Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's nearly that time!

I'm getting out of work a little bit early today (3PM) and going home to prepare for New Year's Eve.

Even though I'm still recovering from some nasty illness contracted last weekend during Christmas, and I'm coughing my head off, we are having a couple of our friends over. I promise, I washed my hands and made sure NOT to germ any of the food!

The Menu -

Homemade Sangria (this is a very important aspect)
Cheesy Bacon Dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Pigs in a Blanket
Cocktail Meatballs
Cheesecake Cookie Cups

We plan to stay in at our house, play some games, and hang out away from all the crowds and craziness which invade Columbus on New Year's Eve.

Countdown 'til Midnight!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Leftover Christmas Ham.

We had leftover ham from Christmas, courtesy of my grandparents, but what to do with it? We aren't huge ham eaters around here, although Mark did take a sandwich to work today, but I knew that we wouldn't eat everything that was sent home with us, so I did some searching on all recipes and I was not disappointed. Here are the results.

Cheesy Potatoes and Ham



Ingredients

2(ish) pounds of Potatoes (I used 3 small leftover russets that I had laying around, and a few small red skin potatoes), skins on (or, off if you like, whatever floats your boat), chopped into small bite sized pieces.

leftover Cooked Ham, cut into small pieces, about a 1 1/2, or 2 cups

1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (really, you could use whatever cream soup here you like)

8 oz. Sour Cream

1 cup Cheddar Cheese

sprinkle of Garlic Powder (about a tsp.)

Salt and Pepper to taste

(You could also mix in some sliced scallions for color and flavor, but I didn't have any on hand)

Bread crumbs and Parmesan, for sprinkling

Directions

1. Spray/lightly grease a 13 x 9" pan.

2. Mix together potatoes, ham, soup, sour cream, cheese, salt, and pepper. Make sure everything is good and combined.

3. Dump mixture into cassarole dish. Bake covered at 400F degrees for about 45 mins - 1 hour.

*You could cut down on cooking time here by par-boiling the potatoes before mixing everything together, but really, I think it's easier just to let them cook with everything, less mess, and it takes about the same amount of time anyway, possibly longer since you'd have to wait for water to boil.

4. Once potatoes are tender, uncover dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesean cheese. Bake uncovered for 10 mins to allow top to crisp.

*recipe adapted (and pic borrowed from) AllRecipes.com

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmastravaganza 2008.

Is finally behind us!



Don't get me wrong, the holidays are great and all, but I'm just glad they're behind us. Now on to New Year's - a restful holiday.

Here's the recap.

Christmas Eve - I got off work at Noon, came home, grabbed lunch with Mark and then we braved Meijer in the blizzard - and by blizzard I mean rain storm - to pick up a few last minute things and baking supplies that I needed. When we got home, I started speed-baking all of our Christmas goodies. Then, we went over to my Aunt's house (only about 5 minutes away) for a Christmas Eve gathering. Then, we ended up back home at about 10 o'clock and I still had wrapping to finish, which I spent about an hour doing. We did end up in bed before midnight, so that Santa was able to come.

Christmas Day - Mark and I woke up around 9AM to open our gifts from each other, as well as give some goodies to the animals.

Kitteh with her new toy:



And some wrapping paper, which she thinks is her toy:



And Belle and Kitteh going after something? :



My favorite gift?

A toss up between my new pink earbuds and...



My new Sirius radio! Woohoooo!

And here's a shot of Mark trying to shake his gift to guess what it is:



Then, after gift opening, I finished up the goodies for Christmas - note to anyone working with melted chocolate - DO NOT cool it on a wire rack. It melts around the rack and sticks. Not good.

Around Noon, we were off to Mark's family's Christmas up at his brother's house in Powell, where we ate good food and opened even more gifts. Shortly thereafter, it was time to go to my family's Christmas.

So, back in the car and a 45 minute ride from one side of Central Ohio to the other, we arrived in Licking county and had Christmas with my family, were we ate more food and opened more gifts AND saw my darling niece in her Christmas dress.

She's adorable:



Oh, and excuse me, but please check out her toes:



They're pink : )

We finally got home around 11PM. It was a VERY LONG DAY. We spent all of Friday recovering - thank goodness we both got the day off from work! - and had a Dexter-thon.



We watched all of Season 2. I highly recommend.

Oh, and, an extra special Christmas gift for me - I ended up sick. Again. I don't know what I have, but it's not fun. Probably a cold, but an icky one. And, it's back to work tomorrow : ( At least it's another short week.

Holiday Goodies:

Pecan Pie Bars



Ingredients:

CRUST:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cups cold butter (cut into small cubes)

FILLING:
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 - 3 cups chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Dump flour, sugar, salt, and butter into a food processor and pulse a few times until the butter has been incorporated into the dry ingredients (they always say it should look like little peas, I say it should just look crumbly, just make sure not to over mix, you're just trying to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture.).

2. Dump mixture out into a greased (I used Pam for Baking) 9 x 13 inch pan (I used a dark coated, non-stick pan) and press mixture firmly down onto the bottom, and up the sides.

3. Par-bake crust at 350 F for about 20 minutes (or so) until the edges start to brown just a bit.

4. While the crust is baking, combine the ingredients for filling - eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter vanilla and brown sugar - in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in pecans. Pour over crust. Bake 30-35 minutes or until edges are firm and center is almost set. Allow to cool completely and cut into bars to serve.

*Adapted from All Recipes.



Candy Cane Fudge



This is not technically a fudge in the traditional sense of the word, but the consistancy is very close, so that's what I'll call it.

Ingredients:

2 (10 ounce) packages vanilla baking chips (or, white chocolate chips, if you can't find vanilla)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups crushed candy canes (approximately 12 candy canes)
1 dash red or green food coloring

Directions:

1. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, and grease the foil.

2. Combine the vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until almost melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth.

3. When chips are completely melted, stir in the peppermint extract, food coloring, and candy canes.

4. Spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill for 2 hours, then cut into squares.

*From All Recipes.



Red Velvet Cake Balls:



Covered in white chocolate. Recipe here.




Pumpkin Puppers


Ingredients:

4 Cups whole wheat flour
2 Cups wheat germ
1 - 15 Ounce can of pumpkin (just under 2 cups)
1 Cup water
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 Tablespoons Honey

Directions:

1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine. *I did this by hand the first time, started out trying to mix with a large spoon and then ended up literally mixing with my hands. It's a stiff dough. Next time, I think I'll employ the help of either my food processor, or KA with the dough attachement to get everything combined.

2. Roll out dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. *I used a Gingerbread Man cookie cutter since it was for Christmas.

3. Place cookies on an ungreased foil-lined baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree F pre-heated oven, for 30 to 35 minutes.

*From Simple, but Delicious.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Christmas Ornament '08.

Every year, Mark and I pick out a new Christmas Ornament together to put on our Christmas tree. This year, we chose this little guy:



It's a little skating Santa. Very cute : )

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Black Bean and Corn Salsa.

Another delish recipe courtesy of my fab friend Mac (Kari).

Black Bean and Corn Salsa
1 - 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 - 15oz can of kernel corn

2 - medium tomatoes, chopped; remove the middle and the seeds

1 - avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

1/4 red onion, diced

juice of one lime

1-2 teaspoons of sugar

cilantro, chopped (I like the fresh stuff but dried is fine too)

Salt to taste



1. In a bowl, mix beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, onion and cilatro. Add the lime juice, salt and sugar. Toss to coat.


2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours so the sugar and lime juice have a chance to meld with the other ingredients. It'll bring out a lot of the flavors.


3. Serve with tortilla chips (scoops are the best for this chunky salsa!)


4. Eat! Nom nom nom.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Red Velvet Cake Balls.

I made these for the FK get together, they seem to have been a hit.


1 box of Red Velvet Cake mix (bake as directed for a 13x9 cake)

1 can of Cream Cheese Icing (16 oz.)

Chocolate for melting (I used one bag of semi-sweet chips and one bag of white chocolate, I was a little short at the end, so I'd recommend the larger bags)


1. Bake cake mix according to package instructions. Allow to cool completely (I let mine cool overnight to be safe).


2. After cake is completely cooled, crumble it up into a large bowl.


3. Mix in the can of frosting. Warning: this can get a little messy. I used a scraper/spatula, but you could use your hands, the back of a spoon etc.


4. Here comes the really messy part - Once everything is nice and combined, form truffle-sized (quarter-ish) balls using your hands. Place them on a wax paper/parchment paper/foil covered pan.


