Monday, June 11

you've been warned

This was a novel by James Patterson and Howard Roughan. I still don't understand this co-author thing as it relates to Patterson, but I can say that this particular novel was not one of the better ones. Part of my problem with it was that it had a supernatural tinge to it, which is a first for me with Patterson, so it was a bit confusing because I wasn't expecting that element. Secondly, it just wasn't that good. I will not be seeking out any more books by Roughan, that is for sure. You've been warned, indeed.

My rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, June 10

the graduate

Another chapter came to a close on Friday when Jacob graduated from high school. He will be attending UPJ in the fall and living at home, so we still get him for a little longer.

After the graduation ceremony, we had a little get together at the house with his grandparents and cousin, but the big celebration takes place later this month. This has definitely been a year to celebrate Jake!

Wednesday, June 6

48

So, my birthday was yesterday. As is customary, I had the day off. I didn't do anything particularly interesting--mostly errands--but I did manage a nap and some knitting. The best surprise was running into Jake at Giant Eagle, where he was buying me flowers for my birthday--such a sweetie! The three of us also went out to dinner at Franklin Street Bar & Grill. Previously, we celebrated my birthday (and my brother's) with my family over Memorial Day weekend. So, I guess that's it till next year.

Saturday, June 2

boo-boo

Esme got a little cut on one of her foot pads and had been limping for a few days, so Brian took her to see the vet yesterday afternoon. The cut was slightly infected so she was put on a course of antibiotics and was also given some pain medication. She's doing better already. Hopefully we'll be able to exercise her again soon because she's starting to get pretty wound up.

Sunday, May 27

angel time

This book was written by Anne Rice. It was about a contract killer that turned into a helper to guardian angels. Uh huh. I think she should stick to vampire stories.

My rating: 2/5

Wednesday, May 23

sold!

We sold our rental house as of Monday. Finally. I had a love/hate relationship with that place. It was nice to have the income (though once you figure in taxes, upkeep, insurance, etc., it didn't amount to that much), but I always hated dealing with potential renters. And, it seemed that things were getting worse in that regard--we'd get a lot of applications from Philly and NY from people who did not have jobs. Hmm. Anyway, it's nice to have one less thing to worry about and to also be one step closer to building our own house. Now, if only we could find a plot of land that we both agree on...

Sunday, May 20

only the brave

This movie was based on the true story of a group of wildfire firefighters. It had one bummer of an ending, so if you're not into that sort of thing, you'll want to skip this one. On the plus side, it had firefighters.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, May 14

eighteen

It's hard to believe, but Jake turned 18 yesterday. He has turned out to be a fine young man.

Like usual, we went to Rey Azteca (on Friday) to celebrate and then we had the family over on Sunday for a Mother's Day/birthday party. It was a good time, but I swear we can never catch a break with the weather. Too early in the season, I guess. We even got the patio all ready to go as it was originally supposed to be nice.

Also, I was treated to breakfast and a newspaper as soon as I got up on Sunday. That was a nice suprprise!

Brian and I spent all day Saturday cooking. We didn't have a firm headcount, so we ended up with a little more leftovers than anticipated. But, that's fine with me as I won't have to cook supper for a day or two.


Tuesday, May 8

jingle bells

We learned this trick a few dogs ago, where you hang a bell on the doorknob and ring it when you let the dog out. Eventually they learn to ring the bell whenever they have to go out. It is a great house training tool.

Not so with Esme. We've had the bell on the door from day one and she still won't tell us that she has to go out. That said, she is doing ok with the house training, but it's only because we let her out at regular intervals--it's never because she asks to go out.

Interestingly, at the office, she rings the bell all of the time. But, it's not because she has to go out, it's because she wants to (either because Brian is outside talking to someone or because it's nice out). Dogs.

Monday, May 7

garden time

I'm fairly caught up in the garden--I have stuff planted inside and out. But, I'm not at all caught up on yard work. Jake's birthday is next weekend and the weather looks like it might be nice, so I guess it's time to at least get the patio in order so we can have things outside.

Monday, April 30

rough justice

Another book from Lisa Scottoline. It was fine, just like the rest of hers, but nothing to write home about. It was a legal thriller, like all of her other books that I've read (which I think is the only type of book she writes).

But, I could sure go for a Stephen King or Joe Hill novel. Unfortunately, I'm all caught up on those authors. Perhaps it is time to re-read some of their works?

