September

I always love September – it’s my favorite time of year, and my birthday month! Some highlights this year:

  • I did my very first escape room with my Chicklet when she suggested it as kind of a spur of the moment activity to kick off Labor Day weekend. I was a little nervous because I’m not always great at puzzles and trivia and that kind of stuff, but we rocked it!


  • We got to see Thank You Scientist again (this time I was prepared because I know the band now!), but the singer was super sick, which really just made me sad for him because you could tell he was miserable :( But then we got to meet the trumpet player outside afterward, which was awesome!


  • I had to do this two-day training at work for a system that we inherited from a company that we acquired and is so convoluted, it will make me never complain about any of our other systems again. We had to fly a trainer out to teach three of us, and by the end of day two, between four total people, we had successfully completed the process one time. Not encouraging :/
  • Went to Sunfest in OCMD with my friend L! She has been going for years, but I’d never been, so we both took a few days off work and went for a nice long weekend. Sunfest was so fun, and we also went on the Sand Castle Home Tour, plus played mini golf, hit the boardwalk every night, and ate a lot.


April

Besides our impromptu trip to New Hope, we did some other exciting things this month:

  • We had OWNIT day at work and it was probably the craziest one yet, in terms of fun and activities! Since I’m on all these site committees I actually had the opportunity to get really involved in planning and running it, but I decided to sit this one out (I’m doing another event later in the year) and just enjoy it from a participant’s POV.
  • I added a new product to the offerings at my side biz and had a big launch party to celebrate!
  • We finished our taxes!
  • I attended my fourteenth (!!) TMBG concert (with GG, and J and K). Also, while we were all driving down South Street, GG saw this guy getting into a car and kept going, “That’s Redman! That’s Redman!” Then he rolled down the window when we got close and said, “Yo, Redman,” and the guy was like, “I’m Method Man!” But it was ok because even though he mixed up the names, GG knew the right rap lyrics and rapped out the car window at him while people on the sidewalk laughed and cheered.
  • My volunteer program I did through work wrapped up with a regional competition. I spent the whole day there with some of the kids from my team and one other volunteer. They did well and were very confident with their showing, but in the end didn’t win any of the awards. Hopefully the fact they didn’t take home any trophies doesn’t cloud their opinion of the day, because I thought they did great!
  • GG and I checked out the Philadelphia Ren Faire, which isn’t quite as robust as the PA Ren Faire and actually this was only the second year they’ve done it, but it was nice and seemed well-run. Plus we got to see “our” magician perform!
  • To celebrate MB and R’s birthdays, GG and I went to the Academy of Natural Sciences with MB, A, R, and R. It was a super fun day, and R is so smart! They had this spider exhibit and we caught a presentation from museum staff. All the kids were giving dumb answers to questions and asking dumb questions. Then R raises her hand and out of nowhere says something like, “Spiders also molt!” I forget exactly what she said, but it was so smart and we were all just like, “What? Where’d that spider fact come from?!”
  • I went with GG to his alumni weekend for the first time ever. (That’s because this was the first year they offered a “family” activity with food and bands.) It was nice, and was cool to meet a lot of his high school friends I hadn’t met before!
  • I registered with a political party just so I could vote in the PA primary, yay!

“High Among the Clouds”

Several years ago, GG turned me on to this cool band from Israel, Project RnL. They have a lot of great YouTube videos and are really just musically amazing. The singer is incredible, and their keyboardist/bandleader does a lot of neat stuff aided by the computer. GG of course is blown away by the guitar player. They didn’t have an album or anything, but we pulled the audio off all the videos we could find and have listened to them for a while.

Fast forward to last week. I subscribe to e-mail alerts on upcoming concerts based on bands I like. Usually I just delete these because the results are totally random, but last week I opened one and saw that Project RnL would be playing not only in the US, but on the east coast! But it was a Tuesday night, two hours away, the show was pretty early, and GG usually has to stay at work late. I figured it would never work out, but sent him the info and he was game. He said even if he was running late, there’d probably be an opening band or something we could miss. So we got tickets, luckily the blizzard had already come and gone, and it’s one of GG’s less busy weeks at work so he was able to get out at a reasonable time, grab me, and get on the road to north Jersey!

