Thursday, December 31

mary, mary

This is the second book I've read with this title. I liked this one, which was written by James Patterson, better than the first. This book was pretty good, but if you've read one by Patterson, you've read them all. The plot twist at the end was completely unpredictable. I hate when that happens. Oh, and this was from the Alex Cross series, which is my favorite series from this author.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, December 28

christmas 2015

It was a flurry of family activities over the holiday and weekend. On Christmas Eve, we celebrated at my parents. Christmas Day was spent with my in-laws. Then, my family came to our house for a visit on Saturday and my in-laws came for a visit on Sunday. And, now I'm back to work! But, it's a short work week (I'm only working today and Wednesday).

Brian and Jake give me a handmade present each year for Christmas. This year, I received a slew of framed family photos (with handmade frames, of course). The pictures are now hanging on the formerly blank wall of my dining room. That was my nicest present, but the present that I used the most was my adult coloring book (it's addictive).

Thursday, December 24

the weather

So, this weather, huh? No matter how the rest of the winter goes, this has to be one of the mildest on record. 60 degree temps on Christmas--I'll take it! Though it is nice to have some snow around the holiday, I can live without it.

I regret that I didn't plant a fall/winter garden this year. Given the mild temps, it would have been a great year for it. I'm concerned about the garlic I planted--it's growing like crazy, but it's supposed to be dormant at this point. I hope it doesn't mess up my harvest.

Sunday, December 20

the spy who came for christmas

This book was in my "to read" pile. I grabbed it because it was short and it is Christmas. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It was a spy story and that part of things was pretty interesting. I wasn't 100% on board with the ending--it felt a little forced (and not likely to happen).

The book was written by the author who wrote the "Rambo" series of books. Not that I've read any of them (or seen the movies for that matter), but I thought that was an interesting tidbit. Apparently he's quite the action novel writer.

My rating: 4/5

In other Christmas news, we went out to dinner last night (with my Mom's side of the family) at the Homestead Inn in Elton. It was nice to see everyone again, but the menu, food and service at the restaurant were less than impressive. They'd be a good candidate for Restaurant Impossible. But, I digress.

Saturday, December 19

vacation

Brian and I watched the 2015 version of this movie last night. We both thought it was hilarious, which might tell you more about us than you need to know. I wouldn't say it holds a candle to the original movies (at least the first few of them), though--the humor was definitely not of the same style. But, it was way funnier than most comedies out there today. It was pretty much rapid-fire jokes throughout.

My rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, December 15

the bazaar of bad dreams

Stephen King rarely disappoints and this was not one of those times that he did. This was a collection of his short stories. The only negative here was that there were a few previously published stories in the book. But, there were also quite a few goodies in there. Reading his stuff is like sitting down with an old friend.

My rating; 3.5/5

Sunday, December 13

goodnight mommy

This was an Austrian horror film. Europeans do horror very differently than Americans (see Martyrs). While this film wasn't a 90 minute torture fest (it was only a 30 minute one), it definitely wasn't like any American horror film that you might see. I thought the premise was pretty good--though I figured out the twist way, way early (I think I've watched too many movies/too much television at this point to be surprised by anything).

My rating; 3.5/5

Thursday, December 10

crap

Early last week, we discovered that the toilet in our basement was clogged in a major way (using a plunger on it caused water to shoot out the base). We weren't too concerned because we have other toilets and our main sewer line was still working, so it appeared that the problem was contained. A few days later, Brian removed the toilet so he could check out the sewer pipe and found that it was clogged beyond his plumbing abilities.

This week, he called one of the plumbers we deal with and he recommended calling Roto-Rooter. Evidently they are best equipped to deal with situations such as this. They came today and 2 hours (and $200) later everything is working again. Apparently the pipes had a bunch of roots in them. Why the rest of our plumbing still worked is somewhat of a mystery (there must be two separate lines that connect to the main line), but I'll take it. Luckily for us, they are testing the sewer lines in the township and we will almost certainly be required to replace ours, so this problem will not be a recurring one once that happens.

Sunday, December 6

preparations

I'm a little behind on Christmas this year, but I'm glad to say that I'm done with shopping. I did 90% of it on Black Friday (from the comfort of my living room, thanks to Amazon). But, in an uncharacteristic move, my Christmas cards aren't done yet. I briefly considered not making cards this year, but then someone told me how much they like my cards so I was kind of guilted into it. They are in progress.

I'm not making cookies again this year, but Jake and I are going to make some Christmas-y treats next weekend. I'm not sure at this point if I'm going to be making dog treats. I didn't last year and that was kind of nice, but I haven't made treats in a while, so it might be fun to do. We'll see how I'm doing for time.

We never decorate the house until mid-December, so I'm not behind on that yet. I think we're going to get a real tree this year. We've been putting up an artificial one for quite a few years and I miss having a real one (or do I? I guess we'll find out). The fact that real trees drop needles is kind of annoying, but our artificial one does that, too, so we'll see which one I like better.

I'm taking a half day later this month to wrap presents--that's probably my favorite Christmas preparation of all.

Tuesday, December 1

pulp fiction

We're making Jake watch our top 13 films with us. We started with Pulp Fiction. It was as good as I remembered it. Jake saw parts of the movie in the past, but never in its entirety. Needless to say, he liked it.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, November 26

thanksgiving 2015

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. We hosted dinner this year, so I had a busy day and a half preparing. I took off work yesterday and did most of the prep work then so today was a breeze.

My family (parents, grandmother and brother and his family) were in attendance. Despite the relatively small numbers, it was requested that I make a double batch of mashed potatoes (evidently we didn't have enough left over the last time we had Thanksgiving here). I also took it upon myself to make a double batch of stuffing as we had none left last time and stuffing is my very favorite Thanksgiving food.

Anyway, it was a nice afternoon and the three of us have already done a round of leftovers. I'm already looking forward to lunch.

Wednesday, November 25

there was a little girl

This book was written by Ed McBain. The main characters in it were part of a circus. Coincidentally, Jake and I are currently watching season 4 of American Horror Story, the theme of which is a carnival/freak show. It was a little confusing to be concentrating on two similar stories at once.

At any rate, all Ed McBain books are good and this one was no different. It ended with a cliffhanger, which is unfortunate, because I don't read the books in order (the book was part of the Matthew Hope series). Who knows? Maybe I already read the next one in the series.

This always seems to happen, but I received the newest Stephen King book right after I started reading this one, so I'm looking forward to starting that one tonight.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, November 16

one less tooth

Buster had his abscessed tooth removed today. While they were in there, they also cleaned his teeth. I picked him up from the vet's office at 6 and he's still pretty out of it. But, at least the problem has been taken care of. Hopefully this will be the end of the vet bills for a little while.

Sunday, November 15

top 13

Brian and I were talking about movies lately and what we thought were the top 10 best--not necessarily our top 10 favorites, but movies we really liked that we thought others should see. For example, Mulholland Drive is one of our favorites, but it didn't make the cut because it doesn't appeal to a large enough audience. We also tried to keep it to one film per genre (so that's why Goodfellas is on there and The Godfather is not).