5. Once all the little balls are made, pop them in the fridge for a few hours, or the freezer for an hour or two so that they firm up and get cold.


6. Melt the chocolate and coat the balls. Allow the chocolate to harden either on it's own, or pop the balls back in the fridge/freezer for a bit.


7. Eat. Nom nom nom.


Of course you could use any cake/icing combo that you can think of, the possibilities for cake balls are endless!

*Pic and recipe from Bakerella's Blog, which I highly recommed for all things sweet and yummy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Oh wait... no. No, it's not actually.


Yes, it's currently 43 degrees outside and rainy. A-typical for the week before Christmas in Ohio, but then again, what really is considered "typical" weather around here? One really never knows what it will actually be like. According to the Weather Channel, the average temperature for mid-December is around ten degrees lower than what it's forecasted to be today. I wonder if we'll have a white Christmas? I'm not going to bet on it.

Speaking of Christmas, you know how people sometimes abbreviate it "X-mas" ("eks-mas")? Well, I just recently found out that contrary to what some believe is an attempt to take the "Christ out of Christmas" it's actually based on the Greek letter "X" (Chi), which was the first letter of the Greek word Khristos (Χριστóς), meaning Christ. So anyhoo, X actually = Christ, SO when you abbreviate using X-mas, it's still supposed to be Christmas. ::shrug::

You can read more on this theory, as well as other proposed meanings on Wikipedia.

P.S. All that above reference to Greek etymology makes me feel like I'm spoofing the father from My Big Fat Greek Wedding who is always trying to find the root of modern English terms in ancient Greek language.

Kimono, kimono, kimono. Ha! Of course! Kimono is come from the Greek word
himona, is mean winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm?
A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go!

Ha! I love that movie...

Now - after all that randomness - here's the weekend re-cap!

Friday - As soon as I got home from work, Mark and I got started on cooking (me) and cleaning (Mark) for the get together we were hosting at our house Saturday. I baked a Red Velvet cake (for cake balls) made Black Bean and Corn Salsa (oh... I'll have to post that recipe), Sangria, mixed up the filling for these little Phyllo tartlets that I made, mixed up some Ranch dip (for a crudite platter), annnnnd... I don't know, probably something else.

Saturday - We got up early, Mark continued cleaning and got the guest room set up (Yay! We've only lived there a little more than 2 years. Clearly we like to eaaase into things...) and I finished up all of the food for the party, which ended up being - chips and Black Bean and Corn Salsa, queso, buffalo chicken dip, sour cream and jalapeno phyllo cups/tartletts, crudite platter, 7-layer dip, Sangria, and various wine (leftover from the wedding - score!). THEN, the girls made it to the house and we proceeded to have a blast!

Sunday - After everyone left : ( We went to Mark's Mom's house for her annual Holiday Open House party. It was lots of fun! I wish I had brought my camera because her decorations are so gorgeous!

*Sigh* And now it's Monday, and it's the week before Christmas, and I'm slammed at work. Of course I'm not even half-way finished with Christmas shopping even though I TRIED to finish early this year. The holiday really just sneaks up on ya!

I'm really looking forward to my 2.5 day work week next week(!) (have I mentioned how much I love working in private industry?) and, I'm also really looking forward to making some yummy holiday treats with my fab KitchenAid mixer : )

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let there be LIGHT!

We're all decorated for Christmas outside!



Mark did a great job as usual, it looks very festive. I love Christmas lights.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day Zero.

This challenge was brought to my attention by my friend Jenni. She has a great list. Anyway, here's the sitch:

From Day Zero -

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

First I was a little circumspect about this whole thing because I don't like to fail so I would probably just go about cheating and setting goals that I know I'm going to complete anyway. Plus, I'm not really a list type of person per se. Then, I decided, I'm lame enough, I *should* set goals and try to reach them, perhaps I should make a list. I also remembered, as I stated before, I am lame. So much so that I don't even think I could come up with 101 goals.

SO... I've decided that in the interest of trying to participate in this project, I will begin a list of goals *hoping* to reach 101, but perhaps doing a modified challange such as 51 tasks in 501 days? Or, things I'd like to accomplish in the near future... Or, maybe they'll just be life goals? Anyway, we'll see how the list making goes and how I like sticking to a list instead of just living my life.

Oh! Which brings me to #1 - compiling my list of goals!

Here we go:

1. Complete compilation of my list of goals.
2. Achieve goals on my list.

My list of goals is going well so far.

3. Start a family.
4. Read 101 books. (1/101)
5. Pay off credit cards. (0/2)
6. Put $25 per week into savings, every week. (0/143)
7. Make dinner at home at least 3 times a week the majority of the time. (0/72)
8. Participate in Earth Hour, 8.30pm Saturday, March 28, 2009.
9. Plant a garden.
10. Learn 3 new ways to "live green" and incorporate them into our daily life. (0/3)
11. Do something charitable.
12. Organize the house; find a place for everything.
13. Renovate the bathroom.
14. Host a family gathering at our house.
15. Make at least one new dish a month. (0/24)
16. Knit a scarf.
17. Be a vegetarian for 30 days.
18. Try out 5 local restaurants I've never been to (0/5)
19. Take a trip to visit a new place I've never seen.
20. Go without using paper towels for 30 days.
21. Go on a picnic.
22. Get a massage (that'll be a chore! ; )
23. Finish up my last couple of college courses.
24. Participate in NaNoWriMo.
25. Make my own soap.
26. Make another cleaning product.
27. Waste less food.
28. Learn to make at least one pre-made/store bought item. (like vanilla extract!)
29. Go down a clothing size.
30. Make a new friend.
31. Clean out closet and donate clothes once a year. (0/2)
32. Organize my recipes.
33. Dance with my husband just for the heck of it.
34. Eat dinner at the kitchen table at least once a month. (0/27)
35. Learn to cook a signature dish.
36. Renovate the office.
37. Do at least 2 things I'm scared of. (0/2)
38. Call in sick to work one day with my hubby.
39. Go to a sporting event with my hubby.
40. See a Broadway show.
41. Put together a giant jigsaw puzzle with H.
42. Host a fancy schmancy date night dinner at home for H.
43. Take a last minute weekend trip.
44. Visit the beach.
45. Make sushi.
46. Take some sort of hobby class.
47. Hang a clothes line outside and use it!
48. Visit Las Vegas.
49. Watch at least 25 of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies List.
50. Teach someone something.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Cyber Monday.

Whatever that means.

According to Wikipedia (the be all and end all source for all research ; ):

The term Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Black Friday, the ceremonial kick-off of the holiday online shipping season in the United States between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Whereas Black Friday is associated with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, "Cyber Monday" symbolizes a busy day for online retailers. The premise was that consumers would return to their offices after the Black Friday weekend, making purchases online that they were not able to make in stores. Although that idea has not survived the test of time, Cyber Monday has evolved into a significant marketing event, sponsored by the National Retail Federation's Shop.org division, in which online retailers offer low prices and promotions.

Apparently this term was coined way back in 2005, but I have yet to hear about it until this year - much like many others considering the above bolded statement. In case you are wondering, I did not partake in Black Friday. I used to work retail - that was experience enough to stay indoors - and additionally, this was the first year since I started working at the age of 16 that I got the day after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday. Yay for working in private industry! The benefits abound.

Another reason why I stay in on Black Friday ---> Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down. People scare me.

I'm thinking I'll protest Cyber Monday - not for any particular reason other than it's made up to make people want to buy stuff. Stores will continue to offer online deals up to (and after) the Christmas holiday. This I believe.

So, instead of shopping on Black Friday, I stayed in my jammies all day as planned and my Dad and brother came over to help Mark install our shiny new kitchen faucet. It's so. fabulous. Squee! Yeah, I'm that excited about a faucet. I'm proud of Mark for his continually improving handi-abilities.



Scary to say but... I *think* we are officially finished with the kitchen now*

*of course I'm ignoring all of the stuff that still needs a home on our kitchen table AND in the office, but there's time.

Next up: Holiday party with the FK girls! Woohoo!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I just have to share!

Pics of our 99.9% finished kitchen!

We worked hard all weekend and here's where we are at:




This weekend, we installed the over range microwave, my cute little wine glass rack, and all of the cabinet knobs and drawer pulls, AND did a lot of clean up work! I LOVE how it looks!

We still have to caulk around the counter/wall, and install a new faucet, which we have ready to go, and put one more switch plate on, and of course find a home for all the stuff that's still sitting on our kitchen table, but we are definitely almost there!

It has been a long road, but I'm so proud of the work we (and especially Mark!) have done to our kitchen!

