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31 December, 2009

2009: The Year of the Parkhopper

Here we are on December 31. It must be time for my traditional year-end mash-up post...

Take the first sentence of the first post of every month this year on your blog and put them all together.

It's a good thing I didn't make a New Year's Resolution to do a blog post every day, huh? Wii have been playiing wiith our new viideo game system a lot.

There's a link on the AOL main page today that I certainly won't be clicking:

Our purchase of a Wii was conditional. I've been peer-pressured into doing the May NaBloPoMo (theme: "sweet"), so Happy May! What to do with a mostly-full bag of mini marshmallows?

It sucks to have your 15 minutes of fame entangled with a tragedy.

I've once again been peer pressured into participating in NaBloPoMo. We're going to be hiring another full-time person into my office.

We're out of salt here at Apartamente de ParkHopper (as opposed to Casa ParkHopper, which is not where we currently live). I'm meeting up today with Laura and Richard for lunch. Scott and I pulled out of the garage on Sunday afternoon only to discover that someone had let their dog crap - twice - on our driveway and made no attempt to clean it up.


Happy New Year!! Stay off the roads tonight if you can. See you next year/decade!

28 December, 2009

Not Really...I'm Totally Lying

Scott and I are considering modeling next year's Christmas Photo after this family.

(do coconuts come in bigger sizes?)

24 December, 2009

Christmas Miracle?

Anyone who follows me on Twitter might have noticed the following tweet a few days ago:

Just informed TODAY by JCPenney.com that gift I ordered for @mob308 on 12/14 is no longer available. It took them 8 DAYS to figure this out?
9:15 AM Dec 22nd

I spent a day whining about there being a GIANT HOLE OF DISAPPOINTMENT IN MY CHRISTMAS to anyone who would listen. It didn't occur to me that there were tons of retailers offering free shipping upgrades on the 21st and 22nd and that maybe I could find a replacement elsewhere. In short, I was being an ass.

Yesterday morning, I went online and found a different item in the same genre, plus a sweet bonus gift (and something for myself) for less than the cost of the one item that JC Penney screwed me out of. They offered very reasonable 3-Day UPS Ground shipping, which meant that it wouldn't be here by Christmas, but that I would get it next week. That was fine with me! (The alternative - overnight shipping - was $20. Since it wasn't a "Santa" present for a small child, that wasn't going to be worth it to me.)

I came up with creative ways to package "future gifts" so that Scott would still have something to unwrap tomorrow. I came to the computer just now to do some creative photo editing, and went into my email to pull a picture from the original order. The package shipped yesterday afternoon, and I decided to check the shipping email and see whether it had really shipped, or if the company had done one of those "notified UPS to pick up package" things. Imagine my complete and utter elation when I saw the following:

Status: In Transit

Scheduled Delivery Date:
12/24/2009 (Updated)

12/30/2009 (Original)


What's completely shocking about this is that I've followed packages online before, and have seen a shipping company (I'm thinking FedEx) HOLD things in their local hub in order to not deliver before the promised date. To think that there was room on a truck and that UPS said, "hey - she didn't pay for the quickie shipping, but we have the space!" just absolutely blows my mind.

I'm not getting my hopes up too high... I'm betting that my package has the lowest priority on the delivery truck. But for now, I'm holding off on doing my creative packaging. I might not need it after all!

And so, I'd like to wish a VERY Merry Christmas to the UPS drivers and warehouse workers out there delivering Christmas to children (and grown-ups) everywhere! I'd also like to wish a Merry Christmas to the people at an internet retailer whose name I cannot reveal at this time. I'm a fan for life!

Dedication

I'd like to dedicate this Lovely Listing to Janette. See if you can figure out why!

Nope, it's not the tiger climbing the walls.

Nope, it's not the themed bathroom. (Actually if I were dedicating the listing to Scott, it would be for the bathroom. He likes turtles!)

Don't see it? OK, fourth picture down (has gravity-defying vines on the ceiling). See it now? All the way on the right? Dude! There's a ukulele right there!

Yep...that was the whole point of this entry. And now, 6 dozen unborn sugar cookies and two unborn apple pies are crying out for creation. Oh yeah, and Scott's gifts need to be wrapped. I think I'll start with the presents...

21 December, 2009

Perform!

Christmas morning: you've woken up early because you've programmed to do that your entire life. You've opened the gifts. You've eaten your festive holiday breakfast. Now what? Well, if you're reading this, then you probably know me. And anyone who knows me is going to want to turn on the TV to the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.

"I am?" you ask.
"You are." I reply

The Encore Cast Choir was asked to help out with the parade taping. See, there was this little-known woman performing a popular Christmas tune, and they thought her performance could use a little star power. Here's a YouTube preview from someone who attended the taping:




Sadly for me, I was a little too slow getting my robe. I ended up in the balcony where there were no risers set up and very little lighting (and where this woman never even bothered to tilt up the camera to). So most likely, you won't see my smiling face on TV. But I really was there. And I'll be watching, looking for Katie and Melissa, who were on the risers, singing on national TV on Christmas morning.

17 December, 2009

Peace

For my entire life, Roy E. Disney has been the public face of the Disney family. For a long time, I thought he was Walt's brother. I didn't realize he was the "new generation" of the family business. Though he wasn't always in the spotlight, I think a lot of us took stock in the fact that we knew he was there, looking over the family name and business.

I don't really know anything personal about Roy, and so any clumsy attempt to eulogize him would fall flat. But his death really touched me in a way that caught me off guard. Maybe it's because I worry who will lead the revolt against the next power-hungry CEO. Maybe it's because there's one less person in the world who believes in the perfection his uncle demanded. Or maybe it's just because he was my Disney, and now he's gone.

I don't often talk on here about my time in the trenches working in the theme parks, but I'll break my rule in this case. When we were training as the opening team at the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream attraction, one of the trainers relayed a quick anecdote.


Roy walked the attraction before it was finished, and stopped in front of the recreation of Walt's office. He laughed and pointed at the chairs and made a comment about how many times he had sat "right there" and gotten yelled at by his dad or Uncle Walt.


I guess he was a bit of a trouble maker when he was younger. The story stuck with me because I couldn't wrap my head around what it must be like to see a room from your past stuck behind glass in a museum. Now it makes me smile to think that he kept watch over the family business for another 40 years.


Rest in peace, Roy. We'll miss you.

15 December, 2009

Top Ten

Apparently people who care about such things have recently realized that this month is the end of the '00 decade. To honor it, they have been making "Top _____ of the Decade" lists, because that's what people do. I was listening to the guys on SBK Live last night debating the top 10 movies of the decade, and only agreeing with one or two of their picks.

So here's my Ten Favorite Movies of the 2000's:
(in alphabetical order...because I can't pick a favorite)

1. Batman Begins
2. Chicago
3. Crash
4. Erin Brockovich
5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
6. Finding Neverland
7. Juno
8. Monsters, Inc. (which could have just as easily been Finding Nemo or maybe Up... I just couldn't pick one and didn't want the list to be so Pixar-centric)
9. Moulin Rouge
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Others that almost made the cut were Shrek 2, Traffic, and the rest of the Pixar movies.

The ones I've listed are the ones that I either own or wish that I did (looking for a last-minute gift? try #3, 5, 6, or 7), and that I would recommend that everyone see at least once. And with the exception of Chicago, which is more of a spectacle, these are movies that I really connected with. So what do you think? What are your top movies?

Update (12/17): I should have referenced my DVD collection before writing this list. I can't believe I forgot Saved! or Zoolander. Those two definitely should've been in the top ten, but I can't decide which ones get bumped.

11 December, 2009

Puddin'

Our second trip to Tampa for our season tickets to the theater (which I like to say because it sounds so gosh darn pretentious!) was yesterday. We saw a new show called Wonderland, which was good and bad, wrapped into one. Fabulous performances by the male and female leads knocked me on my butt, and I loved about half the music. I had trouble with the story not being flushed out enough, and the costuming seemed sort of half-assed for the magnitude of the story, but hey - it was a fun night out.

