Early Adopter

Originally I had titled this post “Things I’ve been doing since before they were cool,” but that sounds like I’m such a hipster. Although there are lots of things that I’m late getting into (e.g. I didn’t have a smartphone until, like, forever), I feel like there’s a lot of things I’ve been doing that have only recently become very popular.

Greek Yogurt: GG and I were talking the other night about how Greek yogurt has really taken over. At our regular supermarket, Greek yogurt probably fills about 2/3 of the yogurt case, and even the regular brands seem to have a Greek version. But I have been eating it for years! When I started eating Greek yogurt, you couldn’t even get it at the regular supermarket, they only had it at specialty stores like Trader Joe’s. And there was one flavor: Greek! Want honey in it? Add in your own honey! I like that there are so many options and it’s so easy to get now, but I’m sure the trend will die down eventually. (I hope Australian style is the next trend – that stuff is delicious!)

BB Cream: I used to read this makeup/beauty message board and years ago they were all going nuts over BB cream, this lotion/foundation/SPF combo coming out of Korea. It was huge in Korea and there were many brands to choose from, that you could order online. I picked a brand and purchased a sampler pack so I could try out six of their options. The differences were so minimal, I actually made myself a spreadsheet to track what each bottle said and what my impression of each was! Anyway, I ended up choosing a favorite and ordering a full-size bottle, and I’ve been using it ever since! Of course, now every mainstream makeup company has their own version of BB cream (and now there’s “CC cream” and other iterations).

Quinoa: This is another food that I discovered long ago at Trader Joe’s – thank you for helping me be ahead of the curve, TJ’s! I remember cooking quinoa back in college, circa 2003-2004. There are people today who have never heard of or tried quinoa, even though it seems to be in everything lately!

Edamame: I found this in high school (around 1999-2000?) from – guess where – Trader Joe’s! I used to get the bags of frozen edamame, cook it all up at once, and store it in a container in the fridge, to snack on with a little salt. I specifically remember one time I went to the movies with a friend and we sneaked in our own little containers of edamame in a backpack for a snack. I was just talking to someone recently who had never tried edamame (or quinoa)!

Etsy: Per Wikipedia, Etsy launched on June 18, 2005. Looking at my profile on the site, I joined on Dec. 15, 2005. I actually did a bit of selling back in the olden days – first little things that I had sewn, then I got into knitting adult and baby hats, and I also started sewing cloth pads. Someone asked me to knit a red and white Where’s Waldo had for a costume one year, and that led to my selling thirty-three more (I just counted) over the next couple Halloweens. I probably could still sell a bunch at Halloween time, just through people searching for them, but the site has changed a ton since it started. You used to be able to launch and promote your business solely through the site; now you really need to establish and market yourself outside Etsy, and just use the site as your shopping cart application. I still do shop there frequently for gifts and and for myself!

Homemade Hand Scrub

I love a good hand scrub. I haven’t used any for a while, and I had this jar hanging around, so I thought it would be a fun project I could do on my own. I found these basic recipes and mixed up my own batch, using mostly things I had on hand. (I did buy a bottle of grapeseed oil – you can use olive oil, but it might smell too strong.)

So here is my recipe:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Epsom salt
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Transfer into a jar.

The great thing about this is that it’s so versatile. You can use more sugar (for a finer scrub), or brown sugar, or kosher salt, or whatever you want/have. I used vanilla because it smells nice and I have some, but you could use any essential oil, lemon, etc.

It works great, and my hands feel so soft (but not greasy)!

“So, do you like… stuff?”