Here is what it looked like before - bleck! -

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Week Thus Far.

Thank goodness we are heading towards the end of the week! I've been so busy at work, by the time I get home I just want to change out of my work clothes and collapse on the couch with a book, which is what usually happens.

We (meaning Mark) has made quite a bit of progress in the kitchen. It's looking very good. I consider myself to have helped at least a little bit. I may not have helped with the manual labor, but I am a good cheerleader ifIdosaysomyself! The walls are now all sanded down (Holy dust, Batman!) and primed. We are officially ready to paint! I'm so excited, I can't even tell you!

This weekend, we are planning to go to Home Depot to purchase our new faucet (must have, the old one is leaky and well... old), which I'm VERY excited about, and also our over range microwave. We got a coupon in the mail 10%, or was it 20%? Anyway, a coupon for a percentage off our total order at HD, so we're going to use it to purchase these two fairly expensive items.

We have decided that we are going to leave the countertops as is for now. They are outdated and do need to be changed out eventually, but since I can't really decide what I want right now, and the old ones look much better now that everything else has been updated, I think we'll live with them for a while and spend the money when we're really sure what we want to do.

I'm hoping that we can get this project finished up this weekend!

(P.S. I still haven't baked any bread. The dough is still waiting in the fridge, which is okay, but I have nothing to report yet.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Here I am!

I seem to have taken a little sub-conscious break from blogging. I must have been off enjoying my new plumbing. Not.

Actually, nothing note-worthy has really been happening. I'll take that as a good thing.

We (meaning Mark : ) have been making some progress on our very long kitchen renovation project. We (he) has been working on patching the walls - they were in a very sad state of disrepair. One wall (I'm referencing the wall that goes from the bottom of the cabinets to the top of the counter top) conveniently had the fugly faux-brick back splash LIQUID NAILED down to the wall. That wasn't fun coming off (or so I hear...).

So, once Mark finished with all the scraping that he could possibly do, he started patching over top of the whole wall to try to make a smooth surface. I forget what the material that he used is called, but it's like plaster, you know, that you patch holes with? Anyway, after that - which I must say, he did a VERY impressive job on - he moved on to patching the giant hole that we unearthed - which actually turned out to end up a lot bigger than originally pictured because they had to move the outlet over about 6 inches in order to get everything straightened out electrically. No more hole, my very handy H has now fixed that, then he moved onto the smaller stuff, the dents and nail holes and that sort of thing.

Now, I believe that he's going to sand, and then we're ready for primer! *Hopefully*, we will get these two steps done soon (tonight?) and then we can paint and THEN we can move everything back to its place (if its home is the counter)! That will be so. nice.

In other news, just call me Martha. Well... maybe not, Martha Stewart is kind of obnoxious, but you get the point. I got this book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day , it was recommended to me by a friend. It's FAB! Of course I'm just getting started with the very basic recipe, which I threw together (in right around 5 minutes!) at about 8PM last night and is currently sitting in my fridge waiting to be baked off tonight. I just threw the ingredients together and used my GLORIOUS KitchenAid (pink) mixer to "knead" everything together and voila! Bread dough.

I will confess that I may have made a small error... I needed 6 1/2 cups of flour and was using a 1/2 cup scoop because it fits in my flour canister better. I lost count between the 7th and 8th scoop (because I had to walk away to grab the bag of flour for a refill and by the time I came back I had the number 7 in my head but couldn't remember whether I had just done the 7th scoop and was on the 8th, or if I was getting ready to do the 7th scoop and was currently on 6.) *sigh* So. me. Anyway, I ended up doing either 6 1/4 cups, or 6 3/4 cups (depending on what cup I was actually on). So, we'll see how this bread turns out.

Updates to come!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

$1300 Poorer, 1 Updated Sewer System Richer.

Only problem is, I can't use a new clean out valve as currency...

Well, Mr. PlumberNumber3 and sidekick were here for about 4-5 hours this afternoon installing the clean out valve outside of our house. Finally, everything is fixed and properly installed and we aren't experiencing any more plumbing issues! Thank GAWD!

I'm glad that it ONLY (Lord, listen to me) cost $1300 instead of the original $3200 that Roto-Rooter quoted us, but I am currently trying to keep my mind from thinking of the myriad of other places that I could have spent that $1300... *cha-ching!* ::waves:: Bye-bye paycheck. Yeah, I gross about $1100-$1200 bi-weekly.

I try to keep in mind that every update and improvement we do to the house - whether voluntary or because something has broken and we can't live without it - will be an added value when we go to sell the house, and definitely something to talk up.

Oh, yes, the house was built in 1965 - it's a classic (::eyeroll::), but we just replaced the whole roof last year, isn't it pretty?! And, don't forget, we have a brand spankin' new clean out valve out back. Guaranteed for up to a year! No more pesky main sewer line issues. Also, you won't buh-leeeeave what this kitchen used to look like! See? No more faux-brick. Exposed wires? All brought up to code, and no more hole in the wall. Electrical? Yep, that's also been taken care of. No more jacked up, potential fire hazard, wiring - we had a nice new breaker box installed just a year ago! We're just a few minutes from Easton. <--- this is how the house selling goes in my head at least : )

Monday, November 10, 2008

Plumbing 3.0

Or, Part III of the Plumbing Saga.

When I got home from work around 5PM on Friday, Mr. PlumberNumber3 was still at our house. In the rain. Digging in the backyard. In the near-dark. It was a really crappy day for this nonsense.

I actually pulled up to my H in the front yard, with the dog on a leash (complete with gentle leader because she's a naughty girl and can't behave on her leash ), both soaking wet because it was raining and the dog just looking around like, "What? I KNOW you don't expect me to do my bidness out here. Would YOU want to tinkle in the front yard in plain sight of everyone? I don't think so." Needless to say, that whole situation did not work out even after at least 20 minutes of persistance on H's part.

Anyway, Mr. PlumberNumber3 had come to the house earlier in the afternoon and first took up the toilet to try to run a snake down into our main line to either clear the issue, or find this outside clean out thing - whatever the heck that is... but apparently it's something that allows them to access the big part of the main sewer line in order to make sure that everything is all clear. He wasn't able to snake the pipe, but apparently he did pull some roots out. I don't know a lot about plumbing, but those probably aren't supposed to be in your main sewer line. Just a guess.

So, after he wasn't able to clear it out all the way, he sent a little camera down to try to see if we did have one of these outside clean out thingers, which he thought we did even though our outside pipes are apparently all wacky. BIG SURPRISE! Thank you yahoos who seem to have remodeled the house without ANY training or common sense. You need evidence? Please direct your attention to an earlier post regarding the GIANT hole we uncovered in our kitchen wall complete with exposed wires. Yeah. Pretty sure THAT'S not up to code. Gah!

Long story short, Mr. PlumberNumber3 was at our house for hours working on this project. He dug a hole in our backyard looking for this outside clean out thinger that doesn't seem to exist on our property. He was able to get the pipes clear enough to get us comfortably through the weekend, but the issue has not yet been completely resolved. Now, he's supposed to come back out tomorrow morning (Tuesday) to go ahead and install an outside clean out thinger in the giant hole already dug in our backyard (worked out nicely that way ::eyeroll::) so that we can finally get our plumbing issues completely resovled. (hopefully)

The cost of the resolution? $1300. Not excited about this. At all. BUT on the bright side (if there is one) Mr. PlumberNumber3 was very reasonable with us on Friday and because he didn't really fix the problem even after being there several hours (and plumbers aren't cheap by the hour!) he didn't charge us full price, but basically only charged us for a portion of the work they will be doing on Tuesday since he went ahead and already dug the beauteous hole in our backyard. All in all, including Friday AND Tuesdays work, we should only have to pay them $1300 in total.

*Gag* Excuse me, that was just me feeling sick at the thought of having to spend that much money on plumbing. Oh, the things I would rather put it towards... but instead I'll be able to do laundry again. Handy, but not one of my favored pursuits in life. Oh well. Suck is life. Oh, I mean such...

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Fun with Plumbing.

Ahh, the joys of home ownership. Not.

Clearly, as evidenced by my earlier blog Roto-Rooter is out of the question. Thanksandbuh-byenow.

Yesterday, H called a local plumber and (from what I understand) Mr.Plumberman chatted him up a bit about the evils of Roto-Rooter (good to know) and although he himself doesn't do this type of work, he referred us to another local plumber who has the necessary equipment and also has going for him the fact that he's "good people, honest as the day is long". Doesn't get more glowing than that. : )

So of course H called said plumber and set up an appointment for him to come out early this afternoon. I get a call from H shortly after the time of the appointment saying that this plumber won't do that kind of work either. I guess they used to do it, and the person that Mark talked to didn't know that they didn't do it anymore. Thanks, but no thanks.

