Sunday, December 28

to live and die in l.a.

This was a pretty good movie that we watched on Brian's recommendation (he saw it when it originally came out in the mid 80s). This crime drama starred a young Willem Dafoe as a counterfeiter who was wanted by the Secret Service. It had a great chase scene in it and was engaging overall. Brian felt that it held up well (oftentimes those older movies don't).

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, December 27

s.o.b.

What an unusually beautiful day for December. I took advantage of the nice weather and mulched the strawberries and garlic. While I was out there, I glanced into the pond, only to find that the koi had died. Curiously, a goldfish and the catfish also died this fall. I'm not even sure if there are any other fish in there at this point, but I do find it odd that potentially all of the fish have died. I guess there's nothing I can do about it till spring, but it's a bummer.

Friday, December 26

the 4th day of xmas

We had Christmas at our house yesterday. My parents, brother and his crew, and a friend of my mom's attended the dinner. Brian's mom had to work so the three of them stopped over later in the afternoon. It was a nice day. I'm off today, so Brian went to work. We always alternate days off over Christmas to ensure someone's at the office, though this is becoming less of an issue since our employee numbers are growing.

This concludes our scheduled Christmas activities. Not sure if anything else will come up, but I woke up with Jake's cold this morning, so I doubt I will be in the mood to do anything over the weekend.

Thursday, December 25

the 3rd day of xmas

We spent Christmas Eve at my in-law's. It was fairly laid back--just us, the in-laws and our niece and her boyfriend. We had a nice dinner and then went to church, which was less than an hour in length (gasp!). After church, we went back to the house and did my favorite Christmas activity--we opened gifts.

Wednesday, December 24

blue ruin

I read an article on the best moves of 2014 or some such time period and this one looked interesting. It was available on Netflix streaming and I didn't have anything going on last night, so I decided to watch it.

This was a revenge film, but not in the classic sense (i.e. not in the Liam Neeson ass-kicking sort of way). Basically, this homeless guy finds out that the person who killed his parents (is he homeless due to what happened to his parents? who knows.) is being released from prison and he decides to kill him (or maybe he planned to do this all along). Also, don't think what I just wrote is a spoiler because this all happens within the first five or ten minutes of the movie. What else is left, you might ask? Well, I guess you'll have to watch the movie to find out. Also, I wanted to note that there is a distinct lack of dialogue in this movie as a lot of scenes only have the main character in them and he doesn't go around talking to himself (and there's no voiceover to tell us his thoughts), but it was a pretty engrossing film nonetheless.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, December 22

the 2nd day of xmas

We had our annual Christmas visit and exchange of gifts with Judy last night. We met up at our house in the evening. It was a fun time, as always. We've gotten to see a lot more of Judy this year and that is just fine with me. We'll be meeting up for dinner after the new year in order to meet her new-ish boyfriend. We'll call that a bonus!

Sunday, December 21

we need to talk about kevin

I came upon this movie because I really liked Chevelle's song, "Take Out the Gunman". I heard it on the radio and wanted to listen to it again, so I did a search on YouTube and watched what I thought was their official video. I was surprised to see that actress Tilda Swinton starred in it, so I did a little more research on the subject only to find out that it was a fan video that I was watching and it (effectively) used scenes from "We Need to Talk About Kevin". Intrigued, I added the movie to my Netflix queue. Brian saw it sitting on the tv console table and asked when I was going to watch it. He heard about the movie in a different context and was interested, so we popped it in the DVD player last night. It was quite engrossing. You can probably guess the subject matter from the Chevelle song.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, December 20

the 1st day of xmas

Brian and I went to a Christmas party last night. Jake stayed home to rest up because he has a cold and has his first formal dance at school is this evening. The party was held at the same place as the Halloween Party we went to in October. A former schoolmate of Brian's hosts Halloween and Christmas parties each year for friends and family. This is our second year for both parties. They always put out a great spread of food, so it's not to be missed!

Wednesday, December 17

breaking bad (reprise)

I've been wanting to watch Breaking Bad again ever since it ended. Jake, who didn't see it the first time around, also wanted to watch it, so we watched it together over the course of the past few months. It was just as good the second time around, though you definitely have a different perspective on all of the characters. Jake really liked it and Brian even joined us for a number of episodes. Up next in the Netflix streaming queue: American Horror Story.

Sunday, December 14

divergent

The three of us did a Family Movie Night last night and watched this movie. For what it was, it was fine. On a scale of Ender's Game to The Hunger Games, it fell in between. Apparently there is a sequel, which we will be watching. Jake read the first book in the series and really enjoyed it. I'm not sure if I will be reading the books, but I just might.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, December 12

sons of anarchy

Jake and I watched the series finale last night. I was mostly satisfied with the ending (but at this point, I'm happy any time a show ends and the main characters are not sitting in a diner while a Journey song plays). This final season, on the other hand, was a bit much to swallow. It definitely had some interesting moments, but the whole premise for the season was off. Overall, though, I really enjoyed this show.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, December 9

christmastime

We've been prepping for the holiday ever since Black Friday. I managed to do 99% of my shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend and figured out the rest. We usually don't decorate and put the tree up until mid-December, but Jake wanted to do that earlier this year, so we did just that. I finished making the Christmas cards and am in the process of mailing them this week. I still need to wrap gifts (which I will be doing this coming weekend) and make some treats. I'm only doing people treats this year (and not many at that). Sorry, dogs (I'll make it up to you later). We're having Christmas dinner here, but there's not a lot I can do for that until closer to the day. I do have the menu figured out. I hope I'm not missing anything. If I am, I'm sure it will become apparent closer to the day.

Sunday, December 7

rental

I've been wanting to get out of the rental business for a little while now. But, since we have continually had renters since we bought our rental house in 2011, getting out hadn't been an option--until now. Our most recent tenant moved out at the end of last month. This has given me time to sow the seeds of my discontent with Brian. After spending yesterday afternoon painting the living room of the rental (and my argument was helped in a small part by the fact that the toilet wouldn't stop running when we were there and, when he tried to use the shut off valve, it started leaking all over the place. now the water to the whole house is off...), I think I finally have him convinced.

On one hand, having the extra income is great. On the other hand, our main source of income keeps us quite busy and it would be nice to be able to relax on the weekends instead of having to do improvement projects at yet another property (in addition to our house, we also own our office building, so we're already maintaining two properties).

Of course, if we're going to sell it, we have a lot more work to do than if we're just going to rent it again. Our intention of painting the living room and dining room and replacing the carpeting has turned into painting (or possibly remodeling the kitchen), replacing outlets/switch covers,installing new blinds, doing some cleanup maintenance outside, performing a thorough cleaning of the place, and more! So, I guess this means we're going to be busy for the next couple of months.

That said, I would be amenable to having rental properties in the future. Note, that I said properties. If we had a couple of them, we could afford to hire someone for all of this maintenance stuff. With one, not so much.

Worst case, if the place doesn't sell quickly, we could always rent it out again.

Saturday, December 6

revival

This book was Stephen King's take on the classic Frankenstein story. It was much more original than Dean Koontz's take. At any rate, I really, really enjoyed the first part of the book (the part where the main character is growing up--no one does that like Stephen King), but after the main character became an adult, things got a little slow. And, I didn't care much for the twist at the end. It was a quick read, though.

My rating: 3.5/5

Friday, December 5

busting myths

We went to IUP's Kovalchick Complex last night to see the MythBusters Behind the Myths Tour. It was quite entertaining. While they did not exactly bust any myths, they did talk about a lot of things from the show and had a bunch of audience participation opportunities. It was a fun night and definitely worth seeing for fans of the show.