The show started at 7:30 and we walked in at about 7:35. It was very quiet, and the venue was not what I expected. It was just sparse tables in a room with very cool decor, and a stage decorated like a circus sideshow. The crowd seemed to be mostly middle aged male prog rock fans, but there were a couple ladies sprinkled in. There was no opening act, it was a full night with Project RnL! It was just really quiet and intimate, and when the band took the stage, it was a personal performance to a crowd who really wanted to be there and sat quietly. My ideal viewing experience!

They opened with Twisted Truth and Moves Like Jagger, played for about two hours straight, closed with Slim Shady (which was really amazing and funny live), and came back for a quick encore featuring Avenger. They played every original and cover song of theirs that we could think of, except one ;o) I also loved Bad News Jitterbug, which I hadn’t heard before, but they did this cool thing where every band member ended up beating on a drum at one point, and it was very impressive live! They do a lot of technical computer stuff with their backing tracks and pre-recorded harmonies, and besides one minor hiccup, all went smoothly :o)




After the show, we were able to meet all band members but the drummer. And they are all super nice! They seemed flattered that we trekked up from Philly to see them, but we were equally excited that they were in the US at all! The singer, Ray, shared that they were planning a US tour in a few months, so we will definitely keep our eyes out and hope they play somewhere closer to Philly! (He was asking us about what other cities are north and south of us; when he asked what was west, GG and I were both like, “Nothing.”)



In addition, we ended up sitting next to Ron Bumblefoot Thal, former guitarist of Guns N Roses, who chatted music and guitar gear with GG during and after the show! (He was super nice, like really really nice and friendly!)



PS: Thank You Scientist, whose t-shirt GG is wearing above, is local to the area and we thought they might be at the show. Bumblefoot actually teaches the guitar player! He was texting them, but he had their own rehearsal until 10PM and couldn’t come!!!

PPS: According to their web site, RnL stands for “Rock n LOL,” referring to the humor in their approach to music. However, when GG asked what it stood for, keyboardist/co-founder Eyal said the definition changed every time, and that day it was “resonant nearby laughter” :o)

April

  • GG got some bad news at the end of March and April started a new and hopefully ultimately positive and exciting chapter of our lives/year.
  • We did Easter Brunch with my family at our current favorite local brunch spot (those Eggs Benedict, mmm!), followed by Easter Dinner with GG’s family, which, like most holidays, was a lot of food for one day!
  • Celebrated National Cheese Fondue Day at The Melting Pot; I signed up for their “fondue club” or whatever, and learned of a special member deal they were doing. I do love me some cheese…
  • Spent a very hipster night out in Philly to celebrate GG’s friend’s birthday – we went to Barcade, Johnny Brenda’s, and Frankford Hall. Because it was the first gorgeous weekend day of the year, these places were all packed. If nothing else, Frankford Hall totally sold me on building my own fire pit at home ASAP.
  • GG took his annual plane trip to visit friends out of state, and I stayed home and enjoyed having the place to myself for a week ;o)
  • We saw TMBG in Philly!! I know, the last time we saw them at the TLA we decided we were too old (or their new child fans were too inconsiderate and unaware), but we decided to give it another try. We actually had a decent time. It was “An Evening With TMBG,” so there was no opening act, just two long TMBG sets. They played a lot of their new Dial-A-Song tunes, but it turns out that “Glean” is a great album, and they meshed well with their other classic songs. Stage banter was fabulous – I was so glad there were no sock puppets! But I loved the phone calls from Mama and Papa TMBG (including callbacks to earlier jokes, like a warehouse full of all the rats’ asses they don’t give about flash photography). We met up with a guy GG knows while we were waiting in line, so we had someone else to chat with. There were a few annoying kids (like, teenagers, and actual kids who were there with their parents even though this was explicitly not a kids’ show), but all-in-all, it was a good night. This was my 13th TMBG show!
  • Went to a breast cancer fundraiser/fashion show with my breast cancer survivor friend J :o) It was a really nice venue, nice set-up and decor, little bar when you came in, the fashion show was fun, good raffle prizes, etc. but, we were told there would be brunch. They finally served everyone a small wedge of quiche and a handful of lettuce leaves, and… that was it. They collected our plates and there was nothing more. Everyone at our table was like, “Was that it?” (They did eventually release us for cookies and coffee/tea :o/)
  • I read Growing Up Duggar and tweeted my thoughts as I went through it. If you are a fan (or anti-fan) of the Duggars and don’t follow me on Twitter, you’re really missing out. I have a bunch of followers who basically like me just for my Tuesday night live commentary of the show.

