Wednesday, December 27

the holiday

It was pretty laid back this year. We spent Christmas Eve with my family (and Jake's girlfriend) at our house. Dinner wasn't even a challenge--I have this holiday stuff down pat. I feel like I need to challenge myself more next year. Maybe it's time to mix things up! Christmas Day, we went to my in-laws for dinner. That was really about it for holiday socializing (not that we ever did much of that).

I did take a number of days off and am so caught up around the house that I already have next week's grocery list done. Today was especially fun. I wrapped up the leftovers by either eating them or repurposing them (Cranberry Oatmeal Bars and Gnocchi). Not only that, but I also have a batch of beef jerky drying out in the oven as we speak.

Back to work tomorrow for one day and then off again until Tuesday!


This book was from F. Paul Wilson's "Repairman Jack" series. Brian and I liked the first book we read from that series so much that we've been invoking the Repairman Jack name ever since. That said, I wasn't as impressed with this one. I mean the story was ok, but not memorable (which makes me wonder if my tastes have changed or if this just wasn't as good as the first).

My rating: 3/5

Monday, December 18


My washing machine has been on the fritz. I did a little research into the problem and decided we'd be better off buying new rather than repairing. So I went to Krisay's on Friday and ordered a new one. It is scheduled to be delivered this Friday.

On Saturday, I did laundry as usual and kept my fingers crossed that the machine would hold out. It crapped out in the middle of the last load. Brian was going to take it to the laundromat, but then we remembered that we have another house that has a washing machine (our rental, which is currently for sale, and thus not occupied). Problem solved.

I have four loads lined up for Friday already, so this new machine is going to get a workout.

Sunday, December 17


I haven't posted in a while, so I guess it's time for an obligatory post. Not much has been going on, hence the lack of updates. I'm pretty much ready for Christmas--just a few loose ends to tie up to make that complete. We're having Christmas Eve here, so I'm looking forward to that (I love cooking holiday dinners!).

Just some random topics...Jake completed his Eagle Scout project in September, but still hasn't had his board of review. Sigh. When it didn't happen by Thanksgiving, I gave up all hope on 2017. We were going to have a big party once he got it, but I'm thinking we're going to have to scale back since he'll be graduating soon and we'll be having a big party for that, for sure. People can only take so many parties, you know?

Also, Jake's photography website is up. Check it out and hire him!

Thursday, December 7

oh, deer

Brian went hunting on the first day of buck and snagged his first non-vehicular deer. Some people around here were surprised to hear it was his first. But, unlike most people, he hasn't been hunting since he was a teen--he just started a few years ago.

Anyway, he picked up the meat this week and now our freezer is officially full. Between that and the side of beef I split with my mom this fall, there is plenty for carnivores to eat at our house. Not sure what I'm going to do with all of it. But, I think it's going to involve a smoker.

Wednesday, December 6

the big bad city

I didn't even think I was in the mood for an Ed McBain book, but it turns out I'm always in the mood for an Ed McBain book. This one was from his Carella series, which is my favorite. Nothing special going on just some good crime fiction.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, December 4


Today is Buster's 10th birthday! That's a lot of barking. The old guy isn't slowing down, though (ok, so he might sleep a little more than he used to). So, I guess this means we have two really old dogs (Lizzy turns 16 next month).

Friday, November 24

the holiday

I have a nice stretch off over Thanksgiving (Wednesday-Sunday), so I've been getting my store ramped up for the the Christmas shopping season--making some new items, remaking some old ones.

This was my year to host Thanksgiving, so I scheduled Wednesday off, but my mom wanted to swap Christmas Eve (which she usually hosts) for Thanksgiving. So, I got a free day to do whatever because I didn't have to do any cooking (besides the rolls I took to dinner yesterday).

I have been getting a lot done Christmas-wise--my Christmas cards will be ready to mail as of today, I have most of my holiday shopping figured out (and plan to complete it this weekend), and a dog cookie baking frenzy is scheduled for Sunday. Ahh, time off. If I was retired, I still wouldn't have enough time to accomplish everything.

Sunday, November 19

strange weather

This was Joe Hill's latest. It was comprised of four short stories. Three of the four had supernatural undertones. My favorite was the first story, Snapshot. It was suitably creepy. I only wish he was a more prolific writer.

My rating: 4/5

Saturday, November 18

the big sick

This smart and funny rom-com certainly exceeded my expectations. Brian's as well. I wasn't sure what to expect but the movie got really good ratings so I figured it was probably worth a watch. If I had one criticism of the movie it is that the heavy moments of the film seemed to outweigh the light ones. This didn't make it bad, just kind of heavy for a comedy. But everything worked out in the end (it was a rom-com, after all).

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, November 11

it comes at night

I can't pass up an apocalyptic story. This one was ok, but could have been so much better. There were a number of things that were never explained (the title is a perfect example of this--what comes at night? nothing in this movie) and some continuity errors that I could not get past (get the spare tire out of the trunk--of a truck?) Still, I didn't hate it.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, November 6

social time

We had a couple of events to attend over the weekend. Saturday was my niece's birthday party at my brother's house in Portage. And Sunday, we got to meet new baby Avery at a welcome dinner at El Jalisco in Richland. Brian wanted to bring her home. I need to keep him away from babies in the future.

Thursday, November 2

brit floyd

This was our first "tribute band" experience and it was an excellent one. While I wouldn't say that Pink Floyd is one of my favorite bands, I do like them. This band played at the War Memorial last night. I guess they come to Johnstown every year. We will definitely check them out again next time. They did note-for-note renditions of all of the hits plus a couple of songs I wasn't familiar with. They had a pretty good stage show, but some of the video content was kind of cheesy (I would have been content with a simple light show). I liked this show way more than I expected to. And, we were home by 11, so not everything about getting old is bad, I guess. I like how these non-rock stars start shows on time and finish up at a decent hour.