Thursday, December 4

senioritis

Today is Buster's seventh birthday. Typically speaking, larger dogs are considered to be a senior once they turn seven. So, now we're officially running an old pets home (it's like an old folks home, but with pets). Marley is 15; Alice is 14.5; and Lizzy turns 13 next month. Perhaps it's time to increase our monthly veterinary allowance.

Monday, December 1

long weekend

It was nice catching an extended break from work. I had a lot of things to do around the house, and was able to accomplish most of them. I also put a dent in my Christmas preparations, including wrapping up almost all of my shopping (the exceptions were a few last minute items that need to be purchased closer to the date). Unfortunately, it is time to go back to work. I could do with some more four day weekends.

Sunday, November 30

child of god (movie)

It was a Cormac McCarthy kind of weekend. This was a better adaptation of the novel than the movie we watched on Thanksgiving, but was nowhere near the level of No Country for Old Men or The Road. A number of key scenes were left out, which was rather disappointing, but at least the movie came in under two hours (you know how I feel about long movies). My biggest complaint, though, was the way in which the main character spoke--I couldn't understand a word he was saying.

My rating: 3.5/5

Friday, November 28

all the pretty horses

We capped off an enjoyable Thanksgiving afternoon, which was spent at my in-law's, with a movie. My sister-in-law and her family come in every other year for the holiday, so it was nice to see all of them and do some catching up, as we do not get to see them all that often.

Anyway, to the movie...this was an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel. I haven't read this particular book yet, so I can't comment on the adaptation, but Brian said the book is still worth reading. The critics would agree. Overall, it wasn't a bad movie, but it sounds like I would have been disappointed had I read the book before watching it.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, November 23

white house down

This was an entertaining action flick that told the story of a man (played by Channing Tatum) who had to save the president (played by Jamie Foxx) after the White House came under attack from a paramilitary group.

The movie ran a bit long for my tastes. I felt like they could have tightened things up, but once the action started, it was all action. This was a great movie for a lazy Saturday!

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, November 16

orange is the new black (book)

I finally got around to watching this show over the summer and loved it. Brian happened to be reading the book at the same time I was watching the show and he really liked it, so I thought I'd give it a read.

Normally, I don't like to watch something before I read it, but in this case, the show and book are so different, that it didn't matter. The show takes an interesting look at the lives of the other prisoners, whereas the book really only mentions them and does not talk about their stories at all. Even the main character's storyline is different between the two.

Of course, there is much more drama in the show than the book. On the other hand, I'm sure the book gave a more accurate depiction of life in low security prison.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, November 15

we're the millers

This was an amusing film, with a rather ridiculous premise -- a drug dealer puts together a fake family in order to to go to Mexico and smuggle a large amount of marijuana (the idea was that he would be less noticeable as a family man and thus making it easier to pass through the border).

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, November 9

sick day

One-third of my office has a cold (including my husband). I felt like if I could get through this weekend without being sick, I'd be home free. However, I woke up with a sore throat this morning. So much for that idea.

I'm glad getting a cold held off until today, though. Yesterday, we made a much-needed trip to Costco. We were out of everything at the office. I try to supplement with a few Staples items when we run out of office snacks, but they cost way too much. For example, a box of peppermint patties costs $10 more at Staples. Sure, I know there are costs involved in driving to Pittsburgh, but we only go a few times a year and we buy stuff for our house, too, so I have to think we're coming out ahead. We also went to my step-niece's 8th birthday party last night. So, those two things pretty much took the whole day.

Of course, I have a bunch of stuff that needs to be done today (including some outside work). I guess I better knock this stuff out before I start feeling like crap.


Sunday, November 2

great white hunter

Brian decided to start hunting this fall. When we were out to dinner with our friends the other week, the hunting discussion came up and the husband invited Brian to go turkey hunting at their camp, which they left for on Friday night. So, that was convenient.

Given this, I had no plans for the weekend, so I loaded up my "to do" list with a bunch of stuff and miraculously, I'm almost done with everything. I can get a lot done when I don't have to leave the house. I'm not sure why I ever do.

Saturday, November 1

carrie

Last night was Halloween, so, I had to watch something scary. I opted for the 2013 version of Carrie. Bonus: now I won't get that godawful Europe song Carrie stuck in my head every time I view my Netflix list.

At any rate, I thought the movie was pretty good. From what I recall, I stayed pretty true to the original.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, October 27

twilight gardening

Please note that this post does not have anything to do with teenage vampires. Or werewolves, for that matter. Rather, it is the result of not getting the garlic planted in my garden earlier in the month, when I took a day off work to do just that.

With the nice weather we've been having, I knew I'd have to commit to this task early in the week, lest I end up having to do it after the weather turns. So, I committed to planting the garlic today. I intended on leaving work a little early (or at least on time), but that did not happen. Still, I was able to get about half of the garlic planted before supper. I hurried up and ate and went back out, but it was getting dark already (and this fact isn't going to improve after the weekend). But, I did manage to get all of the garlic planted.

Unfortunately, I have a bunch of other things that need to be done outside and it appears that I'm running out of time, but at least this task is done.

Sunday, October 26

yesterday

Brian and I finished installing the railing for the office porch yesterday. Whew! It turned out really nice, if I do say so myself. We ran out of time because we had a Halloween party to go to, so we were not able to install the hardware cloth around the base of the porch, but that's a pretty small job so I'm sure we'll be able to squeeze it in at some point before the snow flies.

As for the Halloween party--it was a costume one. This was the first time I wore a costume since I was a teenager. Not one for dressing up, I found an idea for a "selfie" costume, which Jake created for me. It turned out great! Brian went as a lumberjack (which, surprisingly, didn't involve much of a change to his wardrobe) and Jake wore a red Morphsuit (which made him I don't know what).

Sunday, October 19

not quite done

A couple of weeks ago we started to replace the back porch at the office. We're making good progress, but it's not quite done yet. All of the decking is down (including the trap door), so we can check that off the list. I finished patching the concrete in the brick columns yesterday, too. And, we started on the railing. It was a pain to figure out the first one, but I think the next three will go a lot more quickly now that we have the process figured out. But, that will have to wait till next weekend, because this is going to be a busy week.

Saturday, October 18

the conjuring

Based on a "true story", this movie told the tale of a family that is haunted by a demonic presence at their recently purchased farmhouse. I thought the movie was ok, but nothing special. Brian really liked it, though he does like a good ghost story. 

My rating: 3/5

Friday, October 17

just got lucky

Today was a beautiful day. Surely, one of the last ones for the year. Coincidentally, I had today off work. My intentions were to plant garlic in the garden, but I still had a bunch of stuff growing in the garden, so I ended up removing that instead. I had a nice harvest of carrots, scallions, beans, cherry tomatoes and peppers.

I still have some weeding to do before I get to the garlic, but hopefully all of this will get done soon. It is difficult to get anything done outside since it gets dark so early now, but I guess I'll figure something out.

I did zilch outside last month, so there are plenty of other things to do (putting away the motorcycles, flower garden cleanup, getting the patio ready for winter, etc.). I do not know where this year got to.

Sunday, October 12

press craft house

We really like the downtown version of Press Bistro (though we've only been there for lunch so far), so we thought we'd give their airport location a try. We went out for dinner last night with Carol and Bob to do just that.

