Monday, December 31

new year's eve

The New Year's holiday is one we typically spend alone. This is by choice. Neither Brian nor I particularly enjoy going out on New Year's Eve, so that is off the table. Only family-friendly activities are considered, but we're not exactly looking hard for something to do. Jacob happens to be sick with a cold today and Brian has to work tomorrow so these things had to be taken into consideration when planning the evening's activities.

The city of Johnstown has been putting on this "Celebrate Johnstown" thing for a few years now. Last year, we checked out the fireworks. This year, we checked out the bands. By this evening, Jake was feeling well enough to go out, so we went downtown early and checked out a few bands (Brian knew the people who were playing). It was nice and I was surprised to see so many people there. I guess the fact that it's a family-friendly event doesn't hurt. I like to support Johnstown stuff whenever I can. It might be a dying city, but not on my watch.

After we got home and Jake played a few rounds of guitar hero, we played a rousing game of scrabble. Jake was pissed because he came in 3rd. I was happy because I won. Note to Jacob: you'll get no breaks around here. I'm competitive to the point of ridiculousness, but I rarely lose word games, so they're a safe bet for me. Don't even ask me to play Boggle--you will lose!

It's late. Everyone's in bed. The dogs are snoring. I'm going to stay up till midnight just because I'm not tired. Tomorrow we'll be doing our usual pork and sauerkraut thing for lunch. I need to get up early to get that in the oven. Never mind the fact that I have to go to bed early tomorrow because I have to go to work on Wednesday.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30

beer league

This is what happens when I let Brian pick the movie. Actually, the movie wasn't bad. But, it wasn't great, either. It was about a softball beer league. I don't think I need to go into specifics here. The movie was brought to you by Artie Lange, one of Howard Stern's sidekicks, so that should give you a good idea of the intelligence level of the film. Brian's always bitching about my movie selections (Babel, Dogville, and The Good Girl, just to name a few), so I have to throw him a bone every once in a while.

jacob doesn't live here anymore

In the past week, Jake spent 2 nights at my parent's house, 1 night at my in-law's, and, tonight, he's staying at his friend's house. Sheesh. I'm going to forget what he looks like before long. Thank goodness school is back in session in a few days and he'll have to sleep here again.

Friday, December 28

even more christmas

We had a bunch of people from Brian's family over this evening. Namely, our niece, his parents, his sister and her family, and his aunt and uncle. It was especially nice to see his sister and her crew--we don't get to see them very often.

The usual eating, drinking, and merriment occurred. The guys hung out in the bar and played pool most of the evening while the gals sat in the living room and talked.

The kids played Guitar Hero for a bit and put on a magic show (with Jake's new magic set) right before everyone left.

Alice was a perfect lady all evening. Lizzy, on the other hand, was in the crate. I've found it's easier to keep her in the crate when we have a lot of people over versus actually training her to not jump all over people. Hmpf.

Wednesday, December 26

more christmas

I had today off work, which was nice. But, now, I'm regretting not taking the whole week off. I guess 2 days of work won't kill me before my upcoming 4 day weekend...

We were supposed to visit Brian's grandmother this morning, but that got pushed back because we had a home inspection scheduled for the property we're trying to buy. It took way longer than expected, but I'm ok with that given what it cost. At least I feel like I got my money's worth out of it. Nothing we didn't already know about was found so our last hurdle is the zoning stuff. Stay tuned.

Till we got to Brian's grandmother's it was 3:00. We had a nice visit with her, then ate some ham sandwiches and soup and headed home just in time for my parents and brother to visit. Jake ended up going home with them and we won't see him till after work on Friday. At least this will give him something to do seeing that Brian and I both have to work the next two days. I'm sure he could've kept himself busy with his new toys, but this will likely be more fun for him.

It's the 26th, so I guess it's time to put away the gifts. I can't live like this for another day--the living room is in complete chaos. Better yet will be January 1st when I can put all of the decorations back in the attic and things will be back to normal.

Tuesday, December 25

christmas day

We went to my in-laws for supper today. They had a pretty big crowd as our niece was there with her whole crew. I've been feeling kind of crappy the past few days. Unfortunately today wasn't any different. Due to this, we arrived late, but just in time for dinner. I didn't eat much, but what I had was good. After dinner, it was time to open the presents. This year's gifts can be summed up as follows: cooking, grilling, and drinking. As it happens, those are three of my favorite things, so all of those gifts will be sure to get a workout.