Instead of talking about the show, I'd like to tell you about the old lady sitting next to me. This woman was also next to me when we went to see In the Heights in October, so I'm guessing she's also a season ticket-holder, and will therefore be at every show we see. Before the show, Scott and I both noticed that she was holding her purse on her lap, and was eating something out of her purse with a plastic spoon. I think it was one of those pudding cups from the grocery store. And I think I smelled butterscotch. Of course, we're now calling her Puddin'. It totally fits!

Well halfway through act 2, Puddin' decided to spoon with me. Either her hemorrhoids were flaring up, or she was really cold... or maybe she just needed a nap. All of a sudden, she shifts her weight to her left hip (she's sitting to my left, in case you needed the visual), and presses her butt square against the side of my leg. I tried moving closer to Scott, but her butt filled in the empty space. I tried nudging her with my leg - a sort of "sorry to bother you, but you seem to be inappropriately molesting my leg in a way that's really creeping me out and BAD TOUCH BAD TOUCH BAD TOUCH" message, but she wasn't taking the hint.

So I went to my happy place and levitated outside my body for the rest of the show. What else could I have done?

Thankfully, Scott has generously offered to trade seats with me for the next show. Actually, he flat-out refused to trade seats when I asked, but I'm thinking he was kidding and will happily take turns cuddling the stranger. It's only fair, right?

09 December, 2009

Poop

(literally)

Scott and I pulled out of the garage on Sunday afternoon only to discover that someone had let their dog crap - twice - on our driveway and made no attempt to clean it up. We were both annoyed, but decided to leave it until it dried a little so that we could sweep it out of the driveway.

Imagine my surprise the next day when Scott told me that he swept the poop out of the driveway, and whatever animal it came from, it was most definitely not a domestic canine! The poop had chunks of fur and sections of intestine in it. He showed me this morning. I would've touched it, if not for the fact that a) it's dead animal, and b) it's poop. Still, you can't help but laugh about it!

The following photos have nothing to do with poop. But they were taken on Sunday. That makes them relevant to the post, right?

30 November, 2009

Not Berry Funny

Lunch Time at My Desk:
A piece of turkey with a generous portion of cranberry sauce (home-made, with no added colors) falls face down on my lightest colored pants - my favorite khakis. "Are you kidding me?" is yelled, but since I'm alone in my office, no one answers me. I scrape the chunks of cranberry off my pants and proceed to spray half a bottle of OxiClean stain remover on the area, blot repeatedly, and notice that there's still a big bright reddish-pink stain. So I sprayed the rest of the bottle on the stain, blotted some more, and have a slightly-lighter-but-still-very-noticeable pink stain, now surrounded by a 6" wet circle!

I called Scott and begged him to come to my rescue with a clean pair of pants, and of course he agreed. He's wonderful like that. And so, I did all the work I could that wouldn't require that I leave my office. Mostly, Iwas trying to avoid going in the kitchen where a) I'm going to be made fun of by the cooks, and b) I run the risk of being seen by the diners at the kitchen table.

About five minutes before Scott arrived, I pushed back from my desk and glanced down at the stain, preparing to be sad about ruining my favorite pants. I was not prepared for the two things I saw: the stain was about 90% gone and barely visible, and there were two NEW chunks of cranberry on my pants! I guess some of the original plop of cranberry got transferred from my leg to the underside of the desk in my initial panic, and then transferred back to my leg.

At this point, I'm out of OxiClean spray, and I have nothing to do but wait for my knight in shining Saturn to arrive. Luckily, my wait wasn't much longer. He brought me pants, and even waited for me to change so that he could take the first pair home to stain treat and wash. And today I am happy to report that they are stain-free!

Note: not any sort of paid endorsement...I really love that Oxi stuff a million times better than the Tide pens. The Tide pens smell like puke to me, and don't work half as well. Oxi smells like Febreeze and have now saved that same pair of pants twice (the first time was an exploding Coke bottle)!

29 November, 2009

Musical Interlude

I don't think I'm supposed to tell you why I'm learning this exact version of Oh Come All Ye Faithful, but I'm still not sure I believe it myself. Anyway, it sounds pretty. Enjoy!

28 November, 2009

Pop Quiz

Which is a worse answer to the question, "guess what I just killed in the garage?"

a) a small child who was hiding under my car. I need you to come home and help hide the body.

or

b) a black widow spider.

Of course "a" is the worse situation. So hey - on the bright side, Scott just found a black widow spider IN MY HOUSE. Nothing bad about that, right? I'm not nearly as freaked out as that last sentence would lead you to believe. The first thing I said was, "ooh...did you get a picture?" Of course, Scott and I are wired differently. Bloggers are a different sort. Those of you who have been around long enough to remember the tree-frog-in-the-garbage-can incident can attest to that!

We went out last night, and when we came home, he pointed into the corner and said "that's what's left." And of course, I immediately look at the dead black spider and questioned him on why he said it was on the bottom of his shoe. "That was her mate." He was already dead. So...looks like he caught the spider before our garage became a set from Arachnophobia II: Jamie Never Comes Home Again.

*shudder*

27 November, 2009

Apart from the Apartment

Scott finished cleaning out the apartment today while I was working my O.T. shift. Yay Scott!

Of course, he proudly proclaimed that the "finished" apartment had a roll of paper towels and two or three other things left in it. That's ok - we have to go back over there to return the keys anyway. What's one more trip up the stairs?

The sad part is that Monday is the 30th, which means either I'm going to have to go over before work or Scott is going to have to go after work.

The happy part is that we'll never have to go back there again. Take our security deposit. We're just glad to be out of there.

26 November, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving To All...

...and to all a good night!

(If you need me, I'll be burrowed under a blanket. Finally!)

25 November, 2009

Assorted Nuts

Today's post is really more like a handful of Tweets. Enjoy the odds & ends!

* Why is it ok to talk about puking your guts up or having a splitting headache, but not ok to tell the world about the extent of your diarrhea? It bugs me. Sickness is sickness. Poop is so misunderstood.

* Speaking of sickness, I went home sick halfway through my shift last night. My stomach still hurts, though I'm being careful to feed it a steady diet of bland foods and a distinct lack of dairy. Scott was having stomach problems last weekend (manifesting differently from my own), and we thought it was the fault of the pork nachos. But given my stunning digestive pyrotechnics yesterday (hat tip to "10 Things I Hate About You" for my favorite euphemism), I'm starting to think perhaps it was viral. I'm back to work today. I'd rather take the day off, but if I do that I'll lose my holiday pay.

* Scott and I had a miscommunication regarding our late-November feast. It seems I didn't tell him the ingredients I needed for my cheesecake. And so the poor guy went out in the rain today to buy me a graham cracker crust, caramel topping, and 2 bricks of cream cheese. I was going to make the pie this morning, but I'll try again tonight. I just wanted to get it done and out of the way so I don't have to jockey for oven space at a later time.

* As I mentioned, it is currently POURING! I won't be complaining though. Yes, it's so uncharacteristic of me. I won't complain about this one day of rain because it is a cold front. Tonight we'll have the windows open and in the morning, I might actually be using a blanket. I guess I should find a jacket and umbrella...

24 November, 2009

Nutcrackers

A co-worker and I have been planning out our entry into the annual Holiday Door Decorating Contest at The Hotel. For the past two years, there has been a theme - using recycled materials and last year was "favorite holiday." This year there's no theme - just decorate it! So we've planned a fireplace with a 3-D mantle with stockings hanging from it - each one personalized for a different restaurant employee. We're hoping the chefs will let us use their door and include their people too. If not, it'll just be our door and the wall next to it. Either way, the part I'm looking forward to is editing the managers' faces onto nutcracker bodies. I even figured out how to give them that square-jaw nutcracker look. My prototypes in low-resolution done on Paint were so funny I can't wait to see how they turn out when I actually use good software and pictures.

So Scott and I are off to Target today so that I can take photos of their stock of weird nutcrackers. My Google image searches haven't really turned up what I want. I *really* need ones without long fuzzy white beards, and apparently those are hard to come by! Plus, I need them in high resolution so that I can print them out 10" tall and not have them look pixely.

I figure I'll also make one for myself - not for work, but for Facebook and another "I have nothing to write" blog post.