Some stuff that’s happened since my last update:

  • I’ve been planning on the weekends and cooking dinner every weeknight (except Fridays, that’s our night to go out now). I’ve also been doing well with coupons and sales – not Extreme Couponing well, but I think a 25% savings off the total bill is pretty good. I’m also not wasting as much food, since I’m planning meals ahead and not just randomly buying stuff I think we will eat that week.
  • The weather got nice. Then got rainy. But it’s still significantly warmer than before.
  • I got the cutest pouch custom-made for my MP3 player. All I told suezybees was that I wanted gray felt and that I wanted a cat on it – other than that, I liked her style and trusted her artistic vision. I love it!
  • I’ve been enjoying watching a pared-down list of TV shows – as series end, I haven’t been replacing them, and in fact I’ve even stopped watching new seasons of some shows I used to watch.
    • 30 Rock remains awesome.
    • I thought I was going to hate Will Ferrell on The Office because he was going to be a Michael Scott rip-off, but actually he’s turning out to be a jerk and I love it!
    • Fringe is getting a little crazy, especially after this last episode that was a total rip-off of Inception and randomly included animated segments (?!).
  • I’m getting very excited for new albums from TMBG, Tally Hall, and The Lonely Island.
    • But, sub-note, TMBG is really annoying me lately. I went from seeing them live at least once a year for several years, to not seeing them since new year’s eve, 2008, because all they do anymore is kids’ shows and albums. And now they’re on Twitter, but they are so annoying there, it’s pretty much not worth following them. Their 1000-member “instant fan club” was just about the last straw for me. You’ve been warned, TMBG.
  • I’m crazy busy at work. Oh wait, that’s not news.
  • MB and A had their baby!! She has fuzzy hair! She’s beautiful and I can’t believe they now own a child.
  • Ivan and Katrina went to the vet for a check-up and both have lost a couple pounds in the past year! My “feed everyone out of their own bowl” diet plan is working! The vet was very pleased, and Ivan is now under 20 lbs. (barely!).
  • Band has been ticking me off, but I’ll stick it out. Blah.

Mostly about stuff I ate and listened to this weekend.

Did a bunch of stuff this three-day weekend and took no pictures! So imagine everything…

Saturday morning I got up relatively early to do some errands, then came home and watched a movie with GG. His friend had lent him the DVD of Perfume, and told him it was pretty messed up. It was! (I don’t understand why dead girls make a better perfume than a willing live girl..?) We went out to Houlihan’s for dinner, because when we went a few weeks ago we got these coupons that they open at the table and you can win $-off your meal, a free appetizer, or one of several grand prizes. They’re only good in January, though. We got the same coked-up waiter we had last time, and won a free appetizer. So that was fun, but it cancelled out my potato soup (which is pretty much the only thing that keeps me coming back to Houlihan’s, haha!). Then we watched Saturday Night Live – Gwyneth Paltrow was really good! (I loved the Globe Theater Previews sketch and of course Andy and Pee-Wee’s Night Out.)

On Sunday we went to the mall for lupper, then later on headed into the city to see Eli Paperboy Reed at the North Star Bar. GG has been really into this guy ever since we heard an interview with him on NPR a few months ago, and saw that he was coming to Philly, so we got tickets. He opened with a cover of “Ace of Spades” (not our show, but they apparently put on the same show every time, so it’s close enough) and closed with Come and Get It (encore: (Doin’ the) Boom Boom), but besides that it was really not my crowd, and let me put it this way: the other songs were good, but they were no “Come and Get It.” However, I can now say that the drummer really is that happy all the time – through the whole performance, and in the bar before the show!

We had the day free on Monday because of the holiday, so GG looked online for stuff we could do, and decided he wanted to go to the Philadelphia Home Show. (Why? I am not sure. We’ve been to the Home Show a few times in Valley Forge and it’s always lame.) He bought tickets online to save a couple bucks, and then we planned to catch the train in, but we’d just missed one and there wasn’t another for an hour, so we just drove. It was cheaper to pay for parking than for two round-trip train tickets, and this way we weren’t bound to the train’s schedule anyway. So yes, it was pretty lame. GG was somehow talked into buying a kit to clean his sneakers (however, he amused and impressed the shoe-shine guys with his knowledge of the Nike Air Jordan line). After that, we went across the street to the Reading Terminal Market (aka GG’s Heaven on Earth) for lunch. We ended up eating at Profi’s Creperie, which neither of us had been to before, but it was very good. Our savory crepes were followed up with fruit smoothies, and then we headed home.

We got a little snow last night, followed by sleet and freezing rain this morning, and my office was actually closed until 10 AM. At that point, my workday would be almost half over, so I decided to just stay home for the day. I feel like I’ve been the office about two days in the past two weeks! (Actually, at the end of this week it will be five days in two weeks – not bad!)