We couldn't get the list down to 10, so here's our top 13 (in no particular order):

  1. The Shawshank Redemption
  2. Pulp Fiction
  3. Fight Club
  4. Goodfellas
  5. Se7en
  6. The Silence of the Lambs
  7. The Usual Suspects
  8. Saving Private Ryan
  9. American History X
  10. The Departed
  11. The Shining
  12. No Country for Old Men
  13. Groundhog Day

Saturday, November 14

the gift

This was an interesting psychological thriller, starring one of my favorites, Jason Bateman. It definitely had a unique premise, but I wish it would have had a firmer conclusion. Still, not a bad way to spend 2 hours.

My rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, November 10

r.i.p. alice

Our sweet dog Alice was put to sleep today. Among other health issues, she had been really struggling to get around in recent weeks. And, while it has been a slow progression overall, she got the point where we had to make a decision.

We were lucky to have had her in our lives for as long as we did. When we adopted her over 9 years ago, we figured she'd only be around for a few years, given her age (approximately 5-6), but boy were we wrong about that.

She was a constant companion (literally, since she followed me around wherever I went). She was our official "office dog" and was part of the company since we opened in 2008. We've taken her on a number of vacations. I like to think that she had a good life.

Alice was the best dog. She will be missed.

Sunday, November 8

fury

This was a pretty good war movie. I don't think it's going to stick with me like "Saving Private Ryan" did, but it was definitely engaging. The guys liked it, too.

My rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, November 4

buster update

Buster finished his course of antibiotics on Friday, but the swelling in his face did not completely go away. So, I called the vet yesterday and scheduled him for an extraction on the 16th of this month. I was kind of hoping to catch a break with the vet bills after the whole cat thing, but I guess that is not in the cards.

Sunday, November 1

end of an era

Jacob went trick or treating for what I hope was the last time last night (at 15, he's getting kind of old for this).

Since he didn't push it and since I don't like clutter, we didn't even decorate this year. No pumpkin, either (but, we really need to remedy the pumpkin thing next year).

We had about 60 trick or treaters at our house, which was the expected amount.

And, now the countdown is on for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Saturday, October 31

mad max: fury road

Brian's at hunting camp this weekend, so the boy and I watched a movie last night. If you like action, this one is definitely for you--I think the first hour of the film was a chase scene. It's definitely a movie you have to pay attention to (there's not a lot of dialog), and I had some trouble with that as I was frustratingly untangling a skein of yarn the entire movie.

This movie was rated amazingly high by the critics, but slightly lower by me (perhaps due to my yarn distraction).

My rating: 3/5

Monday, October 26

the beach house

Every once in a while, I've got to read some James Patterson. This particular book was co-written by Peter De Jonge. While I don't usually enjoy the co-written books as much as his solo stuff, this was a pretty good read. Nothing earth shattering, but compelling enough to finish it in short order.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, October 25

10 years

I just realized that I forgot to post about this momentous event...2015 marked Prime Design Solutions' 10th year in business and we had a party at the Art Works last Thursday to celebrate the occasion. We invited staff family members, past and present clients, vendors and close friends that have given us support over the years and/or had a hand in our company's success.

I don't normally go for stuff like this, but it was a good time. Since all of our staff members are crafty, we also had a small gallery set up which showed everyone's personal work. The event was catered by Flair of Country, who did an amazing job with the food.

Here's to another 10 years!

ticks

Remember back when we only had fleas to worry about? Those were the days.

Brian and Buster went on a hike this morning. When they returned, I noticed a tick on Buster's head. I picked it off and started looking for more and found a total of eight on him. Ack. Brian only had one. Still, that is the most ticks I've ever seen at once. And I feel like they're crawling all over me at the moment and I wasn't even outside! They went on a couple of other hikes this year, but this is the first time we've seen ticks on either of them.

As a matter of course, I do not use flea and tick control on the dogs, but rest assured, a trip to Petco was made and flea and tick control has been applied to all pets (in addition to Buster getting a bath). Too little, too late, probably, but it makes me feel better. I might have to reconsider my stance on these products. The reason I don't like them is because it's basically like putting poison on your dog every month and I really don't like the thought of that. But, I guess it's better than contracting Lyme Disease. I'll have to do some more research on this over the winter.

Monday, October 19

the equalizer

This was an entertaining film starring Denzel Washington as a retired CIA operative who comes out of retirement to take down the Russian mob in Boston. That's really all you need to know--I'm sure you can picture the rest.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, October 18

do nothing

Talk about a do nothing kind of day. Jake and Brian went to the Steelers game, so I was left to my own devices. Among my accomplishments, I finished a crochet washrag project and did some reading. I also took a nap and went to a tea with my mom in the afternoon. That was about it, though. I'm sure I could have found something that needed to be done, but I need a day like this every once in a while.

end of season

I took Friday off work mainly to plant garlic. Of course, I've been ignoring my garden for a good 6 weeks now, so that had to be attended to first. I harvested the last of the vegetables (with the exception of the celery--hopefully the snow we received this morning didn't kill it off), got the main garden cleaned out and the garlic planted, thanks to Brian's help. It was hard finding motivation to do these tasks as it was rather chilly out that day.

And, really, the rest of the landscaping could use some love. Hopefully I will be able to do some more work out there before it gets really cold. Though it is difficult finding the time since it gets dark so early these days.

There are also the fish to contend with. While the pond has been covered (to keep the leaves out) for a few weeks, I need to remove the pump and clean the filter. This shouldn't be a big deal, but it's a new filter, so I need to look up the instructions for it.

But, none of this work is getting done today as there is snow on the ground. Grr.


Saturday, October 17

the abscess

Buster developed a bump on his face a few days ago. It's on his cheekbone. I assumed that he bumped his face on something, but it persisted for a few days, so off to the vet he went.

The vet thinks he has an abscessed tooth, so he was put on a course of antibiotics. While that will probably take care of the current problem, the abscess is likely to recur, in which case he'd need to have the tooth extracted. It never ends.

Saturday, October 10

jupiter's bones

This book was ok, but it did take me a while to get through it. It was written by Faye Kellerman and is from a popular series of hers (of which, I think I've read at least one other book). The main character is a detective, so it was that kind of story, and it centered around a cult (which should have made it more interesting, but did not).

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, October 8

r.i.p. marley

As I noted previously, our cat, Marley, has been sick for a number of weeks now. He had been taking thyroid medication, but it didn't help the situation (weight loss), so the vet put him on a dewormer and steroids at our last visit. However, the weight loss continued (the poor cat looked emaciated), so we made the decision to have him put to sleep. Brian took him there this afternoon. He will forever be known as the last Law cat.

Wednesday, October 7

guns

On Sunday, we went to the Shriners' gun raffle in Altoona with my parents. It was a fun afternoon even though we didn't win any guns (my dad won a door prize of a trail camera, though).

For obvious reasons, guns have been in the news a lot lately. I think the politicians need to take a closer look at things before doing something just for the sake of doing something (I know, like that's going to happen). Here's a good litmus test--if your proposed law wouldn't have prevented any of the recent tragedies, maybe you should go back to the drawing board.

Thursday, October 1

for rent

For the past six months, we tried to sell our rental house, but it just did not go. In fact, hardly anyone even looked at it (maybe one a month, if that). I guess it was just not the right time to sell for the current housing market. 

Last night, I listed it on craigslist.org and we've already had four inquiries and have two showings set up for Saturday. With any luck, we'll have it rented by the middle of the month. One thing is for sure, it will be nice to have that stream of income again.

Tuesday, September 29

improving

Since I don't have to clean anymore, I've been spending my time straightening things up and getting rid of things we no longer need and also doing some small home-improvement type tasks. Things are definitely looking good around here! If only we could tackle some of the larger home-improvement tasks on our list, we'd be set. We'll see what gets done this winter.

