him.

The lady appeared to be ok, but was really shaken up so she went to the hospital. Brian was fine. I picked him up at the scene after they were done with him. The car looks like it might be totaled--the back end is completely smashed and it's not like it's an expensive vehicle, so I think we might be car shopping soon. I guess we'll find out next week.

Monday, September 23

winter garden

Yesterday, I planted some stuff that will eventually be under the hoops. Lettuce, spinach, onions and the like.

I'm crossing my fingers that there isn't a frost tonight because I still haven't gotten around to picking the remaining peppers that are growing in the garden. Though, I did can a nice batch of pickled peppers over the weekend.

I noticed some leaves falling already. Soon, it will be time to close the pond for the winter.

I'll end with a haiku:

It's almost winter
No more playing in the yard
Time to clean the house

Wednesday, September 18

shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot

We were supposed to take one of our employees shooting today after work, but she was not feeling well and was unable to make it. Hopefully we'll get to reschedule for next week.

Brian, Jake and I decided to go anyway because we didn't get to go shooting yet this summer. We ended up taking the shotgun, which we purchased quite a few years ago and never shot until today. It was a lot of fun. Brian filled up some gallon jugs with water and we used them as targets. We took a couple of other guns and our new metal pistol target, which was pretty cool. Brian spent the evening cleaning guns so now the house smells like gun solvent. Ahh...

Friday, September 13

the dead room

This book was ok for being a free one. It had a couple of typos in it, though. Typos in books really bug me. How about getting an editor? Anyway, it was a pretty cool story about a serial killer. The serial killer story line had a nice twist to it. But, then the author made a totally unnecessary twist at the end that ruined the story a little for me.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, September 10

grape jelly

I always thought (well, not always, but since I've been canning) it would be cool to make grape jelly, but I didn't have a source for the grapes...until yesterday. One of my Facebook friends posted that she had some extra concord grapes growing in her yard and they were up for grabs. I immediately called dibs and was rewarded with two grocery bags full of grapes.

I extracted the juice last night and made jelly tonight. It is quite tasty. I see a lot of PB&J sandwiches in my future.

Friday, September 6

clutter busters

I'm always trying to tame the clutter monster at our house. Our house is on the smaller size (and we have a bunch of crap), so this is continually a challenge.

Brian is building me a new dining room table this fall. Since we always have a bunch of stuff (mail, laptops and such) all over the table, I decided to fix that problem once and for all. I found a nice secretary desk online and purchased it. And then moved all of the stuff from the dining room table to it. 

My dining room sideboard's drawers were overflowing as well, so I bought a matching 6-door cabinet to store some of those items in. 

While I was at it, I repurposed a few older pieces of furniture and moved them to other rooms (also moving their contents to the new storage pieces). And, I ended up rearranging some of the living room furniture, too. I'm not sure if I like the new arrangement yet--it feels like something is missing (perhaps an additional piece of furniture!).

And, Brian has been working to finish the living room trim (finally). So, things are looking pretty good around here. 

Wednesday, September 4

batty

Early Labor Day morning (around 3:30am), I woke up to go to the bathroom. When I opened the bedroom door, I saw something fly out of the room and then back in. I turned on the bedroom light and immediately shut the door, thus locking Brian and the three dogs in the bedroom with a bat.

Brian stayed in bed with the covers over his head as the bat circled around him. Once the bat stopped flying, he and the dogs left the bedroom. I immediately asked Google what to do about the situation and was dismayed to find out that if a bat is found in a room with a sleeping person, that the bat needs to be tested for rabies (as a sleeping person could have been bitten by the bat and not noticed it). If positive or if the bat cannot be located, the sleeping person must get a series of rabies shots. The dogs would need a rabies booster as well.

So we searched for the bat for a while (till about 6am), but could not find it anywhere in the room. We even started removing stuff from the bedroom just to eliminate hiding places. By this point, we were pretty tired, so we slept in the living room until 8am and resumed the search. This time, the critter was found immediately--he was resting in one of the window valances.

We then researched how to capture a bat and opted for a quart-sized plastic container. After working up some courage, Brian went in there and scooped him up. Next, he called the PA Department of Health, who directed us to call the Game Commission. Due to the holiday, this took a number of phone calls.

The game commission sent someone to the house to pick up the bat. He was from Ebensburg and arrived pretty quickly. Again, due to the holiday, the bat couldn't be taken to the lab for testing until Tuesday. The guy from the game commission said that if the bat had rabies, we would definitely hear something today (Wednesday). Otherwise, it would be a bit longer until we get the results. So, in this case, I guess no news is good news as we did not hear anything today. However, if we don't hear anything by the end of the week, Brian's going to make some calls because mistakes can happen and I want to definitively know the results before the weekend. I really don't think either of us were bitten, but you can't be too careful when it comes to rabies.

That said, I cannot even fathom how a bat got into the house. And, I don't really like thinking about it. Yesterday, I checked our attic to make sure we didn't have a colony of bats living up there. Luckily, we did not. So, the lone bat was probably just a fluke.

This whole situation has me yearning for a bat free winter.

Monday, September 2

labor day weekend

We took full advantage of the holiday weekend and actually did some fun stuff for a change. On Friday, Brian and I went to the Ethnic Fest for supper (Jake was at a birthday party). Brian had pierogies from St. Mary's, which is usually what I get, but I ended up having a delicious pulled pork sandwich from Shorty's Italian Smokehouse instead. Even though Jake wasn't there, I snagged 4 pierogies for his Saturday lunch.

On Saturday, we went to the Log House Arts Festival. We used to attend that frequently, but got away from it in recent years. I'm thinking about doing a craft show for Everyone Drinks next year (assuming I can get my act together and get some inventory made), so I've been trying to go to some craft shows to check things out (and I'm not doing a great job of that, either).