February

Between snow and sickness, I was home a couple extra days each week this month. I actually never made it to the office for a full week (or my usual 3 days) all month! Some highlights:

  • More of a low-light, but I got food poisoning from wonton soup and/or egg rolls from our favorite Chinese restaurant, the night of the Super Bowl. I felt bad immediately after eating, and was up all night throwing up and whatnot. Then it continued for the next couple days. On the plus side, I lost 5 pounds!
  • Just when I got over this illness, I got a mega cold. Then GG got sick (and he is never sick)!
  • I finally got my shelves hung in my office! And then found the perfect desk (which is actually two kitchen tables from Ikea, but trust me, they look and work great). Now I just need to finish getting things organized, I really need a free weekend to work on this…
  • We went to see Birdman, just in time for the Oscars…
  • Went to what was actually a student music recital at Drexel, but GG knew the director/teacher of the group. Also discovered Zavino, which had great food, good prices, and the most generous cheese and charcuterie board we have ever had (seriously, we couldn’t finish all that meat).
  • Had a really neat opportunity to meet and have dinner with the founder of Ruby Ribbon, thanks to my Director from my side biz!
  • We celebrated Valentine’s Day a day early by going out to dinner Friday night at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. The food was good, but for those prices, I’d like to be spoiled a little more (e.g. Capital Grille). The whole meal and situation was kind of weird – for instance, they apparently cleared out the regular tables from one room and replaced them with rinky-dink folding tables for all the couples out celebrating, which looked really junky.
  • On Valentine’s Day, we went to see Thank You Scientist. I’d never even heard their music until the week before, but they are amazing. Really incredibly skillful musicians, and they put on a great show! Such a shame they were the opening act, but on the other hand, we left right after their set and got home nice and early! (Also, District N9ne is a great venue, I’d go to another show there, although it’s kind of in a weird location.)
  • Went to the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention (not my usual scene, but I knew someone working there) – no, I still do not like anything enough that I need it tattooed on my body forever.
  • I tried Colour Pop, and I am hooked! The eyeshadow is amazing – goes on creamy, blends nicely, and lasts really well all day without creasing. I can’t say the same for the lipsticks, which are a mess, but I have a couple of those, too.
  • I continued working my second side business and had an amazing month!

“You want me, baby, I dare you, try and tear me down”

OMG, I updated my WordPress theme! I have been wanting to change it for a long time, but never got around to it (see also: the frequency with which I update this blog!). Lots has changed in the last 8.5 (OMG!!) years – it’s way easier now to install and customize a theme. Why did I wait so long?!

While I’m in an updating mood, let me tell you what’s been going on lately. I had my band concert at the beginning of the month. It was fine. Usually there is at least one piece that I’m really excited to play, and even if I don’t like all our selections at the beginning of the season, several more will grow on me. However, that never happened this spring. So I guess it went well, I just didn’t particularly care :o/ Afterward, GG and I took my grandmom out for dinner, which also counted as her Mother’s Day celebration, because I couldn’t coordinate a time with her and my mom to celebrate.

The following weekend, GG and I were supposed to go to this bacon festival, but it’s been postponed until October! (Based on feedback about another bacon festival that took place the weekend before, it sounded like that was a good idea, so they could have enough time to better organize the event.) Then it turned out that my brother was going to be in town on Mother’s Day, so I did end up seeing my grandmom, and my mom, when we all got together for hoagies.

