Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Food (and Thursday, and Saturday, and Sunday...)

Christopher and I seem to go weeks without going out to eat. Sure. We'll pick up burgers on the way home from a shopping expedition. Or we'll get a pizza ordered in.

But looking at our calendar for the month of July we had one planned brunch out on it, as well as one dinner out when my sister and brother-in-law were in town. That's it.

We both really like to eat out - we both like food in general - but we just haven't been taking the time to eat out. Luckily, the way a hard rain can break a drought, we're making up for lost time at the moment - and we're doing it internationally.

Last night, after doing some errands after work, we decided going out to eat on the way home would be easier than making dinner. So we ate at one of our favorite Indian places.

Tonight, we had dinner with a friend at a French place in St. Paul. Tomorrow afternoon we're going out with friends to a Mexican restaurant, and then on Sunday we're capping the weekend with Thai food.

It's all great food, but... wow... by the time I'm home on Monday night hanging out with the pup, I'm really going to just want a peanut butter sandwich on white bread and a glass of milk.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

If Wednesday Were A Fruit...

Christopher's sisters were having an online discussion earlier this week about what fruit would symbolize each day of the week. Apparently someone had arrived at work and declared Monday to be the apple of the week, because, you know, a Red Delicious apple is just kind of Monday-ish. 

My contribution was for Wednesday, which I suggested would be a tomato. 

After all, a tomato is pretty strange as a fruit, but there's an awful lot you can do with it - as log as you're a little creative and not too literal. 

Makes sense to me. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stumbling Upon Movie Monday

My book club meeting just ended and - since it was here at home - I cleaned up and then turned on the TV. Tons of channels. Nothing on. As usual.

But then I saw "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was on. Sure, it started about 19 minutes earlier. Yes, I have seen it a bunch of times and have favorite lines. Yep, we own a copy of it and can watch it whenever we want - without missing the first 19 minutes. No, I'm not sure I'll watch it all the way through.

And that all makes me ridiculously happy.

One of the best kinds of serendipity, to me, is stumbling across a movie I love on TV. There is something so fun in the surprise and unexpected joy that comes with turning on the TV and being greeted by characters you love and a story you already know. It's like finding a warm, fuzzy blanket on a cold night. Or an ice cream cone in one of those cake cones that you always used to get at your grandmother's house.

It's familiar. It's friendly. It's the perfect way to round out a Movie Monday.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

When Low Maintenance Isn't

I am, for the most part, really low maintenance when it comes to most of my electronics. Okay. So maybe I'm a Luddite in disguise. Either way, I'm not really up-to-date on most personal electronics.

I have a flip phone. I have a laptop which is multiple years old.

These things work fine for me, and I don't see any reason to update them, since they work.

But they don't always work.

For instance, when Christopher and I were in Paris this spring and were trying to coordinate with our friends, we had to rely on his smartphone to do all of the coordinating. It worked, but I don't think either of us was particularly thrilled by the situation.

And, today, I found that my computer has started deciding it needs to shut down from time to time for no apparent reason. It's old. It was refurbished when I bought it. But that doesn't mean I'm okay with it crapping out on me for no reason in the middle of typing.

So now I'm thinking about upgrading my electronics - but my bank account has not been upgraded to match. Suddenly my low-tech, low-maintenance life is becoming much higher-maintenance for, possibly, higher-tech.

And the worst part (for me, at least) is the fact that making the move from low-tech to high-tech is going to make my low-maintenance life really high-maintenance for a while.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Getting Our Ducts in a Row

Having spent a bunch of the past 3 months with the basement bathroom under renovations, we've been putting off doing some of the final clean-up stuff until it was all done.

Well, we're still in the same weird 95% complete stage on the bathroom(s), but today we had someone come out to clean our air ducts.

Christopher had this done a few years ago, but we can't remember when. Even so, when the guy turned on his mega-vacuum, he started pulling out all sorts of stuff. Sure, there was dog hair and dust in it. We knew that would be there.