Yesterday, we went to the Cambria County Fair. It has been years since I have been there. Brian claims that we went once when we were dating, but I can't recall doing that. Either way, it has been a long time. Jake's been there a few times with the grandparents, but I think it's been a couple of years for him, too. It was fun to walk around and check out the animals and other displays. And, I won a couple of goldfish for the pond, so that was cool, too.

Today, we had both sets of parents and our niece over for a cookout. We did grilled pizza and ribs. We have grilled pizza down to a science now. I'll be sad when it's cold out and I have to make pizza in the house.

Sunday, September 1

preservation

I've canned a number of items so far this season. I always hope to do more, but summer is a real time crunch for me and canning is pretty time consuming. I'll probably squeeze in a few more things before I run out of vegetables, but here's what I've done so far:
  • Strawberries on Top Preserves
  • Sweet Pickle Relish
  • Dill Sandwich Slices
  • Fiesta Salsa
  • Pickled Cherry Peppers
  • Pickled Cherry Tomatoes
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Giardiniera
I do small batch canning, so I get maybe 6-12 jars of each item. I wish I had more tomatoes because I could use a lot of those during the winter.

I've also frozen a number of veggies and I have some more in the fridge that are awaiting freezer treatment. I'm planning on doing a fall/winter garden again this year so hopefully I can get through part of the winter before having to buy crappy veggies at the grocery store.

Wednesday, August 28

sharp objects

This book was ok. For as short as it was (about 250 pages), it took me a while to read. The story was about a female reporter who returned to her hometown to cover a story about the murder of two girls, but really it was about the main character's messed-up family.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, August 27

lizzy's back

Lizzy's back problem has returned. It's not as bad as the last time (nearly three years ago), but she's definitely having problems getting around. I took her to the vet today and they confirmed my suspicions. The problem is in the same place as last time (lower back), so the vet said she might have done something to aggravate it or it could simply be a matter of things getting worse with age. 

So, she's on steroids again. It will be a few days until we can expect to see an improvement. Let's hope this doesn't become a frequently recurring problem for her.

Saturday, August 24

giving thanks

The other month at the liquor store, a new brand of gin (from Philadelphia Distilling) caught my eye. Since it was from the great state of Pennsylvania and had a mail-in rebate associated with it, I gave it a go. I dutifully sent in my mail-in rebate. Yesterday, I not only received my rebate (in the form of a $1 and a $2 bill--how unusual), but I also received a hand-written thank you note signed by the owner of the company. That's one way to make your company stand out. I thought that was pretty great. The gin was good, too.

Wednesday, August 21

tea for two

My Mom invited me to a tea to benefit the Friends of the Johnstown Flood National Memorial. It was her birthday today, so how could I say no?

Interestingly enough, we were seated at a table with two of my former high school teachers. The one said that I was "all grown up". I found that to be pretty amusing since I'm 43 and she probably was around that age when I had her as a teacher. The lady whose family owns Coney Island was at our table, too. She was very nice. And, as it turns out, she is also in my parent's yoga class. Small world.

I'm not much for "doing things" but it was kind of nice to get out of the house and do something for a change. Not that I'll be making a habit of it, but it doesn't hurt to get out every once in a while, I guess.

Saturday, August 17

little drummer boy

Jake's always going around the house tapping everything with his hands, so I signed him up for a drumming class at the Bottle Works. He wasn't too happy about it, but he ended up loving the class. So much so that he's going to start taking drum lessons. So, the $75 class is going to cost me $50 a month. I hadn't anticipated that outcome.

Tuesday, August 13

back in business

Brian and I drove out to Middleburg today to pick up my motorcycle at Freedom Sidecars. I'm so glad to have it back. With less than two months left in the riding season, I have a lot of riding to make up for.

The owner of the place was kind enough to give me some riding tips and also took me to a parking lot for some practice driving. It was very helpful.

The bike looks and runs great now. It was definitely worth the time and expense to get it done right. I only wish I would have done that the first time.

Sunday, August 11

fowl play

In June, something ate all of the goldfish in my pond. I put off purchasing new goldfish until yesterday. At the store, I mentioned that something ate all of my goldfish and the clerk responded that a blue heron was spotted in the area and has eaten goldfish from a number of area ponds. So, I guess that mystery is solved. Though I'm not sure what to do to prevent this in the future. I've been doing some research on the subject and there doesn't seem to be a good solution out there.

Saturday, August 10

jeff, who lives at home

Boy, it's been a while since we've watched a movie. My Netflix queue was getting a little low, so I backed it down to two movies a month (plus streaming, but there are hardly any movies on streaming that I want to watch). In the interim, I've been watching some television series (Dexter, True Blood), so hence the lack of movie posts. Which is just as well because the summer has been keeping me pretty busy.

While billed as a comedy, this was more of a dramedy (think Scrubs). It told the story of a stoner son looking to discover his destiny, which he does in the end (not really a spoiler). The movie was pleasant enough, but nothing special.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, August 3

the kill clause

This is the first novel in Gregg Hurwitz's "Tim Rackley" series. I read it (and a host of non-fiction) while we were on vacation last week. Unfortunately, I happened to read the 2nd book in the series first, but this did not put a damper on things. The plot was a tad questionable, but overall, it was quite a good read. The 3rd book in the series is currently burning a  hole through my bookcase, so I think I will be reading it soon.

Friday, August 2

forest county 2013

This afternoon, we returned from our (now) annual trip to Forest County. And, what a relaxing trip it was! This year, we stayed at River Forest Lodge, along the Allegheny River in East Hickory, PA. There were some things I liked better about our location last year, and some things I liked better about our location this year. But, overall, it was a positive change.

Alice has been slowing down quite a bit this year, but she looked every bit the energetic dog last week. I have a feeling that she's going to be sleeping a lot in the coming days, though.