The weekend after that was opening day for our local farmer’s market, plus it was the day of the compost bin and rain barrel sale for our county, so I went with GG and finally got my compost bin (I’ve wanted one for a few years, but was never able to go to the sale)! And we hit up the farmer’s market and checked out some new vendors. On Sunday, MB and I went to New York to see “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” with Neil Patrick Harris on Broadway! She called me after her birthday party to tell me that some of her coworkers had given her a pair of tickets, and I started telling her about the show and what a great time she and A would have. Then she was like, “Actually, he doesn’t want to go… so do you want to go with me?” Um, yes! Besides the craziest blister I’ve ever gotten, we had an awesome day! The weather was perfect, we picked up some gourmet macarons before the show, the show was amazing, we got dinner afterward at a neat Belgian restaurant, and everything worked out with getting the train to and from NYC. Loved hanging out with my chicklet for the day!

So now we’re coming up to the end of May already, which I can’t believe! My goals for Memorial Day weekend are to put my office back together (I’m reorganizing after getting a new desk and rearranging the furniture a little, but I think it’s going to take a little longer than I intended…) and finish some freelance design work (which might also take longer than intended, because I am missing a key piece of info from my client, who is now on vacation). Other than that, I am just relaxing, because June is going to be crazy!

April

I’ve really got to cut it out with these monthly posts. Oh well, here’s my recap of April.

I think this month really kicked off what is going to be another busy spring/summer. GG was away for A WEEK AND A HALF* visiting his friends in Kentucky, so I was on my own for a little while. I kept myself busy, though. For example, my work friend J came with me to a sex toy party (!). That was an interesting night! The next weekend I went to a Ruby Ribbon party. My side-job director is now a Ruby Ribbon consultant, and I liked it so much, I booked my own party for May!

Also while GG was away, I had a massive cold. I was coughing and blowing stuff out of my nose that I’ve never seen before. The worst of it was over in about a week, but I am only just now getting over the cough. I stayed home from the gym for almost two weeks because I couldn’t do anything without causing a coughing fit, but I’m trying to get back on schedule.

The Saturday before Easter, GG and I went to NJ for MB’s big 30th birthday bash! I think the party she was planning for herself kind of grew out of control, but it was awesome! She rented a historic house in this pretty park, there was a catered dinner, GG and her husband and a couple other friends had formed a band and performed two sets, and everyone had a great time! Love my chicklet!

The next day, my family went out for a late Easter brunch, which was really nice. We went to a restaurant near my grandmother’s house, where we had gone for Easter a couple years ago. It’s so good, and much more affordable (and less stuff/formal) than the hotel where we used to go. Then… it turned out GG’s parents were home and making Easter dinner (we’d thought they would be away all weekend), so we headed over there afterward and ate some more!

The following week, GG and I headed down to DC for the USA Science and Engineering Festival. TMBG were performing there, which was my main draw, and originally we were going to meet up with my coworker M and his family for the day. However, he had to cancel, so I suggested to GG that he call his friend E and see if he and his wife K were around maybe to meet up for dinner. They were! So we had dinner with them on Friday and… surprise, K is pregnant! Like, seven months pregnant! We had a really nice dinner and then walked around Old Town Alexandria – luckily, the torrential rain had ended by then, it’s a really cute place. It turned out that E was volunteering at the SciFest the next day, so the following morning, GG and I got breakfast at a farmer’s market near E and K’s place, then went to their house and drove into the city with E.

The event itself was really neat, but so big it was almost overwhelming! We did end up seeing quite a lot. The booths were mostly “meh,” but some of the presentations were neat. We saw a talk about precision medicine and genomic testing/sequencing (when they opened up for audience questions, GG went first and asked if they were worried about a Gattaca-like situation). We skipped the TMBG kids’ show because, you know, kids’ show. We did try to catch Bill Nye, who came on right after TMBG’s first show, but he probably drew the biggest crowds of the day, and we were far away. He gave a neat presentation, though – including a mention of LASER BEES! Since the crowds were so crazy, we decided we should just stay put or try to move closer to the stage during the next speaker, which was Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs. I wasn’t especially interested in seeing him, but actually he gave a really funny, interesting talk about how Dirty Jobs got started, his upcoming new show (“Someone’s Gotta Do It”), and of course the benefits of learning a trade. Finally, it was time for the adult TMBG show. It was brief, but it restored my faith in TMBG’s fans! (Remember after that last show a few years ago, I thought maybe we wouldn’t be seeing them live anymore?) They performed a lot of good songs, including Spiraling Shape, and You’re On Fire, which I hadn’t seen live yet!