23 November, 2009

Fly-Over

I had one of those moments at work yesterday when I said something I thought was funny, but the joke was completely missed.

Manager: There's six more weeks of football season.
Me: Did the groundhog see his shadow?
Manager: [silence]

Experiments

Sure, Thanksgiving is all about tradition. But what's the point of watching Food Network all the time and owning a gazillion cookbooks if you're never going to try anything new? While what I really want to do is find a stuffing recipe that Scott and I both like (hint: it's not going to taste like sage-flavored grits) (no offense, honey), that's going to be an ongoing project throughout the year.

So for our own humble late-November feast this year, I am trying out two new recipes: healthy (ok, healthier) sweet potato casserole, and caramel-apple cheesecake.

The casserole will, of course, be made without the pecans. Helpful hint to all the nut haters out there: marry another nut hater. I'm quite happy that neither of us "has to" live with nasty nutty pebbles in our baked goods because the other likes them. That said, I may substitute almonds because we don't hate them, but I prefer my sweet potatoes lump-free.

And for the cheesecake, the first thing we're going to do is pretend that it's not a Paula Deen recipe. I also bought a jar of fried apples from Cracker Barrell to use in place of the canned apple pie filling. I really wanted to do a real pie with a scratch-made crust and filling that didn't come from a jar, but I just didn't start planning soon enough. I'm going to make a real pie for Christmas for sure.

Also on the menu: turkey (breast only), cornbread dressing, broccoli casserole (can't remember the recipe, so I'm going to wing it), rolls, and scratch-made cranberry relish (with orange zest). I feel like I'm forgetting something... I'm sure Scott will let me know!

22 November, 2009

Money Trail

Our mortgage was sold by the builder's lender before we even made our first payment. It was sold to Bank of America. Hey - reputable bank with national strength, right? It's also one of those banks you hear horror stories about when it comes to foreclosures and short sales. Literally the first thing I said was, "Bank of America, huh? We better pay on time!"

I'm not worried about that though. That bill is our #1 priority.

...and that's all the money talk I'll be engaging in today.

21 November, 2009

It's Beginning to Look...

It's beginning to look moderately like Christmas here at Casa ParkHopper. We put together our tree last night. We didn't decorate it (though allow me to say again how freaking awesome the pre-lit tree is!). We just assembled it and left it alone. This gives the cats - especially Elphie, who hasn't been around a Christmas tree before - a chance to get used to being squirt every time they touch it.

20 November, 2009

Racially Charged Nachos

Scott and I got take-out from one of our favorite local Tex-Mex chains tonight. In addition to my tacos and his combo plate, we ordered pork nachos with no lettuce, black olives, or jalapenos. I'm pretty sure someone over there needs to work on their shorthand. Check out the actual un-edited writing on the top of the box:

19 November, 2009

Alpha Cat


Photographic evidence that no one messes with the alpha cat!
(even when he's being a bad, bad boy)

18 November, 2009

Next Door

Given the choice, Scott and I would have put tile or hardwood floors downstairs. We bought too late in the building process, and ended up with the generic beige plush carpet instead. We've been pretty laid-back about the carpet, figuring when it got destroyed, we'd have an excuse to replace it.

Right now, there's two workers in the house that my office window faces. They're painters, doing final touch-ups. One was just sanding paint off the tile right inside the front door, and I thought about asking him to come over and scrape the ridiculous amount of paint on my powder room and laundry room floors. But I digress...

While they had the door open I noticed something else - their voices were echoing like crazy. I'm not so sure I want to live in an echo chamber. Those echoing voices also reminded me of babysitting the four Whirling Dervish kids when they lived in the house with the hard wood and the vaulted ceilings. No matter how well-behaved they were, every time I left I would soak up the quiet in my car on the way home. I craved it. Squeals of delight bouncing off every wall... *shudder*

Maybe hardwood isn't for me. And as for you, no cola/juice/red wine in the carpeted areas!

17 November, 2009

Falling Flat

The banana bread, though delicious, did not come out correctly. Mostly, it didn't rise. I don't know what went wrong - too much banana? too little flour? wrong cooking temp?

Like I said, it's delicious and we've already eaten more than half of it. But it's just not as pretty as it usually is.

Also, I don't have time to take a picture and upload it, etc. etc. etc., but right now Elphie and Milo are sitting on opposite sides of the desk. They're like perfect little bookends...or gargoyles! You'll just have to take my word for it when I say how cute they look!

16 November, 2009

Baking Without a Net

Either our printed-out recipes haven't moved from the apartment yet, or they are in a box still. Whatever the case, I just made a loaf of banana bread sans recipe. Not only that, but we're out of granulated sugar (ok, almost out), so I substituted brown sugar. And just for fun, I eyeballed the vanilla.

I know I've posted the recipe on this very blog before, and how long could it take to go through posts labeled, "cooking?" But I thought it would be fun to test myself. And so, the bread that I made contained the following:

* 1 stick butter
* 1 egg
* 3/4 cup brown sugar (not packed at all)
* 1 cup self-rising flour
* a dash of vanilla
* 3 bananas

The batter tasted the same, so I'm hopeful it comes out ok. The timer has about 20 minutes left. If I don't have anything more interesting to talk about tomorrow, perhaps I'll revisit this fascinating topic.

15 November, 2009

Like Living at the Zoo!

Scott is officially jealous of me now. Why? Because I was home to see the OTTERS and he wasn't! That's right - we have otters in our pond! This is only the second time I've seen one in the wild, and the first time it was running across the road. This time, well, they were frolicking just like they do at the zoo!
wrestling on the shore
have fish, will travel
(again, photography through a window screen isn't the best idea, but there wasn't an alternative)
This definitively answers the "are there fish in the pond?" question. Also, Milo senses there is another cute animal vying for my attention, so he's curled up on my lap and purring, as if to say, "no more kittens needed." That's how he rolls.

14 November, 2009

Work

I broke my own recently-enacted rule and checked my work email (twice) over my days off. I shouldn't have. My days off are much more enjoyable when I don't know what's waiting for me on the other side.

13 November, 2009

The View from Bathroom #2

Since I shared the view from the master toilet yesterday, I thought I'd share another toilet point-of-view today. I call this particular view, "Meditation in Purple."


Yes, we were at Lowe's today. How did you guess? We are contemplating this color family for the powder room, along with this lighting fixture. Below is an enlarged, white-balanced, and brightened picture of the paint colors. Anyone have a favorite? (I still think the photo is darker than the real colors)

And while we're on the subject of colors, check out today's home-tastic purchase: throw pillows!

They are actually matching reversible pillows. The orange is iridescent, and turns red and yellow depending on the light and the angle. If World Market had more than two in stock, we definitely would have bought more. Sadly, what you see is what we were able to get. The house needed a color outside of the beige family, and the pillows are definitely a (small) step in the right direction!

12 November, 2009

Bird Watcher

I was sitting here at the desk a few minutes ago watching a pair of sand hill cranes out the window. They were jack-hammering the edge of the pond, and I was wondering what they ate. The way they were digging, I'm thinking bugs. (and if that's the case, I want one as a pet!) I love all the birds that the pond attracts, and am getting curious about them.

And then my own nature called. (sorry, but it's sort of essential to the story) I was in the master bathroom checking out the drab gray sky through the partially-open blinds (the window is high - it's not an immodest thing to do, I swear!) when all of a sudden I couldn't believe my eyes. I don't care what you look at when you're on the toilet. Be it book, magazine, or peeling paint, I am quite sure you're not looking at anything as amazing as what I was looking at...

I can't remember whether I've already mentioned that the bald eagles around here have been a source of fascination for Scott and me since we moved in. We saw two at the top of a tree near the dumpster, and have both seen - and failed to photograph - a single eagle down at the pond. For all their size and terrifying sharp talons and beaks, these birds are skittish! One camera BEEP from 50 feet away and they fly off.

I still can't believe I finally got a picture. The camera was downstairs, so I turned it on and did all of the noisy steps before I even got back to the window. The BEEP as the picture was taken once again sent the eagle flying off. No second chance today! Hopefully I'll get another chance, maybe with blue skies, another day. For now, I'm off to reprogram my camera and turn off the sounds.