The lodge had canoes available, and we used them every day. Fishing was pretty good on the Allegheny (we even brought one home to eat). Jake and I both got our "one that got away" stories while fishing on the river. Brian and Jake did a ton of fishing. I did my fair share as well (while once a day was more than enough for me, it wasn't for the guys).

We spent most of our time at the lodge (where I spent some quality time reading in my hammock), but we did manage to get out a few times. Forest County is one of our clients, so we stopped in the Visitors Bureau to say "hi" to our contact there. I also picked up a nice piece of pottery from the artists exhibit they have there. While in Tionesta, we also checked out the new Market Village. Unfortunately, it was not open during the week, but it looks like a neat idea.

We also went to the State Fish Hatchery in Tionesta. There was a talkative employee there who gave us the scoop on the place. And we hiked a couple trails at Cornplanter State Forest. And we took a trip to Tall Oaks Store for some window shopping.

We also had a horseshoes tournament, in which I scored exactly 0 points. And, of course, we fired up the campfire nightly and had cherry pie and pizza mountain pies and s'mores.

Much like last year, we did not have cell service at the cabin, so we were only able to check our phones once a day when we were out and about. We did have satellite television this year, though. Jake enjoyed that, but I tried to stay away from it. And, I was happy to leave my computer at home again this year.

All in all, another great trip to Forest County. I plan on returning again next year!

Sunday, July 28

priorities

I don't know where the summer has gone. It's going to be August in a few days and I feel like I've been missing out. I guess the month of rain has a lot to do with that--you can't garden in the rain. But, it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that I'd like to accomplish.

I guess not having a motorcycle all summer isn't helping anything, seeing that riding is one of our regular activities. Brian finally got his bike fixed last week, and I'm hoping to get mine back soon, too. So, maybe things will feel like they're back to normal once that happens.

I've been slacking on the canning, too. So far I've only done strawberry jam and sweet pickle relish. I have frozen a few veggies, though, so at least I'm not completely slacking off on the food preservation front.

Thursday, July 25

the devil in silver

This book was about a guy who was sent to a mental institution due to a glitch within the criminal justice system. At a first glance, the book seemed to be about a monster that roamed the halls of the institution. At a second glance, it seemed to be a social commentary. It was kind of all over the place. Also, I wasn't a huge fan of the author's writing style. For one thing he used a lot of parenthetical expressions (while I am a huge fan of the parenthetical expression in casual writing, I don't care for it in my literature). Brian, on the other hand, really liked this book. So, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

Sunday, July 21

twenty-five years

That's how long it has been since I graduated from high school. As such, my class reunion was last night. I was kind of on the fence about going, but I went. The majority of the people I hung out with in high school were not there, so that was a bummer. Overall, it was a pleasant evening. But one thing's for sure--I'm not sentimental.

Thursday, July 18

sidecar saga

You might recall that I've been looking for another mechanic to look over my sidecar setup. I contacted this place the week after I got my bike back and they sounded like they knew what they were talking about, but I was hoping to find someone in the area to take a look at it. That wish did not materialize, so Brian trailered my bike to Middleburg, PA this week. We attempted to take it there a few weeks ago, but the trailer we rented was not quite wide enough to handle my new getup and this was the first opportunity to go there since that time.

They say it's going to be a couple of weeks. I'm hoping that is accurate because I'd really like to get some riding in before winter (and winter's going to be here before you know it). The plus side to taking the bike to this place is that they teach sidecar classes. While I am not going to be able to take a class, the owner of the company is going to give me some instruction when we pick the bike up, so I'm sure that will be helpful. 

I figure that if I get it back in mid-August, I'll still have two months of riding left, so that's better than nothing, I guess.


Tuesday, July 16

wedding bells

We spent last weekend in the Pittsburgh area because Brian was a groomsman in our friend Steve's wedding. The wedding rehearsal was on Friday, so we left town after lunch on Friday and did not return until Sunday afternoon. The wedding was held at the 1805 Harmonist Barn in Harmony, PA. It was a pretty laid back affair--right up my alley! The barn was pretty rustic, as was the music (a bluegrass band did the honors). We didn't really know anyone there, though we did get to meet two of our Steve-referred clients in person, which was nice.

Thursday, July 11

bucket list

This bucket list thing seems to be pretty popular. So, I sat down and thought about what I might want to put on mine, but everything I came up with was lame (most of them had to do with gardening). Given this, I won't bore you with the details.

So, I don't know if this makes me boring or content.

Saturday, July 6

the fourth

We attended a couple Independence Day-related events this week/weekend. We kicked off the fourth by going to my brother's place on Wednesday night for a cookout (fire, hot dogs, mountain pies, beer, you-get-the-idea).

While unrelated to the fourth, we went to a bloodhound demonstration at Canoe Creek State Park this afternoon. It was really cool. Heaven Scent Search and Rescue did the demonstration.

For this evening, we were invited to not one, not two, but three events (I don't think that has ever happened before). We were already committed to the first event, so that's the one we went to--the annual Hess Family 4th of July picnic. We hung out there for a few hours and now we're back home.

Thursday, July 4

dead ever after

This was the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. And, I'm glad this series has finally come to an end. I wasn't much of a fan of the last few books. This book clocked in at 338 pages so it was a pretty quick read. I read a lot of people complained about the ending, but I didn't have a problem with it. The book wasn't terribly interesting or well-written, though. I even found a typo! I hate when that happens.

Tuesday, July 2

seventeen

Brian and I celebrated our 17th anniversary last Friday. We went to Franklin Street Bar & Grill (I'm a cheap date) to mark the occasion. We just ordered sandwiches, but they were quite good. The bar seemed to be pretty stocked, too. The place is rather small and it was fairly well filled up, but it didn't seem crowded. And everyone who worked there was friendly. I don't have a bad thing to say about the place.

Tuesday, June 25

under the dome (tv)

I was kind of excited when I heard they were making Under the Dome into a TV series because I really liked the book. I was kind of not excited because there's not much good going on with network television (now if it were on HBO, Showtime or AMC, that would be another matter). But, I figured I'd give it a chance.