We didn't get home till after 9. Jake couldn't wait to play guitar hero again, but he had some things to do when we got home, so I was nice and let him stay up till 11 (actually, I think he still might be awake). Brian's currently crashed out in the chair by the fireplace. And, I'm about to do one of my favorite Christmas pastimes--inventorying my loot.

christmas eve and morning

We celebrated Christmas Eve with my parents. My mom wanted to do the Feast of the 7 Fishes, but given that only a few people were going to be there, I managed to talk her down to 5. Dinner was great, though. And, we came home with some extra crab cakes that we're going to eat for lunch.

Shortly after dinner, we got to open presents. Among other things, we got a lot of new books to read--I can't wait to check those out. Jake got some legos, a really cool magic kit and a bunch of other stuff.

Shortly after we got home last night, we went to the 10:30 service at our church. The "new" pastor didn't get the memo that this service was only supposed to be 50 minutes long, so we didn't get home until almost midnight. Brian and I stayed up till Jake fell asleep and then put the presents under the tree. It was 1:00 or 1:30 till we got to bed.

Jake was up bright and early at 7AM. At first, he thought Santa brought him a dirt bike (which is the thing he covets the most). Then, he said it was too big, so it must be a motorcycle. After uncovering it, he discovered it was just a bicycle (a chopper bicycle, that is). But ever the positive boy, he said that was even better. And, it wasn't from Santa, either, by the way. So, he was wrong on all counts. He then opened the rest of his gifts. Other highlights were Guitar Hero II and a spy kit (that Santa really knows what the boy wants). After that, Brian and I went back to bed while Jake played with his toys and worked on one of the lego kits he got last night.

A few hours later, we finally got up. We don't have to be anywhere till later this afternoon, so I guess we'll just spend the day playing with our new toys.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22

done deal (sort of)

We made another offer on that Moxham property today. It was accepted this time! We still have the zoning hurdle to get past, but things are looking pretty good there. It will take a bit of time to get that straightened out, though.

Between that, changing Brian's business structure, Brian's work schedule, my job, and the holidays, my stress level is on red alert. Watch out!

the big bad city

I just finished reading this one last night while Jake and Brian were off gallivanting all over Johnstown. It was another one of Ed McBain's 87 Precinct novels. And, a good one at that. I do enjoy his writing style. As these novels typically go, there were a number of mysteries occurring in the 87th precinct. All were satisfactorily resolved. The end.

Tuesday, December 18

good news?

The property we didn't get (in Moxham) is back on the table. The other deal fell through, so our realtor called us to see if we're still interested in it. We are, so she's trying to get the zoning stuff figured out for us. If things fall into place, we still have a chance to get the property. But, we're not going to pursue it as aggressively this time around. We'll just kind of wait and see what happens. I'm trying to not get all excited about it because I was really disappointed last time. But, things are looking up.

Sunday, December 16

mission not accomplished

Well, I didn't quite finish all of my Christmas stuff this weekend as I still have a batch of cookies to bake (they are mixed up and ready to go, though). We were hit with a network issue today (yes, at home--just what kind of a dork have I turned in to?) and I ended up working on that for a few hours this evening, instead. Unfortunately, the network issue involved driving to Circuit City in the snowstorm to buy some new hardware. But, I think everything is working again, so that is good.

Friday, December 14

christmas stuff

My day off was a fairly productive one. I bought the last few presents on my list. All of the presents are wrapped. And, the tree is up and decorated. Actually, the presents I ordered from Brian's Rickety ol' Furniture Shoppe are still on backorder. I don't know why I keep ordering from that place. So, I guess I'm not quite done with my wrapping yet...

Jake and I had to run to Toys R Us this afternoon because he has a birthday party go to to tomorrow. I picked up a few other gifts while we were there so it was a successful shopping trip. I hate shopping in stores (I prefer the internet), but this went pretty smoothly.

Whenever I have a day off, I like to make something for supper that requires a little more effort than usual. So, today, I made my grandmother's Meatball Soup (aka Italian Wedding Soup):

*** stock ***
4 1/2 pounds chicken backs
3 stalks celery
2 pounds carrots
2 medium onions
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons salt
*** meatballs ***
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs -- beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2/3 cup Romano cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
black pepper -- to taste
*** remaining ingredient ***
20 ounces frozen chopped spinach -- thawed

Place chicken in a large stock pot. Cover chicken with water. Add celery, carrots, onions, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 4-5 hours. Skim off the foam.