Domestic FAIL!

I wanted to sleep in today. Mentally, I needed to sleep in today. Despite my new later shift, my eyes have popped open every day for the past 10 days between 7 and 8. The alarm has been set for 10. I forget what it sounds like!

This morning I had a minor panic attack when I woke up at 6:50 to the sound of a very large boom. Scott assured me that it was a dump truck or something, and I managed to get back to sleep. And sleep I did...all the way to 10:30.

Unfortunately, instead of rejuvenating me, the extra sleep this morning has basically turned me into a lump. A lump with bad eating habits. Two slices of Amish friendship bread for breakfast, and a cinnamon scone and cheddar-sour cream potato chips for lunch. It also doesn't help my motivation that the cool weather has kept Elphie on my lap most of the day. She'll pretend she loves you for HOURS if she can curl up on a warm lap, and I'm a sucker for a sleeping kitten.

None of that makes me a domestic failure. It just means I'm lazy. News flash? Not so much! I'm also giving myself some leeway since last week's "days off" involved playing hostess and popping cookies in and out of the oven and smiling and giving tours and pretending the whole thing was effortless. It was fun, but damn! When do I get to just sit? Oh yeah - today!

Scott had a craving for eggplant parm, and we figure it should be an easy enough recipe to tackle. Apparently it's so easy that none of our dozen cookbooks has a recipe. It's like okra all over again - if you were supposed to make it, your grandmother would have taught you. Luckily, you can find anything on the Internet. I emailed him the ingredients, and we'll probably make it tonight, since nothing else is thawed. Meatless meal? He'll probably bring home a bag of frozen meatballs. Mmm...meatballs... Maybe we can negotiate the eggplant after all...

11 November, 2009

Blow Dryer

I just got out of the shower and put clean pajamas on. Nope, not skipping work, just taking my time getting ready. And since it's a little warm here in the office (windows closed due to the rain, thermostat set to 80), I have a fan pointed at me. And since I have the fan pointed at me anyway, I flipped my hair over the top of the chair in hopes that it will be mostly dry by the time I get ready for work.

This post has been brought to you by NaBloPoMo, where it doesn't matter what you write, but that you write it!

10 November, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread

I have two loaves of bread in the oven right now (and now that I've mentioned it here, the message has been spread across my whole Internet footprint!). The Amish Friendship Bread has a weird ingredient when you get to Day 10 and are mixing & baking: 1 box of vanilla instant pudding.

It's sweet, it smells good, and I like vanilla pudding, so I'm not questioning it. I'm curious though if it has to be vanilla. I have another batch that will be ready in 10 days, and am thinking about using the new seasonal pumpkin pudding and adding a little extra clove and whatever else those pumpkin pie spices are to give it seasonal flavor. Maybe raisins or chocolate chips?

I doubt I'll be able to hear the oven timer from up in the office, so we'll leave it at that for now. Anyone have input on changing the flavor up?

09 November, 2009

The Roads that Shouldn't Be Taken

I got lost last night on my way home from work. Nope, not my proudest moment. And because it was so absurd, I thought I'd share it with you:

The green line on the above map shows the most direct route from work to my house (well, toward my house - I needed to zoom in and the route is too long). There are scheduled times when the road on the green line is closed, in which case I take the orange route home. There are also scheduled times - maybe 2 or 3 per month that I have to deal with - when the orange route is also shut down. In these cases, I take the red route, which joins up with the other two just off the top of the image.

Last night, the green route was scheduled to be open, but due to some situation was closed. I made it about 1/2 mile before I had to turn around and head back. I called Scott to tell him I'd be a little bit late, and while I was talking to him, I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings and took the red route instead of the orange. And then 10 minutes later I must have REALLY not been paying attention because I made a wrong turn and couldn't make a U-turn for a mile after that! (demonstrated above my the blue squiggle)

I finally made it home, though I'm not sure how late I was. Probably 15-20 minutes. That's pretty significant considering the normal trip home only takes 25-30.

Tonight? I'll drive home with my phone in its holster.

08 November, 2009

Theater Outing

Scott and my Encore buddy Katie and I went out to Winter Park last night to see Jekyll & Hyde at G.O.A.T. Two of my other Encore friends were in the show, plus it's one that I love the music and had never seen performed.

The performers were great. They were better than any community theater show I'd ever been a part of. They reminded me of beautiful exotic animals trapped in a zoo though. Professional-caliber performances (for the most part) trapped in a splatter-painted plywood cage. The venue is really small - maybe 50 seats - and really relies on the audience wanting to believe and being willing to absolutely suspend disbelief. Oh yeah - and canned music! That was a surprise.

We also had a great time people-watching before the show. Katie ended up next to a girl whose friends were in the row in front of us. Wearing sky-high heels and a pink dress that made her look like Club Hop Barbie, she leaned over to her friends and whispered - not quietly enough - "I'm not wearing any panties! tee hee" Katie told me in the car on the way home that she had a conversation with Barbie, who told her she never gets a chance to dress up, and what better time to do so than when going to the theater? I wonder what she wears to church.

It was a great night. Today before work (like now-ish) I'm off to the apartment to get a load of clothes into my trunk. Mom is coming up tomorrow morning and taking them and the giant ice cream maker off my hands.

07 November, 2009

Morning? I'll Take Your Word For It!

I think we can all agree by now that I'm not so much a morning person. I work nights for a reason - mostly so that I can have three hours between the alarm and walking out the door to gradually wake up. My mom was the same way when I was a kid. I could still tell you her morning routine, but I'm sure she'd prefer that I not!

Anyway, I'm in at 9 today. My alarm was set for 7 and I have to leave at 8:15. Not enough wake up time! Also not enough time for a juicy blog post. But really, nothing has happened since last night except Kilo crying at the bedroom door at 5 am. And since I haven't killed or maimed him, I guess it's not really news.

06 November, 2009

Big Weekend Gets Bigger

The open house was, to me, a wonderful success. Most of the people we really hoped would come made the trip out to "the development that doesn't exist on my GPS!" We had random overlaps and plenty of downtime. It was great. It really feels like home now.

And I think I started telling people we're having a Christmas party.

We'll see about that!

Tomorrow after work, Katie is coming over and we're all going to see Jekyll & Hyde in Winter Park. Two of my friends are in the show and I can't wait to see them. Right now though, I really want to just sleep! It's been a long couple of days. Maybe Sunday I can sleep in?

(Oh, and when you have a housewarming, people buy gifts in three categories: the traditional bread & salt, the bottle of booze, or the candle. We now have lots of those things. No ugly towels though...I guess that's more of a wedding gift!)

05 November, 2009

Open House

We're ready for the open house...except for the fact that Scott is currently vacuuming outside the office and hasn't showered yet. Luckily we have an hour to go. And to be honest, I'm expecting a very modest turnout.

Please let someone show up...

04 November, 2009

Photus Interruptus

I realized sitting here this morning that the office window has a great view. Well, if you look straight out the office window, you just see the building next door, in all its orange stucco glory. But if you look between the buildings, there's a lovely view of the "lake." I wanted to take a picture to show off the view, but Milo had other ideas.

Nature Photography with Jamie (and Milo)
Step 1: grab camera
Step 2: focus on beautiful view
Step 3: recoil in shock as your viewfinder is suddenly full of orange fur...Step 4: Go back to what you were doing on the computer. There's no sense getting the cat all pissed off by shoving him out of your way.
Step 5: Realize the cat has left the windowsill and it's safe to try again
Step 6: Grab camera
Step 7: Focus on beautiful view
Step 8: Get frustrated thinking the only 'beautiful view' you'll be photographing today is the cat (who this time managed to obstruct the view so fully that the auto-flash came on)...
Step 9: When the cat finally leaves the room and you have the opportunity to take the damn picture, you realize that the screen in the window really messes with the auto-focus. Oh well... I guess you'll have to take my word that it's a beautiful view! Here's what I got...