My rating: 3/5 

Sunday, April 29

three billboards outside ebbing, missouri

This was a really good movie. Surely you have heard of it so I won't bore you with the details. It starred Frances McDormand (who is great in every role I've ever seen her in and who also won Best Actress for this film). There was one thing that bothered me about it, though--everyone's grammar was atrocious. I mean, it's not like I don't know people who have bad grammar, but this was a little over the top. It made the writing seem a little out of touch to me. Other than that, it was quite compelling.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, April 23

get out

Interestingly, comedian Jordan Peele wrote and directed this horror movie. It had some elements of comedy for sure, but it was mostly a social commentary about racism. It was done quite well. I don't want to spoil the movie by talking about the plot, but what was going on was totally crazy. Both Brian and I enjoyed the movie, and I'm still thinking about it a few days after watching, so I guess it had its intended effect.

My rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, April 19

drier dryer

My dryer hasn't been working properly since I got a new washing machine. At first, I blamed it on the new washer (perhaps it didn't get as much water out of the laundry as the old one?). But after reading a couple of articles, I decided to check the dryer vent hose. Apparently this is something I should have done about five years ago as it was about 90% clogged with lint. Brian helped me get everything cleaned up and now the dryer is working as good as new!

Note to self: check this again in 2023.

Sunday, April 15

everyday ordinary no one

Brian wrote a book! It's a collection of personal essays called "Everyday Ordinary No One". Stories will be released to the site every week between now and Thanksgiving. You can read them or listen to a audio version for free. The book is also available for purchase in print and digital formats. What a huge accomplishment!

Friday, April 13

finally

Despite being off yesterday, I took today off to enjoy the nice weather. Yesterday was full of painting the bathroom, shopping at Conzatti's, a trip to the vet, and making cookies, so I was not able to get outside, as much as I would have liked to.

Let's start with Lizzy...she has had diarrhea for over a week and putting her on a bland diet did not fix the problem, so we made a trip to the vet. She is on some sort of antibiotic for 10 days and the vet all but guarantees it will fix the problem, if only temporarily. But if it doesn't, more tests will be needed in order to see what's up.

As for the cookies, Jake and I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies last night. He was playing at his school's "Coffeehouse" this evening and was required to take in some baked goods.

But, today was so nice that Brian and I both played hooky. We started by taking a hike with Esme in the morning. Esme loves the woods! So does Brian. I'm kind of so-so on it, but I don't mind going for a hike on a nice trail. Plus, it's fun to watch Esme in the woods--she's so good.

After lunch, I started cleaning up the garden a bit so I could plant onions. I'm glad to say that all of the onions are now in the ground. The onion plants I ordered shipped at the end of March and they've just been sitting ever since because the weather has been so bad. Luckily, they were still in good shape.

Tuesday, April 10

gwendy's button box

This novella, written by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, was a good palate cleanser after reading that last book of short stories.

It had a weird plot that I'm not even going to try to explain, but I will tell you that it was a quick and compelling read.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, April 9

lewis black

Brian, Jake, and I went to see Lewis Black at The Palace Theater last night. It was a lot of fun. It was Jake's first stand-up experience and I think he liked it. For that matter, it was only the 3rd one for me and Brian, so Jake's ahead of the game. I don't know who opened for Lewis, but he was pretty funny--definitely the best of the openers we've seen.

Saturday, April 7

poe's children

This was a compilation of short stories put together by Peter Straub. There were really only a few that I liked (and two of those were written by Stephen King and Joe Hill, and I had already read them before).

Thanks to this book, I'm now behind on my reading for the year. Guess I better pick a short one for my next read.

My rating: 2.5/5

Wednesday, April 4

strike 2

My washing machine errored again today. That fix didn't last very long--eight days to be exact. Brian's going to call them again in the morning, but I think it's time to start researching lemon laws.

Monday, April 2

easter weekend

Brian's sister and crew were in for the Easter weekend. We got to catch up with them on Saturday night while celebrating Brian's mom's birthday.

We had Easter at our place this year, with my family. My mom usually hosts Easter, but my grandmother can no longer get up and down stairs, so I offered to host it since we don't have any steps to speak of. My mom brought half of the food, which made my job pretty easy.

We had our annual Easter egg hunt for Jake Sunday morning. I guess you're never too old for that. Despite holding it in the same area (the living room and dining room) for the past 17 or so years, we still had him stumped on a few.

We also had a post-Easter snowstorm and received a couple inches of snow overnight. I'm about done with this weather!

Wednesday, March 28

irony

Yesterday, my washer was fixed, so I had some catching up to do. The last load I washed must have made the washer wobble a bit and the nearly full container of liquid detergent that was sitting on top of the washer fell to the floor and the cap broke open. There was probably 1/4" of detergent coating the floor. I wasn't sure what to do, so I grabbed a mop and got to work. That worked fairly well, but in retrospect, I probably should have squeegeed up the worst of it first. It's funny how difficult it is to clean up soap.

Monday, March 26

court of honor

Jake's Eagle Scout Court of Honor was yesterday. The event was really nice and we had a good turnout. Finally, all those years of hard work have paid off! He didn't seem too thrilled at the time, but he's glad that he did it now.