I guess the issue is that our sewer system is kind of outdated and even if they clear the clog it's very possible that without further (and expensive!) work to update the plumbing it's very possible that we will have this clog again. It can happen at any time. Therefore, Mr. HonestPlumber doesn't want to touch it at all for fear that the job won't stay clog-free. So, he refers us to another guy.

SO, H calls Mr. PlumberNumber3 to set up an appointment. (All this week the issue has gotten worse BTW!) Mr. PlumberNumber3 is able to come out this afternoon. I get a call from H after the guy arrives and apparently the job is going to cost $270 (MUCH less than the $3200 that Roto-Rooter quoted us), $49 of that because they have to take the toilet up to get to the pipe to get to the clog. Wonderous. I can pull the darn toilet up for free, just fix my problem!

In the end, *hopefully* our plumbing issue will be fixed today.

If not, I may just move into a hotel for an indefinite amount of time. The toilet hardly flushes at this point.

Lovely.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

For Shizzle.

If you don't get the above reference, it's Mark's attempt at being funny : ) Obama reminds him of Dave Chappell doing his "white guy" impression where he always says in a very serious tone, "For Shizzle.". I like it.

I was hesitant to post anything about the election last night for fear of jinxing anything - I was asleep before the winner was officially named, which is sad in itself because it happened at like 10.00, but whatever - but I'm so proud of our country right now! I was hoping we had it in us, but you never know!

Of course I'm an Obama supporter. I'm a die-hard Democrat and I'm just now realizing how liberal I am in comparison with other people, but that's a whole other story...

Anyway, I'm so proud to have taken part in this historical election. I'm so glad that our Nation finally accepted (and some even embraced) change. I really hope that this marks a turning point in America and that many new, positive changes take place over the next 4 (maybe 8?) years.

I'm glad that I didn't seriously have to consider uprooting myself and moving to Canadia. I don't like the cold. I would probably have trouble learning to say "eh", and I hear that it smells like maple syrup all the time up there ; )

Go America!

In other news, Mark voted around lunch time and noticed that my name was not listed with his in the little booklet that we have to sign. This made me nervous due to my recent name change post-wedding. I went to check on my voter registration info and I am registered with my county's Board of Elections. That was good news, but it was strange because it didn't just list me as Stephanie "Last Name", it listed me as Stephanie "2nd Middle Name (my old last name" "Last Name". I couldn't tell if they were listing me with my middle name, or if they had two last names for me.

Soooo, when I went to vote, I first went to the M's because that's what my new last name starts with. Old-election-volunteer-lady scans the booklet and can't find me. So she hand me this little slip of paper saying that I need to complete a provisional ballot. I tried to expain to her that I WAS registered according to the county's board of elections, but she just stared at me like I was stupid and pointed me towards the provisional ballot table. When I got over there old-election-volunteer guy started to get me set up with a paper ballot and I again explained that I was registered as a voter with my county according to their website.

I then realized that perhaps I should check with the E's, which is what my old last name starts with and sure enough, that's where I was. Even though I clearly stated on all of the forms that I had to fill out that my maiden name was becoming my middle name, NOT being kept as a last name, they somehow managed to register me with 2 last names and I was therefore on the wrong booklet. Wonderous.

Anyway, I'm very happy that I found my name and didn't have to kick any old-people volunteer ass. I'm going to have to get my info corrected, but I wonder just what the BMV has me listed as since they are the ones who filed my updated voter registration? I don't even want to think about it. Maybe if I ever decide to commit a crime they won't be able to find me because of the name mix-up. Score one for me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Roto-Rooter, WHAT?!?

Okay, here's the sitch - We have some sort of major clog in our water pipes.

Starting about 2 weeks ago some crazy stuff started happening. If we run a wash in the washing machine it backs up into the bathtub and toilet (making it overflow if we don't shut off the washer and let the water slowly drain) when the cycle drains. When we shower, the tub ends up with about 4 inches of water that takes forever to drain, and you can't flush the toilet while the tub is slowly draining or the toilet will fill up with water instead of flushing properly.

Clearly, this is an issue. So, we called Roto-Rooter to come out and look at the problem and hopefully rectify the situation.

Well - and I don't know the situation firsthand because H is the one who was here when the plumber came - first I get a call from him saying that they needed to find some sort of outside drain trap - whatever that is - but apparently they can't locate it, so they have someone else come out to the house to run some sort of camera snakey-thing down through something to see where the thing is. This will cost us at least $250. What the Hell?!

I get a second later call, apparently Plumber 2 was able to tell that we apparently don't have one of these outdoor trappy things - but we need one - so didn't charge us anything, but DID write up a quote for us for... are you ready for this? $3200! AHH!

Apparently, according to this guy, they can't deal with the clog that's in our main sewer line, without completely re-doing our sewer set-up to bring it up to code! Code?!?! Our house was built in 1965! I'm not going to re-do everything to bring it up to current code at this point! Can't you just deal with the clog for us?! No.

So, we are DEFINITELY going to get a second opinion. I'm NOT paying more than $3000 so that I can run a load of wash. H also did some research online and it looks like we may be able to get to the clog ourselves fairly easily. We may try this first - what can it hurt? - before we try to pay someone else out of pocket for it. I'm certainly not going to be paying an arm and a leg to re-do a sewer system set-up that seems to work fine, except for this clog of course... Ick.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Go Us!



Yeah, that's right, we deserve a trophy! (A giant one.)

We are doing a good job sticking to our budget - not that it is much different than the way we spent our money before, but we are trying to be more aware, and we HAVE made some notable improvements that we are doing a good job sticking with.

#1) $25 per week is automatically deducted from our joint checking account and transferred to our INGDirect savings account. We earned $11 in interest this month! I know that our weekly contribution isn't a ton, but we are trying to pay ourselves (our savings) while still having enough cash to put towards the CC debt that we are working on paying down, which brings me to...

#2) Last month we paid 3x the minimum payment on our CC with the highest APR! It's a pretty significant amount for us and I hope we are able to keep it up!

I feel like we are actually accomplishing something on the financial front! I hope we can look back in a few months and really appreciate where we are now, and how much we will have improved!

We are also (mostly) sticking to our allowance - essentially $100 per month deposited into our personal checking accounts. We use this for any "extra" expenses, for example: Mark's poker money, lunches that we eat out during the work week, any random and unnecessary shopping purchases I may make, etc. Someone, *cough* Markwhoeatslunchoutalllllthetime is having a bit of trouble keeping within the $100, but I hope that the "allowance" concept will help both of us to realize just how much "extra" and unnecessary money we are spending individually and encourage use to come up with a way to cut back some on these "extra" expenses.

I do have to give Mark props because he historically struggles with budgets, but he's doing a VERY good job of putting forth effort to keep within the budget that we have agreed to. Great job, Honey!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chicago, re-capped.

Last weekend, Mark and I traveled to Chicago for the purpose of seeing his/our friends get married. The wedding took up alllllll Saturday (it was a Catholic wedding, complete with gap), but it was REALLY nice, so can't really complain. The rest of the weekend, we had to ourselves for a mini-trip.

We left Columbus early Friday morning and arrived in Chicago around 2PM. It was a 5 1/2 - 6 hour drive. We were very glad to get there. We checked into the hotel, which ended up being very nice besides the fact that their parking lot/garage was closed for renovations and we therefore had to use complimentary valet, which ended up being really slow even when you called ahead to get your car. The room we stayed in was great - king sized bed, small kitchenette, sitting area, and a pretty cool view of the surrounding area. Anyway, we stayed out by O'Hare (the first time Mark took me to Chicago we actually stayed in the city) and it was nice because even though we had to fight traffic quite a bit to get into the city, I felt like I was able to see a lot more of it since we were utilizing our own transportation.

Friday evening, we ate delicious deep dish Chicago-style pizza at the DePaul location of Lou Malnati's. Ahhh, sooo good. At that point, I decided to add to my list of reasons why I could never live in Chicago the fact that if I lived in the city I would end up gaining a good 250 pounds - regardless of the extra walking involved! Don't worry, I already factored that in - because I would want to eat all of the yummy food all. the. time. And no, I would not walk it off afterwards. I'd be sure to stay nice a still while digesting my delicious meals.
Over dinner, I was shocked to find out that my pizza-loving husband didn't eat Chicago-style pizza at least once a day when he lived there. I don't know what the heck he was thinking! Something about lack of finances to eat out, but come on! If I lived in the city, I would definitely make eating fab food high on my list of priorities.