Thursday, October 26


Last Saturday, Jake received a piece of mail from UPJ. There was a sticker on it that said "Scholarship Award information". Since he has not yet applied for any scholarships, I thought it must have been information on getting a scholarship, despite the sticker. The reason this was even up for debate was that Jake wasn't home when the mail came, so it left us wondering.

When he got home, he immediately opened the letter only to find out that he had been awarded the Real World Achievement scholarship at a rate of $2000 per year! Among other things, this scholarship was based on his grades and SAT score. It's a scholarship that the school gives out so he was automatically under consideration for it.

This weekend, we plan on tacking the Federal Student Aid form because I keep hearing we need to do it. I really don't think we'll qualify for anything major, but I guess it is a necessary step. I don't really know anything about this stuff because my Dad taught at UPJ when I went there so my tuition was covered and I did not have to do all of this stuff. I know, lucky me.

Tuesday, October 24

miracle cure

This was a book by author and former M.D., Michael Palmer. As you might have guessed it was a medical thriller. Spoiler alert: Specifically it was about a new drug that was being released which had some bad side effects and didn't actually work to begin with. This story was written a little while ago, so I doubt anyone these days would even bat an eye at the side effects. Overall the story was ok, but I wouldn't necessarily seek out this author again.

My rating: 3/5

Monday, October 23

planting delay

I usually plant garlic around the middle of October, but since it's been so warm, I opted to wait a bit. I probably should have waited even longer, but I hated the idea of having to plant it in inclement weather (since the weather has been so very nice), so I did it yesterday. Hopefully it won't grow too much until the cold weather arrives, assuming it ever does (one weather model I saw said that it was going to be another mild winter). With the exception of a few minor wrap-up tasks, my gardening activities have come to a close for the year.

Sunday, October 22

king arthur: legend of the sword

To be honest, I never would have watched this movie if Charlie Hunnam wasn't the star. Overall, I found it to be pretty entertaining. The special effects were pretty cool, with the exception of the video game-looking fight scene at the end. I still don't get why it was critically panned.

My rating: 3/5

Wednesday, October 18

8 lives

Last week, I had to go to the bank in downtown Johnstown after work. I was behind a bus, which ended up being a good thing. The bus stopped at the railroad tracks, as buses are wont to do, so I had to come to a complete stop as well. After the bus pulled out, I followed and heard a thump as the vehicle bounced over the tracks. I looked out the side view mirror only to see Lizzy standing in the middle of the street. Apparently she opened the window the whole way by putting her front paws on the armrest of the back seat and then fell out when I went over the tracks. She has opened the window in the past, so I always keep them locked, but they were (obviously) unlocked in this instance. A good Samaritan stopped and got her off the road before I had a chance to get to her. Luckily she was unharmed with the exception of a few small scratches. Dog mom fail.

Thursday, October 12


I received an AARP membership form in the mail last week. I can tell you that I'm not quite that old yet, but it didn't make me feel any better about my age. I guess it will be nice to get the discounts even if most of them don't start until age 55, but that's going to have to wait a few more years.

Saturday, October 7

gang of two

About a month ago, it felt like the motorcycle riding season was over, so I mentally put my bike away for the year. Jake got his motorcycle permit over the summer, so I turned the bike over to him (sans sidecar) and he and Brian have been going out ever since (who knew the weather was going to be this nice for this long?). He wasn't able to get into the PA motorcycle safety program this year because the classes were all full by the time he got his permit, but he will be taking it next spring. He's doing a really good job with riding, but I have to admit, I don't like the idea of him out on the road.

Strangely, allowing him to ride our bikes did not raise our motorcycle insurance premium. Of course, if he gets his own bike some day, I'm sure that charge will be ridiculous, but at least there's no additional cost right now.

Sunday, October 1


Brian and I went to the gun raffle at the Jaffa Mosque in Altoona today. We've been going to this for a number of years now (but still haven't won anything). We didn't stick around too long--Brian had to help out with a scout's eagle project this afternoon. It was just as well as I had some things I wanted to do before it got dark. When we got home, I made some bread and cleaned out the vehicle interiors for what will likely be the last time until spring. Also had to top up the pond for the third time in the past two weeks since we haven't had any rain in a month.


Holy crap--it's still nice out and the nice weather is supposed to continue for at least another week. This is unprecedented. Due to this, I'm ahead of the game in regard to fall clean-up activities. Despite the fact that it gets dark so early, I've been able to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day.

Monday, September 25


Jake applied to two colleges, IUP and UPJ, and was accepted to both! He's decided to go to UPJ and will be commuting in order to save some money. We've been saving for college since he was born and are hoping that we'll be able to cover all of the tuition costs, but he would have had to get a student loan for the room and board end of things (and wisely decided that his money could be better spent elsewhere). Anyway, he'll be majoring in business management. It'll be good to have someone around the office that actually knows something about business. Haha.

In other news, he only needed a few classes in order to graduate from high school, so he's doing a work study with us for the school year. He's really good at photography and videography, so we've been able to put him on a number of client projects. And this was great timing as we had an employee quit at the beginning of the month (and guess what this employee did? photography and videography).

Tuesday, September 19

indian summer

We might be in the midst of an Indian Summer but the cold spell from a few weeks ago just about killed off everything in the garden. Oddly enough, except for the zucchini--I actually picked three more yesterday, though it's about done now. I never had a zucchini plant live this long. So, I've been cleaning up the garden as I have time. Before you know it, it will be time to plant garlic.

But the weather sure has been beautiful. And it looks like it's going to continue for a little while longer. And then it will be winter.