They had a pretty limited menu. It consisted of some appetizers, a bunch of burgers, a couple chicken sandwiches and a couple salads. The food was average. The service was great (though we were the only patrons there for the first hour or so of our dinner). I think I'll stick to the downtown location, though.

Saturday, October 11

the ocean at the end of the lane

Despite clocking in at 181 pages, this book took me weeks to read. Not because it wasn't good -- it was quite good -- but because it coincided with me installing Scrabble on my phone. I. Cannot. Stop. Playing.

Witches...childhood...memories...I'm struggling to explain the plot, so just read it.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, October 5

steeler party

A couple we are friends with invited us to a Steeler party at their house this afternoon. I used to work with the male half of the couple, so there were a few other former co-workers in attendance, too. It was good to get caught up with those people. I can't say I watched any of the game, but I did have a good time.

Afterward, we went to the office and put down a couple more deck boards. We're over halfway done! But, now we're at the point where we have to figure out the trap door. We talked through it today and I think we got things figured out (mentally speaking). We'll see how it works out in reality. I hope to get some more work done on the project this week, but we'll have to see how things are going as weekdays are usually pretty busy.

Saturday, October 4

fall production

The back porch decking and railing at our office has needed replaced since we bought the place in 2008. Recently Brian made the proclamation that it wasn't going to last another winter, so I had to get it on the schedule. We started on the project today. Everything went as planned (for a change) and we're exactly where I hoped to be with the project.

We removed all of the old stuff, which will be taken to the dump on Monday. The only wrinkle we ran into was that Brian had to replace the pipe that goes to our outside spigot and we had to run to the hardware store for a part. All of the wood underneath the deck was sound, so that made the day easier. We did get about a third of the deck down this afternoon. Jake was a huge help, so much so that I mostly stood around and fetched things. 

It's not as simple as putting the rest of the deck down, though. Under the porch, there's a stairwell that goes to the basement, so we need to figure out a trap door for that. We kind of have an idea what we're going to do, but don't have all of the details hammered out yet. Then there's the railing to do, which seems like it should be pretty easy, but who knows?

Our old railing went into brick columns so there are some holes that need to be filled and there's some painting to do, but that stuff will likely have to wait till spring.

Thursday, October 2

lizzy: an update

Lizzy continues to be stable, though she hasn't improved much in the past week. In fact, we had a little backslide when we reduced her medication early in the week, so now she's back to the higher dose. She's able to walk and stand, but she's still pretty unstable. I know this took a long time to resolve the first time, but I just wish I could remember more details about it so I had a better idea of how she's doing.

Sunday, September 28

making hay

The weather has been absolutely beautiful lately. Instead of doing something fun, we did an improvement project. We were supposed to do this project in the spring, but things kind of got away from us.

The stairs leading to the front door of our rental property needed some work, so we've been working on that intermittently over the past week. The stairs are concrete and were painted at one point, but most recently were covered with carpeting, which was getting pretty worn. I didn't want to do carpeting again, so we removed the old stuff and scraped up as much of the paint and glue as possible. Yesterday, I patched some spots and today we painted. I would have preferred to have gone for a motorcycle ride because surely this weather isn't going to persist, but what can you do?

Friday, September 26

nine lives

Lizzy has more lives than a cat. We returned to the vet today and she was pleased with the progress Lizzy is making. She did tweak her meds a bit in order to keep her on steroids longer, but things are looking good for the little yellow dog for now.

The vet thinks it is a degenerative problem, so, without surgery, we're likely to see more of this in the future. Surgery isn't exactly an option (plus there are no guarantees with it anyway), so I guess we'll just have to take things one day at a time.

Monday, September 22

it's back

Lizzy's back problem has returned. She was perfectly fine when we brought her home from the kennel yesterday afternoon, but by last night, she was having some problems getting around. This happens from time to time, so I didn't think too much of it. But, by this morning, things were significantly worse. I called the vet early this morning in order to get her a prescription for steroids, which is what they gave her the last time. By late morning, Lizzy was unable to stand using her hind legs, so I called again (the vet was still in surgery and hadn't called me back yet). They wanted us to bring her right in. Brian took care of that. They gave her a shot of steroids there and steroid pills and muscle relaxers to take home.

Things are looking so-so. Since Lizzy has already gotten through this before, there's a decent chance that she will again. The hope is to see some improvement in her condition by tomorrow. If we do, she's probably in good shape. It could take a little longer, but if we don't see an improvement by the end of the week, it is not likely to happen. But, I guess we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 21

mike & katie

Yesterday was my brother's wedding. All three of us were part of the bridal party, so it was an eventful day for the Law household. The rehearsal was on Friday night and the dinner was held at the Crimson Room in Portage. The wedding was held at Ss. Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church and the reception at The Royal Ballroom, both in Portage.

The service was a long one (over an hour and 15 minutes--so my feet were sore before the fun even began). The day followed the normal wedding pattern--after the service there was the requisite picture-taking and then the reception followed by helping my parents with the cleanup afterwards (taking the extra food and hauling the gifts to my parents' house). There were a bunch of people (relatives, old friends) at the wedding who I haven't seen in a long time and I was truly happy to see them (high praise from me, that's for sure). There were also a bunch of people I see on a regular basis and it was just as nice to see them, too. 

I do miss my puppies, though. Due to yesterday's extra-long day, we boarded the dogs all weekend and they won't be coming home until this afternoon. I took tomorrow off work as a recovery day, so I'm sure we'll be able to get caught up on lost time. 

Sunday, September 14

mud

This was a story about two teenagers who help out a drifter, played by Matthew McConaughey, who turns out to be a fugitive. McConaughey seems to be everywhere these days. He's also in "True Detective", which I started watching this past week. Anyway, this movie was a good enough knitting companion.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, September 13

limoncello

I promised Judy that I'd show her how to make limoncello the next time I made a batch, and this happened last night. I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but I realized recently that if I wanted to have it ready by Christmas, I had better get on the ball.

Limoncello is a pretty simple process, so we spent more time talking (and drinking limoncello from my last batch) than anything, but it was nice to have some help nonetheless. Jake even pitched in when it came time to zest the lemons so that process went super fast.

We're planning to get together for steps two and three, so that will be a good excuse to hang out again a few more times this year.

Sunday, September 7

the fall

The garden's winding down and the long range forecast is showing cooler temperatures ahead. Moments ago, I ordered garlic for the garden, which will be planted mid-October. I'm afraid the summer may be over. It was a rather hectic summer with a lot of events and the weather wasn't the greatest, so it feels like summer didn't even happen. I only had the a/c on once. I guess I shouldn't complain about that due to the cost of running it, but I think that goes to show how crappy the weather was.

I don't mind fall so much and I've come to terms with winter, but I just love summer, so I'm sad to see it go. With it getting dark earlier, I find myself with more time on my hands, which is a good thing. So, I've been trying to tackle some things that I've been putting off and I've been doing a good job with that.

But, with the way time has been flying lately, I guess summer will be here again soon enough.

Monday, September 1

labor day

We started off the weekend by going to the Ethnic Fest for supper--you can't beat the pierogies at St. Mary's church! On Saturday, we hit the Log House Festival briefly in the morning. Then, we "labored" the rest of the day by painting our living room and dining room. That was tiring, but at least it's done. On Sunday, nothing much happened. We thought about going to the fair, but it was kind of rainy and the living and dining rooms needed to be put back together, so we opted to stay in all day. This afternoon, we went on a quick motorcycle ride then I made a batch of sauce from the tomatoes from my garden. We had that for dinner and there's a bunch left over for the freezer. I guess it's back to the grind tomorrow.