Wednesday, September 23

cleaner

After years of waiting, I finally got the go-ahead to hire a cleaner for the house. Yesterday was her first day. The impact of this action hasn't fully sunk in yet, but I'm sure it will become apparent in the coming weeks when I don't have to clean anything.

You know how they say you have to clean before the cleaner comes? Boy, is that true! Well, not really clean, but straighten up. The house looks great. And, since she will be coming every two weeks, the house won't have time to fall back into cluttered mode, so it should always look pretty good around here from now on.

Saturday, September 19

running out of summer

This afternoon, Brian and I took what might be our last motorcycle ride of the year. It appears that the warm weather is on its way out. Not that 60s are exactly cold, but it's a bit chilly for riding. Plus, I have a line on someone who might be able to paint my sidecar and I want to get that done before the snow falls, so I'm going to need to get on that.

The yard could use some attention. I feel like I've been ignoring it for weeks. Which reminds me--I better get outside and do some work before it gets dark.

Sunday, September 13

farewell, costco

We have been members of Costco for more than a few years, but I am afraid we must part for now, if only temporarily. We made our last trip there yesterday. I still love the store, but since it's in the Pittsburgh area, a trip there takes up a good part of a day and I just don't have time for that right now. Not that we go that often, but it seems like there's always something going on.

I've been hoping that they would open a store a little closer (even an hour away wouldn't be bad), but that hasn't happened, nor is it on the schedule. So, I'm going to cancel our membership this month. For now, anyway. I just need a little break, I think. I'll probably rejoin down the road. It's not you, Costco, it's me. I hope we can still be friends.

Wednesday, September 9

timing is everything

I've been running the house a/c recently due to the excessively hot weather. While I was grilling supper today, I noticed that the fan on the air conditioner was not running. Instead, the unit was making a humming noise. I guess we'll be calling our heating & cooling guy to take a look at it. Hopefully it can be fixed as I don't really want to absorb the cost of having a new a/c unit installed (and I'm certainly not going to live without air conditioning at this point). Anyway, at least this is the last hot day on the forecast, so we won't have to suffer for long.

I do want to get this fixed now, though. At least twice now, I've tried to turn the a/c on during the first heat wave of the year and it didn't work. If today would have been cooler, we would have been experiencing that scenario again next spring.

Tuesday, September 8

pillar project

Prime Design Solutions took part in the Bottle Works Pillar Project, which is located under the Kernville viaduct. The painting portion of the project took place over the course of a week.

The previous Saturday, Brian, Jake and I painted the light blue base coat. And, last Thursday, the office closed for the day and we did the detail work.

The whole process is documented here.

labor day

It was a quiet weekend with nothing on the schedule. Friday night, we made our yearly trek to the Ethnic Festival for some delicious pierogies at St. Mary's Church. We ran into a couple people we knew down there, and talked to them, but we weren't there very long beyond dinner.

We fit in two motorcycle rides over the long weekend. Time for that is running short. Various hobbies and house/yard work were also accomplished. It was pretty relaxing and now I'm ready to attack the short work week that is ahead.

Sunday, September 6

the hammer

Brian, being a big fan of Adam Carolla, wanted to see this movie, so we watched it last night. He thought it was hilarious. I, on the other hand, am not what you would call a fan and found the movie to be so-so. There wasn't anything intrinsically wrong with it (the acting and plot were fine)--I just didn't find it particularly funny.

My rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, August 30

garden fatigue

It's the end of another gardening season and the garden is a mess of weeds once again. Every year, I plan on keeping up with things and every year my motivation peters out by the end of the season.

While this was not the best year for a garden, I did get a lot of tomatoes, so that made me happy (that was the first year in a while for that). I've canned a couple of tomato-related products already and have a few more on the horizon. The year's biggest disappointment was the lack of peppers. I normally get a ton, but haven't harvested any yet. The plants are still growing, so we'll see if they produce anything before the frost.

Other hits and misses...

Hits: cucumbers, garlic, zucchini, basil, onions 
Misses: potatoes, fennel, cabbage

I've been trying to do the winter harvest thing the past few years but haven't formally planned anything out. Not coincidentally, I haven't done all that well with it. So, this year, I'm going to skip planting anything and actually come up with a planting schedule for next year.

Saturday, August 29

american sniper

This told the biographical story of Navy SEAL (and sniper) Chris Kyle. I'm a sucker for a good war movie and this was definitely one of those. I guess there was some controversy over the movie due to the subject matter, but the guy was just doing his job. Conversely, watching this movie made me want to go out and buy a flag. 'Murica!

My rating: 4/5

Wednesday, August 26

foo fighters

Today is the first day of Jake's sophomore year. So, like any pair of responsible parents, we took him to see the Foo Fighters last night. What an amazing show! I opted out of their last tour due to the ticket prices and have been kicking myself ever since. So, there was no way I was going to miss them on this tour--I've had the tickets since December.

Due to all of the construction on the parkway, we went to/from the show via Washington. That's the way to do it. I know it adds a little time to the trip, but there's virtually no chance of getting stuck in traffic. We arrived home around 1am and I am freaking tired today (the dogs got me up at 6:30). I took the day off, though, so a nap is planned for later. 

Tuesday, August 25

mucho dinero

We had new sewer lines put in our investment property yesterday. It's a relief that project's finally done. If the place should sell, it was going to need to be done before the sale went through. In the more likely event that we end up renting it out again, it's good to know that it is already done (so that we won't have to inconvenience the renter(s).

We are getting an estimate for the office today. I can't wait to find out what that's going to cost. And we might have to replace the lines at our house, too, though that won't be this year (thankfully).

One down, two to go.

Monday, August 24

ftwd

Yesterday was busy in a social kind of way. We went out for lunch at Asiago's to celebrate the birthdays of my mom, dad and grandmother (who all had birthdays in the past week).

And, Sunday night, Judy came over to catch the first episode of Fear the Walking Dead. Despite some technical difficulties (Sling TV--get with it!), it was a fun evening. I guess the positive thing about the Sling TV outages was that it gave us extra time to talk. As for the show, I thought the first episode was a little slow, but it looks like the SHTF in the next episode, so I am hopeful that this is going to be a good series. It's definitely an interesting take on the existing story.

Sunday, August 23

spectacle

For someone who doesn't like to be the center of attention, sometimes I have to question myself. Brian, Lizzy and I took a motorcycle ride to Ligonier yesterday afternoon. This was Lizzy's 2nd major ride and she was the perfect passenger. Since it was an absolutely beautiful day, people were out in full force and we did not go unnoticed--there was a lot of pointing and smiling. While traveling through Ligonier, we passed another motorcyle/sidecar combination--those people seemed particularly happy to see us (though I don't know why you'd have a person in your sidecar and not a dog--to each his own).

Monday, August 17

machete kills

We watched this movie Saturday night. Well, some of us managed to stay awake through the whole thing and some of us were too tired from spending the day in the sun (riding motorcycles and shooting guns with my family).

These Machete movies are kind of ridiculous, but I find them very entertaining. I'm not so sure about the next one, Machete Kills in Space, but we'll see.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, August 16

playing for pizza

I've been slacking on reading lately (partly because we've been watching a lot of tv in the evenings and partly because of my knitting addiction), so I resolved to read a book a month this year. I believe I'm on track with this goal, but decided to read the shortest book from my stack of dozens this month just to give myself some wiggle room.