Monday, September 18

eric tessmer band

Eric Tessmer was in town for a free show at Peoples Natural Gas Park. We always like to catch him when he's in town, so we made a point of going there Saturday night. It was a good show. There were a decent amount of people there, but you would think a free show like this would have a better turnout. That's Johnstown for you.

Saturday, September 16

mistaken identity

This was another one from Lisa Scottoline. If you've read one, you've read them all. It was an ok book, but nothing special. Something about one twin representing another twin (that was previously unknown) in court.

My rating: 3/5

Thursday, September 14

qotsa again

Ten years ago this month, we took Jake to see his first concert, Queens of the Stone Age. When we heard they were coming to Pittsburgh again in support of their new album (this time to Stage AE), the three of us decided to go. Not surprisingly, it was a great show. Royal Blood was the opener, and they were good, too. We saw them open for the Foo Fighters a couple of years ago. Anyway, we were home by midnight, which is surprising for a Pittsburgh show, but things wrapped up really early. I wasn't a huge fan of the venue as it was an outdoors show and everyone was packed in like sardines--at least the rain mostly held off.

In anticipation of being tired today, I took the day off. So far, my major accomplishment has been canning another batch of tomato soup (the third one this season!). Not that it's any small feat--it took about 4 hours to do. Up next: a nap.

Wednesday, September 13

almost an eagle

Jake wrapped up his Eagle project last night. What a relief! It kind of dragged on longer than it should have, but now everything is done except for the paperwork and board of review, both of which should happen within a month. After that, we'll have his Court of Honor ceremony/party and that will be that.

Friday, September 8


Last year, it was mice, this year, it was a groundhog. One set up residence in the pond area and had to be dispatched. It's just as well, because he thought my garden was his personal farmers market. Brian set up a trap and relocated the bugger once he was caught. It didn't take very long to capture him--it turns out that groundhogs can't resist cantaloupe.

Thursday, August 31

canning and freezing

I've continued to can and freeze as much as possible. One thing that's not vegetable-related is that I canned up some BBQ Pulled Pork. I have not tried it yet, so I hope it turned out well. I also did another three trays of zucchini stuffed shells, so we should be good on those for the winter. The garden season is winding down, but I still haven't canned any tomato-related recipes. I have two in the queue for the weekend, but I just don't have that many tomatoes and the weather is turning cold already. I'm hoping that I can do at least another recipe or two down the road.

Wednesday, August 23


Our driveway has needed redone ever since we bought our house 21 years ago. This should have been straightforward, but we share a driveway with our neighbor, so we've been trying to work something out with him for probably the last decade. But, it never came to fruition, so we had to draw a line in the sand and put a deadline on it (due to the fact that our move is in the not-too-distant future and there's no way anyone is going to buy the house with the driveway like that). The deadline still didn't work so we just got our part of the driveway done. It really wasn't that big of a deal--they just cut out our portion and replaced it. However, the neighbor's side looks even worse now that our side is good--like one of those double houses where one side is kept up with and the other side is falling into disrepair. The good news is that now we have a decent surface to park on.

We only got the top part of the driveway done, mostly because of the cost. We had $x allotted for the sewer work and driveway and that's all it would cover. The lower part of the driveway wasn't in anywhere near as bad of condition, so we did some filling and patching and it's getting topcoated tonight. Once it's all a uniform color, I'm sure it will look even better.

Wednesday, August 16

ann wilson of heart

I've been a fan of Heart for just about ever and have been kicking myself ever since I missed them on tour in Pittsburgh a number of years ago. The band broke up recently, so when I saw that Ann Wilson (the singer from Heart) was playing at The Palace Theatre, I decided to take the opportunity. The show was pretty good--she can still belt one out. The only disappointing thing was that she didn't do a ton of Heart songs (only 1/4 of the set was comprised of those--and she also did two originals--but the rest was covers of classic rock songs). Still, it was a lot of fun and I'm glad I got to see her.

On a side note, The Palace Theatre is quickly becoming my favorite entertainment venue. It's only an hour away and there are no traffic or parking issues to deal with. Plus, it's small, so you can actually see what's going on. Heck, we were home by 11 last night--not bad for a concert on a school night.

Sunday, August 13


I've prepped so much stuff in the past few days that I'm now an honorary Mormon. It all started a few days ago with a half a bushel of peaches. I canned 7 quarts (my canner's capacity) and froze the rest. I also canned a batch of spicy dill pickles (my 2nd one this season) and froze 2 loaves of zucchini bread and 2 trays of stuffed shells (that also have zucchini in them--I have a lot of zucchini this year). I made a 3rd tray of shells for tomorrow's supper. Speaking of zucchini, I made minestrone soup early last week and froze the leftovers and am doing the same today for supper. Yet, I still have a refrigerator full of vegetables, so I guess I'll be doing some more prepping this coming week!

Saturday, August 5


Some people I used to work with at Sunquest thought it would be fun to get together with everyone who used to work at the office, so they put together a little party at B & L Wine Cellars this evening. I'm not one for socializing, but I definitely have a level of affection for these people, so I went and was glad I did.

I got to see quite a few people I haven't seen in ages. And some others that I haven't seen in a couple of years, anyway. It was nice catching up with everyone. There was a really good turnout. Over 2 dozen people made it (and it really wasn't that big of an office).

They're already planning another one for next year and I'm already looking forward to it.

Wednesday, August 2

garden update

Not a bad year so far. I had a good crop of garlic and the tomato plants are still alive, so that's a start. There's been a ridiculous amount of cukes, too. And I have never seen a zucchini plant as big as the one that is currently growing in my garden. No carrots this year, though. Something kept eating them (seeds and tops). I'm questioning our future move to the country--I don't know if I'm up for fending off all of the animals.