Daily Show Moment

The Daily Show last night reminded me why I don't even bother trying to watch news networks anymore. Too much ridiculous spin!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2009 - Reindecision 2008 And Beyond
http://www.thedailyshow.com/
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

(the mockery starts around 5:15 if you don't have time for the full clip)

While we're at it, I'm not going to embed the video, but it's worth a look at the "Clash of the Cretins," where they debate whether Philly or New York has the 'douchiest' fans. Having grown up there, all I can say is, "yep...that's about right!"

03 November, 2009

Busy Morning

I had a date at 9:30 this morning with a guy I've spoken to on the phone a few times, but never met. I tried to set him up with Scott, but Scott is working crazy overtime this week, so the date ended up being all mine. Some of the shelves on our b.f. tub had developed cracks, and since water damage terrifies me, and since the house is under warranty, we called it in. So after multiple rounds of phone-tag (as it turns out, I'm a hard gal to get a hold of), we set up a time for this morning.

And so I awoke at 8, showered in the other bathroom (Suave body wash? it sucks as much as their conditioner. I smell pink, and was still sticky after rinsing off), started a load of laundry, and started a batch of cookies. He called at 9:30 to say he was running late, but I didn't care. West Wing was on Bravo, and I was in full-on cookie mode.

When he got here, he said hi to Milo, who declined to politely return the greeting, and I showed him the damage. He assured me that there's no possibility of water damage. There's a full plastic cover behind the surround. And he went to work doing whatever it is he did. I think tape and epoxy were involved. And I went back to my cookies.

Now the bedroom smells like the inside of a bottle of nail polish. Luckily, it's cool, so I turned off the a/c and opened the windows wide. The bathroom window is wide open, the fan is on, and the door is closed. Hopefully by the time Scott comes home, the smell will have gone away.

As for the cookies, there will be no baking today. I made a batch of Toll House dough, split it in half, and made a half batch of orange-chocolate chip and a half batch of chocolate-toffee chip. I rolled them into slice & bake logs and stowed them in the fridge. This way I can make a dozen at a time and the house will smell like cookies during the open house. And of course, then people can eat the cookies. After all, it's one of the few things I make well!

I have a fine coating of flour, sugar, eggs, etc. on my hands and arms, and I'm convinced there's still dough under my nails, but that's the joy of baking, right? Yet another reason it's good to get that step out of the way today.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I seem to have forgotten the clothes in the dryer. I think they're going to need a fluff!

02 November, 2009

It's Sass, Isn't It?

The Restaurant is now the proud owner of a very expensive-looking round wooden table with what looks like marble inlays. It's one of those pieces that you look at and can't decide whether you like it, or whether it's ugly. But it definitely looks expensive. And at The Restaurant, it's usually expensive that they're going for.

The table came last week, flat-packed in a box that was probably 36"x36"x10". It was standing on its narrow side, so taking up roughly 36x10" of floor space, of course in my office. When I made a crack to the Chef about being punished for having less clutter than anyone else, he promised me that they were going to have maintenance come and put it together.

I returned from my days off, and found that the Chef had been true to his word. The table had been assembled, and left in exactly the same space in the office. Only now it's taking up roughly 3 times the floor space. And it's in front of a shelf that I use every day.
And so, much like an older sibling resenting the shiny new baby for taking up space and diverting attention, I sort of resent the table. So I made the table the butt of a joke:

Obviously, the tablecloth and the typed note were there before I got back. Had I written the note, it would have been in a nicer font and had a border. Anyway, in case you can't read them, the three yellow notes read, "(except this tablecloth)," "(and that note)," "(and these post-its)."

It's ok if nobody laughs but me. Because every time I see that, it makes me smile. And what could be better than that?

01 November, 2009

A Plan!

I'm meeting up today with Laura and Richard for lunch. They did the Food & Wine Festival yesterday, and are going back home today... after lunch with meeeee!

I'm glad I have cousins, since the "siblings" I have didn't enter my life until after age 20. It's nice to see them, even if it's not nearly often enough.

27 October, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

I signed up for November NaBloPoMo this morning. Why? Well, certainly not because I have a great deal to say. But I've done it the past two years, and November is the real NaBloPoMo, so I'd hate to miss it. Plus, there's prizes (that I've never won).

Right now, I'm toying with the idea of forcing myself to sit down every day and write a full paragraph of only positive things. It's like therapy. I'm so miserable at work that I have to force myself out the door every morning. And I cry almost every night. I'm not blaming work for all of that. I'm tired. My sleep cycle is messed up - every other morning my body wants to be awake before 7, and then I sleep 12 hours the next night. I've still got moving related stress (primarily the knowledge that we're not going to be able to put off forever the lugging of old cat pee-stained furniture down 3 flights of stairs for much longer).

But you know what? My job really is sucking the life out of me. From the same manager, I get "you need to scale back to your normal job responsibilities and stop taking on extra projects," AND "you need to find and schedule competent people to work overtime in here." Hey dude...I'm not the draft board. And right now I can't in good conscience ask anyone to come into this rabbit hole and work in the world where you keep changing the rules every 10 minutes.

I'm stuck. There's still no comparable jobs opening within the company, and my job on the outside world would probably result in a $4/hour pay cut. We can't afford that with the mortgage over our heads.

So like I was saying, maybe forcing myself to spend 10 minutes a day thinking about something good isn't such a bad idea. Plus, we've got 2 plays to see and an open house to host coming up... at least I'll have something to talk about!

24 October, 2009

Casa ParkHopper

A Tour by Scott*
Hi there! Welcome to our new home! Pardon me while I finish installing this incredibly frustrating ceiling fan. While I do this, please feel free to take a look around.
From where you are standing now, you can see our living room and dining room. During our tour you will also see all of the cats. Keep your eyes peeled! Also, please excuse the boxes and other displaced items. We're still unpacking.
Downstairs you will also find the kitchen, powder room, laundry room, and garage. Those aren't part of the current tour.
At the top of the steps, the first room you come to is the guest bathroom. This is where the orange shower curtain ended up. If you can't find a cat, this is usually a pretty good place to look. They find the area behind the toilet a quiet and comforting place to hide.Next up is the office/game room. The blue chair is where you could find Jamie and at least one cat in the dark days between move-in and furniture/cable install.The cats' room is basically empty, except for some fun toys. None of us really spends much time in here. Elphie brings out whichever toy she wants to play with and likes to leave them on the stairs for us to find!
The picture of the bedroom was taken right around 8 am. The light coming in through the CLOSED blinds should give you some idea why we were in such a hurry to buy curtains. They don't really match the quilt-of-many-colors, but I defy you to do better!!And here is the master bath. We're short one towel bar, so we're using a hook on the back of the door right now.
This concludes the tour. Please come back once the boxes are gone from the kitchen. There's still more to see as we continue to settle in and make our house our home. Thanks for visiting!
*not really by Scott, but I took some artistic license with the pictures. It's like historical fiction...or something like that!

23 October, 2009

Oh Hi...I'm Here!

We finally got our cable and internet installed yesterday. Our furniture also came. That means that, though the internet was RIGHT HERE all day yesterday, I was busy finally unpacking all of those boxes labeled "BOOKS" and "Living Room Fragile" (knick knacks). Amazingly enough, even with the addition of two new bookcases, all of the books didn't make it onto the shelves. Really, all that's left are crappy $3 library books I've gotten from Books A Million and some other random books that don't deserve a home. And The Joy of Sex, which isn't really a living room book anyway!

There are still more boxes down there. The boxes of board games need to move up to the office/game room (it was just an office, but then we decided to store the games on the bookshelf in here, so I rechristened it), and the boxes of leftover books need to be stored in a closet somewhere.

The house is almost photo-worthy. Though if you have been on my Facebook profile, you may have seen some camera phone pictures already.