Saturday, August 30

out of the furnace

This movie took place in nearby Braddock, PA. It could have easily taken place in Johnstown from the looks of it. The main character was played by Christian Bale (and he was perfect in this role). The story was one of revenge, so it was right up my alley. Brian liked it, too.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, August 29

experiment

Edit: Sauerkraut. I forgot to mention the sauerkraut.

I took the past four Friday afternoons off in order to do some food preservation. The summer weekends always seem so busy and there's no time during the week for more intensive tasks.

This month, I canned two types of jam and pickled hot cherry peppers; made and froze a couple of loaves of zucchini bread; froze some corn and beans; and made refrigerator pickles.

There are still some things I need to can or freeze, but with September around the corner, I should have more time on my hands.

If I had to do it again I would just take off two full Fridays at the end of the month, which is probably what I'll do next year.

Sunday, August 24

the birthdays and more

This afternoon, we had the annual birthday celebration for my Mom, Dad and Grandma. The festivities took place at my brother's house and we split the food duties between us.

After we got home, I worked on a knitting project that I've been trying to finish (I should be able to wrap things up by tomorrow at the latest). I probably should have gone outside, but the weather is looking good for this week, so there's always another day for that.

Today is the last day of summer for Jake. It's back to school tomorrow. Not just school, but high school. Four years to go! I remember how long that seemed to take when I was in high school, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it's going to go a lot faster for me this time around.

Saturday, August 23

captain phillips

We watched this movie last night. It was quite engrossing. The movie told the real-life story of Richard Phillips, a man whose cargo ship was overtaken by Somali pirates. With the exception of a little setup at the beginning of the story, it was nonstop action until the end.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, August 17

25th class reunion

Brian's 25th class reunion took place at Pit Stop 271 in Nanty Glo. It was an ok evening for what it was. There was a pretty small turnout--they were expecting less than 50 people and that included spouses (out of a class of around 100). They handed out "save the date" cards for the next one. Not sure if these are necessary every 5 years...

Saturday, August 16

garden update

I feel like I didn't pay enough attention to my garden this year. I'm not sure if it's due to the crappy weather or just because it was a busy summer. But, here are the highlights.

Tomatoes: I've been having a fungal problem with my tomatoes the past few years and that continued this year. I've been researching the problem, but haven't found any solutions that work, unfortunately. My only real recourse is to plant in a different area (if only I had one). This year I just let them go and they're about in the same shape as past years (where I sprayed them and kept up with removing the damaged leaves). This has been very disappointing because I'd really like to can a bunch of tomatoes.

Pole beans: I got a nifty pole bean tower at the end of last season, so I planted some pole beans this year. Those things grew like Jack's beans--the tower wasn't tall enough! I got (and am still getting) a nice harvest from them and that's just from a few plants. The funny thing is that I don't even eat green beans (but the guys love them).

Garlic: I had a nice harvest of garlic this season, but that always performs well for me.

Swiss chard: I planted some of this in my "shady garden" and it has been producing all season.

Cukes: I had a decent harvest of these, but not enough to make canned pickles, though I did make some refrigerator pickles to use up the harvest. I had to tear the plants out last night as they were done for the season.

Some other items performed well; some others average; and some others below expectations, but I guess that's how it usually goes.

Saturday, August 9

enough said

This was a move about a divorcee (played by the always wonderful Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who unknowingly started dating a new friend's ex-husband (played by the late, great James Gandolfini). That's all there is to it, really. I thought it was a good, solid movie.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, August 4

gone girl

I heard that this was supposed to be a good book and it was! I also heard they were making a movie out of it (and was pleasantly surprised to hear that David Fincher was directing it), so I added it to my "must read" list for 2014. I love a good twist in a novel and this book was chock full of them. I really liked the format of the book--there were two main characters in the book and the chapters alternated the point of view between the two of them. I wonder if the movie will do the same?

If anything negative could be said about the book, it would be that neither of the main characters were very likable, but it was still a great read.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, August 3

anchorman 2: the legend continues

We watched this movie over the weekend. I figured a Family Movie Night would be a good way to wrap up our time off. This one wasn't quite as painful for me to watch as the original, but the guys seemed to like it well enough.

My rating: 2/5

Saturday, August 2

the one where they forgot the luggage

We went to River Forest Lodge again for vacation this year. We arrived mid-afternoon and got settled in. Afterwards, I was looking for something that was packed in my luggage and couldn't find our luggage. As it turns out, we didn't bring it. Our two bags were sitting in the hall because, as we were getting ready in the morning, we were still packing things in them. No one brought them out to the living room with the other stuff and they got left behind. It went unnoticed because, there was SO MUCH stuff to pack (particularly since we took an extra person, one of Jake's friends). Luckily, we weren't so far away that we couldn't return home to get it. Brian sacrificed his first evening of vacation to drive back home and get our luggage. He's a keeper. I'm betting we won't leave our luggage behind again in the future.

That said, with the exception of a group of bikers stopping by to check out the campsite (which I found rather annoying), it was all smooth sailing from that point on. Well, it did rain a lot and was on the cool side, but the guys were able to do a lot of fishing and I was able to do a lot of knitting and reading (though not in the preferred spot of my hammock). We had a wonderful time and the week went by so fast. I did not want to return home.

We took Buster and Alice this year. That experiment was received with mixed reviews. Buster was barkier than I hoped--he didn't much like it when people would come and go, though his attitude did improve a bit by the end of the week. Alice did not quite have the revival that she usually does, but the old girl is 14...

Besides hanging around the cabin, we did do a couple of other things. We were in town from Saturday-Friday, so we were able to check out the Tionesta Market Village this year (it's only open on weekends). We also made a trip to the Reiland Farm and Shoppe to check out the animals (and buy yarn!). We stopped in to see one of our clients at the Forest County Visitors Center and took a walk through the fish hatchery while in town. Brian took a 9 mile canoe/fishing trip from Tidioute to our campsite; we also did a short walk on a river trail in Tidioute. Finally, we stopped to check out the Hall Barn while driving around one day.

All in all another excellent and memorable vacation. I'm already planning for next year.

Friday, August 1

child of god

Another great read from Cormac McCarthy. I think he just ended up on my favorite authors list. I read that they made a movie from this book (I saw the trailer--it was excellent!), so I had to read it before the movie came out. It was really more of a short story than a novel (not sure how long it was because I bought it for my Kindle, but it only took a couple of hours to read). If you are so inclined, you can read about the plot here.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, July 25

flying time

Where has the summer gone? I can't believe it's going to be August in a week. This has been a busy summer so far--lots of stuff going on, but never enough time to do the things I really want to do (gardening, riding motorcycles). We have hardly ridden our bikes at all this summer--we need to resolve to get out every weekend possible in August and September otherwise I'm going to start to wonder why we own these bikes. I feel like I haven't spent a lot of time gardening, too (though it feels like I've spent a lot of time weeding). Let's hope August is more productive.

Monday, July 21

the stonemason

Another great one from Cormac McCarthy. Apparently, this guy only writes great stuff. This particular book happened to be a screenplay. I could totally picture it being done as a play, but I guess that's the idea.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, July 20

check

After Brian completed our new kitchen ceiling, I determined that the kitchen could use a coat of paint. I don't normally like to schedule home improvement projects for myself over the summer, but this one couldn't wait because Brian still needs to put up the trim around the ceiling (which will also be painted). I decided to go with a different color this time around. Previously the walls were gray, now they are tan (which is very complementary to the cabinets and the ceiling). I thought about doing a bolder color, but was not able to come up with anything that I liked and that also went with the cabinets, ceiling, floor and countertops. It took quite a bit of time to paint--there's so much stuff to go around. The last time the kitchen was painted was when we remodeled it (14 years ago!) and we did the painting before the cabinets went up so it was much easier that time. It was a long afternoon, but at least the job is done.