“When this gray world crumbles like a cake, I’ll be hanging from the hope, that I’ll never see that recipe again”

Hmm, what did I do this week? Well, Monday and Tuesday I worked, work is crazy, stayed late, bla bla bla, this is my new life. After work on Monday I went to the mall to drop off a bunch of jeans at the Gap to recycle. I ended up with six coupons for 30% off a new pair of jeans that I will never use because I don’t need six new pairs of jeans before they expire on Oct. 20. So if anyone reading this wants a coupon, hit me up! I got a couple pairs of their 1969 jeans a while ago and they are really nice! After work on Tuesday I went to visit my grandmother for a little bit and then did some errands on my way home. They re-organized my Trader Joe’s again! I guess the new layout makes more sense, but it was all confusing and I couldn’t find anything, plus going after work is just a really bad idea in the first place, it’s so crazy in there.

On Wednesday I worked from home, watched a couple Chilean miners get rescued, and made Peppermint Pattie brownies. They are okay, but didn’t turn out as awesome as I was hoping. Also, about the miners: they were underground for two months and now these guys are going to be set for life, they’re getting all kinds of freebies and opportunities, etc. Meanwhile, we have soldiers coming back from Iraq after getting shot at for the past year, and where’s their free Oakley sunglasses, wedding dresses, trips to Graceland, etc.? However, as a friend at work pointed out (and her husband was in Iraq for a year with the National Guard and is currently in Lithuania for a month), people in the military have volunteered to do that job. Oh well, I think the miners are awesome and all, I just think there are a lot of other people who could stand to receive the same admiration. Wednesday night I went to band practice. I really want to be excited for our upcoming concert because we are playing some very awesome pieces, but we’re still at the point where we suck and I’m kind of not into the whole poster/program design thing anymore, so band is really just a bummer lately.

Oh also somewhere in there I was making Where’s Waldo hats non-stop. I might do one or two more, but otherwise I think I’m about done for the season.

Thursday I had an excellent dental check-up and cleaning. Seriously, best ever. I give all the credit to my electric toothbrush. I’ve been using it for a couple years now, and my teeth have continued to improve. Then I came home and set up camp on the sofa to watch 30 Rock live (which was awesome – it was like one giant SNL sketch, which I guess was sort of love-it or hate-it, but I loved it), and The Office. So now I have to catch Project Runway and Fringe over the weekend.

Tonight GG and I went out for dinner. We were going to go to Chik-fil-A in the mall food court because I had a coupon for a free chicken sandwich, but the entire food court was walled off! They must be fixing the floor that was damaged in the flood a couple weeks ago (lots of stores in the mall are still closed!). So we walked over to the Court, thinking we’d get pizza, but at the last second decided to go to Legal Seafood instead. Of course, there are only 3 things on the menu that do not include seafood. One was a $33 filet mignon, and I was not about to spend that much on dinner (even though I’ve had it before and it was awesome), so my realistic choices were chicken or beef tips. I had the beef tips, which are cooked over hickory planks or something, and they were amazing. GG was in heaven with his spicy calamari and swordfish. Then this incredibly annoying family came and sat next to us, so I was so relieved to leave because I think I would have permanently damaged my eyes from rolling them so hard at the mother in this group.

Tomorrow will be a long-ish day, but Sunday should be relaxing and next week will hopefully be a little less busy at work… I say that every week now, though, don’t I?

License Pictures, B-Day Dinner, Purses

Had a nice day yesterday … GG and I went to renew our drivers licenses. Somehow we ended up on the same renewal year schedule! And because our birthdays are a month apart, we can go at the same time. I actually love my new picture, it turned out so nice! I think because I smiled… last time I didn’t smile, though my hair looked pretty cool. GG hates his photo though. I think he looks fine! But he says he looks like a little Asian boy, haha!