The book sounded pretty corny, but it was written by John Grisham, so I figured it couldn't be all that bad. The story was about a failed NFL quarterback who went to Italy to play for an American-style football league and was surprisingly enjoyable. 

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, August 15

braces off!

Jake finally got his braces off (on Friday). His appointment was first thing in the morning and I scheduled a dental appointment for the two of us for late morning. He had the braces on for almost 2.5 years. That is a long time. He has to wear a retainer constantly for the next 6 months, then at night for the rest of his life (or, as they like to say at the orthodontist's office, wear it as long as you'd like to have straight teeth).

I took the day off work, but don't really have anything else to report about the day. I did nothing when I got home--knitted for a bit and then took a nap. Kind of a wasted day, really.

Friday, August 14

skinny cat

The mystery might be solved. The other morning, I was getting ready for work and Brian walked out of the bedroom with the cat, who had just jumped into the bed. I went to the kitchen and the gate was still locked. Brian put the cat on the other side of it and then the cat walked through the slats and back into the kitchen (he was too fat to do this before). So, that explains one thing. But, why the gate would have been open two days this week remains a mystery--unless Buster was trying to get away from the cat and went downstairs. That is the only reason I can come up with so far. But, we won't be pondering this for long because I'm going to order a new gate this weekend. It will be both cat and dog proof.

Wednesday, August 12

the curious case of buster and marley

When I got home from work yesterday, the dog gate leading to our family room was open. I assumed someone forgot to latch it, though I would like to note that Buster does know how to open it. But, he doesn't ever do that unless one of us is downstairs. As I was feeding the dogs their supper, the cat came strolling out of the hallway. I put him back downstairs (he lives in our family room) and didn't ponder it too much longer, but I thought it was odd that he spent some time upstairs (particularly since all of the dogs are afraid of him).

Today, Brian arrived home from work earlier than I did and he encountered the same scenario--the dog gate was open and the cat was upstairs. So, now we're thinking that Buster is opening the gate (probably in order to go downstairs for some cat "treats") and the cat is taking advantage of the situation. I like to think that they both spend the day sleeping in our bed. That would be funny! I do wonder what goes on--if only I had a webcam.

Speaking of the cat, I noticed that he lost some weight, so I took him to the vet to be checked out. It turns out he has hyperthyroidism, so now he's on pills, too. This geriatric pet thing we have going on is getting more expensive by the week.

Monday, August 10

flood city music festival

We went to the Flood City Music Festival over the weekend. We caught sets from the Eric Tessmer Band, Nikki Hill and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. All were great. I did it right this year and researched the bands, so we got to watch stuff we liked instead of some random band.

We probably could have watched another set or two, but Brian and Jake had a scouting event all weekend, so time was short on our end. Maybe next year.

Sunday, August 2

godzilla

Jake and I watched this last night. I wasn't sure about it (and Netflix was telling me I wasn't going to like it), but I watched it anyway. The movie had a looonnnng setup and was short on plot. The special effects were pretty spectacular, though. But, that was not enough to save it. And now I have that stupid Godzilla song stuck in my head.

My rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, July 26

red river

This was a John Wayne movie--one of Brian's favorites, so we watched it last night. I'm not typically a fan of old movies (I can barely rewatch stuff from the 80s let alone something from 1948), but I guess it was ok for what it was. Some of the dialog was pretty corny, though.

Saturday, July 25

frankenstein: dead and alive

This was the 3rd book in Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series. Like the previous two, this one ended on a cliff-hanger. It was fine, but I've come to the conclusion that Dean Koontz is a weirdo.

There was one character in the book, a troll-like creature named Jocko, who reminded me of Dobby the House Elf from the Harry Potter books. I kind of liked him.

I have the next book in the series in my possession, so I'll probably read it soon, but not until I get caught up on the stack of magazines waiting for me on the coffee table (and probably not until I read another book or two).

My rating: 3.5/5

Friday, July 24

surgery

Alice had her surgery today and did well with it. Brian's picking her up right now. The vet did say that she was not able to get all of it, so it will likely recur. Will this buy us enough time? I guess we'll find out.

Wednesday, July 22

iron man 3

Almost forgot about this one...

Much like the other Iron Man movies, this was worth the watch--it had some spectacular special effects. Strangely, this is the only movie series about superheroes that I enjoy--probably because of the witty dialog (the others tend to take themselves too seriously). At any rate, I'm about good on this series, though I'm sure if they release another sequel, I'll watch it.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, July 20

lip service

I took Alice to see the vet this morning for her lip problem and the vet says that the growth needs to be removed, so Alice is going to have surgery this Friday. Of course, since it came back, that's not a good sign and they are less likely to get a clear margin this time than the last, but it's too large to let go, so what can you do?

Saturday, July 18

the river of souls

How appropriate to read this book while vacationing on a river?!? This was the 5th book in Robert McCammon's Matthew Corbett series. While it was good, it didn't really compare to the previous offerings. The story was solid, but really short (around 250 pages). Previous stories clocked in at a minimum of 400 pages, so things felt a little rushed. But, I did enjoy it.

My rating: 3.5/5

Friday, July 17

the one with the lost glasses

Not unlike last year's vacation, this one started off on a bit of a sour note. After we got settled in to camp, Brian decided to take the canoe out and do some fishing. The river was particularly high and swift this year (due to a water release from the Kinzua Dam) and Brian ended up tipping the canoe when he tried to land it. Everything went into the river. He was able to recover all of his belongings, with the exception of his glasses. We considered coming home to get another pair, but he got used to things after a day or so. And, he called the eye doctor on Monday to order a new pair and they are in already.

The weather was surprisingly nice. We really only had rain the one day and it wasn't an all day rain, either, so I was able to get in some quality hammock time this year, unlike last year.

There was one weird thing. Isn't there always? At 6am our first morning there, I heard this knocking sound outside of the cabin. I figured it was the hot water heater or the well pump or something like that. We found out later that morning that it was a cardinal that kept flying into the windows. This phenomenon recurred until about dusk. And then it happened again the next day and the next (and you get the idea). At one point Brian was outside and saw him doing the same thing with our truck mirror. Apparently whenever the bird would see his reflection (in a mirror, glass or even in the metal chimney), he would attack the "other" bird. So, I was up at 6am every day. I think I need a nap...

Jake took a friend again this year. The two of them seemed to have a good time. One thing is for sure--they got enough to eat!

We only took one dog this year and that dog was Alice. I keep saying it's going to be her last trip to Forest County and she keeps on living, so good for her. She mostly slept but was more active than she usually is.

Beyond that, it was the same old stuff--fishing, hiking, knitting, reading and, most importantly, relaxing.

Monday, July 13

finders keepers

I was very excited to get this new Stephen King book. It is the second of three in the Mr. Mercedes series. I thought it was going to be a continuation of the first book, but it was a new story (not entirely, though--there were ties to the plot of the first book and some of the same characters were in this one, but they were not the primary focus).

I had trouble getting into it, but things picked up at the end. It did take me about a month to read, which probably tells you all you need to know (I normally tear through Stephen King books in a week).

My rating: 3.5/5

Friday, July 10

lumpy

Alice had a large growth removed from her lip a little over a year ago...and now it's back. It's like it came out of nowhere. I don't know how that happens.