Wednesday, July 16

wtf kia?

Recently, I had the brilliant idea to bring home a bale of straw in the trunk of the car (yeah, I know, it's not like we don't own a truck). It made a bigger mess than I anticipated. Needless to say, I had to vacuum the trunk. While doing so, I noticed that we did not have a spare tire. At first I thought it was because we bought our vehicle used, but then I did some research and found out that Kia does not provide a spare tire as standard equipment for the Optima.

Apparently eliminating the spare tire is a new thing that car manufacturers are doing to save money and to get (very slightly) better gas mileage ratings. They are also using the excuse that today's tires are better and that tire pressure monitoring has cut down on the number of flats people are getting. Whatever. Not one to take a chance, I ordered a spare tire last week and it is now snugly positioned in the trunk.

Saturday, July 12

mr. mercedes

This is the latest book from Stephen King. It was about a home-grown terrorist who got away with one crime and the attempt to stop him before the next. There was nothing supernatural going on here--the book was straight-up crime fiction (a genre Mr. King has visited before). It was an enjoyable read.

My rating: 4/5

1999

That's how we partied last night. We had a number of friends (most of whom we haven't seen in quite some time) over for some drinks and snacks. It was such a fun evening. Though I was up past my usual bedtime--I guess I'll need a nap today. We're definitely going to have to do this more frequently.

Sunday, July 6

the fourth

Since Brian was away for our anniversary last weekend, we celebrated on Friday by going for a nice, long motorcycle ride before lunch and then we had a cookout for supper. We were hoping to squeeze a few more activities in, but Brian's working on a home improvement project this weekend (a new ceiling for the kitchen), so there was no time for additional frivolity.

Yesterday, we went to a party at a friend's house. Afterwards, we met up for drinks with one of Brian's high school friends.

Nothing fun occurred today, but I do have a lot of housework to catch up on once the kitchen project is done.

Thursday, July 3

six feet under

I watched this series again recently and enjoyed it even more than my first viewing 10 years ago. The first time I watched it, I found seasons 3 and 4 to be unbearably slow, but they didn't bother me this time (and you'd think since I already knew the plot they'd be even more boring). It must have had something to do with the frequency of which I was able to watch the show the 2nd time. Perhaps things aren't as boring if you don't have to wait a week between episodes. I don't know, but I do know that this is a fantastic show with an even more fantastic ending. The best series finale ever. Period. While Brenda was my favorite character through both viewings, it's interesting to note that my favorite Fisher the first time around (Nate) was not my favorite this time (David). I will definitely watch this again in the future.

Sunday, June 29

dallas buyers club

This was a pretty good movie. I guess that much should be obvious based upon the number of Academy Awards that it won. Though I do question having to lose that much weight for a role. Matthew McConaughey was a good-looking guy before this movie, but he still looks rather cadaverous--even after gaining much of the weight back.

In case you don't know, McConaughey played someone who contracted AIDS before there were effective treatments for it. Frustrated by the lack of treatment options available, he formed a "Dallas Buyers Club" where, for a monthly fee, he would supply AIDS victims with necessary medication. The movie was based on a true story, but I don't know how accurate of a depiction it was.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, June 28

thunder, interrupted

Due to a work deadline and a boy scout camping trip, our enjoyment of Thunder was a little disappointing this year. We managed to go for a quick ride yesterday afternoon and then went downtown for about an hour later in the afternoon. That was it. Oh well, I guess there's always next year. (Though that mantra is starting to sound familiar...)

Thursday, June 26

social times two

This is a rarity for me--two outings in one day. Yesterday, I met up with my cousin Chris for lunch at Panera. We've been trying to get together every couple of months this year and, I'm glad to say, we've been meeting our goal. And, after work, I went out for drinks with my friend/coworker to celebrate the end of a particularly taxing project at the office.

Tuesday, June 24

garden time

The vegetable garden is doing well this year. I'm a little concerned with all of the rain we've been getting as some of the tomato plants are getting spotty leaves like the past two seasons. Other than that, everything looks good (especially the potato plants--they are huge!).

This was my first year for strawberries and I had quite the harvest. I made Strawberry Margarita Jam a couple of weekends ago and that turned out as good as expected. I'm going to use up the rest of the berries this weekend in my regular jam.

The fruit trees, on the other hand, don't appear to have any blossoms or fruit on them. I'm blaming the winter. On a related not, something (rabbits) ate all of the bark off the lower part of the trees over the winter, so I'm glad the trees are still alive.

Monday, June 23

45

My brother and I treated my parents to dinner yesterday in celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary. The three of us, my brother's crew and my grandmother were there, too. We went to Asiago's Tuscan Italian. I don't normally enjoy eating out, but I have to say that the food there is great! That's my second time there this year and they haven't disappointed me yet.

Sunday, June 22

august: osage county

This was quite an engaging film full of incredible actors (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Juliette Lewis and so on). It was a story about a dysfunctional family that is brought together for a funeral. The movie was more about the interactions between the characters and was kind of light on plot, but I did rather enjoy it.

My rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, June 19

all fall down

Sometimes, I have unfortunate timing when it comes to choosing a book. In this instance, I started this book just before my family birthday party in May. Of course, I ended up getting a bunch of interesting books that day that I've been itching to read ever since. And, to top things off, I received the latest Stephen King book in the mail recently, so that gave me even more motivation to finish this book.

Not that there was anything intrinsically wrong with this book (which had a serial killer-type storyline), but I did figure out whodunit rather early in the story, which didn't make it particularly compelling to read. But, I toughed it out and finished last night. I'm going to read the Stephen King book next, but that shouldn't take long, then I can move on to my birthday books!

My rating: 3/5

Monday, June 16

ender's game

This was a fine movie for Family Movie Night, but not my cup of tea, otherwise. Unlike, say, The Hunger Games, I think this movie would appeal more to kids than adults. It did have some great special effects, but was lacking in the plot department. The movie was one from a series of books, so I guess there will be more to come. I can't say that I will watch the next one.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, June 15

the returned

I mentioned this show a few times in my previous posts. It is a French series about a group of previously dead people from the same town, who reappeared one day. Some of the people were dead for a short amount of time, others significantly longer. When they return, they are the same age as when they died and don't remember what happened the day of their death, so it's like nothing has changed for them. It was quite an interesting season. There were some things in the plot that weren't explained, so I'm hoping that they cover that in season 2, which is supposed to be released later this year.

Saturday, June 14

the confirmed

I failed to write about Jacob's confirmation, which occurred last Sunday. The day started off at church, of course. Jake had a good showing of family members there and we all got to sit through an hour and fifty minute(!) service (which really isn't that much longer than the normal service there, unfortunately).

After church, it started to rain, which didn't make me happy because we were planning an outside party. It didn't rain too long, though, so we still were able to hold the festivities outside. Brian set up a tent on the patio and we also have a big tree (and a table with an umbrella) that kept most of the rain off of everyone.

Despite the rain, it was a nice afternoon. I guess our next big bash will be graduation in four years!

Friday, June 13

fourteen

Alice turned the big 1-4 yesterday. In reality, we don't know when her actual birthday is, but that's the day we adopted her from the Humane Society of Somerset County, so that's the date we use. Yesterday also marked her 8th anniversary of being our dog. We never would have thought that when we adopted an approximately six year old dog that we would have been lucky enough to have her for eight years. But, we are lucky, indeed.