So, I watched the first episode last night. While there were some cool effects, the acting was subpar. So much so, that it brought the show down with it. I will not be watching again next week.

Sunday, June 23

stolen thunder

We went downtown a couple of times and went on a few short bike rides, but we definitely did not take advantage of Thunder this year and we did not hit any of the satellite events like we did last year. We were supposed to go to the Richland Bike Bash last night, but ended up staying home and sitting on the patio with a fire and a Margarita, which wasn't exactly a bad way to spend the evening.

Thursday, June 20

an update

My thumb is doing much better this week. It doesn't hurt as much when I bump it, anyway. The stitches are still in--they don't look ready to come out yet. I will reevaluate on Saturday.

I talked to someone about my sidecar this week. Unfortunately, they are located about 2.5 hours away (past State College). So, we're going to rent a trailer and take my bike there as soon as next week. I am confident that any work they do on the bike will be valid. However, depending on their findings and their schedule, I may be without a bike for another month or so. I guess it will all work out in the long run. 

The timing of all of this is unfortunate with Thunder in the Valley occurring this week. But, I guess there's always next year...At least Brian got his bike back. It's not fixed yet, but it was deemed rideable, so we took a scoot through town this evening. It didn't look like much was going on yet, but we'll be going downtown once or twice over the weekend.

Sunday, June 16

father's day

We had both families over for a Father's Day cookout this afternoon. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and we ended up hanging out in the family room. So far this summer has not been very summery.

Brian and Jake had to handle most of the food preparation due to my thumb issue. I was able to help out a little, though. Things turned out great and we have some leftovers so I don't have to cook tomorrow (you'd think it was Mother's Day).

the hangman's daughter

This was an excellent book, recommended to me by Brian. It took place in the 17th century (an era I enjoy reading about) and revolved around a story in which the local midwife was accused of witchcraft. The main character, the hangman, tries to prove her innocent. Recommended.

Saturday, June 15

sidecar


I finally got my motorcycle back yesterday. After almost three months at the garage, they finally wrapped things up. Seeing that attaching a sidecar is supposed to take a day, this is not making me confident that it was done properly. That said, we will be taking it somewhere else to have it checked out. So, the saga continues...

I took it around the block a few times yesterday and it drove exactly how I expected--nothing like a motorcycle. It was fun, though.

Thursday, June 13

gone fishy gone

Up until recently my pond consisted of a single koi, a single catfish and a handful of goldfish. I went outside to feed the fish yesterday and only the koi and catfish were there. There were no signs of foul play so I'm not sure what happened. This happened once before, though. It was a mystery at that time, too. After the first time, we added some hiding spots to the pond, but evidently it wasn't enough. I guess some sort of wild animal got into the pond, but I don't have a guess as to the species.

We're going to add more hiding spots and wait a few weeks before restocking.

red thumb

I read that you can freeze green onions, so, after picking a bunch of green onions from my garden and not having a use for them, I figured I'd give it a try. I was happily chopping away, when I chopped about three-quarters of the way through the tip of my left thumb (nail included, bone not included). After assessing the damage, I grabbed a paper towel to put over my hand because I wasn't all that interested in looking at it further (nor did I want to bleed all over the place) and went outside to enlist Brian's help in driving me to a doctor.

I didn't want to go to the ER and have to wait for four hours, so we looked up the three urgent care centers in Johnstown. Luckily one of them was still open (and I'm sure they were happy to see me walking in 20 minutes before their closing time of 9pm). I was seen right away, but we didn't get home till around 10:30pm.

The doctor ended up putting two stitches in the fleshy part and using medical grade superglue on the nail side. I spent the day banging my sore thumb off of things, so I'm hoping that everything is still attached. I guess I'll find out later when I change the bandage.

Brian's going to finish chopping the onions tonight. I'm off of knife duty for at least a week.

Sunday, June 9

because i can

The garden is underway and I'm ready to start canning. Not that there's anything to can just yet. I cleaned out the pantry this afternoon and got rid of some stuff that did not get eaten from two years ago. That was the first year I canned and I made some weird stuff--just how many jars of sweet and spicy butternut squash can one eat? Sadly, not many. I think just about everything I made last year will get eaten except maybe for the abundance of hot peppers that I canned. In my defense, I didn't have anything else to do with them.

We're in the CSA again this year. Between that and my garden, there is no shortage of vegetables around here in the summer. My goal every year is to eat or preserve (or even give away) all of the veggies. I am not always successful. Case in point: the CSA started last week and I have a vegetable drawer full of leeks, bok choy and kale. *sigh* I have plans for the kale. I could probably figure out something with the bok choy. But, leeks, too? I don't know that I'm up for the challenge.

Saturday, June 8

new ink

I've been wanting to get a scripty "Jacob" tattoo for a couple of years, so I stopped by Matthew's Party Tattoo and Body Piercing on Wednesday to set up an appointment. They were accepting walk-ins that day, so here's my new tattoo.

Brian and I used to go to State of the Art Tattooing in Winchester, VA, but I must admit--this was a bit more convenient. The owner of SOTAT passed away a few years ago, but his daughter has since taken over the business (and she's an excellent tattoo artist). So, Brian might be sticking with that studio. It's probably just as well, because I don't know how well our bank account would do if he had instant access to a tattoo artist. Heck, I'm already planning my next...

Wednesday, June 5

so, yesterday...

Brian and I were having a brief discussion in my office by the picture window. All of a sudden, a car backed out of the alley across the street and smashed into Brian's motorcycle, which was parked in front of the office. Brian hightailed it outside, and the vehicle drove away. We both got their license plate, but this proved to be not quite as useful as you might think.