My mom and I made a bunch of cookies for it. I also made a cake and she decorated it. Not surprisingly, we have enough cookies left over to hold another event.

Up next: graduation.

Friday, March 23

washer woes

As previously documented, my new (as of January) washing machine was throwing error codes in February. I had a repairman look at it but the diagnostics ran fine, so he didn't do anything to fix the problem. Last week, after working for about a month, it started throwing the same codes again. So, we had a repairman come again today. This was a different guy and he's ordering three parts to fix the problem. Of course, they won't be in until sometime next week, so I'm without a washer for the foreseeable future. So, I guess I'll be washing at our rental property again, which is not the most convenient thing in the world, but it's better than going to the laundromat. Also, my mom is slated to do a load for me (thanks, Mom!).

Speaking of our rental property, someone looked at it yesterday and we're supposed to be getting an offer! Maybe I should buy an extra washing machine with the proceeds.

Tuesday, March 20

spring?

Today is the first day of spring. I also saw the first robin of the year this morning. Despite this seemingly good news, we got a few inches of snow dumped on us today, with more to come tonight and tomorrow. Will gardening season ever begin?

Thursday, March 15

cookies, cookies, cookies

I've spent the last two weekends gearing up for Jacob's upcoming Eagle Scout ceremony. I've made dozens of cookies (chocolate chip, no bake, and peanut butter) at home. Jake even helped me out with some of them. Then, last Saturday, I went to my Mom's and we knocked out five dozen or so sugar cookies. I also helped ice them and my Mom finished decorating them herself.

Despite all of that, I made some Twix Thumbprint Cookies last night. This was my second time for these and I made some adjustments. First, I cut the caramels and inserted them into the individual cookies before baking. Second, I drizzled the chocolate with a fork rather than using a bag. Doing it this way evidently leaves you with an excess of melted chocolate, so I made pecan and almond bark with the leftovers. It was a win-win situation.

Wednesday, March 14

ahh, taxes

We finally signed our tax forms yesterday, despite having had an appointment to get our taxes done over a month ago. There was a holdup with one of the businesses due to some tax credits it received. The bad news is that we owe some money this year. After years of getting large refunds, we adjusted our withholding, but we ended up making a little more than expected (I guess this is the good news?), so now we owe. Go figure.

And, speaking of business, we tried putting our rental house on the market again after our renters moved out last year. Our listing was to expire at the end of last month, but there were a couple of latecomers who expressed interest in buying the property so we extended the listing for another month. Of course, we've since heard back from none of them, because that's how that goes. I guess the good news there is that we'll be renting it out again soon and recognizing some income again. It seems there is always good news. Haha.

Monday, March 5

bd party

So, we actually got out for a bit Friday night. One of Brian's high school friends had a birthday party and we went to it. We were not able to stay super long due to the puppy (the party was in Vandergrift, which is a bit of a hoof). But it was a pleasant enough evening.


Monday, February 26

the killing of a sacred deer

This movie was almost good, but left too many questions at the end--and not in the usual way. The story wrapped up, but they did not explain a lot of things. It was quite compelling to watch, so for this I will give it a generous rating. But I do not recommend it.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, February 21

the silent wife

This was your basic dysfunctional Italian family kind of story. It was a quick read--I read much of it while we were away over the weekend. Not the kind of book I usually read, but I enjoyed it.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, February 20

it (movie)

Netflix finally shipped me this movie. I couldn't wait to see it and it did not disappoint. I felt it was pretty true to the book and I like how they just did the kids' part of the story in this first chapter. I can hardly wait for chapter 2!

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, February 18

weekend getaway

Brian and I decided a winter trip was in order, so we returned to The Storybook Cabin for a 3rd time. It's a cozy little place, especially in the winter.

Jake stayed home, but we took Buster and Esme. Buster fared better this trip than the last, but still is a challenge in the vehicle--even with carsickness meds. We were totally unplugged for the weekend, which was great (no cell service or internet up there!) and did a lot of reading and knitting. We got out a couple of times with the dogs, but just around the cabin. It was too cold on Saturday for any major outings. We did manage a trip to a yarn store where I bought a couple of skeins of yarn a few years ago. I'm almost ready to start working on a sweater with it and it didn't appear that I was going to have enough yarn, so I bought another skein.

That was really about it. Luckily I have off tomorrow to recover (though Brian plans to go in to the office). I intended on doing all of our laundry today and having a relaxing day tomorrow, but my washer is throwing error codes, so I'm going to have to call in a repairman. Good thing I'm off. I only got the washer about two months ago, so my annoyance level is in on high alert. I guess the good news is that it's under warranty.