Sunday, July 30


This movie was about some astronauts who find a single cell organism in a soil sample from Mars. This cell then replicates into an alien and wreaks havoc. While the movie did have a number of scientifically questionable scenes (Perhaps it was written by a Republican? They tend to ignore science.), I do not have any problem suspending my disbelief in the name of entertainment. And it had one of the coolest alien-killing-a-person scenes since Alien.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, July 23


This was the first M. Knight Shamalamadingdong (sp?) movie I'd seen in quite some time. The previews looked compelling--the main character had multiple personality disorder and that actor knocked it out of the park. So, that part of things was cool, but I was really expecting some kind of major twist at the end, which didn't happen. For that reason...

My rating: 3/5

Friday, July 14

the girl before

I read this while on vacation. This book reminded me a lot of "The Girl on the Train" mostly because it was set in Great Britain, but more so because each chapter was from the perspective of one of the two main characters (both women).

The story is about these two women who live in this minimalist-style house that has a ridiculous amount of rules in keeping with the minimalist theme (like, no clutter, etc.). The women lived there at different points in time and their stories unfold throughout the novel. There's a murder (of course) with a twist (of course), but I thought it was pretty well done.

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, July 13

pa grand canyon

We went back to the woods for this year's vacation, though we decided to branch out from Forest County and try a different part of the state. Jake took a friend again this year. And, it's important to note that this was Lizzy's first vacation and she enjoyed the hell out of it. In fact, she gave it two paws up.

We did all of the usual stuff--walks through the woods, campfires, reading, knitting--you know the drill.

We arrived close to 5pm on Saturday. We didn't do anything to speak of that day, just got settled in. Jake and his friend made a trip to the nearest Walmart for some last minute supplies.

Sunday's point of interest was the overlook for the PA Grand Canyon, as seen from Colton Point State Park.

Monday took us to "The Muck", which is a wetlands area in Wellsboro. It is a prime bird watching area. It was quite cool. On our way back to the truck we saw a huge black bear walking across the road.

Tuesday was pretty laid back. The main activity was fishing in the evening.

On Wednesday afternoon, we went to the nearby Lumber Museum, which was more interesting than it sounds, and went fishing again in the evening.

That was about it. It was pretty relaxing and ended too soon, but at least I have a four day weekend before I have to return to work.

Saturday, July 8


This was a lengthy tome, but since the remake is coming out this year and the trailer looks half decent, I just had to read It again. I guess the new movie only focuses on the kid end of things, but given the length of the story I don't see how they would have been able to squeeze the whole plot in anyway. The original version was done as a tv miniseries, so they had plenty of time for everything in that rendition.

It's funny because people are calling it a Stranger Things rip-off, but isn't Stranger Things actually a rip-off of It?

My rating: 4/5

Thursday, July 6


Brian and I celebrated our 21st anniversary on June 28. We had a picnic in the woods he likes to frequent (for hiking and hunting). It's off Route 271--not sure if it has a name. Anyway, he bought a bottle of bubbly and a bunch of delicious food from Conzatti's and we hung out in the woods for a bit. Instead of exchanging gifts this year, we're going to buy a piece of artwork for the house, so that is still pending. We're moving stuff around there, too (though not to the extent of the office artwork update). In particular, our bedroom could use some art, but we'll have to see what we like and where it might work best.

Wednesday, July 5

4th weekend

Well, we had to work on Monday, but I kind of lump the holiday in with the weekend. It was a pretty productive couple of days. Brian got the downstairs bathroom sink installed. It gave him quite a bit of trouble, so he was not able to get to the trim. He also put in the rest of the outdoor lighting and adjusted the location of a couple of the security cameras.

We also made some additional headway on the driveway. I don't think I've mentioned this project recently, but our driveway has needed replaced since we moved in almost 21 years ago. We share a driveway with the neighbor, so this has added a layer of complication to getting the project done. We've been trying to get him to agree on replacing it for about 10 years now. And, since we're hoping to move next year, the urgency for completing this project has increased. So, we gave him a deadline of this summer and he's not going to do it. But, we'll be getting our half done--they'll just have to cut through the asphalt on the property line. It's not a big deal, but it's going to look weird (like one of those double houses where the one side looks all nice and the other side is dilapidated). That said, due to our budget, we're only getting the top half done. The bottom half is in repairable shape, so we've been working on that and made some good progress in the past few days.

Also, we spent yesterday afternoon updating all of the artwork at the office. Brian's been framing up new stuff since last fall, but wanted to hang everything at once. It looks great! And we won't have to worry about that again for a while as this is the first time he's changed things up since we opened in 2008.

As far as fun activities go, there weren't many of those, but I sure do like making good progress on things that need to be done. I did go to Judy's baby shower on Sunday and that was a nice break from the action.

I'm sure we probably did some other stuff, but I can't think of it.

Friday, June 30

back in order

A couple of weeks ago, we intended on getting our basement powder room back in working order. It had been out of order since the sewer project. We got the floor all fixed up and Brian put down new laminate flooring, only to find out that the plumber put the toilet drain too close to the wall, so the toilet could not be installed. 

Fast forward to today...the plumber made another appearance and installed an offset flange to fix the issue. Brian relaid the flooring (which wasn't that big of a deal, but it was still annoying), and the plumber installed the toilet. So, at least that is done. Brian still has to reinstall the sink and make and install new floor trim. But, hopefully most of that will happen this weekend.

In another turn of events, Jake was driving to his guitar lesson yesterday and saw someone with his stolen bike. So, he got out of the car and got his bike back. Some people have all the nerve.

Monday, June 26

thunder 2017

We kicked off Thunder as we usually do--by attending Richland Bike Bash on Wednesday night. We typically run into someone we know there and this year was no different.