Brian called the police and an officer stopped by shortly thereafter. He ran the plates, but they were expired (stolen from another vehicle perhaps?). Obviously, the work of a bunch of criminals. Prior to the hit and run, someone exited the vehicle. This person got the hell out of dodge once she saw what happened. However, her daughter was at the laundromat next door. The daughter didn't give up any useful information, but supposedly, was able to get the insurance information from the driver. I'm a bit skeptical since the plates were expired, but that's a problem for the insurance company to deal with.

So, now we're waiting for the estimator to look at the bike, which is driveable, but questionable (Brian's not going to be riding it except to take it to the garage to be fixed). The real issue is that Thunder in the Valley is in two weeks and I don't see how this will be resolved by then.

Monday, June 3

e i e i e i o

The PolkaFest is always the weekend before my birthday and there's nothing like a little kielbasa, pierogies and polka to kick off the festivities. Since my birthday is during the week this year, I opted to celebrate with Brian and Jake on Sunday. Brian made some awesome ribs, potato salad and grilled peaches and we ate on the patio. Plus, there were presents!

Not only that, but thanks to my awesome employer, I get my birthday off, so I have that to look forward to this week. I guess it pays to be the one who comes up with the time off policy.

Saturday, June 1

nos4a2

Right before Mother's Day, I started reading J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. I was having trouble getting through it and then I received Joe Hill's NOS4A2 for Mother's Day. That did not help matters. After a few more feeble attempts to read The Casual Vacancy, I finally gave up and threw down the book (the Kindle, actually). It was totally worth it.

For those of you not in the know, Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. And, he's definitely following in his father's footsteps. This book was excellent. I tore through it in a quick fashion. Highly recommended.

Monday, May 27

memorial day

We kicked off the Memorial Day festivities by attending a cookout at my in-law's yesterday. Today was dedicated to doing things around the house. 

Brian and I went plant shopping in the morning and then I spent the afternoon planting said plants while Brian made a batch of beer. I made a kickass version of a sandwich I saw on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (photos coming later in the week) and Brian helped me finish planting my vegetable garden this evening (in the rain, no less).

Now, it's almost time to relax with a drink and NOS4A2.

Sunday, May 26

life of pi

This was a pretty fantastic movie. It told the story of a boy who survived a shipwreck and was stranded at sea (on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger of all things) for 227 days. It was an amazing story. The three of us give it six thumbs up!

Saturday, May 25

football weather

Baseball game. One of our employees rented a suite at the Altoona Curve stadium and invited us to attend the game. It was last night. It was fricking cold out there, but the suite was warm enough. As a bonus, the Pens game was playing on the television in the suite, so it was like a two-for-one deal. As I've probably stated before, I'm not fan of baseball, but if you have to watch a game, doing it from a suite is the way to go.

Monday, May 20

annual bd dinner

My parents hosted the annual birthday dinner for my brother and I yesterday. I haven't been in the mood to cook lately, so it was nice to take the day off cooking. Plus there was cheesecake. And homemade limoncello (along with a bonus bottle to take home). And presents. So, I guess you could call that day a winner.

Wednesday, May 15

frozen potatoes

Oops. I forgot to cover my potatoes the other night and they got frosted. For the most part everything else in the garden made it through (a couple of the tomato plants got a little frost damage, so I might have to replace them, but I have a bunch of extra tomato plants, so no big deal). I read that the potatoes will probably still grow even with the damage. I guess I'll find out in time. If not, I hope I can make it through the great potato famine of 2013.

Monday, May 13

lucky 13

Today is Jacob's 13th birthday. While we celebrated with the whole family yesterday, today it was just the three of us. We went to Rey Azteca for dinner for the occasion. Happy Birthday, Jacob!

Sunday, May 12

extravaganza

Normally our family get-togethers are fairly laid back affairs, but we had some extended family and friends at Jacob's birthday celebration/Mother's Day dinner this afternoon and it was a bit more rambunctious than most.

Since we were hosting so many people and were not able to do the cookout thing due to the weather (therefore everyone had to hang out in the house), Buster was shipped off to doggy daycare (he's still pissed about that). Lizzy spent most of her time in the crate in the bedroom. Only Alice was left to her own devices.

I cooked a ton of food and got the house in shape yesterday. We have a bunch of leftovers, so I guess I won't need to cook for a couple of days and that's fine with me. I think everyone had a good time--I know we did. 

Saturday, May 11

silver linings playbook

This was a great movie. I just love Jennifer Lawrence. While it was billed as a comedy, it was more of a dramedy. You don't want to go into this movie thinking it's going to be a laugh riot, though it does have some pretty funny moments. Bradley Cooper did a great job as well playing the main character, a man suffering from a bipolar disorder who was institutionalized for a number of months due to a court order (which came after he caught his wife cheating on him and he beat up the other guy). Brian even stayed awake for it, that's how good it was.

Sunday, May 5

garden and stuff


The garden is in full swing. Over half of it is planted at this point. I'm just waiting for warmer weather to plant the rest.

Yesterday was spent doing yard work. Brian got a truckload of mulch in the morning and we re-mulched the dog and pond areas with it in the afternoon. We even took the time to edge the path of the mulch so it looks pretty good this year. While the edger was out, he also did the front sidewalk. The grass was cut yesterday, as well, so the yard is looking great (except for all of the weeds). And, he turned over the compost bin, too. It was quite an industrious day.

On an unrelated note, we went fishing yesterday at Greenhouse Park. I got a couple of bites, but Brian was the only one to catch a fish. We didn't keep it as it was kind of small and I don't trust those waters anyway.

Saturday, May 4

seven psychopaths

This movie was ok, but not my cup of tea. Brian gave it his lowest rating of two eyes closed. I can't even explain the plot, which probably explains why I did not like it.

Sunday, April 28

skyfall

This was my first Bond movie in probably 25 years. It started off with an action-packed scene, but then there was a good hour of boringness and finally ending with some more action. I could have done without the boringness. Like I said, I haven't seen one of these films in quite a while, but it seemed like they were playing off prior knowledge of the series--that is, here's the Bond girl, here's the villain--but without all of the character development. It is well documented that I think most movies are too long. This movie, clocking in at 143 minutes, definitely fits that bill.