Monday, February 12

the end of the world running club

I can't pass up a post apocalyptic story. I believe I heard of this one through Stephen King's Twitter account. For what should be obvious reasons, I always look into his entertainment recommendations. In this story, a large number of meteors struck the earth, which created the post apocalyptic scenario. The main character was separated from his family and ran across Britain in order to find them.

The author, Adrian Walker, was quite a good writer. Some of the prose was impressive. That said while I did enjoy the story, I liked the first half, which was more of an apocalyptic story, than the 2nd half, which involved a lot of running. Also, the ending was ambiguous and I could have done with a little more closure.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, February 11

the best of friends

I got to see all of my favorites this weekend.

Yesterday, Brian and I went out to dinner with Carol and Bob. We were supposed to check out the new restaurant TAP 814, but they had a 90 minute wait, so we headed over to another new restaurant, Tulune's Steak and Alehouse, which only had a 30 minute wait. Overall, the impression was disappointing. The menu was kind of boring as was the decor. I ended up getting chicken, which turned out to be really good, but everyone else was a bit disappointed with their entrees. I'd give it another chance (preferably after they tweak the menu). The service was great, though, especially considering it's a new place and was packed. But, the best part of the evening was getting to hang out with Carol and Bob.

Today, Brian and I went to Canonsburg for Miss Avery's baptism. After the service, Judy had brunch for everyone at her new house. It was great catching up and getting to see Avery (who was so much bigger than the last time!). It's nice that we've been able to get together a few times since Judy moved. We'll definitely need to keep up the momentum.

Monday, February 5

since i last wrote

We've celebrated Brian's birthday twice--once at my parents' and once at his. The events occurred the past two Sundays. Other than that, not a whole lot going on--mostly puppy sitting. Though we do have a pretty hectic (for us) social schedule this month. Stay tuned for all of the exciting details.

Sunday, January 28

sleeping beauties

This book was written by Stephen King and his son, Owen. How two authors can write a book is beyond my comprehension, but that is not the point of this post.

I really enjoyed the book. It has a kind of complicated premise (rife with feministic overtones) and a ton of characters (they were nice enough to provide a character guide at the beginning of the book).

I don't think I've read any of Owen's stuff, but I'm sure his style came through in this book as it wasn't completely like reading a Stephen King novel. Nevertheless, good stuff.

My rating: 4/5

Monday, January 22

pupdate 2

Esme continues to do well. She went on her first hike on Saturday and loved it! She also (mostly) stays in the yard, so we were able to get her outside a few times so she could burn off some of her puppy energy (because walking is not cutting it). She's still having accidents here and there (but not too many)--she even had a accident-free day, which I was pretty happy about. But, seeing that we've only had her for 18 days now, it's hard to complain about her progress. Her only negative is that she is a total bane to productivity. But, it's January so it's not like there's that much going on.

Monday, January 15

the babadook

Eh, this movie was ok. It had some good moments, but I found the plot to be kind of thin. It was basically one of those "monsters under the bed" stories where the monster was real.

My rating: 2.5/5

Friday, January 12

pupdate

Things are going really well with Esme. Buster seems to like her now (except when she's trying to play and jumping on his head). Sylvia is still not having any of this (it probably doesn't help that Esme chases her every time she sees her). Lizzy is too old to care at this point.

The puppy is doing really well with both house and obedience training. She's having a couple of accidents here and there, but it's only been a week! She's already learned sit, down, and stay. Brian is proclaiming her to be the best dog ever. He might be right, but I'm holding off on my judgment until she stops using my floors as a toilet.

Sunday, January 7

sweet 16

It's hard to believe, but Lizzy turned 16 today! She's been with us since Jake was two (he picked her out, in fact). She has a few health issues, but overall she's doing well for her age. Happy Birthday, Lizzy!

Friday, January 5

esmeralda

We got a puppy! On New Year's Day, Jake started a discussion about getting a puppy and Brian was strangely responsive. So, I went over to petfinder.com and we all fell in love with a puppy named Esmeralda, who was at the Pet Adoption League in Yukon, PA.

Brian and I went there yesterday and ended up bringing her home. She's such a sweetie and so well behaved for a puppy.

As for the rest of the pack...Buster was terrified of her at first, but he warmed up a bit after a while. I think those two will get along just fine in a few days. Sylvia was strangely pissed about the whole scenario (I say strangely because she loves everyone and everything), but I'm sure she'll get things figured out eventually, too. And, Lizzy has no time for this kind of nonsense.

Tuesday, January 2

eagle

Jake attained his Eagle Scout rank on Saturday. Brian and I got to sit in on the board of review, which was interesting. They asked some tricky questions, but he handled himself very well--we were quite proud of him. It'll be a couple of weeks until he gets his official paperwork. At that point we'll schedule his Court of Honor.