So in case you were wondering what we did yesterday, here's a list:
* watched cable and furniture delivery guys do their work
* installed most frustrating ceiling fan ever in living room
* basked in the cool air of said ceiling fan
* unpacked 12-15 boxes
* organized DVDs into the following categories: Musicals, Cartoons, and Harry Potter; Scott's Movies, Action, and Man-Comedy; and Cry Movies and Romantic Comedies
* dinner at TooJay's, because neither of us had eaten during the day
* bought new computer desk and chair
* bought UV film for living room window (blocks 70% of the sun's heat...though I wonder how much the plain glass blocks)
* bought curtain and rod for bedroom window (remind me to tell you about our first morning here*)
* put together desk and chair
* hung curtain and rod

Yeah. It was one long-ass day. Today we're supposed to be out the door to the apartment by noon. I don't see that happening. At this point, I'm seriously regretting not trusting the movers with my Christmas ornament boxes. They're not heavy, but they're bulky, and are going to require probably 10 trips up and down the stairs to load into the car. We also need to vacuum so that we can bring the vacuum here. Oh, and finish packing up our cooking vessels. Who knows when we'll be finished? Well, definitely some time before November 30!

* Thanks for reminding me! I'm not sure whether I mentioned before that our bedroom and living room have southern exposure. And we overlook that cute little retention pond with the fountain in it. Well, it turns out that though we don't really get a whole lot of direct sunlight, we do get THE SURFACE OF THE SUN around 8:00 every morning. Quite a surprise on our first morning when we were both unbelievably sore and tired! The sun comes up and reflects off the pond and shines in on us from two directions at once. This results in the sun shining directly in our eyes no matter which way the blinds are turned, and also results in the bedroom (which is closed to keep the cats out) being at least 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the house. So we got the ugly curtains from Target, which keep the direct sun out, but it's still really bright. We're going to have to invest in some serious black-out curtains before next summer.

Umm...gotta run and clean up some cat puke. TTFN...hopefully next time there will be pictures to show!

16 October, 2009

Last Night

Owning a house, so far, is a lot like getting married. There's all this hype, all this crazy build-up, and then at the end of the day you don't actually feel any different. Right now that's especially the case because we're still here in the apartment.

We were over there earlier, having moved two carloads of random stuff, and found ourselves lounging in the empty "great room." Scott was sitting on the stairs, and I was laying where the dining table will be, and we were plotting where things were going to go. We don't know where the silverware will live, but the glasses and plates have assigned seating. It's still weird to look at the kitchen and think, "ours." It's so nice!

Scott's car is spending the night in the new house (I still think Frances is going to get claustrophobic without reclaimed water spraying up into her bits), but we're still here. Garages are cool...and will be even cooler when there's an automatic opener.

At closing, we didn't get handed keys. We got an envelope. In the envelope were our house keys, our mailbox keys (though no one has told us which mailbox is ours...that ought to be a fun little learning process!), and two key chains that looked a lot like a car alarm remote control. "We get a car???" didn't go over so well with the girl on the other side of the table, but I thought it was funny. The remote is actually for the gate, which is closed at night...except when it's open. *shrug*

We got our master bathroom set up, and I'm not in love with it. I think I need to steam the wrinkles out of the shower curtain. But really, I think I'm going to miss waking up to neon orange! The muted colors might be a little too grown-up for me after all!

I also got the cats' room set with a new litter box, scratching post, and area rug. The ZPMPZ will be rebuilt in a few days, and their climbing tree will be moved tomorrow (we couldn't get it apart to fit into the car, or it would already be there). We're taking them over first thing in the morning and leaving them in the one room until the movers are gone. They're going to be angry no matter what, but at least this way they won't be under foot all day.

You've probably already noticed that I'm pretty tired. Sorry for the stream of consciousness. I think it's time to fall asleep for the last time in my bedroom, so that tomorrow I can move and be all tired out to fall asleep for the first time in a new bedroom.

08 October, 2009

Between the Alarms

Yesterday morning, between the alarm and the snooze, I dreamed that there was a roach crawling on the toilet seat. Of course, I made Scott go and check the bathroom before I would even get out of bed.

This morning between alarms, Scott and I were at the house for the walk-through, and it was obvious that some work had been done: the majority of the house had been painted yellow. The shade of yellow was actually fairly neutral and unoffensive. The problem was it looked like the painters had worked in the dark. Whole patches of the wall were still white. The kitchen was worse. They had painted the walls robin's egg blue, given us white appliances, and white-washed my beautiful dark wood cabinets! I started to cry. Scott took out two pieces of bread and shook the crumbs into the carpet. I guess we all handle frustration differently.

Of course, I woke up realizing that it had only been a dream. But I found myself in the shower daydreaming about how many things could go wrong today and tomorrow. I still haven't shaken myself out of it. Hopefully the cinnamon rolls Scott's currently icing will make it all better. If not, he's driving today, so I'll be doing deep breathing exercises in the car.

Namaste...

03 October, 2009

Salt

We're out of salt here at Apartamente de ParkHopper (as opposed to Casa ParkHopper, which is not where we currently live). This is particularly troublesome for Scott, because he's a good traditional cook and as such salts EVERYTHING.

We were starting to run really low on salt about two weeks ago, and when Scott brought it to my attention, I told him he wasn't allowed to buy more.

[insert Tim Allen "aaarrooogh?" noise here]

See, I have this weird memory of either my grandmother or great-grandmother having a superstition that you can't bring old salt into a new house. I've tried Googling it, and the closest I've come is an Irish housewarming gift of salt, bread and a broom. Just the same, I thought it was best to not tempt fate, so we're holding off on buying a box.

We ran out completely a few days ago.

For now, we've got Lowry's, we've got garlic salt, and we've got pepper (and a zillion other jars of spices - whole coriander, anyone?). Scott is getting twitchy, but making the best of things. And a week from yesterday, I'll let him buy a new box of salt!

30 September, 2009

Left Foot...Right Foot...

We have our first official walk-through today. At first I thought that meant the house was DONE. Then Scott said the girl in the office (her name is Jackie, but I can't remember what her real title is) said that the electric box isn't scheduled to be installed until Monday.

So...still no power? Hopefully they're running on schedule with that!

I believe that means everything else is done. Honestly, last week it just looked like carpet and appliances needed to go in and they needed to clean all their construction junk out of my sinks and bathtub. Scott thinks I'm being overly optimistic.

So if we're not checking to make sure the lights and outlets work, I guess we're checking for cosmetic things - like that they removed the unwanted glass door on our bathtub, and they replaced our wrong dishwasher with the correct one - and then there's going to be another walk-through early next week to check out the electric, etc.

It's starting to feel very real! *gulp*

21 September, 2009

Inspiration

Scott and I passed a car yesterday that had a memorial on the back that was at least 20 words long. It inspired me to make my own:

I know the text is small. It says:

"In Loving Memory"
(of my imaginary friend)
Rufus Lastname
1975-2009
Died reading the memorial on the back of someone else's car
Ironic, isn't it?

20 September, 2009

What I Didn't Buy This Week

Do you know what you're looking at? This is possibly the sexiest faucet in the history of mankind. And knowing the look we're going for in our master bathroom, can you imagine anything cooler (short of having a more colorful counter and vessel sinks)?

I was so excited to find this one and its differently-shaped friends that I almost bought them before we had a house to put them in. Then I started reading the buyer comments. Aside from being troublesome to install and not having the drain plug assembly (meaning we'd have to get plugs that sit on the side of the sink when not in use), they have water pressure issues and if you have hard water, there will be build-up and water spots between the two pieces of glass where the water comes from. And the opening is so small you can't even get a Q-Tip in there to clean it.

I know me well enough to know that I need home fixtures that are low maintenance. So for now, I'll have to settle for something much less expensive.

16 September, 2009

What a Difference a Month Makes

August 19: We signed the contract with intent to buy the center construction zone, which was scheduled to be finished and turned into a house in the far-away month of October.


September 15: We go visit "our" house and find the exterior of the structure is basically finished. Paint, siding, decorative stonework (it's around the garages, but the super-bright sun really messed with the exposure in the picture, and the driveway are DONE! I think the only work left to do outside is the balcony on the 2 bedroom unit on the front. There's even some landscaping done around the sides and back, though you can't see it from here.

August 19: Scott stands in the area that will one day be our kitchen. At this time, the only interior work that has been done is drywall installation. Strangely, the bathtubs were already installed upstairs. I think maybe they built the house around them!