Saturday, we woke up and hung around the hotel until it was time to leave for our friends' wedding. The church they were married at was in China Town. It was a very ecclectic mix of Catholic- and Asian- inspired decor. I was totally diggin' the lucky bamboo that they had all around the alter. The ceremony was extremely long, lots of standing up, then sitting down, then standing again, but the decorations were very simple and beautiful, the bride's dress was gorgeous, and the bride and groom both looked very happy to be exchanging vows.


And there were these huge chandaliers that I was really digging.


Afterwards, we made our way out of the city toward a suburb where the reception was being hosted at a Westin hotel. Very fancy. The ceremony ended around 3.30PM, we were out to the hotel around 4.15PM-4.30PM, something like that, but the reception/cocktail hour didn't open until 6.30PM. Yuck. So, we ended up chilling in the sitting area outside of the reception hall.

Once the reception finally started it was first class. Full open bar, several passed hors d'ourves <-- (yeah, thanks to my own wedding planning I can spell that word off the top of my head. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself.) including spinach and cheese stuffed mushrooms, polish sausages and peppers on skewers, mini phyllo dough brie tartlets with a touch of raspberry jam/preserves, hmm... what else... prosuitto wrapped asparagus, oh! and some sort of yummy looking fritter-ball things with dipping sauce that I did not get to try thankyouverymuchwaiterwhogottomytablethenturnedaround!
The dinner was served as 4 courses (+ wedding cake for dessert, of course!) and a wine (in addition to the sparkling wine we were all served for toasting. Dinner started with a cream of asparagus soup, then a salad with gorgonzola, pears, candied pecans, and raspberry vinagrette, a lemon sorbet intermezzo (Mark was wondering why "ice cream" was being served mid-meal ; ) and then the main course, which was a choice of crab stuffed jumbo shrimp, filet with some sort of red-wine reduction, some sort of chicken (who the heck gets the chicken when you have the previous 2 options???!), and a vegetarian selection, which ended up being Penne with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts (looked, and smelled pretty yummy). All meals (excluding the vegetarian selection) were served with lemon scented green beans and parmesean scalloped potatoes. FYI - I went with the crab stuffed shrimp, it was pretty good taking into consideration that it was seafood cooked then placed on plates with metal covers over them. It can only be so good, but I was fairly impressed. Dinner was topped off with a super-yummy slice of wedding cake - white/vanilla cake with a raspberry preserves/jam layer, and buttercream icing. It was one of the better wedding cakes I've ever tasted. I could have had a whole lot more of that!

Dinner ended around 9.30 and they layed out a big display of desserts, which I actually didn't try because I was full already, and a little bit later they brought out mini-burgers with all the fixin's for people to munch on. Again, I didn't try it, but I thought it was a cute idea. They played fun dance music, a lot of oldies/classics that people know and there were a lot of people dancing. We danced for a bit, but then ended up going home around 11.30PM (12.30AM Ohio time) and when we finally got back to the hotel we just fell into bed and went to sleep. It was a long, LONG day!

Sunday, we woke up and decided that we wanted to see a show - who goes to see a show on Sunday afternoon, right? Well, they were all booked! Unless of course you were willing to pay $80 for really crappy seats due to markup on ticket broker sites, or buy the more expensive $130+ tickets. I don't think that's in our budget. I was really bummed because I kept seeing Wicked advertised everywhere. Lies I tell ya! I TRIED to go see it, so did everyone else! Gah!

So, we didn't end up going to see it. I'm bummed about this. We did end up going to the Magnificent Mile and doing some shopping. We ate lunch at a bakery (like Panera) where there were ads everywhere for a pumpkin spice latte. Sounds good, I'll try one. NOT. I'm sorry, we don't have any today. WTH?! Chicago is a city of LIES!

Eventually we ended up back at the hotel and had some more Chicago-style pizza for dinner, this time a smaller, local place. I swear I could eat that pizza everyday. YUM!

Please note the fact that my trip did indeed revolve around food. That is why I go to Chicago.

It was a very good trip!

Happy Halloween!!!

My niece Kylie, the peapod. Isn't she adorable?!



And Belle, yeah, she's well aware that I'm crazy...



Coming soon (I promise!) a recap of our weekend in Chicago!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Introducing: My beautiful niece, Kylie!


Oh, hai World, I'm baby Kylie!

We welcomed Kylie into the world on Monday, October 13th at 4.33PM. She was 7 pounds even and 16 inches long and she came into the world ready to eat!
Some pics:




Oh, hai, so you're my Momma!

Kylie's first bottle. She is a good eater!

But, I'm still hungry. Maybe I should put this in my mouth and see how it tastes.

My first photo-op with Aunt Stefi!

Kylie's first bath! She didn't like it much, but that's to be expected.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Does it make me a bad person?

Does it make me a bad person that after I cut someone off on the freeway today (their own fault because they decided to try to slow down, instead of speed up when they were trying to merge) I felt a little bad about it for about half a second, but when the Asshat finally went around me, and I saw what political bumper sticker they had on their car, I didn't feel bad anymore because I assumed that they were just irreparably stupid and their lack of merging skills were probably merely one instance in a whole list of stupid things they do on a hourly basis?

Yes, no?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hmm...

For my own sanity, a list:

Things I like about my new job:

My desk faces a window.
The people here seem to be about 80/20 in favor of being independently competent.
It is not 10 degrees below zero on any given day.
There is free flavored coffee and tea.
I don't have to take calls where people yell at me (at least not yet).
I get vacation just for being an employee (also related to this point - I get the day after Thanksgiving off, I get off at Noon on Christmas Eve, and I get the day after Christmas as a paid holiday, as well as New Year's Eve, which I did not get at the State.)
My working hours aren't bad.
People treat me like a competent adult.

Things I do not like:

The eleventy-billion cold telemarketing calls they are having me do!!!!!11!!!!!1! as busy work instead of training me for my actual job duties. These calls are about to make my head explode. Gah!

Okay, see, that's better, I do have more positives than negatives, but if we don't get started with real work soon, I swear, I'm probably going to go crazy. As it is, I'm not 100% sure that my brain functions properly anymore. Stupid, stupid calls, and stupid, stupid company for not being ready to train me when I started working here 3 weeks AGO!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chicago, here I come!

I just finished booking the hotel for our upcoming trip to Chicago!

This is so exciting! I've only been there once before (November '05), and last time we were there we got engaged!

One of Mark's college friends is getting married, so we are going out for the wedding and staying in the city through the weekend. We got a pretty good deal on a hotel, so it's going to be more affordable than we had originally thought.

I can't wait to see all of the cool things and most importantly eat some yummy food - including, but certainly not limited to, some delish Chicago-style pizza!

YUM!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Woohoo!

Both our new couch and chair have been delivered! The couch got here last week and the chair was delivered yesterday. Mark moved the old furniture out to the garage and put the new furniture in place. It looks really good! I'll have to take a pic of the family room, but this is the set that we purchased (leather couch and matching chair).

I picked up the brand new Nicholas Sparks book from the library yesterday evening! I'm so excited to read it. I have yet to be disappointed by one of his novels.

Last night, Mark went to play poker and I watched the new Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightly). It was okay. I don't know if it was better, or worse than the version with Collin Firth, but I expect it was better because it was shorter. The movie was okay. I still don't find the story to be that extraordinary, but I'm going to be giving Jane Austen another try. I have Mansfield Park just waiting to be read. We'll see.

On another note, I can. not. believe! that it's October already! Boot season has officially begun for me - I am excited about this - and I have an urge to make a big pot of soup! I promised Mark that I would kick the soup season off with a new loaded baked potato soup recipe that I've been wanting to try. I guess it's time to break out that dutch oven that we got for the wedding!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Half-weekend Re-cap.

Technically it's still the weekend being that it is Sunday, but I will recap thus far since I've been busy and haven't been updating as much as I'd like!

Friday, on the way home from work, the check engine light on my car came on... AGAIN! Gah! No, I have no clue what could be wrong with it this time, just that I'm sure there's something going on, and it's probably expensive knowing my luck...