She has not seen the vet about this yet as we're not sure what we're going to do about it. Given her general health and age, I'm not sure that another surgery is appropriate. We're just going to wait and see for a bit before we make any decisions.

Sunday, July 5

fungus among us

My tomatoes were looking good...until yesterday. The fungal problem I've seen (for a number of years running) has returned. It's no wonder with all of the rain we've been getting. So, once again, I won't be getting many tomatoes from the garden. The good news is that we planted some tomatoes in pots and, so far, they are disease-free.

My pepper plants are looking pretty sad, too. I'm blaming the rain for this, as well.

On the positive side of things (besides the fact it hasn't been super hot), I planted onions from plants (rather than sets) and harvested my first batch this week. They were a respectable size, which is what I was hoping for. I'd like to have a bunch to store over the winter, so I'm off to a good start. Everything else seems to be performing as expected.

Friday, July 3

the weeds

I haven't been able to spend much time in the yard/garden these past few weeks due to all of the rain we've been getting (nor did we get to do any additional Thunder activities last weekend--Saturday was awful!) and now everything is overrun with weeds. I always say that the majority of my gardening time is spent weeding, but this is ridiculous.

But, if there's one good thing to be said about cooler, rainy weather, it's that the water hyacinths in my pond really seem to like it. The new fish we bought are thriving as well. And, I love the new pond filter--the self-cleaning feature is really nice. I should have purchased it years ago.

Sunday, June 28

still alice

This was a really great movie. In it Julianne Moore played a linguistics professor who develops early onset Alzheimer's. Not surprisingly, she won an Academy Award for her portrayal--it was that good. It'll have you Googling the symptoms of early onset Alzheimer's for sure (if not, you're a better hypochondriac than I). It had some other hefty cast members as well--Alec Baldwin played her husband and Kristen Stewart (who was surprisingly not annoying) played one of her daughters.

Brian doesn't normally go for depressing movies, but even he liked this one. The only complaint from both of us is that the ending was open-ended. I see this more and more in books and movies, but my preference is for some closure. I mean, you wrote the story, so finish it!

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, June 27

thunder in the valley?

More like rain in the valley. We did manage to squeeze in some activities between the raindrops, but it's not looking good for the rest of the weekend.

On Wednesday night, we went to Richland Bike Bash. This was our first time there. I thought it was surprisingly busy for a Wednesday night. We ran into some people we knew there and talked to them for a bit.

Thursday, we were supposed to take the afternoon off and go for a ride, but the forecast was calling for rain, so that got nixed. And, rain, it did, so we didn't get to do anything Thunder-related on Thursday evening, either.

Friday was a different story. The weather was good, so we took the afternoon off and went for a nice, long ride (2.5 hours). Our destination was Gravity Hill. It was not as exciting as I expected. We intended to make a big loop (56 to 30 to 711) but got caught in a rainstorm on the way home, so we ended up coming home via route 219 (where the skies were clear). That night, we met up with Judy and her niece (albeit 30 minutes late) at the Alex Meixner show at PNG Park. We caught a couple of minutes of Donnie Iris (said with a Pittsburgh accent) on the way out. Both he and his band sounded great!

Today, we planned on going to Nanty Glo's Pool 'n Pork for supper, but the forecast does not look good for that. If it does happen to stop raining at some point, we're going to run downtown for a bit.

Sunday, we don't typically do any Thunder stuff, and since it's calling for more rain tomorrow, that will likely be the case again this year.

Sunday, June 21

in absentia

I'm going to make up for my lack of posts in the past week by doing two in a row. It was a crazy kind of week at work and the house.

Jake was supposed to leave for Disney with my family on Tuesday, but his flight got canceled (after spending hours at the airport in Latrobe). It was rescheduled for the next evening. And then it got canceled again, but this time it was well in advance. Though they don't tell you, both cancellations were likely due to bad weather (not around here, but from the airplane's origin). This time, my brother rescheduled the flight out of Pittsburgh and they were able to leave Wednesday afternoon with no problems. They are coming home today and their flight is currently scheduled to leave on time. Let's hope it stays that way.

At work, everyone is diligently working to wrap up a big project that we landed last summer. It has a hard deadline of June 30, but we're hoping to finish everything this week. Not to mention, there are about another two dozen projects in the works, so things have been hectic for sure. I'm just trying to get caught up on my own stuff before we go on vacation. I don't like having a bunch of work hanging over my head while we're away. But, there's still some time before that happens.

We've gotten a lot of rain (to say the least) so I haven't had to spend a bunch of time watering the garden. Nor have I gotten to work out there much due to the weather. But, my garden is doing great so far. I got everything planted early, so it's further along than it normally would be.

the skeleton twins

This was a decent movie starring Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader. Who knew they could act?!? It was billed as a dramedy, so there were some comedic elements, but it was really more of a drama. The two played estranged (and depressed) twins trying to get their lives back on track. I could have done with a little more closure at the end, but otherwise thought it was ok.

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, June 13

low key

It's been a low key weekend. The guys went camping with Jake's scout troop so I have the place to myself. But that doesn't mean I'm slacking. While I'm taking some time to relax, there are still things that need to be done and I accomplished a decent amount of things so far this weekend (six loads of laundry; washed the car; did some Everyone Drinks stuff; general housecleaning).

But, so far, I've also watched a couple episodes of OITNB, knitted, read, and napped. Not sure if this qualifies as work or fun, but I canned strawberry preserves and made a dessert. I haven't really gotten to garden yet this weekend (and by garden, I mean weed), but the garden's looking pretty good for this early in the season. Interestingly, my tomatoes look better that past years' plants, but the tomatoes Brian planted in pots look phenomenal. Hopefully this means we'll have a bunch of tomatoes for canning later in the summer.

Monday, June 8

more activities

It was a fun but busy three day weekend. Saturday afternoon, Brian and I took a nice motorcycle ride. We're trying to get out every weekend, when our schedule and the weather permits. So far, we're doing pretty good. For supper, we grilled up some Whiskey Barrel Burgers on the charcoal grill. They were quite delicious. Brian spent most of the day in the shop. He's working on a picture frame for a monstrous (in both size and subject matter) print that he purchased recently. I did some gardening in the evening, as I am wont to do.

On Sunday afternoon, we had a graduation party to attend for a neighbor kid (what are these kids doing growing up?) at The Boulevard Grill. In the evening, I cleaned the insides of both vehicles (I would have rather been gardening) and Brian spent some more quality time in the shop.

Sunday, June 7

everywhere that mary went

This was another book from Lisa Scottoline--I have a pile of 'em. It was a pretty quick read and I was due for one of those. I specifically chose it because I knew I'd be getting the new Stephen King book soon, so I wanted to ensure I wasn't caught up in some book that was going to take a long time to read.

All of Lisa Scottoline's books (at least the ones I've read) feature lawyers as the main characters and this one was no different (they are marketed as "legal thrillers"). Her books are pretty engaging (unless you read a bunch of them in a row) and I typically enjoy them as I did this one. Evidently, this was her first book of fiction, which goes to show that I'm totally reading these books out of order.

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, June 6

day off

It was my birthday yesterday so I had the day off (sometimes it's good to be the policy-maker, but mostly it's not). I had the house to myself as Brian was at work and while it was Jake's last day of school, he spent his off time at his friend's house.