When we got back home, we went to check out another community band’s concert. I felt like a spy! It was good practice for my own upcoming concert… We’re in the very busy week leading up to our show…

* I have to write that in all caps every time I mention it because it was such a ridiculous amount of time.

My Best-Of 2013

Keeping up with tradition, here is my best-of list for 2013. While thinking about what to include, I felt like I hadn’t really partaken of as much media as I usually do, but I think I have enough to put something together.

Movie: The Great Gatsby
This was pretty much a no-brainer – I was excited for this movie since the first time I heard it was happening. I love Baz Luhrmann, and this film did not disappoint. Even if the rest of it were terrible, I would have still given Gatsby my #1 spot just for the Rhapsody in Blue sequence at the party, which was so perfectly done. Really, a gorgeous film.
Runner Up: The Help – Remember, this is about movies I saw this year, not necessarily that came out this year. I read this book a couple years ago, and it was coming up for discussion at my book club, so GG and I rented this DVD as a little refresher. I was impressed with how well it stuck to the original story (a couple plot points were left out, but nothing was really changed), and it was really cute and well done – even GG liked it!

TV Show: The Office
After having gone downhill the last few seasons, they really turned things around leading up to the finale. I loved the way the show ended. I believe I shed a tear while watching, which is the mark of a good show, if it gets me that emotionally invested.
Runner Up: 30 Rock – Another finale that made me cry. I didn’t actually feel it so much the first time around, but re-watching the episode, I realized that the things the characters were saying were kind of like the actors saying goodbye to each other in real life, and that’s what got me.

Album: The Lonely Island, The Wack Album
The Lonelly Island’s third album is awesome and hilarious, but unfortunately, contains more cursing than the previous ones, which means I can sing along less. I wanted it so badly, though, in preparation for a long car trip, that this became my first digital-only album purchase!
Runner Up: Janelle Monae, The Electric Lady – Yet another excellent production from Janelle Monae, and it advances the whole “Archandroid” story, but I didn’t love every song on the album… I actually only love a couple of them.

Restaurant: Tria
This was another no-brainer. Early in the year, we went to a Cheese 101 class they gave, and then this summer we were finally able to get to the restaurant to have a meal there. I don’t like the fact that they don’t take reservations (especially if you have to plan a special trip into the city to get there), but the food is amazing and the people who work there are great (as they should be, considering they are required to take food training every week)! For Christmas, GG’s gift to me was a Tria gift card, so we went back again before the end of the year (and it was enough for more than one meal, so we’ll be going again soon).
Runner Up: Oh man, I don’t know, probably Garces Trading Company or Amada again. They are both amazing and I went to both of them this year :o)

Vacation: Atlanta, GA
I didn’t really travel too much this year, and barely traveled with GG at all. I don’t even know if this should be considered a “vacation” sine it was to go to a conference for my side job, but I had a great time (despite many issues with the event), and before we even left I already knew I would be going to next year’s. Also, I flew on a plane for the first time since 2000, and by myself for the first time ever!
Runner Up: Raleigh, NC – Made a super long drive by myself to visit friends, had a great time, and once again ended up feeling kind of empowered that I can transport myself when necessary :o) Also, Raleigh is a very cool town.

October

Things that happened this month:

  • GG and I went to the Ren Faire with L and S. After a couple chilly days, it was suddenly hot and humid again, but otherwise a really nice day. We got there when it opened (J met us with discount tickets!), and easily stayed almost until closing time. Favorite events were the acrobats, magician (who GG met later as a wandering minstrel, and filmed a music video), Circa Paleo, and of course the Falconer, the coolest guy working at the Ren Faire.