Saturday, Mark and I ran errands - very exciting, I know - and then I made a double batch of cupcakes for our friend Carrie's 30th birthday party - which was last night - and my sister's baby shower - which is this afternoon. They turned out pretty yummilicious if I do say so myself, and I will ; )

We went to the b-day party last night. There was Mexican food and strawberry margaritas. I was a very happy girl... until the end of the night, at which point my body finally recognized that I had eaten a little too much Mexican food and washed it down with a few too many margaritas. I felt a bit nauseous on the ride home...

TODAY, I have to drive 25-30 minutes away to my parent's house for my sister's baby shower. I still have to ice her cupcakes too... hmmmm... perhaps I should get started on that. Anyway, I'm trying to decide whether to call my Dad and tell him that the engine light is on, on my car - chancing that he may tell me not to drive on it, which would be a PITA - or, take my chances of breaking down in the middle of nowhere, but hopefully show up at their house unscathed and act like, gee... that check engine light must have JUST come on! I wonder what's wrong with it....? And, hope that my Dad has a minute to look at it.

Decisions, decisions.

AND, it's back to work tomorrow. I am not looking forward to this. I WILL like my new job... eventually. I haven't really gotten into the actual work that I will eventually be doing, and I strongly dislike the lame stuff that I'm working on right now. Essentially, I suppose you could say that I'm doing telemarketing calls. Definitely not what I was hired in to do. I said on Friday that I felt that I was being jumped into the company by being put on these calls.

I guess we'll see what next week has in store for me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I have had a VERY busy week.

I have been a little MIA because of a very busy week.

I started my new job on Monday and I have since been adjusting to driving in rush hour traffic again - not fun -, a new schedule - there are good and bad parts of that -, and my new job itself.

That's all I've really been doing, so that's all I have to share right now I guess.

Oh, and we got our new couch delivered on Tuesday, but we still have the old couch and chair too. Our little living room is very full and Kitteh thinks the new couch to be her very own, extra large Kitteh bed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Finished Reading Pride and Prejudice...

Finally!

Was that ever a chore.

Overall, I still have no idea why this book is so great according to so many people.

I admire Elizabeth's (the main character) personality in an otherwise too proper (in my opinion) time period.

And, I disagree with those who don't believe that the work lacks any present day relevance. I think that the themes are clearly timeless - social expectations, first impressions, interpersonal relationships, ever changing dynamics, and love are all relevant contemporary themes.

I also respect the work for it's importance as it was penned by a woman at a time when women writers were nearly nonexistent. I appreciate the bird's eye view into the private world of parlors and relationships of the time period.

However, I overall found the characters to lack depth, and the entire novel to be very flat. The story was "okay", but nothing special in my opinion and I still don't understand why this novel is looked at as such a great work.

Perhaps I had built my expectations so high that the work just couldn't compete, or maybe I'm just much more into the classics of the Romantic period. I don't know, but I will not stop here with Jane Austen. I'll at least give her one last try.

My next Austen work has yet to be determined, but hopefully it will be better than Pride and Prejudice.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Got Da Powah!

97 hours after it first went off, the power has FINALLY been restored!

I don't know what to do with myself first! I can watch TV... or, play on the interwebz!... ooooor, watch TV AND play on the interwebz at the SAME time!

Waaahooooo!

Good thing too because I don't have to work tomorrow! I haz the TV all to myself!

Still Without Power.

We are coming up on 90 hours without power. That's a long ass time.

According to the electric company's stupid grid thingy, we are supposed to be getting our power restored today. We'll see, but I'm hoping to come home from work today to power.

Mark is beginning to go a bit stir crazy. I think it's directly correlated to his lack of exposure to artificial light. He has begun referring to Kitteh and dog as Hyper and Spaz and has proposed that I write children's books about their adventures.

Yeah... I'm a leeeetle worried about him, but I'm sure it will pass. Hopefully.

FYI, for those who are wondering Hyper = Kitteh, Spaz = Dog. They have been so dubbed because of their propensity for running around our tiny living room chasing/playing with each other. Let me just say it's cute for about... 3 minutes, and then, it crosses over to supah annoying.

In awesome news - today is my last day at my current sucktastic job. I'm sad to leave my friends behind, but I can't wait to get out of here! Of course they never fail to encourage my hatred of this place. Currently, in the ex-airplane hanger where I work (I'm in an office setting mind you, it's just that THIS is the lovely building that the state chose to lease for us), they are banging something so loudly on the other side of the wall that my desk is up against that it is LITERALLY making the floor shake.

This does not bode well for my level of concentration, and since it's been going on for about... oh, 2 hours now, I've reached the point where I'd like to walk over, throw a molotov cocktail through their window and watch it burn. That is all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

*Sigh*

Okay, here's the deal... I'm supposed to read this for a book club. It is our second selection and is the favorite book of one of the girls in the group. I was super excited to read it, I love classics, I love great stories, but now that I'm about 1/3 of the way through the story I'm wondering what all of the hype is about.

In my opinion, the story is boring and unengaging, the characters are flat, underdeveloped, and the only character traits that I'm picking up on are frivolity and pretentiousness, which is probably why as a reader, I'm finding it hard to get invested in the characters at all. To be honest, I'm very disappointed in this novel. The only thing that I'm even moderately enjoying is the peek into genteel country life from a women's perspective during the time period in question.

I've talked it over with some friends and they say that I should press on, that I'm on the cusp of reaching and realizing the true greatness of the novel. I was tempted to just put it down and not finish, which is highly rare for me, but now I think I'll press on. I want to like this book, I really do, hopefully the second half will be more impressive than the first one thus far.

We STILL don't have power : (

We are now closing in on hour 64 without power.

Last night, we decided to go to O'Charley's for dinner. For some reason H looooves O'Charley's - mostly because of their Chipotle Chicken O'Tenders - but I just think they're a'ight so we don't go that often. Well, he talked me into going - I had a coupon - and we drive to the other side of town just to find out that they still don't have power either - even though everything else around them does, but whatever - and they are closed.

H was very disheartened. It was sad.

We ended up going somewhere else and we were both happy, but still, it was sad and now I owe him a visit to O'Charley's.

*sigh*

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Ike: How do I hate Thee? Let me count the ways.

You knocked my power out!!!

I live in Central Ohio, I don't understand why I (along with many other parts of Ohio) should be affected by a hurricane in the Gulf Coast area where it should be.

Let's play a little Ohio-gets-hit-by-remnants-of-giant-hurricane-called-Ike and all chaos ensues, shall we?

Sunday, Noon: It's a very pretty, sunny day, with a breeze. The Ohio FK girls came for a visit and we had fun (more on this later).

Sunday, 4PM-ish: The girls and I had been shopping at Easton, it was getting dark and very windy. One of the girls got a call from her FI in Cincy saying that they had lost power due to a wind storm, which was barrelling toward Columbus. Hmm... perhaps we should head back to my house before we either blow away, or get hit in the head with patio furniture, which is starting to blow around?

Sunday, 4.30ish: I call Mark to ask him about the impending storm, and the possibility of our power going out. It is very windy. Mark says, "Nah, the power won't go out. You'll be fine". He has planned to drive up to Cleveland to see a Browns game. Me: "Are you sure? What does the radar say?". H: "Eh, there's a wind advisory, but it's supposed to blow over by 9 tonight, you'll be FIIIIIIINE."

Sunday, 4.31PM: Mark calls me back. "Oh, I just went for Gas. The lights at the station were out, so I went back home and looks like the electricity is out".

Rhhheaaaaaally? I wonder who thought that was going to happen. Someone smart, I'm sure.

Mark still leaves for Cleveland. Lucky me.

Sunday, 5PMish: The girls and I make it to my house. I have to pull the emergency cord on the automatic garage door opener and lift the door manually so that I can get my car in the garage lest it gets hit by one of the limbs that are beginning to get knocked off trees and blown around. We get settled in the house with some delish wine to ride out the storm still sans electricity.

I wonder if the electric company has any recording up to give people info about the power outage?

Apparently, many people had the same thought because after dialing and re-dialing for about 5 mins, I finally get through without a busy signal and they only have a crappy generic recording saying something along the lines of, "we are aware of widespread power outages in your area. We hope to have all electricity restored by this evening.".

Sunday, 5.45PM-ish: *CRASH* ::cat runs out of the kitchen::
What the HELL was that?!?
Well, "that" happened to be our patio set and other chairs flying across the deck and landing upturned on the grass in a heap. Awesome. So me, and the very nice and helpful girls, proceeded to stack everything up against the fence in hopes that it would not fly around the backyard.

We continued to ride the storm out, me freaking out and anxious because I happen to hate storms of any kind, and the girls in a state of wonderment because of the crazy (as we later find out) 75+ mph wind gusts which are bowing all of the tree branches. We also entertain ourselves by watching some crazy neighbor boy skate boarding in the street in the middle of the windstorm. Bright parents.