Once broth is done, strain. Either use a fat separator to remove the fat from the broth or refrigerate and skim from the top, once cooled. Put cooked carrots aside. Discard everything else.

Mix meatball ingredients. Roll very small meatballs. Chop the carrots. Bring the strained broth to a boil, add the meatballs along with the carrots and spinach. Simmer. Add more salt if needed. Cook meatballs in soup for at least 1/2 hour. Serve hot. Freezes well.

Heck, I even had time to make some homemade bread. It was a good supper, with plenty of leftovers. I can hardly wait for lunch tomorrow.

still alive

Yes, I'm still here. Nothing post-worthy has been going on, hence the lack of posts. Today is really no different, but I feel obligated to post since so much time has passed since I last did. I'm off work today and plan to wrap up everything Christmas-related over the course of the weekend. Now, I'm off to wrap some gifts...

Sunday, December 9

whiskey and beer

Tonight we went to a whiskey and beer party at Doug's. Nothing much to report. I drank wine. We had fun. We always have fun there. Mostly people I used to work with go to these things and there was a nice showing of them tonight. It was good to catch up with everyone. I'm starting to sound like a broken record with these parties (there are so many, it's hard to come up with new material). But, I will say that we fully intended only staying 2 hours or so, and we ended up staying for 5, so that goes to show that we were having a great time.

Saturday, December 8

e.t.: the extra-terrestrial

We had another family movie night last night and watched the old classic, E.T. It's funny how the old movies are never how you remember them. They always seem to lose a bit of something over the years. Or, maybe it's just me. But, it was still fun to watch again and Jake really liked the movie, and that's kind of the point of the whole thing.

Thursday, December 6

Tuesday, December 4

so much for that idea

Well, our real estate deal fell through. The city couldn't/wouldn't do anything about the zoning, so the guy who was selling the property accepted someone else's bid. Just try getting someone from city hall to return your call. This whole scenario was very annoying and has us thinking about locating Brian's business elsewhere. I suppose this is good information for us to have because it's better than finding out how the city runs AFTER you've already moved the business there.

Oh well, we'll just have to keep on looking...

Saturday, December 1

exciting times

We started looking for a property for Brian's business recently. The time to expand is now. Brian was hoping to get something downtown (preferably in the tech park area), but nothing has caught our eye down there yet. There are surprisingly few commercial properties available at the moment.

We checked out a property in Moxham the other week and found it to our liking. But, although it was originally a commercial building, it's now zoned residential, so a business can't be run out of it. Brian went to the city hall to inquire about getting the zoning changed, but no one seemed to think it would be possible. Our realtor, on the other hand, has been talking to someone else down there and he seems to think it's a possibility. So, we're in limbo until someone makes a decision.

The building needs some work, but the price is definitely right. It's not in bad shape, but it will need some updating. Plus, it was converted into a "house" years ago, so we'll have to redo the kitchen and bathroom to make them suitable for an office.

We took another look at the property this morning and made an offer on it (contingent upon the zoning change, of course). Now all we can do is cross our fingers and hope it works out. Wish us luck!

'twas a hockey night in johnstown

Our friend Lish was able to snag some hockey tickets through work so she took the three of us, her boyfriend, Brent, and Brent's nephew to a game last night. The game started off pretty promising--there were quite a number of fights (that always makes it more interesting). Johnstown wasn't able to get many shots on goal, though, and the score remained 0 to 0 for quite a bit. The other team finally scored a goal so when it came down to the last minute or so, Johnstown pulled the goalie in a last ditch attempt to score. Unfortunately, the other team scored again. Even though the Chiefs lost, we still had a good time at the game.

Afterwards, Lish and Brent came over to our house to check out the bar. I whipped up a few snacks and we had some drinks. Brian and Brent played pool while Lish and I sat at the bar and talked. Before we knew it, it was 1AM! Brent had to go because he had to be at work at 7AM this morning. I was ready for bed at that point, anyway. It was definitely a fun evening and I'm starting to think our bar might be the hottest night spot in town.