I feel like I got a lot out of the day. I had some fun (reading, knitting, napping) but also did some work around the house (not too much, though). As if the universe knew it was my birthday, I received the newest Stephen King book, Finders Keepers (courtesy of the Stephen King Library) in the mail. I'm looking forward to starting that one this weekend.

After everyone returned home, we went out for supper at Asiago's, which was great as always, opened presents, and then watched a movie later in the evening. All in all, a good day.

taken 3

Like the previous movie in the series, this one had a crappy editing, but it was surprisingly not bad for being the 3rd installment. It's definitely worth a watch if you're into this genre. The critics had nothing good to say about this movie, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

My rating: 3/5

Tuesday, June 2

cutting the cord

So, I cancelled our cable last week. It's supposed to be disconnected today. I've been wanting to do this for years, but wasn't willing to give up The Walking Dead (not to mention HGTV and Food Network), but then I read about an amazing thing called Sling TV and once they added AMC to their channel lineup, I figured it was worth a shot. With the exception of the aforementioned channels, we really don't watch much television (most of our viewing is through Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video). I'm down to two network shows (The Middle and Modern Family) and don't plan on expanding my repertoire. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about those next season (Hulu Plus, maybe), but I'm sure we'll figure it out.

I received one of those over the air antennas for my birthday, so we get a couple of channels through it, most notably, WJAC. I was hoping to get Fox and ABC since they are out of Richland, but no luck with that. I guess the major disappointment is that we won't be able to watch any football games unless they are on ESPN, but we hardly watch football anymore, anyway. Plus, we can always listen to the Steeler games on the radio, which is what we typically do, anyway.

We'll see how this goes, but I think it will be a success. Our cable bill is going to drop about $75/month and Sling TV only costs $20/month, so that's quite a net savings for something we were barely using.

Monday, June 1

polkafest 2015

We went to the Polkafest both Saturday and Sunday to catch Alex Meixner (and some food). We were having such a good time on Saturday night that we didn't want to leave. Apparently Polkafest was the place to be on Saturday because we ran into a bunch of people we knew. Jake had other plans that evening, so it was just me and Brian, though we did drag him down there against his will on Sunday. I think next year, we'll just go the one time and stay longer. Bonus: Alex Meixner is playing at Thunder in the Valley later this month.

Thursday, May 28

the agony and the ecstasy

Jake had an ortho appointment yesterday. We've been expecting his braces to come off since January, so we were really hoping that this would be it (not that they would be taking them off yesterday, but that he'd be fitted for a retainer and the removal appointment would be scheduled). Typically, his check-up appointments are pretty quick, so I got hopeful because the appointment lasted longer than normal. Jake and the tech eventually emerged and the tech informed me that Jake was fitted for a retainer and would be getting his braces off at the next appointment. Woo!

So, we went to the counter to schedule his next appointment and was told that they could remove the braces in August. August! I blurted out something to the effect that we were expecting the appointment to be sooner (Jake's cousin recently went through the same thing, at the same place, but it was a two week wait for her), but I was met with a blank look. So, he's getting them off in August.

I guess the good news is that the date is set and they are coming off for sure (no more "maybes").

Monday, May 25

long weekend

I was ready for a long weekend. So far, it's been good (with one exception). Due to the late frost, we had a lot of planting to do this weekend. Most of it has been completed, and the rest will be wrapped up today. Friday was nothing special--just like any other Friday. Saturday, we went to a cookout at my brother's. Sunday, we purchased a bunch of plants and some fish for the pond, and also did some planting. Brian also got the bikes ready and we went for our first ride of the year. Today promises to be pretty relaxing--there's no real agenda beyond gardening and another bike ride.

The only negative is that Lizzy is having some minor back problems. Of course, this would start up on a holiday weekend when the vet's office is closed. I received previous instructions to put her on steroids in that type of scenario, so I started those yesterday. She actually seems better today but I'm going to keep her confined to her crate until I can get in touch with the vet tomorrow and find out the best course of action.

Thanks to my birthday, I get another long weekend next week. Yay!

Friday, May 22

making an impact

Brian was a finalist in the PA Governor's ImPAct Awards in the entrepreneur category. The ceremony was held yesterday in Hershey, so the two of us got to skip a day of work (it was kind of nice--I think I'm sick of work). Unfortunately, he did not win. Not surprisingly, the award went to a much larger company (New Pig out of Tipton). Still we got a lot of good press out of the nomination and, more importantly, made some new business contacts.

Tuesday, May 19

the adventures of tom sawyer

Obviously, this book is a classic and I don't need to go into the details of the plot. I added it (and a bunch of others) to my Kindle from one of those free book websites, just for the heck of it--I don't normally go for the classics. I liked it well enough, but it did take me a while to finish. I just didn't find it compelling enough to read on a regular basis (not with all of the other distractions I'm surrounded by).

My rating: 3.5/5


Monday, May 18

redemption

As previously documented I ordered a new filter for my garden pond. I got everything installed only to realize that I was missing a part. The part wasn't necessary for the general operation of the filter, but was needed for the cleaning cycle. I contacted the manufacturer of the filter via their website, but did not hear a response. So, I started thinking about ways to rig something for the missing part. One day last week, I received a package with the missing part in it. For the win!

In other winning news, my parents hosted the annual birthday party for my brother and me yesterday. Gift highlights included a digital antenna for our television (one step closer to cancelling cable) and a Kindle gift card (I can always use some new books).

Friday, May 15

three more years

Jake turned 15 on Wednesday and we went out to eat at a restaurant of his choice (Rey Azteca--for a number of years running) to celebrate. He is definitely growing up. He is doing excellent in high school--straight As so far this year without any prompting or help from us; he's doing great with his music--he played guitar in a "coffeehouse" event last month and played drums at a chorus concert last night (both at the high school) and he has a wide variety of friends that all seem to be level-headed. So far, so good. Three more years until adulthood!

Sunday, May 10

cookout

I need to delay Jake's birthday by about two weeks. Unfortunately, his family party is today. While, I worked my butt off the past few weeks, the yard is still not in order. Plus there's a pile of garbage in our front yard--spring cleanup always seems to fall during his party. On the plus side, since the weather has been so warm, I have most of my garden planted. And, today's weather is supposed to be nice.

Saturday, May 9

whiplash

This movie was about a kid going to a music conservatory and his ambitions to be one of the best drummers ever. Brian and Jake really liked it. I thought it was fine. I mean the acting was great and all, but the story was a little weak, if you ask me. Also, I don't like jazz and that's the genre that was being represented.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, May 4

in a nutshell

I feel like I got my money's worth out of this weekend. One project was completed, another one is well underway and we even fit in a family event (my step-niece's first communion party).

Last fall, we redid the decking and railing on the back porch at the office. Due to the way the previous railing was designed, this involved some patching of the brick and also resulted in some unpainted areas (all of the building's brick is painted). Additionally, some new wooden trim pieces were installed and they also needed to be painted. When we did the project, it was too cold to paint, but not anymore. Jake and I primed everything on Saturday and Brian and I painted on Sunday. Cross that one off the list.

We're also in the midst of reworking the pond and that is progressing nicely. Thus far, we've removed the stream, installed all of the hardware, and have the base rocks down. I also sealed the waterfall with landscape foam last night, so I'll be able to turn the pump on again today. I'll let that run for a day or so to make sure there are no leaks and then we'll cap off the rocks and call it done.