But, as I listened to things rattle through the hose, circling around the living room floor, I started to think we were getting a little more out of it than we expected. Masonry, to be exact. Quarter-sized chunks of it, coming up from the bottom of the ductwork.

On the plus side, by the time he got downstairs most of the chunks were already gone, so it got much quieter, which meant that the pup was able to calm down a bit.

And... quieter... calmer pup... meant that I got to relax a bit, too.

Yeah... it's nice to feel like we're getting our ducks in a row.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Lists

I seem to be one of the only people I know who doesn't have a list of books he's supposed to be reading. Sure, I'm like most people I know and I have a stack of "to-be-read" books, but I don't have an actual list.

But I'm finding, more and more, that people are doing these odd "book challenges" that they've received.

They seem to be pretty arbitrary, in a "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" sort of way. A list that some random person created, that everyone else is trying to follow.

There are things like: one novel, one book of short stories, one book your mother likes, one book you would be embarrassed to admit to reading...

And one friend of mine just started trying to do "one book per state" - which we decided was much easier when we started including "written about," "written in," and "the author lived for a long time in." (That last one got us Florida by way of Hemingway.)

Now, I really like to read. I don't do it as much as I used to now that I'm editing full time, but I do - mostly - like it. That's why I joined a book club a while back. And we read a lot of incredibly eclectic stuff. Mainly it's a lot of contemporary stuff, but this time we're actually reading Dickens' final (unfinished) book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Part of the fun of our meetings is the point when we start trying to figure out what to read for the next time.

A lot of people would probably say we ought to try a list. But I can almost guarantee I'd lose it before I used it.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pinning It

I have done something I never thought I'd do. I've started a Pinterest page.

I'm looking for some design ideas and trying to bookmark them so I can figure out where they are later on. So I'm trying it out.

I can't see how some people spend hours and hours on Pinterest, but I do understand the idea of losing an hour or two.

We'll see how it goes - or if I just need to give up after a bit and... well... stick a pin in it.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Food - Tomatoes

Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while might remember that I rather enjoy a good tomato and fried egg sandwich. This is attested to in my cleverly titled post "Egg and Tomato Sandwiches." I also rather enjoy a good BLT from time to time, as found in "Friday Food - A Little Late" (this one has pictures!).

To that end, this year I once again planted tomatoes outside our back door. Four plants. Each about 8 inches tall when they went in the ground in May. Now a couple of them are about 4 feet tall, and one is probably 8 feet tall, taking over most of the available space. (I'm not entirely sure whether the fourth one is still alive - I can't tell which is which.)

Until about a week ago, I had all plant, no blooms. I've been watching the tomato plants our neighbors have, and starting to get pretty jealous. They've got smaller plants, but actual blooms. And even some tomatoes, already. I, on the other hand, just have plants... leaves... and vines... and... wait... a little yellow flower!

Yes, last weekend I noticed my first blossom! Since then, that one trailblazer has been followed by at least a dozen more. I think they're all on the same plant but, again, I really have no way of knowing. I haven't seen any bees out there (yep - tomatoes are impacted by the problems with insects not being around), so this weekend, I plan to see if I can help the plants "self pollinate" by jostling them around a bit to agitate the pollen.

Then - if all goes well - I'll start to see tomatoes. I hope it works, because I'm salivating, already.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Sinus Whole-Head-Ache

Over the past few years, my sinus headaches have been getting worse. And I know that they're not the worst ailment in the world, but they do tend to get in the way of what's going on in my daily life.

What's worse is that pseudoephedrine (aka "Sudafed") which works really well for me for knocking out my sinus headaches also basically knocks me out. This is fine if I'm taking it right before bed, but not-so-fine if I'm trying to take it while I'm at work.

My usual sinus issues used to very nicely confine themselves to...well... my sinuses. But over the past few years I've found that whenever there's a big change in barometric pressure on the horizon my jaw can hurt. Not always the same area. Not always the same amount of pain. Always just enough to make me question whether it's my sinuses or a clue that I need to go to the dentist.