I’m still pretty stuffed from dinner last night. My mom and I took my grandmother out for her birthday. She’d wanted to go to Red Lobster and I was like, “Seriously Grandmom? You’re not paying, you’re not driving, we can drop you off at the door so you don’t even have to worry about how far it is from the parking lot – and you pick Red Lobster?” So we came up with a list of nice places to go, and she ended up choosing Marly’s. I was worried she and my mom wouldn’t like it, but actually everyone loved their dinners! And we ended up eating a lot – plus dessert! I had the hanger steak with corn and edamame risotto that I got when GG and I were there for Valentine’s Day – and I need to figure out how to make that risotto! It was so much more flavorful and creamy than when I do it at home! Afterward we walked down the block to a little gift shop, then we drove home through the park and saw tons of deer – including little babies!

Also, I ordered a purse online from Shop Suey yesterday. It was a little more than I usually spend on purses (still cheap, since most of mine come from Ross or Target!), but I justified it by figuring that if I sell 2-3 Waldo hats this season, I’ve covered the cost! (And speaking of purses, for her birthday, my mom got my grandmother this beautiful red Brighton tote. Not my style, but perfect for Gramom! And the cutest part was that she kept talking about how much her cousin would like it the next time she went to visit her – haha!)

Crossed Off the Color-Coded Spreadsheet

I had a super productive weekend. GG was away for the weekend, so while I was home by myself I did a bunch of work around the house that we’d been putting off (for, oh, five years…).

On Friday night I was going to start painting stuff, but first I had to stop at a couple places on my way home, and then make dinner. I was just so exhausted after the crazy week I had, I passed out on the couch for three or four hours after that. Okay, so Friday night was out.

Saturday morning I got up bright and early and decided that I wouldn’t let myself do anything else until I’d painted this big unfinished wall in the basement. (The other walls are all drywalled, but this one was concrete with peeling paint on it.) I didn’t bring my camera down so I didn’t get any really good before and after pics, but here are a couple shots from my cell phone. Anyway, I was down there all morning, just listening to NPR, and didn’t come up until 1 PM, when I finally got a shower.



I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, though I did take a break from that later to finally paint the bi-fold doors covering our washer and dryer. We had new doors put on about three years ago, but I never painted them, so they just had that matte primer finish, and had gotten all grimey and dirty. Now they’re semi-gloss white, and look great! GG said it looked like we had brand-new doors!

On Sunday I got up early to go out and do all my errands, so I could spend the rest of the day working at home. I went food shopping, and got yarn to make a custom hat someone ordered (yes, I started listing stuff on Etsy again last week, and sold two hats last week, plus had more custom requests). I came home, had lunch, and made my hat. Then I went back to the basement to paint one more section of wall I hadn’t done the day before. When GG got home, he helped me move some furniture so I could paint the last of the pipes in our living room that I did to match our walls. They look so nice now – yet another project that’s taken five years to do. Then we spent the rest of the evening in the living room, with our laptops, watching TV, until I fell asleep and decided to go up to bed.

Overall, I’m happy with my progress this weekend. I combined all our little to-do lists onto one big spreadsheet, and we really just have a couple little things to do, plus a few bigger things. I keep thinking of stuff to add, though..!

Showcase, TV, T’giving

Tuesday and Wednesday I paid for slots in the Gifts for Him Showcase on Etsy, which has been featured on the front page, so I figured it would be some great exposure and worth the money. Well, no. I had all my hats lined up in there, because they are great gifts for guys, but while I gained a few shop and item hearts, I only sold one hat in the two days I was featured. Disappointing. That was my first and probably last time buying Showcase spots. Oh well.

GG and I bought our Christmas gift for each other, and it should be here next week! After a lot of research and shopping around, I got what I think is a great deal on what I think is the best TV for us, a good sized LCD TV. (But really, anything would be an improvement over the tiny thing we have in the living room right now.) I can’t wait to have people over to watch movies, maybe host a Super Bowl party..!

I don’t get my Thanksgiving dinner until tomorrow, so I’m just hanging out at home today. I made pancakes for me and GG for beakfast, and later on I guess I’ll make some late lunch/early dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Digital Cable, Phillies, Waldo Hats

A couple weeks ago I got a card in the mail from Comcast (our cable company) saying that a few of our channels were going to become digital-only, but standard cable customers (which we are) could still access them by just getting a free digital box from them. So I called them up and ordered the box (actually 2 boxes, one for each TV), but clarified that we weren’t upgrading our service, just getting the boxes so we could continue to access the same channels we already had. They said yes, that would be the case. So the boxes arrived yesterday, and I set up the one in the living room. Then I had to call and activate it, and again confirmed with them that we hadn’t changed our service.