On Thursday, we took the afternoon off and went for a motorcycle ride in search of the elusive Beaverdale Reservoir, which we did not manage to locate. It was still a nice ride. That night, we went downtown, but not much was going on. They used to have a kickoff event that would draw some crowds. Not sure why they don't do that anymore.

Friday was a total washout. Three inches of rain does not equate to good motorcycle weather. But, it wouldn't be Thunder without a little (or a lot) of rain.

Saturday, we went for another ride. This time, to Dilltown and back. And, we went back downtown that night to check out Jasmine Cain and to hang out for a bit.

Sunday we took Lizzy for a ride through downtown and Ligonier. She spreads joy everywhere she goes when she's in the sidecar, so we couldn't deny people that.

All in all, a pretty good Thunder.

Sunday, June 18


This was a pretty interesting film about a linguistics professor who has to figure out how to communicate with some aliens that landed on earth. There was also this crazy non-linear time thing going on (but I couldn't completely figure that out until I Googled the movie after watching--I hate when I'm not smarter than my entertainment).

My rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, June 15

insult to injury

Last weekend, we discovered that Jake's BMX bike had been stolen from our side porch. Then Sunday night his car got egged. Then it happened again Tuesday night. At this point, Brian went to the police station to file a report (about the car, not the bike). And, he installed security cameras last night. Further, we're going to buy and install security lights this weekend.

We have one potential suspect, but nothing concrete to back it up besides the threat of eggs to the car that they made. There's a little damage, so it would be nice to catch the person in the act so we can get some restitution and have the problem fixed. But I also wouldn't mind if this didn't happen again.

Monday, June 12

dog vs. porcupine

Guess who won? Ultimately, the veterinarian's office, but it's safe to say the porcupine beat out the dog in that contest.

Brian took Buster on a hike yesterday. Buster found a new friend in the woods and got a face full of porcupine quills for his trouble. Brian was able to remove the worst of them while they were still in the woods (probably a dozen or so). I got out a couple more when they returned home, but Buster had enough of that nonsense and we were not able to remove any more. They were pretty small so it must've been a baby porcupine. I called the on-call vet last night, but he felt it could wait until morning as Buster wasn't showing any discomfort.

So, I took him to the vet's today. He had to be lightly sedated so that they could remove the rest--around 20. There were a few that had become fully lodged under the skin (and which weren't removed), so those ones might make an appearance in the future.

The expectation is high that this will happen again.

Saturday, June 10

office christmas party

I really hoped this movie was going to be funny. But, alas, it was not. While there were a few amusing scenes, I don't think I laughed out loud once.

My rating: 2/5 (one for Jennifer Aniston and one for Jason Bateman, 2 of my favorites, who could not save this movie even a little bit)

Tuesday, June 6

progress edition

We've been making some good progress around the house. I finally was able to power wash the patio last week (it was all filthy from the sewer project). I also power washed all of the furniture and painted the adirondak chair. The metal table and chairs are currently in progress, and will be done this week if I can catch a dry evening.

We had to get rid of our old compost bin last year. When the neighbor took the hedges out, it needed to be moved, but was in no shape for that, so it's gone (though Brian did repurpose the wood into bird houses). I tried putting the compost into a pile on the ground, but that looked horrible, so I bought a 3-bin wire composter, which was installed last weekend. It looks so much better.

Up next, we'll be fixing the basement floors that were messed up during the sewer project. I'm currently doing the plastic sheeting method of testing for moisture. So far, so good. If we get a favorable result from that, we're going to put down laminate flooring in the bathroom (once we fill in all of the missing tiles with leveling compound). The flooring in the music room needs painted, too. We're not going to do the whole floor, though--just the parts that they replaced. Brian's shop doesn't need any work as it's just a concrete floor in there, so we'll almost be back to normal soon.

Brian also put some trim in the laundry room. There's more trim to do in there and the bathroom. And, the good news is, that the wood for that purpose has been purchased.

Now, if it would only stop raining, so I could weed everything in the yard once again.

Monday, June 5

birthday weekend

As is tradition, we went to the Polkafest on Friday evening for supper. We caught some music from Alex Meixner and the Polka Family Band. Fun, as always.

We did not have any plans for Saturday, but that changed when I received a text from Carol that morning suggesting that all of us go out to celebrate my birthday. I've had a hankering for Franklin Street Bar & Grill lately, so that's where we went. I guess we'll call that a bonus celebration.

The three of us ended up doing our family celebration on Sunday, rather than today, because Brian had a late meeting scheduled (which he is still at). Brian did some steaks on the grill and I got presents!

Today was pretty low key. I had the day off, so I took the opportunity and figured out a problem with the sweater I've been knitting. It took a while to figure out, but things are back on track with that, so I'm pretty happy.

Monday, May 29

rainy may

I was ahead with the outside stuff last month, but I have since fallen behind. I've been trying to get out between the raindrops (not to mention the chilly weather), but the opportunities haven't been frequent. The weather seems to be more seasonal as of late, so I guess I'll get caught up eventually.

As for my garden, at least it is in. Strangely enough, the one variety of garlic I planted is already ready to be harvested (this is usually more of an end of June/beginning of July thing). I planted a couple of other varieties, but they are not ready yet, so maybe it's just a thing with that particular variety. We've also been eating strawberries for about a week, and those are a couple of weeks early, too.

Despite some bad weather, Memorial Day weekend was pretty good. I took Friday off work in order to work in the garden. It rained a lot, but I still got a number of things planted and finished the rest over the course of the weekend. Saturday saw a trip to the nursery and the purchase of flowers and some plants for the garden.

On Sunday, we went to my brother's for a picnic, then it rained like crazy the rest of the day. I got some things done in the house and made some good progress on a knitting gift I started last week. Today was pretty relaxed. I did some things around the house in the morning; Brian and I went for a motorcycle ride in the afternoon, and this evening was spent in the yard and garden.

