Wednesday, October 31

halloween 2007

It's that time of the year again--when all of the little monsters put on their costumes and go trick or treating.

We were blessed with good weather this year. It was in the 60s and sunny all day. It got a little chilly after dark, but it is almost November. What do you expect?!? Given the nice weather, I was anticipating a good turnout. But, somehow, I always end up with too much candy. I only made up around 60 treat bags this year. From 6-7 we had a decent amount of kids here, but from 7-8, not so many. It was a pretty slow trickle. I always say I'm going to do less candy, but the one year I actually did that, I ran out. Go figure.

Jake went as a biker. I know--that's quite a stretch for him. The difference between how he looks today versus any other day is that today he wore a skull bandanna over his face. Oh, and he also decided to put some black face paint around his eyes. Other than that, it looks like Jake.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, October 28

ebay: you're my obsession

My latest obsession is ebay. Sure, I've bought a few things there in the past, but recently, I started selling some stuff and boy, is that fun! I have been wanting to do this for a while now, but only received the motivation to do so recently. The funny thing is I was researching prices on some wall switch plates when I discovered that old license plates are a hot commodity. Lo and behold, a bunch of old license plates came with the house (they were found above the walls of the dropped ceiling of the family room, which used to be the basement). I listed these first and got a good response. Unfortunately, I don't expect the same response to the rest of the things I plan on selling, but it's been a fun few weeks. It's hard to believe that people will pay money for something that I would've thrown away.

Saturday, October 27


I'd been wanting to see this movie ever since I laid eyes on the trailer. I was hoping to catch it in the theater, but the timing never worked out. It's not that I'm so busy I can't even see a movie, it's that I only frequent the Westwood Plaza Theatre and it was not playing there any weekend that we could go (that is, we didn't have something else going on and/or Jake was around). That said, I'm sure it was quite the spectacle on the big screen, but it still looked pretty darn good in 27". The story was not a complicated one--just a straight up war story. It was a fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae, as based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (the dude who brought us Sin City).

There was much CGI enhancement going on in this movie. I'm not sure if the muscles of the 300 soldiers were enhanced or not, but either way, it's fine by me. Sitting around watching 300 muscle-bound, scantily clad men for two hours isn't a bad way to spend some time. Add one margarita and some smoky black bean dip to the mix and you have yourself a perfect evening.

Monday, October 22

Saturday, October 20

australian wine tasting party

In order to christen our new bar, we held an Australian wine tasting party this evening. The party was also the impetus for actually building the bar. I'd been wanting to have a wine tasting party for months, but Brian kept saying, "wait till I build a bar", so I waited. And waited. Finally, I picked a date for the party and he got to building the bar.

I was fretting about the guest list all week because some people were definitely not going to make it and others were iffy, but it all worked out in the end. I should probably not waste the energy worrying about such things--I think I need to start doing yoga again so I can clear my mind of such nonsense. We ended up with 10 people (I was shooting for 12, so we'll call that close enough). We tried three white wines and three reds and amazingly, none of them were the same varietals. In fact, only two bottles were from the same vineyard.

I was worried that I made too much food, but it turns out that wasn't an issue--hardly any leftovers were to be found. I don't know if my internal food calculator needs to be recalibrated or if I just invited a bunch of "eaters" to the party, but either way, I'm happy with the results. There's nothing an Italian woman likes more than no leftovers, by the way.

The funny thing is that I'm not much of a socializer, but I totally love wine tasting parties--whether they are hosted at someone else's place or at mine. I really love wine and relish the opportunity to try numerous varieties. We got to try six new ones tonight. All were quite good. So, we'll call it a winner. And, it cemented the fact that I'll be hosting another one of these in the near future.