Sunday, 8PM-ish: The wind has calmed down and the girls were hungry, so we venture out in search of an open restaurant. It is very eery out because it's pretty much a blackout in my town with a few spots of power here and there. Probably 80-90% of the traffic lights are out and a lot of people seem to be driving around looking for an open supermarket or restaurant. There are very few places open, and of the 2 drive-thrus that are, they are CRAZY-packed. We head back up to Easton (where we had been earlier) and end up getting some food there.

I call the electric company again. They state that about 300,000 customers are without power. It will be at least 24-48 hours before power is restored and it may take up to 7 days to get everything back up.

Sunday, 9.30PM-ish: It's now very dark at the house and I'm very alone. The girls both have gone home at this point. I'm at home with the animals with candles lit, but it's not fun because I don't like being home at night by myself, let alone being at home at night by myself with nooooo electricity when it's pitch black outside from lack of street lights. It was grand.

Monday, 1.30AM-ish: The lights are back! Yayyy! I get out of bed, turn on all of the lights and blow out the candles! ::happy dance::

Monday, 1.35AM-ish: The lights are back out again. WTH?! I light the candles... again.

Monday, 2AM-ish: Mark finally gets home. I am not a happy trophy wife.

Monday, 9AM-ish: We wake up. The lights are still out. Eventually we venture out and search for a place where we can get some food that isn't a looooong wait. We end up at Panera at Easton. After eating, we decide to shop a bit. A few stores are open, but many seemed to be closed and do not have electricity.

Monday, 11.30ish: I call AEP again. They have updated their outgoing message to say that they are diligently working to get our electric back up. No time frame specified.

We go back home and Mark spends the afternoon cleaning up the disaster area that is our yard. We should have taken before pics, but didn't. We do have a giant stack of branches and several lawn bags at our curb now. I tried to call the city to find out if they wanted us to do something special with the storm aftermath, but no one picked up. I guess they don't have electricity either.

We spend the rest of the afternoon and evening without power. All of our perishables are now perished.

Tuesday, 7AM: I'm back at work today. Apparently they have some super-stealth underground power or something because unfortunately enough, they never lost it.

I call the power company and they no longer have any outgoing recording up. This can't be good.

42 hours later, we still have no power.

I am not a happy camper, but I know that things could be worse.

Here's some local coverage of said storm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Woot Woot!

I'm leaving work today at 12.30PM to begin my loooooong (and hopefully restful - we'll see) 4-day weekend! Goodness how I do love leaving my job. I haven't encountered a negative thing yet. Gotta use up that vacation time!!!

I'm going to take advantage of my short day and go to the salon to get my hair cut. I did the whole post-wedding chop thing shortly after we returned from our honeymoon. Actually, it was like 4 days after we returned... ANYWAY, after that, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about shorter hair. I took a lot off! Now, I've decided that I like it, at least for now, and it's time for a trim. I'm thinking of doing something even more dramatic than before... I guess now is as good a time as any. We'll see if I have the guts this afternoon!!!

*UPDATE!*

So, I went for it! I got the Posh-bob, or the "Pob" as it has been dubbed. I know. I know. It's supah popular right now, and I suspect it's becoming the new "Rachel" do from the 90s. Remember that? Yeah... I had my hair cut like that too, but at least mullets haven't made a comeback.

ANYHOO, here's the result for your viewing pleasure - I think it's pretty cute:


This is also my best Posh impression. I need to work on looking a bit more alien-like I think. Ah well.

And also, Kitteh - because she's cute:

*Le Sigh*

I am very discouraged that once I finally scrape myself out of bed in the mornings it is now dark when I venture out to work. Not to mention the lack of light makes it even harder to do the scraping to begin with.

The morning darkness is a sign of impending cold weather. To be honest, I like this time of year. It gets a little cooler, just enough to be able to shut the air conditioning off and open the windows to a nice breeze, but it's still warm and sunny outside - just not stiflingly so.

However, this super-nice weather doesn't last forever. Don't let it trick you like it does so many other Fall-lovers! The leaves are already starting to turn yellow and a few have even fallen off the trees. I know what this means - Winter - icky gray, slushy, ice on the roads so you wreck your new Mustang into a guardrail, so cold your face might freeze off weather! Winter in Ohio, is on it's way. Brace yourselves.

*sigh*

I am not yet mentally prepared for this.

At least it's nearing soup eating weather and I got a new dutch oven for the wedding.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Weekend Recap.

I stayed home from work on Friday - thank goodness! - to use up some of my very sad vacation time. I decided that I would rather just take the time off than get paid the very sad, small amount that I would get in a lump sum after taxes. We stayed around the house on Friday night, had a relaxing evening.

Saturday we were up and running errands. First to get some breadfast, then down to Grove City to pick up Mark's truck, over to his Mom's house to quickly drop off the truck that he had been using while his was getting "fixed" (really just looked at because nothing was fixed), then over near Canal to pick up my radiator - buh bye $215, I didn't like you anyhow - THEN back to our house to meet my Dad and brother who were there pulling off my old radiator. My Dad fixed me up and got me running. My little brother terrorized the cat and voluntarily cut our back grass. My Dad also took a look at Mark's truck and found out what the actual problem was and it was a simple fix - thank goodness! And then they went home and it was quiet at our house again.

After that, we went out to dinner (YUM!) and then rented a dollar movie - What Happens in Vegas - I think that's what it's called at least - it was a'ight. Kind of predictable, but cute, for $1 anyway.

Sunday we spent doing things around the house. Laundry, cleaning, vacuuming, etc. Mark finished putting the last cabinets up (above the refridgerator) and touching up any little places that needed it. They look really great! We are supposed to be getting an electrician out ASAP to deal with the wiring, and then we can finish up the walls - our last major project for the kitchen. I got a ton of reading done both Saturday and Sunday. I'm completely engrossed in The Other Boleyn Girl right now. Surprising, but good.

Sunday evening, we didn't know what to make for dinner. I ended up throwing in a Supper Bake that I had found in the cabinet. Somehow, I ended up burning it. I think this was due to the fact that I didn't have any foil. Meanwhile, as the doomed Supper Bake was cooking, I was throwing together some Oatmeal muffins for breakfast this week. Somehow, I got them all together and in the pan and then realized that I had forgotten to add the melted butter. Hmm... the muffins turned out interesting anyway. They're edible, but not great. At that point, I burned my finger on the singed Supper Bake and decided that I was done cooking for the evening and just put the cup of melted butter back into the fridge to re-harden. Not sure what I'm going to do with that, but I guess it had better be something where I need melted butter...

Now it's Monday. Maybe my last Monday here. I think I'm going to take next Monday off as well as this Friday for a nice 4-day weekend treat for me! : )

Friday, September 5, 2008

Update on the Financial Front.

We are making some headway on our Financial Reviatalization goal.

We got all of our checking and savings accounts straightened out. All of our cards came in the mail yesterday - mine with my new married name! The last thing that we - erm, MARK! needs to do, but is dragging his feet and he'd better do it today if he knows what's good for him, is get his paperwork in to get his paychecks direct deposited into our joint checking account, which will then allow him to close out the personal account that he has with another bank and move it over to the bank where his new accounts are. ::gives Mark the side-eye::

Today, I called to finish off the last part of getting my name changed - my credit cards. I have two CCs in my name.

I called the first company and after getting all of my name info updated, I requested a reduction in my APR. This card is kind of a secondary card for me. I usually don't carry a balance on it. I just put small things on there and then pay it off. First, they were willing to reduce my APR by 11% (yeah, my request was WAY overdue). Then, I talked them into an additional 2% by offering to do a balance transfer of $500, which is fine with me because I was just getting ready to pay that off anyway. Overall, they cut my APR by 50%! Yay for me and my lightening-fast-ninja-financial skillz!

::pats self on back::

I called the second company and got my name stuff straightened out, but they were unable to lower my APR at all (it's already low anyway so I'm not surprised). They claimed it's because I don't use it enough. Whatever, dude. It's just because I don't carry a balance on it for very long.

We are also getting ready to move some of Mark's debt around in order to make things work better for us in paying that off. I'm excited to get started!

ALSO, I just checked out our new ING Orange Savings Account (this is the first whole month that we've had it) and we earned $10 in interest on our balance! Woohoo! You can't beat that! I wish that I had known about the wonders of ING Direct sooner, but at least we are using it now.