Monday, May 22

not quite done

We painted our bedroom walls yesterday. This almost concludes the painting tasks for that room. Only the baseboard trim remains, but that will have to wait until we get new carpeting (hopefully by the end of the summer) as it will be easier to do at that point in time.

There's still more painting to do inside, but just the family room and main bathroom are left at this point. Everything else is in pretty good shape, but I wouldn't completely rule out having to do some additional painting.

Since summer is about here, we'll likely take a break from working on the inside of the house and get some things done outside instead.

Sunday, May 21

manchester by the sea

This movie was about a guy (portrayed as a loner) who is surprised to find out that he was made guardian of his brother's son upon his brother's death. But, it's more than that, of course. It's also about the guy and how he got to be the way he is (hint: it's not a happy story).

My rating: 4/5

Monday, May 15

jam packed

It was a pretty busy couple of days. On Friday, we went out to eat at Rey Azteca to celebrate Jake's birthday, which was on Saturday. Saturday, Jake had his prom. Saturday (and part of Sunday) was spent cooking, as we had our usual Mother's Day/Jake's birthday get together with the family. This evening, Jake is being inducted into the National Honor Society. Phew!

I guess things will get back to normal tomorrow. Also, the weather is finally supposed to break so I'll be able to get caught up on all of those things I've been ignoring outside this month.

Sunday, May 7


We had the sewer lines replaced at our house last week, The good news is that the job is done. The bad news is that we have to pay for it and do a bunch of additional work (like repaint the floor in the music room, replace the floor in the bathroom, reseed the back yard, and clean up the mess).

We started clean-up yesterday and got pretty far with it--the shop and music room are almost back in order. We can't fix any of the floors until the concrete cures for at least a month, so that is unfortunate. And it has been raining non-stop since they finished so we haven't been able to tackle the yard yet, but this week's weather looks better, so it'll get done soon enough.

There was one thing that made us feel less bad about paying for this job--the main sewer line for the house was actually broken in half. The guys working on the project said they never saw one that looked that bad and still worked. So, I guess we dodged a bullet there.

This project has also inspired us to finish up some things in the basement (mostly trim) that have been put off for too long, so I guess that's another positive.

Saturday, May 6

nocturnal animals

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal starred in this thriller. In it, Adams received a manuscript for a novel from her ex-husband. So part of the movie was about the story in the novel, which was quite good. And the other part was about the main character's relationship with her husband and ex. Good stuff.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, April 30

first ride

Brian and I just took our first motorcycle ride of the season. He's been out on his bike a few times, but this is the first chance we had to go out together. We took a ride to the Conemaugh Gap Scenic Overlook as I needed a photo for Do Johnstown. Since we redid the site last year, it uses larger photos. We're down to the last few that need to be replaced, and we'll probably get those via motorcycle trips. Anyway, we did the Haw's Pike/Cramer Pike loop. It was a nice day for a ride.

In other non-motorcycle news, I painted two of the walls in my "studio" yesterday. Why two? Well, this used to be Jake's room and he wanted two of the walls to be dark gray and the other two to be turquoise. I wasn't a fan of the turquoise, so I painted those walls off-white. It looks really nice with the dark gray and really brightened up the room. For someone who doesn't like to paint, I've sure been painting enough recently.

Monday, April 24

house & garden

I feel like we've been making good progress on both fronts. We're trying to tackle some of the easy tasks around the house (like painting) just to get those items knocked off the list. And, I'm trying to do this kind of stuff when it's not nice outside, so that I don't have to feel like I'm losing out on my gardening time. Yesterday, we painted the ceiling in our bedroom and the previous weekend, we painted some trim and a door.

I've been making great progress outside, too. We've had enough nice days this month and I've been going outside as much as possible in the evenings. I feel like I'm ahead of the game right now (talk to me in July and see if that's still the case). The yard work is under control and the garden is on schedule. We even bought new patio furniture today and Brian got that assembled. So, it's looking good in the back yard (except for the lack of hedges).

Sunday, April 23


This was a novel written by Patricia Cornwell, and was from her Scarpetta series, hence the title, I guess. While I read it quickly enough, I really wasn't that into it. The main story centered around the murder of a dwarf, which seemed kind of superfluous to me. Like, why a dwarf? It could have been anyone, really. Anyway, it had this twist at the end that you couldn't see coming--I hate those kind. Give me some clues, will you?

My rating: 2.5/5

Wednesday, April 19


Jake had his final appointment with the orthopedic surgeon yesterday evening. Everything looks good with his knee. He still has some restrictions, but those will be gradually lifted over time, so that is good news.

In other doctor news, Jake has been sick since late last week. We thought it was just a cold, but it turned out that he had strep throat. We went to iCare on Monday morning (after he was sent home from school) and got some antibiotics. Laurel Peds couldn't fit him in until later in the afternoon and I didn't want to wait that long for something as straightforward as this. Well, he had a number of adverse reactions to the antibiotic (which is odd because I'm quite sure he's taken it before), so we had to get something different prescribed. This time we went through Laurel Peds, so we made a trip there yesterday afternoon. That said, he was feeling a lot better by last night and went to school today, so things are looking up there, too.

Friday, April 14

the nice guys

I wasn't so sure about this one, but I ended up really liking it. I got a little distracted at the end because the movie was a little long for what it was. Basically, it was about a private eye and his sidekick who are investigating the death of a porn star. While this might sound serious, it actually had quite the number of laughs (more than some recent comedies I've seen).

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, April 9

the girl on the train (movie)

Brian and I watched this last night. It was much less confusing to watch than read. And, it followed the book pretty closesly, too. Bonus: despite the fact that the main character was British, the story took place in America. I might have enjoyed it more if I had not read the book first, since I knew what was coming, but I much prefer to read first, then watch.