Sunday, April 21

end of watch

This was a pretty good move. It was about two cops whose patrol was South Central LA. The movie showed an interesting perspective of police work, but it was ultimately about the relationship between the two officers.

The movie is notable for having a lot of profanity. In fact, only five other movies in history drop more f-bombs than this movie. To be honest, I didn't really notice. After watching a couple of seasons of Deadwood, swear words just don't have as much impact. Click the link to hear the swearing from just one episode (note: this is not for sensitive ears): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsPYJIat0lo

Wednesday, April 17

and they're off!

It's time to garden again. Actually, I never stopped from last year. In the fall, I planted a number of things under the hoops and, to my surprise, quite a few things did well. Spinach was the clear winner, but I also have bunching onions, kale and swiss chard that are doing pretty well, too. So, I'll definitely have to do that again this fall.

So far, I've only planted onions and potatoes outside, but I have tomatoes, peppers, squash, watermelons and cukes going in the house. Soon, though, things will be in full swing.

Sunday, April 14

argo

This political thriller told the story of the rescue of six U.S. Diplomats from Iran during the hostage crisis. It was quite compelling to watch. All three of us enjoyed the movie, though Jake said there weren't enough fight scenes.

Saturday, April 13

first day

I took my first vacation day of the year yesterday, primarily because I had to pick up my plants (25 strawberry plants and 2 oak trees) from the county's annual plant sale. But I spent the day running around, so I guess it was good that I took the time off.

In the morning, I ran to Ebensburg to pick up the plants. On my way home, I stopped at Fine Wines & Winemaking of Windber to pick up a wine kit. Brian needed me to stop at the office for something, so I picked up some lunch for myself at Village Street Cafe before dropping in. Then I went home to wait for Jake to get home from school.

After Jake got home, I ran over to Westwood Garden Haven to buy some potatoes, which need to be planted tomorrow. I noticed that Fritz's Farmers Market was open when I was on my way to Windber, but I didn't have any extra cash on me, so I went there after getting the potatoes. And, I hit Ray's Nurseries for a scoop of dirt for my new strawberry beds on my way home.

Right before making supper, I had to drop Jake off at his guitar lesson and then after supper, we went to the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center to see our niece win first place for three dimensional art (Yay, Erika!) in the student art exhibit.

Unfortunately, with all of that running around, I didn't accomplish much else, but I guess there will be other days off for that.

Friday, April 12

black flagged

This book was surprisingly good. I say this because I got it from Amazon's Top 100 Free list and I was not expecting much for my money ($0). That said, the book is no longer free and it's the first in a series, so I guess that's how they get you.

The story was about a former black ops soldier who gets pulled back into action. It was quite interesting. The only negative thing I can say about the book was that there were too many characters and it was difficult remembering who's who. Other than that, it was a great story.

I'm sure I won't be as lucky with the rest of the books I downloaded, but what do you expect for nothing?

Sunday, April 7

ninety

Today is Brian's grandmother's 90th birthday. (Happy Birthday, Gwen!) To celebrate, a bunch of the family went to Surf n' Turf for dinner last night. It was nice seeing everyone and the food was great as always.

the breakfast club

We watched this movie the other night. I believe this was my second viewing of the movie, but apparently it was Brian's 51st viewing of the movie, for which he has all of the dialog memorized (unfortunately for us). Much like most of the other movies from my youth, I enjoyed it more the first time I watched it. Jake really liked it, though, but I guess that is no surprise since it is a movie about teenagers and he is almost one.

Thursday, April 4

easter

We spent Easter afternoon at my in-laws and Easter night watching The Walking Dead. Actually, Jake stayed at my in-laws that night, so I made Brian watch The Walking Dead with me (Jake's my usual partner in crime for TV watching). I thought it was going to be epic, but it was kind of meh. They kept playing up the whole war thing the past few episodes, but that never really came to fruition. On the other hand, the Carl stuff was great--what an interesting turn for that character. Overall, it was an excellent season, but the season finale left something to be desired. Still, I'm looking forward to the show's return in October.

Sunday, March 31

role models

Brian swears we saw this movie before, but I have no record or remembrance of it, so we watched it last night. It was ok--it had some funny parts--but was not hysterically funny. I suppose it was worth watching if you like crude humor, which my unrefined tastes do.

Thursday, March 28

sidecar delivery

My sidecar was delivered to a freight terminal in Bedford today. Brian was kind enough to drive out there this afternoon, pick it up, and drop it off at Triumph of Windber, where it will be installed. We have to drop my bike off this weekend and the sidecar needs to be painted, so they'll be installing it around the 2nd week of April. I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 24

taken 2

This was your run of the mill action flick and there's nothing wrong with that. I do agree with Brian on one point--the fight scenes were kind of lame. They did that thing with the multiple cameras where they keep switching angles. I'm sure it's easier for them to film, but it's hard to watch and makes the scenes look less realistic. But, it was still entertaining. I don't see how they can pull off a third one of these, though.

Saturday, March 23

the providence rider

This was the 4th installment in Robert McCammon's Matthew Corbett series and it did not disappoint. Leave it to McCammon to make historical fiction interesting. I hope there is more to come.

Monday, March 18

weeds

I finally finished watching this series. I thought it was interesting how it started off as more of a comedy and then the middle seasons were pretty dark. The final season was definitely on the lighter side (in both levity and plot). I like how they fast-forwarded in time in the last episode to show how everyone ended up. I found the very ending to be a little weak (I like powerful endings--think "Newhart", "Six Feet Under" or "Breaking Bad"*), but all in all an entertaining series to watch.