While I don't know this will go down in history as a classic Stephen King movie, I do know that I liked it very much. It was a scary little story. It was about a guy who writes books about haunted places, but he doesn't believe in anything supernatural--until he visits room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 16

melancholy motorcycling

It was relatively nice yesterday and today after work, so Brian and I (and Jake, too!) took the bikes out. There were ulterior motives in place both days, but we did get a little riding in, too. Brian's been wanting to take a picture of us with the bikes by the stone arch on Menoher Boulevard. We did that yesterday and then took a short ride on the Somerset Pike. Today, Rite Aid was giving flu shots. We stopped there, but the line was too long so we left and went for a ride on 271 towards Ligonier. Riding made me a little sad, though. I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of it and now it's nearly time to put the bike away for the season.

I have a feeling it's going to be a long winter.

Saturday, October 13

28 weeks later

Zombies are scary! And, they were scarier than ever in this sequel to 28 Days Later. The basic premise is that a "rage virus" was leaked from a laboratory (in the first movie). Infection happens instantly after being in contact with a bodily fluid from an infectious person. This causes the person to go into a rage and try to kill/eat other people. By the end of the last movie things were under control--or were they? Given the carnage in this one, I'd say not. I did like the first movie better, but I enjoyed this one as well. Though I won't say how the movie ended, I will say that it's screaming for another sequel.

Thursday, October 11

pile o' rocks

So, I was reading this book on landscaping over the summer and I thought to myself, "hey, I think a fieldstone path in the back yard would be nice." Thoughts like these get me in trouble... As I was mulling over how and where to get the stones, I found out that Brian's parents were removing a small fieldstone path they had in their yard and they were also having a rock wall removed from their back yard. So, I signed us up for the rocks and Brian's been making frequent trips to Nanty Glo to pick up the loot. He probably has another trip or two to make, but here's what we have so far:

I started on my path, but am stopping here for the year. I'll finish it next spring when I get the rest of the rocks.

The path is going to lead to my future greenhouse. Jake's playhouse is currently holding that spot in the yard. I may add some more paths around the garden. Or, I may not. We'll just have to see how many rocks I have left.

To use up the rest of the rocks, I'd like to put in a pond. I've been wanting to do this, but it never seemed feasible till now. I want one just like the one described in the link. I think I can put the larger rocks to use in the pond. Of course, we need to check with the zoning in Upper Yoder to see if we're even allowed to put in a pond (zoning here is only slightly ridiculous). Given that the pond in the link is only 18 inches deep, I think it'll probably be ok. If not, I'm going to put a big pile of rocks in my yard. See how they like that.

Monday, October 8

not what they used to be

Since we were away all weekend, I scheduled today off work. But, my days off work are not what they used to be. I set my alarm for relatively early for a day off (8am). My intention was to pick up the dogs early and then hit the grocery store before lunch. But, Brian and I got to talking about Prime Design Solutions business stuff and I ended up leaving later than planned.

I didn't get home until 11 and was starving at this point. Since there was nothing to eat in the house (remember: I hadn't been to the grocery store yet), I suggested that we go to Pizza Man's in Westwood for pizza. We were already planning a bike ride for the afternoon, so we took the bikes there and had some lunch. After lunch, we did a little ride--it was a nice day for it. Perhaps the last of the season? I hope not.

Brian's business has been doing well, so we've had some discussions about buying a building and expanding things. Whether this comes to fruition or not, I can't say, but it's still pretty exciting that he's in the position where this sort of thing is an option. On the way home from our ride, we checked out a couple of buildings (from the outside) that we've had our eyes on. Just from our external inspection, we were able to rule out one of them, but the other one looks even better to us now.

After we returned home, I made up the grocery list and hit Giant Eagle in Richland. By the time I got home and put away the groceries, it was time to clean up the kitchen and make some dinner. When supper was over, we headed downtown so Jake could march in the Columbus Day parade with the scouts.

When we got home from the parade, I stained the top for the bar Brian has been working on (have I mentioned the bar before? I don't think so, but I'm too lazy to check...), then I vacuumed the house, and finally sat down for the evening. No naps for me today. Luckily I was pretty well rested from the weekend, but barring the bike ride, this wasn't necessarily the way I'd like to spend a day off work. But, it was still better than working.