It took about an hour for everything to be downloaded and activated, and then I started playing around with it. We have an on-screen guide, which is pretty awesome. And then I discovered we have OnDemand! Then this morning I turned the TV on to check the weather forecast, and discovered that the channel was now BBC America?! And there’s a bunch of other new channels we never had before. So… I will be making a call to Comcast later today just to confirm that we still are paying the same thing. Hey, if it costs the same, I will gladly take the extra features! GG and I were browsing through the list of OnDemand movies (free!) yesterday and it was pretty impressive.

So the Phillies are in the World Series, which is pretty awesome I guess. I don’t know, I don’t watch sports. But the first game was last night and we had band practice during the game, so everyone was wearing their red and Phillies t-shirts, and once the game started everyone was using their cell phones and PDAs to keep the band updated on the score. I just looked it up, looks like we won!

I briefly mentioned it a couple weeks ago, but I just made about 9000 Where’s Waldo hats for people on Etsy. (Most of the work came from D, so thanks, dude.) It was pretty intense for a week or so, but the work is trickling off now. Last Friday I shipped out like five. Today I have one to send, and I have to pick up some yarn to make one more. It’s been fun, but I’ll be glad when Halloween is over and I can go back to making hats nobody wants to buy. (Though doing the pom-poms was fun, I might start incorporating them into some of my hats…)

Fancy Atlantic City Weekend

We just spent a very classy weekend in Atlantic City. What happened was, we heard Anthony Bourdain was going to be at Caesars on Sunday afternoon, so we thought we’d go out for that, but then GG found out Jackie Martling would be at the Marina on Saturday night, so he wanted to see that, get a hotel room, go to Bourdain the next day, and then come home. It is very expensive to get a hotel room on a Saturday night in AC! The few times we’ve done it before, we usually end up staying at some creepy place on Black Horse Pike. But GG checked Expedia and found this “boutique hotel” for less than $200 for the night, so he booked it.

So Saturday afternoon we showed up at our hotel, The Chelsea. Um, it was amazing. While we were checking in, GG mentioned that rooms at the casinos were going for $500 for the night, and apparently, that was the rate for a room at The Chelsea, too, if you were just coming in off the street that day! Not only that, but we had reserved one of their “lite” rooms, but that section of the hotel was still under construction, so we were upgraded to a “luxe” room. We took the elevator up to our room on the 17th floor, and it was so fancy! When I first walked in the door, I thought, “Hollywood Regency” (hey, that Domino magazine subscription is good for something!). Lots of graphic patterns, clean lined furniture with elegant details, and white animal sculptures (bird lamps, in our case). And the bed! We took a 2-hour nap right away.

Our hotel room

Around 6pm, we went downstairs to check out The Fifth Floor, which is where they have a night club and their restaurant, Chelsea Prime. Silly us, showed up in our jeans and without a reservation. Luckily, they were very nice to us and said because it was so early we didn’t really need a reservation. We still felt bad about being underdressed, but our waiter was so cool! He was like, “Hey, see that table over there? They’re wearing sweatpants.” (Still, 99% of people there were dressed very nicely.) The waiter was awesome about explaining everything to us, and even making suggestions like splitting the side vegetables (which we did – you ordered everything a la carte). We had the most amazing dinner. GG got a steak, which was covered with this charred salty crust – so good! I had roast organic chicken which came in the most delicious sauce. And we shared asparagus with hollandaise sauce and whipped potatoes. GG tried their signature Chelsea cocktail, which I think had vodka, vermouth, prosecco, cucumber, and mint. Then we had to get dessert – he had a bread pudding with brandy-soaked cherries, and I had the best creme brulee I’ve ever eaten, topped with this delicious pile of berries.

I could say so much more about the hotel, but instead why don’t you check out this really nice Chelsea Hotel review on HotelChatter (be sure to check out their related articles, too, they go more in-depth on the restaurants, night club, and other amenities).