Monday, April 27

californication

Despite the fact that every season of the show had the same plot, the series had some hilarious dialog going on--witty stuff. It probably should have ended a season or two ago, though. The last season was a bit of a disappointment (not as funny as the previous ones) and I was ready for it to be over. But, overall, I rather did enjoy watching.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 26

tomato challenge

Have I ever mentioned how much Buster loves tomatoes? Let me count the ways...

Buster has always loved vegetables, but he has a special affinity for tomatoes. In fact, I taught him the "tomato" command wherein he will stop barking and sit for a tomato. Unfortunately, in seven years, this is the only thing I've taught him.

Recently Brian disputed how deep Buster's love for tomatoes is and challenged me to a treat-off of Bil-Jac vs. tomato. And, it was a loaded challenge at that. Buster happens to love Brian more than anything (except tomatoes) and represented the Bil-Jac end of the challenge. I represented the tomato end. Buster stood between us and we held both treats in front of his nose, then we walked away in different directions in order to find out which treat he would follow. The result? The tomato, of course.

Saturday, April 25

prisoners

This was a long one but it was worth it (at least after reading the Wikipedia entry to fill in the parts I missed). It was a story of the abduction of two girls and the search to find them. Hugh Jackman played one of the fathers and the main investigator was played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Both were great in their roles. It was a pretty complex story, though. You really need to pay attention to the details to understand what's going on (or read the Wikipedia article the next day).

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 19

the pond

I've finally had enough of the pond's leaking stream (every year on at least one occasion, it develops a leak that is sometimes difficult to track down and fix), so it was removed yesterday. In addition, we will be rebuilding the waterfall using a waterfall box (since the water has to come from somewhere). While we're at it, I got a new pressure filter that I'm looking forward to installing. My old filter had to be cleaned all of the time and it was a bit of a pain but the pressure filter works more like a pool filter in that you flip a switch and it cleans itself.

Once we get everything running, I'll be able to restock the pond. For some unknown reason, all of the fish but one died last fall. We're going to try the "feeder" fish route (from the pet store) first. If that works out, it will be quite a savings. If not, the one fish that's in there won't be hungry for a few days.

Once all of the above is done, I will need to address the plant situation--some plants are spreading all over the place, the stream area needs some vegetation, etc.

Sunday, April 12

gardentastic

The beautiful weekend was filled with garden activities. All of the plants (an oak tree, two blueberry bushes and a bundle of myrtle) I purchased at the county plant sale are now in the dirt. Additionally, I did some weeding in the garden and planted onions. I'm a little behind on my planting schedule due to the crappy weather, but I expect to get caught up this week, which is supposed to be pretty nice out. Not only that, but I went to a garden seminar on "extending the harvest" at the Sandyvale Greenhouse yesterday. At this point, there's not much you can tell me about gardening that I don't already know, but I did pick up a few tips and some other things to ponder, so it was well worth my time.

st. vincent

We queued this one up for Family Movie Night last night. It was a hit all around. It starred Bill Murray, who played an old crotchety guy who was befriended by his new neighbor, a 10 year old boy. It also had a good supporting cast, including Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy. The movie started off on a humorous note, but then switch over to an inevitable dramedy at the end. Still, it was quite an enjoyable watch.

My rating: 4/5

Friday, April 10

conclusions

Not that this is going to happen anytime soon, but I think I need to work four days a week. I took today off because I had to pick up some plants at the annual Cambria County Conservation District plant sale. While I was out, I also recycled a bunch of electronics at the Cambria County Solid Waste Authority, went to the bank, dropped off my Mom's Easter plant (since I did not see her on Easter) and picked up a couple of prescriptions at Richland Vet.

After lunch, I took an hour-long nap, which was welcome. I did some cleaning and knitting and have pizza dough rising in the kitchen for supper. I also potted a belated Christmas present that arrived today (a lime tree which couldn't be shipped until now because it's been too cold). I've also been doing laundry in between all of my other activities.

All this and it's not even 6pm yet! Who knows what the evening will bring?!?

Saturday, April 4

it's that time

The weather was finally decent enough to get outside for a couple of minutes the other evening. I removed the straw from the strawberry beds and the netting from the pond. I thought all of my fish died last fall, but there was one swimming around in there. I guess that is a good sign--I thought there was a problem with the pond water.

There is so much to do outside, but it looks like there are going to be some nice days this month, so I guess I'll get things done then.

Sunday, March 29

nightcrawler

This movie, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, was acted and shot well, but I just couldn't get past the lack of redemption, hence my rating. Brian, on the other hand, really liked it. He even stayed awake till the end.

In other weekend news, we made a much needed trip to Costco. Besides the usual stuff, we bought a number of large pots to be used in some container gardening we're going to be doing this summer. Score!

My rating: 3/5 (for the movie, not the weekend)

Saturday, March 28

listed

Our investment property has been listed! For obvious reasons, I hope it sells quickly. I was comparing it to similarly priced properties and I have to say, it looks better than any of the ones I was looking at. We never had a problem renting it out--people always loved the place. So, I guess we have that working in our favor.

One negative is that we have to have the sewer line done prior to the sale, but it's going to need to be done eventually, anyway, so I guess I shouldn't worry about that.

Sunday, March 22

gone girl (the movie) and other things

Brian and I watched this movie last night. I was really looking forward to seeing it, but I found it to be a tad disappointing. I think it was because I loved the unexpected twists of the book and since I already knew what was going to happen, it wasn't as engaging. Also, the "diary" portions of the story were better in the book than in the movie (but I guess this is a no-brainer since they are written). Overall, I think they did a good job with it, but the book was definitely better.

My rating: 3.5/5

In other news, the three of us went out for dinner at Off the Rak with Carol and Bob (also last night). As always, it was great to see them. Brian and I also wrapped things up at our investment property today so that will be on the market as soon as our realtors can get it listed. The only negative of the weekend is that Jake picked up a stomach virus and was sick all last night. He stayed at a friend's house Friday night and someone there was sick and as luck would have it... You might want to buy stock in Clorox and Lysol as I have been going through those products at an alarming rate today. Fingers crossed that Brian and I can dodge the bug.

Wednesday, March 18

almost there

We almost have things wrapped up at our investment property. I think I have one minor thing left on my "to do" list and Brian has a few on his. But, all of the obvious stuff is done so we met with our realtors yesterday so they could do a walk-through of the property. Luckily for us, everything looked good to them, so we just need to wrap up those last few things this weekend and then we'll be putting it on the market!

Saturday, March 14

22 jump street

We watched this cleverly named sequel last night. While it was amusing, I thought the first movie was better, but I guess that's how it usually goes with sequels.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, March 8

a good marriage

This is not a commentary about the state of my union, rather it is a movie review of the adaptation of the Stephen King short story by the same name. 

This move was pretty much panned by the critics, but I loved the story so much that I just had to watch it. I think they got a number of things right, but the movie did not have the depth of the book. I also thought the husband half of the equation was played pretty well but the wife character seemed different than I remembered. Also, the ending was not the same (the crux was the same, but it was played out in a different manner that, frankly, did not add anything to the story).

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, March 1

abducted 2 (pacific coast justice)

For a freebie, this wasn't bad. It was a standard cop/suspense type of book, but the author was a Christian author and I felt that all of the proselytizing took away from the story. Still, it was a pretty quick read.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, February 22

this is where i leave you

This movie had a couple of my favorite actors in it (Jason Bateman and Tina Fey), so I was expecting a little more from it, but I still found it to be rather entertaining. The story was about four adult siblings who sit shiva in their childhood home after their father's death. Judging from the previews, it looked to be a straight up comedy, but it was really more of a dramedy (which I don't mind, but just sayin').

My rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, February 17

bifocal

Now seeing twice as good.

I've been putting it off, but I couldn't put it off another year, so I got bifocals today. I got progressive lenses, so you can't tell they are bifocals unless I tell you, which I just did. So, beyond the four people who read my blog, no one else will be the wiser.

Next up on my old age bucket list: my AARP card.

Sunday, February 15

one dog's opinion

We were getting ready to go work on our investment property this afternoon and I jokingly said that we should take Buster. Brian was surprisingly on board with that idea so we took him. While we were getting set up to work, Buster gave us his opinion of the place by taking a giant dump on the living room carpet (he does not adapt well to new surroundings).

Beyond that, we did get a lot accomplished this afternoon. Brian removed the old kitchen flooring. Jake removed all of the cabinet doors and drawers, along with the old hardware that was attached to them. And I painted all of the cabinet frames and (as a bonus) the drawers. This puts us in good shape for next weekend. I feel like I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, February 14

birthdayx4

I don't know how Brian lucks out. We just had his 4th birthday celebration this evening. He wanted the two of us to make spinach lasagna (complete with homemade noodles) for supper, so that's what we did.

His first celebration was dinner at my parents' last month; the second was when we went away two weeks ago (originally that trip was planned for this weekend, so he considered it to be part of his birthday celebration); the third was dinner at my in-laws' last weekend.

Three of the four celebrations involved pasta. Coincidence?

Monday, February 9

the collector

This was another good story recommended to me by Brian. I read most of it while we were away the other weekend. The plot was about a man who becomes obsessed with a woman and subsequently kidnaps her.

The first part of the book was from the man's point of view and I found this more interesting than the latter part of the book, which was told from the woman's point of view. The reason for this is that her point of view didn't really shed additional light on anything--it was just kind of rehashing the previous story.

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, February 7

the maze runner

Is it just me or is there a glut of post-apocalyptic teenage fare going around these days? This was probably my second favorite next to The Hunger Games. It had a lot of action and a unique plot, though I think I missed a couple of important plot elements while mixing up some Margaritas. I'll have to look into that.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, February 2

parenthood

This series finally wrapped up last week. I was ready for it to go. For the most part, I enjoyed watching it, but there were some moments...

Brian's favorite thing about the show was that it gave him a reason to complain (he wasn't a fan). The funny thing is that I probably wouldn't have watched it except for the fact that Peter Krause was one of the main characters and I loved him on Six Feet Under, so I gave the show a try.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, February 1

weekend getaway

Since we enjoy going to Forest County so much, I thought it might be fun to take a weekend trip there this winter. We stayed at The Storybook Cabin, which is the place we stayed at our first time up there. We left Friday around lunchtime and returned today. The cabin was very cozy and we stayed in all weekend, with the exception of an afternoon trip to Blackbird Distillery. The offerings at the distillery were delicious.

We did have some excitement at the cabin. On Friday night, just as we were finishing our supper, two guys knocked on our door. One was carrying a tire iron. At first glance it looked a little nefarious, but it turned out that they were two boy scouts with a flat tire. Brian tried to help them out, but they ended up stripping one of the lug nuts, so he ended up taking them to the camp they were staying at, which was about 20 minutes up the road.

Regardless, we're all refreshed and ready to tackle another work week. And, best of all, it's only 5.5 months till we go to Forest County again.

Friday, January 23

the hunger games: mockingjay part 1

Jake and I went to the Westwood Plaza Theatre to see this movie. Bonus: it was at 6:15 so we had supper there.

The movie was quite good. It's been a while since I've read the books, but I think it followed the story pretty well. Much like in the Harry Potter series, they have broken the last book up into two movies. I was wondering how they were going to pull it off, but I was fairly satisfied with how this one ended.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, January 17

horns (the movie)

I was kind of excited when I heard they were making a movie out of this book because I really, really liked it. On the other hand, how often is it that the movies made from books are a disappointment? Pretty often.

That said, the movie started off pretty slow, so I was a little worried at the beginning, but once the horns popped out, things got interesting. Overall both Brian and I liked it, but could it have been better? Definitely.

My rating: 3.5/5

Tuesday, January 13

progress report

The investment property spruce-ups are going well. We finished painting the living room, dining room and stairwell on Saturday afternoon. This leaves the kitchen, which is going to be a chore because we're also painting the cabinets. There are some other things to do, of course, but they are minor in comparison to the kitchen project. I'm hoping to wrap things up by the end of February so we can get the house on the market (the sooner the better, really). That night, the two of us (Jake was in NY visiting his cousins) went to a party at my brother's house, so at least I didn't have to cook after working all afternoon.

Saturday, January 10

last vegas

Brian and I watched this last night. It was amusing enough--kind of like the Hangover movies, but tamer and with old people.

My rating: 3/5

Sunday, January 4

time off

I took a couple of days off over the holidays and I feel like I'm sufficiently well-rested, caught-up, and ready to get back to work. In fact, when I first woke up this morning, I thought it was Monday and I wasn't even disappointed.

I haven't been doing much in the way of anything lately, so I need to kick things into high gear starting tomorrow. I mean, I'm caught up on housework and such, but there are always other things that could be done. And I need to start exercising again. I took a couple week break over the holidays, but that is about to end.

We finished the holiday break on a social note. On Friday night, we went to my in-laws to celebrate our niece's and my father-in-law's birthdays. And, last night, we went out to eat at Franklin Street Bar & Grill with Judy and her new-ish boyfriend (who we got to meet for the first time).

Nothing fun is planned for today. We're supposed to paint at our rental property this afternoon, otherwise I'm going to continue to not over-exert myself.

Saturday, January 3

2014

I'm a little bit late on my year in review, but I was really busy napping on my days off over Christmas, so cut me a break! I haven't been this caught up on sleep since we went on vacation last summer (or maybe ever).

What a busy year this was! Between anniversaries, confirmations, graduations, showers, and weddings--not to mention the usual family get-togethers, holidays, birthdays and work--this was a busy year. From April to October, I don't think we had a free weekend (which probably explains why we barely got to ride our bikes this year).

All of the previously mentioned events have been blogged about, so I won't rehash them here. One thing that I don't think I've mentioned is work. We hired for some key positions and that really helped the company to grow in 2014. We're hoping/planning to do the same this year.

In entertainment news, I started watching Orange is the New Black. Love that show! Thanks to my new knitting hobby, I didn't do as much reading this year as I normally do (though I did watch plenty of tv/movies because I can knit while doing that). But I did read a couple of really good books, Gone Girl, being my favorite. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, too. As for movies, I can't get Out of the Furnace out of my head, so I guess that has to be my favorite. The music front was kind of meh this year. Sure, it had the new Foo Fighters release. Surprisingly, I haven't listened to it much, but I do really like the first single. And, I got turned on to Royal Blood and rather like them. Conveniently, both bands are touring together in the summer and we have tickets! That is going to be a fun show, but I don't want to wish my summer away before winter is even over.

For vacation, we went to Forest County because that is what we do.

I feel like 2015 is going to be a good year. We don't have all of the milestones to celebrate this year, so that will cut down on our activity level. Work is moving in the right direction. And if we can sell our rental property, we should be able to buy a plot of land, which would make me fantastically happy.