  • I got a bad cold which knocked me out for close to a week, but I was kind of overdue since I don’t think I got sick at all last year. And it allowed me to skip band practice and be home to watch the American Horror Story premier. (We’ve since been DVRing the episodes and catching up when I get home from band, or the next day, depending on how late it is.)
  • We went to a Philly Food Fest thing, discovered a couple cool new products like dukkah and Jin-Ja, and aate a lot of samples. It was a fun way to spend a couple hours, though I always get kind of sad for the people at events like this who are eagerly starting a business and really pushing their products on people. (I always try not to be like that at my own vendor events.)
  • We went out for kind of spur-of-the-moment dinners at a sushi place we like and the Melting Pot, just because we can. I also made us a nice dinner at home one night featuring olives, cheese, bread, olive oil, and charcuterie (as one of my friends said, “Very Euro!”). And we visited the new Shake Shack in town on their opening day!


  • I was very pleased with the outcome of Project Runway – I totally called it for Dom after the bowtie challenge, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s from Philly :o)
  • We killed two birds with one stone and took at overnight trip to Lancaster. Friday night was GG’s debut performance at a comedy club out there, and a few of our friends were able to come out and see the show! We went out to Denny’s for a snack afterward.



    We spent the night there, and then Saturday was spent at my alma matter for Homecoming. I had a fun day with friends and had a great time reminiscing about college and seeing all the changes that have happened in the last ten years! The recently remodeled library is now open, and since L and S used to work there (that’s where they met!), we got to go on a tour. We also talked our way into some of the new dorm rooms to see how the kids are living these days (they get their own bathrooms! not to mention carpet and air conditioning! spoiled!). And I got a new MU sweatshirt :o) The nicest thing was that, since we’d spent the night before out there, I hadn’t had to get up insanely early to drive there in time for the parade. So I wasn’t overtired by the end of the afternoon, and was even able to drive us home without requiring caffeine (can’t say the same for GG, though, he slept most of the way ;o) )


  • I got a copy of Janelle Monae‘s “Electric Lady” (her performance on SNL reminded me that it had been released!), and while I was at it, went back and got “Metropolis,” too. The first track of “Metropolis” explains everything. I kind of had a handle on the story, but if I’d just heard that in the first place, it would have all made so much more sense! Anyway, “Electric Lady” is another great album, though more laid back, for the most part, than “ArchAndroid.”
  • Stay tuned for a post on what we did for Halloween night!

“I know that I’m in danger when I think about it, let’s think about it”

It’s been a busy end of summer!

  • Finished my summer concert series.
  • Thought my dishwasher was broken but really there was just a part stuck so it wasn’t filling with water (the guy didn’t even charge me to un-stick it).
  • Flew on an airplane for the first time since 2000, and flew by myself for the first time ever.
  • Spent three days at an awesome conference… The best part was networking and meeting other people, and luckily the place was so overcrowded that I could meet people everywhere! A lot of people seemed to stick together in groups but I spent a whole day pretty much on my own because I got separated from the other girls I was with, and it was actually so great to be free to meet other people! Came home totally inspired and ready to get to work!


    Photos cannot express how huge and crowded this event was.
  • But… We decided to leave a day earlier than planned and drive through the night, so my first day home was spent sleeping!
  • Had some great parties and built my team (I will promote to the next title this month)!
  • Developed a bit of an obsession with nail stamping. I’ve started a blog to document my creations, but not really sharing it because while the nails look great, my cuticles are always such a mess, nobody wants to see that…
  • After catching them on the Late Late Show, we went to see the Bad Rabbits perform… If nothing else, this taught me that I should not be trying to stay out past 10 PM. I was bad at it at 21, and I’m definitely worse at 31!


  • My department moved to a new building at work; I’d spent 8 years of sitting on the same building/floor (minus a couple months when I was exiled after our merger). It’s all on the same campus, but the vibe in our new location is very different; it’s an adjustment for all of us. The first week we were here, I suggested we have an hour where nobody complained about the new location. It worked in that there were no complaints, but basically nobody said anything for an hour :o)
  • Got through yet another regulatory inspection at work (the European version of the one we had in May/June), but not without panicked weekend report-running.
  • Took GG out for a nice dinner to celebrate his birthday. Of course, he guessed where we were going well in advance, and I wanted to keep it a surprise, so I blindfolded him and drove him around for 45 minutes before we got to the Capital Grille, which is more like 5 minutes from our house. He was totally confused, excellent :o)