This week, my sinuses decided to try something new. They caused the top of my head to hurt. More precisely, the back of the top of my head, and then down toward my spine. It was the kind of hurt that was made worse by shaking my head... or standing up... or putting my head on a pillow. So I eventually just went to bed with an ice pack on my head and tried not to move.

Luckily, the weather has calmed down, and so have my sinuses. Tonight, the only place that hurts is my forehead - which is a much more manageable sinus-y sinus problem area.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Movie-ish Monday - "Girl Meets World"

I fully admit it, and I am not ashamed to do so: I watch "Girl Meets World" on the Disney Channel.

If you've never heard of it... well... I'm not overly surprised. It's a spin-off (16 or so years after the fact) of "Boy Meets World," which was all about watching this awkward kid go through junior high and high school (and college), surviving by his own wits - but also great support from family and friends. It was never about fitting in with the crowd. It was always about creating your own space and letting people crowd in around you.

I liked that. And so I thought I'd try out the new series when it premiered last year.

It was okay. The "boy" from the original series is now the dad. And his girlfriend (they got married in the final season) is now the mom. And they are raising two kids of their own. Pretty basic. I watched a few episodes and then kind of forgot about it.

Then, while travelling back and forth across the Atlantic last spring, I watched a few episodes of it during that point in the flight when I couldn't sleep but also couldn't focus long enough to watch a movie. And I got hooked.

So I've been watching it and using the TiVo to try to get caught up on it. And I'm becoming more and more impressed by it.

"Girl Meets World" is quirky and silly, and fluffy and tear-jerky, but it's also about being yourself and finding the friends who will let you do that - even when you disagree with each other.

And - even cooler - they've been bringing in characters from the original series. Of course, we expected the immediate family to show up, and even some of the original "best friends" types, but we've been seeing all sorts of people, and they've been adding really great depth to the show.

I have no idea how long it will be on the air. Typically, when I blog about a TV show it goes away pretty quickly. But I hope this one sticks around. I think they've got some great potential places to go in the world.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Basement Bathroom Reno, Part 6 - Ninety (or So) Percent

Much like our contractor, I realize that I have drawn out the story of the basement bathroom way too long. At first, it was because I was kind of keeping pace with the work that was going on. But then things just got crazy busy, and I missed a few blog posts, and - thankfully - the work finally got a little ahead of me. So tonight I'm going for the big reveal, instead of more work steps. 

To understand how far we've come, you have to look at where we started. For this, I refer you back to a post from mid-May: Basement Bathroom Reno, Part 1 - Before. If you click back to that, you can see what the bathroom used to look like. 

I'd like to say, before we move forward, that none of the walls were moved. The ceiling in one area was raised by about 4 inches, but that's all that was done as far as structural movement. The rest of the perceived size change is from the materials - and the removal of that massive shower stall thing. 

The ceiling no longer comes halfway down the window! (Oh... and there is now artwork on that wall, as well as a shelving unit with "drawers" in the corner.)
Yes, these photos were taken before I had "loaded in" all of my stuff, but even with stuff in there it still looks  so  much bigger!
The entire wall that the sink is on is still only about four feet wide, but the cabinet is now about 1.5 times as wide, with a bevelled mirror. It looks amazing. 
Remember how there used to be a solid drywall wall surrounding the shower? Now it's a glass cylinder with a better showerhead - and the drain is actually connected to the pipes (unlike the last one)!
And have we discussed the floor, yet? The tile guys (who also did the walls), did an incredible job on the floor. We designed the pattern, and they implemented it. 
There are still some things that need to be finished, but I've been able to use the "new" bathroom for the past week and it's proving to be (almost) worth the 2.5 months' that it took. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Travel Tuesday - Venue Dating

Say you're trying to plan an event. A big-ish event. Something you don't want to have at home, and also not at just some pizza joint's party room. What do you have to do? You have to find a "venue" for it.