*"Breaking Bad" has not ended yet, of course, but I'm predicting that Walter White wakes up in bed with Lois (from "Malcolm in the Middle") and says, "I just had the strangest dream..." One can hope, anyway.

Sunday, March 17

cheddar

I made another batch of cheese today. This one was a stirred curd cheddar. This method was a slightly less labor-intensive version of cheddar, which I made previously. I'm interested to see if there's any difference in the final product. I'm only going to be making one more batch of cheese before summer (romano or parmesan--might as well go for broke!).

Sunday, March 10

sunday, fun day

This afternoon we went to a gun raffle at the Portage Revolver & Pistol Club with my parents. We are members of the club and Jake is in their junior rifle league, so it was nice to be able to throw some support their way. They were giving away a ton of guns (and cash prizes, too), but, unfortunately we did not win anything. We still had fun, though.

After the raffle, we came home and tried out our new pizza-making gizmo. Prior to using it, I was lucky enough to find this article on how to make it work even better. We tried the foil trick mentioned in the article and got great results. A couple of pizza-making sessions ago, I started making this dough and I love it. While it does take a couple of days to make, it is totally worth the extra time--the dough is so nice and airy. So, the new dough in combination with the pizza "oven" made the best pizza that has ever come out of this house. I guess I don't need that pizza oven after all.

Friday, March 8

braces

After a few trips to the orthodontist, Jake had his top braces installed this week. I can't remember why, but they are not doing the bottom braces for a quite a bit. He doesn't go back until May and, at that point, they're going to tell us when he should have his one baby tooth extracted. The poor kid has only been able to eat soft foods because his teeth and inner lips are sore. Once this subsides, I think he's going to eat all of the food in the house.

Sunday, March 3

snow snow go away

As Chandler Bing might say, could the groundhog have been any more wrong? I don't think it has stopped snowing since he declared that winter is over. I have wonderful memories of last March where it was 70 degrees for a couple of weeks and I started gardening a month early. I guess that isn't going to happen this year.

I haven't been blogging much lately. Half of my posts are about movies or books and I have been watching a bunch of tv series on dvd so I haven't had any movies to blog about. Also, due to all of the tv watching, I haven't been reading as much.

And, on top of that, things are crazy busy at work, so we (Brian in particular) haven't had any time for recreational activities. We are short staffed and have been trying to hire a graphic designer. We have enough work that we could actually hire two designers, but we'll have to see if that continues before we commit to anything. So, if anyone out there is qualified*, please apply. We have a marketing opening as well, but we're not filling that position until the graphic designer role is filled. This is our second round of advertising for the position. I hope we can find someone soon.

*And when I say qualified, I mean the following:

  • meet most, if not all, of the job requirements
  • don't have a bunch of typos on your resume (there's this thing called spellcheck--run it)
  • don't apply through every means available--one is sufficient (rest assured, we will receive your application)
  • don't call us, we'll call you

Sunday, February 24

the cheese chronicles

I've made two batches of cheese so far this winter--Cheddar and Monterey Jack. I thought I'd try aging them in vacuum bags this time (versus in wax) because it seemed like the easier thing to do. However, the Cheddar developed some mold after a month and the Jack developed mold after just a few weeks. The mold isn't anything to be concerned with, but it does need to be addressed (i.e. it must be wiped off with a vinegar and salt solution).

But, it got me thinking back to my first batch of cheese, which was waxed and had no mold issues. So, I got out the waxing pot tonight, wiped down the cheeses and waxed them. The Jack cheese will be eaten at the beginning of April, but the Cheddar won't be ready until next January. I'll have to keep an eye on them to make sure no mold develops beneath the wax, but I'm hopeful this will do the trick.

I ordered some more cheesemaking supplies last week for my upcoming batches of stirred curd Cheddar (which is a slightly less labor-intensive version of Cheddar) and Parmesan (which, incidentally, does not get waxed). That will be it for my cheese-making adventures until next winter as gardening season is about to kick into gear.

Monday, February 18

brian's bd part 3

The third and final birthday celebration for Brian took place last night at his parent's house. They did a "summer in February" theme with picnic food. Bonus: leftover ribs for today's lunch. Yum!

Friday, February 15

brian's bd part 2

Brian, Jacob and I celebrated Brian's birthday last night. He wanted soup (homemade clam chowder) and sandwiches, so I got off easy. One to go...

Monday, February 11

brian's bd part 1

My mom made a delicious turkey dinner (plus the best cheesecake I've eaten since I can't remember) yesterday for Brian's birthday. One down, two to go.

Sunday, February 10

beasts of the southern wild

Every once in a while I like to break out of my comfort zone and watch a film that I wouldn't normally watch. Sometimes, I am rewarded, like with Winter's Bone. Other times I am disappointed, such as with this film. Overall the film did do a number of things correctly (the Oscar-nominated 6 year old who played the main role was excellent), but ultimately the film did not hold my interest. Generally speaking, the plot was kind of boring and the back story about the cavemen and ancient animals who walked the earth did not mesh well with the story.

Saturday, February 9

taxes

It seems like all we do is pay taxes (yearly, quarterly, monthly). I met with our accountant last week for our federal taxes. Due to our business, our taxes are due on March 15. I made a super early appointment this year, but thanks to last minute changes by congress, our accountant can't even file our taxes until the end of this month. But, at least they are done and it won't take long to get our refund once filed.

When we had regular jobs, we never received a refund (which is my preference), but since Brian has the graphic design business, we've been getting some significant money back mostly because the business is growing so we've been spending more than we're making. Last year, we actually had a profit, but we were able to write off some losses from the previous year. I guess it's better than owing money. As the business continues to grow, I'm sure our refunds will get smaller and smaller.

Anyway, this year's refund is buying me a sidecar for my motorcycle. It's going to be so cool. Unfortunately there aren't any sidecar dealers in the area, so we're trying to figure out where to buy it from. Worst case, we'll be buying it directly from the manufacturer. But, they only sell for the MSRP, so we're trying to see if we can get a better deal somewhere else. We need to do this now because the place I bought my bike will be installing it and once the weather is nice they won't have time to do it (and I don't want to be without a bike all summer).