After dinner, we went back to our room, got changed, and headed to the Marina to see Jackie. Our seats kind of sucked. I don’t really understand the layout of their comedy venue, The Shell, but half the seats basically are facing away from the stage because of the way their tables are set up. (And of course, we got the backwards seats.) GG’s friend Brian met us there, and it was us three plus these seven really rowdy guys sitting at the table. Basically, the audience was mostly Howard Stern fans, and as soon as Jackie came out they kept shouting “Hey now” and other Howard-related stuff. He just told dirty jokes for an hour straight, then he did “stump the chump,” where people set up a joke to see if he could finish it (he could), and he brought some women on stage to try to stump him, too, but mostly just to make uncomfortable. Even GG was surprised by what he was doing to them, and we were both glad I didn’t go up there.

Coming back to the hotel at night

When we got back to the hotel after the show, we decided to check out the night club, because one of the valet guys told us the party doesn’t get started up there until 1am, and it’s crazy. He must’ve been right, because it was about 11pm when we stopped by, and it was mostly just people hanging around. We walked through the whole area before getting back on the elevator and going up to our room. “Good Night and Good Luck” was on TV, which GG wanted to watch, but I think we both fell asleep immediately.

Sunday morning we ordered breakfast to our room – a beautiful tray of pastries and fruit with coffee and juice. We were taking our time getting ready and checking out, because we figured we’d just go straight to Caesar’s in time to see Bourdain. But then he mentioned that we could kill time at The Pier, this mall connected to Caesar’s. I hadn’t been there for ten years – since the last time I marched in the Miss America parade (which would have been 1998, since we didn’t go due to weather in 1999). It used to be this sad little mall. Now it’s a really classy mall, with pretty much the same stores we have at KoP, and a third floor with some nice restaurants. We walked the entire mall before getting lunch at the AC outpost of The Continental (there are two in Philly). GG saw this Green Submarine sandwich on the menu and knew I had to order it, since it had avocado, sprouts, and other yummy veggies. So good. GG had a burger. Then we went to check out this fountain show. Apparently this is the world’s largest indoor fountain display, and it was really awesome! The fountains, lights, and music were choreographed really well, and it was very modern and unique. I took a few pictures, but they don’t really do it justice. If you search YouTube for the fountain show at The Pier at Caesars in Atlantic City, there’s tons of videos. Probably the neatest part was that in addition to the fountains spraying up from the pool, there’s also something in the ceiling above it that sprays out water and mist.

After stopping in this giant candy store called It’Sugar (seriously, it’s like the FAO Schwartz of candy), we crossed the boardwalk back to Caesars and headed to the Circus Maximus theater. Honestly, I was a little disappointed in this show. The theater was huge, it was just not what I’d been expecting, and also it was packed! I didn’t realize there were that many Bourdain fans! 100 audience members were doing this VIP thing where after the show they would get to meet Tony and he would prepare a dinner. If I’d known how far away we were going to be, I would’ve brought my glasses, because for all I knew it could’ve been any skinny guy in a chef’s jacket up on the stage. Luckily, they had a couple cameras on him, which were being displayed on large screens behind and on either side of the stage. So he cooked a couple things (some sort of scallops with mushroom sauce, and duck a l’orange), and Carlos Llaguna (executive chef at Les Halles, Bourdain’s old restaurant) was there to assist him! That part was kind of boring, even though he did talk a little about some stuff while he cooked. The he took a few questions from the audience, which was much more interesting, even though most of the people asking questions treated it like this really formal thing, like, “Mr. Bourdain, in your book you mentioned bla bla bla, what is your opinion on bla bla bla,” that sort of thing.

As soon as the show was over, we booked it out of there, back to the car, and on the road. I slept part of the way home. We got home a little after 4pm, and the kitties had missed us! Also, they ate almost all the food I’d left out for them, which was more than I’d expected. We were only gone about 26 hours! I spent the rest of the evening doing laundry and making hats! Who would’ve guessed Waldo was such a popular Halloween costume?! Also, there was a No Reservations marathon, so I watched more Bourdain..!