My rating: 3/5

Saturday, April 8

lisa lampanelli

Last night, Brian and I went to see stand-up comedienne Lisa Lampanelli at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg. I wasn't familiar with her stand-up but Brian's been talking about her for years, so we decided to go. She is known as an "insult comic" and there was a lot of interaction with the audience (basically her making fun of people in the front rows). We also got to see her berate a heckler, so that was kind of interesting. There were some funny moments for sure, but I guess I'm just not that big on this style of comedy. Brian had similar feelings on the subject as he hadn't seen her perform in a while and his tastes have changed. Still, it was a good way to spend a Friday evening. We hope to check out some more comics in the near future. At this point in my life, I'd rather do that than go to a concert.

Tuesday, April 4

crunch time

It's hard to believe, but Jake is going to be a senior next year. That means, we can move any time after he graduates. Whether we'll be ready to move is another question. There are a lot of things we'd like to accomplish with the house before then, just to make it more appealing. I suppose we could always sell without doing all of the improvements, but some of them are non-negotiable.

Last weekend, we took a tiny step and painted our bedroom window trim and installed new blinds. You would not believe how much better the painted trim looks versus the stained trim.

One of the things that is going to set us back in our goals is that we have to have our sewer line replaced (it's tentatively happening at the end of this month) and it's going to be EXPENSIVE. Also, we've been trying to get our neighbor (who we share a driveway with) to get a new driveway for about 10 years. But, whether he's with us or not, that's going to happen for us this year (that is definitely one of the non-negotiable improvements that we need to do). Between the two of these things, I don't see how we're going to have money for anything else.

Saturday, April 1


This movie was about the "Miracle on the Hudson" airplane incident. Tom Hanks did a great job playing the title's character (though one thing is for sure, you don't ever want to get into an airplane with Tom Hanks).

My rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, March 30

the garden

With the exception of a day or two, the weather hasn't been so nice that I find myself wanting to go outside and garden in the evening. But, I received my onion plants this week, so that forced my hand. Tuesday evening had me weeding and adding soil amendments (greensand and lime). Then on Wednesday, I planted onions, peas, and Swiss chard.

My garlic is looking fantastic. The stuff that was covered for winter fared really well; the ones that I cut back in the fall look good, but not as good as the stuff that was covered. We'll see how everything ends up at harvest time.

Saturday, March 25

the cat

Sylvia made her umpteenth trip to the vet yesterday for yet another ear infection. Despite being previously cleared for polyps, that subject came up again (evidently there could potentially be one in there that is not visible with the scope, though how likely this is, I don't know). So, she's on another course of ear meds and has to be rechecked again in about 2 weeks.

The next step would be to see a specialist in Pittsburgh for a scan and surgery (if polyps are found). I won't even mention how much that would cost. I'm wondering, though, if it might not be better to get a 2nd opinion from another local vet before going down that road. One thing is for sure, it would be cheaper.

Wednesday, March 15

hacksaw ridge

Mel Gibson directed this movie which told the story of a conscientious objector who joined the army to be a medic in WWII. The first half of the movie concentrated on the main character's early life, while the second half was all out war. It was based on a true story and was quite compelling to watch.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 14

a winter haunting

This was the followup to Summer of Night. It was a less complex story, yet was written in a more engaging style. It told a story about one of the characters from the first book who returned "home" to write a novel. This story took place 40 years after the first one. It had some of the same elements, which I was hoping would be better explained after all those years, but little additional detail was given.

Still, it was a quick enough read, even though not totally satisfying.

My rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, March 8

almost spring

I saw a robin yesterday, so you know what that means--it's almost spring! As if further proof is needed, I ordered all of my gardening supplies over the weekend, so I'm ready to plant.

Of course, you can hardly complain about this winter--the ground barely froze. Weird weather we've been having the past few winters.

Sunday, February 26

summer of night

I just finished this book, which was written by Dan Simmons. It was rather reminiscent of Stephen King's It, but not quite as good. This guy is obviously a good writer, but no one will ever replace Stephen King (except maybe Joe Hill).

My rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, February 25

hell or high water

This movie was about two brothers who pull off a number of bank heists in order to get money to save their family's ranch and the Texas Ranger (who is nearing retirement) who is on the case. It was a bit reminiscent of No Country for Old Men, but nowhere near as good. The overall plot was good, but despite clocking in at around 1:40, the movie felt slow at times. Also, it seems like the closer to 100% a movie is on the Tomatometer, the less I like it. Weird.

My rating: 3.5/5

Friday, February 17

back to work

Jake had yet another follow-up appointment for his knee today and was finally released to go back to work. He'll only be able to work Saturdays for now, since that's the only day that aligns with his schedule. He's been working at our office a few hours each week, but I'm sure he'll like the extra money.

He's going to be getting a less restrictive knee brace, too. He doesn't have to wear his current one all the time, but I guess this will improve things even further. And, he doesn't have to go back again for two months.

Monday, February 13

bad moms

This movie was about a trio of stressed moms who can't handle being "perfect" moms any longer and they snap and do some un-mom-like things. There were some funny moments for sure, but there were some other moments that were supposed to be funny (like the grocery store scene) that just didn't work.

My rating: 3/5 (probably should be a 2.5, but one scene had me laughing till I cried and that probably deserves a half a point)

Monday, February 6

the invitation

This was a nifty little thriller. Admittedly, the first part of the movie was a little boring, but the last 20 minutes sure paid off--I did not see that coming. I don't want to give away the plot, but I guess you could say it was a dinner party gone awry.

My rating: 3.5/5

Monday, January 30

kitchen time

While I like to cook, it's nice to catch a break every once in a while. This past weekend was one of those times.