Tuesday, February 5

not so super bowl

We hosted our annual Super Bowl party on Sunday. This year's party had a Napa Valley theme. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but when it came down to it, it was a bit tough pulling together a menu.  

As for the game, that was also tough. I used to be 49ers fan, but that was long ago (and I don't like their current coach). And, I hate the Ravens, so what's a girl to do? I ended up rooting for the Ravens, but I wasn't happy about it. Next year, we're going to do some sort of giveaway thing to ensure that an uninteresting game (like this one) is made more interesting.

On the negative side, after everyone arrived, the dogs were all excited and Lizzy ended up biting Alice's ear. A similar thing happened at the end of last year when someone was at the door (only that time Lizzy bit Buster's ear). I don't know what's up with Lizzy and ears, but those were the first two incidents we've had in a few years. I guess we're going to have to keep her crated if there's a lot of excitement in the house.

Saturday, February 2

the avengers

This was one action-packed movie. Unfortunately, it took a bit of setup to get to the action part. Even though Iron Man was a character in this movie, I didn't like it as much as the Iron Man movies (which are pretty witty, but this movie took itself a little too seriously, though it did have a couple of funny scenes). That said, it was way better than watching any of those dreary Batman flicks (which I gave up on years ago).

Sunday, January 27

production

It was a pretty productive weekend. Not only did we bottle a batch of stout beer, but I also whipped up a batch of spiced rum. And, I made Monterey Jack cheese today (and, yes, I know you can buy cheese at the store). Cheesemaking is a long, drawn-out process, so I caught up with my housecleaning between steps. I was hoping to do some Everyone Drinks-related work this weekend, but did not get around to it, but Brian worked on a few things for me so I'll call it even.

Saturday, January 26

ted

This movie was amusing, but it was not the laugh-fest I thought it was going to be. Frankly, I expected more from Seth MacFarlane. Don't get me wrong, it was a decent flick, but I just had higher hopes for it.

Monday, January 21

snow white and the huntsman

Surprisingly, the guys enjoyed this movie--I wasn't sure that would be the case. There were enough fight scenes to keep them interested. I thought it was ok but not great. I'm not a fan of Kristen Stewart, but I do like Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth. Unfortunately Stewart played Snow White, so there was a lot of her in the movie. But, there were some cool effects and it was a unique telling of the story of Snow White.

Sunday, January 20

more beer

We're on a roll. We did manage to make the batch of stout last weekend. And, we bottled my lambic last night. I drank some of it and it was delicious. (And what a pretty color, too!) I can only imagine that carbonation will make it even better. We have our next recipe picked out and the ingredients bought already (it's going to be a Pete's Wicked Ale clone). Now, all we need is a half decent day weather-wise in order to accomplish the task.

Thursday, January 17

the lazies

Unlike most of the other infected people out there, I seem to have caught a bad case of the lazies. I find myself sitting around in the evenings and not getting anything done. Of course, I don't really have all that much stuff to do, so I suppose that is part of it, but there are definitely things I could be doing.

Maybe I should add a bunch of stuff to my "to do" list for some motivation. I hope this doesn't last long.

Friday, January 11

beer

I failed to mention this before, but Brian and I brewed a Belgian lambic (specifically, a clone of Lindemans Framboise) over Thanksgiving vacation. This was the 3rd all-grain brew that Brian has made since getting his new beer brewing rig. If all goes well tomorrow, we'll be making the 4th (a stout).

Anyway, the lambic is looking pretty good. We racked it last weekend and it tastes good already. It'll be ready the 2nd weekend in February. I can't wait to try it!

Sunday, January 6

stand by me

I'm pretty sure I saw this movie before and I know Brian did, but we watched it again for a Family Movie Night. It was enjoyed by all--what a great story! Of course, the book was way better, but that's usually how it goes.

Saturday, January 5

brace yourself

The last time I took Jake to the dentist, he informed us that Jake has a baby tooth that hasn't come out yet (and the adult tooth is formed and ready to come in). He was concerned that there wasn't room for the adult tooth so he referred us to an orthodontist. We visited the orthodontist yesterday, and you guessed it--Jake needs braces. His teeth aren't too bad, but there is some crowding and braces will fix that. If the baby tooth doesn't come out on its own, it will need to be pulled, so Jake's working on that. And, I'm working on the payment plan--braces are expensive!

Tuesday, January 1

2012: the year in review

Favorite movie: I didn't have a favorite movie per se, but by genre, here's what I liked best. Comedy: Friends with Benefits. Horror: The Cabin in the Woods. (What a unique film this was!) Drama: The Hunger Games (a great story made even better by Jennifer Lawrence).

Favorite television: Without a doubt, The Walking Dead (this has a good chance of being my favorite series ever). I also highly enjoy Breaking Bad. While it was a little slow last year, it was probably all setup for the final season, for which I have high expectations. And, I started watching Sons of Anarchy at the end of the year. Not sure how this will rank in the grand scheme of things, but I do enjoy looking at Jax Teller for now.

Favorite music: I'm still hung up on the Foo Fighters. I don't think I bought any "new" music in 2012. 2013 holds much promise, though.

We went to Forest County for vacation and we had so much fun we're going back in 2013!

It was a great year for the garden. The weather got nice in March and pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the season. I canned a bunch of stuff (but not enough tomatoes). Jake made me a couple of raised garden beds so I was able to plant even more stuff (and, in one of the raised beds, I planted a fall garden in a hoop house, too).

Other notable achievements: we paid off the house which was a good thing because we had to buy a new vehicle; and, we learned how to make cheese.

I have a good feeling about 2013 and not just because 13 is my lucky number (I don't believe in luck, by the way).