Sunday, October 7

pittsburgh again

We had Steeler tickets for today's game, so we headed to Pittsburgh yesterday morning. I like going down the day before for two reasons. 1. we don't have such a long day on Sunday. 2. I don't like driving to Pittsburgh so this gives us an opportunity to do more than just go to the game while we're there.

I didn't make our reservations early enough, so the only place I could find that had an opening was The Priory. As it turns out, it was a really nice hotel--a little fancier than we're used to, but nice. It was a former monastery, so that was kind of neat. There was one drawback--they have a wedding hall there and a wedding took place yesterday. After the wedding was over (11pm) a bunch of revelers hung out in the courtyard until almost 3am and they were LOUD. Jake slept through the whole thing. I slept through most of it. But, it had Brian up for the last 2 hours of it. It didn't occur to him to call the front desk and complain (I guess we're not a bunch of complainers), but he did mention it when we checked out this morning. Needless to say, guests are not allowed in the courtyard at that time of the day, so the night manager is going to have their fingers rapped with a ruler the next time he or she shows up for work.

After checking into the hotel, we hoofed over to the Carnegie Science Center and let Jake play in the SportsWorks exhibit all afternoon. After bitching about walking all the way there (it was about 1.5 miles), what do you think his favorite thing was? The treadmill. I kid you not. We really, really wanted to see BODIES...The Exhibition, which is also set up in the SportsWorks building, but it is not open to the general public until the 8th, so I guess we'll be making another trip to Pittsburgh to see that.

We went back to the hotel for a few minutes, enjoyed a complimentary glass of wine in the courtyard, and then went looking for a place to eat supper. We ended up at Max's Allegheny Tavern, a German restaurant/bar. It was pretty good--they had quite a menu. There was a bit of a wait before we were seated because it is apparently hot spot before the Pens games, but other than that it was just fine.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and read books and watched TV. A few hours of that made us bored and sleepy so we were all in bed well before 11.

This morning, we grabbed a little bite to eat at the continental breakfast provided by the hotel and headed to the Jerome Bettis Grille 36 restaurant, where we were meeting Brian's parents and our niece at 10am. This restaurant was quite good as well--they had a nice variety on the menu and it made it hard to choose. We hung out here until game time and then went to the stadium. As soon as we sat down I knew we were going to be in for a long afternoon. It had to be 90 degrees outside. It was so hot that it made the game unpleasant to watch. I sat baking in the sun as long as I could and then Jake had to go to the bathroom, so I volunteered to take him just to get out of the sun. I sat and baked some more and then it was halftime. We all went to the concourse to get out of the sun. The kids and I stayed there for most of the 3rd quarter because none of us wanted to sit in the sun any longer. By the time we got back to our seats, Brian was talking about leaving early. We ended up leaving with about 5 minutes remaining. The game was all but wrapped up (the Steelers beat the Seahawks 21-0), so I was on board. We had to walk all the way back to the hotel to get the car and then we got the hell out of dodge. I don't know how we managed this, but we got out of the city very quickly and didn't really hit any traffic to speak of. At least the Steelers won today. I would have hated to sit through all of that for a loss. So, this was not one of the better games I've been to, but I'm sure I won't forget it.

Saturday, October 6


Last night, we did Margaritas and a movie (and popcorn, too!). We watched the original Halloween. I probably haven't seen this movie in 20 years. It didn't hold up as well as I thought it would. Perhaps it's because I know the plot inside and out (mainly because about 100 movies have copied it since then). I don't know. But, it was still a fun evening.

Wednesday, October 3


We caught this movie last night. It was quite good--very intense. When it comes to "thriller" movies, I prefer the ones with the human monsters in them rather than plain-old monsters. This one had the human variety in it so it was right up my alley. The movie was rather short--another plus. It was a good movie for a weeknight.