Saturday, June 7

birthday

I had my birthday off on Thursday. I did manage to squeeze in a couple of fun things in between housework and errands. Namely, letterpress and knitting. I received letterpress stuff for Christmas but hadn't really had a chance to use it yet. I ordered some plates for it earlier in the week and made some "thank you" cards on Thursday. They came out pretty well--I was pleased with my efforts. I also took some time to knit and wrapped up a coaster set for Everyone Drinks. Brian grilled up some dinner and, among other things, I received a new chiminea that replaced my busted up one (and we gave it a work out last night).

Thursday, June 5

the graduate

Last night, we went to our niece Erika's high school graduation. Boy, did those 18 years go fast! I'm sure she will be a great success!

It's hard to believe, but we will have another graduation in four short years.

Monday, June 2

work and play

We spent most of the weekend getting the yard into shape. There are still some things to do out there (there always are), but at least it's passable at this point. We also managed to have some fun by going to the PolkaFest yesterday afternoon to catch Alex Meixner, who was completely awesome. He does polka versions of rock songs as part of his show. I hope they are able to bring him back next year.

Sunday, June 1

nebraska

This movie was ok, but it was rather boring. It told the story of a man who took his aging father on a trip to claim his (the father's) "winnings" from a Publisher's Clearing House-type sweepstakes. I guess when you put it that way, it shouldn't be surprising that it was boring. There were a few good scenes in it, but that's about it.

My rating: 2.5/5

Monday, May 26

memorial day

Today was spent at home with an exception of a late-morning motorcycle ride. We took Somerset Pike to 30 and then caught 711 in Ligonier and followed it home. There were a ton of bikes out today.

After lunch, I did a bit of gardening, then I lounged in the hammock and knitted (and also shut my eyes for a few minutes). After supper, there was more gardening--I got everything planted and Brian and Jake did some weeding/yard work.

Now, it's time to relax with a gin and tonic while watching The Returned.

Sunday, May 25

party on garth

We went to our first cookout/party of the season last night. It was at my brother's house. We're going to our second one this afternoon at my in-law's. In between all of the partying, I'm trying to get my garden planted. I got some stuff in yesterday (Brian even helped--he was on weed and watering duty); I expect to get some more stuff in today; surely, by tomorrow, everything will be in. The weather has been great this Memorial Day weekend and that is not usually the case. But, I guess we deserved some nice weather after the crappy winter and spring.

Monday, May 19

early birthday

Yesterday, we went to my parents' house for an early birthday celebration for me (and a timely one for my brother, whose birthday was yesterday). I got a bunch of nice presents--the newest NIN cd, some kitchen stuff and a bunch of books. Unfortunately, I just started reading a book over the weekend, so I'll need to finish it quickly so I can get to the new ones (never mind the other stack of unread books in my library!)

Sunday, May 18

summer blues

I am so far behind this year with gardening, yard work and the like. This spring's weather has been horrible. When it's not raining, it's cold outside. I guess I could work in the cold, but it's hard to find the motivation to do so. It's going to be warming up a little bit this week, so I'll definitely need to make some progress. The yard is a mess!

Tuesday, May 13

trece de mayo

Today was Jacob's fourteenth birthday. The three of us celebrated by going to Rey Azteca for supper. It was good, as always. For as long as I can remember, we've been going out to eat on Jacob's birthday to whatever restaurant he picks. Rey Azteca has had quite a run. I guess that's really the only time we go there, so it's not like he's had a chance to tire of it. I wonder if we'll be back next year?

Saturday, May 10

frankenstein: city of night

This book was a continuation of the first story. Much like the first one, this one did not come to any sort of conclusion, though the ending was more abrupt in this case. I liked it well enough, but I would have liked some sort of ending. I realize there are a few more books in the series, but I can only read so much Koontz in a year.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, May 8

debut

Jake made not one, but two, debuts this week. The first one was his public drumming debut with the Westmont Middle School Chorus, of which he is a member. Their spring concert was on Tuesday and he played the drum set during one of the songs. The second was this evening at the Community Arts Center's Greater Johnstown Young Artists Exhibit where one of his art projects from school was on display. And, not only was it on display, but it also won a merit award, which came with a small monetary prize. Our niece Erika also had a piece of art on display there and also won a merit award. Kudos to Jake and Erika!

Monday, May 5

social activities

On Saturday, I went to a baby shower for a friend's daughter-in-law. It was at Off the Rak in Ebensburg, which is an establishment that I rather like. The lunch was great and there were no shower games (I approve). And, I even passed out one business card.

Yesterday, we had Jake's family birthday party. I guess it was family+ this year because a few of his friends were invited, too. It was a bit of a rush to get everything ready for the party since I wasn't home Saturday afternoon, but I managed. We had to have the party in the house because of the weather (we usually have it outside), so Brian took Lizzy and Buster to doggy day care. It was well worth the money.

Sunday, May 4

don jon

This movie was about a guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who was addicted to porn and how he overcame it. This was a comedy, by the way. The storyline was pretty good at the beginning, but it got kind of sappy at the end. I won't go into the details. But the real star of this movie was Tony Danza, who played the father of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He stole every scene he was in with his excess of f-bombs. Who's the boss now? I'd say it's Tony Danza.

My rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, May 1

law day

My father-in-law informed me that today is Law Day. I must have known this on some level, because I took the day off.

I'd been wanting to take a day off for a while now, but things have been busy at the office and I don't like taking time off when I have too much to do. I managed to whittle down my to do list to a manageable level recently, so I decided to take a day off.

I didn't have anything special planned for the day. I was hoping to do some gardening, but the weather isn't great. I've already shot the morning by going to the recycling place in Ebensburg to drop off some electronics for recycling. The afternoon doesn't look much better. But at least I do a better job of taking time off than Brian does--he typically works a half day when he does so (plus he usually doesn't even have to use time off because he works too many hours in a week). Whereas, I've worked less than an hour so far today. We'll call it a winner.

Sunday, April 27

8 mile

Brian was at a gun thing most of the weekend, so Jake and I decided to watch a movie on Saturday night. He likes hip-hop and wanted to see Eminem's 8 Mile. Brian and I caught that movie years ago (at the Westwood Plaza Theatre) when it was originally released. Jake really enjoyed it. I thought it held up well in its 2nd viewing.

My rating: 3/5

tea party

Not the political group, but actual tea. Every year the Portage Historical Society (of which my mother is a member) hosts a tea party fundraiser. I don't go every year, but I try to go when I can. This year, as in a previous year, my friend Carol attended with me. As always, it was great to see Carol (even if it was a little difficult to converse given that we were seated on opposite sides of the table).

Monday, April 21

easter 2014

Yesterday was spent at my parents' house with an assortment of relatives. It was a nice afternoon and the weather was decent, too. Of course, it's calling for snow again tomorrow night--what's with Tuesdays and snow? The weather better get nice soon, or else!

Sunday, April 20

picasso

We're a little behind with our painting project. I hoped to be done last month, then I changed it to April, but all hope is lost. We painted the living room, dining room and foyer ceilings yesterday, but we still have the walls to do in those rooms and our bedroom. So, it's not going to get done this month for sure. Maybe next? Probably not.