September 15: It looks like a kitchen! Floors, cabinets, counters, sinks, a dishwasher (the wrong dishwasher...for now...but at least it's the right color!), paint and ceiling light fixtures make the construction zone look like it might one day be habitable.

additional photos of the inside from yesterday's visit are on my Facebook album

Other new things in the house include lighting, sinks and toilets in all the bathrooms, smoke detectors, and a light in the upstairs hallway. The bathroom sinks all have the same tacky "crystal ball" handles that I think I've had everywhere I've ever lived. We asked about them in the sales office, since the girl in the design center specifically said "we just changed over from the tacky crystal ball handles." I think the girl in the design center is going to be ratted on for that! No big deal - we'll probably tackle that project right after the kitchen sink, but just go for something cheap that isn't butt ugly and won't break the bank. (can you tell I've hit my mental spending limit?)

They also installed a sliding glass shower enclosure in the master bath, which we DO NOT want. We asked when we went back in and were told "no, that's an upgrade. you don't get one of those." OK then, will you please take it out? The answer was yes. Good thing - I don't really want to tackle ANY project that involves large sheets of glass!

They were also really cool about the wrong dishwasher, and we were assured it would be switched out. We've decided to go back next week to check and see if our stove and refrigerator are in there. After that, to my untrained eye the only thing left is carpet and touch-ups.

To continue my "one month" theme...

One month from now: If all goes according to plan, we will own this house. It'll take a lot of hard work (and possibly a small miracle or two) for us to have actually moved in by this point. As I mentioned before, I'm scheduled to work the entire week that we are scheduled to close. I'll get the day off of the actual closing, but that's it. I plan to take the entire next week off, and maybe part of the week after that.

We want to get the ceiling fans installed (umm...and buy a ladder, I guess!) before we bring in any furniture. I would have the cable guy come to run the line for the modem in advance, but I think perhaps they actually need the computer/TVs there to check and make sure everything works.

And of course, at some point we'll need to pack up our existing belongings and move them! And then, we will sleep in our bedroom that overlooks the pond, and we will soak in our doorless tub, and we will cook in our beautiful kitchen...

And we'll never have to renew another lease, or write another rent check, or lug groceries up to the third floor, or drive around the building multiple times looking for a parking spot... I'll stop, but you know I could go on all day!

14 September, 2009

Some Random Photos

Elphie's opinion of the new scratching post: "Kill... kill... scratch... scratch... scratch... kill... kill..."
Milo: "Meh...I think perhaps I'd prefer to continue to use the love seat." (he won't tell you this himself, but he does love the scratching post. this might be because I've been rubbing it down every day with fresh catnip leaves...)
This was our first attempt at meatloaf cupcakes. Yeah, they look like big meatballs with potato caps, but they tasted good!
We learned that next time we need to bake them in those little disposable metal muffin tins so that they can maintain the cupcake look. Also, we were hungry and it was late so I didn't take the time to actually pipe the potatoes to make them look like frosting. Overall, I'd say it was as successful a first attempt as possible. I'm trying to perfect the technique so that I can do mini meatloaf muffins for the next potluck at work.

13 September, 2009

Fan-Tastic! (as promised)

Have you ever gone to a home improvement store and stood staring up at a ceiling full of fans that all look pretty much the same and tried to picture the individual fans in a space that you haven't even seen finished?

It's sort of difficult!

The fan at the top-center of this photo is currently the front-runner for our living room. Mostly because I like the swirled frosting on the light fixtures.

Scott and I are divided for the bedroom fan. He likes this one, but I don't like the globe. My choice in-store was this one, but I don't really like it anymore either. I don't think I want one with a dark spot in the middle of the globe. That might be hard to find. Plus, we need to make sure the tray ceiling isn't going to be a factor when choosing blade length.

I guess we're still quite up in the air on this one.

12 September, 2009

Bath-Tastic

NOTE: BATHtastic is a show on DIY. This entry has nothing to do with that show. I just like to say the word.

Yesterday was window shopping day for certain decorating ideas. First stop: Bed Bath & Beyond. The shower curtain I found before was not at all what I wanted when I saw it in person. In fact, it wasn't even hanging up on display like 90% of the curtains they sell. But I think I did get lucky with this curtain (and rug) and some of these accessories. They really do go together nicely. I had them sitting together in the display to make sure.

If you're getting the impression that these blog posts are turning into some sort of brag book, I'm sorry. It's not so much a brag book as a place for me to record links to things so that I have it for personal reference later on. I doubt these posts are interesting to anyone but me. But you know... there's a whole world out there to entertain. Right now, I'm serving myself. Up next (after work or tomorrow): FAN-tastic!

10 September, 2009

Kitchen Mania

Well, we survived our trip to the design center today. By far the worst part of the experience was finding out that the standard (and already ordered so we couldn't get out of it) kitchen faucet/vegetable sprayer is the ugliest monstrosity ever. Seriously, the vegetable sprayer is WHITE! I think Scott and I unanimously decided what Home Improvement Project #1 is going to be. Sheesh! (after a quick 20-minute internet search, this is my front-runner)

The much better news is that our kitchen is going to look a lot like the model. Sure, we've got mica counter tops and laminate flooring, but the aesthetic is pretty much the same as what you see here. Those are even our appliances! For anyone who enjoys appliance porn, here's the links to the dishwasher, fridge and range. Oh, the electronic controls make me positively giddy! Thank you, sales rep, for giving us the incentive appliance upgrade for free. Otherwise, we'd have scratch & dent el-cheapo models instead.

The background of this photo shows the cabinets - they call the color "clove," which I expected to be much darker - that are in the kitchen and both upstairs bathrooms. The color chip on the right is the kitchen counter, and the bland one on the left is the master bath counter. The guest bath is a slightly less boring beige. zzzzz

In non-kitchen, strictly hypothetical news:

We also took a stroll through Rooms to Go today and actually fell in love with a dining set and a couch. The dining set is taller than standard, and opens up into an oval. Scott isn't sure whether he likes this one or the one from World Market better. I'm leaning towards this one. The padded chairs are a major bonus, and the built-in storage box under the table is really neat. All I'll say about the couch is that it comes in a perfectly nice beige color not found on the web site and is quite possibly the most comfortable couch I've ever sat in. And did I mention the whole thing reclines? observe:

Jamie is laughing because Scott needed to back up 3 different times before he got the whole "room" in the shot. And in case you were wondering, we're toying with the idea of an accent wall the burgundy color seen in the throw pillows.

RTG is not cheap, so if we decide to go this route, we're going to keep an eye out for sales and coupons (they have them often) and see how we can knock down the price. Step one: buy the couches and one end table. Lamps and coffee table? Unnecessary! And of course, we can't buy anything until the lender is finished inspecting our loan application with a fine-tooth comb. Until then, we're just going to have fun window shopping.

09 September, 2009

Sign of the Times

It's a sad time for fine dining. I was doing a little research on AAA Five Diamond restaurants in various markets around the country - Florida, NYC, Vegas and Chicago - and found it's not a great time to be in the business of opulent cuisine. Of the four 2009 Five Diamond restaurants here in Florida:

* Artisans at the Ritz Carlton Naples is closed indefinitely. Currently the room is being used for private functions.
* L'Escalier at The Breakers is only open seasonally, from November through May
* The Restaurant at the Four Seasons Palm Beach is closed for the summer
* Only Victoria & Albert's at WDW is still open year-round, obviously kept afloat by tourist dollars brought in by the lure of Disney/Universal/Sea World.

It looks like Florida isn't alone. Tuscon's only Five Diamond restaurant won't be reopening after its summer hiatus. (from the Arizona Daily Star) The end of the article reads like a eulogy for fine dining:

It once was that when a restaurant garnered the AAA Five Diamond award, it was a near guarantee of customers. The award, given rarely, is a mark of sublime cuisine, service and ambiance.

But the closure of the Ventana Room follows a trend of five-diamond restaurants closing around the country.

In Phoenix, the tony Mary Elaine's at the Phoenician Resort closed and reopened as a steakhouse, albeit one with a James Beard Award-winning chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, at the helm. In Scottsdale, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort's five-diamond restaurant, Marquesa, closed two years ago. In Boston, Aujourd'hui, the fine-dining restaurant at the Four Seasons, closed late last spring.