Saturday night, we met up with Carol and Bob at Pour on Center in Ebensburg. The food and drinks were excellent. I was impressed. We'll definitely be going there again.

Yesterday, we celebrated the January (my sister in-law) and February (Brian) birthdays with dinner at my parents' house. We had dinner and I also took home leftovers, so that solved my supper problem for last night, too.

But, I'm on cooking duty again today, so the streak has ended. At least Brian is on the schedule for this week (on Friday).

Saturday, January 28

stitch fix

I saw an ad on Facebook for a service called Stitch Fix. Stich Fix works as follows: a personal stylist chooses items for you based off of your personal style profile. These items are mailed on an interval of your choosing and you keep whatever you want and send back the rest. Link is in the sidebar (full disclosure: it's an affiliate link).

I got my first "Fix" today and was pleasantly surprised with the items. They are definitely outside what I normally wear, but I did like and am keeping everything (I guess it just goes to show that advertising works.) I'm not terribly stylish, so I hopes this helps me to up my style quotient for 2017.

Wednesday, January 25

knee update

And now it's time for the monthly knee update. Jake saw his surgeon yesterday. He is making good progress, but will need to continue with PT for another 6 weeks, He'll just be going once a week instead of twice, though. He can also lose the knee brace except when he's at school or with his friends because "things can happen". Unfortunately, he isn't able to return to Garden Haven yet, but they will revisit that topic at next month's appointment, where he'll also be fitted for a different kind of knee brace. On the plus side, he has gym (which he hates) this semester and cannot participate in that. But, his gym teacher said that he can do his PT exercises during class, so that is going to work out well.

Monday, January 23

the girl on the train

I'm starting off the year with some good reads! This was an interesting thriller. Each chapter was told from the perspective of one of the three female characters (which was a little confusing at first, but it was a pretty good way to weave the tale). While I did figure out "whodunit" before I got to the end, I thought it was nicely written.

What I didn't like was the Britishness of it all. Generally speaking, I do not enjoy British forms of entertainment. Not sure why, but it is what it is.

My rating: 4/5

Sunday, January 22

passing the torch

My grandmother has always made the cakes for our family celebrations, birthday and otherwise. Due to age and health issues she is no longer able to do this task, so the torch has been passed to me. Jake and I went to her apartment this afternoon to collect her recipes and pans, so I'm all set for the next family event. At least I don't have to decorate them--my mom has always handled that end of things.

Saturday, January 21

one step closer

Jake is taking his SAT test this morning. College is right around the corner. I'm not sure I'm ready for this. One thing is for sure--it will be a learning experience. I know absolutely nothing about grants, scholarships, student loans, etc. as my dad worked at UPJ when I went to school, so my tuition was covered. Lucky me, not so lucky Jake.

Sunday, January 15


I'm back in movie-watching mode. I took a little break because I ran out of things to watch, but, as luck would have it, they're always making new movies, so I'm back at it.

I was on the fence about this one. It told the story of the woman who invented the self-wringing mop. It was about as exciting as that sounds. I wouldn't have even watched it, but my favorite actress, Jennifer Lawrence, was in it, so despite tepid reviews, I gave it a shot. It was a long 2 hours.

My rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, January 12

end of watch

This was the final book in Stephen King's Bill Hodges trilogy. I tore through it at a pretty quick pace, so we'll call it a winner. Unlike the first two books in the series, this one had a supernatural element. It was a pretty interesting concept.

I've been waiting a while to read this. I've been in the Stephen King Library for 20+ years now and I think this is the first book they didn't send me. Perhaps I am no longer a member? So, I added it to my Amazon Wishlist and Brian was nice enough to buy it for me for Christmas.

My rating: 4/5

Tuesday, January 10

double trouble

When we got Sylvia, she had an ear infection. After two courses of the prescribed ear drops, she was still having ear troubles, so I took her to the vet this morning to have it checked out again. This time, she was prescribed a stronger ear medication and was put on antibiotics. We have to go back in 10 days as the vet could not see her eardrum due to the infection and she wants to see if there's anything that is causing this to happen (like a polyp). Lesson learned: whenever adopting pets from the shelter, look into their ears before you take them home.

After supper, Jake, Brian and I were standing around and heard a crash and a bunch of thuds. Evidently Buster went upstairs and then fell down the steps as he came back down. At first glance, he looked ok, but then we noticed drops of blood all over the floor. It turned out that he tore one of his dew claws. I tried calling the vet, but they didn't answer (nor did their answering service pick up). Since they were still open, Brian just ran him over there. They taped up his foot and put him on antibiotics and painkillers.

I do believe this was the first time we had to make two trips to the vet in a single day. Let's hope it's the last.

Sunday, January 8

captain fantastic

The always fantastic Viggo Mortensen starred in this dramedy (that turned out to be more drama than comedy). In the movie, Viggo's character's wife dies and leaves him with six kids. The family happened to be living off-grid at the time. The wife's family doesn't like how the kids were raised, so this causes the major conflict of the story.

In a rare moment, all three of us watched (and liked, but not loved) the movie.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, January 1

4th of july

No, I do not have my holidays mixed up. Rather, this was a James Patterson book. Much like all Patterson books, it was an easy read. I specifically chose it because I figured that I would be getting some books for Christmas (and I wasn't wrong about that) so I wanted to make sure I could quickly finish whatever book I started so I could get on to my new books.

Patterson always has a twist, but he took this one to a whole new level. This time, everyone was the killer. Well, the ones you wouldn't suspect. Because I've read enough of these, I did guess the one killer, but I was not expecting there to be multiple. So, I guess you could call that a surprise. A ridiculous surprise.

Now, on to my new Stephen King novel.

My rating: 3/5