Sunday, April 13

more, please

What a beautiful weekend filled with awesome activities. Friday night, we bottled two batches of wine. I covered yesterday in this post. As for today: this morning, I finished knitting Jake's hat; I got in some more gardening (my hope is to get the pond opened up tomorrow, so I was cleaning leaves and whatnot from around that area); Brian got my motorcycle back in running order (and we took a spin around the block on it--his bike's still in the shed); and I'm currently preparing to bottle a batch of limoncello. Whew!

Saturday, April 12

gardening seminar

This morning, I went to a gardening seminar on backyard fruit production. Ron McIntosh (the former "Green Grower" on WJAC-TV from way back) was the instructor. The seminar, held at Sandyvale, was full of great information. This was the last one in the spring series, but they're planning on doing some more in the fall. I'd definitely go to another one of these.

Even better, I came home and did some gardening.

Thursday, April 10

knitting frenzy

Since I'm still waiting for the weather to warm up (should be happening today!), I've had a lot of time to knit. I finished Brian's hat last weekend and started on a hat for Jake. Jake's hat should be done this weekend, then I'll have to decide on my next project (or maybe get a couple going at once). 

While I haven't gotten outside yet this spring, I did manage to get a bunch of seeds planted in the house. But, this weekend's calling for 100% chance of gardening. I can't wait!

Saturday, April 5

american hustle

I couldn't wait to watch this movie, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe I just had too many things going on while trying to watch it (work stuff, knitting issues), but I just couldn't get into it. Brian, on the other hand, loved it. Go figure.

My rating: 3/5

Friday, April 4

asiago's tuscan italian

Yesterday was my mother-in-law's birthday, which we celebrated at Asiago's Tuscan Italian restaurant. I've been wanting to check that place out for a while, so it was nice to finally go there. Originally, the restaurant was located in Richland, but now it is at the Inclined Plane location in Westmont. We practically had the place to ourselves. I realize it was a Thursday and all, but it makes me wonder how these places stay open. At any rate, I thought the food was really good (I had the Tuscan Chicken) and, best of all, I have leftovers for today's lunch.

Sunday, March 30

still knitting

Not much has been going on here. I've started a few seedlings indoors, but Mother Nature hasn't been cooperating as far as getting anything done outside. Jake finished up rifle league yesterday, so that will save me some running around on Saturdays moving forward. I'm still knitting like a fiend--I finished knitting a scarf for myself last weekend and have started on a hat for Brian. And, in between, I've been working on some felted coasters--I'm still trying to figure out that process, though. Given all of the knitting, I haven't been doing much reading--just some nonfiction and magazines.

As far as tv-type entertainment, I started watching an interesting show last night called "The Returned". It's about a group of people (from a village in France) who return from the dead with no recollection of dying. I'm only one episode in, but I think I'm going to like it. I'm also going to be starting season 3 of "Six Feet Under" soon, so movies will be on hold for a while. Brian and I have been watching an interesting series on human behavior (we're about half way through the series). And, tonight is the season finale of "The Walking Dead"--should be good!

Sunday, March 23

slow week

Nothing notable happened last week. Though I did fail to mention previously that I've dusted off my tutoring hat and am tutoring a student in math right now. We had our 2nd session last week and things seem to be going well.

Friday night we watched Step Brothers. Brian and I watched it before, but Jake wanted to see it. My original assessment of the film still stands. At least this time, I was able to be productive while watching, as I worked on my scarf (which should be wrapping up today).

Jake had his last rifle league session yesterday (well, he has his rifle league party next week, but yesterday was the last day of shooting). We had to pick him up afterwards, so my mom invited us to dinner. I had lunch there, too. Surely that's the most meals I've eaten there in one day in over 20 years.

In between eating meals, Brian and I painted the hallway. I was hoping to have the house painted by the end of the month (since gardening season is coming up), but thanks to procrastinating, that's not going to happen. I guess there's always next month. Given the way the weather has been, I guess it doesn't really matter.


Monday, March 17

dinner

Last night, Judy came over for dinner. With the exception of a fracas between Lizzy and Alice, it was a great evening. Not only did we get to eat, drink and talk, but she also stuck around to watch The Walking Dead (and what an episode that was!). Plus, Judy brought a bottle of limoncello that she purchased on a trip to Italy. (How do we rate?) I was still feeling the effects of that this morning, but I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, March 12

the cure

I'm happy to report that Buster is doing pretty well on Prozac. Maybe not quite as good as when he was on Clomicalm, but good enough. And, I doubt they will stop manufacturing Prozac any time soon, so we should be good to go, though who really knows?

Sunday, March 9

flight

This movie told the story of a plane that encountered mechanical difficulties and was then crash landed by the pilot (played by Denzel Washington), saving most of the passengers on board. The twist was, in the subsequent investigation, it was found that the pilot was intoxicated while flying (the intoxication issue was not the cause of the crash, though). I won't tell you how it ends, but I will say the crash scene was pretty spectacular (and made me want to not fly ever again). However, the rest of the movie was so-so.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, March 6

limpin' lizards

A update on the dogs...Alice and Buster are doing well enough--Alice's lip looks good and I think Buster's prozac is finally starting to kick in. However, Lizzy has been limping more often as of late (she's been limping off and on for a couple of weeks). If this keeps up, she's going to need to make a trip to the vet's office, too.

Sunday, March 2

questioning my choices

We spent yesterday painting Jake's room. He wanted the walls painted turquoise and gray so we obliged. I hope we don't have to paint them white when we put the house up for sale in a few years. As we were painting (a chore that I don't particularly enjoy), I started lamenting whatever choices I've made that have gotten me to this point. Don't most people pay other people to do their home improvements?

Conversely, I didn't mind spending 4+ hours making cheese today. Yes, I know you can buy cheese and Giant Eagle and it doesn't take 4 hours to do it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I would've rather made cheese yesterday than paint Jake's bedroom.

But, I guess I need to get those thoughts out of my head as we are also painting our bedroom, the living room, the dining room and hallway in the short term.

Thursday, February 27

the dogs

Alice had the growth on her lip removed today. She's faring well enough, though is pretty groggy at the moment. I'm sure she'll be doing much better tomorrow.

Buster is still a maniac. We'll be upping his Prozac on Saturday, so I'm hopeful things will start to improve after that. I think he was slightly better this week than last, but I wouldn't want every week to be like this.

Monday, February 24

cheese marvelous cheese

I'm attempting the cheese thing again this year. I say "attempting" because I haven't been overly impressed with my previous attempts. Yesterday, I made parmesan cheese. I tried doing the same thing last year, but parmesan is supposed to age without wax and mine got all moldy and was rendered inedible. I haven't had any mold issues with the cheese that I have waxed, so I'm going to wax the parmesan and see how that goes. I'm also going to make manchego cheese and a batch or two of cheddar. Hard cheese has to age for a while so I won't know the results of my efforts any time soon.

Saturday, February 22

prozac: day 1

Buster started taking Prozac today. It's going to take a couple of weeks to build up his dosage so we probably won't be able to tell if it's working for a bit. He was kind of a pain in the neck this past week (when he was on a very small dose of his old medication), so I can only assume/hope that we will see an improvement soon.

Friday, February 21

frankenstein: prodigal son

This was a book written jointly by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson. I was a little wary at first given my disdain for the co-written James Patterson novels, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the novel very Koontz-ish. That said, there was nothing new going on in this book, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I find that distance makes the heart grow fonder in my relationship with Dean Koontz's books. I start to get bored with him if I read too many too quickly. That said, I will be reading the next book in his Frankenstein series next. So, I'll probably be good for a while after that.