I wonder how many will be left by November when AAA releases the 2010 winners. I wonder whether the era of conspicuous excess is coming to an end for good. And I wonder if the rich have finally stopped getting richer while the poor get poorer.

07 September, 2009

Proof Positive

The following picture is proof that:
a) the pantry was once empty, except for a bottle of wine, and
b) at least someone enjoyed that last foray into cleaning and organizing!

I'm just bummed I didn't get a picture a few minutes later when she was sprawled across the shelf.
I love that this picture could totally be black & white except for her eyes!

05 September, 2009

She Believes She Can Fly

Note: Five minutes after I left the living room, Alabama scored their first touchdown of the game. I fear this means I won't be allowed back in front of the TV for the rest of the NCAA Football season. Also? Go Penn State!

We tried to clean out the kitchen pantry/closet combo today. It didn't go nearly as well as our previous unless-you-need-it-or-REALLY-want-it-you-throw-it-away cleaning sessions. The small pantry was full of things that we need, or that we want to attempt to sell or give away, and it really felt like we pulled it all out and then put it all back in. I did manage to wrap a box full of glasses in newspaper. So hey - one box packed!

The larger closet is the Home of Christmas, which basically made it my mess to clean up. On the bright side, we finally got all of Christmas put away (shameful secret: up until this morning, our Christmas wreath and my Advent calendar were still hanging on the walls). I also did some cathartic throwing away - Christmas ornaments that had been purged from my Dad's collection by the WSM and "gifted" to me. Every time I saw the boxes, I got angry. And now I'll never see them again. Somehow that works for me.

While I was sitting in the midst of piles of boxes, Elphie was doing her manic run around the apartment, jumping on as many boxes as possible. At one point, her little flying squirrel trick fell short of her aim. How short? Well, one of her back feet landed on my left forearm. I ended up with two scratches - one superficial scratch about 3" long, and another that was about 2" long and much deeper. And I had one of those moments, looking down at a little mock-up of the Grand Canyon on my arm and knowing it was about to fill with blood. And it did. Yes, I washed it. Yes, I used soap. Yes, I slathered it with Neosporin and covered it with one of those giant knee-sized bandages.

After that (and the previously unmentioned broken thumbnail on the same side), my cleaning mojo was gone. We did what we set out to do, but it just wasn't as fun this time. Next week we both have two days off - the same days even! - so we'll have a day for fun and a day for gutting work. And maybe some more actual packing. I enjoy that part too.

04 September, 2009

Linen Closet

This morning's project was the linen closet. Here's a partial list of things found within:

  • Ghirardelli chocolate-caramel squares, probably from 2006 or '07
  • Unopened pack of yellow practice golf balls (kept)
  • A zillion travel bottles of Spa H2O Shampoo, Conditioner and lotion (kept)
  • A dozen partial bottles of shampoos and conditioners that I didn't like
  • Marriage certificate (kept)
  • Two envelopes of family photos (some kept)
  • Some random electronics that went to the closet to die
  • Dead light bulbs (kept, because we're going to swap out the CF bulbs in the bathroom vanity before we leave)
  • Bucket of cleaning products untouched by human hands in at least 2 years
  • Two bags full of papers that Scott needs to sort into 'shred' and 'toss' piles
  • A petrified roach

Good news for both of us, the apartment complex newsletter arrived today. There's a community yard sale this month. Scott's already scheduled off that day, and I'm going to take off as well, and I'm going to schlep our crap downstairs and get rid of as much as possible. The leftovers I plan to take directly to a Good Will drop-off. No sense lugging the stuff we don't want back up the stairs, right?

This means we only have two weeks to finish our initial sweep & sort. No problem. As far as I can tell, we have the two closets in the kitchen, the desk drawers, the bottom of the bedroom closet (did the stuff on the shelves last week), and the dressers in the bedroom to go through. I'm off tomorrow, and plan to tackle the kitchen.

03 September, 2009

Ommmmm

We're going to be hiring another full-time person into my office. There's lots to do, as we are changing the scope of the job and changing 3 other major things at The Restaurant all at the same time. It's pretty intense.

Add to that the little matter of buying a house! Did I mention our projected closing date is October 9? Funny - that's at the tail end of a scheduled 10-day stretch at work for me because the other girl who works nights is going on a cruise. This means I'm going to have to bring a secretary in between now and then and re-train her how to do the job (because half of it changed earlier this year) so that I can get the day off to buy a house!

Oh yeah, plus we have to pack and move and redecorate and buy furniture and get the cats de-clawed and try to get out of our lease a month early and...

When I start making mental to-do lists, I check out. It's the Zoloft effect. Really, when I was on Zoloft whenever I got overwhelmed my brain just stopped thinking about whatever it was thinking about. It was like a pleasant fog rolling in. Anyway, these days when I get overwhelmed by things I should be thinking about, I find myself doing inconsequential things like window shopping for shower curtains.

Sadly, even the shower curtains have failed me today. I'm looking for something fairly nebulous to go with the master bath theme we (and by "we" I think I really do mean both Scott and I, but I'm never really sure when he actually agrees with me and when he's saying yes because he knows I'll change my mind 18 more times) came up with. This one is the closest I've found, but I'm not really fond of the horizontal stripes. The color palette is good though.

I know what you're thinking. Let me assure you that the orange bathroom isn't going away. The upstairs guest bath is getting the Nemo accessories and the bright orange shower curtain. What overnight guest wouldn't want to see ORANGE first thing in the morning?

Well, I'm going to close my eyes and do some deep breathing before heading off to work.

Namaste...

31 August, 2009

Breaking News

BURBANK, Calif. - Spider-Man and Iron Man have a new boss: The Walt Disney
Co.

Disney announced this morning that it is buying Marvel Entertainment -- and the more than 5,000 Marvel characters.They include X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor.

"This is a great fit for us," Disney boss Bob Iger told CNBC this morning. He said the acquisition was a way to attract more boys.

(via Orlando Sentinel)

Well, the Pixar deal worked out quite well for Disney, so I imagine this will pay off as well. Marvel characters have had an amazing run in theaters recently, and I'm sure Disney is happy to get their hands on the rights.

Here's the part that I find fascinating: the most popular part of Universal's Islands of Adventure park is Marvel Superhero Island, featuring the Hulk coaster and the Spider Man simulator ride. Right off the bat, I would guess that every time someone buys a co-branded Universal/Marvel souvenir, my stock will reflect that.

Also, Universal is currently re-negotiating with Steven Spielberg regarding his stake in the parks. Will the same thing happen with the Marvel characters? Will IOA dump Marvel and end up with a completely re-themed land? Or will Disney continue to make a buck every day off a rival park?

Whatever happens, I think this means good things for my stock long-term!

30 August, 2009

Tasteful(?) Nudes

I couldn't think of anything to say today, so I had some fun over at faceinhole.com. If you don't laugh at either of these, see a doctor!



29 August, 2009

Design Center

I missed a call yesterday from the girl at the design center for our builder. We were told that our cabinets had already been chosen, and we thought that our flooring was also set as well, but apparently we still get to pick some stuff out.

I didn't call her back yesterday, so I guess we're not even going to schedule our appointment until Monday. And since I'm working for the next 7 days, I would *really* rather wait a week. Of course, if we get the chance to go in some morning before work, I suppose we will.

Frankly, I have a feeling we're going to go in there and go "what's included?" and stick with that. All of our friends have said the same things: a) there's a crazy mark-up, and b) you'll be paying 30 years worth of interest on it. I just have to keep telling myself that when we see all the options.

Lord help me resist a tile back splash for my kitchen...

28 August, 2009

Bonus Picture

Yes, I almost forgot to blog today. And I'm really tired and don't have a whole lot to say tonight. Instead, I present a bonus picture from the model. Here's the not quite a garden, but certainly bigger than your average, tub in the master bathroom.

Neither Scott nor I really like the pre-fab molded wall with the built-in shelves, but it's removable. I imagine some day we'll take on tiling it. For now, I'm just fantasizing about lounging in it. This bathtub almost single-handedly makes all the organizing and packing, followed by the inevitable moving and unpacking, seem worth it!