Check Out My Little Widget -->

It's by LibraryThing and it helps me keep track of what I've read, and what I'm currently reading. My hubby helped me set it up. Isn't he great?!

Anyway, I lub it : )

Thursday, September 4, 2008

!!! I GOT THE JOB!!!

This is so exciting!

Okay, so lately, well, for a while now really... my job has been The Suck. Honestly, I just don't think that I'm cut out to be a state employee, at least not in this agency. There is too much crap that goes on around here besides work and serving the public. It drives me crazy!

Anyhoo, I started perusing for a new job about... 3 weeks ago maybe? I talked to Mark about it, and he really encouraged me (and has for a long time) to get the heck out of where I am. This agency is a sinking ship. The state has cut their budget and they are doing major lay offs as it is. My agency has always been an incestuous little cess pool of ridiculousness and it has only gotten worse as of late. I don't think it's too much to ask to want to come into work, do a good job, serve the public, and then go home without complication. Apparently the joke that they call management around here does not agree with my philosophy. Because of this disconnect I am getting out before I drown with the rest of them!

Soooo, like I said, I've been looking around for another job for a few weeks now. Mark and I talked it over and we agreed that I'd be willing to even take a pay cut as long as I was moving to a position/company that I liked and there was more opportunity for growth than I currently have. So I started applying for open positions, mostly administrative assistant/executive secretary/office manager sort of jobs. At some point, I ended up posting my resume on CareerBuilder.com and about 2-3 days after that, I got a call from someone in HR of a company that I'd never heard of before. She asked if it was a good time, I said no - because it wasn't - and she ended up calling me back later that evening.

That's when she told me about this UNBELIEVABLE job opportunity! I couldn't believe it. I mean, honestly, they couldn't have designed a better position for me if they had consulted with me first! It was just awesome! That was Thursday of last week. Monday was a holiday, so we scheduled an interview for Tuesday afternoon, and late Wednesday morning they called me to offer me the position!

!!!I'm so excited!!!

The benefits are awesome, the company sounds just perfect, and the building has windows! Windows, I tell ya! You can see the outside while working, which is not the case in the ex-airport hanger where I currently work. (Note: This is not an over exaggeration. I am speaking literally here. The other half of our building still houses giant airplanes while they are being worked on!)

I just put in my resignation this morning. I kept it very short and sweet. My last official day is supposed to be Thursday, September 18th, but I'm thinking of taking that as a vacation day and having my last day be Wednesday the 17th. I start my brand new job on Monday, September 22nd. I think that sounds like a great start day! I really can't take the recent chain of events, culminating with this AWESOME opportunity falling into my lap, as anything other than the universe tossing me a life preserver and I'm gonna cling to that thing with all my strength!

I know that my smarmy little puppet of a Supervisor has read my resignation letter. How do I know this? Well, of course I can track the e-mail, but also, I heard her audibly groan from her office. Of course she won't say anything to me until she's been told what to do by her Supervisor, but that will be a while still since said Secretary of Agency doesn't breeze into work for her $100,000+/year, 4 hour work day position until around 10AM every morning. Sure would be nice. Oh well, I can't wait for the fall out. I can't help but be a bit excited about abandoning ship after all of the negative crap fumes that have been swirling around this shit hole for so long.

Bon Voyage Bitches!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Long-weekend Recap.

First, I must say that I LOVE 3-day weekends. Who doesn't? I'm not sure why we as Americans settled for a 5-day, 40 hour work week once we got that worked out early in the 20th century, but I for one think that a 4-day, 32 hour work week should certainly be the norm. I have real reasons to back this up besides laziness, but I suppose I should save this argument for another day.

Here's what I did with my lovely 3-day, escape from the prison that is my job, weekend:

Friday: I was having a wonderful day at work, of course the Powers that Be couldn't let me leave for 3 whole days feeling good, so they had to catch me in a late meeting that ticked me off. I don't want to recap that and venture back there. When Mark saved me (a.k.a. picked me up from work) we decided that we would run to the bank to deposit a few things as well as bring in my new license with my new name so that I could get my name changed over on my accounts so that I can get new debit cards, order new checks, etc., etc.

Side note: Shortly after the wedding, Mark and I went into my bank to set up some accounts and close others. We set up a joint account and he opened a personal checking, and we closed out 2 savings accounts that I had there so that we could move the funds elsewhere. We were doing all of this right after I received my new Social Security card with my new name on it, but before I had a chance to update my license.

The woman that was helping us at the time said (after verifying with a co-worker) that they couldn't accept my Social Security card with my new name as proper identification, they HAD to have my updated driver's license. She assured me that we should set up the new account and whatnot with my old name and then once I got my license updated all I had to do is bring it in and anyone would be able to just change the name on the account for me.

Back to the story: We go to the bank fairly early on a Friday trying to beat the rush which is sure to come. We go inside, which I could have just made a deposit through the ATM or drive-thru, but Noooooooooo! I wanted to get my name stuff taken care of. I go up to the counter and have to deal with the teller that creeps me out for some reason, but she's ALWAYS there and I ALWAYS get her. She makes my deposit without even checking my ID, then I say that I have changed my name and I need to get my accounts updated to reflect that. She looks at me and asks if I have my marriage license with me, because if I don't, they won't be able to change my name.

WHAT?!

The woman that I spoke with before never mentioned needing my marriage license at all. Not to mention the agencies who have issued me a new Social Security card, and a new driver's license have already seen my marriage license and approved my change of name. Why the heck does my bank need to have a copy of my marriage license on file? If I closed out my current accounts and then re-opened them under my new name (which is what Mark suggested I do) they certainly wouldn't need to verify that I got married and that's why my name changed.

So, I explain to the creepy Teller what the other woman had told me about a month before and she goes over to verify with a few co-workers, comes back and explains that I need my marriage license AND new driver's license in order to get my name changed over on my accounts. This does not please me.

So, we run BACK across town, get our marriage license, go BACK to the bank, which is very busy by now because it's getting into a Friday evening and I finally got my name changed over and my new debit cards ordered, but not without struggle as usual. Stupid bank.

After that debacle, we spent the rest of Friday evening relaxing.

Saturday: Mark watched the first Buckeye game of the season while I started my "Fall Reading Club" as he calls it. I read an entire book, which was much nicer than having to watch the game in my opinion. That evening we went out to dinner with Mark and Carrie (friends of ours) and hung out at their house for a bit where I got hissed at by the evil-cat Daisy as usual.

Sunday: We went out to my parents house to belatedly celebrate my little brother's 10th birthday as it was supposed to be last Sunday, but he got sick. When we got home I was just glad that I didn't have to work the next day.

Monday (labor day!): Mark went out to his mom's house to do some things, and I spent time doing housework/laundry and relaxing with out the noise of sports in the background, which after 3 days it can be REALLY annoying listening to the crowds yelling and the obnoxious announcers doing whatever they do. I was definitely fed up with that white noise by Monday evening.

That afternoon, we went to Kohl's to get a new outfit for me because I have an INTERVIEW TODAY! (more to come on this later I'm sure) and then we went to check out a chair and ottoman that we found on Craig'sList that I wanted for the bedroom. We ended up buying it and I think we got a pretty good deal. We paid $100 for a big overstuffed chair and ottoman. I was hoping to spend around $75 ($35 for a chair and $30 for an ottoman), but really, that was pretty low from what I've seen. I'm okay with $50 for each piece, but now I'm on the look out for a cheap chair cover.

On the way home from our errands, we stopped for some Sweet Tea (and a Coke for Mark because they have The Best, ya know! ... ) from McDonald's. I'm completely addicted to their Sweet Tea, I crave it. Very strange, but it could be worse I guess. First, we waited in the drive-thru line forever, eventually Mark decided to run inside, which also took forever. Once he finally got back, I took a sip of the Sweet Tea, it was REALLY bad. I don't know why it was so gross, but whatever it was, wasn't good. Mark refused to go back in to get refunded $1 because he said it was craziness in there. Actually, I think what he said exactly was that there was one person in there who knew what they were doing and the rest of them were standing around "holding their nuts". Heheeeeheee!

We went to a location closer to our house to get me a replacement Sweet Tea. Good thing.

When we got home we unloaded the chair and decided what outfit I would wear to my interview today. I couponed for a bit, and then sadly it was time to go to bed and the long weekend was over.

I can't believe that it's going to be Fall in a couple of weeks : (

Oh, and P.S. we ordered the matching brown leather chair for our living room suite. Now we just need to plan a yard sale for tenatively 2 weeks from this past weekend to get rid of our old furniture and other random crap.