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, February 15

the end is nigh

The end of winter, that is. I just worked out my 2014 gardening schedule and things kick off on March 10, which is mere weeks away (granted, the gardening events will be taking place inside the house, but gardening is gardening). Take that, snow.

v-b day

We don't celebrate Valentine's Day, but when we do, we celebrate it as Brian's birthday. We had lasagna, a Caesar salad and a nice bottle of Valpolicella for dinner last night. Later in the evening, we watched Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy much to my chagrin (the guys picked the flick). I knitted while we watched the movie so not all was lost.

Thursday, February 13

quick puppy update

Brian took Alice to the vet today to have the lump on her lip aspirated. They did not see anything suspicious in the fluid, but the lump is getting larger, so she needs to have it removed. Her surgery is scheduled two weeks from today.

As for Buster, he is doing pretty well on his reduced medication schedule. I think the supplement (Zylkene) the vet gave us is making the difference. I'm sure he's going to be a pain in the neck next week, when he's only taking 1/4 the amount of medicine as usual, but at least we were able to get through this week relatively pain free.

Sunday, February 9

the family

We watched this movie over the weekend. It was a black comedy about a mob family in the witness protection program. Due to the "comedy" aspect, the violence was kind of over the top. The film was by no means memorable, but it was an entertaining enough way to spend some time. As an aside, for a 70 year old, Robert De Niro looked pretty good in this movie. He should think about keeping the facial hair.

My rating: 3/5

twofer

I was doubly social yesterday. Last night the three of us went out for dinner with Carol and Bob at Franklin Street Bar & Grill. We had a good time catching up, though I think the staff was ready to throw us out by the time we left as we sat around talking well beyond the time our bill was paid. We've been trying to get together for quite some time now, so I'm glad it finally happened. The good news is that we already have some events planned for spring, so it won't be so long until we see each other again.

Saturday, February 8

yarn shopping

I finished knitting Brian's scarf last night. To celebrate, my knitting teacher took me yarn shopping in Ligonier this morning so that I could get some yarn for some new projects. I can see that this is going to be an expensive hobby! Don't tell Brian...

Monday, February 3

super bowl

We had our annual Super Bowl party with our families last night. The game was awful, but it's just as well because you can't really pay attention to it when there are that many people in the room. The food was great, though. We did the main dishes and everyone brought sides. There was too much to eat! I would have liked to have seen Peyton Manning win another ring. Maybe next year...

Thursday, January 30

alice update

Brian took Alice to her vet appointment today. The vet is not sure what's growing on Alice's lip, but she does know that it's infected. So, Alice is on a course of antibiotics. One of two things is going to happen--if the lump responds to the antibiotic and shrinks, then we're good to go. Otherwise, it's probably something bad and she's going to need surgery to have it removed. Either way, the vet commented, "Alice is so old. It makes me sad." So that's not exactly a vote of confidence. This comment is not to be taken the wrong way--Alice was actually one of her first patients, so she's been seeing her for quite some time now.

Buster, on the other hand, will begin the switch to his new medication on February 8. It will be a 5-8 week process and we will not be accepting any visitors during that timeframe.

Stay tuned for more dog updates.

Monday, January 27

calm before the storm

It's official--Buster's medicine, Clomicalm, is no longer available. Well, that's not entirely true--you can get a bottle of the generic form, clomipramine, for $1000 a bottle. But, that's a little more than I want to pay. So, he's making the switch to Prozac next month. The problem is that we have to mostly wean him off of the Clomicalm first, so it's going to be a nightmare (he does not do well off his meds). Another potential problem is that we don't know if Prozac is going to have the same effect on him. We can only hope so at this point. The vet is giving us an additional medication that's supposed to calm him down during the weaning period, so we can only hope that works. Once weaned, we'll be able to start him on a small dose of Prozac and increase the dose on a weekly basis until he's at therapeutic levels. It should be a fun month.

In other dog news, Alice has a large growth on her lip, so she has an appointment to get that checked out this week. It doesn't seem to be bothering her, but you really shouldn't have an inch large lump on your lip. I hadn't noticed it until recently because it's on her bottom lip and the upper one covers it up.

Our skanky cat has been pulling his hair out for months. He's been on a couple of courses of steroids for this. Things are looking a little better with him, but not great. I think he's due for his annual checkup next month, so I guess the vet can look at it then.

Lizzy, the healthiest of them all, has been limping a bit lately, though it doesn't seem to be related to her previous back issues. She just turned 12 this month, so it's probably just arthritis or some other age-appropriate ailment combined with this ridiculously cold weather we've been having.

I'm going to need to get another job to pay for all of this.

Tuesday, January 21

running from the law

This was another one from Lisa Scottoline. It was different from the usual series I read from her, but still featured a female lawyer as the main character. It was a pretty quick read, but nothing particularly thought provoking.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, January 18

knitting 101

My friend from work offered to teach me how to knit. I took her up on her offer last night and am now in the midst of knitting a scarf for Brian. It's a simple knit stitch pattern (I don't know if that's the technical term for it, but there's nothing fancy going on). I'm already thinking about what I'd like to make next. Also, there was pizza! And wine! I could do with more evenings like that!

Sunday, January 12

the hangover: part iii

Put a fork in 'em, they're done. This was my least favorite of the "Hangover" movies and I wasn't that huge of a fan of the previous ones. But, it gets a half of a star for the hilarious scene that takes place during the credits.

My rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, January 5

the hunger games: catching fire

I took Jake and one of his friends to see this movie last night (at the Westwood Plaza Theatre, of course). It was pretty darn good. It's been a while since I read the book, but it seemed to follow it pretty well. There were some things that I found hard to visualize while reading the book and those things were pulled off in a spectacular fashion in the movie. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Jennifer Lawrence (who played the main character in the movie) is awesome!

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, January 4

zero dark thirty

This movie told the story of the 10 year hunt for Osama bin Laden. I was expecting more action and less strategizing, but was not rewarded. The movie was well-acted, but rather long and drawn-out (there was not a whole lot of plot for the 2:30+ runtime).

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, January 1

2013 in review

Much like Judy, I thought 2013 was going to be THE year, but it ended up being just another year.

We'll start with work...We were short staffed the first four months of the year. That did not help us achieve our goals for the year. However, by the end of 2013, we were able to get our staffing levels back up and then some. And, we have yet another person starting next week, and an intern, too, so 2014 is looking good on the work front already.

On the entertainment front, my favorite movie, hands-down, was Silver Linings Playbook. How can you not love Jennifer Lawrence? My favorite book was Joe Hill's NOS4A2. Don't tell his dad (Stephen King), but I think the torch has been passed. And, the best thing on TV was Breaking Bad. I'm going to have to watch that series again for sure. The year looked promising for music with new NIN and QOTSA, but both albums ended up being a big disappointment for me. I did get a bunch of new CDs (Soundgarden, Black Sabbath and Alice In Chains) for Christmas, but I haven't given them a proper listening to yet, so I can't comment on those at this point.

Other highlights...I got some new ink and we vacationed (yet again) in Forest County. I also got a sidecar for my bike. It took a while to get it installed properly, but I'm good to go for 2014, so I expect to do a lot of riding this year. And, I had my 25th class reunion, so I'm officially old.

My least favorite moments of the year were as follows:
So, here's to 2014!

side effects

This movie was supposed to be about how the side effects from a popular antidepressant negatively affected one woman and her husband (she killed him while in a sleepwalking state. that's pretty negative, right?). However, there was more to it than you might think. The end was pretty convoluted and it seemed like it took a long time to get there, but it was an ok movie overall.

My rating: 3/5