But there are a ton of different kinds of venues. There are restaurants (classy ones, even) where you can rent a room. There are hotels where you can rent a room and rent rooms. There are mansions that rent out for events. There are even places that actually only exist to be "event venues."

So what do you do if you're trying to find a venue? You start shopping around. And it sort of starts to feel like online dating.

You pull up photos, just like you would if you were dating. You look at descriptions, just like you would if you were dating. You try to read between the lines, and look in the backgrounds of the pictures to figure out what it is that they're not actually telling you.

But, with venue dating, you're also looking at menus. And you're looking at prices. Which - unless you're doing a very particular kind of dating - is kind of specific to venue dating. So you might find a perfect match, which you can't afford. Or an affordable match with nothing you want to eat.

Finally, you find... maybe not the perfect place, but a possible place in your price range that might not exactly be pretty in photos, but might be okay. So you decide to give it the benefit of the doubt and meet in person.

And you drive around, and try to look your best, because you get the feeling that you're being judged just as much as you're doing the judging. And then you end the date with an "I'll call you" or an "I'll wait to hear from you" and go on with your life. Sometimes the departure is a relief. Sometimes it leaves you wondering "what if...?"

Honestly. I thought I was done with all this dating stuff. But suddenly I'm beginning think I'm just getting started.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ibuprofen and Soap

I seem to be living off of two things this week. And, yes, they happen to be Ibuprofen and soap.

Why? Because I'm not as young as I used to be - and because I like to be clean.

You see, Christopher and I live in a 1950s house. Which means that both the interior AND the exterior are in need of a little boost. So while we were having the bathrooms redone, we also realized that a couple more of our yard-anchoring shrubs were on their last legs. To be honest, they were probably on their last legs last year. But I kept hoping that there would be a botanical miracle and they'd be fine.

They weren't.

So last weekend we headed to the garden store to find some replacements. And last weekend I dug holes and planted two of the three new shrubs. As well as about a dozen other plants that I purchased to fill in some odd holes in our annual plantings for this year. We all know what that means, right?

Planting = Dirt + Water + Outdoors in the sun = A need for lots of soap (of both the hand/body variety as well as the laundry variety)

Here's the thing, though. There's another equation to factor into the... well... equation:

Manual labor + 48-year-old semi-inactive body = A morning after that makes me miss the days of hangovers.

Yeah, okay, that was painful. But it was done, right?


My body gave out before the planting did, so last night after work I was out doing it again. Thankfully, this time, only one shrub. But, first, I had to rip out the old one which - though it was pretty much on death's door - didn't want to go. Remarkably, though - with the help of some pruning shears, a spade, and a whole lot of brute force - it went. And I came inside with only my hands covered in mud that had seeped through my gloves.

I'd probably have been mostly okay, but after I got all cleaned up I spent 2.5 hours putting grout sealant onto the grout in our new basement bathroom tile floor. (Yes, I know that I owe you photos.) Two and a half hours of kneeling, sitting, crouching, leaning, and otherwise lowering myself to work the tile into the floor grout was painful last night. And I worried it would be bad today. I was right.

Tonight, then, I decided to rest, right?

Wrong again. As I type this I have flecks of blue and white paint all over my hands. And my right arm. And the bottoms of my feet.


Because part of the plan of redoing the bathroom included repainting the downstairs bedroom. After all, since the rest of the basement is kind of torn up, but moving in the right direction, it seemed like the perfect time to paint the bedroom. And it was about time, since - when pressed to name the old wall color - Christopher simply called it "dirty."

So I spent about 4 hours cleaning, prepping, and painting tonight, and then another 30 minutes or so trying to get it all off of my hands. And - all in all - I'm pretty excited about how it all went.

Mentally, at least. Physically... well... We'll see whether or not I can move when my alarm goes off in the morning.

Which reminds me - it's time for more Ibuprofen.